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.
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