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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Essays

Kathleen Keating Schloessinger, RN, MA recently retired to Vancouver Island, BC after 35 years of practice as a psychotherapist. Now her passion is spreading the word about the benefits of vegetarian diet with the book she is currently creating, Solution Soup and The Adventures of The Souper Heroes: Recipes for Food and Living (http://www.coachingwisdom.com)

Kathleen is also the author of The Hug Therapy Book, a playful parody on therapy with a serious message about the importance of compassionate, healing touch. Although the book was inspired by her children, Matthew and Ann, it was written for adults as well as children. (http://www.ByKathleenKeating.com)

When she is not writing, Kathleen delights in hiking the forests of British Columbia with her husband Fred and their dogs, Angel and Sparkle.

Solution Soup
The Adventures of The Souper Heroes:
Recipes for Food & Living

by Kathleen Keating

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who continue to be at risk from the war in Iraq. It is in these times that we are reminded of our deepest values, such as creating compassionate communities and working together to protect our environment. More than ever, a positive contribution to the well being of all people is so important.

Of course, the consequences of the war will be front page news for some time to come, so stories about protecting the environment, ongoing strategies for ending world hunger (even more important as resources are destroyed by war), and ending factory farm animal abuse, may not make the news. Yet these important issues do not take a "war recess" and our work must not be put on hold. Experience has taught us that the role of working for the good of our community and environment is never more important than when the country's attention is focused elsewhere.

In that regard, I continue to work on my own small contribution for the sustainable future we are all praying for....My book, Solution Soup and The Adventures of The Souper Heroes has expanded in a new direction. My original idea was simply to have a vegetarian recipe book with a few creative ideas for motivation for good health habits as a fund raiser for the Prader-Willi Association http://www.pwcf.org and http://www.pwsausa.org . However, the more I worked on the book, the more natural it became to include my support for Earthsave/John Robbins and The Small Planet Fund /Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe .

This then led to the Souper Hero idea, and to use vegan soup recipes donated by vegetarians who are Souper Heroes for supporting their favorite social, environmental or political organization. (The book still includes motivational tips for increasing the well being of mind, body, and spirit.) I still need vegetarians who want to be represented in the book as a Souper Hero for their special organization. Please donate your vegan soup recipe and information about your organization.

Kathleen Keating See the new Souper Heroes on my revised website and check out "About Ann & PWS." Our daughter Ann,whose need for a diet of the types of foods that help her feel satisfied, was my inspiration to learn about healthy eating. In working with her diet over the years I discovered that a plant based diet was the healthiest nutritionally and best for helping Ann achieve a feeling of fullness on the limited amount of calories she is allowed to have.

However, I continually wondered why the nutritional information I was discovering in my research was not more widely known. Then I read Food Politics by Marion Nestle, Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at New York University. Dr. Nestle shows how the people the public turns to for unbiased information are no longer in a position to provide it. It is a well-documented analysis of how the self-interests of the food industry influence and compromises nutrition policy and government regulations.

Still, despite the evidence, for some time I thought that sticking to a plant based diet would be too great a sacrifice. I read John Robbins' first book, Diet For a New America and Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet several years ago, and learned enough then to convince me that eating beef was not healthy for me or the planet. Most important, I learned ..."There can be no question that hunger can be alleviated with a given quantity of grain by completely eliminating animals.... It is not efficient to feed grain to animals and then to consume the livestock products." ~ Dr. M.E. Ensiminger, former Chairman of the Department of Animal Science, Washington State University

Although I already knew a plant based diet would be best for my health and significantly reduce my chances of heart disease and cancer, I could not give up eating meat entirely. At that time, I rationalized that I didn't eat that much chicken, much less beef or pork. I rationalized, because not eating any meat at all felt like too big a sacrifice.

I put the book back on the shelf, and out of my mind. After all, I had also learned that although 60 million people worldwide will die of starvation a year, that many people could be adequately fed with the grain saved if Americans reduced meat intake by only 10%. I was certainly doing my part.

Then I recently read John Robbins new book, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and The World. I learned that we would save massive amounts of water - 3000 to 5000 gallons of water for every pound of beef we did not eat. We are depleting our underground aquifers faster than we are replenishing them. The largest one, the Ogallala, which covers a vast part of the United States from the mid-west to the mountain states, is being depleted by 13 trillion gallons a year. It is going to run out. There is not enough rainfall to replenish our aquifers.

I found out that 65% of California's population is threatened by pollution in drinking water just from dairy cow manure. But it isn't just cows that produce this waste manure. Factory raised hogs in North Carolina produce 4 times the waste that the 6.5 million people of that state do.

I was reminded of the unspeakable cruelty toward farm animals. For example, chickens are so stressed by being inhumanely crowded in battery cages that they fight among each other, which results in self-mutilation. To reduce the effects of these behaviors, factory farmers sear the beaks off of all laying hens shortly after birth, a painful procedure performed without anesthesia. In addition, only female chicks are of use to the egg industry, so every male chick born to a laying hen is killed on his day of birth, either ground alive or thrown into garbage bags while still living, only to suffocate under the weight of other male chicks. There are similar horror stories about the cruelty in raising and slaughter of other factory farm animals.

I realized that the first time I read John Robbins' and Frances Moore Lappe's work, I was not really letting the truth touch my heart much less sink into my rational mind.

Now my thinking has shifted in this way... If refusing to eat meat will be of significant help in ending world hunger .... What sacrifice am I really making when I have an abundance of delicious plant foods to eat? I do not have to starve myself in order that others may have enough to eat. In fact, I can eat all I want and even live a healthier, longer life.

If refusing to eat meat will heal a major cause of much of the serious pollution of our earth, conserve our rapidly dwindling water supplies, save the rain forest, and end the abuse of factory farm animals ... what sacrifice am I really making when I have an abundance of delicious plant foods to eat? My grocery store offers heaping bins of fresh fruits and vegetables. The shelves are full of every type of grain, bean, and pasta I could want. I can choose from spices and seasonings from around the world. The refrigerator cases are overflowing with tasty tofu products and delicious meat substitutes. So when I made a choice to be a vegetarian, I discovered that, in this day and age, it is not a sacrifice.

As environmental, social and political activists, it is easy to be outspoken and demand that politicians and corporate leaders take action to create a better world. Yet there is one simple thing we can each personally do, that will be a profound gift of compassion for the human beings world wide who are starving, for the factory farm animals who are suffering abuse, as well as a gift of healing for ourselves and for the environment: we can refuse to eat factory farmed meat and meat products.

The Union of Concerned Scientists say that one of the most important things that people can do which will most help the environment is to not eat beef. If this is not a step you have taken, I hope you will consider their recommendation. You might also consider making one or two days a week meatless. Try a 'meatless Monday.' If you haven't sampled some of the new tofu products or meat substitutes you will be surprised at how tasty they are .... Check out http://www.vegsource.com and http://www.vegparadise.com for more ideas.

Join the Humane Society and support legislation to end cruelty to farm animals. http://www.hsus.org (USA) and http://www.humanesociety.com (Canada)

Begin where you can and do what you are able .... and for encouragement join EarthSave, an organization that believes we can have a dramatic effect. http://www.earthsave.org (International) or http://www.earthsave.bc.ca (Canada)

Please read The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life And The World by John Robbins and Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe -which takes off from Diet for a Small Planet.

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." ~ Albert Einstein

Be a brave cook!

Thank you for your consideration ....

Click here for past Words from Other Birds Articles

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