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Vino: vegan-friendly wines
Jan05

Vino: vegan-friendly wines

When I think of wines, I think of the rolling hills of Tuscany. I envision the grapes on the vines, and then I imagine my Italian ancestors pouring generously and laughing heartily as they drink in the aroma as well as the tastes of the trebbiano, grechetto, and nebbiolo. What I don’t think about are the ingredients that might find their way into the process of making the wine, ingredients that come and go before the wine makes it into the bottle and into my glass. Often, vintners use animal-derived products as clarifying agents: egg whites, casein, gelatin, isinglass and — in some countries other than the US and France — even blood from large mammals (gasp!). The good news is that, with the increased focus on organic options, many vintners are choosing to use bentonite (clay) in place of the animal-based agents. Many kosher wines also are animal-friendly, but not all — using egg whites or gelatin is acceptable because the agent is removed from the final product. Unfortunately, it’s precisely because the agents are removed from the final product that they are not listed on the label. So I’ve found some resources where you can look up your favorites to find out their status… and perhaps explore some wines and spirits that are new to you. Barnivore: Look up wines by brand names; also lists beers and liquors. Vegan Wine Guide: This site allows you to search by Type and Country. Online Retailers: Frey Vineyards Wrights Wines The Organic Wine Company (“vegan” selection) The Organic Wineworks/Hallcrest Vegan Sommelier This site rocks. So much to choose from, and all vegan-friendly. A great place to browse to learn about all the alternatives… and to stock up for your next party or special occasion. Update for 2013: Check out The Vegan Vine and also Benefit Wines, which is offering vegan-friendly wines to benefit Grey2KUSA — one of my favorite organizations, working tirelessly to end greyhound...

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A Taste of Autumn

You can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the girl! While I root for the Yanks tonight, as I’m sure they’re on their way to another World Series, I’m admittedly feeling a little homesick here in the land of perpetual sunshine and saguaros. Autumn is my favorite season — it always has been — and so it’s during this time of year that I am most likely to come down with a mild case of the blues. While in Portland last weekend for the Animal Law conference, I was soaking up the autumn vibe — the red and gold leaves, the gentle rain, the crisp air. After a glorious weekend, I came home to the cacti and the roadrunners and the coyotes… and a thoughtful partner who had taken it upon himself to fix me up some squash soup, a seasonal treat that brought a little of the fall to the desert. Vegan and cruelty-free, this soup is about to become a family tradition! To try the recipe for yourself, check out: Vegan Butternut Squash Soup So the home team just won the game against the Angels… Let’s Go...

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Halloween Treats
Oct21

Halloween Treats

Getting ready for all those trick-or-treaters who will be knocking on your door soon? There are lots of great treat ideas that also are cruelty-free! I’ve been exploring the store shelves and the internet, looking into the best options. Most exciting, I’ve found Yummy Earth Lollipops.Yummy Earth not only refrains from animal testing, but it also avoids nasty ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors.And their certified organic, vegan lollipops are more likely to be enjoyed by all the kids in the neighborhood, including those with allergies and diet restrictions — the pops are gluten-free, wheat-free, peanut-free and soy-free. Fabulous! So how about the more traditional treats? Mini bags of pretzels remain a good and relatively healthy option. And here are some other suggestions about candy, taken from PetaKids.com: Candy Treats: ·Airheads Taffy ·Blow Pops ·Dots ·Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews ·Jolly Ranchers ·Mary Janes ·Now and Laters ·Pez ·Sour Patch Kids ·Lemonheads ·Sweet Tarts (my childhood Halloween fave) ·Twizzlers Chocolate Treats: For cruelty-free chocolate ideas, please see my previous piece, Chocolate: La Dolce Vita. I have yet to find some bite-size or “fun-size” organic chocolate treats for Halloween, but there are some chocolate products you definitely will want to avoid supporting with your consumer dollars until they change their animal-testing practices. A new twist on “sticky and sweet”! I have a friend who gives out stickers (cut out from a larger sheet) instead of candy. They may not be edible, but kids seem to enjoy them just as...

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Pocket Guides

To round out this “Baker’s Dozen” blog series on cruelty-free favorites, some additional resources for you to use on your own. A pocket guide is good to have on hand as you go through your day-to-day and become more familiar with companies’ animal-testing policies. The web sites listed below give you a choice of ordering one or multiple guides to be mailed to you, or downloading the guide in pdf format. I’ve included the URL addresses that will take you straight to the guides in downloadable form.  Print out, fold, and tuck right into your wallet! Coalition for Consumer Information’s Compassionate Shopping Guide to print guide, click here.  Caring Consumer’s Guide for Kind Living  to print guide, click here.   “Be Nice to Bunnies” iPhone application For those of you with iPhones, you can have the added convenience of an up-to-date reference literally in the palm of your hand. The next time you’re shopping, use the following iPhone app to check up on products before adding them to your cart:  I leave you for now with the following thought: Making more animal-friendly choices when it comes to your everyday products can be an adventure… without driving yourself (and everyone around you) crazy. Changing just one item in your household to a product that is cruelty-free is all it takes to begin. And as you discover new products, cruelty-free favorites of your own, I encourage you to share your finds with family and friends. Check back with me mid-October before you buy all the Halloween candy!  I’ll be posting a blog with suggestions for cruelty-free sweets and...

