Circles of Compassion

Circles of Compassion

circles of compassion coverDr. Will Tuttle, author of the World Peace Diet, has edited a new book Circles of Compassion: Essays Connecting Issues of Justice. The foreword is written by author and activist Carole J. Adams.

This book consists of a series of essays by internationally recognized authors and activists, Edited by Dr. Will Tuttle. The essays focus on how the seemingly disparate issues of human, animal, and environmental rights are indeed connected. Authors also provide practical guidance about how to make the individual, systems, and social changes necessary to effectively create a peaceful and just world for all.

It includes essays from over 25 authors including Robert Grillo, Melanie Joy, Richard Oppenlander, lauren Ornelas, and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

It is available for 25% off the original price on the publisher’s website as a book or PDF ebook, or from Amazon. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Veganism quote


Ralph Nader

I went to hear Ralph Nader this evening at our local independent bookstore – Book Passage – talking about his new book Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. There was a large crowd to hear him, and it included a fair number of young people.

He started with the conclusion – “It’s easier that we think.”

The book is about convergences. It’s about getting past the Left-Right, Liberal-Conservative, Red State-Blue State feuding that paralyses this country and finding areas of common ground on 25 key issues, including:

  • UunstoppableRequiring the Department of Defense budget be audited annually
  • Adjust the minimum wage to inflation
  • Break up the “Too Big to Fail” banks
  • Push community self-reliance
  • Revise trade agreements
  • End corporate personhood
  • End the ineffective war on drugs
  • Prioritize the protection of the environment

Two issues that resonated with me were:

  • Protect children from commercialism and it physical and mental exploitation and harm
  • Oppose the patenting of life forms, including human genes

Nader talked about going to a meeting of evangelicals a few years ago and getting a standing ovation after his talk about protecting children from rampant commercialism. Through direct marketing aimed at children, parents have lost control over what their children see and the choices they make. We are raising a generation of children who have been marketed to eat junk foods, and buy addictive products such as tobacco, alcohol and medications. The results of this are record levels of child obesity and young teens dealing with addictions. This is an issue that needs convergence to take on the hucksters who are profiting off of our children.

The issue of patenting life forms touches on GMO products, but also the work done and patents issued on gene research. But it is especially in the area of GMO labeling that the corporate state dominates. According to Nader, 90% of the American people want labeling on genetically engineered foods. However, Monsanto has prevailed over the majority. There is a growing movement to get labeling laws passed at state and local levels, but a nationwide movement is needed.

We have to reclaim our power and make the people in Washington, DC or state legislatures address them by speaking up, marching, writing letters, making phone calls and – most importantly – getting people to vote. When politicians know that people are engaged and willing to vote for or against them based on how well they listen to them, things will get done. Several examples of this was stopping the move to intervene in Syria in 2013 and the grassroots effort to stop the Orwellian-named Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) a few years ago.

It doesn’t take a lot of people to make these convergences work, usually less than 1% of the population, but it takes persistence and talking to people to help these ideas spread.

I would like to add a few more convergences that I think could find some common ground. They are:

  • Food labeling
  • Subsidizing organic foods – fruits and vegetables

Along with the labeling of GMOs, we also need to revise the current food labeling laws so that we get more information about the types and amounts of sugars in food and clearer information about harmful additives.

In this country, as I’ve written about before, we subsidize the foods that make us overweight and sick, instead of organic fruits and vegetables. There are large numbers of people who want to eat healthy, but find they can’t afford these products. It’s time to make our voices heard on this issue.

Nader is a realist – he’s been doing this work too long to be otherwise – he knows that there are challenges in making these convergences happen. But he comes back to the conclusion – It’s easier than we think.

Let’s get to work!

Seeds of Hope

Jane Goodall
Recently I’ve wished happy birthday to Drs. Esselstyn and Campbell, two plant-based eaters who are vibrant and active at 80 years old. Yesterday I saw another plant-based eater still very active at age 80 – Jane Goodall.

She spoke to a full auditorium at Dominican College here in San Rafael as part of a lecture series by the college and local bookseller Book Passage.

Seeds of HopeShe was talking about her new book Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants. The book (which I haven’t had a chance to read yet) has sections on her love for nature, the men and women who over the centuries discovered the wonders of plants, how we have used and abused plants, and thoughts about the way forward.

During the conversation between the owner of Book Passage and Jane and her co-author Gail Hudson, they talked about Jane’s grandmothers garden, where she began her fascination with the natural world; the explorers who risked their lives to discover and learn about new trees and plants; her Roots & Shoots program to get young people involved in learning more about and caring for animals, plants and the environment; and about the troubling patenting of seeds and other living things by corporations and its impact on farmers around the world.

During a question about the environment, she talked about meat and meat production.

