Sunday, December 20, 2009

SHS Humane Gourmet

For the last couple of years, the Sequoia Humane Society has been hosting a fundraiser called the 'Humane Gourmet'. I haven't attended personally in the past, but I've heard that it's an upscale vegetarian meal, plus entertainment (live music, I think?) and some kind of auction event. In the past, the vegan offerings have been somewhat scarce, but things are set to change this year. (Yay!)

The event will take place on Saturday, January 30th at the Eureka Women's Club, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

This year's chef will be the wonderful and talented Jennifer Raymond, who runs the Humboldt Spay/Neuter Network and has authored various vegan cookbooks including The Peaceful Palate. (I also give Jennifer full credit for my own conversion to veganism some eight or so years ago.)

Thank in large part to Jennifer's involvement, this year's menu will be almost completely vegan. I'll post ticket sales information here as soon as I have it, but in the meantime I want to help get the word out that Jennifer is looking for volunteers to help with food preparation, food serving, clean-up, etc. If you would like to volunteer your services for this exciting fundraiser, or if you have any questions, please contact Jennifer directly.

Upcoming Classes & Film Screenings at the Eureka Co-op

I got my copy of the Co-op News the other day, and it looks like there are some veg-friendly cooking classes,workshops, and interesting film screenings coming up...

Cooking Classes
Saturday, January 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Ayurvedic Cooking for Health
Traci Webb; $40/$30 Co-op Members

Tuesday, February 23 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Vegan Southern Influence
Chef Elizabeth Nester; $30/$20 Co-op Members

Tuesday, March 16 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Eastern Cuisine: Vegan Style
Chef Elizabeth Nester; $30/$20 Co-op Members
Wednesday, January 6 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Cooking with Whole Grains - Long Grain Brown Rice & Rye Berries
Co-op Staff Instruction; $10/Free Co-op Members

Saturday, January 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Smart Shopping Workshop - The Good Food Buzz on Citrus
Jonna Kitchen, RD & Chef Alex Bergovic; $10/Free Co-op Members

Saturday, February 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Smart Shopping Workshop - The Good Food Buzz on Heart Health
Jonna Kitchen, RD & Chef Alex Bergovic; $10/Free Co-op Members

Saturday, March 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Smart Shopping Workshop - Beans & Lentils
Jonna Kitchen, RD & Chef Alex Bergovic; $10/Free Co-op Members
Movies & Munchies
Register online at or by calling 707-443-6027. Movies & Munchies is FREE to Co-op Members.
Friday, January 8 at 6:00 p.m.
A call to action from farmers, philosophers, and business people who are reinventing our food systems.

Friday, January 29 at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Fast Food Nation
A satirical commentary on popular fast food chains and their impact on meat production and working conditions.

Friday, February 12 at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The World According to Monsanto
A thorough documentary about how Monsanto is taking over the food chain.

Friday, February 26 at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The Price of Sugar
Examines the human costs associated with producing cheap sugar.

Friday, March 12 at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Meat the Truth
Exposes the negative effect livestock farming has on climate change.

Friday, March 26 at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Eating Alaska
A serious and humorous film about a vegetarian from the city who moves to Alaska to eat locally and reconnect to the wilderness.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spreading the vegan love.

I just received a note from the Humboldt Area Foundation stating that they are participating in a project called 'Reach Out Humboldt,' a community movement to collect non-perishable food and hygiene items for Food for People. Donation barrels are located at the HAF Community Center (the location for this Sunday's vegan Thanksgiving potluck), so if you are so inclined, please consider bringing some healthy vegan non-perishable items to donate!

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's Cooking? Potluck Update.

Here's the list of who is coming and what they are bringing:
  • Bob & Nancy - Broccoli Tahini Bake , Mac & Cheeze w/ Mushrooms
  • Adam - "Scalloped" Potatoes, a side like Curried Spinach or Eggplant
  • David & Holly - not yet decided
  • Martha - Vegan Turkey maybe
  • Tamara, Matt & Carlos - 2 Tofurkey Roasts, Dessert
  • Danny – Mashed Potatoes, Cornbread
  • Heather G., Kohki, Adan, & Skye plus 2 guests – 2 Pumpkin Tureens, Dessert
  • Rachelle & Husband plus 2 guests - Sweet Green Bean side, Wild Rice Salad
  • Bella, Orion, Sage, & Solen - Sweet Potatoes, Buns
  • Janette - Shepherd's Pie
  • Valerie, Marc, & Children - Tofu Quiche, Dessert (maybe pumpkin or choc mousse)

Thanksgiving staples still needed ... cranberries and gravy - any takers?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vegan Thanksgiving!

On Sunday, November 22 at 1:00 p.m., the Humboldt Vegetarian Society will host a vegan Thanksgiving potluck at the Humboldt Area Foundation Community Center, 373 Indianola Road in Bayside.

This event is open to the public and is free of charge. Attendees should bring one or two vegan dishes to share, as well as their own plates, cups, and utensils. (Vegan means no animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc.)

Anyone who is interested is welcome to stay after the meal to help with a holiday craft project that will benefit the Sequoia Humane Society.

The Humboldt Vegetarian Society is a group of vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores who meet monthly to share delicious vegan food, recpies, and good company. For more information, please visit their website at

Sunday, November 8, 2009

11/3 Business Meeting Recap

Meeting date: 11/3/2009

In attendance: Heather G., Adam, Tamara, Valerie, Kindrick, & Marie

Topic 1: November Event

It was decided that our Thanksgiving potluck will be held on Sunday, November 22nd at 1:00 at the HAF Community Center (subject to confirmation of facility availability).

We're going to ask people to RSVP for this event and let us know what they are going to bring, so that we can be sure that we have all the usual Thanksgiving categories covered. For those who are able, it would be great if you could maybe bring two items instead of one - people tend to pig out on Thanksgiving - maybe a main dish plus dessert or two sides, etc.

After the meal, attendees are invited to participate in a project to benefit the Sequoia Humane Society. We'll be making ornaments featuring adoptable animals, which will be sold by the SHS as a holiday fundraiser.

We also thought it would be nice to come up with some kind of an idea for an 'icebreaker' activity; something that would encourage people to mingle with others beyond their immediate table-mates.

