My Beloved Taiwan

My wife and I always joke about my ever dream plan to retire in Taiwan. Why you ask? Its the people. The land. The culture. The life. But most importantly the people. If I were ever to design a utopia or describe how a society should be. The Taiwanese people are it. I can’t say how much I love that country. Yes I picked taiwan even over Cambodia.

My wife then argues how will friends and family ever visit. I say a plane. What if they can’t travel. I said then they can facetime us. Cheeky. I really feel at home and at peace. The people are so kind, the food is so delicious, there is great culture and scenery all over. How many places in htis world where you can travel not have to worry about your safety, well-being, your food being fresh, someone not looking to steal from you, somebody not looking to undercut you. Where in the society you can trust a random stranger almost as family or close friend. I wouldn’t say that for the most developed or modern places. Even in the USA, competition is fierce, poverty is high, your neighbor can despise you.

And so we visited last March again. This time bringing my son. Oh it was a wonderful 24 hours of plane rides and diaper changing and changing sleep times. Henry’s sleep time was from 1pm – midnight, then his nap time was from 3am-5am. Luckily its a city that ALMOSt near sleeps and plenty of places to eat in wee hours of night.

We were able to visit the Zoo which Henry loved so much. He was able to gaze and listen to the sounds of the animals. Never have I seen zoo animals been so active in my life. They typically look like they have given up on life. He very thankfully enjoyed his time so much there. Ate a ton. And hopefully learned some Mandarin while there.

Our one main stopping point was a EXTREMELY DELICIOUS AND AWESOME Vegetarian buffet while we were there. I hate to say I can’t remember the name or location (will have my wife do some digging). But it was the most delicious food I have ever eaten. We’re not talking a good meal. A delicious meal on every front. They have dumplings and noodle dishes. Stations for everything. All sorts of juices and ciders for health. Fake sushi meat. Deep fried mushrooms. And countless other dishes that I do not know what it was or name. Just know it was a taste bud explosion.

It was hidden under a very big building on some abstract street. But to my great surprise, it was JAM PACKED. It seemed like it was everyones last meal. Buffet style restaurant. Everybody was eating up a storm. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever seen in my vegetarian life. That a vegetarian restaurant could gain so much fan fare. Why? cuz its good! People don’t care if its meat or not. As long as it taste good as I say. And this place is it. If its good people will come. It would just so happen this place is in taipei. It wasn’t some unique or speciality place where you are vegetarian or life some lifestyle that you eat here. No its an every woman and man who wants to eat a good meal and enjoy their day.

I can’t wait to retire in Taiwan. Or just maybe go back every year. ūüôā

Animals Rights March

I wanted to share a video by fellow Instagram friend bellepericho. She attended the Animals Right March in New York City 9/2/17. I think its important to show how there are thousands of people who have the same mind and heart to fight for animals. We are not alone. There is a movement coming. Society just hasn’t been ready for it yet. These people have the courage to fight for what they believe and make a change in the world. Animals are our friends not our dinner. The main point being now, we have a choice. The fate of animals are in our hands and our choice can determine the outcome. How we treat them for food or our pets is fated by us, it is no longer a need. It warms my heart to see how strong and compassionate more and more people are becoming. Just sit think about it people, have a talk, it will come to you.

 


**Copyright bellepericho 2017**

Oh “That Alex Ciccone”

Instagram has been a wonderful way to spread the message of veganism and vegetarianism but especially learn from others. You have people coming together and being passionate about helping animals, saving the earth or to be healtheir through this lifestyle. It can help inspire others to do better or improve their lives. But one person stood out above the rest to me in this great message we want to share.

The wonderful Alex Ciccone. I was just randomly going through Instagram one night and stumbled upon his account. He was able to be funny, helpful, compassionate and most of all very understanding of the issue. He wanted to share what he has learned and helped others maybe change their mind and take a look at themselves. Its a wealth of information you might not have even thought about and can open your mind. And best of all, he’s a great character.

One aspect of veganism and vegetarianism in particular is always of interest to me. And that is the physical and tough nature that comes along with “eating meat”. That by changing your lifestyle into one where meat is no longer involved, a picture is painted that someone is weak or “sissy”. I want to break that mold and Alex has surely been a model in terms of breaking the barrier and myths surrounding it. He was so kindly enough to take the time out of his busy schedule and answer some questions that often plagues weightlifting and veganism.

1)     How was becoming vegan benefited your weightlifting? 

