Challenged by a talking hen

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I’ve been reading the Oz books with Rasine for about a year now. There have been some animal-friendly parts in the first two books, particularly with the Tinman, a gentle pacifist of a character that never wants to harm a living being.

We’re on the third book, Ozma of Oz and we came across an interesting passage where Dorothy’s own eating habits are challenged by a talking hen named Billina:

“What are you doing?” asked Dorothy.

“Getting my breakfast, of course,” murmured the hen, busily pecking away.

“What do you find?” inquired the girl, curiously.

“Oh, some fat red ants, and some sand-bugs, and once in a while a tiny crab. They are very sweet and nice, I assure you.”

“How dreadful!” exclaimed Dorothy, in a shocked voice.

“What is dreadful?” asked the hen, lifting her head to gaze with one bright eye at her companion.

“Why, eating live things, and horrid bugs, and crawly ants. You ought to be ‘SHAMED of yourself!”

“Goodness me!” returned the hen, in a puzzled tone; “how queer you are, Dorothy! Live things are much fresher and more wholesome than dead ones, and you humans eat all sorts of dead creatures.”

“We don’t!” said Dorothy.

“You do, indeed,” answered Billina. “You eat lambs and sheep and cows and pigs and even chickens.”

“But we cook ‘em,” said Dorothy, triumphantly.

“What difference does that make?”

“A good deal,” said the girl, in a graver tone. “I can’t just ‘splain the diff’rence, but it’s there. And, anyhow, we never eat such dreadful things as BUGS.”

“But you eat the chickens that eat the bugs,” retorted the yellow hen, with an odd cackle. “So you are just as bad as we chickens are.”

This made Dorothy thoughtful. What Billina said was true enough, and it almost took away her appetite for breakfast. As for the yellow hen, she continued to peck away at the sand busily, and seemed quite contented with her bill-of-fare.

It might be tough for even the most hardened meat-eater to justify their habits if they had to explain them to the animals they were eating.

Last minute vegan gift ideas

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Have you left your shopping until the last minute? Need a few final ideas for someone on your list? Well, here you go! Just make sure you’re not seeing the person until after the holiday or spring for the faster shipping, because it’s getting late!

1. Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas

Nava’s most recent cookbook is a gorgeous hardback with beautiful food photography and holiday-themed dishes and menus beyond just Winter celebrations. It’s a wonderful collection that will inspire you in the kitchen year-round. We’ve only had a chance to make one or two things from it so far, but are looking forward to trying out a couple more over Christmas. (Full review forthcoming.)

2. Brownbird Rudy Relic: I Am the Juke

His first full-length album remains one of my all-time favorites and his latest is another great collection of original “holler blues.” He goes the old-school route once again, recording on a 1950′s Concertone (One Track) reel-to-reel with a 1940′s era RCA Victor Radio mic in an abandoned Brooklyn loft. You’ll be up and out of your seat in no time. (Plus, this is likely the first blues album to reference N.W.A in the opening seconds.)

3. Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal

Are you vegan? Are you or your partner pregnant? Sayward Rebhal’s handy little book published by Herbivore is one you’ll want to have your nightstand right next to Reed Mangels’ Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book. Full of both nutritional guidance as well as practical advice, the Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide is a light (but informative!), fun (but helpful!) read about what can be a challenging, confusing time. (Full review forthcoming.)

… or, 4. something from one of the businesses featured in our profile or any of the many other great vegan businesses!

Vegan Biz Profile: My Vegan Baker

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Our seventh entry in the Vegan Biz Profile series is My Vegan Baker, a Northern Virginia-based vegan baking business started by Kristin Stolz. I had the chance to taste some of her baked goods when she was getting started a few years ago, and let me tell you: they’re good.

Tell us about My Vegan Baker. What inspired you to start it?

I started My Vegan Baker two years ago shortly after moving here from Los Angeles. I wasn’t finding vegan options in Northern Virginia and I thought if I am looking, others are looking, too. I’ve always baked and one day a friend was telling me how good something I made her was and that was it. I started the long paperwork process that day.

Do baked goods make good holiday presents?

Baked goods make great presents! Who wouldn’t like a box of delicious mint chocolate chip brownies, tasty oatmeal bars, or even a cake? Vegans like quality baked goods as much as their non-vegan counterparts. This is the perfect time of year to show someone you care by giving the gift of tasty treats. They’re perfect for teachers, too. They probably don’t need another mug or apple ornament. But, a tasty gift they can share with others… now that’s something they would love.

Do you offer a vegan fruitcake?

While I don’t do a vegan fruitcake, I do take special orders. I do make an amazing vegan kransekake (see picture). This Norwegian delight is delicious. It’s made from almonds and is fun to share. A great conversation piece and fun for a party. If you’re looking for something you don’t see on the menu, just ask. Which leads to the next question.

What items do you offer that are particularly unique?

Vegan whoopie pies. Delicious.

Tell us about another vegan-owned business that you love that other people may not know about.

Another great vegan business is Arbonne. They offer botanically-based, certified vegan skin care, anti-aging, detoxification, nutrition, weight loss, and cosmetics. Everything is formulated in Switzerland and made in the US. This is important as Switzerland has such high standards relating to what goes into personal care products. Arbonne does not use parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, mineral oil, or other harmful chemicals. You can find them at www.arbonne.com. Their products need to be purchased through an independent consultant, of which I am one. I have used the products for years and believe in them. They also have a baby line which is so important, especially in light of the lawsuit pending with Johnson and Johnson and the ingredients in their baby products.

Vegan Biz Profile: Nice Shoes

Our sixth entry in the Vegan Biz Profile series is Nice Shoes, an all-vegan shoe store in Vancouver, BC owned and operated by Joanne Chang (pictured, hugging shoes).

Tell us about Nice Shoes.

We are the first all vegan shoe store in Vancouver, BC Canada. We sell online as well as at our store located on Fraser Street & 19th Avenue. We’re vegan/activist owned and operated. We exist mainly to fill a void in the Canadian vegan community (oh and of course to CRUSH the leather industry!!). Prior to our opening, Canadians have to go across the border to get decent vegan footwear or order online and pay a bunch of unnecessary customs fees and shipping. To ease the burden on Canadian shoppers, we offer free shipping across Canada for any orders over $100.

What great new items do you have for people buy this holiday season?

There’s too much to mention! Our hottest sellers right now are the Snug Boots by Vegetarian Shoes, they’re basically Ugg boots without the cruelty. Harvey’s Seat Belt Bags are beautiful purses made of seat belts. Jaan no silk satin skinny ties. Dansko rain shoes – perfect for the rainy Vancouver weather and approved by the American Podiatric Association for comfort. We also have great stocking stuffers like A Sent of Scandal Candles, Go Max Go chocolate bars and Truth belts.

You can check out our full Holiday Gift Guide here!

What’s been the biggest challenge of being a vegan retailer that sells online as well as at a brick-and-mortar shop?

Each aspect presents a different challenge. As a brick-and-mortar, we had to find a an affordable location within the city of Vancouver. This means opening up shop in a non-shopping district. Although we are on a major bus route and within 10 minutes walking distance from a very popular shopping area (Main Street), people have trouble wrapping their heads around coming here to shop. We also do not get much foot traffic.

As an online retailer, we find that people are apprehensive about shopping online for shoes due to the fit. In order to ease the minds of our customers, we offer free shipping and one free ship back for size exchanges. It’s not a profit making offer, but we are happy to help our customers get what they need.

There’s got to be a story behind the guitar straps in your store. They have their own specific top-level category in the shop and you have 12 options! Are you aiming to be the world’s foremost retailer of vegan guitar straps?

Actually, there’s not much behind it! We (my husband & I) have been vegans for nearly 20 years and Couch Guitar Straps is just one of those companies that has been around since the days when only a handful of vegan businesses existed. Couch straps and belts are hand sewn by vegan guitarists in downtown LA and they use upcycled car seat vinyl – how cool is that? They make such cool guitar straps, we can’t help wanting all of them. We also hear all the time from our guitar playing customers that it’s nearly impossible to find vegan guitar straps. So this is a win-win!

Tell us about a favorite vegan shop of yours that others may not know about.

I’d like to give a plug to a soon-to-be vegan shop. In 2012, Fairy Cakes, a vegan cupcake store is going to open up two doors down from us! Besides being vegan, Fairy Cakes caters to people with food allergies. And for the salt lovers, they will also be carrying savory cupcakes!

That said, if anyone out there would like to join us on Fraser Street, we are not opposed to the idea of being a part of a Canadian vegan mini mall. Just thought I’d throw this out there…