Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New TV Series: Whale Wars

I was very excited to see a preview for an upcoming new series on Animal Planet. The show is called Whale Wars and centers around the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

I fully support Sea Shepherd and their courageous efforts to stop whalers in their tracks. They utilize direct action tactics to combat whaling. You can read more about Sea Shepherd here.

Here's a preview clip for the show:



Whale Wars premieres this Friday, November 7 on Animal Planet at 9PM EST/PST.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tag: What's in Your (Vegan) Freezer?

I'm initiating a new game of tag for vegan bloggers: what's in your (vegan) freezer?

Here's how it works:
  1. Take a picture of the items in your freezer

  2. Post the picture to your blog and give a summary of the items

  3. Tag 5 vegan bloggers

Here's a look into my freezer:





As you can see, I have the essentials:
  • Frozen organic fruit (strawberries, blueberries)

  • Frozen organic vegetables (peas, corn, asparagus)

  • Amy's No Cheese pizzas

  • Amy's burritos

  • So Delicious soy ice cream (Peanut Butter Zig Zag & Praline Pecan)

  • Tofu (freezing and thawing produces a nice texture)

  • Waffles

  • Ezekiel bread, english muffins, and (veggie) burger buns (I love Ezekiel)

I obviously have fewer options than I did in Seattle but I can't complain about the vegan options here on Prince Edward Island. The reason for the frozen vegetables is that it's hard to find everything I need (organic, anyway).

I'm tagging:
  1. VeganCowGirl

  2. VeggieGirl

  3. Chocolate Covered Vegan

  4. Lindsay I-F

  5. Rural Vegan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Can Find Tempeh Burgers but Not Tempeh


Before moving to Prince Edward Island (PEI) I was prepared to go without tempeh. I heard it was nowhere to be found on the island.

I haven't found tempeh but I have found tempeh burgers. Atlantic Superstore in Charlottetown sells them. They're made by Green Cuisine and are available at the store near me in Original and Barbecue flavors.

Apparently Green Cuisine is a vegan restaurant in Victoria, BC. They also happen to sell some of their products.

The tempeh tastes like Australian tempeh. (I lived in Australia for six months.) It's softer and more moist. I like Canadian/Australian tempeh and tempeh I previously bought in the U.S. the same I believe. They're just different.

I make due with what I have here on PEI. It's understand that my options are limited because I am in the middle of nowhere. I just open the package of burgers and slice them into small pieces and use them as I would from a normal package of tempeh. My wife made an amazing stir-fry with tempeh, kale, red potatoes, and great spices tonight. (I love kale).

For those of you not in Canada: sorry, Green Cuisine's products are available only here.

Has anyone been to the restaurant in Victoria? I never made it up to Victoria when I was living in Seattle.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Male Cat is No Longer Vegan


This is an extremely difficult post to write but I believe in transparency in the animal rights movement.

Owen, pictured above attempting to cook himself, is no longer vegan. This deeply saddens me because it forces me to buy animal products but I am acting in his best interest as his guardian.

First, here are some facts about urinary tract infections (UTI) you may or may not know:
  1. It is much more common for males to become blocked

    • A veterinarian at the clinic my wife previously worked in claimed to have seen a female cat blocked just once.

  2. Tabby cats, especially orange tabbies, are more prone to getting blocked and developing UTIs.


Owen, being an almost six-year-old male orange tabby cat, is extremely prone to UTIs, getting blocked, and developing crystals in his urine. He had problems urinating even before he was on a vegan diet. However, it seems to have worsened in recent months.

My wife and I tried everything. A product I've highly recommended, Enzymes pH, just wasn't cutting it. We made sure he had clean water in his water fountain, which is supposed to help to prevent blockages.

When he did become blocked we used homeopathic medicine to relieve the blockage with success. (I'll have to blog about the stuff my wife uses to relieve blockages in a future post.)

On top of his urinary problems we found some sores on Owen over the summer and took him to the vet. We discovered he has an autoimmune disease. He also had eight teeth pulled while we were living in Seattle. Oh, and he has a significant heart murmur due to the fact that his aorta doesn't line up properly. (We had to take him a veterinary cardiologist to have special tests performed.) The cardiologist said this conditions is extremely rare and was the first case he'd ever seen.

So, as you can see, Owen is no normal cat. He has horrible genes. Natural selection would have killed this cat off long ago.

Here's a lit of Owen's health conditions:
  1. Asthma - this is due to his moronic first guardian who smoked inside and gave him asthma and wheezing. His wheezing has improved considerably over the years. (We are both completely drug-free.)

  2. Heart murmur - this is due to the fact that his aorta doesn't line up properly

  3. Autoimmune disease - he develops sores on his body

  4. High propensity for UTIs


He's our cat and we love him all the same. I love Owen just the way he is.

Anyway, it became clear to us that we were going to have to change his diet. We experimented with feeding him a mixture of eggs and his current food. (This was a sample meal suggested by a holistic veterinarian in a natural healing for pets book.) It didn't cut it.

After searching for hours online I came across a brand called Organix, made by Castor and Pollux. It appears to be the only organic cat food product on the market.

Too bad I can't buy Organix in any store here on Prince Edward Island. I asked about special ordering it with no success. So, I brought two cases of the stuff back with me when returning from Washington, DC. (I recently flew back to the U.S. for several days to attend my best friend's dad's funeral.)

The next best thing I've found is a product called Innova, made by Natura. I can buy this at the farm store near my house.

Note that both products are moist food. You should never feed your cats dry food. I have had numerous veterinarians tell me this.

We're currently feeding Owen a combination of the two. I figure some organic food is better than none. I'm still mixing Enzymes pH into his food as well.

So far he seems to be doing a little better. It's hard to tell sometimes if he's uncomfortable due to his autoimmune disease or a blockage. We've been monitoring him and he is urinating.

We were instructed by the veterinarian who diagnosed Owen with an autoimmune disease to try the following things in order:
  1. Change his environment. Apparently a lot of dogs and cats develop allergies when living in damp climates (mold and mildew).

  2. Change his diet. We're currently on this step right now. I hope this will do the trick because the next solution isn't ideal at all.

  3. Put him on steroids. Steroids could help clear up the effects of the autoimmune disease but would destroy his immune system. This would not be a good thing for a cat who's a genetic dud (no offense Owen).


Just because Owen can't thrive on a vegan diet does not mean your cat cannot.

Female cats are easy. If you have a female cat you can easily feed them a vegan diet with next to no concern with them getting blocked. I highly recommend Evolution. It comes in kibble and you'll need to mix it with water and allow it to soak in the fridge. You can follow my instructions on veganizing your pets here.

Male cats are more challenging. If you have a tabby he will have a higher propensity to becoming blocked but you may still be able to feed him a vegan diet. It's worth investigating. If he has problems switch him back to a non-vegan diet.

Anyway, I wanted to share this latest development in my life with the animal rights community. It feels odd to walk into the store and purchase animal products. I have a responsibility to Owen, though, and I'll always act in his best interest.

For the animals,
Billy

Monday, September 1, 2008

Why I Am Vegan

I wrote an essay back in college on veganism. I know it was very helpful for many people. In fact, I even received a few emails from people letting me know the essay had convinced them go vegan. I'm posting it here in hopes that others will find it useful. Feel free to pass it around.

