Monday, November 29, 2010

Reasons to Smile: Post Thanksgiving Edition

1. I've extended the deadline for my Terrific Thanksgiving Giveaway! Want the chance to win a free cookbook? I'm looking for vegan holiday meal photos to feature on the blog. Check out this link to learn how to enter! 

2. Sitting around a group of vegan and non-vegan friends and taking in the joy and peace of knowing that the Thanksgiving meal you shared did not involve a single turkey. In fact, it was almost entirely vegan!

2. Finding out from a new friend that they've decided to try going vegan after I hoped they would.

3. Karen Dawn, activist and author of Thanking the Monkey, showing some feathered friends she values their life during a holiday that usually doesn't.

4. Looking into the eyes of your partner in crime and reaffirming the love you share - at a farmed animal sanctuary. 

(To be clear, I should note: I surprised my husband with a vow renewal at Animal Acres this past Sunday. Sarah Cooper, one of Animal Acres' wonderful new employees, officiated. The amazing Joanna Wilson of Joanna Wilson Photography and Brian Leahy of The Groom Says witnessed. Cameron O' Steen, Animal Acres' education liason, was in attendance and helped with all of the details of the day. It was glorious and very worthy of a spot on this list today.) 

5. Reading ninety pledges from people all over the world declaring on here that you wouldn't consume a turkey on Thanksgiving and feeling as if my heart grew two sizes bigger. You are all my heroes.

6. Sharing a good stare with a rescued donkey who wants nothing more than to snuggle with you.

7. Getting to see Bold Native yet again - and purchase a DVD too! If you haven't heard of this tremendously brave, beautiful film, please visit their website right now -

8. Talking with a safe, happy, curious turkey.

9. Hearing from my dad that talking to me pushed him to not eat a turkey this Thanksgiving. Go Dad!

10. Although it felt like I was a million miles away (since I was thousands), receiving photos on my phone from my mom, brother and sister at Thanksgiving, which included an entirely vegan Thanksgiving dinner.  

11. The fact that Christmas is only a few weeks away... :)

What are YOUR reasons to smile today?

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Terrific Thanksgiving Turkey Pledge!

Hello boys and girls,

Well, Thanksgiving is upon us, and with that, the hustle and bustle of finding just the right food to display on the table for everyone to munch on. Stuffing! Mashed Potatoes! Cranberry sauce out of a can! Hey, you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can't take the New Jersey out of the girl...

This year, I am challenging you - YES YOU! - to a

Terrific Thanksgiving Turkey Pledge!

Here's how it goes:

First: Watch this amazing video below my friend and fellow activist Ciddy Fonteboa made.

Second: In the comment section below, I want you to make a firm commitment NOT to eat turkeys this Thanksgiving.  You can say something as simple as "No turkey for me!" or as long as "I would never dream of consuming turkeys because their too cute to eat, pass the tofurky please!"

I would love to see if we can get around 100 pledges by Thanksgiving. And don't worry - you can be a vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eater-slowly-transitioning-to-kiss-worthy-vegan and still post a comment below! 


My last post featuring some of the fabulous members of the KMIV family included a Giveaway.

A Giveaway?
Yes, a Giveaway! 

Here's your chance to win a free copy of one of the cookbooks featured in last week's post!

(Forgot which cookbooks they were? Check out this link to learn more!)

Last year's first vegan and married Thanksgiving at the Wolf-Smith home!
To enter to win a free cookbook, please email with a photo of a vegan dish you made for Thanksgiving - extra points if your dinner photo doesn't include a turkey!

Please include with that photo:

1) A sentence or two about your dish, and

2) One major thing you're thankful for this year.

I will choose three winners to feature in a Thanksgiving Roundup Blog in early December!

The deadline for this giveaway is Monday, November 29th. So, open those holiday cookbooks and get crackin' people! 

Need cooking inspiration? Check out my Thanksgiving post for ideas to help you get started.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just In Time for The Holidays: A Dessert Cookbook Review Extravaganza!

Today is a very special post indeed, because it features not one, but eleven guest bloggers!

About a month ago, I gave these lovely ladies an assignment - to help me review a few brand spankin' new vegan cookbooks on the market. And help me they did! 
The cool part for readers today? Not only do you get to read these awesome reviews, but recipes are included for your own testing, and we'll be giving away copies of these books to three lucky readers!! 
The three cookbooks coming to you from Book Publishing Company, as part of their Luscious Vegan Desserts Campaign, are as delicious as they are diverse. They are:
Simple Treats: 
by Ellen Abraham
by Sharon Valencik

All three cookbooks already rock because they contain yummy vegan desserts that my ladies found easy to make and fun to consume. While I could go on and on, I'd rather let the reviewers do the talking!

