Prop 8 protest

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Playing well with others

Mike and I had an amazing weekend over the Memorial Day holiday as we sold vegan goods and vegan cookbooks at the Boulder Creek Festival in our Cruelty-Free World booth. We were honestly blown away by the amount of people who came by to see us: old friends, fellow activists, and a ton of people who follow this blog or are connected with us on Twitter of Facebook.

Our hearts were full. Still are. We are incredibly grateful for all of the support we get.

Our booth can also be a lightning rod for those opposed to gay people and those who are fearful of vegans (or veganism, vegetarianism, anything like that). We got our fair share of it this weekend.

Mike and I talk about this a lot. Not only the negativity we get from those who do not know us, but what we get from other activists. We don't see it as much in the human rights world, HIV/AIDS world or LGBTQ world compared to the animal rights/vegan world. Our hope is that we can get along enough with others to support other activists and to rock-n-roll with making the world a better place for all living beings.

As Mike said to another veg couple judging us, "we're all on the same side!".

There is a lot of judgement in activist communities. As many of our readers are new to veganism, animal rights, or activism in general, we suggest you stay away from this. Not everyone is going to work like you work, or agree with how your activism looks. We always think that it is better to keep our eyes on the prize(s) and not engage in petty judgement or not being nice to others. Even when unkindness hits us right in the face.

The millions of animals and humans who suffer daily need a strong, passionate voice as they have no voice. When we focus on that, good happens. Nothing good comes from judging others or being unkind to others.

There are many disagreements in activist communities. They are not as strong as what we all want in ending suffering, torture, pain and fear.

Thank you for reading this and thank you for your support. I love feedback. You can post a comment or email me at vegandude@msn.com

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Going vegan

This blog has given me the opportunity to meet many people who have recently begun the vegan path. It has been wonderful getting to know people as they decide to take their overall compassion and make it include what is on their dinner plate.

I have been vegan for 16 years. My how time flies when you're having fun!

The process is pretty much the same, with a TON of more vegan options these days! When I became vegan the typical "veg" option in a restaurant was a portabello mushroom sandwich. I had so many of them back then that these days I stay away from them.

What helped me in the early days was trying to connect with other vegans and checking out what they ate. I was fortunate to have started out in Norfolk, VA where there were already potlucks and an annual animal rights conference (that just so happened to be at the hotel I worked at!).

It was a process. I was extremely fortunate that I didn't have a battalion of people judging me at every step. The folks I turned to were compassionate towards all living beings, including humans. They offered support, recipes, ideas, and a way of life that has never stopped giving back more to me than I could possibly give.

These days when people ask for help I try to keep it simple. Watch what you eat (Capt'n Crunch is vegan), Try cooking at home more often. Check out vegan cookbooks and pick your favorite. Find a potluck or a meetup. Ask the manager at the grocery store you shop to carry items that will support your new path. Go online and read blogs (like this one!), especially those that have recipes and ideas around what kinds of foods to make sure you include in your meals. We have links here to many such blogs.

Finally, I want anyone thinking about going vegan to know that we have met vegans from all parts of the country (and the world), from small towns to big cities, in the most rural place in the South to Alaska. Wherever you are it is indeed possible to do this!

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear from you: vegandude@msn.com

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cruelty-Free World




In the spring of 2006 Mike and I had become fed up with always having to buy cool vegan items and accessories online. It had become a joke ordering a vegan belt and having to return one that didn't fit. Also, we knew that there were so many companies out there creating amazing vegan purses, belts, wallets, bags, etc. that if people could just see them in person they would realize that one could buy gorgeous accessories without harming animals.

Cruelty-Free World was born.

We knew we didn't want a brick and mortar shop, rather we would sell at markets and festivals. Our first step was to introduce our product line to our friends and see what they thought.  About 75 friends joined us and let us know what they thought about all of the products we were going to sell. We got wonderful feedback about price and which products people would be interested in buying.

