Mexico

Mexico
Protesting in Mexico City against the murder of 43 students.

Monday, March 26, 2012

An action to help animals

Can you take one action to help animals this week?

Just one?

What action would I like you to take? Well, that's the fun part! I am going to list a whole bunch of options!

Go to your local shelter and walk a dog, play with a cat, or clean a cage.

Participate in Meatless Monday and eat only plant-based dishes on Monday (or another day!).

Clean up trash in a local park, beach or open space.

Bake a vegan dessert for your co-workers.

Go online to your favorite animal sanctuary or animal rights group website and make a donation. $25.00 goes a long way.

Wear a t-shirt that has a supporting statement for animals to the gym or when you are going out.

Post on your Facebook page and/or on Twitter what you are doing to help animals and spread the word (and hopefully the interest for your friends to do the same).

And you thought this would be difficult! No way! It's so easy. And I'm sure every one of our readers could think of several other easy actions to take.

We may not be able to stop all animal suffering but we each have the power to take simple actions and make simple steps in making the world a better, safer, less cruel place for animals.

Thanks so much for reading!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our vegan business


Long before The Gay Vegans blog, Mike and I created our vegan business, Cruelty-Free World. We did this as a result of always having to buy vegan products, like belts or bags, online. Our goal was to show people that they could purchase awesome bags, belts, wallets and purses without harm to animals or humans (everything we sell is sweatshop free too) as well as offer the same products in their own community.

We decided that we didn't want a bricks and mortar place, but instead would go to festivals and farmers markets and sell our vegan products. We connected with companies already making amazing vegan products, like Splaff, Hempys and Queen Bee, ordered our favorite vegan cookbooks, bought a tent, and in May of 2006 did our first festival.

Our second goal became to raise money for animal rights and human rights groups. Cruelty-Free World generates direct support for groups making the world a better place for all living beings as we donate 100% of the profit from Cruelty-Free World to non-profits. Yep, 100%.

The best thing about all of this is that we have a blast, and we get to meet so many wonderful people that we might not have met had we not done this. We also get to talk with people about veganism, why we are vegan, and about the groups we support. Cruelty-Free World has become a wonderful way for us to introduce veganism to thousands. I love talking about my favorite vegan recipe or the latest amazing vegan meal we had at a local restaurant. The one on one conversations with people brings a lot of fun for us.

I love watching Mike talk about one of the cookbooks we sell, surrounded by folks who have never bought a vegan cookbook, with all of them getting more and more excited. We also pass out free PCRM veg starter kits, but if we can sell someone a vegan cookbook, there is a great chance that they will go home and experience for themselves how good vegan food is and how easy it is to prepare.

Recently we have been at the Neat Markets here in Denver, a monthly vegan pop-up shop. Our next festival is the annual Boulder Creek Festival coming up on Memorial Day weekend in Boulder, CO. If you're around that weekend come and say hi.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A vegan bake sale!

We love supporting fundraisers. Many times it's a bummer when we read about these great vegan/veg events or other type of fundraising activities that are miles away and there is no way we can participate.

That's why I was beyond ecstatic when our friends at the Peace to All Creatures online zine decided to have an online bake sale in which anyone in the US (the lower 48) could participate! A vegan bake sale that we can support! YUM! I am already daydreaming about receiving the items I on in the mail in a week or so and having delish vegan treats after work one day.

Mike and I have baked for vegan bake sales in the past. They are a blast. Does that sound like a Dr. Seuss rhyme? I have always thought that giving people the opportunity to try delish vegan food is a great step in them looking at veganism.

SO here are the details. On March 18th photos of baked goods being sold will be put on their website. You can bid. Bid high and bid often. The sale ends on the 19th and then all you do is pay on PayPal and your deliciousness is on its way! Bidding will be done by simply commenting on the post on their site that has the vegan baked goods you're interested in.

I am so excited!

And the best part is that Animal Coalition of Tampa (low cost spay/neuter), Dogs for the Deaf, Darlynn's Darlins (pig sanctuary), and Friends of Arlington Animal Services (all animal non-profits in Florida) will benefit from your generosity!

Here is the link!

http://creatureszine.blogspot.com/

Thanks for reading and thank you in advance for supporting this vegan bake sale!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Will you support a FREE spay and neuter day?

I have been volunteering at one of our local animal shelters, Max Fund, for about 12 years. I started out walking dogs and hanging out with the cats. When I was in college, I would gather my books up on Sunday and sit in the cat room all day and study. Now I clean cages and Mike and I foster a lot.

This past weekend I swung by to meet a couple of dogs who really need help getting adopted and (one of them) getting healing so he is adoptable. The little one who needs help with becoming adoptable very much dislikes men and so I worked with him for a bit and got to the point where he let me hold him.

I love volunteering at shelters. One thing that stares you right in the face while volunteering at your local shelter is how important spay and neuter programs are. There are statistics all of the place in regards to the difference in just one female dog or female cat not being able to reproduce makes in the overall picture of animal overpopulation.

