Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Personhood - APRIL 2017

 by Fireweed for the Island Word, March 2017 issue

     The air brakes on the live animal transport truck that had just pulled up in front of me at the busy intersection let out a loud hiss. Startled, I stepped back, fumbling with the settings on my camera. Better prepared witnesses advanced, swiftly documenting some of the frightened animals crowded
Toronto Pig Save photo
together inside the vehicle. Only 

moments later we were watching it disappear through the gated entranceway to Fearman Pork Inc., one of the largest slaughterhouses in Ontario. Billowing white plumes of steam mark the site as they exit chimney pipes towering high above scalding tanks inside the windowless complex. They are as hard to miss as the animal activists and their placards on the street holding vigil. I was heartened by the frequency of honks and thumbs up we received from drivers passing by. 

     'Save' vigils like the one in Burlington where I was recently visiting family promote the act of bearing witness to suffering and injustice as a means of consciousness raising about the plight of farmed animals of all kinds. 'Toronto Pig Save' events have been happening regularly outside Fearman's for
Anita Krajnc  -  photo by Taline Manoulian  8/29/16
almost six years now. It was here on a hot summer day in 2015 where founding activist Anita Krajnc's journey through the Canadian legal system began after she was charged with criminal mischief for providing water to thirsty pigs in the back of one of those massive delivery trucks. She hasn't stopped. A staggering 45,000 young animals continue to be slaughtered at this particular facility every week (not including those that are found dead on arrival of course - by law they are prohibited from entering the human food system). But the international media attention generated by Krajnc's act of mercy and subsequent trial has inspired nearly 200 'Save' chapters to spring up in over a dozen countries!

      Within Canada's legal system animals are recognized as 'property', but Krajnc and her supporters do not accept that she is guilty of any wrongdoing. Her lawyers have argued that she acted in the public good much as renowned civil rights activists have defied unjust laws in the past out of a sense of moral duty. Expert witnesses have testified at her trial about the deleterious impacts of animal agribusiness on our global environment (including its role as a leading contributor of GHG emissions), and about the psychological complexity of pigs. As neuroscientist Dr. Lori Morino explained, for example,“Pigs are at least as emotionally complex as dogs and as psychologically complex as primates. It sells pigs short to say they are as sophisticated as a human toddler, for they are more complex than that.”

Anita Krajnc outside courthouse - photo from Alex Bez
 The opportunity to discuss animal personhood in a Canadian courtroom afforded by Krajnc's trial is not expected to change any of the country's laws in the short term. However, after meat industry employees in attendance allegedly scoffed at applying the concept to farmed animals the judge made his own comparison between the legal status of pigs today and those of women in Canada nearly a century ago. “Though careful not to make any legal pronouncements,” wrote Jeremy Greenberg for
Ultravires, “Justice Harris suggested that, just as the Persons Case brought a long-overdue recognition of women as legal persons, so too might the law eventually “catch up” with the scientific and moral justifications for animal personhood.” That Burlington courtroom is sure to be packed once again on May 4th when the judge is scheduled to deliver his verdict!

     We arrived home from Ontario already mourning the death of a special feline companion who had unexpectedly passed away during our absence. Our one remaining cat was so distraught that he meowed incessantly for nearly two full days. Clearly missing his buddy as much as we are, it has taken lots of extra loving to calm and reassure him that we will all get through this loss together. The significance of the bonds that nonhuman animals share naturally with one another (and sometimes with the two leggeds they adopt as their own) is so obvious when we are paying attention.

     In “The Pig Who Sang to the Moon”, author Jeffrey
also available as an audio book!
Moussaief explores how love, loyalty, friendship, sadness, grief, and sorrow are shared by all domesticated animals. And as the slow pace of evolution would have it, these sentient beings are still very little removed from their wild ancestors. Hence, the animals we farm have all the emotions that belong to wild animals who live under conditions of freedom, says Moussaief. “This means that confinement is going to be all the more painful for farm animals, conflicting as it does with emotions that evolved under far different conditions.”

