Beginning March 1, 2020, the Bag Waste Reduction law went into affect in NYC. Although I’d been following the law as it went through it’s early stages in the legislation process, so much had been going on in the past couple of weeks that it completely slipped my mind when March 1st actually rolled around.
But once all the craziness was subdued, it took actually seeing this legislation in action in two stores for me to realize the amazingness that had finally taken place:
NO MORE PLASTIC BAGS IN NEW YORK CITY!
This new law doesn’t only affect those in the five boroughs, it applies to any retailer that collects New York State taxes.
And so, W O W.
I’m so exited and happy to be living during a time where veganism is bursting through the seams of major corporations and where taking care of our ecosystem is becoming part of the law.
However, this thought was also accompanied by the horrific realization that the massive amount of destruction we’ve done to our home has also taken place in my lifetime, and we are now in the early stages of damage control.
But I won’t linger on the bad news…
This is a truly gratifying time to be alive and I can’t wait to see the stats that will undoubtedly pop-up after this new law has been in place for awhile, regarding how much less plastic waste is in our city. No more gross bags hanging high in tree branches, or floating in our natural waterways or in the parks. So much less waste in landfills. And realistically, I think a lot of people may simply not purchase as much as they were before because they don’t have the ease of plastic bags.
However, that last one could be a blessing and a curse— without as many purchases, there could be something in store to try to lure people into opening up their wallets as much as they previously did. But let’s look on the bright side— maybe another stimulus package is on the way? 🙂
Another benefit that is admittedly quite personal, but still great nonetheless, will be not feeling slightly weird when bringing all my reusables to the grocery store. Although it didn’t bother that much, I would feel slightly weird and as if all eyes were on me when I’d take extra time packing my own groceries into bags instead of letting the store staff pack the stuff for me quickly and swiftly into plastic bags. Not anymore!
And finally, another eco friendly tip for all the folks out there, but especially my fellow NYC dwellers— while you’re stocking up on reusable bags, purchase some reusable produce bags as well! I’ve had my produce bags for some time now, and have barely used them (eeek!), but now? It’s gonna be a fruit and veggie bonanza in here!
Not only are reusable produce bags another great way to reduce plastic, they also help solve a problem that hasn’t yet found a solution in all groceries and markets because in-store (plastic!) produce bags are still-a-go. Additionally, there are many types of plastic bags that are exempt from the new law. Boo. But baby steps are better than no steps.
While briefly discussing the new “no plastic” policy with my mom, she mentioned that using good old paper bags is how they used to carry groceries “back in the day”. I excitedly exclaimed “I know!” A bit later, it truly sank in— although there are many things I wouldn’t want to bring back from past decades, the simpler, cleaner ways that some tasks were carried out are certainly welcome back.
I can’t wait to see what other eco friendly things the city will come up with!
Vegans are lacking protein. How many times have you heard that? By now, it’s a distant echo that somehow still seems to taunt all the cruelty-free eaters in the vegan-verse. But the thing is, we know it’s not true. Vegans get plenty of protein. In fact, for all the omnis out there– your meat gets its protein from plants. That’s right– you heard it here first. Well I don’t know if you actually heard it here first, but if you did, that’s freaking awesome and you’re welcome.
Some of the greatest sources of protein in the vegan world come from lentils, beans (legumes) and other foods like tofu and seitan. Not to mention the loads of seeds and nuts that are also protein-rich. As I continue to force myself to eat– I mean, journey down the road of embracing a completely whole foods diet (similar to my early vegan days when I didn’t know what to eat and had no idea that Champ’s Diner existed), I will continue to load up on more protein-rich goodies, and beans have always been one of my favorites. Mix them with rice and you’ve got a source of complete protein, meaning that all nine essential amino acids are set in that protein to help your body do all the amazing things it’s capable of doing, besides going to and from work and laying to watch Netflix (calm down, I’m pointing a finger at myself).
Chickpeas are pretty high on that bean list– also known as garbanzo beans, they are not only yummy, but really versatile in the kitchen– after all, they can turn into falafels. If that ain’t a miraculous transformation, I dunno what is. But, when you’re tired of eating them in their natural form, and don’t feel like making falafels, try out this recipe. It’s basically breaded and fried chickpeas, but the great part is, it shouldn’t take you too long to make because you don’t need anything more that a few ingredients, and a few simple steps– in less that 20 minutes, you’re in fried bean heaven.
