Sunday, April 28, 2013

Vegan Smoothies for the Summer

I know, I know. I was going to post the next part in my philosophy and animal rights series, but I was at an exciting and exhausting forum in Toronto yesterday, so I don't really feel like philosophizing. Instead, I'll write about vegan smoothies. :)
Smoothies are incredibly easy to make. You don't always need a food processor to make a smoothie-- a simple hand blender or egg beater can work, or even a fork if you are using mushy ingredients (like bananas).
I like simple foods and easy preparation, so I typically have something like this:

Simple Vanilla-Banana Soy Shake\
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 banana
  • any flavouring you'd like (optional)
Put in a medium-sized cup or glass, blend with a hand blender and enjoy! (Sometimes I substitute the vanilla soy milk for chocolate soy milk. It is also very good.)

However, there are plenty of other great recipes that you can use for a bit of variety. I look forward to making one or both of these when I have the time and ingredients:

"Green Goddess Smoothie" from alive magazine
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 cup packed chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup packed parsley
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup coconut water
"Place all ingredients in blender and blend until very smooth." -alive


Mango Banana Smoothie, edited version of recipe from
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 15 oz. mango pulp (organic) or 1 to 1-1/2 fresh mangos
  • 3 bananas (organic)
  • 8-10 ice cubes
"Chop bananas and, if using fresh mangos, chop mangos.
Mix all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth. Will be ready from blender because of ice.
(optional: add about 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon for extra kick)."

Serves 3-6.
(Note: the original recipe called for a bit of sugar, but I took that out. Why would anyone want to ruin a good smoothie with refined sugar???)

You can always make your own vegan smoothie recipes, as well. It's simple. According to alive magazine, there are five categories of foods you should consider putting in your smoothie:
1) Fruits and/or vegetables (I recommend bananas, mango, blueberries, and pineapple. Kale, Swiss chard, and spinach seem to be good choices for vegetables)
2) Liquid (you could use water, juice, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, etc.)
3) Thickener (including bananas, coconut meat, oats, vegan yoghurt, ice, or even nut butters!)
4) Flavour (sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, dates, stevia, and coconut nectar; spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg; vanilla/peppermint/almond extract; fresh herbs like mint, parsley, and cilantro.)
5) Nutrition booster (such as vegan protein powder (Vega is a good one), chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries, etc.)
You don't have to add all these elements into your smoothie. You could just pick one or two and experiment with it, if you'd like.

If you want to veganize your friends and relatives, try blending them a nice, cool smoothie on a hot summer day. Even if they don't go vegan because of it, they'll still enjoy a cruelty-free snack that opens their mind to the idea of veganism. It all does add up, since the vegan smoothie that they enjoyed replaced the non-vegan snack that they might have eaten.
And besides, who doesn't love to drink smoothies?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Philosophy and Animal Rights-- Part I: Utilitarianism

I've decided to do a series of posts on the different philosophies surrounding animal rights. The first one is on utilitarianism, which is most commonly used to describe the reasons why we need animal rights.
Utilitarianism is the school of thought that states that the most ethical action is the one that creates the greatest good for the greatest number. It is a results-focused philosophy: proponents care more about the actual results of an action as opposed to the intention. If your intention is to produce the greatest good for the greatest number, but the results of your actions do not support your intentions, utilitarian philosophers would say that your behaviour was immoral.
I'm not particularly a proponent of utilitarianism, but it undoubtedly is interesting, and I can see why many people are drawn to it. Instead of being highly indivualistic, like our society is, it focuses on the majority. John Hart Ely, a constitutional scholar, has said that "democracy is a sort of applied utilitarianism", which I think is true.
Peter Singer is one of the most famous animal liberation philosophers, and he believed in utilitarianism. It was Singer who wrote Animal Liberation, the groundbreaking animal rights philosophy book, and he believed that all animals are equal in suffering, which is why we must fight for animal rights.
Peter Singer's most famous book.

Exerpt from "All Animals Are Equal", an article by Peter Singer:
Peter Singer, moral philosopher and professor at Princeton U.
"The capacity for suffering and enjoying things is a prerequisite for having interests at all, a condition that must be satisfied before we can speak of interests in any meaningful way. It would be nonsense to say that it was not in the interests of a stone to be kicked along the road by a schoolboy. A stone does not have interests because it cannot suffer. Nothing that we can do to it could possibly make any difference to its welfare. A mouse, on the other hand, does have an interest in not being tormented, because it will suffer if it is.
If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering—in so far as rough comparisons can be made—of any other being. If a being is not capable of suffering, or of experiencing enjoyment or happiness, there is nothing to be taken into account. This is why the limit of sentience (using the term as a convenient, if not strictly accurate, shorthand for the capacity to suffer or experience enjoyment or happiness) is the only defensible boundary of concern for the interests of others. To mark this boundary by some characteristic like intelligence or rationality would be to mark it in an arbitrary way. Why not choose some other characteristic, like skin color?
The racist violates the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of his own race, when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. Similarly the speciesist allows the interests of his own species to override the greater interests of members of other species." (The rest of this article can be found at

Next up, we'll be looking at a different animal rights philosophy. See you then!