     Vested interests in the commodification of animals will of course continue to oppose their liberation from human servitude for the foreseeable future. But so will the peaceful heroism of Anita Krajnc and the 'Save' movement continue to shine a light on speciesism - arbitrary discrimination that affords greater protection for some animals over others no less deserving of freedom from harm.

     May your April be a joyous time of new beginnings. Here's a delicious 100% plant-based entree sure to please the entire family!


Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf, adapted from “Oh She Glows” with thx to Terry Walters

Ingredients (all organic if possible):
Glazed Lentil Loaf - "Oh She Glows" photo
1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  and toasted
3 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups diced sweet onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup grated carrot
1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet
   apple (use a firm variety)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried thyme)
salt & pepper, to taste (about 3/4 tsp sea salt)
red pepper flakes, to taste

Balsamic Apple Glaze:
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp apple butter (or unsweetened applesauce in a pinch)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Rinse, strain and boil lentils in 3 cups of water with a little salt until slightly over-cooked. Mash. Toast walnuts at 325 F for about 8-10 mins. Set aside and boost oven to 350 F. Whisk ground flax with water in a small bowl and set aside. Sautee garlic & onion in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add your diced celery, shredded carrot and apple, and raisins. Sautee for about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat. Mix all ingredients together, adjusting seasonings to taste. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Press mixture firmly into pan. Whisk glaze ingredients and then spread half on top of loaf. Reserve the rest for a dipping sauce. Bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes, uncovered. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Slicing this loaf is easiest when it has completely cooled. Bon appetit!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Very Good! - March, 2017

                                  by Fireweed for the Island Word, March 2017 issue

        P.T. Barnum, the old-time American showman and circus operator, is often
associated with the phrase “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” Of course animal advocacy in the 19th century didn't have the outreach ability it has today to expose what goes on behind closed doors. 

      When Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus finally announced in 2015 that they would phase out their iconic elephants, a significant “mood shift” in their consumer base was cited as the reason for that decision. Now in its 146th year, the self-proclaimed 'greatest show on earth' will close its doors for good after a final performance this spring. Societal change never happens overnight, nor in a vacuum. However, public concern for the way animals are treated is continuing to grow, and new doors are opening for enterprise of all kinds dedicated to a more compassionate world.

     The grand opening I attended at the end of February for the Very Good Butchers' storefront in Victoria's Public Market was a perfect example of just how hungry people are for cruelty-free alternatives to business as usual. Specializing in organic,100% plant-based meats hand-crafted on Denman Island, proprietors Tania Friesen and James Davison and their hard-working team experienced the kind of immediate success in the capital city that most smaller-scale food outlets only dream of! Thanks in part to an unanticipated level of exposure through tv, radio and social media, close to 1000 people showed up and the Very Good Butchers were virtually sold out within hours. In a fortuitous twist of fate just prior to the opening, even online backlash from critical carnivores turned beneficial. It resulted in CTV news hour extending their acknowledgement of the vegan deli's opening over a second day in a row! Indeed, a little P.T. Barnum-style publicity can certainly come in handy.
A VERY GOOD Very Good Butchers' sandwich!
 It is, of course, all the positive reviews the Very Good Butchers are receiving for their delicious selection of plant-based burgers, meat balls, sausages, etc., that show the promise of a steady customer base. Folks who waited in line on Feb. 25th but ended up having to go home empty-handed were offered a complimentary discount applicable to any return visit purchase. And it's not just vegans and vegetarians the Very Good Butchers are aiming to please. Curious omnivores are expected to make up the bulk of their market as more and more seek to reduce and/or eliminate their consumption of animal products in favour of personal health, compassion for animals and environmental sustainability.

 “We were motivated to help omnivores feel comfortable, even through our choice of brand name,” explains Tania Friesen, ...to make the switch less overwhelming. We know that giving up familiar comfort foods is often the biggest challenge.” 

