Buy Nothing Day

November 29 will be the day known as “Black Friday” throughout America. For those who may not be familiar with this event, it is the day after the American Thanksgiving. Large box stores promote extreme sales beginning at hours as early as 4am. Late Thanksgiving night marks the ceremony of many consumers camping out in parking lots awaiting a spending spree. Just as that clear glass door is unlocked, survival of the fittest initiates. Physical attacks are quite common and fatalities have occurred from trampling. This is the biggest example of materialistic greed that I know of.

So this year, I’m going to take part in “Buy Nothing Day.” The event has been promoted by Ad Busters for years since it was created in 1992 as the “international day of protest against consumerism celebrated annually just after Thanksgiving.” Do something – don’t buy something. We can all do ourselves a favor by using a day to rid ourselves of materialism, and just maybe focus on what we are grateful for in our lives. We may surprise ourselves with how far our decisions reach and feel satisfied knowing that for one day we did not add to the exploitation of workers, resources, and the planet over senseless consumption.

“Today, humanity faces a stark choice: save the planet and ditch capitalism, or save capitalism and ditch the planet.”
– Fawzi Ibrahim

Photo: Buy Nothing Day UK, 2013

Sources: Adbusters, 2013; Buy Nothing Day UK, 2013


Sunday Night: Let’s Make Soup!

Okay, so if you live anywhere from the Midwest to the Northeast, chances are the weather is intimidating and you are stuck inside. Use up some of your produce that is not so fresh, but still good to eat and let’s make some black bean soup! I love cooking ahead on a Sunday evening, looking forward to a great meal I can enjoy at my convenience all week. If you work or have kids, save yourself some trouble and work ahead!


I based this recipe loosely off one I pulled from Check it out here. We had a lot of produce and good spices we made use of. Significant alternations from the original recipe include using vegetable stock mixed with water, as opposed to just water, increasing amounts of salt and cumin (as you will find the source recipe a bit bland) and using a slow cooker instead of a soup pot. The slow cooker allows the spices to mix in better and you don’t need to sauté anything, eliminating the need for cooking oil. As is the case with the slow cooker, the longer you let this cook, the better. 10 hours is ideal. This is a healthy and filling meal, a vegan’s (or meat eater’s!) dream! My fellow Hermit, Lauren, gave me a enormous can of Eden Organic black beans (108 ounces!), good stuff grown in the midwest. I am excited to see how it comes out and enjoy it through this November weather. Enjoy your week!


Images: Mark Suchyta, Urban Hermits

A Lesson From Jack the Fox

Jack the Fox and his human companion can show us new perspective on animals, especially those regarded as pests.

The clip surely brings a few questions to mind regarding the idea of pets. At what point is human – animal bonding beneficial to a non-human animal? Detrimental? Do they enjoy human company? What differentiates keeping a dog as a pet vs. a fox? Obviously, these are not black and white answers and neither is the complexity of human – non-human relationship dynamics and understanding.

The biggest point to drive home from the video is that observation and interaction with non-human animals will teach us to see these animals differently, to admire them. How many times have you heard someone say they hate opossums. Why? Because they are ugly, scary, vicious, a nuisance. If you were to observe their behaviors and how closely these relate to human compassion, it would be clear that these claims are a stereotype passed down through decades of insecurity (with the nocturnal) and human dominance. So next time you see a fox, or better yet a common squirrel, take some time to admire how its behavior compares to yours.

Video: LPSCreativeMedia 7 May 2010;

Some Animal Welfare Hits

Hi all,

Happy humpday, I hope you are all surviving! A few articles came my way today that I felt spark interesting debate and bring perspective. The first being from the Detroit Free Press, which discusses the approval of two animal abuse bills in the Michigan Senate, which will increase the penalties for animal abusers, including a five year adoption ban for convicted individuals. I have always pushed, along with many other Michigan-based animal protection agencies, the implementation of a public registry of animal abusers. This could thus be used to protect animals and citizens who are seeking to adopt animals or seeking adopters for their current pets, as well as for those who are looking to hire caretakers. Although these bills do not appease me entirely, I believe they are a step in the right direction and am happy that these protections are being discussed.

Secondly, here is a sad, but important, piece on animals who have drowned in natural disasters, due to being locked up in the basements of medical and/or university laboratories. The authors offer some possible solutions to the problem. 

Finally, here is an interesting piece on the impact of global warming on big game in Michigan, which is relevant for many other states.

There is a lot of news flooding in and I felt the need to share some, but it is great to see all the wonderful and compassionate work people and organizations are doing! Cheers!


My amiga at Farm Sanctuary!

Image: Mark Suchyta, Urban Hermits


Thanks to our Followers!

Well, Urban Hermits has reached over 100 followers and it’s all thanks to our wonderful readers! We appreciate your support and hope you stay tuned for more to come!


Image: Urban Hermits, Nov 2013

Your Farmers Market!

As fall turns to Winter and farmers harvest the rest of their produce before fields turn fallow, it is a great time to stock up on some produce at your local farmers market! If you haven’t been to one yet, consider this a wonderful opportunity to support local growers and learn about what sort of agriculture is taking place near you. Whether you live in a large city or a small town, farmers markets are becoming increasingly present and popular. Growing up near Detroit, Michigan, I loved spending a Saturday at Eastern Market, the city’s legendary market district where farmers from all over Michigan and Ohio would arrive early in the morning to deliver city-dwellers fresh produce, small operation meats and dairy, and other craft items. During college in Ann Arbor, MI, I enjoyed the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. From fresh berries in the late spring, to christmas gifts and hot chocolate in the December, it was a great place to celebrate my community.

This past week, I had the pleasure of exploring the State College Downtown Farmers Market. This provides students and residents an opportunity to enjoy locally grown foods, largely from the nearby Amish farms. Above are two photos of some of the great purchases I made. I tried Tiger-Eye Beans for the first time, which I highly recommend, as well as a variety of hot peppers. Django was able to enjoy the haul (see below).

Django enjoying some salad!

If you haven’t enjoyed a farmers market, yet, or you are not sure where the nearest one is, check out this handy website that locates them for you! In the meantime, I have some cooking to do, cheers!

Thanksgiving is Coming! Let’s Talk Turkey!

Thanksgiving is around the corner! If you are like me, you are waiting for an excuse to put work aside and see your family and loved ones, perhaps hit the bar with old friends! In the meantime, preparations are necessary. This Thanksgiving, choose compassion over violence, and for that matter, balance out your gluttony with some pacifism! Last month, I posted about my trip to the wonderful Farm Sanctuary, a shelter for rescued farm animals, that provides both advocacy and education about a lot of the animals we take for granted. During this Thanksgiving season, they are promoting an Adopt-a-Turkey program. On behalf of the Penn State Vegetarian Club, others and myself adopted one of the friends we spent time with at the Watkins Glen, NY sanctuary: Turpentine! (pictured below). Sponsorships start at a very reasonable $30 dollars. This is something great to do yourself or with family or friends. This Thanksgiving, don’t enjoy a turkey, enjoy it with a turkey!


Turpentine at Farm Sanctuary! Mark Suchyta, Urban Hermits