Why I Am Vegan

Exposing the moral, health, and environmental consequences of consuming animals

Introduction

We are destroying the environment, our health, and our humanity, not to mention the billions of innocent lives taken by our own hands. The majority of human beings do not make a connection between buying meat or dairy and killing animals. Even if a connection is made between the two and a person fully understands that s/he is directly supporting the slaughtering of animals, s/he feels that eating flesh or consuming dairy is essential to maintaining good health. Consuming animals is embedded in our culture. It is institutionalized murder. Throughout this essay, I will present you with true facts and information necessary to possess in order to make a compassionate decision when choosing what to eat.

First, I will give a little historical information about raising animals for food and will contrast that with how animals are raised today. Before the Industrial Revolution and World War II, the images many Americans have of cows grazing in fields, pigs rolling in dirt and mud outside farmhouses, and chickens strolling along freely were correct; however, this is not the case today. Today, most all of the animals we raise for food live in factory farms. The transformation to factory farming occurred as a result of the Industrial Revolution and the huge demand for food at a cheap cost to consumers. In factory farming, animals are treated like machines; they are treated as mere commodities whose purpose is only to serve us and please our taste buds.


The Moral Aspect of Veganism

Chickens are known to be highly social animals. They develop a “pecking order,” in which each knows who is above himself and to yield to him. They can even maintain this “pecking order” in flocks of up to 90 birds. In the factory farms, however, they are denied their extremely important need to socialize. Average flock sizes in egg factories well exceed the 90-bird limit. Most warehouses enslave hundreds of thousands of birds, some reaching a staggering 800,000. The conditions these birds are kept in are inhumane. First and foremost, the egg factories have no use for male chicks, so they are all thrown into plastic bags or dumpsters and left to suffocate to death. An average of six egg-laying hens are kept in battery cages so small that they peck at each other. In order to deal with this pecking problem, workers cut off up to two-thirds of each bird’s beak. This causes severe pain because there are a lot of nerves located in the beak. The floor of a battery cage is made of wire and provides a total living space of only 1.7 square feet per cage. Living like this leads to bone brittleness, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness. Layers of battery cages are stacked on top of one another, which provides an easy way to deal with manure; it simply falls down between the wiring and into the cages below, until it reaches the ground. To add to all this misery and suffering, egg-laying hens are put through a process termed “forced-molting,” in which food and water are removed for several days at a time. This is done because it shocks their bodies into another laying cycle.

Pigs are highly intelligent and friendly animals. The pig has one of the highest measured I.Q.’s of all animals, even greater than that of a dog. They even have the ability to remember and recognize people they have previously been acquainted with. Despite all of this, they are very mistreated in our factory farms. The stench present in pig factories is unbearable. Pigs have a very good sense of smell, enabling them to find roots that have not even surfaced yet. Therefore, it is not hard to understand that they suffer immensely from the awful smells present in their “home.” The ammonia in the air eats up their lungs and causes them to lose interest in eating, leading to a loss of weight and the development of respiratory problems like pneumonia. The level of ammonia in the air is so great that workers in the pig factories complain that they can feel it affecting their lungs. Pigs used to be kept in pigpens, but today most are enslaved in extremely narrow steel stalls. These stalls force the pig to constantly face one direction, because he does not have enough room to even simply turn around. The average room he has in his stall is 6 to 8 square feet. He lies on top of a metal grate or concrete, which takes its toll on his feet by tearing them up and giving them lesions. The metal grate is used because it is the most efficient way to dispose of waste products; it simply lets them fall through to the ground. Hormones are given to him to make him larger, because more weight means more meat. His skeleton becomes deformed and his legs begin to buckle because they cannot support his unnatural weight. If the pig is a sow (female), she is forced to produce many more piglets than she naturally would. For example, in a natural barnyard setting, a sow will have about six babies per year, but in the modern pig factories she can produce up to 20-45. Workers allow her piglets to suckle on her breasts for a couple of weeks, because without doing so they would die. When workers are sure the piglets will not die, not because they care but because of a potential loss of profit, they remove them all from their mother. This causes the sow to stop lactating, which in conjunction with many hormone injections enables her to become fertile again sooner, and this means more piglets and more money. The mother does what any human mother would do if her babies were taken away: she cries out for them, but it is utterly hopeless because she will never see her offspring again. Living in these conditions drives pigs to insanity. “Tail-biting” is the industry term used to describe pigs driven so insane that they bite the tails off of other pigs, and sometimes continue to eat into the back, causing death. The attacker then eats the dead pig if the situation goes unnoticed. How do workers attempt to prevent “tail-biting?” Well, there would be no tail to bite if the pigs did not have tails. That’s right, they cut them off. This is termed “tail-docking” and is standard procedure in United States pig factories. This, as you can probably imagine, causes tremendous pain and suffering for the pigs.

What about cows? Well, if the cow is male, he is either sent to be made into veal or to a feedlot to fatten up. The baby males that are raised for veal, termed “veal calves,” live horrible lives. Veal is a considered a “delicacy” because of its tenderness and whitish-pink color. Consuming anything other than their mother’s milk and exercising gives their flesh color. Years ago, in order to have their flesh remain white, veal calves had to be slaughtered only a few days after being born. Doing so required killing them when they weighed about 150 pounds. Producers considered this a waste and worked at developing methods to fatten the calves before slaughtering them. Today, “experts” have come up with a way to keep their flesh white and tender up to a weight of 350 pounds. Immediately after being born, the veal calf is taken away from his mother and put into a stall in a veal shed. This is done to prevent a bond from forming between his mother and himself. If the bond was formed and then he was taken away, his mother would do anything, sometimes even breaking down fences, to get him back. He will remain in this stall until he is four months old, at which time he is slaughtered. Since exercising leads to the development of muscles, which will give his flesh color, he is not allowed to do so. He is not even permitted to walk, because he is shut so tightly in his stall that he can hardly move at all. His stall is a mere 22 inches wide and 54 inches long. The stall is so tiny that he is not even able to comfortably lie down; he must assume an unnatural hunching position to do so. Obviously he cannot turn around. He cannot even twist his head because he is chained by his neck. The only movement he is at all capable of is that of a few inches back and forth or side to side. And what is he fed to keep his flesh the desired whitish shade? “Experts” have found that if he has anemia his flesh will retain its whitish color, so he is purposefully fed only food and even drinking water that contains no iron. He becomes so iron-deficient that he attempts to lick the steel walls that surround him. “Experts” in the veal industry have come up with a fix for this: they now use hardwood stalls instead of steel. Other male cows are sent to disgusting places called “feedlots.” When bulls come to the feedlots they are castrated. Why? This is done in order to turn them into steers, simply bulls with their testicles removed. And why would the industry want steers instead of bulls? Simple: steers have a higher percentage of body fat than bulls, and more body fat means more meat that can be sold. The manner in which the bull is castrated is atrocious. A ring is put around the bull’s scrotum. He will kick and swing his tail furiously for at least half an hour, until his scrotum finally goes numb. About a month later, his testicles fall off. Another method of castration is using pliers to simply cut and remove the testicles.

Each unit in a feedlot is on average 12 feet by 15 feet, and in each one of these rooms 13 steers are crammed in. Their diet, which serves to make them as fat as possible, consists of sawdust, shredded newspaper, processed sewage, body parts of cattle, sheep, and horses, grease, cement dust, and pieces of cardboard. They are also given many antibiotics because their immune systems are very vulnerable from living in these conditions. Hormones are given to them as well, to make them grow fatter faster.

