Monday, December 20, 2010

An old one but good one from the myspace blog

Aug 13, 2008
Si Hoc Legere Scis Nimium Eruditionis Habes
Current mood:thirsty

Recently I missed my 20 year high school reunion due to the obvious condition of Gimp Foot and an underlying case of Cold Feet. Not so sure I wanted to see ALL of the people I went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School with. Although it wasn't completely bad---I received a really wonderful education that enabled me to go to an excellent college, graduate cum laude and subsequently become an alcoholic who works in a grocery store. Needless to say, staying at home in bed reading a massive pile of library books sounded really, really OK after visualizing myself standing in my high school cafeteria feeling surly and holding on to a ginger ale with a death grip. Ambivalent does not even begin to sum it up. Avoiding conversations about my present state of being seemed, ummm, integral to maintaining my sanity. Ok, yeah, I'm a total chicken shit. But really, I seriously couldn't get out of bed or put my foot down.

The one thing that I always thought was cool about my high school was that they offered Latin. Nevertheless, I decided to take Spanish for 3 years instead because I knew I could cruise by and spend most of the time gossiping with my high school best friend J. en espanol instead of actually having to study anything. I felt smugly sorry for all of the Anglo kids who struggled with the language and would get bored and sneak out to chain smoke in the bathroom. Being secretly Cuban never felt so good again.

My justification for avoiding Latin like the plague was that I was conserving my energy for AP Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology. Really, I felt scared shitless of Latin. Fascinated, but not up for the challenge. Intimidated by the cream of the crop rich kids that were crammed into that classroom. Probably this was all a foreshadowing of my secret penchant for taking the easy way out (ie, vodka) that would rear its ugly head somewhere midway through my freshman year of college.

So in honor of my alma mater, here are some phrases I definitely wouldn't have learned in high school Latin class. Enjoy the raging nerdiness!

Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc: "we gladly feast on those who would subdue us" (actually, this is the mock Latin motto of the Addams Family but whatever, it's my blog)

Ubi nihil vales, ibi nihil velis: "Where you are worth nothing, there you will wish for nothing" (that pretty much sums up high school for me)

Amor et melle et felle est fecundissmismus: "love is rich with both honey and venom"

Asinus asinum fricat: "the jackass rubs the jackass" (Bush and Cheney, anyone?)

Cave laborem: "beware of work" (I'm going to use this as my email signature)

Descensus in cuniculi cavum: "The descent into the cave of the rabbit" (curiouser and curiouser!)

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro: "Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"

Nemo saltat sobrius: "Nobody dances sober" (that would pretty much sum up the past year of my life)

Odi profanum vulgus et arceo: "I hate the unholy rabble and keep them away" (perhaps my family motto)

Post Coitum Omne Animal Triste Est: "After sexual intercourse every animal is sad"

Noli me tangere: "do not touch me"

Amicule, deliciae, num is sum qui mentiar tibi? "Baby, sweetheart, would I lie to you?"

Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem: "In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags."

Diabolus fecit, ud id facerem!: "The devil made me do it!"

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione: "I'm not interested in your stupid religious cult."

Friday, December 10, 2010

"I like to cheer. I like to hunt."

I was driving to work this week when I heard this piece ("For Some Girls, The Ultimate Goal Is To Kill A Buck") aired on NPR as part of their Hidden Life of Girls series. It's about a 15 year old cheerleader named Magan Heber who also is an avid hunter. The piece just got more and more disturbing as it went on. It describes her first kill:

"It took a year of hunting before Magan killed her first deer. It was a doe. "I started shaking when I put the gun up, so [Dad] had to hold it steady for me," Magan says. But she did it. She hit the doe in the shoulder. Marcy couldn't believe it. Magan was hooked. "I just like the peace and quiet," Magan says, explaining the appeal."

I don't know, maybe I am confused. When I want peace and quiet I go lock myself in my room, go meditate, go to the library or go on a hike, not pick up a gun and shoot an animal. That does not sound peaceful to me.

This was immediately followed by the next comment, which almost sent me over the edge:

"She says she likes it when she sees a mother deer playing with her fawns. "I think it's cute. 'Cause, you know, you can't kill them yet. But when they grow up, it's really good food. I don't know. I just like it.""

