Sunday, June 30, 2013

New Topic Ideas + Oh She Glows + Almost Raw Vegan

Hi, all my blog readers!
I'm looking for new topic ideas. What sort of things do YOU want me to discuss on my blog? Do you want more vegan recipes and lifestyle, more philosophy, more action tips, or something else? Please fill out the poll to your right (it will be up until July 30, 2013), or, even better, give your ideas in the comments section below.
Two websites that I've found recently that I wanted to share with you:

Oh She Glows

I've recently discovered a website/blog called Oh She Glows, documenting Angela Liddon's journey into good health. (And, in case you weren't sure, Angela is a vegan.) There are LOADS of good recipes on her blog, including the Green Monster smoothies, and many gluten-free/raw recipes that I plan to try. She also has a page titled, "My Vegan Pantry", in which she shows you all the different foods she keeps in her pantry. I highly recommend that you check it out.
Angela also provides a great deal of other information regarding veganism, and she also includes her own personal experiences and stories about diet, fitness, and overall happiness throughout her website. Having risen above an eating disorder that she struggled with for much of her life, her blog truly is a celebration of health, happiness, and vegan food! See her website at

Almost Raw Vegan

Almost Raw Vegan is Catherine Droessler's website/blog in which she discusses vegan food (all her food is vegan, but not all of it is raw, hence the title "Almost Raw Vegan"). She provides lots of recipes and information on veganism and the raw foods diet. It's a pretty cool website to explore. Raw diets don't work for everyone, but going "almost raw" certainly helped her recover her health, and raw foods are definitely healthy! Her website is

See you next week, and remember to do the poll on the right hand side of my blog soon!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Why Vegans Sometimes Crave Meat (and what to do about it)

Picture this: You're walking down a street filled with shops, restaurants, and trendy-looking people. There are a few people eating hot dogs at a pub across the street. You see yourself as a mindful, compassionate vegan. You would never have a craving for meat-- you've lost your taste for animal flesh ages ago. You think it's sad and wrong that many people still eat meat at all.
Then you walk past a fancy restaurant with the smell of cooking meat wafting through it's doors... and you falter.
For a moment you wonder what the smell is, and why you are slowing down to savour it. Then-- to your disgust-- you realize it's meat. And then-- to your horror-- you realize that the fact that it's meat doesn't stop you from craving it all the more.
What is a vegan to do in such a situation? And why does this happen in the first place?
If you've been a vegan for a while, you probably will be disgusted by the smell of meat and the sight of people eating it. However, if one day you notice you're craving it, this could occur for a number of reasons:
  1. The meat is disguised as something tasty to humans. While most humans would hate the taste of real, raw animal flesh, most meat on the market has been processed and cooked to the extent that it doesn't even resemble meat anymore. It usually doesn't smell like meat-- a lot of the flavours are added in. It is still meat, of course, and you shouldn't eat it (remember all I've talked about animal suffering?). But your brain might be having a difficult time making the connection between the processed slab of "food" and the actual animal. Try to surround yourself with delicious vegan foods, such as umami-rich foods, to counter this. (Umami, meaning "deliciousness" in Japanese, is a taste (caused by the amino acid glutamate) that is usually present in animal products, but is also present in some plants as well. Some vegan foods high in umami include ripe tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, ketchup, dried sea vegetables, marmite, nutritional yeast, mushrooms, olives, balsamic vinegar, dried mushrooms, umeboshi plums, umeboshi vinegar, MSG, and sauerkraut. Fermented foods, such as wine, beer, tamari, and miso are also high in umami. By roasting, caramelizing, browning and grilling your food, you're also increasing umami content. Using umami in your cooking is especially important if you have non-vegan company over and you want to subtly convince them to go vegan.)
  2. If you feel sick, maybe your nutrient levels are messed up. If you subsist off mostly salads and junk foods, you won't be healthy. You might be lacking in vitamin B12, iron, or another nutrient, or maybe you're not getting enough protein or omega-3 fatty acids. However, if you eat a varied, well-balanced diet and you take vitamin-B12-fortified foods, this may not be the problem. After all, staying healthy on a vegan diet isn't that hard, as long as you know what you're doing. Still, get a blood test or see a nutritionist or naturopath if you are concerned. You can go to for lots of excellent information on vegan health, or you can read Becoming Vegan or Vegan for Life (see my previous post for details).
  3. Perhaps you're so scared that you'll get a craving for meat that you start imagining that you're craving it. You never know.
  4. You might be eating an unsuitable diet currently-- but this can be fixed, and you don't have to stop being vegan. Experiment with different kinds of vegan meal plans (like eating more raw foods or more cooked foods, more protein, less refined foods, etc.) and see which one works for you. Keep in mind that I do believe that it is possible to be a healthy vegan!
  5. It might just be a coincidence if it happens once or twice. If this is the case, don't worry about it. It probably won't happen very often!
Don't stop veganin'! Hold on to that (animal-rights-y) feeling!
See you next week!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Best Books for Vegans