What about female cows? They become dairy cows: those cows we enslave and abuse in order to provide us with the milk we so arrogantly and ignorantly drink. In a natural environment, a dairy cow would live between 20 and 25 years. In the dairy factories of today however, she is lucky to live five. Dairy cows are pumped full of antibiotics to fight off disease and hormones to promote milk production. Traces of both are found in the milk you drink. The most common hormone given to the cows is the Bovine Growth Hormone. This hormone drastically and unnaturally increases the amount of milk a cow produces per year. For example, in 1940 dairy cows produced an average of 2.3 tons of milk per year each. Bovine Growth Hormone was approved for use in 1993. In 1997, the average amount of milk produced per cow each year was 8.4 tons. Some cows have even produced more than 30 tons of milk each year. This exploitation causes udder damage and mastitis, inflammation of the udder. Dairy factories commonly use one of two techniques for milking the cows. The first one involves a milking machine being brought to the cows, who are crammed into narrow stalls and chained by the neck. The second treats the cows like machines even more than the first. Each cow is placed in something called a “Unicar,” which is a cage on wheels, and moves along a railway line. The contraption operates on the push of a single button. The farmer presses this button a couple times a day, upon which the cows in cages automatically move along the assembly line and are fed, watered, and milked. The cows then return to the storage barn, still in their cages, where they remain until the button is pressed again. Dairy cows live in these cages for an average of ten months per year. There is no room to walk or turn around, let alone hardly move. When a dairy cow’s milk production drops, she is sent to the slaughterhouse to become a hamburger.

What about fish? Most people, for some odd reason, tend to try to distinguish between fish and other animals. Fish have complicated nervous systems and are capable of learning complicated tasks. Can fish feel pain? I think the Textbook of Medical Physiology, written by Guyton & Hall, said it best: “The lower regions of the brain [which all vertebrates have] appear to be important in the appreciation of the suffering types of pain because animals with their brains sectioned above the mesencephalon to block any pain signals reaching the cerebrum still evince undeniable evidence of suffering when any part of the body is traumatized.” Also, industrial fishing is very harmful. It damages ocean ecosystems by seriously depleting food webs. Dolphins and other marine animals are caught in the netting, most of which die. Many factory fisheries are being developed right now, breeding and raising fish in cages too small for them to enjoy their lives.

How are the animals we raise for food transported? They are shoved into cages and put on trucks to be shipped around. Animals are so packed in that they often end up walking, urinating, and excreting on top of one another. Many of them do not survive the journey. Those injured so severely that they cannot walk off of the trucks on their own are dragged out by chains, still very alive and still very conscious. Is it lawful to treat animals like this? It sure is. Under the federal Animal Welfare Act, which provides legislation for the “humane” treatment of animals, animals we raise for food are specially excluded. This means workers can do whatever they want, whenever they want to do it, and as often as they wish without ever having to fear punishment by the law. It pains me to see the society you and I live in treating animals as machines, when in fact they are sentient beings and cherish their lives as much as we do.


The Consumption of Animal Products and Your Health

Did you know that eating animal products is bad for your health? It’s true. First, forget everything you have ever heard regarding animal products as being essential to maintaining good health. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The exact opposite is actually true. The meat and dairy industries have been lying to you all along. Why on earth would they want to do that? It’s very simple: money. Did you know that one in two Americans die of heart disease in the United States? It’s true. Industry propaganda has many people believing that your genetics determine your risk of having a heart attack. This is true, but not in the light they like to portray it in. Only about five percent of patients who develop heart disease have a hereditary form of it, which means the other 95 percent of people in this world determine their own fate by the foods they choose to eat. Diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol run high risks for heart attacks. So the less saturated fat and cholesterol you take in, the better off you will be. Considering cholesterol is only found in animal-products, the cholesterol a vegan takes in is zero. Let’s look at some statistics on cholesterol levels of Americans. First, the average cholesterol level in the United States is 210. This number means nothing unless you compare it to that of vegetarians (those who abstain from meat only) and vegans living in the United States. The average cholesterol level of a vegetarian in the U.S. is 161. The average for a vegan is 133. Considering the fact that you are virtually assured you will never suffer a heart attack in your entire life if you keep your cholesterol level under 150, one can see why many people choose to adopt a vegan diet for health reasons. Also, in regions of the world in which meat is scarce, heart disease is unheard of. Eating meat also contributes to the number one reason in the United States that people go to the doctor: high blood pressure. The ideal blood pressure to have is 110/70 or less. The average blood pressure of vegetarians in the U.S. is 112/69, while the average for non-vegetarians is 121/77. More than 50 percent of senior citizens in the U.S. have incidents of high blood pressure, while it is virtually zero for senior citizens in countries with people eating low-fat vegan diets.

The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund published Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective in 1997. In this publication, researchers report that 60 to 70 percent of all cancers can be prevented by staying active, not smoking, and by adopting a vegan diet. Researchers have found a link between eating animal products and cancer and state that adopting a vegan diet lowers your chances of getting cancer by 60 percent. Here are just some of the statistics that undeniably link the consumption of animal products with cancer. American men who consume large amounts of dairy products have a 70 percent increase for their risk of developing prostate cancer. American women who eat red meat daily have a 250 percent greater risk of getting colon cancer than women who eat red meat less than once a month. The death rate from breast cancer is 22.4 per 100,000 in the U.S., while it is only 6.3 in Japan and 4.6 in China. Why is this? People in Japan and China consume less animal products, eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise more, and weigh less than Americans. “The beef industry has contributed to more deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined” (Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine).

Did you know that the antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides given to cows shows up in the milk you drink? Antibiotics traces show up in one-third of milk products. 80 antibiotics are actually allowed to be found in cow’s milk in the U.S. A staggering 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock in the U.S. each year, and for reasons other than treating disease. This is astonishing when compared with the fact that only 3 million pounds of antibiotics are given to people in the U.S. each year to treat disease. Hormones found in U.S. beef have been linked with cancer, especially the hormones 17 beta-oestradiol and the Bovine Growth Hormone that I mentioned earlier. Milk has been shown to cause osteoporosis, rather than prevent it. Remember all those “got milk” advertisements? The dairy industry was using false advertising. They are not allowed to say milk prevents osteoporosis anymore. Scientific data has also shown that vegans have lower rates of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, gallstones, kidney disease, obesity, and colon disease. Vegans and vegetarians live an average of six to ten years longer than non-vegetarians.


Environmental Consequences of Raising Animals For Food

There are also environmental impacts involved with eating animal products. Do you care about our environment, but consume animal products? If so, you might like to be informed of the following information. 87% of all the agricultural land in the U.S, or 45% of the total land mass in the U.S., is used to raise animals for food. More than 80% of the corn we grow and 95% of the oats are fed to animals. This leads to the fact that the meat industry is responsible for 85% of all the soil erosion in the U.S. 5,200 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of beef. This is easily seen as inefficient when compared to the fact that one pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons of water. More than half of all the water used in the U.S. goes into raising animals for food. The average meat-eater’s diet uses more than 4,200 gallons of water each day, while the average vegan’s uses only 300. It would be much easier and so much better for the environment to consume the plants and grains we grow directly, rather than wasting resources on raising animals as a source of food.


Conclusion: It’s Up to You to Make the Change

After presenting you with all of this information, I hope you will be able to make a healthy, environmentally-friendly, ethically-sound decision about your diet. The next time you sit down to eat please remember this: eating animal products not only contributes to the amount of unnecessary suffering in the world, but also has drastic impacts on your health and the environment you live in. Please choose meals based on compassion for all living creatures.