       It is unconscionable that cows should remain the elephant in the room in so many environmental and political circles today, while protein-rich plant foods are known to be far friendlier for the environment and healthier for people. In a 2016 study from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Alfredo Mejia, Dr. PH., an associate professor of nutrition at Andrews University, and lead author on the study, found that producing plant-based meat alternatives generates “approximately 10 times less greenhouse gas emissions than producing comparable beef-based products.” 

      The Very Good Butchers are clearly on the right track. They are also the first of their kind on the west coast and only second to Toronto's YamChops plant-based butcher in all of Canada. According to the Plant Based Foods Organization in California, increasing consumer demand is driving unprecedented growth in this industry and the global plant-based meat market is projected to reach nearly $6 billion US by 2022! In 2016 YamChops was selected as a hot investment opportunity on the Dragons' Den (CBC's reality tv show featuring entrepreneurs looking for financial support from venture capitalists) and that business is now looking to franchise in seven additional North American cities. Not one, but two Yamchops outlets are already planned for  Vancouver. The timing is definitely right for the Very Good Butchers to carve out a niche all their own. But these are still early days. Supplying other restaurants and retail outlets already interested will have to wait if the Very Good Butchers' own storefront sales continue to exceed all expectations! Watch for an upcoming Kickstarter campaign to help purchase additional equipment that would increase the company's production capabilities.

Theo @ RASTA -  forever free from harm!
    These young entrepreneurs are already providing full or part-time employment for at least a dozen people including folks on Denman Island. It's great to know they don't regard BC's minimum wage as a living wage, and have no intentions of hiring labour at less than $15 an hour. And what a thoughtful gesture to tithe 10% of their opening day's revenue to important community causes. This generous donation has been shared between the Victoria Women's Transition House Society, and RASTA (Rescue and Sanctuary for Threatened Animals) in Chemainus on Vancouver Island.

      The Very Good Butchers plan to be open seven days a week in Victoria, and will continue to have many of their popular items available on Denman as well. Visit their website : www.verygoodbutchers.com for a sampling of their menu selection, hours of operation and other details. You can also find and follow them right HERE on Facebook.

This month's recipe for The Transition Kitchen is a simple, but delicious slaw that makes a perfect side for any plant-based meat main, or a meal in itself. Bon apetit!

Fireweed's Spring Thaw Slaw (but tasty any time of the year!)

Organic Ingredients:
3 cups of green cabbage (any kind), thinly sliced
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup of coarsely grated carrots
1/4 cup raisins, golden or regular sultana
1/2 cup chopped red apple
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds* (see directions below)
2 tsps. of lemon juice
1 tsp. agave or maple syrup
dash of umeboshi plum vinegar (optional)
sea salt and gresh ground black pepper to taste
3 or 4 T. egg-free mayo (Vegannaise, Just Mayo, or homemade)

     I like to toast my raw unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds in a seasoned cast iron pan on the stovetop. Use low to medium heat, stirring attentively with a wooden spoon. You can do a larger quantity than the recipe calls for and store the extra for another day. They will burn quickly if the heat is too high, so if you decide to prep your other ingredients while they are roasting you might be sorry (speaking from experience once too often here!) Remove your toasted seeds from the pan when they have browned slightly and set aside on a plate to cool.

     Next, shred your carrots on a grater and press out any excess moisture as required. Chop your cored apple (I leave the skin on), and toss with the lemon juice which will prevent any browning.  If you use a firm green cabbage (rather than a soft Chinese cabbage) slice that next as thinly as possible and combine with the apples and carrots. At this stage I add my dash of plum vinegar, agave or maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper. Add your vegan mayo next, before folding in the purple cabbage, raisins and seeds. TIP: adding the purple cabbage at the last minute prevents turning the whole dish pink if you make this slaw ahead of time to serve guests. It does hold up well in the fridge for a day or so. Save a few of the raisins and seeds to sprinkle on top of your serving to dress up the presentation, and enjoy!

FOR THE BIRDS - Feb. 2017

by Fireweed for the Island Word, February 2017 issue

      I haven't always been quite so interested in chickens...but that was before I met Sybil.

