Camping as a Vegan 101

Last week I went on my first camping trip of the season, and  it also was my first time going as a vegan! To be honest, I was a little bit nervous about being surrounded by all the glorious grilled meats that once made up my past memories of summer. The hardest challenge for me was giving up my mom’s delicious BBQ. My mom is most famous for her lemongrass marinaded beef short ribs and chicken wings. That is what my friends, family, and I enjoy all summer long at all our gatherings. This trip I was able to find vegan prawns from Happy Veggie, which I asked my mom to marinade in a vegan-friendly version of her lemongrass marinade. The vegan prawns are made from potatoes and soybeans, and look identical to cooked prawns, it even has the white and orange colour to them! They have the texture of both squid and prawn combined. They absorbed the lemongrass marinade perfectly and I gladly ate them, while my friends enjoyed my mom’s signature short ribs and chicken wings. Phew-that temptation was kicked to the curb!

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As for the rest of my meals I prepared a lot of them ahead of time, making it easier to consume while in the wilderness 🙂 I prepared a beautiful fruit salad using pineapple, grapes, mango, apple, peach, and orange. Packing it in a tightly sealed Ziploc bag ensured it would remain fresh for the four days of camping. I discovered this amazing apple, cinnamon, and almond granola created by Love Crunch. Oh my goodness I have to tell you it is the best granola I have ever had. It is $6 for a bag of 500 grams. It is a bit on the more expensive side for granola, but oh boy is it worth every penny. For breakfast I would have a huge plate of my fruit salad, topped with my Love Crunch granola, an ounce of maple syrup, and a healthy amount of cinnamon. The maple syrup really helps the cinnamon adhere to the fruits. It was such a delicious, fresh, filling, and easy breakfast to have while camping.

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Another menu item I prepared ahead of time was a nice big salad. I had a Ziploc bag of my arugula and green lettuce tossed together, and then a separate bag for the other salad toppings. The second bag consisted of whole cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and sliced red onions. I meant to throw in cranberries and/or sunflower seeds, but completely forgot. I brought one of my store bought vegan dressings, and also prepared a homemade vinaigrette using maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and a blend of italian dry herbs. Bringing both dressings was a great idea to keep my salads exciting for the next few days.

Right before leaving the city I had to make one very important stop at…Fairy Cakes! Fairy Cakes is a vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, peanut and nut-free bakery. I knew watching my friends have s’mores would give me major cravings for something sweet and chocolatey, even though I never enjoyed s’mores. I bought vegan chocolate chip cookies and nibbled on those every time I had a sugar craving. I do have to say the vegan chocolate chip cookies from Edible Flours in Kitsilano were far superior to these from Fairy Cakes. The only reason why I decided to try Fairy Cakes was because it is 5 minute drive, compared to a 20 minute drive to Edible Flours. Fairy Cakes’ cookies I found to not have that chewy softness you look for in a good chocolate chip cookie, as well they were a tad bit chintzy on the chocolate chips, and that is a BIG NO-NO! I honestly think there were 5-7 chocolate chips in each cookie, and that is just unacceptable! Edible Flours’ cookies were moist, soft, chewy, and filled with chocolate love. Both cookies are priced at $1.5/per cookie, but I will now vow to drive the extra 15 minutes to get cookies from the bakers who are doing it right!

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 These are chocolate chip cookies from Edible Flours-all I have to say is the ones I had from Fairy Cakes looked nowhere near this good!

Here are a few other food items I enjoyed while camping:

  • Tofurky’s Spicy Italian Sausage: I really appreciated the italian seasoning on the sausage to give it bit more dimension. The one thing I did not like about it was the casing of the sausage. It was quite rubbery and would separate from the “meat” of the sausage once cooked. I paired my sausages with ketchup and Vegenaise.
  • I purhcased bean burger patties from Happy Veggie for my trip as well. They had a good flavour to them and crisped up very nicely on the grill. I ate those with just a little bit of ketchup and was very satisfied.
  • Grilled vegetables were a staple in my camping diet. I marinaded zucchini, portabello mushroom caps, and whole carrots in extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I paired those with a rich balsamic glaze and was a happy vegan camper!
  • Steamed vegetable packets: I prepared sliced zucchini, mushrooms, peppers and onions in aluminium foil packages with slices of a homemade herb butter. This made it very easy to throw the vegetable packets on the grill and let them cook. The homemade herb butter consisted of a blend of dry herbs, lots of garlic, diced jalepenos, and of course Earth Balance’s vegan butter. I also used this herb butter to dress my corn on the cob…..mmmm they were scrumptious!
  • For snacks:I prepared a homemade guacamole with tortilla chips and of course Lays’ All Dressed chips, which are surprisingly vegan-friendly.

