Living Vegan In Charlotte, NC – Easy Vegan Recipes – Vegan Restaurant, Product, and Cookbook Reviews

Resolve To Be Joyful!!!

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013!

It’s a brand New Year again!

And, once again, I’ve been reading “New Year Resolution” articles on the internet and in The Charlotte Observer.

I’ve observed the taglines splashed across the covers of women’s magazines as I wait at the checkout with my collard greens, jalapenos, and black eye peas.

“A WHOLE NEW YEAR – A WHOLE NEW YOU!”  “DIET AND LOSE WEIGHT!”  “EXERCISE AND LOSE INCHES!”     “LEARN TO MULTI-TASK EFFICIENTLY!”  “STICK TO YOUR BUDGET!”  “ERASE YOUR DEBT!”  “GIVE YOURSELF A HEAD-TO-TOE MAKEOVER!”  “LEARN TO BE HAPPY!”

WAIT A MINUTE – I don’t WANT a “whole new me!”  Maybe a slightly improved me.  A more self-actualized me.  But new? – No, after all these years, I’ve kinda gotten fond of the old me.

Same for my friends.  Maybe they’re not perfect – but I love them anyway!  That’s why they’re my friends.  I don’t want to have “whole new friends.”

And – yowza!  Those aren’t even MY resolutions, but I’m stressed out just by reading them!

It’s no wonder so many New Year’s resolutions fail.  Those articles don’t make me want to diet or exercise or save money.  They make me want to blow my budget on chocolate, junk food, wine, and the latest bestseller, then hop into bed with all the aforementioned (plus my dog) and stay there a week.  At least.

Bedtime

Yep, staying in bed with my dog until all the “whole new you” sh*t blows over.

Life is short.  It’s supposed to be joyous.

PLEASE make sure you have some resolutions/goals on your list that will make you joyful.

Resolutions and goals that you are actually looking forward to doing.

I’ll share some items from my own 2013 list so you can see what I mean.

(Not that everything on my list is exciting and fun!  I have some career goals.  Some really boring resolutions, too – Floss.  Take vitamins every day.)

But let’s see what I am looking forward to …

Blogging.  I am REALLY looking forward to spending time on my blog again!

When I started this blog last year, I knew little about blogging.  I just knew I loved to write and had a lot I wanted to say.  I was p*ssing off my omnivore friends on Facebook with my vegan musings, so I started a VegCharlotte Facebook page.  That didn’t give me the space to expound and carry on as much as I’d like, so I started this blog.

Now that I’ve been blogging for awhile, I know the direction I want for this blog and have several exciting changes planned.  I’ve also got several series/themes I’m looking forward to writing this year!  One is the VegCharlotte Awards, where local vegetarians and vegans voted on their favorite restaurants/restaurant meals in about 20 categories.  Not only am I looking forward to analyzing and writing about the results, I’m looking forward to going to these local restaurants and trying all these yummy recommendations for myself!  And, of course, writing reviews to share with you!

Reading for Fun.  I have always enjoyed – nay!  LOVED reading – but in 2012 it seemed I mostly read textbooks and cookbooks!  Time for some escapism!  I browsed Amazon’s and Goodread’s lists of “Best Books” and polled my friends for their “all time favorite books,”   and wound up with a number of books I’d love to read.

So many books, so little time!

Some people say reading is an escape from living – I’ve always thought of it as kind of a double living.  A way to experience different ideas, upbringings, cultures, experiences, histories.  A way to expand your consciousness, expand your empathy.

And this resolution – the thought of all these books just waiting to be read – really excites me!

Your Takeaway:  Especially if you are a new vegetarian/vegan, it can be very easy to get caught up in reading vegan books, like Diet for A New Planet; Eating Animals; Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows … It’s important to include some fun stuff, too, on your reading list so you don’t burn out.

One of my bookshelves.  Can you tell I like to read?

One of my bookshelves. Can you tell I like to read?

Cooking Goals.  For the last several years I have concentrated on learning to cook traditional, authentic Indian food.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed going back to recipes my mom used to make and “veganizing” them, as well as veganizing other American South classic comfort foods.

I’ve also had fun creating a sort of “Indian-American” fusion cuisine – curried split pea soup; spicy sweet potato soup with Indian spices; masala veggie burgers.

And, I’ve been going back through my dozens of veg cookbooks, picking out something totally new and random to try every now and then.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s fun to experiment.

In 2013 I’m planning to continue with those trends.

Your Takeaway:  As a vegan (or an aspiring one!) there’s really no way to get around cooking for yourself.  So, find some ways to make it fun!  “Veganize” your family recipes; purchase a few new cookbooks geared to your skill level (the Happy Herbivore cookbooks are wonderful if you are new to cooking);  learn to cook a new cuisine (Thai? Italian?  Mexican? Indian?).

