softhands
Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

3 Steps to Softer Hands: My Experience with Renaud’s Syndrome

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I want to talk about it again! I suffer from terribly, terribly dry hands as a result of Renaud’s Syndrome–my blood circulation is really poor, and the effect of that is most noticeable in the winter time. Being a Cali girl at heart, anything below 60 to me is freezing and my body thinks so too, which is why when winter comes around, it’s like my fingers get frost bites. No joke, I’ve had to wear band-aids just because it gets so cold in my office on a daily basis (winter or not). After years of suffering, I decided to do more than just put a band-aid on the situation (get it?). I sought hand lotion after hand lotion and product and service after another, and this is what works for me! (It may not work for you, but the whole process is kind of like a spa day so make it your own! (Please always consult your physician before starting any new regimen).

Step 1: Get a Regular Manicure

…and not a gel manicure, or acrylics. Just get a regular old fashioned manicure and ask them to pay special attention to your cuticles. Once you get a manicure and your hands feel fresh, free of all hangnails and relaxed after a short hand massage, it’s time to keep up appearances. What I mean is, you need to put lotion on your hands every night and treat your cuticles with some love.

Step 2: Lotion Up! 

I’ve tried nearly every lotion under the sun, and these two have been my holy grails the past couple of months. The Asili Naturals Lavender Shea Body Butter is perfect before bed because of it’s calming lavender scent, and how it sinks into the skin (no messy bedsheets here!). After I wake up and get ready for the day, I then slather on some Green Goo 100% All Natural Hand Goo a few minutes before I head out (so it has time to sink in). My hands definitely drink it in. I bought my Hand Goo from Sierra Trading Post for $10, but you can also find it on Amazon or directly from GreenGooHelps.com. Both products are cruelty-free!

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Green Goo Hand GooANLavender

Step 3: Care for those Cuticles

When I have time to just sit and read or relax, I put on some oil (for the most part, any oil meant for skin will do) and massage the oil into my cuticles for just a few seconds per finger. With Renaud’s my fingertips get really sensitive and makes it hard to do things, like even write sometimes without cringing. Massaging with my rosehip oil really helps my circulation and keeps my hands soft!

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Here are some before and after pictures that prove my method works! You can see that my hands before were peeling, splotchy and red, sometimes also purple due to poor circulation.

Before:

After (posing like a t-rex): 

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Question of the Day

If you have dry hands or skin, or suffer from Renaud’s Syndrome, what works for you?

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

February Favorites: Makeup & Skincare

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February had the shortest amount of days, felt like it would never end, and yet when March 1st came around I was like, “Where did February go?” Clearly, 2018 is off to a weird start. Thankfully, I can’t say the same about all the products I’ve been trying so far. Aside from the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation, I’ve found so many holy grails and we’re only 2.5 months into the year #winning. Memo to self: remember unforgettable foods for March Favorites (stay tuned–check back in March too!)

Skincare & Makeup Favorites

1. Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation

Nothing helps you realize what’s best in your life until you try it’s terrible, terrible counterpart (of sorts). I tried new foundations and kept going back to the Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation. I’m convinced now that it really is that good. Go to Sephora stat and get a sample to try, and tell them you want a week’s worth because you’re worth it but really because you know your paycheck could go to Sephora in one fell swoop. According to the Kat Von D website, the foundation is part of their #veganalert product line, and I believe their entire brand is cruelty-free.

I bought mine from Sephora.

MFB2. Acure CGF Oil-Free Serum

You can’t tell in the picture above but that bottle of serum is empty to the last drop. I literally pulled it out of the trash for you guys (you’re welcome). I alternate the use of this serum with my rosehip oil every night. The reason I love this serum so much is that I can truly tell the difference in my skin the next morning when I didn’t use it. While I would 100% buy this again, I’m too much of a “need for change” type of girl, and want to try a new serum. Any recommendations?

According to ethicalelephant, Acure is a cruelty-free brand, but not all of their products are vegan (the CGF oil-free serum happens to be): Acure Organics is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and PETA Beauty Without Bunny Program. This ensures Acure Organics products and ingredients are not tested on animalsduring any stage of product development and manufacturing. Acure Organics also does not sell in foreign markets that require animal testing by law.

