Wildcard Friday!

I, like many, do encounter a few of the same questions/judgments over, and over, and over again in regards to veganism. And it all falls under the umbrella of the word “vegan” being an absolute. People seem to get angry, confused, or aloof if you say “I’m vegan, but sometimes I eat cheese, or “I’m vegan, but I eat honey”, or “I’m vegan in my dietary habits, but not in the clothes I wear, shoes I wear, cosmetics I use, etc”.

I just feel that using the “v-word” doesn’t have to be this strict absolute. In my book, it’s not like you have to be 100% vegan or you are not vegan at all. That is why we use the term “virtually vegan”. I also like to say I’m an “aspiring vegan”. I just want to be comfortable telling people that I have decided to live a life that is compassionate towards others as well as towards animals. It is a process and I feel like I am on the road/path to learning and bettering myself and the world around me. I don’t want to feel like I am getting chastised because someone saw me eat a cube of cheese. I want people to recognize the intention behind my actions and also to realize that people are human and that living a 100% black and white life where everything is in terms of absolutes is pretty unrealistic.

So I guess the moral of my story is that I think it is better if we all support each other and realize we are all on different paths, and to give each other encouragement towards making decisions that are the best for that person. We all do not need to be or deserve to be judged 100% of the time. Follow your heart and your mind. Do things you are proud of. And strive to make this world a little bit of a better place than the way you found it.

Happy Friday everyone! Have a safe, wonderful, and compassionate weekend!

I will be back next Wednesday blogging from NYC. Hopefully I will have a chance to try at least ONE vegan restaurant in the big city!

-Foodie Vegan


The passing of a hero

I rarely use the word hero but I wasn't sure what else would aptly describe an individual such as Howard Zinn. In technical terms he was a historian, a professor, an outspoken activist; for me he was inspirational, compassionate, just, and defiant (the good kind). He passed away just hours ago and so I want to dedicate this post to his memory.

This may seem to have little to do with veganism, but I believe that Howard Zinn upheld the same virtues as vegans say they do: compassion, rights, activism, and peace.  If you have never read anything by this prolific and unconventional author, I suggest you start NOW.  I'm halfway through reading "A People's History of the United States" (hey, it's 700+ pages of detailed history, I'm trying...) and have read "Just War" which is a transcription of one of his lectures (highly recommended!).  If you rather watch something on a screen you can always rent You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train or other dvds about him.

I hope all of you take a moment to discover, rediscover or pay your respects to this outstanding individual. I am so grateful for all the thoughts he expressed and recorded which are a gift to humanity.  May you find his writing motivational in bringing you to act upon your ideals.

“I'm worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel - let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they're doing. I'm concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that's handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers.” Howard Zinn

[trying to not be another cog in the wheel] EcoVegan


Elephants Belong in the Wild by Crafty Vegan

The article below and the picture above are from the following link: http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-welfare/blog/10-worst-zoos-for-elephants/ Studies have shown that elephants simply don’t do as well living in zoos as other animals. Their life spans are significantly shorter than that of their wild counterparts, they’re prone to a host of behavioral issues and physical problems and the emotional ties they form with other elephants are often disregarded as they’re shuffled from one facility to another. Elephant experts like Daphne Sheldrick and Joyce Poole argue that elephants are similar to humans and there is nothing kind or educational about keeping these sensitive animals in captivity for the pleasure of curious onlookers, especially when they’re kept alone. In Defense of Animals (IDA) has released their 2009 list of the Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants citing common problems including cramped living spaces, poor breeding, premature deaths, using circus training techniques and not having a positive impact on conservation efforts. Last year India took the lead citing similar problems and banned elephants from zoos. The nine top offenders in the U.S. in 2009 include the San Antonio Zoo (Texas), the Honolulu Zoo (Hawaii), the Reid Park Zoo (Ariz.), the Houston Zoo (Texas), the Topeka Zoo (Kan.), the Oregon Zoo (Ore.), the Bronx Zoo (N.Y.), the Toledo Zoo (Ohio), and the Brookfield Zoo (Ill.) The list has expanded from U.S. zoos to include the Toronto Zoo, along with adding the Los Angeles Zoo and the Woodland Park Zoo in Washington to the Elephant Hall of Shame for “repeat offenders who have made little to no progress improving conditions for elephants.” "The Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants list shines a spotlight on the terrible suffering of elephants in zoos," said IDA president Elliot Katz, DVM. "It’s time for North American zoos to join India in recognizing that Earth’s largest land mammals don’t belong in urban zoos which lack the space and complex natural conditions elephants need. Zoos must follow the lead of the two U.S. sanctuaries that provide elephants with vast acreage in natural habitats and a far superior quality of life." Check out the 2009 list of the Worst Zoos for Elephants. If you live near one of these zoos and want to help, contact zoos@idausa.org for information. Also visit the Performing Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS, in Northern California and The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee for ways to help.


