Posts tagged vegan

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Vegfest celebrates joys of vegetarianism

Author and Chef Miyoko Schinner

Author and Chef Miyoko Schinner

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in the Queen Anne & Magnolia News and City Living Seattle

March 2013

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

 

Nearly every day, I am inspired to hear the majority of people I meet say they love animals. I take joy in meeting every doted-over dog, cat, horse and bird in Seattle.

We make it a priority to ensure our animals are safe and free from harm. We also support organizations that care for and rescue animals that would otherwise be out of our reach to save.

For this reason, I am grateful for organizations that advocate for the humane treatment of farm animals, such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and similar groups. These organizations bring animal cruelty into the light of day so that we, as a community, can make positive changes in our lives and in our laws to protect all animals.

Recently, HSUS exposed a slaughterhouse in New Jersey where baby calves are severely abused and beaten before they are killed. Baby calves are routinely taken from their mothers at birth so the cow’s milk can be sold to humans, and the slaughtered babies are sold as veal.

HSUS also exposed a hog farm in Kentucky found to be feeding mother pigs remnants of deceased baby pigs. Seen on undercover video, all of the mother pigs were indefinitely confined to gestation crates so small that they could not walk or even turn around. This cruelty of extended confinement and forced cannibalism in our meat and dairy industry is intolerable to people who love animals.

Although we are far from Kentucky or New Jersey, we can make a big difference to help animals by reducing our consumption of meat and dairy and shifting to a vegetarian diet. And, as it turns out, what is good for the animals is also good for us.

“The consumption of animal products is completely unnecessary,” said Stewart Rose, vice president of the Vegetarians of Washington.

A plant-based diet is highly recommended by doctors and dieticians as a powerful tool for the prevention and even reversal of many common diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and several forms of cancer, Rose said.

Sharing cooking techniques

In Seattle, vegetarianism is a celebrated part of our community, and this year’s celebration begins with the 13th-annual Vegfest (www.seattlevegfest.org) at the Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall.

On March 29 and 30, carnivores, omnivores and herbivores are all invited for the biggest food-tasting event in town. More than 200 food companies will serve around 500 different kinds of delicious food, including a special tasting section for kids.

“At Vegfest, you’ll discover that being healthy never tasted so good,” Rose said.

Chef Miyoko Schinner made a splash at last year’s Vegfest with her book “Artisan Vegan Cheese.” Schinner visits again this year for cooking demonstrations, alongside local chef Sunita Shastri, who will feature Indian cooking techniques.

Chef Bianca Phillips joins Vegfest from Memphis to teach Northwest residents to cook vegan soul food from the Deep South. Mexican, Thai and American food cooking demos fill out the weekend and remind us that vegetarianism is a tradition from around the world.

Vegfest features an expert lineup of physicians, including cardiologist Dr. Arun Kalyanasundaram from Swedish Medical Center, who will give talks on health matters. Dr. Esther Park-Hwang, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, will discuss preventing common women’s health problems with the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. Several doctors will offer onsite health screenings.

Our friends from the Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN), Mercy for Animals and Fur Bearer Defenders, among others, will be at Vegfest to share messages about living more humanely.

The Humane League (THL), a national organization that just opened a branch in Seattle, comes to Vegfest for the first time. THL provides outreach, including a “Team Vegan” running group and initiatives to encourage us to try Meatless Mondays.

Starting young

In recent years, several school districts (including Los Angles, Detroit and Oakland, Calif.) have adopted Meatless Mondays to help fight rising childhood obesity rates. The program has been suggested for Seattle Public Schools, as well.

“If Seattle Public Schools went meatless for one day a week, it would save 25,000 animals per year,” said THL-Seattle director Rachel Huff-Wagenborg.

Last year, Public School 244, Queens Elementary in New York began serving only vegetarian meals. Since then, school officials have reported a rise in attendance, test scores and attention spans of their students.

Transitioning to plant-based meals in public schools is a growing trend. Amie Hamlin, executive director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, will also be featured at Vegfest to speak on the topic.