Bibliography

1. Robbins, John. Diet for a new America. Stillpoint Publishing, Walpole, NH: 1987.
2. Robbins, John. The Food Revolution. Conari Press, Berkeley, California: 2001.
3. Vegan Outreach. 3 May 2002 .
4. PETA: Factsheets. 3 May 2002 .
5. GoVeg.com: Lifestyle: The Environment. 3 May 2002

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Any Other Vegans on Prince Edward Island?

Wow, I haven't updated in a month. Sorry about that. I've been extremely busy, what with moving across the continent, having my car break down, and dealing with all of the things that come with purchasing a new house.

Anyway, I've just moved to Prince Edward Island. Are there any other vegans on this island? If you know anyone, have them contact me. :)

I have a feeling my wife and I may hold the prize for being the only two on the island.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Stuck in Small Town America as a Vegan

For those of you who know me you probably know I try to eat as healthy as possible. I'm a stickler to organic produce and whole grains. I avoid trans-fat, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and all of that junk.

I'm in the process of moving to Canada. Well, I ended up not eating as healthy during my trip from Seattle to Pennsylvania.

My wife and I broke down on the Indiana toll road. The car randomly overheated so we pulled over. It was probably in the high 80s or 90 and really humid. We had our dog and two cats in the back seat. It was very scary because they started overheating. Luckily, the tow truck arrived not too much later.

We were towed to Michigan City, Indiana on Sunday, where we stayed until Thursday waiting for the car to be fixed. It took so long because we drive a Volkswagen diesel and had to have parts shipped in.

Anyway, if you've never been there, I highly recommend never going to Michigan City. It's very vegan-unfriendly. It mostly consists of a huge highway and big box stores. When walking to get food I had to walk on the shoulder and sometimes on the highway.

Nonetheless, we made it as vegans. My goal is for vegans in similar situations to use this a guide to surviving in vegan-unfriendly America.

Papa John's

A Papa John's pizza, without cheese of course, is vegan! Check out the Papa John's FAQ to see for yourself. Also, Papa John's now offers whole wheat pizza. No, it wasn't the best pizza ever but my wife and I were excited to have someone deliver something vegan to us the first night we were in Michigan City.

Note: avoid the dipping sauces. One isn't vegan and one has hydrogenated oil.

Subway

Subway's Italian bread is vegan. The wheat bread contains honey, which is extremely lame. Check out the Subway FAQ.

I'm well aware none of the vegetables were organic, but at least that was another easy vegan meal when stranded in the middle of nowhere.

So, in a pinch, a Subway veggie sub on Italian (hold the cheese) is vegan.

Meijer

I'd never heard of Meijer before walking by one in Michigan City. Meijer is a huge everything store. Think Wal-Mart, but less evil.

Anyway, Meijer had a huge produce department and, surprisingly, a decent selection of organic fruit and veggies. My wife and I bought a bunch of organic veggies and had a huge, healthy salad one night. We were craving real food.

In summary

In summary, those three places are your friends if you're ever stuck in Michigan City, Indiana. Learn to appreciate them for the time being because those are really your only options.

We're excited to finally be in Pennsylvania. I'm relaxing in the mountains as I write this post.

I'm glad to be back on the East Coast!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Seattle Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant Guide

There's a wonderful Seattle vegetarian and vegan restaurant guide that's handed out at several of the veggie restaurants here in the city. I've been meaning to upload or link to the guide for a while now. As I'm leaving Seattle and probably won't be blogging much about the city anymore, I want to provide you all with a great resource for your future trips to the area.

The guide is put out by Action for Animals. You can download it in pdf format below.

Seattle Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant Guide

Saturday, July 5, 2008

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan

Fiona at NursingDegree.net pointed me to an article posted on the site entitled 57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan.

Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals, its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North America. Find out from the list below how eating vegan can help you in your search for better health.


Some of the topics discussed are nutrition, disease prevention, physical benefits, and the American diet.

I'm very excited to see veganism being discussed on nursing website. I don't meet very many vegetarian or vegan nurses, although one of my good friends is a vegan nurse. It would be wonderful to have more nurses understand the benefits of a vegan diet. Their direct relationships with patients gives them the opportunity to really make a difference and turn more people onto veganism.

I highly suggest you read the article on Nursing Degree.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Goodbye Seattle: an East Coaster's Reflection on the Emerald City


As you have probably guessed from the title, I'm leaving Seattle. I'm moving to Prince Edward Island - remote Canada. I've been here two years now and, while I've enjoyed most of my time here, I'm really ready to move.

If you a native Seattleite about their city they'll tell you that Seattle is the best city in the world. It really seems that Seattleites are unable to say anything bad about their city. Well, Seattle isn't a perfect city and it's definitely not suited for everyone.

As I'm leaving in two weeks, I thought I'd write what I hope will be a helpful guide to Seattle (and the Pacific Northwest in general). I aim to provide you with pros and cons about living in the Seattle area. My main goal is to present an accurate and fair guide to the Emerald City.

I'm originally from the Washington, DC area. I've discovered I'm still an East Coaster at heart.

Please remember that this is my opinion and is based on my personal experiences. This is in no way intended to insult Seattle or the people who live here. It's just not for me.

Alright, on with the pros and cons.

Pros
  1. Extremely vegan-friendly

    • I consider Seattle to be the most vegan-friendly city in the world. People in Portland, OR will fight to the death over this. It gets annoying. They're both very vegan-friendly.

  2. Extremely liberal/leftist

    • It's nice to be surrounded by people who all understand and agree our President is a moron. Seattle has the be the most liberal city in the United States.

  3. Great coffee

    • I wasn't much of a coffee drinker until I moved here, but Seattle really does have the best coffee. I recommend Caffe Ladro and Wayward Coffeehouse. You'll be amazed at how many places serve organic, fair trade coffee.

  4. Free wifi everywhere

    • As an Internet junkie, I really appreciate the fact that each and every cafe in Seattle has free wifi (except for Starbucks...but why the hell would you go there anyway?). If you happen to find the one cafe that doesn't have free wifi, leave and walk to the next cafe...probably only one block away in Seattle.

  5. Natural beauty

    • The area surrounding Seattle is extremely beautiful...when it's not overcast and misty/rainy. You can see snow-covered mountains in every direction. The city is very hilly and the downtown skyline is beautiful.

  6. The people

    • You'll notice a change in Seattle if you're used to the East Coast. People are much nicer and actually want to talk to you. However, they aren't perfect. See below.

  7. Outdoor sports

    • Great hiking, cycling, skiing, etc. However, like many other Seattleites I hibernate during the crappy weather. Grey skies and rain does not make me want to get on my bike.

  8. Job market

    • Seattle's job market is great. You won't have a problem finding a job here if you decide to move here. However, because the job market is so good the housing is extremely overpriced. See below.


Cons
  1. The weather

    • Seattle may be the most vegan-friendly but it's the worst place to live in regards to weather. Nine months of the year you don't see much of the sun at all. It's overcast and rainy. I can't stand the weather here. I never realized how much my mood is tied to the weather, but I need to see the sun. I can't stress how awful the weather is here. If you're someone who needs sunny days throughout the whole year and not just summer don't move to Seattle.

  2. The drivers

    • Don't get me wrong, the drivers here are courteous and cautious. However, they take it to the extreme. Many people drive extremely slowly here. It's not uncommon for me to be behind someone going 20 mph on the street I live in (the speed limit is 30 mph). Trust me, you'll want to take the bus. It's so much less stressful.

