Is Seattle ready for a vegan boutique?

Let’s hope so! Because I’m opening one.

That’s right. I haven’t posted very often lately because I’ve been busy planning a big new project.

After watching The True Cost and reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion I decided to change my buying habits. I love to thrift and swap, but I’m also guilty of getting sucked into fast fashion trends. And while an $8 skirt is hard to resist, as soon as I realized why some apparel is so cheap—and that someone somewhere is paying in blood, sweat, and tears—the urge to buy, buy, buy went away.

I started looking for places to buy clothing that are gentle on the environment, are sweatshop-free, and aren’t made from animals, and I realized there’s no place like that in Seattle. Was I supposed to provide this store? I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. For the past year, I’ve been researching and planning.

Last week, I signed the lease on a space in Capitol Hill and I quit my corporate job!

I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’ll be getting the store space ready for a grand opening in May 2016. If you’d like to follow along with my new adventure, check out www.drizzleandshine.com or @drizzleandshine on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

DrizzleAndShine-Logo-Vertical-RGB-Small

I’ll still be writing about vegan and animal rights issues on this blog and I hope to pick up the pace of my posts again soon.

Katzentempel: Germany’s first cat café

During my trip to Germany this past summer, I got to visit Café Katzentempel, Germany’s first cat café. What made this place extra special was the 100% vegan menu.

menus

Katzentempel (Cat Temple) is a wonderful café and restaurant in Munich. Students from the nearby university sipped on cappuccinos worked on laptops, while at other tables, groups dined on delicious vegan fare.

The food was ganz lecker (totally delicious) but the cats stole the show. Six rescued resident cats made themselves at home in the café.

Balou

Gizmo

Even the artwork was cat-themed.

cat art

I liked that the cats’ wellbeing was paramount. No flash photography and no manhandling of the cats allowed. Of course, we were lucky and some of the cats visited us. On their terms, of course—as cats prefer.

Jack naps

Ayla rests after a drink

Robin on his perch

Sleepy Saphira

I was lucky that one of the café owners was there so I learned firsthand about how the café was created. Thomas Leidner came from the world of finance but wanted to do something completely different. An ethical vegan, he knew the cats would be a huge draw, and would help him reach more people with delicious vegan food. He’s helping people improve their relationships with animals in more than one way!

Thomas and friends

Balou sees an opening on the calendar. Next time you’re in Munich, stop by—the cats will be waiting for you!

Balou and calendar

Helping elephants in Thailand

For her birthday, all my friend Loreen wants is an elephant.

Last year, while visiting Thailand, Loreen discovered Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for abused elephants. She donated generously, a gift that her company matched, and she enabled ENP to build a shelter for their elephants.

This year, she’s aiming high. Instead of gifts, she’s asking all her friends to help her rescue another elephant at Elephant Nature Park by donating directly to ENP, or by donating to The Abraham Foundation, a U.S non-profit that supports ENP.

elephant c/o Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park and its founder Lek, are featured in the documentary film, How I became an Elephant. I was horrified to learn of the conditions of so many captive elephants in Thailand, and comforted to see Lek care for and give a refuge to survivors. In the film, she said she doesn’t buy elephants from people who will use the money to abuse more elephants. A position that I completely endorse. It does, however, take money to negotiate an elephant’s freedom and transport.

Lek offers elephants over 100 acres to roam, form natural groups, and for the first time ever, live without chains and set their own agendas. Amazingly, some of the rescued elephants have been reintroduced to the wild. Many others are too injured and worn out for life in the wild so Lek and her team offer medical care and the best quality of life possible.

In Thailand, elephants are forcibly impregnated and have their babies stolen from them. Babies are beaten “broken,” and forced to beg in busy cities at all hour of the day and night. They are malnourished and suffer greatly. Other elephants are used as beasts of burden in the illegal logging trade, even after injuries and blindness. Still others are used to give rides to tourists or perform tricks such as playing instruments, sports, or painting.

How to help

  • If you’re in the Seattle area, RSVP to Loreen’s fundraising birthday bash on October 24th, 2015.
  • Look at the Elephant Nature Park’s list of ways to help.
  • Donate to Elephant Nature Park at their site or, if you’re in the US and work for a company that matches donations, go through The Abraham Foundation, a 501(c)(3).
  • Never ride an elephant or pay to see captive elephants perform (dance, paint, or anything else). Even if the act itself looks harmless, the ways elephants are physically and emotionally abused to get them to learn tricks is abhorrent).
  • Volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park next time you’re in Thailand!

Lions and cows and dogs, oh my!

