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Author: Nate

Nate is a blue-collar, no-frills, vegan cable guy trying to show the world
how health is not just relegated to those that can afford it, or for the
typical health nut. When not climbing ladders or trouble shooting cable networks he is spending time with his family and friends. You can find him here at vegancableguy.com all over social media or running in the woods of Cape Cod training for the next big challenge eating a crown of broccoli!

Moment of Enlightenment : Privilege

Today was a rather illuminating day. From the beginning, I woke with intention and hoped to carry it until this moment at the very least. If you are a follower on Instagram you maybe followed along the “My Story” feature on my profile.

The first part of that story was posting a book I’ve been reading lately, a companion book to the film “What The Health.” I asked everyone else what they were reading and received a diverse collection from their responses. We had books about the origin of Nestle in New York, to parables about financial advice, one about treating trauma using a variety of divergent treatment options and even someone reading some J. R. R. Tolkien. If anything, it shows I know some pretty interesting people.

All the while, I was working doing a variety of jobs. The first was a decent sized install. It took a bit of time, but then all I had was some remedial jobs after that. A good portion of my time was spent driving and this gave me the opportunity to think and to see everything around me.

Shore Road in Truro, leading into Provincetown, is one of my favorite roads on all of Cape Cod. Right before you hit Knowles Heights it always seems like the skyline expands and opens up, it feels like you can see forever. If you are local to the area you know what I mean. I took my lunch at one of the beaches. I started thinking how lucky I was to be there at that moment. I also, for the first time in a long time, didn’t take it for granted.

That luck wasn’t so much luck as it was (is) privilege.

While I’ve come to the realization just how privileged I am on other occasions, today it hit me; more than once and HARD.

I’m privileged because I was born white. My skin color makes all the difference in the world when it comes to privilege. F*ck no, it shouldn’t, I agree. The sad part is that it does, and yes it’s archaic. We should have moved past this whole race things years ago but we haven’t. I could list everything that is f*cked up with this but it’s there, right in front of my eyes, your eyes and the rest of the worlds eyes to see. Racism is alive and well in this country and I am ashamed of it. But I don’t know what to do about it.

I’m privileged because I was born to a family that cared for me, fed me, educated me and many more things. We may not have been the richest family but we truly never wanted for much more than we had. Sure we would have loved a pool in the backyard, but the pond down the street was good enough; my Dad always brought us there in the summer after work, even just for a quick dip to cool off. Sure we wanted a dessert every night but we got excited when maybe we got lucky enough to get an ice cream in the middle of the hot summer.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I was born a man. Why that should even be a privilege in this day and age is beyond me, but regardless, the world is certainly easier if you are male. We are still paid higher wages for doing the same jobs that woman do. We are hired more often than a woman for the same position, one that she may even be more qualified for. I do not have a better understanding of all this but I do support all of my friends who are willing to teach me in a kind and compassionate way, because I will kindly and compassionately fight for you in return.

There’s also the fact I was born a straight man, that ups the game a bit. Even though a “city in the sky” like Provincetown exists, hatred for my LGBTQ friends still exists. I remember back in school that my friend Tom came out to me. He was scared that he might lose me as a friend. I remember looking at him and saying, “dude, I already knew.” Sure, it meant the world to me that he would tell me but I also could tell it took courage for him to tell me. He was my closest friend in the world and he was scared to tell me who he was. That was in the late 80’s and yes, there is still fear like that today. It breaks my heart that we live in a world with so much cruelty that we judge a person because of who they love, regardless of gender or color or whatever. Love is love.

To top all that off, for whatever reason karma decided it was my good fortune to be born human. While human beings suffer, and I’ve outlined many of those reasons, to be born in the animal realm is torture; literally and figuratively. Sure if you are born a cat or a dog your life might be a bit better than a mama pig who spends her life in a gestation crate, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Dogs and cats are beaten. They are dropped off in the middle of nowhere to die by “caring” families and all sorts of other sh*t. To be born an animal in this day and age is almost a curse. That’s part of the reason I stay a vegan and the main reason I can never go back to not being vegan. Could I do more to bring attention to this, sure; I’m working on that too!

