Tag Archives: vegan

Guest Blogger: Kitwocky – Entertaining, Vegan-Style: Spring Brunch

27 Nov

Who doesn’t like a good party? Gail, author of the blog Kitwocky has a post about vegan-style entertaining. Here she is in her own words, “When I decided to write a blog, knowing that my husband and daughter would likely end up in the posts from time to time, I consulted them to see whether they preferred that I use our real identities or something a bit more anonymous.  They voted for the latter.  My daughter, who was 10 at the time, requested the name “Queen Cobra.”  That will be her full name in these posts, but I’ve also given her the nickname “Queenie,” for ease of typing.  My husband will simply be known as Mr. Man.

That left me.  The title of this blog is also my alter ego:  Kitwocky.  The Kitwocky is a  mythical creature that was born from Queenie’s imagination.  It is a distant cousin of the Jabberwocky, but much friendlier (the Kitwocky is vegan, and while it might look fearsome with its sharp teeth, it prefers to work out its problems nonviolently).

This is the first in a short series of posts I put up featuring vegan entertaining. The reason: I want the world to be clear, just in case it’s not, that vegan entertaining can be every bit as delicious and stylish and fun as its non-vegan counterparts.”

 

Follow Gail’s adventures on her blog, and Twitter. Welcome Gail!

For the next couple of posts, I’m going to go through some old photos to showcase a few of the parties I’ve hosted in the past. The reason: I want the world to be clear, just in case it’s not, that vegan entertaining can be every bit as delicious and stylish and fun as its non-vegan counterparts. More so, really, because vegan gatherings are, by definition, compassionate affairs. In these party posts, I want to convey what I feel deeply, which is that a vegan lifestyle is one of abundance and joy, not one of deprivation. And I can assure you that all of my non-vegan friends thoroughly enjoyed themselves!

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The party in these pics was a Spring Brunch that we hosted at our home in Venice, California. I adore brunch, and serving brunch to friends is one of my favorite ways to entertain. It’s always a low-key, relaxed atmosphere, and I’ve worked out a menu that is made entirely in advance, allowing me to have fun with my guests.

Here is the food, ready for people to arrive.

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I made several things from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book, Vegan Brunch (a fantastic book!), including the broccoli quiche and tempeh sausage crumbles. I dipped into another of Isa’s books, Appetite for Reduction, and served a delicious quinoa salad with balsamic vinaigrette (so delicious that people asked for the dressing recipe). There’s also fresh fruit salad and a couple of varieties of muffins (at this event, it was the Peach Ginger Muffins from the Babycakes cookbook, as well as my Sage Blue Corn Muffins (the recipe for which is in a prior blog post)).

Here’s the spread after people started digging into it.

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As for the beverages, there was the non-alcoholic: fresh iced mint tea…

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… and an assortment of alcoholic things, for those so inclined. There are plenty of vegan wine options – you just have to do a little research or have a vegan-friendly wine shop nearby.

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We also had a couple of special offerings for the kids. First was Queenie’s cinnamon apple slices (just raw apples, cut up and tossed in cinnamon powder) served with a sweet peanut butter spread of her own creation. This station turned out to be just as popular with the adults as the kids.

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And we had some fun bubbles and sidewalk chalk to play with (also popular with adults).

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And the grand finale: the crazy awesome donuts from Babycakes. We picked up the chocolate glazed and the cinnamon-sugar sprinkled. They were both huge hits.

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I look forward to hosting my first Pacific Northwest brunch, and while I will miss the donuts, I’m excited to substitute treats from Violet Sweet Shoppe!

I hope this inspires you to host a fun party of your own. Getting people together and serving them tasty food is always the recipe for a good time.

Enjoy! xo

 

Guest Blogger: In the Mood for Noodles: Toby’s Singapore Noodles

15 Jul

There must be something in the water in Australia, because we have a few great bloggers from there. Please welcome vegan couple Kristy and Toby, co-authors of In the Mood for Noodles. Here they are in their own words, “We are a vegan couple in Melbourne who met at a vegan society brunch in Hong Kong. K went vegan approximately 9 years ago and Toby about 8 years ago. K has a sweet tooth and after a year of testing including 2 biopsies (the first one was negative) was finally diagnosed with coeliac’s disease in December 2010. K still struggles with missing gluteny items like good bread, but is slowly adapting to her new diet and looking forward to improved health as a result. Toby is originally from HK, quite active and obsessed with high protein food and coffee. Our blog In the Mood for Noodles is gluten free from Feb 2011 onwards, we blog about recipes we have tried, restaurant reviews and occasionally post pictures of our cat.”

Follow In the Mood for Noodles on: Twitter (Kristy). Welcome Toby and Kristy!

Singapore style noodles are not from Singapore but are actually from Hong Kong. Toby has been playing around with this recipe for a while and this is our favourite version so far and is my latest savoury obsession. I would have it every night if I could but Toby is being the voice of reason and reminded me that with all of the frying it is isn’t the healthiest. I love that it’s mild enough that we can eat it but spicy enough to have just a little bit of kick. I always add more soy sauce to mine because I love salty food so feel free to play around with it to suit your tastes. We use whatever veggies we have in the food co-op box and generally use greens but didn’t have any today.

