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Thursday, July 29, 2010

We eat too much

Today, one of my co-workers put a link on Facebook to an article on Visual Economics: "What are we eating?" What I found did not surprise me at all:

In a year, the average American consumes 62.4 lbs of beef, 46.5 lbs of pork, 60.4 lbs of chicken, 32.7 lbs of eggs, 31.4 lbs of cheese, 600.5 lbs of dairy (not cheese).

So, this is no wonder that Americans have an obesity problem. This includes me. I am not fat... not compared to most Americans. But if I went to Japan, China, or even most countries, people would probably categorize me as another American who overeats.

But we are not overeating everything. We are not overeating cereals, fruits or vegetables. What we are overeating is animal products.

Our entire agricultural sector is centered -- not around feeding the people who work in the fields, or even the people who pay the people who work in the fields. Nope. It is centered around feeding the animals that feed the people who work in the fields and the people who pay them to work in the fields.

And what do we get? We get really cheap, caloric, high-cholesterol animal products that we clearly eat waaaaay too much of.

Which means that our food choices are directly related to the way we treat the animals we get our cholesterol from. Our dollars are paying for our fat. We are also condoning the way in which we treat animals which we depend on for our high cholesterol diets.

We are condoning and paying for factory farms and battery cages.

The best way to better ourselves and the animals is to (to completely plagiarize from Jonathan Safran-Foer's book, Eating Animals) simply eat fewer animal products. And try to get our meat, eggs and dairy from a humane farmer.

Many of you may think that this is just another one of my extreme anti-meat rants. But think about what we all ate today, and think about just how much of what we ate came from an animal. Me? I had dairy for lunch, and dinner. And that is not typical... I usually have it for all three meals.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thanks, Merdian Pint!

The other night I went to Meridian Pint, a new restaurant in Columbia Heights that has been open for less than a month. From the owner who brought you the rock-and-roll lounge, Asylum, opened a second restaurant featuring creative vegan dishes alongside great beers and fun atmosphere.

There are so many cool things about Meridian Pint that I just have NO idea where to begin:

1) Vegan fare. I got the bean and vegan cheese Quesadilla and veggie vegan chili. But there's lots more... Like the soy half smoke, and the roasted vegetable sandwich with vegan cheese.

2) Beer. Meridian Pint only tries to buy local beer to keep the beer money in the area and to also reduce the carbon emissions from shipping overseas. BUT the coolest thing is the "bombers for brewers" program where the restaurant gives local brewers their used beer bottles to make their home-brews.

3) Composting. The restaurant hired Envirelation to compost most of Meridian Pint's waste.

4) Reuse. Most of the furniture, equipment, design and construction materials are recycled.

5) Clean Energy. Meridian Pint's energy source comes from wind mill farms in the way of green energy credits.

Is Meridian Pint humane? Unfortunately not, but clearly not because of lack-of-will. The moral of this story is that humane dairy, cheese, eggs and meat is not accessible unless the restaurant owner/chef/buyer actually goes to a farmers' market/farm/distribution center and literally picks up the food.

Meridian Pint is still a-okay in my book though, and I will continue to enjoy my vegan Quesadillas
until they take the next step toward humane dairy, cheese, eggs and meat.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot Dog!

No, I am not referring to Winston (cuz I know that's what all ya'll were thinkin)...

One of my friend's recently cautioned me to make sure that the humane cheese I buy does not contain animal rennet. Animal rennet is essentially calf stomach (sometimes kid and lamb too), and it is used in most cheeses to separate the curds and whey. Which means that:
a) it is not vegetarian, and
b) it is most certainly not humane

For those of you who would suggest I only eat Kosher cheese (cough: Adam) think again. According to, Kosher cheese can and does still contain animal rennet as long as the processing of the animal is done so according to Kosher law.

So what am I to do? Become a vegan? I think we all can agree that my crash-test attempt for less than a day didn't work out very well.

So, I have come to this conclusion: I will continue to eat humane cheese based on a philosophy that I adhered to ever since I became a vegetarian: if I ever eat meat again, it will probably be a hot dog.

