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The Social Vegan: Meet-Ups, FB groups, & Potlucks
Oct17

The Social Vegan: Meet-Ups, FB groups, & Potlucks

I’ve heard many people express the concern that going vegetarian or vegan might somehow put a damper on with their social lives. Actually, it’s remarkably easy to choose cruelty-free and still have a pretty booked social calendar. First of all, choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet doesn’t mean you can no longer get together with non-veg friends!  Second, there are plenty of opportunities for vegetarians and vegans to meet each other. Whether it’s an informal Facebook group or a monthly meet-up in your city, in this tech-happy universe it’s quite easy to connect. Vegan Meet-Ups & Facebook Groups My husband Seth, computer wizard and social media guru that he is, took it upon himself to create a “Vegan Tucson” Facebook group page: not only are we sharing recipe ideas, but we also organized a meet-up last month at thevegan restaurant Lovin’ Spoonfuls. Seth also created a new web site called VegDinner, which allows people in any city to organize a get-together. Potluck Parties One of my favorite ways to get together with friends is by hosting Veg Potluck Parties  at our home. I usually send out an Evite, which makes it easy to know about how many people to expect, and to send out a reminder when it gets closer to the date. Potlucks are a great, informal way of spending some time with the people we enjoy most. Sometimes our pot lucks consist of just a few friends, and other times we’ve hosted a full house. The beauty of the potluck is that, no matter how many are invited, there’s little preparation and minimal clean-up… and lots of de-lish food! Finally, I love the potluck because it’s something all our friends are able to enjoy. Even our non-vegetarian friends, who are not likely to attend a vegan meet-up anytime soon, love trying out all the fantastic food people bring to the party. You can search on Facebook or Google for your own city to see what’s happening in the local vegan community. Or maybe you’ll be inspired to host a potluck for people you already know. As the old Girl Scout song goes: “Make new friends, but keep the old — one is silver and the other’s gold.” If happy hours are more your social speed, check back with me...

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In Portland for the Animal Law Conference
Oct14

In Portland for the Animal Law Conference

This weekend, I’m in Portland for the 19th Annual Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark. The conference is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Lewis & Clark’s student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF). Each year, law students and lawyers come together to explore a wide range of hot topics in the field of Animal Law. This year’s theme is “Standing Up for Animals: Can a Bad Economy Inspire Greater Goodness?”  Topics include: Human Science: Is the End of Testing Within Reach? International Voices in Animal Law: Canada & Mexico Enforcement: Building a Case Against Cruelty Drawing Connections Between Animal law & Other Disciplines Whose Case is it Anyway? Animals’ vs. Owners’ Interests in Litigation International Voices in Animal Law: Switzerland & Egypt Using Your Law Degree to Help Sanctuaries Animal Shelters, Humane Societies, & Rescues: When Funding Dries Up Exotic Pets, People, and Public Policy Global Animal Concerns Making Cultural Judgments: Animals We Eat, Animals We Love Wolf re-Introduction, Management, and Protection Private Prosecutions & the Enforcement of Canadian Animal Protection Legislation As you can see, it’s a weekend packed with thought-provoking topics. It’s also a wonderful weekend of catching up with friends who, during the rest of the year, are scattered around the country — all doing amazing things on behalf of animals everywhere. Extra special for me this year: Joyce Tischler, who was my instructor for the law class on Farmed Animals this past summer, will be the keynote speaker at tonight’s reception. The conference is sold out, but you can view most of the sessions through the live webinar option available on the conference’s web site. If you’re a law student or lawyer, mark your calendar for next October so you can join us!...

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VeganCats.com
Oct12

VeganCats.com

I enjoy seeking out cruelty-free products for our canine family members. I have been pleasantly surprised to find several vegan dog food options to incorporate into Otis and Galileo’s diet; and, for those who remain skeptical about switching companion animals to a vegan diet, I always suggest that letting the pups participate in Meatless Mondays is a great way to get started. However, I’m less acquainted with options for felines — in part, because we don’t have any in our home; and in part because there seem to be fewer products on the market. That’s why I’m super-excited to share this discovery with all of you who have cats as part of your family. VeganCats.com is a terrific online store that has food, treats, vegan dietary supplements and vitamins, as well as bath care products, books, and toys and accessories. There are also “starter packs” available, which makes it easy and inexpensive to try some new things. The Vegan Cats site also offers products for dogs, which makes it a convenient “one-stop shop” for those of you with both canine and feline family members. This Week: National Feral Cat Day is October 16th! There are approximately 50 million stray and feral cats in the U.S. Local humane organizations do a great job of offering trap-neuter-return programs. More information about feral cats and TNR is available on the The Humane Society of the United States web site....

