Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dear PeTA

Last week, I checked the mail and had a survey from the State of Minnesota.  I was curious as to why the state would be sending me a survey.  Perhaps they wanted me to tell them how to keep snow off our streets in the winter.... Or how increase tourism...  I opened it to discover it was a survey from none other than PeTA.  That's right, the lovely paint-tossing, sexist, fat-phobic PeTA sent me a survey to ask me all about cruelty to cats and dogs.  They wanted to know how aware I am of the cruelty that happens to cats and dogs on a regular basis.  Then, on the back of the survey, there was a request for donations.  PeTA was even so kind as to circle the $19 a month option for me, telling me that this was the amount that would help them the most. 

See, here's the thing, PeTA: I don't like your organization.  I never have.  I think the tactics PeTA uses to spread their message are atrocious and vile.  Most of you probably know some of the things PeTA has done that are below the belt.  But in case you don't, let me share.

1.Fat-Phobia: Yes, PeTA is incredibly fat-phobic.  They have posted numerous billboards shaming overweight people in order to get the message out that being vegan may help you lose weight.  Yes, it's true that people who follow a plant based diet tend to be thinner than their meat eating counterparts.  Yes, eating a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of becoming obese, or getting an illness commonly linked to meat and dairy consumption (such as high blood pressure.)  However, it is not true that all vegans are skinny.  It's also not true that all meat eaters are fat.  Becoming a vegan is not a sure fire weight loss venture.  And fat shaming people is not ever going to get you what you want.  Below are some examples of PeTA's fat shaming ads:

(This one is especially awful because it implies that fat people can't be or shouldn't be proud of their bodies.  I love my body, even when I'm fat.)

2. PeTA is sexist.  They commonly have ads featuring women wearing either no clothes or some bikini that shows off tons of skin.  They have made videos where a man and woman have very violent sex, then say it's because the man is vegan.  One only has to watch the following video to see how PeTA tries to appeal to men:

The entire video is based on the idea that the ONLY way to appeal to men is with sex.  It implies that men cannot do or accomplish anything in their lives unless sex is on the table.  This video implies that men can't become vegan because of moral or ethical reasons - which is bs.  If you are a man and you're not offended by the implications of this video, then color me surprised.

When looking at the way PeTA treats women, one need only look at the following advertisement:

There are hundreds of other ads like this that PeTA has put out that degrade women and put them in vulnerable positions.  The suggestion is that women are only valuable for their sex appeal and nothing else.  (That also goes back to the implication that men can only be enticed by sex.  Women are not here just for their sexuality, and men can be appealed to on more than just the most base level. 

So, PeTA, I am not going to thank you for sending me that survey.  I am not going to donate any money.  I won't promote your organization.  These and other reasons are more than enough for me to take my volunteerism and monetary donations elsewhere - and I'd urge all other animal activists to do the same.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stir Fry!

If you know me,you know I love a good stir-fry, especially a spicy one!  So, on this {mostly} photographed post - I present my supper from the other night that I promised I would take photos of! 

(There is more than enough to feed to or three people - or make into leftovers!)




Friday, August 21, 2015

Trail Mix Time

When I was thinking about this blog post, for some reason, the song "Peanut Butter Jelly Time," popped into my head.  But don't worry - there's no jelly in this trail mix! 

What you need:
1/4 lb of peanuts
1/4 lb of almonds
1/4 lb of walnuts
1/4 lb of sliced pistachios
1/2 lb of raisins
1/2 lb craisins
1/2 lb of dried bananas or cherries (or both if you like)
1 bag of vegan chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together in large bowl, then store in airtight container.  You can mix it into small bags or containers as well if you'll be bringing it with you for lunch or a trip.  The beauty of trail mix is that it travels so well you can bring it anywhere!  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thai Orchid

If you are a vegan living in or traveling to the Fargo/Moorhead area, stopping at the Thai Orchid is a must!  It is easily one of my favorite restaurants around.  Good food, with big enough plates to give you leftovers. 

When you go, be sure to try the spring rolls!  Totally awesome, totally vegan. 

If you love your food spicy, get yourself some Evil Jungle Noodle.  It's got rice noodles, bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo, coconut milk, and thai red curry.  It's amazing and sure to fill you up. 