I sat on that beach wondering why I was given the fortune of this life and the convenience of all that privilege.

Today felt like a starting point. A real moment of clarity.

In that moment it lead me to wonder just what am I going to do with this privilege. How will I make something positive come out of it?

I’m not 100% but I am working on it and I’m not going to just co-exist with my privilege; I’m going to use it to benefit as many sentient beings as I can.

I ended my day on another section of Shore Road from the dock picture at the top. I watched the sun set and was filled with purpose.

Review: Running For Good

Over the past few years there have been some amazing films following runners doing all sorts of absurd yet inspiring things. You can watch Karl Meltzer break the AT speed record in “Made To Be Broken.” There’s “Finding Traction” which follows Nikki Kimball as she tries to break Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail record. One of the craziest one’s I’ve seen is “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young” and if you know anything about the race you know the film will be just as unpredictable. It’s easy to find inspirational stories if you are looking.

There’s one film that kind of sneaks up on you and is as unassuming as the runner herself. What I mean by that is Fiona Oakes, the focus of “Running For Good.” She  is one of the most modest people to build a story around. But her unpretentious nature is what makes her so fascinating. The premise of this story is intriguing as we follow Fiona on one of her biggest challenges to date, to run the Marathon Des Sables. The MDS is a multistage, 250km race based in the Sahara Desert. Ya, its hardcore! But then, so is Fiona in her own plainspoken way.

In Fiona’s own words. she is not a runner. She runs for the animals. In order to understand that, let’s peek at what that means. Fiona is owner and operator of Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to over 400 animals ranging from cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, peacocks, turkeys, horses… You get the idea, there are lots of animals. She cares about animals and it drives everything she does. While running the MDS she compares the heat and stress that “food” animals have to deal when being transported in trucks to some of what she is going through and uses their suffering as fuel to push past her own.

Her approach when it comes to her running success is humbling to the end. She holds multiple world records, course records at a plethora of marathons and is as elite as they come. On a whim she ran a marathon at the North Pole and won it. She is that amazing but you would never know it from her mousey character. She doesn’t try to win these races for herself, she is doing it to spread the message of veganism.  In an interview for Viva La Vegan she says, “Once, when I won a Marathon in a massive course record, the Mayoress who was presenting the prizes told me her daughter had wanted to go vegetarian but she was against it as she was not convinced it would be ideal for a young girl who was still growing. Seeing what I had just done on a vegan diet had convinced her that it was okay for her daughter, which was the biggest prize I could ever want!”

“Running For Good” is also a visual masterpiece. If you’ve seen “What The Health” or “Cowspiracy” than you know the work of Keegan Kuhn can be visually stunning. This film is quite different from those in that he doesn’t rely so much on graphics and info-graphics to tell the story, Fiona’s story is as authentically pure as it gets. The film captures the beauty of her life at home and the visually stunning locations in which she runs. The footage of the MDS alone is beautiful.

If you are looking to be inspired this film will leave you awe-struck for quite a time after viewing. It’s certainly lit a fire in my belly to do more. I am not the best advocate that I can be for the animals, I’m not a sign carrying protester. One of the biggest things I take away from this film, though, is that we all have some form of advocacy and activism we can stand behind and do well. Fiona Oakes is a force for the animals when she is out on the course, whatever location that may be. This film shows the world you can be a compassionate and caring person and stand up for animals in any way possible.

For more info on the film go to https://runningforgoodfilm.com/

For more info on Fiona and Tower Hill Stables go to http://www.towerhillstables.com/

* poster image from Running For Good website, animal photos from the Tower Hill Stables Facebook page.

