Do You Have 12 Minutes?

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I finally watched the PETA video, “Meet Your Meat”, a compilation of undercover footage taken from factory farms and slaughterhouses.  Alec Baldwin does the narration. I went vegan after learning about the cruelty to animals in factory farms where the vast majority of the animals used for food in this country are bred, confined and killed.  I’ve watched many movies and read countless books on the subject but until today I couldn’t bring myself to watch this short video.   It is as graphic and sad and disturbing as I feared it would be.  I’m glad I watched it, and I want to encourage you to do the same.

These factory “farms” and slaughterhouses are tucked away in rural areas for good reason.   Visitors are not welcome at factory farms and slaughterhouses for good reason.   The factory farming industry is banking on the fact that if we can’t see what is happening behind the windowless walls we’ll assume that nothing is happening.  They know an awful lot about human nature.    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. And the poor animals continue to suffer in the most horrific ways.

But I also know that it is in our human nature is to be kind to animals.  Most people I know profess to love animals.  We naturally turn away when we see animals being mistreated or in pain because it hurts our hearts.   But refusing to see or acknowledge the truth about where our food comes from doesn’t make the cruelty any less horrific or real.

Please watch the video.  It will only take twelve minutes of your time.

The link is here.

 

 

 

Recipe of the Week

Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus!

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I’ve been on a huge hummus kick.  My go-to lunch of late has been a tortilla slathered  with hummus and topped with roasted red peppers (from the jar) and lot of greens.  I realized recently that the tub of “Garlic Lovers” hummus I had been buying isn’t organic and I decided to try a new brand.  I found this at Whole Foods:

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I’d been specifically looking for a jalapeño/cilantro flavor so I decided to give this a try.  Turns out this was way too spicy for me.  Between that and the fact that these eight ounces cost over six dollars (!) I decided it was finally time to make my own hummus.  I picked a recipe from the Hungry Healthy Girl blog.  This isn’t a vegan blog but there is a nice collection of vegan recipes. You can link to this hummus recipe here.

These are all the ingredients you need:
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To make the hummus you just process the ingredients for a minute or two and it’s done.  Doesn’t get much easier than that!  For this recipe I took out all the seeds and ribs in the jalapeños.  The hummus is slightly spicy but the heat doesn’t overpower the cilantro, lemon and garlic.  It’s a good balance for me, but you can also easily play around with the ingredients to suit your taste.

I’m hooked.  I’m done.  Homemade hummus all the way…

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan in Phoenix

David and I spent the last few days up in Phoenix.  He was busy with  continuing education courses all day, so I decided to visit with my sons, hike in the gorgeous Phoenix Mountain Preserve and check out the vegan eats.   I did a little advance research (thanks happycow.net) and we had some great meals.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to be vegan in Phoenix.

We were staying at the Hyatt Regency downtown which has its own Einstein Bagels.  Bagels with peanut butter and soy lattes for breakfast.  Okay so it was a little white flour/sugar-laden but we were just glad that we didn’t have to wander out at 6 am to find something to eat.  Never mind, it was delish.

When I lived in Scottsdale, downtown Phoenix was in a bit of a sorry state foodwise.  In recent years though, ASU has moved several of its schools to the downtown campus and restaurants are opening all over the place.  There was a totally different vibe.  I met David for lunch on the first day at a casual salad place called “Bowl of Greens”:

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As you might expect, a place like this has lots of vegan options as well as a juice bar.  We ordered up some green juice (to offset the bagel and Jif breakfast), and I had a falafel wrap and David had a mediterranean platter with the usual assortment of falafel, hummus and baba ganoush.  Tasty and filling. Their website is here.

For dinner we scoped out a tapas place on the “waterfront” (canal actually) near Old Town Scottsdale called “Tapas Papa Frita”, (website here) and Michael met us there.  I checked out the menu in advance and was pretty sure we could piece together enough small plates for dinner.  It was a gorgeous evening and we sat out on the lovely patio:

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Michael chose a few non-veg items, but we all shared chipotle hummus with toast, mushrooms in sherry sauce, eggplant, pepper and tomato over toast, chickpea and spinach dip and veggie paella.  Except for the noise of the flamenco dancers inside (what a racket!) it was really delightful.  Our two bottles of Malbec made for a pricey dinner but the food was good and the company was great.  I would recommend it.

On day two, I headed out to hike with Sam and Deacon (the granddog).  We had a great time, and the mountain preserve was in full bloom and gorgeous.  After the hike, with dog in tow, we headed over to Chipotle (is that ever not a good idea when you’re vegan?) and I chowed down on my favorite, the Sofritas (spicy braised tofu) salad.  Yum.

