The economics of compassion towards animals


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.


Future goals


In my bagel post, I brought up the idea of different levels of veganism. The V word can be a tough one to swallow for many who have stereotypes in mind as to what this lifestyle represents.

I’m not here to talk to vegans, so maybe it is best to stay out of the controversy altogether. Different people are reached in different ways, and there is a place for all of us who care about these issues. The goal I have set for this website, is to encourage as many people as possible to reduce their meat consumption, and just bring awareness.

I don’t think love for animals is enough to change people’s diets, sadly. I know too many people who would never hurt an animal themselves, but don’t think anything about eating it once someone else has killed it and prepared it. The connection just isn’t there, or it isn’t strong enough.

But, what if I told you your children will suffer the consequences of ignoring the factory farm issues? That because we didn’t act quickly enough or make drastic enough choices, they will live through very hard times. We can’t even imagine their world because of the chaotic and exponential factors involved in climate change.

I’ve had a really good life. I think abstaining from animal products is a very small price to help the future generations enjoy or extend that privilege.

I want my kids to know that I definitely tried.


Why I am so committed to talking about eating less meat.

I feel very humbled by the fact that just 4 years ago I was absolutely clueless about veganism, factory farms, and the torture to animals. It just never fully penetrated my consciousness. I had friends who were vegetarian, but I don’t think they ever tried to talk about it with me, or I wasn’t listening. I loved animals but didn’t really speculate too much on “how the sausage was made”.

Once I opened my eyes, it was like seeing the world in a completely different light. This reminds me of the Navajo proverb, “You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep”. I couldn’t believe all the atrocities I had ignored for my whole life. I started reading the articles, connecting the dots. Factory farming was causing cruelty, drought, climate change, antibiotic overuse, rainforest destruction, species extinction, heart disease, cancer, and on and on and on. And the only reason on the other side behind all of this tragedy was: “MMM, BACON”.

Yes, meat tasted good to me before I knew what I now knew. But, once I aligned my diet with the compassion that I actually felt in my heart, and which most people do, I did not miss it. My taste buds changed, and now I love vegetables and fruit and plant-based foods. Then I realized how lacking the choices were… how can people pick a veggie option when they are not even on the menu, or represented poorly?

But, the point of this post is to say that I am trying to make up for a lot of lost time. My children have been vegetarian for awhile, and won’t have the decades of eating animals behind them that I do. I didn’t make them vegetarian, they naturally went to this concept even before I did and I just never tried to talk them out of it. My husband and I are dedicating our livelihood to environmental causes and this is where my heart lies. I do need to talk about these issues just in case there are people out there like me, who needed to be reached at the right moment, who are ready to wake up.

Don’t let a bagel trip you up!

By Ezra Wolfe (Flickr: bagels) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ezra Wolfe (Flickr: bagels) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Why am I talking about a bagel? That was the tipping point for a friend who had been faithfully vegetarian for years, and was 3 weeks into being vegan. He just wanted to eat a bagel with cream cheese. Because of the rampant all-or-nothing attitudes about veganism (at least that he experienced), he got off the vegan train completely and is now eating meat. I’m aware that there is vegan cream cheese (actually tofutti is delicious), and hopefully that will make it easier for all of us as these alternatives are more available.

I’ve thought of the vegan label a lot. Could there be another name- like vegan light? Or, could we have levels like gold, silver and bronze? The gold members read all ingredient lists and have no leather shoes. But for those who are not perfect, they are comfortable still embracing the cause and being part of it. Just as a more supporting member role.

So many efforts are focused on getting people to go vegan. And, it is a worthy cause. However, unless the motivation stays strong enough, it is only a temporary effort. 84% of people who go vegetarian lapse back into meat-eating, according to this interesting study.  But why does this happen, and how can we retain them?

The numbers are a bit grim. I personally know several lapsed vegetarians and vegans. For awhile I wondered if this could happen to me too. After all, many of them were vegetarian for a decade. Although the recidivism is discouraging, I suppose it is better to have been a vegan or vegetarian for years than never at all.

