Vegan yarn

Do you knit or crotchet?

Making cozy sweaters, scarves, and luxurious throws is a talent I don’t possess, but one I admire. My grandmother used to make me intricate sweaters. She tried to teach me to knit, but as a lefty, I proved to be a challenging student.

I’ve noticed that a lot of knitters use wool to make their handiwork. I’ve written about why wool isn’t cruelty-free.

So what’s a vegan knitter to do? Cotton is one option. Acrylic is another. But I recently discovered bamboo and soy yarn.

soy yarn

Bellatrista is a local company that creates luxurious yarns. The silky soft yarns come in difference weights and colors and would be a terrific alternative to wool or acrylic.

Soy yarn is stronger than wool or cotton. It breathes well, and wicks moisture away from the body, making it great for summer-weight knits. It’s a byproduct of soybean processing!

Not all the yarns on the site are vegan, so head to the Soy Yarn and Undyed Yarn pages for ones that meet the vegan knitter bar.

Undyed yarn is a great option for those who do their own dying.

Do you knit or crotchet? Have you found other cruelty-free yarns?

The Vegan Egg

Yes it’s true! Follow Your Heart recently created a product called The Vegan Egg. It’s a plant-based egg replaces that works well in baking or on its own. I decided to test it’s ability to mimic a scrambled egg: The true test.

The Vegan Egg is packaged in a small egg carton. The shape is universally recognizable as an egg carton. Inside, however, is a bag of yellow powder. I whisked a bit of the powder with cold water, as instructed on the package. It sure looked like an egg.

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I pushed it around the pan until it was fluffy. It took longer than it takes an actual egg to cook (10 minutes probably).

I tasted a bit. The texture was spot on! It wasn’t as “eggy” in flavor, which I found was a good thing. If you like more egginess, add a bit of kala namak (black salt from an Indian grocery).

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I put my egg in a taco with crumbled Field Roast Sausage and Parmela Creamery aged vegan cheddar shreds because I recently bought The Taco Cleanse cookbook and met real taco scientists and tacos seems like a great way to start the day.

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So what is the egg made of? Algal. That’s a type of algae. It’s got fiber and complete amino acids and is nutrient dense. My only complaint is that it’s over-packaged. It could be sold in a small bag and would be cheaper and less wasteful. I realize that the packaging is part of the draw. Maybe online reorders could be no frills.

I’ll make a quiche next!

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

Vegan Germany

I just came back from a great trip to Germany. Visiting family was part of the reason for my visit, but going to Berlin and checking out Vegan Street was a big reason too. I visited a few cities and was impressed with all of them.

Stuttgart

Before I arrived in Stuttgart my mom and some of our family got to check out a vegan restaurant on my list: Körle und Adam. They loved the food, and the cosy atmosphere of the restaurant. Their website is in German, but even if you can’t read the words, you’ll drool over the food and cheer on the rescued animals in the photos from Hof Butenland and Erdlingshof—local animal sanctuaries.

korle u adam

I had a family dinner at another vegan restaurant, Coox & Candy. Their vegan version of the traditional spätzle dish was phenomenal. All my relatives were happy with how delicious and filling their vegan meals were, and a few even took animal rights pamphlets that were available on the way out.

coox u candy

München

I was excited to visit München (also known as Munich). First stop Max Pett, an organic vegan restaurant that my aunt discovered while searching online for vegan restaurants. We ate outside on the patio and enjoyed delicious fare, including veganized versions of typical Bavarian desserts.

max pett

The next day we visited Veganista, a vegan boutique. Owner Rahel welcomed us to her adorable little shop and I ended up buying an armful of clothing, including vegan suede booties by Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather and tops and a dress by German vegan eco brand Armed Angels.

veganizta

After shopping, my mom, aunt and cousin ate at Café Katzentempel, a vegan cat café! In the café, we met the six resident rescued cats, and filled our bellies with cruelty-free food.

katzentempel

Berlin

Berlin is a vegan mecca. There are countless vegan restaurants and over 300 omni places have clearly marked vegan items on their menus. Organic markets are everywhere and they all have amazing vegan items—from salad dressing to plant-based liverwurst.

vegan food

We arrived just in time for a monthly vegan social, Berlin Vegan Drinks. We were welcomed to the event and got to chat with the organizers as well as several attendees. The vegan BBQ hit the spot.

meal at vegan drinks

Fast Rabbit was a few blocks away from our AirBnb, guaranteeing that I could start each morning with a soy latté and vegan baked goodie.

fast rabbit

My mom and I splurged on a fancy Saturday evening dinner at Lucky Leek. We had a three-course prix fix meal and reveled in the ambience. We compensated the next night by walking to the simple, yet delicious Vego Foodworld, where we had an inexpensive dinner or salad and vegan schnitzel.

