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This guest post by Dr. A Breeze Harper originally appeared on SistahVegan.com and is re-posted with permission.

Over the past week, I have directed much of my social justice work, within the Black Women’s Lives Matter movement, towards Marissa Alexander’s case. Yesterday, I went to an East Bay area meeting for Free Marissa Now. Several awesome things took place, including activists organizing to create a Berkeley to Florida caravan that will arrive on the day of Marissa’s court day at the end of January 2015.

For me, two things stand out with this case that yes, are infuriating: (1) The ridiculousness that Angela Corey, Prosecutor of Zimmerman and Dunn, is making Marissa’s life hell for protecting herself from a husband who was beating her and has done so (on record) previously; (2) It says a lot that a significant number of male, mostly white policeman and vigilantes can get away with killing Black people because a [white dominated] jury ‘naturally’ sympathizes with the defendant’s ‘negrophobia’ but; (3) a Black woman standing her ground against her abusive husband needs to “know her place” as woman in a misogynistic hetero patriarchal society and know her place as a Black person in an anti-Black society. She should “let” white racism and abusive men beat her down and never fight back. If she does not, she must be made as an example to all those other Black women (and Black transwomen, remember CeCe McDonald?) to know their place. 

See below as two of the folk from this past weekend’s Free Marissa Now East Bay area meeting, Nell and LaJuana, discuss who Marissa is. After, we took selfies of ourselves with the Free Marissa sign. We are hoping that you will take selfies of yourselves, with similar messages and signs to Free Marissa, post to your social media networks, and then have people go to the FreeMarissaNow.org link to learn more about how ALL OF US can help her be free. 

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Visiting a goat friend at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary in Deer Trail, CO.

Visiting a goat friend last year at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary in Deer Trail, CO.

There are a lot of causes, organizations, and nonprofits out there doing amazing work for non-human animals. While many of us in the vegan/animal welfare movement know of some of the “big names” like Farm Sanctuary, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, etc., many sanctuaries doing wonderful work fly under the radar.

Some reasons why some sanctuaries become more famous than others include: geography (whether or not the sanctuary is centrally located or near a major city or hub), celebrity endorsements (or lack thereof), funding (not to be ironic given that we’re talking about places that take care of chickens, but it’s a “chicken and the egg” issue, as well; sometimes better known organizations get more funding, and then have the resources to invest in marketing/PR and become better known, etc.), marketing and PR skills of the founders or staff (again, this goes back to resources), the “quality” of the visitor facilities (do they have a guest house for high-end donors to stay in, should they want to visit? Do they have personable folks available to run the tours?) and more.

I absolutely love one particular “famous” sanctuary: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I’m proud that 100% of the proceeds of The Queer Vegan Food Cookbook will support WFAS now, and forever (or as long as folks wish to pick up a virtual copy). I don’t believe that sanctuaries should have to “compete” for our support; I believe in an abundance in the movement where we can support multiple organizations (including supporting in non-monetary ways such as donating our volunteer time, which is wonderful, too).

As a movement, we could do a better job with supporting sanctuaries who may not have the marketing muscle or visitor facilities or restaurant partnerships that other “better known” sanctuaries have. I believe there is room for us to concurrently support sanctuaries of all statuses, as long as we feel they are doing amazing work, are treating their human- and non-human animals well, and stand for the values we believe in.

With all this in mind, I’m thrilled to be putting the spotlight on two animal sanctuaries that are dear to me: VINE in Springfield, VT and Peaceful Prairie in Deer Trail, CO.

Pattrice Jones of VINE Sanctuary.

pattrice jones with a member of VINE Sanctuary.

Name: Veganism Is The Next Evolution (VINE) Sanctuary

Year Founded: 2000

Founders: Miriam and pattrice jones

Location: Springfield, VT

Website: http://vine.bravebirds.org/

Mission: VINE Sanctuary provides a haven for animals who have escaped or been rescued from the meat, dairy and egg industries or other abusive circumstances, such as cockfights or pigeon-shoots. Sanctuary residents include chickens, cows, ducks, doves, geese, pigeons, sheep, emus, and even a few parakeets. In addition to sheltering and advocating for animals, they conduct research and education aimed at creating systemic changes in agriculture, trade, and consumption as well as human attitudes about animals and the environment. VINE works within an ecofeminist understanding of the interconnection of all life and the intersection of all forms of oppression. Thus VINE welcomes and works to facilitate alliances among animal, environmental, and social justice activists. (Source: http://vine.bravebirds.org/about-us/)

Sharkey of VINE Sanctuary

Sharkey of VINE Sanctuary

Why I Love VINE: Since getting to know VINE, I’ve really appreciated their approach to queering vegan and animal welfare issues. Their intersectional work to support human- and non-human animals concurrently is something with which I completely agree. I love that they are queer-run, and when they have difficult decisions to make, they have them in the barn near the animals (how cool is that?).

