Pictures Of Things + Le Love List

May 21st, 2015 - filed under: Furthermore » Feedback

scoot bike ride

Hello hello everyone! I hope you had a fantastic week, and are looking forward to an even more fantastic weekend. Me? Well, things are pretty stressful ’round here these days. All my projects are piling up as the quarter draws towards its close, and of course, I’m leaving town bright and early Monday morning, on a cross-country vegan ladies road trip (!!!) bound for Vida Vegan Con in Austin, Texas. And it’s so exciting and so wonderful but also, oh my GAWD I have a lot of loose ends that I’m trying to tie up before I go. I sort of feel like my head is spinning.

And I need some help from you!! I’m working on my talk for VVC, and I’d love your input/feedback/thoughts! My topic is Facing Failing Health As A Vegan, and this is the description of the talk: “As a committed ethical vegan, I never imagined that I would doubt the safety of my diet . . . until I got sick. My experience of facing failing health as a vegan, of the subsequent guilt and shame and anger I felt while being a sick vegan, and of eventually regaining my health – while staying vegan! – has certainly given me some perspective. None of us plan to get sick, and luckily, most of us never will. But some vegans do, and as fellow vegans, it’s important that we are able to offer a supportive, non blaming or shaming community. So let’s talk about that!

And my question to you guys is this: What would you be hoping to hear if you attended this talk? I feel like there’s a million different ways I could go, and I’m having trouble narrowing things down. SO. I’d love some input from you! What questions do you have? What would you want to hear about? What is confusing to you about this issue? What is interesting?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! THANK YOU GUYS!

Oh and hopefully the whole thing will be filmed, and I’ll be able to share the talk here on the blog. So that’s incentive for you to really leave your feedback, no? You’ll very likely get your question directly addressed!

Okay, so moving along. Here’s what life has been looking like lately:

my church

We spent Mother’s Day high up in the mountains here, like we do almost every single Sunday. We call it Church. It’s one of my very favorite places to be.

mother's day


mothers day church
It was a really great day. ♥

best vegan snack
My favorite new snack. Basically obsessed.

pakistani mulberries
Strange new foods at the Farmer’s Market.

after farmers market visit
And stopping by the store to drop off green juice and fresh flowers, and to say hi to our very favorite guy.

Trying to take splits selfies but the walls won’t let me splits far enough! Still going though . . .

vegan kid protesting
Baby’s first Foie Gras protest! Haha. But seriously, Waits was sooo happy to represent for the animals, and was talking to everyone he could. He’s a wonderful ambassador. Him and Pomi the duck! (Pomi is a paralyzed rescue who loves people. He was very happy to be there getting all the love, and especially likes to have his head pouf scratched. Just in case you were wondering.) Learn more about the incredibly inhumane practice of producing foie gras, here.

gold chrysalis
These assholes ate ALL my nettle plants overnight. Grrr. But at least they made these beautiful gold-studded chrysalises, which we took to Waits’s preschool so the children could watch them hatch. They became Painted Lady butterflies. ♥

go vegan right meow
Go vegan, RIGHT MEOW! (shirt by the awesome BEETxBEET)


And now it’s time to exercise our gratitude muscles! With the one, the only, Le Love List!

Clarity! THANK YOU ALL so much for sharing so generously your personal stories, thoughts, insights, and ideas about PhD versus MA programs. I’ve definitely come to a place of deeper understanding, and all of the wisdom I read here really helped with that. So thank you!! ♥ Now please cross your fingers for me . . . // Being in nature. // No really, I just want to be in nature all the time. // Eating fresh food. // So, um, Food Babe reached out to me after I wrote that Gin + Green Juice post, and I thought that was really cool of her. We have a call scheduled and I’m really looking forward to our conversation. // Dinner and a movie with my love. // WE GOT THE BIG GRANT!! // The fact that [regardless of what I decide to do] all my mentors, every single professor I’ve talked to about it, has enthusiastically urged me to get my PhD. Also my therapist, haha. But really, their confidence has been inspiring (humbling! but very very encouraging) // Spooning. // My growing garden. // The Periscope app, which is totally unique and new and amazing. Live-streaming in real time, no edits, no fancy tricks. Stored for 24-hours and then gone forever. LOVE IT. You can follow me @Sayward Rebhal. Let’s connect there! // Watching and cheering with mama friends as Waits made his first solo swim (with water wings) across the water hole up at Church. It was such a joyful and proud moment, crystal clear in reflection even as it was happening. The kind of thing you never forget. And those moments, my goodness. Those moments are absolutely everything. ♥ //


Alright everyone, the ball’s in your court. I hope you’ll share your Love Lists in the comments below, so all of us can read about the things that made you smile this week. Sharing is caring! Spread the love!

