The VegLife series is all about promotion of a healthy balanced lifestyle—one that encompasses nutritional health, physical health, and mental health. Though our focus is on nutrition, we believe an increased awareness of food choices will spark consciousness in the other facets of ones wellness. The way to better health is to dedicate to a lifestyle of wellness. Making health a priority is the prime effort of VegLife.
We use the word, “plant based” instead of vegan because the exclusion of animal products is not our primary focus. Our initiative is endorsing more plant based or plant intensive nutrition habits. Studies show that increasing the intake of plant based foods is the key to improving physical health. Adding plant based foods rather than subtracting animal products fosters a positive relationship with the idea of VegLiving.
“Falling is not failing…it’s flying at lower altitude”
That is the quote that Nicole Mendez’s Yoga Instructor recites to her as she attempts a new yoga position.
But yoga has only been a portion of her workout. Mendez has already completed sparring rounds, intense cardio circuits, and strength conditioning. This is the typical routine she follows, working out twice a day, five-six times per week for her amateur boxing career.
“I felt discouraged a few times. Being new to the sport, it’s hard…you’re getting hit and if you don’t do the right things, you’re getting knocked out…It was my first match, I’m watching all [of these] elite Golden Glovers who have won championships…and I’m sitting here with zero fights. It was intimidating…but in the end I went in there, put my heart into it and I actually won.” says Mendez.
To amp up her fitness, Mendez pairs her intense workout routine with a strict Vegetarian diet…but it wasn’t always that way. Nicole was close to weighing 200 pounds.
“I would eat fried chicken [or] pizza all the time…it was really bad. As soon as I started eating healthy and working out…I felt the difference. What initially inspired me to…become a vegetarian was my love for animals…Everyone starts being skeptical when you say it’s because you love animals, but I did my research and after I found everything they put in [meat] I realized the meat industry is more about quantity than quality. Those chemicals are going to harm my body and…as soon as I cut meat out of [my diet] I became healthier and…less susceptible to disease.” says Mendez.
Coming from a Puerto-Rican background and a family full of meat-eaters, Mendez says its wasn’t easy to take the first steps to her transition, but, that it was well worth it.
“I’m proud that I can prove everyone wrong…I [feel] more energy and more alive. People say ‘I don’t think I can do this, meat is my life’ but they don’t see that there is no real difference. You get your proteins…vegetables are full of it…you can even drink protein shakes. It’s not like you’re missing anything by not eating meat. Once you become a vegetarian, you feel great about yourself. I feel like I can conquer the world.” says Mendez.
At just 19 years old, Nicole has shed nearly 60 pounds, transforming her body and way of life.
“Fruits and Vegetables are how I get through the day. It’s how I get my energy and feed myself…When I need an extra boost, I’ll drink Spark which is an all natural energy drink. It helps me stay awake because boxing, going to school and working can get pretty tiring. I love making new recipes and…all my friends know me as the ‘VegHead’. I’m like let’s make a fruit salad or green smoothie and they’ll be like ‘there’s Nicole with her fruits and veggies.’
As for boxing, Mendez plans to take her career all the way.
“I want to try to make it on the U.S.A [Olympic] Team…maybe become a personal trainer and do both…it’s a pretty high goal but in two years the U.S.A team will be having a tryout and I hope to be there.”
Gold medal dreams aside, Mendez wants to use her weight loss to motivate others and share the positive message of health and wellness.
“To people who are afraid of changing their way of life whether is be working out more or being a vegetarian…don’t be. It’s all in your mindset, don’t let anything push you away from what you want…it’s not as hard hard as people perceive it to be. Take that one step, take that leap of faith.”
Any thoughts or comments? Have your own VegLife transformation to share? Share them on our discussion forum!
Looking around Rock Garden Herbs, it seems like your typical industrial plant. Located near Miami International Airport, Rock Garden is surrounded by semi trucks and the vibration of airplanes roaring above. Who would’ve guessed that just around the corner would be over an acre of sustainable growth farming? That abandoned lot is right where the Miami Green Railroad Organic Workshop (G.R.O.W) project has flourished, pun intended.
Miami G.R.O.W is non-profit organization aimed at growing green and edible products. Founded by the owners of Rock Garden Herbs the project is based on the site of no longer functioning portions of Miami’s Tri-Rail. Inspired to put the wasted space to eco-friendly use, Rock Garden has created a nursery style farm on the abandoned site. From mint to parsley and lemon verbena, G.R.O.W harvests produce for all seasons and purposes.
Rock Garden and Miami G.R.O.W focus on producing Micro-Greens, plants that have not reached maturity.
“We allow the seeds to germinate for two-four days and instead of letting mature at about three months, we’re harvesting these plants at seven-twenty days old.” says Thi Squire, Miami G.R.O.W Director of Education and Product Development
Because of their young age, it is easy to yield many Micro Green harvests.
