Being  a     sorta vegan

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
By Margo Page

Being a sorta vegan is no way to make friends. You’re too vegan-y for the carnivores and too carnivore-y for the vegetarians. They might not kick you out on the curb but you’re definitely going to miss out on the vegan bonding time. But I’ve always enjoyed fence sitting… chain link might hurt your butt but it always gives you the best view. I’m pretty sure that’s a worthless metaphor, but balancing yourself on a high fence is usually hilarious. Ok well now that I’ve sold you on my wonderful judgment I’ll get to the point…

Some negative spins on the concept include being a half-assed vegan, a wannabe vegan, and a cheating vegan. But being a sorta vegan is different. You’re not half-assing something if full-assing was never your intent in the first place, you’re not a wannabe if you don’t really wanna be, and you’re not cheating if you never took the vegan oath. Being up front with your sorta vegan status is much better than claiming veganhood and then having your vegan friend spy you sneaking a milk-based cookie up your sleeve, taking a bite in the bathroom and then solemnly burying the rest in the flower bed outside of the OK Natural Food Store on Preston Street while saying five Hail-Donald Watsons. Vegans are a little more elevated than me morally, and I’m ok with that. Being a total vegan is the ideal. But I’m not and I don’t feel like beating myself up over it now. Maybe in the future I will be, but I doubt it. I highly doubt I will ever decide to pass on all dairy desserts for the rest of my life. If I’ve had a few and someone puts a cheese pizza in front of me, more likely than not, I’m going to eat a piece (about a 90:10 chance, to be clear). And this is hard to say, but, I also eat meat sometimes. This sounds perplexing, I know. Usually veganism is considered so advanced, you’re only even allowed to think about it after you have successfully mastered the entire vegetarianism level. But I probably eat 98% less meat and dairy than before becoming a sorta vegan, so that’s a vastly positive move in my opinion.

Why not vegan                                                                                          gbheart

Everyone knows the benefits of veganism. There are the environmental benefits of eating vegan (reduced water usage and greenhouse gas emissions), the humane aspect of not using animals as slaves, not using selective breeding (warning: sad but not graphic) like breeding chickens so they lay an unnatural amount of eggs, the emotional benefits of knowing that you’re not ingesting another animal or drinking it’s lactation, and the health benefits of paying more attention to what you’re eating and eating food that’s healthier than meat. There’s quite a few invalid arguments against veganism still floating around, like getting enough protein and nutrients (have you ever seen a gorilla), and putting dairy farmers out of business (sorry for your loss, but maybe you can trade in your cow stalls for soybean stalks). Craving meat is often mentioned as a “need”, but as for the psychological aspect of it, slowly weaning yourself off of it does the trick. I’m an advocate for less and less often instead of cold turkey for quitting most things, especially at first. If you have a physical craving for meat, you’re probably low in zinc, iron or both and could use a supplement or alternative food sources. Some people go pale at the mention of not eating meat every day, but gradually cutting back to every other day, and then maybe twice a week is really not that difficult for anyone. Twice a week, that’s every three days… that means you only go two days at a stretch without eating meat. Before I ever ate tofu, I would want meat when I was really hungry. But now I’ve eaten tofu enough that I automatically associate tofu with satisfaction and want it when I’m hungry. Our brains are so amazing to adjust our tastes and preferences based on what we eat.

There are only two arguments against eating vegan that have any merit whatsoever, which are that vegan food products are not as good, and it can be more expensive. However, these are both becoming less and less true as the market demand continues to increase for vegan products, driving innovation for vegan food products, and eventually lowering the cost for them. Plus the majority of a vegan diet is fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains and legumes. So if you spend a dollar more on a vegan food product here and there the difference is pretty negligible. The couple of ways we can continue to influence our society into becoming more vegan is by word of mouth, and the capitalism method of voting with your dollars. Few people listen to me all that much, and I’m not buying truck loads of vegan food items, so like most of us, I’m not having much of an influence any way you spin it. But that’s really not important, because our roles in making this huge world a better place are all about the collective of our itty-bitty influences.

