About me

My name is Jessica. I grew up in the desert, married my high school sweetheart, and adopted a little yellow bird who changed my life. This little bundle of feathers, who goes by the name "Jazzy," taught me that a big soul could be contained in a tiny package. She made me reevaluate my perceptions of animals and my relationship with them.

What are you about?

Life is full of adventures. I've had a lot of interests in so many things over the years, and am so grateful for the doors that following these interests has opened. Not all who wander are lost... Right?!?! ;)

A self-proclaimed foodie who was willing to try anything if it was edible, I worked for four years as a line, prep, and saute cook at an Italian restaurant during college. I also cooked at a Vietnamese restaurant for about a year, where I developed, as a then still omnivore, an honest appreciation for tofu. I considered restaurant management as a career.

I started college as an anthropology major with an interest in human rights. I switched to bio. I cried after my first biology test (because science is scary!). I found out I loved molecular biology and organic chemistry. And especially ornithology. (Because science is actually fun!) I ended up with a B.S. in biology and minors in anthro and chemistry. I worked in a lab sequencing DNA (and coauthored a paper on gene conversion in C. elegans!).

Then came the day I realized I didn't care about research if it didn't have any useful applications. And actually, I really am partial to vertebrates. So I did field surveys for Sandhill Cranes--which are potentially the most wonderful birds on the planet. I found out watched people hunt them while I conducted my surveys. I ended up spending a day at the hunter check station. Life changing.

We moved to Boston. I worked with penguins at the aquarium (where I learned that people don't seem to learn much at zoos and aquariums). I worked at a small farm that operated under a CSA model, because humane, sustainable meat, right? Nope. I worked in a wildlife pathology lab, where I sorted x-rays according to which birds were shot with lead bullets, steel pellets, or ingested fishing gear. I researched and wrote a paper on the human health impacts of animal agriculture in South Asia. I realized the importance of policy. I got my masters in animals and public policy from Tufts University. I helped lobby to successfully create a fund for horse shelters and unsuccessfully to end coyote killing contests in New Mexico. I realized the importance of communications. I interned in the communications department at one of the U.S.'s oldest anti-vivisection organizations (founded in 1895!).

All of these experiences brought me intimately close to animals--individuals who have their own desires and capacity to feel pain and joy, fear and pleasure. They also brought me intimately close to humans' capacity for indifference and cruelty.

But I don't think it has to be like this. I believe that there is a better world just waiting to be created. It is up to us.

Peanut Butter Thief.

What is this blog about?

My interests have taken me all over the place, which, although often frustrating when around people who have a laser-like focus on what they want to do with their lives, I would not change for the world. However, in retrospect, there are four passions that have remained constant in my life. These are (in no particular order of importance, of course!): food, beer, bourbon, and social justice. 

And thus, this blog is born! A combination of four of my favorite things.

The food I make tries to strike a balance between healthfulness and deliciousness. I take an "additive" approach to eating, where instead of an obsession over avoidance of fats and sugar, I focus on eating as many fruits, veggies, and whole foods as possible throughout the day, and splurge occasionally on sweet treats--because if you don't allow yourself to do that, I don't believe your healthy diet will be sustainable long-term. I also believe that protein is very important, both to your health and to your stomach. It helps you feel full. This isn't to suggest that it is difficult to obtain enough protein as a vegan, but rather to say that most of my main dishes center themselves on tofu, tempeh, seitan, or some sort of bean or lentil. You won't find hunger-inducing portobello mushroom steaks here.

What is veganism to you?

Veganism is more than a diet--it is a way of life that strives to reduce suffering, whether that suffering is human or animal, or whether that suffering is associated with the food we eat or the products that we buy.

Veganism is social justice on your plate. It is choosing our common values of compassion and mercy three times a day. And the best part about it is it tastes damn good.

Why Thank God Bourbon is Vegan?

Well, because exactly how it sounds, I one day realized that bourbon might not be vegan. Most sugar isn't technically vegan, for example (it's filtered through bone char). After doing some research, I exclaimed, "thank God bourbon is vegan!"and then I bellied up and celebrated, because one should always have a reason to celebrate.