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Monday, 25 August 2014

An Open Letter to Hope for Wildlife

Dear Hope, 

What can I say, when I moved back home to Nova Scotia and heard of your wonderful organization, I was thrilled that there was a place that had compassionate people who wanted to work to save animals. I borrowed the first 2 seasons of Hope for Wildlife on dvd from the local library and was enthralled watching all of the beautiful creatures NS has. Seeing yourself and your hardworking volunteers saving, nurturing and bringing so many animals back from the brink of death and to witness the day of freedom that was unsure for so many. You gave me hope.

Yesterday was your annual open house. I was extremely excited. I arrived with my two good friends and husband. The crowds were unbelievable. I saw Hope doing interviews and got a bit starstruck, as silly as that may seem. I didn't approach her because I knew there was so much going on.

My friend Sam and I made our way over to the petting zoo. As ethical vegans, we had mixed feelings about this. Thinking of the stress these animals must be under and of course, knowing that these are most likely animals used for someone's own purpose. There were a few goats and a couple sheep. Magnificent creatures. We soaked in their pure goodness, trying to not get overwhelmed by the crowds. Samantha immediately mentioned to me that the sheeps tails were docked. This is a painful procedure, normally done without anesthesia in which they cut the lamb's tails off before 6 months of age.

My biggest notice while with the goats and sheep were just how reactive children are to animals. We are naturally compassionate beings. We are born loving animals and being around them is so thrilling and so exciting for children. I question whether these same children would want to consume the hotdogs and hamburgers being served on the BBQ.

We wandered around, enjoyed seeing the baby squirrels, chipmunk, raccoons and many more beautiful animals.

Then our tummies started growling. What are 4 vegans going to find to eat? You are at an event that is supposed to be raising money for animals yet animals are on the menu? Why is the life of a cow so different than that of the deer you save?

I did, however, notice they had veggie burgers as well. I got excited until I approached one of the people BBQing and was told that "no they can't clean or use a separate grill because they are too busy and don't have time." My immediate response was "then having veggie burgers is pointless." The mass majority of vegans or vegetarians do not want to consume something that is being grilled on the very same grill with animal juices and where pieces of animal flesh were. Thank you for the thought but in the end, it was a pointless gesture.

We moved away from the BBQ, hungry and becoming more and more agitated by the whole event. But the kicker came when we walked up a slope to see a booth lined with fur coats. I stared for several seconds, turned to Sam and said "did I just walk into the Twilight Zone?" I was so disturbed and scared I might start a fight if I approached that I don't know even what exactly they were there for. Searching a little bit online later it seems to me it was for an Inuit center of some sort. How could an event for animals condone allowing fur coats there?

I also witnessed lots of animal pelts on the booth across from the coats and also on a tarot card readers tent. As well as several animal skulls here and there. To me this seems like major disconnect. As a vegan, animal activist and animal lover, seeing these things upset me to the core. You are raising money for animals yet displaying their death everywhere. It made no sense whatsoever to any of us.

We left immediately after this, truly in shock, shaken to the core. My heart ached and all ounce of hope I felt was gone.

So here's what I suggest, Hope and Hope for Wildlife staff, whose hearts I believe are in the right place. If you truly love animals, I challenge you to not only look into veganism but search what happens on family and factory farms every single day. Watch Earthlings, Vegucated (also available on Netflix), Speciesism (there is a free public screening in Halifax on Sept. 30th) and a multitude of other animal films. I ask you to listen to Gary Yourofsky's best speech. Read the many animal and vegan related books on the market. Try some of our local vegan restaurants such as Wild Leek, enVie and Fruition. Come visit Halifax Vegfest on September 20th. Visit my website which has databases for all things vegan My blog also has a Halifax vegan guide which is perfect to get people started who live locally.

Peace begins on your plate. The animals you save are no different than the ones you consume. All animals deserve life and all animals want to live. 

Choose compassion, go vegan!

Ashley Leslie
The Vegan Peach

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box-- August 2014

 This was my first ever Vegan Cuts beauty box. This box was curated by My Beauty Bunny and included items from Pacifica, Zabana Essentials, Emani, Enfusia and Balanced Guru. Let's see what I think of the items:

Pacifica  Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream: This was my first time using a BB cream but I constantly hear about them in commercials and magazines. Truth be told, I wasn't even sure what it was and honestly, I still don't haha! That being said, I love this stuff! It matches your skin tone perfectly and is not heavy and gives you a nice colour and glow, as well as moisturizing the skin. This could easily become a new must have in my makeup bag. 


