Saturday, July 26, 2014

Coming out: I am vegan



I know, you're not surprised. After all, it's in the title of my blog.

I have been vegan for 18 years and am still surprised by the reaction I get. Most notably, that people have to make a point to tell me how delicious their non-vegan meal is, how much they love meat or how they could never go vegan.

Before I proceed, please remember that I believe that everyone is on their own path. I always try to be there to support folks wanting to become vegan or even give it a try, but I am not standing in judgement to anyone who is not vegan.

I didn't become vegan because I didn't like animal meat or dairy cheese or dairy milk. I didn't become vegan to lose weight or try to be healthier.

I became vegan because I want to do the least harm possible while on this earth and did not want any living being to suffer to become my meal. Since then, I have stayed vegan because I decided that I do not have the right to take the life of another living being, whether I actually kill the animal or pay someone else to do so. I have also been able to enjoy the health benefits, of which there are many, of being vegan.

It's definitely a path for me. I learn new things about veganism, animal rights, animal welfare, health, nutrition and fitness practically every day. I pay more attention to what I eat. My body tells me when I am not eating enough of something or too much of something else.

My struggle is always with sugar. Since coming back from vacation a couple of weeks ago I decided (again) to cut sugar as much as possible. I've only had two desserts since and hope to keep limiting my sugar.

I love so many vegetables that I had never really tried before becoming vegan: kale, Swiss chard, dates, collard greens and well over a dozen types of peppers. My food intake is more diverse than any animal meat eater I know.

It is certainly not difficult to be vegan. One makes a decision that they do not want to be part of the inevitable torture, cruelty and fear that animals go through to become food and the culinary adventure begins.

I have some links on the main page of our blog site that can be helpful to folks new to veganism. Nutrition and fitness are very important in my vegan life.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Still don't want to vote?

I was reading a friend's Facebook comments recently about a man running for the state house in Michigan who removed her comments and blocked her from his Facebook page after she posted that she would not be voting for him. My first thought was "typical", and then I started really thinking about it.

This guy, who I also would not vote for if I still lived back in my hometown, could easily win. He may not support women, he may not support public schools, he may not support equality for gays and lesbians. He could support corporate and agricultural welfare, he could support allowing anyone to buy any type of gun from anyone else and he could support a myriad of other things that I might disagree with.

And he is just like someone running for political office where you live.

He is almost assured a victory.

Unless you vote.

There is a huge us vs. them battle going on these days. This is perpetuated by those in political power and those who want political power. And it's not just one party, it's members of both parties.

In many activist communities I have met people who do not vote. Amazing activists, incredibly passionate people. Yet they don't vote.

In November, there will be elections all over the country. New congressmen will be elected or re-elected, members of state houses will be elected, new school board members, etc. Whoever wins will represent you at the US Capitol, your state capitol and your county school board.

I write a lot about being a voice for the voiceless. This is another one of those opportunities. Check out the candidates in your area. Find out where they stand on issues important to you. Call them or email them. Even if you are in a supposed district where the winner is already known.

We have the power.

Vote.

Vote for the animals. Vote for equal rights. Vote to support equality for women. Vote to support nine year olds who are refugees on our border. Vote to speak out loudly for the voiceless.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Have you heard of Kate Kelly?

Until last month, Kate Kelly was a Mormon.

I just started learning about Kate Kelly when we were recently in Salt Lake City.  Mrs. Kelly is the founder of Ordain Women, a group of Mormon women seeking equality and priesthood.

In June she was excommunicated from the Mormon Church, a church led by men. Only men.

This post is not an anti-Mormon post. It is a post to let our readers know about this atrocity, an atrocity that is common in many religions where only men have real power.

I do not know Kate Kelly, yet she seems to be a woman of devout faith, devoted to her church, to Jesus and to God.

As far as I can tell, the only problem is that she thinks women should be able to be priests in the Mormon church, that they should be equal to the men of the church. Imagine that.

