Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Our 8th wedding anniversary

Mike and I at our family pre-wedding party two nights before the big day.
I wanted to let all of our readers and supporters of our blog know that today, April 30th, Mike and I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary. We were so fortunate to be married in a ceremony we called "a loving act of civil disobedience" with 160 friends and family joining us. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

I am completely in love with Mike and every day am grateful that he is my husband and that we are a family.

A cool thing about this anniversary is that we will be celebrating with hundreds of gay and lesbian couples tonight as we count down the hours until civil unions become legal at midnight. We will be eating and dancing at One Colorado's party, then at midnight watch as couples go to city hall to get their civil union.

We have decided to wait to become civil unioned for a day when some of our family can join us.

Civil unions are not marriages. Yet for us in Colorado, they will be the first legal recognition of same-sex couples. The next step is to overturn the state constitutional ban against same-sex marriage and then, after that battle, fight for full marriage equality.

Meanwhile, Mike and I act as if we were legally married. We work at our marriage and remind each other how important he is. We both try to be a voice for the voiceless and we try to show love to all others.

One of the many reasons we love our blog and the community we have built with it is that we have gotten to meet so many amazing people, including other gay, vegan couples. We are SO grateful for all the kindness, love and support.

One day marriage equality will be a reality. Until that day, please stick with us to fight the good fight. It will be wonderful when we can finish this fight and put even more energy to the education around animal cruelty and animal rights and strengthen our voices for those killed, tortured and living in fear just to become dinner.

Thanks y'all!

With a huge amount of love,

Dan and Mike

Our honeymoon; back-country trip at Yellowstone National Park.

Monday, April 29, 2013

An all-vegan cafe in Denver - Hello Beet Box!

We have been enjoying Beet Box's tasty vegan delights for over a year now. We met them and fell in love with their baked goods at the first Neat Market here in Denver. Since that moment we eagerly awaited the time we could walk into their establishment, eat vegan treats, and take some home. You see, they were a bakery only, with no store front.

Until two weeks ago.

We are ecstatic!

Brought to us by Mike and Blair, Beet Box is located at 1030 E. 22nd Avenue, just east of downtown Denver. Their hours are 7:00am - 7:00pm daily.

Some of our favorites are their savory quiches, the blueberry/lemon scone, the chocolate croissant and the plain croissants. Yes, vegan croissants. And they rock!

They also make cakes and other special-event items to order. You can check out mroe information about that here: http://www.beetboxdenver.com/

From their website: We use mostly organic/non-GMO ingredients in all of our foods. We never use artificial food colorings, preservatives, or hydrogenated oils. Our bakery is great for egg and dairy allergies, and we can easily accommodate nut and gluten allergies, too. Please be sure to mention any allergy concerns when placing your order.

I have been there at all different times and have always had several items to choose from. I'm sure that in time it is only going to get better. And Mike and Blair told me that they hope to have breakfast and lunch items soon.

So swing on by and support our newest vegan adventure in town!

Thank you for reading!

PS... I couldn't possibly write a complete post without sharing this list of pastries offered:


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Brunch at Linger

Linger is our favorite place t eat in Denver. I have written posts about them before, and our affinity for them boils down to two things: incredible vegan food and amazing hospitality.

Brunch is a great time for friends and family to gather for good food and good conversation while having time afterwards to enjoy a whole day. Now you can do brunch at Linger!

Last week I was living in dream land when I was invited to enjoy a press tasting of their new brunch. Linger now serves brunch from 10:00am - 2:00pm on Sundays.

Because I have been away from the drinking culture for awhile, I had forgotten that a good brunch had good drinks. I didn't try the three, $3.00 cocktails offered at brunch as a special yet everyone around me did and enjoyed them. The $3.00 cocktails include the Linger Mimosa, Bloody Mary and the Coconut Fizz. For those of us who don't drink, they also make delish mocktails.

