Rescue Pet Story: Naughty Nora's forever home



Naughty Nora's forever home

Six months ago, Nora was found under a car, starving and covered in fleas. I never intended to add another cat to my family (my older cat, Pippi, seemed very content to be the only feline in the house), but at 3 months old, Nora had already had such a rough life. I couldn’t handle the thought of dropping her off at a shelter to feel lonely and scared in a cage.

I have lived with kittens before, but not for many years. I had forgotten how wild and naughty they are. Her naughtiness tests and expands my patience nearly every day, whether it be by scaling tall bookcases to knock down plants from the top shelf, unraveling my latest knitting project, or shredding a new roll of toilet paper. This is a cat that truly (and proudly) has no regard for rules or boundaries. She is a total handful.

At the same time, Naughty Nora has become such necessary character in our family-- bringing a goofy playfulness that we didn’t even know we were missing. Watching her explore, tumble, and chase has brought so many smiles and laughs. I’m left with so much gratitude for the woman who rescued her, my own willingness to take her in, and Nora’s undying appetite for adventure and pranks.

Andee Bingham | Website
Albany, NY Andee has been vegan for 15 years. She is a full-time freelance writer, blogger, and mama to two sweet and feisty cats, Pippi and Nora. Andee also shares her time and love, volunteering at a local cat shelter.


Photo credit: Andee

The goose that flies without wings


Lucy Goosey the Wise
Depending on your point of view, you might say that Lucy was born blessed, or that she had good karma, or incredibly good luck.  Lucy — although she wasn’t called that then– was born a wild Canada Goose.  She lived with a huge flock of geese, flying wherever they pleased, calling to one another and landing wherever they saw the tastiest grasses, grains, and berries.  They swam happily, choosing lakes for their beauty and proximity to delectable treats.  When the air became a bit chilly, they simply migrated to a warmer range, and if they felt too hot, they took a jaunt to the north until they found more temperate weather.
Oh! How Lucy loved to fly!  Of course she wasn’t called Lucy, yet.  In those days, the other geese had a special name for her in goose language, so we humans can’t even pronounce it.  She was much beloved by her whole flock, and her name reflected their tender affection for her.  It meant “delicate, sweet smelling, holy flower,” kind of like a lotus, only not at all, since geese don’t use our name for lotus.  Besides, lotuses don’t even grow naturally anywhere in Canada Goose territory.  At any rate, it was a beautiful tribute of a name for a favored princess among geese.
Lucy loved to eat berries, she especially loved to swim, and her love for her flock made her heart expand every time she heard them call.  But far above everything about Lucy’s charmed life, she loved to spread her wings, take off with a running start, and fly!  She would soar and dive and chase the other young geese in her flock.  They would make up all kinds of games that required fast, complex maneuvers in the air.  Lucy took pride in her strength and skill.  Everyone agreed she was destined to be a head bird someday, leading the V-shaped flock as they migrated to the choicest locations.
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One day, Lucy was playing with another young goosey.  They decided to dive for a specific leaf they saw floating down the river far below.  Lucy orchestrated a beautiful landing, and was feeling great.
But something went wrong.
The current was stronger than she had expected.  As she landed, pulling her wings back and arching her neck to slow down, the river’s icy fingers grabbed at her feet.  She struggled, but it was stronger than she.  Lucy tumbled headlong, the current rushing her forward as she struggled for air.
***
“What have we got here? What happened to you?” The human hand grasped her body and pulled her up out of the water.
Panicking, Lucy tried to flap her wings to get away. Hit with another wave of pain, she realized fighting was useless.
The humans put her in some sort of enclosure.  Her broken wing was carefully taped, and she was set down on a nest of fresh straw.
“There you are!  Feel better?” The human woman’s voice was not speaking goose language, but for some reason Lucy understood.
A man’s voice came from behind her.  “That wing’ll need some time to heal.  I don’t know if she’ll be able to fly south this winter.”
“That’s okay, girl,” the woman said gently, “We’ll just take care of you through winter and by spring you’ll be good as new.”
Lucy knew that it was not natural for a goose to live with humans, but something about the look in their eyes made Lucy believe that these humans had feelings.  She could have sworn they had actual souls, just like geese.
In fact, something in the way that they talked to her reminded her of the tenderness with which she was treated by her flock.  She understood that she couldn’t go anywhere with her wing broken.  Lucy decided to trust these humans, and that’s when she was given her human name, Lucy Goosey.  It was silly and sweet, and the way they said it was full of affection.
The next morning at sunrise, Lucy’s flock flew overhead, calling down to her, “Come fly with us.”
“I can’t,” Lucy called back, “My wing won’t work.”
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They came back everyday for a month, but Lucy’s wing still wouldn’t work.  The humans were nice, but oh, how Lucy missed flying!  She’d take a running start and flap like mad, but she just couldn’t take flight.
Finally, the flock called to her, “We have to leave, it’s getting too cold.  We’ll be back in spring.”
Lucy wept.  The flock was leaving her behind, her wing wouldn’t work.  What if she never flew again?
The humans were good to her.  They nursed Lucy for months.  Every day, Lucy took a running start and flapped her wings with all of her power.  And everyday, she stayed grounded.
Spring came, and Lucy still couldn’t fly.  The man said, “I don’t think that wing is ever going to heal.”
“What will we do?  This is no life for a goose,” fretted the woman.
“You’re right.  A goose shouldn’t be alone.  She needs other birds.  She needs a flock,” the man agreed.
“Let’s call that sanctuary.  Maybe they can help.”
And that’s how Lucy Goosey came to live at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary.  There, she didn’t live in an enclosure, but was allowed to go wherever she wanted.  “You are free,”  the humans there told her, “We love you, and we will take care of you, but know that you are always free,”  they spoke in soft tones, with a sparkle in their eyes.
She had acres of grasses to enjoy, and was given seeds and berries everyday.  She decided to sleep in the barn each night, out of predators’ reach.  Soon,  she had a new flock,  eight motherless ducklings to care for.
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And her own goose family, her birth flock, found her there, too, although they just flew over the farm and didn’t land.  Lucy’s heart expanded in wordless love for these beautiful beings that made up her birth flock of geese.
“Come fly with us.”
“I can’t fly anymore,” Lucy said sadly.  “Please land here and live with me, we have so many berries to enjoy!”
But the flock wanted to stay wild.  They didn’t want to live on a farm.
That night, Lucy dreamt she was flying with her flock.  Once again, she was free, gliding, playing, and swooping.  She felt weightless, and blissful.
One of the lead geese slowed down, allowing Lucy to catch up to him.  “You can still fly, Lucy.”
“How?” she honked, but he had already flown far ahead.
“How?” Lucy wailed as she woke to the reality of her disabled wing.
The next night, Lucy had the same dream.  This time though, she was able to ask him, “How? How will I fly without wings?”
He honked her goose-name tenderly.  “That, daughter, is the lesson we all must learn.”
Seasons rolled on.  Soon, autumn flowed in on a gentle mist.   It was time for her flock to fly south again.  Once more they called their love and promised to be back in spring.
Everyday, Lucy Goosey led her flock of ducklings around the farm, taking them for lovely swims, finding delectable treats, and teaching them to groom themselves in the sunshine.
Every night, Lucy dreamt she was flying.  Weightless.  She felt the wind caress her feathers.  She reveled in the moisture of the clouds and the warmth of the sun.  She breathed deeply, inhaling the smells of fresh grass, moist earth, and tender plants growing in lakes and streams. Her keen eyes enjoyed the views from on high, blues, greens, browns and yellows in a kaleidoscope of earthly delights.  She was a bird!  She was free! Her wing didn’t hurt, nothing hurt.  In fact, she wasn’t even aware of her body at all!  She was just flying.
“You’ve done it, daughter,” the lead goose said quietly.  “You fly without wings.”
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Indra Lahiri | Facebook | Blog
Mehoopany, PA Indra is the founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, an all-species safe haven for animals that would otherwise have been euthanized or slaughtered. Indraloka is founded on two principles: 1) the earth itself and all life are sacred and 2) we are all related. Indraloka supports animal rescue groups by providing a lifetime home for animals that are otherwise unadoptable, and also rescues farm animals from cruelty. Indra has dedicated her life to helping previously traumatized animals heal and rediscover joy, love, and trust. In the process, the animals she set out to help have become her greatest healers and teachers. 