Vegfest is a family-friendly event with kids’ foods, story time, a kids’ stage and clown; admission is free to children under 12 years.

Whether you are vegetarian, transitioning to plant-based foods or want to learn about better food options, Vegfest offers a celebration of a lifestyle that is good for your body, your mind and your heart that loves animals.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a writer and the editor of “Living Humane,” a news site providing information on humane-conscious lifestyles at livinghumane.com. She also writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at http://www.sniffingouthome.org. To comment on this column, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com

Leave a comment »

AMONG THE ANIMALS: ‘Vegging out’ has new meaning in Seattle

Casper at Precious Life Animal Sanctuary (courtesy of Cuenca family)

Casper at Precious Life Animal Sanctuary (courtesy of Cuenca family)

by Christie Lagally

Originally published in City Living Seattle and the Queen Anne News

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

May 30, 2013

The need to be more conscientious about consuming animal products could not be greater than it is today. Factory farming, considerations of personal health and environmental preservation are all excellent reasons to reduce your consumption. So if you have ever considered trying a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it turns out you are in the right part of the world for success.

Recently, Bill Gates spoke publicly about the unsustainability of meat and dairy production as the world population grows. Gates, a leader in promoting human welfare, was offering a solution that one would expect from an activist of animal welfare: “try meat alternatives.”

On his website, GatesNotes.com, Gates presents the argument for plant-based proteins as a genuine opportunity to reduce environmental degradation and address human poverty, noting in an interview that 51 percent of global greenhouse gases come from the mass production of meat, dairy and eggs.

In March, I gleefully watched Justin Timberlake’s “Saturday Night Live” “Veganville” sketch in the hopes that the tofu-costumed, hip-hop artist would remind people that animals suffer in our factory-farming system. Like Gates, Timberlake was an advocate for animals that night. His on-stage arguments about animal suffering were inscrutable, and nowadays many people, like Bill Gates, know that vegetarianism is a sustainable lifestyle — particularly in Seattle, where, instead of ‘Veganville,’ we have Vegan Haven at Northeast 55thStreet and University Way Northeast.

Spreading the word
Earlier this year, the Vegetarians of Washington, a nonprofit education and support group, hosted the 12th-annual Vegfest at the Seattle Exhibition Hall. The group’s president, Amanda Strombom, and vice president, Stewart Rose, told me that it would be the “best Vegfest ever,” and then 17,000 people attended this food festival. Vendors from across the United States gave out vegetarian and vegan samples until folks were stuffed.

Vegetarians of Washington volunteers also work year-round to provide monthly dinning events at the Mount Baker Community Club in Seattle. Dinners feature food from a local restaurant and are a reminder to omnivores and vegetarians alike that reducing meat consumption is an achievable and very tasty goal.

Additionally, Rose and Strombom host classes on vegetarian solutions for personal health, environmental recovery, global hunger and animal suffering. The class includes cooking instruction and tips on eating vegetarian. Vegetarians of Washington has published four books in recent years to guide people on these issues, including “Vegetarian Pacific Northwest” and “The Veg-Feasting Cookbook.”

Luciano and Miranda the sheep (courtesy of the Cuenca family.)

Luciano and Miranda the sheep (courtesy of the Cuenca family.)

Sharing with like-minded folks

Even humane-conscious parents can find kindred spirits in Seattle. One recent Sunday morning, I met Christina and Fernando Cuenca and their son, Luciano, at the The Wayward Vegan Café in the University District for brunch.

The Cuenca family is vegan, and three years ago, they started the Seattle Area Vegan and Vegetarian Families Meetup Group to meet other parents and children who follow a plant-based diet. The Cuencas started the group in 2011, after Luciano was born, because they had questions about navigating the world of conventional food as new vegan parents. Although longtime vegans themselves, the Cuencas hoped to exchange ideas with other parents about raising vegan or vegetarian children.

