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Photo Courtesy of Estee Raviv

10 Greatest Misconceptions About Being Vegan, Quashed

Health

I grew up in Israel and Mediterranean is part of my cooking style by default, I come from a house where food was a main subject. My father is Polish and my mother is Romanian. My mother taught me cooking within an Eastern European tradition. As a family we were fortunate to be able to travel and try flavors from around the world, a privilege I'm grateful to be able to continue today.


Estee Raviv. Photo Courtesy of Oy Vey Vegan

I wrote the cookbook Oy Vey Vegan both for those who are already using plant-based recipes and for people who want to make a positive change in their life and have a healthy diet but do not know how. I think of food as preventative medicine.

I wasn't always a vegan chef. When I lived in Israel, I had a high-end custom jewelry business, but I was always attracted to the kitchen. Now I live with my husband and three children in Portland, Oregon. They've taste-tested all of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan for me. I taught my family the value of good, healthy meals, and exposed them to as much variety as possible. Developing recipes with them is a lot of fun.

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Making the change to a plant-based diet made me feel a lot better. It completely changed my life. First of all, my energy levels increased. For the first time in my life my digestive system was working as designed. People don't like to talk about their digestive problems but it is so important to keep your body balanced. When I stopped eating dairy, my skin became so much healthier, smoother. After completing my research, I discovered for sure that dairy is what caused my acne. I want to tell the world that if you have skin problems, stop eating dairy; your skin will get better in no time.

Becoming vegan opened my eyes to a whole new, fascinating world. I learned so much about ingredients and how foods can heal.

Here are ten misconceptions people have about being vegan.

1. Eating vegan food is not satisfying or filling.

If you eat whole grains, a vegan diet is very filling. Eating enough plant-based protein such as tempeh, tofu, and legumes combined with vegetables will leave you satisfied.

2. Vegans don't get enough calcium in their diet because they don't drink cow milk.

The truth is that calcium exists in larger amounts in a lot of the green veggies—such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, collard greens, okra—and also in almonds, black beans, and many other plants, than in cow milk

3. Vegans don't eat enough protein because protein comes mainly from meat.

The truth is that there are high levels of protein in soybeans, and soy products, such as tempeh and tofu. You can also find high levels of protein in black lentils, nuts, peanut butter, and, in general, all the legumes.

4. Vegans don't get enough iron.

Vegans can eat a lot of iron in high levels, which exists in spinach, parsley, and raisins. Sometimes iron will not absorb in the body like with animal products and therefore vegans need to take supplements. However, if you combine iron with citrus it will help absorption in your body.

5. Vegan food is expensive.

I always say that vegan food is not only cheaper, but if you invest in fruits and vegetables, you may not need to spend so much money in the future on medicine. Being mindful about what you eat may prevent sicknesses in the future. Preventative medicine is definitely the future.

6. Vegans eat only lettuce and seeds.

Vegan food can be so versatile, rich and complex, much more so than just eating meat and potatoes.

7. Vegans are weak.

There are marathon runners and weightlifters that eat a plant-based diet. If you eat a healthy whole grain diet; there is no reason to be weak. You can eat vegan and eat really unhealthy. If you eat chips and salsa all day, cookies, and sugar, and vegan processed food, it might bring you down. Eating a healthy plant-based diet is key.

8. Only hippies are vegans.

Vegans can be anyone who thinks that this is the best way for them to live, for different reasons: animal rights, health benefits, allergies, etc. Do I look like a hippie?

9. A vegan lifestyle is hard to keep.

The truth is that being vegan is a state of mind, and it's not hard at all. Like any other diet, planning your meals will help you eat the right things. Plan your meals in the beginning of your week. Being prepared ahead of time is key. Making tempeh instead of chicken, takes the same amount of time and effort.

10. Vegans get sick a lot more.

When you eat vegan food and your body is balanced, your immune system gets stronger and you don't get sick as often—or definitely not more than meat eaters. Studies show that eating a plant-based diet can help prevent major cancers and disease. Don't wait to be sick to change your diet.

Oy vey can be translated to “Oh no!" Too many people shy away from vegan foods because they think of them as bland or difficult to make. Having a plant-based diet can be easy and incredibly rewarding and it can do wonders for one's health. I want people to feel good about themselves and reflect that positive outlook on the world. So I became a chef. My wish is to teach others that you shouldn't be afraid to try new things and explore in the kitchen. I want to give my students a culinary fearlessness.

Eat whole foods, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts—everything that is close to its original form. Also, try to eliminate processed food completely. When you start reading the ingredients on any package that you get in the store, you'll be surprised by the amount of preservatives, chemicals, and oils that they contain, and all kinds of things that you can't even pronounce. If you can't pronounce them, don't eat them—they are possibly not good for you. Most of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan are gluten-free, and the few that aren't can be modified easily.

It is a lot easier than you think to eat plant-based food from scratch. For new vegans, I recommend my roasted vegetable quinoa-crust pizza. It is great for dinner It includes a balanced meal—quinoa protein, good oils, colorful vegetables. It is filling, delicious, and healthy. Pizza doesn't need to have cheese. All of my patties are great additions to any salad or side dish. I have a large section of patties and they are all good choices to start with.

Being a cookbook author, food blogger, and chef is a lot of work. I do all my own food photography. I teach cooking classes, and am a public speaker. I'm a regular guest on the most popular morning show in Oregon, AMNorthwest on KATU (channel 2), doing vegan cooking segments. I believe that preventative medicine is the future, and it's never too late to make the change. It is my dream to spread the love for healthy, creative food through my own cooking show one day.

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.