Monday, November 17, 2014

Where do you get your B-12?

I am Vegan.  This means I do not eat anything which once had a heartbeat or a Mother.  Hardly a day goes by that I am not asked the haunting question most Vegans are confronted with on a regular basis:


My answer is typically in the form of a rhetorical question: "Well, which amino acid are you referring to?" It is a frustrating question for most vegans because this concept has close to zero relevance to our diet. Our entire diet is made up of nutritious, complete, wholesome sources of the nine essential amino acids.  The idea that meat is the one source of "protein" is actually a myth perpetuated by the meat and dairy industry capitalizing on the lack of upper level education on the sources of our nutrients.  I'm here, along with a growing group of people, to dispel myths and break paradigms which have been deeply ingrained in our consciousness.

If we are truly asking where someone "gets their protein" because we care about their health, then, the MOST important question we should be asking vegans and vegetarians is:


What is B-12?  Cobalamin, a B complex molecule, is ESSENTIAL, which means our bodies cannot produce it. We must get it from our diet. This is of concern to Vegans because the source of B12 is red meat, liver, eggs, poultry, shellfish and nutritional yeast. Supplementation is extremely important and cannot be overlooked.

B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that we need to take it daily as it does not remain in our system. It is very rare to have an overdose of B-12. Recent studies showed that 40% of Americans were deficient in B12.

This molecule helps in the development and protection of the Myelin Sheath surrounding your nerve cells. It aids in DNA and red blood cell reproduction. It helps retain memories, transmit cognitive processes, and aids in circulation and metabolism. You can imagine that a deficiency would result in memory loss, dementia, paralysis, nerve damage and many other symptoms which mimic Multiple Sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.

Methylcobalamin is the best source, but cyanocobalamin is also acceptable and the most common form available in stores.

Many individuals choose to self-administer B-12 injections which deliver the vitamin directly into the bloodstream, but you can also use sublingual or powdered forms.

Symptoms of deficiency can include: weakness and fatigue, chest pain, loss of menstruation, numbness or tingling in limbs, memory loss, eventually leading to dementia, paralysis, and even death.  Deficiency of Vitamin B-12 can even simulate more serious diseases like Depression and Multiple Sclerosis!

Please make sure to take your Vitamin B-12 Supplement today!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

RECIPE: Karinna's Vegan Rosemary, Spinach & Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Karinna's Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

14-18 Large White Button Mushrooms
1 package Vegan Veggie Ground Beef Style Crumbles (Boca or Smart Ground/Lightlife Foods)
2 cups fresh Baby Spinach
1/2 cup Vegan Mayonnaise (Vegenaise, or Just Mayo)
1/2 cup Flat Leaf Parsley
1 cup Broccoli, chopped
1 cup Cauliflower, chopped
2 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup white Onion

2 bunches fresh Rosemary, de-stemmed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Earth Balance Vegan Butter

1. Clean mushrooms, remove stems (twist and pull out) and set aside, layer cookie sheet with aluminum foil, place mushrooms face up on the cookie sheet, and preheat oven to 375.
Mushrooms are anti-carcinogenic and full of nutrients!
2. Mince Garlic, chop Onions, Parsley, Green Onions, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Mushroom stems. 
Garlic is a natural antibiotic! 

Cooking the Sausage Mixture:
1. Heat pan, add 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil and saute the Garlic, white Onions, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Mushroom Stems. Add 1 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Butter.
2. Add the vegan ground beef crumbles until browned; season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Turn off heat and let cool.
4. In a medium bowl, add the fresh flat leaf Parsley, Spinach, fresh Green Onions, and cooked sausage mixture. 
5. Add the Vegenaise, mix.

Stuff the Mushrooms:
  • Spoon the Sausage Mixture into the Mushrooms. I like to pile them high!
  • Sprinkle with Daiya Mozzarella Vegan Cheese.
  • Transfer to Oven and bake for 20 minutes.
The Mushrooms will be juicy! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vegan Foodie Adventures: Seabirds Kitchen Costa Mesa, CA

As a mommy of three vegan environmentalists-in-training who love veggies just like me, it's easy for me to find a spot for lunch.  We have our favorites here in Orange County; but today, we chose Seabirds Kitchen at The LAB Anti Mall in Costa Mesa.
Seabirds started as a very popular food truck and recently opened Seabirds Kitchen here in the heart of the OC.  Founder Stephanie Morgan's passion is providing locally sourced veggies and reducing the amount of time from farm to table.  The menu is fresh, light, lean, and revolutionary!  You'll find amazing Grilled Street Corn, Cold Zucchini Noodles, Burnt Brussels Sprouts, Squash Blossoms and a few other items on the small plates menu.  Entrées include a Local's Bowl, Portobello Mole Quesadilla and Tempeh + Shiitakes.  Salads are unique, desserts are delish and even the drinks are one of a kind.  The most impressive menu item for me is the Jackfruit Tacos.  