Why restaurants need to add more vegan options



As veganism, or eating a predominantly plant-based diet, is becoming increasingly prevalent for a variety of reasons - mainly for health and/or environmental purposes - it seems like a no-brainer that restaurants should add more vegan options. For one thing, it will help dispel the still unfortunately too-commonly believed myth that vegan food tastes worse than its counterparts. Au contraire!

An example comes to mind. I recently had a dish at a restaurant that was a beautiful stack of roasted vegetables, along with perfectly seasoned lentils and a roasted pepper sauce. There was literally nothing missing or lacking from this very satisfying, completely delicious and healthy entrée – and it’s certainly something that anyone could and would enjoy. And it just so happened to be completely vegan. The added benefit to having dishes like this on any restaurant's menu would be that it’s a fabulous option that people who are vegan can order and enjoy as is - and that anyone else would enjoy just the same.

More vegan options appearing on restaurant menus would also be mutually beneficial to both the restaurant and the diner. How many times has someone had to modify a menu item into oblivion to make it vegan, only to have it still come out with cheese, for example, that the kitchen then has to redo? Or even if it is made properly, it might slow things down in the kitchen or for the wait-staff, with so many added requests that are outside of the restaurant’s typical pattern. Regardless of that, any restaurant should indeed be happy, willing and able to accommodate any request relating to special dietary needs – but if not to make customers lives easier, why not have more vegan options to also make their operations run more smoothly?

With everyone from chefs, servers and customers alike all benefiting in many ways from restaurant menus having more vegan options, it seems like an almost essential direction in which restaurants should head. Specific food allergies aside, anyone in general – omnivore, vegetarian and vegan – should ideally be able to walk into any restaurant and order at least one thing off the menu without having to have half of it removed. Many restaurants inherently have a plethora of vegan options - particularly cuisines such as Thai and Indian - and more and more fabulous 100% vegetarian and vegan restaurants are popping up all over the place. But it would be nice if other eateries in between the two would fill the gap and offer dishes sans animal products. Good for the restaurant, good (and healthier!) for the diners - there's literally no reason not to do this!

Sarah Mandell | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Arizona Sarah is a life-long foodie, always emphasizing nourishment, enjoyment and nutrition through clean, whole foods and, more recently, veganism. She is a freelance PR specialist and copywriter, and writes the blog Let the Good In, featuring delicious recipes, restaurant recommendations, and wellness and active lifestyle tips. Sarah packed up her NYC apartment in early 2012 to head west into the sunset and live in the high mountain desert of Arizona with her fiancé, where they are growing their first vegetable garden and have fun veganizing meals at home and on the road together.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/zagatbuzz

My vegan holiday menu: Planning for five gatherings


This year, I’m heading to five different holiday gatherings, so I have a lot of cooking to do, especially since I will be just about the only vegan there. I figure it's much easier to make my own food and save myself the stress of going somewhere and not finding anything to eat.

