Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five things I thought were wholesome entertainment before going vegan

The circus is unnatural entertainment (public domain photo)
My whole outlook has changed since going vegan. Rather than just taking things at face value, I look for the deeper consequences. For instance, I will not be participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge or contributing to that organization. Why? Because they do animal testing and not the mild kind, if there is such a thing. That's not all, though.

Rodeos/Horseback riding

This past summer I attended a rodeo in Deer Trail, Colorado. It was a big deal. Not only is it the home of the world's first rodeo, it's the home of my partner's grandparents. He went to high school there. The rodeo is a big part of the town's identity. Unfortunately, as we watched the cowboys flip the little calves around with no thought to their discomfort, we got a sick feeling in our stomachs. We also noticed the curving of the horses backs when the saddles were taken off. Curving caused by years of being ridden and ridden hard. We won't be going to any more rodeos.


Doesn't it sound fun to have a working vacation at a farm or ranch. I used to think so. That was before I learned the extent to which we use and abuse the animals raised for food, clothing and more. It was before I learned that the meat and dairy industry is the biggest polluter on the planet. It was before I realized that a meat and dairy based diet wastes tons of water and grain and contributes to world hunger.

4-H Clubs

You know those cute little bunnies, calves and sheep with the blue ribbons? Do you know what happens to them after they get their prize? I do. The blue ribbons indicate their superior flavor. What's really sad is when the 4-H kids that raise them have to give them up to be sold for slaughter. It's very traumatic for them. Many of them cry. Some try their best to convince their folks to keep them as pets. They love these animals. How on earth is this a wholesome way to raise your kids?


I used to take my kids to the Zoo all the time when they were young. I thought it was wholesome family entertainment. They got to see other animals up close that they wouldn't normally see here in the U.S. I thought it was a good educational experience for them. Even then, though, it bothered me the way the caged gorillas looked at me as I peered into their cage and their lives. Now, as a vegan, I don't go to zoos at all. Doing so would feel so wrong. I don't want to pay for other animals to be caged or take away their personal freedom. There's nothing wholesome about that.


Circuses are even worse than zoos where the animals are concerned. Do you really think it's wholesome or natural to train other animals to entertain us? Zoos have been known to abuse animals in order to “train” them to do ridiculous things. Bears have their feet strapped to bicycles until they learn to ride. How many times do you suppose they fall and hurt themselves before they perfect this skill? Elephants are whipped when they don't perform well. Young animals are taken from their mothers at an early age to join the circus, just as young male calves are taken from their mothers and slaughtered as veal.

My entertainment is hardly worth all this.

I can live without the zoo, circus, rodeo, etc. if means I save another creature from the misery that comes with captivity. Some might argue that they treat their animals well. That's just the thing, though. Other animals are not ours to use and abuse. They're not ours to keep. They don't belong to us. They are individuals just like we are. They have feelings and families and rights. I'm glad that as a vegan, I have discovered the consequences of my actions are just as important as the actions themselves. Look below the surface, my friends. Even if you're not vegan, think about the form of entertainment you choose and how it impacts others. Have a heart.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Connecting with what you seek

Seek the good things in life and you will find them. (public domain photo)
What are you seeking in life? Chances are, whatever it is, you will find it. For instance, we all have that phase when we first become vegan where we seek out all the wrongs in order to make them right. It's a necessary part of the journey. After all, if you are not aware of the bad things, how can you possibly make positive changes to fix them?

So, what's the problem? Well, it's just that a lot of us never graduate to the next step. We get so involved in fighting what's wrong with the world that we never reach that other phase. The one where we start to realize that whatever we seek is quite often what we get.

So much is going on in the world that begs for activism and change. However, there is also an awful lot of good out there. By spending the majority of our time as vegans simply living the life we preach about, we are, in effect, drawing the very things we tell others are so wonderful to ourselves.

In other words, we create what we seek.

So let's give it a shot, shall we? Let's spend more time seeking out and creating peace than we do seeking out suffering and injustice. Instead of looking for wrongs, how about we simply switch our focus to doing right? Instead of telling everyone what's wrong with the world, how about we concentrate on showing them how beautiful it can be and what happy lives we are leading?

Yup, it's a journey.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The sounds of silence

Silence is not always a good thing. (public domain photo)
Like most vegans, I've been told many times that I should simply live my beliefs and shut-up about it. Some people tell me that non-vegans are sick to death of hearing about veganism. To which I reply that they're sick to death, for sure, but veganism is not the cause of their issues. It's their diet that's killing them (not to mention the planet and everything on it). Being silent under those circumstances would be nothing short of criminal as far as I'm concerned.I love my friends too much to do that to them!

The sounds of silence are echoing all around us if we care enough to give them a listen.

Farm life involves using and abusing animals, no matter how you slice it. Can you hear them crying for help or do you turn a deaf ear to the fact that they suffer, feel pain and care for each other just as we do? That includes dairy cows and those “humanely raised” animals too, by the way. Look it up.

