Friday, April 30, 2010


Vegetarian poetry from a Buddhist perspective is not necessarily your everyday read, however Kindness: A Vegetarian Poetry Anthology is just that. Promoted by the DRBA, Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the collection of poems was translated from Chinese to English for its debut stateside. The poems are works which have been collected for years and passed on through numerous generations. They are the products of prime ministers, scholars, monks and nuns, farmers, and aristocrats of all walks of live who shared the same passion for vegetarianism.

A peaceful childlike tone is projected throughout the collection, from the illustrations accompanying the poetry to the poems themselves. The elementary style paints a clear picture of what the poem hopes to accomplish; supporting peace, tranquility, and a meat free life style. However Kindness conveys this tone in the least threatening way imaginable. Rather then explicitly stating that one should abstain from eating meat, it highlights the benefits of becoming vegetarian and the spiritual aspects which accompany such a decision.

As the preface in Kindness states, “Each poem opens a window onto a world where animals are souls who temporarily inhabit bodies different from ours, but who, like us, are moving towards enlightenment and liberation from suffering”. This approach humanizes animals in a way in which no person could imagine inflicting pain on another individual. Therefore the poems bridge the human and animal world together establishing a connection which is hard to break.

We see the importance of considering others, both human and animal alike, in the poem entitled “Starting Point of Compassion”. This poem combines the importance of respecting animals with the importance of respecting fellow human beings. The poem reads:

“Don’t say that insects’ lives don’t count, Don’t say it’s alright to let them drown, Did you know that just one thought of compassion, Is where basic human kindness begins?”

The poem revolves around the issue of kindness, a dilemma in society today. Therefore Kindness is not only a collection of vegetarian poetry but it also functions as a tale; providing a moral at the end of its story. In the case of “Starting Point of Compassion”, it suggests exactly what its title states; that compassion is a necessary starting point for all human beings. This rule translates into every aspect of life.

While some poems focused strictly on the positive transition to vegetarianism and support for animal rights, other poems showed the contrast between those who are and those who are not part of the movement. These poems highlighted the differences among vegetarians and meat eaters. In one poem in particular, “Song for Lovers of Fish” the closing line reads, “With different hearts we take delight in watching perch and trout, I have come to feed the fish, they’ve come to hook them out”. The poem shows the differences between those who support animal rights and those who do not.

While the words are powerful, it is the images which accompany them, that truly drive the point home. Included alongside the poem is the image of a young boy, looking into the water at the fish below with a distraught look on his face. Over his shoulder, a boat floats in the water with numerous fishing lines drawn in the water. The stark contrast between the young innocent boy and the boat of fisherman portrays the sadness which is inflicted upon killing animals; portraying the fishermen as villains. This point is expressed through the poetry and enhanced by the images which are also included.

While the poems do not always raise a new point or argument, they do remind the reader that humans and animals are connected throughout life as well as the fact that we all have a strong connection to the earth. Thus by speaking about this connection we realize the interdependencies of life and once again become in touch with each other. The poem “Protecting Life” emphasizes connection in life and stress the importance of considering each other. Its closing lines read, “Creatures’ lives were given to them by nature, tell the children not to take life lightly”.

“Protecting Life” reminds us that not only should we take care of ourselves as well as each other during our time on earth, but that this time is also limited; making the issue even more pressing. Taking the example of children, which are typically associated with innocence, it becomes apparent that we are the teachers and must provide a good example for the youth. One way of doing this is by respecting life and those around us, which includes animals. This is the overall message of Kindness.

Although vegetarianism is reflected in the poetry of Kindness, the collection holds a stronger correlation to peace and connectedness among individuals and the earth. It is when we feel this commitment to one another that we truly begin to understand ourselves and develop an appreciation for the world around us. Kindness hopes that as we develop this appreciation it extends to animals and their rights. Therefore the collection of poems presents vegetarianism in a light hearted, relatable way in which any many individuals can relate. To view Kindness online click here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Entrepreneur 2.0

Calling all future business moguls... Nic DeAngelo,a fellow blogger based out of Los Angeles, recently started a business blog about start up companies: Entrepreneur 2.0. Today we discussed the overlap in our blogs.Check out the conversation below:

Nic DeAngelo says: So tell me about your blog in your own words

Kelley Simpson says: It began as a lifestyle blog about living in Los Angeles as a vegetarian. A lot of the content highlites vegetarian friendly companies and restaurants. Information about other vegetarian issues are also included.

