Monday, October 16, 2017

Committed or Crazy?

Finish the statement --" You know you're committed when..."

After working all day I decided to make a run to the grocery store for a couple of items I needed to restock my pantry.  To three stores actually, in another town 30 minutes from home.  Why?  Why drive that far for a couple of items?  Because they are foods we have come to enjoy as vegans but cannot find in our local grocery and discount stores.  As if being vegan isn't crazy enough, right?

Three hours later I pulled into the driveway with a trunk full of groceries and the realization that I'm not crazy, but rather committed to a lifestyle that benefits animals, the environment, and my own health.

Being vegan in a predominantly meat-eating world is not always easy or convenient. In fact, sometimes it is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and frustrating.  But at the end of the day, or at least the end of a longer than usual trip to the grocery store, how nice it is to sit down and savor a meal that is delicious, nutritious, and good for everyone!

Yes, some will call me crazy. But I like to think of myself as committed to something worthwhile and beneficial.

Copyright 2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The One Thing That Hasn't Changed

Nearly 18 months into the vegan lifestyle, I find myself distracted from some of the commitments I was so passionate about at first:  maintaining this blog, watching documentaries like they were the only genre that existed, and signing up for every animal save demonstration and veggie fest within a day's drive.  In some aspects I feel I have failed the cause, but there is one thing that hasn't changed:  my commitment to eat only plant-based foods, use cruelty-free products whenever possible, and engage in conversation about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Every now and then I dream that I have fallen off the wagon and eaten a hamburger or chicken breast, or at least been tempted to.  In those dreams I find myself reasoning that "what Joy doesn't know won't hurt her."  You see, Joy is my accountability partner in this journey, and she too remains committed to a life of meatless eating.  But I find that even in my dreams I remain true to my conviction and either decline to cheat, or feel remorseful if I do.

My reasons for remaining vegan are the same as the day I first began this journey. I love animals and find it unnecessary to kill them to feed or clothe my body. I want to be a part of the solution for climate change, not a contributor to it. And most importantly, I want to be the best me I can be -- healthy, strong, energetic, and filled with compassion toward all creatures great and small.

My dream is that others would dare to imagine that they really can beat their addiction to meat and cheese and give up animal-based products in favor of meatless alternatives, because I know that in so doing they would experience the freedom and joy of eating without guilt and the health benefits of a plant-based diet.




Copyright 2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Friday, August 11, 2017

Soy Curls: Who Knew?

Soy Curls with Cashew Milk
A few months ago Joy and I attended a vegan cooking class, where we were introduced to a delightful new food, soy curls.  Living in a vegan food dessert as we do, we have been unable to find these locally, so recently I ordered a bag of Butler Soy Curls from Amazon.com so we could try the recipe that we had been served that day.  The recipe -- Soy Curls with Cashew Milk -- made a strong first impression on us at the cooking class, and we were pleasantly surprised that we were able to duplicate and enjoy the dish at home.

First, a word about soy curls for those who don't know what they are.  Soy curls are a natural meat alternative made from soy beans. The particular brand we used, Butler's, are made from non-GMO whole soybeans grown without pesticides. Click HERE to read more about this delicious product and how soy curls are made.

Soy curls are easy to use and a versatile substitute for meat in many dishes. To prepare them for recipes, merely soak in hot water for 10 minutes, rinse, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Then season as desired or use in place of meat in your favorite dish. It's that simple. Extra soy curls not needed for your recipe can be stored in the fridge for future use. For more information on preparing them, click HERE.

Now that we've used them to make the dish above -- a sort of vegan chicken Alfredo -- we are eager to try them in stir-fry dishes and to make barbecue sandwiches! Click HERE for recipes from ButlerFoods.com.

The recipe for Soy Curls with Cashew Milk, pictured above, was adapted from the Give Them Something Better Cookbook, which we purchased at the cooking class, conducted by the director of the Hartland Lifestyle Center and students of Hartland Institute. We have provided that recipe for you and encourage you to order soy curls and try this for yourself! We served the sauce over whole wheat linguine and enjoyed every bite!

