Give veg a try for 2016!

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We’re already into the first week of December, and in just a few weeks, 2015 will be over. Even if you don’t agree with the idea of making resolutions, January 1, 2016 is a great time to start some new habits or just have a clean slate to start the next half of this decade.

I would like to propose doing a 22 or 30 day veg challenge to kick off the new year!

After being open to the ideas of changing my diet from my daughter and watching Forks over Knives, I decided to try eating a plant-based diet for 30 days in February 2012. I went back and looked to see if I could find a blog post about it, but it happened while I was focusing on doing daily food sketches. Beginning February 1, my sketches show that I stopped eating meat.

After my 30 day trial period, I just kept going. And the reason I kept going was because it wasn’t that hard, and I felt really good. I did this without any support from having vegan friends or being in a vegan community (although I was fortunate that my husband and kids were open to this). For the longest time, I worried that I would just slip off the wagon as so many do. However, I now consider myself vegan since February 2012, despite some small vegetarian slips, since my definition is having intention, philosophy and doing one’s best.

The reason I think it worked for me are these things:

1) I educated myself about how to eat plant-based. Watching Forks over Knives helped, and then I followed it up with a trip to Herbivore and chose the 30 day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. This became my guide. It is too easy to get lost without having information about nutrition, recipe ideas, and suggestions for eating out, etc. Being vegan isn’t easy, and it isn’t hard… it is a change and requires some thought. When we first got our electric car I felt the same way about having to think about it differently to make sure it stayed charged. I am so used to gas cars and how that works. Now, I don’t have to think about it, I’m used to it. I take an iron and B12 supplement, and am thriving.

2) I had more than one reason to keep going. If I had only been following the diet for health reasons, it would have been easy to slip in animal products here and there, or worry I wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I finally allowed myself to see the cruelty animals have long-suffered once I stopped eating them. From there, it was easy to see the effect animal agriculture has on our planet, and my children’s future. That is not something I am going to forget.

3) I didn’t focus on perfection. If I had worried that I had eaten one cookie that may have had some egg in it, the challenge would have been too daunting. Do your best, always, to make good choices and have the least impact. I haven’t always even been comfortable calling myself vegan because I am not perfect and also wanted to avoid being stereotyped. Don’t get hung up on labels.

4) My palate changed. Taste buds change after 2 weeks, you have to try it to see. Vegetables and fruits taste even more amazing! I use less salt, sugar and fat and have found so many new foods I had never tried such as tempeh and seitan. Animal meat and eggs no longer look or taste appealing, and I have found some “clean protein” plant meats that I enjoy. I never thought I could give up cheese or milk (luckily dark chocolate is vegan). I now love my soy milk. As for cheese… that may be the hardest one for some people, but the new nut cheeses are amazing. Don’t think of the plant-based foods as needing to be exactly the same as animal-based foods and they can be delicious in their own right- try a coconut milk shake and you will see what I mean.

5) I tried to keep things in perspective. I didn’t come to these ideas overnight or by someone preaching to me. Although people know where I stand, I don’t create controversy with my friends and family. I want people to feel comfortable coming to me if they have questions and not feel judged. I stay vegan because it was my decision, and it resonates with what I believe in. That has been the best part of changing what I eat. Feeling in alignment with what I have always valued: peace and compassion.

It has been an interesting and life-changing experience over the last few years. I have had some strange Matrix-like moments, where it felt like I was seeing the world with new eyes. There have been centuries of cultural and historical meaning woven into what we eat, let alone billions of advertising dollars. It sometimes felt like swimming against a school of fish, which is not a role I relish. We don’t live in a world of around 3.7 billion people as we did when I was born, population has already doubled in my lifetime! Doesn’t it only make sense that we can’t continue to live as if our resources are unlimited? I absolutely believe that we can have a better future for our children, cleaner air, fight against wildlife extinction, less drought, less wars, less starvation (as we use our land and water more efficiently to feed people instead of farm animals), less cruelty to animals and better health if we make some changes. We can’t afford to look away any longer.

I hope you will give veg a try. And, I would be happy to help in whatever way that I can if you need a veg buddy. There are so many resources online, and great local communities with support like our Portland-based NW Veg. We all have the power to make this change three times every day, and honestly it has never been easier to find delicious plant-based food.

Instead of resolutions, try a New Year’s Revolution!


