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Book Review: Mercy For Animals

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to start this review for nearly 30-45 minutes now. You see, I’ve read the book from cover to cover once already and started it again to try to pull out parts that I want to share. The problem is I’m nearly 100 pages in again and am having a hard time putting it down long enough to type this.

Nathan’s story is gripping not only because of the experiences he shares, both harrowing and courageous, but because of the compassion from where that story generates. Whether it’s from the beginning of the book and his recounting of his childhood on the family farm or to the undercover investigations he has been a part of; the narration exudes benevolence and pulls you in from the moment you start reading.

There are beings that roam this earth that shine light wherever they go. Some believe those beings are angels or Bodhisattva’s. Suffice it to say, Nathan is surely one of those people. With careful intention, he built an organization that is selfless and has one goal; to save as many animals as possible. What I think makes them different though is the seemingly minor things they do like push for more space for chickens and hens in cages and crates. It’s about pushing for more humane conditions for animals that are already part of our shameful “food supply chain”. Mercy For Animals pushes for those little things because with small steps come bigger one’s.

Speaking of “bigger one’s”…

I have not followed MFA over the years so this book opened my eyes to one of the major breakthroughs they had; and that was with Nestlé. Through tireless investigations and work MFA were able to get Nestlé to commit to the “Five Freedoms Of Animal Welfare” which are:

  1. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition
  2. Freedom from fear and distress
  3. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
  4. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  5. Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior

Nestlé did this on their own after being shown evidence of just how horrific their supply chains were and how despicable the animals were treated. The company was absolutely floored by the documentation they were shown. But, they swore to implement changes and that is amazing.

The fact of the matter is, Nathan Runkle lives and breathes his convictions. There is no denying that.

I walk away from this book with not only a deeper understanding of what it means to be an animal activist, but how to be one. Nathan’s story can, and will, inspire even the most apathetic individual.

He also touches on the future of the movement and the future of food. It’s a promising future and I hope to do what I can to help make that happen. You really need to read this book, I can’t tell you that enough.

Mercy For Animals Links
Website: https://www.mercyforanimals.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mercyforanimals
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mercyforanimals/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MercyForAnimals
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mercyforanimals

Transitioning To Veganism: Protein Shakes/ Supplements

This is the fourth article in this series. While the first three compared milks, beefless crumbles and jerky; this one is a little different.

We could go on and on about the need to supplement protein, the fact of the matter is that most people who are active, ie. runners, weightlifters or cross-fitters need to supplement. Can you get enough protein from just food? Absolutely!

Most people do not have the time to sit around eating all day or preparing meals or counting every single macro. I enter as much as I can into https://www.myfitnesspal.com/ to track what I’m eating. I do minor amounts of prepping, you’ve seen the mason jar recipes, right? As a cable guy those are super simple to pop into my lunchbox along with some fruit and veggies and I’m off to work. If you want an example of calculating macros and consider yourself a macro geek check out http://www.nomeatathlete.com/calculations/

If I trained hard, or ran, the day before I will also pack a shake to supplement some of the protein I couldn’t ingest during the day. Again, if I had the time or wasn’t stuck in a van all day could I reach my protein needs? Sure, but I don’t have the time and this article is for those that don’t. This article is also for those that need more protein, those heavy lifters who are needing extra to build and maintain muscle health.

With the samples I received, I’m going to break them down super simple like. I will list the basic macros, taste, consistency and price comparison. I want to thank those companies that sent samples, I appreciate the support and you helping me to put this article together. I was not paid to write this, I approached each company for a sample; so my opinion is completely unbiased.

If you run a company and would like to be added, I will happily create an addendum to this post; just head to the “Contact” tab and send me a message.

Orgain – I tried the creamy chocolate flavor. This product took two scoops per serving which made the shake a bit thicker, but also, more flavorful. With water it was tasty but when I mixed it with soymilk it was like having a chocolate milkshake. As you can imagine, the macros change with whatever milk-alternative you use. I didn’t need to pull out my immersion blender, it mixed very well with about 10-15 good shakes in the shaker cup. I usually mix powders with at least 16oz of liquid.

