Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - Good Riddance


This is my last blog for 2010. I can't say I can recall a year I was so happy to see end as much as this one. In addition to some sad personal issues I am still grappling with, I must note that this year has been marred with much pain and sadness. Losses of jobs and beloved animals have marked this year for many of my friends and family. Other dear friends have been facing life-threatening illnesses. And I must watch as my beloved Woodstock struggles against the spondylosis that is robbing him of his rabbit habits, knowing with a heavy heart that he most likely will not be with me next Yuletide.

From the vegan side of my life, I have stumbled now and then this year (most recent stumble took place just the other day at a pub, where I hungrily ate the three tiny balls of goat chesse tucked away in my red and golden beet salad--which was lacking the golden beets, I must point out!) I will never claim to be perfect but as with all else in my life, I will strive always to do better. The knowledge that my diet today (as opposed to all those years before 2004, when I went vegetarian) saves so many animals gives me peace in my soul. If only I could make others in my life see the world as I do. If only I could help people make the connection between the meat on their plate and the pain and suffering of the animals it was torn from. If I could just change one mind, open ONE heart, and help a person make the most compassionate change in their life, I could be a truly fulfilled individual. So raise your glasses everyone and remember this, my last question for this year--if we don't make the world a better place than how we found it, what, my friends, is the point?

Happy New Year, all. May you be blessed with good health and good fortune and may the suffering of all animals from humans to rabbits to lions to elephants cease once and for all!

The Hoppy Vegan

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Carol of the Buns




Cocoa and his author daddy sharing a Christmas hug - sort of





"What did I want for Christmas? Some frigging dignity, thank you."




"I may not be able to walk, but I know how to have a ball!" Woodstock




"Mine, mine, mine!"



"Santa Bun came! Hooray!"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From my house of rabbits, tofu, and Gardein products to yours, the Hoppy Vegan sends season's greetings and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2011 .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Favorite Things

Move over, Oprah! I have my own favorite things list--but sadly dear readers I do not have the wealth to give them away. There is just the comfort of sitting back and taking inventory of what really makes one happy. Here goes:

***NutsOnline - a great online shop that sells not only nuts but all kinds of dried fruits and candies and flours, etc. Very vegan-friendly. Try the dark chocolate covered walnuts (such a fun way to get in your Omega 3s!) and the roasted chickpeas. They do great custom made gifts and their delivery turnaround time is outstanding.

***vegan pizzelle--What a joy to have finally found a simple recipe for vegan pizzelle. For the uninitiated, pizzelle is an Italian snowflake cookie--special press required. The usual recipe calls for about 4 eggs. I used Ener-g egg replacer.

***Yes To Carrots products. Reasonably priced skin and lip care products, all animal friendly and all feel so good on the face. Check out the overnight face moisturizer and the luscious lip balms.

***Tofurkey pizza - what a lifesaver on those nights I get home late and hubby wants to order pizza. Love the plain cheese the best.

Merry christmas! I hope you all get what you want to make you happy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cinnamon the Caregiver Bunny


My bunny Cinnamon (she's the one on the left in the photo here) has always been precious, in every sense of that word. Besides her being so mini-Rex adorable, she can also be quite particular about when humans are allowed to pet her. We don't nickname her Princess Bun for nothing--she can cop an attitude with the best of them. Yet since her mate Woodstock became disabled, she has really risen to the challenge of becoming not only Woody's caregiver but also a fierce protector. She watches me carefully as I tend to him, giving him dry shampoos or massaging his legs. She stands poised to strike at the gate when the rabbits down the hall, Ghirardelli and Willow, deign to pay a visit. An odd analogy since she is a rabbit, but I can only liken my Cinnamon to the mama grizzlies a certain former vice-presidential candidate spoke about recently. So what turned my precious princess into a warrior princess?

Could it be the age difference? She was only two months old to his two years when they were introduced back in 2003. Essentially she has known Woody almost her entire life. Is that what is driving her more selfless behavior these days? They literally fell for each other at first meet--and I can honestly report that they have never had a fight. Even when she was literally on his ass those first few weeks--she was too young to be spayed right away and so she was horny as hell, to put it bluntly. Woodstock never tried to bite her or slap at her--when she was extra frisky, he would simply groom her head insistently, until she submissively lowered her head to the floor. Without doubt their relationship has always been special.

And now it is changing yet again. I marvel seeing how patient she is with him and how she loves him. But I also worry. I fear this will be my sweet boy's last Christmas. How will Cinnamon adjust after he's gone? How will I? (Easy enough-I will be a complete wreck.) Will she want to go on without him? The idea of losing both of them is beyond my capability to contemplate right now. But I do think of my Cinnamon, Woody's beloved. I thank God for her too. These days of uncertainty as I watch them interact, I know in my heart that Woodstock and Cinnamon are a match made in Heaven. I just hope Heaven can wait awhile longer before bringing my sweet rabbits home.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Rabbit's Perspective on Christmas Trees

This is Ruby, also known as the Diva rabbit, filling in for the Hoppy Vegan tonight since she is under the weather. I wanted a public forum in which I could finally express my dismay about this holiday you call Christmas. What is it with the tree? All year long I had my corner to myself where I could happily chew on my cardboard cottage. Then last week my humans had the audacity to put me (and my beloved Cocoa) in our cage so we could watch them assemble this pine tree and dangle all these strange objects on it (though I must confess I did like that many of these things looked like rabbits.)

To add insult to injury, these humans put a barrier around the tree. I've been here since 2002--you'd think they would trust me by now. Sure, I love to get under the tree--so much to sniff at and nibble. But really, I'm only a 6 pound bunny--what harm could I possibly do? There aren't any colorful boxes underneath it yet for me to chew on anyway. What's up with that anyway? I think my humans are a bit slow this year with the gifts. So glad to be a rabbit whose needs are quite simple. Give us paper towel rolls stuffed with hay and we are content. You will never see us standing outside shops at four in the morning prepared to stampede fellow rabbits to get material goods we really have no need for. Really, I don't know how you all live longer than rabbits with all the nonsense you deal with in your human lives.

Well, I must run now--almost time for treats. I do hope we get cranberries tonight. The Hoppy Vegan will be back as soon as she has recovered and can--how did she put it?--get her act together.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving with the Turkeys

Last weekend the weather was perfect-indeed it was unseasonably warm, with a bright sunny sky and crisp clean air. We arrived at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary just after noontime. After signing in and giving our financial donation, we ambled over to the rows of white-clothed tables to place down my Tupperware container of rice and cranberry salad. There were already all sorts of foods set out on the table--everything from mashed squash to black bean and sweet potato chili. Clearly today was going to be as always a glorious vegan feast. But first we had to pay our respect to one of Poplar Spring's more famous residents--its sole white turkey,Opal.

She was standing by the little house next to a food and water dish. Amazingly everyone else was just strolling past, not noticing her. I went over to say hello and stroke her soft white feathers. She is 6 years old now, very old by any standard since turkeys are usually slaughtered around 4 months old. My heart does a jig every time I see her. She is so sweet and friendly, when as a turkey once destined for slaughter she has every reason not to be.

I for one give thanks this year and every year for Terry and Dave and the volunteers at Poplar Springs not only for taking in animals like Opal but also for letting us come together at the sanctuary every year. Hundreds of strangers coming together for a cruel-free feast--what a true joy. Let's be honest--where else can you have a peaceful, argument-free Thanksgiving? Here you won't find that obnoxious uncle who overindulges in the beer or the aunt who insists on arguing that being vegan is so dangerous to one's health. At Poplar Spring, we all unite in peace for love of all animals, to truly give thanks for them and for each other in a life-affirming way. Isn't that what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about?






Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks but no thanks



The above cartoon is one of Dan Piraro's best, in my humble opinion. It begs the question, how does eating a tortured animal express in any way our personal gratitude for the blessings we have received in life? I still marvel that until I turned 40 and vegetarian, I had participated so willingly and happily in this barbaric tradition. Why did I not ever put two and two together?

Today of course was the day of one of America's more disturbing traditions, which is the Presidential pardoning of two turkeys out of the millions that will be slaughtered to satisfy greedy human appetites. Watching President Obama usher out his daughters to witness this act of mercy was a bit irritating to me and yet a part of me hoped, part of me so desparately wanted to see either Sasha or Malia say to their father, "But Dad, why can't you spare ALL the turkeys in the country?" Wouldn't that have been something? I suppose we must wait for Dennis Kucinich to become President for such a magnanimous gesture to be made.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Woody and Cinnamon - Home Sweet Home



The new digs for Woodstock and Cinnamon



Cinnamon enjoying her new room with a view



Woodstock enjoying his bunny jacuzzi (also known as a Homedic Foot Spa, until now, collecting dust in a closet.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

As the Rabbit World Turns

So we had to move my basement bunnies to the third floor of our townhouse last weekend. You would think such a thing to be simple, right? You would perhaps if you haven't been living with rabbits for eight years.

Here's the thing- rabbits are very territorial. And the hard truth is, we only had one other room to use for Woodstock and Cinnamon's new home. It happened to be a place that my bunnies Ghirardelli and Willow occasionally used as a playroom. I emphasize the word occasionally. Ghiri and Willow live in a luxurious six foot tall cube cage we lovingly call Thump Tower. It stands in what little space we have left in our bedroom. They get to play on our bed and bounce on our backs in the morning to waken us at godawful early hours. So please don't think they are living the life of Jane Eyre.

Still, they are really pissed off about their new neighbors. Every night Ghirardelli comes down the hall to glare at the new occupants. At the moment Woody seems to care less--he has more important things to concern himself with, namely how to connive to get more papaya treats out of Mommy. At first Cinnamon seemed spooked by the swarthy black rabbit who comes to thump in protest before the gate every night. But tonight I caught her hopping after him as Ghirardelli turned to head back to Thump Tower. Willow has also stopped by to look disdainfully with her one eye at Woody and Cinnamon. She is not at all amused, but that is almost a perpetual state with her.

So what now? Will Cinnamon start flirting in earnest with Ghirardelli even as she strives to care for her disabled mate Woodstock? Will Ghiri and Willow ever except their new neighbors? Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Who says vegans can't be fat?

Let's debunk a stereotype today. Not all vegans are pencil-thin; they do not subsist only on beans and rice; they are not all card-carrying progressives( that in itself is a topic for another day.) You want proof? Just look at me.

The fact is, I love food and I eat too much of it. That is the bottom line. That and the cold hard fact that I don't exercise enough. However or whatever you eat, it all boils down to intake and output. Calories consumed verses calories burned. Not hard to understand and yet perceptions of what vegans are supposed to look like still dictate the odd looks I get on the occasions when I reveal I am a vegan. The surprise in the eyes is brief but I always catch it.

Once when we were discussing this at work, my boss asked me why Alec Baldwin is so fat if he is vegan. At least he had the sense not to ask why I was overweight (incidentally I do not believe Mr. Baldwin is vegan; I read an interview with him a few months ago during which he was eating salmon.) Is it really so hard to grasp that if you eat an entire Tofurkey pizza in one sitting you will gain weight just as if you had eaten at Papa John's?

In 2010 vegans have a smorgasbord of goodies to indulge in. As a new vegan, I reveled in all the choices I have out there, from local places such as Sticky Fingers bakery, to mail order shops like Pangea or Vegan Essentials. Okay, I confess to going a little crazy, ordering and sampling everything under the sun. Have you tried pumpkin marshmallows from Sweet and Sara? If you have, then you see how easy it is to go a little sweet crazy.

So moderation is long overdue in my case. Also I need to look at food as a necessary means of existence, not just a means of consolation during times of high stress and/or depression. This is sadly a common perception of food for vegans and non-vegans alike. How we use food is as important as how we acquire and process it. Even vegan food can be used as a weapon of self-destruction. Sooner or later I need to say no to Emily's Desserts and resist the urge to order chocolatey Little Devils from Sticky Fingers. I like defying stereotypes as much as the next person, but not at the risk of my health. In the long run, what omnivore is going to take a pudgy vegan seriously anyway? THAT is really the question to be considered.









Friday, November 12, 2010

The Power of Guilt

I have a confession to make. I am going through some dark days right now, and I did not order the bowl of strawberries for dessert the other day at Cheesecake Factory. I dove into my self-pity pool and opted for the Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple cheesecake. This even as I plucked from my purse a packet of Soy To Go creamer for my coffee. WTF is that about?? Really, should a marital crisis of epic proportions be an excuse to dive off the vegan wagon? Couldn't I have indulged my fears and sorrows in the berries? Or even a coffee with some whiskey in it? ANYTHING but a dessert that required heaven knows how many eggs, milk, etc. Mea culpa to all the cows and chickens to whose suffering I contributed so much at this meal. I feel terrible about this lapse. We are not talking about an alcoholic slipping up and having a drink. Going vegan was a conscious MORAL choice for me--it really had nothing to do with health or a need to battle an addiction. Nevertheless, I too easily set those values aside to feed this void in my soul when in fact all I did was increase the void. Shame on me! Is there anyone out there who can relate to me? Can I find redemption somewhere? Can someone tell me WHY THE HELL DID I DO THIS??

Friday, November 5, 2010

A November Observation

I hate going to the supermarket this time of year. Standing in line, I face magazine after magazine with covers boasting glossy photos of turkey carcasses and perky headlines about perfect Thanksgiving turkeys and dinners. Celebrating our blessings with a corpse as the main dish? I don't think so. Ironically enough, I believe Thanksgiving is the easist meal to prepare as a vegan. (No, it doesn't have to be Tofurkey or nothing!) For me, it has always been about the side dishes anyway, how creative AND how ambitious you can be. Heck, I can fill up just on cranberry sauce alone. Stuff a squash, not a bird, this year--there are SO many great recipes for preparing a good squash and the presentation is MUCH lovelier than a dead bird. And the real bonus? You won't get that awful bloatedness you feel when you get up from the table and lurch toward the sofa for that post-dinner nap.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

BOO!!!




How is this for a triple feature? Bunny Meets Tarantula, PumpkinHead, and Count Bunnicula! Happy Halloween, everyone! Keep your furkids safe--oh, and keep the animal dress-ups--i.e. HUMILIATION--to a minimum.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Hoppy Vegan

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Guilt - A Bunny Mom's Dilemma

I am drafting this at Starbucks and feeling very guilty. As I sip my venti soy latte, my six rabbits, including my newly disabled sweetheart Woodstock, are at home after two full days of being pampered by their mom. Surely they can handle being without me for just a few hours over the course of the five days I will be home with them. So why do I feel guilty stealing a little ME time?

Oh sure, it would be easy enough to blame it on my background--having grown up in a Catholic household, I am well-versed in the concept of guilt. No, I am inclined to think I am doing something many animal lovers are unwittingly guilty of doing--anthromorphizing!

I mean, really, do my rabbits really care that I am taking some time for me? I bet,in fact, they are actually glad to have the house to themselves. Oops, I did it again. I am presuming that they have human thought processes. For their sake, I truly hope they don't. I would hate to think of my sweet loving rabbits hampered by feelings of guilt over the stupidest of reasons. I would prefer they are sleeping and dreaming of their next meal of green leaf lettuce, slivered carrots, radicchio, basil, and fresh dill.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween from our Cinnamon!


