Adolescence to Activism: Shaping the Future of World-Changing Youth

FARM’s Vegan Support Analyst, Monica, has spent her last two summers as a counselor at Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, advising and motivating tomorrow’s activists. Today on the blog, Monica shares with us why this is an important endeavor and how we can all support young changemakers. 

Many of us share a vision of a world where animals are free to live a life free of exploitation and violence. This vision has led many of us to our activism. Perhaps you leaflet at busy shopping malls on your weekends, volunteer at pay-per-view events when the 10 Billion Lives Tour comes through your town, or organize all vegan community meals for Compassionate Holidays. Whatever your approach, our shared bottom line is a collective understanding that if we want things to change, we need to engage in effective campaigns and tactics to transform our world into one that offers justice for all. When I consider all that is at stake, the billions of animals each year who lead miserable lives before a painful slaughter, the devastation of the environment, and the more than 800 million people that will go hungry each night due to poor resource use, it’s easy to get caught up wondering what is the most effective way to combat all the consequences of animal agribusiness.

There’s only so much we can do as one person, but by inspiring others to do the same, we can maximize our efforts significantly. One of the best ways to expand our reach as activists is by empowering the next generation of change makers, our youth. Not only do youth have a great capacity to incite change in our world, but they will also be the ones responsible for it once we are gone. While we may be planting seeds of compassion for all the people we reach, youth have a lifetime of activism ahead of them. It is our responsibility to support them in their journey.  We can reassure them in this process by encouraging them to develop their own ideas and to recognize the power of their voices. While one teen might be ready to speak out on the environmental impact of animal agribusiness to their peers or start an animal rights school club, another may produce a video or piece of visual art to raise awareness about the treatment of animals on farms, while another might make bracelets to fundraise for their favorite farmed animal sanctuary. Celebrating each action our youth take fosters a sense of purpose and membership to a meaningful movement.

I often think of the ways in which we empower our youth to take action is rather similar to how we inspire people to go vegan. We provide them with the knowledge or reasons they may consider such a choice and arm them with the skills or the steps to transition; we build their confidence or assurance in their ability to achieve and we introduce them to a community of like-minded people that are invested in their success. Each summer I have the privilege to work with world-changing teens at a life-changing camp called Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp and it is these four areas that our curriculum is built on: knowledge, skills, confidence, and community. Many people need to develop greater self-confidence to speak up about issues of importance to them, as well as a sense of community to feel supported. But with these as a foundation, change-makers need knowledge and skills to make a difference too. For many of the campers, it is their first time feeling a sense of belonging within a community, building ties of camaraderie with their like-minded peers, and learning from the guidance and mentorship of the staff. With our participatory curriculum and a safe and encouraging space,  each camper – and even staff member – leave with a renewed sense of confidence.

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Within my activism, I often ask myself what is the most effective use of my time and energy. Without a doubt, empowering the next generation of activists has always proven to be a fruitful investment of my time. An investment that I am able to witness in the days and months (and eventually years) after camp as I witness and hear stories from our alumni leafleting with “Have We Been Lied To?” brochures, working to get Meatless Mondays and more vegan options in their school cafeterias, organizing and attending protests against SeaWorld and Ringling Brothers Circus, and holding screenings of “Cowspiracy”, just to name a few. I have the joy to witness how YEA Camp provides the foundation of their activist careers, a lifetime of rejecting apathy and living a life with eyes wide open to the pains of the world, fighting passionately to heal them.

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While traveling with the 10 Billion Lives tour in the spring of 2013, my tour operator and I attended an activist empowerment conference in Southern California. During the opening plenary, the woman responsible for organizing the rejuvenating conference instructed those in attendance to “thank the people who inspired them to become agents of change.” If we all contemplate on this request, I’m sure we’ll shed light onto a lineage of world-shakers that inspired you, whether that be your mother who always encouraged you to be yourself or a basketball coach that always challenged you to strive harder. For me, it was my educators; teachers, advisers, and of course the remarkable counselors at youth empowerment camps I attended myself as a teen that armed me with the skills and assurance to dedicate myself to a life of working for a kinder, more compassionate world. My work as an educator is merely a process of paying it forward by facilitating similar life changing experiences for others.

How are you inspiring the youth in your life? Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re likely a role model to many future leaders and activists. How will you help shape their future actions?

