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Mar 27, 2010

 

Did any of you watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC? Wow! I’ve only watched the first episode so far, but was really impressed with the premise of the show. Jamie is on a mission to spark a revolution in how we approach food in this country, and to especially transform how we feed our children.. He can certainly inspire, can’t he? He also won that most recent TED award and you can watch the video of his impassioned acceptance speech at the TED website. I had a friend question me about the first episode in which Jamie prepares a healthy meal at a school that was feeding terrible food like pizza for breakfast and pink colored sugared milk. He made grilled chicken for lunch. My friend was wondering if I was disappointed in this choice of entrée. In fact, I am not. Yes, I would prefer that the kids were taught not only to appreciate and respect food, but to appreciate and respect animals to such an extent that they embrace a plant-based diet. However, in Oliver’s mission he is beginning his campaign in a community in West Virginia that is very very attached to their fast and highly processed food. Introducing healthy, pure ingredients is enough to elicit anger and hostility from some of the citizens as you can see in the episode. If Oliver were to come in and try to have them eat vegan??...forget it. It would never work. For the sake of the long run of his mission and for the sake of the lives of the kids in these schools, I support his approach.

 

What did you think of the show? If you’re vegan/vegetarian, does your diet choice influence your approval/disapproval of Oliver’s mission?

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Posted: Mar 27, 2010 11:50am
Mar 13, 2010

I've just finished reading Thanking the Monkey by Karen Dawn. In one of the last chapters she discusses conservationist, environmentalist, and animal rights organizations and how they at times differ in their stances on topics relating to animal welfare.

I was immensely disappointed to read that the WWF does not publicly oppose the Canadian Seal Hunt. I then visited their  website and sure enough found  their language on the issue to be neutral and insipid. I understand WWF is a conservation organization and that expanding its efforts into full force animal rights would remove funding and energy from its main mission of conservation. However, I am not talking about redirecting funds. I'm simply asking WWF to say that something humans are doing to animals is inhumane when it is. It is spineless when an organization whose mission statement includes "to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature," can't at the LEAST provide a statement of disapproval of the method of choice: clubbing the seals during commercial seal hunts which results in slow and painful deaths and which also often leads to skinning the seals alive. Am I missing something?  There is no other more humane way of doing this if they must (which is highly questionable)? This is what WWF  accepts as part of its pursuit of a future where humans are living in harmony with nature? WWF, are you going to lose such precious political or financial allegiances if you send a little "tsk tsk" to the fishermen who do this and the people/nations who condone it? If so, maybe it is those allegiances that the public and your supporters should be questioning.

I support the WWF financially every year because I appreciate the conservation work it does. But in this case, I think they have cowered and paid lip service at a time that called for more decisiveness and resolve. I am disappointed as I know other supporters of WWF are and I will be following the WWF’s continued involvement in this controversy.

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Posted: Mar 13, 2010 7:04pm
Mar 8, 2010
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Write Letter
Location: United States

California Fish and Game Department has announced plans to expand the number of black bears allowed to be killed by hunters. If approved, the Department's proposal will:

  • allow an unlimited number of bears to be killed across California during the hunting season;
  • permit the use of high-tech global positioning equipment and "tip switches" on dog collars to make it easy to locate and kill a bear at point-blank range;
  • open the first-ever bear hunting season in San Luis Obispo county and expand the hunts in Modoc and Lassen counties; and
  • significantly expand the hound training season thereby allowing dogs to harass bears nearly all year long.
Read more about this on MercuryNews. Then please follow two easy steps to send a letter through Animal Legal Defense Fund website to Eric Loft, Chief of the Department of Fish and Game.