Zabana Essenstials: French Green clay facial cleansing bar. I automatically liked the idea of this. Clay is so good for the skin and this seemed like a convenient way to add some to your daily routine. I have been using my bar for a few days now and really enjoy the way it feels on the skin. It has a nice light scent which I love but my skin has unfortunately started to breakout again. I have uber sensitive skin and I fight with acne daily. I can't say I'd repurchase this as I don't think it's agreeing with my skin but recommend it to people that don't suffer from acne like I. It's really affordable to order on their website!

 Enfusia: All-natural spa bath salts and soaks. I love baths and I love bath salts because they are fantastic for sore muscles after a long day. These ones from Enfusia smelt divine and left my skin feeling great and my muscles refreshed. This is definitely a product I would buy again.

 Emani: Mineral Hybrid Cream for brighter eyes in Speechless. When I first opened this I wasn't sure what it was even for but I absolutely loved the colours. It's breathtaking. I figured out it was for your eyes and have used it everyday since. It is so gorgeous and you honestly don't need to do anything else to your eyes but use this. I am lazy when it comes to make up, so this is perfect for me. This is also my favourite item from the box. I love love love it! 

Balanced Guru: Energy mist in Intuition. Basically this is sort of like a perfume or air freshener but it tells you to inhale it when sprayed in the air or spray it onto a scarf and inhale it. Really neat concept but this scent is a little strong for me. I am scent sensitive so inhaling it was a bit too much but I am going to use it as a air freshener instead.

Thanks Vegan Cuts!

Watch my unboxing video

Monday, 18 August 2014

Informal Rant-- I think being a judgmental ass makes YOU less of a vegan.

This started as a Facebook status and turned into a novel, so thought I would just turn it into a blog post.

I really don't understand the mass majority of YouTuber's. I am told I am judgmental because I use words like "carnists" or simply discuss why eating meat and animal products is bad but then someone who is supposed to be vegan spends their time judging other vegans based on how "healthy" they eat. WHAT IN THE HELL DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH VEGANISM?! Seriously!

People like Freelee spend their time calling people fat, making whole videos calling celebrities and YouTubers names and I am the one who is judgmental? I get rude comments because the food I eat is "processed garbage, sugar laden, fried, etc." Except you know what folks, most of these people don't even really know what I eat. Yeah, I show convenience food in my videos so people can see just how easy veganism is but that's not all I eat for crying out loud. And even if it is, IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE IT'S VEGAN AND VEGANISM IS FOR ANIMALS! Shocking, right? What a concept.

I am just so tired of being told I am the one doing a "disservice" to veganism yet these people seem to completely forget what the real purpose of veganism is. If you want to eat mangos all day, go ahead! But stop acting like someone who eats Daiya Cheese and gardein is somehow less of a vegan than you are.

People go vegan because they have options now. I am sorry but most people will not go fruitarian or be excited to try veganism when all they can eat is carrots and kale. I love animals, that's why I don't eat them or their secretions. Unfortunately, the mass majority of people are growing up on heavy, greasy, sugary, animal fatty foods. I was one of them. I never gave up those things because I didn't like the taste, I gave them up because my compassion was worth more than my tastebuds. And guess what, my tastebuds love vegan food! Going vegan was the easiest thing I have ever done because my soul knew it was what was right but it wouldn't have been nearly as easy without vegan "processed" foods. All these substitutes give people a cruelty-free option without giving up the taste. That's what it's about.

If you think this makes me less of a vegan, go right ahead and think that but I think being a judgmental ass makes YOU less of a vegan.

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Healthy Bug-- A Vegan Review

The Healthy Bug is located at 3514 Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax. A few weeks ago, the owner Lou asked me to lend a hand in expanding their vegan section of the store. I was thrilled and honored to play a part in not only helping this store expand business but also get more vegan products available in HRM. We discussed lots of possibilities and I think made great progress. So to all of my vegan and vegetarian homies in the Halifax area, prepare your boots for great things coming to the Healthy Bug. 

