My Journey Into Veganism

A little background….I went vegetarian at the age of 15 – a young, passionate teenager vehemently sharing my views on animal rights and the plight of the voiceless from the day I read Peter Singer’s eye opening book “Animal Liberation”. Since then, I can’t honestly say I was 100% every single day – there were times, like during my two pregnancies, that I did revert back to my meat-eating ways.  Back then there was no facebook, no instagram, no YouTube, not much in the way of social media with which to share the horrific images and stories of what goes on behind those slaughterhouse walls.  I never did any research either, as to whether or not a vegetarian diet could sustain a healthy pregnancy.  I just thought I had no choice, that I had to eat animal flesh to get the protein I needed.  Boy was I wrong!

During the last omnivore stint, every time I would consume animal flesh I would get sick.  Terrible stomach aches and indigestion accompanied by intense gas pains (gross I know) and misery after eating.  Every…single…time.  That was it.  My body was telling me to stop and I had no problem quitting again cold turkey.  I never looked back.

Here it is 15 years later and I have a daughter who reminds me a lot of someone I used to know.  About 2 years ago, after eating a steak dinner, for some reason she decided to watch a video on YouTube “If the Slaughterhouse Had Glass Walls”.  On the way to drop her off at her friend’s house that night she said to me “I’m not eating meat anymore.  I watched this video and cried the entire time”.  I felt my heart leap in my chest and knew one day she would figure it out for herself. This was the day!

About a year into it, she told me she wanted to go Vegan.  My daughter does a lot of her own research and was horrified to learn of the methods used in the dairy and egg industry.  Although I was still eating these things, I supported her in her decision and did not try to sway her either way.  Veganism just seemed so difficult to me.  The thought of coffee without creamer in it, no cheese pizza and no tuna sandwiches or egg biscuits…how could I give that up?  I was buying “Organic” creamer and cheese, “cage free certified humane” eggs and “sustainable” fish.  Sounds okay right?  Cows have to be milked and hens have to lay eggs…that was my reasoning.  No, it’s not – it’s not okay and again, I was wrong.

Even though my 15 year old daughter had made a smooth transition and preached to me daily, it wasn’t until my visit to a local animal sanctuary opened my eyes to the necessity of living a totally Vegan lifestyle if I was truly wanting to do my part to end animal suffering.

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Man’s Best Friend Indeed

At the place in which I work, I come in contact with people from all over the world.  I wanted to share something that someone told me yesterday.  It is a stark reminder of how different the living conditions in other countries are from our own and also it is a heart warming story of a dog protecting her owners.

The gentleman and his family live in Venezuela.  He was telling me how in Venezuela, the government allows the “bad guys” to carry guns and terrorize the “good guys” (like he and his family) who cannot have anything to protect themselves with.  He said that kidnappings are very common where he comes from and proceeded to tell me what happened when one of the “bad guys” attempted to kidnap his 15 year old daughter.

His ex-wife had come to pick up their daughter and son for the weekend.  They were outside his home and the kids were getting in the car.  The son had forgotten something inside the house and left the car door open as he went back inside. Out of nowhere the father saw a man brandishing a gun run across the driveway and pull his daughter out of the car.  He was holding her at gunpoint when their 10 year old Golden Retriever ran out of the front door and lunged at the gunman.  He must’ve gotten scared because he let go of the girl and ran off.

Why I find this amazing is that Golden’s are not naturally the protective type – you would assume that instead of attacking the bad guy, that they would be more likely to lick them to death.  Not this girl…she sensed that her owners were in danger and saved their lives.  He told me that she had never shown to have an aggressive bone in her body her whole 10 years.  He looked at me and said “yep, I love her”.

Then in the next breath he said “But I went out and got a Rottweiler too…she’s in training…just in case.”

A Nose by Any Other Name…

Which is loveliest in a nose? Its coy beauty when it’s budding, or its splendour when it blows?
George Barlow

Or maybe it didn’t quite go that way…..

I’m having issues this morning.  Not only am I posting on  Sunday, which I never do, but this blogroll contest has completely taken over.  I think I’m in the early stages of delirium and like West Nile….there is no cure.  With every glance and every look I saw clown noses….this were starting to creep me out when I looked around the house and saw this:

And this:

Then I turned on the TV:

Even the NJ girls have it

Is that a clown nose their kicking around?

Oh no, not you too Paula!

Then I thought “I’ll settle this…once and for all…” and went to google.  I typed in “He who must not be….”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

I need to be de-clowned!!

Today’s challenge conjured up by Saradraws was to post a truth or dare for Le Clown to partake in.  This was most difficult.  It is the final challenge.  Yes, I said FINAL.  Meaning tomorrow all the fun will be over and I will learn my worth in this world by measure of whether or not I was granted a spot on the blogroll.  Ok, maybe I’m not quite that obsessed but it sure would feel good!  If you have a great dare you can think of, read the rules first, then post away under the comments!

Thank you for supporting me this week and watching me go slowly “clowny”.  I have a strange urge to put on face paint and big shoes….but…oh well, there’s nothing wrong with that right?

Animal Kingdom Lodge Review

Last summer we took a trip to Walt Disney World with my parents and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  AKL is classified under Disney Resorts as a “Deluxe Resort” meaning that it is more of a full service resort rather than a limited service that you would find at one of the Value resorts.  The main theme of the AKL is the African experience.  From the minute you walk through the doors it is like you have been transported to Africa as you are surrounded with authentic African art and decor.

