Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Henrietta and Charlie: Saying Goodbye

I was very saddened to learn about the loss of a very good friend. Her name was Henrietta, and she was a long-time resident of the C.A.T.S. resale shop in Westwood, NJ. Here she is, as she often was, with her face held to the sunlight.

Despite our obvious differences, Henrietta and I had many things in common. We both enjoy a good nap; like to look out the window and observe life; and enjoy the company of others, but relish some downtime to ourselves.

Henrietta, like all companion animals, just ask for life's basic necessities: food, water, shelter, medical care, and love. She never passed judgement on me if I gained a few extra pounds, changed my hair color or my wallet was a little emptier than I'd prefer. She was a true friend, and I will miss her greatly. I feel glad to have known her, and the few moments I spent in her presence was the highlight of my week.

She was rescued in Union City, NJ, by a kind soul, on the brink of a snowstorm. Since she was FIV-positive, she was not easily adoptable. I have been cursed with cat allergies, so I could not provide a home. This year we also lost Charlie, a true gentlemen. He had many years of life behind him, and he had a lot of love to give to the very end.

"Home, home where I wanted to go," Chris Martin sings in Coldplay's Clocks. In the end, Henrietta and Charlie really did find their forever home, even it was an unconventional one, filled with love, happiness and warmth, with the guardian angels who run the C.A.T.S. store, including Lynn, the founder and president.

Goodbye, friends. I'll never forget you. Your paw prints are on my heart always.

Please support local animal organizations during these hard economic times. No amount of money is too little. If you can't give much, give a bag of pet food, or your time. Here are some great local groups in New Jersey: C.A.T.S., Companion Animal Trust, Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter Society, and S.T.A.R.T. II.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Yes, I'll Have That Here...In A Real Cup, Please

A foreign object to most Starbucks customers: a ceramic mug, which can be filled with your favorite soy-based beverage of choice.

Even if you're in the independent coffeehouse cheerleading camp (generally speaking, I'm a brew-your-own fair-trade, organic coffee at home fan), the reality is that millions of people patronize Starbucks daily. They are a fixture of city life in New York. I received a Starbucks gift card, and when I suggested to the counterperson they should offer ceramic mugs, she said, "we do." Really? Do any of their customers realize this? In an age when corporations are bending over backwards to promote themselves as "green," why are they keeping the lid on ceramic mugs (pun intended) if people are going to drink their beverage there? The company states on its web site that by 2015, its goal is to have every Starbucks cup be reusable or recyclable. But ceramic mugs are something people can use right now.

Starbucks finally wised up and is now offering a 10-cent discount if you bring your own coffee mug. I hope the company gets enough requests to make ceramic mugs the default for customers staying in. I shudder at all those plastic lids languishing in the landfills, in addition to all those trees cut down needlessly.

Visit My Starbucks Idea (free registration required) to request this change, in addition to adding vegan options and leaving soy milk out on the counter. The consumer voice is more powerful than ever in this struggling economy, and we must utilize this strength for a better planet.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Greed is a Blinding Ray"

There is a genre of musical artists (in my book, including Tori Amos and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe) who do double duty as musicians and social historians of the times. Many of their works read like poems to me, and serve as cautionary tales or provide calls to activism.

Also on this list for me is Natalie Merchant, who is recording new material after a long hiatus. If you haven't checked out The House Carpenter's Daughter, her haunting collection of folk music - do.

A long-time activist for many causes, Ms. Merchant penned "A Campfire Song," which appeared on the 1987 album "In My Tribe" with the band she fronted at the time, 10,000 Maniacs. Backing vocals are provided by Stipe on the studio version. This sonic tale bears witness to greed, entitlement and environmental carelessness, all themes that sadly transcend time. While the original inhabitants of our land lived in harmony with nature, and were caretakers of the Earth, too many of us have carried on our forefathers' tradition of simply becoming takers.

10,000 Maniacs - A Campfire Song Live

A lie to say, "O my mountain has coal veins and beds to dig.
500 men with axes and they all dig for me."
A lie to say, "O my river where many fish do swim,
half of the catch is mine when you haul your nets in."
Never will he believe that his greed is a blinding ray.
No devil or redeemer will cheat him.
He'll take his gold to where he's lying cold.