Please don't wait! A final decision on the proposal is set to take place in mid April.
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Posted: Mar 8, 2010 6:38pm
Mar 4, 2010
I want to share some nutritional info that I use to keep my diet in check. I had someone ask me if I feel like I'm living off supplements. Absolutely not!! But, I might be if I didn't follow these guidelines. I keep a chart on my fridge of nutrients that we should all keep an eye on--vegan or not!--, my target daily intake for each, and some sources where I can get that nutrient. Here I'll just put those sources so you can shoot for a getting a good mix of these each day. Also, I STRONGLY recommend visiting a nutritionist a few weeks after seriously adopting a vegan diet to share your food log with her/him and get their feedback. I visited LeeAnn Smith here in Los Angeles, in case any of my neighbors here are looking for someone. I really liked her! So some of this info is thanks to her. Thanks, LeeAnn!

At the end of this note I'm including two recipes. One for butternut squash brought to you by a friend, Liz, and the other for my favorite FAST and delish cole slaw.

Nutrient sources:
Vitamin A - 1-2 medium carrots, mango, half a cantaloupe, cooked pumpkin (1 cup) or 1 cooked sweet potato, spinach.
Omega-3 fats - flaxseed oil, canola oil, hemp oil, soy, walnuts. Limit corn, sunflower, safflower, soy and "vegetable" oils.
Vitamin B12 - I get this in my multivitamin.
Calcium - Fortified soymilk, ricemilk, orange juice, etc., broccoli, kale, collard greens (these are PACKED with Calcium...360mg in just 1 cup of cooked collared greens), and other leafy greens.
Vitamin D2 - D2 supplement if you're not getting 40-60 mins in sun
Iodine - You can get this in some multivitamins, but LeeAnn told me that I get this in the regular amount of table salt that I eat (which isn't much!)
Protein - Beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soyfoods like tofu.
Iron - Whole grains and green leafy veggies. Try to consume iron sources WITH vitamin C and NOT WITH calcium supplements, coffee, or tea.


COMPREHENSIVELY STUFFED SQUASH (From the moosewood cookbook)

Ingredients:

Butternut Squash, 2 large
Onions, raw, 1 cup, chopped
Garlic, 3 cloves
Celery, raw, 1 stalk, chopped
Olive Oil, .5 tbsp
vegan Cheddar Cheese, 1 cup, shredded
Bread crumbs, dry, grated, plain, 2 cup
Lemon Juice, 2 tbsp.
Raisins, .25 cup
Salt, 1 tsp
Pepper, black, 4 dash
Thyme, ground, 1 tsp
Sage, ground, 1 tsp

Directions:

Split butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and strings. Place face down on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 - 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute onion in oil till translucent. Add garlic and celery, salt, pepper, and herbs. Cook about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Place stuffing in the cavity of the squash and bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes.



CRANBERRY SLAW

Serves: 8 to 10
This slightly sweet slaw is easy enough for everyday meals, yet plenty festive for holiday meals.

Ingredients:

6 cups thinly shredded white cabbage (use pre-shredded coleslaw if you'd like)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl and mix until well combined. Serve at once or cover and refrigerate until needed.

My notes: I like to use fresh red and white or green cabbage just to make it more colorful. I don't use bagged cabbage unless I have to. I also don't really like the toasted almonds, but just regular raw almonds instead. If you prefer crisp slaw, then don't leave it sitting for too long (maybe a few hours max) before serving. I like mine to be less crisp, so I leave mine overnight covered in the fridge.

Bon appetite!
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Posted: Mar 4, 2010 6:33pm
Mar 3, 2010

A plant-based diet is the healthiest there is...I'm more and more convinced of this all the time. I'm definitely not an expert on veganism! But, I have recently had some facebook friends who have been interested in what I've learned so far and what kind of tips and recipes I've found to be handiest. I've been posting information on Facebook, but thought I should include them here too.

I'm going to do this little by little with a number of notes. First of all, I want to say that the easiest way to slowly start out is to think of what kind of dishes you enjoy making NOW that are actually already vegan. Don't start thinking about tofu and seitan if it's too overwhelming at first! For instance, I love making roasted potatoes with just cubed potatoes smothered in grapeseed oil and an herb mix (thyme is one of my favorites to include). I just cook them at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. You can also include yams, carrots, scallions, onions, etc etc. Yummy and vegan. Keep in mind that carrots and other hard produce takes longer to soften when cooking so cube/cut your softer veggies larger to make up for the increased cook time. The potatoes make a great side, or if you just include the potatoes and cube them small then they're great at breakfast time with some ketchup. mmmm.