Action items:
  • Reserve space at HAF (responsible: Tamara)
  • Compile list of RSVPs and dishes being brought and post to larger list 2x/week now until event (responsible: Heather G.)
  • Get materials and instructions from SHS for ornament-making (responsible: Tamara)
  • Design and print flyers (responsible: Tamara)
  • Distribute flyers (need help from others with this one; please let me know if you can help)
  • Write press release (responsible: Tamara)
  • Distribute press release (responsible: Heather {I'm assuming - is this okay, Heather?})
  • Come up with an idea for an 'icebreaker' game or activity (I'm putting this to the group - any ideas? Valerie volunteered her husband if we need an MC-type person for anything...)
  • Coordinate a kids' activity to be done while the adults are working on the ornaments (volunteer needed)
To recap, the things we need help with right now are distributing flyers, thinking of a good icebreaker activity, and putting together an activity to occupy the kids after the meal. We also need everyone to RSVP and let us know what they plan to bring.

Thanks to my week-long illness, we're really down to the wire on this - the event is just two weeks from today, which doesn't give us a lot of time to work on publicity. I'll get the flyer and press release done tomorrow and we'll need to really move quickly after that.

This seems like an event with the potential to bring some new faces to the group, so if anyone has ideas for getting more publicity than we usually do, let me know. I was thinking that we might want to follow up the press release distribution with some phone calls to see if we can get more coverage than just the usual community calendar inclusions.

Topic 2: December Event

We didn't go into a lot of detail for the December event, but our plan is to do some kind of a cookie exchange, possibly taking the finished cookie plates to a local rest home or something rather than just taking them home to our own families. (I didn't take the greatest notes on this portion of our discussion so if I'm forgetting something, please chime in, fellow attendees.)

Action items:
  • Contact local rest homes to see if they accept baked goods (responsible: Heather)

Topic 3: Overall Direction for the Humboldt Vegetarian Society

We talked about our individual motivations for becoming part of the group, and what aspects each of us likes about the existing format, and what we'd each like to see added or changed. We did some brainstorming and came up with lots of ideas for possible new directions, but also discussed our desire to not take on more than we can really handle at such an early stage of the group's development.

The potential areas of focus for the group can be broken down into three categories - social (i.e. just meeting and spending time with other vegans and vegetarians), advocacy/outreach/education, and volunteering. I'll list all of our brainstormed ideas by category -

  • continued potlucks/gatherings
  • possibly offer some kind of incentives for new members (giveaways, coupons, etc.)
  • Survey local restaurants and publish an online directory of what vegan/vegetarian options are available at local restaurants
  • Recruit speakers for future events
  • Host vegan cooking demos/classes
  • Network with other groups who may have similar interests/objectives (HSU's AWARE group, Seventh Day Adventist churches, etc.)
  • Tabling at local events
  • Distributing leaflets at CR and/or HSU
  • I don't think we actually talked much about this topic at the meeting, but it would include things like our November event activity, where we take on activities that give back to the community in some way.
We discussed the idea of putting together a survey that would get sent out in January (and possibly annually thereafter) to the entire membership, asking for your input about the directions you'd like to see the group take in the upcoming year.

I think that's it. If there's anything I've forgotten, please feel free to chime in, Heather, Adam, Valerie, Kindrick, or Marie!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thanksgiving event

Hi guys,

Time to pin down the date for our Halloween potluck. The majority of group members who responded to the earlier poll seemed to strongly favor having this event the weekend before Thanksgiving. I just checked with the Humboldt Area Foundation and their space is free either day (Saturday, 11/21 or Sunday, 11/22), so we just need to pick a day and reserve the space. I just put up a new poll in the sidebar at the right, so if you could take a moment to register your preference, that would be great!

We'll be discussing ideas for activities to do after the meal at our upcoming business meeting; if anyone has ideas about that who won't be able to attend the business meeting, please feel free to throw them out now so they can be included in our discussion.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HVS Business Meetings

Hello group members,

Hope you are all doing well and enjoying this lovely fall season.

At dinner last week, several group members expressed support for the idea of beginning to hold regular 'business meetings' for our veg society in addition to our ongoing social events. These meetings would help give direction to our future efforts and hopefully help us brainstorm some fun/educational events and projects for the group.

I'd like to get a sense of how many people would be interested in attending these types of meetings (I was thinking maybe every other month), and of those who are interested, what days/times and locations would you prefer?

If possible, I'd like to schedule the first HVS business meeting for early November, so please let me know ASAP if you're interested!

Take care,


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gardeners' Market

This Sunday, September 27th, from 11:00-1:00, there will be a Gardeners' Market at the Manilla Community Center. Home gardeners can bring their surplus produce and swap with other home gardeners.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Planning for Thanksgiving already...

As mentioned at last week's potluck, we'd like to plan a vegan Thanksgiving feast this year. We need your input to decide when to hold this event, so please vote in the poll on the right side of this page (just below the Yahoo Group and Facebook icons). If you're viewing this post in a blog reader, you'll need to hop over to the actual blog to vote. If there is more than one date that would work for you, feel free to select more than one.

Raw Cheesecake Recipe

Kindrick was kind enough to pass along this recipe for the fabulous raw cheesecake he brought to the potluck last Friday.
I Am Cherished

2 cups almonds
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
A heaping 1/4 cup chopped dates

3 cups cashews soaked for 4 hours
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pinches salt
3 tablespoons lecithin
3/4 cup raw unscented coconut butter

Lemon zest/grated lemon peel/fruit of your choice

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, process almonds, vanilla, and salt until finely crumbled. Continue processing while adding small amounts of the dates until the crust sticks together. Press crust into bottom of greased (with raw unscented coconut butter) 9 1/2-inch springform pan.

Blend all ingredients except lecithin and coconut butter until smooth. Add lecithin and coconut butter and blend well until incorporated. Pour into the springform pan with prepared crust and set in fridge/freezer (about an hour) until firm.

Recipe from "I Am Grateful" by Café Gratitude.

(I use a little more dates and agave nectar, a little less lemon juice, and no salt, and let it set up overnight in the fridge. KO)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our September Event

On Friday, September 18, the Humboldt Vegetarian Society will host a vegan potluck and free screening of the film, Vegetarian Cooking with Compassionate Cooks, at the Humboldt Area Foundation Community Center, 373 Indianola Road in Bayside.

This event is open to the public and is free of charge. Attendees are welcome to attend either the potluck or film screening alone, or enjoy the entire evening. Potluck participants should bring one vegan dish to share and their own plates, cups, and utensils. (Vegan means no animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc.) Dinner will begin at 6:00, followed by the film screening at 7:00.

Vegetarian Cooking with Compassionate Cooks, hosted by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and Alka Chandna, is an engaging, energetic, and informative film that demonstrates six tantalizing yet easy-to-make dishes, including nutritional facts and shopping tips. The Compassionate Cooks also answer a number of frequently asked questions regarding vegetarianism. Colleen and Alka emphasize fast and healthful meals, create decadent dairy-free desserts, demystify tofu and other soy products, and present a gorgeous centerpiece that is perfect for the holidays or any special occasion.

