Wild, Wild West – ExpoWest 2015

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This morning when I woke up the air temperature in Ithaca, New York was -20° F. This was the actual temperature, not the wind chill or “feels like.” This was it. The nose-hair-freezing, finger-numbing, water-bottle-in-your-car-exploding, actual temperature. So, I thought it was the perfect time to blog about my upcoming trip to California!

Go west, young vegan.

ExpoWest, held from March 6-8th in Anaheim, California, has called my name. In addition to soaking up some much-needed sun (even if it’s only 50° there … that is still 70° warmer than where I am now), I am honored to be working with the team at Miyoko’s Kitchen on expanding their already very successful vegan cheese company into a broader wholesale market. While most of my time will be spent there, I am also going to finally meet some of my other contacts established over the years since starting this blog.

Specifically (and I hope I am not leaving anyone out), I am thrilled to meet my friends from VioLife who are using ExpoWest as a launching pad to finally bring their amazing products to America (from Greece). Over the past two years I have built such a valuable relationship with this company and am so looking forward to meeting face-to-face. If you’re going to ExpoWest, I highly recommend you to visit their booth and sample their products.

I also can’t wait to meet Justin and Emily from BeyondMeat! I’ve been a Brand Ambassador for over two years (although I think they call them Super Fans now) and I’ve been such a huge (super) fan of all their products. Last year they exhibited with an actual full-scale Taco Bell restaurant as their tradeshow booth so I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with this year!

Other companies on my “must-see” list are also the companies that have been with me every step of the way toward my transition to veganism:

… and … there are no words that can describe the anticipation I am feeling about finally meeting, in person, so many of my fellow vegan bloggers (ironically, some of these first meetings are going to be with east coasters):

First timer like me? Then you have to download the “Insider’s Guide to Natural Products Expo” from the wonderful Whitney Lauritsen, aka Eco-Vegan Gal. This is the complete guide to the Expo. Written by a seasoned expert, Whitney has attended for nine years and provides “all you need to know … Expo.” Judging by the size of this event, we can all learn a thing or two (or ten or twenty, if you’re me) from this new e-book.

There are also business meeting, contacts, and connections I will make while there (which is actually the point of the trip). And, of course …

Food. Endless and endless amounts of food to sample. I do think it’s kid of ironic that everyone I know is SO excited to go to a natural products expo … only to load up on junk food.

I don’t think anyone is going to try apples.

Are you going? Comment here or send me an email … would love to meet up with other Expo-pros or newcomers — like me!

Go vegan.

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Organ Lickin’ Good!

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I have to laugh when I read articles like this one in Time Magazine today: “Teen Found a Chicken Organ in His KFC Order.” Of course I can laugh, I have the privilege of being vegan so this will never happen to me. However, I laugh more thinking about this kid, and probably thousands more around the world, who find a dead body part in their fast food lunch or dinner order … which, ultimately, contains dead body parts.

That poor woman who was horrified finding a chicken foot shrink-wrapped in the chicken breast packaging at her local grocer. You know … that shrink-wrapped packaging that was keeping dead body parts fresh long enough to bring home in time to cook? Well, that very same package contained dead body parts.

The disconnect still baffles me.

Sure, it is disgusting. Consider that other unfortunate woman who found a fully-fried chicken head in with her … um, fried chicken body parts? Not sure what she was expecting when she ordered it but the chances of finding a dead animal in your order of fried dead animal is pretty high. That’s no Happy Meal … for anyone.

Well, today’s Time Magazine article concluded with:

Cobarubies (the victim) says he eventually heard from a KFC official, who said that the organ was probably a gizzard or kidney and was completely edible. Still, the episode may deter the teen from visiting KFC again soon. “I’m probably just going to have to start packing my own meals, making my own sandwiches,” he said.

Sandwiches, which, I am pretty sure have a 100% chance of containing dead body parts.

Go vegan.

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“Most Vegans I Know …” ~ Guest Blog Post

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Guest Blog Post by Jen

Most vegans I know are introspective and give deep meaningful thought to how their actions and choices affect others and our planet. Most vegans I know think critically about social, political, and economic disparities. Most vegans I know are trying to live an ethical and moral life and help others along the way. Most vegans I know are concerned about the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones. Most vegans I know are nonviolent folks who wouldn’t want to permanently and severely damage or kill other people, including innocent babies.

