Sunday, November 21, 2010

2 Responsibilities (Dhamma)

I came across the following passage recently, and it sure gets me thinking.

"Having the precious opportunity of human birth, I have 2 responsibilities into the Dhamma: (the teachings of the Buddha) The benefit of myself and the benefit of others. All other beings, whether they be human or non-human, visible or invisible, great or small, far or near, all these beings I shall treat with gentleness and wish that they may dwell in peace. May they be happy... May they be happy... May they be happy...! I shall help them when they experience suffering, and be glad with them when they are happy."

Buddhism Explained, Second Edition

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Awwww, Poor Meat Industry :(

As reported by the Washington Post, the meat industry is unhappy with possible new FDA recommendations governing the use of antibiotics in animals. We're not even talking about regulations here. And still, they are fighting this tooth and nail.

Pumping animals with antibiotics their entire lives to avoid infections caused by their filthy living conditions is creating resistant strains of bacteria that concern the medical industry. These strains are making their way into the human food supply. Animals are fed antibiotics when they aren't sick—70% of all antibiotics in the U.S. are fed to livestock.

Bigger problem:
The FDA does not regulate the amount or type of antibiotics used, and this regulation seems to be far from happening. In the meantime, antibiotics used for humans are becoming less effective.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is behind the times. Surprise, surprise. The EU has had regulations for the past 10 years limiting the use of antibiotics. We can't even recommend this, apparently. Why is this hardly mentioned when there is an E. Coli outbreak or meat is recalled? Why aren't meat eaters sickened by these facts and opting to purchase organic meats, or, even more extreme, to stop eating it and feeding it to their kids? I think the answer is education.

Good job, Washington Post. Keep it up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No Such Thing As a Vegan

The article "There is No Such Thing as a Vegan" has been spinning around the internet pretty quickly in the last couple of days. And it's spawned a whole lot of smack-talking on message boards and comment fields. Not surprisingly, it's making it easy for people to demonize vegans, or say that we're not really vegans, or say that we're doing it all for nothing. It's not exactly helping the cause.

Here's the illustration that is the focus of the article:

The truth is that most vegans ARE aware of those and all products derived from cows, fish, and all animals. But, as the founder of veganism, Donald Watson, himself explained, being a vegan does not mean being perfect. The definition is as follows:
"..."veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment."

Note the words possible and practical.

Here's a particularly scathing response in the comments, from "David":
"Vegans are stupid.

Everything has to die eventually, even you. What do you think it's proving to avoid animal products? I don't condone the unnecessary torture and suffering of animals, but under normal regulations, the life of a cow is hardly insufferable. And even if it is -- oh well. It's a cow. Who gives a shit? Life feeds on life -- you think bacteria feels bad when it eats your decomposing ass? Stop with the bleeding heart nonsense and find bigger issues to worry about rather than where your crayons came from. Forget the cows, there's a lot of PEOPLE that need your help, if you wanna be all compassionate about something. Or just get rich -- f* it, you live once. The world is fine. Enjoy it and die. That's life."

That guy, David, is stupid. His logic is as follows: Animals are suffering and people are suffering. People are more important than animals. Therefore helping animals is stupid. This argument is flawed on so many levels. By this logic, spending time, money, or effort on anything other than helping suffering people is a bad idea. Somehow I think he would disagree with that.

But, there were a lot of positive comments, too. And, once the back and forth escalated, the author of the article, Siobhan O'Conner,  explained her intentions in the comments section: 

"Wow what an amazing response, people. Just to clarify—our intention here was not to actually say it's impossible to be a vegan (that is, however, what the drawing says), but to highlight how HARD it is to avoid animal-derived products altogether. I knew about some of this stuff (particularly cosmetics and non-animal-seeming food products that contain cow parts) but a lot of it was news to me. I guess it raises an interesting question, though, about how far people can go, realistically, in the name of veganism. I myself adhere to a vegan diet most of the time, but I also mindfully indulge on occasion in other things. After years and years of varying degrees of vegetarianism, that's what's worked for me. Vegan cosmetics, when you are using only natural products anyway, can be relatively easy. Eating vegan, to me, is easy. Non-leather shoes, however, I have found to be a little tricky. How far do you go?"

So, she is basically a vegan. As good of one as any of us can hope to be. Maybe a different title would have been better. Maybe not, though. I'm sure it would have fired up the same haters. All I can do, and anyone can do, is our best.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Meat Cheat (denial)

I'm roughly 2 weeks away from when my surgeon said my body will be physically healed from the spine surgery I had back in August. Until then, I've told myself that I could eat meat if I felt I needed to, physically. I have done so, when I thought necessary, but usually with chicken. This is the first time I've had red meat in quite some time. I had Estancia beef from 8 oz., a burger. I talk about this place in an earlier post. I was craving it, and I figured I must have needed the proteins found in that kind of meat.

Since going back to work, I've had less time to prepare and eat right, plus I'm just tired sometimes, and I want to be sure I'm doing all I can to heal properly. My spine is so important to my health and comfort for the rest of my life that I wanted to take no chances.

If I was rich, it would be awesome, and I could pay someone to feed me a plant-based diet that supplied me with everything I needed. The reality is, when left to my own devices, I don't always come through. Meat is my "cheat." It still apaulls me as much as it ever has the way the animals are treated, and I have no desire to eat animals long-term. I plan to be mostly vegan for the rest of my life.