Thankfully, all of my holiday gatherings are on different days and each requires a different type of meal, so there will be a good amount of variety in my menu.

December 22nd- Holiday Potluck with Friends

For the potluck with friends, I will be making a “Slow Cooker Vegan Nut Loaf” from the book, The Vegan Slow Cooker. I’ve made this once before with mashed potatoes and it was delicious. It’s easy to make and cooks all day in the slow cooker, so that’s a nice plus during the busy holiday season. It’s great for a holiday potluck because it doesn’t matter what time you eat at—it will stay hot and makes for easy cleanup.

One of my friends is making vegan roasted potatoes and vegan chocolate no-bake cookies, so the nut loaf will be an awesome addition to her food items.

December 23rd- Holidays At My Aunt’s House

For this gathering, we will be eating mainly finger-foods, and since I know this side of the family is skeptical about vegan food, I know I need to bring foods that will prove them wrong. I am planning on making Daiya’s Recipe of the Month: “Cheeseburger Truffles." It will be my first time trying them, but they sound delicious, especially for persuading the die hard meat-eater.

For dessert, I am bringing a vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods. This pie was a big hit with non-vegans at Thanksgiving, so I know it’s a smart move.

December 24th- Holiday Party At The In-Laws

This get-together will be more potluck-style, but since it will be later in the day, I am just bringing dessert and plan to eat a meal before I go. I will be making “bite-size brownie bites” from the book, Chloe’s Kitchen. I made them for a Thanksgiving potluck and they turned out absolutely delicious.

December 25th- Christmas Dinner At My Mom’s

For our Christmas dinner at my mom’s house, I am going to make another recipe from the book, Chloe’s Kitchen. This time, I will be making her “Ooh La La Lasagna” recipe. This is the best lasagna recipe I’ve had so far (and I make a lot of different variations) so I know it will be the perfect meal for Christmas Day, and something different from the delicious nut loaf we had on Thanksgiving. To go with the lasagna, my mom will make a garden salad and serve baguettes.

For dessert, we will have Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s “Chocolate Cake” recipe from The Joy Of Vegan Baking. I can already barely wait for it.

December 29th- Christmas At My Grandma’s

To finish up all of our holiday events, we are having Christmas with my Grandma on the Saturday after Christmas. She is making a vegetarian chili and my mom is bringing baguettes to go with it. I will be making “Christmas Tree Salad” from The Lunchbox Bunch, which not only looks beautiful and festive, but sounds delicious.

For dessert, I plan to make the “Mocoa Almond Fudge Cake” from Chloe’s Kitchen. I can’t help that I absolutely love all of her recipes. If you don’t have her cookbook yet, I highly suggest getting it.

It will be a busy week, but I look forward to showing everyone just how amazing vegan food is.

Alexandra Beane | Facebook | Twitter
Minnesota Alexandra is a lover of all animals, but has a soft spot for especially dogs and rabbits. She believes that life is not complete without an animal to love. Alexandra is highly passionate about animals and animal rights, and wants to raise awareness of the cruelty that many animals suffer in the best way she knows how, and this is by written word. Alexandra is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, with a degree in Professional Writing and a minor in Creative Writing. She absolutely loves to write news and creative nonfiction, and obsesses over spelling and grammar.

Photo credit: cc: SXC alex27

Over 100 research chimpanzees will retire to sanctuary


 Caged life and medical experimentation will soon be over for 109 chimpanzees. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a statement that these chimps will be retired from the New Iberia Research Center in Lafayette Louisiana. The chimps will be sent to Chimp Haven, a federal sanctuary. This comes after the news that only 10 were going to be retired and 99 were to be re-assigned to other labs.

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society has played a major role in getting the chimps to Chimp Haven. NEAVS has been involved with the fate  through avocation and matching a $100,000 grant to help cover costs needed for construction to help accommodate the chimps. Their vision was to see the chimps allowed to live out the rest of their lives in a safe sanctuary.

NIH has a two phase plan to move the chimps -- moving half starting in January, taking about 6 months. The other half will be moved within 12 to 15 months. 

There are currently 488 federally owned chimps held in biomedical labs. Hopefully this marks the beginning of getting all chimps out labs and into safe sanctuaries.

For more information on all programs, visit NEAVS.org and ReleaseChimps.org.

John Himmelberger | Blog | Facebook| @johnhimm
Maryland John lives in Maryland where he works as a sales manager. John and his wife Eileen’s pursuit to achieve optimum health combined with a desire to send a strong message to factory farming, inspired them to examine what they put into their bodies. Now a vegan, John has great admiration for groups like Farm Sanctuary and hopes to influence others by sharing his positive experiences.

Photo credit: GermanGirl

One vegan's holiday wishlist


Looking for last minute gifts for the vegans in your life? Well, I'm not them (unless you're my mom. Hi mom!) but here are some things that I want, which might help you out.

At the top of my wishlist this year is the tofuXpress. I've had my eye on this thing for years. Instead of the usual towels/stack of cookbooks/tilted cutting board method of pressing tofu, you just put it in this box. Sure, it takes a little time, but pressing tofu has always taken time. At least now it's not a precarious and messy endeavor.

I just love the giftshop at Farm Sanctuary -- in particular, the yoga pants and the veg for life necklace. You can also (symbolically) adopt a farm animal! This is a wonderful gift for minimalist vegans.

Ooh, the lavenderbergamot body butter from moska organics looks lovely. I'm a person who takes epsom salt baths to soothe muscle soreness, so a few Fizzy O'Therapy bath bombs from Lush would sure be comforting. Honestly, pretty much any kind of fancy vegan bath and body stuff makes me happy. I could always use a new mascara from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics too.

