Remember the movie An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore’s documentary from 2006)? What a perfect name for how we prefer to ignore facts which are uncomfortable for us, such as climate change. I was recently struck by how very little we are willing to give up for either the greater good, or for the future, simply in the name of convenience.
Even though our population has doubled since I was born, and I am not yet 50, we use all our resources as if they are infinite. We buy and throw so much away with abandon because it is cheap, but there is a hidden price.
We need to adapt. And we need to do it quickly. I’m definitely not perfect, but I try to do what I can and think about my choices every day. It may be a little annoying to remember to bring your reusable bags… but is it really that difficult? It’s easier just to grab that one-use cup for your coffee drink, but that plastic will live on for 500 years.
We’re fortunate enough in our city to have compost pick up from our house. It has reduced our garbage by more than half. This is not a hardship to scrape our scraps into a compost bin rather than the garbage. If you don’t have curb side pick up, you will need to make a larger effort for the same result. Throwing away food, napkins, and other compostable materials means this waste goes into landfill and because it cannot biodegrade inside a plastic liner, it will create methane. There are many reasons to compost.
I heard a recent news article on the radio about autonomous driving, and how in the future we won’t need multiple cars per family just sitting unused most of the time at great expense. Cars are driven by a single occupant 75% of the time, and are parked 95% of the time. So, ride-sharing, public transportation, and the idea of community cars makes a lot of sense. Change is coming.
We need to get over our sense of entitlement and start living like we do not have instant gratification at our fingertips.
There are always steps we can each take as we think about what we consume. Reduce, reuse and recycle.
And, three times a day, you can choose to eat less (or no) meat. Feeding, watering, transporting, medicating, disposing of their waste, and slaughtering animals takes more water, land and resources than plant-based foods. Not to mention the pollution and carbon output.
If making such a small change, such as eating less meat is too difficult, we are in for a very rough time ahead.
It has now been almost a month since the elections. I started this blog post on November 14, but needed to sit with it awhile. I’m reading the news, tweets, comments and how each side spins it. Basically Trump can do nothing right for those who oppose him, and can do nothing wrong for his supporters. In fact he bragged about this during the primaries“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.”
I read a comment the other day about the controversy over the Hamilton/Pence speech, “America stood up and spoke. There will always be those who don’t like what was said, scared of change, being held accountable or worse, not being able to force ones views onto the masses…” I couldn’t tell at first what side this person was choosing. It turns out they feel “America” chose this President, but right after the election we had almost half of eligible voters not even voting, and then around 25% each for Trump and Clinton, so believing that the majority who did not want Trump will now happily accept him, is just wishful thinking.
I spent the week after the election results feeling distraught. Not like a cry baby or sore loser, but sick to my stomach. I’ve lived through many elections that “didn’t go my way” in the last almost 30 years that I have been able to vote. I have felt annoyed, angered, frustrated, incredulous (especially Bush Jr- 2nd term), but this is the first time I have felt genuinely afraid. And I’m not even on the list of groups under attack.
Those who voted for Trump should be happy and not needing to also dig a further trench between us. Even if you think you were mocked. You “won”. But, it’s not a sports game, and we are all actually on the same side. This partisanship makes me sick. Calling each other deplorable, libtards, demorats, ignorant: all the insults lobbed back and forth. It didn’t help, and it shut us off from actually listening to each other. This article sums up the divisiveness that split the nation especially hard for this election:“Politics is the art of compromise, and in this age of red-hot emotions and customized news feeds — really, you don’t have to ever read anything that conflicts with your beliefs — compromise is too often scorned…”.
At first my biggest concern was for the climate because as it changes for the worse, everything worsens. Black Lives Matter, Women, LGBQT, animals, we all are going to suffer. We all would love to believe that the world will always be habitable for us, but unless you also don’t believe in dinosaurs, we need to do what we can to extend our window. I’m worried for my kids, my young niece, and all those who will face the consequences.
After seeing how this is all unfolding, I am starting to be more concerned immediately about our foreign relations. I would be happy to be proved wrong, believe me. I’m not seeing what his supporters are seeing, and it is truly hard to fathom how this will end well.
