Friday, March 6, 2015

No Particular Order

Okay, enough ranting about all the non-vegans of the world.  I'd like to talk about all the great parts about being vegan in no particular order:

All things Field Roast - Their Chao slices are amazing and their Apple Sage Sausage would have been something I preferred as a pre-vegan, if I had known it existed.  I've even been known to melt a slice of Tomato Cayenne Chao into taco 'meat' -- see Beyond Meat Crumbles below.  M will eat a grilled cheese made solely with the Creamy Original slices. Actually, she eats them three at a time.

Beyond Meat Crumbles - I actually combine the Field Roast slices, Apple Sage Sausage, and Beyond Meat Feisty Crumbles, mustard on appetizer bread to make some kick-ass hanky pankeys.  Great for anything you used to make with ground beef.  

Gardein chicken strips and chicken sliders.  Great easy weekday meal.   Some sweet potato fries, a tomato, Veganaise and 20 minutes, presto.  The strips are great with Ginger People Ginger Chili Sauce. I've heard great things about their other products, but I was never a fish sticks or pulled pork person, so I'm not looking to replicate those.  I have seen they've come out with a vegan version of what closely resemble Hot Pockets -- [insert Jim Gaffigan voice here] -- that I would like to try if they ever make it to CLT.

Veganaise - could have switched this out a long time ago and never noticed.  I prefer the grapeseed oil (purple) but I haven't tried one I didn't like.

Peanut butter - I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods.  One of the things I love is grinding some peanut butter.  I have PB&J (preserves) on toast almost every morning.  Great to eat on the way to a job.

Hummus - didn't love it at first, but it has since become a staple.  Some whole grain pita chips and spinach artichoke hummus is a perfect meal/snack that's very satisfying and easy to eat/transport.  I often take a refrigerated bag with a baggy of chips and a container of hummus, some fruit and I'm good to go for the day.  When attorneys decide they want to 'work through lunch' I have something to munch on during breaks.  I love red pepper hummus on wraps.  I have a dream that I will one day get a pita to work for me because I love Pita Pit's hummus pita with tons of veggies.  

Fakin Bacon (tempeh) - does it taste like bacon?  Not really.  But it is really good and makes an easy BLT.  I like to saute some onions and spinach, Veganaise the toast up (of course) and throw some tomato on.  Really satisfying, quick easy meal.  

Being able to cut anything on a cutting board without worrying about cross-contamination.  Sometimes I forget and will go to change it out for a new one after cutting up something with a meaty texture and then I realize NONE OF MY FOOD HAS SALMONELLA IN IT. 

I also love Justin's dark chocolate PB cups.  Their PB is creamy and smooth and the whole thing is delicious.  I think if I were to eat a Reese's now, it would taste like powdered crap.  

I also probably don't go a day without at least one square of the Endangered Species 80-something percent chocolate.  I've been told there's a panther on the front, but I'm pretty sure it's a chocolate lab.

Amy's Kitchen makes a lot of great vegan frozen meals.  I love the Sonoma burgers.  The rice and veggie-teriyaki-whatever and Quesadillas (somehow they make eating black beans tolerable, craveable in fact) makes a nice working-from-home lunch.  A lot of their stuff takes 35-50 minutes in the oven, so it's not a great travel food.  If you're wondering what of theirs is vegan and what's not, it usually says it right at the beginning of the ingredients so you don't have to go digging for hidden milk products.  Their breakfast scrambles are also great in both forms.  I've tried their vegan mac & cheese and the cheese was a bit too plastic for me, but decent taste.  Probably something you'd like if you were ever into Velveeta, which I was not. I'd prefer to use the Chao slices if I'm trying to make something cheesy.  I do like their margherita pizza, even though it's got a bit of Daiya cheese on it, which is not my favorite.  

Apple Crumble Love Crunch - also very portable.  Keep it in my purse, just in case.  