Quote for Monday-from Foodie Vegan

"You choose, every minute of every day, the kind of person you want to be, the kind of life you want to live." -unknown


Life After Cheese?

I will start out by saying that the title of this post isn't mine (though I feel like it is)! I pulled it from a podcast by one of my vegan mentors, Colleen Patrick Goudreau. Her "Life After Cheese" podcast episode can be found here: http://cdn4.libsyn.com/compassionatecooks/life_after_cheese.mp3?nvb=20100125061554&nva=20100126062554&t=0e4ab27e1de1c5c396e19.

I am just going to put it right out there....I have struggled the last couple of weeks. And I feel like my biggest obstacle right now is CHEESE!! Yes, I am one of those people who has always been a cheese lover. I also am an avid wine drinker, and cheese just seems to go so naturally with it. Though I do know that so many other flavors and textures can bring out the wonderful qualities in wine, I am struggling to get cheese out of the picture.

Also, traveling a lot, I have had to get proactive in requesting vegetarian/vegan meals in advance. And I find that in places that do not have a vegan option, they are happy to give me a vegetarian option that usually has cheese as one of the components.

This post isn't meant to be a laundry list of complaints or excuses, but rather as just some thoughts that I am going through right now. I'm looking at this as a two part post. This is part 1, that pretty much says "here's what I feel" and part two of the post will be me addressing these issues I am having, giving solutions, etc.

So, I won't say that I have truly found life after cheese myself, but I am on the path and enjoying the journey.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


Dr. Steven Best, a bit of background and a quote from him...

Award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Steven Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 books, over 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis.

A quote from one of his writings:

"We must not only educate, we must become a social movement. The challenge of animal rights also is our challenge, for animal rights must not only be an idea but a social movement for the liberation of the world’s most oppressed beings, both in terms of numbers and in the severity of their pain. As with all revolutions, animals will not gain rights because oppressors suddenly see the light, but rather because enough people become enlightened and learn how to rock the structures of power, to shake them until new social arrangements emerge." ~ Steven Best



i like it RAW

wow, anyone else weirded out by this insane weather in Southern California this week? With it being so wet and cold outside I've been rather lax on eating 'raw' but I have tried to eat at least one raw meal (or large portion of a meal) a day.
I'm taking a two part Raw "cooking" class which I will complete this upcoming Saturday*. It's been really fun learning how to prepare delicious and creative food without the use of heat.

So, today I want to share something that's completely new to me: Chia seeds! You can learn more about them here since I simply want to give you a recipe to get you to eat them and perhaps revamp your tired breakfast routine.

Unless you have a fruit-and-veg-packed smoothie every morning, this will be an improvement and hopefully give you lots of energy to charge through the day! If you like eating warm or cold cereal for breakfast this will be right up your alley.

Chia Pudding (single serving)
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1/2 - 1 tbsp of buckwheat (I know they don't inspire one to eat them raw, but believe me, they're delicious and pack a peanut-like flavor and crunch!)
  • 1/2 tbsp of hemp or flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk (I really like using unsweetened vanilla almond milk) or water (but that seems unappetizing)
  • anything else your little heart desires: diced apple, nuts, frozen or dried fruit, bananas, agave, whatever!
Combine the chia seeds, buckwheat and hemp/flax seeds in a bowl with a bit of the milk/liquid.  Let sit for a couple of minutes so that the chia seeds absorb the liquid.  Then add your other optional ingredients and more milk to achieve your desired consistency--the milk may be warmed (hey, that's still raw!) if you prefer a warmer breakfast.

