Friday, December 19, 2014

The Vegal Arsenal!

     Don't leave home without them!!!  What on earth am I referring to??? The Vegan Aresenal is any portable plant-based nutritional supplement or combo (added to food) that will come in handy when dining out or traveling to unknown parts where vegan options may be quite limited.  Expect the minimum and you won't be disappointed.  Come prepared and you can create your own nutritional powerhouse that will leave your non-vegan counterparts speechless (let's see them try and poke fun of you now!!).   Simply prepare small baggies of various non-perishable plant foods to carry in your purse (or fanny pack lol). There are even small packets of olive/coconut oil on the market in 6 or 10-count boxes. Then off you go to your worry-free meal!  You may wish to carry extra for your envious companions (although they hate to admit it).
     So you only see a garden salad (make sure there is no cheese) or some kind of meat-infiltrated entree salad (that you will most definitely have to pay the same price for sans meat) and a plain baked potato/white pasta on the menu?  Have no fear... tasty and hearty toppings are here! Whip out your oil packet or ask for some olive oil as well as balsamic vinegar for the salad then pull out your bag of tricks!  Sprinkle your nuts of choice like cashews, walnuts or almonds (a drupe, not a nut btw), and seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, hemp or chia, and finish off with your coconut bacon, a little salt and pepper and bam!  You have a salad fit for a king...or vegan queen!  In many instances, dining establishments will actually have peanuts or trail mix available which are not on the menu. Wherever you go, always ask for avocado, which they should have!!  They will probably want to charge you extra but you can argue your point that it is replacing the meat!  If you are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or certain seeds...that must SUCK for you as a vegan!!! Have you tried those new TigerNuts yet?

     When it comes to the potato or pasta, remember...don't fear carbs, you need the complex ones for extended energy, as long as they are consumed with the proper balance of protein and fats!  How else are you gonna fill up?  With pasta, whole wheat is preferred and luckily, it is becoming increasingly available in mainstream restaurants!  But if you find yourself limited to only white pasta, choose to have a small portion, plain, topped with steamed veggies (chefs/servers are more than willing to accommodate if you just ask). Whether potato or pasta, use some olive/coconut oil in place of butter, throw on steamed broccoli, spinach or whatever fresh veggies are available that night (and don't forget to specify "no butter"), plus fresh herbs like basil if possible, then sprinkle a generous amount of your nutritional yeast on top (better than any parmesan cheese), followed by nuts/seeds, spices, some more coconut bacon and the kicker...Sriracha or Tabasco (your own little bottle if you prefer). To add a rich and creamy texture to your entree, mix in any avocado left over from the salad or snag a dollop of guacamole!  I always can never have enough of that green gold since it consists of the good fats!!!

     For dessert, let your meaty friends feast their eyes on your fresh fruit or sorbet topped with either coconut salted caramel or dark chocolate shreds (or some more bacon lol)!  Sure, their molten lava brownie bottom pie or deep fried cheesecake will look scrumptious at the time but remember...a second on the lips, a lifetime on the hips!  You will walk out of there feeling energized and satisfied while your company will be sluggish and sleepy.  Perfect for them as they are sleeping in the next day while you will spring to your feet before sunrise for your daily hard core workout!  After all, you are a Vegan Girl with a conscience; staying firmly planted.
VeGALS unite!!!

Train hard, fuel hearty!
VeGAL Andee

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meatus Interruptus!