1.5 tablespoon of sesame seeds, toasted

1 packet of 454 grams (16oz) rice noodles (we use Kong Moon rice sticks)

2 packets of 300 grams fried firm tofu, sliced into strips (we use yensons)

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1  medium capscisum, sliced

1 onion, sliced

2-3 tablespoons of curry powder

a pinch to 1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (start with less)

1/4 cup of vegetable stock

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

a splash of sesame oil

a splash of G/F soy sauce

tumeric powder (optional for colour)

salt and white pepper to taste

  1. Soak rice noodles in enough hot water to cover until they are soft, roughly 20 minutes.
  2. Marinate tofu, carrots and capsicum in splash of sesame oil and soy sauce and with the chilli flakes for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Toast sesame seeds in dry pan and put to side.
  4. Fry onion until soft in vegetable oil, add curry powder and fry until it is combined and fragrant.
  5. Add tofu and vegies to fry pan and fry until vegetables are soft.
  6. Drain rice noodles, rinse with cold water and add to pan.
  7. Mix well and add stock.Stir and fry until stock is absorbed.
  8. Add salt (or soy sauce) and white pepper to taste. Serve with sesame seeds and sesame oil.

Ideally you should cook everything on high in a wok, if you have a small frypan or wok you might want to half this recipe. We have a gigantic frypan but look at how full it is without the noodles:

Serves 4-6. Toby is a big eater so it only serves 4 in our household but could serve 6 regular eaters. We always make enough for 4 so we can have leftovers for lunch the following day.

Chef suggestion: enjoy with pu-erh tea or cola

Enjoy!

Guest Blogger: Steps in Stilettos – How I became vegan

27 Mar
Hey everyone! Put your hands together for our newest contributor Jamie, author of the blog Steps in Stilettos. Her post is about her journey into veganism.  Join Jamie on her blog, facebook page, and Twitter account. Welcome Jamie!
A little bit about how I discovered a plant-based lifestyle was when I first decided to become a vegetarian at the age of fifteen and I really started thinking about where my food came from and what I was eating.   I was in high school taking biology class and our assignment was to disect different types of insects and animals.  Looking at the insides of animals got me thinking about what exactly I was eating.  The thought made me nauseaus and I came home to declare to my parents that I was going to become a vegetarian.  Of course, they were shocked, as no one we knew ate this way.  They had no idea what to feed me and I mostly ate cereal, as I also didn’t really know what to eat.  I took a multivitamin every day because I was convinced by others that I couldn’t possible be getting adequate nutrition as a vegetarian.  However, this transition for me personally, aside from being controversial, was relatively easy because I didn’t change the way I ate, I really just cut out all forms of meat and replaced them with cheese versions.  I could still go to family and friends’ homes for dinner and was always able to eat some part of what was being served.  At restaurants, I even still had some variety of choices.  I remained vegetarian through college and began discovering the new tofu based meat substitutes that were more actively coming on the market.   However, like many Americans, I still had no clue about nutrition and what vitamins and minerals my body needed to thrive.  I was really just trying to eat as “normally” as possible while still holding onto my values.
It wasn’t until age 28 that I discovered and opened myself up to the vegan and plant-based worlds.  I remember I was stuck in the airport at work and my boss actually recommended that I read “Skinny Bitch,” a new and controversial book that had just come out, since he knew I was vegetarian.  Since I was already bored, I immediately went into the airport bookstore and bought the book.  Do you ever believe that certain moments happen for a reason?  As I get older, I believe in this more and more.   I read almost half of the book before I arrived home that night, addicted to the pages and hungry for more information!  What this book opened my eyes to was the fact that dairy cows are subjected to huge amounts of pain and suffering and that by consuming milk and dairy, I was still contributing to animal creutly.  What’s more is that I learned that animals products were actually bad for us, a completely new idea to me, and that much more nutrition could be obtained from plant-based foods.    This revelation sent me on my path to reading more books about plant-based nutrition from authors like Dr. Barnard, Christina Pirello, Dr. Esselstyn, T. Colin, Campbell, Alicia Silverstone, and more!  I kept wanting to learn more and more because this paradigm shift in thinking was fascinating to me and so different from anything I was taught growing up.  I even took classes through Cornell University in their Plant-Based Nutrition Program to earn a Certificate.  The classes and lecturers in that program are amazing and were able to give me detailed answers to everything I ever wanted to know, such as links to animal protein and diseases like cancer, how different vitamins and nutrients act in our bodies and why plant-based eating is the healthiest diet.   By surrounding myself with information and different support groups through the classes and online community, it gave me the confidence to stick with the diet and the information I needed to continue on my path of healthy living.  I love life and I want to enjoy it as much as I am able.  To me, that doesn’t necessarily mean trying to outlive everyone, it means living the days that I have with as much energy to do the things I want to do and to experience life without being sick, stuck on medicine, or in the hospital for treatments.
Becoming plant-based has changed my life for the better!  As a child and young adult, I suffered from relatively severe allergies and asthma.  I was in the hospital at least once a year for breathing treatments, had to carry an inhaler everywhere with me, and was dependent on taking allergy pills for most days of the year.   Being sick as a young child made me believe that I would be dependant on medicine for the rest of my life.  When I cut out meat products at the age of fifteen, I noticed an improvement in my asthma and allergies.  I was able to play outside and run without having an asthma attack.  I see the correlation now, but as a young adult, everyone just told me I was “growing out of my asthma” and that’s what I believed.  However, as soon as I cut out dairy products, my allergies and asthma disappeared!  I currently have no need for allergy pills and I don’t even own an inhaler!  It is so freeing being able to even say that, as I never thought it would be a possibility for me.  Asthma attacks and weazing are a distant memory of my past and something I don’t see myself having to deal with again.  These days, I feel energetic, vibrant and healthy and can be as active as I want!  It’s truly amazing!  I have taken control of my health simply by the foods that I choose to put into my mouth everyday!

