Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Collage from Vegan Etsy Shops

A little exercise in using Picasa and a celebration of the Vegan Etsy Team
This is just an example of the amazing talent from the Vegan Etsy Team. When in Etsy, search with VeganEtsy as a tag and see what a wonderful assortment of items can be found for vegans (and non-vegans) all made exclusively by Vegans. There's something for everyone.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Starrlight Jewelry - Trendy, Gothic and Fabulous.

A review by MidnightRabbits / Veganessa

One of my favourite shops on Etsy is this fabulous shop called Starrlight Jewelry .
Everything in this shop is Cruelty Free, vegan suitable.
The owner Starr has a wonderful, kind, caring spirit and is very helpful and friendly. She makes beautiful jewelry, gifts and home decor, as well as caring for many homeless cats, and raising funds for worthy animal causes. Certainly a busy lady!

I purchased this stunning necklace, made with black and red beads, and a beautiful black rose cameo. It looks gorgeous on, and I've received many lovely comments about it. I've worn it on 'dressy' occassions, as it goes very well with black clothing, of which I have many! It certainly turned a plain outfit into a glamourous one.

A look at Starrlight Jewelry will show you a good assortment of fashionable, alternative jewelry, in a Gothic/Victorian style. All unique and handmade.

If black is not your colour, then with luck, you may catch a beautiful coloured item such as this multi coloured ring, which would look gorgeous with everything, and could be worn as an evening piece or equally look good in the daytime. Just wear it with confidence, and accept the compliments!

I'm a big fan of spiders, and this brooch is one of my favourites. It's Stylish and exciting.

Starrlight Jewelry has a good assortment of jewelry at reasonable prices. Actually, considering all the time and effort that goes into creating such gorgeous, individual pieces, they are well worth the money. There's Home Decor such as fan/light pulls, to add a touch of elegance (or decadence - depending on your choice) to any room, and who could resist this adorable stich marker. If I was the lucky owner of it, I would just have to wear it as a brooch - sorry Starr - it's far too beautiful to be hidden away with knitting, it needs to be shown off, on a black jumper or wrap!

So next time you are on the internet, feast your eyes, by checking out this wonderful shop, Starrlight Jewelry and treat youself - you know you want to!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas cheer from VeganEtsy shops

With Christmas fast approaching, I browsed through Vegan Etsy team members shops, looking for wonderful christmassy items to decorate a house. Here are some of my favourites:
From Sassandperil
These wonderful Gingerbread House Ornaments.

VeganCraftastic has these adorable Christmas mini stockings - Perfect for holding smaller gifts.

And why not scent your bathroom with this wonderful Christmas soap,from Daisywares , scented with christmas spruce.

These Iced Cookies from SweetVConfections would look lovely as ornaments on a tree, but I bet no-one could resist eating them!

Wonderful festive items from the VeganEtsy team. Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and Winterval.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Post-holiday Relaxation

As fun as the holidays can be, there's no denying a certain stress level. The time after the holidays is perfect for taking a few moments to yourself and just relaxing, and these soothing items from the Vegan Etsy team are just the thing to help with that!

Organic Lavender and Flax Lullaby Pillow by Holistically Heather:

Sleepy Time Luxurious Night Serum from Daisy Wares:

Koala Candle by Kenny Coop

-Kala (Vegancraftastic)

Cuter than a puppy, even.

There's a breed of omnivore which likes to "confront" me about my veganism by telling me that the only reason I don't eat animals is that they're cute. This is entirely untrue - there are many, many reasons not to eat animals without even breaching how amazing the animals themselves are. *However.* Animals are so freaking cute! Exhibit A: Kingsford The Pig.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Eating Animals: Slices of Paradise / Pieces of ____
The sixth chapter in the new book by Jonathan Saffran Foer

This sixth chapter of Foer's book Eating Animals, more than those preceding it, seems to have a theme: differences that matter. This can be an important concept when one talks about animal rights. Many changes could be made to the living conditions of a battery cage hen - she could be given three more square inches of living space, for example. But is this a difference that matters? Or just a thinly veiled attempt by industry to get do-gooders to shut up about animal welfare and go away, without industry having made any real change? This idea ties in nicely with one of my personal mottoes: better is not the same as good.

