More than 65,000,000,000 land animals are killed worldwide to produce the meat, eggs and dairy people consume and many more aquatic animals (not recorded as numbers but as pounds). The single greatest thing you can do to reduce your contribution to cruelty, suffering and environmental destruction in the world is to stop eating animals and animal products. It has never been easier or more accessible. Please join us on Vegan Street for support and inspiration every day of the year!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Want to get more cooking ideas? Simply go on YouTube and type in "vegan cooking videos." You will find over a million videos, featuring everything from raw foods and gluten-free options to comfort foods and ethnic dishes. It couldn't be easier!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
If I had been born a turkey, an incubator would have been my source of warmth before I’d been born.
If I had been born a turkey, I would have vocalized for my mother while still in my egg but not heard her voice in response.
If I had been born a turkey, after pecking my way out of my shell, I would have been in an artificial, industrial setting.
If I had been born a turkey, I would have never known my mother and the comfort of her wings around me as I slept.
If I had been born a turkey, I’d have never felt the sun on my feathers or the dirt between my toes.
If I had been born a turkey, part of my beak would have been seared off without anesthesia with a hot blade. My toes, too.
If I had been born a turkey, I would have been genetically programmed to grow so big, so fast, I couldn’t fly like my wild cousins.
If I’d have been born a turkey, I would have likely had a heart attack or organ failure by six months of age.
If I had been born a turkey, I wouldn’t have lived that long, though.
If I had been born a turkey, I would have been crammed together with thousands of others in a giant shed.
If I had been born a turkey and a female, I would have been roughly inseminated by hypodermic syringe. If I had been born a turkey and a male, my semen would be removed by a “phallus manipulating team.”
If I had been born a breeding turkey, my eggs would be taken from me.
If I had been born a breeding turkey, my chicks wouldn’t have heard my calls, just as I couldn’t hear my own mother.
If I had been born a turkey, I would be kicked by hard boots to get out of the way.
If I had been born a turkey, my brittle skeleton would strain and struggle under my weight.
If I had been born a turkey, my eyes would burn from the ammonia from all the concentrated waste around me.
If I had been born a turkey, my legs would have been grabbed by quick hands and I’d be tossed into a crate in a truck.
If I had been born a turkey, sitting in a crate on a crowded truck would present my first and last opportunity to breathe fresh air.
If I had been born a turkey, when I got to my destination, I would be hung upside-down by my ulcerated feet in shackles and sent down a metal rack.
If I had been born a turkey, I would likely be electric shocked and/or stunned and have my jugular vein slit.
If I had been born a turkey, I would have lived and died this way.
If I had been born a turkey, I would have had no legal protection.
If I had been born a turkey, my organs would be removed and stuffing would be inserted into the cavity.
If I had been born a turkey, millions would say grace over my corpse at Thanksgiving.
But I wasn’t born a turkey.
I wasn’t born a turkey, so I can decide to not participate and if you are reading this, you weren’t born a turkey, either, so you can decide, too. Be grateful for this. I am.
Turkeys are majestic, inquisitive, affectionate creatures if given half a chance to thrive; forcing them into not only becoming meat machines but into the disabled and chronically suffering birds is the ultimate brutality we inflict upon them. For what? So we can maintain our traditions and temporary pleasures. Was there ever a more empty justification for cruelty?
The beauty of living today is that we can stop. We can not only opt out of violence but opt into abundance and the joy that comes from living in harmony with our core values. What an amazing gift. I will not trade this exquisite opportunity for an ingrained custom or fleeting pleasure; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When we can help people understand that the profound gratification that comes from self-alignment is far more delicious, tantalizing and worthwhile than anything that can be consumed, digested and forgotten, we will be there.
This is no sacrifice. This is no hardship. This is joy and abundance. We can decide today to not intentionally harm them or any other beings. This Thanksgiving and every day of the year, I am grateful for that. I was born a person who can decide for myself and I have decided to celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving every day without harming another. I give sincere thanks for this.