Old McDonald’s Farm—a very special place

OMFentrance

If you’ve been following our blog at all, you’ll see we love animals. I’ve been wanting to write a post for awhile talking about Old McDonald’s Farm. We’ve been going there a while! I found some photos from over 7 years ago in September 2008, when our family spent the night at the farm for my daughter’s 6th birthday. The farm itself has been operating since about 1995.

OMFschoolhouse

ClioOMF   ClioOMFPony

I love going out there on the weekends. It is located in a very scenic location in Corbett, about 30 minutes from downtown Portland, towards Multnomah Falls. Their website states: “Old McDonald’s Farm is the only nonprofit organization in Oregon that effectively combines animals, agriculture, gardens and natural resources to provide an educational enrichment program for all children and including at-risk children and youth in a safe and secure farm setting.”

Through the years, our animal-loving daughter has attended numerous summer camps. The director, Stephanie Rickert instructs the children with a strict but caring method to ensure safety for both the animals and the children. I’m personally quite amazed at the care and detail shown in every aspect of the farm. There are horses, a cow, a donkey, a pig, sheep, goats, ducks, rabbits, chickens, cats and dogs. Each animal has signs with information about them, their breed, and other facts. The children learn about the animals, and are involved in interacting and actually working on the farm. There is a bus option which makes it more convenient, and at the end of each week the parents watch the kids present what they have learned. You can see the pride the children have in showing their family and friends around the farm and showing them the animals.

ClioOMF2011-2

Last year, my daughter was able to graduate from being a camper to a “grey shirt” (student summer helper). This promotion gave her the responsibility and confidence that she needed. The training for the beginning helpers is a lot of work for Stephanie and her senior helpers. I really appreciated that she was allowed to become a helper, even though she had a lot of work to do before she could actually be helpful.

summerhelper

As parents, we can see that her love of animals may be her career path and have encouraged her involvement at OMF. We couldn’t wait until next summer to continue working at the farm, and have been volunteering a couple times a month to feed all the animals. We’ve helped at the Pumpkin Pick in October, and next weekend will help at their annual Christmas Tea, December 5th and 6th.

Xmas-teaWe’re also looking at ways we can spread the word about this amazing farm so that other children can experience it. Last year, our daughter’s 6th grade class really enjoyed their day visit. Stephanie has so much experience with children, and can tailor the visit to suit each age group. She works with a wide variety of children with varying needs.

omf-trip

The reason I volunteer my time there are because I believe it is very important that children can have a place like this to learn and interact with animals, and because Stephanie cares about every child. She doesn’t seem to mind if it will take her more time and effort to help the kids with special needs, in fact she opens her arms willingly to them.

I have learned quite a few things through my experiences feeding the 30+ animals. Some may be fairly obvious—running a farm is hard work! All I have to do is feed the animals (and even that part is still quite difficult for me since each animal has specific requirements and responsibilities). Stephanie does so much more including tending to all the buildings, making sure the animals’ medical needs are met, keeping her bus running, making sure she has all their food and various supplies, taking care of all the administration, planning events, coordinating her helpers, and so many more details I can’t even imagine. It is expensive, yet she charges much less than most summer programs because she wants it to be as affordable as possible.

OMFpumpkinpick2

I’m happy to do what I can so Stephanie can keep Old McDonald’s Farm going, and get kids to come visit. The Pumpkin Pick and Holiday Tea would be a great time to come see the farm during their slower season, but look at their website to see the opportunities for school field trips, horse riding, camps and more.

This special farm that fosters education and a connection to animals is important, therapeutic, and is a rare and unique opportunity that needs to have support.

OMFhorse

 

 


Plant-based meats and milks are the future!

Every day gets us better vegan options to replace animal products. I mean, if we can put a man on the moon it seems like we could make a plant-based product that tastes like animal meat!

vegan-fridge-3

There are so many positives that can happen. We end all the suffering the animals endure- not just shortened and miserable lives, but also the need for all the environmental resources to breed these animals (land and water used), the methane and carbon dioxide they emit, the pollution to our water and land from their waste. We can eliminate giving animals 80% of all antibiotics because of their conditions, which is in turn causing superbugs that can’t be treated for humans. And on top of all of that, we can reduce the artery-hardening cholesterol and other negative health aspects.

