Oedipus, Starring... Vegetables? A Short Film in HD

Oedipus ...starring vegetables (2004) short film in HD from jason wishnow on Vimeo.

This is so cute! I'm wondering if we should re-shoot all movies in a vegetable version? I love that broccoli is king because, let's face it, he rules, but the little baby cauliflowers romping around are my favorite!

Thank you, Dan, for sharing this with me!

Vegan Rant

May I have a few -- just a few -- rows to throw a tiny vegan rant out there? Pretty please? :)

I'm usually thoughtful about my posts, but tonight I want to say something that's not elaborate or even thought-provoking. It'd just help me get a huge weight off my chest.

When I first started my vegan diet, I also started experiencing something that I thought would go away in time: people questioning everything I eat. Only it hasn't gone away six months later... and it's starting to wear me out.

When they see me with a scrumptious slice of decadent chocolate cake smothered with whip-cream, "That's not vegan! What is that?! Are you allowed to eat that?" So I explain where I got the cake and what's in it and that it is, in fact, vegan. When they see me with a Yumm Bowl, "Doesn't that have sour cream in it??" No, I asked for it vegan, without cheese or sour cream. "Popcorn?! That's made with butter!" No, if you read the label of this particular bag, it's made with vegetable oil. "A latte?? YOU can drink a latte?" Yes, it's made with soy milk.

This is not on occasion. This is every day. Several times a day.

Unless I'm munchin' on carrots or sprouts, any cooked food I eat is under question.

In a couple of instances, I've had to put down what I was eating and stop eating all together during lunches because people insisted so much that what I was eating was not vegan, that I felt like some sort of criminal that was about to get stoned ... and since it didn't have labels on it, I couldn't prove them wrong.

{The opposite happens if we go out somewhere where they want to eat :) Then they try to convince me that nearly anything on the menu is made without animal products just so I'd eat and they wouldn't feel guilty about eating in front of me while I'm not.}

I really appreciate people looking after me, but I don't understand why this particular diet -- the vegan diet -- gets so much negative attention. Most other people I know are on some kind of diet. Yet, I could never bring myself to say, "Hold it right there. Are those fat-free crackers?" "Hey, is that Coke sugar-free?" "How do you expect to lose weight if you're eating fried chicken?" "Is that the second sandwich you've had today?"

Should I?

Maybe this is people's way of caring for me and I got it all wrong. I could be wrong. But I wish everyone knew that I'm trying to make a difference, not to make anyone else feel bad about their choices.  So, please, don't make me feel bad about mine :)

End of rant. Thank you for listening... and for putting up with more than a "few" lines of mine ;)

Hope you're all having a wonderful week!

Vegan with Oral Piercing

Am I actually going to write about this?

I am, yes. And that is because now I realize how unprepared I was when I went in to get my lip pierced, or because some cool discoveries have come out of my subsequent struggle.

Thursday, Sept. 30th we had some pretty fab DJs grace one of our music venues here in Eugene: MiM0SA (California),  MartyParty (New York), and EOTO (Colorado). It was an explosive show that brought out Eugene's finest dwellers for a night to remember. (I actually spent most of the night outside, on the street, chatting up friends and strangers alike, because it was too hot and sweaty inside, but this is an entirely different topic; the music was unbelievably good regardless.) It was also the night I got my lower lip pierced. Two hours before the show, I walked into High Priestess knowing it was "now or never." I laid down and grabbed a hold of the black plastic, cushiony chair beneath me. I swallowed, took a deep breath, and next thing I know... two teardrops rolled down my cheeks and a piece of metal was sticking {too far} out of my chin.

Did it hurt?