I was shocked to learn that I liked this concoction. In fact, I love eating it. I ate oatmeal Tuesday and it left me totally uninspired, and yesterday I skipped breakfast altogether, which is why today I am committing myself to this nutritious, energizing, and yummy seed mix once and for all.

I hope you try it out (let me know how it goes) and that you're as pleasantly surprised with your first chia seed experience as I was!

peas and ch-ch-ch-chia**

*class is taught by the beautiful and talented Chef Alysha Maiorelli.
**yup, chia seeds as in chia pets, one of the gifts of the 90's that's still around (chia Obama, really?!)


My thoughts on sustainable, local meat

Something that has come up in some recent vegan discussions I have had is "what about local, sustainable meat"? On our blog we have thus far focused on factory farmed animals, which arguably is the where MOST Americans get their meat from. But there is a small percentage of people who are "doing their part" and refusing to eat animals raised in factory farms. They are choosing animal products that are local, sustainable, organic, pesticide free, hormone free, etc. How do the VVS feel about that?

I think that we all have different ideas on the topic. My thoughts are two-fold. For one, this way of eating does not address the animal rights issue. As far as I'm concerned, it conveniently avoids it. I do agree and have read statistics, studies, listened to educated friends, etc on the topic of local, sustainable animal products. And I do agree with those points. But I still have a major issues with the idea of KILLING an animal directly for our personal satisfaction. I believe that there is something karmically wrong with killing another living being for our unnecessary consumption, no matter how sustainable or organic it is.

On the other hand, I can appreciate and work to understand their eating habits (as I hope mine are appreciated and understood). I don't believe it is realistic to assume that I can turn everyone vegan! And I don't believe that is my goal. My goal is for people to understand the food choices they are making and to become active participants in their decisions.....not lay back as spectators, like most Americans do.

I'll leave you with a thought that I got from an interview of Jonathan Safran Foer (author of "Eating Animals"). And that is that it is more important to ask people to take the first step, rather than promoting the last step. I.E. to a carnivorous average American.....I'd rather promote eliminating factory farmed animal products from their diets, rather than promote going vegan right away. I believe it is more realistic and more palatable to people to make baby steps. Even one less meal without animal products is a success in my eyes!


6 Easy Ways to Go Veggie by Dr. Weil

A bit of background about Dr. Weil...he has degrees in biology and medicine from Harvard University.  He has traveled around the world experiencing and studying healers and healing systems and has earned an international reputation as an expert on alternative medicine, mind-body interactions, and medical botany.  He is associate director of the Division of Social Perspectives in Medicine and the director of the Program in Integrative medicine at the University of Arizone in Tucson, where he practices natural and preventive medicine.  He is the author of seven books, including The Natural Mind, Health and Healing, Spontaneous Healing, and Eight Weeks to Optimum Health.

Dr. Weil says: "I have long advised people to eat less animal protein as a way to lower their intake of saturated fats and avoid environmental toxins. If you need some actionable ideas to get your family or yourself started on a lifestyle that reduces or eliminates animal protein, try the following":
  1. Use meat as a side dish, not as the entree.
  2. Prepare familiar meatless meals such as bean burritos and pasta salads.
  3. Eat meatless gradually. Start with meatless breakfasts and then incorporate meatless lunches as well.
  4. Substitute fresh vegetables for meat in recipes. Vegetarian chili can be just as delicious as the meat-based version.
  5. Try meat substitutes. Tempeh, wheat meat (gluten) and whole soy products such as tofu or edamame can be as satisfying as meat, and are good sources of vegetable protein.
  6. Try new types of cuisine. Many ethnic cuisines offer meat-free dishes; you may not miss the meat when you have new flavors to entice you!



And adorable little piglet.......soooooo cute. Enjoy this on a rainy Monday.

Foodie Vegan

Federico Garcia Lorca, a quote and a poem

A quote:

"The day that hunger is eradicated from the Earth there will be the greatest spiritual explosion the world has ever known. Humanity cannot imagine the joy that will burst into the world on the day of that great revolution."