If you could replace your eggs, butter, milk, cheese and meat with options that tasted just as good and weren’t more expensive, would you do it? There is now a burger that even “bleeds” like real meat, but skips the cruel treatment for those who enjoy that type of thing. The prices will come down. We’ve all heard of lab-grown meat. If that seems disgusting to you, please watch a video of how the meat industry operates.

Veggie-Burger

New jobs will be created to replace old jobs. Large companies will get behind it if that is what consumers want, or more importantly, if they can make more profits.

Just in the last few years I’ve seen a huge increase in vegan options- especially in the variety of milks. From hemp to cashew to soy to almond, there are so many choices in pretty much every store. Some of that is from vegans/vegetarians, some from meat-reducers, and I believe even some from the popularity of paleo diet. Although paleo diets increase the amount of animals eaten, they also don’t eat dairy and eat a lot of produce. I think it also has raised awareness of factory farming vs grass fed or wild-caught. I’m definitely not agreeing with this diet, but pointing out that the balance is tipping.

plant-based-milks

I’m sure that people will have hesitations about moving away from their traditional foods. But, things have changed and we need to change. There are now too many people eating too much meat and animal products for a sustainable world. And that is not fear-mongering, it is just science. I have another post about why I am erring on the side of caution, rather than just continue as if our population and our resources are not intrinsically linked.

Amazon rain forest, Brazil
Amazon rain forest, Brazil

Some people prefer to just skip anything that resembles animal products. However, most people want to transition to similar types of foods at first, or maybe just enjoy them. When you consider the alternatives: drought, fish-less oceans, deforestation, carbon levels… plant-based meat starts to sound a whole lot better.


Portland Veg Fest 2015 highlights

Last weekend I attended Portland VegFest for the 3rd time. This time, as an exhibitor. We were promoting our design business, as we would love to work with the types of businesses there. In fact, it turned out that we met a lot more people from the general public who were interested in talking to us.

VegFestlogo

We’ve worked with NW Veg for years. Our design firm created their logo, ads, posters and different logos for their other events. I was so impressed once again with the quality of the speakers, and how organized they are.

I popped out of our booth several times to try some samplings and there were a lot of new products, as well as some favorites from last year. So many people who attend aren’t vegan or vegetarian, and this event gives them the chance to see how delicious vegan food is, and feel confident buying it at stores.

persimmon

Since we were going to be there two days, we had the kids there for part of the days. I asked them to volunteer on Sunday, and they did really well! They do much better with helping when they are not with me. The rest of the time, they read “Persimmon takes on Humanity” the new young adult fiction book I bought there, and played on the phone, and ate samples.

GavVeg

ClioVeg

My highlights were meeting Colleen Patrick Goudreau and Sid Garza-Hillman. Sometimes you think you know quite a bit about a topic, but I learned a lot and had very interesting insights that will affect my activism and advocacy. Enjoyed Free from Harm’s Robert Grillo’s talk as well.

It was gratifying to see how well the different vegan businesses were doing- Herbivore Clothing always had a crowd of people around them, Christoper Locke (the book author) sold out of his copies, and I saw a lot of people sporting the NW Veg membership bags as new members. I went back to Miyoko’s cheese table on Sunday afternoon and they had sold out completely. That made me both happy and sad.

We bought a lot of food from the vendors, nut butter, renewed our membership and had a great time. I wish I had taken more photos!

At the end of Sunday, I couldn’t resist popping up for a bit to see Dan Pirraro give his comedic talk “Food is Funny”. Then, ended up being late to return to our booth where my teenager was playing on my phone to discover the freight doors were open letting in cold air. Besides that moment of feeling like the worst parent ever, it was very good. We ended the evening across the street at Pixie Project where we volunteer and gave love to the kittens there.

pixiekitten

Whether it brings in new business or not, it was well-worth it! Thank you NW Veg for creating this great event! We’ll be back next year.

 


Our Veg Kids

When my daughter was fairly young, she started our family down a path towards being vegetarian. By responding to her strong feelings not to eat animals, I was forced to re-evaluate my own rationalizations.

Clio, Age 6

Since March 2012, I have moved to eating a strict vegetarian diet, which is at least 95% vegan. I know that I care deeply about animals, the earth, and other people. I know that I am doing what I feel is the most effective activism to create more awareness and education about the issues created by animal agriculture. It has become a passion that has transformed our lives and our business.

My son followed his big sister’s example and is now possibly even more committed and consistent than her. My husband eats very little meat for his own reasons and has become very involved in environmental and climate change issues.