Yum, I could sure eat my way though some OCD caramels! These tasty treats are all gluten free and made with ethical ingredients. She worries so we don’t have to!

But the vegan in your life may not just want specially vegan items. On my list are cotton sheets, yoga pants, dishtowels, potholders, a ceramic coated frying pan and theater tickets. Because I’m a human who needs human stuff, and the vegan in your life probably is too.


Mandy Brown | @msmandypandy
San Francisco, CA Mandy is a vegan celiac actress writer living in San Francisco with her husband and three rescued pets. You can follow her on Twitter @msmandypandy.



Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/29638108@N06

Is carrageenan unhealthy?


Carrageenan is a common food/non-food additive that derived its name from Irish Moss seaweed, or Chondrus Crispus. This non-nutritive additive is produced from seaweeds and/or algae and is used primarily as a thickening agent to hold compounds together, for instance, in toothpastes, non-dairy milks, ice creams, soups, sauces, and even in pet food. Even though carrageenan has been used for hundreds of years, studies are still being conducted on the safety of its use.The question is this: is carrageenan safe for us to use in our everyday lives, both for consuming and non-food uses?

In 2001, a study was conducted to see how carrageenan reacts in the body after consumption. Although this study was performed on animals, scientists predict the negative findings could possibly equate to the metabolism of humans. Scientists found that the exposure to carrageenan produced “colonic ulcerations” and gastrointestinal problems in animals that may have been due to the acid hydrolysis reaction inside the stomach or the interaction with intestinal bacteria. Unfortunately, it is unknown how much of the additive it took to produce these harmful effects but the scientists suggest the consumption of carrageenan should be reevaluated nonetheless.

What I personally find interesting is that carrageenan is found primarily in processed foods which contain a hefty amount of refined carbohydrates, sugars, and very little nutritional value whatsoever. It makes me wonder if scientific studies used 100% carrageenan for their test subjects or if they used foods that contained them. Perhaps there is a negative synergistic effect when one consumes the additive in over-processed foods.

Personally, my intake of carrageenan is somewhat moderate. For instance, my largest source of carrageenan probably comes from the store-bought almond milk that I drink. I predict that the additive is used in such a fashion so that the ingredients used in making the nondairy milk can chemically stay together. Furthermore, I have never experienced any gastrointestinal complications after drinking almond milk or any other food that contains it. I hardly consume processed foods, where carrageenan is prominently found. Perhaps I just am not eating enough carrageenan to show any negative effects, such as those found in certain scientific research studies.  

According to a well-known scientific researcher, Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D., now associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, carrageenan was once used to cause inflammation in the body so that anti-inflammatory drugs can be used afterwards to test their effectiveness. Tobacman also found that laboratory mice that were fed low concentrations of carrageenan for about two and a half weeks developed intolerance to glucose and also had impaired insulin action. This, in turn, was concluded to cause diabetes. The article ends with Dr. Weil saying, “I recommend avoiding regular consumption of foods containing carrageenan… especially important advice for persons with inflammatory bowel disease.”

In closing, carrageenan still needs to be studied upon for its safety. The best way one can make sure carrageenan isn’t harmful for them is to observe how they feel after consuming food or using a product that contains it.

Sources:
  • Weil, Andrew. "Dr. Weil." http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA44833
  • Miller, Becky. "Livestrong.com." http://www.livestrong.com/article/446385-what-has-carrageenan-in-it/
  • "Cyber Colloids." http://www.cybercolloids.net/library/carrageenan/introduction-carrageenan-structure
  • "Chemistry Daily." http://www.chemistrydaily.com/chemistry/Carrageenan
  • JK, Tobacman. "NCBI." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11675262

Joanna Tenderro | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+
San Diego, CA Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Joanna has been vegan since mid-2010 and is passionate about nutrition, animal rights, eco-friendly living, and yoga. She's studying to major in the field of nutrition to counsel and educate those around her about living and eating healthy... the vegan way.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/mikecogh

Rescue pet photo: The story of Penny



In May of 2011, my husband and I headed over to the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota to adopt our first rabbit, a Holland Lop/ Jersey Wooly Mix. We named him Prince and immediately fell in love with him. About a year and a half later, we decided to adopt another bunny so that Prince could have a playmate. We wanted to get a rabbit that was a similar breed to Prince’s and around the same size and age, but we knew we had to find a female since two male rabbits typically don’t get along very well.

When we were finally ready to adopt another rabbit, we went into the Animal Humane Society to take a look around. We had been looking online for quite some time, but just when we thought we found a match, she was adopted! Then we had to start from the beginning again.

Going into the Animal Humane Society is always hard for us, because we want all of the animals without homes! We wanted to bring all of the bunnies home! While we loved all of the rabbits we met, we saw that one bunny was a stray and was on stray hold for the next few days. Our hearts went out for her because we felt so sad and disgusted that someone would abandon a rabbit.

The stray rabbit was a small French Lop who was only one year old, and we couldn’t imagine why someone would ever abandon her. We couldn’t imagine ever giving up our rabbits, and right away we knew that we had to get her. We ended up having to wait a few days to bring her home, since she was on stray hold, but we hoped nobody would claim her. We didn’t want her going back to a home that abandoned her in the first place! Even if they didn’t try to get rid of her, they were clearly not responsible enough to keep her.

When we adopted her, we learned that she was found in the hall of an apartment complex, sitting alone and wearing a pink collar. One of the residents put a note up, but nobody claimed her. Doing the right thing, the resident brought her in to the Animal Humane Society, and the rest is history.

We are so glad that we rescued Penny, and she is the perfect addition to our home. She seems very happy at her new home, and we are so glad that she ended up with us!