For dinner, David and I returned to an entirely vegan place called “Green”:

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I love when I am able to order anything on a menu ( The vegan folks out there definitely know what I mean!). We started with hummus and spring rolls. David had a Kung Pao bowl and I had a tofu peanut salad.  This place is very casual and the food is tasty. You can take at look at their menu here.

But our favorite vegan find of the weekend had to be the “Pomegranate Cafe”. This fantastic vegan restaurant was conveniently located on our drive home to Tucson, right off the I-10.  The drive from Phoenix to Tucson is pretty much a  vegan wasteland (i.e. have those Lara Bars handy) so we were thrilled to discover this restaurant just 20 minutes south of downtown Phoenix.  Pomegranate Cafe is located in a strip mall (like most things in Phoenix) and here’s a photo of the outside:
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This cafe has a huge menu of juices, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, bowls and salads.  The place was hopping, and there was a really diverse crowd.  We sat inside and opted for waiter service (you can order at the counter).  We started with green juice, then I ordered the “Athena bowl” (kale, hummus, falafel and other crisp veggies) and David tried the jackfruit sliders which were delicious.  We had been meaning to try jackfruit which is a common ingredient in vegan shredded barbecue sandwiches.     I’m definitely going  to track down some cans of jackfruit and try making this dish myself.

We travel frequently from Tucson to Phoenix, and I’m thrilled that we found this fantastic eatery en route.  If you want to read more about the Pomegranate Cafe you can check out their website here.

Unlike our last trip to Las Vegas, this visit to Phoenix was full of good times and good vegan eating.  Another reason to love Arizona :)

Plant Pure Nation- Let’s Go!

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For too long, the people and organizations profiting from our poor health have controlled the information given to the public. Most people have no idea of the enormous control they have over their health. The only way to reach these people in an environment controlled by special interests is through a grassroots, bottom-up approach.

The above quote is taken from the Plant Pure Nation website.

I just donated to my first ever kickstarter campaign and I was proud to do it.  The amazing folks who created this documentary are looking for additional funding to expand their film’s release in the United States.   We’ve known for a long time that a whole foods, plant-based diet is the optimal choice for good health.  The movie, “Forks Over Knives” showed how a plant-based, whole foods diet can reverse heart disease and eliminate a host of  “lifestyle” diseases that are rampant in our society.  If you haven’t seen Forks Over Knives you can download it here.

If such compelling evidence exists, why haven’t we heard about it?  Such important information should be front page news and part of every discussion with health care providers.  Yet it is not.  Plant Pure Nation addresses this extremely important issue.

I agree that a “grassroots, bottom-up approach” is the only way to make significant change. Please go to the Plant Pure Nation  website, read about their mission and consider contributing to the kickstarter campaign.  You can link to it all here.

Let’s start raising awareness together.

Some Good News

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As an ethical vegan living in our world, I can feel very stressed and sad.   Once I got to a place of believing that breeding animals for the purpose of killing them for our own pleasure was morally wrong, I’ve been on a journey of figuring out how to live comfortably in our society with others who feel differently than I do.  Trips to the mall and restaurants, watching television and visiting with friends and family all have the potential to make me feel sad and frustrated with the enormity of the changes that need to happen in order to help the animals, the planet and ourselves.

According to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, an animal advocate and author of many books about veganism, there are “stages” of being vegan, and feeling outrage, sadness and isolation are typical steps in the journey.  Colleen is a role model for me.  She is a compassionate truth teller who is a force for positive change.  She has found a way to unapologetically communicate what she believes and at the same time bring compassion to every interaction she has.  If you’d also like to be inspired by Colleen, you can visit her website here.

For me, meditation, hiking in nature and seeking out like-minded people all mitigate the “vegan in a non-vegan world” stress I can feel.  But recently I discovered another way to find balance, and that is to not only pay attention to all the bad news out there, but also to pay attention to the good news.  The seeds of change are all around us.

Today I’d like to call your attention to an article from the Washington Post online that David forwarded to me a few days ago.  The title is

Can This Company Do Better Than The Egg?

The article is about the California-based company, Hampton Creek (their logo is pictured above).  The mission of the three enterprising vegan owners is to create a plant-based egg substitute.  If the name of this company sounds familiar to you it’s because they already produce “better than egg” products like these:

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What’s I find so compelling about this company is that their intention is to compete for a major piece of the mainstream food services industry. Their ultimate goal is not to create a successful niche business, but to work with large companies that might be open to replacing eggs in their products.  As we all know, if companies like Kraft and General Mills can make their products more cheaply without compromising taste they will do it.  I’m intrigued by how these guys are trying to use free market economics to further their vegan agenda.  It’s such a bold strategy. There is much about what these entrepreneurs are doing that is exciting, and if their vision becomes a reality, it could have a large negative impact on the demand for eggs which will help both the chickens and the environment.  To read the entire Washington Post article, click here.