In addition to those items, which are my faves, they also have Tom Kah soup, Tom Yum soup, Thai Salad, Somtum salad, Pad Basil, and a whole host of other great items that are or can be made vegan!  Just make sure you remind them not to use fish sauce! 

If you decide to pay the Thai Orchid a visit, you won't regret it.  Great restaurant, great staff, great food!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Veggie Buddha Bowl!

This is something that I love love love making!  It's delicious and healthy! 

What you need:
1/2 c brown rice
1 medium potato
1 carrot
1 c chopped broccoli
1 T Earth Balance

Cook the brown rice in a medium sized pot.  While the rice is cooking, cut the potato into slices.  Cut each slice in 4.  Peel and cut the carrot.  Chop the broccoli.  Place the earth balace in a skillet and heat.  Once heated, put the potatoes, carrots and broccoli in the skillet and cook until tender. 

Once brown rice and veggies are cooked, mix in a bowl and enjoy! 

This will easily serve 2 (unless you're really hungry!)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Navigating small town {vegan} life

If you've ever lived in or visited a small town, you know that vegans and vegetarians can often have a hard time finding food to eat.  They may find that everyone else in the town they live in or visit eats meat.  That can be frustrating.  But, have no fear: As someone familiar with the challenges, I am here to do a little "hometown" talk about finding options when you live in or visit a small town.  Consider is a "preview" of what my travel ventures will be like once I get my journey on the road and go to other places!

So, having grown up in and spent a lot of time in Fosston, a small town in Minnesota, I'm gonna talk about that area, and give all you other small town people's some idea. 

#1: If you ever visit a small town in Minnesota, don't be afraid to tell people what you don't eat.  People in small town Minnesota will probably look at you like you are crazy, because they all eat meat.  But they will be nice to you!  I mean, seriously.  If you stop at a restaurant, and they just have salad available for vegans - that's okay.  Just let 'em know you don't want them with eggs or shredded cheese and you'll be good.

#2: You probably won't be able to go to a grocery store in a small town and find fake meats or nut milks, but you will find lots of good produce, tons of farmers markets, and some decent vegan sauce things if you snoop around.  If you ever find yourself traveling through the small town of McIntosh, Minnesota, go to the Mac Country Store (located on Highway 2 by the rooster) and get some nut milk there!  They also have Thai Red curry - who can pass that up?!

#3: Don't be afraid to stop on towns like Bemidji, Grand Forks, Crookston, or other "big cities" in the area.  If you don't live in Minnesota, and have no plans to travel there, you can substitute the names of the "big" cities in your state.  These places are usually full of Wal-Marts, Targets, or - in the case of Bemidji - food coops like Harmony, that sell all manner of vegan faux meats and other options.  When you get a chance to actually go to a "big city" in the area, it's a great chance to stock up!

#4: Avoid fast food restaurants in small towns.  Chances are, they fry EVERYTHING in animal fat, including the french fries.  So, if you were in the mood for a salty treat, that would be out.  You're better off going to a grocery store and getting a bag of chips to satisfy your salty craving.

#5: If, during your stay in small towns, you find you want a drink, have no fear: Pretty much every small town has a liquor store with enough booze for even vegans to find something they can drink!  So, even if you are just passing through - you can find a 6 pack or some vegan liquor to make your day!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Thoughts on Cecil

This week, there has been a lot of outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion, a treasure to the land of Zimbabwe.  I hear that outrage.  I feel that outrage.  I think it is sickening that anyone could think it's okay to kill any animal for fun.  This poor lion, shot with a bow and arrow, then lured off his sanctuary and killed, did not deserve to die.  Here are a few thoughts I have about this, though.

Yes, it sucks that Cecil is gone.  Yes, it sucks that someone killed him ending his life.  But, there are so many animals that are killed on a daily basis - for your food, for your clothes, for your makeup and hair care products.  Do they deserve to die?  No.

We all, especially non-vegans, need to ask ourselves what we can do to end those unnecessary killings.  What can you do to stop that cow from dying?  What can you do to stop that shark from being used for your makeup or facial cleanser?  What can you do to stop that horse from being used for your glue?