Alexandra Beane | Facebook | Twitter
Minnesota Alexandra is a lover of all animals, but has a soft spot for especially dogs and rabbits. She believes that life is not complete without an animal to love. Alexandra is highly passionate about animals and animal rights, and wants to raise awareness of the cruelty that many animals suffer in the best way she knows how, and this is by written word. Alexandra is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, with a degree in Professional Writing and a minor in Creative Writing. She absolutely loves to write news and creative nonfiction, and obsesses over spelling and grammar.

Photo credit: Alexandra

10 Last-Minute Gifts That Help Animals


10 Last-Minute Gifts That Help Animals

Great Last-Minute Gifts That Look Good, Do Good

Whether your list has been whittled down to just those last few gifts or you haven't even started your holiday shopping, there's no denying it: It's almost zero hour. So PETA has rounded up some of our favorite holiday gifts that will make your recipient, your wallet, and animals all very happy.

© PETA

Know someone who wears her heart on her sleeve? Now, she can wear it around her neck with PETA's iconic bunny-and-heart logo necklace made from environmentally friendly materials.
Only bullies wear bunnies, but people who wear bunny-friendly attire? Well, they are benevolent, beautiful, bright …
Who says fruits and veggies "can" have all the fun? Your recipients can fill our PETA mason jars with whatever beverage suits their fancy for a backyard get-together or relaxing night in.

If you're vegan and you know it, then your shirt should surely show it. And it will, with this stylish black vegan tee.

Around the holidays, everyone loves sweets and everyone loves a sale. So sweets that are on sale for $10.49 are about as sweet as it gets.

For a homemade touch, whip up some mouthwatering gluten-free vegan baked goods, such as blueberry-cinnamon scones, and then give your recipient the nearly 200-page cookbook to keep, too.

7. Holiday Lip Balm 3-Pack
Stuff your loved ones' stockings with stuff that shows love to animals. These holiday lip balms are 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free.
For a Paul McCartney fan (and who isn't one?) all you need is love and some cool clothes.
Your mission during the holidays: to find gifts that people will actually use. Your mission all year round: to help end cruelty to animals. PETA's Mission Statement Tote can help you with both. Mission accomplished.
You know that your favorite cat lady and devoted dog dad are going to be snapping pictures of Fluffy and Fido as they burrow in wrapping paper or play with new toys, so go ahead and give them a place to showcase those holiday memories.

Happy holidays from your friends at PETA!


PETA | PETA.org | Facebook | Twitter 
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 3 million members and supporters. PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry.

Photo credit: © PETA

The top 10 workout songs for December


The Top 10 Workout Songs For December

Closing out the year is an eclectic bunch of tracks, which ought to help you polish off December in style. Present here is the latest of the Usher/Ludacris hits that began with 2004's “Yeah!” Also, collaborating this month are Irish rockers The Script and Will.I.Am from Black Eyed Peas. Further mixing things up are Taylor Swift's flirtation with dubstep and two different takes on the same song by Flo Rida and Bingo Players.

 Here's the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred--the web's most popular workout music blog.

Taylor Swift - I Knew You Were Trouble - 77 BPM

Avicii - Silhouettes - 129 BPM

The Script & Will.I.Am - Hall of Fame - 87 BPM

One Direction - Kiss You - 90 BPM

Calvin Harris & Florence Welch - Sweet Nothing - 127 BPM

Ludacris, Usher & David Guetta - Rest of My Life - 129 BPM

Flo Rida - I Cry - 126 BPM

Fun. - Some Nights - 110 BPM

Bingo Players - Cry (Just a Little) - 128 BPM

PSY & MC Hammer - Gangnam Style / 2 Legit 2 Quit - 131 BPM


To find more workout songs, folks can check out the free database at RunHundred.com. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era—to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine.


Posted by Chris Lawhorn from RunHundred.com. 

Photo by: LocalFitness.com.au 

One Flock: We always wish we can save them all, though we always know we cannot


 A cloud of white feathers floated gracefully above the lustrous expanse of green. As I got nearer, details came into focus: pale pink legs beneath fluffy feathers, lucent yellow beaks protruding from sweet little noses, and shining, sensitive brown eyes gazing at me. It was a large flock of baby birds, none older than about 4 months. They were beautiful. Perfect.

And about to be killed.

I had negotiated with the farmer, and he agreed to spare two of them. I don't have words for the mixture of emotions that flood me when I am blessed enough to save some, but have to leave the rest to a harsh death.

We spent a golden afternoon with our beautiful new birds.

Suddenly, they both became still and serious. An ancient knowing entered their eyes and shot deep into my core. The old flock was gone. Softly, I sang a sacred Ojibwe death prayer taught to me many years ago. The ageless yet innocent babies looked into my eyes with recognition at the wordless truth and yearning of the melody. As the song ended, of its own accord, it bled into the universal prayer, "Om, Om, Om..."


 
Lord, open our eyes
 that we may see you in our brothers and sisters.
Lord, open our ears
that we may hear the cries of the hungry.
Lord, open our hearts
that we may love each other as you love us.
Renew in us your spirit.
Lord, free us and make us one.

- Mother Teresa

Indra Lahiri | Facebook | Blog
Mehoopany, PA Indra is the founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, an all-species safe haven for animals that would otherwise have been euthanized or slaughtered. Indraloka is founded on two principles: 1) the earth itself and all life are sacred and 2) we are all related. Indraloka supports animal rescue groups by providing a lifetime home for animals that are otherwise unadoptable, and also rescues farm animals from cruelty. Indra has dedicated her life to helping previously traumatized animals heal and rediscover joy, love, and trust. In the process, the animals she set out to help have become her greatest healers and teachers. 


