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Archive for February, 2012

China’s Dangerous Fast-Food Boom

China’s Dangerous Fast-Food Boom

February 21, 2012
Barbie Hsu
Actress and Singer Barbie Hsu

KFC and Pizza Hut’s parent company, Yum Brands, recently announced plans to open 600 restaurants in China this year. Dairy Queen aims to add more than 100 locations. McDonald’s expects to open a restaurant a day in China for the next three to four years. That adds up to a lot of greasy chicken and pizza, high-fat burgers, and cholesterol-laden ice cream.

This fast-food deluge is swamping traditional plant-based Chinese diets—with devastating results. Close to 39 percent of the Chinese population is now overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization. Type 2 diabetes now affects close to 10 percent of Chinese residents.

But we have a healthful remedy. On March 5, PCRM is introducing our 21-Day Healthy Challenge to Chinese-speaking people in China, Taiwan, and around the world.

Our free online Healthy Challenge program—based on our 21-Day Vegan Kickstart—can help people in China and around the world jumpstart weight-loss and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.

My colleague T. Collin Campbell, Ph.D., author of The China Study and Healthy Challenge coach, found through his research that traditional plant-based diets have provided some areas of China with protection from these diseases.

PCRM’s National Institutes of Health-funded clinical research shows that low-fat, plant-based diets can help people lose weight, reverse diabetes, and implement long-term changes in eating habits and health. And the best way to do this is to try a low-fat, plant-based diet for three weeks. The Healthy Challenge—offered in Mandarin—is a researched-based, fun, interactive way to do it.

Celebrity coaches, including actress Gao Yuanyuan, musician Louis Cheung, singer-songwriter Khalil Fong, and actress and singer Barbie Hsu, will join long-time PCRM friend Maggie Q in leading our Healthy Challenge. Participants will have free access to three weeks of meat- and dairy-free recipes for traditional Chinese favorites, such as vegan spring rolls, brown rice sushi, and ma po tofu. There’s also nutrition and cooking demonstration videos, a community forum, and an interactive restaurant guide.

Here’s Gao Yuanyuan explaining more about the program in Mandarin:

Please take moment to share this blog and link to with your Chinese-speaking friends and family.


Glossary of animal substances: a reference guide

Glossary of animal substances: a reference guide

Also see the “hidden ingredients” page for a guide to common animal ingredients to watch out for when food shopping.

Below is a list of substances used in food, clothing, cosmetics and other products which are or can be taken from animals.

Not all the substances listed below will always be animal-derived, the * symbol indicates that non-animal (synthetic, vegetable or plant/mineral-derived) versions/sources by the same name are known to exist.

If you are unsure whether or not an ingredient in a particular product is suitable for vegans, do contact the company to ask or check their website for information. 

  • Some companies specify which of their products are suitable for vegans on their website.  If they don’t, they can often provide a list of vegan products or advise you on whether a specific product is suitable if you get in touch with them.
  • If you do contact a company for information, politely ask them to label their vegan-suitable products.  Contacting companies to ask about vegan-suitable products shows demand for vegan products and better vegan labelling.