This brings up a similar feeling I once had about meat: denial. I wrote about it here. And now I'm doing it again. Only this time I'm not in denial about the origins of the meat I'm ingesting. I'm fully aware. Hyper-aware. Sickened. Still, I travel to a place in my mind, surprisingly easily, where I can forget these horrible things and eat meat when I know it's for my health.
The China Study, which lays out a convincing scientific argument for a plant based diet, details the proteins that our bodies need. It's just a fact that eating animals, needing what we need, supply us with the proteins we need much easier than can be done with plants. I think like any other "cheat" there is a trade-off. And I'm speaking purely physically here, not about the treatment of the animals. The trade-off as I see it is this: Eating meat supplies certain vitamins and proteins that we need, easier, to fill in the gaps we might miss otherwise. But, too much of it is harmful. It leads to high cholesterol, cancer, etc.

So, I think, in the long run, I'll be good to go. But, still, denial. I wonder why it's so simple for me to turn it on and off. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Steve-O is a Vegan

I'm a big fan of laughing. And I've been a fan of laughing at guys doing stupid and crazy crap before the Jackass guys got together. I used to watch old skate videos like Jump Off A Building and CKY2K where similar dangerous stupid things were going down. Here's some footage from CKY2K in case you don't know what I'm talking about.

Interestingly, one of the crazier performers from Jackass and the new Jackass 3-D, Steve-O, is a vegan. He's done ads for PETA in the past, has been a vegetarian or pescetarian most of his life, but has recently gone full vegan. He's brought it up in numerous interviews and on the Howard Stern show on SiriusXM Radio. Howard's co-host, Robin Quivers, is also a vegan and so they chatted about it for a bit.

Steve-O was recently interviewed, along with the whole Jackass crew, by Vanity Fair magazine and he makes some interesting points. Here's an excerpt:

I remember when the movie started, I said, “I don’t want to work with animals. That’s not what I’m about.” But then I did the ram scene anyway, and I justified it in my head, like, “O.K., this is for work. I’ve got to put my own personal beliefs aside.” So I got into the pen and my instincts took over. The ram charged towards my nuts, and I put my hand down to block it. That happened a bunch of times, and as a result the tendons in my right hand are totally messed up. This was back in February, and we’re now in October and it’s still not healed. I feel like it’s a permanent reminder that I compromised my beliefs.

I can totally relate to what he's saying there. I've noticed that trying to be vegan often creates situations where I have to weight my beliefs vs. practicality.

But, it's awesome that he's bringing awareness to veganism. It would fair us well to have as many celebrities as possible speak out. And everyone isn't so aware of people like Alicia Silverstone and other high profile vegans. way to go Steve-O! I'm a big fan of your, er, work, and glad to know you're spreading the word! (And Jackass 3-D was hilarious)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A vegan staple of mine: spaghetti

Before becoming (mostly) vegan, one of my favorite home made meals was spaghetti with sauce from scratch, with ground turkey meat. I'd have fresh garlic bread on the side. And if I had it around, a glass of milk. It was always so filling and satisfying.

Thankfully, that feeling remains when I cook the vegan version of this meal. Nothing is lost, in my mind. It's still super tasty. And just like before, it changes depending on what I have around the kitchen.

There are 2 differences between the old and new versions of this meal. First, the ground turkey is replaced with un-meats, like vegan sausage or frozen meatballs. Secondly, I use wheat pasta. That's pretty much it.

Here's the basics:

Fry up some red onion and garlic while the pasta is boiling. Add the frozen meatballs and reduce heat. I add them now so they thaw by the time my pasta is ready.

Add whatever veggies I have - I prefer either zucchini or yellow squash - chopped bite size. Add fresh chopped tomatoes and kinda smash them around. Lately I've been enjoying the locally grown heirloom tomatoes. It might look like one of these pictures at this point:

Add 1 small can of tomato sauce, plain, no salt added.

Throw some vegan parmesan style cheese on top and I'm good to go.

Here's another version I made recently with a spicy soy sausage, made by Field Roast Grain Meat Co.,  I cooked separately and added at the end.Yes, GRAIN meat. No soy in these bad boys. The ingredient list isn't even scary:

Mmmmm. that garlic bread looks so yummy. Earth balance vegan spread, fresh crushed garlic, a dash of dill and garlic salt. Quickly baked then broiled.

When eating veg seems too hard, I can always fall back on a trusted meal: Spaghetti.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Taste of Life

What's my favorite place to eat at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Selma and Cahuenga every Sunday? Thanks for asking. It's A Taste of Life's booth, featuring Vegan Soul Food! That's right. Vegan soul food. Gotta love it.

My 2 favorite things are the breakfast sandwich and the mac and cheese. The sauteed kale looks good, although I haven't tried it. The BBQ Tofu is spicy and crispy and mega-yummy. But, The mac and cheese is a-ma-zing. It's thick and non-traditional, and I love it.

Apparently this place used to have a restaurant that closed down. I'm bummed I never knew about it or checked it out. But, the good news is the booth is here to stay and they are still distributing their foods via grocery stores and other venues.

So, if you're ever in the Hollywood area, check it out! But be sure to get there early. The mac and cheese goes fast!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm being interviewed on Animal Voices Radio

I'm going to be interviewed by the lovely people over at Animal Voices radio on Friday, October 15th, at 12:10 pm PST. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals and my inspiration for becoming vegan, will be interviewed immediately following at 12:30. It's going to be live and anyone can listen online at

I'm extremely honored and excited for the opportunity to share my story.

The radio station is Co-Op Radio, 102.7 FM in Vancouver, BC. This is their mission statement from their website: Vancouver Co-operative Radio, CFRO, 102.7FM is a non-commercial, co-operatively-owned, listener-supported, community radio station. Located in the heart of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Co-op Radio is a voice for the voiceless that strives to provide a space for under-represented and marginalized communities. Co-op Radio aims to increase community participation by encouraging examination of the social and political concerns of the geographic and cultural communities of BC. 

