Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rats are Rad!

Devi and Anatidae being held by auntie Liz

People just do not understand rats. I have spent most of my adult life in and out of relationships with rats, since their one downfall is a short lifespan of 2-3 years. Even with this in mind, it is worth the love investment in these tiny furry creatures regardless of the heartbreak you will later suffer.

What does this have to do with veganism? Part of me being vegan is my understanding of animals and their feelings and personalities and knowing who they are, not what they are. Animals in general are misunderstood as an object, something put on earth to use or something that can’t feel. Rats are especially subject to these misconceptions where they are readily used in animal research and so many people hate the idea of them being companion animals.

I personally describe rats as being like very small dogs, but smarter. I’ve even had a rat who once out-smarted my dog who was confused for days after she moved her nest to get away from his insistent curiosity. They are very loyal and loving as well. My rats Nicademus and Sadhu were brothers adopted at the Oregon Humane Society. I went in there with only $2 planning to not take anyone home. But there was a special, 2 for 1 deal, and rats only cost $2. It was fate that brought me so much joy and love and laughter. I remember them running up to me everyday when I would get home to greet me. They would often sleep in my arms at night or sit on my shoulder while watching tv. They were with me often and shared many wonderful moments together.

When I was faced with a decision to adopt more rats who needed a home, I asked myself what to do? I did not want any more pets at home with my two needy cats already getting so much of my attention. But then I remembered all that affection from my previous rats and knew the answer once I stopped asking my brain, and asked my heart what to do.

Devi and Anatidae are about 2 months old and already their individual personalities are shining through. Devi was named after Amrita Devi, who gave her life in the 1700s to save the forest her village relied on from being cut down. Although many people died that day in the effort Devi started, the forest was spared. This little rat is a sweet heart who is more social and more adventurous. Anatidae is the family order for ducks and geese which I did a report on for a biology class. I call her little Ana and she is much more shy than Devi, but has moments of bravery which is cute to watch.

I am so excited for years of experiences with these two adorable rats. They are a good reminder how sometimes two species can get along so amazingly well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Portland's Vegan Iron Chef 2010

I have never seen an iron chef competition on TV so I was excited my first experience would be with Portland’s first Vegan Iron Chef competition organized by friends with Try Vegan PDX. Liz did an amazing job with the art direction and all the posters and everything was top notch. I was impressed with Jess’ directing abilities shouting for action to the runners to make sure everything got done. Who knew she could be so authoritative. I liked it! Of course there were tons of other volunteers for the pantry and donations and the venue and other things that Deanna, Tina, Cindy, Val and people I did not know got done. Personally, I enjoyed just being able to take a seat and enjoy. It was quite the show!

The competitors included Aaron Adams from Portobello who is opening at his new location this month. This is where I have found the best lasagna I have ever eaten and his friendliness and culinary knowledge is impressive.

Wes from Blossoming Lotus excels at raw foods in my opinion and has unique vegan options to choose from.

I have never eaten at Quasu’s Asaase Ital Palace food cart by PSU, but somehow I found myself routing for her. Maybe it was her mystery or the fact she was the closest to me on the stage with no formal training or maybe it was that I found her poster to be the most compelling.

The competition was fun to witness and the stage was hectic with chefs and their assistants trying to get everything done in the 75 minutes allotted and volunteer runners were busy trying to help and not be in the way. I think they did a great job. I was so jealous I did not get to taste anything since everything looked so tasty.

I especially appreciated Joanna from Yellow Rose Recipes since she explained more what she tasted rather than stating the obvious one judge did. In the end, Quasu was announced the winner, but I think the whole Portland vegan community were the winners that night.