Friday, March 28, 2014

My eyes, my eyes. His eyes, his eyes.

Vegans and non-vegans love to fight about whether or not our bodies are designed to eat meat...talking about our (pathetic) canines as evidence that we humans are a hunting tribe, etc, discussion about how long or short our digestive tract is (apparently it is short for those that favor meat-eating and long for vegans and vegan-sympathizers).  It is one of those discussions that fully convinces you that you are rights - whichever side you are just to add to all that...

But what about our eyes? How we see?  We see vibrant colors and precise detail.   We love the look of bright colors on our plate so much we invest more than a billion dollars  a year in food colorings to make our food LOOK LIKE FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!  And what an interesting industry...just spend a few minutes on this website...  We also have the ability to see tiny details in leaves, just needed to identify one species of plant from another to know which ones to harvest.   

Cats, on the other hand see dull colors, but are able to see movement much more distinctly...precisely the needs of a hunter...

Look at any advertisement for beef or chicken.  Somewhere on that plate is a plant product, glorious in its lovely color - a tiny salad, a few cheery, cherry tomatoes, a sprig of parsley, a trio of asparagus, pink peppercorns.  All, sitting along side making the meat look palatable, like a lovely young trophy wife can do for an aging millionaire.   All those advertising dollars and touched-up photos simply to make meat look less meat-like.   Just another way to see the world!

If You Can Only Get One Vegan Thing in Austin ...

Austin, Vegan, Vegan Nom, Tacos, Three Amigos Loco
This is the Three Amigos Loco from Vegan Nom. Notice, it has a corn tortilla in this picture. It is better with the flour tortilla, as the filling does not have to compete in flavor with tortilla.

Vegan Nom is the absolutely the vegan prize in Austin. I've tried just about everything they have made, but I have missed out on a few of their specials. My two all-time favorite tacos are the Local Tex-Mex (with no cheese but avocado added) and the off-menu item (once a special) of Three Amigos made Loco (but no cheese). I'm absolutely bonkers about their chipotle salsa. I've petitioned them to turn it into a soup without much luck so far. Every time I order, they ask, "Is this, Andrew." Yes, you've got me. My son once played a game repeatedly for a while, pretending to make phone calls to Vegan Nom, asking for two tacos with no cheese but with avocado. It was hilarious. Unfortunately, I live in North Austin, and since Vegan Nom moved to the Buzz Mill and next to an actual smoking BBQ meat pit (really unpleasant) south of Town Lake, I have not been able to go as often. They have a second trailer and say they will reopen on North Loop, but time will tell where they end up. I would not mind if they end up farther north than the centrally located North Loop. But if I could only get one vegan meal in Austin, I would get my favorite tacos from Vegan Nom.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Zoo Makes Headlines By Killing Lions

It is certainly interesting the outrage that the public expressed when a Danish zoo recently killed a giraffe and fed it to the lions. Now, the same zoo is back at it, this time killing four lions, including cubs. These actions, in the minds of the zookeepers, are perfectly justifiable for supposed conservation purposes. Perhaps, there is even some logic in killing these animals in terms of zoo management. The reality is that the animals who are not killed are living a life of constant suffering in their prisons designed for our viewing pleasure. This is all done under the guise of conservation. The animals in the wild can't survive, so we need to imprison them, and occasionally kill them, in order to preserve them. Do you see the irony there? In Austin, we have a zoo that consists of only rescued animals, so I suppose what they are doing is of a higher noble purpose. However, these animals, while they may receive better treatment, are still enslaved for our viewing pleasure. And the cost that people pay to go to the zoo pays for the upkeep of the animals, so it becomes a necessary evil. Somehow, we think of animal imprisonment as different than human imprisonment. It isn't. These animals do not live happy lives. They want more than the limited movement they can manage in their small cages. Lions probably have no interest in being in frigid Denmark, even if they were free of cages there. If we truly cared about animal conservation, we would ban zoos and the keeping of animals and focus our efforts on conserving their habitats. Maybe our animal experts could be helpful to the wild lions of Africa in Africa? Here is a short excerpt from The New York Times story on the lions being killed:

Denmark, the land of enchanting fairy tales and liberal social values, is becoming known as the land of dead zoo animals.
The Copenhagen Zoo, which generated global outrage last month when it killed a healthy 18-month-old giraffe named Marius, said it had to euthanize four lions this week to clear the path for a newly arrived young male lion. The zoo’s decision created abacklash on social media on Wednesday, with some calling the zoo’s staff members “serial killers” and “murderers.”
The zoo justified the killings of the two parents, ages 14 and 16, and their cubs on the grounds of genetic purity and conservation, noting that the new lion would invariably prey on the cubs, while there was a risk that the older male lion would try to breed with one of the female lions that were his offspring.
“If the zoo had not made the change in the pride now, then we would have risked that the old male would mate with these two females — his own offspring — and thereby give rise to inbreeding,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.
For more, click here.