In this chapter, Foer visits Paradise Locker Meats, a smalltime slaughterhouse doing things in a more "traditional" way than most of the bigger houses these days. Even so, he has a difficult experience.
"It's not just because I'm a city boy that I find this repulsive. Mario and his workers admitted to having difficulty with some of the more gory aspects of slaughter, and I heard that sentiment echoed wherever I could have frank conversations with slaughterhouse workers."
This discomfort is heightened all the more for Foer by the fact that the animals being slaughtered on the day of his visit are hogs - pigs, with their intelligence and particularly gutwrenching squeal (or scream, if you prefer). The visit comes to a head when, upon leaving, the abattoir staff are just dying to share with Foer the end product of their hard labors: a slice of glistening pink ham. Foer wriggles from this predicament by playing the Kosher card (he isn't, but he sure could play one on TV). Awkwardness ensues.

If you're going to discuss pig eating, or to put it nicely "pork", there's no way to avoid the name Smithfield, leading pork producer in the U.S. Run a Google search for "Smithfield Farms pork", and among the first entries (sometimes the very first) you'll find a Rolling Stone article entitled Boss Hog: Pork's Dirty Secret. As have many others, Foer has found this article to be particularly illuminating regarding the manure "lagoons" that go hand in hand with pig factories.

As Foer points out, the pits are filled not only with animal feces but also with "whatever will fit through the slatted floors of the factory farm buildings. This includes but is not limited to: stillborn piglets, afterbirths, dead piglets, vomit, blood, urine, antibiotic syringes, broken bottles of insecticide, hair, pus"... et cetera. No wonder, then, that neighbors get upset when an industrial pig "farm" gets built nearby? The presence of these lagoons shifts from nauseating to enraging when one understands that accidents do happen, and sometimes these cess pools "spill" into nearby lakes and rivers.

Foer goes on to discuss another major concern in the raising of commercial pigs: the gestation crate. This is a contraption which confines a sow, and is generally justified by the excuse that the mother pig may crush her babies if she is allowed to move.
What defenders of such practices don't point out is that at [non-industrial farms], the problem doesn't arise in the first place. Not surprisingly, when farmers select for "motherability" when breeding, and a mother pig's sense of smell is not overpowered by the stench of her own liquefied feces beneath her, and her hearing is not impaired by the clanging of metal cages, and she is given space to investigate where her piglets are and exercise her legs so that she can lie down slowly, she finds it easy enough to avoid crushing her young.
The chapter is concluded with a brief revisitation of the plight of fish. Fish do seem to be different to most everyone - we've all met the "vegetarian" who still eats fish. Perhaps it is the land/water divide that so separates us? Philosophical quandaries aside, there are no numbers kept for how many hundreds of thousands, or millions, or maybe even billions of fish and other sea creatures are caught and consumed each year. They count for so little that we literally don't even count them.

I've always known about that thing called "bycatch" - I'm old enough to remember the craze of dolphin-safe tuna, after all - but this section held a piece of information that actually shocked me. According to Foer and his fact checkers, 80 to 90 percent of the sea creatures caught by industrial fishing operations, even those businesses considered efficient, are thrown back as bycatch! Well, I had to check that out. While I couldn't find a reliable source to mirror those numbers (other than maybe Greenpeace, but I think they're biased?) I did find an FAO report on shrimp trawling that finds an average of 85% . Ouch.

I'm unsure why this section on industrial fishing was tacked to the back of chapter 6; nevertheless, it is most certainly good information to have.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Win a Vegan Craft Sample Bag- 2 ways to win! Giveaway on vegan etsy

Just posted a new giveaway on our facebook page this morning, all you have to do is tell us what your favorite vegan food is!
Yep its that simple, favorite vegan food and you are entered to win a vegan craft sample bag!

Only a couple of days left to enter our other giveaway for a free vegan craft sample bag, we need a design for our bags, yep thats right...check out our blog for details!

