New food trend: faux fish

Dear friends, what are you up to this weekend? Tomorrow and Sunday I am excited to be teaching Reiki 2 at BrightHaven (though we will miss little Joey so, so much). Here are a few interesting and important links from around the web of things I’m grateful for today:

1. A vegetarian alternative to fish: Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, overfishing and mercury levels are real problems when it comes to consuming your favorite fish, whether it’s ahi, bluefin or even unagi. Now enterprising chefs and companies across the nation are experimenting with savory, visually appetizing alternatives to your favorite fish dishes. Vegan options and veggie-based foods like “tomato sushi” (which looks and supposedly tastes like the real thing) are starting to roll out. Though demand is still small, I love this idea and can’t wait to try some of these products. Read more here on the flourishing faux-fish trend.

Amazing vacations for animal lovers

I don’t know about you, but when winter sets in, along with colder, darker days, I like to think about planning a fun future trip. (Even if I don’t book anything, it’s fun to research!) So when I started looking into vacations for the animal lover, wow, I uncovered some of the most absolutely amazing experiences in all corners in the world. I’m grateful in my life to have the opportunity and ability to travel if and when I need to. With that in mind, here are five things I’m feeling gratitude for today …

1. Amazing (animal-friendly) vacations for animal lovers: One of these I’ve done: Best Friends Animal Society. (Totally recommended!) But that’s just a start … how about visiting the rescued farm animals of Catskill Animal Sanctuary while exploring their amazing vegan cooking classes and even staying on site? How about riding horses in Iceland! Or touring the Kangaroo Sanctuary at sunset in Australia, going “wolf howling” in Minnesota, sleeping with sloths at Costa Rica’s Sloth Sanctuary B&B, attending the Golden Retriever festival in Scotland, dining with giraffes in Kenya, sharing the beach with wild horses in Maryland, or visiting Japan’s famous bunny-covered island? And more! Links here, here and here.

2. The special bonds between shelter pets and adopted kids: This heartful essay by adoptee Lisa Bernier shares the science (and emotions) behind the deep connections shared by adopted and foster children with their adopted shelter pets. It’s just one more reason to consider adopting from a shelter and not a breeder or pet store.

3. My Friend: Changing the Journey: I can’t wait to watch this ground-breaking documentary from the CLEAR Foundation, a nonprofit focused on canine lymphoma education, prevention and treatment. The film was recently awarded Best Documentary Feature at the Los Angeles Movie Awards. Unfortunately, too many of us have been affected by our animal friends suffering from cancer.

4. This new PBS series looks interesting: Earth: A New Wild, premiering February 4. Hosted by a conservation scientist, each episode will look at how humankind and animals depend on one another and uncover ways in which we can all live in unity.

5. And for the sports fan: This Sunday is, of course, Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XI! Featuring goat cheerleaders, a pregame show and a Kitty Halftime Show, this yearly tradition is not to be missed.

What are you grateful for this weekend?

Cat cafes rising in popularity

Hello, friends. I hope the new year is treating you well so far. Here are a few things I’m feeling gratitude for today …

1. Coffeehouses that help out with pet adoptions? Yes! Cat cafes are rising in popularity, with shops cropping up in cities like Oakland, Denver and Seattle. Patrons can grab a cup of jo and then schedule some playtime with shelter cats needing a good home.

2. Random reasons to celebrate, like: Today is Static Electricity Day! Static and cats just don’t mix. These great tips will help rid your cat’s fur of static electricity (and protect your cat from this):

3. Noel Fitzpatrick, rock star vet and star of the BBC series “The Supervet”: His work helping animals extends way beyond the amazing, cutting-edge techniques and “miracles” happening at his veterinary practice. Last year, he launched a nonprofit called Humanimal Trust, which builds stronger scientific and educational connections between vets and physicians for humans—a collaboration that ultimately will benefit our animals. In case you missed them, old “Supervet” episodes are available on Amazon.

4. Promising research that could help to diagnose fatal kidney disease in cats earlier. A test based on a newly developed biomarker could be available to pet owners someday soon, extending their kitties’ lives.

5. Yay! Eddie the Terrible has been adopted following this hilarious ad from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, which highlighted all of his flaws. You gotta love the Humane Society for using creative ways to draw attention to their animals. (Whatever works!)

What are you thankful for today?

