Today’s William Shatner’s birthday, so I wanted to dust this one off to celebrate. It’s from when I still ate eggs (yuck).

Sorry, but it doesn’t matter which version of Star Trek you like or don’t like – William Shatner will always be THE starship captain who puts his finger in the ground and makes the whole galaxy turn ’round. “Overacting”? – please! The man lives on a strict diet of scenery and has the mutant power to make you laugh AND cry between commercial breaks. He doesn’t even need words – he can do it with just the might of his Shatphysique. Observe this clip from the classic episode “Arena”, otherwise known as “How to Make Fake Rocks Look Heavy.” To his credit, that last boulder may be papier mache, but it still woulda hurt and he barely dodges it.

Our apologies to the vegans this morning. But if Bill had his way, we’d be looking at a plate of bacon, ham, steak, more bacon, and 80 pieces of sausage. Instead, we slipped in some Morningstar maple flavored veggie sausage.

My “staff” pulled a Howard Hughes, so PWMF has been on indefinite hiatus. I figured it was time to come out of semi-reclusion after being nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by Crash Test Vegetarian. It’s a peer recognition award, and Izzy delivered particularly high praise, saying that this is a site her husband reads, too. Thank you, Izzy, truly – I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that most bloggers thrive on recognition, especially by other bloggers.
Here’s the lowdown on how the award works – Liebster is German and translates into English as “dearest” or ”favorite”. A Liebster Blog Award is given to talented bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, in a way the award not only recognizes these bloggers as amazingly gifted in their own right but also as your very own personal favorites.

How to participate:
-Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
-Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
-Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
-Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (Some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
-Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

I spend less & less of my own time online, ’cause my job requires me to be on there enough as it is. So the few sites that I follow are big ones. But here are 3 of my favs that I think fall under the “200 followers or less” rule.

A Life Vegetarian – ALV is everything I’d want my blog to be if I didn’t collect toys. Sarah’s a machine when it comes to posting new material, so there’s always something interesting going on. Her writing style makes even this dude read a post about cosmetics. I appreciate that she finds a wide range of ways to look at animal-friendly topics outside of the kitchen.

Cadry’s Kitchen – This site has a variety of fun and easy recipes. I love the clean, colorful photos. But what made it stand out to me initially is that Cadry often brings it all back to her compassion for animals. It’s loving and playful, never preachy. Her recent video about smoothies with Gulp the claymation dinosaur was too charming for words – check it out!

Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk – Okay, first off, great name (The Cramps, yeah)! Second, how can a vegan who collects action figures not love a vegan site that discusses horror films?! (Really good horror films, too.) Katie first caught my eye during Vegan MoFo last October when she exceeded my powers of stretching and found a way to tie in horror movies to her fav recipes. Bravo. It’s not always about food & movies, but the variety is part of the appeal.

And just in case you thought I was gonna pass up an opportunity to show off some toys with food…

This tauntaun was happy to accept some falafel in lieu of the actual award. Tauntauns love falafel.

Even I, a toy collector, was surprised by what this infographic indicates are Americans’ priorities. And yes, I found a way to tie this to food. See what you think of the numbers and meet me below for further thoughts.


Okay, first of all, I never would’ve thought that America spent more on toys than on movies and music combined. Second, my collection is pretty testosterone heavy and I count on Mattel for their line of DC Comics superhero action figures. Toys directed at girls are well off my radar so I was surprised to see that their Barbie dolls & gear make up over half their sales. I’d certainly never heard of Rapunzel Barbie who made the list of Top 10 Bestselling Toys in several countries.

Boys’ toys didn’t totally get left in the lurch, though. My purchases of Hasbro’s Marvel superhero action figures, along with their lines of Transformers and GI Joe, made up for 1/3 of the sales for the second biggest toy company. Hasbro is also lucky enough to have the Star Wars license, the bestselling boy’s toy license 3 years in a row! People who only know Star Wars from the movie theater should take note: the merchandise goliath that started way back in 1977 is still raking in the dough. But three times more money from toys than the box office? Wow.

Since this site is at least half about food, the serious point to be made is that Americans saved money in 2010 by spending .5% less on food but thought it was okay to spend 2% more on toys. Hey, I’ll go a long way to insure I don’t have to pass up Mattel’s 89th version of Batman, but not at the expense of a healthy (and compassionate) diet. It’s not like there’s anything shocking here, except that 2010 was the low point in the “great recession.” C’mon, it’s not like you can eat that new Darth Vader figure is it? Well, if I had to, at least it’s vegan.

