Category Archives: The Dirty Vegan Truth

The Brave 2 Percent


In speaking to one of my girlfriends I had a bit of an epiphany.  We were talking about the recent (return to) spike in taxes that are taken out of our paychecks and in that I was saying how people don’t really think of 2% as making too much of a difference but when it comes down to a paycheck it’s huge!  Then it hit me.  Now where have I heard 2% before recently…? Oh yes…for the approximately 2% of people in the United States that are vegan and the 5% that are vegetarian (see this Gallup poll for a 2012 study for some more information and some specifics on demographics) we tend to feel very insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  But that’s just it.  We’re not.  Just like the bumper sticker that I so thoughtfully plastered to the inside of my boyfriend’s lunchbox “Vegetarians Are Sprouting Up Everywhere.”  And the idea is to hit those making decisions about our food and the treatment of both animals AND humans for us right where it hurts- square in the pocket.  Silly Big Brother- your Trix aren’t for MY kids (when I have them of course). 


In that very same conversation I was introduced to a site exposing the horrors of a killer whale named Lolita’s reality.  Check it out.


Year-End Survival


Having survived Thanksgiving and Christmas unscathed and vegan head-stong, I think now more than ever is a great time to think about what kind of difference I’m really making (if any).  Sometimes, the line between what I’m doing and the reasons for it get blurred especially since I took in all of the new veg information at once and have taken a little break from the constant reading and reinforcement.  I think its a great time for a little reflection. 

It’s easy to forget why we do things sometimes because of perceived indifference.  If I don’t think that one little action that I do will have any impact, I may not do it because who cares?  If I alone choose to abstain from meat and dairy, factory farms are still going to exist and the animals there are still going to live a short cruel life followed abruptly by a slow cruel death.  Even though I elect to have tofurkey on my dinner plate and soy milk in my latte, some chickens will never see the light of day or the starry sky at night and some calves will never taste their mother’s milk  because she’s busy being exploited so humans can give it to their children with their mac and cheese TV dinners as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.  It becomes all too easy to feel small and helpless in a world that seems far too big for its own good.  But I’ll tell you one thing- I can’t and I won’t believe it’s all for nothing.

If one act of kindness won’t stop all of the evil in the world, why be kind to anyone?  If one compliment to a friend can’t erase all of the hardships she’s suffered, why say anything?  And if you don’t think that one Big Mac with an Extra Large French Fry all washed down with a supersized Coca-Cola is contributing to the systematic exploitation of the animals that are caught in the system or the lower-income families that rely on this garbage for nutrients because fast food chains are conveniently prevalent in ghettos and impoverished neighborhoods, then eat up right? 

Wrong.  People can make the difference.  You can make the difference.  Your money is your vote and never forget it.  People have died so that we have the freedom to make these choices for ourselves but it’s about time we question what we’ve been told all our lives.  Who benefits from misinformation?  Who profits from your consumption?  And most importantly what are you going to do about it?

Vegan Survival and Travel Tips


My heart truly goes out to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy over the past few days and those that will be hindered by her after effects moving forward especially the people in New York and New Jersey who are experiencing awful setbacks (to say the least).  Natural Disasters aren’t ever fair.  Good luck to all those that have lost, and a special thank you to all those that are helping with the relief efforts. 

This disaster got me wondering what I should stock in case another hurricane or other natural disasters were to occur.   I went for a normal food shopping on Sunday night so I would be okay for about 4 days but what if I needed to be planning to be cut off from a stable food supply for more than just a few of days?  What should I have on hand?  There are plenty of angry bloggers that will point to the fact that basic survival doesn’t have anything to do with being vegan or vegetarian, it has ONLY to do with survival so people should do ‘what they  have to do to survive.’  These are the same people (I assume) that won’t mind eating their pets and other human beings in their best self-interest.  I’ll stick to my power bars and dried fruit thank you very much… oh and keep away from my cats you zombie cannibal crazies!

