Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thanks for an amazing year from The Gay Vegans!

I first came up with the idea of this blog as we were heading to Florida to visit Mike's mom and posted about it on my fundraising blog. Fundraising is my profession and I've been blogging about it for years. I then decided that I wanted to keep that blog specific to fundraising, and since I refer to Mike and I as The Gay Vegans a lot, decided to create The Gay Vegans blog.

I had no clue.

I had no clue that we would meet so many wonderful, compassionate, loving people because of this blog.

I had no clue that we would be able to promote Meatless Mondays and support over 1500 people in going meatless for one day, many of whom have continued going meatless one day or more a week. A couple have since gone vegan!

I had no clue that we would be able to build bridges between vegans unfriendly towards gay people and gay people unfriendly towards vegans.

I had no clue that there were so many other gay vegans!

Although I did know there were a ton of activists all over working to be a voice for the voiceless, I didn't realize how much love there is out there. We as activists have to support each other. Together we are a much stronger voice for the voiceless.

This list could go on and on. What I want to say is thank you to all of you. Thanks for reading our blog. Thanks for taking action. Thanks for spreading our Meatless Monday messages. Thanks for asking friends and relatives to donate to an animal group or HIV/AIDS group rather than buying you a gift. Thanks for the reposts and retweets. Thanks for speaking out against cruelty, torture, and intolerance. As I write many times, thanks for being a voice for the voiceless. All of the voiceless.

Your support means the world to us!

We are beyond grateful.

And we look forward to 2012 with all of you!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A step towards veganism in 2012

As all of our readers know, Mike and I are vegan. We are both vegan because of animal issues, in that we just do not want to be a part of how horribly animals are treated to become food. And since we abhor violence, we certainly don't want to pay someone else to inflict violence against animals so we can eat. The benefit of this for the animals is clear, and the benefit for us is that we get to go crazy with amazing food choices as well as just being healthier.

We get a lot of questions about being vegan, not so much as to why we're vegan but how one can start the process of being vegan. So here are some thoughts about steps one can take if considering veganism.

Try a Meatless Monday. This is pretty simple and has become a world-wide event. Just don't eat meat on a Monday. If you want to go a bit further, go meatless every Monday!

Go to your library and check out a vegan cookbook. There are literally hundreds to choose from. The second part of this action is to actually prepare a meal from the cookbook!

Look for a meetup in your area. There are hundreds of vegetarian and vegan meetups all over the place. Some are potlucks and some are at a restaurant. If you are really interested in trying vegan food and cannot find such a group, start one. We have done vegan brunches where most of the folks who attend are not vegan yet everyone brings a vegan brunch item (you can check out our blog post about this). The food is always delicious and people who are not vegan realize how wonderful vegan choices are.

Check out a local Asian Bistro or Chinese restaurant and ask them to make you their best tofu dish. You might get really surprised!

Switch our your mayonnaise for a vegan version. Our favorite is Veganaise. I can eat it by the spoonful!

Read some vegan blogs. We have several linked from our blog. They are great learning sources and definitely empower you.

These ideas are just a start. Veganism is an incredible way of life and if this is your first attempt to try veganism you'll be blown away by the amazing food choices you'll have as well as all of the incredible flavors and textures that await you.

Let us know if we can help!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Men we love!

We were thrilled to be able to share our list of women we love, and even more thrilled that so many people read the post and told us who the women are that they love!

So now I thought we should share a list of the men we love! Just like the list of women we love, some of these we know and some we don't. We love them for the amazingness that they bring to this world. Not listed are our male family members we love so much, and those in our close-knit family of choice. They get our love every day!

Bruce Friedrich. A true voice for the voiceless, all of the voiceless. I have been honored to know Bruce for about 15 years and I feel like I am a better person because of that. Bruce is filled with love for all living beings and spends pretty much every waking moment working to make the world a safer, more just place for all.

William Carupia Cuñapa. President of the Indigenous Organization of Antioquia, (Organización Indígena de Antioquia (OIA) an organization representing Indigenous communities in the north-western department of Antioquia, Colombia. No matter how many threats he receives in his work towards justice for Colombia's Indigenous communities, he simply keeps going.

Christopher Murphy. A day doesn't go by when Christopher is not posting a photo of a beautiful dog or two that he is transporting somewhere around central Florida. He is a man of action and a vegan hero to us!

Jon Camp. Jon Camp is another huge voice for the voiceless. As a part of the Vegan Outreach team, he goes to pretty much every corner of the country supporting local activists and passing out vegan literature. His tireless efforts mean that every day more and more people get the information they need to consider going vegan.

Matthew Paul Turner. One of my favorite authors. One of my most memorable reads was with one of his books, writing about chatting with a gay guy in his church and welcoming him (the guy had been kicked out of his church). I was in tears reading that. Both Mike and I have had tough times with people who use Jesus to demonize us as gay men and Matthew gives me hope for a future with less hate and less violence towards LGBT people.

Brad Palmertree. Imagine being openly gay in the south. Not in a major, gay-friendly city, but in a small city in Tennessee. Then imagine being a voice for gay youth. An out, open voice. Brad is hugely courageous and I am lucky to know him. He is a huge advocate for justice, a loud voice for safe schools for LGBTQ kids, and as young as he is I think he's just getting started.

Anonymous Syrian Activist. Another 200+ people were killed in Syria this week. I am connected to activists in and out of Syria who blog, tweet, and YouTube what is going on there. I have blogged about the massacre of activists and protesters, a massacre that seems to continue every day. One in particular I follow who does not use his real names. I am always thinking of him with love, this totally courageous person.

Believe it or not, having now written about women and men we love, I realize that there are just so many. We are so incredibly grateful to know people like this, or in some cases to simply know of them.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Women we love!

Yes, The Gay Vegans love women!

This is the time of lists: Top 10 of this or that, the best of this, etc. We wanted to be a part of that!

We are SO lucky to be loved, supported, and strengthened by the amazing women in our lives. These are some we know and some we don't. All are women we love, respect, and are so grateful for.

Before I begin it's important to say that we totally love our moms and the women in our lives who are party of our close-knit, local group of friends.

Here we go!

Tawakkul Karman. Haven't heard of her? Well, she is 32, a journalist, from Yemen, and just was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace! Her bravery compels me to be a better person. When she speaks out, she never knows what type of brutality will come her way.

Alka Chanda. Alka is a total love. Mike and I love her with all of our hearts! She is the person we strive to be. And she is a huge voice for the voiceless, especially animals in labs! She is a big part of what makes this world such an amazing place.

Julie Gonzalez is a rock-n-roll activist in Denver who works for Colorado Immigrant Rights. And that is an understatement. She rocks it and is a huge inspiration! Julie never seems to stop in her fight for justice for all.

Suburban Snow White. When we started The Gay Vegans blog, she was so supportive and continues to be a huge supporter. Plus we love her blog. Like ours, her blog is not just about food. Check it out!

Wanda James. Another amazing activist right in our backyard. Wanda and her husband own a fabulous restaurant in Denver as well as a medical marijuana clinic. She is a huge, thoughtful voice against the crazy policies around marijuana as well as many other topics. I totally admire her and her constant efforts towards justice.

Shaima Jastaina. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. Shaima didn't have a driver and needed to get her children to school. She is one of many Saudi women who defied the ban, and received a sentence of 10 lashes for doing so. She continues to speak out against this law.

Aung San Suu Kyi. Lifelong human rights activist in Burma (Myanmar) who is finally free and running for office. She has been in jail or house arrest more often than not, yet she continues to speak out for freedom and justice.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. One of the most amazing vegan/pro-animal speakers we have ever heard an an incredibly strong voice for the voiceless. Whether it is one of her pod casts or one of her mouth-watering recipes from a wide selection of vegan cookbooks, Colleen has changed our world and how many people look at animals.

Mary Cahalane. Mary is one of my fundraising heroines! Her support and kindness has been incredible, and so helpful. Non-profit fundraisers totally change our world and Mary is one of my favorites. Did I also mention that she's a mom? Love her!

We would love to hear about the women YOU love!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My favorite foods Part II

In trying to keep the last blog post from going out of control, I decided to break up our favorite foods into two posts. Remember, these are not in order, just foods that we love!

Daiya cheese. A staple in our fridge. I have heard some people don't like it at all but we love it. Great for a quick quesadilla, to add in a tofu scramble, and of course for Mike's famous vegan enchiladas.

Eat Pastry cookie dough. Vegan cookie dough in your fridge, to use whenever you wish. You can bake three cookies or up to 16 with one of the containers. Chocolate Chunk is our favorite. We love to bake by scratch yet we don't always have time. Plus, although we haven't met them yet, we love everything we have learned about the couple who started this company.

Brazil Nuts. New to us. We just started eating these this year. Delish and nutritious!

Brussels Sprouts. One of Mike's all-time favorite foods and I love them too! So many ways to cook them, I love them roasted.