I know many people who are very conscious about where they buy their eggs and I even know some folks who raise their own chickens. I see this as a positive step, certainly when compared to factory farming situations, but what happens when these same folks buy snack foods or eat out?  The eggs (factory-farmed to be sure) are absolutely everywhere.  I know, because I spend a lot of time reading labels these days.  The idea that there’s a product in the pipeline that might change all this is indeed very good news.

I will continue to keep a look out for inspiring and encouraging news from the vegan world and share it with my readers.  But I’d also love to hear from you.

Do you have any good news to share?

The Veal/Dairy Connection

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Do you know anyone who eats veal?  I don’t.  Consumption of veal in the United States has indeed fallen dramatically over the last few decades.  Back in the 1980’s  horrendously cruel veal farming practices were broadly and publicly exposed.  Once the public learned of these atrocities many people gave up veal for good.  This is excellent.  The fewer baby cows torn from their mothers at birth, crated or penned, fattened up and inhumanely slaughtered the better.

I imagine that many folks reading this opening paragraph are nodding along and feeling glad that they at one time decided to stop eating veal.  It surely does feel good to connect with our compassionate natures.

Before going vegan I never ate veal, mostly because I didn’t like it.  What I’ve learned over the last several months, however, is that the veal industry is a complete by-product of the dairy industry.  Not only did I not know that, but I’m realizing that most people I share it with don’t know it either.  And several of these people stopped eating veal for ethical reasons years ago.

Here’s how the system works.  In order for female cows to lactate they need to continually become pregnant and give birth.  I know that seems obvious but who really thinks about it? The cows are forcibly impregnated and they give birth approximately once a year.  So, what happens to their babies?  In factory farm operations where most of our milk is produced, all of the babies are removed from their mothers (their milk is for our consumption after all) right after they are born.  The female calves will live the same lives as their mothers giving birth and producing milk until they can’t physically do it anymore (they will then probably become hamburger meat), and the male babies will most likely be sent to veal farms where conditions may be only marginally better than they were back in the 1980’s.

I read a bunch of articles about the dairy/veal connection and it’s incredibly bleak and sad.  Ultimately there’s no avoiding the fact that every veal calf is born to a dairy cow mother.  In my online search I found that some veal producers actively promote the dairy/veal connection suggesting that by eating veal we are indeed supporting the dairy industry. Check out this excerpt taken the Strauss Farms website (click here for the link)

Q: How does group raised veal support the dairy industry?
A: Dairy cows must calve every year in order to maintain milk production. Heifer (female) calves, are raised to re-enter the herd as milking cows. Bull (male) calves, provide little to no value to dairy farmers. The formula-fed veal industry evolved by utilizing a by-product of the cheese industry (whey) and a by-product of the dairy industry (bull calves). The flavor and texture of meat from dairy breeds is not desirable, and therefore they are not typically marketed as beef. Raising them as veal supports the dairy industry, which provides us with delicious ice cream, lattes, and cheese.

Happy veal and lots of lattes.  I’ll pass on the whole unholy alliance.

Recipe of the Week

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Divine shredded kale salad!

I’m calling this my recipe of the week but we had it twice this week and I have bunches of kale all ready to go for round three. It’s that good.  This recipe is from Oh She Glows (thanks for another great one Angela!) and you can take a look at it here.

I was drawn to this recipe not only because the ingredient list is full of stuff I like (pecans and dried cranberries) but also because it was inspired by a salad at True Food Cafe up by my old stomping ground in Scottsdale.  My two sons still live up there and I’ve been planning to stop by True Food when I’m visiting next week.  Any mention of Tucson, Scottsdale, Phoenix or Arizona gets my attention.  I live in paradise!  So back to this simple, but elegant salad…

You know, I’m not really a kale lover but I am committed to having lots of it in my diet.  The nutritional benefits are just too good.  I juice with it daily and throw it into soups and most salads.  But in this salad the kale is the star of the show.  The dressing is a simple garlic lemon vinaigrette.  Those crunchy sprinkles are a “pecan parmesan” made with toasted pecans, nutritional yeast, salt and a bit of oil.  The kale is shredded (how I like it best), dressed with the vinaigrette, sprinkled with lots of the crunchy pecan mix and topped with the cranberries.  The trick though is to dress the salad a few hours before eating to let the flavors come together and let the kale soften up some.  Wouldn’t want to do that with iceberg lettuce or romaine–you’d have a soggy mess.  Score another one for kale!

Whether you enjoy this salad as a main dish with some crusty bread, as a side with some soup or loaded into a tortilla for a lunch wrap I promise you won’t be disappointed.  And your body will love you for it.