What You’ll Need:
1 15.5 oz. can of chickpeas, not drained
3/4-1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (plain or panko breadcrumbs can also be used— whichever you choose, be sure that your breadcrumbs are vegan! Many brands contain dairy and/or eggs)
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
What to Do:
Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat with olive oil in it.
While the oil is heating, mix the breadcrumbs and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
Open the can of chickpeas, but do not drain them of the water in the can.
Test that the olive oil is fully heated with a very small drop of water (do not stand over the oil because it will splatter when hot!)
Using a metal spoon, transfer the wet chickpeas to the breadcrumb mixture, draining each spoonful of water but leaving the chickpeas wet (the water from the can acts as the “binding agent” and helps the breadcrumbs stick to the chickpeas fully, so you want them to remain wet!).
Transfer about half the can, mixing the beans into the breadcrumbs quickly, then transferring them to the oil slowly and carefully so the oil does not splatter.
Shake the pan to spread the chickpeas across evenly.
Let the chickpeas fry over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, then, turn the chickpeas and continue to fry for an additional 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Drain the fried chickpeas on a dish that has been lined with a dry cloth or paper towels.
Repeat these steps with the remaining half-can of chickpeas.
Tuna — a saltwater fish that is part of the mackerel family. The size of the fish can range, depending on the specific type. Are those quick, fun facts what come to your mind when you hear the word “tuna”? Yeah, me either. When we hear that word, most of us think of the minced flesh that comes in a can. But even that description may be off-putting to some– well, by some, I mean non-vegans. Because, like any sentient being, that minced mush in a can is indeed flesh.
Before going vegan, like a lot of non-vegans, I tried to eat more tuna and seafood on my initial route to health. Sea creatures do not usually contain large amounts of fat and most people view eating them as healthy– in fact, many people go pescatarian before going full-vegan. Or, they just stop there.
I was a big fan of canned tuna in my pre-vegan days. But thinking back on it now, filling a sandwich with tuna that is loaded with mayo isn’t necessarily #healthgoals. Either way, I hadn’t had tuna in about two years– that is, I hadn’t had any form of a vegan variation since going vegan. Until recently 🙂
First, a bit of the back story; when I was still in my exploratory vegan days (although those days don’t ever truly end, do they?) I happened to find some mock vegan tuna as part of a vegan “starter kit” online. I bought the kit (this was over a year ago), and I tossed the tuna in the cabinet because– well, that’s me. I was excited to try it, but wanted to “wait” to showcase it for whatever weird reason. I recently cleaned out the cabinets and saw that lonely lil’ can in the back, still unused. First, I thought about why I was so weird to wait to use this canned baby for so long (yes, really), then, I made a tuna sandwich!
The canned tuna I had was made by a brand called Sophie’s Kitchen. They make plant-based seafood which is amazing, because I love seeing plant-based seafood all over Vegan IG. I hope to try a lot more of their products in the future, but for now, I’m also trying to calm down on the processed goods, so it’ll have to wait. But check them out and see what they have to offer!
Now, for the nitty gritty– how did it taste? What was the flavor like? The texture?
Before I get to all those deets, I have to preface this with saying that anything that is vegan (with the exception of the amazing things they’re doing with the Impossible and Beyond Burgers as well as some seitan-based chick’n sandwiches) is usually never going to be an exact replica of what you were used to eating on an omni diet. You have to learn to adapt your palate a bit, as well as relish in the fact that something that is reallly close to what you used to eat (especially if you prepare it the same way) is still really delicious, and now, cruelty-free.
That being said, visually, I was pleasantly surprised. It actually looked like canned tuna. Not a carbon copy, but it could fool an omni, for sure. It was packed in olive oil, which was refreshing because actual tuna packed in oil is usually packed in vegetable oil, and I always thought that was weird because veggie oil seems more appropriate for cooking and not packing. It fell apart in chunks, and just looking at, I was a happy camper.
