"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men." Alice Walker, American author

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chicago Stage Review's review of Ringling Bros. Circus


I was pleased to see the Chicago Stage Review give this accurate review of the Ringling Bros. Circus which has been touring Chicago and suburbs in November and this month.  

It truly is the saddest show on earth.

It's the 21st century.  We can do better than this.

For more information about ending circus animal cruelty, go to Break the Chain. 
Also see Circus Protest for resources and information about starting your own circus protest.   Both are listed permanently on our links list on the right sidebar. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Looking back at Summer 2012

I should have posted about our summer events earlier, but better late than never I suppose!  So, now, in our final days of October, let's look back at a couple of events that CAF hosted.
Summer was a busy time for us at CAF.  For the first time in the two+ years since we formed, we hosted a speaker for the Social Action Coffeehouse series; and we were asked to coordinate and give the annual Blessing of the Animals service at Countryside. 

On June 29, Mikael Nielsen, from Chicago-based Mercy for Animals, came to Countryside to present a powerful slide show and talk titled "Peace, Social Justice, and Animal Welfare".  About 25 people attended, which is a good number for the Social Action coffeehouses!  Kathy Jones and Belinda Draper Robinson (thank you Kathy!!) brought vegan cookies and snacks, as well as So Delicious coconut milk creamers for coffee, to show that making your diet cruelty-free does not mean giving up sweets and cream in your coffee! 

The MFA presentation, while sometimes disturbing in showing the harsh brutal truths of modern-day factory farming, was nonetheless powerful and even optimistic in it's premise.  We can all contribute to the demise of factory farming at a level we are each comfortable with, be it cutting out meat one or two days a week, eating meat only occasionally or choosing to give up meat and animal products altogether. 

At the end of the presentation, Mikael showed a 4-minute film, MFA's "Farm to Fridge".  WARNING:  This film is very graphic and disturbing, but it's message needs to be seen and heard. 


Finally, in July, CAF volunteers coordinated our first Blessing of the Animals service.   We at CAF felt it was a great success.  More to come about that tomorrow. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

El Nuevo Mexicano

El Nuevo Mexicano

Thursday, June 21, sets off a month of vegan specialties at El Nuevo Mexicano on Clark St. in Wrigleyville, Chicago.   From June 21 through July, 10% of proceeds from all vegan menu options will be donated to Mercy For Animals in Chicago.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Investigation Video - Mercy For Animals

It is with great sadness - and even some reservation - that I share this video here.  Sadness, because I see these videos all too often, several times a year, actually.  It is so unnecessary.

With reservation, as I personally dislike watching these videos - and honestly I will not watch this one.  I've seen enough.  I'm doing what I can by choosing to eat a vegan diet and lifestyle.
Please consider doing what you can to help make these videos become unnecessary and disappear forever, whether that is reducing your meat and animal product consumption, vowing to only buy certified humane products, or if you can, giving up animal products altogether. 

Below is the video footage - I understand this is graphic and disturbing, but I feel compelled to share it, again, in light of the ongoing cruelty inherent in our factory farms - where most of our meat, eggs and cheese come from - and in light of the recent efforts of the Ag-Gag bills to suppress these undercover investigations that expose the industry's cruelty. 

Embed Investigation Video - Mercy For Animals

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Cruel Truth about the Latest Fashion in Hair Accessories

http://www.upc-online.org/entertainment/120426feather_hair_extension_handout.html truth behind th

United Poultry Concerns recently published a pamphlet revealing the cruel truth behind those feather hair extensions many of the young women (and Steven Tyler) are currently wearing. 

The truth is, these chickens are bred solely for their TAIL feathers, and they are not harvested in a humane way. 
 From United Poultry Concerns website: 