Thanks to Jason over at

Normally, I resist the temptation to join the latest internet meme. But I’m not made of stone. If you can think of any, I’d love to see ’em in the comments.

“Please sign my petition for the new Baron Zemo figure to be made with a fake fur collar.”

“I can’t believe the convention center doesn’t have a smoothie stand inside it!”

“These organic almonds have to soak for five hours. That’s just enough time to dust my display shelves.”

“Yes, I’ll chip in for a pizza delivery during the Twilight Zone marathon, but I want my own cheese-less pizza. Your cheese got on my half last year.”

“I’ll trade you this mint vinyl cape Jawa for your gently used Vitamix Turboblend 5000.”

“Let’s get lunch at the Whole Foods next to the Toys R Us.”

“I’m gonna be late for my Dr Who cosplay weekend if I can’t find any vegan jelly babies!”

“Don’t be mad that I just spent 7 hours on eBay, honey. I use GoodSearch so that every time I look up vintage Mego dolls, it donates money to the local farm animal sanctuary.”

“Do you think that Admiral Ackbar is allergic to shellfish?”

“I’m on the fence about whether or not to add Mr Spock to my collection; it’s well-known that Vulcans are vegetarians, but there’s no proof that they’re vegan.”

Today’s guest post is by Loki, the Norse god of lies.

Well, well, well – I doubt that even Odin could have foreseen the day when the mischief of Loki would be shamed by the scope of mortal trickery. Truly, people of Midgard, thou hast taught me the true meaning of deceit and deception. I have witnessed the ways in which you convince yourselves that meat & dairy foodstuffs do not originate from soulful creatures – creatures that like you have two eyes and a heart. These illusions you choose to believe are more powerful than any spell I could ever hope to weave.
Observe: an amusing “viral video” appeared upon your “worldwide web” this past week. It was a lark, a trifle – but it served to illustrate the heights to which you have fooled yourselves about the origin of foods you consume. Sadly, my Asgardian powers do not include the ability to translate Portuguese, but you’ll get the gist of it.

Verily, my knee glows red from the vigorous slapping that video segment did bring about. It begs the question, did any of the shoppers then go on to eat any pork products later that day? That week, that month? What is the expiration date for such sudden indignation?
But lo, the online world had another lesson for me – this time in regards to bovine milk. It appears that the California Milk Processor Board would have you believe that drinking almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk is akin to communing with Surtur. If this musing is the worst they can conjure up about alternative milks, then their argument is surely desperate.
Got production values?

By the gaze of Heimdall, don’t make me shake my beverage container one more time! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!! You people of Earth really are most bewildering. I must learn how it is that you can remember such trivia to concern yourselves with, while at the same time you are able to unknow the loss of life that fills a T.G.I.Friday’s menu. With that power, I could conquer Thor himself!

We weren’t about to let PWMF’s first full year go by without a “Best of” round-up! (Even if it is *ahem* a week late.) My staff got together and elected the top 5 action figures who joined our ranks in 2011. And they picked the best vegan food – that’s “food”, singular.
Here they are, in no particular order – Hey! You Jawas in the back – no crying! There are no small parts, only small action figures.

• Black Widow – This Russian hussy made the cut for a buncha reasons. No, not those. There’s only been one BW made in this scale before, and she was hampered by bad articulation and a hairdo that looked like, well, a spider’s nest. We liked that this version has a unique, feminine face without going all Barbie. Hasbro could’ve gotten away with a simple black paint job for her jumpsuit, but they gave it a metallic finish for that extra oomf. Hmmm, what else? Oh yeah, she’s a she! You non-action figure collectors have no idea how hard it is to get companies to make women characters for toy lines that are traditionally aimed at boys. When they are produced, it’s in small quantities and with poor design.
Now before you accuse us of choosing winners based on their bust size, be assured that we brought some beefcake, too –

• Catman – Lame name, totally bad-ass character. This furball came on the scene as a D-list Batman villain. Then in 2005, he was re-invented as a member of the supervillain team, the Secret Six. A bad guy with a heart of gold and a penchant for protecting endangered animals, he was a shoe-in for our best of. We just never thought an action figure of him would actually get made. Mattel captured his costume purrrfectly, but the physique is a little too super-human. This guy has no super powers. Unless you count being awesome.

• Jabba the Hut – We’ve lost count of how many versions of everybody’s favorite Huttese gangster have been produced. But when this version showed up, we knew they broke the mold. (literally – ba-dumDUM!) This naughty alien’s got it where it counts: great paint apps, proper scale with other Star Wars figures, just enough articulation to find his way around a length of chain, and talk about attention to detail! He comes with pillows, people. Pillows! This guy really knows how to show a slave girl a good time.