It is also important that we get the health information out there so that people can stay healthy while being vegan. That can be another big reason people revert to eating meat. I take a B12 and Iron supplement and make very healthy plant-based meals.

I believe I have been able to stay vegan (albeit usually bronze or silver) because our whole family eats this way. Also, I don’t have just one reason for doing this. For a long time, I saw vegan and non-vegan as being two separate groups with a fence in the middle (and maybe some absolutist vegans like this idea). I wrote this post three years ago when veganism was new to me about that divide. But, I am coming to see that we are all together in this race, but some are just closer to the front. Some are cheering from the sidelines, and thinking about jumping in. It looks like it could even be fun.

It doesn’t matter so much whether you are in the very front, or walking part of the time, but be part of the movement. Eat the bagel, and stay in the race.

What is the point of this blog, and who is it for?

I started this blog about 4 years ago as a way to record my daily food drawings as a personal project. Then, in February 2012 I tried the 30 day vegan challenge and the website evolved.

It became a random assortment of blog posts writing about the meat industry and veganism, posting my own thoughts and relevant news articles, and even recipes as I participated in Vegan Mofo. All of this may have just been to get me started, and will end up evolving yet again.

Basically, there are two issues I am passionate about: the future of the planet for my children and the plight of the animals. They are both very important and they are also connected. It is a huge social movement and sometimes seems way too daunting to change the world’s accepted norms. However, it is also very exciting since it is something WE as regular people and consumers can make a difference about, every day, three times a day. I can’t make the world stop using fossil fuels, but I can vote with my dollar and my food choices against factory farms, drought, rain forest deforestation, and world hunger. It is amazing that we have this power and that we can actually do this.

I’ll be trying some different ideas out to see what is the best direction. For now, I feel strongly that this is not a blog for vegans, but rather for meat-eaters, meat-reducers, vegetarians and aspiring vegans. My next step will be finding a focus group I can run some of my ideas past. I do not want them to be vegan. As with design, it is so easy to get caught up with what we think works, or what we like. But we are not our audience.

Thank you for being part of the journey, and I value your input.

P.S. If you are a non-vegan and want to be part of the focus group, email me at or leave a comment.

Action steps we can all take

Studies show that people, in general, don’t give accurate representation of their behavior. So, many people who say they are vegetarian actually are not. Most people who think they don’t eat much meat, eat more than they realize. Wherever you are coming from, unless you are completely vegan, there are steps to take. The truly beautiful thing is that we can make this choice every single day at least three times. I would love to hear if you have other ideas, and if you try one of these.

Baby Steps

This is an evolving list that I created and will add to it. In no particular order…

1. Substitute almond, soy, coconut or rice milk where you might use dairy. Especially where you won’t even notice. If used in cereal or within a recipe, you won’t even notice it. Gradually you could try finding a milk you like with coffee. We just stopped drinking any milk alone, and drink water instead.

2. Buy earth balance instead of butter.

3. I highly recommend trying Just Mayo, the egg-free mayo that threw the egg industry into a panic.

4. Try one of the great meat alternatives in your tacos, or as part of a salad or sandwich. I will write a post on my favorites, but will mention Field Roast sausages as the best sausage alternative (apple sage is my favorite flavor).  I have to also mention the Gardein chickenless nuggets.

5. Reduce portions. If you feel you need to use meat in a recipe, try cutting your normal amount in half. You can even add more vegetables instead in most cases for lasagnes, soups, pasta dishes, etc. Don’t assume you will just eat less meat without making conscious decisions.

Eat less Chicken, fish and eggs

Many people decide to cut back on the red meat and consider that enough. Chickens (both meat and egg-laying) and fish account for 92% of the farm animals killed for food in the U.S. They also represent 95% of the days of animal suffering caused each year by omnivores (Veganomics).

The fact that poultry is one of the most contaminated meats also is shocking. It really feels like they are pushing to see how far they can push limits with consumers, even shipping chicken to China and back. As far as eggs, consider that all the male chicks born for the meat industry are ground up alive. Chicken and fish are perhaps harder for humans to relate to than mammals, however that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer.

