Why Yoga and Meditation is Not Enough


active-adult-aerobics-864939.jpgOften times in spiritual spaces, there is a belief or notion that to sit or to practice yoga is enough to change society. But when Gandhi spoke about “being the change,” he didn’t stop there. He went out into the world and made the change. Humans are multi-dimensional creatures and so it seems true that our journey towards awakening is also complex. Why wouldn’t we awaken to different degrees in different areas of our lives, including physical, emotional, creative, spiritual, sexual, and last but not least, social? In my own life these various awakenings have impacted each other and overlapped. And I have also found it true that each area has also required a clear and unique practice. For example, as I began yoga and meditation, these meditations made me more mindful of how my body felt after eating sugar. However, it didn’t necessarily help me realize the behavioral patterns I’d developed as a child in order to use sugar as an emotional crutch.  As Rabbi Rami Shapiro put it, “I wouldn’t go to a therapist for spiritual advice or to my spiritual teacher for therapy.” His comments point to the need for attention, effort, practice, and development in all of the complex areas of our experience.

Just as Shapiro also warns that spiritual teachers become dangerous when they haven’t invested in knowing and transforming the ego, I’ve seen the harm that is caused by spiritual teachers and practitioners who are not on a path of social awakening. After the current president was elected, I was in yoga classes where white teachers offered their teachings in ways that completely ignored the suffering of people of color. I’ve also seen teachers offer practices in ways that did not honor the cultures or traditions from which they came. I’ve also heard spiritual teachers speak about transcending identity in ways that are akin to spiritual bypass and less than helpful.

In “Rhadical Dharma” Angela Kyodo Williams identifies the path of transformation of a “social ego.” To understand the social ego is to understand how collective consciousness works. A group of people that have come together for meditation has a very different energy and level of consciousness than those who come together to watch a baseball game in a stadium or to have a drink in a bar.  With this in mind, we might begin to understand collective consciousness and how social systems were established as a result of the collective consciousness of those in power. We might begin to understand whiteness and masculinity in terms of dominance and ego. Social consciousness, then, is a fine attunement to how the collective works, just as another facet of our individual awakening is attunement to how our own mind works.

Yet many practitioners and teachers are still not even yet aware that they are even part of a collective consciousness, or a collective for that matter. Some of us have not awakened to our collective identities, especially race and gender. Others choose not to explore it and ignore this aspect of awakening. However the path of awakening is available to us all.  We can all study our social systems to understand the evolution of genocide, slavery, racial terrorism, Jim Crow, the immigration system, mass incarceration and policy brutality. We can all find teachings in the poetry of Maya Angelou, the art of Frida Kahlo, the songs of Celia Cruz, the speed of Jesse Owens, and the movement of Fifi Abdou.  We can all strive to clearly see the suffering and joys of the collectives, as well as our history as it lives in our present day.

We need to cultivate our social understanding and development to move towards a more enlightened society. One of my spiritual teachers, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, said “In order to save our planet Earth, we must have a collective awakening. Individual awakening is not enough. That is why one Buddha is not enough.” Some of my other teachers, including Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa, also embody the path of social consciousness and give guidance in this area through their social activism. “Let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments,” the Dalai Lama said when responding to questions about terrorist attacks. We can’t expect God to do the dishes or to solve our social problems. These teachers recognize that while certain practices help us transcend the individual ego, there is still work to be done to transcend the social ego. So if we truly want to follow a path of enlightenment, where we are awakened in all the dimensions of our existence, we cannot ignore the path of social consciousness. And while we also temper this with compassion for ourselves and others and honor where we are on all of these complex and intersecting paths, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to get on the mat, or on the cushion, or write that letter to our legislator. If we want to see social change we have to develop a practice to transform the social ego.

To Be Alone and To Be in Love

pexels-photo-207962We are born alone and we die alone. No one can experience this with us or for us, even while we all go through it. Yet, we fear this experience of being alone.

What does it mean to be alone? The word’s latin origins are solus, sole, only, one. To be one with everything and everyone is the true lover’s aim: oneness. But in our fear of being alone, it seems we are actually afraid of oneness. We are afraid of ourselves.

