Archive for April, 2009

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photo by daveybot

Most vegans are faced with compromising situations in the workplace every day. Situations in which your beliefs are tested in some way. I work in a coffee shop. All day, I make drinks containing milk, sell food that contains dairy, and even a couple of items that contain meat. Though I’m not consuming these items myself (pass the soymilk, please), I am essentially promoting the consumption of these products by working there.

At my last job at a newspaper, my co-workers would tease me about my choice to be vegan. They’d refer to me as the “militant vegan” and talk about how much they loved meat. But I loved my co-workers dearly and learned to take the good with the bad in such situations, pick my battles, and bring in amazing vegan food to share with them. I eventually got some great support from co-workers who started reading my blog and sharing vegan recipes. They even decided my blog was good enough to be added to the newspaper’s website, added my link to their Salt Blogs, and gave me free advertising in the newspaper. Which was a big help in getting Happy Vegetable on its feet.

And now, I’m facing a new challenge– going back to school for psychology. One aspect of this decision scares the crap out of me: animal testing. Psychology has been paired with animal testing for a very long time. Many of the discoveries made in this field have been through testing on animals and humans. I fear that at some point I may face a situation in which I am expected to complete lab work involving animal testing. And that perhaps my decision to boycott this would compromise my career. It’s one thing to prepare a cappuccino for someone. Testing on and torturing animals is a whole new level of ethical compromise. I hope much of the animal testing will soon be replaced by the study of human-cell cultures and other alternative (and better) methods of research. But I know there’s still plenty of animal testing going on today.

If there are any other vegan psychologists out there, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Were you forced to compromise your ethics at any point, and if so, how did you deal with it? Is animal testing a requirement at any point in the psychology career track? I know there are plenty of non-vegans that are against animal testing as well, so if you’ve also had to face this situation, what did you do? My current goal is to get a PhD, so I’ve got a long, potentially bumpy road ahead of me.

Freaking adorable.

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photo by Andy*Matthews

Like any lifestyle, veganism requires some research in order to ensure you’re getting the right nutrition. If you’re feeling a little off, it might be time to do a nutrient check. Are you feeling tired and devoid of energy? Feeling a little down? Kinda blah? Are you having a hard time concentrating? Sometimes all it takes is some adjustments to your vitamin levels to get you back on track.

Omega 3 is an important fatty acid that can easily be lacking in a vegan diet. It’s very important for retinal and brain function. Low levels of Omega 3 are linked to depression. Most meat-eaters get their Omega 3s through fish or fish oil supplements. Vegans can get it through algae, hemp, walnuts, walnut oil, flax, soybean, canola oils or veggie supplements like Deva Vegan: Deva Vegan Vitamins Dha, Algae, 200 mg.

Folate (B9) deficiency can also be linked to depression. Luckily, vegans can easily amp up their folate through fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. Some sources of folate are: asparagus, leafy greens, beans, sunflower seeds, oranges, strawberries, melons, and whole wheat. If you are experiencing diarrhea, loss of apetite, weight loss, weakness, sore tongue, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability, forgetfulness, or behavioral disorders, you may want to get some more folate. And really, all the B vitamins are important for your well-being so getting a B complex supplement is not a bad idea.

Magnesium is needed for serotonin production. Stress can cause magnesium depletion, which can lead to feelings of depression. This is another easy one for vegans to replace through food. Good sources include legumes, nuts, whole grains and green vegetables.

Potassium deficiency can cause mood swings, low blood pressure, fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle pain, and irregular heartbeat. Go here to check out all the sources for potassium. Should be pretty easy for you to find something on that list you’re willing to swallow.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle and bone weakness and pain, chronic fatigue, depression, and a wide array of other ailments. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box of health problems. It can be a common deficiency in plant-based diets, since many people get vitamin D through dairy and fish. No worries though. 10 minutes of sunlight each day and perhaps a supplement and you’re good to go. Most people don’t get enough vitamin D through just food anyway. Sunlight is your best medicine. And while you’re outside enjoying the sun, go for a walk, bike ride, jog, or what have you. Exercise also helps with the blues.

