Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eating Vegetarian: Staying the Course

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(c) Toni Boyko
Delicious Meat Substitute!
Hello again! I hope to find you all in good health, and I hope you have enjoyed my first few posts on vegetarianism. Those posts were meant to be informative and I know they were not terribly entertaining to read, but I hope you found them useful. Now, however, we need to address possibly the most important aspect of the situation. How to stay on track and motivated with your diet when temptations may arise. One thing however, I would like to say before I go on, is that, I know in previous posts I have referred to vegetarianism and alike as "diets", however, I feel that the term "lifestyle choice" is more appropriate and will from now on use this phrase to refer to them.

The beginning is perhaps the most difficult. Adjusting to any new type of lifestyle, whether it is a new school, a home, a new job, etc. is extremely stressful on the body and the mind. A new lifestyle choice such as a vegetarian diet can cause your body some stress in the first few months depending on the foods you are substituting for meat. Things such as meat cravings can occur if you are not getting adequate amounts of protein from the appropriate sources. However, in time they typically pass once you learn what you like and what your body needs.

Things like "mock meats" are great for new vegetarians. Today there are tons of plant-based proteins that come in all meat shapes and tastes. These are much healthier than true meat, and are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians. A personal favorite of mine are the Morningstar Corn Dogs. I swear to you, they are better than the real thing!
For a more comprehensive list of meat substitutes

Morningstar makes lots of vegetarian products that taste just like the real thing. Their website also offers hundreds of vegetarian recipes and other valuable information about vegetarianism.

Once you have become comfortable with your diet, it is fairly easy to restrain yourself from those cravings you used to have. The easiest way I find to keep from having a slip, if ever a craving arises, is to remember why I chose this lifestyle; remember my reasoning behind no longer eating meat, and the craving passes. Another trick is to be sure and always keep vegetarian food in the house. Try not to let your food supply get too low as to temp you to go grab a quick burger from McDonalds.


FYI, we've discovered that my meat substitutes from Morning Star are quite an attraction for our little Papillon, Oliver. I suppose that's a good sign of the meaty aroma he detects. You can read more about Oliver and his antics over at All Things Dog Blog and 5 Minutes for Fido.


Hopefully this information is useful for those of you making the transition. The first few weeks are definitely the hardest, but I promise it gets easier! If you have any questions, comments or concerns, post them here, or at our Facebook page! Be sure to watch my tweets on Twitter about upcoming posts!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Types of Vegetarianism: Sorting out the Distinctions


(c) Toni Boyko
Check Those Labels!
 Previously we have talked here on Organic Journey Online about why someone may want to become a vegetarian. It is important to distinguish, since many people do not know, the differences between the different types of vegetarianism when considering changing your diet. I will lay out for you the 3 most common types, however, there are several more that people often follow.

1) Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian:
This is typically what people think of when they hear the word "vegetarian". This diet refers to someone who excludes all forms of animal meat but still consumes dairy and eggs. These vegetarians may be for any reason ranging from health concerns to concern for animal rights.

2) Lacto-Vegetarian:
"Lacto" means dairy, therefore, this diet excludes all meat forms and eggs, however, continues to consume dairy products.

3) Ovo-Vegetarian:
"Ovo" in this case meaning egg, this diet excludes all meat forms and diary, and includes eggs.

3) Vegan:
Most people are familiar with the term vegan, but may not entirely understand it. A vegan diet excludes any animal byproducts, including dairy, eggs, and meat. A vegan diet is the most difficult diet to maintain. A vegan is typically concerned mostly with the welfare of animals in addition to environmental concerns.

 There are many other types of vegetarianism that some strict vegetarians do not think qualify as true vegetarians including "pescatarian" which is a diet that excludes all forms of meat except fish. And "flexitarian" is someone who follows a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and eats meat occasionally. Additionally there are people who follow vegetarian diets for religious or spiritual reasons.

 When considering the types of vegetarianism it is also important to think about the many types of food you may consume on a regular basis that may actually not be vegetarian. For instance, to my complete astonishment, 2 months into my vegetarian diet, my good friend Lacee informed me about the ingredients in gelatin. I was entirely unaware that gelatin was made from animal tissues, and therefore can never be vegetarian. However, luckily there are alternatives, but you would be surprised how many foods gelatin is in!

 Other ingredients you may be surprised to find are not vegetarian include, vitamin D, often disguised as vitamin D-3, which is always derived from an animal source. Alternatives for this may be vitamins from plant and mineral sources or sunlight exposure. Sunlight is my favorite alternative!