One month later we introduced CFW to the world at the 2006 Boulder Creek Festival. Since then we made a decision to donate 100% of our profit to animal rights and human rights groups. We get to meet great people, have lots (literally thousands over the years) of conversations about veganism and support groups making the world a better place for all living beings.This has meant thousands of dollars to big, national groups as well as small, local groups and animal shelters. All by having fun selling the best vegan products.

We are totally grateful to the companies that supply us with the best vegan products: Splaff, Queen Bee Creations and Hempy's.  In the last year we have really increased our sales in vegan cookbooks, and always try to offer our favorites which now include raw and gluten-free vegan cookbooks (more about the cookbooks we sell in another post). What an incredible feeling it is when a non-veg family leaves our booth with a vegan cookbook or two! And it's even better when they email us all excited by how their meals are turning out!

This year we created knew banners that have the CFW logo but also "home of The Gay Vegans blog". I'm curious to see how that will affect foot traffic. Well to be honest, I am curious AND excited.

The 2012 Boulder Creek Festival is Memorial Day weekend in Boulder, CO. If you're in the area we would LOVE to see you! We are booth 802!

Thanks for reading! Thanks to all those who have supported Cruelty-Free World! And if you might be able to come and say hi in Boulder let us know: vegandude@msn.com



Friday, May 18, 2012

Only two weeks of vacation?

Lately I have been having a conversation with others who work in the non-profit world about vacation time.

I know, this doesn't really relate to being gay or vegan. It does relate to working for human rights and working to making the world a better place for all human beings.

In this world of "family values" and looking at for the "middle"class, why do many people still only get two weeks of paid vacation per year?

Is it a poverty issue? Meaning do those in lower paying jobs or those who are considered the working poor get two weeks and others get more?

Many questions, few answers. I believe that people should have more vacation, it's just that simple. And it seems to me, not a professional human resources guy nor an economist, that our entire society would be much better off when people have a little more time with family and friends.

I am going to continue the conversation. I am going to start asking everyone how much paid time vacation they get.

Join me. Well, join me if you believe that people should get more than two weeks of paid vacation. I say people should start off with three weeks of vacation.

Your feedback would be wonderful.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In memory of 37 sailors



It's been 25 years.

May 17th will be the 25th anniversary of the USS Stark tragedy.

I was 21 years old. Enjoying an evening out in Manama, Bahrain. I came back to my ship and it was gone. The USS Conyngham had left to go support the Stark. We were instructed to board the USS LaSalle not really knowing what was happening.

Two Exocet missiles had been fired by an Iraqi air force jet. One exploded. 37 men died. 21 were wounded.

Arriving early the next morning I was shocked to see the Stark listing with a huge amount of smoke coming out of her. Once we got back to the Conyngham many of us immediately headed to the Stark. People were exhausted. Body bags were filled. Fires still needed to be fought. The smell shocked me. Everyone just jumped in. The fires continued for almost 24 hours from the moment of impact.

My one friend on the Stark survived. Three of his co-workers did not.

I never know when a memory is going to hit me from that day. My thoughts and memories of that day run deep and all over the place, as they do for anyone who was there.

I've always remembered. My shipmates rocked it that day. I saw bravery and courage and selflessness.

This blog post is in memory of the 37 people who were killed aboard the USS Stark on May 17, 1987.

Doran Bolduc, seaman, 29
Bradley Brown, bosun’s mate, 28
Jeffrey Calkins, fire controlman, 20
Mark Caouette, seaman, 26
John Ciletta, seaman, 21
Bryan Clinfelter, seaman recruit, 19
Antonio Daniels, operations specialist, 21
Christopher DeAngelis, electronics technician, 23
James Dunlap, communications specialist, 20
Steven Erwin, sonar technician, 22
Jerry Farr, radioman, 36
Vernon Foster, senior chief petty officer, 33
Dexter Grissette, radioman-seaman’s apprentice, 19
William Hansen, fire control technician, 22
Daniel Homicki, gunner’s mate, 36
Kenneth Janusik, operations specialist, 19
Steven Kendall, operations specialist, 30
Stephen Kiser, electronics mate, 36
Ronnie Lockett, signalman, 30
Thomas MacMullen, gunner’s mate, 30
Charles Moller, electronic warfare specialist, 27
Jeffrey Phelps, seaman recruit, 21
Randy Pierce, data systems technician, 28
James Plonsky, gunner’s mate, 22
Kelly Quick, electronics technician, 20
Earl Ryals, signalman, 25
Robert Shippee, fire control technician, 35
Jeffrey Sibley, signalman-seaman’s apprentice, 21
Lee Stephens, operations specialist, 23
James Stevens, torpedoman, 27
Martin Supple, electronics technician, 27
Gregory Tweady, fire control technician, 36
Vincent Ulmer, seaman, 21
Joseph Watson, electronic warfare specialist, 25
Wayne Weaver, electronics technician, 22
Terrance Weldon, operations specialist, 20
Lloyd Wilson, fireman apprentice, 24

