12/01/2015: #Giving Tuesday, Thanksgiving, Inspiring Thoughts for Holiday Stress


Caryn covers Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday, inspiring stories to manage stress during the holidays and she briefly comments on climate


Caryn Hartglass: Okay everybody I am Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. I have a list of things I want to share with you on this beautiful December 1st day. It’s “Giving Tuesday!” You’re probably getting a lot of emails in your box about this. It is actually something that was started by the 92nd Y, which is in Manhattan. They do a lot of wonderful programs there. They came up with the concept of “Giving Tuesday.” So we have Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving where everyone is supposed to rush into the stores and buy stuff for cheap. Then we have Cyber Monday where everyone rushes in online to buy all kinds of goodies. Then when you are saturated with consumption and feeling maybe a little guilty, on Tuesday is when you give back to charitable organizations. Organizations that are doing good work on many levels. I want to let you know that my non-profit, Responsible Eating and Living is one of those charitable organizations. We certainly appreciate donations on Giving Tuesday and any day of the year. What we do at Responsible Eating and Living is give all year long. Everything on our site is free, that includes hundreds of recipes, food shows, news reports and articles. It is for anyone who wants it. I know we have a lot more traffic from Thanksgiving since more and more people are looking for delicious plant-based items either for themselves or for guests they are having. It was really fun to see how many people were looking at some of our recipes. I think they’re great because we made a lot of them for our Thanksgiving and got to enjoy them on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Actually on Sunday we decided we had enough of this great, rich food and put it in the freezer. After going for a really long walk Sunday night, we came home and thought, maybe just one more day we really want to enjoy these leftovers. Fortunately things had not gotten too hard and we were able to heat some things up and have a nice dinner. I am affected by those holiday meals. I enjoy them and I want to think the food that we make is healthier than traditional fare you can get, since we don’t use any animal food and all the food we buy is organic. We do tend to salt, oil and sweeten some of the holiday food. When you’re not used to eating salt, sugar and oil, a little bit can go a long way. It can make you feel out of balance and I’m feeling it! I confess, I’m feeling it! I’ve enjoyed all those foods but I’m really very happy to get back to oatmeal and kale salads and soups. Those are the foods that make me feel good. Don’t we want to just feel good? I want you to feel good! That’s why I’m opening up my coaching program towards the holidays and a little after, freeing up some time in my schedule to do some private one-on-one coaching. If you go to responsibleeatingandliving.com and click on the coaching page, you can see that I have some holiday specials that you can take advantage of, like a free consultation! You can find out more about that at responsibleeatingandliving.com and go to the coaching page.

I try to share as much as I can about living this plant-based lifestyle at my website and my blog, What Vegans Eat. I share everything out there for people who are interested. But, some people need a little extra attention, individualized attention, and I am offering that between now and the end of January with special holiday rates.

If you have any questions you can email me at info@realmeals.org. I wanted to talk a little about the holidays coming up and giving because this is Giving Tuesday. Whether you decide to support charitable organizations or not, that is up to you. You certainly get a tax deduction when you do that. It is the holiday time and I know a lot of people are thinking about gifts and what to buy. I want you to keep in mind; I know it’s tempting to go for the sales. A lot of us don’t have unlimited income so that we can buy absolutely everything, we want to get good value. But it’s important to connect the dots and know where things came from. For example, chocolate is a very popular item to buy for gifts. There are all different types of luxury chocolates packaged in all types of ways. I want you to think about where that chocolate comes from. We did a chocolate story; you can find it at Responsible Eating and Living, where we talked about a number of issues related to chocolate. There are some brands that may contain a high level of cadmium and lead. Then there are companies that buy cocoa beans from areas on the Ivory Coast that use child slaves to harvest the cocoa beans. So, when you are thinking about celebrating and doing lovely things and buying wonderful products that you want to give to those you care about and love, think about where these things come from. I think that is a responsible thing to do. You can find out more by watching our chocolate story report. The Food Empowerment Organization has a wonderful list about which chocolate companies have been transparent about where they get their chocolate. All the ones who have been transparent of course are not getting their cocoa from groups that are using child slaves. You can pretty much assume the ones who are NOT transparent are unfortunately still supporting that kind of horrible activity. You don’t want to do that, do you? So that’s chocolate.

