Monday, February 25, 2013

Meet, Meatless Mondays

There has been a new craze sweeping over the world for the past few years. Dubbed, “Meatless Mondays”, the concept is simple. Replace one day a week, Monday or any other, with meals where meat is substituted or removed from the menu. This seemingly miniscule change has far reaching effects from helping the plight of animals in factory farming conditions, to improving your personal health, all the way to saving the devastating effects that the meat industry has on the environment. It's not everyday that you wake up and think, “I'm going to make the world a better place today!”, and it doesn't have to be everyday. Give meatless Mondays a try and do your part for just one day a week.

The critical crux where those who promote veganism or vegetarianism go astray is in their all or nothing approach. Change in almost every situation is not immediate, and a meatless diet is no different. It takes a gradual progression and steady improvement upon one situation to realize flaws and make a lasting change possible. Removing the meat from the table and the kitchen for just one day a week has so many more effects than you could even begin to imagine.

For the Animals:

Over 150 million animals are killed each day for food consumption. That is a staggering number. Over 3,000 animals a second are slaughtered so that we can eat them. No matter who you are, what you, and what you believe in those numbers are hard to swallow. Animals are our pets, our friends, and our companions. There was recently a huge deal about horse meat being found in what was supposed to be beef products. This just shows how all “meat” is basically the same. It is the body of a once living, breathing animal, that if given the choice, would still be alive. It is not our place to enslave the natural world for our greed. A meatless day of the week can spare the lives of millions of animals over time.

For the Planet:

If you take into consideration the amount of water, grain and land that 150 million animals each day need to have used, or taken up at one point, you can quickly realize how big of an impact animal farming has on every single aspect of our lives, on our planet, and for our sustainability. Imagine how heavy those big two gallon jugs of water are when you see them in the store. Now realize that it takes about 2,000 gallons of water for a single pound of beef to be produced. A quarter pound hamburger? In beef alone that meat took over 500 gallons of water to produce. Removing meat from your diet for a single day a week can help reduce your carbon footprint, help conserve resources, and turn back the hands of destruction that we take so much for granted on our planet.

For Your Health:

Saving the planet and helping little animals is all well and good but what's in it for you? Most of us were raised on meat and the taste is not only a comfort, but a standard of food in our minds. The fact of the matter is that in nature, meat would not have nearly the presence that it does in a modern person's diet. In fact, acquired disease is rampant largely in part due to the overconsumption of large amounts of animal proteins. There has been a plethora of research not only linking red meat consumption directly to colon cancer, but that diets high in fruits and vegetable significantly lower cancer risks. It doesn't end at cancer. Diets with large amounts of meat and high fat dairy and other animal products are linked directly to type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The link between meat and preventable illness is no longer up for debate. Choosing to opt of of eating meat for simply one day a week will not only help the planet and the animals, but it will give you a better quality of life, a better conscience and a longer life as well.

For Your Lifestyle:

Choosing a meat free day of the week can open up your world to an entirely new side of discovery. You'll end up trying new foods, whether meat substitutes or ethnic cuisines that you may have never even heard of before. Many asian cuisines and middle eastern dishes are meat free by chance and will allow you to explore exotic and tasty dishes that might even become your new favorites. With the growing acceptance and exploration of vegan foods and meat free alternatives you don't have to substitute taste for compassion, or blandness for bacon. There are entire sections of the grocery store that can help you find meat free alternatives that taste amazing.

Meatless Mondays may be a catchy phrase, but at the end of the day it really is just a term to describe bettering ourselves and our planet. There are tons of famous people, who are meat eaters and always will be, who have adopted this one day a week exclusion of meat. Famous, world class chefs such as Curtis Stone, Mario Batalli, and Giada De Laurentiis have all taken the pledge to go meat free for one day a week. If people who know exactly how good meat can be can make this decision you can too. Join up with all of us who have pledged at least one day a week meat free!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Society That Cried Wolf

I’m old enough to remember Y2K and all of the hype surrounding that supposed end of times. Now this generation is growing up having seen the failure of the infamous 12/21/12. When will it happen again? What date will be selected for the next mass craze?

