Developers! Join Our New Open Source Community - VH: Playground
Are you a vegan developer looking to use your skills to defend animal rights? Join our latest venture, VH: Playground!  VH: Playground is our open source community where you can contribute to animal rights projects. We acknowledge that developers are busy people and volunteering on our core team can be a major commitment that developers don’t always have time for. This community allows you to pop in and out as you please and allows you to contribute on your own time.  Due to limited spots on our core team, we only recruit developers that are active in VH: Playground. Our team leaders are heavily involved and will take note of developers who frequently and consistently contribute quality work to projects. So, If you are interested in being a part of the core team and applying to Vegan Hacktivsts, you should also join this new community. If you are a vegan developer, join our Discord: https://discord.gg/Yt3zADeJKx and help us fight for animal liberation!
A quick update on Vegan Bootcamp!
Hey everyone! 👋 We haven't talked too much about Vegan Bootcamp since it's 2.0 release, so we figured we'd do a quick update and give you some insight on how it's doing! 🥰We now have over 10,000+ registered users!Exactly 3725+ courses have been successfully completed.A whopping 125,000+ clicks have been recorded from referrals.Our signup ratio for our landing page is a very, very impressive 4.97%.Dominion has been watched 500+ times.We have 3000+ members on the forum, with new posts every week. We've just recently released some new features, including a detailed Search feature on the courses page, and Tags feature for filtering. 👌 More importantly, we've made significant updates to our backend to make Vegan Bootcamp faster, more efficient, and easier to update moving forward. We have some big news to announce in that regards, but we'll save that for another post! 😝 As always, thanks for reading! 💕 🐓
Meet The Vegan Hacktivists Team: David Van Beveren - Our Founder!
Vegan Hacktivists (VH) wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for our supports, patrons, and readers just like you! We are so grateful for every person that engages with our projects and content. We want to give you the chance to learn more about us and the people that dedicate their time to keeping VH operating. Who better to start with than the founder himself, David Van Beveren!  What inspired you to create VH? When I first became an activist I was frustrated with the number of tabs open in my browser. I was searching how to become an activist and I had several organizations open and several more pages of information that was hard to follow. I decided to make VeganActivism.org, a website where you could easily find and apply to animal rights organizations that needed volunteers. After release the feedback was overwhelming and I got a ton of requests to help build it up further - which was amazing. We created a discord group to communicate, named it, and it naturally fell into "what's our next project?" - at that point I knew that building this "group" up to continue these types of projects was the path I wanted to take for my little part in the movement.Can you tell us a bit about the process of creating an organization?  In general, it's a lot of administrative work that requires creating structures upon structures. Our group is pretty unique so over the course of the past two years we've had many different types of structures for our teams to see how they work. Creating a volunteer-based organization is especially challenging because you have to offer something of significant value that's not monetary to keep folks motivated to work, for the animals, for the challenge, for the experience, and the community. I had to create a structure of how we recruit, how we communicate, how we do reports, how we submit code, how we collaborate on changes, how we manage calls, where we communicate, how we group up in teams and how those teams interact with each other. The list goes on and on - but I'm pretty happy with what we've accomplished and we're always evolving!What experience did you have before creating VH?  Before VH I used to run my own company called Campus Orb, we were a software development business that built software for Colleges, Universities and K-12 schools. I had about 50 clients, including Duke and Princeton University. When I saw Dominion for the first time and decided to become an activist, I immediately stopped working on Campus Orb and fully focused on helping the animals in whatever way I could. Eventually, the clients I had moved over to other companies as I was no longer offering updates or services - which was a massive hit on my income and I've been living off savings and donations since then (no regrets!). Before that, I was going to Edinboro University for IT and Business but eventually dropped out to work on Campus Orb as it was growing.Long-term goals for VH? My long-term goals for the organization's health as a whole are for teams to become more self-sustainable, for activists to feel more empowered with the work that they do with us, and for the community to be built up stronger between teams. For members, I want us to eventually be this massive global animal rights organization where activists and organizations can use us to help support them in tech-related needs that have, and be able to keep up with those requests. Right now we get far more requests for help than what our team can offer and it kills me that we have to turn people down due to a lack of volunteers that aren't already busy. It's incredible how much support people need that even if we doubled from 80 to 160 volunteers, we still wouldn't be able to keep up. I want to fix that sustainably. For projects, I want to create more data-driven projects than experimental projects (but still do those, but less) to maximize our impact on animal lives.What has been your biggest challenge with VH? Undoubtedly my biggest challenge has been to create a working environment where our volunteers feel like they are being effective with their time for the animals. When you build software online and work behind a screen you can quickly forget that the strokes of your keyboard really do create real-world actions and consequences for animals. We have to constantly remind ourselves of why we're doing this, reward ourselves when finishing tasks, and remember to look back at past accomplishments. We're always working hard to be able to see the exact numbers, effectiveness and impact we have with each of our projects. One way we're working to accomplish this is with our new data team led by our amazing Project Leader, Suan Chin, and her 5 data scientists! David with Moona (who passed away last year) What has been your proudest moment? There are so many! Likely the most obvious of them being the release of new projects that help animals, but besides those... one that comes to mind was when I met up with 3 other team members in Amsterdam, a project leader, a developer, and a designer. We all had pizza, played some board games, worked, and talked about the organization. It was an incredible day, especially to see a small community growing in the physical world where we could learn more about each other (pre-corona). Since that day I've made an effort whenever travelling to do small meetups with team members - I think the community is second to none when it comes to being effective and happy in what we do.What do you like to do outside of working on VH? I love playing my Handpan (musical instrument) and playing Apex Legends. Besides those two things, I love spending time with friends, working together in shared office spaces, and eating watermelon. :)Do you have advice for anyone who wants to start an organization? Starting an organization is really hard if the topic doesn't revolve around your passion. If it doesn't, you can still find success, but it's likely going to take much more time and much more stress, energy and willpower to make it happen. If you start an organization around your passion, it's easy - you'll always have the drive and energy even on your worst days to get things done. Never let money be your driving factor - ever. Be particularly careful if your organization is animal rights related, without good self-care, even if you're passionate, you can quickly burn out. I know sometimes it feels like caring for yourself and taking time off for yourself is counter-productive, but the animals rather have you working for them at 100%, 70% of the time than 40%, 100% of the time.  Thanks for reading & stay tuned for more interviews with the VH crew! Check out our last post: Your New Vegan Homepage: Daily Nooch
Your New Vegan Homepage: Daily Nooch
The internet is a vast collection of websites and pages, it’s difficult not to get lost in all the information thrown your way. In the vegan community alone there are various Instagram feeds, subreddits, recipe blogs, and so much more. It’s impossible to keep up with the latest news and posts unless you’re connected to the internet 24/7. For this very reason, we created your new homepage: Daily Nooch! What is Daily Nooch? Daily Nooch is a single-page website that has compiled all the most important and latest vegan information to keep you updated with a single glance. The site features recent news, fresh posts on r/vegan, nutritional facts, memes, and more. Daily Nooch also incorporates a few of our own projects such as 5 Minutes 5 Vegans to get your daily activism in, Animal Rights Map for an update on new vegan groups around you, and Vegan Bootcamp to learn something new today. We highly suggest you check out our in-depth blog posts about 5 Minutes 5 Vegans, Animal Rights Map, and Vegan Bootcamp to learn more. Photo by Kyle Hanson on UnsplashBookmark DailyNooch.org! We recommend that you click the “…bookmarking this page” button to simplify your daily internet routine. This way you will always be in the loop and up to date on all things vegan. No other vegan website provides a new fact daily, with changing recipes to try, all alongside new articles and a meme of the day! Your support means the world to us, so head on over to DailyNooch.org and tell your friends! 