Photo credit: Screen capture

'Easy Vegan Meals' by SparkPeople helps make the vegan transition easy


SparkPeople.com is a health, nutrition, and fitness site that promotes weight loss through adopting a permanent healthy lifestyle, rather than dieting. So Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople is more than a cookbook; it is an introduction to the plant-based way of eating. Compiled by SparkPeople.com's recipe editor Stepfanie Romine, this e-book contains advice on transitioning to a plant-based diet, getting complete nutrition, breaking the cheese habit, and tips from users on the SparkPeople site who have been through the process.

The information on transitioning is given in a personable, easy-to-read format, peppered with contributors' experiences of weight loss or improvement in health. The nutrition information, on the other hand, is carefully laid out with numerous charts. The result is a book that is both encouraging and trustworthy.

Then come the recipes: 122 easy, healthy recipes, focused on whole foods. Many of the recipes are 'real kitchen' tested -- contributed by SparkPeople users. Serving and nutrition information (calories, fat, sodium, etc) is provided for each recipe.

It should be noted that the book addresses a vegan diet only, intentionally avoiding vegan ethics and taking a stance that "each person is different, and a vegan diet may or may not be right" for the reader. It goes on to encourage those readers who don't intend to follow a fully vegan diet or follow a vegan diet long-term to eat less meat for the sake of their health.

While those adopting vegan ethics may find some information lacking, they will enjoy the recipes, which are generally quick and simple. But Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople is a great resource for people who are interested in experimenting with a plant-based diet, or those who are adopting it for health reasons.

Easy Vegan Meals by SparkPeople:
The No-Stress, No-Guilt Way to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
by Stepfanie Romine
Amazon Kindle Edition
$2.99 US/CDN

Kasey Minnis | Facebook | @veggiemightee | Blog
Fort Lauderdale, FL That rare and elusive species known as the native Floridian, Kasey is passionate about protecting other endangered creatures. She lives by the principle “compassion and crochet for all,” and enjoys teaching others – including her husband of 20 years and two beautiful children – the benefits of cruelty-free eating by feeding them tasty vegan treats from her kitchen. Contact Kasey at kasey@thisdishisveg.com.

Disclosure: A complimentary copy of this publication was provided to TDIV for review. TDIV provides fair and unbiased reviews of all publications or products submitted for assessment.

Photo credit: SparkPeople

Rescue pets: Midna and Luna



I grew up around pets my entire life and after I moved out of my parent's house I decided to adopt pets of my own.

My boyfriend, Rick, and I adopted these two tortoiseshell sister kittens on January of 2012 at the San Diego Humane Society. It was perfect; both of them were right in the lobby of the adoption center! It was like they were waiting just for us. They were six months old.

The staff at the shelter told us that, when they found these two (cute!) kittens, there was no sign of their mother or other siblings. So they couldn't tell for sure how long they were both alone without any care. Poor things. Rick and I fell in love with them and we adopted them the very same day. We named them Midna and Luna.

Midna has light green eyes, a cream-colored "tie" on her chest, and a deep orange "crown" behind her ears. Although she can be quite bossy sometimes, she's always down to play fetch with a paper ball. She always lets us know when she's hungry.

Luna is the sweetheart of the two; she's always first in line to be pet and cuddled. She has a cream-colored "scarf" around her neck and she sheds more than Midna does. Even though she loves exploring and climbing, Luna is the chubby one! She loves to play with shoe laces and strings.

Rick and I are so happy to have adopted Midna and Luna and give them the best, most happiest and healthiest lives possible.

Joanna Tenderro | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+
San Diego, CA Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Joanna has been vegan since mid-2010 and is passionate about nutrition, animal rights, eco-friendly living, and yoga. She's studying to major in the field of nutrition to counsel and educate those around her about living and eating healthy... the vegan way.

Photo credit: Joanna

Meat production expected to sharply decline in 2013


 In a new report, the USDA forecasts that production of meat will decrease substantially in 2013. They are determined to attribute this to no more than increased feed costs, but Counting Animals nerds out and finds a significant decrease in demand.

Next year Americans will eat 500 million fewer chickens and 400,000 less cows than 2006, 22 million fewer turkeys than the peak high in 2008, and 12 million fewer pigs than 2007. Whoa! That's almost double the population of humans in the USA!

So, go team animals! Apparently between celebrity vegans, Meatless Mondays, Forks Over Knives and rising prices, somehow we’re convincing people not to eat quite so freaking much meat. As much as we like to rag on those flexitarians (who decided that was a word, anyway?) they definitely do influence food trends. And veggie trends rule.


Mandy Brown | @msmandypandy
San Francisco, CA Mandy is a vegan celiac actress writer living in San Francisco with her husband and three rescued pets. You can follow her on Twitter @msmandypandy.



Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/ericskiff

No Meat Zone Recipes: Holiday Potluck Dish


Holiday Potluck Dish: Kale, Couscous, and Chickpea Salad

This holiday dish is easy to make and is delicious! Plus, it looks pretty for a special occasion. It's great warm or cold, so you don't have to worry about it sitting out and having to heat it back up before everyone eats.

For some nice holiday color, add one diced red bell pepper too.

