No New Animal Lab

This past Saturday, I joined several hundred demonstrators at the University of Washington for the March on UW. We were protesting a proposed animal testing facility that, if built, would see a 30% increase in the number of animals tortured and killed at the university.

marching with banner

No New Animal Lab is a slogan, a campaign, and a movement to prevent thousands of animals from suffering. Their current target is Skanska, the construction company who has been awarded the project.

A recent exposé on a local news channel has sickening information about some of what goes on at the university. It’s inhumane, and it needs to stop. I’ve written before about how animal testing is never justified, and the examples at UW are exactly why.

There are psychopaths in our midst. They are researchers at the UW and they live off federal grant money, despite a history of abuse and fines by the USDA.

At a time when other schools are moving to more modern, accurate testing methods, the UW chooses to invest more money in animal testing and refuses to recognize that animal testing models are outdated.

We marched through campus, to the site of the proposed lab, and up University Avenue. After the march, a smaller–but substantial–group protested outside of the home of one of the UW Regents, a man who is pushing the lab plans through despite public opposition.

Police presence was heavy, but both events were peaceful.

The events generated a lot of media coverage, including TV, newspaper and radio. Momentum is gaining and more and more people are becoming aware.

Please visit the No New Animal Lab FB page to see how you can help.

march

hundreds of people march – image c/o Wendy

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Fashion revolution: Who made your clothes?

Today is one of those days where I think I should combine my fashion blog and my vegan blog. The topic on both is the same. See, it’s Fashion Revolution Day today. This day marks the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over eleven hundred people and injured thousands more. Spotting vegan clothing is easy. No animal products? Check. But look behind the scenes and the human and environmental ramifications are big too.

I’m joining others as we ask, “Who made my clothes?” Check out Instagram hashtags for #fashrev, #whomademyclothes, #fashionrevolutionday, and #whomadeyourclothes for lots of inspiring photos. You might see photos of people wearing their clothes inside out to show the labels–transparency in fashion!

who made my clothes?

I know who made my clothes!

Lois Eastlund label

Lois Eastlund made my dress. It looks fantastic (even inside out) because it’s handmade and she paid a lot of attention to detail. She’s a NY-based vegan fashion designer and one of the founders of La Fashionista Compassionista–an awesome (and free) online magazine that you should get your hands on!

Lois Eastlund dress

Moses made my boots. They’re handmade in a factory in LA. The all-vegan company, Nicora Johns, is helping to keep the US shoemaking industry alive. When I bought my boots, I got a photo of Moses in the shop where he made these. No animals or humans harmed!

Nicora Johns boots

Crystalyn Kae made my purse. It’s glazed fabric. Another great leather alternative. I met Crystalyn when she was located in Seattle. She’s based in NYC now, but you can find her amazing bags in stores nationwide and on her website.

Crystalyn Kae purse

Roque from Get Hell Bent made my cuff. It’s made from recycled bicycle tires. I have three of her cuffs. They’re so edgy and tough!

accessories

I made my earrings! It’s fun to create. My simple drop-chain earrings were easy to make and have become my go-to pair. They match everything!

I don’t know who made my tights. So it’s not a perfect outfit. But thinking about where my clothing comes from has opened my eyes. I heard 1 in 6 people is employed in fashion. But who are they? What are their working conditions like? How environmentally friendly is the factory? Animal skins require so many chemicals to turn them into leather and not decompose. And leather is an inherently cruel industry.

Fashion isn’t perfect, but I love knowing where my clothes came from and who made them. My goal is to buy exclusively from sustainable, ethical companies. Sometimes that means things cost more. But do I really need thirty $8 tank tops? What if I had eight $30 tanks? They’d last longer, and I’d be putting my dollars where my values are.

Let’s start a revolution!

Greyhounds: Racing to the death

I first heard about dog racing in college, when a woman introduced me to her retired racing greyhound. I didn’t know how cruel the industry is until she explained some of the details.

  • Greyhounds are bred to race, but most don’t make the cut–and thousands of puppies are killed each year. Many are also injured (and then killed) while training or racing. When their racing “careers” are over, greyhounds are killed or sold into medical research. Only a lucky few are rescued and adopted into homes.
  • Greyhounds are muzzled and caged in cramped quarters for up to 20 hours a day. They often catch diseases in their tiny kennels because they are housed with so many other dogs.
  • Greyhounds often test positive for drugs (even cocaine!) and are seen as simply racing machines, with no regard for their well-being.
  • Greyhounds are gentle creatures but when they are bred to race, they are encouraged to be aggressive. Animals Australia recent blew the lid of the greyhound racing in that country when they exposed the ways trainers make their dogs more willing to chase a lure (they “blood” the dogs–basically, use live lure animals, like piglets, kittens and possums to bait the dogs, give them a taste for blood, and get them to chase a live lure during practice).

greyhounds racing

Dog racing is illegal in most states (and currently happens in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia). Commercial racing also still takes place in 7 other countries including Australia, Ireland, Macau, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam).

