Monday, March 22, 2010

Answer a Question and Maybe Win a Book! (And now candy bars!)

UPDATE! This may be the first time you're reading this post, but I already have a kick-ass update for you. The fine people at Go Max Go Foods have agreed (after I shamelessly asked them on Twitter) to kick in some candy bars to literally sweeten the deal! More info at the end of this post.

The time has come for a giveaway. I haven't given away anything for a couple years. And last time I did it, we all had a lot of fun.

This time around, the subject isn't going to be quite as light-hearted as eternal damnation.

But first, the prize: The Vegan Monologues by Ben Shaberman.

I'm going to be honest with you, I simply did not like this book at all.

First off, the title is misleading. Most of the essays have absolutely nothing to do with veganism. Taken individually, the essays collected in this book are OK. They're fine, but far from great. Toss them all together in one book though and one is left wondering, "Why?" Most of these essays have nothing to do with each other. The only continuity comes from the fact that they're all written by Ben Shaberman. That's about it.

Who knows, maybe you would like it. For you non-vegans out there, you might like that it's not really about veganism at all. For all you vegans, you probably would like that it's free and the word "vegan" is on the cover of the book.

So... I feel like I should add something to the prize. Sweeten the pot a little, ya know? How about this?

Naked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart.

I haven't even read this. Picked it up at a garage sale last summer for a dollar. I'm sure it's good, I just haven't had the time to read it.

Anyway, here are the questions:

For those who are vegan: Why are you vegan?

For those who aren't vegan: Why aren't you vegan?

And here are the rules:
1. Answer the question that applies to you in 25 to 100 words (or more if you must).

2. I want the comments on this blog to stand alone. I will refrain from starting a dialogue within the comments and I ask that all commenters do the same (just this once). I want every reader to feel free to answer their question without trepidation.

3. If you're reading this on Facebook, please click on "View Original Post" and comment on my actual blog. I really want all of the answers in one place for everyone (not just my Facebook friends) to read.

4. If you comment on this post without using a profile, please at least sign your first name (assuming you want to be entered into the giveaway).

5. If you comment, but have no desire to read the book, let me know and I won't enter your name into the giveaway.

6. The Piggy household has not budgeted for international shipping, but oh well. Giveaway is open to anyone anywhere (except for, maybe, the International Space Station ... I haven't checked rates to the ISS yet, but I assume they would be prohibitive).

7. The winner will be chosen at random by my daughter on April 1st (UPDATE: April 6th). I will probably post a video of the drawing. Should be fun. I'll notify the winner in the comments and (probably) in a new blog post.

So there you go. I look forward to reading all of your comments. This is a perfect opportunity to de-lurk, by the way. Come on lurkers, you know you want to answer. Come on.

And if you have a blog (or are on Facebook or Twitter or Chatroulette) and want to spread the word about the giveaway, by all means do that. Thanks!

UPDATE CONTINUED: So yeah, Go Max Go Foods totally rocks. The first time I took a bite of their Jokerz candy bar, which is a vegan version (and a damn close one at that) of Snickers, I nearly cried. I didn't go vegan because I didn't like the taste of candy bars, or hamburgers or cheese. In fact, I loved the taste of all those things. (In case you're wondering, I went vegan because I don't think that animals are ours to use.) So when I can get my hands on food that closely resembles something I cherished before going vegan over 7 years ago ... well, it almost makes me cry. Especially when it's a candy bar like Jokerz (and the rest of them are awesome, too).

So they're sending me three of each of these:

So the rules are changing a bit. Now Anna's going to pick three (3) winners at random. The first winner picked will get both of the books, plus four candy bars (one of each kind). The second and third winners will each get four candy bars (one of each kind).

It's been two years since I've had a giveaway. What can I say, I'm feeling generous.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Other People's Posts (and my thoughts on them)

Hey there. I read a lot of blogs. A lot of them, I'll share via Google Reader, but every so often I'll want to blog about them.

First off, my friend Celeste wrote a great post about her and her husband's attempt at redefining the meaning of "milk" with less than desirable consequences.

The first paragraph of the post:

Since our eldest was young we made a conscious decision to "take back" the word milk. After contemplating it, we thought it would be good to refute the common acceptance of cow's milk taking the all-encompassing title of "milk". While this seemed like a good idea, it turned out to be unhelpful for our son.

Now go read the rest of it and then come back here.

