Posts Tagged Vegan/Vegetarian

Resolutions for 2009

 

I hope the New Year finds my readers healthy, happy and progressing merrily on keeping their resolutions.  Check out www.43things.com .  It’s a site where you can post your resolutions and get encouragement from other readers.

I promised I would let you in on my “areas for change”. I didn’t actually make “resolutions” and haven’t attempted any improvements, so I guess at this point, I’d call them “hopeful intentions for future change”.

One is physical, one is emotional and one is spiritual.

The physical change is, not surprising, to eat healthier and get back into an exercise routine. I thought when I became a vegan it would be difficult to keep eating junk food and abusing my body. Not so! The abusive foods are different, but it’s still quite easy to be malnourished as a vegan! At least I’m only hurting myself and not the beautiful four legged creatures in the world who deserve so much better than they get.

The spiritual change I need to make is to rededicate my time to prayer. I have been feeling forsaken and alone lately. This is not surprising since my prayer life has been all but nonexistent. God never goes anywhere. We humans, on the other hand, move close to Him and far away depending on our moods, discipline and circumstances. I have walked away and then wonder why He doesn’t care. How screwed up is that?!

The emotional change I need is to shake this feeling of depression and despair. To be honest, I could easily sleep 18 hours a day just so I wouldn’t have to face life.  There are real reasons for this — none of which I can change — so I have no choice but to change my reactions to my circumstances.  This is really all any of us can do in most instances anyway!

I realize all three areas for change are interconnected. Research shows that exercise is as effective at treating depression as medications and I know if I spent more time talking with God, my funk would lift as well. I also realize that I need God’s help to make physical and emotional changes which is an incentive to work on the spiritual changes I need to make. I know if I were eating healthier and exercising more, I wouldn’t be so tired when it comes to praying.

Now, what I don’t know is what it will take for me to get beyond the knowledge of what needs to be done and actually make a commitment to DO IT. I can’t seem to psych myself up to break out of a paper bag and I know I need a lot more “oomph” to make these changes. Although I desire the results such changes would bring, I honestly don’t care enough to lift a finger to change any of it. But I’m not content by any means, so accepting the status quo isn’t a workable solution either.

If anyone knows of a motivational technique to shake me out of my apathy, I’d be grateful to hear it.   By the way, I did wake up this morning with the tiniest bit of hope and motivation.  I got a little exercise and re-introduced myself to God.  Hopefully one baby step will build on another.

P.S. Don’t forget to check out www.seewhykinsman.blogspot.com and give me feedback on the new blog format. Unless I hear a major outcry, this blog address will be defunct in another week or so.

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Giving is the Best Gift

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Yesterday I asked you to accept the challenge of giving something for the next 29 days as a way to live a life of gratitude, especially during the ever increasingly materialistic holiday season.  (http://www.29gifts.org/)

John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 

For the next couple of days, I’m going to give you ideas how to do just that.  My FAVORITE charities are World Wildlife Fund (www.wwf.org), Big Cat Rescue (www.bigcatrescue.org) and the Humane Society of the United States (www.hsus.org) since the environment and animals TOP my list of priorities.  All three are rated very highly for money management and providing most of your donation to the cause and less to fundraising and administration.  You should always check out charities before donating to get the most “bang for your buck” and ensure your funds are being spent wisely.  One good site for doing so is www.charitynavigator.org

Tomorrow I’ll give you more ideas for donating to worthwhile causes.

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Thankful for . . . Grace

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I’m going to take a break the rest of this week and let you all have a break as well so you can focus on the holiday preparations and being thankful.

As you know, I’m a vegan, which means I don’t eat any animal products:  dairy, meat, eggs, honey.  I’m very thankful that most of my family and friends are supportive of my veganism.  Even mere acquaintances are gracious — that’s Southern hospitality and charm at work (I live in Alabama).  So many vegans and vegetarians have to deal with teasing and insensitve comments from the carnivores in their lives.  Vegetarian Times recently asked their readers for their favorite responses in this type of situation.  My favorite:  “Why just say grace when you can practice it instead?”  Why, indeed?!  Have a Happy No-Turkey Day.

I’ll see you back her after the long holiday weekend on Monday, December 1st.  In the interim, feel free to post a comment or send me an e-mail (seewhykinsman@yahoo.com) about what makes you thankful this year!

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World Vegan Day — Better Late than Never!

vegansocietyWorld Vegan Day was November 1st.  I know I missed it, but since November is Vegan Month, I figured it’s better late than never!

World Vegan Day is a holiday that has been celebrated since 1994 on November 1st, the anniversary of the creation of The Vegan Society in 1944. 

