Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tips & Facts

Tonight I picked up Vegetarian Times Magazine. Feelings are mixed with the rag, because a lot of the issues they write about seem to ignore the fact that eating eggs, cheese and milk contribute to the problems they feature. For example, "According to a 2006 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, animal farms around the globe generate 18 percent more greenhouse emissions than all of these transportation methods combined." (methods being cars, trucks, and buses) Its not surprising that the dairy industry supports the livestock industry including veal production. Veg Times began the article by stating that "eating beef is even worse for the environment than the greenhouse gases emitted from cars, trucks, and buses." I am certain that milk comes from cows, cows live on farms, cows emit greenhouse gases. Sadly, 70% of former forestland in Latin America is now used for grazing fields. Oh well, I guess eliminating meat eating leads to a shift in how people think about food and how it affects the world we live in. I don't expect everyone to go vegan today, but sometimes its hard to swallow stories that only tell half the facts.

TIP: Freeze an onion for 10 minutes prior to cutting. This will eliminate the sulfur oils that make you cry when handling onions.

I had no idea! Foot powders and sprays (including baby powder) used to eliminate athletes foot and such are created from talc rocks which absorb moisture and odor. Talc is closely related to ASBESTOS, a harmful mineral, which is linked to ovarian cancer (among other things.) T for Toes is made by lush, ad its made with lime, tea tree oils ad horsetail herbs to eliminate odor and moisture. Its a natural solution to icky toes. Another option is a mineral salt spray by Crystal Foot Deodorant spray.
Psoriasis and Dandruff shampoos often contain coal tar which is linked to cancer AND irritates and aggravates certain types of scalp psoriasis. Try instead: Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue Shampoo OR John Masters Organics Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Green Carpet, Brown Skies

An adventure to Los Angeles this past week resulted in my walking down the "green carpet" at a Global Green Party, standing idle on the 405, indulging in too much faux meats at Papillon in El Segundo, and weeping over my idiotic decision to only pack 2 pairs of not yet broken-in shoes from Payless. L.A. is great to visit, but I am not sure how people live there. I shake in my PVC boots when processing thoughts of daily driving in the city o' smog.
My husband escorted Chris Paine (one of the nicest men alive, directed the documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car') down the green carpet after cruising up in the Tesla Roadster. I winced at the prospect of walking down that green carpet. Terrified, I stood back like a dog in the vet parking lot until I realized that my only way in to the party was on my husbands arm. No wonder celebrities wear shades 24-7 because without any camera's flashing my eyes were being sizzled out by all of the flashes bright and eager to go off. On my trail was Petra Nemkova, James Blunt, Penelope Cruz, and Chevy Chase. The food offered still featured meat items (which I think is hypocritical because meat consumption and production is largely responsible for destruction of the earth/ greehouse gases) like chicken skewers. I ate some veggie skewers with eggplant, bell peppers, onion & the other one had purple potatoes, yellow squash and onion. The marinara sauce on the veggies was loaded with garlic, I am sure I offended plenty of people that night with my dragon breath. Purple potatoes are likely flown in from South America, as they are not in season until fall. Squash is in season during the summer, so I am not sure if those are flown in from warmer climates at this time of year. Bell peppers are also summer season veggies. I am certain that the food was provided by Whole Foods yet again, so I will check on these items at the store tomorrow and find out how much jet fuel was needed to provide the food at the party. People need to learn about the benefits of eating seasonally and locally. That doesn't mean eating at the corner donut shop every morning. The food at the party was tasty, and I must give the planners "props" for providing three vegan options to eat, but honestly I wish they would take advantage of their platform to teach people about the food side of things when it comes to contributing to global warming.

Besides reporting on this party, I was interested in sharing some highlights of the March '07 issue of Natural Health magazine. First, there is a new line of CHAMPION sportswear that features an eco-friendly collection of workout tops, shorts, pants, and sports bras. These sporty digs are made from coconut shells, otherwise discarded as the fruit is used for food in Indonesia. Other features of Cocona (this fabric) are: it naturally wicks away sweat, traps odors and shields against harmful rays. Awesome!
I can only keep up hope that more locally made fabrics and clothing come our way soon. I wish there were clothing farmers markets where you could go in and buy pants, tops, skirts, jackets that were made from eco-fabrics from local farm by- products. Hey, if they are making workout wear from coconut shells, I think my hopes are not far fetched!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My New Favorite 3 Bands

If you need some new additions to your Ipod, might I suggest: MENOMENA, PRESSURE KILL COMMON STYLE & THE ACCIDENTAL SONS. OH so good. Menomena is a sweet mixture of Super Furry Animals, Blur/Gorillaz, Built to Spill, but with a fresh new twist. So refreshing.
PRESSURE KILL COMMON STYLE is still pretty new to me, the album is waaayyy too short but so darn enjoyable. THE ACCIDENTAL SONS are a carefree group of boys that make some lo-fi, memorable music for any occasion.

