Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Monday, February 18, 2013

Serious Eats Vegan for 32 Days

Hey, there's a "Serious Eats" blogger going vegan for 32 days this year. This year he is also bringing along some others, including his wife and some co-workers, to try the vegan diet and/or lifestyle for either 1 month or 1 week, etc.  This is so cool!  I keep seeing more and more examples of how the vegan snowball is picking up and gaining momentum, growing bigger and bigger day by day!

I found out this from one of the discussions in the Goodreads group Vegan Cooking and Cookbooks, which, by the way, is a wonderful, supportive, non-judgmental site if you enjoy reading and connecting with new vegan friends online.

Back to this "Serious Eats" blogger, J. Kenji L√≥pez-Alt and his vegan challenge..  He  has listed all of his Vegan Recipes 2012, including some yummy-looking appetizers for Super Bowl half time!

"Serious Eats" Vegan Super Bowl Munchies!  You can get his recipes at the web site.

And he has provided a Top 10 Tips / Advice for new vegans.  I especially agree with:

 #1 Keep an Open Mind, 

 #2 Diversity Through Restriction (YES!  This is so true!  A vegan diet can encourage you to be more adventurous with your cooking and dining than you were before.)

 #6 Don't be Embarrassed

 #8 So you messed up.  Don't sweat it.  (Although I would say ... "So you consumed something not-vegan.  Don't sweat it."  Because I don't necessarily consider it a "mess-up" if you eat something non-vegan; depending on the situation, sometimes it's the most prudent choice; i.e., better than eating nothing.  Sometimes eating nothing or "walking out" is a better choice than eating something non-vegan, but sometimes not.)


#10 Don't judge others.  This is one of the toughest ones to do; non-veg people often judge vegans for being vegan or too picky or not vegan enough, and vegans are often judge non-vegans for not being vegan, or others vegans for being "not vegan enough."  You can't win/!!!   It's way too easy to get caught in this judgmental cross-fire.  I like what he wrote in #10 ... "So you disagree ... So what? You're not perfect either ...  you have to realize that not everybody ... has the same value system as yours."   

One thing I DON'T like about #10 is that he calls a veganism a "lifestyle choice."  To me, that makes veganism sound like poly-amory or choosing to be a double-income no kids, or living the rock-and-roll lifestyle ... you know, something you do for personal enjoyment or because this is the way you choose to live.  But for me, veganism is about helping the billions of animals who are suffering and dying each year for food products, right here in the USA.    It's not a lifestyle choice.   I'm not sure what to call it, honestly!   But "lifestyle choice" certainly seems to be the wrong thing.  

Also come to think of it ... "being vegan" doesn't strongly affect my "lifestyle."   It just occurred to me that I have the exact same "lifestyle" as my omni (meat-eater) sweetheart.  We live under the same roof, we sleep in the same bed, we get our clothes from the same closet, we walk to the same train station every day and work an 8 to 5 job, we come home the same way, eat at the same restaurants, have the same friends; each of us does our laundry at the same washing machines, and we have our taxes prepared with the same tax preparer (we have very similar incomes), etc etc.   Gosh darn it, we have the same lifestyle!!!  Yet he's omni, and I'm vegan.*    So ... right there, it shows how silly it is to call veganism a "lifestyle."

* vegan-ish, if you want to be nit-picky!  :)

But then again, I guess I do understand why the Serious Eats blogger uses the word "lifestyle" when saying he's following a 100% vegan lifestyle.  This would mean that he is not consuming or wearing any animal products, or items tested on animals, whether as clothing, shoes, cosmetic products, vitamins, supplements, food, etc.  So in that way, it is important to distinguish "vegan lifestyle" from simply "vegan diet."   Hmmm.  I believe what I especially don't like is the addition of the word "choice." 

Vegan lifestyle choice.   Hmm.  I'm swishing it around in my mouth to see how it feels again.  Nope.   I don't like that.  Maybe we can instead call it "vegan values."  That sounds more intrinsic to the person.  That feels more appropriate, to me.

What do you think?

OK!  Enough nit-picking on word choice / diction!   The point of all this is ... I am super-excited about this omni Foodie guy doing the Serious Eats blog (vegan version) and bringing his wife and some of his co-workers along for the wild vegan ride!

