What is "Selective Compassion"?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Ah yes, the dreaded "V-Word."  I'm talking about Vegan.

The word itself elicits all kinds of stereotypes, groans, and eye-rolls. "Vegans think they're better than everyone who eats mean." "Vegans are tree-hugging hippies."  "Vegans are preachy and shove their beliefs down everyone's throat!"  Some of us may be "tree-hugging hippies" (who cares?) and some vegans are undoubtedly preachy which may have turned you, dear reader, off at some point.  But (most) vegans do not think they are better than anyone, and that's honestly kind of the point.

Yes, I'm going to be exploring aspects of vegan living and my beliefs on how that pertains to non-meat eaters and meat eaters alike, and you may not like what I have so say. But this is, above all, a vegan and plant-based lifestyle blog and it's going to come up at some point.

I have written about my choices to live a plant-based lifestyle, and I have been meat free for 2 years now, and I recently gave up the last of my dairy-consuming ways, and I often talk about how I've never felt better (honestly, it was the best decision I've ever made).  I've spoken a lot about my plant-based philosophy (which you can read here) and what that means to me.  But I would like to examine a particular reaction I get from meat-eaters when they sniff out that I don't eat meat.  It usually comes up if someone buys me a gift that doesn't align with my values, or if they offer to take me to a meal.  If it's a gift, I say thank you and accept it and simply find someone who isn't vegan to take it off my hands. If it's an offer for a meal, I simply mention I'm vegan and hope the convo stops there. However, it rarely does.  All of a sudden I'm asked a laundry list of questions about my lifestyle, why I chose this, where I get my protein, musings about why animals were put on this earth and what our ancient ancestors ate.  I would really love it if I could decline certain foods without being put on the spot...but whatever. I'll answer your questions politely and if I don't feel like answering I'll tell you it's a conversation for another time (politely, of course).

One thing that often baffles (and honestly frustrates) me, is the meat-eater response to my chosen diet and lifestyle that includes something called "selective compassion."  Selective compassion is when someone claims to be an animal lover, to love their cats and dogs and other pets, to be saddened when we see trophy hunter photos of dead lions on the news, when whales are put in captivity... But this compassion doesn't extend animals that are reserved for being "food."  Essentially, there are "food" animals and "not food" animals.  This is one of the main reasons why I have given up meat and dairy, and consume only cruelty free products and goods in my home. Forgive me for being blunt and graphic, but I simply do not believe that some living creatures are for killing and some are not.

By expressing this belief, I often times am met with great defensiveness of people trying to justify their choices to me, and also of course more groans and eye rolls.  But where does this disconnect come from?  It probably is so ingrained in us as humans to see some animals as food and some as worthy companions because that's how it has been for thousands of years.  When humans began cultivating crops and raising animals for meat, it was born from survival.  They reserved some animals, like dogs, as helpers with the animals they slaughtered for food.  However, I believe that we are now living in 2018 and don't have to rely on animals for food.

Another belief is that if you have a lot of pets and think some animals are cute and cuddly and could never imagine hurting your dog, that you are an animal lover.  I fail to see this logic as well, to be honest.  If you love animals, you love all animals. If you love all animals you don't want to see them suffer. If you don't want to see them suffer, you do not support the killing of them for meat and the inhuman treatment of them for dairy.  This is what I believe.  Animals that are sold for meat and kept in awful conditions, and animals that are reserved for the dairy industry are kept in equally terrible conditions and subjected to artificial insemination regularly and separation from their newborns, also regularly. This is not something you would support having done to animals if you love them, any of them. At all. Also, even animals that are "free range" and slaughtered on privately owned farms instead of factory farms, are still not slaughtered "humanely."  Is there a way to kill something humanely...?

All of this is selective compassion.

Once I decided not to separate animals into categories, I gave up consuming animal products.  I could no longer see a tasty burger on my plate for anything other than a poor animal who did not live a great life, and met their end so I could have 10 minutes of happiness and not appreciate it.

I'm not meaning to preach or to sit on a high horse (get it, horse...? ha.).  I merely want to reflect on my own choices, share those choices with others, and offer my help to anyone who is interested in becoming meat free.  That's the whole reason I started this blog!

