My Vegan Dog

2013-06-02 17.08.24

Happy world vegan day!

This is my Shiva. She is named after Vandana Shiva, the ecofeminist. Shiva is a rescue and was homeless before the shelter picked her up. Being homeless led her to eat everything. I am serious when I say everything. At one point, I thought I should start playing the lottery because she would poop out paper with numbers on it! Shiva is 16 pounds of loyal cuddling. She is wary of strangers, I think also due to being homeless, but a huge love bug once she decides she loves you. Shiva loves me best despite the reason we got her was because hubby wanted a dog. As a rescue, we are unsure of her breed and would rather spend the money it would take to find out on treats and toys. We think Shiva is part Shiba Inu and part Fox Terrier.

We knew we wanted our dog to be vegan before Shiva picked us at the shelter. We had read enough information about happy and healthy vegan dogs. Shortly after bringing her home we noticed that she would eat anything, cigarette butts, rabbit poop, rotting anything. Bleck. It continues to be frustrating. Due to this terrible habit, no matter our diligence, Shiva developed pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. We didn’t even know what this was or that it could be very deadly. Twice she has been hospitalized for pancreatitis and other times we have been able to catch it early enough to treat at home. One time I even induced vomiting to make sure she didn’t get sick again.

After the first time, and as we were transitioning her to a vegan diet, our veterinarian recommended she have a very low fat diet to help prevent reoccurrence. Great! A vegan diet is very low in fat. However, every veterinarian has questioned this decision. Really? It’s so frustrating. Shiva is now approximately 14 years old, a senior dog by any standards. She is still happy to go on a long walk every day and gets antsy if the weather prevents a long walk outside for too many days in a row. She shows no signs of arthritis, but has glassy eyes and is losing her hearing. Other than this and continued flair-ups of pancreatitis, she is in great health. Once a dog has pancreatitis, the dog retains a high likelihood of continued problems with the condition. Especially a dog like Shiva that eats everything.

The bonus of her eating everything is that treats are as simple as raw carrots or peanut butter. She runs around our home with excitement when we pull a Kong filled with peanut butter out of the freezer.

Shiva eats V-dog and adores it. I didn’t want to worry about making sure she was getting all the right proportions of nutrients and decided a formulated diet would be easiest. For skeptic veterinarians, this has been a smart choice as I can easily share the nutrition facts and when there have been additional questions, V-dog staff have been great about supplying additional information.

Choosing what to feed everyone in your family is very personal. Some dogs seem to absolutely refuse vegan options. Veterinarians that support vegan dogs feel that a very slow transition is possible for all dogs. For Shiva, she eats everything. A mixed blessing. I hope your fur babies are healthy and bring you lots of joy. I consider my vegan dog another form of activism through everyday choices and she doesn’t mind.


Vegan Family Vacations


We all need vacations! Especially parents. And vegan vacations are fantastic. Lots of time focusing on relaxing and not on where to find the next vegan meal. Some cities are better at this than others and sometimes a fully vegan experience is possible (and amazing). I previously wrote about Deer Run B&B in the Florida Keys. Such an incredible trip that included an amazing vegan breakfast each morning. There are other vegan getaways in the United States and across the world. Happy Cow is a great resource for finding such gems. The Stanford Inn by the Sea is on my bucket list!

I was recently approached to talk about family friendly vegan vacations. In general, family holidays that are also vegan can be that much more challenging because when a new layer of sorting is added, fewer choices become available. Luckily, sometimes others have been kind enough to share their research. Here are what look to be six great options.

Sometimes we seek alternatives to family gatherings that normally involve eating animals. For example, this year I am going to Thanksliving at Indraloka animal sanctuary and can’t wait to spend a day with rescued animals, vegans, and great food! Sometimes there are even resorts that meet all these desires; vegan, family friendly, and over a holiday. Really? You bet! I just learned about La Maravilla in Costa Rica. It looks like a wonderful way to be thankful for our vegan lifestyles with our families.

Let me know what vegan holidays you have experienced so I can add them to my bucket list. The photo above is from a trip to Maui many years ago.

Savory Bites

My cousin has been living in the city all summer and goes back to Texas this week. I have been lucky enough to see him almost every week. Last weekend, I invited him and other family over for dinner so we could all share more time before he leaves.

My apartment, like many apartments in NYC, is small, so a sit-down dinner is a challenge. I decided, instead, to have a finger food meal to make things easier and normalize the idea of sitting on the couch while eating. The dinner went great and I invented a new yummers finger food for the occasion, Savory Bites.

The idea comes from using filo dough, but I dislike using that dough. It can be a lot of work and my approach remains easy cooking. Instead, I used crescent rolls. The kind that come in tubes.

I made two different kinds. One that was like pizza and another with pesto. To do the exact same thing, you will need:

  • Two rolls of crescent roll dough, in the tube, check the ingredients to make sure they are vegan
  • Spaghetti sauce, I used a garlic heavy one
  • Black olives sliced into thin circles
  • Shredded vegan mozzarella 
  • Vegan pesto
  • Small onion, diced into small pieces 
  • Small red bell pepper, diced into small pieces 
  • A few button mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • Tablespoon of olive oil

Start by sautéing the onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil. Sauté on medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool. Take the first roll and open onto parchment or wax paper. This will let the dough be more easily removed later. With your fingers, mash together all the seams to make one sheet of dough. Using a rolling pin (or label-free and cleaned wine bottle), roll out the dough a couple times in each direction to flatten and even everything.

For the pesto bites: Use a spoon to add a thin layer of pesto to the dough, then a thin layer of the cooked veggies, and a thin layer of cheese. There will be left over filling. The layers should be thin because the dough is delicate and won’t roll well if too thick.

Looking at the longest edge of the dough, begin to roll that edge towards its opposite edge. Don’t be afraid to help the dough off the parchment paper. If the original seams reappear, this is okay. Try to carefully mash them together again and keep rolling. Soon you will have a long roll of dough with filling. Take a sharp knife and slowly cut into circles of about an inch thick. I got about 12 circles from each roll. Place each circle on a pan with at least one inch between each.

They won’t look perfect, and this is okay. Flavor is most important.

For the pizza bites: Follow the same dough preparation process of making into sheet. Add a thin layer of speghetti sauce, a thin layer of black olives, and a thin layer of cheese. Follow the same roll and cut process.

Cook the bites at 375 for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden.

So yummy! Everyone ate as many as they could and kept going back to grab another one. The process can easily be used for other savory or sweet ingredients.

I hope you try these and let me know how it goes, especially if you try different ingredients. I will absolutely be making these again.

Feeding a 9-Year-Old

My adorable 9-year-old nephew came to visit last month and I thought long and hard about how to feed this picky eater. I asked my brother which vegetables he liked and made sure to have those handy; baby carrots, broccoli stems, steamed spinach, and avocado. But what would I make for him, other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? He had two of those during the visit.

I made pancakes, of course, and he ate more than anyone else at the table. Score! I also made him grilled cheese with smoked tofurkey slices. He liked this so much he asked for it instead of the one meal he didn’t like. I also made pigs in blankets with steamed broccoli stems. He devoured these, along with hubby who only likes the tops of broccoli. They make a great broccoli team!

Nephew kept verifying that everything was vegan. At one point he asked what the cheese was made from if not cow milk? Before I could answer, he suggested chicken milk. This made my brother laugh very loudly.

Nephew ate well and I enjoyed our visit. Woo hoo!