I hope other folks will follow his example and go vegan for a week or a month.  Speaking of which, for my local peeps, Oakland Veg Week is coming up April 22 - April 28, 2013.   If you're curious about trying more vegan foods, go to to take the pledge.  When you sign up, you will get special vegan recipes and other encouraging words sent to your e-mail box every day during Oakland Veg Week.  Then, if you decide to stay signed on, throughout the year you will receive a new vegan recipe on a weekly basis.  Just today I received a recipe for whole-grain pasta with peas, topped with butternut squash curry sauce and quinoa falafel balls!  Holy macaroni.   It looks awesome.  

Happy veggie eats, everyone!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Let's talk about SHOES!

YES!  Vegan shoes!

1960s Vintage Classic Pumps, All Man-Made Materials.

This is all about women's shoes.  Sorry men!  Come back for the next post.  Although, for the next one, we might be talking about purses, hmm.

When I go shopping for shoes, my favorite LABEL is not Gucci or Chanel, it's "ALL MAN MADE MATERIALS"  ... !!!  And of course, I would love for my shoes to be fair trade.  Definitely I don't want shoes made in some hell on Earth like Santa's workshop where the elves are slaving away day and night, without getting paid overtime, in sub-zero temperatures.

* the elves' toy making.  (not elve's)  (bah!)  (However, I do love the idea of Santa's Elvises driving the poor elves into a feverish pitch of toy-making activity!  Talk about a "Blue Christmas"!)
Like any girl, I love shoes that are beautiful and comfortable, but I must say, I do err on the side of comfortable and functional, because I live in San Francisco and commute by public transit to Oakland for work.  I walk at least 2 miles per day just getting back and forth from home and work.  On the weekends, it's the same deal, Jeff and I walk for miles and miles just to go stores and restaurants and have fun.  On top of that, when I'm by myself, typically I'm running late.  That means I am literally RUNNING the two miles per day, in whatever shoes I happen to have on.
Vegan Rhino Wedge Sandal by Mink

So ... while I love me some sexy platform heels, I'm sad to say, they generally don't work for me ... most of the time.  :)

The other constraint is that I like to wear shoes that enable me to swing dance spontaneously with my sweetie, if the mood strikes us.  I've found that very high platform shoes like the one above, are not easy to dance in.  It's a bummer to get caught wearing shoes like that, and then there's no way you can dance, unless you want to go barefoot.

Another factor is that I don't have a lot of space to store hundreds of pairs of shoes ... so I like shoes that are versatile.

What I need is a "do it all" kind of shoe!!!  Does such a thing exist?  Yes, I have found something that is pretty close! Alas, it is probably made by Santa's elves in the coldest and most austere part of China.  But it does almost everything I need it to do.  It's very comfortable (even when I am running 1 mile each way), and it's all man-made materials!
Aerosoles Tornado in Black Fabric Upper

I wear those Aerosoles all the time.  I'm now on my third pair!  I also have an awesome pair of "all man made materials" boots, in the style of leather go-go boots, which I found for about $50 (something like 75% off) at some Financial District shoe store, back when I lived there, about five years ago.  Sadly, these shoes were also likely from a sweatshop!  I don't wear the boots on a daily basis, so they are still in great shape.  Sorry I don't have a picture.  Hmm, will see if I can get a good picture and post it here later.

And I have a pair of waterproof "duck boots" that I wear on rainy days when I have to wade through puddles to get to work.   Those are also a few years old, but since I only wear them maybe 10 days out of the year, they are still doing great.

Now for what we really want to talk about: "fair trade," sweatshop-free, and/or recycled vintage veggie shoes!

Right now I am digging these Novacas black pumps.  

Novacas "Erin" in Black at Nice Shoes.

I probably can't run two miles in these, but for a more formal occasion, these would be a nice step up from my Aerosoles.  And I love these pumps from Novacas.
Novacas "Siobahn" Pumps at Moo Shoes.

Novacas "Ocean - Blue" Peep Toe Pump
Novacas is named for the Spanish / Portuguese words for "no cows."  According to, Novacas '"produces products that are made from the highest quality synthetic microfibers available and are 100% PVC-free. Shoes are ethically manufactured in Portugal at worker-friendly factories according to labor standards set forth by the European Union."  So hopefully these are shoes you can feel good about!

