I wanted to discuss my opportunity to attend the Animal Rights National Conference in Alexandria, VA this year (June 29-30). It felt so liberating and so wonderful to be surrounded by vegans. There were over 1,000 people in attendance. I was there for two days and I was fortunate to see many great speakers that are helping the animal rights movement. I wasn’t able to attend to all the lectures since there were multiple lectures at one time, but I got to see some of my favorite animal rights activists. I don’t want to go into detail about any of the activists besides that they are all doing great things, but I want to share my reactions from their lectures. I urge you to check out some of the people I mentioned online for more information.
The lecture that really is imprinted in my mind is the plenary on Saturday given by professor Gary L. Francione. His lecture was called “An Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights” (The Abolitionist Approach website can be found here) and discussed the principles of the abolitionist approach (which are listed on the website here). The driving point that I took home from Francione was “Veganism is the moral baseline.” This is something that I will promote and discuss fully with non-vegans who want to objectively talk about veganism. He discussed what the bottom line of veganism is to me (why I won’t consume eggs, honey, use leather, wool, etc): “All sentient beings are equal for the purpose of not being used exclusively as a resource.” He wanted to make it clear that “animal welfare does not work” and that he is “violently opposed to violence” (the latter receiving a chuckle from the audience). You can listen to this lecture on the website located here. Later on, Francione took part in a discussion with Bruce Friedrich titled “What About Abolition and Welfare?” – which you can watch online here. Francione has written a new ebook called Eat Like You Care and his other books include Rain Without Thunder and Introduction to Animal Rights.
Another one of my favorite animal rights activists that I was fortunate to see was Will Tuttle author of The World Peace Diet. His (and Alex Hershaft) lecture was titled “Winning Hearts and Minds.” Tuttle discussed that we should “embody veganism with compassion and love.” He talked about how to discuss with nonvegans about not eating animals and that we should agree “Yes, I know what you mean…but I began to think…” We should assure non-vegans that we know what they’re going through. We should be able to celebrate our passion through nature and relationships. He makes the bold and truthful statement of “Veganism is a revolution of love” and it has echoed through me for the past few weeks. Even though we (vegans) may find it difficult to win hearts and minds, we should find gratitude and meaning in the fact that we are making a difference. Towards the end of his talk, Tuttle says “Eating meat is not a free choice.” Think about this. How can eating meat be a choice, let alone a free one?? Let me be clear: you can NOT have a free choice without being educated and aware of what is going on. You can NOT freely choose to eat meat when you have no idea of the horror, despair, suffering that is continuing on in factory farms. I have educated myself on this and my disgust with using animals as resources means that I won’t eat so-called “humane meat.” There is no such thing as humane slaughter. This is an animal being sold for value so that others can eat him or her. The animal still has to die. That animal (victim) did NOT choose to be your meat. It’s unnecessary and immoral and no one can justify it in a logical way. This is just a very brief discussion of what I think.
I also got to listen to Elizabeth Holtz (from Alley Cat Allies) which discussed “Addressing Animal Companion Population” who talked about our nation’s “Trap, Neuter, and Return” (TNR) program which educated me because I am interested in the TNR and educating my community. I got her published paper on TNR, and would have loved to tell you more, however The Doctor (my cat) is sleeping on top of it and I’d rather not disturb him. During the same lecture, I listened to Scotlund Haisley from Animal Rescue Corps who said something that has been imprinted in my mind which is “We’re putting down animals in shelter because we are failing in society.” It’s frustrating for me to think of people buying puppies or kittens. I absolutely refuse to buy a puppy or a kitten (Both of my cats were rescued). The special needs and elderly animals need your help too! I don’t want to go into too much detail but Haisley talks about how “a cage simply does not work” and reasons why a cage sets us up for failure and why these animals are dying. My bottom line (along with many others): adopt don’t shop.
I also got to listen to Nick Cooney’s (author of Change of Heart) lecture titled “Utilizing Psychology for Social Change” and his position was one that identified with: using the scientific method to change people’s hearts. A scientific approach speaks very strongly to me and takes the more systematic approach. Cooney discusses that we should compare stories versus statistics to awaken people to veganism since “stories are more emotionally effective.” He also says that people are interested in social norms and when discussing with non-vegans we should begin to state “most people are already…” and that our appearance matters (that we should “be more like them”) to change people hearts. And instead of telling them WHY they should be vegan, we should tell them HOW they can be vegan. All really great information and Cooney’s Change of Heart is on my to-read list.
