Thursday, December 20, 2007

Peanut Butter Chocolate Balls

So we're leaving soon for North Dakota to visit family for Christmas. This means that I get to make peanut butter chocolate balls! I love sharing, but truth be told, I make them for selfish reasons. A lot of the goodies people put out at Christmas just aren't vegan. So here I come with a big tupperware container full of these puppies and problem solved.

Here's the recipe:

-1 jar peanut butter (the kind that separates)
-1 package of graham crackers (there are usually 3 packages per box, the Keebler original are the only vegan ones I can find)
-2 cups of powdered sugar
-1 stick of softened margarine (don't melt it, just soften it)
bunch of vegan chocolate chips (it may take a couple bags, depending on the chips)

-Crush graham crackers into almost a powder (I use a rolling pin)
-Combine graham crackers with the powdered sugar, peanut butter and margarine in a large bowl.
-Mix together with your clean hands (or a spoon) until everything is well combined and the color is consistent. The stuff shouldn't be sticky or gooey. If it is, add more crushed graham crackers.  Roll into balls about an inch in diameter. You'll probably have anywhere from 25 to 40 balls.
-Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. I use an old frying pan with some water in it and then put a sauce pan in the water. Put the chips in the sauce pan, turn the heat on low.
-Drop a ball in the fully melted chocolate. Use a couple spoons to coat the ball and then place it on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper (which is in turn laying on a cookie sheet or something else you can pick up and put in the fridge). Um ... repeat for each ball.
-Once they're all coated put them in the fridge and let them cool off for at least a couple hours. Yeah, just try to wait that long.
-Best if served directly from the fridge, since they can get a bit melty if sitting out too long. I hear using baking chocolate will take care of that problem, but I haven't tried it yet.

These freeze wonderfully.

I also made some peanut butter rice crispy bars for the second time in less than a week. The recipe for those can be found here . I didn't take any photos because, well, they're just rice crispy bars. And the photo on the page I just linked to looks pretty much how mine look.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

In the Loop

So, I didn't get to 50,000 words on the novel.

But I have a good excuse! I read an essay on Minnesota Public Radio's show In the Loop on Thursday.

The show is taped live, which means I got to read in front of a hundred-some people. I loved it. Reminded me of the stand-up comedy days of my youth.

I'm not going to tell you what the commentary is about though, you have to go here and listen (you need Quicktime, if you don't have it then you might be able to listen by downloading here). Or, if you use iTunes, you can download the podcast here.

I recommend you listen to the whole show, but if you really want to listen to my commentary it's somewhere in the middle.

But like I said, listen to the whole show. It's really good. And then when you're done and thinking about how much you enjoyed it, take the time to send MPR a quick note and let them know how great In the Loop is.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, Tinkerbell!

As I mentioned before, we started a new Thanksgiving tradition this year and "adopted" a Turkey. Here's the adoption certificate we received in the mail:

Tinkerbell is going to have a happy Thanksgiving just like the rest of us. Tinkerbell is not food. Tinkerbell is a Turkey with her own interests and we here in the Little Piggy household are happy to make her life better by donating a little money.

By the way, if you want to adopt a Turkey you can do it here.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Freakin' Sweet!

A voicemail of mine was played on the most recent Vegan Freaks podcast. I'm totally flattered (and freakin' famous!). If you want to listen to it, go here (unless you don't like profanity). And I'm not going to tell you when the voicemail is so you have to listen to the whole thing (which you should do anyway, because it's entertaining and informative and, hell, why not subscribe to it while you're at it?).

Anyway, I shamelessly left the address to this blog on the voicemail and, oops, it's November and I'm not really updating this month because I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month (and before you say, "So?", you try writing 50,000 words in thirty days ... that's what I thought ... now go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before you said, "So?").

