photo cred Cat Yup, this is my brother Simmah. I love him. He is kind, gentle, outrageously funny, selfless, extraordinarily smart, talented and beautiful, he knows everything about just about everything and above all is the most supportive person I know. He is allergic to milk, eggs, seafood and is gluten intolerant. He also avoids consuming any and all animal products. Essentially, he’s vegan not for any political reason but because his body fights against the machine.  If he accidentally eats something that has any of the above ingredients it does him significant damage. Eating out is a risk. Eating in general has to be scrutinized and ingredients triple checked before consumption. This is not a lifestyle choice this is his reality. Try taking a different approach to cooking and eating. Try a gluten free dish. Experiment with a vegan dish. You'll find that it's dead easy to do and people in your life that have dietary concerns will love you for it.

Photo Cred Lisa What is vegan? This is a complex question with many answers depending on who you're asking. But basically it means someone who choses to neither consume or use animal products. Some obvious examples of animal products include dairy, meat, eggs, leather and lard, some less commonly thought of items are gelatin, whey, honey, feathers, wool, silk, etc and all are excluded from the lifestyle of a strict vegan. While there are many reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle (ethical, dietary or environmental), in recent years the mainstream vegan mentality has shifted toward health. While less meat and dairy in your diet contributes better personal and environmental welfare the vegan trap can be a tricky one. With marketers cluing in and using the term as a catchall for supposedly "healthy" and "responsible" choices, products containing refined sugar and flour, soy and processed foods labeled as vegan and are definitely not good for you. I totally suport the odd dietary splurge, but allowing yourself to be convinced that vegan fries and an unburger on white bread will help you reach your health goals is crazy. Be aware, you can't always judge a product by it's packaging... in fact it's probably better if it doesn't have package at all. That's my rant for today.