Tag Archives: Food

Maple Farm Sanctuary Visit

Last weekend, the weekend of November 30th, a handful of members of the BU Veg Society and others from the Boston area community trekked to Maple Farm Sanctuary, an animal sanctuary that provides lifelong homes for animals that have faced abuse and abandonment. The sanctuary is located in Mendon, Massachusetts and lies roughly forty-five minutes west of the Boston University campus. Needless to say, the drive was well worth the wait, and upon our arrival, two volunteers who were eager to show us around the facility and introduce us to the animals greeted us. Founded in 1998, Maple Farm sanctuary lies solely on the generous donations of people who care to provide housing, food, and veterinary services to the non-human animals that need it.farm2

 Our group last weekend was a mix of vegans, vegetarians and omnivores and it is my sincere hope that every one of us gained insight on the unique nature of each and every animal. I hope that everyone was able to see, as we moved through the stalls and met animals such as John the pig, that non-human animals, much like humans, are individuals, each with feelings and personalities.

farm5Personally, I reflected on the way in which individual history shapes the personalities on non-human animals in the same way that our own pasts shape who we are today. In particular, I was reminded that non-human animals too can be subject to mental illness just as we are. I was particularly struck by the story a cow, Cassie, who suffers from extreme agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We were informed that she had been kept in the dark for the mass majority of her life and for this reason was incredibly photosensitive. It was only through careful reintroduction to light and cautious sensitivity to Cassie’s history of being abused and maltreated that the selfless volunteers at the sanctuary were able to finally install a window in her stall. Today, Cassie is able to venture from her room for a few minutes at a time and receives music therapy to help calm and sooth her.

While my experience at Maple Farm Sanctuary was certainly exciting and fun, (I had a truly amazing time getting to know everyone and better connecting with those who I have met before) it was also enlightening. My experience at Maple Farm Sanctuary better illuminated the real world consequences of our food choices, while at the same time showing me how a fulfilled life can be lived by the animals that are rescued. Sometimes it is not enough to simply watch a video on factory farming or read a book on speciesism (though these are also crucial to understanding the extent of cruelty against farmed animals); it is also important to visit facilities such as farm sanctuaries because they bring to light the severity of violence in our food system, and the legitimacy of our fight as people who care about the well being of non-human animals.

When you come face-to-face with a creature that has experienced cruelty as a direct result of your personal choices (and the choices of a nation), it can be hard not to feel guilty. But this guilt can be transformative and constructive, aiding you in effecting meaningful change in the lives of animals.

I drifted away from the group towards the end of the tour, as we were wrapping up, to visit the charming and curious llamas in their pen and they rushed overfarm4 to greet me as I approached. They looked at me inquisitively and I stared back at them and something overtook me. The moment was powerful. I could not and cannot possibly conceive of subjecting that beautiful creature, or any creature, to slaughter, simply to satisfy my desires. Though we did not speak with word, those two llamas really brought home the message of why I choose to be vegan and I remain steadfast in my resolve to not treat animals as commodities.

Finally, we must not forget the purpose of farm sanctuaries; they exist solely because factory farming does too. If our food system didn’t work in the way that it does, these centers of refuge would not be necessary. And so, this unfortunate fact reminds me of what I can do to ensure that all animals can live out their days as the animals at Maple Farm Sanctuary do, beginning with my food choices.

If you are further interested in getting involved with the Maple Farm sanctuary, you can submit a donation here or you can become a volunteer here. The sanctuary is always looking for hard-working and compassionate volunteers to help them around the facility with a variety of projects. The Boston University Veg Society hopes to return to the sanctuary in the Spring semester to volunteer our services. You can also visit and like their Facebook and check out their Café Press online store! A portion of the proceeds goes towards supporting the Maple Farm Sanctuary.

Lindsay Crockett is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences studying Biology and WGS studies. She can be reached via email at lmcroc@bu.edu. 

DSC_0847

Looking good y’all

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

Feeding a Black Nation Presentation by Breeze Harper

Part I

When I discovered that there would be a presentation on intersectionality, I was very, very excited. As a bit of background, I am a woman of colour and a vegan. In all honesty, I have experienced that most events that are geared towards discussing veganism do not interest me, as many of them blatantly disregard the importance of intersectionality and are geared towards a mostly white, neoliberal, upper-middle class audience.

Therefore, Harper’s presentation seemed like a very promising opportunity for a fresh, new perspective on veganism that keeps in mind other equally important oppressive systems such as sexism, classism, and racism.