GavELM

Although we weren’t vegetarian when the kids were very young, I look back at the photos now and can see how they made strong connections with animals besides our own pets.

CliowithChickens-age6

Their childhood will be interesting to look back on. When I am making my easy tofu salad and my son tells me how much he loves it, I find it funny to think that will be part of his fond memories of my cooking: Mom’s tofu salad. At this point, they don’t really know any different, and they don’t seem to miss meat at all. They love things I never tried at their age like tempeh, and they go crazy for naturally vegetarian ethnic foods found in cuisines from India, Thailand, and the Middle East.

KidswithDuck

Here are a few of our guidelines that have naturally evolved:

1. They are free to make their own decisions about what they eat. I let their host know that they are vegetarian in advance if they are at someone’s house. So far everyone has been very gracious and made sure there was a veggie option.

2. We don’t try to indoctrinate their friends in any way. That would make me crazy if someone tried to force their beliefs on my kids, so I wouldn’t do that. However, we only have veg food at our house which I try to make sure is something especially good when friends come over so it is a positive experience.

3. I teach them to be as non-judgmental as possible when others eat meat, and give them enough information that they can handle comments about “how do they get their protein”. If we want to have any influence towards others at all, it has to come from being a good example and respectful rather than force and anger.

4. I haven’t pushed veganism on the kids. They prefer to keep some cheese in their diet, and sometimes eggs. We compromise and for awhile I would get special eggs from a neighbor’s chickens and use them so sparingly it took 2 weeks to go through a dozen. I stopped buying cow’s milk and just made sure I had soy and almond options- no one complained because it didn’t make a difference to them. They mostly have soy milk in their cereal. If I make delicious vegan meals, everyone is happy and no one misses anything. I know they would go vegan in a minute if I showed them footage from factory farms of chicks being ground up alive or baby calves taken from their mothers. It is so hard for me to watch, I don’t want them to see that cruelty. I am honest about the situation when we do discuss it.

5. I make a lot of smoothies with spinach, make sure they eat a lot of fresh fruit, veg, beans and tofu, and give them a daily multivitamin.

6. We visit farms and animal sanctuaries and they get a chance to see these farm animals in real life, and not just as “bacon”.

I hope, and think, my kids are good ambassadors and role models for other kids who would like to be vegetarian. They are healthy and growing well. We’ll see if they stay vegetarians or become vegans for the rest of their lives. In any case, I am glad that if they do stay on this path, they don’t have to have regrets that they ate meat for decades of their life as I now do. I was never prevented, I honestly just never thought about it earlier on a deep level.

GavDeer2013

We’re planning on starting a Portland Veg Kids group of some sort to promote friendly activism, and the kids are volunteering at veg events we attend. They love the food, and Portland is a great city for choices. We’re incredibly lucky that they can even have vegan fast food items for special treats.

If I could give any advice, I would say please don’t stifle your child’s natural inclination towards compassion. If they do want to try vegetarianism, it really will be okay, just do some research.

ClioGoatAge8

 

 


It’s never “Happy Turkey Day”

TurkeysWe hear this expression used instead of Happy Thanksgiving often. The unfortunate turkey has been cast as the star of this annual feast of giving thanks, and gathering with friends and family.

Although I have only been eating a plant-based diet since March 2012, I have never made my own turkey, and now it looks like I never will. It always seemed like a scary thing involving frozen items thawing, innards, and long baking times. While it may seem impossible to imagine a holiday table without a big turkey carcass as the centerpiece, my favorite part of the meal has always been the side dishes, especially my mom’s stuffing that has nuts and dried fruit!

The main variety of turkey eaten in the US is a domesticated breed called the broad-breasted white. The average live weight of federally inspected turkeys has nearly doubled in the past 50 years, and the time it takes for a turkey to reach market weight has halved.

46 million birds will die just for Thanksgiving dinner. They are killed at only 18 weeks old, and are overly huge since the breast meat is preferred. In personality, turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals that are highly social. They create lasting social bonds with each other and are very affectionate; rather similar to dogs.

1024px-Thanksgiving_Turkey

Many of these animals suffer needlessly as a result of being super-sized by factory farming methods, as we buy excessively large animals to impress our guests. Americans throw away about 35 percent of edible turkey meat each year. So most people are buying turkeys 1/3 larger than they will even eat.

