Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Veganism and Me

Veganism and I?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've been thinking about how fake it feels to call myself a pescetarian. I've been thinking about all these vegan cookbooks and how I seldom cook anything other than vegan anyway. I seldom eat dairy, and rarely ever buy eggs. So how much of a stretch is it, really?

I've been thinking about vegan vs. local, and which has the greatest reduced impact on the environment. I've been thinking about all the non-vegan clothes I currently own, and how difficult it can be to find things in Vermont (I prefer brick and mortar shops, when possible). Would I be less of a vegan if I decided to wear it until it wore out, then replaced it with a vegan item? Would I be more of a vegan if I donated it all instead?

I've been thinking how difficult it will be to go out eat with friends. I love going out to eat. It is one of my favorite things to do. There are no vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Vermont. There are plenty of vegetarian-friendly places, but veganism is something else entirely. I'd either have to be one of those people who asks for something with no animal products whatsoever then complains that it is just a plate of steamed vegetables, or suck it up and get something with cheese.

So, where does all this thinking leave me? Still thinking. I've got some books from Amazon on order that I want to read first. After all, if I'm going to do this, I want to make sure I do this right. I don't believe in multivitamins, so I have to ensure that I'll be getting enough of those hard to get things like B-12, iron and the omegas. I may have to befriend SparkPeople for a while.

Even though in reality I would not be making a huge leap, in my mind there is a chasm between vegetarian and vegan. One is, on some level, at least mildly accepted. The other pegs you as a pain-in-the-ass radical who's going to make life difficult for everyone else. I won't lie and say I'm not passionate in my decisions (I don't come by them lightly), but I have no desire to "convert" anyone. I just don't want people to look at me like I have two heads.

So, this is just one of the many things running through my head now. I think, if I were to make the transition, I would go, say 80% vegan. Leave myself the option to return to vegetarian when going out to dinner with friends. All other times, I would stay vegan. Eventually, as I got the hang of things, I would hopefully go 100% vegan. Or, I would decide that vegetarianism works better for me. Either way, I think this means the end of the pescetarian label. Just as well... it always felt like a cop-out to me anyway.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brainwash Me.

I subscribe to two veg magazines: Vegetarian Times and VegNews. The former has good articles, and is big on recipes, which saved my hide when I gave up land animals three or four years ago. The latter is much more vegan and activist-based. I really enjoy both of their offerings, and I consider the subscriptions to be money well-spent.

One thing I have noticed is that every time I read the latest issue of VegNews, I have this overwhelming desire to go vegan. Which is ironic because while I never cook seafood at home, I've had a hell of a time giving it up. Truth be told, every once in a while I contemplate going back to (organic, local) meats. The thing that stops me every time is that something with eyes, a heart, a brain is dying because I have a hankering.

I wish I could look at seafood and think the same thing. I'm trying, I really am. But for some reason, I have that disconnect. Let's face it - it's hard to look at a clam and see it as a living creature on par with a cow. Maybe it's because seafood isn't cute. Maybe it's because I'm familiar with the processing of fish - I've seen it go from lake to skillet. Heck, I used to go fishing with my dad. But then, the fish I get at a restaurant is not procured by those same means. I know the environmental impacts of over-fishing. Why doesn't that stop me?

Don't get me wrong - I have nothing against veganism. I am a devotee of all things Isa and Terry (see the Post Punk Kitchen link at right). I love the idealism and hope inherent in the philosophy of abstaining from all things animal, be it food, fashion, or anything in between. I love that it is one of the healthiest diets in the world. I love that it is sustainable. I love that it makes a difference.

I know if I went vegan, I'd get a lot of flak from it from family and friends. Most were okay with me going veg. Well, so long as it didn't interfere with dinner plans or I made too much of a fuss about it. I never tried to convert anyone, never once thought that they should bend their ways to match mine. One main fear of mine is that all my friends and family will think that I've lost my marbles and I'll end up constantly having to defend my choice. Which isn't right. If I'm not harping on your choice of food, don't beleagur mine.

Every year, one of my New Year's "goals" (I refuse to make resolutions), is to become more vegan. This year, half-way through I chose local over vegan. Maybe it's time to start the swing the other way. I don't know if I could ever be wholly vegan. It would be fairly impossible for me to be a local vegan. Well, I could but I'd be cranky and mean and I wouldn't blame people for not wanting to hang out with me. But every step is a good step, for my health and for the planet. I know this in my head; now to convince the rest of me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Argh!