Soy Curls with Cashew Milk

Ingredients:
3 cups Soy curls
1 large onion, minced
4-6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 red bell pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp. salt

Blend:
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cashews

Directions:
1.  Soak soy curls in hot water for 10 minutes or until soft.  Drain, wash and squeeze water out of the soy curls.
2.  Saute soy curls with garlic, onion, bell pepper, and salt in a little water for about 30 minutes or until onions and bell pepper are soft.
3.  Blend cashews and water until smooth.  (NOTE:  If you are not using a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, soak the cashews for at least an hour.)
4.  Then add the blended cashews and remove from the heat.


If you are new to plant-based eating, or if you are a seasoned pro and have never tried soy curls, you need to order a bag (or several) and give them a try!




Copyright 2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Friday, July 28, 2017

In My Dreams

There are times when we will dream something, and when we wake up we've forgotten what it was we dreamed about.  This is not the case for what I dreamed about last night.

It was sort of a strange dream, and for once, I felt like I was in the center, or focus, of the dream. In the dream, I was vocal, very emotional, and had my struggles. And it all started when a huge (way bigger than a normal sized seal) seal washed up on a beach....

People instantly started flocking to the seal, which was alive I might add. I was stunned, but quickly started to say "no, no, no..." Next thing I know, I'm running to get to the seal. I quickly stepped up for the seal, protecting it from the crowd of onlookers. The crowd of people wanted to do something to the seal. They didn't want to help it return to the ocean, but use the seal for their own personal gain.

I believe dusk had fallen when I gave my big, emotional speech in an effort to persuade the people to save the seal. I'm a quiet person, but in my dream, while giving the speech, I was loud, vocal, emotional, and there was such a passion in my voice. I remember talking about how humans mistreat all kinds of animals for their own selfish reasons.

I think the next thing I did in the dream was start researching and looking at maps. I had to find the right channel/area of water in order to get the seal back to the ocean. I was trying so hard to figure out how to return this seal to the ocean. Eventually, my mother came to me and said that it just wasn't going to happen. It looked like there was no hope, or way, of returning the seal to the ocean. I became so sad and disappointed. Tears started to flow from my eyes.

The next thing I know, I'm on the beach at the seal's side. A look of sadness and anguish was upon the animal's face. I was trying to comfort the seal, and I was most likely crying as well. In truth, I don't know if the seal ever made it back to the ocean. But I believe I saw it swimming in the water. At the end of the dream I think I was happy and had a sense of accomplishment. This leads me to believe the seal returned to the place where it belonged, the sea.

            I think I dreamed this because yesterday I thought about a painting I want to create. One of the most emotional and heart-wrenching acts of animal cruelty I've seen on video is seal hunting. A man going after a baby seal with a club, while the mother seal chases behind the man. The mother seal sniffing the bloody carcass of her pup after it's been clubbed and it's skin has been peeled right off. I really want to create a painting of this because it's been on my mind for so long now. Hopefully one day I will.

"Human beings are great in their own eyes, but are not much in the eyes of nature.   -- Kensho Furuya"
           
          ~ Joy





Copyright 2016-2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Unbearable

Unbearable.  It is a word often associated with oppression, sorrow, abuse, and burdens too heavy to bear. It is a word frequently used to describe adverse circumstances beyond our control or the stress inflicted upon us by others. What does the word "unbearable" bring to your mind?

As we continue to deal with the effects of a brutal summer heat wave my thoughts are drawn to the truckloads of pigs being hauled in extreme weather conditions to slaughter houses where they will be inhumanely killed to become bacon, pork chops, picnic shoulders, and sausages. Spending their short lives in deplorable conditions on factory farms, deprived of sunshine, fresh air, and the feel of grass beneath their hooves, these abused and fearful creatures will be slaughtered, cut into pieces, shrink wrapped onto Styrofoam trays, and arranged neatly in supermarket meat refrigerators. Humans who know nothing of their suffering or the capacity of these pigs to feel fear, will purchase their body parts and consume them without ever considering the price these creatures paid to satisfy man's appetite. Because we have been conditioned to accept this injustice as "normal," we are slow to accept responsibility for the unbearable plight we have subjected these pigs to, all because we view them as objects rather than the intelligent and sentient beings they are.