  3. The people

    • While the people here are nice, they also prefer an indirect method of communication. I'm used to direct communication. In my experience, people in the Washington, DC area are direct and rude and people in the Pacific Northwest are indirect but nice. That indirectness sometimes turns into passive aggressiveness. Also, Seattleites are extremely flaky. If someone makes plans with you don't assume they're set in stone.

  4. Cost of living

    • This city is outrageously overpriced and continues to rise. I have no desire to continue to pay far too much to live in a city where the sun don't shine. I pay over $1,000 for a studio apartment.


Conclusion

For me, Seattle is a great place to visit but not somewhere I want to live. I've enjoyed my time here and have met some great people, but I'm ready to move on. I need to live somewhere with better weather (I can't think of anywhere with worse weather) and that's less expensive.

I'm also ready to live in a more rural area for a while. I'm finding cities to be a little much right now. I need some space and some peace and quiet.

Let me know if you'll be out on or near Prince Edward Island, Canada. I'll probably be making trips to Halifax, NS once in a while, as it's the closest city.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Trip to San Francisco

I just got back from my trip to San Francisco yesterday. It was amazing, as always. I really love that city.

I went to San Francisco to attend the VegNews Music Issue Launch Party for the VegBloggy award I won. The party was at the Electric Works Gallery and it was packed:



I met and spoke with Elizabeth Castoria. She's the Senior Editor at VegNews and is extremely nice. I saw Joseph Connelly, Publisher of VegNews, running about but didn't get a chance to say hi to him.

I also met two other fellow vegan bloggers: Lauren (VeganYumYum) and Amanda (Walking the Vegan Line). Lauren brought her husband Stewart and Amanda brought her husband as well.

Lauren and Amanda were both super nice. It was nice meeting both of you! If I'm ever in Boston or Houston I'll let you know.

Below is a picture of Stewart, Lauren, and my friend Amy.



I flew into San Francisco Wednesday night but didn't end up getting into the city until almost 11pm, as my flight was delayed almost two hours. All flights in and out of SFO were delayed due to the fires in Northern California. The smoke from all of the fires was so bad that it was pretty smokey in San Francisco. Below are some pictures I took from Telegraph Hill. You can really see the smoke in them. I was looking for the wild parrots but didn't find any. For those of you who don't know, I'm obsessed with birds. I love them.





Telegraph Hill is probably my favorite part of San Francisco. Here's another picture of Telegraph Hill:



I started Thursday morning with brunch at Herbivore - the location on Divisadero. I really love Herbivore. I've stopped in every time I've been to San Francisco. Their brunch is really good. I had fruit pancakes.

I also went to Amoeba Music, which I consider the very best music store in the country. I bought the self-titled Sublime CD to replace the one I lost, the complete season of Extras for my wife, and a Nine Inch Nails CD for my best friend. If you've never been to Amoeba you should definitely check it out the next time you're in San Francisco. It's in the extremely popular and touristy Haight Ashbury neighborhood.

Of course no trip to San Francisco would be complete without stopping at Maggie Mudd. For those few vegans who haven't heard of Maggie Mudd it's an ice cream shop in the Bernal Heights neighborhood that can make most everything vegan. It's amazing! I usually get the Waffle Bowl Banana Split but this time I got the Messy Marci (a brownie topped with three scoops of ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, and more). Here's a picture of what my friend Amy and I got (mine is on the left):



And here's me about to enjoy my treat:



As always, I was sad to leave San Francisco. I caught a very early (6am) flight back to Seattle because I had a meeting for work.

I'm looking forward to reading blog posts from Lauren and Amanda.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When Your Cat Won't Stop Licking



This is what happens when your cat won't stop licking a wound.

A week ago I came home to find Owen in the sink licking his paw. He had cut all of his toes on his front left paw. My guess is that he was mooching for food scraps in the compactor in the sink and cut it on the blade.

Owen wouldn't stop licking his paw, which was preventing the wound from healing. My wife took him to the vet. He came home sporting the latest in cat fashion.

Owen hates the cone. He's had it on for several days and still isn't used to it. He continuously walks into walls with it and has problems judging distances. He is forced to eat his food slower as it is a challenge, which frustrates him because he enjoys devouring his food.

So, share this picture with your cats and warn them that they'll become gimps like Owen if they refuse to stop licking.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Vegan Visitor Guide to Seattle, WA

Seattle is the most vegan-friendly city in the world. That's my opinion at least. Anyway, I've lived here in Seattle for almost two years and have yet to write a visitor guide for vegans.

This is in no way a comprehensive guide to the vegan haven that is Seattle. This is merely a guide I would like to give vegans visiting the city with recommendations on what I consider to be the best.

RESTAURANTS



Teapot Vegetarian House



This is hands-down my favorite veg restaurant in Seattle. If you can go to only restaurant, definitely go to Teapot.

The lowdown:


Recommendations:
  • Mongolian Vegetarian

  • Mandarin Crispy Tofu

  • Spring Rolls

  • Hot & Sour Soup

  • Basil Nuggets

  • Sweet and Sour Nuggets

  • Teapot Curry Loaf

  • Bounty of the Sea

  • Gula Malacca (dessert)

  • Tofu cheesecake (dessert)


Eating great at Teapot is all about ordering right. Some dishes are so-so but some are amazing. If you stick with my recommendations, you won't be disappointed.

Araya's



Where else can you find an all vegan Thai restaurant? Nowhere! The staff members are really nice and the food is great. I highly suggest Araya's. It's in the University District (U-District) right in the middle of everything.

The lowdown:
  • Vegan, Thai

  • 1121 NE 45th St

  • (206) 524-4332

  • Mon-Thur 11:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm, Sun closed

  • No website, can you believe it?!


Recommendations:
  • Pad Thai

  • Veggie Beef with Peanut Sauce

  • Spring rolls


Araya's also has a weekday buffet from 11:30am-3pm. All you can eat for $7. Fill up on spring rolls!

Bamboo Garden



Another all vegan restaurant (except for the fortune cookies). Be sure to ask for no fortune cookies...they are not vegan. This is a good Chinese place. The food comes out pretty quickly and virtually all seats are booths. The downside is that this isn't the healthiest food. Most of it is deep fried gluten. When you want protein or want to be filled up, head here.

The lowdown:


Recommendations:
  • Corn chowder soup (everyone loves this)

  • General Tso's Chicken

  • Mandarin Chicken

  • Sweet and Sour Chicken

  • Vegetarian Sausage and Chicken in Black Bean Sauce


Bamboo Garden is good and I definitely get into moods for it, but it's not super healthy. The only real thing that bothers me is that this is a vegan restaurant serving non-vegan fortune cookies. It baffles me.

Cafe Flora



Amazing food...for brunch. Don't bother going for anything but brunch. Their lunch and dinner is awful and most all items cannot be made vegan. In fact, I'm only going to list their brunch hours below. They really cater to vegetarians. You know, those people who just refuse to part ways with pus-filled dairy.

The lowdown:


Recommendations:
  • Sticky Buns (amazing!)

  • Family Platter

  • Grilled Asparagus Scramble

  • Hoppin' John Fritters


Brunch is really good. If you go, get there as early as you can. They're super busy for brunch.

Chaco Canyon Cafe



A nice all vegan, modern, half raw cafe in Seattle's University District. I really like this place. They're very environmentally and socially conscious. They recycle and compost nearly everything and all virtually all organic.

The lowdown:


Recommendations:
  • The Elvis smoothie

  • Raw Tropique smoothie

  • Artichoke Melt (my favorite)

  • Tunaless Melt (my wife's favorite)

  • Cilantro Pesto Melt


Chaco Canyon is also somewhere you can go to just sit and hangout. They have free wifi. Big plus.

