Super Bowl Sunday | The Perfect Vegan Opportunity

Some of you may be wondering what I’ve been smokin’ when I say that Super Bowl Sunday is the perfect vegan opportunity. Most of you, if you’re into American Football, would normally cringe at the thought of going to a Super Bowl party once you decided to be vegan since it is usually a carnivore’s dream event full of meat, cheese and processed food. That tradition, however, is what makes it such a perfect opportunity for change.

Just like other traditions that don’t make sense, the typical foods served at a Super Bowl party are no longer what most people want to eat and they are certainly NOT things that leave the party-goers feeling good. The beautiful thing is that there are so many other options that seem just as decadent, indulgent and tasty but are NOT animal products or chemicals that will leave everyone feeling like crap.

So, if you’re up for the challenge and you’re either hosting a party or the guest of one, here are some great options to take Superbowl Sunday to a whole new vegan level!

PETA’s Party Picks – 9 amazing vegan recipes that mimic the classics

Vegetarian Times – Ultimate Vegan Chili

Ecorazzi – Top Ten Vegan Super Bowl Recipes

VegNews – Vegan Super Bowl Soiree (includes vegan alcoholic beverage info too!)

Mercy for Animals – Score Big by Hosting a Vegan Superbowl Party

Since the Super Bowl is also known for its commercials, I thought I’d toss in an example that not only advertises an incredible product, it reminds us that sometimes all we have to do is look around us to find the inspiration we need to be a better person, a better example and an advocate for the world we want to live in.

What’s your favorite party recipe? Please share it with everyone below!

Is The Yes Men’s reBurger Idea More Ironic Than They Thought?

I recently watched The Yes Men movie (the one released in 2003 NOT The Yes Men Fix the World)  and was struck by an ironic bit of activism that was included near the end.

If you don’t know who The Yes Men are, they are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. They aim to raise awareness about problematic social issues in unique and very public ways.

The movie follows them as they impersonate World Trade Organization spokesmen on TV and at business conferences around the world.

Their final act of activism (in the movie) was a lecture to a group of students from The State University of New York at Plattsburgh. The students were told that they were going to hear a lecture about ways to reduce starvation in third world countries by representatives of The World Trade Organization (WTO). What they got was something entirely unexpected:

What struck me is that their idea isn’t really far from the truth.

The beef that is used to make hamburgers is ‘produced’ by feeding cows waste products like chicken excrement, toxic heavy metals, antibiotics, the flesh and bones of dead cattle and even nails and small shards of glass (source: Grist.org). As the cows excrete massive amounts of their own waste (because their food has so little nutritional value) they are forced to stand in it along with thousands of pounds of waste from other cows. That waste eventually runs off into surrounding water supplies that can eventually be used to irrigate farms that grow food for human and animal consumption. I don’t really see a difference. Do you?

If you would like to learn more about The Yes Men, please visit their website.

Have you seen The Yes Men movie? Share your thoughts on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

“To accept the factory farm feels inhuman.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals has been on my list for a while and now that I’ve read it, I wish I had not taken so long. But a part of me must have known it was better that I waited – until I was truly ready.

This book has shifted my world and it has been a disturbing and revelatory journey. I can feel the seeds that were planted while reading his stories, experiences and conclusions slowly growing inside this little noggin’ of mine and I’m quite terrified of what is going to come of them!

Seriously – there is some pretty heavy stuff that has been floating around in there since I finished this book!

As upsetting as it was, I am so glad that it was Jonathan who guided me through the rationalizations, philosophies and astute observations in such a way that I could finish what he had started.

My heart and stomach cannot take much – if any – of the graphic details that are so prevalent in the conversations about factory farming but somehow he was able to present it in a way that I knew it was important that I know it, not just for shock value, but as building blocks to seeing the bigger picture.

Now that I have seen that picture, and recognize that I am not behind the camera observing but participating – by my action AND inaction – I realize I must act. Inertia, complacency and neutrality are not going to cut it when you are dealing with people who see everything as a commodity – who see animals and humans as expendable.

Everything is Illuminated Mr. Foer – and it’s all your fault!

Have you read Eating Animals? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Help the Hens in Battery Cages by Replacing Your Eggs

According to the American Egg Board, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs per year. That enormous amount is being produced by the more than 325 million egg laying hens confined in battery cages (small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows inside huge warehouses). Those shockingly high figures only represent 10% of worldwide egg production. Of course, this kind of massive production is in response to demand. Fortunately, demand is something we all have control over when making food choices for ourselves and our families.

My food choices became much easier for me a few years ago when I realized that I was eating an embryo of another animal when I was eating an egg. I distinctly remember the moment when I cracked an egg to discover 2 yolks and immediately had the image of twins in my mind. I realized that each egg I had eaten could have been a living thing if the natural course of events would not have been interrupted by an industry who knew I would buy what they were selling. Anyone else have the Incredible Edible Egg tune in their head right now?