Here'es a sensible black pump for wearing to work (if you work in an office).

Dorothy, by Vegetarian Shoes

And how about these fun sandals by Madden Girl?

Madden Girl "Endanger" All Man Made Materials :)

The listing doesn't say anything about the health and happiness of the worker bees at Madden Girl.  But it is listed on "Nice Shoes" where the motto is "Vegan. Ethical. Fashionable."  So the shoes have got to be ethical, right !?!?  One would hope.

The next shoe is one I have owned (bought 2 pairs in a row), and I found it to be very cute with casual skirts or pants.  I used to run to the train station in these, until I wore holes into the bottoms of the soles.  CLEARLY they weren't as durable as my sturdy Aerosoles!  And they didn't provide as much arch support for running.  (Yeah, I know they weren't really designed for that, but I'm just sayin'.)  Also they weren't the greatest for dancing because the heel would not stay on; when dancing in these, I'd spend half the time stepping in and out of my shoes.

Ally Sandal in brown, by Vegetarian Shoes
The Ally Sandal comes in black and also in red, which definitely ups the cute factor!  Made in Spain, where you know the worker bees are happy as can be.  The food is good, the people are sexy, life is fantastic.

Ally Sandal in red, by Vegetarian Shoes
According to, "Vegetarians Shoes designs and produces all animal and worker friendly shoes made exclusively in European and English factories, including the oldest co-op in the England, established in 1881!"

Now how about some sneakers?  First of all, I need good sneakers for dancing out on the concrete sidewalks at Lindy in the Park on Sundays.  I have found that anything in the Keds / Oxford style works great for dancing at the park.  I recently purchased a pair of these from Vegan Essentials:
The Slim Oxford II by Palladium shoes.
The Slim Oxford II is billed an eco-friendly shoe, but I don't know if it's fair trade.  Definitely it is all man-made materials, being at  The shoe below is by Draven, which is another vegan-friendly shoe company.  Either of these shoes would be fine for dancing in the park.

Liz Canvas Sneaker by Draven $19.95

And how about for WORK?  Some of you may know that I am a bridge inspector.  I have to go scrambling over, through, under, and around the bridges, and I need some comfortable and sturdy shoes!  Actually, they are required to be "boots" of some kind, but they don't have to be rigid sole, and they don't have to be steel toe.  Here are the boots I have for work:

Trail Boot MK2 by Vegetarian Shoes

I realize these aren't sexy at all, but honestly this is just the right thing for my job.  A good, sturdy vegan boot!   If you want work boots with steel toes, I think these are awesome:

Air-Seal Steel Toe Para Boot by Vegetarian Shoes

Thinsulate Vegan Snow Boots for only $35 (size 7)

Warm, Cuddly Vegan Snow Boots! $99 at Pangea The Vegan Store.

Now I just came back from a trip to Texas, and I saw lots of people wearing (what appeared to be) leather cowboy boots.   So the vegan folks aren't left out of fashion, did you know that vegan cowgirl boots are available, too?  Some of those leather cowboy boots go for more than $1000 a pair, so these boots are a steal for the regular price of $149.99.  They're on sale right now at Vegan Essentials for $49.99, in just a few sizes.

"No Cow" Cow Girl Boot by Vegetarian Shoes, made in Portugal

Vegan Western Cowgirl Boots in Cream Pleather $35

Another great place to shop for beautiful vegan shoes is on  They have some wonderful new or barely used gems.  A lovely place to browse and daydream!
1950's Pin-Up Pumps.  All Man Made Materials.
Green Pumps with White Embroidery.  All Man-Made Materials.

Hand-Painted Peacock & Hydrangea Peep Toe.  Certified Vegan Shoes.

So as you can see, there are lots of fun and practical vegan options out there for shoes.

I strive every day to make purchases free of animal products.  Nonetheless, despite the many styles of vegan shoes theoretically available, I have run across some vegan road blocks.  As an example, for swing dancing, even if you get shoes made with fabric uppers (as I do), the soles are still made with leather, because they are designed to help you slide on the floor.  I know that all-vegan swing dance shoes must be out there, so feel free to write in with tips.