That being said, they already do offer some awesome vegan products and I want to do a small review of the products I purchased and was given (I was handed a 50 dollar gift card for helping which was unexpected and greatly appreciated). Many of these products I have not found anywhere else in the HRM. The Healthy Bug also has very reasonable prices and actually many identical items that other local stores may carry are either cheaper here or identical in prices. 

So here are my reviews: 

Green Cuisine tempeh burgers: It took me a long time to like tempeh I have to admit but now I finally love it. These were awesome. Huge and very filing, great flavour and easy to spice to how you prefer.

Sol Cuisine's new meatless chicken in Tangy Korean BBQ, Spicy Chipotle Tinga and Ginger Lime Teriyaki. I had been anticipating trying these since their announcement and they did not disappoint. These are gluten-free, that's right GLUTEN-FREE vegan chicken strips. And they are incredible. I honestly can't pick a favourite flavour because I loved them all. I tried them in both wraps and stirfry's and wish I had of had more to try many other ways. The options are truly endless. They are also super easy to cook and perfect for a quick, easy and delicious meal.

Rawkin' Cakes & Creations is a local business that makes vegan and raw sweet treats. Where do I even begin? Her creations are incredible. I tried both the macaroons and peppermint patties. The macaroons remind me so much of Hail Merry, who is another vegan company but they don't sell in Canada, so this was a real treat! Rich, sweet, pure decadent deliciousness. When I bit into the peppermint patty I nearly cried. It tasted exactly like a York patty. I haven't had one of those in over 3 years. Absolutely amazing. I can't rave enough about her incredible products.

Late July sweet potato chips. These are gluten-free, organic crispy sweet potato chips. Lightly salted and full of flavour. They are great with salsa but I like them as is as well. I love crunchy snacks and this was a perfect combination of flavours and crunch.

Nutribiotic long lasting deodorant in mango melon scent. I was out of deodorant and saw this and thought I would give it a try. Finding effective deodorant as a vegan is probably one of the trickiest tasks. You see, natural deodorants aren't antiperspirants because the things they used to stop sweat are harmful to your body and sweating is technically natural regardless of how irritating it can be. I love the smell of this stuff, it's like a tropical paradise but unfortunately, it hasn't been too effective for me. It's a game of trial and error when it comes to trying not to stink up the place by noon. :)

Sencha Naturals green tea leaf mints in tropical mango. I love tea and I love mango, what is not to love? These mints are refreshing, taste amazing and leave your mouth tasting sweet.

Pur gum in their two new flavours coolmint and cinnamon. What's so great about Pur? Well first off, they are aspartame free which is almost unheard of in the gum world. Aspartame is really icky for you. They are also non-gmo, vegan and gluten-free. The coolmint is a great new addition to the Pur family. I love anything minty. Cinnamon is my husbands and I didn't try it as I have a sensitivity to cinnamon. I love Pur!

Coconut Bliss in mint galactica. This is a very rare occasion. I tend to be the goddess of sweet things in that I love them but for some reason, I just can't get on the Coconut Bliss wagon. I want to love it but I just don't. Almost all my vegan friends love this stuff and it's actually the majority of their favourite vegan ice cream but I will stick with my So Delicious. I find the texture to be grainy and non-smooth. For this flavour, the mint was so strong my whole mouth was cold and I could taste nothing but the mint. I guess we can't love everything. Sorry Luna & Larry.

I want to say a big thank you to The Healthy Bug and Lou for giving me such a great opportunity and for letting me try out some products I have been wanting to! Until next time, ta ta for now little peaches.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Power of (Vegan) Hugs

Positivity does the body and veganism good. 

On Canada Day, a group of us decided to celebrate Canada's birthday with some positive activism. The six of us and my husband, who took the video and photos, handed out hundreds of vegan pamphlets, leaflets, stickers, vegan candy and of course, lots of hugs! The amount of positive feedback we received was astounding. We met several vegans, transitioning vegans, plant based dieters for health reasons, curious omnivores and vegetarians. We got asked lots of questions and even had people taking photos of us or with us. We met a raw vegan food blogger Carpe Raw who spotted us from the ferry, who ran over and gave us big hugs and told us about her vegan blog. We met several individuals who had family members who were vegans and excited to see us out and about. The positivity was truly astounding and one of the best days I have had in sometime.