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Cruelty-Free Diets for Companion Animals

Of my three dogs, Galileo is most ostensibly a viable candidate for a completely cruelty-free diet. Whether it’s arugula or romaine, chopped baby carrots or baby bok choy, Galileo insists on getting his fair share of anything I whip up in the kitchen. Pushkin, at the opposite end of the spectrum, wanted nothing to do with fruits and vegetables. I would add diced carrots and baby peas into a mix of brown rice and baked (free-range, organic) chicken. He would eat the rice and chicken with gusto… and spit out every single speck of vegetable. Galileo, without fail, would be there to clean up after his big brother. Otis, my middle child, treads the middle path: he’ll eat some vegetables and some fruit; broccoli is OK, but only if it’s been sauteed in something yummy like garlic or soy sauce and has lots of other spices to make it interesting. So how do we create a home that’s completely cruelty-free when our animals aren’t as taken with the idea of embracing a vegetarian/vegan diet? I know some people  would suggest that my pups would eat all-vegetarian if that’s all they were offered.  When Pushkin was sick, however, and my main goal was to keep his weight up, I made a choice to be as cruelty-free as possible while still taking care of Priority #1 — my beloved beagle. The parameters I set up in the kitchen based on my pups’ preferences are good to keep in mind for humans and non-humans alike, especially if you have family members who just aren’t ready or as willing to embrace a complete diet overhaul.  I encourage everyone, whether it’s about food for their animal companions or their human family members, to take some time to find out where their food is coming from and how the animals are treated before they get to our tables. For starters, think organic, local, cage-free, free-range, grass-fed… and try to stick with these words as often as possible while you do your grocery shopping. Human-grade is another good thing to look for when shopping for the animals in your home. Over time, you likely will find, as I have, that human and nonhuman family members alike become more open to trying cruelty-free options.  For example, on Sunday mornings, a breakfast of scrambled cage-free egg whites and Morningstar’s “bacon” was, for a long time, a tradition in my home.  First, my husband Seth and I decided to take the next step and eliminate the few dairy items we were still using.  Cage-free eggs went the wayside, and Morningstar Bacon, which contains egg-whites, was replaced with Smart Bacon. ...

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Chocolate: La Dolce Vita
Jul07

Chocolate: La Dolce Vita

The next time someone offers you some M&M’s, tell them you prefer a kiss! A Hershey’s Kiss, that is. I just returned from a wonderful birthday getaway to San Francisco, one of my favorite cities and home to Ghirardelli chocolate. Many of my friends are quite serious when it comes to their chocolate.  This weekend, as I approached the corner of Larkin and North Point, I could understand why: the aroma of chocolate that spills out into the streets surrounding Ghirardelli Square is as intoxicating as the view of the San Francisco Bay. So, for all my chocolate-lovin’ friends out there, here’s the scoop: one of the largest commercial chocolate manufacturers does some pretty horrific things to animals. Suffice it to say that there have been reports of force-feedings and injections of ingredients into arteries. If you need more gruesome details to convince yourself it’s time to give up that favorite chocolate bar from your childhood, I’ll leave you to google “Mars, Inc.” for yourself. The good news is that Hershey’s does not fund or implement animal testing, so you still have plenty to choose from while waiting in the grocery line: Cadbury, Almond Joy, Mounds, Heath, Kit Kat, Milk Duds, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Whoppers are all Hershey’s products. Vegan Chocolate But maybe it’s time to get a little more adventurous with your chocolate. If you’ve eliminated chocolate by companies that test on animals, try taking the next step and choosing chocolate that is truly cruelty-free…  Most dark chocolate is nondairy — awesome news! Opening yourself up to trying the vegan chocolate available now will also open up to you some very delicious and highly indulgent options. Good chocolate is as complex and seductive as good wine. And, these days, there are several organic, fair trade options. In addition to being cruelty-free as far as animals are concerned, these product lines also directly address the issues of using pesticides and child labor in chocolate production. Ones to try: Climate Change Chocolate Dagoba Organic Chocolate Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates Seeds of Change Organic Chocolate Endangered Species Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups...

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