I bought mine at Fresh Thyme but you can buy it on the Vitamin Shoppe as well, and select Target locations.

3. Fresh Sugar Lip Caramel Hydrating Balm

The best part of waaaaking up, is Fresh Sugar Balm on your lips (don’t lie, you said that like you were singing the Folgers jingle.) While I won’t buy this again because I am uncertain if Fresh is vegan and cruelty-free, I did enjoy nourishing my lips with the smell of dulce de leche every morning. My husband didn’t mind it either 😉

According to the Fresh website, the entire brand is cruelty-free (woop woop): As a result, all Fresh products undergo very strict tolerance tests using non-animal methods during the development of each product to ensure quality and safety prior to market. 

However, ethicalelephant found otherwise, so I’ll leave it to you to make that decision.

I bought mine last year at Sephora.

Bath & Body Favorites

4. Asili Naturals Bath Bomb

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After a looooooong day, what’s better than some cuddles, Netflix, wine and maybe a bath? I love how these Asili Naturals bath bombs smell (so subtle and not overly fragrant) and best of all, I can definitely feel softer skin. I made hand soap out of the lavender bath bomb one and lurv it.

You can order them on the Asili Naturals site and in select stores throughout Wisconsin.

Random Favorite

5. Dr. Jaikaran’s Herbodent Toothpaste 

I wasn’t sure which category this should go under so it got it’s own. While I’m not 100% if this is vegan, I know with certainty that it is 100% vegetarian (and most aren’t!), according to their site. My uncle-in-law (??) gave this to me, and I used it a couple of times (and I will probably leave it for guests to use because I am uncertain if it’s VCF), but if you are transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, and can’t find a vegan toothpaste you like, the Herbodent toothpaste might be the perfect stepping stone. You can buy it on Amazon.

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Questions of the Day

What is your favorite VCF serum? What would you recommend? What were your February favorites?

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Califia Farms Almond Milk Cold Brew Latte Review
Vegan Food

Vegan Almond Milk Latte: Califia Farms Review

If you’re anything like I am, you’re skeptical of store-bought vegan anything. I much prefer to make things on my own, but sometimes, ya girl’s in a pinch…like when you wake up with 10 minutes to spare to shower, brush, walk the dog, take out the trash, watch a couple Netflix series etc. etc. SO, I went on the hunt for a morning caffeine push that didn’t require much thought…enter Califia Farms.

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Vegan Cafe Latte Cold Brew Coffee with Almond Milk Review

Nutrition:

At 90 calories per serving, I think the Califia Farms Cafe Latte with Almond Milk makes the perfect treat. A serving is 8 ounces or 240 ml for those who are counting. While a glass of it may seem small, it actually tastes quite creamy and rich, so you can actually savor it while binge-watching something or talking to your dog (me 100%).

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Consistency:

That brings us to consistency. It’s rather creamy! It’s almost the exact consistency of almond milk, but a little thicker.

Taste:

Be forewarned, it tastes really sweet…well compared to a glass of coffee. I should note that I abhor the taste of coffee. In fact, I can only drink it with vegan creamer in it, but this is actually the best middle ground between a frappuccino and black coffee. Honestly, you won’t understand until you try it.

Vegan?

Yes! According to their FAQs: While our full line is not organic, all Califia Farms products are 100% plant-based, non-GMO, carrageenan-free, gluten-free, vegan and made with no artificial ingredients. It sounds like all Califia Farms products are made with sustainability and vegans in mind, so go buy yourself a bottle and enjoy! [#notsponsored, but happy to be if you’re reading this CF ;)]

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Question of the Day

How do you take your coffee or tea? Black or as beige in color with creamer as you can get it?

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Friday Face Off, Vegan Food

Friday Face-Off: Vegan Cream Cheese

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Want some carbs with that schmear? I’ve been obsessed with Everything Bagels and cream cheese for breakfast lately. Something about half of a Whole Foods Everything Bagel covered with some cream cheese makes my mornings so right—wait, what?! Cream cheese?! You heard that right! Vegan cream cheese is almost indistinguishable from it’s dairy-filled counterpart, but probably tastes way better—if you get the right one that is. To help make your decision-making much easier, we’re going to compare two of the most popular cream cheeses on the market, at least where I live.