Living With Non-Vegans
Living with anyone can be challenging, no matter how much we like the people we live with. There are countless stories about people regretting living even with their best friends. Now imagine living with the people you don't share views with. In that case, you have one more issue on top of the usual concerns. Some people are quite vocal about their non-veganism, and if you have to interact with them, negative feelings may arise on both fronts. While that is certainly difficult, there are ways to make such cases a bit less hard on you. Here are some pieces of advice you can use to deal with negative situations and to even turn them into positive ones. Keep Your Cool Faced with sneery comments, you may be tempted to snap and rant. Sounds cathartic? Sure, but only for a short time. The feeling of letting everything out will soon deflate and you will feel drained. Communication is a two-way street, and to achieve meaningful communication, both parties have to participate. Any words said during a frustration-infused monologue will likely fall on deaf ears. Though ten times more difficult, it would be better for you to remain calm. This takes a large amount of patience and self-control, but it’s rewarding because it enables communication. By active listening and showing interest in questions and comments of non-vegans, you display that you are taking them seriously. Nobody ever learns by being yelled at. Instead, to accept something as valid, we have to come to that conclusion ourselves. Therefore, if you aim to help somebody understand what animals or the environment are going through, try to provide them with a safe space for conversation where they won’t feel attacked. As vegans care deeply about animals and are sensitive to their suffering, it sure is difficult to approach such topics with calmness. I know it is for me. So when I sense I’m getting stirred, I try to summon my inner Earthling Ed. Just like Ed, focus on your desired result and ignore all the instigation. Your goal is to inform, not to "win" an argument. Keeping your cool is easier said than done. You can't always control your anger, but one thing you can do is learn to recognize it. When you notice you're shouting words out of frustration, stop speaking. If needed, go away for a while until you cool off, and try to resist the urge to argue just to be right. Ross Sneddon – UnsplashYou’re Not Alone Feeling isolated from time to time is completely normal. But as a vegan, you may get that feeling a bit more frequently than you usually would. Even if you have some vegan friends, that worm of loneliness can still get to you; maybe they have supportive families or roommates and you’re struggling with yours. But you can turn such doom and gloom into something positive. Knowing you’re experiencing such feelings means that other vegans have also been in your shoes, and if they made it, you can too. Even without local support groups in the form of vegan potlucks or vegan activist groups, whose in-person activities are probably hindered by the coronavirus pandemic, there are online communities where you can share your thoughts and hear from others. Since you’re already reading a blog post on the Vegan Hacktivists site, we invite you to join us at the Vegan Bootcamp. The Bootcamp is a place for all vegans; from those starting veganism and looking for tips and tricks to the long-term vegans who are there for chatting with the community. In whichever ways you decide to cope with isolation, always remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out to people. While we all live in different circumstances, talking to others in vegan communities can help you feel less isolated.You’re an Advocate for the Animals When things get heated and when we feel cornered, we will naturally get defensive. If agitation persists, we tend to use any means to save ourselves, and some of these means are not necessarily glamorous: sarcasm, witty remarks, or maybe even insults. These often won't achieve anything, the other party won't instantly turn vegan because we outwitted them. If anything, such behavior will make them warier of vegans and veganism. Being vegan is about adjusting our lives to live a bit more selflessly. Of course, that doesn't mean putting ourselves last, but it means that we have a higher goal in the background of our actions. While it's easier to snap at those making us uncomfortable, we need to ask ourselves if that approach would be beneficial for the vegan movement; for the animals. If I yell at my sister in a debate and accuse her of being a selfish omnivore, I probably won't inspire her to try a vegan cheese alternative. But if I calmly ask her how come she loves her dog so much, and what exactly makes her dog different from a pig, she might consider a package of fake meat next time when she's shopping. These were just examples, but the point here is to remember that we're not doing this for ourselves, we're doing it for the ones who can't speak, so we'd better be careful with our words to make them count. Alexas_Fotos – UnsplashPlant a Seed Living with non-vegans presents many chances for feeling discomfort, whether you're sharing the fridge, utensils, or just talking about climate or animals. As all households and social dynamics are different, there's no perfect formula for distributing vegan and non-vegan fridge shelves properly. If you have direct issues with someone, explain your situation to them. You should always feel comfortable where you live. But that's just one part of the problem. A bigger issue is communication, especially about veganism. If it comes to it, remember that you can't force anyone to go vegan. The best you can do is to potentially inspire them to give veganism a go, and if you can do that, great! However, don't forget to respect yourself and your mental health. You are a complex person, not a walking encyclopedia on everything vegan. You have a right to distance yourself from an uncomfortable situation. But if you decide to discuss veganism, remind yourself who you're doing it for. At the end of the day, we only have control over our lives. If we live compassionately and if we make others feel encouraged to ask questions, we can unwittingly plant a seed of curiosity. If anyone is aware of the importance of seeds and the mighty plants they become, it's us vegans. Ulleo – Pixabay If you're interested in topics like this one, we once again invite you to the Vegan Bootcamp. We have different courses ranging from information on the dairy industry to fitness, but the ones which would specifically be useful to people living with non-vegans are: Self-Care, Family and Friends, Community and Effective Vegan Outreach (written by Seb Alex!).