Fruit - love granny smith apples and nearly anything citrus.  Strawberries (when you can get decent organic ones - they're a dirty dozen.)  Bananas can never be wrong.  Grapes are also hard to find as organic, but a great snack when you can find them.

Veggies - never loved veggies but I try more and more all the time and find I like some I didn't used to, especially when paired with a good sauce or other veggies that complement them.  Black olives, for instance, are something I would never eat by themselves, but are great with other veggies.

Whole Foods double chocolate vegan cookies.  Ate these before I went vegan and they are to die for. Glad I only get there once a month or so because I would be 200 pounds if I had full-time access to these.

Virtual Vegan Friends - so many great vegans online.  Better than that, so many great vegan recipes and products online.  Other than medicine, there's not anything I can think of that I couldn't find a vegan version of.  

Vegan apps - Happy Cow has found me vegan restaurants or restaurants with vegan option when I'm traveling.  Vegan Express lists common grocery store foods that are vegan (sort of a portable 'accidentally vegan' list.  I used it a lot when I first became vegan, but don't spend all that much time with it now.  Also in my vegan folder is Healthy Out, which you can filter through dietary preferences, Vegan Delish - recipes, Animal-Free - look up ingredients to see if they're animal derived, and Forks Over Knives, which is great because you can save recipes on it and it'll make a grocery list of the ingredients you need.  Not an app, but also has great recipes where you can build a grocery list and save recipes you want to try later.   

Passion - I love all things vegan and will spread the word to anyone who's willing to listen.  I also do my best to educate myself in order to better educate others.  

Vegan restaurants - Bean Vegan Cuisine is one of my favorite places and they now have a little shop that sells some great vegan food items.

Non-vegan restaurants that accommodate vegans - In a perfect world, I would only support vegan things.  Sure, this list is in no particular order, but the things at the top are from vegan-only companies and vegan things made by non-vegan companies come second.  I do love Bean but it's at least 30 minutes away.  There's another vegan restaurant that I like even more, but it's take-out only and even further.  I get there a couple times a year.  I recently went to Mellow Mushroom to eat with non-vegans and they were very accommodating and even have Daiya cheese.  Do I like spending money somewhere that supports the oppression of animals? Absolutely not.  But I do like that options are not so scarce that I always have to cook at home.   

There's so many vegan things I want to explore still and some of that will take place after I move.  I've got a tiny kitchen right now that is very frustrating and it's maddening to try to use a blender or food processor in there if you need counter space for anything else.  I do make a mean vegan lasagna (They Won't Believe it's Vegan Lasagna from the aforementioned VegWeb) that requires a food processor to make the vegan ricotta, but that lasts me weeks.  

The list could go on and on but these are the things that make it maddening that others think they can't live without animal products.  This is the tip of the iceberg.  I've never felt deprived or like I'm dieting or that I'm living a bland life or suffering at all.  Well, maybe it did feel a bit restricting at first, but it was more like I wasn't sure where to start or how many options were available.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rants Vegans Should (Never) Say

Following is a list of things I drunkenly wish I could say to people and somewhat feel I should be able to.  Being in the minority but feeling as though you're on a moral baseline that most people agree to in spirit, but not in practice, is frustrating.  No, I wouldn't say any of this to someone, but, yes, I think I should be able to.  Publicly shaming a slave owner in this day and age would be accepted and you'd have the support of the majority.  Publicly shaming someone for letting the exact same and worse happen to an animal - as long as it's not a dog or cat - is unacceptable.  So this is me venting out all the things I wish I could say:

No, we don't mind if you eat that in front of us, just as you won't mind us showing you a video detailing how that animal most likely lived and died as you eat it - yes, that includes your beloved cheese.  Sorry, but it is comparable because that IS what we see when we see animal products.

If you feel you have to justify your nonvegan ways to a vegan and hate them for it, it's probably because you know it's wrong and feel the need to tell yourself it's okay by hearing your irrational rationale out loud.