She was born in a rural classroom incubator with a slight deformity, never standing a chance at the bottom of the pecking order among her own kind. And so this wee bird joined our human family on the farm one summer and we bonded as she grew. Sybil knew her name and would come racing up to the farmhouse veranda for a treat when called. It was easy to spend far too much time with her cradled in my lap, her small head buried in the crook of my arm. A contented chicken will not only sigh, but coo like a purring cat! Sybil taught me to start paying far more attention to the unique personalities of individual birds, and the relationship at large between our two species.
      Gallus gallus domesticus are the descendants of jungle fowl indigenous to the bamboo forests of India and South-East Asia, but they have been introduced by humans to every corner of our planet. Incredibly, their population is now triple the size of our own. Bearing little resemblance to their ancestors, the chickens raised today for eating also look very different from those raised primarily for eggs. Each kind has been strategically bred for hyper-production. The vast majority suffer from severe physical problems brought on by genetic manipulation, and the hellish conditions inherent in factory-style farming which dominates well over 99 percent of animal agribusiness. The lives of so-called 'broilers' are typically ended at around 2 months of age, while 'layers' may languish for up to 2 years in cramped cages before they are killed and replaced. With few to no federal laws to protect them, billions of chickens stacked in windowless warehouses the size of football fields right this very minute are unable to peck, perch or spread their wings, let alone dust bathe or even scratch in the dirt.

       In the shadow of this heinous reality, the desire to keep a few chickens in one's own back yard has been granted almost heroic status in some quarters. Even where authorities have wisely ruled against the keeping of farmed animals on city lots the burgeoning locavore movement is pushing back. There is a plethora of on-line sites and groups today that romanticize small scale animal husbandry, linking 'local food security', 'justice' and 'sustainability' with alleged improvements in animal welfare. Never mentioned is the fact that there is zero need for eggs (or any other animal products) in the human diet, and therefore no real justification for encouraging the breeding and confinement of chickens in enclosures of any size.

      Predation is the leading cause of premature bird mortality wherever real freedom to roam is granted however. One day, out of the blue, my sweet Sybil simply vanished from the farm. I don't accept the notion that nature is simply taking its course when we fail to provide adequate protection for animals once under our care. But everyone I've ever known who has lived with chickens in the country has a tragic tale to tell. Urbanites who wish to keep hens obviously need to make a considerable investment upfront in secure accommodations – and not be discouraged from feeling compassion for the vulnerable beings they are essentially choosing to take under their own wing. Egg production typically wanes after two or three years. When the decision is made to replace still relatively young hens with new ones, will it feel right to betray those with whom trust has been established by sending them to slaughter, or will finding a retirement home somewhere safe be the truly 'just' and 'sustainable' option? Unfortunately, hospitable destinations are in short supply for retirees. I know of existing sanctuaries overburdened with the responsibility of ongoing care for 'spent' hens. There is already no end to requests for help with roosters from folks without the heart to deny those casualties of the backyard chicken movement the right to ongoing life either. 

         Courtenay is facing renewed challenges to existing bylaws that currently prohibit backyard chickens within the municipality. Residents would do well to familiarize themselves with the list of considerations the BC SPCA has made available on their website that reveal why raising hens in an urban backyard environment is not a suitable practise for the inexperienced. A few years ago inaccurate information started circulating that suggested the Vancouver Humane Society had reversed their position opposing urban poultry. Communications Director Peter Fricker recently confirmed for me that this was never the case. VHS remains concerned about the high probability of inhumane treatment of backyard chickens and is therefore opposed to the practise.

      Eggs are considered to be a great source of protein (boasting approximately 6 grams per) but so are plenty of plants. Did you know that there are 6.3 grams of protein in just 2 Tablespoons of hemp hearts? And 7.3 grams of protein in 1/2 cup of chickpeas? How about 9 grams in just 1/2 cup of cooked lentils? I hope you enjoy my tasty Quinoa Salad recipe below to the tune of 11 grams per cup!