It concerns me that so often in our society do we work ourselves up with such vigor over events that seem to carry over unnoticed. What happened today that wouldn’t, or couldn’t have taken place any other day? Sure, there were deaths, murders, crimes, whatever happening all over the world, but it was still just a normal day. I still went to bed too late, woke up too early, ate a shitty lunch, and had a mediocre day at work; nothing out of the ordinary.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t nervous. I am a neurotic, anxiety prone dude. No two ways about it. But, this kind of hysteria which seems to only be our culture’s way of poking fun at our mortal fate is disturbing. What would happen when the real end of times happens? Is this kind of social phenomena, a symptom of some higher power that is preparing us to make fun of this idea so that when it really happens we are laughing about it? Is this our society crying wolf so that no one takes it seriously when it does happen?

Maybe I’ve just watched too much Doomsday Preppers and other mind numbing Dicovery Channel dribble. Not maybe, I have. I just don’t know why we are so fixated on a Hollywood style end of times catastrophe. The world is already crumbling down around us. We are polluting the air, water, and oceans faster than nature can heal itself. Our resources are being destroyed and our current set up is terrible. We are a society that wraps bananas in plastic to sell them. We are a society that throws out food rather than give it to those who are starving. We are a society that needs a wakeup call. We are a society that needs to change. We don’t need to have a catastrophe to start this change. We all just need to wake up. Look around.

That meat didn’t get to the grocery store innocently. Gallons and gallons water and grain went into making that meat. That grain and that water could have been used to feed hungry people, not antibiotic pumped cows. We are breeding animals to kill them. We are creating science fiction creatures to slaughter and consume. This all needs to change. We need a more compassionate world. We need a real change. I don’t want the world to end, but I do want the world to change. There are 7 billion people here and I refuse to believe the situation we have now is the best we can come up with, the best we can agree upon.

So the world didn’t end today. Be happy. Show some of that gratitude towards the planet that didn’t disintegrate beneath your feet. Show some thanks to the oceans that didn’t flood your streets. Be compassionate. Share your wealth. Share your food. Donate your time, money and energy. Kiss your loved ones. Hold them tight and tell them you care about them. Take this wakeup call as recognition to be happy, to be free. The world didn’t end! Spread your love!
End Rant.

Monday, December 17, 2012

RECIPE TIME!! Vegan Mac and Cheese

“Mac and Cheeze”
My ex-girlfriend, who is now vegan, was raised on an extreme version of the SAD (Standard American Diet). A slab of meat, canned vegetables, and instant mashed potatoes, or hotdogs and mac and cheese were basic staples of her childhood. Her cravings for that creamy, Kraft style Mac and Cheese led us on an adventure towards perfecting a substitute that would pass for that childhood flavor.
By George, we think we’ve got it!
Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 1 box Mac and Cheese (the kind where the noodles come separately from the cheese sauce packet)
The Sauce
  • A few tablespoons more than a half cup of your favorite non dairy milk (soy or almond milk recommended)
  • ¼ of a cup of Daiya Cheddar style shreds
  • 1 Teaspoon of Earth Balance, or other non dairy butter substitute
  • 1 Teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of whole wheat flour
  • Pinch of salt, to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a splash of cooking oil and a pinch of salt to flavor the water and help the noodles not stick together. Add the box of noodles, stirring occasionally, and allow to fully cook. When they’re done drain them in a colander and let them sit until the sauce is done.
Add the non dairy milk into a pot over medium high heat. Add the non dairy butter, sugar and salt. Stir the liquid to dissolve the ingredients and incorporate them all. Add the Daiya Shreds and allow to heat until the cheese becomes completely melted. Add the flour to the pot and stir and whisk the sauce to combine all of the ingredients and break up any clumps. Keep whisking until the sauce get hot enough to become bubbly and a uniform color and texture. Shut off the heat to the stove and allow the sauce to sit in the pot.
Take the cooked noodles and dump them into the pot. Stir the noodles around until completely coated in the sauce. Now you have that mac and cheese that you have missed so much! Not to mention it’s cruelty and cholesterol free!

