Winter 2015

    Issue: Winter 2015

    Table of Contents



      Cheers to Serena Williams for winning her 18th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open Sunday and for showing that vegans can be successful, stellar athletes. Serena decided to switch to a raw vegan diet to support her sister, Venus, who shifted away from animal products in 2012 after being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune illness that causes muscular pain and fatigue.  The sisters, who live together, enlisted the help of vegan and raw culinary expert Lauren Von Der Pool, who is also a chef on Michelle Obama’s obesity prevention campaign, to help plan and create raw vegan meals that help keep Venus and Serena on their game and feeling their best. 


      We have a cheer today for two U.S. Senators who are speaking up about the fact that American airports are still choosing to keep their runways clear by shooting birds out of the sky instead of adopting available technology that is shown to prevent bird strikes. Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY) are pressing the FAA to adopt avian radar which is already being successfully used by NASA, the military, and other countries around the world, as a way to humanely and safely prevent bird strikes at airports. This is an issue that Friends of Animals is very well aware of. We have been working hard to end the mass killings of wildlife at airports in New York and New Jersey and have capture and release systems implemented instead. Last year, we filed a suit against government wildlife agencies and the Port Authority  in response to the fatal shootings of three snowy white owls at JFK Airport after learning they were among the over 9,000 birds that were shot down at the city’s airports in 2012.  


      Jeers to NBC's despicable “Shark Hunters” show. The show idolizes trophy fishermen who compete to reel in the biggest shark for a $10,000 prize. Among the sharks being targeted is the common thresher, an extremely vulnerable species we are working to protect by recently petitioning the U.S. government to listed them under the ESA

      Jeers to another barbaric killing competition that is being planned this winter in Idaho. The group Idaho for Wildlife, a nonprofit whose aim is to “fight against all legal and legislative attempts by the animal rights and anti-gun organizations” to impose restrictions on hunting or guns, has asked the BLM to issue a 5-year special recreation permit which would allow an annual predator-hunt derby on public lands that would approximately double the amount of land as last year. While the BLM refused, the group will go ahead with the event on private land. 

    • At Peace with Faith

      In regard to a letter that appeared in your Fall 2014 Action Line titled, “Can Humans Redeem Themselves?” I have complete faith in the Bible. Humans have done a lot to ruin the earth, but God will step in to stop it at his time. May you find peace and comfort in God's word. 

      Eleanor Calicchia

      Canton, GA

      Coping with the loss of a pet

      I read the article from Dustin Rhodes about the loss of his pet Lulu. I send my deepest sympathies to Dustin and his partner. 

      I had to have my beloved cat Nichi put to sleep in July. I felt terrible, and still do. For a while I wondered, just how could I live without her? She was almost 18. I can still see her on my couch, and lying on my bed. I wish I could have been with her when my vet put her to sleep. Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow it. 

      Like many pet owners who have lost a pet, there are a couple of things that I wish I could have done, or wish that I could have done differently. 

      I hope that Dustin will read the lovely poem, “The Rainbow Bridge,” author unknown. It is a beautiful poem…touching and uplifting. 


      Ruth Andrews

      Wellesley, Mass. 


      Older animals need homes too

      This is a letter about dogs and cats. 

      As a person who has been doing low-cost spay/neuter for more than 30 years, I am amazed at how much emphasis is on massive adoptions and how little time, energy and money, comparatively speaking, is now spent on companion animal sterilization. If fewer animals breed, the need for adoptions would drop dramatically. Early eight-week spay-neuter is a must—as is early term abortion. 

      I am concerned about all the adopt-a-thons today, the listing of animals on the Internet and Craig’s List. Effective adoption involves intensive screening such as going to the adopter’s home, signing legally binding adoption contracts, and most importantly, physically checking up on the adopted animal with an unannounced visit. How many groups actually follow these steps when adopting out an animal?

      Only one in five companion animals finds a “forever home.” So many become snake food, dog fighting bait  (young and small dogs and cats) and victims of other cruelty, neglect, animal sacrifice, sadistic mutilation, not to mention subjected to painful experiments in research laboratories.