Iron deficiency can make you feel sluggish, weak, and depressed. It can also tamper with mental function. Leafy greens and whole grains are the cure. Eat up! And, feel free to have a supplement on hand, if you’d like.

Iodine deficiency can cause fatigue, depression, weight gain, irritability, cold intolerance, and decreased concentration. It is important to get 100-300mg per day. Buy some iodized salt or iodized sea salt. I buy this kind: Hain Sea Salt-Iodized 26 oz. A quarter teaspoon a day is all you need. Baked potatoes, bread, kelp, navy beans, sea vegetables and strawberries also contain iodine.

Additional sources: http://www.iherb.com/productdetails.aspx?c=1&pid=142626534831935813&utm_source=gb&utm_medium=f, http://altmedicine.about.com/od/healthconditionsatod/a/Depression1.htm, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5553.html, http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp, http://www.oralchelation.com/ingred/VitaminD1.htm, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_a_vegan_diet_cause_depression, http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/nutrition_for_everyone/iron_deficiency/index.htm, VegNews|May+June 2009

If it looks too real to be fake, it might be just that. Faux fur is gaining popularity, but some clothing companies are trying to fool consumers into buying real fur, such as that of raccoon dogs or domestic dogs. I KNOW! How awful is that?

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photo by liquidindian

The Humane Society has filed lawsuits against many big name brands such as Dillard’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Nieman Marcus for false labeling of animal fur products. Or not labeling them at all. Now, I doubt there are too many vegans out there that buy unlabeled fur in hopes that it is fake. But we trust these companies to tell us the truth. If it says it’s faux fur, it better damn well be synthetic materials. We take the same risk every time we buy “vegan” food items. We depend upon others’ honesty. Unfortunately, we live in a world filled with deceipt and must take matters into our own hands sometimes to be sure. The Humane Society’s Pierre Grzybowski offers some tips for telling if fur is real or fake:

  • Burn Test: If you’ve already purchased the garment, carefully remove a few hairs with tweezers and ignite them (away from other flammable objects). Faux-fur generally emanates a plastic-like odor, while animal fur smells similar to burnt human hair. Once the residue has cooled, rub it between your index and forefinger. Animal fur reduces to ash, while synthetic fibers generally leave behind a black bead that can be rolled between your fingers.
  • Visual Test: Push apart the hairs to see if the backing is animal skin or a woven, grid-like fabric, which indicates faux fur. Also, don’t assume colored fur is fake. Real fur can be dyed any color. Some real animal fur that has not been sheared or plucked will have longer “guard hairs” that taper to a point and disappear like a cat’s whiskers.

When in doubt, steer clear of the furs. Or, if you do spot deceitful marketing, report it: humanesociety.org/furlabelreport.

To get a more in-depth description of the fur industry, go here: http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=56. Don’t worry, I’ve spared you the horrors of imagery or footage. Once you’ve witnessed a defenseless creature being skinned alive, it never goes away. Just take my word for it.

On a positive note, the fur industry is declining which means many more animals’ lives are being spared: http://www.arkofnoah.com/?p=1954.

Other sources: All Animals HSUS magazine, March|April 2009

Emily Jean AllenMy name is Emily. I’m a Wisconsin native who’s always been compassionate about animals. My mom was convinced I would grow up to be a vet. I went vegetarian at the ripe age of 13. Two instances lead me to stop eating meat: a bloody chicken fillet sandwich from Hardee’s and a special on the news about the factory farming of chickens. In college I learned about the horrors of the dairy industry and decided to go vegan (a tough feat in the dairy state). That lasted almost 2 years, but I wasn’t well-educated on proper vegan nutrition, didn’t take the best care of myself as a student, and felt lightheaded a lot. Note: surviving on coffee, bagels and alcohol can be hard on the system. So, I went back to being vegetarian. But I’ve learned a lot since then about proper nutrition and many other aspects of the vegan lifestyle. I was a strict vegan for seven years and recently went back to vegetarian. I may go back to vegan again in the future, but for now, I’m enjoying the vegetarian lifestyle.

