Thursday, July 31, 2014

Veganism: The hunger connection - Vegan for the humans?

Starving girl (public domain photo)
Usually when we speak of going vegan, people connect it with animal rights. The thing is, though, going vegan benefits humans too and I'm not just talking about general well being. Other animals aren't the only ones negatively impacted by our largely omnivore diet choice. The impact the meat and dairy industry has on the environment and natural balance has, in fact caused many issues.

People around the world are starving and going without clean water, while here in the US, we use a great deal of it to raise cattle. In fact, we purchase grain from third world countries to feed livestock while the people in those same countries die of hunger on an hourly basis. It seems like we are being quite selfish when you make that connection, doesn't it?

For those of you who look at people in other countries as aliens, it's not just other countries, either. There are people right here in the US that go to bed without eating nightly. Meanwhile, others stuff their faces with mass quantities of greasy meat and gloppy cheese. It's about time we made the connection between our holiday gluttony, eating massive amounts of meat and dairy and the human condition. What are we teaching our kids here? To be selfish and inconsiderate?

And then, there's the pollution. Piles and piles of manure run-off into our streams, lakes and rivers can't be a good thing. We are introducing massive hoards of animals into the environment by over-breeding other animals for food and over-eating. Nature simply can't keep up with the waste products generated by this number of animals. It's that simple. It's not just bad for human health. It's frightening.

If we all went vegan, would the animals take over? No, because it wouldn't happen overnight. No offense, but connect with your brain. As the world gradually cut out meat and dairy consumption, there would be less and less demand for animal products, therefore less would be “produced.” In the final stages, with the remainder of animals roaming free, as they were intended, natural balance would once again come into play.

Best of all, the land we once used to raise animals could be used to raise healthier foods and to feed more people. The land, water and nutrients it takes to raise animals for food is far greater than what it takes to produce nutrient dense crops.

So, my fellow vegans, when you speak to others about your lifestyle choice, don't forget to mention the human connection in all this. Because it's not simply about saving other animals. It's about saving all animals, humans included. If we continue in the direction we're headed, we'll have nothing left to argue about, because there will be nothing left for any of us to eat or drink anyway.

It's already happening in other countries and even in ours. Do some research on the water shortages in the western states where meat production is a way of life. Take a look at the ponds and streams in your own area. If you live in a rural farming community, you will see that many of them are choked with algae growth from farming nitrate run-off.

You know those big corporations saw this coming long ago. Why do you think they started bottling water and buying up water rights? We used to laugh at buying water. Soon it will become the only way to obtain it. And all because of our own greed and gluttony.

Eating meat and dairy is unnatural for humans. It's been proven over and over. Look it up for yourself. And because we have been behaving in an unnatural manner for hundreds of years, we have upset the balance of nature to a point where she may not be able to recover. Going vegan isn't just about other animals. It's about saving ourselves, people. Making the vegan connection and making this a better world isn't just for hippies and bohemians. It's for the survival and well being of all of us.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The vegan tofu reliance myth

Not all vegans eat tofu (public domain photo)
The vegan diet is sometimes misunderstood by those who don't follow it. For instance, I've been told quite often that this friend or that could never be vegan because they don't like tofu or can't eat soy. Not all vegans make a connection with soy. In fact, some just don't care for it. Some have heard that soy is bad for them. Some simply feel it's very bland. No matter. Eating a vegan diet does not require the consumption of soy. That's a myth. So why not connect with the truth, rather than a rumor?

Tofu is not the ultimate vegan protein.

While soy does contain protein, there are other vegan sources. Beans are one. They're high in fiber, low in calories and have an enormous amount of easily digestible protein. Nuts and seeds are a great source of Omega 3. Unlike fish, they contain no risk of ingesting mercury. In fact, you can get all the protein you need on a vegan diet without touching a single bite of tofu.

Tofu does not have to be bland.

If you do eat tofu as part of your vegan diet, there are ways to spice it up. Some vegans do like it bland. Others marinate it before cooking. Some saute it in high antioxidant herbs and spices. It's a “to each his own” kind of thing. So, if you prefer spicy foods to bland foods, simply learn to pep your tofu up a notch.

Soy is only bad for you in large quantity.

