Reasons Why Being a Badass is an Appriopriate Life Choice For Me

  1. Feels good.
  2. Good way to be cooler.
  3. Sunglasses are fun.
  4. I’ve taken too much shit.
  5. The only down side is that people might not like me.
  6. Lots of people already do not like me, so no problem there.
  7. Fuck the haters.
  8. My life, my choices.
  9. I don’t owe anyone anything.
  10. If you don’t like it, you can suck it.

That’s all folks.

That is all.

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Yes, I’m still here: Why I have been a horrible blogger

I have done a horrible job of keeping up with this blog over the last year or two.

So much has been happening, I think I got so caught up in living life that I stopped writing about it. For example…

I lived in New York, I got engaged, I got unengaged, went to vegas (unrelated), went camping (for the first time in over 10 years), studied food systems, finished university, went to DC, dealt with physical abuse, battled stigma related to illness, developed 2 major illnesses, had 4 hospital visits in less than 6 months ( and 2 ambulance rides, wheeee!), saw all my favourite bands play together, went to Disneyland (as a vegan), did an Animal Rights internship, visited an animal sanctuary, worked on some huge projects, made films, took photos, started doing burlesque, started a band… and probably lots more things I can’t think of right now.

I have really missed the reflective quality of blogging and having a place to record all of my various adventures. Over the next few week I will be publishing some posts related to some of these things that I haven’t written about yet.

Thank you to all of the supportive people and organizations, and animals I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with over these past few years, and thank you to everyone who still reads/subscribes. Yes, I still exist!

I wrote this on April 15th 2013

Dearest Jenni,

You did this once and it was really cool, and again so I am sitting writing you a letter at your intern apartment in New York City.

In the next year I hope you,

  • Commit to eating way more fruit and more organic food
  • Stop making trash
  • Move out or make plans to move out
  • Learn more about communicating your mission to the world
  • Get at least 10 people to go vegan.
  • Write monthly letters to help animals!
  • Host a French party (maybe this one takes a little longer haha)
  • Make Paper!
  • drop something off a building
  • Try stand up comedy!
  • Perform Spoken Word Poetry

You were semi-effective last year and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish! You are amazing. I love you.

Peace,

Jenni (2013)

Why I Will Not Eat Gluten Again

Dear Jenni,

Please don’t go back on this one…

The stomach pain
The bloating
The burps and subsequent embarrassment
The other bodily gases and subsequent embarrassment
What will the good looking people think?
Food comas
The bathroom isn’t the best place to spend a nice evening
There are so many things I can’t enjoy when I am preoccupied with gluten sickness
Vicious cycle of gluten eating leading to more gluten eating

Stay chipper. Love always,
Jenni

How to Be a Gluten-Free Vegan

According to Jenni Rempel

So, you want to be a vegan… (Start here)

Though I am not strictly gluten-free myself, my Mom is gluten-intolerant so I am well aware of the challenges with avoiding gluten. After my mom was diagnosed I went gluten free (in addition to being vegan) for several months. For myself, I found the best way to do this was to eat mostly raw food and look at raw food recipes. Especially in the gluten-free dessert category, I think this is the tastiest and healthiest way to go (cashew cheesecake anyone?). Beyond that there are also many recipes for dishes that never contained gluten to begin with. Quinoa, rice, and lentils can be the base of many tasty meals.

Popular gluten-free alternatives to animal flesh include: tofu, tempeh (fermented soy bean… there are some great tempeh bacons out there), and veg based products (such as vegetable burgers). Avoid seitan (which is made from wheat gluten).

Like many dairy and egg products, most vegan alternatives are gluten free. Daiya Cheese (who now makes vegan-gluten-free frozen pizzas), all non-dairy milks, and the almond and soy based vegan yogurts on the market are all gluten free. Egg replacers like flax meal, apple sauce, banana and some packaged egg replacers are also gluten free!

Christine Norris, a gluten-free and vegan living specialist says…

When doing both [gluten-free and vegan], stick with fresh, whole foods and you won’t have any problem. When buying packaged foods, get used to reading the label. Major allergens are usually listed at the bottom in bold (i.e. milk and gluten, wheat), but not always.

