April is Festival Time!

Berkeley Vegan Earth Day

It looks like April is going to be a busy month for getting out and celebrating with my fellow vegans (and vegan wanna-bees).

I already told you about the Conscious Eating Conference in Berkeley on April 4 – with some fabulous speakers.

Now there are two more dates to add to your calendar.

April 19, the Berkeley Vegan Earth Day will happen from 9:30am to 3:00pm. The speakers are nutritionists, animal activists, doctors and chefs, including Dr. Alan Goldhamer of True North and Keegan Kuhn co-director of Cowspiracy.

Spend the day listening to educational and earth-friendly talks and panel discussions, or wonderful food demos. There will also be vendors selling vegan products and activist groups to connect with.

Not to be outdone by its East Bay neighbor, Oakland is planning a Veg Week!

Oakland Veg WeekSome of the details are still being finalized, but there is something for everyone.

The movie on Tuesday will be Forks Over Knives followed by Q&A with a health coach and vegan athletes. Thursday is a Vegan Bar Crawl and Friday join the Youth Hip Hop Green Dinners for an event. The Veg Fest on Saturday will take place at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater – more details to come, but there will be lots of free food samples. Sunday’s event is a bus ride to Animal Place farm animal sanctuary in Grass Valley.

The Friday and Sunday events are by invitation only. Visit the site for more details.

I love living in the Bay Area and having these great events happening. It’s going to be a great spring. See you at the events.

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Conscious Eating Conference 2015

Conscious Eating Conference 2015

The United Poultry Concerns’ Fourth Annual Conscious Eating Conference takes place April 4 in Berkeley, CA from 9:00am-5:00pm. The admission is $15, which includes a vegan lunch.

I went to this conference last year and it was wonderful. Great speakers, excellent food and passionate organizations there to provide information.

This year’s conference features many great speakers, including a former undercover investigator of factory farms; Kim Sturla, the Executive Director of Animal Place sanctuary; Victoria Moran, author of 12 books including Main Street Vegan (I listen to her Main Street Vegan podcasts often); Katie Cantrell, founder of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition; and of course, Karen Davis, the President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns.

This conference is a wonderful way to find out about the latest news about veganism and animal activism. See you there.

Also, it’s not too early to mark your calendars for the 2015 Sonoma County Veg Fest, August 15 in Santa Rosa.

The Torture Never Stops – But It Must, For All of Us to Survive

Michael Moss/The New York Times

Michael Moss/The New York Times

Whether its animals or people, our society tortures millions of innocent lives everyday.

Two stories brought that home to me this week.

The New York Time published a story on Jan. 19 – U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit: Animal Welfare at Risk in Experiments for Meat Industry. The story exposes the experiments done on cows, pigs and sheep at a USDA research facility in rural Nebraska.

At a remote research center on the Nebraska plains, scientists are using surgery and breeding techniques to re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st-century meat industry. The potential benefits are huge: animals that produce more offspring, yield more meat and cost less to raise.

There are, however, some complications.

Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.

Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.

The picture above shows some of the unintended consequences of the “easy care” program.

Last Mother’s Day, at the height of the birthing season, two veterinarians struggled to sort through the weekend’s toll: 25 rag-doll bodies. Five, abandoned by overtaxed mothers, had empty stomachs. Six had signs of pneumonia. Five had been savaged by coyotes.

“It’s horrible,” one veterinarian said, tossing the remains into a barrel to be dumped in a vast excavation called the dead pit.

It was difficult getting through this article – reading about untrained personnel performing surgery on animals, ranchers being repulsed by the “twinning” program – but that didn’t stop the “researchers” from moving forward with the experiments, and dangerous experiments with horrible results.

Months into his new job at the center in 1989, Dr. Keen said, he got a call from a fellow worker asking him to help with a “downed cow.”

“There was a young cow, a teenager, with as many as six bulls,” he recalled. “The bulls were being studied for their sexual libido, and normally you would do that by putting a single bull in with a cow for 15 minutes. But these bulls had been in there for hours mounting her.”

The cow’s head was locked in a cagelike device to keep her immobile, he said. “Her back legs were broken. Her body was just torn up.”

Dr. Keen wanted to euthanize the animal, but the scientist in charge could not be tracked down for permission. A few hours later, the cow died.

In order to end the friction between researchers and veterinarians, who raised questions about experiments that would cause undue harm to animals, the research center has no veterinarians on full-time staff.

This is what happens when the need for larger profits and reduced costs becomes the driving force behind everything in the industrial food complex. Animals are commodities and expendable. It is disgusting.

