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The Conscious Crusader Issue #11 - Your newsletter for healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living
February 17, 2012

Welcome to the Conscious Crusader’s
11th Edition!



The Conscious Crusader



This month we have these great tips, stories, and recipes for you:







Introduction of Health, Healing & Happiness



Health, Healing & Happiness


Hello again from Las Vegas! I hope you are staying warm during this winter and that you manage to stick to your New Year resolutions so far! Sore subject? Never mind… :)

One of my objectives for this year is to branch out more into the local community with health and wellness events that promote the health impacts of a plant-based lifestyle.

I am happy and proud to announce that I have taken over the "Vegans in Vegas" conference that was debuted successfully in Las Vegas last year by longtime vegan Ryan Henn. I am bringing the conference back this year – bigger and broader than before - as we will also reach out to non-vegans and add some interesting overall health subjects.

This first-of-its-kind event is now called "Health, Healing & Happiness", hosted by my company Belsandia.com. It takes place June 08-10th 2012 at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas.

So if you need a great reason to come to Las Vegas, attend our conference and combine an amazing veg-friendly event with the great fun that our city has to offer!

What can you expect at Health, Healing & Happiness?



Here is a sampling:

Remarkable Speakers - Delicious Healthy Food - Amazing Prizes & Give-Aways - Saturday Night Party - Live Music - Cooking Demos - FREE Yoga and Tours - Vendor Marketplace - Beautiful Surroundings - Fun


And much more…

Join the Health Healing & Happiness Mailing List to catch our Early Bird Ticket Discounts and get exciting news about the conference!

I look forward to seeing you at my conference in Las Vegas this June!




Latest Green Living Trends - Super Chic and Super Cruelty-free

And of course super environmentally friendly!


Vegan Handbag from Vegan Chic



I have my vegan, animal-free handbags for a few years now and every time I mention that they are not leather I stir up quite an interest. That's prompting me to shed some light on your options for super chic handbags and accessories that are also kind to animals and make a big difference for the planet1 Vegan handbags are no longer saggy, hippie-ish looking jute totes with political statements; instead, they are modern, cute, graceful, colorful, and often even look and feel like leather!

Why "NO" to leather?

  • The production of leather is hugely harmful for the environment, as the animal skins need to be tanned with harsh chemicals to remove particles and to make them durable for the long-term. Most tanning is now chrome-based and all tanning wastes containing chromium are considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The tanning process can easily lead to runoff and residues in the surrounding soil and water supplies, and the toxic chemicals are dangerous for the people working in the tanneries.
  • A tanning facility can also waste up to 15,000 gallons of water and creates 2,200 pounds of solid waste (hair, flesh, trimmings) for every ton of animal hides it uses. Groundwater near tanneries has been found with highly elevated levels of toxic substances including arsenic, chromium, lead, and zinc.
  • In India, one of the largest leather-producing countries, more than 500 tanneries in three districts of India were charged with polluting some 16,000 hectares of agricultural land and contributing to drought conditions that were "not due to failure of monsoon or other natural causes termed as Act of God, but (were) purely man-made".
  • It is also not true that leather is a natural byproduct of the food industry, as the leading leather-producing countries India, Korea and China are not the biggest beef producers. Since environmental protection standards are often more restrictive in the US and European countries, many animal hides are shipped thousands of miles to developing countries for final processing, and are then shipped back to the end consumer nations – a wasteful round-about process.
  • Faux leather or pleather is made of either PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) or PU (polyurethane). While both products are petroleum-based, there is a big difference between the particularly harmful PVC and the less-so PU, which does not leach chemicals and does not use phthalates for softening. These materials are often used for leather-like vegan handbags, and while they are not free of harm for the environment, it was widely found that PVC and PU are still much less harmful to the environment than tanned leather.
  • Other materials used for vegan handbags that are environmentally friendly are organic fabrics like cotton or hemp, faux fur, microfibers, jute, recycled plastic, straw, or recycled tire tubes.


Here are a few great companies that sell environmentally friendly vegan handbags and other animal-friendly goods:

Stella McCartney – Daughter of Sir Paul McCartney and famous fashionista with a compassionate heart for animals.

Alternative Outfitters run by engaged vegan Jackie Horrick in California - a through-and-through cruelty-free business with fabulous fashion.

Susan Nichole – very chic designer handbags that don't harm animals or the environment. All products are made from 100% recyclable and vegan materials.

Vegan Chic: "Where fashion meets compassion" is another great cruelty-free company with a large collection of vegan bags and clothing.

Matt and Nat – high profile vegan handbags of super quality based on the animal-friendly designs by Inder Bevi.

Compassion Couture: The name says it all – 100% cruelty-free and eco-friendly bags and accessories.

Red Handed Bags: no slave labor, no cruelty, no toxins, and only eco-friendly materials are used for these lovely bags.





Green Events & Vegan Events Calendar – February and March 2012


Green Events



We compiled the most complete list of Green Events and Vegan Events in the US, so check here and find the best event in your city or near you in February and March 2012.