Little children all over the world are crying themselves to sleep. They are dying daily from starvation and lack of clean water. Food and water they could have consumed is being foolishly sold and recycled through animals for consumption, instead of being eaten directly so everyone could be fed rather than just the fortunate few that a meat and dairy based diet caters to. (Resources go much further when directly consumed. Not to mention that the nutritional value is much higher.)

The planet is screaming for relief! Streams that were once teaming with life are dead due to algae overgrowth from nitrogen rich farm run-off. (Once again, dairy farms and humane animal farms are no better.) The earth was simply not meant to support the amount of animal life that is occurring as we over-breed other animals due to the demand for meat and dairy.)

People are dying due to diseases caused by poor diet, food additives and genetically altered crops, never realizing that all they had to do was make the right choice as to what should go on their fork and into their mouths.

Produce farmers who have sustained us happily for many years are crying too. They're losing their family farms because they refuse to use GMO seeds. They're being squeezed out. There are very few left that do not cater to Monsanto and big business. The ones that do are often sued and lose everything they have when GMO's migrate (on the wind) to their fields.

It's time for all of us, vegan or otherwise to connect with the fact that when we are silent, we pay for all of this. So, no, I will not be silent. Being silent is like signing a death warrant for everyone on this planet. I'm just not that kind of girl. I won't do it.

And yes, you do have a choice and here it is. You can change the way you do things or you can suffer the natural consequences of your actions. (Bad health, starvation, lack of water and a filthy planet that will not sustain any of us.)

And yes, what you eat IS my business. Because by choosing a meat and dairy based diet, you are not just killing yourself. You're killing all of us. You're giving my grand-kids less of a chance for survival in the future. You're telling them that their lives are not as important as your taste buds. Not only that, you're telling them they should repeat the process. And if you don't think I consider that my business, you don't know me very well.

So please, connect with the fact that silence kills. Go vegan. Go viral. Go verbal. All our lives depend on it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Connecting with....everything

Come in peace, always (public domain)
In the last post, I talked about how after going vegan, my brain started going off with rapid fire connections. I now look at the world, society and everything else within human reality very differently. I still have a long way to go, though. I'm not there yet. Not by a long shot. I believe there are threads of energy connecting everyone and everything in existence and connecting with those threads is so freeing, so beautiful that it cannot be comprehended.

Sometimes I raise my hands to the sky and picture the giant web that connects us all reaching out for me and coursing into my soul. It makes me feel more a part of things than I have ever felt in conventional human society. I feel the same connection when I touch a tree or work the soil in my garden or feel the hand of one of my grand-kids in mine.

In fact, I'm slowly realizing that this false world we have created for ourselves is taking us further and further away from the natural world and who we were intended to be (the longer we let it go on and nourish it and serve it). Does that make me seem like a whack job? I don't know. And frankly, I don't care. The truth is more important to me.

The broken connections are poetically heart-breaking to me. I hate seeing the way we treat other creatures as inferior or even the way we treat each other. It sickens me. We could have so much if we would simply embrace who we really are and be good to each other.

As long as we continue to label and separate each other from the “pack”, we will never reach our full potential. We will never know how fulfilling life can be when it's lived in unison. Because, my friends, we were never meant to be separate. We are one. Yes, we are individuals in some respects, but only like our fingers are individual, yet just a part of who we are.

So yes, maybe I appear to be a little crazy with my vegan “nonsense” and my habit of reaching out to strengthen those invisible threads. Maybe people who are heavily indoctrinated into this so called human society we have invented for ourselves don't get me. That's OK. I get myself. I like the way I do things. I like that I do my very best to do no harm. I like that I relate better to people like me than I do to people who think conventionally. I'm OK with that.

I wish everyone could feel the connections. Some do. As for the rest, well, I hope they come around. Mother Earth is calling to you. Are your ears, hearts and minds open enough to hear her cries?

If so, please reach out. Reach out with kindness, love and respect. Reach out with compassion and understanding. Make the connection between your individual actions and the changes that occur in the world. All of them. Connect with nature, with each other and with all the good things in the world. Strengthen your ties to Mother Earth and loosen the threads that connect you with the anger, hatred, bigotry, speciesism, greed and gluttony we have created by being “civilized”.

Take only what you need. Give back all that you can. And please, please, please, stop the violence. It breaks the connections. It's always wrong, no matter which “side” you are on. Because as long as you are on a side, you can't feel the connections that bind us all and keep us alive, thriving and joyous.

Eventually, some time before my body and my energy permanently join the natural world I came from, I hope to be connected with everything. I hope to embrace the vast unity of all nature and feel all of it's beauty. How about you?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rapid fire vegan connections

My brain on vegan (public domain photo)
This blog is not just for my readers. It's for me too. Since I began it, my brain has been going crazy with rapid fire connections. Every time I write another post, I'm reminded of another connection to, of, about or related with veganism. It's quite exciting, really.

