Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No One Makes it Out Alive

To open this dialogue, a bit of background: I once thought the death penalty was the "right thing to do." I changed my mind, or had it changed for me. In Junior High School I shared classes with Lisa Levy, one of Ted Bundy's victims. As an adult, a paralegal student, I learned of the groundbreaking laws involving hypnosis and witnesses that Bundy himself had caused to become Florida Law.

When Bundy was executed, I anticipated feeling "better, vindicated, SOMETHING" when in fact all I felt was recurring sadness that many young lives had been taken, and now, after his demise, many more families would never find closure.

Later, I was forced to reexamine my beliefs regarding the effectiveness of the death penalty on a more pragmatic basis. The bottom line is that it is more expensive for Florida citizens to house those on death row than life prisoners. - And that is front loaded costs, not the appeals after the fact.

But, viewing the big picture as a vegan, I see this:

  • I'm opposed to all violence

  • The death penalty is violence - therefore I'm opposed to the death penalty

  • I'm opposed to the use of animals for a means to an end

  • Death Row inmates are fed the secretions and bodies of innocent animals

  • For their "last meal"
    Death Row inmates are served meals three times a day: at 5:00 am, from 10:30 am to 11:00 am and from 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Food is prepared by FSP personnel  (under the watchful and profiteering eye of Aramark, Inc. ) and is transported in insulated carts to the cells. Inmates are allowed plates and spoons to eat their meals. Prior to execution, an inmate may request a last meal. To avoid extravagance, the food to prepare the last meal must cost no more than $20 and must be purchased locally.

    Snazzy. So, that said, Inmate - let's call him "Moses" is on his last appeal, the end is nigh. He wants a Double Down from KFC with a milkshake. Assume for the sake of argument that Moses is innocent. So are the 2 chickens, the pig from which the bacon came, the cow - whose day old baby calf was stolen so she could produce the cheese for aforementioned Double Down, her baby boy who ended up in a veal crate, the chickens whose eggs contributed to the special sauce, the baby boy chicks who got tossed into the chipper/shredder because they'd grow up to be roosters. Let's continue with who dies needlessly. Whose milk ( probably from more than one cow, with more than 2 or three babies ripped from mommies) to make the ice cream for that shake.

    That, is the last meal for Moses, but what about the 3 times a day slop that Aramark produces and feeds to the inmates (who may or may not be innocent of the crime they've been found guilty enough to land on Florida's notorious path to Ole' Sparky or the last dragon ride (lethal injection)?

    Meals are served through an opening in the cell door. Death row inmates eat the same food as other inmates at the prison, but must eat inside their cells. The food is prepared by non-death row inmates in the prison kitchen. They receive about 3,000 calories per day. They eat with a plastic spork (spoon and fork combined). Inmates can buy other food from the prison commissary if they have money.

    But….what of the animals? What are their crimes that brings them to death row in the form of "food?"

    Is it not ironic that the innocent animals are also destined for death row, and indeed for all other meals in Florida prisons without any trial by any jury, without representation by any person human or non-human? Where is the justice?

    Is it asking too much that those who approach we vegans with that "I've just seen a water moccasin look in their eye to reconsider, just for a second, that we may be right?

    Can Moses be given justice? Can the countless animals that would die in vain for his last meal, can they be spared?

    It's a vegan world if I want it. I want it. I want justice for Moses, and all the others that would end up as Moses' last meal.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    The conversation with Tim Gier continues. As in my previous entry I explained, I took Tim's blog entry Saving the World in a kind of interview/dialogue. It was mind flexing and fun, but I ran out of steam before I ran out of Tim's questions and thoughtful responses.

    TG's Question: Is there another reason that would obligate you to try to convince others to stop using animals?

    TG: Perhaps it is the case that since human beings have created the problem relative to the misuse of animals, we are all obligated to work to solve the problem.
    I don’t think this is true either. You did not personally create the systems that misuse animals. If you are currently abstaining from all uses of animals, then you are not now contributing to the continued misuse of animals. You cannot be required to ameliorate the harms that are caused by others, when you have had no part in their perpetuation.