Going to vegetarian restaurants helps eliminate half the trouble, and most will mark if something’s gluten freeon their menu. It gets easier as you do it more… also try sticking to non-American restaurants for a while, since most other cultures don’t use the same types of flours or have plenty of alternatives; i.e. Mexican food (vegan enchiladas, fajitas and tacos on corn), Indian food (most things are made with chickpea flour), Ethiopian (injera), Thai (vegan curry dishes), and Chinese (Mongolian stir fries). It’s best to make your own food when you can – it will save you money and frustration.

It should be relatively easy to be both vegan, and gluten-free, as both lifestyles involve reading ingredients thoroughly and being very conscious about what one puts into their body.

Here are some great blogs with recipes and info:

Eating out:

  • Raw food restaurant are usually 100% vegan and gluten free (check for and avoid honey and Nama Shoyu [raw soy sauce]). In Vancouver I love Organic Lives and Gorilla Food.
  • Sushi is also a great option (skip the soy sauce or bring tamari). Try standard veggie rolls, kappa rolls, avocado rolls and other veg-based options. Other Asian traditions also featured products made with rice flour and rice wraps that can usually be made gluten-free and vegan.
  • Indian food also tends to have a number of rice-based and curry dishes which are gluten-free and vegan.
  • Mexican food often has options for gluten-free corn based tortillas and tacos which can be filled with veggies, beans, rice, potatoes, salsa and guacamole. Mmm!

Cookbooks: (thanks to Genny B.  and Christine Norris for the recommendations)

  • Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book, by Jennifer Katzinger
  • Gluten-Free and Vegan Holidays, also by Jennifer Katzinger
  • The Gluten-Free Vegan, Susan O’Brien.
  • Genny says… I use the first cookbook about 90% of the time and I consult the other two books the odd time. Katzinger’s cookbooks are amazing because not only is it vegan but it’s also whole foods (healthy sugars and flours) and next to no binders. My fav is…
  • Babycakes NYC! http://www.babycakesnyc.com/books.html Yummy desserts! Learning how to bake is a great thing when you are a gluten-free vegan! It can be fun too!
  • Alison Kramer’s Great Gluten-Free Eats
  • Christy Morgan’s Blissful Bites (gluten-free options clearly marked)

A friend recently asked, why be vegan and gluten free?

While choosing to avoid gluten has no moral basis and is purely a health or dietary choice, being vegan is a social justice issue, an ethical stand point, and a firm decision to stand up to oppression. It is a moral position. Why be vegan AND gluten free? For health, and for the animals, and for the planet.

Overall vegan nutrition info can be found at http://vegankit.com/eat#nutrition, chooseveg.com and also nutritionfacts.org : )

So, You Want to Be a Vegan

Dedicated to B, who asked.

I would love to help you in any way that I can! You rock!

First place to start: http://vegankit.com/ – Great overview of everything!

The resource I am most excited about at the moment is Mercy For Animals Vegetarian Starter Guide (http://www.mercyforanimals.org/VSG.pdf). It’s free online but is also mostly the same as their website: http://www.chooseveg.ca/ (I totally worked on this haha). It has some info about the animals (nothing gory), environmental impacts and positive health benefits. It also has some basic nutrition info (http://www.chooseveg.ca/foodplate).

For nutrition info I also recommend the book “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis. Many people consider it a stable book for this info. Also, I recently got to meet the doctor from http://nutritionfacts.org/, this website posts new content every day and any questions you have they will likely have an article on. Nutrition as a vegan is actually quite easy because a plant-based diet is the optimal diet for disease prevention. The films Forks Over Knives (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7ijukNzlUg) and Food Matters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4DOQ6Xhqss) talk about how a vegan diet has been proven to REVERSE major killers like heart disease, and cancer, and many other illnesses (though it has been a long time since I have watched them and only recommend them as a starting point for further research)