Book Review: Back To The Cutting Board

What separates a cookbook from a book just filled with recipes is passion. Passionate cooks feel what they are cooking, they value the full immersion of technique and usage of all the senses. Christina Pirello is a professional chef and Emmy Award winning host of Christina Cooks on PBS. Her passion for cooking is evident from the first page. “I come from a family of true food lovers. It seemed to me that every moment we celebrated, mourned, discussed or marked was centered around a feast,” she quips.

Similar to a fair share of cookbooks, Christina shares some of the core items she keep in her fridge and pantry. The only other thing she has in common with other cookbooks is yes, she shares her personal recipes. What makes “Back To The Cutting Board” different though is she shares some of her knife techniques. While most folks know these techniques, it helps to remind people of the terminology as well.

What I found really interesting is Christina’s take on food and how cooking grounds us with Nature. Finding myself getting more and more into a mindfulness based lifestyle again, I appreciate her take on yin and yang in relation to food. She speaks of the “Five Transformations Of Energy.” Christina brings a different approach to cooking in that she appreciates the innate qualities of food and the energies that they provide. With each recipe she highlights the energies provided by each meal.

It seems that most of the recipes inside are either Fall or Winter inspired, which is perfect as we are settling into Fall here on the East Coast and Winter is knocking. Last week I shared a recipe for her Chickpea Farro Soup which I am looking forward to making very soon. There is also a recipe for Ginger-Poached Pears. I absolutely love pears and this sounds amazing, and somewhat easy to make.

If you are looking for a cookbook that’s a step up from the basic recipe book, or maybe you are looking to refine your skill in the kitchen, I recommend “Back To The Cutting Board.” You can find more info about Christina at https://www.christinacooks.com or order the book at https://www.benbellabooks.com/shop/back-cutting-board/

Sweet Potato Pie

This is my first holiday by myself in a long time. Yes, I will see my kids later but the day is going to be spent doing nothing, which I guess is ok?! Is it weird that I’m watching Boondocks Saints on Thanksliving?

Anyway, I figured rather than sit around and mope, I figured I should try and create a new tradition. So I decided to make a pie. The other day I was at the grocery store and they had a sale on sweet potatoes. It was a huge bag but the deal was too good to pass up. They’ve been sitting for a couple days and I wanted to make sure they got used before going bad. So I hopped on Google and starting searching for a recipe.

I found one I liked but it was for Pumpkin Pie. I made a couple changes. Being that I was going to bring this to a dessert get together, I wanted to sweeten it up a bit. I also thought some minor tweaks would fit better with a sweet potato pie.

Here’s how it went down and what you will need.

Ingredients

I used a frozen crust, there are vegan options that are easy to find.

3 cups roasted sweet potatoes
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup plain soy milk
4 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons molasses
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon agar powder

Preheat over to 350°

I used about 5-6 decent sized sweet potatoes. After peeling them, cut them up into chunks and place on a strip of aluminum foil long enough to fold back over the potatoes, sprinkle some oil on so they don’t stick, dust with cinnamon and a little bit of ginger then roast at 350° for 50-60 minutes.

Once they are soft enough add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Add to pie shell and cook for 60 minutes at 350°.

Veganism: The Cure For E. Coli and More Preventable Illnesses

image from Dallas Star

Where to begin?!

I guess let’s just get into it.

The romaine recall was caused by one thing; animal agriculture. Shocker right?

If you don’t believe me then understand where E. coli comes from. Per the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/etec.html) “Infection occurs when a person eats food, or drinks water or ice contaminated with ETEC bacteria. Human or animal wastes (e.g., feces) are the ultimate source of ETEC contamination.”

There’s also this from the Mayo Clinic:

“The most common way to acquire an E. coli infection is by eating contaminated food, such as:

  • Ground beef. When cattle are slaughtered and processed, E. coli bacteria in their intestines can get on the meat. Ground beef combines meat from many different animals, increasing the risk of contamination.
  • Unpasteurized milk. E. coli bacteria on a cow’s udder or on milking equipment can get into raw milk.
  • Fresh produce. Runoff from cattle farms can contaminate fields where fresh produce is grown. Certain vegetables, such as spinach and lettuce, are particularly vulnerable to this type of contamination.”

Romaine lettuce gets contaminated by animal feces when sewage lakes seep into the land or into rivers that feed farms. Those literal pools (lakes) of piss and shit are also sprayed on crops “to help them grow.” Don’t believe those lakes exist? How about you go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayGJ1YSfDXs and see for yourself! If that’s a little to slanted for you to the left, then how about this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z9a2dvsEWQ by the crazies over at InfoWars (this is the only time I will EVER share anything from those lunatics).

Smithfield, one of the largest pig farming companies on Earth, was recently sued and had to pay out millions and millions of dollars to people who were down wind of these farms. All that sprayed shit caused all sorts of health issues for those people and they actually beat Smithfield in court. That doesn’t fix the asthma, cancer and other issues they have but it sent a message.

People are not going to be complacent anymore.

Don’t be fooled into thinking eating meat is safe, it’s what caused this!

Tomorrow is the day when Americans eat an exorbitant amount of turkey. This year though there is also a recall on those as well. See there’s been a salmonella outbreak with them and a bunch of other products. Similar to E. Coli, Salmonella is an illness caused by, you guess it, animals and animal agriculture. You can see more info at https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/general/prevention.html

Once animal agriculture is a thing of the past so will these illnesses be. This is not a partisan issue. It’s not political at all, EXCEPT for the fact that these big corporations continue to pay off weak minded politicians. When we expose those people though, we just vote them out. That day is coming and they know it.

The easiest way to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe is to go vegan. If I can help, just ask!

Book Review: A Plea For The Animals

I’ve harped on the fact the most Buddhists still eat the flesh of other sentient beings. I’ve spoken ad nauseam of how hypocritical it is to practice compassion and kindness when animals are killed to be eaten. One of the things I’ve pointed out that burns my a** most is that a fair share of Buddhists (even teachers such as HHDL) make excuses to kill sentient beings as long as the person eating the animal didn’t kill the animal directly. Turning a blind eye somehow makes it alright I guess…

So, it was refreshing to have the opportunity to read and comment on “A Plea For The Animals” by Matthieu Ricard. Matthieu is an author but more so, a Buddhist monk in the Tibetan tradition. He is a leading voice for animals in the Buddhist realm and this book not only outlines those reasons but should be the catalyst for most (If not all) of the community to go vegan.

One of my favorite chapters of the book is the chapter titled, “Sorry Excuses.” We’ve all heard the same excuses a hundred times. Whether it’s “top of the food chain” or “we need it for our health” the fact of the matter is, they are just sad reasons to hold on to an outdated mindset. Animals are not here for us. Your ancestors were in the past, we are living in the present and at this moment in time, there is no reason to eat animals. We have grocery stores, farm stand, open air farm markets, etc.

One excuse that is really belligerent is the excuse “there are so many much more serious problems that humanity has to deal with.” Such as what? Hunger in third world countries? Climate change? The spread of disease such as swine or avian flu? You’re right, these have nothing to do with going vegan and stopping the animals as products machine from rolling on. ::eyeroll::

Seriously?! Every single one of those things could be remedied if we all stopped commodifying animals and went vegan.

Matthieu also goes into animal experimentation, illegal trade of wildlife (and their body parts), zoos and other relevant topics. “A Plea For The Animals” should be one of the most important books in the AR movement, It should also be required reading for anyone who is new to Buddhist thought so they could understand from the jump that animals are not for eating, wearing or killing. The fact that Matthieu’s resume is as solid as they come should lend some credence to the words he writes in his book.

