Chunky Coconut Granola

To be honest with you, I am an incurable coconut addict. Whether we are talking sweet or savory, dried, as oil, water, milk or puree – coconut is always a good idea!

Maybe it is my Caribbean roots, I am not sure. But one thing is certain: It is an official love affair, since always and forever.

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No wonder that I came up with the idea for this coconutty granola, short after I discovered how easy and pleasing it was to make granola myself.

Long time had I given up on Müsli, as the German fellas like to call it. Regular, store bought granola´s sugar content just terrified me, was always quite lame in taste and the price for organic granola overall repulsive.

This homemade granola carries a triple dose of coconut: Puree, oil and coconut chips. The combination gives an amazing coconut flavor without being overly dominant.

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My coconut granola is also naturally sweetened with agave syrup, and rounded up with an addition of dried apricot.

This recipe is not only super yummy, it’s also simple.

I has only just 7 ingredients and takes roughly 30 minutes to prepare.

This granola is:

Chunky
Crunchy
Coconutty
Naturally sweet
Nourishing
& Delicious

It makes the perfect breakfast or snack in between meals.

I love to have mine with soy milk or yogurt, add banana slices and other fruits on hand or just eat it right out off the jar!

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Chunky Coconut Granola

And now its time to make your own!

Prep time
10 mins
time
20 mins
Total time
30 min

Super crunchy and naturally sweetened coconut granola with dried apricot and flaxseed! Just 7 ingredients and perfect for a healthy breakfast or snack attacks.

Author: Jen May
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4 cups

Ingredients

– 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
– 1/2 cup coconut puree
– 3 Tbsp coconut oil
– 1/3 cup agave syrup
– 1/2 cup coconut flakes
– 1/4 cup dried fruit (I use sliced apricot)
– 2 Tbsp flaxseed
– a pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
  2. In a large bowl mix oats, dried coconut, flaxseeds and salt – stir to  combine.
  3. To a small saucepan, add coconut oil, agave syrup and coconut puree. Warm over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking frequently until the two are totally combined and there is no visible separation.
  4. Immediately pour over the dry ingredients and stir to combine until all oats until thoroughly coated. Arrange on a large baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and turn the pan around so the other end goes into the oven first (so it bakes evenly).
  6. To keep this granola chunky, don’t stir during baking, or right after. This will help it form together and create “chunks”, so handle as little as possible!
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes more, watching carefully as to not let it burn. You’ll know it’s done when the granola is golden brown and very fragrant.
  8. Let cool completely before enjoying. Add dried fruit to the pan while the granola is cooling (optional). Break into clumps.
  9. Store in a sealed bag or container at room temperature for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

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Got a sweet tooth and wanna go all in?! Then add coconut sugar! That makes for an awesome coconut four-some.

You may or may not add chopped almonds, cashews or pecans to the mix. All work well and make the granola even chunkier!

Tip: Remember to add dries fruits only after baking. It burns easily, as I had to learn the hard way 😉

If you try this recipe, let me know and leave a comment. I would love to see your creations on Instagram! Make sure you use the hashtag #vegannomadlife so I can see your creation! Enjoy!

 

How To Save Money For Traveling

Peeps, todays blog is the first part of my low budget travel series or put in other words: The secret to travel the world with little money. This first article is about how to save enough money to travel. In a second blogpost I will talk about smart choices that you can make while you are on your trip. I will try to give you a basic idea of the possibilities you have while you are on a low budget and still make the most of your adventure!

Thinking about my own spendings and writing them all down, I realized that there are many expenses I didn’t know were there. Financial experts call these “phantom expenses” — You never know they are there because the expenses are so small. A dollar here and a dollar there adds up. Even a daily bottle of water or cup of coffee can make a substantial difference over the course of a year.

What does this have to do with travel? One of the main reasons why you think you can’t travel the world is money. “I can’t afford it,” people say, “I have too many expenses.” I am sure you have expenses you can’t cut, but if you cut your phantom expenses, reduce your set costs, and find other ways to save you can build your travel fund much more quickly.

No matter how cheap you want to be, travel requires some money. There’s no way to avoid that, so in order to save for your trips, you need to cut your expenses and learn how to safe money. Here are some simple and creative ways to cut your expenses, make money, and get on the road sooner.

 

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Are you dreaming of visiting Rio de Janeiro and watch to sunset from the top of the Pão de Açúcar but don’t know how to afford it? Let me teach you how to safe enough money to make your dream come true!

 

1. Cut the coffee

Coffee is a daily expense that quietly drains your bank account without you ever noticing. That daily $3 coffee costs you $93 per month. At $1,116 per year, that’s more than a month in Asia. Give up the coffee, switch from cappuccino to a standard brew, start drinking tea, or brew your own cup. This is an easy, low-hanging-fruit expense that can yield big savings right away. You meet friends at Starbucks a few times a week? Replace those meetings with a pleasant stroll or an at-home kaffeeklatsch. You don’t have to give up good times—you just have to re-imagine them.

