Memorial Day and Beyond: Silent Food Activism and the Summer BBQ

It’s finally here!  The sun is shining (most days) and Memorial Day weekend is drawing near.  We probably either all have plans already or are in the process of making them.  Are you going out with friends, having your own bbq or taking advantage of a lazy weekend at home?  No matter what you decide for this coming holiday weekend, chances are you’ll be at a gathering, which contains food, at some point during the summer.  Like most vegans, I find myself, most of the time, being the only vegan in the bunch.  What do you do when you’re invited to a non-vegan bbq?  I say, take this time to showcase foods that you would normally find at a bbq, only “veganize” them!  Your friends will realize you can eat what they eat and that the food tastes just as good, if not better.  In addition, in your own way, without saying a word, you are performing a form of activism.  You are not harming animals, cooking and sharing great foods and, in the meantime, maybe even convincing a friend or two.

Here are some tips for being a silent “food” activist:

  1. Bring or serve items people love and expect to eat at a BBQ.  Try vegan potato salad, vegan pasta salads, veggie burgers with the trimmings and vegan “veggie” kabobs.  (Check out some great recipes in the recipe section of this page.)   People are more likely to try foods they are familiar with.
  2. Print or handwrite recipe cards for your items.  After your friends realize they taste great and are better for the animals and planet, they’ll want to make them.  I guarantee you’ll get asked for recipes, so better to be prepared!
  3. Don’t over-advertise that something is vegan.  Let people figure it out for themselves.  It’s odd, but when people hear the word vegan, they tend to back away.  Let them discover the deliciousness for themselves.
  4. Show everyone that vegans do not only eat salads and that a bbq can be vegan and still decadent and flavorful.
  5. Enjoy your own food.  When you are truly enjoying something, people will want to see why.

By bringing vegan items to an outing or serving them at your outing, you’re helping the environment and the animals without even saying a word!  Activism can be a delicious thing!  Enjoy!

Fat-Shaming in the Vegan World

So…..there’s a lot of talk about fat-shaming in the Vegan community recently.  I think there’s some confusion about what a Vegan Lifestyle entails.  I’d like to take a moment to think about the focus of a Vegan Lifestyle..that is..compassion.  In a compassionate world and a compassionate life, there is no room for shaming of any sort.  Vegans come in all shapes, colors, sizes, denominations, genders, and anything else I’ve missed.  Our Vegan community is one filled with people who are in it for the good of the animals.  A Vegan Lifestyle, after all, is one that does not contribute to animal suffering.  A Vegan doesn’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, honey or wear wool, leather, silk, etc.  A Vegan’s home does not have candles that contain beeswax or leather sofas.  If you’re a Vegan who loves cake, you’re still a Vegan.  If you’re a Vegan who loves veggies, you’re still a Vegan.  We need to come together instead of tearing one another down.  I came across a great post on this topic from vegan dietician, Taylor Wolfram, on the World of Vegan webpage, entitled, “Why All Vegans Should be Weight-Inclusive” and I thought I’d share it with you. 
 
Remember..the only way to a Vegan world is to remain UNITED!   
 
Here’s the link….
 

Compassion in Today’s World: It’s All About Perspective

We all know how the world is changing around us.  New government, new policies, people liking and disliking.  Take a moment, though, to stop…..think about what you like and what you don’t like about our “new U.S.”  There may be a lot you like….fantastic!!!!  There may be some things you severly dislike.  What you do about it is all about perspective.

I’m not here to add politics to your fun of perusing blogs and reading for pleasure.  I’m here to shake you up a bit, to say, “Hey, if you don’t like it….what are you going to do about it?” I once came across a coach who was teaching a child to bowl.  While chatting with him, he said to me, “I can’t start this child in the game, the child isn’t good enough”.  I looked at him and said, “I understand, but you are the child’s coach, what are you doing to help the child?”  He looked at me shocked and confused and honestly (which I give him credit for) said “Nothing”.   He understood the child was not the best bowler and he was the adult guiding the team, teaching the players, yet he admitted to not helping this child.  Coaching, you see, in this situation, was all about perspective.  He thought he was coaching because he was choosing who was fit to start and fill and end, yet, he wasn’t teaching, he wasn’t helping, he wasn’t, in fact, coaching.