      All of us who care must start speaking up about the benefits of adopting big, older dogs, and older cats, who languish in shelter cages while people adopt almost always the cute puppies, kittens and designer dogs. I am heartily sick of the proliferation of the tiny dogs: mini-Chihuahuas, Maltipoos, etc. What about black dogs and cats people routinely shun?

      Until we change our operating methods, more animals will be born, placed in horrible homes and older dogs and cats will not find permanent adoption. 

      Barbara Bonsignore


      New Hampshire Spaying and Altering Service

      Concord, N.H.


      Please Call Attention to These Forms of Cruelty

      I never see any articles in Action Line about the abuse and suffering that rodeo livestock endure. These rodeo people make a huge profit off these bulls, calves, etc. It's awful to see.

      Also, you never mention these Southern-based reality shows on TV glorifying the mass slaughter of alligators. Again, it is simply awful to watch the brutal way they are killed and the enjoyment these Neanderthals derive from their actions.

      Casi Fisher 

      Warner Robbins, GA

    • By Nicole Rivard

      As a lifelong diver, photographer Yvonne Martin had always had a love affair with the earth’s oceans. So when she had an opportunity to go on an African safari, she doubted she would feel any extraordinary connection with the land centric experience. 

      However when you flip through her special edition book titled Southern Africa: Beyond the Concrete Jungle (it weighs 7 pounds), you realize she became smitten and swept off her feet by what she encountered. So much so that she hopes to inspire others to take a similar journey. But don’t worry; while she and her spouse started their safari by bungee jumping of the Victoria Falls Bridge, it’s not required! 

      Martin actually shot 4,000 plus photos during the month she spent traversing the African grasslands documenting wildlife in their natural environment, but she had to select less than 500 for the book. They represent her favorites and I can see why. Among the most striking photos are more familiar animals like the hippopotamus, leopard, lion and elephant. However Martin also pays homage with her photos to lesser known creatures like the Nile monitor, painted reed frog, oryx and several African bird species.

      While on the surface the book appears to be about photography and travel, it is much more than that. It provides insight into each animal, its habitat, its social habits, mating habits and status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN’s Red List, which gives anthropological evaluation of population levels related to extinction or endangerment. That’s because in addition to wanting to get people to travel to Africa, Martin wants to educate them about the harm that’s being done to animals by poaching and human construction.

      “It is my hope that the images of magnificent creatures inspire readers to fall in love with the different species and become involved in conservation efforts,” Martin said. “This was a labor of love and it added to so much meaning to my life.”

      Friends of Animals is all too familiar with the harm that has come to animals in Africa due to hunting. The last survivors of the endangered scimitar-horned oryx, a once plentiful species in Africa, were killed by hunters in 1987. But on Feb. 22, 1999, FoA facilitated the return of the scimitar-horned oryx to Senegal, marking the start of an historical project. Eight antelopes traveled from Israel and arrived in Senegal taking up residence in their ancestral home. Today, 246 oryxes thrive within two expansive, fenced, fully-protected reserves of almost 5,000 acres. 

      Headed for a similar fate as the scimitar-horned oryx is the African wild dog. The engaging section devoted to these “painted dogs” reveals they are considered among Africa’s most threatened larger mammals—fewer than 5,000 survive. They are typically killed by farmers who consider them a nuisance because they prey on small livestock, Martin writes. Interestingly, puppies are born blind and helpless in underground burrows abandoned by warthogs. They spend their first three months of life in the den and begin eating meat when they are one month old. But instead of bringing pieces of meat back from a kill, the adult dogs eat the meat themselves, then return to the den and regurgitate it for the pups. 

      Southern Africa: Beyond the Concrete Jungle is chock full of intriguing tidbits like this. Kudos to Martin for raising awareness about how the encroachment of humans is a threat to certain species, and for encouraging people to observe wildlife in the wild. She even has included a video 30-minute narrated DVD of video footage because she thought it was important to share actual video footage from her safari. We couldn’t agree more. If you don’t have the ability to go on an African Safari at this point in your life, books and videos like Martin’s provides a satisfying alternative, and it sure beats a trip to a zoo, where animals’ natural instincts are thwarted and their wildness is contained. 



