June 2011

In a few days, our entire country will be celebrating the birthday of our nation.  Of course as Americans, we give tribute to our country by exploding fireworks, partying, and of course bbq-ing.  But if you’re a vegan, BBQ can be a little overwhelming, especially if you are attending a conventional event. Never fear though, we have some great vegan 4th of July grilling tips, including what to cook in place of meat.  Be prepared for your own cookout or for when you are visiting others!

Burgers & Franks: There are so many great choices in vegan grilling these days. You can purchase a number of good brands of veggie burgers including Gardenburger Vegan, Boca Vegan Burgers, Morningstar Grillers Chik’n. But if you are looking for something a little more healthy and unique, check out this recipe for Black Bean Burgers.  Another perfect grilling option is the good old classic veggie dog. There are numerous vegan hot dogs on the market such as Tofu Pups, but we recommend Tofurkey Franks or their delectable Sausage collection including Beer Brats and Kielbasa.

Kebobs: Always a favorite: veggie kabobs! You can cut favorite veggies such as bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion, mushrooms and zucchini into large chunks and soak them in marinade or your choice. We like to use Bragg’s Amino Acid, maple syrup and garlic. For a fun and yummy twist add some pineapple. You can also add some protein such as tofu chunks or Gardein’s BBQ skewers!  Also tasty and fun to eat!

Rib and Steak-ish: If you were once a fan of BBQ ribs look no further than MorningStar Riblets. These are tasty and easy enough to grill on the BBQ. For an alternative to gluten you could marinate large strips of extra firm tofu or tempeh with your favorite BBQ sauce for a healthier twist. If you were a steak fan, try out Gardein’s Steak Tips, just add them on a skewer and through them on the grill. You can also replace the BBQ sauce with Steak sauce on tofu and tempeh.

Good Ol’ Veggies: Whoever said simple is best, really understood vegetables. Sometimes the best grilled items are just simple veggies. At our cookouts we have eaten everything from grilled portabellas to whole onions to asparagus and even artichokes! Grilled veggies are easy, simple, and always pleasing. A great tip is to soak your veggies in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic first. Also, an easy favorite is soaking pineapple slices in oil and brown sugar before grilling.

Now that you know exactly how to make to grill for a vegan, don’t forget the sides and dessert. We have a huge backlog of delicious vegan recipes but especially don’t forget Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad, Creamy Artichoke Dip, Spinach Dip, and Bean Dip. Lastly, don’t forget your dessert! Try out some of our favorites: Red, White, and Blue Sorbet, Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Cake, and Apple Pie.

Happy 4th of July and Happy Vegan Grilling!!!

The Green Movement has its roots in ideologies and value systems, but it seems that the philosophy has spread into all aspects of our day-to-day lives. From Seventh Generation products being sold in mega grocery stores to restaurant chains using high-efficiency dual- flush toilets, green is becoming mainstream – slowly, but fortunately it is happening.

Emerging from this movement are exciting ways to make products without damaging our planet. Creative, innovative, and often extraordinary, these new methods and practices challenge the conventions that we have come to accept as a society. Perhaps sustainability is more than just an idea – maybe it can become a reality.

BioCoture by Suzanne Lee

Eco fashion is an example of one of these new innovations. Sustainable fashion (sometimes called Greenwear) employs practices that do little or no harm to the environment. The term is multilayered: whether referring to organic materials, fair trade and sweatshop free methods, or vegan products and facilities, eco fashion is making a name for itself on the

But some designers are taking this pivotal moment to make enormous change, using new and largely unexplored science to completely alter the impact of fashion on the environment. Suzanne Lee, for example, has started a movement known as BioCouture: the harnessing of laboratory-grown microbial-cellulose to grown clothes. In essence, textiles made by science.

BioCouture received some well-deserved recognition when Lee spoke at the TED talks this year about her movement. She explains, “I’m essentially using a kombucha recipe, which is a symbiotic mix of bacteria, yeasts and other micro-organisms, which spin cellulose in a fermentation process. Over time, these tiny threads form in the liquid into layers and
produce a mat on the surface.

BioCoture by Suzanne Lee

Lee goes on to say, “… We only grow what we need. There’s no waste… What I’m not suggesting is that microbial cellulose is going to be a replacement for cotton, leather, or other textile materials. But I do think it could be quite a smart and sustainable addition to our increasingly precious natural resources.

Microbial cellulose technology has been in use  before Lee took advantage of it for fashion’s sake. In fact, this cellulose has been integral in medical advancements, including its use as a soft tissue replacement and as artificial blood cells.

But Suzanne Lee is the first I’ve heard of to use cellulose for fashion. Her innovation and dedication is inspiring, and her efforts are helping to make the often wasteful and dangerous fashion industry into a slightly greener field.