I haven’t visited yet, but I love their adorable status updates about the sanctuary and animals on VINE’s Facebook page. I’m proud to know and support them.

Donate To VINE Sanctuary

Donate To VINE Sanctuary

 


 

Peaceful Prairie SanctuaryName: Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Year Founded: 1997

Founders: Michele and Chris Alley-Grubb

Location: Deer Trail, CO

 

Website: http://www.peacefulprairie.org/

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Mission: The mission at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary is to provide a safe, loving and permanent home for rescued farmed animals – not accepted at most shelters. In addition to providing life-long care for the animals, Peaceful Prairie is dedicated to promoting vegan living as the only way to end the suffering and exploitation of animals (Source: http://www.peacefulprairie.org/about.html)

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Why I Love Peaceful Prairie: After visiting Peaceful Prairie in 2013, I fell in love. Read a bit about my experience in my blog post recounting my visit. Peaceful Prairie isn’t a “glamorous” sanctuary, but the staff work tirelessly to create a loving and peaceful rescue for non-human animals. This sanctuary is also located in a very rancher-run rural part of Colorado, and the sanctuary receives threats from local farms who don’t want their animal-loving presence near their animal-killing and abusing industries. It’s a miracle that Peaceful Prairie exists, and an honor to support them.

Donate to Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

Donate to Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.


Thanks so much for reading! In the comments, I’d love to hear about the sanctuaries you love and support which aren’t featured as often in the media. xo

 

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Mayim's Vegan TableThere comes a time in every blogger’s life when she connects so deeply with a cookbook that she feels, while making the food described in it, that she and the author are inextricably linked. Food recipes can connect us across geography and time, and in the case of Mayim’s Vegan TableMore than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to YoursI felt super connected to the author, wherever she is, being a fabulous neuroscience PhD, television star, and all-around gorgeous vegan genius. Every recipe she included in here seemed as though aimed at me to love it, though I’m sure that’s how most feel. Brussels sprouts chips? Kugel? Taco salad? I also miss making a lot of my favorite Jewish foods like Matzo Ball soup, challah, sufganiyot, rugelach, kugel, and more. This cookbook is totally a resource for those of us who love vegan food that tastes like a Bubbie made it!

The beginning of the book includes some helpful tips on vegan food prep, some basics and some in-depth tutorials like meal planning for picky kid eaters and sections on the science and environmental arguments behind a healthful vegan diet. To be honest, a lot of that stuff didn’t appeal as much to me (I just wanted to make the delish recipes!), but I think for new and/or aspiring vegans, it’d be a big help! I’m glad she took the time to share her values and appeal to parents who may need more help to get junior to eat her broccoli.

I’ve made several of Mayim’s recipes, and here are some of my favorites so far:

Quinoa with Herbs and Veggies

Quinoa with Herbs and Veggies

Vegan challah! I actually used Mayim's Turtle Bread recipe and just substituted gluten-free flour.

Vegan challah! I actually used Mayim’s Turtle Bread recipe and just substituted gluten-free flour.

Taco Salad! Mmm

Taco Salad! Mmm

Brussels sprouts chips: easy to make (if slightly time consuming) and oh-so-good!

Brussels sprouts chips: easy to make (if time consuming) and oh-so-good! I added nutritional yeast.

These recipes for the photos above are each very easy to make, designed for busy parents and/or those who love delicious food but don’t have time to create crazy-elaborate dishes. I highly recommend picking up a copy, and not only because Mayim is so cool! Here’s a link to another great review of Mayim’s Vegan Table by my friend Jenny Bradley on Vegansaurus.

Buy Mayim’s Vegan Table online and at bookstores nationwide.

 

 

 

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When I started Queer Vegan Food several months ago, I had a vision: to showcase weird, unusual, or highly creative vegan recipes that broke the mold of traditional vegan fare, which often imitates foods from the animal product world, and to make the explicit connection between being queer and being vegan. While I sometimes feature recipes that are pretty standard (raw NOreos aren’t quite so strange, after all, and I will admit I love simple recipes as much as the next high raw vegan), I think that my tendency to throw raw chocolate onto kelp noodles and put maca in savory dishes puts this blog in kind of a unique category. A queer category, if you will. Additionally, while I love and adore people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, I appreciate that my blog willingly asserts itself as anti-oppression, anti-violence, anti-cruelty in any form, and logically extends that to both non-human animals and non-normative sexual and gender identifying-humans.

