Thursday, April 29, 2010

Interview Series #8: KMIV! Sponsor Cary Smith of Moo Something


I am super stoked to be featuring our very first sponsor, Cary Smith of Moo Something, through my interview series! 

I found Cary's company when I was searching for vegan apparel on etsy.com, and even though I haven't formerly met Cary (we've only chatted through email), I felt so much closer to her after perusing her shop. Her products all seem to be born out of a complete love and passion for animals - something I can really relate to. Moo Something's whole mission statement is to
support animal welfare by selling custom animal paintings, photos and apparel that promote humane treatment of all animals - a perfect match for KMIV! sponsorship, in this lady's opinion.

Pitbull Tee and Puppy.  
(how cute is that?!)
 
What I also love about Cary is how unique she is - when asked to give a bio, she wrote: "Professional Animal Lover, Fledgling Painter, Deft Photographer, Committed Activist. Black Sheep."

 Robin Painting.

 Professional, deft, and committed only begin to describe this inspiring woman whose favorite quote also comes from a committed, inspiring activist, Albert Schweitzer:

"Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight."

Cow Painting.

I am beyond honored to not only share with you Cary's beautiful, funny, and moving story, but to also implore you to check out this amazing woman's shop! (Well, read the interview first. Shop immediately after!) 

Kiss Me, I'm Vegan: What was the turning point in your life that led you to veganism? Was it one huge moment, or a collective group of small moments that changed you? 

Cary: Well, first I became vegetarian. I knew at a very young age that my passion in life was to help animals. My sister used to call me Elmyra (as in Elmyra Duff from the cartoon TV show Tiny Toon Adventures), and I deserved the nickname. Elmyra Duff is obsessed with animals and cute things. She hugs them and squeezes them and makes them her little play things. She really means well and doesn't understand she's actually mistreating them. When the animals do manage to get away from her, she pouts, cries and wails. That was me! I was going to love animals, and they were going to love me back, no matter what. 

Moo Something Vegan Tee.

So, I was about seven years old when I first became vegetarian. I was extremely stubborn, and it was "my way or the highway." Unfortunately, me being vegetarian didn't last long simply because I had no idea what contained meat and what didn't. So when my mom put cut-up pieces of ham on my plate, I happily ate it. My sister would wait until I was done and then tease me that I just ate Babe. I cried and gave up.

I tried again in high school and college and failed but eventually gave it up for good once I graduated college. I remember one day asking myself why the hell I was still eating meat, and haven't touched it since.

Becoming vegan was a much more gradual process. Right after becoming vegetarian I tried going vegan but was overwhelmed by the amount of foods I normally ate that contained dairy. So I decided to take a gradual approach by slowly replacing dairy with substitutes. That worked much better. I also work for a large, non-profit animal protection organization. Therefore most people I work with are either vegetarian or vegan. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can really help, and it's a great way to get some good recipes too!

I feel like now is the perfect time to become vegetarian or vegan. There are so many resources and substitutes that make it a breeze to transition.  After trying soy milk and almond milk, you couldn't pay me to go back to dairy milk.
 

 KMIV: What have been the greatest rewards of your vegan lifestyle? What have been the greatest challenges? 

Cary: Just knowing that I'm not contributing to the pain and suffering so many animals endure for our benefit is the greatest reward.
 
 Chicken Painting.

My greatest challenge has been trying to get my friends and family to understand. I made the decision on my own, and I never preach to them about going veg. I tell them I don't mind if they eat meat in front of me because I don't want them to feel bad. But that has caused some angst for me because I want to be educating them and showing them how horrible it is for these animals, yet I know that it won't accomplish anything but distancing myself from them. I guess I'm still struggling with that. Any suggestions!? 

KMIV: Tell me a little about Moo Something. When did you first get into painting animals, and how did that lead to opening up your own online shop? 

The name Moo Something came from wanting to inspire and motivate people to do something about animal welfare. And that's where I got it - take "do something" and add some animal to it - don't just sit there, Moo Something!

Princess Fox Art.

