Saturday, May 31, 2014

The young and homeless

As you may know, my day job is as a fundraiser for an organization that serves young people experiencing homelessness in the Denver area. No matter where you live, there is a homeless population.

As a vegan, I have compassion for all living beings and my biggest passion is to make the world a better place for all living beings. This includes humans.

On a daily basis I get to see up close and personal the brutality of homelessness. The brutal reality of a life that does not include a lot of hope for hundreds of young people who call the streets of Denver home every day. Nationally the number is 1.7 million.

In my life I see a lot of privilege. I can spend $6.00 on vegan breakfast sandwiches without even thinking about it. A daily stop for coffee on my way to work. The newest vegan junk food.

And I always remember those who have nothing.

Homelessness is an epidemic. One that doesn't seem even close to coming to an end. In regards to young people being homeless, I just see the problem getting bigger and bigger.

Sexual abuse, physical abuse, young people coming out as LGBTQ, drug and alcohol abuse on the part of the parent or guardian, trauma in a hundred different forms, mental illness in the home, and of course plain poverty. All of these are reasons why young people become homeless.

Where am I going with this? Why does this matter to The Gay Vegans?

I want to end all suffering. I know when people, especially those who read this blog, get information they knew nothing about, they take action.

Nationally, of the 1.7 million homeless youth right now, 40% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.


As I do when I see animal cruelty, many times I see the brutal reality of youth homelessness and wonder what the heck is wrong with our world.

Most of us live in privilege. Let's not forget those who don't.

Thank you very much for reading!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

In loving memory on Memorial Day

Every memorial day I think of friends who died while serving in the military. I also think of all of my friends and family who served or are serving.

Imagine leaving your friends and family for six to eight months. It's not easy. Add wartime situations. Add difficulties at home. The list could go on and on. I served in the US Navy and I know that in other branches time away from the US could be much longer, especially if someone was stationed abroad. People serve for different reasons, typically deeply personal reasons.

Every Memorial Day, and many other times throughout the year, I think of Robert Stethem. We both were serving in the US Navy in 1985. He was a little older than me, and a US Navy Seal. A beautiful man, in many ways.  In June of that year he was heading back from a work assignment in Greece when his flight was hijacked by a group of Hezbollah terrorists. He was beaten, murdered, and then his body was dumped from the plane onto the tarmac at the Beirut airport.

He was 23.

Whenever I am at the Arlington National Cemetery I visit his grave.

Another person I especially think of on Memorial Day, and a lot throughout the year, is Steve Voigt. Also a US Navy Seal as well as someone I loved very much. Steve and I became friends through his brother, we all served at the same time. I deployed once with Steve and that deployment was so much more fun because of him. I will always be grateful for his friendship. Steve decided to make the Navy a career. In October of 1986 he was killed in a helicopter crash in the Persian Gulf. He was such a bright, loving light.

We all know people who have served.

To all of you who have served, thank you.

To all of you serving right now, thank you.

In loving memory of Robert Stethem and Steve Voigt.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A great step towards equality in Michigan!

Every day amazing people everywhere are making their voices heard in support of equality. I want to share about someone in Sterling Heights, MI who I recently heard from.

I am approaching the third anniversary of The Gay Vegans blog and am as excited and committed as ever to keep this blog as a part of a community that speaks out for the voiceless, works for equality, and believes that we all have more in common than not.

I still feel new to the blogging world. I still feel full of wonder. Every day I seem to learn more about blogging and websites. It's an incredible path for sure.

Since the very start I have been blown away by the support from readers that I get. The love. The compassion. The conversation about topics important to us. It's always great to know that not only is someone reading my post, but they they took action because of it, shared it, or began to think about something that they had previously not thought about.

This week I received an email from someone who read one of my posts. It was a post I had written when a US federal judge had ruled that Michigan's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Having grown up in Michigan I was ecstatic.