The races are an excuse to wager bets and try to win money, but there are other ways to gamble without abusing animals.

What to do?

  • Never go to a dog race–and tell your friends and family to stay away too.
  • Sign the Animals Australia petition on this page (scroll to the bottom).
  • Consider adopting a greyhound. This list includes US and international adoption groups working to save greyhounds.

Further reading

ASPCA’s page on greyhound racing (with downloadable report)
Grey2k website about greyhound racing
The Greyhound Cruelty page by Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland
Peta factsheet about greyhound racing
Animal Rights Action post about the cruelty in the racing industry
Ten Myths about Greyhounds by Animals Australia

Miyoko’s Kitchen: A vegan cheese game-changer

It happened again. I served Miyoko’s Creamery to a vegan friend today and:

“What is this? Where can I get some? Oh wow!”

miyoko's on a cracker

On New Year’s Eve, the same thing happened. I brought a wheel to a party and the omni host declared it the best thing she’s ever eaten. She promptly went in on an order with me.

Let me take a step back. Miyoko Schinner is a gourmet vegan food goddess who literally wrote the book on Vegan Artisan Cheese. People have been making and raving about her delicious vegan cultured nut recipes, but like many good things, they take time to make. Cheese doesn’t age in a day!

Luckily for people like me, who crave instant gratification, Miyoko began selling her creations.

miyoko's creamery

Every time I serve Miyoko’s, people gobble it up. It’s a great way to show non-vegans that vegan food is delectable. The vegans who try it are happy to have a cruelty-free savory cheese in their lives once again. It truly is a game changer.

When I share a wheel of Miyoko’s, I usually pick a spreadable style like Classic Double Cream Chive or Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic. I think these are my favorite. They’re very versatile. In addition to tasting great on a cracker or bagel, they make the best cheesy mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. I used Miyoko’s in the recipe for this dish.

mac n cheese made with miyoko's

Rustic Alpine is a sharp, harder cheese that I ate on crackers and crispy, toasted bread. The Smoked Chive Farmhouse is a smoky hard cheese that, while not bacon-y at all, will get you over any bacon cravings. The satisfaction is in the wood-smoked flavor. French Truffle is a real treat. It’s earth and mushroomy and tasted great spread of a cracker. Or, like I did with half a wheel, make a mushroom stroganoff dish.

pasta with Miyoko's

Those are only five of the flavors you can find on Miyoko’s site. She has others too that I will definitely be trying. Miyoko’s ships throughout the continental US. Orders arrive in two days, icy cold and safe in an insulated box. You can freeze the cheese, which is a great incentive to stock up.

The trouble is, you might eat it all right away!

The vegan bedroom

If your concern for animals extends beyond your plate, you might find yourself looking at clothing labels and household brands to make sure there are no animal ingredients and you’re not supporting animal testing. One place you might overlook is the bedroom.

Pillows and blankets

Some pillows and comforters are stuffed with feathers and blankets can contain wool. Birds and sheep suffer in the production of these products, so steer clear of them. Fortunately, you can find lots of cruelty-free options. Synthetic pillows are hypoallergenic and reasonable. I’ve seen pillows stuffed with buckwheat, and I have one made of shredded natural latex. It all depends on the type of pillow you prefer. Everyone from Ikea to Amazon carries a non-animal version, so try a few out!

Sheets and pillowcases

Silk may sound sensuous, but it’s make of the fibers of silkworms. The cocoons–with worms inside–are dissolved in boiling water so the fibers can be harvested and spun. I’ve found a lot of silky synthetics that are nice, but I still prefer cotton with a little stretch. (Note: Peace silk is made by collecting the cocoons of wild moths after they’ve hatched, so the silkworms aren’t killed–this might be a good option if you insist on silk.)

Sleeping Girl by Nikolay Kuznetsov

Mattresses

Here’s an area where I struggled. I found a futon I liked and discovered, in addition to the main ingredient (cotton), it had a layer of wool (as a fire retardant). In order to get one made without wool, I needed a doctor’s note.

I found several coil mattresses and they were great–except they had silk covers. Ultimately I chose a natural latex mattress, which is made from sustainable natural rubber (tapped from a tree like maple syrup).