I few internet dwellers had some really good ideas about vegan survival kits (which exclude the obvious: matches, flashlight, utility knife etc.) and focus on food survival.  Below I found a helpful comment on Vegetarians in Paradise along with plenty of other helpful tips to be found there also.  It was kind of an open forum so it was also interesting to read about what different people thought were the most important things to bring.  I tend to agree with below:

“Focus on protein sources”

I’ve thought about a survival kit already, so here’s my take:

  1. Have one kit in the car and one at work, as well as ample stocks at home.
  2. You may be able to get vegan food in a disaster, but you can count on NOT getting vegan protein. For that reason your survival kit should focus on protein sources.
  3. My basics for the car and work are canned beans and bean-based soups, tetrapak soup (Imagine), individual packs of soymilk, vegan (Clif) energy bars and crackers. SELECT LOW-SODIUM ITEMS, AS YOUR DIET MAY CONSIST ENTIRELY OF THESE FOODS. Since you may not have access to fresh fruit or vegetables for a while, also keep some vitamins or (my choice) Emergen-C packets on hand. I also keep a small bottle of spirits (vodka, brandy, etc.). Sometimes it’s just what you (or others) need to relax–and it can be used as an antiseptic.
  4. Plenty of water.
  5. Remember to rotate the perishable foods every few months.
  6. Another item people should store away from home is a can of powdered soy or rice protein. I would assume that for several days, one would have access to bread, crackers, dried and canned fruits etc. from one’s work cafeteria, local stores, people’s houses, etc. The difficult thing will be vegan protein–and vitamin C.

I gave just the basics. One could add dried fruits, tea, favorite cereal, premade tea, etc. “Treats” for bargaining would also be good. But with most of these additions one runs into the problem of things getting stale. Canned and tetrapak items last longer.  D.O. 1-6-06″

I especially like that this post doesn’t leave out the alcoholic beverages- which could prove oh-so-necessary.  I also don’t think I would have thought to bring sweets for the bargaining purposes- but those too may come in handy in the event of an apocalyptic disaster in which I need to trade one of my Gin-Gins for a boat ride.  You just never know!

On a related subject, my boyfriend had gotten called up over the weekend to head over to Cape Cod to work on a storm damage team (again, because of Sandy).  After just one full day, he reported what I had already known to be true- it’s damn hard to be vegan/vegetarian on the road!  This got me thinking about the subject of travel.  Common sense would lead you to believe that you should do some research (Happy Cow is a wonderful tool for this) of the area so you’ll know what you’re up against in terms of restaurants etc., but in his case, he’s moving from place to place with each call without any real opportunity to select a dining establishment (and relying on fast food can be almost impossible).  He’s managing to get by with trips to Subway for their Veggie Delight (vegetarian and vegan-with-a-few alterations) and the supermarket, but this is something that I wish we would have planned better for.  Never listen to a man when he says he’s going to rough it- especially a vegetarian- they need some extra help.

Below is what I should have packed for his trip.  I think it serves as a good guide for every part of the food groups he would need to get adequate nutrition and maintain energy without the help of a stove or oven while he’s driving around for days:  (It will serve as a good grocery list for next time)

  • Soy/rice/almond Milk (if not the fresh stuff that I make at home, the small single serve packs they make that don’t have to be refrigerated)
  • Granola
  • Raw Nuts and Raisins: Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds and some shelled peanuts
  • Vegan Granola Bars: Clif Bars and Luna Bars are both vegan.  They do have refined ingredients in them but are good for the road
  • Nut Butter (Peanut/Cashew/Almond)
  • Blue Corn Chips (Tortilla Chips are typically vegan- just be sure to check the ingredients)
  • Hummus
  • Snack-friendly veggies: cut up carrot sticks or baby carrots, sliced celery
  • Fruit: Anything that can be eaten without much preparation: Apples, bananas, peaches, plums, oranges, grapes
  • Dairy free bread/pita

**I would put everything in a cooler with an ice pack since I know that he’ll be going back to a hotel with a small fridge for the night and he’d be able to re-freeze his cooler pack and refrigerate the fruit and veggies and be able to re-pack the next day.  If he was going somewhere without refrigeration but was still going to have access to the supermarket I wouldn’t pack more than a day or two’s worth of fruit or veggies so that they would stay fresh and he could either visit a market for more or swap them out completely for some dried fruit.

I’m sure the list isn’t perfect and I welcome any additions that you might find useful and necessary.  As always, I am a work in progress.  I wish everyone the best of luck weathering whatever storm they’re up against. 

More on vegan/vegetarian traveling:

I found this very helpful link to Vegetarian Phrases In Other Languages just in case you find yourself traveling abroad or having to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the languages you do.   Or, if you don’t want to try speaking the languages yourself you can try this Vegan Passport with 73 languages explaining your dietary needs to others.  




Nothing Free-Range About It


When people hear that you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, they sometimes like to connect with you and let you know that they love animals too so they only eat meat of a certain standard whether it be cage free eggs or free range hens or something that sounds equally peaceful and humane (do those two words even go together?)  At any rate, unfortunately, that animal loving consumer is being horribly misled in yet another one of the meat and dairy industry’s awesomely executed exploitation endeavors. 

The fault here lies entirely with a heartless industry that has spiraled out of control.  But the fault also lies with the organizations that are (supposed to be) in place to police the farming industry in order to allow for some kind of preservation of dignity and (god-damn) humanity.  Words like Free-Roaming and Cage-Free and even Natural fills the unsuspecting label-reader’s mind with thoughts of a big red barn filled with happy animals that all get to walk and play together.  They are able to justify eating the meat of animals in their minds because at least the animals enjoyed a good, full life up until that very last day.  False.   Unfortunately, guidelines are extremely vague and most of the words they use to describe the packaged flesh is nothing more than a marketing scheme, and guess what- it is genius. 

The Humane Society of the United States provides a detailed description of industry terms that have become popularized over the years.  Take a second to look some of these over and see if it matches up with what you thought it meant.  The truth here hurts. 

“The Labels†

Certified Organic: The birds are uncaged inside barns or warehouses, and are required to have outdoor access, but the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined. They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

Free-Range: While the USDA has defined the meaning of “free-range” for some poultry products, there are no standards in “free-range” egg production. Typically, free-range hens are uncaged inside barns or warehouses and have some degree of outdoor access, but there are no requirements for the amount, duration or quality of outdoor access. Since they are not caged, they can engage in many natural behaviors such as nesting and foraging. There are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. There is no third-party auditing.

Certified Humane: The birds are uncaged inside barns or warehouses but may be kept indoors at all times. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density and number of perches and nesting boxes. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Certified Humane is a program of Humane Farm Animal Care.

Animal Welfare Approved: The highest animal welfare standards of any third-party auditing program. The birds are cage-free and continuous outdoor perching access is required. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density, perching, space and nesting boxes. Birds must be allowed to molt naturally. Beak cutting is prohibited. Animal Welfare Approved is a program of the Animal Welfare Institute.

American Humane Certified: This label allows both cage confinement and cage-free systems. Each animal who is confined in these so-called “furnished cages” has about the space of a legal-sized sheet of paper. An abundance of scientific evidence demonstrates that these cages are detrimental to animal welfare, and they are opposed by nearly every major US and EU animal welfare group. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. American Humane Certified is a program of American Humane Association.

Cage-Free: As the term implies, hens laying eggs labeled as “cage-free” are uncaged inside barns or warehouses, but they generally do not have access to the outdoors. They can engage in many of their natural behaviors such as walking, nesting and spreading their wings. Beak cutting is permitted. There is no third-party auditing.

Free-Roaming: Also known as “free-range,” the USDA has defined this claim for some poultry products, but there are no standards in “free-roaming” egg production. This essentially means the hens are cage-free. There is no third-party auditing.

Food Alliance Certified: The birds are cage-free and access to outdoors or natural daylight is required. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are specific requirements for stocking density, perching, space and nesting boxes. Starvation-based molting is prohibited. Beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Food Alliance Certified is a program of the Food Alliance.

United Egg Producers Certified: The overwhelming majority of the U.S. egg industry complies with this voluntary program, which permits routine cruel and inhumane factory farm practices. Hens laying these eggs have 67 square inches of cage space per bird, less area than a sheet of paper. The hens are confined in restrictive, barren battery cages and cannot perform many of their natural behaviors, including perching, nesting, foraging or even spreading their wings. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. This is a program of the United Egg Producers.

Vegetarian-Fed: These birds’ feed does not contain animal byproducts, but this label does not have significant relevance to the animals’ living conditions.

Natural: This label claim has no relevance to animal welfare.

Fertile: These eggs were laid by hens who lived with roosters, meaning they most likely were not caged.

Omega-3 Enriched: This label claim has no relevance to animal welfare.

Virtually all hens in commercial egg operations—whether cage or cage-free—come from hatcheries that kill all male chicks shortly after hatching. The males are of no use to the egg industry because they don’t lay eggs and aren’t bred to grow as large or as rapidly as chickens used in the meat industry. Common methods of killing male chicks include suffocation, gassing and grinding. Hundreds of millions of male chicks are killed at hatcheries each year in the United States.”

If you need more proof of how downright allusive these industry terms can be, Right from the USDA’s website, they have defined “Free Range or Free Roaming” as:

“Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside”

Wow.  There has to be a better way right?  But what if there isn’t?  The saddest part- there simply isn’t enough space on the Earth for animals to actually live like the consumer of a free-range animal thinks they live with nothing below their tiny feet but grassy fields and blue skies over-head.  As James E. McWilliams points out in his NY Times article, The Myth of Sustainable Meat,

“Grass-grazing cows emit considerably more methane than grain-fed cows. Pastured organic chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming It requires 2 to 20 acres to raise a cow on grass. If we raised all the cows in the United States on grass (all 100 million of them), cattle would require (using the figure of 10 acres per cow) almost half the country’s land (and this figure excludes space needed for pastured chicken and pigs). A tract of land just larger than France has been carved out of the Brazilian rain forest and turned over to grazing cattle. Nothing about this is sustainable.”

 Another huge problem is that there are rarely third party auditors that check these farms for animal cruelty and to make sure they’re living up to their already very low standards.  Just this past Friday, Tyson Foods, Inc. announced that it was planning on starting up an audit program to check animal welfare on their farms.  But as Alisa Manzelli mentions in her article, for the Global Animal,

“So far, audits have only been conducted by Tyson personnel. However, the company eventually plans to involve independent, third-party auditors as well.”

Not to be a pessimist, but, I wonder who is going to be in charge of hiring the third party…

 So there you have it, I’ve presented a case where the free-range that consumers think they’re getting doesn’t exist, and the free-range that they long for is an impossibility.  So what now?  You have to believe that doing small things make a big difference.  For my omnivore readers, Meatless Mondays is a fun way to do your planet a favor and maybe try some new foods that you’ve never had before.  If you need proof of how banning together could change everything, Low Impact Living has an article on their site by Brian Liloia on Why Going Vegetarian For One Day Will Help Stop Global Warming where he point to

“A recent United Nations report concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems — that means all of the globe’s cars, trucks, planes and ships combined.”

I think that people don’t think that they can make a difference (and I’m not completely innocent here either).  It’s easy to feel small in a big world but I think it’s important to do whatever you can to help others along the way.  I’ll leave you with some more statistics from Liloia below. 

“If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

  • 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
  • 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
  • 70 million gallons of gas — enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
  • 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
  • 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;
  • 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;
  • 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;
  • Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.”

Still think you can’t make a difference?  As my loving boyfriend likes to point out, I didn’t become a vegan because it was easy.  You have to crowd out the old traditions and plug in the new. Check out this list of 101 Reasons To Go Vegetarian.

For some more interesting reading:

Check out PETA’s list of companies that Do and Don’t Test on animals.  You’ll be surprised to learn how many products got into your homes that were first tested on our furry friends.  Every dollar you spend is a vote.  Make it count. 

Did you know that Iams tortures animals?  Learn more here.

BOO! (But no reason to be scared of these vegan friendly candies!)


Thank you PETA for sending out this list of vegan friendly candies and treats just in time for Halloween!  Stock up so you can hand out cruelty free candy on the 31st!  Check out their site for some more tips!


Airheads taffy
Brach’s Cinnamon Hard Candy
Brach’s Hi-C Fruit Slices
Brach’s Hi-C Orange Slices
Brach’s Root Beer Barrels
Brach’s Star Brites
Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar
Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar
Cry Babies
Hubba Bubba bubblegum
Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)
Laffy Taffy (some varieties)
Mary Janes (regular and peanut butter kisses)
Mike and Ike
Panda Licorice
Smarties (U.S. Brand)
Sour Patch Kids
Super Bubble
Swedish Fish
Sweet Tarts


