Category Archives: politics

Taco or Beer Challenge

taco or beer challenge

If there is one thing I can promise to always stand for it’s that I am pro-choice ’til I die.

If there is one thing I am always hungry for, it’s tacos. Last veganmofo I even did an all out Taco Cleanse.

I am thrilled that these two defining passions of mine are finally coming together in the Taco Or Beer Challenge. I think the whole idea might have started as a satire of the ice bucket challenge, you do something, tell everyone that you did it, and then donate to a cause. Why waste a bunch of water and pour ice on your head when you could instead eat a delicious taco or drink a refreshing beer (or both!) and then donate to fund abortion? It makes a lot more sense to me! I made these awesome breakfast tacos which had refried beans, avocado, salsa verde, green chile peanuts and homeade queso fresco. Then I donated to the Whole Woman’s Texas Action Fund. It breaks my heart that our lovely feminist abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health had to close their doors in Austin because of disgusting Republican political shenanigans.

Please take the challenge, here is a great site that can shows different ways you can fund abortion. If you are in Austin I also have a list of my favorite tacos. And if you do, you can nominate someone to take the  I am nominating my pal Jojo the Vegan in Brighton because she is awesome and visiting Austin right now so I know she has easy access to tacos!!!



SXSW eco misses the most important thing we can do to save the world

This year organizers of South By Southwest Eco were nice enough to give me a free pass to attend the conference. Although I’ve been to the interactive, music, and film conferences quite a bit over the last few years this was my first time attending the new-ish eco. I went full throttle into attending as many panels as possible on everything that I am interested in. I loved learning about the potentials of 3D printing, technology that’s helping wildlife, the importance of storytelling in the movement, and how the first refugees and victims of climate change are trying to save their own lives.  The eco conference is supposed to combine scientists with technologists and industry leaders to create solutions to climate based problems. In the past, people have asked me to do a panel on veganism and the environment but I didn’t feel like I was enough of an expert on the topic…until I went to sxsweco.

At first I was surprised by the lack of programming on the topic of veganism, especially since there was a whole theme of food and agriculture. I was even more surprised that the v word hardly came up! Only one panel I went to mentioned eating vegan to help the environment, and that was the panel about in-vitro meat, beyond meat, eating crickets for protein and 3D printing. I guess one of the best parts about the whole experience was learning how naive I am about what people actually know about meat production in our world and that there are so many opportunities for education. At one panel they showed just one image of the pollution caused by one factory farm and the entire room gasped. I wanted to just print out articles, studiesstatistics, and infographics and start handing them to people.  I heard over and over again about urban farming and vertical farming and plans to not over fish the sea, and plans to detox the sea, and that there is so much plastic in the sea, and that throwing out a half of a pound of ground beef is the same as taking a 90 minute shower, and how the tides are rising are displacing so many people, and weather uncertainty, and what can we do to make a difference. And then I heard the chatter from out-of-towners about how much they loved Texas barbecue and which place would they try next. I saw them lining up at the cheap hamburger stand across the street. I expect that at interactive and the rest but I really thought people traveling to a conference on the environment knew about the impact of cheap beef.

I didn’t know it was a secret that the easiest way anyone in the world can make a difference is to give up eating animals, at least most of the time. Livestock production accounts for over 50 percent of greenhouse gases on the planet! People are losing their homes because we can’t give up hamburgers.

I was reminded the population is growing at a staggering rate. We have to make as much food in the next 40 years as we did in the last thousand. Urban farming will never solve this problem, there are too many people and not resources in urban areas. At one panel I went to an engineer said that vertical farming was a pipe dream, an idea that is perpetuated by cool graphics. I learned that the poorest people in the world are farmers and that 50 percent of them go hungry while the urban farm movement here in the US encourages this as the only possible direction. I’m not saying urban farming doesn’t have a place, I love going to the farmer’s market and I grow kale in my backyard but it will never be enough to make a global difference.  Especially when it comes to animal “farming”. Raising animals for food takes infinitely more resources. If people could happily live on subsistence farming those same people wouldn’t be cutting down the rainforrest to make way for cash crops that feed animals. The model of grass fed cows will never work to feed our growing population. As long as people are eating meat at the rate we do there will be factory farms and ag sprawl which is much worse for the environment than urban sprawl.

The only way we have a chance to continue life as we know it is eat a lot less meat. Most people on the planet have to go vegan most of the time. The sooner we stop being so selfish about our traditions and tastes the sooner we will be able actually start saving the planet instead of just deluding ourselves that someone else will come and save us.

The biggest threat to the planet is business as usual.