Why do I find connections so exciting?

The world is full of them. They are what makes us thrive, survive and click. They bring us prosperity and thankfulness. They bring us awareness, love and light. Connections are at the heart of every single thing we do, say or accomplish.

What's so special about vegan connections?

Well, vegan connections are nearly always positive. When they're not, they bring about positive change. That makes them among the best of all connections one could possibly make. In fact, every time I make a new vegan connection, something wonderful happens in my life or in my attitude or in my perspective.

Connections are freeing.

One would think that being connected to a huge network of energy, relationships, thoughts, etc. would be restricting. Actually, just the opposite is true. Connections reveal all the possible roads on can travel down and how they relate to each other. It's exciting!

I'm so glad that I started writing this blog.

So what if it doesn't make me a millionaire? Why should I care? The connections I'm making are worth far more than that. They take me on a different journey and a new reality every single day of my life. You guys, I'm so glad to be vegan. It's brought me so much more than appears on the surface. Vegan for life!

Make the kindness connection, even with ass-hats

Speak vegan with your heart! (public domain)
Just kidding of course, no one is a complete ass-hat. Everyone has some redeeming qualities. Heck, there are even vegan ass-hats. I came across a few of them the other day arguing over the definition of veganism and who was more vegan or truly vegan or the veganist person in the group. How ridiculous! The point is that as vegan, we are here to promote kindness, not hatred.

It's OK to hate the behavior.

It's alright to be mad at the way we have evolved as a species. Just try not to take it out on those who don't see the issue. Maybe they are mired in tradition. Maybe they're just not interested. Maybe they know about the impact a meat and dairy based diet has and refuse to change. Maybe they'll come around. Maybe they won't. Whatever the case, it's not right to be cruel to them. Treating these folks badly only serves to prove that vegans are just a bunch of superior ass-hats ourselves.

And speaking of vegans....

Those vegan ass-hats can be a real downer. I try my best not to be one of them. I try to promote my beliefs without jabs or sarcasm. I didn't always do that. It's gotten me into some trouble. I've lost some friends and family members because of it. The good news is that the ones I lost had already made the choice to lose me long ago. I've always been kind of different, you know? I don't think like other people and they hate that. Anyway....

Be nice to people.

It's the best way to show how much your life has improved since going vegan. It's the best advertisement we have. We want people to embrace our cause, not run from it. If we keep scaring them off, this planet and everyone on it is doomed. So, it's kind of important, you know? And maybe even more important is our unity.

Stop being mean to other vegans.

Good heavens. Some of those vegan chats, forums and comment sections are downright ugly. Why on earth are we creating categories for ourselves within the vegan community? Why are we not just happy to find like-minded people who are journeying toward full fledged veganism. Isn't that what we want? Of course it is. So stop badgering and bullying other vegans, even if they haven't quite gone full fledged vegan yet. You're not better than they are or more vegan because you have. Plus, you're making us look bad. Be nice!

Give me veggies or give me death

Veggies and fruits = life! (public domain photo)
Last post, I mentioned that the statement, “Give me veggies or give me death” is true in many ways. This post, I'd like to talk about what I meant by that, both including and aside from the obvious.

Being vegan means rejecting death and suffering for other animals

That's the obvious part. By going vegan we refuse to cause the death of other animals to produce “food” and other animal products. And yes, I know that there are some deaths related to vegetable production as well. However, those related to animal production far outweigh them.

It also means rejecting human suffering.

So much of what we grow is used in animal production that it's absolutely ludicrous. If we ate that food directly, rather than recycling it through animals, we could feed all the starving people in the world several times over. Plus, there's the issue of our life giving water supply. It takes a lot of it to feed all those animals we over-breed for food. It would go much further to water produce if we all ate a vegan diet.

Being vegan brings us good health.

When we eat more veggies we have less room for the bad stuff. Fewer people would be dying early from heart attacks and organ related diseases. It's even been proven that cancer may be linked to meat and dairy based diet. In my own life, I have seen how going vegan has improved my Lupus issues with reduced inflammation and improved circulation. I hardly need my medication any more. Soon, I may be able to go without it at all.

Eating veggies keeps the planet alive and well.

Dead zones surrounding factory farming operations have extinguished all life for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Animal waste from meat and dairy production is filling our water supply with nitrates that consume life supporting oxygen. Methane from factory farms is threatening our ozone. Farming is the number one environmental threat to this planet.

Eat your organic, GMO free fruits and veggies.

They don't fill our water supply with chemicals and waste products. They don't promote the over-breeding of animals that sets nature off balance. They don't hurt anyone. They only bring life. Choose veggies. Choose life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Going vegan is an adventure, not a sacrifice

Romanesco broccoli Yum! (public domain photo)
When people think of going vegan, they often focus on what they have to give up. Maybe that's the reason so many don't stay vegan. They never really connect with the fact that they have opened up a whole new world of food and lifestyle exploration. They never connect with what going vegan does for their spiritual well being.