Nic DeAngelo says: In the LA area that seems like it would defintely be well accepted. How's your blog doing

Kelley Simpson says: Definitely. There's a large vegetarian and vegan population in LA, so that helps. But the blog is doing pretty well. Going forward my hopes are to hear more from vegetarians in the area. Make it more itneractive.

Nic DeAngelo says: Good to hear. To tie in the themes of our two blogs, what do you see as opportunities for investment into the vegan/ vegetarian lifestyle (restaurants, organic food manufacturers, health supplements for vegans, etc.)

Kelley Simpson says: Like anything, the vegetarian lifestyle can be branded and made into a business. I can definitely see a future with vegetarian/vegan food manufactures and selling their products. By putting their products in large grocery stores they really open themselves up to a new demographic

Nic DeAngelo says: How long have you yourself been a vegetarian?

Kelley Simpson says: A little over 8 years

Nic DeAngelo says: I definitely don't fall into the category of vegetarian but the majority of my meals consist of a light meat source and vegetables. I've noticed huge health and energy benefits. What benefits has the vegetarian diet given you

Kelley Simpson says: I've noticed the same benefits. A lot more energy and I just feel healthier overall. Also there has been some weight loss. A lot of meals containing meat can be pretty fatty, so cutting those out of my diet completely has had an effect.

Kelley Simpson says: Switching gears a little. In regards to your blog, what made you decide to write about start up companies? Do you have any previous experience?

Nic DeAngelo says: I grew up around entrepreneurs my entire life. While most of my friends wanted to be firefighters or astronaughts as children, I wanted to own a business and take lavish vacations when time permitted. My love for entrepreneurship grew over the course of my job experience (or poor experience with jobs) and I started doing part time web marketing for small Real Estate companies. There's a few other things I'm working on though

Kelley Simpson says: Wow. That's great. So it sounds like you definitely have a passion for the business and your blog is a great place to express that. Have you been utilizing your blog on a more personal level or an informative one?

Nic DeAngelo says: I try and do both honestly. I don't want it to come off as a business textbook and I don't want to pretend to be the authority on all matters business related so I incorporate topics that I personally find relevant while trying to relate things to my life. At the end of the day I try to make my blog a resource that's as valuable to me as any of my readers

Nic DeAngelo says: I actually plan on doing an upcoming post about diet and frequency of meals. Any big recommendations?

Kelley Simpson says: That's a good combination. It sounds like you'll be able to attract more readers with that approach.

Kelley Simpson says: Obviously I'm a little bias but I would say 4 or 5 small meals a day and of course vegetarian.

Kelley Simpson says: What audience do you think you'll appeal to most?

Nic DeAngelo says: I'm looking to appeal to people like myself or anyone that is in need of some business advice. My thoughts and ventures are pretty scattered and I think it reflects in my posts. Hopefully the wide range of topics will be beneficial to a larger audience

Like what you read? For more of Nic's thoughts check out his blog.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Welcome to the World of PETA

So I've talked a bit about PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I'm sure you've heard of them before, whether it was a celebrity driven ad campaign against eating meat or a protester throwing red paint on a fur wearing pedestrian, PETA has stayed in the public eye. But who are the people behind the movement? Who are the people holding picket signs on the side of the street? After speaking with Jamie, a 22 year old PETA member from Canada, it appears they may not be that different after all.

Jamie has been aware of PETA since she was 14, when she first became a vegetarian however she never thought she would be an active member.

"I became a vegetarian after I heard a member of my favorite punk band say he was vegetarian... I was young." Jamie admits.

However what started as a trend quickly turned into a lifestyle. "I really got into it. I started slowly by just cutting out chicken, then moved on to no meat at all, then I dropped dairy products. I was living at home at the time, so it made meals with my family such a bitch. I can't tell you how many times I fought with my mother over dinner."

Jamie found out fast that being vegetarian was more then a few dietary choices as she became interested in PETA. Browsing their website one day she found a link to a PETA starter kit. Within a week the kit arrived at her house and Jamie became hooked.
"Of course I was younger, you could say I was impressionable, but the way they
presented information made sense."
That Fall Jamie left for college and joined an organization on campus which were supporters of PETA. "I was away from home (Jamie went to college in Canada) and it was a great way to bond with people over a common goal. I showed the PETA videos, of pig slaughterings and the inhumane ways livestock are treated, to friends and roommates all in an attempt to turn them onto the cause. Even when people didn't want to watch the videos I'd spew out facts to shock them. I was kind of intense."