Also, please remember, whether you order the veggie burger or regular burger, I would never think less of you or think you're a terrible person. We simply disagree about certain lifestyle choices. Everyone is different, and that's what makes the world great.

Thanks for letting me share,

Maye Musk - Anti-Anti-Aging Inspiration

Thursday, March 15, 2018
Photo courtesy Into the Gloss
My grandmother was born in 1927, and passed just last month at 90 years old (I'm still reeling from this, to be honest. It's been hard). She was beautiful in her youth and honestly, she has remained just as beautiful until her very last days.  She never once had any kind of filler, surgery, and followed a very French beauty regime that was always super simple and never over complicated by a million products.  She was not afraid of her aging body or face that I was aware of, and this has inspired me to be the same way.

Here's a little anecdote:
I'm 33 years old and I was always naturally super thin and youthful looking.  In your early thirties, no matter who you are or how highly you think of yourself, your body begins to change.  I have gained 20 pounds the past couple years (cooking good food will often to that....) and I actually have to use a friggin' night cream.  I panicked when the reality of this first set in.  I bought a Groupon for Botox, went to the doctor to check my thyroid, and refused to look at myself in the mirror naked (not that I spend a lot of time doing this anyway...). I checked the scale every morning. Yup, still 135 lbs. See, there is NOTHING wrong with gaining weight, or being 135 lbs. I just had grown up with and gotten used to my 110 lb. frame and my skin that never needed moisturizer.  I was aging, and I was terrified of it.

Women are taught to be terrified of getting older.  Products are always marked towards getting younger-looking skin and the words "anti-aging" are plastered all over magazines and skin products and it's gross.  Finally one day, I realized who gives a shit if I'm getting older? That's awesome! I've graduated my master's program with an MFA, I manage an art gallery in hollywood, I have a rad apartment in WeHo...all things that I never had in my youth.  Getting older is awesome!  Mere weeks after I purchased that Groupon for Botox, I begged Groupon for my money back (like, literally begged). I began wearing less makeup and being proud of my new light wrinkling around my eyes, because that just means that I've lived a happy life.  I made an appointment to return my hair to its natural color, so I can grow out my grays gracefully (my hair went gray at 23 years old, I've never seen it in it's full glory).

Last summer I picked up a copy of Allure with one of my favorites, Helen Mirren, on the COVER.  Helen Mirren, an accomplished actress and 72 years old, was on the cover of a magazine that boasts itself as the "beauty authority."  In this same issue, the magazine announced that it would stop using the term "anti-aging."  That's big.  Once a woman hits 30, people start talking about her in a different way.  They start saying she looks good "for her age," and they start lying to you and saying how young you look.  People will frequently talk about my age and say "wow you don't look 33!" but wait...what's wrong with a woman looking her age? What the hell am I supposed to look like at 33? Why is looking younger than your age some kind of accomplishment? Let me tell you something - it's not.

Aside from my grandmother and Helen Mirren, I've recently become a fan of Elon Musk's mother, Maye.  Maye Musk is 70 years old and has been a model for 50 years.  She has a campaign with Cover Girl and not only is she gorgeous, she's smart as heck.  She's a dietitian, which you need a degree for (half of all dietitians have graduate degrees).  She rocks her silver hair with a grace that is otherworldy, and puts to rest the notion that women have to give up red lipstick at a "certain age."

Listen, I'm not saying you have to give up your retinol or skimp on your nightly skincare routine (PLEASE take of your makeup before you go to bed and remember sunscreen in the morning...). Even Maye suggests going to the dermatologist regularly, especially after 60.  But she also says that she shops for beauty products at Ralph's in Los Angeles...

Finally, at age 33 I'm ready to accept my imperfect and juuuuuust beginning to wrinkle skin, my early 30's weight gain, my greying hair, and most importantly my accomplishments and wisdom that only come with age.  Americans treasure youth and put it on a pedestal, but I get happier the older I get, and I can't wait to see what's in store and I'm ready to see laugh lines and grandchildren...you know, down the line.