Being vegan is great for self esteem and just plain feeling good.

I wake up every morning knowing that no one dies or suffers to fill my plate or produce the goods that I buy. What could be better? Rather than being at the top of the so-called food chain that we humans invented, I live in harmony with every single other creature on the planet. Like other animals, I do my best to do no harm because since going vegan, I've also reinforced my other goal of having less of a negative impact on the planet and more of a positive one.

I embrace being an animal.

Human society has pretty much turned us into something we're not. I'm glad to have a roof over my head and yes, I'm glad society has brought us medical care and other creature comforts. What I'm not glad of is that we have gotten to a point where we are so distanced from nature that we are downright miserable. That's not how it's supposed to be. Going vegan has brought me a deeper understanding of how humans really do fit into the planetary network. I'm OK with being the human animal that I was intended to be. I'm OK with living just far enough outside of society that I'm able to reconnect with nature. In fact, I'm not just OK with it, I revel in it.

Being vegan is like being a food explorer.

Every meal is an adventure in new tastes and textures. Since going vegan I've tried so many new fruits and veggies that I can't possibly list them. Conventional foodies have no idea what they're missing. Without all the grease, gore, pain and suffering, the vegan plate is alive with flavor. Vegetables and fruits are just bursting with yum! Smothering out the taste with greasy meat and cheese seems like a crime. 

Every day is a new adventure.

Being vegan is never boring. It's a constant learning experience. My mental capacities are always being expanded. My thirst for knowledge is continually satisfied. My thoughts are constantly being challenged and changed. If I lived to be 100, I would still be learning. I look forward to every single day again, just like I did when I was a school kid. That's why I'm always sharing what I learn with others. I want them to wake up every day with the same zest for life that I have.

Give me veggies or give me death. Ha! That's true in many ways, Isn't it?

Perhaps that's my next post. Anyway, if you're going vegan or even if you've been vegan for a long time, try switching your focus to what you have become, rather than what you once were.

Going vegan isn't about what you give up. It's about what you gain!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Connecting with that creepy feeling

This deer was once alive and free (public domain photo)
You know that creepy feeling you get when you watch the old “Planet of the Apes” and the people are all locked up in corrals? Ya, so, that's the same exact feeling vegans get when we see farms, animal production, someone eating meat, dairy or eggs and/or that juicy steak dinner post on Facebook. That's the feeling we get when people talk about hunting or fishing too. It brings chills because we know.

I know this isn't exactly the most positive post. I never said they all would be. Or did I? No matter. What it is, though, is the truth. There are some pretty bad connections that we vegans make in order to come to the conclusion that we should go vegan. We really have to pry our eyes open to see the horrors sometimes in order to make the right choices as compassionate individuals.

For instance:

I wasn't always a vegan. I used to think of farmland as idyllic too. That's because I never really thought beyond cows grazing in pastures. I never really thought about how it feels to be castrated or have your tail cut off or your horns burned off without pain relief. It's quite unsettling, isn't it?

I never really thought about the fact that in order to make cheese, a baby calf has to be taken away from its' mother (and either killed for veal or used for future dairy production) so we can have the milk products or that the dairy industry supports the veal industry. Now that I do know these things, eating dairy feels creepy to me. It makes me feel insensitive.

That same creepy feeling happens when someone talks about how much they love bacon. I know that not everyone knows most male or “imperfect” baby pigs are slammed against a cement floor until dead or that slaughterhouse workers are just as cruel and uncaring to humanely raised pigs as they are to the ones raised on factory farms or that mother pigs grieve for their babies just as much as you and I would. Not everyone knows that mother pigs are kept perpetually pregnant just like mother cows.

I know it's not the fault of the average meat eater that they are conditioned to NOT think about these things even when they do know them because they are told that it's perfectly natural and healthy to eat meat and if they think about it too much they won't be able to do it. And that makes me feel creepy too. Seeing perfectly nice people manipulated always does.

When I hear about someone raising backyard chickens, well, that makes me feel creepy too. They don't know that because they mainly want laying hens, little male chicks are ground alive for lack of demand. They don't know that the unfertilized eggs eaten by humans were actually intended to nourish the hens. They don't know that constantly laying without having that extra calcium to ingest, shortens the life span of the hens as well.

They don't know that the “free-range” farms where they get their brooding hens are, in actuality, just huge, windowless chicken coops packed standing room only. Factory farms are often started using the same suppliers. They don't know that a home chicken coop is also nothing but a prison as far as the hens are concerned. They don't know that the baby brooders have their beaks burned off without anesthetic to keep them from pecking at each other before they are even sold to them. But I do. And it's creepy. I want no part of it.