Heck, if you dont feel like trying your chances with a giveaway, swing on over to our etsy shop lickety split to grab one of the few sample bags left!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eating Animals: Influence / Speechlessness - the fifth chapter in the new book by Jonathan Safran Foer

In my household growing up, we ate chicken for dinner at least four nights a week. As my mom saw it, she had enough to struggle with without having to think any harder about dinner than "broiled or cacciatore?" This seems to be a common situation in U.S. households - we consume a fairly incredible amount of chicken, or, I should say, number of chickens.

In the fifth chapter of his book Eating Animals, entitled Influence/Speechlessness, Foer focuses on this humble bird, the chicken. And for good reason - as previously discussed, due to the mass quantities in which we reproduce these animals and the fact that the vast majority of them are factory produced, they become an ideal icon for the animal-as-product problem. So just how many do we make, sell, and eat? The USDA doesn't want to talk to us about numbers of beings - that might be acknowledging that they're living creatures after all. But they do tell us this:
The United States is the world's largest poultry producer and the second-largest egg producer and exporter of poultry meat. U.S. poultry meat production totals over 43 billion pounds annually; over four-fifths is broiler meat, most of the remainder is turkey meat, and a small fraction is other chicken meat. The total farm value of U.S. poultry production exceeds $20 billion.
That's not to mention the production of 90 billion eggs per year, give or take. At any rate, the number of chickens raised, slaughtered, sold and consumed in this country is in the billions annually.

And that's just the U.S. What if the rest of the world decided it wanted to be like us with regard to eating those fluffy white birds (more McNuggets, anyone)? According to Foer, whose book was thoroughly fact-checked by people more skilled in research than I:
The global implications of the growth of the factory farm, especially given the problems of food-borne illness, antimicrobial resistance, and potential pandemics, are genuinely terrifying. India's and China's poultry industries have grown somewhere between 5 and 13 percent annually since the 1980s. If India and China started to eat poultry in the same quantities as Americans (twenty-seven to twenty-eight birds annually), they alone would consume as many chickens as the entire world does today. If the world followed America's lead, it would consume over 165 billion chickens annually (even if the world population didn't increase).
It is in this chapter that Foer addresses the inevitable subject of the flu strains shared among humans and other animals, such as Swine Flu / H1N1. There are those who postulate that these viruses capable of species transference all originate in birds. This makes the information that flu vaccines are made by cultivating viral strains inside of fertilized chicken eggs a bit less surprising. No less upsetting, just less surprising. But that is perhaps a separate topic.

For many there is little question that the domestication of birds for food is the spark that has led to various wildfire flu pandemics. The domestication and, more specifically, concentration of food animals has without a doubt caused other public heath concerns, both with regard to food safety (foodborne illness being chief), and in overuse of antibiotics which both renders the drugs useless in humans and creates dangerous (and virulent) new strains of infectious bacteria. Foer notes that in 2004 and again in 2005, major world organizations concerned with food production came together and both times concluded that current methods of animal agriculture posed serious public health concerns.

By this point we've all heard about the conditions in which chickens are raised: beaks clipped, each given less space than a sheet of paper, feet grown around the wire cages which are stacked eight high and hundreds wide, breasts so heavy they can barely walk even if they did have the room, air so heavy with ammonia that it stings the eyes and burns the lungs and nostrils (yours and theirs). This isn't science fiction or the exception to the rule; this is what we now mean when we say chicken. So to me it's really a matter of common sense. Putting aside the ethical and moral implications of supporting such a system, how could it be healthy, or really anything but poison, to consume an animal which spent its life in an environment so toxic?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Welcome new members!

This week we have three new members to welcome! Please take the time to check out these great shops and give them some hearts!

Vegan Etsy Team: A Great Place To Shop Without Having To Ask What Everything Is Made Of!

Here are some of my favorites from todays Vegan Etsy Team snoopings!