All in all, I would say my first camping trip as a vegan was a huge success! 😀 I was eating great healthy food the entire trip, and not once was I worried I would not have enough food. I actually had a great time meal planning and finding new alternatives for my past love of BBQ meats.

Progress Report #2

 


doctor-clipboard PROGRESS REPORT #2

  1. How many days of adopting a vegan diet have I accomplished?
    I am on my 30th day of eating vegan-I have yet to slip!

  2. How do I feel today?
    I definitely feel better today than compared to the last few days. I am more mobile and energized.  I am not too sure why but my joint pains have been excruciating the last few days.

  3. How is my energy level?
    My energy level today is great. I have had a very busy day of errands, and have yet to feel like I need a nap. No complaints on energy levels today! 

  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how prevalent are my Lupus symptoms? Joints? Skin? Fatigue? Kidneys?

    My rating: 3-4 today, 8-9 the last few days

    Joints: Today I feel well, but the last few days have been absolutely terrible with my joint pains. I don’t know what might have triggered it, but my morning stiffness has been the worst its ever been. My whole body ached-from my neck to my fingers and toes, and every other joint in between. I was waking up in tears, not being able to roll over without feeling like my bones would crack or shatter. Lately, I haven’t been able to do very much at all in the mornings, like tying my own hair or carrying my purse. I am trying to be as patient with my body as possible by letting it soften up naturally.

    Skin: My scalp rashes have honestly disappeared since I started eating vegan-it’s unbelievable! I had a few when I last posted a progress report, but right now I have NONE! 😀 As for my butterfly rash across my face it is still the same and barely noticeable, which I thought would never happen unless I saw a dermatologist and spent hundreds of dollars on skin treatments. 

    Fatigue: Fatigue has not been affecting me like it usually does, since I started eating vegan. I feel great waking up and having the energy to conquer my day. Feeling confident that I won’t need to schedule time for a midday rest in my day is very empowering.

    Kidneys: Still no swelling at all since starting veganism-this is absolutely wonderful! I remembering having to watch what I ate, so my legs wouldn’t double in size and make it difficult to walk. Happy happy happy!

  5. Have I displayed any new symptoms? Good or bad.
    In the last week I have been experiencing extreme joint pains on and off. I don’t know what might have caused this.I have to admit some days I wanted to take my steroids to alleviate the pain, but instead I decided to just let it go away on its own. Eventually the pain did subside. I’ve just had to continuously  listen to my body and allow it more time to rest.

  6. How long have I been off my steroids?
    It has been 27 days. Although this week I have contemplated a couple times on taking my steroids to help me through my morning stiffness, I did not take any of my medications or any others. I wonder if my extreme joint pain is a withdrawal symptom from my steroid? Because I have been on these steroids for 8 years my body has become so dependent on them. My body is probably freaking out right now finally experiencing the true extent of my body’s pain and having to deal with it naturally.

  7. Have I learned anything new to adopt in my natural approach?
    I discovered my love and appreciation for some good quality maple syrup! Before I started eating vegan I hated maple syrup. You would never catch me eating a pancake or waffle, just because I hated maple syrup so much. Now that I cannot have honey, I replace it with maple syrup in all my recipes that call for a little bit of sweetness. Maple syrup is a staple in my homemade vinaigrettes, over my fruit salad and granola, and in my breakfast smoothies. Maple syrup is delicious and such an easy substitution. 

 

Dining at Heirloom

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This week I got to experience the delicious vegan-friendly menu at Heirloom on West 12th Avenue. The first thing that caught my attention was the beautifully simple and rustic decor. The restaurant has a laid-back, comfortable, yet elegant style. It’s the sort of place you would want in your local neighborhood, where you can have food from brunch through dinner at.

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The menu consists of organic and and fairly traded ingredients. The main mantra they strive for is a local and world conscious initiative. They have a fabulous organic wine list and they support great local small beer crafts. The cocktail list is very fun, unique, and whimsical. On their list of natural refreshments the E3 lemonade caught my eye, it consists of e3live blue green algae, fresh lemon juice, honey, and sparkling water. Now that is how you make a virgin drink fun!

I ordered the roast veggie sandwich, which came with a side of their house green salad tossed in a sweet dijon vinaigrette. It was absolutely delicious. The sandwich contained roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, alfalfa sprouts (which I am crazy about!), a grainy dijon sauce, a chick pea spread, and a walnut cheese. The walnut cheese was really what sold me. I was excited to have something as close to the real deal as possible! All of that deliciousness for $13.95

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I would highly recommend Heirloom to vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to try something new! The restaurant setting and its decor is more than enough reason to go check it out! They definitely live by their mission statement of “We make good choices”. They showcase that in every aspect of the restaurant; the food, wines, cocktails, and right down to the decor.