Guest Blogger: Rachel in Veganland – Not Skinny

15 Feb

It always makes me happy to see another lover of Alice in Wonderland. Everyone, please meet Rachel, she is the author of Rachel in Veganlnd and this is her first guest blog post. Here’s a bit about her: Rachel Fesperman is a vintage loving crazy cat lady living in the High Country of North Carolina. Her blog, Rachel in Veganland is just over a year old and chock full of (vegan) food, photos, and antics that range from rants on food politics to the adventures of Beans the Wonder Rabbit. You can follow Rachel’s posts through email, and find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Welcome Rachel!

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Lately, I’ve been feeling frustrated with the emphasis on weight loss, skinniness, and veganism as health craze. For me, my veganism has always been multi-factorial. Here on Veganland I’ve taken a pretty bold stance on animal rights, that has left little if any wiggle room for my reasons for this lifestyle. This is why I find the health fad surrounding veganism to be so incredibly frustrating.

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No, I don’t eat refined sugars, fats, or carbs. Yes, I do include alcoholic beverages in my lifestyle, as long as they are cruelty free. I do salt (some of) my foods during preparation, but rarely at the table. Of course I am concerned with health, but I’m not monitoring my food intake rigorously. I choose the foods that are best for me and Maddie, and I don’t pick anything that I wouldn’t give a scrap or two (or three) of to Beans the Wonder Rabbit.

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Processed foods tend to have complications that far succeed health. These foods are often very cheap, and if something is low in cost, it means that someone somewhere is bearing the brunt of that cheapness, usually animals, and workers both in the food processing/packaging industry as well as in the farming/growing industry. So why isn’t this our focus? Why aren’t basic safety, wellness, and (human/animal) rights at the center of our discourse? Why are we so compulsively attached to this health-based obsession centered on skinny=healthy=better?

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While I am happy that people choose to go vegan, and am glad to see more and more people adopting a cruelty free lifestyle, I’m frustrated that our vegan community (especially the blogosphere) seems to focus almost solely on the healthy foods/lifestyle side of things. I’m glad that people will eat Daiya over cheese, broccoli nuggets over chicken, but I’d like to see our focus shift from counting calories and eliminating saturated fats to the exploitation of the beings who have to give us those lipids in the first place. I am glad to see healthy vegans, I am inspired by healthy vegans, but I am more inspired by a healthy vegan who has a healthy outlook rather than waistline. I fear that Naomi Woolf’s fabled “Beauty Myth” and our distinctly Western cult of thinness control the vegan psyche.

When you become vegan, you change your relationship to food. Well, now it’s time to change it again.

I am not a “skinny” vegan. I am a happy, healthy vegan not just in form but in mind and spirit. I care about issues far greater than my own body and health, though I know that the intersectionality of veganism and human health is not solely coincidental.

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What kind of an example are we setting for the people who read our vegan based literature and for our (vegan) children? If we are compulsively healthy, won’t they be too? What kind of self-esteem does this build, for adults and children alike? Unfortunately the health-centric world leaves a lot to be desired, and often readers and others who watch from the wings might feel that they come up short.

I believe this dominant healthy obsession over the vegan blogosphere continues and upholds the fixation on women’s bodies. It is an obsession that enforces smallness and being tiny, slapped with the label “healthy.” Such a paradigm forces thousands of women to struggle with their relationship to food. I believe that our (vegan) blogosphere should focus on abundance not deprivation.

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I invite you to comment, and if you’re a blogger I invite you to (re) blog about this issue. Please add to the discussion by sharing your thoughts, ideas, and responses via Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere.

Guest Blogger: New Vegan Age – A perfect time to stop eating animals

20 Dec

Love when we have veteran posters come back! One such contributor is Tom of New Vegan Age. Please feel free to search the blog name on VBU! to read more posts from his lovely blog. Especially Kim Stahler’s post, featured on VBU!, caught a few people’s attention. Follow New Veagn Age on: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and of course the blog itself. Welcome back Tom!

Would you be able to kill an animal? If not, and you still eat meat, you’re not living in alignment with your values.

 
I know, I know. People sometimes say, “Animals kill and eat each other. We’re no different.”
 

Well, as one of my heroes, Harvey Diamond, first pointed out to me in his brilliant Fit For Life books, could you kill an animal yourself? Could you do what other animals do—chase it down, strangle or smother it, tear it apart with your bare hands, and swallow it raw?