Preferring vegan products

A simple preference for vegan products goes a long way. Even when there isn’t a viable vegan option to buy, asking the servers what the vegan options are because you prefer to eat vegan can encourage store, cafe, bar, and restaurant owners to look into more vegan options. Sometimes the vegan options are kind of irritating and make me a little normous. Like when The Charmery in Hampden offers one random vegan flavor. They’re like “Oh we see you vegans, and we would like to offer you this… strawberry ice cream [smiling sarcastically].” That’s like a schoolyard bully asking if you want a cupcake, and while you are saying yes with eyes gleaming like the light of a thousand suns, dropping that cupcake of delight on the ground and stepping on it with their Sketchers boot while maintaining emotionless, fixed eye contact, and asking you “how ’bout …now?” Strawberry ice cream sounds appealing to me about once every 10 years. And substituting sorbet for ice cream is like eating pasta when you were in the mood for pizza, just no.

Say with your pay Andy Abellow                                  purplepinkheartsBlog

There are so many amazing recipes and recommendations online on cooking and eating vegan. Vegans are usually great cooks because they know such a variety of food and realize that how the main ingredient is prepared is so much more important than what the main ingredient is. Aside from the endless foods that are naturally vegan (the vegetables, fruits, grains, rice, legumes, beans, and nuts which are majority of a vegan diet. Oh, and coffee, alcohol, and chocolate which are food groups too, right?) the market for vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan foods is booming — all due to so many people buying vegan products. And you don’t have to be vegan 24/7 365 to contribute to the movement. Just choosing vegan products sometimes helps a lot. Now we have whole vegan sections in stores with pre-packaged vegan meals. The day of the fat lazy vegans is dawning! I went to MOM’s grocery store for the first time recently, which has so many vegan items, it’s like shopping in a future paradise. Although, I have to say it… the name “MOM’s” isn’t very progressive… I mean let’s not leave out the awesome Guardians and amazing Dads. Wouldn’t “NOMs” be better? Maybe it could stand for Nascent Organic Markets?


Like all food products, some vegan food products aren’t very good, so sometimes people might try one and think all vegan ice cream isn’t that choice. So here are my favorite vegan items so far, I’m sure there are other great ones out there but these definitely don’t disappoint.

Yogurt – Daiya.
I’ve only seen this at MOM’s so far.

daiya yogurt

Pizza – Amy’s Organic Roasted Vegetable
I bought this to make lunch for a few people excited to introduce them to it, but it turned out that two of them actually had it in their freezer at home. So it’s definitely not just me, and once you try it I’m sure you’ll want to get it again.

amys pizza

Cheese – Go Veggie’s shredded mozzarella
I haven’t had a vegan cheese yet that I want to eat alone, like on a cheese board, but it could be because I haven’t tried them all yet. Some of the ones with the best reviews aren’t even sold in the US, so recommending them to a grocery store could be helpful. And as long as we’re keeping up the demand, in the near future there will definitely be more improved vegan cheese options readily available. Even though some of them aren’t in local stores they do exist and some you can order online. For just adding onto pizza and other things though, Go Veggie’s shredded mozzarella is pretty good and available in most stores.

go veggie cheese

Cream Cheese – Daiya, plain cream cheese

Daiya cream cheese

Soup – Amy’s No Chicken Noodle, Amy’s Southwest Veggie
In theory, it’s easy for soups to be made naturally vegan. But for some reason, vegan canned soups are scarce. I guess they think, oh let’s throw some chicken in the butternut squash because what the heck…? But Amy’s has a lot of great vegan soups.

amys soup cxnamys soups sw veg

Eggs – Follow Your Heart
This is the only thing on this list I haven’t tried yet. I just ordered it online from just to try it. It was only $6 including shipping because it was my first order. If I like it enough to buy it again I’m going to recommend it to local grocery stores and see if any of them will consider carrying it.

