Monday, October 31, 2011

Doccupy Wall Street

Darwin Animal Doctors brings the animals of Occupy Wall Street their creature comforts.

Yesterday, volunteers from the Galapagos-based veterinary clinic Darwin Animal Doctors came to Occupy Wall Street with food, medications, beds and hugs for the animals living in Zuccotti Park. Since the occupation started on September 17, the population (human and non) has increased dramatically. The Kitchen, Medical and Comfort working groups mostly cater to the needs of the two-legged occupiers, so DAD president and co-founder Tod Emko rallied the troops to make sure our furry friends were taken care of as well.

Veterinarian Jodi Kuntz and vet techs Lucy Chou and Adrien Zap spent the morning consulting with dogs and a pet rat, provided food, information on local low-cost vet options and making care suggestions (most dogs occupying Wall Street could do with some booties).

Darwin Animal Doctors hopes to return soon to check up on more of our animal occupiers soon.

If you would like to donate animal care products to Occupy Wall Street, bring them downtown whenever you can, or comment here or email me and we'll work something out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Best Laid PLans

Often go awry.

So there we were, all ready to cook our way through Appetite for Reduction, when Terry started testing for her upcoming international cookbook: Vegan Eats World (working title). So I told my mother I'd like to incorporate some of Terry's new recipes into our plan and if she was disappointed by the idea of supplementing her diet of Low Fat Healthy Vegan Food with dishes from the person who brought her Sancocho and Quinoa Roasted Pumpkin Risotto, she hid it well.

At this point, we'd already had the AFR Sanctuary Dressing (kind of like ranch, but better), Spinach Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta (delicious, but my mother thought the dressing was too thymey), and the Quinoa, White Bean and Kale Stew (perfect for a chilly fall night). The Ginger Bok Choy Soba was up next, so we topped it with Terry's Pressed Baked Tofu.

Terry suggests pressing the tofu after slicing, which is way faster than doing it before. 35 minutes was more than enough for perfect firm, chewy tofu. The marinade was delicious, too. It was a bit too spicy for me to eat the tofu alone (I'm a huge baby), but it was perfect over noodles and on toast with a bit of Veganaise (so perfect that I wanted to make another sandwich today, but didn't want to hog all the tofu because my mother really liked it).

In other news, my tester copy of Vegan Pie in the Sky arrived this weekend. It's beautiful. Lowfatcookingwhat?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to Food

I'm no sure if I've mentioned this in the past, but both of my parents are extremely overweight. As a bonus, my father is diabetic and has heart disease. My mother is hypertensive with high cholesterol and degenerative disk disease in her back. I can't remember the last time she stood up without exclaiming "Oy!" I hope to change that.

Starting this Thursday, we're eating our way through Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. We won't be eating from there exclusively, but I'm trying to encourage them to keep it vegan in the house, and save the animal products for restaurants. Make eating out a real "occasion".

With some work, I hope to bring down my father's blood sugar and my mother's cholesterol and blood pressure. I'd also like to see her get some weight off of her back and joints. I don't know if it will actually happen, but it's worth a try.

This is one of those times where most "real" bloggers would start breaking out the menu planners, scales and measuring tape in order to document everyone's progress for the whole Internet to see. (Un?)Fortunately, I don't have that kind of time, but I'll try to post occasional updates, even if it's just a heads up of which dishes people like best. And if my mother starts doing cartwheels down the hallway, I'll be sure to post video.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street 2.0

Just a quick drive-by post to suggest that if you don't want to listen to me, at least listen to Will Potter. Or Josh Harper. Or the Vegan Police.

Then point your Internet at this and join in.

I'll be at Zuccotti Park this evening and probably tomorrow night too, if anyone wants to talk about issues surrounding animals with two, four or twenty-four legs, economics, politics, vegan recipes, comic books, knitting or what it's all about, really, when you get down to it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ethical Dilemma

Last week, I attended a couple of protests against the Jewish ritual of Kapparot. Kapparot is an attempt to "kaper" (atone) for one's sins by transferring them to a live chicken or money, then giving it to charity. When chickens are used, they are picked up either by the feet or wings and waved over or swung around the head of the person performing the ritual three times while they recite a prayer. The chicken is then slaughtered and her flesh goes to feed poor people. There is some variation in how that happens, but that's the gist.

I'm going to skip over the experience of the protests themselves and how I feel about the whole thing in favor of one point: the chickens are transported in boxes too low for them to stand in and given no food or water from the time they're packed up until the time they're killed. The boxes are also stacked so if a chicken in the top box relieves herself, everyone below her gets a surprise.

Almost everyone I pointed this out to said it was wrong (there are specific laws in the Jewish bible to protect animals from "unnecessary" suffering) and something should be done to change it. They also felt there was nothing they could do about it. One even asked me to open a humane, organic Kapparot chicken company, saying that almost everyone would go to me, even if it would cost more, to keep the chickens from suffering.

One person said he had contacted the people who order the chickens, trying to get them more humane conditions, but it didn't work. He said he also contacted PETA, to see if they could help, but they did nothing. He then asked if I would be able to get a few people together next year to supervise the chicken transport, see that they're in comfortable crates, feed the chickens during the day, and do everything else necessary to make their last day on earth easier on them. I gave him my phone number, but I'm 99% sure he won't call.

But what if he does? I hate the words "abolitionist" and "welfarist" and generally think they're used by people who spend too much time philosophizing and not enough time acting, but that's really what this comes down to.

I don't want to help these people kill more chickens. I want the practice to end completely. I think we may be able to end it in our lifetimes, but I know it won't end next year. So why not help the chickens spend their last hours comfortably, with love and attention? I think this is different from the "happy meat" issue, since more chickens will not be used just because people feel better about how they're treated. The people who perform this ritual will do it, and those who don't won't, regardless of the chickens' well being.

In addition to caring for the chickens, I think developing a decent relationship with the People In Charge, may encourage them to give us more chickens to take to a sanctuary (they gave us a few this year). Also, most of these people have probably never seen chickens treated as anything more than an object. If we are able to stay with the chickens while people are performing the ritual and let them see us caring for them the way they care for their dogs, or their children (maybe even wearing t-shirts with a message about using money instead, maybe printed in English, Hebrew and Yiddish) it may drive the point home, especially for the young people.

So. What do you think? Would this be enabling people to murder chickens or would it be an act of mercy? What would you do?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

We're in week three of Occupy Wall Street and I still don't know exactly what I want to say about it here. No wonder the General Assembly has had so much trouble coming up with a specific demand or manifesto. I guess I should start with the basic info:

On September 17, people took to the streets of lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and started to occupy Wall Street until the changes they want are made or they're removed by force. Inspired by the movements in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Iceland, the plan is to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation and nonviolence to restore democracy in America.

"Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. The original call for this occupation was published by Adbusters in July; since then, many individuals across the country have stepped up to organize this event, such as the people of the NYC General Assembly and US Day of Rage. There'll also be similar occupations in the near future such as October2011 in Freedom Plaza, Washington D.C."