So we distract ourselves. We run from ourselves. We seek that which is outside of ourselves for love and support: the lift and release of a glass of wine, the heaviness of a full meal, the warm embrace of another, chocolate melting on the tongue, even a spiritual text…In all of these we run from ourselves and from our aloneness. We think we will find refuge from the world. We want the pre-birth experience of utero. We want to be fully held in love, supported by a life force bigger than us. But this life force, this love and support is within us. It is found only when we are truly alone, when instead of reaching for the remote or the phone, we get in touch with the channels of energy, the ecosystems of sensation and emotion churning inside us. When we notice the silence beneath the sound, and find the stillness within our own bodies and being.

In this moment, we face the fear of being alone, and we find that not only are we alone—soly, one—we are also loved and supported by everything around us. We stop discriminating. We stop making ourselves too small and our idea of love too narrow. We stop seeking love in one form and forgetting to see it in the millions of forms it is being offered in this moment.

The oxygen entering through the nostrils, given to us by the sprawling oak trees that line the streets. This is love and support.

The beat of the heart, a mysterious pulse of energy, a cosmic spark of life that animates us. This is love and support.

Each and every cell that knows exactly its work and place. It does not question what to do or if it is good enough. It holds the knowledge of every one of our ancestors from the beginning of time. Their love and support.

The ground beneath our feet. The gravity that holds us in place while the plant turns and loops wildly in space around the sun. The love and support of Mother Earth.

This life force, all around us and in us, is the love we seek.

Look no further than your own breath and being.

Be alone.

And in being alone you will be one with everything, connected to your true self. Don’t be afraid to be alone. To be alone is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Even while we sit at the dinner table with friends chatting and clinking their silverware against the plates, while we walk the aisle of a busy grocery store, while we listen to the day’s stories of our beloved. We can find ourselves. We can find the still point. We don’t lose ourselves in the chaos of the world around us, in the memories of the past or the fantasies of the future. We stop grasping for the comfort or seeking a place to hide. We enter the world more fully, more authentically because we are no longer afraid of it, afraid of ourselves.

Instead, we shift to a way of looking at the world that sees its goodness and beauty everywhere and in everyone. We live among the gods, those who also know how to live alone while holding space for us. We see love everywhere, in the blue sky and blooming flower, so that we no longer have to look for it. We feel it in the smile we offer to a stranger. We feel it in our fingertips as we type an email to send out to the world. We find it in the moment we decide to sit on the cushion or move on the mat.

Love is here. Now. It is in our aloneness, in the very place we wanted to run from.

So we stop running.

We stand in love. Stay in love.

We fall in love with ourselves and within ourselves. In this place that is protected, dark, and small, bound by flesh and bone. And in entering this place, we open to the entire universe. We try to find balance in the space where form meets emptiness.

Like birth and death, we must be here alone. No one can experience this with us or for us, even while we are this, like waves in an ocean. We are love. We are alone.

To be alone is to be in love.


Now, dear one, enter this space of love. Go into your breath, your body. Bring your attention to the sensations and feelings within you.

Receive the support of your breath, the support of the earth beneath you.

This sense of truly being alone, and at the same time connected, is how we love ourselves.

With each inhale, receive. With each exhale, surrender.


Changing the Script on Injustice



The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, the nature of the weapons, and the nature of our own being are the same. – Thich Nhat Hanh

My friend, Jennifer, and I had an interesting tug-of-war with words after I commented on the term ‘illegal alien.’ I was sitting on a bright red rug in her home, while she sat in a nearby chair, bending her head over a pot of steaming water to relieve congestion. She’d been sick the past few days, and her blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

“I participated in a racial reconciliation circle last night and I couldn’t believe someone used the term ‘illegal alien’ in a racial reconciliation circle,” I complained. As provoking as that was for conversation, the real reason I’d mentioned this was to show progress compared to my usual rage. I’ve often played the role of the angry Latinx in those situations. And working in the social justice field, I often find myself in them.

“I was triggered and angry,” I explained. “It was dehumanizing and hurtful. But I also had compassion for her ignorance.”

I was looking for empathy maybe, or congratulations even that I could catch a glimmer of something beyond my own anger.

“Well, it’s not really ignorance,” Jennifer replied. “Because that implies that there is an active ignoring. It’s ‘inexposure’. I’ve used the term ‘illegal alien’ and didn’t know it was wrong.

I felt a flash of irritation. I didn’t want Jennifer to have compassion for the woman, but for me. After all, I was right.

“Well, I think there’s a responsibility to learn. We have access to a wealth of information,” I pointed out.

“Yeah. But too much information,” she countered.