Topics of the week

This week in journalism seemed to be catering to my every whim. The NY Times featured 3 items that are worth discussing. How Old McDonald Keeps His Farm spotlights how independently run farm owners are making some extra dough via tours labeled as agri-tourism. Tomorrow, you may walk into the office and find an evite to the staff for a visit to a location like Harley Farms. You will enjoy "team building" exercises involving milking goats and learning how their cheese is made. I must admit that sounds better to me than falling backwards into a pile of dirty hands in a "trust" game. On their farm live 200 American Alpine goats. These friends might chew on your pants a bit, but they munch on pasture and roam free which makes for some low stress-laden goat cheese. I suppose you are supposed to learn from the goat, how to function at work with less stress.
Agri-tourism allows family farms with integrity to stay small and dedicate themselves to quality artisan cheese-making. In case you are curious, in 2005 the average income of a farm is $81,420, $66,782 being from other sources of income besides actual sales of the farms products. They call this extra income "off farm income."
Agri-tourism prevents the need for farmers to go out and get a second job in most cases. I would like to poo poo the owner of Sun Ranch in Cameron, Montana. Roger Lang is his name, and he likes to set up summer adventures including programs in fly fishing and hunting because they just don't make money off the cows in the summer. Basically, this guy is not sure how else to make money unless he is putting something to death. Now that is a MAN!

Those of you allergic to peanut butter, I sometimes feel sad for you because PB is one of my favorite foods. Today, I am thrilled because 2 of the most important people in my life are allergic to peanuts and DO NOT eat peanut butter. This is good news for once because guess who lurks within a couple of crap brands of PB? That is right, salmonella. HOW? Oh boy, I am not sure I want to know how it got into jars of Peter Pan and Great Value Wal-Mart PB. 300 people fell ill this time. No deaths, but ConAgra can pat itself on the back for being the very FIRST peanut butter producer to include salmonella in their products for no extra cost to you! Ugh. Look on lids for code number 2111, if you bought it, you can return it to the store for a refund. Salmonella infection sickens 40,000 people in the US and kills 600 annually. Where will it pop up next?

Should you trust your makeup? I was not aware that the cosmetics industry is unregulated. When it comes to nasty chemicals, like formaldehyde, nothing is prevented from entering your tube of lipstick or mascara. I tend to purchase all natural cosmetics that are not tested on animals, so I generally feel safe trusting those companies. Go to the drug store and you are dealing with a different set of rules.
The California Safe Cosmetics Act took effect on January 1 of this year and requires cosmetics companies to tell state health authorities if a product contains any chemical on several governmental lists that are known to cause cancer or harm the reproductive system. Even traces of these chemicals NEED to be reported. One guilty party is known as phthalates, a group of chemicals used in nail polishes, fragrances, medical devices and shower curtains - these have an effect on reproductive systems of lab animals and can be absorbed and excreted by the human body.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is publicizing their concerns about chemicals in cosmetics in hopes that soon there will be greater governmental regulation and intervention when it comes to these unsafe product ingredients.
Our smarter, more concerned friends over in the European Union imposed new regulations on the industry in 2004, banning more than 600 chemicals from use in cosmetics. Later this year they will introduce and put into motion a program called REACH (registration, evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals) which will require companies that produce chemicals or use them in their products, packaging, or manufacturing, to collect comprehensive data on the possible risks of the substances to human health and to the environment. This new law will cost an estimated $6.7 billion (out of the chemical industry's pocket) over the next 10 years but it could save up to $70 billion in health costs over the next 30 years!! That is amazing to me. Apparently this is in response to increasing reports of early puberty, asthma and other allergies.
Chemicals that must be reported here in California under the new law are: acetate (in some hair dyes,) formaldehyde, a preservative, and toluene, a solvent used in some nail products.
Here is a list of SAFER companies taken from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.
Consumer Reports also features a piece on safety and cosmetics.

Now that you have the info, don't be buying junk makeup dammit! Better to be safe than sorry. One of my favorites is ECCO BELLA makeup. The foundation is amazing, the mascara is great and the blush comes in many lively colors that you will love. My favorite lipstick is hemp organics LOVE. You can buy it at Whole Foods for about $7.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Poleng Lounge - another vegan wonderland!