This is something I think most vegan parents have to deal with at some point (or many points). I know that we try our hardest to give foods names with modifiers in front of them. Milk is "soy milk", "chicken" burgers are "veggie patties", and cheese is "soy cheese". Anna's pretty good about asking people if something's vegan, and if they don't know what that means then she'll clarify, since she knows (as much as a 3 1/2 year old can know) what "vegan" means.

Last night at Early Childhood Family Education she asked her teacher if the freeze-dried peas they were having for snack had cow's milk in them.

And by the way, Anna does not hesitate or feel awkward in asking questions like this. It's all matter of fact with her. The teachers tell us that she never complains about not having the food other kids eat. There was even one time when someone brought cupcakes for their kid because it was their birthday and she didn't care about not eating them because she knew they weren't vegan. Her vegan upbringing is as mundane and ordinary as anything else in her life.

That may change as she gets older, of course. But it's not going to change because of Anna or Jen or me. It's going to change because of non-vegan kids and adults making her feel embarrassed and awkward and ashamed for asking if something is vegan. Do I worry about this? Sure I do. But I'm sure I don't worry about it any more than same-sex parents worry about their kid or interracial parents worry about their kid or... You get the point.

Our job as parents isn't to follow the status quo at all costs in order to ensure that our child has an upbringing free of teasing and being ostracized. Our job is to raise our children the best way we know how and to grow them into confident adults who do what they believe to be right regardless of how others may view them.


There's a new vegan parenting blog out there called Spawn Better. The blog, run by Jason Douchette of the Better Network, utilizes the experiences and opinions of a Council of Vegan Parents, which now has over 30 members (including yours truly).

Spawn Better's recent post titled Vegan children, meaty world: dealing with overlap, is a good sampling of what the blog has to offer.

Note: Spawn Better might seem boring or possibly even annoying to non-vegans. So, warning to non-vegans, this blog really isn't for you. Unless, of course, you're considering going vegan (come on, you know you've thought about it). If you want a window into the types of things vegan parents talk about amongst themselves, then go have a read.

One more post from Spawn Better. Veganizing Children's Songs features a video of Anna at the end. She's a star now.


Finally, the post Clarifying the Meaning of a Right by Gray Francione at Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach is definately worth a read. If you're perplexed and unsure of what we're talking about when we vegans argue for animal rights, this post spells it out as clearly as I think is possible.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Last Name

Nowatzki. That's my last name.

If you're a close reader of this blog, you may have come across my last name before (not that you'd remember or care). A couple of the things I've linked to in the past (the essay I read on Minnesota Public Radio and a story about blogging stay-at-home dads in the St. Paul Pioneer Press) have included my last name. But that's about it.

I've been reluctant to put my last name out there, for some reason. There's a vague notion about the need to maintain privacy that I've been clinging to and I'm not sure why. I suppose part of it has to do with the fact that this blog isn't just about me, it's about my family. It's one thing for me to make the choice to put my life out there for all to see, but to make that choice for my kids is ... another thing.

But parents make choices for their kids all the time.

I think another reason I haven't come out with my last name is that I've wanted to keep my personal life separate from my vegan activist life. This doesn't seem practical to me anymore, but it did when I started this blog.

These Little Piggies Had Tofu is my vegan activism. Sure, it's a blog about my family and not every post is about veganism, but the original intent of the blog (and one that I keep in mind every time I write a post) was to show that here's my vegan family and we're all healthy and happy and here are some things that we deal with and conversations we have as a result of being vegan.

So yes, Al Nowatzki. That's me. Google it, sure. You'll find my photography site, a neglected MySpace page, some crappy columns from my college newspaper days and some other stuff. Seriously, don't google me. It's mostly crap.

Anyway, I'm on Facebook and Twitter.

Here's me on Facebook:

Al Nowatzki

Create Your Badge

If you read this blog regularly then I'd love to be your friend on Facebook if you'll have me. Just add a short note to the friend request to let me know who you are.

And I'm on Twitter, too, as Al_Nowatzki. I don't tweet that much, but I could see that changing soon.

All of what you just read was meant to be a lead-in to an actual topic, but I think I'll just stop typing now and leave it at that.

Monday, March 1, 2010

When Are We Going To Die?

Just now, a conversation with Anna. Out of the blue she asks...

Anna: When are we going to die?

Me: We can't know when, but it will probably be a long time from now.

Anna: Do you know what day it's going to be on?

Me: It's going to be a long time from now, probably.

Anna: Yeah, we'll be old or we'll get hurt in the water and we'll sink and die like that mommy did in Ice Age.

On a related note, I just signed Anna up for her second round of swimming lessons.