Thursday, February 24, 2011

Farmers' Market Mondays

My great finds from this past Monday's trip to my local FM
There's a new tradition happening in this vegan blogger's household - Farmers' Market Mondays. Our good friends and fellow vegan sidekicks, blogger Brian Leahy and actress/photographer Joanna Wilson, introduced us about a month ago to the magic and wonder that is the West Hollywood Monday Farmers' Market, and Steve and I have been weekly visitors regularly ever since.

I've never been a real "Farmers' Market person," and not because I didn't love and completely respect all that they stand for. It was mostly because I lived in Brooklyn before, and, after getting through a super busy week filled with multiple subway trips and schlepping all of my stuff around the city, the last thing I felt like doing was going out of my regular shopping routine and finding a new place to get my veggies. Silly Lindsay!

Funny part is that I still have a super busy week, filled now with multiple car trips - but I'm still making it a priority to visit and buy yummy produce from my local Farmers' Market. Why?

1) It's cheaper than buying my veggies at Whole Foods (my favorite place in the world, mind you - why do you think I had such trouble giving up that routine?!),

2) It supports local farmers and sustainable farming practices. 

3) It's fun! Since all of the vendors take cash, I usually bring with me twenty to thirty bucks at most, and I almost feel like a kid in a candy store trying to find the best way to spend my money - except my candy store is filled with yummy, wholesome veggies (that taste more delicious to me than candy ever will - all thanks to going vegan! Double win!).

4) Because in California in February, you can get the following veggies and fruits from your local Farmers' Market: kale, bok choy, grapefruits, oranges, lettuce, collard greens, lemons, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, grapes, mushrooms, and avocado - the list goes on and on...

5) When you buy vegetables straight from the source, they just plain taste better!

My kitty loves veggies as much as his mommy does.
6) Because when I remember to bring my own bags and support my local FM, I feel like I've done something good for my community without a whole lot of effort.

7) Because Jumper the cat says so. (see photo at left)

There are oodles more reasons to smile about Farmers' Markets, so I invite you to discover some of your own this week when you - yes, YOU! - visit your local market.

Make sure to comment below to share your experience with the KMIV family.

Interesting in finding your local Farmers' Market? Go to www.localharvest.org to get started!
 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Supersized? or Veganized? Podcast #2 with Alexandra Jamieson

Enjoy another guest post by the vegan hubby and guest-blogger-at-large, Steven Todd Smith!

In the first two years of college, I had my routine: stay up late, write a paper, grab some McDonalds at 2 am.  It was yummy, it was convenient, and it sure became a habit.  Summer 2004 comes rolling around and so does a film that would open my eyes to my convenient, tasty habit and start the first phase of my journey toward detoxification: Super Size Me.  After watching this film, I made the decision to swear off fast food from my diet - a decision that, after watching the disgusting gluttony and detrimental consequences of the fast food lifestyle, was incredibly easy to make.

Fast forward to Fall 2007, I give up eating four-legged land animals (or in the world of omnivory, "red meat"), a personal decision for my health.  Fast forward to Summer 2009, after seeing Food, Inc., another great documentary about the food industry, I take a month long veg pledge, cutting out all animals from my diet.  Fast forward to September 1st, 2009, I take my first official steps into Veganhood, eliminating the remaining animal products from my diet, and begin my rest-of-lifelong journey toward living as healthfully, compassionately, and responsibly as I can (credit to Skinny Bastard for the final decision - plenty of informative, life-changing material out there, both on the page and the screen, as you can see).

Alexandra's rockin' book
Why take you back for this life drive-thru of my diet?  Well, in that fateful movie that cut out the oil-drenched, heavily-salted fries; the fat-saturated (with saturated fat?) quarter pounders; and the greasy nuggets of chicken (were they really that appetizing?) from my life, I was introduced to Alexandra Jamieson, then girlfriend to and nutrition consultant for (and credited as Healthy Chef Alex) filmmaker Morgan Spurlock during his 30-day plunge into the depths of fast food.  She guided him from severe sickness after the month-long McDonalds binge back to vitality, health, and fit-ness (huh, whattya know, the state of being fit!).  Alexandra successfully detoxified someone who had consumed 30 lbs of sugar and 12 lbs of fat from all of the burgers, fries, nuggets, and soda (90 consecutive meals from McDonalds!), truly showing the powerful effects of a whole foods, vegan diet and the necessity of detoxifying your body of the poisons you ingest from certain foods.  Light bulb moment: she planted the seed for my healthy living!  (Thanks Alexandra!)  