Most vegans I know wouldn’t drink and drive, endangering their lives and others, even though it’s their personal choice to drink. Most vegans I know have a visceral reaction to the unnecessary suffering of animals and also don’t like the thought of seeing their fellow humans suffer. Most vegans I know wouldn’t visit an oncology ward with even a head cold knowing a simple cold to someone with a compromised immune system could give them pneumonia. Most vegans I know don’t exercise their constitutional right to bear arms thereby making it impossible for them to accidentally shoot other people, even though it would be their personal choice to own a gun. Most vegans I know are loving and compassionate and I’m fortunate to have them in my life.

Most vegans I know are anti-vaxxers because vaccines are not vegan.

And yet it is indisputably the fault of anti-vaxxers that we are seeing a serious, highly contagious and potentially deadly disease reemerge in this country of wealth and privilege and education and freedom. Most vegans I know, my friends, wouldn’t want my baby to suffer brain damage or blindness or deafness or even death. Yet their very presence in a room with my daughter could kill her. Most vegans I know want to do the right thing for themselves, their families, their friends, and for the good of public health.

Most vegans I know strive for an organic lifestyle free of toxins, yet most vegans I know breathe air (polluted with toxins), drink water (polluted with sterilizing chemicals), eat out at non-organic restaurants, touch plastics, wear non-organic cotton, buy clothes and use iPhones and droids and computers made halfway around the world in sweatshops, use unsustainable energy, drive cars, fly in airplanes, and generally leave a carbon footprint everyday despite recycling efforts, water conservation, and being vegan. Most vegans I know believe in the science of climate change, the science of nutrition, and science in general, but choose to deny the science of vaccines. Most vegans I know aren’t perfect people, but they’re doing the best they can.

Please vegans, vaccinate your kids. Save lives. Do what you say you are all about: compassion, nonviolence, love for all living beings which includes doing your part to not kill babies and those who cannot get vaccinated because of weakened immune systems. Your emotional politics are making people suffer unnecessarily and we will start seeing deaths in this country as a direct result of your in-action. The time to vaccinate is now. You won’t be any less-vegan, less-pure, less-organic for doing so. We can save lives together while at the same time advocating for veganism.

Jen is a mother of 2 under 2, an ethical vegan, a social justice educator, a public health advocate and a pro-vaxxer.

Go Vegan (and vaccinate).

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Vegan Protesters Shut Down Oklahoma Production of Hamlet

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[Center City, OK] A Center City production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was shut down amid disruptive protests by members of the Oklahoma Vegans United March (OVUM). The play is scheduled to begin again on February 2nd, pending repairs required to the damaged set and costumes.

“The performance had just resumed from intermission,” said Derrick Longfellow, an Oklahoma actor who is overacting in the role of King Claudius. “I was about to exit stage left when we were attacked by a group of exceptionally angry, and dreadfully frightening, vegans. I was terribly distraught. Will you require a headshot for this?”

According to the Center City Police report, OVUM, “needed the community to understand that pigs are sentient beings and that any reference to ham or pork should carry with it a level of accountability.” The report continued to mention that OVUM will be charged $350 for repairs required to a theater backdrop and for rips sustained to Gertrude’s gown.

Vegans abstain from consuming or using any products derived from animals and “… have been known for creating a ruckus around these parts and shoving their ridiculous beliefs down the throats of the ‘Merican general public,” Officer Wainright added during the county’s weekly press conference. “It’s as if they think animals aren’t food.”

An online statement from OVUM also claimed responsibility for recent attacks on area BBQ restaurants and for a recent string of prank calls to Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon.

Go vegan.

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Ivy League Vegan Conference: @Cornell University

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For the past three years the Ivy League Vegan Conference has moved from one Ivy League University to the next (Princeton … Yale … UPenn) and now, in the event’s fourth year, it’s landing in my backyard: Cornell University (Ithaca, New York).

This one-day event feature speakers, special vegan dining options (by our favorite Chef Tony), a vegan career fair, and tabling for vegan companies and organizations (like www.ThankTankCreative.com). In fact, ThankTank Creative is assisting with marketing the event as well as taking event photographs (these photos in this post are by ThankTank Creative).

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There are numerous reasons this event will be a huge success. Cornell Dining has been ranked very high for vegan offerings; Ithaca, NY, ranks very high for being “vegan friendly”; and this year’s keynote speaker is none other than T. Colin Campbell, leading plant-based nutrition scientist and co-author of The China Study.

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How do you top all this? How about a talk by vegan chef and cheese genius Miyoko Schinner (of Miyokos Kitchen). She is traveling from (warm and) beautiful Fairfax, California to talk about the changing times she has personally witnessed for vegan businesses since starting her first vegan business back in the 80’s.

Ever dreamed of starting your own vegan business? Miyoko Schinner shares an insider’s perspective on launching vegan companies, including her artisan vegan cheese company Miyoko’s Kitchen, and explores where they are headed and how they impact the world.

