Stand Up For Yourself (Or, Creating Happiness at Work)

February 5, 2013 by

webevegan_standingdesk

As an artist, graphic designer, writer, and someone who slips into “the zone” and stays there all-day-what-happened-it’s-4pm-I’m-still-in-pajamas, I can easily be on my butt for eight hours at a time. I love what I do, but our human bodies are designed for far more than small finger-extensions. We are built for survival in the wilderness—for reaching, bending, picking, twisting, climbing, squatting, ducking, walking, and running (although, I know, who even wants to survive this Earth without Instagram?).

Some days I just don’t make it to dance class or yoga…and I end up feeling like a squished marshmallow walking on two toothpicks. With a sunburn from the computer screen.

But who doesn’t sit too much these days? Every freakin’ part of life runs through the computer, it’s crazy. I can’t take it anymore. So, inspired by friends who came before me, as well as a chiropractor’s advice, I did something to change.

I raised my desk. I am writing to you while standing, looking ever-so-slightly up at my monitor, my keyboard comfortably on a riser at my fingertips. Suddenly, I have a spine. My legs are moving, my core is engaged, my neck is long(er). You can do this too, don’t argue! It is an option, whether you work in an office or at home. Start a revolution where you work. Let me tell you, this is a life-changer. Now I take breaks to sit or even squat (easier in pajamas) instead of breaks to stand. At the end of the day, I feel all around solid—more carrot-like than marshmallow.

So go. Stand up and browse the heck out of Pinterest for “standing desk” ideas. Google automatic desk options, search for risers at office supply or home-organization stores (in the cabinet and closet areas), or build your own raised contraptions using boxes, cinderblocks, or inexpensive wood planks from a hardware store. I don’t need to list the benefits, you can imagine them—from your heart, spine, and neck, to your core strength, neurological systems, and fat-enzyme efficiency, your whole body will benefit from getting up offa’ that thing. Stand and deliver!

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Waste Not! Green Gift Guide

December 11, 2012 by

webevegan_hh

I am a wastophobe, which means December used to induce a Grinch-like symptom by which presents appeared to me as nothing but measured degrees of landfill potential. With this special neurosis, the delight of unwrapping a colorful, cozy scarf could easily be overwhelmed by the seconds-later guilt wrought by the pile of tissue paper, box, lid, wrapping paper, and god-forbid—ribbon—that it came in. Cantankerous, I know, but maybe you can relate. It’s an unfortunate consequence of eco-consciousness, especially because in our proselytizing, we wish, of course, only to convey that at all times being green is pure bliss.*

But! It’s fun to give. So I’ve changed. Now I simple seek gifts that may save lives, that keep on giving, or that can be used up, eaten up, recycled, or require no shipping or wrapping at all. And if one does, you can bet it’s coming from me in a brown grocery bag-turned-wrapping-paper diddy, tied with threads of rattan, topped with a bougainvillea flower from my yard. Besides being bio-degradable, it is actually very pretty. Even I would like it.

So here are some green, animal/planet/health-conscious gift ideas that won’t end up in landfills, but rather do some good. Enjoy giving. Happy holidays!

1. “Adopt” an animal, $10 and up
Sponsor a rescued farm animal or even an elephant (lunches and medical kits available, too) from a reputable organization in a friend or family member’s name. This is so great for kids! The recipient receives an email, picture, or other sweet note, and you make two animals happy—the adoptee and your loved one.

2. Yoga Passport Card, $30
I can’t think of anyone who couldn’t benefit from a good yoga class. This gift certificate allows the recipient to try yoga classes at multiple participating studios in their neck of the woods. Or for the more ambivalent friend who might only attend one class and never go back, just Google “yoga + zip code” to find a local studio near them and a single-class gift certificate.