I actually just started painting about two years ago. I remember having this painfully stressful day at work, so on my way home I stopped at Michael's and bought some canvases, brushes and paints. I got home, mixed up some paint, and without having a clue as to what I was doing, I started painting. Much to my surprise I realized how therapeutic the process of painting was. After that I became a painting machine. At work I would anxiously await 5 o'clock, and upon arriving home, I would run to my craft table and sigh with relief once I finally had a brush in hand. My first painting was of my friend's dog, Amelia. When I gave my friend the painting, she liked it so much that I decided to paint more of my friend's dogs and give them as gifts. The positive feedback I got was unexpected and very encouraging, so I decided to open up an online store where I could sell my animal art and welfare items.

Deer Art. 

As for the shirts, I feel as though there aren't enough fashionable yet educational shirts for animal advocates. I want my message to be able to grab someone's attention and be simple enough for them to quickly read. I have a had a few people ask me what factory farms are while wearing my "Cluck Factory Farms" tee. So I know there are even more people going home to Google it and learning the truth behind our food. I smile every time I catch someone trying to read my shirt. I love knowing that I'm spreading a good message. I plan on making many more shirts soon!

Cluck Factory Farms Tee.

KMIV: What advice would you give someone who is interested in veganism, but afraid of taking the leap?

Cary: Take it step by step. Or if you really want to get your butt into gear, watch some undercover videos taken at factory farms. A lot of people ask me how I do it - not eating meat or dairy. I tell them, work where I work and see what I see everyday, and you wouldn't be able to eat it either.
 

But really, there are so many resources available to people who want to go vegan. Take advantage of them! Make a plan to replace one dairy item with a substitute every week, and stick to it! Ask people you know who are vegan to help. I had my friend at work write me a vegan grocery list to get me started! And bookmark an undercover factory farm video if you ever need to be reminded why you chose to become vegan.

KMIV: Okay -  you're stuck on a deserted island with three vegan food items - what are they?

Cary: Purely Decadent Blueberry Cheescake ice cream, Amy's Organic Split Pea Soup, and Kellogg's Corn Pops (with Silk Vanilla Soy Milk to go with it!!). 

A big hug and thanks to Cary Smith for this interview. To learn more about Cary's company, please visit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/moosomething.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reasons to Smile.

1. Scrambling around the house like a mad woman, all to prepare eighty desserts for Sunday night's Veggie Conquest. More on that to come!

 Dessert #1 - Balsamic Strawberries and Cream

Dessert #2 - Mint Chocolate Mousse

2. PBS airing "Food, Inc." last week and then making it available to watch online until April 29th. Haven't had the chance to see this awesome documentary? Click here, and check it out!

3. My brother devoting one of his final grad school papers and presentations to Brendan Brazier's book for vegan athletes and nutrition, Thrive (So proud of you, little bro!).

4. A classmate, Jessica Pomerantz (who is also a beautiful singer!), bringing in two different different desserts to our scene study class a few weeks ago - one being vegan, so I could enjoy a treat!

5. My friend Katie sending me this message last week: 

"Ok.Ok. Ok. please add this to Reasons to Smile! I just convinced my 90-year old grandfather to try soy milk for the first time in his entire life. He said, and I quote, "I reckon that tastes better than regular milk on cereal." Priceless!

6. This Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary video (which makes me even more excited to visit this Sunday!):


 

7. Kate Winslet, one of my acting idols, narrating a foie gras video for PETA! 

8. Finding vegan cupcakes at the local bagel shop in Park Slope this past month, courtesy of Brooklyn-based baker Esme Carino. 

9. My interview with KMIV! sponsor, Cary Smith of Moo Something, which I will be sharing with all of you lovely people this Thursday, AND - my interview with the lovely and talented Isa Chandra Moskowitz (author of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Vegan Brunch, Veganomicon, and Vegan with a Vengeance), which I will be sharing with you next week! 

10. My mom casually saying to me yesterday in conversation that she made a seitan dinner this past weekend - it's really official! My mom is eating vegan! 

11. All of the beautiful, loving, and exciting emails I've received from  KMIV! followers. Have a question you want to ask? A story to share? An interesting comment? Feel free to email me at kissmyvegan@gmail.com! 