Doesn't she have the cutest little pumpkin butt? : ) Cinnamon is our very prissy, UBER-sensitive bunny--especially when it comes to traveling in cars--and yet she was a really good sport about wearing the pumpkin vest. She made no effort to tear it off (as did others in our bunny household.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trick or treat!


I'm all set to go trick or treating. How about you?


Okay, yes, we dressed up our rabbits for Halloween photo shots this year. I plead guilty but as you see the photos that I will be posting here the next few days, you will understand why I, ardent opponent of animal exploitation, fell for this hokey habit for another year. Bottom line--rabbits look darn cute in monster outfits however exploitive it may seem. And besides, it's not that I make them wear the bat wings and pumpkin outfits all day. It's just for the photos. Still, my rabbit family is always happy when they see me put the camera away. Happy Halloween, all!

The Hoppy Vegan

Sunday, October 24, 2010

One Sweet Exquisite Moment of Pure Joy


This occurred this weekend, when I stepped into a stable and all these horses poked out their heads and looked in my direction. Their expressions, so intelligent, so eager--could it be they detected the carrots in my hand?--just filled my heart with happiness and admiration for the nobility of their species. A horse is more than a horse (of course.) : ) A horse is Nature at her finest. (And they have more in common with rabbits than you know, so technically this entry is not a diversion from the subject of my blog. : ) )

Monday, October 18, 2010

Trick or treat!



"Yup, that time of year again when Mommy feels compelled to dress me up. I'd better get some good treats out of it, or this rabbit will be full of tricks this year."
--- Ruby a.k.a. Diva, a.k.a. Bad Girl

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My bitch(s) of the day



Before I went veg, I used to be a foodie. Nothing gave me greater joy than going out to eat at a new restaurant. All these new creations that these chefs come with, all pleasing to the eye and the palate. Sadly most of the best meals I ever had animal flesh involved. And it is so hard where i live to find a fancy eating establishment that offers much for vegans. Sure, many places offer vegetarian options-or I should say,option, singular. Vegan? Forget it.

I should clarify the word fancy. I am talking the kind of places you need to make reservations for. Places which are intimate, places you buy a new dress for. I can't think of a single place in Virginia that fits that bill.

Today the Washington Post issued Tom Sietsema's annual dining guide. Useless, as usual, for those of us who choose not to eat our animal friends. Couldn't he at least insert a V next to the restaurants that we MAY be able to enjoy? Why are vegetarians always forgotten? I am still a foodie, always will be. My taste buds still long for delicious flavors to try. Surely with all the spices, vegetables, fruits, and nuts in the world, there are still tantalizing meals to be hand that we don't have to cook ourselves. Where are the vegan Emerils of the world, anyway?

One final note for today-we need to tell Food Network to get with the program. There are millions of us out there who want-no, demand-a vegetarian cooking show. The occasional veggie recipe Rachel Ray throws at us will not do. It will not do at all.













Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How low can humankind go?

I am angry tonight, as I am anytime I hear a story like the one I heard from Friends of Rabbits, a local rescue group here in the D.C. Area. I will copy the Facebook posting in its entirety here:

Someone dumped a rabbit in a flimsy cage on the side of rte 197 in Maryland. Fortunately a kind person picked him up before he was either eaten or hit by a car. He was so emaciated that we took him immediately to the vet. He will stay there a few days. The rabbit has HUGE ears and feet. Might be a flemish giant.

Why is it that people cannot comprehend the simple fact that A LIFE IS A LIFE, be it human, rabbit, cat or dog? What despicable instinct or thought tells someone to dump an animal on the side of a highway where he or she is almost certain to be killed? Yes, I am thrilled that there was a human kind enough to save this bunny, but it is the evil that lingers in my mind, always, when I hear things like this. What possesses people to do this?? All I can do is pray for karma to kick in, that these pathetic excuses for humanity will be abandoned one day themselves and face the same fear and terror they inflicted on animals.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Joe's Burgers

Today's observation: it is very disconcerting to know that the place with THE best veggie burger in town is called Joe's Burgers and sits beside a business called The Organic Butcher. (And it is appalling to know that at this particular restaurant they serve a foie gras burger. I guess some people just can't get enough cruelty into their diet.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

World Vegetarian Day


delicata squash stuffed with quinoa, cranberries and walnuts, Swiss Chard sauteed with garlic and grape tomatoes, steamed baby carrots and zucchini


Today, 1 October, is World Vegetarian Day and kicks off Vegetarian Awareness Month. It should be pointed out to those of you who still hesitate to even try going veg that this way of living is getting cooler by the year, and by that, I mean hip, not temperature. Mario Batali, famous chef, is said to be working on a vegetarian cookbook. Jamie Oliver is also said to be coming out with his own vegetarian work.

It is also easier than ever before to go veg, easier than even five years ago. For example, for those devoted carnivores who think fake meat is just too awful to contemplate, please keep an open mind. Clearly you haven't tried any of the Gardein products--the chicken scallopini, the chipotle lime chicken fingers, buffalo wings, beef tips. When I first made chicken piccata from the Gardein scallopini, my first thought was there is now officially NO good reason for ANYONE to eat chicken anymore in this world. Also, check out Field Roast items if you think you can't live without sausage. You WON'T live without sausage with Field Roast - you will only be without the cruelty that real sausage represents.

It is also fall, and you know what that means. SQUASH!! Tons of it and in infinite varieties! You can stuff squash in so many ways and it makes such a pretty dinner entree. There are so many great meals you can make, especially those of you who insist on resisting faux meat (Check out your farmers markets to see the variety of foods you have to work with, if you don't believe me). The possibilities are endless, as the hundreds of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks out there attest. Research! Google! Experiment! Cook and taste and savor. You don't have to eat meat to be a foodie. No need to fear, vegetarians eat well--vegans eat even better. So come on. Give it a try. One day, two days, maybe three days a week, go a day without animals on your plate. You will feel better for it in more ways than one.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy International Rabbit Day!


No, this is not a new holiday cooked up by Hallmark to sell more cards. Frankly I wish Hallmark WOULD recognize it and issue forth more cards with rabbits on them. In fact, International Rabbit Day was initially acknowledged by a British animal rights group which apparently no longer exists. Some sources claim the day is the 25th; others the 26th September. My understanding is, IRD is the fourth Sunday of September. Given all that rabbits mean to me, I say give them the whole damn weekend!

Only those of us who have shared our lives with rabbits can truly appreciate the love and joy and wonder that they bring to the world. We try to share our experiences with those who haven't had this priviledge in the hope of bringing understanding of these beautiful creatures to a world which still callously kills rabbits for meat, slaughters them for their fur, and tests every thing under the sun on their eyes and bodies. People do all of that even as they raise their children to believe in the Easter Bunny, eat Trix cereal, and give bunnies to their kids for pets. Talk about mixed messages. And don't even get me started about the despicable values promoted by 4-H clubs.

Rabbits deserve to be cherished, not exploited. They are warm, intelligent, social animals who, despite being prey animals, will, in time, learn to trust and love humans. I still marvel at that, especially when I come across rabbits who have come from either a home of neglect or abuse. Rabbits forgive us! They will let us back into their lives again, let us touch them and embrace them. Would we be so trusting of human beings if we were treated badly? Some cynically may claim that behavior points to stupidity, that rabbits can't learn from past experiences; those of us who know better, say it points to compassion. As a species we can learn alot from rabbits if we could for just some time stop looking at the world with our arrogant human eyes and start looking at it from those of creatures other than ourselves.

