Monday, March 31, 2008

Recommended Reading: "Committed" by Dan Mathews

I read this book about a year ago (thanks to a loan from my vegan friend Susannah!) and loved it so much that I immediately bought one for my vegan friend Jessica's birthday. She loved it too, so three out of three vegans give it a thumbs up! (That's pretty good statistically...)

So why am I only writing about it now? Well, because Dan Mathews came to San Diego and spoke at the Borders in Mission Valley last Monday night. Of course I went to see him (with Jessica), and finally bought my own copy of the book, which he graciously signed.

One of the things I loved about this book was that it spoke about a very serious topic in a light-hearted way. Sometimes it's easy to let the world get you down when you're an animal-lover, but Dan's memoirs are laugh-out-loud funny! As a matter of fact, I would recommend it even (or perhaps especially) to non-veg friends. It's also a great inside look at some of the workings of PETA, since he is the vice-president of the famous (and in some circles, infamous) organization.

Dan was just as charming and entertaining in person. He read from the book and then did a question/answer session, addressing each concern in a straight-forward way. He pointed out that the reason it may seem as though PETA goes overboard in some cases is this: for a non-profit organization to fight against huge corporations who won't stop at anything to save a buck (and have tons of money and power backing them), they have to really push to get things done for the sake of the animals.

Thanks to Dan and PETA for doing what they do! And to each of you for doing what you can ;)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Eco and Vegan Jewelry by Christy Robinson

So I went on a little jewelry shopping spree on Etsy last week, and I found "Julep115," which is a shop that showcases the beautiful and compassionate jewelry of Christy Robinson. As well as being very stylish and reasonably priced, the jewelry helps out a great cause. This month 10% of all sales goes to Vegan Outreach. Now you have a very good excuse to treat yourself or a friend!

I ordered the "clever fox" bracelet, and the craftsmanship looked even better on the real thing than it did on the site. It was elegantly wrapped, and being the eco-conscious consumer that I try to be, I will certainly be reusing the ribbon and box it came in. I wore it to a vegan potluck/canasta game night last night, and got compliments on it.

As if that wasn't enough, it came very quickly (I ordered it on a Tuesday and it arrived on Saturday), and Christy included some fun extras (I won't ruin the surprise). Also included was a coupon for my next purchase (which I will try to make this month to help out Vegan Outreach). You can check it out at: Viva la vegan!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Vegan Fast Food

Well, it's finals time for me and Marc, as well as thousands of others. Who has time to cook? So I thought I'd share some suggestions for quick and easy snacks and mini-meals.

Tonight Marc made us a tasty soup, using just vegetable bouillon, a few bow-tie pasta pieces, one sliced carrot, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. It was easy, but better than from a can! If you don't even have time for that, Health Valley makes a few vegan vegetable soups that are good and readily available. Read the ingredients carefully though; not every flavor is vegan.

Rice cakes are great for all sorts of toppings, especially if you try to avoid bread like me. I like them with Vegenaise and any of Tofurkey's sliced deli "meats" (all of which are vegan) or with tomato sauce and Tofutti mozzarella cheese slices (I put these in the broiler for about 30-60 seconds and voila! Pizza rice cake). Tofutti's cheese slices are great; not only are they one of the few "non-dairy" cheeses that are actually vegan (many contain casein or whey), but they melt like real cheese and taste realistic too. If you've got a sweet tooth, they're also good with peanut butter and jelly (I like almond or cashew butter, and fruit preserves with no added sugar). They're also good with hummus and sliced cucumbers.

Odwalla bars are portable and vegan, as well as Luna bars and Clif bars (check the ingredients, but I believe all varieties of each of those brands are vegan). Trail mixes are good too, and many of the kind that come with semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips are vegan (but as always, read the ingredients). Watch out for carob chips; in my experience they are usually NOT vegan.

On another note, for those of you who are veg-curious or who have friends who are veg-curious, this Thursday, March 20th is Meatout day. Why not invite your non-veg friends over for dinner (as well as your veg friends of course) and show them how we do it? Everyone can commit to one day of a meat-free lifestyle.

Well, I must get back to my school work, but good luck on your finals, and don't forget to eat!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Easy-bake Spice Muffins

Hello, my fellow vegans! Well, I know this is a little late, but what can I say, it's been a busy week. Tonight, however, I am going to a vegan potluck, and while I had all intentions of making something new and exciting, after a good but hectic week, I decided to go with an old standby that's easy and fast. These muffins are wheat-free as well as vegan, but even the carnivores eat them right up, so they're a crowd pleaser. Here's what you'll need:

1 Bag Namaste Foods Spice Cake Mix (see? I told you it would be easy)
4.5 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer
2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup water
3-4 tablespoons agave syrup to taste
2 tablespoons apple sauce
1/2 cup crushed pecans (put them in a plastic bag and crush with your fists—it's fun!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a big mixing bowl and dump the cake mix and egg replacer powder in, and mix together with a spoon. (This is from a tip of Marc's; the egg replacer works better when you mix it in the dry ingredients first and then add the water to the whole thing, so the egg replacer doesn't get clumpy.) Then put the oil and water together in the measuring cup, give them a quick stir, and mix in with the dry ingredients until smooth. Add the agave syrup until it tastes sweet enough for you. The nice thing about these muffins is you can do them just lightly sweet or really sweet, depending on your mood. Next, mix in the apple sauce, and finally, the pecans.

Lightly oil a muffin pan (I like spray oils for this purpose; grapeseed oil is my current favorite, but the veggie or canola oil will work too). Pour them in, leaving a little room for rising and pop them in the oven for 20–30 minutes (start checking them around the 20 minute mark; you can stick a knife in them and see if it comes out clean—when it does, they're ready). If you want to get fancy, you can even make an icing for them (I use Tofutti cream cheese and agave syrup), but they're still yummy plain as well. Enjoy!