2. Stop drinking

I know it seems drastic. But alcohol is expensive. Cutting down the amount you drink is going to have a big impact on your budget. While this might not apply to everyone, those of you who are carefree might go out with your friends on the weekend. Drink before you go out to the bar or simply don’t drink at all. Cutting down the amount of alcohol you consume is considered low-hanging fruit — an easy way to save money.

3. Quit smoking

Smoking kills not only you, but also your wallet. A $10 pack per day amounts to $3,650 per year. Even half that amount would still yield enough money for close to two months in Central America. If you don’t want to stop smoking for your health, do it for your next adventure.

5. Stop snacking

A snack here and there not only adds calories to your waistline but also empties your wallet — another example of „phantom expenses“. We don’t think much of them because they cost so little, but they add up over time and eat into our savings. Eat fuller meals during lunch and dinner and avoid the snacks.

 

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Want to hang out on a beach in Brazil or get tanned in Colombia soon? Take these tips to heart!

 

6. Buy a metal water bottle

Plastic water bottles are not only harmful to the environment, they are also harmful to your wallet. One or two water bottles a day at $1 per bottle will add up to at least $30 a month. That’s $360 a year! You can spend a week in France with that much money! Instead of plastic, buy a metal water bottle and fill it with tap water.

7. Replace your light bulbs

Seriously! Electricity costs money and since every penny counts, using energy-efficient light bulbs will cut down on your utility bills. Fluorescent light bulbs now cost as little as $2.50 USD for a pack of two, and replacing just five bulbs can cut $75 per year off your electric bill. Go green!

8. Buy second-hand

Why pay full price when you can pay half? Use websites like Amazon, wholesale websites, and clearance sales to buy at discount. Same goes for clothes. Thrift-stores make your money stretches much farther. On average, used products are generally 50% cheaper – allowing you to save money for other important expenditures.

9. Reduce the spending on entertainment

It can be easy to be peer pressured into unnecessary spending if your social group spends its time at expensive bars and other venues. Instead of dropping your friends, start suggesting or planning lower cost get-togethers. Have a movie night at your house instead of the theater. Host a casual potluck instead of catching up at an expensive restaurant. I don’t know about you, but I find movies ridiculously expensive. Cut out the movies or watch them online via Netflix ($7.99 per month) or iTunes ($1.99). Whatever you do, cutting out trips to the movies will save you a bundle.

10. Evaluate your subscription services

Cancel anything you don’t use enough to be worth the cost. In the age of high speed Internet, an easy thing for most people to eliminate is cable television. Video game subscriptions, beauty boxes, and magazines are other expenses that may seem small but add up over time.

 

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Learn to minimize your “phantom expenses” and you will be able to discover exotic cities like Bogota, its art culture and history in less time than you ever imagined!

 

11. Quit the gym

One great way to save money is to cancel your gym membership, or, if you don’t have one, don’t get one. Your membership at a gym can be very expensive. Typical memberships run between $30 and $70 per month. That works out to be an annual savings of between $360 and $840 if you cancel that membership.

But don´t worry, there are a billion ways for you to still get that workout in! Just use a little imagination. Take a look at your surroundings. Start off with a good walk, or run if you prefer, around the block or up and down the road. Your self-guided workout is limited, really, only by your imagination.

My recommendations for your free workout:

  • Use free apps like N+TC Nike Training Club App for your home work and get into body weigh training with the Freeletics app at no cost
  • Try a free yoga class and challenge yourself with „Yoga with Adriene“ on You Tube
  • Find outdoor workout groups online, for example through Facebook
  • And of course: run, run, run. You can do it nearly anywhere and all you need is a good pair of shoes

12. Lose the car

Cars are crazy expensive to own, between insurance, repairs, loan payments, and filling your tank with gas (current average price of gas: $3 USD per gallon). Get rid of your car if you can. Learn to love the bus, take the subway, bike, or walk. It might take longer to get to work using public transportation and this tip may not be feasible for everyone, especially those in smaller towns that don’t have an extensive public transportation system, but an alternative is to sell your car and buy a cheaper used one, which you will only need until you leave for your trip. Buying a throwaway car will allow you to pocket the money from your more expensive car and put it toward your travels.

13. And one for the girls

Sick of spending money on hygiene products every month? Menstrual cups are a great solution that will save you money throughout your menstrual lifetime. One menstrual cup can last for up to 10 years, so you no longer need to stock up on tampons and pads each month. A menstrual cup is a one-off investment that will see you through each month – lasting for many periods, over many years. Just think of all the things you can spend that extra cash on!

14. Learn to cook

We all need to eat, but depending on where you are based, restaurants are getting quite expensive these days. Many people overspend by eating out often, especially when it comes to lunches at work. Even if you would only spend $5 a work day on lunch, you would end up with a sum of $100 per month and $1200 per year. If you resolve to prepare a majority of your meals at home, you will be able to save quite a bit of money each month.

What I do is saving the leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, thus saving more money. You don’t need to be a whiz in the kitchen, either. There are a million and one cooking sites that will teach you how to cook fast and healthy meals. The recipes on this blog are all created in my student low budget kitchen, thus perfect for the small purse. Again, to keep your food bill low, cook more often.

