Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Dear John letter to Zoos and Circuses,



I am writing this letter to let you know that it’s over between us.  I would say that it’s not you it’s me, but I would be lying because it’s totally you.

Oh yes we have had some great times together. I remember taking Mateo to the zoo when he was about a year old. I petted a Llama and got splashed by dolphins at the dolphin show. I loved reading the signs about the animal’s original habitat and learning about conversation actions that are going on worldwide. I noticed that the animals did not seem as happy to see me as I was to see them, but I ignored it thinking that they are safer here than in the wild. The lion’s enclosures did not look as large as it does on Animal Planet, but maybe there was some extra space in the back somewhere.

I even developed some great memories at the petting zoos. Holding baby chicks and feeding the goats food between the gates. I wondered what happened to those baby chicks, because honestly how many can the petting zoo keep? Plus the small enclosures for the goats and pigs didn't look to comfy. And could animals that fly, such as turkeys and chickens, really be happy in a totally enclosed enclosure? I was willing to look past my questions as the saw the smile on my child’s face, because at least he was able to interact with the animals and form a connection between the animals in his farm books and the animal he was seeing in real life, right?

And who could forget seeing the lions perform awesome tricks at the circuses and dreaming of being an animal trainer “when I grow up”. Sure I wondered how you were able to transport large exotic animals such as elephants and lions around the country (Where were the lions roaming?) to perform in show after show, but if the animals were really unhappy or unsafe then someone would have stopped it right?

I was willing to look past all of your shortcoming because of the happy memories and the value that I told myself you offered me, my family, and society, but I am no longer willing to lie to myself. I don’t agree with who you are as a person and therefore I am breaking up with you.

My eyes were first opened when I heard about a documentary called Earthlings. This movie discussed that ways in which animals are abused for food, fashion, entertainment, pets, and medical research. I have watched numerous documentaries in my time as a vegan and after seeing this one I could no longer live in ignorance.

You would be correct in reminding me that I did not make a change right away. My love and enjoyment of you was strong. I mean we have known each other since I was a kid, but the signs keep coming. The signs that showed me you were not all that you pretended to be.

Then there was the documentary Blackfish that tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. This movie explores this multi-billion industry and the pressures and animal cruelty within it that lead up to the horrific deaths of these trainers.  I could not bear to watch this documentary, but I read and heard about this story over and over in the news and I was saddened to learn about animals being abused and stolen from their habitats for my enjoyment.  PETA even has a whole campaign against Ringling Brothers. And there was even a great article written in the Library Voice.


So no more! When I want to enjoy the company of animals I will visit my favorite sanctuary The Farm Sanctuary where the animals here were saved from a life of pain as well as the numerous sanctuary’s that exist around country. And if I wanted to experience something more exotic, well then I’ll just stick to my son’s animal books.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Opinion: Can kangaroo farts save the world?


I had a friend send me this post recently. I first though it was a joke. I scrolled down to see if it was an article written in the Onion newspaper, but sadly it was not. A microbiologist at The University of Queensland, Associate Professor Athol Klieve is working with a team of microbiologists and genetic researchers to make cattle guts behave like kangaroos’.

Backstory: The majority of the methane in Earth's atmosphere comes from livestock. Methane absorbs energy which slows or prevents the loss of heat into space, which in turn keeps the Earth warmer than it needs to be (hence the name Greenhouse Gas effect).

According to the article, kangaroos like cows are also ruminants (a group of animals defined by their multiple stomachs), but where they differ is that majority of the byproducts that cows produce during digestion is methane. In kangaroos acetate is the byproduct which kangaroos then convert into energy.

Klieve is working on figuring out how to transfer the microbes responsible from kangaroos to cattle to aid in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, in essence making cow farts greener.

If you are like me then you may be thinking WHAT!! Then you may think, instead of spending money on more genetic modification of "food" why don't we take some of that money to teach and encourage people to, dare I say it, EAT LESS MEAT?!?!

Here are three reasons why:

1. The jury is still out on the long term effects that genetic modification has not only on our food sources (animals and plants), but also on our own health and the health of future generations.
2. Eating fewer cows will automatically decrease levels of greenhouse gas (I do not need a degree in microbiology for to figure out that one). If you want to lose weight, eat less. If you want to decrease your debt, spend less. If you want less cow farts messing up our ozone, eat less cows!
3. There are numerous studies that show the positive effects of a vegan diet on our health (as well as the health of the animals) and the environment.

Now if you are a clever omnivore reading this you may be thinking, "If kangaroo farts are greener, why don't we just eat kangaroos?" Well kangaroos only live in a very climate specific part of Australia so it would make it nearly impossible for the to be raised for food anywhere else (Although I am sure there is some scientist in some lab somewhere working on this).

So what do you think? Are kangaroo farts the key to saving our ozone and reducing greenhouse gas or should research funding be better spent elsewhere?

Share your thoughts and share this post!

Follow me on Twitter @veganknowitall

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Has being Vegan changed me?

I love the road less traveled
I had an interesting conversation recently about my Christianity. I mentioned to someone that I went to Church every Sunday and they asked me if I was one of those people that say they can't do something because they are Christian. I told him of course. Being a Christian gives you a set of rules to live by, it changes they way you think, and it changes what types of things you find acceptable to participate in. If you become a Christian and you still think and act in the same manner that you did before, then how have you really changed? I told him it's like me becoming a vegan. "How" he asked.

