Hey animal lovers....looking for a meaningful 2012 New Year's Resolution that will help animals? Make this the year that you really put your beliefs into action. Read on for some suggestions...People everywhere will be ringing in the New Year by celebrating the memories of the past year and creating hopes and resolutions for the coming year. This year, how about creating the ultimate resolution to help animals, and I mean really help animals….by leaving meat, dairy and eggs off your plate, or at least reducing your consumption. If you are already a vegetarian, push yourself further-- consider a vegan diet to help end even more cruelty. Involve your family in this resolution-- kids will love being part of something big, and they'll be excited to participate and contribute.
In a society so saturated with meat, dairy and eggs, it’s easy to understand why people are so reluctant to change their eating habits. Most of us have grown up eating animal products, so it’s what we’re used to and comfortable doing. And most of us have never questioned it; it’s the norm. We can’t underestimate the power of habit and tradition-- it is perhaps the greatest deterrent to change. But it’s a new year….and you’re looking for a meaningful change, right? You can make a change for some animals who desperately need an ally, while also helping the environment and even your own health. It's a win-win (and win!).
New Year’s Resolutions guaranteed to make a positive difference for animals:
Meatless Mondays: Give up meat (and dairy and eggs) just one day a week. Check out the official Meatless Monday website for tips, resources, support and recipes. In addition to individuals, many hospitals, restaurants, K-12 schools and universities are participating in Meatless Mondays, including all 14 of restaurateur, Mario Batali’s restaurants across the country. Sign the pledge.
Swap out: Swap out a few animal products in your kitchen for vegan products. For example, switch out your Land O’ Lakes butter for Earth Balance which is sold in most mainstream supermarkets. Switch out cow’s milk for soy milk or almond milk; many brands actually contain 50% more calcium than cow’s milk. I also highly recommend the Boca chik’n patties which are also sold in most supermarkets.
Go Vegetarian: Don’t waste time remembering which days you can eat meat, and which days you can’t. Keep it simple and just ditch meat entirely to help animals every day. You can also download a Vegetarian Starter Kit online, or order one through the mail. Read through this list of 101 Reasons to go Veg for inspiration.
Go Vegan: Be the person that doesn’t want to be connected to animal cruelty in any shape or form; the person who refuses to buy products that contribute to animal suffering. Drop meat, dairy and eggs from your diet. It’s easier now more than ever… there are tons of meat alternatives that taste just like the “real” thing, and there are also substitutes for milk, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and cheese. And when you focus on veggies, grains and other plant-based food, a whole new palette of flavors will be waiting for you. Check out this post I wrote for Girlie Girl Army about stepping it up; it also includes suggestions for common food substitutes.
21-Day Vegan Kickstart: Want to test the waters first before diving right in? Then sign up for The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) free 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. You’ll receive a meal plan, tips and recipes. There is also an online community forum to connect with others, get support, and have your nutrition questions answered by PCRM experts. You can also download the free iPhone app that compliments the online program. There’s really no good reason not to try this, especially if you call yourself an “animal lover.”
_ The American Dietetic Association (ADA), the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals has given the stamp of approval not only to a vegetarian diet, but also a fully vegan diet. In their own words … It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases…well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.
It’s always easier to do this with a buddy, so encourage a friend or coworker to join you. Or involve your whole family and make this a special, fun mission that your kids will be excited about participating in. But if you can’t find anyone to join you, be strong on your own, and consider the animals you are saving to be your “buddies.” You’re doing it for them, afterall.
Here are a few vegan recipe sites to get you started: VegWeb, VegNews, PCRM, All Recipes, Vegsource, PETA, The Kind Life (Alicia Silverstone), Post Punk Kitchen, and Meet the Shannon’s who are veganizing The Betty Crocker Cookbook!
There are also tons of vegan blogs filled with every recipe you can imagine, so google until you find what you’re looking for. To get started, kick off the New Year with this amazing vegan mac & cheese. It doesn't contain any cheese (real or fake!). It's healthy, and soooo delicious. I make it for my family on the holidays, an everybody LOVES it!
Don't forget to pick up a copy (or order a subscription) of VegNews: the leading source for all things vegetarian/vegan.
_You may also want to stock up on some items to make it easier for you. So check out these two great online vegan websites: Pangea Vegan Store and Vegan Essentials. They sell food, vitamins, personal care, home products, cruelty-free cosmetics, books, bags, shirts, gifts and much more.
Remember, this isn’t about perfection. It’s about making a positive difference for animals whenever and wherever you can. It’s about voting with your dollars. If you “fall of the wagon” get right back up again and don’t give up on yourself….or the animals.
