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.





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






10 ways to stay vegan

25 05 2012

Many people struggle with the commitment to a vegan lifestyle. Reasons can include a wide array of excuses or conflicts. From not having the time to research everything to not having support from friends and family, we understand! Here are a few small steps that can help you remain vegan.

  1. Find other vegans. Whether online or in real life, having other people to ask questions or bond with goes a long way when you’re surrounded by a meat consuming society. Here are a few ideas to help expand your vegan companions:
    Check Meetup for local vegan/vegetarian activities
    Search for vegan groups on Facebook
    Single? Check out vegan dating sites 
  2. Create a collection of easy vegan recipes– Start small and get a few quick easy recipes that you like. I would suggest cooking meals at home and bag your lunch until you can find the vegan-friendly options around school or the office. Pinterest is a great resource for finding simple recipes, or you can search vegweb.com.
  3. Remind yourself why you went vegan in the first place. Grab a box of tissues and watch Earthlings or other such movies when you feel yourself starting to stray!
  4. Planning ahead is key. If your going out with friends be the one to pick the restaurant. Find out what places your friends like and check out the menus online prior to choosing the destination. If you are eating over a friend’s or family member’s house offer to bring a dish with you, and make sure there is enough for everyone.
  5. Invite your friends or family over for a great vegan dinner. Help them understand why you’re a vegan. Don’t be afraid to let them know how it feels to be made fun of for it. If they are friends they will listen.
  6. Don’t try to replace everything! This one may sound odd but, wait before trying vegan cheese. Cheese is often the hardest thing for vegans to let go of. Honestly, most cheese alternatives aren’t the same. Imagine that you took a sip of buttermilk thinking it was soymilk. You would immediately think that the taste and texture was ‘wrong.’ There is NOTHING wrong with vegan cheese- it is easier to appreciate it when you’re not comparing it to your favorite cheddar cheese. This can apply to any particular food that you really have a strong tie to.
  7. There’s an app for that. Download vegan apps to your phone that can help you navigate through everyday life. There are apps that help you find vegan wine and beer, locate veg-friendly restaurants, pick out products that aren’t tested on animals, and identify animal ingredients in food. 
  8. Find your staples. For me it was Nissin Top Ramen oriental flavor, soymilk, Tofutti Cuties, Tofurky Sausage, and pasta w/ pasta sauce. I always keep extra in the house so I will never have a “there is nothing to eat” moment.
  9. Help with dinner.  Living at home? Help your parents prepare vegan versions of the family dinner. Better yet- cook once a week, avoid the tofu if your dad has a fear of it (like mine). I stick with dishes that don’t use “fake” meat and dairy. Try Pasta Fazool or cook spinach, broccoli, and white beans in garlic and olive oil to serve over pasta.
  10. Go food shopping. Don’t buy your own food? Help with the food shopping! This all comes back to doing your research. Visit PETA’s Accidentally Vegan page and make a list of your favorites. Read the boxes, more companies are starting to label their products vegan. Look for pareve labels on food to aid in finding vegan options.

If you are just starting out, it gets easier! You will begin to remember the vegan friendly products and restaurants. Your mother will see that you take your nutrition seriously and aren’t wasting away. Your friends and family will run out of meat eating jokes and comments (until then you can enjoy a game of Omnivore Bingo).

As seen on TDIV- 10 ways to stay vegan | This Dish Is Veg – Vegan, Animal Rights, Eco-friendly News.





Q&A: Do vegans make sure their prescription medications are free of animal products?

24 05 2012

 

Q: Do vegans make sure their prescription medications are free of animal products? 

A: Sure! We would all like to answer YES to that question, but it isn’t as simple as that. There are many factors to consider. Is the main ingredient of the prescription derived from an animal? Many, but not all vegans would refuse the drug. Secondary ingredients serve a little harder choice to make. Finding out what is used as filler in your medication has become easier thanks to internet sites like Drugs.com. But, often there are no animal-free alternatives.

The more concerning factor, as a vegan needing prescription medications, is the animal testing; the FDA requires all medication to be tested on animals. Some vegans make sacrifices and avoid medications all together. I personally do the research to find the most vegan friendly option, and often stick to the generic option with the least amount of animal ingredients.

Being a vegan is about living a lifestyle that does not support animal exploitation as much as possible and practicable; it is not about being 100% vegan. Besides- you can’t fight for animal rights if you’re dead!

Post originally written for TDIV. Q&A: Do vegans make sure their prescription medications are free of animal products?





Get Your Family to Eat More Vegetables!

21 05 2012

Yes, it is true. There are vegans who just don’t like vegetables.
In my household two of us have a second job, so we simply don’t have the time to prepare sides with our meals.  We also do not agree on what veggies that we like!
Everyone agreed that we needed to eat more vegetables. I came up with an easy low-cost way to add veggies to a meal, without adding to our prep-time.  At first my husband didn’t even notice that he was eating spinach with almost every dinner!

Here is what we do, once a week I prepare a selection of veggies to ‘hide’ in food.

-EAT YOUR VEGGIES-

Combine in a large food processor:
3/4 bag frozen spinach
1/4 bag frozen broccoli
1/2 bag baby carrots
1 clove garlic

Freeze the mixture in a container or freezer bag.
If you have a smaller food processor, complete it in two smaller batches.
The small size helps the food defrost quickly!
You can add the extra veggies to many meals:
Add to pasta sauce- serve over pasta with beans
Cook with Olive Oil as a Pesto over pasta, pierogies, or gnocchi
Mix it in to mashed potatoes
Add it to rice
Add it to pizza