Yes, yes, it did... and soon after, it hurt even worse. It was somewhat of a good hurt though, as I experienced the longest and most intense adrenaline rush of my life! I consumed no alcohol at the show and still felt dizzy the entire night -- the rush just kept on giving :) I've never been that hyped. It kicked in as soon as he pierced it... I don't even remember most of it because of the rush of blood to the head, as the song goes. Then, I know I acted really jumpy and strange, and the guys working there kept asking me if I want to have a seat and "chill" for a minute. Nooosir, I did not. I was like fire. So they put a box of juice in my hand and sent me on my way. Soon --within 30 minutes -- I understood why the metal was sticking out so much when they first pierced it: that was all the room needed for my lip to swell up. And swollen it was! I went straight home and turned my house upside-down in search for anti-inflammatories. Lots of Romanian curse words ensued. Popped in a couple, dropped a ridiculous outfit on, and headed out the door... with some extra anti-inflammatories in my purse.

Good show, good people, but when it was over, I was ready for my usual post-going-out ritual: warm food and slumber. Sat down with a nice bowl of beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole... put a fork-full of food in my mouth... then froze.


Did it not register with me that I have a metal poking through a fresh wound in my mouth before I attempted to put all those poking ingredients in my mouth? I guess that's part of the things I don't remember soon after I got the piercing. I know they were saying what *not* to do/eat in the first 2 weeks, to avoid... something-something.... something-something. Wait... TWO WEEKS?!

That was the grim realization that awaited me the next morning, when I woke up to a growling empty stomach and a very swollen, very painful lip.

So then the search began for comfort foods and, let me tell you, it was all trial and error. It still is. The fact that I'm vegan hasn't simplified the search at all, but it has definitely helped with my healing (less to digest leaves more energy for my body to heal). Things that have worked wonders for me:

-avocados (mashed)
-bananas (mashed)
-peaches (canned and chopped)
-apple sauce (chilled)
-hummus (plain)
-coconut milk yogurt
-coconut milk ice cream
-coconut water (chilled)
-filtered water (iced)
-ice chips
-carrot juice (no pulp)
-chocolate mousse
-chocolate pudding
-vegan cheesecake (I love you, Sweet Life)
-Annie's Homegrown Chocolate Bunny Crackers

Things that are painful:

-citrus fruits (strawberries, orange juice, etc.)
-smoothies (they sound good, but they can be weird if they leave kind of a "film" in your mouth)
-chocolate (you know I had to eat it anyway...)
-Rock Star drinks
-anything that requires chewing or that can get stuck in your gums

By mashing the foods, I cut the chewing in half. Chewing is the last thing I want to be doing with a fresh oral piercing, I quickly learned. Anything chilled or frozen felt really good on the swollen madness in my mouth. I've had to drink twice the amount of water I usually drink because my mouth and lips are constantly dry -- so liquids are also a relief. Carrot juice is good because it's rich in vitamin A, but it's not too acidic, like Orange juice would be, to hurt the wound. Annie's crackers were great because they just melt in your mouth, and that particular variety is vegan, too.

I'm glad I got this piercing done because now I'll stop wondering, "What if...," but it's been more intense than I expected. On the other hand, several people I usually see every day mentioned nothing of it when they first saw my piercing. It wasn't until hours later that they said, "Wait, did you just get that? When I first saw you today, I thought that it's always been there!"

And that's what I call a successful piercing or tattoo: something that looks like it belongs on you, like it's always been there :)

In the end, I leave you with a beautiful song and music video from the Dandy Warhols. I got to meet them last night at their performance in Portland (Thank you, Brandi!) and I'm still feeling eerie from the experience. The song is called "Godless" and I think it feels just like I feel right now: content to be with myself.

On Milk and Other Expired Love Stories

There are 300 milligrams of Calcium in a cup of whole milk.
There are approximately 4 times more than that in a cup of sesame seeds. Yet, the entire time I was growing up, no one pranced around the image of a cup of sesame seeds and said, "Here, it builds strong bones! You must have sesame seeds with breakfast every day if you want to avoid osteoporosis later!"
Ever seen an ad ask, "Got sesame seeds"?
White sesame seeds (Shailesh Humbad, http://www.ivcooking.com)

Why is it that the image of milk as "rich in Calcium" or "builds strong bones" is blown up on magazine pages, school posters, and TV screens, and the image of sesame seeds isn't? On average, an adult needs about 1,000 milligrams of Calcium a day. So, really, if you have a cup of sesame seeds a day, you've exceeded that requirement; the same cannot be said about a cup of milk.