As I’ve said many times, replacing even one meal a week with a vegan option has huge benefits for your health, improving the environment, ending world hunger, alleviating animal suffering, etc.  Please check out this blog article for more on the benefits of a vegan diet: 

http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com/2008/07/eat-your-veggies.html

As French lawyer, author and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) once said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

In belated honor of World Vegan Day and celebration of November as Vegan Month, I’m sharing one of my absolute favorite vegan recipes.  In the past, I’ve tried to share recipes that don’t require any exotic ingredients.  However, this recipe is worth looking for the vegan ingredients if you aren’t already an herbivore.  By the way, the vegan mayonaise, sour cream and margarine brands referenced below are MUCH better than the non-vegan options.  If you try them once, I guarantee you and your meat eating family will want to make these items permanent changes in your fridge just for the taste, texture and pleasure of it!

Vegan Hollandaise Sauce

1/4 cup (1/2 stick)  Earth Balance margarine, softened

3/4 – 1 c. Tofutti sour cream

1/3 c. Vegenaise mayonaise

3 tsp. nutritional yeast

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. black salt

1/2 tsp. tumeric

1 1/2 – 2 Tbs. lemon juice

Note:  Black salt can be found in Indian grocery stores and ordered off the internet — I got mine at amazon.com.  A little goes a long way, but it’s crucial to give your recipes the flavor of eggs.  Don’t let the sulfur smell throw you off, or the color (it really is dark gray).  It’s delicious in any vegan “egg” dish.

For Vegan Eggs Benedict, toast an English muffin and top it with the above Hollandaise Sauce, thin slices of tofu soaked in soy sauce, tamari, or Braggs liquid aminos, a slice of smoked tempeh, and a slice of Tofutti American cheese.  Heat in the microwave or under the broiler until the cheese is melted and mmm mmm mmm.  

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Winners of Bon Appetit and Yummy Reader Recipes

We have our winners of Sandra Byrd’s book, Bon Appetit:  Congratulations to Lisette of Houston, TX, and Brittney of Daly City, CA!  Thanks to everyone who entered.  Remember, if you didn’t win, you can buy the book (and her first book in the French Twist series, Let Them Eat Cake, on www.amazon.com and your other favorite booksellers. 

Two of our readers took me up on the offer to double their changes of winning by submitting recipes for French food.  This paid off for Brittney!  Below are the recipes from the readers, as well as a recipe of my own.  After seeing the Disney movie, Ratatouille, I had to find the recipe and try it.  It’s traditionally a VEGAN option (how cool is that?!) with lots of healthy veggies.  Thank you to Brittney and Yan for their contributions.

 Brittney of Daly City, CA, supplied the following recipe: 

Crème Brûlée
– 8 eqq yolks

– 80 g (1/3 cup) sugar; for the initial mixture

– 500 ml (2 cups) heavy cream

– 6 ml (1 teaspoon) of vanilla extract

– 60 g (½ cup) sugar; for the caramel at the end

– Preheat oven to 150ºC (300ºf)

– Put the egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl. Mix (or whisk) until the sugar is completely dissolved. At this point, the mixture should be thick and pale yellow.

– Add the cream and vanilla extract to the bowl and mix them in thoroughly.

– Strain the mixture into a bowl. The strainer will remove any clumps in the mixture. Use a spoon to skim off any foam or bubbles.

– Divide the mixture among 6 ramekins (see note on ramekins below).

– Place the ramekins in a large pan and add water to the pan. The water should be about half the height of the ramekin. Make sure that you don’t spin any water into the ramekins. Some people put hot water (e.g. heat some up in a hot water kettle) into the pan instead of cold water. This shortens the cooking time and in some cases (depending on your ramekin) gives a more even finish.

– Put the pan in the preheated oven until the custard is set at the edges of the ramekins but still loose in the centre . In other words, the custard should be firm at the edge of the ramekins, but like jello in the centre. This will take about 50-60 minutes, with the exact time depending on the shape and size of the ramekins.

– Remove from the oven. Take the ramekins out of the pan and allow them to cool for at least 2 hours.

– When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining sugar over the tops of each custard (the sugar should be divided evenly among the 6 ramekins).

– Melt the sugar until it starts to caramelise (the sugar turns brown, but not black). This is best done with a small hand-held torch. If you don’t have a torch, put them under the oven grill until the sugar caramelises.

– Put the ramekins back into the fridge for a few minutes before serving, to allow them to cool.

Yan of Philadelphia, PA, supplied this recipe:

Crepes

2 eggs

1 cup milk

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

In a blender combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and oil. Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Pour 1/4 cup of crepe batter into pan, tilting to completely coat the surface of the pan. Cook 2 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes up to 8 servings, you can also add some cinnamon or vanilla extract.

Fill them with fresh fruit, drizzle on some chocolate, and a dollop of whipped cream and it makes a great dessert or for breakfast if you want!