And please, have the most wonderful weekend!

♥ ♥ ♥

  • Sara MM

    Hi Sayward,

    I’m not sure which questions to bring up for the presentation but I can tell you my story from last year that might give some info to use. After over 6 years of being vegan I started to notice a ton of hair loss (like scary horror movie hair loss). I went to the doctor and we discovered I was suddenly low in iron and my thyroid was working too hard. I eat a very iron rich diet so I was shocked. I had increased my soy consumption in the months prior just because we were shopping at TJ and I preferred their soy milk to their other options and my weegan likes tofu. I also eat way too many items with cocoa powder (I honestly think I’m addicted). I have read a lot of conflicting reports on soy’s effect on the thyroid (some positive and some negative). I have also read that cocoa can make it difficult for iron to be absorbed.

    Just to test it out I decided to decrease my soy and cocoa intake and focused in more on beans and oat milk (courtesy of your posts) which I prefer anyway plus cocoa free smoothies and desserts. Every now and then I take an iron supplement if I’m noticing increased hair loss again (which does seem to happen a day or two after a soy-based meal or days of eating cocoa (yes days because I just can’t help myself). I haven’t had hair loss like I did though during that time period where I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t limit those two food items.

    Long story short, what I thought to myself was that had I been new to veganism maybe that experience would have made me throw in the towel claiming my health issues were due to being vegan…but since I had been a healthy vegan for so many years I knew it just meant I needed to look closer at what I was eating a lot of to see if that was the issue and then figure out a new food plan. It can be really scary though when you think the foods you are eating or aren’t eating are seriously harming you to the point of your body letting you know something is wrong.

    I also think sometimes our bodies just change and need different things and its great to look closely at what you have been eating (like creating a food journal) to see what you are eating a lot of or not enough of.

    One quick love list note today-the tears in my eyes watching my daughters very first dance recital and seeing how hard she was concentrating to follow her teachers moves. It was a special moment of being overcome with love and pride. I hope I never forget it.

  • Stacie

    Hello Sayward. I just come across the video of you and your beautiful little boy Waits on youtube being interviewed and got your website from there.
    I would just like to say thank you for plugging yourself into the net, as it were, because I finally have someone to look to for advice and will be watching more of your videos, My name is Stacie, I’m 26 and vegan for a few years, I am raising my 8 month old vegan and I am constantly bombarded with criticism and abuse, usually from family. Its so good to be reminded that what i am doing is totally the right thing. sometimes i forget there are other vegans out there haha :)


  • Deirdre

    The head pouf! And…your weekly recaps inspire and hearten. All the <3

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Wow, thank you Sara for sharing this story! I find it very powerful to read, for many reasons. First, I’m so glad you went straight to the doctor and got blood work done. I know that there are lots of factors that play into peoples choices or abilities, but it always surprises me how often people DON’T go to the doctor before they begin to make adjustments. Self diagnosis can work sometimes, but it can also lead people down the wrong, and sometimes even dangerous, path. So kuddos to you for getting blood work done straight away!

    As well, I found it so interesting what you said about how if you had been a new vegan, you would have blamed veganism overall for your issues. How true that probably is! And how demonstrative of the alternative, that you were able to correct your issues with some minor dietary changes, *within* the confines of veganism.

    And finally, I love what you say about people needing different foods at different times of life. I couldn’t agree more! This is somethign I come up against again and again when talking to folks about raising vegan children. For example, they are able to correct a bunch of health issues and lose a ton of weight by going al raw or no-oil/low fat, and so they decide that eating that way is the Healthiest Way To Eat and begin feeding their young children that way. But correcting decades of damage to an adult body, and building a growing body completely from scratch, are two *completely* different processes, and require very, very different diets. It’s hard to get people to see and accept that.

    Anyway, now I’m sort of rambling. I’m wondering, though, if you would be interested in writing a longer/more detailed version of your story and sharing it as a guest blog post? I’ve been wanting to have a series of guest posts about other vegans who got sick on a vegan diet, but were able to correct their issues while staying vegan. I know that my own story has been so powerful and inspiring for so many people, and I also know that I’m not alone at all. There are lots of stories like that out there, and I think seeing them all together would be very powerful! Let me know if you’re interested, k? You can email me at info AT bonzaiaphrodite DOT com.

