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Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen
Aug08

Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

It was a special treat to visit Farm Sanctuary and participate in the annual Hoe Down weekend. Farm Sanctuary has been doing amazing work on behalf of farm animals for more than 25 years — rescuing animals who often have been left to die in stockyards, working to educate the public and promote the plant-based diet, and contributing to legal efforts on farm animals’ behalf. The hoe down is a celebration that brings advocates together to discuss what’s happening, celebrate recent milestones in animal rescue and protection, and spend time with the animals that call the sanctuary their home. What Came Before In addition to all the wonderful activities of the weekend, my husband Seth was honored with this year’s “Friend of Farm Animals” award for his work as producer of the short film What Came Before. The number of viewers is now in the millions, and the film is currently being translated into several languages. Over and over, we’re hearing from people that say this film was what made them decide to go vegan. WOW. While visiting the sanctuary this weekend, we were able to meet two of the three animals featured in the film — Fanny the dairy cow and Nikki the pig (and three of Nikki’s piglets!). If you haven’t watched the film yet, I encourage you to do so and please share: the stories of these three animals are so extraordinary, and they’re also a reminder that each animal has a story all her own. Turkey Time! Which brings me to to the highlight of all the highlights of the weekend: meeting Victoria, my little girl! Each November, we adopt a turkey through Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program. Our Kima is no longer in Watkins Glen, and our Raphael lives at the California sanctuary; but what a treat to hold out my hand and offer my little one a clump of grass. Loved loved loved my “mama” time with her. Watkins Glen travel tips: Although most of our time was spent on the sanctuary premises, and lots of delicious vegan food was provided for everyone throughout the event, we did venture out into the surrounding area towards the end of our stay. Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake are absolutely gorgeous country, and we discovered a couple of great little local spots: House of Hong is a Chinese and Sushi place with lots of vegan options. We were pleasantly surprised that such a quaint little town could have such a happening place. Our table of friends enjoyed the steamed vegetable dumplings, edamame, and a couple of specialty rolls before our entrees. Glen Mountain Market is...

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Decorating Our New Apartment with FLOR Carpet
Jun04

Decorating Our New Apartment with FLOR Carpet

For the past few months, we’ve been making all kinds of fun decisions about our new apartment in New York. During the renovations and decorating process, our focus has been on making animal- and eco-friendly choices that reflect our personal style and fit our family’s day-to-day lifestyle. Typical of a pre-war co-op, ours has beautiful hardwood floors; so the pups definitely needed some carpeted areas that wouldn’t be quite so slippery under their paws, and we wanted some areas that were warm and soft under our own feet, too. The challenge with area rugs is that most often they are made of handwoven wool. As I’ve written about before, I do my best to seek out wool alternatives (see my previous post, What About Wool?). Finding rugs for our new home was no exception. I’m delighted to report that there are a variety of rugs now available in the marketplace, such as those using natural fibers like jute or synthetic fibers like olefin. Many make use of recycled materials. Again, for our own home I was looking for cruelty-free, stylish, and practical: while a jute rug can be a wonderful accent in the right room, I wanted something more cozy for my pups at nap-time (probably 60% of their day). My search led me to FLOR Carpet Design Squares. Design FLOR rugs are comprised of squares roughly 19.7 inches in size; the use of squares lends itself to incredible versatility both in size and look. For an 8 x 10 area rug, you’ll purchase 30 squares. Need something a little smaller, or not quite standard? Just use fewer squares. Also, many of the squares that feature patterns have a random placement — that is, no delineated top, bottom, or sides. So your placement creates a wholly unique pattern. And, although we decided to go with one particular pattern in each area, a FLOR representative also will help a customer mix and match patterns, colors, and textures for a totally unique creation. Installation This is a DIY operation, but the squares are super-easy to install: using adhesive “dots” on the floor, the tiles stay in place (no padding underneath). A perk of this DIY approach is that it’s as easy to remove or replace one square as it is to install it. If there’s a spill, it’s easy to lift just that one square, wash, and put back in place. What a great thing for families with canine kids and human kids alike! Also pretty handy if you tend to throw your fair share of cocktail parties, where it’s just a matter of time before someone’s vino winds up on the floor....

