Home » Archives for Nate

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!

So many vegan things on ole Cape Cod!!

It is AMAZING how well things are going right now. I feel like I want to explode with anticipation but I’m really trying to rein it all in; it’s so hard though! I can say that 2019 is shaping up to be a good year so far and we are just over two weeks in!!

I can hint at a few things, just can’t make them super official; call em teasers!

For one, I’ve been working with a company that is promoting the film “Eating Animals” and we will be showing it at the Cape Cinema in Dennis. I am super pumped about this but am a bit nervous. In order to get this all set I have to get “x” amount of butts in seats to break even. I am hoping for more than that though as I want to raise money for Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary as well, so anything past “x” is vegan gravy! The film is a great film, based on the book sharing the same name, it basically talks about the end of factory farming. It’s a great conversation starter and some friends and I are building a nice little vegan platform here on Cape Cod that included a Q&A after the film.

With that…

I changed the name of the group I started. It’s no longer called “Cape Cod Vegan Potlucks” but instead is called “Cape Cod Vegan Events” as I hope to share all of the things that go on here on Cape Cod as far as the burgeoning vegan community goes. There’s all sorts of stuff going on. We’ve got groups like Green Nosh putting on gatherings. There’s Lori and her husband Charlie holding monthly Veg Supper Clubs. Kara and pals have pulled together and created Cape Cod Animal Save.  We’ve got Barb putting on vegan potlucks and we have a growing number of vegan makers such as Kaya aka Cape Cod Gypsea! There is so much going on here on Cape Cod!! It made sense to change the name of that group to help promote everything, we are all one community and it behooves us all to share events and cross-post; so that’s what is going on.

As far as the potlucks that I was putting on, yes I will be putting them on again and soon I hope. I’m really working on a consistent venue though and think I’ve got a decent one, just need to lock down the details. As I get more on this I will share and hope to see you guys back at a potluck again!

There’s something in the works (hopefully) for Spring/ Summer that may resemble a Veg Fest/ Vegan Makers Market. This is the beginning but with some work we can make this a reality. A very driven young vegan, Ariana, is driving this project and it’ll be great to see it happen!

Still more news? Heck yes there’s more! While I am chipping away at the first Vegan Cable Guy podcast, there may be some “radio broadcast” news coming soon. I’ve been asked to be part of a new project that will go out over local Cape Cod radio and I can’t wait to share more. There will be a few of us and we will be chatting about local things going on, sharing stories with listeners, maybe talking recipes and even some activism sprinkled in. It’s going to be amazing; this was the BIG teaser!!

I feel like there’s something missing but WOW I can’t believe the progress this amazing community is seeing and I’m psyched to be a small part of it!!

 

Activism: Writing Letters

One thing that I’m not super out there with is activism. Most of mine is done online. Right here, right now, is where most of it happens. Either with this blog or on my social media pages. As a busy father who works 50+ hours a week, it fits my lifestyle and still allows me to share my beliefs.

Would I like to do more? Absolutely! That’s where today’s post is going.

I was reminded by my friends at Cape Cod Animal Save this morning to write a letter to one of our representatives, State Senator Julian Cyr. He represents the district that Cape Cod is a part of. They shared their letter on Facebook and so I started working on mine and sent it off. I haven’t received a response as of yet and, to be honest, that was only minutes ago at this point. But I wanted to share the fact that although we think we are unable to make more time for activism, sometimes it only takes a couple of minutes to fire off a letter regarding something you feel passionate about.

Below is the letter I whipped up and sent to Senator Cyr.

“Good morning Sir!

I wanted to thank you and your office for all the assistance you’ve given my family in the past. A couple of years ago a family member was having issues with unemployment and your office stepped up for her and we had a resolution within hours. That was amazing and so appreciated as it helped our family.

Now, I come to you about something a bit different.

The past few years we’ve seen a dramatic shift regarding ethics and morality here on Cape Cod. It’s become a sport to kill as many coyotes as possible. There is a contest put on by the Powderhorn in Hyannis that has prizes for the heaviest dead coyote, the most cumulative weight for the dead bodies of coyotes and so on. I have no issue with guns, this is far from a gun issue. Our forefathers believed that every citizen should be allowed to keep and bear arms for the protection of their family and community, I get it. While I do not own a gun, I know many people that do and I will defend their freedom to keep them.

