Friday, December 9, 2011

The Kind Life

On September 13, 2010, I joined
It's the accompanying website to Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet. It's a great resource for flirts, vegans, or superheroes that want more information on everything vegan or environmental. She posts daily, includes deals for vegan goods and often from vegan companies. She features inspiring stories from other 'kind lifers'. The Kind Life is divided into the categories; food, health, house, style, environment, recipes, forum, about.
I loved the forums!
I really appreciated having that community to be a moral support for me while I was transitioning. My friends and family were, for the most part, pretty supportive. I mean . . . they were unsure, and a bit concerned for my health...but supportive, all the same. I also had a lot of thoughts running through my head, that I needed to talk about with other people that had similar thoughts. I should clarify (I just read that last sentence, and it sounds rather cryptic), I just started to think about everything I'd never bothered, and was encouraged not, to think about. It got pretty heavy.
On her website, other people had thought about the same things that I had started to think about. We weren't all in the same place yet, in terms of our veganism, but it was really beneficial to have all of those viewpoints to bounce ideas around with.
I will also say that I often hear other forums that have problems with terrible disagreements and arguments, but everyone I had experience with at was quite pleasant and very helpful. Not a heck of a lot of 'in-fighting'.  
It has posts on how to cook unfamiliar foods, which packaged convenience vegan food is best, and available where, and even what to take on trips! I loved having this online community available to me! It was nice to interact others with a similar worldview. It made me feel not as crazy for not wanting to participate in the violence inherent in the animal exploitation industries.

I don't log in to often anymore. I am much more confident as a vegan, I don't feel as crazy or nearly as alone as I once did.
I only knew one other vegan at that time, but I am finding more and more vegans in Regina, Saskatchewan. Which is very exciting! I recently heard a stat, that vegans now make up 2.5% of the American population, that's a 150% increase from last year!!! What's especially exciting, is that big changes don't require huge amounts of people caring about an issue! I think the number was around 12% . . .so less than 10% more people!
I really, truly believe that we can change the world. Maybe not every body's world, but some body's world!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Honey-What's the buzz?

When I first went vegan in the fall of 2010, I didn't consider insects a part of my circle of compassion.
Why should, or would I?! Bugs are annoying, at best! When asked by my fellow belly dancers, how I felt about honey, I wasn't sure what to say. I didn't know much about bees or how the honey was collected. I think I said I was fine with honey.
Then I read a few articles and vegan books that talked about the problems with keeping bees.
Course, I can't recall where I read what!<eye roll>
But, I have learned, and since grown. As I'm sure I'll continue to grow as I learn more! Ahh living.
Fuck, I love living!
As I was saying(I get side-tracked), I did learn that bees have central nervous systems. They can feel!

I do remember, quite distinctly, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, I had somehow captured 3 or 4 bees in a glass mason jar. I was delighted!
I also knew that I had to let them out, or they would die. I was too afraid of the bees stinging me to let them out. They died. It was a tough day for me. I remember this event, twenty-odd years later!
Never did that again! Boy howdy!

Bees can and do, inevitably, also get injured or killed when their honey is collected.  The queen bee is also 'replaced' (killed) every 2 years.
I learned that bees are in the phylum Arthropoda-the same as lobsters and crabs! While, it may be true that lobsters and crabs are insects of the sea, lobsters and crabs can also feel. In fact, Whole Foods decided they would no longer carry lobsters because keeping them in captivity is too inhumane! It is tempting to say that I shouldn't be following the ethics of a corporation and, fair enough! But at the same time, if a multi-million dollar corporation has a problem with keeping live lobsters, shouldn't that tell us something?!
Another great thought on honey, is that honey is bee vomit.(Gary Yourofsky was the first person I heard that called honey 'bee vomit'.)
There are many different plant-based liquid sweeteners out there: agave nectar, brown rice syrup, and maple syrup to name the ones I can say off the top of my head. And I have a severe brain injury! See-you can learn this stuff! Easy. I did!
I have changed my position when it comes to bees, honey, and beeswax. I purposely avoid it. It still wrinkles my brain that bees can feel! I buy different crackers now. Instead of the honey graham crackers, I buy amaranth graham crackers. I no longer purchase goods with beeswax.
I do still use my old vitamin E cream, that has beeswax. I bought it prior to becoming vegan. Namely for my tracheotomy scar. Today I get professional photos taken for my vehicle insurance to assess how much money I get for my scarring. It's been two years. Craziness!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This is my sponsored goat, ZuZu. He's at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. His mother, Lizzy, was rescued from a severe state of neglect. Born at Farm Sanctuary with his brother, Otto, this little family will never be neglected again! 