From Fran Costigan's cookbook, More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally, I chose Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins, a seasonal goodie I thought the ladies would love. 
Reviewer Kira (who used fresh pumpkin puree instead of canned and whose photo is below) says:  This recipe is a great way to use up leftover Halloween pumpkins, but also a good excuse to buy pumpkin! The spiced purée made the muffins moist on the inside, and gave them a complex flavor - it was a great foil for the tart cranberries! Making the muffins was really easy (my four-year-old helped), and super quick once the prep was out of the way. The batter came out sticky, and I was afraid something had gone wrong somewhere, but the little guys domed up in the oven like champs and tasted oh-so-yummy fresh from the oven. The texture is more like a breakfast scone than a muffin, but the flavor makes up for it (also, I love scones). These were tasty little creations, and I will probably be making them again! Also, I was excited to learn from the recipe that there is actually a term for curdling soymilk to make a buttermilk substitute: clabbering. I will be using the word often.
Reviewer Brandi says: I was extremely excited to make this recipe.  Loved the idea of a pumpkin cranberry muffin and given the fallen leaves in my area, thought they would go well with the season.  The recipe was very easy to follow.  I absolutely loved the pumpkin puree -- and was more than happy to have some extra to eat by itself!

Reviewer Samantha says:  When I first received the recipe to test for Kiss Me I'm Vegan!, I was so excited!  Ever since becoming a vegan, I have had a new love affair with cooking and baking, in particular.  I can make a pretty mean vegan chocolate chip cookie now, if I do say so myself, and now I was ready to add Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins to my repertoire!
Assembling the ingredients was a snap (although I was unable to find dark whole cane sugar, but an all natural dark sugar did the trick just fine), and the steps were simple. Halloween eve, I made up the Spiced Pumpkin Puree and left it overnight in the refrigerator to use the next day.  The next morning, I mixed the batter, and baked up the first dozen muffins.   I had enough batter left to make another six, so I experimented with filling the cups all the way to make bigger muffins - adding a few extra minutes in the oven was all it took for them to turn out perfectly.   
The smell of Fall filled the kitchen as they cooked - Halloween was a perfect day to make these!  And they tasted delicious (on their own and with a swirl of Earth Balance)!  My non-vegan father even took three home with him to have for a snack later - and that's really saying something!  I'm planning to make them again for a Thanksgiving breakfast feast in a few weeks. Yum!
Spiced Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins 
Recipe by Fran Costigan
Yield: 12 to 13 standard muffins 
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1. c. unbleached white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 c. soymilk
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 c., plus 1 tbsp. Spiced Pumpkin Puree (recipe to follow)
1/2 c. oil (safflower or sunflower)
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp orange extract
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. dried cranberries

1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and pre-heat to 400 degrees. Oil the top and cups of a 12-c. standard muffin tin. (The cups can be lined with paper liners but the tops of the tin still must be oiled).

2. To make the muffins, place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the flour, white flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to the strainer. Tap the strainer against the palm of your hand to sift the ingredients into the bowl. Stir with a wire whisk to distribute the ingredients.

3. Mix the soymilk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for 2-3 min. (This is called clabbering and will result in a buttermilk subsitute.)

4. Combine the pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the clabbered soymilk and whisk until well blended. Pour into the dry mixture and stir only until the batter is smooth. Stir the cranberries into the batter and spoon into the prepared tin, filling each cup three-quarters full. (Any leftover batter can be backed in an oiled custard cup.)

5. Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until the muffins are well risen (the tops will be domed). golden brown, and a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

6. Cool the tin on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a thin knife between the muffins and the inside of the cups, and lift each muffin onto the rack to cool completely.
Spiced Pumpkin Puree 
Yield: 2 cups

2 c. (16 oz) unsweetened pumpkin puree
2/3 c. dark whole cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a simmer and sputters. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly until the puree is dark, shiny, and thickened, and the sugar has dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and spoon into a container. Cool, cover, and refrigerate or freeze. Allow time for the puree to return to room temperature before using.

From Ellen Abraham's cookbook, Simple Treats: A Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free Guide to Scrumptious Baked Goods, I chose Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints, a recipe that spoke to my heart because my family has been making a variation of these at Christmastime every single year.  This was also a special recipe because it was gluten-free!
Recipe courtesy of Reviewer Jennifer
Reviewer Jennifer says: I found this recipe to be very easy to make. All I really needed was the food processor, 2 bowls, a spatula, and a baking sheet (plus measuring cups and spoons). I thought the trick of using a bottom of a glass to flatten the cookies worked very well. All in all, I think it took about 10 minutes of prep to get these cookies in the oven. It even made exactly 18 cookies just like the recipe said. The hardest part was finding the barley flour!
Reviewer Ariel says: Peanut butter cookies are pretty much my favorite things - a little salty, a little sweet, a lot delicious. So, here's the scoop: These cookies taste AMAZING. The dough is really sticky and they didn't come out so pretty for me, despite my very best cookie wizarding. Perhaps this can be attributed to my inability to find barley flour anywhere. (I live in Chicago with a HUGE Whole Foods that has nearly every Bob's Red Mill product, and still no barley flour.) I used whole wheat flour in one batch and quinoa flour in another, but neither resulted in a perfectly coherent cookie. The texture of the cookie was actually a bit closer to a scone. But, all that aside, they're still really, really tasty and I anticipate making them again!  
Reviewer Kristina says: First off, the thumbprints are delicious. The ingredients were easy to find, reasonably priced and I had most them in my pantry already. The instructions were straightforward and the cookies were quick to make. They would be excellent when someone is in a pinch. The only problem I had was resisting eating all the dough which is just as good as the cookies! 
Photo courtesy of Review Bev
Reviewer Bev says: Okay, I made these yesterday and they were very easy to make. The instructions were concise and easy to follow and the results were amazing. My hubby is a diehard peanut butter fan and wasn’t too impressed when I told him there was no PB in the PB cookies - until he took a bite that is! He a-d-o-r-e-d them. In fact, he asked me to make them again this weekend! My daughter loved them too, and kept finding different ways to remove the jelly without touching the cookie! 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints

Recipe by Ellen Abraham

Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies 

1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. safflower or sunflower oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. roasted peanuts (place peanuts in a 350 degree oven until browned nicely, and stir once or twice while roasting to make sure they don't burn)
3/4 c. rolled oats
1 c. barley flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. grape jelly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the syrup, oil, and vanilla; set aside. Process the peanuts and oats in a food processor or blender until they are they are the consistency or fine meal. (Be sure the peanuts are completely cool before processing; otherwise, you will end up with a pasty mess).

In a separate, larger bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. (Sifting isn't absolutely necessary, but it ensures there won't be clumps of flour or salt in the batter.) Add the nut-oat mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix with a spatula until everything is well incorporated.

With a 1-oz ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop out 1 heaping of the batter onto well-oiled or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Flatten the cookies slightly with the bottom of a cup or glass. (Dip the bottom of the cup/glass in warm water before flattening each cookie. The water will prevent the batter from sticking.)

With your thumb or the back of a tsp. measuring spoon, make an indentation in the top of each cookie. (Dip the spoon into warm water to prevent the batter from sticking.) Place 1/2 teaspoon of the jelly into the indentation of each cookie.

Bake for 11 minutes and rotate the cookie sheets a half turn to ensure even baking. Bake 4-5 minutes more or until the cookies are golden around the edges. Let cool on the cookie sheets 5-6 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. 

From Sharon Valencik's cookbook, Sweet Utopia, I chose Divine Chocolate Pudding, a recipe that seemed easy and fun to make. Thankfully, the ladies had as much fun as I had anticipated and even got the whole family involved!

Alison's adorable two-year old helper!
Reviewer Alison says:  It was pretty simple to make! I've never made pudding before so I was unsure how it would go, and  I was a bit worried I didn't make it right since after stirring in the chocolate chips there were tiny little clumps - but they went away after being refrigerated.  I think this tastes great - it is not too rich, so I don't feel gross after eating a few bites.  My family loved it too, and next time I'll have to double the recipe so it will last a bit longer for a family of four.  I managed to snap a pic of my two year old - I never realized that I could get her to sit still for a long time with pudding and a teeny tiny baby spoon - I'll have to do that next time I need to accomplish something! 
Reviewer Shelly says: I was pretty excited to see this recipe hit my inbox! A vegan chocolate pudding - sounds good to me! Pudding is one thing I hadn't yet tried to veganize.  The recipe was easy enough to follow. I've never made pudding from scratch before, so the whole experience was new to me. I got to try out one of my new kitchen gadgets - the sifter - and what a surprise it was when I started sifting the cocoa. I think I inhaled half of it, while the other half ended up in the pan! While the end result was less thick than I expected, it was certainly delicious! Decadent, even. It turned out more like a thick sauce than pudding for me. I enjoyed a bowl for dessert, and the next day enjoyed a bit more drizzled on top of some fresh strawberries. This morning, I'm having some on my oatmeal. (Chocolate for breakfast? Have I landed in heaven?!) Overall, thumbs up!
Reviewer Carla says: My daughter helped me put all of the ingredients together and sift the dry ingredients into the pan (she's three years old, so that's a testament to how easy it was!!). The directions were clear and easy to follow and from start to finish, I had the whole thing done (and cleaned up) in about 20 minutes. The pudding itself was DEEEELICIOUS!! I couldn't believe how smooth, rich, and creamy it was!  I can see how I will be able to use this recipe to surprise non-vegans with how good a vegan dessert can be (and how much it tastes like a comfort food that they can recognize!).  
Reviewer Nathalie says: It's a really simple and quick recipe which is something I love. Although the recipe says it takes 10 min of stirring on the stove to thicken, it actually took me 15 min for the consistency to change. Once poured into a bowl, I licked the pan and it was so good! I tasted it last night for dessert and the taste of cocoa is decadent and delicious. Would I make it again? Absolutely!

Divine Chocolate Pudding 
Recipe by Sharon Valencik
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c. granulated vegan sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. vanilla soymilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract or additional vanilla extract
1/3 non-dairy chocolate chips.

Sift the cocoa powder into a medium saucepan. Mix in the sugar, cornstarch, and slat until there are no lumps. Place on low to medium heat and slowly whisk in the soymilk until the mixture is smooth. Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened (it should be the consistency of cake batter). Do not let the mixture come to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the extracts. Then stir in the chocolate chips and continue stirring until they are completely melted.

Pour evenly into six-6 oz. ramekins or a large bowl. Cool, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4-8 hours before serving, or until thoroughly chilled. Store leftover pudding tightly covered in the refrigerator. 
* Endless thanks to the tireless, dedicated KMIV volunteers who helped make this cookbook review a success.  You are all vegan baking rock stars! *
And, now, for the 

Here's your chance to win a free copy of one of the cookbooks featured today!

I challenge you - yes, YOU - to a Vegan Thanksgiving Challenge!
To enter to win a free cookbook, please submit a photo of a vegan dish you made for Thanksgiving - extra points if your dinner photo doesn't include a turkey! 
Please include with that photo:
1) A sentence or two about your dish, and 
2) One major thing you're thankful for this year. 
I will choose three winners to feature in a Thanksgiving Roundup Blog in early December!

The deadline for this giveaway is Monday, November 29th. So, open those holiday cookbooks and get crackin' people! 

Need cooking inspiration? Check out my Thanksgiving post for ideas to help you get started.
Book Publishing Company is also doing a giveaway of their own this month. Click this link to learn more and enter for a chance to win a free vegan cookbook!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Very Early Christmas Present

Photo ©
Last month, I was contacted about a brand new book by Catskills Animal Sanctuary founder Kathy Stevens called Animal Camp: Lessons in Love and Hope from Rescued Farm Animals. I'm about sixty pages away from finishing it, and it has already made such an impact on me. I'll be featuring Cathy in a big interview and review of the book in the coming weeks - and if below is any indicator, it's going to be a glow-filled, joyful post!

Last night, I came across a passage about how Kathy celebrates Christmas. As you all know on here (or as you will soon come to learn), I live for all things Christmas. I'm actually listening to my Pandora Christmas station as I type these words. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year, and any chance I get to celebrate it, I surely do.
I was humbled and moved so much by Kathy's words last night, and I know you will be too. Kathy has devoted her life to a cause that needs her desperately, and every single day, she spends her time caring for and advocating on behalf of the animals at Catskills Animal Sanctuary. And Christmas Day is no exception.

So, grab some hot cocoa (with soymilk of course!), nestle up to your computer, and bask in the beauty and glory of a Catskills Animal Sanctuary tradition. 

Merry Christmas World!

I could be with David in Hawaii, my Dad in Florida, my brother in Virginia, my sister and her wonderful brood in Michigan, or my grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins - the whole maternal clan - in Nashville.

Instead, clad in long johns, jeans, boots, gloves, hat, T-shirt, turtleneck, fleece vest, and jacket, I'm scooping poop at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, assisted by the great dog Murphy, and I couldn't be happier.

With our two animal caretakers either on vacation or taking the day off, I'm in the barn - per usual - on Christmas Day. WAMC, the public radio station, is airing Christmas essays, including David Sedaris's hilarious account of his single day working as an elf in a shopping mall. April and Allen and Alex [the CAS volunteers] are here with me. Quickly and effortlessly, we divide up the morning feed routine: April and Allen will feel the "outside" animals, mostly big animals in big pastures the farthest from the barn; Alex feeds the "barnyard" animals, the rabbits, ducks, and chickens in seven different shelters clustered closer to the main barn; and I feed the menagerie inside the barn: eight special needs horses whose age or condition have earned them a permanent spot there; the eighteen potbellies and big pigs who appreciate the heated stalls; twelve goats; Lama and Jack, our two blind (or nearly) sheep; an eclectic assortment of birds - five roosters, Norma Jean the turkey, roosters Sumo, Rocky, Doodles, and Scribble... and so on. Today, a few extra treats are placed in each feed dish. Today, every single animal gets a kiss. Every chicken gets held, every pig is massaged, every horse muzzle has a kiss planted on its smooth, warm center.

"Umh umphh," Franklin the pig grunts in gratitude. And Norma Jean, our rescued turkey, settles into my lap - uncertainly at first, but with each new breath, she lets go a little until her eyes are heavy and she's asleep.

I steal away mid-morning and an hour later return with three dozen pancakes. Christmas brunch in the barn! We pass juice and maple syrup, and vegan dietician George Eisman and his girlfriend, Melanie Carpenter, come by with one of Melanie's extraordinary desserts. So what if we've just finished a pound of strawberry pancakes apiece? It's Christmas! We dive into Melanie's chocolate mousse pie. This food is all made without animal products. And it's all divine.

Outside the kitchen door, Franklin grunts. "Can I come in?" he pleads. We're tempted, but as you know, Franklin is no longer the five-pound piglet who arrived at Catskill Animal Sanctuary three winters ago. He is 700 pounds, and a 700-pound pig loose in a kitchen wouldn't be pretty... not even on Christmas.

I grab a handful of pancakes and slip out the back door. "Merry Christmas, best pig in the world," I whisper to my friend, who gleefully gobbles the pancakes. "Come on boy, it's time to go back to work," I say to him, and Murphy, Franklin, and I head down the drive to clean the goose house.

Merry Christmas, World. 

Located two hours north of New York City, Catskills Animal Sanctuary provides a safe and loving haven for abused horses and farm animals – animals who have never known warm shelter, spacious pastures, good food, or the touch of a kind hand. Since 2001, CAS has provided refuge for over 1,700 such animals, and served as a center to raise awareness of their mistreatment and its impact on all of us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Love Letter.

Photo © Joanna Wilson Photography

Glow is what you have after learning to joyfully live in accordance with your values and beliefs. Glow is what I have been blissfully feeling ever since my two-year mark of veganism passed last month, and as I was cleaning a boatload of dishes and sipping some coffee tonight, it hit me. I'm really happy. And veganism is to blame.

Oh sure, I could blame this glee on a certain husband who I will be celebrating my one-year wedding anniversary with this weekend. Or I could blame it on the fact that I'm finally starting to love my animal advocacy job. But if I really take the time to think about it, living vegan is my biggest "reason to smile" lately - and for good reason too. Because of living vegan, I can finally look at any animal I pass during the day and know that I am doing all that I can to help them live a better life here. Because of living vegan, I can go to sleep each night feeling at peace with my body and mind, knowing that I'm feeding them both by acting as compassionately and positively as possible each day. Because of living vegan, I smile and laugh and swell with gratitude at this amazing gift that fell into my lap two years ago. Because of living vegan, I love more deeply, breathe more fully, and trust each and every instinct inside of me. Because of living vegan, I feel free - free to be my best self, free to be honest with what I really want in life, free to be as present as possible.

So, thank you, veganism, for helping me to shine and glow. I love you more than words can say, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

A New Kind of Turkey Day

Visiting with some newly rescued turkeys yesterday at Animal Acres reminded me that Thanksgiving is only two and a half weeks away, and with it, the ever more present need within all of us activists to encourage people to learn more about the precious, kind, gentle beings who fall victim to many a holiday meal on the big day. This year will mark my fourth Thanksgiving without a turkey on my plate, and as each year passes, I discover more and more about these amazing creatures and why we should celebrate them, not consume them, at Thanksgiving. Below is a short film I made of my experience at Animal Acres yesterday:

Every year on the blog, I try to share ways to enjoy Thanksgiving without a single animal product at your holiday table, and this year is no different! Below, you will find recipes and links to wonderful holiday resources. I hope that these ideas will help inspire you to create or continue celebrating Thanksgiving traditions compassionately and joyfully!

 Smile-Inducing, Mouth-Watering, Tummy-Loving Recipes for Thanksgiving

Lila the turkey and me at Animal Acres
 You'll notice that I reference Bryanna Clark Grogan in a lot of my recipes below, and that's because she is a vegan cooking goddess whose cooking skills need to be shared with everybody. Check out her website to learn more, and I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Country Fried Cutlets 
(recipe courtesy of Bryanna Clark Grogan),

served along with:

Country Style Gravy

I take Bryanna's marinade, place it in a small pot on medium heat, and I add a few tablespoons of Earth Balance Margarine and stir occasionally. Once the margarine dissolves, I mix a few tablespoons of flour and water together to make a paste, and I add that to the marinade (you can also use cornstarch). I stir it slowly until it reaches a thickness level I like. Add more flour/water paste if you want it thicker.

Father-In-Law Approved Vegan Meatloaf
This recipe was inspired by a really awesome guy named Jacob, whose recipe I found online one day last year. Last Thanksgiving, Steve's dad reluctantly tried this meatloaf and ended up having seconds. Thanks Jacob!

1 14oz. package GimmeLean sausage 
 (make sure to get sausage, not beef)
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tbsp of dried parsley 
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 c. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 servings of EnerG Egg Replacer 
 (mixed with water according to directions on the package)
3 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp olive, safflower, or coconut oil
1 tbsp all-purpose white flour

Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl with your hands until they just come together.  Put in a lightly oiled loaf pan and sprinkle some extra nutritional yeast on top. Bake at 350 degrees  for 45 minutes, or until loaf is heated completely through and browned nicely on top.

Turkey-Friendly Stuffing
(I recommend doubling or tripling this recipe if you have a lot of people coming)

1 package of your favorite vegan bread
2 c. onion, chopped well
2 c. celery, chopped well
3 tbsp Earth Balance Margarine
4 servings EnerG Egg Replacer
(mixed with water according to directions on the package)
3 tbsp. Poultry Seasoning
2-3 c. Really good Vegetable Broth or Stock
More Poultry Seasoning to taste
Salt to taste

Place margarine in a medium-sized pan on medium heat. Once it melts, add onions, celery, poultry seasoning, and salt. Stir occasionally and cook for 5-7 minutes. While vegetables are cooking, rip up bread into small chunks and place in a casserole dish. Once vegetables are done cooking, pour them onto bread and mix well. Slowly pour egg replacer over everything, and mix well. Add enough broth to moisten the mixture. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes, or until the top of the stuffing has browned nicely.

Remember to taste your mixture before putting it in the oven to make sure it has enough Poultry Seasoning.

Vegan Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Photo courtesy of Joanna Wilson Photography
Based on the same recipe as the Traditional Stuffing, but added to the mix will be sliced apples and crumbled, browned Gimme Lean sausage or Field Roast Sausage. To make the sausage crumbles, just add some olive oil to a pan, heat to medium, crumble sausage into the pan and cook until nicely browned. Add whatever spices you want to add extra flavor, mix into your stuffing mix and cook as directed above. 

Classic Mashed Potatoes

Bryanna Clark Grogan's  

courtesy of VegNews

Other Rockin' Thanksgiving Recipe Links:

Cameron O'Steen and Turkey Lurkey at Animal Acres (photo courtesy of Joanna Wilson Photography)

I hope these recipes and links will help get you started in your preparations for a compassionate, delicious, and joyful Thanksgiving!

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
- John F. Kennedy

Friday, November 5, 2010

Newbies to the Movement: A Guest Blog by Liz Longacre

Liz Longacre is an activist, blogger, soon-to-be business owner, and someone I would consider a loving friend - her heart is huge and she spreads kindness and compassion wherever she goes. Although having only been vegan for less than a year, Liz writes to her blog readers like a seasoned veteran, which just goes to prove how beyond her years she is in terms of her rockin' activism and lifestyle. I am thrilled to be sharing this awesome guest post with you guys and gals! You can learn more about Liz and the work she does at the bottom of the post. For now, grab some coffee (or tea), sit back, and enjoy a beautiful, inspiring post by Liz Longacre.

What Newbies to the Vegan Movement Can Expect
Tips for How to Transition

I call it a vegan movement because that’s exactly what it is. Like people throughout history who’ve fought against racism or sexism, we vegans view the world’s exploitation of animals with great shame and we fight everyday with our choices and advocacy because we have a hope and a vision of a better world for animals - a world where animals are protected from needless suffering, where the intensive confinement of factory farming is abolished, and where animals are treated as the majestic, emotional, loving and sentient creatures that they are, instead of as commodities. As in any movement, there is an endless amount of resistance, backlash and conflicting ideals that we must face. 

While I’ve had a passion for animals basically since birth, I’m relatively new to veganism. I was a vegetarian for 12 years but only became a vegan 9 months ago at the age of 31. When I became a vegetarian 12 years ago I didn’t know jack about factory farms. I stopped eating animals because I loved them and didn’t feel right eating them. And I don’t just mean I loved my own pets, I mean I felt love for every single species, from the squirrels to the raccoons to the pigs. As I remember Lindsay once writing on this blog, I too even had an affection for ground worms. My father’s favorite story, which he told on my wedding day, was how at around the age of seven I refused to let him use the worms he purchased to go fishing because I swore they were using their bodies to form numbers on my hand and therefore they were WAY too smart to be hooked on a fishing line! In a way, I’ve always felt this instinct to protect the most vulnerable. 

I was an extremely shy child growing up and in many ways I could look into the eyes of an animal and feel a sense of peace, acceptance and understanding that I didn’t always feel as easily with people. I learned at a young age the many ways in which an animal can truly save a person, or even a family, and that the unconditional love of an animal is not something to take for granted. It’s one of the most precious gifts of love on our planet and it’s a gift we should learn from and emulate. 

That all being said, I spent most of my life clueless as to how much animals suffer in our farming industry, which is exactly how factory farmers wanted me to be. It wasn’t until I exposed myself to all of the undercover factory farm investigations that I really understood what was going on and understood that eating dairy is just as harmful to animals as eating meat. After watching enough videos making the decision to become vegan was a no-brainer.

Because I entered this vegan world somewhat later in life, most of the people in my life are full on meat eaters. I often feel a bit isolated in my values when I’m with these people who I love so dearly and feel so close to in all other aspects of life. I also often feel judged and scrutinized by them. On top of that I worry about making them feel uncomfortable, even though I’m the one who’s usually the brunt of jokes! Becoming vegan in a non-vegan world can sometimes feel isolating and polarizing.

The more vegans I meet the less alone in my beliefs I feel. Now it almost feels like I have my feet planted in 2 different worlds – the vegan world and the non-vegan world. The more I connect with the vegan world the more I feel like part of an unstoppable veggin army that’s taking HUGE strides to protect animals! That feeling is legitimate, we are taking huge strides, more and more protections are surfacing for animals every day. But then I’ll hang out in my other world - with people who will eat meat no matter how aware they are of the suffering or people who still don’t know much about factory farming, don’t know what a gestation crate is, don’t know what the dairy industry has to do with the veal industry, don’t know how unhealthy factory farmed meat is for their own bodies, don’t know the extent to which factory farming is destroying our environment, and who frankly don’t really care - and I’m reminded of how very far we still have to go.   

It can be challenging suddenly finding yourself split between 2 worlds. Here are some lessons I’ve learned throughout my journey to veganism that may help all you other newbie vegans out there to keep your feet grounded. 

1. Don’t Turn Your Back on the Non-Veggies in Your World.    

I’ve been participating in a lot of vegan activities lately and I’ve heard a couple of comments (the rare exception, not the norm) about not keeping people in your life who aren’t vegan. At a weekend animal rights conference I went to in July someone even questioned my decision to marry a non-vegan man and implied that I may want to reconsider that decision. That didn’t sit well with me. I understood the passion behind the statement but the people in my life, including my husband, are wonderful people. Not having them in my life would not only mean I lose their love but it would also mean I lose the opportunity to make changes in my non-vegan world. 

My husband may not be vegan but he went from consuming meat at almost every meal, to constantly reducing his consumption, to just recently (three weeks ago!!) officially declaring himself vegetarian!! He’s also replaced cow’s milk with rice milk, something I never thought I’d see him do! On top of that, he recently asked me if I’d want to do a raw food month in January “to start the year off right”!!! Could I be more in love?! I didn’t force him to make these changes. He’s just learned a lot about factory farming and healthy eating that’s caused him to evolve his eating habits. It didn’t happen overnight, but it was worth the wait! Now when he’s out at a steak house with his friends he proudly texts me pictures of the veggie dishes he’s ordered instead of meat - suddenly my formerly steak grubbing hubby ain’t too proud to publicly veg!! To me, there is nothing sexier.

More and more friends and acquaintances have been reaching out to me to tell me how the information I’ve shared with them has influenced their eating habits. People I NEVER would have expected to care about these issues have reduced or eliminated their consumption of animal products or are now purchasing animal products from local family farms where the animals are raised more humanely. Hearing these updates is so rewarding and exciting. So keep your feet in both worlds, you never know how much influence you may unleash. 

2. Work on Your Advocacy Skills, Don’t Make People Hate You. 

This is something I’ve struggled with - a lot. I tend to get so passionate about protecting animals that I get worked up, pushy and emotional when people don’t see things my way - because my way is right, duh!! ;) But seriously, I’ve learned that this is NOT an effective approach in making changes and often has the opposite effect because people become offended, defensive and, worst of all, stubborn. If you are at all emotional like I am, work on refining your arguments so that they are based on facts, statistics, stories and compassionate awareness. Instead of making people feel bad about themselves, make them feel engaged and inspired. Educate people, don’t lecture them, make them feel like a participant not an outcast.

Winning Argument Tip: I stole this tip from Bruce Friedrich, VP of Policy and Government Affairs for PETA, during a speech he gave recently at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. Please now steal it from me because it works! Explain to people that when they buy meat, eggs or dairy, they are not just buying a finished product, they are paying someone to both raise the animals and slaughter them. So they should ask themselves if they are okay with paying someone to do things that they would not be comfortable doing themselves. If they wouldn’t be able to shove an animal into a crate so small it can hardly move for its entire life, then why would they pay someone to do it for them? If they wouldn’t be able to take an alive, fully conscious animal and cut its throat, or throw it into boiling water or a grinder, or skin it as it struggles, then why would they pay someone to do it for them? If they wouldn’t be able to separate a baby animal from its mother and watch their agony or if they wouldn’t be able to stand by and watch workers brutally abuse animals just for fun, then why would they pay someone to do it for them? If it would break your heart to see or participate in the suffering of animals like this, then why would you pay someone to do the things that are done on factory farms every single day? Check out Bruce Friedrich’s book, The Animal Activist’s Handbook, for more tips. 