Salad Ingredients:

2/3 cup of cooked couscous

One green pepper, diced

Kale (as much or as little as you like)

1-2 cans of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed


Dressing Ingredients:

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup Extra-Virgin olive oil

Sea Salt, to taste


Directions:

1. Cook couscous on stovetop or in microwave until done (I made 2/3 cup of couscous with ½ cup of water)

2. Heat 1 tbsp. of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil in large skillet. Cook kale until it turns bright green

3. In a large bowl, combine the couscous, kale, chickpeas, and green pepper

4. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, adjusting the salt to your preferences

5. Pour dressing over salad and stir well!

Alexandra Beane | Facebook | Twitter
Minnesota Alexandra is a lover of all animals, but has a soft spot for especially dogs and rabbits. She believes that life is not complete without an animal to love. Alexandra is highly passionate about animals and animal rights, and wants to raise awareness of the cruelty that many animals suffer in the best way she knows how, and this is by written word. Alexandra is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, with a degree in Professional Writing and a minor in Creative Writing. She absolutely loves to write news and creative nonfiction, and obsesses over spelling and grammar.

Photo credit: Alexandra

'Beyond Meat' is a step beyond other meat substitutes



Beyond Meat, a new faux-chicken product, claims to be "the first plant protein that looks, feels, tastes, and acts like meat." Does it live up to its promise?

Our family tested the product in Whole Foods Market's "General Tso's Beyond Meat." Here's how it stacks up:

Looks: A+
This was such a convincing chicken strip, my child looked confused when his vegan mom asked him to taste it.

Feels: A- 
The "bite" is really close, much closer than any other faux-meat product. There's only the faintest hint of the rubber-like quality of soy.

Tastes: A
My omnivorous husband and children all declared it "good," which is high praise from individuals typically very critical of faux-meats. More tellingly, they all agreed they would eat it again.

Acts: A+
This is the truly amazing part about Beyond Meat- it shreds and tears like chicken. By capturing this unique quality, Beyond Meat really gives the impression of eating chicken - minus the cruelty.

Currently only available in selected cities, predominantly through Whole Foods Market's prepared foods, Beyond Meat may not be in your neighborhood yet. But once it is, introducing your friends and family to this product may help them move beyond meat.

Kasey Minnis | Facebook | @veggiemightee | Blog
Fort Lauderdale, FL That rare and elusive species known as the native Floridian, Kasey is passionate about protecting other endangered creatures. She lives by the principle “compassion and crochet for all,” and enjoys teaching others – including her husband of 20 years and two beautiful children – the benefits of cruelty-free eating by feeding them tasty vegan treats from her kitchen. Contact Kasey at kasey@thisdishisveg.com.

Photo credit: Kasey

Top holiday gift ideas for vegans and vegetarians


The holiday season has finally arrived. Below is the perfect holiday gift guide for the vegans and vegetarians in your life.

FOOD:
I Love Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Kris Holechek Peters
Trader Joe’s is a staple in every vegan’s life. Surprise your loved one with the Trader Joe’s themed cookbook featuring 150 delicious recipes. (NOTE: Although the title says "vegetarian," the author includes a vegan version of every recipe.)

Liz Lovely cookies 
Who doesn’t love receiving a big box of delicious cookies in the mail? For a reasonable price, send your loved ones packages of cookies in an old-fashioned bakery box.

Vegan gelt 
For those celebrating Hanukkah, veganstore.com offers a cruelty-free alternative to chocolate coins.

EZ Bean Cooker 
Everyone’s favorite musical fruit just got EZ-er to make! The EZ Bean Cooker is a wonderful gift for those who love to cook. Click here for a review.

GIFTS FOR CHILDREN:
That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals by Ruby Roth
Featuring beautiful artwork, a cute story, and an incredible message, this gift is perfect for young vegans and vegetarians.

Animal Matters: Fur & Feathers board game
While being fun and exciting, the Fur & Feathers board game also teaches useful facts about animals and veganism. Ages 6 and up.

CREATIVE AND MEANINGFUL:
Highland Titles 
Looking for a gift that is truly clever and unexpected? Buy a plot of land in Scotland. This helps contribute to animal and environmental protection—hunting and destruction are not allowed on the plot of land after being purchased. Along with the conservation deed, the new land owner can legally use the prefix Lord, Laird, or Lady.

Adopt a shelter animal 
The holiday season is a time for giving. Why not give an abandoned animal a home? Click here to find a shelter near you.

ACCESSORIES:
e.l.f Cosmetics 
The popular cruelty-free makeup company offers a large selection of inexpensive gift sets this time of year.

ChicoBag
Whether it's used for shopping (Paper or plastic? Neither-- ChicoBag!), a fashionable purse, or temporary storage, ChicoBag is a perfect gift for anyone. While some bags can be bulky and cluttery, ChicoBag's can be rolled up into itself to save space.

DIY GIFT BASKETS:
Dr. McDougall's Soups 
Fill up a gift basket with vegan-friendly Dr. McDougall Soup cups for a warm treat.

Tofurky and Daiya 
Buy Tofurky sausages and Daiya’s new vegan cheese wedges for an authentic holiday gift basket feel.

SO Delicious Coconut Milk Egg Nog 
Egg nog is the ultimate holiday drink. Create a gift basket of various flavors of SO Delicious egg nog, such as mint chocolate and pumpkin spice.

GIFT CARDS:
Specialty Shop
For vegans who love to shop, gift cards to places such as Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and Trader Joe’s are sure to please.

Julia Fortney | email
Julia is a student who has a passion for veganism, animal welfare, and religious studies.




Photo credit: cc: SXC pixman

This year start a new holiday tradition: One that serves all living beings



We have a Thanksgiving tradition in my family. Once the table is set, and the meal is prepared, we rush to our seats, most of us starving, having chosen not to eat much since the night before in order to leave more room for the decadent food we are about to enjoy. But before the food is served and the forks are raised, we take a moment to share what we are thankful for. I suppose, this is my family’s way of saying grace. It is a tradition my mother started when my brother and I were very young, and it was just the three of us sitting around a small table that overflowed with my mother’s efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy in spite of my parents divorce. And for the most part, it worked. My brother and I would rush through our gratitude: “I’m thankful for you guys, and Dad, Grammy and Pop, and you know my friends, and stuff.”

