Vegan Frozen Yogurt

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Despite the freezing temperatures, frozen yogurt can be a delicious treat during the wintertime. Luckily, dairy-free frozen yogurt is gaining popularity every day. Most frozen yogurt shops now carry tasty dairy-free options and toppings.

Simply check the signs to find out which flavors contain dairy and other allergens.

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Toppings can be a bit tricky, as they are rarely labeled for allergens, but the fruit and bubbles are often a safe choice. As always, beware of candy that may contain gelatin or dairy. When in doubt, simply ask the server about the ingredients.

IMG_20150228_154633676_HDRAnd if passing up the dairy-laden desserts ever feels difficult, remember that nothing compares to the suffering cows must endure when we don’t.

By choosing delicious, dairy-free alternatives, we can give cows the lives of freedom and  peace they deserve.

Best,

Leila

Marine Animals Deserve Protection

Fish

It recently came to my attention through an article from Direct Action Everywhere’s blog that fish are underrepresented in the animal rights movement, even though they are exploited, abused, and killed in numbers that tower over that of any other animal species. It is estimated that 2.77 trillion marine animals are killed each year for food, even before counting the non-target marine life that is killed in the process. To put this in perspective, for every 1 land animal that is killed, 46 marine animals are killed.

The slaughter of fish is extremely cruel and violent. There are no welfare standards for fish during slaughter. Fish are often left to asphyxiate, or are left in a bath of ice water to die slowly and painfully. They may be struck on the head, cut, or even skinned, gutted, and decapitated while fully conscious. Crustaceans such a crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are often boiled alive.

Why are marine animals so widely ignored?  I think the reason is because it is difficult for humans to empathize with them. They live in water, but we live on land, immediately placing a barrier between us. Land mammals such as pigs and cows are similar to the cats and dogs we treat like family, so it is much easier for people to show compassion towards them. However, most people cannot connect with fish and crustaceans in the same way.

Marine animals have no voice. When we hear the tortured cries of pigs, cows, and chickens, we immediately understand the suffering they experience. But fish, even when being skinned and dismembered alive, can only open and close their mouths. Their screams are silent to us.

It is time to listen to their screams and respond.  We must fight our tendency to minimize the suffering of those who look the most different from us. Though they are housed in different bodies, speak different languages, and live a different lifestyle, they are alike in their ability to feel pain and fear, which is all that matters. It is one’s capacity to suffer, and nothing else, that should determine the way we treat them. Killing a fish is no different from killing a chicken, pig, or cow.

Gandhi said, “The more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” Of the animals we commonly slaughter for food, none are more helpless than marine animals. Pulled from their environments and unable to even breathe or emit a sound, they have no escape or defense against death. Marine animals deserve our protection, recognition, and attention more than anyone. Their lives matter. Their pain matters. It is time to recognize the suffering of marine animals as equal to that of other animals exploited for food.

Best,

Leila

How to Stay Vegan While Eating Out

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A common concern about the vegan lifestyle is staying vegan while eating out. Many fear they must decide between eating a boring undressed salad or relinquishing their social life altogether. Luckily, with a bit of strategy, staying vegan while eating out is easy, delicious, and a lot of fun. Here are some tips:

Find Vegan Friendly Restaurants

noodles and companyThough you may not always have the opportunity to choose where you go out to eat, it helps to suggest some vegan-friendly restaurants. To find restaurants nearby to you, use HappyCow.net. You can also get the Happy Cow app to look up restaurants on the go. Simply enter your geographic location, and Happy Cow finds all of the vegetarian, vegan, and veg-friendly restaurants nearby.

Look Up the Menu Beforehand

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Found this in the handy online nutrition guide I looked up prior to going out.

Don’t be that annoying vegan who gives the waiter a third degree in front of all their friends. Most restaurants have a menu available on their website that contains nutrition and allergen information. Familiarize yourself with the options and then surprise your friends with what a breeze eating out vegan is.

Be Creative

Even if an entree is not vegan, it may be possible to make it vegan with a few alterations, such as by substituting meat for tofu. Just ask the waiter. If you find yourself in a position where the restaurant does not carry a vegan entree you like, most will be more than happy to accommodate you by piecing together a few side dishes to make a meal. To make the meal a bit tastier, some enjoy bringing a few extras with them to the restaurant, such as vegan Parmesan, butter, or salad dressing.

Be Patient

From peta2’s Do’s and Don’ts of eating out

Surprisingly, many people working in the food industry do not know what “vegan” means. Instead of confusing them, ask them directly whether a particular dish contains dairy or eggs. You would hate to have them misunderstand and bring you a gluten free or vegetarian dish instead. And if they make a mistake, be kind and understanding. That’s what veganism is all about, after all.

Don’t Stress

At a restaurant, all of your food is prepared out of your sight, so contamination is not always possible to prevent. Instead of making a scene, stay calm. Veganism should be about the animals, not personal purity. Don’t give your friends the idea that the vegan lifestyle is extremely difficult and restrictive. Instead, show them how easy and flexible it is.

Having a meal that is 98% vegan just once or twice a month is not devastating. Though flipping a vegan burger with the same spatula as a meat burger contaminates the vegan burger, it does not increase the demand for meat at all. So from an ethical standpoint, what utensils or pan they use to prepare your food does not matter. Instead of stressing about contamination, relax and have a good time with your friends and family. Maybe when they see how delicious your meal looks, they will give the vegan entree a try, too.

Those are my tips for staying vegan while eating out! It may feel like more preparation for a meal out than you are used to, but with practice, it becomes easy. With delicious and healthy vegan food at almost any restaurant, there is no need to fear eating out.

Best,

Leila