Vegan Salt –the blog

{November 13, 2010}   Vegan Thanksgiving is Tonight!!

Ching Sanctuary has been holding a vegan thanksgiving dinner in Salt Lake City every year for at least as long as I’ve been vegan.  This year, I’ll be attending  for the first time!  Vegan Thanksgiving has attained mythic status in certain circles.  People talk about the food for weeks beforehand with longing sighs, and for weeks afterward with fond, dreamy remembrance.

I went to a volunteer meeting this year (I was going to bake the pies this year, but Cakewalk took over the desserts….and if I know Kelly, the whole event will only be that much better for it.)   Anyhow, I can safely say that dozens of people devote hours, days, or weeks to making this event a success, both as a fundraiser for a wonderful rescued animal shelter, and as a community celebration.

Thanksgiving is a time of year when many of us struggle to reconcile our love for friends and family who still eat turkeys with our repulsion at having a murdered turkey on the table.  No wonder Vegan Thanksgiving has been so popular, with over 300 guests last year!  Vegans love to celebrate holidays, and it’s so much more joyful when you know nobody was hurt for your feast.

You don’t have to be vegan to come and enjoy a fantastic meal, and the money all goes to a very worthy cause. Ching Farm Rescue & Sanctuary takes in rescued cows, pigs, goats, birds, sheep, and other “farm” animals.  They rehabilitate injured animals and open their doors to the community for tours, so people can visit with the animals and learn to appreciate and understand them as individuals who have, in many cases, overcome miserable and traumatic circumstances.   Get $1 off for every blanket you donate for the pigs.

I’ll see you tonight!!


{April 25, 2010}   The Chick and the Egg

I recently visited a long-time friend and her husband for dinner in their new home.  After catching up over a pleasant meal of Indian food, I met the most recent additions to their household: Rosie, Frida, and Charlotte.  This yellow ball of fluff is Rosie sitting on my hand. While not vegans, my friends are kind-hearted and progressive people, and they eat mostly plants.  They’re very conscious of food politics, environmental concerns, and health.  The purchase of three female chicks is part of their ongoing movement toward a more personally responsible and ethical relationship with food.  (They’re also growing a garden and looking into building a greenhouse.)

In an enclosed backyard, the chickens will be able to dust bathe and to scratch for bugs in the grass, once they’re a little older.  Nearly all chickens that hatch in the U.S. are denied the simple pleasures that come from having dirt and grass beneath their feet. Each of the girls is a different breed, and they were selected not for the size of the egg they will lay, but for their friendliness.  They’ll be treated more like the cat (who’s getting along with them just fine so far) than like egg machines.  This is Frida on my hand, with beautiful hawk-like markings.  Her eggs will be small and blue-green. Read the rest of this entry »

{April 18, 2010}   Our Kitties

I have never referred to myself as a “pet owner.”  I find the very idea of owning another being distasteful.  That which we own is our property, and property can be used, abused or abandoned as we see fit.   (The billions of abused creatures in animal agriculture are evidence of the end result of that line of thinking.)  That said, I do live with two cats, and I do refer to them as “my kitties,” just as one might say “my children” implying not a relationship of ownership, but rather one of care or guardianship.  Here they are in their bunk-beds.  Awww….

Three truths about vegans & animals:

  1. In general, vegans strongly support the adoption of animals.  If you can give an animal a home, please adopt one from a shelter.  Please do not buy from a pet store or breeder!  2/3 of cats and dogs in shelters are not adopted, and are euthanized.  Adoption saves lives.   If you’ve heard (as I have) allegations that vegans are opposed to pet ownership, the half truth of it is that vegans tend to dislike the term, but to support taking in and caring for creatures that need us.
  2. I know this is a controversial topic, but there is vegan food for cats and dogs.  Dogs, like humans, are omnivores, and most take very well to vegan dog food, often living healthier, longer lives.  Cats, on the other hand, don’t always thrive on a vegan diet.  Please do some research before changing your animal companion’s food, and monitor him or her closely for signs of trouble.
  3. Becoming vegan can reduce your allergies to non-human animals.  I didn’t grow up with animals.  Allergies to cats and dogs ran in my family.  Cats used to make me sneeze and give me itchy, watery eyes.  If a dog licked me, I would get a rash that lasted several hours.  After becoming vegan, I noticed my symptoms diminishing, and I can now bury my face in a furry cat belly and have no adverse reaction!

Read the rest of this entry »

{March 25, 2010}   Coming to a Theater Near You!

I make little secret of my firm belief that a vegan revolution is underway.  As of yet, it’s just gaining gradual momentum.  We make up only about 1% of the population.  Want to know what’s going to blow this vegan movement out of the underground and into the mainstream consciousness?  Two films, which are coming out this year within weeks of each other.

Sure, there have been books like Diet For a New America and Vegan With a Vengeance for a decade or so, but movies are so much more consumable!  (And did you know most movie theaters serve vegan popcorn?)  After becoming vegan, I felt obliged to read Animal Liberation in full, and I’m currently slogging through The China Study, with its extensive scientific data on the health risks of consuming even small amounts of animal products.  I sell books for a living, and I’m very aware that not everyone’s going to read a book about animal rights, or about their diet.  That’s why I was so thrilled to learn about Forks Over Knives, a documentary which will outline the incredible health benefits of a whole food, plant based diet. Many medical and scientific experts are featured in this film, most notably Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, Dr.Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

I think it’s perfect timing for this critical information to be shared with the public. People are ready to hear the truth about the link between their food and their health, and this film will refute pervasive myths about the healthiness of vegan eating.

