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Oct. 27th, 2010 | 06:31 pm
location: Home
mood: determined
music: The Moody Blues

Well, it's been a long time since I did a blog post.  However, I've been having some conversations on Facebook where being vegan has come up, so I thought I'd do a blog post on what being vegan means.  I'm not going to post statistics; they're looked up easily enough.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a pretty logical person, & I don't let emotions rule me.  This isn't an emotional post; this will be, basically, the definition of veganism.  I don't claim to be an expert on any of this, but having been vegetarian for nearly 23 years, & vegan for the last 14, I think I know what I'm talking about pretty well.  I am not the "vegan police"; I'm just going to tell you what is vegan & what is not.

Let's start with vegetarianism; after all, many vegans were vegetarian before they were vegan.  You can look up the word "vegetarian" in any dictionary, or you can do an online search.  I just went to dictionary.com, which said, "a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc."  Already, they're confusing the two.  The end part of that really refers to vegans.  Sigh... anyway, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat any part of an animal's body that required the animal to be murdered.  So while a vegetarian may still eat eggs (chicken menstruation - ew!!), they won't eat beef (cow muscle) or even Jell-o, because Jell-o, as we all know, is made from gelatin.  Gelatin is made by boiling the bones & connective tissues of animals.  You can't get that without murdering the animal... 

huge misconception among pretty much everyone is that cheese is vegetarian.  It is not; to be made, cheese requires an enzyme called rennet, which is only obtained from the stomach lining of a calf... a calf that has been torn from its mother & murdered, having been turned into veal.

While dairy milk is technically vegetarian (as far as I'm aware), there is a saying, "Every glass of milk contains a slice of veal."  That's because dairy cows must get pregnant within 3 months of having given birth in order to continue giving milk.  What do you suppose happens to all of the "extra" calves?  Some of the females are kept to meet the horrible fate of being turned into dairy cows; very few of the males are kept in order to provide sperm for the next generation (not that the cow gets to make love with her bull - no, she gets attached to a "rape rack", but that's a whole other story).  Most of the calves are ripped from their mothers, never to taste her milk.  They're put into tiny crates, unable to lay down (so the muscle doesn't get bruised), never have access to their mothers or any other bovine, get fed a milk-replacer diet, get nothing with any iron in it (in order to keep their muscles white), & at 16 weeks of age - a mere 4 months - they are murdered.  So, even if a person doesn't eat the actual flesh of a cow, if they drink milk, they are absolutely contributing to the suffering & deaths of countless calves.

If anyone tells you that they're a vegetarian, but they still eat chicken/fish/whatever, they are NOT vegetarian.  If you eat animal flesh, you are NOT vegetarian.  You may eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but you are NOT vegetarian.

Now let's talk about veganism.  True veganism - ethical veganism - is a lifestyle, not a diet.  Diet is part of it, but only a small part.  A vegan does not eat, consume, use, wear, etc. any animal or animal product at any time, ever.  So a vegan will not only not eat an animal's flesh, they will also not consume its bodily excretions.  A vegan will not wear another animal's skin/fur.  A vegan will not buy cleaning products that contain animal derivatives, or have been tested on animals, or which are made by companies that test on animals.  A vegan does not believe in testing cometics, medications, etc. on animals.  A vegan believes that animals are not put on this planet for human use, but to happily live out their lives, just as we were.  Therefore a vegan believes that every animal deserves to be in its natural environment, out in the wild.  A vegan believes that breeding animals for sale is wrong.  A vegan believes that using animals in entertainment is wrong.  Vegans also believe that keeping wild animals in captivity - with very few exceptions - is wrong. 

"But you work at a zoo, Alicia!" you might say.  Yes, I do!  But I was very careful when investigating the zoo where I work.  Many, if not all, of our animals are rescues.  One of our horses was rescued from horrible abuse in Amish country; I just learned yesterday that his jaw had been broken from beatings, & his larynx removed, all by the Amish!  One of our white-handed gibbons (whom we no longer have) was taken from "scientific" experimenters.  

Vegans believe in releasing all releasable animals back into the wild - but for those who can't be released, my zoo, and many others (although not all!) provides a loving home for them.  These animals are happily living out their days, while at the same time educating people about themselves & their relatives in the wild.  As my hero, the late, great Steve Irwin said, "
If we can touch people about wildlife, then we can save it. ... because humans want to save things that they love."

