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Tag: colleen patrick-goudreau

I’m Not Evil, and Neither Are You: Tribalism, Ideology, and a Call for Compassion

There’s a presumption among some vegans that if you’re vegan, you’re also liberal, socialist, atheist, feminist, intersectionalist, progressive, and leftist, that you’re pro-choice, anti-vaccine, anti-GMO’s — and that if you’re not any or all of these things, you’re unwelcome — or at least you don’t belong. Or that you’re an imposter. Or that you welcome oppression. 

We are living in a time when group loyalty and identity politics are valued more than reason, critical thinking, tolerance for another point of view, and compassion. And it scares the bejesus out of me.

Today’s episode is (yet another) call for compassion. 

Best Vegan Backpack Ever!

(READ TO THE END TO GET YOUR 10% DISCOUNT!)

I’m not a girlie girl. I don’t like purses or clutches or anything that feels fussy. I like cross-body bags and backpacks, but the cross-body bags I was wearing started hurting my shoulder, so it was time to return to backpacks.

I have a very practical one from REI I like a lot, but it’s a little too casual for every occasion, so before I left for our first Vegan Paris / Alsace group trip in December 2018, I started shopping for a vegan leather backpack that was stylish as well as functional and ethical. I couldn’t find anything I liked and didn’t want to risk paying for something online that would be expensive to ship back. Alas, I ventured to Europe with my cotton backpack and figured I’d keep looking another time. (I hate shopping.)

One of the features of our Vegan Paris / Alsace Trip is a vegan / food walking tour in the Marais region of Paris, and as our lovely guide told us about the history, walked us around, and pointed out various relevant sites, she casually called our attention to a vegan leather bag shop as we walked past it. Well, far be it from vegans to pass up such a shop, so we all doubled back to see if it was open. It was closed. As we pressed our faces against the glass peering into the minimalist shop, the owner sat at his desk peering back probably wondering who this hoard of nosey Americans were. He was kind enough (and lucky enough) to open his doors for us, and it was heaven…especially for me.

This isn’t simply a vegan leather bag shop. It is a family-owned shop that specializes in one brilliant product: an animal-free, ethically made BACKPACK that comes in 3 different sizes and 10+ different colors. I couldn’t believe it. The vegan gods had smiled upon me. The bag is stylish, functional, and designed for security. (The zipper closure is hidden when closed so pickpockets can’t pick!) It’s even won awards for this design!

Truly, everything I wanted in a backpack is in this bag. It’s very stylish, very comfortable (it fits like a vest so the weight is equally distributed all over the back), lightweight, waterproof, and large enough to fit a laptop (and I got the small size!). They’re also unisex! They’re not cheap, but that’s the point: this is an ethical bag made from an environmentally friendly material that’s meant to LAST!!

The most difficult part was choosing a color. I picked a neutral dark gray color, and 4 other of our travelers bought their own: in taupe, black, teal, and mustard. 

When we returned to Paris for our 2019 Vegan Paris / Alsace Trip, we made sure a visit to Arsayo was built into our walking tour, and this time we got to see their new line of cork bags (which is what they’re focusing on now since the material is more environmentally friendly than the synthetic leather). 

NOW YOU CAN GET YOUR OWN with a 10% discount by visiting Arsayo.com and entering joyfulvegan as the coupon code! 

Our travelers in 2019 fell in love with them as well and can’t wait to use them as advocacy tools — gifting the bags to friends and family to demonstrate how you can be fashionable AND ethical!

Which is YOUR favorite color?

Lentil Meatballs {Recipe}

Of course there are commercial vegan meatballs in the store, but in just a short time, you can enjoy a more delicious, more healthful, more affordable, zero-waste, plastic-free version! These are fantastic over traditional pasta or zoodles, pasta made from zucchini!

ADVANCE PREPARATION REQUIRED

Ingredients

2 tablespoons water for sauteing

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup dried brown lentils

2-½ cups water

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds + 3 tablespoons water, blended in a food processor or blender for about 1 minute or until thick and gelatinous

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (Italian-style or plain)

2 teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon ground fennel seed

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste

¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Marinara sauce of your choosing

Directions

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat up the water in a large sauté pan, and add the onion. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for another minute.  

