The Friday Feedback Forum

August 8th, 2009 - filed under: Furthermore » Feedback

Oi there lovelies, and Happy Friday! It’s time for the wonderful weekend again, and that means it’s time for comments, critiques, thoughts, support, and suggestions.

What’s been on your brain of late? Which section of the site would you like to see worked on? (the food? the fashion? the farm?) What is it that YOU’RE interested in?

Remember this webspace is here to build a community! So every weekend the Feedback Forum remains at the top of the page, so that you can check back in and have your say whenever you feel like it. If you’ve got an idea or a question or you just want to introduce yourself and say ‘Oi!’, come back here to do it!

And as always, have a fabulous next few days!


  • amanda

    Hi Sayward, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now. I’m really impressed w/everything you do and how much time you’ve devoted to this. I really appreciate all of the information!

    Since it’s time for Friday Feedback, there is something I’d really like to see featured. I am really interested in vitamins/supplements but don’t really know where to start. So, really any suggestions or information you could share would be awesome.

    Thank you!


  • Jenny B.

    Hey Sayward,
    I love all the eco-fun crafty projects you put up! I swear you have one of the best blogs out their on this topic! You need to get whole foods on board..etc.. to advertise:)

  • Julie

    I am having trouble coalescing these things into anything resembling a cohesive comment so here’s my mind’s contents in list form:

    1) When you first made the transition, did you find yourself eating obscene portions? This week, I thought nothing of eating a cereal bowl full of almonds and blueberries for breakfast and then a salad made from an entire head of lettuce for lunch! I feel great but this is crazy.

    2) Just because I need to vent: Why why why do people think that the following statement makes any kind of sense? “I know you don’t eat meat, so we will go somewhere that serves fish for you” (HUH?) or the best/dumbest thing I’ve heard all week “If you want your daughter to be vegan, why do you breastfeed her? Breastmilk is a dairy product”

    3) Can you write a book that will help me explain to my daughter our ethical/health reasons for choosing a vegetarian/vegan diet? No MEAT IZ MURDER!!!! manifestos that will frighten her into thinking that her omnivore friends and family members are psychotic and dangerous, but something that respects her intelligence more than “Animals are friends, not food!”? Thanks!

    4) Hope you’re doing and feeling well!

  • Dylan

    Backwards: I wasn’t going to say anything because I am happy to keep coming to your site and seeing what cool thing you are up to, and then thought the previous three posts really show how you are building community. So I thought I’d just come on board to say just that: community is happening! Yay!

    Unfortunately, for the cause of brevity, I had another thought: the earlier comment about Whole Foods brought up an idea I had earlier but thought better of. Now it seems to be unwilling to let go so I thought I’d run it by you: you are awesome at bringing seemingly idealistic principles into practical reality, but many of the underlying philosophical/political/spiritual premises often get passed over. For instance Julie asks “why wouldn’t a vegan mother breastfeed?”. The answer to this (or why I cringe at getting Whole Foods to get involved) is beyond the scope and format of your site.

    So what if you created a different section, like you have for ‘food’, ‘farm’, ‘fashion’, etc. where a new thread could be started for people like me who want to discuss/vent/debate/ expound upon these more cerebral topics without taking up the space and energy of your main topic of the day and without spewing negativity on your proactive pragmatism?

    Anyone diving into these topics could be referred to that section, and anyone asking these kind of questions could go there to discuss and learn (without you having to write a book!).You also could peruse the discussions at your convenience and learn about the bigger conversations in the world that surround your lifestyle, maybe even gaining some insight yourself.

    Just an idea, onwards!

  • Julie

    But, but…I actually want Say to write a book. She’s a good writer and I can’t very well read my daughter a forum posting while putting her to bed. ;)

    Actually, I came back because I have to admit something shameful. I just used the last of a jar of roasted corn salsa that I bought YESTERDAY. As I was planning how I would go to the store, buy a new jar and stash the evidence in the dumpster outside so the hubz wouldn’t know what a glutton I am, I caught hold of myself and went WTF am I doing??? Seriously. Did anyone have this experience when they first transitioned to a vegan lifestyle? Or is it just that the food is so good that I cannot stop?

