Going to be at Dufferin tomorrow

We have fresh whitefish and Andrew kept one whole just incase someone was hoping to stuff it with something.  The smoker was successful but I did one flavour only.  I did just regular but with whitefish and lake trout.  Now I need to go veg for a while and begin to start hoping the van makes the journey safely. 
We didn't put the nets back into the bay so no market on Saturday.  The winds are going to pick up tomorrow and we can't afford to take the chance.  It will give us the chance to get the boys back to school stuff.  I am sure they have grown just a bit....  :)
See you soon and just a hint, we don't have a whole lot of fish.....

I'm not liking our Explornet right now.  It went out last night (just as Colin was trying to do stuff) and is just back now.  No reason, just no internet  :(

Here's my project from last week to join Ginny, I just cast it off last night.  I was tired of doing 'have-to' knitting and large projects.  I just wanted something fun and easy.  So I pulled out some Bernat Chunky from my stash and started a baby surprise jacket.  It looks about a 24 month size.  Hopefully it will sell at market, I have a hard time selling my knitting around here.

We're reading a new book for Ella.  It's by Beverly Lewis called Just Like Mama.  I love reading Mennonite/Amish books with Ella.  We may be Anglican, but our farm life looks more like theirs than most other children's books out there.  I also like that it shows Ella she can do anything she wants in a dress -contrary to modern society.

For those of you with Ravelry accounts, check out this pattern.  I can't decide whether it's 'me' or not.

Collard Green Lasagna

I'm getting excited for fall. So excited, that I've already started building my Fall Recipe Arsenal even though it's not even September yet. Fall foods are my most favourite. Squashes and casseroles and pumpkin pie spice all over everything.

While it's still way too early (and too hot) for butternut squash soup, I figured there was no harm in sampling a little of the upcoming plethora of comfort food awaiting my stomach over the next couple months. So to start, I picked a cooler, rainier afternoon and made a lasagna!

Lasagnas always seem to be way more work than they actually are. They are pretty much the perfect meal, though, because they can be made in advance and warmed up for dinner. Or they can be made by the truckload and frozen individually for the quick mid-week microwave/toaster-oven dinners that we all succumb to, at least once in awhile.

They also provide the perfect opportunity to up the nutrient value of your dinner. And not only up it, but hide it from particularly picky palates. While I love seeing bright colours on my plate, it's just as easy to puree the greens, beans and tofu and hide them in the tomato sauce for the Picky Mickey in your life.

I used collard greens in this lasagna. I like using them in lieu of other greens from time to time. They end up overshadowed by kale, cabbage and spinach so often that I don't feel they get the proper superfood credit that they deserve. Rich in antioxidants, collard greens are known to help lower cholesterol/provide cardiovascular support and studies have also shown that, by virtue of their antioxidants, they play a role in cancer prevention too. Right off the bat we are looking at two of the major killers connected to the Standard American Diet. Not to mention that collards are a substantial source of calcium, Vitamins A, C & K, folate and dietary fiber. You can learn more about them here.

I'd love for you to try this recipe with the collard greens, but I'm sure spinach or kale would provide delicious subtitutes too.

The lasagna's "heartiness" comes from this - mashed white kidney beans and crumbled firm tofu.

If you're feeling especially ambitious you can go right ahead and make your own tomato sauce. Or you can just use your favourite - this one is mine!

Put it all together and you've got yourself quite the lasagna filling.

And the layering game begins.

The recipe comes from CalciYum, an old plant-based cookbook that no one seems to blog about. I don't think I've ever been able to find a digital copy of any of the recipes and I've tried lots of them (check out the CalciYum tag). I really like this book and its focus on working out nutritionally-balanced meals while providing tons of information on which ingredients provide you with the most bang for your buck calcium. I think it would be a great edition to your cookbook shelf.

That being said, I hope the authors don't mind me sharing this particular recipe. You know me, I never, ever post that which is not mine - but I do think CalciYum needs a spot in the vegan blogosphere and I hope the authors don't mind. They haven't sued me yet so I hope we can keep this trend going!