Taste wise it was one of my favorites of the powders tested; so much so that I’ve placed many orders to restock since. I not only like the macros but I feel like I stay more full longer. The price point below is the price from their website, if you shop around you will find it cheaper than that. I order mine from Amazon. The consistency is not gritty at all; it’s fairly smooth. My only complaint is I’d rather it be a 30 serving tub and not 20; it would make the monthly subscription from Amazon worth it.

Orgain is not a completely vegan company and does offer products that have whey in them. Make sure you check the nutrition facts before purchasing.

Macros per serving

  • 13g of carbohydrates
  • 4g of fat
  • 21g of protein

20 servings per 2lb tub priced at $40

Ai Nutrition – Chocolate is the only flavor available for this, as far I could see from their website that is. The powder is pretty thin and you only need one scoop per serving. Within a couple shakes of your shaker it’s blended well, although it does seem to settle a bit between sips, so make sure you shake before each one. It’s not gritty, just seems that it doesn’t dissolve as good as others.

I like the taste, it’s certainly not a milkshake; the consistency is more like a chocolate milk. That said, the benefit of it being less viscous is it is more drinkable if you feel the need to slam your protein shakes. I prefer to sip it for a bit. I don’t remember where I read it but a while back I read something about sipping having more benefits to absorption. It also help to have a snack too. But anyway… I liked this one, liked it even better with vanilla soy milk.

Ai Nutrition is not an exclusively vegan company, they are a sports supplement company that sells all sorts of products. If order this powder make sure it is the “No Whey” kind.

Macros per serving

  • 7.1g of carbohydrates
  • .6g of fat
  • 22g of protein

20 servings per 1.6lb tub priced $35

About Time – For the longest time, this was my go to protein powder. I’ve tried all three flavors currently listed on the site: vanilla, chocolate and  cinnamon spice. The flavors were all tasty but I really preferred the vanilla though. It mixed super easy and was similar in texture to the Orgain powder, but a little less dense; this only used one scoop compared to two. After a few shaker shakes it was good to go and didn’t seem to settle too much, although I’ve gotten in the habit of shaking before a sip of any powder at this point.

As the macros will reiterate below, the nutritional profile of this powder not only makes it on par with some of the others, but outshines most of them. The cost per serving is also amazing, especially if you order on Amazon. We have a local place here on Cape Cod that I go to if I need a tub of this and it’s roughly $30. That is less than $1 per serving! Ya, that’s pretty damned amazing if you ask me. The only thing I really don’t like about this is the sweetness, sometimes it can be too much. Maybe it’s the stevia? I’m not sure but sometimes stevia can be hit or miss for me.

About Time is not a strict vegan company and offers other whey protein powders. They do offer a vegan protein brownie mix that I have yet to try. If ordering from them make sure to choose the vegan powder.

Macros per serving

  • 1g of carbohydrates
  • 2.5g of fat
  • 22g of protein

32 servings per 2lb tub priced at $45

Plantfusion –  For this test I tried the vanilla flavor. This powder is super soft, reminds me of baby powder in a way. Being so soft it is likely to make a mess so be careful with it, the particulates can get everywhere is you have a window open and a breeze comes in. Yeah, that happened to me. It shakes and mixes extremely well.

To be honest, maybe too well. What I mean by that is if you are to vigorous in your shaking skill the shake gets very frothy and I feel like you drink more foam than actual protein shake. Literally you only need maybe 5-6 good shakes, anymore than that and you are swirling it around quite a bit to try to get it to liquefy again. The flavor is nice, but similar to About Time, I can tell there’s a fair share of stevia in this.

I really hate to keep doing this, but the price I have listed below is directly from their site. If you go to Amazon it is much cheaper and has a great cost per serving.

Plantfusion is a vegan exclusive company. Rest assured that what you buy is ethically sourced and does not harm animals, or the planet, in any way.

Macros per serving

  • 4g of carbohydrates
  • 2g of fat
  • 21g of protein

30 servings per 2lb tub at $52

Evolve – I tried both flavors of Evolve, the chocolate and vanilla. It’s hard to choose which one was better as they both had a very pleasant flavor and texture. Evolve does require two scoops, so we go back to a substantial shake reminiscent or Orgain. It mixes well after about ten shakes and again, because of its thickness it is a sip type of shake, Comparatively speaking, the taste was good and the texture was not gritty or foamy.