So if you are disturbed by my last post and do not want to contribute to the suffering of animals, a seemingly small yet amazingly effective change you can make is to reduce or eliminate eggs from your diet. To make this a simple and easy decision, I wanted to give you some wannabe vegan options that are readily available, much healthier and guilt-free.

Each one of the following is equivalent to one egg:

  • 1/4 cup plain silken or soft organic tofu ( non-organic is made from GM soy)
  • 1 organic banana (assuming the flavor goes well with the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1/4 cup organic applesauce or pureed prunes (you may want to add 1/2 tsp baking powder to offset the heaviness of the fruit)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground organic flax seed in 3 Tbsp. water (my personal favorite for baking)

If you are looking to replace egg whites in a recipe:

  1. 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

There are also a lot of pre-made egg replacements you can buy at the grocery but I avoid using them. They have a lot of what I consider unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients because they need to be preserved in order to be shipped and sit on store shelves. It doesn’t make sense to me to replace something unhealthy with something potentially even more unhealthy because of convenience.

So, please take some small steps in the direction of compassion by using less or no eggs in your diet. I, along with all of the future hens who will be saved because of the reduction in demand, will be forever grateful.

If you want to learn more about hens in factory farms, please visit:

If you would like to see more statistics about egg production and consumption, the USDA website has very up-to-date reports and tables you can download.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about egg production or using egg replacements in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

How are Poultry Farms Affecting the Environment?

I had read sections of books about factory farming of poultry in the U.S., knew that it sounded awful, but I really didn’t feel like I knew the details. What I have discovered in this past week is very disturbing. I have written this post so that you can get a glimpse into what is going on. I am hoping that if you haven’t already, this may prompt you to stop buying and eating poultry all together. If you are already a vegetarian or vegan, I am hoping that it will provide the information you need to inform others who may still be buying and consuming poultry products.

First, poultry is defined as a category of domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of collecting their eggs, or killing them for their meat and/or feathers. This include chickens, turkeys, ducks, quails and pheasants. If the definition isn’t enough to turn your stomach, the way in which the process has evolved will.

As the need for eggs and meat have grown over the years, poultry companies have turned to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations aka ‘factory farming’ of the poultry in order to reduce costs and increase production. According to the National Chicken Council, more than 99% of the poultry consumed by humans are produced on these factory farms.

Now, at first, this may seem like a reasonable reaction aka ‘supply and demand’ but we are not talking about widgets here – we are talking about living creatures who are being confined in horrendous environments, workers being exposed to horrific amounts of chemicals and land being polluted by waste products.

All of this is going on in multiple areas of the United States and in most cases, the only people who knew about how it was changing the environment were the ones directly affected. But, I believe it has gone past that point; we are all affected by the environmental hazards being created by these massive poultry farms.

Although the conditions in these factory farms for the animals and the humans is a topic that should be discussed, I will postpone discussion of it in order to focus on the environmental aspects in this post.

Let’s look at a specific example of what these farms are doing to the land and the environment.

More than 600 million chickens a year are raised in the Delamarva Peninsula near the Chesapeake Bay. The chickens produce more manure than a city of four million people but instead of being handled like human waste, it is spread on fields. Poultry manure is extremely high in ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus – all considered serious potential pollutants. Half of the poultry manure that is spread on fields washes into the rivers and streams or gets into the groundwater. This means that toxic waste is going into the underground aquifers used for human drinking water and into natural bodies of water where it collects and wreaks havoc on the fragile ecosystems.

Ammonia is toxic to aquatic life and reduces the level of oxygen. Too much ammonia and other forms of nitrogen can lead to fish kills, reduced biodiversity, and growth of toxic organisms. These affects have been clearly seen in the Chesapeake Bay ‘dead zones.’ Some of these stretch for 100 miles down the central portion of the bay.

Poultry operations produce more excess nitrogen (meaning they cannot use the manure as fertilizer) than other animal producers because poultry  manure contains more nitrogen and poultry operations typically have a much smaller land area over which to spread manure. Nitrogen oxides, produced by the breaking down of manure contributes to accumulation of greenhouse gases. They also play an important role in the atmospheric reactions that create smog and acid rain.

If excessive amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen are added to bodies of water, algae and aquatic plants can be produced in large quantities. When these algae die, bacteria decompose them, and use up oxygen. When this happens, oxygen concentrations can drop too low for fish to breathe, leading to fish kills, and the premature ‘aging’ of a lake.

