Amy's Vegan Venture

Living an animal-lover lifestyle in a McDiet world

The Breakfast of Champions

They say breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. I’ve always enjoyed breakfast, especially before I cut out animal products. Omelets, waffles, bacon. NOW that sounds disgusting! But I get a little bored of the typical oatmeal or cereal. 

So I wanted to have a little fun this morning. I thought of the sandwich that I’ve been eating at lunchtime recently. I’ve been focusing on strengthening my immune system and found out that eating probiotics can really help keep you healthy and minimize colds. So instead of lunch, I made this sandwich for breakfast and I’m so glad I did. Also, on the side I had a little fruit and yogurt parfait.

  

To make this sandwich, I toasted two slices of Dave’s Killer Bread and buttered it with Earth’s Balance. I topped both sides with sliced garlic. And then on one side I put sauerkraut and drizzled it with the balsamic vinegar and oil. On the other side I put sliced avocado and topped it with pink Himalayan salt and crushed pepper. Then I put the two sides together like a PB&J sandwich and voila! Yum! It has so much flavor and texture. So healthy for you too! For lunch I’ve added cucumber and/or spinach on it as well. 

  

   
To balance it out, I made my fruit and yogurt parfait. I used two different So Delicious coconut yogurts. I like the vanilla flavor but wanted less sugar so I added half unsweetened plain yogurt as well. Then I stirred in chia seeds and topped it off with mandarin oranges. Another yum!

 
The Breakfast of Vegan Champions!

 

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Oh, Miso Hungry!

“Sittin’ at home with my hungry kids

So I got the cook book for a recipe

Picked up the knife, then chopped the tofu and chard

Said, “Yo, this vegan, baby! Are you down with it?”

I dropped all in the pot, cooked until hot

Not having no idea if the boys would give a try

I’m like this is easy, but will it be a waste

I have an appetite for food, ’cause me so hungry.”

Inspired by 2 Live Crew

  
Yes, my son loves the miso soup! He was so into it, he HAD to use chopsticks. Granted there was still a lot of greens at the bottom of the bowl, but he begged for more, especially the tofu. Go figure?

Now my younger son, gave it one look and asked for a banana. Hey, at least it’s vegan.
15 Minute Miso Soup with greens & tofu

From The Minimalist Baker

 Ingredients
4 cups water

1/2 cup chopped green chard or other sturdy green

1/2 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup firm tofu, cubed

3-4 Tbsp white miso paste (fermented soy bean paste) with or without bonito (fish flavor, though bonito makes it non vegan- vegetarian-friendly.)

1 sheet (1/4 cup) nori (dried seaweed), cut into large rectangles , optional

Instructions

Place water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a low simmer.

Add nori and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

In the meantime, place 3 Tbsp of miso into a small bowl, add a little hot water and whisk until smooth. Then add to the soup and stir. This will ensure it doesn’t clump.

Add remaining ingredients to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and add more miso or a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve warm.

  

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Practice Makes Progress

Deciding to become vegan was an overnight decision I made. Deciding to write a blog was, well, I don’t know why I decided that. 

However, I decided to take online courses this month that started today. They are Blogging 101 & Writing 101. Today’s  assignment was just to write a post. Write about why I write this blog. 

So I’m already stumped, on day one. And it’s past midnight. I’m the typical procrastinator, not following through with things, waiting till the last minute to get just something turned in. Not like I was a slacker in school and not like I got bad grades. I just wasn’t passionate about what I studied most of the time. And so that’s why it surprises me about how well I’ve done as a vegan. For over a year now, I have not (intentionally) eaten meat. There were a couple times I thought it was a fully veggie pizza, but a slice of pepperoni found its way to my slice. Ew! And yes, I said pizza, and I don’t mean, cheese-free or even vegan cheese. Although, my tastebuds are starting to enjoy Daiya. So on that note, I’m not fully vegan. I admit it. And honestly it’s because I can be a lazy, busy chef-in-training. I’ve got a couple little guys’ mouths to feed too!   

So as I write this post, I think about the word “practice.” For this last year I have been practicing at being a vegan and a blogger. Practice makes progress. But the reason why I am doing both, as a vegan and a blogger, is because I care. I am a compassionate person. I want to help save many animals’ lives. I want to save the environment. I want to pass on this legacy to my sons to make the world a better place. I want to share my story to others so they can learn from me and I can learn from them. 

God didn’t create me to be a vegan or a blogger. I was created to be a compassionate person. Show love. Learn. Grow. As I reflect on an amazing man who recently left this planet, Dr. Wayne Dyer reminds me that we all have music to share with others before we die. What’s yours?  