If you feel like: free world, we all have choices...good for you.  But you forget that animals have the ability to think and feel.  No one asked them what their choice is.  They do not 'give' their lives to us; we take them.  They cry tears and tremble with fear while waiting in line to be slaughtered; even after we made their lives miserable, they still want to live.

If you think, as a human, you have some god- or Darwin-given right to exploit another being because we're the special chosen ones who won the food chain, reflect for a moment on how similar that argument is to the use of slaves or oppression of women and homosexuals.  Get over ourselves.  God gave us compassion.  And that leads me to...

Old Testament bible thumpers.  Yeah, if you do everything the bible tells you, then you're a fucking liar.  The golden rule is what again?  Do unto OTHERS as you would have done onto you.  Look a pig in the eye and tell me that he's not an other.  Better yet, look your dog or cat in the eye and tell me that.  Then tell me how it's so barbaric that people eat dog in some parts of the world.  And THEN tell me how that's any different from eating a pig, which is smarter than your dog or cat.

The thing is, there's hundreds of very logical arguments.  People don't like to hear it because people don't like to change or feel like they're bad people.  There's a name for it actually; it's called 'carnism'.  It's basically a philosophy that explains how a group of people do something against their true core belief systems by hiding it and making it seem normal, natural and necessary - all of which the life and 'harvest' of animal agriculture is not.  Well, at least that's what I interpreted it as.  But here's the coiner of the word to explain it to you if you're interested.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I'm an Annoying Vegan

Becoming vegan is like escaping a cult that almost everyone else still lives in.  You don't get to leave the compound and find sanity and safety in the real world.  You DO get to find some great vegans online and maybe IRL (rarely).
There are a hundred rational and emotional reasons someone becomes vegan.  There are hundreds more defensive and irrational reasons vegans are hated. There are also many big businesses that depend on people dismissing vegans as 'extreme' and perpetuating the myth that it's an unhealthy lifestyle.  I'll just go through a few of them briefly because I'm sure you all have the ability to do a Google search all on your own.  
1) Environmental - I found it extremely odd that, outside of the vegan community, no one seems to know that animal agriculture is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of the destruction of the rainforest and most of the water and food resources in the world.  You'd have to go months without showering to save the same amount of water used to make one hamburger. And don't even get me started on what all that animal waste has done to our waterways.  I strongly recommend watching Cowspiracy or at least going to their fact check page here.
2) People - Going back to all the food used to feed animals for us to eat, we're basically letting poor people in this world starve so that we can feed the food of the rich people.  We talk a lot about the one percenters, but eating meat is the ultimate eff off to poor people.  "Sorry, we could give you food, but we need it to fatten up our cows." Not to mention all the antibacterial-resistance being bred on factory farms.
3) Animals -  Of course, we're all told that animals we eat are unaware and don't feel pain.  But that's scientifically disproven.  Pigs are smarter than dogs.  All farm animals are sentient - meaning they're capable of suffering and understanding that they're suffering.  It just doesn't make sense to see some animals as our friends and others as our food.  If you think your meat is roaming around on a hillside somewhere enjoying life until one day your friendly farmer humanely knocks them out and painlessly kills them, you need to do some research.  "Farm" animals are basically emotionally and physically tortured their entire life.  The same things that we would all revolt against if done to a dog are legally done to pigs, cows and chickens because anything that is considered 'standard practice' is legal and therefore not considered abuse.  If you can't stand to watch an undercover video, you probably shouldn't be eating the product of it.  And if you think the undercover videos are bad, research what 'standard practices' are, because they're not prosecutable and normally don't wind up in these videos.  And vegetarianism is not the answer.  Dairy cows are the most abused animals (in my opinion).  They are kept pregnant most of their lives and cry for days for their calves which are taken away days after being born.  Bottom line:  The meat industry and dairy industry are linked, and eating cheese supports the veal and beef industries.  There's also no such thing as humane meat or eggs.  Just research what cage free actually means, and you won't be impressed.  

