Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Buttercup the Shelter Rabbit

Hubby and I as a Christmas tradition visit our local animal shelter before the Big Day to deliver toys for rabbits and to visit the current rabbit residents. This year we got delayed because of the blizzard that hit us on the Saturday before the holiday. But we stopped by nevertheless yesterday and met two special rabbits, Mr. Bunny and Buttercup. Mr. Bunny is a black and white Dutch, very sweet and friendly, and was turned in because "children no longer want to take care of him." Buttercup is a Rex and a very heavy Rex too, we noted. She is a stray though I can't help wondering what her story really is. I wonder if she was being overfed to become someone's meal. No doubt if that were the case, she would have been kept outside in a hutch and happily she must have escaped from it. A beautiful girl who loves to have her head rubbed, she growled at us when we gave her some carrots and my heart filled with sadness. I have no doubt part of that reaction could be hormonal--it is highly unlikely this rabbit was ever spayed. But I knew that such aggressive behavior would make her almost unadoptable, unless someone with great patience and rabbit knowledge comes by and decides to take her in. What are the chances of that? And though the shelter refuses to admit it, they will kill her if she proves to be unadoptable and if they run out of room to keep her. Human irresponsibility will have claimed yet another innocent life. When will this end?

As for Mr. Bunny, as we were spending time with him, a shelter volunteer advised that the people who dumped him were coming back for him. Seems the parents just wanted to teach their children a lesson. Some lesson. Put a rabbit through stress by abandonment because you won't be responsible enough to understand that rabbits are NOT good pets for children (something the parents would have realized had they bothered to do any research before getting their kids a bunny in the first place). Too bad people never ever seem to think of the rabbit first. Rabbits are beings, not household decorations. Not toys for kids to play with. Will we ever learn this simple lesson??

As we roll into a new year, I hope and pray that people will get wiser and smarter and learn to educate themselves before adopting ANY animal, especially high maintenance exotic animals like rabbits. There are plenty of resources out there to go to for self-education, www.rabbitwise.org, for one, House Rabbit Society (www.rabbit.org), for another, and many rabbit rescue groups that are all around you if you care to do the research. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. In the meantime, I will pray and hope that someone understanding enough and patient enough will come along and save Buttercup's life. We gave her as much love as we could while we were there, as we do all the rabbits we see at the shelter each year. A little love from a stranger is better than none in their short little lives.

The Hoppy Vegan

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Here is my miracle rabbit, Ghirardelli, recovering from a bout of head tilt that we apparently caught early enough to make a remarkable difference. We have so much to be grateful for at our house this Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas for the Newly Vegan

Holidays are the most difficult times of the year for those of us who become vegan later in life. I grew up in an Italian-American household, where every Christmas Eve, we would feast upon seven kinds of fish (as if one weren't enough.) Fried smelts, cod (baccala), spaghetti with lobster sauce, mussels, you name it. Then on Christmas Day we used to go to my grandmother's where a feast was ready that would put the one in Whoville to shame--antipasto, ravioli, ham AND turkey, tons of side dishes, cookies, cannoli, etc. To define our fondest memories by food alone is frankly silly--Christmas is about family after all. It is a waste of time now to lament all the turkeys and pigs we ate in this season of giving for so many years. While I miss certain tastes (my grandmother made the best sauce ever, but it was a meat sauce, and you cannot duplicate it with faux meat--I have tried), I know that it is very possible these days to have a delicious feast devoid of the suffering of animals.

As many of us celebrate the birth of Christ, it would be well to recall that He died for our sins and for our salvation. Those animals in the manger came to witness Man's salvation--they too share in the glory. They too are God's creations and His children. What better way to honor the Lord than to make your holiday meal devoid of suffering and death?

For me, this Christmas Eve, a yummy vegan clam clowder will be my main entree (a delicious recipe courtesy of VegNews magazine). And for the Day, a Celebration Roast with a red wine reduction sauce will be more than enough to satisfy my palate. Sure, these dishes are new--heck, I don't even have a pasta dish on the menu! We create new traditions to honor old values. We can still cherish the old memories when we honor the values of family and togetherness, NOT how we celebrated them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas Offering

You may notice some strange white objects in the Nativity Scene in the photo above. Those are vegan chocolate snowmen. I can think of no better gift to bring to the Son of God on His birthday than an item that was truly made without harming any other of God's creations.