The Sophia Headband from Monkey and Squirrel

Robot pins from Vegancraftastic

Sugar Snap Prairie Dress from Earth Groovz

Lilac Scarf from Knits By Nat

Japanese Temari Ball Ornament/Decoration from Crafty Panties

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tis the season, and here's my reason!

I recently started a job at Macys, a cleaning job, I work for an outside company that cleans. Why am I telling readers this? Because it has really given me perspective on the holiday season.

I have never been one for consumption, over consumption, or holiday just flat out isnt my style. But since starting my job at Macys and seeing people fight over possesions, spend $150 on a childs dress and not even look me in the eye because I am a lowly cleaner...I have made a choice. A choice that isnt far off from how things usually go, usually I get something small for Jessi and something small for my grandmother....well, no more!

This year instead of adding to the consumeristic hysteria of mass produced sweat shop items, I will be sponsoring rescued animals at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary for my family and Jessi.

Instead of getting someone something that might just end up in their junk drawer anyway, why not give the gift of life. When you sponsor an animal you insure that animal has food and shelter and necessities for a year of its life, you will also receive a picture and bio of the animal you are sponsoring.

Hopefully someday we can make it out to Colorado to meet all of the animals they have saved, and show love to them all!
Happy Holidays! I hope some of you will choose to make your holiday season cruelty free.

written by Heather of
Holistically Heather
Aunt Flos Pads
Vegan Craft Samples

Monday, November 30, 2009

Eating Animals: Hiding / Seeking - the fourth chapter of the new book by Jonathan Safran Foer

I'm wearing black in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. There are surgical booties around my disposable shoes and latex gloves on my shaking hands. I pat myself down, quintuple-checking that I have everything: red-filtered flashlight, picture ID, $40 cash, video camera, copy of California penal code 597e, bottle of water (not for me), silenced cell phone, blow horn. We kill the engine and roll the final thirty yards to the spot we scouted out earlier in the day on one of our half-dozen drive-bys. This isn't the scary part yet.
Thus begins the fourth chapter of Foer's book, the chapter entitled Hiding/Seeking. A lot happens in this chapter. As you may have gleaned, it begins with our hero pretty much breaking into a factory farming facility. He does so with a woman we call "C", who seems to do such things on a fairly regular basis. But she is not radical or extremist. We actually get to know how she feels about it, because it is in this chapter that Foer begins to use the device of personal narratives - that is, short segments actually written by various people he interacted with while writing the book (rather than just about them). Whereas his description of the event has the subheading, "I'm not the kind of person who finds himself on a stranger's farm in the middle of the night", her section, which immediately follows, is titled "I am the kind of person who finds herself on a stranger's farm in the middle of the night." {Emphasis added.} Get it?

Unlike the black bandanna-wearing members of the ALF that you sometimes see around NYC, chanting things like "We will drive the final nail!" (sorry guys, but what does that even mean?), C seems like a person you could comfortably take into your living room.
I am not a radical. In almost every way, I'm a middle-of-the-road person. I don't have any piercings. No weird haircut. I don't do drugs. Politically, I'm liberal on some issues and conservative on others. But see, factory farming is a middle-of-the-road issue - something most reasonable people would agree on if they had access to the truth...

It's crazy that the idea of animal rights seems crazy to anyone. We live in a world in which it's conventional to treat an animal like a hunk of wood and extreme to treat an animal like an animal.
Well said, C. (But, you know, it's so convenient to treat them like hunks of wood.)