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Progress Report #1

I figured the easiest way to share my experience with you was through answering a detailed questionnaire that I created, focusing on how my vegan diet has been interacting with my Lupus. I will blog weekly sharing my progress reports with you. It will be the same set of questions every single time, so that you can see the improvement and changes to previous weeks, and as my journey continues.

Please keep in mind my future progress reports will not be this long, I promise! With this initial one I needed to go into more detail about my symptoms and what I usually experience on a daily basis, so that you could fully understand my medical background.


doctor-clipboard PROGRESS REPORT #1

 

 

  1. How many days of adopting a vegan diet have I accomplished?
    I am on my 22nd day of eating vegan, and I am loving it!

  2. How do I feel today?
    I feel pretty good today. I feel light and airy…like physically. I never would have used those adjectives to describe how my body feels, but it really is how I feel! I am very happy with the progress I have made and my commitment to the vegan diet.

  3. How is my energy level?
    My energy today is quite stable. It is better than normal, so I can’t complain. Fatigue is a huge battle I have been struggling with over the last year. I could remember a few years ago I would be juggling 2-3 jobs, working 2-3 weeks straight with no days off and I was completely fine. Tired, but fine. Now if my fatigue sessions kick in, I struggle to get out of bed. I’ve had episodes where I would stay in bed for an entire weekend being completely drained and exhausted from just lying in bed.
     
  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how prevalent are my Lupus symptoms? Joints? Skin? Fatigue? Kidneys?
    My rating: 3-4Joints: After the first 4 days of my vegan diet I noticed a dramatic change in my joint pains. The mornings are when my joints are the stiffest, especially in my hands. I would struggle to tie my own hair, or squeeze toothpaste on my toothbrush. It felt as though my fingers would break if I applied any pressure to them. By midday they would warm up and be more mobile once my steroids kicked in, which took  a few hours. Over the last couple days I have noticed some of the stiffness in my hands and hips has returned, but again still better than the normal amount of pain I am use to.

    Skin: I get scalp rashes that turn into very itchy scabs. It is extremely annoying, because I can’t help but itch them and pick off the scabs. The amount of rashes on my scalp has definitely decreased since starting my vegan diet. It’s fantastic! I also have a very common symptom of Lupus, which is called the butterfly rash. It is typically characterized by the appearance of rashes across the cheekbones and over the bridge of the nose. I have always been very insecure about my butterfly rash. I would never leave my home without some makeup on to hide it. A few months ago I found an all natural moisturizer containing only six ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, and propolis extract. Yes, I know beeswax is not a vegan product-I have yet to make the full transition in the all the products I use as well. Since starting this all natural cream I have seen a tremendous improvement in my butterfly rash. It is not as red and noticeable anymore. For the first time ever I was comfortable wearing no makeup around my boyfriend of almost two years!! That tells you how insecure I was about my rash. With the vegan diet I can see my skin and my butterfly rash continuously  getting better. It seems to have lessened the severity of my rash, which I am so grateful for. The fact that I can feel comfortable leaving my house, or being around my boyfriend without any makeup on is truly a wonderful feeling that I thought I would never have.

    Fatigue: Over the last twenty days I would say my fatigue has definitely improved. I have yet to experience another morning where I wake up and realize I cannot leave my bed that day, and have to cancel all the plans I had. It is extremely exciting!! 🙂 Some days I can feel my fatigue slowly lurking up on me, but when it does I just try my best to listen to my body and stick to more relaxing activities, like reading.

    Kidneys: The problems that I face with my kidneys is a great amount of water retention in my legs, and a loss of protein in my urine. My nephrologist recommended I cut down on my sodium intake, because that would increase the water retention I experience. Before I would eat a bag of chips and immediately see the swelling in my calves, ankles, and feet. Since starting my vegan diet I have yet to have my legs swell up once! Yay for no more pregnant lady legs! 🙂 I still have been eating chips, and yet still no swelling! As for the loss of protein, I won’t know those results till I call my nephrologist and ask. I get routine lab work done every month to monitor my blood count and urine to ensure everything is stable.