Lazy Day Lasagna (slightly modified from the original that is found in CalciYum)

10 whole wheat lasagna noodles

1 can white kidney beans, drained

1/2 block tofu, crumbled

1 bunch collard greens, lightly steamed

2 jars tomato sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 1/2 cups mozzarella Daiya (or vegan cheese of your choice)

1) In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook lasagna noodles for 8-10 minutes until tender but firm. Rinse under cold water and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, mash the beans. Add the tofu. Mix well. Stir in collard greens, pasta sauce and garlic.

3) Pour tomato mixture to coat bottom of baking dish. Layer with noodles, then sauce, then Daiya. Repeat layering until ingredients are used up. The top layer should be Daiya.

4) Bake uncovered at 350F for 45 minutes.

And that's it! Pretty simple, and it leaves enough room for you to play with it. Freshly chopped tomatoes, onions, zucchini, grilled eggplant, even broccoli - all of these would be great editions to this already great lasagna.
I have fish defrosting and brine is made.  Andrew is hoping the winds will calm by tonight which they are calling for.  I don't know about the van but we have taken it out a couple of times without it misbehaving. 
I will smoke up only whitefish and lake trout in our original flavour.  Hopefully Andrew finds the fish and tomorrow we will know what the catch is. 


Remember this little girl?  

So sweet....

So cute....

So photogenic.

Well, she's discovered that when the camera comes out (real or pretend) she's supposed to smile. 

Forced smile #1

Forced smile # 2

This is going to make taking good family shots next to impossible.

We think she's been taking lessons from her older sister.

I don't really know what I'm supposed to write.  Heck, I don't even know what I'm supposed to do.  Everything is rather muddled, as it usually is by the time I hit the last few hours of 'decision making time' for any decision.  I hate my indecision.  I hate the confusion.  I hate not knowing. 

Part of me wishes I had all the answers, and yet I know (somewhere inside my thick skull) that I have THE answer: God.  He knows.  He has a plan.  He's figured it all out.  I just still... don't know what to do.

So I sit here, waiting for some message to pop up on the screen or some voice to come bellowing from somewhere, or someone to hand me a road map with a big red X on it for where I'm supposed to go (along with a timetable, please).  Or maybe they could just say "God says finish this.", or "God says put it behind you and go do XYZ." 

My tummy feels funny.  It's that weird, nauseous (or 'oogy', as we call it in my family) feeling that somehow goes along with really craving ice cream and chocolate.  Except I think if I did I'd feel worse, so scrap that idea.  Somehow it's a desperate longing for fulfillment, even if extraordinarily temporary.  I'm so vulnerable.  And humiliated, before the Lord.

Oh Jesus... please.  Please!!!

Trusting His Royal Imagination,

Holy Watermelon

The first of Colin's watermelon harvest.  This bad boy weighs in at 50lbs.  I'm not sure why he grew this kind, he's the only one to eat watermelon.  He's got 8 more, nearly as big!  Watermelon anyone??

My birthday is in two weeks and all I want is a painted stairwell and a new bookshelf to put in it. How old am I?!

I was off work yesterday, so we went to the nearest Ikea in search of said bookshelf. The nearest Ikea is in Burlington, so after finding the bookshelf and putting some serious Tetris skills to work in an attempt to fit in into my little car, we drove a few streets over to Kindfood.

I knew I'd like the place the second I walked into it - it features my favourite colour scheme of pink and green. The walls are covered with thought-provoking messages about living compassionately and the floor features "Famous Vegan" facts that you can catch up on while you're waiting to get to the front of the line.

One of my personal favourite Famous Vegans!

The restaurant was featured on a local morning television program yesterday so we picked quite a busy day to stop by - it didn't phase the staff, though, because the food was delicious and everyone we interacted with was so friendly and enthusiastic, helping us choose between the many amazing options listed on their menu.

I got the OMG Grilled Cheeze!