Add the lentils, water, and ½ teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. (If there is still some water left in the pot when the lentils have finished cooking, drain it in a strainer. If the water evaporates too quickly for the lentils to properly cook, add a bit more water.

When the lentils are done, place them in the bowl along with the flax seed mixture. Add in the bread crumbs and all the remaining ingredients except the parsley. Taste for salt, and add the remaining ½ teaspoon, if needed.

Mash the mixture with a potato masher or fork until the lentils are broken up and the mixture is sticky enough to hold together when rolled into balls. You want the mixture to be soft but not a paste.

Let the mixture sit covered in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes, up to 24 hours.

When ready to prepare, squish the mixture with your hands. The mixture should be quite wet and able to be formed into balls that will stay together when cooked. If it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it’s too dry, add a little water.

Taste, and add more salt or other seasoning, if desired.

Shape the lentil mixture into balls of your desired size. You can make them large like golf balls or smaller. To create uniform sizes, use a melon baller or small ice cream scoop.

Next, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the same large sauté pan you used to sauté the onions, or use a nonstick pan to brown the lentil balls. Turn your stove to medium heat. Brown the lentil balls on all sides. If using right away, add them to a large pot of marinara sauce. If not using right away, store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Serve with pasta and your favorite marinara sauce with fresh parsley sprinkled on top — or on a hearty roll with sauce and vegan cheese for a meatball sub!

For Your Information

The longer you leave the lentil balls in the marinara sauce, the more they’ll break down, which is still delicious — it becomes more of a “meat” sauce. However, if you’d like them to keep their shape, heat the sauce separately, and pour it onto the pasta and the lentil balls while everything is still hot.

For Your Modification

You can make a gluten-free version with a gluten-free flour of your choice or with rolled oats. Pulse rolled oats in a food processor until they are ground into a powder-like consistency. One cup of whole rolled oats yields the equivalent amount of oat flour.

Soy-free, wheat- and gluten-free (if using wheat-free flour)

The Animals Among Us

The wild animals who live among us are part of our communities; they’re residents and contributors — not outsiders or intruders. Our assault on them can be viewed as harbingers of our larger environmental destiny. If we can’t attend to the animals in our own backyards, the long-term chances for biological diversity in the rest of this world are bleak.⠀

Every animal whose space we share in our neighborhoods — from the diurnal deer (like Atticus here!), squirrels, bees, and birds to the nocturnal foxes, skunks, rats, raccoons, mountain lions, and opossums — face challenges that threaten their very survival every day: noisy leaf-blowers and unleashed dogs, speeding cars and light pollution, rampant habitat loss, and a human species so hostile to their existence we install non-native landscapes they can’t eat, delicious plants they love but are hindered from or punished for eating, and fences that inhibit their ability to travel freely to find food, water, or shelter. ⠀

Biological diversity is declining at alarming rates, and since the underlying cause is easy to identify (human behavior) the underlying solutions are equally apparent. ⠀

A few changes can make all the difference. We can:⠀

*Give plant-eaters a break. Newly planted trees and shrubs WILL be tested by hungry deer, but just keeping new plants protected for the first few years means they can withstand a little nibbling once they’re more mature. ⠀

*Stop poisoning rats. If not because there are more humane ways to deal with uninvited critters in our homes, then because rat poison hurts everyone in the food web. ⠀

*Create wildlife corridors to allow animals to move freely through our yards without risking the dangers of the road. ⠀
⠀⠀
Everything we do has an impact on something or someone else. It’s not that we CAN make a difference in this world. It’s that we DO make a difference. The question is: do we want that difference to be negative or positive?⠀

What are you doing today to make a positive difference?

Minestrone Soup with Kale {Recipe}

The addition of kale in this classic comfort soup makes it even better, certainly more nutritious, and definitely more colorful! PLUS, it’s vegan / plant-based / animal product-free!

The Italian word minestrone refers to a large, hearty soup. The soup itself is part of what is known in Italy as cucina povera — literally “poor kitchen,” referring to the necessity of creating dishes based on what was available and in season. As it has been passed down through the ages, there is no fixed recipe and lends itself to many variations.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil or water for sautéing
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
One 15-ounce can or equivalent fresh diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups white beans (Cannellini, Great Northern, navy)
1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
6 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 cup soup pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, etc.), cooked
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oil or water in a large soup pot over medium heat, and add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the onion turns translucent and the carrots glisten, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute or so, until the garlic begins to smell fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit.