Each seed tray holds forty to eighty thousands seeds, amounting to several acres of farmland
“Most of what we grow is considered high end, speciality type product and in the past has only been available to high-end chefs. There shouldn’t be a reason why a product is only available to a small set of people, especially when it comes to food…We’ve been working the past few years on developing product…that’s not as expensive and getting it to more people.” says Squire.
G.R.O.W’s products can be found in a South Florida restaurant’s kitchen or on the shelves of a nearby grocery. Unlike many self-sustaining farms, G.R.O.W’s produce is not just for the local farmers’ market. Rock Garden wholesales the produce to be distributed to the masses.
G.R.O.W Produce and their Produce Marketing Association Award
“It’s a lot of work. From marketing with supermarkets to working with seed companies, developing strains, and understanding what to grow and the methods of growing…but it’s really fun…we develop a lot of new product here.” says Squire.
G.R.O.W is an above ground farm, planting everything in pots. Because G.R.O.W is based on abandoned railroad tracks, they create their own soil using compost. G.R.O.W also uses an environmentally friendly drip irrigation system for water conservation. Due to their urban setting, G.R.O.W uses manual labor to support the project.
“This project offers potential job and learning opportunities. We’ve had youth groups and conducted job training. These are skills that one may initially say ‘when will I ever need to know how to transplant rosemary?’ but you can use those skills at the Garden Center in Home Depot, or a nursery, or even to create your own landscaping company. You can take this knowledge beyond the experience.” says Squire.
G.R.O.W has expanded their goal of giving back to the community by providing educational programs for local school children.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to come out and learn where their food has come from, how it’s grown, that it doesn’t come from a plastic bag in the grocery store… We harvest our crops and make a delicious meal with them whether it be a pesto pasta or grilled chicken with homemade herb sauce.” Says squire
These programs aim to leave younger generations with a better connection to where their food comes from and inspire them to lead healthier lifestyles.
Gulliver Academy Children at G.R.O.W your lunch. Photo provided by Miami G.R.O.W
“I’m hoping this teaches people that you can grow edibles anywhere. You don’t need a lot of acreage. You can have pots like these on your back doorstep or windowsill. You don’t need any special equipment or space to grow food.” says Squire.
www.VegLife.tv Find out how reduced red meat intake, healthy diet and lifestyle can cut your chronic disease risk in this episode of VegLife. We talk with Dr. Janet Brill, author of “Prevent Your Second Heart Attack” and “Blood Pressure Down.” Also, we learn from Dr. Michael Greger’s “Uprooting the 15 Leading Causes of Death” video about animal products and their connection to Endotoxemia.
Visit: www.veglife.tv for more information on this episode and the whole series.
For more information on Dr. Janet Brill visit www.DrJanet.com
For more information about Dr. Michael Greger visit: www.NutrtionFacts.org
Watch Dr. Greger’s “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death” Video in full: http://youtu.be/30gEiweaAVQ
Inflammation is the common link between conditions as Alzheimers, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis (As mentioned in VegLife Episode 3 Meat Less.)
⅓ of American Adults suffer from chronic inflammation, leaving the questions why and how do we prevent it?
According to WebMD, Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect us from infection with foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. This may lead to irritation, swelling and loss of joint functioning and if left untreated conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Weight, toxins and stress are all factors that contribute to inflammation and inflammatory diseases. Here are few natural tips for ways to reduce your risk of inflammation and take a step towards improving your VegLife!
1) Prevent Inflammation Tip #1 Drink Plenty of Water
Chug Chug Chug!
Not alcohol VegLifers…Water! Drinking adequate amounts of water is key to keep your body hydrated and flush out toxins. Remember the old “8 – eight ounce glasses per day rule,” that may not be fit for all depending on activity and diet, however a good rule of thumb to follow is one glass before and during each meal, as well as before and after exercise.
2) Prevent Inflammation Tip #2 Stay active and maintain a healthy diet
While this may come as a no-brainer, the numbers don’t lie. The majority of Americans are overweight. By maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet (filled with fruits and veggies) and exercising, not only do we increase our longevity….we DECREASE our risk for inflammation. Toxins and stress are two major causes of inflammation, so by removing toxins from our diet and relieving stress through exercise it’s win-win for you healthy eating, fit VegLifers!
…remember the VegLife is a plant based, wellness, lifestyle.
3) Increase intake of Omega 3 Fatty Acids –
This can be received through fish (for our pescetarian friends) or over the counter plant based dietary supplements like flax seed oil.
4) Green Tea!
Served hot or cold, green tea is a liquid warrior when it comes to inflammation.
5) Consume and cook with healthy oils
Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Grape seed oil…Yay for options!
#VegLife is a web video series centered on promoting plant-based diets.“Veg Life” describes the lifestyle of individuals who identify with or wish to become vegetarian—vegan, pescetarian, or flexitarian--in order to consume a healthier plant based diet.