Look around the world today.  So many of us are posting things we like and dislike on social media.  Hey, that’s great, this is how we spread the word, but what are we doing about it after we press that post button?  Are we stopping to think how it effects us or are we stopping to think of how it effects our community, our state, our country, our world, as a whole.

We are part of a bigger picture.  We are part of a world in need of help.  We are part, on a smaller scale, of a community in need of help.  We may not like the reforms being made..is it a call to action for you or are you going to sit back and complain.  It’s all about perspective.  Life, you see, throws things at us we may not expect.  You may be called so strongly to a certain cause and not understand why only to sit and reflect on it and realize you can help, perhaps, if only on a small scale.

What can we do when the government is turning things upside down (or so we think)?  We can sit back and realistically think of how we can help.  Animal lover….you can help.  Elderly neighbors who need assistance…you can help.  Someone lose a job or need childcare…you can help.   Help may only be in the form of finding a resource for someone or it may be in your taking action yourself, but what is lost by us allowing our government to divide us is a sense of community.  We are losing the compassion we should feel towards one another.

There’s a bigger picture at play here.  Are we being divided or are we being pushed to do something on a level that we wouldn’t have been moved to before?

It’s all about perspective.

 

 

The Season of Compassion: Lent and Veganism

As the Catholics among us walked around with their (myself included) ashes on their foreheads yesterday, I began to wonder the meaning of this ritual and how it connects to the world around us.  The Ash Wednesday ritual began as a sprinkling of ashes on a person’s body after they have passed to forgive sins.  It turned into a visible sign on our foreheads of the sins we may have committed throughout the year and our repentence from those sins.  Take a moment now to reflect on sins you may have committed during the year with a reminder that there are sins we’ve actually committed and sins of omission, meaning we should’ve done something, but didn’t.  It’s easy to teach our children about these sins by using simple examples such as, if someone drops something in the grocery store and they cannot pick it up, but you walk on by without helping, there’s a sin of omission.  As we get older though and more wiser, we may not focus on sins of omission.  Why?  Because sins of omission are usually things we know we could’ve done and probably should’ve done, but didn’t.  They lay on our conscience sometimes and thinking about them strikes a nerve.  Why didn’t we help when we could’ve?

In my life, of course, as an ethical vegan (a vegan for the animals), a great deal depends on animals and the ability to not cause harm to them in my own life and to try and spread the word about the lives the animals people consume live.  A dairy cow, for example, who cries as her baby is taken away so the baby will not drink the milk so the farmer can sell it to us.  Wait….are we baby cows?  Do we need this milk?  Hmmm….. Anyway, how can we simply neglect the fact that we’ve done this?  Does the cross we wear on our heads on Ash Wednesday abolish sins that we know we are going to continue making?

We try our best to be kind to one another, many now even try really hard to be kind to the planet by composting and recycling and buying solar panels.  We are really kind to our pets.  They have toys and treats.  What about the animals who give their lives for us daily?  Did you know by being vegan you would save one animal’s life daily????  WOW!  That’s 365 animals over the course of the year (don’t forget that extra one on a leap year) per person who is Vegan!  Amazing!  These animals are sentient beings who want what your puppy and kitty want.  They want to be loved.  Have you ever rubbed a pigs belly?  They will lay there for hours allowing you to and they’ll love it!  I guarantee you’ll love it, too!

Ok, guys, living a Vegan Lifestyle isn’t as hard as you think.  My Catholic friends, I know your giving something up for Lent.  Why not try giving up eating meat?  You do it on Fridays, try adding more days to it or the entire 40 days of Lent!  Why not?  What do you have to lose?  If you try it, you’ll have saved 40 animals by the time Lent is over!  What a blessed Lent you will have knowing you’ve saved so many animals!  Who knows?  You may even want to continue after Easter Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Search for the Best Meatball

So, if you’re a foodie, like me, you have that one food that you can’t find made just quite right. Well, I know this happens to others because it happened to my hubby. During his omnivore days, he would over and over again order spaghetti and meatballs in the search for the best meatball. Repeatedly, he was disappointed. Fast forward to my hubby’s post-omnivore days and his search continues. Recipe after recipe, vegan restaurant after vegan restaurant, he searched.