It's another Valentines Day that my man is on a biz trip. Lucky for me, I had a date with a good friend of mine, Andrea. With reservations at Poleng Lounge in San Francisco, we were on our way with rumbling stomachs. Upon arrival, we marveled at the decor and the exciting menu. First, we ordered Buddha's Treasures. This tiny package is a homemade dumpling filled with a tasty mix of mixed vegetables served with a salty and tangy sauce with a bite. Next, we opted for a variety of nibbles such as sweet potato fries (perfectly cut into small skinny fries, not the clumsy fat ones) served with a damn spicy banana catsup & the smoked salt smothered grilled edamame pods. Lastly, we tried the Indo-Thai Eggplant Temple. The eggplant comes with a delicious flat bread and a sauce that I didn't try because I am sure its not vegan. The flat bread I DID try, it was flaky and tasty, and tasted better than the eggplant which was supposed to be the star on the plate. The eggplant was cooked perfectly, it was just kinda flavorless without the sauce. For dessert we chose the tapioca which featured coconut and soy milks. It was so yummy, but the toasted coconut on top, I was not a big fan of.
The Buddha treasure was definitely the most memorable dish....SO tasty I could have eaten about 10 of them. The service was impressive, our waiter was helpful but not pushy. He gladly accommodated my request for a fancy virgin cocktail. I had no suggestions, just whatever. I ended up with Monkey Love Juice, which was gone in about 2 minutes because it was just too easy to drink. Not too sweet and perfect complement to my salty meal.
Nice work Poleng, I will be back.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sheese En Route

So I emailed Black Duck Imports, the company that so kindly ships us SHEESE, a spectacular vegan cheese product. Here is the response, as I suspected:
Hi Keri-
Glad you like the Sheese.

You are correct - the Sheese is made in Scotland and shipped in pallets to us here in Florida. We take orders from individual stores and then ship it to them. If distributors wanted to pick it up, we would get the pallets to them for them to sell to the stores, but there are not enough stores with it right now to get a distributor interested. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Scott Myers responded in less than 24 hours, what a good guy. We are going to have to keep the compliments going out to them and begging for it in stores in our locale so that we don't have to feel guilty about our cheese traveling so far to get to our tummies. Soon enough, we will have a production site in the US because of the stupendous demand. Spread the word, and the Sheese.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Green Weddings, Sheese Review, & Hempmilk

My wedding was one of the most exhilarating days ever. Darryl and I got married at the Regency Building in San Francisco in a Gothic room of dark reds and large fancy chandeliers. Our guests dressed in period costumes as we wed on the weekend before Halloween. The pictures were dreamy and the experience is something of a blur but unforgettable. These days, "green" weddings are becoming the rage. Gathering at an organic farm for the ceremony, carrying a bouquet of local flowers, sipping sparkling wine from the nearby winery, and dining on vegan meals featuring seasonal produce from the farm at which you are tying the knot. Sounds so responsible its sick. I LOVE IT! Going the extra green mile (literally), some couples plan to offset carbon usage via guests being transported to the event by purchasing carbon credits from companies like TerraPass. Companies as such finance wind power plants and projects that collect cow manure and use it to make methane that is burned for electricity. This replaces coal and stops emissions from unburned methane which itself is a global warming gas. TerraPass figures out how much of the carbon credits to buy depending on the method and how far you are traveling. For example, airlines say that each gallon of gas (either jet or car) moves a passenger about 20 miles, so a 1000 mile trip uses about 50 gallons. This would cost you $9.95 at TerraPass, to offset the carbon released by your travels. Read the article in the NY Times for info on specialty services to make your party guests green with envy.

Sheese, the most talked about product in the vegan community lately, is as good as people say it is. I CANNOT tell you how delicious the "blue cheese" flavor is. I am going to try, but honestly, its THAT good. I opened up the package I ordered from FOOD FIGHT in Oregon, knowing my Sheese awaited me inside. At first I hesitated because the package says to "keep refrigerated" but obviously it had to travel to me from Portland. So, I set it in the fridge and tried not to be paranoid a few hours later when I dove in with a fork to try it out. Shocking. The texture is hard, not rubbery. The flavor is tangy and creamy without the moldy yuck of real blue cheese. This is PERFECT for a sandwich. Its salty and tasty, not flavorless, rubbery and gag worthy. I have not attempted to melt it yet, apparently its a challenge but it tastes so good I don't care. I have yet to try the cheddar and chive, I promise to give you my reaction as soon as I do. At $9 a package, this damn cheese better be good, right? Well, I can say that I would rather eat this than some imported cheese from France that is loaded with rennet and god knows what else. I even think Sheese would hold up in accompanying a good glass of vino!
Yes, this cheese product is imported from a company called Black Duck Imports. I am not sure how far this product must travel to get to my fridge, but I sent an email asking. I will keep you posted on how many carbon credits we have to buy to make up for this!

Living Harvest just announced the launch of the first shelf stable hempmilk product. I am thrilled to see an alternative to nut and soy milks. My husband is allergic to most nuts, and isn't wild about soy milk. How many complaints do we have to hear about the soy issue....ugh, I am going for the hemp! I ordered the chocolate flavor - DOWNRIGHT delicious! I was really impressed. Thick, rich chocolately goodness made from whole hemp nuts. Hemp nuts have a balanced source of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids, all 10 essential amino acids, vitamins A, B2, B12, D, E, folic acid, naturally occurring minerals magnesium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus PLUS 46% of recommended daily calcium. I am excited to try the original and vanilla flavors now.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Why I love my husbands B.O.

Sadly, many perfumes contain harmful chemicals. Valentines day is a big day for marketing sexy fragrance commericals on tv and in magazines. Well, here are some icky ingredients that come FREE with the highly romanticized fragrances people give their lovers as a gift.
  • Phthalates: Common plasticizing ingredients linked to birth defects in the reproductive system of boys at exposure levels typical for about one-quarter of U.S. women [2, 3]. Lowers sperm-motility in adult men [4]. Studies in laboratory animals show significant developmental toxicity [5] and damage to adult reproductive, adrenal, liver, and kidney organs [5]. Under consumer pressure, some cosmetic companies recently agreed to remove phthalates from their products — but many others have not. Our product tests show phthalates in nearly three-quarters of 72 name-brand products tested [6] [and link to not too pretty], even though none of these products contained the term "phthalate" on the ingredient label. Instead, in most cases these phthalates were almost certainly hidden in the product's fragrance.
  • Musks: Artificial musks accumulate in our bodies, and are often detected in breast milk and blood [7-10]. Musks come in two basic types, nitromusks and polycyclic musks. Nitromusks are linked to skin irritation, sensitization [9,10], and even cancer in laboratory studies [11, 12]. They are also linked to reproductive and fertility problems in women at high levels of exposure [13]. Laboratory studies also suggest that both polycyclic musks and nitromusks may affect hormone systems [14-19]. While the European Union has banned use of some nitromusks in cosmetics and personal care products [20], the use of polycyclic musks as an alternative to the more toxic nitromusks has increased. In the US, all musk chemicals are unregulated, and safe levels of exposure have not yet been set.
  • Allergic reactions: Fragrances are considered to be among the top five known allergens [21, 22], and are known to both cause asthma and trigger asthma attacks [23, 24]. Unfortunately, EWG's 2005 detailed survey of approximately one-third of the industry safety panel's ingredient reviews revealed that allergen and sensitizer determinations were made with little scientific rigor and inadequate safety margins.
The Environmental Working Group lists many items that are chemical and fragrance free that will prove that you REALLY DO LOVE your significant other!

This morning on NPR, bullfighting, suicide, and a prediction

Two interesting stories popped up on NPR this morning.
First, Spain is having second thoughts about their tradition of killing and torturing bulls for amusement. Bullfighters in training attend subsidized schools that are run by some of the best bullfighters in Spain. One of the matadorks has a wooden leg and the other has been pierced about 30 times in his career. This "tradition" is being marked as barbaric (nooooo, really?) and more than 70% of the populous in Spain has no interest in attending these events. The nations environmental minister is trying to keep bulls from exiting the ring in a state of rigor mortis. Instead, she would like them to just be bloodied, stabbed, injured, suffering, and miserable. Hey, if you are going to torture the animal, the least you can do it let it die and move on to a more peaceful lifestyle where humans DO NOT exist.
The other show I heard this morning touched on the subject of suicide and young people. (mainly teens and college students) One point they made is that isolation is a contributor to suicide. If a person is different than most of his/her peers (gay, trans-gender, handicapped, etc) the statistics say that suicidal tendencies increase. That seems pretty obvious. One point made by the guest was that cell phones have a huge impact on suicide rates. Apparently, because of the connectivity, kids can call parents at any time and talk things out if they are having trouble with school, friends, or relationships. I never even thought about that shift in the relationship between kids and parents these days. Yeah, give your kid a phone and you can call and check up whether they answer or not, but the option of the child being able to call anytime with good or bad news is helpful in many ways.
A doctor at UCSF was saying that she had 5 students in the past two weeks come into her program because of attempted suicide. College is an interesting experiment. Its a time to meet an entirely new population of which you might meet a group of people to bond and hang out with no matter WHO you are....OR, your loner tendencies in high school keep you from making any headway in a new environment ripe with opportunity to make new friends. College is a time of liberal thought and appreciation of uniqueness of your classmates. Sure, you don't like everyone you meet automatically, but it seems more likely that former loners are accepted into social situations they may not have been before. Most of the suicides in college are probably related to the isolation and pressures of having to keep tabs on yourself as no one is really there to push you to do your homework or go to class. If you fall behind, no one else is there to pick up the pieces but YOU! Keep that cell phone handy for times of trouble.

On a lighter note, I have a prediction. Music has proven to be stagnant and a bit too rock electro for a bit too long. 80's hipster fashion has been lingering and seems really stale. The next big thing is a movement towards a gypsy lifestyle (def. of gypsy is: One of a vagabond race, whose tribes, coming originally from India, entered Europe in 14th or 15th century, and are now scattered over Turkey, Russia, Hungary, Spain, England, etc., living by theft, fortune telling, horse jockeying, tinkering, etc.) Youth of today seem more and more irritated that they have to hold down a job and make money for someone else when they themselves get paid crap. I find myself listening to new-ish bands like BEIRUT, which encapsulate dramatic and romantic vocals with instruments of ye olden days like horns and accordions. I imagine a drift towards the lifestyle of fleeting moments, less attachments, experiencing life on the go, but fully through music and nature. Well, maybe a gypsy lifestyle minus all of the stealing and crime. What I am trying to say is that people are fed up with trying to convince the government that war is bad, and the next move will be a romantic anarchy of sorts. Investing in the moment, not caring as much about the dollar signs, but the astrological signs. We'll see.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

My New Favorite Lunch Spot

I posted yesterday feeling a wee bit sad and left out when it comes to suitable meals for vegans. My vegan tank was refueled today as I approached the menu board at FRJTZ in Hayes Valley in San Francisco. A new location will open at 590 Valencia soon. Frjtz features belgian fries, crepes, sandwiches, salads, tea and art! Apparently DJ's spin there too in the p.m. I experienced shock and awe when reading the enticing ingredients of the BOSCH salad. Spring mix with quinoa, veggie salami, green onion, tomato, avocado, mango, cilantro dressed with a TASTY AS HECK tangerine-balsamic vinaigrette. I ordered that masterpiece alongside a small order of fries with white truffle oil and artichoke truffle ketchup. The ketchup is heavenly! They have roughly 22 dipping sauces for the fries, 7 of which are mayo based but the rest are vegan friendly. The fries were good, but they could have been better. They might have been a bit overdone, a tiny mushy inside, but they were very crispy on the outside. Oh whatever, they were still delicious.
Many of the sandwiches can be veganated. That is my new word I just made up. I like it. Anyway, the savory crepes are mostly meat based. The sweet crepes are mostly vegan just so long as you leave the whipped cream out. Nutella is NOT vegan, so sadly that crepe is off the list. The Claudel Crepe sounds amazing with caramelized apples, cinnamon, almonds. I am pretty sure caramelized apples involve butter somehow...hmmmm. The Daum is roasted pineapple, shaved coconut, brown sugar and toasted almonds.
I will be back for sure. See you in the valley for some fries.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Vegan Options Dwindling

I don't know if its just me, but it seems as if my vegan options are dwindling. Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, many restaurants are closing down or eliminating their veggie options. I tried to patronize my local raw/vegan joint in Fairfax called Lydia's Lovin' Foods but I noticed the restaurant had a sad FOR RENT sign in the window. Okay, so the service was crap but Fairfax is known for their slow, hippie ways. I assumed that I had to adjust my perspective when entering the town of self proclaimed freaks and peaceniks. My backup plan kicked into gear, which is choosing from various hot/cold prepared foods at GOOD EARTH Grocery across the street. I guess this is a lesson in not stereotyping, because I thought Fairfax types would lean towards vegan cuisine. It seems that much of their options include eggs and butter.