Free child care will be provided during the movie.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Strawberry Blueberry Crisp

Our garden is overflowing with strawberries! We planted about a dozen strawberry plants last year and they produced about a dozen small berries, but this year has been amazing! We also visited our favorite organic blueberry farm - Wolfsen Farms* last week and picked three pounds of delicious berries. So to incorporate these two berries I decided to make a crisp and found a recipe on Discuss Cooking by Debbie. I switched up a few ingredients. I prefer crisps to cobblers and this crisp recipe has two layers for extra crunch!

Berry crisp

1 cup uncooked oatmeal (we used muesli which contained oats, raisins, dates, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar (didn't have brown sugar so used 1 cup of regular sugar mixed w/ 2 tbsp of molasses)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup Earth Balance butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups strawberries. 1 cup blueberries ( could just use all strawberries, or whatever other fruit you would like, probably like blackberries, or maybe just all blueberries)

Mix together oatmeal/muesli, flour, and brown sugar. Add nuts. Cut in butter until crumbly. In another bowl mix the berries and white sugar together. Butter an 8 inch square pan. Spread 1/2 the crumb mixture on bottom. cover with berries, then spread the remaining crumb mixture on top. Bake 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or till bubbly.

*Wolfsen Farms 2103 Baird Road, McKinleyville, CA. Phone: 707-839-2017. A small, family-owned organic Blueberry farm located in Humboldt County, very near the Pacific Ocean in Dows Prairie, McKinleyville.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hope to see you there!

On Saturday, July 18, the Humboldt Vegetarian Society will host a vegan potluck and free screening of the film, Meat the Truth, at the Humboldt Area Foundation Community Center, 373 Indianola Road in Bayside.

This event is open to the public and is free of charge. Attendees are welcome to attend either the potluck or film screening alone, or enjoy the entire evening. Potluck participants should bring one vegan dish to share and their own plates, cups, and utensils. (Vegan means no animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc.) Dinner will begin at 6:00, followed by the film screening at 7:00.

Meat the Truth is a documentary intended to form an addendum to earlier films on climate change, which have succeeded in drawing public attention to the issue of global warming, but have repeatedly ignored one of the most important causes of climate change - intensive livestock production.

For more information, please visit the Humboldt Vegetarian Society website at

Free child care will be provided during the movie.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vegan Grilling!

It's summer in Humboldt! For Father's Day we bought a nice gas grill for dh and have been enjoying the taste of grilled veggies, tofu and pizzas - yes pizzas! It's amazing how easy grilled vegetables are to prepare and grill. The following are a few tips for grilling, along with a quick and easy grilled pizza recipe.

Cut into think slices and pierce with a toothpick to hold the rings together.

Bell peppers:
Cut into quarters. Anything smaller runs the risk of falling through the grill holes.


Wash and plop these tasty morsels onto skewers. I've read that you're suppose to soak the skewers in water so they don't catch on fire. Ours haven't caught on fire, but if you have the time, it seems like a good idea.

Cut into thick, oblong strips

Brush sides of the veggies with olive oil and place on a hot grill. Watch to ensure they're not burning. Always cut more veggies then you think you really need. It's great to have left over grilled veggies to use on sandwiches, on top of pizzas, etc. Though in our family, there haven't been any leftovers yet!

Use extra firm tofu,press tofu, and slice into 1/4" sections. Marinate tofu in your favorite marinade for at least 30 minutes before grilling. I use a combination of tamari, rice wine vinegar and jarred ginger. Grill over a pre-heated grill for 6-7 minutes on each side, brushing occasionally with extra marinade or oil to ensure it doesn't burn.

Grilled pizzas: These grill pretty fast, so make sure you've got the veggies grilling before you start grilling the pizzas.

4 pitas
pasta sauce/pesto sauce
favorite pizza toppings
vegan cheese (optional)

Brush oil on the bottom of the pitas.Pour sauce on tops of pitas, then cover with favorite toppings and cheese. Grill over a pre-heated grill for ~ 5 minutes. Makes 4 personal pizzas.

Some pita pizza ideas:
1) Pesto sauce, with spinach, zucchini, and artichokes
2) Layer of refried beans, topped with olives, tomatoes and salsa. When done grilling put some avacado on top
3) Layer of bbq sauce, some marinated bbq seitan, onions and bell peppers.

Some other vegetarian/vegan grilling articles:
The Vegetarians guide to a grilled 4th of July
VegCooking - includes yummy dessert recipes like grilled pineapple and peaches

Happy Grilling!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Times!

Our first community potluck and film screening last Friday was great - thanks so much to everyone who attended - it was great to see some new faces and eat tons of delicious vegan food!

If any of the attendees want to email me their potluck recipes, I'd be happy to post them here on the blog!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Muhammara Bliss

(originally posted on the McFarland Designs blog)
This recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's just-released new cookbook, The Vegan Table is da bomb. I made some yesterday and have been enjoying the most spectacular sandwiches ever since. Here's tonight's dinner - foccacia with muhammara, sliced avocado, chopped cucumber, and shredded carrots. It would have been good with some chopped olives on top as well.


2 to 3 whole roasted peppers (from jar or roasted yourself)
2/3 cup bread crumbs (see below to make your own)
1 cup walnuts, toasted
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons clover agave nectar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more for added spice)

In a blender or food processor, combine the peppers and all the remaining ingredients. Taste, and add more spice or salt as necessary. Serving suggestions and variations:

* Garnish with toasted pine nuts

* To toast walnuts, just place them on a toaster oven tray and toast for 5 minutes; watch closely or they will burn.

* Serve with pita triangles, fresh bread, crackers, chips, carrots, mushrooms, cucumber, etc.

To make your own bread crumbs: Place some bread (stale bread works great) in the oven until it’s crispy but not really browned - at 300 degrees). Let it cool, then add it to your food processor until it is reduced to crumbs. Add Italian herbs such as dried oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, etc. Enjoy!

To roast your own pepper: Heat the oven to 525 degrees (or use your broiler if you have one). Place peppers on an oiled cookie sheet. Roast on the highest rack for about 30 minutes or until they turn completely black. It’s not necessary to turn them. Remove them from the oven, and put them in a paper bag right away. Let them cool before handling them. The blackened skin will then just peel off after only about 10 minutes in the bag. Roasting peppers over an open flame is also a great way to do it (and you don’t need any oil). Use your gas range or grill. Use tongs and just turn over an open flame for about 10 minutes until charred. Proceed as above.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May Event Details

On Friday, May 22, the Humboldt Vegetarian Society will host a vegan potluck and free screening of the film, The Emotional World of Farm Animals, at the Humboldt Area Foundation, 373 Indianola Road in Bayside.