Why a hot dog, you ask? Well, a hot dog is a meat by-product or MSM. It contains all the meat that doesn't go to the supermarket. It is the stuff that would have been thrown away and wasted.

And since I am an animal rights proponent, and we use animals for human consumption, then we should use EVERY part, as wasting an animal is a terrible thing to do. (I use this same reasoning when giving my Hot Dog, Winston, raw hides.)

While I don't think I will be eating a meat hot dog anytime soon, I will continue to enjoy my humane cheese. Because, even if I hate the thought of slaughtered baby cows, lambs and goats, they are not being killed for their stomachs. But their stomachs are at least not going to waste.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It restores my faith in humanity

On Saturday I went to The Mount Pleasant Farmers' Market to check out the Pleasant Pops stand and get some fruity delicious breakfast. The market was packed with vendors selling fruits and vegetables, dairy and eggs and meat, bread and pastries, and of course Pleasant Pops. There was a bluegrass band playing on a stage they shared with Farmers' Market Information and a free bicycle repair clinic. As my friend and I licked cucumber-chili and ginger-peach Pleasant Pops, she commented that the market "restored her faith in humanity."

Shortly after tho
se inspirational words came out of my friend's mouth, she asked if the eggs sold at a stand close to us were humane, so I meandered over to to ask my questions.

Truck Patch
Farms is a family farm that sells vegetables and a variety of animal products including eggs. I asked Brian (the farmer) if his chickens had their beaks clipped. He began to tell me his story, and I so wish I had a camera to tape his story, because he told it so well:

Brian, like so many farmers, cares deeply about the treatment of his animals. While he only buys chicks with their beaks intact, he still has some from the days when you could only gets chicks with their beaks clipped. For the older ones, he used to only let them graze on the soft soil that had been dug up by his pigs, so they could peck without full beaks. Now that most of his chickens have beaks, they can roam on whatever ground suits them.

He told me the story about when he decided to get chickens: He recalled going into his neighbor's hen house to help collect the eggs, and saw rows and rows of heads sticking out of cages. When he returned home, he said, "Honey! We're raising chickens!" And he has been raising chickens his way ever since.

As for his meat (which he boasted about after his chickens, not knowing that I was a vegetarian), he demands a humane slaughter to end their humane life. This touched me because so many farmers unfortunately don't have the time to investigate the slaughter of the animals they cared for so well. "If they don't allow me to watch the slaughter, I won't go send my animals there," he said. He informed me that the best smoke-house is not the best slaughter house, so while he will smoke his meat there, he won't slaughter them there.
I reported that my friend should definitely buy her eggs from Brian.

I know that when my friend said that the market "restored her faith in humanity" she was probably joking (especially since the night before we had discussed the woes of humanity, mainly focusing on the toll e-waste takes on humans and the environment); but as I looked around at the fresh veggies, Pleasant Pops and humane animal products, I didn't think she was so off the mark.

Photo: Courtesy of Pleasant Pops.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wonderland Ballroom is... well, Wonderful!

Wonderland Ballroom came onto the DC scene about 5 years ago. A hipster hang-out, it survived a notorious robbery, drawing crowds for its up-and-coming locale, good beer selection, fun DJs and Trivia Night (a favorite DC past time).

I had never gone until this past year when our friends moved into Columbia Heights. Since my first visit, I have looked forward to coming back:

The menu is full of vegan options, including friend pickles and eggplant, veggie chili, salads, veggie burgers, and the best entree (drum roll please....): Faux-Italian sausage.

Now, had I known I was going there tonight, I would not have had 2 smart breakfast sausage links this afternoon. But I am cannot see into the future like Winston, so tonight at dinner I got the veggie burger instead, so I wouldn't over-do it on the faux-sausage front.

We were actually supposed to go to Meridian Pint (another blog post for another day), but ended up at Wonderland.

It was delicious, but it made me start wondering if their cheese items were humane. On a Friday night, most restaurants in Columbia Heights are pretty packed (due to the hipsters that flock there, but also due in-part to the lack of restaurants -- there are only a few in the area).