Have a blessed Christmas everyone, and peace to all creatures large and small.

The Hoppy Vegan

Sunday, December 6, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

Now that I have that song from A SOUND OF MUSIC invading your thoughts, the Hoppy Vegan wants to share some of her favorite vegan items this year. Unlike Oprah, though, I do not have any to give to any of my readers (do I even have any readers? Hello? Happy Christmas if you are there.)

My rabbit shirt from Herbivore Clothing– I bought this at an animal rights conference a few years ago and I love it to death. It is forest green, 50% cotton, 50% polyester, soft, comfortable and has the image of a rabbit with angel wings and a tear in one eye on the front. So moving…And of course anything with a rabbit imaged on it, I MUST have.

Silk Pumpkin Spice milk – just a HINT of pumpkin spiciness. Yummy!

RiceWorks Gourmet Brown Rice Crisps – Sweet Chili, Salsa Fresca, and Sea Salt highly addictive and vegan

Temptation chocolate ice cream – my local Whole Foods is finally stocking this Chicago-based nondairy ice cream which will give Haagan Daaz a run for its money—yummo!!!

Artichoke Burgers from Five-Star Foodies – delish! Cooks up very quickly in the pan. Very vegan and very yummy.

Don’t Step on My Faux Suede Boots – I love my wine-colored faux suede boots I discovered in one of those catalogues for plus-size women (you know, the ones with names like The Natural Woman, The Inner Woman : ) ), Comfy and more importantly they snugly fit around my fat calves. Best of all, they didn’t cost real calves their lives.

Pangea OnLine Vegan Store (http://www.veganstore.com/) - what would I do without them??

VeganEssentials (www.veganessentials.com/) – Can’t do without this online store too.

VegNews magazine – hard copy and soft edition – best info on vegan lifestyle EVER!

VEGAN COOKIES INVADE YOUR COOKIE JAR by Isa Chandra Moskowitz andTerry Romero – my new favorite cookbook, and I have only done one recipe so far (Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles—yummy with a kick and soooo easy to make.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Please do not buy fur

It never ceases to amaze me how in these allegedly enlightened times people can still shell out money to wear dead animal carcasses. So vain and shallow and self-centered we truly are when we dress ourselves at the expense of suffering animals. I am also amazed how at conferences people have come up to me and are shocked when they see that rabbits are actually killed for their fur. How did they think this fur was acquired?? Shaved??

My Ruby is a Rex rabbit, the breed used for fur coats. She is almost 8; she came into our lives when she was six months old, the age rabbits are generally killed for their coats. It takes 30 of my Ruby to make one coat. I have seen undercover video taken at European fur farms of rabbits who look just like her being prepared for the kill. The fear alone in their eyes is enough to turn my stomach; seeing them skinned alive is something else.

Please - leave the fur with the original owner. This is 2009. We have better manmade means to keep warm that don't cost so much in pain and suffering.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Grateful Bunny Named Copper

Thanks to the hard work, pleas, phone calls, and great diplomatic skills from hundreds of rabbit lovers across the world, a young agouti rabbit named Copper, about to be put down needlessby by the Tacoma Humane Society,is now living a new life at Rabbit Haven, a rabbit sanctuary in Gig Harbor, Washington. You can view their homepage at http://rabbithaven.org.

Even now it is hard to know the truth about the reason he was to be killed. Kathleen Olsen, the director of this alleged humane society, told different stories to various people who pleaded for Copper. We were initially told that he bit a volunteer and that was the reason he had to be PTS. I was told by Ms. Olsen via email that Tacoma Humane Society doesn't euthanize for biting. Suddenly the story became he was very ill and that all the vets they had determined he had to die. How ill? This could not be determined. No one could even get to see Copper. Last Sunday he was scheduled to die until last minutes negotiations convinced Ms. Olsen, who (it is alleged) turned down a $45,000 donation from a media group in the UK who wanted to save Copper, that it was in the best interest of Copper to have a chance at a life.