Please remember that this is speaking to the 96% of turkeys in the U.S. who are born into concentrated feeding operations. If you think that this doesn’t apply to the "free-range" turkey you purchased, please check out this article and remember that no matter the treatment before the birds are needlessly killed, they are still needlessly killed and that is not reconcilable with compassionate living.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Organize a potluck! Especially during the winter months, people can feel isolated and needing more personal contact. Using Facebook, why not organize a festive vegan potluck in your community? Try to find another friend or two to help with the details, find a location, and then start inviting people. Potlucks are a great chance to socialize while enjoying a great meal.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Many people are overwhelmed with cooking for the week as it is and feel utterly lost trying to figure out what to eat as vegans. Here is what I suggest to everyone: write a weekly menu. Go through your cookbooks, look online, or just plain brainstorm ideas. While you're writing the menu, you can also make your grocery list. It's efficient, it can save money (especially if you don't allow yourself any impulse purchases off your list) and it can be a healthier way to live when you plan what to eat. Simplify: make a weekly menu!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Sadly, many cosmetics, personal care products and household cleaners still contain animal ingredients or were tested on animals. Please check out Leaping Bunny for up-to-date information on cruelty-free products and companies. In addition to the information on the website, you can also download the app for convenience when shopping. Also, check out The Vegan Peach for completely vegan referrals.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Just because you're vegan, it doesn't mean that you have to miss out on the wine and spirits. While many alcoholic drinks are filtered using isinglass (from fish bladder,) gelatin, egg whites, and sea shells, among other things, avoiding them is easy. Check out Barnivore for lots of up-to-date listings. Cheers!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Craft your vegan elevator "pitch." This way if someone asks you why you are vegan, you won't need to feel put on the spot or stumble through a long explanation. How can you explain succinctly why you are vegan? Saying something like, "I try to live without harming others and today, being vegan is easier and more accessible than ever," is one approach. What is your compelling but succinct explanation for why you are vegan? Be sure to let the person who asked know that you are also more than happy to discuss the reasons behind your veganism at greater length and detail, too.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Soups! Especially this time of year, soups are a nourishing way to fill ourselves up with a delicious and enriching meal. For creamy soups, try coconut milk, pureed potatoes or cashew cream; for vegetable soups, make or use a vegetable stock and fill it with all kinds of goodies. Soups are also great to improvise: add pasta, frozen peas or corn, rice or barley, sauteed vegetables, beans, fresh herbs, tempeh "croutons" and more. Sometimes a good bowl of soup is the very best thing in the world!
“Turkey Talk-line. This is Lucy. How may I help you?”
“Oh, hi, Lucy. This is Butterball hotline, right?”
“Yes. How may I help you?”
“So my understanding is that you help people with questions they have about turkeys?”
“That is what we do. Do you have a question, ma’am?”
“Well, yes, I do. I was wondering...I’m afraid that this is going to sound strange.”
(Laughs.) “Go ahead. You’d be surprised. I get lots of questions.”
“I’m sure you do. This is it: I was wondering how the turkeys lived.”
“I’m sorry -- how they lived?”
“Yes, I mean, what kind of lives they lived.”
“Yes, the turkeys. This is the turkey hotline, right?”
“I’m sorry. Your question? I - I’m not sure -?”
“See, I’m wondering what kind of lives the Butterball turkeys have? Had. You know? What were their lives like?”
“I still am not understanding...”
“I mean, the quality of their lives, the turkey’s lives.”
(Pause, throat clearing...) “Well, I think they were good lives.”
“Oh, that’s nice to hear but by ‘good lives’, what do you mean?”
“Well, I do know that Butterball maintains the highest standards of care for our birds. We don’t tolerate anything less than the best care for our turkeys.”
“See, I am just wondering about that.”
“Like how is that possible that they have good lives?”
“I just read that people in the United States eat 46 million turkeys every year for Thanksgiving. Forty-six million and that’s just Thanksgiving. Butterball is pretty much synonymous with the Thanksgiving turkey so I thought you’d be the ones to ask. How can the turkeys be treated with the ‘highest standards of care’ given everything?”
“Ma’am, you are aware that this is a cooking help line, right? You might be better served by our media department. Let me transfer -”
“No, wait. I’m not from the media. I don’t want to talk to a public relations person. On your website it says, and I quote, ‘Ready and waiting, our Turkey Talk-Line experts can answer all your turkey questions - no matter how challenging.’ I don’t think I’m in the wrong place.”