So Tip 1: Try to think of salads and sides that are vegan and make an effort to include them more in meals. The more you can simply do what you're already doing as you try out some vegan meals then you can worry less about complicated substitutions and finding vegan foods that are hard to locate except in stores like Whole Foods.

Tip 2: Start looking at ingredients. Alot of your main dishes might require milk and meat which you'll have to change, but it may also be that the processed items you're used to buying have milk/egg in them. So start checking out the ingredients of the food that you're buying and see if it contains milk/egg. An item you like may seem vegan, but it's not. Bread has been an item that was challenging for me at first. It's hard to find bread that doesn't contain at least a small bit of milk. Now I know what I like, but at first I was looking at lot of labels before picking a loaf. I buy Ezekiel 4:9 bread now which is delicious and made from organic whole grains. It's on the expensive side, but worth a try if you can find it where you live. There are other less expensive brands too...but again, take a good look at that label. And, just a general rule of thumb that I use for overall health...the fewer the ingredients the better!

Tip 3: My last tip for now has to do with substitutions. Instead of going into detail about all the options, I'll first direct you to www.chooseveg.com/vegan-substitutes.asp. At that site you'll find recommendations for brands that can replace meats, milk, butter, etc. Here I'll just list some of the replacements that I find most helpful for MY eating habits:


Butter - Earth Balance is my favorite. In the refrigerated section.
Eggs - For cooking I use Ener-G Egg Replacer. For scrambled egg dishes I used mashed tofu. I'll post a simple scramble recipe soon.
Milk - Soymilk is good and easy to find, but you don't want to get too much soy. And if you're eating alot of tofu then you're probably getting your fill. Better yet, try rice milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. These are all tasty and can easily substitute for milk in most recipes. I like rice milk in mashed potato dishes, soymilk in my coffee, and coconut milk as a beverage.
Ground meat - Yves Ground Round. The package gives you tips on how to prepare it.
Deli meat - I get Tofurky, but Yves also makes deli varieties.
Other meat - Seitan and Tempeh are my favorites. Tofu is in third place. Recipes for these will be coming soon!

Lastly, I want to recognize that these kinds of items can be hard to find in typical grocery stores. If you really want to try to eat a plant-based diet but can't find some of these then simply start out with meals that strike a good balance between veggies (make sure to get leafy greens in there), fruits, grains (preferably whole grain), nuts/seeds.

My next note will be about nutritional needs with a few recipes too!

Bon appetit!
Simone
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Posted: Mar 3, 2010 12:59pm
Feb 27, 2010
Of the following books and movies, which made a difference in your personal decisions to pursue a vegetarian or vegan diet? If it's not on the list, then please select "Other" and share the title.

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Posted: Feb 27, 2010 4:17pm
Feb 27, 2010

It's a fine line for me sometimes between educating myself and torturing myself. I decided to return to Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animalsby Karen Dawn. I had started the book a while ago, but took a break from it as life got hectic. So one night recently I got in my PJs, brushed my teeth, got into bed and cracked the book open to the last dog-earred page. Now don't get me wrong...the book is great! It tries to present the facts about treatment of animals for human consumption, research, fashion and entertainment without being too gruesome and including all the while cartoons and a sassy, sarcastic narrative voice. Still, as I started reading about chicks and deabeaking, bulls in rodeos and dogs skinned alive for the fur industry...I started experiencing the same thing that always happens. My heart starts racing, I start sweating, my throat gets tight, and I dread turning the page in case there is a picture that shocks my system. Is this reaction normal?? By the time I put the book down I felt as though I had forced myself through a traumatic event and finally could shudder and cry and block all of the thoughts and images in my head...and all that in order to try to fall asleep! I don't think I've ever had a panic attack, but this has to be somehwere on the attack spectrum right?