Texture-wise, I was also happy. It felt like what I was used to eating when I ate a tuna fish sandwich! But then, is it truly that hard to replicate a minced meat texture? Something to think about! It was a little bit heavier, but not overly so.
The flavor was kinda scary. I know about some products, like kelp granules, that help to mimic that seafood flavor. And although this didn’t taste exactly like tuna fish, that seafood-y flavor was definitely there. It mixed well when I added other ingredients and mayo to it, and once all that was mixed together, it legit looked like meaty tuna.
As I just mentioned, when eaten on it’s own (I took a few bites before adding anything else), it was a bit heavier in my mouth–not like a fully light seafood feel. That could have been because of the pea protein and/or potato starch bases I’m assuming, because that is what this mock delicious-ness is mostly made of.
So, at the end of it all, I’d definitely give this canned delight a 8/10 and I would hands down purchase it again. I think for transitioning vegans, it might take a bit before they feel comfty mixing it plain into a salad or eating it out of the can. For me, two years in, I’d gobble the can down plain– eh, I might add a little salt and pepper.
But for transitioning vegans looking for that comfort food feel of a delicious “tuna” fish sandwich slathered in mayo on bread– just imagine, you could be eating this, completely cruelty-free:
Well, this is it. It’s certainly been another whirlwind year, filled with delicious vegan noms and chill vegan spots, but more importantly— actually, most importantly, have been the vegan realizations I’ve gone through. Indeed, this year could be coined the year of vegan realism.
You know how art has gone through different eras over time? Well, my veganism is pretty much doing the same thing. Last year, my first year being vegan, was my romanticism era. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to dive into veganism in all it’s glory. This new challenge of going vegan gave me something to strive for. Something to champion and hold onto. I wandered through this new world, eager to discover all the junkfood, mock meats and restaurants that made up this seemingly giant but actually very tight-knit community of veganism.
I reveled in the wonders of my imagination, letting my mind and heart roam wild as I played chef, coming up with imaginative and beautifully plated meals that I still believe could rival some of the best influencers out there. I tried my hardest to break away from the societal norms of the standard American diet— a way of eating that I knew was making me sick, keeping me overweight and contributing to my subpar physical health.
And at that time, it was an easy thing to do. I had support from a pal who had been vegan for some time. My mom was totally fine with me going vegan, and I didn’t have to hear any drawn out speeches about health or not being able to accommodate my new « weird » diet. And time. I had so much time. When I first went vegan, I was working in the hospitality industry and I was a student. Both things that call for a lot of time and attention, but not at the peak levels that would soon come. So, in my free time, I decided to take on this new lifestyle full-speed. I turned my already existing foodie IG into a vegan page. I started a blog (fun fact: I’ve always been passionate about writing and blogging, and this is actually my second blog). And I decided I would not only utilize going vegan as a way to help myself, but also as a way to help others— animals, the planet, marginalized groups. Everything and everyone.
So that was it. My romantic, dreamy introduction to veganism.
And this year. Things got real.
I’m still a student. In fact, I’ve been a student for the past five years straight, with no end on the near horizon. But this summer is when the realism era really kicked in. It was a whirlwind of school and training for one of the greatest occurrences in my life. The start of my career as a teacher. So, it’s been non-stop work. From sun up til’ sun down. Filled with times where I’ve been ecstatic, but also filled with times where I’ve doubted my abilities to complete anything. But I have been completing everything. And I continue to push myself. In addition to all the hard work, a lot more has happened in a year. As usual, here’s a quick recap of the year of vegan realism, and what I think the future of my vegan life will hold.
I Tried a lot More Vegan Food
This year was still filled with me trying a bunch of food from amazing places. I tried the delicious food at Rip’s Malt Shop, co-opened by a great entrepreneur, Eric, who okayed the making of an off-the-menu, “vegan girl nyc special”, featuring their bomb chopped cheeze, an NYC staple. I tried amazing noms from the fully women-run and owned Seitan’s Helper, I finally got to try amazing dessert noms from Pisces Rising Vegan, another women-owned opération that is absolutely splendid. And speaking of awesome women in power, I got to try some great food from Chef Chloe herself at her Supernatural pop-up earlier in the year. I was also able to try amazingly delicious food from a brand new restaurant, Spicy Moon— which is now one of my favorite new places to eat! I had an entirely vegan personal pie from a not entirely vegan pizzeria in my heart town of Queens, and I got to try even more delicious food at this year’s Vegandale festival, attending for my second year in a row. And that was just to name a few of the happenings stateside.