Another favorite lecture was from Jonathan Balcombe (author of The Inner Lives of Animals) gave such an enlightened talk about how animals learn, feel and communicate. It just made me feel really good being vegan and reminded me that non-human animals lives are so complex just like our own. I look forward to reading his book!
I also got to see Nathan Runkle (from Mercy for Animals) and Erica Meier’s (Compassion Over Killing) lecture titled “Advertising Our Message” which I found extremely helpful for future endeavors that I am thinking about.
In addition, I saw the charming Dr. Michael Greger (from nutritionfacts.org) who gave an interesting lecture about vegan nutrition. He made a joke about how animal brains have the highest cholesterol therefore the people with the highest cholesterol must be zombies. lolz
The last lecture I saw was titled “Challenging the Human Hoax” (which discussed the myths of “humane” animal products) given by Hope Bohanec (author of The Ultimate Betrayal) and Liquin Cao (from United Poultry Concerns). This lecture made me cry and deeply affected me. There is no such thing as human slaughter when an animal has to die for an unnecessary cause. Go vegan.
The closing plenary included Victoria Moran (author of Main Street Vegan), Will Tuttle and Colleen Holland (co-publisher of VegNews). It was really refreshing to hear them discuss how our movement (veganism) is growing and expanding outward. Moran’s theme to her talk was “We are winning.” Yes, the vegans are winning! Finally, I found vegan yogurt in my grocery store (but not plain and unsweetened! Hah!). Finally I see some vegan cheese, mayo, sour cream, and cream cheese! Moran states “I know we are winning because kale is sexy.” Yes! And Holland discussed how far VegNews, an all vegan magazine, is absolutely amazing. And of course Tuttle just made me feel better because his lectures are filled with so much compassion. He reminds you that while there is so much animal suffering going on in factory farms, there are vegans that are making a difference.
To make a difference in this world, go vegan. It will be the best thing you do for yourself, for the animals, and for the environment.
Yay! Peach season! They are so deliciously ripe and juicy sweet. I have been inspired to eat more raw foods lately - mostly because they are everywhere during the summer time. When I can find organic peaches, I go running in their direction! This recipe was inspired by FullyRaw Kristina who made a “Fully Raw Peach Cobbler” with a nectarine date sauce. The original recipe calls for a lot of ingredients and I am only one person. Plus, I really wanted to make a caramel date sauce instead.
This recipe makes enough for 2 4” tart pans or you could use a bowl. It can be made in a few minutes. You will need a food processor and a high-speed blender. You might be able to make the date sauce in a regular blender, but I have tried using a NutriBullet and the results were more of a chunky sauce. Either way, have fun and enjoy!
For the crust:
1/4 cup almonds
1/8 cup cashews (see note 1)
1/4 cup walnuts (see note 1)
5 Medjool dates, pitted
4 dried figs, destemmed
Dash of Himalayan pink salt
2 ripe peaches, sliced
For the Vanilla Caramel Date Sauce:
1/2 cup of vanilla coconut milk (I made mine fresh, see note 2)
5 Medjool dates, pitted (soaked for ~2 hours or 10-15 minutes in hot water)
1/8 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours or 10-15 minutes in hot water)
2 teaspoon raw agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (go ahead an add one more tsp of vanilla if your nondairy milk is plain)
Dash (or two) of cinnamon
Dash of Himalayan pink salt
Crust: Process the nuts in the food processor first until they are crumbly. Then add dates, figs and salt. Process until the mixture comes together.
Assembly: You will be creating layers here! Add about 2 tablespoons of the crust mixture to each of your 4” tart pans, pressing the mixture down and along the sides. Place the peach slices in a circular fashion into each tart pan (each layer was half a peach). Then add another 2 tablespoons of crust on top of the peach slices. Now, add more peach slices in a circular fashion to created another peach layer.
Here’s what the first layer of crust and peaches looked like:
Vanilla Caramel Date Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle all over the peach cobbler.
Enjoy the peachy goodness!!!
Note 1: you can use any nuts for this. I ended up using 3 types because I didn’t have enough of one type. Experiment! I think a total of 1/2 cup of nuts is good for 2 4” tart pans. Try all pecans, pecans/almonds, etc.
