Friday, July 30, 2010

Articles: NYTimes, Animal- Cruelty Syndrome

Though a bit lengthy (7-pages), this article is worth taking the few extra moments to read in full. I've quoted the last two paragraphs below:

"Equine-therapy programs, for example, are now helping an increasing number of teenagers who have severe emotional and behavioral issues, as well as children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. At Aspen Ranch in Loa, Utah, troubled teenagers are being paired off with wild mustangs that have been adopted from the Bureau of Land Management, each species ultimately managing to temper the other, a dynamic that has also proved very effective in teaching patience and empathy to prisoners in correctional facilities. In the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, there is a youth equestrian program called the Compton Junior Posse. Teenagers clean stables, groom horses and then ride them in amateur equestrian events across Southern California. There are now bovine- and elephant-assisted therapy programs as well.

For Lockwood, animal-therapy programs draw on the same issues of power and control that can give rise to animal cruelty, but elegantly reverse them to more enlightened ends. “When you get an 80-pound kid controlling a 1,000-pound horse,” he said, “or a kid teaching a dog to obey you and to do tricks, that’s getting a sense of power and control in a positive way. We all have within us the agents of entropy, especially as kids. It’s easier to delight in knocking things down and blowing stuff up. Watch kids in a park and you see them throw rocks at birds to get a whole cloud of them to scatter. But to lure animals in and teach them to take food from your hand or to obey commands, that’s a slower process. Part of the whole enculturation and socialization process is learning that it’s also cool and empowering to build something. To do something constructive.”

Dining: The Raven's Mendocino, Chef Kyle Evans in O Magazine.

One of my near and dear vegan businesses, The Ravens, is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant located at the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, CA. My first best friend (we've known each other since preschool) is the daughter of the owners of the Inn and Luxury Coastal Resort that is animal friendly and boasts an large, on-site organic garden, llama pastures, and ocean views. I spent a lot of time growing up on the grounds with my best friend, and it was so wonderful to have other vegetarians in my life (I was the only one in my family), who are now also life-long vegans.

Their current Chef was recently featured in O magazine, and I've been slacking as far as blog posts, but I wanted to share THIS ARTICLE HERE. Congrats Kyle! The Ravens is not only my favorite because I adore the owners, but the food is absolutely phenomenal (fresh veggies picked from the garden daily for their gourmet menu).

I'm heading back to the West Coast in September and am definitely looking forward to dining at the Raven's at least once... for breakfast, and for dinner.

Information: Dangers of Genetically Modified Milk

An article about hazards in relation to drinking dairy milk is quoted below:

"...the abnormalities in rBGH milk also include excess levels of the natural insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in rBGH milk, with increases ranging up to 20-fold. Based on six unpublished industry studies, FDA admitted that IGF-1 levels in rBGH milk were consistently and statistically increased, and that they were further increased by pasteurization. These increases were also admitted by Eli Lilly Industries in their application for marketing authorization in the European Community. It should also be noted that pasteurization of milk increases its IGF-1 levels by a further 70 percent.

IGF-1 is a protein fraction known as a peptide. As such, it survives digestion and is readily absorbed into the blood. It has been shown to have marked growth promoting effects following short-term feeding tests in rats. Most importantly, increased IGF-1 levels have been reported to increase risks of breast cancer by seven times in 19 scientific publications, colon cancer by five times in 19 publications, and prostate cancer by up to 5 percent in six publications."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dining: Kerby Lane

I've been meaning to visit Kerby Lane for two years now, and finally in all my time living in Austin finally made it to the local diner that boasts vegan-friendly diner food, 24 hours.

Unfortunately the Vegan Breakfast Platter is no longer offered (a plate with vegan pancakes, vegan tofu scramble and soysause), they still have a daily pancake special (one vegan one nonvegan), and several menu options that are vegan-friendly (soup special daily, potatoes-hash browns, home fries etc, desserts etc). I'm not sure if the vegan platter has just been off'ed at the one we went to (NorthWest Location) or if all Five Locations no longer serve it... I'll have to ask next time I go.

I ordered a plate of hummus and tabbouleh, which for a diner was actually pretty decent. The fresh OJ was super good, and their coffees are all fair-trade. My plate:

Here's a photo of the vegan dessert on the dessert Menu, Mocha Tofu Cheesecake...

 So in conclusion, its definitely a vegan-friendly diner, the food was decent (its a diner), and I will definitely be heading back there to try their pancakes, late night desserts, and whatever else that's vegan friendly on their menu.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Recipes: Freezer Food, Beans

Where have I been? My summer accounting classes have been kicking my butt, but in a good way! I've been learning tons of great stuff about Business Tax Forms, general bookkeeping, and how to prepare my own and analyze other company's financial statements. Bookkeeping a great vegan career, no animals are harmed in the making, because we only crunch numbers (:P). My goal is to help small vegan-friendly businesses be as successful as possible, so wish me luck! Only two more classes to go and I will have finished my Summer Course-Load :)

I have been the main chef of my household, but since I've started taking night classes my husband's been pitching in after his long work days to feed us... to make it easier on him I've done this, and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a lot of time to cook every night, but loves yummy home-cooked meals.