 

No More Show and Tell

I made an adorable baby sweater and I started to write a post about it.  Here’s a picture of the sweater:

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I loved making this sweater for my friend’s new granddaughter.  I’m sure the baby will look adorable in this.  I hope they all love it.  Enough said.

As I was writing the blog post about the sweater I realized that it wasn’t what I really wanted to write about.  It’s fun to make something, post about it and have readers offer up compliments.  That feels great.  And while I still spend a great deal of time in various creative activities, this is not what I’m thinking about.  I’m thinking about veganism.  Regular readers of this blog probably do not think that this is a great big “reveal”.  After all, veganism is pretty much all I’ve been writing about for months.  And here’s why…

My veganism is not a “diet”– it’s a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle centered around the idea that it is morally wrong to enslave, torture and murder animals.  It is a lifestyle that reflects a true concern for the environment and sustainability. It’s a lifestyle that means I take responsibility for my own health to the very best of my ability.  Veganism is about kindness and compassion.  And I want to write about that.

So far in my own journey I’ve learned how to cook great vegan food, and I’ve shared many favorite dishes.  While there’s an element of “show and tell” about that, I will continue to do this with the hope that others might feel inclined to give veganism a try.  My dearest friend, Lisa, followed my vegan journey on this blog.  She started reading books and watching movies and in a matter of months went vegan.  I feel very grateful that both my husband and best friend are vegan.  The support is invaluable.  I hope to provide that support to others who might not have their nearest and dearest on board.

So far this all sounds pretty “kumbaya” but being vegan in the world often feels nothing like that.  With the exception of my daughter, members of my immediate family and family of origin have expressed little to no interest in my being vegan even though it is central to my life.  I have one friend who, upon hearing I was now vegan (no details, just that), completely shut down the conversation.  I haven’t heard from her since.  I want to write openly about this painful reality and help others navigate these challenges.  Understanding is not always found in the places we expect but it is always worth seeking.

I know I want to make a difference for the animals and the planet.  Being vegan and encouraging others to do the same is how I can do that today.  Topically, I’m not sure what I will be writing about next, but I do know that I will write from the heart and speak my truth.  And I doubt it will be all sweetness and light. After all, what’s happening with the animals, the environment and our collective health is painful, destructive and scary.

As I write about these things I expect that I will often feel very vulnerable.  And at times my words might unintentionally cause defensiveness in others.   I’m willing to accept that reality.

I hope you will join me on this journey toward greater kindness and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe of the Week

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We’ve been vegan for several months now, and little by little we replaced old favorite dishes with new favorite dishes. We’ve figured out how to throw quickie meals together, eat one dish for three days and even entertain a bit.  It’s really been quite a tasty adventure.

While I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for cooking great vegan food, I have settled into a bit of a comfortable cooking routine.  This is a very good thing.  I love that being vegan has become second nature–my pantry is stocked with most of what I need, and I no longer spend hours wandering around Whole Foods trying to find various ingredients.  The fifteen minute food shop has finally become a reality!

That being said, at least once or twice a week I deliberately try some new recipes, both to keep learning and to inject some variety into our diet. So rather than continue with the “what we had for dinner today” approach (um, you’ve already seen most of what we’ve been eating for dinner lately) on this blog, I decided to offer up one recipe each week that we think is worth sharing. And that brings us to this delicious Italian Apple Cake. DSCN2472 Last night we had friends over for dinner and the menu included lasagna, caesar salad (both from Oh She Glows) and some crusty bread.  I wanted to find a simple, not too sweet, non-chocolate (one of our guests couldn’t eat chocolate) cake that would work well with the rest of the meal.  I settled on another recipe from Chloe Coscarelli and you can find it here.

If you tend to keep apples around (the cake only uses 3) you probably have all the ingredients you need to throw this together.  You layer some thinly sliced apples on the bottom of the pan (that odd crinkly design on mine is from the parchment paper–bring on the powdered sugar!) and press the batter on top.  The batter really has more of dough-like consistency but the apples give off lots of moisture as the cake cooks.  The recipe doesn’t specify what kind of apples to use so I used granny smith.  This worked out well texture-wise and didn’t make the cake too sweet.

This fruity and light cake was just enough after a filling meal.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’m looking forward to sharing more “recipes of the week”.  Please stay tuned…

But Wait, There’s More!

In case you were as bored by the Oscars as I was last night (really dreadful), I offer you another really great show from the beautiful birds in my yard.  My awards to go…

Goldfinch, for the best feeder dancing:

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Taking a well-deserved bow:

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Hummingbird for most dainty drinking.  Down…

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And up!

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And down…

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And up!

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Oh, and the hummingbird also gets a nod for best-dressed (those are REAL feathers!)

And finally the award for best “park and bark” offering…

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Keep singing, my friend.

Happy Monday all!