     Greetings VeGALs and plant fans!  If you are a mainstream vegan like me, then chances are you deal with the issue of animal byproducts being randomly placed in your plant foods on an ongoing basis when dining out.  Chefs/cooks/food preps simply cannot help themselves when it comes to adulterating the foods from nature that we love so much.  In their eyes, they feel they are enhancing the flavor whereas we can all agree it only detracts from the true essence that plant-based cuisine has to offer.  On many vegetarian/vegetable menu items, no where does it even indicate that there will be animal-based foods added to the dish, which is surprising nowadays with so many food allergy concerns.  For instance, it is often the case where I order a garden salad that is listed as having only lettuce, cukes, carrots, tomatoes (and other "safe" ingredients) and when it arrives, it is laden with shaved/sprinkled parmesan cheese.  I have learned to ask for salads now with no cheese, egg or bacon even if it is NOT listed on the menu. Sadly enough, there are still some naive food servers/preps out there that still have no idea what the term "vegan" actually refers to so often times I choose the old "food allergy" excuse to drive home a point, especially when at an unfamiliar place.  Don't get me wrong...I wear my vegan identity with pride but when it comes to ordering my meal, I go to great lengths to get the order right and even then, I have to send it back due to error half the time!!!
     A while back, I had written an article for, where I'm a staff writer/contributor that discusses hidden animal products in our foods, if you would like to refer to that, like chicken broth, fish stock, beef stock, milk, whey, egg yolks, egg wash, oyster sauce, anchovies, parmesan cheese, butter, casein, gelatin, etc. Many restaurants, especially chains, have an allergy menu available either on location or online which can be very helpful in providing insight into non-vegan foods we assume to be safe. It isn't always easy, and sometimes next to impossible to find a vegan/vegan-friendly joint and the majority of our family/friends are typically omnivours so we must settle on mainstream, trying to make the best of it without drawing too much attention to ourselves.  
     Just this past weekend, my running partner and I were in Cocoa Beach, FL to run the Space Coast Marathon (as pacers) for our third year in a row.  A few days before the race, we looked over the dinner menu online for Fat Kahunas, a small bar/restaurant we've had our eye on for a few years.  The menu seemed very welcoming and the location, ideal to watch a nearby Friday night street party, so we were excited to check it out.  As soon as we were seated, we were served fresh homade hummus with olives and warm tortilla chips.  I would've been perfectly content eating that all night, washed down by a draft beer, of course.  But I chose to order the grilled vegetable tacos, minus the red and green peppers (I always lie and say I'm allergic since I just plain don't like 'em), add avocado instead as my entree.  As an experiment of sorts, I refrained from mentioning the word "vegan"  while I made sure that there was NO cheese or sour cream also due to "allergies" and the waitress said NO problem.  The menu said it comes with a teriyaki glaze which sounded safe enough for me. she sets my beautiful plate down before me, veggie soft tacos accompanied by coconut rice, black beans and fresh salsa, I noticed a red/orange sauce strewn across the entire dish, along with the teriyaki glaze.  I was immediately suspicious of a mayonnaise presence as the server explained that the chef uses his own "secret sauce" for an added touch. I only wish I would've snapped a photo of it! My fear was confirmed...the sauce was mayo-based, probably mixed with sriracha...something I do with my vegan "Just Mayo" all the time. Our server apologized and offered to prepare another plate that was "vegan."  Yes, she actually used the word after all that lol.  In the end, the food was scrumptious, especially the coconut rice, and the restaurant was very accommodating.  I schooled the server about Just Mayo being egg-free and "safe" for all patrons without compromising taste.  She said she would relay that to the chef!
     As our post race meal, we headed back south to Delray Beach, FL, along famous Atlantic Avenue, to a preferred hang out of ours, Budda Sky Bar, a departure from our usual post race beer/french fries reward. We were famished and in desperate need of fried food so we ordered vegetable spring rolls in addition to their divine mushroom dumplings and stir fried string beans.  However, much to our chagrin, when spring rolls arrived, they were nothing more than veggie egg rolls, which of course are made out of egg wonton wraps.  I proceeded to taste the inside and was unsure of the filling.  I have encountered the  "inadvertent meat eat" with dumplings in the past so I grew weary of the contents, which looked an awful lot like ground chicken or pork.  It's hard to distinguish ground meat!  The chef actually came out and insisted there were only vegetables, no meat inside but when we remarked how they were egg rolls, not spring rolls, there was no changing his mind about that.  He brought us a fresh batch of the same to be sure and said it's definitely tofu inside and that he said he tries to season it so well so that it tastes like chicken, which makes it taste better...yes, those were his words. Needless to say, I stayed away from the egg rolls altogether and embraced all the wonderful veggie options this Japanese restaurant has to offer.  Essentially, the chef's opinion is much like so many others...everything tastes better with animal products in them.  We know better!!!
     Try as we might, we will always face challenges when it comes to plant-based, cruelty-free meals but as more and more foodies turn to plants, more and more folks in the food industry will catch on. It's a trend that's here to stay.  We must remain positive as well as patient in our endeavors and not get discouraged every time we have to send a meal back.  Each time that we do, it actually sends a message to both chefs and servers to think outside the box, be creative, go beyond the animal byproducts,  Even if a server seems to be aware of the term "vegan," they may not have a clear understanding of what that actually means.  We have to simply be specific when ordering and ask questions for clarification.  And just maybe, we'll make a few of them go plant-based all the way!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Maine is Veg Friendly! Say What????


     When you think Maine, you think lobster!!!  I mean, you can't help but think about this bright red crustacean when it's symbol is plastered just about everywhere you look, especially on Mt. Desert Island, the third largest island on the eastern seaboard, where my running partner and I recently ran the MDI Marathon.  My partner in crime, Dr. Mark Shachner, is a seasoned marathon runner who had the pleasure (or nightmare) of running this particular marathon 2 years ago and fell in love with the course, extreme challenges and all, which starts at Main Street in Bal Harbor and finishes in Southwest Harbor.
This lobster-lovin' runner couldn't wait to take me there to experience the natural beauty MDI has to offer but was concerned with the limited dining options available to vegans.  During his stay, he checked out the local establishments in search of hearty, healthy, plant-based cuisine but was disappointed with what he found.  Fortunately, he ate at The Burning Tree, in Otter Creek, the night before they closed for the season, and was pleased to discover locally-grown vegan fare on the menu.
     Fast forward 2 years later, there we were, staying at his friend's beautiful home in Somesville, excited to tackle the MDI Marathon together!

