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The Conscious Crusader Issue #5 -- Your newsletter for healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable living
August 13, 2011

Welcome to the 5th edition of the
Conscious Crusader!

The Conscious Crusader

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

Welcome to the Conscious Crusader's August Edition!

Summer in the city - enjoy outdoor fitness and great entertainment

The Las Vegas August days are scorching but the evenings are getting better - temperatures in the high 80s are marvelous for outside parties and concerts, which abound in our desert city at this time of the year. If you live in the area, try the free Live Jazz Concerts on Lake Las Vegas every Saturday at 8pm - it's magical under the stars!

This month is all about health and fitness again, so we will focus on light meals and the right exercise to stay in shape.

With that said, I want to introduce you to an amazing vegan bodybuilder who has a life-long successful career in professional bodybuilding, accumulating titles such as Mr Jr USA, Mr America, Mr California, and Mr Olympia.

Now 75 years old, vegan bodybuilder Jim Morris looks simply fantastic - and as muscular and fit as at anytime during his long successful career. I have never seen a body in that great shape at that age! Jim sat down with me to answer some interview questions - read here what this inspiring man has to say about his athletic career, his lifestyle choices, and nutrition as bodybuilder.

Vegan Bodybuilder Jim Morris

Jim Morris - Vegan bodybuilder at 71 years old

Latest Green Living Trends - Green Outdoor Parties

green food

The warm August evenings call for outdoor parties under the stars. But how do you enjoy a good outdoors time without piling on the trash? Here are some great ideas for green outdoor parties that step lightly on the environment without costing you an arm and a leg:

Outdoor decoration and lighting Rather than buying any plastic deco items, try to use materials you already have in your garden, like fresh cut flowers, fruits you can place in glass bowls, or fallen branches from trees that you can stake into buckets filled with stones for a dramatic effect.

For lighting, use lead-free beeswax candles or solar lights, that can be charged during the day in the sun and than emanate soft light after dark.

Either forgo tablecloths altogether for a more rustic feel, or opt for those made from cloths. So why not repurposing a bed sheet for the night? With a few fresh leaves or flowers strewn across, the sheet could make for an elegant table decoration.

Food and drinks Don't use disposable tableware, and never Styrofoam or plastic, which have the worst environmental impact. At a minimum, try recycled paper ware and biodegradable party utensils instead. For a smaller party you can also opt for reusable items that can be washed. These items are made from bamboo, sugarcane, corn, or potatoes. Here are a few online sources for some green party ware ideas:

Green Planet Parties

Eco Green Wares

Green Party Goods

When planning your food choices, finger foods are easier on the planet, as you need less utensils and plates. Remember that non-animal foods are enormously lighter on the environment too, so opt for veggie dogs and burgers, portobello mushrooms, juicy tomato/onion skewers, grilled eggplants, zucchinis, corn on the cob, and so much more.

Offer whole wheat breads and buns and lots of fresh fruits, which all taste light and great on warm summer nights.

If you are grilling food, opt for natural charcoal, which heats faster and uses less energy. You also won't need a chemical lighter, as the bag can be used as fire starter. After your grilling session, use a halved onion to rub your cooking surface clean - that saves the usual chemical cleaner.

Don't serve water or any drinks in plastic bottles! Instead, prepare a nice large bowl with a fresh punch or serve water in glasses, mugs, or reusable cups from a large container.

Avoid straws, stirrers, or any other unnecessary plastic items for your party.

Set-up a bucket for food scraps / leftovers that can be composted after your party. Also ensure that you have a container for the recyclable items that are used.

Green Events & Vegan Events Calendar August / September 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 August and September 2011.

Featured recommended product of the month: Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness by Robert Cheeke

Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness

If you were intrigued by the interview with vegan bodybuilder Jim Morris from our intro above, you will also love the ultimate guide for vegan bodybuilding written by athletic superstar Robert Cheeke: Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness - the complete guide for building your body on a plant-based diet.

His book features over 50 different meal options containing tons of vegan protein for different needs like competition, training, rest times, etc.

Robert founded the largest online community for vegan bodybuilding and fitness. He is also a popular motivational speaker, fitness model, and book author. Look here for our interview with Robert Cheeke.

Health News of the Month: Common Household Toxins

common household toxins

Many of our everyday household products are loaded with toxins that you won't even suspect - here is a list of those you should stay away from, and those you can tolerate in moderation if there is no other choice:

Antimicrobial Soap - chuck it! Most germ-fighting products use a chemical called triclosan, which can damage the liver and thyroid hormones. Studies have further shown that people using anti-germ soaps get just as sick as other people, as the ingredients contribute to drug resistance. A better option to sanitize the hands is an alcohol-based gel.

Oil-based Paint - eliminate it! The smell of fresh paint signals volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can trigger headaches, breathing issues, and dizziness. This can lead to reproductive issues and birth defects. Instead, opt for low or no VOC paints.

Room Fresheners - do away with it! Room fresheners can basically be likened to air pollution. Up to 20% of people researched said that they had headaches, breathing problems, etc. after inhaling room sprays. Here's another trick to get smells out of fabrics: squirt some vodka from an atomizer.

Household Cleaners - replace them or use sparingly! The regular use of chlorine bleach, cleaning sprays, and disinfectants are linked to asthma, which is why these strong cleaning agents should be used with great care. At least, wear latex gloves, open the window, and dilute bleach with water when using it. A great alternative cleaner is simple white wine vinegar diluted with water.

