Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fortino's offers more vegetarian options....

Grocery shopping this week, I was very encouraged to find in several areas of my local Fortino's,the usual and some NEW vegetarian entrees, meat replacements, tofu and TVP options. Until very recently, the limited selections were to be found in the "organic" section or by the bagged salad cooler. This week, though, I found my usual products plus the new ones in the departments mentioned, but also in the deli counter and meat aisle.

If Fortino's is positioning these products in a variety of areas within their huge super stores, I can only assume it is because (1) they are going to sell more product this way and (2) the demand must be on the upswing. A very good sign in my opinion. Not only is this good for people already eating "green" but it also puts the product in areas where they will be viewed by consumers who would not ordinarily see them and hopefully, purchase one or two. Not only was the store carrying more, but the new products were displayed in end of aisle coolers and in ample quantities (several rows / columns deep).

This comes at a turning point for me as I contemplate my reasons / motivation / purpose for maintaining this blog. I am finding myself slipping into despondency not only about the suffering associated with an animal based diet but other areas of excessive consumption as well. The Spectator today ran an article today about the devastation of rain forests for harvesting of trees to make palm oil. From what I have read, palm oil (like corn) is a product used (or hidden) in a multitude on products. It is not a healthy oil for us nor is the farming of the forests healthy for the animals that live in these dwindling habitats (orangutans, pygmy elephants to name just two) - more species to be add to the endangered list.

It is all rather overwhelming isn't it?

I will be taking a little time away from this blog just to think about where I want to go with all of this. Our teacher, in mixed conversation with a group of us, reminded 'think globally and act locally" and also suggested that one can become "hooked on aversion". (That's a confusing one...why would you be 'hooked' on aversion? Hmmm...something to think about.)

Action and thought; I'm thinking and I hope I take some action. As the saying goes, more to be revealed. Stay tuned.....

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In-store dietitian, Veggie Table & Affinity Buffet

FYI: In-store dietitian service available at Main Street West (Hamilton) Drugstore (inside the Fortinos). Call 1-877-637-8589 for register for a one hour free consultation.
(I have been told that the RD is knowledgeable in specific requirements for vegans and vegetarians.)

Omni Television runs a vegetarian cooking show on Sundays at 4:30 called VEGGIE TABLE. The recipe for the "jambalaya" pictured in the side bar was taken from this show (slightly altered from their version). Good show - very realistic. This afternoon, the chef accidentally dumped in too much pepper because the lid on the shaker was loose. Oops....she quickly laughed it off and scooped / scraped out the pile. Any producer who would leave that blooper in really understands kitchen dynamics!

REVIEW OF NEW BUFFET @ Affinity Vegetarian Restaurant
(John Street, Hamilton)
D E L I C I O U S ! ! !
Visited Affinity on Friday for lunch with my son. The owners have put together a small but ample selection of their wonderful dishes plus two large urns of soup. Unfortunately, we missed the soup and started at the buffet table. Once we ate the various samples of the varied dishes we went back to have just a bit more of what we particularly loved. (Hence no room for soup!). My favourites were the battered eggplant which was browned in a thick savoury sauce, and a seitan, carrot & white radish stew. We rounded out our lunch with a pot of Roiboos tea in the most charming small tea cups with saucers. Service as usual was friendly - I love this place! Buffet is $8.99 per person and pot of tea was $5.99.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

So what exactly, are we OK with?