Kale Chips. Expensive but an awesome snack. Mike loves the nacho Rhythm ones.

Apples. One of Mike's all-time favorite foods for sure. So many kinds to choose from, and here in Colorado we have so many kinds to choose from.

We hope all of you have the chance to try some of the foods and products we have listed in these two posts. We would also love to hear about your favorite vegan foods!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My favorite foods! Part I

After writing about animal torture, Syrian protesters being massacred, and bigotry towards Muslims, I needed a break from heartbreaking stories.

I'm sure all of you realized a long time ago that our blog is not a food blog. There are plenty of vegan food blogs out there, some of our favorites linked from our site.

We love food. Being vegan means having so many more food opportunities, choices, flavors, textures than I could ever have imagined.

I love to eat. And I have a sweet tooth. So keep all of this in mind before you read my list. Some of my favorite food items are good for you, most are just good for making me grin and feel good inside. My list includes actual food as well as food items that have a brand.

So here we go!

My favorite meal is blackened tofu with mashed potatoes. This comes from the days when I used to eat at WaterCourse Foods. Now I make it at home and love it. Add any steamed or sauteed veggie to make it a bit healthier.

My husbands vegan cinnamon rolls. I blogged the recipe a few months ago if you're interested.

Kale. I know, it's all the rage. But I really love it, especially fresh from our garden. Chop up some kale, throw it in a cast iron skillet, add olive oil, cayenne pepper, and YUM!

Wayfare Foods "We can't say it's cheese" Hickory Cheddar cheese spread. This is a common snack in the Hanley-Nelson kitchen. This on crackers and Mmmmmmm!

Patty's Pantry Mango Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. I found this at Mike's high school's annual holiday market a few years ago and buy a bunch of it every year. All I can say is "oh my!". She sells it online so you can buy it from anywhere! I love it with a little bit (OK, more than a little bit) of Earth Balance on toast. Add it to vegan cream cheese for an awesome dip. Oh yeah!

Blueberries. This is a healthy favorite. On cereal or in a smoothie. The taste is great and your body will really appreciate it.

Mighty-O donuts from Whole Foods, the Vegan Old Fashioned kind. We don't live in Seattle so the next best thing is going to WF and picking up one or four donuts. Addictive is probably an understatement.

Amy's vegan mac-n-cheese. Need i say anything else?

I think this is a good start, enough to get you salivating. More to come in the next post!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lowe's and Muslims

We don't have cable, so I haven't seen this new show on TLC that is about Muslim families living in America (in Dearborn, MI). I would have never heard of it had I not read about Lowe's pulling their advertising for the show, some say because a religious right group in Florida complained about the advertising. Lowe's says they make decisions on advertising based on many things, not just the opinion of one group.

You might be thinking, why the heck do a couple of gay, vegan guys care about Muslims and Lowe's?

The Florida Family Association is the group that complained to Lowe's about the advertising. Hugely anti-gay, they certainly have a problem with Mike and I being married, amongst other things. These folks are popular for fighting "Gay Days" at Disney World and speaking out against anything that might even be close to being friendly towards the LGBTQ community.

I realize that Mike and I would not be warmly welcomed in many Muslim nations, and that I have spent a lot of time working to put a spotlight on people in these nations being executed for even being perceived to be gay.

Nonetheless, I don't know that these families in Dearborn wouldn't invite us to dinner, and I do know that I have had it with the spiritual genocide against gay people from religious fanatics, wherever they may live and whatever religion they might practice.

This puts a bad taste in my mouth regarding Lowe's. Perhaps they didn't make the decision solely based on what the FFA said, but from what I have read they haven't denounced what the FFA said either. And what is FFA's real complaint? Well, that the show on TLC doesn't expose Muslim people as Sharia law lovers whose only goal in life is to spread Islam. And that the show is just propaganda. The families couldn't possibly just want to live in peace, practice their religion, help their kids get a good education, and catch a football game when they can.

I would love your thoughts and feedback on this!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Voices for the Voiceless

In the past week I have seen two videos posted that make me incredibly sad and incredibly angry at the same time.

I decided not to post them.

One is of a dog being skinned alive for her fur.

The other is of a sheep being beaten to death with a baseball bat by US service members in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Both are hugely disturbing and yet acceptable in our culture.

I know the gang mentality and still am heartbroken that not one of those service members either left or tried to get the others to stop. Gang violence pure and simple. It is thoroughly disgusting.

The dog and the sheep never had a chance. In fact, the dog is wagging her tail just before being tied to a pole to be skinned alive. The sheep has no clue as to what is happening and simply tries to get away. I can only imagine the fear and pain experienced by both of these beautiful creatures.

We must be voices for the voiceless.

Not only is this violence and torture abhorrent, just think of what type of human beings these people are.

The dog was skinned alive to provide fur trim. There is no information as to why she was skinned alive. Speaking out against fur trim is an easy action.

Being a voice for the sheep is a tougher action. One could complain to the White House and I believe with the You Tube video going viral there is a petition.

Being a voice for the voiceless is part of who Mike and I are. I believe it's part of who you are if you're a reader of our blog. It's something people like us just have to do. We have to speak out, on every level. This post is specifically about one dog and one sheep, but there are many things we can speak out against. We simply have to.

Thanks for reading. I know this was a tough one but I just had to write about it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Honoring World AIDS Day

As a gay and vegan blogger, I have noticed that whenever I blog about HIV or AIDS, fewer people read my blog. I think for many poeple, AIDS is just not on their radar screen. Nonetheless, it's World AIDS Day and I couldn't not write about this day and HIV/AIDS.

AIDS has had a huge affect on my life. It is all very personal to me. The loss from AIDS has been deep, extremely sad, and has completely altered my life.

HIV/AIDS organizations say that in the US a person becomes HIV positive every 9.5 minutes. In 2011. The numbers are crazy. Here in Colorado over 200 people became HIV positive last year, a number that has not changed much in the past several years. Even worse, the stigma against people living with HIV or AIDS is just as strong as ever.

Meanwhile, here we are at another World AIDS Day. I have the constant list of friends and dear friends in my head that bring me to tears on this day, and other days. This blog would not be complete without mentioning Felix Godinez, one of my dearest friends ever, who lost his battle with AIDS on July 6, 1992 at the age of 30. The world changed that day. I count myself tremendously lucky to have known Felix and to have loved him. I think of him almost every day. If you have ever received a hug from me, well, I learned how to really hug from Felix. To hug someone like you mean it. 42,000+ other people in the US lost their battle with AIDS that same year.

Throughout the world today there will be marches, protests, candlelight vigils, concerts, speeches, tears, memorials. In Boulder the Denver Gay Men's Chorus will sing for Boulder County AIDS Project's annual World AIDS Day Concert. The concert is one of the most emotional events I have experienced in many years. Personal stories around HIV/AIDS from chorus members mixed with incredibly beautiful music.

As a vegan, human rights activist and animal rights activist, I learned much from the AIDS movement I was part of in the late 80's through the late 90's. I learned a lot from those with Act Up and Queer Nation. Speak out. Work with fellow activists rather than against them. Stand up. Civil disobedience. Getting in front of politicians at their community meetings and confronting them on their inaction.

In memory of all of those we have lost, no matter how long ago it was that we lost them. You are missed and we will not forget you. We are better people for having shared our lives with you.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Mary Lou" - My first movie review!

Our friend Jessie invited us to see an Israeli movie titled "Mary Lou". It was in Hebrew with English subtitles, a movie about a young Israeli gay man finding his place in the world and dealing with the loss of his mother who left his family when he was younger.

Think about a gay, Israeli, "Mama Mia" and that gives you a glimpse of what you'll enjoy.

As I am always honest in my blogs, it is important to know that I am in no way a professional movie critic. And this is the first time I have promoted a movie with my blog. Yet here I am, having enjoyed a film that I want to share with all of you.

Growing up gay, coming out, dealing with family and friends, falling in love (at times with people who have no interest in being with a man), are all topics covered in "Mary Lou". And all experiences I have had in my life.

Svika Pick is an Israeli pop star form the 70's and 80's. The film centers around his music which I thoroughly enjoyed.

“Courage is sometimes no more than an outburst of great despair.” This is one of my favorite quotes from the film's lead character, Meir. He's not the greatest person as he is filled with faults. Just like me. And his character definitely changes throughout the film. I think he becomes a better person.

I would give this film a for sure two thumbs up. In my way of rating films I would also simply say to go see it if you ever have the opportunity. Even if you don't like subtitles like Mike, and he loved "Mary Lou".

And to give you fair warning, there are indeed dark parts. That's part of growing up gay, coming out, and surrounding yourself with people who, like you, try their best to make it on a daily basis. Not all of us make it. Yet many of those who do keep on going, and keep on trying to become better people.

I laughed. I got teary-eyed. I was empathetic. I experienced a whole new world and at the same time felt a lot in common with many of the characters.