Hunting and fishing may seem a bit better than farming on the surface. At least those animals aren't imprisoned. To me, though, there is nothing natural about killing another being when there is plenty of food to eat that does not require taking a life. Still, some people actually seem to enjoy it. And, ya, that's creepy too. In fact, I just cannot imagine being directly responsible for killing another creature. I cannot imagine looking a deer or a bear or some other land animal in the eye and taking its' life when it's simply not necessary. Of course, once again, a lot of people are societal convinced that it is indeed necessary. That's not only creepy, but kind of sad. I feel bad for them.

As for fishing and eating seafood, I have learned through endless hours of research that by 2054, the oceans will be essentially fished out. We will then have to rely on factory farmed fish and seafood. It only takes a second to make the connection that tells us that's going to be an unnatural process that will likely further impact the already fragile natural balance that we have already screwed up beyond repair. Isn't it creepy that we're so addicted to consuming animal products in general that we are willing to kill the planet to get them? Um, we kind of need the planet. Just saying.

In fact, the meat and dairy industry is responsible for more pollution than big oil.

What's even creepier? There are some non-vegans who know all these things and still consume meat, fish, dairy and eggs. They still wear leather coats, shoes and furs. Heck, some of the hunters even revel in their “masculinity” or noble hunting “skills”. They actually call hunting and fishing “sports”. There is nothing sporting or noble about sneaking up on or tricking and killing a fellow animal who has no idea they are about to die. There is, however, something very creepy about knowing that all the pain and suffering mentioned in the above paragraphs is very real and still participating in it.

By the way, do you know who else keeps their prey captive, then cuts up the bodies of their victims and freezes them to eat later or saves them as trophies? Serial killers. SO creepy! As Ellen says, “I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They say because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive but I have photographs of her.” So, creepy hunter types, whose mother (or other loved one) is that hanging on your wall?

Make the creepy connections and go vegan.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vegans not safe from factory farming health issues

Farming pollution impacts us all. (public domain photo)
Vegans who think they are immune to factory farming issues should think again. We are not protected from all the health hazards of factory farms just because we abstain from eating or using animal products. Factory farming has become so prevalent in America that it impacts everyone, vegans included. We once believed we were safe. Sadly, the time has come when even those who are extremely careful about their diet are being poisoned by factory farming.
Factory farming is a term used to describe farms producing animal products, legumes, vegetables or grains in mass quantity with little or no regard for environmental or humanitarian issues. Chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics used in mass food production pollute not only the food produced, but also the surrounding environment. That pollution is quickly spreading.

Animal waste is a huge environmental issue. Animal waste products from factory farming runoff are carried into our waterways. Animal waste is also used frequently to fertilize crops. This spreads contamination far beyond factory farms. Even organic farmers using manure as fertilizer are susceptible to contamination from factory farming. Vegans beware, you are not immune.

In order to list all the appalling facts concerned with factory farming, this post would become a book. Instead I'll attempt to give an overview of the reasons factory farming has become so prevalent that even vegans eating an all organic diet are not safe from the ravages of factory farming. Factory farming is a practice threatening the lives of every person on the planet. It's killing us.

Factory farming runoff is in our water supply. Issues from this include the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the death of fish and other wildlife, high levels of nitrates (which cause infants to be born with less than perfect oxygen balancing capabilities), high levels of contaminants, high levels of salt, and high levels of damaging heavy metals. vegans drink this water too.

Farming is a rural industry. In these areas, organic farmers are often neighbors with factory farms. Common sense tells us that if a factory farm is your neighbor, factory farm runoff would be greatly concentrated in your own water supply. Vegans can no longer be guaranteed safety by eating organic produce.

Of course vegans can produce their own vegetables. Use only compost as fertilizer. Use all organic pesticides you make yourself using sterilized bottled water mixed with organic products you have grown yourself. What will you water them with? The same sterilized bottled water? Those would be some expensive vegetables. What about that rain water?

Sorry, folks, rain water is full of contaminants from factory farming too. Why? Rain water is merely evaporated water from our oceans, lakes, ponds and streams. We can't control which ponds and streams that water comes from. It may have even evaporated from that factory farm waste holding lagoon. Nobody is immune from factory farming pollution. Even vegans drink water from factory farm runoff.

For many years, vegans and vegetarians have tried to educate people about the health and environmental hazards of factory farming. We have explained that eating meat from these filthy, disease infested factory farms is literally killing people. Now our advice takes another turn. Factory farming is not just killing meat eaters. It's killing vegans too.

Factory farming is having an astounding and unprecedented impact on vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The meat and dairy industry would have you think cows are peacefully meandering country pastures. In actuality, animals raised for slaughter live in a few feet of their own filth for their entire lives.

Connect with the facts, fellow vegans. Factory farming has reached a point where the only thing we can do is shut down every factory farm and enact a massive environmental clean up. Will we do it? Probably not. At least not right away. Change on this scale takes time. And as our non-vegan friends like to remind us, the world is not going vegan overnight and besides, they only patronize humane farms. And as we like to remind them, free range farming isn't much better. In fact, in some ways, it's worse.