Luciano and Fernando Cuenca and Donkey Margarita

Luciano and Fernando Cuenca and Donkey Margarita

The Cuencas and other members of their Meetup group plan veg-friendly outings for parents and children. Previous Meetup events include potlucks, camping trips and restaurant meals, all structured to be both kid-friendly and veg-friendly, too.

During my brunch with the Cuencas, 3-year-old Luciano recounted his visit with the Meetup families to Precious Life Animal Sanctuary in Sequim, Wash., just the day before. He told me he met a big cow named Casper and some bunny rabbits and a turkey. The children also met a donkey named Margarita and a sheep named Miranda at the mountain-side farm. The Cuencas were joined by three other families with children ages 2 to 4.

Christina Cuenca explained that group events are a safe place where the kids can meet other kids who are like them, and they can share the same foods as kids like to do. Currently, more than 80 families are members of the Seattle Area Vegan and Vegetarian Families Group, with new members weekly.

Anika Ledhe, founder of Seattle’s VeganScore.com (a source for all things Seattle, vegan and new) reminded me in a recent interview that humans need community to thrive, and being vegan or vegetarian can be isolating regardless of your honorable intentions. Luckily, here in Seattle, good food, motivation, education and especially a genuine supportive community are not far away if you are ready to take the first step toward vegetarian- or veganism.

To connect with the Seattle Area Vegan and Vegetarian Families Group on Meetup, visit www.meetup.com/Seattle-Area-Vegan-and-Vegetarian-Families-Group.

To learn more about the Vegetarians of Washington, visit www.vegofwa.org.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at http://www.sniffingouthome.org. She also hosts the new “Living Humane” radio talk show on KKNW 1150AM. To comment on this column, write CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.

Leave a comment »

AMONG THE ANIMALS: Pasado’s provides safe haven for abused animals

Lamp Chop as a baby sheep

Lamb Chop as a baby sheep

By Christie Lagally

(c) Pacific Publishing Company

January 10, 2013

Originally published in the Queen Anne News and City Living Seattle

The grunts and oinks from Bentley and Oscar started up immediately as we walked into their stall at Pasado’s Safe Haven. Stacie Martin, the sanctuary director of operations, was giving us a tour, and she kept saying we should come meet the pigs. But clearly, we were there for the pigs to meet us.

Stacie Martin and Bentley

Stacie Martin and Bentley

Bentley a stout, pink Potbelly pig had a lot to say — particularly where to scratch on his back and grunts of hello to my husband, who joined me on the tour.

Pasado’s is a unique place as a sanctuary for all types of animals, but also for their work changing law. In its nearly 15-year history, the organization has pressed through anti-cruelty laws that made many types of animal abuse toward companion and farm animals a felony in Washington state.

The sanctuary is named for the loss of a loved one: a beloved donkey named Pasado, who was brutally beaten and killed by teenagers. In the wake of his death, the founders of Pasado’s Safe Haven made it their mission to require stiff penalties for animal cruelty and to see that justice is served.

In that fine tradition, today, Pasado’s employs three animal-cruelty investigators and, this year alone, has re-homed or provided sanctuary to more than 700 animals in need. Many of the sanctuary animals are rescues from cruelty investigations.

Chickens at roosting hour

Chickens at roosting hour

A better life

A chicken barn full of white to red, big to small chickens, roosters and even a rogue turkey was our next stop. Martin explained that 50 of the white birds had come from a factory farm in Turlock, Calif., where 50,000 hens were left to starve to death earlier this year. Local animal-control agencies found 17,000 hens dead on arrival.

Animal Place, a farm-animal sanctuary in California, took more than 4,000 of the hens, and other organizations like Farm Sanctuary and Pasado’s took hens as well.

Now, with the freedom to walk around and to act like a chicken, these hens — unlike their pig neighbors — had little concern for our presence at the twilight roosting hour.

But the difference between the conditions shown in a photo of battery-caged chickens on the barn wall and the busy, nesting white hens before me was not just visual — it was palpable. These animals had been rescued from horrible conditions, and they intended to live their lives uninterrupted from now on.