Please take the time to read this important article and sign a petition started by Animal Place – an animal sanctuary in Northern CA – to call for the closure of this facility to put an end to this tax-funded cruelty and needless experimentation. Continue reading

Conscious Eating Conference

Conscious Eating ConferenceIt’s all about the animals and moving past animal protein. That was my takeaway from the Conscious Eating Conference I attended in Berkeley.

There were six dynamic speakers

  • Mary Britton Clouse, president, Chicken Run Rescue in Minnesota
  • Robert Grillo, director, Free from Harm in Chicago, a groups seeking to transform society’s attitudes about animals and food
  • Marji Beach, Advocacy and Education Director, Animal Place, a rescue and animal sanctuary organization in Northern California
  • Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, best-selling author of five books on vegan diets and cooking
  • Karen Davis, PhD., author and President of United Poultry Concerns, an organization that addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in society.
  • Ethan Brown, CEO and co-founder of Beyond Meat

Mary, Marji and Karen talked about their experience rescuing animals from animal pounds, “humane” small farms and factory farms. Their focus was on how all animals – even ones raised by people in their back yards – are treated inhumanely and the consequences for them – exploitation and early death because of the strain on their bodies from overproduction of milk or eggs.

Mary Britton Clouse, Marji Beach & Karen Davis

Mary Britton Clouse, Marji Beach & Karen Davis

They talked about the fate of male chicks and calves in the egg and dairy industries – usually a painful death shortly after birth, since these industries can’t make any money from them. Keep in mind this happens not just at factory farms, but all farms.

Mary’s sanctuary is mostly filled with birds that were from back yard chicked farmers who were mistreating the animals or had been dropped at humane shelters after the novelty wore off. Karen’s organization is located in rural Virginia on the DelMarVa peninsula where millions of chickens are raised in factory farms. Most of their rescues are from these farms. Marji’s sanctuary is filled with chickens and cows from both factory farms and small “free-range” farms.

They all had moving stories to share. Marji talked about a cow they rescued that was pregnant when she came to the sanctuary. Because of health issues, the cow’s baby died when it was delivered. The mother cow – who had never had the opportunity to bond with a calf since they would always be taken away after birth – groomed her dead calf for hours before Marji and her crew had to remove it.

Robert Grillo

Robert Grillo

Robert spent years as a branding consultant to large companies, including McDonald’s, before he got disillusioned by the messages he was creating. He talked about how companies, and society as a whole, use messaging and images to make us feel good about eating animals and painting the picture of the happy animal willingly giving us eggs, milk or their flesh.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Colleen gave a great talk about the myths about food that keep people from being vegan – they crave meat, or can’t give up cheese, or where will they get their protein? However, the truth is that protein-deficiency is non-existent in the US and people aren’t craving meat, they’re craving fat or salt.

One great point she made is that people eat meat to get nutrients or drink milk to get calcium. But these animals got the nutrients or calcium from eating plants. So skip the middle step and just eat the plants. Today, with most livestock living in factory farms and never getting to eat grass or plants, the growers feed them food supplemented with the nutrients and calcium, adding to the cost and adding another middle step in the process. Is this insanity or what?

Ethan Brown

Ethan Brown

Ethan talked about his company and the “chicken” and “beef” products they sell made from plant protein. His talk was focused on the fact that humans have been eating animal protein for over 2 million years and there will always be a demand for it. However, he believes, like Darwin, that there are only degrees of difference between humans and other animals and killing billions of animals each year for human consumption is wrong.

Beyond Meat’s products replicate the taste of animal protein, without the environmental and health problems associated with raising and slaughtering animals. According to figures from The World Bank, the meat and dairy industry account for 51% of the greenhouse gasses that are fueling climate change.

Beyond Meat, and other companies that sell similar products, are on a mission to reduce animal protein consumption by 25% by 2020.

During the panel discussion with all of the presenters, a question was asked about vegans and animal rights activists being seen as too pushy about the things they are passionate about. Karen responded that all social justice movements – the civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s, the Abolitionists before the Civil War, and other were always seen as being too pushy and the animal rights cause is no different. Colleen’s view was that you have to find your own voice when talking about these issues. Don’t be offensive, but don’t be afraid of offending someone.

This was a great conference with great information. Many thanks to the folks from United Poultry Concerns who made it possible.

Conscious Eating Conference

Conscious Eating Conference
This year’s Conscious Eating Conference has a dynamic lineup of speakers including author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Beyond Meat’s CEO Ethan Brown, and the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, Karen Davis, among others.

This is sure to be a fantastic day with delicious vegan food, great presentations, focused breakout sessions and more.

The Conference takes place Sunday, April 6, 2014 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA from 9:00am-6:00pm

This event is co-sponsored by United Poultry Concerns and Animal Place. Free for students! $15 for all others includes lunch and Continental breakfast.