The idea of compromise has played a large part in how I try to interact with basically everyone since 2012. I researched what was happening with animal agriculture and welfare, and took a stance that is not shared by the majority of people. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be persuasive and bring awareness and information about how serious this issue is without making others feel alienated. The meat and dairy industry absolutely do not want us to think about this impact, and they have all the money and political power. The animals and planet can’t speak. I watch as we destroy our earth and our fellow inhabitants and understand the frustration when people won’t listen. For years, I’ve been in the minority of people concerned about this link with animals/pollution/destroying the rain forest. I have heard that people don’t stop eating meat because they were yelled at, called names or shown facts. They need to feel like they are listened to and find common ground before they will accept a different view.
I would apply that same lesson to politics. No one will listen to you if you attack them. We need to find some common ground to unite. Hopefully on the issue that we should all be able to agree on: clean water and air.
Those of us who do have serious concerns about this new administration are not going to go away or be quiet, and mocking us won’t change that. We’ll be here, working on change. I can only hope we can reach out to others and work towards a better future.
The story below is reposted from January 2013. We are now on our second lease with a newer Leaf, and it is now around $200 month, but the battery is much better and goes farther. We continue to love this car! When our lease runs out, the 2018 looks very promising. The electricity cost has not been noticeable at all- we charge it at our home and it takes about 2 hours. We charge it every 2-3 days.
I never expected to love the Nissan Leaf. We needed to replace our second car, and I had my heart set on a Prius. I realize it is not that sustainable to even own one or two cars, but if I drew you a map of where we live, work and the two separate schools our children attend, they are all in completely different directions about 4 miles apart. Somehow, with just commuting around, we were driving at least 50 miles/day.
Neither my husband or I even get excited about cars at all. In my perfect world, I would love to be in walking distance of everything, and we may get closer to that ideal. For now, I was ready to go into the Prius dealership and walk out with a car. Then my husband mentioned the Leaf. And to be honest, I didn’t consider it to be a strong possibility at all. It just seems too early adopter (to me), and confusing. But to be fair, I said I would check it out. We did a little test drive, and I was surprised by how much it just seemed like a regular car. Quieter, but accelerating and driving normally, and the interior was familiar but much cooler than any of our other cars.
I started thinking seriously about it. But, $36,000 was way more than we wanted to spend. Right now there is a $7,500 energy incentive that knocks that price down quite a bit. But still high for this new technology. There was a 2011 used Leaf for $20,000 on the lot with only about 6,000 miles on it. But, the other concern is what happens in 4 or 5 years when everything has progressed even further and you are stuck with an old model?
We went home and thought about it, and saw an ad in the paper for a lease option. Usually I feel like leasing is a bad idea since we are the type to keep the car until it dies of old age. In this case, it would give us the opportunity to try it while not being locked into it. Two years down the road, prices may be lower and battery life longer.
If you are even considering trying electric, it is a really good time to lease right now. We got ours at Nissan of Portland for $89/month (plus almost $4,000 down payment). I am almost embarrassed to admit how cheap it was. Literally, that would be our cost of gas anyway in a month, so I feel like we get to try it for practically nothing. The guys there were great!
If it is something you are thinking about- the special ends Jan 31. And, we are hoping that we also get a free charging station installed at our house as part of this deal (we applied for it). Either way, last night it charged completely on our 110 volt outlet. After that, the 2013 comes out, which is probably an even better car, and it’s price is way lower than the 2012.
What is the downside? Well, honestly, I wouldn’t do this if this was our only car unless you never want to go more than around town. And, I would only do it if your commute is mostly city street driving. It seriously hogged miles on the freeway going to Tigard yesterday (hills plus speed plus climate control and 4 people). But on the streets, it is perfect. And the electric chargers are scattered around at some Fred Meyers and other spots, I expect there to be more as there are more adopters.
We are fighting over who gets to drive it. Kids love that the back seat has seat warmers. There is much to learn about this car, as it is a little like driving around a giant cell phone. Like programming it to warm up in the morning (from your phone). I feel great about never going to the gas stations, zero emissions, and the lack of maintenance like oil changes.
