Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living Vegan (health, society & culture, fitness & nutrition, news & politics)

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March 2017
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In honor of Schuster, my beloved cat of 17 years, and Michael Scribner, my dear friend, I tell the stories of the lives and deaths of these two incredible beings who left this world days apart from one another. They both filled this world with love and joy, and they live on through the telling of their stories.

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Cow's milk contains calcium because cows eat grass. Calcium is a mineral that comes from the ground, which means, like grass, all green leafy vegetables are teeming with this nutrient. Let's explore the rationale behind human adults drinking another animal's milk when we don't even drink our own species' milk into adulthood. Perhaps all the calves are laughing at us, for even they stop drinking their own mothers' milk when they become adults. In other words, I think we have a lot to learn from the cows.

Direct download: calcium.mp3
Category:Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 1:52am PDT
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Joanna Lucas is a gifted and beautiful writer who devotes much of her time and talent to the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary in Colorado (www.peacefulprairie.org). Joanna knows all the animals at the sanctuary intimately and writes about them on the Peaceful Prairie blog. In today's episode, I read Joanna's essay called Portrait of Marcie... A Beautiful Soul. Marcie, and so many animals who have no reason to ever trust a human again, has much to teach us about forgiveness.

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Learning about the atrocities committed against non-human animals is very painful and can leave us full of sorrow and hopelessness. In today’s episode, I’d like to address how to cope with the pain of the awareness of animal suffering and also how to be an effective advocate for animals. These two things go hand in hand; if we don't take care of ourselves, we will be very ineffective as advocates, and if we aren't doing something to be part of the solution, we're missing an opportunity to feel better - to feel hopeful.

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In this episode, I talk about what it's like to be a vegetarian at a non-vegetarian BBQ, tell you a little story about when I was on the Food Network, and share some specific ideas about what to serve at a BBQ: ideas for the grill (including vegetable skewers, marinated eggplant, polenta with pesto, portabello mushrooms, corn on the cob, BBQ tempeh, and fruit), recipes for salads (such as Thai slaw, spinach salad, pasta salad), and, of course, dessert. I also talk briefly about why the safest way to avoid the carcinogenic compounds that form on cooked meat is to not eat it. Heterocyclic amines, the cancer-causing compounds found on meat (including "beef," "pork," "chicken," or "fish") cooked at high temperatures (whether grilled, BBQd, or pan-fried) do not form on plant foods. Just one more reason to leave animals off our plates.

Direct download: bbq.mp3
Category:Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:16am PDT
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Today I want to talk about this amazing animal that endures a number of abuses by humans and yet isn’t really talked about a lot - even by animal advocates. Today I want to talk about and honor goats. Full of spunk and spark and life, we betray them by killing them for their flesh, by exploiting them for their milk, by exposing them to painful military experiments, and by humiliating them in a variety of other ways. This episode is dedicated to Neptune, a most remarkable being.

Direct download: goats.mp3
Category:Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:17am PDT
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Our consumption of fish has many consequences - not only for the fish we eat but also for other fish/crustaceans, for cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), for marine mammals, for birds, and for ecosystems. In addition to the 17 billion aquatic animals we kill in the U.S. for human consumption, countless animals are killed as "by-catch" or "incidental catch." These are the unintended but inevitable victims of the commercial fishing industry. Though we may see one fish on our plate or five shrimp in our seafood salad, countless numbers of animals were dredged up and killed for the individuals we consume.

Direct download: bycatch.mp3
Category:Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:17am PDT
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Perhaps the most offensive thing you can say about people - if you really want it to sting - is that they're "like animals." We use, abuse, exploit, denigrate animals and relegate them to the lowliest place in society and then blame them for being "animals." We compare them to humans and consider them lowly and forget that we're the ones writing that story. If we're the barometer against which we measure everyone else in the natural world, well surely they'll always fall short. But what if our criteria were different? What if value and worthiness were determined by how fast you could run. Or how high you could fly. Or on the ability to climb mountains without rope but only four hooves. How would humans fare then?

Direct download: like_animals.mp3
Category:Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:18am PDT
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A much-anticipated episode, today's topic is dedicated to all the teen vegetarians out there, though its subject matter is relevant for parents as well. Many teenagers don't have the support of their parents when they make the decision to become vegetarian/vegan, and we talk about why this is and how we can remedy it. Making this lifestyle change is an adjustment for everyone, and it's important to recognize this, no matter what age we are. We offer some specific suggestions for family dinners and provide some insight into why sheep get a bad rep for being herd animals, when humans display just as much need to be part of the crowd as our wooly friends. If you've been considered a "black sheep" - whatever your age - this episode is for you.

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Today's episode is dedicated to pigs - how wonderful they are, how we misrepresent them in our society, and what affect that has on our treatment of them. Pigs are exploited and used by humans in a variety of ways: as research tools, as "food animals," in high school science classes, as entertainment in a blood sport called "hog-baiting" or "hog dogging," as victims of hunting. We also talk about how our language shapes our perception of them and, thus, our treatment of them, and we examine the cycle of violence inherent in hiring men to work in slaughterhouses, desensitizing them to violence, and then essentially supporting abusive and sadistic behavior - just because we like bacon. The cycle of violence makes its final stop in the homes of these slaughterhouse workers, where alcoholism and domestic abuse is commonplace. Finally, we end on a positive note with a beautiful poem by Pulitzer-prize winning poet, Galway Kinnell - who pays homage to our porcine friends in "St Francis and the Sow."

Direct download: pigs.mp3
Category:Health, Society & Culture, Fitness & Nutrition, News & Politics -- posted at: 2:19am PDT
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