This event is open to the public and is free of charge. Attendees are welcome to attend either the potluck or film screening alone, or enjoy the entire evening. Potluck participants should bring one vegan dish to share and their own plates, cups, and utensils. (Vegan means no animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, etc.) Dinner will begin at 6:00, followed by the film screening at 7:00.

The Emotional World of Farm Animals is a heart warming and thought provoking exploration of the emotional lives of animals that has aired nationally on PBS. The documentary is led by Jefferey Masson, author of When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie About Love, and The Pig Who Sang to The Moon. The film is a coproduction of Animal Place and Earth View Productions.

Free child care will be provided.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mark Your Calendars!

Our May gathering has been scheduled for the evening of Friday, May 22nd at the Humboldt Area Foundation (373 Indianola Road, Bayside). This event will include a free movie screening (movie to be determined soon) and a vegan pot luck. I'll post more details later, but for now, jot it down on your calendars so you don't book anything else! :-)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Vegan banana nut muffins

I always save 2-3 over ripe bananas for baking. Sometimes my dh will use them for smoothies, upon which I release the wrath of my fury. After I pick up a bunch or two of bananas, I start walking around the store thinking of what I'm going to do with the extra ripe ones. Then I watch them start turning brown on the counter as I thumb through cookbooks trying to figure out what to make with them. So, when he uses them for smoothies, my four days of planning their future has been fruitless (no pun intended!) He says I should put a note on them (how 21st century!).

Typically when the bananas start really turning south I open my cookbooks to find a tempting recipe, but yesterday I did a quick google search and landed on another blog Eat Air - A Vegan Food Log. With ten ingredients, and quick directions I figured I could make these with my 4 year old. The result is a light, delicious and quick muffin. Hope you enjoy:

Banana Nut Muffins
2 ripe bananas
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Mash bananas in a large bowl then add oil, sugar, soy milk and vanilla and mix well. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and gently mix until well combined (it will be a fairly stiff batter). Fold in nuts, then divide equally into oiled muffin tins (makes 12). Bake at 350º for 25 minutes.

I'll be making another dozen to take camping with us as muffins are easy to bring on a hike and for little hands to hold.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vegan Cheese Tasting

I've started a new series on my personal blog called 'Easy Vegan', where I provide recipes and other suggestions for making the transition to veganism easier. One of my readers had asked for recommendations for the best vegan cheeses, so with the help of the rest of the Humboldt Vegans team, I organized a vegan cheese tasting. Last Saturday, before a lovely dinner at Wildflower in Arcata, we all got together and sampled a variety of cheeses. (Thanks Heather, for hosting again!) Sadly, I forgot to bring the camera, so these stock product photos will have to suffice.

Round One - Mozzarella Smack-Down

~ VS. ~

To determine the best mozzarella-style cheese for melting, I made some cute little pizza bites on slices of baguette with sauce, spices, sauteed onions, and of course, cheese. We pitted Follow Your Heart Mozzarella (my personal standby for at-home pizza and sandwich making) against underdog Cheezly Mozzarella. The results of this particular showdown were rather anticlimactic - all of the tasters agreed that they tasted nearly identical, at least in their melted form.

A few quick notes on melting these non-dairy cheeses - If you didn't already read it, be sure to check out my earlier note explaining how to encourage vegan cheeses to melt in the oven. I also just found this promotional video from Follow Your Heart that shows how to use their cheeses for pizzas, mac and cheese, and quesadillas. The chef mentions that the cheese melts at 450 degrees, and I usually cook my pizzas around 425 degrees, so I'm thinking maybe if I just cooked them at a slightly higher temperature, I wouldn't have to go through the water-spritzing routine I usually use.

Back to the Follow Your Heart vs. Cheezly competition - I had some leftover cheese so I decided to follow up today by sampling them both un-melted. I tasted each alone and on crackers. My personal opinion was that I liked the taste and texture of Follow Your Heart better than Cheezly, but that could have been just because it's what I've become accustomed to.

Moving on...

Which Cheddar is Better?

~ VS. ~
We sampled two varieties of cheddar cheese - Teese Cheddar* and Sheese Medium Cheddar. We ate slices of each with crackers, apples, and alone. The general concensus among group members was that the Teese was more Velveeta-ish, and the Sheese was pretty amazing, with a more mature flavor and a nice firm texture. I would definitely buy the Sheese again - it's the first vegan cheddar cheese I've tried that is good enough to snack on straight from the container.

Again, I had some leftovers, and I offered Carlos some of the Teese today, which he thoroughly enjoyed - I think he ended up eating something like four slices. This was a major breakthrough - in the past, he has shunned all of the vegan cheeses I've offered, and I've had to compromise by buying him the soy slices that contain casein. Now that I know he likes Cheddar Teese though, I'm definitely planning to eliminate those nasty processed, casein-laden slices from his diet - hooray! So the loser of the adult taste test (Teese) had some redeeming value from a three-year-old's perspective at least.

* Yes, if you're very observant, you may have noticed that the Teese photo shows the nacho cheese flavor; it's the only decent image I could find online, but the variety we actually sampled was cheddar.

And last but not least -

Dr. Cow's - No Competition

There really is nothing to compare Dr. Cow's cheeses to - except perhaps the other flavors in their lineup. As far as I know, nothing else like it exists - Dr. Cow's crafts exquisite raw, vegan cheeses by hand using traditional techniques. I will confess up front that I never was a 'fancy cheese' connoisseur, so I honestly can't compare it to cheeses like brie and the like; however, everyone at our tasting thought that the Dr. Cow's Aged Cashew cheese was totally delicious and amazing. It was a little tangy, and a lot yummy. If you're looking for a fancy-schmancy, spreadable cheese, and you don't mind shelling out some dough, this is an excellent choice.

I think that just about wraps things up... if you have a favorite (or least favorite) vegan cheese, please leave a comment, and if you were present at the tasting and there's anything I left out, please feel free to add on!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Potluck Recipes

Here are Heather's recipes from the February potluck. Thanks Heather, both for hosting and for sharing your delicious recipes!