vegan egg

Butter – Earth Balance buttery spread

earth balance butter

Seitan – Upton’s Seitan, Chorizo flavored
If you’re gluten-intolerant this obviously is not an option for you since seitan is gluten (the main protein in wheat). But if you’re okay with gluten it’s a nice option on occasion.

upton seitan chorizo

Tofu – Nasoya and Organics’s firm tofu
If you’re an OK cook, firm tofu is great.

nasoya firm tofu       organics firm tofu

If you’re a less than OK cook like me ; ) these pre-baked, seasoned and marinated tofu are excellent.

tofu baked chipotle

Jack fruit – The Jackfruit Company
This is a miracle fruit. Now it’s sold pre-packaged with various marinations (definitely at Wegman’s, I’m not sure where else). Teriyaki is my favorite so far. When I made dinner for my parents last month, I put this over rice as the main dish and told them it was pulled pork. After dinner I told them everything they’d eaten was vegan and they were super surprised! You couldn’t fool everyone with this prank, but it’s legitimately good and filling.

Teriyaki jackfruit

Cheesecake – Daiya’s keylime cheesecake
The blueberries were key, and adding raspberry sauce and some other fruit would make it even better. It’s not the best cheesecake you’ve ever have (at least I hope not, for your sake), but how often do you eat your favorite cheesecake anyways? There’s lots of vegan keylime recipes online if you’re so inclined.


Ice cream – SO’s Chocolate Truffle
chocolate truffle

Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter and Cookies. Fingers crossed that B&J comes out with some more vegan ice cream flavors!
ben jerrys

Chocolate sauce (make sure to keep it in the pouch when you warm it up), and Marshmallow fluff.

hot fudge  suzannes marshmallow

And the number one food group… Marshmallows.


Most of these are sold at Wegman’s, Safeway, Giant, Whole Foods, and MOM’s with some exceptions. If you can’t find it, and have time to suggest it to a manager, maybe they’ll start to carry it. The marshmallow fluff is sold online along with a bunch of other vegan products like rice nectar (the vegan version of honey), at Suzanne’s Specialties. There are also a lot of vegan products online at The Vegan Store. More vegan products like vegan mayo, at Follow Your Heart. There’s a ton more great vegan food items out there but if you’re wondering where to start or want to try a few out maybe this could help. Ok well I better go, before this turns into a food blog.

Let’s start living our lives
Living for the future paradise
Praise to our lives
Living for the future paradise
~Stevie Wonder


BCCC: A cesspool of corruption and disorder that needs to be shut down

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
By Margo Page

“You get what you pay for” is not always true, but in the case of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), it is. The current state of the school is complete disorder. This is not helped by the uninvolvement of the new President of the college, Dr. Gordon F. May. Although Winter Session 2015 is currently in session, Dr. Gordon F. May has been working from home the entire past week, confirmed by his direct assistant, Valerie McQueen-Bey.

Although I have degrees from other institutions, I decided to take a course I need for a certification from BCCC. Although I knew that it didn’t have a great reputation, I prefer to not judge without first-hand experience. I was completely ignorant as to the extent of it’s poor reputation, and that it is currently losing state funding as well as at risk of losing it’s accreditation (4). Therefore, my personal experience was unbiased.

Although I was told by staff in the admissions and registration office that I would be assigned an advisor and enrolled in the class, I was not. Apparently they are not able to keep track of new students and therefore many fall through the cracks. I thought this would be solved by a quick follow-up to the admissions office. As it was too late to enroll at another college, I was determined to straighten out my enrollment at BCCC. Every day for 6 days, I spoke on the phone at length with multiple people (list below article). Each person I spoke with had a very pleasant manner, and promised me they would straighten out this administrative error. However, each time, I was ultimately referred to someone else. I then had to wait to get in touch with this next person as they were often out to lunch, in a meeting, and on one particular day, at a staff funeral. Through this multiple transferring and waiting process, the drop/add period passed. After this drop/add period passed, everyone I spoke with then citied that as a reason that I could no longer enroll in the course. I insisted that I was already told I was enrolled before the course even started, and that since this was an administrative error, an exception should be made so that I could join the course. However, no amount of explaining this simple situation seemed to enlighten anyone I spoke with. Each person promised me they would fix the error, and reassured me that I simply needed to wait for them to get it approved by someone els. Hours or a day later when I called or emailed them again, they robotically insisted that because the drop/add period had passed, I could not enroll in the course.

