Monday, May 26, 2014

Some Recreational Reading, Sci Fi Edition

Photo via

My husband I were talking about extra-terrestrial intelligence, and I wondered aloud why we put so much effort into looking as far as human and technologically possible for signs of intelligent life, while we hesitate to acknowledge that the animals we share the Earth with are intelligent and sensitive creatures.  I have actually had conversations with philosophy professors about whether or not my dog has feelings (duh! PS it's been proven)!   
Anyway, I have often heard joke, "If G_d didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?" Well, here's a fictional account of an alien discussion about.... us!  My husband read it a long time ago and thought it was appropriate to the topic, it could explain why we have get to get a response from any of the signals we've been sending out into the universe.  
"They're made out of meat."
"Meat. They're made out of meat."
"There's no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They're completely meat."
"That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?"
"They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The signals come from machines."
"So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."
"They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines."
"That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat."
"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they're made out of meat."
"Maybe they're like the orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage."
"Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn't take long. Do you have any idea what's the life span of meat?"
"Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside."
"Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through."
"No brain?"
"Oh, there's a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of meat! That's what I've been trying to tell you."
"So ... what does the thinking?"
"You're not understanding, are you? You're refusing to deal with what I'm telling you. The brain does the thinking. The meat."
"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"
"Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal!  Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?"
"Omigod. You're serious then. They're made out of meat."
"Thank you. Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they've been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years."
"Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?"
"First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual."
"We're supposed to talk to meat."
"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello. Anyone out there. Anybody home.' That sort of thing."
"They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"
"Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."
"I thought you just told me they used radio."
"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."
"Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?"
"Officially or unofficially?"
"Officially, we are required to contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe, without prejudice, fear or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing."
"I was hoping you would say that."
"It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?"
"I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say? 'Hello, meat. How's it going?' But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?"
"Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can't live on them. And being meat, they can only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact."
"So we just pretend there's no one home in the Universe."
"That's it."
"Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you probed? You're sure they won't remember?"
"They'll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them."
"A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat's dream."
"And we marked the entire sector unoccupied."
"Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?"
"Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again."
"They always come around."
"And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the Universe would be if one were all alone ..."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Delta gets a "B"

Just got back from a cross country trip flying Delta, and I have to say, I was somewhat impressed with Delta.  It's not like vegan wonderland in the air or anything, but I definitely felt like they made some effort to accommodate vegans.

First of all, the best thing about Delta is those Biscoff Cookies.  I wrote about the Biscoff spread before, so I assumed the cookies are vegan, and their website confirms, "Does Biscoff contain any animal products? Original Biscoff Cookies and Biscoff Spread are both vegan and do not contain any animal products." (Their "Biscoff with Chocolate is not vegan and contains milk," but they don't serve those on the plane.) I like it when when they come out and say the V-word, vegan, instead of just saying "No eggs or dairy" and then you wonder is there something else I should be concerned about?

In regards to other food available, there was really only one option on their menu of food available for purchase, but I give Delta a lot of credit because their options were clearly labeled (above) which I appreciate. So I bought that one item, Mrs. May's Cran Blueberry Crunch, and it was great!  I meant to have a little, and then save the rest for later but I ended up eating the whole bag in one go.  It's a great snack, and it's nice that it is so travel friendly- had I been able to restrain myself, I could have re-sealed the bag and kept crumbs from getting sprinkled throughout my backpack.  I just emailed the Mrs. May's to ask what other vegan products they offer, because I would definitely try their other snacks!

Update from Mrs. May's: "All our products are vegan besides our Rounds line."

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Some things I learned at the Vegan Meetup

There was a ton of food at the vegan meetup - the food was delicious (pakora and lentils were my fave) and almost everyone at the table had seconds (why did I snack beforehand?!), but most nourishing of all was the FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!!

I've been processing the experience over the past few days, and here are some things I didn't fully realize before the event.  I guess I had sort of heard about these things in the past, but our enlightening conversation made the following points very clear to me:

1) Vegans amongst us!  I don't know what I was expecting - maybe a restaurant full of 20-something pale emaciated hippies/hipsters wearing shirts that say "I'm VEGAN."  I came in the restaurant and saw there was a big communal table set up with some people seated already, and I was really unsure if that was the vegan group because they all looked really, really normal.  Like a sample of people you see on the subway during rush hour- just regular folk from all walks of life getting on with their lives.  I thought vegans were these rare diamonds in the rough, but the truth is there are probably more vegans out there than I realize because you can't wear a t-shirt that says "I'm VEGAN" every day.  Of the people at the meetup, I would never have guessed that any of them were vegan just by looking at them. I guess it's like when you discover someone you've known for a while and assumed is American is actually Canadian, or on the show Battlestar Galactica (above) who is a cylon!.  Which brings me to....

2) Vegans are diverse! The group definitely was very diverse across age, race, gender, religion, profession, body type, local, visitor... as mentioned before, the kind of diversity that you see when you ride the subway in NYC (which is a big part of why I love living in NYC).  I guess the answer to the question, "What does a vegan look like?" is "Anyone who wants to be a vegan!" Because all these people from different backgrounds all have come to the same conclusion - Vegan is the way to go.  That's very heartwarming that being vegan is something universal that can bring folks together!  

