Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Need A New Blender, A Mattress, Or Maybe A Yoga Mat? Check Out This Giveaway!

One of my best fellow vegan friends, AJ, at queerveganrunner, is hosting a CNS Stores giveaway! Anyone can enter. Check out her post for the details regarding how to enter this contest. It's pretty simple, I promise, and you can get anything from kitchen ware to fitness gear. 

photo credit
If I win, I'm totally going to buy this Kundalini Yoga dvd. Gurmukh of Golden Bridge Yoga (located right here in my home of Los Angeles!) is featured in it. I've haven't (yet) been to a Kundalini class, but one day this summer, when I was "supposed" to be doing other work, I happened across this video she'd posted in which she addresses self trust. This was one of many videos she's posted, some of which feature more guided meditations, others of presentations she's given throughout the world.

Watching this was like peering into an entirely different world, and despite the unfamiliar chanting, Gurmukh's words really touched me.

"No, I haven't seen it yet, but I've already decided to love it." What an awesome concept.

Good luck if you enter the giveaway!

Animal Acres, Sanctuary to Farm Animals & a Vegan's Disneyland

Once a farm animal becomes too sick or injured to be considered profitable, he or she is often euthanized or abandoned - often literally left on the side of the road, in the latter case. Sometimes, even healthy farm animals are abused, abandoned, or neglected, for no reason at all, such as the recent case of chicken hoarding.

Animal Acres is a farm sanctuary located an hour outside of Los Angeles. It's completely volunteer run, so me and some of my animal-loving friends decided to participate as volunteers. Together, we cleaned the cow and donkey pastures and horse corrals, and carried sacks of pig and chicken feed to the barn. These are some photos from the first of what I hope will be many visits to the farm!

Sundance the goat can enjoy her hay in peace now that she's safe at Animal Acres!

Posing with a friendly cow named "Sugar."
Turkey Lurky, the very vocal and comical turkey that loves to follow you around and fan out her majestic feathers for you.
Sweet, little Cowboy, the calf. He's just a baby guy!
Posing with Honky Tonk, the donkey that LOVES to nuzzle and be as close as possible to his human visitors.
From a cow's point of view, it's a much better life at Animal Acres than on a dairy farm, where she would be constantly pumped with hormones, impregnated, and separated from her calves, all just so she could produce more milk. I can only agree with her; at a farm sanctuary like Animal Acres, she's no longer exploited for her reproductive system.

If you're interested in volunteering or simply hanging out with the animals, there might be a sanctuary near you! There are many kinds of animal sanctuaries, not just those for farm creatures. Check out the list I've compiled below. And if I'm missing any sanctuaries, or if I've added a place that shouldn't be on the list, please email me or leave a comment.

Whisper's Sanctuary - Sierra Vista, AZ

The Gentle Barn - Santa Clarita, CA
Animal Acres - Acton, CA
Farm Sanctuary - Orland, CA
Animal Place - Grass Valley, CA
Animal Messenger Sanctuary - Sebastopol, CA
Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary - Stockton, CA
Meadowbrook Animal Sanctuary and Haven - Lake Elsinore, CA
Piece of Peace Animal Sanctuary - Marysville, CA
NorCal Equine Rescue - Oroville, CA
California Potbellied Pig Association - Pleasant Hill, CA
Shambala - Acton, CA

Aspen Valley - Rosseau, Ontario

Bleating Hearts Sanctuary - Boulder, CO
Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary - Deer Trail, CO

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary - Lebanon, CT

Kindred Spirits Sanctuary - Ocala, FL

Home At Last Animal Sanctuary - Salvisa, KY

Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary - Poolesville, MD
Stargazing Farm - Boyds, MD
Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary - Princess Anne, MD

Vegan Peace Animal Sanctuary - Sherborn, MA
Winslow Farm - Norton, MA
Maple Farm Sanctuary - Mendon, MA

Grateful Acres - Otsego, MI
Sasha Farm - Manchester, MI

Chicken Run Rescue

Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue - Hot Springs, MT
New Dawn MT Farm Sanctuary - Stevensville, MT
Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary (for horses) - Ovando, MT

New York:
Farm Sanctuary - Watkins Glen, NY
Catskill Animal Sanctuary - Saugerties, NY
Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary - Poughquag, NY
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary - Woodstock, NY

New Zealand:
The Sanctuary
Pakuratahi Farm Animal Sanctuary

North Carolina:
Carolina Waterfowl Rescue - Indian Trail, NC

Northern Ireland:
Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary 

Happy Trails Farm Animals Sanctuary - Ravenna, OH

Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary - Salem, OR

Chenoa Manor Animal Sanctuary - Avondale, PA
Godot Animal Sanctuary - Punxsutawney, PA

Black Beauty Ranch - Murchison, TX
Dreamtime Sanctuary - Elgin, TX
Safe Harbour Refuge - London, TX
Serenity Springs - Forestburg, TX

United Kingdom:
ABC Animal Sanctuary
Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary
Brook Farm Animal Sanctuary
...For an extended listing of UK sanctuaries, see this index.