“So my question is how could they have lived good lives?”
“I don’t -”
“This might fall under the category of ‘challenging’ but I have been assured that you can answer my questions.”
“Well, I know that they have good lives because I know that the standards of care are the best for Butterball birds.”
“But, see, that is what I am not understanding. How can that many turkeys be raised and slaughtered without cruelty? Do the turkeys just sort of die on their own time? I don’t think so. And then Butterball processes the corpses and people eat them, which, well, gross but...”
“I know that they get their throats slit when they’re slaughtered and that can’t exactly be gentle. And before that, the babies are separated from their mothers, they’re crammed together, they get their beaks cut, they’re artificially inseminated -”
“Ma’am, this topic doesn’t fall within my area of expertise.”
“Here’s the thing, though: I’ve met turkeys before. They are really cool birds. And on the Butterball website, again, it says that you can answer ALL turkey questions - no matter -”
“I know what it says.”
“ - how challenging. Anyway, I’ve met turkeys at sanctuaries before, and they will walk right up to you.”
“Yeah, I know! If you sit on the ground, they will walk right up to you and look you in the eye. They seem to have a lot of curiosity. Really friendly, too. They like to be petted.”
“I did not know that.”
“And, so, it’s understandable that it makes me pretty sad what we do to them and all the other animals.”
“I’m really not sure what to say. Did you have a question? I mean, one that I can answer?”
“I’m just wondering if it feels all right to you to eat turkeys knowing what we know about them. Does that seem fair?”
“These are turkeys we’re talking about. Simple creatures.”
“But even if they were, which I don’t believe is true, does that make our treatment of them justifiable?”
“I am still not sure why I am the one you want to talk to about this. I can tell you about basting, about cooking temperatures, food safety -”
“You know, for our Thanksgiving, we can chop and chop and chop and not worry about cross contamination. Isn’t that cool?”
“ - but I am really going to have to go so I can answer others‘ calls.”
“Okay, I am sorry for taking up your time. You know something so coincidental, though?”
“I’m looking at this website for a sanctuary and they have a turkey I can sponsor named Lucy. That’s your name, too, right? Isn’t that a funny coincidence?”
(Pause.) “It is. But Lucy is kind of a common name.”
“Well, yes, but I still think it’s an interesting coincidence. You know what I am going to do? I’m going to sponsor Lucy the turkey.”
“She’s so cute. It says that she was rescued after falling off a transport truck and that she loves cranberries and scratches on the back.”
“That’s funny. I love cranberries and back scratches, too.”
“Small world. So I just want you to remember that there is a beautiful turkey named Lucy out there and she is one of the few lucky ones. No one will hurt her.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“Lucy will get to live out her life with people who love her and care about her. She’ll get to eat cranberries and get all the back scratches she wants. She gets to enjoy the dirt and the sunshine.”
“I’m not sure what to say. I’m very happy to hear that.”
“Well, I hope you have a great day, Lucy.”
“You, too. Happy Thanksgiving. Oh, wait -"
"What was the name of that sanctuary? I think I want to sponsor Lucy, too.”
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Just because you're traveling, it doesn't mean you have to compromise your vegan diet or aspirations. Not only are there amazing vegan options the world over, but you can plan meals out through apps like the iPhone app, VegOut, as well as websites like HappyCow, VegDining, and a variety that are dedicated to the vegan scene in different cities. Just simple online searches with a town's name and the word "vegan" can uncover lots of options.
Monday, November 18, 2013
If you are looking for a worthy cause to donate to this holiday season, consider giving to your local animal shelter. Many do the best they can on very tight budgets and could use support. If your money is limited, contact your shelter and ask for a list of tangible items they need: you can often help out just by donating gently used towels and blankets or shampoo, brushes and nail clippers. Most important, consider giving the gift of your time. Becoming a volunteer is so rewarding: you can bathe dogs, walk them, groom and socialize dogs and cats. This time from you makes them more adoptable.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
One of the best ways to learn more about vegan living is to read books on it and one of your very best resources is the public library. From cookbooks to informative books, you can "test drive" a book without any money down by checking it out from your local library. (And then buy the ones you like because we must support the good work of our hardworking vegan authors!)