There are people who will call themselves vegan, but tell you that they still eat honey.  The person who does that is not a vegan.  Vegan means no animal products, at all, ever.  No exceptions.  The person who is vegan with the exception of honey is not vegan; they eat a mostly vegan diet, but they are not vegan.  That's not my rule; that's simply the definition of the word.  Although I must admit to getting extremely annoyed when people corrupt & bastardize the definition to fit their own uses... grrr...

To get a little bit personal for a second (it is my blog, after all), I personally consider people who used to be vegetarian or vegan, then went back to eating animal products, to never have been vegetarian or vegan in the first place.  In other words, if Joe Schmoe was vegan for 15 years, but then went back to eating animal products - for whatever reason - in my opinion, he was never actually vegan, but ate a vegan diet for a while.  Remember, veganism (& I think, to a lesser extent, vegetarianism) is a lifestyle, not a diet.  It is about not using & exploiting animals.  Sure, humans end up benefitting immensely, not to mention that veganism is much better for the environment than a flesh-based diet - but at the end of the day, ethical veganism is about not exploiting animals.  That's why, to me, if a person goes back to eating animals, they were never vegetarian/vegan to begin with.  They just happened not to eat animals for a while.

Lots of people tell me they respect & admire me for being vegan; to those people, thank you, but to be honest it takes no effort at all on my part.  Sure, I have to read labels, but all I have to think about is what that animal had to go through to end up on that plate, & I don't want to eat it.  Being vegan isn't about denying yourself any food - it's about denying the animals a horrible existence filled with nothing but suffering, only to be murdered in the end. I have not had a single craving for any animal product since I went vegetarian & then vegan.  Not one.  And you know what?  If I did, I'd find a substitute.  Or if I had to, I'd go without (not that you really have to these days - there are vegan analogs for everything now) rather than contribute to the suffering & death of an animal. 

Anyone can be vegan - it is, 100%, a choice.  I'm not telling anyone what to do - in fact, I never bring up the subject myself; I only talk about it when others bring it up, & even then never in a "shoving it down your throat" kind of way.  But I get extremely pissed off when people say, "I could never be vegan."  Yes, you could.  You are choosing not to be, but anyone can be vegan.  If you have health conditions, go to the doctor - find out what your body requires.  Absolutely everything you need can be obtained via the plant world.  I am living proof of that!

You can be vegan if you choose to be.

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We won!!!

Apr. 12th, 2010 | 10:23 am
location: NJ
mood: giddygiddy
music: The Wag!

We won!! :-)  Last night at the first annual Jersey Acoustic Music Awards, my band, The Wag, won the award for Best Band.  I can't even say how much that means to us... 

We've been together for over 11 years.  We've released 6 (or 4, depending on which band member you ask) CDs during that time.  We've played countless shows, some HUGE, some tiny.  We're an original *electric* band - but there's such a lack of venues for local original electric bands that if we want to play out often - and we do! - we have to play acoustic, too.  Playing acoustic is fun - not only do we get to experience some of our own songs (the ones that translate well from electric to acoustic) in a different way, we also do cover songs (other peoples' music), & to me personally, it's fun to see the audience reaction when they hear a song they haven't heard in a long time.  One of my favourites is "Sunshine Go Away" by Jonathan Edwards.  And I *love* "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz, which we kick @$$ on, if I do say so myself.  Not to mention, we get to do things when we play acoustically that we don't really do when we play electric - for instance, I get to play the flute & the guitar; our drummer gets to play guitar & the accordion, for goodness' sakes! :-)  It's a different experience to playing electric. 

We've been nominated several times for the Top Pop Band award in the Asbury Music Awards (that's electric, not acoustic) & haven't won yet...  I'm not going to say anything about the AMAs, but I *will* say that the award that we won last night wasn't down to being a popularity contest, or to us "bringing people" or selling tickets in order to make money for the venue owners.  The owners of the venues where we play our acoustic shows really enjoy live music for what it is, not for the money it may bring in.  'Cuz I'll tell you: until you make it BIG, playing live music doesn't make anybody rich.  Not by a long shot.  We're still going strong after 11 years plus because we love to make music. 

