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A Reminder of our Uniqueness!

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Just a lovely reminder that we’re all like snowflakes, each of us unique.

Here are 10 Pho­tos to remind you that Jews don’t fit into a stereo­type (and never have).


Fully Jewish; Fully Chinese

 

Big up to Pop Chas­sid for their awe­some post!

Oy Vegan!

 

 

 

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Oy Vegan Top 5 Thanksgiving Recipes!

Won­der­ing what to cook for thanks­giv­ing din­ner this week­end? Here are 5 mouth­wa­ter­ing recipes that will impress every­one veg and non-veg alike.

 

1. Por­to­bello Mush­room Gravy

This gravy is seri­ously addic­tive! Peo­ple “ooo” and “aaah” over it every year. Trust me, it’ll be a hit!

2. Pump­kin Pecan Pie

Party Vegan by Robin Robert­son also has an awe­some recipe for pump­kin pecan pie which I love to make. I like how this recipe from Whole­foods incor­po­rates pecans into the crust. I pre­fer to top my pie with pecans mixed with maple syrup and melted earth bal­ance for a tasty topping.

3. Baked tofu or Tofurkey

As a tofu lover, I find a nice mar­i­nated and baked tofu is great on Thanks­giv­ing, but for the tra­di­tion­al­ist, Tofurkey offers great animal-friendly options.

4. Roasted Veg­gies

This recipe from gluten-free god­dess is sweet and satisfying.

5. Vegan Scal­loped Potatoes

This recipe from Post Punk Kitchen will rock your socks.

There you have it! A vegan thanks­giv­ing feast!

I know I wrote about how incred­i­bly kind and social turkeys are last year, but I can’t say it enough… turkeys rock! This thanks­giv­ing, let’s raise a toast to them and how won­der­ful they are!

Let us also hold a moment of silence for all the turkeys who are slaugh­tered at this time of year. I’ll never for­get the late turkeys of Cedar Row Farm Sanc­tu­ary, whose joy­ous spir­its and ener­gies touched me on my visit a few octo­bers ago. Sadly, they died from chest issues as their breasts had become painfully, over­whelm­ing large, some­thing that turkeys bread for meat com­monly expe­ri­ence. They were so won­der­ful and friendly and I will never for­get my encounter that fall day.

Late turkeys of Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary

So let’s raise a glass to our fine feath­ered friends and encour­age oth­ers to dine with us on incred­i­bly deli­cious, nutri­tious, earth-friendly, and animal-friendly thanks­giv­ing meals.

Oy Vegan!

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Shana Tova– 5773!

We here at Oy Vegan want to wish every­one an easy fast and a sweet new year! As I stood in shul on Rosh Hashona and heard the shofar’s res­o­nant call, I was deeply moved. My heart opened. I thought about the poten­tial for com­pas­sion. I was reminded of the pos­si­bil­ity of a health­ier and kinder way of liv­ing. The days of awe are a mag­i­cal time full of hope and renewal but are also in the same breath made somber when we reflect on how we didn’t live up to our ideals, morals and val­ues. As I look to the future, I wish that this year bring kind­ness and com­pas­sion to all sen­tient beings on this earth.

Yom Kip­pur– Day of Atonement

As Jews we have always taken pride in show­ing com­pas­sion and kind­ness towards our fel­low human beings as well as to ani­mals. Eth­i­cal dis­cus­sion is cen­tral in Judaism. So, let’s talk about our coun­try and our city. What does it mean to be Cana­dian when our gov­ern­ment con­dones the slaugh­ter of baby seals in New­found­land and Labrador. As a Toron­ton­ian, I am appalled that at 677 Welling­ton St. W. Qual­ity Meat Pack­ers vio­lently takes the lives of 7,000 4–6 month old pigs daily. The con­di­tions for these piglets in Qual­ity Meat Pack­ers slaugh­ter­house and dur­ing trans­port are abysmal. Pigs are intel­li­gent beings. Recent stud­ies show that pigs have bet­ter mem­ory and cog­ni­tive prob­lem solv­ing skills than a three year-old human. Read more about Toronto slaugh­ter­houses– visit Toronto Pig Save.

Jef­frey Cohan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of JVNA said it well, ” As Jews, we should be expand­ing our cir­cle of com­pas­sion, not nar­row­ing it. We should be set­ting an exam­ple, not fol­low­ing the lead of a deca­dent soci­ety. As Rabbi Danny Schiff, Pittsburgh’s for­mer com­mu­nity scholar, likes to say, Judaism is a coun­ter­cul­tural movement.

Pre­cisely because God and our sages rec­og­nized the human ten­dency to oppress the weak, they lib­er­ally sprin­kled the Torah — writ large — with com­mand­ments to treat ani­mals with kind­ness. Indeed, ani­mals are even to be given a day of rest on the Sabbath.