The Beer Battered fried Avocado tacos are a close second.  But let me just prepare you, Jackfruit is the CARNE ASADA of the Future!  It is no surprise that multi-billionaires are investing in companies which produce meatless meat.  Bill Gates blog, written by Gates himself, says the Future of Food is Vegan.  James Cameron and his wife have invested in a fully plant-based school!  Meat consumption is growing at a dangerously exponential rate and whether you are a Vegan warrior like me, or you just want to make a difference in the world and make an impact, Vegan alternatives are the way to go! 

Jackfruit has taken me by surprise.  I first heard about it from my friend Robert Cheeke, over at Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness, when he posted a photo on his Instagram and Facebook page.  My first experience with Jackfruit was here at Seabirds a few weeks ago for their Taco Tuesday special.  Being the Vegan Foodie that I am, of course I posted a picture of my Taco and all my friends and followers went crazy!  "THAT is Vegan??"  "Now I could eat THAT!"   The texture is absolutely meaty, carne asada-like, and shreds just like meat.  Everyone is different, but although I haven't had a shred of animal flesh in years, I do like some of my foods to have a meaty texture.  This will satisfy that craving for you.

We also ordered the Local Bowl with brown rice, black beans, and delicious Dinosaur Kale, topped with Coconut Bacon. YES BACON!!
Double Trouble

Overall, Seabirds is awesome and I hope you will visit.  The Lab is a semi-outdoor shopping center labeled an "Anti-Mall."  Complete with a Buffalo Exchange, Urban Outfitters, and the eclectic and unique Habana restaurant on one end, The Lab is a fun destination where you can dine and find some interesting clothes, accessories, vinyl, and collectibles.

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions on the Vegan Plant-Based Lifestyle.  I offer a Free 30 Day Coaching Challenge!  Sign up for my mailing list here!



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Breakfast: Sweet or Savory?

We all have a preference; sugar and sweetness, or salty spiciness.  How do you kick start your day? 

Most of the foods you already eat are plant-based or can easily be made vegan.  The key is to get comfortable with alternatives and get ready to add explosively delicious flavor to your dishes!
  Here is a list of some easy to make breakfast ideas from my vegan cookbook!

Sweet Breakfast Ideas:
~Vegan Banana Waffles 
~Oatmeal with Almond Milk and Fresh Berries
~Toasted Bagel with Daiya Strawberry "Cream Cheese" Spread
~Homemade Vegan Granola with Rice Milk
~Cinnamon-Agave Bulghur & Oats with Fresh Fruit

Savory Breakfast Ideas:
~Kale and Mushroom Tofu Scramble
~Soyrizo and Black Bean Burrito
~Roasted Baby Potatoes with Tempeh Bacon
~Veggie Stuffed Tofu Omelette
~Organic Tomatillo Salsa
~Avocado Smoothie
~Spicy Chilaquiles

Leave me a comment below if you have a specific question on cooking Vegan.  I love your feedback!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Karinna's High Protein Post-Workout Salad Recipe

When I first went Vegan in 2007, I had to break down some of my paradigms.  The word protein was synonymous with meat.  I had to unlearn a lot of myths that I had learned since childhood.   Now, I see food for the nutrient content.  It is quite easy to construct a well-balanced, healthy meal once you realize that everything you need can be found in plant sources without the saturated fat and chemicals found in the typical American diet.  

"But Organic food is expensive."  
Actually, heart disease, diabetes, and organ failure can be even more expensive.

Exercise and eating clean are habits we need in order to live a long and healthy life.  After a rigorous workout, I need some carbs and a good amount of lean protein to recover.

Karinna's High Protein Post Workout Salad

In a large bowl, mix together these power foods!

Pinto Beans
Butter Beans
SpicyTomatillo Salsa

I almost never use salad dressing; substitute salsa instead.
Use black beans, garbanzo beans, or any other legume you prefer. 
Add red onion, mushrooms, carrots for a heartier meal.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Karinna's 30-day Vegan Challenge!

The CHALLENGE begins August 1st!!

