Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One small action

I love this photo of Rose as she loves to be on my laptop when I am working on blog posts.

Being an activist can be overwhelming. The amount of suffering in this world can make you crazy!

I am writing this as Rose is cuddled up next to me.

Rose has been part of our family since Thanksgiving week last year. One day a couple weeks before that she woke up in her cage at a puppy mill, the same cage she had lived in for seven years, and was greeted by a local law enforcement person.

Her prison had been raided and she had been freed. No more litters for Rose. After seven years of cruelty and neglect, her life was about to change big time.

Two weeks later she was on Mike's lap, a surprise I had for him when I heard that she was going to be up for adoption at a local shelter. A couple of months earlier our almost 18 year old love Rock had passed away. Mike loves Yorkies. And we couldn't support breeders or puppy mills by going to buy a Yorkie. So I waited.

After meeting Rose we were both in love. The next Monday we got the call: come get her.

As I look at her all cuddled up with me, I think about all of the small actions so many of us take that change the world for other living beings.

We never know what the result will be. Our action may be an hour spent at a protest, a phone call or email to a politician, a financial donation, walking a dog at our local shelter, making a vegan dish for a work potluck, and as you can imagine the list could go on and on.

A small action can take all of five minutes or several hours. It can be done daily or once a month.

One small action can make a giant difference.

I constantly write about being a voice for the voiceless and trying daily to make the world a better place for all living beings.

You have the power to make change. Please don't let the overwhelming amount of pain, despair and suffering hold you back.

Go for it.

One small action.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Another legislative session in Colorado - make your voice heard!

In Colorado, our state legislature is not year-long. They begin in January and go through early May.

I believe that it is vital for any activist to be politically active. When politicians, especially on the state level, know who you are and are familiar with your concerns, change has a better chance of happening.

This session won't be much different than past sessions. A lot of hot air against the other side.  Egos run rampant. Meanwhile the people of Colorado many times get left behind. I must say that I have met many of those who represent Coloradans at the state capitol and they truly care about the people they represent. I don't know what happens through the process of creating legislation that they tend to forget this.

One of the bills I have been watching is a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couple who have married in states where there is marriage equality to file state taxes as a couple. This passed the state senate along party (Democrat/Republican) lines 18 - 16. One Republican must have not voted as they have 17 folks in the state senate. The bill goes on to the state house where the Democrats have a large majority. Most likely Governor Hickenlooper will sign it.

This bill makes a lot of sense, especially because gay and lesbian couples who are legally married can now file federal taxes as a couple. The religious extremists say this would affect traditional marriage. I imagine many things affect traditional marriage. In this case, the couples are already married. Legally. I think most of the no votes boil down to the fact that many of them just do not like gay folk and the rest feel like they have to vote the party line.

Just as a refresher, Republican politicians in Colorado generally do not care for gay people. Many will talk your ears off that their votes/opinions have to do with a long list of other reasons, yet the simple fact is that they just don't like us.

Why is this important to activists? Many in state races win by a very few votes. The new Attorney General in Virginia won by less than 1,000 votes in a statewide vote!

Also, state legislators have control over state laws, which have a huge affect on each of us.

And just to remind you, everyone has two people who represent them at their state capitol. In Colorado we have one state legislator and one state senator. We also have term limits, so the max a state legislator can serve is four, two-year terms and the max a state senator can serve is two, four-year terms.

If you care about animal cruelty, let your state rep and senator know. If you have an opinion about gun control, send an email. Care about poverty, women's rights, speed limits or GMO's, pick up the phone.

We can complain amongst ourselves as much as we want. Change does not have a chance of happening until we express our opinions to those who have the power to make change.

Here's a website  where you can look up who represents you at your state capitol:

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Humane slaughter?

NOTE: If you do not want to think about animals being killed for food you might not want to read this post.

Recently I saw a photo of an experiment that was testing how long a gas would take to kill chickens. I wont show the photo but I'm sure you can find it on Google.

It seems outrage against animal cruelty in the food industry has sparked interest in those who profit off of killing animals to see if they can do this without looking bad to consumers.

So have an animal. Let's say a pig. Typical, factory farm pig killing is not pretty. It's not something the pig wants to go through. I'm sure the pig would much rather go take a nap in some straw or go splash around in mud. Nonetheless here she is being hung up and slaughtered.

All so someone can have their bacon.

Again, if you want to see this process you can find it on Google.

I do not believe in humane slaughter. The bottom line for me is that if the animal had the opportunity to walk or run away from being killed, they would.

I became vegan because I wanted to do as little harm to all living beings as possible while going through this thing called life. I do not want to be the cause for the death or suffering of another being. I realized that I did not have to participate in the slaughter.

I see marketing words like "humane slaughter" and "humanely raised" all of the time these days. To me that's all they, marketing terms. There is no legal definition for what that means and in the end your humanely raised pig is going to be terrified as she is trucked off to be killed.

There are so many people who love animals but still eat them. They either don't want to think about what happens to them to get to their plate or they have simply decided that their taste buds are worth it. Or, they just don't know another way and really don't know how to begin a life that truly includes loving animals.