I started out with the sopapilla and could have just eaten those for the rest of the tasting. Light, delicious and a great addition to any brunch. And available vegan. Two please!

A great accompaniment to the sopapilla is the Anti Milkshake. Naturally vegan. Made with almonds so if you have an allergy you can try the Green Gringo Citrus Horchata which is also vegan.

Next I tried the Chorizo Tacos which are made with Soyrizo and topped off with an avocado aioli. I instantly realized that like their vegan duck buns for dinner, I could easily eat two or three of these at a sitting.

A brunch offering that is similar to their dinner menu is their Breakfast Dosa. We love the Dosa at dinner time as this version is perfect. Complete with a little maple syrup and it's the perfect addition to your table full of brunch delicacies.

Still hungry? You can simply add a side of Brussels Sprouts!

One of the many things we love about Linger is that their menu changes frequently. Don't worry. They always have a wonderful assortment of vegan deliciousness. My fingers are crossed for a vegan French Toast! Mmmm.

Linger is at 2030 West 30th Avenue in Denver's LoHi neighborhood. Their phone number is 303.993.3120. Reservations are highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Create a vegan pop up market where you live!

It's the third Sunday of the month and in Denver that means Neat Market day.

I think it's been over a year since a group of people who were already serving a monthly vegan dinner decided to create the Neat Market. Vegan vendors of all varieties come to sell their goods. Well, everything is a suggested donation. Hundreds of people come. Everyone leaves happy. Some of us leave stuffed because we not only shop, we eat.

Imagine being able to meet friends, grab the newest vegan drink with a great sweet and maybe even lunch. Then go meet the person who is selling vegan cheese right next to the guy who has just started a tempeh company. Vegan marshmallows dipped in chocolate, of course!

I love the Neat Market. And every time we go I think that this is something that could be happening in any city where there is a vegan community.

It can be some work: finding a place, spreading the word, finding enough vendors that make it worth the trip, etc. Yet it is a wonderful way to build community and spread the message of vegan awesomeness. We have met incredible people doing incredible things. Oh, and every month there is a non-profit that can raise money and awareness for their cause.

We are all about building community as a way to be a strong voice for the voiceless. This is a perfect way to that. It's like having a mini veg fest every month. The bonus is that every time we go we get to try something we hadn't tried before. And we get to watch vegan businesses grow and thrive.

I have planned a lot of events. They take time and commitment. And when you're working on an event that can do so much good like a vegan market, it seems a little easier.

You don't have to live a big city. You need to know some other vegans, hopefully a few that have been creating delish vegan food or awesome vegan products. That's really it. The rest will come about with your passion and compassion.

We would love to hear about vegan pop up markets where you live.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lessons learned: Training for a half marathon

I have written a couple of blog posts about my training as I prepare to run the half marathon portion of the Colfax Marathon on May 19th. At 7:00am.

For those of you who, like me just a couple of months ago had no idea, a half marathon is 13.1 miles.

Two months ago I could barely run one mile. One my first training run six weeks ago I thought I wasn't going to make it after 2.5 miles. I could barely catch a breathe and I felt parts of my legs and feet that I had never felt. Last week I ran a 12.25 mile training run!

I am running this to raise money for Urban Peak, the amazing non-profit I am privileged to work for, that serves youth experiencing homelessness.

While training, I have learned so much, both around running and about life, and have been reminded of many things I already knew but may not think about often. So here you go:

First, about running:

Stretching is SO important. Really stretching. Find a friend who is already a runner and ask them to teach you. It makes a HUGE difference.

Invest in solid running shoes. Go to a place that can video you running and then will offer you shoes on what they see. My shoes were on sale by 20% and cost me $85.00. It's a lot (for me) but totally worth it.

My best, most comfortable and longest training runs have been in the morning after a good night's sleep. I drink lots of water starting when I wake, and drink a smoothie with kale, blueberries, flax seed and Arbonne protein powder. For some reason the combination of all of these helps me run longer.