Food and Drinks in Cans - moderate it! Most food and beverage cans are lined with Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen linked to cancer and abnormal brain development. This can leach out and lead to negative health effects. BPA is banned for use in baby bottles in Europe and Canada. Instead of buying food and drinks in cans, get them in glass or paper containers, or even better, as natural and unprocessed as possible.

Fluoride Toothpaste - tolerate it! The debate over water fluoridation has been going on for long. Utilities are now lowering the fluoride in tap water after studies have shown fluoridation linked to bone fractures and stiffness, but it's generally agreed that fluoride toothpaste is safe for humans over 2 years of age. Check that your toothpaste does not contain triclosan, a chemical that can damage the liver and thyroid hormones.

Hot New Recipe on

Fresh Fruit Smoothies For The Summer

fresh fruit smoothie

Breakfast in summer is basically a large glass of a thick, flavorful fruit smoothie. It is super nutritious, very tasty, and extremely light on your digestive system. Here are some of my favorites:

Melon Blueberry Almond Smoothie

Blend the following in a blender for 2 large cups:
2 cups of cantaloupe melon pieces
1 cup of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup almond milk (or more to taste)
1/2 cup filtered or distilled water
1 teaspoon ground flaxmeal
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)

Banana Orange Almond Smoothie

Blend the following in a blender for 2 large cups:

2 large bananas
1 medium orange
1/2 cup almond milk (or more to taste)
1/2 cup filtered or distilled water
1 teaspoon ground flaxmeal
1 teaspoon crushed walnuts

Global Veg Food Specialty Spain: Vegetarian Food A La Castillano

Spain - the country of jamon and manchego cheese is not traditionally known to be very accommodating for strict vegetarians, but their many flavorful dishes can easily be "veganized" by simply skipping and replacing components. The powerful flavors of the ingredients and spices speak for themselves!

Vegetarian Paella

Paella is the quintessential Spanish national dish, usually served with seafood. Our vegetarian version leaves nothing to wish for with its colorful, well-flavored ingredients.

Serves 6 and can be made in 1 hour

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups brown rice
4 tomatoes, chopped
3 medium bell peppers in different colors, seeded and cut into thin stripes
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen green peas
2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon
6 saffron threads (you can also use safflower instead, as saffron is expensive)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large wok or paella pan, heat the oil with the onions and garlic until they are tender. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable broth in a separate saucepan until it simmers.

Pour the raw brown rice into the paella pan and let it saute for 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and bell peppers, saute another few minutes. Next, add the simmering vegetable broth, paprika, bay leaves, and saffron.

Cook over medium heat until the rice is cooked with just a little bite left (al dente) and the liquids are almost gone. Stir in the peas, artichoke hearts, and parsley. Squirt in the lime and season with salt and pepper to taste. Your vegetarian paella is ready to serve now!

Spanish Gazpacho

What can be better on a hot summer day than a chilled, fresh dish that oozes with juicy, colorful goodness? Enter Spanish Gazpacho soup! This is another all-time Spanish favorite, and it happens to be already vegan!

This serves 2 people and takes 15 minutes to make

1 organic cucumber, cut into chunks
4 large ripe organic tomatoes
1/2 organic bell pepper, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 organic celery rib, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 serrano chili, chopped
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients except for the parsley and basil to a blender or food processor. Blend everything well, keeping it slightly chunky.

Stir in the herbs, season, and refrigerate your Gazpacho until serving time.

Amazing Animal Story of the Month

A Mother Bear Kills Her Cub And Herself To Save Themselves From Torture

Black bear mother with cub

This month's animal story is a very sad one, and it shows how cruelly animals are treated as victims of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Please do consider twice before choosing any so-called ancient Chinese remedies, unless you can be certain they are purely plant-based.

From The Chinese media has reported on an extraordinary account of a mother bear saving her cub from a life of torture by strangling it and then killing itself.

The bears were kept in a farm located in a remote area in the NorthWest of China. The bears on the farm had their gall bladders milked daily for "bear bile", which is used as a remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

It was reported that the bears are kept in tiny cages known as "crush cages", as the bears have no room to maneuver and are literally crushed.

The bile is harvested by making a permanent hole or fistula in the bears' abdomen and gall bladder. As the hole is never closed, the animals are subject to various infections and diseases including tumors, cancers and death from peritonitis.

The bears are fitted with an iron vest, as they often try to kill themselves by hitting their stomach as they are unable to endure the pain.

A person who was on the farm in place of a friend witnessed the procedures and told that they were inhumane.

The witness also claimed that a mother bear broke out of her cage when she heard her cub howl in fear before a worker punctured its stomach to milk the bile. The workers ran away in fear when they saw the mother bear rushing to its cub's side.

Unable to free the cub from its restraints, the mother hugged the cub and eventually strangled him. She then dropped the cub and ran head-first into a wall, killing itself.

Bear bile is traditionally used to remove heat from the body as well as treat high fever, liver ailments and sore eyes. Many TCM practitioners have denounced the use of bear bile in their treatment as there are cheaper herbs and synthetics that can be used in its place.

This is just one of many sad stories where animals endure torture and suffering for questionable medications that thrive more on superstition than on actual affect. Please do not endorse Traditional Chinese Medicine made from animal parts! Many better alternatives are now available that cause no harm to any living creature.

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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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