You may not be in the position to grow your own clothes, but making any effort toward purchasing sustainable clothing is crucial. Even if it means buying second-hand, your actions count and matter.

Imagine growing a lamp, a chair, a car, or maybe even a house,” Lee says. “I guess my question to you is: in the future, what would you choose to grow?”

-Jessica Nicholson

Watch her TED talk here:

Summer is officially here: BBQ season has begun, the sun is beating down, and the 4th of July is just around the corner. Our recipe this week will not only help you beat the summer heat, but celebrate the red, white, and blue! It includes simple ingredients including strawberries (the red), blueberries (the blue), and almond milk (the white). An easy, quick sorbet recipe that will satisfy any dessert lover. This is perfect to serve at your 4th of July party or any hot night during the next few months.

Vegan Patriotic Sorbet

Prep Time: 20 Minutes    

2 Cups Organic Frozen Strawberries
2 Cups Organic Frozen Blueberries
1/4 Cup Organic Almond Milk

2 Tbsp Organic Maple Syrup

Leave out the frozen blueberries and strawberries to thaw for about 10-12 minutes. You don’t want them to be completely defrosted, just enough so they will still break apart. Pour them in a food processor or blender and use the pulse feature until the berries start to beak apart. Add in the almond milk and pulsate some more, until mixed. Next add in the maple syrup and blend/process for 2-5 minutes or until completely smooth. Serve immediately or store in the freezer for a later treat.

There are only a few more days until Father’s Day, are you prepared?  If you haven’t locked down your Father’s Day gift yet, we have a few suggestions for you!  Whether you Dad is a Fair Trade Guru or weather he knows nothing about the movement, Sunday is a perfect way to support the workers of the world and give you Pops the gift and praise he deserves. If your Father is a newbie to fair trade, Father’s Day is a great opportunity to expose him to the world of fair trade.  So here are some helpful suggestions.

Wine & Chocolate: If your Pops is the kind to want to wind down on his special day, treat him to some fair trade wine and chocolate, I mean really, who is going to refuse that? Check out Etica wines for some terrific fair trade wine with many choices. Pair your Dad’s favorite type of wine with some delicious fair trade chocolate. Alter Eco has some fantastic fair trade chocolates with unique flavors such as dark chocolate and quinoa.

Bloody Marys: Many of the Dad’s we know, love a good cocktail, especially a Bloody Mary. You can make your Dad the perfect Bloody Mary using the fair trade vodka: FAIR. This is a great way for your Father to start the day. But in case Bloody Marys aren’t his thing: check out these Fair Trade cocktail recipes.

Sweet Tooth: Let’s face it, a lot of Men, especially Fathers love their sweets. Try something a little different and bake your Dad some sweets. Make his favorite cookie, cake, or brownie recipe using all fair trade ingredients. You can find fair trade sugar, baking powder, bananas, chocolate, and vanilla!  Make sure you tell him your goodies are fair trade certified as well as baked with love.

Breakfast Coffee: Wake up your Dad with a fair trade cup of coffee to go along with your treats. Or bake him an entire breakfast using as many fair trade ingredients as you can find.  As mentioned above you can find many cooking and baking ingredients fair trade. Finding fair trade coffee is pretty easy and you have a number of different options including Grounds for Change, Peace Coffee, and Equal Exchange.

Fair Trade Gift: If you want to buy him something he can use all year, check out Global Exchange or Global Good Partners. There are plenty of great gifts for any Father out there including cell phone cases and laptop bags to picture frames and ties. Find the perfect gift for your Dad on either of these sites.

We all know the history of the American Civil War, but did you know about the second largest armed uprising within the United States? I am probably the biggest history nerd I know and I only recently read about the Battle of Blair Mountain . Sure, I know about the struggles of the early 20th Century workers and the power of early corporations, but somehow this story circumvented my radar, or was buried in my brain caverns under all the history books I’ve read in the past twenty years. The story plays out like a modern day sweatshop:

During the late 19th and early 20th Centuries “Big Coal” was running the show in West Virginia. They had set up “company towns,” meaning a single company not only owned the mine and equipment, but the workers, the hospitals, the houses, the utilities, the stores and the government as well. Workers were subjugated to long days and dangerous working conditions–some of which would make your hair stand on end. In a recent re-telling of the story, Robert F Kennedy Jr explained, “Working conditions were horrendous: men and their sons worked 12 to 16 grueling hours in dark, dangerous mines dying from a notorious plague of subsurface explosions, cave-ins and black lung

On top of dealing with these conditions the workers were basically feudal serfs to the coal lords. In the towns in which they lived, the companies owned the police and hired cronies to carry out intimidation and suppression, even using tactics such as espionage and murder. And just to add salt to their wounds, some local and state governments condoned these actions by turning a blind eye and supporting the companies.