Happy New Year…may it be filled with compassion and respect for all!
Attention parents....and educators! Michelle Carr from PETA gives us some tips and ideas for getting kids involved in helping animals. Order free materials and get started right away!
Guest post by Michelle Carr from PETA
Kids have the desire and the power to create an animal-friendly world. However, the mistreatment of animals, from factory farms to the circus, makes it challenging for them to understand the importance of compassion. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has an entire website dedicated to kids
, and it's packed full of animal-friendly games, contests, and ways to help animals. You can also sign up for the PETA Kids E-News
so that we can send you tips and suggestions on how to incorporate activism into your child's everyday life.
Kids naturally don't want to see animals get hurt, but how can kids get active for animals? The best way to help animals is simply to stop eating them! From chicken-free nuggets
to soy grilled cheese
, there are so many vegan options out there that kids will never miss eating animals! Need some more ideas? There are a ton of resources for cruelty-free eating that you can find here
. Yum!A FEW IDEAS FOR GETTING KIDS INVOLVED IN HELPING ANIMALS
1) If you live with an animal companion, take your dog out for a long walk with your child and show him or her how to respect Fido by giving him the care and attention that he deserves.
2) Passing out leaflets also helps animals. You can make your own
or order some
3) Set up an information table outside your local mall or library with your child, and hand out leaflets about cruelty to animals. This fun activity will provide you with the opportunity to bond with your child while standing up for an important cause!
4) Join a local protest against the circus or some other animal issue that kids are interested in.
ORDER The Kids' Guide to Helping Animals
Are you or anyone you know an educator? PETA has a humane-education division, TeachKind
, which is a great resource for teachers, administrators, and librarians who want to help teach children respect for all animals. TeachKind offers free lesson plans
as well as free materials
such as books, DVDs, posters, coloring pages, stickers to K-12 and college educators that will help put empathy and compassion for animals in the classroom.
Teaching children respect for all animals will create a kinder world, and with these two great resources, PETA Kids
, you can help animals live happy lives.
If you are a parent or educator, please visit our website and order materials so we can help you get your kids involved in helping animals!
Michelle Carr is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a Bachelors degree in Sociology/Social Psychology. Michelle currently works for PETA and is the founder of No Animals Harmed (http://noanimalsharmed.com/), a blog dedicated to compassionate living. Michelle resides in Los Angeles, with her rescued companion dog, Callie.
Want to make traditional vegan christmas cookies? Check out this recipe below for roll-and-cut sugar cookies from "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar." They are fun to make and taste delicious!
Charlotte and her cousin, Pike spent a cold, December evening all cozy inside making Christmas cookies with Grandma and Grandpa. Flour dusting the kitchen floor (and the kids' hair and clothes!), Charlotte cramming chunks of batter in her mouth at record speed, Pearl the dog licking the table, sugar sprinkles flying through the air, and elbows pushing one another to get to the cookies. Complete chaos! But in the end we had some very happy kids and a delicious batch of peppermint-flavored cookies to show for it! And that's what it's all about!
Roll-and-Cut Sugar Cookies
- Recipe from the book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup margarine, slightly softened (like Earth Balance "butter" sticks)
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract (you can also use almond, maple or any other flavor)
1/4 cup vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder and set aside.
In a larger bowl, cream the shortening, margarine and sugar with electric beaters until the mixture gets all soft and fluffy, for at least 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure everything mixes in. Now beat in the vanilla and lemon (or other) extracts and the soymilk to combine. Beat in half the flour mixture until moistened, then carefully mix in the remaining flour mixture to form a soft dough.
Divide the dough into two discs about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a large, clean work surface. Roll the dough to a 3/8in. thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. If the dough seems too stiff to roll or cracks too much, let it rest at room temperature for 10min, then try rolling again.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cookies have just started to turn golden brown around the edges.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool for five minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
- from Vegetarian Times
3 cups confectioners' sugar
3 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vanilla soymilk
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
Mix all together and decorate with sparkling sugar or sprinkles.
I especially liked the peppermint extract in the icing-- it really gave the cookies a seasonal flavor. They tasted like candy cane cookies!
Want to try a mac & cheese that is not only healthy for you and your family and delicious, but also one that doesn't contain ingredients that contribute to animal suffering? Then try this delicious prize-winning recipe below from Gretchen Primack. You'll love it, and everyone you serve it to will too!
