That’s the headline from The Salt Lake Tribune yesterday. I haven’t had time (stupid real job) to investigate the situation in detail but we got this tip today and I just wanted to get it up as soon as possible.
Anyway, she is so sweet and wonderful that the only request she has made of her supporters is this (from her Facebook page):
“Thank you so much for all the supportive messages! A lot of people are concerned about my defense funds. I have them covered and have amazing lawyers representing me. If you would like to help, the only thing I would ask is you help the animals at Ching Farm Rescue and Sanctuary by helping us meet our Hay Day Fundraiser goal. I started this fundraiser, and if we could make the remaining $1630 my spirits would be in good shape!”
We should all follow this story as it progresses, though I hope it goes no further.
SUPER FAST UPDATE!: RadioWaves tells us the charges have been dropped! Huzzah! We must continue the fight though, as I fear this won’t be the last we see of ag-gag.
Adopt NY needs your help to bring Hurricane Sandy relief to the animals! »
Awesome reader Jen tipped us to a really great way to help out New York’s needy animal shelters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: Donate to Adopt NY!
Adopt NY is an organization that connects shelters around New York to make it as easy as possible for people to adopt animals. It’s terrific. And right now they are having a hell of a time coordinating between their 44 rescue groups to get relief to all those groups, shelters, and animals. Let’s block-quote from Facebook:
This has been a terrible week for New York—for all its people and animals. For New York City’s animals, the shelter system has been deafeningly silent. Without any First Alerts (lists sent out to rescues of all incoming animals) or Kill Lists for the past week at Animal Care & Control, the prospect of them having to kill large numbers is very real. Rescue groups have found it often close to impossible to pull animals from AC&C, as email is down, and no clear direction has been given about the true needs of the shelter system after the largest hurricane to ever hit New York. Add to that the fact that many rescue groups and NY shelters have sustained extensive damage to their facilities, as well as many fosters becoming homeless themselves.
Together with your help, we want to provide the assistance all our rescue groups so desperately need. We will keep you posted every step of the way. Please go here to donate to the Adopt NY Relief Fund, hosted through one of our founding groups, Dog Habitat Rescue. Thank you on behalf of all Adopt NY’s rescue groups for your generosity.
For New York locals, Adopt NY has a huge list of needed supplies at Facebook. Check it out and see what you can donate, New York Vegansaurs. The rest of us can donate at Dog Habitat, per Adopt NY. Give what you can to help the shelter animals, they desperately need it.
Jerry James Stone presents: How to cut and store an avocado! »
It seems like a total duh, right? But avocados are beautiful, we love Jerry James Stone, and over the past couple weeks I’ve seen like three avocado halves in the fridge at my office turning brown and shriveling because whoever is using them doesn’t know how to store them properly. This must be stopped!
Anybody can GO vegan. Heck, my dad makes a joke that goes, “I’m vegan… BETWEEN MEALS!” Ha! Got me there, Dad!
The point is, many people decide to go vegan and they’re all about it for a while. Then they get frustrated. Or bored. Or lonely. Or demotivated. Or any number of less-than-optimal states of being. We’ve given you tips on how to GO vegan, now we’d like to tell you how to STAY vegan.
1. Spread the word! Tell everyone you’re vegan. Reaffirming this fact not only to myself but also to people I meet might make me obnoxious, but it also keeps me feeling like the public is watching my every move. And nobody likes feeling hypocritical. They tell you to do this when you’re going to quit smoking too—it just makes you more accountable.
2. Get a vegan tattoo! I’m sort of joking but not really? I got one (pictured above). It’s there to judge me, forever.
3. Remember why you’re vegan! Re-watch Meet Your Meat, Earthlings, or reread Diet for a New America. Listen to podcasts like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and We Like It Raw. Revisit why you went vegan in the first place when you’re feeling shaky. Ask yourself on the regular, why you are doing this. Animals? Environment? To bring more compassion into your life? It will help remind you why this sometimes challenging way of life is worth it. And it’s fun to see how your commitments, ideas and thoughts about this way of life change over time. As my therapist tells me, check in with yourself on the regular!
4. Stay in the know! Watch new exposés. Read new studies. Every time the “health community” “learns” something about food, pay attention—you might have forgotten all the pus and antibiotics in that hunk of cheese you’re craving. Have all the information in your grasp. This is particularly easy to do if you have the Internet. God bless the internet!
