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 : )

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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.

Pro-Thought: Jenni Thinks About Abortion

http://nationalpostnews.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/abortion.jpg

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/07/graphic-abortion-in-canada-almost-100000-documented-terminations-in-2009/

Yesterday I spoke with the SFU Lifeline Club, the pro-life (and quick to mention anti-abortion) club on campus. It really got me thinking about the issue of abortion. As a generally left-leaning person I had “decided” I was pro-choice without giving the issue much thought or learning about the issue. When speaking with the representative I noticed myself saying that, while I, MYSELF, do not think I would ever get an abortion (seen Blue Valentine? Ugh, makes me shutter just thinking about someone doing that to me)… (even if it meant dying due to medical complications), I would not want to tell other people what to do. I noticed myself thinking that there are bigger issues that deserve my attention than abortion. I noticed myself judging past abortion displays I had seen thinking, why must they be so “in your face”? I realized that those are the same things many people think about vegan outreach and animal advocacy. I realized that, much like in the factory farms where animals are murdered and tortured, many babies are aborted around the world every year. Why am I so willing to tell people how they should eat and speak out against animal suffering, when I am so scared to speak about abortion? Sometimes when I reflect on ongoing animal suffering I wish I could close all the supermarkets, stop all the slaughter houses, and make all the killing stop. I wish I could run through the streets turning people into vegans. I wish the world was different and I feel an agent pull to create this change.

The group told me that Canada is one of only a few countries in the world with no restrictions on abortion. This means that abortion can occur during any term of pregnancy. I was very shocked to hear this. I realized that I don’t know very much about abortion, on either side of the “debate”. I found myself stating that I do not know much about the potential health reasons someone would get an abortion, or any reasons for that matter.

Based on the (very little and non-researched) information I have right now I think that there should be restrictions on abortion. I do not think aborting late in the pregnancy is ok. I think that non-invasive (this might be the wrong word to use) “abortion” techniques at the very start of the abortion are not cruel (before the central nervous system has developed). I think that stem cell research is a positive thing when the cells are harvested from the umbilical cord or right after fertilization…. I think.

Reflecting on my ignorance on this matter I am asking myself the following questions:

• How do I decide what to devote my time to?

• Which causes are worthy of my voice?

I can’t possibly learn about ALL social issues in a large amount of detail (or can I? Hmmm). That being said i think I would like to know more about abortion. I am not really sure where to start…

Do you have any articles or books to recommend?

Join me in taking on the Welfare Food Challenge next week!

Raise the Rates has launched a new challenge, the Welfare Food Challenge. The challenge is to live for a week on the food that a single, able-bodied person on welfare would have – spending only $26. Sign up to take the Challenge below!

Of the $610 a month the BC government provides for a person on welfare, after paying for accommodation, bus tickets and cellphone (necessary to look for work), and basic hygiene only $109 remains for food – less than $26 for a week. There is nothing for clothes, haircuts, or any social life.

The challenge will start on October 16, World Food Day, and will finish on October 23. The week includes World Poverty Day on October 17th.

via Welfare Food Challenge

I am going to document what I eat each day, how much I end up spending, how I feel and anything else that comes up! I am staring mine a but late, likely on the 19th or 20th because I am volunteering at Vancouver We Day and will be up from 6AM to midnight for three or four days in a row so I won’t have time to plan my challenge until after the event.

I am going to try and do it low fat raw vegan style (fruit based) but am looking into the cost of organics vs conventional etc.

 

Food Stamps

Interested?

Check out their website:

http://welfarefoodchallenge.org/

Facebook Event:

http://www.facebook.com/events/394656377273971

From Palm Oil to Dairy

Cow head

CONTEXT: I am boycotting Palm Oil, and getting responses!