Well in the early 20th Century the miners were fed up with this controlled lifestyle, which is deliciously ironic considering they existed in a “free” society. With workers unionizing all over the country during this time, union leaders entered the area through some sympathetic politicians. After a major supporter of the miners, Sid Hatfield, was assassinated in broad daylight, the workers formed a 10,000 member protest and marched for six days to the top of Blair Mountain. What proceeded was a deadly battle between Big Coal cronies and miners that included an order from President Warren G Harding (perhaps one of the most corrupt US Presidents ever–which is saying A LOT) to intercede on the side of the coal companies. The miners were gunned down and surplus WWI bombs were dropped upon them. Not to say they didn’t arm themselves and after intervention from the US Forces on their own citizens, they dispersed. Fearing they may be convicted by a corrupt government for treason, they tossed their ammunition and arms into the woods surrounding Blair Mountain. Almost a century old artifacts can still be found along the mountain, which is quite literally a gold, or shall I say “coal”mine for a history lover like myself.

The aftermath of this insurrection proved to be pivotal not only for the workers but for the union movement itself. Sixty years later, unions are one of the Average Joe’s only protection from somewhat unchecked corporate power. Sure, the government now includes higher working standards and moderation of companies, but how long will that last? Only a year ago, the Federal government ruled corporations have the same access to First Amendment Free Speech as a US citizen, and can legally fund campaigns with no limitations. At first glance, this may seem minor, but the consequences have the power to rattle the very foundation of our democracy. The corporations, which have proven themselves can not be trusted, will literally and legally buy out elections. On top of this, the extreme right, who says they stand for the people, have taken an all out war against public unions in the MidWest.

Although the country and world has changed drastically since the Battle of Blair Mountain, Big Coal still exists and is currently backed by many a politician. Recently, Blair Mountain has been pegged to have it’s top blown off and mined. Mountaintop removal mining is not only ecological harmful, but it also results in job loss for the area and in this case destroys a historic landmark–still filled with artifacts, if I may remind you. Luckily, environmentalists, labor groups, and historians have banded together to save Blair Mountain and bring attention to worker’s rights, sustainability, and the protection of the Appalachian legacy. The March on Blair Mountain began earlier this week and will culminate with thousands of supporters atop the symbolic mountain. Hundreds have been marching in the heat and thunderstorms all week and a few hundred, including ex marines and a wheel chair bound grandmother have been arrested.

Thousands are expected tomorrow, June 11th, to show solidarity. If you are not in the region, you can follow the March online and send your support virtually. Even more important, let you voice be heard. Sign the petition for Obama to preserve Blair Mountain and end mountaintop removal mining simultaneously.

So it seems we have entered a new era where rather than evolving and working on the unions, who by the way are not a perfect solution either, we are letting them be destroyed. This is where the people step in. We need to preserve our democratic power.

Gina Williams

Summer is officially here! You’ve worked hard all year for it, and you deserve a break. But instead of hopping on the next plane to a tropical island far, far away, consider a vacation that’s a little more domestic–and a little more ethically responsible. Try a vegan getaway! Not sure where to start? Here are a few recommendations from east coast to west. So whether you’re looking to stay local or planning on going far, there is a vegan vacation with your name on it.

The Stanford Inn by the Sea

Mendocino, California 

Tucked into the Northern California bay, the Stanford Inn is housed by one of the quaintest and most natural towns along the coast. With a small population of largely artists and outdoor enthusiasts, Mendocino is the ideal vacation spot for a nature lover (especially one who appreciates the fine wines of nearby Anderson Valley and Sonoma). But the Stanford Inn is unique not just in its surroundings, but in what it offers within its doors. The Raven’s Restaurant in this eco-resort offers 99% organic cuisine with a focus on vegan/vegetarian dishes. In line with the sustainability of the inn, Raven’s cuisine is all made from sustainably harvested ingredients – most of which come from local farms. From walking through the Stanford Inn’s certified organic garden to hiking along Big River to taking a relaxing yoga class, the Stanford Inn by the Sea is a must for the ethical California traveler.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Kanab, Utah

For the activist, Best Friends Animal Sanctuarythe largest no-kill refuse for abused and abandoned animals in the US – offers a five-day trip in both August and October. While most time is spent on-site grooming, feeding, or just spending time with animals, the Sanctuary also offers trips to Grand Canyon and the Zion National Park. The canyons of the nearby North Kaibab Trail may not be an easy hike, but the trip is highly recommended by the Best Friends staff. Nights are usually spent around a campfire, and the accommodations provided by the Sanctuary –whether you opt for a cabin or a cozier cottage – are surprisingly spacious and nice. Vegan meals are served, but vegetarian options are available upon request. Looking for something with a little less structure? Best Friends is open year-round to volunteers, because it may not be easy to leave these animals after just a few days.