Animal-derived or possibly animal-derived substances

* = possibly animal-derived, non-animal versions also exist

albumen/albumin egg white Use/s: food binder
alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)* naturally occurring chemicals derived from fruit or milk Use/s: cosmetics
ambergris morbid concretion obtained from the intestine of the sperm whale used in perfumes and cigarettes
amino acids* ‘building blocks’ of proteins
amniotic fluid fluid surrounding the foetus within the placenta Use/s: cosmetics
amylase* enzyme in saliva and pancreatic juice
anchovy small fish of the herring family, often an ingredient of Worcester sauce and pizza toppings Use/s: flavour enhancer
angora fibre obtained from rabbits or goats Use/s: clothing
aspic savoury jelly derived from meat and fish Use/s: glazing agent
astrakhan skin of stillborn or very young lambs from a breed originating in Astrakhan, Russia Use/s: clothing
beeswax* (E901) secreted by bees to produce combs Use/s: furniture- and floor-polishes, candles, cosmetics
bone/bonemeal animal bone Use/s: horticultural fertiliser, bone-china ornaments, crockery, supplements
brawn boiled meat, ears and tongue of pig Use/s: foodstuff
bristle* stiff animal hair, usually from pigs Use/s: brushes
calcium mesoinositol hexaphosphate Use/s: baked goods, soft drinks, processed vegetables
capiz shell Use/s: lampshades
carmine/carminic acid (E120) red pigment obtained from cochineal Use/s: food and drink dyes
casein milk protein Use/s: cheese
cashmere fine wool from the cashmere goat and wild goat of Tibet Use/s: clothing
castoreum obtained from the anal sex gland of the beaver Use/s: fixative in perfumes
catgut dried and twisted intestines of the sheep or horse Use/s: stringed musical instruments, surgical stitching
caviar(e) roe of the sturgeon and other fish Use/s: a relish
charcoal* charred bone or wood Uses: clarifying agent
chitin organic base of the hard parts of insects and crustaceans e.g. shrimps, crabs Use/s: conditioners and skin-care products, thickener and moisturiser in shampoos
chamois soft leather from the skin of the chamois antelope, sheep, goats, deer etc. Use/s: cleaning cloth
cholecalciferol see vitamin D3
cholic acid (E1000) extracted from the bile of cows Use/s: emulsifier
civet substance scraped from glands in the anal pouch of the civet cat Use/s: fixative in perfumes
cochineal (E120) dye-stuff consisting of the dried bodies of scale insects, used for making carmine Use/s: red food and drink colouring
cod-liver oil oil extracted from the liver of cod and related fish Use/s: food supplement
collagen constituent of connective tissue which yields gelatin(e) on boiling Use/s: cosmetics, sausage skins, supplements
coral hard calcareous substance consisting of the continuous skeleton secreted by coelenterate polyps for their support and habitation Use/s: jewellery, ornaments
deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)* controls protein synthesis/stores genetic information. Found in all animal and plant cells Use/s: cosmetics, genetically modified organisms, shampoos
down underplumage of fowls (especially duck and goose) Use/s: filling quilts, pillows, sleeping bags, padded clothing
dripping melted animal fat Use/s: frying
eider down small, soft feathers from the breast of the eider duck Use/s: filling quilts
elastin protein uniting muscle fibres in meat Use/s: moisturiser in cosmetics
fatty acids* organic compounds: saturated, polyunsaturated and unsaturated
feather epidermal appendage of a bird Uses: fashion accessory, feather dusters
felt* cloth made of wool, or of wool and fur or hair Use/s: clothing
gelatin(e) jelly obtained by boiling animal tissues (skin, tendons, ligaments etc.) or bones Use/s: confectionery, biscuits, capsules, jellies, photographic film, match heads
glycerin(e)/glycerol (E422)* clear, colourless liquid which may be derived from animal fats, synthesised from propylene or from fermentation of sugars Use/s: solvent for flavours, texture improver, humectant
hide animal skin (raw or tanned) Use/s: clothing and footwear, clothing accessories, upholstery
insulin* pancreas of cattle, sheep or pigs Uses: managing diabetes
isinglass very pure form of gelatin(e) obtained from the air bladders of some freshwater fish, especially the sturgeon Use/s: clarifying alcoholic drinks, jellies
keratin protein found in hair, horns, hooves and feathers Use/s: shampoos and conditioners, fertiliser
L’cysteine hydrochloride (E920)* manufactured from animal hair and poultry feathers or synthetically from coal tar Use/s: shampoo, improving agent for white flour
lactitol (E966) produced from milk sugar Use/s: sweetener
lactose milk sugar Use/s: tablet filler, sweetener, carrier for flavouring agents, especially in crisps
lanolin(e)* fat extracted from sheep’s wool and hide Use/s: cleaning products, an emollient and emulsifier used in cosmetics, especially lipsticks
lard fat surrounding the stomach and kidneys of pigs, sheep and cattle Use/s: culinary
leather tanned hide (mostly from cattle but also sheep, pigs, goats etc.) Use/s: clothing and footwear, clothing accessories, upholstery
lecithin (E322)* fatty substance found in nerve tissues, egg yolk, blood and other tissues, mainly obtained commercially from soya bean, peanut and corn Use/s: emulsifier in baked goods and confectionery
lutein (E161(b))* deep-yellow substance found in egg yolk, obtained commercially from marigold Use/s: food colouring
lysozyme (E1105)* enzyme which may be derived from eggs Use/s: preservative
mohair cloth or yarn made from the hair of the angora goat Use/s: clothing
musk* substance secreted by glands of the male musk deer Use/s: perfume
oleic acid* fatty acid occurring in animal and vegetable fats Use/s: soaps, cosmetics, ointments
oleoic oil liquid obtained from pressed tallow Use/s: margarines
oleostearin solid obtained from pressed tallow Use/s: soap and candles
oestrogen* female sex hormone from cow ovaries or pregnant mares’ urine Use/s: cosmetics, body-building supplements, hormone creams
parchment* skin of the calf, sheep or goat, dressed and prepared for writing etc.
pearl (‘Mother of’, or ‘cultured’) concretion of layers of pain-dulling nacre formed around a foreign particle within the shell of various bivalve molluscs, principally the oyster Use/s: jewellery and decorative
pepsin enzyme found in gastric juices Use/s: cheese making
placenta organ by which the foetus is attached to the umbilical cord Use/s: cosmetics
progesterone* sex hormone Use/s: hormone creams
propolis bee glue, used by bees to stop up crevices and fix combs to the hive Use/s: toiletries and cosmetics
rennet* extract of calf stomach containing the enzyme rennin which clots milk Use/s: cheese, junkets
reticulin one of the structural elements (together with elastin and collagen) of skeletal muscle
ribonucleic acid (RNA) * see deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
• roe eggs obtained from the abdomen of female fish Use/s: a relish
royal jelly food on which bee larvae are fed and which causes them to develop into queen bees Use/s: food supplement
sable fur from the sable marten, a small carnivorous mammal Use/s: clothing, artists’ brushes
shellac (E904) insect secretion Use/s: hair spray, lip sealer, polishes, glazing agent
silk cloth made from the fibre produced by the larvae (silk worm) of certain bombycine moths, the harvesting of which entails killing the insect Use/s: clothing, cosmetics
sodium 5′-inosinate occurs naturally in muscle, prepared from fish waste Use/s: flavour enhancer
sperm oil oil found in the head of various species of whale Use/s: candles
spermaceti wax fatty substance found mainly in the head of whales and dolphins Use/s: medicines, candles, cosmetics
sponge* aquatic animal or colony of animals, characterised by a tough elastic skeleton of interlaced fibres Use/s: bathing aid
squalene/squalane* found in the liver of the shark (and rats) Use/s: toiletries and cosmetics
stearate* salt of stearic acid Use/s: body-building supplements
stearic acid (E570)* organic acid prepared from stearin
stearin(e)* general name for the three glycerides (monostearin, distearin, tristearin), formed by the combination of stearic acid and glycerin; chiefly applied to tristearin, which is the main constituent of tallow and suet Use/s: medicines, skin softener in toiletries and cosmetics
suede* kid-, pig- or calf-skin, tanned Use/s: clothing and footwear
suet* solid fat prepared from the kidneys of cattle and sheep Use/s: cooking
tallow hard animal fat, especially that obtained from the parts around the kidneys of ruminants Use/s: soap, candles
taurine* amino acid
testosterone* male hormone Use/s: body-building supplements
urea* nitrogenous waste formed in the liver and excreted by the kidneys Use/s: toiletries and cosmetics
vellum* fine parchment prepared from the skins of calves, lambs or kids Use/s: writing material
vitamin A* (retinol) derived from fish-liver oil or egg yolk Use/s: cosmetics, food supplement
vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)*(D3 is usually animal-derived) vitamin usually derived from lanolin or fish oil Use/s: vitamin and food supplements
velvet* fabric made of silk, cotton, rayon or nylon Use/s: clothing
volaise ostrich meat
whey residue from milk after the removal of the casein and most of the fat, by-product of cheese making Use/s: margarines, biscuits, crisps, cleaning products
wool hair forming the fleecy coat of the domesticated sheep and similar animals Use/s: clothing including felt, mattresses.