3) Diversity among Vegans  - I'm talking about why these people chose to be vegan, when they decided to change their lives, and how and what they eat.  I guess the only thing they have in common is what they don't eat (animal products).

Why (some people do it for multiple reasons, some people did it for a single reasons and just get added benefits):
  • Health Vegans
  • Animal lover Vegans
  • Eco Vegans
When (how long people have been vegan):
  • Longtime
  • New
  • Future (Wannabegans!)
What vegans actually eat
  • Vegan junk food (often the animal lover vegans)
  • Organic/raw/high carb fresh fruits and vegetables (often the health vegans)
  • Fancy vegan versions of animal dishes
  • Normal stuff, just minus the animal products
  • Strict vegans / Vegetarian mostly vegans 
  • Raised vegan or in vegan community / Stand-alone vegans (first vegan in family/community)
  • Activist vegans / quiet vegans
Anyway, if you are looking for a place to be vegan and fit in, I assure you you will fit in! Take a look at the group ("Welcome Vegans and Aspiring Vegans!") and see if there is an event coming up you can join!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

So Invogorated!

Just a quick note to say that my husband and I just got back from the NYC Vegan meetup at Ayurveda Cafe (on the Upper West Side, not the East side like I thought before I actually looked at a map!), and it was totally amazing!  The food was really great and I absolutely stuffed myself, but the company was really what made it special and has me all excited.

We sat at a smaller table with three super awesome vegans that I'm hoping I can profile for you here.  I'm going to think up some questions for them, and post their responses here!

Pants Up @ the Pop Up! May 5 - 11, Chelsea Market

My home is not totally vegan.  One of the things I've been meaning to donate to Salvation Army and replace is my husband's leather belt. He only has one belt, it still functions, and he wears it every day, so I have to find a replacement before I can get rid of it.  

I think I found it!  Yesterday I was walking through Chelsea Market, where they have an "ID Pop Shop Independent Designers Sale" (lots of really cool unique stuff there, I don't know why people who visit NY from around the world bother shopping at the big mutli-national chains because that stuff is the same around the world. This is the place to see REAL local NY talent).  ANYWAY I saw this one booth (above) with really cool textured accessories - made from CORK.  I timidly asked the lady working there if there is any leather in the belts, thinking maybe there was leather layer in the middle, and she proudly responded that all their products are vegan!  Well, in that case, let me take a look around!!

The shop is Cliff Belts, and they actually have a ton of different accessories that are typically made out of leather, plus guitar straps(!).  My favorite items are the ones with the natural cork color and texture showing through (they also have colored and embossed styles). So unique! The lady in the booth showed me some cool features of their belts, where some of them are mix-and-matchable with the buckle and strap, and another line of belts are made out of recycled subway car grab poles!  Super awesome!   

I love that it is strong, durable, ecological, cruelty free, and lighter than leather. Cliff Belts says, "Cork is environmentally preferable to leather as it comes from a lower carbon impact source (tree bark) and does not use animal products in its manufacture (a vegan product). The environmental concerns associated with leather include the energy and carbon intensity of generating animal products and the chemicals used in the leather tanning process that can be damaging to human health and the environment. Cork is a naturally beautiful and greener alternative to leather."

Anything from this shop would be great for anyone who wears pants, wants to define his or her waist, or carries things (so basically everyone).  And probably also for anyone that loves wine (because wine people are into cork).  I'm going to get this belt for my husband, and I want this for me, I'm hoping I can put a little notebook inside it.  

PS - Reminder, Vegan Dinner at Ayurveda Cafe is tonight! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Love Affair Continues

I really love shopping at Trader Joe's, and I shop there despite the closest one being pretty far from my apartment and I have to haul all that stuff back home in multiple backpacks and tote bags (they do have delivery, I've just never used it).

ANYWAY!  I wrote to them the other day:

"I LOVE your unscented cruelty free skincare products (Nourish oil free antioxidant facial moisturizer and Nourish All-in-one facial cleanser)! Thank you so much for making those and clearly labeling them with the no-bunnies logo, it so easy to check if it can go in my basket or not! I often buy Tom's unscented deodorant when I am at your store, but am curious about your Trader Joe's Unscented Deodorant with Cotton - is that tested on animals? There is no indication. 
Thanks and keep up the great work! Please introduce more unscented, cruelty free products!"

And they responded super fast with the following exciting information!

"Our HABA (health and beauty aid) products are ALL cruelty free - no animal testing. This includes our deodorants."

YES!  So my husband switched from the Tom's deodorant to Trader Joe's Unscented Deodorant with Cotton and he likes it a lot better!  He uses it on a daily basis and it has even held up through his martial arts classes (he comes home literally DRIPPING with sweat and his clothes are soaked with sweat, but he does not smell!)

So I also discovered that they also list all their vegan products online which makes it super easy to pick what you want to buy ahead of time!