Add the beans, kale, parsley, water, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the flavors are all incorporated.

Add the pasta, and stir to incorporate. Cook for 5 minutes more, tasting and adjusting the salt and pepper as needed, then remove from heat and serve.

What more fantastic vegan recipes? Have you checked out my cookbooks? 

The Joy of Vegan Baking 

The Vegan Table

Color Me Vegan

The 30Day Vegan Challenge

Yield: 6 servings

Oil-free if using water to sauté, soy-free

Vegan at Work: When Your Job Conflicts with Your Ethics

It’s one thing to opt out of eating animal products at home and in our personal lives, but what about adhering to our values in the trickier, grayer areas of our lives, such as in the workplace? What if you work for a software company and you’re put on a project to build a website for a fishing company? What if you work in a restaurant and have to serve meat? What if you work in a job that requires you to cook meat? These are real scenarios for many people, and the answer isn’t to “stop being vegan” because things are complicated. Take a listen to my thoughts in today’s episode of Food for Thought.

Masculinity and Meat: Re-Defining What Makes a “Real Man”

There is a prevailing myth in our culture, played out in our language and in marketing, that meat is masculine and plant foods are for wimps. Meat is a metaphor for strength, virility, and manliness, while vegetarianism/veganism is feminine, effeminate, and even emasculating. “Real Men Eat Meat” and “Tofu is Gay Meat” are just two examples of advertisements that perpetuate this myth and secure it in our consciousness. Studies show it’s working. Join me for a meaty episode that will shake you out of your vegetative state. If you don’t want to be a fruit, learn how you can be a beefcake.

Vegan Travel: Vietnam

Rich in history, sophisticated cuisine, stunning scenery, pulsating cities,  fascinating culture, Vietnam is consistently rated one of the top best countries to visit, and today I take you on a journey to this beautiful place. Today’s focus is food (plant-based, of course), animal protection, nature, and culture. I let you know what animal and conservation organizations to visit and support, what to avoid in terms of animal cruelty and exploitation, and how to make the most of your trip ? whether you go on your own or as part of a CPG Vegan Trip.

Rescued Bears in Vietnam: A Dream Visit!

You have heard me talk many times about Animals Asia and the work they do to protect bears bred, trapped, imprisoned, exploited by the bear bile industry. Bears are bred or taken from the wild and confined in cages no bigger than their bodies — or in huge shipping containers that are divided into individual windowless compartments. A catheter is inserted into their gall bladder (without anesthesia), and their bile is drained from their bodies and used in traditional Chinese medicine. (Animals Asia works to end the dog meat trade in Vietnam and China). 

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On our recent CPG Vegan Trip to Vietnam (and we’re running another in 2019), we had the honor of visiting Animals Asia’s Vietnam sanctuary, managed by the incredible Tuan Bendixsen and a dedicated staff, is spread over more than 27 beautiful acres at the edge of a nationally protected park, and everything they do is to stimulate the bears’ natural behaviors. There are pools, trees, and various structures that help with the rehabilitation of the bears and cubs.

Having been confiscated from wildlife traders and poachers, both adults and cubs are not only anxious and angry when they arrive, but they often suffer from ailments such as gall bladder damage, broken teeth from biting on bars, and other body conditions ranging from emaciation to obesity from being kept immobile and being fed a poor and inappropriate diet. They also suffer from PTSD and other psychological trauma.

The good news is that living among other rescued bears in a quiet, safe environment, they heal.  

The sanctuary has surgical facilities that are equipped to give the rescued bears the best possible chance of recovery, and we were given the opportunity to see one of the bears in surgery having a sore tooth extracted. 

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It has been my dream for 15 years to go and see the work of this amazing organization. As part of the CPG Trip to Vietnam, we were able to visit this sanctuary (and you can do so if you join us on a future trip!). 

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I hope you can join us on our next visit. If you can’t, please consider supporting Animals Asia (and follow their work via their mailing list and on social media).