Friday, April 19, 2013

BONUS POST: "Confused koala discovers his home has been cut down (Photos)"

I found this, and I just had to share it. A new post is still coming up on Sunday, though!
Re-posted from Treehugger (

Confused koala discovers his home has been cut down (Photos)
By Stephen Messenger

"This koala looks rather sad. But who can blame him?
According to Australia's Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), the sub-adult male koala was recently discovered sitting atop the remnants of what was once his home in Vittoria State Forest, New South Wales. Although the logging operation was approved by the forestry service, judging by the koala's confused expression, not everyone got the memo.
"Koalas would have been moved out of their homes in preparation for planned logging activities," says WIRES general manager, Leanne Taylor.
"It is common for koalas to roam back to their home range afterwards and become confused to find nothing there. A worker noticed a koala had been sitting stationary in broad daylight on top of wood piles for over an hour."

The perplexed marsupial, found to have an injury on its eye, was transfered to a local vet before being relocated once again back into a different patch of forest. Forestry workers found three other koalas at the clearcut site and they were transfered as well."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Animal Welfare vs. Animal Rights

The Fundamental Difference Between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights

Animal welfare, as an ideology:
  • wishes to improve quality of life for animals;
  • believes that we should not cause animals harm and excess suffering;
  • does not necessarily prohibit the consumption of animal products like meat, milk, eggs, honey, leather, wool, etc., nor does it necessarily prohibit medical animal tests.
The belief of animal rights, however:
  • states that all animals are equal;
  • believes that we should not use animals for our purposes;
  • reminds us that all animals have the right to be free;
  • typically prohibits the consumption of any animal products, such as those listed above, and prohibits animal tests for medical purposes.
However, animal rights activists and animal welfare advocates should try to work together as much as possible. We needn`t lose valuable opportunities to make progress together. Some things, like meat-eating and medical animal tests, would likely cause disagreements between rights and welfare advocates, and so we would have to fight those battles separately. However, fighting for stricter punishments for ``pet`` abusers is something that we can all agree on, as is abolishing cosmetic animal tests. Work with animal welfarists on these issues-- it will give you a bigger audience and higher credibility (governments and large organizations have a bit of a prejudice against animal rights activists sometimes, but they have little against animal welfarists).

``United we stand, divided we fall.`` Aesop

Some people may be under the false impression that animal rights activists are the extremists, and animal welfarists are the ``normal`` ones. This is false. In the end, animal rights and animal welfare are two separate ideologies. Animal welfarists may, at times, be extreme in their actions, and animal rights activists may be mild and completely engaging in legal actions.

Of course, I believe in animal rights, as that is the title of this blog. Keep in mind, however, that you should always think for yourself-- don`t accept something as true just because all the other animal rights activists say it is. For example, most animal rights activists think that we should spay and neuter all our pets, even if they never are exposed to another animal. This is ridiculous. Why should I make my rabbit have a painful, personality-altering operation just to make the other animal rights activists happy?‎ It is not like she is going to have babies if I do not get her spayed. People sometimes say that you need to spay or neuter your pet so that they are more manageable pets. Again, ridiculous! That is not for the good of the animal-- it is just to make our human lives easier! How would you like to have one of those spay or neuter surgeries? (Annoyingly, my keyboard is replacing all those apostrophes with รจ, which is why I have suddenly stopped using contractions and quotation marks. Sorry.)
You do not have to agree with me, of course. My point is, though, that you must always think for yourself. You may even choose to not identify as an animal rights activist or an animal welfare advocate at all‎, but as something else entirely (animal liberationist, perhaps?‎).

Next week, I will be talking about different philosophical approaches you can take to animal rights. See you then!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Exposing the Truths Behind Foie Gras

Foie gras, is, literally translated from French, "fat liver". It is a "delicacy" from France which comes from the fattened liver of ducks and geese. In fact, the birds must be fattened to such an unnatural degree that many of them actually die of ruptured internal organs.
According to Natural News (click here for the link) "farmers have to gorge ducks and geese with ghastly amounts of corn feed administered through a force-feeding tube, which causes the birds' livers to artificially expand in size, and may cause them severe pain and distress."
The birds' livers swell up to 10 times their normal size, making it difficult for them to stand, walk, or breathe.
This barbaric process first began when Romans and Egyptians noticed that the liver of geese tasted better right before the birds migrated (which was the time when the birds gorged themselves with food to store up enough fat for the long flight ahead). However, people started feeding birds much more food than was natural even at their migratory times, trying to exaggerate the taste. Over time, the modern foie gras industry took hold, probably much to the delight of gourmet foodies, yet to the horror of animal welfare advocates, (I don't think animal rights existed much back then).
Logo for

But there is hope. A quick Yahoo! search for "duck meat and foie gras" revealed that four of the ten results on the first page were indeed from animal rights and welfare organizations. No longer is foie gras simply a delicacy enjoyed in gourmet kitchens-- it is a hot topic that will hopefully open the doors to better animal treatment everywhere.
Here are some things you can do to help end this cruelty:
1) Don't serve or eat foie gras! Recommend that people, restaurants, etc. eat vegan "faux gras" instead of foie gras. "Faux gras" (which, oddly enough, translates into "fake fat" from French) can be made of mushrooms, vegetables, spices, and other ingredients. You can find recipes here: However, you don't really need to have something that tastes like duck/goose liver anyway, do you?
2) Spread the word-- foie gras is the product of evil! (Oh, don't look at me like that. Force-feeding animals food, making them grotesquely uncomfortable, and hardly caring when their organs explode is evil.)
3) Get people to go vegan, and, if you haven't already, go vegan yourself. Vegans won't even consider eating foie gras, because it simply isn't vegan. So, the more vegans you convert, the less animal suffering in general! Yay!
Any ideas about what I ought to talk about next week? If not, it'll be a surprise! I have a few ideas swimming around in the back of my head...