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Talkin’ Vegan with ‘Newsfail’ Authors, Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny

There are a lot of frustrating things going on in the news and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it. Thankfully there are people like comedian, Jamie Kilstein and writer, Allison Kilkenny, the duo behind the independent media podcast, Citizen Radio. Through their listener-supported, sponsor-free news show, the pair cover unreported news and corporate media news blunders with wit and humor. Jamie and Allison’s new book, #Newsfail, released this week, which is basically a hardcover highlight reel of those news stories that either do not (but should) exist, or completely miss the point on mainstream media. Jamie and Allison took time to chat with FARM about their work and their vegan pride.
Disclaimer: While FARM shares many of their views, particularly regarding veganism and animal rights, the responses by Jamie and Alison to our questions are their own uncensored opinions. Some of the language and political viewpoints might be abrasive to certain readersPlease read on with an open mind and eagerness to laugh!

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FARM: Focusing on your book’s vegan chapter [titled “Al Gore Is Fat and We’re All Going to Die: Or, You Can’t Blame Climate Change on Vegans”], I was very impressed with it because, in about 25 pages, you covered a lot of the really important reasons to consider going vegan. A lot of times people just focus on the animal cruelty, which is obviously a huge part of it, but I’m really glad that you both touched on worker’s rights, the environment, and even some of the feminism angle.

Allison: Yeah, we’re assuming that people reading the book would already describe themselves as progressive, so it’s a little bit of a challenge. If you call yourself liberal, if you think you’re left wing, have you embraced veganism? We have a lot of friends who would call themselves progressives, but tweet photos of their bacon at brunch.

Jamie: We pretty much had to lay out as many reasons as possible [to go vegan in the book]. You could go to a climate march hosted by Democracy Now and the spirit of Emma Goldman and you show up with veggie burgers, it’s gonna piss people off. It doesn’t matter how liberal of a room you are in, [veganism is] the thing we found, besides feminism, that divides us the most. So [in the book], we were gentle and we tried to be funny [while still presenting the facts].

FARM: Jamie, you mention in the chapter that you went vegetarian for the animals and then vegan for Allison. With all these reasons to go vegan, what was it exactly that really helped you stick with your convictions, beyond your relationship with a vegan?

Jamie: Yeah, trying to impress a girl is up there! It’s weird that I was definitely that  clichéd vegetarian, where I would proudly declare I was vegetarian, but then someone would ask if I was vegan, and I’d be like, “No, those vegans are out of their f***ing minds!” because I didn’t know anything about it! From an animal cruelty point of view, I didn’t know what the animals went through [in the dairy and egg industries]. I thought that if they weren’t being killed for meat, they were at some weird Malibu retreat, getting milked by the gentle hands of a seamstress. I didn’t know! And then selfishly, I thought all I would be eating was salad, and I hated salad. When Allison told me she was vegan, I was actually defensive. But I told her, “When I’m ready to try to eat vegan, I want you to show me the information.” And all it took was one image of a cow with an udder so big [she] couldn’t stand and I was [soon] vegan.

Jamie says once he ate healthier (no more sneaking cheese pizzas at midnight, an experience hilariously recounted in the book), he felt better and hasn’t turned back. Allison initially went vegan for health reasons, after her physician encouraged she remove all dairy from her diet due to allergies. Following the doctor’s suggestion, she did research online, discovered veganism, and dove in. Within a week, she noticed amazing changes from fewer sinus headaches to greater energy.

FARM: After going vegan, how long was it before you found yourselves getting into activism and being a voice for animals?

Allison: I’m really careful about using that word “activist,” because I really respect activists, it’s a hard job and takes a lot of commitment, so I don’t consider myself an activist in that respect.

Instead, the two consider themselves vegan “ambassadors.”

Jamie: We proudly, proudly, proudly call ourselves vegan. We talk about [veganism] a lot on our show and in our book.

Jamie points out that, under the umbrella of activism, it’s important to focus on what you’re good at. “What Allison and I are good at is making very serious, sad issues digestible or funny or approachable,” he said.

Taking that approach has really opened up the hearts and minds of their Citizen Radio listeners.

Jamie: We have gotten, literally, thousands of emails from, not just vegetarians who went vegan, but from people who hated vegans or people who grew up on farms and didn’t know what vegan was, and [after learning about animal agribusiness on the show] have gone on to do the kind of activism you guys [at FARM] do. We’re proud to inspire the next generation of activists.

FARM: Do you find that you already have a decent vegan audience [of Citizen Radio]?

