Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vegan 101: tips for spreading the message

examiner.com - Tuesday, July 28, 2009

By Ed Coffin, Philadelphia Vegan Examiner

Veganism is finally receiving the attention it deserves. Whether or not people agree with it, veganism is quickly becoming one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time. Veganism is appearing everywhere from local restaurant menus to mainstream media coverage.

For those of us who already subscribe to the idea that animals should exist for their own reasons and not be subject to exploitation or interference by humans, we need to begin questioning the productiveness and effectiveness of our efforts.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Am I taking action to influence others?

Do I stay calm when people don't agree?

Is my message clear and consistent?

Do I know what I'm talking about?

Does my message reflect my ethics?

Is my message easy to understand?

Do people generally agree with me?

Do people return to me with additional questions?

Do I know the common rebuttals to my ideas?

Am I friendly and approachable?

If you answered "no" to any of the above questions, you may want to consider how changing your behavior could have a direct impact on the amount of people that adopt your ideas.

People are more willing to follow the ideas of those that they like and trust. Think back to a time when you were in an academic setting. Were you more receptive to professors that you liked or those that you hated? When people don't like you, they're generally not going to like your ideas whether they agree with them or not.

Don't be discouraged if you haven't had successful conversations with others in the past. Everyone has made irrational decisions in the heat of a debate that they regret. Take it as a learning experience. Think about how you can change your tactics in the future to get people to agree with you.

Tips for improving effectiveness of communications with others:

Agree and relate often with the other person.

Become informed in the subject you're discussing.

Use a tone of voice that is not aggressive or condescending.

Try to steer away from abstract, hypothetical questions.

Make sure your appearance does not discredit your opinion.

Recognize when the other person is no longer receptive.

Attempt to incorporate as many personal experiences as possible.

Let the other person express their opinion and listen sincerely.

Try not to use an abundance of unfamiliar terms that they don't understand.

Don't lie or exaggerate if you don't know the answer.

Remember, you can't force someone to understand and agree with you on the first try. Most of the time planting the seed is more important than winning the debate.

If people think about what you have to say and have questions in the future, it's likely that they'll ask you more about it if they feel comfortable approaching you about it.

Unfortunately, despite the media attention and exposure, a vegan world is only going to occur through a grassroots effort. We need to change the way society thinks about animals. The more effective we are at convincing people to reconsider their habits, the sooner we will have a compassionate world.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Vegan Party Display!

The new Vegan Party of Canada display is finally done! We have our banner and a number of free-standing posters too, which we will be displaying at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair in September.

We are also in the process of getting our CHOOSE COMPASSION - GO VEGAN t-shirts printed for the food fair. Woo hoo!

If you know of any upcoming event or venue - eco-fair, library, etc. - that we could set up our new display, please let us know.

We are also displaying brochures - Vegan Outreach's Compassionate Choices and Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating, along with our Vegan Party of Canada brochures, at a number of businesses in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

If you know a place that would be willing to let us put our brochures in their window or on their countertop, send us a note.

Thanks a million!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vegan Nutrition

A well balanced vegan diet is easier than you think and can provide all the essential nutrients you require. Nutritional guidelines for vegans are essentially similar to those for vegetarians, with the exception that vegans use plant sources to gain certain nutrients that vegetarians get from dairy products and eggs.


Obtaining adequate amounts of protein on a vegan diet is not a problem. Nuts, seeds, grain and wholegrain foods, tofu, soy products and a variety of vegetables all supply the necessary protein required to maintain good health.

Essential Fatty Acids

Most people consume too much fat, but few people get enough of the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats can be found in walnuts, canola oil, and flax seeds. For maximum absorbtion, flax seeds should be ground up in a blender or coffee grinder, then added to smoothies or sprinkled on top of other foods. Flax seeds are also rich in protein, potassium, magnesium, boron, and lignans, which may help prevent cancer.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Vegans can obtain B12 from a wide range of foods which have been fortified with the vitamin. These include veggie burgers and veggie dogs, breakfast cereals, vegetable margarines and soy milks. You should check the packaging to see which individual products are fortified with B12.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is present in oily fish, eggs and dairy products but vegans can obtain vitamin D from vegetable margarines, some soy and rice milks and certain other foods which are fortified with the vitamin. Vitamin D is also synthesised by the skin when exposed to sunlight.

Synthesis of vitamin D in this way is usually adequate to supply all the body's requirements. Most vegans will obtain sufficient vitamin D providing they spend time outdoors on bright days. Vegans who get little sunlight or live at high latitudes should take a vitamin D supplement or consume foods fortified with vitamin D.


Calcium is important in the formation and maintenance of bones and vegans can get their calcium needs from plant sources. Good sources include tofu, leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Soy milks and veggie dogs are also fortified with calcium. High calcium foods include kale, broccoli, collards, and fortified soy milks & orange juice.


It is perfectly safe to raise a child on a vegan diet. Vegan children should be given plenty of nutrient rich foods and need good sources of protein, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. High fibre foods can fill up a child without filling their nutritional needs as well as interfering with mineral absorption from the intestine. For these reasons, foods high in fibre shouldn't be overused.

Sources: The Vegetarian Society, chooseveg.com

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Farmers aren’t living high on the hog

Pork producers protest in a bid to get financial help from province, feds

Niagara This Week - Friday, July 17, 2009


In amongst the tourists, about 50 beginning hog farmers and their families found themselves marching around Simcoe Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake, urging the federal and provincial governments to help them save their farms.