  5. Have I displayed any new symptoms? Good or bad.
    I have been experiencing this new symptom of ‘lightness’ – it’s fabulous! I have yet to have a food coma, which I use to have on a weekly basis. Food coma: when you experience sleepiness, tiredness, and sluggishness after a big meal. Lightness is the complete opposite. Lightness: when you experience lightness physically, a boost of energy, and a feeling of content and satisfaction following a light and healthy meal. After my meals I feel energized, it’s fantastic. I feel as though I have been cheated all those years feeling sluggish after a meal and like I need to take a nap. How is that logical? Why should I feel the need to sleep after a meal, when eating food is your source of energy?? Now that I am eating the right way I get to experience how my body is at it’s optimal level. I will gladly take this symptom everyday of the year!

  6. How long have I been off my steroids?
    It has been 19 days. Eeeeek this is surreal!! All my medications have a warning label that says, “Do not skip doses or discontinue unless directed by your doctor.” I remember when I would miss a dose – oh my goodness it was not good. I would have severe stomach pains to the point I wouldn’t be able to leave my bed. I would feel sick and completely off all day. After the fourth day of my vegan diet I wasn’t noticing anymore pain, so I decided to stop my steroids. Since that day I have experienced less of my symptoms, it is absolutely crazy!

  7. Have I learned anything new to adopt in my natural approach?
    One of my best friends took me to a wonderful vegetarian and vegan market near her neighborhood called, Happy Veggie. We discovered great meat substitutes for me, which I was quite excited to try. Since going vegan I have not experimented much with meat substitutes as my protein source. I have been sticking to legumes, tofu, quinoa, and my organic brown rice protein powder. This market had freezers full of vegan products! I purchased vegan tiger prawns, which were made from potatoes and soybeans. They look just like the real thing and have the texture combination of squid and prawn. I absolutely love them. They take on any flavour you marinade or dress them in. I also purchased vegan dumplings, vegan lemon chicken, and vegan bean burgers which I have yet to try. Finding these new vegan products will help keep meals exciting for me!

 

My Story

Hi,

My name is Chaufa. I was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of fourteen. I have been living with Lupus for eight years now. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. Simply put, my body cannot decipher between my cells and bad (foreign) cells, so it attacks everything. Lupus can affect any part of the body. My disease affects my joints, kidneys, blood, and skin. The last eight years of my life have been an emotional roller coaster. Some days I am overwhelmed with sadness and pain, and other days I am grateful for my Lupus, because it has moulded me into the strong woman I am today.

If there is one thing all my friends can agree on, it is that I am a control freak. I have a Type A personality, am extremely organized, and always wanting to be in control. The greatest thing I have learned living with Lupus is that I have no control over how my disease manifests itself. It is a continuous pattern of discovering what my Lupus is affecting now, seeing a specialist, doing a bunch of medical tests, and then being prescribed medication and steroids to treat it. It was the same routine for my joints, kidneys, blood, etc. The treatment was to keep taking steroids for the rest of my life and to add on more medications as my Lupus affected more parts of my body. Currently I take four different types of medications. Three steroids to decrease joint inflammation, skin rashes, stabilize my blood count, and to keep my Lupus in remission. The last medication I take is for my kidneys. It helps reduce swelling in my legs, water retention, and the amount of protein my urine rids of. In total, I take seven pills a day. To this day there is no cure for Lupus yet.

In the last couple years I have been taking my disease more seriously than I ever have. Finding out at the age of twenty-one that my Lupus was damaging my kidneys was a surreal moment and a real eye opener for me. It solidified the fact that my Lupus was a real disease and it was affecting my body negatively.  For the first time ever I kind of lost hope. 

Over the last couple months I have been doing a lot of research on veganism. I have read books, watched documentaries, and researched studies. Through all my various resources the same conclusion was being shared-that people all over the world were reversing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis just by solely changing the way they ate. People were switching to a whole foods plant-based diet and curing themselves of diseases. How could this be possible? As I continued my research I began learning about farm animals and their upbringing. In this day and age we need everything faster and better than past generations; technology, products, services, and food was no exception. Farm animals are being injected with ridiculous growth hormones that make them grow exponentially. Animals are tripling in size in such a short time span that their legs are not able to grow and maintain the weight of their bodies any longer. It is completely unnatural and cruel. Farm animals like cows are no longer out in the fields and chewing on green grass all day. They are cooped up in tiny stalls filled with their own excrements,they are unable to move, and are fed the remains of other animals. Discovering this made me feel absolutely disgusted with myself. Whatever chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones are injected or sprayed onto these animals, and whatever disgusting food they are fed, we ingest that all when we eat meat. This is when everything started to make sense for me.

Reading about all these people who cured themselves of diseases by adopting a vegan diet truly inspired me. I finally found something I could do for myself and my Lupus. Something that I had complete control over that nobody could take away from me. This blog follows my journey on a vegan diet in the attempts to reverse my Lupus and the damage it has done on my body…one step at a time.