Harper’s presentation discussed her thesis, which was still a work in progress. I personally thought that her introduction to the presentation could have been better rehearsed, but its content was great nonetheless. Harper’s thesis critiques the work of Queen Afua, writer of the book Sacred Woman, which sees veganism as a way to decolonise one’s self and to “heal the black womb.” Queen Afua speaks of a matriarchal society in Southern Egypt, long before colonization and slavery, where women were seen as sacred, and where the most sacred bond was that of a mother and her child.

This society also had a plant-based diet. In contrast, is the European society of the same era: a violent, patriarchal society. Therefore the question is raised: Why do we look towards European, or otherwise, white, Western cultures, in order to heal the black womb? Why do we look towards the violent, patriarchal culture of the colonisers? Harper explained how during slavery, the black womb was seen as a unit of production, much like a factory that is good for nothing more than breeding slaves. The body of the black woman, therefore, is in need of healing from generations of abuse. For this reason, Queen Afua advocates a return to the vegan diet of matriarchal Southern Egypt.

That said, my main issue with Queen Afua, which was a topic touched on (but not thoroughly enough in my opinion) by Harper is how heteronormative and cis-sexist it is, as well as how it assumes that the black woman is naturally partnered with the black man and returns to the concept of a nuclear family which consists of a black woman, a black man, and their children who are seen as the future of a black nation. As Harper is queer and also in an interracial marriage, I expected her to discuss how problematic this view is, and was disappointed that it wasn’t discussed with more depth.

However, I was very happy that Harper discussed in depth the problem with veganism and classism, which also is not discussed enough by Queen Afua. Being vegan, and being able to live on a healthy vegan diet, is a privilege, as most people do not have access to things such as fresh produce, etc. I was especially happy that Harper advocated food justice movements such as the Food Empowerment Project.

Part II

Another very, very important point that I really was thankful that Harper discussed was the concept of “cruelty-free” food. Many foods and products seen as “cruelty-free” are derived at the expense of workers in less developed countries who work in slave-like conditions, and therefore to truly produce “cruelty-free” products, one must also look at the source. This is a topic that in my opinion is usually ignored by most vegan speakers, and for this reason I was very happy that she discussed it.

All in all, I really enjoyed Breeze Harper’s presentation and think that it was a very educational and eye-opening experience for all those who attended.

Breeze Harper’s recap of the trip and reading list of materials mentioned in the presentation is located here on her Sistah Vegan blog.

– Naomi Sianturi

Tagged , , , , ,

White Privilege & Veganism: The Luxury of Being Single-Issue

Looking back on the day I became a vegan, I realize I was already unconsciously undergoing a process of political radicalization. I had been introduced to activism through learning about the War on Drugs and mass incarceration in the U.S. As I started to dig deeper into these problems, I had a disorienting wake-up call in which I realized that the War on Drugs wasn’t its own separate problem, and that, in fact, there are no “separate” problems. All the problems we face are parts of a whole interconnected system of oppression. We in the USA live within a mainstream value system in which structural ableism, racism, sexism, cis gender privilege, heterosexism, and classism are the norm—and all these forms of discrimination intersect. Upon this discovery, I felt like I was becoming “enlightened.” I started to see oppression everywhere—in the media, in my textbooks, in my own language and that of my friends—and it made me sick.

We are sitting on land that was violently stolen from indigenous people and built largely by enslaved Africans—and this is the foundation of our system. I rejected this system and vowed to do everything I could to help heal the damage that has been done. I made a pretty big step when I joined the Occupiers and started learning for the first time about the true nature of “privilege.” Having white privilege means I get to ignore my race most of the time—as a white person I don’t see the world through a filter of racial awareness like people of color do. Having class privilege means I do not fear being hungry or homeless. I can live where I choose. I can afford to attend a private university. And I have consistent access to foods that nourish me.

I became a vegan when I finally faced the truth of animal oppression and factory farms. I faced chickens shoved into cages, unable to flap their wings or see the light of day. I faced cows being violently penetrated with metal rods without their consent in order to be impregnated—only to have their babies stolen, and either killed on the spot or shoved in a cage to become veal. The thing is, I knew about factory farming before I went vegan, yet even with this knowledge, I still ate animals. When I didn’t pluck up the courage to face the gruesome details, it was so easy to push the cruelty out of my mind as I bought the turkey sandwich and bit into the turkey flesh.

