How Vegan Are You?

22 01 2013

Alicia Silverstone eats cheese occasionally at parties, and Ellen DeGeneres eats eggs and was a spokesperson for cover girl. Both consider themselves to be vegan and have become a spokesperson for the cause. Do those flaws make them less vegan?

Personally, I would never cheat with food. Occasionally my husband does, but only with incorrect orders at restaurants. If the chef forgets to omit the cheese from his order he will remove what he can and eat it, to save the plate from being tossed. I have also seen him play the ignorance card with things like crackers or wine at parties.

My biggest vegan challenge is with TV and movies. Sure it’s easy to boycott shows like Animal Practice and Luck. But, what about the new Hobbit movie and its 27 deaths? For an avid fan this is a hard boycott to keep.

As for the shows that don’t have accusations of animal abuse, is it against the vegan code to catch Must Love Dogs on cable? Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind until recently. Now I feel a sense of guilt when watching shows containing animals. I have held up signs outside of the circus with the hopes that maybe one person in attendance would realize that animals deserve a life outside of being used for human entertainment. How is watching a movie that uses animals any different?

Of course there are huge variances for the use of animal as actors. Some sitcoms may have a family pet pop on for only an episode or two. There are even shelter dogs whose lives may have actually been saved because they were cast on Broadway. Those may be easy to overlook for some vegans. For me it is the equivalent of buying free range eggs from well treated chickens, sneaking some cheese at a party, or supporting the local zoo; it doesn’t follow the fundamentals of being a vegan, and it is a really easy change to make.

Unfortunately, my current TV and movie habits do not support my moral beliefs. I may not be able to give up my entertainment entirely, but for now I can commit to reducing my media consumption by cutting out shows and movies with non-human animals in them.





Vegan pest control

11 09 2012

Pest control is often a dilemma for many vegans. As an ethical vegan your compassion for life should not stop for a living being just because they are considered a pest. You may not like spiders and rats but that is not a reason to kill them, especially when there are other options available. I don’t like my neighbors — they affect my everyday life in a negative manner — but I do not wish death upon them (I put up a fence).

I take most of the bugs I find in the house outside (spiders, crickets, moths, stink bugs)- if I don’t ‘rescue’ the bugs my cats make quite a mess trying to catch them. There are VERY few bugs that I will kill; mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks make that short list. I have, on rare occasion, sprayed forming wasps nests with water to remove them and I usually feel guilty about the casualties.

As a vegan the best thing that you can do to help these ‘pests’ is to not let them become a larger problem. It’s all about prevention! These option are not only animal friendly, they are bug and eco-friendly too:

Inside:

  • Keep food in sealed containers and be sure to clean up all crumbs. Also, try to centralize your eating; avoid snacking in rooms other than the kitchen. Don’t forget to clean in places like behind the stove and under the fridge (who knows how food ends up there, but I always find a few crumbs.)
  • Try red pepper or hot sauce in areas where you find bugs entering your house, the bugs won’t cross through the burning hot area. You can also rub garlic along your windows if you don’t mind the scent.
  • Make you own spider repellent for your basement or other spider prone areas to keep them away.
  • Use humane traps to catch small rodents.
  • Keep your companion animals up to date with their flea treatments.  Flea repellents keep a lot more than just fleas from hitching a ride into your home.
  • If you have cockroaches place bay leaves in areas where they frequent, roaches can’t stand the smell.
  • You can also try ultrasonic pest deterrents.
  • Avoid keeping ripening fruit on your counters, the smell of sweet fruit attracts fruit-flies and ants.
  • Don’t forget to check your window screens for holes, and check doors and windows for gaps.

