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…

Run NOLA: Beyond the Race

February 6, 2015 — 2 Comments

Situated less than three hours from my hometown of Pensacola, New Orleans is a city I’ve had a close relationship with for more than a decade—since I could legally drive a car. And in the years following high school, I’ve spent some monumental moments in this city.

New Orleans is the first (and only) place my car has been towed. It’s where I’ve seen some of my favorite musical acts, between intimate venues and festival settings. It’s where I became an adult, that is, I spent my 18th birthday here watching the Faint and Bright Eyes perform. It’s where I saw Sufjan (the man) Stevens up so closely that I presented him with a personal note (creepy? maybe). It’s the location of impromptu day trips taken with my mom, and friends. And it’s even where I [unintentionally] was with my roommates the moment the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl five years ago.

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This photo was taken just after we stepped outside onto Bourbon Street, minutes after we watched the Saints win the Super Bowl, on a big screen inside the confines of One Eyed Jacks. I’ve never seen an entire city erupt like this and I wouldn’t trade being there in this moment of chaos for anything.

With so many memories attached to this city, it’s no wonder I was eager to experience it from a street-level perspective (running). And so, at the beginning of 2012, I jumped on the opportunity to run the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon for the first time. I was back for round two the following year, in 2013. Unfortunately, timing didn’t pan out last year, since I had literally just quit my job, wasn’t quite trained, and the race fell on the same weekend as a 15K at home in Pensacola, so I opted for that instead. However, for the past year, I’ve been eager to make a NOLA race comeback. Granted the drive was much longer this time coming all the way from St. Augustine, I wasn’t going to miss it. Thankfully Andrew wanted to join, so we made an extended venture out of it.

In my last post, “Run Happy, Run NOLA,” I elaborated on the race itself and the moments leading up to the start line. I also noted there to be much more to our trip. With that, here are some of the sights and tastes we experienced, beyond the race.

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Run Happy, Run NOLA

February 2, 2015 — 4 Comments

A week ago Sunday I was running down the streets of New Orleans with thousands of fellow runners. It was my third time participating in the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.

These 13.1 miles took me through downtown, along St. Charles and back, through the French Quarter and toward City Park. I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:04:09, soaked in a mixture of ice cold water, salt, and sweat.

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Before offering a play by play of the race, I feel I must first acknowledge the moments leading up to the start line, and the love that supported me along the way.

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This photo was taken Friday night at the expo. Stopping by the expo just before it closed on night one, rather than waiting until Saturday, meant we were able to walk through and see everything without the crowd, and take our time being silly.

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