Considering this, you have several options besides just blindly following tradition.

a_vegetarian_thanksgiving_menu

1. My favorite: Make a true harvest dinner, like this delicious spread. Most of the traditional side dishes can be made without animal products, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth for example.

2. Buy a turkey substitute like a Tofurky or make your own!

3. Keep in mind the treatment of the animal by understanding labels. It is more expensive to worry about these things because the animal has been allowed to grow naturally, and it is cheaper to raise animals with unhealthy food and space.

For some reason, with turkeys, a single bird is eaten per family (rather than just sliced off portions of a whole animal), which makes it seem more personal. I vote for keeping guilt off the plate entirely.

Plan ahead for a happy and compassionate Thanksgiving for all!


Plant-powered for the planet

I’ve been a bit quiet here lately due to relaunching our design firm business, moving our office, getting ready for VegFest, and volunteer work. I have so many ideas about posts to write. There is so much to say, it can be a bit overwhelming. It makes me feel like I have definitely chosen the right path to follow to make a difference in the world. I will do everything I can personally to raise awareness of the biggest issue we face: climate change. It affects every aspect of our lives and is a unifying project that humanity must take on as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t matter if you eat more plants because you care about animals, because it is better for your health, or because you see the environmental devastation. I don’t even want to get involved in labels: It is not about being vegan or vegetarian or flexitarian. It is about awareness and doing everything you can do, as quickly as possible. I don’t want animal cruelty, but that is an equal and additional concern, which is separate from the environmental issue. I understand that to many it may seem very radical to stop using animal products. But you know what else is radical? Cities going underwater.

We’ve contributed so much to this problem, and it is up to us to solve it. But we have to act NOW, and my aim is to encourage action- even imperfect action. We all must do whatever we can, as well as we can. Every single day we get to be involved in creating a better world for our children, as well as the animals. Choose wisely.


If this is a war, we are all the losers.

I came across this story, and felt compelled to insert my own commentary (in bold, italic green). The most surprising part of the story for me was that the author has a very young child. A child who will inherit a future that is affected by our own choices, every day. We must take immediate action towards slowing down the devastating effects of climate change. I believe this takes precedence over our personal food preferences as well, but like smoking, it takes time to create awareness and convince people. Let’s break this down and discuss her arguments.

“Meat lovers rejoice, you’re winning the war”
by SE Cupp

Last week, the Obama administration did something uncharacteristically sensible: It declined to urge Americans to eat less meat.

Starts with a very slanted slam. Like the Obama administration hasn’t made any sensible decisions. Also, the headline is so aggressive- who declared war? 

Despite the recommendation of a top nutrition advisory panel to use federal agencies to set new dietary guidelines involving fewer cheeseburgers, barbecued ribs and filet mignon — all in an effort to merely save the planet — administration officials quietly announced that such new guidelines are not “the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.”

Yes, not a joke…  this was the recommendation of a top nutrition advisory panel “all in an effort to merely save the planet

Liberal supporters of kudzu climate change legislation were furious that the president wouldn’t take the advice of Scientists-with-a-capital-S — who are, to the left, the only moral authorities that matter — and use his considerable bully pulpit to cut the bull, literally.

Wow, that’s confusing. She is saying scientists (excuse me Scientists) are making this a MORAL dilemma? 

“A meat-eater’s typical diet is responsible for almost twice as much global warming as your typical vegetarian’s and almost triple that of a vegan,” Josh Voorhees lamented at Slate after the news broke. “(An) Oxford University study suggested that cutting your meat intake in half could cut your carbon footprint by more than 35 percent.”

All of this may be true. But there are more than a few reasons why Americans will not — and should not — stop eating meat.

“All of this may be true.” So, she is not refuting this fact. But here is why we don’t care…

The first is that it will most certainly not save the planet. To have any meaningful impact on the global climate, a meat abstinence campaign would require worldwide cooperation and compliance. Try telling Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of beef and the second largest beef producer, to slow its roll, especially in light of its struggling economy. Also, cows have other intrinsic values than meat, such as milk (and sacrality, if you’re one of the world’s billion Hindus), that will likely assure their longtime survival.

To have any meaningful impact we need to act like leaders. We’re eating more meat than most countries, and Brazil can slow it’s roll if we decrease demand. Rainforests are actually more important than us all eating meat whenever we want it. Read about it. Or, do we just say let’s destroy the earth so Brazil’s economy will be ok?