Anyone knowledgable about rabbits knows rabbits only bite when they feel threatened. Rabies very rarely plays a role, as it may be with cats and dogs. If people do not properly approach or handle a rabbit, especially one who has not been neutered, they must expect an aggressive reaction. Many shelter volunteers know only cats and dogs and do not know rabbits or understand their behavior--this lack of experience may have played a part here. But the more troubling aspect to me is that Ms. Olsen, who I hear is paid $100,000 a year for this job, seemed more concerned about her own power status than helping an animal. Is this the kind of person we want running humane societies? My donations will go to places like RabbitHaven and other rescue groups, who have the animals' welfare, not the bottom line or personal pride, at heart.

This Thanksgiving, one little rabbit was pardoned from a terrible fate. He will have a happy life, thanks to the hardworking souls of compassionate people who stood up to save him. Let us continue to work hard to give all rabbits in shelters and rescue groups a happily-ever-after.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Woodstock and Cinnamon

This Thanksgiving these two rabbits are most grateful for each other.
A December-May romance, Woody and Cinn have been together since 2004; he is about 8 years old she is 5. He was once a neglected rabbit living in a tiny cage under a porch, ears infested with ear mites, his body emaciated. She was bought by a young woman at a petstore, barely 2 months old, only to be given up when the girl's boyfriend developed allergies. When they met, it was love at first sight. Woodstock literally flopped for Cinnamon. They have never had a spat. They can't bear to be apart from each other. They are, in sum, the sweetest rabbit couple I know. Anyone who needs couples therapy can learn alot from these guys.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beware Morningstar Meal Starter Crumbles

Much to my disgust, I just learned this product is no longer vegan. For reasons unfathomable to me, Morningstar changed their manufacturing of this product and now the Meal Starter crumbles contain milk and egg whites. I wrote my angry letter tonight. Looks like I am switching to Boca, a company who is going out of their way to veganize their previously vegetarian products.

Remember when companies used to work to KEEP customers? Whatever happened to them?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tofurky or Not Tofurky? That is the question

Once again it is the time of year when a serious food dilemma arises for this new vegan. Standing in Whole Foods the other night, I held in my hands the frozen feast many vegetarians have eaten throughout the years for Thanksgiving. It LOOKS tempting, this glistening ball of tofu, with its warm stuffing tucked inside. And yet I hesitate. The memory of a Tofurky deli meat sandwich once tried at a conference several years ago lingers still. I love food (as is obvious to anyone with eyesight) but after two bites I simply could not ingest that sandwich. I can still recall and shudder at a rubbery oozy taste and the slow twist of my stomach muscles. And yet since that unfortunate experience, I have been adventurous enough to devour Tofurky bratwurst and hot dogs--all yummy and tasty, not even a HINT of rubber. So why do I hesitate at the Tofurky T-Day feast?

Well, for one thing, I would be the only one eating it. That's alot of food, even by my standard. Hubby will not eat anything tofu or ANY meat substitute, for that matter. My rabbits--well, they are vegan, yes, but Tofurky is not their thing (well, maybe my Ruby would try it--she'd eat anything...) No one in my family would EVER consider attempting it. Like most Americans, they believe in the myth that Thanksgiving MUST be celebrated with a dead bird on the table (my words, not theirs.) So what is a solitary vegan supposed to do? Buy it just for me and have leftovers for a month? Can Tofurkey be even saved as leftovers? What if I don't LIKE the Tofurky? That is way too much food to waste.

So once more I put the Tofurky box back into the freezer, resuming my shopping, dilemma unresolved for yet another year. Good thing we made dinner reservations for the big day, I sigh to myself. Still, one of the days, I must meet the challenge of Tofurky. Anyone out there willing to take the challenge with me?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kindles, Nooks and Rabbits

You would think the whole concept of the Kindle and, now thanks to Barnes and Noble, the Nook, would thrill someone like myself, who is concerned about the environment. How much greener can you be with a device which holds 1500 books? Think of it—all those paperbacks and hard covers clogging your bookshelves or tucked into milk crates—all magically stored electronically in a thin, easy to care electronic machine. Heck, I could get a whole room back in my house if I invested in this thing. And yet I am very sad, and not just because I am one of those who actually LOVE holding a book, turning and dog-earing pages, scribbling in the margins, getting crumbs stuck in the binder…No, I am thinking about the rabbits.