I could feel the heat rising in me, so I brought my attention to my breath, deepening my exhale.

“There’s a responsibility on both sides. To both learn and teach. We’re in this together.”

I paused. In the space of another exhale, I called on the wisdom of James Baldwin in his piece, Letter to My Nephew. I chose my words carefully before speaking again.

“In all his compassion and forgiveness of Whiteness, James Baldwin called it neither ignorance nor inexposure, but simply ‘innocence’. Perhaps that’s how I should see it,” I said. In a way, I felt I was conceding, or at least avoiding an escalation.

The conversation veered in another direction. But I continued to think about the discussion, how Jennifer and I ended up playing out—in microcosm—the social dynamic of race, a script for a thousand situations I’ve seen or been in:

Person of Color: Wants racial injustice and suffering to be seen and recognized. Has energy of passion, anger, righteousness.

White Person: Usually unintentionally (but sometimes intentionally) dilutes, defends, or denies the injustice. Has energy of resistance, defensiveness.

Person of Color: Becomes angry with the White person because he or she has refused to acknowledge or validate the injustice and thus their pain.

White person: Becomes even more defensive.

Of course, it’s a much more complex dynamic, but it’s also that simple. And it’s fascinating really. Blindness is the fuel injustice needs to survive. That blindness, innocence perhaps, or more harshly, ignorance is the destructive force itself. White people are not the problem. The problem is in the many attributes that White people take on as a result of their whiteness, meaning their access to opportunity and ability to shape and control American social and cultural norms. One of these attributes is the blindness to the day-to-day challenges that people of color face as a result of racism. Unawareness of the problem maintains the problem. If we don’t see the suffering, we don’t have to fix it.


            A few days later, I was still mulling over how to have compassion for the person whose foot is on our throats, who doesn’t even know his foot is there– the person who doesn’t know that the word they just used has gouged at a wound, who has created a wall between them and my loved ones. Naturally, the instinct is to fight violence with violence. To meet hate with love, as Martin Luther King and Gandhi instructed, is so much more difficult.

One morning, I woke up and meditated as usual. The air was chilly, and the light was still soft across the wooden floorboards as I sat cross-legged with my attention on my breath. In my meditation I envisioned a circle of light, compassion, and love. At the end of the time, I rose, did some yoga and ate a bowl of warm oatmeal. I was readying the water for a bath when a realization came to me.

What I realized was that our lack of awareness for the suffering in society is the same as a lack of awareness about ourselves. Conversely, the same process by which we raise our level of social consciousness is the same as raising our awareness of ourselves. The collective body does not function very differently from our individual bodies, and in either case, if there is a wound we are ignoring, or that we don’t see, then it affects the health of the entire body. An infected cut causes fever in an individual’s body, so we must clean, bandage, and apply salve to it. Racism causes discord in the collective body, and we must treat it similarly.

Awhile back, I attended a City Council hearing concerning the removal of confederate monuments. The council chamber is decorated in 70s-esque wood paneling, from the floor tile and council benches to the waist-high barrier that divides the councilmembers and the audience. The blue curtain hanging from behind the council bench attempts regality.

That night the audience was large, over a hundred concerned citizens seated in pockets of segregation. The majority of those in favor of removal of the monuments were Black residents, and the majority of those who opposed it, were White. Black residents spoke about the pain, hurt, anger, and the psychological damage of passing by the monuments every day. A number of White residents scoffed at the idea of removal, asking the council to focus on more important issues such as the poverty and violence in New Orleans.

It was clear the White residents weren’t able to see the living history of racism embodied by the monuments. They weren’t able to see that the same racism embedded in the monuments was also embedded in the policy structures that were causing the poverty and violence about which they were complaining. The statue of Jefferson Davis overlooking Canal Street not only was a stamp of approval of slavery, but also of separate but equal, Jim Crow, red-lining, the prison industrial complex, and all other policies, past and present, that have created a racial caste system. Most importantly, they couldn’t see that if they helped to elevate the poorest and most vulnerable, everyone would prosper.

We have to look deeply at the world around us to liberate all of us. Likewise, we have to look deeply at ourselves to understand and liberate ourselves. These are one and the same, and we treat the suffering in the world the same way we treat it in ourselves. Just as I become angry at other’s blindness, I’ve noticed I am also intolerant of any sign of ignorance in myself, so much that I often outwardly transmit an energy of firm knowing, firm-believing that comes off as arrogance. Of course, with deep looking I see that I am actually just afraid of not knowing and what that might say about me. Likewise, perhaps my friend Jennifer treats the anger and discontent in herself in the same manner as she treats the anger and injustice of the world.

Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh advises that we should treat our negative emotions or mental habits like a mother would treat her crying baby, embracing and soothing it with careful presence. So that when I see ignorance in myself, I can smile and offer forgiveness. So that when we see anger in ourselves, we can relieve it. If we could learn this skill for ourselves, then we would know how to treat each other. We could change the script:

Person of Color and White person: Sees and recognizes the injustice and suffering. Shows compassion. 

Person of color: Sees that the burden of change is shared. Feels some relief, gratitude even.

White person: Is part of the solution.

When we learn to love our own suffering, whether it is ignorance or anger, we are also learning to love each other and the world around us with all of its flaws. And when we take care of each other, we are showing love to ourselves. With this compassionate awareness we can heal ourselves and the world one interaction at a time.


Love Letters for Change

letter-mail-mailbox-postboxWe often compartmentalize social justice and spirituality. But love letters are a practice where I feel I can combine the two. For me, the purpose of a love letter is to cultivate understanding and compassion towards the person’s unawareness or suffering, and to also bring peace to myself by speaking out. I have found that when I remain silent about injustice, there is a subtle harm that I create in my own consciousness. It is the harm that comes from acting in way that is not in alignment with my principles: when I look away from the man on the side of the street, lying on his back; when I scurry past the elderly woman asking if someone could give her directions; or when I swerve my car into the opposite lane to avoid the beggar at the intersection.

Of course, we are all allowed a certain number of failings. But, if I’m consistently ignoring the suffering of others, one of two things happens: either I start viewing myself differently or shifting my principles. In the first instance, I might stop thinking of myself as compassionate. I feel like I’m letting myself down. On the other hand, I might stop believing that one should do those things to be compassionate. At times in my life, I’ve stopped believing in compassion altogether because when I wasn’t practicing it myself, I no longer had a framework for it. So, when we stop speaking or acting out against the larger injustices of the world, the harm is to ourselves.

Additionally, when we do speak or act, it must also be in a way that creates love and understanding if that is what we are asking for. Cornel West said, “Justice is what loves looks like in public.” So if we are asking for more love and understanding in the world, we must also know how to create it. Love letters are a way to call upon the love within ourselves and bring it into the world.

When I write a love letter, I take a few deep breaths and close my eyes to begin. I get in touch with my breath, body, and my feelings. I don’t try to argue or think about the issue from an intellectual point of view. I let myself feel the hurt and the suffering on all sides. I ask myself, “What are the causes and conditions that has led to this person’s view of the world or actions?” This helps me understand the fear, the anger, and the good intentions of those who are causing harm. Sometimes the good intentions are hard to see or imagine, but if I look deeply, I can see them in the person’s love of his mother, child, or country.

I’ve written a number of love letters, especially to our current President, his administration, and my elected officials. And I will continue to write more. Sometimes, I’ve had to revise the same letter a few times because there was still anger in my words or wording. Sometimes, those feelings have been there still when I send it, but at least I know I’ve done the best I could. I remember it’s a practice. It’s a practice of individual and social change. It’s a practice of finding the power within me—the real powers of love and compassion—so that I don’t feel apathetic or numb. It’s a practice of transforming the suffering in myself and in the world.

Here are a few examples of love letters from the past year:

Love Letter to Richard Spencer, White Supremacist


Love Letter Regarding the Dakota Pipeline
(February 2017)

Hello Dear Assistant Secretary Owen. Sending you wishes of love and peace in this challenging situation you are facing regarding the decision of the Dakota pipeline. There are many views on both sides of this issue. But beneath those views there are certainties. In particular there is the certainty of a history that we cannot ignore. This is a history of committing great wrongs against the indigenous people of America because of greed. As a nation we still live with the consequences of these actions, because when we harm another out of greed, we harm ourselves. I ask you to please stop harming our indigenous brothers and sisters. Please give them the respect and freedom they have deserved since the beginning of this country. Please respect their sacred land. Please do not put them in further harm’s way when there could be vast and dire consequences from the potential of leaks at Lake Oahe crossing. Please respect the Standing Rock Sioux’s rights. I urge the Army Corps to look at routing alternatives. Beneath all of the views, there is a path to loving each other better.