Mike and I have had this idea, and we are speaking with Max Fund about it. What if The Gay Vegans hosted a free spay and neuter day? Then we got to talking about two days, one specifically for cats and one for dogs. The more we spoke about it the more excited I got and the ideas just started flowing.

Before we can commit to this, we asked our friend sat Max Fund to look at what it might cost to do this. While they work on the cost, we wanted to check in with our readers and supporters to see if there was anyone who would want to financially support this idea. Mike and I would put a good chunk of the money needed out there, yet we would need some help. We would also need some volunteers that day to help with check-in, etc.

Let us know if you would be interested in supporting this idea. You can email us at vegandude@msn.com or respond via Facebook, Twitter, or here. A simple "I'm in" is fine for now and we'll create a list from that. If we move forward, we would most likely ask those who want to donate to make an online donation at The Max Fund's website just to make it easy and so we can keep track of funds.

We would love to do this and would be even more stoked about this idea if our blog community wanted to support the effort. Imagine what we could do if we could put on two totally free spay and neuter days!

As always, I would totally love your thoughts! Especially with this idea, your feedback is essential!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 12, 2012

More about Twitter

Note: This is a blog in conjunction with other past blogs about social media. I have written about Twitter once already and this post is in response to the huge amount of feedback and questions I received about Twitter.

As you know by now, I love Twitter. You can find me on Twitter @TheGayVegans or @FundraiserDan. I use each account for different purposes.

It is easy to create a Twitter account. On their main web page, simply create an account by filling in your name, email address and password. Create a password that is secure as I frequently see Twitter accounts hacked. Once you have done that, you'll be brought to another page and you can finish creating your account. Add a photo and you're good to go.

Some people use their real name as their Twitter name, I use our blog name. If you are going to use Twitter to promote a cause, think of a name that matches your cause.

Once you are set, you will have zero follower and zero that you are following. Like many things in life, Twitter is as good as the time and effort you put into it. Use the search area and look for people or groups you might be interested. For @TheGayVegans, I started with a search titled "vegan" and I was on my way. If you want to search under what folks are tweeting about, click on Discover at the top of the page and enter the same word. For example, if you type in "vegan" you will get a list of tweets that include that word.

You will immediately start seeing hash tags (#) in people's tweets. This means their tweet can be brought up in the Discover page for people doing a search using that topic. For example, if I end my tweet with #Lakewood (where we live), anyone doing a search for Lakewood will bring up our tweet. Another example is that every time I post one of our blog posts on Twitter, I add the hash tags #gay #vegan #blog so anyone searching using gay, vegan, or blog will bring up my tweet containing my latest blog post.

It really is simple, and fun, and a great way to learn and meet folks from all over the world. Many times I use Twitter as my news feed, as people I follow post news items they have come across. Vegan? There is a huge community on Twitter? Conservative? You guessed it, huge community? Same with communities I am part of: equality, human rights, animal rights, fundraising, etc.

I hope this post answers some of the questions brought up from the last past.

Thank you so much for reading!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Being a voice in your state legislature

Every day I hear or read about people who complain about something that their governor just signed into law or that their state legislature is discussing.

This week, Iowa's governor signed into law what many groups I support refer to as the ag-gag law. It is now illegal in Iowa for people to go undercover to report how animals are treated in slaughterhouses and animal production plants. And no, there is no live TV feed from these places that makes undercover unnecessary. The deal now is that we won't know of any inhumane actions against the animals unless someone breaks the law. If you have followed Mercy For Animals you know that inhumane acts occur on a daily basis in countless factory farms and slaughterhouses.

I called the governor asking him not to sign this bill. So did thousands of others. Democrats and Republicans. People of all faiths and of no faith. Veg folk and non veg folks.

The point of this blog post isn't really the ag-gag law. It's the idea that those of us who are a voice for the voiceless must use that voice in our state legislators. It's vital that we know who represents us in the state house and the state senate, that they know who we are, and that they know our opinions on what matters most to us.

I realize many activists don't vote and they each have personal reasons why they don't vote. I haven't missed an election, on every level, since I was 18. Yet you can be one who chooses not to vote and still be a voice in your state house or senate.

I'm not sure how many Iowans called their representatives to ask them to vote no on this bill. I'm equally unsure as to how many hard-core voices for the voiceless (whoever "the voiceless" is to you) know who represents them at the state level.

If you are interested in finding out, check out this website:

http://votesmart.org/


All you have to do is type in your zip code and the site will tell you who represents you from the local level to the national level. Once you find out who represents you, send them a nice email introducing yourself. Be prepared to not always be in agreement with those who represent you. What fun would that be!

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear what you find out about your elected officials!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Simply vegan

We have been very fortunate in meeting wonderful people all over the world through this blog, and we frequently receive news from people who are just embarking into the vegan life.

They are usually overwhelmed.

There is a lot out there. A lot of food choices, a lot of definitions around veganism and vegetarianism, a lot of judgment on being abolitionist or animal welfare, and a brand new world filled with love and compassion towards all living beings.

I always try to focus on two things when talking with people who are making the jump into veganism: being vegan is so easy AND we are all on our own path. These two simple ideas can make the whole transition to this amazing way of living a little easier.

