News

Hi all,

Sorry it’s been so long.

I’ve been reading a lot about vegan/food/animal/media things as I’m crafting my thesis.  I’ll be sharing some of that stuff as it comes together.

But until then, here’s some interesting things to ponder.

  • What’s my first instinct when a bird flies into my window?  Not to eat it that’s for sure; but that’s what this guy in Texas did.
  • Do you ever wish that you could marry food?  Well cookies and chai married each other in this new recipe from Post Punk Kitchen; I’ve probably made them four times now since the recipe was posted two weeks ago.  They’re pretty much the pinnacle of cookie perfection.
  • Ever wanted to get a text message from a cow’s vagina?  Nope.  Me neither.  But this farmer in Switzerland thought it would be a good idea.
  • None of my grandparents were vegetarian, or Buddhist for that matter, but this guy chose to honor his grandmother by being vegetarian for a month.
  • Ever wonder what sort of progress is being made in animal law?  Well the Humane Society wrote this handy little piece about the 10 most important state laws made for animals in 2012 so far.
  • Whether you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably apologized to someone at some point for your diet, because it was either making them uncomfortable or because it was an inconvenience at a dinner party.  Well maybe it’s time we stopped apologizing for our compassion.

And if all this doesn’t satisfy your desire for veggie/animal/weird news, you can check out my Tumblr for more vegan musings, as well as nerd-tastic posts, and ubiquitous pictures of cute animals.

 

Double Standard: Health

Vegetarians and vegans are used to being the brunt of many jokes and criticisms around the dinner table.

But what upsets me the most is the double standard that people hold, especially when it comes to health.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say some variation of the following, “I don’t care if you are vegetarian or vegan, but  you should learn about nutrition so you stay healthy.”

I always want to respond with: Well, duh!  Everyone should have some basic knowledge of nutrition; not just vegetarians and vegans!

Why aren’t you concerned about everyone’s health?  Why specifically mine?  If you’re so concerned about people’s health, why don’t you go support school lunch reform, or nutrition label reform, or start a petition to require nutrition classes in public school?

I realize that this misguided concern people have about vegetarian and vegan diets is a product of a cultural and historical bias towards a meat eating diet– rather than any substantive study of vegan diets that shows that they aren’t healthy.  The ideas that most people in the U.S. have about nutrition come from ads, family doctors, and parents.  Few people have actually studied or taken classes about nutrition.

Of course, I’d rather have people be concerned about my health, and at least acknowledge that a vegan diet can be healthy, rather than just automatically assuming that it’s impossible to be healthy and vegan.

And sure, you can be an unhealthy vegan; but you can be an unhealthy anything!  And in my experience vegans and vegetarians are more conscious about the source and nutrition content of their food than most people.

So be careful what you say to vegans about their health.

They probably know more than you do.

That concludes my rant for the day.

If you want to know more about being vegan– or just about being healthy– look up Dean Ornish, John Robbins, or T. Colin Campbell.

Summer catch up

Hello dear readers,

Sorry for abandoning you all summer, but I have good reasons, I promise!

I hope you survived without my magnificent insights and ramblings.

After we finally made it to Boise things got a little hectic, as you might imagine.  Probably no one will be surprised to learn that the remodeling was running behind schedule and so we were forced to stay in a hotel.

This put a damper on things because I had been expecting to hit the ground running, whipping up amazing vegan meals using only ingredients from the farmer’s market and co-op.  However, this was not to be.  Maybe next summer I will have a chance to make every recipe in The Veganomicon?  And then they will make a movie about me, ala Julie and Julia!  Except without all the icky lobster killing.

Anyway when the remodeling was finally complete, I had left for my summer job.  The past two years (now three) I have spent two months of my summer in Alaska, working as a deckhand on a small ecotourism boat out of Glacier Bay National Park.  We (myself and four other crew members) take up to 12 passengers kayaking and hiking for six days up and down the bay.  I spend most of my time in the galley helping the chef prep food, or running around the boat doing general cleaning.  Occasionally I get to join in on the hikes and kayaks, taking pleasure in the pathless woods and a rapture in the lonely shore (Lord Byron’s words, not mine).