Animal-derived additives

E120 (CI75470) carmine/cochineal
E542 edible bone phosphate
E901 beeswax
E904 shellac
E913 Lanolin
E966 Lactitol
E1000 Cholic Acid
E1105 Lysozyme
calcium mesoinositol hexaphosphate
sperm oil

Possibly animal-derived

E101 riboflavin, lactoflavin, vitamin B2
E101a riboflavin 5′-phosphate
E153 (believed animal-free version only may be used in food) carbon black, vegetable carbon
E161(b) lutein
E161(g) canthaxanthin
E236 formic acid
E237 sodium formate
E238 calcium formate
E304 Fatty acid esters of ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate and ascorbyl stearate
E322 lecithin
E325 sodium lactate
E326 potassium lactate
E327 calcium lactate
E304 fatty acid esters of ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate and ascorbyl stearate
E422 glycerol (glycerine)
E430 polyoxyethylene (8) stearate, polyoxyl (8) stearate
E431 polyoxyethylene (40) stearate, polyoxyl (40) stearate
E432 polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate, polysorbate 20, tween 20
E433 polyoxyethylene sorbitan mono-oleate, polysorbate 80, tween 80
E434 polyoxyethylene sorbitan monopalmitate, polysorbate 40, tween 40
E435 polyoxyethylene sorbitan monostearate, polysorbate 60, tween 60
E436 polyoxyethylene sorbitan tristearate, polysorbate 65, tween 65
E442 glycerol
E470(a) sodium, potassium and calcium salts of fatty acids
E470(b) magnesium salts of fatty acids
E471 glycerides of fatty acids, glyceryl monostearate, glyceryl distearate
E472(a) acetic acid esters of glycerides of fatty acids, acetoglycerides, glycerol esters
E472(b) lactic acid esters of glycerides of fatty acids, lactylated glycerides, lactoglycerides
E472(c) citric acid esters of glycerides of fatty acids
E472(d)  tartaric acid esters of glycerides of fatty acids
E472(e) mono and diacetyltartaric acid esters of glycerides of fatty acids
E472(f) mixed acetic and tartaric acid esters of mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids
E473 sucrose esters of fatty acids
E474 sucroglycerides
E475 polyglycerol esters of fatty acids
E476 polyglycerol esters of polycondensed fatty acids of castor oil, polyglycerol polyricinoleate; polyglycerol esters of dimerised fatty acids of soya bean oil
E477 propylene glycol esters of fatty acids; propane-1,2-diol esters of fatty acids
E478 lactylated fatty acid esters of glycerol and propane-1,2-diol
E479(b) thermally oxidised soya bean oil interacted with mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids
E481 sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate
E482 calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate
E483 stearyl tartrate
E491 sorbitan monostearate
E492 sorbitan tristearate, span 65
E493 sorbitan monolaurate, span 20
E494 sorbitan mono-oleate, span 80
E495 sorbitan monopalmitate, span 40
E570 fatty acids (including myristic, stearic, palmitic and oleic), butyl stearate
E572 magnesium salts of fatty acids (including magnesium stearate); calcium stearate
E585 ferrous lactate
E626 guanylic acid
E627 guanosine 5′-disodium phosphate, sodium guanylate, disodium guanylate
E628 dipotassium guanylate
E628 calcium guanylate
E631 inosine 5’-disodium phosphate, sodium 5′-inosinate
E632 dipotassium inosinate
E633 calcium inosinate
E634 calcium 5’-ribonucleotides
E635 disodium 5’-ribonucleotides
E635 sodium 5′-ribonucleotide
E640 glycine and its sodium salt
E631 disodium 5’-inosinate (IMP)
E920 L-cysteine hydrochloride
E921 L-cystine
E1518 glyceryl mono-, di- and tri-acetate (triacetin)
calcium heptonate
calcium phytate
• and any unspecified flavourings.