A similar fate plays out in the lives of many species of animals every day -- chickens, cows, fish, goats, sheep, bison, elk , deer -- animals killed to feed and clothe humanity, or hunted to satisfy man's pride.  We take their lives unnecessarily and without hesitation, never truly considering their rights or feelings, or recognizing that there are options that don't involve their destruction.

Nearly as unbearable as this image of pigs headed to slaughter is the thought that I have personally been responsible for the deaths of countless animals in my fifty plus years on this earth. For most of my life I, too, thought of farmed animals as nothing more than cartons of eggs or packages of bacon, to be purchased and enjoyed because that was my right. I viewed them differently from my domesticated pets or the animals on display at the zoo.  As a professing animal lover like you, I would never think of consuming a dog or cat. But is there really any difference between our family pets and farmed animals that are raised for food?

In 2016 my eyes were opened to the horrors of factory farming, the inhumane treatment of animals, and the destructive effects on our environment as a result of raising animals for human consumption. For decades, I bought into the lies that consuming the flesh and fluid of animals was necessary to ensure proper nutrition and good health, and the enjoyment of holidays and special occasions. Struggling with lifelong obesity, high cholesterol, and chronic acid reflux, I made the switch to a plant-based diet for my own health, animal welfare, and concern for the environment. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Perhaps the greatest struggle I have faced in this journey is my inability to persuade those I love most to change lifelong habits and switch to a plant-based diet. Despite my weight loss, improved cholesterol numbers, and reversal of my digestive issues as proof of the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. I find it difficult to comprehend that so many of the people I know choose to eat meat and suffer chronic health issues that could be drastically improved by making the switch and leaving meat off their plates.

Two of the greatest blessings I have experienced on this journey are meeting other vegans and actively supporting the work of organizations like Smithfield Pig Save and Ziggy's Refuge Farm Sanctuary.  Smithfield Pig Save works tirelessly to raise awareness of the plight of farmed animals -- pigs, in particular -- and Ziggy's Refuge provides a happy ending and forever home to farm animals that have been abused, neglected, and rescued from slaughterhouses.

If you are straddling the fence, wondering if you can give up cheese or bacon in favor of fruits and veggies, visit a farm sanctuary and hug a pig or talk to a turkey. Once you meet and interact with these animals, you will be less inclined to eat them.

I am sure I will continue to experience ridicule and rejection for adopting a vegan lifestyle, but I will never apologize for my decision to educate others and fight for the animals who have no voice. They are worth the fight. So is our planet. So are you.

Pressing on for peace, health, and compassion,

Dee Dee


Copyright 2016-2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Be the Change

Life has been so busy lately that I haven't had much time to reflect on all that has been going on, nurture my dreams, or give myself to the causes that matter most to me. Like you, I feel each day passes more quickly than the one before and I am robbed of the opportunity to work for positive change. As much as I love to write I find it difficult to carve out the time necessary to do so. Between working, running a household, and squeezing in my daily quiet time and workout there isn't time to do much else.  Every now and then I find it necessary to permit myself to simply exist instead of pushing myself to do more.

But all is not lost. Even though we may feel stretched beyond our limits we can do more simply by living according to our convictions. For instance, although I might not have the time or resources to more fully participate in the vegan causes near and dear to my heart I can donate money and at least eat and live to promote a more compassionate and healthy lifestyle. On those days when I cannot find the time to exercise I can at least eat nutritiously. Though I cannot change the government's stance on climate change or the animal abuse and pollution rampant in factory farming I can do my part to effect positive change by sharing with others what I am learning about the impact of factory farming on our environment and by choosing to leave meat off my plate.

"Be the change you want to see" has become a motto to live by for many of us. Actions truly do speak louder than words, and how we choose to live has the power to change the world, for better or for worse.