If you have not read it, it’s time. If you are looking for a compassionate book for a friend or family member that is not as confrontational as others, this is the one. “A Plea For The Animals” is full of kindness, compassion and legit reason. I will continue to read and re-read this book as I feel it has given me a perspective that is positive and can be helpful when debating the ethics and reasons to go vegan.

World Vegan Day 2018

I’m a little late to the party here but today is World Vegan Day and I just wanted to put out some words really quick…
 
I always thought going vegan was tough, that I would miss things and that it was going to be super expensive. I could not have been more wrong.
 
So for real, is it tough?
It took some adjustments at first, to be perfectly honest. But with all the substitutes out there it became easier and easier by the day. Going out for dinner was hard at first because I had to ask the waiter to remove this or remove that. Most places now have vegan options though, you just have to speak up. I was always coy about it. Now, not so much. I never wanted to use the vegan word because I felt like I was immediately being judged; now I could care less about that judgement, I’m comfortable with who I am and the choices I make. I am comfortable knowing that I choose not to harm other sentient beings in order to satisfy my stomach.
 
Since going vegan (almost 5 years ago) I don’t miss anything because what ever you can eat, I can eat vegan. Think about it, you season your food right? I use the same seasonings. You don’t eat meat raw do you? Of course you don’t, you season it and cook it. Vegans do the same thing with our food. My food tastes the same and because it’s not animal flesh, I don’t intake all the cholesterol and other harmful byproducts. Oh and vegan ice cream is the bomb by the way; yes we have ice cream!
 
It can be expensive but it can also be cheap. Any type of food can be expensive, I mean for crying out loud foie gras (which is really f*cking nasty by the way) is expensive and so is your filet mignon, so don’t say being a vegan is. Not only can veganism be cheap, especially if you eat beans, fruits, veggies, tofu, rices and grains. Unlike foie gras and filet, you don’t have to force feed a duck or slit a cows throat to eat some tasty AF rice and beans. No one get’s hurt and your taste buds will be just as happy with some seitan wings rather than the wing of someone who didn’t want their wing to be removed.
Your food choices affect more than just you. Today I ask that you take a step toward veganism to not only save your health and to save the environment but to save the lives of all the sentient beings that would rather live than to be killed and get served on your plate. If I can help you can always reach out to me, I’m happy to answer questions and help you transition to a more compassionate lifestyle.
Please, go vegan!

Chickpea Farro Soup

I am happy to share this recipe from the book “Back To The Cutting Board” by Christina Pirelli.

With a plethora of Autumn and Holiday inspired dishes, the recipes are simple and ambitious. I hope you enjoy and let me know if you make it!

Chickpea Farro Soup 

Makes 3 to 4 servings

This could easily be my favorite soup in the world and I love most soups. But my love of farro has taken my soup making to new heights. This favorite of Juliet’s (yes, that Juliet . . . ) is rich in fiber and magnesium and high in protein. Add protein-packed chickpeas and you have the perfect marriage of ingredients.

1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 stalk celery, diced

1 medium carrot, diced

4 to 5 fingerling potatoes, unpeeled and diced

1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed well and soaked for 1 hour with 1 tablespoon baking soda

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup farro, rinsed well

4 to 5 cups spring or filtered water

Sea salt

3 to 4 sprigs fresh basil, finely minced, for serving

Set a soup pot over medium heat with the olive oil, onion, and garlic. When the onion begins to sizzle, add the crushed red pepper flakes to your taste and sauté until the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the celery, carrot, and potatoes and sauté for 1 minute.

Drain the soaked chickpeas and rinse them well. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, and farro to the pot and stir to combine. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the chickpeas are soft, about 1 hour. Season to your taste with salt and simmer for 5 minutes more. Ladle into bowls and serve hot, garnished with fresh basil.

Life and Its Eternal Transience

“If you suffer, it is not because things are impermanent. It is because you believe things are permanent.”