Today I e-mailed:

  • Dr.Bronner’s
  • Gultino
  • and sent a follow up message to Tofutti (info@toftti.com) who I have not recieved a reply from (I e-mailed them two weeks ago about their use of palm oil in their vegan ice cream sandwiches).
  • and stepped into new territory when I e-mailed Mediterranean Snacks (at info@mediterraneansnackfoods.com), initially to thank them for making palm oil and vegan Baked Lentil Chips, but ended up asking them to remove dairy from their lentil crackers!

Today I sent Mediterranean Snacks the following Message:

Dear Mediterranean Snacks,

My name is Jenni and I have been an avid consumer of your products since recently discovered that your Baked Lentil Chips are free from meat, dairy, egg and gluten products! It really means a lot to me that you produce products which support a plant-based lifestyle.

I previously had avoided purchasing or consuming Mediterranean Snack brand products because your Lentil Crackers contain Milk Protein and Milk Cream.

In addition to being a common allergen, dairy products promote the torture and suffering of hundreds of cows per minute. PETA’s page on the dairy industry says…

“Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their young. In order to force the animals to continue giving milk, factory farm operators typically impregnate them using artificial insemination every year. Calves are generally taken from their mothers within a day of being born—males are destined for veal crates or barren lots where they will be fattened for beef, and females are sentenced to the same fate as their mothers.
After their calves are taken away from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines. These cows are genetically manipulated, artificially inseminated, and often drugged to force them to produce about four and a half times as much milk as they naturally would to feed their calves.
Animals are often dosed with bovine growth hormone (BGH), which contributes to a painful inflammation of the udder known as “mastitis.” (BGH is used widely in the U.S. but has been banned in Europe and Canada because of concerns over human health and animal welfare.) According to the industry’s own figures, between 30 and 50 percent of dairy cows suffer from mastitis, an extremely painful condition.
A cow’s natural lifespan is about 25 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only four or five years. An industry study reports that by the time they are killed, nearly 40 percent of dairy cows are lame because of the intensive confinement, the filth, and the strain of being almost constantly pregnant and giving milk. Dairy cows’ bodies are turned into soup, companion animal food, or low-grade hamburger meat because their bodies are too “spent” to be used for anything else.
Male calves—”byproducts” of the dairy industry—are generally taken from their mothers when they are less than 1 day old. Many are shipped off to barren, filthy feedlots to await slaughter. Others are kept in dark, tiny crates where they are kept almost completely immobilized so that their flesh stays tender. In order to make their flesh white, the calves are fed a liquid diet that is low in iron and has little nutritive value. This heinous treatment makes the calves ill, and they frequently suffer from anemia, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
Frightened, sick, and alone, these calves are killed after only a few months of life so that their flesh can be sold as veal. All adult and baby cows, whether raised for their flesh or their milk, are eventually shipped to a slaughterhouse and killed. ” (via http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/dairy-industry.aspx)I would like to respectfully request that you eliminate the use of dairy in your products. I would happily pay more for an alternative that does less damage to animals and the environment. Can you tell me about how Mediterranean Snacks is improving the lives of dairy cows?

I appreciate your attention to this matter and I look forward to enjoying dairy-free products from you in the future.

This was my first time e-mail a company to ask them to stop using dairy products but I am excited to continue writing letters!

Are You Eating Human Hair or Duck Feathers?

Processed Foods

Max made us vegan pizza today! We used palm-free daiya cheese. The crust came from Max’s freezer and after eating I realized I didn’t recognize some of the ingredients. Today I called Molinaro’s Fine Italian Foods to ask them about some of their ingredients. One of their pizza crusts which contained:

SUGAR: I want to know if it was processed through Bone Char.

L-CYSTINE: I had never heard of this before but according to Wikipedia it is a semi-essential amino acid. Wikipedia also said IT USED TO BE MADE FROM HUMAN HAIR! And now it is mostly made from Duck Feather! I really do not want to eat that. I think it can also come from peppers and other plants but I am really not sure. Help! This website also had some info.

CALCIUM PROPIONATE: Looks to be a preservative that can sometimes be cultured in whey. Again, it was challenging for me to find clear information.

They had already left for the day so I left them a message. I will report back with more info soon!