Lactic acid as an additive is highly unlikely to be derived from dairy (in general commercial terms, 100% of the commercial market is from vegan sources) but if you want to be positive, you should contact the manufacturer.

The website has a list of all e-numbers and details of whether or not they are suitable for vegans.

Animal-derived carriers

Some additives that are not animal derived may involve the use of gelatine as a carrier.  These include E104 quinoline yellow, E160a(i) mixed carotenes and E160a(ii) β-carotene.

Reg. Charity No: 279228 Company Reg. No: 1468880


7 Steps to Becoming a Healthier Vegan

7 Steps to Becoming a Healthier Vegan

Eating more cupcakes and cheese than fresh fruit and greens? Listen to these simple bites of advice.

By Bianca Phillips | February 20, 2012

Prior to what some omnivores may believe, not all vegans are pictures of perfect health. French fries and Oreos are vegan, and thanks to enterprising vegan cookbook authors, any cupcake, cookie, or pie can be made without dairy or eggs. While snack foods and desserts certainly have a place in our lives, they probably shouldn’t be a part of our daily diets. Whether you’re looking to give up bad eating habits for spring cleaning or you’re looking to revive your already-forgotten New Year’s goals, these seven steps can help you get on track to becoming a healthier vegan.

1. Eat out of your fridge.
Between work, kids, classes, and volunteering duties, it’s hard to find time to prepare home-cooked meals. But living out of boxes and bags means taking in lots of processed foods. Choosing Raw blogger and VN food columnist Gena Hamshaw’s number-one piece of advice to vegans looking to adopt a healthier diet is to rely more on foods that can be stored in the refrigerator, such as fresh produce and tofu. “Stop pulling things out of boxes for dinner,” Hamshaw says. “I can’t tell you how many people I know who still eat cereal for dinner.” Instead, try preparing a few large meals over the weekend to dole out for lunches or re-heat for suppers throughout the week. That way, you can enjoy nutritious, home-cooked meals every night and still have time to walk the dogs at the local animal shelter.

2. Cut out the white stuff.
Simple carbs like white bread, white rice, and white pasta are high on the glycemic index, which affects your blood sugar and can make you feel hungry soon after eating your bowl of spaghetti. Swap white foods for complex, carb-rich whole grains, such as whole-wheat pastry flour, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice. Mix in some gluten-free versions for variety.

3. Limit sugar.
In the words of Skinny Bitch authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, “Sugar is the devil.” That may sound a little extreme, but sugar has no nutritional value and lots of calories. Switch to evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, or maple syrup-sweetened desserts, and try to only indulge in sugary desserts two to three days per week. If you must have a daily dose of dulce, alternate the naughty stuff with raw nut- or fruit-based desserts. A tip from Hamshaw: “Make desserts with whole grains and actively work to reduce the sugar content.”

4. Eat more greens.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends filling a little more than one quarter of your plate with vegetables, and it recommends adults eat between two to three cups of veggies per day depending on age and gender. In Vegan’s Daily Companion, cookbook author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says she has a personal goal of eating one pound of green leafy vegetables each day. That may sound like a lot, but greens pack a nutritional punch and many, such as collards and kale, are great sources of calcium. Steam or sauté greens for side dishes, or enjoy raw kale in salads or wraps. Pack more greens into your diet with homemade green juices or smoothies.

5. Go partially raw.
Eating 100-percent raw isn’t for everyone, but working in a daily dose of raw in the form of salads, nut-based energy bars, or flax crackers will provide a nutrient boost. Hamshaw says her energy and stamina increased dramatically after switching to a mostly raw diet. “Eating a diet high in raw foods and that incorporated juicing was really a game changer for me,” she says.