15. Save in the supermarket

Instead of sticking by a brand or making a traditional shopping list, buy items as they go on sale for the best deals. While the savings of buying sales items in bulk may be tempting, only purchase what you can safely store or consume quickly. Always pick the item with the lowest cost per unit. If you don’t want to do the math yourself, many grocery stores will even list the cost per unit next to the item.

 

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And just because I can, here is another beautiful sunset for you. If this is not worth saving on coffee and alcohol, what is?

 

16. Cut coupons

The Entertainment Book, grocery coupons, Groupon, and loyalty cards all reduce the price you pay at the register. Clipping coupons might make you feel like an 80-year-old grandmother, but the goal here is to save money, and coupons definitely help with that.

17. Buy produce at farmers markets

I also recommend you to check out local farmers markets. They often have great prices for high quality produce. Get to know the producers or salespeople and enjoying the great deals that can come from such a relationship. Also, agricultural products are more expensive early or late in the season. If everyone at a market has a particular product, the price will drop, but if only one vendor has an item, he or she can set the price individually. To save big cash, buy products at the peak of their season. If you show up to the market right before closing time you will most likely get great deals.

My friend Connie wrote a great article about her experiment on living with 3 € a day! Go and check it out here.

 

18. Find a roommate and rent out or sublet extra space

You’ll see a huge gain in your savings by lowering your housing costs. Downsize your apartment or bring in some roommates. Consider to move back in with your parents for the last months before a bigger trip. This might safe you a couple thousand bucks! If this is not an option for you, bring in a roommate. Turn that living room into a spare room if necessary. In NYC, people turn living rooms into bedrooms and studio apartments into two bedrooms by putting a folding screen in the middle of the room. It’s not the most ideal living situation, but it does save money and could potentially net your hundreds of dollars to put towards your savings.
Are you going on a long business trip or vacation? Consider short term renters while you’re away. Alternatively, if you live in a city like Austin or San Diego that has annual events that draw huge crowds, you may choose to stay with a friend and rent out your place for its duration at extremely high rates using platforms like Airbnb.

19. Get rid of cable

In the age of streaming TV, there’s no reason for you to be spending $50 per month on cable television. Get rid of it and just watch everything online for free or use Netflix!

20. Ditch your landline

I honestly know less than 10 people under 30 these days who have anything other than a mobile phone. You don’t need both a mobile phone and a landline. Ditch your phone line and avoid doubling your phone expenses.

21. Downgrade your phone

Having an iPhone costs about $83 per month. While smartphones are handy devices, getting a cheap phone without any fancy apps will cut your monthly phone bill in half. You might get bored on the train not being able to read the news, but saving an extra $500 a year will allow you to spend a few more weeks in Europe.

22. Open an online savings account and pay yourself first

While saving, you can have your money grow a little bit more by putting it in a high-yield online savings account. One of the best saving strategies is to pay yourself first. What this means is that you designate a certain amount of your paycheque as your pay and you pay that money to yourself before you pay your bills. It can be any amount that you decide. The important part is that you pay yourself first rather than last. Most people pay all of the bills first and then save anything that might be left over. For most people, that method of saving doesn’t really work because nothing is left over to save.

If you pay yourself first, then money will get saved because paying yourself is now your first priority. The nice thing about this method is if your budget is a little tight, it forces you to make adjustments elsewhere and your savings continue to grow.

Paying yourself first also makes sense. Why are you going to work everyday anyway? To earn money for someone else? No way. You go to work to earn money for you and your family. That’s why you should pay yourself first—to make sure that your first priority is taken care of: you. It is not likely that anyone else is going to take care of you because they assume that you are taking care of yourself.

Automate your savings so they’re just like another bill that you must pay every month. After you pay your bills and Pay Yourself First, you can spend the remaining amount of money on whatever you want, guilt-free. This could be as simple as putting $50 per month into your savings account to build your cash cushion. After 12 month you will be surprised to find 1200$ worth of savings ready to be used for your next adventure.

23. Save impulsively

Tempted by an unnecessary purchase? Talk yourself down, then enter the amount of money you might have spent into a free app called ImpulseSave. That money will be transferred into your savings.

 

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24. Found money = fund money

Any unexpected cash (rebate checks, the quarter you
found in a parking lot, etc.) goes into savings.

25. Dollar bill challenge

When you get home from work or running errands, put all the $1 bills from your wallet in a jar.

26. Get a new credit card

A travel credit card can give you free money, free rooms, or free flights. After accruing miles and rewards points with your card on everyday purchases, you can redeem them for free travel on your trip. You’ll even earn huge sign-up bonuses when you get a new card. When used properly, these cards generate free money. Start early. As soon as you decide to travel the world, get a travel-related credit card and begin earning points on your daily purchases.

27. Have a spending plan

The very best method to saving money is to create a Spending Plan or a Budget. With a budget you figure out what your income is and what your expenses are.

So the first thing you should do is to get out a sheet of paper and write down all your set expenses: rent/mortgage, car payments, cable bill, cell phone, insurance, school payments, and the like. Tally them up. Then write down all your discretionary spending. This is what you spend on food, movie nights, drinks, shopping, that daily coffee to go, cigarettes, sports tickets, your daily midday snack, and other similar things.