Still, I’ve kind of been wondering, am I potentially alienating potential readers by being so explict about my sexual orientation and how I think that relates to veganism? I  imagined there would be some room for crossover readership among people of all sexual orientations and even levels of interest in veganism. After all, who doesn’t love an awesome cookie recipe that just happens to be raw, made mostly from locally-sourced ingredients, vegan and organic, and promotes a cruelty-free ethic for both human animals and non-human animals? At the core, I was hoping the food and the ideas would speak for themselves, and I wouldn’t alienate people who were neither queer nor raw vegan.

To find out for sure, I checked in with business and online marketing guru Marie Forleo, whom I greatly admire for her sass and tough-minded approach to helping women succeed in business. Forleo graciously featured Queer Vegan Food and my question on her weekly Q&A Tuesday show last week, and I was blown away by her response!

Watch it here:

I loved Marie’s response. She advocated that I not worry about alienating customers–those who “get it” so to speak will be interested, and those who don’t, well, they can go visit some other blog! Additionally, she pointed out that it is important to focus on the needs of the reader (she uses the word “customer,” but I’m really not aiming to create a business out of this blog, so I much prefer the word “reader”). To shine the spotlight on the needs and desires of your reader base is the important thing–not to focus, say, on my personal sexual orientation.

More than 6,000 people watched Marie’s response on Youtube, and her blog got dozens of comments from women of all stripes who appreciated her messages. That’s part of what I love about Marie–while she answered my specific question, I think the lessons she shares can be helpful for many kinds of  entrepreneurs.

I am still figuring out the balance between personal politics and awesome recipes. I would LOVE it if you, the reader, would allow me to shine the spotlight on you for a bit, and ask whether you think the balance is working here on the blog? If you don’t think it’s working, what would you love to see more of? More recipes? More current events explored from a queer-vegan foodie perspective? More photos from my work-life (did you know I work at a raw vegan retreat center in Arizona? ‘Tis true!)

This blog is still in its infancy. Thank you for reading!

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Hello Queer Vegan Food readers! It is a joy to write to you from Berkeley, Calif., where it is currently foggy and mild temps. This August is super special for me, because it marks my six-year vegan anniversary! Six years isn’t very long in the scheme of things, but as a twenty-four year old, that’s 1/4th of my life spent eschewing animal products in food, products, clothing, and trying my best to support animal welfare whenever possible. It’s been an incredible journey, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a bit about my journey to veganism, and say a bit about what being vegan has meant to me in my life.

I became vegetarian at age 12 after my older brother Asher convinced me it was just plain silly to eat meat. I am grateful for my amazing big bro for many, many reasons, but his cajoling me to drop the dead flesh in my life was a huge gift. Thanks, Asher!

My vegan brother Asher's LA film studio, Pollution Studios.

My vegan journey officially began at 18. I was working as a sailing instructor at a camp which served absolutely the nastiest processed food ever. It was deep fried everything, vegetables drenched in butter, sugar cereals and lots of meat, eggs, and other processed foods. It was a nutrition disaster for everyone, and as a vegetarian I started to get really jealous of this vegan girl who was working as an assistant counselor. She had absolutely no choice but to buy her own food, and what she was eating looked so much better! While I was picking at the iceberg lettuce at the salad bar, this chick was noshing on fresh fruits and veggies, organic cereals and nut milk, vegan cookies, even. She seemed happy, healthy, and very energetic. Before I could ask her why she was vegan, her session ended and she was gone.

I suddenly had to know why this girl was vegan and not vegetarian. Was there something I was missing? I went online and researched vegan primers. The first one I saw was what I ordered: Vegan Freak by Bob and Jenna Torres. After reading it, I realized that for all of the reasons I’d decided to be vegetarian (animal welfare, environmental concerns, social justice) it was just plain hypocritical of me not to go completely vegan. Some people have a hard time transitioning away from animal products and do it gradually; I totally respect that, but that wasn’t how it was for me. As soon as I put the book down, I knew what I had to do and didn’t look back.

As most vegans can attest, veganism can feel liberating on all levels, not only in the sense that there’s an abundance of foods, products and opportunities that are available to us vegans, but also in that it provides the feeling of doing everything in our power to reduce harm we cause to animals and non-human animals through consumption habits.

As a vegan, I have met tons of incredible people such as my idol and author of The Sexual Politics of Meat Carol J. Adams, and have gotten the chance to do activism through writing, hosting events, and being that visible presence that can be a catalyst for change for others. My brother, once vegetarian, is now vegan (way to go, bro!). I’ve helped some of my professors at Vassar come out of the vegan closet, and have nudged more than a handful of friends, many of whom are still vegan!