Well, that’s my unpaid commercial for Leaf, as a complete amateur to electric cars, and mostly cars in general. I feel I owe them something for giving us this amazing car for almost nothing. I’ll be honest and update this if there are major issues. So far, it just requires more thoughtfulness as far as charging it and miles driven. It’s definitely a trade off I feel good about.
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau holds a special place in my heart. One reason is because I used her book, The 30 Day Vegan Challenge in March 2012 to start my own journey. It was helpful, practical, and positive. Her tagline is “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.” Her message is about compassion, and people choosing to align their actions to their own beliefs, not hers.
I’ve met CPG before, at Portland Veg Fest last year. I listened to her talks there and became even more of a fan. She is clearly very intelligent, funny, and has an almost therapist approach at times. I love her message, I love that she is such a positive and beautiful role model.
When I met her, I talked to her about how I felt about the word “vegan”, and she gave me some helpful insight around that, and actually remembered me. I had hoped to go to her 1st summit that happened last Memorial Day weekend, but there is only so much California Dreamin’ I can do within a couple of months! I did end up sharing a room with a new friend who went, and it sounded like an amazing experience. Hopefully I can make it happen next time.
I recommend listening to her podcast “Food for Thought” here, and check out her website to get more information and resources. I’m waiting for AR2016 to post their videos of her newer talks there.
At this conference, I attended her “10 Habits of Effective Vegans” session. I loved her delivery, it was quick-paced and concise. She makes her points logically, and gives clear tips about how to be effective. I would love to link to her video, which should be posted soon on the AR conference website.
I wasn’t able to go to her second talk on a panel called “The Power of Language”, but I have heard her speak to this at Veg Fest. In the Portland talk she discussed how calling plant-based meats “fake meats” can be detrimental. That instead of milk being the default name to describe dairy milk, it can be designated as cow’s milk which makes almond milk, soy milk, and other milks on the same plane. Rather than being the lesser “faux” option, plant proteins are a healthy, normal option. I’ve seen the plant-based meats called clean protein, which I agree sounds much more appealing.
Colleen also discussed in Portland how the idioms we use continues to reinforce negative images around animals. “Killing two birds with one stone” for example, could be changed to “Cutting two carrots with one knife”. It sounds funny or maybe not the top priority, but it makes sense how the ideas around animals are part of our culture and language. I was impressed at how much research she had done around this, and it is clearly a fascinating topic for her. I believe she is writing a book around this subject. In any case, it has made an impression to the point where I am more conscious about language.
On the final day of the conference, I attended her joint session with Dr. Melanie Joy called “Advice on Vegan Lifestyle”. I really enjoyed seeing the relationship these two women have forged over time. They may cover different aspects, but they seem to share a very similar philosophy. It was entertaining and informative. There was so much great energy and hope in the room. It is a breath of fresh air to focus on effective positive changes and inclusiveness; not blame or focusing on differences.
I’m very inspired from these sessions. Thank you Colleen for being such a smart, strong, joyful voice in the movement.
Last weekend I attended AR2016, the largest and longest-running animal rights gathering. I wasn’t sure if I should attend, or what to expect. Since in addition to the horrible plight of animals, we cover a lot of environmental issues and incremental steps, I was worried that this might feel too extreme.
I was happily surprised to find a very wide and diverse group of people and organizations there. At times the fact that we all are very different in the way we are advocates and activists for the animals resulted in tension in the group. But never anything too harsh, in my opinion. In fact, even with the people I disagree with (as far as their methods), I was able to see their viewpoint and understand them better.
I came away from the conference feeling that although there is no way we are all going to form a completely united group, even with our common goals, everyone is doing what they can from their own angle and their focus. Whether it is freeing monkeys from laboratories, focusing on wild horses, or creating alternatives to meat from animals this is the most passionate group of people I have ever met. And every one is committed to their goal: speaking out for the animals.
I believe there are many reasons why anyone can change their lifestyle: from caring for animals, to health concerns, to lessening environmental impact. Once you are able to understand the idea that we do not need animal products to be healthy and happy, a greater awareness can grow from that. It then allows the connections to be made that the intelligence, personality and individual nature that our animal companions show, are not unique only to specific animals.