MDI has enchanted visitors throughout the ages from the mountains/trails/lakes/wildlife of Acadia National Park to the magical marine mammals and abundant sea creatures. The island essentially lends itself to nature-loving folks so it makes sense to provide patrons with plant-based cuisine, right?
Mark was determined to drive me by the Burning Tree to make dinner reservations.  Unfortunately, when we got there, they had already closed its doors for the winter, which can be the case for many places so better check before you go. Upon reviewing menus for both familiar as well as brand new joints, Mark was delighted to see that vegan options were ample enough for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Much has changed over the last few years, in a positive way...very representative of society in general!                                  
     Our first night there, we drove into touristy yet charming downtown Bar Harbor to grab some dinner at the Side Street Cafe.  We ordered the homemade hummus & olive tapenade served with warm pita wedges and brushed with olive oil as an appetizer. I absolutely LOVED this very generous portion of wholesome goodness.  For dinner, I had a large salad with fresh roasted veggies that was very satisfying.  And of course there was draft beer to wash it all down with...An organic Peak IPA.
And as I ask at every, there were NO VEGAN CUPCAKES for dessert!!!  Aside from that, the SSC was so accommodating that we found ourselves there 2 more times, once for lunch where they make a homemade vegan black bean patty served either in a wrap or ciabatta spicy, hearty and savory which we both thoroughly enjoyed!!!  Then, we rewarded ourselves (a promise I keep) with some homemade skins-on fries accompanied by a coffee stout chaser post race! A little Sunday football to boot! Although Mark enjoys plant-based meals, he finally indulged in what Bar Harbor is famous for...a lobster roll!    After all, he is NOT a veg but VERY veg friendly! It's important to be both accepting and supportive of one another!
     On the same street, we stumbled upon Gringo's, the locals' hang out, where they offer casual fresh mex!  There are many healthy choices, all satisfying, topped with homemade salsa.  I created my own burrito which was very filling, I actually left some over which is rare, especially before a race!!!  
We had actually attempted to grab some breakfast earlier that day at This Way Cafe but missed the boat by 10 minutes, NO EXCEPTIONS!  There they offer "The Vegan," soy seasoned scrambled tofu with mushrooms, onions, peppers, broccoli, potatoes with unbuttered toast.  Tofu is NOT exactly my chosen protein source but once in a while, I'll have some if it sounds appetizing.  TWC is also open for dinner where there are a few creative veg-friendly items on the menu that sound delish!  I Will have to wait for next time.
     Another restaurant we have on our short list to try is China Joy, which seems like typical fare but I did notice that Sawyer's Market in Southwest Harbor sold pre-cooked, packaged vegan dumplings and noodles prepared by China Joy which looked very fresh and appetizing.  That market also offered a homemade vegan potato soup but unfortunately it wasn't ready yet when we had stopped in.  By the way, I love the idea of these little grab-n-go boxed vegan delights (chinese, sushi, sandwiches) which are becoming increasingly popular in either grocer's/convenient story fridges or airports but sometimes they can be a bit soggy or taste like they have expired, even though the date shown is not. Eat a Pita, also in Southwest Harbor, is another one we wanted to check out but didn't have time, as they offer casual mediterranean pitas/burgers/salads/sandwiches with lots of veg option.  I especially like the sound of their spicy vegetarian chili, where they say, "you'll wonder where the beef went!"
     The biggest disappointed was at McKay's Public House, where we actually made reservations. The restaurant was so charming, the air so crisp and inviting, that we chose to sit in their outdoor patio area under a big heater.  The salads were tasty enough, as were the crispy sweet potato fries, but the curried vegetable dish I ordered consisted of what appeared to be frozen vegetables over very bland rice.  The worst part was the piece of paper I found in the dish... must have been from the box of frozen veggies lol.  Our server apologized, quickly removed the dish and scratched it from the bill. Oh well... at least I filled up on the warm bread with dipping oil when we sat down.  They all can't be winners.  Next time, we will try Lompac Cafe, with their many plant-based options on the menu PLUS dessert...bittersweet chocolate mousse made vegan and gluten free with almond milk!  They have sorbet as well. I can't believe I missed that one!!!  I'm always in search of vegan desserts to sample other than FRUIT!!!
     One last place, I promise!  Reel Pizza Cinerama, a stone's throw from SSC, is where you can catch a flick and customize your vegan pizza with either white or wheat crust and lots of interesting sauces/toppings/soy cheese.  I lied...there's The Friar's Pub, at the Black Friar Inn, where they have vegan pancakes for breakfast and make their own granola, served with fresh fruit.
       I would be remiss not to mention how impressed I was with the pre-race pasta dinner organized by many friendly and welcoming race volunteers at Mt. Desert High School.  As I walked up to get my mound of plain white penne pasta, (who needs fiber before a race?) I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw a sign that read "Marinara Vegan!"  Rather than top the pasta, I ate it like tomato soup!  Yum! Since the race was sponsored by Fiore olive oil, bottles were presented like salt and pepper on the tables so I feasted on lotsa pasta topped with olive oil and nutritional yeast that I brought from home. Attention vegans:  NEVER leave home without your NY to ensure your RDA of B12- it goes with everything!!!
     I think I have fed you enough info about vegan-friendly dining establishments for now.  I'm sure I'm missing a few but hopefully, you have an idea of how surprisingly accommodating Bar Harbor and MDI has become for us plant lovers!  If you happen to be a runner interested in participating in the MDI Marathon, Half Marathon or Relay Event, spoiler alert:  stop reading!  Continue on if you are just curious since I will say that this race is probably the most difficult I have ever run and I have completed 33 full marathons!!!  The cold temps, strong head/tail winds and undulating hills proved extremely challenging, to say the least.  I will say this, though, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking throughout, minus the last 5 miles in Southwest Harbor due to traffic and construction.
     Although I fell in love with MDI, it was no love affair between me and the marathon!  I look forward to returning to this spectacular island as long as there are no races on the calendar!  Can't wait to check out those places we didn't get to as well as the new ones that I'm sure will pop up between now and then.  Since Bal Harbor is generally very seasonal, check operating hours beforehand. For now I will pray that upon my return, I will be able to find a vegan cupcake, rising out from above the plethora of local blueberry pies, popovers, moon pies, salt-water taffy and fudge.  I can hear the harps now...."laaaaaa."   Then perhaps I will run the MDI Marathon again!!!

