Saturday, March 21, 2009

Funerals and spreading the vegan love

Hopefully I don’t sound (too) offensive when I say that funerals and other death-related gatherings (sorry already!) are the perfect venues for spreading the vegan love. I’m serious. At least in Filipino culture, death is a reason for families, distant families, close friends, and friends you last saw 10 years ago to come together. It’s also a reason to promote veganism and dispel the myths that [a] veganism doesn’t exist and [b] vegan food tastes like crap.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my lola / grandma passed away. While my mom and her siblings were busy fixing certificates, cremation, obituary notices, etc etc, my siblings, cousins and I took care of running the thing. Someone took care of the slideshow of old pictures and documentation of the wake; another took care of getting a priest to celebrate mass (and playing the organ during said mass); another took care of flowers and I-love-you-Lola poster.

My sister, cousin and I headed the food committee and I very well made sure there was always something vegan for EVERYONE. My lola’s wake lasted for 3 full days, with the 4th day being the interment in the afternoon. So for 3 days we had to provide food for merienda / afternoon snack and dinner, for about 50 people each day. It was like a 3-day party with unlimited food.

Tips on veganizing funeral / wake food:
  1. The easiest thing is provide vegetarian junk food. Roasted peanuts, oreos, Oishi’s Pods, Boy Bawang / corn nuts, salted potato chips, you get the idea.
  2. For coffee – none of that instant 3-in-1 stuff! Even though a non-dairy creamer claims to be non-dairy, that devil’s powder contains milk derivatives. Brewed coffee is best so vegans can take it black. If you must cater to drinkers who can’t let go of the white stuff, have the creamer on the side.
  3. Bake something and make sure it looks pretty. No one will care that it is, God forbid, vegan. If something looks good, people will eat. Then tell that person that the food he/she just ate is vegan and let them marvel at your ingenuity. I baked a coffee cake, banana bars, cookies, and mini cupcakes. Make sure to serve desserts in finger-friendly bite-sized forms. Slice the cake / bars into squares, make your cookies and cupcakes tiny.
  4. Make sure you are in good terms with siblings, cousins, and aunts / uncles so they can help spread the vegan love, whether or not they’re vegan. I love that my family is supportive with my vegan baking business. They endlessly pitched the stuff I made to their relatives and friends. My goal wasn’t to promote my business but to promote veganism awareness. Now people know what veganism means and that vegan chocolate cupcakes exist in this world!
  5. In terms of savory food – pasta salads are good. Fried tofu too. Vegetarian pizza.
  6. Hummus is your best friend. Serve these with tortilla chips.

Friday, March 20, 2009

So I jumped on the bandwagon...

and joined Flickr.

I was skeptical at first but my cousin who's really into photography convinced me to be more active. Honestly I joined a few months back just so I could comment on a few photos. I uploaded some of my food photographs a couple of days ago and am floored by the image quality! Seems like my desserts really come alive in Flickr!

Anyway, add me as your contact if you've got a Flickr account. My name is "kitchen activist".

Thanks for the push in the right direction, Rafa!

Oh yeah, just trivia. I love perusing Flickr for food porn and tattoos.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I ♥ Lola Amy

Dear Lola / Grandma Amy passed away yesterday (Saturday) at 5:15 pm. Almost everyone in my maternal clan were present praying around her as she breathed her last breath. It was a beautiful peaceful death -- I don't think she felt any pain. Her breath and heart rate just slowed down steadily.

This is a photo of her back in her younger days, probably in her 20's. She is 83 and pretty much has the same skin complexion with very few (practically non-existent) wrinkles, I kid you not.

She had a pretty rough time growing up. Her mom died from cancer when she was just a kid; her dad married a woman who could've been her older sister. Her stepmom ended up being an evil stepmother I'm sorry to say. She was destined for finishing school but was too hard headed to follow her parents. She ended up leaving home and supporting herself through college, which was pretty unheard of back in her days in the late '30s. She had only 1 sibling, my Lolo Ben, whom she took care of all this time.

She had such a passion for music. She was my piano teacher when I was a kid and she used to have 3 pianos and 1 organ in her house. She played beautiful music way until 2005 when she had a bad fall that made her bed-ridden up to yesterday.

Dear Lola Amy. I will miss you so. You were such a warm, fiery, heroic, and simple woman. I am proud to be your granddaughter. I'm going to miss our conversations. Rest well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My heart is breaking for the pigs :(

It's been a sad sad couple of weeks for the pigs over at Bulacan. I've blogged about the Ebola-infected pigs issue here and here. Six thousand pigs are set to be slaughtered all throughout this week. About 2,600 have been killed as of today (according to this article) and the government is targetting the killing spree at 1,000 a day. The killing's been slow and everyone's pressured to up the number of carcasses. I am so so sad, particularly because:

1. The pigs have not been given food and water for several days and prior to their deaths they have been crying and wailing all day and night. Farmers say they can't afford to feed them anymore (!!!). Government (Bureau of Animal Industry) says they're doing the best they can. PETA and PAWS have made their sentiments known that this is not the humane way for pigs to be treated before they die. In fact, it violates the Animal Welfare Act (Republic Act No. 8485). But of course, who cares about the animals right? They're just dumb creatures God created for us to abuse and eat.