I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spread the Evol™

I just had a tasty vegan burrito for a snack—a frozen burrito. An Evol burrito. If you're in a pinch, it's a good, pretty healthy option. Here's why I find them superior to other frozen burritos.

1. They're vegan, and there are 2 flavor options
2. You can put them in the fridge for up to 7 days, which makes it much easier to cook without using a microwave (pan fry), or easier to microwave so the tortilla doesn't turn into a rock hard crispy shell
3. The packaging looks good
4. The copy is clever
5. They're pretty green

I like the Veggie Fajita flavor:

There's also a Tofu and Spinach flavor that I haven't tried:

The ingredients are pretty natural and healthy, considering it's a frozen burrito.

Enjoy! And keep it full of Evol.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Soy milk at Starbucks


(My spell check just suggested ethogram, whatever that is.) Clearly it wasn't yet familiar with the shorthand for "What the F is up with Starbucks"!?

Lately I've been drinking coffee again. It probably won't last long because I'm not a big fan of caffeine. But I go through phases. Anyway, the drink I usually order is an iced coffee with soy milk, unsweetened. Simple enough.

Some baristas were charging me $2.45, but others were charging me $2.95 (an extra .50 for the soy). But, the menu doesn't specify it. It says iced coffee, or iced coffee with milk, same price. A manager corrected the transaction once because he said it wasn't an up-charge. So, I thought that to be true. Occasionally, someone would charge me for the soy and I'd say it wasn't extra, and they'd fix it. That's until I tried this at one particular Bucks to the wrong barista. She wanted to make it into a whole big thing, telling me the menu says soy is extra, and I was wrong. I just said I order it a lot and it's not an extra charge. I don't want to make anyone's day suck.

But now I was curious. I called up Starbucks corporate outside on the sidewalk drinking my coffee. I explained to the gentleman from their customer service department that I enjoy an iced coffee with soy milk, and I've been charged inconsistently. I wanted to know if the extra .50 should be charged.

Drumroll please?!..........yes.

Hmm. Well, from now on, when I don't get charged the extra change, it's a bonus. That makes the whole experience better.

This leads me to another question. Why is soy milk an extra charge? Dairy milk is from an animal that needs to be raised and fed and milked and pasteurized and shipped cold and on and on. It's crazy soy milk, from plants, is pricier. What a world.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I stand corrected

I thought for sure it was the last we would have heard of Bill Clinton's diet. But, after hearing his claims, CNN did a follow-up segment with actual experts! "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer on CNN followed up on Bill Clinton's plant-based diet. Amazing clip!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bill Clinton, Vegan!

I don't think he's going to stop wearing leather or anything, but diet-wise, it sounds as though he's pretty much vegan, with an occasional piece of fish here and there. Pretty darn cool. He revealed his change in diet on CNN, and said it was to lose weight, repair his heart, and be healthier overall.

I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more attention in the media. It raises awareness for cardiovascular health as well as a plant-based diet. It shows how skewed our media is and what they consider worthy of follow-up. For example, we see stories going into the minutia of everything from chemicals in toys to genetically modified salmon. But, for some reason, this gets almost nothing.

I was happy to hear him give a shout out to the Campbell's, authors of The China Study. Check it out:

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm back (post-surgery)

It's been a long time since I've posted here, but I'm back! I've had a lot to say so I've delayed posting until I had enough time to really get it all out.

I had surgery on my spine 6 weeks ago after a long battle with a ruptured disc that ended in a complete rupture. I was bed-ridden for the month of July in a lot pain, and have been recovering from surgery since the beginning of August. I'm just now getting back to work and my daily routine. The good news is the surgery was successful, the pain is gone and I'm recovering quickly. I see it as an opportunity given to me to get healthy from the inside out. I was in great shape, but there is always more to do. I need to concentrate on my core now.

How did the veganism go during this period of pain and recovery?

Definitely not perfect. Not even close. But, I did my best and I have no regrets. It was a very trying time for me mentally, physically and spiritually. It still is. It wasn't easy for me to leave my exercise routine and the martial arts, leaving my job, have my muscles atrophy, have my mind worrying about healing and the possibilities of not healing. On top of that, I was taking 7 Vicodin (pain killers) a day just to be able to get out of bed long enough to walk a bit, eat. and do simple household tasks. That medicine messes with your body chemistry affecting hunger, sleep, stress, mood and who-knows-what-else.

My appetite was dwindling fast. I got scared.

I was happy to be hungry, when it happened, rarely, because I wanted to be as strong as possible going into surgery. I was drinking my smoothies in the morning still. And at times I was craving meat. Nothing else was satisfying me or sounding good. And I had to eat. I think it was because I couldn't handle the volume of vegetables and vegetarian foods to give me adequate nutrition. Meat was a way to "cheat" and get the nutrients I needed in a concentrated fashion. And my mind and body were constantly sending me signals of what it wanted. That's not to say it's impossible to do it another way, but it's the way I chose to do it. I had meat a few times a week, sometimes more, and some cheese, in the month leading up to my surgery. And I've done the same since the surgery for the same reasons.

It's safe to say I panicked. I was scared of surgery. I was scared of not being strong enough to fully recover from my surgery. I was afraid if I didn't have the proper nutrition my body would not heal correctly. Or that I might have complications under anesthesia. And with my goal of teaching and learning martial arts for life, it was, and is, a scary prospect that my body may have been damaged and jeopardized my physical abilities. So, in my panic, I went back to what was familiar to me, and did what I had to do to make it work for me.

I still feel the same way I did when I started this blog. I'm against factory farming and I don't want to support it. I know animal consumption is generally unhealthy in large amounts. My injury and surgery have been somewhat of a test for my new diet, and I had too much at stake to risk it. However, it was always in my thoughts. I did my best to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits as I knew those things I needed to be strong also.