The top shelf of our freezer has frozen tupperwares full of home-cooked, black beans, and the bottom self is home-cooked lentils... all from scratch.

For both recipes I started with dry beans (black beans, and lentils respectively) and soaked them (about 6-7 cups each) in a large pot filled with enough water to generously submerge all beans, and a tablespoon of salt. The longer you soak the less time you will need to cook them, I like to soak for an hour and do other things then come back to it, just remember to cover.

After soaking I turned the heat on and brought to a boil, then brought the heat all the way down to low. This is where the two recipes differ:


Added- 1 chopped onion, several cloves of chopped garlic, a handful of chopped jalapenos, 1-2 tablespoons of Chili Powder, a teaspoon of cumin, cracked pepper and a few large chunks of potato (NOTE: Potato when cooked in beans absorbs the stuff in beans that gives you gas... So when I serve/eat my beans I avoid eating the potato).

Optional: You can also add a bay leaf or two, Soy Rizo, or other veggie protein, and bell peppers are good in it too.


Added- 1 chopped onion, several cloves of chopped garlic, a handful of chopped jalapenos, (we add that into just about everything we eat/cook), 1-2 tablespoons of yellow Sweet Bombay Curry Powder, 2 teaspoons of Cumin, 2 vegan bouillon cubes, a couple heaping tablespoons of dried parsley flakes, and some cubed potatoes (these ones I always eat).

Optional: You can also add other veggies like broccoli, bell pepper, kale, spinach, carrots, whatever you wish.


For both large pots (I cooked them on separate days), I stirred in all my ingredients and let everything slowly cook on low heat for an hour + until the beans were soft. After it was all cooked I scooped into tubs (avoiding as much of the liquid as possible) to seal and freeze and that was that. The left-over liquid I saved and made soup with to eat after I was done.

To re-heat, I'll take one tub out of the freezer and place on a dish towel on the counter to defrost for an hour or so... then I like to re-heat on the stove with whatever veggies (or veggie protein) I want to add to make it taste fresher. But since all the heavy lifting is already done, you can also just microwave and eat as is. Then place the rest of the tupperware in the fridge (if you don't eat it all) and after defrosted it will last for a week or so.

Great to eat as soup (add broth), in tacos, or however... I want to try to experiment with mashing the beans into homemade veggie patties... will post when I try it. GOOD LUCK!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Information: New Facebook Fan Page

As of today I have created a Facebook Fan Page HERE. Check it out and hit, "like," and I'll do something nice in return. Thank you! I love my readers <3 xoxoxo

Fashion: Vegan Beauty for Weddings

Shoot! This whole post was accidentally deleted... here we go again...

Last weekend I had some of my favorite vegan ladies come over to my house so I could practice some hair and make-up on them. This September my childhood BFF is getting married and she asked me to style her and all of us bridesmaids (four, myself included). She wants bright lips, and messy ballerina buns on us, and she wants to show off her beautiful long hair in a romantic, half-up style with loose, natural 70s waves. It was a lot of fun to do some trials on these beautiful ladies, I'm so grateful to have such great friends here, who I have met through VRA (Vegans Rock Austin), and Even though I'm a time zone away (I'm in Texas, the bride/wedding is in California) with the joys of the internet I can feel more involved with the planning process... Check out the photos I sent back to the bride- using all vegan beauty products.

Make-Up Model: Chris

Make-Up Model: Daniela

 Hair and Make-Up Model: J. (Bridesmaids)

 Hair and Make-Up Model: J. (Bride)

 And Here I am... testing on myself in the bridesmaid dress (sent to Bride):


Zuzu Liquid Liner in Raven, and Mascara in Onyx
Urban Decay Eyebrow Combo Pencil, Brow Beater in Light Blonde
Beauty Without Cruelty Liquid Liner in Black

Zuzu lip liner in Cherry
Urban Decay Lipstick in Revolution


*Tip: Check out the VEGAN section of Urban Decay's ONLINE STORE. Awesome!

Kusco-Murphy Lavender Cream and Beach Hair (for smoothing and texture)

Philosophy: Outside Looking In

To any non-vegans this one's for you! Though I don't speak for all vegans, I speak beliefs and viewpoints honestly, as A (singular) vegan.

This scenario has happened time and time again and I do not like it. If you've done this to me before I give you the benefit of the doubt that you were not intentionally trying to make me uncomfortable, or frustrated, so I'm simply letting you know it bothers me. When I am with people from work, (or family, or non-vegan friends- though most times its people who don't know me as well on a personal level that do this) I tend to be introduced as, "The Vegan."

"Hello Everybody. I want you to meet Tyler. She's a vegan."

The term Vegan isn't offensive, its who I am, true. Its not a lie, its a true statement. So what's the problem?

