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The Conscious Crusader Issue #2 -- Your newsletter for healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living
May 13, 2011

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the Conscious Crusader!



The Conscious Crusader

May is the month of love – at least it surely looked like this to us over the last few days! We have just come back from a few days of total relaxation in Cabo San Lucas, the popular vacation spot in Mexico with beautiful sandy beaches and famous Mexican hospitality. There on the white beach sand with crystal-blue water as backdrop, we have seen at least 2 weddings every single day. We joined into their happiness by toasting to the newly-weds and indulging in some awesome vegan Mexican food.

Now, back in Vegas, I am reminiscing how easy it was to get tasty and healthy plant-based food in Cabo – against most of the advice from the reviews I read before! I will use my rekindled love for Mexican food for our upcoming vegan potluck in Las Vegas, which I am hosting for our VegasVeg group.

May is also the month where an amazing first-ever event is about to happen in Las Vegas: Vegans in Vegas from May 19 - 22. This will be a 3-day vegan tour de force with excellent speakers including VegNews' publisher Joseph Connelly, Mercy for Animals' founder Nathan Runkle, vegan chef Jason Wyrick, and many more. I will be hosting our restaurant events to showcase what Las Vegas has to offer in vegan dining.

The registration is absolutely free! You can see more details and sign-up here for a fun-filled weekend in Las Vegas surrounded by veg-interested men and women.

Vegans in Vegas



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





Latest Green Living Trends:
Green Your Car!


green your car

  • Try a "green" engine oil for your car: AMSOIL is synthetic engine oil not made from fossil fuels. This oil is said to prolong the life of your car's engine and you only need to change oil once a year. This is a first small step away from petroleum-based car products. You can also find other brands that make cleaner synthetic oils.
  • Only carry in your car what you really need – more weight means more torque is needed to get you moving at the traffic light, all at the cost of your gas mileage. Also remove any extra wind resistant items you may have on the car, such as luggage or ski racks.
  • Consider switching off your engine instead of idling when you stand anywhere longer than 30 seconds. Idling pollutes at twice the rate as one stop and restart of your car’s engine. For each gallon of gasoline you burn, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are created and emitted into the environment!
  • Fill up fuel early in the morning or after sunset if you live in hot climates, as that reduces the toxic fumes that can heat up during fueling. Also avoid "topping off" the tank, as that often leads to spills and makes any anti-pollution device in the pump meaningless.
  • You've heard it before: sticking to the speed limit is actually safer for the environment than racing to your destination at higher speed. Even if you may safe a few minutes of time to reach your destination, speeding and sharper stopping and accelerating all increase the vehicle fuels being burnt, and lead to higher carbon dioxide emissions. Driving at speed limit will also increase your fuel efficiency and save you a few bucks along the way. So take a deep breath and resist the urge to leave everyone behind on the road!
  • Keep your car's tire pressure at the right level. The right amount of inflation will ensure proper tire traction on the road and will decrease your oil usage by a fair amount. Tire inflation should be checked along with oil every 3 months or 3000 miles. An inexpensive tire gauge will also do a good job in telling you when it's time to pump up air again.
  • Replace your air filter, oil filter, and oil regularly. Not only will that prolong the life of your car, but cleaning away the dirt accumulated in filters reduces blockage that can decrease your fuel efficiency.


  • Even at home there are many easy and non-expensive steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Check out some Going Green at Home ideas.

    You can even do more by going green with food. Did you know that skipping meat just one day a week saves more greenhouse gases than switching to a hybrid car? We have many more surprising Going Green with Food tips here.




    Green Events & Vegan Events Calendar – May / June 2011

    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 May and June 2011.




    Featured recommended product of the month: Essential Oils

    During our short vacation in Mexico I have re-discovered the phenomenal therapeutic and healing qualities of essential oils. May it be for massages, enhanced breathing, curing a headache, or so many more uses that you will find with essential oils.

    The trick to a really well-working, potent essential oil is that it is natural and made with organic ingredients, as this eliminates all toxic add-ons that are often found in the over-the-counter oils, and which can have an adverse effect on your health. Besides, do you want to breathe in chemical pesticides while trying to treat an asthma condition with an essential oil?

    That's why I love Mountain Rose Herbs. They apply the highest quality standards to every plant, herb, spice, and flower they plant in their organic farm in Oregon, from teas, over spices, to their wonderful essential oils. Mountain Rose Herbs uses sustainable farming practices and is fully committed to running their business in an ethical, responsible, and ecological way.

    For their essential oils, Mountain Rose Herbs uses 100% pure steam distilled plant oils with a wonderful fragrance, exceptional depth and magnificent keynote. All oils are free of carriers, diluents and other inputs and are quality-tested by a certified aromatherapist, without ever being tested on animals. Most of their oils are true certified organic.