A lie to say, "O my mine gave a diamond as big as a fist."
But with every gem in his pocket, the jewels he has missed.
A lie to say, "O my garden is growing taller by the day."
He only eats the best and tosses the rest away.
Never will he be believe that his greed is a blinding ray.
No devil or redeemer can cheat him.
He'll take his gold to where he's lying cold.
Six deep in the grave.

Something is out of reach
something he wanted
something is out of reach
he's being taunted
something is out of reach
that he can beg or steal nor can he buy

his oldest pain
and fear in life
there'll not be time
his oldest pain
and fear in life
there'll not be time

A lie to say "O my forest has trees that block the sun
and when I cut them down I don't answer to anyone."
No, no, never will he believe that his greed is a blinding ray
no devil or redeemer can cheat him.
He'll take his gold where he's lying cold.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Break Out Your Datebook...

Aside from the official celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, which we all know is really every day, there will be animal and eco-events galore next month. Mark your calendars for one, a few, or all of these groovy events!

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month and what better way to celebrate than by rocking out at Union Square in New York City with the ASPCA and the 4-legged set on Tuesday, April 7th. Between 4-8 pm, enjoy refreshments, live music, and socialize with doggies up for adoption. Don't forget to get decked out in orange - the official color of the ASPCA - even the Empire State Building will be doing it! Impress your coworkers with this free ASPCA wallpaper. But what to pick...the cat, dog or horse?

Be thrifty, green and an animal activist all in one by signing up for a library card and celebrating National Library Week (April 12-18th). Of course I own some things, but communal sharing is the way to go. Netflix? No thank you. I get new DVD releases for $1 and older releases for free at my library; get my reading fix on ("I cannot live without books," Thomas Jefferson to John Adams in 1815); peruse magazines, vegan cookbooks and sample music. The library can also be a great resource to advocate for animals. Learn how using the Farm Sanctuary library outreach page.

Celebrate the Cherry Blossom festival at Branch Book Park in Newark, NJ. Or, just pamper yourself with some Cherry Blossom beauty products from The Body Shop. Or just eat soy cherry chip ice cream from Trader Joe's. It's delicious!

April 24 is Arbor Day, a national observance that encourages tree planting and care. Become a member of the Arbor Day Foundation for as little as $10, and they will plant 10 trees in our national forests.

Don't forget the Hackensack Riverkeeper clean-ups, the first of which is on Sunday, April 26, in Overpeck Park, Leonia, NJ. But you don't have to wait for an official clean-up. Trash is everywhere.

April 9th is the first day of Passover. PETA's VegCooking offers recipes including Carrot Tzimmes, Chopped 'Liver' Spread and Sweet Potato Kugel. For more, click here. For Easter, April 12th, doesn't a Mustard and Apricot Glazed 'Ham', Creamy Mashed Potatoes With Chives, and Apple Walnut Cake sound tempting? Click here. Not a cook? Try the vegan vegetable ravioli salad ($8.99/lb) off of Whole Foods Market's Easter catering menu or how about the vegetarian chopped "liver" ($6.99/lb.) on the Passover menu. Don't forget the campy chocolate in the form of an Easter Bunny. Check out Rose City Chocolatier.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Whole Foods Paramus: A Spy Report

Vegans will be in foodie heaven at the new Whole Foods Market in Paramus. My first impression, it's huge, at 63,000-sq. ft. They have much bigger offering of vegan food than their Ridgewood counterpart, but I could not shop here regularly. Stores of this size are too cold and overwhelming to me.

The have a sizable vegan baked goods section, including these slices of cake and this Moo-Cluck un-cheesecake that would make the Golden Girls proud. I also eyed pre-packaged donuts and brownies. The mark-up is considerable on any processed food.

Vegan chicken salad! We've come a long way. This is $4.49. Or make your own. Try VegCooking's recipe. Right by this, there was a vegan avocado sandwich for $4.99.

Penne Lane Pasta Company vegan artichoke ravioli, $7.99 for a 12-count. A bit pricey, but consider what you'd pay at an Italian restaurant. You could probably get two portions out of this, paired with a green salad and garlic bread.

They also have a gelato bar where there was one soy flavor that I sampled, chocolate chip cookie dough. There were no vegan offerings at the pizza bar, but the counterperson said sometimes there are.

Miss mac & cheese from the pre-vegan days? Me too. Road's End Organics makes a good vegan version, which you'll find at Whole Foods.

It was also great to see signs everywhere indicating which products are locally produced. Visit Whole Foods Market, 300 Bergen Town Center, Paramus, NJ.