Jamie: What I’m really proud of is that, the listeners who aren’t vegan, aren’t raging assholes about it. We have tons and tons and tons of readers whose vegan anniversary coincides with their anniversary of listening to the show. We get tweets about it every year and it’s awesome. Responses to vegan topics on the show are always positive, with even non-vegans sending emails saying that they have cut back on their meat consumption or are slowly working toward [a vegan diet]. Even when we go really into [veganism / animal rights], we don’t get hate mail. We either have vegans or just really compassionate people listening.

Allison: My favorite emails are the ones that come from kids that are scared to come out to their parents as vegans, and it turns out the parents are super wonderful and supportive, they get a vegan cookbook and make dinner together. And we’ve gotten a lot of those!

FARM: Focusing back on your book now, “Newsfail,” and how it’s all about “fails in the news,” let’s talk about news fails related to animal rights. It seems like nearly every day, there’s a “fail” in the news surrounding animal issues, whether it’s pro-SeaWorld/circuses/zoos, the myths surrounding “humane meat,” climate change, etc. What do you think is the most notable “news fail” regarding animal rights just in the last year?

Allison: I think climate change is the biggest one, just because it effects everyone on Earth, but I think the Ag-Gag laws are a really, really big story. There are all these First Amendment activists who get outraged, and rightfully so, when police break up protests, you need permits for protests at every level, but [Ag-Gag laws] are a huge First Amendment [threat]. This should outrage not just animal rights activist, but also First Amendment proponents.

Jamie agrees that climate change isn’t getting enough (or the right) attention in the news, pointing out the United Nation’s declaration that factory farming is the leading cause of climate change. He says that many panels will take the time to talk about carpooling and using less electricity, but if someone suggests going vegetarian, it’s treated like a joke.

Jamie: The fact that we won’t even humor in the news the one thing that will [make a difference] is the biggest #newsfail. If someone does interview someone who is vegan, they treat them like some underground mole person that emerged to just spout 9/11 conspiracies and take away your cheeseburgers.

FARM: Let’s say someone who is not vegan and has been pretty unaware of these things, they read your book and the vegan chapter and they’re all fired up, ready to go vegan, but then they don’t know what to do next. What do you recommend they do first?

Jamie: The first thing you’ve gotta do is act selfishly. And what I mean by that is, you need to go online, go to the bookstore, look at the restaurants you like, and find as much vegan food as you can that you like. I think a lot of people go after veganism as a “diet,” and diets don’t work. People cave, they go off the wagon. Don’t think of it as “you have to eat less.” I think this is better than a cookbook: just Google vegan versions of foods you already like.

Allison agrees that, if you have access to the internet, researching and trying new recipes is vital, as well as learning how to cook. She suggests getting down a basic pasta or stir-fry recipe that can be tweaked to use whatever ingredients you like and whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Jamie says they always do a vegan episode on Citizen Radio around Thanksgiving as a way to support “the baby [new] vegans who are going home to their families and have to watch their father fist a turkey.” This show always results in hundreds of “the sweetest emails,” thanking Jamie and Allison for their tips and support. The main tip is always: bring something vegan to share and make it awesome.

Jamie acknowledges that it can be a “radical shift” to go vegan after being raised with animal-based foods for so long, but focusing on all the many foods you can eat, and never seeing it as a sacrifice, can make a huge difference in sticking to veganism. Research, read, arm yourself with recipes & restaurants you like, etc. “so you don’t wind up in the middle of the supermarket having a panic attack like I did,” Jamie jokes.

Jamie also suggests that new vegans should do their research so they know and remember why they’re going vegan. “You see what’s happening to the animals and the workers and the environment, and then you can just own [your veganism] and be proud of it,” Jamie says. “It’s so hard to make a tangible difference in the world because the media is all owned by asshole corporations, the Democrats are becoming Republicans, the Republicans are insane, that sometimes you feel really helpless and worthless as an activist, but [going vegan] is actually a tangible difference you can make. You can look at the little faces of the animals that you’re helping. That pushes me through!”

What are some of Jamie and Allison’s favorite vegan things? They dished in a Live Vegan Lightning Round!

