Saturday, February 27, 2016

Guide to Vegan Cheeses, Meats and Junk Foods

Non-dairy cheeses and plant-based meat substitutes are an attractive aid for people to reduce their suffering foot print, and perhaps begin their journey on the vegan path. Some of these products are astounding, like the beefless burger from Gardein. They come so close to the taste of the things they imitate that they can fool even a cat! If you live in North America or certain parts of Europe (Germany and other northwestern European countries, mostly) you have easy access to many of these products. You can also have these shipped to various parts of the world. See the section at the bottom of this post.

The Reviews

A * means "chilled/refrigerated". A ** means frozen.  Most of the chilled products survive freezing just fine (but cheese slices tend to become brittle). If there is no asterisk then that means the product can be stored at room temperature. Ratings: 5/5 is perfect and 1/5 is a total fail.

Stuff I ordered from the Vegan Essentials. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"I could never go vegan."

Lots of people agree that the animal suffering we cause through animal agriculture is unacceptable. And mostly everybody, at least in their heart of hearts, knows that there is no such thing as "humane meat". Yet the idea of giving it up seems inconceivable to many. In this post, I propose a way to get started that isn't too hard, and that doesn't involve going vegan just yet. The reader is invited to try it for four weeks, and see how it goes.

In short:
  • Cut out all chicken and eggs
  • Cut out or reduce to a minimum all dairy products
  • Play with vegan substitutes and alternatives
  • Make conscious choices when buying animal flesh (aka "meat")

Buddy Revisited. How a dog changed my life and saved my soul.

This is an autobiographical note for those who wonder why I decided to go vegan. 

This is a continuation to the story told here. Buddy was not actually left behind in the shelter. I went back there two weeks later and brought him into our home, lease conditions be damned. He’s been with us ever since, happiest pup in the world.

The reasons for concealing this happy ending no longer hold, so it is time to bring Buddy back into the limelight and give him credit where it is due.
He has become a much beloved member of our family. His behavior is classic canine. As I move around the house, he follows me. At night, too, he is right next to me, on his “orthopedic dog bed” from Costco. When I look in his eyes, he holds my gaze. When I stroke him, he makes small snorting noises of enjoyment.  When I pack my travel bags, his face and coat seem to shrink, and he lies down in depression. For the first day after my departure, he will eat little and show interest in nothing. When I return, he goes out of his mind with joy. 

I cannot fathom how his previous people could abandon him to his fate in the zone. Their failure to live up to their responsibility as guardians of his life and welfare will forever be inexcusable to me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One Day in Fukushima

[Author's note, February 2016: It's been nearly five years since I wrote the below. The most dramatic consequence of the events described here is that my wife and I both went vegan about a year later. This is the back story to all else on this blog.]

On April 21, 2011 I joined Japan-based animal welfare group JEARS on their last rescue mission inside the 20km evacuation zone around the Fukushima 2 nuclear power plant, before the government locked down the area. One of the effects of declaring this evacuation zone and relocating the affected human population to emergency shelters has been mass-scale abandonment of animals. Tens of thousands of farm animals, pets and horses are inside the evacuation zone. Many have been set free by their owners and are roaming the area but others that had been leashed or locked up have perished from dehydration or starvation. Images on the Internet showing dogs that had died in their chains and reports of cats locked up in houses cannibalizing each other had been part of my motivation to come and help. If I could break only one starving dog out of its chains, the trip would be worth it.

Having loaded my car with six cages I have purchased at a DIY store, I drive into the area, observing signs of earthquake damage as well as the beauty of the landscape along the way. The zone consists of lush, rolling hills, gorges with white water rivers, a shoreline that is good for surfing and a few villages. At the edge of the zone, police stop me and take down my details. They do not yet have the legal power or orders to prevent me from entering. They wish me the best of luck when I have explained what I am up to.

These gentlemen from Kanagawa want to know just exactly what I think I am doing here.