The secret to this method (if you want to call it that) is to identify what you are spending money on so that you can begin to plan your spending. Once you begin to plan your spending, you will gain control over it and you will be able to plan to spend money on your savings. In other words, you will plan to put money into your savings account. Many people don’t like to plan their spending because it involves a little bit of work (once a year). No one is saying that success will come easily, but this little bit of work will pay off big time in many areas of your finances. We dare you to try it – what have you got to lose?

28. Sell stuff you no longer need

Look around your apartment and notice all the stuff you don’t need anymore: TVs, couches, tables, stereo equipment. Instead of keeping it in storage (which costs money), just get rid of everything. Sell it and use the money to travel. Sites like Craigslist, Amazon and Ebay are excellent places to sell your unneeded consumer goods. Go through old belongings and consider selling things you no longer want or use. Sell big ticket items like furniture instead of throwing them away when you replace them. Sell smaller, easily-shipped goods through online shops or auction sites. Try to sell large, bulky or very inexpensive items locally. Remember that your time in valuable, and it may not be worth the effort of posting a listing and mailing something that sells for a dollar. If you can, pretend any additional income doesn’t exist. Instead of factoring it into your monthly budget, put all of your extra income into savings.

29. Start a side business

Use your free time to start a simple side business, like babysitting and dog walking. If you enjoy making potentially marketable products, try selling your work on a popular craft site. Popular items typically sold include clothing, stuffed animals, beauty products, art prints, and jewelry. Until your savings reaches a comfortable level, avoid starting businesses with large startup costs. Stick to projects that use materials that are inexpensive or you already have available. You are also likely to start spending less. If your Saturday nights become devoted to babysitting, you’ll save money by not going to the movies or running up an expensive bar tab. Sharing economy has made it really easy to earn extra money on the side. You can rent your spare room out on Airbnb, drive with Lyft, cook dinner on EatWith, or lead personalized tours through Vayable. No matter what skill or unused asset you have, there is a moneymaking service for you. Use these websites to boost your trip savings and travel cheaper.

30. And most importantly: Reward yourself

Cutting your daily expenses, being more frugal, and downgrading to a simpler way of living will allow you to save money for your trip around the world without having to find big extra sources of income. But don’t cut out things like entertainment, hobbies, and other indulgences entirely. A happier you will be more productive and make more money in the longterm. Some people have a “swear jar,” putting in a quarter every time they let a choice word fly. But why not a “Yay you!” jar instead? If you decided not to buy an ice-cream cone at the mall, put the cost of the cone the jar. Wait till „Yay you!“ Sunday and give yourself a little treat with the money collected over the week.

Time To GIVEAWAY Some Vegan Treats

 

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Hello guys! Those of you who follow me on my Instagram already now, that I am giving away some of my most favorite vegan products with my friend Ines (@veg.ines)!

On the party train we have some extremely cool companies and their incredible products. Again, who follows me on social media already knows how much I like these brands: Koawach and their amazing guarana chocolate drink, Sonnentor with their wonderful and versatile spices, teas and snacks, Herbaria and their sweet and savory breadcrumbs, Lovechock and their raw chocolate, Clif bar, Veganz and as a special surprise: Einhorn  condoms from the young Berlin based Start up 😉

This is how you participate!

1) Follow us @vegan.nomad.life and @veg.ines on Instagram
2) Repost this photo and tag the both of us in the photo and the comment and use the hashtag #vegannomadlifeundveginesgiveawayohmanwaseinlangerhashtag (Copy and paste does the job)
3) And then you only answer one question: What does Veganism mean to you?

You can enter until the 26th of June, 12 pm, German time. All you need is German dress and to be over 18.

I wish you good luck and am really looking forward to read your answers!

Cheers!

 

A Banana Bread Made In Heaven

Raise your hand if you like bananas and cake! (Ooh me, me, me!)

OK, all of you come with me. We’re makin’ vegan banana bread!

Peeps, I am not much of a baker, but for almost over two years there has been one recipe that I recommend to anyone who first intends to bake vegan. This 10-ingredient banana bread is so easy to make, delicious and healthy, it will please anyone!

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For the dough I only use wholemeal spelt flour. Spelt, an ancient cereal grain, is a distant cousin to wheat. It has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor. I use spelt flour as a substitute for wheat or white flour when baking bread, no matter if sweet or savory. Because spelt flour contains gluten, you are less likely to compromise the texture of baked goods. Compared to wheat flour, spelt flour is richer in many nutrients, such as protein and minerals.

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This recipe is astonishing easy to recreate and modify. In various moments of creative boldness I added cocoa nibs, vanilla or chocolate protein powder, superfoods or pieces of fresh fruit, depending on my mood. It always turns out great! Put your moisty banana bread in a fancy dress and cover it with nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruit, chocolate, peanut butter and whatever else you can think of. It will not only taste heavenly but also look delicious and very instaworthy.

I love this banana bread/cake because it´s:

  • Simple
  • Moist
  • Rich
  • Satisfying
  • Banana-infused
  • Perfectly (naturally) sweet
  • Studded with crunchy nuts
  • My favorite thing in the world

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it (which really helps me out!), and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #vegannomadlife on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Cheers, peeps!