From the menu: Oozing with Daiya cheese, vegan chipotle mayo and organic ketchup

Paul got the KIND Burger

From the menu: Grilled Tempeh burger with Daiya cheese, sliced tomato and romaine, with home-made

vegan mayo and served on multi-seed sourdough bread
. He also added on avocado slices and bac'n bits!

For dessert we got Ice Cream Sandwiches! Perfect for following up a patio lunch on a hot and sticky day.

Everything was amazing! After our trip to L.A. and the tragic realization that we will probably never eat like that again (or at the very least, for a very, very long time), we are so relieved that Kindfood is only about an hour or so away from our front door.

A friend offered us a really great tip about bringing a cooler along with us. Kindfood has a little mini-market as well as tons of freshly-baked goods that you will want to sample but physically can't immediately following your lunch (well, you can, but in doing so you run the risk of popping a button or two and having to drive home in your underwear).

These are the goodies we brought home:

Cookie Sandwich!

Dulce de Leche cupcake (which got a bit mangled in the cooler, but survived!)


399 John St.

Burlington, Ontario

(905) 637-2700

Farm Girl Friday -26 August 2011

Joining the ladies at Farm Girl Friday!

Today's post is about the end of an era.  One that had a big impact on farming.  The rail road!    Neither Canada nor the United States would be the countries they are today without the cross country rail lines.   It's hard to imagine what this country would have looked like if those hard working men hadn't risked life and limb to lay down the 14,000 or so miles of Canadian Pacific Railway track.  In fact, the rail line in the Ottawa Valley pre-dates CP rail as it was laid down by the lumber barons in the early years.

Well, this piece of history is nor more.  For about a month they have been busy ripping up the rails and ties.
They are very efficient at taking up the rails.  The machine starts pulling and whole long sections of rail just basically load themselves onto the rail cars.  They are pulling up the track behind them as they go along.
They have another vehicle that came along and picked up the ties and made them into neat piles.  They are still waiting to be picked up. 

Our crossing has been removed.  And I certainly hope they plan on coming back and cleaning up the mess.  All the ties from the crossing were dumped down beside the rail bed -and right in front of the culvert that runs under the road!  Not terribly bright of them.  I'm sure it will get blocked and flood the road.  I emailed our Whitewater Region about it (since it's their road), but as of yet, the mess is still there.  How much you want to bet Colin will have to do something about it??

While the historian part of me hates to see the trains go, the mother in me is glad.  You see how close the tracks are to the house?  This picture was taken from the front steps.   We have enough vehicles in and out of our yard and now I have one less thing to worry about running Ella over.  Also, I used to worry about the state of the tracks and having a train de-rail.  You really don't want to know some of the things that go by on the trains.  And finally, I won't miss the whistle.  The trains need to whistle because it's an official crossing over a road -I get that.  What drove me nuts is when they start whistling at the bridge and keep going till they are past our neighbour's driveway!!  When Ella was  a baby we always had to make a mad-dash for the door every evening just before 10.  If we forgot the train whistle would echo around the house and wake Ella.  Equally disturbing were the trains that didn't whistle at all.  You would be surprised how a train can sneak up on a crossing.

My mother-in-law is upset to see the trains go, but really, I'm enjoying a little more quiet in our corner of the country.
If you didn't know already, Matthew, his wife, and all four of their children, have been staying with us for the past month while they wait to move into their new home.  Added to that, we have had quite a few extra visitors as well so needless to say, I have been busy.  This will explain why I haven't been posting much.  For some of you this is a more than adequate excuse but some nags readers think their needs come first.  You know who you are!  Anyway....today a friend posted a link on my Facebook page that made me laugh out loud and I just had to share it with you.  I especially liked the movie case (read the description of the movie above the title).  So basically I am cheating but some bloggers might consider this "featuring".   Thank you Ninon, and the rest of you enjoy!

Here's the link.