Note 2: To make your own coconut milk, you’ll need a high-speed blender. My recipe was 1/2 cup of young coconut meat, 2 cups of water, 10 drops of vanilla stevia, 1 teaspoon chia seeds, and a couple of dashes of cinnamon.
Vegan Neapolitan Banana Ice Cream (Vanilla, Strawberry & Chocolate) Topped with Coconut!
Mmmmm! Okay, so I have not reinvented the wheel here but what I did do is make two small cashew-based cheesecakes because I do not have the will power to keep a 9 inch cake in my house. I just don’t. Especially when chocolate is involved. Or peanut butter. I’ll eat it all.
I looked at several recipes to see how much cashews are needed to make a 9 inch cake. Most recipes use 2 cups. I wanted to make 2 cakes in a 4” tart pan (which is I estimated is about a quarter of a 9” cake) so I divided the amount of cashews by 4. Oops. Sorry for the math. I blame myself since I use to be an analytical chemist.
I have made cashew-based cheesecakes several times now, but I think I enjoyed this one the best. Maybe it was the chocolate. Yeah, probably all the chocolate. And peanut butter. Oh my. Be careful not to drool.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake
2 large servings or 4 small servings
2-3 tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds
4-5 Medjool dates, pitted
½ cup of cashews (soaked 4-6 hours)
1 ½ tablespoon coconut oil, melted
7-8 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon coconut nectar (any liquid sweetener), can be omitted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon cacao powder
Dash of salt
Water (up to ¼ cup)
Crust: In a food processor, add oats and process until it’s flour-like consistency. Add almonds until very crumbly (almost flour-like, but I have to admit I like the almond crumbs). Add dates until crust comes together. Press mixture down into a tart pan and put in the freezer until it hardens. The crust must be really firm before you put spread the cashew mixture into it so freeze for at least an hour.
Cashew mixture: Place cashews into food processor until crumbly (do not process too long). Put in coconut oil, dates, liquid sweetener, vanilla extract, cacao powder, and salt. Process so that mixture comes together. I ended up adding a tablespoon of water at a time until mixture became smooth. Spread cashew mixture over the crust. Let cheesecake harden for 2-4 hours.
* For the double boiler I used a small pot, filled it with water, placed a small heat proof bowl on top of the pot and brought the water to a low boil. For speed and less bowls, you could melt the coconut oil for each topping in the microwave.
Chocolate drizzle: In a double boiler, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil then add 1 tablespoon cacao and ½ tablespoon coconut nectar (or another liquid sweetener). I ended up adding more cacao because I like the bitterness but you should experiment with what you like.
Peanut butter drizzle: Melt 1 tablespoon of peanut butter in a double boiler ( I actually mixed in ~1 teaspoon of coconut oil so that it would harden later).
Drizzle all that yumminess over your cheesecakes. Top with cacao nibs. Enjoy the sensational chocolate peanut butter party in your mouth.
Homemade strawberry chia seed jam on a brown rice cake
The Doctor and I were watching the gorgeous cardinals eating from the new bird feeder. It only seemed fitting to be enjoying a delicious and satisfying popsicle from the strawberries I just picked.
Strawberry Lavender Popsicles
2 cups of sliced strawberries
2 tblsp of coconut nectar (or sweetener of choice; I prefer mine less sweet but you can add up to 1/4 to 1/3 cup)
~1/2 teaspoon culinary lavender (see note)
Mix strawberries and sugar and let sit for 15-25 minutes. Add strawberries and lavender to a sauce pan and heat for 5 minutes or so until the strawberries are soft. Take off heat and let mixture come to room temperature (this took ~45 minutes). Add to a blender and blend mixture until smooth. Transfer to popsicle molds and freeze at least 10 hours or overnight.
Note: I made these twice. One time with 1 tblp lavender and it was really strong. The second time with 1 tsp of lavender and I still preferred less and I really like lavender so it’s up to you. Experiment and have fun! :)
Vegan Chili Quinoa Wrap
For this chili quinoa, I did not measure anything except the 1 cup of quinoa which was about 2 servings. To the quinoa, I added:
~1/2 tsp of chili powder, ~1/16 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, few dashes of hot paprika, and a few dashes of a smokey torula yeast (instead of the yeast, you could probably use a dash of two of liquid smoke if that’s the flavor you wanted). Adjust seasonings to your taste. :)
I used the Trader Joes Whole Wheat tortilla, then put down half a mashed avocado and added the quinoa (this way the quinoa stuck to the avocado), then added roasted red pepper, raw onions, carrots & spinach.
