Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ethical Eating Out: Food Day

       Yesterday was Food Day! Did you eat ethically for the day?  If you missed it, try it out today; it's easier that you think. Forego meat for a day - I have loads of delicious cruelty free recipes on my Recipes page.  Buy Fair Trade/Equal Exchange coffee, chocolate, and tea.  Visit a Farmer's Market. Switch to veggie broth.  Easy steps!

      I didn't get to do quite as much for Food Day as I would have liked because we're TAD, but I did what I could:  I ordered my Fair Trade Chai Tea Latte with soy milk instead of inhumanely obtained cow's milk.  And when we went out to dinner, I hit the jackpot.

       How yummy does my dinner look?  No meat, and possibly no dairy (depending on how the babba ganoush was made), and totally delicious.

      Even Punky embraced Food Day with meat and dairy free penne marinara.

      How did your Food Day go?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eating Our Own

      I am not a vegan, and I don't claim to be.  I am not even a vegetarian.  And I don't claim to be.  Most of the time the meals I prepare are vegan or at least vegetarian, but I myself can claim neither of those labels.  And there are reasons for that.  Reasons that have become even more clear to me in the last few days.

      I practice Ethical Eating.  Like veganism or vegetarianism, Ethical Eating is a lifestyle.  But Ethical Eating is unlike veg'anism (that's the either/or term for vegan or vegetarianism) in the same way the Unitarian Universalism (which largely spawned the Ethical Eating movement) is different than most other religions:  It isn't about hard and fast rules.  The focus is on a continuing pursuit.  It is about education, it is about constant steps forward.  It is about striving.

      Sadly veg'anism has become very much about rules.  It has become a "religion" from which one can be summarily excommunicated for failing to meet the self-righteous standards of other self proclaimed veg'ans.  A couple days ago my friend Lindsay Nixon, author of Happy Herbivore, one of my very favorite cookbooks, wrote a post on her blog questioning whether or not Honey could be used by vegans.  A simple enough topic, and grounds (in my opinion) for a lively discussion.

     Well, let's just say that "lively" isn't exactly the word I would use for what ensued from there.

      As a result, the next day she renounced her V card.  Lindsay no longer claims to be vegan.  Score one for the self-righteous vegan fundamentalists?  I think not.  Because what sort of backward-ass movement strives to shrink it's membership?  How exactly does chasing away the author of an awesome and well known cookbook further your cause?  In short,

      I think Lindsay put it quite well in her post: "why are these vegans taking the time to run around and tell people trying to be vegan they're not vegan enough, instead of using that time and energy helping someone who isn't vegan at all? Is veganism some cool club that I'm not worthy to get into? Do we really want to make it about exclusivity rather than inclusivity? Someone said to me once, and I think this is painfully true, for cruelty-free dieters, vegans sure are cannibalistic!"

      I never have and never will understand backbiting idiots who turn on their own (remember Catty B*tches?  If you missed it, it's worth the read).  It seems to me that they're kind of loosing sight of the goal here.  I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the ultimate aim to have an overall positive impact?  To reduce the amount of cruelty caused by our consumption?  And to improve our collective and individual health while we're at it?

      At the very least, that's MY goal.  For some people, apparently, the point is to prove how much better they are at "being vegan."  Whatever.  Have fun.  But please keep the hell away from me.  I'm trying NOT to make Ethical Eating look like the niche of crazy extremists.  As Lindsay said, "As plant-based eaters, we are a minority. We need to stick together and support each other."

      And THAT, my dear friends is what Ethical Eating is all about.  Sticking together, and moving forward.  Whether you're taking big steps or little steps, every step counts.  My current struggles to cut out all foods containing inhumane eggs and cheese are no more or less significant that the person trying out Meatless Mondays (or, like us, Meatless weekdays!  You'd be absolutely shocked by how easy and satisfying it is).

      Whether you are a vegan or a vegetarian.  Whether you call yourself one or not.  Whether you claim to pursue the goals of Ethical Eating or you just want to make the best health choices for yourself and your family.  Whatever your reasons, and whatever steps you take.

      Because every step is a step.

