Category Archives: Community

BREAKING NEWS – Japan’s Whaling Program Deemed Illegal by High Court

As some of you may know, I am a HUGE Sea Shepherd fan.   I have been a donating member of them since forever, and even had the pleasure to chat with Paul Watson when I was working for the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

They are not perfect in their execution, but they are in their mission: They are one of a very small number of activist groups that ACTUALLY get involved in the cause.  They literally put their lives on the line.

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Every year, they head to the Southern Ocean to protect endangered whale species from Japan’s whaling program.  While Japan uses a loophole (for research) they process and sell the whale meat back home to a rapidly dwindling customer base.

This ruling from the UN’s International Court of Justice is hopefully the final blow in the battle over whaling in the Southern Ocean.

The release from Sea Shepherd is here.

Can you Be Vegan and Still Keep your Man Card? (Possibly NSFW)

Manly stereotypes have been around as long as the image of a brawny lumberjack graced the wrappings of our favorite paper towels.

We have “Hungry Man” frozen meals, deodorants that promise zombie-slaying odor fighting, and tales of men that eat raw meat they slaughter themselves.  Marketers show us that the only real way to enjoy a sports game is by drinking beer and slapping some juicy steaks on the grill, or downing a platter of buffalo wings.

But where do tofu scrambles and bags of soy curl jerky come into play?  I want to identify some of the fallacies (freudian slip intended) that exist.

Continue reading Can you Be Vegan and Still Keep your Man Card? (Possibly NSFW)

The Vegan Fast Food Conundrum

In a recent Facebook vegan group, someone asked, “If McDonald’s came out with a vegan burger, would you eat it?”  The responses were pretty much split down the middle between “Yes, but only in emergencies” and a resounding “No.”

But I feel the answer is not as black and white as these two ends of the spectrum may lead us to believe, so I wanted to share my thoughts based this “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” conundrum.

Evil-Businessman

1. Fast Food empires are evil corporations that exploit animals (and people/environment) for profit.

This is, sadly very very true.  However, as corporations, the only language they  speak is dollars.  So to have a say at the table, vegans must pay to play.  By voting with our wallets and supporting chains that offer vegan options, we are proving to them that vegans are a substantial portion of their audience.  Even one vegan item at a place like McDonalds can translate into millions of animals saved per year, as a result of reduced meat consumption.

This could turn into a win for the animals and for us.

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2. This would be convenient for the vegan community when traveling/roadtripping/etc.

Score one for the vegans!  I can attest to this very fact as we travel quite a bit.  While probably not the healthiest option, I always can find a Taco Bell somewhere for a seven-layer burrito fresco style.   This is essentially beans, rice, lettuce, toms, and the damn tortilla.  It is not a fresh, organic salad (it’s probably full of GMOs) but it is also not a box of Clif Bars or other vegan standbys.  If more places offer vegan options, driving through places like Burley, Idaho would not be as difficult.

Some people that responded claimed it was a lack of proper planning that resulted in a need for vegan fast food.  And this is true.  But constantly planning is also tiring and sometimes it is just nice to pull up to the little window and get a bag of vegan burritos.

Let me go change so I can start cooking the vegan burger.
Let me go change so I can start cooking the vegan burger.

3. I don’t trust that the vegan burger wouldn’t be contaminated in the kitchen/on the grill.

This is probably the one thing that would totally weird me out. Just like it is hard to come out of a hospital and not be sick, it’s hard for a vegan patty to make it out of a place like McDonald’s without some animal residue on it.

I will say that on many occasions I have asked Taco bell management about their food handling practices and have been pretty impressed. Mostly because of liability with allergens, they have a very robust protocol for handling and avoiding cross contamination.  I would hope that other companies in the future would share that same level of concern.

Imagine "VEGAN" all over this puppy.
Imagine “VEGAN” all over this puppy.