Outside:

  • Make fake wasp nests for areas where wasps frequent. Wasps are territorial,  they won’t build a nest if they believe other wasps already have inhabited the area.
  • Use repellents (deet free) and candles over bug zappers and wasp traps for outdoor activities.
  • Plants can be used to deter many bugs. Marigolds help with mosquitoes and garden bugs, and mint planted near cracks in your home prevents ants from entering.
  • Use a motion activated porch light. Not having to leave your porch light on for long periods of time cuts down on the amount of moths swarming around it and waiting to fly in your front door.
  • If you are in a termite prone area you can add compost to your yard (some termites are believed to move to your house if there isn’t enough organic material in the ground to consume.) You can also use strong magnets to prevent termite mounds from growing.
  • Ladybugs eat insects that are harmful to your garden. Keep more of them around by creating a ladybug home; fill a long tube with sticks, and place it near your garden.
  • Encourage bats to eat your bugs by getting a bat house.
  • Trim hedges and trees that are touching your house to prevent bug pathways.
Many of the options above have mediocre results if used at a stand-alone treatment.  Mix and match options to find the best results for your home.

If a home becomes infested; That’s a whole new dilemma for a vegan. There is no single answer. I don’t know any vegans that would hesitate to call the exterminator if they had termites or bedbugs. But what if there is a rat’s nest or raccoons in your attic? This is when you will have to invest a little time. Call around to find an exterminator who relocates wildlife — they are out there. You can even find companies who will relocate bee colonies that have taken over your walls. As a vegan you owe it to the ‘pests’ to make an attempt to find a humane removal option.





Easy Low Fat Spinach Pesto

11 09 2012

I am a lazy vegan on a budget, and between my two jobs I just don’t have a lot of time to spend cooking. Although I grow my own basil and love fresh pesto, I also do not have the money to spend on high quality olive oil (and I make pesto a lot, having a lower fat/oil version is also plus).

To get to the point, I have tested and manipulated several non-oil  recipes for  pesto, here is one of the better resulting sauces.

Low Fat Spinach Pesto

  • 6 oz Firm Silken Tofu (half of a soft pack box)
  • 3/4 C Frozen Spinach ( I like to ‘hide’ spinach in everything)
  • 3/4 C fresh basil (loosely packed)
  • 1/3- C Vegetable Broth (use 1/2 cup tor a thinner sauce)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 T Oil
  • 2 T Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 T Dried Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Optional items to add after processing:

  • Imitation Bacon bits
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Hot Pepper Flakes

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Heat on stove and serve over your favorite pasta.





Fast Mini Cinnamon Buns

6 09 2012

My husband always asked me to make him pancakes.  Eventually I responded with “why can’t you make them?” It turned out he didn’t have a clue how to make them, but was willing to learn.

I walked him through the steps- and even book marked the recipe for him. Boy was that a mistake!

Every Saturday and most Sundays he would ‘try’ to  make pancakes.   He would burn them frequently, some would be under cooked, and he made them even if we were out of syrup and fruit. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he wasn’t very good at making pancakes (I fed them to the dogs on several occasions!)

So how did I stop the pancakes without hurting his feelings? I offered to make cinnamon buns!

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 3/4 C Soy Milk
  • 1 T Baking Soda
  • 2 T Apple Sauce
  • 2 T Vegan Butter (softened)
  • 1 t salt

Filling:

  • 1.5 T Apple Sauce
  • 1 T Oil (or melted vegan butter)
  • 1.5 T Cinnamon
  • 1/3 C Sugar

Icing:

  • 1/2  Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2  Tablespoon Water
  • 1/4  Teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat the over to 425. Combine the flour, salt , and baking soda. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the particles are smaller than a pea.
Combine the soy milk and apple sauce and slowly add to the dry ingredients to form the dough.
Roll dough on a floured surface into a thin rectangle (roughly 9″x18″).

Mix the oil, apple sauce, and cinnamon for the filling and spread over the flattened dough.
Sprinkle the sugar over the dough, and roll the dough (from the long side) into a log.
With a sharp knife cut the log into 1 1/2 inch pieces and add to a greased pie pan.

Bake for 12-15 Minutes (until golden brown), top with the combined icing ingredients and serve.

Adapted from recipe for Cinnamon Buns.