(c) Toni Boyko
Even Organic Wines
Might Not Be Vegetarian
 Another upsetting non-vegetarian revelation, often used as an ingredient, is in that tasty glass I enjoy on occasion; yes folks, wine. A huge upset I assure you. Wineries often use animal-derived products to remove certain particles during the wine-making process. Some of these common products used are suitable for the vegetarian diet, however, none would be acceptable for the vegan diet. The only concern remains that there is no way to be sure what product is used because wineries are not required to put it on their label. 


Don't get discouraged just yet! There are wines made that do not use any animal-derived ingredients during fermentation. For some tips on how to buy wine suitable for your diet, check out the Vegan Wine Guide.

 One last ingredient worth mentioning is one that you would have to search labels for to know if it was in your food, but it is definitely worth it. I am talking about the ingredient L-Cysteine, a common flavor enhancer in many types of foods. L-Cysteine is derived from, duck feathers, pig bristles and hooves, and, get this--human hair. Take a minute and soak that in. Ten years ago the most common source of L-Cysteine was human hair; today it is derived from duck feathers about 80% of the time. This is one ingredient I'll go searching for on labels. For further information, visit The Vegetarian Resource Group.

 Many foods can trick you into appearing vegetarian. Watching labels is one the most difficult parts of changing your diet, but it is also a great opportunity to learn more about nutrition and find out what you are eating is healthy for you and what's not. These are just a few things I wanted to share with you that I found to be non-vegetarian but please share any others that you may know of. I am always interested in learning more about vegetarianism and veganism. Share your comments here and at our fanpage on Facebook. You might even drop me a Tweet!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vegetarianism: Why Make this Change in Your Diet?





© Carrie Boyko
Toni and Xena
This picture of me and my dog Xena is meant to represent animals as a whole, not merely her as my pet. Here she stands as my reason for becoming a vegetarian, and that is my love of animals. Last year she passed away, and as my first dog, the loss was extremely painful. However, without her, my passion for animals never would have grown as strongly as it did.

The day I decided to become vegetarian was a turning point in my life; it was the day I realized that I could help reduce the cruelty towards animals by no longer consuming them. It is true, people become vegetarians for many reasons; intolerance of animal cruelty is but one of them.

Whatever your feelings on the situation may be, I am not here to judge. For me, animal cruelty is unacceptable. Raising animals to sustain ourselves is unacceptable, and I am proud to say that I am no longer a consumer of products that have been produced through acts of animal torture and cruelty. Were the animals treated humanely, kept in clean environments, not given innumerable amounts of growth hormones, and not slaughtered in mass numbers, there is a slight chance I would feel differently. Why not eat organic meats you may ask?

Animals grown on organic farms are not given hormones or antibiotics like those on factory farms typically are. However, that does not suggest they are treated more humanely as a result. Animals on organic farms must have access to outdoors, however, "having access to outdoors" does not imply that they are ever actually outside during they day. They may only have access to a small outdoor enclosure and many may never reach it due to their tightly packed spaces indoors.

© Carrie Boyko
I Love Animals; They Love Me
 I am not here to tell you that if you are not a vegetarian, or do not intend to become one, you are doing the world an injustice; I merely wish to educate those of you interested in this particular lifestyle for the time being. As I mentioned earlier, people choose to switch to a vegetarian diet for many reasons. From personal experience I have known more vegetarians who have chosen this lifestyle for reasons related to animal concerns and environmental concerns than any other matter. Animal rights groups such as PETA advocate vegetarianism on a daily basis.

Here are a few others:

1. Concern for Overall Health
It has been proven that excluding meat from your diet can decrease your cholesterol, help promote weight loss, as well as decrease the risk of multiple types of cancer and disease.
2. Environmental Concerns
Did you know that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than SUVs, cars, planes, and ships combined?.. That’s a lot!
3. Weight Management
Extensive research has proven that children and adults who follow a vegetarian diet are leaner than those who do not.
4. Food-Safety Concerns
Animals are given hormones to affect their growth rate, which you are then consuming when you eat them. These hormones can potentially have a negative affect on your health.

© Toni Boyko
Beach Sign in Thailand
 These are just a few reasons why some people may choose to follow a meat-free diet. Now, for those of you who may be interested, you simply need to determine what compels you enough to abstain from eating meat. During my research I stumbled upon an excellent compilation of statistics behind many reasons one may choose to become vegetarian, it certainly was an eye-opener for me in some areas. It may help to push you over the edge in your decision, or help you to persuade another.

I began by talking about my passion for animals, so I would like to end with the words of another, that I found amusing, and words I could truly identify with.