lucky leek

Vego

Vegan Street, or Schivelbeinerstrasse on the map, is a vegan’s delight. With Veganz grocery on the corner, complete with a Goodies bakery inside, and DearGoods vegan clothing and Avesu vegan shoes all side-by-side, we were in vegan heaven. We bought vegan hazelnut spread at Veganz (eat your heart out, Nutella), and ate bagels with faux egg salad out on the picnic tables in front of the store. I found a cute pair of vegan shoes next door, and bought a couple of fair-trade, organic tops from Armed Angels and Wunderkwerk.

bagel

On our way to another vegan eco boutique, Loveco, an animal rights parade marched down the street! I took a flier advertising the documentary Earthlings, and learned about the upcoming Vegan Fest (which sadly I had to miss).

parade

We did make it to Kontor Eis before it was time to head home. Kontor is an all-vegan ice cream shop with a terrific assortment of vegan ice cream and sorbets—and a great vegan message!

kontor

If you plan a trip to Germany, you shouldn’t have trouble finding vegan food. People know the word “vegan,” and in Berlin, almost everyone speaks English. Happy Cow will help you find vegan food, and Bio Markets (bio meaning organic) have a ton of vegan options.

In Drogeries (drugstores) like DM, cosmetics and beauty products are clearly labeled and often have a V or the logo of The Vegan Society on them. Plus, in 2009, EU nations banned testing cosmetic on animals. In 2013 they stopped importing products developed with the use of testing on animals. Still, the vegan symbol will ensure the products you buy don’t have animal ingredients.

go vegan

This was a whirlwind overview of my trip so I’ll be diving in deeper to share with you all the details of food, cats and vegan shoes in upcoming posts.

Ruby Roth: Vegan children’s book author

Ruby Roth is an acclaimed author who has written and illustrated several amazing children’s books about animals and veganism. I’ve given her books as gifts because the images captivate and the messages are perfectly age-appropriate. They’re a great launching point for discussing animal issues with kids.

V is for Vegan is great introduction to veganism for the younger set (3-7), and That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is a more in-depth look at veganism for older kids (6-9). Vegan is Love is a terrific look at human-animal relationships and how you’re never too young to put compassion into action (7-10). Learn more about her work at wedonteatanimals.com.

ruby roth

A few months ago I had opportunity to attend a lecture by Roth, where she explored the transformative power of veganism on society and the individual (children included!). She examined pop culture, the media response to her books, and talked about challenges of being vegan and raising vegan kids.

The lecture was very eye-opening! I’ve been a vegan for over 15 years and thought I’d seen it all—but Roth wowed me with info I didn’t know, such as how public thinking about health, children, and animals is shaped.

The toughest part of being vegan is often the pressure people face from well-meaning friends, family, and medical professionals. Just as her books do, Roth encouraged parents to involve their children in conversations about healthy eating and animal rights. Children are smarter than we give them credit for and will appreciate veganism when they understand it well.

To see Ruby Roth take on the media, check out the videos below.

They’re great examples of the fear-mongering among mainstream media and the normalization of eating animals and exploiting them in many other ways. Fortunately Ruby Roth has given us great tools to help children to “love deeply, think critically, and act responsibly.”

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.

Doctor’s orders?

“Let food be thy medicine.”

“You are what you eat.”

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

apple

We’ve heard these sayings before, but step into a doctor’s office and you’ll likely not be guided toward eating well. Doctors are great at things like diagnosing disease, performing surgery, and prescribing drugs. But I’ve learned that very few are trained in nutrition.

A vegetarian friend of mine who was low on iron started eating meat again—on her doctor’s orders! I told her cashews, kidney beans, quinoa, spinach and tempeh are all great sources of iron. Her doctor never told her that—or even recommended a supplement.

The doctor I saw last week for my checkup was just as bad. When he found out I’m vegan, he told me “it’s the riskiest diet.” He then recommended goat’s milk, since I can’t drink cow’s milk. I had to tell him goats are animals and their secretions aren’t vegan!

He told me to be careful because there are certain amino acids that are found only in meat. I said, “you mean protein?” He nodded. I asked him how cows and other herbivores get their protein. He referred me to a nutritionist.

The truth is, plants have protein. Plant proteins are referred to as “incomplete” only because they don’t match our human amino acid profile. But they are not “incomplete” when it comes to fulfilling our dietary needs.

Not all medical schools require training in nutrition, and the ones that do, require only a few hours. I’ve completed the Plant-based Nutrition Certificate program through eCornell, and while that doesn’t make me an expert, it has given me more nutrition training than most doctors have.

I worry for people who trust doctors blindly. For people considering veganism, a doctor’s warning like the one I heard might convince them not to try it. A whole-food, plant-based diet is a healthy choice—and most doctors aren’t aware.

There was a time when doctors recommended cigarettes as a way to relieve nerves. What doctors say about nutrition likely isn’t gospel. I’m on a quest to find a vegan—or nutritionally-aware—doctor.

Until then, here are a few good resources:

Dr. John McDougall
Dr. Michael Greger
Ginny Messina
Plant-Based Dietitian
PCRM