Spring 2008

    Issue: Spring 2008

    Table of Contents

    • Lee Hall Speaks Out on Climate Disruption and the Animal Advocate’s Leadership Role

      At this year’s vegetarian Summerfest, Friends of Animals legal director Lee Hall will present a plenary talk on vegetarians as the perfect leaders in an era of climate disruption.

      Meat and dairy consumption is on the rise worldwide. Our governments ensure that we all subsidize animal agribusiness; universities teach animal husbandry; and in school lunch hours, young students choose between a salami sandwich, turkey salad, or pepperoni bagel bites. What’s an activist to do?

      Lee’s talk will explore the question, and the urgency of finding answers.

      Secrets for Success Every Vegetarian Advocate Should Know

      Assisted by Lee, Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral will present a lively workshop to share the best of experience gained by 30 years of experience! Lee and Priscilla will discuss fundraising, time management, and public outreach. As an exciting extra in the workshop, Priscilla and Lee will be joined by Dave Lajeunesse and Jan Lajeunesse, who will relate their experiences starting the New York Capital Region’s annual Vegetarian Expo with the support of several speakers known from Summerfest. This workshop promises to be instructive and empowering.

      Keep Up to Date

      Watch the Summerfest website for all dates, times, and other updates, or give us a call at 203-656-1522 (ask for Nancy Rice).  Also see the ad for Summerfest on the next page.

    • NEW!

      Show Your Advocacy for Animals and Our Planet With Our Handsome Reusable Bags

      Next time a cashier asks whether you want paper or plastic, consider giving the environmentally aware answer: Neither, thank you.

      As our marine animal rescue specialist Peter Wallerstein says, plastic bags end up in waterways and kill thousands of marine mammals every year, because they mistake the floating bags for food.

      Plastic bags in landfills slowly break down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate soil and water and are ingested by animals. Worldwide, more than a million plastic bags are discarded per minute! 

      Even paper bags have their own set of environmental problems. Trees are used to make them, and their stacked weight translates into a lot of fuel in shipping.

      And disposable shopping bags are not free. We all pay for them, because they cost retailers about $4 billion annually.

      We’re now offering an alternative. Our quality reusable shopping bags are easy on the planet and the eye. Getting your reusable bag here will help support our rescue, rehabilitation, and advocacy work.

       

       

       

       

       

    • It was an unprecedented moment in the history of animal rights in New York City. On Tuesday, Dec. 11, legislation was introduced at the city council to ban horse-drawn vehicles. Queens Council Member Tony Avella introduced the bill (Intro 658) in the wake of yet another horse dying on the job and a scathing city audit of horse-drawn carriage industry. As we go to press, the bill still has to pass the 51-member council.

      Some had sought merely to mitigate the poor treatment of the horses and dangers they face in one of the busiest sections of one of the busiest cities in the world. “Horses are not provided with enough water, risk overheating on hot asphalt and are forced to stand in their own waste,” The New York Times reported on the audit.1

      The New York Horse and Carriage Association then belatedly asked the city to provide hitching posts, water spigots, and improved drainage for the horses’ waste.2 One has to wonder, however, if the association members love their horses as much as they claim, why it took a city audit for them to make these proposals.

      Then, after years of campaigning, Friends of Animals and an allied coalition achieved what many thought impossible—convincing the city government to consider an outright ban. “I am thrilled that Council Member Tony Avella is introducing legislation that will finally end this exploitative industry in the City of New York,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “It’s long overdue.”

      It was truly a shot heard around the world. Articles about the bill appeared in the Washington Post, the LondonTelegraph, the Epoch Times in Ireland, and the New Zealand Herald.

      As FoA Campaign Coordinator Edita Birnkrant said at Avella’s press conference before some one hundred supporters of the bill: “The world watches New York City. By ending a disrespectful tradition we pave a path for new and enlightened traditions and ideas, and we also serve as an example to many others…. Today we are here to say that animals matter, and that the world is listening.”

      “By declaring that there is no place in New York City for horse-drawn carriages,” she said, “we also telling the rest of the world that horse-drawn carriages need to be retired—everywhere.”

      Horse-drawn vehicles have been outlawed in London, Paris, Toronto, and Beijing as well as in several smaller cities in the United States. But New York City has clung to the tradition, which dates back to at least 1935, even as it has the highest carriage-horse accident rate in the country.3

      The New York Horse and Carriage Association is fighting back with recommendations for husbandry improvements, mentioned above, and safety. Because Smoothie, the last carriage horse to die in an accident, on Sept. 14, was supposedly spooked by a nearby musician, the association has called for a ban on live or amplified music near the horses’ staging area on Central Park South.4

      But in the 24-hour buzz of New York City, it is ludicrous to suggest banning music will improve safety. The horses are driven through heavy traffic — cars, cabs, buses, and trucks — amid the sounds of the city: blaring car horns, screeching brakes, construction jackhammers, and the shouts of peddlers. And carriage horses don’t just take tourists through Central Park but down to Times Square as well, and they have to go many city blocks back and forth to their stables on the city’s West Side.