In 2007, I made a lifestyle shift that changed my life!  I chose to eliminate all processed, unhealthy, animal-based foods from my diet permanently!  My energy level soared; I slowed down the effects of aging which showed in my skin, hair, stamina, endurance, and figure; I cleansed out my system and removed harmful toxins, I regulated my organs and reached optimum health within a year; I shocked my doctors and my friends who saw me at my heaviest weight after carrying and giving birth to 3 children within 23 months and losing all extra weight 4 months after having the twins!  Soon after going 100% plant-powered, I became inspired to help others and started a little blog called Verdelicious ("Green and Delicious") and hosted meetups to promote healthy eating and eco-friendly living.

Back then, there were ZERO mainstream vegan restaurants, very few blogs, and NO vegan food sections in the grocery store.  I made everything from scratch from whole foods and farmers market ingredients.

Now, 7 years later, going Vegan is HOT.  Vegan restaurants are easily accessible and Vegan foods are even available in your supermarket and warehouse store!  Even Bill Gates is investing in "Meatless Meat!" by supporting the company Beyond Meat. Celebrities everywhere are taking Vegan Challenges to see how living and eating "CLEAN" can make them feel.  Oprah, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Samuel L Jackson, Ellen, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Clinton...all examples of influencers who have gone fully vegan or took the vegan challenge.  Do you want to perform at your FULLEST potential?  I believe it takes at least one month to see results and regulate your GI tract, get over the cravings, cleanse your palate, and start to feel the energy surge.

I'm launching a 30-day challenge in August to help you incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet.  You don't need to commit to a lifetime of giving up your healthy seafood or cage-free eggs, or free-range meats...simply commit to 30 days of PURITY and clean eating for YOU, for your community, local economy, and for the planet.  Going Vegan even a few days a week brings a circle of compassion around you and impacts all of these things.

Vegan is not a diet, Vegan is a lifestyle of peace, compassion, and health.   For those of you truly considering making the transition for life, going vegan also means you care for the planet around you and make choices that help your local economy and don't harm the environment,

Sign up today by joining my email list! or

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Karinna's AR Interview for vGirls|vGuys

Photography by Melissa Schwartz, Schwartz Studios for vGirls|vGuys Project

Recently, Melissa Schwartz of Schwartzstudios interviewed me for her vGirls|vGuys project to bring attention to our Vegan / Animal Rights movement.  She's by far one of the most talented photographers in West LA area, and also happens to be as passionate about our Vegan, Plant-based Lifestyle as me!  There will be more from the photoshoot to come.  Below is the interview which gives a little insight into my passion and what drives me to share my experiences with everyone I meet.  I don't subscribe to diet fads, nor do I like to put labels on my lifestyle.  The simple fact is:  I care about my body, I care about animals, I care about humanity, and I care about the Earth; therefore I consume only nutrients from plant-based sources which do not harm or endanger our fellow earthlings.  

vGirl: Karinna Zarate

SS: What made you go vegan and why?

KZ: Throughout my childhood, I always loved little creatures; from bugs to pigs, flying birds to crawling sea creatures. I was absolutely mystified by the intricacies of animal features, their personalities, and behaviors. I felt very connected spiritually to animal friends. I was raised in a loving, close-knit, and supportive family and was taught compassion and kindness from a young age. I fostered and adopted rescued animals, I advocated against puppy mills and irresponsible breeders throughout college, I even wrote essays on the horrific pet food industry; but I didn't question my diet until I had my own children. In 2007, when my twin daughters were newborn, I started to develop a rash on my arms and legs out of no where. I had been drinking what seemed like gallons of whole "organic" milk postpartum. Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong and it wasn't until I stopped drinking the milk that I realized there was something very toxic in that substance. I gave up milk products after all my research into the terrible conditions cows have to go through and the sadness of the veal industry. In the next few days, fate would lead me to the film: "I am an Animal," the story of Ingrid Newkirk of PeTA. The very moment the movie was over, in tears, I went to my kitchen and got rid of everything that was not plant-based. I made a PROMISE that night to myself and my 3 children lying asleep, safe in their rooms, that I would never ever consume, wear, use, or purchase any product that contributes to the suffering of sentient creatures. Those images of the poor little animals suffering the fear and pain of death, the videos (taken undercover because NO ONE wants you to see the TRUTH) changed my life forever.

In order to make a positive change in your life, you have to really feel it deep inside. You need to see the truth and not hide from it. Throughout the years, I have become so used to the attacks on my lifestyle, style choices, my vehement convictions, my diet -- but there is nothing that will ever make me go back or accept the suffering of animals as a way of life. I want all my friends and acquaintances to see that it is not only possible to be 100% plant-built, it is the optimal way of life for our bodies, for our health and longevityand for the energy of the world to end the hatred and violence and evolve to a more peaceful state. 