There is no way I can write about everything that happened in one post, so I will write several posts over the next week. In general, being an introverted person spending 4 packed days with 1,500 people took a lot of effort. Most people are very friendly and it was great to meet some online friends in person. I learned that no matter how good your message is, presentation is so important. Our movement needs those with professionalism and positive energy. I’m going to do highlight some of my favorite speakers in the other posts.
To end this overview: we are all working towards a huge, exciting revolution and social movement. The change is coming, we can see it. Don’t be afraid of a stereotype of being extreme. We are not all the same, even as we work towards the same goals. Animals have no voice. They are innocent victims to whatever human beings decide to do with them. My young daughter understood this at a very young age, and started me on a path to reevaluate my beliefs. Some people may choose to protest loudly in grocery stores, while others work on awareness and education through other channels. If everyone can do whatever they can, we will normalize this concept that animals exist on the earth alongside us, not for us. In the end, a less violent, and more compassionate world is a cause to proudly support.
Our local NW Veg organization is a great asset to the community. They have brought some amazing speakers to Portland, and host a very large Veg Fest every year. It was exciting to see them involved in creating this new documentary. Producers Eric Day (former President of NW Veg) and Wendy Day, Director Glenn Scott Lacey and Director of Photographer Ian Stout formed a very strong creative team for this movie.
Vegan: Everyday Stories is a feature-length documentary that explores the lives of four remarkably different people who share a common thread – they’re all vegan. The movie traces the personal journeys of an ultramarathon runner who has overcome addiction to compete in one hundred mile races, a cattle rancher’s wife who creates the first cattle ranch turned farmed animal sanctuary in Texas, a food truck owner cooking up knee-buckling plant-based foods, and an 8-year-old girl who convinces her family of six to go vegan.
There are a number of great movies focusing on why to go vegan or featuring people new to veganism, but this movie spotlights how everyday people and their families, each pursuing their own careers, hobbies, and passions live their lives while following a vegan lifestyle.
The movie follows ultrarunner Yassine Diboun as he journeys miles into the wilderness, running from a past that deeply affected his family and nearly cost him his life; and Renee King-Sonnen, who fell in love with the farmed animals on her husband’s ranch and was determined to do whatever she could to create a sanctuary; and Jerri Hastey owner of food truck Seed On The Go who wishes to share delicious eye-catching food with the masses; and young Genesis Butler who at the tender age of 3 asked her mom where her chicken nuggets came from and now she’s on a quest to protect all animals in the world.
The movie is not only about vegan folks living their everyday lives, it is being created and funded by the community! The movie is a project of Northwest VEG, a 501c(3) charity, so all donations are tax-deductible.
I took the kids to watch it at their opening in Portland. I thought it might be inspiring to see how even younger children can make changes in the world. I was very impressed with the quality of the film, how it was produced and edited. The stories were interesting and I liked how it could appeal to different people interested in different angles: athletes, doctors, musicians, animal lovers, foodies and more. From Ed Begley, Jr to Russell Simmons to David Carter, it was fun to see the many cameos throughout of celebrities in a wide variety of industries. I was a little confused by the lack of captions for these well-known people, but found out later that was intentional, and I believe meant to keep you focused on the aspect that these are everyday stories. At the end during the credits, everyone is credited, which was fun to see everyone who was involved.
There was once scene that was really hard, and made my daughter quite emotional. Not graphically violent, but a verbal description of one woman’s experience in a slaughterhouse.
The movie is available to watch for free! Watching it from a perspective of already being vegan, I would be very interested in hearing what a non-vegan thinks about it. I personally wondered if the title would narrow the appeal, but hopefully everyone can take a peek into very individual people’s lives and motivations. There is something for everyone, and they did a very professional and nice job on creating this.
Ever since we read about Ripple Milk, we were intrigued! We sample a lot of non-dairy milk, but tend to stick to the 12 pack soy milks available from Costco just as that is easier, and we all like it. I personally find coconut milk a little slimy, and Jonathan objects to almond milk because of almond’s water intensive needs (although actually there is very little almond in store-bought milk).
Hemp is my second favorite, but is too expensive. I can’t stand rice milk- way too thin, and separates out in coffee (my main use). It is okay for cereal.