Jamie's strong stance on vegetarianism didn't distance as many people as you may think. As she made new friends Jamie became even more involved in the cause, even attending a rally in downtown Toronto. "It was surreal. There were only about 50 people there but it was strange to be a part of something like that. The police ended up coming about 20 minutes into it and threatened us to stay off of the streets and not to crowd the sidewalk. I got scared and left in about an hour."

Jamie hasn't attended another rally since. "I kind of realized there are other ways to support a cause. I'm still interested in PETA and still involved on campus but I don't attend a lot of the large public events." Jamie thinks there's a better way to show the positive side of going vegetarian. "Like anything in life, networking. Telling and showing your friends, family, and coworkers that vegetarian options are easily assessable and taste pretty similar, is just as effective, if not more, then yelling at strangers on the street. So while I still support those groups, I've just learned that being more reserved can accomplish the same goals."

While Jamie used to represent a more liberal and outgoing stance on vegetarianism, she is now more conservative in expressing her opinions. Yet her insight to the movement shows that both sides of the spectrum, both vocal and quiet, can produce a positive result. Jamie continues to follow a vegetarian lifestyle in Canada.

Beef: It's What's for Dinner least during the Holiday season. So what's a vegetarian to do? Easter has come and gone and it's only a matter of time before the next holiday rolls around. This means large family gatherings filled with delicious (and meaty) foods. The slim selection of meat-free alternatives can leave anyone hungry.
I know there is only a certain amount of mashed potatoes and green beans I can eat. So I found a great website which features multiple holiday vegetarian alternatives. The Easter specials look particularly interesting. Nonetheless check it out for some vegetarian feasts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Need an April Fools Joke?

I'm starting a revolution.

Ok, maybe not a revolution but I'm spreading the word about a great meat-free product. It's called Gardein and it's sold at grocery stores all over the country.

Typically I include it in salads. So during lunch the other day, it caught a co-worker's attention. She was so intrigued she had to try. Surprisingly she liked it. Which led to her tricking her boyfriend a few days later by including it in their meal and passing it off as real meat. The story sparked a trend around my office, with other co-workers attempting to fool their significant others and friends with the fake meat product. Not convinced? Try for yourself.

It was even featured on Oprah and Ellen, so it has the seal of approval.

Go Veggie

I've worked around the corner from Go Veggie for years but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that a co-worker brought it to my attention when trying to figure out what to eat for lunch. " You're a vegetarian, why don't you try Go Veggie?"

Good question. So I tried it.

Attached to a market, Go Veggie is small enough, you'd miss it if you weren't looking. Inside, behind the counter is a small friendly staff which includes Maria.

Maria has worked at Go Veggie for almost a year. She's not a vegetarian but enjoys the veggie options the small restaurant offers.

A self serve buffet lines one side of the room with a limited number of tables on the other. Informative signs mark the type of food available. "I've written many of the signs," Maria says, "But I haven't tried all of the foods. My favorite is the pickling red cabbage. It's a regular".

Sandwiches, burgers, salads, and soups make up the menu at Go Veggie along with a number of tasty drinks such as veggie juices and fresh fruit smoothies.
"When I first started working here, I would drink the fresh grapefruit juice every shift. I think I've had enough of it now. I like the watermelon better."
With a rotating menu of delicious vegetarian options, including a curry which was recently introduced, Go Veggie offers a fresh alternative to eating vegetarian. There's something for everyone which Maria reiterates, "I don't have to eat the food we serve but I like it. The capellini pasta salad is good and the marinated tofu but I still like a burger too."

Go Veggie is close to the intersection on Centinela and Jefferson near Culver City.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

To Live and Eat in LA

Found a kindred spirit in a fellow LA Vegetarian food blog. Based primarily of photos, To Live and Eat in LA, offers vegan options throughout the city. They share restaurant tips and chronicle adventuring through the LA Vegan scene. The photos are enough to make anyones stomach grumble. Check out this one for a Veggie Quesadilla.
Unfortunately they're taking some time off but it's worth it to look through previous articles for some vegetarian inspiration.