My average pace on my 12.25 mile run was 13:45. That is slow for many but just perfect for me. I want to finish, that's all.

Music is important for me. I created a latino pop station on Pandora and Juanes, Carlos Vives, Diego Torres, Mana, Shakira and Bacilos get me going.

Have fun. Make it fun. I run around Sloan's Lake in Denver and love it. All of the other runners, cute dogs, and views of the lake and the mountains.

Now, about life in general:

My friends, family and husband are the best ever. I feel their love and support on a daily basis, and training for this run has been no different. Several of my friends are runners and they been huge in showing me the way.

I would do anything for causes I am passionate about. A couple of months ago I would have NEVER of considered training for a half-marathon, or any type of run. Throw in an opportunity to support young people who are experiencing homelessness and I am there!

I can do so much physically. At 47 I consider myself fit, but never thought I could run distance. This experience has taught me that if I work at it, I can accomplish a lot in trying to stay fit.

One day at a time. I have been trying to live like this for a long time. Most days I am successful. Training for a half marathon forces me to do it.

Don't quit. I know, I've even written blog posts about this. Never give up. You can do it.

And you don't have to do it by yourself. As I said at the start of this, family and friends and even new friends can help in so many ways.

An open mind works best, like a parachute, when open. I'm sure some of you have seen this bumper sticker. Amen. I agree. Being open to others experiences and opinions and feedback makes life so much much easier. And better.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 15, 2013

A follow up to "Vegans dating non-vegans?"

With almost two years of writing a blog. we have been able to create conversation about many things and engage people who want to be a voice for the voiceless.

No blog post has created as much conversation as the blog post we posted on April 13th titled "Vegans dating non-vegans?". We also posted another blog post soon after the dating post as we gathered more information on the meningitis killing gay men in NYC and West Hollywood. These posts brought us the highest readership in 24 hours, 980! Holy cow!

In regards to the dating post, we received so much feedback and so many stories shared that I just could not believe it!

First, thanks to all of you who shared what you would do, or are doing.

I wanted to write that blog post because I hear this topic talked about a lot. My experience and feelings about it are different than many, as Mike was not vegan when we met. This April 24th, his birthday, will be his 9 year anniversary of being vegan.

What I loved about many of the comments, posts and emails we received were that our readers have a strong opinion of which way they would go, yet felt that this was very personal. Many also said it was about overall compassion.

I'd also like to say that I do not buy people any type of animal product. If I am treating, the meal is vegan. I definitely get that part of the thought process, and in dating I would not be any different. I also wouldn't have meat prepared in my home at any time when I was dating.

It's not easy. I wanted to write that post because of the several times I had read posts from loving, beautiful people who were being challenged in dating a non-vegan. My thought isn't to break up, but to see where there are more things in common. Just like I say at many protests, we all have more in common than not.

For Mike, I was the first vegan he ever sat across the table from. He fell in love with me because of my compassion for all living beings (including humans) and my passion for living. He thought I was cute too!

So many, many thanks to all of you who read the post and who entered the conversation with us. We are totally grateful and even more so are grateful that you even read our blog!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bacterial meningitis killing gay men

I just read a story about a gay man in West Hollywood, CA who contracted meningitis and is now brain dead. He was fine one day, then became ill, hospitalized and now will most likely die.

I have read similar stories about gay men in New York City, as recent as last week. After looking up some information, seven gay men have died of meningitis since 2010. There are 13 reported cases of meningitis just this year in New York City. There seems to be an out break right now.

There is a vaccine.

"Although the vaccine can help prevent the disease, it is not used to treat it. Even if diagnosed early and treated with antibiotics, the disease can still sometimes cause permanent brain damage, hearing loss, kidney failure or even death." From an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I am not a doctor. And I am just learning. But I feel I need to do my part as a gay blogger to get this word out.