Tofutti Cream Cheese

TofuttiConsistency

At first glance, this cream cheese has the color of tofu (that almost off-white egg shell color) and the consistency of cream cheese mixed with a touch of gelatin. The tofu color probably comes from that fact that the second, third, and fourth ingredients are: expeller processed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit and oil), maltodextrin, soy protein, tofu.

While this cream cheese is marketed as “Better Than Cream Cheese,” I would have to staunchly disagree. However, if you’re in a pinch and jonesing for vegan cream cheese, it’s not…bad. The only reason I don’t like it is because of the consistency and some what due to it’s taste.

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If you’re interested in buying this, I bought it at the “alternatives” section of my Jewel-Osco. I think it’s fairly accessible at regular grocery stores.

Vegan? Yes!

Taste: 5/10

Price: ~ $3.99 (depends on where you live)

Kite Hill Cream Cheese

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Where do I start about Kite Hill cream cheese? When I opened it, it looked like real cream cheese. Note that the first time I tried it, I bought the chive flavor which was the only flavor that was available.

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The consistency is super creamy (the Jalapeno flavor is a tad bit gelatinous, but truly only 2% more). The taste is even more amazing. I had meat-eaters try it and they love it. My husband tends to favor it as well!

KiteHillConsistency

The only place I can find Kite Hill cream cheese in my neighborhood is at Whole Foods. They have plain, chive and jalapeno. According to Kite Hill, you can find them at Sprouts, Publix, Target and other retailers across the U.S. in addition to Whole Foods. You can use their Store Finder to locate it near you.

Vegan? Yes!

Taste: 9/10 (only because I wish the flavor was a little stronger)

Price: ~ $5.99 (the packaging recently features a 50 cent coupon, which I always use at checkout…the site also features a $1.00 off coupon here)

The Verdict? Kite Hill winds by a landslide.

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Question of the Day

What’s your favorite dairy-free product? And what do you usually eat for breakfast?

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty

Tarte Shape Tape Foundation Review

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The Tarte Shape Tape concealer apparently turned the makeup world on it’s head. It seems Tarte decided to ride the coattails of their concealer’s popularity and bring their beloved Shape Tape lovers with a foundation by the same name. While I have yet to try the Shape Tape concealer (because I don’t need a concealer yet), I decided to give their Shape Tape foundation a try. If you’re thinking about handing over more than $40 to your Ulta salesperson, please read this review first. Spoiler alert: it ain’t good.

Note: I tried this foundation everyday for 10-15 hours per day for 2 weeks straight, just like I did for my Kat Von D Foundation review.

I purchased my foundation at Ulta for $42 including tax. It retails for $39.

The Tarte Shape Tape Foundation: Pros

1. 2 Formula Options: Dry or Oily Skin

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Of the 36 shades (we’ll get into that below), 18 are made for those who have dry skin and 18 for those who have oily skin. Dry skin individuals may opt for the Hydrating Foundation and those with oily skin (hi!) will probably want to try the matte foundation. So, of course, having a semi-oil slick for a face, I opted for the matte foundation.

2. Medium Coverage

TarteSwatch

This is NOT at all a full-coverage foundation. Because it’s more liquidy, it tends to lean on the err of medium coverage. You can build it up, sure, but there’s a reason why you shouldn’t (see cons).

The Tarte Shape Tape Foundation: Cons 

1. The Color Range

After Rihanna’s successful launch of her Fenty Beauty makeup line, including a range of foundation colors for everyone under the sun, Tarte’s range failed to please. As in crash and burn. They only have a selection of 18 shades per line (see above). 18! Drugstore foundations have more of a color range than that, right?

2. Doe-Foot Applicator

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I found this applicator cumbersome to work with. I mean, yes, hardcore first world problem, but every time I used this foundation, I would open it, and swipe the foundation on one of my fingers (clean hands), and would swipe that onto my face. When I needed more, I used a new finger. I don’t think the doe foot applicator is the most sanitary option, which is why I count this as a con.