It was so easy to eat meat because everyone else was doing it. Then I realized it was yet another form of negative socialization: we are all taught to be complicit in this horrifying massacre—the slaughter of 10 billion nonhuman animals a year. I started resenting my former meat-eating self and indeed all meat-eaters. I wanted to shake them and make them feel the guilt that I did. I wanted everyone to reject the system like I had. I wanted everyone to become a vegan on the spot (the night I became a vegan, I went home and said that my whole apartment should become vegan, which was met with some discomfort to say the least). And I thought that everyone could and should become a vegan.

In my first 5 months of being a vegan, I somehow forgot or ignored everything I had been learning about privilege. I was developing a vegan philosophy without critically reflecting on my whiteness. As a white person, I don’t have to consider what food is culturally appropriate. I don’t have any special ties to food, like my vegetarian Cuban housemate who feels disconnected from her culture because she chooses not to eat food such as Cuban bread (it contains lard). As a white person with class privilege, I don’t have to worry that veggies are more expensive than meat and cheese. I live 5 minutes away from 3 vegan restaurants at which I can easily afford to eat. The fact that many poor communities and communities of color don’t have access to food that is not only culturally appropriate but also allows them to be as healthy as possible never once crossed my mind.

I didn’t stop to think about how racial formation and racism negatively affected our food system. In poor communities and communities of color, the food that is accessible is not only unhealthy, but also follows a chain of cruelty, from the factory farms to the dinner plate—and it’s very rare that any other option is available. I never thought about any of these things until I started frequenting a blog called “Vegans of Color (because we don’t have the privilege of being single-issue).” Shortly after, I was introduced to an anthology called Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Health, Identity, and Society. After reading the first essay, I realized I had been blindly promoting veganism through a white/Eurocentric view of the world. I didn’t realize that for many vegans of color, there is an additional struggle of reaching out to people in their communities who dismiss veganism a “white thing.”

Animal rights activists of color are often criticized for trying to liberate animals while their own black and brown brothers and sisters are still being oppressed. Sistah Vegan taught me about true food justice and nutritional racism. For instance, if you’re a BU student, look at the posters outside CVS next time you walk past it. One of them shows a young man of African descent drinking cow’s milk. This is painfully “unmindful” as Sistah Vegan editor Breeze Harper has said about a similar ad, considering that 90% of African-Americans are lactose-intolerant. Both ads are clear examples of nutritional racism, meaning that we base our understanding of nutrition and health on the notion that most people have a Euro/Anglo-Saxon relationship to food.

I too was basing my approach to veganism on the notion that everyone could and should eat only a plant-based diet when this is, in fact, not the case for everyone. It is mostly only the case for white, class-privileged folks such as myself. Throughout my journey I’ve learned that it is so important to read books, blogs, and articles written by veg*ns of color, especially women and queers, and prioritize these voices over white voices. Through this, I’ve developed a more critical eye for both manifestations of white supremacy, as well as my own privilege, but I still have a lot of work to do. We all do. At a recent animal rights advocacy presentation, I asked the speaker, a cis-gender white male, how to approach veganism with people of different cultures, ethnicities, and classes. He said that he hadn’t given it enough thought (most white folks don’t, myself included), but that animal cruelty is a cross-cultural issue.

While I agree, it doesn’t address the problem of how food justice is underrepresented in poor communities and communities of color. Indeed this issue is very rarely addressed in the mainstream vegan movement, which is, in the words of Breeze Harper, “dominated by ‘white class privileged 1st world’ epistemologies, logic, rhetoric, and ontologies.” We have to start bringing these issues to the forefront.

That’s why I’m going to Breeze’s talk on the intersectionality of oppressions and how it relates to food justice. Tomorrow, Thursday, at 6:30 in SAR 101. If we want our animal rights activist efforts to be properly directed, we need to understand how structural racism operates in our society. We need to learn how to incorporate mindfulness and anti-racism in our everyday lives. We need to understand different ways of knowing and being in the world.

K.C. Mackey is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences studying philosophy and religion. She can be reached via email at kcm2188@gmail.com.

Tagged , , , ,

Food MythBusters

Last week, members of the Veg Society attended an event sponsored by BU Student Government entitled “Food Mythbusters.” The event was a screening of a new short by the same name followed by a brief discussion with representatives of different food and sustainability organizations. Attending the event were students from several student groups, all having a shared interest in food, the environment, and social justice.