    Otherwise, for example, it could just as easily be said that since you had a home mortgage once that benefited you greatly, and even though you no longer have any mortgage at all, because you are part of a system that still uses mortgages, you are obligated to personally assist any current mortgage holders who are in crisis. That makes no sense.

    SW: Tim, I'm finding it difficult to apply that analogy. That said, can I have permission to rephrase the analogy to something I think might make it clearer for me to answer?

    Take the case of those who call themselves homeless. I see them at the base of the Interstate exit three or four times a day. One guy has a sign with "Visa & Mastercard accepted here" on one side, and on the other, "Try and hit me with a quarter. EYE dare you too."

    Do I have an obligation to sling a quarter or two at him? Did he not have the same opportunities for making life decisions that I do? Did he perhaps make some really bad selections? Who knows? But just because I have a job am I obligated to give him  some of my money? I don't, not because I don't think he needs it, or because I'm judging him. I don't because I see the same group eating fried chicken under the overpass.

    The way I see it is that the current animal production "system" has morphed over the last hundred or so years, with the most far reaching negative impacts in the last fifty or so. Maybe I am not "obligated" to ameliorate the harm by abstaining from animal use, but I am obligated to the collective soul of all beings to try to improve the planet so it can continue to support any/all life forms.

    TG: So, again, while maybe it would be a good thing that you take it upon yourself to work for the cause of animal rights, you are not obligated to.

    SW: Let me interrupt for a second, Tim. Perhaps I'm overlooking the use of obligation as you mean it. Perhaps I'm choosing to take on the mantle of obligation as an act of restitution for all those years that I was not vegan. I would agree with you then, that many may think the simple act of being vegan is enough, and there is no obligation to perform any activism other than representing the animals when walking into the lunchroom, at least that is my experience in our break room.

    TG: Another source of confusion with regard to our obligations to others is the result of our political system. For example, you might think that we have an obligation to provide at least basic health care to every person in the country. Do you mean that you personally accept an obligation to provide such care? No. What you actually mean is that you think we should all, collectively and through the mechanisms of government, provide such care. As members of a democracy, we agree to be bound by the decisions reached in our political process. There is a difference between being a voluntary part of a system and being obligated by moral imperative.

    SW: Good point. But please also consider the amount of disease and illness directly connected with the consumption of animals and their products. I have no desire to withhold necessary medical care to any one. However, like insurance companies charging higher premiums for smokers, I'd prefer more vegans (well, all vegans in a perfect world) so the world would be a healthier one and easier to provide medical care to those who needed it as there'd be fewer sick and dying people.

    Additionally consider this: If I don't consume flesh, I will not be exposed to BSE. As you and I both know, our meat producers cannot be trusted to follow the most basic laws in place and there is very little policing done to be sure they're not violating WRT both human and non-human rights. BUT (and it is a very huge but) if a class 5 hurricane goes spinning up the coast and enters pig country - well I'm going to try to resist fan references, but you get my drift. That said, the risk of vegans getting sick from airborne diseases like Swine flu - and I am NOT going to call it H1N1 to protect the guilty, is a risk I'd like to not take. So it is indeed in my best interest to actively promote veganism for that reason. Am I obligated to do so? No, but I see a piano falling down from that great height and I am getting out of Dodge.

    TG: Finally, since the basis for you accepting your obligations toward animals is that they should not be treated as just a means to an end, then you have a right to the same consideration for yourself. In other words, even though the end result of the cessation of the use of animals as things is a noble one, you cannot be used by others as merely a way to achieve that end. You get to decide what you will do, no one gets to decide that for you. While it might be a good thing for you to try to convince others to accept their own obligations towards animals, you are not obligated to do so.

    SW: But it is in my best interest to move away from the piano falling and if you are beside me reading your Kindle, I'm going to shove you too. If you drop your Kindle and it breaks, I'll hope you see my actions as still in your best interests.