6. Move your butt.
The USDA recommends two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity for adults ages 18 to 64 each week. Mix it up with sporting activities, running, biking, hula hooping, or dancing (yes, your nightclub plans for Saturday can double as a workout). Besides improving cardio health and your waistline, Chef Alan Roettinger, author of Speed Vegan, says exercise can have side benefits: “I used to smoke, and then I started taking martial arts. I couldn’t do both, so I quit smoking. And then I started eating better and not staying up late. I got addicted to feeling good.”

7. Cleanse.
An occasional week-long or month-long cleanse focusing on whole foods, raw foods, and juicing is a great way to get yourself back on track when you’ve fallen off the wagon. Roettinger recommends cleansing to break a nasty junk food addiction: “Take some distance from [junk food], even if its just a week or two weeks. Have green juice and fresh food. You will feel better and the junk will slowly start to lose its appeal.”

Ready to get started? Arm your new, healthier self with these tasty, great-for-you recipes!
Almond-Miso Soup
Raw Spanish Rice

Bianca Phillips blogs at Vegan Crunk and is the associate editor of the Memphis Flyer, an alt-weekly newspaper in Memphis, TN. Look for her vegan Southern comfort-food cookbook, Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South, in early summer.


A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Advocacy

A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Advocacy

by Angel Flinn & Dan Cudahy

Post image for A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan AdvocacyDuring the past few years, the call to reduce our consumption of animal products has grown tremendously. There is a great deal of diversity amongst the individuals and organizations behind this appeal, as well as in the reasons and benefits they point to, and most of them are not vegan. However, there is one thing they have in common, and that is that they are all making it easier for people to be vegan for life. Indeed, the movement away from animal use is shaping up to possibly be the most significant social phenomenon of the 21st century.Vegan recipe blogs, which illustrate innovative techniques for preparing a huge range of delicious, satisfying meals and treats, have proliferated into the hundreds, if not thousands. Both the number and the variety of vegan food items are increasing annually in restaurants and supermarkets.  New vegan businesses are opening every year, and thriving more than ever, including cafes, bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores, clothing and apparel stores, online boutiques, and even retreat centers and B&Bs.

Professional dietitians, in increasing numbers, are helping to guide consumers through the sea of books, blogs, articles and DVDs to learn how to achieve vibrant health on naturally wholesome vegan diets, as well as making it easier than ever to avoid the poor nutritional choices that frequently result in the “ex-vegan” phenomenon.

Note: Some may be surprised to find this out, but it is becoming more and more well-known that all nutrients required by the human body can be obtained from non-animal sources, including plenty of protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and fatty acids such as Omega and DHA oils. If there were any nutritional deficiencies in well-planned vegan diets, the mainstream American Dietetic Association, American Medical Association, and similar science-based organizations would be broadcasting them far and wide.

For those of us who are committed to ethical veganism, it is essential to derive all our nutrients from non-animal  sources. Although there are those who claim to have experienced nutritional deficiencies caused by a plant-based diet, it seems ever more likely – in light of the information we now have access to – that these individuals may not have been sufficiently informed about vegan whole foods nutrition and the many options for nutritional supplementation, including the huge range of whole-food supplements that are becoming increasingly accessible for all of us in the developed world.

As the devastating environmental effects of animal agriculture become increasingly apparent, environmentalists are speaking out about the industry’s blatant offenses against the global ecosystem, such as deforestation for grazing, the cultivation of vast feed crop monocultures, extremely high emissions of carbon and other warming gases such as methane, the careless squandering of oil, water and other finite natural resources, and the pollution of our air, water and soil – all while this filthy industry is artificially propped up by tens of billions of dollars in government welfare funding.

With the growing popularity of social media, the educational resources shared by dedicated advocates are making it easier for the previously uninformed to bear witness to institutionalized cruelty that is not only perfectly legal, but so horrific that most of us turn away in distress, unwilling to endure with our eyes what innocent others are forced to endure with their bodies.

And a growing number of abolitionist vegans are explaining and demonstrating the simple fact that unless we shift the paradigm to fully include these sentient beings in our moral community by embracing veganism and rejecting the property status of animals, there will be no end to the socially-acceptable barbarism which allows us to treat beings as innocent as our children as economic commodity units.

The Internet, while still dominated by large corporate interests, has comparatively democratized the ability of grassroots advocates to share information. Blogs, forums, and social media sites have opened up communication lines for rational dialogue among everyday people at a rate of growth unprecedented since the invention of the printing press.

In the past, some individuals may have felt tempted or even obligated to tap into the wide reach of large organizations that soak up the majority of the funding available for animal advocacy by appealing to mainstream values with a message promoting animal welfare or vegetarianism. But now, individuals who are genuinely concerned with fundamental issues of animal rights are able to make their voices heard independently.