Yes, I said, the rabbits.

What will my darlings chew on if all my books were to vanish into a hard, metallic slab they can’t even get their teeth into? Where is THEIR joy of shredding pages, nibbling covers (especially on those books one hoped to donate to charity)? Oh sure, you say, they can still have the phone books. But rabbits are fickle. Mine are, anyway. If they could, they would eat all my junk mail (a tempting idea, except the glossy pieces would NOT be good for them). And they do enjoy an occasional novel. Much to my chagrin, I walked into my living room one evening and found that Cocoa had managed to get a hold of a Dean Koontz book I was reading. Cocoa has always preferred horror novels, and he had done such a good job with this book, but I had no choice but give up any hope of reading it. Whole chapters had been torn to bits. So what will my Cocoa do if my future Stephen Kings and Brian Keenes are downloaded into a Nook? And it isn’t just rabbits. What will counter-surfing dogs do if they can’t get a hold of a book to mangle? They will have to go back to sneakers, corn cobs and pantyhose. Not good!!

Some say the Kindle is progress. Without a doubt, it’s a space-saver. For those who travel, there are no more hard decisions to make about what book to bring—just take em all!! Still, I can’t help feeling melancholy that yet another joy in life has been trampled by 21ct century technology. Give me a thick paperback with rabbit chew marks in the corner any day.

The Hoppy Vegan

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Greetings and Salutations!

Though my blog title might hint otherwise, this is NOT a place—as yet anyway—to find yummy vegan dishes. There are many other blogs out there you can stumble on, like I did, to get great recipes or to just drool over lovely photos of vegan meals.

No, you have arrived at a rather strange place. While I am a vegan (I would go as far as saying a struggling vegan), I define myself more as a devoted slave to six beautiful house rabbits who, as you will eventually learn here at The Hoppy Vegan, led me to this positive new lifestyle. At The Hoppy Vegan, you will bear witness to my new journey with food, AND enjoy the adventures of rabbitdom. I emphatically believe that no one has ever lived till they have shared their life with one of these beautiful animals. Anyone can have a cat or a dog—but to share their home with a rabbit is to truly learn about nature and, as I have, learn to look at ALL animals in a new way.

I will not go out of my way to be controversial or provocative, though I should warn you that I have a tendency of unintentionally pissing people off. (Some days all I have to do is say pass the soymilk to do that.) Please take my views, my words, for what they are, and PLEASE don’t go all defensive! Just read, laugh, learn, comment, and keep it all in perspective.

By the way, I’m not just talking to my meat-loving audience either. Do you know why many people think vegans have no sense of humor? That vegans are super-judgmental? Because some are. And many will no doubt get upset if I confess to breaking down and having a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from the excess Halloween dump a co-worker brought to work (I figured the Reese’s did me the least harm compared to the Hershey bars). To save our sanity, we need to laugh more in a world where animals are so brutally exploited. (By the way, there are good reasons why many vegans devoted to animal rights issues SEEM to have little sense of humor. When you witness the suffering of so many animals in factory farms, in shelters, on the streets, etc. it can really tear at your soul. It’s hard to laugh knowing shelters kill rabbits just because they have no room and no time to adopt them out to good homes. But we can, and actually do, laugh. Need more proof? Check out Dan Piraro of BIZARRO fame, linked here. I aim to keep this blog as lighthearted as I can (and that will be easy to do when you see the photos of the rabbits who have brought such pure joy to my life.). This is not to say I won’t show some serious material—you can bet I will, especially when it concerns my rabbit friends. But I want to smile too. Don’t you?

So let’s get hopping and blogging. (But please - leave the PETA—People Eating Tasty Animals—line out of here. It really isn’t funny—and frankly, it’s OLD.)

Paulette a.k.a. The Hoppy Vegan