Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On Hiatus

One Cheap Vegan is on sabbatical, but I'll be back next month with more tips for frugal living with compassion. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fun and Fancy Free in Philadelphia

cheap vegan

You don't have to empty your pockets in order to have a good time in the City of Brotherly Love. The following are a few of my favorite venues for free (or pay-what-you-can donation) events in Philadelphia.

The Rotunda
One of my favorite haunts in West Philly, the Rotunda offers an eclectic array of events to suit any interest: old movies, hip hop, blue grass, throat singing, puppet shows, spoken word, dance, jazz, panels, lectures, the list goes on and on.

Studio 34
In addition to pay-what-you-can and $5 yoga classes, Studio 34 regularly has music, visual, and performance art. Feet Active is a monthly dance, (vegan) cupcake, and yoga party. I also like the annual Bike Part Art Show.

Besides being the home of Books Thru Bars, where I volunteer on occasion, the A-Space hosts poetry slams, movies, craft fairs, lectures, and other events with an anarchist bent.

Wooden Shoe
A radical bookstore in the South Street corridor, the Wooden Shoe offers book discussions, lectures, and movie nights, among other things.

Free Library
Lectures and movies are held throughout the year at various Free Library locations. Check the calendar for more information. I've seen the Guerrilla Girls and Joyce Carol Oates speak here before.

Colleges and universities
The plethora of colleges in the Philadelphia area does not only mean annoying frat parties and no where to park. They often have free or low-cost concerts, plays, and lectures. Check UPenn, Drexel, Temple, Moore College of Art, or the University of the Arts for starters. If you feel like taking the R5 train down the Main Line, you can also check out Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Villanova.

Many local theatres, such as Arden, Curio, and Wilma, offer free seats to volunteer ushers who come an hour before showtime and hand out programs, and stay briefly afterwards to help pick them up. I've done this multiple times and saw some great shows!

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Get lost in the over 200 galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on any given Sunday, when admission is pay-what-you-can. Now that the museum has the additional Perleman Building, there's even more to see.

Institute of Contemporary Art
After it recieved a generous grant, the Institute of Contemporary Art opened its doors to the public with free admission all of the time. I've seen some very strange exhibits here, including cartoons of starving vegans who turned to cannibalism because, apparently, they couldn't find anything else to eat.

Curtis Institute of Music
At the Curtis Institute of Music, you can sit in on weekly student recitals for free during the school year. It makes for a cheap, yet romantic date.

Bartram's Garden
Did you know that the oldest botanical garden in the U.S. is located in West Philly? Bartram's Garden is a beautiful oasis in the city, with flowering trees, meadows, and historic buildings from the 18th century.

City Parks
Besides offering the usual playgrounds, greenery, and hiking trails, many of our city's parks have concerts, craft fairs, outdoor movies, theater, and much more. Clark Park and Cedar Park are both in my neighborhood and offer free productions of Shakespeare's plays and jazz concerts every summer, among other events.

Other Recommendations
You can also sign up for Phillly FunSavers, a weekly e-mail with half-price tickets to many arts and cultural events. And scour the City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly for free stuff to do.

Do you know of any other free venues to add to the list? Do tell!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Breakfast of Cheap Vegan Champions

Ever since my friend Nicki told me she doesn't like regular oatmeal because it's too mushy, I've been using her quick and easy recipe for breakfast oats. Without a doubt, I've eaten this nearly every day for the past four years. Oats are cheap and nutritious, and this recipe only leaves one bowl and spoon to wash. Best of all, you can make it in under five minutes!

Start by boiling about 1/2 cup of water.

Next, get out the bowl you're going to eat from and add 1 cup regular rolled oats.

Use the spoon you're going to eat with and add 3-4 spoonfuls of cinnamon apple sauce.

Dig your hands into a bag of raisins and add a handful to your bowl.

Stir everything up.

At this point, the water should be at a rolling boil. Carefully pour it in your bowl, just enough so that the oats are covered but not floating.

Stir everything up again.

Cover your bowl with a plate to trap the steam. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes while the oats soften.

Uncover and voila! You're done.

Optional: For added nutrition (fiber and omega 3's), sprinkle crushed flaxseed on top. You can also try adding different toppings (banana, blueberries, peanut butter, walnuts, other flavors of apple sauce, etc.), but the original is the one I like best.

My mother always said, "Oats stick to your ribs," and boy is she right. This is a very filling breakfast... or lunch, or dinner!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How Would You Save Luna?

Last weekend, I watched a compelling documentary that I haven't been able to get off my mind. It brought up a lot of questions for me about humans relationship with wild animals, and where/if we should draw the line.

Saving Luna follows the story of a lonely orca whale who was either lost or abandoned by his pod in a logging bay off the coast of Nova Scotia. Clearly yearning for social contact, Luna approached the boats, impressing everyone with his chutzpah. He would nose right up to them and nod his head encouragingly for pats, and even play tug of war or fetch with cedar sticks he found floating in the water. He also enjoyed being sprayed with water or getting his tongue rubbed. When the summer visitors came to the bay, Luna became the center of attention and seemed to revel in his popularity.

Soon, people became worried about Luna—for his own safety and the safety of others. Because he swam so close to the boats, what if he unintentionally knocked over a kayak or got too close to a boat's propeller? The question of what to do about Luna became one that divided the Department of Fisheries, First Nation leaders, marine biologists, tourists, politicians, and anyone else who had met the baby whale.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries thought that human contact would just encourage Luna to stay in the bay and pose a risk to himself and the summer tourists. However, when one group wanted to relocate Luna to the area where his pod might be, officials were skeptical that this would even work and denied permission. Instead, they told people to ignore Luna for his own good or recieve a hefty fine. This policy was impossible to enforce, as many saw how much Luna craved interaction and thought it cruel to deprive him of it. Officials dismissed this as anthropomorphizing. For years, no one could agree and Luna remained in the waters of Nova Scotia seeking social contact, but sometimes meeting up with the wrong people. One man threatened to shoot him when he discovered his fishing boat was damaged.

Interestingly, Saving Luna does not take sides. When asked what the message of his documentary is, filmmaker Michael Parfit said:
"A lot of people ask Suzanne and me that. But we don’t think of SAVING LUNA as a message film. It’s a story film. It isn’t trying to tell people what to think. We made it because we went through an amazing story with a wonderful character, and we want everybody to experience the story and get to know the character."
What do you think about the barrier between humans and wild animals? Is it ever ok to cross the line? How would you have saved Luna?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Peace and harmony?

This weekend my boyfriend and I came across an odd scene in Fishtown. A tuxedo cat was chilling out with a gaggle of about seven pigeons. Normally, my cats are in complete stealth mode if they are within even ten yards of a bird. But maybe there is strength in numbers. Or maybe there is such a thing as world peace after all.

After we snapped the picture, the cat laid down, either bored or comforted by the pigeons presence.