Posts tagged Vegetarian

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

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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.

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