That's a great question. How has becoming a vegan changed me?

I have been a vegan for 5 years now. In that 5 years my veganism has continued to change and evolve. I've been the angry vegan, the perfect vegan, the vegan mom, the vegan mentor, the vegan activist, and the "just leave me alone and let me eat my tofu in peace" vegan, among others titles I am sure my friends will tell you.

Becoming a vegan has not only changed the way I eat, but it has also changed the way I shop, my forms of entertainment, has increased my confidence, and has made me view my actions not just in how they effect me and my family, but also in how they effect animals and the environment.

Change is not a bad thing. I truly believe that change can be great. Even the changes that makes you want to lay in bed crying all day. Or the change that makes you pause and say, "What the HECK just happened?!", but especially the change that says, "I will not longer participate in cruelty towards animals."

How has veganism changed you?





Friday, February 14, 2014

Moving past your Comfort Zone

"Life Begins at the end of your comfort zone."-Neale Donald Walsch
 
 
After four years of being a vegan, I have pretty much developed my vegan comfort zone. I know what vegan clothes, restaurants, and makeup I like. I know how to read ingredients, and I know where to shop, and I have my vegan ideas made up. So with the theme of 2014 being getting outside of my comfort zone, I decided to start with food.
 
 
One day I was walking around my neighborhood trying to decided where to eat lunch, I came across a new Indian restaurant that was having a lunch special. There was a long line of people and I love Indian food so I walked in to check out the menu. As the door closed behind me, my comfort zone alarm went off. "What if the food is not good", "What if it costs more then the special said?", "What if there are not vegan options?", "Do I feel like trying something new today?", "Maybe I should just go to my favorite restaurant." After leaving the restaurant without trying anything and almost walking a block away I stopped myself. Isn't this experience exactly what I had promised myself to try this year. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Try something new. Move past comfort?
 
 
I turned myself around, walked right into that resultant, ordered one of their few vegan options, and sat down to eat. The food was ok (I have better Indian food) but the point was I did not listen to those voices that told me new is not good. Now I know eating at a new restaurant is not the bravest most outrageous thing that you could do, but a small step towards a new adventure is still a step.
 
 
Each day I seek out the thing the things that make me nervous and I pushed myself to do them. Whether is talking to a new person, taking a class, speaking up, getting rid of people or ideas that no longer serve me, or just doing something as simple as walking a different way to work. Each thing move me out of my comfort zone and into a new life.
 
How have you moved outside of your comfort zone today?
 
 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What’s for Dinner: Heaven!!


Last year for Thanksgiving I decided to do something different. I took my son out and I ate my first vegan dinner in a restaurant with one of my good friends. We decided to dine at Native Foods Café which serves a Thanksgiving meal that is only offered at select restaurants. The food that they cook during this meal is only available during Thanksgiving and is served buffet style so you are able to eat until you explode on vegan goodness.

They served mushroom shallot gravy, mashed potatoes, native stuffing, green bean casserole (excuse me…the BEST green bean Casserole EVER), green salad, polenta butternut squash terrine, Waldorf salad, cornbread, pumpkin cheese cake and pie! The food was so good, the people (the employees and the other customers) were so friendly and the mood was perfect for a great Thanksgiving meal.

Please always ask me what food do I miss the most? The answer is none. With great vegan food like this what’s to miss?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Time!!

Pre-Mateo


Our First Vegan Thanksgiving
When you become a parent Christmas takes on a different meaning. Instead of looking forward to all of the gifts that you will be receiving, you begin to look forward  to the look on your child's face as they open up their presents.

My family's Christmas tradition is to read the story of the birth of Jesus, open up all of the presents, and then spend all day watching Christmas movies on TV. My son was sick this holiday so although we were not able to do all of the Christmas activities that I has planned, I did enjoy watching The Thomas the Train Christmas movie three times in a row (!), making vegan chocolate chip cookies with my baby, and  playing with his train set.

As I reflect on this past year I have to say that I am really blessed to have such great family, friends and health. I am looking forward to growing in 2014 physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally and passing on positive lessons onto my son so that he can grow into a well rounded positive man.

I hope that you all have had a joyous Christmas and I look forward to speaking with you more in the new year!!!

HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY :-)


Monday, September 2, 2013

Food Glorious Food!!!


The best day of the week has surely got to be grocery day. The day when all the planning, budgeting, and deal hunting is done. When you can finally drag your reusable bags up the stairs, put all of the groceries away, open up your fridge and stock it with food.

My grocery shopping is basically done in three stages. I first look to see what food I have left. I then plan a weeks worth of menus around what I currently have. Finally I do my shopping at just two stores Food 4 Less and Whole Foods. Food 4 Less carries more reasonably priced items and Whole Foods of course for my vegan staples (such as nutritional yeast and vegan ice cream). I currently do not have a car, so although I would enjoy adding variety to my store its not really as feasible on public transportation.

Lucky for me a Trader Joe's is opening up in my neighborhood this week (right next to my local Whole Foods) so I can add that to the mix. One place I regretfully do not shop at enough are my local farmers markets. My neighborhood has one every Saturday and Wednesday morning. They are both great farmers markets and I love being able to actually speak with and ask questions of the people who grown my food, but my Saturday mornings are usually reserved for Arbonne trainings and cartoons with my son. This is one area that I am going to make a change in.

Where are your favorite places to shop for vegan goodies?