Other speakers include: Dr. Gary Wu, Master Chef James Corwell, Amber George, Vlad Chituc, Sherry Colb, and Michael Dorf (Sherry and Mike are close friends and professors at Cornell). This event is open to the public (costs less than $15 … which is amazing) and open to non-vegans and vegan-curious. Registration can be done online, here … hope to see you there!

Go Vegan.

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“We’re Vegan” by Anna Bean “… this season’s must read children’s book!”

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This past Christmas was the best. All three of my kids were very excited to see what Santa brought and both sides of the family got to spend time together. We had Christmas morning at our house (complete with two gluten-free, vegan quiches) and Christmas Day at my mom’s (complete with a bathtub full of my vegan gravy). What more could you want for the holidays?

Maybe a wonderful new vegan book for the kids (and, as it turns out, the grown ups, too). Santa delivered!

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We’re Vegan (2013) by Anna Bean (drawings by Andere Andrea Petrlink/Shutterstock) is the best children’s book I’ve read about veganism since Ruby Roth’s Vegan is Love. Bright, beautiful illustrations and the the perfect amount of prose to inform and entertain; touching on all the key points of being vegan.

I recently had an opportunity to talk with the author about her book and ask her what she wanted readers to get from it.

“I want readers to gain an understanding of what veganism is – that it is not merely a diet or a lifestyle, but a philosophy based on the values of compassion and justice, and seeks to end ALL animal use,” Anna said. “I want children (and adults too, of course) to understand that there is another way to live, without relying on the use and abuse of animals. I’ve tried to explain this in a way that a small child can understand.”

While I agree that the writing is perfect for small children, I really think the writing is also perfect for large adults. As an ethical vegan I am constantly asked the usual “why” and “how” questions and Anna’s book answers them in a very approachable and thoughtful way. This book is for everyone who ever wondered what it means to be vegan.

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Anna went on to say, “The book kind of just “arrived” in my head one day! I’ve been a vegan for over 30 years but have only just started writing children’s books. I will be releasing another one soon.”

IMG_1129“Ever since I was a small child I wanted to dedicate my life to helping animals, and eventually I worked out that rather than be a vet (my initial career choice) the best way I could help animals is to be vegan and to promote veganism. I am so grateful that now there are many others who share this view and are working together to end the use and abuse of animals by humans,” Anna concluded.

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You can purchase We’re Vegan here (it also has been translated and is available in a variety of languages). All proceeds from the sale go towards feeding rescued animals.

Go vegan.

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250,000 Year-Old-Man Unearthed: Confirmed Vegan

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[SHAWNEE, OK] Paleontologists at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural Sciences in Shawnee, Oklahoma, announced this week fascinating new findings into the diet and lifestyle of prehistoric man after discovery of a frozen 250,000 year-old human unearthed in Tura, Russia, an ancient village in the Siberian Plateau.

“As we melted away the ice to begin performing an autopsy on the body we were amazed at some of the accompanying findings,” said Dr. Warren Almond, Director of the Oklahoma Museum of Natural Sciences.

“There is no doubt from the data that early man was, in fact, vegan. From the surrounding evidence to the preserved food particles extracted from the specimen’s digestive tract. Paleo man was vegan.”

These findings are in alignment with many of the teachings of Dr. Milton Mills of Falls Church, Virginia. His research and area of expertise has long pointed at signs supporting an herbivorous caveman.

“From the teeth to the toes,” Dr. Almond added during a lunch interview. “As Dr. Mills has said for years, early man was herbivorous and now we can conclusively state ‘vegan.'”

According to the autopsy report, as the ice melted away several items were revealed or dropped out of the encasement, including: Oreo cookies, Daiya cheese, and a half-eaten package of Nestle Double Chocolate Thin Mints; a vegan item that made the PETA Accidentally Vegan Food List.

Other evidence leading to the groundbreaking conclusion was nearly 45kg of hummus, quinoa, and “All Hail Kale Salad” in the digestive tract.

“As if these findings weren’t enough, we noticed that the prehistoric man also wore vegan Birkenstock sandals, a Blood Tight Apparel t-shirt, and carried an iMac with a “coexist” sticker covering the Apple logo,” Dr. Almond concluded. “Case closed.”

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Go vegan. 

“Bite” of the Month- Miyoko’s Creamery Vegan Cheese Review!