If you get to see "Mary Lou" I would love to hear what you thought!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 25, 2011

No gifts, thank you

It's black Friday. I am still full from the incredible vegan feast prepared by my husband yesterday, and decided to head out to grab a coffee, write, and correspond with all of the wonderful folks who have commented on past blog posts.

I don't plan on doing any shopping today. The few gifts I purchase these days will most likely come from a local shop.

As for me, please don't buy me a gift. Don't get me wrong, I love receiving gifts. The cute grin on Mike's face while I'm opening a gift from him is priceless.

The warm feeling I feel in my heart when a friend or family member makes a financial donation to a non-profit catapults me to gratitude and joy. For many years now I have asked my parents to not buy us gifts, and to instead make a donation to their local HIV/AIDS group or animal shelter. The beauty of my family is that they have done this, and local groups in Bay City, Michigan and White Lake, Michigan have benefited form the donations.

Mike and I have everything we need, and then some. With all of the causes we support, we are thrilled when we get a thank you card from a non-profit saying that a gift was made in our name. It's an amazing feeling to know that our friends and family have contributed to making the world a better place for all living beings. From animal shelters around the country, to small HIV/AIDS agencies, national gay rights groups and animal rights groups, our friends and families have supported them financially and at the same time completely loved and honored Mike and I by granting our simple request.

A $25 gift can make a wonderful difference. Locally or nationally, groups working in the trenches every day need financial support.

So join us! Imagine the impact we can make when asking to not receive a gift!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beyond grateful!

After blogging about Thanksgiving Day and then about giving to charities, I thought it would be appropriate to write about how I am just filled with gratitude.

I write this blog with a heavy heart, as Mike and I prepare to make end of life decisions for our 18 year old companion dog Shadow.

And yet that's a huge part of what I am truly grateful for, my family.

I have no clue what I have ever done to deserve the life I have or the family I have.

Mike is truly the love of my life. Being married to him is such an amazing gift. And the family we have created, with Rock, Miguel, Suga, Shadow, and Monty, is just so big and wonderful and loving that I can't help to be grateful for it every day.

And beyond our home we have wonderful family as well as our incredible family of choice, many of whom will be sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table with us this week.

I am grateful for all those who on a daily basis act to make the world a better place for all living beings. Even when it is not easy. Or popular. Or safe. These people are my heroes.

I am grateful to be sober. That's a whole other blog post!

I am grateful for my community, for all those who love and support me, who teach me, who walk this amazing path with me.

I am grateful to have an incredible job that I love.

There is so much more, but I imagine you get the idea.

Yet before I finish, I have to mention that I am beyond grateful for all of those folks who take time to read this blog and for those who write such beautiful things to me about the blog. Yesterday we got a note that said that we are such an inspiration. Wow.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Give to those who are making change

My day job is as a fundraiser. I was born to fundraise. I love it. This month I have been working on my yearend campaign, asking people to consider making a financial gift before the end of the year.

As you know, there are hundreds of amazing groups out there making a difference for animals, for the poor, for those persecuted, for the environment, etc.

They ALL rely on people like us to continue their amazing work.

It isn't cheap to do an undercover investigation.

Or to run a soup kitchen.

Or to feed hundreds of animals in a sanctuary or shelter.

You get the idea.

Organizations all over will be sending our year end appeals asking for a donation. Every bit helps, believe me.

Will you join Mike and I in helping these great organizations by sending them or check or going to their website and making an online donation?

There are a lot to choose from, both nationally and in your own area. Check them out. Talk about it as a family. If you have any questions about how your money will spent, give the organization a call.

You can make a difference.

Thanks for reading. And we would love to know who you are donating to! In future posts we will highlight some of the groups we'll be donating to. If you have a Facebook account, you can click to our account from our main page here to see a list of groups we have donated to.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I love Thanksgiving

No, Thanksgiving is not indicative of slaughter or genocide to me. I have never lost sight that in the US 45 million turkeys will be slaughtered for Thanksgiving just as I never lose sight of that on a daily basis millions of animals suffer in labs and factory farms, etc.

I have simply redefined what Thanksgiving Day is.

Thanksgiving Day is my husband's favorite holiday and it has become our favorite holiday as a couple. He loves to cook and we love to fill our home with family and friends and many times show off how delicious a vegan Thanksgiving meal is. Mike is one of the best cooks I know so it's easy for him. One year we had 26 people for Thanksgiving dinner and had it in the back yard, one long table.

Mike and I have an incredible life. We have so much. And Thanksgiving Day is another day for us to remember that and, even though we try to do it every day, be hugely grateful for all we have.

It's also a chance for us to remind people why we are vegan, and why veganism is the perfect way to live if one loves and/or cares about animals.

It's also a chance to say thank you to our family of choice, those dear friends of ours whom we love and who are like family to us.

So Thanksgiving Day can be about great vegan food, celebrating family and family of choice, and simply looking around the table and feeling oh so grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you our readers. We totally appreciate the fact that you read our blog and support us as a gay married couple and as two vegans trying to make the world a better place for all living beings.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Veterans Day? Really?

I am a veteran.

It's that time of year again. The annual Veteran's Day parade in Denver. Lots of commercials thanking our veterans and inviting them in for a special deal.

Meanwhile, the reality of how veterans are treated and what some of their lives look like is heartbreaking. Join our military, go to war, leave your family, experience unreal horrors, come back, and good luck. Have a nice day. Thank you very much.

Did you know that on average, 18 veterans a day commit suicide? This number doesn't include active duty personnel who commit suicide. That is a whole other blog post.

Did you know that one in four homeless people are veterans? It is estimated that on any given night there are 131,000 homeless veterans on the streets.

In Colorado, the unemployment rate for veterans is 10%, much higher than for other people. Imagine coming back from Afghanistan, having the same level of education you had when leaving high school, having some type of trauma, and then being on a job search.

In many communities, those that want to help have taken the situation into their own hands. At Stand downs across the country thousands of vets are served meals, given free health care, accepted into drug or alcohol rehabs, given help with a job search, and told that someone cares about them.

"Stand down" is a military term for a temporary halt in an offensive. There was a recent Stand down in Denver. Hundreds of vets were served.

Listen to any politician and you will hear wonderful things about veterans. Many of their actions are nothing close. As more and more folks return from war and leave the military, the situation seems to get worse. All of this talk of budget cutting and nobody wants to talk about how that affects our veterans. It is complete BS.

There are many ways that we can help our veterans. You can look in your own community for a local group. One of my favorites is the Wounded Warrior Project which serves veterans and active duty folks. Those returning from war wounded (in any way) have an even tougher time adjusting. You can also see if there is a Stand down in your community. There are 60 nationwide. I assure you that once you volunteer at one of these you will change some one's life (perhaps even your own).

So you get the idea. Regardless of where you stand on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of whether or not you know a veteran, and regardless of what your political belief is, our veterans need help.

Thanks for reading. If you would like to know more about the Wounded Warrior Project you can click below.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Too many dead protesters in Syria

I started my path fighting to make the world a better place while spending a year in Colombia as an exchange student at age 16. My life was forever changed and I returned to the US intent on delving into human rights.

I watched with excitement as I saw protests all over the world in support of protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria.

I continue to be horrified, sickened, and disgusted as I read the daily death counts in Syria. Depending on who you believe, more than 2,000 have been killed, tortured, jailed or disappeared solely for protesting against the government. As you may know, almost always these protests have been peaceful.

As these beautiful people continue to be massacred, I wanted to take a few minutes and spread the word to please remember these folks. Please talk about them, write about them, blog about them. As an activist and one who has protested since I was 16, one should be able to protest without being shot, tortured, or threatened.

Will you stand with me in solidarity with the brave protesters in Syria? They continue, against all odds, to protest and to make their peaceful argument for freedom.

If you are interested in keeping up with what is going on in Syria, from an activist's viewpoint, you can follow this guy on Twitter:!/MalathAumran There are also several Facebook pages written by those who are part of the protest movement.

Thanks so much for reading! I continue to be so grateful for everyone's support!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Change the world. Share vegan goodies.

I have seen it many times.

Give this a try, it's a homemade cinnamon roll.

Wow, this is the best thing I have ever had. Do you have the recipe?

There is a preconceived notion out there to what vegan food is, or better said, what it tastes like. Mike and I have once again been reminded that when people try vegan food, snacks, milks, etc., their minds open up a little more to veganism.

This reminder came this past Friday when Mike and our friend Ann passed out vegan treats and tastes at a health fair at one of Mike's schools. The folks who run the health fair know Mike is vegan and invited him to have a table. Mike contacted the fine folks at Veg Fund and got funding for treats, and the entire day was a huge success.

Hundreds of students tried something knowingly vegan for the first time. Most of them came back for seconds. Mike and Ann were thrilled as many students told them that they couldn't wait to have this drink or that sample in their own home.

