Oh, the Veganity!

jerler asked: Hi there :) I've only recently began following you but I'm SUPER JEALOUS about your internship at Farm Sanctuaries and am wondering how you came across such an amazing opportunity and if you have any advice for me to get a similar opportunity.

Farm Sanctuary and other organizations like it often have internship programs that you can apply to. Farm Sanctuary has three locations; Watkins Glen, New York, Orland, CA and Acton, CA(near Los Angeles) you can intern at any of these shelters by applying online: farmsanctuary.org. I know that PETA and Greenpeace also have summer internship programs that you can apply for online. If you are lucky enough to live near one of their shelter locations, Farm Sanctuary also has volunteer days(info on the website) that you can attend to get a feel for the work and the environment before applying.
Good luck! I hope that you apply, these programs are amazing and life changing, and I think that everyone should try to do it if they can.


Recipe: Vegan, Gluten Free, Pumpkin Cheesecake with Peacan Crunch Topping

I recently have been testing out a few recipes from my new book, Vegan Pie in the Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. This recipe was for vegan pumpkin cheesecake, but with a few tweaks, I made it both gluten free and naturally sweetened. I was in a bit of a rush, so I didn’t have time to make the crust by scratch, but the book includes a crust recipe. I made this for an meat eater’s holiday party and everyone loved it. No one could tell it wasn’t the real deal.

So the ingredients we need here are:

For the filling:

1/2 cup whole unroasted cashews soaked in water for a few hours until very soft
1/4 cup mashed banana
1 12 to 14 oz package silken tofu, drained
1/2 cup sugar (I used raw Stevia)
1/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar. It has a courser texture and darker flavor than cane sugar and is a more suitable replacement for brown sugar.)
3 tbsp coconut oil, at room temperature
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 3/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

For the topping:

1/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine or coconut oil
Pinch of salt
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

To make the topping:

In a mixing bowl use a fork to mash together coconut sugar, margarine, and salt until crumbly, then fold in the chopped nuts and stir to coat the mixture. Set aside until ready to use.

Drain the cashews and place in a blender with the banana, tofu, Stevia sugar, coconut sugar, coconut oil, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, orange zest, and sea salt. Blend until completely smooth and no bits of cashew remain.

Set aside 1/2 cup of batter. To the remaining batter, add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and blend until smooth, then pour it into the crust. Randomly spoon dollops of the reserved batter onto the cheesecake. Poke the end of a chopstick into a batter blob and gently swirl to create a marble pattern; repeat with the remaining dollops.

Bake the cheesecake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove cheesecake halfway through baking and sprinkle on the topping. Return to oven to continue baking. Cheesecake will be done when the top is lightly puffed and the edges of the cake are golden. Remove it from the oven and let cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to complete cooling, at least 3 hours or even better if overnight. To serve, slice the cake using a thin, sharp knife dipped in cold water.

It came out looking beautiful and tasting totally amazing. I have tried a few recipes in this book, and like all of their other books on vegan baking, Vegan Pie in the Sky is a triumph. Try it and let me know what you think!


Anonymous asked: Hello Allison, I've been vegan for about six years now but I've had some challenges recently. Ever since I moved in with my non-vegan boyfriend, everyone I've talked to thinks I should compromise on being vegan. This usually has to do with making non-vegan purchases and choosing family dinners. Do you have any suggestions to make staying vegan easier in this situation? Is it unfair of me to feel uncomfortable buying meat or to pressure him into eating vegan more often?

