46 Million

46 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving. My friend Chloe told me this statistic and showed me this awesome art campaign that wants to create a remembrance of those turkeys and bring awareness to the fate they have during the holiday season.


Compassion

When I brought this information to one of my classmates, they told me that they feel badly, but eating turkey is part of their family’s tradition. I think a lot of people feel this way.

I grew up eating turkey on Thanksgiving, as well as mashed potatoes that had milk and butter in them and non-vegan pumpkin pie. But for me, the tradition isn’t made by the food. Thanksgiving at my house is really just an excuse to get together with all of my extended family. We have those poppers, where one person takes one end and the other takes the other end and you pull, and it pops and inside is a paper crown and a little toy. It seems like there are always at least 10 little kids running around, and we take lots of pictures and love being with each other.

I know other people have different experiences and traditions, and maybe the turkey dinner really is a large part of that. But when it comes down to it, on a day I am supposed to be giving thanks, I want to be appreciative of all of Earth and its creatures. I want to show respect to my fellow beings and know that my dinner table does not contribute to the 46 million lives that are taken on Thanksgiving.

Here are some links to websites that can give you ideas and recipes for your vegan Thanksgiving!


Vegan Thanksgiving dinner table

http://www.meettheshannons.com/the-procrastinators-guide-to-a-vegan-thanksgiving/

http://gentleworld.org/vegan-menu-for-a-gentle-thanksgiving/

http://www.ourbodybook.com/eat/vegan-thanksgiving-meal-guide/

A Happy Halloween (for Humans, Ghosts, and Animals Alike!)

It’s easy to have a vegan Halloween, but sometimes people don’t realize all of the things they need to watch out for in order to make this a fun night for animals as well. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you enjoy your fun and vegan Halloween!

 Pet Safety

Pet safety is always important, but it becomes more so during the holidays. For this holiday in particular, black cats are often at an increased risk. They are often adopted right before Halloween and then dropped off at the shelter a few days following. The conclusion is that some people like to have them around to add to their themes or spirit. This is traumatizing to the cat and shows little respect toward our furry friends. It happens so often that many shelters now refuse to let people adopt black cats around Halloween. If you have a black cat, it is important to keep it in doors on Halloween night. They are often the victim of violence, pranks and abuse during this holiday.

h

Watch out for other pets as well. Sometimes, they will get into the candy and accidently ingest foods that are toxic to them. Chocolate and Xylitol (which is found in some gums and candies) are toxic to dogs, and eating candy wrappers can cause major issues as well. On top of that, make sure your Halloween decorations are safe for any pets you may have and if you are planning on having trick-or-treaters, consider keeping your pets in a room away from the front door so they run out or get scared.

Candy

Not all candy is vegan, but a lot of it is! Here is an extensive list of all candies that are vegan if you are worried that some of yours might not be! http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4487&catId=2

 Here is a shorter list that includes some common Halloween candies that are vegan:

  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Airheads
  • Blow pops
  • Dum dums
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Now and Later
  • Mamba Fruit Chews
  • Licorice
  • Pez
  • Skittles
  • Smarties
  • Swedish Fish
  • Lollipops
  • Dots
  • Fireballs
  • Fruit by the Foot
  • Fun Dip
  • Hubba Bubba bubble gum
  • Pixy Stix
  • Runts
  • Nerds
  • Sweet tarts
  • Twizzlers

 Remember, candies that have caramel, gelatin, and milk chocolate (even dark chocolate too sometimes; be sure to read labels!) are most likely not vegan.

 Vegan Halloween Treats 

On the subject of candy, there are also some great vegan goodies and treats out there that are in the spirit of Halloween. Here is a great recipe for a Halloween treat from ohsheglows.com! https://powerofthevegan.wordpress.com/recipes/

And here are some more recipes:  http://www.theveganwoman.com/top-10-vegan-halloween-recipes-and-treats/

And on a side note…

Vegan Pumpkin Carving!

My friend, Chloe Hull (http://onethousandsunsblog.wordpress.com/), and I participated in our school’s festive pumpkin carving tonight and here is our finished product!

 

As college students, we didn't exactly have the right tools to accomplish this task, nor are we professional carvers...but all in all I think it turned out well!

As college students, we didn’t exactly have the right tools to accomplish this task, nor are we professional carvers…but all in all I think it turned out well!

The back of the pumpkin has a peace sign on it. However, it didn't turn out looking quite as good as we hoped...