I won’t lie these wraps are being held together by toothpicks. Hah! It’s much easier to wrap when you have a large tortillas. :)
I have recently fallen in love with cherry-chocolate combination anything. Today I felt like making a raw snack/dessert and this is what I came up with. The only thing I did measure was the almonds and cherries to make sure the ratio came out okay.
Raw Vegan Cherry Chocolate Balls
1/2 cup almonds
3/4 to 1 cup of dried pitted cherries
3 pitted Medjool dates
3 tablespoons raw almond butter
1 tablespoon raw agave
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Unsweetened dried shredded coconut (optional)
Place almonds in food processor until a meal consistency starts to form. Add pitted dates and pitted cherries and process until the almond meal and dried fruits come together. Add almond butter, agave, cacao, and cinnamon and process until everything comes together. I transferred mixture to a medium size bowl. Take ~1 tablespoon of the mixture and start to roll it between your hands to form a ball. I rolled some of mine in shredded coconut. Place balls on a small cookie sheet and freeze for 2-4 hours until firm. They are delicious!
VEGAN DONUTS! Okay, so I bought a $15 donut maker. Don’t judge me. I am sure this recipe would work if you had a donut pan and an oven. I like the donut maker because I don’t have to turn on the oven (lazy? efficient? awesome?)
I didn’t wait for the donuts to cool before putting on the glaze so don’t make that mistake. I don’t have a recipe for the glaze because I didn’t measure anything but I will try to lead you in the right direction. It’s about experimentation right? Being a vegan kitchen chemist?
Oh and did I mention these donuts are lower-in-fat!?
Vegan (lower-in-fat) Blueberry Coconut Donuts
Makes 8 mini-donuts
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or AP flour or mixture)
2 tablespoons evaporate cane juice
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons organic canola oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup of unsweetened milk (you can use coconut for the full coconut effect but I used almond milk)
1/2 flax egg (1/2 tablespoon flax meal + 1 1/2 tablespoon water)
3 tablespoons frozen blueberries, chopped
Unsweetened shredded coconut, for topping (optional)
Prepare flax egg in small bowl and set aside. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the bowl, add wet ingredients and flax egg. Fold in blueberries. Use donut maker according to directions. It took me about 6-8 minutes in mine and the donuts turned a golden color. I should have cooled them on a baking rack then added the glaze but I was impatient. Like I said, no measurements for the glaze but the ingredients were: vegan powdered sugar, almond milk, and lemon juice. I will add lemon zest next time.
To bake in the oven, I suggest heating oven to 350F and baking for ~10 minutes until golden.
More lower-in-fat vegan donut recipes to come! :)
Vegan veggie stir-fry over rice noodles with sriracha, cilantro & dulse.
Vegan Lower-in-fat Chocolate Chip Stout Cake Brownies!
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 8x8 baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 cup cacao, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt.
In a medium size bowl, mix 1 cup of packed vegan brown sugar, 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce*, 2 tblsp oil, 1/2 cup vegan stout (beer), & 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Add wet to dry, fold in 1/2-3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips, and pour batter into dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool for 20-30 mins. I cut mine after 20 mins and had no problems.
*You can sub in 1/2 cup nondairy yogurt + 1/4 cup applesauce OR 1/2 cup of blended silken tofu + 1/4 cup applesauce.
I haven’t made this recipe multiple times so I cannot speak for its consistency, but I enjoyed it as written above.
I had to make something green for St. Patty’s Day. I don’t think I have ever celebrated but it sure is fun to think of things to make green! I love pancakes on weekend mornings so here is my rendition of what some may call a Shamrock pancake. The base recipe is adapted from “Vegetarian Cooking from Everyone” by Deborah Madison. There were some really good vegan shamrock pancakes on Instagram this morning and provided that extra push…out of bed. :)
Vegan Peppermint Chocolate Chip Pancakes (makes ~12)
2 tablespoons flax meal (+ 2 tablespoon water)
1 1/2 cup nondairy milk
1 large Swiss chard leaf (washed and destemmed) or 1 cup of another green
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 1/2 cup flour (I used half whole wheat pastry and unbleached AP)
1 or 2 tablespoons sugar (see note 1)
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
2 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon of oil (see note 2)
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup of vegan chocolate chips (or more)
Combine flax and water in a small bowl and set aside. Combine milk and destemmed Swiss chard leaf in a blend until blended and liquid has turned green (you could probably add more greens if you want or use another green, like spinach). Transfer to a medium size bowl, add vinegar and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
To the nondairy milk mixture, mix together the applesauce and oil, peppermint, and flax mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix. Fold in chocolate chips (I somehow forgot to do this and ended up adding them as I was adding the batter to the griddle).