Featured recommended product of the month: The Greater Good – Shop Clothes, Jewelry and Gifts for Deserving Causes


Greater Good Logo



Rather than recommending a specific product to you this month, I would like to make you aware of a shopping resource that serves a greater purpose!

If you are looking for clothes, jewelry, home decor, gifts, etc., The Greater Good not only has a great selection of items, but between 3-50% of your purchase price is going to a good cause!

The website is a 501 c3 non-profit organization that allows you to choose the cause closest to your heart. You can help people with the Hunger Site, Breast Cancer Site, Autism Site, etc; help animals with the Animal Rescue Site, or help the planet with the Rainforest Site – and there are more!

Check it out for your next online shopping needs: it’s buying with purpose and for the greater good: http://www.greatergood.com


Health News of the Month: Can Our Favorite Foods Be Healthy Too? Yes!


Dark Chocolate


February is the month of Valentine's Day and I want to make you aware of some good food news for a change: YES – our favorite foods can be good for us too! It all depends how we eat them (and of course how much of them…).

The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, in the ingredients of our favorite foods, so check out my hit list below based on the most common food addictions.

Your Love Affair With Chocolate

Good news here: chocolate can be an amazing boost for your body if you follow some smart guidelines:

1. the darker the better: chocolate with a higher amount of cocoa can lower your blood pressure and is a potent antioxidant. The phenols in the cocoa plant are known to lower blood pressure and even raise your endorphins level, which leads to good mood! To be somewhat healthy, chocolate has to be DARK, which means no milk content or as little milk as possible. Milk can interfere with the antioxidant absorption of dark chocolate and sabotage any healthy affect. Look for chocolate with at least 70% cocoa or higher. European chocolate brands are usually higher in cocoa phenols than US brands, which makes them darker.

2. say "no thanks" to chocolate with many flavors or alcohol, as these waistline busters can easily undermine the health affects of dark chocolate.

3. you can also look for gluten-free or sugar-free chocolate, as long as it is dark!


I Love Cheese But Not The Cholesterol That Comes With It!

There is good news here too! Over the last few years some amazing new cheese alternatives have hit the market – all with remarkable flavor and unique characteristics that make them good for particular uses. Take your pick from these heavenly "almost" cheeses, which have great taste and texture but no cholesterol or cancer-causing dairy proteins like casein. They are also lower in saturated fat but still have the needed protein and calcium:

1. Daiya – new cheese king of vegan pizza: this delicious vegan cheese is made of cassava root and it melts, stretches and bubbles just like you want cheese to do on pizzas and baked or grilled goods! The shredded Daiya cheese comes in cheddar, mozzarella and pepperjack flavors. It is free of cholesterol, lactose, casein, whey, soy, gluten, rice, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts, so it’s a great choice for any kind of allergy sufferers too. Daiya Foods

2. Galaxy Foods: dairy and casein-free vegan cheese made of soy or rice. They offer cream cheese, sliced cheese with American and Cheddar flavor, and even vegan Parmesan. Galaxy cheese is free of cholesterol, saturated fat, lactose, casein, gluten and preservatives. Galaxy Foods Vegan Cheese

3. Follow Your Heart offers a range of vegan foods including vegan gourmet cheese alternatives in the flavors cheddar, mozzarella, jack cheese and nacho cheese for salads, sandwiches, pizza, macaroni, tacos, enchiladas and more. The cheese spreads come as cream cheese and sour cream flavors. Vegan gourmet cheese is made of non-GMO soy and is gluten-free. Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheese

4. Tofutti offers popular vegan cream cheese and soy cheese slices in mozzarella and American flavors. Their cream cheese flavors come as plain, French onion, herbs & chives, garlic & herb, and non-hydrogenated plain. These are perfect for dipping or spreads on bagels, crackers and more. Tofutti also offers sour cream as plain, guacamole, and non-hydrogenated versions. Tofutti products are free of cholesterol, gluten, lactose, casein and whey. Tofutti Vegan Cheese


I Need That Chicken Or Beef Flavor To Feel Satisfied

Despair not! Even for you die-hard meat lover there is hope in the healthy & tasty food compartment. Vegan meats are made of whole grains, tofu, seitan, or tempeh, and they are structured and flavored in a way that they resemble real meat – without boasting any cholesterol, high saturated fat, growth hormones and chemicals that you find in real meat. They are also lower in calories while still offering similar protein as animal meats. Let me dare you to try some of the following:

1. Gardein – the new super star of vegan meats, which is featured in the restaurant chains Yard House and Chipotle Mexican Grill and many independent restaurants, offers knock-out chicken, beef, and pork meat alternatives. They look, smell, and taste so real that you can hardly believe it's not meat! You can get "chicken breasts", "beef burgers", "pulled pork", "chicken strips" and more. Their website offers locations where you can buy these amazing fresh or frozen meat replacements and also lists the restaurants that carry them: Gardein – Cheat on the Meat

2. Tofurky from Turtle Island Foods offers the popular soy-based meat alternatives as slices, sausages, or "jerky" in the flavors turkey, pepperoni, bologna, roast beef, hickory smoked, and well as franks, links, and pizza. Their products are 100% vegan and free of MSG and nitrate: Tofurky