All the fresh air and salt spray was inspirational, however there is no cell service or internet connection for those six days; and thus, dear readers, the reason for my neglect.  On my day off I was able to get into town and connect to the internet for a few hours; but as might be expected in a rural town of four hundred, the internet is really. really. really. slow.

But, I shall make it up to you now by updating you in the next few posts about what I have learned this summer.

Here is my first new revelation:

You can be vegan anywhere.

Even on a boat, in the middle of nowhere, with groceries only arriving from Juneau every week.

The chef I worked with was so kind as to help me keep to my vegan diet by abandoning the practice of putting butter in  everything, and only using it on some things.  Not only did this make me happy, the rest of the crew was thankful as well, since they had been watching their waistlines grow over the weeks.

Luckily, as the galley slave, I was in charge of making the salads for every dinner, so I could at least make sure the salads were vegan.  Also, as you may have realized, I love to bake; so I made cookies every day for the after lunch snack, as well as occasionally make the dessert for dinner as well.  Even though not every dessert I made was vegan (ex: lemon pound cake, cheesecake, etc.) I was able to throw in the occasional vegan chocolate raspberry cookie or vegan flourless peanut butter cookie. I took pleasure in serving these to people, having them declare they were delicious, and telling them they were vegan.  I don’t know what I was expecting– people to spit them out?–but no one seemed surprised by this.  Perhaps it’s just the sort of clientele we get on the boat– people who are generally well traveled and pretty savvy–who have already been exposed to veganism.

Or perhaps it is a sign that the movement is gaining ground and that more people are open to the deliciousness of a plant-based diet?

Either way, it just goes to show that people are open, compassionate, and willing to try new things!  Perhaps humanity isn’t doomed after all?

I will try to keep these memories in mind as I watch the antics of the election season unfold.

Now for pictures of cute things I saw!!

I’M A FREAKING OTTER!

Three little birds…

Oh this? JUST WOLF PUPS FROLICKING!

 

Captain’s Log: Day 2

800 hours: Still alive.  Vegan police are no where to be seen.  Apparently they did not register my infraction.  Am safe for now.

Breakfasting on granola with almond milk, hash browns, an apple, and orange juice, provided by my thoughtful Aunt.

1000 hours: On the road again, grey drizzle spits upon us, taunting us with the promise of rain and failing to follow through.

1200 hours: Stop for lunch at a gas station/Wendy’s.  My lunch consists of some french fries and a baked sweet potato from Wendy’s, as well as a banana and some Oreos.  I am not proud of myself, but pickings are slim as we drive further and further into the armpit of Texas. And hey, I didn’t eat all the french fries.  I gave some to the dog….

However, the baked sweet potato was pleasantly delicious and I have added Wendy’s to my list of emergency fast food joints.  The list now consists of Wendy’s and Taco Bell.

1800 hours: Finally arrive in Amarillo where we proceed to order take out from a restaurant claiming to serve Thai/Japanese/Chinese/Lao food.  I choose the tofu stir fry, but on the menu it was simply called “Tofu”.  Fittingly, the dish was made up of primarily GIANT hunks of tofu, as well as some veggies.  It was tasty, and restored some of the self-respect I lost at lunch, since this meal actually had some green stuff in it.

Yes, my level of self-respect is directly correlated to the amount of green food I eat per day.  The dialogue in my head goes something like: “Good for you!!  Green food!  How exotic and nutritious of you!!  You can look people in the eyes knowing that you have eaten more than just Oreos today!  Great job!!”   It’s sad really.

Anyway, we must have looked tired when we got the food because the restaurant decided to give us eight containers of Sriracha sauce and probably close to twenty packets of soy sauce.  I might or might not have contemplated dipping an Oreo in the Sriracha just to see what it would taste like…

Tomorrow we will finally cross the border into New Mexico– The Land of Enchantment.  Just a hunch, but I think that my definition of enchantment is different from the definition recognized by the state of New Mexico.  When I think of the word “enchanted” I picture unicorns, fairies and clouds made of vegan marshmallows.  When I think of New Mexico, on the other hand, I think of desert, sand, dryness, maybe some skiing and aliens.  But enchantment?