Yeah, fawns are ridiculously cute. Do I ever look at them and think, "Hey, there's my future food! Grow up faster so I can eat you! ". Nope.

I am, and always have been, baffled and disturbed by hunting (and cheerleading too, actually). As a child, I couldn't stand the idea of my parents putting out mouse traps, never mind shooting deer from a deer blind. I used to steal and dismantle mouse traps constantly as a kid (never too early to start a career in activism, I suppose).

Part of me really wants to understand why. Why would this little girl be so enticed by shooting and killing animals? What is the real, unspoken appeal of this activity for her? Does it make her feel powerful? Does it give her a sense of control or safety? Is it just a big rush? Does she feel like it puts her on equal footing with her father and brother? Is it rebellion: proving to the boys that girls can do anything, including hunt? Or perhaps it's none of the above.

I also have to ask myself a few questions as well, starting with why does this disturb me so much more than the idea of teenaged boys hunting deer? Is it the juxtaposition of cheerleading with hunting (definitely disturbing)? Or do I harbor some sexist illusions that girls are less prone to violence against animals than boys? It made me think of The Sexual Politics of Meat by vegan feminist Carol Adams and her use of the term from linguistics, the "absent referent":

"Behind every meal of meat is an absence: the death of the animal whose place the meat takes. The "absent referent" is that which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product. The function of the absent referent is to keep our "meat" separated from any idea that she or he was once an animal, to keep the "moo" or "cluck" or "baa" away from the meat, to keep something from being seen as having been someone."

Well, there's definitely no absent referent here. This is some immediate, hands-on DIY killin'. And it blows the theory that women have some sort of inherent, spiritual kindness and kinship with animals right out of the water.

The pictures (warning: dead deer right away) in the piece confused all of this for me even more. She's just a tiny little thing, posing happily in these grisly shots of deer hung upside down or splayed on the ground with their tongues lolling out. She looks truly thrilled in both of the shots, actually. I don't even know where to begin with that. It was easier when I didn't have such a vivid visual image of her as an individual and there was just a disembodied voice in my head.

Vegan Pizza at The Pizza Place, Wynn Casino: review

I HAD to do it. Gotta work my way through the Wynn's vegan offerings sooner or later! I went last weekend to investigate with some of my vegan and veg friendly friends who were visiting from Florida. We had the vegan pizza with Teese cheese and all of the available veggies as well as the salad and vegan garlic knots. They even had vegan gelato on the menu (!!) as well as gluten free options and other clear allergen listings. It was a totally separate menu that they whipped out from behind the counter.

This is also one of the less expensive places to eat at The Wynn, as well as somewhere you could easily bring omni family and friends. There's even a beautiful manmade waterfall outside! And if that isn't your scene, there's flatscreen TVs with sports for those who are so inclined.

The pizza was quite tasty. The Teese cheese was a pleasant change from Daiya: more stretchy and less oily. I liked it and would definitely buy Teese if I could get my hot little vegan hands on it! The pizza came out very fresh (obviously made to order) and the service was great. My friends even asked, "Why are all the servers so incredibly nice here?" Oh, and the garlic knots were amazing! Real East Coast style---I devoured them all by myself.

Ironically, a few weeks ago I was with my vegan buddy Easy Ice at the Riviera while she was working an event and I overheard some guys talking about working at the Wynn. One of them stated that Steve Wynn was "totally fucking insane" and really didn't sound like he liked working there all that much. He also said that he's a control freak, but that he thought it probably takes being a control freak to build a casino empire. Yeah, probably! I've also heard a lot of blowback from my brothers' friends in the restaurant industry who know people who work there. Apparently a lot of the employees (including some of the chefs) think Steve Wynn's vegan thing is a very annoying kick that he's temporarily on and that hopefully he will get over it soon. I hope not, because selfishly I want to keep eating all of his awesome food!!! And obviously, it's great for the animals and for creating awareness of veganism locally and in the media. Thank you, Steve Wynn---I'll be back!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Alchemy, Magic, Whatevs: Vegan Cooking Is Cool