Rabbits love us and ask for nothing in return. But let us give them something back. Let's do all we can to make this world a better place for them. Educate people, encourage adoption, discourage the reckless breeding of rabbit mills; volunteer at a local rabbit rescue or advocacy group. Foster a rabbit to see if he/she is the right companion for you. All these steps make a difference. Every rabbit saved counts!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Food, tedious food


You know, sometimes I just get so sick of food.

An odd thing for me to say, not just as a vegan but as someone who used to live to eat, rather than the other way around. I am in one of those moods right now where I am just so sick and tired of planning meals. I feel a constant pressure by the need to put together a perfect meal of protein, carb, green, and I sadly am NOT one of these gifted people, true chefs who can look into their cubbards and make something out of any three ingredients. If I don't have a recipe in front of me, forget it. When it comes to food, I am just not impulsive or creative enough to take a chance and just whip something together.

And sometimes I just want the odd, whatever-is-there-in-the-house-that-is-the-easiest-to-put together meal. I can make do easily some nights with a plate of steamed broccoli with salt and nondairy butter, some bread, and a small spinach salad. Or maybe just some Gardein chicken wings cooked on the stove. Maybe just a cup of Leahey's vegan chicken noodle soup. Unless my hubby is away, I don't have the luxury to do that too often.

I guess what also makes food planning such a chore is the fact that I live in a bi-nutritional (is that the word?) household, by which I mean I am a vegan and my husband is a devout omnivore who also happens to hate most vegetables and ALL faux meat (even apparently brands like Gardein which he has never tried). This rather limits my options, as you can see, and that gets tiring. Some nights I have made two different meals for us, and let me tell you, that gets old very quickly.

I really do love to cook and bake and have many cookbooks to prove it. But I go through times like right now when I am just sick of it all, when just once, I would love to come home, knowing that someone else is cooking dinner tonight (and by this I don't mean take-out--we do a lot of that too.) To be able to sink into a chair and inhale the aromas of food someone else is preparing--THAT to me would be bliss. It is also NOT reality. I just will wait for this mood to pass. In the meantime, I am settling for Imagine Butternut Squash soup and salad tonight (and feeling guilty for being so chintzy about this meal too.) Just don't have the energy--and creative juices--to come up with anything else.

The Hoppy Vegan

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

William Cowper's "Epitaph on a Hare"

EPITAPH ON A HARE


[Written March, 1783. Published in The Gentleman's Magazine,
Dec., 1784; afterwards in 1800. A MS. copy is in the British
Museum.]

HERE lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's Hallo',

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who, nurs'd with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confin'd,
Was still a wild Jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance ev'ry night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk, and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regal'd,
On pippins' russet peel;
And, when his juicy salads fail'd,
Slic'd carrot pleas'd him well.

A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
Whereon he lov'd to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
And swing his rump around.

His frisking was at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching show'rs,
Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out his idle noons,
And ev'ry night at play.

I kept him for his humour's sake,
For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath this walnut-shade
He finds his long, last home,
And waits in snug concealment laid,
'Till gentler Puss shall come.

He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.


There has been a lot of sadness these days for a good friend of mine who lost two rabbits in a matter of three weeks, one of whom was 12 years old and the inspiration for Rabbitwise, Inc., the rabbit advocacy group for which I volunteer. I thought this poem by the 18th century poet and hare-lover William Cowper fits the mood right now.

The Hoppy Vegan

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Celebrating the Veg Lifestyle

I LOVE a good festival. I especially love one which celebrates vegan values, love of animals, and good health. The 2nd annual D.C. Vegfest was held today near George Washington University. Sponsored by Compassion Over Killing the Vegetarian Society of D.C., this event brought out even MORE people than last year--and that was estimated to have been around 3000! It was at one point almost literally wall-to-wall people today, and it was so wonderful to see so many interested in vegan options, and eager to sample all the foods. (I only went to the Coconut Bliss ice cream sampling table once, I swear!)

As the representative for RabbitWise, I had great fun donning my rabbit ears and posing with the PETA Carrot (I promise to post photo when uploaded later!). And it is always a joy to talk to people about rabbits--as many who know me know, I can never shut up when talking about my furkids. Of course, there is even at an event like this a character who manages to say the wrong thing. The first person who came up to our table--an Asian-American man wearing a Star Trek tie--asked if RabbitWise stood for eating rabbits. (Could someone please explain to me WHY people say such obnoxious things to those of us who rescue and love rabbits? No one says such crap to dog and cat companions!)

All in all, it really was a beautiful day--how could it not be when one starts the day with a Boston "cream" doughnut from Vegan Treats? This festival proved once again that you can be a foodie and savor delicious food, and be thrilled knowing that no animal had to die in the making of such pleasure. Vive les vegans and the D.C. Veg Fest, and thanks to all who make it possible.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The loss of innocence



Enough said.

Have a happy and cruelty-free Labor Day weekend, everyone.

The Hoppy Vegan

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just a smidge to the left, please



When vacuuming your bunny, please be sure to use the BRUSH attachment. Cocoa here goes crazy for this whenever we bring out the vacuum cleaner. Somehow the other bunnies Ruby, Woodstock, Cinnamon, Ghirardelli and Willow can't get into it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Miss Your Meat?

I know, what a repulsive title, but I have to be honest. As someone who came to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle late in life, I can't help having moments when I miss certain dishes. Let's face it--for 40 years, I ate cows and pigs and chickens and I enjoyed it. Meat is delicious, there is no getting around it. I was, if there is such a thing, a major steakaholic. I say only half kiddingly today that when I went veg, I saved cattle ranches full of cattle, that is how much steak I used to eat. And I blush when I think of all the legs of lamb I cooked over the years. It is all unthinkable now. Repulsive, even. But I digress...

The other day I was thinking of my grandmother--she passed away in 2006 at the age of 93--and recalling with great fondness her wonderful food. She was Italian-American and frankly the best damned cook I ever knew. She made the best traditional Sunday gravy--for the unitiated into the Italian culture, gravy actually refers to the tomato meat sauce we had with pasta. A gravy takes hours to put together because it usually involves pork chops, meat balls, sausages and--sometimes, to my hypocritical horror back then--PIG'S feet. And the secret to her meatballs was the mixing of veal, beef and pork AND cheese. Delicious, yes. Ethically? Morally? All so, so, so wrong. But the truth is, food is usually always tied up in memories of warm family gatherings and people you love (ESPECIALLY in an Italian household)--in the heart, it is hard to separate the two, and often that is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when giving up meat. Happily you don't have to give up the warm memories when you give up the gravy. Life goes on--time to make memories with all vegan dishes, something so easy to do these days with the plethora of vegan cookbooks out there.

In the long run, the past is the past. Denying its reality is pointless and denying that meat is delicious is silly for a latter-day vegan. I confess I do envy younger people today who have been raised vegetarian and have never tasted meat. It is good that they don't know what they missed for so many reasons. Do I miss the meat? Sure. I miss my grandmother more.

Dedicated to the memory of Fanny Raphaella O'Brien

The Hoppy Vegan

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To be vegan is to be free

Taco Hell has that old catch phrase, think outside the bun. Well, in a way, that is what we need to do as aspiring vegans. Think outside the traditional meal! We have been raised with this "rule" that a meal has to consist of animal, potato and vegetable. Boooooooooooooring!!! What is wrong with just doing a dish of veggies, as long as they are creative and flavorful? Tonight, for instance, I made a quick dinner of Tofurkey vegan cheese pizza and Swiss chard sauteed with lots of garlic (gotta get those dark leafy greens in! And I had them on the side, by the way, not ON the pizza--just so I;m clear.) Yummy! That was enough for me. Sometimes I will have broccoli, steamed, with nondairy butter, and a baked potato. Or maybe a bowl of soup--Imagine makes quite a few vegan soups that you can just plop in a pan and heat, adding whatever herbs and seasonings you like for a fast meal. I can tell you, I can make a meal easily JUST out of the lemony roasted potatoes from VEGANOMIGON cook book. Do whatever you want! BE FREE!! Why do meals have to follow any sort of game plan anyway? Make the only rule be that your dish is cruelty-free.