Alexandra's other rockin' book
Fast forward to Fall 2010, I'm in NYC at GustOrganics (a restaurant receiving its own post soon!) for World Go Vegan Week (see World Go Vegan Week post) with Matt Rice, of Mercy For Animals, and Alexandra Jamieson, the aforementioned vegan nutrition consultant/chef (that saved her now-husband's life), author of three books, and creator of two amazing websites/health programs.  Besides being incredibly fun and personable, Alexandra is a mean chef (meaning, you know, a nice chef who makes really delicious food).  After our first accidentally erased interview, Alexandra was so accommodating and allowed me to meet her after her Park Slope Co-Op shift in Brooklyn for our second take.  With her positive outlook and inspiring attitude, there's a lot we can learn from Alex' experiences and knowledge.  Where and when can we start? 

Well, final fast forward to now, where you get to enjoy this wonderful October 2010 podcast interview with superstar Alexandra Jamieson!  Through her husband's journey and her nutrition advice, I was able to take my first step to avoid being supersized.  Do you wanna avoid being supersized?  Get Veganized!



Alexandra is a professional trained chef, having studied at New York City’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts.  In addition, Alex is a certified health and nutrition counselor. She studied with ground-breaking pioneers in the field of nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is accredited by Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.  Check out her websites www.nutritionforempoweredwomen.com and www.weekinaweekend.com and pick up any or all of her three books: Living Vegan for Dummies, The Great American Detox Diet, and Vegan Cooking for Dummies!

Also, keep an eye out for World Go Vegan Week 2011!  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Farm to Fridge Project

This past week, Mercy for Animals, an amazing animal protection organization we've spoke about before on here, released their latest documentary video about the animals we use to make into food. It's called "Farm to Fridge,"and it consists of 12 minutes of undercover footage on factory farms across the nation, ranging from egg-laying facilities to dairy "farms", and all the way to factory fish farms. While harrowing and very difficult to watch, I made an empowered choice and decided to view it first before sharing it here, and I must say, it has completely reminded me that the work of an animal activist is never done. 


I was angry, sad, and basically an emotional wreck watching this thing and those old feelings of helplessness began to creep in as I took in the gravity of this seemingly hopeless situation. But in my two years of vegan living, I've learned that in order to find something positive, something to smile about, amongst the dark truth of animal abuse, we need to act. Whether it's through a blog, a video on your facebook wall, or creating an animal rights/vegan book club, we need to push through the pain and filter it into something hopeful and uplifting, something tangible, something people can use to empower their own lives.

Thus, the Farm to Fridge project was born. What is the Farm to Fridge Project? Well, I'll be sharing "Farm to Fridge" on my facebook wall for seven days, and each day, I will remind everyone out there that if they choose to watch it and feel helpless afterward, I can help. This is my pledge, and it's the least I can do for these innocent, sensitive, and  needlessly abused animals.

And now I reach out to you - my beautiful, compassionate, kiss-worthy community of readers and activists: 


Will you make a pledge with me to feature "Farm to Fridge" on your facebook wall for the next week? Or at least the next day? Because even if a thousand people don't stop to watch it, one might. And that one may be a person who never before considered changing his or her ways from carnist to vegan. 

I would love to get a tally of who decides to participate, so could you comment below this post if you'll be pledging to share the video?

Thank you, as always, for your rockin' support and open hearts. It is my sincere hope that this project will inspire and empower others to open their own hearts to positive change. Let's be the change we wish to see in the world, as Gandhi so beautifully beckoned us to be during his lifetime.  Let's help give people a reason to fight for something positive, a reason to open their minds ever more to beautiful and compassionate change, a reason to really smile.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dustin Goes Vegan Camping: A Green Beans and Yam Guest Post

Below, enjoy another adorable and informative guest blog courtesy of Green Beans and Yam (Remember GB&Y's holiday guest post back in December? Click here for a refresher!). Except that this time, Melissa O' Teske's hubby, Dustin, takes the lead and shares with us why vegan camping was one of his most satisfying experiences to date. Thanks Dustin!

