Organizers of the Green Book Festival, to be held later this month in San Francisco, have announced the winners of book awards in over a dozen categories.* I learned of this because a book to which I contributed a chapter was the winner of the Business category. The book, Greening Libraries, published by Library Juice Press in 2012, showcases librarians who have pioneered ways to educate their patrons about environmental and sustainability issues.
My chapter, “Library-Sponsored Sustainable Living Outreach in Denver,” describes programs I and a few other librarians working for the Denver Public Library have implemented toward that goal. [I am now retired, but worked as a DPL librarian for 14 years.] These programs included successfully urging a large library fundraising event to “go green” with recyclable table service, locally produced foods, and website information about libraries’ environmentally beneficial aspects. Continue reading
This month I observed the 25th anniversary of the date I committed to be a vegan– to do the best I possibly could not to eat, wear, or use anything from an animal. Using the ballpark figure of 95 animals saved per year by each vegan–and it may be higher–I’ve saved 2,375 animals just by choosing different foods. I’ve also substantially cut my contribution to environmental degradation, and improved my health. Pretty impressive results for just picking up the bean burrito instead of the beef, choosing a tofu add-on instead of chicken, saying, “can I get that without cheese?”, “no butter on the popcorn, please” and similar minor actions. Continue reading
I was involuntarily enrolled in an ongoing personal Caregiving 101 course last December 5 when my husband Keith Akers suffered a mild stroke. I, as well as everyone else who knows him, was shocked that a fit, trim, long-term vegan with ideal blood pressure numbers would find himself in this situation. Doctors confirmed he had no aneurysm, no torn artery, no clots, no atherosclerosis; apparently a small capillary or vein burst. After nine days in the hospital–the first five in Critical Care–he came home, temporarily unable to walk unaided or dress himself.
We are extremely fortunate that he has no permanent damage or loss of function. However, any bleeding in the brain is life-threatening and the healing process can be lengthy. Now eight weeks later, he is mostly back to normal except he still has headaches and tires easily. He has not yet resumed socializing, as he finds that to be the most tiring activity of all. Continue reading
I had the opportunity to attend a pre-release screening of a new documentary, Chasing Ice. The title might sound like another travel/adventure film, and it is, but much more. It may finally take us to the tipping point in convincing the general public that climate change is real and that we must not delay in addressing it.
Environmental photographer James Balog and his crew placed cameras at a couple of dozen places in the Arctic to take time-lapse photos of glaciers over a period of several years. The results are startling and undeniable: glaciers are melting at an unprecedented and astonishing rate. Such indisputable visual evidence, obtained at great expense and under difficult conditions, reaches viewers in a much more dramatic way than previous films like An Inconvenient Truth. We follow the crew as they penetrate remote and highly inhospitable locations to place the cameras and later to retrieve the images. We gain a sense of Balog’s determination to produce the evidence that will stimulate a mass movement to take action. The livability of our planet is at stake, and time is critical.
Find out more, watch the trailer, and check showtimes here. In the Denver area, see it at Chez Artiste Nov. 23 – 29.
November is a tough time for vegans, as the push to connect the Thanksgiving holiday with the sacrifice of innocent turkeys is everywhere. It’s as though the presence of a dead bird on the table is essential to enjoying a feast and expressing our gratitude for food, friends, and family. It is particularly sad to hear the holiday referred to as “Turkey Day.”
Nowhere that I’ve found is the pressure to order someone to kill a turkey stronger than at my local Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage store. They put the dead turkey promo in customers’ faces not once or twice, but seven times at each visit. This began not just two or three weeks before Thanksgiving, but from the beginning of October! Continue reading
Here’s the interview I gave as part of the “Authors at Douglas County [Colorado] Libraries” series:
Just back from a trip to Kansas City to attend my nephew’s wedding, I can offer some suggestions for great vegan dining there. We stopped for brunch at all-vegan Cafe Gratitude in downtown KC Missouri, not far from the beautifully renovated Union Station. The Cafe’s dishes are all identified by affirmations, such as I Am Courageous, I Am Humble, I Am Trusting, I Am Fulfilled, etc. When waitstaff deliver someone’s order they repeat the affirmation of the dish, beginning the statement with “You.” That is, when I ordered I Am Extraordinary, the server placed it in front of me saying, “You are extraordinary.” It’s a nice touch. The “Extraordinary” dish is well-named: a sandwich featuring toasted chipotle-maple coconut “bacon” with cashew aioli, lettuce, tomato and avocado on a bun. The menu features a number of raw entrees as well.
We ordered additional meals as carry-out for the wedding reception that evening. The reception was catered by a local BBQ restaurant, and nothing was vegan. Even the roasted veggies were mixed with grated cheese! While other guests were eating a low-fiber, high-fat, high cholesterol meal, I was enjoying I Am Fortified: quinoa with sauteed veggies and kale, topped with a handful of sunflower sprouts and a delicious garlic-tahini sauce. Cafe Gratitude also has restaurants in California. Continue reading
Surely by this point in history it is a no-brainer that if we want to preserve the planet’s ability to support life, we in the rich countries must cut back our consumption. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to reduce, or ideally completely eliminate, animal products from our diet. Yet vegans, who “get it” about the latter, often seem unaware of the former. In vegetarian magazines I see numerous ads for overseas travel and other luxury “vegan vacations”, for countless gourmet food items and high-fashion clothing and shoes. Every one of these has a carbon footprint to consider, especially flying around the globe for a brief getaway. The food and clothing items have a resource impact in their production, plus the packaging and energy it takes to ship them to our door.
Instead of proving to mainstream society that vegans can live just as decadently as everyone else, we need to question the long-term sustainability of the mainstream American lifestyle. Continue reading
Wildfires have burned in Colorado early and often this year, with unprecedented losses of personal property and forest acreage. Increasing numbers of people–now 1 out of 5 in Colorado- -live in so-called “red zones,” areas at high risk of fires. Climate change has also been a factor, bringing warmer and dryer weather. Throughout the centuries, naturally occurring fires kept forest acreage healthy, but in the last century fires have been largely suppressed, contributing to more growth of underbrush. This growth, allowed to accumulate, gives pine beetles more to chew on, creates more fuel for fires, and makes new fires harder to control. Continue reading
I wrote this response to an argument I heard recently that buying “humanely-raised” meat could reduce animal suffering more than going vegetarian or vegan, because it would increase the market for those products.
I use quotation marks around “humanely-raised” because, for practical purposes, there is no humane way to raise animals for human consumption. “Humanely-raised” animals still suffer.
Most “free-range” chickens, for example, are still crowded tightly in dark, stench-filled sheds and still painfully de-beaked without anesthesia. A small door in the shed leads to a tiny outdoor run; however, very few of the birds are able to cross the crowded shed to access it. “Humanely- produced” dairy products still require cows to be kept constantly pregnant–that’s the only way to get a continual supply of milk–and the newborn calves are still taken away at birth, so that humans can consume milk or cheese. Cows know their own babies and cry out for them long after the calves are taken away. In egg production, only females will eventually lay eggs, of course, so hatcheries kill male chicks right after hatching, seldom humanely. A backyard chicken keeper may be completely unaware of the slaughter that preceded her order from a hatchery of young hens to raise. Continue reading