Category Archives: News and Activism

Vegan Businesses Effected by Coronavirus

Across the country the restaurant industry has been turned upside down with new restrictions and laws as states respond to the rapid development of the Coronavirus. Among restaurants, those that focus on vegan food items are not excluded from this and in many cases may face more obstacles to staying above water during this time when all small businesses face drowning. Restaurant owners are being forced to reevaluate their specific situations overnight EVERY NIGHT and make adjustments, and weigh the cost of staying open against the cost of closing- for their rent, mortgage, debt, staff, and communities.

Some restaurateurs were forced to make the difficult decision of closing down resulting in employees losing their paycheck, and with the dragging on of pandemic estimates, likely bankruptcy and permanent closures. Other restaurants who have decided to stay open need to suddenly shift their programs to delivery and takeout services while #contactlessdelivery has become the new model of the industry– just to be able to survive this time that could go on as much as 3-6 more months. Along with takeout and delivery, others have expanded into creating meal service packages, grocery delivery service, and sponsored food relief to at risk and in need people as well as promotions for , as well as seeking donations for their disenfranchised staff and over-burdened medical staff.   In this article we will take a closer look at a few cities, with vegan businesses and see how they are operating right now. 

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covid-19 and the food industry

COVID-19 – Time to eat and build a plant-based future!

By now I am sure you have heard about novel Coronavirus (the cause of COVID-19), an infectious disease caused by a new strain of virus related to the common cold, with global implications. As the toilet paper vanishes and grocery stores empty, it is time to explore where viruses like this are born and review the larger impacts of COVID-19 on our food system, supply chain, and future practices.

One of the biggest obstacles to our health and safety is Diet Literacy. No, that doesn’t mean which diet is going to make you thin or jacked, but it does mean that most people have no idea about the food they eat: where it comes from, who makes/grows it, how its packaged, or what hitch-hiking bugs may be along for the ride.  The following article is a compilation of insights and professional expertise I developed to send to the media and communicate with public policy officials in the first week of the US wave of the outbreak.  In an interest to bring people into that knowledge base, I have expanded upon these ideas and linked to resources at the bottom.  Please reach out for more info!

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Circus Down, Compassion Up

Yesterday, on January 14, 2017, Ringling Brothers announced that it will be closing this May. In a statement issued to the public, the circus cited rising operating costs, lack of public interest, and mounting legal fees with animal interests groups as reasons for the closing.  This is great news for the animals who will be freed from the circus and will go to animal sanctuaries for retirement. peta4

Circus profits declined  in recent years for many reasons. The operation dealt with high operating costs, expensive legal battles, and changing public opinions. Large, exotic animals and death-defying stunts made the circus popular in the late 1800’s and the first half of the 1900’s, but in a world of CGI and Video Game Fantasies, the thrill of the circus for many was passe. Ringling Brothers themselves cite populations saturated with amazing programs on television, and animal rights activists– who were merely working to raise awareness about the life of animals behind circus caravan bars.

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Plant-Based Knock Out

 

On Saturday March 5, plant-based fighter Nate Diaz defeated featherweight champion Conor McGregor by rear naked choke in the second round. Although the fight wasn’t for the belt, it was the biggest win in Diaz’s career.

JakeShieldsVegAdUnspoken by many in the media, Diaz is notable because he eats a plant-based diet. At times, Diaz
describes himself as a raw vegan, and at other times he claims that he eats no land animals or dairy products. Also underrepresented in the media, there are many vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based fighters in the UFC. In addition to Nate, his brother Nick, their training teammate Jake Shields,Ricardo Moreira, Jon Fitch, retired fighter Mac Danzig, and even hall-of-famer Randy Couture. Some of these fighters have fought for championships, and some have won belts. Most of these fighters did not choose to eat a plant-based diet because of ethical reasons, but because they recognize the health benefits of eliminating animal products from their diets.

To add another layer of vegan interest, Conor McGregor’s movement coach is Ido Portal, who is notorious for saying that he will not train with vegans. According to Portal, vegans lack the strength and energy that he expects in his training partners.

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Vegan Activist Lexicon- A Conceptual 101

So many ways to help animals. So many arguments that divide vegans, from each other, from vegetarians, and from the mainstream.  And the reasons, all of the reasons, let’s explore some in this introduction to Vegan Concepts through terminology.AR
Animal Rights- The belief, and movement of working for, rights and protections for nonhumans, in specific the right to avoid suffering, the possession of self-hood and the right not to be forced/compulsory consent, and exploitation.  This can include personhood, subject hood, prima facie rights, and abolitionism.

Animal Advocacy- This is similar to animal rights, although advocacy speaks to legal action, petition, or attempting to ban or block laws and practices governed by law that concern animal cruelty.  Top 45 Advocacy Blogs

Animal Welfare- This is the approach that tackles the reduction of harm in incremental amounts, such as “humane” farming practices.  They typically advocate for the reduction of the use of animal products to non-vegans, and the dissemination of more vegan alternatives in the market.  Many vegans believe this approach leads to guilt-absolution of non-vegans, allowing people to believe that their small ethical edits (grass-fed beef, cage-free eggs etc) solve the problem, instead of making a small dent. Animal Welfare Institute

animalliberation22Animal Liberation- The notion that we are not free until all are free.  The complete end of animal use for entertainment, agriculture, consumerism, medical testing, or any human-centered need. Occasionally, Liberation groups take matters into their own hands to liberate animals in captivity, or destroying testing cites, and others specifically work to ban or boycott industries that use captive or exploited animals.  Also, the name of a book by Peter Singer, himself a controversial figure. Animal Liberation Front.

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DXE- Disruption for the Cause

A public place, a restaurant, a grocery store.  These are all places where people gather, and they are also places where decisions get made.  Some of these decisions can effect the rest of someone’s life, and to people working for Animal Rights this fact is very true.

On Saturday January 30th, a group of people self-organized with DXE- Direct Action Everywhere  did several “disruptions” in Washington, DC in order to encourage people to question the choices in what they eat, what they buy, and in general to attempt to break down the denial we all have about what goes into our choices: the human, environmental, and animal costs of consumer goods and our lifestyles.

Using song, calling out facts, and signs, all over the world activists disrupt the daily “ignore what we don’t see” patterns we all fall into, and encourage a deeper investigation to these issues.

Calling out: “Their Bodies,” or “Their eggs” or “Their children” and the response “Not ours”

Calling out: “They have families,” or “They feel pain” and the response “Just like us”

Powerful stuff.  DXE has organized activist efforts all over, connect with them, link above, to find out how you too can get involved raising awareness and advocating for animals who can’t speak up for themselves.

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Plant Pure Nation

One of the best things about going to conferences like IPBNHC is how quickly people can introduce you to new things!  I was very excited to heat about an initiative called Plant Pure Nation:

“a “grassroots,” community-based strategy that engages millions of people everywhere to bring the message of plant-based nutrition to family, friends and neighbors. This effort demonstrates how millions of people working together at the local level can solve a social problem that industry and government have failed to solve.”

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