12. Trying to work on this list (I usually keep the Mac on my lap on the couch when I blog), and having to stop because of this:

 

What are your reasons to smile today?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Forks over Knives

 Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselsytn are both pioneers in the field 
of preventative medicine and nutrition. You may recognize Dr. Campbell's name - 
he's the guy who wrote the internationally acclaimed The China Study, a 
book that makes a deep connection (through irrefutable evidence) between a 
plant-based diet and the prevention and reversal of most cancers, diabetes, and
heart disease. Dr. Campbell is also the Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, and the Project Director of the China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project.

Dr. Essylstyn is author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, a nutritional program backed by the results from Dr. Esselstyn’s 20-year study proving changes in diet and can actually prevent and cure heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn is also a former internationally known surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

Together, with the help of a dynamic and brave creative team, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn have created a documentary called "Forks over Knives", a film that I'm sure will completely change how we view disease prevention and reversal. 


When I initially made the decision to go vegan, I did it 100% for the animals. Like many of you readers, I changed my lifestyle because I wanted to say I loved animals and be able to include every animal in that statement. What I hadn't prepared myself for was the total inner body makeover I discovered once I settled into my plant-based diet. The health benefits were huge: major digestive problems subsided, I began to have more energy, and I just felt stronger and more alert in the morning. Mostly, my body literally felt at peace - which just proves that when you put your mind to something, your body will follow. 

I say all of this because, as significant as it is to value and honor the animals of this world (and it is one of the most important tasks in one's life), at the end of the day, we must all take care of ourselves first.  It is our own personal health and well being that will allow us to be strong, dynamic vegans and voices for the animals who need our help now more than ever. 

I absolutely can't wait for this film to come out! I encourage you to learn more about it, and share this trailer with family and friends. For more information, you can check out www.forksoverknives.com



Friday, April 23, 2010

Interview Series #7: Joshua Katcher of The Discerning Brute


 Hello friends - before sharing the awesome interview you're about to read, I have some wonderful news:


Kiss Me, I'm Vegan! has our first sponsor!! I am happy to announce that Moo Something, a company that sells custom animal paintings, photos and apparel that promote humane treatment of all animals, will be sponsoring this blog for the next three months! See the side of the blog? There's already an adorable link to their shop right next to this post, so go check it out people!  

Want to learn more about Moo Something? Well, don't worry - I will be doing an interview with Moo Something founder, Cary Smith, in the very near future!

Speaking of interviews...

I came across today's interview subject - Joshua Katcher of The Discerning Brute - last year, when a friend of mine sent me a link to the video below:


Already someone who passionately opposes fur, I totally agreed with the message behind Joshua's video and immediately wanted to know more about this funny, bold, and stylish activist (look at him rockin' that popped collar and black scarf above). I was also inspired by how completely fearless Joshua was in making this piece - for someone to stand face to face with New Yorkers (!) and tell them how their fur coats, earmuffs, and hats were really made, all with a smile on his face - it was something I had never seen before in animal advocacy videos.  I was so intrigued that I continued to follow his website for a while after. Our paths crossed again more recently when he posted about my March WFAS/FS fundraiser on The Discerning Brute, so I felt doubly compelled to reach out to him to find out more about his own vegan journey. What I have learned in the process is that not only does Joshua find unique and innovative ways to help expose the horrific state of animal exploitation, but he also shows us a side of vegan culture that is positive, hip, and attainable. This guy makes veganism and animal advocacy cool. And that is an awesome thing.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Pfluger.

Joshua Katcher created The Discerning Brute in 2008, a lifestyle website focusing on fashion, food and etiquette for the ethically handsome man.   The Discerning Brute features contributors, recipes, reviews,  thought-provoking articles, and monthly contests to win sought-after organic and eco apparel, accessories and specialty items, and keeps readers up to date on environmentally, ethically, and socially responsible news and indulgences. Joshua is an artist, writer, self-taught vegan chef, businessman, activist and television producer living in Brooklyn. He is a committed environmentalist, vegan, and social justice advocate. He is critical of unbridled consumerism, backwards pop-economics, and most things that do more damage than good. He encourages skepticism, critical thinking, and accountability. 

Kiss Me, I'm Vegan: What was the turning point in your life that led you to veganism? Was it one huge moment, or a collective group of small moments that changed you? 