Do you know anything about these ingredients? Leave a message in comments if you have vital information!

Jenni’s Vindictuve Vegan Rap (It’s Annotated)

Chicken slaughter

Right now I am two weeks away from finishing my main summer course: The Semester in Dialogue, topic: Sustainable Food Systems. I have been very sad and frustrated lately engaging so frequently with what is happening to animals. We have to write a weekly reflection so last week I wrote this vindictive and annotated rap. Enjoy.

With what feeds us

There is no feedback loop

Hundred of boys and girls are raised on slop:

Oliver, J. (2010). Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food [TED Talk]. TED. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html

and stoop down

Five people drowned in poop:

Foer, J. (2009). Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 177

Pig soup, 100,000 feet wide

or more

and what’s in store?

Not just stool in a pool but stillborns and drool

And blood and hair and piss is in there

But please, don’t mention that to me

I don’t want to know where the body I eat could be from

Or where it goes

Nobody knows

how many million lives are taken

And for what?

Our health is at stake and

Fulkerson, L [dir.]. (2011). Forks Over Knives [Film]. USA: Monica Beach Media.

For steak we make such sacrifice

Workers injured and jarred on the line

Foer, J. (2009). Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 132

That never stops

As the slaughterers never stop

To think

Or if they do

they keep on buying in

To stories about protein and taurine

Making them strong

So many sing along

With the sad songs of

Charbroiled or tin foiled

Milk is spoiled

Cows are coiled and branded

Castrated after birth

Balls chopped off

Tails ripped, horns merc-i-o-s-ly

Ronald McDonald you can come at me

Please leave the kids alone

They have a right to know

The taste of fresh

A burger is not the best

Way to educate a generation

About food

To teach them

Respect, now don’t be rude

Eat your dinner

Sing a song for the winners

But don’t mourn the deaths of

Animals in the depths

Of the factory that they call a farm

They facility where they shit and are born

Baby chicks ground up at birth

Mercy for animals. (2009). Undercover Investigation at Hy-Line Hatchery [Video Footage]. Retrieved via: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JJ–faib7to

The cost off eggs might bankrupt your purse

If we value life like we value what we like

If it “tastes good” that doesn’t make it right

And I vow to stop it with all my might

These babies being taken on their first night

Michael Ableman, Personal communication, May 11, 2012.

Boys in the grinder

Mercy for animals. (2009). Undercover Investigation at Hy-Line Hatchery [Video Footage]. Retrieved via: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JJ–faib7to

Girls stay behind and lay eggs for a few years

Then we’ll chop of your head and eat you with a beer

After we bleed you out

Boil you down

Pump you with water, salt and

Foer, J. (2009). Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 131

Ship you round

Wish I knew how it started

Wish I knew why

The whole thing

Makes me cry

I pray at night

For the souls who can’t fight

For those who “don’t know what they do”

Luke 23:34, New American Standard Bible, 1995

In that respect Jesus knew a thing or two

Father give us forgiveness

Mother please don’t grieve for us

Escape! It may be the only way

For us to leave this place

And have our space

To roam free

The animals and me

If we escape through a fence or a rope in a tree

The Peace Abby. (2011). Emily the Sacred Cow. Massachusetts: The Peace Abby. Retrieved from: http://www.peaceabbey.org/tour-guide/emily-the-cow/

We’ll go perhaps to a kinder place

No guarantee but at least we can be

How, and Who we want to

Bees, give us your honey from your hive

It can infect our babies but keeps adults alive

Lewis, N. (2010). Why Honey is Not Vegan. Vegetus. Retrieved from: http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm

Right?

Spoonful every night

It’s digested and spit up fifty times

Lewis, N. (2010). Why Honey is Not Vegan. Vegetus. Retrieved from: http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm

And to make your home we’ll ship you a pound at a time

Mark Winston, personal communication, June 1, 2012.

Mr.honey bee

Who came from overseas

Lewis, N. (2010). Why Honey is Not Vegan. Vegetus. Retrieved from: http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm

All for that tasty treat for me

So I ask

who are the animals?

