Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy World Vegetarian Month!

I think this is the first time I've blogged about breakfast! I usually eat homemade granola or Grape Nuts cereal with fresh or dried fruit, and during the winter I love oatmeal, but this summer I couldn't get enough muesli! The infatuation started at my sister's when we visited her in August. I ate her muesli (recipe from La Dolce Vegan! but you really don't need directions) and was hooked.

Muesli is just raw oats (whole, not quick), nuts and seeds (I use hemp seeds, raw sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, and raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)), and dried fruit (I threw in a combo of blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, pineapple, and papaya!). I also add about a quarter cup of cinnamon (yes, you read that right!) because this spice is known for its many health benefits. It adds such flavor with no fat or sugar! Not only is this cereal simple to whip up even on a busy night, I only put a drizzle of agave nectar (better than honey!) on top and then soak the cereal in some almond milk (fewer calories and sugars than soy). I look forward to this breakfast every morning! If you're always in a morning rush, it's quick to eat, too ;)

Now on to the title of my post, "World Vegetarian Month!" I love October for many reasons, and World Vegetarian Month is one of the biggest ones! I love sharing delicious vegan food with family and friends throughout the year, but this brings an incentive to do more!
Hubby and I went to the Charlottesville, VA 11th Annual Vegetarian Festival. It was my first of this kind of celebration, and I was super excited to go. The weather was perfect - 76 degrees with a cool breeze. When we got there, it had barely started but was already very crowded. We decided to get our food first, since we had gotten up early for the drive. He chose to try some Ethiopian food he hadn't had before: red lentil curry, curried vegetables and collard greens. When he wondered where his fork was, I showed him how to tear pieces of the injera bread (so spongy and fun to eat!) and use that to scoop up the food. Thanks to the ethnic diversity of our county, I have a Thanksgiving feast in my classroom every year, with "cultural diversity" as the theme. Thus, I have exposure to all kinds of foods I might never get to make at home, including pupusas, injera, speitzel, and pot stickers (yes, some of these I had before I was vegan!). Anyhoo, we loved these foods. The only sad part? Well, do you see the styrofoam?! I was heartbroken that all this waste (including plastic cups and silverware) were included in this earth-loving festival.
Here was my meal: a free sample of rice and beans from Whole Foods and a delicious smoothie from a brand new (organic!) food and juice bar in Charlottesville, called Sublime. My smoothie was called the Soul Sister, and included mango, banana, peach and other yummy fresh fruits.

After that, we perused the tabling and non-food vendors. I have to say, I was a little let-down with the large number of "doom and gloom" tables. Hubby in particular was disappointed. He had looked forward to maybe buying a new cookbook or sampling some snack foods. This was the only really "happy food" display we saw. Cute idea for a food pyramid, though, huh? Although I am vegan because of the animal welfare and environmental side of vegetarianism (the SPCA, anti-Factory Farm, Global Warming, etc.were well represented), I think that luring people to the veggie side might be easier with more happy smiles and good food. There were just too many depressing leaflets out there for me that day.

Yet I still enjoyed myself and wished we could've spent more time there. Here is one of the adorable puppies for adoption through the SPCA. Isn't it the cutest ball of fluff? It was like Dog Day at the park that afternoon - everyone had brought their dogs out to visit and play. I hope that some people made the connection between their dogs and the animals that weren't on their plate. :)

Here are two kittens that were up for adoption. Look at that one in the little hammock! I wanted to take them all home, cat lover that I am :)

I also decided that I would some day have a pet pig. Here is a pot-bellied pig (can't recall her name!) that they were raising medical funds for. Their poster stated that pigs are the fourth smartest animal on the planet! (Humans are supposedly first - ha, ha, then chimps, then whales/dolphins, then pigs. They're smarter than your dog!).

Here is one of the presenters (I think it was United Poultry Concerns) that I was glad to meet, but a little depressed afterwards. I can't recall this woman's name (JoAnn?) but her group supports the freedom of and non-cruelty towards poultry. She had a factory farm sized hen cage full of amazingly real paper-mache chickens! It showed viewers just how cramped and miserable the chicken's lifestyle is. She also had a great flier pointing out the misconception that free range chickens leave happy, carefree lives.
We left the festival with some vegan treats, some new fliers, and a new appreciation for the vast number of groups out there, working for the ideals of vegetarianism. However, we were also ready to go enjoy the earth the way it was meant to be - on foot!

We drove up to Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was National Public Lands Day, and we got in for free! It was the perfect day for a hike, with temperatures in the mountains at only 66 degrees (that's Fahrenheit to you foreigners!). Here is part of the AT (Appalachian Trail) that we walked. But the rest of the time, we just drove along the road and stopped at different overlooks for the view and some quiet time together.

Look at the way that the mountains resemble folds in beautiful, green fabric on the land.

That evening, we finally watched, "Peaceable Kingdom," together. I cried at several scenes, but there were enough uplifting parts to make me able to view it again.

So ended our wonderful Saturday. Today is Sunday, which means football and some school work and some baking for World Vegetarian Day tomorrow! Who knows, maybe my co-workers will enjoy some vegan Twinkies from my new bake set (purchased through Bed, Bath and Beyond- I had to call and special order it - they don't sell it in the stores anymore!), or perhaps a sprout salad from my new seed sprouter (purchased at the Veg Festival)!


Anonymous said...

Glad you made it to the veggie fest! I think the food options there this year weren't quite as good as in years past but we did still get some good grub. The African place in particular was awesome.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Wow, what a cool post! Happy World Vegetarian Month -- I enjoyed all your photos, esp. your hike. :)

VeggieGirl said...

oooh, such a fun post - to start, your breakfast looks phenomenal! yum! Happy World Vegetarian Month, indeed - the veggie fest looks like a lot of fun; oh and I just went to a pet adoption event this past weekend - it's heartbreaking, to see so many animals who need homes, but nonetheless it was nice to see them all, being taken care of by the Animal Protective League.

Great photos, and great post!! :0)

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the food pyramid. Great visual for people. That cat looks so cozy in the hammock. I wonder if my cat would appreciate a little hammock. I think I'm going to go rig something up right now.

bazu said...

Happy (belated) world vegetarian day! I too love muesli, and I'm one of those "the more cinnamon, the better" people as well! The festival looks fun- I have the same sprout jar as you!

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

LOVE the Twinkie set! It's been my experience that even the most anti-vegan co-worker will gobble up very VEGAN "Twinkies" and even rave about them in the process!