There's nothing more powerful than positive energy and a vegan hug of course. :)

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Vegan Peach's Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe

Caesar salad was always one of my favourite dishes. I remember the day I found out that caesar dressing was not vegetarian, let alone vegan, very vividly. It was a day of mourning. A couple months ago, I decided that it was time to try making my own dressing. I can't believe it only took 9 years of vegetarianism and 3 years of veganism to try it. Last night I served this at a potluck and people loved it and kept asking for the recipe, so here it is. This is my original recipe which was revised from another recipe. It's quick, easy and delicious. Enjoy!

The serving size if for one medium sized bowl of salad. Double the recipe if you are serving more.

2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp agave
1/2 cup vegan mayo (I use Vegenaise)
salt and pepper

Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender. Chill for 1 hour.

Vegan Cuts Snack Box-- May 2014

I do not have a review for the Jyoti or Saffron Road Rogan Josh sauce as I have not tried them yet. I also do not have a review for the JIVA hot chocolate yet, hoping to try it tonight.
Another month, another Vegan Cuts snack box. May's box was curated by Vegan Yack Attack which featured not only snack foods, but meal foods as well. I was particularly stoked about the Beanfields ranch chips, Nature's Bakery lemon fig bar and the At the Table Together pizza dough. Now for some reviews:
Meeka likes the box too. I do not have a photo of the olives, Dave ate those before I got to a chance. I am not an olive fan.

Meatless Select, Vegetarian Taco Filling is actually vegan (obviously). It's a convenient way to buy a faux meat product since it would take a long time to go out of date. Also easy to store and you don't have to worry about keeping it refrigerated. I recommend this more if you are a single person and only have to worry about cooking meals for yourself because you unfortunately don't get very much in a small can like this. This was enough to make 2 tacos, so my husband tried one and I tried one and then I made more taco meat myself with another product. Cooking is easy, you just heat and serve. I personally found the flavour very mild, a little too oily but not terrible. My husband on the other hand loved it. I can't say it's something I would spend the money on myself but it was nice to have the opportunity to try it out.
The easy make pizza dough mix from At the Table Together, I was very excited about. I love pizza but I don't love making dough so this was a great alternative. You simply add some carbonated water and oil. Now here's where I got disappointed, you have to leave the dough to rise for 3 hours to overnight. I was planning on making it right away until I realized this, so I ended up just leaving it overnight to use the next day. My other complaint was the fact the dough was extremely sticky, like I mean I touched it and got dough all over my hands which I couldn't get off easily at all. So make sure you use lots and lots of flour when handling it, placing it on a surface, etc. The dough was pretty tasty once I actually made the pizza but much like the Meatless Select, it didn't make very much. It was a small pizza that my husband and I split. This is another item I can't say I would purchase again myself.

Supereats kale and chia chips. So for anyone who knows me, you know I am not a kale fan. I try, I really do but it just doesn't work for me. But I did see potential in these possibly masking the kale taste with the beans and other things added. Unfortunately, I was wrong. When you initially put them in your mouth, you taste more the black bean and corn than anything else but the longer they are in your mouth, the more the kale flavour comes out. I ate 2 and couldn't eat anymore. I passed them on to my friend Sam and she devoured the bag. She's lucky because she can't taste bitter, so these were great to her.

Nature's Bakery make my favourite fig bars. They are like fig newtons but better. I was really excited about this new lemon flavour from them but have to admit I was a little disappointed. It's not bad and doesn't taste awful, I just didn't really taste the lemon flavour very well. It's extremely mild. I still love Nature's Bakery but don't think this would be my first choice when buying.

Beanfields Ranch chips were something I had been dying to try since they were announced. I loved their nacho flavored ones so naturally I needed to try these. Although they are tasty, I was still disappointed. I expected a much bolder ranch flavour, instead it was very light and mild, kind of boring. I didn't hate them or anything, I just didn't love them like I wanted to. Another disappointment.

Simply Sesame in vanilla with almond bits. Fact: I am not much of a sesame seed fan but I still had hope for this. I tried it on my morning bagel and unfortunately, I wasn't in love with it. Sesame has a very burnt flavour to me and this did as well. The vanilla was very mild but thankfully gave it enough sweetness I didn't hate it completely. I wouldn't purchase this myself though.

I admit, I am fussy. I thought that I was going to love this box but it turned out that there were no items in the box I particularly adored. Nothing goes to waste though, I make sure of that. I share the items I don't care for with friends and family and am happy to give anything a go at least once. Better luck next time.