The back of the pumpkin has a peace sign on it. However, it didn’t turn out looking quite as good as we hoped…

 

Have a fun and safe Halloween, and help spread the word about how to make this an enjoyable night for all creatures!

Veganism is Totally a Thing

Even two decades ago, veganism in the United States was still thought to be something that only the “hippies” in northern California and New York followed. Hardly any restaurants offered vegan menu items and you would be hard pressed to find a grocery store that regularly had tofu, tempeh and other vegan foods. Those who braved the vegan diet were forcedto get creative and always cook for themselves. Now, however, we are living in a completely different culture. Grocery stores like Whole Foods are everywhere, companies boast about their vegan items and restaurants attract customers by promoting their plant-based menus. Weird looking and humorous foods such as “Fakin’ Bacon,” “Tofutti” and “Tofurky”are not uncommon.fakin bacon maple bacon tempeh

 

tofutti_btcc tofurkyThe dining hall at my college, and many others, serves multiple vegan dishes and desserts at every meal and book stores practically have entire sections devoted to vegan cookbooks.  Although you will still encounter the occasional person who doesn’t know what “vegan” means, it’s a lot less likely to happen.

While Millennials (the term given to the generation born around the year 2000 that has the reputation of being technologically advanced, attached to their phones and more connected to other parts of the world) are credited with being more environmentally aware than previous generations*, the popularization of veganism seems to be driven by the accumulative force of people across several generations. For example, I have a 10 year old cousin who is vegan and a 70 year old grandmother. Gramser max

And it’s not just my weird family–it’s many people across America. According to a 2011 poll, about 1 million Americans are vegan (The Vegetarian Times). Considering the upward trend of veganism, that number has probably risen quite a bit in the last three years.

*Whereas Generation X (the generation after the baby boomers of WWII) were characterized as the “Me Me Me” generation, many people and news sources have been putting a positive spin on Millennials, claiming they are more globally and environmentally aware than the generations before them. However, this is much debated and it is commonly agreed that although Millennials may be more aware, they neglect to take any action.

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/vegetarianism-in-america/

Ways to Avoid Arguments

No matter where I am or who I’m with, it always seems to become evident to those around me that I am vegan. Once it has been established that I am, in fact, a plant-eating, meat-avoiding human being, the questions ensue. Sometimes, especially where I come from (Bakersfield, California, which is staunchly anti-vegan despite being in California), people take my veganism as an attack on their animal eating habits and feel the need to defend themselves, which first presents itself in the form of a very loaded question concerning the logic behind my diet. On multiple occasions I have found myself in the sticky situation of trying to avoid the argument that is surely blossoming, but not wanting to belittle the importance of veganism. I have come up with a few quick responses that usually shut down the conversation without getting into an argument. They typically only work with someone who isn’t a close friend or family member. Rather, they are tailored for the person you meet for coffee once in a while or the coworker who you see in the staff lounge.

  • I just don’t really like meat, so I thought “why not be vegan?”
    • This doesn’t have to be true–you may love meat but decided to sacrifice this great love for the greater good of the planet. You can still, however, use this line. How can they argue with your taste buds?
  • Eating that food messes with my stomach, and nowadays it’s so easy to find vegan substitutes, so I eat that instead.
    • Once again, this doesn’t have to be true for you to use it.
  • My mom/dad/spouse/sibling/professional chef is vegan and they cook all my food, and I know it’s healthy enough to be vegan so I decided to join.
    • This works especially well for me. I became vegan in the first place because my mom was vegan and she cooked most of my meals.
  • Have you ever seen “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”? Don’t you want vegan powers? *Change subject*
    • If you don’t understand this reference, go watch the movie. Or use it anyway and pretend like you’ve watched the movie.

Famous Vegans!

Here are a few well-known people who just happen to be vegan:

    • Bill Clintonclinton
    • Ellen DeGeneres1365791590_ellen-degeneres-portia-derossi-article
    • Ozzy Osbournep_ozzy-osbourne1_1507639c
    • Mike TysonMike-Tyson-001

New recipe

Split Pea Soup is one of my favorite dishes, especially on a cold winter night (even if you’re from California).

split pea soup

Here is a great vegan recipe for it: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegan-split-pea-soup-i/

 

 

Vegan101

Although this blog is primarily for those who are already vegan, I thought it would be good to cover the basics. If you Google “veganism,” the first hit is a Wikipedia page that gives the definition: “Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals.”