Texas State Senator Kirk Watson wins Humane State Legislator award

Kirk Watson

I became a committed fan of Kirk Watson watching him fight so hard for Women’s Rights during the recent conservative attacks on Women’s healthcare. Reading the news just now (and obvs seeing the pic) and learning that he was also recognized by the Humane Society for fighting for animal rights warmed my heart. I am so proud to have him for my state senator. Mr. Watson won the award for sponsoring, and then getting bill SB 360 passed. It outlaws horrific gas chambers of carbon monoxide as a way to euthanize shelter animals.

I’m happy for him and all the animals that won’t have to suffer in this way. And I’m even happy for me because reading the news can be so depressing that I just want to ignore it, but then I would miss the good things like this too. And I’m happy that puppies remain adorable and that I get to take my dogs to a birthday party tonight for Sid the Regal Beagle.

The Hows and Whys of the Taco Cleanse

Over the last few days I have been bombarded with questions about the Taco Cleanse. If you haven’t heard, a group of us in Austin have taken on this challenge for the month of September for a variety of reasons. I can’t speak for the whole group but I can tell you my personal journey.

Over the years I have changed my diet more times than I can count. Since childhood, really, I was on a quest to find what worked best for me. Since moving to Austin almost ten years ago I started supplementing my diet with tacos, particularly breakfast tacos; the most important taco of the day. I wasn’t seeing the results I was looking for. Sure, I would eat tacos most days but then sometimes for dinner I would screw up by eating a burger or some soup. I had no self-control and I could hardly look at myself in the mirror any more. It was also during this time I noticed a rash of physical symptoms. Sometimes I would feel really tired, especially in the morning when my alarm went off. Other times, I couldn’t fall asleep at night, I knew this wasn’t right! My body was trying to tell me something. Along with these issues I was filled with occasional bouts of melancholy and depression. I would ask myself, “Where was my life even going?”

Who knows how long I could have gone on this way but lucky for me, and for you, I met up with a team of taco scientists prepared to nurture my fledgling taco habit and also give me the community of support that I needed to follow though on what became to be known as The Taco Cleanse™. Together we forged a new path of wellness and self discovery.

The plan is actually quite simple. All of your meals must contain tacos. A short “mild” cleanse can last for just one day. If you want to go full on FUEGO like my veganmofo team including Molly, Jessica, and Wes it’s all tacos every day for a month. Now, I want to be clear that supplementing is acceptable as long as you are getting all of your tacos in. Margaritas should be added on an as needed basis for the top levels of the cleanse but at FUEGO you should be adding them at least a couple of times a week, working up to every day.

One important aspect of going through a taco cleanse is an element of community to help you along the way. Just last night, for example, I texted Molly asking where to get late night tacos on the north end since I had been stuck in a non-taco friendly bowling alley most of the evening. To enhance this partnership we are going to be planning several events in the Austin area during this month. Vegans Rock Austin in planning an opening ceremony potluck so sign up on their site. Next Tuesday night there will be special “Taco Tuesday” specials at Counter Culture. We are also planning potlucks, meet-ups at Mr. Natural, Vivo, the Vegan Nom, with more to come. During the month of Veganmofo The Taco Liberation Front, The Lonestar Plate, and Rabbit Food will all be blogging with me to share their taco cleanse journeys and hopeful pass along some tips as well.

On October 4th, National Taco Day, we are going to have a celebratory party at the Vegan Nom and we will also be selling our Taco Cleanse™ zine so you too will be able to participate.

I hope you enjoy following us through this campaign. On the blog I plan to chronicle both my personal journey and keep you up to date with all the wonderful tacos of Austin Texas. Also please feel free to follow me on instagram and twitter or just follow the #tacocleanse hashtag on both sites, there are already many people joining us because they are learning what I already know: Tacos Change Lives.

Pro-choice til I die

One reason I started to write this blog was to write about things that were on my mind. Another reason was to share information. Usually it stays on the topic of veganism but, for me, veganism is part of a larger picture. Social Justice, Animal Welfare, Feminism, Environmentalism, Humanism, and most of all, so much fucking love in my heart are all the foundation of it.

Everything is interconnected. Some would even say there is a metapattern to it all. (Full disclosure: the first class I ever took at Evergreen was called metapatterns cause that’s the kind of school I went to).

That makes it hard to talk about just one thing. I have always had what some would refer to as a bleeding heart. I’ve been writing letters to politicians, school officials, and companies since I was a little kid. In addition to this, I can get really fired up really quickly. That latter quality can make it really difficult for me to get into arguments. I get so hot and it can last for days. Sometimes I can direct that passion into action and that’s why I wanted to write a better post about why I am pro-choice and why I think you should be too.