“We’ve been hit by a ‘perfect storm,’” said rally organizer Teresa De Wetering, a hog producer from Stratford. “There was circo-virus in 2006, high feed costs, low prices, U.S. country of origin labelling, the recession and now H1N1, which has nothing to do with the pork we eat.”

Because of these factors, many hog farmers in Ontario are so far in debt, they are on the brink of losing their farms, said De Wetering.

De Wetering said beginning farmers – those who either started a farm or switched from contract to full-ownership production after 2004 – are some of the hardest hit.

The federal and provincial governments have created programs, like the Ontario Cattle Hog and Horticulture Payment and Cost of Production, aimed at aiding hog farmers, but De Wetering said these programs are based on a producer’s historical production data, which beginning farmers like her don’t have.

The rally was held in Niagara-on-the-Lake to coincide with the July 8 Federal, Provincial and Territorial Agricultural Ministers Meeting attended by Ontario Agricultural Minister Leona Dombrowsky.

In a statement, Dombrowsky’s office said, “The government provided $150 million in assistance to Ontario hog, cattle and horticulture producers last spring.” The money was given as a one-time payment to producers “most affected by low prices and high costs.”

Dombrowsky’s office said the money was given to producers based on Cost of Production and the Ontario Cost Recognition Top-up payment data.

The statement also said the ministers “discussed the situation of the pork industry and how programming is responding.” They also heard proposals from the Canadian Pork Council.

According to the Ontario Pork Producers’ Marketing Board, there are 36 hog producers in the Niagara region, who were responsible for 83,630 hogs marketed in 2008.

Smithville producer John Sikkens, Jr. said he and his father don’t qualify for government assistance payments.

“We switched from dairy 10 years ago,” he said. Although he had previously been farming with his father, he got married three years ago and started his own hog farm. Together, he and his father, John Sr., have 4,200 finishing hogs.

“The pig income isn’t covering our mortgage,” he said. “If it wasn’t for my parents, we would have been broke already.”

John Sr. is considered an established farmer, but also attended the rally. He has been farming full-time since 1963 and said he’s never seen the industry fall so low.

“No year has ever been this bad,” he said. “Times are tough. Last year we lost $70,000 on hogs.”

Blogger's Note:

While I usually feel sorry for anyone who is hard hit during these times of economic "uncertainty", I find it hard to sympathize with the "producers" of domestic animals destined for slaughter.

Aside from the fact that a number of these hog farmers are newcomers to the business - raising hogs for as short a time as 3 years - yet expect the government to bail them out as if they are due some special treatment, what really browns me off (to use my mother's expression) is that my tax dollars are going to subside animal killers.

Why should I have to support an industry that I am ethically and morally opposed to with every fiber of my being; an industry that commits atrocious acts of violence against other living creatures each and every day and reduces them to commodities, inanimate objects, production units while butchering and disassembling their bodies to become bacon, ham and pork chops?

I chose to live a vegan lifestyle because I am against such needless exploitation and destruction. Why should I be forced to assist the exploiters and destroyers?

If business is so bad, get out of it. Find a profession that doesn't cause so much suffering and torment. Invest in something that celebrates and promotes life, instead of peddling in misery and death.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Groceries 101: The best vegan dairy-free alternatives

Examiner.com - Friday, July 17, 2009

By Joy Harris, Minneapolis Vegetarian Examiner

These are recommendations for the best dairy-free alternatives for vegans, some vegetarians and those with dairy allergies. I buy these products on a regular basis and believe they offer the best taste and texture in the non-dairy grocery product category. Most of the products are good sources of calcium and protein.

So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk. Contains live active cultures, is sweetened with cane juice and comes in many flavors including plain, vanilla, strawberry, blueberry, mango, pina colada and chocolate. I use the plain in Greek and Indian sauces and vanilla in muffin recipes.

Purely Decadent Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. These pints of frozen goodness are available in non-dairy flavors made with soy and non-dairy flavors made with coconut milk (no soy). I prefer the coconut-based version in flavors including chocolate, cookie dough, mint chip, coconut, mocha almond fudge and vanilla bean.

Tofutti Better than Sour Cream and Better than Cream Cheese. I love Better than Sour Cream. I use it in mashed potatoes and on baked potatoes, to make chip and veggie dips, with burritos and fajitas, and to top my famous veggie chili. The cream cheese comes in several flavors and is a great cracker spread. Tofutti products are a blend of tofu and oils.

Silk Creamer. Made of non-genetically engineered soybeans and sweetened with cane juice, this comes in several flavors – original, French vanilla and hazelnut cream. I’m sure it’s great in coffee. But for those who don’t drink coffee, the creamer has other uses. I use this on my morning oatmeal, poured over berries and peaches/nectarines and the original flavor is great for making creamy soups.

Silk Soymilk. Of all the nut- and grain-based milks I’ve tried, Silk is my favorite. It comes in original, chocolate, vanilla and very vanilla. Most flavors are also available in a Light version with half the fat. It’s wonderful on cereal, for recipes, or just to drink.

Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. These are conveniently-packaged as four half-cup sticks in a box and are perfect for baking – especially vegan cookies. Earth Balance products are non-GMO and free of hydrogenated oils and artificial ingredients.

365 Everyday Value brand margarine in a tub. This is Whole Foods private label made with a blend of organic, non-hydrogenated oils. It’s great anywhere you’d use a spreadable margarine – on toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles or melted on veggies.

NaSoya sandwich spread. This used to be called Nayonaise, but they’ve updated the packaging and now call it vegi-based sandwich spread. It’s great on sandwiches and for making pasta salads, potato salad and tofu eggless salad.