3. Boca Burger is a good choice for vegan burgers that are wholesome and animal-free. Try their meatless burgers, veggie patties, ground crumbles, chik'n and breakfast meat alternatives: Boca Veggie Meats

4. Ives is the go-to brand for meat-free hot dogs and brats. They also carry veggie meatballs, breast, strips, chorizo and burger meats. Ives deli slices come as bologna, ham, turkey, salami, pepperoni, roast and smoked chicken. They are free of cholesterol and fat and have even more protein than animal meat products: Ives Veggie Cuisine




Hot New Recipe on Belsandia.com - RASAM: The Indian Answer to Hot Vegetable Broth


Chiles


It is this time of the year when some of us get cold feet too often and sniffle and cough a bit more. If the flu or cold hits you, a hot soup is always a great natural remedy, as it stacks up the nutrients your body’s immune system needs to fight the virus intruders.

My personal favorite of these hot liquid helpers is Indian Rasam, the spicy and very flavorful answer to our Western varieties.

Try out this tasty Rasam recipe - no matter if you have the flu or not – as it's worth having at anytime or as accompaniment to your Indian meals

Ingredients

3 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
2 1/2 teaspoons rasam powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoons asafetida
2 flat tablespoons of black pepper seeds
salt to taste
1 teaspoon finely chopped coriander
2 - 2 1/2 teaspoons rasam powder


Directions

1. Cut a small cross on the bottom side of each tomato and then place them on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high for 4 minutes.

2. After a few minutes, remove the tomato skin and discard, then mash the tomatoes lightly with a fork.

3. Boil 3 cups of water for 2 minutes. Add the mashed tomatoes, turmeric powder, chili powder, asafetida, rasam powder, tamarind pulp, and salt, and keep boiling for 4 minutes.

4. Serve hot garnished with coriander.

Click here for original recipe.




Global Veg Food Specialty: Brazil – Carnival and Flavorful Munchies


Brazil as the largest South American meat-producing country does not usually come to mind when thinking of vegetarian food. But that's one of the Conscious Crusader's missions: to bring you healthy animal-free food options in the places where you least expect them!

So let's take a look what the country of carnival and tiny bikinis has to offer for us health-food loving veg heads:

Chili Salsa


Chili Salsa


A spicy salsa used frequently for dipping and as sauce all over Brazil.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, finely diced
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons hot chili sauce or 2 teaspoons chopped Serrano chile peppers
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper per taste


Directions:

Mix all ingredients and chill the salsa for about an hour before serving.



Feijoada

Feijoada


Brazilian Rice and Beans Vegan Style. This is one of the most popular dishes in Brazil, where it’s usually served with meat. Our vegan version is just as tasty but has far less fat and calories.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
3 cups dried black beans , rinsed and drained
1 large onion, diced
1.5 medium bell peppers, diced
1 large tomato, diced
3 garlic cloves , minced
1 large chipotle pepper , chopped
2 cups sweet potatoes , peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried coriander
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
Juice from 1/2 lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper per taste


Directions:

1. Cook the brown rice in a pot or rice cooker until it is soft with a little bite left.

2. Fill a medium saucepan with 4-5 cups of water and cook the black beans over medium heat for about 1 hour until tender.

3. Drain the beans and set aside 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

4. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan and add the onions, bell peppers, tomato, garlic, and chipotle peppers. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Then add the beans, cooking liquid, sweet potatoes, thyme, and coriander, and cook for 25 - 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

6. Stir in the fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes, switch off the heat, squeeze in fresh lime juice and stir once more.

7. To serve, spoon hot brown rice into serving bowls and add your feijoada over the top. Enjoy!




Amazing Animal Story of the Month: The Big Cat Quiz – Lions, Tigers and More


Big Cat


This month I am bringing you another light-hearted story to brighten up the gloomy winter days: a fun Big Cat Quiz that I enjoyed on the care2 website recently. No matter if you are a house kitty lover or a dog fan, these amazing facts about wild cats will astound you!

What do you know about big cats? (The answers can be found at the end)

1. Which big cat cannot fully retract its claws?

2. This graceful American cat is known by several names including mountain lion. List four other common names for this New World cat.

3. Which cat has a trademark tuft at the end of their tail?

4. Which big cat does not roar, but purrs and chirps instead? (Hint: the answer is NOT lions inhaling helium)

5. Which big cat has the largest ears and longest legs in proportion to their bodies?

6. Which big cat is known for its very long tail – a tail that can be as long as the body, thus doubling the length of this beautiful cat?

7. Which big cat gets to claim title of "the biggest of the big cats"?

8. How many subspecies are there of tigers? Four, six, or nine? How many of these are now extinct?

9. Which big cat has the most powerful bite?

10. Which big cat has throughout modern history taken a liking to human flesh?

See here for the answers




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Thanks so much for reading the Conscious Crusader and join me again next month for a new edition with green living tips, hot new recipes, global veg specialties, animal stories, health tip of the month, and more!

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