Foer, somewhat needless to say, is moved by his experience of witnessing conditions at the factory of animals. But what disturbs him most is the difficulty they have finding a door to the animal sheds that isn't locked.
We spend several minutes like this, looking for an unlocked door. Another why: Why would a farmer lock the doors of his turkey farm? It can't be because he's afraid someone will steal his equipment or animals... A farmer doesn't lock his doors because he's afraid his animals will escape. (Turkeys can't turn doorknobs.)... So why? In the three years I will spend immersed in animal agriculture, nothing will unsettle me more than the locked doors. Nothing will better capture the whole sad business of factory farming. And nothing will more strongly convince me to write this book.
The next section, surprisingly enough, has the heading "I am a factory farmer." Reading this is sort of like talking to a rational republican. You think, Well, I see what you're saying, and clearly you've thought it through. But I think you may be missing some things... For example: "Sure, you could say that people should just eat less meat, but I've got news for you: people don't want to eat less meat." No, many people do not want to eat less meat. People also don't want to go to school, work eight hours a day, pay rent or a mortgage, follow driving laws, have their teeth cleaned, go visit grandma in the hospital, clean the house, take the trash out, or pay their taxes. There are plenty of things that people don't want to do. But in order for society to function, and for individuals to remain safe and healthy, they do them. It is part of being a responsible adult on the planet earth which has an ever-increasing population. What am I really saying here? Sorry folks, suck it up. Your 99 cent cheeseburger has just got to go.

The chapter goes on to say a good deal about chickens. Given that an estimated 99% of chickens come from factory farms, they become a good icon for this system of creating food animals. (I have seen this number cited in numerous places, but unfortunately I can't find you an unbiased reference for it.) "As described in industry journals from the 1960s onward, the egg-laying hen was to be considered 'only a very efficient converting machine', the pig was to be 'just like a machine in a factory', and the twenty-first century was to bring a new 'computer cookbook of recipes for custom-designed creatures.'" *shiver*

The last segment of this chapter is one called "I am the last poultry farmer." It is written by a man who raises turkeys, and loves them as if children. Except, of course, that he eventually kills them so that people can eat them, which most people will not do with their children. He is, however, the first of the contributors to give a name: Frank Reese. He doesn't support or want to have anything to do with factory farming methods.
Not a single turkey you can buy in a supermarket could walk normally, much less jump or fly. Did you know that? They can't even have sex. Not the antibiotic-free, or organic, or free-range, or anything. They all have the same foolish genetics, and their bodies won't allow for it anymore. Every turkey sold in every store and served in every restaurant was the product of artificial insemination. If it were only for efficiency, that would be one thing, but these animals literally can't reproduce naturally. Tell me what could be sustainable about that?... What the industry figured out - and this was the real revolution - is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
As you may have guessed, he raises what are now referred to as "heritage birds", rather than the genetically adulterated birds generally raised for commercial uses these days (i.e. for the past maybe 50 years). His birds can fly, and jump... and have sex. Frank makes a statement in his diatribe that I strongly agree with: "If consumers don't want to pay the farmer to do it right, they shouldn't eat meat." There's that 99 cent cheeseburger again.
Just the other day, one of the local pediatricians was telling me he's seeing all kinds of illnesses that he never used to see... Everyone knows it's our food. We're messing with the genes of these animals and then feeding them growth hormones and all kinds of drugs that we really don't know enough about. And then we're eating them.
Couldn't have said it better myself, Frank.

And people still wonder why I'm vegan?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Interview-Vegan No Whey

Todays interview is with Jessi of VeganNoWhey

How did you choose the name of your shop and how long have you been a member of

I have only had a shop on etsy for a short time, but I am always helping Heather package her goodies, and cut fabric. The name just kind of came to me I guess
Eventually I would like to get a shop banner so it reads "Vegan? NO WHEY!"

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop and what inspired you to start
creating them?

I started selling my recipes for delicious foods that I wish I could sell right in my shop...someday..someday we will have a certified kitchen easily accessable to us!

Do you donate to any charities or do any volunteer work?
I give to different animal sanctuaries whenever I am able to. I am also involved in food not bombs in my area, which unfortunately has been pretty sparse lately.

What are some of your favorite things about etsy?
I love the variety, I love that anything I want can be bought handmade by someone on etsy. Walmart for a blanket HAH I dont think so, I can get it on etsy and it will be so much cooler.

Do you sell your items outside of etsy, either online or in retail shops?
Not currently, tho I would love to have an all vegan all organic catering service!

Have you been featured anywhere?
I guess I had my potato salad on the front page of etsy, which was pretty exciting...

Do you have any future plans for your shop?
Future plans would be adding more of my recipes, and hopefully someday being able to sell food...those delicious breakfast sandwiches from my kitchen to your tummy..until then I can only dream!

