Libraries’ role in helping to reduce cruelty to animals.

The British Columbia SPCA discusses how public libraries can be used to expose children to feeling empathy for animals which can, in turn, result in reduced incidences of animal abuse and cruelty. The Vancouver Public Library (VPL) has created an excellent list of children’s resources that features works about animals and their care. The BC SPCA has a list of resources that it is happy to share with public libraries. The society asks people to contact their local library with this message:

A sincere thank you for the work you do to promote literacy and child development. I am disturbed in learning about the link between domestic violence and animal abuse (learn more from I believe we can make a difference in people’s attitudes towards each other and animals if we help them develop empathy from a young age. I am writing to ask: will you order the books on this list and promote them in our library? By doing so, I am confident that your actions will help make a difference in an at risk child’s life.

This is such a wonderful initiative, and kudos to VPL. I think this would be a splendid course of action across public libraries in Canada.


Greyhound racing ban in New South Wales

The New South Wales government has passed a bill to ban greyhound racing, in a country where this sport – a term I use very loosely – is still mostly legal. Greyhound racing is problematic for a number of reasons:

  • It can lead to overbreeding of dogs
  • High euthanasia rates for dogs who are injured, or who are no longer suitable for racing
  • Injuries to thousands of dogs
  • Racing dogs live very solitary lives, deprived of human contact and socialization
  • Live baits, in the form of rabbits. piglets, or possums, are sometimes used to train the dogs, who are sighthounds.

Although there are several societies that rescue former racing dogs and put them in foster homes, and, eventually, in permanent homes, not all of these dogs can be accommodated by the societies. In most cases, the greyhound industry regulates itself, which is hardly a reassurance that animals will be treated well.

Greyhound racing is not, unfortunately, illegal in Canada; rather, betting is allowed on only horse racing. This means that amateur greyhound racing can occur in Canada, e.g., the Calida Greyhound Race Track in Red Deer, Alberta. Lure coursing is practised also in Canada. There isn’t much information about the treatment and fate of racing greyhounds in Canada, unfortunately.

Information about greyhound rescue groups in Canada may be found here.




Vegan diets may contribute to longer lives

As reported here, according to a study conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital, which tracked the health and diet records of 131,342 people over three decades, replacing processed red meat with vegetables, nuts and cereals saw the biggest drop in death rates, of 32 per cent.

The authors are quoted as saying:

Previous long-term studies on major animal and plant foods are broadly consistent with these findings, and there are several mechanisms which could explain the findings.

‘Overall, the study adds to the view healthy diets should emphasise plant foods, including plant sources of protein, and intakes of animal source foods – especially processed meat – should be low.

The study concludes: High animal protein intake was positively associated with mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with mortality, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially that from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source. **

**Mingyang S., Fung, T. T., Hu, F., Willett, W. C., Longo, V. D. , Chan, A.T., & Giovannucci, E.L. (2016). Association of animal and plant protein intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, August. (full online text available to me via my employer).


Roasted cherry tomato and vegan cream cheese pasta

I had intended to make a simply pasta sauce with roasted cherry tomatoes but, as usually happens with me, I added some other ingredients at the last minute based on what I had in the fridge. Serendipitous cooking is always so much fun, and I’ve been doing it long enough to know that it rarely fails. The ingredients below were for a single serving, so modify as necessary. As always, measurements are approximate.



  • Pasta of your choice. I used spaghetti this time, but most types would work.
  • Cherry tomatoes. You could  use regular tomatoes, but I like the sweetness of cherry tomatoes. I used about 2 cups, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • Olives.  I used large pitted green olives this time, but use whatever types you like.
  • Green onions, diced
  • Fresh peas (frozen if fresh are out of season). I used up what I had in the fridge, which came out to about 1 cup.
  • Cream cheese. I had a container of Daiya chives and onion vegan cream cheese. I used two tablespoons.
  • Soy milk, as necessary, to thin the sauce.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Cut the tomatoes in half. Toss in olive oil and salt, and roast at 400F until they are soft and lightly charred.
  2. As the pasta cooks, saute the green onions, sliced olives, and fresh peas in olive oil. I don’t steam the fresh peas in advance, as I prefer to retain their natural sweetness and bite.
  3. Add the roasted tomatoes to the onion mix. Add the cream cheese, and mix well. I needed to add a touch of soy milk to thin the sauce. Do NOT use almond or coconut milk, as their flavour simply will not work in the sauce.
  4. Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce and mix well.