The biggest benefit in becoming vegan as it pertains to my weightlifting was the influx of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) through means of eating only plant-based foods. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and even processed foods provided me much more bang for my buck micronutrient wise per calorie compared to my old omnivourous eating habits. This allowed for quicker recovery and more energy to perform well during my training sessions.¬†What challenges did you have? If I’m going to be completely honest, there were minimal challenges in the transition. Since I followed a calorie counting approach and I was well aware of my carbohydrate, protein and fat (as well as micronutrient and fibre) intake requirements, it was a simple switch to plant-based foods to meet those calorie counting targets to continue to realize my goals. Once I found my favourite plant-based foods in order to allow me to reach those targets, it was smooth sailing.¬†

2)     What feedback have you received good or bad being a vegan weightlifter? (Are people interested/intrigued? Look down at you, think its ridiculous or not healthy? Etc)

Since I have been training for a number of years now and my performance in the gym is at an advanced level, I would have to say that the reaction to me being vegan is more of one of intrigue and interest. I still get the typical questions of “What do you even eat?!” and “How do you get your protein?” but this is expected with anything in life that may be considered foreign. I take this as an opportunity to have some fantastic dialogue on how anyone can incorporate more plant-based sources in their diet to realize performance related or non-performance related goals, vegan or non-vegan.

3)     Can you please comment on your experiences on the misconception of people thinking can only get enough protein only from meat? 

Protein has been synonymous with animal-based foods for a long time… marketing and word of mouth has allowed this to be true. So it’s not a surprise by any means, but that is why it is up to individuals who have the nutrition knowledge, vegan or non-vegan to let the masses know that this is not the only place you can get your protein. All plants have protein, yes to varying degress, but animal based sources also operate the same way.¬†What tis your favorite protein sources? Going to sound cliche but ALL plants… they all have protein and I enjoy eating all sources from vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and processed foods. But if I had to choose higher protein count sources I would have to go with… Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Faux-Meats and Protein powder (Pea is my fave of the choices available).

4)     Do you see more weightlifters becoming vegan/vegetarian in the future? Do you think this trend is gaining? 

No doubt in my mind. There are so much value in becoming vegan that no matter who you speak to, I am sure that individually someone can see themselves being able to live the lifestyle for one or more reasons. Once individuals get past the potential challenges or barriers that may be in their way about the lifestyle, it is smooth sailing. That is where spreading awareness and educating individuals on how you can achieve your performance and/or body composition related goals as a vegan is incredibly important. There are many in the fitness space doing this on a daily basis and the community has been growing at an accelerated rate. Upwards and onwards! ¬†What is your message to all non-vegan weightlifters in general on becoming vegan. If you have any fears about becoming vegan and not being able to realize your performance or body composition related goals I would encourage you to set them aside and take a look at the numerous amount of very successful vegan athletes in the space today. At this point in time there are so many excelling that it’s hard to even count. It is 100% possible if you want it. Any change in life can seem a bit daunting at first¬†but just remember that¬†everything great in life takes time and hard work. Treat it as an ever evolving journey of learning and understanding, no need to be perfect.

5)     You mentioned in your blog, your biggest reason to being vegan is your love for animals. Can you share how that began and what connection you feel to animals?

I do feel the very first glimpse was as a very young child when my parents asked me to eat a traditional meal of rabbit. It made no sense whatsoever to me. Why would we kill and eat a cute and fluffy bunny? Each time the dish would be served it was an emphatic, ‚ÄúNo! A bunny is not food!‚ÄĚ

My bond with animals has been very strong for as long as I can remember. I grew up with dogs, fish, birds and even lizards. Although today I disagree with the domestication of certain species of animals, these experiences throughout my childhood were invaluable. Each and every moment with these animal friends taught me about their extreme loyalty, intelligence and unconditional love. Life lessons that were imprinted upon me, humanizing these amazing creatures. Not to mention that I had an affinity for animated movies starring animals, such as 101 Dalmatians, Lion King, Rescuers, All Dogs Go To Heaven and Land Before Time. These significant influential experiences primed me for my transition to veganism later in life. 

There came a point in time ¬†in my 20’s when I was ready to open myself up to the realities of animal agriculture and once seeing and hearing about what was happening behind closed doors it solidified my transition. I could no longer consume anything from beings that were my friends, whom I love and respected.