We're assembling a new Data & Analytics team! 🍓
We've just started up a new team dedicated to collecting and analyzing data on both Vegan Hacktivists as an organization and the projects that we make. For the past 2 years we've been gathering random statistics on each project but haven't done much further. 🍓 This team, unlike our other teams, is dedicated to data. Team Strawberry's job is to first analyze what data we already collect per project, what data we should be collecting in addition, assign developers to build the data collection we need, and then collect and analyze that data for presentation to leadership. We'll take this data and periodically release 3 month reports on the effectiveness our active projects are achieving, and then use this data to see what our next steps are for either those projects and future ones. 👋 We want to be more effective, and Team Stawberry is the key to that. Team Strawberry is led by our new Project Leader, Suan Chin, an Data Scientists and AI Engineer. She's currently recruiting through our applications that feature data experts as we speak for Team Strawberry. We've never been as excited as we are now for this new team, and we're looking forward to telling you more about the team when it's assembled! 🙋🏻 If you'd like to support our work, please check out our Patreon! We hope everyone had a great holiday and new years! 🎉
Eating Vegan Doesn't Mean Losing Your Favorite Foods
As with most of the things we do for the benefit of others, adopting a lifestyle that excludes the products of animal exploitation often requires a number of sacrifices. How we may experience these various loses and inconveniences affects us each differently, yet as I continue to see the topic of veganism discussed around me, it seems that the greatest struggle arises around those special foods that we have each allowed into our lives. I, like so many others, carry memories from my childhood notable for their presence of various foods, recollections of summer evening ice creams, celebratory steaks, or grandmother’s Bolognese. Just the mere thought of their aromas can fill these distant memories with freshened life. Yes, it may all just be food, but food so often becomes a part of who we are as individuals, families, and even as peoples. The majority of those who adopt a vegan diet typically don’t do so until they are nearly twenty years or older. So, whether you are merely considering, or have already been eating a vegan diet, it is quite likely that you have at least a few decades of meat and dairy products in your past. Foods that have become a part of who you are, that live within your memories. The thought of giving up these intimate parts of ourselves can seem painful. Countless times I have heard others say that they could go entirely without meat and dairy if it were not for one or two beloved meals, that they could not forgo their monthly burger or weekend pizzas. Firstly, if it is but a few items that you feel are barring you from eating vegan, then at the very least, remove all other animal products from your diet and, for the time being, keep those cherished few. It is far better to start somewhere in the journey than to never begin at all. Having said that, do not think that those who have pursued veganism never had their own love for certain meats and cheeses. Many of the community’s tastes were, and are, beyond that of just quinoa, black beans, and avocados. We all have our favorites and finding ways to keep them alive without the use of animal products can ease both the transition and persistence of the diet. I am, of course, in no way advocating for what they call a ‘junk-food vegan diet’, but we all have those cravings we need satiated from time to time. Fortunately, as the vegan diet has grown in popularity, so has the market and quality of plant-based alternatives. Every day I discover new foods, restaurants, and recipes that make me genuinely feel as if I am missing nothing at all in my decision to eat as cruelty-free as possible. So, whether you are considering, curious, or have already transitioned to a vegan diet, below you will find a number of plant-based alternatives that should provide you with a few tools to keep your own favorites alive and possibly find new ones altogether.Cheese and Pizza Pizza has been claimed as the most popular food in the United States and even the world. While we may each imagine this modern delicacy differently, there is one thing that tends to remain the same: cheese. So how can one enjoy a slice without its utmost ingredient? Well, it is actually quite easy. Foremost, I would recommend using cashew cheese. When I began eating a vegan diet, I was never quite in love with plant-based cheese alternatives such as those from Daiya, though admittedly they have grown significantly as time has passed. So, of course, I did not find many plant-based pizzas to be very appealing. All of this changed when I went to a local pizza place and tried their take on vegan pizza, where they used a cashew blend instead of a cheese alternative. I know this may seem like an odd replacement to some, especially to those who are not a fan of nuts, but I think it goes far beyond what any may first think. I was likely as skeptical as you are now, so trust me when I say you have to try this one at least once. I do not think you will be disappointed. You will want to soak your cashews in water before blending them into this cheese alternative. Simply put the nuts into a bowl and cover them with water. I typically let them soak for about two hours, but you can certainly leave them in overnight if you wish. To get the most out of this ‘cheese’, mix it with pizza sauce before adding it atop the crust. In my experience, this allows the flavors to work best with one another. It is worth mentioning that this cheese alternative works for more than just pizza. Try adding it to pastas, nachos, or anything else you can think up.Cookies and Baked Goods Nearly all beloved baked goods require a handful of dairy ingredients, and whether its milk, butter, or eggs, there is almost always a plant-based workaround so that you can remain cruelty free and still indulge in your favorites. Cookies are as good a place as any to start, with big names such as Betty Crocker sharing their own vegan chocolate chip recipe. For this version, I have, at times, replaced the melted coconut oil with plant-based butter. It tastes great either way, so if you don’t like one butter alternative, experiment and try another. In fact, the blurb at the beginning describes vegan baking best: “Vegan baking isn’t all that different from traditional baking. By swapping out just a few ingredients and making some minor adjustments, we’ve created vegan chocolate chip cookies that are sweet, chewy and satisfying. In fact, you may find that everyone in your family, not just the vegans, starts asking for these delicious treats.” So, if you love to bake or just have a sweet tooth, know that with a little tweaking and online research, you can make equally ‘delicious treats’ without the use of animal products.Ice cream A personal favorite of mine. Unfortunately, it has cream right there in the name, and so I of course thought it to be one dessert I would never see again once dairy was off the menu. Luckily, such worries could not be further from the truth. While I have