Last week I wrote an outraged post about how I was painting my nails to support Wendy Davis’s amazing filibusterer and to support Planned Parenthood. I wrote about some other vegan haps about the town as well, partly because I wanted to blog about all three things and I think partly because I wanted to stay “on topic”. But you know what? This is my blog. I get enormous pleasure in the fact that I can talk about whatever I want. I make zero dollars from it. If you don’t like what I’m writing about you can either stick to the Eating Out sections or check out  Vegans Rock Austin, The Lonestar Plate, Austin Vegetarian Living, Red Hot Vegans or Happy Cow, I bet Austin is one of the most blogged about towns in the USA and surely you will find someone you mesh with. But don’t come to my blog and insinuate that I am racist because I think white male evangelical politicians hold way too much power in this state and are actively working to disenfranchise minorities and women. I don’t think that every evangelical or white or Republican thinks the same way but I can tell you after watching the Texas Senate and Texas House debates for the last few weeks that every single one of them that are voting for restrictions on abortions that would close women’s health clinics (that do more than just give out abortions) all over the state are people that are actively against women’s health and safety. In addition to closing clinics the bill would also add a restriction that women can not have legal abortions after their 20th week.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and GynecologistsThe Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association all oppose this bill for several reasons. They opposed it because there is no medical need for more restrictions on abortion. I learned a lot from reading the bill and watching the debates about this. I learned that, as a medical procedure, doctors consider abortion on par with a colonoscopy. I learned that it is one of the safest medical procedures in the state. I learned that a woman is significantly more likely to die or have complications by carrying a pregnancy to term than she is by having an abortion. I learned that since we have systematically gutted healthcare in this state that pregnancy is actually pretty scary to go through in Texas, especially if you are poor or uninsured or uneducated. “In Texas, the racial disparity is also evident. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes of death than white women.” Studies that follow the implications of restricting abortion have repeatedly shown that the number of abortions don’t go down when clinics close. Instead, desperate women search for other alternatives. Already because of the expense of abortion and the mandatory 24 hour waiting period coupled with the fear of being found out by her neighbors or family many women cross the border into Mexico where they can take prescription medications that might cause an abortion, or maybe make them bleed to death.

Aside from closing clinics under the guise of protecting women’s health another aspect of the Texas bill is that women will no longer have the option of getting an abortion after the 20th week. The supposed reason behind this new law is that at that point the fetus can feel pain. Like many many scientists, I don’t know what it is like for a fetus to feel pain. I don’t remember my time as a fetus. Is it more like how a toddler, a spider, a cow, a piglet, a piece of kale, or a shrimp feels pain? I have no idea. Scientists are certainly not even agreed on if a fetus feels pain at all. But I do know that the woman who needs to have an abortion in her 2nd trimester is suffering. 99 percent of all women who have abortions do it before twenty weeks. The women who  have an  abortion after are usually women that wanted a baby. Maybe they have already been thinking about names and designing the nursery. Why do they wait 20 weeks into their pregnancy? When they are already probably showing a baby bump?

The answer is that comprehensive fetal testing, such as anatomical sonograms and ultrasounds of the heart, are typically performed just before 20 weeks of gestation. Such scans are critical for uncovering major birth defects, such as anencephaly (severe brain malformations), major heart defects, missing organs and limbs, and other severe birth defects. Fetal development is a complex process that often goes awry. Roughly 2 percent of all pregnancies are complicated by a major birth defect, and of those about 0.5 percent have a chromosomal defect, such as an extra or missing segment of normal DNA. Birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality, and in many cases of severe birth defects, no medical treatment can salvage a fetus’s life or result in any measure of normal future health. from Slate’s 7/11/13 story “Who Has an Abortion After 20 Weeks?

This is what we mean when we say the decision to have an abortion should be between a woman and her doctor. It’s not just a cute phrase. I think a second term abortion the hardest decision many women ever face. These are the vast majority of this one percent of abortions.  If you watched the public testimonies a few weeks ago you no doubt saw some heartbreaking stories of women talking about going through this process. Another unintended aspect of the twenty week ban will undoubtedly be that women have an abortion before they can fully decide if they want to try and keep the baby because they know they will lose the option soon. Read a friend of mine’s story about being in this very situation.

