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After a 7 month hiatus from this blog, I wonder: is anyone still out there?  Anyone waiting for me to post?  I bet you are just beside yourself with curiosity about where I’ve been.  Answer: first I was trying to get a new job, then I got a new job, and now I’m BUSY as heck.  The truth of the matter is that while I was in the midst of my job search, I felt the need to make this blog private.  I didn’t want potential employers to be able to find it and not hire me on the basis of my ethics as they pertain to food.  And yes, I realize that sounds strange because you’d think any employer would appreciate someone with such strong ethics, but that’s not exactly how things always work in the conservative finance industry.  Sigh.

At any rate, I wanted to discuss veganism in the work place a bit.  I wish I were lucky enough to be able to work somewhere where being vegan was the norm.  Or at least where telling someone you were vegan didn’t result in very shocked stares and a million questions about how it is even possible to not eat animal products.  I had been at my last job for 7.5 years, during which I made the transition from meat-loving omnivore to vegetarian to vegan.  My bosses thought I was a little nutty, and one of them asked me every day if I was having tofu for lunch.  Because that’s all vegans eat, you know.

Coming to this new job, I am interacting with a much larger group of people.  Of the other 24 people in my department not one of them is even vegetarian, much less vegan.  This presents both an opportunity for education and sometimes awkwardness.  I’m probably not making the situation any better by having an 8×10 framed picture of a rooster in my office – this picture to be exact:

Roscoe the Rooster, Kindred Spirits Sanctuary

This was a Valentine’s Day gift from my boyfriend.  I took this picture when I was visiting Kindred Spirits Sanctuary and he thought it was so great he framed it and said I should bring it to work.  This is the largest picture I have in my office.  It prompts a fair number of questions and/or reactions.

One man said “you like chickens?”.  I said “yeah, I do.”  He replied, “oh you should have grown up on my farm then. We had 400 of them.  Slaughtered them ourselves!”  Um….not exactly what I meant when I said I like chickens.

Other than that, so far no one has really been insensitive.  They’ve mostly just been sort of curious or confused.  I’m okay with that. I don’t mind being the “weirdo”, and I figure as they get to know me, they maybe won’t think being vegan is so strange after all (that’s the goal anyway).  I don’t expect anyone to convert or anything, but it’s kind of nice to be able to show them that being vegan isn’t some big sacrifice or something.

I’d be interested in hearing about other people’s experiences in the work place.  Is your work place vegan friendly?  Are you the only vegan?  If so, how do you handle that?

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At the end of April I went to Hawaii with my boyfriend and my family. We had such an amazing time, and I have meant to post some pictures ever since!  Now it’s JUNE and here I am finally doing it.  Anyway, there are still some wild chickens in Hawaii, and I snapped a few photos of them.  The first one of the hen with her chicks is my favorite–could they BE any CUTER??:

Wild hen & her babies in Haleiwa

Wild hen & her babies in Haleiwa

A gorgeous rooster in Haleiwa

A gorgeous rooster in Haleiwa

As for food, I was glad I did my research on where to find vegan food on Oahu. If I hadn’t, I would have missed out on one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Oh. my. gosh.  The last day we were there, we drove around Honolulu trying to find this hole in the wall deli called the Wellbento. I am SO glad we did, because this Cajun BBQ tempeh served with roasted root vegetables, rice & gravy, and vegan macaroni salad & coleslaw was seriously a major highlight of my trip. Forget all the beaches, bring on the tempeh! 🙂  It was ridiculously good, and I’ve since tried to recreate the tempeh with some success, though mine’s not nearly as good as theirs.  If you ever go to Honolulu (or if you live there), you HAVE to seek this place out!

Cajun BBQ tempeh with root vegetables from Wellbento in Honolulu

Cajun BBQ tempeh with root vegetables from Wellbento in Honolulu

Also, if you are a sushi fan, check out Banzai Sushi Bar in Haleiwa on the north shore. It had a few different veggie sushi options, which you could order without seaweed! This sushi was wrapped with soy paper. I can’t stand seaweed, so this was much better! I’m still not a huge sushi fan, but this was much better than a lot of other sushi I’ve had!  And it’s pretty to boot!

Veggie sushi from Banzai Sushi bar in Haleiwa

Veggie sushi from Banzai Sushi bar in Haleiwa

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Egg laying hens are arguably the most abused animals on today’s factory farms.  More often than not, they are confined so tightly to wire cages that they cannot stretch their wings, clean themselves, turn around, or exhibit any of their normal behaviors at all.  They are subjected to toxic fumes from the pools of waste that lie beneath them, and they are roughly handled by factory workers.