Thank you for reading.

My email address is vegandude@msn.com if you'd rather send comments directly to me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Still no civil unions in Colorado

Some of this post might be repetition of the previous civil unions post. After being at the Colorado capitol last night for the committee vote, I felt that I should update our readers about the process.

The governor called a special session and civil unions was one of several bills to be heard during this session. Even though the bill had passed through three other committees, the Republican Speaker of the House sent it to yet another committee, apparently to be killed.

After one hour of pro testimony and one hour of anti testimony, Rep Mark Ferrandino gave a passionate plea to pass this so the whole house could vote. By the way, it would have passed if it had reached the whole house.

Listening to an hour of anti-gay banter was not easy. Every person opposed to the bill spoke in the name of Jesus. One even said that if Rep Ferrandino married a woman (he is in a relationship with his male partner), that he could also have the same benefits as straight, married couples. Another thing I heard quoted from "a study" is that men who are married to women work harder. I chuckled at this.

The vote was 5-4 killing the bill. Even a Republican house member who said he has a gay son voted no. So it happened just as the republican leadership had planned it to happen.

I realize that not all of our blog readers care about this, and I truly have appreciated the support around our fight with civil unions. I want everyone who reads our blog to know that this can be a huge lesson learned for ALL activists, whether your main fight is for veganism, animal rights, human rights, the environment, homelessness, etc., everyone should have a personal relationship with the man or woman who represents them in their state house.

We all must use our voice.

If you would like to know who represents you in your state house, this website can tell you: http://votesmart.org/

Using our voice can make a HUGE difference.

Today is a new day and the anger that hit nerves for me yesterday while listening to the anti-gay banter has invigorated me (not that I really needed that) to work harder so that Democrats win the state house in November. We only need one seat. Then civil unions can get a fair hearing. The Republican leadership proved that will not happen on their watch.

Thanks for reading. If you are in the position to donate a few bucks to a group that really rocked it in Colorado for civil unions, go here: http://www.one-colorado.org/

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

No civil unions in Colorado

I am writing today heartbroken with what I witnessed at the Colorado capitol last night as the civil unions bill died because the leadership in our state house would not bring it to the floor for a vote.

I write today even more reminded that I am a second-class citizen.

I write today in firm knowledge that the social conservatives in Colorado have a power that wreaks of inequality, bigotry, and injustice.

If you follow us on Facebook or twitter you got a lot of information last night. I tried to pass along information as I got it, or as I understood it. I was very fortunate to have been invited on the house floor by my state rep Sue Schafer and equally grateful to my upcoming state rep Max Tyler (because of district changes) for keeping me posted on how he felt things were going.

This civil unions bill was not perfect. It was not full marriage equality. That will only come when the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned on a federal level, and even then it will mean a lot of work. Yet it was a step. And if it had been allowed a vote on the house floor, it would of passed. At least six republican reps said they would vote yes.

I must admit that it was hopeful to see people in the gallery area shouting "shame on you" to Republican lawmakers when it was clear that no vote would be allowed. A mostly passive community might ignite. I certainly hope so.

For those who want what happened with civil unions to ignite action a couple of things need to happen:

People have got to know who represents them at the state level and get to know them. Make sure they know you are for equality. Both in the state house and state senate. If you don't know you can go to http://votesmart.org/

If you live in a state house district where the Democrat is in a safe seat, volunteer for and donate to a campaign in a district that is a challenge. I am thinking more of Colorado with this idea as I believe the only way the house will vote on this is if the leadership is Democratic.