Goat turned in for the night

Goat turned in for the night

Our tour continued to meet some goats tucked into piles of wood chips for the night. Whoopi Goatberg came to the stall door to observe and say hello to Martin.

“We have a bunch of animals named for celebrities,” Martin explained, rattling off a list that included Michelle O’Llama, Ellen Deheneras and George Plummy.

‘Guests of honor,’ not meals

Pasado’s is built on 85 acres of rocky, steep, forested land just east of Seattle. Generous donors have enabled continuous building and rebuilding to accommodate all types of animals, from goats to cats.

Dali Llama protecting his barn

Dali Llama protecting his barn

With the exception of the abusive pasts that so many of these animals suffered, this sanctuary is farm life as it should be: safe, comfortable, clean and honest. By its very existence, it is advocacy against the modern factory farm.

As we entered a central hillside barn, we met Dali Llama, the protector of his herd. Nonviolent and clear in his convictions, as his name suggests, Dali watched over a donkey, two ponies, three little pigs and three sheep: Lady Baa Baa, Bo Peep and Lamb Chop.

“We give some of the animals names that reminds people of the food they eat.” Martin explained. The intention is to bring awareness to the fact that precious lives are lost for meat consumption, and Lamp Chop was certainly precious.

Roaming the barn with sheep and pigs, you cannot help but be reminded that these are the lucky ones, because modern agriculture has turned barns into factories where animals are caged and crated indefinitely and where antibiotics must be used to prevent sickness in atrocious and unhealthy conditions.

Lamp Chop all grown up

Lamb Chop all grown up

So this Thanksgiving at Pasado’s, human guests ate a gourmet vegan meal prepared by chef Bridget McNasser, and an honorary meal was served to the resident turkeys as reminder of the new role that animals can play during the holidays: “where turkeys are the guest of honor and not the main course.” The event was a fund-raiser for the sanctuary and a reminder that the holidays need not be about meat.

Our tour with Martin was completed with a walk past some tail-wagging dogs and feral cats.

Eric saying goodnight to Benley and Oscar

Eric saying goodnight to Bentley and Oscar

New things to consider

As my husband and I drove home, we reflected on each of the sweet faces and unique personalities we had met in such a short evening at the sanctuary.

While thinking of Lamp Chop’s serene presence to Bentley’s informative oinks, my husband asked, “Shall we have Tofurky or the vegan Field Roast for Christmas dinner?” I’m still deciding, but delighted to know I have lots of options for a humane holiday meal.

For more information on Pasado’s Safe Haven, visit http://www.pasadosafehaven.org. 

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is host of “Living Humane” on KKNW 1150 AM and writes a blog called “Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions” at  HYPERLINK “http://www.sniffingouthome.org” http://www.sniffingouthome.org. To comment on this story, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.

Leave a comment »

Seafair! The Dreaded Soycodile and two little pigs

“The Dreaded Soycodile” at the Seattle Seafair

While giant lizards are rare in Seattle, our love of animals isn’t.   For many people, that means replacing a diet of cow’s milk with soymilk.  And since you’ve got all those soy-milk boxes anyway, might as well compete in Seattle’s Seafair Milk Carton Derby.

Much to my delight, The Dreaded Soycodile (left) made an appearance at the derby.  I have no idea whose fabulous creation this is, but it totally rocked. (Please contact me if Soycodile is yours!  I’d love to know more about it!)

The milk carton derby was good fun.  Some stayed in their boats, others did not.  And spectators were plentiful, including a few from “Bit 0’Bacon” pet pig rescue sanctuary.  The caretakers were educating folks about the responsibility of keeping (or not keeping) pet pigs.  The two pigs below munched on grass while others enjoyed their cuteness!

Now this is summer in Seattle!

Leave a comment »

Is your Oregon cheese green?