After visiting a slaughterhouse, the next time she saw a piece of cooked meat all she saw was “fear, pain and death.”

She talked about the amounts of methane – more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide – produced by the millions of animals raised for slaughter. As more people from developing countries start eating more meat products, forests and jungles are being cleared for meat production. This is destroying natural habitats for native plants and animals.

She also raised concerns about the amount of antibiotics used to keep these animals alive until they are slaughtered and how that is making all antibiotics less effective.

When someone in the audience asked what we can do about this, her answer was “It’s simple, don’t eat meat!” Which elicited enthusiastic applause from the audience. She said how much better she feels since she has stopped eating meat.

“At the age of 80, I couldn’t imagine being able to travel and speak 300 days a year if I still ate meat.”

According to sources I found, Jane is vegetarian, not vegan, because she has found that it’s hard to be vegan given how much she travels. She told one audience that if she was at home all the time she would eat all vegan.

At the end of the talk they brought out a birthday cake (her 80th birthday was on April 3rd) and we all sang. Jane shared with us how the chimps would have reacted to the cake. It was wonderful.

I’ve been very pessimistic lately about the state of the world. When I look around, I see so many issues that need to be addressed and very little action on any of them. However, after seeing all that Jane has done and continues to do in so many areas, and her willingness to spend so much of her time spreading her message of hope, I know that there are steps all of us can take to do our part to change the world. Starting with the attitude that anything is possible.

The End of Dieting

Dr Fuhrman on Dr Oz Show Dr. Joel Fuhrman was on the Dr. Oz Show last week talking about his new book The End of Dieting. It is a follow-up to his best selling book Eat to Live.

The focus of his new book is on his Nutritarian lifestyle – eating all you want of the proper foods for good nutrition and health. Like Drs. Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougall and Ornish, he advocates a whole food, plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and seeds. Like Dr. Ornish’s Spectrum plan, Dr. Fuhrman also allows for a small intake of dairy and lean meat.

On the show, I thought he did a great job describing the problems associated with on and off dieting and also highlighting the differences between his plan and the Paleo, Wheat Belly or Mediterranean diets.

The hook Dr. Fuhrman uses is the concept of eating G-BOMBS:

  • Greens – eat a lot of greens and salads for their nutrients
  • Beans – full of carbohydrates that don’t spike blood sugar
  • Onions – have great anti-cancer properties
  • Mushrooms – good for preventing breast cancer
  • Berries – good for reversing cancer (and they taste great)
  • Seeds – rich in protein and healthy fat

There is a lot of good information on his website, although some areas are members-only. I am also sad to see the line of supplements that he sells. I believe, based on the information from Drs. Cambell, McDougall and others, that if you eat a healthy diet, you don’t need additional supplements.

However, Dr. Fuhrman is another voice advocating eating whole foods and mostly plant-based at a time when the best seller lists are full of books advocating increased meat and dairy consumption. I hope his book will inspire more people to eat healthy and stop the unhealthy diet cycles that can cause damage and increase the risk of chronic diseases.


With Age, Wisdom; with Wisdom, Vegan

Patti Breitman

Marin County author Patti Breitman and two co-authors have written a new book Never Too Late to Go Vegan. The book is designed as a resource for people over-50 who are interested in becoming vegan. It’s written for people who have the wisdom to understand the health, compassion for animals and environmental aspects of veganism, but haven’t discovered them yet. And it’s written for people who are currently vegan and want a better understanding – or some fabulous recipe ideas. The authors address the issue of change.

Change may be scary and challenging, but we’ve seen that before. We haven’t gotten to where we are in life without change.

We wrote this book to reassure you, bust your notions of what aging looks like, show you how to prepare scrumptious foods, and help you rediscover one of the most precious, life-affirming parts of yourself. We hope it will be a successful introduction to a lifestyle that brings you renewed energy, better health, a new sense of purpose, and a new experience of power to affect change. This is what it has done for us and for countless others who choose a vegan way of life.

Patti is passionate about helping everyone to become vegan – for whatever reason they choose. She sees  veganism as “a big tent,” that includes people who have different reasons for becoming vegan – for animal kindness, for health, for the environmental impact – and different ways of eating. She believes that even going vegan for one meal a day or one day a week is a move towards kindness and health.

A large crowd turned out at Book Passage last Saturday to hear the highly energetic, funny and enthusiastic Patti read from and discuss her book. The crowd was so large, and Patti is such an enthusiastic speaker, the store sold out of her book. It was great to see so many people interested in finding out about this life-changing lifestyle.

Book Passage Crown

Beyond scrumptious recipes and time-saving food tips, Never Too Late to Go Vegan will support you in your veganism by focusing on physical changes, cultural stereotypes, nutritional needs, and social issues that are specific to people in their fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond.