not experimented with making dairy-free ice cream recipes at home, as most of them are based on coconut products (which I personally feel overpowers the flavor), I have managed to find plenty of products in stores that manage to go above and beyond in satisfying any cravings. This is one that certainly requires some experimentation to find your own fit. I have tried many brands that were just too hard or icy, and while I will not list every product I like or dislike, I will share my favorite: CoolHaus dairy-free. Their ice cream sandwiches are as good as the real thing, if not better. If ice cream is just one of those things you cannot go without, this brand proves that you don’t need a drop of dairy to achieve a creamy texture and delicious flavor. Check to see if they have a distributor near you, or order it directly to your home.Beef and fast food Hamburgers have often been stereotyped as an American favorite, but ground beef is used in a wide variety of recipes around the world. Products like Impossible Food’s Burger and Beyond Meat’s Beyond Beef have been at the forefront of plant-based substitutes for quite a while now, with fast-food chains like Burger King adopting the plant-based whopper (hold the mayo). Both of the previously mentioned brands can now easily be found at a wide range of grocery stores, and those who have a taste for fast food may be happy to know that their plant-based options are about to expand drastically. For example, McDonalds will be introducing a line of plant-based items on their menu in 2021 under the name “McPlant”. Taco Bell has for many years now attempted to provide a number of meatless options. Those of us who are fans of the fast food chain were sad to see their potatoes leave the menu in 2020, narrowing our plant-based options by a significant degree. Luckily, it has been heavily rumored that they will be adding “vegan meat” to their menu in 2021. With three of the biggest names in fast food adding meat alternatives to their menu, more are sure to follow. So, be sure to keep an eye out for these upcoming additions as well as potential others from your own favorite fast food chain.Change Does Not Always Mean Loss The few examples I have provided above hardly even scratch the surface. My goal here was not to show every alternative to the multitude of meat and dairy products out on the market, but to show that there are plenty of options out there that do not require the beings of this planet to be exploited so harshly. Know that these substitutes do not always taste the same as their animal product counterpart. They can be as different as a fast-food burger is from a burger grilled at home or a Pepsi is from a Coke. Some are better, some are worse, and some taste very, very close. If you try something that you do not like, don’t be discouraged. Some things take time to get used to, and there is always a different brand or product to try. The more distance you put between animal products and yourself, the more appealing their counterparts become, and the more opportunities you have to practice recipes with them. Change is a part of life that we must embrace, particularly when we seek to improve ourselves and the world around us. Hopefully, these substitutes can aid you in your own vegan journey and the changes that inevitably come with it. Enjoy.            
Veganism Tour Around the World! – What Does Veganism Look Like in Other Countries?
"Where we go depends on what we know, and what we know depends on where we go" while this quote may be straight out of a comedy-crime novel (Tess Gerritsen, The Surgeon), it surely applies to real life. When it comes to being vegan, you may be tempted to stick to your routine. Why try out ten brands of tofu if you've finally found the one you like the most. Why risk disastrous experiments if you've already found that perfect combination of veggies for Pad Thai. Naturally, whatever we do, we tend to assume that everybody is doing the same thing. But, being vegan is an experience which can vary from country to country. Since traveling helps broaden our views, it certainly is a great way of learning more about veganism in other countries. We can't really travel at the moment, but we can daydream and create our travel bucket lists, all while being heroes for staying at home. In this article, you will find an overview of four countries observed through the lens of veganism, starting from the traditionally meatless ones, to the countries with a bright and promising future for veganism. If you are on a mission to explore the places on Earth which have the most to offer to vegans, this article will equip you with information useful for planning future trips. Mana5280 – Unsplash Let’s start this list by tracing veganism to its roots. Although we can’t pinpoint who or when first started practicing veganism, Buddhism and Hinduism surely spring to mind when discussing the origin of veganism. Ahimsa (non-violence in Sanskrit), a principle of non-harming, is present in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. It applies to all living beings, meaning that a lot of followers choose to abstain from eating animals.India I remember learning in primary school that cows are sacred in India and that people treat them like royalty. That was before the Internet was a thing, so I just believed it because it sounded cute and carried on with my life. Now I know that’s not exactly the case and that cattle there are treated (read: exploited) like everywhere else. Still, there are vegans in India, possibly because Hinduism is the largest religion there, and Hindus usually practice Ahimsa. Regardless of the origin, we owe it to Indian culture for many delicious vegan dishes, such as kitchari, kofta, chana masala, pakora, and many more. One thing you’ll notice all these dishes have in common is being spicy. India is a hot country, so before the age of refrigerators and preservatives, people came up with adding spices to food to prevent spoilage. As a result, we can now enjoy dishes with flavors of turmeric, cardamom, coriander seeds, garlic, mustard seeds, and cumin. When traveling to India, make sure to check if the dishes you order contain ghee or other dairy products. If possible, ask to substitute those for oil. Since it’s hot there, don’t eat things that have been sitting in the heat for a long time. If you see restaurants with the word vegetarian in their name, give them a shot, chances are that a lot of meals will already be vegan, just ask for the list of ingredients. Language matters, so as always, equip yourself with vocabulary; learn the words for no dairy, no eggs, no fish, no honey, no meat.Singapore Out of all of the countries of Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, how to choose which one to represent? Countries such as China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam have all contributed to veganism by offering us their traditional vegan meals or giving us opportunities for veganising them. Just think of the times when Chinese takeout saved you from starving! I decided to write about Singapore because that country is a true medley of cultures. A multicultural country whose citizens are Chinese, Malays, Indians, and Eurasians, and which is a home to many non-residents from different countries, Singapore gives you a taste of all these cultures in one place. Since Buddhism is the largest religion in Singapore, you can find many vegan establishments there. One of the peculiarities you will probably encounter in Singaporean restaurants is being asked “no onion, no garlic?”. That question also has to do with religion. Some Buddhists don’t eat pungent vegetables such as onions and garlic, so many restaurants either cook onion and no-onion dishes separately, or don’t serve onion at all. One fewer thing to worry about if you take your date to dinner! Sergio Sala – Unsplash If you love mock meats, then go ahead and book the tickets to Singapore right away. Well, maybe not right away, but, you know… right away after this pesky global pandemic. Singaporeans have mastered the art of crafting fake meats so convincing that you’ll have to do a double take. If you’re more on the whole foods side, worry not. Many restaurants cater to patrons who choose to eat whole foods, gluten-free or raw food. Overlapping of all the different cultures in Singapore has resulted in many cuisines, and no matter how picky you are, you are bound to find something for yourself.Germany German culture, like many other European cultures, relies heavily on animal products. However, awareness of veganism is continuously spreading. In 2020, USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service issued a report on the vegan revolution in Europe. In the report, Germany is said to be leading a vegan revolution in Europe, with approximately 814,000 vegans residing there. Even people who aren't vegan have positive attitudes towards meatless food items being available in stores. Alex_Berlin – Pixabay While you may not find many vegan options in rural areas, as you come near bigger cities, your chances of scoring a nice meal improve. You can choose between vegan restaurants, vegan options in non-vegan restaurants, and street food. If falafel is your thing, you're in luck! Falafel places are virtually everywhere, and even vendors who sell non-vegan street food usually offer falafel (just remember to ask for it to be grilled separately). The opulence of the vegan lifestyle in Germany doesn't stop here. There are also many vegan festivals, such as Vegan Street Day, Veganes Sommerfest Berlin, and VeggieWorld festivals. If you're a vegan visiting Berlin, Veganz stores are must-visit places for you. Veganz is a brand that first started as a plant-based food company, and they later became the first vegan supermarket chain in Europe. And due to Germany's strong economy and fondness for veganism, you can find German-made products in supermarkets all over Europe.California, USA As much as Europeans love dairy, Americans like meat. This maybe used to be true, but hopefully, such stereotypes may soon become obsolete. But in the meantime, we can't just ignore the fact that meat products are in demand. Enter food entrepreneurs. The reason for including California on this list is because this is where the two globally popular plant-based meat substitute companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, were founded. Some people go vegan for the animals, for the climate, for their health. Rare are those who go vegan just because they dislike the taste of animal products. Of course, it's possible that after some time being vegan your taste preferences change and the cravings for non-vegan food stop. For many people, these cravings are what make them stumble on their way to veganism. But now, with so many meat and dairy alternatives, it's getting harder to come up with excuses for not being vegan. Due to the increasing demand for plant-based products, the profits of such companies are rising. Beyond and Impossible are just some of the companies which make veganism more accessible. However, let's remember that there are many more vegan options other than fake meats, especially in Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and California, the most vegan states. In a melting pot (or a salad bowl) such as the USA, all vegans can thrive, regardless of their cuisine preferences. It wasn't long ago that the only vegan options for travelers were beans and fruit from grocery stores. Today, a lot of cities have so many vegan options that you can travel just to eat local food. Almost anywhere you go in the world you'll find some new delicious vegan dishes to explore. If you haven't already (and once it's safe to do so) I urge you to travel somewhere outside your comfort zone. The experiences (and recipe ideas) will stay for life!
Introducing Vegan Bootcamp - A Simplified Transition to Veganism
Vegans are all too used to telling someone about their lifestyle and being met with the classic, “I could never be vegan, it’s way too hard” response. Thanks to our latest project in partnership with Peta, vegans now have the perfect answer to this, VeganBootcamp.org. The site is an entirely free course-based challenge designed to provide all the information you need to easily transition to a vegan lifestyle. Vegan Bootcamp Explained Vegan Bootcamp isn’t like your typical 30 days of vegan challenge. It’s an entire website filled with lessons that will teach you all the tools needed to be confident in going vegan. There are courses on dairy, vegan fitness, common arguments against veganism, and many more. These courses also include readings, engaging videos, documentaries, and quizzes to ensure you have that knowledge down pat. Why use Vegan Bootcamp Deciding to go vegan can be challenging. You now have to consciously think about the ingredients in everything that you eat and you need to make sure you have your facts straight when you are inevitably challenged about your new lifestyle. This transition can be especially overwhelming when trying to find the answers to all your questions. Vegan Bootcamp helps solve this issue by placing a vast amount of information all in one place.  There is no time frame that the courses need to be completed within. This allows everyone to absorb the information at their own pace. The top of the course page displays the percentage you have completed to reach your goals. You can also customize these goals to better reflect the exact knowledge you are looking to gain. Other added benefits include the option to request a mentor or a dietician to support you and ensure your lifestyle change is done safely and effectively. You can earn rewards as you complete each course. These rewards allow you to unlock tons of discounts at participating vegan stores, food, books, and more. Also, there is an added feature of a community forum where you can introduce yourself, ask questions, make suggestions, and maybe even make some friends along the way! How to use Vegan Bootcamp Using Vegan Bootcamp is so easy that you’ll learn all the knowledge you need to be confident in a vegan lifestyle in no time. Just make your way over to VeganBootcamp.org and sign up! As soon as you’re logged in, you’ll see the whole list of courses and you can get started!  Once you’ve racked up enough stars, simply click the number of stars you have in the top right corner. This will take you to a page where you can redeem your stars for awesome discounts. Go get redeeming!  The team happily worked so hard on this amazing project and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have released Vegan Bootcamp. We want to ensure that the vegan-curious, new vegans or even experienced vegans have all the tools and knowledge needed to confidently be vegan. We understand that adopting a vegan lifestyle is not always simple. It's easy to get lost in various books, thousands of webpages, and millions of articles. Vegan Bootcamp simplifies everything you need to know in one convenient spot and earn rewards along the way. So head over to VeganBootcamp.org right now and get earning those stars! Check out our previous post: Don’t Fall for Clickbait: How Online Articles Misrepresent Veganism Header Photo by Monika Kubala on Unsplash
Don’t Fall for Clickbait: How Online Articles Misrepresent Veganism
The Internet is an amazing place for finding all sorts of information. Everyone is free to contribute, meaning a multitude of voices can be heard. However, monetization has tainted many things, and online articles are no exception. Desperate to get clicks, writers had to resort to writing sensationalist headlines. That itself may not necessarily be a problem, but trouble arises when readers stop at reading headlines and start drawing conclusions from there. Combined with some psychology phenomena none of us are immune to, readers can easily fall into the trap of believing articles that misrepresent their topics. Everyone and their mother has an opinion on veganism (especially their mother), so those who want to read and learn about it have to be aware of how the media contributes to the misrepresentation of veganism. Worry not. When you learn to recognize writing patterns and tendencies, you will suddenly see them everywhere. As a responsible reader, you will be able to form your own opinions and make informed decisions. This article will help you spot cheap tricks articles use to generate cheap clicks.Reverse Survivorship Bias Climbing Mount Everest is often seen as an indicator of one’s fitness. People train for months on end prior to climbing. Some make it to the summit, some don’t. More than 300 people have died while tackling the world’s highest mountain. However, one of them was of special interest to the public just because of her lifestyle. In 2016, Dr. Strydom, who was vegan, died of altitude sickness while descending Mount Everest. Journalists were quick to write a myriad of articles about her death, and many of them made sure that their headlines included the word vegan and Strydom’s intention of “proving that vegans can do anything”. Using the word vegan for getting clicks is not a new method, and it functions because veganism is still considered somewhat exotic. Writing about the death in a condescending tone and boldly making generalizations such as “vegan diets are commonly lacking in vitamin B12” inspired some readers to conclude that her being vegan had something to do with the tragic outcome. This is an example of survivorship bias. Ben Lowe – Unsplash Survivorship bias can be defined as “the human tendency to study successful outcomes and ignore the accompanying failures”. For example, if we learn that Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates dropped out of college and became successful, we may conclude that dropping out was what made them prosperous. We ignore many people who followed the same path but never made it big. In the case of Dr. Strydom, a reversed form of survivorship bias can be seen. She is one vegan who died on Mount Everest, but many people who were already skeptical about vegans used that piece of information to consolidate their opinion of all vegans being weak. The fact that her husband, also a vegan, went to the top and back was ignored. Luckily, there are vegans whose climbing feats are well worth seeing. Make sure you read stories about Kuntal Joisher and Dean Maher to see it’s completely possible to be a successful vegan athlete. If you are interested in such topics, there is a course on vegan fitness on Vegan Bootcamp, so sign up right away!Apophenia – Drawing Connections Which Are Not There The Matter of Food – Unsplash Survivorship bias is not the only phenomenon in which people tend to draw false conclusions. Apophenia is also present in articles on veganism written by non-vegans. Defined as “the human tendency to see connections and patterns that are not really there”, apophenia can be found in the background of articles on vegan parenting and vegan diet. In Italy, 2016, a bill that proposes jail time for vegan parents who feed their children vegan diet was presented. It was a result of several cases in which vegan children suffered from malnourishment. One child even died, and their parents were sentenced to life in prison. However, it is very important to note that the child was fed a diet of mostly soy milk and apple juice. Again, a ton of articles on how bad a vegan diet is for children appeared online. When a teenager who ate nothing but fries, chips, bread, and processed meats went blind, there were no articles claiming that an omnivorous diet may be harmful. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the United States’ largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, doesn’t take issue with veganism. According to the Academy, a planned vegan diet is “appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes”. In other words, professionals agree that a vegan diet (with B12 supplementation) can be healthful and nutritionally adequate for children. The unfortunate events in Italy were not a consequence of a vegan diet, but a poor diet in general. We must remember that correlation does not imply causation. Many vegan parents have raised vegan children successfully. All it takes is a little planning and being responsible for supplements. If you are interested in going vegan but need some direction to make sure you stay healthy, Vegan Bootcamp can connect you with registered dietitians who will help you meet all your nutritional needs.Hypocrisy is not in this season! Of course, vegan authors should avoid doing the same things they’re accusing the others of. Rather than claiming that eating animal products makes omnivores automatically less healthy than vegans, for communicating a vegan message, it is better to take a calmer approach. Focus on maintaining a civil dialogue rather than abruptly proclaiming victory and discouraging further questions. Avoid relying on anecdotal evidence and clickbait. Think of all horribly written anti-vegan articles and try to create something that informs and empowers people to become vegan, instead of stoking internet flame wars.Too shocking to be true Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal, easy formula to tell what’s true and what’s false. You need to research further from the headline. Look up the same issue using multiple sources. Check if a scientific article was peer-reviewed or if it was sponsored by a biased party. Most importantly, think about what you’ve read before you repeat it and use common sense to determine if what you’ve read is true information. One other thing to take away is if a headline sounds too shocking to be true, it probably is. A headline is usually a tool for getting the readers to open the article, and the true(-ish) information is revealed somewhere in the text. Since veganism is still a controversial topic, we need to be careful not to fall for everything we find online, be it about how veganism can destroy your health or give you superpowers.