These types of things totally excite me and I just had to share the story.

I love bringing vegan treats to the office. We love having diner parties and being the only vegans in the room. People who love food will inevitably love vegan food.

Now I'm hungry so I'm headed to the kitchen.

By the way, Veg Fund is a non-profit and depends on donations from fine folks like yourselves. They then give grants to groups who are passing out vegan food samples. It's a huge win for us and the animals. Check them out at

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ricky Martin came out.

NOTE: This is a personal post. It's not about my veganism or politics. It's about a superstar coming out. And my reaction to his coming out. If you are drawn to read only my posts about veganism, please check the next blog post.

I realize that to most of you this is not news. Ricky Martin publicly came out last year, and for many of his fans (like me) it was not a surprise.

I remember the night like it was yesterday. The Pepsi Center in Denver, November of 1999, great seats that I paid a fortune for, and Ricky Martin.

About half way through the concert all of the lights went out. A single beam of light from above the stage was directed at a single seat in the middle of the stage. Out walks Ricky, in a white t-shirt, jeans, no shoes, with his guitar. For the next 15 minutes he belted out an acoustic version of "Vuelve" and I was awestruck.

I have been a fan of Ricky since his days in Menudo. I got into Menudo while living in Colombia my junior year of high school. I realize it was never popular to say that one likes Menudo, and I don't think I ever have until now. Of course now I don't care what others think about me (unless I'm being a dick).

I will never forget the night I saw Ricky Martin sing "Vuelve" (by the way, one of my all-time favorite songs).

When Ricky came out, and wrote a book about his life and being gay, I wasn't surprised. I was excited. What surprised me was the huge judgment that came from many in the white, gay, male community about his coming out and the fact that it took so long. Some of the hateful notes I read on gay blogs and gay news sites turned my stomach.

I was sad and embarrassed. How can so many gay people be so judgmental.

I was naive. Everybody has an opinion. And many have no problem standing in judgment of others.

I love Ricky. He came out at the perfect time for him and his family. And his concert ticket sales are better than ever.

Thanks for reading. I love all of our readers, just as you are!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Vegan in the kitchen

Mike and I have a joke regarding one of my popular meals when we first met. Boca burgers and tater tots. 100% vegan of course. Easy. Delish. We refer to it as "Dan's meal". Once in a while we'll have a "Dan's meal" dinner, but not very often. I must say though; the tater tot with the right amount of salt is so, perfect.

When Mike and I met he was not vegan. I was never one to date only vegans. If I had had that rule I would have been looking for a long time. Although there are a few more of us today, back then I knew of no other gay male vegans in Colorado. Plus, I simply fell in love with Mike. He was the guy for me.

I also never asked him to become vegan. I only expressed why I was. I never judged him for not being vegan. I just made sure he knew how loving a vegan could be.

Anyway, for Valentine's Day his gift to me was him becoming vegetarian. A couple of months later his gift to himself for his birthday was to go vegan.

Within weeks of being vegan he was cooking up a vegan storm. I was still wanting "Dan's meals". Over the years I have changed. I cook every once in a while now and love it. I have actually loved it since I bought my first vegan cookbook.

My point here, in kind of following up to the last blog, is that one does not have to start out being a good cook, or liking to cook, when they first become vegan. It's a process. It sort of happens.

Mike can just whip something up. I need to think about it and then go through a cookbook. Cooking together is a blast. It makes for a great date night.

If you are considering going vegan, there are a TON of books, websites, and blogs to give you great ideas about cooking. I suggest just jumping in. And if you'd like to know which vegan cookbooks we use in our home, just ask. Many of the blogs linked from our site here are cooking blogs, so check them out!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Veganism rocks

I was just thinking of this last night while making dinner, a meal I would have most likely never made when I ate meat. Not because I didn't like certain things, there were just so many food items not on my radar screen.

So I took our cast iron skillet, put in olive oil, heated it up. Meanwhile, I boiled some quinoa (so easy). As the skillet heated I added mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. With the quinoa finished, I plated it and topped it off with the veggies. Delish is an understatement, plus I felt WAY healthy.

I have been vegan so long that I don't even remember what it's like to eat meat or any animal product. I remember "testing" my veganism during the 1996 Philadelphia to DC AIDS Ride, which was 270 miles. I figured if I could do that ride as a vegan, and only eating vegan during the ride, then veganism was healthy for me. I did it. It wasn't easy but that had more to me not being inshape than being vegan!

I always go back to why I am vegan, which is because I do not want to be part of the cruelty that a meat-based lifestyle supports. I just can't. It's not who I am on any level. And when it is so easy being vegan, and when it opens so many culinary doors, there is just no reason for me not to be vegan. As the 12 year old daughter of a friend says,"I love animals, and that's why I am veg."

I know that many of our blog readers are not vegan, and I am so glad that we get so much support from those curious about veganism. It is very easy to try, and if you'd like to begin by simply eating vegan one day a week or committing to a specific period of time, there is a ton of support for you. We have several people and groups here on our blog with links to their websites. You can even order a free Veg Starter Kit from Mercy For Animals right here! And if you want to go a little further, Colleen Patrick Goudreau has a new book out titled "The 30 Day Vegan Challenge". I have read through it a couple of times and totally wish it had been around when I first became vegan.

And we'll be by your side every step of the way!

More to come!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Own YOUR activism

Ashton and Simon are completely relaxed at "home". They are the two dogs we are fostering. Ashton has his favorite chair and Simon sleeps with us. You get the idea.

As many of our readers know, fostering animals is one way Mike and I participate in our activism. I especially like the idea of animal rescue groups getting involved with an animal rights activist who is vegan. The conversations we get to have are endless, and the dogs we get to help in finding a new home change our lives.We find that there is still a HUGE disconnect between many who try to save companion animals and actually making a decision not to eat animals.

This week I read a Facebook post in which someone we respect wrote that she was ashamed of her local activist community for not supporting a vegan/animal rights film that was having an opening in her city.

I honestly do not think she was truly ashamed. Maybe disappointed. The deal for me is that I have met a zillion activists, mainly around animal rights, human rights, marriage equality, and HIV/AIDS. Each one of them has her or his own definition of what being an activist is to them, and they express that in just as many ways.

Going to a protest. Volunteering at a shelter. Writing letters. Voting. Passing out leaflets/information. Wearing a message shirt. Having house parties to talk about your cause. Writing a blog. Participating in a boycott. Donating money. This list could go on and on.

Mike and I foster animals. We have this blog. We have vegan parties. We bring non-vegan folks scrumptious vegan food. We vote. We tell our non-vegan friends why we are vegan. We occasionally go to a protest. We use the word husband (to promote marriage equality). Some of our actions are simple. Some occur daily. Some require time. And of course some require money as we financially support groups making a difference.

We are and never will be in a position to judge what others do to help animals, to promote veganism, to end HIV, to bring about marriage equality, or to help the poor. That is just not who we are. And we believe it does nothing to help those suffering.

Meanwhile, Ashton and Simon are both napping. Remember, they both need a permanent home!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I voted!

The mail in ballot arrived Friday. I filled it out Saturday. Mailed it on Monday.

I voted.

I know, it's not cool. It doesn't mean anything. It won't "help". Nothing will change. It's stupid.

I have heard it all. Even from people I respect. And love.

And I totally disagree.

As one who votes with his dollars every day, I am a proud voter in every election. And I truly believe that my votes make differences, especially in local elections.

Our local election is about city council, mayor, our county school board, and a tax increase to support public schools. I voted in a heartbeat.

Have you looked at your school board lately? Do you know who represents you on city council? Does it matter?

To me it does, on many levels.

Vegan meals in public schools? Go vote.

A "Meatless Monday" in your city? Go vote.

Funds for spay/neuter at the local level? Go vote.

Non-discrimination policies at the local level? Go vote.

Want to support a local, small business? Go vote.

Basic animal cruelty laws in your town? Go vote.

You totally have the power.

Thanks for reading! As always, I would love your feedback!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A week in the life of a gay vegan

My wonderful husband was not too happy (this is an understatement) when I came home Thursday night with another foster dog. As you know, we share our lives with five dogs plus have Ashton the foster. Wonderful Simon is now number seven. Mike had understood that I was NOT bringing home another foster. I misunderstood. Honestly. Regardless, he was not happy. Then Simon, not neutered, lifted his leg in the TV room and Mike was done.

Fast forward to today, Sunday, and Simon is very much settled in, Mike is not mad, and I am working hard to get both Ashton and Simon adopted. Plus one of my best friends is getting married today so we get to go up into the mountains for a fall road trip.

Communication in a marriage, or any relationship, is vital. I am normally pretty good at it. And I admit, I just wanted to save another dog. I know I can't save them all. And I have to take care of my family first.