The authors address vegan myths like it’s too hard, or expensive, or vegans don’t get enough protein. They address, honestly, the impact of meat eating on the environment, hunger and animals – and why phrases like humanely raised and free range are deceptive feel-good messages designed to ease the meat eater’s conscience.

One chapter focuses on the vegan as caregiver for a loved one or close friend in a crisis or who needs long-term caregiving. If the person needing care is you and you are vegan, the authors provide empowering information about what to ask for from your caregiver or in assisted living or other care facilities.

Sprinkled throughout the book are the stories of vegans over 50 , along with personal reflections from Patti and the co-authors  about how they became vegan, how they share it with others, and what’s in their homes and fridges.

I haven’t had a chance to read all of the recipes, but there are some wonderful suggestions for “veganizing” familiar recipes and making simple, delicious vegan meals. One suggestion, from the book, is to cook large pots of rice and beans at the beginning of the week and then use the recipes for different spice combinations – Chinese, Indian, Creole and others – to mix with the rice and beans and have a different taste every day.

I love the title of the book’s Preface – With Age, Wisdom; with Wisdom, Vegan. Becoming vegan is a natural progression for those of us who are concerned about our health, the health of the world and all of its sentient beings.

You can read more about Patti in this article from the Marin Independent Journal.

More information about the book can be found at

Blessing the Hands That Feed Us – Part 2

Vicki Robin

I went to see Vicki Robin at Copperfield’s Bookstore in San Rafael. There were 12-15 people there who braved the mid-January near 70 degree temperature and clear skies – actually she was surprised there were so many people there, why weren’t we at the beach?

She didn’t have time to read from the book, Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us about Food, Community, and Our Place on Earth. She spent the hour talking about her experience and how it woke her up to the issues related to our modern industrial food system.

Her book chronicles her 10-mile diet challenge. Starting September 1, 2010 she spent a month eating only what she could get (with some minor exceptions – caffeine (tea), oil, salt and lemon) within a 10 mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. That meant a month without, among other things, grains, beans and nuts.

Robin talked about the inventions that started us on the path to an industrial food system – the railroads, refrigeration, fertilizer made from nitrates. She talked a bit about the dark side of industrial food, like food-related illnesses and chronic diseases, and how it has changed us as a society. So many people have lost the skill of cooking for themselves and once they get hooked on fast food and take-out they have no reason to relearn to cook. She talked to a family in New York City where the children know it’s dinner time when the doorbell rings. Or cities where they are building apartments w/out kitchens.

The industrialization of food didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t be replaced quickly. In fact, it may not be able to be replaced, totally, by a local food system. She does believe that local food will continue to become more popular and accepted, the way alternative medicine and organic food did over time.

Before industrialization, people depended on the vitality of their place for their “diet” – what and how they ate. Everything was local and you made do with what you had. Can we go back to that? Can we challenge communities to keep local businesses? See local food as a growth industry? Challenge our personal notions of how we spend our time, money?

In the book she makes the case that eating fresh is usually cheaper that buying fast food or a box of Hamburger Helper or other “prepared foods.” A box of rice pilaf mix is nothing more than rice and some spices that you then have to cook. Making your own rice and adding your own spices and vegetables will cost less and be a healthier meal.

Skimming through the book, I found this quote. Robin was looking at the bounty in the box of food left for her by the farmer who would supply the majority of her vegetables during her 10-mile diet month.

The bond of love and vulnerability between feeder and eater began with that box of food. Later I came to realize how this experiment was as much about the love as about the food, the knitting together of producer and consumer into the fabric of community. Indeed, one of the oddities, once you think of it, of our modern industrial system is this lack of relationship. I was headed, unknowingly, into relational eating.

Relational eating meant getting to know her community and the abundance that was there. It also meant paying $25 for a chicken. When the person who sold it to her described the process of getting that chicken raised, fed, and prepared to sell she understood that it was worth the money. Her other question was, how does the industrial food system sell the same chicken for so little?

Finally, Robin believes that we need to “De-school our thoughts about food, cooking, local vs industrial” and work to make local food a viable alternative to the industrial food system.

Personally, I want to thank Copperfield’s and our other independent bookstore Book Passage for bringing wonderful authors and speakers to our area. These local stores are treasures.

Blessing the Hands That Feed Us

Vicki RobinVicki Robin, co-author of the best-selling book Your Money or Your Life, has a new book entitled Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us about Food, Community, and Our Place on EarthThe book chronicles her 10-mile diet challenge. Starting September 1, 2010 she spent a month eating only what she could get (with some minor exceptions) within a 10 mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound.

The challenge changed her attitude about food and community. The book also includes recipes and strategies for all of us to eat closer to home.

Vicki is on a tour of the West Coast promoting the book and will be at the Copperfield Books in Santa Rosa this evening, January 17, and the new Copperfield Books in San Rafael tomorrow afternoon.