The film focused on dispelling some of the myths around our food system. It asserted that we do not need corporate, industrialized agriculture to feed the growing world population. It highlighted that small, organic, local agriculture is just as productive as our current system, and much more sustainable in the long-term.

The individuals in the audience at the event probably did not need to be convinced by the film that corporate controlled agriculture is not the right path. However, the film is a powerful tool to be used when talking about sustainable agriculture with people who aren’t yet on board with these progressive ideas.

While the film touched on important points, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking what the film could have addressed and didn’t. The myths discussed in the film do not top the list of the myths that I often hear when discussing the food system. At the top of my list is the notion that we can eat as much meat, dairy, and eggs as we want and, as long as we use CLF light bulb, ride a bike, and recycle, we don’t have to worry about the impact we are having on the planet.

This film could have been a tool to inform people that animal agriculture is one of the top sources of water and air pollution, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions. It could have highlighted how eating more vegan meals is one of the most powerful ways an individual can help stop the destruction of our planet. These are two topics most discussions of sustainable food like to conveniently avoid, and it’d be nice to have a short, effective film that addresses them.

“Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.” – The Guardian 6/2/10

I understand that it may be unreasonable for me to expect the film to address the issues that matter most to me, and that it was intended to combat the notion that we need industrial agriculture. However, based on the research I’ve done, we wouldn’t need corporate agriculture if the demand for meat wasn’t so high. The rise in the demand for meat in the last 50 years is correlated with the rise in industrial agriculture. Among local and organic food advocates, it’s popular to criticize the huge monocultures of soy and corn that require massive amounts of artificial fertilizer and pesticides.

However, given that the vast majority of all corn and soy is fed to livestock, it stands to reason that if we didn’t need to feed it to livestock (i.e. if we didn’t eat meat), we wouldn’t need these destructive farming practices. Rather than just arguing against the idea of corporate agriculture, the film could have demonstrated that an individual can fight corporate agriculture with her every day food choices by choosing not to eat meat.

While aspects of the film disappointed me, it was really great to see different student groups come together around such an important issue. I hope to see this kind of collaborative environment at future events.

Graham Boswell is a junior in the College of Fine Arts studying cello performance. He can be reached via email at exewye@gmail.com.

Tagged , ,

Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

The 2012 Boston Vegetarian Food Festival was truly incredible for a multitude of reasons, and high on that list is the fact that I got to stand next to the sensational Rachel Atcheson all day! (She was working at the Humane League booth and I was helping Andrea Hornbein of AKA Marvelicious cookies sell her vegan, organic cookies). The Festival, which took place at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College, was filled to the brim with positive energy and buzz about health, gustatory delight, and animal advocacy.

 

The vibe of a space where a wide spectrum of people are all drawn toward one thing is always inspiring; whether at a concert where thousands of people sway to the same rhythm or at a temple service where everyone clasps their hands and feels moved by a common presence, it is always a phenomenal experience to be joined by people who care about the same things as you.

At the food festival, hundreds of people enjoyed delicious food samples of spicy Indian food, raw vegan granola bars, savory bakery treats, and the revolutionary Daiya cheese substitute. Rad shirts were available for purchase and people also had a chance to learn more about organizations like The Humane Society of the United States, Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition, and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society.

Among my favorite vendors was the vegan Field Roast grain meat company who offered the most amazing faux meat completely out of veggies and grains, which I thought was fantastic for people like myself who try to avoid soy. The Vegan Proteins vendor offered great tasting protein shakes for vegans and vegetarians who seek to get more protein.

Oh! I also learned about this charming vegan bed and breakfast called the Caroline Cottage in Cape Cod (in the town of Centerville). So, if any of you want to get away for the next long weekend with a special someone and enjoy great scenery and hot vegan meals, check them out!

Sponsored by the non-profit Boston Vegetarian Society, the festival is an absolute must for people who want to expose themselves to the various vegetarian and vegan options available to us this day and age. Other highlights: I heard numerous languages, had my very FIRST vegan donut, and met some unbelievably friendly and down to earth individuals with whom I will be remaining in contact.

For those of you who made it out, I hope you had a blast, and for those of you who were unable to come, next year, a very pleasant experience is in store for you!

– Gunita Singh

Tagged

Fall Comfort Food: Vegan Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese!

