While nobody wants an animal factory in their back yard, it is critical that we band together and work to make sure that these things are “Not in ANYBODY’S Back yard. Also, there is a much bigger story to what is happening that I’d like to share with you.
The Kansas governor, Kansas Department of Agriculture and elected officials in the City of Tonganoxie and County of Leavenworth have disregarded their constituent’s wishes to not live near animal factories, so it is important that citizens of Kansas see and address the much larger picture of what is going on here. People also need to be aware -- satellite "grow-out" houses (the CAFO's) will be scattered throughout northeastern Kansas to supply the Tonganoxie slaughter-processing plant, whether it is situated in Tonagnoxie, or in some other Kansas locale. If Tyson succeeds in getting their plant in -- ANYWHERE in Kansas -- we are all still at risk of having these other, "chicken factories" in our back yards which will have profound, long-lasting negative impacts on our water cleanliness and scarcity, air, soil and livability of much of our state -- and will even the harm our future economic opportunities. Look for example at what has happened to the American rice farmers as a result of Tyson (and other chicken producing companies) feeding arsenic-laced chicken feed to chickens for years. The arsenic passed into the chicken feces, got spread on farm fields, and now almost all domestically produced rice has such high levels of arsenic in it, that more educated American consumers are purchasing only rice grown outside the US. If our public officials TRULY want to support America's economic well-being, they need to embrace a broader lens -- rather than the one they allowed themselves to be exclusively exposed to all these months that they were in secret meetings with Tyson!
While nobody wants an animal factory in their back yard, it is critical that we band together and work to make sure that these things are “Not in ANYBODY’S Back yard. Also, there is a much bigger story to what is happening that I’d like to share with you.
I feel a particular solidarity with our neighbors in Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County because a few years ago, my rural residential neighborhood, outside of Lawrence City limits to the northwest, fought a similar threat. A local developer petitioned the city of Lawrence to island annex a 160 acres that was outside of the zone of growth as outlined in Douglas County’s Horizon 2020 planning document, and to rezone it to heavy industrial. This parcel was surrounded on all sides by rural residentially zoned properties, where families like ours, had built their dream homes on small acreages.
Keep in mind -- when looking at this table -- The population of the US has more than doubled since 1909, and this chart is showing average consumption per person -- so the ACTUAL numbers of cows, pigs, and chickens being raised for food in this country has actually gone up far more than what you'd think from this graph. On top of that, we have an export market of meat from these animals too -- also not accounted for here. In other words, the environmental impact, and the number of people having to live with horrific animal factories close by, is far far greater, compared to 1909, than you would ever guess just from this data here.
Be sure to look at my page with 150 articles explaining the harms associated with Tyson Click HERE.
Please visit my new page where I've assembled articles that are hard to find via Google -- that show Tyson's history of harms.
You've probably heard by now -- Tyson Foods, one of the largest and most vertically integrated meat-packing companies, has been quietly negotiating with Tonganoxie City and Leavenworth County officials to build a 320 million dollar poultry processing complex just North of the I-70 Kansas Turnpike that runs through Eudora, Ks.
Tonganoxie City Manager Brad Brajkovic, explained to me that he and members of the city council signed non-disclosure agreements back in June, in order to learn more details about what Tyson was proposing. He said this was customary when large employers were looking to come to town and did not want any details released to the public, before they were ready, and that officials make such agreements in order to learn details that enable them to calculate if the economic growth anticipated will offset the city and county's costs for infrastructure and services the new business will require.
However it became apparent to me as we talked, that this arrangement had given Tyson 3 months of exclusive time with officials to make a very strong case for how their new complex would bring jobs and economic benefits -- and to do so with no input from consumer or health activists, social justice advocates, environmentalists, proponents of workers rights, or consulting surrounding property owners/residents who bought and built homes in what was zoned, rural residential -- but under this plan could soon be rezoned as industrial and allow the worst possible uses, that no one wants to live next to, and allowed Tyson to secure agreements from key players in our government to advocateTyson's interests to their constituents -- including plans for providing significant taxpayer funding to assist Tyson's business interests.
These secret discussions appear to have created a situation where all levels of our representative government -- from the Kansas Governor on down, are now supportive of not only allowing Tyson to build a facility that will kill over a million birds each week, but also plan to give Tyson an 80% Tax abatement, issue 500 million dollars of industrial revenue bonds for inducement, provide 1.3 million in loans for gas infrastructure, and 6 million in loans for new water treatment facilities --all at Taxpayer cost. In fact within 24 hours of expiration of the non-disclosure agreements -- when the public first became aware of this proposal, not only do elected officials appear to have made the decision to go ahead with all of this before there was any public discussion, but the City of Tonganoxie's website already had links in place encouraging local farmers to apply to Tyson directly to become growers of chickens for them. It is more than apparent, that none of these people realize the catastrophic impact Tyson's business practices have had on farmers, rural towns, employees, animals, waterways, air quality, neighbors and more.
While the Tonganoxie City Manager was very professional and polite to me, and seemed very forthright and open about what was going on, it became clear to me, that he had done little to none of his own research to balance out the sales and schmoozing Tyson had been providing the past three months -- nor to consider the impacts on the entire community -- not just the small subset of citizens likely to reap economic benefit. He was unaware for example the arsenic contaminating most of our nation's rice is traceable to the arsenic Tyson deliberately added to chicken feed for many years to control parasites, and how this has hurt American rice farmers -- as consumers increasingly are refusing to by domestically grown rice, to avoid the arsenic contamination, or that there might even be other really significant harms to his community if Tyson built this complex.
Following that call, I decided that one of the first and most important things I could do, would be to research and assemble an easily accessible list of the documented harms from Tyson's business activities. My hope is that every city council member, county commission member, business owner and citizen of this area or anyone concerned about Tyson's plans will go to my page and at least quickly scroll through the dozens of screen shots of headlines I have assembled (each linking directly to an article) that detail Tyson's many fines, and lawsuits related to violations of worker safety, horrific air and water pollution, and devastating impact on the communities it locates its business in.
No amount of economic growth is worth the tragedy that Tyson will bring -- and it is critical that local farmers, anxious to ride Tyson's coattails, be made aware, that farmers who sign contracts with Tyson have ended up in indentured servitude. Some report feeling pressured to treat animals in their care worse than what they felt ok about -- but couldn't get out of doing so, without risking complete economic ruin.
So please join with me in this effort. If each of us, could reach out to even a few elected officials and a few business owners in Leavenworth county and make them aware of the breadth and depth of harms that a Tyson expansion in Ks will bring, we can send Tyson packing! They cannot proceed, without the land being rezoned to heavy industrial, and I doubt they would do this, if the egregious package of taxpayer-subsidies were withdrawn. That is where we can make a difference. I know that many people are planning protests and while I support those, without truly educating the citizenry and pressuring elected officials to see the real and balanced picture of what Tyson would bring -- protests alone will not prevent this tragedy.
Please take a look at my page: Say, "No" to Tyson in Tonganoxie
Here is a FaceBook Page about this as well.
Unfortunately it appears that Tonganoxie and Leavenworth County officials have already decided to support this -- before there was any public discussion. Even more shockingly the city has a link right from their page to Tyson encouraging local farmers to be, "growers" for this plant....Here are screen shots from Tyson's site that the city has linked to:
In other words --- growers make the most money, when they squeeze the most bird flesh from the least feed, and they will be penalized if they fail to adopt the practices that other growers adopt -- even if these things add to the torture of the birds. For example, cutting off food to birds soon to be transported to the slaughter plant, prevents the "wasting" of feed, because there isn't enough time for the food to be converted into added body weight.