That's why this award means to much to us; it's recognition of our efforts from other performers who know exactly what we go through in order to keep doing what we're doing.  It's recognition from the venue owners who don't care if we bring in any money for them or not - they know good music when they hear it. ;-)  And it's recognition from fans that we didn't even know we had: this was a write-in ballot competition.  As one of our co-performers said last night, he didn't think we were actually going to win this award.  Not because he didn't think we deserved to - he voted for us himself - but because we don't really do the open mic circuit, as many of the solo singer-songwriters do.  With 4 band members & much more equipment than just a guitar, it would be too difficult to do open mics.  So this award was strictly down to people who've seen us at our gigs & felt that we deserved it.  To all of you who nominated & voted for us, THANK YOU!!!  To our fellow performers, you're all great, & you all deserve many, many awards for working as hard as you do to keep the local music scene up & running.  It's been a pleasure playing alongside so many of you, & we hope to continue to do so for many more years to come! :-D

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Steve Irwin Day

Nov. 14th, 2009 | 04:36 pm
location: Home
mood: melancholymelancholy
music: none

Today is the day set aside at Australia Zoo to celebrate the life & legacy of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. He wasn't perfect (after all, he wasn't vegan!) but he certainly did a lot more than most people to help wildlife. We can all learn from him, & try to honour him by helping animals as much as we possibly can.

Watch the festivities live from Australia Zoo at 7:30pm EST, USA.

If this works, here's a photo of me wearing my khaki Croc Hunter shirt (bought at Australia Zoo), my Steve Irwin watch, & my Australia Zoo & Wildlife Warriors bracelets.

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RIP Steve Irwin

Sep. 4th, 2009 | 09:22 am
location: Home
mood: sadsad
music: None

It was 3 years ago today that the world lost the original Wildlife Warrior, Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter. Wildlife lost the best friend they ever had, and I lost a hero. I know that sounds very cliche, but it's also very true. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him, & if I think about him for longer than 5 seconds, I'll start crying again. I was lucky enough to visit Australia Zoo in February 2008, and I will be back. Have no doubt about that; I plan on working there. No idea how I'm gonna do that yet, but that's never stopped me before, LOL! Good on ya Terri, Bindi, Robert, Bob (dad), Wes, and all the Australia Zoo crew for keeping Steve's dream alive. Let's all do our part, and help make the world a better place for those who can't ask for help. RIP, Steve-o.


P.S. Since LJ always goes wonky on me & won't let me post photos, here's a link to my photos of Australia, including Australia Zoo, and also New Zealand. http://www.flickr.com/photos/loriengreenleaf/

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Long time no speak

Jul. 25th, 2009 | 05:00 pm
location: Home, finally.
mood: frustratedfrustrated
music: Birds singing outside

I'm frustrated.  Hubby & I live, maybe, 30 minutes from the ocean, as the crow flies.  If only we could fly like crows... it took us somewhere around 2 hours to get there 'cuz of all the traffic; had to wait for a parking spot, too.  Then we pay $8 each to get on the beach.  We find a spot, get comfy, hubby goes & gets a veggie burger & fries...  But it's a little cold at the beach, even though the news said the weather would be hot!  I decided to go in the water anyway; went in about up to my ankles & came right back out.  The water was FREEZING!!!!!!!!!!  Back to our spot, I laid down on my Crocodile Hunter towel... warmed up a bit, which was nice.  Uh-oh, sky looked a bit funny... storm rolling in... we weren't at the beach for more than an hour when it started RAINING!!!  All that effort to get there, & it rains!!!  It didn't look like it was going to stop any time soon, either, so we packed up & left.  It took us longer to get HOME than it did to get to the beach!!! WTF!!!  And now we're home, & I don't know what to do with myself.  It's beautiful out now (of course it is) so I decided to come outside.  And guess what?  I'm still cold!!!  Why can't I be like normal people & be hot all the time?!?  No, I always have to be freezing.  But, it is still nice & sunny, so I'm going to force myself to enjoy it while it lasts.  OK, I'm done ranting.  I'm just frustrated... it should have been a nice day at the beach, & it wasn't.  Whatever enjoyment we got out of it was negated by the stupid traffic.
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Jun. 19th, 2009 | 07:13 pm
location: Home
mood: determined
music: None

Wow, it's been over a month since I posted!  And this one's not gonna be long, either.  I just wanted to share more of my New Zealand  & Australia photos, so here's a link to my flickr.com account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/loriengreenleaf/  Please comment on the photos on flickr! :-)


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I got so excited

May. 13th, 2009 | 07:16 pm
location: home
mood: excitedexcited
music: podcast

I work at a periodontist's office.  Now, as much as I love the people that I work with, I am not at all excited about the actual job.  But at work today, the assistant asked me to keep an eye on a patient while she got something from the lab.  So I was hanging out in the doorway of the room, talking to the patient & her mother.