Love Letter Regarding Anti-Immigrant Legislation to Ban Sanctuary Cities
(April 2017)

Dear House Administration of Criminal Justice committee members,

Thank you all for your commitment to the safety and wellbeing of all people here in the state of Louisiana. I know that in our modern times, we often feel fearful about rising crime and the violence we see, and that it is a lot of responsibility for you to create laws that protect us from crime and violence. However, these laws must not be derived from fear of people who are different from us. There is no such thing as people who are different from us because we are all the same and the “rule of law” must be love and kindness. Historically, this has not been the case. Many of our immigration laws were written from a place of fear and thus our immigration system itself is a product of fear and a sense of separation.

HB 135 does not recognize that that the immigration system itself is problematic, and instead attempts to punish municipalities for their conscious efforts to not perpetuate a broken system. In doing so, HB 135 will simply perpetuate the fear, discrimination, and sense of separation that is embedded in our system. For that reason, I ask you to vote no on HB 135.

We must come together from both sides of the aisle to address the immigration system and the fears that are embedded in it to truly have a system that works for our country and embodies principles of compassion, kindness, and wise discernment. We must figure out a just and compassionate way to provide opportunities for the immigrants who come here seeking to better themselves, their families and our nation. But a “get in line” and “rule of law” mentality is not helpful when the line and the rule is unjust and broken.

Thank you for your careful reflection on this. I wish you all safety, happiness, and freedom, as we wish this for all beings.




An Eating Meditation for Thanksgiving

I offer this practice of eating meditation so that you might use it for Thanksgiving, or any other day.  yun_8033To eat mindfully is to give thanks. The mindfulness is the expression of gratitude.

To begin, I shut down all my electronics, set a timer for twenty minutes, and give my full attention to eating my food. First, I look at my plate. I offer gratitude to the food and all the causes and conditions that came together to make it possible. I try to see the sunlight and the soil in the food, to imagine the earthworms and the rain. I think of the person who might have picked the vegetables, the truck driver who transported it, and the cashier who sold it to me. I tell the story of the food, and I try to see both its joy and its suffering. I see that we have all worked together as a community to manifest this food, and that it was born of love. I also think about my own ancestors who have harvested and eaten similar foods. I think of my parents, loved ones, and teachers, who have made me who I am, and I see that I too, am born of love.

I then focus my attention inward, hoping that in these twenty minutes I might send myself love through the food and send it out into the world as energy. I set the intention of transforming any fears of lack and cultivating generosity towards others and myself. I then send out a wish for all people to have something to eat. I also acknowledge that my way of eating impacts them too, and that it impacts the earth. Finally, I set an intention for the food to fuel my service to others in helping make the world more equitable.

This takes only a few minutes, and I often use what are called “The Five Contemplations” offered in a Buddhist tradition to cover all of these aspects of my meditation.

Afterwards, I begin to eat. I try to focus on each bite, chewing slowly and tasting all of the flavors of the food. When I realize I’m distracted by thoughts, I simply bring my attention back to the movement of my jaws and teeth, the weight of the substance in my mouth. In between bites, I drop my fork and take sips of water.

Sometimes I still finish before the twenty minutes is up, and I simply notice the fullness of my belly as it rises and falls with my breathing. I feel the fullness of not only my physical form, but also the sense of wholeness this practice offers.

A Week of Self-Love: A Vegan Meal Plan

As I wrote in my last blog, people are curious about what vegans eat. In the last week, as I’ve written down some of my meals, I’ve also thought about how to best convey my lifestyle. It’s made me reflect on it as well. I think it’s important to acknowledge that my choice to be vegan is not just about a diet. It’s about taking care of myself. It’s about self-love. It might seem like most vegans are first and foremost concerned about the impact of the meat industry on the earth and to animals. That’s part of it, but it’s actually more selfish than we’d like to even admit. It’s about feeling good (albeit sometimes downright righteous) about one’s choices.

For me, it’s self-love. I don’t want to eat something full of preservatives that I can barely identity as food that is sopping in grease because it makes my body feel icky. Similarly, I don’t want to eat anything that I know contributes to the suffering of animals and our planet because it makes my conscious feel icky. Ultimately, it’s about how I feel after. And it is also about using mindfulness practices to build that awareness of how I feel after. That said, to be mostly vegan has also been a matter of finding the right balance in my diet so that my body feels good. It’s been a scientific experiment and an ongoing one. The list of meals here aren’t meant to be recipes, though sometimes I come close. They are really just ideas that might inspire you to experiment as well.