Carol J. Adams' The Sexual Politics of Meat

For me, veganism has always been primarily about animal welfare and environmental and social justice concerns. Luckily, it is also a path to healthful nourishment. When I learned about raw foods, it made my vegan experience even more fun and enjoyable, and now I incorporate a high-raw diet into my vegan activist diet. It’s pretty cool to make the connection between what’s on our plate and how it got there, and whether you’re eating mostly cooked vegan foods, raw vegan foods or a combination of raw and cooked vegan foods, I feel the key is to feel great about the choices you’re making for yourself and for the planet.

Fresh, local vegan bounty from the Berkeley Farmers' Market

One of the things I’ve realized as a vegan is how much of a privilege it is to have access to raw, organic vegan produce. Sadly, the way our twisted food economy is set up, many low-income communities just do not have access to their basic human right to healthful, nutritious produce. Food Empowerment Project leader Lauren Ornelas makes great efforts to make vegan food accessible, and my new favorite champion of raw foods for everyone, Brandi Rollins, has a sweet new book out with ingenious strategies to live an exclusively raw organic vegan diet or incorporate more raw foods into your diet without breaking the bank.

My vegan inspirations include AJ from Queer Vegan Runner, a fellow Vassar grad who shows how living a vegan lifestyle can help reduce cruelty towards animals and can also make you fit to run many miles and enjoy life! My friend Allen, whose epicurean blog Le Seitan Au Vin never fails to crack me up (wish he’d update it more..it’s SO good!) and I used to throw juice parties for our creative writing group at Vassar with our friends Nate, Joshua, and Ladee I am also inspired by JL Goes Vegan, whose entertaining and information-filled blog highlights the good life as a smart, sassy warrior woman who went vegan post-forty.

Raw vegan salad at The Tree of Life Cafe in Patagonia, Ariz.

Our Hen House is a fellow queer vegan blog that blends activism with sass. I couldn’t neglect to include nutritionist/doctor-to-be and editor wiz Gena Hamshaw’s super amazing raw vegan and vegan blog Choosing Raw, which has helped thousands of people make the connection between deliciousness and veganism. Gena’s blog is also very special because of its section Green Recovery, which highlights stories and insights that show how veganism can help people heal from eating disorders. Groundbreaking work, indeed. Whenever I need a good dose of vegan laughter or inspiration, I turn to SF-based vegan blog Vegansaurus (I’m also a semi-regular contributor as their ‘raw correspondent’). Laura Beck and the team prove veganism can be hip and hilarious.

My good friends Ivory King and Jonathan Mann have created an amazing song called “Vegan Myths Debunked,” which highlights the common myths around veganism with a tune that you’ll be humming in your sleep.

I have to give a shout out to my amazing partner and best friend Courtney Pool. Courtney is coincidentally also celebrating her six-year veganniversary this month! Her beautiful blog Radical Radiance inspires people with her insights, anecdotes and mouth-watering pictures. She also coaches and teaches about the benefits of juice feasting and fasting and cleansing on a vegan diet, which can be helpful for longtime vegans and gateways to the vegan path for those interested in health. Courtney’s new blog, Spirulina Junkie, is really exciting for vegans, as it explains how to incorporate protein and nutrient-rich spirulina into our diets, and teaches how spirulina can be grown sustainably and cost-effectively to improve global human health and the health of our planet.

Raw vegan goddess and nutrition coach Courtney Pool.

I am also grateful to raw vegan holistic medical doctor Gabriel Cousens, M.D. for leading the way with the links between veganism, spirituality and health, Co-Founder of Vivapura Chris Whitcoe, raw vegan chef/author and holistic health champion Elaina Love of Pure Joy Planet, Aviva and Yosef Funke for their work in bringing holistic health and vegan nutrition to under-represented populations of youth in Nogales, Arizona. I also am super inspired by my dear friend Mariano Caino, who proves you can be a very happy and healthy vegan in Buenos Aires, Argentina!

My friend Boaz Love-Bliss with homemade raw vegan chocolate!

In addition to everyone I’ve mentioned here, there are many other bloggers and writers whose work has inspired me and is really helping the vegan movement. I wish I could fit them all into this post! Thanks to them (and to you, reader!) for promoting compassion.

Hitting up farmers’ markets and learning how to grow our own produce are goals that I think would be great for more vegans to incorporate (many already do), but however we get our plants, it’s an enormous help just to avoid participating in animal exploitation.

Like that girl I met the summer when I was 18 (whose name I wish I had learned!), just being willing to be a visible vegan person can be enough to challenge someone to consider making the choice themselves. I never preach, but I know my friends and loved ones feel like they can come to me and ask for resources if they want them. And they do, often! It’s a great feeling to help spread compassion on a basis that people are ready for and interested in. For me, my veganism has been a path to activism, fun, community, sustainable living and joy. I’m excited to see what will happen in my own life and in the vegan movement over the next six years. 😉

In the comments, I’d love to hear how long you’ve been vegan or vegetarian! Thanks for reading.

Love, Sarah

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