SS: Has it been difficult for you? If yes what was difficult and did it get easier?

KZ: After I made the decision to go Vegan overnight, my true strength shined through -- the only thing that was difficult was that I had to do quite a bit of research and dig back into my nutrition texts from college. I realized that I had animal products or by-products at every single meal. You definitely have to shift your entire mindset. I had to first define pure veganism, then identify every ingredient in a food product to make sure it had no meat, egg, fish, honey, gelatin, casein, milk, whey, etc. Once I found my favorite brands of certified vegan foods, this became easier. I also found that cooking for my family was easier now, as the most important ingredients come from the Farmer's Market or Produce Aisle in the store! I didn't use too many processed vegan foods -- just good wholesome legumes, nuts, grains, greens, and fruits. Another challenging aspect is the criticism you receive; for some reason,some people instantly get defensive when you say you're vegan, as if taking my lifestyle choice as an attack on theirs. I refuse to allow ignorance on the subject to create a divide between my non-vegan friends and I. I have always been great at bringing people together from all walks of life and I plan to continue to do that in a kind, compassionate way. Finding new foods has definitely gotten easier! There are so many amazing products out there. I think it is sad when a person gives up and goes back to eating and wearing animals. There is no reason to go back on our natural evolution.

SS: What are some animal rights related things that you participate in?

KZ: I am very active in my community and I continue to support charities and organizations that advocate the proper treatment of animals. I have a very wide scope and reach in the way I view the impact of Veganism--from the individual to the environment of the entire planet. I believe that the support of healthy plant-based eating, engaging people looking to lose weight, being involved with healthcare agencies in the communities impacted by diabetes and obesity, and the support of local farms as opposed to distant factory farms -- will all help to stop the inhumane treatment of animals. I've planned events for several charities, animal healthcare drives, and I strongly advocate fostering and rescuing animals. I was fortunate to be involved in a large scale event which took place at Seth MacFarlane's home in Hollywood Hills which benefitted his mother's foundation: Perry's Place/Heavenly Pets. I am always looking for new events to be a part of! I organize events for Food Day, and PCRM. I regularly attend tradeshows and seminars to discover specialty food products that are all vegan and therefore contributing to our animal rights movement. I only support companies that are green, sustainable, environmentally friendly and never test on animals.

SS: What are your favorite animal rights organizations?

KZ: First of all, the organization that made me go vegan: PeTA!!! I also really love Mercy for Animals for their hard work, research, undercover operations, and informative articles. The ASPCA is a great organization helping link foster parents to animal companions and ensuring animals are not needlessly euthanized for lack of space or funding. There are so many to mention! I'm very involved in the scientific side of the animal rights movement which doesn't focus so much on the animal suffering aspect, but the positive benefits of eliminating animal products from our diets and lifestyles as well as the environmental toll of the animal products industries. Notably, two organizations: - Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Non-GMO project.

SS: What would you say to somebody who is considering going vegan?

KZ: Going Vegan will literally change your life. Your improved skin complexion, your shinier hair, your brighter smile, your inner glow -- those are just the selfish ways you will benefit. You will be around longer and healthier with your kids, your grandkids, your spouse and loved ones! Do not be discouraged if you try and find it too challenging. Just go fully vegan and never go back. Doctors even may tell you, you need the Proteins or Omega-3's or Iron or Vitamin B-12 in meat products, but do not allow that to stop you. There are plant-based sources of all of those nutrients and there is no reason to give up on yourself!

SS: Do you have any memories that stand out in your mind about someone saving an animal? Or relating to an animal in a unique way?

KZ: I have so many beautiful memories of animals that it is hard to believe I wasn't vegan all my life. I've always had a strong connection to animals and I considered my first child to be my little Chihuahua Chiquita. She brightened my life for 8 years. I remember saving crabs on the beaches of Mexico as a child, wondering why people would fish just to throw them back in the water, injured. I remember crying once when a friend of mine ran over a little squirrel in the road while i was a passenger in the car. I remember seeing my little "nephew" Majik as a baby puppy outside a store one day 12 years ago. I couldn't allow the woman to give him away to just anyone. So, since my parents wouldn't let me keep another doggie, I gave him to my sister Karime and her newlywed husband. Majik is still in the family today and he has had a loving amazing life! Animals have always been a part of my life and I truly hope that the work that I do in this world will help to save as many animals as possible before I'm gone


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