The question for me then is how to educate myself without traumatizing myself. Believe me, I WANT to know this kind of information. I feel empowered and ready to charge forward for animal rights eventually after reading or watching things like this, but I can only handle so much at a time. Maybe that is part of the answer, to take it all in small, spaced-out doses. One other moment of realization that helped me to handle this kind of information happened in October. A friend and I went to see a showing of A Peaceable Kingdom, as I wrote about before. As soon as the movie started my heart jumped and began racing. I should have looked up the movie before going because I had not prepared myself for what was clearly in store. The movie isn't as explicit as some, but it was so hard to watch. I felt like I was hyperventilating through most of it and was so thankful for the portions of the film where they left the slaughterhouse floor and returned to the farm's inspirational stories of rescue. Those were the times where I could take a deep breath and collect myself again. But what was most interesting to me as I considered my reaction to this was the possible internal reactions that my friend was having. She definitely did not know what this film was going to be about and I felt so responsible all of a sudden for making sure that she was okay. I can remember vividly the very very very first photo I ever saw of animal suffering...and that was on the cover of a magazine...showing blood-filled water and massacred dolphins being hauled over a whaling boat's helm. So intense was the shock of that image that just the memory of it elicits a strong viceral reaction. Yet in that moment I had the choice to open up the journal and look at MORE pictures (which I did) or to put it down and remember just that one photo. In contrast, here was my friend who was pretty much obligated to sit here and take in an hour and a half of these images which may be the first ones like this that she has ever seen. I was so concerned about her and in the midst of that concern for her naivete to the subject I realized how much I had seen and processed in my life. How much I could actually handle. How many strides I have made to be part of the solution to animal abuse. I was so thankful that I knew what I knew about animal treatment because little by little it became easier and easier to take in. Not that my goal is to be numb to the emotions! On the contrary, I never want to lose that because that is part of the motivation to make changes. Like I said, it's about striking a balance so I don't have to be traumatized every time. I think I'm approaching that balance.

On another note, I am super excited about an upcoming lecture that I'll be attending. This summer the movie Forks Over Knives will be opening. It's about the claim that some researchers and physicians have made that most degenerative diseases can be prevented or treated by plant-based diets. Check out the website...it looks pretty interesting. One of the leading researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, is going to speaking next Saturday (March 6th) in L.A. He'll be talking about The China Study which is one of the longest running health studies, the results of which support the claim about plant-based diets being nutritionally more beneficial. I'm looking forward to the talk and to the film.

Lastly, I want to share a sad piece of news. As I wrote about in a previous note, I recently visited Animal Acres, a farm animal rescue sanctuary in L.A. There I met a turkey that touched my heart. The turkey was obviously sick and was, I had hoped, recovering from whatever she had been through in the past. I recently inquired about financially "adopting" the sweet turkey. The Animal Acres representative I talked to informed me that the turkey's name was Pyrrah and that she had arrived at Animal Acres a few months ago after living at a factory farm. Because of her abuse at that "farm," she had an incurrable disease. Her legs were too weak to support her body and her health was quickly deterioriating. That very afternoon that I contacted Animal Acres she was scheduled to be humanely put to rest. So here is a tribute to little Pyrrah...and to all the creatures whose lives are made to be devoted to nothing else but our tastes and our entertainment. May you rest in peace and find a place full of green and wide open places. And thank you, Animal Acres, for giving her a few months of love and care.

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Posted: Feb 27, 2010 3:02pm
Feb 16, 2010


On Valentine's Day I visited Animal Acres for the first time. My sister, brother-in-law, and I drove the 45 minutes from L.A. out to Acton, CA to visit the farm. The first time I heard of Animal Acres was at the screeing of A Peaceable Kingdom at UCLA. I've been wanting to go see what it's like, but just haven't gotten around to it. When we made our plans I was so excited! I seriously went to bed the night before feeling like I couldn't wait to have to get up the next morning! Believe me, I NEVER feel like that! lol!