I don’t drink milk or eat cheese for a very important reason.  I don’t want to be a party to forcing a mother cow to give up her calves over and over again.  Unfortunately, the production of cheese and dairy products is rarely, if ever, humane since mother cows must give birth every year and those babies are immediately taken away so her milk is harvested.  Those babies are put into crates and later killed as ‘veal’.  Can you imagine if your newborns were taken from you year after year — or even once.

But here’s is the second reason I don’t eat dairy.   The methane, ammonia,  liquid or solid feces and  other toxic byproducts of raising animals on an industrial scale are mind-boggling.  Factory farms continuously release gaseous, liquid and solid wastes known to be toxic to humans and which destroy ecosystems (ref: EPA).

Just last week, the EPA fined two dairies in Oregon for release of waste streams into estuaries and rivers (ref: EPA).  The fines were small, but bring to light how much waste is released into our environment because of dairy or meat production.   An Environmental Health Perspectives report outline research on animal waste and the consequences for human and ecosystem safety.

In a similar effort, The Humane Society of the US reported last week they are planning to sue 51 pork producers for ammonia emissions that were not reported as a toxic release under the EPA’s right-to-know requirement.

Leave a comment »

Cheese and ammonia

While the connection between the potent greenhouse gas methane and meat production is an easy one (i.e. ever had a dog with … um, ‘flatus’?), the effects of cheese production on the environment isn’t always as well announced and, in this case, is under-reported.  In a recent EPA press release, a cheese manufacturer in Oregon was hand-slapped for releasing dangerous ammonia and not notifying authorities.   See below:

From: U.S. EPA <usaepa@govdelivery.com>
Date: 05/23/2012
Subject: News Release: Oregon cheese processing company pays EPA penalty for failing to report ammonia release

Oregon cheese processing company pays EPA penalty for failing to report ammonia release

(Seattle— May 23, 2012) Columbia River Processing, Inc. failed to report an anhydrous ammonia release at its Boardman, Oregon cheese processing facility in June 2008. The company agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that includes a $42,435 penalty.

On June 30, 2008, an electrical storm caused power surges that disrupted the computers and compressors that control the ammonia system at the facility. The computer failure caused a pressure relief valve to open, releasing nearly 2,500 pounds of ammonia into the environment, according to the EPA settlement. Columbia River Processing failed to immediately notify local and state agencies about the release. No injuries were reported at the time of the incident.

According to Wally Moon, EPA Preparedness and Prevention Unit Manager in Seattle, these cases are about protecting workers, emergency responders and the community.

“When unintended chemical releases occur, every minute counts,” said EPA’s Moon. “Emergency responders need to be notified promptly to react effectively.”

Ammonia is a pungent, toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.

The ammonia release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

For information on EPA’s Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/epcra/epcraenfstatreq.html

For more about toxic effects of Anhydrous Ammonia (NIOSH GUIDE): http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0028.html

To automatically receive Region 10 News Releases, subscribe via email at: http://service.govdelivery.com/service/subscribe.html?code=USEPA_C19

 

Leave a comment »

The Chronicles of Veg Fest (Seattle, 2012)

VegFest Seattle rocked!  I’m mean, it just really did.  My husband Eric and I attended four years ago, and there wasn’t that much I could eat because I don’t eat dairy or eggs.  This time, I left full to the brim with vegan samples.

Like I said, it rocked!

Our morning started with a “run in” with security (actually I just took his picture.)

Then we met some lively pickle people who raised these ‘pickle-saurus’.  Is this why we have security at Veg Fest?

There was plenty of veggie ‘meats’ to go around.  And a tried a new vegan ‘meat’ called EcoVegan that wasn’t just really good, it was fabulous!

Lots of good books and authors to meet.

But the best part was definitely some absolutely wonderful vegan cheese.   Let’s face it.  Up until about 5 years ago, vegan cheese wasn’t that great.  Now it’s not only good, it’s a delicacy! This one, from HeidiHo Organics was the best at Veg Fest.

We can’t forget how much we appreciate our animal friends and the wonderful people who care for homeless or marginalized animals.  Here are some of their pictures.

Comments (1) »