Let me start off by saying, I know exactly how you feel. I have been in that situation countless times and it’s always upsetting to be told that you’re being inflexible or unaccommodating because you don’t want to give up your values.
My boyfriend is also a meat eater, and I basically live at his place half of the time. It can be difficult to provide someone else with meals when they have a very different idea of what food is than you do. I personally don’t purchase any items that are not vegan, even if they’re for someone else. It doesn’t matter if I’m not eating them, if I’m paying for it I am supporting it. You should never allow someone to pressure you into supporting an industry that goes against your morals. I know how hard it can be, but the people in your life care about you, and soon they will come to realize that you can’t be pressured out of your beliefs. I dealt with that a lot when I was first vegan, my family and friends were constantly trying to get me to cave and start eating “just a little” meat or dairy. When they eventually saw how important the cause was to me though, they not only stopped trying to get me to turn back to eating meat, but most of them became vegan as well!
I am and always have been of the opinion that if I’m cooking for someone, they should be happy and eat it, or make their food themselves. My sister, however, has a very different opinion than I do on that subject. She is newly vegan, and still cooks non-vegan meals for her husband who is a staunch carnist. She has a blog of her own that often gives tips on how to most effectively do dual dining(vegan and non-vegan) on a budget: http://aveganinprogress.wordpress.com/.
I don’t think it is at all unfair for you to not want to sacrifice your beliefs so that the people around you can be more comfortable with the way you live. You are obviously a very strong person and committed to this lifestyle, so own it! The only thing that can come out of your boyfriend eating more vegan food is him being healthier. My boyfriend avoids vegetables and fruit like the plague and it’s a pain in the ass. So, finding vegan recipes that he likes is a good way to slip in some better food for him, and to make him more comfortable with the idea that all the food I cook for him is cruelty free. Take your boyfriend’s favorite comfort foods; spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, mac ‘n’ cheese, brownies, etc, and find a good vegan recipe for each one. This way he never feels deprived of the food he loves and you don’t need to worry about keeping the fridge stocked with animal products.
I suggest if you are going to a family meal that you treat it as a potluck and bring a vegan side so that you will have something you can eat, and so that others can try it and see that vegan food can be delicious. I always do that. I bring a from scratch, vegan treat to every party or event I attend. That takes some of the pressure off of the people around you who are worried that you won’t have anything to eat while you’re there.
Hope this helped! Remember, you are your own person, and your beliefs and values come first. You don’t need to change yourself to make others comfortable. Stay strong!

Anonymous asked: Hi Allison, I'm not a vegan by any means, but I have been slowly weaning myself away from meat. I find that my body can no longer properly digest beef. I've also noticed issues with poultry too. This seems like an odd question to ask, but do vegetarians and/or vegans ever have trouble with digestion? Is there any link or information about this? Thank you! -Andrea

Digestion is a very common health issue among those who eat meat and dairy products. The reason being that there is a very delicate balance of natural enzymes and healthy bacteria in your digestive tract, and poor diet knocks it out of balance very easily. Animal products in particular fight off the healthy bacteria with their acid forming properties.
Most of the healthy vegans I know don’t have any issues with digestion, but eating too much processed and overcooked food can clog up your system, whether it’s free of animal products or not. If you stick to whole, organic food and avoid refined sugars, flours and oils, you shouldn’t have any digestion issues. However, we all have times where our digestion could be improved and there are natural ways to help with that.
Flax seed, gogi berry, and ginger are natural digestive aides, also eating more raw fruits and vegetables will increase the effectiveness of your digestive tract.
Probiotics can also be taken to aid in your digestive process, and there are several plant based sources that are easily absorbed by your body, there are soy and coconut yogurts that contain both Bifidus and Acidophilus. Miso, sauerkraut and kimchi are also naturally probiotic.
If you’re interested in learning more about ways to eat to aid in digestion and other functions of the body, look into macrobiotic eating and the raw food movement. Kriss Car, author of Crazy Sexy Diet, and more recently, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, explores both of the food movements in her books. Alicia Silverstone is also a health vegan and goes over the effects of food choices and digestion in her book The Kind Diet, and her website, www.thekindlife.com.
Hopefully this answered your question! Let me know if these suggestions worked for you. You can always take supplements to help digestion, but it’s better to get the enzymes and probiotics naturally than through a pill.

I’m Back! My Internship at Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres.