Baked Rice (based on a recipe from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook)

1/3 cup chopped onion (though I use anywhere up to a whole onion)
2 Tbsp margarine/veg oil
1 cup rice
2 cups water
2 veggie bouillon cubes
chopped mushrooms and/or bell peppers (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Saute the onion in the margarine about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir, cooking just long enough to coat it - about 2 or 3 minutes. Pour in the water, bring to a boil, stir in the bouillon cubes, dissolve, and mix well. Turn into a 1-quart casserole, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.

This dish is easily doubled.

Amazing Vegan Cheesecake (from vegweb)

16 vegan graham crackers
1/4 cup margarine
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon flour

16 oz. (2 tubs) vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup raw sugar or fructose
4 EnerG egg substitute eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice from one lemon (optional)


Crust: Mush firmly with fingers and press into spring form pan

Filling: Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Pour on top of crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until set.

Note from Heather: this definitely did not turn out right for the potluck. I forgot the Egg Replacer and that made a big difference. Normally very delicious and I often serve it to non-vegans. Also, for the crust, I often just mash up some cookies, like gingersnaps, since it is hard to find graham crackers without honey.

Note from Tamara: If you're lazy like me, you can buy vegan graham cracker crusts pre-made at the natural foods store. I think I actually scored a few recently at Grocery Outlet as well.

Fava Bean Dip

1 bog frozen fava beans
1 onion
Olive oil

1. Cook the fava beans according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Chop the onion. Saute in olive oil with high heat for a few minutes. Continue to sauté until onion is soft and then begins to caramelize. Stir frequently.
3. Blend onions and fava beans. Salt to taste.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

vegetable oil
3 onions, chopped
chopped vegetables for broth (I used one carrot and two celery stalks)
4 big broccoli heads, cut into large florets
soy milk
1 package tofu (aseptic package kind)

1. Saute in olive oil with high heat for a few minutes. Continue to sauté until onion is soft and then begins to caramelize. Stir frequently. Set aside.

2. While onion is sauteing, saute vegetables in just a little oil for a few minutes. Add broccoli and saute for another couple of minutes.

3. Add soymilk until most of the vegetables are covered. Cook gently until vegetables are soft.

4. Blend together the vegetables and the onion, adding the soymilk and tofu until you are happy with the taste and consistency. Salt to taste.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yummy dip

(originally posted at McFarland Designs' blog)

I tweaked Bella's original apple dip recipe today and I like the results... give it a try!
Creamy Peanut Butter Dip

1 block firm silken tofu (I used 'lite')
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Cover, chill, and serve with sliced apples for dipping. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Making Responsible Food Choices, Part Four

(originally posted at McFarland Designs' blog)

Here it is, the fourth and final post in my 'Making Responsible Food Choices' series. I hope I've been able to shed some light on the ethical problems that go along with some common vegan foods, as well as provide some solutions. In case you missed them, feel free to check out parts one, two, and three.

Today I'm going to discuss palm oil, a substance often found in crackers, pastries, cereals, and microwave popcorn. Keebler, Oreo, Mrs. Fields, Pepperidge Farm and other companies use palm oil in some of their cookies. Of particular interest to vegans, palm oil is a major ingredient in our beloved Earth Balance buttery spread.

According to a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), "Though not as unhealthy as partially hydrogenated oil, palm oil still promotes heart disease." Going beyond palm oil's consequences at the individual health level, the cultivation of oil palm is a major factor in the destruction of the rainforests in Southeast Asia. These rapidly shrinking forests are home to the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, Asian elephant, and Sumatran rhinoceros. CSPI reports "Each of those species is endangered, with the three eponymous Sumatran species critically endangered. They once flourished in precisely those areas where rainforests have since been cleared for oil palm."

Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas has been studying orangutans in Indonesia for nearly forty years. According to a recent AP report, "the red apes she studies in Indonesia are on the verge of extinction because forests are being clear-cut and burned to make way for lucrative palm oil plantations." Galdikas has established a non-profit to help protect these threatened animals - Orangutan Foundation International - and has published an autobiography detailing her many years working with these amazing creatures.

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any fair-trade, environmentally-friendly versions of palm oil, so the best solutions I can think of are as follows:

1. Contact companies whose products contain palm oil and let them know that you support the elimination of palm oil from their food lineup. (You can start with Earth Balance!)

2. Reduce or eliminate your use of palm oil. Personally, since coming across this disturbing information, I've been able to drastically reduce my consumption of Earth Balance (probably a good thing for my figure too!) - there are a lot of ways I used to use it that were easy to give up... jam instead of butter on toast, always using olive or canola oil for sauteing rather than Earth Balance, and choosing recipes for baked goods that call for non-palm-oil fats, to name a few (be careful though, and be sure to actually check the label - the other day I thought, 'oh, I'll use non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening instead of EB for these cookies,' but when I checked the shortening label, it was 100% palm oil!!! Eek.)

If anyone else has suggestions for ways that we can advocate to end the habitat destruction currently taking place for the sake of our collective palates, please post 'em here!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Making Responsible Food Choices, Part Three

(originally posted at McFarland Designs' blog)

This here is the third installment in my four-part series* examining the ethical issues surrounding a few vegetarian diet staples. Today's subject is rice.

* In case you missed them, you might want to read part one and part two first.

While most of the white and brown rice we eat in the US is grown domestically, the majority of the aromatics, such as basmati and jasmine, are grown in Thailand, India, and Pakistan. It is mainly harvested by hand on small farms in rural communities. These small-scale growers are at the mercy of a volatile market and are often exploited by middle merchants, who frequently underpay the farmers.

In addition, profits for these small family farmers are diminishing due to the use of expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which are also, not surprisingly, adversely affecting workers' health as well as polluting the water and eroding the topsoil of these rural communities.

If this topic interests you and you'd like to learn more, you can read more about the issues surrounding fair trade rice here.

So as I mentioned before in the case of bananas and chocolate, the solution to these problems lies in supporting the growing fair trade market. You can buy fair trade rice online or find it at your local natural foods store.

I'd like to take a moment to discuss what you can do if your local store doesn't carry the fair trade products you seek, so this applies equally to rice, chocolate, bananas, and a whole score of products with growing fair trade availability. Personally, I spend a fair amount of time (and money) at our local natural foods store, and I make an effort to be friendly with the people who work there. They are generally a nice bunch of people who care, like I do, about eating responsibly, and in my experience, they are very open to stocking new products to meet customer demand. The key is to take the legwork out of it for them; find the product you want them to carry (the specific product, brand and all, not just a general idea), print out the name of the product and the details of how the store can contact the company who distributes the product, then pass this information on to a manager at the store, either in person or with a hand-written note explaining why you would like to see it in their store. Only through customer requests like these will stores learn what is important to us, and by helping to bring these fair trade options to the grocery store shelves, we can expose many other shoppers to the choices that exist for eating in a way that supports humane ways of life on this earth.