"Hair extension feathers are obtained from caged roosters who are raised for this purpose in filth and misery. The largest American supplier of these feathers is Whiting Farms in Colorado. According to the company: “Each rooster has only a small number of tail feathers that can be used for sales – sometimes none, sometimes 5 or 6.” Up to 1,500 roosters may be killed by Whiting Farms each week for the fashion industry. The dead roosters are then trashed like garbage. “They aren’t good for anything else,” bragged company president Thomas Whiting, showing the cruelty and waste of the feather business.
Whiting Farms lies to the public. They do NOT kill their birds “humanely.” They do not “euthanize” them. To keep blood off the feathers, Whiting Farms and similar companies asphyxiate their birds with Carbon Dioxide.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) inflicts a terrible death. Roosters killed for feather hair extensions die in painful agony while they suffocate in terror. The roosters panic as they realize they cannot breathe. Every inhalation to try to get oxygen and expel the poisonous gas from their lungs tightens the strangulation. This is the torture that Whiting Farms and its competitors put innocent birds through merely for a trivial hair ornament.
What Should I Do?
If you are wearing feather hair extensions, please stop wearing them. Give the feathers a decent burial and tell your friends why you are no longer wearing them.
If you are thinking about buying a feather hair extension or any other feather or “down” product, please don’t. There are many beautiful feather-free fabrics, beads and other ornaments you can buy, or even make yourself, that don’t come from suffering and abused animals.
Do NOT believe Whiting Farms or other feather sellers who tell you their feathers are obtained “humanely.” It is not possible to obtain millions of feathers “humanely” for the feather trade. As the beauty care company, Aveda, explained to its salon owners in a letter urging them to stop selling these feathers: “As you may be aware, feather extensions come from de-feathered and slaughtered roosters. Some may even be plucked from live animals, causing incredible pain.”
Please be kind to me. Don't wear my feathers.
If you see anyone wearing feathers braided into their hair or buying or selling “feather hair extensions,” politely inform them that roosters are being raised in filthy warehouses, cruelly gassed to death, and thrown away like garbage, merely for a few feathers from each bird’s body. Educate fashion and teen magazine editors, store managers and others about the terrible suffering and death these poor birds are enduring merely for a fashion item that can easily be made from cloth fabric. Urge store managers to stop selling feather hair extensions. Carry these pamphlets with you to hand out. Order 10 for $1.00. 25 for $2.50 from www.upc-online.org/merchandise. Or send check or money order to the address below.
Thank you for choosing compassionate fashion!
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
To learn more about how you can help millions of birds, please visit or write to:
United Poultry Concerns • PO Box 150 • Machipongo, VA 23405 USA
757-678-7875 • info@upc-online.orgwww.upc-online.org"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CAF's Meatless Monday info table at Earth Day fest at Countyside Church , Palatine IL,

On Sunday, April 22, CAF hosted a table at Countryside's annual Earth Day event, sponsored by our Green Sanctuary.  This year, CAF decided to focus on promoting the Meatless Monday campaign.  Why does our group support and promote Meatless Monday?  Our poster here explains it well - ".. for Farm Animals - Each year, 10 billion cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, and other innocent, sentient animals are caged, crowded, deprived, mutilated, and manhandled in U.S. factory farms.  They are then hauled to the slaughterhouse and killed under atrocious conditions.  Nine percent (over 850 million) never make it to the slaughterhouse, dying from stress-induced diseases or injuries..."  (from www.meatoutmondays.org/animals)  However, Meatless Monday also alleviates the suffering and killing of U.S. wildlife as well - "  In addition to the ten billion animals killed by animal agriculture each year for human consumption, hundreds of thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bears, bison, and other wild animals are shot, maimed, poisoned, and burned alive by farmers and government agents to keep them from interfering with agricultural operations.  Tens of millions and starlings and blackbirds are poisoned each year to keep them from eating animal feed.  An even greater threat to wildlife is posed by the destruction of their natural habitats.  Animal agriculture turns hundreds of acres of forest, wetlands, and other habitats into grazing and croplands to feed farm animals."  (www.meatoutmondays.org/animals)


CAF's info table, with free Tofurky and Sunshine burger samples...

We did eventually get 3 people to sign the pledge by the end of the day..

Belinda Draper Robinson and Sheryl Bass (co-coordinators of CAF) and Laura Walker, a fellow member of CAF. 

 Furthermore, reducing our overall meat, dairy, and egg  consumption promotes the well-being of our soil, water, and atmosphere - CAFOs are one of the biggest contributors to water, soil, and air pollution in the U.S.  Not to mention moving toward a more plant-based diet is extremely beneficial for one's overall health. 

Tofurky and Gardein coupons, and UUAM and Meatless Monday brochures
We are grateful to Tofurky for their generous supply of coupons for free Tofurky products to hand out for sampling
A CCUU member pleasantly surprised at the deliciousness of the vegan sausages..

For more information about Meatless Monday, see these websites:  

And check out CAF's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CountrysideAnimalFriends for recipes and links every Monday. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012


A new website from the UUA on Ethical Eating from various viewpoints - regarding social justice and workers' rights; animal rights and conservation; environmental effects, health, etc.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baked Seitan Loaf

Sorry I almost forgot about Meatless Monday - and I was out of town the past two weeks.. but better late than never - maybe you can make this tomorrow!

On Sunday, I made a seitan loaf - that's wheat-meat made from wheat gluten, broth and seasonings, rolled and baked into a loaf in the oven.
I'm sharing this because a)this is one of the best seitan loaves I've made, and b)home-made seitan is easy; and c)it's way cheaper and tastier than store-bought (although Upton's Naturals and Tofurky are pretty darned good - but pricey!
This seitan has a firm, yet tender texture; not bready-y at all!  