FARM: Favorite vegan restaurant.
Jamie & Allison: Vegetarian Dumpling House and all the Blossom locations in NYC

FARM:  Favorite vegan celebrity.
J&A: Rise Against! and Peter Dinklage

FARM: Go-to vegan meal to make at home
J&A: Jamie’s Pizza Pasta

FARM: Favorite vegan junk food
J&A: Mozzarella sticks from Champ’s in Brooklyn; all nachos & cake

FARM: Favorite green vegetable
J&A: Spinach

FARM: Tofu, tempeh, or seitan?
J&A: Tempeh for Allison & tofu for Jamie

FARM: Favorite vegan cookbook or blog
J&A: Choosing Raw

FARM: Favorite animal rights book
J&A: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer  and #Newsfail

FARM: Favorite vegan/AR message t-shirt
J&A: Eat Kale Not Cow

Want to win a copy of Jamie and Allison’s new book, Newsfail? Comment below with why YOU Live Vegan and one lucky winner will be announced on Friday, October 17th at 12pm Eastern! Be sure to comment with contact info. 

 

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Vegan MoFo Sweeps the Internet in September!

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If there was a map of the Internet, some of its largest continents would be pictures of cats, grammatical errors, and vegan food. Although veganism is popular and enthusiastically represented in the online world, during the month of September, the corner of the Internet dedicated to plant-based food will become much larger. That’s because this year’s Vegan Month of Food (“Vegan MoFo,” for short) is happening every single day in September!

Vegan MoFo is a month-long celebration of all things vegan and edible. Bloggers, seasoned and newbie, take to the web and share delicious, cruelty-free food on the daily. With a blogroll at least a foot long, there’s no shortage of mouthwatering reading material and kitchen inspiration this month. Here are just a few Vegan MoFo blogs we’re most excited about:

Cadry’s Kitchen With an adorable Mister Roger’s Neighborhood-theme (and an adorable matching Facebook layout to boot!), Cadry’s Kitchen is focusing on vegan foods that “feel like home.”  With all the great comfort foods she’ll be whipping up, we sure wish we were her neighbor!

Fork and Beans Cara, the kitchen wizard behind the fantastic blog, Fork and Beans, is always up to something fun. For Vegan MoFo this year, she’ll be creating Halloween-themed vegan treats, like these Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats! Recipes from Fork and Beans have often been a part of our weekly Meatout Mondays newsletter.
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Olives for Dinner Many of us have stacks and stacks of vegan cookbooks, right? With an overwhelming number of recipes across the Internet, it can be easy to forget about our paper-filled nuggets of inspiration sitting on the shelf. This month, popular vegan blog, Olives for Dinner will be cooking from her top 10 favorite cookbooks. With her stunning food photography, we can’t wait to see what she whips up!
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Eco-Vegan Gal Eco-Vegan Gal is doing her Vegan MoFo in front of the video camera! Tune into her blog for great videos on vegan cooking.

Kale and Cupcakes Got a sweet tooth? The Kale and Cupcakes blog will be focusing on healthy vegan desserts all month long!

Vegan Yack Attack A whole month dedicated to vegan mac & cheese? Say no more; we are THERE! Follow Vegan Yack Attack this month for all the cheesy, carby goodness.

Zsu’s Vegan Pantry  Burger fans, get yer buns ready: Zsu’s Vegan Pantry is dedicating the whole month of September to the endless possibilities of vegan burgers!

And there’s so, so, SO much more happening around the Internet this month for Vegan MoFo! Check out the full blogroll here, follow the hashtag #veganmofo on Instagram, and keep up with VeganMoFo.com for daily giveaways!

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Turning Point: What Inspired You to Start Advocating for Animals?

Over the weekend, we asked our Facebook followers, “What inspired you to start advocating for animals? What was the turning point for you?” We received nearly 200 heartwarming comments, some of which we will share with you here. 

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My mom taught me from a very young age to treat animals with compassion, and when I was 16 I decided to stop eating meat because I couldn’t justify the disconnect between the dead animal on my plate and the living cat at my feet. I went vegan at age 19 after taking an ethics class in college and reading the insightful work of Peter Singer and Tom Regan. My senior year in college I started an animal rights organization, Mean Greens for Animals. Now I’m about to start working with Hampton Creek Foods to make the egg industry obsolete. Working for animals is my passion, and they need every single one of us.” – Alexandria Kaye 

As a vet I felt that I cannot eat my patients. Started off as a vegetarian and am a vegan now.” – Vanaja Panickar

My parents killed my pet chicken on July 12, 1962 and served him for dinner. It was the first time I consciously understood what meat was.” – Samantha Curtis

