I wanted to get a travel mat for my upcoming trips, so I went to Certified Calm the other day to look for options. I asked about teacher discounts and was told I can bring a photocopy of my Teacher Training certificate to avail of it. Even though I was ready to buy at that time, I thought a discount was still a discount, so I had my certificate photocopied and I brought it with me today. I got to the counter with the mat and the photocopy, to be told that I need certification from studios where I teach. In the end (after asserting myself) I got my discount (though they still want something written from the studios) but I thought their policy was inefficient. It wasn't enough that I asked the other day when the information given to me was incomplete. They did not want to look at the schedules online for studios where I teach, which is what Lululemon does to decide whether your teacher discount can be given. I guess what I found disturbing more than anything is when they (and other stores and companies) hold on to the "company policy" card. If the company policy is inefficient, shouldn't one change it rather than defend it to the core? And if not change, maybe just acknowledge that it needs to be reviewed. Just my opinion. In all honesty, if I had been asked to come back for the third time, I will just choose not to buy and that is a sale lost. Oh well.
The Vietnamese garlic spaghetti (specify no butter, no cheese, no bread, no cruelty, no violence) is my favorite vegan option at The Old Spaghetti House. There are a couple of other things that can be veganized, but I always end up getting this.
In the experiment conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto, researcher and author of The Hidden Messages in Water, he showed on a physical level that thoughts affect reality. Water crystals reacted to the emotions projected unto them.
So I printed out these words with my Dymo label maker:
And I put them on my yoga water bottle.
Roughly 70% of the human body is made of water. Why not put our positive energy into it?
Sometimes we feel angry or hopeless when we look at the world and we think it is not changing fast enough for the victims of our collective cultural violence. And whether we succumb to feelings of anger or hate or frustration, the root of all these negative feelings is pain.
I think it takes courage to feel pain. In a world where we are encouraged to be escapists, to drink, to shop, to consume, to disconnect, to numb our minds, to build walls, the fact that we still feel pain towards the plight of others means that we are warriors. We are connected to that part of ourselves that say "No, I will not be a mere passerby."
In Manorama's lecture The Warrior Within Through the Bhagavad Gita, she said that it is not a question of whether we are warriors or not. The question lies in what kind of warriors we are and what we are fighting for.
For the vegan community and many in the Jivamukti community, we fight against all oppression, including the oppression against animals. Admittedly, this fight can become weary at times, especially when we encounter more people who seem not to care than those who do. How do we continue this fight? By examining the kind of warrior we want to be. We want to become warriors who win the war, not the battle. We can become attached to the battle in the form of spending too much of our energy trying to change the hearts and minds of a few specific people because they are our family or friends or influential people in our community or fellow yoga teachers or we just think they have it in them. But as Manorama mentioned in the lecture, it is not up to us to take on the journey of others. And I think we owe it to the victims of oppression not to become too attached to a specific battle. We fight this ignorance and apathy by planting seeds where we can. We plant the seed, let go, move on, plant the seed, let go, move on. The cycle continues. We owe it to the victims not to be paralyzed by our perceived failures. We owe it to the victims not to value one seed more than the other. There will be people who are not ready to make the change at that moment no matter what we do, but there will also be people who are ready to make the change. We won't know who they are unless we give them credit. We won't know who they are unless we detach from our frustrations and forge ahead to seek those who are ready to listen.
For every minute that we spend trying to change the mind of someone who already has awareness of this oppression but is unwilling to make the corresponding changes, we can spend that same minute bringing awareness to those who truly have not thought of these issues.
The war against oppression can be won if there are enough of us. It is not necessary that every single person be vegan for the world to become vegan. Just as there are many people who do not take an active stand in examining their choices to participate in a non-vegan world, so it will be in a vegan world. There are those who at the moment are comfortable with conformity, and they will conform to the norms of the times. If the world is not vegan, they will conform to it. If the world is vegan, they will conform to it. We will know who they are in the process of planting our seeds.
We win the war against oppression by learning to let go. The spiritual work that is required of us as activists is to love everyone- even if they are not ready to make the change, forego judgment, and finally let go of our need to change them.