Cecil the Lion, as he was known, was a lion who lived in Zimbabwe. You’ve probably seen the media storm and public outrage this week about his murder. A wealthy American paid to hunt down Cecil—at night, by luring him out of a preserve—and shoot him with a crossbow.

a lion similar to Cecil

It was nothing but a cowardly act by a small-minded trophy hunter, hell-bent on proving his sense of worth by killing others. The man—a dentist from Minnesota—as a complete sociopath and waste of space. But I digress.

What I learned from the frenzy this week is that it pays to have a name. Cecil was a lion who’d been photographed by tourists for years (he was 12 or 13). He was GPS-collared and was part of an Oxford University study. But he was no different from many other lions that wealthy westerners (usually Americans) pay to kill. Six hundred lions are killed in trophy hunts every year, according to National Geographic.

Cecil sparked public outcry because he was well-known. In the same way we mourn for a celebrity’s death, but not the random people who also die.

For most people, the lion is a majestic creature. King of the jungle. We don’t associate them with food or clothing. That’s another thing Cecil had going for him. People around the world have issued hate mail and death threats to Cecil’s killer, and vigils and protests have sprung up at the man’s business.

Most of the people disgusted with Cecil’s death likely also eat and wear other animals. It’s a disconnect. Melanie Joy addresses this topic in-depth in her book, Why we Love Dogs, Eat pigs, and Wear Cows. This phenomenon (of loving some animals and eating others) she calls carnism. I encourage you to read the book and see how people compartmentalize and justify this discrepancy.

It’s okay to mourn for Cecil. His death was a tragedy. His pride is in jeopardy, and his cubs will likely be killed by competing lions. But we need to also mourn for the millions of dogs and cats who are euthanized each year because they have no homes. And for the billions of farmed animals whose lives are brutal and short. They are all as precious as Cecil and as deserving of life.

We can’t stop evil people from hunting (although signing the petition to ask Zimbabwe to stop issuing hunting permits or the petition to include lions on the endangered species list would help). But we can adopt dogs and cats and never buy from breeders. And we can choose to not eat animals.

If you’re not already, please choose veg. For the countless animals just like Cecil, who are worthy of our admiration and who want to live.

Wool-free carpets

When extending veganism beyond your diet, you might think about alternatives to leather shoes and bags. An often overlooked home décor product is carpeting.

Rugs are often made of wool (here’s why wool isn’t an ethical product). Sometimes, you’ll even see leather or leather-trimmed rugs. And sheepskin and cowhide rugs are not byproducts! Fortunately, it’s easy to find alternatives. Let’s look at some options for area rugs and broadloom:

Wall-to-wall

Wall-to-wall wool carpet is more cost-prohibitive that synthetic broadloom so isn’t as common. When shopping for carpet rolls, you’ll notice that most carpeting is synthetic.

Looking for natural alternatives? Wall-to-wall sisal is available at places like sisalcarpet.com, Sustainable Lifestyles, and Fibreworks. It’s available is a range of prices, but seems to be more expensive than synthetic wall-to-wall.

Area rugs

Wool is a common ingredient in area rugs. A simple swap would be to buy a synthetic version. If you see ingredients like nylon, latex, polyester and polypropylene, you’ll know the rug is synthetic.

If petrochemicals are a concern, there’s a host of animal-free natural fibers to choose from too. Cotton, hemp, jute, seagrass, sisal, bamboo, and linen rugs are great options. Some will look more rustic and, well, natural, but you can find a style and color to suit your décor.

Flor carpets

I’m a fan of Flor, a system of carpet squares that you can use to create rugs in any size or shape you’d like. Most are nylon (some are wool, so check the specs). They’re made with recycled backing and meet or exceed VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions standards. If pets, kids, or sloppy guests make a mess, you can replace a tile, not the entire rug. They come in a myriad of styles and colors—from solid, to stripes, and even animal prints. If you crave sophistication, their Better than Wool collection will impress.

Overstock.com has a huge selection of area rugs that you can sort by size, color and material (including synthetic versions of Persian/Oriental styles). Home Decorators has sections for natural and synthetic rugs too. You can even check out Target and Ikea’s sites for ideas.

Wall-to-wall

Wall-to-wall wool is more cost-prohibitive, and isn’t as common, but it’s considered the gold standard. Most wall-to-wall carpeting is synthetic.

Looking for natural alternatives? Wall-to-wall sisal is available at places like sisalcarpet.com, Sustainable Lifestyles, and Fibreworks. It’s available is a range of prices, but seems to be more expensive than synthetic wall-to-wall.

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!