It's a race to the bottom in terms of mistreatment of animals, and employees. Once a farmer signs with Tyson he is contractually obligated to use their feed and to return to them, "their" birds. The farmer however is responsible for the mortgage on his buildings, insurance and labor. If he doesn't tow the line with Tyson and agree to handle the animals the way they dictate, he risks complete economic ruin.
My father looks back with shame at how, growing up in the 1930s/40s, it never even occurred to him that there was anything wrong with elderly black women having to give up their seat on the bus to HIM—a fit, young, white male. He was raised to value fairness and justice – but could not see this injustice that his culture taught him to NOT see, which privileged him at the expense of others. Similarly, some people in the early 1800’s, who, worked to end slavery, opposed women’s suffrage. Today we have some who believe racism to be wrong, but support discrimination based on sexual orientation. Culture desensitizes and enables harms by teaching what is," normal, natural or necessary" to the way of life we are accustomed to. So what injustices are we not seeing -- that future generations will?
The United Nations says that animal agriculture contributes more to climate change then transportation. Using prime farmland to raise animals or grow their feed, increases food insecurity for the global poor, removes habitat from free-living animals and grass-fed systems are worse than conventional, because grass-fed animals use more land, grow more slowly, emit more greenhouse gasses and consume more water before finally being killed for meat. In fact 70% of the water in the western half of the United States is being used for animals or growing crops to feed to animals. During California’s drought, watering one’s private vegetable garden in some places was illegal, while it remained permissible to grow alfalfa, which is one of the thirstiest crops, and is grown only to feed animals, all over California – with much of it being shipped to China and to feed Midwestern “grass-fed” cows. Meanwhile an enormous body of science suggests meat, dairy and eggs are unnecessary for health and that populations consuming the most animal protein, have increased incidences of heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, impotence, osteoporosis and many cancers.
Most people can see that animals have complex emotional capacities and suffer immensely from injury, loss of freedom, having their babies taken from them or sensing they are about to be killed – just like us. Most people agree it is wrong to cause harm to an animal for reasons other than our survival, yet here in America, it is not only unnecessary for us to exploit animals to live, doing so is now placing the human population at risk, via climate change, freshwater depletion, biodiversity loss, and the chronic diseases eating animals promotes.
You can do something to address all of this: GO VEGAN
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As my good friends know, I am always on the lookout for new science that may shed light on lifestyle options that may be helpful for preventing or reversing various common health issues-- and then sharing this information with those I think might have an interest in it. I had just been privately emailing a new study that I found, suggesting reversal of Hashimoto's Disease might be possible, to several friends when it occurred to me that with thyroid disease as prevalent as it is -- this one might be worth sharing on my blog and in my newsletter -- as thyroid disorders are becoming extremely common.
First a little background. Hypothyroidism is what results when the body has too little thyroid hormone, and is usually evidenced by an increase in the blood TSH levels. Hyperthyroidism is the result of too much thyroid hormone and is associated with depression or lowering of the TSH. Low thyroid or the "hypo" form is far more common and in the US is most often caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Graves Disease is also an autoimmune thyroid disease, but it results in an overactive thyroid and too much thyroid hormone.
There has been evidence for some time, that both Hashimotos and Graves, may be triggered and even maintained by the consumption of gluten, in genetically susceptible people. There is also evidence that about 2/3 of Americans probably carry the genes to become gluten intolerant, that the incidence of gluten intolerance is increasing, and that many people who would benefit from a gluten-free diet, are negative by every single currently used diagnostic test for gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease.
However, it is likely that once enough damage has been done to the thyroid as a result of exposure to gluten, simply going gluten free may not be enough to enable the thyroid to function optimally again. However complete elimination of gluten would still be important, because there is evidence that the risk of developing additional autoimmune diseases, and other health problems increases over time with the continued exposure to gluten. If you want to learn more about science on this issue, the folks down in Jackson Mississippi recorded and posted a talk I gave there on this subject awhile back. Click on the image of me giving this talk below to watch that video.
So now I'd like to share with you an interesting study that might suggest some additional possibilities for healing thyroid dysfunction. The study was published earlier this year in the International Journal of Endocrinology. Clicking on the image below will take you directly to the study, in case you would like to read it for yourself.
This study basically took people with diagnosed but very early Hashimoto's Disease (and one person with Graves Disease) and had them take Inositol and selenium for six months. They demonstrated significant normalization of TSH in this population, which translated into noticeable improvements in well-being.
If someone is already taking thyroid replacement for hypothyroidism and tries this protocol, they would probably want to carefully monitor thyroid function -- and taper medications as necessary, or else they could experience hyperthyroid symptoms and/or have the medication interfere with the body's attempts to heal and normalize the endocrine system. I will add, I am not a medical doctor, and am sharing this information for educational purposes only. If you are interested in trying this you should consult your appropriate health-care provider. : )
The Peaceful Revolution
In 1942 President FDR – husband to social justice hero Eleanor Roosevelt, signed an executive order that forcefully removed law-abiding Japanese-Americans from their homes and put them in prison camps. There was little outcry. In the 1970s, our government, along with medical doctors forced African American men to endure late stage syphilis just to see what would happen. Few with knowledge of this objected. America history began with violently removing the native people. Ardent abolitionists of the 1800’s opposed giving women the right to vote, and today there are caring people who staunchly support civil rights for people of color but oppose marriage equality for LGBTQ identifying individuals. In the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, we learn that a large American hospital in the 1950’s injected cancer cells into hundreds of patients without consent, and the only people to object were three Jewish doctors – whose views were marginalized as being, “overly sensitive,” due to the Holocaust having just happened. History is full of similar examples prompting Albert Einstein to say, “The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
One of the most egregious examples of the human capacity to look away and disregard injustice against others is the Holocaust, which prompted us to ask, “how did so many, “normal” people allow such a thing to happen?” The classic experiment by Stanley Milgram sought to answer this, and suggested that over half of us will go along with things that we know harm others if environmental conditions are right, saying, “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process." However, some cultures (and by implication their cultural practices) appear to be less vulnerable to this phenomenon. So it’s worth asking ourselves...What can we do, to promote compassion and foster conditions that make individuals less likely to ignore injustice, and more able to put ourselves in the position of others so that we won’t, “look on and do nothing” when injustice is threatening someone else?
While increasingly the main vote we have is how we spend our dollars, the power of veganism is not due to its boycott of violently produced consumer goods. Rather it is the ripple effect that results each time one of us stands firmly in solidarity with justice, nonviolence and compassion. This inspires those around us to consider their own choice of where to stand. Every major human caused tragedy that has ever plagued the world, was enabled to occur for one main reason: Human beings have the capacity to ignore injustice happening to those we have been taught to, “otherize.” Throughout human history, no group has been more victimized and exploited by this phenomenon than the non-human beings that we eat, hunt, experiment on and use for our entertainment. With BILLIONS of thinking feeling, “others” tortured and killed every year.
By embracing a vegan ethic, three times a day, we participate in an activity that seeks to prevent our complicity in violence and exploitation against the vulnerable, and actually changes brains in ways likely to create more peace and justice in the world. (According to neuroscience research, our thoughts and actions alter brain structure in ways that make it more likely we will have more thoughts and engage in more actions along the same lines.) The example of how we live each day – by modeling a conviction to practice non-violence and compassion for the most vulnerable in our diet, and in what we buy and wear, may be the single most powerful action any of us can take at this time in history. Furthermore, if those in power are successful in drilling more, and thwarting US actions to reduce worldwide carbon emissions, by becoming vegan, we reduce our own carbon and water footprint enormously – but even more important the example we set has a huge ripple effect that could be powerful!