4. A vegan option will help “normalize” veganism.

Any way that we can show the world that veganism is here to stay, is important.  When large chains start carrying, promoting, and selling vegan burgers, people will start to hear more and more about veganism and will perhaps give it a shot.  Not all vegans eat salad and rice for dinner, and it is important to appeal to all diet types in order for veganism to be widely accepted.

Conclusion

In the end, we do not need to eat at these places every day.  Whether road tripping, working through lunch, or just seeking a sinful dinner, vegan fast food options can be a good thing.

Personally, any way we can get veganism into the mainstream will only help to further our cause and help educate others on the reality of vegans and veganism.

We can also show companies that our market share is growing, and we will soon be a force to be reckoned with.

Help answer the question.  Would YOU eat a vegan burger if sold at major fast food chains like McDonalds, Wendy’s or Burger King?

Everyday People doing Beautiful Things

It isn’t everyday that the Jeeping community gets to do something that dramatically helps other people.  So when we heard about a restored 1974 Jeep J20 being donated to a family to help them, I jumped at the chance of being part of the Jeep family that would deliver the truck.

Our small group of Jeeps met in Troutdale and convoyed out to Hood River where we finally met up with others and the Hood River Police Department.  Aaron is a retired Hood River Police Officer that ended his career early to stay home and assist his son, Thomas who needs special care.

The Jeep convoy from Troutdale to Hood River.

The group “Keeping Disabled Vets Jeepin and Free” works on and provides Jeep vehicles to vets and those needing a little Jeep love to keep them offroading and to allow them respite from their day to day.

They do wonderful things.

With a full police escort, our group snaked through Hood River, and ended up 11 miles out at the Jubitz family home.

There, the family was surprised with their fully restored Jeep J20.

After some walkthroughs of the Jeep, and some words shared by most, it was time for the maiden voyage as Aaron drove his wife off in their new Jeep.

Below is a video from the day I put together:

The thought I walked away from is how there are so many people around us doing beautiful things, and we don’t even know it.

If you can, please make a contribution to the program by contacting the group on their Facebook page.

Am I Really an Earth Raper?

I have been called many things in my life. But “Earth Raper” really takes the cake.

I was waiting at a light one beautiful Summer day in NW Portland.  The Jeep had no doors or top on.  A “hipstery” guy crossed the street in front of me, staring condescendingly.  He then shouted at me, calling me an Earth Raper.

It stands as one of my favorite titles ever.

So I always wanted to dive into the question of how my vegan diet offsets the CO2 emissions of my “earth-raping” Jeep.

Michael Pollan addressed this issue a long time ago, tracing the carbon footprint from the oil needed to create fertilizer to grow grain for cattle, all the way to the trucks backing up to the grocery, delivering the meat for purchase.

He also compared the average Prius to a Hummer, to determine if a vegan in the Hummer could equal a meat eater in the Prius.  I would never drive a Hummer, so let’s sub that for a Jeep Wrangler.

Taking a look at the website fueleconomy.gov, I was able to determine that the 2013 Jeep Wrangler emits 6.9 metric tons of CO2 per year on average.    I then pulled equal stats for a Prius of the same year – 2.7 metric tons.

Side by side comparisons.

I then checked out shrinkthatfootprint.com to see the different emissions for different diets.   I found a “meat lover” was responsible for 3.3 tons of CO2, while a vegan owned 1.5 tons.

Courtesy shrinkthatfootprint.com

Next step was to assemble all this data into a simple table showing all the possible outcomes:

So based on the above data, a meat lover in a Prius is still slightly better than a vegan in a Jeep.  But, a meat lover in a Jeep is still much worse than a vegan. I am still removing 2.8 metric tons of CO2 each year, with a vegan diet.  However, this leaves me with an overhead of 2.4 tons per year.

This doesn’t sit well with me, so I need to dig a little deeper.

According to an in-depth study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, hybrid cars do, in fact, require more energy to produce than conventional cars, emitting more greenhouse gases and burning more fossil fuels during the manufacturing process.