  • Dylan

    Sorry, Julie, didn’t mean to dis you on the book request. I think it’s a neat request and Sayward might actually want to do something like that. I was just using it as a way to make the point that she may not want to or find it possible to address everything that comes up as relevant to her blog and that, in the spirit of community, some of the peripheral stuff that is nonetheless fundamental to the cause could be addressed by those of us that like to get into it that way, without distracting from her main focus.

    As far as vegan gluttony goes, my experience, which is limited to one year in my youth, was not so much. We were poor farmer’s on food stamps, so we lived on our own veggies, with lots of whole grains (soybeans and brown rice mostly)and sesame seeds, tofu and I believe nutritional yeast (not sure if that’s technically true vegan, but I think we did) and shoyu.

    As wholesome and nutritional as that was, we couldn’t afford pre-made, store bought corn salsa so our meals were somewhat boring over time and precluded major cravings,. Also even though I probably consumed 3-4,000 calories a day, I was obviously (at 6 ft. and a stable 150 lbs) burning that much working the farm from sunup to sundown, so I would say I had a healthy appetite but gluttony was not something I experienced. My partner (business and otherwise) was the reason I was being vegan, but after she became pregnant, she broke her vegan fast by eating a whole quart of Haagen daz ice cream in one sitting (in the store’s parking lot). That was gluttony! So maybe it’s the relative luxury of store bought treats that is the real cause?

  • akeeyu

    I like the Monday Missions, but I’d also like to see little bits about “Well, if you can’t do X, try this TINY thing, take this seemingly insignificant micro-step,” because I think a lot of people get into this freak out overload “OMG, I can’t fix everything so I’m just not going to do/change/fix ANYTHING!” mode, and just freeze up.

    For laundry: Can’t hang a clothesline? Okay, how about this: Run your dryer at night. It doesn’t sound like much, but power plants experience the greatest strain during the day because of large businesses, and when the load goes up, the plants have to ramp up production or get bigger. If you use electricity at off-peak times, it doesn’t increase the load. Some power companies offer discounted rates during non-business hours, but even if they don’t, it’s a very small way of saying “Hey now, don’t make that power plant bigger on MY account, okay?” and it’s something that is very do-able for a lot of people.

    Don’t want to switch your shampoo to something more environmentally spiffy? Cut it 10% with water–it’ll last longer (less chemicals, less packaging, less waste) and you’ll never notice the difference.

    Love your laundry detergent? Use half as much and throw in a little baking soda. Your clothes will get just as clean. Really.

    It’s tiny, it’s simple, and hey, if people do a couple of tiny little things, they might feel better and be more likely to take another miniscule little step.

    Before you know it, we’ve got ‘em all hippied up and composting! Come to the dark side! We have worm farms.

  • Amycat

    Hey girl! I only just found your blog last night through Stumbleupon, but I’m SO addicted already! You are just outrageously inspiring! I live a fairly average lifestyle, omnivorous and addicted to cheese, but you have shown me an inspiring way to help the earth through my own decisions. I’m not sure if I could ever go vegan due to my unfortunate addiction, but vegetarianism has always interested me.

    Just a random question? If you owned your own chickens, and you were a vegan, would it be ethical to eat their eggs? Seeing as you would just have to throw them out anyway? And pet hens are often loved pets so there is hardly anything to do with cruelty in owning them. Because there are few things more pleasurable then a fresh egg!
    Does it work like that or is it a strict rule?

    <3 Amycat

  • Sayward

    Wow guys, how wonderful to return from a weekend away to find so many amazing and thoughtful comments. You guys are awesome – thank you!!!

    @ Amanda – I think I’m going to write a whole article about this, because it’s such an important topic, but here’s a very short answer:

    Ideally, we wouldn’t need to take supplements because we would be getting everything we need from our food. But in reality, a number of factors (poor soil quality makes nutrient-poor food, hybridized modified monocrop agriculture makes nutrient-poor food, trying to eat locally and seasonally can limit your access to variety, not to mention the fact that it’s nearly impossible to get all the nutrients you need, while keeping the calories low enough to be realistic – you simply can’t eat that much!) make this pretty much impossible. So I try to get as much as I can from my food, and supplement where I feel it’s more necessary.

