1) No one should be forced to live near a
2) Prime would increase carbon emissions from
After I wrote my last post, someone emailed me a link to a professional looking website that meticulously laid out a very contrary perspective regarding Donald Watson and his motivations for helping to start the vegan movement. Though the author of that site does not disclose who they are, they went to a lot of trouble to weave together evidence obviously intended to mislead people about the fact that Donald Watson was primarily motivated by wanting to avoid exploiting animals-- while stating that Watson was really most concerned with food and diet.
But then on a different page of the site, as part of the evidence they present there trying to discredit something else, they post an image of the very first vegan newsletter that Donald Watson authored. Though the image they show of the newsletter, does not allow you to read past the first few paragraphs, the actual document -- posted online and by a credible vegan organization does make the entire newsletter readable -- and here, in the fourth paragraph is the source of Watson's famous quote: "We can see quite plainly that our present civilization is built on the exploitation of animals..." Making it clear that for Watson, veganism is not just about food and health but foremost IS a moral and spiritual practice -- intended to evolve humanity away from exploitation. Here are screen shots of that entire page:
l A wise former cattle-rancher (now vegan) that I very much look up to, once advised me, "Never get in a pissing match with a skunk." So for that reason I am not going to link to the nefarious revisionist website. But do be on the lookout -- who-ever did this, appears to be very motivated to undermine veganism by presenting a false narrative, and appears to have ample resources to promote it widely.
But I AM going to do my part to raise awareness of the real facts and I hope that all those who care about creating a more just world, and ending exploitation of other beings will join me and do what they can to help more people know who Donald Watson REALLY was and what he really cared about AND why the word vegan was created -- to NORMALIZE in our culture non-exploitation/non-violence.
Do you know how the vegan
For those who coined the word in 1944 and those who joined these revolutionaries long before most of the world had ever heard the word, “vegan,” veganism embodied the broad themes that universally underlie the major world religions.
Fundamentally, veganism was and is about self-growth on a path that seeks justice and gives guidance as to how to live a good life. In this way, veganism connects us with something larger than ourselves.
However, unlike religions and atheism, veganism does not require one to believe in a deity – nor does it preclude one from doing so. You can be deeply religious, agnostic or atheist and also be a dedicated vegan. And...
Are YOU a vegangel?
The idea for this post came from my reflecting upon the many people In my life, who though not vegan themselves, have made important contributions to my work over the years. They are friends, family members and sometimes just acquaintances who on some level, appear to recognize the value of the ideas and facts vegans seek to disseminate. For the sake of this post, I am designating them, "Vegangels." But there are two also important criteria that define them: First, they do not appear to have a need to settle the cognitive dissonance of their recognition of veganism’s importance, with the fact that they are not vegan, by discrediting veganism. Second, they appear to derive some personal satisfaction from facilitating the planting of seeds that may germinate into veganism
My holiday gift to all of my readers: A timely set of quotes you can tuck into cards, post on bulletin boards, and share with others to plant seeds of justice.
Merry/Happy everything to all of you!
In honor of the season, I have assembled a list of thought-provoking quotes from scientists, writers and social justice activists both past and present. Feel free to link to this, or post this collection elsewhere. But even better yet, print these out and share them with others. (You will need to click the, "Read more" button in order to actually read them.)
Because Donald Trump has taken a common ignored dynamic to an egregiously disturbing level, we can now give it a name: Trumpism. Naming it, makes the dynamic more visible. Naming what is problematic helps us recognize its more subtle forms in leaders or ourselves.
I first saw Trumpism in my grade school, when I noticed that not all kids were popular because they were nice. Some achieved popularity via family status or money, or by being bullies (which many of us enabled by not calling them out.) We may have been scared of them and grateful we weren’t their victim. Or maybe we wanted them to include us, give us things, or help our cause. Now we have a name for the dynamic that empowers privilege while ignoring justice -- Trumpism.
As I wrote about in a previous post, "Why I am not an Apologetic Vegan," humans have a long history of enabling oppressors in order to distance ourselves from those at the bottom of the pecking order. Distancing improves our status and makes us feel less likely to be a target of the oppressor (click the "read more" button to see rest of this article...)
(I have a video of a live presentation based upon this essay HERE.)
"I am not THAT kind of vegan"
This is a statement that I have heard a few times recently.
As veganism has become more popular, it has triggered pushback. When I began doing vegan activism in the 1990s, vegans weren’t seen as a threat to animal agriculture or to people’s coveted family or religious traditions. Grocery stores, hospitals, and local TV news welcomed me and repeatedly provided venues for me to criticize animal exploitation while encouraging people to give veganism a try. Some were inspired or motivated to change as a result of this. Those who didn’t “get” my message or disagreed, ignored me and moved on. Since vegans were so rare, this message was a curiosity not a threat.
