Saturday, February 28, 2015

Where Are the Vegan Labels?

Where are the vegan labels? Oh, here one is, in the corner of the tofu package – a tiny “v.”
My husband was like a little kid, waiting impatiently for the new County Market store to open. He drove out of his way to check on its progress for three months, hoping to find it open. On the day of the grand opening, he and I were part of the crowd entering the store, and we were not disappointed! The vast produce section with its high ceiling and balcony restaurant made us feel like we were in a bustling metropolitan area!

Hubby and I checked out all the sales, and I thought I would look for some vegan food items. Disappointingly, what I did NOT find is what I do not find in all grocery stores: vegan signs! I am not singling out County Market nor am I blaming any other store, because the problem does not start with the grocery stores.  To understand what most vegans encounter when shopping, I will describe the typical store. There will be a couple of “okay” substitute meats, some tofu, and the vegetarian (not vegan) cheese called “Go Veggie!” (It fools many people due to its name and the words “Lactose free” on the front, but it contains Casein, cheese culture, milk and cream.) The truly vegan items either have no labeling, or have that very small “v” somewhere on the package. IF there is a “vegetarian/vegan” frozen food section, it is packed with vegetarian options and from zero to a smidgen of vegan ones.

A few years ago, I took a “Most Wanted Vegan Items” list to all the grocery stores in this area and talked with the produce managers. I mentioned that the list was compiled by 127 vegans and vegetarians who emailed me their desired items. The produce managers were all gracious and said they would do what they could to order the items in, but to this day I do not see the “double-starred” most wanted items from the list in their stores.

Our vegan movement has not gotten off the ground like it should, which makes little sense since it is a scientifically backed diet that can reverse heart disease, and is environmentally and morally sound. But instead of a vegan label, what I see on packaging throughout the store is “Gluten-free.” All over the County Market store I saw tags advertising gluten-free products, because it is popular and is a marketer’s dream. If “Gluten-free” is on signs then it is possible to have “Vegan” signs in stores, too!

Gluten-free signs are wonderful for the 1% of the people who have Celiac disease, and the “Organic” signs are certainly helpful! Vegan signs should be right up there with them.
So why did gluten-free catch on so quickly? Four years ago, “gluten intolerant” was not known to the public; now the aisles are loaded with gluten-free labels. If gluten-free can become popular so quickly, with people seemingly proud to have a digestive issue, then it should be possible to make veganism an “overnight sensation” too, since it actually helps the planet! Unfortunately, the word “vegan” is seen in a negative light, with vegans hesitant to use the term and almost fearful of the reaction. The perception of a vegan has been vilified and must change! Somehow, we must make vegan products “cool” and “needed.”

Vegan foods should have large V’s on the front of packaging for easy identification, or have the entire word “Vegan” spelled out.  Every company should be hankering to brand the package with the word “Vegan.” There are many foods in the stores that could wear the vegan label, such as several Italian and French salad dressings, tortillas, cereals, cake mixes, pudding mixes, candies, crackers, cookies, pie crusts, and breads. The produce section is one huge vegan smorgasbord!

Most people give up starches when they diet, even though the results are not as effective as a low-fat vegan diet (with plenty of starches). The gluten-free dieters have shown that they can give up wheat, barley and rye when they think their systems cannot tolerate gluten, even though studies have not proven “gluten-intolerance” exists (except for those with Celiac disease).
When it comes to foods people cannot tolerate, hopefully, more people will soon decide their conscience can no longer tolerate mass animal torture, and will give up meat and dairy. With more dedicated vegans we can create a demand for well-labeled vegan products, and being vegan will be a symbol of pride!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Do You Really Want to Leave Earth? Does God Really Need You?

I rewrote this blog post from a week or so ago and added a little bit.  I wanted to address the "God Needed Him" excuse I hear when people die.

Do you ever wonder about the mindset of Christians, who revel in the coming destruction of our Earth?  The earth being annihilated is seen in a positive light, and they anxiously await the second coming of Jesus, where he will battle those who are not “on his side,” scoop the good Christians up to fly away with him, and then destroy the earth months later.  This insistence on death before the few obedient ones receive their reward is the embodiment of a death cult.  The worship of a bloody sacrifice is the symbol of a death cult.

Why are the religious so joyous about the earth being destroyed?  Don’t they want their great grandchildren to have a good life on Earth?  When comparing any descriptions we have of Heaven to the beauty and variety found on Earth, from our forests to mountains, to jungles to prairies to lakes and rivers, why isn’t Earth seen as the real Paradise?  Do you really want to leave this boundless sphere of beauty?

I could more easily get on board with variations on the Buddhist theme, with belief in reincarnation, where people come back and relive their lives, but their lives become better each time they come back.  Wouldn’t you love to return as yourself and have your friends, but be able to travel more to exotic places, and not make the dumb mistakes you made in the past?  Yes, that would be a great improvement!  It would be closer to Heaven than going to some place to worship, not know your family, and be surrounded by white and gold clothed egotists.  Why more people do not latch on to Buddhism is beyond me.  Perhaps they just have not thought about any religion beyond the one they were raised in.  (This does not mean I believe in reincarnation, because I see no evidence for it, and am a “stone-cold atheist.”  I just would be happy if it were true – probably because I had a great childhood and would want to relive it – I am sure there are many out there who had childhoods that were miserable, but would want to live someone else’s life instead the next time around!)

I do understand how people in our past came to think about the spirit being separate from the body.  My friend’s husband recently died, very suddenly, of a heart attack, and as she stood in front of him at Visitation (which is another way we torture the surviving spouse), I looked at Mike with his dead grayish skin covered in flat foundation, and thought that primitive people would see a person there, but no personality, and they could easily make the assumption that the personality floated away somewhere else.   But that should have been cleared up long ago, with our understanding of how our brain produces our personality, and how our brains die when we die. 

The common excuse the religious use for death, even a very painful and unfair death, is that God needs the person in Heaven.  Really?  Does God need a three year old who died of bone cancer?  Does God need an athlete in Heaven?  Why would someone “all powerful” need a person in Heaven?  Please enlighten me – try to think of an answer! 

Certainly God does not need another choir member.  After all, not only are there a lot of people in Heaven already, but God could make a lone spirit voice sound like 100 spirit voices if he wanted to have a choir.  There is no need to kill someone in order to have another voice in the choir.  

I think all Abrahamic religions’ concepts of death are very anticlimactic, after the beautiful earth we inhabit, and do not see the draw of these religions at all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What's With the White Horses?

          Jesus (in the Bible) is supposed to come down on a white horse to wage war by killing nations of people with his sword; Mahdi (in the Qur’an) appears on a white stallion to triumph over the evil, false Messiah and then force everyone on earth to be under Islamic rule; and Kalki (in Hinduism) descends on a white horse to bring an end to the last four stages of the world. 

          I say we steal their transportation.