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
I love riding bikes around the city we live in, drinking tea, going on adventures, hiking, going canoeing...spending time with our doggie friends!

Do you have any animal companions?
Yep 2 incredibly spoiled incredibly needy doggy friends
I also have a cat at grammas
a cat and a dog at my parents house!

Do you have any websites besides your shop that you would like to tell us

Check out Vegan Craft Sample bags, its pretty much all we have been thinking about lately since it took over our apartment! 100% profits go to animals at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?
Vegan about 2 1/2 years now, I started hanging out with Heather and realized how easy it was to make the switch from veg to vegan. It happened almost instantly and I have never looked back!

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?
Strong Hearts Cafe in Syracuse, NY
they are all vegan, and awesome
Best milkshakes on Earth!

What are your favorite foods?
vegan breakfast sandwiches (not just because they are in my shop either hah)
prickly pears

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Peace to all Creatures 'zine

A wonderful vegan woman called Pippi and a friend of hers, Jessi, produce a quarterly 'zine called 'Peace to All Creatures'
For those not familiar with 'zines, they are a - in the words of Wikipedia -A zine (an abbreviation of the word fanzine, or magazine; pronounced /ˈziːn/ "zeen") is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of colored paper stock.

While not wholly about veganism, it has a mainly vegan slant, all of the articles are vegan friendly, and certainly this Fall 09 issue is 'the Vegan Issue' Couldn't get more vegan than that! This is the second issue of this zine that I have contributed to, the first being a written piece about Freeganism, and in the latest issue I sent in a drawing. I get a real kick out knowing my work is in a publication that anyone anywhere can see. How fab is that.
Aside from the self fulfillment contributing to the zine gives me, I must say it is also a fabulously good read. It's refreshing to find real articles from real people, about subjects that they have an interest in, instead of a mainstream magazine that is written by journalists, that do it for a living regardless of the subject. It seems like a much more personal read, and by the end of it, it makes one feel as though you've had a little insight into other people's ideas and interests. The articles are interesting and informative, also varied. The adverts are vegan friendly. The artwork is superb, right from the Front Cover, showing the two beautiful 'Kissing Cows' by Mvegan5, through to the Back Cover, which is a photograph of sweet cows, one looking right into the camera, by Ryan MacMichael -
The zine is well made, and is of good quality, both in print and paper. It includes articles such as 'Taking a Road trip with Your Dog', 'Marketing Veganism' and 'Aromatherapy'. And a lovely little surprise is that it arrives with some very pretty postcards and a pin badge.
The 'zine is available from UberDuperCreations Etsy Shop, is available as a hard copy or a digital download, and can be shipped Worldwide. Well worth buying and suitable for vegans, and non-vegans alike, eco friendly peeps and any peeps that want to look 'hip' - carry this super fab 'zine around!
The zine also helps raise money for animals.

Holistically Heather's Holiday Picks For Today

It's easy to find Vegan Etsy items on etsy, just search veganetsy team (yes spaced out just like that!) Here are some of my favorites for today!

These ornaments by Myzoetrope are so cute, think this ornament is cute? Check out the rest of the shop for cute cards, and basic cute combustion!

This cute mustache pin is from PandaWithCookieand I chose it for Jessi from Vegan? No Whey! because when people are rude to Jessi at the grocery instead of flipping the "bird".... she just puts her finger up like a mustache and says "mrrrrrrrrr" It confuses the jerk and they leave us alone, its hillarious!

As the last mustache story was still in my head I found these little mustached guys from Veganosaurus..all I have to say is "mrrrrrr" mustaches please!

Last but not least is a super cute polka dot and skulls bookmark from ArtYouDreamAbout, the perfect little gift for the reader on your list!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Thanksgiving, remember...

Turkeys are beautiful!

They are interesting, intelligent creatures. Turkeys are our friends.

We should not make turkeys our dinner, lest we become like this crazed, sadistic muppet.

But... should you encounter the dreaded turkey-clam... run for your life!!