6)     What are your thoughts on the current disconnect between animals and people? (We love dogs and cats but eat chickens, cows, pigs, odd isn’t it…

I don’t think it’s odd at all. It makes perfect sense… cognitive dissonance is a very real thing and I feel that even the kindest of individuals can go about their day without truly realizing the ramifications of some of their decisions. Eating animals and/or animal byproducts has become so entrenched or routine that it is a societal norm accepted as typical day-to-day.¬†

On the brightside these societal norms can indeed change, they are not permanent. I am optimistic that with this tech era that we are in… the ability for information to proliferate at accelarated rates will indeed allow the vegan message of animal rights to be seen and heard. It will take time but I have faith that a vegan world is closer than many think it is. The standpoints are airtight, not only for the ethical treatment of animals, but also for our personal health and the health of our environment. ¬†

7)¬†“Where can people find you?”

I encourage anyone reading this that if you need any kind of support or inspiration about a vegan lifestyle to please feel free to reach out. I am always open and willing to help no matter who it is. We are all in this together and no question is ever too big or small. In saying that please feel free to follow and find me at the following…

Website: www.thatalexciccone.com
Instagram: @thatalexciccone

Facebook: facebook.com/thatalexciccone
Snapchat: thatalexciccone

Twitter: @thatalexciccone

**** Photo credit to @worldofvegan ****

Got Milk….? No I Don’t. Its Cruel And Unhealthy.

Milk milk, need it for strong bones right? No. Need it to grow big and tall right? No. Lots of myths around milk. People think its harmless to drink and get. Little do people know the realities of how we get milk. Its a shocker. It isn’t worth it. Get your protein and calcium from somewhere else. An animal doesn’t need to live a miserable life so you can have some milk to eat with your breakfast.

I post a video by Samantha in Honk Kong who has done some extraordinary work for veganism and animal compassion. By following her instagram, you can tell shes smart, shes bold, and she has the courage to make a change. Please share the shocking truth behind that milk mustache you have and that we don’t need it anymore. I fully applaud her and her work. Watch her video and learn. Educate yourself and spread awareness.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq9rSNjQ44ujcJ3uP-RWCWA
Instagram: http://instagram.com/oneheartillustration

 

Happy Anniversary!

Sorry wife, its not our wedding anniversary. Its not our first date anniversary. Its not any anniversary between us, not even our child. But its a two year anniversary of me becoming vegetarian! It seems so distant and so long ago. Its hard for me to grasp that I made such a big and happy change for my life. If anything I wish I started much much earlier.

It was nearly two years ago did my wife and I watch the Cowspiracy documentary. And even though I was in the environmental field for so many years. I knew of these atrocities and horrors that happen. Until I watched it and had many long hours of discussion with my wife. I just realized something was wrong with me on the core. I needed to make a change and I needed to do what was right. I felt it was more of calling than anything and this was the easiest and best way to help.

I always said, I wanted to become a veterinarian as a child to help animals. I wanted to become environmental science major to help animals from deforestation. So guess what, I CAN and AM helping the animals but never eating meat or getting animal products from irresponsibility raised or treated farm animals. I can fulfill my career goals, have a greater appreciation of life, and be much happier morally as a person by becoming vegetarian/vegan. I ask that others just to sit and think about it. To discuss it. And to reach this new understanding.

Petco Update!

Try…. try… and try… again! Was it that hard no. I would think it would be. Go through endless phone calls and a large web of people unable to help. It was more simple than that. It took some time but I was able to do it. I can finally say I have actually accomplished something.

I contacted Petco about a month ago in hopes of getting the “Think Adoption First” poster at another location that did not have it. It was concerning to me to see the sign at one Petco store and then another one nearby not have it. Why not? Its a great message and it should be at all the stores.

Well Petco met the request with ease, friendliness and utmost professionalism. It started with customer service online and they were able to reach out to upper management to fulfill the request. And now the District Manager contacted me saying he will put the sign at the store. So great! VERY HAPPY, VERY GOOD WEEKEND! Thank you Petco. Will look for the new signage at the Annandale, VA petco.

I’m Freeeee… *Ribbit* *Ribbit*

AMITUOFUO

My mother in law took my wife and I to a Taiwanese Buddhist Temple in Rockville, Maryland a few times over the past year. She likes to attend to remind us of the values we hold and to practice peace and serenity. Even though I am Cambodian and can’t understand a single word they are saying during the chants; their is a calming and tranquil feeling during the sessions. I feel it is good to attend to just be more at peace rather than any religious undertone.