3. Longevity

Ya’ll, this didn’t last for sh**. I said in the cons that it has medium coverage, and it does, but even one small layer of this foundation lasts maybe about 2 hours, 4 hours if you’re having a good day. If you layer the foundation on, it’s worse. This may be because I have oily skin (not sure), but this foundation moved around SO much. I put my makeup on around 6AM then head to work about an hour later. Around 9AM-10AM, I go to the bathroom and when I look in the mirror, my face has marks from where I touched it because this foundation doesn’t stick worth a dime to your face. It MOVES. It’s a matte foundation that sits on top of your skin. Not to mention, it get super blotchy throughout the day.

Worth It? Absolutely not. Although, you obviously have different skin than I do and there are many other outlying factors where this foundation may be your holy grail! I have tan, oily skin with an olive undertone, and it didn’t work for me.

Question of the Day

What is your favorite vegan and cruelty-free foundation? I went back to my Kat Von D foundation, and am loving it.

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

How to Turn a Bath Bomb Into a Cruelty-Free Shower Gel

If you love the idea of taking baths but don’t have a bath tub fit for a queen like you, or want to enjoy your bath bomb without having to take a bath because some of use just don’t have the time to luxuriate (hi!)…then this SUPER EASY DIY is for you! I’m completely devoid of the DIY gene so the fact that I can even do this says something. Without having to film, this would’ve taken me like 5 minutes to do. Watch the video to find out how to turn your favorite bath bomb into shower gel. No surprise that I used one from Asili Naturals, but you can use any you have.

NOTE: One thing I would do after mixing, is to let the solution settle for up to an hour before pouring into your bottle. Enjoy!

Watch the video here:

Bath Bomb DIY
How to turn a bath bomb into a shower gel

Question of the Day

How else do you use your bath bombs? Do you get creative?

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

3 Ways to De-stress in the Winter

We just came back from a trip to Albuquerque, going from 68 degrees and sunshine to a snowstorm and -15 wind chill. You could imagine how distressed we were landing onto a bed of snow after a 4-hour delay. I know. I know. #firstworldproblems. Anyways, aside from stress from travel hiccups, stress is a part of our daily lives, at least many of us, and it stems from one of three things: Personal, Professional and Self. SO, as always, I got you guys and I’m here to bring you back to your happy space with 3 ways to destress in Winter. Hey, if you live in the west coast where it’s 75 degrees and awesome, you could still use this tips, girl!

Personal Stress

Whether it’s a lingering fight you’re having with your significant other, a breakup gone bad, stress from parents or a friendship gone awry, relationship and personal stress is no joke. It doesn’t matter how close you are to that point of stress, relationship and personal stress is draining. So, how do you come out of it? WRITE and COMMUNICATE.

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Source: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

One of the things that transformed many of my relationships was the 5 Love Languages. If you’re not sure what your top love languages are, go take the quiz! Not going to lie, the web page looks like an ad, but believe me it’s legit. As the name suggests, the love language is how you speak love–do you perceive love (romantic or friendly) to be in the form of affirmations, acts of service, or otherwise?

It’s really interesting. Take the quiz, review your results, then see if your friends or family can take the quiz too. This will not only give you a way to bond, but it may give you more insight into each other’s perceptions.

Self Stress

We are our hardest critics, as the saying goes, and self stress from poor body image, a negative self image or otherwise can quickly send you spiraling. First of all, know that you ARE beautiful inside and out, because it’s your spirit that matters above all else. So one of the first things to do to combat self stress is to smile. That’s seriously the easiest thing you can do, and you’ll already start feeling better. The next, is self love. Take care of yourself! Take some time to brew some tea, pull out a good book, throw on a vegan and cruelty-free face mask and just enjoy some of that time to yourself. By the time your face mask is dry, and you wash it off, you’ll feel some sort of renewal–a fresh start if you will. And if you didn’t already know, the Asili Naturals Spirulina Clay Mask is my FAVE. If you’re not sure how to apply a clay mask, I did a quick tutorial here.