I have been waiting nearly a year to make vegan mac n’ cheese because every recipe I came across just seemed SO time consuming and SO expensive and just SO much more complicated than the powder+water+butter= Mac n’ Cheese I had been used to making for the first 17 years of my life. The glorious day FINALLY came a week ago when I went to a Fall Glam Housewarming/Potluck/Party and I was looking to impress an inspiring group of lady power vegans and let me tell you it was well worth the extra bucks and the extra efforts!

I found a recipe online by googling “best vegan mac n’ cheese” (easiest way to find awesome vegan recipes: google it) and low and behold I got a pretty darn good lookin’ recipe that included hidden things like potatoes! onions! cashews! carrots! and shallots…

which I actually just assumed were scallions

but clearly are not

but still tasted DELICIOUS in the mac n’ cheese!

 

What is so great about this recipe is that the cheesey sauce is actually made out of all those wonderful vegetables! So even though you feel like you’re eating a meal full of carbs and gooey nutritionally void deliciousness, you’re actually eating carbs and nutritionally packed deliciousness! HELL YEAH VEGANISM!

So without further ado, I bring to youu, the recipe! (The original can be found here but I altered it so there’s more sauce, more whole grains, scallion, and butternut squash!! YAY for experimental/ accidental/ spontaneous cooking!)

Ingredients!

  • 14-16 ounces whole wheat macaroni
  • 4 slices of whole grain bread, torn into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
  • 2 small/medium red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

What You Do:

  1. Cook macaroni in a large pot until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, (or your roommates old blender!) make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add scallions, potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
  4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth. Mmmm cheesy sauce!
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared bread crumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
  6. Nom with friends!


^_____^ Happy Eating! ❤ Abby

Tagged

The Truth About Lobster Night

BU Dining’s annual lobster night is again upon us.  As the sole animal advocacy student organization on campus, we’d like to offer you another perspective on the event, and hopefully inspire you to think about it more critically.

The truth is that lobsters feel pain.  Researchers specializing in animal behavior have demonstrated this several times.  In fact, physical pain and emotional stress are important survival mechanism for all animals.  Sure, the suffering a lobster experiences may be different than what a human experiences, but that doesn’t make it insignificant.  To unnecessarily cause another individual pain when there are easy alternatives is inherently unethical.

The Humane Slaughter act, the only federal law regulating how animals raised for food are slaughtered, provides minimal humane consideration for the slaughter of cows, pigs, goats, and sheep, but excludes poultry and seafood.  As is the common method of preparing lobsters, BU Dining will be boiling these animals alive on Thursday night.  To the members of our organization, this represents a complete disregard for the animals’ basic interest to be free from pain.  And we’re not just talking about a few lobsters, either- we’ve ordered 7,400 lobsters for the event.

Please, consider the impact that your food choices have on the other sentient creatures of the planet.

The Vegetarian Society is holding a dinner for anyone who does not want to participate in lobster night this Thursday.  Our Facebook event page is here. We hope to see you there!

Tagged , ,

Staying Veg

We can all agree that in recent years, Boston has become quite spoiled with veg food establishments. With blessings like Veggie Galaxy, Peace O Pie, Grasshopper, My Thai, Veggie Planet, Life Alive, True Bistro, and most recently, FoMu (more on that later), eating out veg in the city is more of a present than a problem. Wherever you are over the summer, might be quite the opposite. Here are some tips for staying veg when you’re not in Boston! 

Prepare! Though this may seem like a simple thing, it really makes a difference in how you eat. Try these tips on for size: Make yourself meals before going out or going to work. Check the Internet for local veg establishments in the area. Try to plan out where you’re going to eat in advance and look at that establishment’s website – or call them! Go grocery shopping for yourself or your family and try to eat out as little as possible as well to avoid missing meals.
Ask! Don’t be afraid to pester a server or employee about what’s in their food. After all, they should know! Instead of saying you’re vegan or vegetarian, tell them you have allergies – people are (sadly) much more apt to take you seriously when you tell them. Ask to see ingredients specifically as opposed to just asking if something is vegan or vegetarian. If your server can’t help you, ask for someone in charge. Use the Internet to look up if an ingredient or an item is veg-friendly.
Read! Skimming the plethoras of veg blogs, books, and news that are out there help to keep you stoked on the veg! Check out awesome things going on here: View animals rescued from factory farms at FARM SANCTUARY. Read sites like VegNewsVegansaurusVegan.comReddit Animal RightsReddit VeganVegWeb, & more. Check out books like Eating AnimalsMeat Market, Animal Liberation, and more!

Tagged ,