In addition to these women’s health issues there are also women’s rights issues involved. Something I don’t really see anti-choice advocates talk about is bodily autonomy. They see the fetus as a life and that it should have the right to be alive no matter what its host’s body wants. But a woman is more than just a host. She is an American citizen and she has the right to do what she wants with her body. That’s why stealing someone’s kidney’s is illegal. You couldn’t tell a judge “well I needed the kidney to live and the woman has two of them anyway”. A woman can donate her kidney the same way she can have a baby, with consent and probably help from her doctor. No one demands people risk their lives through medical procedures that are unnecessary for them to save some else’s life. This is why women are allowed to decide whether or not that they are going to give birth to a baby.

So maybe you understand a woman’s right to her own bodily autonomy but you still believe that every baby that is conceived should be born and if women don’t want to have a baby they shouldn’t get pregnant. Well, if you agree with that you are hopefully a democrat because in this state democrats are the only politicians that try to make sure unwanted babies are never conceived in the first place. Research shows that the very best way to cut down on unintended pregnancies is through sex-education, teaching people, especially young fertile hormonal teens how to use birth control, how you get pregnant, and offering free or low-cost birth control methods has repeatedly been shown as the very best way to stop pregnancies.

Why do republicans vote for abstinence only education when studies show it leads to unwanted pregnancies?  Why do they add medically unnecessary sonogram bills? Why do they fund “crisis pregnancy centers” that spread misinformation like that having abortions leads to cancer and stop funding women’s health clinics that do everything from distributing condoms to giving low cost pelvic exams and give women information about where they can get abortions? Why do they think a woman hasn’t given any thought to if she wants an abortion and mandates a 24 hour waiting period? Why did Texas legislators think that making health insurance providers cover birth control was a travesty against Christians? Why did Rick Perry think that this bill should be debated in a special session when the rules are different? Why do they then break their own rules? Why do so many Republicans, including the author of this bill in Texas, not understand that you can get pregnant through rape and the state doesn’t do anything to “clean you out”? Why have they spent their entire time in control of the house getting rid of a woman’s access to a safe legal abortion in this state? Why didn’t they accept one single amendment to the bill? Like allowing exceptions for women that were raped, mentally ill, or having medical complications?

If you can answer all of these questions without coming to the same conclusions as me please let me know. But before you do, first read this story from Libby Anne, who used to be president of her university’s Students for Life chapter. Really, if you are anti-choice and you read one link in this whole post, this is the one that I would ask you to read.

You don’t have to support abortion to be pro-choice. That’s why it’s called pro-choice instead of pro-abortion. You just have to believe that other women can make their own decisions on what they are going to do with their own body.

So today I am going to go down to the capital and wear orange scream my guts out. Even though I know that Rick Perry loves to hear women scream and that it shows him how well he’s doing his job. When people in our society start to lose their rights, we all lose.

This weekend I’m going to eat pizza, paint my nails, and maybe do some Hippie Vegan Bullshit

If it was 20 years ago and my friend Sandra was here we could have a sleepover and talk about boys and who would look best in a tux too. As an adult I am now eating pizza and painting my nails for political reasons.  Oh, and I’m meeting with a team of Taco Scientists. You never know where your life will take you.

Living under the rule of an evil Republican super majority in Texas can be very disheartening. These totally corrupt officials continually make life for everyone in our state increasingly more difficult. Our privileged blue state compatriots in the rest of the country write off what happens in our state and laugh about how we are just backwards jerks that don’t deserve healthcare or factory safety regulations or education because we are stupid enough to keep voting these fuckers in. Well, you know what non-Texans? It isn’t that easy to fight against their racket when all the decks are stacked against you. These people keep getting elected because they have gerrymandered the state into such a mess of cockeyed districts that the white evangelical voters have more voting power than they should in a state with so many people that live in cities, women, Mexican-Americans, and African Americans. The people in charge of this state work so hard to disenfranchise poor people that it can some times seem impossible to fight them, they have all the money and the power and they use it to make sure people that don’t agree with them can’t vote, aren’t educated, don’t have good jobs, and have to spend every minute of their lives struggling to get by. In some cases they are too exhausted to even realize that things could be another way. The media talks about our low voter turnout but, from my perspective, the apathy comes from continually witnessing such a corrupt system. It’s very demoralizing.

That’s why Wendy Davis’ filibuster was so inspiring to me and so many of my allies. Here was a woman literally standing up against these men that have made life so hard for so many and just want to make it worse for their own twisted reasons. As the filibuster went on and she schooled all these pathetic senators on why women’s healthcare is so important more and more people started watching the livesteam and heading down to the capital. When she got stopped for a third illogical reason we had to start drinking. Then the democrats stalling tactics attempting to run out the clock had me frantically checking twitter and the clock thinking they couldn’t possibly keep this up. After being repeatedly ignored Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, said “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” I immediately started cheering along with thousands of others all over the state and also with the people cheering in the capital who screamed so loud and so long that they STOPPED THE BILL from being about to pass. After so many years of reading about Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, and Molly Ivins to see there was still hope for women in Texas made me feel an incredible sense of elation.  I know Dick Perry has called another special session and evil will probably prevail this next time but for that one day we got a glimpse of where the future could be. The internet went nuts.