Or, resolve to upgrade your kitchen with a few items that will make it more fun to cook – A new blender?  A juicer?  New pots and pans, maybe?  One of the best purchases I ever made was a set of Rachael Ray cookware – beautiful blue porcelain enamel nonstick pots and pans that really did provide “perfect even heat” and had clear lids.  They made cooking soooo much more pleasant.

rachael ray blue

Photography.  Photography’s a passion of mine, that I haven’t spent much time on lately.  Soooo … my 2013 Resolutions include several photography goals, including:

  • Keeping one of my many cameras with me always and taking at least one picture per day.
  • Learning how to use my Cannon Rebel I’ve had for several years but never used much (mainly because it is so bulky).
  • Taking more food pics for my blog.  I adore photographing landscapes, nature, animals.  Taking pictures of food is not my first instinct – writing stories about the food is.

Your takeaway:  Is there a hobby or passion you’ve put on a back burner?  Set a few goals for getting this passion or hobby back into your life.

west virginia

West Virginia

niagara falls

Niagara Falls, Canada

rest stop

Rest Stop in South Carolina

Yoga.  I used to have a daily yoga practice.  I’m not sure what happened (besides life, stress,  injuries, illness).  But I do remember I absolutely f*cking adored yoga.   I even signed up for yoga teacher training once; then that particular school cancelled the training classes.

So, in 2013 I’m going to make yoga a part of my life again.  I’m not doing it to gain strength or tone up or reduce stress or improve health – although I know all those things will happen.  For right now, I’m going to do it just because I know it will make me feel great and I know I will enjoy it.

Same with running.  I used to love to run.  As a child, I used to run, endlessly, in circles in my back yard like a puppy – with my puppy Chou Chou joyfully running beside me.  I was the “fastest runner in 6th grade” – able to beat any girl or BOY in a race.  I ran track in junior high.

And I ran on and off as an adult.  I ran down dirt path country roads with my then-boyfriend’s pit bull, George.  I ran through the Garden District in New Orleans at sunrise.  I ran on the beach.  I ran in my own sprawling, hilly, suburban neighborhood.  I am very warm-natured, so usually I’d stop running in the summer and take it up again once the cold weather came.

2013 will find me running again.  It won’t be immediate – I badly injured my left foot in the fall, and it’s still healing.  But it will happen, and I will enjoy it.

Your Takeaway: Instead of thinking about losing weight or inches or “working out,” focus on finding some physical activity you actually enjoy doing.  

For example, if you don’t like working out with weights, maybe you might like Pilates or yoga.  Can’t stand Stair Masters, elliptical machines, or treadmills?  How about running, swimming, tennis, biking?  Perhaps you hate aerobic dance classes but have always secretly wanted to take ballroom or salsa dance lessons.  How about just walking outside some every day, maybe with your dog, getting some fresh air and taking different routes to avoid boredom?  And maybe walking the greenway or taking a hike on the weekends.

If you’re already in a structured workout program that’s working for you, think of ways you could make it even more enjoyable – whether that’s enlisting a friend as a workout buddy, buying new workout clothes or equipment, signing up for a competition, finding a gym closer to your house, or cross-training in something completely different.

Some Notes About Vegan Goals:

Going veg was one of the most life-changing, life-affirming choices I have ever made.

It’s improved my health, increased my compassion, and expanded my spirituality.

If you are thinking about about taking the veggie plunge – I encourage you to do it!  You will NEVER regret it.

And if you are already vegetarian or vegan – examine what new goals you might be able to set for yourself.

  • Maybe 2013 is the year you start standing up to your family and friends when they tease you for not eating meat.
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you come up with a really good, short speech when people ask you why you are vegan.
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you realize many people are not going to like or understand your choice, but you do deserve to have your choice treated with respect.  And you will eliminate from your life those people who do not give you respect.
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you get involved in some kind of activism.  A walk, a protest, writing letters to your lawmakers, signing or maybe even starting a petition …
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you hand out some leaflets on vegetarianism at your church, temple, or gurdwara.  Or maybe you introduce your church leaders to the Humane Society’s Faith Outreach program.
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you start being kinder to yourself and stop beating yourself up for not being “perfect” – for giving in to a craving or accidentally eating something with an animal product.
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you will be kinder to others who are not as far advanced along the veg path as you.  Please be patient – I think every step a person takes along the veg path is a good one, and most vegetarians do eventually become vegan or near-vegan.  Especially if the vegans they know are kind people who are quick to help instead of criticize.
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you will donate some of your time and money to a vegan cause or animal rescue.
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you will join a vegetarian Meetup group – and actually attend a meetup!
  • Maybe 2013 is the year you will vote in the VegCharlotte awards (hint, hint, hint).

Wishing everyone a year filled with light, love, laughter, and all that other good stuff!

Oh, and joy, too.  May you have plenty of joy.

Catherine

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VegCharlotte - Living Vegan in Charlotte, NC by www.VegCharlotteNC.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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