3. Longevity Warehouse Gift Card, $25
Encourage superfood ingestion! Get a gift card or pick out products at the Longevity Warehouse—raw cacao, medicinal mushrooms, and tons of other superfoods and super herbs from the highest-quality source you can trust. Check out the immensely-popular Immortal Machine drink mix—a blend of non-GMO vegan superfoods and herbs that tastes like a chocolately Yoo-hoo! Riiiidiiiiculously good…kids love it!

4. Natural Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About, $1 and up
Kevin Trudeau’s best-selling book is a great buy for your friends who are doubtful about alternative health and healing. Geared toward the mainstream, this mind-boggling book is filled with simple lists and enumerated explanations that make it an easy read.

5. Food Matters Online Screening, $4.95
A must-see documentary you can watch online—accessible and captivating. Food Matters uncovers the “sickness industry,”  providing viewers scientifically verifiable solutions for overcoming illness naturally. Features interviews with key world leaders in nutrition and natural healing who discuss how the right kind of foods, supplements, and detoxification can be used to heal chronic illnesses.

6.  Forks Over Knives DVD, $19.99
Forks over Knives examines how degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The film focuses on the the personal journeys and work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

7. Earthlings DVD or pack, $17.50 and up
This documentary is a must-have in any vegan’s lending library. Buy a single DVD or a pack as a gift to other activists to have on hand for the veg-curious people they come across time and time again. Viewer discretion advised.

8. The 30-Day Vegan Challenge with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
A multimedia online program featuring premium written, audio, and video content to give recipients the support they need on their journey towards optimal wellness and compassion. Click “The Perfect Gift” button to purchase the program as a gift subscription for special recipients.

9. DIY Recipes
Look up recipes for homemade vegan or raw granolas, jams, pies, cookies, brownies, kombuchas, etc. If you have an herb garden, dry some out, blend, and pack as gifts for spice racks or teas. You can buy fillable tea bags or simple glass jars from your local kitchen supply store (if you’re at a loss, there’s always Cost Plus, the Container Store, Sur La Table, Crate and Barrel, etc). Wrap the jars with rattan ribbon or string and tuck in some flowers.

10. Essential oils and non-toxic body care
Introduce your friends to the wonderful world of non-toxic and cruelty-free body care products—share your favorite body oils, cremes, botanical perfumes, moisturizers, etc. A tiny glass bottle of treasured oil provides a loved one some aromatherapy for everyday well-being or for stress, migraines, and pick-me-up dabs of energy when needed. Encourage the recipient to keep a vile in a purse, on a desk, or bedside for spontaneous use. Heavenly! Check out some of the best:
Persephenie: Hand-made botanical oils, body care, and perfumes. Sample bags are very affordable. Rose Paka creme is to die for.
Living Libations: Everything is amazing. Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn is my favorite for dewy moisturizing and/or makeup removal.

11. Mushrooms in a Box Kit, $19.95
Founded by two college kids who bucked corporate America in favor of mycology, Back to the Roots is a growing company that recycles coffee grinds as a base for DIY mushroom-growing kits. These guys will send you a self-contained box that will grow up to 1.5 lbs of gourmet oyster mushrooms! All you have to do is mist! SO great for kids—it’s hard to resist tasting something you’ve grown yourself!

12. Organic heirloom superfood seeds, $5 and up
With their mission to “replant paradise on Earth,” how can you not love Blackbird Naturals? Gift someone an incredible variety of superfood and immunity food seeds to plant in their gardens—they’ll reap the rewards all year long.

13. DIY Kombucha kit, $50
There’s no wrong in enabling a Kombucha addict. This everything-you-need kombucha tea kit will pay for itself in no time—especially if you live so close to your friend that you can make them share their batches.

14. Good news, $20 (buy 1 subscription, get 1 free!)
Tired of bad news? Subscribe to YES! Magazine and get international good news you won’t hear in the media. Non-profit, independent, and subscriber-supported, YES! Mag delivers powerful ideas and practical actions to your door (on 100% post-consumer waste, chlorine-free paper, no less)! Imagine that? The world is looking better already.