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Laugh. I'm not even kidding. Laugh whenever you can because otherwise, this stuff will rip you up inside and then not only will you be miserable, you'll be useless. Rent a movie, call your best friend, think of a funny memory...just laugh.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Instead of worrying whether cleaning products contain animal ingredients or were tested on them, why not make your own natural cleaning products? This is also a great way to save money AND reduce plastic waste. We have a number listed on our website and more all the time.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Creating a weekly menu and shopping list can take a lot of stress and guesswork out of your meals. Instead of wondering what to cook at the last minute and grabbing something to go, you will have it all figured out ahead of time, and, ideally, you will have everything you need. Not only does creating a weekly menu save you time and money, you will eat more healthfully, too, because you'll be able to see where you should be adding more vegetables.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Speak up for yourself and your needs while dining out with others. So often, vegans try so hard to be accommodating and not be a nuisance that we are expected to eat the iceberg lettuce salad without dressing or plain baked potato. If no vegan or easily adapted recipes are on a restaurant's website, call ahead and ask if anything can be made for your needs. If not, diplomatically suggest another restaurant option for your group. No one should be expected to have their needs neglected and there is a way to assert yourself without offending. If people do get offended and you've been polite, that is their problem. Stand up for yourself!
story written from a parent’s perspective about the new children’s film, Free Birds. On the surface, it was about a father’s desire for his young daughters to not complicate his family’s holiday meal by becoming so moved by the heroes of the film - which tells the story of turkeys who go back in time to the original Thanksgiving in order to end the mass slaughter of their species for the holiday - that they refuse to eat the customary roasted bird. On a deeper level, though, the piece revealed so much more. I believe the most telling material was found in the surprising candor with which the author expressed his hopes for his children to grow up as compassionately engaged, critical thinkers as long it doesn’t stretch his own comfort zone.
I understand this urge to not rock the boat, to keep things as they are. Okay, I’m lying. I really don’t get it.
An essential job of any good parent is to encourage and reinforce the best in our children, even when it is in conflict with our desire for things to remain predictable and convenient for us. When a child expresses a deepening empathy and feeling of interconnectedness, as parents, we have something to celebrate: how much of the world is a mess because we don’t care enough about one another or connect to something beyond our immediate desires? This is an endlessly interesting subject to me, the distance between our stated values and our actual habits. In films and literature, we cheer on the scrappy fighters, the ones who swim against the current, to live their truth. From Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist to Norma Rae and Harry Potter, we love these feisty characters and their messy, triumphant stories. What is it like in real life, though, when someone attempts to live their own authentic life? I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that vegans, by and large, are often treated as if we were pains in the ass. Our culture loves these inspiring story arcs as long as the heroic protagonists remain fictional and not at actual dinner tables, because otherwise, even if not a single word is exchanged, we are a reminder of this lack of integration between one’s stated values and his or her actions.
“Part of me knows that even though I am not a vegetarian, there are way more great reasons to be a vegetarian than there are to be a meat-eater. That is to say, I wish I was a vegetarian, but I lack the self-discipline. It’s certainly better for you, and it solves the ethical dilemmas eating meat poses.”
At the risk of sounding superior (yeah, I know, I waltz across that threshold daily), why would we hope for complacency when growth is possible, even when it conflicts our own preference for ease? Especially with children, how does their burgeoning awareness and sincere desire to create more good in the world not make a parent almost combust with pride? Whenever my son shows an expanded consideration of others, I have learned to act blasé so he doesn’t get scared off by my admittedly wild-eyed enthusiasm. Internally, though, I am still doing cartwheels.
