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4 Simple Steps for Transitioning to a Vegan Diet by Carol Morgan Cox, VLCE

I stood in my kitchen looking at my now almost-empty fridge and had no idea what I was going to eat or cook. It was the morning after I had watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and thrown away all of the meat, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and eggs in my refrigerator. This was a huge change for me, as I had been eating some kind of animal food at every meal.

I have to admit that the next few months were rocky, as I wandered the grocery store aisles searching for plant-based options and carefully reading ingredients, experimented with new foods, and struggled to find recipes that were easy to make. (Fortunately, my husband was very supportive, even on the nights when the meals did not turn out quite like I had hoped.)

vegan-transitions-lg

To help you on your transition to a vegan diet and lifestyle, here are four simple steps I learned during mine.

  1. Set your intention and be mindful of your choices.

Take a few minutes today and think about why you’ve decided to take this journey. You can write it down in a journal or create a note on your computer or phone.

Setting an intention and making a commitment to yourself early on can make the difference between continuing down the path versus stopping and turning around after only a few steps.

Change can be hard: there are new things to learn, old habits to break, unfamiliar patterns to establish. Be open to new ideas and new ways of looking at yourself and the world. If resistance comes up, sit with it and ask why it’s there. There are no right or wrong answers; this is your unique journey of discovery.

  1. Swap out common animal-based foods for plant-based options.

There are so many delicious alternatives nowadays, so on your next few trips to the grocery store pick up some of the following plant-based foods:

  • Milk = Rice, almond, soy, hemp, or flax milk
  • Butter = Earth Balance plant-based butter
  • Mayonnaise = Veganaise or Beyond Mayo
  • Cheeses, ice creams, and yogurts = Look for brands like Daiya, So Delicious, and Tofutti
  • Eggs = Ener-G egg replacer
  • Meat = Check out Beyond Meat’s chicken-like strips, sausages from Field Roast and Tofurky, and veggie burgers from Sunshine Burgers and Dr. Praeger’s
  1. Select trigger points.

[Read more…]

Vegan Pressure Cooking: 3 reasons to try it (plus a giveaway) by JL Fields, VLCE

I came to veganism later in life, the year I turned 45, and I needed some serious help. My husband did most of the cooking in our home during the first years of our marriage because he loved it and because I traveled so much. When I went vegetarian, he handled it with ease. He became a pro at pressing tofu and all things meatless. Eight years later – when I proclaimed, “I’m a vegan!” – well, he suggested I step up my game in the kitchen.

I was a little lost but found my way by reading vegan blogs and cookbooks. And then I discovered the pressure cooker. Game changer.

Here are three reasons to consider vegan pressure cooking:

  1. Fast food.

Beans and grains, two delicious and important foods in a vegan diet, can be made in a matter of minutes. Yes, minutes. Soak black beans, chickpeas or whole dry green peas overnight and those legumes will cook up in anywhere from seven to 15 minutes. Brown rice cooks up in 22 minutes and quinoa in just one minute.

Many fruits and vegetables cook in less than five minutes; potatoes in just six minutes means mashed potatoes in under 15 minutes!

One-pot meals like this Chik’n Lentil Noodle Soup, filled with vegetables, legumes, and soba noodles, can cook in as little as eight minutes.

Chik'n lentil noodle soup | JL Fields | Vegan Pressure Cooking

Photo: Kate Lewis

Chik’n Lentil Noodle Soup

This soup is a reader favorite on my blog, I suspect because it is reminiscent of a childhood favorite for many of us—and because it’s incredibly easy to prepare and delicious! The “chicken” flavoring is simply seasoning. I use Butler Chik-Style seasoning, though your favorite brand of dry seasoning will do just fine. This is rich in protein and packed with healthy vegetables.

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups (200 g) green beans (fresh or frozen), snapped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup (130 g) chopped carrots
  • 1 cup (120 g) chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons vegan chicken flavored seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 cup (200 g) dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 4 ounces (112 g) soba noodles
  • 4 cups (940 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups (235 to 355 ml) water

In an uncovered pressure cooker, heat the oil on medium-high. Add the garlic, onions, green beans, carrots, and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken-flavored seasoning, bay leaf, and sage and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the lentils, noodles, and vegetable both. Stir to combine. Cover and to bring to pressure. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes. Use a quick release. Sample both the lentils and the noodles. If they are not cooked through, simmer on low in the uncovered pressure cooker until done. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Recipe Notes

  • You can find vegan chicken-style seasoning or Bouillon cubes at most grocery stores.
  • To deepen the flavor further, use vegan chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.