The resort itself is huge.  It is broken down into different buildings and also houses one of Disney’s vacation resorts on property which are condo-like timeshares.  The main draw of the resort is the fact that it sits upon a 43-acre wildlife preserve.  If you reserve a Savannah view room, you will be waking up to the sights of giraffe and wilder beast eating their breakfast right outside your balcony!

The rooms themselves are small, which is common for Disney resorts.  I suppose they assume most people won’t be spending much time in the rooms anyway so you are paying the big bucks for all of the extras that the resort offers, rather than an extravagant room.  We had a room with two double beds however the resort also offers a room with one king bed and a set of bunk beds for those with smaller children.  These usually are a bit more money and considered an upgrade. All of the rooms offer an in-room safe and a small refrigerator.

View from our room (partial savannah view)

On hotel property there are several options for dining.  They have what Disney calls “counter service” at Mara, which is accessible through the pool area.  This is the quick service food-court like option which offers things like pizza, sandwiches, bakery items, yogurt, pasta…etc… You grab a tray and then order up what you want.  Mara is also where you would purchase your Disney mug.  Disney mugs are available at all of the WDW resort properties.  These are around $15 each however they are good for unlimited free refills at your resort for the duration of your stay. When individual drinks cost about $3 each, depending on how long you stay this can save you a bunch of money!  We have a nice collection of Disney mugs at our house.  This is the most recent design from last summer:

Disney changes out the design of the mugs each year because you are not “allowed” to re-use your mugs on subsequent visits.  I doubt that Disney is highly enforcing this rule but beware the die hard Disney goers….they are watching you and they WILL tattle!

Along with the quick service option, there area few higher-end dining options as well.  We were able to experience “Boma – Flavors of Africa” during our stay.  I had booked it for a buffet breakfast as one of our sit-down meals for the trip.  Boma prides itself on its extensive buffet with over 50 offerings, several of which are native African cuisine.  The buffet is pricey, be prepared….it is around $36 per adult and $27 per child.  Make sure you come hungry!  Now, I kind of wish we would’ve done the dinner buffet, as the breakfast was pretty typical of any breakfast buffet.  There were a few “different” dishes but all in all, it was pretty standard….eggs, bacon, waffles etc.  The juice however, is amazing.  It is called “Jungle Juice” and is a mixture of different juices….orange, mango, pineapple and lemonade.  Yum!

Another mid-priced sit down restaurant, Sana, can be located in the Villas area of the resort in the  Kidani Village building.  Featuring African cuisine, it is priced $15-$35 per person serving lunch and dinner.  If it is fine dining you are craving then seek out Jiko – the Cooking Place located at Jambo House.  It features….yup, you guessed it….African cuisine and offers an impressive wine list.  Priced at $30-$60 per person.

For those of you able to steal some time away from the kids, there are two lounges on property as well, Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar and also the Victoria Falls Lounge.

Besides the savannah, the outdoor and pool area is a huge draw and center of excitement for kids young and old.  The Samawati Springs pool is a 4,700 sq foot zero-entry pool that features a 128 ft water slide.  There are a couple of hot tubs strategically placed around the pool as well.  During busy months, even this gigantic pool can get pretty crowded.  I suggest taking an early morning swim before jaunting off to the parks or a late night swim which everyone else is watching fireworks at the Magic Kingdom!

View of hot tub from our room

There are several look out areas in which you can go and view the animals.  Sometimes at night they light a bonfire or do movies under the stars.  Also on property are jogging trails, bike rentals, a playground, a children’s activity program and a video arcade.  There are fitness centers at both Jambo House and Kidani Village however Jambo House also offers a salon and spa where you can enjoy a relaxing massage or salon appointment.  Here is a picture of one of the savannah look out areas with comfy rocker seating:

We caught a glimpse of these guys at one of the lookout areas

One thing that we always take advantage of at every Disney resort is the coin-operated laundry facilities.  If you are staying for longer than 5 days you might find that your clothes need a good washing mid-week thanks to the sweltering Florida heat and crowded theme parks.  It costs around $1-$3 per load.  **Packing Tip** Before you leave home, purchase a package of those Purex laundry all-in-one sheets and put a few in a plastic bag.  Stuff it in your suitcase and viola!  You no longer need to buy that expensive (and tiny) box of detergent in the laundry room.

My kiddos had a good time walking around in the gift shop.  They had a bunch of the standard Disney gift shop offerings such as stuffed animals, Disney keychains, shirts, hats etc… However they also had some items you would only be able to find at AKL.  There are several hand-made, authentic African items for sale including jewelry, paintings and little animal statues.  Of course, if you forgot any travel essentials such as pain reliever, band aids, nail files etc… you can find it all here.  **Travelin Tip** As in any hotel, it is cheaper to buy wine and beer from the gift shop coolers than at the bar.  So if you don’t mind enjoying it in your room (not allowed publically or poolside) then sae a buck and buy from the gift shop!

We had a fabulous time at Animal Kingdom Lodge from the time we surprised the kids while we pulled up into the front drive until we packed up the car to go home that sad, Saturday morning.  It was nice to stay at a Deluxe Disney resort thanks to a nice discount we were able to get.  I can’t say if we will stay here again, possibly if the price is right.  There is so much to do at AKL you really need to spend an entire day at the resort, just to experience everything it has to offer!

For more information on AKL or other Disney Resorts visit:http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts

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