Spicy Tofu Triangles on a Cool Bed of Lettuce

I've got a memory card full of pictures of food I've made over the course of this summer that I just haven't gotten around to blogging about. Not because they didn't work out or because I didn't want to share them. Most of the recipes were spectacular and have become regulars in our recipe roster. The reason they haven't been posted yet is just because I haven't had the time to. This summer has presented some serious challenges and admittedly, the majority of my non-work-related attention has gone to helping my dog get healthy.

This is just one of the new recipes that we tried this summer that I wish I had the time to give more attention to here on the blog. But that's part of the real glory of this recipe - it's unassuming, unfancy and uncomplicated. Can be made in a frying pan or on the grill, courtesy of Vegan Express, a cookbook I've given away twice here at TIV and one that I really believe is essential hardware for busy vegans.

I served it on top of some crisp romaine, fresh from the farmer's market. The dressing was a raw ranch, which I've blogged about before and which currently graces the August header for This is Vegan. Yum!

No digi copy of this one, kids, so off to Amazon you go!

Joining the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter for another week of Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real.
Pretty and Happy
The wild asters are starting to bloom.  Not only are the pretty with their delicate purple.  But they make me happy too.  Asters are one of my favourite flowers and a sure sign that the good weather (i.e., autumn) is coming and I can see the beginning of the end of the hot, humid, can't breathe or move weather  :)
Leopard got himself stuck up in the cedar tree.  For TWO days, he sat up there and cried.  I know, he's poorly named  :)  I tried to help him down, but I could only find the 6 ft step ladder and couldn't reach him.  Colin eventually found a long 2x4 that could reach the branch and Leopard finally climbed down.   Meanwhile, the little kittens are climbing up the tree to see what's going on and coming down again.
My house is being over-run by Smurfs!!  Ella and Grandma have been collecting all the creatures from Mc Donald's.   Ella thinks they make good 'decoration' so I find them all over the place.  We really wanted to get Farmer Smurf, but can't seem to find him any where.

One more real to share:

Only 4 more months till Christmas  :)

Sorry we won't be down to Dufferin or Wychwood this week.  Van is still down.  Took it for a short run the other day but it continued to misbehave.  Not to sure what the plans are if the van continues to give us issues. 

10,000 Tastes, 10 Billion Reasons

On Wednesday August 10th I volunteered through the Toronto Vegetarian Association at a fabulous event in Yonge-Dundas Square. 10,000 Tastes, 1 Billion Reasons was run jointly by Empathy Unlimited and TVA, and featured Gene Bauer of Farm Sanctuary as part of the FS 25th Anniversary tour. From 12-6 roughly 12,000 people came through Yonge-Dundas Square to nab one of the free veggie dogs supplied by Tofurky and to sample the wares of some great vegan products, such as Sweets from the Earth, Daiya, Vega, NaturA, and of course Tofurky.

I was lucky enough to be working in the Tofurky tent with Tim Dunn, their awesome Canadian sales rep. We had a blast sampling out Tofurky deli slices and chatting with a really wide variety of people. Because of the central location of the event people stopping by ranged from hardcore raw vegans, to the veg-curious, to serious omnivores. It was incredibly interesting to speak with everyone about food choices and the implications of the things we eat on our bodies and the planet.

If I took anything from the day, it was that so many people are open to the idea of reducing their intake of animal products. It was inspiring to witness people who had never tried vegan options, a lot of whom assumed them to be not nearly as delicious as animal products, discover just how wonderful they actually are. The look on people's faces as they found themselves enjoying a vegan deli slice, cookie, or cheese shreds was priceless.

For more information on the Toronto Vegetarian Association, Empathy Unlimited, and Farm Sanctuary simply click on their name.
Wow, there are so many links over at Ginny's Yarn Along this week and it's only 11 am!  It's so much fun to see what the other knitters are working on.  Here's my contribution:

We've had some lovely cool weather for a few days.  I've picked up Grandma's blanket again.  It's only supposed to be a lap blanket, but I'm not sure how big to make it.  Any suggestions?  I really like the Bernat Mosaic.  I may have to get some more and try a Baby Surprise Jacket  I bet it would be beautiful.