Last post I wrote about cutting up credit cards. I got a ton of feedback from that post. Mike and I took our cards and froze them. We are two of millions who make a monthly payment on our credit card debt. Occupy Wall Street has helped us in realizing that we are part of the problem. No more credit card charges for us. We are making a huge effort to pay off the debt so we can stop supporting these gigantic banking systems that seem to not give a crap about us.

We continue to follow the news of Occupy folks all over the world. In Denver it has become a sad yelling match between a few protesters (of thousands) and battle-ready police in full riot dress. There is NO press coverage about why people are in the streets, only about a few folks yelling at an overdressed police force. Meanwhile so many are looking for a job, so many are not able to eat without some kind of support, and so many us of us are supporting businesses and banks that seem to only care about our money (and of course what tough times mean to animal shelters as well as the millions of animals tortured to support mega-companies that profit off of killing animals).

Oh, and elections (local) are coming up! I'll save that for the next post!

Thanks for reading about my week!

Are you doing to anything to support the Occupy movement? I would love to hear everyone's thoughts!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

National Coming Out Day

It was a brutal time.

Telling my family and the Navy that I am gay.

Hardcore difficulty. Loss of sleep. Lots of emotion. A ton of fear.

No, I didn't go out on a date with with Louise.

I went out on a date with Louis.

I still remember that night. Jaws dropped (I was surprised as to how many had no clue). It was a weekly meeting I went to filled with people who "loved" me. More than half didn't say good night afterward. Many of them didn't call for a long time. I now realize that many of them simply had no idea what to say. To many, I was the first person ever to say to them that I was gay.

Most of this happened in 1990. I went to my first gay rights march in Columbia, South Carolina. It was a HUGE deal for me.

Coming out, even today, is no easy deal. Even if the person coming out to you knows that you will be supportive, it can be challenging.

Today is National Coming Out Day. Yep, we have a day.

As an animal rights activist and human rights activist, I invite all of you to join me in making our movements more welcoming to all. We do nothing for the voiceless when our movements or people in our movements are perceived to be bigoted (or even worse, are bigoted).

Happy National Coming Out Day!

If you know of anyone struggling with coming out, there are many resources. For young people, the best is The Trevor Project, which is linked from our blog.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thinking of Occupy Wall Street - Goodbye credit card

My intention was in the right place: go to the Occupy Denver march. Then it got cold. And then it rained. And rained. As I got my raincoat on and went outside to see how it felt, I realized that I did not want to go march in the cold and the rain.

The march was successful. I even saw coverage on TV. On "Sunday Morning", a news program we watch, they had a great spot about Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Denver has a website which lets folks know what they need. I'll drop supplies off this week. I'll keep posting their hash tag on Twitter and promoting the idea that 99% of our population still have a voice. That's how I can help.

NOTE: I'm not impressed with those discounting the protests due to "lack of message". I think people get the message.

I believe that all of those protesting can go many more steps further. One of those steps would be to stop using their credit card.


I said it. This 45 year old gay vegan who loves to shop, loves his Mac, loves his cup of coffee and is part of the spending machine is actually suggesting that we cut up our credit cards. NOTE: If you don't have one, good for you. You can advance to another step in support of the protest.

What would it look like for the powers that be, those credit card carriers execs, although giving people money they don't have, make a fortune off of us. Me, I get it, I use a credit card to buy something I don't need. It's been a long time since I used though, and I keep thinking about what it might look like if 1,000 folks stopped using credit cards? 10,000?

A credit card burning protest? Maybe not. Yet in the quiet of one's home, with their family or a significant other, we can make a decision that will send a clear message: I'm done with you. Our relationship no longer works. The fees, the ever-changing interest rate, and your politics, no longer work for me. I want to break up.

We can start a savings account at our local credit union or local bank. I got that idea from a sign at the NYC protest. We can then use that account "for emergencies". Not a credit card that continually pays into a system that we most likely want nothing to do with.

Would anyone listen if we started to do this? Are people in a position that they can stop using their card to purchase groceries? Am I speaking from privilege when I suggest this?

I would LOVE every one's thoughts! What can we do in our daily lives to support Occupy Wall Street?

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ashton the dog needs a home

Ashton is a she (I know, I didn't name her).

She is 9 years old.

She came to the shelter with her littler mate brother. They had lived together with one family their entire lives. For some reason the family could not keep them, and brought them to the shelter.

As many older dogs who have had a good life react in the shelter, Ashton got depressed.

Then her brother was adopted out. (I am not sure why without her as the typical deal at the particular shelter is to keep mates together)

Then she became even more depressed. While at the shelter on Thursday I was told about her and about her being moved to the top of the list for foster care. I returned after work and she is now in our home.

She has allergies. She is VERY sweet. She is some type of spaniel and is somewhat overweight (or I am weak - see last blog post about me trying to get fit!).

She is comfy in the TV room, is great with all of our other furries, and is a little whiny.

And she is not alone in needing a new home. Today I met a woman at the shelter who was turning in her two dogs because her new place wouldn't allow them.

I am not about to ask the question even though I want to! I never want to assume I know a person's situation.

And then there are the hundreds of shelters all over the US seeking help for their overcrowded conditions, conditions that are even worse because so many people have lost their homes.

Ashton is safe until the new family comes along. She won't be euthanized. Thousands of others will this week.

I have blogged about shelters before. A little bit of your time can make a HUGE difference in an animal's life.

Thanks for reading. If you live in the Denver metro area and are interested in adopting Ashton, please let me know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting fit at 45

Having been vegan for over a decade and not being a smoker or a drinker, many times I live in a fantasy world and think that I am a very healthy, athletically fit, person.

I can go to my gym and lift a lot of weight, hop on the bike for miles and miles, and feel that all is good.

Then I got a trainer.

Reality check. You mean that once you have lifted a set you don’t go talk with someone for 15 minutes, get a drink, talk some more, walk once around the track, and then consider another set? The further reality is that gym time, like most of my life, is social time.

One hour. Non-stop. Many different excercises, including several that I would NEVER consider doing on my own.

Balance? What is balance? Balance is when you keep one foot on the ground, lift the other, and at the same time lift a weight above your head. All while not falling down.

All along I thought balance was making sure I didn’t work too much and spent enough time with Mike and the furries.

I decided to get a trainer when I realized that many times during my workouts I could only go so far, and, especially with cardio, I would get winded quickly.

I had NO idea how difficult working with a trainer and learning about exercises that will not only make me look a little healthier but actually make awesome change in my body would be. I read on Facebook all the time about friends and family doing marathons, triathalons, 10K’s, etc. No thank you, I’m healthy and really don’t want to break a sweat.

And the truth is I don’t want to run a marathon. Yet I do want to be able to run a mile or two without having to have my doctor on call.

My veganism only goes so far. And although this will be an entirely different post, even though I am vegan doesn’t mean I eat healthy! OUCH! Another difficult realization.

I don’t think you need to get a trainer to become more healthy. It was a great choice for me as I have never been trained in working out and I have learned so much. And I have only had three sessions so far.

Where is that Mighty-O doughnut?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gay (and Lesbian) in the US military!

As many of you know, the devastating policy that excluded gays and lesbians from serving in the US military for decades ends today. The so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is now officially dead. This is a huge day for me!

I served in the US Navy from 1984 - 1991 with reserve time going through 1994. I am very familiar with the policy meant to keep gays and lesbians from serving.

I remember the investigations and the harassment.

I remember the suicides. The fear that one had been "found out".

I remember only wanting to go out with other military people who were gay so not to have to worry about being exposed by someone not in the military.

I remember the humiliating courts martial and Captain's Masts.

I remember constantly having to change (and remember) pronouns.

I remember walking by a gay bar overseas and not even daring to look in.

I remember the violence by word and by fist. I remember going one hundred plus miles to go out to a gay bar so my license plate wouldn't be written down.

I remember the pure bigotry and the hate. "You fucking faggot!"

I remember knowing in my heart that one day this would end. That it would just have to end.

It's gotten a little easier for some since I got out. I think it all depended on your command. But now it's a bit easier for many, and at least, even if one wants to stay closeted, they are safe with their job if they are "found out".

The bigotry will take a lot longer to go away, yet this is still a HUGE deal. Inside I am totally stoked. Outside I know the fight for equality is not over.

Will you celebrate with me?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vegan at the Sustainable Living Fair

As many of you know, Mike and I have a little vegan company called Cruelty-Free World. We set up at festivals, farmer's markets, holiday gift markets and fair-trade shows and sell our vegan goods and cookbooks. Then we donate the profit to animal rights and human rights groups. We always try to carry the coolest vegan bags, purses and wallets as well as our favorite vegan cookbooks.

The Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins, Colorado is always one of our best times. This year we came up on Friday to set up early and meet other vendors. We are so grateful to have our dear friends Christa and Dave in Fort Collins, who open their home to us.