• Justice Society 3 pack – We’re huge fans of the toy line based on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. The simple, stream-lined look of the show really lends itself to three-dimensional design. So it was that much more of a nerdgasm to get 3 classic DC superheroes from the Golden Age of comics in JLU style. The original Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Flash have never shown up on the cartoon, but Mattel was smart enough to imagine them as they would have appeared and serve ’em up as an exclusive online release.

• Leela – Dr Who fans will remember 2011 as the year we finally got an action figure of a companion from Tom Baker’s era in the 70s. Leela is certainly one of our all-time favorite companions from the show, and the episodes that featured her were some of the very best stories. Like Black Widow, Leela scores points for being a female sculpt that’s true to the character. The British toy company, Character Options, isn’t known for amazing articulation, but Leela does okay. This is one savage we’re happy to have on staff – just watch out for any stray Janis thorns.

Well, that does it for the action figure selection. We’re sure you’re all wondering what the big surprise is for the best vegan food of 2011. We can’t keep it a secret any longer – ladies and gentlemen, for the 39th year in a row, the winner and still champion – call it a fruit, call it a vegetable, it still makes a sauce that’s boss – the bottle that you love to squeeze – KETCHUP!!

We’re not shy about it, we put ketchup on our ketchup. Always vegan, always will be. And just when you thought they couldn’t reinvent the wheel, here comes organic ketchup. Whether it’s Heinz or *ahem* something else, we’re thrilled to find the organic styles tend to be thicker and less sugary. Tomato, tomato – there’s always tomato. Getchyer stinkin’ french fries outta my ketchup – don’t call it catsup! – and the sun’ll come out tomato.

I decided to break one of my rules on PWMF. Y’see, there are countless sites that share images & stories from around the web. And I realized early on that if I wanted to be that kind of site – posting any online subjects that related to vegan food or action figures & superheroes – then I might as well not include any original material. But these paintings by Doug Bloodworth were too good to pass up! Besides, new year – new rules? We’ll see.
When Chris Durso over at Foodiggity told me about these photo realistic paintings, I was blown away. Plenty of artists have achieved über realistic results in their paintings. But to me, for obvious reasons, the subject matter here is captivating. As someone who went to school for painting, I’m particularly impressed with Bloodworth’s skill as well as his decision to simply paint something that must surely bring him pleasure all on its own, art or not.
The food in the images here is animal-friendly, natch’ (I just know that Spidey is enjoying some almond milk) – but if you want to see the rest, check out Bloodworth’s site Photorealism or The Uniblog.

I’ll warn you right up front that this year-in-review post is going to sound more than a little self-righteous, or at least self-centered. Heck, I managed to already do that in the title. ‘Sorry, it can’t be helped when discussing a moral decision. I’ll put down the action figures to talk about my experience in the first year of eating a vegan diet. And when I’m done, I’d like to hear from you, veggies and omnivores alike, about the reasons that you eat the things you’ve chosen to eat.

I’ve wrestled with how to answer when people ask, “Why’d you become a vegan?” Y’see, I only just changed my way of eating in 2011. So my take on it is still very fresh, as is the reaction from everyone around me. A quick insight into my personality: I’m a hardcore pragmatist with plenty of control issues and a creative bent – I went to school for painting and I manage a successful custom framing store. And now I try to be a writer. So my instinct, my very strong instinct, when someone would ask why I became a vegan was that there must be an answer I could give that would sum it up perfectly and influence them to become one too. One or two simple phrases that would squash all debate, I just had to figure them out. Argh! – what could the right combination of words possibly be?! I kept a few at the forefront of my mind to say to mystified in-laws and co-workers:

– “I can’t unknow what I’ve learned about the treatment of animals.”
– “There are plenty of other things to eat that don’t impact animals.”
– “I think that the suffering endured by factory-farmed animals is obscene.”