The meat and dairy lobbies pay actors and people to advertise and promote their products (got milk?) because they are industries seeking to make more profits. I was really shocked when I learned that many of the supposed benefits of animals products are just marketing lies. For example, milk can actually CAUSE osteoporosis by leeching Calcium from the bones (http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/09/12/13120.aspx) and even Harvard no longer promote consumption of milk and dairy products (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/). Another big one is the “protein myth”. Meat companies promote their products as having “enough” protein, but no one even mentions how much protein people really need. Many people eat too much protein which can cause problems. All fruits, vegetables, and plants have protein. Even if you wish to eat large amounts of protein (which is generally unnecessary) there are many plant based sources you can use such as Kale, Lentils, Beans, Hemp Seed etc.

Personally, I do 2 things the ensure I am adequately nourished:

  1. I try to have a “Green Smoothie” every day. A green smoothie (greens: I use spinach; + ANY YUMMY FRUITS YOU WANT) is the fastest way to get the most nutrients into your body. Greens are nutrient dense and fruits is tasty and full of vitamins and minerals. I take a big handful of spinach and blend it with lots of fruit, so I don’t taste the spinach, I taste the fruit, and get all the health benefits of the spinach. Yay! Here’s a tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXr8-jru1KE&feature=c4-overview&playnext=1&list=TLqTDsKXLPYiM
  2. I either eat nutritional yeast or take a Vitamin B12 supplement once a week. (http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-the-best-way-to-get-b12/)

There’s tons of resources online. When I want to make a certain dish I usually google “the best vegan” + the recipe I am looking for. This usually brings up the best results. Here are some of my favorite recipe blogs:

http://www.theppk.com/

http://www.choosingraw.com/ (lots of nutrition info, written by a nutritionist)

http://www.chooseveg.ca/breakfast

http://vegweb.com/ (huge database)

There are also lots of all vegan restaurants in the lower mainland: Karmavore in New West, Graze on Fraser, 3G Downtown, Dharma Kitchen near UBC and Vegan Pizza House near Joyce Station are some of my favorites. Lots of common restaurants also have vegan options. I like getting veggie sushi rolls, veggie sandwiches from Subway, and veggie or tofu stir fries when I am in a rush (but I always ask to make sure the sauces and ingredients are vegan).

In terms of becoming vegan, everyone has their own path. I know people that switch overnight cold turkey and others that transition slowly. I myself went vegetarian over night and then slowly eliminated things from my fridge until I was vegan 4 months later. Melanie Joy, a psychologist who did her Ph.D on why we eat animals has a really great site and 2-minute video about why we eat animals which has really helped me to understand the importance of animals rights and ethics (http://www.carnism.org/).

Beyond the nutritional info I think the most important part of being an animal advocate is being well informed. This short video of undercover factory farm investigations helped me to learn about how animals are treated and WHY it is so important to be vegan: http://meatvideo.com/ I found the video very disturbing, but I think it is important to witness the suffering that goes on and be informed about what really happens in the factory farm industry. If you have more time Earthlings is a very comprehensive look at how animals are treated in our society. It is available for free online: http://earthlings.com/?page_id=32. Again, this movie can be quite disturbing, but it is likely that people are going to ask you why you don’t eat animals, and I think it is important to know the facts.

Every time you choose not to eat an animal you are making a huge difference, both for the dead animal on your plate, and for the environment, and the exploited slaughterhouse workers, and to me personally, so for this I thank you. And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions etc! I want to create a world where no one has to suffer and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make that a reality! Seriously, i’ll bring you cookies haha : P

In gratitude,

Jenni

Note: As with anything, I highly recommend doing your own research, being critical of all sources and coming to your own conclusions after you have done adequate research and learning, especially when it comes to nutrition.

I WROTE THIS A YEAR AGO

Dearest Jenni,

You did this once and it was really cool, so I am sitting writing you a letter at an airport in Toronto.