Given the burgeoning opportunities, advocates can pick and choose what methods and media suit their talents, personalities, preferences, and geographic locations. If you’re a gregarious extrovert in the city or suburbs who loves to chat with people on the street, you might do well setting up tables at festivals or street stalls with cupcakes or finger foods.

If you’re confident about your ability to prepare amazing food, you might enjoy holding a vegan cooking demonstration in your own home or elsewhere, or hosting vegan dinners or potlucks with a suggestion to guests that they bring a friend who’s interested in learning more about veganism.

Or, if you’re an introvert who would rather cross the street than engage with people you don’t know, blogging, vlogging, and social media advocacy would likely be your preferred venue. (Those of us who live in rural areas also usually find it easier and far more effective to use the opportunities offered by the Web for our advocacy.) Not confident in your writing ability? No problem – perhaps you can team up with another advocate who inspires you, and help them to be more productive by doing research or writing outlines that they can polish up into an engaging article for publication. Maybe you’re better at editing than writing; you might be able to find someone who’s in need of assistance with that. Collaboration (with someone whose approach appeals to you) can be a great way to achieve more and reach out further.

Note: There are some activists who insist that face-to-face outreach is somehow superior to online communication. However (in the absence of comprehensive studies), is there any reason to think offline or online advocacy is more effective than the other? It seems that the strengths of online are the weaknesses of offline, and vice versa, but neither seems to be more effective than the alternative.  Offline, face-to-face advocacy can often be more personable and forthcoming than online due to the subtle nature of nonverbal communication (not to mention the unquestionable power that mouth-watering vegan food has over the skeptical consumer harboring imaginary fears of sensory deprivation as a result of eliminating animal products). But online advocacy – which works around the clock, everyday, for all those who understand the language – can reach many more people, oftentimes by a few orders of magnitude.

More important than the venue or media used in advocacy, however, is the quality of the content. Excellent vegan food, a powerful vegan message, and friendliness and charisma will obviously do much better while tabling at a festival than bland or unappealing food, a message of compromise, and mediocrity, aggression or a judgmental attitude. And good photography, terrific vegan recipes, and well-researched, convincing writing will do better online – all other factors being equal – than content of lesser quality.

Finally, quality entails knowing what not to promote. Encouraging the purchase of animal products purported to be produced under ‘ethical’ conditions (free-range, cage-free, humanely-raised, grass-fed, organic, etc.) serves only to reinforce the common, traditional belief that it is morally acceptable to use other animals as resources for human consumption.

The same can be said for the confused and confusing message generated by the promotion of a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, which ignores the violence inherent in the production of milk and eggs (not to mention the barbarism involved in the manufacture of other animal-based products including clothing and toiletries), as though these equally brutal industries should somehow be exempt from the moral examination undertaken by those who view meat production to be an intolerable form of injustice.

The fact is that none of us needs any animal products in our lives. We exploit animals and consume the products of their bodies because of pleasure, amusement, convenience, and blind tradition – all trivial reasons to rationalize the brutality of unnecessary exploitation.  Sadly, no matter what we say or how well we say it, the fact is that most people won’t go vegan simply upon hearing our message. However, as vegan advocates, veganism is the message we should exclusively and unequivocally promote.  Anything less – promoting vegetarianism, or the consumption of ‘humane’’ animal products – betrays the fundamental truth that brings us to veganism in the first place: the understanding that we must bring an end to all exploitation if we are to move beyond the pandemic of violence that underlies our current cultural paradigm.

It is not unusual for animal advocates to be deeply troubled and frustrated by the state of our society and its hardened attitude toward animals who are not human. But social change, while often slow, is also unpredictable, subject to tipping points, paradigm shifts, and peaceful revolutions in attitudes and behavior. As someone who advocates unequivocally for widespread veganism, don’t forget that you are among the gentle, strong, and independent-minded pioneers of a growing, positive, and peaceful movement to protect our environment, improve public health, and most important, to eventually end the social acceptability of violence and injustice inflicted on the innocent.

With a little effort, courage, creativity, and the willingness to share what we’ve learned with patience, persistence, and understanding, we can all help others to understand the significance of this essential change we are trying to bring to fruition.

In the words of Albert Schweitzer,

“A man can do only what he can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day.”

Previous post:

VEgan on the Cheap

Eating Vegan on the Cheap

by Myscha Theriault on 15 February 2012 5 comments

Exploring a plant-centered lifestyle is popular these days, but with it comes the common concern of a cost increase for the household grocery budget. Now that I’ve been in a (mostly) vegan household for a little more than two years, I’ve learned a thing or two about going vegan on the cheap. Here are a handful of my top tips. (See also: 25 Delicious, Healthy, and Cheap Bean Recipes)

Select Seeds

When it comes to vegan protein, many people gravitate immediately towards nuts. While I love a good cashew-pepper stir fry as much as the next girl, stocking your pantry with even conventionally grown nuts can cost as much per pound as high-quality organic meat. If you’re looking to spend less, seeds are a safe bet. For example, sunflower seed kernels can be used to make spreads, seed butter, gluten-free baked goods, and more. I’ve also found that organic versions of popular seeds such as pumpkin, flax, sesame, and others actually cost less than conventional nuts as well. Bonus? Those with nut allergies can feel free to indulge.