15. A Scent of Scandal candles, $15
Get your friends to think of the bees by gifting them an alternative to beeswax candles. These beautifully scented candles are made of soy wax, how cool?

*To preempt the “See?-Even-you-think-being-green-sucks” comments, I wish to say that at this moment I am enjoying the sight of a hilarious squirrel outside my window while sipping a cold-pressed organic green juice and having the best time ever.

#JustSayin

December 10, 2012 by

They should stock tampons next to this section at Trader Joe’s, no? #govegan

Occupy Your Mouth: A Letter to Californians

November 7, 2012 by

The bad news is…after a lot of grueling work, we narrowly lost CA’s Prop 37 to label genetically modified foods. It may have been the easiest chance we’ll ever have had in our lifetimes to deal a blow so large to Monsanto and the agri-chem giants. Their endless budgets, government ties,  and routinely-employed top lobbying firms are notoriously impossible to touch. What happened?

  1. The largest chemical companies on the planet put $45 million of pocket change into the anti-37 campaign to keep their GMOs a secret—against the $6 million we raised.
  2. The No on 37 campaign committed act after act of fraudulent, unlawful advertising, voter manipulation, and impersonation. And of course, there were questionable ballot mishaps.
  3. Most people will buy hot shit off the sidewalk if it’s marketed right. Voters were spoonfed an opinion and ate up every steamy bite.
  4. Most every media host I heard that briefly mentioned 37—both right and left—gave more air to opposition claims than to the Prop’s facts.
  5. People don’t read. The information on the sample ballot and on http://www.Yeson37.org was simple and clear.
  6. People don’t vote. Voters are still a minority amongst America’s 300 million people.

While we are sickened by the results, as activists, we’ve got to keep it moving (though it took a yoga class and a lot of breathing this morning to even begin to feel that way). See, Justin and I weren’t fighting for information we need ourselves—we already know what we’re eating. We were fighting for info we believe everyone has a right to know. But if people don’t want free knowledge, then let them eat GMO cake and suffer the very real and inevitable consequences. We’re moving forward. Who’s with us?

We’re ever-committed to getting GMOs labeled. But we’re ever-more committed to rewarding the tried-and-truly committed: non-GMO/organic farmers, restaurants, food and product manufacturers. The next best move is to focus on voluntary “NON-GMO” labeling for companies who supported 37, rather than trying to get non-supporters to comply with a “GMO” label.

Monsanto can stop our Prop, but they can’t stop our purchases. So vote with your dollars. Occupy your mouth.

To continue supporting the movement, visit www.CaRightToKnow.org

YES ON CA PROP 37: A NATIONAL ISSUE

November 1, 2012 by
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Next Tuesday, California may become the first U.S. state to require the labeling of genetically modified food (GMOs). Such a win will likely set into motion the precedent for a new national standard—a standard which over 60 countries worldwide have already adopted. Unsurprisingly, the opposition, made entirely of giant pesticide/chemical corporations and no individuals—is campaigning aggressively, and even fraudulently, to keep GMOs a secret.  DON’T BE HUSTLED. VOTE YES ON CA PROP 37—OR CALL YOUR CALIFORNIA FRIENDS AND MAKE SURE THEY VOTE YES NEXT TUESDAY.

YES ON 37 MERELY:
-requires the labeling of GMO food, i.e.: “This product may contain GMO ingredients.”
-bans the word “natural” as a marketing tool on GMO foods.”Natural” has no legal or industrial definition. Stamping “natural” on everything from frosted corn flakes to processed meats and shampoo allows biotech companies, cosmetic companies, and food processors to manipulate consumers psychologically and financially.