I guess tomorrow I will find out if NM can charm me with its food.  Maybe I’ll come under its  spell and never want to leave.  Perhaps it will bewitch me, body and stomach.  Hayuck yuck.

……..

And now I’ve used up all my remaining self-respect typing that, so I’m going to go eat a bucket of spinach.  Have a good night everybody.

Golden Rule

I’ve just finished my first two months of being vegan.  And I’ve noticed that I’ve been living my life more consciously.  Not only have I become an expert ingredient reader, but I’m more conscious of how I live my life as a whole, how my actions affect others,  and how I treat myself.  So, I thought I would mark this anniversary by reflecting on the Golden Rule.

~

Treat others as you wish to be treated.  That’s the Golden Rule that has been instilled in us since we were very small.  It’s the basis of all major religions in the world.  It’s repeated so often that it’s joined the ranks of motivational poster sayings.

But most of us don’t really live the Golden Rule.

When you really think about it, we don’t treat ourselves very well.  If we treated other people like we treat ourselves…the world would be a really crappy place to live.  We reserve a lot of judgment, self-doubt, criticism, guilt, and name calling for ourselves.

What we need to recognize is that the Golden Rule isn’t just about treating others well.  It also reminds us that we need to learn how to treat ourselves with the same compassion we extend to others.

I am the first to admit that I’m a harsh critic of myself; but when others are genuinely compassionate and caring towards me, that little nagging voice of inner-judgment in my head gets smaller.  So lately I’ve been trying to direct some compassion inward.  This not only means being  mindful of my self-judgment, but also compassionate towards my physical body and the things I put in it.

I went vegan because I wanted to live the part of the Golden Rule that tells us to treat others well; for me this meant animals.  But now I’m also trying to live the part of the Rule that asks that we treat ourselves with kindness as well.

I don’t eat animals because I see it as an act of disrespect towards them and towards myself.  I do not condone the torture that is used in factory farms, and the suffering that animals have to go through for people to enjoy a meal.  I do not eat any animal products because I wish to treat all beings as I wish to be treated– with compassion.

But, in these past two months I’ve also recognized that being vegan is a way of caring about myself as well– emotionally and physically.  Since becoming vegan I have experienced first hand the health benefits of this compassionate diet.  I have more energy, I am less stressed (although stress never completely goes away, especially for college students), and I feel that I am living a fuller life.

I feel better that I am not forcing others to kill or torture animals so that I might enjoy a meal.  I feel better that I am not putting anything in my body that had to suffer or endure pain.  And I feel better because I’ve learned how to eat healthier and make new and exciting meals for myself!

In other words, now I’m truly living the Golden Rule; by treating myself just as compassionately as I treat others.  This doesn’t mean that I’ve eradicated that little nagging voice of self-judgment completely.  But now whenever it speaks up, I refuse to let it beat me down; and instead I act compassionately toward myself and others… by making myself a vegan cupcake :)

Inspiration

Here are some of my favorite quotations dealing with compassionate/veg living.  What people or sayings inspire you to live a compassionate life?

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’
But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’

“And there comes a point when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”  ~Jim Davis

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” ~Mother Teresa

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” ~Gandhi

“Who was the guy who first looked at a cow and said, ‘I think I’ll drink whatever comes out of these things when I squeeze ’em!’? ~Calvin & Hobbes

“I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” ~Leonardo Da Vinci

“It’s a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” ~Albert Einstein

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

“When non-vegetarians say that human problems come first, I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farmed animals.” ~Dr. Peter Singer

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~Mark Twain

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie, and today I saw it in theaters for the first time.  When it was released in 1991 I was too wee to take to the theater, so this was my first time seeing it on the big screen.  And, as often happens when we watch Disney movies after having spent some time growing up– I realized some things.