To celebrate and gear up for the next week I’m dying to get a ridiculous manicure that even supports planned parenthood. When I wrote Nails Y’all to see if her products were vegan too she wrote back:

Thank you for your interest + support! I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of such amazing, passionate, and inspiring ladies who want to show their support for women’s healthcare in Texas. Unfortunately, all appointments for the Hands Off fundraising manis are booked. But don’t despair! Here are a few ways that you can still get in on the action:
Get a set of your very own DIY Wendy Davis nail decals! You can totally take control of your own nails with these babies. Each kit contains 12 nail decals, Q-tips, and easy-to-follow instructions. Each kit is $25, and $10 goes directly to Planned Parenthood! To purchase a kit, contact me via email to pick it up in person, or head over to Etsy. In addition, I’ll have kits available Sunday, 6/30 at East Side Show Room (1100 E. 6th) from 7pm to midnight. Spread the word!
Nails Y’all + Planned Parenthood are working to make it easy for you make tax-free donations to support women’s health in Texas. If you’d like more information about donating to the cause, shoot me an email.
For future manis, book an appointment with me at Paloma. (Wendy’s are in my rotation, now!) And we use locally made, vegan products! More of my nail designs can be seen via Tumblr and Instagram (@nailsyall).
I’m sorry that I was unable to accommodate your request, but I am so thankful that so many ladies reached out to fight the good fight through nail art.

I’m so excited to do mine!

This Saturday is also Vegan Pizza Day, I’ve been working on a recipe for Chicago style pizza that might be ready for next year but for 2013 I’m heading to Capital City Bakery for Pizza Rolls for lunch and probably picking up my favorite VIA 313 for dinner! There are lots of ways to celebrate, check out the Lonestar Plate for a guide to vegan friendly pizza in Austin.

Also this Saturday will be the return of Hippie Vegan Bull$#!*. The last one got rained out but I don’t seen that happening here for the last weekend of June, here is the scoop:

Hippie Vegan Bull$#!* – Saturday, June 29 from noon to 7pm – is a free, family-friendly & dog-friendly celebration of all things peaceful, organic, and weird in Austin.

The Empire parking lot will be home to a local vegan marketplace featuring ice cream by Sweet Ritual, vegan sausages, hot dogs & burgers from The Hot Dog King and, sweets from Capital City Bakery. The garage will host vendors selling miscellaneous hippie bull$#!* including professional tie-dye and demonstrations & training from Texas Footbag, YogaSlackers & Keep Austin Slacklining. The garage will also serve as our bicycle & skateboard valet as well as the home of our massive group finger painting mural.

The patio will host a yoga class by Wanderlust at 4pm, drum spheres (bring your hand-drums), and Frisbee. The Control Room will transform into the Crash Pad where music-lovers can participate in an improvised jam on-stage (so bring your instruments & musical friends!) Those who want to chill can enjoy the show from the air-conditioned comfort of couches, cold beverage in hand, all while surrounded by 300 degrees of trippy, psychedelic projections. Facebook Event –

Enjoy the weekend! Remember to wear suncreen and keep your dogs out of your parked car! I will break your window.


The Bake Sale was a Success!

We had such good turnout for the bake sale on Sunday at Ten Thousand Villages to benefit Food For Life’s work in Haiti. There was Red Velvet Cupcakes Oatmeal Cream Pies, German Chocolate Cupcakes, Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies, Magic Cookie Bars, Thyme Spiced Nuts, Rice Krispie Treats

Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes

And the donuts that I madeand there was tons of other stuff, It just kept coming in all day.

Arthur was overwhelmed with the decisions

Molly from Scratch and Sniff also got on News 8 Austin!

Everyone raved about the baked goods, actually my friends were still talking about what they ate just this morning. In the end we still had stuff leftover that Jessica took to Food Not Bombs who was feeding people in the park.

The best part is that we raised enough money to feed 2880 Haitians a healthy vegan meal.

Here is Sarah, who did such a great job making all the posters, with the checks for Food For Life

I was thinking that maybe we could have another one over SXSW! Let me know if you are interested 🙂

Thanks to everyone who helped and who bought something!!!!!!!!!!