It is our work not to dwell on anger, but rather simply to observe those feelings when they come, and let them go, so that we can make space, forge ahead and continue to fight. If we allow ourselves to become caught up in hopelessness because of the actions of a few, if we start to judge the entire humanity based on the apathy of a few, then we are not serving the animals well. Our work is not for our ego. The time is too short to feel sorry for ourselves. Ultimately, our work is for the animals. The need is urgent. We need this code of letting go so we can move on and plant as many seeds as we can, to build that counter-culture that will stand firm and break down oppression. And the time to do it is now.
Saw these horses made of wire by the gardens in Greenbelt 5. I couldn't find any written descriptions so I wasn't sure if it was an installation intended for the space or just there temporarily for storage. In any case, I thought it was an interesting use of medium.
I considered not writing about Pipino at all, since I have been quite disappointed by their Jupiter branch. But the pictures are nice, so here they are. Beauty is skin deep. I guess this applies to food too. May bad vegan food not turn one off veganism. After all, veganism is not about diet. It is about boycotting violence. Lackluster food is optional.
Thank the vegan gods I have used up my Groupons. I can move on with my life now. I will visit Pipino again when they've shaped up, because I truly want to support a vegan restaurant.
Things I like about Spring by Ha Yuan:
- Veg options are clearly marked
- Food is prepared on the spot
- No MSG (I get dizzy with MSG)
I got Mapo Tofu and Tofu, Mushroom, and Chives Dumplings. Not pictured here, but other vegan options are Vegetarian Machang, Veggie Loaded Lumpia, and a few bean-based desserts.
What I don't like about the place:
- Promoting "happy meat". There is no such thing. No animal willingly gives up his or her life to be brutally slaughtered for food. (Please watch Earthlings at www.earthlings.com).
- Beheaded chickens hanging openly at the restaurant. I know many places do this. I dislike all of them. It contributes to desensitization. Imagine a beheaded infant hanging upside down in a restaurant and people not taking any notice. Yes, that is what I mean by desensitization. We don't see what's wrong with it anymore because we made it "normal".
Spring by Ha Yuan is located at the Ground Floor of BSA Mansion in Benavidez Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City. Open Mondays to Saturdays.
I feel bad for The Vegetarian Kitchen, because I don't know how they will outdo themselves this time. I had 3 things that are completely new on the menu, and not only do I love them, each dish also brought me back to memory lane. And it made me realize that most people are attached to food not because of the food per se but because of the experience associated with it.
The longganisang macau (yes, this is vegan, not vigan, longganisa) reminded me of the sausages I had at the streets of Taiwan when I travelled with my mom and dad. I have forgotten about the taste of this altogether, not because I became vegan, but because it's been more than half a lifetime ago since I visited the country.
It was served as an appetizer. Next time I have it though, I will pair it with tofu scramble and fried rice for a breakfast-style meal.
The fetuccini carbonara is the very first dish I cooked in my life. This was during my pre-vegan days. I lived in Beijing then and the first dish I cooked was a smashing success according to my then-boyfriend. I loved the dish myself though. So to have a vegan version of it readily available is just amazing! The veggie ham that came with it reminded me of salami sandwiches I'd have at home when I was a kid.
And the dessert, ponkan olive oil loaf, had a texture similar to rum cake, ones I had during late night coffee with friends in my early 20s.
So this is why I feel bad for The Vegetarian Kitchen. How can they top this now? I challenge them and I will be there every week (I hope) to see how they manage.
The Vegetarian Kitchen is located at 62B Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City. The most significant landmark is that it's across St. Mary's College. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays 11am to 9pm. They do have a break in between so call 355-56-22 if you plan to be there between 3pm and 5pm.
Every vegan knows that non-vegans tend to get confused when it comes to what is vegan and what is not. For many, the word vegan itself is unfamiliar, and they use it interchangeably with dietary lacto-ovo-vegetarianism.
So what is vegan anyway? To start, the word vegan is pronounced "vee-gun". It is not vay-jun. It is not vay-gun. It's vee-gun!