I'm reading Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff.  I got it from the library for our holiday but didn't get around to reading it.  It's off to a slow start and needs to pick up soon.  I don't have time for reading books I don't enjoy.

Here's an easy meal to toss in the oven so you can have more knitting/reading time.  It uses a butterflied chicken, our grocery store has been carrying them lately at the same price as a whole chicken.

This chicken comes already seasoned.  They call it wild garlic and herb.  Cut up some root vegetables, I used potatoes, onions and carrots.  Cut them into largish pieces.  I left the carrots whole, just cut in the middle.  I love carrots fresh from the garden.  Sprinkle the vegetables with some oil and toss to coat.  Pile the veggies in the middle of the roasting pan and top with the chicken.  Now you have  a choice here.  You can roast the chicken at 450F for 30-40 minutes or 350 for 45 minutes.  I like the lower temperature because it makes less mess of my oven and less chance to burn the vegetables.

Ella loves dressing, so I made my usual recipe and cooked it in a foil baggie.  To make the baggie, cut off a piece of tin foil twice the size you think you need.  Fold in half lengthwise.  Then fold in half again.  Fold over the sides 2-3 times to make an envelope-type shape.  Spray with a bit of oil and fill carefully.  Fold the top closed and bake with roast for about 30 minutes.

For minimal prep time and just 45 minutes unattended in the oven, you end up with a yummy roast chicken supper.  By the way, the carrots were delicious this way.  They had an almost sweet taste to to them.  Will definitely be doing this again.

Book Report: Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness by Robert Cheeke

Alright. It's safe to say that out of all the topics discussed here at TIV, I have never been more out of my element than with this one. And yesterday, I spent three hours writing a really great, thoughtful, witty piece about this book (not really, but how are you ever going to know?) that Blogger subsequently decided to eat just as I went to post. Conveniently, I also didn't happen to notice that it hadn't been autosaving at all the entire afternoon. Blogger is clearly also concerned about my ability to talk about this. Touché, Blogger. Touché.

But we're going to give it another try because I think the message in this book is really important.

I spent my undergraduate and graduate university years hanging around the sociology department, learning about people. Specifically, my interest was in symbolic interactionism/ethnographic research, a branch of sociology that centres on studying how people interact with one another in the various groups that compose their lives. Learning about different subcultures was my bread and Earth Balance in those days, and a passion I took with me after I left school.

So, when Robert emailed me asking if he could send me a copy of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness I jumped at the chance, not only to help promote the work of one of my fellow vegans, but also because I really love learning about people from all different walks of life. I love discovering what drives them and how they came to be the people that they are.

Naturally, the topic of bodybuilding is interesting to me because it's something I know virtually nothing about and the fact that it is vegan bodybuilding we're talking about makes it all the more intriguing. Robert Cheeke presents a particularly compelling example because he is not a bodybuilder that became a bodybuilder and then went vegan (which is great too, don't get me wrong). This is a story about someone who went vegan and then went on to become a highly accomplished athlete. The veganism came first, eliminating the potential for any dispute regarding how powerful a vegan diet can be.

Since there is very little that I know less about than bodybuilding, reviewing this book based on technique itself would be a tad ridiculous. Instead, I'm going to look at it through my old sociological lens and address why it's so important that we encourage Robert and all vegans in all their varied pursuits – the more things we do, the more ways we can show the world that there is nothing we can't do.