Day 1

Breakfast: Blueberry, Banana, Ginger Breakfast Smoothie
2 tbsp. peanut butter
Unsweetened milk/yogurt alternative
Fresh Ginger (about half tsp.)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Sprinkle of Turmeric
Honey (or to be strictly vegan, coconut nectar or maple syrup to sweeten)

Lunch: Sweet Potato and Black Beans with Side Salad
Sweet potato (whole or cut into wedges w olive oil)
Topped with black beans, fresh onion, vegan ranch, and siracha sauce
¼ Avocado on the side
Side salad (romaine, spinach, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, carrots dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar)

Dinner: Rice and Lentils
Brown Rice with lentils (I cooked brown rice like I normally do, except I just added in lentils because they both take about a half hour).
I added vegan butter, garlic powder, hot sauce, and nutritional yeast (but can be whatever strange seasonings you desire).
¼ Avocado on the side


Day 2

Breakfast: Non-dairy yogurt and fruit
Non-dairy yogurt (coconut milk or cashew milk)
2 tbsp. peanut butter
Sliced apples

Lunch: Black bean tacos
3 corn tortillas
Black beans (flavored with cumin, chili, and oregano)
Topped with cilantro, avocado, diced tomatos

Dinner: Quinoa and Vegetables
Quinoa and kale and corn. (or whatever veggies I feel like. I often use zucchini.)
Add vegan butter, garlic, salt, and nutritional yeast.



Day 3

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Plain oatmeal
2 tbsp. peanut butter (note, if I know I’m eating peanut butter in pad thai later, I leave this out)
Sliced apples
(I often add a little turmeric and cinnamon)

Lunch: Grilled cheese and salad
Two slices of whole wheat bread with Daiya vegan cheese
Large side salad with a tahini dressing for protein
Tahini dressing – I just combine two tbsp. of tahini with lemon juice, water, dash of salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner: Pad Thai
Cook rice noodles separately
Fry Minced ginger, garlic, and onion in coconut oil
Fry Vegetables (carrots, red pepper, mushroom and zucchini or other preferred veggies)
In a small bowl or cup mix Bragg’s Aminos or Kikoman soy sauce with peanut butter and water
Add in cooked rice noodles, sauce, and fresh cilantro


Day 4

Breakfast: Cereal and Non-dairy milk
Cheerios are great, but I’ll eat any whole-grain cereal with less than 5 grams of sugar.
Soy milk
Fruit: Usually half a banana with berries (blueberries or raspberries)

Lunch: PBJ sandwich and salad
What can I say? I eat this childhood staple a lot still and enjoy it and the protein it offers.
But if you really want something more exciting, I also sometimes eat snobby joes and cook them with tofu instead of lentils: http://www.isachandra.com/2009/11/snobby-joes/

Dinner: Haiyan’s (My dear friend’s recipe) Chickpeas and Brown Rice
Cook brown rice separately.
For the chickpeas, I spread a tbsp. or so of olive oil throughout the pan and then add in fresh chopped ginger, a touch of cumin, turmeric, cilantro, oregano, a little chili pepper, garlic/garlic powder, and onion.
I then chop up a few Roma tomatoes and add them in, along with the chickpeas for the sauce.
To thicken the sauce, I just blend some of the chickpeas in a blender and add them back in.
Avocado on the side


Day 5

Breakfast: Toast and Kale
Slice of bread with sunflower butter
Cooked kale with raisins (see Day 7)

Lunch: Buffalo Chickpea wrap and Salad
(See https://minimalistbaker.com/spicy-buffalo-chickpea-wraps/) I usually make an extra large salad and put some of it in the wrap, and eat some of it on the side. I usually add the optional avocado.

Dinner: Vegan chili
I’m sure you can find a recipe, but it’s so simple too.
2 Tbsp. of olive oil in the pan with:
garlic/garlic powder
Chili powder
Cook in chopped carrots, corn that is sliced from the cob, green or red pepper, and beans. I just use a 14oz can of diced tomatoes, and add in water.


Day 6

Breakfast: Banana Pancakes
This is the recipe I like because it’s simple: https://theprettybee.com/vegan-banana-pancakes/

Lunch: Tofu and Brown rice stir fry
I use whatever veggies sound good and just add in Bragg’s Aminos for flavor or Kikoman soy sauce. I think these particular brands are important for the right flavor.