Yours truly supplied this recipe, inspired by Disney!

Ratatouille

 1/2 cup olive oil

2 large onions, sliced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium-sized eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

4-6 medium sized zucchini, thickly sliced

2 red and/or orange peppers, seeded and cut into chunks

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. basil

1/4 cup fresh minced parsley

4 large tomatoes, cut in chunks 

Over high heat, heat olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened but not brown.

Stir in eggplant, zucchini, peppers, salt, basil and parsley. Add a little more oil if needed to keep the veggies from sticking.

Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir gently and carefully to retain shape of veggies as they soften.

Add tomatoes. Stir gently. Add more oil if sticking.

Cover and cook over medium-low heat for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Best if served a day or more after preparation so the flavors blend. Can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.

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The Day I Bought Worm Poop — Or How the Crazy Get Crazier!

As promised, today I will share the story of the day I bought worm poop.  It started out as a seemingly sane pursuit:  my husband mentioned he was going to buy fertilizer for the lawn this past Spring.  “Wait!  Let me find something safe for the pets and birds.”  I wanted to find fertilizer that wouldn’t harm our two Chihuahuas or the birds, bunnies, beach mice, toads and other wildlife we have around our home.  So I started looking online for “pet safe” fertilizer and found a number of options, all of which were labeled “natural” and “organic”.  Do you know what’s in natural, organic fertilizer?  The blood and bones and manure of cows, pigs, chickens and other slaughtered animals!  I felt myself getting faint.

So now I’m typing “pet safe, vegan” fertilizer into my browser wondering, “Is there such a thing?”  Yep.  It turns out the very, very best fertilizer for one’s yard is “worm castings”.  That’s a nice way of saying “worm poop”.   I found about a dozen different websites.  I was overwhelmed by the choices and didn’t know how I was going to make the best choice.  Well, after doing some research I found out not all worm castings are the same.  Long story made short, you have to find red worm castings for high quality fertilizer; you need to make sure it’s 100% pure; you need to make sure the worms are fed high quality food.  Unfortunately, the websites weeded themselves out with usually bad customer service.  I had a number of questions being uneducated in the ways of worms, so I sent out messages to each one.  Sadly, about half the website owners didn’t respond.  The other half gave me incomplete answers or seemed irritated by the follow up questions I had. 

The only website I found which met the above product criteria AND responded promply and completely to every question was Rising Mist Organics.  http://www.wackyworldsof.com/  The owner thought it was hilarious when I wrote that I didn’t mean to sound completely nuts, but could she please assure me that her worms were treated well, their poop was harvested humanely and they were gven a good life.  She explained to me that it sounded like I was “her kind of nut”.  She and her husband were both vegans and believed in doing no harm.  She described the worms’ diets (all organic food; their diets are better than mine) and their treatment (very good lives).  She requested that when I was ready to order, I please call instead of placing the order online.

When I called her, I asked if she wanted me to call in order to facilitate my order or only because I was so crazy, she wanted to talk to me in person.  She laughed and admitted it was mostly the latter.  We talked for almost an hour and I found a kindred spirit!  She lives in a small, rural town and we agreed that sometimes it’s hard being the only crazy person where you live.  She told me a couple of weeks prior, they had a huge rain storm and she was out with her front end loader, moving the worms to higher ground.  She said she was sure the whole town was talking about her like they did about Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams” when he started mowing down his corn fields.  She told me several months prior, she was at the town hall for a meeting.  Someone was going to kill a bug and she yelled, “No! Don’t kill it!” without even thinking.  She then went and scooped up the bug on a piece of paper and carried it down the center aisle to the door to set it free.  She said not one of several hundred people said a word, but they never took their eyes off her or uttered a word as she made her way to the door with the bug and again back to her seat.   I told her stories of my own.  We agreed that living together on a commune — or at least having a few more like minded people in the neighborhood — would be comforting sometimes.

By the way, worm castings are the BEST fertilizer ever!!!  They will NOT burn your grass (or plants or flowers or vegetables).  Although “expensive”, they actually are a better deal than anything you’d buy at Lowes or Wal-mart because they need application only once a year and, in fact, they continue to fertilize the ground 2-3 years after application.  They are completely safe for pets, children, wildlife and ground water.  Finally, no animals — including worms — are harmed. 

I started out with a seemingly easy task . . . find fertilizer safe for our pets and wildlife . . . which evolved into finding vegan, organic, safe, humane fertilizer.  I was not disappointed with worm castings, or with Rising Mist Organics and their funny, friendly, do-good owners.  And now you know how crazy can feed on itself!

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Be Careful What You Do — People are Watching!

Yesterday I promised to tell you a story about what I was like before I hugged trees.  Actually, it’s more accurately a story about WHEN the tree-hugging seed was planted in my spirit.