Being that I started the book knowing nothing about bodybuilding, I learned so much about this lifestyle. Robert leaves no stone unturned when it comes to pursuing this type of passion. He provides highly detailed meal plans for every stage of training (Mass-Building, Fat-Burning, Pre-Contest, etc). Furthermore, he discusses more than the plans that he himself follows. He has also prepared meal plans for vegan bodybuilders with gluten and soy allergies and even includes a meal plan for raw vegan bodybuilding. The only option he doesn't give you is animal product:

"If it had a face, a family, and the ability to experience fear and pain, it isn't food. It is the remains of an animal that used to be alive and experience life just as we do. Eat the foods that have caused the least amount of harm to be produced and "harvested" and you'll feel really good about your food choices everyday." (page 101)

Similarly, Robert provides extensive information on training and exercise for all areas of the body. The tips he provides are not all reliant on expensive gym equipment (I say this, because for years I used lack of a gym membership as an excuse to not work out). He discusses alternative types of care for building the body, such as massage therapy and chiropractic treatment. There are also chapters on how to turn your passion into a career and how to attain sponsorship, so that you have the means to pursue it.

Importantly, he also includes sample journal pages for logging nutrition, training and achievements that you are able to photocopy and begin using immediately, in an effort to create notions of accountability and personal responsibility. For me, being accountable for your actions is imperative in the pursuit of any type of goal, be it fitness-related or otherwise. There is something about putting things in black-and-white that makes them more real and makes you less likely to abandon them and I love that he gets you started right away.

If I had to pick a favourite chapter, the one titled "Where Do You Get Your Protein?" is up there. We everyday vegans are constantly bombarded with this question. Can you even imagine how often a vegan bodybuilder gets it? At least in bodybuilding it's somewhat relevent - to pursue their passion bodybuilders need to consume incredible amounts of protein (unlike many of the rest of us, with our low to moderate activity levels, who in turn need low to moderate protein intake).

Initially, I figured a good defense for this increasingly annoying inquiry would be to print off a picture of Robert and glue it to my forehead to fend off all questions about protein deficiency in a vegan diet. Instead I've decided to go with a more subtle method of tackling the age-old protein questions - with a simple "Google Robert Cheeke and click on 'Images'".

Robert's many "responses" to the protein question in this book are thorough and informative without the added snark of some other sources (and myself, quite frankly - God I hate the protein question!!!!). Although I do enjoy Response #4, which includes a little bit of the sass that I think a question like this deserves:

"Where do you get YOUR protein? How do you monitor your cholesterol intake?" (p. 152)

Really though, his message about handling the protein question with patience is sound and something we vegans should take to heart, regardless of the blood that starts to boil internally when the question is asked. The topic of protein has taken on hostile undertones for us vegans because we've most likely encountered it in a hostile environment at some point - asked as a challenge rather than an expression of genuine curiosity or interest. We have to remember that it's not always coming from that place:

"Care should be taken when answering the question. It would be harmful to the vegan cause to answer rudely or condescendingly. Some people are asking sincerely to truly learn because they innocently don't know better. Others may be asking because they want to know which are your preferred sources, so they can get ideas to incorporate into their diets. When the question is answered rudely and not with a lot of thought or tact, people receiving the answer will have a negative reaction and a negative reaction of veganism." (p. 150)

Another interesting aspect of this book is that Robert highlights the resistance vegan bodybuilders encounter not just from the bodybuilding community, which I suppose is somewhat to be expected because vegan bodybuilders are no doubt the minority, but also from the greater vegan community. As a result, vegan bodybuilders have to defend themselves twice - once to the bodybuilding community, and once to the vegan community, with members who often see bodybuilding as extreme, unhealthy or excessive. In 2011, veganism has become synonymous with weight loss as opposed to weight gain, no doubt as a result of the many folks that have joined our movement in an effort to combat weight-related health complications. Vegan bodybuilders tend to contradict the majority, so I suppose there is bound to be some resistance. Whether or not this is justified seems to be a source of controversy within the vegan community.

In general, there is often debate among vegans regarding the role of health and fitness in the animal rights movement. On the one hand, there is concern that veganism could become a health "trend", based on personal as opposed to compassionate reasons, making it all the more easy to abandon when another trend comes along, while millions of animals continue to be violently destroyed everyday. Conversely, modern health-oriented research about the destructive effect of meat and dairy on the human body have brought so many people to veganism that may not have found us otherwise. Furthermore, many of the people that go vegan for health or personal reasons often develop an interest in helping animals after the fact and are no less passionate about it than those of us who went vegan for the animals in the first place.

