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Archive for January, 2009

A while back PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) offered $1 million to any company or person who could come up with a cost effective way to produce cloned meat on a large scale, the goal being that people could still satisfy their meat cravings, but that animals wouldn’t have to be slaughtered for that purpose.

Well, it looks like we’re getting closer and closer to being able to produce “meat with no feet”.  “The Washington D.C. research firm New Harvest is just one group developing the technology to actually clone meat cells without the need, expense, or health concerns of raising entire legions of beasts to slaughter.” If we could produce cloned meat in controlled environments, it could mean amazing things for our environment, human health, and for the animals that people currently eat.   In this country alone, we raise about 10 billion animals each year for food.  Those 10 billion animals have a profound effect on the environment during their lives, but that could all be avoided with cloned meat.  More importantly, those animals suffer greatly during their short lives, only to end up at a slaughter house where they will be killed for food.  They experience pain and fear just like you and I would, and they want to live just as much as we do. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could?  I mean, I’d prefer if humans just stopped eating animals out of their own morality, but second best would be if they ate meat that didn’t come from a tormented soul, but rather from a petri dish!

So, would I eat meat with no feet? Would other vegans and vegetarians?  If I knew that the meat was humane and safe, I wouldn’t have a problem with it ethically at all.  The thing is, I think I’ve lost my taste for meat now. I know I have, actually.  So I’m not sure I’d go back to eating it even if I knew no one had to die to produce it, but that’s mostly just out of personal preference now — I wouldn’t have a problem with anyone else eating it.

What do think? Is it too weird?  Would you support this research?  If you are vegan or vegetarian, would you want to eat this meat? If you’re an omnivore, would you make the switch?

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vegan_lasagnaI typically don’t make up recipes.   I have gotten to be a pretty good little chef, if I do say so myself, but I almost always use someone else’s recipe and follow it mighty closely too.  But do you know what I’ve been missing lately?  Lasagna.  I wanted a good old-fashioned lasagna like my mom used to make…except I didn’t want to eat all the cheese & beef she puts in hers. The only problem is that every time I tried to find a vegan lasagna recipe, it had neither a meat substitute, nor a cheese substitute.  That’s not lasagna to me, people!  So, I made something up, and I have to say it turned out even better than I expected.   I thought I’d share it, just in case anyone else out there might enjoy it!

VEGAN LASAGNA

This recipe makes an 8×8 pan of lasagna or ~ 9 servings

Ingredients
Lasagna noodles – about half a box
Half of a small yellow onion
1 small green pepper
2 Tbsp Safflower oil for sauteing
1 26 oz jar of marinara sauce (store bought, your choice)
2 Field Roast Italian flavored links
1 block of mozzarella cheese substitute, shredded (I prefer Veganrella) (NOTE:  We didn’t use the whole block for the lasagna, but rather made some garlic-cheese bread with some of it. You can use as little or as much as you want in the actual lasagna.)
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
4-6 large basil leaves
HALF recipe of Veganomicon’s cashew ricotta recipe (p. 206)


Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees (F).
  2. Boil your lasagna noodles.   Be sure to add a little oil so they don’t stick together when cooked.  (When fully cooked, set them aside to cool a bit.)
  3. While noodles are boiling, dice half of the onion and saute in the safflower oil.  Dice up the green pepper and add that to the onions after they have cooked for a few minutes.
  4. Get out your food processor – you’re going to need it!  Throw spinach and basil leaves into food processor and pulse a few times – no need to puree it, just chop it up a little bit and mix together. Set aside spinach & basil mixture.
  5. Cut field roast sausages into quarters & put the pieces in the food processor.  Grind that up until it looks like burger crumbles. (You could probably use Boca’s pre-made burger crumbles, but I liked the taste of the Italian flavoring in the Field Roast brand.)
  6. Add sausage crumbles to the onion & peppers, and add about 1/3 jar of the marinara to this mixture.  Saute a bit longer to heat up the field roast & marinara.
  7. Make the cashew ricotta in your food processor. This probably takes the most amount of time, but it is worth it. This adds SO much to the recipe. I just loved it. Anyway, I have to admit also that I used a little less tofu than they suggested, and it came out great.
  8. Now it’s time to layer!!  Get your first layer of pasta down in your pan.  Next, add about half of the field roast/onion/pepper/marinara mixture.  If it looks dry, add more of the marinara.  Before your next layer of noodles, put about 1/3 of the veganrella down.
  9. Add the second layer of lasagna noodles.  Next is the cashew ricotta layer (use all of it).  Add the spinach & basil mixture and some more marinara.
  10. Third layer of lasagna goes down. On top of this, add the rest of the field roast mixture, and a little more veganrella and/or marinara if you want.
  11. Last layer of noodles – top with the remaining marinara & veganrella.
  12. Cover with tinfoil & bake for about 20 minutes.
  13. Remove tinfoil & bake for another 10 minutes so that the cheese on top melts.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes or so before serving – and ENJOY!

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This is probably one of the cutest stories about animals I’ve seen in a while, and what animal advocate couldn’t use a good pick-me-up every now and then, right??

It is a story about a very unlikely couple: Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog. They found each other at Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Each showed up all alone, but soon found comfort in the other’s presence. They know they’re not the same species, but it doesn’t seem to bother them at all–they’re friends through and through.

When people try to argue that non-human animals are mindless dolts (which, to be fair, isn’t often argued about dogs, but still…), I like to point to stories like this, which to me so clearly illustrates how complex and emotional non-human animals really are:

Tarra and Bella have been close for years — but no one really knew how close they were until recently. A few months ago Bella suffered a spinal cord injury. She couldn’t move her legs, couldn’t even wag her tail.