Ripple milk is made using pea protein, so it is great for those with allergies to soy, dairy and nuts. It has 20% fewer calories, less saturated fat and half the sugar of dairy. It has eight times the protein of almond milk. It also very healthy for you as it contains 32 mg of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA (from microalgae), it has vitamins and minerals: 45% of the DV for calcium, 30% DV for vitamin D, and 13% for iron.
I found it at Whole Foods and liked the fun packaging. It cost a bit initially more than the standard non-dairy milks at $4.99. However, you can find a coupon for $1 off which makes it more comparable. I personally liked the taste. The kids and Jonathan were not as enamored. I found that we have really stopped drinking milk on it’s own- using it only in cereal, recipes and coffee. This created a slight problem of us not really using it quickly. Because it was a little more expensive, I was saving it for drinking rather than just adding it into whatever we normally do.
I think for younger kids who like to drink plain milk and people looking for a healthy milk option, it would be worth trying. Especially as it comes down in price hopefully. I will check on the Target price and see if that makes it more affordable. Although they purposefully wanted to avoid doing tetra packs, and it emulates cow milk in some regards of look and taste, I like how we can store tetra packs of milk and have them on hand.
The milk could be followed by yogurts, creamers, cheeses and more- making it a big game-changer in the plant-based arena. Just don’t call it “pea milk” please…
As most of us are aware, water is a precious and dwindling resource. Although 70% of the earth is covered in water, less than 1% of all the water on earth is fresh water that we can actually use. Water is critical to our existence, and it’s lack makes all conditions worse for everyone. As our population grows, we require even more water to survive.
The purpose of this post is not to talk about all the efficient ways you can cut back on your water use, which is also important and everyone can take steps to reduce their personal use. Awhile ago, we transitioned our grass yard to mostly drought-resistant plants, reducing the need for a sprinkler system as well as avoiding a brown dried lawn in front of our home. Another bonus if that trees and plants help absorb carbon. Lately, we have added some plants that require watering- but also give us something in return: food. Grow food not lawns.
This post is just a very simple, easy step we all can take to not waste our clean, fresh water without changing how you use water, and very little effort.
A few months ago we started keeping a 2 gallon container near the kitchen sink, into which we toss all the half-drunk glasses of water that would normally go down the drain, we also save the water that we use while waiting for the kitchen tap to get hot. It is amazing how much water we simply toss out. Or, maybe not so amazing when you think of the similar food waste conditions.
Put a pitcher by your sink, capture that clean water- use it to water your plants. You can have one in the bathroom as well. It will keep you from using (and paying for) more water, and reduces the waste involved in the treatment required to clean waste water.
Last weekend was really busy with the Vegan Beer & Food Festival, and the Old McDonald’s Open House on Saturday, then brunch with friends on Sunday. It was very fun and I love having a lot going on. However, the morning before the festival as I went to the bank for $ for the festival, two stores for items needed for the Open House, picked up 30 pounds (total) of cherries and apples from a “fruit and veggie” guy from Eastern WA, and our local CSA for leafy greens- all before 10:30am, it seemed a bit energetic.
Vegan Beer Fest started in LA, and this is their second time coming to Portland. They have music, vegan booths selling items, many food and drink booths (some from LA, some local).
Last year I had been very interested in going to the Vegan Beer Fest, but didn’t end up going for a few reasons:
1) I couldn’t find anyone interested in going with me. I think because of the word “Vegan”. Really? It’s BEER- vegan or not, these are local great beers.
2) Tickets were $45-65 to get in, and that includes drinks but not food.
3) I don’t really like beer.
4) I don’t really like hipsters- and that seemed to be the majority of the crowd based on photos.
So, you can see why spending $45 to go alone but be surrounded with hipsters and drink mostly kombucha didn’t really appeal to me.
This year, I scored a half-price ticket early on, but then was invited by a printer friend who I work with to go as a VIP. Going early was really nice, since there weren’t lines at any of the food and drink booths. Except one: Herbivorous Butcher, a brother/sister team from Minneapolis was there. It was the one food booth I was really set on trying, and we decided to go there first. They have been wildly successful, based on the press I have read making their homemade vegan meats and cheeses. They had two items they were selling: one was a couple of deep-fried chicken pieces in mashed potatoes with gravy, inside a waffle cone ($11). I also ordered their Korean beef jerky ($5). The owners were there, and they were actually very cute, nice hipsters.