    And finally, I got the warm and fuzzies reading your feelings about your daughters dance recital. I know exactly what you mean. What a precious moment. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh I’m so sorry to hear that Stacie! That’s so hard to be so unsupported in your personal life. But yes, please know that there is a whole online community of vegan parents raising bright, beautiful, thriving vegan kiddos! You are definitely not alone!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Deirdre!

  • Sarah Haldeman

    Hi Sayward!

    I’ve been reading/lurking on your blog for some time and I la la love it! I’ve had a different sort of experience with my veganism, wherein I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) as a vegan in adulthood. So there was no sense that veganism caused me to have this disease, but T1D and diabetes in general can be very rigid when it comes to diet. There are TONS of opinions about what people with T1D should be eating, including paleo and LCHF, but not a whole lot of people are espousing a vegan diet as a healthy way to live with T1D. That is frustrating and disappointing.

    I have to count carbs in order to treat myself with insulin. Diabetes is a very patient centered kind of illness, in which the patient often learns more about his/her individual needs than the doctor knows, simply because the patient treats it every second of the day. In the beginning, my doctor advised that I eat fewer carbs in order to manage my diabetes better, which I found difficult as a rice and beans/carb loving vegan. It’s been over three years since my diagnosis, and I firmly believe that my veganism has helped me develop a healthy diabetic friendly diet (that includes lots of carbs to fuel my athletic lifestyle).

    In a way, my veganism has always been a non-issue in the context of my disease, even though my disease is so diet focused. My veganism is just tirelessly plugging away in the background, healing all the broken spots for my worn out pancreas (that is, when I’m not indulging too much in the vegan cakes from my fave restaurant in Dallas!).

  • Jo S.

    Damn it! I wrote a really long thoughtful comment then deleted it accidentally.

    In essence, it was just to say, perhaps a little off topic, that I think we, as a community, need to be reaching out for, demanding even, evidence-based nutritional guidance from qualified, veg-friendly professionals. Some people (hello, legit scientist Sayward) are capable of doing their own research, but most of us can’t tell a good and useful study from a poorly designed one, and of course there is a SEA of information out there, available to the layperson. I think self-diagnosing nutritional deficiencies based on ‘feelings’ is dicey at best, and leads to (possibly) sick vegans becoming ex-vegans. There seems to me to be a mistrust of the medical community as well, especially the further you veer left of center.

    I’m quite lucky, in that my health visitor (in the UK, a health visitor is the person you see about your kids health, growth and development. You take a sick kid to the GP, a well kid to the health visitor) is up on vegetarian nutrition (she has two vegetarian sons!) and doesn’t hesitate to consult a nutritionist when I have a question that she can’t answer. Because I trust her, I feel comfortable ASKING, and don’t have to be on the defensive about our diet. All this to say, I guess, that mainstream nutritional guidance from medical types can be a good thing, and we should seek it out. I know not every doctor or nutritionist is veg-friendly, but we should be trying to find the ones who are, and listening to what they have to say. It seems crazy to me that the big diet gurus of the age are like 22 year old, unqualified, skinny white chicks. And ‘orthorexia’ from all this internet research is really worrying to me – THAT will make you sick.

    And, my love list! I haven’t been feeling great myself (not from failing health! From, um, something I can’t officially announce yet. ;) ) so this week it’s naps, baths, and sourdough toast.

    Jo x

  • Sharon J. Smith

    I love everything about you and your son Waits. I know nothing’s perfect, but for me, how you’ve chosen to live your life would have made me the happiest person on earth, if I had lived mine the same way. Thanks for being you and for raising such a special, beautifully connected son.

  • Shallots

    Hello – I’ve lurked on your blog since I started my vegetarian/vegan journey. So I’m going to take this chance to say Thank YOU! You’ve been an inspiration and reading your blog has spurred me on when I needed it. I’ve reread some of your posts many times and I just want to know that you’re inspirational precisely because you’re authentic and you don’t make it all seem rosy every single day.