Cyber Dogs



An all vegetarian hot dog restaurant in downtown Seattle! I love this place. It's really tiny but awesome.

The lowdown:


Recommendations:
  • El Bandito

  • Spudnik


Everything except the corn dog can be made vegan. I highly suggest the El Bandito. It's sooo good! In addition to eating good food, you can play Pac Man or surf the net at one of their computer stations.

Mighty O



An all vegan donut shop in Seattle, near Green Lake! All of the donuts are vegan and mostly organic. However, they do offer dairy as an option for coffee drinks, which is extremely lame. Many "vegan" places in Seattle do this. It's stupid. Anyway, order their donuts, let them know it sucks they serve dairy, and take a nice walk around Green Lake with your amazing vegan donuts.

The lowdown:
  • Vegan, Donuts

  • 2110 N 55th St

  • (206) 547-0335

  • Mon 6am-1pm, Tues-Fri 6am-5pm, Sat-Sun 7am-5pm

  • www.mightyo.com


Everyone loves Mighty O. You must go to Mighty O while visiting in Seattle. No trip is complete without doing so.

Carmelita



Looking for a vegetarian restaurant with a nicer atmosphere? Try the upscale Carmelita in Phinney Ridge (my neighborhood). They do accept reservations and I highly suggest you make one.

The lowdown:
  • Vegetarian, Modern, Upscale

  • 7314 Greenwood Ave N

  • (206) 706-7703

  • Sun, Tues-Thur 5pm-9pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm, Mon closed

  • www.carmelita.net


Only a few items can be made vegan, but this place is worth the visit. It's a great place to eat on special occasions or for a nice night out.

Kitaro



A veg-friendly sushi restaurant with a separate vegan menu.

The lowdown:
  • Veg-friendly, Sushi

  • 1624 N 45th St

  • (206) 547-7998

  • Hours

  • No website


Kitaro is not all vegetarian but they have a separate vegan menu! Vegan sushi! The owner is quiet but extremely nice. I really like giving him my business. I highly recommend Kitaro, located in the Wallingford neighborhood.


GROCERY STORES



While you're in Seattle, screw Whole Foods. Check out and support the co-ops!

Sidecar for Pigs Peace



Sidecar is Washington State's only all-vegan grocery store. It's more of a convenience store. I'm super spoiled in Seattle. Have I mentioned that yet?

Sidecar is located in the University District and sells vegan dog and cat food, frozen convenience foods, vitamins, candy, toiletries, kitchen items, shirts, and more.

Also, the manager is really nice. Say hi to Doh when you go.

www.sidecarforpigspeace.com

PCC Natural Markets



A local chain of co-ops in the Seattle area. PCC is one of the best places to shop in Seattle. I love PCC. They're my neighborhood market. I go here most all of the time.

www.pccnaturalmarkets.com

Madison Market



A local co-op in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. I love this co-op. I stop here whenever I'm in the neighborhood.

www.madisonmarket.com


CAFES



You'll find that free wifi is available at all coffee shops here in Seattle. If you walk into a cafe and they're asking you to pay for or don't have wifi, leave. You found the one place that doesn't have free wifi. (I still haven't found it.)

Anyway, avoid Starbucks and Tully's like the plague. Check out and support the little guys. The coffee is much better anyway.

Caffe Ladro



A local chain of awesome cafes here in Seattle. All coffee served at Caffe Ladro is organic, fair trade, and shade grown. Plus, free wifi. Beat that!

www.caffeladro.com

Wayward Coffeehouse



This is my favorite cafe to hangout in here in Seattle. Hands-down. I'm sitting in Wayward right now actually, writing this blog post.

Like Caffe Ladro, Wayward serves only organic, fair trade, and shade grown coffee. And, of course there's free wifi.

I'd have to say the best tasting coffee in Seattle is Caffe Ladro, but the best place to sit in a cafe is Wayward. Plus, their coffee is almost as good as Ladro's. The interior is very spacious and they're only really busy late at night. You'll most likely have your very own table. I can't say enough good things about Wayward Coffeehouse. Oh, they offer a few vegan sandwiches as well!

www.waywardcoffee.com

Trabant Coffe & Chai



Vegan specialty chai drinks in the University District! Think coffee drinks like lattes, only with chai instead!

Be sure to ask for your drink to be made vegan with soy milk. Trabant has two chai mixes (one is vegan and one isn't). They offer soy and rice milk.

Trabant tends to be quite crowded due to its proximity to the University of Washington (UW). You aren't always guaranteed a seat; however, the chai drinks are amazing. Don't know what to order? I suggest the Hazelnut, made vegan with soy of course.

www.trabantcoffee.com


Wow, that was a lot of typing. That list isn't even close to comprehensive. I'm sure my fellow Seattleites reading this post are thinking, "You forgot ..." There's just too much to cover.

You can view a pretty comprehensive list of vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly restaurants in the Seattle area at Veg Seattle.

Or, you can certainly contact me anytime with your questions, via the "Email me" link on the right side of my blog or by leaving a comment on any post.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Cat is Just a Little Off

Do all cats enjoy sleeping in odd places? Or, is it just my cat? Take a look at where Owen was sleeping today:





This is how my normal (well, more normal) pets sleep:







Reilly, my dog, looks bored because he's waiting for me to take him outside.

I took him on a walk and now I'm sitting in a cafe with him. That's just one thing I love about Seattle - a number of places let you bring your dog in with you.

Do your cats sleep in odd places? The more cats I meet, the more I firmly believe they're all a little off.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Vegan Wedding Cake

I think a vegan wedding cake deserves its own blog post!

Here's the amazing cake Kamber at Sticky Fingers Bakery made for us:



It was a two-tier vanilla cake with fondant on the outer layer. Those flowers are all sugar flowers - totally edible!

The cake looked wonderful and tasted amazing. Our guests had no problem polishing off the entire thing (even the non-vegan ones).

I highly recommend Sticky Fingers Bakery if you're looking for a wedding cake, or just a vegan treat.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I've Won a VegNews VegBloggy Award!



VegNews has named my blog one of the top 21 on the web!

I've also been invited to attend the VegNews Music Issue Launch Party as a VIP guest.

Here is part of the email I received from Colleen Holland at VegNews:

On behalf of VegNews Magazine, we're thrilled to announce that Vegan Talk was named one of the 21 best blogs in the first annual VegNews VegBloggy Awards. Our team of editors navigated, clicked, and painstakingly perused hundreds of vegetarian blogs and spent months determining the best virtual destinations today.

The awards are featured in our July+August edition, available on newsstands across the country on July 1.

I'm really excited and honored that VegNews has chosen me as one of the top 21 vegan bloggers. Thank you!

Are any of my vegan blogger buddies out there planning on attending the VegNews party on June 26th in San Francisco? I'm really going to try to make it. I'd love to meet up with you! I think there's a trip to Maggie Mudd in my future.

An Easy Way to Brush Your Dog's Teeth


It's important to brush your pets' teeth. I've especially realized that now that my cat had to have eight teeth removed.

A while back I discovered Easy Brush. I love this product! Easy Brush makes brushing fun for Reilly. He acts like he's getting a treat and playing with a toy.

Easy Brush essentially works the same as our toothbrushes. You wet the bristles, rub some toothpaste on, and hand the bone to your dog. Note: be sure to use dog toothpaste. Human toothpaste is not okay for dogs.


I've been buying Triple Pet All Natural Toothpaste, made by Benedent. Luckily for me, it's sold right up the street from my house at Mud Bay.

