Marc Bekoff on Vegan Activism

Recently I attended a talk and book signing at Tattered Cover Bookstore given by Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and bestselling author.  His new book is Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation ($15.95 New World Library).  He spoke for an hour on a variety of topics, including animal intelligence, human/animal relationships, and how we humans often depreciate the skills and capabilities of non-human animals.  An example of the latter is that when people misbehave, we sometimes say they are “acting like animals.”  Or perhaps we might consider sounds made by another species as primitive, when actually what we are hearing is a complex language.

As an activist encouraging people to cut back or eliminate the consumption of meat and other animal products, I was particularly interested in what he had to say about animals used for food.  Continue reading “Marc Bekoff on Vegan Activism”

AARP Promotes Veganism

Yet another sign of veganism’s increasing acceptance among the general public: the interview with Bill Clinton in the Aug/Sept. issue of AARP The Magazine.  Titled “My Lunch with Bill,” it’s all about his vegan diet, and filled with superlatives.  “I’m struck with a dazzling kaleidoscope of a dozen delicious dishes,” described with obvious delight by author Joe Conason.  “We sit down and with great relish start passing plates back and forth.”  And from Clinton: “I have so much more energy now!  I feel great,” adding later, “I decided to pick the diet that I thought would maximize my chances of long-term survival.” Continue reading “AARP Promotes Veganism”

My Beef with Meat

My Beef with Meat: The Healthiest Argument for Eating a Plant-Strong Diet–Plus 140 New Engine 2 Recipes, by Rip Esselstyn.  Grand Central Life & Style, 2013.

Rip Esselstyn’s second book–following The Engine 2 Diet–is clear, concise, down-to-earth, at times humorous, and will surely answer most questions people have about why we should be eating whole plants instead of animal products and processed food. This is a quick, go-to guide for such topics as protein, calcium, iron, what’s wrong with paleo, why grass-fed is no better than grain-fed, why oils should be avoided, and numerous other topics. Although mostly about health, the book also comments on animal suffering and the environment. And the recipe section!! I can hardly wait to try some of them. I was fortunate to hear the author live earlier this month at a local bookstore, and was impressed with his command of issues and facts, his friendly style, and the enthusiasm he conveyed. He’s an excellent ambassador for a healthier America.

The Ethics of What We Eat

The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.  Rodale, 2006.

At least three times a day, we all make choices that have profound ethical consequences: what we eat.  After interviewing three actual families about the foods they choose and why, authors Singer and Mason track down producers of these commonly-eaten foods and examine the means of production.  Noting that “no other human activity has had as great an impact on our planet as agriculture,” they show how animals, our land, and oceans are treated in that process.  The book is not a vegetarian polemic, although both authors are vegetarians.  Rather it provides a  balanced investigation of hidden factors in food production, and asks readers to make the kindest choices they possibly can.  It is, however, strong in its condemnation of factory-farmed meat, eggs, and dairy products: “Since factory farming inflicts a vast quantity of unjustifiable suffering on animals, persuading others to boycott it should be a high priority of anyone concerned about animals.” Continue reading “The Ethics of What We Eat”

Twenty-Five Years A Vegan

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 “Twenty-Five Years A Vegan”

The Barrage of Turkey Advertising

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 “The Barrage of Turkey Advertising”

Vegan Dining in Kansas City

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 “Vegan Dining in Kansas City”

Vegan For the Holidays

Vegan For the Holidays: Celebration Feasts for Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, by Zel Allen.  (Book Publishing Co., 2012).

Zel Allen is known to many vegans as the co-publisher, along with her husband Reuben, of Vegetarians in Paradise Internet magazine and author of a previous cookbook The Nut Gourmet. After four years of creating and testing holiday recipes, she has now released her latest offering, and what a gift to vegan cooks it is!
Reading her acknowledgments, I was impressed with Zel’s tenacity–she remarks that she kept working on one recipe even after it failed four times.  Reading her recipes, I was impressed with her skill in putting together unusual combinations of tastes while still keeping within the framework of the dishes traditionally associated with these holidays.  Continue reading “Vegan For the Holidays”

Are Vegans Falling into the Consumer Trap?

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 “Are Vegans Falling into the Consumer Trap?”