That said, I'm sticking to the more intimate and budget-friendly Trader Joe's for general shopping and Old Hood Farm, Emerson, NJ, for local, organic produce.

Want to find a farmers market for fresh local, produce? Search here.

Someone loves Trader Joe's even more than I do, and started a website, TraderJoesFan.com. Check out this recipe for Spicy Pineapple Vegan Meatballs. Yum!

Monday, March 23, 2009

An Evening out at Candle 79

There's been a lot of DVD and vegan pizza nights on my end, so when it was time for a special evening out, Candle 79, one of the most famed vegan restaurants in New York City, seemed like the perfect place to splurge on a nice dinner. Here's a recap of my first visit.

The homemade ginger ale, with agave, sparkling water, lime, and mint, $7. In a word, divine.

The amuse-bouche of the evening was edamame. I thinking they could have provided something more inspiring.

New York Times critic Frank Bruni said this was one of the more enjoyable hummus appetizers he has tried in the city, and I can taste why. Served with grilled paratha bread, olives, and a roasted garlic bulb. Pricey at $13, and they are stingy with the bread so we had to order more, for which they charged $2.

My dish...the seitan piccata, served with spinach, a grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, and lemon-caper sauce, $23. A tasty and humane alternative to a dish more associated with veal. The spinach wasn't "creamed" as the menu described, disappointingly...more steamed.

I sampled the Fall Harvest Paella, $20. The smoked seitan sausage was hard to find. This dish was good, but missed the Wow factor.

The dessert special, Mexican chocolate cake with ginger ice cream, $12. The cake was light and airy. The ginger ice cream made this dish. Too bad this isn't on the permanent menu.

If you're going for a romantic night, ask for a table by the window on the second floor. The great thing about dining out is it inspires my dishes at home. I never thought to grill my bread with hummus or serve it with roasted garlic. And I would definitely try making that ginger ale at home. But at these prices, Candle 79 is for special occasions only.

I asked the bartender why there weren't any local wines from Long Island on the menu, and she said it's because they had trouble finding a good wine that was vegan and organic. A shame. Also, the menu listed draft beer as $7, but the bill listed it as $8. A good reminder to always check your bill.

Visit Candle 79 at 154 E 79th St. btwn Lexington & 3rd Ave., New York City.
Click here to see Frank Bruni's audio slide show of his visit.

That said, my favorite place in NYC for vegan dining is still The Natural Gourmet's Friday night dinners. It's $40 per person for 4 courses, but that includes tax and tip, and bringing your own wine saves a fortune. It's communal dining, so you won't have the privacy, but the quality has never disappointed.

A flashback to my visits: fall seasonal fare and a night with guest chef Melissa Gellert .

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chickens, Score 1

"Change is nature, the part that we can influence, and it starts when we decide," Remy the rat wisely informs his father in the film Ratatouille.

The people have spoken, and garnered a victory for the chickens. Just one month after Compassion Over Killing teamed up with Mercy For Animals and the Animal Protection & Rescue League, caring consumers urged BOCA to stop using eggs in its products. Mission accomplished! BOCA, the maker of meat substitutes, announced plans to be egg free in 2010. Learn more.

Contact MorningStar Farms
, and urge them to follow BOCA's lead. Shifting suffering of one animal, such as a cow, to another, chickens, is just not acceptable.

This is a great announcement to kick off spring, and the celebration today, March 20th, of the Meatout, an international observance promoting a vegetarian diet.

In other news, our friends at Farm Sanctuary are hosting an online charity auction. Wallet a little emptier than you'd like? No problem. A contribution of just $20 entitles you to a Farm Sanctuary membership for one year. Click here to donate.

Check out their cool new activist blog, Making Hay and learn about life at their shelters in New York and California by following Sanctuary Tails.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Home on 8th: Good Vegan Chinese, Check, But...

Brown bagging lunch is usually my preferred way to go, but recently I decided to try Home on 8th, a Chinese restaurant that has a sizable vegan and vegetarian section on their menu. Is it the best Chinese food ever? No. But if you're looking for a quick meal before a show at Madison Square Garden, or you work nearby and are craving Chinese, this an option.

A feast: Tangy Sweet And Sour Soy meat, carrots, peppers, onion and pineapple; brown rice; miso seaweed soup; and two spring rolls, $9.75 for the lunch special.

