The oddest of treats

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I’ve always been a popcorn junkie. I freakin’ love it. I’ll watch a movie, just so I can eat popcorn while I do it.

My popcorn of choice is hot air popcorn, popped in a $10 popper I got a few years ago and have used more times than I can count. When I was still eating dairy, I would use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (you can’t believe it because it pretty much is) Spray. It was perfect for popcorn because it would evenly spread the buttery flavor before sprinkling on sea salt. Unfortunately, after I went vegan, I was left without a good spray for my popcorn. GFA Brands makes a couple of Smart Balance sprays, but they have dairy in them. I wrote to GFA to encourage them to make an Earth Balance spray and they wrote back to tell me there were no plans for such an item. Bummer.

So, over the last year I’ve gotten used to drizzling olive oil on my popcorn, then sprinkling it with sea salt and nutritional yeast. I’ve grown to love it and even though friends look at me strange, they’ve generally liked it, too.

But a month or so ago I’ve found my new obsession: olive oil infused with essence of blood oranges. Blood oranges!

Now, after I pop my gigantic bowl of popcorn, I’ll drizzle just a little of this orange olive oil on and mix it around the entire bowl as much as I can. Then, I resume with regular olive oil, nutritional yeast, and sea salt. The result is that the whole bowl of popcorn smells a little orange-y. While it may sound gross, I love it. And until GFA starts making Earth Balance spray, this will be my go-to choice.

Podcasts Galore

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One:: Erik Marcus is back from a two-month hiatus from his Erik’s Diner podcast. He’s moving to a weekly format, which I think will work out well for him. Also, be sure to buy Meat Market. A review is forthcoming (and would have been here by now if it wasn’t for that nasty hard drive crash I had last month).

Two: Our pals over at VeganFreaks now have their own podcast as well. I’m in the midst of reading their new book, Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World (official site). It’s like Living With Meat Eaters for my generation (whatever that means). It’s a good read so far. A long review, again, is forthcoming.

Three: An Animal-Friendly Life has just started podcasting, too. Haven’t listened to it yet, but will be checking them out this weekend, as I’ll be doing a lot of driving. There is no associated book that I’ll be reviewing, but I feel like I should say “forthcoming” anyway.

I have a podcast, too, but it has nothing to do with vegetarianism. I did a segment for Erik’s Diner once. That’s kind of close, right?

Wegmans Cruelty

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Compassionate Consumers has a new video available on DVD and for download titled Wegmans Cruelty. It focuses on the conditions at Wegmans’ egg plants and the treatment that the hens there receive. Wegmans makes use of the Animal Care Certified label, which, of course, is an industry-developed set of rules that mean absolutely nothing. Birds are still allowed to be crammed into battery cages, their beaks are still permitted to be burned off without painkiller, and they can be starved to force a new egg-laying cycle.

The video is very well-produced and while those of us that have seen all the standard factory farming videos won’t be surprised by what’s shown, it feels good to see members of Compassionate Consumers during the open rescue. They take care of some of the most neglected hens and do the job that Wegmans themselves won’t do: remove carcasses that had clearly been there for weeks from the cages.

The most powerful point in the video comes during a recorded phone conversation with a Wegmans representative that insists the company meets-and-exceeds animal care standards and that having sick or dead birds isn’t in their best financial interest. This conversation is the audio backdrop for video footage that shows exactly the opposite of everything the representative says.

So why did they target Wegmans? I imagine it’s because Wegmans is one of the companies that, when approached with this information and footage, may actually do something. They’ve been named the best place to work by Fortune and are generally considered to be good to both their employees and customers. They feature a nice selection of organic fruits and vegetables as well as fairly priced health and natural foods. Let’s just hope that they can extend their compassion and sense of fairness to their animals as well.