My Vegan Rock Climbing Shoes with Hemp Lining.
Mad Rock Mugen Tech Lace 2.0
Another example is rock climbing shoes ... I purchased mine back in 1998 or 1999.  I didn't even know what the were made of, but 13 years later, they were falling apart to the point that my toes were sticking out.  Time for new shoes!  I went to REI for replacements and found out my old shoes were leather.  I had no idea.  They were dyed a bright teal color.  I didn't want to buy those again, so I spent the next month looking for a vegan replacement (trying out different brands, etc).  The search was not going well, and I was climbing quite a lot.  I had to get something I was comfortable in, so indeed I purchased the same kind I had before (only comes in leather) as a replacement.  (I'm also hoping to get the old ones re-sewed and re-sold, but I'm a procrastinator and who knows when I'll get that done.)

Meanwhile I kept searching for a vegan climbing shoe.  Awhile later I did find a vegan style that eventually (after breaking the shoes in) worked well for me.  It is the Mad Rock Mugen Tech Lace 2.0.  So now I have two good pairs or climbing shoes, one that's vegan and one that isn't.

If folks want to call me a hypocrite for making occasional non-vegan purchases, or for sometimes buying shoes that were likely produced in an oppressive sweat shop somewhere, that's fine.  I'm comfortable with my goal (vegan, no animal products, sweatshop-free, eco-friendly style shopping), while acknowledging that not all of my purchases fit 100%.

1980s Rainbow Wedge Sandals.  All Man Made Materials. $34

So I want to encourage everyone to have fun with vegan shopping, and do your best to find vegan alternatives.  But don't beat yourself up for it if you need a special kind of shoe and can't find a vegan, sweatshop-free version.  I truly believe that sometimes your time is better spent just getting what you need and moving on.   As more and more people demand vegan and sweatshop-free products, it will become easier to find vegan versions of niche items like swing dance shoes and rock climbing shoes.

And ... instead of endlessly shopping for the perfect 100% vegan something-or-another and coming up empty-handed, day after day ... you could be going out there dancing or rock climbing and showing people how much fun it is to be vegan.  :)

Espadrille Hmong Embroidery Vegan Shoe

If you want to see more styles of shockingly beautiful vegan shoes, check out this pinterest by Vanessa Rae.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

When a vegan girl gets sick ...

I know, vegans are supposed to be weakly wimps about to collapse from lack of protein, or we're supposed to be healthy cancer-proof "I never get colds" wonder women and super men.  Oh, the confusion of expectations!!!

In reality, vegans suffer from physical maladies just like other people ... yes, we get cancer, we get colds, we get food poisoning, we gain unwanted pounds, we get high blood pressure, we get diabetes.  Probably the only thing we don't get is high cholesterol (I'm guessing?) because there is no cholesterol at all in the food we eat. Other than that, a vegan diet doesn't make you IMMUNE to anything.   I do think a whole foods plant-based diet reduces your chances of getting some things (like colon cancer), but it definitely doesn't make you immune to getting sick.

Now that we have that out of the way ... GUESS WHAT!  I'm sick!

I've come down with bronchitis.  So far it's no big deal, it just means I don't feel very well, I want to lie down most of the time, and I've had a terrible cough with lovely bits of phlegm.  It started on January 1 this year.  At first it was just a cold, so I tried fighting it off myself.  Normally when I get cold symptoms, they go away after 1 or 2 days.  So I just kept expecting it to go away.  In fact, sometimes I thought I was basically cured, but then it would COME BACK.  Unfortunately, 3 weeks into it, things got much worse, I even collapsed in a public place (the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio) having a very scary coughing fit, the likes of which I had never experienced.  Thank goodness my dear friend Alison was there to help me!

So! I rushed back home to San Francisco; the doctor said it was bronchitis and gave me antibiotics.  It had been several years since I'd had antibiotics, and I didn't remember them too fondly!

Now comes for all the advice from people.  Everyone says, drink lots of chicken noodle soup!  Eat lots of probiotic yogurt!!!  Drink hot tea with honey!  Get throat lozenges with honey!   Then they say, "Oh, that's right, you don't eat that stuff.  Sorry."