That said, this contest is barbaric and puts us back many centuries as a species. To see the glee in the eyes of the shooters as they display their “kill” is scary at the very least. We are teaching children that killing is ok. Did you know who killed animals when they were a small child? Jeffrey Dahmer! Desensitizing children to killing when they are young teaches them one thing, murder in any form is ok and they don’t have to feel bad about it; they can even smile in pictures with their “trophy.” You know who also kept trophies? Jeffrey Dahmer! You see where I’m going there, right?

I live in an area where my backyard abuts hunting land. I see wild deer in my backyard and I even see the occasional coyote, at least the one’s that have escaped the scope. I also hear shots ringing out that are very close to my home. You’d think I would be the first person advocating to remove coyotes as I’ve lost pet cat’s in the past because of them. But I cannot stop nature, nor can we humans try to do the same. It’s on me to make sure my animals were taken care of and I let them out, that’s on ME, not the instinct of a wild animal.

Please consider legislation that would ban killing contests here on Cape Cod. 

It’s the right thing to do for us, our children, for Cape Cod and for the animals we share this beautiful land with.

ps. I’ve attached some photos of some beautiful creatures that were taken to soon. I’m wondering, many of these killed were females, if they were pregnant with babies isn’t that illegal? Please enlighten me.”

I’m not telling anyone what to do. I’m not forcing you to write a letter or do any sort of activism at all. This is something that I’m finding fits the lifestyle that I lead. It’s just one other little thing I can do to share my beliefs that animals are sentient beings that deserve life as much as the next sentient being.

Activism comes in many forms, choose what works for you.

Speaking of which; what type of activism do you do?

Quick Bites #8: No Whey! Chocolates

It’s been nearly 6 months (or more) since I’ve done the last one of these, wow I’ve been slacking! One of my 2019 resolutions is the hope that I write more here so let’s hope that it keeps up!

Being newly single, I wanted to have a complete and absolutely vegan holiday this Christmas and finding candy was a chore and a half. Nearly everything has some sort of animal byproduct in it whether that’s egg, milk, gelatin or whatever other nastiness these companies can think of to use as fillers.

I have heard people talk about a company called No Whey! that makes vegan chocolate and treats so I figured I’d give them a day in court. As you see over to the right, I ordered two bags of chocolate figurines, some peppermint no no’s a chocolate lollipops.

To be honest, I was a bit put off by the cost (nearly $30 for the lot before shipping) but figured they had to be worth the money. The fact alone that no animals were used to make these treats seemed to tamp down any feelings of overpaying. When I got them, again, I was a bit put off as the packets seemed a bit small and there was as many individually wrapped figurines as you would normally get from the cheapo candy brands. The packets of no no’s were certainly single serve and sprinkling only two packets of them in some stockings was an epic failure.

I will know better next time though, and there will be a next time. I found that every dime I spent on these did hold merit and value. Sure you can buy the usual Xmas santas at the store for the kids but what is in those? No Whey! chocolates (the individual wrapped santas) are made from Vegan Cane Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Unsweetened Chocolate, Rice Syrup Powder, Sunflower Lecithin.

While this may seem like I am unhappy with the product that is not the message I am trying to convey. Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is though and if you want to talk the talk you do what you can to stick to it. I will continue to order from these guys for every holiday coming up, the fact that they are vegan makes them a winner in my book!

I really enjoyed the flavor of the chocolates, the no no’s were really tasty and had an awesome crunch to them. It’s sad that I was just at the beginning of a new nutrition plan and couldn’t enjoy them as much as I wanted to. My kids devoured them within a few days though and that speaks volumes when it comes to enjoyment; they don’t eat things they do not like and these were gone!

If you are looking for some really yummy and ethically made, No Whey! is the way!

Website: http://www.nowheychocolate.com

2019: Disciplined Intention

So here we are; January 1st, 2019!

As you may or may not have read in my near chronological breakdown of 2018, it was a year that had a lot of ups and downs. Thankfully, it is in the past at this point. This very moment is filled with hope and the expectation that 2019 is going to be filled with a variety of prodigious goals and achievements. One in particular is filled with so much planning that I’m hoping the details don’t overwhelm the process but, alas, it (and the rest of the list) will be accomplished. The easiest way for me to explain to you some of those if to create a small list and then pick them apart.