The choice to abstain from eating animals has not won me any popularity contests. On the other hand it has caused animosity between me and members of my own family and some of my closest friends. My desire that they experience better health and greater happiness will never be enough to persuade them to trade in barbecue and fried chicken for broccoli and chickpeas, but I hope the positive changes they see in me as I continue this journey will eventually cause them to wonder if perhaps I am onto something.

The feeling that there is truly so little we can do in a world that is so wrong can be overwhelming at times. But it needn't be if we will simply remember to "be the change we want to see."


Copyright 2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com

Monday, June 19, 2017

Overwhelmed

All of a sudden I am feeling very depressed. It's been on my mind recently that the human species is pretty awful. We are destroying the planet, many of us have no respect for the animals we share our planet with, and we think we are above everything.

We're selfish, greedy, and conceited, to say the least.  Despite what some people may say, we still want to accumulate a lot of money and possessions. We have too much stuff, at least in America. Nothing can be the same, and we have more than enough variety! Often, we're probably more wasteful than we are grateful.

You know, nothing is simple anymore. Nothing is natural anymore. Our planet is full of chemicals, and harsh ones at that! Have we not progressed enough? Because I believe we have! Do we honestly need touch screen refrigerators? There are a ton of people in other countries who don't even have refrigerators!

In our society, everything has to be convenient. We can't even take the time to look up the weather on our smart phones. No, that would be too hard. Now we ask a device to do it for us; "Hey Alexa, what's the temperature outside?" Heaven forbid we step outside to see if it's hot or cold!

Let's talk about how our cars are becoming safer. Today's cars have sensors that let you know if you're about to hit someone. Did anyone ever think that we're actually going to create drivers that are going to be more lazy and pay less attention? I mean it's nice to have insurance in case something unexpected occurs, but we still need to pay very good attention while driving. Driving can be dangerous, and we don't need to rely on our "smart cars" to do everything for us.

Let's all admit it. We love technology. But do we ever really think about it? I honestly have no idea how the Internet works. Do you? We press buttons, type things on our screens, and are able to swipe through people's pictures on Instagram. But how? It's probably so complicated I don't even want to know. What are all the symbols, numbers, and letters for? Technology scares me sometimes, and if it doesn't scare you, it should.

We're over fishing our oceans, killing amazing animals like rhinos in Africa, and zoos are so normal now it's just like going to the movie theater. We care about all the money we make from commercial fishing so much that we don't give a second thought to all the animals we kill that aren't fish, and the huge impact commercial fishing has on the oceans. We go to the African savanna and kill amazing creatures like rhinos, lions, and giraffes because we think it's cool. It's not respect in any way, but cold blooded murder. And in no way is it helping the ecosystem. I am not a radical "anti-zoos" person, but when I think about it, zoos are a little messed up, not to mention unnatural. I realize some animals who end up in zoos are rescued or taken from a bad situation, but that is certainly not the case for all the animals who end up in zoos. I just really don't see how it's natural to take a wild animal out of its natural environment, where, mind you, God perfectly placed the animal, and take it to live in a confined area where it will spend the rest of its life. Oh well, there are water pools, toys, rocks, grass, and the safety of knowing they won't be eaten. It is not the same as if they were to live in the wild. Not even close. It's even more unnatural that they breed these animals that are in zoos. Sure it's cool to be able to see different species of animals, but then again that's why there are wildlife photographers. Wild animals are not meant to be in captivity. Hence the term "wild"!

I'm not a perfect person. I use plastic, binge watch "Lost"on Netflix, and sometimes do virtually nothing because I'm lazy. However, I realize that we are a somewhat sick species and we have MANY flaws. There are some good things we do, but there are also a lot of bad things we do.

The world today is complex and complicated enough. The last thing we need to do is be oblivious of what's going on in the world. We don't need to turn a blind eye, and we need to question things more.  We need to look at ourselves, and our species, and reflect.

“Learn from Yesterday, live for Today, hope for Tomorrow.” ~ Albert Einstein


                       ~Joy





Copyright 2016-2017 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com