Too much of a good thing is always bad where food is concerned. Soy and other goitrogens
should be eaten in moderation. If, as a vegan you choose to eat soy every day, several times a day, you may indeed have some negative consequences. This is really no different than if you eat too much of anything else, is it? Consuming too much protein in any form is bad for your internal organs.

Some vegans don't eat soy at all.

Speaking personally, I eat a little, here and there. I certainly don't eat enough to be cause for concern. As for tofu, I can take it or leave it. For instance, when I go to a certain big burrito restaurant, I skip the spiced tofu. The beans in the burrito provide all the protein I need in one meal. Plus, to be honest, I've never liked the taste or texture of meat, so soy protein really holds no appeal for me.

Soy milk is not the only milk substitute

Thank goodness! Soy milk is OK in tea or coffee. By itself, it hasn't many redeeming qualities. That's OK. Going vegan doesn't mean you have to drink boring old soy milk. Actually, most vegans opt for almond or coconut milk. They are both tastier and just as nutritious. Almond milk even has more calcium than cow's milk.

Vegan cheese can be nut based too.

In fact, nut based cheeses are often better tasting than their soy counterparts. Most of the vegans I know don't even like soy cheese. They make their own from cashews or other nuts. If you're missing cheese as a vegan, soy is not the only option. It's not even the best option. So, you see, vegans don't have to rely on tofu or soy. In fact, they don't have to eat it at all. It's just another silly myth.

This article was previously published by this author on Yahoo!

The vegan life force connection

Vegan life force! (public domain photo)
Why do some vegans make such a big deal about eating life or eating death? Aren't the fruits and vegetables, the whole grains, nuts and legumes that we eat already dead when we eat them? They're no longer alive, it's true. So, what's this obsession with eating life, not death? It's pretty simple and complex at the same time. You see, by choosing to go vegan, we choose to reject the death and suffering that results from a typical omnivore diet and lifestyle. Therefore, we choose life. But there's much more to it than that.

Breaking the death connection.

Eating meat, dairy, fish, seafood and eggs promotes the production of these “foods.” Therefore, it promotes death and suffering. Of course, the connections go much deeper than that, as well. Eating these products hastens our own death, through bad health, food and water shortages, environmental damage and more. Breaking that connection and choosing life feels wonderful!

The life connection

By eating vegan and refusing to buy other animal products, we vegans know we're making great strides toward ending the related death and suffering. We rejoice in the fact that we're doing something peacefully positive to promote well being for all. This is what makes the vegan diet such a powerful force for life. Veganism is more than just a diet for most of us. It's a celebration of living our lives as purposefully and compassionately as possible.

The fabulous colors, tastes and smells of vegan food

Good, fresh vegan food is absolutely bursting with life. It comes in many colors, shapes, sizes, tastes and smells. It's extraordinarily flavorful. It's as varied as the vegans who consume it. When I made the vegan connection, I was truly surprised at the sheer volume of new foods there were for me to try. It opened up a whole new world for my taste-buds to explore.

Will you choose life?

That's up to you, of course. All I can say is that if you don't at least try, you'll never know how joyous you will feel by just waking up vegan every morning.

It's not merely about the food or the animals or the environment. It's about the all encompassing life force connection between all of those and more. It's the fully loaded nutritional content of the food. It's the flavor. It's the color. It's the compassion. It's the love of mother nature. It's about knowing you're doing the right thing and choosing the most delicious diet in existence!

I love being vegan!

It makes me feel fulfilled. I wish everyone could feel this good about what goes on their plate. I guess that's why I'm such a relentless vegan advocate. I want everyone else to be able to be this happy about their life choices. Choose life! You'll be so glad you did.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What is usually meant by "The vegan connection"

These pigs don't want to become your bacon! (Public Domain)
When vegans talk about the vegan connection, to what are we referring? There are many connections to be made when going vegan. There are connections with other vegans, as we've already discussed. There is the positive connection vegans make with the environment and more. However, when most vegans speak of the vegan connection, what they're referring to is the connection between the food on your plate and where it comes from.

The disconnect

Let's face it, if you're a meat eater, it's much easier to simply keep the fact that you are eating someone who was once alive out of your mind. It takes all the blood, gore and violence out of the equation. That's why many people who eat meat, dairy and eggs have a huge problem with seeing the truth about where they come from.