The college “me” would have never recognized the “me” I am today.  Nor would the college me and the current me have liked each other.  In fact, they would have HATED each other!  The early college version of me was a prissy little thing — I cared about my hair, my make-up, the name on the tag inside my shirt, consumption, all the shallow “in” stuff.  UGH.   That changed dramatically throughout my college years, but by the time I was a junior, I still really didn’t know anything about the environment.  I’d always cared deeply for animals, but that care and compassion didn’t translate into any sort of action.  In fact, I wasn’t really even aware of the plight of animals except for a very narrow, limited notion of my local shelter. 

One of my majors in college was English.  When I was a junior, I took a senior level Shakespeare class.  It was known for being a tough class because the professor was known for failing the majority of his students because “they couldn’t write well”.  By the time someone is a senior with an English major, a failing grade because you can’t write just isn’t expected.  Anyway, I ended up sitting next to a young woman whom I can picture perfectly in my mind to this day.  Her name was Mary. 

Mary was a tree hugger.  She looked like she dressed exclusively from camping and outdoor catalogs; she never wore a stitch of make-up; she biked everywhere; she ate twigs and bark and grass-like food during class; and she had a light brown braid three-quarters of the way down her back.  I used to think, “She’d be so pretty if she just did something with herself.”  Now I know she WAS pretty; in fact, she was beautiful.  Talking to Mary was like talking to someone from a foreign country.  Scratch that.  Talking to Mary was like talking to someone from another planet!

Mary’s dad was a college professor on sabbatical, teaching in India and doing missionary work on the side while he was there.  I don’t remember if her mom had a job, but Mary came from a family of 8 or 9 children.  One day in the middle of the winter, she noticed I was in the midst of a really bad asthma attack after walking to class.  She asked if there was anything she could do to help.  I brushed her off (I barely knew her at this point), but after class she persisted in asking if she could help me in any way.  She happened to have a car (her parents’) that day and asked if she could drive me anywhere to spare my lungs a walk in the cold weather.  She ended up driving me to work which saved me a long walk, bus ride and another shorter walk.  I have to admit, although most of me was SO GRATEFUL for her kindness, a tiny part of me was judging this “do gooder” stranger!  I didn’t know her at all and she was giving me a ride to work many miles out of her way?!

Well, Mary and I became something short of friends, but more than acquaintances.  We shared study notes, talked a little before and after class, etc.  One day in the spring she offered to drive me home after class and we decided to get a bite to eat on the way.  She took a route I never had (since I didn’t have a car at school) so she suggested the place to eat — Arby’s.  I didn’t like Arby’s, but could hardly argue since she had the car and knew the area.  Here’s the turning point for me.  When we ordered, she FREAKED OUT when the server put a plastic lid on her cup before she could stop him.  She asked him if he took it off the cup, would he be able to reuse it?  The server looked about as confused as I felt.  He didn’t know WHAT she wanted (the plastic lid off the cup) or WHY she wanted it (we were eating in, why waste the plastic) or WHAT the big deal was (conserving even the smallest part of the environment by stopping the unnecessary use of a plastic drink lid making a cup “to go” that was not “to go”).  She was adamant, relentless, until she beat him down and made him take it back and ensured it went back on the “to be used” pile instead of being thrown away (only he had touched it). 

Mary then spent 10 minutes on her soap box once we got to the table about the environment, the evils of plastic and unnessary waste, stewardship of resources, guarding against consumption, small changes adding up, everyone doing their part and other things I didn’t begin to understand.  

I could hardly wait to get back to my apartment so I could call my mom and talk with her about all of this.  I was attracted to Mary’s convictions, and repelled for the same reason (this chick was nuts!)  But you know what?  I was NEVER able to look at another drink cup lid without feeling guilty, without thinking of Mary, without thinking of her diatribe.  Fast forward 17+ years (gosh, has it been that long?!)  NOW I’M THE NUT!  The first time I FREAKED OUT in a Taco Bell because they put the plastic lid on my husband’s “eat in” drink cup before I could stop them, I saw the same confused look on my husband’s face, the wavering, half smile of someone who’s thinking, “It’s okay, just please put down the spork you’re menacing and no one will get hurt!” 

Mary’s tiny little act of conviction changed my entire life and, for the record, my mom’s who also is a vegan tree-hugger, and my husband, who is learning to hug trees, and the hundreds or thousands of other people I hope I might be influencing every time I follow in her noble footsteps. 

So pay attention to even the little choices you make — you don’t know who’s watching or what kind of exponential impact you may be having across the generations.

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, so I’ll be absent from the blogging world.  But when I return on Friday, I will announce the winner of the For Young Men Only book giveaway and I’ll tell you about the day earlier this summer when I decided to buy worm poop.  You won’t want to miss this story, I promise!

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