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And now its time to make your own!

Prep time
15 mins
Cook time
50 mins
Total time
+- 1 hour

10-ingredient banana bread infused with your favorite nuts and dried apricots, slightly moist on the inside, and perfect alongside breakfast items, as dessert or in between meals – Because really anytime is good for banana bread.

Author: Jen May                                                                                          Recipe type: Sweet treats
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1,5 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup oil (melted coconut oil or sunflower oil do a great job)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup plant-based milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped apricots (or other dried fruit of choice)
  • 2/3 cup chopped nuts (chose your favorites)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and lightly grease a sand cake mold baking dish with coconut oil or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a big bowl mix flour, backing powder and cinnamon. In a second bowl, mix sugar, oil, mashed bananas and add milk and vanilla to the liquid.
  3. Combing  dry and wet ingredients by adding the dry flour mix to the liquid. Stir well and add dried apricots and nuts.
  4. Pour the dough into the baking dish and bake aprox. 50 min depending on how moist you want your bread to be, you can bake it 5 minutes more or less.
  5. Let it cool down (yeah, thats a tough one) and top it with all the goodies you can find in your kitchen. This is delicious on its own, but would also be great paired with Coconut Whipped Cream or Ice Cream. Let your creativity run wild!
  6. Store completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to a few days. Will keep in the freezer up to 1 month.

Enjoy!

Let´s Talk B12

A lot of people I talk to are not aware of the importance of Vitamine B12 for their health. For this reason I decided to write a short introductory blogpost on the topic. Remember, I am not a professional. This information comes from research I have done through the last years. You can find it online, if you take the time to look it up. I always refer to “The Vegan Society” as trustworthy source.

Everybody needs regular, reliable sources of vitamin B12.

Most vegans are aware of this, some don’t waste their thoughts on it. But Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nasty side effects such as anaemia, nerve damage, heart disease or pregnancy complications – so it’s not worth taking any chances!

Vitamin B12 is crucial to the human body, which needs it to produce new DNA, red blood cells, proteins, hormones and fats. Vitamin B12 is also key to the health of nerves. B12 deficiency is a common problem because it can be affected by factors like age and digestion. Seniors, vegans and pregnant women are especially prone to vitamin B12 deficiency. People may not realize vitamin B12 is missing from their diets because the liver can store a 3-year supply. Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimize potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency? Someone with low vitamin B12 may lose their appetite, lose weight or feel tired and weak. Depression, poor memory and trouble thinking are symptoms, as well as numb or tingling feelings in the hands and feet, a loss of balance, a sore mouth or tongue and constipation. Yellowed skin, anemia, paranoia and hallucinations may also indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. So if you notice any of these symptoms on yourself, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.

How much do you need? To get the full benefit of a vegan diet, vegans should do one of the following: Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 a day OR Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms OR Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.Check food nutrition labels and supplement details to see how many micrograms (also written μg or mcg) of vitamin B12 you are receiving.

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I rely on toothpaste when it comes to cover my B12 needs. Santé offers it with or without fluoride. I also just recently started using their B12 mouthwash.

Where can you get your B12 from? There are many possibilities to meet your needs! Reliable vegan sources of B12 are supplements and foods fortified with B12 (including some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals). My recommendation for you: Fortified toothpaste. I use the Vitamin B12 toothpaste from Santé. It is an easy way to increase B12 levels. B12 in the toothpaste is absorbed through the mouth mucosa. A study by the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Magdeburg showed a 60% increase of levels after four weeks of use. Brushing twice a day can result in the absorption of the recommended dose of 300 micrograms per day – according to the researchers.

Where to get B12 supplements? Nowadays you can find it in most grocery stores, in pharmacies or speciality shops. An easy way would be to buy it on the internet.

Is B12 vegan? The vitamin B12 component in supplements and fortified foods is made by bacteria and sourced from bacteria cultures. It is not taken from animal products. But be careful, some companies might put gelatin in their B12 supplements, though this appears to be less and less common.

Source of information: The Vegan Society. Vitamin B12: Your Key Facts. 11.06.2016.

13 Travel Tips For Vegans

Before I went on the first big trip in my new life as a vegan, I was quite a bit worried, I must confess. I wondered what challenges I´d have to face and if I would have to live on rice and beans for the coming months.

But instead it turned out, that it is not difficult to stick to your diet. Even in the most remote places, where locals have never heard about such thing as veganism and a plant-based diet, you´ll find something to munch on!

Here are my tips for you, based on my own experience as a vegan backpacker. To come right to the point: Preparation is the key.

1. Research your destination.

I found the most useful app on my phone to be HappyCow. Which could actually also be called HappyVegan, for obvious reasons. The app finds you all the lo cal vegan and vegan-friendly places near your destination. Even at the back of beyond – a remote village in the very South of Bolivia that is… Get ready to be pleasantly surprised by the culinary gems that you’ll find.

The veggie restaurant “El vegetariano de la alcazabilla” offers plenty of vegan dishes. Found through the app “Happy Cow”.