OK though, srsly ppl. Love your turkeys, don't eat them! This will be my fourth Thanksgiving turkey-free, and believe me when I tell you that my plate has been far from lacking these past four years! If anything, I've had much more interesting and satisfying meals, with the major added bonus that nothing on the table tugged at my conscience. This year Jonathan and I are whipping up quite a feast for some vegan and omni friends, and we're so excited about it. I'll post plenty of pictures and maybe some recipes too, sometime in the next week or two.

I'm also excited that this year, not only are Jonathan and I of course abstaining from eating any turkeys, but we're also contributing to the happy lives of a couple through Farm Sanctuary's Adopt-A-Turkey program! The certificates we received for sponsoring Bubbles and Rhonda will be proudly displayed on our feast table. Don't worry, it's never too late to contribute!

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! Remember to be thankful for everything we do have, even though things might not be perfect - and for the fact that we can choose veg! :D

Monday, November 23, 2009

Eating Animals: Words / Meaning - the third chapter of the new book by Jonathan Safran Foer

As an author, Foer likes to play. In his first novel, Everything is Illuminated, he played with time and the sharing (or not sharing) of space. In Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud, he played with images - specifically, visual and cognitive perceptions of the world from unusual viewpoints (such as those of a nine year old boy struggling with incomprehensible loss). In his latest book, Eating Animals, Foer plays with language: both in the meaning and sound of words, as well as the physical presence of letters, words, and shapes printed on a page. This is present throughout the book in the chapter headings - pick up a copy and you'll see what I mean. But nowhere is it more expressed than in the third chapter of the book, "Words/Meaning."

This chapter reads as a highly editorialized series of unusual encyclopedia entries, which are indeed listed in alphabetical order. The device allows Foer to address a wide range of issues without leaving his central exploration of the food industry. At times the "definitions" reference each other; many flow brilliantly from one to the next (Bullshit -> Bycatch, for instance), though each stands on its own.

Michael Pollan, an author who has become one of the best known food journalists at least in western culture, takes his knocks in this book. This is unsurprising - many in the vegetarian / vegan community feel that Pollan has all of the information directly in front of him, and yet draws all of the wrong conclusions from it. For example, Pollan has taken the position that becoming veg is the wrong way to go about combating factory farming, and that it is in fact much better to buy meat and animal products from real family farms instead. In 'Discomfort Food', Foer makes the following fabulous point, more or less in direct response to Pollan's argument that vegetarianism is a barrier to 'table fellowship':
Imagine an acquaintance invites you to dinner. You could say, "I'd love to come. And just so you know, I'm a vegetarian." You could also say, "I'd love to come. But I only eat meat that is produced by family farmers." Then what do you do? You'll probably have to send the host a web link or list of local shops to even make the request intelligible, let alone manageable. This effort might be well-placed, but it is certainly more invasive than asking for vegetarian food.
(Is he trying to imply that pasta with marinara is easier than chicken from Joel Salatin? Pish posh.)

Foer's definition of "Free-Range" is priceless:
Applied to meat, eggs, dairy, and every now and then even fish (tuna on the range?), the free-range label is bullshit. It should provde no more peace of mind than "all natural," "fresh," or "magical."
Followed by "Fresh":
According to the USDA, "fresh" poultry has never had an internal temperature below 26 degrees or above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh chicken can be frozen (thus the oxymoron "fresh frozen"), and there is no time component to food freshness.
Food labeling conundrums are really Marion Nestle's ball of wax, but they're always good for a (terrified) laugh. Other definitions of interest include "KFC" "PETA," "Sentimentality,"

In this chapter, Foer briefly addresses the problems that have arisen in the kosher food industry due to the industrialization of the slaughter process. He asks this difficult question of his own Jewish community: "Has the very concept of kosher meat become a contradiction in terms?"

Living in New York City, I have made many friends and acquaintances who keep kosher. One of the things we have in common is our "restrictive" diets - we tend to understand each other on that level in a way that people who aren't so conscious of food do not. I've had many conversations in which the "two sets of pots and dishes" situation comes up, particularly among people who are dealing with roommates who do not share the same habits. And admittedly, more than once, I've brought up the idea that by going vegan those kosher friends would only need one set, ha.