Farm Sanctuary

Mother Earth News
Grace Communications

This post was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo! property. It has been updated and edited for this blog.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Connecting with vegan simplicity

Highly complex vegan salad. LOL (public domain photo)
Why does everyone seem to think going vegan has to be so complicated? Is it complicated to eat only veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts and whole grains? Is it complicated to be compassionate? Is it really so complicated to toss a salad and eat it or refuse to buy leather shoes? Heck no. Going vegan is only complicated if you make it so.

Sure, you have to get your protein and your B-12. So what? You need those things as an omnivore or vegetarian too. You just get them in different ways. It's no harder to get them as a vegan than it is to get them otherwise.

They make plenty of shoes and clothes that don't support the suffering and death of other animals. Really they do. And you don't have to go to special stores to avoid wearing fur, leather (skin) or feathers. My cheap flip flops are vegan. I checked. They cost a whole big 5.99.

It's not rocket science. I'm pretty sure most omnivores or vegetarians don't go around measuring every little ounce of protein or other nutrients they consume. Vegans don't have to either. We just toss a little nutritional yeast in, add a serving of beans or a handful of nuts here and there and call it good.
Totally tasteless vegan Mexican food. NOT! (copyright Jaipi Sixbear 2014)

What do vegans feed their pets?

Meow! Thanks for feeding me my natural diet!  (public domain photo)
One of the things people often ask me is what vegans feed their pets. They are, of course, making the point that we do still buy meat, even if it's not for ourselves. So, for those people and anyone else who's curious, here's what vegans feed their pets and why.

It depends on their natural diet.

Some pets are natural carnivores. Some are natural omnivores. Some are actually vegans, like their owners. The most popular pets, of course are cats and dogs. They're usually the ones people are speaking of when they ask what vegans feed their pets.

I think some people who ask this question are genuinely concerned about the health of the animals in question. There's really no need for concern. Vegans love other animals. They would never cause them intentional harm.

What vegans feed "their" dogs

Vegans feed "their" dogs what dogs naturally eat, just as they feed themselves what they naturally eat. Dogs are omnivores. They can eat a wide variety of foods, including animal products. However, they don't need meat to be healthy. So, some vegans choose to feed dogs vegan food. There are commercially made vegan dog foods or one can make vegan dog food themselves. As for me, I feed "my" dog conventional dog food. I could go the other way, though, with no problem. I've been considering it because she absolutely loves veggies, just like me. Plus, she has weight issues we're trying to resolve.

What vegans feed "their" cats

Cats are carnivores. There's no question about that. There are predators and carnivores way back in their gene pool. Vegans are all about loving other animals. There isn't a vegan on this planet who would consider harming an animal in any way. So, cats are fed their natural carnivore diet, even when they live in a vegan household. If you really put some thought into it, this makes perfect sense, although, truth be told, many vegans don't have pets in the first place.

A lot of vegans don't have pets to begin with.

Many vegans don't really believe in keeping other animals for their own use. For many of us, that includes pet ownership. Pet ownership has thrown off the balance of nature. It involves thinking of other creatures as property, something that doesn't bode well with many vegans. That being said, I already mentioned I "have" a cat and a dog.

Why? Well, it's pretty simple. They both would have gone to the pound because their "owners" couldn't keep them any longer for differing reasons. They were rescue pets from 2 different relatives. Otherwise, they wouldn't be living with me. I don't really believe in "owning" other animals. Many vegans agree with that sentiment. So, you see for many vegans, the question of what to feed their pets is simply a moot point. That's because they don't have pets, for ethical reasons.

Note: This post was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo! property.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Make vegan herb butter from coconut milk and herbs

Lovely bunch of coconuts (public domain photo)
Homemade herb butter is quite delicious especially when made fresh. Going vegan? Not sure what to sub for butter since most margarine contains dairy? Why not make some whipped herb "butter" from coconut milk? The delicate flavor of homemade vegan herb butter brings a zest and sweetness to food that regular butter cannot begin to match. Use fresh vegan coconut herb butter as a spread on bread and more.
Delicious vegan herb butter can be made with any herb or a combination of herbs. My favorite is made with rosemary, lemon thyme and a hint of garlic. This herb combination in whipped coconut milk makes the most aromatic and mouthwatering garlic bread ever.

You may be able to find vegan margarine in the store to make herb butter with, but it should be used sparingly. If made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, it's extremely bad for your health.

To make 100 % homemade vegan herb butter, the first consideration is making the butter itself. Old timers used churns and dairy cream. They had to turn that paddle for hours to get results. We now have wonderful appliances called mixers or beaters to do that work for us, making it possible for vegans to use coconut milk as a butter base.

The main ingredient in vegan butter is coconut milk. Do not buy the type that is located in the dairy section with the milks. Instead, check the natural foods section for the more concentrated version that comes canned. It whips better.