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Dog spelled backwards is God

I’m sure you’ve heard before that dog spelled backwards is God. That is no mistake. I am now Linda Blair’s newest fan. You know, the young actress from “The Exorcist”? Poor woman. She will always be remembered for that one role. But I now know that she is vegan and an animal rights activist. She has her own cookbook called “Going Vegan!” and an organization helping dogs get adopted.   

I agree with her quote. So many people turn a blind eye to the reality about what’s happening to other earthlings. On top of that, they think they’re not contributing just because they’re not the ones directly abusing or killing the animals. But when you order that steak, buy that leather jacket, go to the zoo or circus, you’re paying people to abuse innocent beings.  

Today I stopped at the pet store and picked up some vegan dog food and treats. It feels good knowing that I am not feeding my animals other animals. Why do people think their pets need to eat bison, duck, lamb, chicken, rabbit? There is evidence showing that pets who eat a vegan diet live healthier, longer lives. Here is a sweet dog, not my own, who loves ALL animals too.  
Also today I was visiting with my mom and we got on the subject of my compassionate choice to no longer eat animal products. She asked the infamous question: “Didn’t God create animals for us to eat?” Ugh! Where do I begin? For 36 years, I did not eat animals thinking “God wants me to eat animals so I guess I need to do it.” No, before I became an animal rights vegan, I thought that’s just what we were supposed to do, I liked to eat meat and other animal products, I went along with what everyone else was doing. Ok, and maybe back in the day we were supposed to eat animals, but that was for survival. Yes, Jesus ate fish. But he didn’t mass produce them, ruin their environment, and sell them for profit. No. Today, cows are artificially inseminated to make more cows, to have the milk producing hormones, to have their babies taken away from them, to be connected to pumps making milk, causing them to also get infected because they are hooked up so much. Also when they stop producing milk, they are then seen as useless and sent to the slaughter house for meat production. This is at about 5 years old, way before their natural lifespan, up to 25 years old. Click here for more details. Their calves are also sent off to the slaughter house at an early age and are eaten as veal. Mmm… Baby cow!

God didn’t plan on having humans so we would kill baby chickens because they aren’t females. No, male chicks from egg laying hens don’t have value because they typically don’t produce enough meat and they don’t produce eggs. So how about we either suffocate them in a plastic bag or better yet, let’s just grind them up alive. Yes, you heard (read) me right! Get it over quick. They are dispensable. They are objects. This is just the beginning. Click here for more details. 

The list goes on with all farm animals and fish. And don’t think you’re doing the animal a favor by buying “humane,” “cage-free,” etc. When there’s money involved, they can say anything and people “buy” it. It’s marketing. It’s a scheme. They all end up with the same fate too.

I really couldn’t answer my mom when she asked this question. In fact, when people ask this type of question, I don’t feel like they want a response. So I just was upset and told her I disagree. And now I’m writing this post and will ask her, and others, to read it.   

I have two dogs, Brutus & Pepper. They are part of the family. They were our first two children. But why, oh why, are they any more significant than that nameless pig stuck in a cage filled with its feces its whole life?

  

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Shaking the World

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I went into a meeting today with an individual to discuss how we can help each others’ businesses. We met at the Starbucks near my home. I planned on buying his coffee, but he insisted on buying mine. So I ordered my favorite, grande iced cinnamon dolce latte with coconut milk, no whip. He ordered a grande iced latte. But he was curious why I asked for coconut milk. He wondered if it’s for my health or I’m allergic to dairy. Do I dare say? I barely know him. We’re there to talk business and I don’t want to rub him the wrong way.

Well, in Amy-fashion, I couldn’t NOT tell him that I live a mostly vegan lifestyle for animal rights. As I’ve explained to my sister, I’m not vegan to keep it a secret. If someone has a problem with what I say, that only says something about them. Only behind closed doors do I say things in a more blunt way. Most of the time when the topic is brought up, I say things more like “Did you know…?” Did you know there no way to humanely slaughter an animal? Did you know that pigs are as smart, if not smarter, than dogs? Did you know that cow milk is only meant for calves? People still may get on the defense (if God created animals, we’re supposed to eat them), say stupid jokes (vegetables have feelings), and rationalize (where do you get your protein?).

  
But this new friend of mine started asking real, thoughtful questions. He said he rarely eats meat but loves dairy too much. We had a really nice conversation and he even said that he’s probably the easiest convert ever. I laughed and said I’m not here to convert people. But I am interested in teaching people the truth if they’re open. And he was! One person at a time, right? One year ago, I made the decision. So we all have to start somewhere. I encouraged him to take baby steps. All people really need to do is start putting in new foods to crowd out the old ones. Watching documentaries helps. Trying new recipes. Talking with other vegans. And maybe, just maybe, starting their own blog about their venture. 

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Summertime and the vegan livin’ is easy

 
Summertime & the vegan livin’ is easy. BBQ tofu? Yes, please!