This post wraps up the information I wanted to share from the 'Food, Inc.' article in the Jan-Feb '09 issue of VegNews magazine. This is an excellent article that goes into more detail than I have provided here, so if it's something you care about, I highly recommend getting your hands on this magazine, or better yet, subscribing. (They just added a tree-free subscription option, so you can get all the good stuff without wasting paper - hooray!)

Stay tuned for one final installment in this series on making responsible food choices within the framework of a veg*n diet...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Introduction meme-style!

Hi there! My name is Amanda and I'll also be contributing to this blog here and there. I recently responded to a meme that I thought might serve as a fun introduction. So, without further ado, here are 22 factoids about me:

1. I live in Eureka. I moved here from southern California less than a year ago and I love it.

2. I made the transition to veganism in 1998 for moral reasons, but my health has thanked me for it (with the occasional grumble over the sometimes-irresistable ‘junk’- Yay vegan Doritos! Boo vegan Doritos!).

3. When I was really young (under 10) I lived with quite a few non-human animal friends. One of those friends was a chicken named Henrietta. The night that Henrietta died my father made a joke to the effect of ‘guess who we’re having for dinner tonight?’. Not too many years after that I stopped eating certain creatures and continued on that path until I arrived at veganism. I found out later that we weren’t actually eating Henrietta, but it opened my eyes.

4. Higher education has taken all the joy out of writing for me. I used to LOVE expressing myself through stream-of-consciousness writing; it was so liberating to let go and write whatever I needed to write in whatever way I wanted to (agrammar and all). Experiencing over-and-over a formulaic critique based on (in my opinion) dogmatic/prescriptive notions and having to alter my writing in order to fit within those prescriptions has driven me writing-crazy. It actually got to the point where I would experience intense anxiety whenever I had to write a paper. This would cause major procrastination, which in turn prompted hurried/under-developed papers, which in turn prompted lower grades, which in turn prompted anxiety, which in turn prompted procrastination…well, you get the picture. I’m currently trying to reclaim the joy that institutionalized prescriptions took away (part of why I’m contributing to this blog). Yay for college!

5. I’m considering several graduate programs right now. Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment?

6. I think language can be a powerful tool and a powerful oppressor. I think it’s an amazing fosterer of communication and I think it’s inherently dishonest.

7. I love neologisms.

8. I’m a closet (no longer!) fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv show (see #7).

9. I was on Romper Room as a wee lass (I wasn't allowed to be a wee lad, so I did what I could- damnable gender normativity!). What I mostly recall from the experience was being incredibly uncomfortable about the cameras and not having a toy/item for the 'show-and-tell' portion of the you might guess, this didn't help with my overall discomfort.

10. On the topic of gender normativity, I remember when I was younger that I sometimes felt a bit like a 'boy' inside. Not because I wanted to be male- I'm actually quite content with my gender- but because I associated certain aspects of personhood with boyness; the roles that I understood girls were supposed to play didn't give me enough room to be all that I understood myself to be. I find this to be a very unfortunate statement about what our culture continues to teach those not lucky enough to be the recipients of certain sorts of privilege…and I think this is very pertinent to the non-human animal rights movement as well as every rights movement.

11. I had an organ removed last year. Mind you, it wasn’t a vital one, but it was powerful enough to bestow plenty of grief. After a number of years of intense pain after consuming fatty foods and subsequent weight loss, cancer fears, ulcer fears, and general unhappiness, my gallbladder and I parted ways. Turned out it was chock full o’ gallstones. Alas, I still can’t really eat fatty foods (*sigh* Doritos).

12. I kept the stones. They actually look like stones. Considering what they’re made of, I think that’s pretty amazing. They’re people-pearls.

13. I’m considering making a ‘pearl’ necklace out of them just so I can tell people I made it...’No, I mean I REALLY made it.’

14. During Fall/Winter I often go extended periods of time without shaving my legs. I like to pretend I’m one of those awesome womyn who are unconditionally accepting of their own body…but really I’m just lazy.

15. I love the color green, in every shade. It means trees and grass and leaves and growth and it makes me happy.

16. I’ve been called a “hippy-goth.” I just think that’s too funny.

17. I don’t really like labels. I think they have merit and are functional, but I think over-reliance on them can be conducive to over-simplification and can ultimately contribute to unhappy-making, exclusionary things.

18. I’m very misanthropic, but also very hopeful. I don’t believe people are ever ‘bad,’ but I think they can (and do) do a lot of damage. I also think they can be really beautiful, inspiring beings. I dislike them en-masse, but like individuals.

19. I think my husband was intentionally created in a lab 1,000 years in the future and sent back to teach us about our species’ potential. He’s by far the most loving, empathetic, compassionate, creative, sensitive, nurturing, brilliant being I’ve ever met. He’s a big part of the reason I can say I’m a HOPEFUL misanthrope and I plan to love him forever and ever.

20. He’s also one of my oldest friends. We met when I was 16.

21. Sometimes when I look at my kitty-friend, Cookie, she doesn’t look like a kitty to me. She just looks like a furry baby-friend I love.

22. I think love can be transformational.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Making Responsible Food Choices, Part Two (aka, 'Oh No, Cocoa?')

(originally posted at McFarland Designs' blog)

Yep, that's right. This second installment in my four-part series* focuses on our beloved chocolate. But wait - before you cover your eyes and run screaming from the computer - calm down. Sit, relax, and read. Don't worry, I'll show you how you can enjoy this delicious confection with a clear conscience.

* In case you missed it, you might want to read part one first.

Consumers in the United States alone spend $13 billion per year on chocolate, an understandable indulgence given its luscious flavor and its unique power to calm many of us in times of crisis. :-) But what are the hidden costs of our love affair with chocolate? Let's take a closer look.

70% of the world's cocoa is supplied by West Africa, a country where poverty is widespread and child slavery and labor abuses are rampant. A major contributing factor to these horrible problems are the low prices farm workers are paid by companies like M&M/Mars, the largest chocolate company in the world.

West African cocoa plantation laborers are paid between $30 and $108 per year; these astonishingly low wages, combined with the lack of human-rights standards enforced by the large chocolate companies, has resulted in a huge exploitation and abuse problem for the most vulnerable workers - the children.

According to the US State Department, there are currently 284,000 children in abusive child-labor conditions in West Africa. Thousands of these children have been trafficked into the area and live in slavery.