Recipe: Vegan Pressure Cooking: Beans, Grains, and One-Pot Meals in Minutes (Fair Winds Press, January 2015) by JL Fields

  1. Save money.

[Read more…]

Eat Happy in 2015 by Victoria Moran

Every year around this time, lots of people are trying to eat better, lose some weight, and generally get their act together. But maybe we’re looking at the food thing wrong: instead of focusing first on eating healthy, let’s think about eating happy. While there isn’t universal agreement on this, there is compelling evidence to suggest that many of the foods we think of as producing health may produce happiness, too.

The majority of foods believed to be mood-boosters are what vegans consume as a matter of course: complex carbohydrates, leafy greens, other richly-colored vegetables, and fruits, nuts and seeds. The brain chemical most often credited for feelings of contentment and wellbeing is serotonin. More serotonin is synthesized as the amino acid tryptophan enters the brain, so one would think that consuming more high-protein foods – protein is made up of amino acids, after all – would pave the highway to happiness, but that’s not the case.

You can think of tryptophan as kind of shy and retiring, not an amino acid to aggressively push itself from bloodstream to brain as many of the others are wont to do. Eating more carbohydrates – and we’re talking nature’s carbs: vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruit — appears to enable more tryptophan to get into your brain.

Green Salad

Serotonin production is also aided by:

  • B-complex vitamins. Whole grains are rich sources overall. Folate and vitamin B12 are believed to play a role in warding off depression, some types of dementia, and central nervous system maladies. Get folate from greens (i.e., foliage – the vitamin and its foremost source share a root) and beans, rather than from its artificial form, folic acid, which may encourage the develop of breast cancer. Some plant-based foods – nondairy milks, most brands of nutritional yeast flakes, some breakfast cereals – are fortitied with vitamin B12, but you’re supplementing anyway to be sure you’re on the safe side.
  • Vitamin D. Get it from sunshine and supplements (look for a vegan vitamin D3). Individual needs vary widely; get your levels checked by your doctor.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Flax, walnuts, savi seeds, chia, and kiwifruit are plant sources of ALA, which the body can convert into the usable forms of omega-3, DHA and EPA. Since it’s uncertain how well this conversion happens in a particular individual, many physicians and dieticians recommend taking algae-based DHA/EPA supplement providing 300 mg. of DHA (the amount of EPA doesn’t matter so much, since ALA converts to it more easily).

The trace mineral selennium is another good-mood nutrient, shown to improve mild-to-moderate depression. This masterful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory is found in whole grains, beans, and nuts and seeds, especially Brazil nuts. Nutrition guru Michael Greger, MD, recommends twenty-two Brazil nuts a month to meet selennium needs – you can either pop one a day, or make Brazil nut milk (delicious!) every couple of weeks

Several studies imply that eating breakfast – pretty much any breakfast, it appears – leads to more vitality throughout the day, greater calmness, and even a better memory. If you include a banana, you’re getting B6, whch boosts production of dopamine, another feel-good brain chemical, and magnesium, a mineral believed to contribute to an upbeat attitude. Add blueberries or blackberries and let their anthocyanins, the antioxidants belied by the berries’ rich color, further aid the production of dopamine.

Brain Bummers [Read more…]

Starting fresh in the new year as a vegan by Colleen O’Connell, VLCE

Are you trying to go vegan in the New Year? It’s really not so tough! The key is to approach it with small, simple steps to slowly transition. I’ve got some great tips to help the smaller change last.

  1. Eat your veggies. This lifestyle includes an abundance of plant-based options, but make sure you eat enough and eat things you truly enjoy! Nobody wants to feel tired or hungry when they start out on a vegan diet, and there are two easy solutions to these problems. First, eat more plants. Vegetable-based foods are often much lighter than the animal products you are used to, but know it is okay to fill up on more vegetables and grains than you have in the past. Your body will be adapting to a different diet, and it may seem unnatural to eat a larger volume of food, but you will feel so much better after mealtime! Second, don’t forget the vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is easily found in animal proteins, but not naturally occurring in plant foods. This supplement is essential for energy and brain function on a vegan diet, and easily accessible in a local natural foods store or online.

starting fresh 1

  1. Don’t spend tons of money on new equipment and cookbooks. This might be an exciting step in your journey, but it unnecessary and can leave you broke or worn out. Instead, focus your energy on finding some recipes online (there are TONS!) that you believe can really work for your lifestyle. Make a grocery list, head to the store, and get what you need. I love Kris Carr’s weekly recipe planner. Spend your time and energy on choosing interesting recipes, and make sure you have a game plan at the beginning of each week.
  1. Find a local community or support group. There are vegan Meetup groups in many cities throughout the country. An important component of change is to have someone to hold you accountable. If you don’t have a local meetup group, start your own! A vegan community is also a great place to meet lifelong friends, exchange recipes, or just eat some good food with like-minded individuals.