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday is an international movement to help people reduce their meat consumption by 15%.

On average, Americans consume 8 ounces of meat per day – 45% more than the USDA recommends. Going meatless one day a week can reduce the risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help limit people’s carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

For more information on the benefits of reducing meat consumption along with delicious meatless recipes and other resources visit And be sure to sign up for our weekly Eater’s Digest newsletter with featured recipes and news.

Vegan before 6

Mark Bittman wrote a book on this, where he eats vegan for breakfast and lunch, but after 6, leaves it open. You’d need to read his book to learn all the details, but this seems like a way to curb meat consumption up to 2/3!

Join the Reducetarian Movement

Take the #eatlessmeat challenge and simply reduce meat
It is an identity, community, and movement. It is composed of individuals who are committed to eating less meat – red meat, poultry, seafood, and the flesh of any other animal. The concept is appealing because not everyone is able or willing to completely eliminate meat from their diet.

Try a 30 day Vegan Challenge

Give it a trial run. It is only for 30 days.

This is currently available FREE and will give you expert, daily guidance.

Please let us know if you have other ideas to reduce the strain that eating too much meat has caused for us all!

Watch videos

If all you do is spend a few hours to watch videos, that can be very motivating. Here are the most popular.

Forks Over Knives: This approaches more of the plant-based diet from a health angle. This was very impactful for me.

Cowspiracy, the sustainability secret: Now on Netflix. Eye-opening documentary about the meat industry, the environment, and why no one is talking about it.

Vegucated: If you think you could never be vegan, see what happens when this film follows 3 meat and cheese-loving New Yorkers as they try to adopt a vegan diet for 6 weeks.

Earthlings: To be honest, I have never watched this. It is a documentary about humanity’s use of other animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and for scientific research. I know it is powerful and uses undercover videos to expose the truth.

Ellen Degeneres interview: There may be better interviews than this, but I love Ellen and she explains her personal reasons is a 4 minute snippet. At the 3 minute mark, she makes a very interesting tie to personal positive energy.

Pups for Pigs (or pig pals)


We’re working on a new project combining love of pets with helping farm animals. I was inspired by our family’s dogs: pug Shayna, and Lola the French bulldog. If your dog would like to be considered a “pig pal”, email photos to me at

I’ve posted this on my personal FB page, and will take one representative from each breed for now.

If I use it, I will send you the digital image for personal use.

The concept is still evolving, but I envision there being an official certificate, and hopefully sponsorship of a real pig. If this takes off, look for “Cats for Chickens (and Cows)” next!


Goats and Floats!

Today we went out to Out to Pasture Sanctuary for their Goats and Floats work/visiting day.


It was my first visit there, and I didn’t really know what to expect. We arrived on a beautiful, sunny Fall day to find friendly people of all ages working together or just enjoying the animals.

Clio bypassed the apple cider press, heading straight towards the back pasture. Pigs roamed freely around in varying sizes and colors from small miniature pot belly pigs to medium-large pink pigs to an enormous pig! They were seriously cute with their little wagging tails and happy personalities. All the animals had stories, the largest 700 pound pig, Poppy, was a mascot at Sunnyside Elementary School who was mistakenly believed to be a potbelly pig at first. This confusion seems to happen not infrequently with city people adopting pigs.


I would consider myself to be a city person, but I somehow have a country girl. One of my most embarrassing moments was years ago at the State Country Fair when we were looking at the pigs and I was disturbed to see one with massive growths on it. I asked the person next to me “What’s that?” in horror. They replied with obvious incredulity, “You mean, his testicles?”. In my defense, I have not seen a lot of pigs up close and promise you, it did not look natural.

Clio adores all animals, and they seem to sense this. She went right up to the donkeys, who were very timid and ran away from me. They were soon letting her pet them.


We saw goats, llamas (which I cannot tell the difference between them and alpacas), rams, rabbits, a turkey, ducks and many more animals. All happy and safe, and it was uplifting to see them enjoying life in this environment! We met Kit and John the owners. I was astonished that they also have full-time jobs in the city and commute back and forth 4 days/week. It is an hour commute! It takes them 2 hours to take care of their animals in the morning, and almost an hour in the evening.