Joshua: What led me to veganism was surprisingly simple and logical. I was always fascinated by and loved animals, and I had a really great relationship with the woods behind the house I grew up in. So naturally, when someone mentioned to me that animals on farms are mistreated, I didn't want to believe it. I loved the taste and traditions associated with eating animal products. I worried what would happen to pizza parties, trips to Friendly's for ice-cream sundaes and my dad's favorite hot-fudge, and backyard barbecues? What about my mom's brisket and family holidays? It seemed overwhelming, but, being a huge comic book fanatic, I had a deep respect for the pursuit if justice. I was determined to find out what happens in that incredibly tenebrous space between the farm and the plate. Needless to say, I was shocked. I felt ashamed for being duped by this manipulative industry and enraged by the impassivity all around me. This was also around the same time I began to realize that adults are not as perfect as children often believe they are. When I realized that I had the ability to avoid causing so much harm and suffering to animals on factory farms and in laboratories, zoos, circuses, and in the wild, I was empowered and began to carve out a lifestyle for myself that included compassion for others as a primary focus. Of course I also discovered amazing new foods and brave friends. 

 Joshua Katcher for Vaute Couture Menswear (Photo courtesy of Anthony Two Moons).

KMIV: What have been the greatest rewards of your vegan lifestyle? What have been the greatest challenges?  

Joshua: The greatest rewards are the community. I've never met so many creative, attractive, passionate, and warm people. There is also the peace I feel knowing that I am not supporting industries that capitalize on something so devastating and unnecessary. Then there's the food! The stereotype that vegans eat rabbit food couldn't be further from the truth. I have become an avid foodie and been exposed to more cuisines and cooking and baking techniques then I ever would have otherwise. It's poetic when you go into something that at first seems limiting, only to find out that it opens up a whole world of new possibilities. The side-effect of being really healthy and shocking doctors who analyze my blood-work during my annual physicals is always fun, too.

 
Photo courtesy of Ryan Pfluger. 

The challenge is remaining relatable and living outside the comfort of a bubble. I am in this movement because it's a social justice issue, and that means people who are not aware of what's happening to the animals, people, and ecosystems need to be able to relate to me and understand my lifestyle and message, so they can come to be aware of this. It's not like a religion where I ever ask anyone to believe something that's not in this physical world. The evidence out there is so commonplace that it's almost invisible. And it's understandable to want to push all of mainstream culture out the window and close the blinds and throw a vegan party, but that becomes self-serving. We must still socialize in mainstream places, patronize mainstream restaurants that offer vegan options, and find joy and fun in art, culture, music, fashion, sexuality and everything else. In other words, we have to know where to put the dark things we know, and not allow them to make us miserable people. Half of making a lifestyle desirable is looking great and having fun. The other half is effectively communicating information. 

Joshua Katcher for Vaute Couture Menswear (Photo courtesy of Anthony Two Moons).

KMIV: What inspired you to create The Discerning Brute?

Joshua: I saw a void in the sustainability movement. No one was really talking to men on any level. Veganism (and just caring about stuff in general) has the stereotype of being feminine. But being a protector and a hero is very masculine. I try to provide advice and information as it relates to male identity. I also maintain the only database of fashion designers making ethical menswear. It's amazing what a handsome pair of vegan shoes and a vintage tie can do to a man's self-image.


KMIV: What advice would you give someone who is interested in veganism, but afraid of taking the leap?   

Joshua: I would say, be practical. It's not a religion, and it's not about being perfect and puritanical. Take your time and get all the information you need. It's out there. Watch some documentaries like Earthlings and Peaceable Kingdom. Read some books like Animal Liberation or Skinny Bastard. While there may seem like pressure to leap in, it's better to make slow, steady changes in your lifestyle, and over time you'll realize you haven't really given anything up that you ultimately didn't want to, and in exchange you'll have gained so much. The fear of "Once you know you can't go back" has crossed every single current vegan's mind. We all said "I could never go totally vegan", but then we did, and we lived to tell the tale.  


KMIV: Okay -  you're stuck on a deserted island with three vegan food items - what are they?