Camping has always been a big part of my life. It’s why I chose to propose to Melissa on a sandy beach at our favorite campground.  It was a big part of Melissa’s life too, and common ground that we were able to start our family on together. This past summer I had a free weekend so I packed up my car, called up my brother Brandon, and headed up to the north woods of Wisconsin for a little vegan adventure. 

Back when we initially went vegan, there was some anxiety that went with our first few vacations.  As we headed out in the woods, listening to Bon Iver and following the sun disappearing behind the pines, I realized how much easier camping could be as a vegan. For instance, instead of your big Coleman cooler full of burgers, brats, ketchup, milk, cheese, and ice we substituted a small lunch box with pico de gallo, kale, beans & rice, avocados, and carrot sticks. Sure, there was the side bag of dry stuff, but even that didn’t take up too much space.

Simple. Brandon and I were planning to pack a lot of travel into a short amount of time and sitting at a fire cooking was going to be a luxury. It would be cereal and bananas for breakfast, trail mix as a snack, and then burrito style wraps with apples and carrots for our main meals. Brandon was excited to try this diet and although he came willingly, I could tell that he was a little hesitant about some things like the rice milk. In the end, he agreed that it was like switching to skim milk, but better because it was enriched with multiple vitamins and didn’t need to be refrigerated until it was opened.

It worked out GREAT, though. Vegan camping can be REALLY EASY! It’s amazing how much space the food has to take up in the car, but don’t forget about the cooking supplies. No camping stove, no griddle, no elaborate equipment or dishes. We literally brought two bowls, two spoons, some paper plates and a knife. We rinsed and cleaned everything after every use which leads to the best part. We spent less then 20 minutes on each meal and the majority of that was eating and talking! After that we were back on the move exploring.

It’s important to note our energy levels, too. You may have noticed several key factors about our meals. Because we spent the majority of the time biking (42 miles on mostly dirt roads) and hiking around falls, we not only needed the time, but we definitely needed high energy. Apples and bananas can be turned around into energy quickly so they worked out well. The trail mix was raisins, almonds, cashews, Kashi Cinnamon O’s, and mainly sunflower, pumpkin, and other assorted seeds. I swear that without this and the frequent breaks, I wouldn’t have made it past 35 miles on our bike trip. Lastly, while the wraps may have seemed small, they were definitely filling. One of those puppies was all we needed to fill us up at both lunch and dinner.

The greatest thing about our diet for the weekend is not what it did, but what it didn’t do - prohibit us from finding and enjoying what we were looking for: NATURE!


For more information on Melissa and Dustin’s adventure into an eco-friendly, vegan lifestyle, check out their blog: www.greenbeansandyam.com.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Steve's Guest Blog: An Interview With Melanie Joy

Below, enjoy a guest blog and interview by my husband, vegan male blogger extraordinaire Steven Smith. It should be noted that Melanie marks our 20th interview to date, and we couldn't be happier to have her on the blog today! Read on...

Depending on the source, it has been cited that there are somewhere between 250,000 to 1,000,000 words in the English language.  The average person may know or use around 12,000 to 20,000 of them, more or less; again, depending on what roots, derivatives, and slang are being used, the number can vastly fluctuate.  What's for certain, though, is one word that has not made it into the mainstream of the English language. Not only will it be the focal point of this post but also a term that will revolutionize the way everyone thinks about their daily dietary and lifestyle choices.  This word is carnism.  The book is Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to CarnismIts creation is all thanks to Melanie Joy.

While it was back in 2001 that she coined this term, it wasn't until last year that it really jumped onto the scene in the aforementioned book.  And shortly after its introduction to the literary world, I bought my copy and learned about carnism myself.  As an avid reader of plant-based nutrition, animal activism, and vegan advocacy literature, I have to say I experienced something entirely different than I had from my previous reads.  All are usually inspiring, educational, and touching, but this one... I felt this one could be revolutionary.  Introducing and analyzing the sociological and psychological motives behind what we eat and why we eat it, Melanie exposes the invisible defense mechanisms and reasoning that allow certain decisions, that upon further inspection would be considered cruel and immoral, to be deemed as fundamental to our society.  She separates dietary dependencies from belief systems and challenges us to look deep within our own morals and mores and determine if our actions do indeed back up our own system of values.