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Professional Stress

I don’t have to tell you that 8 hours of work a day is draining, and even more so when you tend to put in 10-12 hours a day (hello!). Whether you’re simply tired from a long day’s worth of work or stressed from the growing to-do list, you CAN relieve yourself and actually enjoy the time from 5-9 (if you go to sleep at 9 like I do…).

How? Schedule your day for focus. Often times, work stress comes out of “not having the time” to do something else, when in reality, those minutes we spend picking up the phone to browse or just dilly dally actually add up. I sometimes have this problem, so I looked for an app to help me focus because lord help me. I found this app like Forest #notsponsored. It’s cute, because you can set the amount of time you want to focus for, and if you stay focused, say for an hour, you grow a tree. This tree gets added to your forest! The more you stay focused, the more trees you add to your land. You also accumulate points. Once you hit a certain amount of points, it goes toward the company giving a tree to third-world countries where food is scarce. So win-win.

Question of the Day

How do you de-stress?

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Uncategorized, Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty

How to Apply a Clay Mask

If you’re like me, then you slap on a face mask faster than a squirrel to an acorn when you see a pimple on your face. Really–we need to realize that face masks can be just as preventative as they can be reactive. Next time you want to destress (post on destressing coming soon), want to relax, or just want to glow from within, try a clay mask! The one I use is from Asili Naturals. I used to use the one from Glam Glow, but they ain’t VCF (boo!). You can see my comparison of the two here.

Learn how to apply a clay mask and the benefits of using one in under a minute with this super short video:

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Question of the Day

What is your favorite face mask? 

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Vegan and Cruelty Free Beauty, vegan lifestyle

5 Steps for Clear & Acne Free Skin Fast

The flu or something like it hit me hard, ya’ll. I’m still only 98% with the remnants of a cough and lingering sniffles and headaches. Now that I got my boo hoos out of the way, it’s time to talk about how to get clear skin and finally enjoy an acne-free complexion. Personally, I struggled (very minimally) with acne as a teenager, but not so much since. Since Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or forget that it’s V-day at all day is a little over a month away, it’s time to show your face some love so you can enjoy a date night at home or out on the town with full confidence. Whether you’re celebrating with Cupid or not, these tips will ensure you get smooth skin fast and keep it that way!

Step 1: Wash Your Face with Natural Cleansers

Simple Skincare is free of all the nasty chemicals you would find in most commercial face washes. They pride themselves on creating, “products [that] have no dyes, artificial perfumes or harsh irritants that can upset skin and contain skin-loving ingredients and added vitamins for natural, healthy-looking skin.” (NOT sponsored!). It’s important to use such chemical-free cleansers so as not to strip the face on your skin of the beneficial things it already does, like turnover skin cells and produce important oils that help prevent wrinkles (hello, natural botox!).

VCF Cleansers

After washing your face, it’s important to exfoliate your face with–and this is important–a GENTLE exfoliator 2-3 times a week when you’re trying to get rid of a pesky pimple, and just once a week to maintain acne-free skin. I’ve been using the Microdelivery Exfoliating Face Wash from Philosophy since my skin had a major breakout from stress in May. I’ve tried a lot of exfoliators and I like this because:

  1. The “beads” are super gentle. If you’ve used the popular St. Ives Apricot Scrub, you know that those are pretty harsh (and hard). While it may feel like it’s more effective, it’s actually causing micro-tears in your skin which can cause premature wrinkles as your skin tries to repair itself.
  2. It includes Vitamin C, which is important for that glowy skin (here we come, JLo).

Step 2: Maintenance Cleanser

Once your skin is clear of acne, it’s important to keep up with a safe cleaner. The cleanest face soap on the market I’ve found (seriously, you should’ve guessed this by now) is from Asili Naturals. The Shea Face Soap is full of nutrient-rich softening oils to help you maintain baby-butt soft skin. The below is the Rose Hip soap I use to help my the skin on my whole body nice and soft.

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Step 3: Moisturize According to Your Skin

If you have oily skin and acne, opt for oil-free serums and lotions. Once your face has cleared up, maintain your skin with the ultimate skincare secret weapon: Rose Hip Oil.