There are other kinds of items, luxury items, things that we like to buy especially during the holidays. Clothing for example. I have been a vegan for 27 years now. Part of being a vegan in addition to not eating food is not wearing clothes that comes from animals or animal byproducts. Another piece of it is not using non-human animals for other things: personal care products, lotion, makeup, and articles of clothing. That’s a big one. Leather and fur and wool. I mentioned last week we were at the Anti Fur Society Conference and Cruelty Free Fashion Show. We recommend checking that little video out because you can discover many of the new cruelty free companies that are popping up that are making beautiful, beautiful clothes from natural and synthetic fabrics that do not come from animals.

A lot of people think for example, that wool from sheep is a natural and beautiful thing. But just like anything, even like the maca that we were just talking about, if people can make money from it, there will be exploitation. With the maca right now we are seeing the exploitation of people coming in with big suitcases from Peru and taking raw maca root products out of the country illegally. With sheep, if you read about the process for the majority of wool today, it’s horrendous. The sheep are treated very poorly, they are sheared very quickly, they have a lot of bruises, their tails are frequently snipped and our course there are no anesthetics. They grow these thick coats that are supposed to protect them during the winter. Often what happens is they get sheared before the winter and then they’re given these little coats to wear. It’s not a pretty picture. So, wool, although it may seem like a lovely thing and people may like to knit their own wool sweaters, or get very lovely warm sweaters for the holidays, wool is not a happy fabric unfortunately. There may be some small farmers out there who are treating their animals a lot nicer. I personally don’t want to take from any non-human animal. I just don’t think it’s right and we have some many wonderful materials available for us today that are really warm. For those of you who are into really high-tech winter sports, wool is an outdated material. There are more high-tech fabrics available today that function a lot better. They keep us warm in wet weather, and keep up dry and from getting sweaty. Lots of things to think about. There are more and more companies today that are creating pocketbooks, bags for men and women. Shoes that are not made from leather. Again, you can find out more about the vendors if you watch our little video from the Anti Fur Society Conference and Cruelty Free Fashion Show.

Another thing that goes on during the holidays is stress. It’s supposed to be a time of joy and giving and good will to all. I am all for good will. I really believe in good will but a lot of people get stressed out during these times. Buying and shopping and trying to get the right gifts. There is a lot of grumbling going on. A healthy diet, number one, can help you deal with stress. When you’re eating healthfully, you don’t have as much information and you are able to manage things that can hit you during the day that may not be as calm and even as you’d like. But, there are other ways to manage stress. Although I like to say it’s all about food- there is food for the mind, food for the soul, not necessarily the food that we put in our mouths. From time to time on this program, we’ve talked about meditation, we’ve talked about emotional issues. During this time, all of those sensitive, emotional thoughts that we have can be triggered.

For example, I like to talk about tuning in love on this program. I didn’t mention it just until now and I’m glad I remembered to say it because I want to say it everyday. This is something I recommend we all do. Tune in love. During the stressful periods is a really good time to tune in love. Here are some suggestions, for example, lot of long lines are going to be out there, right? When you’re buying gifts or whatever. Standing on a line can be really, really frustrating when you have a lot to do. Places to go people to see and the stress piles on. When I am in a long line, I like to do a yoga pose, it’s called mountain pose. It’s a standing meditation. Here is a time when you can choose to be grumpy which in turn will make other people grumpy. Or give yourself a little gift. When you’re standing in line, there’s really nothing you can do. You can just stand there and breathe deeply. Stand on your feet, flat feet almost shoulder width apart and you start from the bottom up. Stretching your body upward to the sky. That means lifting your knee caps, engaging your lower thigh muscles, lifting them up. Squeezing up your butt muscles, from there you engage your abdominal muscles, and then think about your vertebrae stretching upward, keeping your shoulders down, breathing evenly, keeping your chin down and then just continually repeating this cycle. If you’re standing there, you’re breathing and you’re feeling good! You feel good, you feel strong, you feel centered. Then, the next thing you know, it’s your turn and you haven’t gotten all stressed out.