It has been a wild past few months, but I am happy to say that I am back from my internship and will be writing more entries and answering all of your questions promptly again, so keep sending them in!
There is so much to say about my time spent interning at Farm Sanctuary, It really changed my life. I have learned so much more about the meat, dairy and egg industries from working closely with victims of those industries. Nothing is a better reminder of why I’m a vegan and an animal activist than looking into the eyes of a farm animal that has been affected by needless abuse. I have found myself more committed to the animal rights movement now than ever.
I spent a lot of time with the nearly two hundred rescues that reside at Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres, helping feed and medicate them, grooming, cleaning up after them, and just spending time getting to know all of their personalities. Every single animal I met had a distinct personality and obvious feelings. The cows were loving trouble makers, the pigs were smart and affectionate, the horses were beautiful, the turkeys were curious and adventurous, the chickens were social and talkative, the ducks and geese always traveled together and were protective over each other, the goats and sheep were all a big family, supporting each other and accepting new members immediately. Seeing these animals all live together in harmony makes the best case for animal rights that I can possibly think of, farmed animals are no different than cats and dogs, they deserve just as much love and respect as any domesticated animal. I will be heartbroken to no longer be able to wake up and walk thirty seconds to a barn full of sleeping pigs and watch them dream, or to be woken up by the sounds of a happy rooster, excited that another day has begun. On Thursday, I said goodbye to my friends, the cows, the pigs, the chickens, the turkeys, and most off all, my human friends that have made my time here so very wonderful.

William being as affectionate as ever.

Alicia and Jorja cuddling.

Gabel the turkey, as sweet as she is beautiful.

Molly, the friendliest of our special needs goats.

Li Mu Bai, the Golden Silkie Roo.

Mattie, Agnes, Snuggles, Bebe, and Mary enjoying lunch.

The Majestic Mr. Ed, leader of the herd.

Being surrounded by my fellow animal activists for two months, living with them, working with them, leaning on each other and celebrating victories together, has been surreal. Now my friends are spread across the country and beyond and we must keep fighting for the rights of the voiceless from our own corners of the world. I am happy to announce that I am now working on my own animal rights organization(more information to follow), and I am volunteering for Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Communities Campaign, focusing on education and outreach on a local level. The amazing people who work at Farm Sanctuary have educated, motivated and inspired me. They do so much everyday for the rights of animals that are being abused in the animal agriculture industry. If you are near any Farm Sanctuary locations, stop by for a tour, volunteer at an event, or for a day of work with the animals. If you’re not near a location, buy the book Farm Sanctuary, written by the organization’s President and Co Founder, Gene Baur. Or check out the website(farmsanctuary.org) and make a donation, sponsor an animal or a group of animals, help the cause.
This experience has been enlightening, educational, inspiring, challenging mentally and physically, and the most worthwhile thing I have done in my entire life. Being back home has been strange and hard for many reasons, but it is also exciting as I now have time to work on projects of my own. So whatever questions you have, continue to send them in! Helping the public to adapt to a cruelty free, vegan lifestyle is my highest priority and it has become my main focus once again.
Thanks for reading, and I thank you all for doing your best to live cruelty free!