WHY VOTE YES ON 37?
•Put on the ballot by an individual concerned citizen.
•Over 60 countries worldwide require GMO labeling, including Europe, China, Japan, and India.
•The largest agri-chemical companies have spent over $40 million to stop Prop 37 and keep GMOs secret—the same bio-tech/pharmaceutical companies that formulated agent orange and DDT (which were declared “tested and safe” before use).
•Genetically modified fruits and vegetables produce their own internal insecticides which destroy the nervous systems of bugs, birds, and bees.
•Pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides are environmental hazards worldwide.
•No long-term, comprehensive studies on human consumption of GMO foods has ever been completed.
•Cases of autism, organ toxicity, IBS, allergies, and more have skyrocketed since GMOs were quietly introduced into our food systems.
•Ads by opposition are being bankrolled by the world’s six largest pesticide companies to the tune of $1 million per day.

DEBUNKING THE OPPOSITION:
Myth: “Food prices will go up.”

Adding a line of text to a label does notincrease food prices. Labels are constantly being modified and re-ordered. YES ON 37 gives companies ample time to transition.

Myth: “Encourages lawsuits against food manufacturers.”
There are no “bounty hunter” provisions in Prop 37, and there is no incentive for filing lawsuits. Food manufacturers and grocers will comply with the law and label their products – as they do for calories and other ingredients.

Fact: No on 37 campaign may face criminal charges.
Potential criminal charges are being brought against the No on 37 campaign. The campaign has committed act after act of fraudulent advertising and manipulation. No on 37’s ad campaign was exposed as dishonest from the outset, when it falsely identified spokesman Henry Miller as a doctor at Stanford (he is actually a researcher of pharmaceutical development and biotechnology at the Hoover Institution) and used images of Stanford in violation of university policy. The ad has since reappeared.

Read more at the Daily Kos. For more info, to donate, or help phone bank and volunteer: www.CaRightToKnow.com

Politics and Scrambled Abortions: A Vegan Call to Pro-Lifers

October 12, 2012 by

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After watching the Vice-Presidental debates last night, I insist that the pro-life demographic—those who would vote to impose their beliefs on the entire nation—go vegan on principle so that their eating habits fully align with, rather than contradict, their morals and values.

Otherwise, for example, when Paul Ryan states that Life Begins At Conception in order to justify his Right to Life stance, it only triggers my imagining of him consuming a daily breakfast of remnant bodies—scrambled fetuses and strips of pigs’ loins, if you will—who not only had no right to life, but who were systematically brought onto Earth for the sole purpose of their end (that’s 10 billion “aborted” lives—conscious ones, no less, per year in the U.S. alone).

Now, as the majority of the vegan population is made up of liberals, and as the majority of liberals are pro-choice, we vegans are often called hypocrites for this contradiction in our own politics and eating habits. We are often accused of “loving animals and hating humans.” Here’s what I say, speaking for myself, of course:

I am both pro-life and pro-choice. Due to both diligence and neuroses, I’ve never had to consider abortion, thank God/Jesus/Buddha/Moses/etc. I personally find abortion gruesome, but feel that a woman’s choice is inarguably a right that requires protection. I felt, when pro-lifers protested at my uber-liberal UC Santa Cruz campus—dead fetus photos and all, secretly glad. I think all young men and women should know the reality of the procedure as much they should know what happens at factory farms. I feel sex-ed classes should emphasize that abortion is not to be used as regular birth control. And, I feel, most every day, that meat should be banned for the very real and mass destruction it causes. But hypothetically, I would not vote to shove this belief down someone else’s throat. My work is rather to educate people so that they themselves might stop shoving things down their own throats.

People should inform public policy, not the other way around. That is democracy, that is politics, and that is why I am vegan—for the lifestyle’s power on the public realm, with or without legislation. And that’s the great thing about how Roe v. Wade stands now: all sides may continue to publicly exercise their beliefs.