A city council member, actually the Mayor Pro Tem, of Sterling Heights, a city I had lived in for several years, wrote to me about the post. Mike Taylor had read my post and wanted to connect about an action he was taking:

"It was very frustrating for me to hear you recount such painful memories from Michigan and Sterling Heights. I'm sure you're not alone. I'm hoping I can do something to help people here who feel the way you did. To that end, at our latest council meeting (Tuesday May 20) I asked the administration to prepare a non-discrimination ordinance that will protect everyone in Sterling Heights from discrimination on the basis of orientation and gender identity. Currently in Michigan, there is no protection against discriminating against someone in employment, housing, or in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."

He hopes to report that next  month this will pass, making Sterling Heights the 34th city in Michigan to have such an ordinance.

Glory be.

Thank you Mike Taylor. 

I will admit, with no surprise for our readers, that this made me quite emotional. It's difficult not to get tears in my eyes while writing this post. I am 48 years old yet clearly remember a different time in my life when I was filled with self-hatred, fear and shame. This was the young man who lived in Sterling Heights. Now this same man gets to see an equality ordinance passed in that same city.

I am incredibly grateful to Mayor Pro Tem Taylor and will keep you all posted on the ordinance.

Will the ordinance make a difference? Of course. In a state like Michigan where there are no legal protections against discrimination of those in the LGBTQ community, this will be a powerful force. Where I think it will make an even bigger difference is amongst the young people in Sterling Heights, maybe some who are living like I did. Now they hear that those in power in their city support them. Perhaps there will be less self-hatred, less hate, less bullying and even fewer young people thinking that death is better than being themselves. We just never know the power of such an ordinance.

I will keep writing posts that I hope are engaging, eye opening and helpful to everyone who reads them. I will keep writing posts that ask those who read them to take actions that will make the world a better place for all living beings.

I would be grateful if you shared this post with friends and family who might live in Sterling Heights. It's always nice to support those who support equality. 

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Keep speaking out

As marriage becomes a reality for more and more gay and lesbian couples across the country, it is vital that we continue to speak out for equality.

What a week. Idaho. Virginia. Arkansas. Oregon. Marriage equality took positive steps in all of these states this weeks.

I loved watching hundreds of gay couples marry in Arkansas. I loved watching religious extremists in Idaho freak out when their ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional.

And let the demonizing begin.

As all of these wonderful things were happening. anti-gay folk around the country became hugely fascinated with the newly-pro football player Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend. On TV for heaven's sake! One woman posted on Facebook that seeing those two kiss made her almost vomit!


Comment feeds filled with folks who just cannot imagine a world that includes gay people, let alone married gay people!

While all of this is going, we have to continue to speak out for equality.

While marriage equality spreads to more states, we have to continue to speak out for equality.

Please don't stop. Please don't stop your activism. Please don't stop calling people out on their bigotry.

The fight continues. The victories we have bring out more rage and more hate against gays and lesbians.

While that is happening, we cannot become silent.

This also goes for those who work to end animal cruelty or to promote veganism. The victories we have do not mean we can rest or become silent. They only mean that we have to keep fighting.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Restaurant review - WaterCourse Foods

For those of you new to my restaurant reviews, my reviews are based on delicious vegan food and on great service. Both are equally important to me.

Two weeks ago WaterCourse Foods announced that they had become an all-vegan restaurant. After 16 years of being a vegetarian restaurant, they introduced this idea to their staff on a Monday morning and introduced an incredible, new menu to the public shortly afterwards.

Prior to that Monday, I can count on one hand the amount of times I had been to WaterCourse in the past six years. Since that Monday, I have been four times. I have been twice with Mike and twice on my own. Between the two dinners and the two lunches, I have tried many of the new items. All of this is to say that my review is based on good, solid research.

Note: Before I stopped frequenting WaterCourse, I was quite the regular and WaterCourse was a huge part of my life. They even catered our wedding in 2005. 

