April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

It's that day again. Every year, we dedicate this day to our love for Mother Earth, to our commitment to preserving the beauty, diversity, and awesome miracle that is the life of, and the life on, this planet.

Today, people talk about buying a new reusable water bottle, walking instead of driving, or planting a tree. All of these things are wonderful, and we should be doing these things, but I often wonder...why stop there? Why not make every day Earth Day?

By going vegan you can do just that. Every time I eat a meal, I am making a conscious choice to conserve. I am choosing not to take part in the most egregious destruction of our earth. By eating vegan, I am standing against the violence inherent in animal food production, including that which is inflicted upon our living earth.

Additional ways that vegans can help the environment:
  • limit the purchase of packaged vegan food items, especially those in plastic.
  • buy your food locally.
  • educate yourself about palm oil production and seek out alternatives for your diet.
  • reduce food waste by composting.
  • use your compost to enrich the soil and grow your own food.
Other fun ways to show your love for the Earth:
  • use a bike for transportation and for leisure. It's great exercise, too!
  • use non-toxic household cleaners, laundry detergent, and personal care products.
  • buy your clothes at thrift stores. I've found some of my most loved clothes this way.
  • remember that "reduce" and "reuse" come before "recycle".

The above points are made to motivate. If you don't do any of them, don't put pressure on yourself to incorporate everything all at once. Build it up slowly. Always do what you can. Strive for more, but don't feel ashamed for not being perfect. No one, myself included, can claim that they are perfect. Do your best!

On this Earth Day, I hold the animals in my thoughts. I keep my hopes high that, slowly but surely, people will understand what veganism means for this world and all that it holds and will adopt the diet and way of life as their own. Until then, those of us who are already vegan must understand that we humans have fears, emotional blocks, and a general aversion to discomfort. A vegan world will not happen overnight, but I am in awe to witness how many people are letting in the light.

April 21, 2014

Vegan Russian Easter Recap

For my whole life, I was lucky to have had 2 Easters.

My parents are different religions, so we celebrated the Western Christian Easter that most of the United States celebrates, but also Russian Easter which most always falls on a different day, though this year was an exception. For one Easter, I got to hunt for plastic eggs and an Easter basket, and also sing the fun, celebratory songs in choir that I'd been waiting a whole year to sing.  For the other, I got to admire the beautiful ornate artwork on the pysanky, including the red egg symbolizing Easter,

 learn the language of my ancestors:

 "Christos Voskrese." "Voistinu Voskrese!"

eat all the traditional foods I loved like paska (which means Easter) bread smeared with butter, nut rolls/poppy seed rolls/apricot rolls, kielbasa, beets with horseradish, hrudka (an egg cheese of sorts), and more.

When I started working, I always had jobs in the food industry which meant that we never had holidays off unless it was Christmas. Since everyone else was always requesting off for Easter, I was happy to work that day if I could have Russian Easter off. That way, I still got to spend time with my family.

This is what a vegan easter basket looks like.

These days, I don't have to worry about all of that, but I do have a new desire that grows with every year. Let's make Easter more vegan-friendly! If you noticed, all of the foods at a traditional Russian Orthodox Easter are animal foods except the beet and horseradish, but one can hardly make a meal of that! Even the bread contains eggs. Though I must say that my grandma is so amazing that she used to make a special small paska without eggs just for me. I'm not in the habit of eating so much bread anymore, so she focuses her generosity on other guests. She's such a beautiful person!

This year, my dad, who's been eating less meat, offered to make mushroom halupki which I thought was a great idea. He's been loving the Field Roast kielbasas lately, so he cooked a few of those as well since they fit in with the food theme. We used an incredible organic horseradish to make the horseradish and beet sauce, and I (of course) brought along greens which I topped simply with some orange and grapefruit sections.

For dessert, my dad ordered this raw vegan turtle pie from Vegan Essentials for us to try. I'd heard of Pure Market Express before, so I was interested to see how their pies tasted. It was incredibly rich and super sweet. They used agave - I'm really looking forward to the day when raw and vegan companies stop using agave to death! - which I'm not crazy about but I do consume from time to time. It was really small for the price, which is the one common complaint I've heard, but if it were any bigger the calorie/fat/sugar content would be ridiculously high for one person. As it was (I can only take so much sugar at once!), I shared some bites with my dad, brother, mom, and grandma and still had enough that I felt satisfied. I tried to give some to my little cousin who balked at the word "vegan" when I responded to her question as to why there wasn't a piece for everyone, but she wasn't convinced.
My Vaute Couture dress is perfect for Easter!
All in all, it was a wonderfully delicious day with my family, and when I hit the pillow last night, I was still smiling.