Stay tuned for pictures and stuff!

Monday, December 10, 2012

I Might Not Be Allowed to Be Called Japanese Anymore


It happened. The perfect storm of events that might make me not eligible to be considered Japanese anymore took place.

First of all, my rice cooker pot broke. This rendered me unable to make rice in a timely and convenient fashion. Cooking rice in a pot on the stove? As that meme would say, "Aint nobody got time for that!" As we all know, a Japanese person without rice is almost an exact comparison to a fish out of water. Unless of course the fish is going to be used for sushi, in which case that is the logical progression, but I digress. So, I broke my damn rice cooker. Although this may not seem like a huge deal, motha fukka's bills be tight recently. Motha fukka doesn't really have time or money to go out and just replace a rice cooker. Shit costs mad yen, homie.

It happened again. In a fit of desperation mixed with the perfect proportion of laziness and convenience in the grocery store, I happened upon the rice section in the infamous asian aisle. I saw that Morgan Freeman looking sonofabitch glaring back at me with his nice, big smile. I couldn't resist. I needed rice and this newfangled Uncle, who goes by Ben, claimed to have some bomb ass medium grain which would be cooked in five minutes! It was an offer I couldn't refuse. So I went home, and to get my fix of that white stuff I boiled that shiz up. In about 7 minutes I had a pot of my new friend Uncle Ben's goodness steaming away for my pleasure. I put some teriyaki vegetables and tofu on that shiz and I put some kimchi on the side. Now I know to most people somewhat familar with all of the components of that sentence there is now a mixture of Japanese food, white-man-minute-rice, and a korean staple on that plate. To most this would sound like some sort of prelude to another international dispute. Well, the thing is this... PSY made a catchy ass song, and kimchi is mad good. Uncle Ben came through in the clutch and got my ass some rice. Teriyaki vegetables and tofu need no damn explanation.

So this is the question I put out there for everyone: does the combination of me not having/breaking a rice cooker, coupled with cooking and eating Uncle Ben's minute rice disqualify me in some fashion from being Japanese?

I'd hope not, but you never know these days.

Friday, December 7, 2012

First Post! Who I am, what I'm here for, and where I'm going!

Hello everyone!

I wanted to start this blog to document my adventures in life, my ventures in various vegan venues, my terrible alliteration attempts. Really though, I want this to be a place where I can speak my mind, learn a few things, and of course share many things.

Who Are you Even (stevens)?!

My name is Mark. Yes, Mark, with a "K". Not any of that pseudo French style spelling. I currently reside in the teeny, tiny town of Olcott, New York. It's about a stone's throw, literally, from the shores of Lake Ontario. I wasn't always in this oppressive little town though. I came into this world in the city of San Francisco. On the 25th of July, in the year of 1989, a new baby boy came into this world. That boy was me! Now I guess I'm considered a man, but that title never really seems fitting to me. I still feel like I'm some sort of amalgamation of an elderly man, a punk kid, and a rebel with many causes.

I'm vegan, and I have been for years. I live about an hour from the only decent grocery store in the area, and giving it the title "decent" is bestowing a credit where it is barely due. So, I cook most of my own meals. I'm an avid amateur chef so I will certainly be posting some sweet recipes on here for you all to find, vegan of course!

I'm an aspiring artist. I love to paint, sketch, and create in any and every medium(sometimes larges(always awful puns)) So, you'll see some of my art presented here sometimes too! I'm setting up an etsy soon to sell my creations, crafts and other random things as well. I'll update when it's all ready steady.

Nice to meet you! Please come by and keep posted on all of the goings ons ands stuffs.