I’m looking forward to hearing her. I’ll write more tomorrow after the talk.

Vicki Robin Book

The Low-Carb Fraud

Low Carb Fraud

Why do people think low-carb diets are a good idea? What’s the truth behind the low-carb hype? What’s the truly optimal diet for achieving an ideal weight while also obtaining health and longevity?

If there’s one thing I hope you’ll take away from this e-book, it’s this: the low-carb diet’s ability to bring about quick weight loss is far outweighed by the serious health problems that accompany such an animal foods–heavy diet.

Dr. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study and Whole, has a new e-book – The Low-Carb Fraud – that looks at the Low-Carb diet phenomenon and the hype and misconceptions surrounding them. He also reviews the hype and flawed logic behind the Paleo diets.

The two main points Campbell refutes are

  • the low-carb proponents assertion that all carbs are bad for you
  • when they compare the low-carb diet to a “low fat” diet, their definition of low fat is the same or worse than the Standard American Diet (or SAD) Continue reading

Are You Feeding Your Brain for Health?

Power Foods for the BrainDo you believe that we are all doomed to get dementia or Alzheimer’s as we age? The current numbers are frightening.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Facts and Figures Report, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease and 1 in 3 dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Dr. Neal Barnard‘s latest book – Power Foods for the Brain – looks at how changes to diet and lifestyle can improve brain health and prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Using information from the latest studies, Barnard lays out a three-step plan for brain health: healthy foods, mental and physical exercise, and sleep. Barnard advocates a whole food, plant-based diet and avoiding meat, dairy, eggs and added oils.

He also shares the latest research on foods that can protect your brain from toxic metals and vitamins that can assist in improving brain health.

Neal Barnard, MDIn the book he talks about his North Dakota upbringing, eating a diet based on red meat, dairy and eggs – with few vegetables. As his parents got older, they began to get dementia. Based on his research, he got them to change their diet and it slowed and stopped the progress of their dementia. At one point, his parents moved into an assisted living facility and started eating the standard American diet again. The dementia started progressing again until Dr. Barnard was able to get them home again and change their diet back.

This book was very easy to read and Barnard lays out many great suggestions for making changes to diet, exercise and lifestyle to improve brain (and body) health.

I found an interesting website, called Silk, where you can share collections of anything – coffee places, vacation spots or nutrition books. I created one to highlight the books I have read – you can find it here. Currently, this book is the only one in the collection, but more will be there soon.

Dr. Barnard’s 3-step plan for brain health gives all of us the tools we need to slow the progress of these deadly diseases. Read this book and share it with your friends and loved ones who may be at risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

A Man on a Mission

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD, F.A.C.S.Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn is a man on a mission – to end the epidemic of chronic heart disease in the US and other Western countries by promoting a whole food, plant-based (WFPB), oil free diet.

Esselstyn knows how to set a goal and reach it. As part of the US Olympic rowing team in 1956, his team won the gold medal. After attending medical school he served as a physician in Vietnam, then became a surgeon at the Cleveland clinic, where he worked for 40 years. He is a man driven to succeed. Now he is facing the toughest challenge of his life – changing the eating habits of the American public in order to end heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

In his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Esselstyn shows how changing the diets of his chronically ill patients reversed their heart disease. Although they were all told by their doctors there was nothing else medicine or procedures could do for them, Dr. Esselstyn’s “prescription” kept them free of heart attacks and stroke for over 25 years and gave them back their strength and health.

Prevent and Reverse Heart DiseaseDr. Esselstyn is featured in the movie Forks Over Knives. His book provides additional information about the research behind his WFPB diet, why oils aren’t heart healthy and how the USDA Dietary Recommendations promote increased disease. His scientifically proven, nutrition-based cure is similar to those advocated by others, including Doctors Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish and John McDougall. All of them have shown the power of these diets to change lives.

Couscous and African Stew

Couscous and African Stew

As powerful as Dr. Esselstyn’s message, the other half of the book is a collection of wonderful recipes from his wife, Ann. They include fabulous soups, stews, salads and main course dishes along with breakfast and dessert items. We have discovered a whole new set of favorites: Sloppy Lentil Joes, Black Bean – Oatmeal Burgers, Couscous and African Stew, and Lentil Loaf served with potatoes and mushroom gravy.

For me, this book, along with the Forks Over Knives movie, changed my life. I lost over 20 pounds, got off of my blood pressure medicine and have more energy than before.

My wife and I had the chance to meet Dr. Esselstyn and his wife at a weekend retreat. They are compassionate, warm and giving of their time and expertise. They are lively, energetic and ready for the challenge of getting as many people as possible to follow their truly heart-healthy way of living and ending coronary heart disease – which Dr. Esselstyn insists, need never exist.