I called Benedent and the person on the phone told me the product contained no animal ingredients and was vegan but I'm never 100% sure unless that's printed on the package. The only possible ingredient of animal origin is glycerin.

Does anyone else use this toothpaste? Have you contacted Benedent? If you use a different kind of toothpaste for your pets, what do you use?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm Back in Seattle...and Married

After a two week visit on the east coast, I'm finally back in Seattle. And, I came back a married man!

The wedding was amazing. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day, even with the light rain that morning. My wife looked very beautiful. Everyone was happy and enjoyed the vegan food.

I've been extremely busy with many things in my personal life, but I'll be blogging again soon.

I'm going to have to try to forget about the sun now that I'm back in Seattle. It was beautiful most of the time in DC.

I'm extremely happy and I hope you all are too. I hope to write again soon.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Getting Married

I'll be largely out of commission the next two weeks, as I'm headed to the east coast to get married.

For those of you interested, here's some information on planning our vegan wedding and our eco-friendly wedding invitations.

Talk to you all soon!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Answer to Conserving Resources Lies on Your Plate

I've had enough of all the recent bashing of biofuels. I drive a biodiesel car and do all I can to reduce my carbon footprint.

Here's a snippet from the article:

But with growing fears over biofuels stealing from dinner plates to fill gas tanks, people are starting to wonder: How green are biofuels?

The media is looking for a scapegoat, someone to blame for rising crop prices. Their plan: bash biodiesel and other biofuels. I was unaware that going to war for oil, killing innocent people, and transporting that fuel all the way back to the U.S. was more eco-friendly. I must have missed that.

The biodiesel I run in my car is grown right here in Washington state, produced in South Seattle, and sold at a station a mile from my home. That's not eco-friendly? Sure, it takes resources to produce anything; however, nearly all electricity in Seattle comes from renewable energy, which is wonderful. That set aside, it still takes far less resources to produce my biodiesel than it would to buy oil dug up across the world and shipped here. (Not to mention the CO2 gasoline puts into the air.)

Anyway, my point is this: if you want to conserve resources, go vegan! Adopting a vegan diet is the best thing you can do for your health, the environment, and other life on this planet. Years ago I wrote an essay on my reasons for going vegan. I'll locate the paper and post it on my blog in the near future.

Eating lower on the food chain requires less resources. Makes sense, right? Instead of wasting so much agricultural land growing crops to feed to animals, why not just eat the crops directly yourself? Here's a visual comparison of the resources involved to support omnivore and vegan diets:

Omnivore: Raising crops -> housing animals -> feeding crops to animals -> slaughtering animals -> shipping animal byproducts

Vegan: Raising crops -> processing crops -> shipping crops

Note: you can also cut on the processing phase by buying whole foods and supporting your local farmers.

Consuming animals in today's society is completely unnecessary, and it's actually harmful to your health. So, if you decide to consume animals you're doing so based solely on taste.

I'll leave you with a final question: is eating animals worth wasting all those resources and contributing to the degradation of our planet?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tip for Making My Vegan Cookies

I've updated my post on my Vegan Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies to include a very helpful tip for placing golf-sized dough balls onto cookie sheets.

I'm making my cookies today for a vegan party tomorrow night, as everyone seems to love them.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Vegan Cream Cheese Hits Shelves


Follow Your Heart, makers of the delicious Vegan Gourmet Cheese, have released Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese!

The new vegan cream cheese hit store shelves not long ago. I was shopping at PCC, my local co-op, a few days ago and noticed the container right next to Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese. Tofutti is in for some fierce competition!

Here's how they compare:

Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

Ingredients: Water, expeller processed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit and olive), maltodexterin, soy protein, tofu, nondairy lactic acid, organic sugar, blend of natural gums (locust bean, guar, cellulose, xanthan and carrageenan), vegetable mono and diglycerides, salt.

Price: ~ $3.50

Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese

Ingredients: Filtered water, org. palm fruit oil, org. soybean oil, inulin (chicory root extract), org. soybeans, soy protein, org. agave syrup, sea salt, org. soy protein, lactic acid, org. rice starch, org. lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor, org. locust bean gum, xanthan gum.

Price: ~ $3.50

Notice the organic ingredients in Follow Your Heart's product. The Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese is 76% organic.

The taste is very similar, though I think I may slightly prefer Tofutti because I've been eating it for years and am used to it.

Here are the reasons I'll be switching to Vegan Gourmet:
  1. Vegan company

  2. Organic ingredients

  3. No need to worry about hydrogenated oil (Tofutti currently sells one version with hydrogenated oil and one without...stupid)

  4. About the same cost


I highly recommend trying the new vegan cream cheese for yourself. Tofutti is not a vegan company and does not make the healthiest products.

If you can't find it in a store near you, you can buy it on their website.

I welcome Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese and will be using it as my cream cheese substitute from now on.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Best Way to Store Veggies?

After many frustrating years of produce not lasting as long as I'd like it to, I'm seeking your help.

What is the best way to store vegetables in the fridge?

The best method I've found so far is using plastic bags, but that really isn't all too great for the environment. Granted, I reuse the bags, but I'd rather not use plastic at all.

I'm sure some of you out there have some great tips. I'd love to hear them.

Thanks!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Green Festival Report

The Green Festival was great. I spent about three hours there on Sunday.

I met some of the guys from Temptation vegan ice cream. I found out that not only are they vegan, but they're also drug-free! I had a ton of fun just talking with those guys. I hope to meet up with them if/when I'm in Chicago again.

I also went by the VegNews table. My fiancee and I entered their raffle. Two days later we received a package in the mail. She won the huge basket of vegan cookies! Thanks VegNews!

The Green Festival was full of so many cool booths: biodiesel, solar power, eco-friendly home furnishing, etc.

Also, on top of it all, we got in for free. I scored some free coupons at the community center in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On a More Personal Note

Today marks the one year anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech.

UPDATE: Here's a story about one of the survivors.

This really hit home when it happened, as I went to Virginia Tech for college. My brother did as well. Seeing pictures and footage of the campus and students was very upsetting. Blacksburg was my home for over four years. I loved that little town. I have a lot of memories there.

It's crazy to think that something like this happened at Virginia Tech. Blacksburg is an extremely safe town. I'm thankful my brother had graduated. I had a friend still in town and made sure she was alright.

The end of 2006 to the beginning of 2007 was a very tough time in my life. Those five months were the worst of my life.

In November of 2006 my fiancee's mom died suddenly. On New Year's Eve my best friend's mom died of brain and kidney cancer. In February of 2007 my mom died of leukemia. Then, in April the massacre at Virginia Tech happened. Everything happened at once. I was on emotional and depression overload.

I miss everyone so very much. Linda, Joan, and Mom: I miss you all every day.

I treasure my life and my loved ones. Life is very special. Enjoy your time with the ones you love. You never know what each day will bring.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Awesome Vegan Cake

Katie at Chocolate Covered Vegan has blogged about an awesome vegan cake she made.

She poses a question in her post: why are guys so fascinated by cars?

I was never interested in cars until I bought my 1999 VW Jetta TDI. It's a diesel so I run it on biodiesel. It's clean-burning (78% reduction in CO2), I get 41 mpg city and 49 mpg highway, it's renewable, and it's domestic (no war required).

Maybe I should do a post about biodiesel.

I'm excited about going to the Green Festival tomorrow!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Green Festival Coming to Seattle


The Green Festival is happening next weekend in Seattle! This is the first year it will be held here.