Animal Acres is a "farmed animal sanctuary and compassionate living center." Basically, volunteers at Animal Acres work to rescue animals who have been neglected, abandoned, abused, etc. whether that be by individuals who have mistreated them or by the larger factory farming industry. The animals there, who they call "residents," include cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, goats, sheep, and more. You can visit their website to find out more info at www.animalacres.org. It was an inspiring day to say the least. These animals are amazing and full of personality. Some of the stories or facts that especially moved me...

- Some of the pigs are 800 pounds or more. This is from genetic modification and causes them to have all kinds of health and motor problems. They have difficulty moving around and sometimes stumble or swerve because of their massive, unnatural size. Their skin can also be scaly because of the same genetic modifcation they've undergone. A pig's skin is actually supposed to be a different color and texture than these pigs'. Most extraordinary though, is how these pigs love affection. They want you to rub their tummies and grunt and snort while you do. They wag their little curly tails when you pet them!!


- Bruno, the gorgeous black angus who lives at Animal Acres has an incredible story to tell. A few years ago he was being raised to be a veal calf. For those of  you who have heard of this process, you know that it is horrendous. He was in the back of a truck transporting him and other calves to slaughter when the back doors of the truck flew open on the highway. The little calf fell out and was hit by a few cars. Eventually, California Highway Patrol rescued him and called Animal Acres to see if they could take him. They did. When the calf arrived, he had broken legs and was severely anemic because of his time being prepared to be a veal calf. He survived though and was given the name Bruno. When we met him, he saw this huge, beautiful, gentle creature just lying in the warm sun having a snooze. One of the volunteers came over to tell us about Bruno and began rubbing his neck and ears. Bruno turned his head all around so the volunteer could reach the best spots…just like a cat or dog! We decided that little Bruno jumped out of that truck on purpose two years ago. He thought, “If I’m going, I’m going MY way!” We sure do construct narratives for ourselves to grapple with the hard things in life, don’t we?


-The last story I want to tell is about a little turkey. I don’t know anything about him, because he and some other turkeys and one chicken were in a stable that was separated from the other birds. To me it looked like they must be recent arrivals. Their feather looked so tattered…some of them had hardly any feathers around their heads at all. The chicken was limping. The turkey, though, was the guy that really touched my heart. It seemed like he couldn’t walk. He was mostly sitting on his long legs and kind of scooting around to move. His feathers were especially ragged. Plus, there was a big wound on the back of his head. It is easy to imagine some of the ways the little turkey may have gotten into that condition. But whatever his past story might be (and I’ll try to find out!) I felt so much hope for him since he is at Animal Acres now. He has a second chance, like Bruno. I’ll try to keep you updated on my special turkey friend.


I won’t go on and on about Animal Acres, but I hope you will visit their  site and check them out. They’re always looking for volunteers and of course donations. You can even sponsor an animal. There are pictures of the sweethearts online. Go visit Bruno’s page!!


It was simply a perfect Valentine’s Day.

*******

On another note, I just want to say that today I learned what happens to the hens who no longer lay eggs at a “free range and pastured" chicken farm. They are sold as stewing hens. Learned some new information that has added to my determination to NOT be part of the animals-for-profit process. The best little organic farm can still send their now useless chickens off to be slaughtered just like all the others.

*******

Oh just ONE more thing…. A former high school classmate of mine told me yesterday that I was a big reason she became (and has stayed) vegetarian. Wow! I’m not being puffed up…it’s just one of those things that comes out of left field just when you need it the most. I am so humbled by the thought that my small efforts to be vegetarian in high school made an impact on someone like that. THAT is the spirit of this journal that I’ve started. Small steps…small steps…and who knows what big difference it will make. Thanks, Heather.


Have a great night everyone!

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Posted: Feb 16, 2010 10:24pm

 

 
 
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