Sunday, February 16, 2014

What Are Animals For?

I'm always up to addressing other people's concerns in my posts and this one just happens to be one of those posts. A friend of our family had been in their ward in a primary class and the children had been learning about the creation, I'm assuming because the teacher asked the kids at one point, "Why did God create animals?" and then immediately answered his/her own question with, "For us to eat."

This friend's mouth, probably if it were capable, hit the floor. Is that what we are teaching our children? That animals are merely there for our indulgence? In fact, I hope I'm not overstepping spiritual bounds when I point out the fact, that in the church, we've learned that animals are to "fulfill the measure of their creation and to have joy." I sure hope you all recognize that line, because if I were to show you pictures of factory farmed animals (the animals that probably 95% of your meat comes from), you'd see that there has not been one moment of joy in their entire lives. And it breaks my heart--to see God's creations being used so flippantly.

So, let me spell out the ways that animals are far beyond the feral use of mankind's stomach:

  • To bring us true joy
    • In my lifetime, our family has been stewards over a rabbit-Bucky; a hamster-Mickey; four dogs-Shady, Peebo, Winnie, and Nilla; three cats-Spook, Oreo, and Sicko; two horses-Wizard, and Gunner, and endless bottles of pill bugs. Not one of them have we ever used to eat. In fact, Peebo, lived to an age of 18 which is quite old for a dog. He stank towards the end, and was covered in tumors, but the memories we'd made with him when we were kids ensured joy in his life as well as ours. When I  visit my parent's home these days I have "sleep overs" with Nilla and Winnie where we have a girl's night, sleeping in my bed. My mom has video of me, as a kid, reading a rabbit Bucky. In other words, these blessed animals have been family. They have made us laugh, they have comforted us when we're sick and sad, they have played games with us, protected us, and more. In short, these animals were made to be our friends. In fact, animals are known to help reduce and eliminate depression.

  • To use FOR food
    • For centuries, mankind has worked by the sweat of his own brow, and animals have been used to work right beside him. The horse and ox have pulled man's plow, hogs used to hunt out truffles, insects and birds used to maintain pests in crop fields, bacteria (yes, an animal) lives in our guts to help digest food, their uninfected manure used to fertilize plants (my parents put their horses' manure in their garden beds), bees and other insects and animals are used to pollenate plants. Goat herds can be used to eat weeds, ladybugs used to eliminate garden worms and other harmful insects, snakes manage rodent populations that threaten crops (although I hate snakes, I see them non-stop in my garden, which makes me happy!),
  • To serve us
    • Not like slaves, but look at canines who are wonderful seeing-eye dogs to serve the blind, look at the animals that are used in hospitals and nursing homes as a means of therapy for the patients. Dogs are also used to sniff out cancer and warn epilepsy patients when a seizure is coming on. Bomb sniffing dogs to detect threats, seals and dolphins are trained by the Navy for security. Elephants, horses, mules, kine (that would be animals like cows and oxen), llamas, dogs, and other animals are used for packing and transportation. Cats help eliminate the overpopulation of pests, wolves control the excessive deer population, and the list goes on and on. Those snakes I mentioned earlier? In cutting down rodent populations, it helps protect us humans from disease. During wars in the past, birds and other animals have been used to transfer messages. Animals have and can warn us of natural disasters. Canaries have been used to warn miners of deadly gas. It's easy to see signs of animals serving us every single day...and this is just scratching the surface.

  • To bring beauty to the eye
    • Peacocks, flamingos, giraffes, horses, elephants, whales, fish, beautiful are these creatures? How amazing are they to look at? They fill us with wonder, with appreciation, and gratitude. Not everything has a "practical" use. And I have a belief that God wanted to give us things to please the eye and gladden the heart. Like a sunset, a beautiful valley, a majestic mountain range, or deep canyon, there are creations in existence to amaze us. Not for our carnal desires.

  • To clothe us
    • In the coldest climates of the world where man has lived for centuries, the wool of sheep, alpacas, llamas, goats, oxen has been woven and spun into warm clothing and blankets. In extreme climates, yes, the animals are skinned to protect the wearers from frostbite and protect them from the elements.
  • As food
    • As the Word of Wisdom explains, animals are also here as food for times of cold, winter, famine, or extreme hunger. I do not feel it is right to NEVER eat meat. Where would the Martin Willey Handcart company have been without the fatty meat of the buffalo that was brought to them? How would Nephi and his family had survived all their travels to the promised land without access to animal flesh? As Genesis explains, the flesh of animals is meant to save our lives. And I'm so grateful for that.
In the end, the purpose of animals "as food" for us to eat, is miniscule compared to all their other duties on this planet. Are there any other purposes for animals that you can think of?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Gnocchi alla Genovese

So, I've never done Gnocchi  before (pronounced "nyokee") but I've ALWAYS wanted to. Gnocchi is a pasta usually made out of flour and potato starch. When I found this plant-based recipe, I was so excited because it looked SO good. BTW, I have to credit Pinterest for this find. I actually find most of my recipes this way, and I love it.

I found this particular Gnocchi alla Genovese recipe on One Green Planet. The problem I quickly ran into, however, while I was shopping, was that I could NOT find a pesto that wasn't made with oil and parmesan cheese. Of course, in order to rectify this problem I went to the only place I could think of that would have a non-oil, non-cheese pesto recipe . . . that's right, Pinterest. And I found this Oil-Free Vegan Pesto on Healthy Girl's Kitchen.
One Green Planet
I think that this recipe would also go really really well with asparagus added in (the more veggies the better, right?!)! And, I also purchased the whole wheat Gnocchi from Harmons (Cucina and Amore brand). It's really good!

I hope you like it as much as I did! And a perk? This is relatively easy and quick to make!

Gnocchi alla Genovese

Serves 2 as a main, 4 with sides | Cooking Time: 10-15 min.


1 packet of gnocchi
two handfuls of frozen green beans
two handfuls of frozen peas
2-3 tbsp pesto (recipe below)
1/2 cup soy cream (or non-dairy milk--I used Almond Milk)

Steam the green beans and peas over a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes.
Pour the cream and pesto into a large pan to simmer.
Add the gnocchi, stirring to cover them in creamy pesto sauce. Stir in the peas and beans, then serve while it’s still hot.

Oil-Free Pesto
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (to taste)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
Sea salt (or not) to taste (I didn't use any!)
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the basil, garlic, walnuts, pine nuts, lemon juice and nutritional yeast in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground.

Turn the motor on and drizzle the vegetable broth in a thin stream. Taste, Add the sea salt (or not) and pepper to taste. Pulse a few more times to combine.
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