Zen + Dogs: Thanks-giving

tom-thanks-giving-sThis post is inspired by Robert Carter’s discourse on ethics in his book Becoming Bamboo. He integrates views from Western philosophy and Zen Buddhism. Zen practice is inseparable from ethics. It is a way of life, a ‘spirited caring and effective willing’.

Oct 12

  • Lesson from Tom: Dogs are attuned to their human’s emotional states and often mirror this state back to the human.
  • Tom says, “When Julie’s anxious, I get anxious and I don’t know what to do!”

“We got this amazing delivery of twenty pounds of pork yesterday!” she said. “We had the whole machine there and all the materials for making sausages!”

“It was incredible to dig your hands into the meat…!” he said.

I look at them and don’t respond except with a weak expression of interest. Greg, at my side, just says “Oh.”

“Are you vegetarian?” she asks.

“Vegan” I say.

“Ah” they both say in unison. “And you?” they both look at Greg. I don’t look but hear him say, “I live with her”, gesturing to me. He elaborates, “I eat vegan at home, but sometimes away from home…” his sentence peters out. Then, as though intending to deflect the attention, “the dogs are vegan too.”

Instinctually, I glance over towards the front door. Tom is there, mildly hyperventilating with wide eyes, giving me a look that says, “get me out of here!”

We are at Greg’s sister’s place for thanks-giving dinner. She kindly invited us over while we were in Victoria visiting my mother. She warned that there would be meat, but that she and her daughter would provide vegan options which they generously did. I often feel torn about going for dinner to meat-eating houses. It is uncomfortable for me to watch people prepare, eat and discuss the meat meal because it brings up images in my mind of animal suffering. On the other hand, I feel grateful that people go to the trouble of inviting and hosting. I usually offer to bring something. I try to look at these dinners as opportunities for small openings towards conversations on ethics. This time, the couple changed the subject to growing veggies, which I welcomed.

I take Tom and Sugi outside, sense the crisp damp air and feel better. They let me know that they’d rather wait in the truck than in the house. After, I return to the dining table to be seated.

  • Large browned turkey. I think about the appalling living conditions of turkeys bred for consumption.
  • Brussel sprouts with bacon. Don’t they taste great already? The image in my mind is of the crammed conditions of pigs who never get to see the outdoors, and the gestation crates where females are forced to lay on their sides for months nursing the piglets who’ve had their tails and other parts cut off without anaesthetic.
  • Mashed potato with butter. There are great alternatives to butter! I think about the male calves born into the dairy industry who are born and disposed of, or kept alone in veal cages for months before slaughter.
  • Apple pie made with lard. Seems that this would conjure a disagreeable image for anyone.

The whole evening, I practice meditative techniques of breathing, attention to the moment, compassion towards the other guests, but with mixed results. I continue to feel a small familiar cloud of despair hanging overhead…

Sugi’s Vegan Gluten-free Oat, Lentil, Sweet Potato Dog Pancakes

 

pancakes-lentil

  • Lesson from Sugi: Dogs do well on a vegan diet
  • Sugi says, “I love these oat lentil pancakes even more than the other pancakes!”

I modified the last pancake recipe to increase the protein content and to substitute sweet potato for the banana. I think Sugi likes the savory flavor of this one in comparison to the more sweet flavor of the oat/banana recipe. You can buy the lentil flour from Anita’s Mill or from Fairy Cakes. I learned from vegan chef Preet Marwaha, who spoke at the Vegan Congress Tasting on Jan 22, 2014, that you should soak your hemp or flax seeds for a few minutes before using them in the recipe in order to allow them to create a nice jelly like texture. Preet also said the omegas in hemp seeds are especially easy to digest. I added safflower oil because according to my vet it has the same omegas as flax oil which should not be heated.

  • 1 cup organic oat flour
  • 1/3 cup organic lentil flour
  • 1tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cooked small organic sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp organic hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp safflower oil
  • about 1 1/3 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk beverage (I use So Delicious brand)

Put the seeds in about 1/4 cup of your coconut milk and let them sit. In the meantime, put the flour and baking powder  in a bowl and use a whisk to mix up thoroughly. Put the sweet potato into the bowl that has the seeds/coconut milk and mash together until smooth. Add the mashed ingredients to the dry ingredients. Then add the coconut milk, whisking until smooth, and until you get the thickness you want. Add more coconut milk if you want. Use a spoon to put a dollop (about 1/8-1/4 cup) of batter onto an oiled pan. Cook until dry on the up side. Flip and cook the other side, just like you would regular pancakes! You may have to add a bit of coconut milk as the batter sets while you’re cooking.