Joshua: Easy! Kale. Coconuts (with water inside), and Dr. Cow's Aged Tree-Nut Cheese.
  

Many thanks to Joshua for sharing his story with the KMIV! community. To learn more about Joshua Katcher's work and website, please visit www.thediscerningbrute.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Paying It Forward: An Earth Day Guest Blog by Steven Todd Smith

Earth Day is tomorrow, which is one of my favorite times of year, because it allows me to share the deep and direct connection between eating animal products and the destruction of our environment (something you may or may not already be aware of). This is a fact that is both difficult to take in and empowering to hear, because the best part about knowing this is that you can make a difference every single day with your fork. You can choose to eat vegan - and by choosing veganism, you are not only working to better the lives of animals who desperately need our help, or to better your own health and physical well-being, but you are taking massive leaps and bounds with a vegan diet to help save our Earth.

Fact: According to a 2006 UN-sponsored report titled "Livestock's Long Shadow," factory farming plays a major role in every aspect of environmental collapse, from ozone depletion to ocean dead zones. Factory farms, which hold tens of thousands of animals per facility in windowless warehouses throughout the country, are responsible for more than 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.


In honor of Earth Day, I am asking you, my readers and supporters, to make the pledge of sharing this vital information with one friend, loved one, co-worker, or acquaintance in your life. We are getting to the point where big change needs to happen in our world, and I encourage you to share these facts with others because it will hopefully empower them to make better choices as well.

And now, for the main event - my husband's first guest blog on Kiss Me, I'm Vegan!. Steve has been wanting to do a guest blog for a while now, so I am thrilled to be able to share his words with you. I remember thinking back when Steve ate meat and I desperately wanted him to go vegan - "Steve is the best guy I know, and the kindest person in my life - if he can't make the change, then what about everyone else?" Well, Steve did make that change, and his story below is proof that he is not only living that change successfully, but he also is using his personal experience to fuel positive change in others. Read on!

 Paying It Forward for Earth Day
by Steven Todd Smith

At the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, October 2009.

My journey (indirectly) began when Lindsay, my wife, then girlfriend (but always soulmate, and your lovely bloganista) decided to go vegetarian after I specifically showed her the tragic, gruesome ending of Fast Food Nation, depicting the unfortunate fate of cows in a slaughterhouse.  Her journey took many bumps and bends, but consistently led her in the direction of truth, compassion, and a choice for the greater good.  

 Dancing at our wedding, November 2009. 

During this time, I had direct exposure to her discoveries.  Lindsay would read me passages from books - how an animal-based diet is detrimental to your health, testimonials from workers in the factory farming industry, and inspirational quotes from brilliant thinkers who knew the good that came from eating a plant-based diet.  She would show me videos online, like Earthlings and Meet your Meat, and, while I was very resistant at first, I eventually took in what I was seeing and hearing.

Cooking tofu cutlets for our first ever married - and vegan - 
Thanksgiving, November 2009.

Change is a scary thing to face in your life, especially when it involves revamping all or most of the habits/beliefs you've had thus far. Knowing that I did want what was best for me, for living creatures, and the world but also knowing that I don't like being forced into anything, I decided to educate myself on my terms, in my own time.  Lindsay's patience and guidance helped me the whole way.  The major catalysts for me were:

1) In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, which made me look at the food industry and what I eat in a totally different way.

2) Food, Inc., which confirmed those new thoughts and put a visual with it.  I actually kicked the wall of the movie theater as I left.  I was that mad and ready to start making changes.

3) Skinny Bastard, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (of New York Times Bestseller Skinny Bitch), which covered the gamut of an animal-based diet vs. a plant based diet. This was a book Lindsay gave to me for my birthday last year.  It was a present from Lindsay that officially changed my life. 

Having a head-butting contest with Ann the goat at WFAS, October 2009.

With the seeds Lindsay had planted for me along her journey and with my three major catalysts, I took a month-long veg pledge in July 2009 which continued on throughout the summer.  By the end of August, not only was I still eating vegetarian, but I had also cut out dairy and eggs.  I made the decision to go vegan.

Sharing a moment with a dolphin in Santa Monica, August 2009.

