Bikinis, vegan desserts, and PETA

In this article, Phoebe-Jane Boyd, who is vegan, discusses the latest publicity-stunt-gone-wrong by PETA at Wimbledon. This time, PETA had bikini-clad women serving strawberries and vegan cream.  According to PETAthe tennis fans loved our vegan version of the classic Wimbledon snack, which helped prove that there are delicious plant-based alternatives to every dairy-based food you can think of.  Boyd questions the efficacy of these tactics: My own interactions with promotional models at these things have never ended in increased brand awareness, but rather with a feeling of discomfort at the expectation that I’m to treat the women like walking, talking product shelves with boobs instead of human beings.

I gave up my PETA membership a number of years ago, mostly as a reaction to their tasteless publicity stunts, such as this. I am so tired of PETA parading mostly women in scantily-clad costumes to promote animal welfare and veganism. PETA’s pat response is demonstrated below (this was in reaction to its tweet about the Wimbledon event):

PETA’s response is facile at best. The fact that the women in question chose to participate in this publicity stunt does not address the notion of exploiting women’s bodies. Exploitation does not presuppose or require consent (or lack thereof), but is the use of tactics for the sake of profit, marketing, and so forth. These tactics are outdated at best.

There is a long list of reasons why I cannot support PETA: The tasteless publicity stunts, the cloying pandering to celebrities, the sexist and tasteless “sexy vegan celebs,” the aggressive attacks on people (e.g., those wearing fur coats), and their association of the killing of animals with the Holocaust. Many people object to PETA’s euthanasia policy; I am less troubled by this, as euthanasia may sometimes be the only humane solution for animals who are severely ill or injured, and who are not candidates for adoption. At least, I very much hope that PETA does, in fact, use euthanasia as a last resort.

Some tipping points for me were PETA’s attempt to exploit Detroiters’ lack of water by offering to pay their water bill if they promised to go vegan for one month. I was so incensed by this crass attempt at publicity at the expense of people who were suffering, that I phoned PETA and expressed my utter disgust. Besides taking advantage of people who were at a low point, “veganism under duress” is hardly going to produce long-term commitments to veganism, so it was nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. Another spectacular low point was PETA’s suggestion that a prison serve a teen, who had practised cannibalism, vegan meals, arguing that we are all made of flesh and blood, that we are all animals, and that the violent acts that Harrouff has been charged with are similar to those commonly inflicted upon billions of farmed animals in the U.S. each year. I can’t even begin to imagine how the friends and families of the two people that Harrouff murdered were impacted by this crass suggestion.

There is no doubt that PETA has been successful in pressuring governments and organizations into improving the welfare of some animals, but I’ve never believed in the adage that the ends justify the means. I would much rather support organizations that use compassion, intelligence, and kindness, and whose focus is upon animals and their welfare, rather than on self-promotion.

Elate Cosmetics

Update: I’ve now used the Elate mascara and am pleased with the results. Unlike a number of other vegan mascaras I have used, this one is not wet and sticky, and stays on all day without sticking. It’s a keeper.

While I make all of my household cleaning products, and most of my personal care products, cosmetics are items I still buy. I have been using mineral makeup for at least 15 years and have gone through a number of different brands. It’s important that the products I use be made in Canada; they must also be vegan, of course, and create as little waste as possible. I had been using products made in Nova Scotia but, to be honest, the quality of their minerals was not as high as I would have liked. I very much like the ZuZu Luxe products, but they are made in the US. An attractive feature of these products is that they do use refillable products (unfortunately, refills are not sold in the local stores here), but they do use a lot of plastic.

I am pleased to have found a Canadian brand that not only uses refillable products, but also bamboo for its containers, rather than plastic. Elate Cosmetics is based in Victoria, BC. Their products are vegan and mineral based. They sell bamboo containers for their makeup, which you refill with powder, eye shadow, and so forth. The mascara is not refillable, but it does come in a bamboo container. The products were shipped in the smallest possible box, encased in tissue paper, and held in place with some recyclable packing peanuts, which double also as my cats’ new favourite toy. The products came with a lovely hand-written note from the owner.