Basically, what this means is that vegans do not consume animal products, including meat, milk, eggs, honey, bone, and blood. It also means that vegans do not wear or use products, such as leather and feathers, that come from animals. The complicated phrase that says “following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals” just means that vegans do not believe in using sentient animals (that is, animals that are able to perceive pain and feel things) as a commodity.

Vegangraphic

There are also different types of vegans. They include: ethical vegans, dietary vegans, environmental vegan and raw vegans. Dietary vegans are vegans that avoid consuming animal products, but do not abstain from buying such things as leather boots or feather pillows. Ethical vegans, on the other hand, do both. Environmental vegans are the same as ethical and/or dietary vegans, except their reasons for practicing veganism stem from the unsustainability of our agricultural system. Those who are raw vegans do not eat any food cooked above a certain temperature and also do not eat any processed food, adhering to a strict diet of fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables, grains, seeds, herbs and sprouts. This blog will mainly focus on environmental veganism.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism

Here are five brief reasons as to why people choose to “go vegan”:

1. It Conserves Water

It takes up 200 times more water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce a pound of plant foods. Source:http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3

Pic-Water_Conservation_Tipsn-Pic

2. It Makes your Carbon Footprint Smaller

According to a United Nations report, animal agriculture contributes more to greenhouse gas than every type of transportation put together. Source: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3

photo (3)

3. It Makes you Healthier

A diet high in animal fats and proteins has been shown to raise a person’s risk of developing all kinds of diseases like heart disease, diabetes and multiple types of cancer whereas those who adhere to a plant based diet have a significantly decreased risk of developing these illnesses. You’re also less likely to be overweight or obese.  Sources: http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/facts/meat-consumption-and-cancer-risk

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149636.php

veggies

4. It’s more Sustainable

Seventy percent of the grain grown in the United States is fed to livestock. Source: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=4425&catId=3

grain

5. It Doesn’t Harm Other Beings

happy cow

Here are three common myths about being vegan and why they are wrong:

1. If you’re vegan, you can’t get enough protein

As long as you aren’t living on a diet that consists entirely of one food group, you should be fine. Protein can be found in all kinds of non-meat, non-dairy food. To name a few: tempeh, soybeans, lentils, black beans, veggie burgers, chickpeas, tofu, bagels, quinoa, peas, almonds, spaghetti, peanut butter, soy milk, almond milk, whole wheat bread, sunflower seeds, cashews, spinach, broccoli, and many more vegetables, nuts, grains and food.

Another myth that needs debunking is that vegans and vegetarians have to strictly monitor their protein intake to make sure they are getting enough and they are getting all the amino acids they need. Once again, as long as you aren’t surviving off a diet of little variance, this isn’t true. You will get plenty of protein just by eating a regular diet of vegetables, fruits and grains. Personally, I have been vegan for a year and have never once tried to figure out my average daily protein intake nor worried about whether it is enough. I don’t feel like my body is lacking anything; quite the contrary. Since becoming vegan, I have had more energy and felt better, both mentally and physically, and the stress over choosing what to eat and worrying about where my food comes from has gone away almost completely. I simply eat what is natural and what makes me feel good.

If you are looking for a list of how much protein is in foods typically thought to be in line with a vegan diet, you can go to the Vegetarian Resource Group’s webpage!

http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php

2. Vegans are aggressive activists and can’t be reasoned with

There seems to be a stigma surrounding veganism that vegans disapprove of every meat and dairy eater and will take any opportunity to tell others why they are wrong. When I first became vegan, I didn’t tell anybody. I knew by just mentioning it, my friends would perceive it as an attack on their eating habits. Some vegans may be critical about others’ eating habits, but other vegans may not. It really depends on the person.

3. All vegans are animal lovers

This simply isn’t true. While a lot of people do choose to become vegan because they love animals and can’t stand the thought of hurting them, others, such as environmental vegans, have different motivations. I, myself, am not an animal lover. I do want to prevent the harm of animals, but I don’t have any interest in visiting a farm or owning chickens or even dogs.

One last thing: if you are search of an amazing vegan recipe, try these vegan enchiladas by clicking on the link below. They are absolutely delicious! http://ohsheglows.com/2011/05/04/vegan-enchiladas-with-cilantro-avocado-cream-sauce-2/

download (2)

(Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach, and Pepper Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce)