Monday, April 23, 2007

A Month of Birthdays and One Veganniversary

Last weekend was Booboo's birthday. She turned 5 and we had the requisite birthday picture trauma. Every year, I subject the poor girl to ribbon wearing and candle blowing. Actually, it's gotten better. For her first birthday, there were balloons & party hats- which she refused to wear and last year, she almost singed an eyebrow whisker coming too close to the candle. Hey, I'm not that bad- at least there aren't any scary clowns involved. Well this year, she wouldn't even pose for a picture til way after the candle was blown out and the residual smoke cleared. The point is that I like to make a big deal out of her birthday because I love her so much! And yes, I concede that she could care less what day it is except that she gets a sardine and lots of extra treats...

I too have a birthday coming up, next weekend to be exact. Not sure if it's this impending birthday that has put me in a funk and has given me blogger's block, or just a general feeling of malaise. I am way overdue for a juice fast- if I get around to it that will be the thing to set me straight. By the way, my one year Veganniversary was at the beginning of the month- April 1st.
It was a year ago that I did my first juice fast for four days and went from vegetarian to vegan and I have never looked back.

As I become more and more educated about the inhumane ways which animals are treated in this country, I become more and more resolute in my choice to live a vegan lifestyle. It's important to educate others around us because how can anyone not make a change towards veganism in the face of all that cruelty. I have never had a companion animal before Booboo. She has opened my eyes to all animals as sentient beings. In every animal, I see Booboo and in her, I see all animals. There is no difference. She has brought pure love, joy and compassion into my life and I am thankful.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Converting Empathy Overload Into Passion for Compassion

My problem with empathy overload is ongoing.

I avert my eyes when people devour flesh or eat products with eggs & dairy because it makes me want to scream at them. How can you not think and feel for the poor animals that live horrid lives of confinement, torture and painful slaughter just so you can have your steak, ham, turkey sandwich, roasted chicken, omelette or cheese?

People just can't seem to give up their taste for meat & dairy. Do they savour the pain & sadness inherent in each bite of flesh or sip of milk? I guess some let their tastebuds control their conscience or they just don't care enough to change or they just don't care. I think that it's interesting to note that sociopaths experience a limited range of human emotions which explain their lack of empathy for the suffering of others. Sociopaths can't imagine or feel the pain of others. Am I implying something in the juxtaposition of these thoughts? Well, I will just leave that implication heavy and hanging like guilt or like chickens who are shackled upside down by one leg along a conveyor belt before having their throats slit...

Last Saturday evening, Fcat & I attended the Farm Sancuary charity event. I had been tired from the week and was feeling so overwhelmed that I hadn't been so excited by the propects of having any plans that evening, but it ended being exactly what I needed- a nice event for a great cause, surrounded by people who can truly empathize for the suffering of animals and choose not to eat meat with conviction.

The event was held at Jivamukti downtown. When we arrived, it was extremely crowded and the flow of the event was not properly coordinated. Since it was a yoga studio, we had all been advised in advance that our shoes would have to be removed- you can imagine what it was like, all these people stooped over to remove their shoes. I keep thinking of that episode of Sex & The City where Samantha gets her Manolo Blahniks stolen at a friend's house when they all remove their shoes before entering. I make sure to tuck our shoes into a hidden back corner.

This was the main room where all the food & drink was. Funny to think of all these people in the room in their socks- wasn't so funny when I stepped on a little piece of squishy food- yuck.
When there is a crowd and there are jostling lines for food, even compassionate vegan brains take on a whole other hardwiring....feeding frenzy!

Was a difficult balance, wine in one hand, camera in the other & Fcat holding our shared food plate because I was adamant about getting as many food pics as I could in that crazy crowd. I didn't get as many pics as I wanted and I didn't get a full description, but enough to give a sense that there was lots of food to be had.

First, Sheese & crackers. Had heard about this Sheese before and was anxious to try it. Didn't love it, but many did. One guy was just filling up a small bowl of Sheese with his fingers and eating at the same time and telling me how great it was, maybe that made it less appetizing to me.

Voracious eaters had descended on this sushi platter:

Polenta thing from Angelica Kitchen:

And toast point things, also from Angelica Kitchen, alongside their cookbook:

Wrap thing from Counter:Scary chicken legs-I think these might have been from Red Bamboo, complete with 'skin' and 'drumstick'. Tasty, but made me slightly ill because they were a little too realistic. Why couldn't they just make them medallions or nugget shaped? Well, certainly a good thing for those just turning veg and having cravings for meat and such...

This was super tasty seitan satay from Candle Cafe:And then onto desserts from Purely Decadent:
There was also vegan cheesecake and the yummiest cutest vegan chocolate farm cake with a layer of berry cream filling from the nicest people at Moo-Cluck Corp:
There's was a break from stuffing our faces, when we were all ushered into another room. As we were walking over, Fcat spotted Martina Navratilova. He's a huge fan and the first thing he he directed at her was a question about her veg diet at the height of her career. She was very gracious and responded by saying that she used to eat eggs as her main source of protein, but had gotten very ill- so had recently started eating fish again. I was a bit disappointed in her response, but it was really great that she was at this super-packed event after some recent knee surgery to show her support.

We all sat on the floor as our hosts from Jivamukti Yoga , Farm Sanctuary & Russell Simmons made wonderful impassioned speeches about animal liberation and the progress made. I felt a sense of warmth, belonging and hope. Don't know how to explain it- I was just so happy to be there in that very moment with the sense that I was surrounded by those who also cared. We were all in this room because of our shared compassion for animals.

Then they announced the screening of a short presentation about foie gras. A sense of dread overcame me, I knew I didn't want to watch the cruelty- others felt the same. Then we were told that of course, this was like preaching to the choir-none of us would eat foie gras, but we were asked to watch so that we would be so outraged that we would be renewed in purpose to speak out for those that have no voice.

I watched with horror as image after image of rows of ducks in wire contraptions lined up next to each other with their head & necks sticking out- so that the person could come by and shove the metal feeding tubes down their gullets to force feed them. Please visit this site and watch the video at It brought tears to my eyes and at times, I had to look away. It was painful to watch and to listen about this culinary cruelty. The metal tubes are not smooth- they have rough edges. The ducks attempt to push away the metal tube with their wings and feet but are unable to because they are so sick from having their livers swell up 10 times their normal size. This force-feeding lasts a couple of weeks until the ducks & geese succumb to their fatty liver and die. Oh yes, what a delicacy.

There were tons of great stuff for auction from jewelry to art to massages & bodycare baskets:

Here's Fcat looking so handsome with our goody bags ready to go:

Said contents of fun party goody bags- cream samples, food samples, calendars, magazines, etc.
Booboo not included.
Evening in NYC upon leaving the benefit, the city seems filled with possibility because I know that I have just left an event packed with people who have as much empathy for animals as I do. There are so many of you out there who love animals and who would never dream of wearing fur and are against animal testing, well then follow through with conviction and stop eating meat & dairy. I leave this event with a lesson- whenever I feel anger because of my empathy overload for animals, I must replace it with compassion. One person living their life with compassion for all living beings may inspire others to do the same even if it is just one person at a time.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Signs Of Life

Yes, Virginia, there is life in the outer boroughs of New York City...

When I was growing up in Queens, I couldn't wait for the day when I could move into Manhattan, otherwise known as "the city". Manhattan was the center of it all. The city contained all the fast-moving, frenetic pace of art & commerce, culture and all things hip & chic. It still does, but slowly & surely as Manhattan becomes increasingly expensive- hipsterdom has spread across bridges to areas like Williamsburg & DUMBO in Brooklyn where real estate prices per square foot are almost on par with Manhattan pricing. However, Queens still remains the red-headed step-child...but one weekend not long ago, Fcat and I decided to venture across the 59th Street bridge aka The Queensboro Bridge ...

Here is an urban dog run on the Manhattan-side along the East River:
Alongside the bridge,a door that leads where?

Here's Roosevelt Island and it's tram, where many people commute daily high above the river into Manhattan. If you are clausterphobic & afraid of heights, the tram would not be for you. A few months ago, two trams filled with people were stuck for seven hours over the river...
We arrive in Long Island City on the Queens side. As we walk along the once industrial landscape, we realize that it is becoming quite a cool little neighborhood- with a boom of new construction & condos, a lovely waterfront park with gorgeous views of Manhattan, landmarked streets of historic row houses and nearby P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center an affiliate of The Museum Of Modern Art. This area of Long Island City, Hunter's Point is one subway stop away from Manhattan and that fact brings luxury condos with doormen and all the amenities.

We happened upon a great little teahouse/coffeeshop, Communitea- filled with people hanging out with their laptops, reading, enjoying lunch with their friends...

Here's the big clincher on why I see Long Island City as a candidate for hipsterdom...Communitea had soymilk and offered two vegan food options- yummy tofu dogs and a delicious hummus sandwich. They also offered soymilk & vegan cookies, which were not available that day- I like to think that it was because there are so many vegans in the neighborhood that they were all sold out.

Fcat & I enjoyed our foray into Long Island City, Queens. On the way home, we picked up some groceries and ran into our neighbors and Booboo had a chance playdate of sorts...The three big dogs, Olivia, Diablo & Scout were very interested in groceries as Booboo came out to greet us.
Scout & Booboo:

Booboo has always tolerated the dogs, but has never fully come out to meet them before and the few times she has come out, she stands behind me. This nose-to-nose meeting of Booboo & her three neighbors is a first. Her tail is up which I think means that she is happy to see them!

Ah yes, the party's over and Booboo is back in the apartment.

Have a great weekend!
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