This cynical notion that having ideals is one thing but adapting one’s life to them is something else is stitched throughout the piece even if it on the surface it sounds like a father’s wish for things to remain consistent and easy for him. On the surface, this sounds familiar, like a suburban father’s lament in the 1950s, sitting on his living room chair, wishing that his wife would learn fold his socks like his mother did, that his son wouldn’t grow his hair so long. Instead, though, this is a father of today acknowledging the values and benefits of compassionate living and what these convictions would say about his daughters’ ethics while still hoping against hope that it doesn’t go “that far” in his own household. Fascinatingly, the author did not attempt to offer a pretense of a noble reason for it; the father admits that he does not want his daughters to see this film because he doesn’t want the status quo of his home life to change.
Given that his conclusion is to not take his daughters to see the film, to not have them potentially influenced away from eating meat, this is very revealing material. Once again, I feel like I don’t quite get “the way things are” in this world, like I’m some chameleonic alien who can pass for a human but whose core instincts are so far removed from the species. I cannot for a moment imagine being anything less than thrilled if my son were to care deeply about another, especially in a deeply personal way where he was inspired to change his behavior so as to be more kind. I cannot imagine this being a negative.
When we raise our children to believe that their values are adorable and endearing but ultimately burdensome and naive, we impose upon them cynical notion that is as much a fallacy as it is profoundly unfair. We do the same thing to ourselves and each other when we are so frightened of change and the unknown that we limit ourselves and one another to these tiny little boxes. Why should it be like this? Compassionate living is expansive and empowering. Should we really practice our values but only to the degree that we are not bothering those around us? Is that fair to ask of someone? This is why we need to be modeling every day that we can live joyful, abundant lives as people guided by principles, that it is not at all a sacrifice, so we can help to empower those who are intimidated by the idea of change. Yes, there are growing pains when we venture outside of our comfort zone, but a life hemmed in for fear of expansion is one that is far more painful. We need to tell the world that there is nothing to be afraid of when we choose to live in alignment. Don’t settle for or encourage anything less.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Simplify breakfast. Breakfast can often be the most challenging meal of the day and just as often the most neglected. Trying green smoothies, overnight oats, or even slow cooker oatmeal made with Irish oats is a great way to ensure that a simple, nourishing meal is available to you without much challenge in the rush of the morning.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Figuring out shortcuts in the kitchen is a great strategy for success and makes a fresh, whole foods diet more within reach. Keeping things like certain frozen items (like peas and corn) on hand means that we can always make a soup or jazz up some pasta; throwing potatoes in the oven when something else is cooking means that we will have those ready for a future meal and we're not wasting as much gas.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Give yourself time to reconnect with nature. Sometimes we can become so involved our important work that we forget to re-charge ourselves with this amazing source of meditation and inspiration. Even a twenty minute walk can be all you need to nourish your spirit.
(I posted this on Facebook yesterday but forgot to repost here. oops!) A simple way to build a good deed into your regular day is when you go to the thrift store, pick up some towels and blankets that are in good condition to donate to your local animal shelter. Maybe donate some cruelty-free laundry detergent, too. For not much money and effort, you can do a lot of good.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Think of your advocacy time as planting seeds rather than having an expectation of creating immediate transformations. We can only present our message in the most compelling way possible; it is up to those who receive our message to process it according to where they are on their own path. Expecting people to change because of us is about our ego; people are not marks we should check off as accomplishments and no one likes to feel like they've got a target on them. If we focus instead on being considerate, engaged and engaging communicators and listeners, we will be far more effective advocates for the animals.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Find community. An essential key to successful long-term veganism seems to be creating a supportive community around yourself. As most of us don't have families that understand or often even support our values, it is important for us to have a community that does understand and support us. Finding camaraderie through Facebook groups, local vegan meet-ups and potlucks can help us to feel less lonely and more connected.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
No promises, though.
1. You won’t fall over and die, at least not because you went vegan.
2. You won’t live forever, either.
3. You won’t suddenly become a supermodel if you weren’t one before you went vegan.
4. You won’t become a misanthrope. Probably. If you keep aggravating us, though, there are no promises.
5. You won’t get a vegan police badge.
6. Unless you do. It’s completely optional.
7. You won’t suddenly start wearing lettuce leaves for clothing.
8. Oh, god. I swear, this is not required.
9. You won’t face off against the Paleos, snapping your fingers and doing dramatic dance moves a la the Jets vs. the Sharks from West Side Story. It’s fun to imagine this, though.