15 things a vegan would never say

1 09 2012

For many vegans a cruelty free lifestyle goes beyond the dinner plate. From leather-free belts to animal friendly idioms, vegans can put a lot of thought and care into what they buy, eat, and even what they say!

Here are a few phrases, some all too common, that a vegan isn’t likely to be repeating:

  1.  “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off!”
  2. “What if you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only eat your dog…”-  Hmm, maybe the next time I get a ‘what if’ question I should say this one!
  3. “Going on a wild goose chase”- Rainbows are better to chase.
  4. “Where do you get YOUR protein?”- I am always happy when an omnivore is concerned about my protein intake, but chances are I won’t be asking them about theirs.
  5. “Kill two birds with one stone”
  6. “You’re dead meat!”
  7. “I could never give up [insert something you feel is morally questionable] I like it too much.”
  8. “Bringing home the bacon”
  9. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”- Birds in a bush are much better than any birds in my hand.
  10. “Cut the cheese” – Even if it’s soy or almond based cheese, vegans do that enough, we don’t need to bring more attention to it.
  11. “Going to milk it for all its worth!”
  12. “If God didn’t want us to eat plants, why did he make them taste so good?”- We also won’t be saying “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat.”
  13. “If we stopped eating vegetables, the world would be overrun by turnips!”- Just like if everyone stopped eating meat we would be over run with cows and other farm animals- Sure it will!
  14.  “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” or “Beating a dead horse”
  15.  “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”- I find it entertaining to give people a long awkward stare and pretend I don’t understand what they mean when they say this one.

    Originally written for thisdishisveg.com.





I once fell victim to an infomercial

22 06 2012

I have always wanted a Vitamix, and after watching the commercial for the HealthMaster I was intrigued.  Leary to purchase something from an infomercial I searched for the product online and found I could order it from a local Sears.

The box arrived at my house, and I immediately put it to use.  Soups, smoothies, frozen drinks, salsa…  I thought this machine was amazing.  I ignored the fact that the top was so hard to open and close that I needed the aid of my husband, and the fact that it spattered grease over the bottom of the units pitcher.  It wasn’t until the carafe started leaking that I could take no more of this product! Of course it was past the 90 return policy/warranty period. I could purchase (for $79 + S&H) a new pitcher, but after seeing several reviews (that were not there before) which named this same issue I decided against it.

I am an AmeriCorps member, I make less that minimum wage, I could not afford to be taken again!

It wasn’t until recently, during a 5 paycheck month (I work two jobs), that I took the chance again.  This time it was on another blender, also discovered in an infomercial, the Ninja.  A 1 horsepower blender under $100? I had to see! This time I purchased the blender at Best Buy, and got the Replacement Plan (I could not afford to make the same mistake again.)

It is much easier to open, there is no sign of leaks or grease.  The product does ‘feel cheaper’ than the ‘HealthMaster’, where it connects to the base it has plastic parts (unlike the Health Masters metal parts).  I can accept this difference for a 50% price savings.  The largest sigh of relief I have is that if I do ware this machine out, I can take it back to the store with in the next two years and have it replaced.So far I am only three months in, but I have high hopes for this machine.

Easiest Smoothie Ever!

1 Can Chunk pineapple (with juice)
( freeze pineapple first for a cooler drink)
1 1/2 Cups Soymilk

Blend on High until smooth






Quick Unstuffed Peppers

22 06 2012
Unstuffed peppers with seasoned couscous and carrots

 

  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Couscous
  • 2 Peppers (chopped)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Carrots
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Basil
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Onion powder
  • 1 1/4 Cup Water or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Clove Garlic (crushed)
  • 1 Chopped Vegan Sausage Link

Combine all the ingredients (but the sausage) in a microwavable bowl.  Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes (until couscous is cooked). Pan fry the chopped sausage, and add to the bowl and serve.

Want to make it even easier: Trade the sausage links for Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo. Stir in half a package to the cooked couscous mix and microwave for an additional minute.