    TG's Question: So why is any of this important?

    TG: It is important because when one person has made a commitment to veganism, they have done all that is required of them. Vegans are not obligated to change the minds of other people, whether those people are perfect strangers or significant others. Vegans are not required to take part in campaigns, or put bumper stickers on their cars, or proselytize their views in every possible forum. Maybe it would be a better world if they did, but they are not obligated to.
    The process of educating others about veganism, and the questions about whether to do it, when to do it, and how to do it, are personal matters beyond the reach of the obligations that each of us have to other sentient beings.
    Our obligation to animals is to stop using them, to stop treating them as things. As each of us does that, our individual obligation has been met. Accept that obligation, and your work is done.

    SW: Nicely done. I agree that I don't want anyone threatening to take away my vegan card if I don't go to meetups and try to change the mind of every omnivore I know. I'm not sure, however that it is a personal matter beyond what I owe to non-human persons.  If I don't speak up, then am I not complicit? I'm reminded of the poem http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came...

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    My friend Tim Gier wrote the following blog post in his - add this immediately to RSS feed blog called 
    Saving the World

    And then, I took that post and sort of morphed it as if he were interviewing me, which was not his intent, but it kinda worked out well. However, it is imperative that he get credit where credit is due. Therefore:

    TG's Question: If you accept that you have a moral obligation to animals, and that obligation requires you to treat them as persons and not things, does that obligation also require you to try to convince others to also stop using animals?

    SW: Yes.

    TG: My first thought is that it does. It seems only right, after all, that if animals deserve to be left alone then you should help them get their just deserts. The longer I think about it though, the less that the idea makes sense.

    Part of the problem is one of words. For example, when tragedy struck Haiti earlier this year, I’m sure that a great number of people said to themselves “I should donate to the relief effort.” In saying that, people were expressing a preference, or a feeling about what they thought would be a good action. They were not expressing a command to themselves, or acknowledging an obligation they had to actually donate. Each of them recognized that while it might be good to donate, they were not obligated to do so. No-one would compel them to and they would suffer no repercussions if they chose not to. So the words we choose create the impression of obligation where obligation itself does not exist. Just saying that we “should” do something doesn’t mean that we’re obligated to do it. So, by that reasoning at least, while it would perhaps be a good thing if you were try to convince others not to treat animals as property, you are not obligated to.

    SW: Haiti is a Single Issue Campaign. I'm opposed, on principle, to SIC's. Any/Every time an individual group of animals - be they human persons or non human persons is *used* to generate income for a charity (not for profit notwithstanding) it smacks of lack of transparency and hypocrisy. It's self serving to promote the agenda of the "charity" and as such, I loathe the implications that someone, somewhere is taking a 6 figure income, supplemented by another nearly the same, sans one zero, to self promote, grandstand, and otherwise chest thump their way through life on the backs of those they claim to champion.

    Yes, I am obligated to convince others to not treat animals as property. It is the moral imperative, the baseline, the moral right thing to do. Animals are the same as me, except they don't have a voice. I do. To not use my voice to change the very basic view of animals as property (a misguided notion) to animals as non human persons is a lapse in my moral fabric. Again, conjuring images of Haiti and the animals? I harken back to Katrina when HSUS promised to reunite companions with their counterparts. Did it happen? Not so much.

    TG's Question: Is there another reason that would obligate you to try to convince others to stop using animals? Perhaps it is the case that since human beings have created the problem relative to the misuse of animals, we are all obligated to work to solve the problem.

    SW: It is irrelevant for me who "caused" the problem. I can, and will do all I can to solve the problem. The problem is that animals are viewed as property, and should be viewed as Non human persons.

    TG: You did not personally create the systems that misuse animals.

    SW: But I woke up. I peeled back the curtain. And now I know how to ameliorate the damages, and that is to educate those that still perceive chickens as less thans. Chickens  have worth just by virtue of being a chicken. Chickens have value well beyond producing easy to obtain protein for breakfast sarnies and binder in baked goods.