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Go Green This Christmas! by Sarah Eastin, VLCE

Are you searching for the perfect last minute gift? The ideas below will help you and your loved ones care for the environment, people and animals by being a bit more “green,” minimizing packaging and waste, and giving back to those in need. All of this while having some fun too!

  • Ask for and give donations to your favorite charities instead of presents. The options here are almost endless with many great organizations needing year-end help. Some of my favorites are animal advocacy groups and rescues.
  • Adopt, foster a homeless animal or take your loved ones to volunteer at a shelter or visit an animal sanctuary.
  • Give healthy snacks. When you make homemade food it adds a wonderful personal touch and almost everyone loves some fun vegan snacks! Here is an easy-to-make recipe that I really like for Sweet and Spicy Nuts to get the wheels in your head turning:
Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Cayenne pepper gives these slightly sweet walnuts a piquant kick. If you have a large pan, you can easily double this recipe (Veganized from the website: Whole Living).

Serves 8 (makes 2 cups)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or coconut nectar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat maple syrup, oil, and 1 tablespoon water over medium heat. Add walnuts; toss to coat.
  2. Sprinkle the sugar, salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne over the nuts. Cook, tossing and stirring until the nuts are well coated and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool completely.
  • It’s also great to support small vegan food businesses too. There are tasty vegan foods almost everyone on your gift list will love. Fruit baskets and bouquets are great healthy gifts, as well.
  • Give a gift certificate to your favorite vegan restaurant.
  • Prepare a vegan meal for Christmas dinner or host a Christmas party or potluck with delightful vegan fare. There are so many delicious vegan options and pushing family and friends to get creative with their culinary skills can be a ton of fun! Reuse some slightly used ugly Christmas sweaters and you are set for a very entertaining night!
  • Give the gift of vegan lifestyle and healthy eating coaching sessions.
  • Give the gift of health. If you have family members who are stressed, a massage, facial, or trip to a day spa may be the perfect way to perk them up.
  • A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership to a local farm is another great way to support local farmers and sustainable agriculture.
  • Support vegan fashion, cosmetics, personal care products and businesses, my goodness the possibly endless and so much fun! Check out one of my favorites: The Compassionate Closet.
  • Pick up some super-fun vegan-inspired merchandise to spread the compassionate message at Big City Vegan.
  • Give some videos, books, or magazine subscriptions all about vegan lifestyles. There are wonderful children’s (and adult) books that teach children about being kind to animals. KIND News is a great magazine subscription to give the little ones in your life (subscriptions can also be donated to classrooms).
  • Support local businesses- fun hand crafted items that have a very thoughtful appeal; you can find many of these at Craft Fairs in your city.
  • Make gifts from recycled materials, as I’ve done for years. There are so many fun ideas and this is a great project for kids. These can really push you to use your creative skills, even if you don’t think you have many. You can check out Pinterest for some ideas. I made this fun candle holder from recycled glass jars and gave them to friends as presents last year.

go green for christmas 1

  • Make your ornaments and decorations from recycled and reused material; you can even make your own Christmas tree! See Pinterest  again for ideas, this is another great project for kids. Save your gift wrapping to use throughout the year or for next Christmas. You can also make ornaments or decorations from any fun paper, bows or cards you have gotten previously. Check these decorations out I made from recycled toilet paper tubes as an example:

[Read more…]

5 NON-TOXIC ways to scent your Home for the Holidays by Kris Gurksnis, VLCE

The smell of fresh-cut pine trees or cookies baking in the oven can invoke fond memories of the holidays, compelling us to light a candle, squirt a fragrance spray or use a plug-in to create a festive vibe.