Patates au Vin - a la Julia Child

Monday, March 12, 2018

It's no secret I'm kind of a Francophile.  I love French style, French food, and French fashion (hello Mademoiselle Chanel!). I, however, do not speak a lick of French except ballet terms and food terms, and even then my accent is questionable at best.  Anyway....
I watched "Julie & Julia" a couple months ago, and I'm obsessed with Amy Adams and this movie gave me the inspiration I needed at the time to keep blogging AND keep cooking.  Sometimes it's hard to keep going when you see so many others blogging and it's easy to feel like no one is out there reading your stuff.  But I just kind of realized I didn't care, and that I like doing this and I like sharing my food.  I'm rambling again... So I watched that movie and it inspired me to adapt more French recipes to being vegan friendly.  And you know what? I'm always surprised at how easy it is.  This recipe is hearty and filling without being heavy.  It's also super easy and tastes really fancy, which is kind of what I always strive for.

**Oddly enough, I was inspired to make this specific dish because of another Amy Adams movie, "Leap Year," that takes place in Ireland, not France. It's a charming flick, give it a go.
So here you go, bon appetit!

2 potatoes, peeled and rough cut into wedges
1 carrot, peeled and rough cut into wedges
1 onion, roughly chopped
oz. crimini mushrooms, quartered
a handful of fresh thyme
2 or 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I like garlic, so I used 3)
3/4 cup merlot
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth (you can use my recipe, here!)
1 tbsp all purpose flour (for potatoes)
1 tsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika

Heat your olive oil in a large pan, and season your potato wedges with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Roll em around in the flour.  Drop those suckers into the oil and fry em up (lightly). Use tongs to remove and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.  In the same pan, add in garlic and onions, then carrots and mushrooms.  Allow the veggies to cook so the flavors mingle and they get a little tender, then add in the thyme and a pinch of salt.  Sprinkle in the rest of the flour and stir so that everything is well coated, then add in the wine and broth and the potatoes you removed earlier.  The sauce should thicken up. Cover and simmer. Once the vegetables have cooked through, plate and serve.  Tastes great with a french baguette and garnished with thyme.  You can also serve over noodles or rice.

Et Voila!

Southern Peach Pie...with a kick.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Let me just start by saying, I am no baker.  Not by any means.  I won't even pretend.  I'm awful at it. 
With that being said, this recipe is so simple even I managed to make an incredibly delicious peach pie, that was rustic and fancy all at the same time.  It was the perfect mix of modern and traditional Southern cooking, and the reason being is my secret ingredient...What is it? Keep reading!

I did not grow up in the South, but I did grow up with the South.  My dad was born in Atlanta, and my grandparents were both born and raised there.  When I was 3, my grandparents and my uncle moved back to Georgia to the quaint little town my grandma grew up in and I visited there every year for nearly 30 years. I have been there in the (sometimes miserable) summer, Christmas one year, Thanksgiving the first few times, I even went for my spring break in college (not the typical spring break wooooooo vacation...). So I am not "Southern" per se, but I do have a close kinship with the South and feel a connection there.  I also feel a connection to Southern food, something that many people around me figured I would have to just give up when I gave up animal products.  That couldn't have been more wrong!  In the past few months I have flexed my Southern Cooking muscles and made dirty rice, black eyed peas with "bacon," collard greens, this pie, and even bouillabaisse.  What?! Yes, bouillabaisse (I'll share this soon...).  I'm going to be taking a crack at Brunswick Stew here pretty soon too...

So anyway, I'm rambling which I tend to do. This pie is delicious, fresh-tasting, and super simple.  It has a great rustic look to it and a little bite, and I'm going to be making this all summer long.

Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup butter
1/3 cup soy milk
1/3 cup water
flour for dusting your rolling surface
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine dry ingredients and whisk.  Fold in the butter and mix until mealy.  Stir in your soy milk and water and mix until dough forms (honestly, I just use my hands).  Separate dough into two halves, and dust your surface with flour.  Roll out one half of the dough and place in a pie dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

4 peaches, roughly diced
1/3 cup soy milk
1/3 cup sugar 1/2 tsp cayenne (this is your secret ingredient...it really makes a difference!)1/2 tsp cinnamon1/3 cup lemon juice2 tsp vanilla extract1/4 cup, butter softened (I just leave it out while I assemble everything else)

In a big bowl, basically mix all this stuff together and stir until well combined.
Pour into the baked crust, top with chunks of butter, and weave in the remaining pie crust on top.  Get creative with your crust on the top!!!