    I think at the bare minimum, everybody, no matter their diet/lifestyle/habits, should be taking a multivitamin that includes the B complex, calcium, and vitamins C, E , and A. B12 and D are a plus, as well as zinc and magnesium.
    On top of that, I recommend a sublingual B12 (it’s meant to be taken daily but you can do it less, once or twice a week). B12 is not just a veg*n issue – many, many omnivores (some studies claim up to 40%) suffer from B12 deficiency.
    I also think a vitamin D supplement can be very beneficial (or at least look for a multivitamin that includes D – remember if you’re veg*n it must be D2, as D3 comes from animals). Your body synthesizes D from sunlight, but often not enough – especially people living further from the equator. Recent research is uncovering all sorts of information about the importance of D in brain development, depression, and 100s of biochemical metabolic processes.
    Finally, you can get your omegas from walnuts and flax seeds, but if you want to play it safe, grab an Omega 3 supplement. You can get DHA (the essential fatty acid thought to only occur in fish – hence the fish oil trend) from miroalgae – the same place the fish get it, duh! =) Veg*n DHA (as microalgae) is available at many health food stores, and online.

    So that’s the basics. Other people may need additional support, like iron or calcium, depending on your bodies needs. But you’ve totally inspired me – I’m definitely going to write an article on this!

    @ Jenny B. – Thanks so much lady! I just wish I could do this full time. That’s the dream I’m shooting for!

    @ Julie – 1) We already touched on this a bit, but for anyone else who may be interested: vegans eat more! Plant matter is packed full of nutrients but lacking in calories (as a very generalized rule), so the actual quantity of what you eat (NOT calories, but mass), will increase when you switch to a plant based diet. It can be alarming to feel like you’re ‘pigging out’, but just listen to your body. And if you are hungry, please eat!

    2) Lady, don’t even get me started! =)

    3) I shall add it to my ever-increasing list of ‘books I plan to write’, haha. Maybe we could collaborate? Also have to mention, it may be a bit more intense than you’re looking for, but there is a children’s book called ‘That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals’ by Ruby Roth. It’s not graphically explicit but it certainly doesn’t super sugar coat anything. Most importantly, the illustrations are AMAZING. I’d buy it for myself just for the art. =) Check it out – That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things

    4) Ditto!

    @ Dylan – Thanks for the words of support. I agree, it is so wonderful (and inspiring) to watch this little community grow.

    On that note, and in relation to the rest of your comment, we have a lot of things in the works for the future – and growth – of Bonzai Aphrodite. Much of it is still in the brainstorming/planning phase, but rest assured that the grand plan will definitely include a user-controlled discussion area. ‘the forum’, to follow suit. =)

    I have so many ideas and so many plans, it’s just a matter of finding the time and resources to make it all happen!

    ps – nutritional yeast is most definitely vegan! I’d even say it’s essential. ;)

    @ Akeeyu – That’s a really, really good idea. I do try to offer small simple solutions with the Itty Bitty Bonzai, but I can see how including these ideas into all of my posts could be very helpful. I’ll try to keep that in mind. Thanks!

    @ Amycat – Thank you! I’m so glad to hear you’ve found the site inspiring – that is the greatest compliment I can receive. =D

    As for the chickens/eggs issue, it’s a difficult question to answer. I mean, if you had asked ‘Is it vegan?”, then the easy answer is ‘no, it is definitely not vegan.’ But since you asked ‘Is it ethical’, that is a much more subjective answer.

    When I first went veg*n I eliminated all animal products and by-products, *except* my chickens eggs, specifically for the reasons you cited. My hens do not sit on their eggs, they seem to abandon them, and so it seemed wasteful to me not to eat something that would otherwise go bad. However, I was always very careful not to call myself a vegan – always veg*n (with the star), because I believe words are powerful and important.

    Nowadays I no longer eat my chicken’s eggs, and I am a true vegan. I discovered that the chickens themselves adore their eggs – it’s seriously their favorite thing ever. So I figure, the poor things have been overbred and manipulated to produce an egg a day, way more than their little bodies were ever meant to do. It’s so hard on them physically. So I give them their protein back, by feeding them their eggs. It’s theirs anyway, you know?

