“Living the Farm Sanctuary Life” by Gene Baur

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You can’t judge a book by its cover, or so the saying goes. In the case of Gene Baur‘s new book, I beg to differ. From the title to the subtitle to the photo and callout, the cover of Living the Farm Sanctuary Life (Rodale Books) pretty much says it all.

The author Gene Baur, is the President and co-Founder of The Farm Sanctuary, which is comprised of three separate farms that operate on either side of the country: two in California and one in my own backyard (New York’s Finger Lakes region) in Watkins Glen, NY. An activist, athlete, and truly the ideal human for his position as spokesperson for the animals, Gene takes us on a personal journey (outlined in ten steps) from starting the Farm Sanctuary to how to live a happier, healthier and more compassionate life.

His new book delves deeply into his own love of life — and all things living:

“Humans are complex. We have the capacity to express enormous cruelty or enormous kindness. Certainly the vast majority of us would prefer to live kindly rather than cruelly, to be healthy instead of sick, and to live in accordance with our values and interests. To achieve this vision, I encourage people to live according to a set of Five Tenets that can help us live more happily on this earth together.”

Want to know Gene’s Five Tenets of Farm Sanctuary Living? I recommend you buy the book … Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

The first section of the book, as good a read as any on the subject, takes the reader through these tenets and provides us up-close and personal access to many of the animals who live happily and safely at the sanctuary — meanwhile, weaving personal life experiences with life’s observations.

I was very surprised (and excited) to see that Living the Farm Sanctuary Life also showcases countless (over 100) delectable recipes and beautiful full-color photos (as a matter of fact a friend of mine, Kayle Martin of Cowgirls and Collard Greens has two recipes in the book). The recipes make up over half the content and provide each course in vivid, easy-to-follow instructions.

Imagine starting your day with “Pancakes with Orange Moscato Syrup and Pine Nuts”; lunch on “Tacos with Salted Grilled Plantains, Salsa Verde, and Pepitas”; dinner of “Lobster Mushroom Tostada Tower” (from Joshua Katcher, vegan fashion entrepreneur and founder of the website The Discerning Brute). All finished off with “Sweet & Sara Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice Crispy Squares.” Each recipe is submitted by a long, illustrious list of vegan celebrities, bloggers, and chefs and brings the book to a delicious conclusion.

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As someone who went from 100% omnivore to 100% dietary vegan overnight and eventually went full-on ethical-vegan, I can say that individuals like Gene, and Living the Farm Sanctuary Life are exactly the kinds of meaningful messaging that makes all of this make sense: living alongside all beings on this amazing planet and, in the case of Gene and this book, co-existing in peace with the animals on their own ground and own terms.

Sharing the planet.

The book is set for release on April 7 (the day after my birthday) and can be pre-ordered now through Amazon. If you’re a vegan who wants a reminder as to why you’re doing what you’re doing, or if you’re a transitioning vegetarian or curious omnivore, this is the book for you.

Living the Farm Sanctuary Life reminds me to take stock in my own life. To stop and smell the everything. To love and live and recognize the beauty in all around me. I am truly honored to have been asked to review Living the Farm Sanctuary Life and am anxious to give it as a gift to my family and friends.

Go vegan.

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@Ruby_Roth: Vegan Children’s Book Writer and Illustrator (and, Pet Portraitator)

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Anyone who knows me knows I was born a cartoonist. This is something that I can’t get rid of if I wanted to. Ever since I was a kid, I could draw. There was nothing more exciting to me as a 10-year-old than my mom buying me a ream of paper. A ream. That was like a million blank canvases to attack with my pencils and Sharpie markers.

Sharpie is the official marker of cartoonists and breast-signing rockstars.

I’ve said for years that when I “retire,” I would live on Cape Cod and illustrate children’s books for fun. I love kids and I love cartooning and I love Cape Cod … so, there you have it.

Flash forward a couple decades and my God-given talent for art translates into graphic design and a career. Meanwhile, especially with two little babies at home, I’m still a fan of children’s books and right now I am an admitted #fanman (the grown up version of #fanboy) over Ruby Roth. I blogged about her a while back.