I never liked milk. This might come as a shock to my family, but when I was a child and they left a mug of milk on the table for me to drink every morning, that milk ended up elsewhere than my belly most of the time. Sorry, Grandma! I was grossed out by the whole notion of drinking white fat coming out of a cow's udder. I could see the bubbles of grease floating atop. It also smelled like the inside of a barn. Calcium or no calcium, it was simply not worth it to me.

Don't get me wrong - I think milk is very beneficial to babies/infants whose stomachs aren't trained to digest much else. But as we ease our way into solids, we should be able to reap some of milk's benefits from other, more wholesome foods. Personally, I think the way milk is promoted theses days is only a marketing technique to create business for dairy companies. Beyond that, milk is nothing but an expired myth to me :)

Another childhood myth that has extended into my adulthood was that the bigger the variety of food on my plate at any given meal, the healthier. Have a little bit of E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G at once: some meat or fish protein with a side of starches (white rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.) and a healthy does of veggies, either cooked or as a salad. Sprinkle some cheese on that salad or bread, too, for an added bonus of nutrition. Then, when it's time for dessert, go for the super-duper healthy fruit.

Sounds like a nutritionist's paradise, right? But no one's ever explained what happens once all these ingredients enter the body at once and your intestines have to break them all up into... something. So I decided to do my research on this and here's what I found out at first glance.

It is, in fact, really difficult for your body to break up different types of compounds or molecules at once. Can the body do it? Definitely. Does it burn you up? Likely. Do the benefits of each compound diminish ? Probably.

Whenever we put something in our stomachs, based on which kind of compound it is (protein, carbohydrate, etc.), specific enzymes are secreted for digestion. Sometimes, mixing these enzymes compromises the absorption of nutrients. Supposedly this is what happens when you combine protein with starchy vegetables or fats. All will eventually get digested, of course, but it poses a strain on your body and doesn't support nutrient absorption.

Sugar, fat, and salt combined do work wonders on our tongue palate, but the same does not apply to the rest of our organs. I've heard this notion of how to combine ingredients a lot with people who are on a "diet." I guess nutritionists recommend it not just for weight-loss, but also for health concerns. I've stumbled upon one of these diagrams when I was doing my research and some of this info stuck with me since. It has changed the way I select food to go on my plate or the way I prepare for a meal.

If you read the "science" behind it (in more than one place), it does make sense. Not only that, I've been feeling lighter and avoiding gas after my meals if I eat this way. I don't obsess over it, but whenever I have a choice, I follow it. For example, now that I know fruit ferments in my stomach if I eat it right after a meal, I just have my fruit while I'm cooking a meal, about 30-60 minutes before I eat. Since eating fruit as a meal on an empty stomach can have cleansing effects on my body, whenever I remember, I like to have a handful of fresh strawberries as soon as I wake up. I'd also no longer, under any circumstance, combine dairy with fruit. I used to be a big fan of smoothies without realizing that is one sure way to get fruit to ferment in my body. The same goes for fruit yogurt or ice cream. I've read somewhere that Hindus basically consider the fruit with dairy combination a poisonous one.

This is what I've been up to lately -- just curious about how my body responds to everything I put in it and trying to prevent disease best I can. Judging by the fact that I haven't been sick all summer (I'm usually sick at least a couple of times this season), it has worked pretty well. This has been one of the most stressful summers in my life, and intense stress has always led to me getting sick in the past.

So here's to fewer myths I take for granted, even if they were passed on to me with messages of love ;)
I prefer to take charge of my own health and learn to recognize what is wrong before it turns into disease. Now that I know how much I can find out just by listening to my body, that notion of going to a stranger (*ahem* doctor) who knows nothing about me or my body and expecting to receive a magic cure in less than 10 minutes seems so ludicrous.

