WebSpotlight: VegFund Helps You Serve Fabulous Vegan Food in Your Community

veganfoodYou’ve been there: the fundraising dinner to help the local humane society help companion animals; the environmental club meeting focused on helping protect wildlife; the human rights fair dedicated to eliminating oppression — all great causes working for a more compassionate, just world, and what’s on the menu? Animals.

Sometimes organizations working for a better world forget about the impact of the food we eat on people, the planet, and especially animals, so it’s great that there’s a new resource available for citizen activists.

VegFund.org helps “fund the distribution of vegan food at local events.”

If you can find an event (preferably one that wouldn’t normally have vegan food) in your community at which you can serve free vegan food, then you can apply to VegFund for possible reimbursement of your food and supply expenses. (See application details.) According to their website, VegFund grants thousands of dollars every week to people organizing vegan food at events.

If you’re someone who has cash to spare, you can also donate to VegFund, so that they can offer grants to other activists.

Image courtesy of JP Puerta via Creative Commons.
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Mark Your Calendar: Jeffrey Masson at Powell’s April 3

faceonyourplateWell-known for diving into the depths of animal emotions in books such as Dogs Never Lie About Love, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, and The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has a new book out this month that focuses on who ends up on our plates and the consequences of eating them.  Heralded by one reviewer as “Intelligent, absorbing and very easy to digest, this is an essential book for any person who thinks and/or eats,” The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food (W.W. Norton, 2009) examines the health, environmental and spiritual impacts of industrial agriculture and of eating animals.

Masson will be appearing at Powell’s (1005 W. Burnside) here in Portland, Oregon  on Friday, April 3, at 7:30 pm. Here’s his current book tour schedule.

Get the Guide to the “Cleanest” and “Dirtiest” Fruits and Veggies

pesticideguidePart of living a MOGO life means choosing plant-based, local, fresh, healthy, organic foods whenever possible. But, choosing organic produce 100% of the time isn’t always possible, whether it’s due to availability or budget.

When you can’t go totally organic, you can still make a point to avoid fruits and vegetables with the heaviest pesticide use and residues. The Environmental Working Group has a downloadable guide to the “dirty dozen” and “cleanest 12” produce items.

The top fruits and veggies to avoid include peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines and lettuce. If money’s especially tight, onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples and mangoes are some of the produce lowest in pesticides (of course, fruits like mangoes and pineapples are shipped a long way, so that’s another reason to reduce your consumption of such items).

You can also find a list of 43 fruits and vegetables, with their pesticide rankings.

The next time you hear someone say they can’t afford to buy any organic produce, share this guide with them, and point out that, while organics can bit a bit more at the checkout stand, they’re also paying for richer soil, cleaner air and water, healthier bodies, safer wildlife and other benefits.

~ Marsha

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Portland Area MOGO-esque Events

Be sure to schedule these into your iPhone, Blackberry, calendar, piece of scratch paper, or whatever you use to keep track of can’t-miss events:

The most essential ones (in my opinion — but, of course, that’s ’cause I’m helping organize them) are Zoe Weil’s appearance at Powell’s on February 4, and the MOGO Workshop on Saturday, February 7. Here are some details:

Author and president of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil, is appearing at Powell’s – Hawthorne (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd. ) at 7:30 pm to talk about her new book, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful LifeMost Good, Least Harm shows that choosing to do the most good and the least harm is personally enriching and helps to bring about a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world for all. If you care about social change issues at all (you know, like world peace, human rights, animal protection, environmental preservation — those kinds of things), be sure to attend.

Zoe is also leading an all-day MOGO (Most Good) Workshop on Saturday, February 7 here in Portland.  Creating a humane and sustainable world is not easy.  But when you live a life that deeply embodies your principles, not only do you help improve the world, you also cultivate your own inner peace and joy.  Tap into your deepest values and make choices that do the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet with this terrific workshop. The regular registration fee is $110; the registration fee for students is $75; but, what’s that when this workshop could change your life and change the world?! Find out more.

Here are some other upcoming events to be sure to attend:

Internet Activism with Glenn Gaetz
Sunday, January 25, from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, at PSU (Smith Memorial Union, Room 238 )
This workshop, sponsored by the Let Live Foundation, features Glenn Gaetz from Liberation B.C., who’ll be talking about topics like  “making a website, using social networking sites, e-newsletters, and other relevant online tools.” Let Live will be hosting a different topic each month, so be sure to check them out.

Why Farm Animals Matter
Tuesday, February 3, at 7:00 pm, at PSU (Smith Memorial Union, Room 101)
NW VEG, Vegans for Animal Advocacy and the Let Live Foundation are sponsoring this talk by Erin Williams, communications director for HSUS and author of the book Why Animals Matter. Erin will be talking about “the importance of making humane, sustainable food choices” and will share some of the exciting recent advancements for farmed animals in the United States.

NW VEG has some other great upcoming events, such as their new Happy Hour on Friday, January 30, their book club on Tuesday, February 10, and  their first annual Vegan Valentine’s Bake-off on Sunday, February 15. Find out more about NW VEG Events.

Also in the same vegan vein are the events sponsored by the MeetUp group Viva La Vegan. You have to be a member to enjoy all the benefits (about $6/year), but great upcoming events include the Garden Planning Primer on Saturday, January 31, and the free Ice Cream Social on Saturday, February 14Find out more and consider joining.