 
This deliciously-seasoned, nutritious,
colorful holiday stuffing is but one of
thousands of delicious recipes that
prove giving up meat isn’t a sacrifice.
If you react to this question with disgust—and couldn’t or wouldn’t yourself actually go through with killing a living being—you’re already a vegetarian in belief, if not yet practice. In addition to the growing number of health and environmental reasons to turn exclusively to plants for nutrition, many vegans and and vegetarians stop eating animals because they would not ask someone else to do for them what they themselves would not do.
 
“I would not kill a creature,” said another of my heroes, Peace Pilgrim. “And I would not ask someone else to kill it for me, so I will not eat the flesh of the creature.”
 
Other signs that you might “already” be a vegetarian or vegan include:
  • You find the sight—or even idea—of a butchered animal or slaughterhouse unsettling.
  • You sometimes sense a “vague uneasiness” when you buy, order, or eat animal products.
  • You sometimes feel like you’re not living in alignment with your “true self.”
After Thanksgiving 1997, I realized I no longer wanted to have others kill animals on my behalf, and I declared that holiday the last time I’d ever eat turkey. A month later, I made Christmas the last time I’d ever eat ham. That New Year’s Day’s became a natural time to celebrate the “good luck” tradition of pork and sauerkraut with the resolution to never eat animals again.
 
You know, the holidays are the perfect time to give yourself, the planet, and animals this gift. It’s already a time of reflection, of renewal, of gratitude, of introspection, of compassion, and, of course, of commitment. If the thought of killing your dog or cat—or any animal—gives you a lump in your throat and a knot in your stomach, you’re already a vegetarian in belief, and you’re ready to take this exciting next step.
 
Best of all, there’s no sacrifice at all in being vegetarian or vegan, only the rewards of a rich variety in food, improved health, and a much lighter spirit.

Guest Blogger: Vegan La Raza – ¡Vegan La Revolucion!

20 Nov

Today on VBU! we have a brand new contributor who is excited to celebrate her one year of veganism. She was kind enough to give VBU! the Sunshine Award. Please meet Karla of Vegan La Raza. “My name is Karla. I am Mexicana/Salvadoreña and have been a vegan since October 2011. I started this blog to look at my identities as a woman, a person of color-specifically a Latina, and a vegan. Because of these identities I have experienced oppression in many ways during my lifetime. As someone who carries a history of injustice and violence, I choose not to perpetuate violence and exploitation towards other living beings, including human and non-human animals. Something has to change. I want to be part of that change.” We can all agree with Karla’s sentiments. Click here to find her blog and here for her Facebook account. Please welcome Karla!

¡Vegan La Revolucion!

A revolution is the overthrow of an oppressive system and replacing it with a more just, humane one.

I started this blog as a result of the cultural push back I experienced when I became a vegetarian and later a vegan. Compassionate eating felt like swimming against the current— I was made to feel like I was working against something bigger than myself.

Meat has been a part of my identity since I was an embryo and it played a central role in the happiest moments of my life through celebrations and traditions.

I was deeply moved and committed to el movimiento when I was in college and loved learning the “other history”, the non-white history of Los Angeles. I looked forward to spending the month of December at La Placita Olvera, not because I was a devout Catholic, but rather because I loved being around la raza, mi gente. I didn’t question the irony of animals being blessed in the center of the church plaza while everyone else devoured beef tacos.

Birria (goat meat) was the thing to eat at bautizos and weddings. Sometimes, I heard friends would go to church for a baptism, then to celebrate would kill a goat in the backyard and the party-goers would eat it. And yes, this all happened in Los Angeles. It’s hard to understand why learning about an animal being killed in a backyard would make a person cringe. How is that animal different from the thousands of animals being slaughtered everyday? Different from the hundreds of animals dying as I type this sentence?

Vegan La Raza was intended to be an outlet to express my experiences as a Latina vegan in a culture of meat. I’ve continually justified meat eating as a culturally Latin@ thing. Gandhi believed in leading by example not by preaching or ranting. I have successfully done that, but the other day, I was having lunch with a group of vegetarians and for once did not feel censored. This awareness made me realize that eating meat and using it as an excuse that “it’s embedded in Latin@ culture” is a weak and dismissive attitude lacking analysis.

Meat plays a central role in a patriarchal culture that objectifies and dehumanizes women by reducing our bodies to meat. Being a man consists of eating a chicken wing while being served by a woman with teeny orange shorts and a shirt that says, ‘Hooters’. Should the historical and cultural connection between men and meat continue to uphold patriarchy in our society?

World hunger could be addressed if the grains given to nonhuman animals were given to humans. Instead, we (all who exist within this system) choose to give clean water and food to animals who are waiting to be tortured and slaughtered. Should world hunger continue exist because we cannot go a day without eating a slice of bacon?

Deforestation in order to produce grazing land is a major environmental problem. So to all the “environmentalists” out there, planting a tree or starting a community garden is worthless unless we are working collectively to keep corporations from destroying natural resources to profit from factory farming.

Animals are killed by the millions in order to make money. Quality, regulation, life, workers, and the environment are irrelevant—profit is everything!

So, when people of any culture choose to uphold death and consumption in order to justify or cleanse their conscience, I hope they think twice about everything else the dead flesh they are putting in their mouth stands for — herstories and histories of oppression, death, exploitation, and capitalism.