Tofu pot pie

I didn’t take a photograph of the finished dish, for some reason, but I have in-process pictures that I’ll use instead. I used frozen peas, corn, and carrots for this recipe, as I wanted it to be quick and easy, but by all means use fresh if you like. I don’t tend to use fresh peas for baked recipes, as it seems a waste of the tender taste of the fresh version, especially since they will be covered in gravy.



  • 2 vegetable pastry shells.  You can make your own, but I bought them prepared.
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups corn (I thawed from frozen)
  • 2 cups peas and carrot mix (I thawed from frozen)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
  • soy sauce to taste
  • gravy browning
  • onion powder to taste
  • garlic powder totaste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  • Saute the onions in olive oil until softened.  Add the remaining vegetables and season to taste.
  • In a blender, add the gravy ingredients and mix well.  Use enough gravy browning to ensure a nice deep colour.
  • Cook the gravy over medium heat until it thickens.
  • Mix enough gravy into the vegetable mix to coat thoroughly.
  • Place the vegetable mixture in the bottom pie shell, and cover with the second. Cut some air vents into the top.
  • Bake at 400 until browned





Lentil, mushroom, and spinach shepherd’s pie

20160625_175606 1


  • I cup dried lentils
  • Mushrooms
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh spinach
  • Soy or tamari sauce
  • Vegetable broth
  • Tomato paste
  • Cornstarch
  • Potatoes
  • Soy milk
  • Vegan margarine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Thyme and oregano


I made this a while ago, so I can’t remember the amounts of the ingredients used, so you will need to use your own judgement.

  • Cook the lentils.  You can use tinned, but I always prefer to cook from dry
  • Saute the mushrooms in olive oil
  • Add the lentils and spinach and saute until the latter is wilted
  • Add 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • Add enough broth to just cover the vegetables.  You don’t want the mixture to be runny.  Add soy or tamari to taste.
  • Add enough cornstarch to thicken the mixture. I always start with 1 tablespoon dissolved in a little water, which I add gradually to the mixture.  Adjust as necessary
  • Season to taste with herbs and spices
  • Peel and dice the potatoes and boil until tender.  The potatoes will form the top, so use enough to allow a thick layer.  Mash with soy milk and margarine and season to taste
  • Place vegetable mixture in a casserole and cover with the mashed potatoes
  • Back at 350 until the potatoes are browned.

Red beans and rice

I first had red beans and rice in New Orleans. I love legumes, and this is an easy and nutritious meal to prepare. My version is not spicy, as I don’t have a high tolerance for spicy foods, but you can always add as much heat as you like, e.g., cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and so forth.


  • 1.5 cups cooked red kidney beans. I cook mine from dry, but tinned are fine.
  • 28 oz. tin of tomatoes. I used only half the tin. I  use peeled San Marzano tomatoes, as they are far tastier than the standard tinned variety.
  • I sweet pepper, finely chopped. I used a red one for the colour
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt to taste


  1. Saute the onions and peppers. Add the garlic when the vegetables have softenened.
  2. In a blender or food processor (I used my Vitamix), chop half the beans and the tinned tomatoes (remember use only half a tin).
  3. Add the blended beans, the remaining whole beans, and the herbs and salt to the cooked vegetables.
  4. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes.  Stir often, as the mixture will thicken and might stick to the pot.

20160526_145949Serve over warm cooked rice.  I used brown.