Her style of drawing is so unique and magical and her vegan messaging is … relentless. She is gorgeous, intelligent, and talented and can go toe-to-toe with any media outlet accusing her of being too honest, and possibly morbid, in her writing.

Ruby tells it like it is. Animals are raped, tortured, and killed so kids can have a “Happy” Meal.

Want to see what I’m talking about? Watch this. The reporter in this introduction actually says, “… the kids hear the lines, then they repeat it and then they don’t want to eat meat.”

Um, yeah. That’s the point. Seriously, watch this now. The blog will wait. I have NO idea how Ruby keeps her cool.

il_570xN.743947785_9zoqOkay, this was a very long introduction to my surprise gift for Jen.

Jen is a cat person. In spite of the fact she is followed everywhere she goes by Kimchi (known by some as either “Shadow” or “Kiwi,”) our rescue vegan poodle mix, she’s still not a dog person; she’s a Kimchi person.

It was my encouragement that we got a dog and Jim at the SPCA hooked us up with the best little dog possible. Kimchi is great with the kids and is spoiled whenever Cooper eats (as more than half of what he eats ends up on the floor). Kimchi is a part of our family.

So, when I discovered that THE Ruby Roth does pet portraits … well, I had to have one (shown at top). He style translates beautifully into this arena and, since the portraits are of animals, it fits right into her vegan messaging.

Amazingly, yesterday, I also had the privilege to talk with Ruby over the phone and she is every bit as delightful as you’d imagine. Enter: #Fanman. She was so generous with her time to talk with me about her career, cartooning, children’s books, veganism, and the relentless media. As it turns out, we were both in Anaheim at the same time but didn’t know it (hoping to actually meet her in person soon).

I really can’t encourage you enough to get your own portrait done of your pet from Ruby. Support a true vegan!

This illustration of Kimchi is a surprise gift for Jen … who is only finding out about it by reading this blog post. Love you, Jen.

Go vegan.

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#MeatOut: A Vegan Curmudgeon’s Perspective

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Today is MeatOut 2015. One of these days where we encourage omnivores to set aside their bacon, put down their turkey, and give their beef a rest. Like its weekly counterpart, Meatless Mondays, I’m really not a fan.

Enter the Grumpy Vegan.

Sure, asking the masses to embrace veganism (a plant-based diet) for a day is a nice concept. Those who commit to it wake up and have toast (probably with butter), a bowl of cereal (most likely with dairy milk), and a cup of coffee with cream. Hardly vegan but they’ve only committed to no meat— good for them.

For. One. Day.

Big whoop. I am unimpressed. These same people have had countless meatless days in their lives and they never even knew it. Oatmeal with fruit and juice in the morning (not to mention they will eat as many eggs as they want today). A salad at lunch with a crust of bread and vegetable soup. Pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. This is a plant-based day and somehow having them say they are taking part in MeatOut …well, it’s meaningless.

If these same individuals actually cared about animals or the environment at all, they would stop the rape, torture, and ruthless killing of animals full time. They don’t. They haven’t made the connection or they simply don’t care. I really don’t want them on “my side.”

Guaranteed, tomorrow they will eat extra bacon. Order a meat lover’s pizza, and swallow down two dozen chicken wings because “they earned it” for what they endured. They will do all this in their leather sneakers and wool socks while adjusting their silk underwear.

Poor bastards. So glad they lived through today … tomorrow the animals won’t.

Go vegan.

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Miyoko’s Kitchen, Part Two: Cutting the Cheese

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Before embarking on a cheese-tasting journey, one must will themselves to forget everything previously assumed about the essential experience of vegan cheese. Erase those early memories of eating yellow-colored wax back in the early 90’s, concocting funky wallpaper paste in home kitchens during fits of DIY determination, and even the reasonably melted shreds smothering dairy-free pizzas today. Even as a cheese-lover in a previous life, the flavors contained in these small, simple packages are a step up from anything I had enjoyed as a child. With or without that frame of reference, I’ll spoil the suspense right here; anyone with taste buds would be impressed by these offerings.