We have TVs in each room, & they all show whatever DVD we're playing that day.  (I promise, I'm getting to the point!)  So I glanced up & saw an Aldabran tortoise.  I recognized the beautiful face from having been up close & personal with 2 of them at Australia Zoo.  I got all excited, & started telling the patient & her mom all about Aldabran tortoises, how long they live, how they live in the Galapagos Islands, how Charles Darwin interacted with them (and how Harriet, the Aldabran tortoise from Australia Zoo, who died a few months before Steve Irwin died) was taken from the Galapagos Islands by Darwin himself.  (While I do believe it's wrong to kidnap an animal, I was nevertheless excited to know so much about them.)

I was just so happy; I swear, I turn into a different person when I even talk about animals, much less actually interact with them myself!  I asked my boss if I could borrow the DVD, & he said of course!

Then I went back up to the front & told my co-front-desk-worker & the hygienist all about what you just read about, & I said, "Why don't I work with animals?!?!"  And the hygienist said, "Yeah, why don't you??"  Sigh...  What I really want to do is work at Australia Zoo... but if I can't work there, why can't there be something like it here?  :'-(  I'm wasting my life, one minute at a time...  but enough sob-fest, it was so exciting to see the tortoises & to know so much about them!! :-D


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Star Trek movie

May. 10th, 2009 | 09:49 pm
location: Home
mood: dorky
music: Les Mis

I went to see the latest Star Trek movie last night.  I always have a hard time following plotlines - don't know why - so I can't tell you if there were any gaping holes in the plot or not.  But I can tell you that as a diehard Star Trek fan, I fully expected to like this movie, and was not disappointed.  I honestly think that even if you're not a Star Trek fan, but just want to see a good movie, you should see it.  It was very enjoyable!  I think the roles were cast perfectly; what made the movie even better for me personally was that Karl Urban was in it.  I'd totally forgotten that he was in it; he was Eomer in The Lord of the Rings.  Since I'm also a huge LoTR geek, I was very excited to see Karl!  He did a fantastic job as McCoy, too.  I totally recommed that you see this movie; you won't be disappointed! :-)

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Apr. 22nd, 2009 | 08:22 pm
location: Home
mood: mischievousmischievous
music: None, still have splitting headache

Because one post every 10 days isn't enough, here's another one for you.  My ex-boss sent this to me:


The Day the Penis asked for a Raise

I, the Penis, hereby request a raise in salary for the following reasons:
I do physical labor.
I work at great depths.
I plunge headfirst into everything I do..
I do not get weekends or public holidays off.
I work in a damp environment.
I work in a dark workplace that has poor ventilation.
I work in high temperatures.
My work exposes me to contagious diseases.



P. Niss

The Response


Dear Penis:
After assessing your request, and considering the arguments you have raised, the administration rejects your request for the following reasons:
You do not work 8 hours straight.
You fall asleep after brief work periods.
You do not always follow the orders of the management team.
You do not stay in your designated area and are often seen visiting other locations.
You do not take initiative - you need to be pressured and stimulated in order to start working.
You leave the workplace rather messy at the end of your shift.

You don't always observe necessary safety regulations, such as wearing the correct protective clothing.
You will retire well before you are 65.
You are unable to work double shifts.
You sometimes leave your designated work area before you have completed the assigned task.
And if that were not all, you have been seen constantly entering and exiting the workplace carrying two suspicious-looking bags.


V. Gina


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Earth Day

Apr. 22nd, 2009 | 08:02 pm
location: Home
music: None, I have a splitting headache

I'm sure you've heard all day long about how today is Earth Day, & it can get tiresome, just like anything else that's being shoved down your throat.  However, I think that it's important to be reminded that the planet needs saving, or at least, we need saving from ourselves...  Most of us try - some harder than others - but there is always more that we can do, sometimes without trying very hard at all.  Do you recycle?  Great!  Now try using a stainless steel bottle instead of buying bottled water.  Are you vegetarian?  Awesome!!  Now go vegan.  Do you drive a hybrid?  Yippee!!  Now trying riding your bike or walking whenever & wherever you can.  There are a zillion and one ways to be "green", and we should all aim to do as many of them as we can.  Not because it's the cool thing to do, or it'll get you a girl/boyfriend, but because as great a species as humans are, we've also done a whole lot to screw up this planet.  Yes, the Earth will continue long after we're gone... but don't you want to leave this world a better place than when you entered it?  I know I do...


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