All right, so because I feel like a lazy ass for not posting any original content on here in a couple weeks, here is an excerpt from the novel I'm writing. It's not actually part of the story yet, but it will be soon. I think the scene will be the main character and his wife and child will be driving out of the city and he will play a game I call Billboard Depression where he looks at the passing billboards and comes up with ways they are not vegan. And it will go ... a little something ... like this (oh, and there's some profanity in this as well because my main character swears a lot):

Burger King – meat, milk, eggs, one-stop-death-shop. Avenue Q musical – there’s probably meat back-stage at the production. Quest broadband ad with baseball guy Joe Maur – wearing a leather glove. Cabela’s – dead animals and things to kill animals with. Cub Grocery Stores – meat, dairy, eggs. AmericInn – probably have leather furniture. We Sell Hotels – the hotels likely have leather furniture in them. Grand Casino – oh, the buffet’s at casinos are chock-full of artery clogging crap. Crystal-pierz marine – leather seats. Sportsman’s warehouse – bows, bullets, guns, deer piss, camo, all of these things allow pencil-dicks to do what they claim is natural. Pulte Homes Realty – The homes that Pulte sell likely have glue in them. Discount Tire – animal products are used in the manufacture of tires. – my guess is the pills that quitplan gives people to stop smoking was researched on some other non-human animal. Coors Light – actually vegan, but Coors brews a few honey beers. Chris Vivea realtor – again, selling houses built with glue. Don’t Serve Alcohol to Teens – but think of the other crap parents give their kids. Key Cadillac – yeah, I’d like to key your Cadillac. Especially if you have leather seats. Health Partners – most modern medicine was tested on animals, some even have animal products in them, like egg in the flu shot. Farm Bureau For Life – want to learn how to build a more effective killing machine? Fairview Health Systems – I’ve been to a Fairview hospital. They had a fucking McDonalds in it. Blue steakhouse – me man, me eat meat, ugh. US bank – what companies does the bank invest in? Some of those companies thrive on the exploitation of animals. Minnesota Children’s Museum – my daughter loves this place. So far, I’ve been able to keep her away from the caged turtles. Becker furniture – selling uncomfortable sticky cow-skin furniture since 1958. Kenneth Cole – dead cow on your feet. Ultra Diamonds – you can’t just be vegan and ignore all the other injustices in this world. Diamonds are blood-ridden. Affordable Lakeshore Living – Let’s devastate every last square inch of shoreline in the Land of 2000 Lakes. Let’s make it the land of 2,000,000 lake homes. The Jungle Book on DVD – Wherein we are told that tigers have a natural hatred of man. So … animals are capable of hatred toward humans, but not of love toward each other? KFAN radio station – there is a KFAN restaurant in Roseville, MN wherein much meat is served. AT&T – there is a theory out there that posits that the recent large-scale die off of bees in North America is due to high cell phone usage. I don’t think this is a crack-pot conspiracy theory, but I could be wrong. Albertville Outlets – outlet stores including Nike, Old Navy and many other stores with questionable assembly worker standards and plenty of animal skin clothing. SA jumbo hot dogs – for when regular-sized pig asshole and cow eye just won’t be enough to fill up your graveyard stomach. T-Mobile – they sell dead cow covers for cell phones. Culvers – you won’t find a better crap-hole to stuff your face-orifice with the rotting, ground up flesh of cows and pigs and the twin cholesterol bombs of egg and dairy. Uptown eye care – chances are that they give away saline solution that was tested on animals. Abortion Stops a Beating Heart – right, and we don’t want to stop hearts from beating, do we? Petro2 – Buy our gas, pollute the environment, detroy nature. Ryan Auto – leather seats. Carhartt – leather boots. Becker home center – leather furniture. Perkins – we have pigs in a blanket, except the pigs are dead and the blanket is made with eggs and milk, taken from chickens and cows that lead lives of suffering and then are killed when they’re not longer “productive”. Moon Motorsports – sit on a leather seat while you tear through nature. Mcdonalds. Lund Boats – sit on our leather seats while you disturb the water and trick fish into biting a hook. Call it a sport, then you won’t look psychopathic. Gull Lake RV – leather seats. Saddle Tack – sit on a dead cow while you ride a horse that you have no business riding. Callan’s Furniture – glue, leather. Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center – we serve dead animals. Monticello RV Center – Fully air conditioned so your sweaty legs won’t stick to that dead cow flesh you’re sitting on. Fly STC Airport – and just try to get a vegan meal on one of our flights. Radisson – nothing says good morning like salty fried fatty pig flesh. Days Inn – nothing says good morning like the menstrual waste of a chicken. Eich Mazda – leather seats. Lundrigan’s Clothing – leather. MacDonald’s – you can trace America’s obesity problem back to our first resturaunt. AmericInn – the missing “a ” is for animal parts for breakfast! Holiday Gas Station – come on in and buy the day-old rat meat we pass off for hot dogs. Pilot Travel Center – do vegan truckers exist, and if so, where do they eat? Kelly Inn – leather furniture. Keith’s Kettle – judging from the size of the man on the billboard… Scheels – leather shoes made by children for peanuts. Clearwater Travel Plaza – there’s a Jesus fish on the billboard, but there isn’t much compassion on their restaurant menu. Gatr Trucks “Gatr done!” – leather seats. Travelodge – food. Busweiser – the beer is actually vegan, but they still own those Clydesdales. Probably bought them from a breeder. Miles Outland – selling recreational vehicles with leather seats. Shorewood RV – leather seats. Strack Commercial Construction – they use glue made from hoofs. Motel 6 – do they have continental breakfasts? If not, they probably have cream for the coffee that they probably have in their lobby. Crafts Direct – paintbrushes made from horse hair. Hennen’s Furniture – leather. Country Inn and Suites – meat for breakfast. Jim’s Snowmobile and Marine – ride on skin seats while you disturb habitat. Holiday Gas Stations – eat shit for breakfast! Literally! Dairy Queen – sure, she looks good straight out of high school, but all that cholesterol will catch up with her soon enough. Charlie’s CafĂ© – we actually ate there shortly after going vegan … big mistake. Dairy Queen – now serving meat, too! Boomerang Marine Sports – leather. Shell Gas Station with Subway and A&W inside – meat, meat and more meat. Real Dairy Country – ugh, this land is my land. Centra Sports – leather seats for your big ass. Country Inn and suites – meat, leather. Albany Family Restaurant – thank you Lord for making a sentient being live a live of suffering so that we can satisfy our taste buds, Amen. Farmfest – dammit. Albany Racing – yeehaa, don’t spill any pig juice on your cow skin! Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! – And while you’re at it, stop preying on aquatic creatures. Douglas Furniture – leather, glue. Dakota Magic Casino – buffet of death. Applewood Homes – glue. Glenwood State Bank – investing in companies that benefit from animal exploitation. Lutefisk – fucking gross. Burger King – remember, chicken wings are actually chicken’s wings. L Motel and RV Park – leather. Smiley Gasmart Delimax – did I read that right? What. Smiley Gasmart Delimax? It sounds like a nightmare rest-stop from the post-apocalyptic future. – we’ll help keep your cows alive as long as they are profitable for you. Lea’s Pet Products – serving animals we call “pets” the meat from animals we call “food”. Rudy’s Redeye Grill – blech. Westside liquor – serving non-vegan alcohol, made with gelatin and fish bladders. The Buck Stops Here – ad for bullets, what a clever ad, so witty. People don’t kill bucks, bullets kill bucks. Truckers Inn – featuring a menu from the bottom ring of hell, whatever ring that would be … the one where omnis are being kept in gestation crates. Chevy store Sauk Centre – leather. Coborns Food Evansville – meat. Central Marine and Sport – selling things to fish with. Carpet One – glue. Master Lumber – there’s probably glue involved in some of what they sell. Piano World – glue, and they don’t use ivory anymore, do they? Leather Plus – fuck you. Stubs Marine – fuck you too, Stub. Fat Daddy’s Bar and Grill – fuck you five time sideways, Fat Daddy. Triple P Auto – leather. Papa Murphys – pizzas of death! Dakota Magic Casino – buffet of death strikes again! Blairview Saddle Shop – what would people say if someone started selling saddles made from horses? And why? Doolittles American Grill – this land is your land. Scandinaivan Gift Shop – wool, probably some leather. Big Chief – so, so wrong. Prairie St Johns – they provide drug treatment and probably a lot of egg-filled doughnuts. Remember Our Defenders – almost all of whom ate meat, cheese and egg while defending my freedom to not eat those things and persuade every single person I know from joining the armed forces. Select Inn – food. Master Builders – glue. Space Aliens, “Fill Your Inner-Space” – with shit.