Oh yes, ya girl went international this year, leaving the country for the first time and traveling overseas to checkout the beautiful cities of London and Paris and alllll the vegan noms both cities had to offer! I’ve written all about my foodie travel in LDN, and my foodie adventures from Paris will be up bientôt. How it Got Real: as the summer drew near and once my first year of teaching began, my budget was as tight as ever. Dining out slowed down a lot. Luckily, I’d already gone through my blogger existential crisis of wondering if people would still like my page if I wasn’t showcasing bomb vegan noms from restaurants galore. Therefore, I no longer cared if people followed me for superficial reasons. I also had a handful of caring folks I’ve met along my life journey who took my very broke self out to eat and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.
I Kinda, Sorta Dated Someone for Like, ten Seconds
Once I went back to school, I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t date anyone because I didn’t want to be distracted from school. Once I graduated, I got into grad school. I made yet another pact that after working so hard to get into an amazing school, I wouldn’t screw it up with distractions of ANY kind. So dating was put on the back burner, again. Then, I graduated from grad school. What was next? More grad school. And teacher training. By this point, I was so happy and grateful for everything happening in my life, but I also thought “dang, can ya girl get a date or two?” Well, eventually I did. I met someone, and they weren’t vegan and I was 100% okay with that because if you follow my IG page, I’ve said plenty of times that dating a vegan isn’t necessarily a priority of mine. Things were fun and it was nice to be close to someone amidst the constant grind. How it Got Real: Things ended pretty quickly and it was both good and bad. I may have been in a relationship with someone who didn’t wanna be in a relationship. Or maybe they just didn’t wanna be in a relationship with me. I can only speculate, but I try not to because I enjoy my sanity. The point is, during our short-lived romance, instead of being straightforward, they took me on a roller coaster of weirdness that had more of an effect on my emotional and mental health than I liked, and that was a big no-no. Perhaps their propensity for being a big meanie had something to do with them not being vegan? Who knows, but either way, I’m super single, again.
I Started a Career
Teaching is amazing. I love it. It allows me to be creative and fits with my love of a delicate balance of being busy with so much on my plate set alongside the time to recoup and get back to my center. Some of my students in my first year love me. Some don’t care for me too much. But I love them all and it feels amazing to be able to watch them grow, academically and as humans. How it Got Real: Trying to be an amazing teacher while still being a student is absolutely possible but it’s hard work. Especially when you’re a new teacher. Before I started teaching, I’d heard it all from current and former teachers along the way. Some had principals leave in the middle of year. Some began their teaching careers mid-year with no prior teaching experience. Some worked in schools that ended up closing. This was all real and it taught them great lessons and helped mold them into great teachers. Luckily, I haven’t experienced any of those challenges, but I’ve been pulling on all that I can to be great because now, I don’t just have to be great for myself, but I have to be great for my students.
I Celebrated the Holidays as a Vegan… Again!
This is my second year of holiday celebrations as a vegan, and it’s actually okay. There are so many options for vegans that I don’t feel isolated at the thought of the end of the year and all the food to come. This one is actually not that bad— yet. How it’s Gonna Get Real: Traversing the holidays as a vegan hasn’t been too bad yet because I’ve still been celebrating small-scale. Outside of my immediate family is what I’m a bit nervous of. Will the holidays get bigger in the years to come? Will I have to gather around tons of family and/or friends at non-vegan gatherings? If so, I’ll probably be better prepared because I’ll be a veteran vegan at that point. If anything, the annoying part won’t be the food prep, it’ll be talking about being vegan. Answering questions about my life as a vegan and why I’ve chosen to eat and live this way.