      The horse-drawn vehicle industry is monitored by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the horses’ health certificates, and the Department of Consumer Affairs, which regulates licensing of drivers, horses, carriages and stables. Additionally, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals inspects the health of carriage horses on a voluntary basis.5

      “The agencies entrusted with oversight here have dropped the ball,” said City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., who commissioned the audit.6 FoA has long called for an outright ban, not only because more regulations and “improvements” or “fixes” won’t help, but because the exploitation of horses is wrong.

      Claims that the carriage-horse industry can police itself were belied by the recent arrest of the owner of Central Park Carriage Stables for attempting to bribe an undercover investigator to overlook violations at his stable. The owner, Cornelius Byrne, was charged with paying the investigator, who was posing as a consumer affairs inspector, $100 to ignore multiple violations at his stable.8

      And a sure sign that reform is not a credible solution came when one of the monitoring entities, the ASPCA, announced that it would support the ban on horse-drawn carriages.9

      But although FoA and its animal rights allies have won a major battle, winning the hearts and minds of the city council will not be easy. Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposes the ban.10

      FoA is mounting a letter-writing campaign to urge the mayor and the council to support Tony Avella’s bill to ban horse-drawn vehicles (Intro 658). To contact the mayor, write to the Office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Hall, New York, NY 10007. To call Bloomberg, dial 212-788-3000 (ask for comment line). To find the name and contact information for your city council member, go to http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml. If you have questions or would like to volunteer in FoA’s campaign to ban horse-drawn vehicles, call 212-247-8120.

      • 1. Glenn Collins, “ Audit Faults City on Care of Carriage Horses” — The New York Times (6 Sept. 2007).
      • 2. Carriage Horse Drivers Want Changes After Crash,” CBS/AP (16 Sep. 2007).
      • 3. Jessica Bennett, “Should Carriage Horses Be Banned?” — Newsweek web exclusive (27 Sept. 2007).
      • 4. Ibid.
      • 5. The audit did not comment on the work of the ASPCA because it is not formally contracted to work for the city.
      • 6. Glenn Collins, “ Audit Faults City on Care of Carriage Horses” (note 1 above).
      • 7. Kathleen Lucadamo, “Stables Owner Saddled in Bribe Rap” — New YorkDaily News (14 Dec. 2007).
      • 8. David Seifman, “Unbridled ‘Bribery’” — New York Post (14 Dec. 2007).
      • 9. ASPCA press release, “ ASPCA Supports Proposed New Bill to Ban Carriage Horses from New York City” (8 Dec. 2007).
      • 10. Sara Kugler, “NYC to Consider Horse-Drawn Carriage Ban” — Associated Press (8 Dec. 2007).
    • LETTER 1 – A Word From the Wise

      I saw the Cheers & Jeers column (Winter 2007-2008), of President George Bush attempting to increase hunting.

      I think Friends of Animals should alert the media if you didn’t already. People should know what their leader is doing. I don’t think you want to take advice from a 9-year-old but try it.

      I’m going to try and write the president.

      Monika A. Taskou
      St. Petersburg, FL

      LETTER 2 – Post Card From Red Lodge

      Thank you for the galvanizing and deeply inspiring conversation.

      Your tireless work is recognized and of great value – I am at your service.

      Please call me to contribute time and energy to the wolf project.

      Remember, you and your associates are welcome in the Red Lodge anytime.

      Catherine de Lorimier
      Red Lodge, MT

      LETTER 3

      Mr. Winograd (Winter 2007-2008, ActionLine) is a dreamer when he believes all shelters can become “no-kill.” The reality is that no-kill shelters in our area are filled to the rafters and are turning pet owners away.

      What does Mr. Winograd think happens to the pets that are not accepted? The majority are dumped on the streets to live a life of fear and starvation, and often a slow and agonizing death. I would say euthanasia is a better alternative.

      Neutering is the one and only answer to overpopulation. There are cut-rate spay and neuter organizations, but they too are charging higher and higher fees because there are fewer and fewer veterinarians willing to incorporate these animals into a busy practice schedule.

      Unfortunately, many shelters with limited space and funds must make decisions about old and sick animals. Do they spend much money on these poor ones or do they use the funds on young, adoptable animals?

      There are no easy solutions and sadly our great animal-loving society that pampers its pets is also a throw-away society when the novelty wears off.

      Eleanor Brembs
      Eastchester, NY

    • Smile and Say “Un-Cheese!”

      How many times have you heard the declaration, “But I could never give up cheese!” Perhaps, once upon a time, you said it yourself. Or maybe you still do.

      Every vegan has gone through the disappointing phase of trying the various vegan cheeses at the supermarket—most of which, let’s face it, taste like a combination of crayon and sponge. To be fair, these days, those who don’t mind paying the exorbitant shipping costs can purchase imported vegan cheeses that taste convincingly delicious—Lee, our legal director, always points to Redwood’s Cheezly as a fine example. Leave it to England —the cradle of veganism—to invent it. But there’s a much less expensive, and arguably more impressive solution: Make it yourself. That’s where Jo Stepaniak comes in. If you’re a lover of all things cheesy, you must own Stepaniak’s Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.