A poem:

Beneath all the statistics
there is a drop of duck’s blood.
Beneath all the columns
there is a drop of sailor’s blood.
Beneath all the totals, a river of warm blood;
a river that goes singing,
past the bedrooms of the suburbs,
and the river is silver, cement, or wind
in the lying daybreak of New York.
The mountains exist, I know that.
And the lenses ground for wisdom,
I know that. But I have not come to see the sky,
the blood that sweeps the machines to the waterfalls,
and the spirit on the cobra’s tongue.
Every day they kill in New York
ducks, four million,
pigs, five million,
pigeons, two thousand, for the enjoyment of dying men,
cows, one million,
lambs, one million,
roosters, two million,
who turn the sky to small splinters.
You may as well sob filing a razor blade
or assassinate dogs in the hallucinated foxhunts,
as try to stop in the dawnlight
the endless trains carrying milk,
the endless trains carrying blood,
and the trains carrying roses in chains
for those in the field of perfume.
The ducks and the pigeons
and the hogs and the lambs
lay their drops of blood down
underneath all the statistics;
and the terrible bawling of the packed-in cattle
fills the valley with suffering
where the Hudson is getting drunk on its oil.
I attack all those persons
who know nothing of the other half,
the half who cannot be saved,
who raise their cement mountains,
in which the hearts of the small
animals no one thinks of are beating,
and from which we will all fall
during the final holiday of the drills.
I spit in your face.
The other half hears me,
as they go on eating, urinating, flying in their purity
like the children of janitors
who carry delicate sticks
to the holes where the antennas
of the insects are rusting.
This is not hell, it is a street.
This is not death, it is a fruit-stand.
There is a whole world of crushed rivers and unachievable distances
in the paw of a cat crushed by a car,
and I hear the song of the worm
in the heart of so many girls.
Rust, rotting, trembling earth.
And you are earth, swimming through the figures of the office.
What shall I do, set my landscapes in order?
Set in place the lovers who will afterwards be photographs,
Who will be bits of wood and mouthfuls of blood?
No, I won’t; I attack,
I attack the conspiring
of these empty offices
that will not broadcast the sufferings,
that rub out the plans of the forest,
and I offer myself to be eaten by the packed-up cattle
when their mooing fills the valley
where the Hudson is getting drunk on its oil.

Federico García Lorca, from Poeta en Nueva York (1929-1930)


Be Creative!

this day, this weekend, this month, this year, this lifetime...

Be creative
Be love
Be peace
Be adventure
Be abundant
Be thankful
Be energy
Be present
Be joy
Be wide-eyed

from the inspirational manifesto: Consumer or Creativist? by Olivia Sprinkel


Factory Faming Alternatives: Biodynamic Agriculture

I wanted to present a fairly uncommon practice of animal husbandry that is perhaps the best suited for a healthy planet.  If we are to keep domestic animals (let's face it, humans almost always have) the biodynamic agriculture school of thought believes in respecting and ultizing the innate character of these beings, for the improvement of the soil and their own lives.

Although biodynamic farming isn't inherently tied with meat-production, that is obviously a possible by-product, as reflected by Polyface Farms (owned by Joel Salatin, check out the extra features on Food, Inc where he discusses the exact roles each animal's animal-ness plays on the farm as a whole).  For those seeking factory farm alternatives, finding a biodynamic farmer in your area would be ideal.  These people are doing it right! They first and foremost focus on the health of the soil, since all else springs from there--The idea is to create a closed agricultural system where nothing from outside is brought in (fertilizer, antibiotics, feed, etc).  As Joel Salatin says, the farmer is the conductor, and the animals do all the work; for example they fertilize in synergy (the cows, chickens and pigs all have a place in the process).  In farms where vegetable crops are grown, it is also highly important to recognize what minerals are extracted and replenished into the soil by each type of plant so that rotating selected crops leads to the best possible soil composition.

Please read more in this fairly short article here. It's a very interesting practice, and is worth seeking a farmer of this discipline if you want ethically-raised (not humane) meat or if you think of yourself as an omnivorous environmental steward.

I accept this form of animal husbandry to be the best, since the system respects and values the health of the soil, the air, the water, the crops and the animals; and I understand and accept the fact that veganism is not for everyone, but I do believe that the current level of consumption of meat is completely out of proportion to our natural diet and that cutting back and embracing alternative, responsible husbandry practices could heal the soil, the air, the water and most importantly make better use of the land we've already destroyed for these industries rather than continue exploiting and annihilating ancient ecosystems for such a meager reason. 