So, you may ask how have all these year two events related to my being vegan? Well, I’ve had the wake-up call of settling into veganism as being my real-life. It’s not just vegan restaurants and festivals. It’s quick tofu scrams before class and work. It’s late night sandwiches thrown together because I’m hungry after getting out of class at 9:30pm. And yes, as a vegan I can make deli meat and cheeze sandwiches, complete with mayo 🙂 This hectic grind with food thrown in the mix because I have to eat is a familiar feeling for everyone, not just vegans. Life has been filled with moments of literally spending several minutes eyeballing a vending machine at school to find something that is both vegan and moderately healthy because I forgot (more like procrastinated) to meal prep because that’s life, and I have a three-hour class coming up that I can not possibly sit through in its entirety without being hungry.
I also still deal with stress eating. And although that hasn’t completely vanished, I’ve learned (and am still learning) how to turn to other things than eating to deal with stressful or hurtful or unpredictable occurrences, and also how to be present and choose healthier options whenever I do turn to food for comfort. My relationship with veganism has started to balance out and is now less about the “idea” of me being vegan and more about my regular relationship with food as I go through the complicated and exhilarating ride known as L I F E. It’s just that my food happens to be cruelty-free.
As I embark on year three of being vegan, I am really excited for what’s to come. I have no idea of what lies ahead, and that’s scary but also exciting. I still want to create recipes, and I have more than enough notes and scribbles for ideas to keep me busy whenever I find the time to do so. I’ve become less concerned with maintaining a perfect IG page aesthetic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still about a good-looking page, but if I manage to make a great meal and I get some pics of it, it’s going on the page whether or not it’s plated cute or on a fancy plate. And at the end of the day, I’m finding that to be more inspiring in many ways. I can plan for eternity, but deep down, I’m aware that I have to learn to enjoy the ride because life, even in the form of blogging, is gonna have its own plans for me— and if I can adapt to all that my crazy life has in-store for me, then I can certainly adapt to the roller coaster that is #bloggerlife.
~*I Can’t wait for year three!!!*~
Heart ballons image courtesy of Kristina Paukshtite via Pexels.com
Cranberry and pine cone image courtesy of Jessica Lewis via Pexels.com
Fried chicken is a southern staple in the US. It’s also an extremely popular food in the Black community. So, I’ve had my fair share of fried chicken over the years, pre-vegan. When I went vegan, it was crazy to experience fried « chicken ». I couldn’t believe (and still can’t believe) that I was having something that I couldn’t ever imagine being able to enjoy as a vegan. I know I haven’t had even a modicum of the fried « chicken » that so many brilliant vegan chefs and minds have created, but I wanted to contribute in some small way by making my own version of something that could easily be made at home. It absolutely mimics the flavor of fried meat… is it as good as the fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? That’s debatable. Is it healthier that any fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? Also debatable. Did I make several test batches and eat most of them in one sitting, by myself? Abso-frickin-lutely.
ATTENTION: This recipe requires 24 hours of prep time! Please plan accordingly!
What You’ll Need:
For the Dry Batter:
2/3 cup all purpose flour (gluten-free flour can also be used)
3 tbsp seasoning salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley
4 flax eggs: about 3 tbsp water + 1 tbsp flax seeds = 1 egg
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 package of extra firm, organic tofu
What to Do:
Freeze the entire pack of extra firm tofu overnight, or for at least 24 hours until fully frozen.
Take the tofu out of the freezer and let it thaw fully– you can speed up the thawing process by placing the package of tofu in a bowl of hot water. Most of the time, I took it out before leaving in the morning, letting it thaw until I returned home for the day.
Once tofu has fully thawed, open package and drain of water completely.
Wrap the block of tofu in a thin cloth or with a few paper towels and press the tofu of any additional water for about 3-5 minutes. While the tofu is wrapped up, use a tofu press or something with weight to help drain the excess water.
After pressing, let the tofu sit for an additional 15-20 minutes to air dry (I know, this recipe requires a lot of prep time, but it’s worth it! :-)). The tofu should be as dry as possible– this is very important, otherwise the water will seep out and change the flavor of the fried strips.
Slice the tofu once down the middle horizontally while it is laying flat. Keep the two pieces together and slice the tofu vertically 4-5 times. You should have 8-10 evenly sliced tofu strips.
Set tofu strips aside and prepare the flax eggs. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ratio of water with flax seeds (3 tbsp:1 tbsp) x4 to create 4 flax eggs. Whisk together with a fork. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to thicken. You may need to add an additional 1/2 to one tbsp of water if the mixture becomes too thick (you want it to be slightly slimy).