    I came from a place of very poor health and the change in my diet has transformed my life. Very briefly I have a range of health problems that meant that by my early 30′s I was in pain pretty much every day, which is exhausting and in part contributed to a great deal of anxiety and depression. Whilst I was in therapy and on medication for my psychological issues I also switched from being a very committed omnivore to a vegetarian diet. The diet had little effect on my mental state but it changed my physical state dramatically. I’ve gone from not being able (I needed voice software as my hands were too painful to type) to running 5K, 10K and I’ve signed up for a half marathon (eek). This has taken almost 5 years and in part I’ve been hampered by a lack of reliable information on nutrition and health.

    I’d love to see you talk about resources – what is reliable, what’s a sign it’s not reliable. About questions to ask your GP (I’m in the UK but this would be your primary doctor) and when to push for more. Where do you go when you do fall ill. What should you look for and what should you look out for.

    I’m currently cutting out dairy and eggs but it’s slow going and I’ve had some set backs these past few months. So yeah … how to stay healthy?


  • Jarosław Stefaniak

    I’m feeling really about knowing that you have struggle like that on a vegan diet. Can’t imagine that myself. I hope you will develop a nice piece knowledge in future and help yourself with it. Wish u the best. J.

  • Guest

    I still don’t understand why you never expanded your “My Failing Health as a Vegan” into a book! With the near “Forks Over Knives” obsession of not adding fat to food, and everyone jumping on the bandwagon, I can understand the hesitation. Yeah, it’s not too hip anymore to admit to eating tortilla chips FRIED IN OIL or adding COCONUT OIL to your smoothie! But I must say: I was never a successful vegan until I started adding fat to food and finally feeling sated. I would love to hear you talk about the myth of only one way of eating vegan (“whole foods, low fat, plant-based”) being good for you. Some folks do better eating less carbs (google Eco-Atkins, or Atkins done vegan), some folks feel better with lots of carbs. Some do best on low fat, some on high fat. Please emphasize there’s something for all of us, and if you’re vegan and sick YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR OWN WAY. No need to give up.

    I still think you have that book inside of you.

  • elisehippie

    I have loved reading all these comments…
    I realize you may have already formed an idea of what you want to address at this point (seeing as I’m only FINALLY getting around to commenting now on Monday). But here’s a bit of what I’ve been thinking (scattered because I have a baby and toddler who own me and no brain of my own right now).

    As I think I’ve shared before, my path with veganism took a detour (I say that because I do think/hope that it will return) when my son was diagnosed with several food allergies. He had an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts at nine months old and then blood tests (and later a traumatic/failed food trial) revealed allergies to tree nuts, sesame, soy, gluten, and dairy. I was already dairy (and mostly gluten) free so that was no big deal, but for him to not be able to eat soy or nuts or seeds…that is very restrictive for a growing nine month old vegetarian. I would have LOVED a resource to help me navigate it. Why are there no knowledgeable plant based allergists? Online or otherwise I hit dead end after dead end when seeking advice on how to proceed. And judgement from both sides! How could I sacrifice my son’s health like this? Obviously veganism could not continue in a healthful way. And from the other side, the most hateful hurtful comments about my abandoning veganism.
    I felt like it was a total lose lose. And I had no support from either community as I tried to find my place somewhere between plant based eating and getting my son all the nutrients he needed. As a mom and nurse who is super proactive and into all evidence based research…I felt shockingly helpless.
    Even in hippie Davis (and Nor Cal in general) when I would ask about trying hemp/flax/etc (because sesame = anaphylaxis) I got the impression I knew more about food than the MD. I talked to everyone at our practice and did insane amounts of research and came to the conclusion that there NEEDS to be a resource for vegans with health issues who want to remain vegans, or at least try, without judgement (especially if veganism doesn’t fit in the end).

  • Katie

    I have a feeling I’m about to ramble…I’ve been reading your blog since 2012 and have been in and out of veganism during that time. I have two “challenges”…I struggle with maintaining a healthy weight and I have many food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, etc.)

    I know there are many many vegans out there who would say that it’s not about whether I’m overweight or not, but the vegan lifestyle is about minimizing suffering. I agree with that sentiment, but I find it offputting. I guess I feel like my health is important too, and that gets downplayed sometimes in the vegan community. I’m certain that I just need to do research and experiment with food variety to find the right balance of macronutrients to help me maintain a healthy weight. But, saying that’s not the priority (not that you’ve ever said that!) is unrealistic.

  • Ginger Baker

    I meant to post this in the Gin & Juice post but then couldn’t find it. I came across it again today.