6 weeks post surgery, I'm gradually returning to my vegan diet. I still have meat a couple times a week. However, I'm not sure now if I will go 100% vegan. After reading The China Study, it seems reasonable to ingest some meat to be sure my body gets all it needs. I could see eating meat as 1-5% of my diet. And of course I would seek meat not factory-farmed. I haven't made up my mind completely though. I may decide to go back to 100% vegan. I just want to know that I get all I need, and I have to be realistic.

At the very least, even while not being vegan, my diet has changed immensely from where I was a year ago. I eat way more vegetables and fruits and a much wider variety of them. I didn't even know what kale was, and now I eat it almost every day- and usually raw. I'm way more open to new foods. I cook vegan at home 100% the time. I eat way less meat - I used to eat it daily in large amounts. I almost always order the vegetarian option anywhere I go - from a taco truck to Pho to whatever. I don't think I ever ordered a vegetarian meal in a restaurant until last year.

Overall, I'm proud of how far I've come and the changes I've made. I'm extremely happy to be well and to be recovering quickly. I know my diet has changed for the betterment of myself and the planet.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Home made, sort of, vegan value meal

The other day, I was craving a chicken tender value meal from Wendy's. I contemplated going through the drive through and just getting fries, then going home and eat something else. I've done that before. But, that's kinda nasty. I resisted.

Instead, I dug into my freezer for a quick fix. I'm not always in the mood for the most healthy vegan meals. So, I made my own fast-food type vegan value thing.

Sweet Potato Fries

Soy "Chicken" Nuggets (Trader Joes)

Organic, Unsweetened Ketchup

Put it all together, and I got this after about 20 minutes in the oven:

It was not quite as satisfying, but by the end I didn't care. I was super full. I liked it. It was easy and prep free. Sometimes, that's all I want.

Friday, June 11, 2010

8 oz. of...meat

Well, I don't feel great about this, but this is what this blog is all about for me. Documenting my successes, failures, all of it. It's to motivate me, and hopefully help others.

2 weekends ago, I wasn't feeling great. I was hungry. I needed something satisfying. I was craving a burger from this place, 8 oz., I had been to many times in my omnivore days, and a few times since for a veggie burger. But, this time, my nostalgia for a real burger came over me. I really wanted one. So, I researched where they got their meat from, and it was from Estancia ranch. They claim the following on their website:

"We only sell beef from animals that graze in pastures on fresh green grass – no feedlots, ever... At Estancia, we raise healthy animals without using any growth hormones or growth promoting antibiotics. Our animals live their entire lives on the free range."

This was good enough for me, at the time. I know from reading Eating Animals that no matter how the animals live, even in the best of circumstances, of which I believe Estancia qualifies, the kill floors in the processing plants are a horror show. This did not deter me this time.

It's the first time I've had actual meat since going vegan. And it went down as easily as it would have a year ago, before going vegetarian. Satisfied.

I can't really say I regret it. I wouldn't have done it if I was going to beat myself up over it. It's crazy how what used to be something that required no thought now is a huge endeavor. What it showed me is how powerful my habits and rituals involving food are. They really drive my behavior. It's like an imprint in my brain that craves to be remembered. I just need more practice and it will get easier with time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BP Protest in L.A.—on bikes!

This happened over a week ago, but I'm a bit back logged on my blog. And this isn't really a vegan story. Rather, something I was happy to see as someone who is concerned about the environment. That's a major reason I became vegan.

I was driving to the West side of L.A. on a Friday (maybe Saturday) night, and right as I was approaching Olympic and Robertson I saw a huge group of bicyclists in the intersection. This sometimes happens since there are riding groups in L.A. But, they didn't go anywhere. They just kept coming and coming, blocking the intersection, and chanting "F*ck BP"! Cars were honking, passersby were looking, cars were turning around—it was awesome. I was happy to be inconvenienced in this traffic. Apparently they went all around Hollywood and West Hollywood. Here's a video of a similar scene from that night:


This corner is also the location of BP's ARCO station that's "greener" than other stations. It actually looks really awesome. BP is going to have to do a lot more than build one awesome gas station to be a green company now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I just reached a milestone—100 followers on Twitter! And I'm pretty sure none of them are spam. They're legit. OK, I know. n00b.

All About Vegan Mac & Cheese

Guilty. I've always loved Mac and cheese. And this is probably my 5th post about it. But, I do have 2 great finds to report for my fellow mac-and-cheese-heads. So, without further ado:

Number 1: Leahey's Vegan Cheese Sauce Mix

I read about this stuff on another blog, Vegan Incognito, and decided to give it a try. There's no limit to the ends I'll go to to find a good mac and cheese. So, I bought it mail order, it was back ordered, but I finally got it. And let me tell you, this stuff rocks! Is it the yumminess that Kraft has? No. But that's impossible.

This stuff was super easy to make. I just put the powder in a pan and mixed it with Rice Milk once my noodles were almost done cooking. It takes like 3 minutes. There's no powder poppin' either. The stuff just melts right away, and gets creamy fast. I tried a finger dip and I got excited. I poured it on my noodles and was delighted. It was creamy, yummy and easy. Two thumbs up.

Ok, next up.