PlushBeds is great mattress company that makes all-vegan natural latex mattresses with plant-based fire retardants–no chemicals or wool! You can try out a bed, risk-free. But looking at the photos on their site, I bet you won’t want to give up that comfort!

Natural Bliss

I’m also intrigued with Casper, a latex and memory foam mattress made in America and shipped right to your door (in a surprisingly small box). They are 100% vegan, eco-friendly, and also offer a 100-day free trial period. What have you got to lose? Check out the Casper Mattress Facebook page for more.

casper

Here are some local options if you’re in the Seattle Area:

Bedrooms and More – Really helpful; showed me their silk-free and wool-free options, and educated me about natural latex.

Soaring Heart Natural Bedding – Bring a doctor’s note and they’ll make you a custom futon or tatami without wool.

Seattle Natural Mattress – Chemical-free cotton and natural latex bedding made in Portland, Oregon.

Intimacy

I won’t kiss and tell, but I will say that Trojan condoms and K-Y Jelly aren’t vegan. Trojan is owned by Church & Dwight and K-Y is owned by Johnson & Johnson. Both companies test their product on animals. Instead, check out The Vegan Sex Shop and Vegan Condoms for brands that don’t test on animals (like Glyde and Condomi). As an added bonus, The Vegan Sex Shop has a wide array of toys and whatnot so you can make sure your furry handcuffs are faux and your thigh-high boots are pleather.

These are a few of the things to look out for when creating a vegan bedroom.
And remember: You can still count sheep!

Unilever drops lawsuit against Hampton Creek

Can you believe it? A couple of months ago, industry giant Unilever sued Hampton Creek over the use of the word “mayo.” Unilever, maker of Hellman’s mayonnaise, didn’t like that Hampton Creek named their eggless product Just Mayo.

Hampton Creek is a San Francisco-based food technology company that was founded in 2011. They focus on plant-based products and they currently produce Just Mayo and Just Cookies (both vegan). By comparison, Unilever is one of the oldest multinational companies, with over 400 brands in more than 190 countries. They’re the world’s largest producer of food spreads, with over 30% market share.

In a classic David vs. Goliath scenario, Unilever sued Hampton Creek over market share and claimed Hampton Creek is falsely advertising its product as mayo, even though it doesn’t contain eggs.

just mayo

Well Big Mayo lost this battle. They dropped the lawsuit amidst a flurry of bad PR. People were infuriated at the food giant’s bullying and sided with Hampton Creek. The lawsuit actually gave Hampton Creek millions of dollars in free publicity, and may people who’d never even heard of them vowed to buy Just Mayo on principle alone!

On a side, note, I encourage people not to buy any Unilever products for one other reason: They test on animals! Here’s some info on their testing (no graphic images), and an infographic with some of their most popular brands.

unilever

So, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to try Just Mayo. You can get it at Safeway, Costco, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, and a host of other retailers.

Vegan Thanksgiving options

Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up Thanksgiving. In fact, a big portion of the dinner is probably vegan–or could easily be made vegan. As for the turkey? Swap out the carcass with a delicious vegan loaf!

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of sharing precious time with family and friends. There’s no better way to show people how easy and delicious being vegan is. And if you can share your vegan food with others, they’ll know so much more about how to be vegan.

Here are some options for the holiday:

Host a dinner

Having dinner at your place guarantees you can make it an all-vegan meal and show others the joy of eating cruelty-free.

Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, soup, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are all dishes that are vegan or easily can be. Substitute butter and milk with dairy-free options and you’re set. You can find lots of vegan recipes online–even for things like gravy.

 

Field Roast, made from seitan (a wheat protein), and Tofurkey (made from soy beans), make delicious prepackaged loaves that easily take the place of a turkey on the table. Doing an online search for “vegan turkey loaf” will return great recipes for a DIY version.

Attend a dinner

There are two types of dinners I’ve attended. My favorite are ones hosted by vegans. I get to try all the food, and I get to spend time with like-minded people.

Attending a dinner with people who aren’t vegan is a great opportunity to bring a dish and show people you can still enjoy holidays and that vegan food is awesome! If being around a murdered turkey is too disturbing, plan to arrive for dessert–with your favorite vegan sweets!

Go to a vegan restaurant

Sometimes vegan restaurants will offer a Thanksgiving meal. You’ll likely have to make reservations in advance, but it will be worth it. It’s also a great chance to take friends who still eat meat and show them vegan options.

 

starter

No matter how you plan to celebrate the holiday, have fun, be safe, and enjoy the vegan food!