Bremner Wafers
Cracker Jacks
Famous Amos Sandwich Cookies (Peanut Butter)
Ferrara Wafer Swirls With Chocolate
Grandma’s Peanut Butter Sandwich Cremes
Hain Apple Cinnamon Rice Cakes
Herr’s Salsa and Lime Tortilla Chips
Keebler Club Crackers
Keebler Vienna Fingers
Kettle White Popcorn
Kool-Aid Gels
Krispy Kreme Fruit Pies
Lance Capitain’s Wafers
Lance Choc-O Cookies
Lance Peanut Bar
Lance Sugar Wafers (Strawberry Creme)
Lance Sugar Wafers (Vanilla Creme)
Lay’s Blue Corn Chips
Lay’s Potato Chips (Natural Country Barbecue)
Lay’s Potato Chips (Thick Cut Sea Salt)
Lay’s Stax
Lay’s WOW! Potato Chips
Lay’s Yellow Corn Chips
Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes
Manischewitz Whole Wheat Matzo, Unsalted Matzo, and Savory Garlic Matzo
Melba Toast (Rye)
Melba Toast (Sesame)
Melba Toast (Wheat)
Microwave popcorn (minus the real butter flavor)
Murray Southern Kitchen Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Nabisco Ginger Snaps
Nabisco Original Graham Crackers
Nabisco Spiced Cinnamon Cookies
Nabisco Teddy Grahams (Chocolate and Cinnamon)
New York Flatbreads (Everything and Garlic)
Nutter Butter Bites
Peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, and Pistachios
Quaker Apple Cinnamon Rice Cakes
Ritz Regular Crackers
Ritz Roasted Vegetable Crackers
Skittles’ Mints
Snyder’s Pretzel Chips (Garden Veggie)
Snyder’s Pretzel Sticks (Pumpernickel/Onion)
Soy Crisps (Barbecue, Deep Sea Salt, Garlic Onion, Salt and Vinegar, and Apple Cinnamon Crunch flavor)
Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos
Stacy’s Pita Chips (Baked, Cinnamon Sugar, Pesto and Sundried Tomato, Taxarkana Hot, and Tuscan Herb)
Sun Chips Original flavor
SunSpire Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds
Toasteds Crackers (Sesame and Wheat)
Tostitos Bite Size Rounds Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Blue Corn Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Crispy Rounds Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Dipping Strips! Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Scoops Tortilla Chips
Baked Tostitos Scoops Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Multigrain Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Natural Blue Corn Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Tostitos Natural Yellow Corn Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
Town House Original Crackers
Trail mix
Wasa Crispbread (Multi-Grain)
Wheat Thins (Original, Multi-Grain, Reduced Fat, and Sundried Tomato and Basil)
Zesta Original Crackers

Every Day is Earth Day- Your Grandkids Will Thank You


Okay, so I always bring re-usable bags to the grocery store, I turn the lights off when I leave a room and I drive a small car that gets pretty good gas mileage.  I do what I can; but every once in a while I wonder if I could be doing more than just recycling my empties at the end of every week.  I took some time to think about small changes I could make in my life that wouldn’t have a huge impact on me or the people around me, but would make some difference to the planet.  Here are a few pledges that I’m committed to:

1. One small fork for the planet, one giant step for planet-kind.  I am going to start carrying a fork in my purse.  That way, at work, even when I’m locked out of the conference room (that has a kitchen where I keep my lunch) I have access to a reusable utensil and I don’t have to resort to plastic.  That goes for all paper and plastic utensils: plates, knives, spoons… even sporks- remember those?  I’m going to eat directly out of my Tupperware and only drink out of my nalgene.  Bye Bye Plastic on the go!

2. My sleeve makes a perfectly good napkin… or I guess I could switch to cloth.  I’ve been finding since my switch to veganism, there seems to be far less greasy left-overs on my face when I’m done with my meal.  So although I hardly need a napkin at, that’s sort of difficult to explain to visitors… so- since I have all of these cloth ones waiting to be used from when we first moved into our apartment- I’m going to break them out.   I’m also translating this to my bathroom etiquette.  Where I will usually not think about breaking off far too long of a piece of paper towels after I wash my hands, or other bathroom paper products for that matter, I pledge to cut back drastically.  One small sheet would do the trick… for almost anything…

3. I have to stop running the water when I brush my teeth.  I ALWAYS do this, and I stop as soon as I realize I’m doing it- I just have to pay attention more and exercise some mindful behavior!

4. Filling in the cracks.  It’s that time of year again and saving energy has to be key.  Putting down draft stoppers will be a necessity this year- with oil prices through the roof- this little tip will prove to be helpful to my pocket and my planet.

5. Timed Dry.  I have an older dryer in my apartment… it may even be classified as slightly dangerous when considering that I have to prop a mop up against the door so it stays closed and running.  That being said, it runs really hot and for longer than it should.  I am going to start only putting it on for 50 minutes instead of the max 70 minutes and checking on it at that point to see if the clothes are ready.  I can always adjust the time for more (if necessary) but I’ve noticed that after a full 70 minute dry the clothes are piping hot- leading me to believe that they didn’t need to be in there for that long anyway.

You may be thinking, there has to be some things that she didn’t cover, things that involve transportation and more about recycling that she missed.  Well, you’re in luck.  I made my list, and then I hit the web to find out some more things that we can all do.  And here’s the best part- most of the things on the list work two-fold.  They work to save the planet AND they end up saving you money!  Whether you’re into that saving for that vacation at the end of the year or hugging trees, this is something I think we can all get down with. 

Wire & Twine have some pretty nifty ideas about how you can do your part to save the planet.  Check the list out- most of these actions require no extra effort on your part, they’re just things you don’t think about. 

While we’re on the subject… are you wondering about your Ecological Footprint?  I found this tool to be very interesting when thinking about how much you use (it’s probably going to be different than what you think).