For three weeks the dog lay motionless up in the sanctuary office. And for three weeks the elephant held vigil: 2,700 acres to roam free, and Tarra just stood in the corner, beside a gate, right outside that sanctuary office.

“She just stood outside the balcony – just stood there and waited,” says Buckley. “She was concerned about her friend.”

Watch the video – totally worth your time, I promise – to see the full story, including watching Tarra’s giant foot pet Bella’s furry belly!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “On Elephant Sanctuary, Unlikely Frien…“, posted with vodpod

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At the moment our human world is based on the suffering and destruction of millions of non-humans. To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion. Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society.
~Arthur Conan Doyle

This quote kind of says it all, but because I’m a loud mouth, I’ll happily add my own two cents to it!

People often ask me why I made the decision to go vegan.   I can point to certain events leading up to that moment that are helpful in explaining how I got here, but at the same time, when I really think about it, it’s almost as if it wasn’t a choice at all. Of course I wasn’t forced to be vegan – that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that it was almost like I had been asleep before and suddenly I woke up and saw the cruelty and suffering around me; being vegan seemed like something I simply had to do. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had been contributing to animal suffering for 26+ years. I couldn’t look the other way anymore and continue to act as though I hadn’t just had a complete change in perception.

One of my favorite parts of Doyle’s comment is when he states that “nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again”. We all experience awakenings throughout our lives, whether it’s because we fall in love or get our hearts broken, find religion, have children or any number of other major life events. These things change us permanently and profoundly–just as my awakening changed me. You see, I had always considered myself to be an animal lover, and yet I ate some animal or animal product every single day. What I really was was a dog and cat lover. Then, somehow I opened up my eyes to the beauty and wonder of all non-human animals; I forced myself to imagine the pain and suffering that farmed animals must experience every single day on factory farms, how excruciating each day must be for them… For me, it was virtually impossible not to have a complete change in perception.

I believe that most humans have the capacity to connect with non-human animals, but that we are discouraged from doing so from a very young age. We are taught that dogs and cats are companions, and cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, turkeys, etc. are for eating and/or using in some other way.  It isn’t always easy and it can be scary (as change often is), but if you can open your heart up to the joy and beauty of other non-human animals, you will realize that they are not here to serve human purposes, and they most certainly are not here to endure senseless pain and cruelty only to be brutally killed for our dinner. They are here for their own reasons: to play in wide open pastures, to forage for food to nourish their own bodies, to create and nurture their families, and just to enjoy life. Who are we to take that from them?

My hope is that more people will allow themselves to see animals for the amazing individuals that they are; that more people will have their very own vegan awakening.

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Designer Karl Lagerfeld recently attempted to defend his use of fur in his clothing lines.  What was his brilliant argument, you might be wondering?  “In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish” and that hunters are only “killing those beasts who would kill us if they could.”  Um….because bunnies and minks are violent human killers!  VIOLENT, I tell you!  I mean, look at these things:

I, for one, am terrified just looking at this picture.  Those eyes are saying “I’m gonna eat you, human!”

Oh wait a minute, they’re not??  Weird. Because if Karl Lagerfeld, an animal behavior expert idiot, says they would, then surely they would, right??

This argument is one of the most irritating I hear from people who try to justify eating, wearing or hunting animals.  The animals we use for our own purposes are generally the most docile animals there are – not to mention the fact that the majority of them don’t even eat meat themselves (rabbits, deer, cows, for example).  Those who do only do so for survival, whereas humans (in general) can easily survive without using animals for food or clothing.

And newsflash to Mr. Lagerfeld: most fur these days isn’t hunted – it’s raised in factory fur farms where the animals (often dogs and cats) are skinned alive.  Maybe he should watch this video so he can see where the fur he’s using actually comes from (note: the video is very disturbing).

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First of all, Happy New Year!   My apologies for being such a terrible blogger as of late. I went on vacation and then the holidays hit and I got lazy, what can I say?!  I’ve definitely had some things to blog about though, so here we go:

Over Christmas I went home to my family’s farm in North Dakota.  I usually bring some food along when I know I’ll be there for that long (5 days), but this time I didn’t bring much because I had been sick and didn’t do the greatest job of preparing for the trip.  I figured I’d be able to find something to eat, even if it wasn’t ideal.

One night in particular I decided to make some black bean tacos.  I made enough for my parents to eat as well, because I think cooking good vegan food for people is one of the best ways to show them what veganism is all about – that we still eat great food, it just doesn’t have animal products in it.  Anyway, I cooked this meal but ended up eating alone – in this case, mostly just because my parents weren’t hungry.  But over the holidays I felt sort of left out whenever we sat down to eat.  I had my own “special” food, which was nice and all, but I couldn’t participate in the food traditions I grew up with, and it sort of made me feel isolated.  Sure, I was still there celebrating with my family, but it just wasn’t the same.  It made me realize how lonely it can feel sometimes to be vegan.

Lonely or not, though, I wouldn’t change my decision.  I don’t WANT to eat our traditional foods anymore: creamed corn, smoked sheep meat, beef meatballs, buttered potatoes, etc.  They make me nostalgic on the one hand, but basically just gross me out on the other.

I don’t have any major insight on this, really, I just was thinking about how even though being vegan can feel isolating or lonely sometimes, I still know it’s the right thing for me to do.  I guess that’s why they say doing the right thing is rarely the easy thing.  Plus, on the flip side of that loneliness is the fact that I’ve met a lot of really great, fun people because of my veganism. The community I’ve built here is great and feels anything but lonely!

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