The only real arguments people seem to have against veganism is 'I don't care', 'I don't want to change', 'vegans are idiot bullies' and 'don't tell me how to live my life - you made your choice, mine is to eat animals.'  
If you don't care, I can't help you much. The earth is beginning to force us to care.  If you have kids, I'm not sure how you could be okay with knowingly being a part of what is swiftly becoming an unstoppable spiral into our own destruction.  International watchdogs have basically said global warming is no longer stoppable and we can only hope now to minimize the extent of it. The UN in 2010 told us nonvegan diets are destroying the earth and are unsustainable.  I'm not sure if that message got to the people participating in the People's Climate March this September.  

The I-don't-want-to-change-ers, I understand.  But it's definitely not as hard as it seems.  There's tons of great vegan food available. And with great substitutes such as Beyond Meat, Gardein and Field Roast out there, you can veganize most all of your favorite recipes.  There's great vegan ice cream, candy, frozen meals, yogurts, breads, etc. around.  Also, you can find a vegan recipe for anything online.  One of my favorite sites is I went vegan overnight, but there's plenty of people that slowly incorporate vegan meals into their pre-vegan diet.  Happy Cow is an app that can direct you to a vegan-friendly restaurants near your home or while you're on the road.  Many fast food and fast casual restaurants have vegan options.  It's always difficult to make changes, but when you see all that's at stake, it should be harder to do nothing. 

Vegans are idiot bullies - these are my favorite kind of anti-vegans.  I feel these guys are just a bit of information away from becoming vegan themselves.  You can't be that passionately against something without it affecting you.  They usually resort to name calling because they don't have any rational argument against it. They just lash out, hoping you'll go away and stop making them feel guilty about their 'choices'.

Which leads us to the choicers. But we're forgetting that the animals are not given choice in all this.  If things were to be switched around - say an alien life or another animal makes its way to the top of the food chain and decide they like human meat and milk, I doubt you'd be so protective of their choices.  Unless you'd be okay with humans being forcibly impregnated, imprisoned, tortured, then how is it okay for us to do it to animals who are also aware of what is going on? 
Personal choice - yes, it is a personal choice.  You can choose to lower your impact on the environment without having to change any laws.  Voting with your dollars is the best way to have your voice heard.  And the more that people are making changes based on being conscientious consumers, the more industry is taking note and making changes.

There's also all the biological and hypothetical reasons which I don't even really like to address - we have canines - so do lots of herbivores.  You need protein from meat - no you don't (the animals you eat definitely didn't.)  And calcium - many studies show that calcium from animals is way more harmful than calcium from leafy greens and, in fact, causes osteoporosis and many cancers.  Dairy is a carcinogen.  If I were stranded on a desert island - talk to me then; we are no longer animals hunting and gathering.

Veganism is just the next step in social evolution.  At one point people who thought slavery was wrong were 'extreme'.  Not all that long ago, women weren't allowed to vote.  I understand we were all born into this and the facts are not advertised while the lies are.  But we all readily hate the banks and Wall Street for their deceptions and accept Big Animal Ag's without a thought.  Looking behind the curtain is our duty as citizens in this capitalist society.  If we accept what those in power say or are too easily distracted to care, we may as well be living in a dictatorship.  The whole evil-prospers-if-good-people-do-nothing's very paraphrased quote is the theme of this post.  So, annoying?  Probably.  But if you were stuck in a cult where 95% of the people were blindly following and handing their earnings over to its charismatic leader with a good marketing team, while he slowly destroys everyone's home, you'd probably seem a little annoying to those you were trying to open the eyes of.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chasing Squirrels and Waterfalls

Conversation my dog and I had in my head after he sheepishly noticed me watching him pee:

Jake: Not cool, Mom. I'd appreciate you turning away next time.