As mentioned briefly in part one, the whole line of Miyoko’s Kitchen cheeses are cashew-based, seasoned, inoculated, and aged in different ways to create a whole rainbow of flavors. Most wheels are firm, sliceable numbers ideal for fancy cheese platters (or…

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PlantPure Nation: The truth is a stubborn thing …

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In my business I am so fortunate to work with like-minded clients. When I launched ThankTank Creative, there was risk associated with being so niche or targeted but I knew where my beliefs and passions resided and moved forward building an agency focused on veganism, social justice, and environmentally-conscious companies … and the risk has paid off.

All of our clients are on the same path as we are: working toward a better future and, in many cases, working toward a vegan (or, plant-based) future.

Late last year I was contacted by the producer of Forks Over Knives, arguably the most important documentary touting the benefits of a plant-based diet. John Corry, along with an amazing team of film professionals and Director Nelson Campbell (son of T. Colin Campbell) were working on a “follow up” film titled, “PlantPure Nation.” After talking with John and Nelson at length, I knew we had to work on this project and help bring the film’s message, and longer-term mission to the masses.

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Today this film’s Kickstarter campaign has launched. 

I could go on here with reasons why you should support this film but I urge you to watch the video attached to the campaign. No one can say it better than T. Colin and Nelson Campbell.

www.PlantPureNation.com/OurKickstarter

Please support the campaign (any dollar amount). Share the link. Share this image (above). Share this blog post and help bring this message to America and beyond. We can control our own health and our own health can be controlled by diet.

Go vegan.

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Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Spicy Mexican ChorizOats

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This recipe for Mexican-style chorizo made with gluten-free steel cut oats (vegan, soy free) was originally created for a contest that Bob’s Red Mill (a company I love) was conducting. Create your best recipe with steel cut oats. I thought this recipe would win based on the clever name alone: ChorizOats. Get it? It’s chorizo combined with oats. You probably didn’t need me to explain, huh?

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Anyway, it turned out amazing. It’s not unlike soy chorizo except that you use cooked steel cut oats (gluten-free) and therefore this is health food. Seriously, there is nothing wrong in this list of ingredients.

I brought a huge container to one of our local Tex-Mexican restaurants (Viva) and we spiced up the already vegan burritos with this delicious addition.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
  • 3 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. (or more, depending on preference) favorite hot sauce
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. vegetable bouillon
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. smoked seasoning
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cumin

Vegan sour cream (optional, depends on recipe but is worth every extra calorie. I prefer Tofutti brand), and vegan cheese (optional, but get your hands on some VioLife or Chao).

Cook Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats according to package (1 cup oats, 3 cups water). Add vegetable bouillon just before adding oats and covering (will take 20 minutes to cook covered, stirring occasionally).

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In heated skillet, saute onions, pepper, and garlic in 1 T. olive oil (you can do this step oil-free if you’re one of those people) until soft, stir in tomato paste and lower heat. Add apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, cilantro and stir. Continue stirring over low heat for five minutes.

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Combine all dry ingredients in separate bowl and stir into tomato mixture and set aside.

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Once Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats are done (can be left a little chewy) combine in large bowl with tomato mixture. You now have enough Chorizoats to fill six burritos, tacos, or quesadillas. The Chorizoats is also an excellent addition to vegan chili or cook further in medium heat frying pan and add as a healthy, spicy vegan pizza topping.

Go vegan.

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@BeyondMeat: Or, Beauty and The Beast

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I’ve been a fan of BeyondMeat pretty much since the beginning. In fact, certain people at BeyondMeat headquarters in California refer to me as “Superfan #1.” No idea if I am actually the first of their Superfans (formerly Brand Ambassadors) but I like to think I am. It gives me something to tell my mom so she can tell the girls at Mahjong and pretend she’s proud of me. 

This past weekend I flew to Anaheim to attend ExpoWest, the world’s largest natural products tradeshow. This is the one. 