I would like to find out, so I will be sure to call back at a time when busboys are running into servers. In the meantime, I am loving my veggie burgers and Faux-Italian Sausage!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

DC = Most Veg-Friendly City!

I guess we all can guess why DC is the land where meat-eaters come to die, and reincarnate as vegetarians:

DC was just rated (by the ever-so-rigorous PETA) as the most veg-friendly city!

And it is not hard to see why! Check out my previous post, Good Veggie Eats in DC, to see all of the delicious vegetarian restaurants we got goin' on here.

DCist, a DC-based blog, reported on PETA's ratings and mentions some favorites, such as Amsterdam Falafel, Java Green and Sticky Fingers Bakery.

While I am already now craving falafel tonight, I really want to try the vegetarian biscuits and gravy at Sticky Fingers Bakery! That is definitely something I have missed as a vegetarian.

It is rather comforting to know that a town that is run by Big tobacco, beef, oil, and other not-so-veggie-friendly-cats, we -- the people -- either are or support vegetarians.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Humane Homemade Pizza

When I first tried to go humane, there was one tiny (well, not tiny) thing that kept on getting in the way: Pizza! (It should be noted that the one thing I say on my profile is that I may succumb to a piece of late-night pizza).

I tried the vegan pizza at Duccinis (just around the corner from my house), and while it was very tasty, it did not really taste like cheese. And I tried going to Coppi's, but their pizza is fancy and not really something you want to eat on your couch, watching re-runs of Law & Order SVU.

So, I was determined to make my own humane pizzas. After all, I have a pizza stone and peel, a pizza cutter and an oven. So, I went to the supermarket one day after work (which I spent the entire day thinking about pizza...) to buy crust. I already had homemade pasta/pizza sauce (that I keep around for one of those SVU nights), mozzarella cheese from the Farmer's Market and mushrooms for a topping.

But, lo and behold, I learned that all of the crusts at Safeway have cheese in them! Weird, and gross considering they are not refrigerated.

After all of the ins and outs and what-have-yous I have finally mastered a way to make fast, homemade humane pizza!

First, on a rainy day I make a lot of dough. I like this recipe because I can make it in my food processor (thanks, Grandma Audrey!), and it is really fast! I usually make 2 servings, and then have 4 doughs, which last a while, considering that there is only so much SVU a gal can watch.

I store my dough and sauce in the freezer, until the night before Pizza Night.

The night of, I preheat the oven to 475, and dust the stone with flour. I make my pizza on the stone (as thin or thick as I want). I add my homemade sauce, sliced humane mozz, and whatever topping I have.

After roughly 15 minutes in 475 degrees, I take out the stone, transfer the pizza to my peel, and Voila! Homemade Humane Pizza!

It should be noted that I just ate a delicious pizza. As I am writing this post, I realize that I should have taken a picture of my beautiful pie, but I ate it too soon... Next time!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I scream, you scream...

We all scream for humane ice cream!

Today I had the fortunate experience to tag along with Roger, who is one of the co-founders of Pleasant Pops, a local DC paletas/Popsicle vendor. The paletas are sold at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market, and only contain local (and humane!) ingredients.

***If you haven't ever had a pleasant pop, I suggest you haul your cookies to the corner of 17th and Lamont, NW the next Saturday, and try one... or three... or five. It is local, humane and so delicious!***

Anyways, so Roger was on his way to buy local milk for his creamy paletas. When we got to the store, Timor Bodega, I learned that, not only did they have local milk, but they also had ice cream
from the humane Trickling Springs Creamery.

The variety of humane ice cream was amazing: they had vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, coffee, chocolate chip cookie dough, grapenut, butter brittle, peppermint and coconut chip almond. (I left with coffee and chocolate chip cookie dough... this time. Roger left with lots of milk for his pleasant pops!)

It is no wonder why Prince of Petworth calls Timor Bodega the "greatest bodega in the city."

As temperatures soar to 100 degrees this week in DC, it is nice to know that I won't have any problems getting some humane cold treats between Pleasant Pops and Timor Bodega.