2: Mac & Cheeza

I heard about this place on NPR. I think it was a show called "Good Food." The guy was going off on how good the stuff was, and all the toppings they had to go along with it. It drove me nuts. Then, he mentioned at the very end of the story that they had a vegan and gluten-free option. Wha-wha-what? I walked in that place's door within 3 days of hearing this. It's in downtown L.A. (and they have a Bakersfield location)

First things first. This place is a bit pricey. It's 10 bucks for the medium sized portion, which is big but it's also 10 bucks. There is a 5 dollar option. But the medium (Momma Mac as they call it) is worth every penny. I got the vegan cheese (regular noodle) with sauteed collard greens, and crushed toasted walnuts on top for crunch (included). I almost got the veggie sausage. Anyway, this place crushes any vegan mac and cheese there is. That's it. It's the best. Next time, I think I'm just gonna go straight up cheese. No nothing. Pure.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: Chipotle Vegan Meat

When I walked into Chipotle last week, I was surprised to see this sign:

I knew that they were testing it, but didn't expect to see it at the Woodland Hills location (near my office) this soon. Usually, I just get the veggie burrito which consists of black beans, rice, peppers and onions, guacamole and salsa. But, I wanted to support Chipotle's decision to have a vegan meat option. I figure at  this point it's still in the testing phase, and will get killed if not enough people buy it.

Well, for all I care they can get rid of it. I'm sticking with my veggie version. Overall, I'm not a huge fan of fake meats. But this stuff was just weird. It's small little rectangles, pretty chewy and almost flavorless. It must be highly processed so nutritionally it's not doing much for me either.

I say, try it if you want. I've read some people love it. It's just not for me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New vegan water bottle

I love my new tk: aro water bottle. It's about the cost of a Sigg bottle at $32, but far superior for a few reasons.

I used to have a Sigg, but I dropped it a few times, and it dented a bit. no big deal. But one day I happened to drop it and pour the water into a glass when I got home. There were little metal shreds in it from the inside of the bottle bending/cracking. No good in my book. Plus, they're super hard to clean. The mouth is so small. And I've left it upside down on my dish rack to dry for days and it never seems to get completely dry. That must breed bacteria.

So, when I was on one of my favorite sites, coolhunting, I found the tk: aro. Below is a picture of it, drained, on my desk.

It just looks bad ass for one thing. That counts in my book. But, it has many advantages. For one thing, it's a glass. So, there's no metallic taste or worries of plastic ingestion from traditional water bottles. The mouth is wide like a drinking glass so it's easy to clean. And the thing is about 80% metal once the top is screwed on. The bottom is thick like a wine bottle, so it's pretty darn durable. Drawbacks? I won't be taking this thing on a hike.

Lastly, and very importantly, it's made of recyclable materials: metal and glass. And vegan.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vegan consequences: New jeans

Since going vegan, I've lost a few inches in my waist. I was not (and am not) interested in losing weight. In fact, I'd like to build more lean muscle mass. But, apparently, it was inevitable. So, I've dropped from a 33"/32" to a 30"/32"

Thankfully Marshall's was stacked with jeans in my size! So I picked up 2 pair for $50, and another pair of Levi's from Target for $30. I don't know if I just got lucky, or if my new size is uncommon. I hope so! My old size was so common they were the first to sell out. Now, if I can only get my feet to shrink or grow by a size I'd solve my shoe problem, too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bestest, fastest vegan breakfast ever

When I have this breakfast in the morning, my day is always better. I feel it when I walk down the hallways at work. I'm a bit lighter, quicker, happier. It gets me excited and wakes me up in the morning faster. It's almost like a shot of coffee. But whereas coffee used to wear me down eventually and dehydrate me, this drink and bread nourish and hydrate me. I don't ingest caffeine at all, and I haven't for a long time. I don't like my body or mood to be effected so drastically by a chemical that's not giving me any value.

Back to the breakfast. Green Drink. Toast. Earth Balance Spread. Simple as that. I pop the bread in the toaster, and make my drink while it's toasting. It's done before the toast, usually. My green drinks vary but a typical day's recipe would be:

3-4 medium size organic kale, stems cut out.
4-5 frozen mango pieces (or berries)
10 oz. Fortified rice milk
A splash of juice.
2 tbsp. ground flaxeed.
1 banana.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Follow my vegan adventures on Twitter!


Since I now know my computer isn't coming back for at least a week, I'm going to be updating my Twitter feed a lot more than usual instead of blogging. Think of it as mini-blogging. Or twogging. Or bleeting. I keep it mostly veggie related. Anyway, check it out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My laptop died

Sorry folks for not posting for a while. My laptop died a week ago and it's gonna be another week before I get it back, fixed. So, I'll have to give a brief rundown.

Bollocks. I ate cheese twice. Both times on pizza. And both times at the Delancey. (Yes, this is the place I said I was going to avoid since I was craving it.) The first time I was next door at a mexican place, and ended up at Delancey and sharing a pizza with a friend, and I gave myself permission. Then, it was kinda weird, but it started be down a slippery slope. I was craving it again and went just days later and ate another one. So, for reals, I'm avoiding this place now.

Apparently, for me, cheese really does have an addictive effect.

What else? I'm still lovin' my morning kale smoothies. I'm still eating a bunch of avocados and beans. I'm still loving how I feel. I feel better than ever.

That's all the time I have for now. More vegan adventures coming soon once I get my laptop back.

Friday, April 30, 2010

File under "WTF?!"

So, apparently the milk industry is lobbying hard to define milk as a product that comes from a lactating animal. Never mind of course the pesky dictionary whose 3rd definition of the word milk is:

"A liquid, such as coconut milk, milkweed sap, plant latex, or various medical emulsions, that is similar to milk in appearance."

 It was the topic of discussion on a FOX NY morning show today. One anchor offered up "Soy Juice" instead of soy milk as an option. The other is whacked out of her skull. Check it out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cheese-less pizza drama

I used to love going to the Delancey in Hollywood for great pizza and a wide selection of Belgian beers on tap. I avoided it for a while after going vegan because I figured it would be too tempting, and there was no reason to go without eating the pizza.