    Give these essential oils a try and find out for yourself how soothing and therapeutic they are. Mountain Rose Herbs has one of the largest selections of essential herbs in North America. You can find essential oils from absolutely everything with a detailed explanation of their uses and benefits. Click the image below and find out more.

    mountainroseherbs.com essentail oils

    How about a Classic Essential Oil Kit with the world's most renown and popular essential oils like eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, peppermint, and rosemary? Check out the link below for details.

    mountainroseherbs.com classic oil kit




    Health Tip / News of the Month

    The US government has subsidized the agriculture industry for more than 20 years with mind-boggling amounts of taxpayer money. While all official health organizations and national dietary guidelines now recommend reducing meat and dairy products to fight our obesity and health care problems, most of the subsidies are still going to the meat and dairy industry. Here is an eye-opening graph created by PCRM that shows the extreme paradox between healthy dietary recommendations and where our hard-earned money goes.


    Agriculture subsidies in the US


    It's time to put our money where our mouth is, which means to push those food products and agribusinesses that promote health and can steer us away from our extreme health cost crisis and the many diseases that are directly linked to food. Now more than ever we need to spend money wisely in the US, and significant subsidy cuts for unhealthful foods would be a logical step towards reigning in the budget crisis (if only politicians for once would NOT put industry interests above consumer health).

    The US and other developed countries that consume a Western diet based on animal foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat have rapidly growing rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes type 2, and obesity. We are spending more money on dangerous drugs and invasive medical procedures than ever before in history, with a now declining life expectancy rate for the very first time - all of which can be avoided with a shift in dietary habits towards plant-based eating.

    PCRM reports that the Medicare and Medicaid spending for preventable obesity-related conditions now total $61 billion per year. By 2030, the annual medical costs for cardiovascular disease alone are projected to triple to $818 billion.

    You can support a shift away from this madness by educating yourself about your options. PCRM has an excellent report on the cost of food-related diseases

    The reason you don't hear this simple solution in the news and from your doctor is that no big industry will profit if people eat less meat and cheese, so for many years we have been brainwashed into consuming dangerously high amounts of disease-bringing meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. Not only do these products have natural inherent health dangers, it's made much worse by the way they are produced from the farm to our table nowadays.

    Read more on how animal foods adversely affect your health.

    Why are modern food production practices so bad for human health and the environment? Find out more about the methods of factory farming.




    Hot New Recipe on Belsandia.com

    Indian Potato Curry with Green Peas – Aloo Mutter

    aloo mutter

    We cook a lot of Indian food in our house and I am lucky to have married an excellent Indian chef: my husband Muk has learned the skills of making great curry form his mom, and together we make sure that her yummy traditional Indian recipes are lightened-up by replacing butter and dairy with vegan ingredients - while never sacrificing the taste!

    Aloo Mutter is an all-time favorite in India and you can find it in every Indian restaurant, but it will probably never be as good as making your own version at home. With our tried-and-proven recipe below, you can also enjoy a second helping without having to worry about your waistline :-)

    Serves 4

    Ingredients:

    • 1 pound organic potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 1 cup frozen green peas
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 serrano chiles, chopped
    • 2 organic tomatoes, diced
    • 1/2 fresh lime
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
    • 3 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon ginger
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida (Indian or Asian shops have this)
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/4 cup of curry leaves
    • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Bring water to boil for the potatoes and boil them until they have just a little bite left.

    2. Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves. Cover the pan as the mustard seeds will pop out of the pan once hot, and may burn you. After you hear the popping sound, open the lid carefully and add the onion and chili peppers. Saute until the onions are golden brown.

    3. Add three cups of water, the peas, ginger, turmeric, asafetida, chili powder, and some salt to the pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

    4. Once the potatoes are cooked, strain them and keep the potato boiling water aside for later use. Add the potatoes to the curry pot and mix everything well.

    5. Switch off the heat, squirt the fresh lime into the curry, stir, and add the fresh cilantro leaves.

    You can serve this yummy Indian curry dish with white basmati rice, healthy brown rice, or Indian bread.




    Global Veg Food Specialty –
    La Dolce Vita de Italia!


    Vegan Pizza with eggplants, tomatoes, and spinach

    vegan pizza


    Pizza is that one Italian dish that pleases pretty much everyone, regardless of their age or origin. It appeared as far back as 997 and in the 16th century, pizza was mainly known as street food for poor people, covered with white sauce. In Italy, pizza has its origins in Napoli, where the first Pizza Margherita was created in 1889 to honor Margherita of Savoy. The red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese, and green basil leaves symbolize the Italian flag, and this is still one of the most loved pizza flavors today.

    For us vegans, we had to wait many years to get a pizza that is entirely free of animal products but would still produce that rich, creamy, delicious taste that we love. Gladly the wait is over, as with the introduction of Daiya vegan cheese , we now have a worthy non-cow equivalent for a tasty and healthy pizza. Daiya cheese is made from cassava root and is free of dairy, casein, gluten, and soy.

    Makes 2 pizze

    Ingredients for pizza:

    • 8 ounces prepared pizza dough
    • 4 whole organic tomatoes, sliced
    • 1 medium eggplant, sliced
    • 1 bunch fresh organic spinach
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 2 cups vegan cheese (we recommend Daiya cheese, as it melts and stretches superbly)
    • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
    • 10 fresh basil leaves
    • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes to taste

    Ingredients for tomato sauce:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    • 1 can tomato sauce, unsalted
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Spread the tomato and eggplant slices on two separate roasting pans for your oven. Sprinkle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then insert them into your oven’s bottom racks. Roast at 400 degrees until the vegetable edges become slightly dry, about 10-15 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Saute until slightly brown.