They have about 5 different pizzas now, which look delicious but all have cheese. I remember buying vegan pizza there for lunch once. I remember often picking up a tasty seitan or tempeh dish there for my husband and I for dinner. I would drive out there to shop for local produce (which they ALWAYS feature, they have the BEST produce) and bulk items sometimes not available at Whole Foods. Good Earth is NOT cheap, its quite pricey. I stopped going so often because of the dwindling vegan selections. The salad bar is really my best bet there. If you go, try the Caesar. The croutons are tasty!
The only reason I can come up with for this downward trend is that the bulk food preparation is too expensive when using vegan ingredients. I suppose there is not much of a demand for vegan pizza when its sitting next to 4 other dairy cheese pizzas. I used to order Noah's Bagels with Tofutti at my local shop in Greenbrae. Unfortunately, they eliminated Tofutti cream cheese from the menu which leaves me with peanut butter as the next best choice. I think people should give Tofutti a try, its amazing! So tasty, I think many would choose it over cream cheese once they have tried it. Noah's needs to put out some samples of bagels with a bit of Tofutti and determine reactions of the customers. This stuff lasts awhile, I don't see how it could expire too soon and cause them to lose money providing it for the lactose intolerant or vegan customers. Tofutti is cholesterol free, while Philly Cream Cheese has 40 mg of it! Tofutti has 2 grams of Saturated Fat, while Philly has 6!
Whole Foods tends to serve the same damn vegan items in their hot food meal deal section. Always the curry that is flavorless or the damn dahl that tastes nothing like dahl. I do appreciate the sandwich section providing soy mayo, eggless tofu salad, hummus, and other tofus. I wish I had more to choose from.
Another yummy restaurant called Geranium closed down recently in SF. I don't know why, the food always tasted great and the service was acceptable. Cafe Gratitude is multiplying, which is a plus. Unfortunately, raw food makes me feel ill sometimes. Its so heavy that my tummy has trouble after a small meal there. The desserts are AMAZING! Strawberry shortcake, highly recommended! Look out for the new location in San Anselmo, Marin County.
Another restaurant nearby, Paradise Seafood and Vegetarian, a faux meat Asian place closed down and is now replaced with yet another Indian restaurant. Running a restaurant ain't easy. I suppose I have to accept that vegan restauranteurs have good intentions, but maybe lack experience or business sense.
I suppose I should stick to writing. One thing I do know, you will be the first to know if I find the perfect spot for a hearty vegan lunch or dinner. Until then, cook for yourself!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Chemical free baby and momma

Food isn't the only thing to worry about when you are pregnant. When a friend of mine asked if i registered for baby loot yet, I admitted that I hadn't and got right to work that night. I cannot tell you how long it took me to figure out the right bottles, burping cloths, sheets, breast pump, onesies, car seat, and high chair...I could go on. I am very focused on quality versus quantity when it comes to items for my baby. My style is very modern and simple, which usually means higher cost! I thought I would share with you moms hoping to create a clean, environmentally responsible, vegan and safe nursery for your baby, the items that I researched and eventually picked out after four hours on the computer!

Cribs can run you anywhere from $200 up to $4000! If you search for modern designs, you will notice that most are in the $1500 range. Most are chemical free, so you don't necessarily have to worry about that. I luckily found a crib I wanted on the Home and Living site. The Emily Crib is apparently high quality, gets high ratings from customers and comes in about 8 colors. I loved the black. The Da Vinci line of cribs does not use harmful finishes. Home and Living is offering free shipping for most of the cribs offered on their site. I bought the matching changing table in addition to the crib, plus the additional pieces that turn the crib into a bed your child can grow into for $550. The crib I had my eye on originally is $1200 plus shipping! Yikes.
I found an organic crib mattress at the Natural Sleep Store. Choose the package and you get a organic cotton fitted sheet, organic mattress pad and mattress for around $350. This seemed to be the best deal of all sites I searched.
Crib sheet sets are pricey as HECK! A set with a bumper, fitted sheet, and if you are lucky a blanket will set you back $300. The George Collection is available on most organic baby websites.

It is bright white with either a stitching of a lion or deer or bunnies. The whole set is expensive, but if you just order the bumper cover and a plain fitted sheet plus a pillow cover, the price should stay a lot lower than $350!
Target surprisingly carries a number of organic cotton towels for the bath, organic receiving blankets and onesies. California Baby bath and grooming products contain sustainable and organic ingredients.