I now realize that the pleasantry of everyone I spoke with was not a result of general kindness and concern, but instead the definition of passive-aggressive behavior, “the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination… or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible (3).” I was floored at the off-handed treatment I was receiving from the people I spoke with (see list below article). But I thought that if I could get in touch with the President of the college, at least he would surely be able to comprehend this situation and have the authority to correct it. However, he was “working from home” the past week, and did not answer my email personally, but instead had his assistant Valerie send me a rote email response.

Perhaps BCCC’s profound disorganization and lack of regard for students are some of the reasons BCCC has the lowest graduation rate of any higher level institution in the state of Maryland (1). Another student describes BCCC as “Chaos. It is so disorganized, I’m surprised it’s still operating… The school was recently sued for $10 million by a student who claimed that she was discriminated against. The student won, because BCCC never bothered to answer the complaint (2).” In June 2014, BCCC was officially accused of not having “a well-developed strategic plan, which could then help the university better allocate spending (4).”

If BCCC can fork over 10 million to a student complaint without even attempting to defend itself (2), it seems fair to assume that BCCC is corrupt. Interestingly enough, the professor of the course I was suppose to be enrolled in (Professor Virgie Mason) never responded to my email the first day of class, and other staff I spoke with told me that she did not respond to their emails either. Perhaps she is not even teaching a course right now, but is instead pocketing money for a class that exists only on the books. In 2002, BCCC experienced a steep increase in part-time faculty, which, as stated in the audit, “raises questions of adequate supervision and academic quality controls (1).”

BCCC is currently under an accreditation warning. State funding is currently being cut. BCCC is the only community college funded by the state (4). However, an accreditation warning and cuts in funding are not enough. State funding should be cut-off completely and immediately. BCCC needs to be shut down because it is a cesspool of people leeching off of tax payers money. Even worse, this college demotivates students, primarily from Baltimore City, who are trying to further their education by giving these students endless run-arounds and completely disregarding their concerns. Even for students who are able to (by complete chance and staff whim) enroll in courses, the classes themselves have an abhorrent reputation for disorganization and completely inept teachers (2). The state of Maryland needs to investigate and prosecute white collar fraud crimes at BCCC. Working for an organization that you know is corrupt is amoral. Every person working at BCCC is partly responsibility for it’s unethical practices. Corruption in Baltimore City needs to be eliminated. BCCC is an easy place to start.

List of people at BCCC with whom I spoke with directly (excluding people who do not have official titles):
Katie Baker, assistant in the President’s office
Melvin Brooks, Dean
Nicole Cameron-Becketts, Dean, Student Development
Virginia (Susie) Forbes, Administrative Coordinator, Academic Affairs
Clara Joyner, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Nena Kutniewski, Transcript Processor
Nikita Lemon, Assistant to President for Board Relations
Valerie McQueen-Bey, President’s direct assistant
Tonja Ringgold, Vice President for Academic Affairs
Sylvia Rochester, Associate Director of Records and Registration/Interim Registrar
Carol Taylor, Administrative Assistant III, Student Affairs
Sheila Scott, Administrative Assistant, Student Affairs
Tina Scott, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs

People I emailed or called at BCCC who did not respond:
Gordon F May, President and CEO
Virgie Mason, Associate Professor of English
Dennis Weeks, Dean of School of Arts and Social Sciences
Ron H. Smith, Vice President of Student Affairs






Further reading about BCCC:,0,6393894.story

Further reading about the 2014 President Gordon F May:

The Single Dimension of Time

The Single Dimension of Time
Margo Page

Bleary-eyed but bravely
Leaving what was
Because we can’t live a million
Perfect moments at once

