Milk and the dairy industry

A number of people ask me why I don’t consume dairy products, since the animals are not killed in the process. I hear often that “I couldn’t give up cheese.” When I became vegetarian many years ago, I felt the same way about cheese: I loved it too much to give it up. As I learned about the dairy industry, however, and how much cows suffer to provide us with milk and cheese, I simply couldn’t continue to indulge my love of cheese. This post explains well why I switched from vegetarianism to veganism.

Debunking five top vegan myths

This post, by nuitrionist Ginny Messina discusses five top myths associated with a vegan diet:

  • You’ll feel awful when you first go vegan because your body will be detoxing.  Ah yes, that old chestnut.  I am growing heartily sick of hearing about detox diets and how it’s important that we purge our bodies of all the toxins that are apparently festering in our intestines.  There is little to no scientific evidence to support these claims, especially since our digestive system is designed to process foods efficiently.
  • Plant foods are incomplete because they’re missing essential amino acids.  Plant foods contain all the amino acids; they might have them in lower quantities, but since most healthy vegans eat a lot of plant-based foods, they should get plenty.  I still hear people clinging onto the long-debunked myth that you have to combine foods to get complete protein.
  • Vegan diets are low in fat.  Low in saturated fats, yes.

  • Vegan diets are boring and restrictive.  This depends on the individual, of course, and his or her approach to cooking and eating.  As I hope my recipes show, my vegan diet, at least, is far from boring and restrictive.
  • A vegan diet requires vitamin B12 supplements, so it’s not a natural diet for humans. I suspect that many human carnivores and omnivores don’t get plenty of vitamins and minerals that the body needs, so this is a  non-starter.  I get a chuckle from others who claim that it’s “natural” for humans to eat meat because we originated as hunter-gatherers.  The Paleo Diet makes me chuckle in its claim that the original caveman diet is the healthiest, since this is what we humans are genetically designed to consume.  So, I suppose we should discount the hundreds of thousands of years of human development and change.

Vegan energy bars

This post lists six recipes for home made vegan energy bars.  They all look very simple to make and, more importantly, edible.  Here are the tantalizing titles:

  • Chocolate fig bars
  • Apricot oat bars
  • Carob quinoa bars
  • Brown rice bars
  • Nutty, no-bake coconut bars
  • Raw banana nut bars.

I must try the fig bars first, since figs and pomegranates are my favourite fruits.





No diplomacy for pandas

As I have stated before, I do not like zoos, and do not believe that animals should be used as exhibits, even under the guise of education or protection from extinction. Zoocheck Canada, an organization I have supported for many years, provides this very timely discussion of zoos, in light of the Panda exhibit in Toronto. Dr Robinson argues that “Given our knowledge of animal psychology and behaviour, it is no longer possible for us to ignore the ethical wrong of keeping animals captive in our country’s zoos and aquariums.”  Dr. Robinson expresses misgivings about the ethics of keeping animals captive in the name of conservation: “There is little doubt that conservation can be a worthy cause, but what is often not discussed is the moral dilemma of imprisoning one animal for the potential future generations of animals that may or may not come to fruition. The issue is then whether our desire for conservation outweighs a captive animal’s quality of life.”

Dr. Robinson concludes with something I’ve believed in for years, namely that should we be teaching children that keeping animals captive and depriving them of their natural environment and dignity is the proper way to care for, and respect them?

To continue to sell zoos as entertainment is cruel. Moreover, the fact that the exhibits are often directed at young people poses a larger problem. What kind of lesson are we teaching when we encourage them to derive pleasure out of the deprivation of another living being? The time has come to end this practice and start exploring other ways to observe and interact with animals. Surely by the twenty-first century we can stop looking at them in cages.



Be cruelty free: Canada campaign

Animal Alliance of Canada, an organization I have supported for many years, is working with Humane Society International/Canada to encourage Canada to follow the EU’s lead in banning all animal testing for cosmetics.  This site provides very useful information for this very worthwhile cause.