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My Favorite ThingsAs I am composing this blog, I am reminding myself that Oprah’s Favorite Things 2012 comes on in a couple of hours. While I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard fan of Oprah Winfrey, I do love when she does her “favorite things” episodes and just gives away amazing gifts to the masses; she “shares the wealth” so to speak. My giddiness to see what she’s giving away this year (I heard thru the vegan grapevine that Earth Balance’s peanut-coconut spread is one of the items this year!) inspired me to start thinking about my favorite vegan things. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, it’s also a good time to reflect on the many things I am grateful for in the vegan world. Having said that, here are my favorite people/items/things I am grateful for and loving:

  1. Vegan Chocolate. My favorite brands include Theo Chocolate and Salazon Chocolate–both approved in the Food Empowerment Project’s chocolate list.
  2. Vegan wine. If you aren’t aware already, in the filtering process, wine can be filtered using animal products such as isinglass (fish intestines) or egg whites. Believe me, I was shocked when I learned this! If you have a favorite wine, but aren’t sure if it’s vegan friendly, check out Barnivore to see what their database reflects. My favorite vegan-friendly wines are Orleans HillRed Truck Petite Sirah, and Pacific Redwood.
  3. Animal sanctuaries. Until I became vegan, I had never heard of an animal sanctuary. But how great is it to know there are places in this world where animals can live out their lives in their entirety in complete bliss?! We should all be so lucky! In fact, I was recently fortunate enough to attend a local animal sanctuary’s “Thanksgiving WITH the Turkeys.” If you’ve never visited an animal sanctuary, please research if there’s one in your area and give yourself the treat of a wonderful experience!
  4. Vegan blogs & podcasts. No matter where you are in the world and if you feel like a lonely vegan amongst the masses of omnivores, you can always turn to a vegan blog or podcast to make you feel part of community again. I’ve written before about my favorites, but if there’s one podcast/blog I would say you must subscribe to, check out Our Hen House. There’s a reason the ladies behind Our Hen House were deemed vegan media moguls by VegNews magazine in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue.
  5. And speaking of VegNews magazine—I love VegNews! They’re a little pricey to buy off the newsstand; all the more reason I recommend you subscribe! Every issue is packed with animal advocacy information, vegan resources from cookbooks to body care, inspirational interviews, recipes, product recommendations, intelligent feature articles and so much more! They’re the only vegan lifestyle printed publication and they rock!
  6. Vegan bakeries. Just for clarification, this list is in no particular order. If it was, I think vegan bakeries would have been a little higher on the list, heehee. (It’s no secret I have a sweet tooth.) I’m fortunate that there is a local health foods store that makes pretty good vegan baked goods AND I am also a metro ride away from Sticky Fingers bakery. But I must say, every time I head north to New Jersey to visit the in-laws, I try to find a way to squeeze in a visit to Sweet Avenue bakeshop in Rutherford. Their tiny, downtown bakery serves up yum-my vegan baked goods by some friendly, tattoo-loving bakers who happen to also be Twilight fans (which is a major plus in my book–don’t hate me, er, us).
  7. Kale! Steam it, massage it for a salad, throw a couple of handfuls in a smoothie, layer it in a wrap, etc! What a versatile and nutritious plant! Kale is fabulous—’nuff said.
  8. Seventh Generation products. I love everything they make! I’ve used their home cleaners, paper towels, toilet paper, feminine care products, baby wipes (for removing makeup back in my theatre days), hand soap–whatever I could get my hands on. I personally feel really good about exposing myself and my household to products that are not toxic, won’t pollute the environment as I wash the dirty water down the drain, and bears the symbol for no animal testing–major, major plus. Their ingredients are also on their cleansing products and that level of transparency is really hard to find in cleaning product companies, so I really appreciate that about Seventh Generation.
  9. Pacifica perfume. This vegan-friendly company offers some uh-may-zing scents in spritzes, roll-on perfume, body butters, and more! You can usually find their products in the beauty section at Whole Foods and I highly encourage you to play with the testers (wink, wink). Unfortunately, their line caters more to women. So ladies, check them out. I especially love the Tuscan Blood Orange and Indian Coconut Nectar scents!
  10. My Vitamix! This monster of a blender is an amazing addition to your kitchen. It’ll knock your little blender on its butt in a culinary showdown! I’ve had my Vitamix for less than 6 months and just love how conveniently I can make my own nut butters, puree veggies for a smoothie, I’ve even used my dry ingredients container to blend dry chickpeas into my own chickpea flour. Yes, this machine (and I mean it—MACHINE) is a financial commitment, but if you can afford it, I highly recommend it!
  11. That moment when a member of my family tells me they are making some vegan dishes specially for me. I am always so touched by the thoughtfulness, consideration, and open-mindedness that is demonstrated by a sister baking vegan cupcakes so I can enjoy a family member’s birthday celebration or how my mother-in-law is planning to have vegan Thanksgiving options for me. What’s really awesome and warms my heart is when they create a veganized version of something for themselves…just because. THAT. IS. AWESOME.
  12. Like I said, this list is in no particular order, but if it was, this next thing would be my number one favorite thing: When someone in your life decides to commit to a vegan lifestyle because of your influence. I was fortunate to have the support of my omnivore husband when I decided to go vegan. Then, ten months later, he made the official decision to go vegan as well! It’s the greatest joy to know your loved ones, friends, co-workers, whomever, are making the change to compassion and healthy living. If you’ve ever experienced this moment, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t yet had this experience, don’t fret. Just keep being a beautiful, flourishing example of healthy vegan living and you WILL plant the seed at some point for someone!

So those are my favorite things. Sorry I don’t have any giveaways for any of you. I unfortunately lack Oprah’s extravagant bank account for such gift-giving. But I will give you this: I wish you a blessed upcoming Thanksgiving and I want to extend my thanks and gratitude for the time you spend to read this blog. Support in the vegan community truly is priceless and amazing…and should be one of everyone’s favorite things!

*image courtesy of onepassiononedevotion.wordpress.com