Training with a conscience; staying firmly planted...VeganGirlAthLetes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Breaking News: Vegans Suffering Globally from Severe Protein Deficiency!!!

     As crazy as it sounds to us plant-based folks, that title seems to be a very common misconception among our omnivorous counterparts!  According to them, we seem to be dropping like flies from protein deficiency, as we suffer from a disease called "Veganism!"   This once rare affliction linked to plants is now becoming an epidemic!  From our extremely fit to our morbidly obese non-vegan peers, the lack of protein in our vegan diet is causing them great concern for our health and well being. Many suspect that there might even be a brain tissue-eating bacteria involved since obviously we have lost our minds!!! Forget all the other diseases out there which are NOT associated with veganism, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood, anemia, cancer, Chrohn's, colitis, osteoporosis, fatty liver, etc.... Vegans must stop what they are doing and for g-d's sake eat some animal flesh so we all wont just drop dead.  I'm flattered that friends and family to virtual strangers seem to care so much but at the same time, I'm annoyed by having to constantly explain myself to these non-nutritionists/dieticians/medical experts. The question, "Where do you get your protein?" is as old as time, as tired as cat deprived of her 22-hour nap!  Yawn!!!!
     As an accomplished long-distance runner (VeganGirlAthLete, a.k.a. VeGAL), not to mention 47 y/o mom of 3, why must I always answer to either an unfit, unhealthy person with a history of chronic illnesses or some muscle head bulked up by whey protein, the reason behind my decision to go plant based?  And why must I back it up with an in depth report about where I obtain my protein sources?  It's not like I go around tooting my own horn or lecturing anyone on the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.  I live mainstream, surrounded by omnivores, just trying to live my life as ethically, peacefully and accepting as possible. But if the subject should come up, I feel sometimes that I am attacked, rather than praised for making a conscious decision to be kind, compassionate, or as VeGALs say, "compassionfit," healthy and environmentally friendly.  I am pretty sure you feel the same way.  I mean, how often do people respond with, "wow, cool!" or "I'm so impressed!" or "you are so awesome, how can I become vegan like you?" or "you must really LOVE animals!"  or "you look great" or "what an inspiration!" or "you are obviously doing something right!"  or "you really care about our planet!" (I can go on and on and on lol).  I will say this, which made my day a few weeks ago... I was treating a patient in their home when his very sweet spouse tried to push half of her chicken chimichanga from Taco Bell on me, when I politely declined.  She persisted so I explained that I am vegan and only eat plant-based foods.  She then replied, "no wonder your skin looks so good!"  I was flabbergasted!!!  
      Meat-eaters insist that as humans, we are designed to eat animal flesh.  However, much to their dismay, veganism has been around for at least four million years, according to John. A. McDougall, M.D., perhaps the most knowledgeable expert on the relationship between diet and disease.  Recent anthropology research suggests that early man wasn't the inherently evil and aggressive hunter, natural killer that Judeo-Christian ideology suggests as our accepted paradigm of human evolution. But I will spare you the history lesson.  In a nutshell, we have evolved from monkeys and chimps who are 99% plant based!!!  How can anyone argue with that???  The key word here is "evolve" which is what veganism is all about... with modern medicine as well as an abundance of research/literature, humans have discovered that many diseases...the real culprits or "epidemics" here are linked to animal trans fats, simple sugars and processed foods, NOT a whole foods, plant-based diet!!!
     While I aim to keep this blog light hearted (by now you know my sense of humor), there is a level of sadness that we as vegans experience from time to time in that while we have embraced a kind and compassionate lifestyle, not to mention an extremely healthy one, we are scrutinized and even frowned upon more often than not.  We have made a conscience, life-changing decision which arguably benefits everyone, where we are so proud that we want to shout it to the world, but then leave it to someone to come along to try and burst our bubble, reminding us of our so called "disease," our dirty little secret.
     Being the butt of people's jokes just isn't funny anymore.  What I have learned to do lately is stop those skeptics dead in their tracks and laugh at or mock myself first, beat them to the punch, get it out of the way then move on.  YOU have the ability to out-wit them since YOU are the one who has EVOLVED!  If you are a newbie to the veg world, my advice would be to stay above the fray, be true to who you are, don't second guess yourself and set the best example ever!!! Inevitably, our disease will spread (ideally like wildfires), as folks become more educated...the research is undeniable!!! The good news is that more and more plant-based options are fast becoming available for us from mainstream grocery stores to restaurants, airlines, hotels, cruise ships, corporations, hospitals and learning institutions. If it's not happening in your town...MAKE it happen!

