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.