    TG: If you are currently abstaining from all uses of animals, then you are not now contributing to the continued misuse of animals. You cannot be required to ameliorate the harms that are caused by others, when you have had no part in their perpetuation.

    SW: Just because I have gotten past the point of being responsible for a toddler does not negate my responsibility to my grandchildren.

    TW: Otherwise, for example, it could just as easily be said that since you had a home mortgage once that benefited you greatly, and even though you no longer have any mortgage at all, because you are part of a system that still uses mortgages, you are obligated to personally assist any current mortgage holders who are in crisis. That makes no sense.

    SW: Can I address this tomorrow?

    An Open Letter to Ellen Degeneres

    Dear Ellen,

    Note the freshly baked Classic Peanut Butter Cookies on the plate on my laptop. It's sad you cannot scratch and sniff the photo.... 

    If you look closely, you'll see the image of a black dog in the background. That's Rickie Heller's companion, previously known as Elsie but now preferring to be called Ellen, after you. She's Rickie's assistant, one of two, the other being Chaser, who gobbles up her share of coconut macaroons in the video. You've probably seen her before, in the dozens of tweets retweeted by all the Rickie Heller fans, not to mention in the Facebook photos with that engaging little doggie face just begging you (did you read the sign?) to have her mom bring healthy vegan treats to you, your staff, and most importantly, to your audience. 

    As you know, many people hear "vegan" and think tofu and carrots. They've been astounded by the variety of wonderful dishes your chef has prepared, and I, like many of my vegan friends, (I've got a few, let's see, about 350 on Twitter, another couple of hundred on Facebook, and about a thousand on another group) think you are doing us all a great service by showing your audience how easy it is to be vegan. As they say,  the proof is in the vegan pudding, and the vegan community is growing.You are having an impact, dear Ellen, and I am grateful.

    Here's my hope:

    Remember those peanut butter cookies with the fork tine prints across the top, maybe Mom made them or G'ma? They were awesome and just filled with eggs and fat and other bad stuff like refined sugar bleached by running it through the charred bones of non-human persons. Definitely NOT vegan. 

    I am happy to report you can have peanut butter cookies, and a load of other childhood treats back in your cookie jar, but this time they will be healthier. Rickie Heller wants to bring her cookbook, Sweet Freedom on your show. I mean she really really really wants to be on your show and we really really want her to succeed. Rickie is articulate, funny, and way entertaining. We simply adore watching her antics and we want her to be rewarded for all the hard work she's done to get her wonderful cookbooks into the hands of the public. 
    Sweet Freedom: Desserts You'll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar

    Rickie Heller is the instrument. You, dear Ellen, are the conductor. We, the thousands of vegans who want to clear up misconceptions about how easy it is to live a vegan life can be your chorus - if you invite Ricki Heller on the Ellen Show. Please ask Ricki, it would be an amazing gift to us all. 

    Very best regards,

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    My life has not been splendid.
    I was pregnant by my 15th birthday. I got married on the day I took my final exams in math for my sophomore year.

    My life resembles that of a cow in many ways. I didn't want to be pregnant.

    In many ways my life does NOT resemble that of a cow. I have a voice. I got to say " I want to keep my baby"

    And I did. It was the most difficult poorly thought out thing known to mankind. But I did keep my baby. I am the grandchild of a woman who died from a septic abortion. This blog entry is multi-facected as I am multi-faceted - a vegan, a woman who supports free choice in reproductive rights, a feminist, and a person who just wants to look in the eyes of all living, sentient beings without guilt. Is that asking too much?
    Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Anai Rhoads of AnaiRhoads.org about her take on injustices and this is how it went.

    S: Please take a moment to tell the readers a little about yourself. How long have you been vegan? What sparked your interest in animal rights?