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Step 4: Medicate

This is where the chemicals come in, and the only time it’ll be ok to use them because it will clear your skin fast. Guaranteed. The first thing to do is recognize the type of acne. If your acne is just skin colored or slightly red bumps, you’ll need to treat it definitely than those pesky painful pimples with the little white tops. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Pimples with the white tops: treat with salicylic acid, like the Clear days ahead lotion from Philosophy.
  2. Skin-colored or reddish pimples: treat with benzoyl peroxide.

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Step 5: Maintain Clear Skin

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Now that your skin is free and clear of acne, it’s time for upkeep! In addition to washing your face every day and after sweaty workout sessions (at most 3 times a day–more and you’ll strip your face of its natural goodness) and proper moisturization, use a clay mask once a week. This Spirulina clay mask will naturally pull out the impurities and prepare it for all the right moisturization.

Question of the Day

What is your secret to clear skin? Share!

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Vegan Food, vegan lifestyle

5 Tips on How to Become a Vegetarian or Vegan in 2018

There are two theories on setting resolutions for the New Year: 1. Yaaass honey fresh start clean slate I’m gonna slay this year, or 2. Ahem, you shouldn’t have to wait 365 days to start a new resolution. I hear you both. But there is something especially special (redundant?) about January 1st this year…it lands on a Monday. What’s more resolutiony than that? Whether you decided to stop eating meat (yay you!) On November 25th or want to start fresh at the beginning of a new year, more power to you! It never matters when you start, it just matters that you start a change and most importantly, that you stick to it. Here are 5 steps to help you become a vegetarian or vegan so that you can make 2018 better not only for you, but for the plant and all the animals on it.

Step 1: Tell Everyone

There is absolutely zero shame in you wanting to a) better your health and b) better the planet. The latter is pretty much the foundation of every religion, right? And no one will bash you for what you believe in (go away trolls!). And if you do happen to deal with those negative naysayers who make fun of “vegan food” or act negative around you, just shroud it out with your good vibes cause that’s all you’re putting out and lettin’ in sistah. Some show on Blue’s Clue’s (hi, 80s baby here) told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. If you’ve tried to nicely explain your way of life or amazing decision to stop eating meat to someone and they just don’t get it…move on. You do you.

Step 2: Expect Bumps In the Road

Giving something up is never easy. If you’ve eaten meat your whole life, it’s hard to go cold turkey. Know that you may have a setback here or there but one setback isn’t the catalyst to failure. Just get back on the buggy.

Step 3: Educate Yourself

Piggybacking on step 2, the main reason most people fail at resolutions, regardless of what it is, is because they’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Someone may want to lose weight because they just want to be skinny and may get there the unhealthy way. Setting up a resolution should come from a desire for change. If you want to become vegetarian or vegan, but aren’t sure why or what to say when people ask you why, then it’s time to educate yourself! Once you feel compassionate about your cause, your resolution becomes less of a goal and more of an intrinsic belief. Check out numerous documentaries on Netflix and YouTube, get a vegan starter kit from PETA, and follow inspirational social media influencers to surround yourself with likeminded individuals.

Step 4: Plan for Success

You may be stuck on your daily ham and cheese sandwich for lunch or chicken and broccoli for dinner. As with every resolution, becoming vegetarian does need some work, but minimal at best. Googling vegetarian versions of your favorite recipes, new recipes all together, finding inspirational meal planners on social media or YouTube, these are all things that can help you plan for success.

The easiest way to start is to take a weekend and meal prep 2-3 vegetarian meals or vegan meals you can use for lunch and or dinner. It’s as easy as even preparing the ingredients you need to pull the meal together in minutes once you get home from work or after picking the kids up from school.

I have some What I Ate Wednesday videos on my YouTube channel with ideas to get you going!

Step 5: Enjoy the Journey

This resolution you set to not eat meat shouldn’t be a stressful one. Your body takes about a month to detox all the blood, spirit and chemicals from the meat products you’ve eaten over the years. Expect withdrawals, bad skin (a part of detox) which turns into amazing skin, stress and pressure. But all this in such a small period of time will lead to your best self.

Please always consult your physician before making any drastic physical or dietary changes.

Question of the Day

What is your resolution for the New Year?

I’m giving up processed sugar of any kind for the month of January. If all goes well, then another month after that and so forth.