In 2012 there are literally hundreds of vegan food blogs. Take your pick. Some of our favorites are listed on our blog site. There are also new vegan cookbooks being published all the time. When Mike and I met my mainstay for dinner was veggie burgers or vegan burritos with tater tots. We lovingly refer to this type of meal as "Dan's meal" and every once in a while Mike will say "Let's have a Dan's meal tonight" to my delight!

It's also very easy to not use processed foods and simply cook up some quinoa and then stir-fry kale, swiss chard, red peppers, and garlic in olive oil and top the quinoa off with that. Delish, and easy, and cheap.

Regarding the "we are all on our own path" part, I find myself a lot happier when I am living in Live and Let Live mode. That doesn't mean I cease being a voice for the voiceless, it means the contrary. That I do all I can to be a voice for the voiceless and then let folks make their own decision. This can be hugely important when someone is newly vegan. I have listened to people who are filled with shame by accidentally thinking a product was vegan when it wasn't. The bigger picture is that they have made a decision to be vegan, usually for animal rights and animal cruelty issues, and they are well on their way to not only living a compassionate life, but one that includes compassion on their dinner plate.

I have been vegan for 16 years and Mike has been vegan for 8 years. For both us it is a wonderful way to live. We will tell people why we are vegan and how wonderful it is for us, the animals, and the environment, and then they can make decisions on how they want to move forward in becoming vegan. Supporting them with delicious food choices and giving them a break as they ease into veganism becomes a huge deal for them!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The gay, vegan road trip

This past summer was when I decided to create The Gay Vegans blog. I had been writing a fundraising blog for over a year and after deciding I wanted to keep that just about fundraising and not my personal life, I created The Gay Vegans.

Mike and I have amazing families. Families that are scattered all over the country. SO last June we decided to go visit Mike's mom near Daytona Beach, FL, and we drove. Yep, round trip it was 5,050 miles!

We love road trips and this one was no exception. We went from Denver to Memphis, TN and visited the National Civil Rights Museum which I had wanted to do for a long time. If you ever have a chance to visit that museum we highly recommend it! And lucky us, as we exited the museum (the annex part across the street from the main museum) we saw a chicken and waffle place. They wouldn't have anything vegan would they? They sure did! They had Boca crumbles on any salad as well as Boca burgers, and they had fries and fried okra. Oh, and SWEET TEA! Oh my, it was perfect. A nice vegan lunch with amazingly friendly people on a 101 degrees day with my husband and sweet tea!

We stopped in Jackson,MS both on the way there and back. The reason was Rainbow Natural Grocery. On our way south we stopped and had incredible vegan food for lunch. Their in-house restaurant was closed but they make a bunch of items before they close and sell them as grab-n-go for the rest of the day. We grabbed a lot and stayed. And feasted! All of the food was so good we just had to swing by on our way home. And, like every place we ate at throughout the south, everyone was so friendly. We might have doubled the population of gay vegans in Mississippi while there, but we loved it!

More on this road trip another post. The reason I wanted to write this particular post was to encourage our readers to take a road trip and, for our vegan or vegetarian readers, to not worry about food as there are a ton of choices out there.

By the way, our next trip is in June to Michigan, via St. Louis and Chicago!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Prairie dogs - the killing continues

When I moved to Colorado in 1998 from Virginia, I had never seen a prairie dog. I'm sure I had heard of them but honestly knew nothing about them. After a few weeks in Colorado I started seeing them as we took trips up to Boulder. They are indeed cute. And so much more.

One of my favorite colonies was one that I could watch from the highway between Denver and Boulder. I loved watching them. There is now a parking lot where they used to play, roam, nuzzle, and squeak.

One of my biggest memories of being a voice for prairie dogs was when a church north of Denver decided to kill the prairie dogs on their property. That week I stood in the middle of their property amongst beautiful creatures that, because of poisoning, had died bleeding from the inside out. It was a horrible sight. We held protests at the church and had conversations with them as we talked about animal cruelty and they talked about Jesus.

Tomorrow there is another protest against the upcoming slaughter of prairie dogs in Frederick, Colorado. Their death warrants are sealed and no doubt their fate. People will gather to protest the upcoming slaughter.

I realize this is not an easy issue. Towns and cities have concerns. There are huge environmental issues here. The bottom line for me is that we as a culture cannot continue to kill just because animals are in our way. This is a conversation that happens all of the time throughout the west. Some say that prairie dogs are pests, just rodents in the way that spread disease. They are vital part of our eco-system. To me, they are living beings that go through extreme torture and pain when being poisoned just because they live in an area that is inconvenient to humans.

This is a great example of the importance of knowing one's elected officials. People who live in Frederick and know who represents them on city council can be a great voice for the voiceless. I know that I write about this a lot, and any activist who knows who represents them, and connects with those people about issues important to them, have a stronger voice when issues like these arise. My experience is that it might not change the result, but it definitely makes people realize that there are other opinions and perhaps other ways of doing things.

For more information on prairie dogs:

http://prairiedogcoalition.org/

Thank you for reading!