This report is unbelievably detailed (take a look if you want to check it out).  But in the end, I found some interesting statistics:

  • Conventional vehicles contain 56% – 65% steel, while lightweight hybrids contain 21%-31%.  This means more plastics (aka petroleum products) are used.
  • Hybrids contain many more metals in their fabrication of the batteries, where conventional vehicles contain mostly steel, aluminum and copper:

In conclusion, the report summarizes that there are, in fact, more emissions in the manufacturing of hybrids and Fuel Cell Vehicles than conventional (ICEVs – Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle) vehicles.

Unfortunately, the report stops there and does not provide actual estimations of the CO2 impacts.

I am content knowing this:  I recycle.  I am vegan.  I drive a GAS HOG and I love it.  While I may still be emitting more than I am saving, at least my diet offsets some of my impact.

But for now, I am going to keep the “Earth Raper” name.

And I am okay with that.

My response to the MFA “Digiorno” Video

If you have not seen the video yet, I recommend you do.  It is hard to watch.  However, whether you are an omnivore or a full on vegan, we need to witness the brutality of what goes on behind closed doors in our food’s production process.

A worker kicks a cow.
A worker kicks a cow.

I am a huge believer that a free market economy can only thrive on an educated population – watching this video is part of that education. People need to vote with their wallets.

Primarily, my opinion is that we as humans know this is wrong.  There is no sugar coating it.  While these animals are alive and in our custody, we owe them the respect and dignity of any living being, regardless of species.  It needs to be fixed on a systemic level. Continue reading My response to the MFA “Digiorno” Video

Jeeps Take Over Veggie Grill

Jeeps, good beer, good food, and good people go together like…..like…..four things that should go together really well.

The fifth thing?  Delicious vegan food from Veggie Grill.

Each month, members of the NW Oregon and SW Washington Jeep club “Wranglers Off Road” have a get together.  This month, they chose Veggie Grill in Hillsboro to hold their meeting.

Veggie Grill was incredibly accommodating, setting up a meeting area and getting it ready.  There were some sandwiches and salads prepared, while some others decided to order their own choices from the expansive menu.

They had their signature sandwich – the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin as well as the All Hail Kale salad – an awesome choice for the new, albeit temporary vegans in attendance.

Others were seen ordering buffalo chickin wraps, mac and cheese, their new Yukon Gold fries, and many salads.  I of course ordered my old standby – the Buffalo Bomber (wrap style) with the new fries.

After the initial meet and greet was over, Mark worked his way down the agenda covering all the necessary topics including future jeep runs, a possible Jamboree, and future meetups.

We also held a raffle, with some pretty cool prizes and many winners.

Heaven in a wrap. Then smothered in buffalo sauce: The Buffalo Bomber!

Many thanks to the crew at Veggie Grill in Hillsboro for their hard work and hospitality with this crazy group!  Thanks to Andrew, the manager, and Filiberto and Amanda for pulling the orders together ahead of time.

Fur Free Friday Demonstration in Portland

Today, instead of joining the throngs of people in the malls, 150 fellow animal rights activists marched in Portland against fur.

Protesters wait to march outside Nordstrom’s in Downtown Portland.

We met outside of Nordstom’s in downtown Portland at 10:30, and hit the street an hour later.

The walk took us on a loop up Broadway and Taylor, back down 12th, then up 6th to Macy’s.  We ended in the park blocks and enjoyed cupcakes donated by the phenomenal PDX bakery, Sweetpea Baking.

The group pauses at Macy’s to spread the message.

It was a successful march as many spectators seemed to appreciate the message.

There was a variety of signage available.
Protesters chat with a woman passing by, about the truths of the fur industry.
My fav sign.
Three protesters outside Nordstrom’s.
Free cupcakes from Sweetpea! I think I will.

Please visit In Defense of Animals (IDA) website here.