A Month Has Passed…

It’s been exactly one month since I decided to try eating as a vegetarian and I’ve learned a lot. Here are a few things I experienced over the past few weeks.

First and foremost – To be honest, my choice to be try  this whole vegetarian thing was purely selfish. I wanted to be healthier for me. Though I’m sure it has positive affects on the environment, animal rights, and a variety of other things, I didn’t want to make this change scientific, too deep, or some dramatic event with meaningful lessons and all that jazz. Much of those benefits are byproducts of the last month. I admire people who choose to be vegetarian for noble reasons. My journey has no direct connection to nobility.

Secondly, I thought about food so much over the last month, especially at the beginning. What foods would I miss having? Could I really go an entire month without meat? How much salad would I consume in 30 days? My first non-salad, vegetarian meal was a wonderful homemade, spinach and ricotta ravioli topped with pesto. There was also wine (much needed wine).

Thinking about food constantly made me talk about food constantly. I annoyed myself so much (others too I’m sure). All the memes or jokes that say part of being a vegetarian is telling everyone are so much funnier now. It took up so much mental space. I felt like I had to proclaim it to the world, and really only other vegetarians care so you can exchange recipes and secretly/openly judge everyone who is. I didn’t participate in the judging, because all I wanted was Wendy’s chicken nuggets, which, I’m sure, barely qualify as meat anyway.

So what have I discovered from being vegetarian for a month?

  1. There’s more to life than salad. Though I love a good salad, there are so many other foods out there and they are just as delicious, if not more.
  2. Fastfood isn’t very vegetarian friendly, which worked out for me because this choice was health related (I still miss Cheesy Gordita Crunches – shout out to Taco Bell).
  3. Your body responds to different foods in different ways. I have more energy. I feel more focused. I have more clarity. Overall, I feel better.
  4. Food is such a big part of my life. I love cooking, trying new recipes, finding awesome wine pairing with great appetizers, and so much more. I love food and food culture.

Here are some challenges I encountered:

  1. Eating became much more involved – I thought so much more about food. I talked a lot about food. (Sorry if you were around me a lot during the last month.) It took up a lot of mental space.
  2. Cravings. Cravings. Cravings. I wanted a greasy burger for an entire week. Didn’t get one and I’m not really on board with black bean burgers yet. Still kinda want a burger.
  3. I ate a lot of oatmeal. I got so tired of eating the same things. It helped with my creativity in the kitchen. Dealing with this got easier as time went on and I tried new recipes.
  4. Sometimes I wouldn’t have enough protein and I learned the new meaning of HANGRY even though I was having normal portion sizes.

All in all, I’ve learned a lot over the last month and I feel healthier. I haven’t decided if I’ll continue on or not. The journey continues.

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Brew Review: Brew Coffeehouse and Cafe

Lake Michigan is a sight for sore eyes this fall. Early Novembers in Michigan are usually characterized by cold rain, snow, wind… basically cold everything. However, we’ve had a wonderful November with beautiful fall colors, crisp winds, and so much sunshine. Traverse City (TC) this time of year is absolutely beautiful with deep reds, lush greens, and burning oranges. It’s the perfect weather for warm cider, hot coffee, and fall jackets.

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I’m in TC for the weekend. At the recommendation of a few friends, I decided to head downtown to Brew Coffeehouse and Cafe, better known as Brew. I was not disappointed! For a Saturday afternoon, this place was buzzing with conversation, locals stopping by for coffee, and visitors having their first Brew experience; I was included in the latter. Unlike the coffeeshops and cafes in previous reviews, Brew offers a warm feel that is uniquely paired with a high energy staff. This place is enlivening. As far as I can tell, people come for the drinks, the people, and the atmosphere.

Brew is a cafe for everyone – the hipsters, the plain coffee drinkers, the craft beer experts, and the earth-conscious. This opera house turned coffeehouse is a great place to stop in for good food, local art, and great conversation with friendly baristas. Visit Brew Coffeehouse and Cafe when you visit Traverse City in the awe-inspiring Northern Michigan.

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Follow Brew on Instagram: @brew_tc

Follow me on Instagram: @vince_thurman1

Coffee has a Story – Review: The Coffee Room

Much like recent posts, the focus of this one will be a review of a local place. Coffeeshops and cafes have my attention. Each one has a particular story, unique coffee, and a style all its own. The Coffee Room is no different.

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It is elegant and warm, quiet and refined, and their team seeks to provide high quality coffee that has been ethically sourced. There is a story for every cup and passion for every pour. If you’re interested in some quiet time in a quaint downtown cafe, The Coffee Room is for you. It can be found in downtown Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

Not only is the coffee wonderful, but they also have quite a selection of delicious food. I enjoyed the peanut butter, green apple, and strawberry jelly panini. It was the perfect balance of tart and sweet for a late afternoon snack, which paired well with the lavender latte.