OOPS!  Well, guess what, there are perfectly good vegan-ish things for when we get sick!

Here are the things I'm using right now.

Bio-K Probiotic Liquid, made with Fermented Organic Rice

Primadophilus Optima ... 14 Probiotic Strains in a Vegetarian Capsule. No bee products!

Ricola "THE ORIGINAL" Natural Herb Cough Drops

Now for food ... hot, nourishing soup!  No, it does not have to be chicken noodle!!!

I made a wonderful soup at my brother's house in Dripping Springs, Texas.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures, but I'm hoping to make it again and then post here.  Here is how I made it.

Garlic Potato Butternut Squash Soup


1 head of garlic (about 16 cloves)
3 large potatoes
1 butternut squash
1 carton of vegetable broth
1 onion
Grapeseed oil
Seasonings: black pepper, curry seasoning, red pepper powder, paprika


Wash the outside of the butternut squash, then cut it in half.  Remove the seeds and stringy inner parts.
Pour some water in a rectangular glass pan that is big enough to accommodate both halves of butternut squash side by side.  Place the butternut squash face-down in the water.  Then put it in the oven set for 350 degrees.  You may want to turn it up to 375 or 400 if you get impatient towards the end.  Let it cook for about an hour or until the butternut squash is soft and the shell seems to want to come off.

While the squash is in the oven, peel the garlic cloves and mince them or chop them into very small pieces.  Let the chopped garlic sit for 15 minutes before beginning to cook them.

Scrub the potatoes and cut them up into small-ish pieces.  Pour some vegetable broth into a 2 or 3-quart sauce pan, and drop the potatoes in there to get them cooking.  Let them simmer and cook.

Chop up an onion into small pieces.  Pour a little grapeseed oil into a cast iron skillet and start sauteeing the onions.  Then add the chopped-up garlic to the frying pan and sautee until soft.  Then add the onions and garlic to the simmering pot of potatoes.

When the butternut squash is baked, pull it out of the oven.  Remove the outer skin and chop up the yummy squash, then drop it into the potato-garlic-onion soup and let it cook together.  Pour in more vegetable broth if needed to get your desired soup consistency.   Season lightly with pepper, curry seasoning, red pepper powder, and paprika if desired.

Voila!  Wonderful soup you can make for a sick vegan friend.
Prep time is about 1 hour.

Homemade soup is great, but when I got back to San Francisco, all I wanted to do is stay in bed. So I stocked up on my favorite organic vegan heat-and-go soups from Imagine, at Whole Foods.

Here are the soups for my at-home recovery.

I purchased the creamy butternut squash, the creamy tomato, the creamy portobello, and the creamy broccoli.  Yes, they're "creamy," but they are not made with cow's milk.  I think dairy products are a bad idea generally, but I believe they are an especially bad thing when you're trying to get rid of  a cold.

The Imagine soups are kind of thin ... they don't compare in flavor to homemade soups made from scratch, but at least they're a lot more healthful than something like Campbell's.  They do make a good base; you can use these as a starter and throw some extra veggies in.  I noticed Imagine even makes a creamy red potato with roasted garlic soup, which (assuming it's vegan) would be a good shortcut for starting off with the soup I described above.  

I think garlic is important, so I also bought a couple heads of garlic.  Tuesday I chopped up one half of one of the heads of garlic and put in the butternut squash soup.  Wednesday I chopped up the other half and put in there  Today I guess I'll go for the broccoli soup!  Maybe I will put some potatoes in this time.  I noticed my appetite is picking up a little bit!  Although I sincerely I can keep my 5 pounds of weight loss, which is what I've enjoyed so far on the Bronchitis Diet !!!  :)

Another thing I've been having is tea!  They say that cinnamon and cloves are good for immunity, so here is one I'm enjoying currently.  

Gingerbread Spice Celestial Seasonings Herbal Tea

It doesn't have cloves in the tea, but I have clove powder as a spice! So I make the tea an then sprinkle some clove spice on top.  (Don't overdo it, the cloves are kind of bitter!)  I've also sprinkled some pumpkin seasoning on top, just to make it extra cinnamon-y and nutmeg-y. Hope that gives my immune system a boost!

