Saturday, April 26, 2014

Support the newly vegan

Vegans are everywhere these day.

There is diversity in why one is vegan and and how individual vegans feel they can make change.

Go onto a local vegan Facebook page and you can see this.

I recently saw an instance, one of many recently, in which someone was asking for help/support and instead of that got a huge helping of judgment.

I get passion. My passion gets me in trouble sometimes. Passion that turns negative, especially towards folks who are trying to do the right thing, is no good in my book.

Thousands of people get some kind of information about veganism or animal rights every day. Whether it's a pamphlet, an undercover video, watching Ellen or tasting a new vegan food product, the opportunities are out there and people are coming head to head with veganism.

Many start questioning themselves and their own, very personal, ethics.

This is when we as a community can either be there to support them in any way or let our personal piousness get in the way.

This is where we can pass on our experience from when we were first considering veganism or our first weeks of being vegan or we can tell the person they need to get it right now or they are simply just a piece of shit.

These opportunities happen every day.

Each one of us has the power to be the voice for the voiceless animals who suffer.

What does your voice sound like?

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview with Stephanie Redcross of Vegan Mainstream!

Colorado Springs is the next stop for Stephanie Redcross and Vegan Mainstream for their Vegan Professional Boot Camp! I am so excited that Stephanie is bringing her magic to Colorado and giving the opportunity for vegan and vegan friendly business folk to learn so much about business, marketing and many other items that can help in being successful.

I had the awesome opportunity to speak with Stephanie and ask her a few questions. Before I get to that, please check out her site with all of the information you need about the upcoming boot camp in Colorado Springs on May31st:

This boot camp is listed as an action-packed learning symposium for existing and aspiring vegan professionals! I love that. Looking over the list of presenters I see names of people I know will be able to give attendees so much information and insight on so many levels.

Lastly, before we get to the interview, I have been in the position in my life where I really wanted to attend something that would support my goals and found myself not being able to afford it. If you are a blog reader of ours, find yourself really wanting to go to this boot camp knowing that this could benefit you and those you help in the future but it's not in your budget right now, and agree with our principles of making the world a better place for all living beings and being a voice for all of the voiceless, then send me a private email to I will pick one scholarship of those that connect with me.

Now to my conversation with Stephanie! Stephanie is the managing director of Vegan Mainstream. Vegan Mainstream provides marketing solutions to vegan and vegetarian businesses, as well as to those interested in incorporating more mindful practices and products into their brand. I haven't met her in person but I grinned the entire time speaking with her. Her kindness overflows and her knowledge of marketing and business came across to me immediately.

Where do you see the biggest challenges in regards to vegan/vegan friendly businesses and their use of social media?
Two fold: one is reaching deep into the vegan community but also being open enough to pull in folks who are in a transition stage. We feel comfortable talking with vegans, but not so much those who are not there yet. How do I maintain my ethics and at same time create community/space that feels welcoming.

What was the most surprising thing you learned from an attendee at one of your boot camps?
From Dill Ward in Portland, OR : We forget to invest in ourselves as an asset in our business. We see ourselves as the free employee. See yourself as something valuable: pay, training, well being.

I have read all about your boot camps and think they would be wonderful for the non-vegan business who wants to do business with more vegans. What is one suggestion you would make to such a person?
Spend some time in the community. Go to meet ups. Go to your local veg fest. Understand the language and priorities. Don’t go by what you think the need is or by a stereotype.

Do you believe vegan businesses can wear their activism on their sleeve?
No. They have to be very careful. I believe there should be a separation between your business and your personal activism; you want your business to be on its own. If it’s separate, you can make a clear decision about donating or something like that. You don’t want to make decisions that are more for a non-profit when you are a for profit business. Make a very successful business then you can make all sorts of decisions to support your activism. Freedom of time gives you the chance to do more.

In all of your travels, what city surprised you the most with vegan food options or the best vegan food you have had?
DC was surprising to me. I grew up in Philly so have been many times as a child. What impressed me the most last year was so many vegan/veg options at places that were not classified as veg or vegan. Healthy stores had vegan options unlike other cities. Lots of options on menus.  Every place we were we were able to find vegan options. Multiple options. Flavorful dishes and dishes you would get really excited about.

For your Professional Vegan Boot camps, are they focused on the same learning topics or to you change them based on the geographical location?
We change them and always have local speakers. This helps us to have different topics and we can talk about local support.

Who tops the list of people that inspire you and why?
Seth Godin. Love his stuff. I love it because he’s not a typical author/marketing geek. He has charted out his own path in life and he is not a typical guy. I am very trail blazing, if you can believe it you can do it. I like how he cares about people. I like people who care about people, customers they serve in their business.  And he’s funny. He has a “get it done” attitude.

Thanks for reading! 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez

This past Thursday I received a text from a good friend of mine who works at our local Telemundo news station that they had just gotten word that my favorite author, Gabriel García Márquez, had passed away.

The sadness hit me immediately.

I pulled up the website for El Tiempo, a major Bogota (Colombia) newspaper and there it was: Gabo had indeed passed away.

Long before I came out, long before I became vegan, long before I decided I wanted to spend my life making the world a better place for all living beings, I was transported to different worlds thanks to
Gabriel García Márquez and his incredible story telling and ability to create a narrative that makes one feel they are in another world.

Like really in another world.

Many times as I was growing up and becoming a man, I could escape to Gabo's worlds.

They saved me.

Having spent my junior year of high school in Santa Marta, Colombia, I was introduced to a life entirely different than mine, and I met people who would forever have an affect on my life.

And I came to know about an author named Gabriel García Márquez. Ever since, I have been a fan.

I look through all the novels and short stories I have of his on my bookshelves and feel immense gratitude.