The cost per serving is decent but we have another 20 serving tub here. I don’t know why that gets to me but I think protein companies should try to get at least 30 in there. It helps to stay with a workout cycle, and honestly, I think it would help to see if the powder if truly effective for the goal the person has.

The macros are decent, the carbs are higher than others but there’s not enough to make this something to stay away from. Actually, they add stevia but for once I did not really notice it. They have just enough to give it some sweetness but not too much to make it taste overly processed.

Cytosport is the parent company of Evolve and is not a vegan company. They are the makers of Muscle Milk and a variety of whey/ dairy based supplements. If Evolve interests you, the link I supplied at the beginning goes directly to the Evolve site and has no interaction with Cytopsport so you don’t order anything accidentally.

Macros per serving

  • 15g of carbohydrates
  • 3g of fat
  • 20g of protein

20 servings per 2lb tub at $25

Sotru – I lucked out and tried all three flavors (vanilla, chocolate and chai) as well as the super-food shake. There is an absolute difference between this powder and the rest. It is minimally processed and you can tell. It’s gritty and at times can get “chewy”, but not necessarily in a bad way. I’ve had shakes in the past from other companies that were gritty and truly felt like you were chewing on dirt. That’s not that case here and that grit is actual whole food. Remember that whole sipping for absorption benefits and eating something? They are just multi-tasking is all, I guess.

The taste is good but due to the fact the ingredients are as real as they get, it can get a bit earthy. That could be because of a couple other factors too. They use medicinal mushrooms as an ingredient as well as amaranth and quinoa, that could explain some of it. Or, it could be the fact that they ferment their products to help with digestion. Either way, it’s very unique and I don’t think it’d be for everyone. I like fermented foods though so it has this strange draw to want to drink more for me.

Sotru is a plant based company and believes in feeding the body good foods. The powders do not contain soy, so if you are not into soy you can try this out. Cost wise this is the most expensive of the bunch based on servings and macro breakdown.

Macros per serving

  • 4g of carbohydrates
  • 1.5g of fat
  • 18g of protein

21 servings per 1.3lb tub at $50

CONCLUSION

There are some serious options out there folks to support your health. There is a powder for everyone. If I can answer any more specific questions, please drop me a line in the contact tab above.

The prices I found are all from the company’s website. Most of them are sold on Amazon and are drastically cheaper. I recommend you shop around for a good price.

My favorite? Our of the one’s I tested for this article, hands down I love Orgain and have now incorporated it into new workout plan I am on. I not only use it in shakes but I make chia pudding with it as well and it’s got a great creaminess to it.

Again, if you didn’t see your company listed, I would be happy to create an addendum post or amend this one. To contact me go to the tab at the top of the page that says contact.

Quick Bites #5: So Delicious Cheese Shreds

Just a few short months ago the internet starting buzzing about a new cheese product and then all of a sudden; it was everywhere and people were maniacally seeking it out. It really started to hit when Daiya had just been purchased and some folks were looking for something to purchase in Daiya’s stead (read my opinion on Daiya being purchased here).

I don’t get to Whole Foods in Hyannis often, it’s not like it’s far it’s just… well… I can procrastinate quite a bit sometimes ok?! Anyway I went recently and picked up a few bags (the mozzarella and the cheddar jack) of this new cheese alternative. Was I excited? I sure was. I don’t know about you all but I get overwhelmingly elated when I finally get my hands on a new product. I don’t remember that feeling when I was not vegan, maybe the same old sh*t doesn’t get too exciting? Anyhow…

I don’t use shredded cheese on many foods except for the usual foods like tacos, nachos and pizza. So that’s how I tested these. A local Greek pizza joint allows me to bring in my own cheese when ordering pizza so I brought the bag of mozzarella shreds to them and got a plain pizza. One of the first things I noticed when I opened the pizza box was how well this melted. I’ve brought a couple other cheeses in to have them make pizza for me and none melt like this. Taste wise it very unique. There is a sweetness to it, probably because it made from a coconut base. But there is also a sharpness to it, very reminiscent of what I remember cheese tasting like. Not that it’s been a long time, but even after four years my taste buds have changed dramatically.

