Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living Vegan

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March 2009
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Today’s episode is part of our "Compassionate Series," which features favorite companies/organizations/products/experts in the context of the topic.) If you’re seeing this episode after the “holidays” have already passed, please don’t tune it out. The information is relevant ANYTIME and ALL the time, and you’ll be happy you listened to hear about these fabulous companies and their equally fabulous products for healthful, happy, humane living.

Direct download: holiday_gifts_2009.mp3
Category:Nutrition, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 3:20am PDT
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Whether it's the deep yellow color of egg yolks or the pink-orange color of salmon; whether it's the red shell of the cooked lobsters or the pink feathers of the flamingo, the color is attributable to plants. Learn why farmed salmon (90% of salmon eaten in the United States) are not really pink, why the yolk of chicken's eggs are so yellow, and why captive pink flamingos (i.e. those in zoos) are not really pink. Related to color, we also talk about the animals who suffer for the white of their skin.

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An outspoken advocate for animals, Mark Twain publicly came out against such abuses as bullfighting and vivisection, and animals were a part of his writing from the first story that earned him renown ("The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County") to the published and unpublished pieces he wrote up until his death in 1910. In addition to his short story, "A Dog's Tale," read back in July 2009, I've taken great delight in Twain's essays, letters, and other short stories also dedicated to animals and his conclusion that they are superior to humans - evidenced in today's essay: The essay I’m going to read, “Man’s Place in the Animal World” is similar in content to “Letters from a Dog to Another Dog Explaining and Accounting for Man, though it is decidedly lighter in tone, as evident by the full title: “Letters from a Dog to Another Dog Explaining and Accounting for Man by Author, Newfoundland Smith. Translated from the Original Doggerel by M.T.”

Direct download: mark_twain.mp3
Category:Literature, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 3:22am PDT
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A tribute and memorial to Simon Pieman, the bravest cat who ever lived, this episode is also the story of my transition from a "dog person" to a "cat person (and “goat person,” “chicken person,” “cow person,” “turkey person,” “pig person,” but that's another story). The most profound transformations I’ve experienced have all revolved around animals – whether it was through the animals I stopped eating or the animals with whom I’ve shared my home and life. This is a universal story about loving and letting go with a very special musical ending.

Direct download: simon.mp3
Category:Nutrition, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 3:24am PDT
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The tools we use in the kitchen are key to making it fun, making it easy, making it successful, and making it safe. I think this has everything to do with using the right tools. If you don’t like what you’re using to cook, if you don’t feel comfortable or if you find it difficult or if you find it dangerous, then you’re going to be less inclined to do it! No matter what the hobby or activity, there are appropriate tools or accoutrements and inappropriate or inadequate ones. Listen to this episode to discover my Five Favorite Kitchen Tools and how they inspire and empower.

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Being animals ourselves, it makes sense that we share many of the same diseases as our non-human cousins. We aren’t – after all – plants. We aren’t at risk for catching aphids or sooty mold or downy mildew. In fact, many of the major killer pandemics we’ve been plagued with were acquired from non-human animals. Here are just a few: we got tuberculosis from cattle, influenza from pigs and birds, whooping cough from pigs and dogs, smallpox from cattle, and of course cowpox from cows. Even HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is believed to have been first transmitted to humans through the butchering and consumption of infected chimpanzees. it is our very consumption of animals and their products that has bestowed upon us what Guns, Germs, and Steel author Jared Diamond calls the “lethal gifts of livestock.” Our abuse of nature comes full-circle and at a heavy price for both the consumer and the consumed.

Direct download: zoonosis.mp3
Category:Nutrition, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 3:28am PDT
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If you’ve ever stared at the “Nutrition Facts” label on the back of food products wondering what to make of it, then this episode is for you. Learn about how to read the label, what to look for to ensure you're avoiding such unnecessaries as trans fats, how to identify animal products in the ingredients list, and how to understand the health claims made by manufacturers. Even though this episode is U.S.-specific, we're certain you'll get a lot out of it wherever you live.

Direct download: nutrition_labels.mp3
Category:Nutrition, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 3:27am PDT
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In 1903, Mark Twain published the short story “A Dog’s Tale” in Harper’s Monthly Magazine, and the following year, it was released it as a book. Though it tends to be overshadowed by his more famous works, the story received public and critical acclaim, and as Diane Beers writes in her book, For the Prevention of Cruelty,it “is to this day a persuasive literary weapon for animal advocacy.” And I agree with her when she writes, “Twain’s deceptively simple little tale gave a powerful voice to the voiceless and laid bare human cruelty and arrogance.” A lovely sad tale worthy of remembrance.

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The campaign against "plumaged headwear" was one of the most successful in the early animal advocacy movement in the United States, ultimately creating legislative protection for birds and a cultural shift in terms of how the public viewed feathered hats. A once-coveted fashion item became the symbol of cruelty and selfishness as the result of a boycott against it. Today, feathers and down - cruelly-begotten products of an incredibly lucrative industry - show up stuffed in our comforters and puffed up in our coats. Though geese and ducks are the primary victims, ostriches, too, suffer immense pain and distress as the result of humans taking their soft down and colorful plumes.

Direct download: feathers_down.mp3
Category:Nutrition, Food, Health, Society & Culture, News & Politics -- posted at: 3:28am PDT
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In celebration of the three-year anniversary of our podcast, I feature the letters of listeners who have been transformed by "Food for Thought." The stories are as diverse as the listeners and reflect varied ages and backgrounds, but they all share common threads of hope and transformation. I hope you are as moved by the letters as I am humbled by them. If you ever once thought that "people don't change," then you're in for quite a treat.

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