The answer is simple: Go vegan.  Every single one of you who is outraged by Cecil's death - Go Vegan.  Every single one of you who is outraged by global warming - Go Vegan.  Every single one of you who is outraged by the death of innocent animals killed for your food - Go Vegan.  Every single one of you who has ever looked into the eyes of your dog, cat, or other companion animal and felt love and compassion - Go Vegan.  Because that is the best way to end the senseless killing and death of so many other animals around the world.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Vegan Life Travels

Hi everyone!  Some of you know me in person, but for those who don't know me, let me tell you something!  One of my dreams is to be able to travel.  I mean, who doesn't want to see more of the world, right? 

Well, as a challenge to myself, and as a new chapter in my life, I am going to start some travel around the US, stopping in different cities, visiting their restaurants, checking out vegan stores, and stores that sell vegan items - and writing about my travels here on my blog!  At some point, I am going to write about my adventures in a book as well.

One of the things I am doing before I start on my venture is raising some money for the costs.  I have launched a pretty stellar Indiegogo Campaign that you can view by clicking here!  I look forward to sharing my journey with all of you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Ex-Vegan Movement

There is this page I follow on Facebook called the Fat, Gay, Vegan.  The guy who runs it is pretty groovy!  This morning, he posted a link to a blog post from an ex-vegan (who really sounds more plant based than vegan) in which she talks about how, over the past few weeks, she has become a meat eater again.  The lady who runs the blog goes by Erika Awakening, and is, in addition to now being very anti-vegan, also a pick up artist who teaches men how to attract women.  That's right - she's an MRA.  (But that's not something I am going to delve into on this blog.)

Throughout Erika's anti-vegan blog posts (yes, she now has multiple anti-vegan posts), Erika talks about many "issues" that she experienced while being vegan.  She talks about how:

*Vegans are so angry all the time
*She started losing hair on a vegan diet (yes, she refers to it as a vegan diet throughout all her posts)
*She apparently looked like an emaciated bag of bones (her description of how all vegans look)
*Her hair started going gray at an alarming rate
*She was having chronic headaches and pain

These sound like pretty serious issues - but I would certainly not attribute them to following a plant based diet.  (See what I did there?  Plant based diet!  Yep - being vegan is a lifestyle, plant based is a diet.)  In the blog post titled My Break-up with Veganism, Erika mentions all the issues she had with her diet.  But, she never actually talks about what she was eating while plant based.  Was she actually eating plants or was she a junk food vegan?  Also, was she getting enough calories each day, or was she consuming a near starvation diet?

The average sedentary female burns roughly 1600 calories a day.  Active females burn more than that.  It is recommended that every female, regardless of their activity level consume at least 2000 calories a day.  This ensures that they will have enough calories to want to be active, and to meet their nutritional needs.  If Erika was consuming less than 1600 calories per day (and she may have been, but I can only speculate) this could have caused a lot of health issues for her.  Also, if she were surviving mainly on vegan junk food, this could have caused health issues as well.  (One only needs to look at Morgan Spurlock and his infamous month long experiment with McDonald's to know what an unhealthy diet can do to us.  I know - Spurlock was consuming animal products during that experiment, but unhealthy food is unhealthy food whether it's vegan or not.)

Erika also talks a lot about how vegans are angry all the time.  She has a very low opinion of vegans, and genuinely believes that they are angry and have cognitive deterioration and emotional imbalance.  Erika full heartedly believes that vegans brains are deteriorating because they are not eating animal products.  I find this to be diametrically different to everything I know about vegans - all the vegans I know are some of the kindest, most level-headed and most intelligent people I have ever met.  One of my close friends recently graduated as a straight A student and passed her NCLEX - she's now a nurse.  Her husband is equally intelligent.  So are other friends I have that are vegan.  They, contrary to what Erika seems to believe, show no sign of being angry, short tempered, or of lesser intelligence than meat eaters.

A lot of what Erika talks about on her blog are the nutritional deficiencies that she believes vegan are experiencing because they follow a plant based diet.  She talks about omega-3 and omega-6 deficiencies, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin K1 and K2 deficiency and just an overall concern for vegans health.  Since nutritional deficiency seems to be a huge concern for Erika, let's take a minute to talk about it.

Vitamin K1: This is found in largest amounts in leafy greens - you know: lettuces.  If you eat lettuce on a regular basis, you have nothing to worry about.