Harvest Moon Bed & Breakfast

Rutland, Vermont 

Looking for a getaway farther north? Try the Harvest Moon Bed & Breakfast, a vegetarian B&B operated in an 1835 farmhouse. The cuisine is predominately organic and locally grown, and some ingredients are actually picked from the Bed & Breakfast’s own garden. While the accommodations feel far removed from everything with stunning views of the Killington and Pico mountains, downtown Rutland is just three miles away. The beautiful Rocky Pond is just a hike away, but Leffert’s Pond – slightly farther away – offers canoeing and kayaking. The Chittenden Reservoir is steps away and, if the weather’s right, is the perfect spot for swimming. If you’re more of an indoors-y type, sites like the Normal Rockwell Museum are close by in downtown Rutland. Vermont may be a ski state, but it is a gorgeous destination in the warmer months.

Cedar House Inn & Yurts

Dahlonega, Georgia

Located in the North Georgia mountains and wine country, the Cedar House Inn is an eco-friendly bed and breakfast that offers one main unique difference: yurts. These tent-like cabins provide visitors with a more natural and simplistic experience. Certainly they’re not for everyone; the Cedar House website strongly encourages guests to leave the yurt midday to avoid the risk of overheating. Whether you opt for the adventurous yurt or a more comfortable room in the inn, this sustainable bed & breakfast is truly a green place. (The inn owners have even created a permaculture system that is now a demonstration site for the practice.) Nearby attractions include the Gold Mine Tour downtown, the Desoto Falls of Lumpkin County, and the Amicalola State Park – ideal for hiking. And, as mentioned, the Cedar House Inn is the center of North Georgia’s wine country: definitely a good way to cool down after a hot day in a yurt.

-Jessica Nicholson

The tangible world that we once knew is long gone. Paper records, the Dewey Decimal system, and paper money protected under lock and key, is a dwindling reality. The United States’ entire economic system is represented by a keyboard stroke. Business owners have substituted office space and filing cabinets for cell phones. Moms have replaced crumbled pieces of paper with grocery list apps.

Purchasing a smartphone, particularly an iphone, has proven to be a valuable investment for millions of people. If you are not a small business owner, or a mom, or a banker, but an environmentally conscious participant in the game of life, your iphone purchase can be just as valuable an investment as theirs have been.

I have put together a list of Apps that promote a ‘greener’ lifestyle, and in doing so, discovered the remarkable impact of a seemingly indulgent purchase.

My Carbon Footprint: This app was created by the Blue Chip Marketing Company. It is an easy-to-use application that lets you calculate your carbon footprint. Getting started, you are prompted to answer 10 initial questions and then 1 question everyday after that, to track your impact on the environment.

Free 2 Work: Supported by the company Juniper Networks and U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Person, this app is part of a larger movement that grades companies based on their labor practices. The Free2Work app was designed to allow consumers to easily browse companies’ labor practices, and aid in making socially conscious purchases. This is app is free to download, and very easy to use.

A Real Tree: Created by Mokugift, this app allows you to plant a tree from your iphone. It is truly remarkable. The trees are planted in one of 12 countries fighting deforestation: Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Burundi, Senegal, Zambia, India, Philippines, and Haiti. A Real Tree works with, Trees for the Future and Sustainable Harvest International to, “provide materials and education to local communities o plant trees in an ecologically-beneficial manner.

GoodGuide: This app allows the consumer to monitor the environmental and social impact of an individual product. Before a purchase is made, the consumer can read a brief review on the products’ impact. The GoodGuide’s database consists of nearly 70,000 products and reviews.

Green Car Buddy: This app is a client/server app that facilitates that sharing of rides and parking spaces. The idea is to promote carpooling, and decrease the amount of cars on the road, thus causing less pollution. You can register through your facebook account, or create a username distinct to Green Car Buddy. You can browse the app for rideshares leaving from one specified location to another. You can limit your search to a particular time of departure, or the gender of the driver. As a server, you can limit who is eligible to accept a ride from you by designating a gender option. If your search does not have what you are looking for at the moment, the app will email you when what you are looking for becomes available. This app is free to download and very easy to use. Green Car Buddy is a truly revolutionary idea. As its users grow, so will its impact. My only concern is your safety. Be careful my friends, and always tell someone where you are going.

-Jaclyn Bauman

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