If you have children, consider purchasing Anthony Browne's children's book, Zoo. It perfectly captures the horror of zoos and relates it to children. Browne has amazing insight. Here is a link to the Amazon page for the book.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


A couple of weekends ago, the in-laws were in town and we went to a lovely Italian restaurant in Austin called Maggianos in South Austin.  I spent a few months in Italy when I was in college so I have a warm place in my heart for REAL Italian food (not cheese soaked pasta dishes you get here) so I was excited to be be there.  Awesome place.  But not at all vegan-friendly.  As a good vegan does, we bombarded the cashier with vegan questions and began to order...the cashier, a 20-something-plays-videogames-and-drinks-chocolate-milk-and-wears-the-same-shirt-for-days-on-end kinda guy says challengingly, "the Pizza's NOT vegan."  Incredulous, I say, "Really? It has milk?"  "No", he replies, "It has YEAST!"  I shake my head and say "It's OK" and he just stands there, not entering my order into the register and looks at me (ready for a fight)..."It is a living ORGANISM".  I just have to laugh, and retort "I am not here to argue, I am just trying to feed my family".

I really don't mind being challenged like that...but it is funny that a person who clearly is not vegan and in fact clearly was anti-vegan would seemingly worry about the well-being of single celled organisms.  If we had to worry about critters as small as yeast, gosh, I couldn't sip water from a glass that wasn't recently sterilized for fear I might ingest a bacterium!

Good food though...what was vegan!  LOVED and I mean LOVED and will FANTASIZE about the marinated olives, zucchini and eggplant in the refrigerated section...drooooollll....we had some decent pizza that the kiddos loved and the husband loved his pasta dish.  All in all a very nice visit!

Veganism, Parenting, and Health

When I first became a vegan twelve years ago, I noticed how I immediately started feeling better. I had more energy, and little nagging issues went away. For instance, I used to get acid reflux in a bad way. When we lived in Salado, we lived right across the street from a gourmet pizza place, which I loved, but the acid reflux was absolutely the worst when we went there. They used a variety of cheeses on the pizza, and it was quite a tasty pizza. Except sometime in the middle of eating it, I would bend over clutching my chest. Ouch. Eventually, I made the connection between the pizza and my acid reflux, but it did not go away entirely. I wound get it every once in a while. After I became a vegan, it occurred to me that I got acid reflux when I had cheese-heavy dishes. Since I have been a vegan, I have not had one case of acid reflux. Another minor issue that I had was a wart growth on one of my fingers. I would cut it away, and it would aways come back. When I became a vegan, it just went away entirely. A big plus to being a vegan was I just stopped getting colds. I was never sick until about 2012 when we started sending our son to daycare. Since then, I have gotten many colds, and I'm sure I've had the flu. Today, we kept our son out of school because he was coughing uncontrollably. After a visit to the doctor, he's feeling better this evening, but I'm feeling a cold come on for me now. The bottom line is that veganism will do wonders for your health, but it won't protect you from children.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

So Animals Have Emotion? Surprised?

I saw this interesting article about a giraffe showing emotion in a zoo. The story is touching in its own way, but that an animal shows emotion and attachments shouldn't be a surprise. It should be proof to people to stop locking animals up.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Should You Vaccinate?

This is not necessarily a vegan issue, but I thought I would share this since so many vegan parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children. I had an interesting conversation about vaccines with my daughter's doctor today. If you haven't heard, a young child recently died of whooping cough in Austin. For the life of me, I cannot understand why people choose not to protect their children from very dangerous diseases. I can understand a debate about whether the ingredients in the vaccines are safe, but that has not been the focus. It seems that you are either for or against vaccines. The doctor did mention that manufacturers are removing some of the questionable ingredients from vaccines, such as thiomersal, so that is a positive. Just a coincidence, but on the way home, I ran across this article about vaccines in the Texas Observer: I highly recommend it. And on top of that, my wife sent me this article about how children who are not vaccinated are threatening the lives of vulnerable children: Please consider all of the information closely before choosing not to vaccinate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Vegan at IKEA

I needed to go to IKEA in Round Rock for a small bookshelf, and I noticed that the cafe there had tomato-vegetable soup labeled vegan. It was pretty good, too. About a year ago, we went and had to wait forever before the kitchen staff determined that their lentil soup was vegan. That soup was awesome by the way, but it is nice to see them labeling it now.