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Summer Reading: Two Great Books for Kids
May29

Summer Reading: Two Great Books for Kids

With summertime on its way, it’s a particularly good time to start looking around for great books we can have around for the kids while school’s out. Just recently, I was delighted to discover the author-illustrator Ruby Roth and her two books for young children (I would recommend for ages 6-10). For adults looking to instill in their own children the values behind a vegan lifestyle, these books are a terrific launching pad for discussion; furthermore, they provide an opportunity for teaching children early on that every individual choice matters and that, even at a young age, a child has a voice of her own that she can lend to the animals. It’s a message of love and compassion and personal empowerment. Vegan Is Love The newer of the two books, Vegan Is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action, begins: “How wonderful that, at this very moment, every person, big and small, has the power to create a better world!” This power comes from making everyday choices, ranging from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to products we use. For example, this page on Animal Testing not only illuminates the use of testing in everyday products like shampoo, but it also shows kids the logos they can look for that ensure they’re choosing cruelty-free: Roth also covers the choice not to support the use of animals in entertainment — whether it’s at the zoo, circus, or racing. Keeping the emphasis on making positive choices and being sensitive to the young audience, Roth writes that, by making better choices, “our love reaches to the ends of the earth.” That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals Like Vegan is Love, Roth’s first book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals features vivid illustrations that are bound to capture the imaginations of children as it encourages them to make connections between living animals who think and feel emotions (and pain) and food on the plate. The focus of That’s Why is more specifically on factory farming and its consequences. In this book, Roth’s approach is to first illustrate the beautiful natural behaviors of animals such as pigs and ducks; second, she explains how factory farming makes those behaviors impossible and inflicts upon animals lives of suffering and isolation. I like that Roth respects her young readers enough to tell them the truth but does it in a way that is age appropriate, with language and images they will be able to understand. Any child can understand the concept of “family” and will have a reaction to the notion that animals have families, too. What Else Can We Do? Both books end...

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Tea Time with My Nephew
May20

Tea Time with My Nephew

After months of going back and forth between Tucson and New York, we’re finally all settled in the Big Apple! One of the last special things my husband Seth and I did with our six year-old nephew Nicky before heading east full-time, however, was taking him along with us to Tucson’s Chantilly Tea Room.  Our afternoon at Chantilly was Nicky’s first tea experience (although he’s been on board with the practice of removing the crust from sandwiches for quite some time). Nicky immediately was enchanted by the wonderland atmosphere of the tea house, loved the little teapots and cups and utensils — everything seems “kids’ size” — and he loved that he got to select his own teacup before being served. We called ahead to ask that our “Duchess Tea” be a strictly vegan affair, and the chef was more than happy to accommodate. In fact, catering to our six year-old’s tastes, she added some tea-style PB & J to the first tier. Our full vegan menu: sandwiches — PB & J on cinnamon-raisin bread; cucumber & nondairy butter with dill; carrots & scallions with nondairy butter; pecan-almond spread on cinnamon-raisin bread scones with strawberry preserves vegan chocolate cake, dark-chocolate nut clusters, chocolate dipped strawberries Thanks so much to Chantilly for making my cutie-pie nephew’s first tea experience such a delightful one… for all of...

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Accessorizing with Freckled Sage
May14

Accessorizing with Freckled Sage

It was while wandering around Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia that I discovered the local design company Freckled Sage, which specializes in items made from oilcloth. This “retro fabric” that was popular during the 1950s is made from a combination of linseed oil and canvas. It’s durable, waterproof, fade-resistant, easy to clean… and no animals are used in its production. This fun fabric is perfect for so many items, especially as summertime is approaching. I love the big tote bags — ideal for trips to the pool or beach. And the tablecloths that come in vibrant, bold designs would brighten up any patio dining or picnic table. Other products include cosmetics/travel bags and aprons. There are even some items for companion animals available: I love the food mats for cats (shaped like a fish) and dogs (shaped like a...

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Philadelphia’s Finest: Vedge Restaurant
May03

Philadelphia’s Finest: Vedge Restaurant

Earlier this week, I offered a lengthy list of places to check out while in the City of Brotherly Love — Vegan In Philadelphia. As promised, here’s a more detailed report on one amazing meal at Vedge, complete with pictures of many of the fantastic tapas-style plates we enjoyed while there. This upscale, lively vegan tapas place on Locus Street features an open kitchen and three separate dining rooms that keep this atmosphere balanced between “happening” and intimate. We were highly impressed with the exquisite tastes on our plates; and our non-veg friend was equally enthusiastic about the various dishes, including some superb desserts. Here’s a look at some of the delectables: In addition to the small plates and entree plates we selected, Vedge offers a “Dirt List” —  a half dozen vegetable specials of the day featuring whatever is  available at the moment from the local farms. During our visit, we tried the Wood Grilled Broccolini cooked in smoky shitake dashi with crushed white sesame and the Brussels Sprouts served in a light mustard sauce that was out of this world (my fave of the night). In other dessert news, there were several vegan ice creams and sorbets to choose from: at our table, spoonfuls of coconut and pecan pie sorbets and habanero (!) ice cream. Vedge also has an impressive wine list and selection of cocktails. Celebrating my roots, I indulged in a wonderful glass of bianco from Sicily. Tip: even during the week, this place is bustling — be sure to make a reservation....

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