The picture on the left shows the bamboo container filled with the foundation powder, which came in the small paper package to the left of the compact. The tube is the mascara, also in bamboo. The picture on the right shows the top of the compact. I was a little alarmed when I saw the colour of the powder, as it looked too dark for me, given pale and fair skin. The colour does not go on as dark as it looks, and it works quite well for me, but I will go up a lighter tone next time. This particular shade is described as fair, with warm tones, and looks lighter on the website. Next time I will select the shade up, which is for very fair skin with neutral undertones. The powder goes on well and gives the matte look that I like. My skin is delicate in nature, but I have not experienced any reactions to the powder so far. I haven’t tried the mascara yet. I have not had much luck with vegan mascaras, as I’ve found most of them to be very sticky, so I’m crossing my fingers. I will update once I use it.

Better Eating International

I have been part of a Kickstarter campaign to fund a non-profit organization, Better Eating International, which wants to create videos to help people learn about, and transition into, a plant-based diet. The idea behind these videos is to educate people about the abuse of factory farmed animals, as well as to highlight the benefits of a plant-based diet. The organization does not intend to use shock value in these videos but, rather, animation to make its points. A lot of people can’t bear to watch the often graphic depiction of how animals are treated, thus the message can get lost; the idea is that a gentler approach might be more effective in reaching a larger number of people. As an educator, I appreciate the organization’s wish to educate, rather than to shock. The campaign overreached its financial target, which means that the project should go ahead. I look forward to the results.

Vegan cheese: Made in PEI

This article discusses the success of a new business in Prince Edward Island, called Fresh Start Fauxmage, which makes a variety of vegan cheeses using cashews and almonds. I very much hope that this company will continue to be successful and to grow large enough to sell its products more broadly. I will certainly encourage my local health food stores to consider carrying these products. I will stock up the next time I am fortunate enough to visit Charlottetown.

Penne with cabbage and collard greens

This is a rather weird combination of ingredients, perhaps, but it works. Like most of my recipes, it’s based upon what I need to clear out of my fridge. In this case, I had some collard greens that were starting to wilt. I always have cabbage in my fridge, as it’s one of my favourite vegetables. I needed to use up some vegan sour cream, as well.

penne

Ingredients

  • Thinly-sliced green cabbage
  • Diced collard greens
  • Diced shallots
  • Diced garlic
  • Sliced shitake mushrooms
  • Sweet corn (I used frozen)
  • Vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Penne
  1. Steam the cabbage, collard greens, and corn  (if using frozen), until tender.
  2. While the penne are cooking, saute the shallots until transparent, then add the mushrooms and garlic.
  3. Add the steamed vegetables to the shallots and mushrooms. Season to taste.
  4. Add sour cream to the vegetable mixture until heated. If necessary, add a little soy milk to thin.
  5. Toss the sour cream sauce with the penne.

I don’t like my food spicy, but if you do, some chili or hot peppers would work well.

 

Canadian vegan cheeses

This article in the Globe and Mail discusses the growth of the vegan cheese industry in Canada. Daiya, of course, is one of the most famous vegan cheese brands in the world, and is proudly Canadian. This article discusses smaller producers of vegan cheeses, based in Toronto and London (ON); these products are not yet available on a large scale, but I live in hope that they will. There are still some very inferior cheeses that look and taste like plastic, but vegan cheese has come a very long way, and some (e.g., Sheese, in the UK, and available in some local stores across Canada) are delicious.

Thirteen things that annoy vegans

This post discusses 13 things that annoy vegans;  it’s written in good fun but it is, in fact, based on the reality we face every day. I’ve been vegan so long that there isn’t anything I haven’t heard or encountered. Most people who know me accept who I am and don’t make a fuss, thank goodness, but I still encounter a few. Some people, for example, seem to constantly look for ways to trap me; for example, they will see me eating a chocolate and ask “is that vegan?”, as though they are hoping to find me “cheating.” Or they proceed to go through the menu in a restaurant to point out what I can eat. Um, I have a number of graduate degrees; I think that reading a menu is within my skill set. Yes, I realize that this is often meant well, but it’s always funny to think about how concerned people become about the state of my health, even though it should be obvious to anyone that if I’m still alive after 30 years of veganism, it’s safe to assume that my I’ve passed that test. I have to resist my very broad streak of sarcasm and not respond with “and where do you get you vitamins and minerals?” when I’m asked from where I get my protein. I try to be gracious as much as possible, of course, as no one likes a preachy or aggressive vegan, and I am Canadian after all, but the urge is there.