We began our Saturday with several wonderful folks from the local vegan group, Fort Vegan, who loved our array of bags and left with several cookbooks. We met April who we had connected with on Twitter (and added her blog, Epicurean Vegan to our resources list) and she brought us vegan cookies! What a great group of people. We especially love selling vegan cookbooks (as opposed to passing our veg starter kits which we do) as when someone buys a cookbook they make an investment and they will most likely use it at least once.

Throughout the weekend we have a lot of conversations around veganism and animal rights, and are able to help people who have never cooked vegan in their lives (on purpose) pick out a cookbook that is best for them. The vegan community is alive and well in Fort Collins, and they were so wonderful to us. On Sunday we even got a plate filled with vegan coffee cake that didn't last long!

We also spend a lot of time with the usual anti-vegan banter. That's where our love shines through. Especially with the guy who told me they were the opposite of where we were as they are chicken farmers. I told him that we all have more in common than not and him and his wife actually hung out for a few minutes. And Mike's great conversation with a cattle rancher, who left with a veg starter kit. My hope is that the way they think about vegans and animal rights people changed for the better and perhaps one day they'll take a good look at their chickens and cows. It is so easy to quickly slam people, yet as a voice for the voiceless I don't like that way.

The vendor food at the Fair this year was better than last year. Several vegan options including vegan sweets! vegan doughnuts on Sunday. On our way to the Fair Sunday morning we dropped by Mugs and they made us AMAZING vegan breakfast burritos with vegan sausage. The people who run this Fair have always been so kind and welcoming to Mike and I, and we have always loved being here.

The best meal we had over the weekend was at Nyala Ethipian Cuisine! WOW! I was blown away by all of the flavors and the owner came out and offered some of what she had made herself for her lunch which was a tasty tofu dish. This is a not-to-miss place whenever in Fort Collins!

Local fairs and festivals are great places to promote veganism. More to come on that. We'll see you next year at the 13th Annual Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wedding rings & vegans

How important is a wedding ring? Does it really matter? After all, our marriage is not legally recognized in 44 states as well as on the federal level. In many realms we are called sinners, sodomites and abominations.

As I look at my wedding ring my eyes get watery thinking of my husband. Thinking of the hard-core love I have for him, our family, and the life we have created. Thinking of the gratitude I feel every day to be his husband. I think about the day we walked into a jewelry store and discussed the rings we wanted to exchange at our wedding. And the day we picked them up! The day I put Mike's ring on his finger is a day I will always remember.

On a daily basis I am reminded that there are people who feel strongly against Mike and I, and our relationship, and certainly our marriage. Today I read a Facebook post from a fellow animal rights activist saying that he respects gay folk but not what we do (I am generalizing his post). He posted on the page of an animal rights group, who then deleted his post. Whether his post should have been deleted or not might be the topic of another blog post!

I wanted to respond to his original post (we know of his post based on other posts) and let him know that I respect his views on animal rights and that I don't really care about his views on my relationship, let alone the fact that I even exist! I have heard ALL of them. I don't necessarily believe one is hateful when expressing them (a point brought up in this same grouping of posts). I guess it's how one expresses their message more than what the message is. I have met wonderful people who in their hearts believe that my marriage is wrong.

As veganism grows, as more and more people embrace compassion with their food choices, the movement itself becomes more diverse. And yes, that includes the presence of even more people who are, for whatever reason, anti-gay. (Not to say that there haven't been anti-gay folks around before now!) Just to be clear, as loving as I try to be towards all, if you believe that as a gay married couple Mike and I deserve less from any government level of benefits then I consider you to be anti gay. I don't care about your reasoning or what book you read to "support" your being anti-gay. We deserve the same as any heterosexual married couple, pure and simple.

Within animal rights and veganism, it all comes down to being a voice for the voiceless. Those beautiful creatures who suffer every day need our voices. If we look at each other as equals and not try to lessen each other for any reason, then our voice will be louder and stronger.

Thanks for reading! If you're in Colorado and coming to the Sustainability Fair in Fort Collins this weekend we'll see you there. Booth 429!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Want to try veganism?

As many of you know, Mike and I own a business called Cruelty-Free World. It's a very small business. We find awesome vegan products and the best vegan cookbooks and sell them at local festivals. Then we donate 100% of the profit to animal and human rights groups. We love it and are in our fifth season.

Next week we travel to Fort Collins for one of our favorite shows, the annual Sustainable Living Fair. We love this show. And we love Fort Collins.

One of the newest books we'll be selling is Colleen Patrick Goudreau's newest, "The 30-Day Vegan Challenge". What a great book. Colleen wrote it to be supportive to those jumping into veganism (my words, not hers!). With this blog we have promoted Meatless Mondays and have let y'all know why we are vegan. Now we want to invite people to try veganism. By this I mean we want to invite you to take a vegan pledge. One week? One month?

Are we crazy? Some of you might be thinking this. And we do realize that some of our readers are already vegan. You can pass this invite to friends of yours who are not vegan. And if you don't know anyone who is not vegan, then it's time to increase your social circles!

Veganism rocks! I love being vegan. And you too can participate in this amazing lifestyle!

If you're going to be at the Sustainable Living Fair, come check us out and sign up to give veganism a try. You have nothing to lose, and, in my opinion, so much to gain. If you want more info, you can order a vegan starter kit from the main page of our blog. You can also check out the many links we have listed on our blog. We have some excellent folks linked from the resource section, you should definitely check them out. What I have found is that there is no shortage in support for people wanting to check out veganism.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for thinking about veganism and/or promoting veganism.

Your local shelter needs you

Meet Gypsy! Gypsy is a sweetheart. She is one of thousands of animals who need a home today. When I first met Gypsy at The Max Fund Shelter in Denver you could not see her eyes and barely could see her nose. Her hair was so overgrown that you couldn't see her face. The mats on her feet were almost all two inches wide and her ears looked triple their size because of her mats. When I opened her cage to show her some love she trembled as I picked her up.

This week she was spayed at the shelter and by the time you are reading this I will have had a visit with her. (well, I have visited her twice now!) She still shakes. You can just tell that she was accustomed to being on someones lap all day at some point in her life. Now she is terrified and in a cage.

But she can see. And she has no mats. This is because I met her and had the time to groom her.

NOTE: I am in no way a professional groomer. Ask anyone, including our companion dogs. Yet I felt I could at least clean her up and remove all the mats. Mission accomplished.

No matter where you live, no matter how busy you are, no matter how many causes you are involved in, no matter if animals in shelters are "not your thing", you can make a HUGE difference in an animal's life with very little time. An hour a week can mean the difference between a terrified animal and one that feels a little better off. It can mean the difference between getting a walk or no exercise at all. It can mean a clean cage right after an incident and them waiting till someone else notices that they are lying in crap. It can mean the world to shelter employees who day in and day out rock it for the animals and many times don't have enough time, money, resources or help.

You can find a shelter online or in the phone book. Give them a ring or swing by. My experience is that many things can happen once you offer to volunteer:

They will say they do not need volunteers.

They will not return your phone call.

They will send you a list of the volunteer training schedule.

They will say thanks so much, and here's broom.

They will ask you to foster an animal.

And so on.

In the ten years I have volunteered at The Max Fund, I have had many amazing experiences. I have looked at other places to volunteer but have always come back to wanting to volunteer for The Max Fund. You can find the shelter that fits best with you and your schedule (and your belief system). Keep in mind that you may not always have great experiences and that the shelter may not meet your expectations all the time. I have to constantly keep in mind that I am there to serve the animals, and nothing else matters (aside from any type of cruelty towards those same animals).

My point is that I may not dig someone on staff, I may not dig their policies, I may not dig their adopting system and I may not dig their euthanasia policy (if they have one). Yet I am there to clean a cage, to take someone on a walk, to brush a cat, to cut out mats, and most of all, to love. Yep, I want as many of those beautiful creatures to know they are loved. My favorite times are taking one of the animals out of the cage, going to the play room, and just totally loving on them. Regardless of their circumstances, you and they will feel loved for that time.

And please keep this in mind. I looked all over for statistics on how many animals, dogs and cats, are euthanized in the US every year. It looks like the number many groups use is 3.7 million and that is from 2008. That's 3.7 million in one year. I definitely realize that there are many conversations going on about what to do about this number. While those conversations are happening, we can support the animals by volunteering at our local shelters.

I would love to hear about the shelter you volunteer at!

As always, thanks so much for reading!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A tale of two dogs

This blog post is about two loving dogs I have had the luck to meet and their journey from a life of fear and abuse to a life of safety and the hope of lifelong homes filled with love and compassion.

This blog post is not about the complex issue of animal testing. My opinion on animal testing is not easily described in one blog post. For this post, I want to focus on these two loves. In future posts I will write about animal testing. The one point that I do want to make here before I introduce these two is that even though there are undercover investigators throughout the US looking into abuses against lab animals, the abuses continue. They continue in a way that the abuse and cruelty are so horrific some labs, including the one these two were in, have shut their doors. Meanwhile, the cruelty continues. We just can't see it.