In addition to meeting virtually every vegan ever, I got to visit all the companies I know and love since becoming vegan; including BeyondMeat. 

Last year their booth mimicked Taco Bell, this year they took on McDonalds. Topple the Golden Arch on its side and it makes a pretty sexy letter “B.” Last year they were releasing their beefy crumbles, this year it’s The Beast (burger) and breaded “chicken” fingers. Fast food fare. 

As I approached the booth and soaked in all the aromas that one would expect, I suddenly made eye contact with one of the BeyondMeat marketing team members, the beautiful Emily. 

We smiled. I was swept away by either her big brown eyes or by the fact I knew she was going to feed me. Either way, I heard angels. 

We chatted for a bit and I asked about Justin, another team member who I’ve known since coming on board. Justin is a dude. Probably the quintessential Californian but I can’t really say since this was only my second time setting foot in the state. 

We found him. Did some sort of handshake thing. Took this photo (above) and grabbed Josh, who will forever be known as “the man who put The Beast in me.”

Resting peacefully in a logo takeout tray was a wrapped mini burger (slider) alongside three breaded chicken strips (with a squirt of ketchup). I had been waiting months for this bite and it was about to happen. 

I heard angels. Again. I should have that checked out. 

The first bite of the beast was better than anything I could have imagined. If you’re still transitioning or you’re a vegan who craves a good burger. This is it. Firm and juicy. Slathered in ketchup. Resting in a soft slider roll. I could have eaten 50 of these little beasts (as an aside, the original Beast is BIG … haven’t had a chance to try it yet). Everything I miss about White Castle was in my hand and no one had to be killed to make it. 

Then I grabbed a chicken finger and dipped it into the ketchup. Crunchy. Juicy. A little bit of spice in the breading. Absolutely incredible. I ate all three and didn’t want it to end. Again, with the angels. 

I have to say in all honesty, I do wish the chicken fingers were gluten-free, I feel like this is a bit of a step back for the company since all their other offerings are GF. 

However … this little meal was a major highlight of the weekend and one I will cherish forever. Just like this photo of me and Justin that I am having blown up to poster size to hang over my desk. 

Go vegan. 

* In all fairness to my mom, she doesn’t play mahjong and she’s always been proud of me. Love you, Peg!

#ExpoWest: Great Expotations [#vegan #glutenfree #govegan #vegansatexpo]

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As I type this blog post I am on my way to Anaheim, California for ExpoWest, the world’s largest natural products tradeshow in the world. It’s so huge I mentioned that it’s the world’s largest twice. In fact, attendance to this one show is more than the entire population of Ithaca, New York (when all three colleges are in session). It’s so huge it has its own zip code. It’s so huge it can be seen from outer-space. It’s so huge that there are people still lost in the convention center from last year.

It’s huge.

And I have Great Expotations.

This is the show where all my favorite brands (and some newcomers) release their newest products. While this show covers everything from furniture to clothing, I am most interested in the newest foods being launched. With America finally “waking up” to the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, I am anxious to see how the leading food manufactures are going to embrace plant-based, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free products.

And make them taste amazing.

The time is now. With book’s like The Campbell Plan coming out (based on The China Study) and the new film “PlantPure Nation,” the United States has reached its tipping point and ExpoWest is where many companies either incorporate this direction into their offerings; or, they ultimately fail.

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As I browse the listings for which companies I want to visit (of which there are over 2,500), taste a sample, and eventually review/blog about them, I am limiting my list to vegan companies first (and hoping they recognize that certifying their foods gluten-free is the next logical step) and no other companies second.

These aren’t food trends. Plant-based, whole-foods, are the only way we are going to save ourselves and the planet. We cannot continue on the track we are on, where the average adult male is prescribed expensive medications instead of a healthy diet … let food be thy medicine.

The tide’s are turning. Vegan options are showing up everywhere. When you can control your health through what you eat, isn’t this the most obvious path to take for a long and healthy life?

Of course, during ExpoWest, I am probably going to eat my weight in potato chips.

Go vegan.

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MeatyVegan note: Animals (and their excretions) are not food.