This is my tweak (I always tweak recipes!) of a recipe in Robin Robertson's VEGAN ON THE CHEAP - a very good cookbook btw, I use it all the time.  This loaf is perfect for dicing up for BBQ sandwiches, tacos/enchiladas, etc.  Or do what I did for lunch today and slice thin for a sandwich.  (My dog loves it too, so, yes it does taste "meat-y"!)

BAKED SEITAN LOAF (This will come out looking like a long Tofurky roast btw..)

Dry mix:
1 and 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour (I use Arrowhead Mills)
1/2 cup chickpea flour (found in most Indian/multi-ethnic groceries/markets)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes (optional; but lends a lot to taste)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Wet mix::
1/2 block water-packed tofu
1 and 1/4  cup veg. broth, COLD (I use the Pacific brand pre-pkgd individual cups of broth for seitan)
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Blend the tofu and other wet ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Make a well in the center of the dry mix, then our the wet mix in.  Stir until combined and mixed.  Then knead with your hands for 2-3 minutes.  Let rest for a couple of minutes, up to 5 or so.

Mix a tsp or two of olive or sesame oil and a tsp or two of tamari, a small squirt of tomato paste, and a small squirt of agave nectar or maple syrup in a bowl and whisk together.

Now, form the gluten dough into a log shape.  Brush the tomato-paste mixture on all sides.
Then wrap in aluminum foil but not too tightly.  Make sure to twist the ends so liquid does not escape in the oven.

Bake in oven at 325 F for 90 minutes.  Flip over halfway through baking time to brown on both sides.
The gluten will expand a bit when baking.

After baking, carefully unwrap from foil, and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or using in a  recipe.  (For best results and texture, refrigerate overnight.) 

Monday, March 19, 2012

New meatless recipes from the Meatless Monday website - something for everybody!   Greek Frittata, Lentil Sumac Soup, Wilted Spinach Salad, and Roasted Potatoes with Orange Couscous. 


Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Minutes of our meeting Sunday February 19, 2012

Countryside Animal Friends (local chapter of the UU Animal Ministry)
MINUTES for Sunday, February 19, 2012

Four people attended, including myself, Belinda Robinson.  

We discussed:

I. The Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend through tomorrow, Feb. 20. For more details and how to participate, see their website: www.birdsource.org/gbbc/

II.Belinda announced the CAF blog – www.countrysideanimalfriends.blogspot.com
and the CAF Facebook page – www.facebook.com/CountrysideAnimalFriends

The blog and FB page will be used to share information with the group, Countryside's congregation, and the community. We will share info about our own events, Green Sanctuary events, other local events involving animal welfare issues. These will include educational events, protests, petitions to sign, etc.
Please check the blog and FB page regularly – as well as the Sunday newsletter and Focus – to learn about ongoing events and meetings for Countryside Animal Friends.
  1. Belinda is seeking someone to co-coordinate CAF. Please let her know if you're interested!!

A. Suburban Vegetarian Meetup group will have a Vegan Bake Sale at Atherton Hall on March 25, 2012, during both coffee hours. 
 Half of the proceeds will go to CAF, as we are sponsoring the sale.

B. The four of us in attendance discussed where the proceeds should be donated. We all agreed that $100.00 should go toward paying CAF's annual dues to the UU Animal Ministry, so we do not have to ask CCUU for the money. We decided to have a poll/vote on where the rest of the money – after paying the dues – should go. The nominees we came up with are: NAVS (National Anti-Vivisection Society); http://www.navs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index
or Young at Heart, an organization in Palatine that aids senior dogs and cats in being placed in homes. http://yahpetrescue.com/

I will take a poll on these two options also on the Facebook Page; as well as on the blog. Please give your input!!! I would like to decide by Tuesday, as Kathy Jones needs this info to advertise the sale on the Worldwide Vegan Bake sale website.

  1. Earth Day Event, April 22
    This is two months away, but we will focus on the Meatless Monday campaign for our info table on Earth Day at CCUU. We will hand out brochures for Meatless Monday, brochures about CAF and UUAM; and coupons for popular meatless “convenience” foods. We also plan to hand out a couple of samples of these convenience foods but this is still in the planning stage... We will also have a few recipe cards for simple meatless recipes...