3. Be Patient with People. 

Just because you’ve had a veggie enlightenment doesn’t mean those around you will jump on the veggie wagon. If people in your life do start to make changes, be supportive, even if those changes are slow, like my husband’s. What’s great about gradual changes is that the more people reduce their consumption of animal products and replace them with healthy plant based products, the more their tastes buds begin to change and the more their brains begin to undo their previous programming. Meat becomes less and less desirable and healthy plant, fruit, grain and bean foods start to taste more and more vegalicious! It has a veggieball effect!! So support people with positivity as they start to make changes. You can’t change everyone overnight so remember, slow and steady wins the bean sprout race! 

4. Make Buds with Other Vegans! 

If you are new to the vegan world, you may be feeling really alone and isolated with respect to your values. It’s hard always being the only lonely vegan out at dinner with a bunch of close friends. Start connecting with other vegans, you’ll realize that you are not alone, there are tons of compassionate people out there who share your same values for animal welfare and get just as excited about chowing down some good humane grub! Join meet-ups, participate in animal welfare events and connect with people and organizations on facebook, twitter and in online forums. Volunteer with an organization or at an event and you’ll be bound to make friends with some interesting veg-heads. I’m just starting to do this myself. For those of us on the shy awkward side, it can certainly be intimidating, but it’s also fun and exciting! I met the lovely Lindsay and her friend Molly of The Vegan Everything out at an event! So go on, put yourself out there! Hey, I’ll be your friend ;) 

5. Be Proud to be Veggin.  

Becoming vegan ain’t easy. It often goes against cultural norms, family traditions (Thanksgiving is definitely an upcoming reminder…), and social circle eating habits. Don’t let any ridicule or insensitivity sway you. With every movement comes resistance and backlash by the masses who like things just as they are and don’t want to be inconvenienced by “idealist do-gooders”. These masses have often stereotyped vegans as crazy, extremist, pansy-ass tree huggers. But times are changing! Vegans of today are finally being recognized as the warriors we are, fighting for the most oppressed with our every day choices. As with every movement, one day the world will look back with great shame and wonder how we ever allowed factory farmers to get away with what they did for so long. By taking a stand against the factory farming industry you automatically become a leader with the power to bring awareness and influence others. What you are doing is amazingly compassionate, brave and admirable. If you’ve ever had an animal in your life, you know very well that all animals are emotional, loving and sentient beings. Being selfless enough to honor the animals of the world by not participating in their suffering shows what a caring human(e) being you truly are. 

You are the hope in the world for all our furry friends.

Liz Longacre is the founder of Your Time Travels, a travel company for animal lovers. Liz has been a lover of all creatures large and small for as long as she can remember. Her company will provide animal friendly travel adventures that give back to animals and celebrate them. Whether you want to volunteer abroad with animal welfare projects (while mixing in some exciting sightseeing/adventure activities and fabulous hotel stays!), observe animals in their natural habitats through safari adventures, enjoy amazing vegetarian/vegan resorts, visit a farm sanctuary or travel with your own adorable pets, her company can get you there! Liz’s company is launching soon. You can keep up with her and all her furry crusades at her blog:

* Interested in guest blogging on Kiss Me, I'm Vegan? Rock on! All inquiries can be emailed to *


Monday, November 1, 2010

Reasons to Smile.

1. The fact that it's November, and that means I can:

Listen to holiday music. (a vegan Christmas baby can never start too early...) Add pumpkin spice to my coffee and soymilk every single day. Make yummy vegan desserts in the name of Thanksgiving Day preparation. Count down the days until Steve and my East Coast holiday return. (a mere forty-five, to be exact!) The list goes on and on...

2. Santa Monica's Veggie Pride Parade - what a fabulous, kind, fun, and entertaining day of veggie love! I couldn't be more proud to be a part of such a positive, compassionate movement. Special thanks to Animal Acres for making this awesome day possible!

3. New York Times including vegans in the Thanksgiving conversation by sharing vegan and vegetarian-friendly recipes all month long. To check out their first recipe, click here!

4. Liz Longacre, vegan blogger and founder of Your Time Travels sharing not one, but TWO rockin' guest posts this month! 

5. This picture.

 6. Speaking of bloggers, the beautiful authors of two vegan-friendly blogs: Cheryl Allen Salinas of A Midlife Vegan, Jeri and Dave over at God Dreams For Me in My Vegan Playground. You guys rock my socks!

Photo courtesy of Joanna Wilson Photography.

7. Pumpkin spice cupcakes. Need I say more?

8. Real Food Daily in West Hollywood. Simply. Amazing.

9. My blog's two year birthday on November 21st. More details to come! 

10. "Compassion is the foundation of everything positive, everything good. If you carry the power of compassion to the market place and the dinner table, you can make your life really count."  
- Rue McClanahan

What are your reasons to smile today?