The ones we force to be cannibals

Eating ground flesh and bone from other mammals

PETA. (2010). Drowning, Cannibalization, and Other Reasons Not to Dissect

. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved from: http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2010/10/11/drowning-cannibalization-and-other-reasons-not-to-dissect.aspx

born in crates

Sherrow, M. (2011). Pigs suffer while Smithfield takes its time. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved from: http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2011/12/09/pigs-suffer-while-smithfield-takes-its-sweet-time.aspx

beat with a cane

bred together

as we chose

and they lose

their ability to

copulate

Foer, J. (2009). Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 113

the turkeys I mean

but not the humans consuming

meet your meat

instead choose something sweet

that doesn’t cost a life

with a slip or a knife

or a baby

or give diabetes to some old lady

Fulkerson, L [dir.]. (2011). Forks Over Knives [Film]. USA: Monica Beach Media.

make a choice

use your voice

cause the producers tell me

it’s supply and demand

Mark Robbins, personal communication, May 31, 2012.

but i’m not asking

so I want to know what can

I do

other than refuse

and ask you

to join me to

to stop this war

this holocaust

by beasts

who want something to wear or eat

don’t be one more

make a choice at the store

please don’t tell me

that you’re an omnivore

and that this is the only way

‘cause its sick

with a twist

and if you’d look at the pics

PETA. (2012). Graphic. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved from: http://www.peta.org/tv/videos/graphic/default.aspx

I bet you’d agree

that this policy

is better left in the past

if we want the Earth to last

before it’s filled up with smoke

and greenhouse gas

passed

by cows and pigs by hundred thousands

millions

Foer, J. (2009). Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 43

each year

multiplied by artificial insemination dear

DeJarnette, M. and Nebel, R. (n.d.) A.I. Technique in Cattle. Select Reproductive Solutions. Retrieved from: http://www.selectsires.com/resources/fertilitydocs/ai_technique_cattle.pdf

if I put my hand up your rear

would you say that nature’s right is here?

and lets be clear

grass fed saves no steer

just open the door

and you think that’s enough for

a life given in exchange

hung upside down on a rack

deranged

kicking and screaming

after a bolt to the brain

Foer, J. (2009). Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 226

it might miss the skull and leave him in pain

but that’s okay

that’s just the way

we feed the world today

the price we pay

for some bacon and a burger, kay?

it’s easy, hey

fast food

for the mood

of the high school brood

come on dude

you can choose your food

pick your fate

make your name

live in honor and stop the pain.

Palm Oil Update – Vegan Win?

Yesterday I wrote several companies asking them to stop using Palm Oil in their products and I have already received replies!

Daiya Foods published this page on their current stand point. I am excited to continue to enjoy Daiya Shreds on occasion.

Earth Balance has this page. And a white paper.

And So Delicious e-mailed me saying their (vegan) chocolate ice creme bar has phased out Palm Oil. Their (vegan) ice creme sandwich wafers still contain palm oil, however it is not sourced from Indonesia, and the suppliers are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)…

According to their website…

In response to the urgent and pressing global call for sustainably produced palm oil, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders.

The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with a satellite offi¬ce in Jakarta.

RSPO is a not-for-profit association that unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry – oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs – to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

Based on the replies I have received I feel comfortable consuming products that contain palm oil from these companies. I don’t eat these things very often and I was very touched that they all replied to me so personally and so quickly. I plan to keep writing to companies when I see Palm Oil listed on their ingredients list in the future. Goooo vegan!

I am Protesting Palm Oil

This week I committed to boycotting Palm Oil.

The following websites have great information about why and how we can and must reduce palm oil consumption: Life Without Palm Oil, Liberation BC, Orangutan Protection, Say No To Palm Oil.