Of course, this is NOT so easy when you have an omnivore hubby to cook for, but that is an issue for another day. :vO

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Can't Always Get What You Want


"More willow toys! What, no chocolate???"

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Rabbit Shorned



Nothing like getting the cold bunny butt when you've accidently clipped off one of their front claw/nails. In our defense, Cinnamon fidgetted just at the wrong moment; the next thing we knew there was blood and cries of guilt-ridden lamentation on our part as we whipped out some flour to stem the bleeding and dabbed on some antiseptic cream. (Of course, Cinnamon also received extra treats--victim's compensation.) We even gave her a shot of pain meds too since Cinnamon tends to stress out about the LEAST little issue. Now as I write this, she is snuggling with her mate, Woodstock, totally ignoring the human who had held her while her claws were getting clipped. Best I can tell, all is forgiven, but if two weeks pass and I haven't blogged here, then she very well may have had her revenge...: )

Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review: Ninety-Five


Most people in America have never met a living cow or a pig, a chicken or a turkey. In No Voice Unheard's outstanding book NINETY-FIVE, through stunning photography and very moving stories, America can encounter the faces of animals normally perceived as mere food to be put on the table.

"Ninety-five" refers to the number of animals per year people on a vegan diet are estimated to save. Whether or not you accept that number, you will meet 95 of the millions of America's farmed animals in this powerful and moving book. These are 95 lucky souls who one way or another found themselves at animal sanctuaries around the country.


Take the rabbits, Farrah and Damien, for example. These poor animals were destined to be food until a kind person, horrified at that prospect, bought them, the rest of the litter and their mom from the marketplace and brought this fortunate rabbit family to an animal sanctuary. There is Julep the duckling, who had been rescued from a fois gras facility where she and other ducklings had been dumped into a trash can. And there is Peapod, a pig I happen to have met a couple of years ago at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland--this poor "babe" had been a prize in a greased pig contest. The person who "won" him took him into a parking lot whereupon he began lobbing rocks at and beating him. A security guard's intervention brought Peapod through a rescue group eventually to Poplar Spring. I can personally attest to this pig's sweet nature--he was very small when we met him and he came running to us when we called his name. I will never forget how he bounced off all the other pigs in the barn to get to us.

But then like the animals at these special homes,I'm lucky. I live close to an animal sanctuary so I can visit--and do every year--and spend time with turkeys and rabbits and pigs and sheep. NINETY-FIVE may be the closest most people will ever get to seeing the faces of these animals and bearing witness to their suffering. Each story, each photo, is rife with emotion and will stir your soul. How can you not be affected by the love story of Libby and Louie, a hen and a rooster who stood by each other's side through near-fatal illnesses? How about Linda and Tricia's story? Tricia is a blind dairy cow who came to the sanctuary in total distress and mourning because her calf had just been taken from her and sent to slaughter before she missed being sent to slaughter herself. When introduced to Linda, a disabled cow who had been living with the sanctuary's sheep and goats to avoid accidental injury by interacting with other cows, Tricia took to Linda right away, licking her new companion for hours. They are now inseparable companions, fulfilling each other's needs, just as we humans do in this crazy world of ours.

NINETY-FIVE is one of those rare books that you want to give to everyone. You can order it via Amazon.com, OR even better, you can order it directly from NO VOICE UNHEARD, the nonprofit organization who produced it (http://www.novoiceunheard.org/index.html NO VOICE UNHEARD offers a giving packages deal, where you can buy 5 copies of the book at a discounted rate. Nonprofit groups can also get in on some discounts as well. Their online bookshop reads, "Because our goal is to educate and inform, we want to make No Voice Unheard publications as accessible as possible. We have set cover prices lower than similar quality books produced by commercial publishers. By ordering directly from No Voice Unheard you are helping to support ongoing outreach efforts."

Get a copy, everyone. Do it for you but mostly do it for Goosifer the goose, Swoozie the goat, Aunt Bea the bunny, Rhubarb the rooster, and all the lucky farmed animals who survived a horrible fate. Perhaps you will find you will want to help make millions of other farmed animals lucky too.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Compassion of Animals



The first thing you need to know about my rabbit Cocoa is that, like most rabbits, he only tolerates being held--they really don't like it at all. We have worked out a system in how he indicates he wants to be put down (actually he worked it out, what choice did this poor human have but to acquiese??). When he is ready to be free, he nibbles on your shirt. You must be quick on the uptake in his signals, otherwise your shirt will go instantly from the outdoor clothing category to the "I-will-just-wear-this-around-the-house" pile. Only if you are lucky will he sit still for you for five minutes.

The other night I was having an extremely bad hare day (sorry, can't resist a good pun). It was so bad that I had the need to hold and cry on a rabbit. Cocoa, always so amenable to cuddles on the floor, allowed me to pick him up. I sat on my living room steps with him in my arms and wept all over his back, sobbing apologies all the while as his fur got wet. I knew any minute he would stir and move to take a bite out of my shirt. Weep, weep, weep. Still he didn't stir; he sat patiently as I stroked his sides and kissed his head and poured out all my frustrations to his long loppy ears. Minutes ticked by. Still, he made no indications he wanted to leave. And then, as I leaned my cheek against his back, he began to softly purr! I was astounded. He certainly wasn't responding to my lame little finger strokes or my holding him to my chest. His purring seemed more like a conversation with me, as if he were somehow communicating to me that all would be okay, just as I have told him so many times in the past, when I have held him when he was sick. You'll be okay, I remember whispering to him back in 2004, as we rushed across town in the middle of the night to an emergency vet. Cocoa in my arms then was chattering his teeth, his body temperature was not good, and we of course were bracing ourselves for the worst.

Here we are, six years later, and this time Cocoa in his way was doing the same thing, reassuring, comforting, consoling me in the only way he knew how. Do you know, he let me hold him for fifteen minutes? He NEVER fidgeted. He waited till I was calm again and ready to release him. And I did feel so much better because I had felt to the very core of my being that special connection, our BOND. Cocoa has always been a sweet, good-natured rabbit, but on this night, a new profound appreciation for his compassion stirred my soul. I wish every person could truly know an animal, be they rabbit, cat, dog, guinea pig, etc. and they could experience as I have the compassion that lies within them. I have said it again and again--humans can learn so much from their fellow species--if they could just stop long enough and pay attention enough to get to know them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just let us be


It seems that's all my Ghirardelli and Willow want these days. Until today, they have stayed camped inside their huge bunny condo, refusing to come out to play in the rest of the third floor of my townhouse. Willow, the one-eyed fawn colored girl, is extremely jealous and doesn't appreciate it when I approach her handsome mate, Ghiri. She has been rather nippy of late, especially at me--my husband, on the other hand, can do no wrong with her. Mmmm...what could THAT mean? : )

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Everyone should go to an animal rights conference


You don't need to be a card-carrying vegan or activist to come to an animal rights conference. In fact, I love seeing NEW people, the "mainstream" folk, as it were, coming in to stop at the tables and exhibits and ask lots of questions. Knowledge is power and I love seeing people willing to seek it out, however painful it may be.
No one ever wants to just preach to the choir--animal rights activists want what we already know to get out to more and more people because once you learn what we know, the only place to go is up toward enlightenment and action. I learn new things at each conference I go to, even when I think I have seen it all. Every conference is a precious, emotional and inspiring experience.