My Octopus Teacher (2020): Step Into Nature And Develop A Gentleness
“I hadn’t been a person who was overly sentimental towards animals before. I realized I was changing […] You start to care about all the animals. You realize that everyone is important.”Craig Foster – My Octopus Teacher A few years ago, documentary filmmaker Craig Foster suffered a burn-out from years of non-stop work. He needed to slow down. His mind went back to raw nature, to the wild, and he remembered his early days as a writer and a director when he was living with the African San People.“They were inside of the natural world. And I could feel I was outside. I had this deep longing to be inside that world.” Many of us are no stranger to the desire to tap into what Henry David Thoreau referred to as "the tonic of wildness". I only need a couple of months of hard work for the longing to head into the mountains to resurface. For Foster, it brought him back to the South African kelp forests where he made an unexpected friend. My Octopus Teacher – NetflixWhy Sustainable Change Needs More Than Data, And How ‘My Octopus Teacher’ Achieves It Wouldn’t it be great if information was enough to move people to action? To change? However, presenting others with facts won’t make them fundamentally alter their behavior. According to Tali Sharot, an Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London and director of the Affective Brain Lab, facts often underestimate the influence of what makes us human. Our desires, system of beliefs, our fears, pleasures, are prime motivators in which choices we make, not the numbers or hard truths we see before us. Of course, reality is often a bit more complicated than that. Our cultural backgrounds, state of mind, and ability to empathize also play a part. But it does help explain why scientific reports or even masterful documentaries such as Dominion and Cowspiracy, tend to mobilize the kind of person already perceptive to hearing the message. For those who are hungry to strengthen their conviction and their power in debate. For others, the change will still seem like a road they are not ready to take. My Octopus Teacher is not a direct call for animal rights or environmentalism. It starts out as a human story and then invites us to look more closely at the world around us. This is what makes it so powerful. My Octopus Teacher follows Craig Foster who, in an attempt to re-establish balance in his life, goes back to the wilderness that defined his childhood. He explores the South African underwater landscapes and almost instantly, he feels his energy returning to him. The waters are rough, filled with predators, and cold, reaching temperatures as low as 7 degrees Celsius. Still, he decides to dive without a wetsuit and oxygen tank. He wants to be his true, natural self to feel part of the ecosystem and effectively maneuver the thick, kelp woodlands. My Octopus Teacher – Netflix Part of the excitement of exploring true wilderness is in discovering the exotic. When Foster comes across an odd construction of shells, he isn't sure what he just stumbled upon. “Even the fish seemed confused…” Suddenly, an Octopus bursts out. It sheds the shells and swims away. Foster realizes that he has come across a creature that can teach him something. He decides to follow it.The Power Of Storytelling She uses a shell as a shield against this odd shiny thing – a camera. She plays with a group of hallucinogenic fish. She escapes a shark by creating an armor of rocks and shells, and subsequently maneuvering on its back, riding it. She meets Foster’s son… At first, Foster is merely curious. But it doesn’t take long for his trips into the kelp forests to feel like a visit to a friend. He is keen to connect with the ethereal creature. The boundaries between her and I seem to dissolve … just the pure magnificence of her” Foster’s poetic narratives raise the point that we can’t help but humanize animals. It is the easiest way for us to understand them. But that shouldn’t make his experiences any less valid. There is a part of the scientific community that feels utilizing our subjective experience in assessing an animal’s body language, is a valid way to collect data. That we, animals ourselves, can pick up on signs of discomfort or joy instinctively. Even though there are numerous scientists who discard that thesis as unempirical, their human perception of what deserves the label of “valuable”, such as an animal’s emotional intelligence, does still play part in selecting who they choose to protect. Stories told from a real-life experience have something very honest that can reach people before scientific reports do. Our culture of influencers proves that this is what we are hungry for. The first-hand accounts from those who have been there. But this also comes with responsibility. However powerful the story, science still plays a part. And Foster takes this responsibility seriously. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t research the animal. He learns everything he can from reports drawn up by experts. He uses this to create a complete picture based on his own observations by tracking her and thinking like an octopus, while still enjoying the human experience of connecting with raw nature.Enter "The Forest Mind": The Bigger Picture While Foster repeatedly finds mirroring traits between himself and his octopus friend, he also taps into the intricate ecosystem around him. He begins to see how everything is connected. The octopus is at the center of what he refers to as “the forest mind”, an entity more awake and intelligent than him. A giant underwater brain, as he calls it, that has been operating over millions of years, and where every tiny creature plays a role. Foster's musings may sound a little too otherworldly. But it is a sensation commonly experienced by those who spend long periods of time in the wilderness. My own experiences in the wild, especially the Nepal Himalayas and remote parts of Bolivia, were not only physically and psychologically challenging, but intensely spiritual. I felt a great sense of belonging. On my first day back into a crowded town, it felt like every loud person was intruding and every building was a prison. Frances Kuo, professor of natural resources, environmental science and psychology at the University of Illinois, describes how scientists can study the urbanized human in much the same way they would other animals torn away from their natural habitat. Without it, they observe how we more easily resort to aggression and break social patterns. More recent data suggests that the corporal as well as mental health we tend to experience when in nature has empirical validity. Foster’s feeling of flying through a mythical kelp forest could just be a symptom of balance returning to him. For Foster, the balance came with a renewed appreciation for our natural resources and an urgency to maintain them. When he heads out into the kelp forests with his son, he is pleased to see a fine marine biologist in the making. But most importantly, he observes in his son what's at the core of sustainable change and what can only come from extended periods of time spent in nature – a gentleness. Foster’s journey through the kelp forest can be seen in the new Netflix film, My Octopus Teacher, or read in the book, Sea Change. The Sea Change Project consists of a community of scientists, journalists, storytellers and filmmakers devoted to promoting the conservation of our underwater paradise through the power of stories.