5. Take it easy on yourself! Forgive yourself if you do something that’s not vegan. You’ll learn what to watch out for on ingredient lists and which brands of face lotion are tested on animals. You will learn SO MUCH, it’s crazy. You can always choose to do something different next time, and guilt-tripping yourself isn’t going to make you feel motivated to continue in this lifestyle. It’s okay if you’re not perfect, you’re human! Your lifestyle isn’t about being more vegan than anyone else and mistakes happen. This is especially important when beginning or coming back to a vegan way of life!
6. Listen to your body! If you do slip up, pay attention to your body. If/when you do something that’s not vegan, on purpose or on accident, think about how it makes you feel physically in addition to mentally. You might notice you feel better without those eggs clogging up your arteries!
7. Build your vegan community! Find vegan friends. You can do this through a meetup, through vegan blogs (ahem), or by complete accident. Talk to them when you’re feeling low about veganism. For every vegan you don’t want to talk to, there are at least five more you do. You have a vegan BFF out there just waiting to be found! It took me five years to find Jenny Bradley. Patience pays off.
8. Throw a party! If you are a social being and like to have people over, throw a vegan party! I like to have monthly potlucks, in which I invite everyone I know and ask them to bring a dish, if they so desire! Of course it must be vegan! It brings out the creativity in my vegetarian and omnivore friends, and they get really excited when they veganize their dishes! I swear! It’s the cutest. Plus, everyone loves eating! Food at parties gives people something to do and talk about!
9. Experiment in the kitchen! Try new recipes, like, all the time. Rice, beans, and kale are all healthy, but some deep-fried tofu cubes or a few bites of homemade vegan ice cream shouldn’t kill you (of course, consult your doctor if you’re at all worried about that). If you’re bored with what you’re eating, going back to the omni side could look terribly appealing.
10. Go to vegan venues! Hit up vegan restaurants. Don’t have any near you? Make a point to take some road trips to the closest ones. There’s a big wide vegan world waiting for you!
11. Be prepared! Traveling while vegan can be an adventure. Plan accordingly. You can always eat at Subway or Taco Bell on roadtrips, but bring snacks! Everywhere! Weddings, plane rides, whatever circumstance has you not eating for hours at a time. I have found this is especially important when arriving somewhere late or if you have a food allergy! I firmly believe raw, dehydrated foods are the best for these situations because they are healthy and flavorful. Basically, pack nutrient dense foods (bagels, pretzels and bread have a tendency to leave me hungry and unfulfilled as opposed to kale chips, dried fruit, nuts or a superfood Powerbar).
12. Let the vegan haters hate! Don’t let assholes (I’m including myself here) shame you into quitting. I’ll be like, “Oh, people who support PETA are human lice,” but then I’ll totally forget to look at ingredients on some random granola bar I bought because I was hungry and end up eating something with whey in it and not feeling so high and mighty after all. Plus a few days down the road you’ll probably see me looking up a recipe on PETA’s website. The point is that this is your choice, and people who are jerks to you about it are just that: jerks.
13. Let the omni haters hate! Pick your battles with omnivores. Haters gonna hate and you’ll wear yourself out when you feel like you are always on the defense to testy omnivores. Sometimes I just laugh jerks off, because in the end, I don’t care what they think of me and I know I gotta do me! Remember, it’s about you! This is your life, your diet and your choices! Everyone will have an opinion (they always do!) but in the end, my goal is to show everyone what a healthy, happy, satisfied, well-adjusted, fun vegan looks like.
There you have it! I hope this list helps you stay vegan and stay strong. It’s a great thing you’re doing, keep up the good work!
Five ways to take your tofu scramble to the next level »
Is your tofu scramble missing something—flavor, pizazz, less slime? I’m no professional chef, but I did consult her for this article. And I’m sitting on the bench in my tofu scramble game: That means I DON’T PLAY. After complaining about tofu scrambles on restaurant menus, it’s only fair that I help others get on my level. Am I full of myself? You bet! Let’s start:
1. Tofu texture You’ve got to go with firm or firmer, folks. Soft, medium, or silken tofu? Not gonna work here. I’ve made this mistake before, and it turns your meal all slimy. Go for firm or extra-firm. If your tofu is packed in water (usually accompanied by a hard plastic tray), you should also press it first to expel extra liquid.
2. Herbs ‘n’ spices This is god-damned crucial. Because tofu is designed to soak up the flavors of what’s around it, you don’t want to end up with a dish that tastes like … tofu. Some important items, not just for cooking a tofu scramble but also for cooking most things in the world: garlic, cumin (gives it that eggy flavor), salt, black salt (makes it even eggier), pepper, paprika, turmeric (makes it yellow, if you’re into that) and thyme. Apply liberally, and thank me in the morning.