Vitamin K2: most commonly found in cheeses and fermented foods like natto.  Obviously, consuming dairy is out for vegans, but you can take supplements.

Vitamin B12: This can be a concern for vegans because B12 is most commonly found in animal products.  However, there are many foods that are fortified with B12 (including soy and almond milks, veggie burgers, chik'n burgers, and other fortified foods) and there are vegan supplements one can take as well.  If you eat enough fortified foods, or take a vegan supplement, you''ll be fine.

Omega-3 and Omega-6: Commonly found in fish, omega's help keep your cells healthy and can stave off inflammation.  Keep in mind that consuming MORE omega-6 than omega-3 can inhibit your bodies ability to turn DHA into EPA.  The following foods can help you get enough omega-3 and keep your omega-6 low enough that the omega-3's actually help your body: Flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, mustard oil, seaweed, beans, winter squash, leafy greens, cabbage family, berries, wild rice, herbs and spices, mangoes, and honeydew melon.  Visit this website if you want to know more.

I'm not going to turn this into one big nutritional lesson.  Let's just say: With a properly balanced diet full of lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and other healthy foods, people on a plant based diet can lead healthy, productive lives.

Overall, I find that Erika is just grasping at straws and searching for any way she can to justify eating animal products again.  I found, after reading through some of her blog posts and many of her replies to readers comments, that she sounded very bitter and angry towards vegans - that's just my perspective though.  I hope she can work through her issues towards vegans and realize that we are not the enemy and we are not out to get anyone.  Peace!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Circuses and Zoos VS. Sanctuaries

There are so many people who love going to zoos and circuses.  Here's the thing, though.  In circuses and zoos, the animals are often there against their will - they have been taken out of a natural environment and brought there for humans entertainment, or have been bred in a captivity that is abusive and enslaving.  The animals in these places are treated as commodities.  They are kept in cages or environments that are not large enough for them to be able to roam around, and are fed on a schedule that suits their trainer or handlers.  This also extends to places like SeaWorld that have whales in captivity in small swimming pool that are much smaller than, you know, the ocean.

There are other options though.  I would much rather have animals be in a sanctuary than a zoo or circus.  Generally, in a sanctuary the animals will have more space to roam and play, will not be abused or forced into performing for the public, and will generally be treated better than in a zoo or circus.

Don't just take my word for it, though.  Read the following articles and do some searching around on your own as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Make your own {stir fry} Sauce

Hi gang!  You all figured out after my post the other day that I love spicy hot food and stir fry.  Occasionally, I will make my own stir fry sauce.  Here is one of my favorite recipes!  This is very easy to make and doesn't take a lot of time.

You need:
1 Cup Soy sauce
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 TBSP Cayenne Pepper
2 cloves of garlic

Directions:  Chop the garlic up finely.  Then, mix everything together in a bowl (a small bowl is fine.)  There is enough here to mix with one serving of stir fry veggies.  You can adjust the cayenne pepper based on how spicy you want your sauce to be!

Once it's all mixed up, pour the sauce over your veggies, fry them up and eat!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Vegan {Super Spicy} Stir Fry

Hi all!  For those of you who know me in person, you know that I love spicy food.  In this case, I am not talking about food that is just flavorful, though.  I am talking about spicy hot - food that feels like it is burning your tongue out when you eat it because it is so spicy hot!  I.  Love.  Spicy hot!  Another not so secret: I love stir fry's.  This one is one of my faves!  It's Yuuuumy.

You need:

1 large russet potato
1 large carrot
A head of broccoli
1 to 1.5 C rice (you can pick what kind of rice you want to use - brown or white)
1/2 a bottle of House of Tsang Szechuan Sauce (vegan!!!!)


Put the rice and water in a pan and cook it while slicing the veggies.  While the rice is cooking, cut the veggies up.  (I cut the potato into slices, then cut the slices into slivers.  Peel carrot, then either peel it into thing slices or chop it up.  Chop broccoli.)  Once the rice is done, put it aside (or put it on a plate) and fill up a pan or wok with the veggies.  Pour the sauce over the veggies and cook until tender.  (Variation: You may cook the veggies with an oil, then pour the sauce over them.  I like to cook the veggies with the sauce, because it gives them a nice flavor.)

Serves: 2 (But truth be told, I usually save this and eat it for two to three meals all by myself!)