It's Time for Veganism to Go Back to Its Roots
At last year’s Democratic Climate Crisis Town Hall, senator Cory Booker, vegetarian since 1992 and vegan since 2014, took a less than inspiring stance when saying that "Whatever you want to eat, go ahead and eat it." While Booker’s words reflected a rather disappointing commitment to the cause of Animal Welfare and environmentalism, it also echoed a fear of the growing resentment towards vegans that had already been brewing for several years. This fear goes far beyond the U.S. A 2015 survey revealed that vegans and vegetarians face prejudice on par with other minorities. These prejudices had reached toxic levels by 2019 when this philosophy of kindness found itself in a wave of virtual aggression. However, now that the current health crisis has delivered a severe blow to the meat production, we could make use of this momentum to turn the attention away from the individual and back to the movement. Booker took a similar approach since stepping back from the Presidential Elections and put the gloves back on in his fight against Big Business. While he aims to gently introduce the topic of veganism by reconciling it with small farmers suffering from the titanic corporations waving the scepter, it should bring the rest of us back to the drawing boards as well. In short, let’s bring the movement back to its roots as a vehicle for environmental and social justice, and attack the systematic issues that cause suffering on a global scale.Social Justice For Farmed Animals When it comes to the question of when things will start to change for farmed animals, it is now. But it is happening slowly. The conversation has opened the floor for scientists and researchers to tweak the public's perception of what these animals should mean to us. In their 2017 review essay The Psychology of Cows, Lori Marino and Kristin Allen expand on the intellectual and emotional range of cows, effectively moving the attention away from their main purpose as a mere food commodity. Marino and Allen list research performed in Learning and Cognition, Personality, Social Complexity and Emotions, which shows cows as intelligent and complex creatures much like they have demonstrated with pigs, chickens and other farmed animals. Animal Rights Organizations capitalize on these traits that we are have grown accustomed to perceiving as valuable and project our love for our companion animals, onto those who are left behind. Social Media Post By Animal EqualityAg-Gag Laws: You Didn’t See Anything Of course, speciesism can only effectively be deconstructed when our freedom of speech is not undermined. 80 billion animals are slaughtered for meat consumption every year. Abuses are rife from pigtail docking, perpetual pregnancies, chick shredding and growth hormones, to the more insidious act of robbing an animal of acting on their natural impulses. While these practices have already been widely reported, so-called Ag-Gag Laws are being enacted. These laws are designed to quietly close the doors on exploitations caused by intensive farming, and turn reporting on abuse against farmed animals into a criminal act. Earlier this year, Iowa passed its third Ag-Gag law. This is the last in a decade-long effort of the agricultural sector to keep activists away in an attempt to take away their proof, their voice, and so their power. Although these laws originated in the U.S. and currently exist in 6 states, Ag-Gag laws are also popping up in Australia, Canada, and France. Since Ag-Gag laws aim to silence whistle-blowers, the only way to respond is by getting even louder.Social Justice For The Lower Classes And The Marginalized Since going mainstream, veganism has lost some of its social urgency. This has caused the general public to view veganism as an elitist movement tinged with privilege and headed by holier-than-thou preachers attacking those who consume animal products as being immoral. While mistakenly labeled as elitist because of a few bad apples, veganism could contribute to a more equal distribution of both welfare and health. Let’s look at a now-infamous example. In the summer of 2016, the Environmental Working Group released maps and data exposing North Carolina’s most vulnerable communities as the greatest victims of the 6,500 factory farms found in the state. The highest density of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are located close to in the Samson and Duplin counties, where a high percentage of black and Latino communities is housed. Between them, these two counties make up more than 40 % of the state’s wet waste produced by 4.5 million hogs. A year earlier in 2015, 500 North Carolina residents had filed a suit against the unlivable conditions created by the intense pig farming. Prior to that, the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network filed a complaint stating the lax regulations of hog waste disposal and its inherently classist and racist nature towards the rural communities of eastern North Carolina. North Carolina’s public health violations were first brought to light 16 years ago, but it wasn’t until last year in 2019, that the case finally got some exposure. Image by Civileats.comIntersectional Activism: Turn Your Life Into A Political Act North Carolina is only one example of many of how the marginalized communities tend to suffer the effects of intensive farming. Prime examples include the inequalities laid bare by climate change and the dangerous meat processing jobs commonly executed by immigrants. Just think about the recent death of Pedro Canon, a Tyson Meat Plant employee who died from Covid-19 as a result of inhuman working conditions while 25 others tested positive for the virus. With effective organization and focus, no community should be left voiceless and the fight can be on a global, inclusive scale. This is sadly not always the case. Veganism, while a social movement, is on occasion still headed by those who believe animal rights and human rights are separate entities. Raffaella Ciavatta, a member of Collectively Free, sat down with Tras Los Muros and talked about veganism and intersectionality, stating that our fight should be on all fronts, not just one: “I have unfortunately seen many examples of activists who are either racist, sexist, or homophobic but nonetheless fight for animal liberation. From our point of view, we cannot fight a form of oppression while being oppressors.”Environmental Justice For All We have all seen and heard the numbers by now. We’re aware that Animal Agriculture is a major cause of climate change and contributes to deforestation, pollution, and loss of biodiversity, not to mention pandemics. These insights have led to the rise of revolutionary ideas to curb climate change and boost animal welfare, as well as increase our own health and vitality. One such system is proposed by the EAT-Lancet Commission. The initiative aims to up draw up some guidelines that can, in a sustainable manner, provide nutritious, plant-based food to the ever-increasing population by addressing the destructive farming methods, the loss of wildlife, and the pollution of our oceans and rivers. I can hear you thinking, how could we possibly find the resources to make something like this happen? Much like with the Ag-Gag laws, we can knock at our government’s door to build towards sustainable change.Redirect Unethical Subsidies Towards Global Welfare According to a recent report by the Food and Land Use Coalition, our taxes are fueling harmful farm subsidies at a scary rate of 1 million USD per minute. Next to causing irreparable harm to the current climate crisis and our biodiversity, the report states that only 1% of the 700 billion USD is used in a way that benefits our environment annually. Instead, the majority of the funds are allocated towards high-emission cattle production through intensive farming, the destruction of our forests to produce more farmland, and pollution caused by the overuse of fertilizers. You may recall similar alarm bells being rung by John Robbins in his book Meatconomics. It may already be 7 years old, but the book remains a staple in revealing the inner workings of the meat industry in a way that had never been talked about before. While Robbins also shares disturbingly big portions of the taxpayer’s money going to harmful meat and dairy practices, funds are also used to subsidize the production process, the farmers’ insurance, marketing, export, sales, and research and development. In effect, that $4 USD Big Mac you are purchasing will have a real value of $11 USD already paid by you on production and advertising. The report further goes on to say that our security is at risk if we don’t find a way to reform these subsidies and drastically cut back on our meat intake and other damaging practices. The biggest opportunity, so the report finds, is in redirecting these funds to healthier eating, cutting down on our waste, and planting trees. This could surely clear a financial path for a revolutionary diet like the one proposed by EAT-Lancet, right?The Takeaway A true activist doesn’t discriminate, but attacks an issue on all levels, for everyone. We should all start by being reliably informed and making lifestyle choices accordingly. From there, we can use this information as armor to execute organized pressure in favor of social, environmental and ethical change. Our fight should be for the animals, for the environment, for the marginalized, and anyone or anything else left behind in a broken system that can be fixed. So yes, pick up your fork for sustainable change, but also your pen, your banners, and your courage.