Vegan already? Excellent! Then keep calm, vegan on, and scroll down for latest post.
Vegan already? Excellent! Then keep calm, vegan on, and scroll down for latest post.
Nope, I'm not referring to What-Does-Killing-Turkeys-Have-To-Do-With-Giving-Thanks Day (although Happy Thanksliving to all American readers!), or even Black Friday, but the pressure to get a flu shot. In my case, it's a mandatory job requirement that I've (mostly) managed to avoid thus far, but this year they've become more stringent. Understandable in a way since the elderly population I work with is more vulnerable, and their weaker immune systems make fighting off the flu more difficult. So I get that while for various reasons I may choose not to get the flu shot myself (do some googling and you'll find plenty of folk debating the pros and cons and efficacy), I still need to protect others. This I try to do by always coughing or sneezing into my uniform sleeve, washing or sanitizing hands frequently, and not going in when sick.
I've only been talked into getting the shot once by my employers (and regretted it almost immediately), and other years they have mercifully either forgotten to ask (sometimes a "don't ask, don't tell" policy can be a good thing) or just haven't pushed it. But this year a sheet was placed in our work slots informing us that we either have to get the flu shot, OR provide a copy of our prescription for Tami flu (also not ideal, and you have to wear a mask while working), OR we will not be allowed to work during an outbreak and won't receive pay for that time. Luckily I'm a casual on-call employee and haven't been asked whether I've gotten the shot yet, but my feeling is that if the issue comes up I'll tell them I won't be working.
Because the real kicker of course is that the flu shot isn't vegan. Besides other nasty ingredients like formaldehyde, neomycin, thimerosal, mercury and aluminum, the vaccine is made using fertilized chicken eggs, or in the case of those allergic to eggs, newer vaccines using animal cells can be made available. Um, yeah.
Obviously, this isn't something I want injected into my body if only because I don't consume animal products, but is this a case where you could argue that what is used to make the vaccine is a trace ingredient? And something not to make a big deal of? On the other hand, I wouldn't get the shot even if I weren't vegan because it isn't always effective (they can only guess at the flu viruses that will dominate any given season), reactions, hospitalizations and casualties do happen, and there are common-sense ways of avoiding getting the flu.
I dunno, but there's something that makes me uneasy about the push to vaccinate everyone under the sun (at least, everyone 6 months of age and older) when it may not even be effective in preventing it, for an illness that may not even happen, and for something that healthy adults are certainly not going to die from. Why don't we focus more on building healthy bodies and strong immune systems to begin with? Or natural ways of either preventing or coping with illness rather than injecting junk?
Unfortunately I can't even make the claim that I didn't realize my work would require me to get an annual flu shot as it was part of the contract I signed when I was hired on. (I just hoped to sneak around the requirement.) So what would you do? Or have done if you're a vegan working in the health care field?
p.s. can't believe a month and a half has gone by so quickly, and I hope to catch up on commenting on other blogs soon!
In other words, odds and ends, snort.
Nope, didn't sign up for this year's VeganMoFo, and regular readers will know that apart from the political implications and real suffering involved, I'm actually not that interested in food per se. But, even I have to feed myself and I DO have some favourites, so in honour of VeganMoFo I thought I'd throw in a few food-oriented posts this month.
Before becoming vegan, macaroni and cheese was one of my favourite meals to make. Not original I know, but hey, comfort food rarely is. Sadly though, I didn't make it for a couple of years because I just didn't like any of the vegan cheeses available. Not a biggie as such, and I didn't have as hard a time giving up cheese as maybe other vegans did, but I WAS a bit nostalgic when it came to mac-and-cheese. Then, Daiya answered the cheese prayer I didn't even know I had, and now my favourite yummy meal has become a staple again. Thanks Daiya! Here's the informal easy peasy recipe (which in my book = 5 ingredients or less, and no more than 15 minutes to make) for the mac-and-cheese dish above made by yours truly:
As you'll have noticed, I'm a rebel when it comes to precise measurements. They annoy me, which is one of the many reasons why I don't like baking. Other than the two cups pasta (my way of ensuring that I don't have to cook again the next day, snort), I tend to just throw in what I think I need. Make this meal a few times and you'll instinctively know how much of the ingredients will make a smooth sauce in the consistency you like. But for now, put "butter" (Earth Balance works well too) in a good-sized pot over low heat and let melt, gradually blend in flour, and then slowly start adding soymilk (or other "milk" product) until it makes a nice sauce. Add cheese (after a while you'll know how much is right for you), and keep stirring until it gets velvety smooth. Oh, I tend to make my sauce after the water has boiled for my pasta. Pasta takes no more than 10 minutes, and that's about the time it takes to make the sauce. Place noodles into the sauce when done and stir. Some folk will get all fancy and pour the sauce over the pasta separately, but why not make it easy and throw it into the sauce pan right away? There, easy peasy macaroni. Cook, eat, nuke the next day. Hmmm, wonder how many cookbooks I could sell if all the recipes were written up this way....