2. The slaughter method of choice was to stun gun the pigs between the eyes to render them unconscious before piling their bodies into a pit to be burned. Naturally the stun gun wasn't 100% effective. Police men who were present had to shoot the pigs themselves -- several times at that, because their 1 shot wasn't enough. Can you imagine being conscious with a bullet through your head, while someone else is ripping your body apart with other bullets??

3. As if it were the pigs' fault that they had the Ebola virus! Not only are they living a miserable life of a food animal -- they were infected, starved, then killed in a most gruesome manner. No remorse from their farmers and National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc. at all, except that they lost out on sales.

Last Monday the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that pictures of the actual slaying would not come out in the papers; however pictures indeed came out in yesterday's and today's issues. One of the reasons for the photo ban was that PAWS did not want the public to see the slaughter. While I respect their decision of honoring the animals (I think this was their reason? I may be making this up. It could also be protecting the public from the gruesomeness), I have to disagree. I think the public SHOULD see the actual kill. They should be obligated to see it - after all, pigs would not have been raised if not for public consumption. We need to konw where our food comes from and how the consequences look like when we screw around with nature.

Holy hell, it's only Wednesday and the week's been so heavy with this news.

A little thought exercise for the omnivores out there -- how would you feel if it was your pet that got Ebola? How about a loved one? What if the government set out to exterminate your pet / loved one because of the disease?

#4 reason why I'm so sad: really, no one gives a shit about farm animals. Let's put purebred dogs and cats on pedestals, let's forget about the other animals. Pigs are smart creatures too (not that intelligence is a factor for one's compassion over animals) -- they are as smart as 2-year old kids! Let's not forget that they are sentient beings -- they feel pain and emotions just as we do.

One article pointed out that the some of the pigs mourned the loss of their compansions who had just been killed -- they trotted around the corpses and cried :(

NB Just something worth mentioning... some of the slaughterers suffered from hypertension after 1 day of killing. Surely being a slaughter house worker is the worst job ever... Why do people support an industry that is cruel to animals and to its workers?

Heavy heavy stuff.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The continuing Ebola-pig saga, more beached aquatic mammals, and a tarsier display ban

Photo from the Wall Street Journal

Poor pigs :( -- a continuation of my earlier post
Great. Not only did the piggery farmers in Bulacan rear their pigs in such disgusting conditions that their pigs tested positive for the Ebola-Reston virus (typically known to infect monkeys, but that’s a whole other vivisection story; researchers think that bats may have been the carriers) but now all 6,000 pigs are going to be massacred. FYI, 6,000 pigs = 0.05% of the total hog population of 13 million (of the country? Of Bulacan?), according to this news article from the 24th of February. Now the method of genocide is a little fuzzy. According to this article from the 27th, the pigs will be burned (whether alive or unconscious, I have no idea). According to this article from the 1st of March, the pigs will be stun-gunned (more humane than electric prods & co.) and then burned. The government actually considered the captive bolt pistol and electric prods before burning, but we all know how pigs can wake up from unconsciousness after being improperly stunned by those methods. WTF indeed. They call this catastrophe “a depopulation of the hogs”. They are targeting a slaughter of 1,000 pigs A DAY, "humanely".

And OMG, a brilliant quote from the secretary of the mayor of Pandi, Bulacan: “When WHO (World Health Organization) went here, they told us that for as long as the meat is cooked, no problem. But of course, sales in the market in the village where the farm is located has dropped.” By meat, we’re talking about the Ebola-infected meat of course.

According to the same article, “Workers affected by the depopulation will be assisted by the Department of Labor and Employment while financial support will be extended by the Department of Agriculture and the municipality of Pandi.” Great. Not only do our taxes pay for the cruel treatment of the pigs, these pigs got infected by these farmers, and we’re still paying for the massacre AND compensation for the workers.

Bulacan’s not the only province to be monitored for the Ebola-pigs. Other provinces in Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Pangasinan – watch out.

By the way don't expect any photos on the actual massacre... Media wasn't allowed in during the act. Of course not. The pork industry doesn't want to lose any more sales.

Photo from the Philippine Star

More whale / dolphin drama.
In other news, remember that weird dolphin phenomenon reported on the 11th of February where 200 to 400 melon-headed dolphins beached themselves on the coast of Bataan province? Luckily a hundred or so fishermen with BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources), the police and Coast Guard tried to lead them back to deeper waters. Village councilor Rodolfo Joson says, “It looked like they never wanted to leave. They looked sad.” Four dolphins were found dead, including 2 female adults of which 1 had a fetus – all from drowning.

The last time a large aquatic mammal strayed into shallow waters was in 1956 when a big whale beached and died 3 days later.

According to the article, “The dolphins could have strayed in the area due to an undersea quake that might have damaged their eardrums, or they might be following a sick or injured leader.” Another article said other causes could be dynamite fishing and large boat activities.

Reported earlier today, 194 pilot whales and several dolphins beached themselves on an island off southern Australia called King Island. About 144 of the whales have died while a race is ongoing to save the other 50. This latest beaching takes the total number of whales stranded around Tasmania in the past four months to nearly 400.

Photo from this German website

Let’s all hope for the best for the tarsiers.

Bohol province is usually known for its tarsiers, an endangered primate species known for their humongous eyes and elongated ankle bone. Unfortunately the tarsiers have been exploited by being displayed for tourism purposes. According to this article, the local government has placed a ban on the tarsiers’ commercialization. Let’s just hope the ordinance is properly enforced – local businessmen are lobbying for the scrapping of the ban.
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