Season With Liquid Smoke

This is one of the best-kept secrets of maintaining a successful plant-based diet. If you’re new to being vegan and are concerned about filling your flavor requirements affordably, liquid smoke is something you are going to want to purchase for your refrigerator. Available in a variety of flavors, it adds smoky goodness to any dish you want, making it more like the meat dishes you may have previously been used to. I use it in Middle Eastern eggplant dip, pea soup, and other dishes to add “meaty” flavor without the actual meat.

Stock Up on Beans and Legumes

In addition to the seed suggestion above, beans and other legumes and pulses pack a nutritional punch as well. For example, there are several split pea recipes that are very affordable and easy to make. And not all of them are soup based. Another often-overlooked vegan grocery item is lentils. There a number of varieties that can be used in pilafs, soups, vegan meatloaf, and more.


Go for Green Groceries

While organic groceries are great, what I’m talking about here are fresh grocery items that are actually green in color. They tend to be some of the highest-rated items on the nutrient density index and can be remarkably affordable. Organic romaine hearts go on sale all the time, making them a steal for salad fans. Other affordable ideas include incorporating some frozen broccoli recipes, roasting Brussels sprouts, and trying out baby spinach as an add-in for some of your favorite sandwiches and pasta dishes.

Try Toppings

Incorporating a few toppings is a great way to jazz up a meal. They don’t have to be expensive, either. For instance, chopped scallions are one of my favorite soup garnishes for simple broths, tomato bisques, and old-fashioned potato soup. They dress things up, are nutritious, and can be prepared relatively quickly with a chef’s knife and cutting board. Another option for enhancing a meal affordably is to use creative salad add-ins. Bacos — believe it or not — are actually vegan. I love to use them on top of salads, on pizzas and even in tortilla wraps. Homemade croutons are another one of my favorite salad ingredients.

Choose Long-Lasting Produce Items

For those with crazy schedules, watching produce go bad due to lack of time can be disheartening. That’s why shopping for long-lasting veggies such as cabbage and onions can keep you on track financially while still keeping you stocked with vegetables. This might mean you eat fewer salads and enjoy winter squash more often, but in general you’ll have more flexibility with your groceries when work keeps you on the go.

Once you’ve done your research and test driven a few types of recipes to determine what’s right for you and your family, you’ll see that pulling off vegan on the cheap isn’t necessarily as difficult as you might have previously have thought. For those more experienced vegans reading, what are some areas of savings that might surprise the rest of us?

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How to switch your dog to a home cooked vegan diet

How to Switch Your Dog to a Home Cooked Vegan Diet

Published on January 31, 2012 by GirlieGirlArmy  ·   14 Comments

Meat nearly killed my dog.  First, a little history…

We adopted our Chow/Shepherd mix, Knish (yup, that’s his name!) in 2006 and fed him good old fashioned commercial dog food; kibbles and canned meat.  But we found that our boy had quite the sensitive stomach.

For months we tried different commercial brands to try and ease our pup’s testy tummy, changing them slowly and gradually, but to no avail.  It was diarrhea city for our baby.

At the time I was vegetarian (now vegan) and busy working as a lawyer.  While I didn’t eat meat for years because I was a huge animal lover, I was fairly ignorant about the horrors of factory farms and definitely didn’t think a non-meat diet for a dog was even possible.

Because of my dog’s queasy stomach I started researching what goes into commercial dog food…

“Meat byproducts” (lungs, kidneys, brains, bones, intestines, etc.), “meat meal” (zoo animals, road kill, and even other euthanized dogs and cats; say what?).  Big companies certainly get creative in making profits off of things that are “unfit for human consumption”.  Add in loads of chemicals, preservatives, and cheap fillers, mix it with big bucks for a happy healthy dog ad campaign, and you have disgusting products that look pretty and make millions.

I had read enough.  We decided to try home cooking his food to see if it helped to harden up his stool.

We cooked him brown rice with cooked meat and veggies.  Again, I hadn’t eaten meat in years so it was not fun for me, but at the time I didn’t think a dog could go without meat and I no longer trusted dog food.  This new diet solved his stomach problems completely and we did this for almost 2 years.

And then one day, we fed him the wrong meat…

He began throwing up uncontrollably, over and over again.  Then the diarrhea started. We rushed him to the vet with it coming out of both ends all the way there.

The vet kept him overnight, certain it was some kind of food poisoning.  The next morning when I arrived, it was as though he aged 10 years overnight.  By now he was throwing up and pooping blood.

Two more days and nights later… The vet said he was doing well on the meds and IV and could go home.  I took one look at my boy and expressed my doubts.  He looked like a dead dog walking.  I’ve been around animals my whole life and I have never seen an animal get that sick.