Let’s go from smallest goal (most attainable) to the largest (most important).

1. Drink more water
2. Meditate daily
3. Plan more vegan potlucks
4. Start podcasting 
5. Write on this blog more
6. Be more extroverted and less introverted
7. Run more w/ Strong Hearts Vegan Power
8. Visit friends out of state
9. Run across Cape Cod
10. Spend more time with my kids

Drink more water is pretty self explanatory. I’m really good about doing it when I have races coming up, or when I’m working in the summer. That said, hydration is a year round thing and I really need to do better to drink more. I’m sure these headaches would subside and skin dryness would dissipate. How do you make sure you get enough water every day?

Similar to water, meditating every day doesn’t need much explaining. I have found that when I meditate more, my stress level is lower and my tolerance for bullsh*t is higher. This is going to be hard to keep a regimen but I will make time the best I can.

During 2018 I was able to put on a couple of vegan potlucks and they were pretty successful in bringing a new group of folks together here on Cape Cod and creating a small community. Toward the end of 2018 it sputtered a bit as I had some issues finding a place to host the Autumn event and am having issues presently doing the Winter one. I have a line out to someone, though, and feel like some big news will be coming soon on this. I would prefer to have just one place that I can book 4 solid dates per year at and be done. It’s easier on attendees, it’s easier on me and we all get yo eat yummy vegan food; YAY!!

Start podcasting? What? This one may be a bit trickier. First, I need my own laptop to do this. I only have one from work right now and can’t install new software on it, meaning no recording/ editing software. I have the knowledge to edit, I just need the equipment. Oh and I have to not hate hearing the sound of my voice being played back and maybe gain a bit more confidence in sharing stories about my life or whatever topic I’m waxing poetic about. More to come on this but I could maybe use some advice. My pal Michael Harren has told me he’d help, maybe it’s time to talk more with him.

I would love to write on the blog more, it’s been a goal the past year or two. I feel though that a lot of the topics I would cover are already covered somewhere else. Does the vegan blogosphere really need someone else saying the same stuff? Does my voice really matter that much? I guess i have to figure out what is most important to me and just start there. More to come here as well.

Being more extroverted versus being introverted; this is much easier said then done. Over the past few years I got in this mindset of complacency and comfort. My home felt like the only place I wanted to be. Yes I went out to some social things like running a Ragnar with my friends in Strong Hearts Vegan Power or to a potluck, but because of my social awkwardness, when the event was over I was always relieved to be back on my couch in my home. This all stems from the fact I am not super confident in myself. Yes, I can accomplish anything I put my mind too, I get it. But that social awkwardness thing is always in the back of my head whether you are seeing it when we are face to face or not; it’s there and it’s alarming at times. For instance, right now the thought of even entertaining the idea of asking someone to dinner is frightening. After not having dated in so long how does one even start over? I can’t stay in my concrete floored condo forever though and I have to get out. So that’s what I plan to do. When the time comes, here’s hoping she likes vegan pizza!

Running more with SHVP is going to be difficult as I will now have to arrange care for the boys when I’m away but this is not at all out of the question. For one, I have already signed up to run the Vegan Power 50k Relay with a couple SHVP friends. Since this event is held at Pittsfield State Forest I’m gonna turn it into a camping weekend with the boys and while I’m running my 5 mile loops, they will be at one of the aid stations. I mentioned this to them and they are excited to see how the process works, and to be camping away for the weekend. I guess I’ve already started adapting when it comes to things like this but I will have to be crafty a Ragnar is thrown in there. Masters division? Ya we can crush it!!

My boy Jay and other upstate New York friends are always talking about getting together, so I need to make this happen. I’ve never been to Ithaca so to see the gorges and other cool stuff would be awesome. Again, gotta just make the effort here which I hope to soon. Oh and a stop into Strong Hearts Cafe would be pretty f*cking amazing too!

What is run across Cape Cod you ask? Well it’s been a tab up above for a while now and I think I’m ready to really focus on it. This past month I’ve been on a strength training regimen and a new nutrition plan. After a full 90 day cycle I start running again and in the fall of this year I will run from one of the Cape Cod bridges to the tip of Provincetown. Why? Well because I try to set one very crazy goal each year and this year this seemed like the craziest. Plus, it’s officially a 100k distance (it’s over 62 miles) so it’d be nice to check that distance off the bucket list. More to come on that as I rebuild that site and possibly look for some sponsors who want to help and raise funds for my favorite animal sanctuary,

Lastly and most importantly, spending more valuable time with my kids. I see a lot of camping going on this spring/ summer. I see lots of hands on stuff like board games and getting away from screens. There are tons of trails here on Cape that we haven’t explored yet. This is gonna be an awesome year for the boys and I. I can’t wait to get started.