While perusing facebook I came across this recipe for vegan macaroni & cheese. There are lots of recipes out there (many of the best ones contain the new, melty-gooey vegan cheese, Daiya), but this specific recipe caught my eye because it said that it won 3rd prize in a mac & cheese contest, and the judges had no idea it was even vegan! So in other words...it beat out others that contained real cheese! I knew then that I had to try it. So I did, and loved it. So did my daughter (see picture below). This is now a staple at family holidays, and my family LOVES it...and they're my most honest critics!
Charlotte eating mac & cheese for dinner
Here is Gretchen’s Velvet Vegan Joy Mac n Cheese which she tweaked from a VegNews recipe. Vegan or not, you will love it! Enjoy!
- 8 oz macaroni
- 3 slices of bread torn into large pieces
- 1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp. + 1/3 cup Earth Balance
- 2 Tbsp. chopped shallots
- 1 cup peeled, chopped potatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped carrots
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sliced onion
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1/4 -1/3 cup nutritional yeast* (highly recommended, but optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1) Cook the macaroni in plenty of salted boiling water just until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
2) In a food processor, whir the bread, garlic powder, and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
3) In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, 1/3 cup onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
4) While those are simmering, fry the 1/2 cup sliced onions in olive oil. Set aside.
5) In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, rest of the margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and their cooking water to the blender along with the nutritional yeast and process until perfectly velvety smooth.
6) In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a casserole dish, top with fried onions, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top is gently browned.
* In case you don't know about this wonder food, nutritional yeast is a cheesy, flaky/powdery condiment that is packed with protein, B vitamins, calcium, and other minerals. (It's often in a shaker at cool movie theaters because it's so great on greasy popcorn, the flavor is wonderful when it's mixed with fatty stuff.)
Looking for a New Year's Resolution? Dump dairy (yes, including cheese)! Start by making thhis recipe. Your body will thank you for it...and so will the animals. Need more convincing....read my post on PETA.
Post written by Robyn Moore
Greyhound racing is a cruel "sport" in which animals are forced to race around tracks for the sake of entertainment. The wonderful Christine Dorchak, the President of GREY2K USA is raising awareness about the abuse that these dogs endure in the dog racing industry, and is fighting on the front lines to end this cruelty. Read her inspiring post below to find out how you can help.
Guest post by Christine Dorchak, President of GREY2K USA
My name is Christine Dorchak and I am a dog lawyer. That’s right, I went to law school just so that I could help dogs. As President of GREY2K USA Education Fund, my specialty is greyhounds. Every day, I work to pass laws to end dog racing and save the gentlest dogs in the world from lives of terrible cruelty.
At racetracks across the country, greyhounds are kept confined in warehouse-style kennels, inside small, stacked cages which are barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. If you can imagine being in a small elevator for 20-23 hours a day, then you will know how a greyhound feels all the time.
When let out of their cages to race (and for people to bet on), these poor dogs face the risk of terrible injury. They suffer broken legs, they break their necks, and they also experience paralysis, seizures and heart attacks. There are twenty-two dog tracks in the United States, and thousands of dogs get injured each yeah while racing. And sadly, a dog who is injured may not be adopted.
I know what it is like to get hurt because when I was younger, my dog Kelsey and I were run down by a speeding train. I hurt my back and could not get up by myself for a long time. I had to learn to walk and talk all over again because my injuries were so severe. Kelsey broke her hip and actually had it surgically replaced. Boy, did we need help!
Unlike many greyhounds, we were given a second chance, something which we really appreciated. That is why we decided to dedicate our lives to ending dog racing. We want all greyhounds to live like other dogs, in loving homes with adoring families, and not be killed when they no longer make money. You can see my story and meet my dogs Kelsey and Zoe here.
If you would like to join our team, please watch our video and then request one of our activity kits. We will send you a poster, magnet and coloring book! Also, check out our wonderful new books about greyhounds. Pele’s Forever Home tells the story of an adopted greyhound and Daisy’s Great Escape describes the cruelties of the racing life through a greyhound’s eye. You can order these online right here.
Lots of kids have been working to help greyhounds and you can encourage your kids to help too! A wonderful group from the Prospect Academy in Cambridge, Massachusetts even made a movie! Watch it now. Although my dear Kelsey passed away at the age of fifteen, she lives on in the work we do at GREY2KUSA and the GREY2K USA Education Fund. Today, Zoe and I and the whole greyhound team work each day to fulfill Kelsey’s promise to give greyhounds the second chance they deserve.
Thank you to Christine and the rest of her team at GREY2K USA for shining a spotlight on the suffering of greyhounds in the dog racing industry.
Editor's Note: Read my review of Pele's Forever Home at Vegbooks.