It’s time to become conscious, empowered beings. If humans are considered (self-proclaimed) the brightest animals on earth, let’s take a step forward, put defeatist attitudes of self-control behind us and overthrow dominant cultures.

¡Vegan La Revolucion!

Guest Blogger: OMGosh I’m Vegan – Vegano Cubano Sandwich

19 Nov

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you’re starting off the week great. Here’s a post from one of the Virtual Vegan Potluck contributors – Galen of OMGosh I’m Vegan. Here’s Galen in her own words, “My name is Galen and I’m AHmazing! Haha, but really — I love to cook, bake, and share your treats with friends, coworkers and loved ones. I also enjoy taking vegan cooking classes and going on adventures!” Visit OMGosh I’m Vegan via blog and follow Galen on Twitter. Welcome Galen!

Just when you think I’ll zig I zag.  Oh so tricky.  I decided to make the real deal and have a proper Cubano Vegano!  Thanks again to Mandee of Cupcake Kitteh for the inspiration.  The cubano vegano sandwich is from Viva Vegan!.

Ready to eat

I made white seitan and while it tasted great I think something went wrong.  It didn’t really expand much from the original size. Next time I’ll boil it instead of steaming as that sounds like it works for this recipe too.  After the seitan was done and cool down I sliced it into thin pieces.  Then put it in this amazing citrus marinade.  Wow to die for!  And baked it in the oven for a bit.

Ready to grill

This just kicked the seitan up a notch.  What remained of the marinade was put on my sandwich with lots of other goodies.  A few minutes in the panini press and I was good to go.  I don’t know that I have the words to properly describe this sandwich.  It is easily my favorite sandwich now!

What have you made from Viva Vegan?  Favorite recipe?  Is it sad that as I look at these pictures I’m drooling just a little and wishing I had another sandwich?  Don’t judge!
Happy MoFoing!

Guest Blogger: Saving the world one bite at a time – Cruelty-Free Beauty for Boys and Girls

12 Nov

Happy Monday everyone! The holiday season is upon us and some of us will be buying gift baskets and what better way to shop than to be informed of how those products are made. Thankfully our returning guest blogger Rachael, author of Saving the World One Bite At A Time has contributed a post about cosmetics. Please see her previous posts: her trip to Traverse City, a recipe for Enchillasagna with Cauliricotta, and the wildly popular post about Vegan Nutrition 101. Join Rachael on her blog and Twitter account. Welcome back Rachael!

Keeping up with the Vegan Month of Food has created a lot of dirty dishes, so I’m taking a break from the kitchen to talk about something very important: Cosmetics.
Keep reading, guys – I’m not just talking about mascara and lipstick! Have you ever examined the label on your shampoo or face wash or shaving cream? We tend to think more about what goes into our stomachs than what goes onto our skin, but both become part of our bodies. Just what exactly are all those unpronounceable ingredients? Are any of those strange substances animal by-products? What methods did the manufacturer use to determine their product is safe?
Vegans spend a lot of time reading ingredients. Sometimes it takes five or ten minutes to find a lip balm that doesn’t have beeswax. (One Green Planet has a great list of vegan lip balms.) When you read the label on a vegan-friendly product that says things like, “No animal ingredients or testing; always paraben-free,” it leads one to surmise that things like parabens must be rather nasty. And then you start googling…
Check out this infographic from The Daily Mail:
Horrifying, a bit? Body lotion with the same ingredients as oven cleaner?!? (Pass the rubber gloves…) The info is from 2009, but run into your bathroom anyway and chuck anything with parabens, pthalates, etc. Prevention is worth $$$ of cure. The next question is, exactly how are these potentially carcinogenic compounds tested for human hazard?
They say every girl has her beauty secrets. Cosmetics companies have their secrets, too, and one fact often glossed over is the inhumane practice of testing beauty products on animals. Unfortunately, animal testing is a sad reality. The ugly truth is that thousands of caged animals suffer every day from harsh chemicals that are dripped into their eyes, down their throats and rubbed on shaved patches of skin – all in the name of beauty.
The good news is, you can help put a stop to it!  In June this year, Urban Decay announced their intention to begin selling their products in China, where animal testing is still mandatory.  Compassionate consumers spoke out, and Urban Decay reversed their decision:

“We’ve decided not to start selling Urban Decay products in China because we did not feel we could comply with current regulations in China and remain true to our core principles.”

 – Wende Zomir, Urban Decay Cofounder

Your wallet has more power than you think. But where to find animal- and people-friendly body and beauty products? Your local health food store or co-op is a good place to start; many posh suburban groceries stock an aisle of “eco” beauty products, usually next to some yoga gear. You can find cruelty-free cosmetics at chains like Sephora, just do a little online research on first – for example, Urban Decay marks all their vegan products with a purple paw print, so you can pick out the colors you want at home…or at work (while on your break, of course).

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) has certified over 400 cruelty-free companies, with more added every day. They created the Leaping Bunny logo and an app for iPhone and Android so when you’re out shopping, you have all the info at your fingertips. If your phone’s not so smart, PETA has a download-able .pdf list, or just check the product label for the leaping bunny logo!