I myself went vegan for the animals, first and foremost. The health gains came after and they have transformed my life, but they still come secondary to my belief that using animals for human indulgence (be it for food, be it for entertainment) is unacceptable and if there wasn't the added bonus of optimal health in its most liberating form, I would still be vegan. Lucky for me, the two go hand-in-hand. By respecting the animals and the environment it in turn means respecting what nature intended for our bodies. As a result we vegans as a whole are rewarded with fewer health complications than our omnivorous counterparts.

Coming from an animal rights place, it took me awhile to learn that being healthy is a means of helping the animals. Giving proper attention to being a healthy vegan and taking care of myself means I'm able to focus my attention on animal issues and not on whatever health ailments might be plaguing me now or in the future. This doesn't mean that I don't think there is a place for vegan indulgences. Heaven knows I can pound back a deep fried chick'n sandwich with the best of them. It also doesn't mean that I don't think there is room for passionate vegans of all shapes and sizes - please do not mistake this as a message of body-hate or body-discrimination of any kind. The animals need us all. But for me, something Robert says in his book echoes how I feel about the entire controversial issue and how I will pursue my own personal veganism in the future:

"...We don't always get the opportunity to talk with people to explain ourselves. Most of our visibility is from afar. People see us from distance and form an opinion about us. Non-verbal communication clearly outweighs verbal communication in its ability to influence ideas, opinions and perceptions. How we carry ourselves and present ourselves non-verbally is of very high importance in the future success of our vegan movement. When you are fit or muscular representatives of the vegan lifestyle, you open up doors for others who maybe had an interest in veganism but feared they could never be strong on that diet until they spotted you and learned from your example. That is a pretty powerful position to be in to further the movement." (p. 154-155)

This is Vegan was formed as my way of showing that being vegan is fun, attainable and rewarding rather than limiting. In the future, as I put more focus on my own health than I have in the past, I hope that it can also be an example of the physical benefits of veganism, too. Don’t be mistaken, life is fun because it's fun but it's also fun because I'm well enough to have fun in the first place, a luxury that only the healthy are able to take for granted.

For me, there are two steps to being a successful component of the animal movement. The first is obviously abstaining from the use of animals and speaking against their abuses. The second is to be the best possible You that you can be. Because when you are the best Vegan You that you can be, you feel good physically and mentally, about yourself and the choices you make. Going out into the world feeling this way shines through to the others you encounter and unintentionally conveys an image of veganism as something positive, inadvertently encouraging people to take notice.

We're not all going to be bodybuilders. We're not all going to exist solely on organic wholefoods. But we can take note of what Robert is saying about veganism and extending our passion for helping animals to a passion for helping ourselves thrive, too. In turn we are helping the animals a second time because we are healthy enough to pursue justice for them and also because we are working as positive examples of the vegan life.

And on one final (probably controversial) note, I want to talk a little bit about the gendered component of veganism.

Vegan stereotypes are potent across the board but they are so much stronger with regard to vegan men. It is fairly evident that the concept of western masculinity is defined in terms of strength and size, but many fail to notice the inherent connection between strength and size and notions of dominance within these definitions. In turn, men who speak out against violence against less powerful beings both vocally and in terms of their lifestyle choices are often emasculated by the mainstream.

One could argue that the problem is with the definitions of masculinity/femininity in our culture and it is those that need to change. I spent my university career agreeing with you. But as I get older and as I interact with more people and attain more life experiences, I've learned that the abstract is so much less relevant than the actual. There will always be definitions of masculinity/femininity, so the key is to ensure that they are healthy, productive and not at the expense of the lives of others.

Paul and I are both vegans but his experience as a vegan is completely different from mine. Men are inundated with notions of what it means to be "manly" and vegan men are berated and taunted for their compassionate choices in a different way than vegan women are, in a way that can sometimes be so internalized that it sadly goes unaddressed. So many kind-hearted and compassionate men would never even entertain the idea of veganism because somehow, in our culture, what men eat has come to define who they are as men.