Christine A. Dorchak is the President and General Counsel of GREY2KUSA. She has worked as Research Director for the New
England Anti-Vivisection Society and is a former manager of the Ellen Gifford Sheltering Home for Cats. In her free time Christine hosts a local community television program and enjoys spending time with her four cats and greyhound Zoe. A long-distance runner all of her life, she has competed in six Boston Marathons to date.
Josh Latham poured his heart and soul into creating a completely vegan gingerbread house. After 3 months of trial and error (including finding a secret food ingredient that works like cement to hold the house together!), he created an ebook filled with recipes, directions and patterns for the most unique, amazing vegan gingerbread houses! Find out how to create a traditional Granny house, cottage, chalet, mansion, mountain retreat and more....and a very special gingerbread house designed just for RaisingVegKids.com readers!
Guest post by Josh Latham, creator or MyVeganCookbook.com
Hi, my name is Josh Latham. I run a vegan recipe website called My Vegan Cookbook. My twin brother and I became vegetarian at age 11. We were both pretty finicky eaters before this decision. I always thought that meat was gross and sort of pushed it around my plate. But there was one incident in particular that really changed me. My mom had me help her prepare a chicken for dinner. She wanted me to pull the skin off the chicken for her while she chopped vegetables. I took a knife and started to trim the skin but my hands froze. I was suddenly struck with the realization that this used to be a living and breathing creature. I studied the chicken and felt a deep sadness and empathy for him. It was then and there that I woke up. I could no longer deny what meat was. Along the way, I had a few set backs to becoming vegetarian, and my mom thought I was just going through a phase, but after a year she realized she was going to have to start cooking vegetarian meals or else it would just get tossed out. It wasn't until I read The China Study in 2006 that I realized I wasn't doing myself or animals any favors by drinking cow's milk, and eating cheese and eggs. And so I began the year long, slow transition to complete vegan.
Geek Boy Gingerbread House
I was excited to be invited as a guest blogger on this blog because I am a kid at heart. My wheels started turning immediately as to what special gingerbread house I could create that would appeal to kids and young adults. I love all things geek, gingerbread and Kawaii, so I decided to combine all three. And so was born the Geek Boy Gingerbread House!
His eyes are open wide inside his thick glasses. The expression on his mouth is agape and his arms are flailing. Looks like he got that special tech gadget that he asked Santa for! Geek boy's look is finished off with a plaid pattern on his roof and a red bow tie.
To make this gingerbread house you first need to read through my free Vegan Gingerbread Houses ebook. This will give you a better understanding of the materials and recipes needed to construct a gingerbread house. You will find all the basics here, as well as other designs for houses in case you want to choose another style. There's a house for everyone's taste (pun intended) in there!
Download the pattern and instructions for the Geek Boy Gingerbread House.If making a real gingerbread house is too much work, you can make one out of paper. Download, print, color with markers or crayons, and assemble the model of the Geek Boy Gingerbread House here.
Note from RaisingVegKids.com
After finding Josh's website online, I knew instantly that I had to make one of his gingerbread houses with my daughter, Charlotte. The photos of the houses in his ebook are all beautiful so it was very hard to choose, but I finally decided on Granny's House because it was clean and classic. Charlotte is only 15 months old, so I naturally did the bulk of the work, but she had fun mixing the ingredients....
......and a great time decorating the house with her friend, Linda.
About half way into the decorating, Charlotte realized that you could actually eat the candy! So that was the end of that...
After we finished decorating (and eating) the house, Charlotte stepped up onto her chair and admired her masterpiece from afar! I think she was happy with how it turned out!
Josh's step-by-step directions and recipes were organized, and easy to follow. He worked hard and put many hours into this project, and it shows. So if you are looking for a gingerbread house to make for the holidays, look no further. It's all right here.
A BIG thank you to Josh for sharing his genius project and for helping to make the world a kinder place one gingerbread house at a time.
Read Ruby Roth's (author of That's Why We Don't Eat Animals) exclusive post for RaisingVegKids.com. She shares fantastic tips and advice for parents raising veg kids. This is a must-read for all veg parents!
Guest post by Ruby Roth, author of That's Why We Don't Eat Animals
Congratulations on raising vegan kids! You’re setting your offspring on the best path possible in this day and age. While the rest of the children in this country are getting fat, ornery, and cataleptic, brain-fried on string cheese and Big Macs (you know what I’m talking about, you’ve seen these people grown), you’re stacking your cards in your family’s favor for health, for animals, intelligence, and for the future of the planet. The thought makes my heart sing.