Me: Whatever, you watch me pee all the time.

Jake: Not intentionally.

Me: So sleeping in the room dedicated to expelling waste is not your choice?

Jake: Look, I like a nice cold floor; it reminds me of my youth. Besides, aren't you supposed to be the civilized one? You could stand to give a dog a heads-up every once in a while. I mean, sometimes you don't even turn the light on.

Me: Turning the light on in the middle of the night guarantees -- you know what? I pay the bills around here and I'll pee how I want to.

Jake: Well, if unrestricted urination is the route to alpha status, it's game on, Sista'. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some garbage to eat.

Monday, May 24, 2010


M was going through her baby book recently, after a trip to Cleveland in which she visited with her five-month old second-cousin, Danny. It was pretty detailed from birth until about six months old, and then nothing. I told her that after that, there wasn't any time to fill stuff out because she was so active and I was having so much fun just playing with her, but the truth is I was pretty sure I'd just remember it all, since there was just the one of her. Turns out, not so much. So I'm going to try to write down now everything I do remember from her younger days.

Let's see...she called bottles babas. She would walk up to you with arms raised and exclaim, pick me, pick me, when she wanted to be picked up. "Rubber me" was her way of asking for back rubs. She refused to believe that Blue was a girl and Magenta was a boy (even to this day.) She's never had a pack of gum that a dog didn't finish off for her (although she'll tell you otherwise.) Her favorite food has always been Kraft Mac & Cheese (she used to call Easy Mac bubbles because she liked to watch them boil in the microwave.) I have pictures of her riding the Jr. Gemini at a very, very young age and hating it. But I will not admit to forcing her on it; let's say it was dad's idea. She was terrified of bugs until she learned about them in second grade. She had a crazy friend in kindergarten named Rae who used to come over and swing things around to make the dog crazy and also talked a lot about spanking. She had a stalker friend in preschool who would come up to my job on the weekends and try to set up play dates with her. But mostly I remember that she's always been a sweet, easygoing, helpful girl.

At 9, M's totally comfortable just walking in and having an entire conversation with me while I'm sitting on the john, but actually locks both doors to the bathroom while she's going. I told her she was a peeing hypocrite, and she responded, "I'm just smart enough to lock the doors. And you can take that, Mister, to the bank." Whatever that means.

I've been told that 11 or 12 is the age that she'll stop wanting anything to do with me, besides telling me how I've ruined her life, and we'll be at odds from that point until she graduates from college, if she doesn't run off and marry a Burger King manager just to spite me. Although, now that I think about it, if she's going to marry into fast food, BK's the way to go. And I did find a B from a BK bag in her diaper back when she used to eat paper. Oh, stop judging me; fiber is fiber.

Anyway, from the way she's stomping around here cleaning her playroom after I told her she can't have her friend over until it's done, I'm thinking that time is probably coming a little early for me. I still have this dream that that won't happen (I blame the Gilmore Girls for offering false hope.) But I would guess that every parent thinks that, and most are disappointed.

If genetics has its way, 32 will be the age when she completely loses her mind. (I spent a solid two minutes looking for the bacon bits that were sitting right next to the plate I was wishing to put them on.) I suppose my mother's humorous way of replacing nouns with other nouns can't be too far ahead. (Can you get me my book? It's in the dishwasher -- oven -- toilet -- the thing next to the thing.)

I'll try to keep you updated, but as you can tell, I'm horrible at keeping written records.