    Anai: I began my veganism in 2000, but before that I was vegetarian for approximately 29 years. I had a strange sense that consuming animals was an odd thing to do, even at the age of two.
    My youngest years were spent in Athens, Greece, where I was born. The city had zoos, if you could call them that. Animals roamed within rusty-nailed wooden fences that seemed like they could collapse at any moment. One day, my mother brought me to see the horses there. I had a fascination with horses and at the time, it seemed like a great idea. I watched a horse ram his/her head over and over against a tree. Almost as if he/she was so defeated, that living became pointless. Children laughed and threw things and I remember feeling frozen in deep thought. Although witnessing this at the age of three was difficult, I am thankful to have seen it. It solidified something in me that animals are not ours to use as entertainment, food or otherwise. My path was set.
    I have been a social justice activist since 1991, and began AnaiRhoads.org (initially as a portfolio) in 1996. Started small, but it has attracted hundreds of thousands of dedicated readers over the years. The site offers a plethora of topics, so whether you agree with us or not there is always something that appeals to someone.

    S: You have written openly against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA). How can we, as donors, be assured that our donations are utilized and not kept? Example: HSUS after Katrina, money was unaccounted for and none of it was spent on reuniting companions with their human counterparts.

    Anai: HSUS and PeTA, are notorious for hoarding funds, yes. But without them animal rights wouldnt be as prominent as it is now. Their initial effectiveness, however, has been replaced by corporate deals which have essentially given meat-eaters an opportunity to feel better about consuming animals and their by-products. Donating to grassroots organizations is a far better use of your hard-earned money, than donating to celebrity-naked-women-clad orgs. Better yet, donate your time.

    S: I've been criticized for not being a big supporter of Single Issue Campaigns (SICs) because I've yet to see one work, for humans or non-humans. Do you agree that drawing attention to one single animal form is counterintuitive to getting the word out that the only way to effectively impact the plight of non-humans is through vegan education?

    Anai: I believe all SICs have the opportunity to open dialogue, whether it is positive or negative. Remember, if you eat/promote soy as a protein replacement, you are entertaining a SIC too. Many assume eating soy is fabulous, but it isnt for all of the small animals crushed under the weight of plows. I no longer eat soy, knowing what I know now. So, in the end there may not be a perfect philosophy out there. SIC or otherwise.

    S: With regards to SIC and animal rights groups, I've learned you've recently left Friends of Animals (FoA). Would you care to explain what happened, or why you chose to leave?

    Anai: The response to my resignation was a little overwhelming to say the least. The phone has been ringing off the hook and my inbox is overflowing, to my surprise. My reasons for leaving were, for the most part, ethical. I really think we didn't fit well. Before joining FoA, I was an independent journalist who encouraged the victories of all non-profits. The conflicts between FoA and most animal rights-based groups (even some enviro groups) were often intense, which left me with nothing to celebrate or write for that matter.
    As for SICs, FoA typically took on campaigns as they came, and tackled whatever issue needed to be addressed. Some SIC and some not SIC. There is one that was strikingly SIC however, and that would be the campaign against US Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir, who bragged about his love of fur and promised to wear a tuft of Arctic white fox fur on his costume at the Olympics earlier this year.

    While I was writing the press release and letter against Weir, I began to have reservations regarding the campaign. There was no mention of the obvious - leather skates. This was something that was shot down, so I went ahead and released the PR and sent it to his costume designer. This sparked an insane amount of press and everyone had their own opinion about it, of course. Abolitionists pointed out the flaw in the campaign SIC. So for FoA, I will admit, that the Weir campaign, along with the March for Mustangs protest against the Bureau of Land Management (March 25th 2010, White House) were SIC. For the protest, it lacked conversation about how our diets play a role in the round-ups of wild horses and burros in the West and the Weir campaign ignored the leather skates, feathers and other animal-derived products.
    However, it is my belief that we should encourage any campaign, which aims to assist humans or nonhumans. There is no room, or time for that matter, to bicker about who is right and who is wrong. I got to witness this firsthand between groups and it was disheartening.