We don’t know what the next few years will bring, that’s why now, more than ever before, becoming vegan matters. Please join this peaceful revolution.
Click HERE for a downloadable PDF of this essay that you can print and share with others.
Back when I was allowed to table at the Kaw Valley Seed Fair, where I gave away hundreds of free vegan food samples and literature (You can read about how I was disinvited from this yearly event HERE) one of my most memorable encounters was with a couple of young women just barely out of their teens. These women, one of whom indicated she had been vegan at one point, told me with earnest conviction that as a result of interning on a small local farm, they now ate animals and no longer found it uncomfortable because they had, “Made peace” with killing them.
Just let those words sink in for a moment.
Amidst floods of people wanting to sample our food and get information, I failed to ask these individuals, one very important question…
“How do you know that your current view justifying eating animals (or their bodily excretions) is truly consistent with your core values about justice, compassion and nonviolence; how do you know that you have just not become desensitized to culturally condoned injustices and violence? (and thus without realizing it have adopted the dominant cultural ideology of the oppressors)?”
Cross cultural anthropology gives insight to the immense pressure humans experience when we attempt to vary from traditions/social norms. We are all profoundly impacted by this.
I suspect these young people who are “at peace with killing” probably consider themselves to be on the forefront of embracing social justice, environmental justice, and abhor “isms” like racism, hetero-centrism, classism, sexism -- so why don't they also abhor speciesism? Like me, they probably seek to promote non-violence and expand its embrace as widely as possible. Yet history shows that those who care deeply about trying to do what is right can have blind spots to other injustices. The World Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840 voted to exclude women from participating and made female delegates sit separate upstairs. Likewise today, some who endorse civil rights for people of color are actively working to withhold those same rights from those who don’t fit our culture’s traditional sexual binary.
It is not possible to feed 7 billion humans on this planet a diet based upon meat or dairy — and have a livable planet for long. Eating animals is NOT necessary for our survival and contributes enormously to human disability. (Cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, some cancers and kidney disease all increase as populations eat more animal foods.) Animal agriculture wastes resources, and destabilizes the very environment we all depend upon to survive. Even one of the best examples of supposedly sustainable animal farming — Polyface Farms — is not capable of sustaining all the animals it raises without importing feed grown elsewhere!
Few recognize that the alternatives to industrial production of meat, dairy and eggs, are even more classist (but attractive to those who can afford to pay more in order to let their conscience go back to sleep.) It takes more land, water and energy to provide the same calories eating animals as opposed to just eating the plants (they would eat) directly.
YET EVEN MORE LAND is required using “grass-fed” systems because grass-fed animals grow more slowly and live longer (emitting more methane too!) before humans kill and eat them. To make matters worse, some alfalfa used to feed grass-fed animals in the winter, comes from water-depleted California —further stressing aquifers because alfalfa is one of the most water-consuming crops there is!
But most problematic is that small farms claiming to be “humane” further our societal desensitization. It used to be that when people recognized the similarity of animals they love (pets) to animals they eat, they tended to feel disgust at eating meat. But now those with relationships with small “humane farms” increasingly tell me — they see no problem with eating dogs and cats either! (This is consistent with theories suggesting compassion for animals grew as people moved to cities -- because those living on small farms were desensitized and viewed their very survival as dependent upon enslaving and killing animals -- Like privileged southern Whites of the 1700s who couldn’t see the injustice of slavery.) Growing up on a farm, and being taught that using animals is necessary to survive, can make it hard to SEE the injustice of exploiting other beings— whose interest in living their own lives is quite obviously like ours!
Non-industrial animal farming diverts people who might be ripe to open their hearts and shun the violence altogether, to embracing and ignoring violence when specific rituals are practiced. (“We kill them with such respect”) many have told me. It reinforces a hierarchical exploitative paradigm (the status quo) which actively perpetuates the major challenges currently facing humanity.
You can cherry pick instances where animal agriculture, does not use tons of water, cause devastating pollution, consume excessive energy and contribute to global food insecurity. But those exceptions evaporate if more than a tiny number of humans try to do it. Even though people struggling to find enough to eat, may enhance their survival by eating animals, that does not justify those of us with abundant food options deliberately exploiting other beings, tearing their families and social groups apart, removing body parts without anesthetic or ending their lives prematurely, simply for our pleasure.
Pythagoras, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Louisa May Alcott, The Buddha Henry David Thorough, and Thomas Edison all suggested that as we evolve morally, humanity will come to abhor barbaric and violent traditions that allow us to turn a blind eye to injustices against other sentient beings. So let’s keep moving forward.
(Note from JoAnn -- this essay is an updated version of one I wrote a couple of years back.)
This post adds substance to my Previous Post, How Co-option of Grass Roots Activism Played Out in KC's First VegFest.
When I was making good money working in the corporate world, I had little time to work for good causes. So I put more emphasis upon donating to charities, and hoping that my charitable donations were actually being used in constructive ways. But there is growing evidence that many non-profits not only spend egregious amounts on, "administrative costs," but actually facilitate activity that donors would find disturbing if they were fully aware of what was going on. So increasingly we rely upon third parties to tell us WHICH charities are best. But what happens when those charity evaluators are corrupt?
This 8 min video by Shark shows shocking conflicts of interest are present in Animal Charity Evaluators and their top-selected charities, and one central figure -- a well-known, well-respected figure in the Animal Protection Movement appears to be the common denominator with all of these.
This group called, ACE (Animal Charity Evaluators) tabled at AR last weekend and was actively promoting the idea that people should ONLY give money to ACE's top 3 animal charities in order to have their money do the most good. They had a slick brochure they were passing out that made them look very credible in evaluating WHICH charities were worth giving to. But without critical thinking, those reading this brochure would fail to realize it was essentially using the standard marketing trick I was trained to use when I worked in the corporate sector: reframing the issue to emphasize THEIR criteria. Furthermore, upon closer scrutiny ACE's criteria, which they suggest come from published research, rely too much upon assumptions and bias rather then truly quantifiable facts.
While I think the Shark video linked above is excellent and makes many important points, I totally disagree with their suggestions for reforming and rehabilitating ACE. The evidence presented suggests that this group is so profoundly corrupt --that nothing short of its complete dissolution would be an appropriate response. Further the facts presented lend even more credence to suggestions that I have been hearing for some time, that the top three groups that ACE seeks to enrich: Mercy For Animals, The Humane League, and The Good Food Institute Are also too entangled with this corruption for any person of conscience to support them.
For a more in-depth look at this issue, please be sure to read my previous post.
When I heard that a new group, Voices for Animals Kansas City (VFAKC) was planning to host Kansas City's first VegFest, I was thrilled. Although it seemed odd that they didn't reach out to the longest running animal right's group in the area, Animal Outreach of Kansas, and invite them to participate, I didn't start to have concerns until AOK's founder, Judy Carman inquired about tabling at the Vegfest and was informed that to have a table would cost her 300.00 dollars -- the same as for food vendors, even though she wasn't selling anything, and didn't have that kind of budget. My concerns grew when I found out HSUS and Whole Foods (one of the largest meat retailers in the US.) were both sponsors.
How would messaging at the vegfest be impacted by its sponsors?
Sponsors provide money expecting to get something. Non-profits typically sponsor expecting to expand membership and increase revenue. In the case of VFAKC's Vegfest --- HSUS wasn't just a sponsor, but also provided one of the speakers -- Paul Shapiro.