There seems to be a range of things to do there from painting, spreading bark chips on paths, repairing fences, deworming, cleaning stalls, and more. One of my favorite “jobs”, too fun to seem like work, was to get pears that had fallen on the tops of shelters off of the tarp roofs. As a team of us threw the pears on the ground, pigs and goats came running.

The volunteers are treated very well, with the promised ice cream floats (non-dairy coconut ice cream), fresh-pressed apple cider, and delicious cookies, pies, bread and other snacks. All vegan, and delicious.

I’d encourage you to check out their website, there are multiple ways to donate, and if you are in Oregon they have work parties and a place to donate items for yard sale by the Hollywood Fred Meyer. I am so impressed with the difference these two people make, and how they have a loyal team of volunteers to help them that are dedicated as well.

Thank you for opening up your farm, Kit and John. Thank you for what you are doing. Let me know if there is anything we can do to help spread the word. We plan to come back as often as you’ll have us. And Kit, if you ever want to share your recipe for those chocolate chip cookies with me, I can’t stop thinking about them.

When I die

This is a strange post to write. And honestly, I wanted to call it “If I die”, which I guess is way too optimistic.

I don’t like to think about unpleasant things- like impending earthquakes, or animals being tortured in factory farms, the Earth running out of water… but most of all I don’t like thinking about death. Although it is the most natural thing I suppose, it is not something we plan for like a wedding while we are relatively young and healthy.

Lately, I feel so ineffectual at promoting the benefits of eating less meat. I can only hope that I make a difference in some way. I am certainly not anyone famous. Even within our own families, I don’t know that we’ve influenced anyone. My mom has been the most supportive, and I really appreciate her willingness to accommodate, and experiment with plant-based cooking. Her chocolate mousse made with tofu is my new favorite birthday dessert.

Yesterday I heard that Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Life had just unexpectedly died while pursuing his dreams. In his short life, he made such a huge impact on so many people. He made a difference, and will continue to inspire people even now. Watch his Ted talk, I listened to him at the 2014 World Domination Summit. I’m so sad his life ended so soon, but I know that his life had great meaning and purpose. It was also a reminder that we only have limited time.

If When something happens to me… I hope that if my friends and family want to remember me, it is through eating less meat. I would feel like my death made some incremental change in the lives of the animals, and hopefully in turn our kids.

Sept 11: Mushroom Spinach Curry

This is from one of my favorite Indian resources, holy cow vegan. I made it so quickly, and it is really delicious. Pretty healthy too- just 1 T oil to sauté the onion, and used 1/2 cup light coconut milk.

I used a full 16 oz of mushrooms, and 4 loose cups of spinach, and curry powder instead of sanbar.

Just add brown rice and it is a quick, tasty meal. It is staying in my repertoire. Not as much a favorite for kids I would guess, will have to let you know on that. The fact that one of my kids doesn’t like mushrooms or onions doesn’t bode well since neither are disguised at all. Look at her photos on the website to see how it should look. It is almost impossible to mess up I think!

Mushroom Spinach Curry recipe

I’m excited to start cooking my Meal Mentor plans starting tomorrow! I bought all the ingredients for around $100 for what will hopefully be a full week’s worth of food. I did add a few things we just needed like bread, coffee and cereal. Some of the ingredients were very expensive like a bottle of maple syrup, but will be used for awhile. The 4 portobello mushrooms, artichoke hearts and 6 red peppers were a bit pricier items than I would normally purchase.

I’m running out of ideas and need some help with what to make. This was nice to not even think about it, just buy what was on the list. Meal planning really has made my life easier since I am not running to the store every day… I think we will save money in the end and with this meal plan, it uses only whole foods, no fake meats or processed items. The most worrying part is whether the kids will eat it some of these recipes that are a bit unusual like “lobster rolls” using artichoke hearts.

Here is the menu, take a look!