In short…

Up to a hundred species are now becoming extinct every day (Rainforest Rescue)
Did you know that  the production of palm oil is one of the main drivers of deforestation,  as vast tracts of rainforest are daily cleared to make way for palm plantations?
 Far from being old hat, protection of the rainforest is now critical.
In Indonesia, it is estimated that 98% of the forest there will be gone in nine years and that orang utans will have become extinct in the wild. Now, fewer than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild
Deforestation also destroys the lives of tribal peoples and worsens climate change dramatically, whereas when left, undisturbed tropical forests are absorbing nearly a third of all CO2 emissions.
 Palm oil is extracted from the fruit of the palm plants (not to be confused with coconut palms) and it is now in half of supermarket products.It is even used in vegan products. including cakes, chocolate, soaps, make-up etc.The Vegetarian Society has this month agreed to bring up the palm issue with its manufacturers. – Via

Today I wrote to the following companies respectfully requesting that they eliminate the use of Palm Oil (often labelled as Palm Fruit Oil) in their products:

Here is an example of a letter I sent:

Dear BLANK,

My name is Jenni and I have been an avid consumer of your products since I became vegan three years ago. It really means a lot to me that you produce products which support a plant-based lifestyle. I ahve especially enjoyed your delicious BLANK product.

I recently learned that the production of palm oil causes much damage to the environment and the habitats of many animals in Indonesia. Habitat destruction is a major threat to the Orangutan population. I was deeply moved by this news. I was very disappointed to see palm oil listed on the ingredients of PRODUCT NAME. I have resolved to boycott palm oil and sadly, for the time being, I am not able to allow myself to purchase or consume your products.
I would like to respectfully request that you eliminate the use of palm oil in your products. I would happily pay more for an alternative that does less damage to the Earth.  I appreciate your attention to this matter and I look forward to enjoying palm oil free products from you in the future.

Mahalo!
Jenni Rempel

If I get any responces I will report about them here, and I will also e-mail them to sw@naturealert.org

Yay animals!

The Fault in our Cancer

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The Fault in our Stars.

Gosh, even the name of this book is beautiful. I typed it several times to quote my favourite passages into Tumblr and never got tired of entering those five gorgeous words into my laptop. I was both moved and bothered by this book.

Moved because of the witty banter, the eloquent wordplay and the finely crafted innocent romance that drew far too many parallels to my own life like all John Green novels I have read. I related to TFioS so much. In some ways it was like my life story. In others it was dramatically different.

Bothered because much like 50/50 (the movie where Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character has cancer), it completely disregarded any alternative cancer treatments or therapies. Though Hazel, the protagonist in TFioS, was a vegetarian, throughout most of the novel she ate SAD (Standard American Diet) meals of pizza, mac & cheese and other dishes slathered in animal fat.

Movies like forks over knives and my own research into alternative therapy have convinced me that there are other ways to deal with disease. I wish

Though I think movies like 50/50 and books like TFioS likely paint a very accurate picture of life as a conventional cancer patient, I can’t help but want the best for the characters, to see Hazel heal and grow old. I want her to eat plants, stop taking medication and having tubes put in and out of her… I think it is all very unnatural (Google G-Tube to see what I mean) and I wish that no one had to subject themselves to that.

I am a bit scared to post this and write about my thoughts on the cancer topic… I may not be the best person to write about how we should treat cancer, after-all I have never had cancer and am not a nutritionalist or a doctor, however I have seen the differences in my own health. When I was in grade 11 I had chronic bronchitis and was constantly sick. I lived on antibiotics and I was SO TRIED ALL THE TIME. I was depressed and had no energy. And congested, couldn’t sleep. Awful. But since then I have switched to a compassion-based lifestyle and a plant-based (vegan, now mostly raw vegan) diet and I cannot express how much of a differences these changes have made and continue to make for my quality of life. I have also noticed that some people get very defensive and very upset when I mention alternative treatment and therapies. My intention in sharing these thoughts is not to upset anyone, but rather to communicate my wish for the world to be healthy and nourished. And I think we can do it… an apple a day (but not in a twilight way.. literary joke haha).