While the flax egg is thickening, prepare the dry ingredients to create the fry batter. In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, dried parsley and seasoning salt. Whisk together thoroughly until well mixed.
Placed the entire amount of the vegetable oil in a medium-sized frying pan (a large pan can be used, but may cause the oil to be too shallow– add about 1/8 cup more oil if using a large pan).
Heat the oil over medium heat (about 3-5 minutes; test by dropping a very tiny water droplet in the oil to see if it sizzles– DO NOT stand over the oil when testing if it’s hot); while oil is heating, check the flax eggs. Remember, they should be only slightly gelatinous and a little slimy– not too thick.
Create an assembly line of flax egg then the dry batter mixture, then the frying pan.
Gently place one tofu strip into the flax eggs and turn to lightly fully coat. I used one hand for the flax eggs and one for the dry batter so that the dry batter didn’t become too clumpy in the bowl and on my hand as I continued to dip strips.
Gently bring the coated strip over to the dry batter and fully coat.
Gently bring the strip over to the frying pan and place it on one side of the pan.
Place about 3-5 strips of coated tofu into the frying pan, about 1/2 inch apart.
Fry each piece for approximately 4-5 minutes on one side, turn the strip over and fry that side for an additional 3-5 minutes.
Use tongs to gently remove each strip, and place it on a dish or in a container that has been lined with thin clothes or paper towels to drain the strips of excess oil.
Let cool for several minutes, then, transfer to a serving dish.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, serve and enjoy! These strips taste amazing with my tangy aioli– you can find that recipe here.
Last year, during the peak of my new vegan life, I attended one of the best vegan food festivals around, Vegandale. I was extremely excited to be able to go to a vegan food festival– I’d made it my personal goal to get to as many vegan food events as I could that summer and hitting up Vegandale was an absolute dream.
100% vegan food vendors from all over the country. It was amazing — tons of people, great vibes, music, lots of activities and lots of F O O D. Delicious and amazing food! I went in with the goal of trying foods from places that were not based in the New York City– that is, I only wanted to try food from vendors who were based in cities from around the country and outside of NYC. A nationwide food tour! I hit up spots from Chicago, Texas, Jersey, Toronto and more. It was insanity!
This year, the festival’s back! Vegandale is coming to New York City again and they’ll be back at Randall’s Island Park on Saturday, September 28th, 2019. You don’t wanna miss out on trying some of the most innovative and just downright delicious vegan food you’ve ever seen. I’m telling you, it truly is a feast for the eyes as much as the stomach. I tried so much amazing food and of course, I chronicled everything on my Instagram page — so much food that I literally had to bring containers with me so I could take food home 😀 I wasn’t complaining though; who would when you have an abundance of decadent vegan noms to nosh on for days, long after the festival is over?
Okay, the supply didn’t last me as long as I would have liked, but that was due to me being greedy — what can I say, I’m a true (vegan) foodie at heart!
Head over to www.vegandalefest.com to get tickets for this year’s festival at the current discounted rates! And check out their Instagram page — not only can you go gaga over all the drool-inducing noms on their page, but you can also get tickets via the link in their bio.
September 28th is right around the corner, so start preparing to experience some of the best vegan food you’ve ever tried! And I might just see you out there!
This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been wanting to write about my period for quite some time. The ups, the downs, and everything in-between. So, here it goes– my journey to trying to make my period more eco-friendly.
But, before I begin, I’ll start with a disclaimer:
I won’t cover absolutely everything about the history of my period in this post. Honestly, I could write an entire thesis on what I’ve been through with my cycle— but I will touch on most of the major stuff that’s happened in the past several years. I also included a random af but pretty encompassing summary in the last paragraph in case you don’t want to read an entire blog post about my menstrual cycle. Feel free to email me through this blog or message me on Instagram if you’d like more info about my period.
Whoa… that sounded kinda creepy, but you know what I mean 🙂
A (not so) Brief Period History.
I’ll start by acknowledging that all these issues may have been condensed into a smaller time-frame if it weren’t for my overall laziness and lack of taking immediate action whenever something happens with my health. For the most part, I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to this, but in the past, I was definitely the type to “wait and see what happens”, no matter what happened.