2. Book a vegan meal on your flight.

This should actually stand first, because booking a flight is what every trip starts with, right? If your flight includes meals, the vegan option will for sure be free of charge, too. Nothing sucks more than to spend a 14 hours flight to Buenos Aires eating salty peanuts and crackers. Be smart. Book vegan.

3. Pack your own food and snacks.

Again. Be prepared. I always carry a clif bar and an apple in my bag. Maybe even a sandwich. Just in case… Your travel destination or mode of transportation (such as your flight) might guarantee vegan food, but still, do yourself a favor by packing snacks. Dried fruit, trail mix, bars, nuts, all work great.

4. Chose your hostel wisely.

I always go for the ones with a kitchen. It is probably the best way to make sure you can stick to your animal friendly diet. That way you also get to cook your favorite dishes. I go for easy comfort food such as oatmeal and pasta, or if I feel like having something lighter, I can chop up a salad any time. Lifesaver.

5. Check other forms of hospitation.

Helpful resources such as “Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms” (WWOOF), HelpExchange, Couch Surfing, Facebook groups, AirBnB and others, can help you find vegan-friendly hosts around the world. It’s essential to inform your hosts beforehand that you’re a vegan, as well as ensuring they know what this means and that they’re happy and able to meet your needs. This will save them from going through the trouble of cooking animal-based foods that you won’t eat and may even get them interested in a vegan lifestyle.

7. Don´t be shy.

I often ask staff at restaurants to make changes for me. “Hold the cheese, please.” You know the game. Don’t be shy to do so abroad. There is no reason to not do this when traveling. Be aware that throughout the world the terms vegetarian and vegan aren’t all understood the same way. In Spain you might still be served paella with seafood after having explained your dietary needs on an animal free diet. Because those aren’t “real animals”… In such a case I only have one tip. Stay calm.

Pizza is one of the dishes easy to “veganize”. Just ask for no cheese and you ll get to enjoy a cruelty-free meal.

8. Learn to communicate the basics.

If you’re going to a country where another language is spoken, learning a few words and phrases can go a long way. It does not only open the arms of the locals, but will make it easier for you to communicate your needs. The word ‘vegan’ is not universally understood, so learn to communicate the actual definition. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier.

9. Get a vegan passport!

Traveling out of the country? You can try to use Google Translate to explain what a “vegan” is in different languages, or you can just carry around one of these bad boys.

10. Look for Local Farmers Markets.

I am a big fan of farmers’ markets. They are a great place to get the best local ingredients for your vegan meals at a low price. And a big plus: You support the local community.

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One of my favorite activities is to stroll over farmers markets. Not only do I discover new veggies and fruits, I also meet locals who teach me the names in their language and give me tips for great restaurants and sights to visit.

11. Learn About Local Food.

Another thing you may consider researching before you hit the road is local vegan food for the countries you are planning to visit. You will be surprised that delicious local treats like gallo pinto, bean tamales, and areas are often vegan or can easily be changed to meet your needs. Which brings us back to point 6 and 7.

12. Stock up on cruelty-free essentials.

This might not be for the minimalists. After all carrying around a pound of toiletries is not what most backpackers are looking for. But if your mode of traveling and luggage restrictions allow it, carry all the vegan shampoos, creams and powders you like. Shoutout to the inventor of travel-sized products. If you prefer to travel with a carry on, you might want to check out the Leaping Bunny. The website has a section that lets you search for cruelty free, vegan products in countries all around the world. It couldn’t be easier to ensure the products you buy around the world are vegan.

13. And finally: Be sure about your veganism.

If you are new to this lifestyle or have been living it for years traveling to foreign countries you might find experiences that will test your commitment. It will be challenging sometimes, to find food that is a 100 % vegan and there will be a lot of unknown stuff, that though obviously not vegan, might be attracting you. Remind yourself why you turned vegan in the first place and what you have gained by doing this change. And at last, don’t be too hard on yourself. As my favorite saying goes: Strive for progress, not perfection. With the time you will learn how prepare for traveling and how to avoid tricky situations.

 

How To … Make The Transition

Transitioning to a vegan diet is one of the most beneficial things you’ll ever do for yourself, the animals and the entire planet, but is a book of seven seals for most people. I understand it can be intimidating transitioning to a vegan diet after being an omnivore your entire life – speaking from personal experience. I grew up in East Germany, where regular meals included meat, eggs or dairy at most meals. Only think of the typical German “Brotzeit”: A meal that includes bread, butter, sausages, cheese and eggs. Yes, I know. Sad, but true.

As I progressed into my twenties, the idea behind plant-based eating suddenly began to make sense to me. I had played with the thought of going vegetarian for a time. But growing up in a family of meat eaters and with a slight addiction to cheese and other dairy products, I had dismissed those thoughts again and again. I was a gym rat and could not imagine that a vegan diet would provide me with enough protein.

It must have been the excessive overindulgence during the christmas holiday´s, combined with increasing health problems, that made me undertake an experiment: One month on a plant-based diet.

During that time I learned the most (and least) effective ways to transition to a vegan diet, and I found just how awesome it was on the other side where the grass really is greener in this case! And obviously I did not stop after four weeks. It has been a three year journey so far and I am still learning something new almost every day. Veganism became a lifestyle, not only a diet.

