Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just Say No: A Lobster Tale


One of my best friends is getting married!   Her sister, myself and two of our other best friends are throwing her a bridal shower, and last night we met to discuss the menu.   Obviously most of the people at this shindig, including the bride herself, are NOT vegan!  Since I am not into forcing my beliefs on anyone, I quietly offered to make vegan spring rolls.  These are always a huge hit whether you are a vegan or not, so it is a small but important effort for my cause.  I am fine with the fact that there will be meat eaten at this party.  That is just a fact of life at this point. People love their meat, and can not imagine a world without it.  I am the crazy one in this scenario, and I own it proudly!  One day I won't seem so crazy.  BUT I digress...  

As we were figuring out the menu, one of the other items that came up as a must have food was a lobster salad.  Now let me say first that the reason I am writing this post is because I need to encourage myself to say "NO!" to the temptation to eat the lobster.  Yes I make my own rules, and I can do whatever I want, but what I want to do is never eat another living creature again.  Even if it is a creature that I have previously salivated over and longed for.  For me, lobster is that creature.  I have always loved lobster.  My Grammie used to buy them live and throw them into the boiling water with no problem at all.  I always had to be out of the room, because even then I knew that that something about it wasn't quite right.  But at that point, being out of the room while they died was enough for me, and I was able to enjoy them once they were dead and on my plate.  I tried not to think about the pain they went through to get there.  However, obviously now I am in a different place, and I can't just ignore it anymore.  As much as I love how they taste, and as easy as it would be to "just have a little" as one of my friends suggested to me last night, I can't in good conscious eat lobster anymore.  So here I am, writing my blog to encourage myself to stay strong.  

I did a little research and found out some really fascinating facts about lobsters.  Lobsters carry their young for nine months, and can live to be 100 years old!!  I also found an article written by author David Foster Wallace for Peta and in it he writes, "According to invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley, 'The lobster does not have an autonomic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut. ... I think the lobster is in a great deal of pain from being cut open ... [and] feels all the pain until its nervous system is destroyed' during cooking. "  That thought is horrifying to me.  How can we feel good about eating a creature that is horribly tortured before it gets to our plate!?  All animals feel pain!  Why is this not a problem for more people?! You can read the full article by David Foster Wallace here: Lobster and Crab Article.

I also read that Rhode Island (and I would bet most New England as well) has put a limit on the amount of lobsters that can be caught by fishermen because their numbers are fast diminishing due to over fishing and disease.  Ever wonder why lobsters cost so much?  They are a finite resource, and we won't have them around forever at the rate we are going.  You can check out the article here: Lobster Regulations Article.

As much as I love the taste of lobster, it is not worth it for me anymore.  I can't just shrug it off, or pretend that I don't know what that poor thing had to go through to be on my plate. I can't make those justifications now that I know what I know. I am learning that how something tastes is not a good enough reason to eat it, especially if it is an animal who deserves to live, but has had to suffer instead.  The humane treatment of ALL creatures, even the funny looking ugly ones,  is what should really matter.   


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eat Your Veggies!


It's been almost three months since I started on this vegan journey, and I am still going strong and feeling even more empowered than ever!  When I first started I felt a little bashful telling people that I was going vegan.  For whatever reason I just assumed that people would roll their eyes and not take me seriously, and I didn't want to make a scene.  Little by little I have come out of my vegan shell, and I now feel very confident telling people proudly that I am a vegan.  Most of the time I am greeted with questions and concerns, but not with rolling eyes or negative judgments, and if I do get a negative reaction, I am not afraid to face it.  Luckily and most importantly my friends and family have been nothing but supportive and encouraging, which has been so wonderful.

The one thing that I have been really surprised by is how little people actually know about what it means to be a vegan.  Then it occurs to me that most people don't really think about where their food comes from, and most people don't see a connection between what they choose to eat and how that might contribute to the suffering of an animal or the destruction of the environment. The factory food industry has obviously done it's job keeping us blinded!  This fact inspires me even more.  Ignorance is NOT bliss!  I still don't want to "yuck anyone's yum" but I am not as afraid to tell people (who ask) exactly why I am am a vegan...even if it might be a little uncomfortable to hear. Do I expect that my spiel will magically make people change their diets and life styles? Of course not!!!  But I do hope that it will open their eyes to something they might have been ignorant about before, and maybe cause them to think about where they buy their food and what they buy the next time they are out grocery shopping.

I am very happy that I finally made the decision to be vegan, and that it has been this easy and fulfilling.  Veganism is impacting my life in many ways, and hopefully rubbing off in little ways on the people around me.  Eat your veggies!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring for Bright Green Spinach and Zucchini Soup!

Spring is upon us!  What a better way to celebrate the happy new growth of Spring than with a bright green soup!  I found this recipe from this great site called 101 Cookbooks.  It's a site that focuses on whole, healthy food recipes, and has a big selection of vegan friendly dishes as well.  I had a hard time deciding which recipe to try first, but this one caught my eye so I went with it!!  While it is a soup, it has really fresh, light flavors, so it doesn't feel heavy or wintery.  It might even be good served cold too!