But now, almost everyone in America knows there are millions of vegans. Veganism is a viable lifestyle AND growing in popularity! Vegans are setting athletic records, running successful companies, and birthing and raising healthy vegan families. This changes everything. Conscious of it or not, those who are not yet vegan live with the continuous discomfort that they are participating in unnecessary violence against other beings. Unlike the 1990’s, now simply saying, “I am vegan” reminds non-vegans they are not living consistent with two of their own values which are also widely held. Most of us agree: It is wrong to unnecessarily harm animals. Most of us also agree: It is wrong to unnecessarily hurt your neighbors or your children and grandchildren. (Animal agriculture is a leading driver of every category of environmental destruction -- most especially climate change!) Just BEING vegan around some people feels to them, like they are being attacked because it's reminding them of their complicity.
But those who DO embrace veganism, struggle with a different discord – feeling like an outcast from their tribe, family, or social group. Any choice that sets us apart from our group, can expose us to “change back.” Pressure.
In order to help you understand why, saying, "I am not that kind of vegan" is problematic, I will share with you what happened to me as a child.
(Updated from it's original posting in 2017)
Back when I tabled at the Kaw Valley Seed Fair, where I gave away hundreds of free vegan food samples and literature. 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.
Let those words sink in for a moment. They, "Made peace with killing."
[The 2nd vegan BBQ will be June 16, 2019 -- details HERE.]
There was an amazing turn-out for the first vegan BBQ in Lawrence, Ks -- which coincidentally was 25 years to the month after the first vegan BBQ in Kansas City! Although many people came and went over the course of the several hours of this event I counted about 100 adults there at one point -- but don't really know how many attended over-all. Below are photos of the event. (All the best ones were taken by Emma Perkins --Thanks Emma!)
I originally wrote this post two years ago. I have just added a bit of video from the entertainment at last year's (2017) Summerfest --- It's a really funny musical skit featuring Miyoko Shinner (Founder of Miyoko's Kitchen) Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org and Dr. Ted Barnett (Rochester Lifestyle Medicine). This year, (2018) The big news is that Vegetarian Summerfest will henceforth be called Vegan Summerfest. Enjoy!
Highlights of the 2016 NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest
If you've never been there -- words and pictures simply fall far short of capturing the magic, the love, and the soul-affirming feeling of connection, hope and healing that is the essence of the North American Vegetarian Society's Summerfest Conference. Scroll down to see lots of pictures from this year's conference -- and notice what a vibrant looking bunch of humans are there! I've been to many other conferences -- and although they may share similar speakers, offer equivalent educational opportunities, provide tantalizing food and fun social gatherings, nothing I have yet experienced comes close to creating what the majority of the 600 plus attendees who pilgrimage to this event each year experience: Summerfest quite spectacularly and reliably renews people by immersing them
Is history about to repeat itself?
Back in the 1990's a group of activists in the UK created and passed out a flyer, titled, What's Wrong With McDonalds. In response the fast food giant hired under cover agents to infiltrate the group and then served them with legal papers threatening to take them to court for libeling the McDonald's corporation. The activists didn't know it at the time, but the McDonalds company had a history of threatening it's critics with a libel suit, but then offering to drop charges, if the defendents would apologize, never criticize McDonald's again and keep confidential McDonald's threatened legal action.
But this one time McDonald's bullying didn't work as planned. The activists
Join me for a trip down memory lane. Here I document the birth and early years of organized vegan activism in the Kansas City area. A special thanks to all the people -- including many who contributed but don't happen to be in these pictures and clippings. Together we helped lay the foundation for the exponential growth of vegan products, vegan-friendly menu items, and vegan community that now make it attractive and easy for so many more people to make the connection and go vegan!
In 1992, I knew of exactly three vegans in the entire Kansas City area. Victoria Moran, her daughter Adair (who went by the name of Rachel, back then) and myself. Few knew to say, "Vee-gun" rather than, "Vey-gun" let alone what the word, "vegan" meant.
So in 1993 a small group of vegetarian's started what I believe was the first vegetarian society in Kansas or the greater KC area -- and we called it Vegetarians of Kansas City. At first all we did was have monthly potlucks in Siobhan Defeo's home. Siobhan and a friend of hers had gotten the ball rolling by putting up notices on bulletin boards at Clearly Nature's Own at 43rd and Main, seeking to find other vegetarians. Soon after, there were 10 to 20 of us regularly sharing monthly meals and dis-
Earlier this evening, my husband and I sat down to a common dinner that we love -- home made black bean burritos topped off with Pace Salsa.
For the past ten years, my family's consumption of Pace Salsa surely made us one of Campbell's better customers. Not just because of how much we eat, but because of all the demos I do, and food I make for others. I would purchase salsa in the largest size glass containers sold, sometimes bringing home a dozen jars at a time -- just to make sure I didn't run out. But that is in the past. I won't be buying Pace products any more.