Another reason the scheme won’t work is that humans prefer to eat meat. Evolutionarily and biologically — also Science-with-a-capital-S — we are meat eaters. It’s why we have digestive tracts specifically designed to process meat. It’s why our enzymes evolved to digest meat. It’s why with greater meat consumption we became more intelligent and social than other species. Denying ourselves meat would, both in the short term and over centuries, have a disastrous effect on human development. Ex-vegan Lierre Keith, author of the controversially militant anti-veganism book “The Vegetarian Myth,” says: “A vegetarian diet — and especially a vegan diet — does not provide for the long-term maintenance and repair of the human body. So vegetarians are on drawdown of their biological reserves.”

Yes, we physically can eat meat. Whatever intellectual or developmental gains we may or may not attribute to meat will be a moot point if we are all extinct, can we agree on that? And, we are using someone’s book as proof? I have read many books that say the opposite. Not impressed.

But meat hasn’t just fed our bodies. It’s fed human civilization’s soul. Vaclav Smil’s book “Should We Eat Meat?” connects meat and “cooperative hunting” to the “development of language and socialization.” The domestication of animals was a significant factor in evolving from Old World societies to modern ones. When a Third World country graduates to a developing nation, one of the first things it does is supply its citizens with more protein-rich meat.

Yes, but my point remains, if we are all extinct how will this matter? And look at China for an example of how our planet is not going to be able to sustain this larger population of meat eaters. Actually, this is precisely why we need to cut back.

But even if we did collectively decide to turn to a vegetarian or meat-light economy, if you like your vegetables you’d better be prepared for more hunting.

Hunting and animal population control is why you have readily available produce at your favorite grocery store. Agricultural producers experience 10 percent crop loss in wildlife damage from deer and other wildlife species annually, according to a University of Nebraska study. State governments regularly use taxpayer dollars to compensate farmers for their losses. If we’re going to feed our nation with veggie burgers, get ready for a deer explosion — and the car accidents that will accompany it.

I thought this was a joke, I’m sorry. Okay, we better just eat meat and not worry about climate change because deer are going to be out of control!

While the Obama administration made a political decision not to upset the influential livestock and agriculture industries when it ignored experts’ orders to lower meat consumption, it was also the right one. And as we’re learning, the government has a pretty lamentable record when it comes to telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat.

Yes, it was a political decision to ignore experts’ orders.

After long recommending that we avoid whole milk — it was in fact banned from school lunch programs — many nutritionists now say the opposite might be healthier, that consuming fat can lower incidence of heart disease.

Yes, and sometimes they say coffee or wine is good for you and then they say it is bad for you.  If you are basing your ideas on this point, here is an article stating the opposite.

As climate change adherents insist on the science that supports their cause and ignore the science that does not, while foisting selective, incomplete or flat-out wrong prescriptions upon average Americans who must continually adapt to new behavioral mandates, this week’s decision was a win for meat lovers everywhere. As if eating meat wasn’t already winning.

As meat lovers insist on articles that support their cause of loving to eat meat, and ignore the science that does not, we ALL lose.

NASA


Vegging out in California

Earlier this year, we won a raffle contest at my daughter’s school. It was so exciting to win a free trip. We had three choices of places to go, but the only one where our whole family could go, was the trip to California. It included airfare, hotel, a dinner at Medieval Times, Knotts Berry Farm tickets, and 2 day passes to Disneyland.

The kids and I had gone to Knotts and Disneyland 7 years ago with my mom. I remembered them riding Dumbo and all the little kid rides, this would be a very different experience with them so much older and tall enough to ride all the rides. My husband and I are not really into theme parks, and I have to admit, I just don’t understand the appeal. However, it was something we wanted to do for the kids to enjoy.

Disney7yearslater

I had done a little research as to how we might be able to eat vegan, or even vegetarian at these places since I remembered people eating giant turkey legs last time we went. It appeared there would be some options. Since we were staying in a hotel and taking a shuttle bus to the park, we didn’t want to cart food around with us. But, after our experience, my advice to you is bring your own food.