  
I saw a recipe for BBQ tofu & actually really liked it. It was meaty in texture and the sauce was what made it. I rounded this meal off with grilled veggie kabobs, mashed potatoes, pineapple & watermelon. The tofu was baked in the oven, but the veggies & pineapple were put on the grill.

Steve pulled out the grill again another night. We had veggie burgers on rolls smeared with avocado. On the side we had sweet potato fries, corn on the cob & of course the in-season watermelon. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Wish I had a picture for this one too.

What’s funny is my 4 year old son was excited to eat these types of food, especially the veggie burger. “I love veggie burgers!” And Dylan can’t get enough watermelon.

We topped all this off with some iced tea & we were officially celebrating summer!

What’s your fave summer food?

Here’s a pic of Conor getting his fill of his fave seasonal fruit.

  

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Why did the tofu cross the road?

Why did the tofu cross the road? To prove he wasn’t chicken!

  
Wow! I can’t believe how many jokes for, and against, vegans there are.

And why do I ALWAYS have to defend myself? I’m just being the voice for animals who don’t have voices, not to mention I’m doing what I can to reduce my carbon footprint so my children and grandchildren have a future.

My sister tells me I don’t have to tell people I’m vegan. That it’s none of their business. And I probably don’t… They’ll find out other ways.

For instance, last week I brought lunch to my husband’s work and “met” his new co-worker. She said  “oh yeah, you’re gluten-free.” I looked at her funny. And she said, “oh no, you’re vegan.” As if they’re related. And by the way, my name is not “Vegan.” She doesn’t even know my name. Then she goes on to tell me how she could never stop eating cheese. Very common response and because… drum roll please… Cheese is addictive! Yes, the protein in milk breaks down into a morphine-like substance. Ha! There you go! One huge reason why many people can’t go vegan. 

  
So that part of the conversation wasn’t unusual. What was unexpected was how she went onto say how she recently saw a huge truck transporting chickens to the slaughterhouse and she was smiling and laughing about how scared they looked! Yes, this conversation was disturbing and inappropriate, but you would be surprised at how many similar conversations I have with others that feel similar. Maybe not this extreme, but goes in a bad direction. I still never officially met her. The only way I learned her name was by asking my husband, who by the way was proud of how I handled myself in this predicament. I told her that animals are smart and have feelings too. Hmmm… How it would have felt to… no I can’t go there. Sorry!

  
On the other hand some people who love me and have known me all of my life don’t appear supportive of my compassionate decision to live a close to vegan lifestyle. The other day my parents and I were having lunch at their home with their friend, Dave. Conor wanted chocolate milk so I asked my dad to pour him a glass. He still drinks cow milk. I asked my mom to pour a small glass of almond milk for Dylan. Dave, out of curiosity, asked if he drinks almond milk because his belly gets upset from cow milk. I said “No, we eat a mostly vegan diet.” So the conversation began. Ugh! Yes, I could have sugar-coated things by lying, but what for? I could have said that his belly does get upset. Or that he prefers the flavor. But those cows don’t have voices, I do. So of course I was ready to speak for the cows… My dad asked about the reasoning for not drinking cow milk. “The cow isn’t slaughtered.” I hesitated but but then went on to explain that they are slaughtered. You would be amazed to know the truth about the dairy industry. Their lives are cut way short when their milk dries up. And oh by the way, the dairy cows are raped to get pregnant in order to have milk producing hormones often. I spared him that gory detail.

So that was a normal part of the conversation. But again, it had to go in a bad direction. My mom turned to Dave and said, in a sarcastic tone of voice, “Don’t buy a leather couch.” They laughed, yes laughed, and I said “That’s right. That is the skin of dead cows. What did the cow do to deserve that? It was born. That’s it.” She went on to tell her friend how I opposed her buying a new leather couch. Yes I did. And she looked at me explaining that it was her decision. And I agreed. However, not only is it the skin of a dead animal, but it’s unhealthy with deadly chemicals.

Time after time I am forced to be the voice for animals. It is very rare for people to just accept the fact and move on. They feel guilty. They are in denial. They are on the defense. I don’t blame them. I used to be one of them. But then I woke up. Ignorance is NOT bliss. So many animals are suffering. The world is hurting. Our bodies are at risk. I will continue to speak up. What good is it to live a vegan lifestyle to keep it to myself? It is no secret. I am, however, rethinking ways to respond to people’s questions, comments, inappropriate conversations. 

Here is an idea: “You would assume I’m an animal lover, right? Wrong. I really hate plants.”

  
Any other funny responses? I’d love to hear them!

  
 

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Extreme Parenting

Raise your child as compassionate or apathetic? That is the question.

  
On Memorial Day a woman came up to me and my husband. She asked if we cooked up our meat on the barbeque yet. Steve right away pointed to me and said “She’s vegan.” She stepped back and she lost eye contact with me. She was uncomfortable. Steve could have said that I practice witchcraft and she would have had the same reaction.