I also wanted to share a story. I was on the subway. I live in New York City, I don’t have a car. I did this intentionally. I moved to a place that was near a subway stop and I don’t need to have a car. I think it’s very, very liberating. But there are times when the subway can be very crowded. It can also be a scary place depending on what is going on in the political world or who may step into any of the subway cars at any particular time. But, I still love it. I think it’s a great way to get around. I was in a subway car the other day and these two people came on. One was a woman, a large woman. She was very, very angry. Then this man came on, he was also on the larger side. They didn’t know each other, but she was yelling at him. I don’t know what he did but he really bothered her. The place was crowded and she was yelling at this guy, and you could tell everyone around was very uncomfortable. But, nobody wanted to do anything. Because even though we are all so close together, we want to stay as separate as we possible can. I thought for a moment, what can I do? I thought tune in love. This woman was experiencing so much anger. I don’t know if this guy did anything right or wrong, I had a feeling he did. I started creating a back-story that this woman has been abused and has struggled most of her life, so she is very sensitive. We were just seeing the result. A lot of exploitation and misfortune. I could have been totally off base, but it made me feel better thinking that her anger was from something unrelated to all of us. That if we could all just spread a little sunshine and spread a little love, it might be more helpful to strangers that we don’t even know. This man that she was targeting caught my gaze for a moment. I just looked at him and I said, I mouthed, “send out love, think about love.” That’s what I imagined, I imagined enveloping all of us in love. What else can you do, really? So in this very stressful time, you can get wrapped up in the grumpiness of it, you can feed yourself with all of the stress, anxiety and tension, or you can tune in love. And you can share it with everyone else. I’ll tell to what, it may sound all gushy, but you know what? In the end it feels good. While I’m on this planet, I want to feel as good as I can, everyday. It’s important. I talk about exploitation and we have a habit of exploiting whoever we can, whenever we can to profit. That’s the global view. Not only am I against exploitation and taking advantage of humans and non-human animals, exploiting ourselves, treating ourselves badly and knocking ourselves. We need to take better care of ourselves because when we do, we can do a lot more for everyone else. Now this time period, this holiday season that’s coming up is really supposed to be about service, giving to others. This is Giving Tuesday and I’m just using the opportunity to talk more about giving, not just today but everyday. These holidays are coming up and it’s all about good will and doing good and the world needs a lot more of that. So, my question to you is, what are you doing? What are you doing to be of service to others? I’d really love to hear it because when I hear about wonderful things other people are doing it makes me feel good. We too often hear about all the crummy things going on. Well, we need to hear about all the good things that are going on. So I encourage that, and I would like you to share your stories with me. I know today is Giving Tuesday, but my Giving Tuesday is going to be tomorrow, Wednesday. I was recently asked by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Hospital, one of the biggest cancer hospitals in the country and it’s here in Manhattan. I was unfortunately with a family member who is going through ovarian cancer. As I mentioned before, I have been there with ovarian cancer. They had these activities for the patients, which is really lovely. So we went and heard a comedian and the comedian was finished a little early in the hour, and everyone was still sitting there waiting to be entertained. My cousin volunteered me and said I’m a professional singer and I can sing. Now I can’t say I was too happy about that. I wasn’t prepared and I don’t have any music with me. But, I looked all around and saw all of these people and I thought it’s the least I can do. If I can get up and sing a song and it can make their time in the hospital better or lighter, I would be happy to do that. Well, I did and I was invited to come back for a concert. Tomorrow I am giving a concert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Hospital. That’s what I’m doing for my Giving Tuesday, on Wednesday. Got it? Good. Let’s see, we have about two or three minutes left. Did I cover everything that I wanted to? The last seed I wanted to plant here is we’ve got these climate talks going on in Paris. I don’t know what’s going to come out of them but I cannot reiterate enough how important a plant-based diet is for our climate. Many people talk about the difference between raising animals on factory farms vs. raising animals by grazing and more humane. What we have come to learn, unfortunately, is that when we confine and intensify animals in factories it creates less greenhouse gas, which is more cost effective. It’s horrifically cruel but more efficient. Never do we compare those options with growing more plant foods. That’s the cleanest way we can do it and that’s the best way, in my opinion, to solve the crisis we have with our climate right now. We all need to be getting back to eating organic plant foods. I put that out there and I encourage you to do the same.

You can find me at responsibleeatingandliving.com. I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me and please don’t forget to send me a message when you get a chance at info@realmeals.org. Tune in love! That’s your assignment and have a delicious week!

Transcribed by Adella Finnan, 1/10/2017

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