Saturday, December 13, 2014

What's for lunch: Vegan tostadas from Pick me up Café


It never fails to amaze me where good vegan food will show up. I live in a very vegan friendly city (Chicago) and just when I think I have tired vegan food everywhere, I am introduced to a new meal, dessert, or restaurant.

My new surprise is a restaurant call Pick me up Café where they serve vegan tostadas among other vegan offerings. Pick me up Café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as vegan desserts and with great services, unique decorations, and late night hours this is the perfect place to get your vegan fix.

I will definitely be trying the other vegan goodies on their menu.

Have you eaten here before? What did you like?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I'm Getting my Masters!!!

Guess who got accepted in the Masters Program in Humane Education from the Institute of Humane Education? That's right this lady!!

This is an awesome accredited program that looks at the interconnection between animal and environmental protection and human rights. It gives us the skills to think critically about these issues and help people to become changemakers! And the best part is that it is a distance learning program through Valparaiso University, which means that any student in any country can obtain this degree and still work full time as need be.

I just began classes in August and it is a two year program if taken full term (you can also take it part time). You can get your Masters of Arts or Education or even a certificate in Humane Education.

I am sooo excited about the material that I am learning and the connections that I am developing with my classmates. It has already began to challenge me and my thoughts as well as my habits and I am look forward to sharing with you on this journey.

So if I can not post as much as I used I used to you know why.

Feel free though to follow me on Twitter @veganknowitall and follow me on: https://www.facebook.com/leolin.lopez.

TTYS!

Monday, August 11, 2014

My name is Leolin and I am a pizzaholic!

Me @ Blaze Pizza

So I have a problem and I am not ashamed to say it. I LOVE pizza! What is known as the breakfast of college kids everywhere, continues to be my meal of choice as an adult. People ask me all the time how can I eat pizza if I can't eat cheese and I smile and think, "If you only knew." I guess after reading this post you will know and hopefully you'll take me out for a slice as a reward.

I wrote a post called "What's for dinner? (Papa Johns) in 2011 that continues to be one of my most popular posts. I talked about my love for their garden fresh pizza with no cheese extra sauce. Since then I have expanded my pizza options to include Whole Foods, Blaze Pizza, and Dimos and I am always on the lookout more options.

Each of these three options offers their own pros. Whole Foods is convenient, reasonably priced, and allows you to buy their vegan pizza by the slice or as a whole pizza. The locations close to me uses Daiya cheese which is my favorite vegan cheese, but they do not always offer vegan cheese so I would call ahead. The last time I ate there, they did not have a vegan pizza available by the slice, but the very nice employee must have seen the sadness and hunger in my eyes and made made me one.

Philly Cheese-stake and Mac-N-Cheese @Dimos!

Elotes pizza @ Dimos


Dimos offers vegan pizza by the slice, but they do not carry your typical flavors. With flavors like Elotes, Philly cheesesteak and mac-n-cheese be prepared to step outside of your pizza comfort zone. Also for every 10 slices you buy, you receive your 11th for free and the only thing I love better than vegan pizza is free vegan pizza!

Blaze Pizza has locations across the country. What I like is that they only serve personal size pizza's and for a reasonable price you can get your pizza with any topics you like. They offer Daiya cheese as well and at least at the locations close to me, they will offer to change their gloves after handling the meats and cow's cheese. If you are lucky enough to live close to one on the day of their grand opening they give away free pizzas. (There goes that free word again!)

When in doubt you can always make your own pizza at home. Buy a pre-made pizza crust, some pizza sauce, and your favorite topics and make it a pizza and movie night.

Where is your favorite place to eat vegan pizza?

-Leolin

If you like this post, please share it and be sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @veganknowitall.

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 conservation 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 and Instagram @veganknowitall

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Has being Vegan changed me?


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?