As I boiled wiggly chunks of tofu for tofu ricotta, I realized that one of the things I love most about vegan cooking is the magical aspect of it. It's like alchemy: turning tofu into part of a vegan yummy lasagna that even my omnivore relatives love. Tofu looks even more like white jello after you boil it; it jiggles and looks like alien food as I strain it. The ingredients are unremarkable in my shopping cart and on the stove and then suddenly it all comes together at the end. I never got that satisfaction when I cooked with animal products. I hated it, wore vinyl gloves and felt grossed out and depressed. It was definitely far from magical. When you cook chicken, it still just looks like chicken when you're done. Vegan cooking has alchemical bells and whistles and secret tricks. It's like a game to figure out the starting ingredients sometime. It's witchcraft! And don't even get me started on vegan cookbooks. They are my crack. The first ones I had were hoarded in a little pile in my kitchen in Austin. I especially have fond memories of 365 Dairy Free Recipes and the Uncheese Cookbook. Getting excited to try out new the early 90's and the days before the internet, getting new vegan recipes was like discovering hidden treasure.

I am so glad that there is no turkey on my family's table this year. Even in my years of omnivorous lapse, I always dreaded Thanksgiving and haven't eaten meat on that day since 1994. This year, it's fun and it's an Italian vegan potluck feast. I better get cracking on all of this cooking! Lasagne with porcini mushrooms, basil ricotta, veggies and the holy grail of ingredients: truffle salt! I finally found it and it's even local (so there!). Also making broccoli rabe with vegan sausage and carmelized onions and vegan tiramisu cupcakes. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top 5 Things NOT To Say To Someone When They Are Single

I alternate between being very, very aggravated and slightly amused when people in couples talk to me about being single like it's a disease that I need immediate treatment for, lest they catch it. Don't worry! I won't blow on you and give you Singleitis. And no, there's not a vaccine for that. Although there could be a new medication with side effects that include happiness, comfy pajamas, vegan cookies, endless episodes of LOST, blogging, writing novels, sleeping comfortably, never getting into fights, no annoying pseudo-inlaws and not having to motherfucking answer to anyone, ever.

So in no particular order: my top 5 trite, Trying-To-Comfort-The-Pathetic-Singleton things to NOT say to a single person:

1. Don't worry, you'll meet someone soon.
Do I look worried? Is this my worried face? No, this is my blissful, "I'm a free bitch, baby!" face. Look, I could go to the nearest 7-11 and "meet someone soon", but that doesn't mean I want to.

2. You just haven't met the right person yet.
Yup. I've met Dumb, Dumb and Dumber, the Uncrowned King Of All Liars, the Uncrowned Queen Of All Evil, Jealous Control Freak Dude 2.0, The Only Book I've Read Is The Bible Guy, Sensitive Chick With A Lot Of Issues Who Ends Up Being Totally Nuts, The You're A Vegan? I'm A Hunter Man and the I'm Really A Straight Girl But I'm Just Really Into You. And that's just a few reasons why I like being single.

3. Have you tried internet dating?
No, I've been living under a rock for the past decade. Next!

4. You always meet someone when you aren't looking.
You know what happens to me when I am not looking? Accidents. Accidents happen to me when I don't look. Seriously, what kind of crazy, quasi-Zen bullshit is that? Is it a koan? 'Cuz it should be if it isn't.

5. Ooooh, I know the greatest (fill in the blank)! (He or she) would be perfect for you!
Really? Because blind dates always work out so well for me! Kind of like picking a doctor at random from the phone book.

So peeps in couples, think twice before you assume that every single person you meet is just dying to meet someone. Maybe they're happier than you are! Or maybe they aren't, whatever. The take home message is: I will be single until I'm not. I try to keep the door open to all possibilities in life, but right now I would prefer it to be mostly closed. And now the Universe will probably curse me with the Prince or Princess Charming as soon I post this blog.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Animal Rights Reading: The Scalpel and the Butterfly

"Let us work against the principle then; not against personalities. For it [vivisection] is a weed that requires more than seven, or seven times seven of us to extirpate."--Helene Blavatsky to Anna Bonus Kingsford

