Tag Archives: Health

Why I’m A Vegetarian

I recently realized that the story of how I became a vegetarian and why I am still a vegetarian after 17 years would make a good article.  I’ll start with how I became a vegetarian and follow it up with why I’ve remained vegetarian.  Hopefully you find this at least entertaining, if not thought-provoking.

The Beginning

In my first year of college, my roomate was a vegan.  This was in the early 90’s and the dorm cafeteria was terribly un-vegan friendly.  For every meal, his only option was the salad bar and he usually had to pick out the bits of shredded cheese that had gotten mixed in with the lettuce.  Often I sat across from him eating a hamburger and poking fun of him grazing on a salad.  He talked to me about the benefits, how he felt healthier, and how it was better for the earth to not eat animal products.  None of it had much impact on me at the time.

The following year we took a week long road trip.  At the beginning of the trip I agreed to eat what he ate for a week and thus began my vegan/vegetarian experience.  Eating vegan on the road is incredibly hard.  Eating vegan on the road with a college student’s budget is even harder.  I have a distinct memory of crouching in the bread isle of a convenience store somewhere in Ohio reading the ingredients of all the loaves of bread.  Just about every loaf eventually had a dairy product somewhere near the bottom of the list.  Surprisingly, Wonderbread Wheat was vegan so we picked that up and some peanut butter and jelly and had sandwiches for several days.  We did eat better than just PB&J, and by the end of the week I was hooked.  I felt better, I felt lighter, and the ethics of not eating animals was starting to get into my head.

No Turning Back

That was January of 1992, and I haven’t (willfully) eaten animal flesh since then, with the exception of fish occasionally which I’ll get into later.  I’ve had my ups and downs, I’ve been overweight and lost weight, but I am happy to say that I am still a steadfast vegetarian.  Using this handy calculator on the PETA website, I can proudly say that by not eating meat I have saved the lives of 4,760 animals.  Adding in my whole family shows we have saved almost 15,000 animal lives!  That is pretty cool.

Do you have a story about how you got turned on to being vegetarian or vegan?  Are you currently a meat eater, but considering changing?  Be sure to let me know.

Keeping Your Nose Clean – Part 2

The other day I posted about using a neti pot and the benefits I have gotten from that.  There is an alternative which is similar, but a little easier to use called the NeilMed system.  The concept is the same as the neti pot- it is a salt water rinse of the nose.  It uses pressurized salt water instead of relying on gravity like the neti pot does.


I like the neti pot and ususally stick to using that system.  I do like to occasionally use the NeilMed either for a change of pace, or when the pressurized flow is helpful, like when I am a little bit congested.

The other reason I use the NeilMed is for my children.  For anyone younger or anyone who has struggled trying the neti pot this is a great alternative.  I can help use the NeilMed squeeze bottle on them when it would be much harder to try to help get all the angles right and tip the pot just right.

Adult NeilMed squeeze bottle

Adult NeilMed squeeze bottle

The System

NeilMed squeeze bottles are available at many drug stores.  I have found them locally at WalGreens, CVS, and places like Target.  They sell them in adult and pediatric sizes.  When you initially purchase a bottle it usually comes with a supply of little packets of pre-measued salt to make a proper salt solution.  There are different packets available for adult, adult extra-salty, and pediatric to match your needs and type of bottle.  Once you have used up your supply of included salt packets they sell refil kits so you can just buy the salt without the bottle.  I have found that the pediatric refills are harder to find and had to go to a specialty local pharmacy to find them.

The Salt

Here again, it is much cheaper to buy salt in bulk and measure it out yourself.  I do find that my kids don’t like the “sea” quality of the sea salt I buy, and the packets are very convenient for them, so I do buy the pediatric refills.  The packets are premeasured and easy to use and the salt is a special blend and seems to be very mild.


The process is very similar to the neti pot.  Start by running the hot water until it is warm, but not hot.  You can either put the salt in first or water in first, but get them both into the bottle.  Screw the cap on tight, put your finger over the hole and turn the bottle upside down to mix the salt, and then you are ready to go.  Tilt your head slightly to the left and insert the bottle tip into the right nostril.  Now squeeze firmly – I’ve found that slow and steady squeezing works the best.  You can either use the entire bottle up and repeat for the other side, or switch sides when the bottle is about half full.

Be very careful of using too much squeeze pressure.  You can easily force water out towards your ears – especially if you are a little congested – and this is very unpleasant.

NeilMed plastic neti pot

NeilMed plastic neti pot

Other Thoughts

NeilMed includes a nice detailed pamphlet along with their products.  It is a good read to get more information on the benefits of salt water rinsing of the nose.  Also of note is that they sell a pretty decent plastic net pot like the one pictured here which is a good way to try that route out.

Keeping Your Nose Clean

Allergies are a huge problem in our society.  I used to suffer like lots of people.  I took an almost daily cocktail of Zyrtec and 2 Advil to keep the terrible sinus headaches at bay.

Last year I started doing one thing and was able to stop taking medication and over a year later, my allergies are still manageable.  I still occasionally get sinus headaches, but just taking an occasional Advil is much better than taking something every day.  Got your interest?