Making the connection

For most of us who truly care about animals, realizing and admitting the connection and harm to all that eating meat causes is ground-breaking. It makes it difficult, if not impossible not to go vegan. Once we know, fully absorb, face and acknowledge the fact that the food on our plates came from an animal who suffered and died to feed us, going vegan becomes the only logical choice.

Dairy too.

Vegans know something else that vegetarians do not. I say they do not, not to insult them, but because I assume that anyone who has witnessed the outright cruelty of the dairy industry could not possibly still consume dairy products. Most people, vegan or not, are inherently kind. So, if these kind vegetarians knew about the atrocities of dairy production, there is no way they would not be vegan.

The vegan connection dies hard.

Once the network in your brain makes the logical connection between those slaughterhouse and dairy farm cruelty videos and your diet, it's hard to break it. It's there for life. You know that you are either directly responsible for choosing a diet that does no harm, or does harm to every living thing on the planet. Each time you pass grazing cattle, a goat farm or any other animal agriculture operation you make that connection again. Every time you see someone eating meat or posting about their delicious macaroni and cheese, you reinforce that connection.

In truth, it's a lot harder for vegans to see your dinner than you think.

Sometimes vegans do post shocking photos. They want non-vegans to make the connection too, so we can all be happier and healthier. Sometimes shock and awe is required to grab the attention of folks who are mired in tradition. Omnivores get angry when they see these posts. They say it ruins their appetite. I'm sure that's true. However, it's much worse from the other side.

For those of us who've already made the connection, an omnivore dinner is far more nauseating than those videos because it's seeped in ignorant bliss. It ignores the fact that someone suffered and died for that dinner. It doesn't just gross us out. It's an insult to everything we stand for. It's feels inconsiderate and disrespectful of the animals who gave their lives for it. It has a hollow, heartless ring to it. It puts a lump in one's throat, so to speak.

But, let's not get preachy and judgmental.

I only stated the above to illustrate the depth of the vegan connection. We are all on our own personal journey. We all do have a right to choose our own paths on the map of life. Making the vegan connection isn't just about diet. It's about understanding that the paths we take impact everyone else on this planet, be they human or another animal. (And doing something about it.)

What's coming up?

In the posts following this one, we will be discussing all the things that connect the vegan choice with positive changes in the world around us. We'll also come back to our vegan friendships and how they can help us strengthen our convictions and cement our connections to the rest of the world. We'll talk about activism and yummy vegan food too! In short, we are now moving on to the “meat” of this vegan blog. Pun absolutely and unequivocally intended. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Segregating your vegan posts on Facebook

Make a page for your vegan activism (public domain photo)
Segregating your vegan posts doesn't sound very positive, does it? Wouldn't that make it difficult for other vegans to connect with you? Stay with me. There are actually some very good reasons to do this. For one thing, you will save all your non-vegan friends from having to put up with your constant vegan postings. Of course, that's not all.

Ease of contact and communication

Keeping your vegan posts segregated on social network sites can make it easier for your future vegan friends to find and connect with you.

Remember when I talked about liking vegan Facebook pages and joining vegan Facebook groups to find friends?

How about making your own vegan Facebook page or group to attract other vegans?

It's not as difficult as it would seem. Facebook pretty much walks you right through the process. If you can't figure it out on your own, try using these Facebook help links for creating groups and creating pages.

Of course, you can do this without segregating your posts if you wish.

What else? Well, depending on the type of page you make, you can attract mostly vegans like you. We're all different, after all.

For instance:

If you're mostly focused on finding great vegan food, create a recipe exchange group or page.

If you're an outraged vegan, create a page where vegans can vent and dissent.

If your focus is on compassion and positive action, reflect that on your page or group.

You decide how your page or group is run. You can even make a set of rules for group members to follow. That way, you only attract vegans with similar views.

About lists:

Another thing you might try is making a Facebook list for vegan friends only. This way, you can share your applicable posts with only those people who share your convictions.

Summing it up:

Segregation may seem to be an ugly word, but it can be a positive way to connect with other vegans, no matter how you choose to use it.

Up next: What is usually meant by the phrase, “making the vegan connection”?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Finding vegan connections on Twitter

Tweet! (Public Domain photo)
Where are all the vegan tweeters hiding? How do you find vegan friends on Twitter? I know a few simple methods involving hash-tags and concerning the nature of your tweets. Depending on how you use social networking, you can try different things.