At the 2010 Animal Rights Conference sponsored by FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement-http://www.farmusa.org/) last weekend, a young woman came up to the RabbitWise table which I helped man. As she looked at the photos of white rabbits being skinned alive for their fur, her eyes welled with tears. I asked her already knowing the answer if this was her first conference--she said yes. She further indicated that she knew alot already about the gruesome exploitation of animals, that she had done so much research ahead of time and yet to see the images of animals being tortured for commercial purposes brought a whole new dimension to her experience. The important part is, she looked ANYWAY even with all her knowledge gathered beforehand. It is one thing to read about animals in pain--quite another to stare it in the face.

This is what we all must do, dare to look. Get out of your comfort zone--wake up to what is going on around you. See the suffering that most of us have at one time contributed to either by eating and wearing animals or buying products by companies who have used animals in their testing. Seeing is the first step to change, to make a real difference in alleviating the suffering so many of our fellow earthlings endure. There are many of us out there who will stand by you as you look, help you through the angst of realizing what you have participated in all these years and lead you to better happier choices. Please join those of us already in the know to make the world a happier healthier place for ALL the earth's inhabitants. You can only feel BETTER about yourself by doing so.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

For better or for worse


My oldest couple, Ruby the white Rex, and her mate Cocoa, who recently underwent surgery for a lump on his face. While she seems to perceive the antiinfection cream in the "hole" in his face as Twinkie filling and laps at it accordingly, she has also been seen kissing his face and grooming his ears, when she thinks we aren't looking. They are truly in this relationship for better or for worse. Human beings should be as loving in their relationships as well, but so often we forget, and we take our mates for granted. Just one more lesson we can learn from our beloved lagomorphs.

The Hoppy Vegan

Friday, July 2, 2010

Report: Japan hot-dog king hungry for July 4 win


What is it about the Fourth of July that inspires such ridiculous traditions like hot dog or hamburger-eating contests? Am I not the only one that is repulsed by the gluttony of it all in a world where even people in this country don't get enough to eat? What a concept--ingest as much cancer-causing, artery-closing, bad cholesterol-breeding meat as you can in as little time as you can. You want a challenge, America? Try tofu. Eat as many blocks of extra firm tofu in three minutes. (Marinated, of course.) Better that than to imagine some poor cow or pig had his life cut short so some schmuck can shove animal flesh down his gullet in record time. People do some stupid things--and these contests are a prime example of it.

On that note, happy Independence Day, everyone!

The Hoppy Vegan

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's the little things in life...


What could be more exciting for a vegan than getting $50 worth of goods for $25 at The Body Shop ( http://www.thebodyshop-usa.com/ )? How about discovering that at last there is something vegan I can actually eat at the mall food court?

In this case, it's a cupcake.

Granted, a chocolate cream cupcake that just happens to be gloriously vegan is not the most filling of lunches, but then I have been accustomed to ignoring the mall food court since I went vegetarian several years ago. Sadly the one eatery I used to enjoy lunch at was called Desert Moon, a TexMex place that even bragged about its vegetarian menu by posting the list for all to see. Now it is a greasy, fat-filled Taco Bell. That was the last time I bought anything to eat at my mall's food court.

But now, to my greatest joy, as of a month ago, Sweetz Bakery has arrived, with all sorts of custom made treats, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, AND they also do custom orders. I have no doubt my exuberance convinced the young lady working the stall that I was strange, to say the least. No one who chooses the whole animal kingdom to dine from can possibly understand how thrilling it is for a vegan in THIS part of Virginia to find ANYTHING with the label vegan attached. I devoured this sweet cupcake with such joy (think of the scene in JULIE AND JULIA, when Julia Child had her first taste of that fish in France, and you will understand what I felt!). I thanked my husband profusely for pointing out this treasure in our mall when he wandered to the food court to get himself a snack. Had he not walked by, I would STILL not know of this wonderful veggie oasis in the least likeliest of places.

GET A LIFE, you may be thinking. I say, take your joy whereever you can get it in this gloomy, oil-soaked, deficit-rising, animal-exploiting world. I am not only happy for my own selfish wants when I see places like Sweetz Bakery pop up in shopping malls--I am happy for the animals whose lives are saved because more eateries are recognizing there are millions of us who choose NOT to eat animals and desire guilt-free treats to sooth our sweet teeth. If only Dunkin Donuts could comprehend this, and give us some good vegan doughnuts. But that is a complaint for another blog.

To paraphrase a famous French queen, "let em eat vegan cupcakes!" : )

The Hoppy Vegan

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summertime...and the living is easy....


Cocoa and Ruby - life ain't too hard for these two loveydovey lagomorphs!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Home Sweet Home


The poet Robert Frost wrote "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." I thought of this line when I got home last night after a very long day at work. I felt guilty yet again of making my six furry rabbits wait for their dinner as I put in the overtime and then--oh the audacity of this!--stopping off to try the Berkeley vegan pizza at ZPizza. In my defense, I ordered this pizza to go and therefore it was not as hot as I would have liked it to be when I was finally able to sit down and eat it. Nevertheless, when I got home around 6:30 last night, we were facing some very put-out rabbits. Ruby, our diva, who does not comprehend the meaning of the word subtle, posed by her empty food dish, staring into it intently. You could HEAR the thought prcess--"What is wrong with this picture, HUMANS??"

I can't recall exactly when we started feeling guilty for trying to have a life outside the world with our rabbits. Don't get me wrong--the rabbits bring my husband and I the greatest joy, but we do miss sometimes the freedom of just going somewhere at the spur of the moment, have drinks and cigars somewhere, or maybe catch a movie at the last minute (I believe the last time we did THAT was pre-2002!) Last night was not exactly sneaking off for pleasure--that is not how I define working overtime, though I did enjoy being able to buy vegan pizza hot from the oven--and yet I felt overwhelmed with guilt when I got home.

Home is where the rabbits are, for hubby and me. Luckily for us, our lagomorph kids are still willing to take us in, and not just because we are their sole source for their nutritional needs. I can feel their love minutes later, after the initial "scolding" wears off, when Cocoa gets on the floor and welcomes me as I lie next to him to stroke his velveteen fur. Or when Ruby jumps on my back, and nudges the back of my head gently with her nose. Or when Cinnamon does a binky when I present her with her (tardy!) dinner. I would not give up those moments for ANY chance of "social freedom". I want what I already have. And that should be enough for anyone.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bunny Does Take Out


"Hey! Where are the water chestnuts??"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Going to the Supermarket

The late great George Carlin once did a hilarious bit about supermarkets and asked the audience if they ever noticed what foods other people put in their carriage. ("Ugh! F*#*ing canary mix!") I thought about this the other day at Whole Foods as I looked over my own carriage. Interesting choices--tofu, Field Roast vegan sausages, So Delicious nondairy mocha fudge ice cream, ham steak...

Whoa! Back up the truck. HAM steak?

Well, obviously it is not for me!

Still, I felt guilty as hell standing in line. I watched everyone else to see if they were checking out my groceries, preparing my defense if they dared to meet my eyes and give me an odd look. This is for my husband, I would explain hastily, a man who has yet to come to the inevitable conclusion that eating animals is ethically and morally wrong. Anyway, it is not like I buy him this every week. Usually I save the ham for Christmas...

The only other time I felt this awkward was another trip to Whole Foods when I was wearing one of my many pro-veg T-shirts. It didn't occur to me till after I put the hot italian sausage into my basket how odd an impression THAT must have made. I don't think even now my husband realizes what emotional turmoil a jaunt to a supermarket can be for me. At some gut level, I am selling out my own principles when I select meat products he likes, but what about this--what about the principle of marital compromise??