I used a griddle at ~350F and cooked each pancake about 4-6 minutes on each side until bubbly and browned. Flip and repeat. :)
Note 1: I didn’t add any sugar to the batter since I was going to be drizzling maple syrup over them.
Note 2: You can use all applesauce or all oil as opposed to the mixture.
Irish Creme Kisses from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!!!
GO VEGAN ON MARCH 20. Why go vegan for one day?
"FOR THE ANIMALS: In the United States alone, approximately 10 billion land animals are killed every year in food production. Moreover, the average American consumes roughly: 25 ½ chickens, 1/8 of a cow, 3/8 of a pig and 43 fish a year. Not only are we consuming animals at an extremely alarming and dangerous rate, we are also supporting an industry that is inherently cruel.
FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Leading scientists and organizations are now conceding that a plant based diet is the based way to end our environmental problems. In fact, the United Nations itself has endorsed the vegan diet as “vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty, and the worst impacts of climate change.”
FOR OUR HEALTH: There is no question that the United States is facing an epidemic in health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a staggering 11.8% of adults in the United States suffer from heart disease. It is the number one cause of death in the United States and is the result of nearly 600,000 deaths every year. Even more startling is the fact that more than one third of American adults are obese, often suffering from preventive conditions such as type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. According to Vandana Sheth, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, “properly planned vegan diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of many diseases.” The plant based diet has unlimited potential in positive changes to health but it’s most notable for it’s ability to lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, weight reduction, and reverse heart disease.”
This was summarized from meatout.org. You can find more information there! :)
Check out some of my vegan body products/chemicals that I use on a daily or weekly basis:
From left to right:
MOOM Spa Hair Remover: ‘Cause hey, sometimes you got unwanted hair. I know I’m not the only one. It’s organic and 100% natural. Ingredients are organic cane sugar, organic chamomile tea, organic lemon juice and organic lavender. What I love is the reusable fabric strips and the water soluble wax. It makes everything so easy!
Kiss My Face Coconut Hand Soap: this is actually my kitchen hand soap right now. It smells so nice! :)
Jason Soothing Aloe Vera Deodorant: this is the only natural deodorant that doesn’t stink-ify (my word) me up AND doesn’t give me a rash.
Cortas Rose Water: I use this to make things smell fresh. Usually me. Sometimes I spray my sheets or bedroom while the breeze is coming through. Smells wonderful. I also use it in cooking. Rose water cookies anyone?
Nourish Organic Body Wash & Body Butter (both in Wild Berries): Usually I use bar soaps but my mom (Hi Mom!) got me this fancy soap along with their body butter. It smells and works great.
Coconut Oil: Usually I add this to my hair as a leave-in conditioner, to prevent hair frizz or to my dry skin. I limit this in my baking because it contains a very high amount of saturated fats. I’m a chemist. I know my lipids.
Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay (calcium bentonite): this has been helping tremendously with my acne that came from nowhere (well, it came from somewhere, but I would really like to go back to 2012 when I didn’t have to wear makeup). I am using it everyday and I really love it. I am thinking of adding avocado as a moisturizer as post-treatment to the mask. Now if only I could find a drain protector that didn’t allow the small bits of clay to go through…
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): I was using this for my facial routine but ditched it after 3 weeks of seeing no changes. I have been using it as hair conditioner and I am loving the affects on my hair. I also mix this into my clay mask.
Sodium Bicarbonate (aka Baking soda): It’s quite a magical chemical! I have been using that to wash my face and it’s doing a better job then any soap out there. I have even been using it to wash my hair and wow! I am going to continue the baking soda/ACV for my hair. (I do have vegan shampoos and conditioners, but I am trying to save $$$).
What do you use? Favorites? Products to avoid?