I came across a contest at Ecotools to win an exclusive Alicia Silverstone train case, so I uploaded a photo of the contents of my makeup bag to enter:

…and I decided I’d share a list of my favorite products with you, because these secrets don’t hurt anyone.
Pictured Above:
  • Red Apple Lipstick – Vegan, Gluten-Free, amazingly rich and hydrating. I like it better than lip balm! Red Apple feels so good going on; the first time I applied it, I knew I’d never go back to those horrible, dry, waxy lipsticks I used to wear. Red Apple is luscious! I love the colors, too; mine are “Sunkissed” and “Rebel.” The slight scent in the Sunkissed summer shade reminds me of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls I played with when I was little.
  • Bare Minerals Original SPF15 Foundation by Bare Escentuals Not all of their products are vegan, but this powder foundation is pure minerals – mica and iron and zinc. Nothing weird. Just ground-up rocks. They even make a shade light enough for my fairest winter skin.
  • Synthetic Full Size Kabuki Brush Because I don’t particularly want to rub the hair of dead goats on my face. Goats are cute.
  • MyChelle Deep Repair Cream Unscented Organic, cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. Because I’m paranoid of getting wrinkles and because my skin requires extra hydration in the winter. Plus, this stuff has kombucha!
  • I’m waiting on my Beauty Without Cruelty mascara. It’s one of my birthday presents and should arrive any day.

Not all pictured (will update tomorrow) but recommended:

  • Chandrika Soap – I really like the way it smells. It’s green. It’s Ayurvedic. It’s been made of plants for 72 years. Awesome.
  • Kiss My Face Moisture Shave – Kiss My Face is on the Leaping Bunny list. Gear likes this shave cream on his face, and I like to kiss his face after he shaves, so aptly named.
  • Giovanni Eco-Chic Hair Care – Organic, vegan, Leaping Bunny certified. I like the Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo and the Smooth as Silk conditioner, as well as the Direct Leave-in Conditioner on really staticky days. I have long, fine, straight hair; the direct leave-in is great for preventing tangles and taming flyaways. Gear likes the Nutrafix Hair Reconstructor for repairing sun damage.
  • Beautiful Curls Curl Enhancing Shea Butter Shampoo – (and Conditioner) – Fair Trade, vegan, no animal testing, no mineral oils. Gear likes this kind because it helps untangle and gets out all the grit after a day of constructing. He also occasionally uses the Curl Defining Gel and Curl Defining Tonic, and I have to say, he has gorgeous hair.
  • Earth Science Apricot Gentle Face Scrub – Never tested on animals, most of Earth Science’s products are vegan. I have very sensitive skin, and this face wash is gentle enough for daily use.
That’s enough product endorsement for one day.  I’ll leave the rest up to you. Please buy cruelty-free cosmetics, and while you’re online, sign the pledge at Cruelty-Free International and tell the world you won’t support animal testing.
Notes:
  • Exfoliants made from plant ingredients don’t have any of the minuscule plastic beads that get washed down the drain into the ocean and eaten by tiny sea creatures that mistake them for food and then they die and the whales starve. Apricot shells save whales.
  • On razors – I recently found out that the “moisture strip” on most disposable razors is made of animal fat, which is out of the question. Old-fashioned straight razors (there’s something really sexy about a shaving brush on a man’s sink) are ok, obviously, along with electric. I might try out the Personna Tri-Flexxx cruelty-free razor from The Vegan Store but I’m going with ye olde safety razor for now.

Guest Blogger: The Beet-Eating Heeb – Vegan Advocacy: On the Verge of a Breakthrough?

11 Oct

Meet Jeffrey, our newest VBU! contributor, better known as The Beet-Eating Heeb.  Jeffrey is a Prius-driving, bicycle-riding, yoga-posing Jew who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the Executive Director of Jewish Vegetarians of North America. Join Jeffrey on his blog, Facebook and Twitter. Please welcome Jeffrey!

Is the vegan advocacy and animal rights movement on the cusp of transforming society?

Will it soon take its place alongside the feminist and civil-rights movements as a source of genuine, positive and lasting social change?

The Beet-Eating Heeb is not quite prepared to answer with an unqualified yes.

However, after attending last week’s annual conference of the Farm Animals Rights Movement, BEH is feeling decidedly more optimistic.

 

 

 

 

Known as the Animal Rights Conference (ARC), the four-day event drew approximately 500 people to a Hilton in Alexandria, VA.

The Beet-Eating Heeb, in his previous career incarnations, attended more national conferences than he can possibly count, including some much larger than ARC, such as the massive AIPAC Policy Conference.

But never has he witnessed such energy, emotion and commitment at a conference as he did last week.

Author Roberta Kalechofsky, a key advisor to Jewish Vegetarians of North America, discusses her books in the exhibit hall at the Animal Rights Conference.

The exhibit hall bristled with activity as conference goers jammed the narrow aisles to buy vegan books and t-shirts, pick up brochures, and trade stories with fellow activists. Several speakers received rousing standing ovations as they discussed their work on behalf of animals. More than one speaker broke down in tears in describing the horrific cruelty inflicted on cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. A high percentage of the attendees, perhaps half, were under 40 years of age.