Unfortunately, there is a hidden danger in air fresheners called Phthalates. Used in air fresheners to make scents linger longer, Phthalates are an endocrine disruptor linked to birth defects, breast cancer, asthma and reproductive issues. This toxic chemical has also been shown to have negative affects on our pets’ health. They are a hidden danger because there are no requirements to list them on product labels.

Instead, scent your home with holiday cheer by trying some of these wicked easy, natural, non-toxic, compassionate alternatives!

  1. NATURAL ROOM SPRAYS

Making a natural room spray is simple, fun and makes a great gift!

Check out my 3-minute, step-by-step video to learn how to do it: http://youtu.be/V9nUR0v5DJ0

  1. BRING THE OUTSIDE IN!

Collecting pinecones, sprigs and berries on a woodland wanderlust is a great way to get outside, connect with the earth and bring the “outside in.”

Fresh Sprigs

Gathering sprigs can be a magical experience – personally and aromatically! White pine is one of my favorites to gather due to its beauty and healing properties. The needles make a wonderful tea for colds or respiratory issues. Arrange sprigs in decorative centerpieces, wreaths or basket arrangements.

 fresh sprigs 1 

fresh sprigs 2 

Clove Oranges

Using a candy thermometer or pencil tip, poke holes in a ripe orange to create a design for your cloves. After the design is finished, insert the cloves in the holes. Arrange in a decorative basket by themselves or mixed with cinnamon pinecones. The juice from the orange infused with clove is the bees knees.

clove oranges

Cinnamon Pinecones

Gather 10-15 pinecones. Place on a cookie sheet bake at 175’ for an hour or until they open. Remove from the oven and let them cool. In a small spray bottle, mix 45 drops of cinnamon essential oil with distilled water and spray the pinecones. Place in a paper bag and allow them to marinate for a few days. When ready, place in a decorative bowl or basket. 

  1. HOLIDAY SIMMAH

This is a quick way permeate the scent of the holidays throughout the home. Have fun and “spice it up” with various spices.

Place 5 cinnamon sticks, a dash of cloves, 2 slices of orange and some star anise in a pan with approximately ½ cup of water. Let simmah for about an hour on the lowest setting. Enjoy!

 holiday simmah

  1. HOLIDAZED & DIFFUSED

There are many types of aromatherapy diffusers; two popular ones are ultrasonic and ceramic.   Ultrasonic aromatherapy diffusers break down the essential oil into micro particles, dispersing the scent into the air. Ceramic diffusers are heated by a tea light and are a less expensive option. Please keep in mind, animals are very sensitive to essential oils, so please check to see which ones are safe to use around your pet.

Here are some of my favorite holiday essential oil blends:

Sugar Cookie

½ tsp Vanilla Absolute

6 drops Cinnamon essential oil

2 drops Nutmeg essential oil

The Perfect Tree

7 drops Douglas Fir essential oil

4 drops Rosemary essential oil

3 drops Cypress essential oil

2 drops Nutmeg essential oil

Cold & Flu

4 drops Eucalyptus

3 drops Rosemary

2 drops Basil

2 drops Bergamot or Lavender

  1. ALWAYS KEEP ROSEMARY BY YOUR GARDEN GATE AND FRONT DOOR

[Read more…]

Holiday Survival Tips by Michael Suchman

The period of time between Halloween and New Years can be a culinary version of running the gauntlet, especially for anyone who is vegan. Between office parties, family gatherings and house parties, this becomes a season of eating. If you are lucky there will be vegan options for you at these gatherings, but more than likely, most, if not all the foods offered will be filled with animal products. However, all is not lost. With some careful planning, you can still attend these parties and not leave feeling hungry, frustrated at the lack of options or if you are like me, the dreaded hangry. Here are some quick tips to help get you safely through the holidays.