Mod­ern fac­tory farm­ing — which is where more than 90 per­cent of kosher meat comes from — makes a mock­ery of these mitzvot.“
Read more here: The Jew­ish Chron­i­cle — Choose veg­an­ism honor Judaism and kvell

Dur­ing these days of awe, we think about our lives and how we can become bet­ter ver­sions of our­selves in the com­ing year. This Yom Kip­pur, I’m going to med­i­tate on the idea of inter­con­nect­ed­ness. My actions affect those around me. I will ask myself how my words, my mood, and my actions affect those I share this planet with. To be given another year to live is a great bless­ing. Let’s not waste it!

In the year 5773, let us be peo­ple who bet­ter this earth and the con­di­tions for all those who dwell upon it.

Shana Tova!

Oy Vegan!

Here’s a really awe­some vegan cof­fee cake recipe for break­ing the fast tomor­row evening!

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Non-Vegan Banana Rant

What is going on peo­ple? Why can’t we eat bananas when they are ready to be eaten? Must we arti­fi­cially extend their shelf-life using ani­mal prod­ucts? Now, a fruit that we’ve already genet­i­cally mod­i­fied beyond belief is going to be the cause of yet another severe allergy. What are we doing to our food?!?! Why are we deplet­ing our oceans? Have we all gone bananas?

That’s my banana rant.

To read more about the impend­ing non-vegan banana, check out  Shape Magazine’s arti­cle or one green planet’s arti­cle on this issue.

Oy vegan!

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Is Your Meat Really Kosher???

Last fall, I did a work­shop at the Wol­fond Cen­tre Hil­lel at the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto. My objec­tive was to get stu­dents to think about where their food comes from. There were a few veg­e­tar­i­ans in the room, but it was pri­mar­ily filled with meat eaters. When I talked about the hor­ri­ble abuses and tor­tur­ous con­di­tions of fac­tory farms, I was met with a lot of this,

Well, that’s really bad, but, I’m kosher so… the ani­mals have been killed humanely.”

If you are kosher and you think the meat on your plate has been eth­i­cally raised/ treated/ killed, think again.

Click here for more information.

You can also check out this video that my friends over at The Shamayim V’Aretz Insti­tute put together.

Also, one of my favourite authors, Jonathan Safran Foer nar­rated a doc­u­men­tary some years ago about the kosher meat indus­try. Watch the trailer below.

Peo­ple don’t like to know about or watch the suf­fer­ing of ani­mals because it’s uncom­fort­able and upset­ting. Yet, it is also the truth.

The real ques­tion is, once we open our eyes and real­ize what is tak­ing place, what are we going to do about it? Stand idly by or take action. Please con­sider shar­ing this and start­ing a dis­cus­sion with those around you.

Oy Vegan!

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A falafel a day keeps the doctor away…

Eat­ing Vegan in Israel was not as chal­leng­ing as I might have thought. Blog­ging while lead­ing a Birthright trip was what proved to be impossible!

Apolo­gies for the multi-week hia­tus but I was incred­i­bly busy bus­ing around Israel, rid­ing camels, sleep­ing 3 hours a night, and eat­ing my fair share of hummus.

Shirel and I on a camel in the Negev. Photo cour­tesy of Jaclyn Adler

What a trip! Eat­ing vegan in Israel is totally doable. In the morn­ings, I usu­ally ate veg­gies and toast. For lunch, I usu­ally ate falafel. If you want the best falafel ever, you have to come to Israel! The falafel is always fresh and well sea­soned. The top­pings are also fresh and flavour­ful and the pita is light and fluffy. Best of all, it’s totally vegan. Falafel is a way of life in the holy land. Peo­ple eat it all the time, so there are places that only sell falafel.

Falafel in Zichron Ya’akov

On occa­sion, for lunch, I would spring for pasta with veg­gies or pizza with­out cheese. They’ll make it for you at Big Apple Pizza in Jerusalem if you order at least 2 slices. Din­ners usu­ally con­sisted of salad and some sort of veg­e­tar­ian main. Because I was with my birthright trip we always ate kosher. So when it was kosher meat — I didn’t have to worry about dairy in the veg dish. (Kosher law pro­hibits the mix­ing of meat and dairy.)

A few nights I had cous­cous with a veg­gie stew on top. The veg­eta­bles in Israel are super fresh and flavour­ful so it was a real treat. The only thing to watch for is egg because even though Kosher Parve excludes dairy, egg doesn’t fall under the dairy category.

What is Parve you might ask?

