Prop 8 protest

Prop 8 protest
One of my favorite signs seen at a marriage equality protest.

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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meatless Mondays Part III - 281 went meatless!

A simple blog post last week turned into a pretty cool event this week.

Last week I wrote about the concept of Meatless Mondays and how some communities around the country have embraced the idea. I invited readers and people they know to go meatless this past Monday.

The final number of people who told me they (and/or friends and family) were going meatless this past Monday is at 281.

281 did not eat meat this past Monday. Or fish. And keep in mind that this only includes those that are not already veg or vegan.

To say that I am blown away is an understatement. To read notes from folks and posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter give me so much hope for the future and clearly tells me that there are many people out there interested in not eating meet and embracing a plant-based lifestyle.

Dinner parties were held. People cooked with their spouse or significant other. People went out to lunch with co-workers. People sought out more information about vegetarianism and veganism. Some decided they would try going meatless for the whole week!

I am beyond grateful to all of you who read that original post (Meatless Mondays - Give it a try!) and took action with it. Thank you!

This could be the first step in a total change of how one looks at the food they eat. I became vegan because I did not want to be part of the extreme cruelty towards animals who become our food. Yet the benefits of being vegan are endless. One of those benefits, being able to eat amazing food, was a common theme in feedback I received form Meatless Mondays.

Since that original post I have added several links to resources to give you as much information as possible from health, to recipes, to groups working to be a voice for the voiceless. I urge you to check some of these links out.

I wonder what it would look like if all 281 who went meatless this past Monday decide to go meatless EVERY Monday? Or every day?

As always, thank you for reading my blog. Your support is wonderful!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gay marriages in New York!

If you were anywhere near a news source yesterday (Sunday, July 24th) you had to have seen a story (at least one) about all of the same-sex marriages performed around New York during the first day of legalized same-sex marriage in the state.

I saw several such stories, tears in my eyes each time.

Over 600 couples wed yesterday. What an incredible day. What an incredible day for one involved in being a voice for the voiceless and who daily works for equality.

I noticed that most judges doing the civil ceremonies did them for free.

On the other side, one county clerk (I think it was a county and not a city) resigned as she could not morally sign off of a same-sex marriage. She was the second in the state to do so.

Mike and I were married on April 30, 2005. We were married in our church, by our pastor, with 160 family and friends there supporting us. It was the best day of my life. I still dream of saying "I DO" to my husband (and of the scrumptious vegan wedding cake we had made!).

Our marriage is not legal. In fact, we called it "A loving act of civil disobedience". Same-sex marriage is now legal in six states and Washington D.C. Not Colorado. In fact, like many states, we have a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, Mike and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary this past April. He is the love of my life and I will keep fighting until we get the same state and federal benefits that any heterosexual couple gets. I do not know the exact number, but did you know that there are over 1,000 benefits that married couples get from the federal government, none extended to same-sex couples?

But back to New York. If you support equality and are as ecstatic about all of the newly married couples in New York as I am, then celebrate! Take your special person out (today is Meatless Monday by the way!), call an elected state or federal official and tell then you support full marriage equality. Make a donation to a local or national group fighting for marriage equality. However you do it, celebrate!

And then pass me some tissue!



Thank you for reading my blog. I am truly grateful. I would love your feedback.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meatless Mondays Part II

When I wrote last week's blog post my goal was to introduce the idea of Meatless Mondays to people who are currently not vegan or veg and hopefully get people to consider not eating meat on Mondays. I never imagined the response I received, hence a Part II.

I hope you will notice the list of links I have added since the last posting. I added these in an effort to be supportive to the wonderful folks who read the Meatless Mondays blog and told me they would go meatless next Monday. Some of the links are specifically for people here in Colorado and others are websites and blogs that I think are very helpful. Please check them out.

As of Friday, July 22nd, just a couple days after the publishing of my Meatless Mondays blog post, 190 people have committed to going meatless next Monday. This number only includes people who are not already vegan or veg. I am literally blown away and so excited on many levels.

So this blog is for those 190 plus people who will not eat meat (or fish) next Monday.

Thank you!

Thank you for giving this a shot. Thank you for putting aside any concerns you may have or judgements you may have around veganism or vegetarianism.

My hope is that you will not only go meatless next Monday, but every Monday. To do that, you're going to need to find great veg food or cook great veg food. Some of the links I added will help with this. Fortunately for me, Mike is an amazing vegan cook so we eat very well. We also have some wonderful restaurants near us that serve some great veg items.

Regardless of where you live, there is most likely a restaurant near you that has a few veg items. I have found that ethnic restaurants like Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, and Chinese typically have a selection of veg dishes. Just ask the server. The Happy Cow and Veg Guide links can help with finding a place near you to eat.