I am sure you think it is going to be the hardest thing to transition from omnivore to herbivore. Don´t worry! I will show you that it is way easier than you expect it to be!

What I’ve written below is what has worked for me, so take this with a grain of salt – everyone’s experience will be different. It is worth repeating that I’m not a nutrition or health professional and my opinions and experiences should not be substituted for medical advice. Always consult your doc before making any diet/lifestyle changes.

So, how do you get started?

1. Educate Yourself

Before you can approach a vegan diet with full confidence and the best chances for success, it’s a great idea to educate yourself on why you’re considering a vegan diet. Learn the benefits behind the lifestyle and how others out there have done it too. Watch movies that show the benefits of a plant-based diet and the reality of what eating animals actually entails. I recommend checking out Forks Over Knives for an eye-opening documentary. Other great movies include Food Inc., Vegucated, Hungry for a Change, and Earthlings to start with.

Along the same lines, it’s good to research the nutritional aspects of a vegan diet. There are many books out there now with this information to help guide you. A balanced, well-planned vegan diet will successfully meet the nutrient requirements of almost anyone at any age. There are many misconceptions about plant-based diets but the truth is, a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts & seeds, complex carbohydrates, and a reliable B12 supplement are all a vegan needs to satisfy their nutritional requirements.

2. Take it One Day at a Time

Yes, it’s a cliché, but small changes really add up over time! When you’re learning to transition to a vegan diet, remember not to overwhelm yourself. I have slipped up on my vegan diet just like many of you have. My advice is to focus on all the amazing choices you’ve made to date instead of that time when you slipped up. No matter what kind of diet you eat, every time you chose plants over animals you are making a difference. Just take it day by day and even better, meal by meal. There’s no need to be stressed or intimidated by going vegan. For me, this journey has been easier and easier as the time flies by. The cravings I once had pretty much disappeared. Instead of craving the old foods, I now crave the new foods that I eat. It’s amazing how the taste buds can adapt when you give them a chance.

3. Find Motivation

There is a huge difference between adopting a vegan lifestyle and “going on a diet”. When you know exactly why you want to be vegan you will have far less difficulties to stick to it. This is why it is so important to learn about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and the effect animal products have on our health, the animals and the environment.

4. Crowd Out, Don’t Cut Out

I always say focus on what you are adding to your diet, such as new foods, recipes, or cooking methods, rather than what you are taking away. If I were to tell you to go to the store and not buy meat, eggs, and dairy, you’d likely just feel defeated and deprived. But if I were to tell you what to buy instead such as quinoa, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, mushrooms, flax, coconut milk, almonds, and berries, you’d have a much better idea of what to shop for. When you approach a vegan diet, it’s best to crowd out animal products with tons of delicious, filling plant-based foods. Choose nondairy milk, fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes to start and try to avoid vegan replacement meats if you can.

5. Find Recipes for Inspiration

I grew up thinking that if there wasn’t meat at a meal, it wasn’t to be considered a meal. Little did I know just how incredibly tasty and creative vegan food could be! I started looking up vegan recipes on the web and quickly found inspiration and ideas for ingredients. Especially Instagram and Pinterest were a great source of inspiration.

It really all starts with trying just one recipe! My advice is to try a new recipe every week or every few days and pick some quick and easy recipes to begin with so you don’t feel overwhelmed, such as the Green Power Smoothie, my Carrot Cake Oatmeal or the spicy Happy Cow Chili. Trying a vegan version of your favorite meal is also a great way to get started.

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You will be surprised when you find out how many vegan cook books are out there!

6. Go Shopping

A well-stocked pantry is one of the keys to success, especially in the beginning. It is time to buy all the vegan food you can get your hands on! It’s best to stock up on as much produce as possible and purchase healthy grains like quinoa, wild rice, and oats. These make wonderful bases for breakfast dishes or for a filling lunch and dinner. Then consider buying some unsweetened almond milk in place of dairy milk along with some hemp, chia, walnuts, or flax seeds for healthy fats. Legumes like lentils, green peas, chickpeas, and any types of beans you want to try are also great staples to round out your meals as well.

Try to stay away from foods with too much added sugar for optimal blood sugar levels (and overall health). Have fun at the store but remember to read ingredient labels and embrace simple foods as much as possible. Lastly, don’t forget the herbs, spices, and condiments like stevia, tamari, mustard, tahini, and balsamic, or apple cider vinegar. They’ll be key to making your meals taste flavorful, zesty, and decadent!

When I first made the transition I stocked my fridge with mock meat and vegan dairy products. The truth is, I had no idea how to eat a fulfilling, and healthy diet without these substitution foods. I wasn’t wrong for eating them and it made transition easier, but I didn’t feel great eating these products, or better, I didn’t feel as great as I did without them. Eventually, I discovered how to thrive on a vegan diet without relying on them.