There have been countless investigations of egg farms conducted by animals rights groups in the United States, and each time we see the same things: dead hens in cages with live ones, birds who have lost their feathers from stress, and egregious abuse of these beautiful birds by farm workers.

Mercy for Animals recently conducted such an investigation of “Quality Eggs of New England” in Turner, Maine, and what they found is both disgusting and unconscionable, and yet, sadly, it’s not all that unusual:

  • Rotting carcasses in cages with live hens still laying eggs for human consumption.
  • Workers and managers killing birds by grabbing their necks and swinging them around in circles – an attempt to break their necks which often resulted in prolonged, torturous deaths for the hens.
  • Supervisors and workers throwing live birds into trash cans, leaving them to be slowly crushed under the weight of other birds’ corpses and unable to access food or water.
  • Birds suffering from broken bones, bloody open wounds, and untreated infections.
  • Hens confined four to six in tiny wire cages so small they were unable to stretch their wings, move freely or engage in other basic behaviors.
  • Birds trapped in the wire of their cages or under the feeding trays without access to food or water, some with body parts, including their faces, pressed against moving conveyor belts.
  • Management and workers callously kicking live hens into manure pits where they either drowned in liquid feces or likely died slow and painful deaths from illness, injury or starvation.
Discarded Hens at "Quality Eggs of New England"

Discarded Hens at "Quality Eggs of New England"

And as these atrocities came to light, we got the same canned response from the farm owners and managers:

“Bob LeClerc, the compliance manager for Maine Contract Farming, declined to talk on tape.  But in a written statement he says that the company strives to provide good care for its hens and quality eggs for consumers under the scientific standards of the United Egg Producers Certified Program.  LeClerc’s statement says violations of those standards or animal welfare standards will not be tolerated and if employees are found to have violated them, their employment will be terminated.”

“Violations of…animal welfare standards will not be tolerated…“, and yet when the MFA worker complained to management about live hens being thrown into trash bins to die slowly, the farm owner’s son, Jay Decoster, told him that he shouldn’t worry about it and that “They all count as dead if they’re in a trash can.’ To me that kind of sounds like not only was it  tolerated, but it was the standard “They all count as dead if they’re in a trash can.” WHO SAYS THAT?  A sick, sick person, that’s who.  I wonder if he’d say the same thing if it were a bunch of sick puppies in that trash can?

I’m tired of the excuses – the whole “our farm has strict standards, and we care for our animals, and we would never tolerate these kinds of behaviors” – when really you know that they know perfectly well what’s happening in their barns.  THEY DO.  And people who tell themselves that it’s an isolated incident simply so they can feel okay eating eggs are deluding themselves, plain and simple. This is the standard, not the exception – period.

The last thing I want to point out is that Maine’s law does not specify how many hens may be kept in a cage, nor does it specify how chickens should be humanely euthanized.  I am concerned that because of that, these people will never face the consequences of their actions.  Then again, I’m no lawyer – hopefully this will at least bring some changes to the law.  I’d like to think that no one could possibly argue that throwing live hens away constitutes any kind of humanity, but then again, the state of Ohio deemed that the Wiles Hog Farm was euthanizing pigs “humanely” by HANGING THEM.  So I don’t have a whole lot of faith that the Decosters are really going to be punished appropriately.

Am I getting too cynical?

At any rate, kudos to Mercy for Animals for doing this investigation and bringing it to light. I sincerely hope something good comes out of it – whether that means more people give up eggs, or laws change – I’ll take whatever we can get!

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This video just melts my heart.  It is a great example of how loving and selfless non-human animals can be.  The whole idea that so many people hold that says somehow humans have a monopoly on emotions kind of gets tossed out the window when you see something like this.  We could all learn a little something from this Hero Dog!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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A great PSA illustrating the importance of spaying & neutering your pets!

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Ever since I published a blog post about how eating animals that someone else has slaughtered for you is like hiring a hit-man, I have gotten a lot of traffic from people who have done searches on “hit-man” and “hiring a hit-man”…. You’ll notice that it’s still my top post if you look in the right hand column under “TOP POSTS”.

Um, for those of you trying to put out a hit on someone, sorry, guys – wrong page.  I wouldn’t know how to go about hiring a hit-man even if I wanted to, so I’m not the person who can help you there (I don’t care who told you otherwise!).

But I do have 2 other pieces of advice for you:

  • I am thinking that googling “hire a hit-man” is going to come back to haunt you at some point if you are actually successful. Just a thought.
  • Is now a good time to suggest you think about going vegan?  Totally. You should.

Okay, that’s all, I guess.  I’d say good luck, but that just seems kind of wrong…

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