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Originally posted on Veggies Don't Bite:

I was so excited a few weeks back when Miyoko’s Creamery sent me a pack of their new vegan cheeses to taste and review for the blog. I had been drooling over them for quite some time! I even own her book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, and there is so much in it I want to try. But to have it delivered to me, ready to go, is even better! All the cheeses are organic and dairy free with a nut base. I love that these are based on whole foods versus the additives of many vegan cheeses out there. Please note that other than receiving these cheeses to taste test, I was not compensated in any way to write this review. These are all my original thoughts on each cheese I tried and were not influenced in any way.

I was given 5 flavors to try: Classic Double Cream…

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VioLife Does it Again: Taking Vegan to a New Level

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Being a vegan blogger has its advantages. In addition to my perceived celebrity status, I’m fortunate enough to sometimes be showered with samples of vegan products from companies around the world. One of these companies is VioLife, a pioneer in vegan cheeses from Greece.

My love affair with VioLife goes back to a cloudless summer day in London, standing outside VeganX on my belated honeymoon. Gazing romantically at my beautiful new wife while we dreamily consumed an entire package of VioLife “original” and went back in for more.

VioLife was the first vegan cheese that tasted like cheese. It rolled like cheese, melted like cheese, and had all the same characteristics of a dairy cheese … without the dairy. In fact, VioLife is gluten-free, soy-free, lactose-free, palm-oil-free, non-GMO, and preservative-free.* They have raised the bar for vegan cheeses and that summer I knew I was forever in love (with both Jen and the cheese).

Unfortunately, VioLife isn’t (yet) available in North America.

However, being a vegan food blogger has its advantages. Since blogging about this first interaction with VioLife, I have formed a relationship with the company that provides me with the occasional sample and, in this most recent instance, an opportunity to actually taste test a new vegan cheese that has yet to be released.

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Vegan Parmesan Cheese. Vegan. Parmesan. Cheese.

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Let me say that again. Vegan. Parmesan. Cheese.

A hard, low moisture cheese that grates and shreds and adds that distinctive pungent taste and bouquet that only a Parmesan cheese can deliver. Delicious on pasta, on top of a salad, stirred into a risotto, blended into my vegan Alfredo sauce or simply take slivers and chunks of the hardest parts and simmer them in soup. Or you can take broken off slices, roast them and eat them as a snack. This cheese is that good.

When VioLife sets out to do something, they do it right (which is proven in every flavor of their trademark sliced cheeses). This brick Parmesan could be grated tableside at any Italian restaurant over a Caesar salad (which, interestingly, was invented by an Italian in Mexico) and no diner would know it’s non-dairy.

Parm_01VioLife tells me they plan to release this cheese “soon” (I couldn’t get them to commit to anything other than “soon”) and I know that it will follow the same success as their other products. They have, once again, set the bar very high for other vegan companies to follow.

For more information about VioLife, visit their website or “like” them on Facebook.

Go vegan.

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* you may want to scroll back up and read this again …

Dominos Pizza’s Death Toll: The Pizza Australians Die For

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lRecently a fellow vegan blogger shared a link with me about a program being piloted in Australia by food companies where the consumer develops the recipe and reaps the rewards in profits per unit sold. The more popular your creation, the more product sold, the more money you make. The link specifically referred to Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (Australia’s master franchise of Domino’s Pizza) and their Pizza Mogul Program. Where you “Create. Share. And Earn.” from your creativity. In theory, this is a wonderful idea. I’d love to develop a vegan taco pizza or a vegan mushroom “bacon” pizza or a vegan kale and white garlic pizza … or any other variety of delicious and nutritious pizzas using a nice thin crust and vegan cheese. But, of course, this isn’t the direction this promotion is headed in.

The number one selling pizza is (drum roll please): “Mega Meat Lovers.” What a surprise. How Australian. How American, actually.

This pizza is topped with a heart-stopping combination of rasher bacon, ground beef, seasoned chicken, smoked ham, pepperoni, pulled pork, Italian sausage, mozzarella, and barbecue sauce and, so far, has earned it’s Dr. Frankenstein creator $28,000 (US). Good for them. Right?

Wrong.

There are so many things wrong with this being promoted and perpetuated (yes, I know I am inadvertently promoting it now). Set aside the health issues, does anyone find out abou this pizza,, go online, order it, pay for it, eat it, and digest it … thinking about the carnage?

Let’s take a quick body count:

  • Rasher bacon = 1 pig
  • Ground beef = 1 cow
  • Smoked ham = 1 pig
  • Pepperoni = 1 pig
  • Pulled pork = 1 pig
  • Italian sausage = 1 pig
  • Mozzarella = 1 cow (min.)
  • Barbecue sauce = 0 animals

One pizza. Seven dead animals. Seven.