Not just a beautiful, thought-provoking read, but a true commencement of enlightenment into our relationship, as humans, with animals.  By the end, there is a hope that people will bear witness, accept the hidden truths that are, in fact, right under our noses, and take responsible and compassionate action.  Pick up a copy of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows as soon as you can, and check out Melanie's newest website, The Carnism Awareness and Action Network, a resource for vegetarians, vegans, and carnists who wish to understand and help expose and transform carnism. With that, it's an absolute pleasure to delve a little bit deeper with Melanie Joy:

Kiss Me, I'm Vegan: You introduce us to the ideology of carnism in Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.  What is carnism, and how does a carnist differ from one with a more mainstream title (carnivore, omnivore, vegetarian, etc.)?

Melanie: Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism. However, unlike veganism, carnism has not been named, and therefore eating animals is seen as a given, rather than a choice. But when eating animals is not a necessity for survival, it is a choice, and choices always stem from beliefs. So, contrary to popular belief, vegans are not the only ones who bring their beliefs to the dinner table. 

Melanie's website, www.carnism.com
Carnism is a dominant, violent ideology that uses a set of social and psychological defense mechanisms that enable humane people to participate in inhumane practices without realizing what they’re doing. These “carnistic defenses” distort our perceptions of meat and the animals we learn to eat, so that we can feel comfortable enough to consume them. 

Not surprisingly, the primary defense of carnism is invisibility, and the primary way the system remains invisible is by remaining unnamed: if we don’t name carnism, eating animals appears to be a given rather than a choice—and we can’t talk about or question the system. Moreover, carnistic language masks and distorts reality; for instance, the labels we use for “non-vegans” are inaccurate and reinforce, rather than expose, carnism. The label “meat eater” reinforces the perception of animals as “meat” and also focuses on the act of eating, implying that eating animals is a behavior that is divorced from a belief system—we don’t call vegans “plant eaters” for this very reason. And the terms “carnivore” and “omnivore” refer to one’s physiological disposition, rather than one’s ideological choice: an omnivore is an animal, human or nonhuman, that can ingest both plant and animal matter (and if humans are naturally omnivorous, then a vegan is just as much an omnivore as someone who eats animals); and a carnivore is an animal that needs to ingest flesh in order to survive. Both “carnivore” and “omnivore” reinforce the assumption that eating animals is natural, one of the most entrenched myths of carnism. 

I therefore use the term “carnist,” a derivative of “carnism,” to describe those who eat animals. If we have a name for vegans and vegetarians, it only makes sense to have a name for those whose behaviors reflect the opposing belief system.

KMIV: For something that exists in social (un)consciousness as "normal, natural, and necessary," as you state in the book, how do we bring carnism to the surface and invoke our truest sense of free will?

Melanie: I think it’s incredibly important that vegans recognize—and help carnists recognize— carnism. Carnistic defenses lose much of their power when they are made visible. Once carnists realize that their thoughts, feelings, and actions have been shaped by an invisible system that requires them to act against their core values, then—and only then—are they in a position to make their choices freely. Without awareness, there is no free choice.
Encouraging others to become vegan necessarily entails helping them step outside of the carnistic box; as long as they’re inside that box, they’ll see the world through the lens of carnism. And for someone to be willing to step outside a box, they need to realize that they’re in a box in the first place. So a vital aspect of vegan advocacy is making carnism visible.
One defense that is essential to expose is what I refer to as the Three Ns of Justification (eating animals is normal, natural, and necessary). The Three Ns are myths that are used to perpetuate a violent ideology which most people would likely choose not to support if they were aware of the truth—the truth about not only the consumption of animals, but about carnism, the system that makes such consumption possible in the first place. If vegans recognize these myths (which have been used to justify virtually all violent ideologies, from slavery to male dominance), they are in a much better position to help carnists do the same. 

KMIV: When discussing veganism or an opposing lifestyle, we usually hear about it from a scientific, emotional, or a health/culinary point of view.  Why is bringing the psychological point of view on the topic just as, if not more, important to include in its focus?