Okay, I lost my breath!
I hope this bit of information helps you in your own quest to be conscious of your food choices and how they affect our world at large.

May all be loved, healed and fed and Mr. Robbins says!


Tofu and Spinach in Peanut Coconut Sauce

All I can say is YUM to this dish!! I found it in the January issue of Delicious Living (my local natural foods store disperses the magazine for free). My boyfriend and I were just in awe at how good this dish is and how much it tasted like it could be a dish in a Thai restaurant.......no more thai takeout for me! Enjoy!!!

1-13.5 oz can light or regular coconut milk
1/3 cup smooth, unsweetened peanut butter (I used sweetened, that's all I had)
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 bunch scallions thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 tsp brown sugar (I used coconut sugar and it was fine)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
juice of one large lime (I only had a lemon)
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 lb extra firm tofu cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large handfuls prewashed baby spinach (about 2.5 oz)
2 cups cooked brown basmati rice

1. Place first nine ingredients in slow cooker. Stir well to combine. Place tofu cubes in sauce. Cook on low setting for 2-3 hours.
2. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, place spinach in cooker. As leaves wilt, stir gently to incorporate into tofu mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls over rice.


Mighty and Tiny Flax Seeds

Today I would like to talk about one of my favorite seeds...flax seeds!!! I fell in love these a couple of years ago and I eat some every day. I usually sprinkle them on my food, some. For breakfast I use ground up flax seeds w/blackberry added to my oatmeal, which also includes fresh diced apple, raisins, agave nectar and cinnamon. For lunch and dinner, I just sprinkle them on top of my dish. One thing to watch out for: When you shop at the store for grounded flax seeds, make sure they are in the refrigerated section. This is very important because once the seeds are ground up, they start to loose their freshness if not refrigerated. If this is the case at your local market, it would help to let them know. I personally know of 2 markets whom have been told about this but still keep their ground up flax seeds not refrigerated. Some are harder to convince then others!

Now I will share some facts about flax seeds below. I got these from several websites, enjoy!!

Flax seed is one-third oil, the remainder consisting of fiber, protein and mucilage. In our salad dressing section, we have looked at the magical oil that comes from flax. Flax oil, when extracted with care, is one of the greatest sources of essential fatty acids. The protein in flax seeds is easily digested and contains all the amino acids needed for building a strong body. The fiber in flax acts as a broom sweeping the colon of toxic material, metabolic waste and dried mucus. Flax fiber is an excellent food for friendly bacteria in the intestine which keeps disease-causing organisms in check. Flax seed contains lignans that have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-cancer properties. Flax seeds have the richest source of lignans, 100 times more than the next best source, wheat bran. The majority of lignans is found in the seed, giving it an advantage over flax oil. Flax seed also contains lecithin which emulsifies fat and cholesterol. These little seeds improve digestion, help stabilize blood glucose levels, fight tumor formation and enhance cardiovascular health. Never purchase premade, ground flax. Grind your own flax seeds fresh in a coffee grinder and eat immediately. Info taken from: http://www.freedomyou.com/recipes/flax%20seed.htm

The flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet. And while it’s not technically a grain, it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids in flax leaves grains in the dust. Additionally, flax seed is very low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. And its combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance -- many dieters have found that flax seed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.

Note that a) flax seeds need to be ground to make the nutrients available (otherwise they just “pass through”) and b) flax seed oil alone contains neither the fiber nor the phytochemicals of whole flax seed meal.

Flax seed is high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese, but this little seed is just getting started. There are three additional nutrient groups which flax seed has in abundance, and each has many benefits.

Flax seed is Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are a key force against inflammation in our bodies. Mounting evidence shows that inflammation plays a part in many chronic diseases including heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and even some cancers. This inflammation is enhanced by having too little Omega-3 intake (such as in fish, flax, and walnuts), especially in relation to Omega-6 fatty acid intake (in such oils as soy and corn oil). In the quest to equalize the ratio of these two kinds of oils, flax seed can be a real help.