This past Sunday, my mother in law invited us with a new addition, HENRY!, to come with them to release some animals. Last year, they released some turtles and now some frogs. Sounds dumb huh. Sounds ridiculous huh. Well its not. Its a very kind gesture to life and to remind you how precious it can be.

IMG_3101

 

PLAN AND RESCUE

We drove up to Rockville to visit the Great Wall supermarket. A typical asian grocery store but one stark difference, they sell turtles and frogs. There was a moderately size container with a billion frogs it seems in it. Frogs were stuffed to the brim all squished one right on top of each other, shoulder to shoulder would be an understatement!

So along with other members from the temple, it was time to save! What did we all do, we bought the whole container full of frogs! It had to literally be over 100 frogs. Wow what some lucky frogs. Not save some but save them all!

It was really funny when another Chinese couple came up to try to buy a couple frogs. My mother in law said sorry, they are all bought. They said, we just want a couple. MIL said sorry all bought. We stepped away for a second to deal with the employee to get the frogs. The Chinese couple then AGAIN tried to buy some frogs. Then all as a group we had to step in and butt them out to say they are all TAKEN. They just aid why can’t we have a couple haha. Sorry, we out to save animals not kill them.

All 100+ frogs were transferred to 6 large buckets. They were hopping in and out. Constantly had to grab and place in a bucket. All the other Great Wall customers¬†thought we were having a feast…sike.

IMG_3111

RELEASE!

We drove to a Great Falls Park and trekked to a very secluded part of the river. We poured all the frogs into the water and let them go free. We watched them swim away, some looked confused, some wanted to explore, some stared at us. We prayed for them and wish them well from our hearts. We hope they go on to live a free life.

Whats to take away from this. It really showed how crazy life can be. In one sec, they are tonights dinner, but in another, they are saved and free. A simple thought and kind heart, can save so many lives. Its not so hard. It is sad to know they know very little what is going on, why they are in a bucket with 1000 others crammed. What is their purpose? What were they bred for? All for nothing? But now they are free to live and are given a fighting chance to survive. It shows us, they little do they know, live is so precious. That eating them and killing them is just sometimes so cruel. If all people could see an action like this and be more aware. They just might be touched in the heart and have a better understanding of live in general. Its not just some meal. There is a purpose. To enjoy and appreciate life as it is.

The Fight Within

My journey as a vegetarian is ever evolving over the past couple years. There are dozens of scenarios that have come my way which make me think and debate on what I’m doing and what I’m trying to accomplish. I have admitted in the past I do eat meat with family occasionally. To refuse food from a family member or in law is very disrespectful in asian culture. And that remains powerful in my decisions today. Though it is very limited and accounts for very little of my diet, I’m often at conflict if my stance should change.

I use to think that some leftover meat being thrown away is terrible and that I would rather eat it and give some sort of purpose to this animal. Rather than it be thrown away and died for nothing. To have died to only be put in a trash can is just depressing to me. No, none of this is an excuse or lying to myself to eat meat. If i felt the need, I would do it

Other times, I do not want to get into a debate or make others feel bad to eat meat. So i just eat it anyway. TO just let people enjoy and not make this some vegetarian agenda. I’m starting to rethink it now. What am I doing and do I hold my morals through. Do I accomplish what I seek by giving in from time to time. I use to say the animal is dead no, lets not waste it. But for me to get my point across and care for animals, the animal would still have died. So my actions will not matter either way. But if do not eat meat at all and let it go, i still hold morals and can shocase others that it is strong .

I know some might baffle that I eat meat sometimes. But I still sa hey better than nothing. Better than me being a 90% or 50% meat eater. But I’m starting to think how I portray myself to others and if I do find resolve to never eating meat, how can others change? Do people look down at me for making exceptions.

I’m starting to think that exceptions are not good. Whatever the scenario. You can take it else for another other goal or mission. Exceptions don’t help my cause to help animals. By me not succumbing to exceptions, that shows my beliefs are strong and that will showcase to others. There is no debate what I want and what my mission is. That there is no discussion on what truly matters but that animals need to be saved and are our friends. Maybe I just need to put my foot down with whomever ad wherever that NO I don’t care for meat at all.