KC's first VegFest was free and open to the public, and my family went and mingled with other attendees. Our intent was to support and promote veganism by talking with others. When we talked with non-vegans, we shared literature that encouraged veganism. When attendees told us that they were already vegan, we discussed the issue of co-option within the movement and provided them the flyer pictured above (front) and below (back).
Overwhelmingly the people we met expressed gratitude that we were raising awareness of this issue. At no point were we loud or disruptive in any way. We simply spoke respectfully one on one with individuals, and heard no objections.
But in weeks following the Vegfest we heard from a number of people that the Vegfest's main organizer, Dave Swarts, was upset when he learned after the fact that we had been providing this literature to people and he was seeking to block us from attending next year's Vegfest. Dave told others (incorrectly) that we were distributing "Humane Watch" literature. Humane Watch is a well-known front group for animal exploiting industries, that also is very critical of HSUS. Mischaracterizing our hand-out and the website it linked to in this way, may cause those supportive of HSUS to not even look into the substance of what we were saying. After hearing how upset Dave was and that our actions were being misconstrued, my daughter reached out with an email to Dave asking to set up a phone call to discuss what happened, hoping that they could better understand each other's perspective.
12 days later, Dave Swarts replied to my daughter with the following emailed statement and he copied me too:
It is ironic that Dave used the words, "conflict with our brand" in his statement. If we are both working to help animals, why would his biggest expressed concern be his "brand"? Perhaps this definition of co-option HERE can shed some light:
When the vegan movement began in 1944 with the coining of the word, "vegan," it was clearly defined as the exclusion of all forms of exploitation of animals. Keep in mind -- factory farms were not yet known. Nearly all animals were raised on family farms like those being promoted as "humane" by organizations like HSUS.
What does it mean if we begin to ally with those who are profiting off of the exploitation and killing of animals? What is left of our movement, if we are no longer clearly opposed to exploitation and killing of other beings? What does that make our movement a movement for?
Does messaging matter?
One of the speakers at KC's VegFest was Paul Shapiro, a VP at HSUS. As a segue to his endorsement of cultured meat, (Which I have raised concerns about in my post, Cultured Meat, Yellow Rice, Cage Free Eggs, Have YOU Been Duped?) Paul told the audience a tall-tale about how whales benefitted from the transition from whale oil lamps popular in the 1800s to kerosene lamps -- a tale that I have deconstructed in my post, Dangerous Myths that Threaten Animals. Paul used that tale as a metaphor for why people who care about animals should now endorse cultured meat.
Paul also made the following Orwellian statement while on stage:
"We should accept that not all animal raising is the same...In fact if all animals were raised that way [on small farms] we might go do something else with our lives...because there'd be maybe bigger problems."
Why is VFAKC providing a platform for sentiments contrary to real justice for animals? I shudder to think how this messaging (which also included suggesting that ethically, its better to eat beef than chicken) might have influenced attendees. How many people on the verge of considering veganism -- because a vegan spokesperson/leader suggested that embracing or working for "humane" meat/dairy/eggs is a morally acceptable alternative to veganism, will now become consumers of, "happy meat?" instead of embracing veganism? Might this translate into economic benefits for sponsors like Whole Foods and HSUS?
IF you are involved with the group Voices for Animals -- or for that matter, ANY group that is partnering with entities which might present a conflict of interest, I urge you to speak up and raise awareness. Go to their events and dialogue with others who attend. If you are not sure what constitutes a conflict of interest, Tribe of Heart Defined it Here:
Who is VFAKC advocating for -- the animals or their sponsors?
PLEASE do all you can to keep the conversation about industry co-option of grass-roots animal advocacy alive! If you attend VFAKC events, make sure others there know what is taking place and share information. Share this post on your social media, email it to friends who may not be on FB. Print out some of the articles that I have linked to and share them with others. The animals need us to speak up!
If you'd like to know more about how conflicts-of-interest are undermining grass-roots activism and decades of work by sincere activists on behalf of other beings, read Invasion of the Movement Snatchers and When Animal Groups Promote Happy Meat, and watch the video, Happy Meatopia. I would also encourage you to read this excellent post by Gary Francione explaining how the Vegan Society of the UK -- THE very first vegan society ever -- founded in 1944 by Donald Watson has also been, coopted/rebranded.
Something else just bought to my attention is this 2012 article:
Justice For Animals, Respect for Advocates -- Ideas too Dangerous for Corporatized Animal Advocacy?
In this age of reductionist sound bites, fake news, and viral stories, I'd like to address one of the myths that some animal advocates have been touting. Stories matter. They may foster beliefs which can lead us to support actions that are actually harmful.
Multiple stories being told now support the idea, that when it comes to helping animals, historically, technology has done more to decrease harm to animals than anything else, so we who care about animals, should emphasize and support new technologies that might decrease animal exploitation over and above discussing ethics and justice if we want to do the most good.
So one story describes how whaling, which in the 1800's was the major source of fuel for oil lamps throughout the US, began a dramatic decline in the 1850's because kerosene suddenly became available. The takeaway message we are being told, is that the fossil fuel industry (and the new technology it enabled) was great for whales. This story is being used to encourage animal advocates to support the cultured meat industry (a new technology -- but one which also currently requires animal slaughter -- but not as much compared to obtaining meat from a live animal) and the story tellers say is the best hope of reducing harms to animals. Some well-known vegans, employed by large non-profits are devoting their time and resources to promoting cultured meat over and above working to shift the cultural paradigm through authentic vegan advocacy.
So let's take a closer look at the facts. Was the discovery and widespread adoption of petroleum based fuels really beneficial to whales?
It's estimated that 236,000 whales were killed by humans in the entire 19th century -- (a span of 100 years) which included 1846 -- considered the year of, "Peak whale oil." Compare that number to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil spills are a repeat consequence of obtaining petroleum. This single incident was estimated to have killed 25,000 marine mammals. And while most of those individuals were not whales -- that number is just a fraction of all the animals that perished from this accident. But more to the point an article in Nature suggests that in the century beginning a full 50 years AFTER the introduction of kerosene, (that is from 1900 to 2000) the whale genocide caused by humans was 3,000,000. That's a ten-fold increase a full 50 years after the introduction of a technology, that we are now being told was hugely beneficial to these creatures, and the justification for why we should now embrace cultured meat technology, which as it stands right now, has known ethically problematic aspects.
if you want real justice or to meaningfully reduce exploitation and violence of other beings, go vegan and work to raise awareness about veganism as a moral baseline. Most of us already agree that it is wrong to hurt animals unnecessarily, and here in America today, we don't need to intentionally harm other beings in order to live.
I do love the work of both Dr. T Colin Campbell and his Son Dr. Thomas Campbell. I believe my life, and health have benefitted immensely from my knowledge of their work, and I am a regular subscriber to their newsletter, published by the Center for Nutrition Studies. So it was with great interest that I read their article, "A Plant Based Doctor's Take on Choosing a Plant-Based Milk." However I found this article to be incomplete in addressing the wide variety of health concerns that are relevant to such a discussion. So this blog post is not only to honor their work, but expand upon this subject a bit more.
There are many good reasons to leave all dairy products out of your diet. Dairy proteins stimulate the growth of existing cancers, trigger damage to arteries, and trigger Type One Diabetes in genetically susceptible people. Dairy products are loaded with artery clogging saturated fat, and trans-fats, and they contain dozens of hormones, which increase acne and can disrupt our own hormone balance. They are rich sources of environmental contaminants that animal's concentrate in their body and only release these when lactating. Dairy is loaded with pus, and often contains pathogens, not killed by pasteurization -- such as the MAP bacteria, which may trigger Crohn's Disease, and bovine leukemia viruses, which are suspected as a cause of leukemia and breast cancer in humans.