Most of the oil in flax seeds is alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an Omega-3 which is a precursor to the fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty cold-water fish (called EPA and DHA). Because not everyone is able to easily convert ALA into EPA and (especially) DHA, it is best not to rely solely on flax for your Omega-3 intake, but ALA also has good effects of its own, and definitely helps in the Omega 3/6 balance.

Flax Seed is High in Fiber: You’d be hard-pressed to find a food higher in fiber -- both soluble and insoluble -- than flax. This fiber is probably mainly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effects of flax. Fiber in the diet also helps stabilize blood sugar, and, of course, promotes proper functioning of the intestines.

Phytochemicals: Flax seed is high in phytochemicals, including many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances which tend to balance female hormones. There is evidence that lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly help prevent breast cancer. In addition, lignans may help prevent Type 2 diabetes. Info taken from: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/flaxinfo.htm

I hope this information was useful. Now go get some flax seeds!! You won't regret it!!


snorgling: an introduction

We've decided to kick-start the week by posting images of adorable animals. [AWESOME, since one can never get enough of them, right?] So, this week I'm presenting an example of inter-species snorgling* with photos of  yours truly and my beautiful blushing lovebird, Pig.

I think you'll all agree she's the cutest! We even made it on the infamous cuteoverload.com a couple of years back with this submish.  You can see a few more photos of my bebeh here. :)

Your homework for the week is to do some inter-species snorgling of your own. Now get to work!

*snorgle (v) To snorgle is to to snuggle a cute item in an manner meant to drink in or experience its overwhelming cuteness.


Deconstructing Dinner

I wanted to introduce all of you to an absolutely wonderful podcast I've come across called Deconstructing Dinner.  It's made in Canada (not that that's an issue, it's just cute to hear thing pronounced differently/appropriately every once in a while) and it centers on taking a closer look at the various aspects of our food system (farming, science, consumption, industry, small scale, individual and corporate responsibility, sustainability, history, etc). 
Each episode you will hear from different people involved in the food system debate, giving you a fresh take on a variety of subjects from various points of view.  I can't say enough good things about this podcast. It matters not if your a "v-person," omnivore, carnivore, locavore, zombie; the only thing that matters is that we all eat, and we all take part in this system so it's better if we know a bit more about it. 

I would recommend going to their list of episodes and picking whatever subject interests you the most. Then, you'll be hooked and my job will be done!  If you rather I just point you directly to an enlightening, uplifting episode, then here you go: The Food Revolution, and The Mad Cowboy.

Next week I'll dive into alternatives to factory farms so don't miss it if you want to be an informed eater!

in the words of John Robbins:
may all be loved. may all be healed. may all be fed.


Review of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver

I recently finished the above book and was both pleasantly pleased and violently displeased. Here are the liner notes:

Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life-vowing that, for one year, they'd only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

I did really enjoy most of this book. Living in urban Los Angeles, it felt like a nice escape everytime I picked up this book and got to read about Barbara working on her garden, tilling soil, harvesting veggies, cooking, etc. I sort of felt like I was transported about 100 years back to a time when Americans did used to grow their own food, live on a farm, feed themselves, etc. On the surface it seems like a "simple" way of life, yet it really is quite complex and multi-faceted. People who live and run on a farm are busy, overworked, tired, and frustrated, just like the rest of us. But they also end most days with a sense of accomplishment, a sense of taking care of their families, a sense of "getting back to basics", and just a general sense of understanding the circle of life and of being involved in the entire cycle of planting, growing, harvesting, and eating crops.

The book is organized in chapters that follow the calendar. It starts in late March and ends in late March, so we see the full cycle of what a sustainable home garden goes through. We also get a sense of what types of food are meant to be eaten in what time of year (at last in Appalacia where this family lives). Most of us don't really have an idea of when the seasons of certain fruits/veggies are because in most grocery stores (including places like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, etc) carry just about every kind of produce possible year round. Unless you are a die hard Farmers Market shopper, you wouldn't know when persimmon season, potato season, or tomato season is.

One thing I loved about this book is that there were lots and lots of recipes printed in the book (most easy to veganize, since they are mostly whole plant based dishes).