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I was involved in animal rescue work, mostly with dogs and cats. A little girl, whose parents were divorcing, brought me her pet turkey, “Turkey Lurkey” and I promised she could visit any time. I fell in love with that bird and when Thanksgiving rolled around, I thought WTH am I doing, caring for the beautiful creature and now thinking about cooking one? That was the end of meat for me (my family soon followed). This happened in 1994 – my regret in life has been that it took me way too long to be where I should always have been.” – Holly Kathleen Stevens-Bondy

A video that my husband brought home. He is an animals rights lawyer. I couldn’t stop crying and that was it. Being an endurance athlete I wasn’t sure if I can go Vegan. Reading, Scott Jurek, vegan ultra runner and Brendan Brazier pro ironman, helped me to turn into vegan athlete. I appreciate my diet every single day, I recover way faster than I did before, no injures, sicknesses ever. I love to wear vegan shirts during races to show people that vegans are awesome.” – Gamze Kircalioglu

I was being attacked by a former boyfriend, and my dog Brady got him away from me and saved my life. I made a vow that day that I would forever fight for animals in every way. GO VEGAN!” – Nicole Furlan 

I worked about three days at a small town slaughterhouse. That was enough to make me reconsider a lot of issues: animal welfare and rights; personal health and diet. Slowly over the course of years I evolved into a mostly vegan diet.” – Stephan Caldwell

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We are all united by our compassion for animals and our commitment to helping them. Many people have said that their only regret is not learning about animal suffering and taking action sooner. The good news is that it’s never too late to change, it’s never too late to go vegan, and it’s never too late to speak out for our animal friends.

Click HERE to read all the responses on Facebook.

Photo credit: JoAnne McArthur / We Animals

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From PETA to Food Network: Exclusive Interview with Vegan Chef Kristina Addington

“How does it feel to lose to a vegan?” quips Chef Kristina Addington as she takes her position among her competitors on set of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” This bold statement ends up being delicious foreshadowing as Kristina became the first vegan chef to win the high stakes show known for its sabotaging twists! FARM was lucky to catch up with the talented “Vegan Temptress” about the show and vegan living.

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Growing up in a small rural town in Kentucky, Kristina was raised on typical Southern comfort foods. “I grew up eating everything fried in bacon grease,” she said. She never thought twice about it until 7 years ago, when she happened to stumble upon some information about factory farming online. That led to more research on animal agriculture, which then led to her epiphany. “It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Kristina said. “I knew I couldn’t support that [industry] anymore. I went vegetarian overnight.” Knowing she had to do more to help animals, Kristina started volunteering with animal advocacy groups as much as possible. Within a month, she was fully vegan.

And how did her “country” family take the news? “They thought I lost my mind,” Kristina said with a laugh. Though it was a big shock to the way her entire family had always lived and cooked (“My mom cooks just like Paula Deen!”), eventually they came around to the vegan side of things. Now when Kristina comes to visit, everyone enjoys preparing and eating vegan meals together.

Cooking was always a passion of Kristina’s. Before learning about factory farming and embracing a vegan lifestyle, she had already enrolled in culinary school. When her classes began, Kristina thought she could handle cooking non-vegan foods for other people, even though she herself wouldn’t be eating those animal products. That mentality changed the day the students were to “break down a chicken.” “I nearly had a panic attack. I knew there was no way I could do it,” admitted the vegan chef. From that point on, Kristina only worked with vegan foods, with which the school was very accommodating, bringing in tofu and tempeh.

But after a few semesters, Kristina’s other passion – helping animals – was calling, and she left culinary school to work with animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). For five years, Kristina promoted veganism and advocated for animals in the clothing industry. Throughout her time with PETA, Kristina taught vegan cooking classes on the side. Eventually, she realized she could combine her love of cooking and her dedication to animal advocacy full-time, and she returned to the kitchen.

Back in Kentucky, Kristina helped open a café and served as the executive chef, creating a vegan menu for the establishment. She created wholesale vegan and gluten-free baked goods. Her vegan cooking classes continued, as well as some small scale catering gigs. Wanting to do more to promote veganism, the Vegan Temptress looked toward national television. Specifically, Food Network.