Given the overwhelming science showing multiple harms from dairy, it makes sense to find plant based alternatives to all dairy products (I have an entire page HERE dedicated to just that) however Campbells's article really only addressed the fat, sugar and calorie content of plant-milks, and I have additional concerns:
1) Most plant-milks have added calcium. This is no different than taking a calcium supplement, and the most recent research shows that calcium supplements are associated with increased mortality -- probably by contributing to calcification of the arteries. I'd suggest avoiding the milks with added calcium.
2) Many plant milks also have added chemicals (like carrageenan) which may have some harmful impacts. I recommend avoiding these too. Look for labels that list very few ingredients.
3) Almond milk has some additional concerns. The California Almond Board requires almonds to be pastueurized either by steam or treatment with Propylene Oxide (PPO) a possible carcinogen. I suggest avoiding PPO. You can call the manufacturer to determine which method was used on the almonds in your milk, or buy organic. Natural Grocer's has a statement on this subject too.
4) Because soy is likely to be Genetically modified, which means it could detrimentally alter our gut micro biome, and or have much higher levels of Round-up, and or high levels of BT-toxin, I recommend avoiding soy like the plague -- unless it is certified non-GMO project verified.
5) Some milks are sweetened with barley malt, or have other ingredients that contain gluten -- so I look for those that are gluten-free as well.
Here are examples of soy milks that I buy for my family:
And while I do keep packaged soy milk on hand -- most of the time when I need milk, I make my own from almonds, cashews or sunflower seeds. It's very simple, quick and saves me money. See my post right below this one to learn how.
Did you know that you can make your own fresh, "milk" quickly, inexpensively and even save money? Best of all -- you can easily avoid additives you don't want -- like carrageenan, or added calcium which is very bad for arteries -- as are added sugars and oils. And on top of all that -- you can even have a truly RAW product -- none of the packaged milks are raw, they must be heated to kill bacteria in order to be shelf-stable in the package. For all these reasons, I LOVE to make my own nut and seed milks. It is super easy. All you need is a high speed blender, a brand new ankle-high nylon stocking (or you can purchase a regular nut milk bag -- but I prefer the stocking!) and a bowl or measuring cup that you can stretch the stocking over.
Optional: liquid stevia, maple syrup or vanilla
1) Take a scissor and cut off the top two inches of the stocking -- so that the elastic part at the top is completely removed. (We don't want the substances in the elastic to come in contact with our milk.)
2) Wash the stocking super well with dish soap, carefully and completely rinsing well. Then set the stocking aside.
3) Measure out 1/2 cup of raw cashews, sunflower seeds or almonds and rinse them in a strainer, then place them into the blender. Add one cup of filtered water and blend on high until you have a completely white liquid -- at least a full 60 seconds. Then add the additional 2 cups of water and blend again on high.
4) Stretch the clean nylon stocking over a bowl or large measuring cup as shown and pour the freshly made milk through the stocking. (Note: If using cashews, you do NOT need to do this -- they have so little fiber that you need not filter - just blend and drink!)
5) Lift the stocking off the cup and gently squeeze it to force the liquid out and and collect it in the cup. (see photo below)
For savory dishes -- like making mash potatoes, I use the milk as is. For pouring over breakfast cereal, or drinking as a beverage, I add a few drops of liquid stevia extract, or you could simply stir in your favorite sweetener and vanilla extract. Vary the amount of water used to create a richer product (use less water) or to reduce calories and or cost (use more water.)
Also -- if you can plan ahead...it's nice to soak the nuts or seeds in water for a few hours to overnight -- and then discard the soaking water. This makes the nutrients in your finished milk even MORE bio-available, as nature packages nuts and seeds with enzyme inhibitors that prevent sprouting until enough water is present to insure germination and growth. Soaking removes those.
I've been hearing a lot lately about a new technological advancement that will allegedly save untold numbers of animals and reduce the egregious carbon footprint of meat. It's called cultured meat. Proponents claim that by using a few cells from a cow, pig, chicken or fish and applying cutting edge biotechnology, it will soon be possible to make those cells grow into meat for humans to eat without having to actually raise and then kill an entire animal.
Multiple start-ups have jumped on this idea, and investors are lining up. While the hype proliferates, it's hard to find much transparency from most of the companies trying to lure investors. Without digging deep, you'd be inclined to think we are on the verge of producing meat obtained without having to engage in violence against other beings. But that is not the case.
That's why I have been disheartened to see well-meaning animal advocates jump on the bandwagon to promote cultured meat. Lured by promises of saving animals and then given salaries that make it less likely they will ask hard questions, some animal advocates are now collaborating with animal exploiters -- talk about a conflict of interest. At the present time, producing cultured meat requires ongoing infusion of serum from slaughtered animals, meaning ongoing violence is required to produce it. Proponents claim that this hurdle has been theoretically overcome -- but to my knowledge, no one has yet made this work. Meanwhile, most of the start-ups remain vague about what they are actually doing while trying to avoid real transparency. But one entity, The Cultured Meat Foundation is being honest and is openly disclosing some major hurdles that currently have no solution. But if history is any guide -- the exploitating industries need not worry about this --if they can get some well-meaning animal advocates to collaborate, or to endorse this product they will be more likely to persuade a skeptical public to overcome their revulsion to this technology and buy it.
Once that happens, producers of cultured meat may be less motivated to solve the problem of needing an ongoing supply of newly slaughtered animals to produce it. That won't matter once they have enough people willing to eat it, it will be profitable. But what will matter is that decades of work by grass-roots activists committed to raising awareness that we can live better lives and have more peace and justice by embracing authentic veganism, could be co-opted and neutralized.
Meanwhile, the very people who are likely to be the most resistant to give up eating meat -- the passionate grass-fed, or "natural" crowd will be the hardest to convince to eat cultured meat -- which they rightly view as a cousin of GMO's.
Cultured meat, yellow rice, cage-free eggs -- all three of these are PR wins for egregiously unjust industries. In each case, these are touted to justify, what are otherwise terrible injustices. They serve to placate an undereducated or ethically numbed public, and are highly effective PR even if they never actually live up to their promises. Just look at yellow rice. For over 20 years GMO companies have pointed to it as justification that GMO's can save humanity. But yellow rice has never actually prevented vitamin A deficiency in any population, because major technical problems have never been solved -- but pro-GMO folks for two decades now have held it up as THE example that some GMO foods can actually be good for humanity -- and not just shareholders. (The evidence shows otherwise.) Cage-free eggs is another example. Praised by some animal-advocating groups as better than eggs from battery caged hens, the term cage-free has made it ok for some who claim to care about animals, to continue to economically support exploitation of chickens, while changing the conversation from the injustice of enslaving other beings to condoning enslaving them when it is done with less torture.
Now we have proponents of cultured meat justifying their support of this new technology by suggesting it will help our population transition away from harming animals. To substantiate their perspective they like to point out how development of the automobile (technology) helped animals because it made possible the elimination of the horse and buggy, which was so terrible for horses. So let's take a closer look at the horse and buggy analogy. How many of those who use this example have actually asked this question...Did replacing the horse and buggy with the automobile really result in less harm to animals? Consider how many animals are in fact killed by cars. Consider how the rapid proliferation of highways that must be built for cars impede's migration of many animals. Consider the necessity of fossil fuel to run cars and the devastation that extracting these fuels has heaped upon marine ecosystems and caused many other harms to the environment -- all of which have caused great harm to animals. It is clear that replacing the horse and buggy with the automobile exponentially increased the harms to animals.