Just because we have always done something doesn't mean we have to continue to do it.

There are resources galore to help people who have decided they want to stop participating in the slaughter. The world is changing and vegetarianism is alive and well. And when I write the word vegetarianism I mean no meat and no meat by-product. There are communities all over the world that are there to support you!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What is "vegan friendly"?

I hear the term "vegan friendly" in regards to a restaurant often and am always curious about it. Some times I think it means that there are several vegan items to choose from. Other times I think that the restaurant is not vegan or veg yet has vegan options, or that the folks who run the restaurant are friendly to vegans.

For me personally, vegan friendly means that the owner/manager and staff are welcoming to vegans and make vegans feel like they are home.

It means that a server knows what vegan means and what on their menu is vegan.

It means that the server smiles when we say we are vegan, rather than frown.

It means that the server doesn't say "we don't really have anything that is vegan".

The food doesn't have to to be the best vegan food we have ever eaten. They have to have tried of course, but for me it is more in the attitude and hospitality of those running the restaurant that matters, because if they rock in those areas that means that good vegan food will happen even if they are not there yet.

An example is this new Pho restaurant in Lakewood. Yes, Lakewood! Mike and I are so excited. The vegan options just keep coming in our own city!

We decided last minute to check this place out while we were out running errands. Being new, we hadn't heard of this place nor did we know if they would have vegan options.

I will definitely be doing a restaurant review on this place later, but what I want to say now is about how well we were treated. The server knew what vegan meant and understood everything from fish oil to broth. When the Pho came out I took a photo of it (being a good blogger!). The owner saw this and asked if I would post it on Facebook and I thought to myself "buddy, you have no idea" as I told him I was a blogger, that I was vegan, and that I was so excited. His face literally lit up! He told us about everything on the menu that was vegan, and was super excited that we were there.

He made us feel right at home.

That, my friends, is vegan friendly.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

An 18-year vegan

At 47, it's difficult to believe that it's been 18 years since that amazing day when I was 29 and decided to no longer participate in all of the cruelty that was happening in order for me to eat meat. I became a vegan.

I have never really looked backed.

No, it hasn't been difficult.

Difficult is being tortured, living in fear, being constantly abused and beaten and then eventually slaughtered just so someone can eat.

In the last 18 years veganism hasn't changed at all. It still is the simple notion that I can be healthy and live an amazing life without having to consume meat or animal by-products. If you are just learning about veganism, it means no meat and also no dairy, eggs, honey, etc. For me it also means that I do not wear animals, products like leather or even silk.

It is super easy.

My annual physical with my doc has  become a testament to what veganism, and paying attention to putting good things into my body, means to my health. Uber-low bad cholesterol. Great numbers when looking at protein, B12 and other things that tend to be a concern for people who are not vegan. My doc even tells me now that there is a huge difference between blood tests of someone who eats meat and someone who doesn't. As in those who do not eat meat get better results.

Kale? Yep. I love it. I also love dates, blueberries, Swiss chard, collard greens and dark cherries.

Miss cheese? No way. To me dairy cheese means cruelty. It means veal calves and inhumane actions that I just can't support.

Last year I did my first half-marathon. I'm not saying that if I ate meat I couldn't do it, I'm simply saying that as a 47 year old vegan I did it.

Vegan athletes are everywhere. The strongest dude in the world is vegan.

And so are elephants. Yep. And rhinos.

Thinking about veganism? Go for it. There are a ton of helpful links right here on our blog page to help you out. And we would help you too.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Legal marriage: February 14, 2014

I had always hoped the day would come when Mike and I would legally be married.

On April 30, 2005 we got married here in Denver at our church with 160 friends and family joining us. We called it a "loving act of civil disobedience" which in the eyes of the government of Colorado and the US government is what it was. To me it was the best day of my life, marrying the love of my life, my best friend, and committing to him all that I am, good and bad. It is a day that I think of every day and will think of for the rest of my life.

Last year, marriage equality became the law of the land in many more states as well as the reality regarding federal recognition for couples married in those states. Mike and I began to talk about getting legally married. While in San Diego this summer, we decided that that was where we wanted to marry, specifically at Torrey Pines State Beach on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific.

We chatted with our amazing friends Jim and Lisa about it (they live there) and after some planning decided on February 14th as the date, with our friend Jim doing the honors. Mike and I will drive to San Diego from Lakewood on the 12th, get our marriage license on the 13th (also my birthday) and then get legal on the 14th!

I am so excited!

Although it will only be Mike, myself, Jim, Lisa and their two children, we intend to invite family and friends to think of us, to join us with their loving thoughts, at the time of the service. We have had the big wedding and this will be a quiet, loving ceremony, one that will end with Jim signing our marriage license! Just thinking about it is bringing tears to my eyes!

Our marriage will not be recognized in Colorado. We can get a civil union here if we want. We haven't decided on that yet.

The day after we'll head to Los Angeles for a celebration dinner with some friends, and then home.

We haven't set the time yet, but when we do I'll let you know. We would love, and be honored, to have you thinking of us when this happens.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for your constant kindness, love and support!