Over the weekend, Steve brought Conor to Chick-Fil-A and he ordered chicken nuggets for Conor. I was sad to see him eat, yet again, more dead animal. All along I’ve been telling Conor it’s up to him but that Dylan & I don’t eat animals. But Conor seemed to have been going in the rebellious direction, towards his father’s tendencies. This time, though, I brought him in his room and asked him if I can show him why I don’t eat animals. He said yes. So I opened up his vegan books Steve gave him (yeah right), just kidding, I gave him for his birthday. “That’s why we don’t eat animals” has some cute illustrations that I feel are age appropriate.  So I showed Conor the pictures where animals are happy playing in grass with their friends and families. Then the next page it shows the animals scared, alone, caged up, in filth. It’s all the truth so I find it necessary to show him. We went through pages about multiple animals, while I spoke with a genuinely sad voice. Conor looked at me and said he won’t eat animals anymore. But then went on to ask if he can drink chocolate milk. So that opened up another (quick) “can of worms.” I asked him how he would feel if someone took him away from me when he was a baby & that he couldn’t have my milk, or more currently that someone took Dylan away so other people could have my milk. I didn’t go into more details than that or show him the real truth in videos. He seemed to think deeply about it.

Some people may think that this is too far. Too extreme. That it’s not right for my boys to hear or see what is happening to animals. Well, I have a different point of view. Don’t you think we should be asking ourselves why this truth is even happening in the first place? Why should I have to hide my children from the fact that when someone eats bacon that it came from a cute, smart pig? Or that when they’re eating a chicken nugget that the chicken had a family?
  
I value compassion and am passing on this legacy to my children. Ignorance is NOT bliss. When someone is ignoring the truth that animals are suffering and don’t have voices, they themselves are part of the problem. Funny how people think that giving your child plant-based whole foods out of compassion for animals is extreme.  No one ever questioned my parenting when I fed my boys Happy Meals and pizza. No one ever asked me if I was concerned about childhood obesity or diabetes. No! Instead people now ask me if my children are getting enough protein and calcium. Ha! 

I’d rather be a person of extreme compassion than a person who supports extreme suffering. Fortunately I’m not the only person who feels this way. Check out these other articles and blogs:

http://www.bitesizevegan.com/vegan-lifestyle-2/is-a-vegan-diet-is-too-extreme/

http://www.oopsimavegan.com/blog/is-being-vegan-a-bit-too-extreme

http://gentlelivingonline.com/vegan-2/youre-too-vegan/

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Neat “Meat”

I grew up on tv shows like the Cosby Show & Family Ties. These families would sit around the dinner table and talk. My family looked like these families at the table, with maybe a bit more fights. Either way, it was overall enjoyable and I have always pictured my future family doing the same thing. 

Well last night we did it… at 8:30pm! But it was so worth it. At 6pm I started working on the lentil-walnut loaf. But whoa… so many ingredients and so much prep work! Fortunately we all liked it, except for Conor. The whole meal was delicious and vegan! Along with the lentil-walnut loaf (aka Neatloaf), I served mashed potatoes (with Earth Balance butter & soy milk), and steamed veggies. I recently took a vegan cooking class and we made “neatballs.” So whenever I make something that is a meat alternative, I just use the word “neat” in front of it. Cute, huh? I think for non-vegans, the dish may be more palatable.  Our minds are very powerful.

  

As I practice cooking new recipes, I improve and have more fun. But I always seem to dread the aftermath of dirty dishes and spills. If only someday Alice from The Brady Bunch would show up on my doorstep…

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Friend or food?

To eat or not to eat. That is the question.    

Now as I reflect on my life as an omnivore, I am disgusted that I ate dead (previously abused and tortured) animals. There’s no sugar-coating it. The way meat is advertised objectifies the body of this innocent animal. From the breast, to the ribs, to even the innards. Go to China… eat a dog, monkey brain, or even camel hump. I’m so glad the American culture hasn’t adopted these practices. But still, I’m not satisfied. Change needs to come.

The boys and I went on a play date on Thursday to Rancho San Antonio Space Preserve in Los Altos. We had a great time exploring nature: creek, hawk, maybe poison ivy… Here are pictures of my sweet animal lovers.

Then we came across Deer Hollow Farm. Cute, but definitely not for real animal lovers. Not vegan. I had to hold back my negative comments about the signs. My friends don’t want to hear my honest thoughts. I just don’t know them we’ll enough. But I had to take pictures. What’s wrong (in terms of animal rights) with these pictures?

            

I mean, really?! Brainwashing generation after generation that these animals don’t have rights. That they are objects: meat, milk, eggs, leather, fur, brushes, and even soap.

We have two dogs, Brutus & Pepper. What makes them more significant than a pig, cow, or chicken?

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