Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living Vegan

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August 2007
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You wouldn't believe how much there is to say about beans. Take a listen to see what all the fuss is about! Learn how easy it is to make beans "from scratch," get permission to eat canned beans, learn a number of fast dishes you can make with black beans, white beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and chick-peas, and find out once and for all how to deal with the discomfort that some people experience when they eat the big, bad bean. By the end of this episode, you'll realize that the bean has been your best friend all along; you just needed to understand where this luscious legume was coming from.

Direct download: beans.mp3
Category:Food, Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:04am PDT
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The practice of branding animals and humans has a long history, dating back 4,000 years to the Egyptians. The Greeks, Romans, and Anglo-Saxons carried on the tradition, it was a regular form of punishment and identification during the European/American slave trade, and it continues to this day on ranches all over the American West. Brands cruelly and successfully denote ownership and domination, and we examine their presence in animal and human slavery in today's episode, ending with a poem by African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), son of former slaves, who understood "why the caged bird sings."

Direct download: branding.mp3
Category:Food, Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:04am PDT
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In her broken, mutilated body, shooting for normalcy as though it were within her reach, seeking to be involved in absolutely everything, every meal, every exchange of affection, every single conversation, Louise sang. Responding to every single sound in her environment, tuned into the world's pitch, rhythm, timbre, tone, color, phrasing, cadence, tempo, inflection, leaving no call unnoticed, unheeded, unanswered, Louise let her voice be heard. Until one day when her voice changed from song- filled to quiet. Join me as I read a beautiful story of transformation.

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Most people don't know that our contemporary customs at Thanksgiving, namely the serving of turkeys, were shaped and popularized by a magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, in the mid-1800s. Whatever meaning we attribute to this Thanksgiving holiday is most certainly not lost (in fact, it is enhanced) by creating food-based rituals that affirm rather than take life, that demonstrate compassion and empathy rather than selfishness and gluttony, that celebrate the fact that no one need be sacrificed in order that we should eat. In today's episode, I offer a number of different menus for a beautiful holiday feast that delights the senses and reflects our values.

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A culture’s language reflects the values of that society, and our shared use of that language reflects our agreement with those values. Today I want to examine how our use of common idioms and proverbs denigrates animals and contributes to our violence against them; I'd like to take a look at the origins of some of these expressions and offer some compassionate versions that will replace the more violent, offensive ones. My hope is that we can find ways to express ourselves that reflect not exploitation and violence but respect, compassion, empathy, kindness, and truth.

Direct download: idioms.mp3
Category:Food, Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:07am PDT
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Join me today as I share some of my adventures on the road, in the sky, and in a far-off place called Florida. We learn why eating a whole foods plant-based diet works not only at home but also "abroad," we explore the abundant resources out there for planning a vegan voyage, and I offer some tips on getting Pizza Hut to treat you like royalty. I also share my thoughts about why we should treat ourselves like children when we travel, and why I'm moving to Italy as soon as possible.

Direct download: travel.mp3
Category:Food, Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 1:55am PDT
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I believe we come into this world fully compassionate, and the best gift we can give to children is to honor the empathy they have for animals by letting their natural compassion guide their behavior, guide us as parents, guide us as a society. We do everything we can to prevent them from seeing images of animal cruelty and suffering, so why would we go behind their backs and support the very thing they would find anathema - that WE find anathema? Why would we pay other people to do to animals what we - what children - would be traumatized by – quite literally. Today's episode is about raising our children in such a way that it’s consistent with our own values, their own values, and with the messages we’re already giving them: to be kind, caring, compassionate people. Today's episode is about raising vegan children, how to navigate non-vegan birthday parties, family occasions, classroom events, and other specific scenarios for living in a world that seems to value convenience over compassion.

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Several years ago, I happened upon an amazing book called Poetry’s Plea for Animals: An Anthology of Justice and Mercy for our Kindred in Fur and Feathers. It’s a collection of poems about animals and about the plight of animals who are at the mercy of humans. It published in 1927 and contains such chapters as "Burden-Bearers," "In War Service," "The Last and Least of Things," "Braves of the Hunt," "In Captivity," and "Performing Animals." As subjects of these poems, animals are exalted in ways they have yet to witness off the page. These poems serve as touchstones that link us to the early pioneers of the animal protection movement, and they are the inspiration that can keep us moving forward.

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I'm thrilled to report that another voice has just pierced the "sustainable/humane meat" illusion - and what a voice! B.R. Myers, a book critic for the Atlantic Monthly magazine, has written a fiercely honest criticism of Michael Pollan’s book in the September 2007 issue of the magazine, and I read it here. It’s called "Hard to Swallow: The gourmet’s ongoing failure to think in moral terms." Myers adeptly scrutinizes Pollan’s bogus arguments, chews them up, and spits them out. Though the doublespeak of such "excuse-itarians" as Michael Pollan has always been very clear to me, it was incredibly satisfying to have a respected writer agree that Pollan’s justifications leave as bitter a taste in his mouth as they do in mine. And to have it published in a magazine such as The Atlantic gives me great reason for hope. (See previous podcast episode called "The Rise of the Excuse-itarians.")

Direct download: pollan.mp3
Category:Food, Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:11am PDT
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Many a vegetarian has been on the receiving end of jokes, jibes, digs, insensitive quips, and cruel comments, and though it can be hard not to take it personally, the truth is all of these insensitive reactions have nothing to do with you. They reflect a resistance on the part of the non-vegetarian to take an honest and thoughtful look in the mirror held up for them. Though meat-eaters may feel as though they're being judged or made to feel guilty, it's often just a matter of the vegetarian reflecting back his or her own truth and compassion. But vegetarians don't get off the hook that easily. As much as we each have own process and transition to work through as we experience our own awakenings, we have to honor the transition of the people with whom we share our lives. Even though we may feel completely changed, we may forget to look at how our changes are affecting our partner. As much as we want him or her to be understanding and compassionate, we have to provide the same compassion and understanding.

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