“I wish I had the time and money to cook (and eat) good food.”

This is a statement I’ve heard uttered repeatedly, especially in response to my electing to be vegan, and my mention of how much I cook.

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted the above photo on social media, along with the following note:

“It only takes twenty minutes (or less) to turn a basket of teeny taters into cheesy mash. The fact that this tater basket was only $1 at the produce stand made last night’s dinner taste ever better. Local green beans, broccoli, red pepper, sweet onion, spinach and cabbage were steamed in a pan on the stovetop and enjoyed alongside this mash + a fresh juicy tomato & DIY goddess dressing.”

I also mentioned that I only gave this meal 5-10 solid minutes of prep and stovetop attention and the rest of the time I let it cook itself while I fed the pup, let him outside, went outside with him (with window open to keep an eye on the food), straightened up some things, washed a few dishes, changed clothes…etc.

Truthfully, I’m always slightly baffled (and bummed) when I hear someone say they don’t have the time or funds to cook good, healthy food. Believe me when I say, it doesn’t take fancy ingredients, excess money, or excess time to cook up a fresh, hearty, delicious, local meal, using just a pot and a pan.

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If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago what my spring training and race plan looked like, I would have told you that it looked like training heavily, in preparation to return to Nashville for the St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon, this time to run the half marathon. I would have told you that this was exactly what I needed to do for me, for my running, for my season, for my support of the race series, and most of all, for the nostalgic, sentimental part of me that longed to return and celebrate the one year anniversary of my first ever full marathon, alongside friends I love and miss. I would have told you I was sure about all of this.

The problem with this response is that my answer was all about “me,” and not at all about “we.”

At various points of my life, I’ve felt like I was the most independent person I knew (and this very well might have been true). I’ve proved to myself I can do anything alone.

For years, I’ve strategically worn my independent spirit as a strength. Deep down, in a lot of ways, my tenacious efforts to be as independent as possible, have underneath the surface, always been a defense mechanism of sorts. They have always been tied to a resistance within my heart. A resistance toward being completely vulnerable with anyone—until Andrew.

Andrew has shown me that although I am totally capable of existing as a “me,” there’s something incredible about choosing to sacrifice a part of your own self-interest to exist as a “we,” when it is loud and clear that someone else was made for you. In the case of Andrew, it’s been loud and clear from day one, even when I wasn’t ready to hear it.

Last year while I ran the full marathon, Andrew tracked me every single step of my run—all five hours. He shipped me popsicles and an art piece in the form of a card as a congratulatory treat for after the race. He wasn’t even my boyfriend at that point, yet he was already believing in my every step.

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Spring is officially coming at us this week! Consider celebrating the arrival of a fresh new season filled with green, by springing for plants—eat vegan for an entire day. 

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There’s still time to join the masses in making an official pledge to eat plant-based this Friday, March 20, via Meatout.org. Since 1985, this international Meatout event has helped raise awareness of the benefits of eating vegan: helping animals, achieving great health, and saving the planet. Each year, thousands upon thousands make a pledge and join in.

If you are thinking of springing for plants this season—by pledging to do so Friday, or any other day—here are some suggestions to help you eat vegan at all hours, any day you choose.

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When a friend mentioned the upcoming Northeast Florida Veg Fest, set to take place in nearby Jacksonville, on Saturday March 7, I immediately marked my calendar. Since this would be our first ever Veg Fest (me + Andrew), we were both eager with anticipation as we counted down the days.

What’s Veg Fest all about? If you aren’t familiar with such festivals, Veg Fests are dedicated to local, sustainable, eco-friendly, compassionate, organic, healthy and humane organizations and businesses. In short, a dream festival for this vegan. Known for their tasty samples and vegan treats, Veg Fests are also family-friendly events, open to anyone (not just vegans).

Although in the future, I’m interested in having my own booth or participating in a cooking demo, Saturday, we were simply there to share the experience, and soak up all the veg-friendly goodness. And of course, I was representing myself, Vegan on the Run.

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It’s my birthday! Well, sort of. Today Vegan on the Run turns one.

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This photo was taken a year ago by my mom, just before launching VOTR.

When we approach a landmark anniversary or milestone of any kind, we tend to look back, be it to pat ourselves on the back over where we’ve come from, or to be hard on ourselves for what we haven’t accomplished by now. While looking back for a moment can be healthy in offering perspective, if we lose ourselves in the rearview, we risk stalling out. We lose our sense of motion. This is something I struggle with.

As Vegan on the Run celebrates its birthday today, I’m overriding my natural instinct to look back, and instead, stare straight ahead, not to the distant future, but to the immediate present.

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Here’s me at the present (well, close enough). This photo was taken by Andrew a few weeks ago at the Farmers Market.

In my personal life, I’m constantly learning how to do life together with Andrew, in a partnership. Being a “we” is something that feels foreign at times to the both of us, considering we’re still relatively fresh off of four years of what we like to refer to as desert wandering. There are things we’re both still working out that don’t magically fix themselves when you work someone else into your equation. Instead, they rise to the surface and now that someone else can see them, must be dealt with. Vulnerability doesn’t come easily for me. But sharing the ugliest parts of myself and dealing with them, is key to breaking cycles of negative behavior, fostering better communication, and forward motion.

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Reality—we all exist within the confines of complex human bodies. Regardless of shape or size, we are all comprised of bones, flesh, blood, and teeth.

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While our spirits may be infinite, we rely on these physical forms to carry us throughout our daily activities. To keep our bodies functioning at their best, it is up to us to feed ourselves what we need to thrive and heal, rather than merely survive, or breakdown. This is my ultimate motivation and drive for supplying my body with plant-based food that is as close to its natural form as possible.

Going vegan at the start of my 20s, coupled with a move toward mindfulness and reevaluating my relationship with food, turned my life around for the better. Still, I am not here to say choosing to eat only plants is a magical shield, nor am I wearing some sort of invincibility cloak. The truth is, everyone gets worn down sometimes.

Even us vegans get sick. 

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When the topic of this year’s Pensacola Double Bridge Run originally came up in conversation, I assumed the race was either the same weekend as the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (just like it was last year), or pretty close. Regardless, I went ahead and wrote it off as a “no go” for me, that is, until I found out that it was set to take place two weeks after the NOLA Rock ‘n’ Roll Half, and that my mom was planning to run it.

After these realizations, I was sold. I had no desire to race it. Instead, I decided that more than anything else, I wanted to run it with my mom and pace her. I couldn’t miss this opportunity. And so, I took a quick weekend trip home to do just that. It was everything I could have hoped it would be—and so much more.

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Fun Fact: My running story dates back to the stroller. I then eased into running on my own two feet by participating in one-mile fun runs. This photo above is of my mom holding my hand and helping me along during a fun run. I was about four years old, and she was in her early 40s. Until the Double Bridge Run, the longest race my mom and I had ever run together is a 5K.  Continue Reading…