For years I had really heavy periods that slowly got progressively heavier, accompanied by really crappy pain — as in, picture really horrible cramps, then, turn the dial up another notch or two. I would go through overnight pads in a matter of hours — not overnight. When I finally did see a gynecologist, I ended up on birth control and was diagnosed with menorrhagia — a fancy name for bleeding waaay too much when you’re on your period. I was also informed that I had both ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids.
You can imagine how much fun I was having at this appointment.
Ovarian cysts are common among many child-bearing aged woman, but the fibroids— which are actually benign tumors (that also appear during child-bearing years), are way more common among African-American women. I have no idea why and I don’t think the medical community does either. But I digress.
In the land of birth control, all was well. I had really clear skin and much lighter periods. I had to set about 100 alarms to remind myself to take it at the same time everyday, but once I got the hang of that, it was all good. Or so I thought…
… One day a few years ago, around the time I started trying to take control of my health, I was on my period and I decided to look up the side effects of birth control. It was horrifying. Now, the internet has the power to make anyone think they’re dying for any reason, but the stuff I was reading just wasn’t sitting well with me, especially not at this point in my life and health journey. Something inside just told me that I didn’t wanna be on birth control anymore.
Also, at this point in the aforementioned journey, I’d already decided that if one takes control of their diet and lifestyle, they have more control over certain health issues than they may think. So, although I wasn’t vegan yet, I felt I could maybe deal with a heavy period sans medication.
Not so coincidentally, at my next gyno visit, the results of my ultrasound showed something amazing: my fibroids had shrunk significantly and my cysts were now completely gone.
You may be thinking … “Wtf?” Or “that’s amazing!” Either one would be applicable and totally understandable.
I definitely believe that my changes in lifestyle and diet played a role in here somewhere— I ate horribly before getting healthy, and who knows what kinds of hormones and chemicals were affecting my poor uterus. But personally, I also believe in higher powers, so I gave a heartfelt shoutout to the universe on this miraculous occurrence as well. From there, I listened to my intuition and told my gyno I wanted off birth control for good. She obliged, but my heavy period journey was far from over.
No More Meds, and I Went Vegan… but the Heavy Bleeding Continued
As time went on, my periods were still heavy. I no longer experienced horrible cramps and pain as badly as I did before, but I was still going through pads more often than I felt I should. My thoughts were “oh crap, nothing has changed– what do I do now?” Even after going vegan, I didn’t notice immediate changes in my cycle.
Making My Period Eco-Friendly (and Later, Low-Waste)
Nonetheless, I started slowly trying to change everything I used for health, beauty and otherwise over to more eco-friendly options (hence the existence of this section of my blog). I think part of my thought process with my period products was that I really had to try everything I could think of to fix the heavy bleeding issue. If I had already changed my diet and was more physically active, I guess now I had to focus on the products I was using. I started buying eco-friendly pads and tampons around last winter. I was amazed to see that the price was the same as regular sanitary products– which frankly, contain stuff I do not want in my vagina.
I felt content that I’d made an eco-friendly switch, but I wanted to do more. So, several months ago, as I was scrolling through vegan Instagram, I came across an ad for a free menstrual cup. I thought “this is it! This is my chance to try a menstrual cup!”
I’d heard about the cup years ago when the famous Diva brand made the menstrual cup a household normality, but I had all sorts of reservations about using one— but still, I got the cup and tried it out on my next period. I chronicled the journey in my Instagram stories and highlights. The first cycle using it wasn’t too bad. Aside from the annoyance of getting used to putting the actual cup inside of me— and taking it out for that matter, when it was in place, it worked well. But sometimes it would move around, and that was a little uncomfortable.
Then, one day… it flipped. Both literally and figuratively.
The cup turned sideways inside of me. I was home when it happened which was a huge relief— I also had a pad on as a safety net. This very inconvenient occurrence shook me a bit. I envisioned every possible worse case scenario:
What if this had happened while I was on the train?
Or at work and on my feet?
Or I was nowhere near a bathroom?