    • WaterCourse Foods becomes vegan, enthuses Denver restaurant scene 

      By Kaylee Dolan

      While not new to Denver’s food scene by any means, WaterCourse Foods, located just to the east of downtown, recently made waves by becoming 100 percent vegan. Led by owner Dan Landes, Chef de Cuisine/Executive Chef Melanie Minard and General Manager Shelly Waters, WaterCourse lives out its mission daily to “eat the path of least resistance.” 

       What exactly does it mean to eat the path of least resistance? 

      “I try to bring myself as low as I can (on the totem pole of life),” says Minard. “Be as compassionate as you can.” 

      WaterCourse opened its doors 1998, serving just breakfast and lunch five days a week. The spot quickly became a community gathering place, and 16 years later, it’s open seven days a week serving breakfast (served all day), lunch and dinner. WaterCourse officially became all-vegan on April 28, 2014, during a transition that took only one-and-a-half weeks.  

      Landes noted that it “sends huge ripples” for a restaurant to become vegan. 

      “Ninety-five percent of people were extremely happy [with the switch to veganism].” After 16 years of evolving, an entirely plant-based menu was just the next evolution. “It was the only option,” and for Landes, it was “life changing, life affirming.”

      WaterCourse is a from-scratch, all non-GMO kitchen, with many gluten-free options, that strives to use local ingredients whenever possible. It has its own garden plot in Elizabeth, Colo., as well as its own bakery. WaterCourse prides itself on being a stocked vegan pantry. 

      “Comfort food is the core of what we do… appealing to people who miss their cheesy mac and cheese,” Waters said. 

      From dressed-up versions of tried-and-true Southern favorites, like the “chicken” and waffles and po’ boy, to new staples such as the black bean and sweet potato street tacos and The Atlas—baked maple tempeh served with avocado, tomato, lettuce, mayo, and fried green tomatoes—WaterCourse offers something for every palate, vegan and omnivorous alike. “We’re trying to get away from the stereotype of vegans being militant,” Waters said.

      The master behind the menu is Minard, who is transitioning into the executive chef role. She recalls visiting WaterCourse when it first opened and how it completely changed the way she viewed food. She fondly recalls her first meal at WaterCourse—a bagel with tofu scramble and caramelized onions.

      Minard collaborates with Landes, Waters and the entire WaterCourse team to craft the menu. Items are critiqued extensively and often run as specials before being moved onto the main menu. As for the menu options, Landes says that they often consider “what is going to pop into someone’s mind that they have to have that day.”

      The trio offered up some must-have item suggestions for first-timers at WaterCourse, including the sweet potato cinnamon rolls, cauliflower wings, and the biscuits and gravy with barley sausage. You can also gobble up BBQ jackfruit sliders, smoky-sweet mac ‘n’ cheese, and decadent banana bread French toast. The restaurant offers juice blends or on-tap kombucha, as well as 100 percent vegan wine and beer. 

      Be sure to save room for dessert, too. WaterCourse has milkshakes in classic flavors and new favorites, such as bananas foster or orange popsicle. There are also reimagined HoHo cupcakes, Twinkies, and a Reese’s Cake. 

      In addition to doing good for the taste buds, WaterCourse is also doing good in the community. The restaurant hosts Nonprofit Mondays, where local organizations can receive a portion of sales from the night. Staff also make an appearance at the Broadway Farmer’s Market on Wednesday nights from 5 to 9 p.m. to sell goods from their bakery, and they often support local vegetarian and vegan events.

      In the future, the WaterCourse team sees the restaurant expanding. Melanie believes that Denver’s vegan community is getting “bigger, better and more positive.” After a 16-year journey into the delicious research and development of vegan food, it’s hard to imagine any restaurant to share its mission and knowledge with the Denver community than WaterCourse Foods. 

      WaterCourse is located at 837 E. 17th Ave., Denver, CO 80218. To check it out, visit



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