Belinda's reasons for focusing on Meatless Monday this year are for two reasons -
  1. M.M. Encourages meat reduction in the diet, thereby decreasing the need for CAFOs and factory farming situations, where farm animals are often abused and neglected.
  2. M.M. also has positive environmental consequences – raising both pastured animals and animals on CAFOs can have devastating effects on the soil and water.
  3. The UUA gave an official statement on Ethical Eating this year, and I (Belinda) feel that M.M campaign fits in nicely with both animal welfare issues AND the Ethical Eating statement. (The statement is found on the UUA pagehttp://www.uua.org/statements/statements/185320.shtml
    , and on the UUAM page – www.uuam.org)

  1. Finally, it was discussed how we, CAF, wish to be perceived by the congregation. Two of us felt that there may be too much emphasis on food and diet and vegetarianism – two of us did not even realize this was an issue. :). However, after discussing it, all four of us agreed that it may be detrimental to our causes and efforts as an “Animal Ministry” group to “turn off” those who are not vegetarian – and don't necessarily plan to be.

So, now this personal note, if I may -

When the group was started by Erv Toth and myself, it was NOT intended to be a group solely for vegetarians. We had always envisoned the group exploring a wide range of animals and their issues – farm animals, domestic companion animals, wildlife, captive animals in zoos and exhibits, etc.

Erv has stepped down since then as co-coordinator for the group, but I would like to continue in that spirit of welcoming ANYONE and EVERYONE interested in helping animals, in whatever way they can bring.

**So, for the record – Countryside Animal Friends is NOT a group solely for vegetarians. Although there are, in fact, many veg*ns in the group, there are also omnivores in the group, and our choices – as long as they are thoughtful and based on compassion – should be respected.

That being said, my one request is that the food at the metings be vegetarian, out of respect for the veg*ns in the group. (We also have a couple of folks who are allergic to gluten, if you're thinking of bringing food to a future meeting.)

CAF will, however, as long as I am coordinator, recognize that there are producers of animal products that coincide with the ethics and beliefs of omnivores who want to be compassionate consumers. As a vegetarian, I, for one, respect these choices, and hope that the other veg*ns in the group can too. Vice versa, I hope that the omnivores in the group recognize and respect that some of us wish to refrain from animal products altogether.

Finally, I agree that focusing on one issue – the plight of farm animals – while it's timely and important, may be short and narrow-sighted; and we should, and WILL, focus on other issues, equally important, such as Wildlife Conservation, Homelessness and Overpopulation of Companion Animals, and Captive Animals in zoos and exhibits.

(We will still do Meatless Monday for the Earth Day table though, for the reasons stated above. Also, I think MM is a place where we can all come together, no matter what our diet..)
I would like to do a different topic each year for Earth Day, if need be. If you have an idea for next year, let me know!! It should tie in with environmental concerns, per Earth Day.)

If you've read this all the way through, thank you!! And I hope to meet more of you in the future!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Great Backyard Bird Count, February 17 - 20, 2012

Saturday, February 17, will kick off the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, "an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.".

It is sponsored in part by the Cornell Ornithology Lab and the National Audubon Society.  This year will mark the 15th year of the event.

There is an event scheduled tomorrow at Crabtree Nature Center, but it is currently full.
To participate at home, however, simply click on the link above for detailed information about keeping count of different species of birds in your backyard for as little as 15 minutes - or for as long as you like from February 17 though February 20.  The results of your count need to be submitted to The Great Backyard Birdcount's website by March 5, 2012.

The data from all submissions will help scientists and conservationists learn where certain bird species are, throughout the country. 

Happy Bird Watching - and counting!!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feral Cats and TNR..

This is an interesting - and personable, if you will - blog about feral cats in the Chicago area, and the TNR (Trap, Neuter Release) program implemented by some agencies and individuals. 

Cats in My Yard

Monday, January 30, 2012

Baking without Eggs or Dairy

Countryside Animal Friends is hosting a Vegan Bake Sale on March 25, 2012, at Countryside Church in Palatine IL. 
If you'd like to bake something for the sale - or simply are curious about vegan baking, and would like to try some recipes - I really like this site, VeganBaking.net.

Not only are there lots of yummy-sounding recipes for cookies, cakes, brownies, bars, breads, muffins, and more - but also helpful tips and tricks if you're new to vegan baking. 

Check it out - and if you get really good at vegan baking - bring something out to the sale on March 25!  Contact Belinda Robinson at Countryside Church in Palatine; or Kathy Jones through Suburban Chicago Vegetarian Meetup in Palatine, which is coordinating the sale for us. 

National Wildlife Federation Donation Event

If you donate at least $30 to National Wildlife Federation, they'll send you a cute mini-backpack.

And the money goes toward a great cause.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Take Action to Save Wolves in Northern Idaho

Please consider taking action to spare the wolves in Idaho's Lolo National Forest (public lands paid for by taxpayers like you and I) from being shot from overhead aircraft.