You can find a Newborn Gift Set on the Target website too. Yay Target!
Now, I thought that the bottles I picked out for breast milk were free of PVC's but I am getting some conflicting information on this. Glass bottles or opaque plastic bottles seem to be safer choices. Big surprise, PVC's are BANNED in Europe but still legal in the U.S. Annoying. The Childrens Health Environmental Coalition rates PVC's as something to avoid. They list some brand names to avoid and others to consider as alternatives.
Seventh Generation seems to be the best of environmentally responsible disposable diapers. even sells them!
Good luck with your registry. I found it tough to choose the best or safest products because most stores do not willingly give up information about chemically laden products! gives criterion for every item. Look for the R. It stands for responsible. This includes "environmentally" responsible. carries some organic items. is where I picked out my sheets and other basics because all items are organic and chemical free. This registry experience is just one step to prepare me for demands of motherhood!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Sheese FINALLY! & other fun

I just discovered that Sheese is finally available on-line through the Food Fight website. What is Sheese? WELL, its only the most talked about cheese substitute in the veg community, featured in 6 flavors like Blue (supposedly something to bow down to), Gouda, various cheddars, Mozzarella, and Cheddar and Chives. I am ordering some asap, I promise to report back to you on the truth of these claims that Sheese is what we all have been waiting for. By the way, the nutritional information bodes well. This product is hydrogenated oil free and features natural ingredients.

Friday, my husband, sis and her man (my bro in-law) decided to go to dinner at Meze's restaurant in the marina district of San Francisco. The service was notably friendly and patient, but the food was seriously a perplexing tasteless experience. Usually vegans and meat eaters can co-exist well at Greek restaurants. Meze's is a casual place with a good Greek wine list (being pregnant I couldn't enjoy but the rest of the crew did) and the place was actually packed. We ordered a vegetarian meze plate first. Babaganoush, dolmas, feta cheese, some greens and beets, and spanikopita arrived nicely on a platter. I only ate the Baba and the Dolmas because of the absence of cheese but they were both on the sweet side. I thought that was odd, but ate them anyway. Next, my husband ordered some fried smelt, which came with a white sauce that looked like a scoop of lemon sorbet on the plate. He looked confused because the smelt tasted like nothing with some unflavored batter dipped in some flavorless white condiment. Another dish came (I think it was cod) which was sooooo salty that it seemed like an accident. My brother in law attempted to enjoy a cold Greek beer that just tasted like bud light.
Maybe our unsettling experience at this restaurant was a reaction to any Greek food other than Kokkari in San Francisco near the Embarcadero. Parents of a good friend from college named George run Kokkari and know exactly how to serve up PERFECT mezes. Highly recommended for vegans or vegetarians, just be sure to ask if a dish comes with cheese. Sometimes it sneaks in as a garnish of sorts. The pitas are to die for and dang, just the first course will fill you up! You will need to plan ahead financially and schedule-wise because a reservation is definitely necessary. Its a hot spot!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Tints of Nature Hair Coloring

Here I am as your guinea pig for a new brand of "organic, natural hair coloring" called Tints of Nature. I bought it at Elephant Pharmacy but I know its available at some Whole Foods stores. My hair to start was dark brownish black, faded from a blue black with some ash blond roots. My natural hair color is light, but I prefer other colors to my own!
My goal was to get a nice light brown with some gold red tones. Of the selection of colors T.O.N. offers (quite a few actually), none looked as if they fit that description so I decided to lighten my whole head and then put in a reddish color. There are two lighteners available. One is for dark brown hair and the other is for light brown. I started with a box of the dark brown to blond and quickly figured out that there was NO WAY the amount of the mixture was going to cover my entire head. I tried, but came out with a spotty leopard look of copper and dark brown and some lighter blond. Not pretty. Last night I used the lightening kit which is recommended for lighter brown to blond and covered the spots that were still fairly dark that I apparently missed. It did the job, but boy was I nervous having to "spot check" every little dark area on my head.
This morning I am using the red to cover my whole head. Its quite bright, I like the brighter reds because reds seem to fade easily.
So, here are my recommendations.
1. If using the lightening options, be sure to buy 2 kits if you have chin length or longer hair. That stuff just sucks up into your hair and isn't easy to spread around.
2. Buy another applicator brush if you plan to lighten your entire head. The brush that comes with it is for highlighting and is a real pain if you are doing an overall job.
3. Follow the directions and be sure to do your ends before your roots when you have super dark hair. But remember to do your roots because the end result will be some greyish brown roots with yellowish blond copper in the rest of your hair.

I am not a professional, so take these suggestions as my experience and hopefully they will help you when you decide to try this stuff out. The good thing is its free of ammonia and parabens and is NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS! You will notice that the lightener doesn't burn like most do. The smells are pleasant instead of harsh. The other ingredients they use are organic.
Check out their website here:

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Beans NOT beef!