I am currently reading The Scalpel and the Butterfly: The War Between Animal Research and Animal Protection by Deborah Rudacille. It's interesting how the thread of violence and controversy ran through the animal rights movement even in the nineteenth century. Reading about Anna Kingsford, an early champion of the anti-vivisection and vegetarian movement, putting a death curse on vivisectionists Claude Bernard and Paul Bert sounds eerily familiar. Death threats to researchers are apparently not anything new under the animal rights sun. And neither are personality clashes or hugely public squabbles between big names in the movement. Or sensationalism and in-fighting...even the Victorians were doing it! The clash between Anna Kingsford and Frances Powers Cobbe pre-dated the current "abolitionist" vegan versus "welfarist" vegan schism by over a hundred years. I just don't get the in-fighting in the movement right now at all. Even just seeing a re-tweet of any of Gary Francione's smug abolitionist rants is enough to make me cringe and hit refresh on Twitter. Believe me, if you want to make people NOT want to be vegan or a supporter of animal rights, that is definitely the way to do it.

I think the twelve step ideas of "attraction rather than promotion", "principles before personalities" and "love and tolerance is our code" could go a long way in attracting people to the movement. Although I think I would replace "tolerance" with compassion, since I think that is more to the point. Present the facts in a non-hysterical way if people are interested, don't bait, get preachy or angry and let them decide for themselves. Be the healthiest, happiest vegan activist you can be. Advocate, don't discriminate. Although there is a place and a time for in-your-face protesting, I wonder sometimes if it is actually turning more people off than it is attracting people into the movement. One of the people who was my vegan role model is a dear friend of mine who is an activist and has been a vegan for over 17 years. She is the least preachy vegan I've ever met and an amazing person. She consistently inspired and encouraged me to try being vegan again no matter how many times I fell down...face first into a container of greek yogurt (she teases me about that now!). Her dedication and positive example made me want to be vegan even more.

And before I forget: my family has agreed to have our first ever vegetarian Thanksgiving!!! I am so stoked. Since 1994 I have had my tofurkey all by my lonesome while everyone else ate turkey, but this year we will all be sharing a big vegetarian Italian feast. I think they agreed because I said I would do most of the cooking! Whatever---it feels like a huge exciting victory to me! Even when I had my icky foray back into omnivorous eating, I never ate Thanksgiving turkey again after 1994. That Thanksgiving was my first vegan epiphany, so I am grateful to be able to celebrate this occasion meat-free with my family this year.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan Guide To Sephora, part one

The whole guide is coming soon, I swear! This is a personal pet project of mine, born out of the fact that I totally fracking love Sephora. I am such a girl.

I recently 100% veganized all of my cosmetics at Sephora and it was a very interesting experience. It also inadvertently ended up being an educational experience for me as well as for the awesome sales associate who was helping me (ironically also named Maria: we are legion, and we are taking over the world, bitches!). She didn't know what carmine was and looked like she was about to hurl when I told her that it was red pigment from crushed up beetles. Oh, and did I mention the potential neurotoxin part? I had heard this when I worked for Whole Foods, but I haven't found any information yet to substantiate that claim. I'm working on it, though! Research Science Girl to the rescue... anyway, Maria was awesome and I made sure to compliment her to Sephora. I am a firm believer in the Veganic Pay It Forward: if someone goes way out of their way to really help me find vegan stuff or food, I write a glowing letter to the company ASAP and mention the person by name. I love you, fellow vegans, but some of us are (for lack of a more delicate term) assholes. I've certainly been a hysterical vegan asshole in the past when I was frantically looking for vegan eats and there was nothing to be found but iceberg lettuce and blank stares of incomprehension. It's my karmic duty now to be the most joyful, kind, positive vegan I can be every single day. And it's certainly a hell of a lot more fun than being a dour, angry, jaded, judgemental bizatch.

But I digress. For now, the best bets are Urban Decay, Tarte, a foundation by DuWop and one lip balm by The Balm. I also know for sure that Fresh, Too Faced and LaVanilla also do not test on animals, nor does Benefit (I wrote and asked). I am working on getting vegan listings from them as well as other companies. I also wrote Sephora and asked if they had a list of cruelty-free companies/vegan products. Pretty sure they don't have it, but at least I can let them know that people are interested!