I often think sometimes that if it weren't for chocolate, I wouldn't make it through my day alive and sane.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Kate's Cooking all Crazy-Like

I took today off. Originally I was going to hang out with friend Angie, but poor Angie has a migraine that won't quit. Feel better, Angie!

I talked to friend Robin, took a lovely walk along the waterfront, got my hair trimmed, and cooked. A lot. It's like I was making up for lost time or something. I've got at least two week's worth of food right now. Although, I may get sick of it before it's all gone. Here's what I cooked (you probably shouldn't click on the images unless you want to see just how blurry they really are).

Blueberry scones, made from the Vegan with a Vengeance recipe. Super yummy. The blueberries were given to me by a coworker whose wife has a huge wild patch behind her place of work. Sorry this is so dark. The lights were on, but apparently that didn't matter much.








Calzones, made with the leftover batch of pizza dough from the pizza below. I've never worked with yeast before, so this was a new experience for me. It was super easy and I think I'm going to make my pizza crusts from scratch from now on. It just tastes so much better! The recipe for the dough came from the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook as well. 







Blurry pizza, but oh my goodness is it good! I'm so glad I took the time to make the dough from scratch. It wasn't nearly as hard or time consuming as I thought it would be. This pizza made me happy. That's fake pepperoni on it, by the way. Or, as I like to call it, fauxperoni.







Sweet potato burritos with refried beans and cheddar. Kinda hard to tell from these pictures, I know. These are a test. I'm not a big fan of orange vegetables generally speaking. I'm trying to teach myself to like sweet potatoes, as they are so good for you. I'm hoping that by putting them in something yummy and savory, I'll like them by association. If they suck, my brother is going to have two weeks worth of dinners free of charge. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Snort.

I was perusing the Weight Watchers message boards (as I do), and someone posted this. If this is yours, let me know in the comments and I'll give you due credit. I thought it was cute. No offense meant to either Buddhists or Jews.

The Jewish Buddha

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

Drink tea and nourish life; with the first sip, joy; with the second sip, satisfaction; with the third sip, peace; with the fourth, a Danish.

Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.

Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems. What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy.

There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And who's fault was that?

Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.

The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao is not Jewish.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as a wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals. You might want to see a specialist.

Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

The Torah says, Love your neighbor as yourself. The Buddha says, There is no self. So, maybe we're off the hook.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Today's Random Navel Gazing.

They say the things you hate most in others are the things you hate most in yourself. I've been thinking about that a lot lately, especially as it relates to people moving about in my life.

There is one particular individual whom, when I first met him/her, immediately got on my bad side. In their defense, they did absolutely nothing wrong. S/he is a very nice person and did not deserve my distaste. It really came down to the fact that s/he is not conventionally attractive. I've since gotten over myself, realizing that I'm penalizing this poor person for my own prejudices.

Looking deeper, especially as it relates to the above theory, my own insecurities about the way I look most likely influenced my initial reaction. I know I will never be considered a "conventional" beauty, but it's taken me a while to realize I'm not ugly either. When a person is outside of perceived norms, anyone further outside of those norms than they become a target of ridicule, if only to proof to one's self that they aren't as bad as they thought. Is this what I was doing?

Another individual who has recently come into my little corner of the world gets on my last nerve, and I'm still trying to get past it. It has nothing to do with looks and everything to do with enthusiasm. I don't have it. At least, we are not enthusiastic about this same particular thing. In this instance, it is what I lack on some level that may be inspiring jealousy, which is maquerading as dislike.

So really, is it what we hate about ourselves or what we fear we lack in ourselves that causes these kinds of violent reactions to other people? Would my life be any easier if I were 5'7", blonde, blue-eyed and 115 pounds? Would my life be any better if I could muster up some enthusiasm for something about which I don't care?

Good questions, all. The fact of the matter is, they are all my own issues and I need to address them instead of projecting them on to unwitting individuals. It's not fair to them and certainly not helping me.

And now that I've just laid out for the entire blog world how inconsiderate and mean I can be, I'm going to shut up before I get my self in any deeper.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vroom Vroom

Went up to my mum's for the weekend with my brother. Well, he went with me really since I did all the driving. We lucked out and had a pretty good day on Saturday. We took a lot of secondary roads, so we got to see a lot of nice scenery. We drove by a dam on one of the rivers (have no idea which one, sorry), and you can really see just how much rain we've been having:

Massive amounts of water going over the dam.