I think it's time we start addressing this gendered component of veganism and the obstacles many compassionate men face when they decide to no longer be a part of a system of violence against animals. I think Robert Cheeke's work, both in terms of this book and his tireless efforts as a motivational speaker, is an important component of dismantling the meat = masculine myth. Robert embodies the traditional traits of masculinity via physical strength and prowess without the added component of actually exerting dominance over other, less powerful living beings. He shows it is possible to participate in traditional masculinity without also subscribing to systems of violence. And that you can, too, if that is the vegan that you envision for yourself.

If you're not a fitness buff, don't let that deter you from this book and learning from Robert's story. This is as much a story of veganism as it is of bodybuilding, and I think all types of vegans can get something from it. Much thanks to Robert for taking an interest in This is Vegan and sending me a copy, I am happy to give it the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval.

You can purchase a copy of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness here, and check out Robert's website here (and check out the cute vegan running shorts he has for sale!). If you're from my neck of the woods, Robert will be speaking at this year's Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair on Saturday, September 10th at 6pm, where he will no doubt be sharing more of his story and offering words of encouragement.

Wow, the years just keep going by faster and faster.  Colin and I have been married 8 years.  Here's the story of how we met.  It's hard to believe that Brittany was Ella's age at the wedding.

This is our favourite engagement picture.  We took them up at Colin's aunt and uncle's (formerly his grandparent's) home.  They have this lovely large window and living room that is perfect for pictures.  Our photographer was Colin's cousin Vicki.  She actually a photographer for show cows.  She does most of the pictures at the Royal.  But she did such a great job with our wedding.

We don't have anything much planned for today.  Colin is busy with more seed cleaning (cleaning hemp out of rye).   He'll come home exhausted and his eyes full of dust.  So he's given me a rain-cheque for a nice supper out, probably later this week.

Happy Anniversary My Love!!


EDIT:  More Pics Added!

So on Saturday I ventured out to create something I've never created before: Sushi!  And boy was it yum.  Words cannot express the yum-ness of sushi.  :-)

First off, I didn't have a bamboo mat to roll with.  Couldn't find one at the time.  Aaand... I forgot to take pictures of the rolling process.  But it was fine without the mat, you can trust me.  :-)

What you'll need:
  • Nori (sheets of seaweed for the outside)

  • Sushi rice

 Possible insides:
  • Crab or artificial crab

  • Thin strips of cucumber

  • Egg

  • Cream cheese (bizarre, but yum!)

  • Soy sauce

  • Mayonaise

  • Carrot

  • Sprouts

  • Tuna

  • Avocado

  • ...or really whatever you want. :-)

Dippy things:
  • Mayo mixed with Sriracha (or any other hot sauce, I think?)

  • Soy sauce

  • Wasabi

  • Soy sauce mixed with Wasabi

Note that you want the whole piece of nori... this is just half, and I had to fix that.

First off, cook up your sushi rice according to the directions.  You want it nice and sticky, but cooked through well.  Lay out your ingredients and slice up any veggies, eggs, and the like, that might be going inside.

LJ?  I miss you.  Your old shirt misses you too.

When the rice is ready, plop some on your waiting nori, and wet a spoon with water to spread it thinly across the nori.  You'll have to keep wetting the back of the spoon if you don't want the rice to just stick to it.  leave a centimeter or so of open nori at the far edge

When the rice is sufficiently thin (this was where I think I would change something, my rice was a little over the top), lay a long line of fillings, but not too much or it will overflow!

Then carefully roll up the sushi, sticking the roll together with the free end of the nori.  Then slice it up with a bread knife or equally sharp and possibly serrated knife. 

Yum yum.  Never mind the fall-apart-y ones, t'was my first time.  :-)

And of course, it would be really sad if you didn't have some pickled pink ginger to go with it.  Because it's incredibly tasty with sushi.  Yum.

Hopefully I haven't scared you off, it's really rather easy.   See?