Plant-Based Diet and Cancer Prevention: What You Can do to Lower Your Risk

I have recently suffered some harassment and questioning over whether my statements on health had enough backing and support from the Medical community. I have decided to remedy this by posting a research heavy entry on the effects of a plant-based diet for cancer prevention. I will try my best to keep the language and information accessible and not get too technical, while briefly providing as many statements from unbiased and legitimate sources as possible.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Cancer cells grow in the body when it is exposed to carcinogens. These are toxic substances that can come into contact with the body in a few ways, mainly from environmental triggers and food intake. The immune system is designed to kill off as many cancer cells as possible on it’s own, but because the average American diet and lifestyle largely reduces the effectiveness of our immune systems, more and more of these cells are surviving in the body and developing into the debilitating and often fatal disease that we know as cancer.
The Nathan Pritikin Research Foundation was the first to question diet’s role in the developing of cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses. The Pritikin Foundation has developed a diet and lifestyle plan based on studies in over 100 leading medical journals over the last thirty years. Health conferences all over the world, and researchers at UCLA, MIT, Stanford, and Harvard applaud the Pritikin plan for it’s ability to prevent many diseases including and especially, cancer.
Founded in 1977, The Pritikin Research Foundation has funded over 110 studies on the role of a plant-based diet and exercise in disease prevention. It is now considered to be the most effective and scientifically documented health and weight loss program in the world. It has been so widely successful that US Congress recently passed legislation allowing Medicare to cover participation in the program. The World Heath Organization, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have all recently determined that the healthiest and most effective diet for fighting obesity and building long term health most closely resembled the Pritikin program.
The idea behind the Pritikin program is a simple one; eating a diet that is free of animal fats and high in fiber-rich grains, fruits and vegetables. Combine that with moderate but regular exercise and you should be able to not only prevent many diseases and ailments, but actually reverse a number of them. Don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at what the research has to say;

  • Adopting the Pritikin Program retarded the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer cells, and induced tumor cells to self-destruct. (Cancer Causes and Control, 13: 929, 2002; Nutrition and Cancer, 55 (1): 28, 2006)

  • On eliminating the need for Angioplasty and coronary bypass surgery, A five-year follow-up of 64 men who chose Pritikin instead of the recommended bypass surgery found that 80% never needed the surgery. Of those taking drugs for angina (chest) pain, 62% left the Center pain-free and drug-free. (Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 3: 183, 1983.)

  • 74% of 864 diabetics on oral drugs left Pritikin drug-free; 44% on insulin left insulin-free. Those who continued the Pritikin Program stayed off the medications. (Journal of Applied Physiology, 98: 3, 2005. See also Diabetes Care, 17: 1469, 1994.)

  • The Pritikin Program of diet and exercise can reduce prostate cancer cell growth by as much as 45%. This should drastically reduce the risk for clinical cancer. (J. Urol. 2001, Nutrition and Cancer 2002, Cancer Causes and Control 2002, Prostate 2003, Endocrinology 2003, J. Appl. Physiol 2004 and, five invited reviews (Obesity Rev 2002, eCAM Jol 2004, Nova Science 2004, Springer 2005, Recent Results in Cancer Research (Controversies in Tumor Prevention and Genetics III). H-J. Senn and R. Morant, eds. Springer 2005, 166:47-62, Eur J Cancer Prev. 16:415-421, 2007).

  • Several studies have found that adopting the Pritikin Program reduced key risk factors for breast, colon, and prostate cancer. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 86: 1419, 1994; Nutrition and Cancer, 31: 127,1998; Nutrition and Cancer, 38: 158, 2000; The Journal of Urology, 166: 1185, 2001.)

  • "This is the first study to my knowledge to show that lifestyle changes can induce apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells… Overall, these results suggest that exercise combined with a Pritikin-type diet can result in a significant reduction in the risk for breast cancer." (James Barnard, Ph.D., professor of physiological science at UCLA)

  • Studying the effect of dietary fat on prostate cancer development, UCLA researchers found that animals on a low-fat diet (12% calories from fat) were significantly less likely to develop invasive prostate cancer compared to animals on a high-fat diet. (42% calories from fat). (Kobayashi, N., R.J. Barnard, J. Said, J. Hong-Gonzales, D.M. Corman, M. Ku, N.B. Doan, D. Elashoff, P. Cohen, W.J. Aronson. Effect of low fat diet on development of prostate cancer and the Akt pathway. Cancer Res. 68:3066-3073,2008)