And lastly, any meal ALWAYS tastes better in Pyrex, especially orange or red Pyrex, and no, I'm not making that up ;)
And because I'm embarrassed at having easily reached 13 points, I'll leave it at that. I tried, I did. Really. But sadly, I could not and cannot keep up.
Part of it, I think, is that I already spend an inordinate amount of time online trying to maintain my Etsy shop, and yes, I resent the fact that it's assumed that I will blog, tweet, FB, Instagram and Pinterest all in order to sell more of my vintage collectables. Um, no.
Another part of it is that almost every website lately (including Etsy, eBay, Flickr, FB, and even my bank for Pete's sake) seems hell-bent on making their site look as much like its competitors as possible, and the end result (in my decidedly uncharitable opinion) is an extreme uglification all across the board. None of these sites, apparently, can afford to hire designers who know what design, functionality and aesthetics mean, so I end up visiting them less often.
The biggest part of it probably is that there seems to be even less time to indulge in the very tech know-how that was supposed to free up time. Remember way back (you will if you're a baby boomer like me) when the promise was dangled in front of us that leisure time would increase exponentially with the right widgets and gadgets? Right. We're living in an age when the average number of hours worked by North Americans has only increased, and the number of ways you're expected to be available (sometimes on a 24-hour basis) has multiplied in a way that can only be described as crazy-scary.
How do other people cope? Especially those who work full-time (I'm lucky enough to get away with part-time), have childcare and/or eldercare responsibilities (it's eldercare for me), hobbies, interests, and a myriad number of other things to do (ignoring for the moment the basics of sleeping, eating, and cleaning.) And what about plain relaxing? Reading? Actually connecting with people (and lovely non-people) offline? How do we fit it all in without becoming overwhelmed?
Specifically, how do we as vegans who want to change the world fit it all in? How much time do we spend online? How is our advocacy best directed? How do we have a life while also improving the lives of others? And how do we become vegan social media successes without feeling spread too thin? Please, dear reader, I'm counting on you to fill me in because I'm starting to think that I don't have a clue.
p.s. I'm in love lately with phrases like slow coffee (the way I've been making it for 20+ years but without calling it that), and am begining to believe that a slow media diet may just be my cup of tea. ;)
p.p.s. just read and want to share (ha, guess I'm not that much of a failure, snort) Andrew Kirschner's interesting and thought-provoking The Problem With Veganism.
Remember how I mentioned in the vegan blog heaven post back in July that I still have a few other abandoned blogs floating around? Well, someone commented the other day on a humour piece I posted four years ago about being unemployed (yes, my brain is wacky enough to joke about being out of work), which was totally cool since I forgot I even wrote the darn thing! Written back in 1998 (yep, you read that right, 15 years ago), I reread it just now and have to admit that parts of it still made me laugh. So I figured why not inflict it on share it with my readers? ;)
And you know, if I wrote something like that today I'd probably try to self-publish, or at least put in more of an effort to get it published somewhere. With the addition of a few stick figures (I can't draw to save my life), I still think it would have made a cute little book. Or zine, or something.
Anyhoo, if interested, here's: You Know You've Been Unemployed Too Long When... Oh, because it came to life 10 years before I saw the vegan light, it still contains a few animal product references. Ignore. And enjoy the rest. :)
...is still a bully.
If someone sounds like a bully, acts like a bully, and makes others feel like they've been bullied, well, that person is probably a bully. Doesn't matter if they're vegan, or if they have the best of intentions, or are bullying to make things better for those who can't, it's still bullying. Playing the blame and shame game (and believe me, I'm guilty of this too many times as well, and in fact may be doing it right now!) is not gonna work.
People instinctively KNOW when they're being bullied (even if they don't identify it as such), and they rightfully don't like it. So whether your name is Tom (no, not YOU Tom, snort), Dick, or Gary, cut it out already. Watch out for bullying tendencies, whatever your name. It's a matter of degree, and those of us passionate about a cause are possibly even more prone to it, so be careful. And yes, I'm including myself here.
Clicked on a bunch of vegan blogs I hadn't visited for a while the other day, only to be greeted by a Sorry, the blog you were looking for does not exist. more times than I liked. Yikes. Or, I found blogs all forlorn, lonely and dusty, abandoned by former guardians. And I get it, I do. I once read that most blogs have a shelf life of about a year, and blogs can take up a lot of time, energy and a life of their own if you're not careful, but I always worry when I come across abandoned sites. Because where do dead blogs go anyway?