This place did lose some points for the styrofoam soup bowl and the hard plastic container my meal came in. They have a plain by pleasant enough seating area, and I don't see why reusable dishes can't be used. And styrofoam? I remember being inspired as teenager watching R.E.M.'s 1989 concert for their Green album, captured on my now outdated VHS copy of Tourfilm, when Michael Stipe told an audience member, "That better not be styrofoam, pal." That's my kind of rock star.

What's wrong with plastic and styrofoam? They both take between 500-1000 years to decompose in a landfill, according to GreenMuze. Styrofoam is thought to have the second worst environmental impact behind aluminum production, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

Home on 8th, 391 Eighth Ave., between 29th & 30th St., New York City.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Greetings

If there was ever a time when our country needed a festive parade, merry spirits and the luck of the Irish, it's now. The Irish eyes smiled on the NYC parade today, providing beautiful, mild temperatures...a sign of spring, and happier, more positive times to come.

Our friends at PETA's VegCooking site always provide great ideas for a cruelty-free holiday. You can enjoy an Irish feast today or any day of the year, including 'Steak' and Stout Pie, Colcannon, Brown Bread and Chocolate-Stout Cupcakes
Mock Corned Beef and Cabbage, Sage Potatoes, and Vegan Irish Soda Bread, and more. Or how about Irish Whiskey Cake and Irish Coffee?

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

Return From Fingal - The Corrs

Monday, March 16, 2009

Eggs: Presenting Problems, and Solutions

With Easter season upon on, heightening the awareness of the cruelties of egg production is vital. In 2007, consumption rose from an average of about 94 million dozen eggs weekly to 115 million dozen the week before Easter and almost 136 million during Easter week, according to the National Egg Council.

In a world where people are so disconnected to where their food comes from, providing a visual is so crucial. Artist, web developer, and animal advocate Mark Middleton created animalvisuals.org to do just that. This is his brainchild, The Virtual Battery Cage.

Among the shocking statistics we advocates are familiar with:
1) In the U.S., some 95% of egg-laying hens are intensively confined in battery cages.
2) As of December 2008, about 300 million birds are confined in battery cages, almost one for every U.S. citizen.
3) Each cage confines 5 or 6 birds on average, but sometimes up to 10 birds.

In addition to presenting the problem, he provides viable alternatives to eggs. These include applesauce, bananas, and commercial egg replacer powder (such as Ener-G Egg Replacer), and others. Too often, I read animal rights literature speaking about the horrors of factory farming, but not leaving the reader with another option. They must walk away with a sense of what they can consume instead, otherwise the point will have been lost.

Check out alternatives to eggs on About.com and Bob's Red Mill Vegetarian Egg Replacer.

Think cage-free are better? Not necessarily, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Most cage-free hens live in very large flocks that can include thousands of hens who never go outside, they say. Here are more facts from the HSUS:

-Cage-free farms usually purchase their hens from the same hatcheries that supply battery-cage farms. These hatcheries kill the male chicks upon hatching - exceeding 200 million annually in the U.S.
-Most cage-free hens have part of their beaks burned off, a painful mutilation.
-Hens are often killed at less than two years old, less than half their normal lifespan. They are typically transported long distances to slaughter plants with no food or water.

Learn more about cage-free egg production vs. Battery-cage egg production

A reality check. This sign hangs outside of the hen house at Farm Sanctuary's Watkins Glen, NY, shelter.

The ideal. Chickens enjoying a dust bath on a sunny autumn day in Watkins Glen.

Freedom rings in this hen house

Sweet solitude.

If you haven't already, please send an e-mail to your legislators asking them to end cruel confinement of farm animals, including battery cages, using this form from Farm Sanctuary.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Whole Foods Market Opening in Paramus

Attention northern New Jersey vegans and eco-minded shoppers: Whole Foods Market is opening in Paramus on March 19th in the Bergen Town Center. I am a Trader Joe's woman at heart...very affordable prices; great selection on vegan and organics; super-friendly employees (once during a sudden downpour, staff was outside with umbrellas to escort shoppers to their cars. Where do you get service like that?) However, Whole Foods does have a much broader vegan selection, including a large variety of vegan cheeses, which are great additions to my Mexican feasts and 'cheesy' tofu scrambles.