3. Cooking time Cook your tofu in your skillet (ideally cast-iron, but who has time/money for such frivolities?!) till you think it might be burning. Then stir it, because it probably is not burnt. The point is you want your tofu to be done, not still mushy. Here’s my process: I sautee onions and any veggies with a longer cooking time first, then I add garlic and spices, and then the tofu. After adding the tofu, I cook on medium-high heat and stir occasionally for at least 15 to 20 minutes. You want that shit browned, ya heard?
4. Veggies You can’t just toss onions and peppers on top of cubed tofu and expect it to be any good. You want the tofu to soak up flavors, which is why I recommended in tip #3 to cook a lot of the relevant veggies first. Frozen spinach and potatoes are especially useful in this application. When something is frozen, I add it later, when I add the tofu to the pan.
5. Toppings This is the final step before serving, right? So don’t scrimp! Hook yourself up with some salsa, Frank’s hot sauce (GOD FRANK’S I WANT TO DRINK YOU), avocado, tortillas, ketchup, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and whatever else you godforsaken heathens like to throw on top of your food. Serve with toast, duh.
If your tofu scrambles are lackluster, try a few of these tips, and let me know how it goes. Or show it to a friend who could really use some help. Whatever, I’m here to serve!
Guest post: Hosting vegans: tips and etiquette for the holidays »
It’s that time of the year, where people start pretending to be social: family get-togethers, work potlucks, dinner parties, and holiday festivities. This can also be a pretty uncomfortable time for vegans, too. Unless you’ve been blessed with a cohort of family and friends who are also vegan, you’re usually the odd one out. So here are a few tips for omnis on how to be the best host when serving a mixed crowd.
1. Avoid conditional invitations I recently endured the most uncomfortable birthday party invite of my life, and I suddenly realized that my vegan diet literally scares some people. Instead of “Hey, my mom is throwing a birthday dinner for me and I’d like you to come,” my friend said, “My mom is having a birthday dinner for me and there won’t be any vegan food.” …OK? My friend tiptoed around my dietary restrictions and ended up uninviting me to his party before I was officially invited! All directly to my face! SO AWKWARD! Don’t do this!
The point of sharing this mildly embarrassing exchange is to remind you that you are inviting your friend to your party, not their dietary restrictions. Vegans are still people, so invite us as you would anyone else!
2. Be a good host This is a direct tip from my mom, the hostess of all hostesses. My mom is a red-blooded Italian woman who loves to host dinners and serve lots of different types of meats to her guests. It broke her heart when I came out to her as vegan, but she eventually stopped trying to sneak cottage cheese into every meal (for “protein”) and supported my decision.
When I told my mom I was writing this article, she said, “Well, it’s not so much about being vegan as it is being a good host. When you invite people into your home to eat, it’s your job to ask if they have any dietary restrictions, allergies or preferences.” With that, she told me that she always asks ahead of time, and does her research. If you don’t understand what vegans eat, find out before planning your menu. Either ask your guest directly, or if you’re too shy, a simple Google search can help you with definitions and such.
Stick with the guidelines, too. Vegans have different levels of gastrointolerance to certain foods (such as dairy or meat), because your body adjusts to the diet it’s actively fed. With that being said, you may think we won’t notice a dab of butter or a splash of chicken stock, but we will. Oh, we will.
3. Look at it as an opportunity, not a challenge You’ve made it through the first step and officially invited a few vegan buddies to your mostly omni party. Good for you! Here’s the next step: planning your menu. In this task, you have to accommodate your guests. Come up with something that everyone can enjoy, and get excited about trying a new recipe or two. This is an opportunity for you to learn a new skill, and to put a proverbial feather in your chef hat for future dinner parties. If you’re really intimidated by the prospect of cooking a vegan-friendly meal, ask your guests to help you. Ask for advice, ask for recipe suggestions, or ask them to bring something, such as an appetizer or dessert (but if you do this, make sure you offer other things for them to eat. As good as eating cake for dinner sounds, we need more than that).
4. Make it easy on yourself and your guests Don’t worry about what you’re going to feed those damn vegans that you invited. Instead, remember that you’re inviting people over to eat, so it’s important to make sure that everyone can eat. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been to a dinner party where I could only eat the bread, because even the salad had cheese on it (seriously, Caesar salad? Why do you need to put cheese on lettuce?). Avoid making a big meaty dinner, because that will alienate your non-meaty guests. If you’re stuck on serving meat, try making a vegan entrée with omni sides. It will be less awkward for your guests, and less work for you in the long run.