Unfortunately, this is happening all over the US. In places like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio, New Jersey, and Missouri whole communities are being adversely affected by the poultry factory farms. In some areas the odor around these factory farms is so toxic and harsh, people living nearby cannot breathe without gagging or coughing. Some people become nauseated, experience stomach cramps and diarrhea and develop sores on their mouths. The foul smell also attracts rats and flies which can sometimes overtake large areas near the factory farms including residences and small family farms.

As a wannabe vegan, there have been times I have been tempted to eat chicken (one of my favorites used to be Wendy’s Spicy Chicken sandwiches!) but this has solidified my resolve to never eat chicken or any other kind of poultry again. Not just for the sake of my health, but for the well being of all of those families that are being infected and affected by the pollution from these facilities. Please join me in learning as much as you can about what is happening and doing all you can to stop the practices that are ruining the environment we live in.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about eating too much protein in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

For more information, please visit:

What happens when you eat too much protein?

As a follow up to my last post, I thought I would elaborate on what can happen to your body when you consume too much protein.

If you take in more protein than your body needs:

  1. you are also taking in more nitrogen so your kidneys have to work overtime to expel the extra urea and ketones through your urine. The additional strain over a long period of time may cause kidney disease.
  2. you are more prone to being dehydrated and mineral deficient (mostly calcium) since the process of expelling the extra protein leaches these from your system. This may lead to osteoporosis and kidney stones.
  3. you are more likely to development food allergies because the stress on your digestive system to rid itself of the extra protein can make you more susceptible
  4. by consuming animal protein, you are more prone to obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer because of the high cholesterol, natural carcinogens and absence of fiber in meat and dairy products. Processed meat ‘foods’ are the worst.

Symptoms of too much protein include:

  1. Headaches
  2. Body aches
  3. Mucous production when you eat
  4. Food allergies
  5. Bone and tooth decay
  6. Arthritis (high uric acid levels eat away at the cartilage in joints)

So what should everyone do to make sure they are getting enough, but not too much protein? First, get a good mix of proteins by eating a variety of foods. Eat a diverse and balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, bean, nuts, and whole grains to give your body what it needs. Second, exercise and drink lots of water. This will help your kidneys flush waste out of your system more effectively. Third, make sure you are getting enough calcium. Good, whole food sources of calcium are sesame seeds, spinach, and collard greens.

Balance is what is all about. So with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, be sure to remember to be gentle with your body and eat in moderation so that you will be healthy enough to be grateful in the coming year.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about eating too much protein in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

Are you dreading Thanksgiving?

To be honest, Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. I could never understand why everyone would want to get together with people they never see otherwise (and usually have unresolved issues with!) and gorge themselves on food until they make themselves immobile. The only thing that kept me going through the whole ordeal was knowing I could have a slice of pumpkin pie.

Now that I am a wannabe vegan, I am dreading this holiday even more. The thought of seeing the turkey on the table and knowing what it had to go through to get there feels me with dread. I can’t imagine I will have much of an appetite, let alone be able to eat heartily and enjoy myself. But shifting my perspectives is what becoming vegan is all about, so I really want to try and make Thanksgiving enjoyable again and something I look can forward to.

Have a Happy Vegan Thanksgiving!

After doing a bit of soul searching, I came up with the following perspective-shifting thoughts. I am hoping that they will help me handle the combination of family, food and being vegan on the 25th just a bit more easily and positively:

  1. I choose to think of being vegan as being a simple dietary choice. Just like some people don’t like to eat okra, I don’t like to eat animal products. Simple as that. When someone tells you they don’t like okra you normally don’t give them any grief unless you are a big okra fan but even then, it is usually just a, “Really? I can’t believe you don’t like okra. It’s the best!” and then the conversation moves on. If I treat my  choice to be vegan in the same way, hopefully others will follow suit and not make a big deal about it.
  2. I realized that being invited into someone’s home for Thanksgiving is a nice gesture that shouldn’t be taken lightly. They are letting me know that they value my presence and are willing to spend a lot of time and effort to make the experience an enjoyable one for me and everyone else. The best way to reciprocate the gesture is to be an appreciative guest. I plan on doing this by bringing a vegan dish or two of my own that I know people will like. This guarantees that I will have something to eat (which will help me feel less stressed about the situation) and will hopefully introduce others to some yummy recipes.
  3. At the dinner, I plan on keeping a positive attitude about being vegan. If anyone wants to know more about my choices, I will reply in an upbeat manner. I will tell them about all of the positive changes it has made in my life and to my heath instead of feeding into the common misunderstanding that it is all about restrictions. I know that if remember that people are just trying to understand, it will be a lot easier to be compassionate and understanding of their views as well. Isn’t that what being vegan is really all about anyway?

Even just writing these down has made me feel better about the whole prospect of Thanksgiving. I hope it has given you something to consider before the holiday arrives so that your experience is enjoyable too.

What do you think? How have you handled Thanksgiving as a vegan? Please share your comments and tips below.