Fireweed's Organic Quinoa Salad
4 cups vegetable broth (see instructions below)
1.5 cups raw whole grain quinoa
1 cucumber, sliced 
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup lightly steamed broccoli florets
a few cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered 
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts 
diced scallion optional
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes in vegetable broth (I like organic Better Than Bouillon which is available at Edible Island - and palm oil-free!) Stir occasionally. Whisk together the fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper while the quinoa is cooking. When light and fluffy, remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then toss with your veggies and dressing. Stir to combine well. Bon appetit!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

LIFTING THE VEIL - November 2016

by Fireweed for the Island Word, November 2016 issue

Donald Watson climbing 
mountain on his 93rd birthday 
     November 1st, in case you didn't know, was World Vegan Day. Just 2 days earlier this year in London, England, 2,000 vocal animal liberationists took to the streets declaring that “a different future for animals is possible!” Such a demonstration would have been unheard of in 1944 when teacher and conscientious objector Donald Watson (originator of the word 'vegan') and five cohorts co-founded the UK Vegan Society. By the time World Vegan Day was established to commemorate the Society's 50th anniversary, no one could recall the exact day in November the organization had been born. Louise Wallis, Chair of the Society in 1994 later explained her choice: “I decided to go for November 1st partly because I liked the idea of this date coinciding with Samhain/Hallowe'en and the Day of the Dead – traditional times for feasting and celebration, both apt and auspicious.”

Watch the trailer here

     Commercialization has certainly played a role in transforming Hallowe'en from a time of honouring ancestors and loved ones in the spirit world into far less reverential engagement with the cyclical mysteries of life and death. I'll never understand how feelings of fear can be embraced as a kind of entertainment, but apparently there are plenty of people who crave having the bejeezus scared out of them! When early Hallowe'en revellers in Ontario showed up for a free film billed as “possibly the scariest movie ever created” they were taking their chances. However, few were prepared for the frightening realities revealed in “Earthlings,” Shaun Monson's 2005 documentary about the way animals are routinely treated in the entertainment, research, clothing and food industries. Apparently half of the movie-goers walked out angry in the first thirty minutes. In their opinion, the screening had been falsely advertised. Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance member Malcom Klimowicz disagreed with that allegation in an interview with the Canadian Press. “The true horror of the film,” he said, “comes from the fact that it depicts real events.” 

Animal Rights March, London England, Oct. 29th, 2016
photo credit: Jack Taylor, Getty Images Europe
     When Animal Justice lawyer Anna Pippus weighed in on social media about the unconventional showing of “Earthlings”, she opined that those angry about deception really need to be asking themselves why they aren't angry about what's happening to animals. Such a perspective would most certainly have been shared by last weekend's demonstrators in England, as it is among the growing social justice movement for animals here in Canada. Its been 16 years since Monson's powerful film first shocked the world with its unflinching expose, yet as Mercy for Animals' recent undercover investigation in a turkey slaughterhouse discloses, plenty of egregious animal suffering is going on behind closed doors right now, right here in our own country that should definitely outrage us all.

photo credit: Mercy for Animals
click here to watch W5's "Fowl Business"
      CTV News aired the Lilydale turkey story in a W5 segment with reporter Victor Malarek called “Fowl Business,” and it is available to viewers online. I will spare you the details, but one worker in the BC slaughterhouse recorded by Mercy for Animals' undercover investigator describes torturous incidents he himself has witnessed time and time again on the job as nothing less than a “f-ing horror show.” Earlier last month animal advocates celebrated a victory when it was learned that several individuals have agreed to plead guilty in a criminal case resulting from hidden camera footage obtained over two years ago on an Abbotsford dairy farm, also through Mercy for Animals. But
Fowl Business” is another wake-up call for consumers of animal products, most importantly because the disturbing cruelty it reveals has been declared by management and so-called experts like Temple Grandin as constituting totally legal, standard industry practises.

     As animal welfarist Ruth Harrison wrote in “Animal Machines” (1964): “In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to a lot of animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.” 