My brother taking pictures of the massive amounts of water going over the dam.








My picture doesn't really do it justice. The water coming over the edge was actually as large or larger than the house you can see in the background. 

I just typed that last sentence watching a 12-year old Chinese gymnast do an uneven bar routine. Oh, I'm sorry - she's "16."

Anyway. These are pictures of the lake I grew up with, Lake Memphremagog. For those of you non-NEK'ers, say it with me now: mem-FRE-may-gog. 























They've cleaned the waterfront up a lot since I left in the 1990's. It used to be packed with ramshackle boathouse buildings and old gas stations. Now they've got a boardwalk and a really nice boathouse. You can't tell from the pictures, but the water is very high. Water is high everywhere in Vermont these days. We need it to stop raining. The ground is saturated, we've got no place left to put the damn stuff. 

Could be worse though. All this rain could be snow. 

Shudder.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Score One for the Little Guy

I'm not generally one to rant about business practices and economics. I try not to, as my grasp on such things is basic and I admittedly have difficulty comprehending the intricasies of such things. My brain just doesn't work that way.


But this morning at work I was reading my daily Dairy update (I work in an agricultural based company) and this article popped out at me.

rBST has been around for a long while now, and I can remember when it was first introduced. Vermont farmers were in an uproar and many staunchly refused to use it, and labeled their milk as such. Which got them into a lot of hot water. I am glad to see that consumers are standing up for something.

I do find it ironic that at the end of the article, one of rBST's proponents says essentially that the consumers will be sorry, as if the amount of milk in the world will suddenly plummet and there will be dairy droughts, the likes of which we've never seen. The reality is, dairy sales have been falling, and cows are producing more milk than the farmers can sell. The overseas market is going in fits and starts, and many while tout success and growth in markets in Asia, the reality is many Asian countries are not dairy consumers. In fact, many are lactose intolerant. How long will this last before those consumers get sick of the constant stomach issues?

While I'm not opposed to dairy generally speaking, I also no longer believe the hype that it is good for you and necessary for your existance. Sure it tastes good and yummy things are derived from it (cheese, anyone?), but it's also not a requirement for human existance. There is nothing present there that we can't get in other places.

I firmly believe the factory dairy farmers have backed themselves into a corner. With thousands of cows receiving growth hormones to produce more milk than they are biologically engineered to do, they've created a monster that cannot be supported by the general population long-term. People are slowly waking up to the fact that what they are putting in their bodies is not as wholesome as they were led to believe.

Sure, the article indicates a very small step, but it is a step in the right direction. In the end, the only thing that corporate giants listen to is money. So put your money in the right place - local, rBST-free dairy producers. They are the ones that deserve your money.

And now I'll shut my mouth.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Weekend Quickie.

Trip, that is. Git yer mind out of the gutter. 

I went down to Boston this past weekend to see a friend who is in town for the ASA conference (American Sociological Association, for those of you not up on your academic acronyms). He's a former colleague, actually, but a friend all the same. Once upon a time I attended this conference as an exhibitor. Now apparently I just follow it around visiting old friends.

I wasn't in town for very long, but it was great seeing my friend. He lives in the UK, so visits are few and far between. We spent a fair portion of our time drinking, and I attempted to explain baseball to him. Shut up, Alex. I can actually explain the game, I just can't quote stats. 

Have you ever heard of Pimms? Me either. Neil insisted I try some. In fact, he bought me a bottle and then insisted on finding lemonade so we could drink some. It's not half bad, but you definitely need to cut it with something. No one knows the exact recipe, but I have a sneaking suspicion there is some anise in it. Neil made mine a little too strong at first and it tasted heavily of licorice. I've got the rest of the bottle in the fridge now. Thank goodness I took the bus down, otherwise I'd have had some issues going through security.

Speaking of buses, I think I figured out a way around my "how to get to the UK on a direct flight when you can't from my city" conundrum. It seems that South Station in Boston has a silver line that goes straight to the airport. I could catch a bus to Boston then just skip over to the airport. Handy. The bus ride down to Boston is actually quite easy. I'd have to leave enough time for possible delays, but that shouldn't be a problem. 

Herm... thinking thoughts...


So.... You Want to be an Artist.

For the last several weeks, I have been working through The Artist's Way . This book has been out since the 1990's and I've been...