Hope these vegan get-well ideas are helpful to somebody out there.  

With enough rest and nourishment, I'm hoping to be back to my old self!

Ha ha!  Wishing everyone health and happiness this year!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sexing Semen For Dairy Cows, it's HERE!

I was just talking on the phone with my college friend, who lives in Texas. 

Her husband works for Sexing Technologies, and I was surprised to learn that they are already using sexed semen for the dairy cows at Texas A&M, especially for the high-producing heifers.  No one wants the female cow to waste her pregnancy on producing a male calf, when she could have produced a very valuable high producing female offspring instead. So they use sexed semen. My friend said they bring the bull and the heifer in to the lab facility. They get the bull's semen, put it through a machine which turns it into all female producing gametes; and then they artificially inseminate the valuable "high producing" heifer, thereby ensuring she gives birth to female offspring. My friend said it's that easy, and they do it all the time.

As I listening, I thought, Wow. I read Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money by Erik Marcus back in 2005, and I remember his arguments about the fallacy of a humane (compassionate, no-kill) dairy.  A big part of Erik's argument was regarding the fact that sexed semen was too expensive, so there will always be lots of male dairy cows born, which are useless. 

So ... that's interesting that technology has advanced to the point where now it is becoming economical to use sexed semen, thereby preventing unwanted male dairy cows from being born.  I believe the dairy industry is wrong, period ... but I suppose it makes it a bit less inhumane if they will no longer have to kill all of the baby calves who are male.  What do you think?

Here's an article produced by the dairy industry. I enjoyed reading this, because it gives SO MUCH VALIDITY to what Vegan Outreach is always saying. Nobody can say that Vegan Outreach's message is some kind of fringe wacko argument, when it's the dairy industry themselves who are providing the same message.

Some fave quotes:

"Bill Wailes, Colorado State University Extension dairy specialist, says average milk production was 20,500 lbs./dairy cow last year. It was 5,000 lbs. in the early 1960s."

Oh, happy joy joy! To be that cow with the udders producing four times as much milk as what nature intended!

“A lot of dairy producers are in a situation where they can create more heifers than they need for replacement, and they’re trying to figure out how they can maximize profit per cow,” Wilson says.

And, oh, the industry likes to wax poetic, whenever confronted, about how their first concern is for the health and happiness of each individual cow.   But really ... are you truly looking after the best interests of a cow, or a human worker's, when all you are trying to do is maximize the profit?  People do great at maximizing profit with slave labor (used throughout history) or employing workers in dangerous jobs for which they are not adequately compensated and many other scenarios.  Have history and current experience shown us that "what maximizes profit" is the same as what maximizes health of the individual worker?

"Genetic progress and reproductive technology mean they can increase milk production with fewer cows, while replacing the entire herd every 30 months."

"Replacing the herd" means that the dairy cows are KILLED every 30 months, and most dairy cows don't live more than 2.5 years. When they have an expected life span of 30 years? HOW LOVELY. All the people who think they can eat dairy and cheese because no one is dying for the milk ... or that they are honoring a cow by drinking their milk ... I'm sorry, these people need a reality check. With death rates like these, it upsets me that milk is considered "vegetarian" at all. :( 

The funny thing is, in my opinion, the dairy industry in so patently cruel, I'm 100% against it ... while I am only partially against eating meat or eggs. (I'm against FACTORY-FARMED meat and eggs, which is 99% of it in our country, and that's why I'm vegan or vegan-ish, whatever you want to call it; but I'm not against someone having a chicken as a pet, for example, and that person eating the pet chicken's eggs. And I'm not against the idea of someone eating their pet chickens or pet dog or any other animal, after the animal has lived a nice good life. I'm also not against someone eating me, or feeding me to a tiger or other carnivorous animal, after I've had a nice good life. Just euthanize me so I have a peaceful death and then let the tiger eat my body if the tiger's hungry. I've got no problem with that.)

But for me, dairy is a whole other animal. :) Dairy equates to slavery, plain and simple. If someone were using me as a dairy animal, that means they impregnated me against my will, took away my child, fed the child something else when my own milk would have been the healthiest thing for it, and then they hooked me up to machines to steal my own milk every day!!! Then they will kill me when I'm about age 14 (after I've had 2 or 3 kids) because my milk production is slowing down. What the heck! I will not stand for that, and I will not stand for them doing that to our cows! 