As for the question of abortion in last night’s debate, and Paul Ryan’s response—“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith”— I must say that I think his answer disqualifies him as a VP and potential Presidential candidate. We citizens should exercise our political passions publicly, but a politician, ideally, is hired to stand in an entirely different position. I’ll refer to the words of David Mamet, who wrote the following in an old essay titled “A Speech for Michael Dukakis” (it is the imaginary speech he wished Presidential candidate Dukakis would have given during his first TV debate with George Bush in 1988):

A lot of mystery and ceremony has become associated with the job of President…But the job was designed, and the job should be, to preside, to preside over legitimately opposed factions in such a way as to represent the interests of the people as a whole...I believe that the job of Chief Executive should be performed, and is performed best, by a man who is not a zealot; who refers his decisions to the rule of Law, always in the knowledge that he was elected not to enact his own whims, his own “passions,” but to represent his constituents; and to put the rule of law, and the will of the People as expressed in Law, above his own will.

Whatever your political leanings, I hope you will go to the ballots next month and voice your position. No matter what anyone says, your vote still counts—at least as long as the other side is still voting, too.

White Peach Icee

September 30, 2012 by

It’s still summer in L.A.. While the 90º+  heat continues, here’s a fun way to stay cool:

Blend 1 white peach with a tiny bit of water or coconut water. Pour into ice trays and let freeze before re-blending.

 

 

Chicken of the Woods

September 25, 2012 by

When a seasonal mushroom can make you happy, life is fun. This is the Chicken of the Woods mushroom, AKA “Laetiporus sulphureus” (note: Maitake “Hen of the Woods” is something else, also awesome). COTW pulls apart just like white meat—so similar in texture that Justin thought he was being punked when I handed him a bowl of steaming Chicken-of-the-woods-noodle-soup last year:

This year, I tried a new recipe:

Lemony-Herb Chicken of the Woods:
-Briskly rinse or brush off the mushrooms with a damp towel.
-For the marinade: blend together olive oil, lemon juice, Braggs or sea salt, rosemary, thyme and 1 garlic clove.
-In a shallow glass pan, drench the COTW “steaks” with the marinade and let sit overnight in the fridge.
-Grill or place pan in the oven at 350° for 20-30 min until cooked through (placing the shrooms on your toaster oven’s rack works fine, too).

Unfortunately, this shroom seems scarce. To find them in your area, I suggest contacting your local mycology experts through the many mushroom clubs worldwide (I’m SO becoming a super-geek member!):

Myko Web
North American Mycology
Mushroom the Journal

And remember, leading plant-based authorities like Dr. Fuhrman and David Wolfe  increasingly recommend mushrooms as a staple in our diets for their nutrient-density and ultimate health-promoting properties. There are so many incredible mushrooms to explore and experiment with in recipes and as supplements—which ones are your favorites?

Voting or Veganism?

September 10, 2012 by

Man, America! We are a jaded bunch! The feeling in the air is thick, especially after the 2012 party conventions.

Polls show that the motivated voters who turned out in record numbers in 2008 aren’t even sure they’re voting this time, let alone who they’d vote for. The tremendous buzz of 2008’s “Hope” and “Change” has dwindled—first down to a hope for change and then just a change in hope altogether. Bring up Obama and Romney and you’re bound hear responses like the (actual) quotes we’ve collected in the last few days:

“What’s the difference?”
“Puppet on the left or puppet on the right?”
“Douche bag or shit sandwich?”
“Both parties are controlled by the New World Order, so it doesn’t really matter who gets in.”

To me, this tepid glass of almond milk still looks half full. The negative public responses confirm that people have been doing their homework. The atmosphere of resistance proves the democratization of information in our era. Streaming live at the tip of everyone’s fingers is access to unreported news, underground information, alternative health remedies, and exposés on our most powerful industries and decision-makers. The John Robbins-Michael Moore-Enron-9/11-InfoWars-Monsanto-bailout era has caused truth-seekers to dig deep and share widely.

With the mass-use of technology, we all know something about marketing now. In an age where it’s obvious when politicians are bought and sold and only giving us a sanitized, polished, PR-spun version of the truth—or straight up lying through their teeth—it’s crucial to wield our political power in the most effective ways possible. I believe the voting booth is still powerful—at the very least in sending the message that the masses of us are still alive and kicking. Even if they shred our ballots, they’ll still know we showed up to be contended with.