Thanks Gabo. I will miss your presence in this world. And I will always be grateful.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Your Easter ham

I seldom click on videos showing animal cruelty. It's actually been a long time since I have watched one of those undercover videos showing animals being treated in ways that I honestly cannot believe anyone would support.

That changed today. I don't know why, but I clicked on a video from Mercy For Animals showing men torturing, beating and killing pigs. The men work for a pig factory that supplies Walmart.

On our blog and on all of our social media we do not post videos of animal cruelty. We do offer links to animal rights groups we support that have those videos on their sites.

I believe this type of cruelty happens everywhere animals are produced for food. It happens because there is little regard for the life of these animals and also, in a very simple way, because they can. They have the power to do terrible things to these animals and they do it.

I unequivocally support any group that does these undercover investigations. People need to see what happens to animals in order for them to become their dinner.

Or their Easter ham.

I cannot stop thinking about the video I watched earlier. These workers were hell bent on inflicting fear, terror and pain on these pigs. Nothing was going to stop them.

The only thing that can stop them is the consumer.

If you eat meat, in this case pork, you have the power to stop the cruelty. The video I watched is only the tip of the iceberg of what happens to pigs on a daily basis throughout the country.

Although I haven't looked into the purpose of the video, I am pretty sure it was part of Mercy For Animals campaign to get Walmart to stop using certain suppliers, including the one in the video.

We have the power to stop it. We can be a voice for these voiceless creatures who are treated in such a pathetically terrible way.

If you would like to see the video you can go to the Mercy For Animals website here:

The only way to not support animal cruelty like that shown in the video I saw is to go vegan. Don't support the inherent cruelty that is part of taking animals that are living and breathing and feeling to create your steak, pork chop or lamb chop.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 7, 2014

We must take action. Now!

I have written many blog posts encouraging our readers and supporters to get active, to take action in making the world a better place for all living beings.

We can't wait.

There is a lot going on in our local community. Our local school board has a majority of folks who seem to not want to invest in our schools and look to be part of a seemingly national movement to privatize public schools.

We have an anti-gay and in my opinion anti-poor and anti-woman guy running for US Senate against a guy who has been incredibly supportive of the LGBTQ communities and whom I truly believe understands poverty. I will be voting for Mark Udall in November.

Hundreds of pit bulls continue to be killed in the city of Denver (one city east of us) each year without little public outrage.

These are just three of the issues I am passionate about in my community.

What are your three? And what can you and your friends do about it? Right now.

As you might have guessed, especially if you have read past posts, I am going to ask that you register to vote, that you vote, and that you personally make a connection with those who represent you on city council, in the state house, and at the US Capitol.

If you don't have children, that is not a free pass to not care about your local school board. Want to look at extremism in America, check out your school board.

Taking action can mean voting. It can mean writing a letter to the editor. It can mean deciding to go vegan. It can mean calling your state representative and giving them a piece of your mind.

It means saying enough is enough.

Nothing will ever change if good people don't demand it.

Believe me, those who profit from animal cruelty are taking action. Those who want to deny marriage equality are taking action. Those who don't give a shit about the poor and those living in poverty are taking action.

They are counting on us not not to do so.

No way.

Join us. Take action. We have the power.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Note to business owners who want vegan business

Mike and I are vegan.

We share our house with four dogs and two chinchillas. As expensive it is that they can seem at times, I'm sure it's nothing compared to having human children.

We don't have a lot of extra money as I work in the non-profit world and Mike teaches in our local public school system. Don't get me wrong, we live very well. We both feel like we live a charmed life.

So when we shop, we like to spend money with nice people. When we dine out, we want amazingly delicious food and incredibly hospitable service.

This can be challenging with some folks. Recently we have had poor experiences when trying to support vegan businesses and businesses that are trying to get vegans to spend their money with them.

Some experiences were around things like this:

Do you really think that you have to act like you are cooler than us? I get it, you are cooler than us. So relax.

If you have promoted a product as vegan, it should be vegan. Don't get pissy with us when it's not. It's not our fault. Vegan means no animal product. None. And no insect product. Zero. If your product contains just a little animal product it's still not vegan.

I'm vegan. I'm against cruelty to animals. I'm shopping with you. I don't want your opinion as why it's OK to use animals for this purpose or another. I definitely don't need you to tell me that they don't really hurt the animals in whatever process you are talking about.

If you own or run a restaurant and want vegans to dine with you, then create delicious vegan food. Make your vegan dishes so incredibly creative and tasty that your restaurant will be the talk of the town. A simple salad or pasta dish just doesn't do it.

If you are vegan and have created the most amazing vegan product, food item or business, we are super excited for you. We will probably end up loving your product or business just as much as you do. So please treat us kindly. Arrogance and ego don't really work for us. Kudos on the wonderful creation. We'll support it. Just remember that we're customers and will be part of your success.

We LOVE vegan businesses. We love them even better when the folks we engage with speak with us rather than at us and if they treat us as if our business and support might matter to them. A vegan business that we love and one that ROCKS at this is Vegan Cuts. I met the owners (I think they were the owners!) at a bloggers conference. They we so incredibly nice to me, just one of hundreds swinging by their booth. They made it so I wanted to do business with them. And we sure have! Their initial way of treating me created a long term customer and a huge fan.

This all boils down to the big rule for us: treat others as you wish to be treated. It's pretty simple. And easy. Personally I believe that it's so much easier to be kind to someone than unkind, especially to a customer!

If you are in business I assume you want to do well. Please keep some of this in mind. The way you treat people really makes a difference. I don't mean to come off negative with this post, I truly want businesses to take note and think about some of these issues. It's not just Mike and I who have experienced this, but much of what I am writing about are issues that many of our friends and blog readers have experienced.

We look forward to buying your product, dining at your restaurant and enjoying your newest vegan creation!

Thanks for reading!