Ha! Congratulations if you made it through all that. Hmmm, I wonder if this will increase my google hits. Just think of all the people who will search for "Fat Daddy's Bar and Grill" - "vegan" and end up here?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pyramids of Doom!

Take a look at this. And I mean really look at it and digest what it's telling you.

If you want to view the chart at its original location, you can go here.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Interview With a Lifelong Vegan

Here's an interview with a lifelong vegan. It makes me very hopeful. Enjoy!

What makes me so happy is that in about 20 years, this won't be as big of a deal. This video will seem quaint. Each generation will see exponentially more and more lifelong vegans. I'm feeling very positive at the moment. Woot!

Oh, and for those of you who care, I've written over 5,500 words of my novel for National Novel Writing Month. I'm actually behind pace a little bit, but I'm confident I'll succeed.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Fall

Here are some recent photos of Anna. I'm not going to be updating the blog that much during the month of November, since I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, here are some photos to hold you over.

Anna stacked these by herself. She was pretty proud.

Photos from Mounds Park in Saint Paul, running down a hill and swinging (two things she loves to do):

And some from around the yard:

Yes, our daughter hugs trees.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


We had a hard time deciding what we would force Anna to be this Halloween. My first thought was vampire or zombie. We tried that out:

But we felt that Anna enjoyed dining on human flesh and blood just a little too much. And for those of you who are revolted by the thought of consuming human flesh and blood, I can assure you that the human we fed to Anna was raised under the best possible conditions. Little Timothy was fed a natural diet free of growth hormones and antibiotics and was allowed to leave his cage and go outside and play for sometimes up to a few hours per day! And he lived four happy years before he was shipped off to the slaughter house and took a bolt gun to the head (really, the most humane way to kill a human raised for meat). We're pretty sure the bolt gun was painless. So don't go getting your undies in a bunch. He lived a good life. We're compassionate people here in the Piggy household.

So we dropped the vamp/zombie idea and decided to go with Yoda instead.

A few seconds after this photo was taken she levitated that toy off the floor. The Force is strong with this one.

And here's Anna with the Jedi council.

Last week we met Jen's friends from the "mom and baby" class at the Mall of America. Anna got many compliments on her Yoda costume. We're convinced that this is why she now enjoys wearing the costume, as opposed to the crying she did when we put it on her the first couple times.

Anna has no idea who Spongebob Squarepants is, and we'd like to keep it that way for at least another year. But we thought it would be funny to take a photo of her with him anyway, since she may one day be a fan (which would be fine by me, I find the show absurdly hilarious at times).

Kinda hard to see from the photo, but she's grabbing his nose.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe and happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Veggie Nugget #9

"There is no reason to drink cow's milk at any time in your life. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon."

- Dr. Frank Oski, former director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Choosing Your Battles

Anna and I were at a playground this morning. We were the only ones there, since it's cold outside and everything was wet. I wiped down a swing with her snot-rag. She loves swinging.

These two boys (about 10 and 7) walked over to the jungle-gym part of the playground and the younger kid said he was going to slide down the big slide even though it's wet. To which the older kid responded, "Don't do it, you faggot."