“Why meatballs?” one might ask. Who knows! We all have that one food. For me it’s a vegan reuban sandwich…never done quite right and the search continues. For him, however, as a once omnivore, you would’ve thought (or an omnivore would’ve thought) that he would’ve found his perfect meatball back in those days, right? WRONG!

One cold, snowy winter night in NYC, we stumbled into Candle Cafe West for a quick bite to eat. Candle Cafe West holds a spot near and dear to my heart, as that is where the Main Street Vegan Academy held it’s graduation lunch, but I digress. Since it is a special place, I often think of the amazing and rich foods they create. They are beautiful and delicious. There’s risotto and portobello steaks, etc. etc. Imagine my surprise when he orders, spaghetti and wheatballs.

OK, OK…I should back up. There’s nothing wrong with spaghetti and meatballs (vegan), but as a kid, this was the cheap, fast dinner. So…when I go out, I want something I cannot make at home (or won’t make because it is so time consuming). I want something beautiful and delicious and unique. Not him, spaghetti and wheatballs it is! I thought he was nuts! The journey continues! This search for the perfect “meatball” is never going to end! Order something decadent, I want to yell! But, I don’t!

Our meals come and our plates are gorgeous! He tastes it and is blown away! You know I’ve got to try it now! WHOA! The search has ended! This dish is decadent, rich, delicious and NOT your ordinary cheap, fast spaghetti and “meatball” dinner! It’s truly amazing! We are both left speechless!

As we clean our plates, the search for the perfect “meatball” has ended! Who would’ve known it would’ve taken so many years and a switch to a vegan diet to find it! Vegan Wheatballs…you rock!

2016 is Gone: The New Year Begins

via Daily Prompt: Gone

Some of us mark the new year by the school calendar…new books, new teachers, summer is over, it’s September.  Some of us mark the new year by calendar year…a new start, resolutions, the hope for a new beginning, it’s January.  Some of us choose to honor each new day as a new beginning.  Whichever you choose, we are all together as we usher in 2017.  You may see it as a continuation or a new beginning.

January 1st, for some, tends to be the marker for fresh starts.  We tend to think of things we’d like to change and begin making those changes.  We think of things we want to leave behind.  We reflect on what the year has brought to us and what we have lost.  While the calendar year of 2016 may be gone, the ideas we have are not.  We may want to lose weight, take a class, learn a lanuguage or to play an instrument, learn to live a vegan lifestyle.  Whatever your thoughts are for this new “start”, you must think about how you will implement them.  Here are some pointers:

*Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish.  Do not overload yourself with resolutions.

*Set reasonable goals and timeframes–don’t make it too large or too far away.  I find small goals are more easily attainable and boost your confidence thus enabling you to get to the finish line.

*Enlist a buddy.  It’s so much easier to reach your goal if you have someone cheering you on and working towards the same goal.

*Focus on your goals each day.  Why are you doing this?  What is the benefit?  What will it bring to your world?  We all need reminders.  Write down your goals and why your working towards them each day.  Give yourself post-it boosts on your mirror (post a note to yourself the night before for a great pick-me-up in the am!).

*If your goals change, don’t be so hard on yourself. Sometimes we realize what we are doing is not really for us.  It’s ok.  You gave it your all.  For example, your resolution is to take up hiking, but after trying and pumping yourself up, you realize you’re more of a yoga gal.  It’s ok.  New days bring new beginnings!  You don’t have to wait until 2018 to begin yoga classes!

*If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!  You may miss a target goal or your timing may not be as planned, it’s ok, get back up and try again!  Don’t be too hard on yourself!

With last year gone and this year beginning, you can continue being as great as you are or you can add some new greatness!  Be you!  Happy New Year!