I dig Science Daily. Read this article called EAT TO LIVE: Cut beef, save the globe.

......the [new years] resolution I propose: Reduce your consumption of beef.
Cows do more harm to the environment than cars.
Livestock generates 18 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide (CO2) than transport. It is responsible for producing 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which compared to CO2 has 296 times more GWP. That's Global Warming Potential, in science-speak. Most of this, according to a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, comes from manure.
Manure is responsible for 37 percent of all human-induced methane, mainly produced by the digestive system of livestock. That's 23 times more warming power than CO2. It also accounts for 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.
Alright, so you're one of those -- increasingly rare -- people who think the whole global-warming issue is a load of hot air. Consider this instead:
Thirty percent of the entire land surface of the Earth is now given over to the raising of livestock. While most of that is in pasture, 33 percent of arable land feeds not people but cows, pigs and sheep.
We are expected to double our global meat production by 2050, from 229 million tons in 1999-2001 to 465 million tons. The output of milk is expected to rise from 580 million tons to 1043 million.
As we become more prosperous, our meat consumption increases. To feed the livestock that feeds us, we need more land to make more pasture. In Latin America 70 percent of what used to be forest in the Amazon basin has now been turned into grazing land.
The more we focus on feeding cattle, the more we diminish the biodiversity of the globe. Fifteen out of 24 key ecosystem services are reckoned to be in decline, with the prime blame laid at the feet of our clove-hoofed friends.
They're chomping through so much grass that 20 percent of their pastures has been written off as overgrazed, the land now vulnerable to compaction and soil erosion. Overgrazing also disturbs water cycles, reducing replacement both from the sky and the diminishing water table. Where drylands have been turned over to livestock, the problem is even more severe. The land is become desert.
The biodiversity loss of marine ecosystems in the South China Sea has been blamed on contamination by phosphorous and nitrogen, coming from the on-land waste of animals, the antibiotics and hormones used in their feed, the fertilizers and pesticides applied to the crops that fatten them, along with chemicals from tanneries.
Want another slice of that beef? Instead, why not nip in your car down to your supermarket for another protein source.
Refer to my protein posting on Sunday for ideas!


That pivotal day leading to the banishment of meat from my diet forever reveals a short but interesting story. All my life I accepted meat on my plate at almost every meal from bacon at breakfast to meatloaf at dinnertime. I KNOW I mentioned in an earlier post my infatuation with liverwurst sandwiches on wheat with ketchup, gross. Even grosser, I admit I dabbled in a bit of sorority madness during my second year of college at Pacific, in Stockton in 1995. As a Delta Gamma I not only proudly donned an anchor sweatshirt 'round campus but also paid to eat exclusively in the sorority house kitchen most meals.

Sitting at the table for dinner one night, I separated a piece of meat from the chicken bone and literally thought, "This could EASILY be the bone of my dog, featuring HIS meat and not some faceless chicken." That was it. I couldn't stomach the idea of eating meat again. Granted, I did eat shrimp and crab on occasion, and continued to peruse and consume items found in the dairy aisle until about 3 years ago when I began following a strict vegan regimen.
I remember how elated I felt to be on a new adventure. Humans CRAVE "firsts." First time you travel to a foreign land, first time you drive a car by yourself, first time you drive your new car, first child being born, having sex for the first time, first boyfriends, your first job, etc. There is a need for fresh experiences. Giving myself the confidence to become a vegan who makes sacrifices for animals and the earths well-being was challenging at first, but now its almost like a series of "firsts" everyday. There is always someone new to talk to about food and how great it feels to go to the doctor with no fear of health problems. There is always a new product to try at the store or a new restaurant featuring vegan items. Honestly, it may seem as if the bar is set low so expectations are met, but I cannot tell you how GREAT it feels to not be responsible for ANY animals being slaughtered or treated poorly because I WANT to eat a steak, drink some milk, eat some cheese or wear a cows skin on my feet. Talk about a huge weight pulled from the shoulders.
I find that my choice to partake in no animal anything results in my desire to try new things in other aspects of my life. Take this blog for instance. If I did not strictly follow my own advice, no one would read this blog. Thanks to my dedicated readers, I am fueled enough to continue writing! I know old habits die hard, but remember the first time you took a trip to Europe or made out with your girl/boyfriend? Damn thats fun! Its time to make a couple of changes to renew your life. Its easier than you think. For one day, try eating foods that your great-great grandmother would recognize as food. I think you will be surprised in how many firsts you experience in this experiment!