Training with a conscience, staying firmly planted...VeganGirlAthLete!!!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Haters Want to Be Us!

     Welcome back fellow VeGALs (VeganGirlAthLetes) and welcome to my blog if you are new to the VeGAL movement.  Whether you are a long-time veg, recently vegan or just beginning to embark on your plant-based journey, becoming a VeGAL means embracing a lifestyle consisting of compassionate health, nutrition, beauty, fashion and fitness.  We take veganism to a whole nutha that is elevated, sophisticated, refined and inspired which means VeGALs strive to stay positive regardless of the not-so-positive situations we unfortunately find ourselves in more often than not.  I'm pretty sure that we all have similar stories to share from being the butt of people's jokes to getting constantly lectured, being scrutinized from head to toe to even being harassed.  The bottom line is this...haters want to be us!  When we keep that in mind, it makes it easier to let other's negative energy roll off our backs!  After all, VeGALs demonstrate strong convictions, not to mention unwavering commitment, to our plant-based, cruelty-free lifestyle.  How many people can actually say that?  I mean, many folks claim to be animal lovers yet somehow they have no problem disconnecting the food on their plates from the innocent animals it came from.  It is one thing to be a dog/cat lover, but to say you love all animals equally...hmmm... that is not something people are ready, willing and able to accept.  As VeGALS, utilizing animal products/byproducts for our benefit in any way is NOT an option.  We as VeGALs represent an elite group of dedicated female athletes, all shapes, sizes, levels and disciplines who utilize only plant-based products to fuel our well-oiled machines while paying mind to animal welfare as well as environmental integrity.  We are COMPASSIONFIT!!!
     That said, we are bound to face judgment, criticism, sarcasm and resentment throughout our lifetime.  Uneducated, uninformed, ignorant, opinionated and outspoken assholes are unavoidable!  We can't hide from them and live in caves or under rocks or banish ourselves to vegan colonies...we must put our best foot forward as we face adversity and not let those folks try and bring us down or get a rise out of us.  That is exactly what they aim to do in an attempt to make them feel better about themselves.  When you know in your heart where you stand, no one can knock you down.  As our philosophy goes...Training with a conscience; staying firmly planted, VeganGirlAthletes!  Never let 'em see you sweat, that is, unless they see you working your tush off to stay fit and healthy where no animals were harmed!  VeGALs are badass, right down to our cores!!!
     The best advice I can give if you are confronted by some idiot is to just laugh it off and carry on... teach by example.  Maintaining a sense of humor is key!  Those people who are most vocal are the ones who probably question their own convictions the most!  Remember, there is power in numbers!  VeGALs stand united! Show your VeGAL pride and spread the word.  Join our facebook page at and connect with VeGAL sistas from all over the world.  Become a VeGAL on Instagram using "vegal" plus your name, follow me @vegalandee.  Check out our webpage, to purchase a performance tee made from recycled materials to benefit Farm Sanctuary.  We are currently working on a new running tank with and will keep you posted.
     And remember...haters want to be us 'cuz we are COMPASSIONFIT!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Have Skirt Will Twirl!