    Whether campaigns are perceived as SIC or not, their victories need to be appreciated and noted, even FoAs. Weir backed down and didn't wear fur on his costumes at the Olympics. But that wasn't the real victory - because he openly wore fur on camera. The real victory came when millions of people around the world learned how fur is really obtained. So, we can look at it either way. We may lose our audience if we only focused on fulfilling every minute detail in a campaign. SIC campaigns have their purpose, sometimes.

    I don't have a single issue that fascinates me; I have a wide-range of interests. However, I respect all of those who have a passion for even the most isolated issue because they are doing something that otherwise may not be met directly by a wide-interest group.

    S: You also cover topics regarding human trafficking. What happens to the victims? Are they used in prostitution? Work for slave wages in abattoirs?

    Anai: Some human trafficking consists of initial consent; however, the victim doesn't know the true extent of what may happen to them once they have successfully crossed borders. The typical promises made by the traffickers include jobs and freedom from the poverty or oppression they are experiencing at home.
    I wrote about a Wisconsin couple that used a Philippine native as a slave (http://www.anairhoads.org/criminaljustice/wislave2009.shtml). This young woman was under the impression that she would be cared for, but instead she, like most, was used as a mere commodity. This is happening, right now, around the globe.
    A variety of things happen from being dumped off to forced to work in slave-labor to prostitution. Each case is different. Some make it out okay, while others live in a loop of abuse.

    S: You are known to have strong opinions on immigration. What do you see as a solution to the immigration issue?

    Anai: The ideal solution would be to dismantle the US-Mexico border, which is harming the environment and leading to the deaths of countless animals, and ignoring the imaginary borders around the world that hold all of us hostage to a country. No human is illegal. The core change in the US needs to come from true immigration reform. Right now there is little we can do. Our hands, as citizens, are tied. We need to revamp policies, which aim to support undocumented workers in order to put an end to this trafficking trend. Once that happens, and once prostitution is legalized traffickers will be out of business.
    As it is right now, workers, and those who are brought in for the sole purpose of prostitution, are under the control of someone else who profits from them. Basic civil liberties are lost in the shuffle when it comes to undocumented workers. Instead of finding themselves in a country where they can work and be free like everyone else they are confronted with people who often use them. In my opinion, its not just the traffickers who are at fault every US resident/citizen who takes advantage of an undocumented worker is equally guilty.

    S: Back to veganism - as an hourly wage earning vegan, how do I and others like me make the largest change happen?

    Anai: Never underestimate the usefulness of a single activist. As you know, veganism is more than how we eat; its also how we treat our fellow human-animals too. Join forces with everyone, even if you don't necessarily agree with their philosophy. There are always opportunities to reach out and open dialogue with people you don't agree with.
    Celebrate all victories, whether they appear SIC or not because these victories have benefited a living being in one way or another.
    Write letters, make calls, host a protest and keep networking. Respect those who have difference philosophies. I strongly believe that collaborating with groups is essential to our movement.End the fight, and get to work!

    S: Thank you very much for your time and thoughtful responses.
    Anai: Thank you for the opportunity!
    Cruelty is in the eye of the beholder

    I did laundry yesterday. The laundromat lady had a pizza delivered. Another customer walked across the street for her Church's Fried Chicken fix. I took my copy of Prof. Gary L. Francione's Animals as Persons to the farthest corner of the room to avoid the sights and smells of the "food" they thoughtlessly consumed. I went back to my reading, absorbing the concept that as long as animals are "things" and not granted the rights of non-human persons, not much is going to change.

    Today I saw a news story which proved that point, about chickens that were spray painted and set loose at Carnegie Mellon University and the outrageous cruelty perceived by the woman who is caring for the 9 hens delivered to her by campus police.

    Understand, I think chickens are awesome. I like them so much, in fact, that I neither eat them nor their eggs. Every time I've got a birthday gift to buy, I make a donation to a farm sanctuary for the care and feeding of a chicken. Furthermore, I don't advocate anyone spray painting any animal unless said animal is a consenting adult and has requested to be engaged in some spray painting activity. But I digress.