To paraphrase legendary hockey announcer Mike Lange, “You would have had to be there to believe it.”

So, what is the source of this vibe, this passion at a conference devoted mainly to vegan advocacy?

There are two sources, the way The Beet-Eating Heeb sees it.

One, vegan advocates are feeling the momentum as our movement accumulates significant gains. Veganism, relegated to the margins of society for decades, is suddenly becoming mainstream as more and more thought leaders promote its benefits and as vegan options proliferate in grocery stores and restaurants.

Two, vegan advocates are drawing energy from the sense of moral outrage we justifiably feel, aware as we are that 9 billion farm animals are being brutally murdered in the U.S. alone this year, aware that about 8.5 billion of them are subjected to lives of abject misery before they are trucked to the slaughterhouse.

The pieces are indeed falling into place to create a social-change movement of historic proportions.

As was the case with the historic social-change movements of yesteryear, there exists a deeply rooted, pervasive, absolutely unacceptable condition in society. And there exists a growing awareness of the problem.

Joy, unbridled

“History will look back at veganism as one of the most important, transformative movements in human history,” Melanie Joy, a vegan author and psychologist, said at the conference.

A couple of week ago, The Beet-Eating Heeb might have dismissed such a statement as wishful thinking.

But after spending a few days with his fellow advocates, BEH can see the seeds of something big, very big, starting to bloom.

Which leads to a final, and, in The Beet-Eating Heeb’s mind, a very important question:

As the movement matures and gains ever more adherents, will people of religious faith be at the vanguard or on the sidelines?

There were several Jews at ARC. May there be many more next year. Compassion for animals is not just a Jewish teaching, it’s a core concept of our religion. Our Torah narrative, Mishnah and Talmud express exquisite sensitivity to the suffering of animals. We should be overrepresented in this new social-change movement, just as were in the feminist and civil rights movements of prior generations.

Will we be?

Guest Blogger: Saving the World One Bite at a Time! – Let Them Eat Kale: Vegan Nutrition 101

26 Sep

Please welcome back Rachael, author of the blog Saving the World One Bite at a Time! Here’s a bit about Rachael, Rubber Cowgirl is named for her boots!  Six years ago, she read Skinny Bitch and decided to go Vegan.  Her life has never been the same!  Her health improved, her jeans got a lot smaller, she learned how to cook and how to grow a garden.  Going vegan is the most delicious way to secure your own health and protect our planet, so eat your greens! Follow Rachael on her blog, and Twitter. Welcome Rachael!

Let them eat Kale!
(If I were Queen, I would have my subjects eat a healthy diet.)
Thanks to the accessibility of recent films such as Forks Over Knives and the endorsement of celebrities like actress Alicia Silverstone and President Bill Clinton, plant-based eating is gaining popularity.  More and more people are becoming curious about the impact of diet on personal health and the world at large.
For a long time, I’ve been the only vegan that many of my friends and family know.  Having consistently advocated the health benefits of plant-based eating, I suddenly find myself their resident expert on the subject.  As you can imagine, I’m more than happy to answer any of their questions – and glad I did my research!
The first questions I get are usually about nutrition.  If you don’t eat meat, where do you get your protein and iron?  No milk?  Where does your calcium come from?  Do you suffer from a B12 deficiency?  Anemia?  What about those good fats that are only in fish?  For the veg-curious and all the newbies out there, I provide the following breakdown.
Gorillas eat plants.
Protein
Protein is easy.  All plants have protein.  Elephants eat plants.  Gorillas eat plants (and the incidental insect).  Gorillas don’t eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, cheeseburgers for lunch and fried chicken for dinner.  If they did, they’d be going extinct from heart disease rather than loss of habitat and poaching.
I don’t suggest worrying about protein; a newborn baby gets all the nutrients it needs from its mother’s milk – only 8% of its dietary intake is protein, and that baby is growing at an incredible rate.  If 8% is optimal for developing infants, the adult recommendation should certainly be less.  Eating a colorful plant-based diet with lots of variety will provide more than adequate amounts of protein for your daily needs.
Protein-rich Plant Food
Nuts, seeds and whole grains are all rich in protein.  Add some cashews or peanuts to a stir fry.  Sprinkle sesame or sunflower seeds in your salads.  Try some peanut butter on sprouted-grain toast with a glass of almond or hemp milk for breakfast.  Rice comes in many varieties – golden, rose, basmati, forbidden, wild; try out some different grains like millet, barley, buckwheat or oats, or mix up a signature blend.  Quinoa alone is a complete protein with over 8g per serving!  Legumes like lentils, soybeans and chickpeas are packed with protein.  Sample some hummus for snacks or make some delicious Chana Masala for dinner.  Soy products include tofu, tempeh, miso, milk and other dairy substitutes.  Berries have the highest protein content of any fruit.
Iron
In Latin, ferrum.  One of my favorite elements.  I was born in a town called Iron River.  The fourth most common element in the Earth’s crust, iron should be easy to find.  All dark green leafy vegetables have iron; there’s parsley, spinach, kale, swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli and collard greens, to name a few.  Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so squirt a little lemon juice on your kale or add a kiwi to your green smoothie.
Clockwise from left: dried coconut, mixed rice, pumpkin seeds, red and white quinoa, sunflower seeds, buckwheat groats, green lentils, red lentils, French lentils; Center: madadamia nuts, chickpeas
All those protein-rich seeds and legumes mentioned above have iron, too.  Soy products, chickpeas (hummus), cashews, pine nuts, coconut, sesame seeds (Sesame oil! Gomashio! Tahini!) and blackstrap molasses have loads of iron.  Even baked potatoes have iron – try topping one with a drizzle of tahini and some minced fresh parsley.
Symptoms of iron deficiency include ridged or brittle fingernails and restless leg syndrome.  I used to get that jiggly-leg thing all the time before going vegan, but back then I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to my diet.  I must not be anaemic now, because my legs are restful and my fingernails are smooth and strong.  I also love me some beans-n-greens!  Ingesting too much iron can be more harmful than too little; excess iron in the bloodstream leads to the creation of free radicals, which can harm your DNA, so please be careful with supplements.  In my opinion, it’s best to get all your nutrients from your food.
Don’t you worry about iron!  Just eat your spinach, baby.