What if I hadn’t been wearing a pad? (highly unlikely but still within the realm of possibility)
It freaked me out so much that I didn’t use the cup for the rest of that day. Or the rest of that cycle. I finished out that period with my eco-friendly pads and tampons. By the time my next cycle arrived, I tried the cup once more. I used it on my heaviest day, hoping for the best. But I could tell the spark was gone. I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I used it for a few hours at most that day and that was the end of the cup and I’s short-lived relationship. I know there are tons of shapes and sizes available for menstrual cups, but I just didn’t feel enough motivation to try cup after cup.
However, this mishap contributed to zero discouragement in my period journey. I knew there was a chance I might not like the cup, and the fact that I got to try it for free calmed my nerves even more.
What was more concerning was wondering what my next step was. I really wanted to conquer having a low-waste, eco-friendly period; yes, I was using non-chemically treated, cotton products — but I felt like that just wasn’t enough, mainly because it was far from low-waste.
More time passed, and a page I follow on Instagram that makes reusable pads ended up having a huge flash sale.
Perhaps you’ve noticed a pattern of me trying to acquire products for cheap and/or free? 😀
This was yet another option I’d been aware of, but had been waiting for the right time to try it. Or maybe more like, had been too lazy to getting around to try it? Either way, a 50% off flash sale definitely seemed like the right time.
I was eager to see how the reusable pads would go over— I had a bunch of questions like: how would I store a soiled pad when I was in public and needed to change it? Were they truly absorbent? How long could I wear one before I had to change it? And so many more…
When they finally arrived, I was immediately obsessed. Mainly because I was in love with the prints! But I didn’t buy them to have cute pads… okay, having cute pads did factor in a bit, but the point was low-waste, eco-friendly periods… period.
Too Many Variables— but they Happened at the Right Time.
Now, I’ve gotta back track a bit, because this part is kinda crucial to the story. In May of this year, I turned 32. Why is that relevant? Well, as you may (or may not) know, as women get older, their periods will often get lighter. You may not (or may) notice drastically lighter periods overnight, but this is relevant for my story because as mentioned, I had a history of ridiculously heavy periods. But a couple of months before I turned 32, my periods were noticeably lighter. I couldn’t say with 100% certainty that it was only the age factor because there were just way too many variables:
I’d been eating about an 80% whole foods, plant-based diet for several months at this point (so very little processed foods and practically no mock meat at all… like, I stopped buying it completely)
I had become very physically active— I even took up running before I suffered an injury last winter.
I’d been vegan for a year and a half, so for all I knew, my body could have decided to just start adjusting to my new vegan lifestyle via my cycle (this one is actually very plausible because I know and have read stories from so many women who claim their periods got lighter after going vegan).
The entire paragraph above was written for the purpose of me saying this:
I don’t know if I would be as happy as I am with reusable pads if my period were still as heavy as it was in the past. But I love them now. They’re absorbent af and they work amazingly. So, my period journey has a happy ending. I’m still working out a few kinks like: changing and storing the reusables in public and washing and drying them as soon as possible, but overall they’re great. I’m thrilled that I found a low-waste solution for my period. I’m supplementing the use of the cotton pads with tampons, but cutting my waste in half makes me very proud, and I am constantly reminding myself that this is a baby-step journey, as it should be.
Here’s a Final Recap — or a Summary for the Slackers…
Super heavy periods > Menorrhagia nightmare > birth control saved me, but the chemicals had to go > I started trying to find natural ways to lighten my period and eventually I ended up also trying to make my period more eco-friendly and low-waste.
My first route was changing over to chemical-free, natural, cotton sanitary products > I felt great because I knew I was immediately eliminating placing chemicals inside my body, which I had apparently been doing for almost two decades— ew.
Next, I focused on low-waste > I tried the menstrual cup and it was unsuccessful for me; there were too many grey areas.
Then, I tried reusable pads and I loved them > I settled on a combo of the reusable pads and chemical-free, cotton tampons.
And that’s it! That’s my journey so far. Oh, and PS – full disclosure: I’m a visual person, so going in to change my pad and seeing a bloody Jaws kinda gives me a much needed chuckle when I have cramps and am bleeding from my uterus.
* Menstrual products image courtesy of Vanessa Ramirez via Pexels.com