"To his butler: Please put the ladybug outside without harming her." 
-- Winston Churchill

Please feel free to comment by leaving your reason for becoming vegetarian, here, at our Facebook page, or on TwitterAny other comments, questions, or concerns, are also graciously encouraged.


BTW, if you're a dog lover, you may enjoy what you'll find over at All Things Dog Blog. Stop by and let Mom know I sent you!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Organic Journey Online Legacy

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by Toni Boyko

OJO's Newest Contributer

Hello Readers! I promise you that my mother is not gone forever, and I will try to fill her shoes as best I can with this splendid opportunity she has bestowed upon me. I have decided to start off with a short introduction about myself in hopes that you will feel well acquainted with me and better understand my passions.

I am a college student, 21 years to be exact (Finally!!! is what most say; yes including myself). I attend the University of Tampa, not University of South Florida, as most assume, but University of Tampa, which is located in downtown Tampa, and whose mascot is the Spartans. I am approaching my senior year, and not ashamed to admit that I wish I was going back to my freshman year. College has gone by way too fast!

I am majoring in biology, with a concentration in environmental science which is why my mother has so obligingly given me the opportunity to write for her blog. What I actually want to do after I graduate, you would think I should know by now, since I am almost a senior. However, still, I have no idea! It scares me on a daily basis. However, I have a good GPA and good references so I have no doubt that a good job awaits me after I graduate.

As far as what I wish to write about, (I am sure you have been wondering) I have decided to begin by telling you about my journey these past few months and onward on becoming a vegetarian. A few months ago, I decided to finally make the transition. Meat always having been the staple of my diet, I never thought I could do it. After having watched a close friend succeed for nearly a year with the task, I thought I should have no problem. Then being told I would fail by several of my friends, I had to try it. I pledged to be vegetarian for one month, and if it were too difficult I would return to my meat eating diet.

After one month passed, not an ounce of meat had passed between my lips, although I did have several scares, including bacon, and pepperoni, which I temporarily forgot were meat. At the one month mark--my birthday no less--I decided to allow myself some chicken. Upon eating I felt so horrible I could not finish my meal and my friends thought I was crazy (except my other vegetarian friend who said “Told you that you’d feel bad”). So here I am, three months later, and still a vegetarian, despite maybe two bites of chicken on my birthday.

(c) Carrie Boyko
Mom and I Enjoyed Delicious
Thai Culture While on Holiday
I have decided to begin this as a learning opportunity to educate others as well as myself on how to live a healthy vegetarian lifestyle. Please leave your comments here and at our fan page on Facebook! I am an extreme extrovert and I love to communicate with others in any form or fashion. You can also watch for my Tweets, as I begin to learn my way around Twitter. That should be an experience in itself. Hope to see you there.

P.S. Although my Mom is busy over at All Things Dog Blog, I can assure you they are not attempting a vegetarian diet--LOL. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Becoming a Vegetarian: Organic Journey Online Takes an Inside Look at the Process

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by Carrie Boyko

(c) Carrie Boyko
Introducing Toni Boyko
Good morning and please accept my apologies for my absence. While away playing with my dog blog, I found it suddenly took off. I've been consumed by it ever since. But alas, I have a solution. Since living the organic lifestyle is still my choice, I needed to find a way to bring you content. When my daughter decided to take on a vegetarian diet, I ultimately found that her desire to share this with you was a worthwhile addition of information for this site's readers, whether or not you may choose this route for yourself. Knowledge is empowerment to make choices.

So today I am introducing you to my 21 year old daughter, Toni, a senior in college. In addition to being a vegetarian, Toni is majoring in biology, while concentrating in environmental science to further her understanding of a sustainable world and continue working at healthy, green living. While considering her options for grad school, Toni is studying abroad this summer, as she writes this series for you. Her summer study is primarily on Primatology and ecology. This area of zoology that has always captured her interest will likely be compelling, yet she is concerned about career possibilities in this narrow niche. She continues to gravitate more and more toward healthy living in the forms of eating organic and vegetarian, while living greener.

So, the jury is out on where my daughter will land with a career, yet her interest in sharing her vegetarian experience with you is most certainly a telling peek at what is to come. I hope you will join Toni for her series that will take you through the whole process, from consideration to installation in a vegetarian diet.

Your free subscription to Organic Journey Online will allow you to know you'll never miss a post. Each will arrive in your email inbox the day of publication. The sign up area for this free service is in the top of the sidebar. We invite you to share in Toni's journey to learn about how to maintain vibrant health through a vegetarian diet. We also encourage you to share this post and others with anyone that you know is interested in learning more about this healthy way of eating. All you need to do is click the cute little envelope icon at the bottom of the post and follow the prompts to enter an email address. Enjoy your journey!
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