If you are sexually active and not in a monogamous relationship, please read more about this and consider getting the vaccine.  The vaccine is 80-90% effective and in most cases one dose works. Those with HIV and some others may need two doses, over a period of a couple of months.

From what I have read, this can be spread through sex or even kissing.

In New York City, the city's health officials recently put out a warning. They have urged men who "regularly have intimate contact with other men" to get vaccinated for meningitis. 

This brings back memories of the 1980's to me. The difference is that for the cases reported, the cause of death is known. And most importantly, there is a vaccine.

This may just be a small outbreak. The fact that deaths have now occurred in areas with big gay male populations may or may not end up being very relevant. Yet, I just had to write about this.

Again, no medical background. All I have presented here came from reading articles online for the past hour or so. We must get the word out.

Please spread the word.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Vegans dating non-vegans?

I was on Twitter today and read a tweet from a young woman who is vegan and is having challenges in her relationship with her boyfriend who is not vegan.

In the 17 years of being vegan I have heard this a lot, and have even heard that people who are vegan should not date people who are not vegan.

That is super crazy for me.

In the gay male world of Colorado there would have been slim pickings for dating if I had stuck to only men who were vegan. Fortunately for me I never asked guys if they were vegan before a date. I would have never dated and fallen in love with Mike had I chosen to only date vegan men.

I totally get the allure of dating only vegan people. It shows they are loving, compassionate and at least on some levels have something in common with you. The again, people choose to go vegan for many reasons. Mine was to do as least harm as possible while experiencing this thing we call life. I want no part in animal cruelty.

For Mike and I, we met at our church. Our first date was a movie, dinner and then dancing. For dinner we went to PF Changs and he ordered his first on-purpose vegan meal. He didn't really know what a vegan was before we started dating and was curious.

For me and dating it was always trying to be in the moment. Of course if it ever got to the point where I would live with somebody and they were not vegan I would have to ask for rules around no former living beings in the house. I never had to do that.

My ex became veg before we moved in together. Mike became vegan long before we even talked about living together or even getting married.

A little over a month after we began dating Mike became vegetarian for my Valentine's Day gift. He told me while we were on a sweet date night. He had not really eaten meat in front of me since we began dating, maybe once, but I don't remember it if he did.

So it boils down to mutual respect. If you know that eating meat bothers me, and you are interested in dating me, perhaps you won't eat meat in front of me. It's really not that big of a deal. Especially if you totally dig me!

Mike continued being a vegetarian for a couple of months. Then, in April, he became vegan as a birthday gift to himself. Not for me, for him and the animals.

There are many people out there who might be an amazing date/time/life partner for you. They may not have all of the information around animal cruelty that you do. They may have never had a conversation with someone about veganism or what veganism even is.

I say that if you are single and meet someone you think right off is pretty nice, go for it.

Respect. Love. Compassion. And of course passion! It all doesn't come instantly, but with the right person it comes.

Thank you so much for reading this! I would totally love your feedback!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rutgers and animal rights - stopping cowards

For those of you who read my posts about the Rutgers basketball coach this week, calling for him to be fired, you might have been surprised to read about sports in one of my blog posts. With such violence and anti-gay slurs coming from a person in power, I felt I had to write about it.

But what we saw in the videos from Rutgers we have seen before.

If, like us, you support all of the groups out there who do undercover work to give animals in factory farms and in labs a voice, the actions and abuse of power coming from a coward is nothing new.

Recently Mercy for Animals has made headlines with their undercover work. I decided not to show a video (Mercy For Animals is linked on our main page if you'd like to take a look). Their videos have a lot in common with the Rutgers video: people in power doing unspeakable things to those they are charged to care for. In the MFA videos we see, time after time, terrified animals being kicked, thrown, tortured and sometimes killed. By cowards.