Now, my one issue with this book (of course) is that Kingsolver and her family eat meat. They even raise their own Heritage turkeys, chickens, etc. and kill them themselves. While I do not disrespect her choice to do this (we all have the freedom to make a choice), I disagree with her reasons for being a carnivore. Here are some excerpts directly from her book:

"I find myself fundamentally allied with a vegetarian position in every way except one: however selectively, I eat meat." *A big difference, eh Barbara?

"We raise these creatures for a reason." *What, to kill them? It seems that sensitivity and compassion to animals is lacking in this comment.

"To envision a vegan version of civilization, start by erasing from all time the Three Little Pigs, the boy who cried wolf, Charlotte's Web, the golden calf, Tess of the d'Urbervilles." *Here it appears the Kingsolver justifies eating animals and animal products so that we can have warm, fuzzy stories to read to our children? Does anyone else see the ridiculousness of this comment?

"Recently while I was coking eggs, my kids sat at the kitchen table entertaining me with readings from a magazine profile of a famous, rather young vegan movie star....What a life's work for that poor gal: traipsing about the farm in her strappy heels, weaving among the cow flops, bending gracefully to pick up eggs and stick them in an incubator where they would maddeningly hatch, and grow bent on laying more eggs. It's dirty work, trying to save an endless chain of uneaten lives. Realisticially, my kids observed, she'd hire somebody." *Here it seems that Kingsolver is putting herself (and other "struggling" and "hard working" people) on a pedestal and looking down on someone because she has money? I don't think this is fair. Just because someone is a "famous actress" does not mean that we, as the public, should dismiss her thoughts/beliefs as trite and unimportant. I believe that people are capable of being wealthy, famous, etc and also being able to make decisions that THEY choose to follow.

"They're human property, not just legally, but biologically." *I could not disagree more. The animals on this planet belong to Mother Earth, Patchamama, God, or whatever your set of beliefs call it. We all belong to each other.

"My animals all had a good life, with death as its natural end. It's not without thought and gratitude that I slaughter my own animals, it is a hard thing to do. It's taken me time to be able to eat my own lambs that I had played with." *I have all kinds of problems with these comments. Killing an animal (to me) is not a natural end.

"I would venture to say that 75% of the vegans/vegetarians who stayed at least a week here began to eat our meat or animal products, simply because they see what I am doing as right-for the animals, for the environment, for humans." *The only thing I'll say here is that I'd like to be able to stay there for a week and see how I feel. I don't think that I would go back to eating meat.

"Yes, I am a person who raises some animals for the purpose of whacking them into cuts of meat to feed my family. But this work has made me more sympathetic, not less, toward the poor wretches that have to live shoulder-to-shoulder with their breathren waiting for the next meal of stomach-corriding porridge." *Ok, so she feels bad and sympathizes for the factory farmed animals.....what about for her animals? Does their death not affect her?

Those are all my thoughts today on this book. You can get more information about this book on www.animalvegetablemiracle.com.

31-Day Detox

Happy New Year! Foodie Vegan here. I didn't cook much this week......except for an attempt at some vegan chocolate pudding, that didn't turn out very well. So I don't have any wonderful food recipes or pictures to share today, but I do have an interesting article I read in the Jan 2010 Better Nutrition magazine.

I am not one that is really into "detoxes", but as I read this closer, I really just looked at it like a handful of really good tips that you can choose to integrate in your life. A lot of these things are aligned with our vegan, and eco-friendly backgrounds, so I felt it was appropriate to share today!

This is an excerpt from the book Whole Body Cleansing by Gaetano Morello, ND. He believes it is important to minimize toxic exposure, optimize overall health, and improve your body's energy production.

Day 1-Get rid of toxic household cleaners and find natural replacements.

Day 2-Reduce the use of toxic beauty products. Use products that are made with only natural ingredients.

Day 3-Get a good air filter to reduce the amount of toxins that are recirculated throughout your home.

Day 4-Make sure the water you drink is purified.

Day 5-Everyday drink 2-3 8 oz glasses of water, each with the juice of a half squeezed lemon (adds some extra Vitamin C).

Day 6-Replenish good bacteria in the intestinal tract with live, active probiotics. Not sure if this is vegan, hmmmm. I don't really know much about probiotics.

Day 7-Supporting digestive processes with pancreatic/digestive enzymes is an effective way to improve digestion.