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Sweeteners & Syrups
Oct10

Sweeteners & Syrups

There are plenty of sugar and pink-packet alternatives these days. Besides any personal preference towards one or the other, sometimes it’s just a matter of what you’re sweetening up in the particular moment. In a cup of tea? On a piece of toast? In a stir-fry sauce? Here are some of the popular choices for the sweet stuff, with some of my own thoughts about when each one works best. Stevia I prefer the Trader Joe’s brand of Stevia packets. Zero calories, chemical free. But there are several brands readily available at local markets, such as the brand Sweet Leaf.  So what exactly is Stevia? This all-natural sweetener is actually an extract from a tree. In my home, we use the sweetner for use in tea or to sprinkle over fruit or cereal (my husband Seth’s thang). Criticism I’ve heard from some friends is that it has a slightly bitter aftertaste; if it does, I haven’t noticed. Stevia also is widely available in liquid form. Agave Nectar We’ve used light agave nectar in several recipes. Seth likes to have some on a piece of toast also smeared with Smart Balance Light. Many vegan granola bars use it as the sticky-sweet stuff to hold everything together. Also great in tea: for any vegans on the fence about whether or not to keep honey in the pantry, agave is the answer. It’s every bit as good — in fact, I like it better than honey. Perk: although its’s 25% sweeter than sugar, it’s glycemic index is much lower. And if you’re into lemonade, I love the Organic Lemonade with Agave by Columbia Gorge. Brown Rice Syrup This is the best option, I think, for everyday use. A much lighter syrup that works well in baking recipes, and for any sauces that require a tinge of sweetness such as when you’re stir-frying. Also not nearly as sweet as agave nectar. Our particular favorite use: drizzled over pan-fried mochi as an extra special treat for a weekend breakfast. Maple Syrup Traditional for pancakes, waffles — and my little nephew liked it with his mochi. Molasses Made from sugar cane but, because of the way it’s processed, molasses still has tons of vitamins and minerals. For the occasional baking indulgence. Barley Malt As a child, I was allergic to barley, and so I just instinctively shy away from anything barley all these years later. Although I don’t use barley malt myself, I would be doing a disservice not to mention it here. Like rice syrup, it’s a fantastic grain-based sweetener; and, because it’s not as processed as refined sugar, you won’t have the blood-sugar swings throughout the...

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Great news from the makers of Botox!
Oct06

Great news from the makers of Botox!

The Animal Welfare Act sets minimum standards of care for animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or used in public exhibitions. The USDA, through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is required to enforce these standards. However, the Animal Welfare Act — the only federal law that covers animals used in research — excludes mice, rodents, and birds, which comprise approximately 95% of the animals being used for research purposes. Thus, the law offers no protection for these animals, as many as 100 million each year, and industries are left to regulate themselves. So isn’t it GREAT news to know that Allergan — maker of Botox and other products — has made the decision on its own to phase out its use of animal testing? Last June, the company announced it will eliminate 95% of its animal testing within the next three years. YES! I know any talk about  the use of Botox and other aesthetic products is going to ignite a debate. Whatever your stance on these products — like it or not — they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. As with any other pharmaceutical product, animal testing is still widespread. And, in this area, the LD50 test often has been the standard. In a nutshell, this kind of testing means that doses are tested on animals to figure out at what level 50% of the animals die. For the 100,000+ mice used each year in Botox-related research, this has meant a slow death by suffocation once the mice were injected with the product’s paralyzing ingredient. Kudos to Allergan for committing to this change, which took ten years of research and over $65 million to achieve. Although it’s not 100% cruelty-free, Allergan’s decision will save thousands of animals each year from suffering. Taking such a step, Allergen sets the example, and we can only hope its competitors will follow suit. Allergan aesthetic products include Botox, Juvederm, and Latisse. The company also manufactures products for eye care, including artificial tears for dry eye and eye drops for...

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