While less of a story is woven here than in other chapters, it is no less compelling - in fact, given the variety and content of information presented, quite the opposite.

* * *

Read about Chapter 1 here.

Read about Chapter 2 here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vegan Etsy Team Holiday Picks by Holistically Heather

Kenny Coop's awesome vegan candles are the best I have found to date! I might even cry the day our final candle burns out!

Awesome drawstring bag by Vegancraftastic...we all know I am a sucker for anything bicycle related!

A really pretty necklace from Pink Vegan Bubble

I heart this coffee mug from Vessels and Wares...this would be perfect for hot tea and snuggling with fur babies all winter!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's A Wonderful Life- Daiya Vegan Cheese, Strong Hearts Cafe, and Co-Op Grocery Finds!

The other day, last Friday to be exact, Jessi and I took a little adventure out to Syracuse, NY where we had planned to see a band play. Low and behold they were playing at a farm, and when I couldnt get an answer at the farm to find out what their definition of "farm" was we decided the chances of animals being there were what did we do instead?

We headed on over to the Syracuse Co-Op Grocery store, grabbed some organic portabellas and ran into a pal of mine who works there, she told us that they now have Daiya Vegan Cheese, in bulk! We walked right by it and would have never even noticed, I dont make a practive of looking in the cheese cooler hah! For the last couple of months we have heard nothing but rave reviews of Diaya Cheese, and were waiting and waiting to have enough money to try it. Thank you co-op for making it easily accessible.

We left the co-op arms full and wallets on E and headed over to Strong Hearts Cafe, it an all vegan cafe in Syracuse, NY and Friday night is pizza night! We saved up for this night for a long time and were very very eager to munch on some Vegan Chicun Wang Pizza, which consists of dough, hot sauce, seitan strips, sheese blue cheese (which is to die for and tastes a lot like bleu cheese), and smothered in the Daiya mozzarella cheeze.

By the time we sloshed down our vegan milkshakes, we each could only eat one slice of the AMAZING pizza!

So we boxed it up and brought it home, after a long hour drive it was time for a bit of a snack we each had one more slice and saved the rest for morning.

What did those crazy folks do with their bulk Daiya cheeze anyway? Well, glad you asked, we decided to make some of our famous spicy tofu subs and melt the daiya cheese on top! They turned out amazing and are super simple to make. Which makes for a cheap easy meal when you cant afford to eat organic raw veggies the entire winter in upstate NY (which sucks by the way, we are still trying tho!)

These were so simple to make, so heres the recipe!

You will need:
1 or 2 pounds of tofu, depending on how many meals you want to get out of them (we each got 2 meals out of our half of the big sub)
Your favorite hot sauce, we like red hot, it doesnt have corn syrup or sugar in it
Black Olives (if you dig them)
A roll or many rolls depending on what you prefer (we went big ahha real big) Make sure to check ingredients strange dairy crap loves to creep its way into breads
Daiya Cheese shreds (however much you want)
1 c. nutritional yeast

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Drain the tofu, leave it a bit damp so it can be dipped! Dip each strip of tofu into the nutritional yeast (you can also mix in some garlic powder, if you love garlic)and place on a cookie sheet. Bake the tofu until it gets a bit crispy...the thinner you slice it the better it gets nice and crispy that way.
While the tofu is baking mix up your sauce, take a glob of vegenaise and add hot sauce until its the spiceyness that you prefer, set aside. Pull it out of the oven, dunk it in the hot sauce (or soak it, which I do sometimes) then spread the tofu slices on your roll. Cover with more sauce if you fancy, sprinkle with black olives, then smother with the daiya cheese. Put back in oven, just to melt the cheese....Yes thats right, daiya melts and stretches! Pull it out and munch! I wouldnt suggest eating this all the time, or atleat I wouldnt eat it all the time....but you could eat 3 and still be eating healthier than a meat/dairy have fun!

Posted by and recipe by Heather of Holistically Heather