Veganism is an ethical stand not to exploit animals in any way. It is not just a diet. The dietary part of it is the most prominent because it is that aspect of our lives where we get to exercise our vegan choices the most often. To be vegan is to boycott animal products, including but not limited to meat (meat of any animal including fish and other sea animals), dairy, eggs, honey, animal skin/fur, products tested on animals, places that exploit animals for entertainment such as zoos, circuses, dolphin shows etc. It is not about purity or making sure that no animal products enter our body. It is about using our money, resources, and consumer power to tell the world that we will not stand for the exploitation, rape, abuse, and murder of animals. Food labels and ingredients lists are our best friend. Reading them is one of the skills we pick up as vegans. Many of us learn quickly that dairy-free does not necessarily mean vegan (case in point: non-dairy creamers like Coffee Mate or non-dairy ice creams would often contain casein), and what is marketed as healthy versions are not necessarily vegan either (another case in point: not all margarine are vegetable-based. In fact, most local brands that I encountered in the Philippines are NOT vegan, possibly with the exception of a brand called Bambi which I only found at a supermarket in Surigao). Whenever we can, we also look into how products are processed and avoid those wherein animals may have been used even if they're not part of the final ingredients list (such as beer, wine, sugar, etc). Non-vegans also tend to get confused with the presence of the word butter, as in coca butter, peanut butter, and shea butter, which are all conventionally vegan and contain no dairy. In any case, vegans read ingredients lists to be sure. Some companies make their peanut butter not vegan. I don't understand why, but that's beside the point.
Here are common animal products and by-products to watch out for when you're transitioning to veganism. NONE of these are vegan:
Casein or Caseinate or Sodium Caseinate- Animal milk protein
Gelatin- Protein from animal skins, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones
Honey- Derived from bees through regurgitation (in laymen's terms, vomit)
Lactic Acid- Found in blood and muscle tissue of animals
Lactose- Milk sugar from the milk of mammals
Natural Sources- Can mean animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil
Rennet- Enzyme from calves’ stomachs
Whey- A serum from milk
Beeswax or Honeycomb- Wax obtained from melting a honeycomb
Collagen- Fibrous protein in vertebrates usually derived from animal tissue
Glycerin or Glycerol- A byproduct of soap manufacture that normally uses animal fat
Keratin- Protein from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and animal hair
Lanolin or Lanolin Acids - A product of the oil glands of sheep extracted from their wool
Placenta or Placenta Polypeptides Protein- Contains waste matter eliminated by the fetus derived from the uterus of slaughtered animals
Squalene- Oil from shark livers
Stearyl Alcohol or Sterols- Can be prepared from sperm whale oil
Clothing and Accessories
Cashmere- Wool from the Kashmir or “Cashmere” goat
Down- Goose or duck insulating feathers from slaughtered or cruelly exploited geese
Feathers- From exploited and slaughtered birds
Fur- Hair from foxes, rabbits, minks, beavers, ermines, otters, sables, seals, cats, dogs, coyotes, chinchillas, and possums
Silk or Silk Powder- Shiny fiber made by silkworms to form their cocoons
Wool- From sheep
Leather or Suede or Calfskin or Sheepskin or Alligator Skin or Other Types of Skin- Animal skin that subsidizes the meat industry and not a by-product
There are tons of resources to help you read labels. Some that I use myself are:
Animal-Free App for iPhone
Animal-Free App for Android
Animal Ingredients List
Beer, Wine, Liquor Guide
If you've read through all of this and still wonder "why vegan anyway?", look into any (or all) of these resources:
From Farm to Fridge
I Am Animal documentary
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
The Abolitionist Approach by Gary Francione
The Animals Film documentary
The Cove documentary
The Food Revolution by John Robbins
The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle
Vegan. For the People. For the Planet. For the Animals
Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast
Veganism in Nonviolence. Simple as that. No ifs and buts!
What happens when you get a bunch of vegans together? We eat our plants and bring our animal friends. The first year we had a potluck was at Sycip Park, the second year at Mt. Pinatubo, and this year we had it at Bianca's place and she organized it beautifully. Technically, these are not the only times that we had the potluck. But I suppose these are the ones most widely planned.
Venue and decoration by Bianca/ Ole Events.
The food provided by everyone, vegan potluck style. I missed taking pictures of a couple of things- which happens when I start eating.
And the dogs came out to play, some more than the others. From left to right: Bosco, Joker, Hobbes, Scrappy. All the boy doggies in their less compromising moments. The only girl, Nikki, was missing in action.
It was a blast. Til the next picnic/potluck!