Going vegan in September 2009 (thanks to my wife!) was a rebirthing of myself in a sense.  It opened my eyes to the horrors and tragedies that take place in the world and made me realize that I do not want to be a part of them.  It opened my eyes to a world of choice, showing me that I am responsible for my lifestyle and however it affects me or others around me.  It opened me up to life, kindness, and, of course, delicious food.

The most amazing part about going vegan thus far - besides how great I feel about myself and how lucky I am to cook and eat such delicious food with my wife, family, and friends - is the whole "Pay It Forward" nature of the simple act of going vegan. 

Meeting vegan advocate and actress Alicia Silverstone, March 2010.

It was very difficult to know about the animal cruelty and the health and environmental dangers of an animal-based diet and not be able to tell everyone I knew everything I knew.  But through the friendly sharing of knowledge, introducing others to yummy vegan food, and the recommendation of excellent books and films, I've begun to see the chain of "paying it forward" starting.

I ate meat, dairy, and eggs for 25 years of my life.  During that time, I knew a few vegetarians and a couple of vegans.  Now, after seven months of living vegan, I not only find myself in a GIGANTIC community of wonderful, loving vegans, but I'm beginning to see the seeds of change within those closest to me.  

 Cutting our 100% vegan wedding cake, November 2009.

The idea of "paying it forward" can spread so much good over such a vast network/community/population of people that it's amazing to really think how powerful the one initial spark can be.  As a gift, I gave Skinny Bastard to one of my best friends who has already been around Lindsay and I enough to have discussed issues on health, animal cruelty, and the environment; to have eaten home cooked and restaurant vegan meals with us; to know why we decided to go vegan and what it means to us.  As of this past Monday, this best friend of mine has been eating completely vegan for one month.  Not only that, but because of this bold decision of my friend, other mutual friends are beginning to show interest.  Knowing both of us as former meat-eaters, and now seeing us cook vegan dishes for Super Bowl parties and other events, our friends are beginning to wonder what this whole vegan thing is about.  The seed is being planted.

Videotaping Lindsay and my fundraiser for Farm Sanctuary 
and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, March 2010.

But the chain extends even further!  I can now happily say that from a group of family and friends that also ate meat, dairy, and eggs, I have:

- One amazing mother, 4 months vegetarian/pescatarian, who cooks delicious vegetarian and vegan meals for friends and is beginning to see her friends cook veggie sometimes too!
- One amazing father, who experienced his first vegan Thanksgiving with Lindsay, myself, and the rest of the family, and is keeping his mind and tastebuds open to new foods being introduced into his life!
- One stepmother-in-law, making the choice to abstain from eating land animals for the past month since our fundraiser!
- One brother-in-law, doing a veg pledge and slowly working vegan elements into his diet!  (His girlfriend is on her second pledge!)
- One sister-in-law who has tried out going both veg and vegan at different times in the past couple of years and is continuing to discover where her path leads her!
- One mother-in-law and her partner who've eaten vegan for the last couple of months!
- Many others now interested in trying out parts of a veg/vegan diet!

The world is getting better and better.  :-)

In honor of Earth Day, please share with the Kiss Me, I'm Vegan! community:

WHAT IS YOUR "PAY IT FORWARD" STORY?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reasons to Smile (Reader's Edition)

I thought it would be easy - challenging my readers to a free chocolate giveaway and chance to be featured on the blog by writing a one-sentence answer to this question:

What has been the best part of incorporating 
veganism into your life?

Who was I kidding? Had I even tried to answer that complex question with one sentence myself? Nope. And yet, forty of you faithful readers did. Beautifully. So beautifully that I was up all night this weekend with my husband desperately trying to narrow these gorgeous, honest, and unique responses down to three final answers. I hadn't prepared myself for how difficult this task would be, because you - yes, you amazing vegan-lovin' folks - have shown me how wonderful you all are. You have given me so many more reasons to smile than what I am able to share today. Please know that thoughtfully answering my question is a victory in and of itself - and whether you have been featured here today or not, continue on your journey knowing that you have already given yourself a reason to smile today.