Also for new readers, I do not review a restaurant until I have dined there at least three times. This makes sure I can make a fair review.

I love WaterCourse milk shakes. Love them. Great flavors, and now you can order one with just the glass filled (with no extra) which makes me feel better. Definitely try a milkshake.

Mike and I both LOVE the new cauliflower wings. They are delicious, flavorful, and not as filling as seitan wings.

New items include the jack fruit tacos. I highly recommend these. More flavor and great taste. The new deviled eggs are delicious as well. They are purple, which seems to be a turn off for some people but if you can get past that you'll be pleasantly surprised with the flavor.
Breakfast is served all day. I have loved the Amsterdam Hash since it was first on a menu and I still do. Now it comes in its own cast iron pan!

There are many new dinner entrees, including chicken and waffles! The Monti pasta is still on the menu and I had that last night. Loved it.
 I don't drink but noticed they have a good selection of beer and wine as well as pitchers of Sangria and Mimosas.

They all have fresh juices available.

I have many times not returned to a restaurant because of poor service. There came a point in my life when I was done with having to apologize to a server for getting in their way by showing up for a meal. Service is crucial.

All four times I was at WaterCourse in the past two weeks the service was incredible. Friendly, quick, attentive and the server even recommended favorite items. Several folks have told me recently that they stopped going to WaterCourse because of the poor service. To all of them I say it's OK to go back. If you get treated anywhere close to how I have been treated, you will be delighted. Of the four servers I have had, all rocked it. If I were to pick one that you could ask for, I'd go with Nathan.

Finally, I noticed that their price points had lowered. I think everything is priced fairly and I think WaterCourse is pretty affordable.

I so enjoy WaterCourse Foods now that I added them to my list of favorite places to eat in Denver on our blog.

Check them out. Even if you had sworn them off, check them out. You won't regret it, I promise.

For hours, go to their website at

Thank you for reading! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

One day at a time

Taking things one day at a time is important to me for my own self care.

If you are in any type of 12 step recovery program, you probably know this phrase very well.

The premise is to live in today. To not worry about the past or the future, to just rock today.

Or as I have heard it said in another way: If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you are pissing all over today.


Life can get tough sometimes. It can get dark. It can get overwhelming. Sometimes one can feel stuck in a rut, and can feel that way for a while.

If you are an activist of any sort, it can be easy to get filled with all of the negative things you are fighting against. The suffering of animals, the destruction of our environment, the persecution of others, etc. We can see so much of this that it affects us. In a negative way.

Each day I try my best to be a powerful voice for the voiceless. I try to build bridges. I try to make the world a better place for all living beings.

Some days I feel like I don't do enough.

Some days I encounter darkness within me. Some call it sadness. Some call it feeling depressed. I call it darkness.

Definitely not a fun place to be.

If I am living in today, just today, taking it one day at a time, I tend to get in that dark place less often. Less fear. Less angst. Just focusing on today and what I can do to help. What I can do to help the animals, the voiceless, my community.

It's funny how my life fills up with light the more I help others.

And one last point I'd like to make is that I do not have be in my darkness alone. My incredibly supportive husband and friends are always there to support me and to love on me. That makes a huge difference, no matter what I am going through.

Thanks for reading this post.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

One small action today

That's all it takes, just one small action.

When all of us who care about animals and care about making the world a better place take one small action, the world changes.

The world becomes a little more compassionate.

Or a little safer for animals.

A little less cruel.

A little more hopeful.

Just one small action.

If you're not vegan or veg, try not eating meat today.

If you're veg but not vegan, try being vegan today.

If you have a few more minutes to be online after reading this post, go to an group you support that has action alerts and do one of them.

If you have a dog in your family, take them on a walk.

A new veg restaurant in town, go support them.

Send a donation to your favorite non-profit.

Bring a vegan dessert to your dinner gathering tonight.

You get the idea.

We can all make the world a better place for all living beings. It begins with one small action.

Thanks for reading.