Use a large chilled bowl and chilled coconut milk to start making the herb butter. Whip small amounts at a time as coconut milk butter loses it's whipped texture when stored. The bowl should be quite a bit larger than the milk, which will increase in volume when whipped.

Now get out the beater. Set it on high speed. The coconut milk will have to be monitored closely while it is being beaten. It takes some time, but coconut milk will form whipped "cream.” This butter will not be as solid as regular butter.

The hard part is done. Now mix a little salt and your favorite herb or herbs into the vegan butter. Fresh herbs are best. They can be found in the produce section of the grocery store. Your homemade herb butter should be made just prior to use.


*You can also use a food processor or blender, since your hand may tire. It can take as much as 15 minutes to get coconut milk to whip smooth.
*If you prefer a firmer butter, use coconut oil in place of the coconut milk.
*Use whipped coconut milk as you would whipped cream for desserts and such. Simply add vanilla and your favorite vegan sweetener.

Portions of this post were previously published by this author on a closed Yahoo! property.

Connecting with healthy vegan meats

Not all vegan foods are healthy! (public domain photo)
If it's vegan, it has to be good for you, right? Not when it comes to vegan meats. They can be just as unhealthy as the “real” thing. So, what are the healthiest vegan meats made of? Where do you find them? Can you make them yourself? That's a lot of questions. Here's some answers.

What are the healthiest vegan meats made of?

The healthiest vegan meats have just a few, simple organic, GMO free ingredients. They don't have the same nasty processing chemicals found in conventional processed meats. Look for ingredients like black beans, vegetables, oats and quinoa. You know, things that don't leave you guessing about whether they're good for you or not.

Where do you find healthy vegan meats?

You can usually find healthy vegan meats wherever health food is sold. Still, not all of the vegan meats at these places are healthy, despite their reputation. You really do have to check the label. Read the nutrition facts, not just the ingredient list. Never assume.

Can you make healthy vegan meats yourself?

Absolutely. There are tons of recipes for vegan burgers and such. Just do an online search. Now, they won't all be totally tasty. Of course, that's true of store-bought vegan meats too. Either way, you'll likely have to do some experimenting to find the ones you like. So, why not add to the adventure by mixing it up in the kitchen?

What's my favorite vegan meat?

I have three. One is all the vegan apple sausages made by Field Roast. Second is my own homemade black bean burgers. Last are the black bean burgers made by The Engine 2 Diet folks. They're found in the freezer section at most major health food stores.

I'm not a big supporter of “fake” meat.

Burger King can keep their vegan burger, which is likely grilled right along with their other meat. Eew! The vegan meats I eat aren't really a meat substitute, so much as a whole other adventure in eating. In fact, they're so unique and tasty that they stand on their own merit. They're not fake meat. They're real food.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Connecting with non-vegan family members

Keep love in your heart (public domain)
This blog is about the positive side of being vegan. It's about seeing the connections and connecting with your vegan friends to make things better for everyone. Still, it's hard to do that when there are naysayers around every corner, especially when some of them are the people you love most in the world. I'm positive about my lifestyle choice. That being said, I'm also pretty sure that I'm not the only vegan with disappointing connections to certain family members.

I could rant about how bad some family members make me feel.

I could talk about how I'm concerned for their health or their refusal to become more informed in the name of tradition and their love of meat and dairy. That would accomplish nothing, other than to amplify my feelings and make them feel bad in the process. The point is that due to the fact that I am admittedly and happily unconventional and outspoken concerning my views, there are two family members that I have had “words” with.

I still care about them. We just don't speak to each other unless we have to. When we do, it's awkward to say the least. It has become a battle of who's right and who's wrong, even when we're on a totally different subject. It always comes back around to our differences. I find it very sad and heart breaking.

How can I make a positive connection with these non-vegan family members?

Here is my solution. No matter what they say or do, I will face them with love in my heart and a smile on my face. I will not be the better person, because no one is better than anyone else. I will, however, be the best person I can be. I will practice what I preach. I will live my life in a loving way. I will do no harm because ultimately, that is the entire reason I chose the path of veganism to begin with.

And life will go on.

I will continue to be ecstatically happy with my choices. I will extol the virtues of a cruelty free lifestyle until I take my last breath. I will eat delicious vegan food that's seeped in life and does no harm. I will be thankful that I have taken the time to educate myself and others on the many virtues and benefits of going vegan. I will be happier, know that I have done all I can to make our connection a positive one, be it reciprocated or not.

Most of all, I will not hold my head high out of snobbishness, self-righteousness or some sort of twisted superiority complex, but out of respect, love, peace and contentment.

Isn't that the whole point of being vegan, after all?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Not quite connected with vegan cheese yet?

No offense, but it seems a bit processed. (public domain photo)
It's OK. Neither am I. I just plain don't like it and I'm OK with that. I'm from upstate NY. As a child, I was surrounded by dairy farms. Wisconsinites are not the only cheese heads in the universe. I was a big one before I learned about the horrors of the dairy industry. Now, I don't touch cheese but I don't eat vegan cheese either.