     The W5 report concludes by emphasizing that there are 'less cruel' ways to slaughter turkeys.  Reform is slow, and cruelty should be abolished not regulated. The good news is that choosing a 100% plant-based diet has never been easier for those of us with the privilege of choice. In fact, among compassionate food bloggers dedicated to inspiring others with delicious vegan recipe ideas, the entire month of November is now celebrated as Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food) online.  Click HERE for over 100 links to official participants, and HERE for a compact list of vegan resources compiled by BC musician and social justice activist Elyse Belladonna in honor of World Vegan Food Day and Vegan MoFo! 

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup (with thanks to The Buddhist Chef!)

1 sweet potato
1 onion
3 carrots
2 T. olive oil 
1/8 tsp. nutmeg 
1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
1/4 tsp. ground cumin 
1/4 tsp. turmeric 
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable stock 

Roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness! Preheat your oven to 350 F and coarsely chop the vegetables. Toss them in a bowl with the oil and spices, mixing well. Bake for 30 minutes on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. After removing from the oven, place in a saucepan or sturdy blender and drain off any excess oil. Add your veggie stock (I use palm-oil free and organic Better Than Bouillon, available at Edible Island).Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the veggies are tender (about 15-20 minutes). Blend in batches with an immersion blender or puree until smooth in your Vitamix or similar kitchen appliance. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


  by Fireweed for the Island Word, September 2016 issue

     Did you know that for five centuries in Europe, pigs (and other farmed animals) could actually be arrested for a perceived crime, then tried and convicted in a court of law?

Illustration from "Chambers Book of Days" depicting trial in 1475
     We tend to think of granting moral agency to other species as a contemporary phenomenon, but historian James McWilliams thinks that recognizing certain animals as individuals with unique personalities came more naturally to people in pre-industrial agrarian societies. Living in such close proximity to those they raised for food and other uses would have fostered what McWilliams refers to as “observational intimacy.” The resulting projections made by our ancestors onto the animals they still chose to dominate may befuddle us, but McWilliams' research into these odd trials is telling – somewhere along the way we lost our ability to empathize with farmed animals as sentient beings.

     It has been suggested that speciesism predates all other forms of domination, but we can certainly credit industrialization for a shift in attitude towards our fellow earthlings that has profoundly deepened that divide. Through automated exploitation existing on such a massive scale that any semblance of individuality is routinely disappeared and rendered irrelevant, factory farms produce almost 99% of the animal-derived foods consumed today. Animals have become “Ghosts In Our Machine”, described by Professor Will Kymlicka in reference to the documentary film by Liz Marshall, as “ubiquitous but invisible members of the community: essential in its functioning; the creators of its wealth, utterly governed and regulated by its laws and policies; and tyrannized by complete absence from political representation or participation.”

Anita Krajnc speaks with reporters outside courthouse, 8/24/16
     In a contemporary Canadian courtroom, however, pigs were recently afforded long overdue consideration thanks to a case that has generated international media attention. As reported previously in this column, activist Anita Krajnc was charged with criminal mischief last year for an act of mercy - providing water to over-heated pigs in the transport truck delivering them to a slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario. During the trial (now scheduled to reconvene on October 3rd), Anita and her legal team have been exposing the cruelty inherent in treating animals as mere commodities - not like someones, but somethings.

     For animal activists around the world it is the pig farming industry that is every bit as much on trial here - and the hypocrisy inherent in upholding some animal lives as worthy of protection while others count for nothing but profit. The BC SPCA's recent request for the public's assistance in finding whomever is responsible for leaving a deceased dog in a Coquitlam dumpster is one tragic case in point: that poor animal was determined by autopsy to have died from hyperthermia. There is no sound explanation why the lives of thousands of pigs found dead on arrival after transport in extreme temperatures each year throughout Canada should matter any less. Our laws are unjustly discriminatory. All pigs are as aware and sensitive to their surroundings as the companion animals we rightly treasure - none deserve to either suffer or die prematurely.

Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910
     Whether or not the court sentences Krajnc to jail time, Toronto Pig Save (the group she co-founded) will continue to hold vigils like the one that led to her arrest. Solidarity actions are taking place around the globe with new Save groups motivated by Krajnc's commitment to “putting personal faces on the nameless numbers.” Krajnc believes strongly that the act of bearing witness to injustice is a moral obligation. She is inspired in part by the Russian non-violence advocate and celebrated author Leo Tolstoy - “When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to she who suffers, and try to help her.” 

Thankyou Anita! #CompassionIsNotACrime

SPUDS  2016 Harvest, Denman Island
We've just completed our community organic potato patch harvest for another year here on Denman Island, and mmm...mmm, those spuds are delicious! Russians love their potatoes too, and in honour of vegetarian revolutionary Leo Tolstoy, the following variation on a theme is 100% vegan delicious!


14 ounces potatoes, cooked until tender
3/4 cup green peas
3 ounces carrots, cooked until tender
1 ounce chopped dill pickle                     
1/3 cup corn
0.6 ounce pickled onions
1/4 cup vegan mayo (Vegannaise, or Just Mayo)
1/3 cup soy yogurt (or see substitute below*)
2 T pickle jar vinegar, or 1 T umeboshi vinegar
1 pinch smoked paprika
chopped fresh dill to taste
1 pinch black pepper
sea salt to taste
4or 5 leaves romaine lettuce
optional: add chopped Field Roast sausage
substitute: a homemade, creamy cashew dressing
for store bought ingredients (recipe below)

Boil cob of organic corn for 3 minutes. Remove from pot. Dice carrots & potatoes into roughly 1/2 inch pieces & cook or steam until fork tender only. Set aside to cool. Chop pickled cucumber & onions. Whisk together wet ingredients in a large bowl. Add seasonings. Use a sharp knife to remove corn kernels from cob. Fold all cooled & chopped veggies together gently into the dressing. Add peas (can be raw or steamed). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove at least a half an hour before serving and add additional seasonings to taste. Gently fold in chopped sausage, and transfer to serving dish of choice on a bed of romaine lettuce leaves. Prijatnogo appetita!

SUBSTITUTE: Replace the store-bought vegan mayo and soy yogurt in my 'quick and easy' recipe above with the following creamy deliciousness! Soak 3/4 cup of raw cashews in warm water for a few hours. Pat dry, then combine in a blender with 1/3 cup olive oil, about 3 T of fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp of rice vinegar, 3 - 4 T of nutritional yeast, 3-4 T of almond milk, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 T dried dill, 1.5 tsp sea salt and 1.5 tsp black pepper (more to taste). Pulse blend until smooth. If you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, toss in raw cauliflower to expand volume, blend again and correct seasonings!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


               by Fireweed for the Island Word, May 2016 issue

Jordan & Athena
       Here's hoping that Jordan and Athena are already neck deep in mountain blueberries by now! Thankfully, the black bear siblings were in very good health at the time of their June release on Vancouver Island. Sufficient fat stores should help ease any difficulty transitioning back to life in the wild after their year-long stay at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. Orphaned at just a few months of age in Port Hardy, the cubs gained notoriety after it became widely known that the Conservation Officer responsible for their mother's death had refused an order to destroy them also. Bryce Casavant's defiance cost him his job, but today Athena and Jordan are back where they belong, roaming free.

click on image to enlarge
      Contact with humans was strictly prohibited while the cubs were in captivity in order to increase their chances for long term survival. Six other young bears who haven't shared the media spotlight were released the same week, but Jordan and Athena were fitted with GPS tracking devices. A bear's search for food is such a driving force, it's no surprise that their incredible sense of smell can also lead to their demise. Sadly, conservation officers destroy hundreds of so-called “nuisance bears” around the province every year. The village of Cumberland, here in the Comox Valley, is particularly challenged because it just so happens to
be on a main migratory route for the regional population. Senior Conservation Officer Dan Dwyer has stated that bear encroachment into urban areas seems to come in cycles (lack of rainfall being one precursor of note.) The recent, widespread devastation wrought by fire in northern Alberta pushed bears into the evacuated city of Fort McMurray, beckoned by the aroma of rotting garbage and thawing freezers. We can only hope to learn, in time, that Jordan and Athena are managing to survive as far away from human activities as possible.

