I’m back from my blogging break! I’ve been a bit under the weather for a couple of weeks courtesy of a virus which just kept going and going and going, making my life miserable, my throat sore and my eyes pink. I’m starting to bounce back and am now (hopefully) capable of writing something which isn’t a self-pity party. Today is warm and sunny (although it’s going to get mega hot again this afternoon), the birds are popping down to eat from the feeders, two of the cats are lying around me snoring gently, and I haven’t coughed for over an hour. Life is good 🙂
While sitting around, with only my virus for company most of the time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about “loving animals”. No, not in the x-rated sense of the word, more in a “Julie Andrews” kind of way. Warm and fussy feelings, cuddles, twitchy noses, that kind of stuff. Facebook is full of videos of cute kittens, loyal dogs, goats bouncing on trampolines and little piggies doing piggy-like things. These all have thousands of “likes” and get shared over and over again. “I love animals” people say. But what does that mean? Can someone who watches a cute cat video while munching on a chicken sandwich still claim to love animals?
I love animals too, up to a point. The point where I stop loving them is when they stalk me, waiting to catch me off guard so they can suck my blood, giving me itchy lumps and potentially nasty diseases in return. I don’t love biting insects, and if a mosquito tries to bite me, I’m going to kill her. If that makes me less of a vegan, so be it. I hate labels anyway. But the question is, where do other “animal lovers” draw their lines?
Over the past few months (yes, it really has been that long and has required an awful lot of thought) I’ve been searching for a charity to volunteer with on a regular basis. I’ve thought about cat rescues, but was concerned that I might bring something home which would infect my cats. Dog rescues are out – hubby is horribly allergic to dogs and the mere thought of dog-hair-covered-clothing makes his eyes puff up. The parrot sanctuary sounded good, but it’s too far away and I know I wouldn’t drive the distance in the winter months. A hot contender was an animal sanctuary about a 45 minute drive from where I live. I’ve been there a few times over the years and they seem to care about the farm and companion animals they have there. But then it came to my attention that the owners eat meat…including, of course, farm animals. My enthusiasm declined somewhat. Why rescue one pig and eat another? Why spend so much time, effort and money on improving the life of one animal while eating its cousin for lunch? That seems…odd. Not all sanctuaries are like that, I know, but it made me stop and think.
A couple of weekends ago was big-ticket-price garden party fundraiser for the Ottawa humane society, which is a shelter for dogs, cats and small pets. The local vegetarian and vegan group had a table at the event stocked with baked treats free from animal products, but the rest of the restaurants and vendors showcasing their goodies were serving meat. People attend such events to raise money to save animals, and happily wander around with a piece of animal on a plate in order to do so. They’ll eat a cow to save a dog. Eat a pig to save a bunny. Eat a fish to save a hamster, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they claim to “love animals” while coating one in barbecue sauce and eating her with a side of vegetables.
Surely I can’t be the only person who finds this a bit odd?
Next time you find yourself rubbing the head of a dog or stroking a cat, why not ask yourself how far your love for animals really goes. Where’s your “love stops here” line? And while you’re thinking about animals, why not cook yourself up some good, tasty food which doesn’t involve munching on Bessy-the-Cow or Babe-the-Pig? An easy way to start is by replacing ground meat with veggie grounds or TVP (textured vegetable protein). The recipe below is fast, cheap and delicious. No bull.
Edit: I wrote this the day before Cecil the lion was killed. Check out this blog by the Mindful Mavens about it. She is also asking the question “Why do we value some animals and not others?”. http://themindfulmavens.com/2015/07/29/on-cecil-the-lion-and-extending-our-circle-of-compassion/
Simple Chilli with Cornbread Muffins
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp good quality chili powder mix
- 2 tsp cumin
- 225g / 8 oz veggie grounds
- 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 can / 2 cups cooked black beans
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped red pepper
- 1 cup organic flour
- 1 cup corn meal
- 2 tbsp raw unrefined sugar
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup soy milk
Makes 12 standard or 6 jumbo muffins
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onions and garlic over a medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the chilli powder and cumin. Stir for 1 minute then add the veggie grounds and mix well.
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, black pepper and tomato paste. Mix well, bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Check the seasoning half way through and add more chilli powder if needed. Too hot? Add 1 tsp sugar.
- Stir in the beans and continue to cook for another 10 minutes and serve with tortilla chips, rice or vegan cornbread muffins.
- To make the muffins, heat the oven to 400’F / 200’C / Gas Mark 6.
- In a small frying pan, heat the oil and fry the peppers over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Alternatively, put in the microwave for 3 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Lightly grease a muffin tray or line with paper cases.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Stir in the applesauce and soy milk, then stir in the red pepper with its juices and remaining oil. Mix until just blended. Put into the muffin tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before serving.