I couldn't believe my ears. It's 2007! In Minnesota! After a few seconds I piped up, "Hey, what did you just say?" He glanced in my direction and then walked away. So I said, "That's not a good word to use. Ever."

Man, it really got me riled up. It may not seem like it from what I said. I mean, I could have said a lot more. But I usually keep to myself. I'm not too outspoken around people I don't know (unless you count the things I say on the internet).

So it got me thinking. I said what I said because I believe it's a moral issue and that I am in the right. Under no circumstances should a child be called that word. It is damaging both to the child and to the GLBT community as a whole. It's tantamount to a racial slur.

The root of my veganism is moral (not like "you're going to hell" moral, but more like "it's wrong to stab people" moral). I think it's immoral to treat animals the way they are treated. It doesn't have to happen. Humans can live just fine without the suffering of billions of sentient beings. So why did I scold this 10 year old kid when he dropped the f-bomb, but I don't run around chastising everyone I see who eats meat?

Because I'm a willing member of society. If I let my sub-conscious (and sometimes very conscious) internal monologue become an external dialogue every time I saw someone eating meat, milk, cheese, or eggs no one would listen to me. I'd have very few friends and very few family members that would ever want to talk to me.

The fact is, equal rights and equal treatment of people in the LGBT community is not too far away. Any decade now... But it's still "out there" to be vegan. Veganism will not be approaching the social norm for a looooong time (though I do honestly believe that some day it will, if we don't blow ourselves up first). And I definitely won't be helping veganism approach the social norm by causing a scene every time I see someone eating or wearing an animal. Also, if I did that, it would be pretty much all I ever do.

I'm still going to advocate for veganism. I'm going to answer questions honestly and at times I'll offer facts and figures even when they're not asked for. But I'm not going to scold a ten year old boy for eating string cheese.

I'm trying to find a way to end this post, but I can't seem to wrap it up. So I'll end with a completely unrelated link.

Go here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Price is Still Right

I just caught the tail-end of The Price is Right and I'm happy to report that Drew Carey is continuing Bob Barker's tradition of urging his viewers to control the pet population and have their pets spayed or neutered.

I wonder if it was in Drew's contract. Bob Barker is a vegan. I don't think Carey is a veg-anything, but I could be wrong. Doesn't matter, I guess. As all of us know, you don't have to be vegan in order to care about the animals we call pets.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Veggie Nugget #8

"I take vitamins daily, but just the bare essentials not what you'd call supplements. I try to stick to a vegan diet heavy on fruit, vegetables, tofu, and other soy products."

-Clint Eastwood

Friday, October 12, 2007

Forcing Beliefs

OK. So I'm going to try in the next few days to get those graphic photos further down on the page so my visitors don't have to keep seeing them over and over and over again (because I know all 3 of you obsessively visit this page on an hourly basis just aching for a new post).

I'm not going to do that good of a job though on this post, since it's just a link to another blog entry that I found particularly succinct. It is an answer to the question of whether or not vegan parents force their beliefs on their children.

Here it is. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Traditioooooooooon! Tradition!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And we all know what that means, right? Time to bow our heads and give thanks for all we have. Time to thank the good lord above (if that's your thing) for the food on our table.

Wait. What? There's a dead turkey on the table? We're thankful for this?

(In case you're wondering, this last photo was taken at a "free range" farm.)

Well, we here in the Little Piggy family have decided to start our own Thanksgiving tradition. We have adopted a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. It's only 20 dollars and it provides feed, bedding and vetrinary care for one lucky turkey.

In case you didn't click on the Farm Sanctuary link up there, here are a few snippets from their website to give you an idea of who they are and what they do:

Sorrowfully, animals raised on today's industrialized farms are treated like unfeeling commodities, and their basic needs are completely ignored. They are crowded in factory farm warehouses, and confined so tightly that they cannot walk, turn around or lie down comfortably. Farm animals are de-beaked, de-toed, tail-docked, confined, crowded, neglected and denied the very basics of life: fresh air, wholesome food, room to move and, most importantly, freedom - all for the sake of a profit margin.

Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 to combat the abuses of industrialized farming and to encourage a new awareness and understanding about "farm animals." At Farm Sanctuary, these animals are our friends, not our food.

It's nearly impossible to describe the exhilaration in the eyes of a rescued animal when he or she steps off a transport truck into an open field of green. After initial tentative steps, the new arrivals run for the very first time, savoring the earth beneath their feet and kicking up their heels with joy.

So I went online and picked out a Turkey from their adoption list and in a couple weeks I'll get an adoption packet with a photo of the bird and an adoption certificate. I'll be sure to post again once I receive the info.

So instead of my money supporting the industry that allows the gore and violence in the above photos it's going to support the turkeys who were saved from that hell. Turkeys like...

And these little buggers:
Don't they all look so happy and healthy? Now there's something to truly be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Veggie Nugget #7

From the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website:

There is no nutritional requirement for dairy products, and there are serious problems that can result from the proteins, sugar, fat, and contaminants in milk products. Therefore, the following recommendations are offered:

1. Breast-feeding is the preferred method of infant feeding. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, whole cow’s milk should not be given to infants under one year of age.
2. Parents should be alerted to the potential risks to their children from cow’s milk use.
3. Cow’s milk should not be required or recommended in government guidelines.
4. Government programs, such as school lunch programs and the WIC program, should be consistent with these recommendations.

For the PCRM's complete report on Milk, go here. And for a less clinical take, go here.

Children's Museum Again!

We took our second trip to the Minnesota Children's Museum last week. That place is just heaven for kids, and our little nugget is getting old enough to appreciate it. Here are some photos, of course.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Veggie Nugget #6

"I sit here and watch people eat steak and eat foie gras and do stupid shit all day long. I'm really not an angry vegan, but human beings are fucking rude."

-Russell Simmons

Are Mock Meats Too Real?

I found the following Q&A at this great faq site about vegnism. It does a great job of explaining why many vegans enjoy meat analogs. We have been feeding Anna a mostly whole foods diet with a little bit of processed veggie sausage or veggie chicken thrown in there intermittently. This Q&A is making me question whether we should be giving her any meat analogs. I'll explain after you read it.


Q. Are Mock Meats Too Real?

People often ask me why vegans eat mock meats. They say it doesn't make sense for us to eat fake burgers, turkey, and lunchmeats if our true intention is to avoid all animal products. I've even known some vegans who wouldn't touch certain brands of veggie burgers because they seem too "real." Personally, I enjoy these products. Should I feel guilty about eating them?

A. For the most part, processed meat products don't resemble animal body parts. By the time raw meat reaches consumers, most of it is skinned, boned, ground, chopped, sliced, or diced. Various cuts also may be formed into patties, loaves, roasts, links, and other assorted shapes. We recognize "hamburger" as "meat," even though it actually doesn't resemble anything specific. Consequently, we associate veggie burgers with hamburgers because they have a similar appearance (and sometimes a comparable texture and flavor), but neither looks like an animal's limb.

We live in a meat-centered culture and are surrounded by meat-eaters daily, despite our displeasure about it. Nearly all vegans grew up eating meat or living among meat-eaters, so meat in all its forms is customary and familiar. Animal flesh is a central feature of most holiday and social gatherings, and, healthful or not, many of us learned to fashion our meals around animal products. It is reasonable that people accustomed to this way of eating would want a painless replacement for meat when they become vegan. Having a cruelty-free alternative to meat can make vegan meal planning a snap, and it also can help ease the transition to an animal-free diet.