The second film is fictional, but tells a very important story –one that would be difficult to show in any other way, though from what I can tell, it closely mirrors reality.   Bold Native is about an animal rights activist and liberator, someone who illegally rescues animals, and who is pursued by the FBI for prosecution under a new law called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, or AETA.  (Another great article on AETA and its effects here.)  I know this is a highly controversial issue, and I look forward to seeing how people react to the film.  Are animals legal property, or are they creatures in their own right, with as much of a claim on their future lives as a human has?  If the laws are immoral, should we behave lawfully or ethically?  This film will drive viewers to think critically about issues they may never have considered before.

I anticipate the convergence of these two films this summer will bring about an expansion of veganism.  Neither film has a specific release date yet, but to stay updated, you can follow them on facebook. 

Forks Over Knives is at

Bold Native is at

{March 10, 2010}   Cheese from Mom’s Milk.

Human mother nursing her baby.

Hey, did you hear about the guy who made cheese from his wife’s extra breast milk?  No, I’m not kidding.  Daniel Angerer is a restaurant owner and chef in NYC, and here is his blog post about making human cheese, complete with a recipe.  Public response to this product has ranged from sick, weird, wrong, and disgusting, to most often, simply gross. Someone on said “…the idea of drinking breast milk from a complete stranger is just nasty.”

Over on this Today Show facebook page, among hundreds of eeewww‘s, several fans objected to “breast milk cheese” on the grounds that the milk being used was meant for a baby, and that using it for adults’ food was stealing from a child!  Setting aside the fact that in Angerer’s case, there was so much excess breast milk in their freezer that it would have otherwise gone to waste, it’s a legitimate point.  Milk is for babies, not for cheese.

Humans, after all, are mammals, and lactation, the production of milk by the mammary glands, is a trait present in all mammals, for the purpose of nourishing their newborns.

Bovine mother nursing her baby.

Whether human, feline, or bovine,  mothers’ bodies produce milk for one reason –for their babies.

But due to some humans’ desires for cheese on their pizza or cream in their coffee, bovines (cattle) have been singled out among mammals for “use” as milk-producing machines.  (Actually, they were singled out when humans domesticated them in the late Stone Age, but ice cream and cheese perpetuate the practice.) Wikipedia says, “Most dairy farms separate calves from their mothers within a day of birth to reduce bonding.”  Within a day of birth.  The newborns are then fed a “commercial milk replacer,” or in other words formula, which ironically is made from a powdered cow milk base.  They are not allowed to nurse or to even be near their mothers.  Their mothers’ milk is taken instead by full-grown humans, to be turned into, let’s say, cheese. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m doing something a little differently today.  Below is an essay I wrote nearly three years ago, back when I rarely capitalized letters.  I think what I wrote back then is as relevant as ever.

i recently read online a letter that Michael Vick wrote to his judge, explaining what a kind person he actually is, asking for forgiveness and a second chance.  he promised that all the money he makes for the rest of his life will be spent doing good in the world, and that he has learned his lesson.

if you somehow missed all the hype and don’t know who Michael Vick is or what crime he was imprisoned for, he’s a pro football star who was arrested last summer for taking part in a dogfighting business.  he was not allowed to play football this last season, and companies with whom he had endorsement deals dropped him like a hot coal.  in december, he was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his part in the beating, shooting, hanging, starvation, and electrocution of pit bulls.  the corpses of dozens of dogs were found buried on his property, while even more abused dogs were found still alive in filthy cages, and are now being placed in loving homes.  for some time, Vick refused to admit that he had any direct involvement in the cruelty and death of the dogs.  his money funded the kennel business however, and he was aware that dogs were being killed when they didn’t fight well enough.

i know i’m a little late to jump on the Michael Vick hating bandwagon.  there’s a reason i haven’t said anything about it for all these months.  honestly, i’m perplexed.  not by the cruelty of Vick and his friends, but by the doublethink of the anti-Vick crowd.

people were outraged to learn about the dogfighting ring, and rightfully so.

to think that someone would knowingly fund such cruelty and animal abuse.  to give money to people who profit off of the suffering of animals purely for people’s enjoyment.  to take a young animal which has the potential for a simple but happy life, and abuse that helpless creature, disfigure it, and eventually kill it, while raking in a profit. it’s unthinkable. it’s repulsive.

it’s the meat and dairy industry.

yes, most of the outraged americans who wrote letters to editors, chanted in protest, insisted that Vick be banned from football, and even those vengeful few who said that he should suffer the same fate he inflicted on those helpless animals, those very same people pay someone every day to abuse, starve, and kill innocent animals packed into filthy cages.  animals who want nothing more than food, warmth, and a little affection; in other words, life.  if what Michael Vick did is wrong, and i’m fairly sure you’ll agree that it was, then wearing fur is also wrong.  paying for a steak is wrong.  buying eggs is wrong.  we live in a society of Michael Vicks who don’t even realize what they have become.

if you don’t believe that you are subsidizing suffering of the sort that Michael Vick subsidized, please learn a little more about what is done with your money when you buy an animal product.  ignorance of the cruelty we fund is no excuse to go on funding it.  please educate yourself and do the right thing.  pigs suffer as much as pitbulls do.

this video is a good place to start.

et cetera