My friend has been vegetarian for over 20 years, so she has actually forgotten what meat tastes like. I don’t think this seitan meat was exactly like meat, but it was delicious with the crispy, spicy breading and textures. We barely finished that, it was a lot of food. I saved the jerky for later.
After that, well, I won’t go into each beer, cider and kombucha we tasted for now- mostly because I lost my list. Oregonic Tonic stood out for me in the kombucha. I tasted a lot of delicious beers and ciders. There were many fruity options, which worked well for me. And the fact that the glass was only 3 oz, was really nice. We were given 20 beer coupons to get in (the kombucha and coffees are free), apparently I only had 9 beers and ciders, so my illustration is actually off by three drinks.
As for food, we split everything which really helped us be able to try more things. You can see everything we tried in the illustration.
My only regret is not being physically able to eat more- especially missing dessert. We left after only 3 hours, if we stayed longer, we could have eaten a lot more. There is only so much one can eat and drink in a few hours!
It was definitely worth going this year, especially being invited as a business vendor. And shout out to CCL Label, who does very high-quality digital labels at their local Oregon press. Otherwise, I still think I might go, but only with half-price tickets because of my small drinking capacity, and definitely with some friends to share the food.
Earlier this year I wrote about the angry vegan, a fairly well-known stereotype.
There are also angry “carnivores”. These are the people who have to make comments on vegan-friendly pages, just to provoke a reaction. They make jokes about vegans and mock them. And when I say mock, I don’t mean gently ribbing- I mean really horrible, awful comments with hashtags like:
To me, the need to retaliate or provoke indicates that a nerve has been touched, and the reason they are angry is because deep down they feel guilty or ashamed. If they were completely fine with what they were doing, they would just ignore vegans. Those who eat meat already have things exactly as it suits them- they can eat anything they want, at any restaurant. It has been accepted by society to be “normal” and it is legal.
In a way, it is like when heterosexual people are up in arms over gay marriage. Does it affect them getting married? How does it really impact their lives?
They will claim it is a moral or religious issue, ignoring the fact that they are really saying that there are some humans that cannot have equal rights.
There are a wide variety of people within the vegan and plant-based communities. Vegans may have started their journey for health reasons, environmental issues or because of the abject cruelty for animals. There are some awful vegans, for sure, but that applies to any group and religions. Some people become angry once they realize how lobbyists, advertising and corporations are hiding truths from the public. It is pretty natural to want to build awareness, after all, most people weren’t aware from childhood. In addition to false and hidden information, we are fighting against ingrained historical and cultural systems. They may have at one time served their place, but we are facing uncharted territory, a world with billions more people and dwindling resources.
I don’t know any people personally (thank goodness) who do NOT believe that their pet cat or dog doesn’t have a personality, and can feel pain and fear. Vegans just extend that concept towards a wider variety of animals.
I don’t feel angry about the little jokes, and won’t normally rise to take the bait of trolls. What the jokers don’t understand is that everyone has heard the joke about a million times, and it is pretty old. Post a photo of a cute piglet, cue these responses: “Mmm, bacon” “PETA: People eating tasty animals” “How do you know the vegan in the room? Don’t worry they’ll tell you”, “Plants have feelings too”, “If you love animals so much, why are you eating their food?” “Animals will go extinct if we don’t eat them”, “Animals will take over the world if we don’t eat them”.
(Those last two, cannot both be true obviously, and can sometimes be an actual question for people. As long as vegans can respectfully discuss this, an explanation on supply and demand breeding can occur.)
The backlash of the hard core meat lovers is real, it is big, and happening now. This article does a great job of going in-depth.
As for me, I will keep drawing and doing what I can. I plan to focus on helping people with recipes, ideas, and awareness. Remaining positive more than preachy. And, unfortunately for the haters, we won’t shut up and go away. Because the animals, future generations, the oceans, the rain forests aren’t able to speak. We have to.