Seven innocent animals that are being tortured, raped, brutalized, abused, and murdered unnecessarily to create a pizza. A pizza? There is no reason. NO reason to ever eat animals. Unless you are an awful person.

Go vegan.

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In the interest of fairness, there is one pizza called the Jalapiña that includes pineapple and jalapeño. This, with some shredded VioLife pizza cheese? Yes, please.

 

Dangers of Soy: The Death Toll Rises

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[LAWTON, OK] In the ongoing debate on the negative health effects of soy as it relates to the lifespan of humans, another untimely death this week in Lawton, Oklahoma, directly links soybeans with the passing of a union worker, Shepard Pilgrim. “He was a hard worker for almost 25 years,” said a fellow employee at the Oklahoma Tofu Company (OTC) where Pilgrim was employed. “Sheppy will be missed.”

According to the report from the Lawton Police Deparment, Shepard Pilgrim was unloading crates of soybeans that had just been shipped from Iowa when the delivery truck’s parking brake system failed and rolled backward and pinned Pilgrim against the loading dock. “The slight decline made for a very slow and painful death for old Sheppy,” Sam Drimple, OTC District Manager stated in a phone interview. “For years the vegan community has been warned against the negative health risks of soy and I guess this proves the point. Soybeans can be deadly and can lead to a long, slow death,” he continued. “Poor Sheppy.”

Many proponents of the meat and dairy industry for years have been waging a powerful campaign against soy-based products since it is a natural source of protein, the macromolecules that some believe is better derived from animal flesh. Soy-based foods, and tofu products, are very popular with vegans and vegetarians and are a natural “meat replacer” in nearly ever meal.

“It’s as if these people prefer not to eat animals,” said Trevor Hambone, of the Farmers Against Soy and Kale (FASK). “I mean, animals are made for eating … not tofu. Don’t you think if tofu was meant to be eaten, it would be attached to bones and covered in fur or skin? I mean … I’ve never …”

Soybeans, or soy, have been gaining popularity in the United State and are used in tofu, soy milk and various dairy and meat substitutes. It is also used in fermented foods like miso, natto and tempeh, which are commonly consumed in some Asian countries and are offered at every Asian restaurant from New York to California. While soy is actually good for your health, over 90% of soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified and the crops are sprayed with the herbicide Roundup, which may be associated with adverse effects on health. So, when selecting soy, be sure to look for “non-GMO” and “organic” certifications.

Soy, it turns out, is also good for your heart. One study suggests that eating foods that contain isoflavones (like soy products) every day may help lower blood pressure and it is thought that the isoflavones work by encouraging your body to produce nitric oxide, which helps to dilate blood vessels and reduce the pressure created by blood against the vessel walls. Additionally, whole soy foods contain high levels of healthy protein and fiber. Fiber helps to reduce bad cholesterol, plus, soy is a much better source of protein for your heart than saturated-fat-rich animal-derived foods.

However, to one Oklahoma company, any amount of evidence indicating the safety of soy doesn’t seem to matter. “I don’t care what the health experts say,” continued Drimple. “Soybeans killed Sheppy.”

Go vegan.

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On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen, and Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post]Race-Consciousness, Food Justice, and Hip Hop Vegan Ethics

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Originally posted on The Sistah Vegan Project:

Source: http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&docid=-9_zPb5d46VUGM&tbnid=G8qMiGbA9qkGKM&ved=0CAgQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhiconsumption.com%2F2014%2F07%2Fthug-kitchen-eat-like-you-give-a-fck-cookbook%2F&ei=c9w2VO3vEImtyATn14CwCQ&psig=AFQjCNGGZ3fjt3fwfGc0sRr_SHGjzNqfWA&ust=1412967923374273 Source: http://cdn.hiconsumption.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Thug-Kitchen-Eat-Like-You-Give-a-Fck-Cookbook.jpg

“On Ferguson, Thug Kitchen, and Trayvon Martin: Intersections of [Post]Race-Consciousness, Food Justice, and Hip Hop Vegan Ethics” is the title of the talk I will be giving at Middlebury College in Middlebury Vermont, October 22, 2014 for their food justice oriented conference.

Here is a snippet from the talk I am writing for the event. And, as usual, I video record all of my lectures and post them onto the blog. This lecture will hopefully be a chapter or section in my book I am doing crowdfunding for. My book is tentatively called “G’s Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix).   Also, I’m hoping to add Bryant Terry (Afro Vegan author) and Kevin Tillman (founder of Vegan Hip Hop Movement) perspectives on Thug Kitchen and Ferguson Riots in the lecture as well as book. Tillman and other vegans of color have helped to…

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