After hours of a painful narrowing-down process, I made a decision - instead of only featuring three answers in my "Reasons to Smile" post today, I would devote the entire post to you readers, with ten answers featured. And boy, do you deserve the attention! Thank you for inspiring me, for giving me so much joy every morning when I turn my computer on, and for your support, your love, and your courage to set forth and live your best life possible. You are all my heroes today.

And now for today's "Reasons to Smile"  - featuring the adorable, sweet, smart, and kind animals rescued and living at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (proof that in your vegan living, you are touching more lives than you know):
 
1. The best part about veganism is the inner peace I feel, each day laying my head down to rest knowing not a single being was harmed so I could sustain that day - total peace. - Renee


2. The glowing feeling I have by nourishing myself and treating animals compassionately, the physical glow I have, and the glowing community of people (KMIV) I have met on this amazing, continuing journey. - Jacquelynn Rankin

3. The best part of incorporating veganism into my life has been the fact that my diabetic little brother followed in my footsteps, and he is now not only happy and healthy, but our love of vegan cooking has made us closer. - Ryel Toby


4. Through our new found veganism, our family (children especially) has been kissed with compassion - compassion for others, the animals, and the earth- it's a beautiful legacy to pass on! - Rachel, mother of two and blogger 


5. In the past I've had a difficult time committing to even the best-for-me habits, so the best part of committing to veganism is how it has shown me that when something is really worth committing to, I am strong enough to do it. - Lauren Russo
 
6. Raising four peaceful, healthy, vegan children. - S. Pearl


7. The best part of incorporating veganism into my life is being able to wake up every morning to look at the world through a compassionate lens that infuses everything with shades of serenity, hues of harmony, tones of truth, and colors of a heightened consciousness. - Angela Colantonio

8. Living with purpose, eating with the kindest intention and apologizing for nothing has made me happier and healthier than I ever knew I could be. -Hilary Detwiller, Plate+Simple


9. Knowing that every single day, I am saving lives. - Molly G


And now, for the winner of the chocolate giveaway, Ms. Mara Conlon:

Veganism has opened my eyes, my tastebuds, my wonder, my sense of exploration, and most importantly, it has opened my heart.

My deepest and most sincere thanks to every single person who entered this contest. If reading these responses has inspired you in any way, feel free to reach out to me at kissmyvegan@gmail.com.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Simple Shoes Rock My Socks.



My 100% vegan-friendly Simple shoes.

Too often on my blog, I discuss the benefits of eating vegan, while sometimes forgetting to emphasize the benefits of living vegan. Veganism isn't just about eating a plant-based diet - it extends to every choice we make in life. From purchasing a toothpaste that no animals were harmed in the making of (I love Tom's of Maine) to finding a solid, eco-friendly dishwashing detergent (Seventh Generation is my fave), every choice we make as a consumer is a vote for or against animal well-being and environmental preservation. I'll be expanding this issue more in the weeks to come, but for now, I'd love to focus on one company that is literally changing the way shoes are made, all in an effort to tread more lightly on this Earth.

Simple Shoes was founded in 1991 and has a beautiful mission statement for their company: 

"How we make our shoes is just as important as why we make them."

It is with this amazingly clear, yet bold statement that Simple has set forth to build and sell shoes that are not only stylish, fun, and comfortable to wear, but  that are also completely sustainable. With materials such as recycled carpet padding, hemp, recycled car tires, and organic-certified cotton, Simple has become a pioneer in the world of eco-friendly products.

photo courtesy of Robert Masarate

Back in March, I attended Simple's launch party for their Fall 2010 collection, and it was clear even then that Simple is working harder and harder to build a more sustainable and eco-friendly shoe. In addition to showing their new line, there was a Sake tasting and a beautiful spread of food, much of which was vegan - and delicious!

Chatting it up with Molly Gilbert of Simple

A preview of Simple's Fall 2010 line

With my friend, actress and singer Molly O'Neal, 
and our new friend, musician Josh Charles 

 Simple's Manhattan Headquarters - can that be my living room please?
All photos above courtesy of Robert Masarate

Although Simple is not a 100% vegan company, they have a line that is completely vegan friendly, and it's totally affordable and awesome! I was a very lucky lady and received a pair of The Women's Satire, the adorable brown and blue shoe I have pictured at the top of the post, in the mail this week. Not only are they the comfiest sneak I've ever come across, but the big, pretty, blue laces remind me of when I was a little kid - just slipping them on brings back memories of childhood. Love it.