Dinner: Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
I love this recipe and so does everyone who I’ve sent it to: http://vegangela.com/2014/01/09/coconut-curry-lentil-soup/


Day 7

 Brunch: Tofu Scramble Tacos
I spread a tbsp. or so of olive oil throughout the pan and then add in desired spices (for me usually cumin), including turmeric to give the tofu a yellow color. Then I just cook this the way I do eggs, often frying onion, green pepper and tomato into it.
1 gluten free blueberry waffle with vegan butter and maple syrup


Snack: Slice of toast with sunflower or peanut butter, Fruit

Dinner: Hummus Wrap and Cooked Kale Salad
Kale: Spread Tbsp. of olive oil in the pan, sprinkle in garlic/garlic powder and a little cumin. Add in Kale until cooked til tender. Toss in a bowl with two tbsp. of tahini.
Hummus wrap:  spread hummus onto either a couple of corn tortillas or a wheat one, with red pepper, cucumber, red onion, and romaine lettuce.


What Does a (Mostly) Vegan Eat?

1Yesterday was two weeks from Thanksgiving, and as always around this time of year, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be vegan. A lot of people look at me like I’m an alien when I tell them I’m (mostly) vegan. Not in a bad way, but a curious way, because they are wondering what I eat and how I survive. Many times, they directly ask me this. Or they begin to tell me all the reasons they could never be vegan. I listen and nod, but it’s always difficult to not try to counter their reasons, since my own experience tells me otherwise. This then creates an internal dialogue where I’m reminding myself not to judge anyone, that everyone’s body is different, and maybe it’s truly the case they physically can’t be vegan. Even if it’s not the case, I didn’t become vegan in a day and I can’t expect anyone else to.

It was actually a fairly long journey of about seven years. As I started doing more meditation and yoga, slowing down to eat a meal in silence, and just generally becoming more mindful of my body, my diet began to change. I stopped wanting red meat and pork because I didn’t want to think about the animal while I was eating it, and I didn’t like how it made me feel afterward. Every month or two I’d still eat a hamburger and push aside these thoughts and feelings, but for the most part, I just didn’t crave it.

This went on for a couple of years, where I’d eat mostly turkey and chicken. In that time, I eventually stopped eating the red meat altogether, and I was also eating less and less white meat. After another couple of years, I hit a point where I just didn’t want any of it. Granted, during that time, I actually killed a turkey and a duck myself because I decided that if I was goingto eat it, I needed to be intimate with the experience and what it really meant to eat meat. Along with killing the animals myself, I also did research about the meat industry. This wasn’t to make myself feel guilty, but to really be aware of the impact of my decisions, even if I still made the decision to eat meat.

So I get it. I do. It’s not as simple as just stopping one day. There is a back and forth, a craving or grasping, a letting go, and a grasping again, until the energy of the struggle depletes itself and we let go for good. It takes a slow and gradual aspiration to build awareness of not only one’s own body, but the collective body, and to act in alignment with that awareness.

And we might never achieve the goal. I’m mostly vegan because I still occasionally eat cheese and I also eat eggs if they are cooked into baked goods. I can’t resist a slice of cake or a scoop of gelato on occasion. This is where I am, and I accept it. For the most part I don’t bring dairy into my house because I recognize my own limitations. I’ve gone totally vegan before and I ended up becoming really righteous about it because I was actually just grouchy that I wasn’t letting myself have pizza. It’s true that misery loves company, so instead I decided I’d rather be a more forgiving vegetarian than a judgmental vegan.

So when someone tells me they can’t be vegan, I can understand the self-doubt. At some time or another we all set too-high expectations and then feel like we’re failing at our commitments. But maybe we can start with just one meal a week, and then graduate to one meal a day. Maybe several years later, with practice, it will be easier.

Practice is the operative word. But sometimes, we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, over the next two weeks, I will share some of my meals here on this blog. These meals ensure that I get sufficient nutrition, including protein. In general, I eat a protein with every meal, and often with any snacks too. Sorry, but I won’t include full recipes because most of what I eat is so simple I feel like any rookie could figure it out. Though, sometimes, I might specify if it seems questionable. But mostly, this will be the equivalent of an instagram post describing what’s on the plate. It’s meant to be a simple and gentle reminder that it is possible to eat a vegan meal. Perhaps this will help the lifestyle feel a little less elusive, or at least less alien.