He told me to try.  Knish hadn’t eaten in 3 days and he thought he might relax enough to eat something at home.  Within one hour of being home, no eating, and 2 diarrhea bathroom breaks, I walked out onto our porch and found my baby lying in a pool of blood.  It was literally pouring out of him.

My heart broke, my stomach dropped to the floor, and panic ensued.  I rushed him back to the vet crying the whole way.  Three more full days and nights of treatments and IVs and a hefty vet bill to boot.  Finally, he was able to go home.

Our vet said they could not identify the exact bacteria that got him sick without doing invasive testing.  All we knew was that it was caused by his meat because that was the only thing he had eaten in the previous 24 hours and we had just purchased it.

Two days later, the article on the cover of the New York Times was about a massive meat recall due to an E. Coli outbreak.  I had my answer.  He had all the symptoms of E. Coli poisoning.

By this time I was vegan and well educated on factory farming.  Feeding my dog any type of animal had grown more and more difficult for me and more expensive as we tried to purchase locally farmed products.  So I researched feeding your dog a home cooked vegan diet.  After much experimentation and vet consults, we got a formula down that works for him and us and we’ve been doing it for about a year and a half now.

Knish is the perfect weight, in perfect health, and fit as a fiddle – lean and muscular – with a nice shiny coat.  And I might add, his breath is awesome 🙂

Ingredients for My Dog’s Home Cooked Vegan Dog Food:

Note: Every dog is different and transitioning your dog to a vegan diet must be done with veterinary supervision.  Diets must be catered to your dog’s breed, size, age, health issues, etc.  You also need to do yearly blood tests to make sure they’re getting the nutrients their organs need.  Nothing in this article applies to cats as feeding them a vegan diet is much more complicated and dangerous.

  • Brown Rice (we cook this in our rice cooker)
  • Protein: A different type of bean every week to vary the nutrients (i.e., black, pinto, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, fava, lentils, red kidney, etc.). You can also use tofu, tempeh or seitan but we find that isn’t as cost efficient.  Sweet potatoes are also a good addition but should not replace the beans.
  • Note: Our dog likes lentils the best so we use them frequently (green, yellow, etc.).  They’re small so you don’t have to worry about mashing them up as much and they seem to digest the best.  For bigger beans, you must mash them.
  • Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health: I learned about this from The Kind Life.  It’s an excellent holistic dog food pre-mix made from 6 organic grains, 9 vegetables and 14 herbs.  It’s dehydrated so all you have to do is add hot water (it looks like oatmeal with veggies in it).
  • Alternative Option: You can also steam veggies with nutritional yeast and then puree them.
  • Olive Oil: For their coat.
  • Natural Balance Vegetarian Canned Formula: The above ingredients are all we used for quite some time but per a vet’s recommendation, we now supplement his food with this canned food.  Before we started using this we gave him supplements (i.e, Taurine, L-Carnatine, and VegeDog Supplement) but I always worried about whether or not we were giving the right amounts for his breed, size and age.  Because this canned food is a balanced diet we no longer need to worry about adding supplements (and according to the vet, giving supplements on a balanced diet can be harmful due to over toxicity).  There are other vegetarian canned dog foods but my dog only likes this one.  If you don’t want to use this you need to work with a pet nutritionist to determine the right balance of supplements.

Preparing all of this may sound like a pain but once it becomes part of your routine you get used to it.  To me, my pup and my peace of mind are well worth the effort.  To make our lives easier we make one huge batch that lasts about 6 days for our 60 llb dog.  We feed him twice a day which we were told is better for dogs on a vegan diet.

We use a 48 oz bag of brown rice, a 16 oz bag of beans, a large bowl of Dr. Harvey’s, and 2 cans of Natural Balance.  We then add in the oil (sorry, we don’t measure that!), mix it all together, and his food is done for the week.

Tip: If we run out of time or haven’t made it to the store we’ll sometimes substitute the home cooked beans with canned beans, canned vegetarian chili, or canned lentil soup.  The veggie chili and canned soup also helped us transition him to this new diet as he seemed to enjoy the flavors.

Our dog is insanely picky about what he eats (he turned down many brands of commercial dog food!) so I was surprised by how quickly he took to this diet.  He’s happy, healthy, and fit.  And when he kisses me his breath doesn’t send me to the floor!

It eases my heart to know I’m not cooking him meat or giving him dog food I don’t trust and so far we certainly haven’t had any more emergency vet bills.  It takes some effort but it’s been so worth it.

Veterinary Resources for Transitioning Your Dog to a Vegan Diet:

  • School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California Davis (; (530) 752-1393/7892). They will create a home cooked food plan for your dog based on blood work.  You must submit a Nutrition Consult Request Form and a Diet History Form (along with blood results).
  • Dr. Armaiti May, DVM ( – She is a vegan vet who does phone consultations.

Liz Longacre is the founder of the Gentle Living. Gentle Living covers everything involved in living a gentle but powerful life.


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