    3. Add the spinach, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, and some ground black pepper to taste. Let the spinach wilt but not cook, for about 3-4 minutes.

    4. For the tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a small saucepan and saute the chopped garlic, oregano, and basil for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for about 5-8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

    5. Remove the vegetables from the oven and set aside.

    6. Place the pizza dough into a baking form and spoon the tomato sauce in a light layer on top (add more sauce if you prefer it juicy). Add the spinach mix evenly across the dough and spread a layer of tomato and eggplant slices over your pizza. Sprinkle with crushed chili flakes, black pepper, and oregano.

    7. Add a layer of vegan cheese on top and place into the oven on a medium rack and bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. Then move to a top rack and bake until the crust is crisp and the cheese starts to brown. Follow the instructions of your prepared pizza dough for further details.

    Serve your delicious vegan pizza with fresh basil leaves on top and a good glass of Italian red wine. Buon appetito!


    Penne alla Vodka

    penne alla vodka

    The origins of this famous pasta dish are rather disputed, as multiple sources state their claim to fame for the invention of this rich tomato cream sauce-based delight.

    Penne alla Vodka is one of our favorite pasta dishes, but it's very hard to find any restaurant that offers a vegan version of it. While you may talk them into making a vegan marinara or pesto sauce, vodka sauce is an entirely different story. That's where I want to come to your rescue: at least you can enjoy this fabulous Italian pasta dish vegan style at home now!

    This dish serves 4

    Ingredients:

    • 1 pack of whole wheat penne pasta
    • 1 medium can of peeled Italian tomatoes in their liquid
    • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • 1/2 medium onion, diced
    • 1/4 cup vodka
    • 1/2 cup silken tofu and organic soy milk, blended together
    • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine (i.e. Earth Balance)
    • 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
    • 2-3 teaspoons crushed red chili flakes (or to taste)
    • 3/4 cup soy parmesan or Rawmesan
    • Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Pour the canned tomatoes and their liquid into a mixer and chop finely, but don’t mash them.

    2. Bring salted water to boil in a large pot for the pasta.

    3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat and add the garlic and onion. Saute them until they are slightly brown. Pour the vodka over the mix and let it simmer for 2 minutes, and then add the chopped tomatoes from the mixer into the skillet. Add salt, black pepper, and crushed pepper to taste and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes on medium heat.

    4. When the salt water is boiling, add the penne pasta and lower the heat to medium. Add a drop of olive oil to avoid the pasta from sticking together. Cover the pot half-way and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently and try after 7 minutes. Your paste will taste best if it still has a little bite (the Italians call this "al dente"). 5. Add the parsley, soy margarine and the blended tofu/soy milk mix to the vodka sauce. Combine everything well, taste and adjust seasoning. Keep on low heat.

    6. Once the pasta done, save your cooking water for later use and pour the pasta into a strainer and shake off the excess water. Do not rinse.

    7. Then add the pasta into the saucepan with the vodka sauce (or vice versa, depending on which of your pots is bigger for combining the two). Switch off heat and mix gently until the pasta is entirely coated, then serve immediately.

    You can either add the soy cheese (or Rawmesan) to your vodka sauce before combing it with the pasta, or add it afterwards to taste.




    Amazing Animal Story of the Month


    The Beagle Freedom Project by ARME



    ARME stands for Animal Rescue Media & Education, a Los Angeles based non-profit run by my good friend Shannon Keith. Shannon's mission with ARME is to rescue unwanted, neglected, or abused animals in the LA area and beyond.

    The Beagle Freedom Project is her latest animal rescue endeavor and it is a heart-warming, absolutely awesome story that you don't want to miss:

    Beagles are often used in research laboratories, as this dog breed is usually calm, eager to please, and rarely barks. All these good qualities that make beagles wonderful pets work to their disadvantage in this case. These beagles were likely used for painful toxicity tests for cosmetics, drugs, and household products that are already on the market and do not require more of these same tests. However, research labs can demand huge grants from pharma and product companies for animal testing, which often takes years. Therefore the labs have little interest to switch to more efficient, faster, and much less expensive non-animal test alternatives, which already exist for every known toxicity test.

    Too many test labs are still using animals for experiments that are redundant, very painful, and have no significant benefit for humans. Beagles are often bred specifically for these research facilities and the breeders can sell them to labs for up to $750 per dogs, which means huge profits for them.

    From their birth to the day where they are killed during or after an "experiment" in the test lab, these dogs never leave their metal cages except for the cruel tests they have to endure. They never run across the lawn or play fetch with a ball. Beagles in test labs often live very short lives and are killed young. It is extremely rare that any of the dogs make it out alive from the test lab, as they are often too sick or the lab prefers to keep their testing methods hidden from the public.

    This case of our Beagle Freedom Project is truly exceptional. Read more and find out how two lucky beagles were rescued from the research lab, which offered them up for adoption after their experiments.




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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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