We live in the United States of America. Doesn't that mean that women can freely express their opinions when it comes to religion?

Hardly.

I am not Mormon. I do not know much about the Mormon church. The most I know about the Mormon church I learned during the Prop 8 vote in California, when the Mormon church poured millions of dollars into the campaign that would make gay marriage illegal.

The Mormon church can do whatever they want to their members.

Excommunication seems a bit harsh. Their spokeswoman (women can be spokespeople in the Mormon church) said that there are right ways to disagree with the church and that there are wrong ways.

I haven't read the official verdict from the church, the one that made the excommunication of Mrs. Kelly official.

What is said in it doesn't matter to me. I disagree with what they have done to Kate Kelly.

I think Kate Kelly is incredibly courageous. And faithful.

I imagine that those men in power at the Mormon church are frightened of people like Kate Kelly. Just as they are frightened of so many in their churches getting disgusted with the way the church has treated gays.

If you would like more information on Ordain Women, click here: http://ordainwomen.org/

Thanks for reading.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Restaurant review - Gracias Madre


Los Angeles is one of our go-to places for vegan cuisine. Since we go to San Diego often, we have gotten used to going to Los Angeles before or after a trip to San Diego. This summer is no different. The difference this trip has been being able to check out new places, new to us at least.

Meet Gracias Madre. "Our menu is vegan and 100% organic. Our mission is to celebrate and serve the presence of the mother which resides above us, within our hearts, within the earth, and in all those who nurture us. We serve cuisine inspired by the kitchens of Mexico sourced from locally organic ingredients. Welcome to a seat at love's table."

This is how you are greeted at Gracias Madre. Well actually, you are first welcomed by a smiling host and when you are seated you get a menu with the warm welcome quoted above.

Soon our server arrived and offered us drinks. Mike loves the smokey margarita. I tried one of the fresh pressed juices and also the horchata. Both were delicious. If you like beer, wine and/or tequila you have plenty of options.

Order a drink and also order the cauliflower starter. Don't even think about it, just order it. You will love us for this recommendation. We loved this creative appetizer and it was a wonderful way to start our dining experience.



For dinner, I ordered El Plato and Mike ordered Flautas de Comote. The second night I ordered the Enchiladas con Mole and Mike ordered the flautas again. Mike loved the flautas. Similar to a taquito and filled with sweet potatoes and carmelized onions, the flautas wil make you very happy. I enjoyed both my dishes, loving the mole but thinking the enchiladas were too filling, yet delicious.



While eating our meals we felt relaxed and very comfortable on the patio. Gracias Madre is gorgeous, and both times we were seated on the patio and that added to our already perfect experience.

Before we knew it we had finished our meals and it was time for desert. One word: flan. Yes, vegan flan. I ordered this both nights. The first night the flan was so creamy I couldn't believe it. The second night it was a little gritty but still delicious. Mike ordered the fudge brownie and finished it with a smile, loving the salted mezcal caramel and the orange coconut whipped cream.



The fire is going in the fireplace that is centered on the patio. It's darker out and the patio lights are on. It is just so beautiful and relaxing. Again, the perfect environment.

As we have been telling friends since our first night at Gracias Madre, we had one of the best dining experiences ever. Ever.

A few additional bits of information: We parked a few blocks away but there is valet parking. Make a reservation. Ask to be seated on the patio. I know the restaurant might not like this but the ambiance on the patio is simply the best.

Gracias Madre is perfect for a date night (like the two times we were there) or for a night out with friends. You might even make new friends there as we did.

I also want to say that on our second visit we had the HUGE pleasure of meeting Executive Chef Chanda Gilbert! She is amazing, and it was perfect to meet the woman whose dream came true with the opening of Gracias Madre.

Finally, and I just now thought of this, Gracias Madre is all vegan and it is packed! I know, this is Los Angeles, but still!

Thanks for reading!