If you’re worried that your omni guests will complain about having a vegan entrée, well screw them, it’s your house. Kidding! Avoid that situation altogether by providing a “make it yourself” meal. Try having everyone add their choice of toppings to individual pizzas, or have a pasta bar with different mix-ins. Or tacos! Everyone loves tacos! This eliminates any uncomfortable feelings from both your vegan guests and your omni pals, and minimizes your work as the chef. Win-win-win!
5. Avoid awkward situations Sometimes, people are so intrigued by the vegan lifestyle that they ask endless amounts of questions. That’s totally fine, but it’s not the only thing we want to talk about. It can be alienating, or really intrusive, neither of which you want to experience when at a party. As the host, it’s your job to make sure your vegan guests aren’t the entertainment for the evening.
Set the stage by treating your vegan buddies like all the other guests. We don’t want to be a spectacle, and we don’t want special treatment. Avoid saying things like “Here’s your super-special, one-of-a-kind VEGAN DISH that I made just for you and no one else!” If you do this, I guarantee that someone will comment on how “My cousin used to be vegetarian but gave it up for health reasons” or “I eat vegetarian most of the time, but oh heck, I just love me some cheese!” I’m pretty sure I can speak for most vegans when I say that we hate these conversations. Your guests didn’t come to your party to defend themselves, they came to eat the delicious food you prepared.
If you’re hosting a self-service meal like I suggested previously (yay, take my suggestion!), label everything, but be discreet. Use a universal sign, like a little “v” in the corner of your label. This will prevent embarrassment when you walk your vegan guests past each dish and proclaim loudly “This is VEGAN, oh and this is VEGAN TOO! Oh, that has cheese in it, but you can eat this hummus” (OH THANKS, MOM)!
Whether it’s your first or 50th time hosting a semi-vegan crowd, remember that you’re throwing this party to have fun, and if your guests are anything like me, they will not be fun with an empty stomach.
Have you considered being vegan? Are you unsure of how to get started? Well I’m here to help! Here are 11 of my personal tips for new vegans.
Before we get this party started, I’ll just say I’m vegan because I want to do as little harm to animals as possible. The environment and health are great reasons to go vegan but I am vegan because of the animals and that’s what my opinions and ideas will reflect. If you want to learn more about which vegan foods are best for the environment or what’s the healthiest way to be vegan, there are lots of great resources. This probably isn’t one of them.
1. Play the game! You have to have a good attitude if you want to be a happy vegan like me. I don’t think being vegan has to be this big hardship—it’s fun to be vegan! It’s like a big problem-solving game! When you’re an omnivore, you can eat anything—what kind of game is that? That’s like playing with blocks when we all know Tetris is more fun! When you’re vegan, you’ve got to figure stuff out and find the best way to win. Are you at a super un-vegan restaurant? Hack their menu to find vegan food! On a road trip? Hunt down the best vegan restaurant in the city! Love mac and cheese? Hold your own vegan mac and cheese recipe contest! When you’re vegan, a simple trip to get ice cream is a fun adventure.
2. Think about what you like to eat! I read once that people basically have 11 staple meals they rotate between. For me, it’s about three. I like avocado maki, english muffins, and burritos. So, to start yourself off, think of several meals you like that are or can be made vegan. You like spaghetti? That’s one dinner right there! Make a list of these things and keep writing them down as you think of them. Once you see all the stuff you CAN eat, instead of just what you can’t, you will feel capable of success!
3. Learn what’s vegan! A lot of food you already like is vegan! Peta has a great resource, Accidentally Vegan, that tells you all the regular old food that just happens to be vegan. There’s junk food but there’s also the likes of Cheerios and Triscuits. You will find that some of the stuff you really enjoy is accidentally vegan. What do I like? I’m glad you asked! Some of my favorites: Nature Valley peanut butter granola bars, Wheat Thins, Corn Chex, Bisquick. Look on that site and jot down the stuff you like on your food list from tip number two!
4. Get to shopping! Go to the grocery store. Bring your list. Buy that stuff! Your best defense from “slip-ups” is to be prepared! You need food for meals and food for snacks. Get all the ingredients for all the many meals you like and get ready-to-eat snack items too! People act crazy when they are hungry. If you have vegan food around that you like, you won’t be so tempted to fall off the wagon when you are hunger-crazed.