Throughout 2019 I will provide updates as I check off items from this list, but I think I got some lofty goals. Today is the first day of the rest of my life and I’m going for it!!!

2018: A Dream Gone Awry

(ed note: This post is going to be a bit long so settle in if you are interested in a near chronological telling of my 2018.)

Where to start.

2018 started out like any other year.

It just was. There was nothing extraordinary about the beginning of it.

December 31, 2017 became January 1, 2018 and on time went. Maybe that was part of the problem. There was nothing special about the beginning of 2018, and it seemed the continuance of the mundane would roll on unimpeded.

Things did change though and mid way through, we bought a house! It was so exciting. This was something we had always wished we could do. Living on Cape Cod it always seemed so far away but in June of 2018 we finally became home owners. The year changed from there as our responsibilities changed, but our dream of home ownership had come to fruition.

On a personal note, I hit a running stumble in June as I took my first DNF in a long time. I hadn’t taken one since the Winter Death Race in 2015. I had run the Vegan Power 25k before and while the course was treacherous, it was manageable and I trained to finish. I hit the starting line ready to go and ran the first couple laps with friend and teammate Jess Ryle. I think it was lap 2 (or 3) that I hit a root and twisted my right knee. After lap 3 or 4 I decided to pull myself out of the race, there was no way possible I was limping through the last couple laps. I was demoralized and ashamed. I was so prepared for that race and while there was no way I was winning I knew I had it in me to finish. Never the less, I did not.

After the race our boys reminded us of something we had been telling them for a while and that is when we finally bought a house we would adopt a dog. July 2018 we adopted two, Buster and Master. They are two handsome Great Pyrenees rescues from Tennessee. They seemingly completed our family and we couldn’t be happier. Buster was care free from the get go and is such a love Master took a bit to warm up, and is still timid with strangers, but he now shows love and is an amazing companion. Our two cats got along great with the boys; it was perfect.

On the morning of August 7th , one of our cats went missing; Agatha. She was sitting in the front garden and the morning sun was hitting her just perfectly, her black fur was lit up all amber and she was beautiful. I took a photo as I got into my work van not knowing that it was the last time I’d ever see her. She was an amazing cat. Her kindness was amazing considering when she came into our lives it was because her previous owner had abandoned her and she was feral for many years. We loved that cat; I loved that cat.

My running redemption came in September when I ran with Strong Hearts Vegan Power again at Ragnar Adirondacks. We had a great van, we were team All Out War. The inside joke was that the average age in our van was well over 40 so we became team AARP. It was such a great race, we had so much fun and I really pushed myself. My last leg specifically, I felt someone breathing down my neck as I was maybe 1/2 mile to 3/4 of a mile out from the exchange. At that point we were running in the Whiteface Mountains and it was tough, my legs were shot. I was not getting passed, no f*cking way! Not here, not in front of my team. This race I made more kills than I had at any other Ragnar, I was f*cking strong as I ever was. I threw the hammer down and finished a few hundred feet ahead of that person! F*ck yes!!!

That said, there was a moment during that race that was quite sad and you can read more about it here. Peter Nussbaum (co-founder of Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary) and I had witnessed something at a dairy farm that will live with me for a long time. The cries of a young calf have been etched in my brain.

The runners high of that race was short-lived as something I felt coming for a while reared its head. My wife and I decided it was time to end our relationship. There are no hard feelings, we decided to do it amicably and not keep it from our sons. We told them and it was hard at first but we were still living together so they saw that divorces didn’t always have to be ugly and nasty, they could be civil.

The hits just kept coming after that though.