      There’s a special place in my heart for Jo Stepaniak’s cookbooks. When I first became vegan, the only vegan cookbook I found at my local bookstore was Stepaniak’s Vegan Vittles—an unassuming collection of “down home” (read: Southern) recipes that have delighted and satisfied for the past nine years and counting. My second cookbook was The Uncheese Cookbook, and although I long ago fell out of love with the idea of cheese, this cookbook remains a steadfast friend. In 2003, Stepaniak released the 10 th Anniversary Edition—with a few more recipes and updated information.

      I have lived my whole life in the South. To say I have eaten a lot of macaroni and cheese in my lifetime is overtly redundant. Jo Stepaniak knows the intricacies of Southern cuisine, obviously, because The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook contains the recipes for both “Traditional Macaroni and Cheez” as well as “Baked Macaroni and Cheez.” I am partial to the baked version, as my mother refused to let me eat things that came from boxes when I was growing up. But rest assured: While the distinctive flavors and textures of childhood are there, Stepaniak takes us to a whole new, nuanced level. A pinch of cayenne pepper in the traditional version that gives the dish a slight, fiery zest; the baked version has white wine and cashew butter, and while their complimentary nature might not be immediately apparent, go ahead, taste the final product. It’ll knock your fair-trade organic cotton socks off.

      One of my favorite fast and easy recipes, the “Gee Whiz Spread,” is a mock-up of a popular grocery product that’s completely unfit for human consumption. Stepaniak’s rendition possesses magical qualities that inspire one to smear it on anything edible. You can spread “Gee Whiz” on vegan burgers, use it as a dip for French fries (highly recommended), or slather it between two slices of toasted bread; add some tomato and spinach and you’re eating gourmet. You won’t believe that it only has one gram of fat per serving and contains lots of protein and calcium (all of the recipes have the nutritional information included—and it’s never scary, unlike the kind of cheese that subjugates cows and other animals). And you don’t have to pretend that “Gee Whiz” is a surrogate for “Gooey Grilled Cheez”—because there’s a recipe for that, too.

      Of course my family had a fondue set that we used three times in the 70s; then it spent the rest of its life stuck behind the crockpot we never used either. The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook contains nine different fondue recipes—from “Swiss” and “Classic” all the way to a “Pizza Fondue.” Or try the “South of the Border” recipe. With basil, paprika, and peppery overtones, it’s outstanding and easy to make. There’s something fun about fondue: you and your friends or family sitting around a table taking turns dipping vegetables and breads into a pot of cheez. Fondue knows how to liven up a late-night game of Scrabble.

      I am over the moon for frittata, and Stepaniak’s recipe finds the perfect balance of custardy creaminess balanced with savory potatoes, onions and peppers. I like frittata for a light dinner-for-breakfast theme, served with toast and jam, but really this frittata is perfect any time. Frittata is a great way to impress unbelievers, too (“What!? This is vegan!?,” they’ll say).

      To Brie or Not to Brie

      There’s a segment of the cookbook I’ve never tried, but I am exceedingly curious: a whole section devoted to making “Block Uncheez” such as vegan brie, Swiss, “Gooda,” Colby, “Buffalo Mostarella,” and several others. I am curious, but not sure what I would do with the final product; I don’t see myself as an Uncheese and crackers kind of person. The finished Mostarella reportedly melts, and can be used as a pizza topping. (I almost can’t imagine a vegan meltable cheese this side of the Atlantic, after all the money I have spent on cheese’s that refuses to melt even after I have had the foresight to put my oven on self-clean mode, so that it gets hot enough to bake pottery.)

      Stepaniak offers recipes for quiches, pizzas, nacho cheez dips and desserts—like “Lemon Teasecake,” “Peanut Butter Fudge Pie” and “Easy Cheezy Danish.” There’s a lifetime’s worth of temptation contained on these pages.

      The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook contains the home chef’s trifecta: clear instructions, easy-to-find ingredients, and delicious results. There’s an index, and, additionally, an allergen-free index with recipes listed according to their suitability for food allergy sufferers. Indeed, this cookbook is filled with many useful details: recommendations for variations on the recipe, suggestions for how to serve the particular recipe—what kind of vegetable is best for dipping into which fondue, for instance— and an informative introduction by vegan nutritionist Vesanto Melina. Stepaniak has a keen eye for precision.

      I have skirted around the million dollar question: Do the recipes taste exactly like “the real thing”? The short answer is yes and no—and that’s the highest compliment I can offer. I am convinced that much of what we love and remember about dairy cheese has so much to do with tradition, comfort, the memories a certain meal evokes. Many, if not most, of the recipes have improved so much upon their dairy counterparts so as to shame them—nutritionally, ethically, flavor- and texture-wise.

      When it’s vegan, scrumptious and found on the pages of Joanne Stepaniak’s timeless masterpiece, you can’t go wrong. This is the kind of comfort food that makes you glad to be alive.

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