5. Read ingredients! While you’re shopping, make sure you read labels for non-vegan ingredients. Easy cheat: most products now have a bolded part at the bottom of the ingredients that lists any allergens—that includes dairy! If I see dairy in this bolded line, I throw the food back on the shelf; if I don’t, then I scan the rest of the ingredients to double-check it’s vegan. You will get the hang of this! It’s not so hard! It’s also pretty exciting when you find something that is accidentally vegan. Oh, watch out for whey! They add it to the oddest things! Other things to look for beyond the obvious milk, eggs, butter: casein, rennet, and carmine. But don’t overwhelm yourself! Start watching out for these ingredients and work your way up to more esoteric non-vegan ingredients down the line. Really, whey is usually the most exotic offender you will find. Besides, lots of times the packaging will just be like, “MILK FAT” and you will be like, “EW, moving on.” Easy.
6. Don’t forget about fruit! Fruit RULES. When we think of vegan food, sometimes we think about a bunch of veggies and grains—but don’t forget about fruit! I always have bananas, apples, grapes, and clementines around. Fruit brings back the simple joys of childhood! Fruit makes people happy! Plus, most fruit is good to go. No cooking, no fuss. Easy.
7. Learn to cook! If you can cook, any vegan dream can come true! The best way to learn to cook is just to try recipes. I happen to be a fantastical cook and it’s just because I used to hustle threw cookbook after cookbook as a kid. If you already know your way around the kitchen, you have a headstart—now you can use new recipes to learn your way around the vegan kitchen! Vegweb has a ton of recipes and really, there are recipes all over the internet! Vegan bakers be blogging! Shit, even Vegansaurus has recipes! Besides that, there are SO MANY amazing cookbooks. Go to the store, pick out a few. Or don’t go to the bookstore—as soon as you become vegan, all your relatives will probably start giving you vegan cookbooks for every holiday. You’ll be set! I got Veganomicon as a gift and it’s great. Usually I go for cookbooks with BIG PICTURES. That’s pretty much how I decide what I want to cook: whatever looks pretty.
8. Don’t be so center-centered! When you eat meat and crap, there’s so much focus on some giant protein-heavy center of the meal you’re supposed to have. Screw that! Sure, vegan lasagna is great when you can get it, but you don’t need some big main dish to have a meal. Eat some steamed broccoli with some couscous and bean pilaf. Hell, throw in some french fries for good measure! This is 2011, not 1950: you can do whatever you want! You don’t have to be square.
9. Remember why you’re vegan! This is just in case of emergency! Anytime I feel down about being vegan, nothing snaps me out of it more than watching those super-awful undercover factory farm videos. Seriously. Really miss M&Ms? Watch a baby calf at a dairy farm being held down and punched in the face and see if M&Ms still seem important. Plus, you’re in good company because not only are we rad (we are very rad), the best fools on earth (dead or alive) are vegan. Hello, Coretta Scott King, Brian Greene, and Ellen Degeneres! All awesome, all vegan. BAM!
10. Get a posse! Join listservs (do those still exist?? I don’t know, I’m not a nerd and already have plenty of friends, OK?), Yahoo groups, meet-ups, comment on local blogs, post on Craigslist, whatever it takes! I was reading Vegansaurus long before I was writing for it and it helped me out a lot when I first got to SF. Most cities have vegan groups to join or blogs where you can meet friends. And find community in the forums on sites like VegWeb and the PPK. There’s power in numbers, and they always have your back. Unless you’re in a fight about what’s the best vegan cheese and then shit can get really real, real fast. Don’t cut the omnis out of your life (besides who are the next vegans if not those same omnis?) but it’s always nice to be able to turn to other vegans when you need a hug. Except me, I’m not into touching strangers!
11. Get to stepping! Go out and find all the great vegan stuff the world has to offer! Is there a vegan bakery near you? Go get a cupcake! Is it your birthday? Go to the finest vegan restaurant in town! Look on sites like Food Fight Grocery and order whatever crazy vegan stuff you can’t find in your hood! It’s a big vegan world out there, dive in.
Seriously, being vegan is the raddest best. It feels so good to know that you’re not contributing to the torture of poor adorable animals. Now give yourself a hug! Hell, feel yourself up! Because you did it! And you will continue to do it! One vegan day at a time.
Who loves you? The Atlantic loves you! Proof: A collection of sexxxy pictures of vegetables ‘n’ stuff, plus accompanying recipes, called “13 Ways to Impress a Vegan.” Because now that it’s clear we’re the future (it is definitely clear we are the future), everyone wants to get in our pants.
So what this shiz is, you join and they send out a daily group coupon (GROUPON, GET IT?). If enough people buy in, you get an awesome deal. For example, today in SF, they have one for a place that has VEGAN PIZZA. You buy a $20 gift certificate for $10! SCORE. Never ate there so can’t confirm on the deliciousness of the pizza, but that’s rad.