Def­i­n­i­tion: Parve is a Hebrew term (pareve is the Yid­dish term) that describes food with­out any meat or dairy ingre­di­ents. Jew­ish dietary laws con­sid­ers pareve food to be neu­tral; Pareve food can be eaten with both meat and milk dishes. Fish, eggs, fruits and veg­eta­bles are parve. Source

The good news is, you can find a lot of tasty ice cream and desserts that are parve! One of my favourites were the water­melon popsicles.

Eat­ing Parve Ice Cream in Tzfat

Eat­ing a water­melon pop­si­cle in the old city, Jerusalem

Luck­ily, after those beau­ti­ful 10 days of birthright fun, I was able to hang out in Israel for a few more days on my own. Dur­ing that time,  I vis­ited a few of the country’s veg­gie estab­lish­ments. One notable one was Vil­lage Green Veg­e­tar­ian Restau­rant in Jerusalem on Jaffa Road.

I came here with an old friend who I vol­un­teered with in Eilat in 2007 to grab some veg food and catch up on the past 5 years of our lives.

The food was great. They had a huge selec­tion of sal­ads, both hot and cold, which you could mix and match and pay for accord­ing to the weight of your plate.

They had a fab­u­lous baked tofu salad that was delight­ful as well as home­made sei­tan that was seri­ously tasty.

I really loaded up my plate with sal­ads at Vil­lage Green. Pic­tured here is brown rice with peanut gin­ger sauce, baked tofu, sei­tan salad, cucum­bers, roasted pota­toes, pasta, lentil salad, and more!

I was also excited to find out that there is a whole plethora of veg­gie restau­rants in Israel. Espe­cially in Tel Aviv. Unfor­tu­nately, the days I had to myself in Israel fell over Shab­bat and Shavu­out, so most places were closed. But I am def­i­nitely going to explore these restau­rants and vegan cul­ture when I return.

I had my eye on Bud­dha Burg­ers and Taam Hachaim in Tel Aviv. I actu­ally went to Bud­dha Burg­ers one day and they were closed because of Shavuot.

So, all in all, Israel is vegan friendly. You just have to know how to ask about your food. I look for­ward to try­ing out more of Israel’s vegan and veg­gie restau­rants when I return. Until then, I’m going to work on per­fect­ing my own home­made falafel. Wish me luck!

Next year in Jerusalem!

Oy Vegan!
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Vegan Israel? We’ll see!!!

This evening I will be tak­ing off to lead a C.I.E. Birthright Israel Trip. I’m extremely excited to get back to Israel and expe­ri­ence the magic that awaits! Last time I was there I was veg­e­tar­ian and there was a large selec­tion of food for me to eat. So, I’m really curi­ous to see how I’ll fare as a vegan.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to blog some of my meals and let you know just how veg­gie friendly the Holy Land will turn out to be.

Here goes!!! Wish me luck!!!

Jamie

Oy vegan!

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VeJEWtarian’s first visit to Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary

Let me tell you that I had been look­ing for­ward to this Earth Day visit to Cedar Row Farm Sanc­tu­ary like a sci­ence lov­ing child is excited to go on a schooltrip to the Sci­ence Cen­tre. And that child really likes sci­ence, a lot!

I stayed over at Jamie and Jared’s place so that I could be ready bright and early for the day ahead of me. I had my rain­boots, jacket, veJEW­tar­ian tee (that I cre­ated the design for and Jamie so lov­ingly ironed on to the shirts), and other such attire that I didn’t mind get­ting dirty. We gob­bled down our vegan break­fast sand­wiches pre­pared by Jared, scooped up two car­tons of blue­berry muffins Jamie baked the night before, and were out the door to pick up the other mem­bers of veJEW­tar­ian along the way.

It was about a 2 hour drive up to the sanc­tu­ary, but the long drive was worth it. Upon arrival, we were wel­comed warmly by Peter Poole, hus­band and co-owner of Cedar Row with his wife Siob­han. He intro­duced us to more than a few mem­bers of the Cedar Row Farm fam­ily: Zebrah (the hen), Char­lie (the cow), Chick­pea (the cow), two lively and insep­a­ra­ble baby goats, and the newest addi­tion to the group: Lit­tle Pig!

Photo Cred: Sasha Rae Arfin

Our first task required us to shovel dirt and old hay out of a small barn, wheel-barrel it around to the back and dump it behind the barns. Pete showed me what the pile we were cre­at­ing would soon become — good qual­ity fertilizer/manure which they sell called ‘com­pas­sion­ate com­post’. One of the most fun tasks we did all day, in my opin­ion, was break­ing apart a haystack and spread­ing it around the yard for the ani­mals to nuz­zle, set­tle into and enjoy! My sis­ter even said to me, as we watched the ani­mals get com­fort­able in that fresh hay: “Isn’t it great? We get to see the imme­di­ate results of our hard work!”