Fort McMurray, May 2016
        Cumberland , and many other communities here in BC and beyond, are to be applauded for promoting public awareness campaigns aimed at reducing human/bear conflicts at the local level. Understanding the bigger environmental picture is also crucial. Shrinking habitat is the most serious threat to natural food access for wildlife all over the planet today. Yes, that problem is tied directly to human encroachment (of all kinds), but it is also exacerbated by the myriad ways we are collectively contributing to global climate change. Scientists predict that as the planet continues to warm, we can expect an increase in, and frequency of, the kind of terrifying wildfires that wiped out thousands of creatures and their homes in bone dry northern Alberta this spring (spreading toxic ash from the incineration of human habitat in their wake.) As that ravaged landscape slowly recovers, its entire ecology is likely to change. According to researchers with Audubon and World Wildlife Fund, rising ocean and air temperatures are already forcing animals to “chase” the habitats they are accustomed to. Astoundingly, roughly half of the world's species are currently on the move. The situation is already so dire that an estimated one in six is predicted to go extinct if warming continues at its current pace.

Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance in the Walbran
        It's all connected. Ottawa is finally recommending marine protected areas and fishery closures to try and help save the threatened killer whales off our coast. Vancouver Island black bears depend on those fish too. And they play a major role in the redistribution of salmon nutrients vital to the health of our temperate rainforests. That these biologically diverse ecosystems remain under attack is utterly unacceptable- we need to stop logging the old growth right now! Conservationists recognize that doing so would have the potential to significantly help reduce BC's overall carbon dioxide emissions and enhance the function of our natural carbon sinks. We've been duly warned that the world is on a path of catastrophic global warming and that we should seek to reduce emissions as much and as quickly as possible.

James Cameron
       China recently showed the world it's paying attention by going where no western government has dared to tread so far- it is alerting its citizens to the fact that animal agriculture is responsible for more GHG emissions globally than all transportation combined and urging major dietary reform. Movie director James Cameron (lesser known as the vegan owner of Beaufort Winery here in the Comox Valley), is one of the celebrity spokespeople recruited to help spread the word. “China's move to cut meat consumption in half would not only have a huge impact on public health,” he told the UK Guardian, “it is a massive leadership step towards drastically reducing carbon emissions and reaching the goals set out in the Paris agreement."

      There are so many wonderful new 100% plant-based products on the market today, that it's easier than ever for those of us with the privilege of choice to make compassionate, climate-friendly food choices seven days a week. The all vegan sausages, hot dogs and amazing burgers from “The Very Good Butchers” on Denman Island are one more great reason to come explore our wonderful Farmer's Market any Saturday morning this summer. And here's a novel, incredibly tasty recipe to make at home, then introduce to others at that next barbecue!

(with special thanks to Deborah Cooper 
for her original recipe on Blacks Going

thx to HighCarb Hannah for this photo

You'll need:
8-10 medium sized organic carrots
2 cups water
Marinade Ingredients:
2 TB. Liquid smoke
1/4 cup Bragg's Aminos or Tamari
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Veggie bouillon (or non-chicken) broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 TB. maple syrup

Peel carrots to uniform shape, rounding ends (size to fit your buns.) Simmer in boiling water only until fork tender (approx. 8-10 minutes, don't overcook!) Combine marinade ingredients. Drain al dente carrots and run under cold water to cool. Lay all carrots flat in the marinade (a zip style plastic freezer bag works well) and marinate for 6-24 hours (no longer.) Place carrots in a hot non-stick skillet with a bit of the marinade to caramelize and brown the exterior. Serve with all the traditional fixings on an organic bun, and enjoy!

Please visit the LINKS column on the right hand side of this page for article references along with more great summer recipe ideas. And thank you in advance for sharing The Transition Kitchen column!