    What intrigues me is how the general public  can compartmentalize the dichotomy of consuming animal products and yet be so outraged when as a prank (perhaps, I am speculating) some college students spray paint chickens and cut them loose in the hallowed halls, the very same hallowed halls they'll walk through to get to the cafeteria for the Chicken Noodle Soup.

    I wonder if Beth McMaster is vegan. She's a wildlife rehabilitator. I'd think she might be, but I've got no way to confirm or deny. It doesn't take much evidence to realize she's mighty miffed about the spray painting of the hens.

    From the article: "Ms. McMaster said that as of Wednesday evening, no one from the university had contacted her about the animals, which surprised her.
    "I would think if they're serious about this and they want to get to the bottom of it, somebody would have called to inquire about how they're doing," she said.
    "Do they want to keep these things quiet? Is it routine for a college to hide crime? I mean, I think it's a crime," she said. "I'd love to see this go public, because this ... shouldn't be tolerated at these schools or anywhere else."

    McMaster sounds like she genuinely cares for chickens, right? If so, she must be vegan. If not, she's a hypocrite and in very good company.

    Professor Francione wrote: "Alternatively, if we are to make good on our claim to take animal interests seriously, then we can do so in only one way: by applying the principle of equal consideration - the rule that we ought to treat like cases alike unless there is good reason not to do so - to animals."

    I therefore propose that we vegans call upon those who would be outraged at the cruelty to look at the cruelty inherent in their lives as evidenced by whose skin they wear, by who is in their bellies,  and by who has been killed for their convenience.
    Vegan Waffles

    I stumbled upon the Worldwide Vegan Waffle Party on Facebook and have been thinking about waffles ever since. Still vacillating about actually hosting an event.
    In my vast collection of vegan cookbooks, I have Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For--From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakeswhich has some awesome ideas for both sweet and savory waffles along with excellent advice about waffle making in general.That said, I went to Amazon.com and got the Maxi-Matic you see to your left. Then I began experimenting with waffles, beginning with Isa's peanut butter waffles on page 90. Topped with organic maple syrup, Highland Sugarworks 100% Organic Grade A Dark Amber Maple Syrup, 32-Ounce Jugand Florida strawberries. Too bad there is not a photo but someone apparently was too impatient to do any food stylin' that night.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Grocery shopping…

    So you are foraging the fridge and there’s not much what looks interesting. Besides, you’ve got a mini-list of “needs.” Off you go to local grossateria, meant in the kindest way.

    You want to make, oh let’s say chili, and you're an omnivore. Your favorite chili recipe requires a pound of ground beef.

    Where did that sanitized plastic shrink wrapped package come from? The backs of immigrant workers at what we used to call “slaughterhouses” but now the new and improved word is Abattoirs. Sounds oh so French, nu?

    Here’s the problem: No one wants to work where hundreds of thousands of animals come down a processing line where YOU, my abattoir employee, get to drive a chamber bolt into her brain. No one wants to watch the reality of it. No one wants to smell blood for 9 hours a day. No one wants to be a party to the potential for a very large, frightened, but not quite dead cow or pig is flailing and complaining about it’s lot in death.

    No one happily signs up to stand for hours stripping feathers off the corpses of spent hens - "spent" because they were nothing more than egg production machines for your dining pleasure. For those who work in the poultry processing industry, those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, from constant bladder infections - (you don't get to go pee any time you want to...)this so called employment differs from slavery in only the most minor points. No one wants these jobs. Just some folks have no choice.

    Enter the immigrant – preferably illegal, for she/he will be quiet and subservient. She can be threatened with deportation if she reports unwanted sexual advances. She can be terrified into speedy production even though she's sick or pregnant or works double shifts on 2 hours sleep.

    As you indicated in your "tea parties" you don’t want to give them health care, acknowledge their needs, provide them with any basic support. That said, you’ve got no compunction to consuming that which they produce. You’ll put them in harm’s way for your chili.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    One of the questions directed to me was: what about single issue campaigns for humans? "did you think women's suffrage was good? gay rights? taking children out of factories? all human SICs."

    Good, Yes. Effective? Not so much.