I’ve been staring at the line, from the venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, for over an hour and a half. Between glancing at the screen constantly, catching random scenes of “It” (the movie by Stephen King) all the while going back and forth deleting / restarting this post numerous times thinking I’m ready to proceed. “It” was meant as a mind-freeing, or mind-numbing distraction so I could write this but, well; that hasn’t worked out too well.

The unenviable truth is that this past few weeks, better yet months, has seen suffering rise to a level I thought I had once absolved in my life. Things had gone really well for a while. Home life had been great. We bought a house. I keep progressing at my job and am privileged to earn as much, or as little, as I want to as I work for a fantastic company. We had recently adopted a couple new dog friends. Everyone seemed to be happy. With all of that, I finally felt like everything I had been working so hard for was finally starting to come to fruition.

One day I left for work and our cat Agatha was laying in her usual place, behind the mailbox in the front garden. I took a pic of her since the light was hitting her just right and she looked full of life. That was the last time I saw her. Later that day we couldn’t find her. She wouldn’t come in at night like she usually does. Things didn’t feel right and I knew she wasn’t coming home.

She never did.

Last night our other cat, Itsy, was meowing at the front door to come in. I let her in and instantly I could see she was limping. She was a lot more vocal than usual as well. I picked her up and she didn’t struggle, which was unusual because she hates being picked up. Her front right paw felt a little cold so I thought maybe she was sleeping under a bush and the paw had fallen asleep. I gave her about another 10-15 minutes to not only warm up, but hopefully get the circulation going back to the foot.

That never happened.

I called Leah at work and asked her to come home so I could bring Itsy to the all night emergency vet clinic. When she got home, my son Alex and I took Itsy to get help. The cold paw was indicative of something tragic, and we were about to find out it was not something we would want to hear; at all. It was a blood clot brought on by advanced stages of heart disease. This blew my mind as Itsy was an extremely healthy cat. Minus check-ups, she never had to see a vet for anything and never presented any signs of distress. This blood clot was in her lower leg, per the vet, the next one (which would come soon) may not be as forgiving.

The next clot could present anywhere. It could show up in another leg. Her lungs. Maybe it’d show up in an eye or even her brain and cause seizures. That was when we were given the bad news that the vet recommended euthanasia. Leah and Colin came down to say their goodbyes and then they went home, Alex also went with them.

I had been given a box with Itsy’s lifeless body inside and a bill to pay for the visit including the diagnosis, some pain medication to make her feel better until a decision could be made, then the cost of the euthanasia. All the “we are so sorry” comments were helpful and appreciated from the staff, but it felt so cold and blasé.

Early this morning, I buried the box in one of her favorite spots. She loved to soak up the sun in one of the gardens. I hope she can still feel the warm sun.

There is so much more to say, there’s so much more to share. That will have to wait. For now, I reluctantly internalize this suffering and cope with the impermanence of it all.

Life is not static, it changes and I get that.

THAT I can deal with.

…more to come… some day

 

Apple Crisp

Fall is upon us and with that comes some of my favorite flavors. I love pumpkin as much as the next guy or gal, but it doesn’t define fall for me; apple does. Apple pie, cinnamon rolls with chopped apples, breads, and cupcakes are good and all but I prefer apple crisp. The soft and warm apples are amazing with the crispy, caramelized oats and brown sugar. *drool*

Over the years, Leah has made it based on an old family recipe. Swapping out the butter for Earth Balance made this as vegan as it’s gonna get. It’s not healthy, there is no mistake that this is a dessert but it is oh so good. Here’s what you need.

INGREDIENTS
6 medium/ large apples (Peeled and sliced)
3/4 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup vegan butter

Preheat oven to 350°

Mix all ingredients except the apples.

Once everything has mixed evenly spread the apples in a 9×9 baking dish and top with the blended mixture.

Cook for 45-60 minutes depending on how done you want it to be. The full hour will be nice and crunchy, just check at 45 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get burnt.

This goes great with a little soy vanilla ice cream, just saying….