  1. If you are going to an office party, don’t be afraid to talk to the person organizing it. Explain that you are vegan and ask to make sure there are vegan options available. Most large companies have catered events and can make sure there will be food for you. In the case of going to a restaurant, check out the menu ahead of time and see what is available. You can also call the restaurant and speak to a manager before your arrive. Simply let the manager know you are vegan and ask what option the restaurant has that would work for you. With notice, most restaurants are happy to work with customers. Be prepared to make suggestions. If they say we have grilled vegetables, or even worse, say they have nothing, ask if they have beans, pasta without egg, etc. Odds are they have plenty to work with, but don’t think outside the printed menu.
  2. If going to a house party, bring along a vegan dish. Make plenty so that the other guests can try it and taste how great vegan food is. This way you will be assured to have something you will want to eat and you do a little vegan advocacy at the same time. Make sure whatever dish you bring is a winner. Now is not the time to try a new recipe. If the host is a good friend, talk to him or her ahead of time about what vegan options there will be. No host ever wants a guest to feel left out.
  3. For family gatherings, again, bring some food with you. Hopefully your family is supportive and will already have some vegan friendly menu items planned. Don’t be afraid to talk to the host about what he or she is serving.
  4. Eat a little something before you go to the party. By arriving somewhat full, you aren’t tempted to mindlessly snack during the party. When surrounded by people who are eating, there is a strong temptation to join in. And if the only vegan options are chips and such, you end up eating a lot of empty calories, which usually just makes you feel more hungry.
  5. Have some food ready to eat when you get home. After a night at a party where you didn’t get much to eat, arriving home hungry leads to late night eating. Uncontrolled late night snack can easily result in over eating. By having a light meal waiting for you, there is less risk of random bingeing.
  6. Ask questions of the hosts or servers if you don’t know what is in something. The safe default, unless you know everything is vegan, is that all dips contain some animal products. Find the veggie tray, but before using the dip, ask what is in it.
  7. When people ask why you aren’t eating or are eating so little, simply explain that you are vegan and there is little available that you choose to eat. If they say something like, “wow, that is really hard,” or, “that is so limiting,” take a minute to educate them on the bounty of foods available and that in this situation you are only limited because of what is being offered.

With just a little planning ahead you can make it through the holidays without any problems at all. At least not when it come to food. As for family, well, you are on your own.

michael suchman, vlceMichael Suchman, VLCE is a recovering lawyer. After practicing in the field of Corporate Litigation for 12 years, he was tired of representing corporations over the interests of individuals. Since stopping practicing, he has come to recognize that the law needs to work more on helping all individuals, regardless of species. Michael lives in New York City with his husband Ethan and their two vegan dogs: Riley and Charlie. When not running the show at Chelsea Foot and Ankle, Michael can be found either in the kitchen trying out new recipes, watching Dr. Who, or taking photos the old fashioned way, with an actual 35mm camera. You can check out his photography at michaelsuchman.com. He and Ethan are the founders of Vegan Mosand are proud to be Amicus Partners with Lambda Legal and Barnyard Benefactors for Our Hen House.

Holidays, Happiness, and Being Vegan by Victoria Moran

With December upon us, I’m in holiday mode. We did an all-out Thanksgiving, starting with my son-in-law, Nick, appearing in the Macy’s parade (he was a toy soldier), and having over for dinner a gentleman named Stan who is, well, let’s just say, closely acquainted with the Big Guy from the North Pole. We watchedMiracle on 34th Street (the 1947 black-and-white original, of course) and when Kris Kringle said, “Christmas isn’t just a day: it’s a state of mind,” Stan and I both responded with “Yes!” in a duet so synchronized you’d have thought it was rehearsed.

vegan holidays main street vegan

At this time of year, I automatically access a childlike sense of wonder. It’s interesting to me because I didn’t have a Norman Rockwell childhood, but Christmas was somehow exempt from the various dramas that went on the rest of the time. I’m so grateful for that, and I believe it’s why I can slip so easily into effortless happiness with the first Christmas tree stand that goes up on Broadway. Being vegan means that some of the seasonal foods I eat are different from those of Christmases long ago, but that’s just part of the celebration. These days, when I put up my manger scene and unwrap the cow and the sheep and the little goats after their year in tissue paper, I think of the farmed animal sanctuaries I’ve visited and support, and how positive it is that at least a few animals have been rescued and more can be spared. It will only take more chipping away of old ideas, old prejudices, and old fears.

My commitment for Holiday Season 2014 is to give it a priority. You never know how many Christmases a life is going to have and I don’t want to miss anything, even when I can’t see the bottom of the email in-box keeping on top of all that seems immensely important. Here’s my plan: William and I will start the month with a 3-day juice cleanse. That’s not much for veteran juicers but it’s a little gift to the digestive system, none the less.

On the 8th, a smart and funny friend, Cathryn Michon, will be in town with her new feature film, Muffin Top: A Love Story, about one woman’s relationship with her midsection. It’s not a Christmas thing like tinsel and candy canes, but it’s very Christmas-y to me to celebrate splendors, and knowing that someone in my world has written, starred in, and raised the money for a feature film is incredibly inspiring. It helps me remember that all things are possible and makes me grateful that Christmas comes just before New Year’s visioning and goal-setting and stretching for more and better.