One of the complications when one in a married couple is a vegan and the other an omnivore is trying to find a middle ground when it comes to filling the food larder. I know hardcore vegans won't even allow meat in their homes, let alone cook it, and that is fine. But if you have been married to someone as long as I have (almost 20 years!) and you have changed on your own, there has to be reasonable compromise. My husband has come a long way and in some ways I know I've influenced him. He won't eat certain animals anymore--duck and lamb, forget it (still working on the pig and chicken!) And in truth, he is more a flexitarian than a meat-and-potatoes man, which he never really was, even those many many years ago when we met in high school. If he really wants to have meat, he usually has it outside the home. Still, I feel compelled that I have to give him some of the foods he has been familiar with. WHY, I ask myself constantly. Why is this? Why can't I just put my foot down and say, "Hon, I can't DO this anymore?" Why can't I just say that this really bothers me. I suppose at some gut level I am afraid I will lose him over this issue. After all, this is not just an issue of diet change. This is a matter of entire values-change. Literally a new way to look at the world. I no longer see the world as he does and I keep hoping he will see it as I do now, that killing and eating animals is unnecessary, unhealthy, AND it perpetuates suffering and violence. The kick-in-the-ass question is, what if he never does? Where does that leave the two of us? How long can any compromise last?

The Hoppy Vegan

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Where Every Squirrel Knows Your Name


This is just a frivilous blog today about the joy of sitting on my deck and watching critters of all kinds come to visit. When I got up this morning, Ben the rat (our new neighbor whose home is this narrow burrow he made under our outside air conditioning unit) was sharing the birdseed with Templeton (our name for whatever squirrel happens to be dining in at the time). Later, as I had my lunch outside, I watched grackles, cardinals, wrens, and mourning doves take their turns at the feeder. At first they did not want to approach, flying past the deck on several runs. Perched in the tree in the common area, they all loudly tweeted their protests of my presence on the deck. When they realized I was not going anywhere with my glass of Pinot Noir and red quinoa salad, they risked it all and came to eat. Later in the day, as I passed the deck door and looked out, I saw Chippie the Chipmunk (yes, I know, our names for our animal neighbors are abyssmally unoriginal!)snuggled on the rim of the feeder, stuffing his cheeks with seeds. I happily delight in the idea that my deck and birdfeeder is the CHEERS bar of the animal kingdom in my town. I still fondly think of those moments during our February blizzard when so many of these animals ate together, the cardinals AND the squirrels AND the chipmunks. Everyone huddled together to eat and survive. I would like to think they are grateful for the human efforts to keep them fed, but I know I am anthromorphizing. I CAN say with certainty that all these beautiful creatures, small, furry, beady-eyed, red-feathered, bring me the greatest joy in this life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

WWPSD or What Would Peter Singer Do?

As a vegan apprentice (have only been vegan since September 2009, hence the self-imposed title), I am still dealing with situations that are testing my resolve, moral fortitude, values, etc. I suspect that how I handled my meal yesterday at Clare and Don's Beach Shack would be frowned upon by the most ardent of vegans, but hear me out on why I did what I did.

Hubby and I ordered both appetizers and entrees at this very casual but fun restaurant which serves not only seafood and Cajun-style goods, but MANY vegetarian selections. The "uncrabcake" is one example. "Phish and chips" (or rather, deep-fried tofu and chips) is another. My entree was not a problem--swamp rice with tofu and veggies. My appetizer proved to be the issue, though, but I did not know this at the time I ordered it - buffalo tofu. As a former lover of buffalo wings, I was thrilled to find a restaurant which brought the same taste and sensation to tofu. We ordered the appetizers first, and I had started to eat it, when the waitress came by to take our order. When I asked if the key lime vinaigrette was vegan--I know, you're thinking, NOW she decides to ask questions!--, to her credit, the waitress pointed out that the buffalo tofu I had was NOT vegan--the sauce had butter in it. My stomach dropped. I had already taken a bite of it but even if I hadn't, once served, the dish could not be given to anyone else. I opted (rather shamefully) to keep and finish it. Thought process: to throw away prepared food is a waste in a world where so many are starving. What would that have proven? So I ate the tofu but had misgivings. My husband said I ordered this in good faith so no big deal. Tossing out the tofu would have added another wrong to a poorly made food choice.

I know, maybe I should have asked the waitress beforehand if the sauce was vegan. But I had honestly assumed because it was tofu, that the whole dish would be vegan (Yes, I KNOW, when you assume, etc. etc.) In retrospect, why one would assume that all tofu dishes are purely vegan is silly, I suppose. But that is what I was thinking at the time and now I ponder--what would Peter Singer have done? (For the uninitiated, Peter Singer is essentially the founding father of animal rights; I highly urge you to read his 1975 book ANIMAL LIBERATION. Visit him here at http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/)
I suspect he may have agreed with me, but even his views are somewhat controversial among animal rights activists (e.g. he has said in the past that some experients on animals may be morally justified if the experiment would have tens of thousands of human lives,but that over all, animal experimentation is wrong.)

At the end of the day, I know that as vegans we will not agree on everyone's actions and how they respond to certain situations as the one I describe (even Peter Singer has detractors in a world where we are all supposed to be focusing on helping animals.) I also know that people who eat meat are thinking I am being ridiculous and overthinking this. I was eating TOFU, not chicken, after all--no animal DIED for my meal, at least not directly. Still, every choice matters, and on this one, I blew it, however innocent my intentions were. So I vow to do better next time. : )

Oh, yeah, and when you find buffalo tofu on a menu--ASK before you order what's in the sauce.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Fussy Rabbit


"I want blueberry treats. And would someone please put on Animal Planet? Someone ate the buttons off the remote."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Aiming to Please the Fussy Rabbit


My Cocoa, who is eight years old, is going though another phase in which none of his usual treats excite or interest him. Given how careful one must be in giving rabbits not only a particular quantity of treats but also the KIND of treats, this makes it quite challenging when you want to make your rabbit very happy and we ALL want this, don't we, rabbit fans? When Cocoa first had one of these times, we resorted to giving him fresh basil for his treats. This would be like serving a child spinach in place of chocolate chip cookies. Somehow it is not the same. Still, don't assume your personal treats are good for them, even if your rabbit really wants that chocolate bar. One time as a lark my husband offered Cocoa one of his sugar free cookies, thinking our bunny would simply sniff it and leave. He snatched it and ran. DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME. Sugar free cookies are NOT intended for a lagomorph GI tract.

Thus far in my quest I have discovered two brand items which I am delighted to report have tickled Cocoa's fancy. They also got the okay from our vet. When in doubt, ALWAYS check with your rabbit-knowledgable vet regarding new treats.

(1) Gerbers Graduates Mini-Fruits for toddlers--these freeze-dried fruit cubes have my Cocoa prancing when I bring down the bag. You can get just apple, or a mix of banana/strawberry, and can find them in most grocery stores.

(2) Trader Joe's Freeze-Dried Blueberries--While I didn't find these snacks to be very sweet myself, Cocoa--and his lady friend Ruby--went cuckoo for them. The pther afternoon Ruby went so far as to rip the bag out of my hands, sending a shower of little blueberry balls all over my carpet (be careful if this happens to you, by the way--they are the same shape and size as bunny "berries"!) You can also get freeze-dried strawberries at Trader Joe's, if your bunny prefers that fruit.

Right now these two items will have to do. I know at some point Cocoa will resume wanting his dried spple and pineapple or his beloved Craisins. In the meantime, he is for the moment one contented old bun, and being the rabbit slave that I am, I will endeavor to keep him that way.