If you are a vegan or are considering becoming one, sometimes having a book or two on the subject can help immensely (it's so easy to feel lost amidst the (sometimes contradictory) stream of information provided on the Internet, however useful it may be). Here are a few books that may help you out:

1) Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D., and Vesanto Melina, R.D.

I have this book at home, and it's really cool. It contains loads of information on how to get enough of various vitamins, minerals, fats, etc. It's been quite useful for me; if you're the sort of person who likes to make sure you're having a healthy diet by going in-depth about it, this book is for you!

2) The Compassionate Cook by PETA and Ingrid Newkirk

It's a cookbook! I took it out from the library and I have it with me right now as I write. It contains easy, simple, everyday recipes that make going vegan look a lot less daunting than many more complicated cookbooks. There's nothing too fancy in here: the recipe for Curried Chickpea Pita Pockets takes up one small page, and the recipe for Sweet Potato Puffs takes up one-half of a page. There's a recipe for pancakes, one for pasta salad, and one for yellow cake, as well as recipes for Simply Delicious Vegetable Fried Rice, Three Bean Pasta with Creamy Spinach Sauce, and Tofu Sweet Potato Pie. Some of the recipes are a little too plain, but many of them are great and this can be a relief for people who don't want to spend a lot of time on their diet.

3) Vegan's Daily Companion: 365 Days of Inspiration for Cooking, Eating, and Living Compassionately by Colleen Patrick Boudreau

The title of this book says it all! I haven't read it, but it looks like a good one to read-- something that would really keep you motivated, you know?

4) Vegan for Life by Jack Norris, R.D. and Virginia Messina, R.D.

This book looks similar to Becoming Vegan (see above). I have to say, I love the title of this book! It's a statement of turning theory into practice, philosophy into morality, and ideas into will power. It's an insistence that veganism can be healthy and can sustain you throughout your life. It's a declaration of morality and vitality. You should probably read either Becoming Vegan or this book, since books on nutrition can really help you understand how to eat healthily.

5) You decide! What other books do you consider great for vegans to read? Post them in the comment section below!

Keep in mind that the best places to get these books is at the library, if you can. That way, trees won't have to die to provide you with your book! (Since we're vegans, though, we're allowed to buy a few books now and then-- trees aren't animals. Still, it's best to avoid killing living things in general as much as you can.) If you can't get it at your local library, then at the very least share your book with others or pass it on to someone else when you're done with it. You can also try to find your book second-hand off
A lack of information is what stops many people from going vegan or staying vegan. Don't let that stop you or your friends and family!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Philosophy and Animal Rights-- Part III: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism

I'm currently taking a world religions course at school, so I've been learning a fair bit about how Buddhists and Jains view the concept of animal rights.
How about I "enlighten" you on this matter using quotes instead of explanation?
Vegetarian Resources Group and the Original Buddhism Society
The Vegetarian Resource Group and the Original Buddhism Society had a table together at the Veggie Pride Parade 2012. Photo Courtesy of