That's Why We Don't Eat Animals by Ruby Roth
Now, prepare for battle. Veganism, while most people have at least heard the word by now, is still new to the mainstream, so at many times, you and your family will be alone facing the firing squad at school, on the playground, at the doctor’s office. Whether they take aim with “Veganism is deprivation, practically child abuse” (Yes, I’ve actually been on the receiving end of this one) or “…but cows need to be milked to be healthy” (yep, this one, too) or “Oh, wow, that’s great! But you’ve got to watch out for calcium deficiency,” you will unavoidably hear a gamut of opinions from armies of the unaware and misinformed.
You’ll need ammunition, not only to respond in the moment, but to support your own commitment to veganism in the face of
challenges and keep a solid foundation of support for your child. The best ammunition is not only education but theory and insight beyond factual knowledge. Do memorize some facts and figures for your conversations with others. But when it comes to vegan longevity and supporting your kids in this lifestyle, it’s wildly more important to focus on creating a home environment
that values thinking outside the box; a home that has discussions, shares thoughts and opinions, and seeks new knowledge together. This kind of education lasts a lifetime and provides big-picture support even when you’re in the minority. Studying any and all subjects to support your lifestyle and teaching your children independent, critical thinking is key in a vegan household.
Parents, keep educating yourselves; make yourself your own authority figure so that you can decode and compete with the “expert" teachers, doctors, politicians, your neighbors (you can easily know as much as they do, and more!). Being well-read in a number of subjects including nutrition, healing, economics, civil rights, philosophy, religion, ancient civilizations, etc., will inform your veganism from all angles. Read things you agree with as well as opposing viewpoints. The more we uncover truths, the more knowledge we have in our arsenals, and the more we are“veganized” the more ammunition we amass to support
our path. We should always be reading. Pick a book in one area of the library and jump around from there.
Arming your kids is simple…and fun. Share what you learn. Expose them to different ideas and talk about them all. Make it a habit to initiate discussions when good opportunities arise. When you see a “happy” cow image on a milk carton, when you’re shopping for cruelty-free shampoo, when a McDonald’s commercial appears during Sesame Street, when you’re buying organic produce; talk about these moments and ask for your child’s help and participation. Ask questions, and find out their opinions and thoughts. Merely bringing up these subjects allows a child to think critically and formulate their own ideas outside the box.
Educating your family this way creates a strong support system and confident kids who are able to seek out information. More than their peers, your vegan children, even by first grade, will have had the space and opportunity to think through a number of ideas that most kids aren’t exposed to until they are in high school or college. They won’t be vegan simply because they mimicked you, but because they gained insight and knowledge about animals and our food systems at a young age. They will have learned to apply an independent, discerning eye to everything that comes their way in life. Congratulations…and thank you!
Ruby Roth is an artist and author living in Los Angeles. A vegan since 2003, Roth was teaching art in an after-school program when the children’s interest in healthy foods and veganism first inspired her to write That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals. She has studied the emotional lives of animals, nutrition, and the health and environmental benefits of veganism and raw foods for seven years.
One of our Vegan Dad supporters created the perfect vegan gift basket for the holidays--see his post below for details. Buy one for a friend or family member (good for a new or seasoned vegan), and send one to your Doctor’s office, Veterinarian, local animal shelter, or anyone else that you think deserves a thoughtful basket of cruelty-free treats. This offer is only good until 12 Midnight, EST on Dec 7th, so hurry and place your order
Are you stumped on what to give to that wonderful vegan in your life this holiday? Vegan Bodega is offering a vegan, mail order gift basket for a limited time. We at Vegan Bodega created this collection from some of our favorite items. Some items are fancy, some are enough to share, some are sweet, and all are delicious.
What is included in this one-of-a-kind gift basket?
Cavi-art- Seaweed caviar
Food For Lovers- Original Queso
Bee-Free Honee- Bottle of "honee" made from apples
Food Should Taste Good- 1Multi-grain & 1 Blue corn chips
Sweet & Sara- Marshmallow Snowman
Rescue Chocolate- 1 Fix bar (a bar of dark chocolate)
Desiderio Chocolate- Box of chocolate covered caramels and nougat
Obsessive Confection Disorder- Caramel Not-Corn
Forgo the crowds and order stress-free online.
Place your orders here: Gift Basket for Mail Order & Gift Basket for Pickup in NYCHappy Holidays to all!
Eric Hopf, a stay at home father with a 1-year-old daughter, is working toward opening the first vegan convenience store in New York City. He and his family are vegan and love to share their delicious food finds with others. Eric feels that food is one of the best ways to engage someone in conversation about veganism.