What can you do to help? Well, the answer is the same as for bananas; money talks, so be sure that your hard-earned dollars are only being spent on fair trade certified cocoa and chocolate products.

(made right here in lil' old Humboldt County)

"The key to Fair-Trade-Certified cocoa is that it is grown by small farmers, enabling them to build a better future for their families," says Adrienne Fitch-Frankel, Fair Trade Campaign Director of Global Exchange. "The Fair Trade system gives [workers] the pride and dignity of being independent, sustaining their own farms. This is a quantum leap from being a worker on a plantation."

According to TransFair USA, Fair Trade Certification assures that the following responsible, sustainable business practices are in place:
  • Fair wages
  • Better labor conditions (safer conditions, no enforced child labor)
  • Direct trade, eliminating exploitative middlemen
  • Democratic and transparent organizations
  • Community development
  • Environmental sustainability
Beyond reflecting your ideals through your dollars, there are lots of other ways to get involved, and with Valentine's Day quickly approaching, this is the perfect time of year to educate friends and family about the importance of fair trade chocolate. And while you're at it, why don't you make sure that chocolate you're eating and gifting is vegan? After all, cows don't deserve to be slaves either!

Once again, the information in this post came from the Jan-Feb '09 issue of VegNews magazine (see Food, Inc., beginning on page 40).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Support local agriculture!

We live in a region full of amazing local vegetable options. While I do know it's winter, and the farmer's markets are closed, it's time to start considering joining a CSA or planning your vegetable garden.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Farmers sell shares of their harvest to the community prior to the actual harvest. By purchasing a share, people become members, or shareholders of the CSA. This allows farmers to support their families during the growing season, rather than having to wait until selling their harvest. Once it's harvest season, shareholders receive weekly baskets brimming with vegetables, flowers, fruits, or other items that the CSA grows. There are a number of CSAs available to us in Humboldt. During the 2008 year, we were members of Pierce Family Farm up in Orleans, CA. The amount of vegetables we received was amazing and even allowed us to freeze some for the winter. Weekly bundles of basil ensured pesto and tomatoes were made into salsa and spagetti sauce. Summer squash, peppers, onions, garlic, strawberries, carrots and peaches quickly eaten up. I looked forward to loading the kids in the bike seat & carrier to pick up our share, always wondering what amazing organic vegetables I'd find waiting for me.

I'm not entirely sure if the CSAs are accepting members at this time, but I do know that they fill up very quickly! The local CSAs are:
Pierce Family Farm
Orleans, with a pickup spot in Eureka and Arcata
(530) 627-3320
Serving: Northern Humboldt County
Membership: 16 weekly pickups for $320-$350 sliding scale (accepting $10 Community Currency)
to learn more about Community Currency check out Democracy Unlimited Humboldt Exchange system.

Arcata Educational Farm
Old Arcata Road
Arcata, CA 95521
825-1777 (at the Farm) or 822-4623 (Sarah)
Serving: Northern Humboldt County
Membership: 22 weekly pick-ups, sliding scale $400-$450 ($18-$20 a week)
$50 deposit to secure your spot

Redwood Roots Farm
P.O. Box 793
Arcata, CA 95518
(707) 826-0261
Serving: Hydesville to Trinidad and everywhere in between
Membership: 5 months plus winter u-pick crops available, $400-500/share, sliding scale

Green Fire Farms
Hoopa Valley
Pickup in Eureka or Arcata
Membership:25 weeks, June 2 - November 23, $475-$525 sliding scale ($19-21/week)
click here for more information.

If you're concerned that you won't be able to eat a whole share, e-mail Democracy Unlimited and they can hook you up with others that are wanting to share.

Also be sure to check out the amazing local, organic produce selection at the North Coast Co-op. You can find their weekly local produce specials online.

Then starting in April, the North Coast Growers Association will begin another season of Farmers Markets. They sponsor FM are FM in McKinleyville, Arcata, and Eureka. A list of markets and their times can be found on the NCGA website. There's also a FM in Trinidad (May - September)and Fortuna (May - Oct)

Supporting local farmers through CSAs, the Co-op or Farmers Markets is one way to decrease your carbon footprint, dependancy on corporate agriculture and fossil fuels.

In my next post I'll start discussing growing your own vegetables and the local resources. If you're interested in organic gardening, be sure to sign up for Eddie Tanner's organic gardening class. More information found through HSU's Extended Education

Free photos for websites -

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Making Responsible Food Choices, Part One

(originally posted at McFarland Designs' blog)

As a vegan, it's easy to walk around in a haze of self-congratulatory bliss, feeling proud knowing that your food choices are helping to protect animals, improve your own health, support the planet, and make more food and water resources available to the people of developing nations. Yay you! You're vegan! Everything would be perfect in the world if everyone went vegan, right?

Right? *

Well, not so fast - as it turns out, there are a whole host of problems associated with many staple vegan foods, and several in particular deserve our closer attention. Today I will begin with a discussion of one of our contry's favorite fruits. Watch for three more installments in the coming days or weeks... I have lots to say.

Let's start with bananas.

Did you know that when bananas first became available to US consumers, just after the Civil War, they were considered a luxury item, and were sold wrapped in foil, peeled and pre-sliced to protect those gentile 19th century citizens from embarrassment over the fruit's indiscreet form? (Thought I'd warm you up with a little entertaining banana trivia.)

Anyway, on to the serious stuff... in order to transform bananas from an expensive indulgence into an affordable snack for the masses, large companies (i.e. Dole, as well as the company that has come to be known in modern times as Chiquita), identified Central America as the ideal place to supply us with inexpensive, delicious bananas. Then they proceeded to clear-cut the rich forests of Nicaragua, Columbia, and Guatemala, and transform them into banana plantations.

In addition to the obvious environmental problems associated with clear-cutting native rain forests and shipping bananas thousands of miles from Central America to wherever you happen to reside, other problems have come to light -
  • In the 1950's, Central America's first democratically elected leader, Jacobo Arbenz, was ousted in a US-sponsored coup. His offense? Asking United Fruit (now Chiquita) to pay fair prices for land and obey the Guatemalan constitution.
  • For decades, this kind of intervention in Central American politics has been commonplace as a means for keeping bananas cheap and plentiful. It has also been instrumental in keeping plantation workers overworked and underpaid.
  • As recently as 2007, Chiquita was fined $25 million by the US government for giving $1.7 million to a right-wing death squad organization in Columbia.
So what, you ask, is a compassionate gal (or guy) to do? Must we give up our beloved banana-laden breakfast smoothies? Fear not, my friend - fair trade is the answer! By purchasing fair trade bananas, you can rest assured that plantation workers are paid a living wage, receive benefits, job security, and better treatment. Fair trade certified farmers are also more likely to use sustainable, traditional growing methods (whether or not they have yet obtained an organic certification, which can be a difficult and costly process).