How is it on tacos and nachos? Again, the melt that you get is great. You have to remember folks, this is not cheese but a cheese alternative. There really is no way to make an exact replica without using animal products. But if we were to compare apples and oranges, this stuff has some of the best flavor on nachos and tacos that I’ve had. Like I said in the last paragraph, it has a very unique flavor. It’s not bad, absolutely not. It certainly separates itself from other brands though and I think that is a good thing.

I’ve tried a variety of shreds and they all have their uses, but so far these are my favorite. It’d be nice if my local Stop and Shop started carrying it so I don’t have to drive to Hyannis to re-up when I need more!

Tonight I’m making a mac and cheese and plan to use these shreds on top. I can’t wait! So Delicious cheese shreds are legit!

Review: Sanuk Admiral Boat Show

My closet houses upwards of 15-20 pairs of shoes; at least 18 of them are sneakers I’ve either purchased or have wear-tested for a few different companies. 2 of those pairs of shoes are old dress shoes. They are more formal than I chose to wear to a friend’s wedding in Brooklyn, NY. It was time to add another pair to the growing collection.

When I was looking for something new I wanted a boat shoe style but it was also important that they be ethical and made from only vegan materials. While not all of Sanuks designs are vegan, the few that aren’t use wool. Wool is the end though, they do not use any other animals products including in their glues, etc.

I chose the Admiral Boat Shoe and went with the brown. Amazon Prime is pure genius, and I had my shoes in two days after ordering. When I pulled them from the box I could tell how much care was put into them and that they were well put together. They were not heavy, were quite light as a matter of fact. The material did seem a bit stiff, but they hadn’t been worn. I think as they break in, also, that the sizing won’t be as big as they seem. I wear a 9 but think I could have gotten away with an 8 1/2 as they seem to be a bit larger.

After breaking them in a bit we went to the wedding.

Let me say how unbelievably comfortable the soles are. They are really bouncy and it feels like walking on air. While they still feel a bit big, because of the loosening of the material, I feel like they fit better and I can tie them a bit tighter to get them snug and comfy.

The only negative thing I have to say about them is they do not breathe very well. My feet were really sweaty after wearing them for a few short hours. I’m hoping as they break in more and more that this won’t be an issue.

All in all I love these shoes a lot and have been eye-balling the TKO model. Maybe those will be next?

You can check their styles out at http://www.sanuk.com/

Do you wear vegan specific shoes? What are your favorite brands?

Book Review: China Study Family Cookbook

Continuing on in the series of cookbooks based on the acclaimed, and essential book, The China Study; this one focuses on families. Rather than just be a cookbook though that is loaded with recipes and no tips, Del Sroufe makes the transition easy for all. There are not only cooking tips, but recommendations on items to stock your pantry with in advance so you aren’t pulling your hair out looking for an ingredient.

One section of the book that I loudly applaud is the inclusion of cooking with your kids. My wife loves to bake with my sons. Being more of the savory cook, I always thought it would be hard to cook with these guys but I feel ready to try and approach the idea.

The book is a marvel to look at. The pictures are as simple as the recipes and let the food show itself and not get swallowed up in a busy backdrop. The layout is clean and recipes are as straightforward as you get. What I really appreciate is all the tips on each page. Even if you are a novice cook, the tips will break down certain techniques to help you get the result you want with the dish. Some of the recipes have less than 5 ingredients, hows that for easy?

I’ve spoken with some folks lately that talk about how involved vegan/ plant based cooking is; this book shatters that belief. Most of the recipes can be made with ingredients you have in your home, or can go down to the local grocer to get. Most of them are not niche items and can be made by those of any skill level, such as the homemade corn chips, potato wedges, sweet potato hummus or sloppy joes. Heck, you can make the corn and black bean salsa for those chips nearly as easy as the chips themselves.

There are some that are more adventurous recipes though such as the Mediterranean Loaf which I can’t wait to try. I’m really looking forward to making some of these dressings and sauces though. I’ve been getting really bored with the usual and these will give me a little liberty when trying to create flavors I used to enjoy. I appreciate that companies try to make vegan version of things like thousand island dressing, but they are processed and have preservatives in them to make them shelf stable. The recipes don’t have that and are much more fresh because you make them. The plant based mayo sounds like it’ll be fantastic.