Trader Joe's recently updated their vegan product list.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Way We Eat: A Look at the Real Costs of What's in Your Cart

People watching. Some people like to do it at a sidewalk cafe or a park bench, but my venue of choice: the supermarket. If you're intrigued as I am as to what people are filling up their carts with and why, some insight into their decisions is revealed in "The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter," by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.

The authors follow three American families. One shops heavily at Wal-Mart and eats the traditional meat and animal by-products centric diet. Another, more conscious consumers, who spend more to purchase sustainable seafood and free range eggs and meats. The third are the vegans. The authors interview each family, then trace the origins of their diet, examining every angle, including the impact on animal welfare, the environment, workers rights, and the local food movement.

Are vegans perfect? Of course not. Case in point: Yellowtail wine. I hear this Australian wine recommended all the time in our vegan community. But does it not matter that this is a non-organic wine that comes from across the globe? Are we cancelling out the impact to the animals' and our environment of all those food miles to transport it to our table, just so we can pat ourselves on the back for drinking a vegan wine, vs. a non-vegan wine grown locally?

Why farm animals?
The authors pose an interesting moral issue, noting that animal movement has focused on animals used in research, for fur and in circus. In the U.S., about 20 to 40 million birds and mammals are killed annually for research, but even the higher end estimate of 40 million represents less than two days' production in America's slaughterhouses each year. Perhaps many in our animal movement think fur and circuses are so frivolous and easier targets than getting people to shun their hamburgers for good. As an animal advocate, the amount of exploitation is overwhelming...clothes, entertainment, food, experimentation, and since they cannot defend themselves, the burden on us to stand up for them is heavy.

On low prices at any cost
"The cult of low prices has become so ingrained in the consumer culture that deep discounts are no longer novelties, they are entitlements," John Dicker writes in his book, The United States of Wal-Mart, the authors noted. I thought of this as I passed a Boston Market and saw a large sign advertising a whole chicken for $1.99. As UK chef Jamie Oliver has remarked, "A chicken is a living thing, an animal with a life cycle, and we shouldn't expect it will cost less than a pint of beer in a pub."

The loss of morality
One of the sentiments that stuck with me most was expressed by Jake, the mother who shops heavily at Wal-Mart, even though she could shop at a store where everything is organically grown and the meats are free range. "Laziness is a part of it," she remarked, as the store is about a 30 minute drive away. The prices are also two to three times higher than at Wal-Mart. "Isn't it a sad thing when our morals become so disposable?" This, to me, is one of the takeaway points of the book and one of the great dilemmas of our time. I've walked into many a household filled with multi-thousand dollar entertainment systems, vast DVD and clothing collections, and more "stuff" so to speak. But when it comes to our food choices, people often put little thought into what they put into their body, and where it came from, and just look for the cheapest choice available, especially now. People are trained to not think of the hidden costs to the animals, workers, environment, or the health care system, and just 'consume.' A shift in values that respects the animals, the land, our fellow humans and ourselves is sorely needed...and the winds of change begin with us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Supporting the Cycle of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle With Your Paper Goods

I'm always looking for ways to reduce my paper consumption. I cancelled my New York Times subscription and read it online; utilize my local library for books and magazines; call to remove myself from mailing lists when getting unwanted mail. I even bring my own towel to work when washing my ceramic dishes.

But some paper consumption is unavoidable. And for that, our friends at Greenpeace have issued a Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide to help us make an informed decision based on three criteria: 100% recycled content; at least 50% post-consumer recycled content; and bleached without toxic chlorine compounds.

Get the guide here.

Luckily, the toilet tissue I buy made the recommended list: Trader Joe's, $3.99 for a 12-pack. Its facial tissues (99 cents a box) did not, since it only had 10% post consumer content, but they've recently repackaged, and the box I have at home does say 80% post consumer content.

Read more about Greenpeace's campaign against Kimberly-Clark.
Tell Kimberly-Clark that you will avoid Kleenex, Cottonelle, Viva and other brands until they start producing product with recycled content using this Greenpeace form.
Want to reduce your junk mail? Learn how.

Want to cut down on charitable solicitations? When I send a donation, I make sure to tell the charity to put me on their 'once a year-only' solicitation list, that way they don't spend unnecessary resources sending me repeated follow-up requests.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Extreme Cruelty on an Ohio Pig Farm to Be Exposed on HBO

Footage of suffering endured by animals on industrialized farms is often only seen if you visit an animal welfare group's web site or YouTube page. On occasion, the footage will make the evening news, such as the Humane Society's undercover videos of workers trying to force downed cows to their feet with forklifts and a hose and water so they can walk to slaughter in its investigation of Hallmark Meat Packing Co.

