2048 Cheers to Fran Costigan, author of More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts Naturally and instructor of Vegan Baking Boot Camp, for sweetening up Vegetarian Summerfest by preparing a customized version of “Chocolate Cake to Live For” that pleased approximately 300 guests at a wedding ceremony for J.C. and Rae, two educators who met at the annual conference.
The cake was made of organic, fairly traded ingredients, and was 100% gluten- and soy-free, so everyone could enjoy it. The three-layered confection had a whipped coconut milk filling and frosting. B ittersweet chocolate ganache was spread over the top to anchor a scene with animals as cake toppers, with a chiffonade of mint as grass.
That’s not all. Fran made a variety of desserts for Summerfest, including raw, gluten-free brownies, and held cooking demonstrations too. Fran thanked t he wonderful people at Theo Chocolate for donating chocolate for Summerfest. Wholesome Sweeteners donated sweeteners for Fran’s baking demonstration.
Fran Costigan , the Diva of Alternative Desserts, shows you how to be one yourself, with sample recipes and the whole cookbook available for purchase: www.francostigan.com. On Twitter? Find Fran at twitter.com/goodcakesfran.
Cheers to Amtrak for offering passengers the “Vegan Gardenburger” in its dining car. Yes, it’s a microwaved snack food: not exactly The Best of Vegan Cooking. Still, those of us taking the train to Summerfest didn’t have to worry about whether we’d find something to keep us filled; Amtrak had two vegan selections. You can send thanks to Amtrak, order ahead, or suggest more vegan offerings, by contacting: 1-800-USA-RAIL. An online form can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/9z7ze.
Cheers to acclaimed classical pianist Soyeon Lee for continuing to promote environmental awareness. The case to Lee’s latest compact disk, Re!nvented, is made entirely out of recycled snack bags—keeping them out of landfills. Compact disk cases are generally made of plastic cases that break easily and are difficult to recycle. To learn more about Soyeon Lee’s artistry and activism, please visit www.soyeonlee.com.
Cheers to Jozsef Vamosi, a Fairfax, Virginia resident who stopped along a stretch of the Fairfax County Parkway to protect the lives of eleven geese who were attempting to cross the busy road. Vamosi was able to peacefully stop traffic —allowing all 11 geese to cross the road unharmed. Vamosi’s courageous act potentially spared the lives of human and non-human animals. For his heroic act, Vamosi was given a ticket for jaywalking. Here at Friends of Animals, we applaud everyday acts of kindness toward animals. Vamosi, who’s a licensed general contractor, owns Woodini Enterprises, a business that specializes in bathroom and kitchen remodeling, custom homes, and building arts. If you reside in Virginia and have general contracting needs, please contact Woodini Enterprises at:
Mobile : 571-338-6866
Cheers to Bonney Brown, Executive Director of the Nevada Humane Society , for guiding Washoe County, Nevada to a save rate of 93% for dogs, 90% for cats — despite an intake rate more than twice the national average 1. Brown says “people are the heart and soul of any organization, so we set out to find a team of managers and staff members who are committed to the organization’s mission and goals, share our lifesaving values, and have a strong work ethic.” And over the past two years, the volunteer ranks increased from 30 to more than 1,300 area residents.
They converted retail store space for pet adoptions, and eliminated several traditional humane education projects in order to focus on getting the community immediately involved in saving lives. Brown adds, “All of us are subtly influenced by labels, so…the Intake Room became Admissions, Kennel Attendants became Animal Caregivers, and Office Assistants became Adoption Counselors. On the other side, we didn’t want to hide behind euphemisms and we never want to forget the gravity of ending an animal’s life, so we stopped using the word euthanasia and began calling it killing.”
Brown resolved to make the shelter a welcoming place. Volunteers walk dogs wearing “Adopt Me” vests throughout the shelter. The cats in a group room like to lounge on the countertops — at just the right height for people to play with or brush them. Holiday decorations, activities, and refreshments encourage visitors to spend a bit of extra time.
Low-cost and free spay/neuter services comprise a key part of any successful no-kill community plan and Brown actively promotes this, including free neutering for feral cats. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), Brown reports, “is very cost effective and immensely popular with the public…If such a program doesn’t exist in your community, one needs to be started. Once feral cats end up in a shelter, it is usually a death sentence for them. Yet a recent survey showed that 81% of the public would rather see cats live out their lives outdoors than be rounded up and killed.”
The Nevada Humane Society, located at 2825 Longley Lane, Suite B, Reno, NV 89502, will happy share their Animal Help Desk Handbook with other organizations that want to establish such a program for their community.
Jeers to Men’s Journal Magazine for their recent feature “Gourmet Blood Sports: How to Kill and Cook a Wild Boar.” Write to Men’s Journal magazine and let them know this is unacceptable.