Know of more terrific MOGO-esque events in the Portland area? Let us know.

Bill Moyers Interview with Michael Pollan on Food Policy

moyerspollanA couple weeks ago, Bill Moyers sat down for an interview with food policy journalist Michael Pollan, who is the author of books such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I’m reading now) and In Defense of Food.

In the debate about who will be the next Secretary of Agriculture, some have advocated Pollan for the position. He has become outspoken about food issues and the need for a major transformation of America’s food system, and in October he published “Farmer in Chief,”  an open letter to the next president about food issues, in the New York Times.

In the interview, Pollan discusses the connection between industrial food production and the health crisis (rising rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc.), energy independence, global warming, and national security. His suggestions for how the Obama Administration should take action regarding food policy include:

  • Reducing and eliminating some food subsidies (especially for crops like corn and soy)
  • Transferring oversight of the School Lunch Program from the USDA to the Education or Health and Human Services Departments
  • Decentralizing our food supply
  • Encouraging locally grown food (he advocates a White House Chef and a Farmer who can provide locally-grown, organic food to the White House
  • Applying strategies such as farmers’ markets in urban areas
  • Building an alternative food economy.

Pollan also offers suggestions for actions citizens can take to make a positive difference in the food arena, including:

  • Thinking “of the dollars you spend on a food in a different way” – vote with your fork for food systems and strategies that are sustainable and restorative
  • Voting with your vote and voice for food systems and strategies that are restorative
  • Cooking from scratch more often
  • Starting your own garden

It’s an interesting interview. Be sure to check it out.

MOGOing Around Portland: Get a Yummy Vegan Meal and Help the Animals

If you live in the Portland, Oregon, area, and you’re looking for a way to fill your tummy with tasty goodness AND help animals, check out Apron Activists.  Started by vegan food guru Isa Chandra Moskowitz (author of Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and other delectable cookbooks) and Herbivore Clothing Company co-founder Michelle Schweggmann, Apron Activists host occasional dinners to raise funds for organizations that help animals. The next dinner is Friday, December 12 at Sweetpea Bakery (1205 SE Stark). Doors open at 7:30 pm and dinner begins at 8 pm. The menu is a Jamaican theme:

Appetizer
Plantain Rice Paper Rolls
Rice noodles, sweet plantains and toasted pumpkin seeds in a fresh rice paper roll with chili dipping sauce

Soup
Jamaican Curry With Roti Bread
Sweet potatoes, kidney beans and baby limas in a rich Jamaican spiced coconut curry served with flat bread for dipping

Entree
Jerk Tofu And Yucca
Marinated and grilled jerk tofu a green beans served over mashed yucca and topped with a fresh mango salsa

Dessert
Pumpkin Rum Bread Pudding
A lush and spicy pumpkin bread pudding spiked with rum, served warm with vanilla ice cream

Ginger Tea will be served. Please bring your own beer and wine.

Tickets are on a sliding scale, from $40 – $100 each.  According to the info, “Diners who pay 60 dollars or more will also be receiving a really neat bag of holiday goodies that will include fresh baked cookies. 100% of the proceeds go to the Family Dogs shelter.”

The lucky animal organization this time is Family Dogs New Life Shelter, a no-kill dog shelter.

Find out more.

Image courtesy of Apron Activists.

Peter Singer on Animal Rights, Poverty, Food Choices

petersingerI’m a little slow in pointing it out, but in case you haven’t already heard, there was an interesting commentary in Newsweek by Peter Singer recently. “The Rights of Animals” looks at the current and potentially future states of the rights and treatment of animals (mainly through the lens of Western countries). Here’s a nice tidbit:

“The notion that we should recognize the rights of animals living among us rests on a firm ethical foundation. A sentient being is sentient regardless of which species it happens to belong to. Pain is pain, whether it is the pain of a cat, a dog, a pig or a child.

“Consider how widely humans differ in their mental abilities. A typical adult can reason, make moral choices and do many things (like voting) that animals obviously cannot do. But not all human beings are capable of reason, not all are morally responsible and not all are capable of voting. And yet we go out of our way to claim that all humans have rights. What, then, justifies our withholding at least some rights from nonhuman animals? Defenders of the status quo have found that a difficult question to answer.”

Singer also has a new book coming out in March. The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty argues that our current methods for dealing with poverty are (obviously) failing terribly, and he outlines a plan for what citizens can do to help truly make a positive difference.

By the way, if you haven’t yet read Animal Liberation or The Ethics of What We Eat, I highly recommend both. Animal Liberation was one of the major springboards for the modern animal rights movement. It outlines Singer’s arguments and views regarding animal rights and provides a detailed overview of what’s involved in animal experimentation and in the factory farming and slaughter of animals. Singer provides this information in a factual, unemotional manner that makes what’s happened to the animals all the more horrifying. The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (The original edition was called The Way We Eat), which he wrote with activist Jim Mason, outlines the impacts of our food choices on people, animals and the planet.

(Irrelevant tidbit: Although I don’t agree with some of what Singer says, enough of his views resonate with me that we named our cat after him :))

For a bit more about Peter Singer, check out:

His website

His Wikipedia bio

~ Marsha