I also suggest trying to find a local Vegan or Veg Meetup or potluck. I added one such meetup to the links, up in Boulder. This is a great way to meet others who are either already vegan or veg or are taking first steps like you. Being part of a community of others is always helpful as you learn more about going meatless. If you cannot find a meetup in your area you can always start one!

When I became vegan I was fortunate to know of a bi-weekly potluck in Virginia Beach. I was so surprised by the many amazingly delicious vegan dishes and learned a lot about vegan cooking.

Mike and I are fortunate to have a close circle of friends who are either vegan or honor who we are as vegans. Our personal community includes people who eat meat, but who honor our veganism and why we are vegan. We do our best not to alienate people as that does nothing for animals suffering to become food. We try to honor everyone on the path they are on.

And we are SO excited that you are now on this path with us!

We will keep adding links and be as supportive as we can. Have a blast on your first Meatless Monday. Go out to dinner. Invite neighbors over for a great home-cooked meal. Celebrate a world of scrumptious food and delicious recipes.

And then let us know how it went!

Thank you! Thank you for your incredible support of this blog and thank you for going meatless on Monday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Meatless Mondays - Try it out!

In our life, every day is a meatless day. Mike and I believe that being vegan is a wonderful way to live, and we love all of the scrumptious food choices we have as vegans. Some cities around the country have embraced this idea of Meatless Mondays, including our own Aspen here in Colorado.

I love the idea. I realize that the ideal for animals suffering to become food is that every day be a meatless day.

The reality is that it's not. And we as a society are far from that.

So let's start with one day and go from there. It is so incredibly easy to not eat meat for a day. In areas where most of our readers live there are many vegan and vegetarian options both in restaurants and at the local market. And remember, meatless means no meat or fish, but it doesn't mean you have to go vegan for the day (although that would be just as easy).

One day. No meat. It would be good for you, the planet, and the animals. And in many instances it could be good for the economy. Especially if you choose to visit a local eatery that night for dinner.

One day. No meat. Try something new for lunch or dinner.

A kale salad.

Veggie burgers on the grill with friends.

Stuffed peppers with sundried tomatoes, walnuts, and basil.

For easy recipes check out http://vegweb.com/ You can also find vegan and vegetarian cookbooks at your local library or bookstore.

One day. No meat.

In many areas there are local or statewide vegetarian societies (we have a great one here in Colorado: http://vegetariansocietyofcolorado.org/Home.php ) as well as vegan or vegetarian meetups. I know in the Denver area there is one and also in the Boulder area. I can only imagine how many there are around the country. Better yet, invite a couple friends over for dinner and cook a meal together.

One day. No meat.

Will you join us? Will you invite others?

If you decide to give it a try let us know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vegan pancakes for a cause

Last Saturday, July 9th, Mike and I went to the fourth-annual pancake breakfast sponsored by the Colorado Anti-Violence Program. This was our fourth time, and as always, we had an incredible time.

You might be thinking, well why would the gay vegans go to a pancake breakfast? Pancakes aren't typically vegan. Well that's the cool deal here: the pancakes are, and always have been, vegan!

They get it! An anti-violence group that gets it!

Let me back up. First a little bit about CAVP. Since 1986 the Colorado Anti-Violence Program has been dedicated to eliminating violence within and against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities in Colorado, and providing the highest quality services to survivors. They do an incredible job. The annual pancake breakfast is my favorite fundraiser of the year.

I'm sure many of you have either personally experienced or heard of a fundraising dinner or event for an anti-violence group, animal shelter, rape crisis line, etc., where you sit down to a meal that includes meat. At first thought this may not seem like a big deal.

The big deal is that you are financially supporting a group that works against violence, against cruelty to animals, against torture or intimidation, and yet they are supporting those very things by serving meat. This of course could become an entire series of blog posts, yet I'll keep this one to the point of how ecstatic Mike and I are to support a group that we love that entirely understands the connection and serves only vegan pancakes at their big, annual fundraising event.

And by the way, the pancakes are scrumptious. And all you can eat. And they are served right to your table! Oh my, how could we not love this event!

If you would like to know more about CAVP or even make a donation to support their life-changing work, here's a link to their site: http://www.coavp.org/

What can you do? Have a conversation with the shelter you work with or volunteer at and ask them if their annual event has a vegan menu. You can make a big difference in educating their cause. Imagine all of the bridge building and goodwill that can happen when organizations that work towards ending suffering of any kind make their events suffering-free!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Voice for the Voiceless


Many times I express to people that I love being a voice for the voiceless.

One thing that the gay community and the vegan community have in common is that people in both communities have the opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless (someone could respond to this and say that every community has this opportunity and that is a whole other blog post!). When I think of the voiceless I think of chickens jammed in a crate, a Saudi man being beheaded because he was perceived to be gay, beautiful pigs realizing they are about to be killed, a gay man with full-blown AIDS and no medical insurance, the cows in a transport truck on their way to slaughter, the wife of a woman hospitalized after a car wreck and not allowed to see her wife because of someones bigotry, etc.