Vitamin B12 and Pro-Biotics
B12 is synthesized by neither plants nor animals; it is a product of certain micro-organisms and is found in fermented food.  B12 is required in the smallest amount of any nutrient – just ten tiny micrograms per day are enough; even fewer if B12 is supplied on a daily basis.  VeganHealth.org advises, “If relying on fortified foods, check the labels carefully to make sure you are getting enough B12. For example, if a fortified plant milk contains 1 microgram of B12 per serving then consuming three servings a day will provide adequate vitamin B12.  Others may find the use of B12 supplements more convenient and economical.”  If you choose to take a supplement, read the label to make sure it is dairy- and gelatin-free.
Nutritional yeast (those flaky yellow sprinkles with a cheesy/nutty flavor) is often fortified with B12 and is also full of protein.  Spirulina (astronaut food!) and other algae and sea vegetables have lots of important minerals and vitamins, including B12.  Try adding a scoop of spirulina powder to a green smoothie.  Kombucha is a fizzy, tangy fermented beverage dating back thousands of years; fortified with a full complement of B vitamins it provides an energy boost along with antioxidants and all kinds of probiotics for your digestive tract.  In fact, probiotics are generally found in fermented foods – pickled vegetables, like sauerkraut, and soy products like miso and tempeh; live cultures are also added to soy and coconut yogurts.
Vitamin B12 and Probiotics
Calcium
If you’ve been relying on dairy products as a source of calcium, please reconsider.  Although dairy products are high in calcium, their high protein content can actually deplete calcium reserves.  Your body draws calcium from the bones to neutralize the pH of your blood if it becomes too acidic; meat and dairy are acid-forming when consumed.  Because of their low phosphorous content and alkaline nature, calcium from plant sources is much more readily utilized by the body.
So which plant foods have calcium?  You guessed it – beans and dark, leafy greens.  Almonds, oranges, kelp, blackstrap molasses and sesame are also rich in calcium.  Don’t forget your 15 minutes of sunshine – Vitamin D aids calcium absorption.  To get those D vitamins activated, you need magnesium.  Found in greens like collards and spinach, other magnesium-rich foods include okra, artichokes, dates, papaya, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.  If you want strong, healthy bones, try some almond milk and chopped dates in your breakfast cereal, or a yummy tofu and arugula salad with tahini dressing for lunch.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These poly-unsaturated fatty acids are considered ‘essential’ because our bodies do not synthesize them, yet they are vital for normal metabolism.  Plant sources of Omega-3 abound – 1/4 cup of walnuts has a higher concentration of Omega-3 than 4 ounces of salmon.  Let the little fishes swim!  Instead of squishing them up into ‘fish oil’ try some extra-virgin olive, sunflower, pumpkin or hemp oil; beans and winter squash also have Omega-3 in small amounts.  The highest Omega-3 concentration of all is found in flax seeds, and sea algae has high levels of Omega-3 DHA.
Flaxseed has other health benefits as well; its antioxidant-producing lignans might even help prevent cancer.  Ground flaxseed makes a great egg replacer; if you’re baking, “For one egg, simply mix 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 Tbsp water in a small bowl and let sit for two minutes.  Add to a recipe as you would an egg.”  For a good dose of Omega-3 fatty acids, add some ground flaxseed to pancakes for your next Sunday brunch or try using it in a batter for veggie tempura.
Synopsis
Plants are good for you!  If you eat a wide variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, mushrooms, vegetables from land and sea, and something fermented, you will get all the nutrients your body requires.  Try everything that’s in season.  Include as many different colors in each meal as you can.  Do your own research – satisfy your curiosity.
Here’s some recommended reading to get you started:
Diet for a New America by John Robbins
Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
Many thanks + kisses to Gear for the delicious lunch he made me while I was writing today:
Sweet yellow onion, Yukon gold and Japanese sweet potatoes sautéed in lime-infused extra-virgin olive oil with fresh rosemary, sea salt + curry powder, served with fresh cherry tomatoes and steamed arugula.  Healthy, colorful and delicious!
Here’s wishing you Good Health and a Healthy Appetite!
xo
RubberCowgirl
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