E-mail: email@example.com or send to
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104-0298
Jeers to New York City’s Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for deciding, in June 2009, to round up and gas at least 2,000 resident Canada Geese during their molting season while they are unable to fly, in parks and areas surrounding New York City airports — all at the expense of taxpayers. This action was portrayed as a way to make air travel safer. But non-lethal methods such as sound devices are the best assurances to that geese will not be attracted to areas where they can pose a hazard to aircraft engines; moreover, short of killing every bird who flies, there is no way to be absolutely sure a bird will never be ingested into an engine.
Contact Mayor Bloomberg, and denounce this violent policy, through:
City Hall, New York, NY 10007
Telephone: 212-NEW-YORK (or simply dial 311 from inside the City).
Jeers to Australian fashion designer Alannah Hill , who inexplicably claimed that rabbit fur isn’t really fur: “I don't use fur,” claims Hill. “I've used rabbit on collars and a tiny bit on some cuffs, but to me that's not using fur.” 2
Fur trim and fur collars are made from the hides of animals; it’s not a question of how much. Animals should not be a fashion accessory.
61 Church Street , Abbotsford Victoria 3067, Australia
In the summer of 2007, I read an article about thousands of activists in Rome mobilizing against the carriage horse trade. A carriage horse had recently died in traffic, and people took to the streets to convince tourists not to take a ride.
Wanting to find out more and to see if their outreach methods could be helpful to our campaign in New York City, I reached out to some activists I knew in Rome. Out of that discussion and many more that followed, Horses Without Carriages International was born — a global coalition that shares the goal of exposing the injustice and inhumanity in the horse-drawn carriage industry.
Our New York-based Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages began in January 2006 as a direct response to the death of Spotty, a five-year-old horse who was on the trip back to the stables on a wet and cold night. About halfway there, something startled Spotty. Horses are prey animals, quick to bolt from a perceived danger. In the moment of panic, Spotty ran into the street, throwing his driver to the ground before crashing — the carriage still attached to his back — head-on into a station wagon. The grisly image of the horse’s body draped over the car, head on the ground, flashed on screens around the world.
The carriage industry in NYC was politically connected and couldn’t be touched, everyone said. While it was hard enough to get regulations for better conditions, the thinking went, it would be impossible to get the industry banned. Still, ending this is the right thing to do. The time has come. As committed grass-roots activists, our challenge is to educate the media, politicians and the public about this tragic and frivolous industry, and through constant exposure on the street, the issue is definitely on the political radar screen.
The horse-drawn vehicle industry exists in many cities to cart tourists around (in Baltimore, it’s fruit), amidst buses, cars, taxis, emergency vehicles, motorcycles and trams. The carriages constitute a serious danger to people as well as horses, impeding the flow of traffic and getting in the way of fire trucks and ambulances. Every now and again a horse gets seriously injured or killed. In New York City, at least six people have been hospitalized and three horses have died in horse carriage incidents since 2006.
A horse should not be forced to work between the shafts of a carriage with a metal bit in his mouth, a diaper tied to his rear, blinders blocking his view, ear plugs and sometimes a muzzle — all so that tourists can take a 30-minute ride. Borrowing from the phrase on Friends of Animals’ web site, we advocate for the right of horses to live free according to their own terms. For carriages horses, who are already dependent on us, the closest we can come to this is a respectful sanctuary.
The idea of forming a coalition and standing in solidarity with like-minded activists from other cities is finding great public appeal. We all face politically entrenched industries and drivers claiming to love their horses. We can share campaign philosophies and materials. We have become known as a force to be reckoned with — and to learn from.
Horses Without Carriages International announced specific days on which advocates stand in solidarity with each other. Activists offer vigils and protests, information tables and petitions. December 6, 2007 was the first day of protest, at the peak of the annual holiday shopping season. Our most recent global day, the 6 th of June, was chosen because it is at the beginning of the hot summer tourist season. Other vigils and performances in streets happen according to when various groups of activists plan them.
In addition to the group in New York City, members of the coalition include organizations in Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth and St. Augustine, along with Victoria, Montreal, Dublin, Rome, Florence, Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Belgrade and Tel Aviv. The latter two cities are trying to end the practice of using cart horses.
Our website, www.horseswithoutcarriages.org, lists the participating cities. Click them to see photos of the events. Our next international day will be in December 5, 2009.
The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages works with Friends of Animals in New York City, and FoA also has an active campaign in Philadelphia and Victoria, British Columbia.
If you would like to be part of this coalition, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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LETTER 1 – Enthusiasm in Fast-Forward
Your name is truly accurate! I am writing to thank you for your wonderful magazine, full of information about important animal issues. As soon as it arrives each quarter, I find time to send out the timely e-mails, phone calls and snail mails requested. It is a privilege to support your tireless efforts for the animals.
Christine A. Dorchak, Esq. President
LETTER 2 – Alaska Needs More Than an Image Makeover
In a diatribe against Sarah Palin (Summer 2009), the writer author says “…Alaskans who truly do care about 'our animals' are discouraged, weary, and spread thin . My own, limited experience with Alaska is that compassion for wildlife is most definitely spread thin among the general population.