I currently reside in Minneapolis with my husband, Emory, and our cute flat-faced cat, Sophia. I have a B.S. in art with a graphic design emphasis from the University of Wisconsin, and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Minnesota. I am now a PhD student at the University of Minnesota in the Cognitive and Brain Sciences area of the psychology department. My focuses are auditory perception and music psychology.

Emily Jean Allen and Emory

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I’m updating my Happy Vegetable Store today. I cannot get over how many more vegan cookbooks and other products are now available on Amazon. We really are lucky to be vegan today. I give a lot of credit to vegans who had to struggle way back when there was nary a vegan-friendly cookbook around. And now there are tons! Which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. If you’re itching for new recipes, you really ought to peruse my bookshelf. If you have a recommendation for a vegan cookbook you particularly love, or some other vegan book you feel has really made an impact in your life, I’d love to hear about it! With so many books to choose from, recommendations are always appreciated.

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Don’t forget to look through the DVD section, veg musicians section, kitchen supplies to make your vegan cooking easier, supplements to keep your vitamin levels in check, vegan shoes, cruelty free cosmetics, vegan baby stuff, gardening tools, pet supplies, and accessories!

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photo by kari.volkmanncarlsen

I have discovered a vegan goldmine in uptown Minneapolis. It goes by the name of French Meadow Bakery. I just went there for dinner and was absolutely floored by their culinary genius. I enjoyed a savory vegan calzone (normally served as an appetizer) filled with hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and fresh basil, topped with a decadent roasted tomato sauce. It melted in my mouth and left me in a euphoric state. Emory had an amazing butternut squash gnocci (which I tried) and it was also divine. Emory and I devoured our meals and licked our plates with glee. For dessert (naughty, naughty) we shared a vegan chocolate turtle cake that was moist, not too rich, and just about perfect. You could taste the freshness of their local organic ingredients.

And another lovely trait about French Meadow is their portions. They aren’t gigantic- they’re just right. We were fully satisfied without doubling over in pain by the end. Which I appreciate.

The atmosphere during the day there is a hopping bakery. And by hopping, I mean, good luck finding a table at lunch time. This place is popular! On a Tuesday night, it’s still popular, but not overwhelming. And we got a table right away, adorned with candles, fresh flowers, and surrounded by birch trees dressed in white lights (man, I wish I would have brought my camera!). Our waiter was wonderfully attentive, and our bill was very manageable.

Overall, I give French Meadow five stars. We will definitely be going back again. Hopefully soon. Note: French Meadow Bakery also offers all natural food products sold in grocery stores.

French Meadow Bakery
2610 Lyndale Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

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I was in Madison, WI this past weekend, visiting friends at my alma mater. For breakfast, we went to Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. As soon as you arrive, they have coffee ready and waiting for your sippage, which is heaven to me. We also had several soy milk fans in the group and they gave us a little caraff of soy for our coffees while we waited for a table.

I had long been contemplating the idea of vegan French toast. Was it possible? I know now it totally is. Monty’s has some great vegan and vegetarian options, and vegan French toast is one of them. My only qualm was that the French toast was slightly dry. But with some maple syrup, it was great. Emory had a tofu scramble that I nibbled which was also yummy. And the servers were great about replenishing our coffee supply. All around, it was a great breakfast.

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When you’re done dining at Monty’s Blue Plate, you should wander across the street to Gail Ambrosious – Choclatier. They make AMAZING (though kind of pricey) chocolate, some of which is vegan, with local ingredients. I recommend the peanut butter filled chocolate bunny (Easterly festive), and also the dark chocolate hearts. What? I told you I had a sweet tooth. Don’t judge me. If you can’t get to Madison, you can order the chocolates online. Hooray!

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner
2089 Atwood Avenue
Madison, WI

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Gail Ambrosius — Chocolatier
2086 Atwood Ave
Madison, Wisconsin 53704
(608) 249-3500 phone
(608) 249-3501 fax

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