In some stats, legislators are talking about passing bills to stop undercover investigations. In Iowa this is now law. These so called "ag gag" bills are meant to keep people who care about animals away, to keep profit up, and to be able to treat their product as they see fit.

I think "ag gag" is going easy on them. I prefer calling them "coward protection" laws.

Whether it is a group of factory farm workers beating a piglet with a shovel, teens bulling a perceived gay student or a basketball coach who makes $700,000 a year to perpetrate violence and fear on young players, cowards exist among us.

They can be stopped, which is why I felt the need to write about the Rutgers coach. He was fired. And then the athletic director resigned.

We have the power to be a voice for the voiceless and we have the power to stop these cowards.

Sometimes I may sound like a broken record when I write about getting involved, in connecting with your state legislator, in writing a letter to the editor or visiting your local chief of police.

These actions make a huge difference to those affected by the cowards.

Our silence strengthens the cowards. Our voices and actions can stop the cowards.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My training continues

I knew signing up to run a half marathon was a crazy idea. Back in high school ( along time ago) a ran  a10K, which is about 6 miles. I think the most I have run since were 1.5 mile runs while in the Navy and maybe a 5K sometime back. I have not run at all in the 12 years or so.

For those of you who, like me just a little while ago, do not know, a half marathon is 13.1 miles.

The half marathon I am running is part of the Colfax Marathon on May 19th.

I know, it's crazy. And the only reason I would ever consider doing something this crazy is to help animals or others without a voice. This time it is for the youth experiencing homelessness we serve at Urban Peak, where I work. I have created a fundraiser out of this crazy idea, hoping to raise $2,000 for the young people we serve.

You might know that crazy people don't like to do thinks alone, so I asked Mike to join me. He is now signed up and training as well.

It is not easy. I have to admit that it is a lot more fun that I thought it would be, but definitely not easy. I have been doing most of my training at Sloan's Lake, a Denver park about a mile from where we live. It's roughly 2.5 miles around the lake and I don't seem to get bored. Lot's of people and lots of dogs. Oh, and geese and ducks. So I am always looking at something.

Last weekend I ran the most I have ever run in my life, 7.22 miles! I couldn't believe! My nephew was with us last weekend. He is an amazing runner. He said that I was within striking distance of the half marathon. That of course made my day.

I have had a couple of short runs since last weekend. Both were tough. Sometimes, like other things in life, it's a struggle. And, like I try to do with everything else in life, I keep my eyes on the prize. The prize is not training or even finishing the half marathon. The prize is being a voice for the voiceless and supporting youth who are in a difficult spot.

After every training run I post a video. They're not pretty. If you'd like to see them my YouTube account is under vegandude.

I have gotten a lot of strength from many of you who are always working to be healthier and more physically fit. I am totally grateful.

More to come. Thank you so much for reading!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fire Tim Pernetti at Rutgers

Mike Rice, the head basketball coach at Rutgers, was fired yesterday morning. He was fired based on the same information the school had back in November, the only difference was that now the whole world knew of his cowardly, pathetic and violent behavior.

Tim Pernetti, Rutgers Director of Intercollegiate Athletics failed in his job. He failed to protect young people from a clear abuse of power.

Fire Tim Pernetti.

From Mr. Pernetti: "I spent more time with that option on whether we should fire Mike or not than any other option," Pernetti said on WFAN Radio Tuesday. "At the same time, the results of the investigation and where we ended up, the determination was made to suspend him."

Some investigation. Look at the videos. Then fire the guy being violent, abusive and using anti-gay slurs. Mr. Pernetti saw the videos back in November.

Didn't something similar just happen at Penn State. That case involved sex abuse. Yet the same abuse of power existed, and people who knew about it did nothing to stop it, let along shine a light on it.

Does anyone at Rutgers believe that Mr. Pernetti is a shining example of someone young people should look up to and respect? Should anyone have faith in his judgement?