For nearly twenty years, I have been a resident of a small township with huge academic prestige, but absolutely no tolerance for wildlife. Politically speaking, this town lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from the State of Alaska, but this fact means very little indeed for the animal world. While the former mayor of this township instituted an intensive campaign of violence and cruelty against wildlife for more than an entire decade, she could have never accomplished her despicable goals without the overwhelming support of the folks who continued to re-elect her until she resigned this year. Neither the State of Alaska nor the Township of Princeton, New Jersey are Iran. The policies of those who govern both of these jurisdictions clearly represent the will of the majority. Do we believe that Alaska will instantly become kinder and gentler now that Sarah Palin is leaving office? Don't bet on it.
Princeton Twp., NJ
LETTER 3 – Apt Critique
Marybeth Holleman is to be commended for her most excellent, well written article, Sarah Palin's Reign of Terror on Alaska's Wildlife.
If Sarah Palin isn't stopped, there won't be any wildlife left for her grandchildren to slaughter. Palin's time would be better spent rearing her children.
Before Caucasians arrived in Alaska, millions of Native Americans lived in harmony with nature and co-existed with all God's creatures.
Anita C. Ferguson
Sylvania , GA
Lydia Huston is a personal chef who, in 2005, opened Dharma’s Kitchen, a fully vegan catering company based in Birmingham (greater Detroit), Michigan. Lydia is one of those people whose generous and warm personality is positively addictive—much like the food she lovingly prepares. Lydia offers private instruction, creates weekly meal plans and caters to private parties, with an emphasis on healthful, delicious cuisine, suited to the individual. Lydia and I got the opportunity to meet up at the North American Vegetarian Society’s annual Summerfest in July 2009, and I decided to interview her so our readers could share the pleasure.
When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
I didn’t really decide to become a chef until I was already doing it. I was always preparing vegan meals and desserts for family and friends, and someone suggested that I pursue it as a career.
Have you received formal training or are you self-taught?
My skills are almost entirely self-taught, although I have attended various classes and workshops over the years. My goal was never to open a restaurant or write a cookbook. I only wanted to spread the word about a plant-based diet. And what could be more compelling than a delicious home-cooked meal?
What has inspired your love of food? And what (or who) influences your cooking?
My mother and her sensational southern cooking have largely inspired my love of food but my major influences came later when I went vegan and discovered the wealth of recipes that were out there. Jo Stepaniak, Brianna Clark Grogan and Brenda Davis are heroes to me.
You’ve been preparing and enjoying plant-based cuisine for three decades. What inspired that commitment?
It was a love for animals that prompted me to become vegetarian. When I discovered the truth about the dairy industry and the horrors of egg production, the transition to veganism was seamless.
Do you cater mainly to the vegan community, or to a wide variety of folks? What is your main style of cooking?
Most of my clients are not vegetarians, but people who would like to enjoy a healthy, plant-based meal once or twice a week. Others have health challenges which have caused them to consider a vegan diet as a road to better health. At present, I have no vegan clients other than those who’ve hired me for special events.
Desserts are my specialty but I love to prepare just about anything. Raw foods are my latest passion. At home, my menu is so simple that no one would believe I do this for a living.
Is there a particular type of dietary philosophy you follow?
Although I believe that the whole world should be vegan, I don’t believe in limiting one’s choices within this framework to such an extent that eating becomes a joyless experience. Each of us was born with predispositions to certain health issues, and we should educate ourselves enough to find the plant-based diet that is right for us as individuals.
Do you work with clients who, say, have food allergies—like Celiac disease or soy intolerance? What do you say to people who think they can’t eat an exclusively plant-based diet due to various sensitivities and allergies?
I have worked successfully with clients who have food allergies. I’ll admit it makes life more challenging; yet a plant-based diet devoid of certain allergens is far healthier than the average diet with the same foods removed.
What’s it like living as a vegan, and running a vegan business, in a somewhat rural community?
At times, I feel like a benevolent alien that was dropped in the middle of nowhere to save earthlings from themselves. Most of the time, though, I feel extremely privileged to be able to bring the message of compassion for all into the homes of others. Preparing food for others is a powerful form of advocacy and it keeps me from having to proselytize because the food inevitably speaks for itself.
You mentioned, when we first met, that you use Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine (Friends of Animals’ Nectar Bat Press, 2005) in your business.
Yes. My favorite recipes are for the Classic Hungarian Sauerkraut and Noodles (page 71), and the Coconut Layer Cake (page 121). I cannot tell you how many times clients have requested these two items for meals and parties. They are show-stoppers.
Any plans for writing a cookbook of your own?
Positively not! I am proud to say that I have a very impressive library of vegetarian cookbooks and I rely on them to an immense degree. I humbly defer to the icons of vegan cuisine. Without them I would not be doing what I’m doing.
Well, then, what are your future plans?
To attend film school. My ultimate goal is have the first and only vegan lifestyle show on network television. I know that this is a lofty goal but I feel that the time is right for this kind of project, don’t you?
Lydia can be contacted at email@example.com, or phone Dustin at 202-393-8450 to get in touch.