Bake for another 50 minutes or so, and you're all set.  Just make sure that the crust on top is golden brown and your filling is heated through.
Et Voila!

The Demure 1960's Style of Elisa Esposito in Guillermo Del Toro's "The Shape of Water"

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Unless you have been living your life firmly under a mossy rock, or you have an innate aversion to pure joy, you know all about Guillermo Del Toro's gorgeous Sci Fi/Fantasy, socially conscious love story, "The Shape of Water."  I was bad this year and didn't see almost ANY of the films nominated for Best Picture (I think the only one I saw was Get Out, which I loved), even though normally I usually make it a point to see them all before the ceremony.  I know, some people like to chortle and pronounce their varying levels of distaste for all things popular and "Hollywood Elite," but I love movies and it's really just as simple as that.  I have been an avid movie lover since I first saw Judy Garland belt out "Over the Rainbow," and was captivated by all things film every since.  I am not an actor (crippling social anxiety and fear of being bad at it has stopped me), and I actually have nothing to do with film on a professional level at all, but that can't stop you from loving something or even knowing a lot about something.  Plus, I live literally 2 blocks from the theater that hosts the Oscars and my boyfriend makes horror movies...so you could say I'm a bit involved in a way.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My father's mother is one of the most influential people in my life.  A few weeks ago, we got some news that would shake the foundation of everything we know.  She was in the hospital and the doctors didn't think she would pull through.  All of us, my dad and my mom, my sister, me and Alex, we all dropped everything to go there and be with her.  She miraculous has gotten much better, but she turned 90 years old in December and unfortunately, will never be completely back to her old self.  I've been struggling with this.  I am so thankful that she is so stubborn and hung on, but it has really made me reflect on my own life, and if what I'm doing will be that important to someone.  But this isn't about me, this is about her.

My grandmother remains the most beautiful woman I have ever seen up close. She has an effortless beauty, that seemed otherworldly, and a grace that would have made Jackie Kennedy envious.  Every photo of her looks like a photo of an old Hollywood movie star.  Both my sister and I have her High School Senior portrait framed in our homes.

She is also the kindest soul everyone who has met her has ever known.  She is gentle and understanding, and speaks with a soft Southern voice that always comforted you no matter what was happening around you. I remember always feeling like she was on my side, which is something I can rarely say about anyone.  She is also superbly witty, hilarious, stubborn as hell, and her yearbook quote was "A Good Time, All the Time."

My earliest memories involve her.  I was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz as a child, and she took me to the mall to buy me red glitter Mary-Jane shoes.  I was three-years-old, but I can remember walking through the mall with those shoes on, holding her hand, and thinking even then that only someone really special who loved me so much would do a thing for me like that. It was so small, but so big.  

She watched me while my mom was at work when I was a toddler.  She let me choose where we ate for lunch when we went out, even though I always ordered a cheeseburger. She would give me orange tic-tacs when I was cranky and called them "Sweet Pills." They always worked.  Once, I was in a plastic kiddie pool in her backyard and complained that the water was too cold.  She brought a giant soup pot full of hot water from the kitchen to warm it up.

I remember when she moved back to Georgia, and she told me they were going.  I asked her when she was coming back, and it must have been hard for her to explain that they wouldn't be.  I remember the first time my family went to visit and I was four-years-old, and I was always so excited to see her.

She always planned little trips for us when we went to visit.  We went to the beach at Savannah, we went to northern Georgia to the mountains and stayed in a cabin, and even when we just stayed at her house it seemed like there was always a party.  I have never felt more special.  She always cooked elaborate meals and cared so much about the presentation.  She would put everything in a beautiful serving dish and set it on the sideboard in the dining room.  She was a born entertainer and hostess.

When she was a small child, she had a newspaper with her best friend that they wrote in the basement.  The paper would document gossip from the neighborhood, like who got in a bicycle crash and who won hopscotch.  She was on the basketball team in high school, and earned a graduate degree in social work.

My head is filled with memories of her, but right now all I can do is think about how much I love her and how I always know she loves me back.