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.