To be clear, I am talking about abuse and cruelty that have nothing to do with the testing going on (which in most cases is hardly anything you would want to happen to your companion animal). The horrors are inflicted on these lovely creatures by those charged with their care. Yes, by those who are responsible for caring for the animals being tested on. I have seen the videos of where these two came from and was brought to tears.

So here we go. I would like all of you to meet Buddy and Copper. In the photo, taken by my dear friend Emile Hallez Williams, Buddy is on the left and Copper is on the right. They came from horrific conditions at a lab in North Carolina, were released after an undercover investigation by PETA (one of the very few groups out there that is a steady voice for animals in labs), and are currently living at The Kindness Ranch, a sanctuary in southeast Wyoming for animals of all sizes who have been released from testing facilities. The Kindness Ranch is one of only a few sanctuaries specifically created to give safe haven to animals released from testing labs.

Buddy and Copper are complete loves. I fell in love with them instantly. Buddy was on my lap in an instant, and Copper took his time to come close. Their tails wagged a mile a minute. Buddy, as you can see in the very top photo of him and I, just loves to be loved and cuddled. Copper is still pretty cautious, but as I sat in the middle of an open area for a few minutes he eventually made his way to me and showed me a lot of love. I could have stayed with these two all day.

I would rather remember them as they are, not as how they were treated in the lab. After they heal at The Kindness Ranch, they will be up for adoption. I look forward to the day when I get the news that they have been adopted and will spend the rest of their days being loved and adored, as they deserve to be. And yes, you are correct. If we did not have a full house they would be definitely on their way to our home!

Did I say that they are complete loves? Even after all they have been through at the hands of humans, they are still loving towards humans.

What a lesson.

For more information on The Kindness Ranch and all of the other animals living there, simply click on the top photo of my blog page, the one of Buddy and I.

And as always, thank you so much for reading this blog. The support I have gotten here blows my mind and I am grateful for all of you who read this. I would love your continued feedback.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vegan Cooking Show by Honey LaBronx!

My friend Christopher in Florida posted this vegan cooking show and I just had to spread the news to all of our blog followers. In this episode, Honey is making seitan. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! This is her first shot at a cooking video and I just have to say KUDOS!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vegan Brunch!

Just thinking of vegan brunch as I write and I am already getting hungry.

Vegan brunch is an amazing way to show off incredible vegan food while inviting friends and neighbors to experiment with vegan cooking.

In the past few months Mike and I have gathered with friends on a Sunday morning for a vegan potluck. The cool thing about this is that most people at the potluck are not vegan yet have had a blast creating a vegan brunch item and have really enjoyed the brunch with friends and new friends.

I decided to make a couple of items that I have never made so grabbed "Vegan Brunch" by
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and started looking for something that might be perfect. I decided on the Brazilian French Toast and the Avocado Potato Salad. WOW! I have to say that the french toast is now one of my favorite recipes EVER and that it is so easy to make. I foresee a lot of french toast in our future! Delish is an understatement.

This past Sunday the potluck was incredible, as it always is. We feasted on what we brought as well as vegan egg-sausage muffins, green chili, zucchini muffins, apple cinnamon muffins, a veggie succotash with an amazing salsa, etc.

We also had coffee. As Isa says in "Vegan Brunch", it's important to have a pot of coffee at brunch. Our friends also enjoyed morning cocktails like Bloody Marys. I was good with a cup of joe and a plate of food that made me grin all morning.

Whether you are newly vegan or just wanting to experiment with vegan cuisine, a vegan brunch is an excellent idea and something I guarantee you'll enjoy. It's also a great way to show non-vegans how delish vegan food is. Plus, as busy as we all are, it is super important to take time to connect with friends and meet new ones.

So plan a vegan brunch. After a quick google search I saw that there were many options for Isa's "Vegan Brunch" and I'm sure there are a ton of other books that offer brunch items.

Let me know how it went. And by the way, we are free next Sunday!

Thanks for reading. I am SO grateful!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fundamentalism hurts

NOTE TO READER: This blog post is based on judgment on how we judge one another. I use the word fundamentalism to strengthen the blog and how I feel about being judged. The word fundamentalism was the best word I could come up with.

There is nothing like a sign like this to show that something is very wrong with a fundamentalist message. Being gay and vegan, I have experienced fundamentalism on a variety of fronts, sometimes from within these same communities.

I call fundamentalist groups (and/or individuals) "Focus on the Family" groups in reference to the virulent anti-gay group based in Colorado Springs, CO. Agree with us or else. Agree with us as it is the only way. Agree with us because we are right and anyone else who is even in partial disagreement with us is wrong.

I have experienced this all my life.

You are Catholic and because of that you will burn in hell.

You support the wrong animal rights group and because of that you suck.

You're gay? Well you know where you're going.

Why do you spend so much time fighting for marriage equality when you could be fighting for animals that are suffering? (I love this one, from a married, heterosexual person)

You voted for who?

Our animal group is better than that animal group that does the same thing but we do it the right way. (And so you need to support us)

I'm an abolitionist and you just don't get it.

Not supporting the gay rodeo is bs and you are full of ____.

And so on.

I realize that all of these statements would not necessarily be considered "fundamentalist", but you know where I'm going with this. Fundamentalism is alive and well in my communities. And it hurts. Not only is it hurtful to hear those things, yet it hurts these same communities.

I am done with fundamentalism. And I am done with the fundamentalist message. After all, and this is not the first or last time I will say this, I truly believe that we have more in common than not.

At a protest in Norfolk, Virginia at the First Baptist Church I was approached by a couple leaving the church. The protest was calling out the church for paying thousands of dollars for an ad in the Virginian Pilot- Ledger Star that 100% made clear that the church considered homosexuality an abomination (rather than spending that money to feed the homeless). The ad was in response to some members of the Baptist Convention being vague about the stance.

We had a wonderful conversation. All three of us agreed that we all have more in common than not. And these folks had a much better (and honest) perception of a gay person.

Recently, a friend told me that she appreciated how non-judgemental I am in talking about veganism and why I'm vegan. She was grateful that I don't shame or guilt people but rather I educate people.

Regardless of my view points, I do not have to judge you or demonize you if you disagree. Don't worry, I am far from perfect on this. And I check myself. We are all on our own paths.
It is important to talk about the torture of animals, gay rights, free speech, freedom from religion, and why one is vegan. For me, it's important to do all of these things without hate, discontent, horrible words, or judgement.

Fundamentalism hurts. Spread the word.

Thanks for reading my blog post. I am grateful!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A day in the life

I decided to share some random thoughts and experiences from this past weekend. What exactly are The Gay Vegans up to? Here you go!

I love vegan pancakes. And waffles. Sunday we went to Edgewater Coffee House to work on this blog and when we went home I made pancakes. They were delish! I used the Kamut Pancake and Waffle Mix from Arrowhead Mills. We use it a lot for camping as it's a mix and easy to make. You just add oil, soy milk (or rice or almond or hemp milk) and you're all set. Sometimes I add blueberries for even more of a treat!

I am worried about the anti-gay opinions of some of the Republican candidates for President. I was thinking about this on Sunday with all of the news coming in from Iowa and the Republican straw poll. As a gay man married to a man I take some of the anti-gay rhetoric seriously. This is one of the reasons I wish more gay people and more vegans would become politically active, or at least vote. I know, it can be tough. Sometimes horribly anti-gay politicians can be supportive of animal welfare issues. Yet the more of us who come out to our politicians, whether it's coming out about who we are married to or that we are vegan (and why we are vegan), can make a difference. (I know, this could become a whole series of blog posts!)

I am excited about us being at the Sustainable Living Fair in Fort Collins September 17-18. This have always been one of our favorite shows for Cruelty-Free World (our vegan market business) and we always have a blast. We are going to highlight some new vegan cookbooks and have a ton of vegan wallets. We are also going to have some of the newest vegan fashions from Queen Bee Creations in Portland, OR. If you have time that weekend and live in Colorado, come and say hi!

Finally, we are continuing to promote Meatless Mondays. Yesterday was huge success with 389 people commit to going meatless. And remember, we only count those who are not already veg or vegan. This is amazing! We can't get to this many people without your support. Thanks! And now we are thinking of a one-week veg pledge. We might invite people to do that at the Sustainable Living Fair.

On a personal note, I am incredibly grateful for all of the support of this blog and all of the feedback, emails, connections, tweets, re tweets, Facebook postings, etc, that all of you have put out there in support of us! Thank you!

Until next time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mike's famous cinnamon roll recipe

After many inquiries for Mike's vegan cinnamon roll recipe, here it is! This is my first recipe post and I am super-excited to share this with you!

I have to say that these cinnamon rolls are so amazingly delish! I love them! They will blow your mind, and many people will not be able to believe that they are vegan. They are a great way to show people how awesome veganism is! Once you've baked them let me know what you think!