Let's speak truth to power. Hopefully those in power at Rutgers will tell Mr. Pernetti to take a hike.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Fu**ing Faggot" - proper language at Rutgers

UPDATE: Mike Rice has been fired. Rutgers should also fire Mr. Pernetti who clearly failed in doing anything about this until the public found out.

I hesitated writing the title of a blog post that includes words that make me uncomfortable. I assure you this is a direct quote, and because of the power of the two words combined, I decided to go ahead with the title.

I was enjoying morning time with the furries watching the CBS Morning Show and watched as they showed video of the Rutgers (university in New Jersey) head basketball coach Mike Rice hit, pushed, threw basketballs at and shouted gay slurs to his players. One of the things I heard him say on the tape is the title of this post. He also called his players "fairies".

As I have written about many times here, language is huge. In a time when it seems equality is getting stronger and more and more people are getting comfortable with the idea of gay people getting married let alone existing, we get to watch video of a very well paid man call someone this.

How far have we seriously come when the worst thing a coach can think of calling one of his players to denigrate him or make him feel small is a faggot?

And just in case you're wondering, this guy, as of this morning (April 3, 2013) still has his job.

The violence. The words. These are not actions and statements from someone who should be respected in any way. This guy is a coach!

Fire him. Today.

From the athletic director Tom Pernetti on suspending the coach:  "This was not an easy decision for me to make but absolutely necessary to ensure what is best for our program."

Seriously? He saw the video in November! It seems he is now only taking action because of the video becoming public. By the way, thank you ESPN for showing the video. It was not an easy decision to suspend him?

I simply don't get it. Oh, I get the world of sports. I don't get that any university, school, program, etc would want anything to do with a man like Mike Rice.

Fire Mike Rice. Fire him today.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Friends? Re-evaluating relationships.

WARNING: After editing this and re-reading it several times, I have realized that this can feel like a pretty heavy post. After all, it's about relationships!

Mike and I were at church today and the sermon hit me really well, in a good way.

For a while I have been thinking about friendship, and what that means, as opposed to say, an acquaintance.

Back in January when I was laid off I got a nice dose of reality around who my true friends were. Not that true friends who didn't reach out to say they could help didn't exist. I know people are busy and a friend losing a job may not be a time when you want to reach out. The amazing thing, and something I will be forever grateful for, is that so many of my friends did reach out, did check in, did ask if they could help in any way.

All of the love and support I received simply blew me away.

And then there are those friends I am connected with on Facebook. Recently I have seen a couple of them at different events and they couldn't even swing by to say hi. Have you read those posts on Facebook or Twitter that talk about not investing in relationships that you put a lot into but the other person doesn't? I forget the exact saying, but do you get the idea.

That pegs me directly.

I do get that a friend on Facebook may or may not be an actual "friend". I am trying to go in that direction though, where all of my Facebook friends are actual friends. 

Putting more into a relationship than the other person does gets old. I'm 47, have done that most of my life, and as healthy people say, "that doesn't serve me well anymore".

Where am I going with this? Friendship is a two way street. If both parties (and I include myself in this) don't want to give to the relationship, then perhaps the friendship is not that important to both people. Which is not a bad thing. If the relationship is important, well then maybe it's time to reach out for coffee, dinner, a hike.

I just realized that a friend of mine might be reading this and thinking that they need to reach out. Please don't, unless you were going to connect anyway. This is not about any one person, it's about me feeling like I give a lot to something/someone that isn't interested in giving back, or in giving at all.

My friends and family have been uber supportive these past few months. The reality is that true friends and good family always are supportive and loving. They may not call all the time and you may not see them often, but they are there. And when you need them the most, you know it.

There are some people in my life who are important to me who may not know it. I need to change that. There are others who for some reason or another are just not close anymore. That's cool, as long as I haven't done anything to hurt them or to piss them off.

Whew! What a post. Thank you so much for reading. Can you relate to any of this? I would LOVE your feedback, at least so that I know I'm not totally crazy!