  • "Several large population studies have found that countries with the lowest intake of dietary fats have the lowest incidences of breast cancer, as well as colon and prostate cancer…Conversely, women raised in affluent cultures like the United States, full of high-fat fare like french fries and cheeseburgers, suffer the highest rates of breast cancer in the world - an 80% increase compared to cultures like Okinawa, Japan, where dietary fat intake is low, about 20% of total calories, and intake of fresh, fiber-filled foods like fruits and vegetables is high…Studies have found, too, that when women from low-breast-cancer-risk countries like Japan and China leave their traditional diets and migrate to countries like the U.S., their rates of breast cancer rise to the same high levels of their Western neighbors, and within just two generations.” (James Barnard, Ph.D., professor of physiological science at UCLA)

  • “In serum samples we demonstrated that the Pritikin Program reduced estradiol, insulin and IGF-I while increasing IGFBP-1. These changes in serum resulted in reduced growth and increased apoptosis (cell death) in three different serum-stimulated, estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cell lines.” (Nutrition and Cancer 55:28-34,2006)

  • The latest research provides groundbreaking data showing that the Pritikin Program induced prostate cancer cells to die. (Prostate, 56: 201, 2003.)

Okay, so it’s clear at this point that a plant-based (vegan) diet can help to kill cancer cells and keep the disease from developing in the body, but what proof is there that the wrong diet can lead to cancer cells forming in the body?
Excellent question.
Environmental factors that contribute to cancer include, but are not limited to, exposure to radiation, pesticides, and xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals which block or mimic estrogen in the human body). The main cause of the damage is ‘persistent organic pollutants’ (POP’s), which are a group of highly toxic, bio-accumulative and long lived chemicals. The effects of these toxic chemicals have only been discovered in recent years due to the ability of POP’s to emerge years and sometime generations after exposure to them.
“People receive about 90% of their total intake of these compounds from foods of animal origin. Something as common as a McDonald’s Big Mac carries 30% of the World Health Organization’s recommendation for daily dioxin intake.” (Worldwatch Institute, 2000).

Dioxin is an incredibly carcinogenic substance and a very serious threat to the health of human beings and the environment. It has been deemed the most dangerous chemical known to science. Dr. Diane Courtney, head of the Toxic Effects Branch of the EPA’s National Environmental Research Center, said in a statement to Congress that,
“Dioxin is by far the most toxic chemical known to mankind.”
It has been concluded that dioxin alone may be responsible for 12% of human cancers in industrialized societies.(“Quantative Cancer Risk Assesment for Dioxins Using an Occasional Cohort.”
Environmental Health Perspectives 106. 1998.)
The EPA states that up to 95% of dioxin exposure comes from red meat, fish, and dairy products.

Let’s say that one more time just so I can feel sure that you all read that part:

The EPA states that up to 95% of dioxin exposure comes from red meat, fish, and dairy products.

Dioxin is absolutely known to cause cancer, genetic and reproductive defects and learning disabilities, and the only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure AT ALL.
Despite the obvious health hazards of the chemical dioxin, dairy, meat and fish products are crammed full of it. In November of 1999, a level of dioxin 200 times greater that the “virtually safe daily dose” determined by the EPA was found in Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream.

Levels of dioxin in a sample serving of Ben and Jerry’s brand ice cream are approximately 2,200 times greater than the level of dioxin allowed in a ‘serving’ of wastewater discharged into San Francisco Bay from the Tosco Refinery.” (Study presented at the “Dioxins 2000” conference in August 2000. According to independent laboratory tests cited by Michael Gough, chairman of the US Department of Health and Human Services advisory panel.)