What, you may be wondering could have caused a passionate salsa lover like me, always looking for the best food bargains too (Pace is often the least expensive salsa I can find) to stop eating the stuff (right in the middle of dinner) and vow to not eat it any more? Well it was this. I was
In 1942 President FDR – husband to social justice hero Eleanor Roosevelt, signed an executive order that put thousands of law-abiding Japanese American citizens in prison camps. There was little outcry. In the 1970s, in collaboration with doctors, our government forced African American men to endure late stage syphilis. Few with knowledge of this objected. U.S. history begins with violently removing indigenous inhabitants from their ancestral lands. Shockingly, in the 1800s, some abolitionists opposed women voting. Today some who support civil rights for people of color oppose marriage equality for LGBTQ identifying individuals. The book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, describes a large American hospital in the 1950s injecting cancer cells into hundreds of patients without their knowledge or consent. Three Jewish doctors were the only ones to object. But their views were marginalized as being “overly sensitive because of the Holocaust." History is full of similar examples. Perhaps that is why Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
The Holocaust is one of the most egregious examples of human’s capacity to look away and disregard injustice. After hearing about it, many wanted to know, “How did so many seemingly average people allow it to happen? The classic experiment by Stanley Milgram sought to answer this. His data showed that under certain conditions, half of us will go along with things we know harm others. Milgram stated, "Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process." Some cultures (and by implication their cultural practices) appear to be less vulnerable to this. So it’s worth asking, what practices might make us less likely to ignore injustice threatening someone else?
My daughter Sarina Farb wrote this guest post while still a student at Grinnell College. She has since graduated with degrees in biochemistry and policy studies and plans to begin blogging at:
Recently, an Italian bill proposed jail time for parents irresponsibly imposing a vegan diet on their children. It has created a lot of buzz and discussion over whether vegan parents should be allowed to “force their values” on their children. A common theme in articles and commentary I have read is that regardless of a parent’s values, they shouldn’t “force” their radical choices on their children,
What a wonderful experience my daughter and I had in Iowa last Sunday! Just a mere 3 hour drive from Kansas City, we had the pleasure of participating in a really well put-together Vegfest where authentic veganism was embraced.
In considering whether it would be worth the drive to Des Moines to attend this event, we first looked to see who the event's sponsors would be. When we saw that HSUS was NOT a sponsor, we made the decision to attend. We had seen how HSUS sponsorship of Kansas City's first vegfest had totally co-opted that event's messaging. In contrast to what happened at the KC Vegfest (where that event's speakers, supposedly representing veganism, actually told the audience that they saw little problem with meat-eating and killing animals as long as the animals were raised on small farms,) Iowa Vegfest speakers were very clear: there is no way to enslave and kill other beings and have it be "humane."
The Iowa Vegfest was held at Windsor Heights Community Center in West Des Moines -- just a few minutes drive from the interstate, making it very easy to get to. As this was their first vegfest, and in the farm-belt, I was expecting a small, cozy event. So I was pleasantly surprised to arrive and find no parking spaces in the parking lot and cars lining the streets more than a block away. Then I saw some people sporting, "vegan" shirts walking towards the event. As I approached the building, there were many others arriving too (below left.) A table welcomed attendees who were given a goodie bag and invited to either go inside where there were vendors or outside to the park where the speakers and other activities would be. I first went inside, and as I marveled at the great attendance, noticed this beautiful little girl (below right) wearing a shirt, that said "Wow" on it. My sentiments exactly!
The Inside area had a number of tables representing a variety of non-profits, and food vendors. I met the founders of, "Iowa Farm Sanctuary" (no connection to Farm Santuary in NY) and picked up a few of their beautiful post cards. I got to sample some avocado-based ice-cream -- and spoke for a bit with the couple who started the business. (Shown below sampling their three flavors.) The Mint Chocolate Chip was my favorite. This product would be an especially welcome treat for those wishing to avoid grains and soy.
Although much of my time was spent talking with many wonderful people, I did manage to take a break from schmoozing long enough to actually hear two speakers: First I heard Melanie Jacobs from Rooster Redemption speak about her work running a "micro sanctuary," and how her own addiction recovery connects to her work on behalf on roosters. She gave the audience much to think about while sharing her own story of healing and growth after struggling with substance abuse. She also spoke about the micro sanctuary movement that she is part of and I picked up a brochure about it from her that explained the six principles (be sure to click on that link to see what they are!) it's a fantastic program!
Another interesting part of the event, was meeting a medical doctor who came there with his documentary crew and was interviewing people for a new documentary he is making, after his own health was saved by eliminating meat, dairy and eggs.
But perhaps the highlight for me was hearing Mic the vegan speak and also getting to chat informally with him and his partner. Mic is a very popular "Vegan Science You Tuber" who makes a series of short pithy videos addressing specific subjects by referencing the published scientific literature and helping us to make sense of the sometimes confusing claims about what the data actually supports.
Check him out -- In This 13 minute video, Mic debunks claims by others who have claimed they are debunking, the popular documentary, What the Health.
Special thanks to all the volunteers who made this event so terrific, and especially to Amira Khatib. It was a joy and a privilege for me to meet Amira, the dynamo behind the Iowa Vegfest, and to meet her mother -- a kindred spirit/mother in Iowa.
Who knew -- when I was a new mother raising my vegan children in Kansas in the 1990's and wishing there were more vegan families in the midwest, just one state away -- Amira's mother was doing the same thing!
The peaceful revolution is growing!
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.