Melanie: Because, more often than not, the facts don’t sell the ideology. In other words, all the scientific evidence in the world, all the emotional appeals to the hearts of carnists, all the delicious vegan meals available still aren’t enough to turn most people vegan. If the facts of veganism were sufficient to get people to stop eating animals, the world would already be vegan.

I’m not saying the facts aren’t important; they are. The facts are vital. But without understanding why such facts don’t stick—why, for instance, people can be brought to tears by a film clip exposing the horrors of factory farming and the very next day happily sit down to a breakfast of bacon and eggs—we are at great disadvantage as vegan advocates. We need to focus on psychology so that we can understand and counter the mentality that blocks the facts from truly impacting those to whom we’re reaching out.

KMIV: 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?

Melanie: I think that for most people, even when the turning point of becoming vegetarian or vegan is marked by a huge moment, a series of small moments have led up to it. We need to be in a state of readiness—psychological, social, physical, financial, etc.—in order to open ourselves to the truth about carnism.

For me, becoming vegetarian (not vegan; my shift to veganism was much less dramatic and occurred nine years later) was marked by a huge moment that had followed a number of other moments. Throughout my life, I had always been an “animal lover” and by my late teens, after having been exposed to various pieces of literature about meat production, I became a tentative vegetarian. I say “tentative” because although I stopped eating meat I lacked the awareness or conviction to truly maintain a vegetarian lifestyle. So I resumed my carnism, guiltily, and felt almost as if I were a vegetarian trapped in a carnist’s body.

There were more instances where I heard some disturbing facts about meat production, but I wasn’t ready to commit to vegetarianism and pushed such information out of my consciousness. Then, at the age of 23, after eating what turned out to be a tainted hamburger at a local restaurant, I wound up on intravenous antibiotics at Beth Israel Hospital. The pain of that experience gave me just the motivation I needed to stop eating flesh and eggs, and I became a passionate advocate for vegetarianism. Nearly a decade later, after having met a vegan who compassionately encouraged me to reflect on my dairy consumption, I became a vegan.  

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

Melanie: I think the greatest reward is that I feel a much deeper sense of connection with other beings—and with myself—now that I’m no longer living the double life I did as a carnist, when I loved animals and also ate them. I’m most aware of this connection when I’m around animals, eating meals, or cooking (which I love to do). I feel more fully myself, empowered in the knowledge that, when it comes to my relationship with other beings, I’m living in accordance with my core values. A side benefit is that I am healthier today than I was when I was half my age, and people tell me that I look much younger than I actually am.

My greatest challenge—and I think many vegans can relate to this—is living in a carnistic world that daily offends my deepest sensibilities. A related challenge is knowing that I can (and I intend to) spend the rest of my life working for animal liberation but will likely not live to see the day this goal is realized. A less dramatic but still difficult challenge is making it through the frigid Boston winters without wearing down coats, wool sweaters, leather boots, and silk long johns!

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

Melanie: I would ask them what exactly their fears were, and help them consider how to move toward veganism in a way that felt safe and sustainable to them. People are more likely to make lasting, healthful changes when such changes fit in with their current psychological, social, financial, and physical state.

KMIV: Okay - time to get silly (or still serious, your call) - you're stuck on a deserted island with three vegan food items - what are they and why?

Melanie: I’d have to say eggplant, red or green peppers, and seaweed—because these are the only vegan foods I don’t like. I’m a huge foodie and sometimes my self-control goes out the window when it comes to my favorite foods. If I were stuck on an island, I’d want to be able to pace myself and make my rations last!

Melanie Joy, Ph.D. is a Harvard-educated psychologist, professor, and personal/relationship coach, and she is the author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. Dr. Joy has been interviewed about carnism for magazines, books, and radio, including the BBC, NPR, PBS, and the prestigious Le Scienze. Dr. Joy is also the author of Strategic Action for Animals: A Handbook on Strategic Movement Building, Organizing, and Activism for Animal Liberation, and she has been an animal advocate for over two decades. Dr. Joy recently founded Carnism Awareness & Action Network, a resource for vegetarians, vegans, and carnists who wish to understand and help expose and transform carnism.