Nevertheless, mock meats are not solely for new vegans; long-time vegans and even nonvegetarians enjoy them as well. Tasty analogs are ideal for meat-loving family members and friends, as they are a food we can delight in and share. They are perfect for warm weather cookouts when nearly everyone wants something to grill, office picnics, parties, and other celebrations. When coworkers, friends, or relatives are eating burgers, we can indulge in a veggie version and not feel alienated. When people partake of foods that are comparable, even if they are not identical, there is a feeling of unity and camaraderie. Because these foods can be heated quickly, they are convenient for hectic lifestyles and people on the run. Students, teens, and busy parents find them to be a godsend when appetites are raging and time is in short supply.

An interesting detail about meat is that it hardly ever is relished plain. Meat-eaters generally douse it with tenderizers, gravies, sauces, herbs, spices, breading, and a variety of condiments. At the very least, it almost always is served with salt and pepper. Meat without these seasonings and treatments usually is bland and relatively unpalatable. When people say they crave meat, what they really long for are the flavor enhancements, the chewy texture, or a sense of fullness and satisfaction. All of these are replicated easily with pure plant foods in the form of mock meats.

The vast majority of people who become vegan or vegetarian do not alter their eating habits because they abhor the taste of meat. While they may find animal products objectionable for myriad reasons, typically this has more to do with how meat is produced, or its effect on human health or the environment, rather than an aversion to its flavor. No one should be ashamed about having enjoyed the taste of meat prior to becoming vegan. Generally, those of us who ate meat at some point in our lives liked it, and this notion isn't going to vanish simply because we choose to change our diet. Although we might feel that meat is repugnant on a spiritual, philosophical, or intellectual level, our palates have memory. We cannot erase a personal history of once having enjoyed the taste of meat, and our emotional attachment to it may endure.

There is no reason for vegans to avoid plant-based foods that simulate meat or other animal products. For many vegans, meat analogs fill a void. They also are handy, practical, comforting, and satisfying. Plant-based mock meats may be reminiscent of animal products, but the critical point is that they aren't meat.


So, do I want my daughter to have fake meat in her palate memory? If we feed her a meat analog at every meal it may make it easier for her to take that dreaded leap to real meat later on in life. If we abstain from feeding her meat analogs, then maybe she'll find anything meaty repugnant, including real meat. Of course, this would mean a pretty hefty shift in our diet, since my wife and I eat our fair share of meat analogs. I'm not sure I want to give those up. I have 23 years of meat memory in my palate!

This is why I need to buy this cookbook:

It's all about vegan cooking without meat substitutes. And I drool every time I read about it. Yum.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Anna's Travels

We went to North Dakota a couple weeks ago to see family. Here are some photos.

My dad has a couple gardens. They're both really big. Small fields, really. Anna loved running around amongst the veggies.

We went to Lake Superior's north shore last weekend with my sister, her husband and their three month old son.

My wife and I took turns carrying Anna on our back. She's a lot heavier than she looks. There was a point where I thought I was going to collapse. Believe it or not, that was actually before this photo was taken. It took all my energy to muster that smile.

Anna loved the rocky beach at Temperance Falls. She's a big fan of rocks. This place is a rock fan's heaven.

Some wildlife. Obviously they're pretty acclimated to humans, or I would never have been able to get so close.

Anna took a great interest in her little cousin this weekend.

Well that's it for now. Don't say I didn't warn you about there being a lot of photos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So it Begins...

Last night was the first night of Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE). It's a thing we do on Monday nights. Basically it's a way for Anna to interact with a whole bunch of kids, since she doesn't go to daycare. It's nice for us too, since the parents separate from the kids and talk about parenting.

For the first night of class the parents stayed with their kid(s) the whole time, just to get them used to the idea of being there in hopes that when we separate next week it won't turn into a meltdown.

At the end of playtime all the kids sit around a big table and have snacks and a sippy cup of water. My wife and I let all the teachers know ahead of time that Anna doesn't eat non-vegan things and they were all really cool about it. Basically what it came down to is she can have the Cheerios. That's about it. The Goldfish have cheese in them. The Bunny Grahams have honey in them. So Cheerios it is.