I’m going to write about the veg aspect, and try to separate our experience from the fact that it was over 100 degrees in mid-October most of the time we were there! Record-breaking heat for them, and made everything a lot less enjoyable. Here is our best moment, cooling off at Splash Mountain. This photo makes me laugh every time at our reactions.

splashmountain

 

The best vegan experience we had was actually at the most surprising place- Medieval Times, a dinner show featuring knights jousting. It was surreal, especially as we had no idea what it would be like. You are given a paper crown to wear when you enter, and that is “your” knight for the evening. There were about a million ways to separate you from your money from the moment you enter this already expensive show—from a family photo with the king ($21), to a full gift shop. You are served your meal while watching the show and cheering your knight with optional $5 flags. I didn’t see anyone else order the vegetarian option, but it was quite good. It was comprised of a stew of potatoes, beans and rice served in a bucket; tomato soup; hummus, pita bread and vegetables. The apple pastry at the end was not vegan- it was supposed to come with a sorbet I think. As you can see in the photos, everyone is served a huge portion of chicken. The woman next to me ate practically none of it. It was depressing to see all those chicken legs, but I appreciated that they actually offer a delicious and much healthier substitute meal.

MedievalKnights

There may have been veg options at Knotts Berry, but we didn’t look past the chicken dinner restaurant and another place that only offered grilled cheese, instead opting to go to TGIF nearby. We got their black bean burger for $13.49, and I believe it was the only adult veg entrée available. It was the same Chipotle Bean Burger that we get from Costco for at most $1.50 each, which is a good burger but quite a big mark up!

For Disneyland, we found a portobello sandwich (that was delicious) in Tomorrowland. It had a full mushroom, large grilled red pepper and onions. It was not vegan, and it was already prepared with mayo (I think) and 1 slice of cheese. We ate that twice.

We tried to find other places, like Ariel’s Grotto, which was supposed to have a tofu scramble. Unfortunately, you have to make advance reservations to eat there. One night we ended up at Flo’s V8 diner in California land seeking out the veggie tater bake. After waiting in line for 20 minutes, we found out that they were sold out! As you can see all the other entrées were mostly meat. One could argue that you could eat a salad without the meat, but after being in the sun and walking all day, we were hungry! And our kids don’t eat salad, and how difficult is it really to offer veggie options? Especially if they sell out of them. Do I sound bitter? Here is a photo of our dinner comprised of sides. And no, not vegan.

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One night we went to visit friends in the area, and stopped at a grocery store for some BBQ items, where I got to finally try the Beast Burger. They had delicious salad and fresh fruit, it was the best meal of our whole trip.

The last morning of our trip we went to Jamba Juice in Disney Town, and we all got large smoothies. I got to try their new Almond Milk smoothie with pumpkin, banana and cinnamon. It was delicious! Kudos to Jamba Juice for offering these new dairy free options.

So, while it is possible to eat veggie in Disneyland, it is much harder to eat vegan. And I don’t want to hear about frozen lemonade, french fries or an ear of corn as options. I want a real meal, just like everyone else.

Experiencing how difficult it is to eat vegan, and how predominant the meat culture is in America really shook me up a bit. I know I live in a bubble normally – Portland is one of the most veg-friendly cities in the world. I usually eat at home, or can easily choose where to eat. Until you stop eating meat (and especially eggs and dairy), you don’t realize how little choice that consumers have. We need to have those options so that people can choose them.


The economics of compassion towards animals

SelectionOfPackageMeats

I just read this story about how lower income people are actually more concerned with animal welfare and factory farms, yet are less able to afford the higher prices of “humane-certified” meat. I found it surprising.

In some ways this is positive news since that means that no matter what the financial circumstances, that isn’t a barrier for concern about factory farming.

Removing ag-gag laws and forcing farms to treat animals even slightly decently (let them turn around and stretch their limbs!), comes with a price. And it should.

Photo: Shpernik088, via Wikimedia Commons

Does that mean only the wealthy will be able to afford meat? Or, does that mean the poorer individuals should eat the worst meat? The trend is going that way, and we need to really start expanding our views on what constitutes protein.

If I could compare eating meat to cars for a minute. I would say that just because a wealthy person could afford a gas-guzzling Hummer, that doesn’t mean that they would drive one. Maybe someday, what we choose to eat will reflect more on our values than our salaries. That eating a meat-heavy meal will make an environmental statement as well.

The most troubling part of the story to me is that this story neglects to even consider that eating less (or no) meat could be the affordable, equitable solution. It may not have been the intent of the article, but there is an alternative for those who are concerned about animals and factory farming no matter what their income bracket.