Urban Decay has a handy printable shopping list here:

And Tarte does, too---they actually certified their products with PETA (oooh!):

Here is a link to The Balm's vegan lip treatment; not only is it vegan, but all proceeds are donated to pug rescue:

DuWop carries a really nice vegan anti-aging foundation (ahem!). Yeah, I need it. Being over 40 ain't pretty, even if you are vegan and sucking down green smoothies like they're the new crack:

Too Faced has lovely "teddy bear hair" cruelty-free, synthetic brushes:

That's it for now, but I will post more once I get some further information from the companies I wrote to. Please comment if you have any additional sneaky insider vegan Sephora tips or information!

Vegan Guide To Sephora... coming soon, I swear! I have a wee bit of an, um, obssession with Sephora. I always have had a difficult time

Check Myself Before I Wreck Myself

Deep listening is easier said than done. I work as a nutritional consultant over the phone, and I speak with people from all over the country who have questions about the supplements we sell or just general questions about health, diet and lifestyle. I get way excited when I get to speak with fellow vegans and vegetarians. Most days it's really interesting and some days it's kind of like one of the episodes of Parks & Recreation where Amy Poehler's character is getting irrationally questioned or yelled at during a town hall meeting: "Why doesn't your park have hamburgers? I WANT HAMBURGERS AT MY PARK!" I will admit, sometimes all of the nonsensical questions, endless complaining and negativity really gets to me. I remind myself silently to take a deep breath, to not take it personally and to listen to the person as deeply as I can. No judgement, no thoughts about anything other than what the person is telling me--just be there to 100% listen to and serve that person for how ever long I am on the phone with them. I speak with non-vegans all day, and I work in an office where I am the only vegan/vegetarian. Sometimes I feel very uncomfortable counselling people about non-vegan choices, but I am not getting paid to be Super Vegan. I am getting paid to be helpful. Believe me, I take every opportunity to educate people in making healthy, vegan choices whenever I can. Sometimes it's not so cut and dry, though. And sometimes (though rarely) a 100% vegan life is not appropriate for people.

Case in point: today I had an interesting call from a woman who has a hereditary genetic disorder called fructose intolerance. Her body lacks an enzyme that is necessary in order to break down fructose. Most vegetables and all fruits are off limits to her or she becomes violently ill. When left untreated, HFI can be fatal. She shared with me that she became a vegetarian in college and almost died (!!). She would prefer to be a vegetarian, but she can't. Actually, she would prefer to not have to live her life with a very limited list of foods that she can eat and an extremely long list of things she can't eat, including most supplements. And I thought my shopping trips and restaurant adventures were annoying sometimes? It's far easier to be a vegan, especially these days when even casinos are veganizing their restaurants.

It started as a angry complaint-type conversation where we almost got into an argument. I became defensive and irritated before I heard the whole story about why she was calling. I heard the stress and anger in her voice and I could see how this whole interaction was going to go unless I checked myself. So I took a deep breath and stopped fighting and just listened, thinking, "Hmmm, I wonder what will happen now?". Curious and friendly: you almost can't go wrong if you keep that in your heart. Any time my curiosity starts to get edged out, I know I am in trouble.

It ended up being a great conversation where I not only learned a lot from her about her condition and ended up with her being happy and thankful, but I was able to also learn something about my listening skills. Although I think of myself as an excellent listener, I loooove to be right when it comes to so-called scientific facts. Occasionally the evil debate bug bites me and I want to intellectually duel someone until I "win" the debate. Not useful. I'm not a motherfucking lawyer. I'm a nutritional consultant who happens to be a vegan and a half assed student of Buddhism. Extending compassion to all sentient beings does not include giving them an intellectual beat down. What Would The Buddha Do? Maybe drink a nice hot cup of STFU. Smile, breathe and listen. Be a witness. Be humble. Be open. And definitely be curious.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In honor of the Vegan MoFo

Here's what I am eating today...So not exciting, but vegan!

B: green smoothie (genuine health vegan protein, hemp milk, raspberries, pineapple juice, spinach, fiber powder) coffee with coconut creamer
S: cliff builder bar
L: green beans, red peppers, 2 boca faux chicken patties, peach oolong tea
S: soy delicious yogurt with 2 T of hemp seeds, cranberry green tea
D: buddha's delight with a ton of veggies and tofu and...more tea!