Anna loves Cheerios. In fact, I once used Cheerios as a vehicle for peas since she wouldn't eat the peas on their own. I called them Pearios.

Needless to say, they are one of her favorite things to eat. So we didn't think giving her just the Cheerios would be a problem and for the most part it wasn't. But she did look over at what the other kids were eating and we could tell she was wondering why she wasn't eating that. I mean, the Goldfish were the colored kind. Bright colors like purple and red and orange. How long will boring old brown Cheerios be able to contend with that?

Anna ate her Cheerios while my wife and I hovered and held our breath in hopes that she wouldn't demand the cute bunny and fish snacks. There was a point where the kid to her left was chowing down and somehow half of a Goldfish ended up close to Anna. I saw her eyeing it, but I didn't want to intervene. I guess I wanted to let her decide to not pick it up, instead of me deciding for her.

I do this quite a bit at home. She will stand in front of a plant and look at it and I know that she's contemplating pulling off a leaf or grabbing the stem and pulling the whole plant off the table. But I just let her stand there and let her work it out on her own and I only intervene if she actually grabs the plant. This hardly ever happens.

But she did pick up the half-goldfish and before I could get to her hands she had it in her mouth. End of the world? No. Do I regret not preemptively acting? Kinda. But I need to come to terms with the fact that these things will happen. In fact, they're going to happen quite often in Anna's early years, before she knows to ask if something is vegan before she eats it (and yes, things like this might happen even after she knows how to ask and even after we tell her that we don't eat non-vegan foods).

So what is a vegan parent to do? Sure, I need to come to terms with the fact that these things will happen, but that doesn't mean that I should just sit back and make no attempt to decrease the likelihood of these occurrences. I went shopping at Target after ECFE and as far as I can tell all of the Goldfish varieties have cheese in them. So bringing vegan Goldfish to class is out of the question. Also, I looked for Bunny Grahams without honey, and the kind that didn't have honey in them did have milk in them (except for the chocolate ones, and I don't think the teachers or parents would be too excited about giving kids chocolate at 7 at night). So I'm on the lookout for vegan bite-sized treats. If you have any ideas let me know.

Another option is to ask the teachers to keep a closer eye on Anna. We trust them to take care of our kids for an hour, why not trust them to monitor what goes in their mouths? I may have a one-to-one chat with the main teacher next Monday and ask her to just be more aware of the situation and to make a reasonable effort to keep the non-vegan foods out of my daughter's mouth.

The most extreme option would be to take Anna out of the class. This option is not on the table. I won't sacrifice my child's socialization for vegan purity. The best we can do is explain to her at every turn what we do and do not eat and why (age-appropriately, of course).

So it begins. The first in what I'm sure will be a long line of non-vegan things that end up in Anna's stomach.

Actually, now that I think of it, my wife told me that Anna ate a whole Goldfish a couple weeks ago at a play-date.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Veggie Nugget #5

"One farmer says to me, 'You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with;' and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying himself with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle."

~Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Anna in the City

Here are some photos of the little nugget. First of all, the hair. She had a bath the night before and went to bed with her hair a little wet. This was the result.

These were taken at "Uncle" Tony's condo in downtown Saint Paul. They have courts on the roof of the parking garage which meant plenty of space for Anna to run.

Tony also has a swimming pool. Anna is still pretty apprehensive when it comes to pools, but I figure if I splash around enough and show her that it's fun she should come around.

Either that, or she'll have a crippling fear of pools for the rest of her life.

We went to a concert in Mears Park in downtown Saint Paul on Thursday. Local musicians JoAnna James and Jeremy Messersmith each put on great shows. I love music in parks. Anna had a lot of fun too. I'll try to post some video of her dancing at the show in the near future. Here she's pointing at a skyscraper.

A couple weeks ago we went to the Children's' Museum. Anna loved it. I should have taken more photos, but I was too busy having a blast with my daughter. Anyway, here's one photo that I liked.