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December 2017
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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 PST
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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 PST
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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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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 PST
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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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This episode debunks the claim that a "vegan diet is more expensive than a non-vegetarian diet" by looking at a cost comparison of the equivalent amount of animal versus plant protein, by looking at the government subsidies that make food artificially cheap, and by looking at costs that go beyond mere dollars: those of the environment, the lives of the animals, our health, and our peace of mind. I also offer some thoughts about why it's no harder for a person of 75 to change her habits than it is for a person of 20.

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Now that I'm vegan, what do I do with my leather couch, my leather shoes, and my wool sweaters? What should I do with the meat and other animal-based products in my kitchen? How do I know about animal-derived ingredients on food labels? Can I still call myself "vegan" if I eat something like honey? These are some of the questions that arise for people who find themselves newly conscious of animal suffering and who don't want to participate in it. And these are also some of the issues that deter people who may be interested in "becoming vegan" but who think it would be too difficult or who think they have to live up to some kind of "vegan perfection." Join me as I address these concerns and offer some suggestions for the practical aspects of living a compassionate lifestyle.

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Despite our desperate attempt to remove ourselves from our non-human brethren, we are animals, and we have a lot more animal instincts than we like to admit. Every woman will tell you that her drive to protect her young - what we call maternal instinct - is pure and fierce and real. We even call it an instinct - the maternal instinct. Any right-minded person would agree that this instinct exists in ALL animals. If we know this to be true, then how can we so arrogantly deny animals their desire to fulfill that very basic, fierce, real, powerful instinct? In this episode, I share a couple very moving stories about the connection between cows and their babies and how denying mothers this fundamental experience is one of the cruelest things we do.

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