It is vital that we gay and lesbian folks constantly remind our friends, family, and co-workers that we are second-class citizens. I spoke with several people over the past week who were shocked that Mike and I did not have the same rights as they did with their spouse.

Donate to One Colorado http://www.one-colorado.org/ They are definitely our voice at the state capitol and I watched their staff ROCK IT. Even a small donation goes  along way.

Today is the last day for our state legislature in Colorado. They will not reconvene until January of next year unless a special session is called (which I have no idea will happen or not).

Thanks for reading. And thank you for your support!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Another meatless Monday

Are Meatless Monday's becoming all the rage?

I think so!

Everywhere people are writing about it, posting about it, blogging about, and mentioning it in conversation. The premise is easy: don't eat meat on Monday. Once you see how easy it was then don't eat meat on the next Monday. And so on.

Easy indeed.

Breakfast, if you eat breakfast, is probably the easiest. Cereal and toast. Or a smoothie. Or pancakes! If you want to be a little creative and don't need to rush, do a tasty tofu scramble with hash browns and toast. There are hundreds of recipes online for scrambled tofu!

Lunch is just as easy. Within one block of my office there is a Mexican restaurant where I can get a bean and rice and veggie burrito; a Mediterranean place where I can get hummus and veggies; and a Whole Foods market where my choices are endless. I can also bring a couple of sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly or a mock-meat (like Tofurky slices) sandwich.

Dinner. If I want to stay home Mike and I can think of many scrumptious meals. Some take longer than others. A simple stir fry is always easy and with kale, spinach, Swiss chard or even beets added to it the meal is pretty healthy. Top that onto pasta or rice. Add a salad if you wish. And if we want to dine out we can go to a local Asian cafe or Indian restaurant have a ton of choices.

It really is easy. And best of all, your choice to not eat meat for one day has health, environmental, and animal welfare consequences, all good ones!

Try it. Invite friends to join you! Let us know how it went.

For more support, check out any of the groups and vegan food bloggers we have linked here. Lots of great information and ideas.

Thank you for reading!



Thursday, May 3, 2012

When do I get to vote on your marriage?

This afternoon at 1:30pm at the Colorado state capitol the House Judiciary Committee will vote as to whether or not the current civil unions bill will be allowed to go to a vote from the entire state house, a vote that would most likely ensure a victory for those who support civil unions for gay folks.

Last year the committee voted down the measure so it never had a chance to be voted on by all House members. All Republicans on the committee voted no and all the Democrats on the committee voted yes.

Perhaps the same thing will happen this year even though many Republicans around the state have come out in support of civil unions.

Mike and I are married and aren't really interested in a civil union. Since our marriage is constitutionally banned in the state of Colorado this is totally a step in the right direction. But only a step.

The comments around gay marriage, marriage equality, and civil unions are pretty similar, especially in the silliness category. Of course if this didn't affect my marriage I would most likely feel the silliness rather than the outrage I feel. Examples are:

Save marriage. I love this one. From whom? Gay folk? Seriously? Why not ban hetero divorce?

Why spend so much time on this and not on helping animals? I love this one. Typically the activist is married. As if I can't do both!

I can't think of two men having sex. Then don't. And don't mess with our rights.

You are an abomination and you need to seek Jesus. This could be a blog topic for weeks. I disagree with this and definitely believe that Jesus loves gay people. And to be clear, that Jesus loves gay people who have sex.

You are a faggot. I love this one too. When one does not have a clue what else to say or any idea why I shouldn't have equal rights in marriage, this is always a great way to show their dissatisfaction.

You weren't born that way; it's unnatural. Lady Gaga says I was, and I also believe that. Plus, when did you decide you were straight?

And so on.

I'll be paying attention to what happens today. And next Tuesday when people in North Carolina vote to add a gay marriage ban to their state's constitution. I'm sure there will be more to come.

Thanks for reading. If you believe in marriage equality please let your elected folks know.