Along came an idea. I'll just order a cheese-less pizza! Problem solved. I'm not 100% sure it's totally vegan, but I think it's close enough. I get the "Fulton" pizza, with braised artichoke and roasted garlic. It's really, really good. So good I don't miss the cheese.

Well, it was a good idea the first couple times. But the last time I was there, one of my favorite pizzas was sitting not more than 12 inches away at the table next to me. Covered in multiple awesome cheeses. My advice is this: If you are teetering on wanting a conventional, non-vegan pizza, avoid drinking Belgian beer and sitting a foot away from one. I didn't give in, but it's gonna be a while before I go back. I'm gonna have to get that image of that pizza out of my head.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vegan Meal at a wedding

Last weekend, I went to a great wedding. There wasn't a meal choice on the invitation, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, there were great vegan foods! There was hummus, pita and veggies for appetizers. And for the main course there was rice, pita, salad, and roasted veggies. It was definitely a full meal, and pretty tasty. (There was feta cheese on the salad and I tried to avoid it in my scoop. But, I caught a bit on a kalamata olive.)

However, I have to admit, I stuffed a couple bags of trail mix in my jacket pocket, just in case.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Snail Saver

C'mon, snails. I read up on you, and I'm aware you don't have a spine or a brain. Apparently, you have a "set of ganglia (groupings of neurons) that distribute the different areas." Well, these ganglia need to distribute your slow crawling butts off the sidewalk and into the grass. The sidewalk in front of my apartment is a snail minefield.

Every time I see one, I pick it up and move it into the grass. Usually, it slips partly back in its shell as I do this. I wonder what they are not thinking in their non-brains as this is happening. Are their ganglia reacting as if I were wind? An earthquake? Are they terrified? Thankful? Well they should be thankful. I wouldn't eat them. I didn't eat them when I wasn't vegan, either. But now I'm the local snail saver. Their Superman®. Respect.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recall: Fatburger Post. It ain't vegan.

Well, it turns out my post regarding Fatburger was factually incorrect. As someone pointed out in the comments, it must have animal products since it has cholesterol. So, on my lunch break and in the Fatburger parking lot, craving a veggie Fatburger, I called them. I asked if the veggie burger was vegan, and the answer was no. It has cheese IN THE PATTY. What the hell? A veggie burger with cheese in it. Why not keep it out of the patty and put it on top if people want it? Well, that's not their style. So I had to go elsewhere that day. And Fatburger lunches are no more.

I'm probably better off anyway without it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day, dog treat

It was a very, very busy earth day for me. Slammed at work and worked late. And, I couldn't find my "we" shirt I wanted to wear. 

But, what a treat! My dog, Lark, was featured in an article for earth day about vegetarian and vegan diets for canines: Meat-free dogs give meaning to Earth Day. And there are few other good lookin' veggie pups as well!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vegan Tempeh Tacos

Soft tacos used to be a staple when I was eating meat. I'd Foreman Grill up some chicken, make some beans, top them with avocado and/or cheese and that was it. Easy, quick filling. But, I stopped eating them after going vegan because they seemed like they'd be empty. So I'd go with chips and guac and beans instead.

But a couple nights ago, I made something new: tempeh tacos. (by the way, I've never cooked tempeh before). They were awesome! And they're even faster to make than the chicken ones. I used LightLife three grain tempeh, cut it into 1/4 inch slices, and pan fried the strips til they were crispy.

While that was frying up, I put black beans in a small pot with some corn salsa, hot sauce, garlic, and red pepper. I mash them up a bit so they are sort of halfway between refried and regular beans. That's my fave. I flipped the tempeh. The, I made my guac with lemon juice, garlic, a dash of salt, red pepper and fresh jalapeno. That's it! My dinner was done.

I have to say, no b.s., they were awesome. The tempeh filled in perfectly for the chicken. It didn't taste like chicken, or much of anything, but it didn't need to. The beans, guac and hot sauce had tons of flavor. The tempeh just gave it texture and weight. Perfect. Plus, just a half package of tempeh has 20 grams of protein.

Recent eats, and some loose vegan recipes

1. Pasta
I've made whole wheat spaghetti, plain spaghetti, and other noodles in funky shapes. Sometimes I go all out and make a veggie sauce from scratch. Other times, I toss in a bit of olive oil spinach and/or and garlic and that's it. It's easy, fast, and the leftovers are great for lunch the next day.

2. Guacamole, beans, chips
I eat enough to fill me up for dinner. I'll mash up pinto beans and they look sort of refried. Other times I use the refried black or pinto beans from a can. I add some salsa and hot sauce and cumin to liven it up. While that's heating up, I make my guacamole. Usually I use 2 avocados, a few cloves of garlic, a splash of lemon juice, and a tiny dash of salt. Half a bag of chips, 2 avocados, and half a can of beans pretty much does it.

3. Hummus and pita
These are 2 ingredients I pretty much always have in the fridge. I'll garnish the hummus with sesame seeds, crushed red pepper and olive oil.

4. Indian food
I've been working a lot and eating out a lot lately, which I don't love. But, I do love Indian food. So I guess they cancel each other out. And lunch specials are the best cause you get lentils, rice, veggie dish, naan and a salad for about 7 or 8 bucks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: California Pita

I had a surprisingly good vegan lunch the other day at California Pita. I ate some kabobs there once in my omni days and was not impressed. And Daphne's falafel sandwich leaves a lot to be desired. But, I was craving a sandwich, this place was close, and so I decided to give it a try. How bad could a falafel sandwich be? (Pretty bad, actually)

I was pleasantly surprised. It was large enough for my hefty appetite, and the falafel was fresh and hot. It also had some spinach mixed into it which was a nice touch. And they spared nothing when it came to ingredients. Plenty of falafel, hummus, tahini, cucumbers, tomatoes and a large (not really a pita in my book) wrap. It's one of those sandwiches you have to eat with a fork at first if you have any hope of getting it small enough to fit in your mouth and eat it like a normal sandwich. And at $5.99, you can't beat the price with a stick.