At this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking, if these chemicals found in animal products are so dangerous and so pervasive to causing cancer in humans, why haven’t I heard of it before?
Another great question.
There is a lot of money to be made in the meat and dairy industries. The heads of these corporations spend literally billions of dollars spewing out false information to the public in the form of commercials, PSAs, doctored studies, and “educational materials” to keep everyone as misinformed about their health as possible so they can see more profits. These evil and slimy practices have been going on in this country since the early 1900’s, when the National Dairy Council and the National Livestock and Meat Board were founded. These industries have relied upon the public’s general lack of education on health and nutrition for so many decades that it has become a part of our society. Americans generally believe animal products are healthy and necessary for a complete and balanced diet. Although this couldn’t possibly be further from the truth, slow indoctrination processes for over a century has made us not only believe it, but defend it with gusto and force. I’m telling you right now, as a fellow human being that wants to heal the environment, the economy, and save everyone from fatal disease, don’t automatically believe whatever you hear. Question everything! Do your own research, know the stone cold facts instead of believing what you’ve been spoon-fed by giant corporations for your entire life. You can greatly reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis, and transferring learning disabilities and birth defects to the next generation all by adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle. Go veg.

Stop the Mistreatment of Animals in the Media!!

I have recently come to find some disturbing news about a new show on NBC called Animal Practice. This show features a number of wild animals including one of the main characters, a Capuchin monkey named Crystal. This monkey is forced to not only live in an unnatural environment for her, but it is also clear that NBC has failed to provide an animal behaviorist for Crystal, as she displays many facial cues of a Capuchin in great distress while on screen. The ‘smile’ that monkeys appear to have is actually a sign of anxiety, fear and discomfort. Since she is not the only wild animal on the show, it is safe to assume that Animal Practice has denied the rest of their animal ‘actors’ specialized behaviorists as well.
The other danger factor for animals that Animal Practice brings up is that of media influence. Seeing a cute monkey smiling on a TV show will make a lot of viewers decide they want one as a pet. After purchasing a Capuchin, most people will realize that a wild animal isn’t easy to care for and abandon it or give it to a shelter, where many will be forced to live in captivity until they die. This exact situation happened during the early seasons of the TV show Friends. For those of you who didn’t watch the show, one of the lead characters, Ross, acquires a pet monkey who he names Marcel. After seeing this favorable character have a wild animal for a pet, a number of fans of the show bought themselves Capuchins as well, and it ended as badly as it possibly could, with thousands of monkeys being kept as household pets despite their desperate need to live amongst their own kind in their natural habitat.
This is not acceptable and should not be allowed to continue. PETA has already contacted the head of NBC and asked them to cancel the show, but we all know that they can’t do it without our help. I ask my fellow vegans and animal lovers to please boycott this show and spread the word that Animal Practice displays insensitivity and cruelty to a number of animals and should not be on the air any longer.

quixoticandbarefoot asked: Do you find that the longer you're a vegan, the easier it is to brush off the comments of people who are very negative about your veganism/veganism in general?

In some cases, yes. It is never easy to hear hurtful comments, and unfortunately it is something that all vegans must put up with on a fairly regular basis. However, the more you read and learn about the horrors of factory farms and the impact that meat and dairy industries have on the planet and economy, the easier it is to stand by your choice no matter what people say. I have had people who insulted me about being vegan, and then in time learned about the issues and became vegans themselves and then apologized to me for being insensitive. In the end, it’s about doing what you can to make the world a better place. And as long as you have confidence in yourself and your lifestyle, then their negativity won’t affect you. Stay strong and remember that you are in the right and have an entire community behind you, even if it seems like you’re alone in your beliefs.

Farm Sancutary Internship

Hello everyone! I’m just posting to let you all know that I’m going to be taking a two month break from my blog to intern at Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres. I will be helping take care of animals that were in factory farms and other abusive environments. I can’t wait to start, and I’ll be taking lots of pictures and documenting my entire time there for a great post when I come home. Feel free to still ask questions and send messages, it might just be a while until I can answer them, as I will be coming home in December.
Thanks for reading, and keep advocating for change and a compassionate way of life! You guys are all awesome and you’re an integral part of the great food revolution!


hayley-joelle-deactivated201403 asked: are you a raw vegan?

I’m not entirely raw, mostly because I love to cook and bake, but I do eat raw meals several times a day. Eating raw is awesome! It gives you loads of energy and cleans up your skin.