I guess it’s the liberal arts education sinking in, but I couldn’t help analyzing the film, especially the characters.  Gaston in particular has always been repulsive to me– probably because I identify strongly with Belle as an intellectual, bookish girl longing for ‘adventure in the great wide somewhere’.  However, seeing the film now, I realized that I also find Gaston disgusting for his lack of compassion.  The strong-jawed manly man that uses antlers in all of his decorating, and eats five dozen eggs, is definitely not a vegan.  He hunts, he fights, and he belittles those weaker than him.

Compassion is about recognizing the suffering of others, something Gaston definitely does not do.  In fact, he seeks to capitalize on it, and in turn becomes the villain of the story.  And because this is a Disney movie,  the villain is always defeated…or in this case he falls off a castle that was built right next to a conveniently placed gorge.  Because when you see a giant gorge, you automatically get the urge to build a castle, don’tcha?  (Sorry, there’s just so much more to laugh at in Disney movies when you’re all grown up and cynical).  However, in our cruel, sadly un-Disney-fied world, those that capitalize on the suffering of others are often rewarded for their actions instead of being stopped.

Further proof that a greater effort needs to be made into making the world more like a Disney movie.

But I suppose if real life were like a Disney movie, animals would talk and then there’d probably be a lot more veggie eaters in the world.

But I guess there’d also be more people like Gaston……hm.  It’s the philosophical question of the century :)

Vegan virgin

Yes, I am a vegan virgin.

~

I’d been a vegetarian for almost two years when one of my closest friends insisted I read “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer or she would unfriend me (and not just on Facebook).  Reading that book caused me to become truly conscious of my beliefs and actions.

In this blog I will chart my journey veganward– into the great nutritional-yeasty-unknown!  As an anthropology major I’m especially interested in not only vegan food but also vegan culture– and how abstaining from animal products brings people together to create awesome vegan communities, as well as how following a compassionate diet helps us to be more compassionate in other areas of life.

~

From beef to beets: The beginning

(ha! That section title makes me sounds freaking important– but, hey, it’s my blog, what’re you going to do about it?  It’s all about me!!  Mwahaha.)

I’ve always loved animals, but it took me 18 years to become a vegetarian.  The decision was relatively painless– I was helping my dad prepare dinner one night– calamari– when I suddenly realized I couldn’t do it any more.  I could not eat animals.  Of course, it wasn’t that quick, but it felt like it at the time.  I had been thinking about becoming vegetarian for a while; but it took the actual act of cutting into flesh to wake me up.  Before that night I had gone back and forth because I knew it would be difficult– living in Texas and being a vegetarian– being a poor college student and being a vegetarian– liking the taste of bacon and being vegetarian.  Yes, I admit, I like bacon!  Scandalous, I know for a vegetarian to admit.  But I didn’t become a vegetarian because I don’t like meat.  I became a vegetarian because my actions and my beliefs were not aligned.  The moral conviction underlying my decision– that eating animals is wrong– is what gave me the strength to give up meat cold turkey– pardon the pun.

But until recently that’s as far as my conviction went.  I was okay with eating eggs, dairy, and other animal products (except gelatin– that stuff’s just nasty).

It took me a few months after reading “Eating Animals” to become vegan, but once again I am making the leap into what I believe will be not only healthier, but happier way of life.

It’s a few weeks since I became vegan and I’m here to say– yes it is possible to be vegan in Texas!  (even outside Austin!  gasp!  But really, Austin isn’t part of Texas, I don’t know where it came from, it’s like a little village of hippy hipsterdom in the middle of the rest of this crap– it’s like a little nugget of tofu on the side of a big ol’ hunk o’ beef).

So, I guess I’m not a vegan virgin anymore.  But I’m not a vegan veteran yet….I guess I’m a vegan newborn….eating lots of mushy tofu and beans.  That is, until my winter break ends and I return to college in Tacoma, Washington.  Which is to Texas like Tofu is to Barbecue.  Okay, maybe Portland is tofu, but Tacoma/Seattle is definitely at least, like, edamame.

So enjoy the blog and my random, random ramblings!