The thing that worked for me is the neti pot.  It is also called nasal irrigation or nasal lavage and is basically a salt water rinse of the nose.  Several doctors had previously recommended it casually to me, but it really should be recommended more strongly.

simple ceramic neti pot

simple ceramic neti pot

The Pot

I have a simple ceramic pot that I got at Whole Foods, our local health store chain.  They also come in plastic, glass, or metal.  I have tried the ceramic and plastic and can’t tell much difference.  Just get one and try it and you can always replace it with something else later.

The setup under my sink - salt box and pot

The setup under my sink - salt box and pot

The Salt

You could purchase specially formulated salt, but the price adds up quickly.  I recommend getting bulk sea salt from your local health food store.  A big bag will be less than a dollar and will last several months.  Managing that much salt can easily be a mess.  Do *not* keep it in a bag.  It will make it too hard to manage and you won’t keep up with it.  I put mine in a disposable Ziploc Tupperware box and keep it under the sink with my neti pot.  Keep a plastic spoon on top and figure out through trial and error how much salt you like in the mix.

The Process

First, make sure you have a box of tissues on your counter right next to the sink within reach.  You’ll appreciate this later.  Let the hot tap water run for a bit to warm up while you spoon some salt into the pot.  Fill the pot up with warm – almost hot water.  Too hot and it can easily burn your sensitive nasal membranes.  Too cold and it feels strange and bad.  Stir it with the spoon.  Now the actual process takes some trial and error to get right, but you will know when it is working.  Lean over your sink and tilt your head to the left and put the tip of the pot into the right nostril.  You have two variables to adjust – the tilt of your head and the tilt of the pot.  If you tilt the pot too much then the water comes out the top of the pot.  If this happens, you need to tilt your head more and the pot less.  When done right, the water will go in the right nostril and pour out the left nostril.  Now you can tilt your head to the right and put the pot into the left nostril and do the same for the other side.

I do this daily and on regular days I do one pot between both nostrils switching about half way.  Occasionally – maybe one a week or so – I will do one full pot for each nostril.

The Finish

When you are done you will still have salt water in your sinuses and dripping out your nose.  Grab a tissue (you did remember to put the box close, right?) and gently blow your nose.  Do not hold one or both of your nostrils closed!  Just blow gently but firmly out of both nostrils.  If you hold one side you can easily force salt water back up the sinuses towards your ears.  This can feel uncomfortable and is not a very pleasant sensation.  Next, lean over at the waist and tuck your chin to your chest.  Wait a few seconds for the salt water to drain and then blow your nose again.  Do the same thing here with a gentle but firm blow out both nostrils.


What I outlined above is considered Level 1 of Jala Neti.  It cleanses the upper nasal sinuses and is what I do on a daily basis.  This is good enough and you can get great relief from allergies and sinus irritation by doing only the Level 1 steps.  If you are interested, there are additionally levels 2 and 3.  I’ll cover these in future posts in more detail.

A few minutes a day can make a life-changing difference.  I love not having to rely on allergy drugs and my extreme headaches are much less frequent.  Have you had a positive – or bad – experience using a neti pot?  Comment below and tell me about it.

What Is – Organic?

Just about everything lately is available in organic forms.  What exactly does organic mean?  The terms “organic” and “conventionally grown” are typically seen.  Organic means grown without chemical pesticides and chemical growth enhancers (think Miracle-Gro), while “conventionally grown” means grown with chemical pesticides and chemical growth enhancers.  It is an unfortunate situation that has arrisin out of our modern society.  Only 50 years ago, everything was grown naturally and the idea of using chemicals on crops was unheard of.


In order to be labeled “organic” the product or produce must be certified by an officially recognized organization.  Some of these include:

What Is – Living Better?

So what exactly do I mean by living better?  I’ll spell out in this post what type of things I’ll cover and what point of view I have.

Eating Better

I always keep the adage of “you are what you eat” in mind.  What ever you put into your body becomes your body.  I will cover topics like eating organic, eating healthy, eating less, and eating higher quality foods.  I’ll also offer tips for food and meals.

Treating Your Body Better

After eating better, exercise is one of the most important things you can do.  I’ll cover weight loss, exercise, cleansing your body, alternative healing methods like acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and herbal therapy.

Treating Others Better

When we strip away all the junk of daily living, we are left with basic human interactions.  I’ll cover topics like getting back to basics and getting more from your relationships.

Treating Animals Better

I have been a vegetarian for 17 years now, and will cover topics of vegetarianism, animal rights, and being aware of how animals are treated.

Treating The World Better

Our world is being abused every day.  We can each do our own small part to help out with the things we chose to buy, the companies we choose to patronize, and working hard to minimize our carbon- and trash- footprints on the earth.

Living Simply and Simply Living

In our day of rush-rush and consumerism, I’ll help to remind you that we all can benefit from simplifying and reducing stress.  I’ll cover tips for getting back to the basics, as well as financial advice.

Inspiration For Living Better

Hopefully all of this will result in small ways to inspire you to live better.  Some times it might be a complete paradigm shift while others might be just a small tip to help get you through the day.  I’m not perfect myself, so I plan on working through some of these myself.  I hope you decide to join me on this journey.