Though "being a vegan" does involve restraining myself from consuming animal products (which most non-vegans seem to view only as a diet- "You're vegan? Oh you just eat carrots,"), its the closest thing that I have to a religion, political view, and philosophical perspective on life. To me and many others, its not just a diet.

I am used to being the token vegan, and the friends that I make have generally been on the basis of similar interests, creative pursuits, career choices, age (more or less), and location. How I think friends should be made. Only recently have I been fortunate enough to find a great network of vegans here in Austin. Vegan friends! It feels so luxurious! The only other time in my life when I was actually surrounded by people "like me" was in college. Very few of those old vegan friends are still vegan to this day... due the fact that they have more money (yes I said MORE money, being vegan is one of the cheapest ways to live, especially on a student's budget), they did it just to meet vegan chicks, or wanted to fit in with a crowd/sub culture. I don't think that any of those are "the wrong" reasons to be vegan, it just seems that none of them stand the test of time. I digress.

In England I met one other vegan I spent time with and tried to seek out others and found two punk rockers with mohawks that were vegan, but they had crazy jealous punk girlfriends that wore spikes and I was scared would beat me up if I hung around their boyfriends too much (though I wasn't interested in dating either of them). So I didn't want to be the 5th wheel and stir anything up. I figured making other friends who were more accessible was better than seeking out British Vegans, just to find more vegans. Plus they were few and far between. In San Francisco I met one as well through work, but I don't think she liked me- because guess what, we are people too! Just because we're vegan doesn't mean we'll all get along. And that was it! All of my other friends, weren't like me. They weren't vegan. Being the odd one out isn't a bad thing, but sometimes it can feel like you're being thrown in the shark-tank when that differentiating characteristic is all that other people see.

Imagine this. You have a friend. You are extremely FAR Left-wing Liberal. Your friend, who you adore and have a lot of great times with is Conservative. You two get along extremely well, but when it comes to politics you are opposites. One day you want to bring your friend to a party. Since you are so Far Left, all of your friends just happen to be Far Left Liberals too. This is the first time your Republican friend meets any of these people, and you think he's GREAT, regardless of the political difference. When you introduce him to everyone do you say, "Hey everyone! This is my friend Stewart. He's a Republican!"

Stewart isn't embarrassed by his beliefs, they are his own; however, labeling him as the token Republican in a room full of Green Party, Liberal Dems would put your friend in an extremely uncomfortable position. Don't you think? Its not very nice to your friend, and its not taking his feelings into consideration- regardless of how opposite your beliefs are- he still has feelings just like you do.

Or how about this. You have another friend, Sally. Sally is an excellent friend. Or no, lets say an excellent employee, or better yet, an excellent boss. Your boss is pro-choice, while you were raised in a Christian household and are pro-life. When you introduce your boss to your Christian, Pro-Life family as a way to improve your work relationship, do you say: "Hey everyone! I would like you to meet Sally. She is Pro-Choice!"?

You may, you may not, but my point being is that labeling Sally as a pigeon-holed role of embodying an entire, larger-encompassing set of morals, philosophies, religion, politics, and school of thought in one small piece of that puzzle (the fact that she is "pro-choice") is taking a very small piece of her grander, larger, set of values and obliterating them. Though it might bring up some interesting conversations, chances are the first time you meet someone people want to talk about the weather, and start things off slowly before treading through high-tension waters. Its uncomfortable and quite frankly rude.

So in conclusion, what I mean by this is that being vegan isn't limited to a small piece of my life that consists of only eating vegetables. There are much larger implications that draw on spirituality, higher education, politics, environmentalism, animal rights, morals, and perception. Its a full way of life, and though I'm not ashamed of who I am, and how I've chosen to continue my life as a vegan, its not always the most appropriate to trivialize these deeply ingrained values and moral codes as disposable small talk. Because unless someone asks me about my lifestyle, chances are new people don't want to hear what I have to say about my vegan "religion," "politics," and "philosophies."

And that's their choice. Personally? I don't want other people unloading their religions on me unless I ask them to. There is a time and a place. Unless I feel comfortable enough to introduce myself as a vegan, I generally don't feel comfortable having that be the FIRST thing that people know about me. 

Let's face it, there are a lot of stereotypes out there, and time and again when I'm introduced as The Vegan in a room full of non-vegans people will automatically assume that I am rich, stuck-up, holier-than-thou, judgmental, and weak before having a single conversation with me. I would like to start proving this misconception wrong, so unless I feel in safe enough company, or a comfortable enough environment to open up about my way of life, can you please notice my other less controversial qualities first when introducing me? (This is Tyler, she's from California, studied English, is a Bookkeeper, is a writer, Loves to cook, Loves vintage fashion and cars, Loves animals... etc).

Any other vegans reading this ever feel the same way? Or is it just me and my abhorrence of small talk that makes it hard for me to smile and shrug when I feel strongly about something but feel obligated to hold my tongue when in mixed company?