In the next year I hope you,

  • Commit to 100% raw, organic food.
  • Stop making trash.
  • Get engaged 100 times
  • Go Camping
  • Do something crazy!
  • Learn more about communicating your mission to the world
  • Do inspiring work that pays the bills and make the world better.
  • Write letter to help animals!
  • Host a French party (maybe this one takes a little longer haha)
  • Make Paper!
  • drop something off a building
  • Try stand up comedy!
  • Perform Spoken Word Poetry

You were very effective last year and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish! You are amazing. I love you.

Peace,

Jenni (2012)

Acting Workout 2: How Do I Act??? What is Acting???

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It’s nights like this I question why I am doing this. And why I am not doing this. In some ways, performing and creating are what keeps me alive. Every time something bad happening to me or I have to overcome a challenge I think to myself, it’s okay because this is great songwriting material, or this will give me more to draw on as an actor. Sometimes though, the process of channeling those things is very difficult.

 

Tonight I was playing a character who had just experienced a breakup and was crying. At first I got really caught up on the crying and just wanting to make myself cry. Then I let that go and worked more on trying to achieve my objective in the scene. I was trying to bring my own life experiences in to channel the required emotions within myself but I couldn’t connect the two. It wasn’t like I didn’t have ample things to draw on, or that I didn’t understand what the character was going through.. but I could not bring those emotions into my body within the scene. I felt like I needed to sit there for hours preparing myself to have the intensity and emotions required. I tried getting ready on the train before coming to class but when I got in the room I was overcome with the desire to be social and talk with the class as we waited to get started. I also noticed that as the scene was going I would yawn every time I felt like some emotion was going to come through me. It was like my body was working against me…

 

I remember when I was a kid I was THE BEST at crying on cue. I could cry anytime. I used to play the game “graveyard” at daycare, where someone walks around tries to make everyone laugh… and I would always end the game weeping. I was a fairly lonely kid and didn’t really fit in with most groups (or at least this is how I remember it) so I would draw on that, but mainly I would remember scenes from movies that made me sad. I used to think of this scene from the Grinch where he looks really lonely and everyone is mean to him and I would cry every time….

 

 

I even considered calling my boyfriend and asking him to pretend to break up with me, or having a friend yell at me… Or finding a friend and asking the specifically to be really mean to me when I ask.. or getting into an argument with a stranger. How do I

I feel like I should invent my own method that works for me, but then people have been acting for centuries – why do I not just follow their training? All of the Grotowski and body training from my classes at SFU finally started to make sense… being aware of my body and how I am being… accessing my emotions… the effects that posture and position have on my emotional life… I finally started to get it… but when I think of the possibility of doing that for a year and a half I dread the idea. I don’t think I could handle being in this hard, tired, yawning place for that long. Where is the play? The make-believe?

I know that acting is an important part of my life but I am not sure how I want it to fit into my career and world.

Acting Workout: When can I “do” something?

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Today I had my first acting class downtown with Dolores Drake. I am in her class called “The Professional Acting Workout”. I got to be downtown at night which I love, but not the late kind of night (though I got to do that too) but the sunset time of night. The twilight. When the orange (the pretty kind, not like the CMYK kind) kissed the pavilions and the streetlights and the building’s edges.

I learned so much and I really had a positive experience! So many questions and answers.

 I was wondering about how to know when you “can do” something. For example, an accent. Or a special skill. Like playing guitar. When am I competent enough and proficient enough and confident enough to put something on my resume. I suppose I could think of acting as similar to other types of jobs this way. If I don’t want to be hired for 3D Modeling, then I won’t put it on my resumé. If I don’t feel comfortable playing clarinet for a casting director, I probably shouldn’t advertise that either. My teacher brought up some good point too about getting feedback and confidence. Do [insert skill here] for people and if your peers, friends, classmates, teachers, etc. compliment you on your work, then it is something you should promote. Do you believe yourself and feel confident?

COMEDIC SIDE NOTE:

That reminds me… during the winter break this year I went on the trip to Whistler with some friends and for some reason (I can’t recall if this was before or after the alcohol but neither would surprise me) I spent a large portion of the evening pretending to be Australian (because SO MANY people we met up there were from down under). I went to a cafe with an accent (where the owners were legit Australian), I bought lift passes, I went to a bar… I drank more alcohol. LOL.