At the present time, cultured meat requires violence against other beings, and genetic engineering has no place in a healthy, just food supply. Please if you care about animals and justice for all, work for veganism, not cultured meat and GMO foods.
Call me a proud Mama.
Here is my younger daughter with her boyfriend. When we started on this path more than two decades ago, there were plenty of naysayers -- including our midwife, some doctors and lots of members of our extended family.
Vegan pregnancy, birth and raising a child vegan from the get go, we had few examples to follow, and lots of people tried to scare us from following our convictions, so I spent time at the medical library (before we had internet) to see what the science actually said -- which ended up reassuring us, and we stayed the course. Not only did our daughter survive our experiment -- but she even found a vegan boyfriend...in KANSAS! The times they are a changing.
So here is our younger daughter all grown up. Our older daughter has written about us, "Forcing" veganism upon her too...you can read her thoughts HERE.
Donald Trump is not the cause of our problems. Neither is Terrorism. Trump and Terrorism are symptoms of a culture in decline and a level of consciousness that is prevalent. Most of us struggle to support families and afford health care and these sometimes justify our participation in things at odds with our values. My working for pharmaceutical giant Merck is one example. Years before I finally quit, I knew I was a cog in a company actively undermining health and well-being and even our democracy! It was a trade-off I consciously made in order to have health insurance and the privileges of a living wage. Here’s another example many can relate to -- purchasing chocolate that incentivizes child slave labor (instead of spending a bit more for chocolate that is fair trade.)
Donald Trump’s power and wealth are so beyond comprehension, that if he never earned another dime he could still provide an incredibly privileged existence for his entire family, long into the foreseeable future. Why doesn’t he embrace policies that facilitate justice for the less privileged, compassion for others, and stop trying to punish/silence/scare his critics?
Even if only a tiny bit of what we hear of Trump’s conflicts-of-interest and intentional misrepresentation of facts is true, it’s an egregious record. He has been filmed bragging about his extramarital, aggressive, unwanted sexual advances. Yet most of his supporters appear to be people who consider themselves people of faith or with high moral standards. People unaware of or willing to overlook these things are keeping him in power. Why are they and a majority of our senators, continuing to make Trump our most visible “role model” the driver of our national conversations and the most powerful individual impacting our democracy?
In the final chapter of my book, Compassionate Souls – Raising the Next Generation to Change the World, The case is made that compassionate parenting built on a foundation of attachment, with firm, non-violent boundaries, that meets fundamental needs of our species, is key to creating a better world. That plus a just economic system (including food and healthcare) is key to preventing terrorism too: People who believe they have access to a decent life, plus a worldview that embodies the golden rule (and have good mental health -- which is facilitated by having fundamental needs in childhood optimally met) don’t engage in terrorism, bullying nor seek to enrich themselves to unfathomable levels by doing things that harm others.
It is possible to live in relative peace without real justice – just look at China. Will that be our future -- giving up important freedoms to end terrorism while becoming slaves to an economic engine that benefits only a few?
A widespread change in consciousness is the only way for there to be widespread peace AND justice, and how we raise children is critical to this. Too many of our cultural norms are contrary to the fundamental needs of our species -- like removing babies from mother at birth, forcing newborns to sleep alone or not allowing them to “nurse on request.” making babies or children cry it out alone, spanking them, discipline that is punitive, and/or fails to uphold healthy boundaries...all of these set humans up to feel, “not right” inside, and make us more vulnerable to materialism or to exploiting, bullying or harming others, in our pursuit of what we want. That plus an educational system that encourages competition and acquisition of stuff rather than valuing collective well-being, cooperation, and pursuit of knowledge, is causing extraordinary harm to everyone on the planet.
But each of us CAN be the change. We must open our eyes, be willing to change ourselves and then respectfully dialogue with those who hold different points of view. Here are Five things we can do right now, to be the change:
Even if initially you are unable to persuade anyone to join you in these things, each time one of us stands firmly in solidarity with justice, non-violence and compassion, it inspires others to consider their own choice of where to stand. Without enough people doing just this, power and money will always push the culture towards injustice and inequality. So please, BE THE CHANGE! It is our only hope.
I have an entire page dedicated to Passover, with recipe links and my freely downloadable Haggadah for Holistic Nonviolence on this page.
Before I was vegan, and before I suffered food poisoning severe enough to send me to the hospital, I enjoyed eating gefilte fish. The last time I ever ate real gefilte fish, was when I had come home to my parent's house on a break from college. I wanted something simple and quick to eat, and no one was home. I searched my parent's refrigerator. That's when I spotted it -- a quart sized glass jar with several of the football shaped, beige colored fish patties. I noticed that the gelatinous sauce they usually swam in was missing, but thought nothing else of it, as I dumped a couple gefilte fishes onto a plate, smeared them with lovely ruby colored horse-raddish sauce and quickly devoured them.
Some hours later (I don't recall exactly how long) my stomach started hurting. It quickly got so intensely painful, that my father -- who was home by this time, put me into the car and headed to the ER. This is the only time I had ever been rushed to the ER. The doctor did a very superficial exam, asked me almost no questions, ran no lab tests and then told me that he suspected I had acute appendecitis and was going to prep me for exploratory surgery to confirm his hunch. THANK GOD -- i had recently read Dr. Robert Mendelsohn's fabulous book, Confessions of a Medical Heretic. In addition to arriving at the hospital with acute abdominal pain, I also came with some health-preserving skepticism. It helped too, that I had also just taken a class as an undergrad called, The Fundamentals, of Food Processing, taught by what I believed to me the present day incarnation of Betty Crocker herself. Although the class was absurdly biased towards the processed food industry, I did get one thing of value from it -- I came away appreciating how common, how varied, and how under-diagnosed was food poisoning. "There is no 24 hour flu" my teacher said over and over. "It's food poisoning!"
In response to the threat of being cut open, I began to ask the doctors some questions like...."are there any tests short of surgery that you can run to indicate whether or not this might be my appendix?" The ER doc stormed out of the room in a huff. I was then left alone in the ER room, long enough to speculate that they must not really have considered me THAT much in danger of sudden death, since they were leaving me alone so long. That's when I started to notice something. My pain was starting to subside. Eventually the doctor returned to try to bully me into agreeing to his surgery, but by this time, I was feeling much better. I was also starting to connect the quick onset and quick resolution of my symptoms with what I had been learning about in my food processing class. Shortly after that my Dad and I just simply walked out of the ER against doctor's orders. When I got home and told my mom that I suspected I'd gotten food poisoning from something, she told me that in fact the gel sauce in the gefilte fish jar had looked, "off" to her, so she dumped it out, rinsed the fish patties under running water and returned them to the jar. That was the last time I ever ate gefilte fish.
For reasons I can't explain, after I became vegan, and started thinking about how to veganize various traditional Passover foods, I became obsessed with finding a vegan alternative to gefilte fish. Chef Ron Pickarski had a gefilte fish recipe in one of his books, but it did not work well for me. Year after year I would try something else. Year after year I was disappointed. Then last year I stumbled upon the website of The V Word, which had a recipe for gefilte fish and used an entirely different approach to make them from any I had tried before. I was actually pleased with the results -- however still not completely satisfied. So this year, newly inspired, I set about tweaking Rhea's recipe, I added Jack fruit to balance out the chick pea flavor. I increased the amount of kelp powder. I substituted lemon pepper for the lemon rind and pepper-- which saved time and worked better for me, reduced the amount of oil to make it healthier, and added agar powder, to help it all hold together and be firmer. Finally, I created a gel sauce to go with it -- as this was an important part of making it seem more authentic to me.