UPDATE: She's right now perfecting her signature scent with food coloring and cinnamon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dogs and Birth Control

I always knew I'd never want more than one kid and felt a great relief every time M reached a new milestone. I celebrated the little victories in my mind, 'I'll never have to buy jars of baby food again', 'I'll never have to pretend there's a Santa again', et cetera, et cetera. I really haven't missed any of those times, although I enjoyed them while they were here, knowing that they would go by quickly. Now that she's school-aged and fun to talk to and play with, getting a unique sense of humor and really learning her place in the world, I'm enjoying it even more because I know the next stage is 'I hate you, but can you drive me to my friend's house and then both of us to the mall and then pick us up in two hours? Oh, and I need $50. '

I come from a family of five children and was sort of over the big family thing. Plus, three of those children were younger than I am, so I feel I did my share of mothering over the years. I also felt that M was such a good kid (although a very fussy baby) that any other kid would just be a disappointment. I wasn't secretly wishing for a boy, or a girl whose favorite color was green; I was happy with the half mini-me, half mini-jeff I was lucky enough to get. Plus, after my undrugged natural childbirth experience, I sort of promised myself I would never do that again. I truly have an awesome respect for women who can, but I know I would spend that nine months in an anxiety-attack filled haze, trying to deny the inevitable ending. Although I really enjoyed the wonders of pregnancy,
and I truly missed them once it was over (the feeling of something growing and moving inside of me, the wonderful way foods had so much flavor) , I really didn't like the fact that there was no way out of it besides that beautiful life ripping its way out.

But ever since M got our dog Roland for her fourth birthday, I had this plan to get a new dog every five years. That way, I'd never be without a dog. Oh, what a genius I am! Why aren't all canine lovers as smart as me? Without doing any research or planning, M and I came home from a routine visit to a pet store with a five-month old puppy. Immediately Roland hated Jake. Since then, toleration is about as good as it gets.
Jake's life consists mostly of finding new ways of ruining Roland's, making sure he has not a moment of peace or satisfaction. While they do unite during territory breaches from alien dogs and they occasionally forget their hatred in the excitement of car trips to the doggy park, I know their innocent-looking, leg-flailing slumber consists solely of dogicidal plots against the other.

It's weird how completely different my relationship is with both dogs compared to when I just had one. Jake will never be the center of attention that Roland once was. Not to mention that you forget, after you have a trained dog, that they don't all just come that way. I have to steal moments away from Jake to give Roland some doggy-love without Jake butting his way into the mix, forcing Roland to retreat. And when I give Jake affection in front of Roland, he looks at me like he just watched me strangle his doggy-mom (which, coincidentally, I threaten to go back in time and do to Jake's mother frequently.) I feel guilty when I can't protect Roland from the craziness of Jake, seeing as he never asked for a twerpy, abusive little brother. Worst of all, it makes me think of how one day Roland will no longer be with us and Jake will, and that's irritating because Roland is a far superior dog. Jake is learning, but he's really not very interested in doing what humans want; he's more interested in doing what Roland doesn't want.

And just recently I realized this must happen to families when they have another kid. I mean, we all know that every parent loves their kids equally, [insert other such bullshit here], but there's no mistaking that there are a limited number of hours in the day. There's a reason that the once-only child will, a lot of times, act out once their little brother or sister is born. It absolutely has to shake the foundation of that bond, especially when you're bringing home a baby that needs so much attention that it turns both parents into walking zombies for months. How could a kid not feel a little pushed aside? I'm sure that there are just as many positives to having a sibling as well; having a playmate you get to boss around, getting an ego boost while helping them learn the things you've already mastered. But I think I would really mourn the connection I have with M now if I had another kid. There's no way it would ever be the same.

So I guess what I'm saying is that my brilliant plan to live dog-full forever has only reinforced my decision to have only one child, while comically forcing me to live on the other side of that decision as well. I wonder if any parents ever think this after Number Two is born, but love Number Two so much, they refuse to admit it to themselves or others. Being that he's a dog, I can say that, if I had it all to do over again, I probably wouldn't have brought Jake home. My intentions were good, though: I thought Roland would love a playmate, and envisioned walking down the street like one of those cool multi-dog owners, all in control of my pack. Turns out, I just have to take twice as many single-dog walks and half of them are spent apologizing to pedestrians and homeowners.