A Whole New World

Exciting news everyone. My future heir has arrived! My wonderful boy Henry has come to this world. My wife is a SUPER FREAKIN TROOPER for everything! You want to talk about pain, talk about suffering, talk about will, talk about fight. She did it all and overcome it. She pulled through so wonderfully and I’m so proud of her! I couldn’t be more happy with everything. I hope to support her in every way possible and take as much responsibility as I can. When you push another human out of you, you need to be treated well. Any person that says child labor is not tough or being a mother is not that hard, I just don’t believe it after this past week.

And that brings me to another thing. How vegan/vegetarian should a child be? My wife and I separately watched “What The Health” while we were in the hospital. It raises questions and concerns my wife and I already discussed. How good is dairy for you? Is it even meant for us? What is behind it? Everything you read and hear is to give milk and protein to a baby. Now its how much do they actually need and even more pressing is it even good for them? I’m glad the documentary was presented in a way to give facts to the viewer. Some vegan and animal loving agenda was not pressed. That would make some big backlash. Give people the truth and let them decide on their own. Hopefully they can see there is much more to the picture than meets the eye.

But now its my turn, is it possible for my child to be vegan? My wife and I for sure want to cut out cows milk, we don’t think its necessary. Other diary products as well we want to cut out. But how much do we know, how much research is out there? How many kids are vegan these days and what are the positives are negatives. As much as I love animals, is my own childs health worth the risk?

We are breaking hundreds of years of tradition and culture when it comes to meals and feeding. No meat, no diary, its a new concept. Even in Europe, I heard cases where parents are thrown in jail when they try to make a vegan lifestyle for their child. Is it that bad? It makes me think about the world I want to bring my child in. What values should he have? What view of the animal world should he have. Do I impress this on him or do the standard and let him decide on his own? I want a better and brighter future for him. I want a world where all life is valued and a healthier world. We got to break the mold and I think its starting. I’m happy documentaries like this are being done, it all starts with education.

We need to take it a step further by guiding more after people have learned these facts and come to a realization. So yes meat and dairy is bad. So what now. I literally thought about. A typical meal for a typical american. Milk is bad for you, eggs are bad, bread is typically white and is bad, bacon is bad, even cheese is bad, yogurt is not even that beneficial, So what are you suppose to eat now? The vegetarian and vegan community are doing a great job in sharing how to change. I hope the public can make the energy and effort to make the changes necessary even if difficult.

Its 2am, I want to be normal and not stop the momentum. Even with my baby here, I need to continue to work hard. The movement can’t not take a break. Everyday counts and the animals need our help.

The Climb In Life

For the past month, I’ve really had time to start sitting and reflect on things. Bathroom remodel is done, organizing the whole house is done, cleaning the whole house done, getting the yard to look nice is done. But a more pressing matter is coming my way. One that will flip my world upside down and cause it crash into a brick wall. But that crash will happen with a smile.

My sweet boy will be arriving in a couple months. This future I have been trying to shape for myself and animals out there will now be shared with the arrival of my son, Henry. I’m happy, nervous, agitated, stressed, elated all at the same time. I can’t wait for him to come. But like how I devote my time now to make my wife happy. My full attention and time will be for my son. Its just life. Time is always managed and too short. And now my time for the cause is even shorter. I will probably be incoherent, pale, and exhausted for the six months after his birth.

I think about my progress and what I have done. I try things here and there. I learned that I can’t go full steam all the time and I burn out. Progress is made little by little. Which I have done but maybe I’m disappointed in myself since I don’t have much to show for it. My life and my wife’s have changed significantly for the better with the drastic low amount of meat we eat and any animal products we buy from respected companies. But my point in all this was to make a difference outside of my own world. And even though its really hard, I know it will be nearly impossible to keep pushing after a child. I have to love my family and make sure everything is provided in the best way possible for them. They are my #1 concern and nothing else. But it begs me to think where does that leave the animals. They will continue to suffer everyday by the millions. One soldier is temporarily leaving the battle.

It makes me think about Congressmen Connolly making a speech to environmental advocates saying they need to be more proactive and ruthless. That to get the message out there, it needs to be out like the old days and having to walk door to door and talk to people. And I think who has time for that? And the average person who cares about animals or environment doesn’t come from a background of bravado to make impact. Wheres the money or backing to do so?¬†My letters have gone unnoticed and I start to think whether to keep writing. Is anybody hearing my message? Is anybody making a change? Is anybody thinking about it all. This is just a mental break and I hope to keep this going. The fight still needs to continue.

I started My Dear Layla with a vision and promise. I’m still keeping¬†that promise. ¬†the vision and passion is still strong and alive.