The event takes place on April 12th and 13th at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in downtown Seattle.

I'm really excited. I've been to the Green Festival twice, both times in Washington, DC. The last time I went I had three acai bowls. It's dangerous when Sambazon is there.

For those of you going and interested in avoiding the $15 entrance fee, the Phinney Neighborhood Association has free passes on the table inside.

Has anyone else attended a Green Festival? Are any of you planning on going to this one here in Seattle?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cheezly Vegan Cheese


Have you tried Cheezly yet? If not, you definitely should!

It melts pretty well (better than Follow Your Heart).

It tastes really good. It sort of reminds me of dairy (it's been over six years though), but not enough to gross me out. I think I'd say I like it more than Follow Your Heart, although I do like Follow Your Heart as well.

You can't buy it in stores yet, but you can buy it on Vegan Essentials. However, if you live in or near Seattle, you can buy it in person at Sidecar.

Pros: Taste, melts, non-hydrogenated

Cons: Price (about $8/pack), not organic

Have you tried Cheezly? What do you think?

The people who make Temptation soy ice cream have created a vegan cheese: Teese. I'm thinking of ordering a sample. I've heard good things.

UPDATE: I just ordered two pounds of Teese!

What is your favorite vegan cheese?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sexism in the Animal Rights Community

I was interviewed several weeks ago by Kara Jesella of The New York Times. She asked my opinion on perceived sexism in the animal rights community.

Here's the article she wrote. Sadly, her editor cut my quotes out of the piece. Damn.

Anyway, I told Kara my feelings: sexism runs rampant in our society. It's also prevalent in the animal rights movement. Take a look at the vegan strip club and some PETA anti-fur campaigns to see what I mean.

We all need to be conscious of all liberation struggles, not just animal liberation. We should not undermine one group to prop up another (e.g. objectifying women in order to spread the message of animal rights).

What do you all think?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dog Shot and Killed By Arrow

A dog was shot with an arrow yesterday here in Seattle. The 150-pound Mastiff died this morning from internal bleeding.

You can view a picture here, but be forewarned that it is graphic and upsetting.

This is sick and makes me really angry. I'm not sure what I would do if someone hurt my dog. I love him so much.

Seattle Animal Control is investigating and is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NYC Trans Fats Ban in Effect?

I saw a post on SuperVegan about Foodswings celebrating its fourth anniversary this coming Sunday. I used to love going to Foodswings when visiting NYC (when I lived on the east coast).

However, I stopped going when I learned that they use trans fats in their food. This is disgusting and something I would never expect from a vegan restaurant. Also, the owner voiced his opposition to the trans fat ban in NYC, which I was not too fond of.

So, this brings me to my question for my readers: Has the ban on trans fats in NYC gone into effect yet?

I'd really like to go back to Foodswings, but will never do so while they use trans fats.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ricochet Sugar-Free Mints



I've found my new favorite mints: Ricochet. Richochet mints are made with xylitol, so they are sugar-free and suitable for diabetics.

The mints are made by Emerald Forest.

The only flavor I've seen (at Sidecar for Pigs Peace) is Peppermint, which is really good.

The tin contains small 100 mints. Each mint has just one calorie and really freshens your breath. I'm very impressed with these.

Here are the ingredients: Xylitol, natural peppermint oil, natural hibiscus powder.

Has anyone else tried these or any other flavors? What is your favorite mint?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Illegal Killing of Endangered Mountain Gorillas

Michael Markarian blogged today about a park ranger arrested for spearheading the disgusting (and illegal) killing of endangered mountain gorillas in Congo.

There is a picture showing four gorillas strapped to makeshift stretchers. I've decided not to post the image here. You may view it on his blog if you so desire.

Michael points out that only about 700 mountain gorillas remain in the wild. He says, "The ranger apparently orchestrated the slayings to deter and demoralize environmentalists who are working to preserve the gorilla’s rainforest habitat."

What a poor excuse for a human being. Things like this make me sick to my stomach. Gorillas are beautiful creatures. Why do some people partake in such violence? I think it has a lot to do with our detachment from our natural world and one another.

Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vegan Style

I came across the recipe for Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies from Top Secret Recipes a while ago. The cookies - once veganized - are wonderful.



Here's my vegan version of the recipe:

1 cup softened organic margarine (I use Earth Balance Whipped Spread)
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice
1 1/2 cups organic packed brown sugar
Equivalent of 4 eggs (Egg Replacer)
2 1/2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour (sifted)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
18 ounces organic semisweet chocolate chips (I use Sunspire)

You can access the recipe for instructions here.

Update: Rather using both of your hands to roll the dough into golf-sized balls, I highly suggest using a spoon in one hand to dig out some dough and the other to help place it onto the cookie sheet. This is far less messy and much easier as the dough is very sticky.

The recipe makes two dozen awesome vegan cookies. They're so moist and chewy!

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Everyone who tries my cookies loves them (even non-vegans). I'm bringing some to my work meeting today for my coworkers.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vegan Easter Basket

Just because you're vegan doesn't mean you can't have an Easter basket. I put together a vegan Easter basket as a surprise for my fiancee. Take a look below.



I filled the basket with the following goodies:


I was able to buy all of this at the one-stop vegan shop here in Seattle: Sidecar for Pigs Peace.

Did anyone else have a vegan Easter basket?

CEO of Annie's Naturals Wants Your Feedback


John Foraker, CEO of Annie's Naturals, wants your feedback on their organic Goddess dressing.

John left a comment on my post about my organic salad with Goddess dressing. He wants to know what you think about a larger size for the organic Goddess dressing.

You can read his comment and give your feedback here.

(Image courtesy of Annie's Naturals.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Organic Oatmeal Packets Provide an Easy Breakfast


Looking for a quick, delicious, and filling breakfast? I highly suggest Apple Cinnamon instant oatmeal. I usually don't have much time in the mornings, so I end up eating something easy like this.

It's made by Nature's Path, the same company that makes those awesome vegan, organic, whole grain waffles I blogged about a few days ago.

The oatmeal is all organic and made with whole grain steel cut oats. Here is the full list of ingredients: Organic rolled oats, organic evaporated cane juice, organic dried apple, organic cinnamon, sea salt, natural flavor.

There are eight packets in a box. Each packet has 190 calories, 2g of fat, 14g of sugar, and 6g of protein. I always eat two packets, though, as it takes more to fill me up. I guess 14g of sugar in each packet is kind of high, but at least it's not refined sugar. That counts for something, right?

I've also tried the Maple Nut flavor, which is really good as well.

Has anyone else tried any of the other flavors?

As an additional bonus, it's a local product for me. Nature's Path is based in Blaine, WA and their distributor is in British Columbia.

I'd like to start making my own oatmeal like Katie and Jennifer, but these packets are perfect for those mornings I'm in a rush, tired, or just plain lazy.

(Image courtesy of Nature's Path.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lunch: A Big Organic Salad

After realizing I hadn't had a salad in a very long time, I decided to make it my lunch today (after eating my leftovers from the Araya's - the all vegan thai restaurant here in Seattle).

My salad was all organic and consisted of baby greens, red bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. Nothing fancy, but good. I topped it with Goddess Dressing, the best dressing in the world. Here's a picture:



I'm glad Annie's Naturals finally released an organic version of Goddess Dressing. That was one of the few non-organic things I was buying. For those of you familiar with the dressing, have you noticed it's only available in the small (8 oz) size?

Tip: For those of you who don't like dressing, I suggest you give Goddess Dressing a try. I really am not big on dressings, but I love this one.