Best Friends Animal Society - Kanab, UT
Ching Farm Rescue and Sanctuary - Riverton, UT

United Poultry Concerns - Machipongo, VA

BAAHAUS Animal Rescue Group - Vashon, WA
Pigs Peace Sanctuary - Stanwood, WA
Pasado's Safe Haven - Sultan, WA
Country Critters Rescue Corral - Sedro-Woolley, WA (call 360-854-0205)
Precious Life Animal Sanctuary - Edmonds, WA

West Virginia:
PIGS, A Sanctuary - Sheperdstown, WV

Midwest Animal and Potbellied Pig Association and Rescue - Pardeeville, WI

P.S. You can find more photos from my trip to Animal Acres on the chooseyourownfoodchain facebook page.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Interviews: Ashley Chafin: Don't Try to Out-Veg The Veg*ns

CYoFC: Describe your current diet/lifestyle (vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescetarian, freegan, flexitarian, omnivore with vegan tendencies...etc.).

Ashley: I'm a strict vegetarian but not quite vegan. There is no cheese or dairy in my house, but I will have pizza or mac and cheese occasionally when I'm out. I try to stick to goat cheese.

CYoFC: For how long have you been a strict vegetarian?

Ashley: I've been vegetarian since I was 16, so 18 years.

CYoFC: What prompted you?

Ashley: The scene in The Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal is asking Clarice how she felt when she heard the lambs screaming. For real.

CYoFC: I hear you, that scene is enough to convince anyone. What were the challenges to becoming this sort of vegetarian? What about current challenges, or aspects of being an almost-vegan, vegetarian that you don't like?

Ashley: It's never been hard for me to not eat meat. There were things I didn't consider, like broth in soups, etc. So there were some accidents. In college, I would have to walk back into the kitchen to look at the soup ingredients. I was a horrible vegan in college, just eating fries and bagels, it's easy to carb overload. What I don't like now is so much vegan food is soy based. Also asking if rice, etc has broth in it, I never know whether to believe the cooks!

CYoFC: There are a lot of soy-based vegan products out there, and there's such controversy over it. I've yet to determine what to believe myself. And with regard to hidden meat, it is always a leap of faith to trust that cooks and wait staff have your dietary interests in mind. Good for you for checking the kitchen's labels yourself! Do you plan on remaining vegetarian? If so, what motivates you?

Ashley: Yes, forever. It never even crosses my mind to eat animals. Sometimes I have nightmares I have eaten a cheeseburger and I wake up in a cold sweat. I get nauseous when I see people eating chicken, it just freaks me out.

CYoFC: Why should other people strive for a vegan diet?

Ashley: There are so many reasons to list. For your health, for animals, for the environment.

CYoFC: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are just starting out with a vegetarian-type lifesytle?

Ashley: Don't forget hidden ingredients. Also, try not to be judgemental. I have met vegetarians who eat gelatin, or who eat bacon in ice cream, and I want to scream "then you aren't vegetarian!" But try to remember that every little thing helps. Don't try to out-veg someone.

CYoFC: I completely agree - every little bit DOES make a difference. What are your favorite foods?

Ashley: Hummus, Broccoli, Spinach, Curry, Sunshine Burgers. Guac, Kettle Chips.

CYoFC: Describe what the giving-up-cheese process was like for you.

Ashley: I've been vegan twice, cheese wasn't so hard, but giving up regular cupcakes, foods that had milk in them was hard.

CYoFC: Now for the age-old question: Are you getting enough protein?

Ashley: Probably too much, like most Americans.

CYoFC: Thanks, Ashley!!!

For more information about the misconceptions about protein in America, check out this article written by Monique Gilbert, a certified personal trainer/fitness counselor. (I warn you, though, she's says mostly good things about soy. ;)) You can also check out this article at The Cancer Project, which is a part of The Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine.

You can read more about Ashley here.  Please commission her for pet portraits or buy some paintings!

Raw Vegan Ice Cream & A Call To Arms

I haven't posted in about a month! It's almost fall now!? Where does the time go? Summer was here just a second ago, I could've sworn...

But enough small talk. Let's discuss more important matters, like ice cream. One of my roommates and I recently made "banana soft serve" ice cream, ala Gena's recipe on Choosing Raw.

And wow.

This is literally the simplest, most delicious dessert recipe I've ever come across.


And it's healthy! Like, really healthy. All you do is peel some bananas, break them up into chunks, freeze them, and then blend them in a food processor. That's it. No need to add any sweetener or thickener or anything. The result truly resembles the texture, consistency, and taste of soft serve ice cream, yet it remains vegan and raw. Really.

Of course, you can add whatever you want to it. My roommate and I experimented with frozen mango chunks, frozen blueberries, and frozen strawberries. We both liked the tanginess that the mango added. I wouldn't recommend frozen strawberries, as they watered down the overall flavor a bit (though our strawberries may've been a little freezer burnt, oops).

Tonight I had dinner with my friends, queerveganrunner and her partner, and they told me that they tried the banana thing last week, too (insert necessary "guess great minds think alike" gush). Anyway, apparently they added peanut butter and topped it with smashed dark chocolate, which they recommended pretty highly. I'd love to hear about others' experiments with this recipe, should you try it, which you absolutely should.

In other news, I'd love your help with getting the word out about chooseyourownfoodchain. For one, I'm always seeking additional people to interview. So, if you know anyone who is vegetarian, vegan, or semi-veg (this includes meat minimalists and flexitarians!) and who might be interested in answering interview questions, please send them my way! You can also "like" chooseyourownfoodchain on facebook, to receive additional updates from my little corner of the plant-based world. Finally, if you're so inclined, please do spread the word about this blog. Let's keep people connected in our collective re-examination of the food chain.

Thanks and happy fall, everyone!

Pumpkin spice and everything nice,