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Archive for March, 2012

The cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Encinitas, Calif.

I just returned from a beautiful little trip to Southerner Southern California! Not too far away from LA (approximately 2.5 hours drive), San Diego and the surrounding ocean-side cities are super cute! This was my second time in the area, but my first time partaking in its awesome vegan cuisine and exquisite nature.

Some highlights:

Evolution Vegan, a drive-through all-vegan restaurant in San Diego, Calif. also packages and sells some of their products in grocery stores throughout California. Their restaurant features raw wraps, gluten-free homemade veggie burgers, raw vegan soft serve, juice and soup specials. Highly recommended if you’re in the area–especially if you’re on the go and need something quick! Note: we did not drive-thru when we dined at Evo, so if you have and would like to share about the experience, please do!

Vegan drive-thru! Evolution Cafe in San Diego, Calif.

Another gastronomic highlight was Peace Pies raw vegan restaurant in Encinitas, Calif. I absolutely loved the decor, outdoor seating, and very reasonably-priced organic raw vegan food!

Peace Pies Cafe--Raw vegan food in Encinitas, Calif. That's Courtney walking in!

Raw vegan sauerkraut, kelp noodle and kale salad from Peace Pies.

Green Juice From The Lotus Cafe in Encinitas, Calif.

That's me, enthusiastically drinking green juice!

It was also very lovely to visit the beautiful SRF gardens in Encinitas, Calif. and spend time by the beach.

The Self-Realization Fellowship gardens overlooking the ocean in Encinitas, Calif. Photo courtesy of Jeff Dowler.

After spending a few days in the area, I stayed for five nights at Deer Park Buddhist Monastery in Escondido, Calif. Deer Park, founded by Vietnamese monk Thich Naht Hanh, is 100% vegan, organic, and sustainable monastery that is solar-powered! It is also absolutely gorgeous:

Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, Calif. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.

At Deer Park, I enjoyed going inwards to enjoy healing silence and nature. Meals included simple Vietnamese vegan dishes like steamed veggies, greens, rice, noodles, and plenty of pho. Breakfast was oatmeal, fruit and almond butter, which is easy to make in bulk and hearty. It was quite nice to enjoy it a few hours after waking up for pre-dawn morning meditations!

Thanks for reading! I am now back in LA, enjoying being back in the city and taking with me the peace and ease of the trip.

xo

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I became vegetarian at age 12, right after my family spent the summer in the south of France. That trip, I remember my family ate lots of dead animals that were often served in forms that did not try to hide what these animals had looked like while alive: fish and lobsters were served with their eyes bulging out of their poor steamed heads, cooked frogs were served in frog shape, etc. In the United States (and elsewhere) our food culture tends to disassociate meat consumed from its living animal origin. Carol J. Adams, one of my personal heroines and author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, points out in SPOM that our culture has specific language that renders dead animals “absent referents,” and thus keeps us from acknowledging the life and creature who suffered before reaching the dinner table. This defense mechanism keeps people from feeling what I felt in France–uncomfortable with eating animals after realizing the connection between what was on my plate and the cruelty it endured to arrive there.

After one particularly creature-filled meal eaten while traveling in the Loire Valley, my brother took me aside and told me why he thought I should become a vegetarian like him. My brother became vegetarian at age 11. When I was 12, he helped me realize that in order to live in accordance with my beliefs, I needed to be vegetarian (Note: later, I realized that for the reasons I became vegetarian, it was hypocritical for me not to be vegan. I wrote a post about this, if you want to read it here.) My brother became vegan around the same time I did, and now our parents largely eat vegan, too. He and I have both been vegan for more than six years, and our parents eat almost 100% vegan when we, the spawn, are visiting them, which I think is just about the most respectful, kind thing a family can do to support their vegan offspring (and animals, and the planet!) My mom owns stacks of vegan cookbooks, including Courtney Pool’s Spirulina Recipes Ebook, which she just cooked from the other day!

This weekend, my brother hosted an engagement party dinner for two of his lovely women friends who just proposed to each other a little over a week ago. Eight of us vegans and vegetarians enjoyed an entirely vegan, delicious home-cooked meal. I met a vegan fashion blogger who was as worldly and interesting as she was kind, and shared great conversation and laughs with some old friends. While our gay friends can’t yet get married in California at the time, they have been together for more than three years and are committed to being engaged in the hopes that one day the government will honor their union and right to equality. In the meantime, they will be honored by the friends and family who love them.

A friend serves the home-cooked plated vegan dinners prepared by my brother.

It felt fitting, this vegan lesbian engagement party. On this blog, I attempt to illuminate some of the connections between human- and non-human animal rights and welfare, and so it made perfect sense that a night of celebrating our hope for equality for our friends naturally involved compassionate cuisine. As I sipped kombucha out of a champagne flute, and later ate the delicious braised kale-beet salad, white bean mash, pan-seared citrus marinated tofu strips and Kind Kreme vegan ice cream that my brother so lovingly prepared for us, I felt deep gratitude for the family and friends and compassion this meal represented.

Whether our vegan family is blood-related or otherwise, the connections we create and sustain with those around us have the potential to elevate our activism, and inspire us to live truthfully and earnestly. I am so proud of my extended vegan family. Whether individuals are totally vegan or not, it helps animals and the environment to seriously reduce animal product consumption.  I am totally vegan (Note: I am 100% vegan to the best of my ability–I recognize that by driving cars I support animal products in the tires, etc. but I choose to not use animal products in anything I wear, consume, use or own to the best of my ability), but I also honor those in my life who are not fully vegan but support the vegan cause through eating mostly vegan and supporting the vegans in their lives.

May we all be blessed to be surrounded by folks who really understand and appreciate our mission and purpose to spread compassion for human- and non-human animals! I would love to hear about your family, vegan, blood-related or not, or whatever group supports you on your path in the comments.

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I’ve noticed a trend of various women figures (some more well-known than others) using the term “girl crush” to describe women who they claim to feel deep appreciation for, ostensibly on (mostly) non-sexual/romantic levels.

I’m pretty sure that the women who use this expression aim to present as heterosexual. While they may comment on the physical qualities of their said crush, thus playing into the double-standard that a straight woman can find another woman sexy and not be labeled lesbian or even bisexual, while a straight man who does this is usually considered gay (even with the growth of metero-sexual “bromance” culture), this usually isn’t the case. While physical appreciation sometimes is suggested, It’s much more likely to hear women comment on another woman’s humor, activism or spiritual focus, or life mission as the reason for their “girl crush”.

I’m not out to stop heterosexual-labeled women from expressing desire and admiration for other women, romantic or otherwise. What I do find troubling, however, is that the term “girl crush,” often used as an all-encompassing phrase to describe appreciation of other women in a (mostly) non-sexual/romantic context, isn’t available to those who aren’t heterosexual women.

As individuals who appreciate others on a spiritual path/ activism path/whatever path we consider ourselves on, it seems we are in need of better language to describe this deep appreciation. “Girl crush” has emerged in our language as a stand-in that, until now, seems only available to straight women.

It is challenging to talk about the profound draw we have for people of all genders and sexual orientations. But we deserve better than the limited phrase “girl crush” to describe this something-other soul connection. I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions for how to describe the deep, intense appreciation that is (not exclusively) romantic between two people, regardless of gender.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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