    The eggs also make great dog food, to supplement a plant-based doggie diet. They’re also fabulous garden additives, in compost or straight into the bed (the shells are full of calcium my tomatoes love).

    I guess my point is, I’ve found a solution that works for my ethics. But ethics are deeply personal, and others may feel differently. I think it’s up to each of us to educate ourselves and then take the time to ask ourselves the tough questions, and be honest in our answers. Once we’ve done that, we can really ‘live our own truth’, which is the greatest aspiration.

    Just my thoughts, hope they help. =)

  • Amycat

    Wow man very well said! I can’t fault your actions and ethics. You’re like the perfect human xD Definitely someone for me to look up to.

    I’ve been thinking so much about the pointlessness of eating animals since I found your blog. I mean it’s not exactly a dietary thing, I only eat it because I like the taste, and really, that’s selfish. I’ve even been having horrible dreams about animal cruelty as well, so that’s probably another sign of my conscience rearing it’s head!

    Well I’ve shown my boyfriend and a good friend your site, and needless to say, they’re obsessed as well now, so the word is indeed spreading!

    Also, how exactly do you pronounce the word veg*n with a star? It’s quite perplexing!

    Thanks again

    <3 Amycat.

  • JackP

    Have you ever experimented with making your own Butter/margerine? I’ve been checking about and found one or 2 recipes online that i’ll try out this friday but I was wondering if you had any insight (if you use it at all).

  • Sara


    I’ve been lurking recently and occasionally commenting, so I just wanted to say that I love the site! Unfortunately I’m not yet in university and I’m still living with my parents and my grandmother… which means that they insist on certain things that I’d like to change about the house I live in but cant’t. But so far I’m keeping a book with little tips and tricks to bring with me for my move. I’m so excited to try things out!

    So here’s my question! I am part of my high school’s green team (called Earthlinks) and I really want to start running little classes with earth friendly projects, like cooking according to SOLE for example (Seasonal, Organic, Local and Ethical) or composting. I was wondering if it was alright if I used some of your projects or recipes and taught them back? Of course if people are interested in them I’ll direct them here.

    Thanks for your consideration!

  • Sayward

    @ Amycat – Again, thank you so much for your supportive comments. I’m glad you’re beginning to think about food systems and the morality involved. But I hope you don’t have too many nightmares! It can be really difficult when you first begin exploring animal rights issues. I remember when I first went veg*n, I spent a long, long few months just reading and weeping and learning and weeping and watching documentaries and weeping. I think it’s an important connection to make, but man!, tapping into that empathy can be so painful.

    As far as the word ‘veg*n’, that one only really works in the written form. It’s a sort of catch-all word to mean ‘vegetarians, vegans, and all the grey areas in between’. When I was eating my chickens eggs, I would use different terms depending on my situation. Like if I were at an omni restaurant, I would tell the waiter “I’m vegan”, because as far as they’re concerned, I was (they weren’t possibly serving my own chicken’s eggs). But if I were amongst other vegans, I would be careful to say something like “I’m a strict vegetarian”, which means a person who is very close to vegan but not quite – although it differs from person to person. Like they may eat totally vegan but still buy/wear leather and wool, or they may live entirely vegan except eat meat in religious contexts, or maybe like me, they just make exceptions for their own eggs, or their neighbors raw goats milk, or farmers market honey, or whatever. It’s sort of complicated, and personally I feel a lot more settled now that I can just say “I’m a VEGAN” no matter what. =)

    @ JackP – No, I haven’t, and that had never even occurred to me, and now I MUST do it! Ha! Thank you!!

    @ Sara – That sounds so awesome, way to get out there and get involved! I would be honored if you used my recipes or ideas. Please, go for it! I guess if you reprint anything verbatim, just credit me, but otherwise I don’t have any problems. I’m all about spreading the love! =D

  • Jackie

    I love akeeyu’s idea…sorta like yoga principles. ..modifications to do until you are flexible enough to do the harder stuff!

  • Sayward

    @ Jackie – Yes, I totally agree. I’m definitely thinking that way moving forward. =)