      And lets not lose sight of that.

      What steps have you taken?  Which were the hardest?  Which were your biggest triumphs?  What are you struggling with now.  THIS is a safe place for any step on your journey (unless you promote cruelty, then you're just a jackass, obviously).  Tell us where you stand.

Friday, October 7, 2011


     As we all know, I'm not one for skipping Holidays.  It frustates the heck out of me when I walk into a store that's all fancied up for Christmas/Yule/Chanukka/Festivus and all other holidays on or around Winter Solstice before we've even hit Halloween (or even Patriot Day in some cases!). 

      But I'm breaking my cardinal rule and skipping ahead a holiday.  This skipping, however is necessary and is only preparatory.  Heaven knows I would never fully gloss over Halloween/Samhain!  But poor Thanksgiving really gets short shrift anyway, being sandwiched right between Halloween and the Soltstice holidays.

      Why start thinking about Thanksgiving so far ahead of time?  Honestly, I should have been thinking about it a few months ago and I totally dropped the ball.  The answer is simple:  TURKEY!

      Thanksgiving is a holiday that supposedly centers around giving thanks, but we all know what it really centers around, at least culturally:  Meat.  Turkey meat, to be more precise. 

      Just because turkey is a less popular poultry meat than chicken in no way means they escape the sick horror of factory farms.  Every year, hundreds of millions of turkeys are raised in sickening, tourturous conditions in factory farms. 

      I, for one, cannot stomach the idea of sitting around a warm family table discussing all the blessings in life that we are greatful for only to celebrate those blessings by feasting on an animal that lived its entire life in painful, sickening, deplorable conditions.  That is just simply WRONG.

      But I really don't think I can get the fam on board with a meat free Thanksgiving this year, and I also don't see it as necessary.  We still eat meat occassionally.  Probably about 3 times a month.  But we restrict ourselves from humanely raised meat from local farms.

      So I set out on a mission to find a humanely raised turkey for our Thanksgiving feast, and it looks like we're in luck.  I found this awesome site:  Eat Wild.  Eat wild provides state by state information (with maps) on TONS of humane farms, many of which will even ship meat to you.  Not only was I able to find turkey, I also found pork, beef, chicken, eggs (not that we need any), and goats.  And I'm sure that's just scratching the surface.  It is a GREAT SITE.

      I highly recommend everyone check out Eat Wild.  You might just be surprise by what you find in your area.  I know I was.  Before I found Eat Wild, I only knew of one or two local humane meat producers, turns out there are tons.

     Now, in all honesty, I should have started looking for a turkey earlier in the year.  Some of the farms start taking reservations for the turkeys back in June when the turkeys are babies.  But I've sent emails to a number of farms to see what's available.  And if I can't find anything in the state, I can always click Eat Wild's "Farms That Ship" link and find a farm that might be able to ship me a humanely raised turkey.

      Where are YOU getting your turkey this year?  Or are you even having a turkey?  How are you going to make your Thanksgiving a day of thanks not just for you, but for all the animals and humans who played a role in bringing your food to your table?

      And be sure to check out the recipes site for lots of Thanksgiving deliciousness before and after the day!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Food Day!

      Monday, October 24th is National Food Day!  And, whether they know it or not, it is effectively Ethical Eating Day.  Just take a look at the 6 Principles of Food Day:

Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
2. Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
4. Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers

      See?  Ethical Eating Day!  I am super excited about this, and I invite everyone to grab the button from up top and join me in celebrating food day by learning more, being mindful of what you eat and how it affects the world around you, and cooking a healthy, ethical, home cooked meal that day.

      Check out the Food Day website to sign a letter to your Congress person asking them to take notice of the issues Food Day is trying to raise awareness of and find ways to participate.

      They even have a free downloadable cookbook with amazing recipes from a ton of celebrity chefs!  I doesn't get better than that.

      So, in honor of Food Day in just a couple weeks, I hope to see you all joining in, if even in a small way.

      Want to be featured here on Cheap Wine and Cookies?  Send me your Food Day plans, and you'll get your very own post.

      What a fun and easy way to have a HUGE impact on our world!