Day 8-To improve the quality and quantity of mucin (a viscous liquid that protects the integrity of the intestinal cells and also protects them from the acidic environment of the stomach), DGL is probably the best ingredient available. *I have also heard that DGL is a good natural alternative to Tums/Rolaids.

Day 9-Optimize bowel health by geting enough fiber in your diet.

Day 10-Get plenty of antioxidants to help combat free radicals and celular damage.

Day 11-If you choose to detox, supplement yourself with 100-200 milligrams of CoQ10 per day to enhance overall energy production (as detoxification expends a lot of your energy).

Day 12-Support the liver in its daily detoxification work with milk thistle, turmeric, artichoke extract, and dandelion root.

Day 13-The best way of reducing toxic metals is to ensure optimal glutathione levels in the body. This can be attained through taking milk thistle.

Day 14-Incorporate daily exercise into your routine.

Day 15-Go for smaller portions. Reducing overall body fat helps the body release stored toxins.

Day 16-Eat at home. You will ingest less chemicals and added preservatives.

Day 17-Become aware of the foods you consume. Eat organic and whole foods.

Day 18-IF you are going to be eating meat (or are working on decreasing your meat consumption), begin shifting to organically grown meat free of hormones and chemical additives.

Day 19-Avoid or reduce consumption of alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, hot chocolate, refined carbs, sugar, chemical additives, preservatives, processed meats, fried foods, trans fat, and artificial sweeteners, dyes, colors, and flavors.

Day 20-Trans fat is by far the worst type of fat. Read labels and rid your fridge/pantry of items that contain trans fats.

Day 21-Dietary fiber is crucial for binding toxin-laden bile and carrying it out of the body. Add more fiber to your diet.

Day 22-Include high-quality omega 3 fish oils in your diet. *NOT vegan.

Day 23-Reduce your consumption of sugar and consume more complex carbs.

Day 24-Eat ample amounts of fresh, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, which have naturally occurring antioxidants that act as direct antioxidants and support the production of glutathione.

Day 25-Eat 1/2 cup per day of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, and rapini.

Day 26-Eat one clove of garlic per day and a handful of cooked onions.

Day 27-Eat an orange a day.

Day 28-Eat red fruits. They contain ellagic acid, a phenolic compound that has some excellent detoxification properties.

Day 29-Eat 1/2 cup (combined) of liver-friendly foods. These include artichokes, dandelions, beets.

Day 30-Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of purified water daily.

Day 31-Get your beauty sleep. 7-8 hours per night is optimal.


Meatless Monday Original Recipe: Sweet Sage and Ginger Buckwheat Soba Noodles

Happy Tuesday to all! I would like to share a homemade recipe I came up with one lucky day...quantities are really up to you. I don't measure much...

buckwheat soba noodles
yellow onion
fresh garlic
green cabbage
fresh sage
fresh ginger
soy sauce
maple syrup

Sauté yellow onion along w/chopped garlic and then add zucchini. Then add buckwheat soba noodles (I bought these pre-cooked) and cook some more....continue by adding chopped green cabbage, then follow by nutmeg, soy sauce and maple syrup. Last but not least, add finely chopped or grated ginger and sage. Don't over cook or else the taste and nutritional value might both be weakened. I wish I had taken a picture of it!!

Bon appetite!


Happy New Vegan Year!!

Yesterday we celebrated the new year with some jello shots! No just kidding!! Our friends brought over jello like shots made of agar, or agar agar which is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed. Historically and in a modern context, it is chiefly used as an ingredient in desserts throughout Japan. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar) They made cranberry vodka and tequila sunrise, some of them in shot glasses and some in 1/2 sliced orange peels.

We also shared many vegan dishes including homemade basil and walnut bread made by my boyfriend (using our new bread maker), mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and walnuts, Israeli couscous, black beans, tofu scramble, fiana (an Argentine/Italian thin pizza-like crust, recipe link below), Foodie Vegan's Artichoke Canapes (for recipe check blog from 12/23), Mushroom and Walnut Pate and more....

We played the game Cranium and have many good laughs. It was a wonderful time shared with wonderful people. A great way to end 2009 and start 2010!!!

Happy new year to all!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!