    Women's rights? When a woman can be denied medical care due to previous police reports of domestic violence and – oh, it gets better, AND held criminally accountable for potential damage to an unborn fetus due to the "PRE-EXISTING" condition of domestic violence that she should have bailed on the man long ago and shame on her for putting herself and her baby in danger again. Medical insurance – denied. That's fair, right?

    Gay rights? Wait. You're kidding, right? Gay couples cannot marry in all but a few states, cannot adopt in Florida, can't get medical insurance coverage….. shall I continue? Oh, yeah, they can't take a date to the prom. Yup, another victory for SIC.

    Taking children out of factories- OK, now they're not in sweat shops. They're sold on the street. What a plus!

    As much press, publicity, and single issue campaign attention as the fur "industry" has gotten, it still thrives. Indeed, it has increased.

    Furthermore, the original question demonstrates the problem of the cute little seal campaign. Humans are animals too. Take a cute little child in a wheelchair with Muscular Dystrophy and have Jerry showboat his cause for what, like the last 45 years? What has changed? The MD Foundation is very busy in the counting room counting all the money, and there is no "cure" in sight. Indeed, those donations are being used for vivisection.

    I stand by my premise. Single issue campaigns are designed to line the coffers of the fundraisers.

    Here’s why I am so opposed to Single Issue Campaigns (SIC’s),,,

    After a rather heated debate about the seal hunt campaign, I’ve searched my soul for the reason why I am so opposed to spending time and energy on one front when so many exist:

    It’s because I’ve been present when omni friends have proudly proclaimed what great lovers of animals they are, never seeing the contradiction that they represent. One in particular stands out. This person was so confused she believed she was improving the lives of cows by buying only ORGANIC milk. I am not making this up. She believed it was perfectly acceptable to drink this milk because she applied the “organic” label to what was fed to the cow! This same person donated wide and far to “causes” she believed would improve the lives of animals.

    I genuinely tried to educate her, but every point was met with the resistance that “she donated to such and such a cause” For this person, and millions others like her, the adorable face of a baby seal is enough to send her running for her checkbook. Or in this case reading the label to be certain the seafood she’s buying did not come from Canada. And she’ll continue to delude herself that she’s doing her part. And the animals will continue to be used as property to produce her organic milk.

    Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Cooking With Bracket and Friends

    Day off, and I'm in the kitchen. See those yellow things in the bowl on top of the cookbooks (only a small part of the whole collection, but that is another blog for another time) - the yellow things that look like little lemons? They are not. They are Key Limes from the tree outside my door. The avocados in the bowl were also picked from right outside my back door. The avocado crop is just about done, and I've got the Guacamole Waistline to show for it. Baskets of avocadoes made their way to my co-workers who were eager to "help" me keep my weight to a reasonable spot.

    It's a darn good thing I'm better at following recipes than I am at photographing food, nu?

    The Maple Banana Bread shown here is from my dear friend Bracket's cookzine Recipes from the Batcave. I added walnuts. Bracket may not due to her super amazing young vegan son, Oliver, who is so outstandingly brilliant and charming, and all around adorable, that he's likely to have his own television show in the not too distant future. In the meantime, he stands beside Mom with spoon in hand, helping and giving her big thumbs up on the Chickpea Cheese that he's got me cramming into Mah Belleh all the time.

    The cookbook open in front of Bracket's cookzine is Babycakes by Erin McKenna. Today I made the Meyers Lemon and bing cherry cupcakes (they are in the pink ramekins atop the cake plate, smaller ones - still not iced- on a plate behind the flowers, and also in the heart shaped ramekins because I love little cute baking dishes and individual servings. You can admire their cuteness at the top of this post.

    Next up will be yet another batch of Bracket's Broccoli & Lemon Orzo Soup (because I am unable to prevent myself from consuming whole batches of it and I really do want some in the freezer for lunches.)

    I hope you are enjoying VeganMoFo as much as I am because this is the very best idea I've had since going vegan, and that was a long time ago.