Have you tried a lot of vegan cheese?

Me too! I really would like this too work. I'd love if they could make one that actually tastes like conventional cheese without the negative connotations. I know, you guys. I have tried the Daiya. I'm not impressed. It's not real enough for me. In fact, I think I've tried just about every commercially made vegan cheese in existence. It's just not the same.

For some, vegan cheese is a good alternative.

My boyfriend likes it. But he didn't grow up in dairy country eating the highest quality cheese on the planet. I'm sorry if that offends my vegan friends, but I'm an honest person. I know that the word quality shouldn't apply to something made from suffering. I get it. Not only that, I agree. Still, I really hate vegan cheese and I still love conventional cheese, even though it's banned from my food list forever.

Why is it so hard?

I don't understand why it's so hard to come up with a tasty vegan cheese. Cheese is made from fat, correct? There's all kinds of fat in coconut oil and nuts, right? Now, I know that out there somewhere, there is a conventional cheese maker who could pull it off, quit exploiting cows and make some awesome cheese. I don't have those skills, but surely someone out there does, yes?

Meanwhile, I'll keep searching.

Somewhere out there, there must be some vegan cheese that actually tastes like cheese rather than a processed wannabe. I detest processed foods. Never liked the fake cheese made from milk, either. I haven't tried making homemade vegan cheese yet. It seems sort of daunting. I'm no cheese-maker, after all. But maybe that's the answer. Maybe I have to come up with my own vegan cheese that's made to my taste. By the way, I'm not a big fan of cashews. I'll eat them, but they are my least favorite nut. So, cashew cheese? Meh. Not so much.

I'm also surprisingly OK with not eating any cheese at all.

I'd rather go without eating cheese altogether than go for the “good enough” vegan option or go back to eating dairy. I'll never do that. I just can't stomach dairy cheese now that I know the price that's paid to make it. (Both by us and the other animals.) It just feels wrong. I'm OK with not eating cheese at all. I miss it. But it's not the be all end all of food. There are plenty of other foods out there.

How about you?

Vegan cheese: Yay or nay?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Connecting with nuts on a deeper level

What do you know about cashews? (public domain photo)
No, I'm not talking about crazy trolls on your vegan posts. I'm talking about the nuts you eat. What do you really know about them? Many vegans rely on nuts and legumes for the majority of their protein. They're just not that into tofu or consider it to be a processed food. Nuts are nutritious, delicious and versatile. They're used in everything from snacks to desserts to pesto sauce. They're a favorite food of many Americans, vegan or otherwise. What do we really know about nuts? Here are some fun facts.

Cashews area very popular nut. Did you know their shells are poisonous?
Cashew nut shells contain urushiol. The nut of the cashew cannot be eaten until all the urushiol has been removed. This is done by steaming the shelled nuts. Don't touch the shell either. Touching the shell of the cashew can give you a nasty skin rash.
The Macadamia nut originated in Australia.

However, 90% of all macadamia nuts are now grown in Hawaii. Macadamia nuts are not picked. They are harvested after they ripen and fall from the tree. The macadamia nut has the hardest of all nut shells. It takes 300 pounds of pressure to crack this nut.

Sunflower seeds are often considered to be a nut.

They're actually the seed of the sunflower. The tallest sunflower ever grown was 25 feet 5 ½ inches. It was grown in the Netherlands in 1986. The sunflower is Russia's national flower. They grow the most sunflowers in the world. The sunflower got its name because the flower always faces the sun.

Filberts and hazelnuts are from the same family.

They're often thought to be the same nut. The filbert is often ground up and used in baked goods, in other countries, when almond prices are too high. The filbert was named for St. Filberts day as this is when the filbert bush blooms. The majority of hazelnuts are grown in Oregon.

Peanuts are used to make many items.

An Australian has even invented a car that runs on these tasty nuts. A peanut is actually a legume and not a nut. Peanuts accompanied Allen Shepard on his mission to the moon. The original use for peanut butter was as a nutritional supplement for the elderly. Of all the states, Georgia and Texas produce the most peanuts.

California produces 70% of the worlds' walnuts.

Walnuts are harvested by machines. First the trees are shaken so the nuts fall to the ground. They are then blown into a pile away from the tree. Then the nuts are vacuumed up. Some jewelers use walnut shells, finely ground to polish gemstones.

In ancient Rome, newlyweds were showered with almonds as a symbol of fertility.

Almonds are not actually nuts, but closer to a peach type pit. Bitter almonds are used in amaretto liqueur. This type of almond has to be processed in order to remove the toxin, prussic acid, which is used to make cyanide.

Outside Source:
Tidbits Newspaper - Denver Metro Edition - October 13-19, 2008

This post was previously published by this author on a closed Yahoo! Property.