But hearing these phrases out loud sounded weak and fell short of the passion I was itching to share. “Passion” is the best way I can describe how I began to feel about my new diet. I’m an atheist, but I think I now understand how people of faith must feel when they want to share their beliefs with others and even convert them. Being a vegan means that I’ve done something not for myself, but for another living animal who can’t speak for or defend itself. I’ve found that I can have an effect outside of my own microcosmos. And at nearly 40 years old, that gave me a sense of fulfillment that nothing else had in my entire life. Who wouldn’t want to share that with other people?
Then, I had a real moment of clarity this Christmas. At the in-laws’ family dinner, my wife’s niece, Ashley, suddenly shouted across the table in front of the 8 of us, “Uncle Jake, why are you a vegan?” Ok, so I’m on the spot. Laurie and I are the only ones not eating turkey. I’m sitting next to her father who’s done his share of hunting. Here’s my big chance to make my point in the eyes of a child who asked an honest question. I had to speak fast before anyone could make a quip. “Because eating meat isn’t fair to the animals. They don’t get to live their normal lives.” She seemed to stop and think about that and there were no retorts or contradictions from the table. I thought, “Was it that easy? Did I just discover the answer that I can tell people in two short sentences?” Of course not. The question of how to live one’s life is infinitely complicated and completely different for each individual. No, the epiphany that I had in that moment, was how effortlessly I produced an answer for Ashley. I didn’t have time to calculate the statistics that I was going to argue or the talking points that I could volley at her. I spoke instinctively and naturally. The answer was already inside me. I didn’t have to contrive it, I merely had to move my mouth.

One of the most important years of my life is drawing to a close, and I think the moment at that dinner table was the icing on the dairy-free cake. I’ve completed the transition, no longer just acting like someone who is committed to being compassionate toward animals, but feeling and living like it. It’s not something that I have to work at anymore, or try to be. This is who I am.

Me with my “sponsor”, Beau, at Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary.

“Well, ho-ho-ho! Looky there, ladies – it appears that someone has hung some mistletoe. What say you to spreading some holiday cheer?”
“Sorry, fellas. You’re not our type. Maybe our friends can help you out.”

Here’s hoping that you got everything you wished for this holiday season. My staff of tiny plastic co-writers and I wish a merry-merry to you all!

You just got invited to a friend’s Christmas party and another friend’s Hanukkah party, but you’re pretty sure that no other vegans will be there. What do you do? No worries, just remember the advice that mom taught you: Don’t arrive empty-handed. If you contribute some food of your own to the meal, you’re covered! Laurie and I attended 2 parties in just the past week and these dishes proved that even vegans can get their yule on. In fact, bringing vegan treats to an otherwise omnivore celebration has got 4 upsides:
– You know that no matter what else is served, you’ll have something to eat.
– It’s a polite gesture to your host regardless of their diet.
And if they’re not vegan, they don’t have to figure out how to please you.
– You’ve got a great ice breaker when you meet new people at the party. Don’t know what to say to Tully, your friend’s girlfriend’s cousin’s hairdresser? Hey, who doesn’t like talking about food?
– And my favorite, what better way to lift the veil of mystery about what vegans eat?! A party lends itself to sharing of food and saying, “Try this!” when you shove a toothpick of delicious appetizer into someone’s mouth. Strangers become friends, and omnivores go home thinking about how good that strange food tasted.

The Christmas party at our friends’, Christina & Jason, was a formal affair, complete with some festive “libations.” We provided a Grasshopper pie, a classic minty pie from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe in Vegan Pie in the Sky. There wasn’t time to properly chill it (needs to be in the fridge overnight), but even tho’ it wasn’t that firm it still garnered some rave reviews. As good as that was (and anyone will tell you that I’m a dessert man), I couldn’t get enough of Laurie’s Pesto Pepperoni Roll-Ups. No, that’s not pillow talk – they’re appetizers with fake pepperoni, cheez, yellow peppers, olives, and most importantly, some homemade pesto. She put her own spin on ’em and instead of yer typical flour tortilla, used spinach ones. Ho, ho, HO – so good!

Carrie and Johan (remember the Swede?) offered their bartending services and turned out to be skilled drink-makers of many amazing concoctions. I can now say that I enjoy a “Dark & Stormy” – rum, lime, and ginger beer – as well as a “Between the Sheets” – rum, brandy, triple sec, and lemon juice. Remember kids, water just rusts yer pipes.
Two nights later, we headed back into Boston for a Hanukkah party at Sarah & Nate’s. It’s been several years in a row that we’ve enjoyed her Latke’s, but this is our first, real vegan Hanukkah, so she generously made us a dish that was egg-free and we provided the Tofutti sour cream. People often think that desserts have to have eggs and/or butter, but in truth they’re very easy to veganize. Case in point, the apple crisp dish we brought from the same pie recipe book. Again, the wife & I were the only vegans present, but everyone made short work of this traditional fall dessert, appropriately topped with plenty of soy whip.
Eating, drinking, and merriment making! Now it feels like the holidays.

Disclaimer: No action figures appear in this post due to exhaustion brought on by their retail day jobs during this holiday season. They are recuperating and will resume their co-blogging duties in time for Christmas.