Troy sponsored him for me last Christmas. We have a little house, and with the big changes from season to season, we have a lot of 'seasonal' gear and tools and such! I'm finding we don't need a lot, so if you must get me something...sponsor an animal for me!
We were hoping we would have a chance to meet him when we visit our friends that live in New Jersey. 
We decided that my brain couldn't handle all of the people.
I would spend the entire trip sleeping. (Remember, people make me exhausted!) 
I get instantly overwhelmed!

This is one of the paintings I worked on while at SARBI
(Saskatchewan Association for the Rehabilitation for the Brain Injured) on Thursday afternoons with other brain injured folks.
I think I may try this painting again. . . look how small I made his head!
I like painting animals and bringing vegan baking with the recipe to SARBI.
I was worried that I wouldn't be able to mix colours properly. I seem to be doing fine in that department. My judgement of space and size is a bit off, though. <sigh>

This Christmas, we are sponsoring a pig! This time at the California shelter! I think Troy would love to ride(motorcycle) down to meet him/her! I think I'm in! Here's hoping I can do it!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Defensive Omnivore Bingo

This was posted on my Facebook group, Queen City Vegan. I find it really funny!
I have heard them from other people! Especially because I know I've used some of these 'defenses'!

Does a line across, and a line down win? I'm so close to getting a blackout!

Memory & Notes

It was only a year and a half ago, when I couldn't remember what happened only moments prior. I had to be told each day why I was at the hospital, tied to a bed, with all sorts of tubes coming out of my body. Troy and my parents kept track of where I needed to be and when for my various therapies.
Once my printing/handwriting had improved to a point where it was legible, my mom gave me a notebook to keep in my bag, to write everything I needed to write. Which turned out to be everything!

I used my agenda as well for booked appointments, and scheduled events. I was already used to using an agenda from my university experience and sometimes working two different jobs while taking classes.
That's, essentially, what I was doing when we crashed. Entirely too much!
I was working full time at Great West Life, in their call centre for group health and dental insurance. I worked at Metro Pet Market part time. I performed with a belly dance performance group, eXalta6, that included weekly meetings and rehearsals, as well as costume-making. I was also taking a holistic pet nutrition course. It sounds crazy to me now!! Apparently I needed a coma to slow me down!

I was also a big fan of making lists prior to the brain injury. Just to feel the satisfaction of crossing an item off my list when completed. <sigh> So good.
I have a weekly calendar on my fridge, and a list of daily 'events', like eating breakfast or lunch. Yes, I do forget! Embarrassingly often!!
I kept a fairly large 'purse' on me because the brain injury required that I keep a lot of different information on me. Not only was I trying to memorize the details of my brain injury to relay to whomever was asking, I was also trying to memorize details regarding veganism to talk about it with the medical professionals I saw often.
I have lots of records of my injury and recovery. Lots!
My handwriting on December 14, 2009
(my mom wrote the date)

Now, that I have one, I use my iPhone all the time! How did people with brain injuries deal before technology?!
The notes section has been extremely helpful, the calendar is great, and I use the alarm to set everything!
Awake, nap time, eat, work out, feed dogs and cat, I can set anything!
The alarm is also perfect for setting timers for the oven and stove, especially when I walk out of the room. I often forget that anything is actually happening in the other room...Plus, I save lots of paper!