    "It doesn't matter how you feel it's how you look dahling, and you look mahvelous!"  You might be old enough, like myself, to remember this timeless line by Billy Crystal as he portrayed Fernando Llamas on Saturday Night Live many years ago.  As VeGALs (VeganGirlAthLetes), we are careful not to utilize animal-derived products for our benefit but who says we all can't look Mahvelous?  I mean, aren't we health conscience?  Don't we go to great lengths to maintain a healthy weight for our body type?  Aren't we concerned about premature aging, using plant-based, cruelty-free preventative methods? We bust our butts to the point of sheer exhaustion sometimes to look good.  No matter how old or how bad ass we are, at the end of the day, we are still girls and we want to look pretty, right?  That NEVER gets old!!!
     Two of my idols always wear skirts (and matching bra tops) by Running Skirts...Catra Corbett a.k.a. Dirt Diva, also a VeGAL, and Dr. Juli Goldstein, a.k.a Ms. USA Petite 2013, veterinarian and vegetarian.  Catra is a serious ultra runner (around 300 with her fave distance being 100 miles) and hard core fitness athlete and Dr. Juli is an accomplished ultra runner.  Check out to view the many adorable colors, patterns and options!

They both recently crewed for team Finding Nimmo (Juli was chief) at the Badwater135.  Talk about badass!! They both take great strides with their apparel to look cute and tough at the same time while running through the wilderness and getting down and dirty!  Girl power gets them through the toughest of times, never forgetting who they are or where they came from.  Watch out running dudes, you're about to get chicked!!!
     For me personally, the running skirt/skort has proven both practical and comfy, especially during my first 50 miler not that long ago.  I wore the Moving Comfort Running Skirt with patterned compression short, all made from recycled materials, which I purchased online (in purple and gray) from  They hold up so well, with sweat-wicking properties, lots of storage and no chafing! 

     I discovered that when I wear a skirt, I just want to twirl and celebrate being a girl!!!  In fact, I think it's growing into an obsession!  I want to wear a skirt when I run all the time.  I need one in every color!!  Having been through (still going through) a domestic crisis, my running is my salvation!  On the one hand, I never thought I would ever have to take on so much disappointment and grief but on the other hand, it is my female instincts which have made me rise above such adversity and set new goals for myself.  To that end, my perseverance has paid off and I am honored to be selected as a runner for #oiselleteam.  If you aren't familiar, Oiselle (French for female bird) is an up and coming company founded by a fab, not to mention accomplished runner, Sally Bergesen and run by a small team of great women, specializing in women's running, yoga and swimming apparel.  I cannot wait to slip on the Bum Wrap (light and non chafing), Oiselle's answer to the running skirt, when budget allows of course, lol.  The compression shorts peek out of the short wrap around skirt, creating an athletic and very flattering look. Please visit for all your fitness needs and get ready to fly!!! #gofasttakechances #headupwingsout
     So VeGAL, if running is your thang, won't you consider the running skirt/skort?  With so many choices out there, surely you will find the right fit and when you do, spin and spin and spin. Twirl 'til your heart's content!  Let it be a reminder of who you are, not matter how difficult the challenge may be.  You are strong, confident and determined.  Let nothing or no one stand in your way.  Send a message to others that you are NOT to be messed, don't let the skirt fool you...we are kick ass!!!  It's better to look good than to feel good and dahling, you look mahvelous!!  


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vegan Athlete to the Extreme!!!

Vegan Athlete to the Extreme!