I would also like to add that I love to bake! I didn't used to, but I do now. And you don't have to be an awesome baker to make these cinnamon rolls. Try it!

Vegan Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

• 2 packages active dry yeast
• ¼ cup warm water (110 degrees F)
• 1 ½ cups soy milk (hemp milk and oat milk work just as well)
• 1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp earth balance nondairy butter, melted
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (you can replace 2 cups with whole wheat pastry flour for a “healthier” result
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ½ cup earth balance nondairy butter
• 1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
• 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon (try to find fresh ground. I use Vietnamese Saigon Cassia Cinnamon)
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (optional)

1. In a small saucepan combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit for 10 min. This is your nondairy buttermilk
2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 min.
3. Heat the nondairy buttermilk till warm to the touch. Add the 2 tbsp of melted nondairy butter and oil to this mixture.
4. Pour the nondairy buttermilk mixture into the yeast mixture; mix well. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the liquid 1 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 20 times (do not over knead the dough). Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
5. In a small saucepan melt the ½ cup of nondairy butter. After melted remove from the heat and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla bean paste.
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a large rectangle. Spread the brown sugar mixture over the dough, roll up into a log and pinch the seam to seal. Slice into 1 inch pieces and place cut side up in a lightly greased 10X15 baking pan. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight (note you can also divide up the rolls into smaller pans and freeze. When you are ready to use these frozen rolls pull out the night before and let sit on the counter overnight to thaw and rise). If baking immediately, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes before frosting.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

• 4 ounces softened nondairy cream cheese (tofutti cream cheese works best)
• ¼ cup softened nondairy butter
• 1 ½ cups confectioners’s sugar
• ½ tsp vanilla
• 1 ½ tsp soy milk

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer till smooth and creamy.

As always, thanks for reading my blog! And let me know what you think of the cinnamon rolls!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another AIDS Walk in memory of Felix Godinez

This coming Saturday is the 24th Annual AIDS Walk Colorado, the largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the state.

Once again, I will be walking in memory of my dear friend Felix Godinez. My walk fundraising page is here just in case you would like to make a donation: The money raised goes to support people living with HIV or AIDS in Colorado and to support HIV prevention campaigns. I am walking with and supporting the team from Boulder County AIDS Project.

My memories of Felix are part of my everyday life.

I can remember the singing like it was yesterday. “Star” by Erasure cranks from my bedroom stereo while Felix and I are singing and dancing to our hearts’ contents. At that time I had no clue that Andy Bell was gay or that one day our lives would be connected by HIV, yet his music touched me and was a part of my daily life.

Felix probably didn’t count Erasure as one of his favorite bands back in 1991, but nonetheless he realized that I loved them, and once I heard an Erasure dance song, there was no stopping me. So he would just join in.

The house on Estabrook was home. A bit emptier in the later part of ’91 as our housemate Tim (and Felix’s life mate) had lost his battle with HIV/AIDS in March of that year. Yet for us, as many others affected by HIV/AIDS, life went on.

On July 6, 1992, Felix lost his battle with HIV/AIDS after about a ten-day stay at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. He was 30 years old the day he died. That day I lost a dear friend, a brother, a man so loved in his community that a cloud of sadness engulfed us for weeks. Several days after his death, in a standing-room only space filled with people who loved Felix, I sat and listened as dozens of people told Felix’s story through their eyes and life experiences. I’d had many similar experiences and felt an overwhelmingly strong sense of gratitude that I had even
known him and been able to have him as a part of my life.

To have Felix as a friend would forever change your life. Felix loved everyone. He would do anything for anyone. He was the best friend you could ever have. If Felix hugged you, you felt hugged. And loved. And like someone cared about you and what was going on in your life. His laugh would echo through a room or our house. His presence not only changed my life, but also changed everyone who knew him.

Eighteen years after Felix’s death, I posted a note about him and the anniversary of his death on Facebook. Several people who knew him also posted a comment. I have also been contacted by old friends of Felix that I didn't know, like an old fraternity brother who told me that Felix's nickname was "Fish". We all remember him. I think about Felix on an almost daily basis -- not in sadness or
loss, but in gratitude and appreciation.

I remember Felix. Who do you remember? I walk in memory of Felix.

We’ve lost so many loved ones, and we continue to lose them. As the years go by, I have many times wondered if one day, the world would no longer know that Feliz Godinez lived; that he brought so much to this world; and that his death meant that we as a community had lost something so big that we would never be the same.

AIDS is not over. HIV transmission continues in large numbers not only here but throughout the US.

Thank you for reading this blog post. Here's that link to my walk fundraising page again:

Friday, August 5, 2011

That's so gay. Really?

Last weekend Mike and I went to our local mall, Colorado Mills, to walk around and go check out the sale at Borders bookstore. On our way out of the mall three teens were getting into one of their parents cars and called one of his friends a fag.

It's not the first time I have heard this word in public. Typically I introduce myself to someone when I hear them use that word. This time I let it go, I didn't feel like I had a chance to say anything as before I knew it they were all in the car.

The word "fag" is a vile word to me. When I hear it, my defenses go up. There is no use for this word except to express ones disgust for gay men. The word is demeaning and dehumanizing in the highest senses of the word.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot I started thinking about another word/phrase people use in regards to gay people and thought of "that's so gay". I'm sure you've heard it. Many people use it to describe something odd, weird, or messed up.

Odd, weird, or messed up.

Many times when someone says this in my company their immediate reaction is to say, "you know what I mean, it's no offense".

Odd, weird, or messed up.

How about this? If you think something is odd, weird, or messed up, why not say it's odd, weird, or messed up. When you say that something is gay in this reference, it kind of sends the message that being gay is odd, weird, or messed up.

And I'll admit, I can be a sensitive person, especially when it comes to things like this. But this has nothing to do with me being sensitive, it's just plain wrong to use words like this. It's offensive.

So the next time you hear something like this, why not ask "what do you mean by that?".

And the next time you hear the word fag, letting the person who said the word know that the word is vile might be a great effort in education and promoting tolerance. Believe me, it's not easy to bring something up, and I am definitely not suggesting that you put yourself in harms way. If the person who said the word is someone you feel can be approached, let them know.

As always, thank you for reading my blog. I am beyond grateful for the support I've gotten with the blog. I would love your feedback.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Gay Vegan family and activism

One of my favorite pictures is one I took this past Easter. Mike had, as he does every year, cooked a vegan feast for friends. They had all left and Mike had fallen asleep on the love seat with Monty, Rock, and Suga. Although Shadow and Miguel were not on the love seat, the photo shows so much that I am grateful for.

The Gay Vegan family includes Mike and I and our five companion animals.

I love our family.

Mike and I were married on April 30, 2005. In addition to us we share our home with: Shadow, a 17-year old Cockapoo; Rock, a 12-year old Yorkie; Suga, an 8-year old Maltese mix; Miguel, a 7-year old Chow mix; and Monty, a 3-year old Yorkie.

We live in Lakewood, Colorado, a suburb directly west of Denver. We love where we live.

Mike and I try every day to make the world a better place for all living beings. There are two things that we do more often than others. As most activists, we have chosen to do our activism in a way that we believe benefits the voiceless and also fits into our lives. Although we also raise money through Cruelty-Free World to support animal groups all over the country, these two things we do are more local, more in our community.

Our first constant is that we are a foster home for neglected, abused, and hard to place dogs from several local animal shelters. We have been doing this since before we were married and have fostered dozens of dogs. The benefit for us has been huge as we get to meet so many loving animals and support them as they become less fearful of people. Eventually I want to create a link to photos of all of our fosters. They would make you smile for sure.

Fostering is something that you can do pretty much anywhere. I'm sure that most animal shelters have a need for fosters for some of their dogs (and cats). They would be incredibly grateful to you for helping them.

Another thing we try to do is to turn people on to the delicacy that is vegan food. I'm sure many of you have heard people's concerns when considering veganism, concerns that they are really going to miss out on delicious food if they become vegan. Having been a vegan for over ten years I can tell them that nothing is further from the truth. And being married to an amazing vegan cook, it is only better! So we invite non-vegan friends over for meals, for brunches, for cinnamon rolls (Mike's are THE best I have ever had!)and to meet us at restaurants that serve wonderful vegan options.

There is nothing like having a sweet, beautiful, severely abused dog sleeping on your lap while your awesome husband is baking vegan cinnamon rolls. Hmmmm.

Remember that there are many ways to be an activist. Writing letters, attending a protest, having a chat with a local elected official, passing out leaflets, etc. This list could go on and on. Oh, and spreading awareness for Meatless Mondays in your community!

Thanks for reading our blog. I continue to be surprised by all of your wonderful comments and love. Those who have been reading our blog have really rocked it with spreading the word about Meatless Mondays and I am so grateful.