Going home to do some much needed yoga tonight. I got a new Jivamukti DVD. A little scared of it. Will have to report back on how scary or not scary it is!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tastebuds Are Mysterious Things Indeed: Confessions of a Junk Food Junkie

In the past, I couldn't stay vegan and off of junk food for long enough to experience this new phenomenon that's taking me by surprise: my tastebuds are doing weird shit. Normally, I wouldn't even think twice about scarfing down some soy ice cream or an entire bag of Tings or potato chips with vegan ranch dip. I should have had stock in Uncle Eddie's and Liz Lovely's. And now, suddenly, everything tastes too greasy, too salty or too sweet. What the fuck? I don't even like adding salt to my food anymore. I used to have all of this different fancy salt I was hooked on and now I don't even like it! I bought some smoked salt last week and tasted it and immediately decided to take it to work and give it away. I'm enjoying simple, healthy, whole foods. It's scaring me! Now I dream of green smoothies and brussels sprouts and kale and sweet potatoes and quinoa and beans...when I first tried to go vegan in 1994, I would have thrown a full blown, beer fueled tantrum if anyone had tried to feed me kale. All I wanted was a very convincing version of vegan queso dip and I wanted it yesterday, goddamn it! I did eat salad, but mostly I lived on falafel, french fried and vegan junk food. And beer. Things are definitely different now. I am known as "the healthy eater" at work, which continues to shock the hell out of me. If I can change, then believe me, anyone can.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bespoke Butchery: When Locavores Go Wild

When I was in NYC this past May, my wonderful BFF told me about a very disturbing new trend in The City: bespoke butchery. The hottest, newest thing are restaurants who bring in cattle from more local spots and butcher them right in the basement. I recently saw a post by Erik Marcus on that mentioned something equally as nauseating: butchery parties. People pay money to learn how to butcher their own meat. The Back Forty restaurant in NYC (one of the ones mentioned as part of the "bespoke butchery" trend) offered a class where people learn the delicate art of Porchetta 101: deboning a pig, leaving its head on, tying it up and roasting it. The pictures look like a really bad Nine Inch Nails video. And I thought those godawful sex toy parties were scary? Man, I'll take suburban housewives waving dildoes in my face over dismembering a pig any day. But hey, it was "locally and responsibly raised on a small farm." I'm sure that made the pig feel a hell of a lot better in the end. I don't think painting slaughter with pretty faux spiritual colors and dressing it up in the golden glow of "local and sustainable" makes it any more palatable. The best way to honor an animal is not to eat it from ears to hooves; the best way to honor an animal is to not kill it in the first place! Maybe I am just missing a hunting/butchering/killing gene.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eco-Atkins And The Reality Of Not Being A Skinny Bitch

I've been seeing this around lately a little more (apparently I missed the original flurry of Eco-Atkins interest in 2009 somehow?) and I find it to be a very interesting topic. As I sit writing this at a coffee shop, the woman sitting next to me told her friend over the phone, "By the way, I am no longer vegetarian as of today." She proceeded to tell her friend that she had a wellness evaluation and that she hadn't lost any weight in 3 months despite the fact that she was working out like a maniac, doing cardio and lifting weights. So the "vegetarian diet" had to go, according to her trainer. If had a dollar for every time that I thought that same thing or heard that same thing from a trainer or a doctor, I'd be a multi-millionaire. Many vegetarians and vegans do not have a problem with insulin insensitivity or carbohydrate metabolism; hence, the stereotype of skinny vegans. For many of us, the "standard" vegan diet can actually cause weight gain. This is something that we need to address, especially with all of the "obesity crisis" fat bashing that's going on in the media across the board.

In the past, I've gained monster amounts of weight eating a SVG (Standard Vegan Diet). I was able to lose weight as a lacto-ovo vegetarian, but only if I watched every calorie I ate and worked out for about 3 hours a day. And then I would feel guilt and disgust every time I ate almond cheese, whey protein, yogurt, cottage cheese or an egg white omelet because of the suffering of all of the animals who produced this food for me. And my foray back into actual meat eating was truly an exercise in self-loathing. I don't give a shit what my doctor, nutritionist, trainer or acupuncture physician has to say, I refuse to eat animal products anymore.