Lastly, I was impressed with the real plate and real metal fork. Not only does it give the food more respect and make it more appetizing, it's better for the environment. It's pretty rare to see this in a strip mall joint so I give them a big plus on that front.

I'll definitely be back. +1 California Pita.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Confessions of a Non-Vegan Roll Eater

Yep, yours truly. Those frickin' delicious dinner rolls from Miceli's that aren't quite vegan. I claimed back in February I wouldn't eat these rolls again. I referred to them in that post as "hot, fresh, gooey, crispy, delicious dinner rolls". That pretty much sums it up.

I've been back to Miceli's every other week as a little tradition. And every time I asked the waiter not to even bring them to the table. This time, I didn't catch the waiter in time, and...bam. There they were. I resisted them all throughout my meal.

But when I finished my pasta, I was still hungry. I looked at the rolls. I wasn't crazy about the idea of ingesting the dairy in them, albeit a very small amount. And I knew I had vowed to not eat them again. Then, I ate three of them. I rationalized it this way: being vegan to me means avoiding animal products by all practical means. Well, it wouldn't be very practical to throw away a basket full of rolls when I was sitting there hungry. So, I ate them, pretty guilt free. I'm still going to avoid them in the future.

I felt obligated to document this occasion. Next time I go I'll be sure to ask for no rolls, and maybe a salad to make sure I'm full.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A beautiful Sunday

I'm always surprised and delighted when I find out I've had an impact on anyone's life for the better, for any reason. And, it's even better when it's my Mom. We had a vegan breakfast Sunday morning at Mani's, and she mentioned she was tending to eat more vegan meals since I decided to change my eating habits. Awesome. It can only lead to good things!

I know I always say how great Mani's is, but it really is. They have so many vegan options, even vegan desserts, that it's hard to resist. It's a little pricey, but not outrageous. $10 - $13 for most breakfast items. I had the breakfast wrap (Black beans, guacamole, spinach, mushrooms, vegan tofu scramble in a whole wheat tortilla. Served with our Ranchero Sauce and Pico de Gallo.)  And after a great meal at Mani's, what better way to spend the afternoon than browsing the Melrose Trading Post.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My dog's a vegetarian

And her kibble is vegan. I've been slowly transitioning her off of meat based kibble and she's doing great! She still scarfs it down, loves the taste, and has tons of energy. And I have veggie treats that I've always given her. And her, um, business is just fine also.

This is the food she eats:

And these are the treats:

I add a few carrots and veggies and kitchen droppings in the mix now and then, and she's good to go! One happy pup.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Green Juice and Randomness

Here's what the contents of my green juices have been lately. Rice Milk, Pom/Blueberry juice, ground flaxseed, collard greens, frozen goji, blue and strawberries and a banana. It comes out sorta greenish brown. And tasty.

Also, I recently posted my McCruelty poster from my FREE McCruelty action pack in my office at work. It fits nicely between my "I SAVE" ING Direct bumper sticker and my "Follow a mind freed by massive choice" Veer stock photo page. And my elephant photo.  It's the little things.

And, finally, I took a picture of my dog Lark today and she just was looking ultra-cute. That's my last bit of randomness.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cutie Chameleon

My neighbor has a chameleon, and it was a perfect opportunity to try out my new iPhone photo filter. This thing is so cute.

Vegan Menu Review: The Desert Rose

Thursday night was a great experience at The Desert Rose in Los Feliz (Los Angeles). Be sure to ask for the vegan menu, they don't give it to you automatically. There's soups, salads, pizzas, tapas, and all kinds of good stuff. It had a guy playing the sax in the background, dim lighting, and outdoor patio with heat lamps, and a little bar. It's a nice ambiance.

And, it's right next door to Cruzer Pizza which boasts 100% animal-free, vegan ingredients. So, we got one. I'm in to pizza right now. It was a veggie special, and it was awesome!

But what really stood out was the eggplant soup I had for an appetizer. It was so unique and fantastic. Cream of eggplant with falafel dolops, Check it out:

I highly recommend the place, but at the very least get a pizza delivered from Cruzer.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Highlights of the week (so far)

I've done a couple new things this week that worked out pretty well. But first. Amy's. Mac. And. Cheeze. I know I reviewed this already, but I ate it before I could take a picture. So, of course, I had to have another, and here's the proof. The picture says it all.

I also made some spaghetti sauce this that varied from my usual concoction. Usually, I saute zucchini and fresh tomatoes for a fresh, chunky veggie sauce. I didn't have any fresh veggies other than tomatoes, so I decided to make a vegan "meat" sauce. I cut up some roma tomatoes pretty small, then added garlic and olive oil. After simmering for a bit, I added some frozen veggie meatballs. Once they softened up, I smashed them into tiny bits and it looked like a meat ragu. And it tasted great. Satisfying.

Another thing I've gotten into lately is baked sweet potatoes. My aunt's neighbor, who is over 100 years old, says she has eaten a sweet potato almost every day for as long as she can remember. I take that as a good sign.

I'll throw them in the oven, wrapped in foil, with a bit of canola oil to keep them from sticking. I don't skin them or anything, I just scrub 'em and bake 'em. I put some Earth Balance buttery spread on top and that's it. They're really good. They take about 45 minutes to cook, but that doesn't have to suck. For example, I'll get home from work and throw them in the oven right away. Then I walk the dog, read my mail, make the rest of my meal, and then the potatoes are done. And I have an extra for work the next day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"How's the vegan thing going?"

"Are you still a vegan?"

