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Archive for June, 2009

The Hierarchy

One of life’s little annoyances often comes to me in the form of the following comment: “You’re vegan? But you’re wearing a leather belt…” This prompted me to explain my hierarchy.

The way I see it, I chose to become vegan for moral and environmental reasons. I have always been very concerned about the environment and have always tried my best to keep my carbon footprint in check, even before I knew what a carbon footprint was. My concern for the environment led me vegetarianism as a kid and further led me to veganism in January of last year.

Things I purchased before going vegan, like my 8 year old leather belt or the feather duvet I purchased when Husband and I first moved in together, are still functional, regardless of whether or not they make me a “good” vegan. It’s more damaging to the planet to just toss those things into a garbage bin to find something more vegan-friendly so, yes, I do wear a leather belt, and I sleep under a feather duvet….until they are no longer usable and I don’t feel like any less of a vegan for doing so. I haven’t purchased anything containing animal products since going vegan; but, I certainly won’t be wasteful. I’m not comfortable accommodating one part of my belief system to compromise another.

That sort-of ties in to another interesting battle…organic vs. local. I try my best to purchase organic when I can; but, I do tend to believe that local trumps organic. For one, a lot of local producers have organic practises without having the certification and I feel just as comfortable supporting a non-organic family farm located just outside Toronto as I do supporting an organic farm in California. Plus, purchasing local increases the demand for local products in your area. If the demand is increased, the farms might just be able to afford getting the organic certification or other small farms might be able to step in with their own products, thus increasing the type of products available for me to purchase local.

I’ve always been a fierce supporter of the little guy, a defender of the under-dog and I believe firmly in doing what you can for your community by starting in your own backyard, and branching out from there. For those reasons, I tend to support the independent markets in my area, compare manufacturing locations on labels just as much as I compare ingredients, and support local charities first and foremost. To me, that’s all part of veganism.

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Ginger Bean Salad

bean saladThis is just a little something I’m working on. It’s not quite there; so, I’m not posting the recipe yet. It’s very loosely based off a dish I saw on a menu not too long ago…a ginger beef stir-fry. I figured the beans would be a very meaty substitute and would hold up well to a ginger-y dressing. I liked the added crunch from the cucumber but the dressing needs a little work. Once I get it fine-tuned, I’ll post the final recipe. Until then, salivate over the idea of a ginger-y bean salad with a citrus dressing, crunchy cucumbers and a slight garlic bite!

UPDATE: THE RECIPE!

After some tinkering, I’m happy with the dressing and am posting the recipe:

-2 chopped green onions

-2 small cloves minced garlic

-2 T. grated fresh ginger

-1/4 cup + 2 T. orange juice

-1 tsp. orange zest

-pinch hot pepper flakes

-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-2 T. white wine vinegar

-1 T. fresh thyme

Whisk these together in a large bowl. Gently stir in:

-1 chopped English cucumber

-2 cups cooked kidney beans

-salt and pepper to taste

Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

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Get a Move On!

So, I dropped off the face of the earth for a little while again. Many apologies; moving is always much more time-consuming than I remember. The move itself went really well, though. Do you ever have one of those life experiences where everything just keeps lining up and working out and solidifying in your mind that you made the absolute best decision? That’s what this move was.

Hubby and I got our U-Haul with no problems (which is a shock…we’ve had nothing but bad luck with U-Haul in the past). The man at the U-Haul office was one of the most interesting people I’ve met this year; his girlfriend is a world-renowned sculptress and we were talking about some of her work and the people he’s met through her….fascinating!

Then, we had only managed to recruit my best friend (such a trooper, she is!) to help us move. We figured it would take the 3 of us a few hours to get all our stuff out of the truck and into our new place in a low-rise walk-up. However, when we pulled the truck up to the new building, the most amazingly beautiful thing happened. I mean it; it completely reinstated a little faith in humanity for me. There was another couple finishing up their move into the building. There’s only the one stairwell to use and we knew we’d be all over each other all night if we tried to move around each other so the couple, their 4 friends, and Husband came up with this wonderful plan: we’d help them finish up their move if they helped us for an equal amount of time! We helped them finish up….it took maybe 45 minutes to move them into their place. They started helping us…and they were superheroes! They didn’t shy away from heavy or fragile things, we chatted and joked around with each other and before I knew it…they had helped us clear out our entire truck! Seriously, these total strangers donated about 2 hours of their time to help us…even after they’d spent their day moving, just as we had. I really wanted to cry…I was so grateful. We kept thanking them and thanking them and the response was always “no worries, it’s just the neighbourly thing to do”! Mind-blowing, I tell ya! Once my kitchen is finally in order, I’m bringing them some vegan cupcakes because that’s the neighbourly thing to do!

The next morning, Husband and I went to grab a bite at this little all-day breakfast place across the street from us and it just happens to have a “rich vegan menu”. As we’re eating our delicious meal, a man who is very clearly a regular at the restaurant sits down beside us and sparks up a conversation with us. We learn that the three of us are all from the same area in Northern Ontario; he even worked in mine and Husband’s home-town for awhile. He starts talking about the outdoors because our home-town is very outdoorsy (I grew up with a lake as a backyard, there are beaches and hiking trails all over, I have friends that grew up cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in their yards as kids) and that leads us to the environment and animal rights. This man starts talking about the energy that animals have and what happens to it when they are slaughtered and he mentions that he’s starting to become more conscious of the environmental and moral ramifications of his diet and he has no idea that he’s talking to a vegan and a vegetarian! When we tell him, he starts asking me all these questions about why I became vegan and what my favourite foods are and how easy the transition was and he’s so interested and soaking up information like a sponge! I’m thinking we must have slipped into a coma sometime during our move and that I must be creating all this in my mind somehow because all these wonderful things just keep lining up and I pinch myself and realize it’s real and am just so grateful for how this has worked out…how for the first time in a long time, something has worked out and gone right and-as cheesy as it sounds-filled me up with warm, happy energy.

Oh, and did I mention we adore our new place?! It’s absolutely perfect! It has charm and character and creaky floors and imperfections in the walls and stained glass in the windows and a really deep bathtub and…well, you get the idea! We’re still settling in; but, the first thing I do every morning when I wake up is look around and smile. My fingers are crossed that this is just the start of a more agreeable chapter in our lives.

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