     Which (you might say "who") came first...the vegan or the athlete?  For me, it was the athlete. Heck, I didn’t even know that veganism existed when I began to embrace the world of fitness many years ago.  The decision to exercise can happen overnight but to become a full-fledged vegan is a process (as it should be). The leap is a big one- a life-changing and hopefully permanent event.  We may not always have the time, motivation or physical ability to exercise but once we go vegan, most, if not all of us hope to stay that way for the long haul!!!  The plan should be sound and well-thought out, the commitment unwavering.  Our strict adherence to plant-based, cruelty-free whole foods does indeed lend itself to the fitness arena, making those who choose this path even more dedicated as athletes.  Veganism and fitness go hand in hand.  It is not to say that being a vegan athlete means being bone thin or ripped..  Sure, there are many elite vegan athletes around the world, which is certainly helpful to our cause.  But you don’t have to be famous to be respected.  Being an athletic vegan means being fit and healthy at a weight that is comfortable for you!  By eating a healthy diet, coupled with a healthy body image, active vegans will naturally exude confidence.  My personal philosophy is to maintain a pure, natural, and organic-inspired plant-based paradigm as much as possible.  That said, I am far from perfect when it comes to my nutritional intake. Furthermore, despite my consistent exercise, I will forever battle with my weight!  To that end, I have called upon some not-so-organic methods/products, on occasion, referring to synthetic rather than pure, fried instead of steamed/baked, artificial vs natural. But one thing is for certain...I am always cruelty-free (except my self-punishing endurance sports) and nothing I use is derived from animal sources (that I am aware of) from my fuel right down to my cosmetics, beauty products, apparel and shoes!  Although you know me to have very salty tooth, sometimes I just gotta have a big and fluffy white vegan cupcake or a chocolate chip cookie, or even a handful of Dots.  In a nutshell, my advice would be to do the best that you can but be flexible, adaptable and don’t beat yourself up should either extenuating circumstances or an irresistible basket of french fries present themselves.
     One such instance for me where my fuel demands stretched beyond just whole foods occurred during my first 50-mile individual race in the hot, humid and very sunny Florida Keys May 17th.  Let me just say that as a VeGAL (Vegan Girl AthLete) I do NOT claim to be a raw foodist, naturalist or holistic follower.  VeGALs are mainstream and thus we are not above utilizing modern medicine and technology as needed.  If I have a severe headache/pain, I don’t hesitate to reach for Tylenol,and for inflammation or extreme muscle aches, maybe some Advil.  This is not a daily practice but sometimes my whole foods, plant-based diet/herbal remedies are simply not enough to meet the demands of this hard core VeGAL!!  Sure, there are wonderful new whole foods products out there designed for vegan endurance athletes such as Vega Sport or Activefuel+ which I used on a daily basis.  But when I’m doing an ultra run (50k or 50 miles), my body tells me that I need more for extended endurance.  Fortunately, the aid stations are equipped with many vegan-friendly foods such as oranges, dried fruit, pretzels, peanuts, salted boiled potatoes, raw carrots, coconut water and Hammer gel.  Endurance running/sports can be very taxing on the digestive system, making it almost impossible to ingest the food and quickly turn it over to burn as fuel.  Nausea can set in at any time and the organs can protest food/thick liquids or anything, for that matter! Taking in too much water to combat thirst may lead to hyponatremia. which could then lead to the ultimate disaster. Then you go into survival mode...take anything you can and try with your might to keep it down!  
  Luckily, I inadvertently discovered a product called Drip Drop at my last ultra marathon, which is the official hydration powder of UltraSports.  When I have posted about it before on social media, a few readers were up in arms that the box says “medical grade,” as if it is medicine that is off limits to vegans.  Simply put, medical grade means pure and unadulterated, having the highest potency. Just essential electrolytes combined in a flavorful bioavailable powder form to yield quick absorption, warding of nausea, muscle cramping, dehydration, and even death!  It is non-toxic, cruelty-free and not a controlled substance.  Mixed with water, Drip Drop is recommended before, during and after workouts.  Post run/workout, it speeds recovery and overall soreness.  Same is true for the product Saltstick caps PLUS, buffered electrolyte salts plus caffeine and sodium citrate.  They come in vegetarian pill form, easily swallowed/digested to reduce heat stress, and muscle cramping, while maintaining electrolyte levels and increasing energy levels.  I turned to both throughout but at certain points during the race, I became so exhausted and queasy that the only thing I could stomach was an icy cold, refreshing ginger ale or cola served at the aid stations.  They are there for a reason.  So what if I had refined sugar from a mass-produced soda made in a factory from a large corporation? So shoot me!!! animals harmed!  And no,  I didn’t fall off the wagon and become addicted to soft drinks (that was never my thing)!  Final result:  17th place overall out of 107, 3rd in my age group!  I had a very strong finish thanks to my training as well as my fuel!  Not too shabby for a vegan female mom of 3 approaching her late 40’s!

     Some vegan readers may be skeptical upon seeing labeled boxes or bottles resembling medicine.  If you are one to stick to whole foods/water for all your nutritional needs and it is working then good for you!  However, if you are a hard core endurance athlete, like me, potentially putting yourself in harms way due to the extreme physical demands as well as the threatening elements along the course, then I strongly suggest doing whatever it takes to not only avoid becoming road kill but to actually enjoy the event you trained so hard for as well as the celebration after! That sure would suck if you didn’t finish (DNF) or if you were too sick or nauseous to enjoy the beer served at the post-race recovery drink ever!!!

     Gotta run for now!  Stay hydrated this summer!!!