Gefilte fish should be served with horseradish sauce. But when I searched stores in town, I could not find a single one that had the stuff I remember -- which was colored with beet juice and made from just a few wholesome ingredients. The stuff I found had things in it I would never eat -- like cottonseed oil plus a long list of other stuff, that was completely unnecessary -- and it wasn't red! So i bought a horseradish root and made my own. The result of all this innovation is below -- I hope you like it. This makes about a dozen Gefilte Fish-less patties.
Ingredients for Patties
1 tsp Olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cups chopped carrots (about 2 large ones)
1 1/2 cups chopped celery (about 2 large stalks)
4 cloves of garlic (diced)
3 cups of freshly cooked chickpeas (or two cans)
1 can of Jackfruit in brine, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp lemon pepper
2 TBS Old Bay seasoning
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 TBS kelp powder
1 TBS dulce flakes
2 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp agar powder
Ingredients for Gel Sauce:
1 1/2 - 2 cups of leftover liquid from cooking the chickpeas (or the liquid from can)
1/2 cube of Rapunzel bouillon
1 clove of garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp of kelp powder
1/4 tsp agar powder (optional - to make sauce gel better)
1) Rub the teaspoon of olive oil over the bottom of a large skillet. Turn heat to medium high and when oil is hot, add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes stirring often, then add the drained chickpeas, chopped jack fruit, salt, lemon pepper, Old Bay, Cayenne, kelp and dulce stir well and turn heat to low.
2) While vegetables are on low, measure the 2 TBS of lemon juice into a cup and stir in the agar powder. Drizzle this mixture over the vegetable-chickpea mixture and stir well. Let simmer for 3 more minutes stirring often to keep it from sticking. Turn off heat, cover pan and let sit five minutes.
3) Transfer mixture to a food processor fitted with an "S" blade. Do this in two batches if processor is not big enough to do it all at once and then transfer it all to a bowl so you can mix both batches together.
4) Line a cookie tray with parchment paper, and using a large spoon, glop 12- 15 little foot-ball shaped blobs of the mixture onto the tray as shown in this photo:
5) Place the tray into the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This will allow the patties to firm up enough that they can be handled, then you can nicely form them into the traditional shape of gefilte fish. Once nicely formed return tray the refrigerator while you make the sauce.
6) To make the sauce, place the chick pea liquid, half cube of bouillon, clove of garlic, 1/4 tsp of black pepper, 1/2 tsp of kelp powder and agar if using into a blender, blend until well combined, transfer to small pot and bring to a boil. Then let this liquid must cool completely before you put it over the patties -- or else it will cause them to fall apart. When sauce has gelled, remove patties from tray and carefully arrange them into covered casserole dish, and drizzle the sauce over them. They can be eaten right away or stored in this sauce for several days in the refrigerator. These are best served with horseradish sauce.
You can make a horseradish sauce by peeling and chopping fresh horseradish root and placing it into the blender. Add about half as much chopped raw beet root, and just enough rice vinegar to help it all blend. blend on high, stopping to scrape down sides a few times. Be careful it's pretty hot!
Be sure to use UNRIPE Jackfruit that is packed in BRINE, not the ripened sweetened stuff!
Use Agar powder -- not flakes.
Here is yet another recipe that I will be serving at the upcoming Passover Seder I am helping to coordinate at ECM on the campus of the University of Kansas. While most of my blog posts are NOT recipes...my blog has been heavy with recipes as of late, as I work out the details for the menu for this unique Passover Seder, based upon the philosophy of Holistic Non-violence. Please visit my PASSOVER PAGE to learn more about this event, see the entire menu, or find out how to purchase tickets from ECM.
Please note -- because many coconuts now are harvested using enslaved monkeys (captured from the wild as orphans, after their mothers are killed) it is very important to only purchase coconut products from companies that you are certain are not obtaining their coconut in this way. Let's Do Organics, is one such company. When I can find it, I prefer their, "reduced fat" shredded coconut. It works just as well in recipes, but has less calories and fat than their regular shredded coconut. Take a look and notice the difference in serving sizes between the two products as well:
2.5 TBS Regular Coconut 4 TBS Reduced Fat Coconut
Calories 90 70
Total Fat 10 6
Saturated Fat 9 5
Protein 1 1
Carbs 4 4
Although it does take some time to form each individual macaroon, this recipe is otherwise extremely simple to make.
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup ground golden flax seed
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups Let's Do Organics Shredded Coconut
This pilaf is actually pretty simple to make, but chopping all the vegetables can be time consuming. If you are in a hurry, you could use 2 lbs of mixed frozen diced vegetables and small can of mushrooms in place of chopping all the veggies (with the exception of the onion and garlic). This makes a really large amount -- enough to serve 4 -5 really hungry people as a main course. Or it makes a great side dish to serve a crowd or take to a potluck.
2 cups quinoa
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine
1 medium onion diced
8 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
4 stalks of celery diced
2 carrots diced
1/2 of a sweet red bell pepper diced
8 oz of button mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp powdered rosemary
2 more TBS of red wine
3 TBS of organic wheat-freetamari
1/2 tsp black pepper.
I have an entire page dedicated to Passover, with recipe links and my freely downloadable Haggadah for Holistic Nonviolence on this page.
Some time after I got off gluten about a decade ago, I came up with a simple (but not very good) substitute for traditional matzah balls, for use in my family's annual celebration of Passover. I would cook millet, with turnips and then mash these up and form into balls which I would bake in the oven. Each time I did this, I always hoped (rather unsuccessfully) that at least part of a ball might stay together for a few minutes after adding it to the soup. These were very "no frills" matzah balls, but what they lacked in culinary pleasure, they compensated for in ease of preparation, enabling me to put more time and energy into the rest of the menu.
But this year, memories of light, fluffy and fully cohesive matzah balls came flooding back to me, and I found myself newly inspired to see if I could come up with a gluten-free vegan matzah ball that would delight. I began by looking at lots of different recipes for traditional matzah balls and the first thing I noticed was that eggs were a major ingredient in traditional matzah balls. That gave me the idea to experiment with Follow Your Heart's new vegan egg product -- and it turned out to be THE perfect ingredient to include to do justice to my childhood memory of matzah balls. Furthermore, these balls freeze and thaw really well -- meaning they can be prepared far ahead of time, so that they are ready to use the day you make soup, without increasing that day's work load. Below is the result of my effort. Let me know what you think!
Ingredients for Matzah Balls:
1 medium potato
3/4 cup quinoa flakes
3 TBS tapioca powder
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 TBS Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg powder
3/4 cup ice cold water
1/4 cup club soda
Additional 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes
Directions for Matzah Balls:
1) Scrub potato, remove eyes and put it into a small pot, cover with water and boil for about 15 minutes until soft. Remove skin and push potato through a ricer (or you could just dice it with a knife into VERY tiny little pieces -- the size of rice.)
1) Mix 3/4 cups of quinoa flakes, tapioca, dill, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add the finely chopped or "riced" potato and stir well.
2) Blend the Vegan Egg powder with the 3/4 c of cold water on high in a blender and then add this to the dry mixture in the bowl, along with the club soda. Use a fork to blend well. Refrigerate this mixture for at least 30 minutes before proceeding.
3) Remove chilled mixture from refrigerator and sprinkle with the additional 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes to keep it from sticking to your hands and make rolling into balls easier. Roll into 20 matzah balls -- each about the size of an unshelled walnut.
4) Get a large pan and fill it just two and half inches deep with water, sprinkle a bit of salt into it and bring it to a rolling boil. Place 10 of the balls into this pot, bring it back to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes covered. Remove the balls with a slotted spoon and repeat the process with the other ten matzah balls. Add the matzah balls to the soup just before serving.