To me these question sounds a lot like Sarah Palin's recent speech asking, "How's that hopey, changey stuff working out for ya?"

I'm sure some people mean well, but I sense sarcasm and/or cynicism in there sometimes. And both being vegan and the hopey-changey stuff are working out very well, thank you.

Lately I've been answering in the simplest terms possible.
"For life."
"Love it."
"Never felt better."

And to those being sarcastic, I always see a look of surprise at the confidence in my answer. It's like they expected me to say:
"Man, this vegan thing sucks. I had to eat a burger the other night cause I'm so weak. It's really hard. I'm not sure anymore. I'm changing my mind."

And then there's usually no follow-up besides "Really? Wow. Alright, see ya later."

I handle it like the mature adult that I am. I don't get upset. So to the sarcastic nay-sayers I say:
In your face. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Eating Animals Forum

I recommend joining the Eating Animals forum.

There's lots of good discussions going on there, but it could use more members and activity. It can be frustrating because some threads are very anti-vegan, but most of it is helpful, thoughtful discussion. For example, here are some inspiring stories from people who went vegan after reading the book—like me!

Food Revolution

I'm no fan of reality TV, but I saw this clip on the Huffington Post and was shocked. On Jamie Oliver's new Reality Show he attempts to educate children about their food, and making healthy choices. He doesn't advocate for veganism, but it's a huge step in the right direction. He advocates for fresh, unprocessed diets, high in fruits and vegetables.

In this clip, he thinks showing the kids the nasty process in which chicken nuggets are made will turn them off. Well, it doesn't quite work out that way. Check it out:

I saw another clip recently where the children couldn't tell him what he was holding in his hand: a tomato. Scary.

After seeing this, I realized what and uphill battle this is really going to be. The next generation of kids in this country don't have even the most basic knowledge about food. I didn't think it was possible not to recognize a tomato.

What I want to see next is a vegan reality show. Let's put a bunch of nay-saying-omnis in a house and make them go vegan for 30 days. It'd be interesting to see how many stuck with it after it was over.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Doctor approved!

I recently got the results of my bloodwork—and it's all good. I have no deficiencies, no evidence of anemia or any other problems. In fact, my overall condition has improved.  As I said in my earlier post, I've lost 14 lbs. I'm trying to gain that back by increasing my weightlifting and protein intake (more lentils and nuts).

Here's what the American Heart Assoc. considers healthy.

Here are the highlights of my results:
142 - Total Cholesterol (desireable < 200)
42 - Triglyceride (fat) Level (desirable < 150.
58 - HDL good cholesterol (desirable level above 39)
76 -LDL bad cholesterol (desirable level < 130)
83 - Blood sugar (normal 69 - 99)

Here's my favorite part:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Amy's Mac and Cheeze

Yea, that's cheeze with a "z".

Since going vegan, I've tried non-dairy, boxed mac and cheese. Nice try, but no. I've seen the recipes on Vegan Yum Yum and other recipes people have been so kind to offer me, but I haven't made them. For me, mac and cheese is a tradition of making something really quick for immediate satisfaction. Gooey, gooey satisfaction.

Needless to say, I had high hopes for the mac and "cheeze" of Amy's. The picture on the box looks fantastic. And I feel lucky I even got a box of it, since there were only a few left in the store's freezer.

I had it for a snack at work. And...we have a winner! This stuff will never be like the real thing, but it's really damn close. Mmmmm, cheesy, salty, not really good-for-me goodness. Thanks Amy's!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another recipe idea

Some of my friends who've been inspired to eat less meat have said it's hard for them. But, they've also said pictures from my blog sometimes pop in their heads and give them ideas.  So, here's one for the vault that I've made quite a few times.

Usually, I don't add the veggie sausage, but it was surprisingly good. I put the sausage on the Foreman Grill til' it was crispy. For my sauce, it was almost all fresh. I chopped up yellow squash and zucchini, a tomato, an onion, and added a can of unsalted diced tomatoes. I didn't cook it for too long cause I like the veggies crispy. I also used some olive oil and garlic. Toss that on your pasta and you're good to go! Dinner in less than 20. And it's a familiar meal.

Some of you may want to know why the photo is only of 2/3 of the plate. Me too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Hearty Dinner

Last night, I was craving meat. I didn't crave the taste, and I don't know if I could have even eaten it, but I wanted the feeling in my stomach it gave me. Also, I had a case of the after-work-I'm-tired-don't-want-to-do-shit feelings. So, I was on a mission for heartiness and fullness.

I quickly decided, arabic/mediterranean food, with lentils instead of meat. The whole thing took less than 30 minutes. Maybe even 20.

First things first, I threw the rice in my rice cooker. I wanted that going while I was prepping the rest of the meal. (I find my rice cooker essential. It's so easy, and I wouldn't make it otherwise). Then I boiled about 1/3 cup of dry green lentils (about 1 1/2 servings). I toasted a couple wheat pitas, put some hummus and olives on the plate, and dropped a handful of pine nuts and almond slivers on for texture. The rice and lentils finished it off.

It looked kinda brown—not the most appetizing. Not bad either. But with the brown rice, wheat pita, get the picture.

Regardless of how it looked, it definitely did the trick. It could've used a salad, but I didn't have the fixings. It filled me up. I was stuffed. Whew.

Meatless Monday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: The Pizza Cookery

I went to The Pizza Cookery with friends from work on Friday afternoon, and was surprised and delighted by their extensive vegan and gluten-free menu! Who knew Topanga Blvd. was so hip? I had a 6-inch pizza with artichoke, olives, and vegan cheese. The cheese was melted and crispy on the edges. Yum. And it didn't get all weird as it cooled off either. This is the best vegan pizza I've had to date.