Amanda Yats, fellow coffee and travel enthusiast, described the mozzarella, pesto, and tomato panini as mouth-watering. “All of the ingredients on the panini have flavors that really compliment each other.” (@amanda_yats – Twitter). Marry Moore, a graduate student from Ireland, studied while waiting for a bite. She also found the peanut butter, apple, and strawberry jelly panini to be a fantastic choice. (moorem29 – Instagram)

The Coffee Room is an inviting space where you’ll find baristas who are happy to welcome you into their home for a warm cup of coffee or breakfast on Sunday. It is a place where passion rules the day and a commitment to the process really makes all the different. You’ll find good coffee with a story to tell. From pour overs to onsite roasting, The Coffee Room is must visit.

Follow The Coffee Room: @narrativallitycoffee on Instagram

Follow Amanda Yats: @amanda_yats on Twitter

Follow Mary Moore: @moorem29 on Instagram

Office Spotlight – Jeremy Heinlein

Superman is better… for the record, but we both can appreciate The Flash, Star Wars, conversations about community, culture, positive change, and just about anything (including Batman I guess). We also share a passion for Mexican food, sushi, and chicken and waffles. (Not all at the same time – that would be a bit excessive).

Have you heard of Kip Dangerfield (Jeremy’s LAS Competition Day Alter-Ego)? Well I didn’t either until I returned to CMU for grad school. Jeremy is a creative, passionate individual who adds positive energy to any room. If you’ve seen Parks and Rec, Jeremy is a blend of Chris Traeger and Tom Haverford; positive, excited and up for just about anything. In many exchanges over the last year, Jeremy and I have come up with ideas for a Roman-like communication forum to discuss and debate ideas, potato theme restaurants (copyright pending), and intricate future endeavors.

If you know Jeremy, you know you can always count on a positive environment with lots of laughs, movie trailers, and a willingness to help out whenever. Jeremy’s come in the clutch many of times when putting together programs for the Leadership Institute and Special Olympics. Lastly, I admire Jeremy’s admiration for Noelle, his fiancée, and how he treats her. You’re a stand up guy, my friend. So here’s to you, Jeremy and the many adventures to come.

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Jeremy is Executive Assistant in CMU’s Leadership Institute and is completing a Master’s of Art in Communication. He is a young professional seeking to make a positive impact on the world.

An Introvert’s Paradise – The Coffee Shop

The introvert’s paradise can be found in quiet corners, good books, in the sounds of noise canceling headphones that pour out simple, melodic music. It is in the company of others without the obligation to interact, surrounded by clear, non-distracting walls with windows that let just enough light in to feel the sun on your face. The entire place is speckled with small photos or local paintings for sale with just enough greenery to create the feeling of home.

I’ve found refuge in these places all around the world. I seek them out to reenergize, to find peace and quiet, to allow myself to be part of something that is happening without being the focus. Sonder, described as the understanding that everyone is living a life as vivid and interesting as my own, is a beautiful realization. Coffee shops allow me to disappear into the background, to be an extra in someone’s play, and to simply be where I am.

In fact, it is the place in which introverts can be observers, historians of sorts; someone to document what is happening in such a simple, yet meaningful place. Directly in front of me, a friend studying financial analysis with a disdain so evident that she checks her texts every few minutes. A stranger to my left who has tucked herself away from others to study. Walls covered with abstract paintings created by art students. Behind me a photographer editing photos from a wedding. Stock images and cardboard swans sit atop a mantle. White walls brought to life with red couches, brown wooden tables and chairs, and painted doors. It is simple, yet elegant – it is almost poetic. (Not poetic for the sake of poetry, but to feel effortless in its presentation).

A paradise in the sea of an ever-moving life. A simple, stillness created by a shared love of coffee.

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Food and Life – Final Trip Reflection

Until today, I couldn’t find a way to really bring my trip to a close. Writing a final reflection on such a tremendous journey seemed to be a daunting task. So much happened in three short weeks. New friendships were formed. I saw beautiful, natural places. I slowly explored cities and towns. I ate, drank, laughed, talked, woke up early and stayed up late into the night with strangers and friends. I realized that every decision was intentional. I made decisions about what my life would be like each day, but I remained open to how the experiences would unfold.

Today, I used a skill I learned in Certaldo, Italy. I made my own pasta. Luckily, I stayed in at Fattoria Bassetto and they offered a cooking class. It is definitely one of the highlights of my stay. The entire process took about four hours between the preparation and cooking. After that, seven or eight of us (myself, other guests, the owner of the guesthouse and the chef) shared a meal together during dusk. We talked and laughed during the entire meal and enjoyed one another’s company. We worked to prepare something that all of us would share together. What an interesting way to live?

Traveling has helped reveal the best parts of who I am. It’s given me clarity and insight that I could not get in any other way. Together, consistently and patiently, we worked together to achieve something that would benefit the entire group. These subtle, but deeply important, lessons revealed themselves day after day during my travels. Food and cooking was the avenue through which I was able to recognize the importance of working collectively and methodically, but also with heart and care for others in mind.

My trip has shown me the value of intentionally caring for and working alongside others. I’ve known this inherently, but by intentionally embracing this mindset, I will be better able to help others draw out the best in themselves like others did for me. Like a chef who must draw out complex flavors and marry them together in a way that reveals the food’s best features, I will work to bring together people of differing cultures, backgrounds, lifestyles, and histories in order to create a more beautiful, caring, and just world. It is with much gratitude, happiness, and peace that I’ve written this reflection.

Many moments were shared with beautiful, interesting people and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.

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