However, the public will get a look at the horrors of an industrialized pig farm on Monday, March 16, when HBO premieres Death on a Factory Farm. The documentary follows the undercover investigation of Wiles Hog Farm in Creston, Ohio, by The Humane Farming Association (HFA), and the subsequent court case. Among the gory findings of the HFA's investigators: piglets being thrown into crates from across a room, an unhealthy piglet being slammed against a wall to euthanize it, and an ill sow being hung by a chain from a forklift until it choked to death.

What happened at this farm is not unusual. As Gene Baur, the President of Farm Sanctuary often reminds us, bad has become normal on today's factory farms. Gestation crates, which restrict impregnated pigs from being able to turn around, have become the standard. A life lived completely against nature, all to save a few cents.

This film airs at a crucial time: when Americans are turning to cheap food sources, including fast food, in droves, as the economy remains anemic. Yet there is an unseen price tag associated with cheap food, and that price is paid by animals in the forms of unusually cruel confinement to save pennies for their producers; workers, who abandon their humanity; the environment; and our own morality, as we have come to value cheap food at any cost whatsoever.

Learn more about the HBO special.
Humane Farming Association
PETA's Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Pigs.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Banff Mountain Film Festival Hitting NYC

Mark your calendars: the Banff Mountain Film Festival is coming to New York City Tuesday, March 10 and Wednesday, March 11 to Symphony Space. Each night has films covering extreme sports, mountain travel and environmental awareness.

A sampling of the cinematography:

Tickets are $21 in advance and $24 at the door.

At last year's festival, I signed up for wind energy from Community Energy. This adds $11 to my monthly PSE&G bill, but the peace of mind of getting clean energy is worth what is the equivalent of one movie ticket a month.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some Reflections on Food Waste

Organic celery, intended to be cut up and snacked on with peanut butter...spoiled. Frozen string beans from Trader Joe's...only half a bag consumed, the rest freezer-burned from Thanksgiving. Tomato sauce for my 'meatball' subs...expired. Food waste. I am guilty of committing it, even though I'm fairly conscious of it, and feel guilt-ridden whenever it happens.

This fall, I volunteered for the day for a local food hunger relief organization, the Center for Food Action. My job: sorting through bags of food donations, examining the expiration date, and tossing the expired food. That day, 20 percent of the food went in the garbage. That's one out of five items! The volunteer coordinator said this was typical. "People give with their hearts, not with their heads," he said. A lot of the food items thrown away were made of meat and animal by-products, even more unnerving...all those animals suffered a horrible life and death, for nothing.

After that day, I've been more conscious than ever to eat what I have. For the most part, except for the crimes mentioned in the first paragraph, I've been eating what I have in my cupboards and refrigerator, then restocking. We shop out of habit. We shop out of boredom. We shop because we want something new. But waste is disrespectful to ourselves, to those who have so little while we have so much, and to the environment.

Before the recent snowfall, suburban New Jersey residents were at the supermarket in droves stocking up...as if most of us didn't live within a 10 minute drive of a store. Consider what you have in your pantry and refrigerator. Could you too use what you have before shopping for something new?

Times are hard. Give nourishing vegan food to your local food pantries.
Find a local food bank through Feeding America.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Chinese Feast at Empire Hunan

While I'm brown-bagging lunch every day and dining out for dinner less often like many to save money, I do still support eating out occasionally. For one, restaurant portions are so huge, eating out at a reasonably priced, local establishment can garner two or three meals if you include leftovers. I also don't want to deprive foodservice workers of an income. I wore the waitress uniform many years myself, and have the utmost respect for waiters...and just about anyone who has to deal with the general public.

One of my favorite places for a Chinese meal is Empire Hunan in Fair Lawn. Prices are very modest, and the atmosphere and presentation have never been a disappointment.

Here's a recap of my last visit there. A cup of miso soup, $1.80. They also serve complimentary Asian slaw.

Steamed vegetable dumplings ($4.50 for six) and vegetable roll ($1.60)

Bean curd with vegetables and brown rice, $8.95. Enough for at least two portions.

Lychee fruit...my favorite way to a meal here. $3.95

Visit them at 38-16 Broadway, Fair Lawn, NJ or 444 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, NJ.