Attached is a recent picture of my son's pet ferrets. Last week, the white ferret succumbed to a type of cancer of the pancreas. The tumours on her pancreas affected the secretion of insulin into her blood stream. During the brief 8 months that this condition manifested, we (my husband, myself and anyone who happened to be in the house and receive the brief lecture) became adept at recognizing the signs of an impending attack. To counter the high level of insulin, we had to get some sugar into her. Sometimes, it was fairly easy as she would be in the very early stages of an attack. But others times, she would be in what appeared to be a full coma. You would think that after 8 months of scheduling our lives around this little ferret's attacks, we would have been relieved to see her pass away. I would have thought this especially for my husband, who got up faithfully, every night at around 2:30 to give "Gracie" her high sugar content sap, so that she would make it through the night. And you would think we were prepared to handle her demise as it was "to be expected".
Last Monday night, when I got home from work, she was rather lethargic. Despite a generous dosage of syrups and sap, she did not recover as she always had. I left her bundled up in her cage to do a few things, make some dinner, etc. Once done, I again picked her up and tried to get some sugar into her (we were using a infant's syringe to administer the diluted sugar concoction into her mouth or rubbing as much sap on her gum line). Still carrying her around by the time my husband got home from work, he also tried. But within a short time, she began convulsing. Both of us held her during this episode. Eventually, after about two hours of violent whole body seizures, she settled into a coma. The next morning, she was no better and was still comatose. My husband, somehow, gathered up the strength and took her to a local cat hospital where she was euthanized. At the end of my work day, I picked up her little body and brought it home so we could bury her in the spring. I cried a lot that evening. I know my husband and son also shed tears.
You might ask to what is the point of all this? It was just a ferret. We must be some kind of weird emotional animal types. Why all this drama over a dumb animal compared to the nightmarish suffering going on all over the whole globe at any given moment?
A brief and simple explanation: love, attachment and compassion.
At dinner, a night or so after this took place, I mentioned to my husband how much I missed her energy, her curiousity, her gentleness (not once did she every hurt us by biting), her little licks, seeing her scampering across the floor or playing with Coco, the other ferret. With all the years that we have had "pets", have they all not exhibited the same behaviour and traits? How can we deny that this is the same for all other animals, be they domesticated or wild? Whether or not we understand the complexities of other species, we can at least consider that they are here for their own purposes. I question again, how easily we eat animals?
As some have reasoned, the animals we eat are raised for that purpose, why else would they be here? Or, our ancestors ate meat, so it is natural that we do. Not exactly accurate... and the often stated "I'm OK with eating meat". This particularly irks me. I have yet to confront someone after hearing that statement. But I would like to ask, what is it about miserable living conditions, abusive handling, terrifying, mass slaughter, removing newly born offspring away from the mother, that you are OK with?
None of us are without complicity. The consumption of animals and the use of the by-products is such a huge industry. But I strongly feel that we as a society are "OK" with it because, most people do not understand or feel compassion with regards to this particular matter. We are brought up with a "dualistic" point of view - everything is outside of us and separate from us. Hence we are able to separate from the issue, never considering animals as deserving rights. Once labeled and identified as objects for our sustenance, the question never arises again for some.
But if conditions change, as they did for me, and you "see" with a different eye, your attitude will also change. I am shocked at how easily it was for me, one little person, to eat so many animals in my years and never give it a second thought (not even a first thought!). Now only a short step away from the meat-eating culture, and really only a few years, I do consider how a piece of cheese or a bit of milk in my coffee came to be there. (Recently the Canadian dairy council put some huge 1/4 page ads in the local newspapers. The marketing was all a-glow with love and health and I just thought what a pile of bull-shit that was!)
When the life force that animated our little Gracie, the same force that animates me and all of us, was terminated, I grieved for her. We are all one and the same.
This spring when the ground thaws enough, my husband and I will dig a little hole and lay her body in it, to break down the components. Some Lily of the Valley or other plants will grow over the spot.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Carrot & Beetroot Salad

From the GI (Glycemic Index) blogspot dated February 1, 2008

Researchers from the Health Science Centre at Jikei University in Tokyo , studying 18,000 subjects came up with the following easy to remember 1 - 2 -3 grid to help people change unhealthy patterns into health promoting habits. Incorporating all 3 steps into your lifestyle will result in lower measures of "metabolic syndrome" (high blood pressure, high blood glucose and blood fats, abdominal obesity).




Simple? Yes. Nothing we didn't already know? True.

Turns out though that a number of us have a hard time following these guidelines even knowing the obvious - that we are going to feel and be much healthier.

From the same newsletter, I decided to try the Carrot and Beetroot Salad. Who knew that a beet (uncooked) is basically a bulbous carrot? I always assumed you had to cook and pickle beets to enjoy them. Curious? Try this recipe; even my husband who is not a huge fan of salads, enjoyed it. We were both surprised by how satisfying this combination was - crunchiness, sweet & sour , colourful - eaten with chopsticks, we actually savoured the taste and texture! A nice change from the usual sit down, eat, get up and leave the kitchen, all within 5 minutes maximum (regardless of how much time one took to prepare the actual meal!).

I adjusted the dressing to my taste by adding some ginger jam (about 1 tablespoon).

2 cups salad greens, 1 crisp green apple, chopped, 2 medium carrots, grated, 1 medium beet, peeled and grated, 2 oz. almonds roughly chopped.

2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil (you can use the lemon juice to coat the apple slices - but I combined both and then added the ginger jam as I felt the taste was too sour).

Layer serving dish with greens. Mix all other ingredients and pour dressing over. Toss and pile over the salad greens. (Pictured at right under caption "For dinner tonight...").