Optimistic Vegan


Vegan in Texas
April 5, 2011, 8:32 am
Filed under: Food, Lifestyle, Restaurants, Travel | Tags: , , , ,

When my dad and I went to Houston, Texas to see Jane Goodall we expected to have some difficulty finding vegan restaurants. Although we did have some difficulty and we relied heavily on Happy Cow, we survived!

As soon as we checked in to our hotel, we asked the hotel clerk  if there were any vegetarian places nearby. She said that her dad used to frequent the Hobbit Café and that he used to be a vegetarian. We then learned that the other clerk had tried to be vegetarian for a while, but ended up stopping. We didn’t expect to find anything promising, so that was good news! We did go to the Hobbit Café, and the food was great: Portabella Mushroom Fajitas. It was even voted “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” in Houston. We actually found this a little disconcerting because most of their menu contained meat products. It had a lot of character and it all worked out, but it was much different from the highest-rated vegetarian restaurant in good old Seattle.

In addition to the Hobbit Café we also went to a vegan Chinese buffet (decent, but not my favorite, but entirely vegan!) after going to the first few destinations listed at the Happy Cow–only to find out they no longer existed. We later found a Whole Foods Market and got some food for dinner.

Even though it was more difficult, I had a great time finding vegan food in Houston. I feel like if even Texas, popularly known mostly for its steak-devouring cowboys, is offering more vegan-friendly options then veganism must really be going somewhere!

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Happy Cow is a website that has a list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. There’s a great app for Android (and I’m assuming iPhone) that uses GPS to tell you the nearest veg restaurants.

*My preconceptions about Texas food come from what I’ve heard about Texas being more about cattle raising and eating beef than vegetarian food.

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Dr. Jane Goodall
April 4, 2011, 11:26 am
Filed under: Celebrities, Lifestyle, Personal | Tags: , , , ,

This is long overdue, but I wanted to make it sound right. I actually turned this in with an application. Ask me any questions you might have about my experience!

On March 9, 2011, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. My dad and I took three days off from our busy lives to fly to Houston, Texas to see Dr. Jane Goodall give a lecture about her life with chimpanzees. “Dr. Jane,” as she is affectionately called, is one of the finest I’ve had the opportunity to see. She realized her childhood dream of visiting Africa by taking advantage of all of the opportunities that came her way, working hard and never giving up hope.

Her first 26 years with chimpanzees were spent in Africa researching and making discoveries about their behavior. You can tell how fond her memories are; she speaks passionately and lovingly of all her chimpanzee friends. She even gave us a demonstration of how chimpanzees greet each other, and gave her call to the audience. I was reading the introduction of her book, Harvest for Hope, and she talked about how nervous she used to get giving public speeches (even Jane Goodall gets nervous!). She said that the way she calms down is by people watching, because she sees so many similarities between our behavior and the behavior of the chimpanzees she spent so many years studying. That’s why she decided, in 1986, that she couldn’t just stand by while their habitat and chance of survival was being destroyed. Since then she’s spent three hundred days of every year traveling around the world, spreading awareness and a message of peace and hope. She’s one of the most optimistic and inspirational people I’ve come across. Although faced with much adversity, she maintains a serene composure and an unwavering optimistic outlook.

When she realized that the habitat in Gombe was disappearing, she knew she had to do something to try and save it. One of the main reasons their habitat was being destroyed was because the villages around it were chopping down the trees for themselves. The people near Gombe were very impoverished and there was no way she would tell them they had to stop cutting trees (and lose their livelihood, warmth, etc.) so her chimpanzees could live. So she found some people in the villages that were interested in working with her to improve their quality of life. While working on this Jane got an invitation to a fair trade coffee conference and she mentioned the coffee production that was going on near Gombe. Turns out their coffee is pretty awesome (Green Mountain Coffee) and it completely turned around their quality of living. They set aside some protected land for the chimps with their new surge of profit and now their prospering as well. I love this story because it shows not only how animal lovers are human lovers as well, but that the best solutions can be very innovative. It also shows Jane’s ability to take full advantage of all her opportunities.

Dr. Jane started a program called Roots and Shoots, which is designed to give kids the support they need to change the world. Her goal is to inspire the next generation to care for the planet in all ways, and she does this by convincing them that each individual can make a difference. One of the great bits of advice she gave was to experience everything and take every opportunity that comes your way. Through these experiences, ideas and opportunities to make a difference will begin to manifest. She’s an inspiration to everyone, and the world is a better place because of her. I hope that I can make a fraction of the difference that she has.

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I’d like to add that Jane Goodall is also a vegetarian. She even wrote a book about it, Harvest for Hope.