Every one of you could think of many more "voiceless" to add to this list. By the time I will have finished this blog post I will have thought of dozens more.



Each day I try to do something for the voiceless. Today it involves writing this blog and working on our Cruelty-Free World business which allows Mike and I to raise thousands of dollars for groups working to help the voiceless. I also am going to promote vegan baking, which I love to do and helps people embrace veganism in an amazing way. Mike has been making scrumptious vegan ice cream at the house. When you taste it, there is really no need for dairy ice cream or the suffering that is supported by purchasing it.



There are so many ways to be a voice for the voiceless these days. Most animal rights and human rights groups have websites with action opportunities. Two of my favorite are at Amnesty International (http://www.amnestyusa.org/) and at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (http://www.peta.org/). Both pages have easy action alert items that you can help out with in a manner of moments.

When there is a light shone on cruelty, torture and inhumane acts, sometimes the victim of those acts can be supported. When it comes to animals it doesn't happen often yet the more people realize what we do to animals every day, the better chance for the animals in the future. One can see the evidence in this will the number of people who choose to become vegan every week, and the number of food spots and restaurants that offer vegan options. Compare this to how many place had vegan options just two or three years ago and you will be stunned.



If you would like to see the list of organizations that Mike and I support through Cruelty-Free World, check out the Cruelty-Free World Facebook fan page. They all do amazing work to support the voiceless and help make the world a better place for all living beings.



What will you do today to be a voice for the voiceless?

Thank you for reading my blog. I have been truly grateful for all of the support and incredible feddback received!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Camping in Wyoming


Mike and I just returned from an amazing camping trip in south-central Wyoming.

You might be thinking, gay and vegan in Wyoming?

Definitely!

Before I even begin, I must saw that we were completely surprised by how beautiful this particular national forest is. We knew we were in for a treat, but WOW. We highly recommend this area for either car camping or back country.

The east entrance is just west of Laramie (take exit 311 from I80 in Laramie and head west on state highway 130), starting out in this town of 100 called Centennial . The restaurant/bar here (on the left as you enter from the east and named the Beartree Tavern & Cafe) is one of the first buildings in town, you can't miss it. Plenty to eat as a vegan, including gazpacho! The veggie burger is NOT vegan, just so you know. Yet they have plenty of options.

We car camped this trip and found an incredible spot (#28) in North Fork campground about 10 minutes west from Centennial. Pass the Spruce Creek camping area and after a few miles look for a blue camping sign underneath a road sign on the right. Of course I can't remember the name of the road. Turn right here and you'll go up and see a sign that says North Fork CG, 1 mile.

For meals we rocked it. I am a big pancake guy while camping so we had pancakes both mornings. Vegan pancakes are so easy to make! Mike had found this new (to us) vegan sausage mix that we tried and we all loved it. The first night Jessie made dinner and it was rice, quinoa, black beans and lots of delish, organic veggies from her garden including kale! YUM! Then the second night we made sloppy Joe's, perfect for a night with friends by a campfire. Snacks throughout the trip included peanut butter sandwiches, chips, hummus and tabbouleh.

What was really shocking for me was that there were a ton of families there and we barely heard a word. After spending last summer camping in Colorado State Parks and dealing with a lot of noise, this was such a breath of fresh air. Suga enjoyed the couple of dogs that visited and especially enjoyed the other dogs camping with us: Trudy, Libby and Ben. The whole area was very dog friendly.

Once you get settled in, you can go back to Highway 130 and head west. In just a few minutes, your mind will be blown by the upcoming Snowy Range. I was so stoked, and surprised. There was so much snow (on July 2nd) that people were even skiing and going down the mountain on inner-tubes. There are trail heads here but all were snow-covered.

We continued west to check out Saratoga, WY, population 1,800. There is a hot springs here but it was closed due to the flooding. We went to Lollipop's for a coffee (they have soy milk) but at the last minute I changed my mind and ordered one of the most delicious limeades I have ever had.

This is a great place to add that Mike and I felt welcomed wherever we were. People didn't blink when I called him one of my terms of endearment or when we asked about veg items. One guy in Centennial, when we asked about veg items without cheese, asked us "oh, so are you vegan?". YEEHOO!

This blog is all about sharing our experiences as being gay and vegan in the west. We would love to know yours. We have received amazing feedback since starting this blog, and we are very grateful. Keep it coming.

If you are gay and vegan, there is a community for you! No matter where you are! One doesn't have to live in a big city or in a gay ghetto to find other gay folks who embrace a compassionate lifestyle.