"In his final teachings before he physically left this earth, the Buddha foresaw that a situation would arise in the future where those speaking in his name would pervert his Doctrine and encourage meat consumption. So here, in this great Nirvana Sutra, he lays down his last will and testament on the matter: in no circumstances should one eat meat or fish "nor animal corpses, found in the jungle, for instance" nor even accept from a donor a meal which contains an abundance of flesh-foods. The very contact of other food with meat is deemed defiling and requires purification of the food by water. It is quite evident from all this that the Buddha in no way condoned the eating of meat and was keen for his monastic and lay followers to abjure the uncompassionate practice of meat eating and follow the pure path of vegetarian Mahayana. In this, we would be wise and benevolent to follow him."
Dr. Tony Page
Buddha - Self: The "Secret" Teachings of the Buddha in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Vol. 2

"The Buddha's teaching leads us to the realization that we must always strive to harm no sentient being, human or nonhuman, whether or not it is in our selfish interest to do so."
Norm Phelps
The Great Compassion: Buddhism & Animal Rights

"Veganism is simply letting compassion guide our choice of food. As such, it is a basic Buddhist practice that ought to be expected of everyone who takes refuge vows."
Norm Phelps
The Great Compassion: Buddhism & Animal Rights
[Refuge vows are the vows that Buddhists make to take refuge in the Buddha (the enlightened one), the dharma (the path), and the sangha (the religious community).]

"As a man values his life,
So do animals love theirs."
Chu-hung, Releasing Life

"Perhaps it is part of being human to question who and what we are. Unfortunately, because we rely almost exclusively on our senses, the harder we look, the more we misinterpret what we see. We believe on the one hand that we are an insignificant dot in the universe, separate from all other humans, much less the natural world. But we also believe that we are the most highly evolved organism in creation, entitled to use whatever we can grasp for our own ends.
"Buddhists have a different view of humanity. In terms of their psycho-spiritual development people stand about midway between Buddhas and amoebas. However, on an absolute level, people, Buddhas, amoebas, dogs, streams, and mountains are one and the same. Buddhism addresses the apparent disparity between what we see and what we actually are. And it does so by delving into the roots of what it means to be human."
Ven. Sunyana Graef
The Foundations of Ecology in Zen Buddhism


"Having well considered the origin of flesh-foods, and the cruelty of fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let man entirely abstain from eating flesh."
Manusmriti 5.49

"We observe November 25 worldwide as Meatless Day because of the cruelty involved. Hundreds of thousands of animals are being slaughtered every day; but they love life as much as you and I do, as much as those people do who eat them up. I believe it is injustice, because creation is one family. The breath that animals take is the same breath that we take. They are our kindred, our kin. It is the duty of man to protect his younger brothers and sisters in the one family of creation. And I believe animals should be given their rights. Today wherever I go, they talk of animal welfare. Animal welfare is not the answer -- animal rights are needed. . . Every animal has certain fundamental rights and the first right of every animal is the right to live; for you must not take away what you cannot give. And since you cannot give life to a dead creature, you have no right to take away the life of a living one. The 18th century gave rights to man, the 19th century gave rights to slaves, and the 20th century gave rights to women. The 21st century, I verily believe, will give rights to animals, and that will be a glorious day in the history of humanity. I believe there will be no peace on Earth unless we stop all killing."
Dada J. P. Vaswani, Spiritual Head of Sadhu Vaswani Mission, in an interview with Hinduism Today
Photo Courtesy of

Jainism is a religion that is centred around ahimsa, the principle of non-violence. The recognized founder of Jainism, Mahavira, was a pure vegetarian, a.k.a. vegan.

"Don't kill any living beings. Don't try to rule them."
Acaranga Sutra (one of Jainism's sacred texts)

"One who harms animals, directly or indirectly, has not understood deeds of sin...those whose minds are at peace and who are free from passions do not desire to live at the expense of others."
Acaranga Sutra

"In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and should therefore refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves."
A commonly-used Jain symbol incorporating Jain beliefs, including ahimsa. The swastika has nothing to do with Nazis, by the way. To learn what this symbol means, please go to

You don't have to be Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, or religious at all to appreciate the wisdom and philosophy of these religions. They are primarily based off the teachings of wise, spiritual individuals, after all-- can't we all benefit from that?
If you don't agree with everything that a religion preaches, that's okay. After all, religions can be interpreted in many different ways, and sometimes they disagree with each other on seemingly important facts. All the same, this is pretty interesting, and it may encourage people to think differently about animal rights!
See you next week!