Yes, I will tolerate some dairy ingredient embedded in my food once in awhile, but I am not happy about it! I can't help it that dairy products are sometimes in my environment. But I can help to educate people about how the dairy industry really is, so that we can put an end to it.  Or at least people can get some sort of clue, so they don't just go around eating milk and cheese happy-go-lucky, like there's nothing wrong with it.

Anyway, that's my philosophy!
Now back to my fave quotes from the article.

Currently, Holstein and Brown Swiss bull calves are worth about $100/head; Guernsey and Jersey bull calves are worth next to nothing. Calf raisers typically pick up calves 24-48 hours post birth and after they’ve received colostrum from mama. These calves are raised on milk replacer for 60-90 days before being sold or retained for backgrounding and feeding.

"Being sold" refers to the male calves who are sold to be killed while still very young, since they are otherwise "worth next to nothing," as the article so honestly points out. How many "right-to-lifers" are out there saying how each human life is so valuable and precious, but they support the dairy industry, which is so callous about the lives of these innocent baby cows?  

And how cool is that for us to separate the calf from the mother, after only 2 days, when a cow is a mammal who expect to care for her young for about a year after birth?   

And for all the people who talk about how "breast milk is nature's perfect food for baby," ... yes, I agree!  So why are we feeding the baby dairy cows "milk replacer" instead of the mother's milk?  Sadly, when the fact is that the mother cow is producing 4x the milk that she would have, 50 years ago ... it seems they could offer the 1/4 of the mom's milk to the baby cow.  Then at least the baby cow could drink "nature's perfect food: her mother's milk" instead of "milk replacer."  Then the other 3/4 could go to the dairy industry's "profits."  But no ... the dairy industry is so greedy that they want 100% of the mother's milk for their profits.   They won't even give part of it to the baby cow.   Even though the mom is suffering terribly with mastitis, diseased utters, and other problems due to the high milk production.

"Incidentally, the average production life of dairy cows is 2.5 lactations or so. Wailes explains some of the rapid turnover is due to selective culling, such as for subpar performance; some is due to non-selective culling, such as for lameness, mastitis, etc. Mostly, though, turnover stems from dairy producers’ effective sustained use of sexed semen."

"Yeah, lameness, mastitis, yadda yadda."  Dairy cows are developing all of these problems when they only got to live for about 2 or 3 years anyway?  So young to be developing such problems.  :(  And when they say the turnover comes from the effective sustained use of sexed semen ... they mean that suitable offspring to take their place (female cows) are being born at a faster rate, so the mother cows can be killed sooner.    The whole dairy industry is really sad.  
And finally:

"For the beef industry, maintaining critical infrastructure continues as a key wonderment, magnified by the smallest beef cowherd since World War II. There’s no reason to expect much expansion, either, in light of the litany of issues addressed over the past half-year in this exclusive BEEF magazine series." 

Per capita annual beef consumption has fallen to "around the 50-lb level" from it's previous position "not that long ago" which was said to be in the "mid-60s" (i.e., around 65-lb beef consumption per person). And the beef industry is worried. See article below.

You know ... as a solution to this "problem" ... what I hope they go back to smaller operations with smaller herds and much less beef produced; i.e., no more factory farms.   I'm guessing the could employ the same number of people as they do now (on their heavily mechanized factory farm systems) ... except it would be small farms, with the same number of people working (so no "jobs" would be lost). There would be fewer cows being killed for their meat (NONE would be killed for dairy products because there wouldn't be a dairy industry; I HOPE!), and the per capita meat consumption would be very very low. The beef would be very expensive, but I think it SHOULD BE. People who do eat beef and other meat products (seafood, chicken, turkey, pork) would eat it only once in a while, whatever is the minimum they think they need for nutrition; if they do it that way, they can afford the high prices. Then the animals will be treated well (or at least mistreated and killed in much smaller numbers), the workers will be paid very good wages and have a higher level of job satisfaction, working on small, privately owned farms. I think that would be a BIG IMPROVEMENT for the animals, the economy, the planet, and the health of the people.