One night while Leah was at work, I was at home with the boys. Itsy, our other cat, was meowing to come in which is something she NEVER did. She would stay out all night if we let her. During the summer she spent many nights out as she refused to come in. This time she was meowing to come in and was limping. I figured maybe she was sleeping under a bush and her paw had fallen asleep. I helped her up onto my bed and consoled her for a bit. I left her alone for a short bit of time hoping the leg would wake up. It never did and I called Leah to come home so I could take Itsy to the all night emergency vet. Long story short, Itsy was throwing blood clots and we left the office with her in a box. We were told it was the compassionate thing to do as the next clot could be in her brain, heart or somewhere else that might cause her pain. So we took on that pain and lost our other furry friend. We had her since she could fit in the palm of our hand. We loved her so much.

Shortly after all of that stuff, I had moved into a two bedroom condo. It is a serviceable place and fits what I need; for now. One Thursday (December 6th) I had gone in to work for an 8 hour overtime shift. The boys come over on Thursday so I had just picked them up. We walked into the condo and sure enough, my first step onto the carpet made a squish sound. The water heater had blown while I was at work and flooded the whole first floor. It took 24 hours to get someone out to put in a new heater and shortly after someone else to remove all the water and the soaked carpet. At that point there was nothing but a concrete slab and 4 machines running to dry the place out and clean the air from any spores that might be growing.

Here we are, December 28th and I still have a cement floor.

We celebrated our first Christmas in the condo on cold concrete and that is exactly how I’m going into 2019.

That said, I refuse to let it define my year and there will be a second part to this post on January 1st. I have plans and goals and aspirations. 2019 will not be a repeat of 2018. I’ve been given the opportunity to redefine myself and re-center my life. I can’t wait to share what’s going to happen next.

Book Review: What The Health

Yes, this is the book version of the film. If you ever watched it and said to yourself that you should probably pay attention so you can retain as much as you can for future conversations, well you don’t need to do that. This is the printed form of the film serving as a compendium to all the info you saw and wished you had at your disposal. There is quite a bit more here in the book than in the movie and you will find all sorts of useful info as well as some of the filmmakers/ authors favorite recipes. There are more in depth interviews as well as commentary from the filmmakers themselves with added personal stories.

One thing I like to do after reading a book and before reviewing it is to look at other reviews. I get curious if the thoughts I have about a book are the same, or close to the same, as other writers. Not surprising, there are tons of reviews where folks are appreciative that the book was published. Many great stories of people making the conversion to a healthier way of eating.

Then you got the naysayers, and unfortunately there is a plethora of them. What’s amazing though is one in particular and it says, “Most (of) the sources are biased to veganism. The back of the book contains hundreds of references though that you can look up.” So the claim is that the book is biased yet there are sources cited in the back that are valid? I think some people don’t truly understand the word “bias” as they clearly have some of their own. There are even some “doctors” that claim the film is incorrect yet they do not offer their name, credentials or anything concrete to dispel any of the science based facts from the film. 

I don’t know, I mean some of the most well known doctors in the country are interviewed including Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Neil Barnard, Dr. Garth Davis, Dr. Milton Mills, Dr. Michael Klaper and so many more. As mentioned above, there is nearly 50 pages of notes referring the reader to scientific papers, studies and more. There can be no denying the fact that these guys have done their homework and leave no doubt; animal products is bad for your health. 

For instance, there’s a story about a boy names Justin and his mom, Joyce. Justin is a 7 year old boy who weighs 250lbs. Yes, you read that right! The poor boy struggles to breathe and move, his poor body cannot handle all that weight. His mother talks about his diet and how doctors told her to rein it in but never gave her any real advice. A typical day, from a spied piece of paper points out that just for breakfast the boys eats 4 scrambled egg, 1 slice of cheese, teaspoon of ketchup and 1 3/4 cups of diet sprite. That is a disgusting way to start the day and it doesn’t get any better. Lunch consists if multiple sausages, popped popcorn, diet tea and a snack bar.

If you are familiar with the movie than the fact they point out differences between true carnivores and humans is in here. For instance, how about our canines? I mean, those things are dangerous they must have been given to us to eat meat right? Have you looked at a real carnivores mouth; all of their teeth are for ripping and their canines are true canines, not some dulled down teeth that can barely “tear an envelope.

The stories here are real and they are horrifying. They blow the lid of factory farms spraying literal shit all over people’s properties and houses causing sickness and disease. The story of René Miller is atrocious and should anger anyone who learns of what she and her townspeople have had to deal with in the small town of Warsaw, North Carolina.

You get the idea.

It is a game changer.

If you watched the film you need to read the book. Your friends need the book. Your family needs the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spekin

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°.