So anyways, grandkids, grand-dogs, whoever is still listening, the moral of this story is: don't ever get a dog from a pet store. Those dogs are effing crazy and will ruin your life. Or maybe it's more something like -- what is that saying again?
"Plans are worthless. Planning is invaluable."
The rare times when life lets you follow through on a plan, it's not always what you envisioned.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Religion & Politics

Okay, kiddos, now's the time to just get it all out in the open. Since we're family, I feel I can talk to you about my true views on the important things of life that we all spend so much effort trying to avoid talking about in public.

First off, religion. I don't believe there is a god. I don't have anything against people who do; I think we all tell ourselves things that aren't true every day just to get through it. Denial is possibly human's true best friend. (Sorry, canines, you're a close second). If you become a better person by believing in a book and joining your community in prayer, more power to you.

I believe in Good and Evil in the same way I believe in matter and antimatter; there will always be both, and they'll always be fighting against each other. I believe in the forces of nature and human nature. I believe in humor. I believe in evolution. I believe evolution, ironically enough, created god. People that believe in god have hope and an appreciation for life; it would make sense that these people would have a greater chance of surviving and pass their beliefs on.

If we look throughout history, the stories really haven't changed that much. Some of the stories of the bible are stories that have been adapted from the time that we were sacrificing virgins to the sun. Some of the same stories, and a lot of the same ideas, are shared across the different religions. It's obvious that the authors of these stories truly had knowledge about human nature, and we would be foolish not to embrace the lessons they have left for us, whilst navigating the highs and lows of life.

But I just have a hard time buying that people were chosen by an all-powerful being to have an afterlife, and to be taught lessons through horrible experiences that are all really just tests to see if we truly are worthy. It doesn't make sense. If a horrible person raises a child in an unspeakable environment, where the child has no chance of being a decent person, does that child go to hell? Do the parents? Or is it their parents' faults?

I won't even get into what it means for the insane.

Beyond all this are the people and organizations who have hijacked the worlds' religions for their own agendas. It's nearly impossible anymore to have a political discussion without religion coming into the mix. Because somewhere along the way, in this country and others, powerful people realized that the blind faith of religious followers could be manipulated to their advantage. Our world has been held hostage by 'religious' wars that are more about money and control than they are about gods. Somehow Fox News convinces the poor and easily-frightened that what's good for them is what's good for big business, and anyone who tells them otherwise is just a terrorist trying to take down their religion and/or country.

Religion is still being used throughout the world to keep women submissive. Do Catholic women in America just roll their eyes while the pope continues to support the notion that ovaries make a person unable to be a spiritual leader? And we've got it easy compared to the rest of the world.

So now, instead of it being a crutch for people to lean on in their times of need and a place to be accepted, religion has become a force of intolerance and exclusivity. Instead of Christians judging not lest they be judge, they're donating their family's nest eggs or their children's college funds to keep gays from getting married. Instead
of 'hurting no one so that no one may hurt you' Muslims are strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up random strangers that happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It angers me that this happens and saddens me that the rest of us have allowed it to.

I'm sorry if anyone is offended by my disbelief
. Actually, strike that, I'm not. If you're offended by someone else's personal beliefs, which have absolutely no effect on your life, then you need to grow up or go to therapy. My thoughts can't hurt you. Do I picket your church? No. Do I smile and say thank you, when you tell me god loves me or to have a blessed day? Yes. Because I know that your life has been shaped by events and people and tragedies and fears, just like everyone else's, and they have led you to where you are, just as my journey has led me here. I don't think there are many people out there that aren't striving to be better in some little way, and I won't smite someone for doing that in a different way than I do. I also will not apologize for looking for my own peace in my own way.

All right. I'll get off my high horse in a minute. But grandkids, it's important to know what you believe in and surround yourself with people who support you, even if they don't always agree with you. Oh, and bonus points if they can cook.