7. Focus on the Basics

Remember that eating a vegan diet doesn’t have to be hard. Just start with the basics when it comes to your first meals. As an example, for breakfast you could have oatmeal with some almond milk, cinnamon, and chopped fruit or coconut yogurt or a toast with avocado and tomato. For lunch, I suggest preparing meals ahead. You keep them in the fridge to grab and go. Soups and salads are perfect for long school or work days. Great snack ideas include nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables. Dinner could be a pan of roasted root veggies with seasonings, alongside a batch of rice or quinoa. Remember that sometimes the basic ingredients end up tasting the best!

8. Eat Whole Foods Most of the Time

It’s easy to go vegan and buy processed vegan foods, but that’s not the best way to approach a healthy vegan diet. Instead of buying processed foods, choose whole foods as much as possible and keep your diet balanced by consuming a variety of vegan foods! This will ensure you get the highest amount of nutrition and that you’re more satisfied at your meals.

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Salads are my easy to go meal. Add some tofu, beans and bread or rice and you have a filling and nutrient rich meal.

9. Get Support

Find friends who want to take this journey with you. I didn’t know any vegans until I met many friends online through reading other blogs and going to meet ups. It’s important to have a support system. Join clubs, recipe groups, meet ups, and attend conferences.

10. Pack Food

When I leave the house for long periods of time, I always pack snacks or meals with me. Whether it’s an afternoon out or a few days on the road, I plan ahead and bring food. You can always find a couple energy bars in the bottom of my backpack. Most days I don’t need them, but I feel great knowing I have a healthy snack on me in case the hunger monster strikes.

Going out to eat couldn’t be easier these days. With more and more people going vegan, most restaurants now offer great-tasting, healthy vegan selections. For more comprehensive listings of vegetarian restaurants worldwide, check out these dining guides: Happy Cow, Veg Dining, and VegGuide.

11. Be Prepared

From awkward social situations to unfamiliar ingredients to concerns about protein, iron, and vitamin B12, unexpected pitfalls are responsible for more than their share of “I tried to go vegan for a little while but it didn’t work out.” The thing is, none of this has to be hard. I believe that going vegan and thriving in this lifestyle can be just as easy for most people as it has been for me. But it’s a matter of being intentional! Planning your transitioning gradually will most likely be more successful than just diving in because you’re excited and can’t wait. Sure, that approach might work for a few, like it did for me, but I’ve just seen too many people fail that way to believe it’s best way to change anything.

Should you use supplements?

Eating a balanced and healthy diet including a wide variety of foods, and eating enough calories to support energy requirements should ensure sufficient intake of protein, calcium, and iron. It’s very important to include a reliable source of vitamin B12 in your diet, this can easily be attained by consuming an appropriate mix of fortified foods, vitamin B12, vitamin D2, and kelp supplements, or by taking a good vegan daily multivitamin.

 

My Food Philosophy

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One day I woke up and decided to be vegan; I’m just that type of person. Sorry if that story is a bit boring. I did not think much about it before and didn’t give myself much of a transition time by going vegetarian first. I do nothing halfway.

I thrive on a plant-based diet made up of whole foods that are minimally processed and preferably organically grown. I enjoy eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, healthy fats and unrefined sugars in my diet.

I eat plants because I love my body, the planet, and other living beings. 

With the change in diet, I started to read and research. At first I just wanted to make sure, that my nutrient needs were covered. But then I started to find more and more information about the truth behind the cruel food industry. I was the first in my family and circle of friends to completely quit animal products. The internet was my number one resource. With the knowledge I’ve learned about what animal products do to us, the animals and our earth – I choose not to put anything that has caused suffering in my body. I am convinced that humans can certainly thrive without eating animals – as I can testify from my own journey.

A lot of people want to know “what I am” – vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist, high carb vegan. I don´t like to put a label on things, being it a diet or lifestyle or something else. My food philosophy is this: Labels stink. They force a person to define themselves with very rigid terms, and beat themselves up if they suddenly eat something that doesn’t fit that definition. I know I never want to put a label on my diet, but I always encourage you to do what works best for you. If that means ascribing to a certain label, I support your choice!

Healthy eating shouldn’t be complicated.

My diet is different everyday and I am not very strict about rules; as long as I am eating a mostly whole foods vegan diet, it’s all good. But certainly, there are some foods, that I enjoy almost on a daily base: Creamy bowls of sweet porridge topped with an abundance of fresh fruit, huge smoothies with plenty of greens, banana ice-cream in all flavors, colorful salads and giant plates of steamed vegetables and sweet potatoes. I do not restrict calories. I aim to eat high-carb/low-fat because our bodies have evolved to run on glucose.

I avoid refined sugar, which is extremely processed and doesn’t have any nutritional value. I primarily use agave syrup, Medjool dates and stevia. Once in a while if I feel that a recipe needs traditional sugar I will use organic brown sugar.

For cooking I primarily use virgin coconut oil for it´s health benefits. It also has a very high smoke point so it’s great for frying and roasting at high heats. I also use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil if I don’t want any coconut flavour in the recipe. But since I am a coconut lover, I really don´t mind.

I am fortunate enough to be able to have access to, and afford, fresh fruits and vegetables. I understand that is not to be taken for granted. Food access is a serious barrier for many people. Going vegan might not be a realistic option for all but if it is possible for you to do, I highly recommend it.