Is this level of metabolic fucked-up-ness normal? Well, it is for me, unfortunately. I have a sneaking suspicion that many people pick up Skinny Bitch or Skinny Bastard or any permutation of a vegan diet that promises weight loss if you "just go vegan" and then become pretty pissed off when they don't lose the promised weight. There's nothing that makes me feel like more of a total fucking loser than being a fat vegan. And I'm not talking thick, curvy, plus sized model fat. I'm just talking garden variety obese, squeezing out of my plus sized clothes, two steps away from driving a rascal cart down the grocery aisle fat. It's gotten to the point that I don't even want to tell people I'm vegan or do any sort of face-to-face activism because I feel like I give veganism a bad name. One of my friends recently got lap band surgery and I actually felt jealous!

Excessive weight gain is another version of "Vegan Failure To Thrive", and it needs to be addressed within the vegan and animal rights communities. It's hard enough for your average citizen to find adequate nutritional guidance, never mind vegan guidance. I am determined to find a way to address my own personal weight struggles within the parameters of a vegan diet. My conscience will not allow me to do otherwise.

I also think this issue is important within minority communities. It was OK to be overweight as a woman (as long as it didn't get "too out of control") in the neighborhood I grew up in (all African-American) and the family I grew up in (Cuban/Italian). Diabetes, heart disease and obesity are huge problems for minorities, and there's a lot of stigma about eating vegetarian or vegan because it's perceived as a "white person's" diet. I'll never forget the time my Pop called me and told me that he had picked me up something for dinner. I was all excited and when I got to his house, he had a bag full of lawn shavings waiting for me.

Luckily, there seems to be some momentum and energy around these issues lately. Isa Chandra Moskowitz is coming out with "Appetite For Reduction", the website is going to pilot a weight loss community type website for vegans, and of course, there's Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard (although I call myself a fat ass and a disgusting slob enough on my own, thank you very much.). Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has two excellent podcasts available about vegan weight loss. Even Tosca Reno has a vegan menu in her Eat Clean Diet revised edition. I personally am going to try some sort of version of Eco-Atkins---vegan proteins and lots of veggies with some healthy fats. The idea of cutting fruit out makes me want to scream, but I eat it as a dessert after my workouts. In any case, veganism is a non-negotiable issue for me. I will continue to find a way to make it work for me so that I can be the healthy, happy, vegan ambassador I've always wanted to be. People need to want what you have, and if they feel like you look sickly, tired, miserable or excessively skinny or overweight, they are not going to want that for themselves.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Problem Solved: Portable Vegan Coffee Creamer

This issue has been driving me nuts for oh, about a decade now. The two packet options that are available just really, really suck. And many restaurants do not serve soy milk here in Las Vegas--a woman cannot live on black coffee alone, no matter how cool the Black Flag song is. I finally got smart and tried the vegan powdered soy milk that is available at many health food stores, Better Than Milk. Works just fine, and the container is pretty big. You don't have to do any heroic stirring, either. I put a little bit in a resealable container, and I'm good to go. It would also be great for travelling, since it's a powder and they won't hassle you on the plane about it. I will be going to Boston in October for Expo East, and I was seriously dreading drinking black coffee for a week straight. Problem solved! I think every vegan is a little bit McGyver, a little bit rock-n-roll. Speaking of Expo East, I'm really looking forward to seeing one of my vegan inspirations, Alicia Silverstone, speak.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This vegan thing seems to be sticking...!

Vegas gets a bad rap. When I first came here as a visitor, I thought it was the most vegan/veg unfriendly place on the planet. It seemed like everything was smeared in fois gras and not a veg entree to be seen for miles. It was easier to find venison medallions than it was to find it a veggie burger. When I decided to go back to being a vegan (man, I wish I had never stopped...but that was my path I had to go down), I discovered a whole world of vegan food and it just keeps growing and growing. There's been a huge upsurge in interest in veganism since I've lived here for the last 4 years. I switched over to this blog as an outlet for all of my vegan interests (including bodybuilding),cooking and activism. I've imported some of my vegan focused posts from my old blog, Slayer Is My Personal Trainer. Sorry if it seems piecemeal or weird, but it's been a long hard road to get to where I am now. Getting sober, having serious surgery, changing jobs---moving to Las Vegas started a whole chain reaction of transformation and upheaval for me and I am so glad I did it! Didn't do it alone, of course...I've had help from every direction, and even when it's been really, really hard, it's been worth it.