I got to read three parts today in class:

  1. A short bit from Brent Butt’s CBC show “Hiccups”
  2. A scene from a TV movie where I worked at an eyeglass store.
  3. I am now working on the role of “Lynda” from Savage in Limbo by John Patrick Shanley

I really enjoyed the class for a few reasons. Everyone is very talented. People are working. One of the guys from the last class I attended was in a commercial I saw on TV  recently! Cool! (I still get a bit starstruck : P).

Also, I really like working with Film and Television material. I was reflecting on my time so far in the SFU Theatre Program and I noticed that often with self-directed scenes from plays I couldn’t “figure it out”. What does this line mean? How do we make the scene interesting? I needed a director or outside eye to help me put things together. Perhaps it is because of all the short film work I have done from a Director and DOP standpoint, but I really “got” the scene today. There were a couple times when the rest of the class was confused but I “got” it. That felt good, to be in on the joke. To understand.

I started to see myself in roles while rehearsing in class today. This has been a struggle with me in my ongoing journey wondering if/how I should pursue acting. I am a character. I fit into role. THAT COULD BE ME.

Overall, beautiful, wonderful day. Job well done. Mission accomplished. YES.

Am I Living In Integrity?

3D Star Map

I sit now, reflecting on myself. Am I living in integrity? I am being my word?

I have spent the beginning of this week doing vegan outreach at my university. With a fellow animal advocate we have had a Pay Per View booth (see: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/paid-per-view.aspx).

Across from our booth was the SFU Lifeline Club, the pro-life (and quick to mention anti-abortion) club on campus. When speaking with the students at the booth I really began to question myself on this issue. I began to question myself in general.

For many years I have not even admitted that I ever enjoyed the taste of meat. “It is the spices and seasons that made it taste good” I would say. Much like the defenses that carnist ideology brings up…

“to eat the body of another sentient being, we have to block our awareness and shut down our empathy.” – Melanie Joy via http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7vWbV9FPo_Q#!

I would deny and put up a “vegan wall” against animal products. I think in some ways I have to. I have to put up a wall and “imagine”, forcing myself to remember the torture and pain that animals experience, the ill-health effects of animal products, and the environmental degradation… it is a mental exercise (though admittedly, it has gotten easier and become more of an unconscious thing that I no longer have to work at as actively as when I first went vegan).

Though non-vegans also practice a similar tactic (I believe) to avoid thinking about where their meat comes from, I feel as if i am acting a bit defensively. Perhaps I am in denial about what “tastes good” to me in order to do what I think is right.

These are the places I feel out of integrity:
Fair Trade – When cocoa or cacao is an ingredient in a (vegan) product I am not always inquisitive as to the source. This also applies to coffee and tea. I don’t drink them very often but I am not always conscious about the source. I think this is an easy thing I can “correct” to try and live more in integrity.
Electronics – Though I have done research on the assembly production of electronics I have bought (I wrote a paper and researched the Foxcon suicides), I have only briefly heard about the minerals and potentially horrible conditions and harvesting of these minerals in third-world countries. This is an issue I have had trouble finding information about and do not have any clear solutions for.
Clothing – Though I have been buying only articles Made in Canada/the USA and well researched companies which do not use sweatshops overseas, I have not been buying exclusively organic cotton and materials free from pesticides and the pollution of conventional cotton production. I did another research project on this industry and I am very ashamed of the production process of many textile products. I suppose I could buy more second hand products. Hmm. I shall consider this further.
Driving – I have been getting rides and driving with friends so often lately. I miss my bicycle commuting, my bold action against the fossil fuel industry.
Abortion – As I outlines in my previous post, I have not given this issue adequate consideration.
Organics – Why am I “die-hard” about the consumption of animals when the use of pesticides and other chemicals is also destructive to the environment, bad for health and kills insects and other species.

Thinking about these issue, I also started to reflect on self-destructive behavior. Where did this idea come from? What is the difference between self-care and self-harm? So many questions…