But better than the voting booth, I believe that going vegan is the most effective and powerful tool of our time.

Regardless of our elected officials, there are 7 billion people on Earth making choices every second. We can choose to pressure, starve out, or bolster local and global economies through our habits, practices, and dollars. Veganism is inherently tied to issues of animals, health, chronic disease and healthcare, water supplies, GMOs and biotech, global food distribution and world hunger, the environment, land, sea, and air degradation, climate change, natural disasters, energy and war, immigration, labor, and workers’ rights, womens’ rights and feminism, racism and classism, outsourcing…the list goes on. No meal, no purchase is neutral. By making vegan choices, we can reach every major industry and every corner of the earth.

So. DO vote at the booth in the 2012 Elections. DO occupy politics. But even more importantly, occupy your mouth. Go vegan.

Judge Calls L.A. Zookeepers “Delusional”—Then Balks. Ugh.

August 2, 2012 by

In his concluding remarks in his evaluation of the L.A. Zoo’s “Elephants of Asia” exhibit, Judge John L. Segal wrote: “The evidence at trial shows that the three elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo are emotionally and socially deprived.” After consulting experts, he acknowledged that the elephants are “stressed, frustrated, unanimated, and unhappy, and that the zoo is not meeting [their] needs.” He called the zoo employees “delusional,” acknowledged their history of abuse, caught them telling lies, and questioned whether they will even follow his court orders to discontinue the use of bull hooks. Full articles on the ruling here and here.

BUT. After his scathing review, Segal stopped short of shutting down the exhibit, as called for in the suit, because the situation was “not cruel beyond the ‘ordinary’ circumstance of captivity,” he said.

WTF? Infuriating doesn’t come close to properly describing this failure. What would have to happen—that has not already happened—in order to be considered “abnormally” cruel? (Versus “normally” cruel, of course.) Is this lashing fake? Is it just a slap on the wrist to placate the public so business can continue as usual? Would it shock you? Judge Segal has been under fire for alleged corruption and deprivation of rights in his courtroom before.

By the way, this abusive, useless exhibit, funded by L.A. city council, cost tax-payers $42 million (excuse my language) fucking dollars. Meanwhile, the L.A. Unified School District has a $400 million budget deficit for the 2012-13 year, which caused massive recent layoffs and will result in classrooms with roughly 44 students per teacher next year. The elephant money alone could have provided salaries for over 900 teachers who would have been educating about 30 kids per class, 5 classes per day. I know funding is complicated and I’m no economics wizard, but this seems one of a million ways the money could have been better invested.

This is not the end of the story. Plaintiff Aaron Leider, who initiated the lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers (thank you!), and attorney David Casselman, who has worked pro bono on this case for five years (bless his soul!), both hope that Segal’s orders for the exercising of the elephants, the roto-tilling of the soil, and the discontinuation of bull hooks—however superficial it may turn out to be—will cause the public to heed the zoo’s lies and failures and in turn put pressure on city council to ultimately shut down the exhibit.

SO HERE’S WHAT TO DO:
•If you live in L.A., In Defense of Animals makes it easy. Use this form.
•If you’re outside of L.A., you can use IDA’s text in the form above and email it to our mayor and every city council member, addresses below:
mayor@lacity.org or (213) 978-0600 or (213) 978-0721
councilmember.reyes@lacity.org
councilmember.Krekorian@lacity.org
councilmember.zine@lacity.org
councilmember.labonge@lacity.org
paul.koretz@lacity.org
councilmember.cardenas@lacity.org
councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org
councilmember.parks@lacity.org
jan.perry@lacity.org
councilmember.wesson@lacity.org
councilman.rosendahl@lacity.org
councilman.englander@lacity.org
councilman.garcetti@lacity.org
councilman.huizar@lacity.org
councilman.buscaino@lacity.org
And if you’re really feeling ballsy, here’s Judge John L. Segal’s phone number.


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