But my mother was much more eloquent in her focus and delivery. “I’m thankful for each of you. I’m thankful for our home. I’m thankful for our good health. And,” she still always ends with this one, “I’m thankful for this bountiful blessing which we are about to receive.”

So many of our patterns of thought and behavior are wrapped up in the traditions of our youth. Our family, heritage, and culture impact not only the decisions that lead to our physical actions, but also and perhaps even more so, our emotions. This is why many people have such a hard time breaking some traditions, or straying from what has for so long been considered by those people closest to them, as normal; even if they have discovered that the tradition or behavior no longer serves them or those around them.

When my mother gave thanks for our bountiful blessing it stirred something within me. How, I wondered, could I be grateful for the blessing of our meal when it required the death of another? Why was our traditional meal, the one we had been raised on and become comfortable with, more important than the life of the bird who ended up as the centerpiece on our table? Didn’t that bird have a family of its own? And if not a family (thanks to factory farming), certainly a will to live? Rather than giving thanks, I felt like mourning. Holidays were suddenly overshadowed by the grim reality of what I had come to see as unnecessary suffering and death, all in the name of gratitude and celebration. It didn’t make sense to me. How could we be so disconnected from our emotions that an entire holiday season, supposedly based on the premise of gratitude, peace, joy, goodwill and kindness to others, requires extinguishing the lives of billions of living, breathing beings?

I do, however, understand that most people are simply continuing a beloved family tradition that has been passed down through generations. I also understand that change can be difficult, and that choosing not to conform can leave us feeling isolated and alien, even around those we were once closest with.

Personally, I no longer sit with my family — and the turkey or pig, or cow who has been sacrificed for their meal. My practice instead, is to celebrate with my loved ones either before or after the meal has been served. It is the solution that works best for me. It allows me to enjoy the company of my loved ones without compromising myself. And honoring ourselves and all beings is, I believe, the best tradition anyone could begin.

To help make this change a little easier for you, we have included some delicious, vegan holiday recipes. This year you can start a new tradition — one that serves all living beings. Happy Holidays!

Recipes courtesy JerseyCityVegan.com:

Stuffed Mushrooms

½ cup Italian –style dried breadcrumbs
½ cup Parmela parmesan cheese (or your favorite vegan parmesan substitute)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
28 large (2 ½-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir the breadcrumbs, Parmela parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and pepper, to taste, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl to blend.

Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheets, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 25 minutes. Serve.

Coconut Sweet Potato Mash

3 pounds sweet potatoes, (about 6 medium)
1 ½ cup “lite” coconut milk
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt

Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on High until tender all the way to the center, 10 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees F until tender all the way to center, about 1 hour.)

When cool enough to handle, peel off and discard skin. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large bowl (or a pot on the stove) and mash thoroughly with a potato masher. Add coconut milk, ginger and salt; stir well. Serve warm.

Green Bean Casserole

1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 Tbsp vegan butter, divided
8 oz mixed wild mushrooms, chopped
2 large, or 4 smaller shallots
1 -2 garlic cloves, minced
½ (or enough for 1 cup of water) vegetable bouillon cube
¼ c. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 c. non-diary milk (unsweetened)
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups fried onion pieces

Pre-heat oven to 350 F

Set up a steamer basket and steam the green beans until they are cooked through. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp vegan butter over medium heat in a medium sized, deep skillet.
Caramelize the shallots, garlic and mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Remove from pan and set aside.
Melt the remaining 3 tbsp butter and the bouillon cube in the same pan you used for the mushrooms. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the non-dairy milk, and continue to stir avoid lumps. Cook the sauce until it thickens.
Add the mixture and beans to the sauce, stir. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart or 8x11 casserole dish, and sprinkle the fried onion pieces over the top.
Bake for 15 minutes and serve.

Cranberry Seitan

4 tablespoons olive oil
16oz seitan (about two packages store bought chunks)
½ cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F

Place seitan in a 9x13 baking dish. Add olive oil, using just enough to coat the seitan. Sprinkle on herbs, salt, pepper, and add dried cranberries.

Bake until seitan has lightly browned, about 25 minutes.

Tofu Cutlets

2 packages extra firm tofu
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tamari (or other soy sauce)
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F

Mix dried herbs together (for dried rosemary it helps to crush using mortar and pestle or the bottom of a glass).

Drain and press water for firm tofu. Cut into ½ inch slices. Lightly coat a baking sheet with some of the olive oil, place tofu slices on sheet. Using a basting brush, baste tofu with tamari and then with the remaining olive oil. Evenly sprinkle dried herb mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip slices and bake for another 15 minutes, then flip slices and bake for another 15 minutes until tofu is golden. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Pie

One 16-ounce can of pureed pumpkin
¾ cup silken tofu
2/3 cup natural granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix
One 9-inch good-quality natural piecrust

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Combine the pumpkin in a food processor with the remaining ingredients, except crust. Process until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the rust. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the mixture is set and the crust is golden. Let the pie cool to room temperature. Cut and serve.

Erica Settino | Twitter | Facebook | Website
New York Erica is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. She currently holds a BS in Psychology with a concentration in Animal Behavior and an MFA in Creative Writing. Along with her work in animal advocacy, Erica works as an editorial assistant, freelance writer, certified and registered yoga instructor, nutritional counselor and health coach. She lives with her veg husband and their four rescued animal companions.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/sergemelki
 
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