10. You won’t lose your sense of humor, I promise.
11. You won’t get fat.
12. You won’t get skinny.
13. You won’t force omnis to try your cashew cheese and stand over them with a creepy smile until they tell you they like it. At least, you’ll try to not smile creepily.
14. You won’t transform your vehicle into a mobile bumper sticker display unit.
15. Unless you do just that.
17. You won’t roll your eyes reflexively every time you discover that someone who calls himself a vegan eats fish “occasionally.” You will just never associate with him again.
18. You won’t develop Gummy Mouth Syndrome from eating nutritional yeast straight out of the tub. Necessarily.
19. You won’t walk around the farmers market trying to find shots that will be the most impressive with the vintage-y filter on Instagram. Necessarily.
21. You won’t because it’s just as easy and more personal to write it out by hand.
22. You won’t strike up conversations with random strangers at the tofu-tempeh-seitan section of the grocery store. You will strike up conversations in the produce section, the bulk aisle, the check-out aisle and the tofu-tempeh-seitan section. Oh, sometimes the meat counter, too, when you’re feeling feisty.
23. You won’t necessarily have your LDL/HDL ratio and blood pressure committed to memory in case you have the occasion to bring them up in a debate. You may just have it written down somewhere you can easily access at any time.
24. You won’t plan your vacations around food. You will plan your whole life around it.
25. You won’t get all excited when you find out that a celebrity is vegan. You know that you are only setting yourself up for crushing disappointment if you do.
26. You won’t sit out your family’s Thanksgiving meal in protest. You will go so they can look at you in the face as they shove body parts, mammary secretions and ovum into their faces.
28. Unless you really want to do that.
29. You won’t have a constant bowl of cashews soaking. I mean, if you have a nut allergy you won’t.
30 You won’t have a panic attack when the only bananas at the grocery store are phosphorescent green. You won’t because you already have three bunches of back-up bananas in various stages of ripeness at home, not counting the ones that are already in the freezer. Who runs out of bananas? Amateurs.
Give yourself permission to take "time outs" when you are starting to feel overwhelmed. Being aware of the needless suffering and slaughter done to billions of innocent animals each year can be very painful and overwhelming to know about, which can lead to burn out. Better yet, vow to take care of yourself before burn out begins by always feeding your spirit with the things that nourish you: see movies, take time to walk in nature, meet a friend for dinner, revisit some old hobbies. We cannot help the animals if we become so overwhelmed that we disengage. Take care of yourself! You are important and you deserve it.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Framing veganism as a lifestyle of deficiency or denying oneself is not a good long-term success plan and it doesn't acknowledge the amazing abundance and countless positive benefits available to us. The next time you find yourself saying, "I can't eat this," or "I can't go there," think about how you are communicating veganism to yourself and to the world. We are so fortunate to be able to live in a time when we can live according to our values. We get to eat amazing, health-promoting, harmless food, we get to decide how we want to spend our money and time. Isn't that an incredible opportunity? Successful and effective long-term veganism happens when we no longer look at the world through the lens of lack and denial but through a clear-eyed perspective of gratitude, abundance and acknowledgement of this rare opportunity we have.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Don't leave yourself in the lurch! One of the best ways that you can ensure you can maintain your vegan aspirations is to make it easy for yourself. A simple strategy for this is to keep your kitchen well-stocked with items that can be used any time for making a quick meal, like pasta, soups, and so on.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Give your taste buds some time to adapt to healthier habits. "The longer we eat healthier foods, the better they taste," says Dr. Michael Greger in this short but informative video and the research backs up this claim. Many people claim to not like vegan food, but have they really given it a try?
November is World Vegan Month so for the entire month, Vegan Street will be posting a new daily tip to help make veganism easier and more accessible to all. Daily tip #1 (sorry we missed yesterday): Be gentle with yourself while setting concrete goals. If your goal is to reduce consumption of animal products, figure out easy replacements, for example, almond milk in the place of cow's milk in your cereal. Keep finding ways to decrease or eliminate animal products and increase vegan foods. Setting realistic, specific goals rather than aspiring to something vague will get you closer to tangible results.