Andrea VeGAL Medalie

Monday, March 24, 2014

What it Means to be a VeGAL

Becoming a VeGAL (Vegan Girl AthLete) isn't merely about plants vs. animals.  Being a VeGAL isn't simply about a (cool) name or label.  Saying you are a VeGAL isn't just about expressing a particular attitude.  Becoming a VeGAL is about adopting a particular way of life!!!  When you arrive at the decision to become a VeGAL, you have come to the conclusion that you are committed to following an elevated philosophy; that you are unwavering in your convictions.  The belief is that our chosen athletic disciplines are a part of us, not just a phase.  Even if injury should sideline us from our favorite sport, we still find a way to maintain our fitness through alternate channels. We are dedicated to upholding a regular workout regimen, fueled and outfitted strictly by plant sources...NO EXCEPTIONS!!!  VeGALs do not have to be elite athletes, but we are definitely elite when it comes to how we value life, any life, human or animal.  We are all equal!  Thus, no animals are harmed in the making of a true VeGAL.  Sure, the journey to get here can be quite a tricky one along the way, filled with obstacles, challenges and pitfalls.  If it were simple, maybe everyone would do it.  But, once you make that determination, staying a VeGAL is easy thanks to the ever-increasing vegan trend around the world.  Plant-based nutrition is now at your fingertips, cruelty-free beauty products/apparel abound.  Never mind those skeptics, the ones who love to tease or bring you down...veganism is here to stay!  To take it one step further, becoming a VeGAL means you are joining a sophisticated community of vegan female athletes who uphold a plant-based paradigm.  Not only are we strong physically, we are strong in our belief system regarding animal welfare and environmental integrity!  We are beautiful from the inside out!  VeGALs run, swim, bike, hike, spin, ski, walk, Crossfit, practice yoga/pilates, play tennis, lift weights, do martial arts or Zumba!  We come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all levels.  We struggle just like our non-vegan female counterparts with health, weight, beauty, body image, hormones, emotions, relationships, financial issues, etc.  What sets VeGALs apart from everyone else is that we share a common bond...we are hard core, down to our very core!!!  Like the precious lotus flower, we rise above adversity yet we are no shrinking violet!  VeGALs are in constant motion!!! Unfortunately, we are still a rare breed, spread out far and wide, leaving us feeling lonely and isolated at times in our endeavors. We must build our unity through social media for support, information exchange and inspiration.  Please like my facebook page, VEGAL, vegan girl athletes, or follow me on twitter @VegalAndrea for the latest tips, products, recipes, events, etc.  Feel free to share pics/info too!  Make a statement, raise awareness, spread the word by sporting the VeGAL high-quality, lightweight performance tee shirt made from recycled materials with sweat-wicking/SPF properties at, where a portion of the proceeds goes to supporting Farm Sanctuary rescue organization.   I'm excited to embark on this next chapter with you!  Training with a conscience; staying firmly planted...VeGALs unite!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

VeGAL Performance T-Shirts are Here!!!

Welcome, fellow VeGALs!  In case you were wondering where I've been, well...I've been busy designing our new performance apparel short and long-sleeved tees sporting the VeGAL logo in front! There is an air of mystery about the name rather than an "in your face," potentially offensive message with a meat or political reference.  VeGAL, which stands for Vegan Girl AthLete, is a sophisticated community of dedicated female athletes of all ages, disciplines, levels and sizes!  We are not united in order to teach a lesson or give a lecture but rather to come together as a force in motion with a common bond...we train with a conscience; we are firmly planted (as the back of the shirt suggests).  I'm proud to announce that the shirts are manufactured in the USA using recycled materials and the result is a soft, lightweight, comfy shirt which offers sweat-wicking and UV protection capabilities by the company Atayne.  A portion of the proceeds benefit Farm Sanctuary, where they rescue and rehabilitate abused and neglected farm animals- a cause I have always been passionate about.  The path to arriving at VeGAL can be a long and winding journey to say the least.  As women, we face many obstacles, challenges and adversity throughout our lifetime from body image and beauty to weight/health issues and hormonal imbalances, to relationships, careers, child-bearing, child-rearing, finances, etc.  True, we have many blessings but life does indeed throw us curve balls every now and again.  Through it all, it is our strict adherence to exercise while utilizing plant sources for fuel/apparel coupled with our strong convictions regarding animal welfare and environmental integrity that has paved the way for the birth of VeGAL.  I am ecstatic to offer these awesome performance tees, perfect before, during and after workouts as well for casual wear with jeans!  The more shirts sold, the more we can help the animals and best of all, we can express to the world pride in our belief system and hopefully the word will spread at how badass and hard core to the bone VeGALs truly are!!!  Please don't hesitate to support the VeGAL movement.  Visit to order your shirt and join the ranks of this elite group which upholds an elevated, incomparable philosophy.  A new website is also under construction, where VeGALs will have the chance to gather and share information and recipes.  Athletic events and meet ups will also be announced.  In the meantime, please enjoy our sister site,, where talented VeGAL editor Danielle Bussone offers a wealth of information as well as vegan/vegan friendly restaurant reviews. I also write a monthly column called "Food as Fuel" for those distance running junkies like myself. 
Thank you so much for your support.  VeGALs unite!