The Hoppy Vegan

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Somber Truth this Mother's Day


PLEASE look at this photo and think about it. Those of you who abhor eating veal need to know that when you drink cow's milk you are still supporting the veal industry. To keep cows pregnant, their young must be taken away from them almost immediately. The young calves are either condemned for a future life as exploited dairy cows or are thrust into veal gestation crates for a short painful life before being slaughtered. Drinking cow's milk is the same as eating veal. THINK ABOUT IT.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Honey Honey


Perhaps no subject creates such a major debate among vegans as does honey. By definition by the Vegan Society, founded in 1944 by Donald Watson who incidentally was also the creator of the term vegan, honey is an animal by-product and therefore, as with wool, leather, and other items derived from animals, must be forbidden to those who call themselves true vegans. Not every vegan agrees. Christina Pirello, vegan chef and author of This Crazy Vegan Life, declares she does not consider honey an animal product. She writes, "In the local hives I have visited, where I purchase my raw organic honey, the bees are treated like royalty so I have made my peace with my choice."

At the risk of getting my head served to me on a platter, I believe honey is the one item that we should all give a pass. Before I explain, I should note that I personally do not like honey--I find it cloying and too sweet. While agave nectar is also sweet, it doesn't inspire me to gag, as honey has in the past. But honey should still be allowable in one instance and one only--for medicinal purposes.

Unlike wool, leather, and silk, honey contains properties which serve to help us when we are ill. Recent studies conducted by Canadian researchers have shown that some honeys can kill the bacteria which lead to chronic sinusitis. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20080922/humble-honey-kills-bacteria

If honey is an effective means by which to combat human ailments, then it begs an ethical question for vegans--is it so wrong to use honey in this way? I would ask the most ardent of militant vegans that if the choice came between a medicine that has been tested mercilessly on animals and all-natural honey produced by bees, what is the better choice from a moral standpoint? (And by the way, I am NOT advocating anyone to abandon prescription medicines.) I personally prefer solving my health issues as natural a means whenever possible, and relying on regular medicine is frustrating. I have asthma and have heard that honey is believed to help with asthma. Instead of honey, I ingest sprays and pop pills. Does that make sense? I feel guilty using these meds, knowing that at some point they had to have been tested on some poor laboratory animals. If honey in fact can be as effective, why should I not use it (my distaste for its cloying sweetness notwithstanding?)

Honey proves that not all choices for people aspiring to be vegans are that simple, despite what the most ardent and militant vegan declares. Just food for thought on this hot and hazy May afternoon.

The Hoppy Vegan

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In memory of Barbaro


I cannot let Derby Day pass without lamenting the tragic losses the "sport" of horseracing produces every year. Barbaro's death really brought this home to many people, more than any other horse perhaps because he initially survived his accident. For months he fought to recover from the injuries sustained at the Preakness. Many thought he would make it and when he did not, many of us wept.

The photo above is one of my favorites of Barbaro, taken during his months of struggle for recovery. What a lovely horse he was. I heartily wish human beings could find other ways to entertain themselves instead of exploiting these exquisite animals for money.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wish We Could All Have a MOM Around


My Organic Market (MOM), that is! MOM is a supermarket which is heaven for any vegetarian and vegan to walk through. I had a lovely afternoon yesterday in the sole Virginia location in Alexandria--a very rare treat, since Alexandria is not at all convenient for me to get to. The bliss of being able to find everything I need in ONE location is hard to describe to anyone who just goes to one shop and gets everything at one trip. Imagine, a place where they sell Beauty Without Cruelty hair products AND lusciously flavored agave nectar. Or the most delectable vegan peanut brittle under the sun. A four-pack of Pacific brand almond milk--I haven't seen THAT at my local Whole Foods. There are Gardein products up the wazoo in the freezer section, so nice compared to the one or two kinds I see at my local market (usually the ones I am the least enamored of.)And ice cream made of hemp milk! Who knew? Thank you, Living Harvest for making it, thank you, MOM, for carrying it.

I am not saying that Whole Foods is all bad, but people don't jokingly call it Whole Paycheck for nothing. MOM is much more reasonable in their prices. I am so determined to get a MOM closer to my home that when I am out, I keep my eyes peeled for vacant business lots. If I see one in a location devoid of other grocery stores, I intend to write the info down and send it off to MOM's administrative offices. Bring more MOMs to Virginia. Maryland has quite enough of them, thanks.

My Organic Market http://www.myorganicmarket.com/retailer/store_templates/shell_id_1.asp?storeID=A6B40AE98C7842A98FC8DE4784880288

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How did you honor Earth Day?


Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Did you do anything to honor it? It could be as simple as drinking out of recycled wine bottle glasses (as I did this evening). Or maybe you planted some flowers. Did you go without meat today (sure hope so! : ) )? Did you stop to take a deep breath and admire the beauty of the nature around you? I like to contemplate the grace of the cardinals and wrens and mourning doves who visit my bird feeder every day.

I find the moments of purest joy in my life come from communing in some way with nature or natural phenomena. In this crazy hectic world of the 21st century, where we work long hours and get little sleep and worry about the economy and the war, these moments are too few and far between. All of us need to step back a few minutes every day to marvel at the wonder of the world and recognize the critical need to preserve it. Life is too short to ignore the roses or sad facts that gorgeous animals like tigers are facing extinction. Or that our rainforests have been depleted. That overdevelopment and the tearing down of trees have robbed so many birds of homes. That oil spills and overfishing are obliterating life in our oceans. Perhaps if we stole more little moments in our life--taking more hikes in the woods, jogging on the beach, planting flowers and herbs, having a picnic where wild rabbits and deer wander freely--our consciousness would be awakened to the reality that what is precious must be preserved at all costs and that all of us in some way can contribute. Even if all you do is adopt a vegetarian diet, you will make a difference. As with our own bodies, we only get one planet. We owe it to our children and their children to keep it healthy.

Here's to Mother Earth. Long may she live and long may she continue to dazzle us with her wonders.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just a lazy sunday...


Ruby and Cocoa just chillin'

Friday, April 9, 2010

Catch the great wave - of rabbits!



This is one of a series of prints by Kozy n Dan, pseudonym for a husband-and-wife artist team. Check out their blog -http://www.kozyndan.com/blog- their work is very eclectic and there are more rabbits to be found there. : ) This one is entitled Uprisings and is a homage to the work of a famous Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (born 1760 - died 1849) called The Great Wave off of Kanagawa.

I found the prints for sale at Leith Petworks, http://www.leithpetwerks.com/ a great resource of items for rabbit care and for the people who live with rabbits. Check out their boutique page if you are interested in any one or the set of four seasonal prints.

The Hoppy Vegan

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Letter to My Rainbow Bridge Bunny "Sweet Pea"


Dear Polly,

I like to think the warm spring weather we are having here is what you are enjoying at Rainbow Bridge this Easter--warm and bright sun, daffodils bowing in the breeze, crystal clear blue skies. I can see you now frolicking with other rabbits, trying to run the show, as you used to do here. I hope there are plenty of newspapers for you to tear up, like the stacks we set out for you to shred down the hall from our bedroom. Remember that, Sweet Pea? We always do.

On this Easter Sunday, it is hard to comprehend that it has been two years to the day since you left this world after an all-too-brief life with us. You were like a comet, blazing through our lives, filling our hearts with joy. It still seems incredible that you are not here. Even now, we find ourselves looking for you, expecting to see your face peering out at us from your favorite perch in Thump Tower. At night I like to remember how you used to lie at our feet on our bed; I hope you still visit us somehow during those wee small hours of the morning. I'd like to think that you are so close by, even if we can't see you. You are and always will be our angel bunny.

Love,

Paulette