To be honest, I use Facebook way more than I do Twitter. So, connecting my Twitter and Facebook accounts really makes a difference in finding friends on both sites. Whether they originate on Facebook or Twitter, my tweets draw fellow vegans.

Since my Facebook and Twitter are interconnected, the more I tweet about being vegan, going vegan and the more I post other related content, the more vegan followers I amass on both Twitter and Facebook. In other words, making your social networking pages vegan specific helps you make more vegan connections.

I also try to keep up with messages from Twitter in my e-mail. That way, I don't miss any vegan friends who have followed me on Twitter, so I can follow them back.

Hash-tags are a great help in finding vegan friends on both Twitter and Facebook. If you've never used them before, you should give it a shot. Not only will it bring you more visibility, it will alert other vegans to your online presence so they can connect with you.

Simply use vegan relevant hash-tags when posting memes, vegan related status updates, articles of vegan interest, etc. Other vegans who have “subscribed” to the hash-tags #Vegan or #Veganism can easily find you through your tagged posts.

Coming up: Segregating your vegan posts

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dealing with negative vegan facebook friends

Vegans can be angry too! (Public domain photo)
Up to this point, I've been primarily addressing vegans in my posts. This blog is, after all, about vegan connectivity. In this post, however, I'd like to talk about negative vegans on Facbook, as they relate to both vegan and non-vegan friends.

I personally post a lot on the subject of veganism. Not all of my Facebook friends appreciate that. Some feel I go overboard. Some disagree strongly. Some even spend a lot of time posting negative comments on my memes, status updates or articles.

Now, I don't want to lose any of my friends, vegan or otherwise. That's why I advise those who are bothered by my vegan posts to simply hide my news feed and communicate with me via personal messaging as an alternative.

If you're a non-vegan, who's tired of the vegan posts made by one of your Facebook friends, I strongly suggest hiding their news feed to save your friendship. There is, of course, the option of simply scrolling past, as we do with those “bacon” posts. However, if you can't stop yourself from being negative, why not just go ahead and hide that news feed?

You'll be happier. Your friend will be happier. It's a win-win solution.

What if you're vegan and your vegan friend is much too negative? Well, you can do the very same thing. Your friend is on the same path as you. They simply have not made the connection between the negativity they project and the feedback they get. They don't realize that being a negative vegan is just as bad as being a negative non-vegan.

Maybe they'll come around in time. Who knows? So, rather than banishing them from your friends list, it's important for you to make a connection with their journey. Maybe you were once an angry vegan too. Many of us feel angry when we first begin learning about the atrocities of the meat and dairy industry. As time goes by, we realize that projecting all that anger is unproductive. Only then do we start walking a peaceful road.

So give your newly vegan friends a break. Hide their news feeds until they make that connection. Make an effort to go to their profile pages and comment on their more positive posts. Help them find their way peacefully down the vegan highway. Life is a journey. We each have to make that trip in our own time and in our own way.

Next up: Finding vegan connections on Twitter

Monday, July 21, 2014

Choosing your new vegan Facebook friends

Making new vegan friends is awesome! (Public Domain Photo)
Surprise! Even though vegans believe in walking a path of peace, not all of them know how. In fact, some of them can be downright cranky. You know the ones. They spend a lot of time complaining about how things are and too little time promoting and working toward positive action.

But wait? Didn't I just say in the last post that I accept all vegan friend requests on Facebook? Does that mean that I befriend the cranky people too? Well, sort of. It's a tricky business. I'm selective. Plus, I don't always keep the friends I make. So, how do I presort the mean and nasty vegans from the perky, positive ones?

The group or page aura is telling. Nevertheless, it's not the be all, end all of choosing friends. I belong to some vegan Facebook communities that are just for venting. Others are all about love, peace and harmony. That's because, let's face it, no matter how sweet you are, living as a vegan can be frustrating at times. Those venting communities are necessary.

No matter the aura of the group, you can find positive friends there, based on the nature of their comments or posts. Of course, there is always a chance that you will befriend someone who turns out to be someone you do not wish to associate with.

Another sign that your vegan acquaintance may not be friend material is the tone of their own websites and pages. A lot of vegans have one, the other or both. Some are strictly to promote veganism. Others have nothing to do with it. Either way, you can tell a lot about someone by the vibes you get from their personal sites and pages.