You will see in the picture that I’ve cooked them as small (about 3″) grittle cakes on a special grill that spans two burners. Once done, I let them cool on a rack. Sugi (20 lbs.) eats about 6 of these per day (in addition to other lovely treats…). Unlike Tom, Sugi knows when he’s had enough… Delicious!

Sugi’s Vegan Gluten Free Dog Pancakes


pancakes

  • Lesson from Sugi: Dogs like to eat things that taste good!
  • Sugi says, “I love these special pancakes made with love”

For some dog reason lately, Sugi has been very picky about his food. Things he used to love—squash, buckwheat noodles, rice noodles, azuki beans—don’t interest him right now. It can be frustrating offering  food and him turning his head away! I tried to entice him with various foods including goat dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, and tofu. But after a week of these, I noticed he developed itchy ears and congested breathing, so I’m thinking he’s  allergic to dairy and soy products.

On a weekend over the holidays, I tried this vegan oat pancake recipe from Guten Free Vegan Girl for myself. These pancakes are delicious! They are even better cooked as waffles! Oats, the type of flour used in the recipe, are one of the most protein-rich grains with 17% protein compared to rice which is 7%.

I adapted the above recipe for Sugi by substituting the apricots (too sweet for him) with banana and adding some veggie puree. The pancakes do not have any sweetener, and they are full of protein, fruit, veggies and omegas so I believe they are a nutritious meal:

  • 1 1/3 cup organic oat flour
  • 1tsp. baking powder
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1/4 cup pureed cooked organic yam and carrot
  • 2 tbsp organic hemp or flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 1 1/3 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk beverage (I use So Delicious brand)

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to mix up the flour with the baking powder. Put the other ingredients (except the coconut milk) together in a small bowl and mash until smooth. Add the mashed ingredients to the dry ingredients. Then add the coconut milk, whisking until smooth, until you get the thickness you want. Add more if you want. Use a spoon to put a dollop (about 1/8-1/4 cup) of batter onto an oiled pan. Cook until dry on the up side. Flip and cook the other side, just like you would regular pancakes! You may have to add a bit of coconut milk as the batter sets while you’re cooking.

You will see in the picture that I’ve cooked them as small (about 3″) grittle cakes on a special grill that spans two burners. Once done, I let them cool on a rack. Sugi (20 lbs.) eats about 6 of these per day (in addition to other lovely treats…). He seems satisfied and is not losing any weight, so I’m happy… Delicious!

 

Noodles + Mash #2 (orange) – organic vegan diet

  • Lesson from Tom and Sugi: This vegan meal is a combination of either organic rice noodles or buckwheat noodles, and an organic homemade puree. This one differs from Mash#1 in the green vegetable and the proportions. Both Mashes use legumes which when added to the noodles forms a complete protein. This diet must be supplemented with good quality vitamins and omegas*.
  • Tom says, “I love broccoli!”

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Noodles + Mash #2

I feed Tom and Sugi each 3 times per day.  Both dogs are 20 pounds each*:

  • combine about 3/4 to 1 cup of cooked, drained, cold water rinsed organic rice noodles or buckwheat noodles (zaru soba)
  • about 1/4 to 1/2 cup Mash #2

*Health Tip: Add a vitamin powder to the meal (I use “Total Health” from Whole Hound). Add a digestive enzyme to each meal (I use “Digestive Support” from Whole Hound) which will aid in digesting the legumes. Add a squirt of organic flax oil for omega 3 and 6 support.

Recipe for Mash #2 (= 10 cups):

  • 2 parts squash – [small butternut squash, cooked, puréed (4 cups yield)]
  • 1 part sweet potato or yam – [cooked, puréed (2 cups yield)]
  • 1 part  steamed, puréed broccoli (2 cups yield)]
  • 1 part legume – [1 cup soaked overnight, cooked, puréed adzuki beans (2 cups yield)]

Vegan dog treats using your dehydrator

Lesson from Sugi: When Sugi was on a homemade allergy-free diet the only things he could eat were buckwheat noodles and squash purée! this was a treat that I made up that Sugi could eat. I still make them and both Tom and Sugi love them!

Sugi says, “I love these treats because they’re crunchy…!”

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Buckwheat flour treats

2 cups organic whole buckwheat flour

4- 6 cups water

Put the flour in a bowl. Add water and mix with a whisk. Keep adding enough water until this batter has the consistency of thin pancake mix. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Heat up a cast iron frying pan using medium heat. Pour the batter into the pan until about a 6-7 inch pancake is formed. Let cook until the top of the pancake has no liquid. Flip and cook the second side for only 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool. Make sure you’re not burning them! Keep making these pancakes. The batter will make about 8-10 pancakes.

After all the pancakes are cooled off, cut them into 1/2 inch squares. Arrange on your dehydrator racks and dehydrate for 6-8 hours or until completely crispy.

These will keep for many weeks. Yum!!