The things I’m really looking forward to try and make is the chorizo. I’ve been trying to perfect my own jambalaya and again, have been trying to do it with less processed foods. Having some roots down in Louisiana, spicy foods and heat are most certainly my thing, The ingredients here are all whole foods and this recipe is mouth watering.

You can find more info out about this book and order it at http://www.benbellavegan.com/book/the-china-study-family-cookbook/

Turning A Blind Eye For The Movement

A couple of days ago I saw a post on the Vegan Bros Facebook page that instantly stirred up feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment. It was simply captioned, “Everyone’s going vegan.”

Normally I am totally on board with the crazy, over the edge stuff that Matt and Phil promote. When a celeb goes vegan they lose their ever-loving minds. I understand why, that person has a huge following and fans so it helps to popularize veganism and expose it to folks who maybe just fluffed it off.

Am I fan of Kylie Jenner? Nope, but what she does is her own thing. Miley? Yeah I’m not a fan of hers either so her announcement that she went vegan didn’t elucidate more than just a “yippee” from me. Over time though, I give her credit, it hasn’t been just a celebrity fad thing for her and she seems to be really passionate about it. Don’t get me wrong about celebrity veganism, it’s great; absolutely great!! Again it raises the presence of the movement into the public realm and you can’t buy that type of advertising. But when does it go to far?

But when a character like Adrian Peterson talks about becoming an 80/20 vegan (because he can’t drive by a Church’s Chicken without falling off the wagon); I cringe. I cringe because this man, just a short time ago, perpetuated violent behavior toward his own son. These are graphic photos, but if you have not seen them CLICK HERE for proof of what a monster he is. I commented on the Vegan Bros thread about this and got this response from another person who follows them:

My comment was cut short, I forgot to expand it before grabbing the screenshot from my phone. I actually went back a few minutes ago to get a better screenshot but it seems my comment has been deleted. When I said up above I was disappointed, this is the reason. Rather than take down the post about this piece of sh*t child abuser, they took my post off.

Part of what I had said in my comment that isn’t shown is, what if Michael Vick all of a sudden went vegan? Would the community just forget what he did because now he has a voice for animals? I don’t think so. Everyone would lose their minds and condemn him. But somehow it’s ok for Adrian Peterson to beat his child and then be held up on a pedestal because he all of a sudden went vegan, but still eats chicken.

**eyeroll**

“He’s trying!”

**eyeroll**

Yeah, I hear you.

But I cannot, and will not get behind this man monster. I apologize for all the profanity, but this really, REALLY burnt my ass and I felt that I needed to get it off my chest.

Am I wrong here?

When do we stop making excuses for people just because they are vegan?

Seitan Ground Sausage

My kids just wanted plain old pasta and sauce for dinner tonight. That sounded super boring and I had just worked out for 1 1/2 and needed more than that. I didn’t have anything to put in it so I figured I’d try to make my own grounds; with more of an Italian sausage flavor. It was a process, but the end result was tasty as heck. It’s also given me the confidence to make my own grounds in the future.

The recipe is amazingly easy, it’s just a time consuming process. It’s why I started the first part while I was working out. Here is what you will need and how to put it all together.

1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fennel seed (crushed)
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup water

Get a pot going with 4 cups of water and 2 cups of veg broth.

In one bowl mix all of the dry ingredients well then add the water. You will have a goopy mess and it will seem more wet than it should be; it’s not. You need to knead it for a bit to give it some elasticity. Once you’ve gotten there roll it out lengthwise and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Roll it a bit lengthwise so it kind of looks like sausage, this is just to help it cook quicker than in chunk form.

Once your water is boiling drop the pieces in, cover it and lower to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour making sure to check now and again that the liquid level hasn’t gone down too much.

When the hour is up, remove from the water and let drain onto some paper towels for a bout ten minutes. Grab your Ninja, food processor or whatever you use to pulse blend with. Put all the seitan in and pulse three to four times until you get the size crumble that you prefer.

One last step, I promise. Dump all the grounds into a frying pan and brown them up a bit.

That’s it. Well, you can add to your sauce now and what you use depends on your level of involvement there. I added this batch of crumbles to Trader Joe’s Marinara sauce and it was slamming! Enjoy!