If there's a lot of angry bashing of non-vegans on there, you might want to steer clear. Even vegans can be bullies. Sure, some nice vegans say negative things about non-vegans. It's human nature to retaliate for years of torment. I'm talking about the ones that only say bad things, never good.

Meanwhile, here's a funny thing that bugs me. I don't really warm to vegans or anyone else who is all sunshine and flowers, do you? It just feels like they're hiding something. Why? Because it's also human nature to be grouchy once in a while.

Coming up: How do you deal with vegan Facebook friends you wish you didn't have?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Where to find more vegan Facebook friends

As we discussed in the previous post, vegan friendships can go a long way toward enhancing your Facebook experience. Networking with fellow vegans is a wonderful way to reinforce your convictions, find new information, learn new recipes and even fight off the naysayers. So, where do you find these awesome people?

Do you see that little search bar at the top of your Facebook page? How often do you use it? I use mine daily to find new vegan friends. I can't search for them by name, because I don't know them yet. What I can do is search for the vegan groups and pages they frequent. It's a simple enough technique, yet many rarely do it.

Since my Facebook page is filled with vegan posts, it's pretty easy to get accepted into vegan groups. It's even easier to like a page. It's a one click deal. Then, once I'm on the page or in the group, I start making friends.

I also find groups and pages through the vegans that I'm already friends with. I simply watch their posts to see where they obtained their memes or recipes and follow their lead. This is a great way to find vegan relevant websites too.

Occasionally, when I find a group I relate to well, I even do a group post that's an open invitation for those vegans to send me friend requests. I accept them all. However, if I later find out that I don't get on well with the individual, I simply block their news feed from my page.

Of course, Facebook isn't the only place to make Vegan friends. We'll talk more about that later.

Note: Even though most vegans are obviously pretty good natured, kind people, due to their beliefs, it's important to choose the right ones to be friends with. The next post is all about who makes a good vegan friend and who makes a bad one, at least in my opinion. See you there.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New vegan friends are vital

Have you ever found yourself inundated with naysayers on Facebook and other social networks? Think you've learned all you can about veganism? Getting tired of the same old stand-by recipes? Clearly, you need more vegan friends.

Increasing your ratio of vegan friends as compared to non-vegan friends can fade those naysayers right into the background where they belong. Vegan or not, nobody needs negativity as a prominent feature in their day. Not only that, your vegan friends will have your back when it comes to defending your choices.

Bringing new vegan friends into your network means new information, new ideas and more. They can also turn you on to relative groups, pages and websites. From keeping you in the loop to showing you new videos, articles and such that help you explain your choices or spread the good news about the positive impact of your choices, your new friendships can be a true asset.

If your vegan diet is boring, you're not doing it right. Making new vegan friends is vital in this area. For instance, in the last few months, I've made friends with a vegan chef who has supplied me with an endless supply of recipes through his Facebook posts. He not only posts his own recipes, but others he has come across and tried. Of course, he's not the only vegan friend I've made since going vegan. Each one has brought something new to my personal table, literally and figuratively.

So, you see, making new vegan friends can truly enrich your vegan experience. It's hard dealing with the harsh realities of the largely non-vegan society we live in. Having a large vegan circle can make that other world seem small in comparison.

The next post addresses ways to make more vegan Facebook friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What is Vegan Connections all about?

Connections are perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the vegan experience for me. Since becoming vegan, I've made hundreds of new friends, both on and offline. I've learned that my personal diet and lifestyle choices can impact the rest of the world on a far greater scale than I ever thought possible.

It's a great feeling!

There's an entire, complex, interwoven network we activate when we choose (or don't choose) Veganism as a way of life. This blog is about all those multifaceted connections, both good and bad. It's about how to use those connections positively to create a better world for everyone.

First, we'll be talking about making (and nurturing) online vegan friendships.

Then, together, we'll explore the hard truth behind the meat, egg and dairy industries.

I'll share anything new that I learn. You're welcome to do the same in the comment section.

Along the way, we'll focus on and celebrate all the positive connections that stem from choosing a more compassionate life.

My hope is that by combining our vegan connective “powers”, we can further improve our health, protect the environment, feed the hungry and of course, save our fellow earthlings (the other animals).

That's why the next post is about the importance of making more vegan friends for an even more powerful connective force.

Stay tuned!