On the 15th, I’ll be bursting with pride as I attend the holiday fundraising dinner for Urban Utopia Wildlife, the center my daughter and two of her wildlife-rehabber colleagues have established to tend to sick and injured wild mammals. My little girl, who always excelled at theater and writing and creative pursuits, has grown into a woman keeping track of 501(c)3 organizational stuff, as well as getting up in the night to feed to the last of the fall’s orphaned baby squirrels. Adair is the only vegan in this fledgling organization and she’s convinced the other decision-makers to keep this, their second fundraiser, vegan, as was their party last summer. It’s such a curious thing: we vegans are a minority. We can push our agenda on the people around us, but if the food is great and the conversation stimulating, it’s not pushing an agenda anymore, it’s broadening a horizon. [Read more…]

Easy Vegan Holiday Entertaining by Lynne Agnew

If you like hosting small get-togethers with friends but are hesitant to do so during the hectic holiday season, read on for some ideas and suggestions that everyone will enjoy.  Keeping it simple and fun will allow you and your guests plenty of time to relax, catch up, and have a really good time.

Beginnings

Everyone wants to escape from the daily grind.  Set the mood with candles, twinkle lights and great music playing in the background when your guests arrive. Have a variety of beverages on hand: wine, beer, non-alcoholic drinks, and sparkling water. To make it special, use festive, gem-toned glasses from a retail store such as Christmas Tree Shops. They are inexpensive and if they accidentally get broken, it’s no big deal!

vegan entertaining 1

Cheese and crackers are a party staple.  In the past, most vegan cheeses left much to be desired.  Times are changing and there are many new brands available that are rich, creamy and delicious.  I was recently introduced to Miyoko Schinner’s products.  She’s from California and has been at it a while, developing the most intriguing flavors like High Sierra Rustic Alpine, French Style Winter Truffle and Aged English Sharp Farmhouse.   They are fantastic and getting rave reviews!

vegan entertaining 2

Chips and guacamole are easy to prepare and a crowd favorite.  Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top for a colorful touch.  A couple of great websites to learn more about these powerhouse fruits are californiaavocado.com and pomegranates.org.

vegan entertaining 3

The Main Event [Read more…]

Animals Are Our Friends: Farm Animal Sponsorship & Adoption by Carmella Lanni-Giardina, VLCE

“Animals are our friends” has been the moral of many instructive fables and childhood stories. The main characters, non-human animals, were endearing, and they’d become my friend, your friend, everyone’s friend. I couldn’t imagine anyone ever eating or harming them, because they were good animals who cared for others, did good deeds and taught valuable lessons. If they were in trouble, I would be sad, and vow to help them in any way I could.

I also grew up in an omnivorous home, eating animals at just about every meal. Never did we say we were eating animals. As a child, I would recap stories from my favorite books about amazing creatures. All the while, Grandma’s Chicken and String Beans were there on the plate, being devoured by ME. Even when visiting my great-uncle Tom’s backyard farm in South Carolina, I didn’t think twice about the animals that were on my plate versus those the pets running around his home, chickens and pigs among them,

Adopting veganism in my early 30s helped me to see that I had been contributing to the suffering of animals. Certainly, it wasn’t on purpose. It was that cognitive dissonance that didn’t make the connection between my non-human friends and WHO would be on my plate. Needless to say, I learned a new lesson: “Animals are our friends, not our food.” I vowed to help in any way I could.

Animal sponsorship programs, like Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Farm Animal Project, do just that. They tell real stories of individuals who are seen AND heard. These animals can touch your heart, make you laugh and cry and teach you something more than any storybook could. It doesn’t matter how near or far from you the animal you’re helping lives, you’ve given a gift to a special creature and her caretakers to make sure she and her loved ones have robust lives as intended.

This is why my husband and I sponsor animals as part of our donations to local shelters and sanctuaries. This year, after attending our second NY Country Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, we “adopted” Fanny, a beautiful cow we’ve met on both visits!

Fanny

This is also the fourth year, we’ve adopted a turkey from Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt A Turkey Project: Cecilia, one of twenty-four babies Farm Sanctuary recently saved from factory farming.

cecilia

In helping these few individuals, we show our love and compassion for all. By sharing stories of Fanny, Cecilia, and others, we can hope to have an effect on others who want to make a change, big or small, for all animals, including us humans. [Read more…]