Photo Cred: Jan­ice R. Jane­takes

We broke for lunch and shared our food with the Poole fam­ily, their kids included! We munched on Jared’s jerk tofu wraps (home­made jerk tofu, veg­e­naise, sriracha sauce, toma­toes and let­tuce), Janice’s lovely berry salad, and Siob­han remarked that Brandon’s first ever vegan brown­ies were the best she’s ever had! While we ate, Siob­han shared with us the story of one of their cows, Char­lie. She found him as a calf run­ning on the side of the road in the cold of win­ter, and she was just on her way to Cosco for a cof­fee! She strug­gled but suc­ceeded in get­ting Char­lie into the back of her van so that she could bring him back home to safety! He is now fully grown and enjoys hang­ing out with his other cow com­pan­ion, Chickpea.

Photo Cred: Sasha Rae Arfin

The Poole fam­ily are immensely gen­er­ous and extra­or­di­nar­ily kind peo­ple who have cre­ated a really spe­cial place — a rather hefty under­tak­ing — but truly a labour of love. I think that love for these ani­mals inspires all who visit and all who vol­un­teer. It cer­tainly did me.

You can make a dona­tion to Cedar Row Farm Sanc­tu­ary here or spon­sor an ani­mal here. 100% of your dona­tions will go to the ani­mals. Last but not least, visit their web­site and like them on Face­book!

If you’re inter­ested in join­ing veJEW­tar­ian and going on out­ings such as this one, join the group on Face­book here, or send Jamie an email!

Photo Cred: Sasha Rae Arfin (taken with Instagram)

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Chag Sameach!

Next year in Jerusalem!

Wow! Writ­ing just under the wire here. I’ve been cook­ing all day! What’s for din­ner tonight?

Vegan Mat­zoh Ball Soup and an Egg­plant Potato Torta.

Both the recipes I’m using are from Robin Robertson’s Party Vegan. An awe­some party themed vegan cook­book that I highly recommend.

If you’re won­der­ing how to veggie-fy your seder plate take a look at this arti­cle by Veg­News!

At this time of year, we think about free­dom and reflect on what it really means. I am so thank­ful for the free­dom that I was born into and over the next few days, I hope to really think about what I’m going to do with it in the future.

From every­one here at Oy Vegan, Chag Sameach to you and yours!

Oy Vegan!

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Chefs for Peace!

Last Wednes­day evening I joined a packed room in Uni­ver­sity of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Cen­tre for a night of cook­ing and con­ver­sa­tion. Cook­ing and demon­strat­ing for us were two top chefs from Israel– one Mus­lim and one Jew­ish. Ibrahim Abu Seir is the head pas­try chef at Jerusalem’s 5 star David Citadel Hotel and Joseph Elad is the owner of Menahe Yehuda Resu­tau­rant.

The room was filled with Mus­lims, Chris­tians and Jews at every table. The pur­pose of the evening was to bring all three faiths together in a pos­i­tive way– through food. While we helped the chefs pre­pare our din­ner, we were also encour­aged to dis­cuss whether or not we thought peace could be achieved in Israel. The dis­cus­sion was very inter­est­ing and for the most part quite pos­i­tive. When one stu­dent started to bring up cer­tain anti-Israeli sen­ti­ments she had wit­nessed on U of T cam­pus, founder and dis­cus­sion facil­i­ta­tor, Kevork Aleimian, was quick to get the con­ver­sa­tion back on track. Aleimian is Armen­ian and also from Israel.

Founded in 2001, Chefs for Peace is com­prised of chefs from all over the world…

Aleimian explained Chefs for Peace is a not-for-profit with a dream of peace. Founded in 2001, it is com­prised of chefs from all over the world from dif­fer­ent reli­gious back­grounds and its goal to is to encour­age peace­ful coex­is­tence. He explained that it’s easy to focus on who did what to who and dwell in the past, but the only way to bring about peace is by work­ing together to focus on it.

The meal we were served was deli­cious. An Israeli cucum­ber tomato salad, a beau­ti­fully spiced rice and veg­etable dish and a dessert of fresh figs in coconut milk with a berry coulis on top. All veg­e­tar­ian, all kosher, and all halal.

I had a really inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion about the sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences between what makes some­thing kosher and what makes some­thing halal with a girl of Mus­lim faith at my table. I think that every­one who attended learned a lot about each other in a pos­i­tive envi­ron­ment. If only there were more pro­grams like this, the world would be a more peace­ful place.

For more infor­ma­tion visit chefsforpeace.com.

Spe­cial shout out to Emily Berg, the Wol­fond Cen­tre Hil­lel team and all the other orga­ni­za­tions that brought Chefs for Peace to Toronto for a week of amaz­ing events!

Oy vegan!

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