Click on the link below; then click "Take Action" to sign this very timely petition.


I recommend you read through the rest of the website as well, for timely information about the status of wolves on our public lands in the Western states, and throughout the U.S.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Morningstar Farms joins the Meatless Monday Movement!

(Okay, so that five times really fast...) :)

This yummy-looking chili-mac skillet is featured for today's recipe.


Morningstar Farms has joined the Meatless Monday movement!  You can find MF products in most mainstream groceries, in the freezer aisle.
Check out their page (link below) to enter a weekly drawing fro freebies, and for more easy, convenient meatless recipes.


Monday, January 16, 2012

DECIDEDLY VEGAN Recipes today...

Normally, I try to post "omnivore-friendly" recipes on this blog and our FB page for Meatless Monday. Today's recipes, however, are decidedly vegan. Some may find them "weird" - but believe me, if you gather the ingredients, follow the recipe exactly, you will NOT be disappointed. Because of the expense of cashews and agar flakes, I usually make the nut cheeses only for holiday gatherings or potlucks where I know there will be other vegans, who I know will appreciate them - although I've received compliments from omnivores on these, too! The "sausages" are a nice holiday/potluck appetizer as well. Next week, I'll post more "omni-friendly" recipes again, but for this week - come over and take a walk on the vegan side of the street - we have savory sausages and creamy nut cheese!!!

Here are the recipes: Cashew Nut Cheese and Apple-Sage Sausage/ Pumpkin Sausage
Cashew Nut Cheese (from 500 VEGAN RECIPES by JoniMarie Newman and Celine Steen)

Nonstick cooking spray
1 oz, Agar flakes or powder (find at Whole Foods or any Health Food Store, such as Fruitful Yield, etc.)
3 cups water
2 cups RAW unsalted cashews (can use cashew pieces) finely ground into a powder in food processor or chopper
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil, or sesame oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (again, find at Whole Foods or HFS)
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
OPTIONAL ADD-INS: Pepper-Jack Cheese - add 1/4 cup jalapeno slices and 1/4 cup diced roasted red pepper
Olive Cheese - add 1/2 cup WHOLE green pimento-stuffed olives

Lightly spray a loaf pan (or other deep rectangular container) with cooking spray. Place agar in the water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, whisking all the while. Reduce heat to low; add cashew powder, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, oil, salt, onion and garlic powder. Whisk until creamy and smooth. (If adding olives or peppers, etc. do so now.) Turn off heat. Quickly pour into the loaf pan and refrigerate until firm and set (usually 2-3 hours). Slice to serve. This can also be grated on top of pizza/enchilads, etc. and will "melt" in the oven.

PUMPKIN FAUXSAGE (from 500 VEGAN RECIPES by Joni-Marie Newman and Celine Steen)
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour (I use Arrowhead Mills brand, I think it works the best)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. paprika       2 tsp. dried sage         1 tsp. dried oregano    
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper, or black        1 tsp. onion powder                      1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup                      3/4 cup vegetable broth                       1/4 cup pumpkin puree 2 Tbsp. walnut or canola oil

Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, mix the wheat gluten, yeast flakes, sage, paprika, oregano, pepper. In a separate medium bowl, mix the broth, syrup, pumpkin, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir with a wooden spoon at first, then use your hands to mix completely. Knead for a couple of minutes with your hands. (Little strings of protein will begin to form.) Let rest for around 5 minutes. Roll into a log on a clean dry counter or board. Wrap in foil, twisting the nds closed (tight but NOT too tight!) Bake for 90 minutes, Flip sausage over halfway through baking. When done, carefully remove the foil and let cool to room temp. For best results, refrigerate and chill for a few hours or overnight. Slice thinly to serve.


1 cup vital wheat gluten flour              1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes              1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. dried ground sage                 1 tsp. onion powder                          1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cinnamon                       2 Tbsp. canola or walnut oil              1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup 1/2 cup apple juice                       4 oz. unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, mix together wheat gluten, yeast flakes, salt, sage, onion powder, nutmeg and cinnamon. Ina medium bowl, whisk together the oil, applesauce, juice, and syrup. Pour wet ingredients into the dry. Mix with a spoon at first, then use your hands to incorporate completely. Knead for a couple of minutes. Let rest for around 5 minutes. Roll into a log. Wrap in foil, twisting the ends closed. Bake for 90 minutes. Flip over halfway through baking time. When done baking, carefully remove the foil and let cool to room temp. For best results, refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Slice thinly on crackers/bread, or alone, to serve. Enjoy!!