So, what are you waiting for? Get some of these shoes for yourself!

Thanks to Molly Gilbert of Simple Shoes for inviting me to the Fall 2010 Launch. To learn more about Simple Shoes, please visit http://www.simpleshoes.com.

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A Major P.S.:

For all of you lovely people who entered into the chocolate giveaway - do not fret! I will be revealing the winners on Monday when I post a very special Earth Day "Reasons to Smile". Keep your eyes open, and thank you so much for sharing with me your beautiful vegan stories! 

(Haven't entered yet? There's still time! Click here for more info.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Missionary Chocolates: A Review (And a Giveaway!)



Yes, those are delectable, decadent chocolate truffles you are viewing in the picture above.

Yes, those truffles are not only melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but vegan as well.

Yes, you can lick the screen (I won't tell!).

Where did I find these attractive, sumptuous truffles, you might be wondering?

It all began with an email...


A few weeks ago, I received an email from Vanessa E. Holden at Missionary Chocolates,  a family-owned vegan truffle company based in Portland, Oregon, about giving their chocolates a try. Within days, I was mailed a sample box of these little gems - and for a few moments, I thought Christmas had come seven months early.

Before digging in, I was already stoked, because I love small, family-owned vegan companies. What Vanessa and her sister are doing is nothing short of revolutionary - they have taken the "mom and pop" concept and brought it to the vegan community. My hope is that their company will soon be the go-to place for all things chocolate, for both vegan and non-vegan chocolate lovers alike.

And now for the post-digging in reaction...

Wow. 

"Wow" was all I could murmur after sinking my teeth into these tremendous chocolates (well, "wow" was barely audible under all of the "mmms" and "ooohs" that preceded and followed it). To be honest, these truffles kick Godiva's butt. In a serious way. Soft, rich, and packed with mind-blowing flavors like Meyer Lemon Explosion, Spicy Cinnamon Chipotle, and Vanilla Salted Caramel, Missionary Chocolates' truffles are the only truffles you need to consume in this lifetime.


And that is why I'm doing a giveaway.

(Yes, you heard me right! A giveaway!)

Here is the challenge:

You - dedicated follower of Kiss Me, I'm Vegan! and all-around rock star -  send me a one-sentence answer to this question:

What has been the best part of incorporating 
veganism into your life?

This challenge is open to vegans and non-vegans alike! 

Just send your one-sentence answers to KissMyVegan@gmail.com. The top three winners of this challenge will have their answers featured in my next "Reasons to Smile" post, and the top winner will receive a free 4-pack of Missionary Chocolate Truffles!

Get crackin', boys and girls. A world of chocolate bliss awaits you!

My deepest, most delicious thanks to Vanessa E. Holden for her and her sister's awe-inspiring chocolates. For more information about Missionary Chocolates, please visit http://www.missionarychocolates.com.
 
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About Missionary Chocolates:

Missionary Chocolates is a handcrafted vegan and gluten free truffle company owned and operated by my sister and I in Portland, Oregon. We originally started making truffles for our Mom, who is a vegan (30 years!) with a gluten intolerance. She complained that their weren’t any good truffles on the market she could eat – and specifically, truffles so good she would actually want to eat them!

So, my sister started playing around in the kitchen, and soon enough the truffles took off, to the point where I came as her business partner, and eventually, got dragged into the kitchen too. It is a lot of fun!

Our truffles are made with organic coconut cream, fair-trade Guittard chocolate and the best local, seasonal and organic ingredients we can obtain.  As they are lactose and gluten free,  with no added sugars or preservatives, the truffles are a unique gourmet dessert choice for those who cannot or do not wish to eat dairy products, or those with other dietary concerns.

With flavors like our award winning Meyer Lemon Explosion and the Vanilla Salted Caramel, we offer an array of rich and creamy unique taste experiences that our chocolate fans have come to love (and crave!).

 - Vanessa E. Holden, co-owner, Missionary Chocolates