Did the author lose interest? Steam? Did life demands crowd out the time necessary to cultivate a blog that needs attention to survive? That I understand too, as I have a few of my own previous blogs floating around as my passion shifted to veganism. But I could never get myself to kill off my ex-loves (who knows who might still be helped, inspired or amused by them), so chose to leave forwarding addresses instead.
My real worry with vegan blogs though, is that its owner has had a change of heart. I remember reading a blog by a self-described "middle-aged vegan chick" and being quite excited (yay, I'm a middle-aged vegan woman too and can relate!), and poof, before I knew it the blog had disappeared completely. Fine, I understand if you don't want your record of thoughts to exist online if you're no longer contributing, but maybe give some kind of notice? Otherwise, I'll be wondering if you're no longer vegan, that you've chosen to unsee what you once saw, and unknow what you once knew. And that would be too sad for words.
This summer I'm trying to get caught up with blogs I've neglected, perhaps prune a few from my list that are no longer a good match for me (it's not your blog, it's me!), and add some new ones to the mix. Hard, because I think all vegan blogs deserve readers, but it's almost impossible to read them all, and if you're anything like me you already suffer from information overload. One blog I will be keeping an eye on though is by someone whom I recently "met" online. While Linda writes at My Name Is Fluffy, her thinking and reasoning is anything but, so check out her site if you like.
And keep on vegan blogging everyone! :)
What? I can already hear you say.
Didn't I write being vegan means many things just three posts ago? Yep. But we're vegans right? Which means we're smart cookies comfortable with paradox (I have 2 more to add to the series) and contradiction. (In other words, we're Walt Whitman-esque. See the great quote Tom provided in the first comment here.)
Yes, even though we're all the things mentioned in the post above, what being vegan really boils down to is giving voice to the voiceless. In a way, you're a reporter. So, time to brush up on the Five Ws? ;)
OFF on cold hot
happy sad sick healthy
(see hear speak no) evil good
us \/ them
So why are we still acting as if there is no overlap, no continuum, no middle ground, no in-between, and no grey? That's not real life. That's not how the real world works. And it isn't how we're going to achieve vegan (r) evolution.
p.s. I've always liked how evil written backwards is live -- now THAT spells dichotomy.
*** For anyone who subscribes to my blog (and why would you not? especially if I promise to post more frequently!) via Google Reader, please don't forget that the nitwits wise folk who run the world's largest Oggle show have declared Reader dead and defunct as of July 1, which means that you'll have to find another reader OR subscribe via email instead. Yes, do that and I may even promise to be more (less?) snarky than I just was, snort. ***
(And by "earlier", I mean June 2. Why have I not told you about this before now? Heat? Laziness? Life got in the way? Take your pick. Okay, back to post.)
Well, it was more of a greet than meet, but still! Plus, she signed my copy of Vegan for Life, so that was pretty cool. And how did I get the rare opportunity to see one of my vegan heroes in the flesh? Why, by attending Niagara VegFest of course. Where I also ran into the famous (infamous?) John Sakars. Poor guy. Still doesn't know who I am, but I know who he is, boo haha...
Back to Niagara VegFest. Sure, it's not as flashy or famous as Vida Vegan Con, but it's free (my very favourite F word, snort) and I was impressed with their speaker lineup. Well done, organizers! Attracting more than 4000 people in your second year in a not-too-big-of-a-city is awesome, so can't wait to see what magic you guys conjure up in the third year.
Went by bus this time so wasn't able to hear all of the speakers, but the three sessions I did attend were fantastic. Plus I learned a phrase that sums it up for many vegans -- WTFork. Love it!
Sessions I missed: Susie Coston "The Over 9 Billion Reasons To Go Vegan -- The Sentience of The Animals We Call Food" (bummer, I was still on the bus), Dr. Michael Greger "The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing the 15 Leading Causes of Death (stuffing my face I'm afraid), and Linda Grago "Lessons in Diversity: Growing Heirloom Vegetables" (darn, was taking the last bus out.)
Sessions I didn't miss: Victoria Moran "Main Street Vegan" (great speaker, and great topic -- yep, we so need to make veganism mainstream!), Ginny Messina "Happy, Healthy Vegan for Life: Ten Tips to Guarantee Success" (this session was a success for sure), and JL Fields "Healthy Food Preparation for the Busy Non-Cook: Tips, Trips and Techniques to Eat a Balanced, Compassionate Diet" (JL is funny, informative and sassy -- a classic combo, plus she made us creamy kale miso soup!)
Now, and because I really don't think Ginny would mind if I shared the bullet points of her presentation, here in a nutshell are her ten tips:
She also introduced a cool diagram from her new book Vegan For Her:
So, lots of good vegan food, info, and fun. Who could ask for anything more? ;)