In the meantime, I am as vegan as I find it practical to be (vegan-ish), because I am so upset about the billions of animals suffering here in the U.S. every day, in the most inhumane conditions, on factory farms.  Jeff lives with me and sees the way I live, the choices I make, the things that upset me: he thinks I'm vegan ... but people who are 100% vegan purists, or people who are omni's looking to nit-pick ... they say I'm NOT vegan (or that I'm a hypocrite if I say I am). 

Oh, how omni's love to find something which they think enables them to call a vegan a hypocrite! It either scares vegans into thinking they need to be 100% strict all the time, to be beyond reproach ... OR it scares people away from calling themselves vegan at all. It's really sad.

So I call myself vegan ... ish.  :)    Hopefully it makes sense to some people.   I know I've put out  ideas that seem radical to both vegans and non-vegans alike.  (More of my wacky, crazy ideas, woo-hoo!)  I don't seek to offend, and I apologize to anyone I have offended (example: dairy farmers, sorry!   I don't despise you or think badly of you personally; but I do genuinely think you need a different line of work!)   Feel free to comment and post your ideas, too.  Who knows, I might hear your idea and then modify my philosophy a bit.   I don't pretend to have it all figured out (no matter how emphatically I may express myself.)  This is just what I am thinking about today.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, December 31, 2012

It's December 31st - the Perfect Time for Procrastinating Do-Gooders!

Howdy folks!

It's the last day of 2012!

Finally I am getting off my procrastinating duff and making my year-end charitable gifts.

This brings me to an interesting "vegan-ish" topic.  As you might expect, being a long-time vegan or vegan-ish lady, this year I donated to vegan-oriented groups like Vegan Outreach, Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, Animal Place, and Oakland Veg Week (through Bay Area Vegetarians).

But I also donated to San Francisco Marin Food Bank, Alameda County Meals on Wheels, and SF Meals on Wheels, which provide food for the poor in our community and for senior citizens.

Initially I did not want to support the Food Bank or Meals on Wheels because then some of the money goes to support animal cruelty, through the foods that are purchased.  I looked for local charities that provide all vegan food to people in need, but I did not find any, except for this one in Canada (and I think their food might be vegetarian, not vegan).   Since this was the best I could find, I thought about simply donating to the Ontario Vegetarian Food Bank instead of to my local one.  (They do take donations online.)

In the end ... after some thought, I decided I should donate to the people who are struggling in my local community.  Even though we don't have a vegan food bank here, not yet ... I feel it's important to lend these folks a helping hand right now, rather than waiting until these programs become completely veganized.

What do you think?  Should vegans donate to their local not-vegan food banks or not?

Also, how do you feel about charitable giving?

Personally I like the idea of giving to organizations that mean something to you, or to the person you are trying to get a gift for, rather than spending money on expensive gifts at Christmas time.  What makes me sad is that often times, money is spent on material things that the gift recipient doesn't even want.  The ever-present Christmas question is: "What do you get for the guy who has everything?"   Which is kind of silly, isn't it?  If the guy has everything, why worry about getting him a gift at all?  Instead, let's ask questions like: "What can we get for the people who don't have enough?"  Or, "how can we use our money to build up our community and make it a better place for everyone to live?" 

Maybe I'm too Pollyanna-ish, but this is the kind of Christmas giving I'd like to see more of.  :)  I bet "the guy who has everything" would be very touched to see that his family members made a donation in his honor to his favorite school's scholarship program or some other cause that is dear to his heart.  Then, instead of spending a whole day sitting around, opening gifts, people could create new traditions like going on a hike as a family.  After hiking to the top of the hill, everyone exchanges cards with notes explaining what charitable contributions were made in honor of this person and that person.  Or if the weather if bad outside, just stay inside for a family game night, or reading night, TV night, baking night, whatever ... and the ceremony can be exchanging cards and notes of charitable contributions.  The excitement could be, I wonder what charity Aunt Nettie thinks represents me?  Wouldn't that be fun?  What do you think?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My review of The China Study is #1 on Goodreads!

Out of 1,227 reviews for the book The China Study on goodreads, my review is #1 !
In terms of "most liked," if that counts for anything.

What do you think?

Friend me on goodreads if you want to be in touch about books!