All posts by Kate Lawrence

Backyards into Barnyards Is A Bad Idea–Denver’s Proposed Food-Producing Animals Ordinance

A draft of a measure known as the Food-Producing Animals Ordinance is making its way toward a vote by the Denver City Council (a date has not been set yet for the vote.). The measure is intended to replace the current permit system for Denver residents wishing to keep small livestock animals.  The permit system provides for a city inspection to be sure the site is appropriate, requires neighbors to be notified when someone wants to raise these animals, and charges a fee for the privilege.  The proposed ordinance eliminates these safeguards, allowing any resident to keep up to 8 hens (no roosters) and two dwarf goats (no adult males) without any notification or inspection. We urge defeat of the ordinance–backyards into barnyards is a bad idea. Continue reading Backyards into Barnyards Is A Bad Idea–Denver’s Proposed Food-Producing Animals Ordinance

Not Enough for Everyone’s Greed

We don’t have to look far to learn of ways we have exhausted the resources of our planet, and driven countless species to extinction, by our addiction to more, more, more.  Recently I read an example of how this played out on the American continent over 150 years ago.  The following is not meant to support meat-eating, but rather to relate how another group depleted their food supply past the point of no return. Continue reading Not Enough for Everyone’s Greed

The Ten Trusts

The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love, by Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff.  Harper San Francisco, 2003.

Goodall, along with co‑author Bekoff, begins by relating true stories of clever and caring animal behavior, such as extrasensory (to us) perception, astounding migration over great distances, and saving the lives of humans or individuals of other species.  She follows this up with a review of issues relating to animal cruelty: medical research and student dissection, circuses and zoos, fur, meat‑eating, poaching and deliberate habitat destruction, and much more.  The authors’ tone is friendly, not designed to overwhelm with too much detail of abuse, and filled with encouragement that whatever kindness‑‑no matter how small‑‑an individual can do for an animal matters.  Even giving up meat for one day a week makes a difference. Continue reading The Ten Trusts

A Thanksgiving Reading

In Denver, the Vegetarian Society of Colorado holds an annual event on Thanksgiving Day, attended by about 100 people. This year I’ve been asked to take the stage to give a reading along the lines of a table grace. We make it non-religious, though, in order to accommodate a diverse audience.  I post it here, in case anyone reading this might want to use it: Continue reading A Thanksgiving Reading

On a Dollar a Day

On a Dollar a Day: One Couple’s Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America, by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard.  Hyperion,  2010.

 I always enjoy reading about people who care enough to look closely at their values and how well they are incorporating those values into their everyday lives.  This likable California couple takes a close and compassionate look at one of the most powerful aspects of how we live: our food choices.  These two are vegans, so they’re already eating in a way that will require the least resources, but they want to go further, in order to better understand what poor people face. Continue reading On a Dollar a Day

The Engine 2 Diet

The Engine 2 Diet, by Rip Esselstyn.  Wellness Central, 2009.  Watch video and learn more:

In case there is any lingering doubt that veganism is for guys—and not only average guys, but tough athletic guys–here’s a book to dispel it.  Esselstyn, an All-American swimmer and long-time professional triathlete, became a firefighter over ten years ago.  To help his fellow firefighters reduce their life-threatening high cholesterol and overweight, he developed his Engine 2 Diet plan, based on research about plant-based diets done by his father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D. and Dr. Colin Campbell (who contributes a foreword to the book).  The E2 Diet, which excludes not only all animal products but refined flours, refined sugars, and oils, achieved remarkable results in the firehouse, and subsequently received national media attention.  The plan is endorsed by the likes of Lance Armstrong, who sought out the author for dietary advice. Continue reading The Engine 2 Diet

The Life You Can Save

The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part  to End World Poverty, by Peter Singer.  Random House, 2009.  Watch video and learn more:

Would you save the life of a dying child if it didn’t require very much of you to do so?  No risk to your life, no long period of time, no special skills, no great expense?  Nearly everyone says that they would.  Yet we have that opportunity constantly, and few of us respond.

Peter Singer is familiar to most vegetarians as the author of Animal Liberation, the ground-breaking book that launched the modern animal rights movement over 35 years ago.  His latest is a must-read if you’re seriously committed to bringing your beliefs and everyday actions into harmony.  Here he shows how powerful it would be if those of us in the middle class or above would commit to giving even 5% of our income to reputable organizations working to alleviate poverty and disease worldwide.   Continue reading The Life You Can Save

Transforming Anger

On a recent sunny Saturday I was riding home on my bike from a couple of errands and spotted a yard sale.  Because I enjoy browsing at such sales, I stopped and began to inspect the merchandise.  After a few minutes I became aware that a car had pulled up across the street.  A man got out and began arguing with the woman hosting the sale, yelling that she was selling household items that belonged to him.  She explained to us customers that this was her ex- husband.
He: “That stuff you’re selling is mine!”
She: “No it isn’t!  You’re harassing me!”
He: “It is mine! I’m not harassing you, I just want my property!”
She: “You turned it over to me when you left.  If you don’t leave now, I’m calling the police!” Continue reading Transforming Anger

An Unexpected Meeting

I set out on a road trip recently from Denver to Albuquerque.  Still hopelessly in love with the American West–even though I have spent my entire adult life close to the Rocky Mountains–I reveled in the spacious vistas and open skies of the high plains and Front Range.  The interstate highway south of Raton, New Mexico, follows the route of the legendary Santa Fe Trail.

I reflected on a new book I’d read recently, Empire of the Summer Moon, by S. C. Gwynne, about the Comanches and the Western frontier. A cycle of violence, which included torture as well as murder and plunder, went on all across the Americas for centuries before Europeans arrived, and for centuries after, before it culminated in the genocide of the native American tribes.  Another genocide–of the American bison–was carried out at the same time.  In just a few years, many millions of these gentle creatures were shot for their fashionable hides, their flesh left to rot.  It was the largest human-caused near-extermination of a warm-blooded animal in the history of the planet.

And what’s happening now?  Well, we don’t have intertribal raiding and killing going on across our land.  We don’t have bounty hunters shooting millions of animals for their skins.  But is it better?  Now we have billions of animals bred and raised to be killed, and an all-out human assault on the planet’s ability even to sustain life at all.  This was getting depressing to think about, until something unexpected happened. Continue reading An Unexpected Meeting

Food Activism in the ‘Hood

Vegetarian activists have long known that one of the most effective ways to persuade people toward a plant-based diet is by serving them delicious food.  Besides being effective, it’s also totally non-confrontational, and you don’t need to know the fine points of the issues, like why even well-managed grazing is detrimental to the environment.  Just pass the plate.

My neighborhood association gets together with a nearby church for a combined annual picnic on the church lawn in September, which includes a bake-off contest.  Two years ago I entered for the first time with killer vegan cupcakes decorated as professionally as I could manage.  I learned that the judges seemed to prefer plainer looking desserts, overlooking mine and another even fancier offering to award the prize to a very ordinary peach cobbler.  Last year I couldn’t attend the event, but this year I came back with a bake-off entry I thought more likely to succeed.  I presented a vegan chocolate mousse pie (recipe below), in a store-bought crumb crust, decorated with plain coconut flakes, and not actually baked at all.

I won!  Continue reading Food Activism in the ‘Hood