Any nutrition myths you've busted lately? I'd love to hear them! :)

PS: In case you decide to give sesame seeds a try, know that your body absorbs the calcium inside better if you grind them before you eat them ;)

Vegan This and Vegan That

A Shift

Precisely as my Qigong instructor predicted when I first told him I became vegan, I've slowly progressed from excluding non-vegan foods from my diet to excluding all other non-vegan products from my life altogether. At first, when he said, "Let me know if you need me to recommend any vegan lotions to you for massage; I use quite a few of them," I laughed and said that's a bit extreme. You see, at the time, I was still trying to wrap my head around my new vegan diet and issues such as which sweeteners are vegan (not all sugar is, as mentioned in a previous post). It might sound weird to you, but it hadn't even occurred to me that being vegan might refer to more than one's diet. Then, as my new diet began to settle in and become more of a second nature, I started to become aware of other ways in which animal products, animal by-products, or animal-derived products are infiltrated into our lives.
Photo courtesy of vegnews.com

My main question is... is there no other way? Can we not have proper hair care or nourishing skin lotions unless we include animal products in the ingredients? And if we can, why do the companies choose not to? I want to find out.

{First of all, for anyone who might not know what the term "vegan" implies when we refer to skin/hair care products... it means that the product not only can't contain animal products such as milk or eggs, it also can't have animal-produced ingredients (i.e. honey or beeswax) or animal by-products (i.e. derived from animal fat, bones, or other parts of an animal that have been rejected for human consumption, excluding hair, horns, teeth, and hoofs). }

The other day I came across a Web page that had some very useful tips about vegan hair products. They talk about the hidden ingredients in cosmetics that don't stand out as vegan when you read the label -- unless you happen to know what the terms imply. For example, stearic acid, often found in conditioners, can be derived from cows, sheep, cats or dogs. Steroids are also derived from animals sometimes -- namely, from animal glands. And how about Keratin? Just last week I was considering a Keratin treatment for my hair to permanently straighten it into "healthy" glossy goodness. Now I've learned that it's made from animal horns and hooves, making my decision-process a whole lot easier, since I wasn't ready to spend the $280 anyway.

Why does all this matter? You ask. After all, from a sustainability point of view -- and also a Buddhist one -- if an animal has already died, it doesn't matter how we use its parts anymore. What's more, we should make the most out of them so that the animal's death actually served a purpose. Sure, it might be wrong to kill it, but once it's been killed, to reject what the animal has to offer is not only a waste, but also a "sin."

Okay. That may be true, except there is more to this issue than simply utilizing our "resources" in the best possible way. Products translate into consumerism, and so rejecting certain products becomes kind of like consumers' voting. If the demand for vegan hair/skin products is high enough (and it is), companies will shift their focus towards including vegan options in their product lines. If it surpasses the demand for "conventional" products (eventually), they might even stop making those altogether -- after all, vegan would be a more inclusive option for a wider range of customers. Call me crazy, but I think there should be more to an animal's life than serving one out of two purposes: either become food or be turned into another product for human consumption.
Photo courtesy of PETA.org

Renowned? Not in my book...

Finally, I will leave you with a fun bit of information from the PETA Web site (don't make that face -- you know you love PETA;) which may change the way you view some of the skin/hair/cosmetics companies. I had no idea so many renowned companies (*cough* L'Oreal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble *cough*) still test their products on animals! Goodbye, Dove soap and Febreeze air freshner, I guess. Oh, and I'll miss you, too, Ralph Lauren fragrances! But seriously, get with the program and quit testing on animals already. Here's the tool I mentioned; it's very fun to use.

In my next post, I'll elaborate more on why not only is it harmless to ask about the ingredients in a lotion or your food, it's actually helpful in that it sends a message and has the potential to change the way we treat animals, and, ultimately, the way we treat each other.