Spinach and Zucchini Soup

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped*
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
big pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups potatoes (2 medium) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups zucchini (2 medium), loosely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups fresh spinach leaves, loosely packed
1 cup cilantro, loosely chopped
one lemon

In a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes along with a pinch of salt- just until they soften up a bit.  Stir in the potatoes and zucchini.  Add the stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft throughout, roughly 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, and wait for it to wilt, just ten seconds or so.  Now stir in the cilantro.  Pure with a hand blender (or if you don't have one, ladle batches into a blender and blend a bit at a time) until smooth.  

Whisk in a big squeeze of lemon juice.  Now taste, and add more salt if needed.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve!

*I am really terrible at following directions exactly (I'm of the -rules are made to be broken-mind set), so I mostly just eyeballed the amounts. I left out the garlic, I didn't measure anything, and it still turned out great! Moral of the story is don't be afraid to substitute or leave things out if you don't like them!  If you have someone who wants dairy, you can add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream at the end.  Also, This recipe makes A LOT of soup, so if you don't want left overs, just cut everything in half. 

YUM!  Even  my boyfriend Phil who hates anything healthy (especially if it's green) liked this soup!  Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Change Will Do You Good

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other....  ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Meet your pigs 2

Believe it or not, all it takes is one person to make a change.  It's easy to make excuses, "what difference can one person make?" But one person CAN make a difference!!  The average person consumes 31 animals per year!!  That's just ONE PERSON!  Imagine if just that one person stopped eating meat for an entire year. Think about how many animals that one person would save!   It is impossible to ignore the pain and suffering that our food choices have on other animals, our environment, and on our health.  But ok, if you don't have a bleeding heart for the ethical treatment of animals, what about having a heart for the ethical treatment of YOURSELF!  Heart disease is the LEADING cause of death in the United States.  The link between our mass consumption of all things animal and increased rates of heart disease is UNDENIABLE!  Our country is overweight and unhealthy, and our consumption of meat and cheese has never been higher.  The connection is clear, and I think the answer is too.  We have the opportunity to fix a lot of problems with one change.  Cutting down our consumption of meat and dairy will improve our health AND help save our environment at the same time.  This is the logical next step in our evolution as a society.

Let me put it to you this way: can you imagine not recycling?   There was a time not so long ago when recycling was just not a priority.  However, we realized that if we didn't make a change and start to "reduce, reuse and recycle" we would eventually be living in a world of trash.  Even though this is still a work in progress as most things are, now a days people go to extremes to make sure they recycle, and we can hardly remember a time when we didn't. Our world is better for it, and I doubt anyone would argue with that.  Well, now we have a new challenge and a need to make another change.  Factory farming is destroying our world. Factory farming alone is responsible for an insane amount of destruction to our environment, and the statistics are staggering.

It seems like a no brainer to me.  Simply cutting back on your consumption of meat and dairy will have positive effects on your health and your environment,  and it will save countless numbers of helpless animals from unnecessary torture.  I am not asking you to cut meat and dairy out altogether, though I can now say that I don't think it's as hard as most people think it is.  I believe that you can make a difference by simply cutting back on your consumption of animal products, and by making sure that the meat and dairy you do eat is from responsible, organic local farms!!

I urge you to educate yourself, and consider the possibility that you don't have to eat meat and dairy at every meal.  Consider that maybe your health and your environment are more important than eating that cheese burger.  This is bigger that what tastes good. We can't continue to consume the way we do.  Even a little change will go a long way.

Check out these links for some more facts on some of the things I have touched on here:
Global Warming
The UN urges us to lower meat consumption!
Environmental Effects
Harm to Animals
Your Health
Slaughter Statistics from 2000

You can make a difference!


Friday, April 1, 2011


As a new vegan, I am constantly wondering if I am getting the proper nutrition.  I know that there are a lot of vitamins and minerals that I don't get by not eating dairy and meat.  I have learned a lot though researching on my own, but I am definitely going to make a visit to a Dr. and to a nutritionist to make sure that my body has everything it needs to run well!  When you start cutting things out of your diet, you have to balance yourself out!  Just because someone is a vegan doesn't mean that they are healthy, and I want to make sure I am getting everything I need!

Apparently most vegans take a daily B12 supplement because it can only be found in animal products, and since I don't eat anything that came from an animal, I don't get any B12!  B12 is a super important vitamin that is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.  I don't want to mess up the production of that stuff, so I am taking B12 once daily.   

I know there is a whole slew of other vitamins that I need, some of which I can get though my food, and others I will need to take supplements in addition to.  In general I prefer to get all my nutrients though the food source itself, but in this case I might not always have that option.

Here is a website I came across that breaks down the vitamins vegans should be making sure they take, and in what quantities.  I found it very helpful, but nothing can replace the advice you get from a medical professional!  VeganHealthVitamins