{P.S. My Reiki for Dogs Audio Course starts Monday! Click here for details and to sign up (scroll down to the second class listed).}

Life lessons from our animals

I can’t believe it’s almost 2015! Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year filled with many blessings. In addition to my family, friends and health, here are a few things I’m feeling gratitude for this sparkly evening …

1. I suppose it goes without saying, but I am immensely grateful for the animals I’ve encountered in my life and the ones that have walked gently by my side. Here’s a wonderful article from One Green Planet that lists 10 beautiful life lessons we can learn from animals. I agree with all of these lessons; #1 (compassion) and #3 (live for today), especially, are important elements of my Reiki work with animals. Read the full article here for all 10 life lessons.

2. A reason to celebrate eating vegan: Did you know? January is Veganuary! This global campaign launched in 2013 helps people “take the pledge” to eat vegan for the month of January. The helpful site includes a dining guide, myths debunked, recipes, profiles of vegans from all walks of life and more. And here’s my favorite vegan blog: Oh She Glows. I made the Crispy Smashed Potatoes With Avocado Garlic Aioli the other night and they were absolutely amazing. I also can’t wait to try this (since I love Mexican food): Ultimate Green Taco Wraps With Lentil-Walnut Taco Meat. Who knew eating vegan could be so fun? (What are you waiting for?)

3. Tomorrow’s Tournament of Roses Parade, a yearly tradition in our household! My favorite floats are always the animal floats. There aren’t too many this year, but keep an eye out for La Cañada Flintridge’s float “To the Rescue,” which will be showcasing a message of compassion: a group of sea creatures setting aside their fear of sharks to band together and free a shark trapped in a fishing net and sunken boat.

4. Scientists who make it their life’s work to answer that age-old (and vitally important) question: What do cats do all day? This actually made me smile; what a fun experiment to collaborate with cat owners, outfitting their outdoor house cats with cat trackers. Hm, wouldn’t it be amusing to know what your cat does all day? This study is ongoing, but the early results are pretty interesting. Check out their Cat Tracker website for Google maps detailing each animal participant’s “secret life.”

5. This heartful essay about animals in zoos, which are decorated festively for the holidays and accept donated “gifts” from visitors for the animals. I have to agree with author Jennifer O’Connor, that the animals have “nothing to celebrate” during the holidays. “The greatest gift,” she writes, “would be the one they’ll never receive: life outside a cage.”

As we head into a brand-new year … what are you grateful for today?

This surprising animal is now endangered

Hello, Friday. I can’t believe the holidays are almost here. I’ll be spending the weekend finishing up some shopping and trying out a new gluten-free recipe: Hearty Vegan Minestrone Soup. What about you?

As we head into the weekend, here are five things I’m feeling gratitude for today …

1. I’m really grateful for conservationists and their tireless work. Our world needs more of them, especially when you have so many animals facing extinction, such as polar bears (due to shrinking ice in the Arctic) and the American eel (from overfishing). Those are just two examples of animals vanishing from the wild, but surprisingly, now giraffes need saving, too. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the numbers of these gentle giants have dropped an alarming 40 percent in just 15 years. Scientists are working on the paperwork now to help giraffes make it onto the official endangered species listings. On a related note, 31 new species of animals recently gained special protection status by the United Nations (including polar bears), and plenty more should (like the beluga whale in Canada).

2. Singing dogs: When the news of the world gets me down, something simple like a funny animal video can make me smile. Check out this adorable Aussie shepherd puppy singing—yes, you read that right—“Let It Go” from the movie Frozen.

3. Gingerbread houses: Every year, my daughter Indigo and I, along with Grandma, construct beautiful, candied gingerbread houses. We’ve already made this year’s, but after seeing this article with construction tips from a pro, I’m excited to make next year’s gingerbread house extra elaborate. And how cool is this: Until January 4, you can dine inside a life-sized gingerbread house at one of the Great Wolf Lodge resorts and help a charity at the same time.

4. Howard Stern’s wife, Beth Stern, does a lot to help homeless animals and is a big supporter of the North Shore Animal League America animal rescue and adoption center in Port Washington, New York. Recently she wrote a children’s picture book about her rescued Persian cat, Yoda, and how his heart healed after taking care of a group of foster kittens. Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens is on sale now; 100 percent of the proceeds will support a special addition to NSALA: an innovative 14,000-square-foot, cage-free area for cats, kittens, dogs and puppies with outdoor habitats, a 24/7 nursery, grooming facilities, an adoption center and more.

yoda

5. I’m happy anytime I hear of another reason to love chocolate. This time, the decadent confection is apparently linked to improved memory. Bring on the Vosges bars and truffles!