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.