Although I find myself wondering - how much can the fair trade certification help in ending the massive deforestation in Central America? I mean, if the demand for bananas remains strong, they are going to continue clear-cutting to make room for more farms, right? Even if the workers are treated better on those farms... so maybe we should give some thought to at least moderately reducing our consumption of bananas overall, in addition to buying fair trade.

* Just to be clear, of course I agree that the world would be a much better place if everyone went vegan right now. But I think it's important to continue to explore food choices, and not just rest on our morally superior laurels while we eat our tofu and nutritional yeast. Agreed?

Most of the information in this post came from the Jan-Feb '09 issue of VegNews magazine (see Food, Inc., beginning on page 40).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Vegan?

I thought it might be a good idea to break in this brand-spanking-new blog with a discussion about what 'vegan' means, and why one might choose to follow a plant-based diet.

Vegans do not consume anything that comes from an animal. In addition to the obvious (meat), vegans also avoid dairy, eggs, and various other animal byproducts. Many vegans also choose not to purchase products that have been tested on animals (such as personal care items) or wear anything made from animal products, such as leather, wool, and fur.

To many omnivores, this can sound extremely limiting, but in fact, many vegans experience a great expansion in their diet after making this life-affirming decision. Personally, I have broadened my horizons to include a much wider array of nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables than I ever ate before becoming vegan. I've become a much more competent and adventurous cook, and have come to really enjoy knowing what's in the food I'm feeding my family. Also, the variety of commercially available meat and dairy substitutes continues to grow - if you choose to include these items in your diet, you can find vegan hot dogs, lunch meats, various cheeses, milks, yogurts, etc.

While no two vegans are exactly alike, the most common reason for choosing to practice veganism seems to be ethics (i.e. animal welfare or animal rights). Other reasons include personal health, environmental benefits, and concern for worldwide food supplies. I'll briefly discuss each of these reasons and list some resources where you can learn more.

First, let's talk ethics. Whether you are a devoted animal rights activist or an average Joe or Jane, I think the vast majority of us would agree that it's not right to torture animals. Unfortunately, the production of meat, dairy, and eggs (even so-called 'humane' products) is inherently cruel to animals. Modern farms bear little resemblance to the idyllic family-run operations you might imagine when you think about animals raised to meet the desires of human taste buds. Animals raised for food are routinely housed in filthy, crowded cages, subjected to numerous and repeated cruel practices, and slaughtered (usually not painlessly) far short of their natural lifespan.

Two lucky pigs who now live at Farm Sanctuary, safe forever from the horrors of factory farming.

In addition to preventing cruelty to animals, many vegans experience health benefits from their plant based diets. Most Americans do not get enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in their diet, and the vegan diet often includes a greater quantity and variety of these healthful foods. Of course, it's also possible to be a 'junk food vegan' and live on white pasta and caramel booty, in which case you are not likely to be quite so healthy!

Climate change and environmental issues have been at the forefront of the news and many citizens' minds lately, and for good reason. If we don't act quickly, both at a governmental level and as individuals, the earth we leave to our children is likely to be a lot more damaged than the one our parents left to us. Did you know that the agriculture sector contributes more to global warming than the transportation sector? It's true; making the change from an omnivorous diet to a vegan one will do more to decrease your carbon footprint than giving up your car. This is largely due to the vast amounts of carbon emissions generated from the farming industry (i.e. animal farts). Livestock are also responsible for almost two-thirds (64 percent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems. This is a complicated issue that warrants further discussion, but I'll leave it at that for today.

Finally, veganism is helpful in battling world hunger. It is extremely inefficient to cultivate massive quantities of grains to be fed to animals who will eventually to be killed for meat. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh. In theory, if these grain resources were used instead to feed the 840 million hungry people in the world, we could end world hunger.

Blossom, former broiler industry turkey rescued by Farm Sanctuary after an airline cargo disaster, now a permanent member of our family.

In case you'd like to learn more about veganism, I'll leave you with some links so you can do some more reading on your own...

About Veganism - General Information
Free Vegan Starter Kits
Vegetarian Recipe Sites
Online Vegan Stores
Online Vegan Communities

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thanks for visiting...

My name is Bella; I live in Arcata with wonderful cows behind my backyard. I share my home with my husband Orion, our boys - almost four year old Sage, and 19 month old Solan, two cats - Scotty and Tanjaroo, two feral cats - Luna and Mayan, and co-own seven amazing chickens with our neighbor. I've been a vegetarian for almost 13 years, and of those, 3 years were completely vegan. I jumped at the opportunity to bring our family a bit closer to self sustainability by co-owning chickens, thus we aren't completely vegan right now. And I'll admit that we do eat Humboldt Creamery cheese every once and a while, and yes, you may see us at a local pizza joint. I became a vegetarian at the young, rebellious age of 15. I only say rebellious as I was growing up in Nebraska - beef country. The first time I even heard of vegetarianism was from my Californian cousin and after talking to her during a reunion I was hooked. I enjoy watching my children grow, making organic, vegan meals, gardening, learning about sustainability, and trying my hand at various creative endeavors.

We hope you'll bookmark Humboldt Vegans or add us to your favorite blogs and check us out occasionally. We'd love to hear from you!

Nice to meet you...

I thought I ought to take a moment to introduce myself. I'm Tamara; I live in Loleta with my husband and three-year-old son. I make jewelry and take care of our dogs, rats, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. I've been vegan for about seven years (and vegetarian for many years prior to that). Along with Bella (who will introduce herself here soon), I'll be one of the authors of this blog. We'd be happy to have other authors; if you're interested in joining us, let me know!


Welcome to our brand-new blog! We are a group of vegans and aspiring vegans living in Humboldt County, CA. We hope this blog will help promote awareness of the benefits of a vegan diet, as well as serve to bring together a community of like-minded people to enjoy pot lucks, advocacy projects, and whatever else might come up in the future.

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or even just an omnivore who enjoys eating good vegan food, welcome to our new blog, and we hope to meet you in person soon. If you'd like to join our Yahoo group to connect with other members, get to it! If you have any questions, problems, or suggestions for the blog, feel free to contact Tamara.

Check back soon; you can expect to find delicious recipes, information about upcoming events, and lots more.