While checking out the national cooking channel’s website, Kristina saw that they were taking applications for their competitive, high-stakes show, “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Kristina saw this as a way to really give veganism a spotlight and she applied right away, specifically stating on the application that she was a vegan chef, cooking only with vegan ingredients, and that she really wanted to highlight healthy, cruelty-free eating. “My ultimate goal [for appearing on “Cutthroat Kitchen”] was to promote veganism. Going on national TV would be the best way for me to reach the most viewers and eaters with this message,” Kristina explained. The very next day, the network called her, and a couple days later, she was booked for the show!

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Despite some “light, friendly teasing” from her opponents, as well as that jaw-dropping “sabotage” on the show where she was forced to bake gingersnap cookies with pickled sushi ginger, Kristina emerged a triumphant winner! Kristina proved that no matter what, delicious vegan food is always possible.

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The future looks bright for Chef Kristina. With her $18,500 winnings from “Cutthroat Kitchen,” she’s scoping out restaurant space for her future vegan restaurant. Until then, she has vegan catering and a possible vegan food truck on the horizon to showcase her delicious and cruelty-free Southern-style cooking. The more platforms for her food, the better; the world needs more vegan sausage gravy! Congrats again to Chef Kristina. We can’t wait to see what she whips up next!

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You can see the full “Cutthroat Kitchen” episode, titled “Two Chefs, One Toga,” on Food Network, XFinity TV, and Amazon.com.

To keep up with Kristina’s success, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Kristina J. Addington / Vegan Temptress and Food Network

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Truck Tour Cuisine with The 10 Billion Lives Crew

Mashed sweet potatoes, BBQ Beyond Meat, slaw with Beyond Mayo, and Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Amy's mac & cheese.
Brussels sprouts, BBQ Beyond Meat, slaw with Just Mayo, and Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Amy’s mac & cheese.

Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) love finding vegan meals in restaurants everywhere we go with the 10 Billion Lives tour. And while there really are vegan options everywhere, most of the time we cook our own meals. Though we lack a full kitchen as we’re touring the country, we’re able to whip up some gourmet meals with limited equipment. Since we talk to a lot of people who themselves have limited (or no) kitchen space, are short on time, and are cooking on a budget, we wanted to share some of our favorite meals we make while on the road that use affordable ingredients that can be found in any supermarket, can be made in a rice cooker, and don’t require much prep work.

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“Never Too Late to Go Vegan:” An Interview with Virginia Messina

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Virginia Messina, also known as The Vegan RD, has a few books under her belt including “Vegan for Life” and “Vegan for Her;” both which I highly recommend. In her latest installment, co-authored with Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman, “Never Too Late to Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet,” Messina provides essential nutritional information pertinent to folks who are over age 50. In addition, the trio of authors tackles some of the challenges facing folks who are interested in transitioning to a vegan diet later in life and help guide their readers towards a goal of ultimate health.

I was privileged to have the opportunity to interview Virginia Messina regarding her latest book. My interview is posted below. Messina will also be speaking at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference held July 10th-13th in Los Angeles, California.

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Skip the Easter Ham and Skip the Cruelty

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An Easter tradition here in the US has been to celebrate life and new beginnings by sitting down to a meal with a honey-baked ham as the centerpiece. Thing is… if most folks took a moment to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday, they might notice that consuming the body of a dead animal doesn’t align with the life-affirming spirit of Easter.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals, with advanced learning and problem solving capabilities. They can use tools, understand commands just like dogs do, they respond to their name only after a few months of being born, and they have a high sense of social recognition, which help them form strong social bonds. Pigs can even learn to play video games!

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All Our Water is Going to a Plant We Don’t Eat to Support a Diet We Don’t Need

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The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir as seen on Feb. 7, 2014 in San Jose, California.

2013 went down as the driest year in California’s recorded history.  A major reservoir outside of Sacramento has been reduced from 83% to 36% capacity in just over 2 years.  In the Central Valley, 1,200 square miles of land is sinking at a rate of 11 inches a year from the drilling of groundwater.  And the annual measure of the Sierra Nevada snowmelt done every April 1st indicates that the end isn’t in sight.

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Eat Less Meat to Save More Wildlife, Show More Love for the Planet

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Raising animals for food is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions, which contribute to global warming and climate change.

When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, people were concerned about air and water pollution and the survival of endangered species. They talked about how the growing human population was crowding out wildlife and how we all have a responsibility to take care of the planet. Now, 44 years later, there are 3.5 billion more of us in the world, and our appetite for energy, land and meat has skyrocketed.

It’s time for a renewed call to action for the planet and wildlife, and we can start by taking extinction off our plates.

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