The Matzah balls can be made ahead of time and frozen for use later. That makes making the soup the day you want to serve it a snap! Then you simply need to add frozen matzah balls to the hot soup and they will thaw right in it!
2 tsp olive oil.
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
3 stalks celery diced
3 carrots sliced thin
1 medium potato diced
1/2 cup chopped celery leaves
1 cube of Rapunzel Bouillon
8 cups water
2 TBS fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dried dill leaves
1 recipe of matzah balls (from above)
1) Smear one teaspoon of the olive oil over the entire bottom of a large covered pot. Then place the second teaspoon right in the middle of this. Place pan on burner on high for one minute and then add the diced onion. Stir frequently while cooking on high just until the onion starts to brown. Add the garlic and turn down heat cooking for another minute. Then add the celery and continue cooking and stirring intermittently for three more minutes.
2) Add the carrots, potatoes, celery leaves, cube of bouillon, water parsley and dill. Cover and return heat to high until it boils. Add matzah balls and remove from heat (unless they are frozen -- then continue heating until the balls are hot. Serve right away.
I hope you enjoy my latest creation. A gluten-free, oat-free, whole-foods-plant-based lentil loaf that is completely salt, oil and sugar free too! While there are many different lentil loaf recipes all over the internet, and few of them have quite this many ingredients in them, my goal in creating this recipe was to come up with something that was not only gluten -free, (and free of oats which I don't eat-- even if they are certified gluten-free oats) but also made without oil and tasted good without the addition of salt. The combination of all the different vegetables -- especially beets with all the herbs, seems to do the trick! This makes 8 servings if served with a salad and other sides, or as a one-dish meal, it would serve four.
2 1/2 cups dry brown lentils
4 cups filtered water
1 1/2 cups chopped raw walnuts (measure AFTER chopping)
1 cup grated beets
1 cup grated carrots
2 cups finely diced celery
1/4 cup wine
2 cups finely diced onion
5 large cloves of garlic minced
1 cup filtered water
1/3 cup ground golden flax seed
1 tsp agar powder
2 TBS onion powder
1 TBS dried parsley leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chick pea flour
1) Place lentils into a two quart pot and pick through them looking for debris to remove (I have found wheat berries in my lentils on occasion.) Fill pot with water and swish lentils around a few times, then drain through a strainer. Repeat this several times until you feel certain lentils are clean. Return drained lentils to pot and add 4 cups of filtered water to pot, cover and heat on high until pot comes to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed and lentils are soft (about 15-20 more minutes.) Remove from heat and let sit covered.
2) While the lentils are cooking, chop walnuts into fine pieces until you have 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped walnuts. Place these into a dry, fry pan and heat on medium on stove, stirring frequently just until they begin to brown, then remove from heat.
3.) Place the wine into a large skillet, turn on high and add the onion. Saute for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking until the wine is gone. Add the celery and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently to keep vegetables from sticking. Then add the grated beets and carrots, stir well, cover and turn heat to low. Allow to cook another five minutes.
4) Place 1 cup of filtered water, the ground flax seeds and agar into blender and blend on high until it is like egg white. Add 1 cup of the cooked lentils to this mixture and blend until smooth. Next add 1 cup of the vegetable mixture and again blend again until smooth.
5) Place into a large bowl, the remaining lentils, toasted walnuts, remaining vegetable mixture, the herbs, and chick pea flour and mix all these together well. Then stir in the contents of the blender and mix well with a spatula until it is all evenly moist.
6) Divide the mixture between two parchment lined bread loaf pans, or a glass baking dish large enough that the lentils aren't more than two or two and half inches deep, and firmly press it into the pan and smooth the top. Place into an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before lifting parchment from pan and slicing the loaf. Serve hot with sauce, and leftovers are great served cold too!
I have an entire page dedicated to Passover, with recipe links and my freely downloadable Haggadah for Holistic Nonviolence on this page.
Writing this post is presenting some additional challenges. I just pulled a tray of these Matzahs from the oven, and although I was able to restrain myself from eating them long enough to take a few photos of my finished product, I can't seem to stop eating them now, which is making typing this post harder than usual.
After several disappointing attempts, I finally came up with something that not only tastes good and stays together, but also remains fairly flat instead of having the edges curl up after baking. I've been making all sorts of oil-free crackers for many years, but none of them so far would work as a substitute for matzah because they just didn't look the part at all.
Now I should warn you --what I have created here, would not pass muster with any Orthodox rabbi in terms of being kosher for Passover -- a special type of kosher that involves a lot of additional rules, like for example you have under 18 minutes from the time you mix the flour with water before you get it into a hot oven -- otherwise yeast might start to grow and cause the matzah to be leavened. Furthermore It is a mitzvah -- in fact a commandment, to eat properly made matzah on the first night of Passover, but to fulfill this, matzah must be made of one of these five grains -- wheat, spelt, barley, rye or oats. No exceptions. Some people who are gluten intolerant do eat oats -- if they are grown, handled, and processed to prevent cross contamination. But others do not. For very observant Jews, who are gluten intolerant and don't eat oats, this presents a conundrum that I do not have a solution for. But for those, who want to honor the spirit of Passover by having seders, and retelling the story of liberation from slavery -- and aren't concerned with following all those rules, my recipe may be just the thing you were looking for to make your seder inclusive for those who don't consume gluten. It's actually a very simple recipe, but does take time to roll out the dough thinly. This recipe makes six large crackers -- or one big tray (15 x 20 inches). So you might wish to double it.
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup white rice flour
additional rice flour for rolling out dough
1/2 cup water
2 TBS ground golden flax seeds
1/4 tsp guar gum
Unbleached parchment paper
I think these taste great without adding any salt, but if you are used to a fair amount of salt, you might want to sprinkle some salt on these right before putting them into the oven.
I also think they taste best right out of the oven -- but have found that several days later, you can reheat them in the oven right before serving them and they are just as good.
One final note I'd like to add is that some traditions consider legumes and rice to be verboten during Passover. The Chabad website has written about this subject Here. But I am troubled by this perspective.
In essence as I understand this, back about 800 or so years ago, some rabbis got the idea, that out of an abundance of caution, beans and rice and other healthy plant-deprived foods that are clearly NOT chometz (one of the five special leavened grains) should be avoided on Passover. This tradition took hold in some, but not all geographic areas, and has now become a source of division amongst Jews from different places.
It appears to me that Chabad's only concern about this custom is the fact that it divides Jews. But they completely ignore an important problem here, namely that this custom has the additional consequence of encouraging and increasing consumption of meat, dairy and eggs (all of which they do consider Kosher for Passover).
There are several problems with this:
1) Environmental organizations have stated that animal agriculture is a major cause of the most serious environmental problems facing humanity today,
2) In order to obtain meat, dairy and eggs, humans must engage in the practice of making other beings into, "chattel property" and "owning" them, which seems contrary to the spirit of Passover.
3) Eating meat, dairy and eggs, has been clearly shown to contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many cancers -- the leading causes of death and disability in the Western world today.
4) Rearing animals for food, means large amounts of grain and beans get fed to animals -- a very inefficient use of resources (it takes many pounds of grain to produce a single pound of meat) contributing to food insecurity for the poorest humans, while 70% of grain grown is for animal feed. Also while many areas of the US experience drought, the major use of water is for animal agriculture.
I think it is time that Jews speak up, and encourage religious leaders to address this glaring hypocrisy that undermines many of the important ideas that Torah appears to embrace: feeding the hungry, healing the world, protecting human health, compassion for animals, and taking care of G-d's creation.
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