Ready to embrace the changes
And welcome our unclear futures
Because choice is an illusion
But perspective is limitless

If sorrow deepens feeling
And feeling enhances beauty
Then life designs itself
More beautifully than we ever would

Subordination is the Backbone of the US Economy

Friday, April 11, 2014
By Margo Page

The backbone of the US economy

I have a business strategy for employers in the US. Any employee who is not completely passive and subordinate will be immediately eliminated. Have a zero tolerance policy for any employee who shares an opinion or even a minor constructive criticism of any company practice or policy. Any employee who stands out in the slightest way, including doing a better job than someone else will be fired. An obvious example of immediate cause for termination is politely explaining yourself to your supervisor after apologizing and before apologizing again during a private meeting. Another obvious example is questioning derogatory statements made by someone running a small, five person information session about harassment in the workplace.

Under this radical new idea, all employees who stay with the company will be repressed, maladjusted people who have suppressed their opinions all of their life. When they are promoted based on duration of employment and ability to be a blinking robotic minion, they will suddenly have unquestioned authority can have they can have epic power trips, and continue this perfect cycle.

Baltimore’s St. Patty’s Day Parade

        Lured to the parade by the rallying sounds of bagpipes and marching drums, I was surprised to find so many extravagant costumes at Baltimore’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. In true Smaltimore style, I saw a few familiar faces from High School days and from around Mount Vernon. But true to mini-metropolitan form, I saw mostly new faces celebrating the widely beloved holiday. As I weaved through the excitement surrounding all of the talented and dedicated musicians, their kindness and camaraderie was palpable. I didn’t find a literal pot of gold, but I did find myself in a real melting pot of happy and charismatic people.

Click on a picture below to see them full size : )

Service Coordination Inc. Breach of Personal Identity Information of 9,700 Individuals

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
By Margo Page

Personal Identity Information Data Breach for 9,700 Individuals with Disabilities by Service Coordination, Inc.

Based on what I learned about Service Coordination Inc. from my employment there between December 2013 and February 2014, it does not surprise me that Service Coordination, Inc. was responsible for the Social Security Numbers (SSN) and Medical Assistance (MA) numbers of over 9,700 Marylanders being exposed via a computer hack.  Service Coordination, Inc. serves a large quantity of individuals without allocating adequate IT resources to ensure the security of the individual’s private personal identity information.  Instead, the organization has only a small IT department that is overworked attending to system maintenance.  Keeping all of the information for over 70% of the organization’s clients in one document is a glaring mistake to anyone remotely familiar with the concepts of hacking.  Encryption is a fairly easily employed method to ensure safety of client information.  However, no such tactics were utilized.

Service Coordination Inc. clients are not assigned identity numbers for internal reference in lieu of SSNs and MA numbers.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) clearly outlines that all private information, and especially SSNs and MAs are only shared within the company on a need-to-know basis.  However, Service Coordination keeps SSNs numbers listed on numerous paper files as well as in the database system which is easily accessible to all employees.

Service Coordination, Inc. is very laid-back regarding the safe-keeping of client documents.  Client documents containing SSNs and MA numbers are frequently taken out of the office by employees.  My supervisor told me that I need not return the documents to the office before going home at the end of the day.  This is a HIPAA violation because the documents could get lost or stolen when taken to various client meeting places, and employees are not allowed to take documents with client information home.  It is surprising that although Service Coordination was aware of this computer hack when it occurred in October, they made no emphasis to staff on the importance of safeguarding client information over the past few months.

People with disabilities are especially vulnerable to identity theft.  It is really unfortunate that these 9,700 some individuals had their personal identity information stolen due to the negligence of a company they entrusted to safeguard their information.   Hopefully this event will persuade some current and potential clients to utilize another Maryland organization for these services instead of Service Coordination Inc.  Other information obtained in this computer hack were Medicaid numbers, Medicaid Waiver statuses and reasons, demographics and other information related to Service Coordination’s case management services.

I will be writing more about Service Coordination, Inc.’s practices in the near future.  More about this incident can be found at the following links.,0,7153797.story