My memory IS improving!
I don't have to keep near the number of notes that I once did! I have remembered that my neuro-psych assessment is on December 12 and 13th, for longer than ever!
Well, it could be argued that December 12th means a lot to me and my family. That was the day my older sister died of kidney cancer. That was also the day I started to come out of the coma. And it's my 1 year and 3 month veganniversary!
Either way! I am remembering!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Summer of Transition

Sausage Party
The summer of 2010 was spent acquiring my new food habits, getting rid of the terrible food and becoming familiar with what my brain was capable of, at that time.
We had a lot of animal meat and secretions in our home. We had the remaining bits of half a cow we bought from Troy's uncles.
"Half a cow" sounds horrifying to me now!
Plus lots of sausages and hot dogs, and even some moose! We ate up(or rather, Troy did) most of the meat that was in our freezer. The rest we gave to Troy's parents to use. I wanted to use our freezer space for frozen veggies or fruit or baking, etc.
Troy and I decided to have a sausage party with friends to use the sausages in the freezer! We used all of our eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, and ice cream. We  made the moose's ground meat into burgers using ground flax seed, rather than egg. We had already used all our eggs up, and like hell, I was ever buying them again! I will say that moose's meat is probably the best animal meat I've ever had! In the fall of 2010, I was okay with hunting. My thought was: the animals are free, then the hunters kill them. And that's that. I had a bigger problem with factory farming. At least the moose aren't in factory farms! I never considered animals 'walking' away with injuries. I just assumed, once hit, the animal dies. Often, that is not the case! Left to languish for days, till they die, or somebody else(another human or non-human) kills them. Either way, not a pleasant experience!
I have since changed my stance on hunting. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau helped me see things differently. On her podcast, Vegetarian Food For Thought, in a specific episode, How To Talk To Hunters(or anyone with whom you disagree), she talks about those hunted animals and their families. I never thought about non-human animals having families in the wild...but why wouldn't they have families?! I always just thought of wild animals as loners. Even if they live in large groups. I don't know why I thought these conditioning? Maybe it's something I had to believe to deal with friends and family hunting every weekend?
Now, when I look into the wilderness, I can't help but think of those hunted animals and their families!
That summer was also my sister's vow renewal(July 23), and I remember(!!) at the end of the night, Troy and I, along with our camping/hiking/canoeing/snowboarding-trip adventure friends, Shannon and Scott took a meat and cheese platter back to our house and we all ate it.
I think that was the last time I ate processed animal's meat. Which, has turned out to be a really smart and good thing! The American Institute for Cancer Research and The World Cancer Research Fund say that bacon and other processed meats clearly cause colorectal cancer. They should never be eaten and never given to children.
I see people approaching diets and dieting kind of wrong. They don't replace what they once ate, with something better.
Eggs was surprisingly easy. Fortunately there are numerous ways to replace eggs when baking. The Joy of Vegan Baking gets into how replace eggs, milk, buttermilk and butter with plant food! But there are many websites that give you information on this. Just Google 'vegan baking replacing eggs'. It's pretty easy.
Troy never cared for eating chicken's eggs. I did. I liked egg salad, eggs scrambled, in omelets, sunnyside-up, hard-boiled. I wasn't fussy! Thankfully, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau does have recipes for 'egg' salad and scrambled 'eggs', both in The Vegan Table and in The 30-Day Vegan Challenge!
My favourite was taking an egg(sunnyside-up) and putting it on buttered toast, eating all around the yolk, then stuffing the entire yolk, with the little piece of toast left, in my mouth! It was messy, and tasted good. I haven't found a vegan version, but I've also not looked because I haven't had a craving for it.
I did have a vegan omelet when my friend, Holly and I flew to Edmonton to see Ani Difranco(we love her!) in the summer of 2011! Holly was is so gracious and nice! We went to restaurants we knew were vegan-friendly(thank you iPhone!), and it was so good! We went to Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant, all vegan, so good! I'll save that trip for another post!
Milk was a simple solution. There are a lot of plant milks out there! Soy, almond, rice, coconut, hazelnut, hemp, peanut, oat, cashew, etc. I know there's more! We really like almond milk. Rice milk is also good, but not ideal for baking(little too watery), and coconut milk is perfect for making thick fruit smoothies or curries. Those are the milks I have tried. They also differ brand to brand.
Non-dairy ice creams are fantastic! We make a lot of our own almond milk ice cream, using our KitchenAid!
Store-bought, non-dairy ice creams(especially made with coconut milk!) are a ridiculously rich and delicious treat!