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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer Vacation 2010

This has been my virgin vacation as a vegan. We've been coming to the quaint island of Chincoteague, which is located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, for more than twenty years. Aside from the beautiful beaches, nature paths, and lovely vistas, over the years, it has mostly been earmarked with "places where I have eaten."

As we began our journey on a rainy Sunday, I made certain that I was well stocked in the "vegan food set." I was prepared for this journey, and staying vegan was my primary goal. No fish, meat, artificial sweetener or piece of candy was going to get in my way. Simple as that.

For those of you who have never been to CI, it is almost lost in time. I've always found it very relaxing, but it was also a haven for eating crap and not treating myself well.

I survived a full week as a plant-strong diva. And it was easy. This is not a matter of being "90% vegan," or "I will veganize during the week," this is a strong choice to treat myself as best I can, and making wise choices about the food at the end of my fork. I am plant-strong to prevent lifestyle diseases in myself. But, also, strange things happen to you when you do become vegan...like, I cannot for the life of me wear leather made shoes or purses!! A year ago, I would have only worn leather! The other thing? Seeing animal parts at a butcher almost makes me feel as though I want to yak.

So, here's how I survived my week away from home:

1. Make a menu of the meals you will eat. You might not follow it 100%, but you have a strong scaffold for how the week will go.

2. After you make your menu, create a shopping list and head to your favorite market to get everything you need. I stocked up on almond milk, because I was sure that the one small grocery store on the Island would not carry it. I was right, too. I was sure glad that I had enough Ezekiel bread, be/c that saved me several times. Remember that ever store in the world has fresh fruits and veggies (not organic, though).

3. Take your favorite utensils/appliances. We always rent a nice house, but I was sure that they wouldn't have a Vita-Mix--and I was right. If you like your smoothies a certain way...take the Vita-Mix.

4. Prepare a list of snacks. My family likes to snack, so I didn't want to feel excluded from their snacking. My snacks consisted of fresh fruit, veggies, baked potatoes, etc.

5. My "Vegan Steven" application saved me and I was able to find ONE vegan restaurant on the Island. I treated myself to a "Santa Cruz" sandwich, which was a whole wheat roll with fat free hummus and fresh veggies! Their iced tea was made without sugar and caffeine, so I was in heaven. My family, "The Carniverous Connellys' also enjoyed the restaurant!

6. Eating out with carnivores is rough. In my family, they do not at all criticize my vegan ways, and I do not roll my eyes at their omnivore eating ways. Anyway, check the menus out on line before heading out...everyone has a salad bar and everyone makes a baked potato. That was my dinner when we ate out. I ate slowly and enjoyed the people I was with. A long time ago, I learned that you remember eating out not by what you ate, but by the company and conversation.

7. This sounds crazy, but when I eat out, I look for someone who is the "old me." This woman is eating everything in site, walking with a pained and shameful look, and wearing baggy clothing. I have this intense urge to go up to them and say, "Hey, listen, you do not have to live your life this way, let me tell you about the Engine 2 Diet and how it can save your life." One day I will get the courage to do that, and when I do, you will hear about it.

8. Eating Italian? Carry in a serving of uncooked whole wheat pasta. Ask them to cook it al dente. You'll have a great dinner, and won't feel as though you are excluded in any way, shape, or form. I do not use dressings on salads, but you could use your own salad dressing, too. You want to make this a comfortable experience for yourself, you want to fit in, but you also want to remain plant-strong and true to thine ownself.

9. Let your fellow diners that you would prefer their not ordering dessert. After wards, my family would head out to a famous Island dessert hole, and I would ask to be dropped off at our home. A nice cup of tea suited me fine. When I would look at them eating their desserts, I wanted to vomit, because in my head, all I could see was fat.

10. Do something physical everyday! I joined the "Y" for a week and went there everyday for a two hour workout. Aside from the "Y," I also exercised everyday, took kayaking lessons, rode my bike, etc. The only place I didn't see the old me was at the "Y." Oh, wait, getting into that kayak was for the newer me, too.

In a handful of words...eat plant-strong, move everyday and you will have a perfect vacation. If you struggle with your food, or know someone who does, please pass these tips along. And, always love your family even if they can't be plant-strong.

I am leaving you with this quote...and I leave you with a full heart in letting you know that you can achieve a calm and serenity in allowing yourself to be plant-strong. Getting ready to head back to Philly. Happy as can be, too!

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
Louis Pasteur


  1. Great job Char! I'm so glad you were able to adapt a favorite spot to your new plant strong life. Welcome home!

  2. you find the positive in everything!