Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No Time To Spare Raw Potluck Hit!

Raw Potluck Recipe Gets Ooohs and Aaahs Every Time!
People cannot get enough of it.  It is the Raw Not-Chips that surprise everyone!

Not-Chips and Guacamole

Make your favorite guacamole recipe.  

For those of you who need a recipe for the guacamole, here is a yummy one.  (I do not like pre-made quacamole you can get in tubs in the store. There is nothing like FRESH avocados.)

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • juice of 1/2 small lime (do not substitute bottled lemon or lime juice!)
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  1. Cut avocados in half, remove seed, then scoop out fruit into a medium bowl.
  2. Mash avocados with a large utensil until they are at a slightly creamy, but still rustic consistency
  3. Chop tomatoes into small cubes
  4. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and chopped cilantro to avocados and stir well
  5. Add more salt and pepper and cayenne to taste
Now that your guacamole is made....Slice fresh uncooked organic yams or sweet potatoes.  (You can use any of the mandoline style slicers or a knife and a steady hand.
I use the Benriner slicer and adjust it to the thickness I want my yam not-chips to be.)

(I prefer to leave the skins on the slices)

Slice your yams (or sweet potatoes) just thick enough to hold up to the quacamole dipping and arrange them around the guacamole.  That is it.  Do not cook the yams.  Do not slice them too far in advance because they will dry out.  Just before serving is best. Dipping these slices of raw yam into the guacamole is crunchy perfection.  

Slowing Down and Watching the Insects

Sometimes it is hard to see what we have in common with other humans and it's even more difficult to notice what we have in common with other species.

Last week while I was at Sasha Farm to speak at their annual banquet, I got to witness something that opened my heart up even further to the non-human animals.  I woke up in the morning and the 7 rescued cows outside the window were all watching the sky.  The clouds opened up a bit and there was a small patch of sun on a little hill in the distance.  They moved toward it in unison and when they arrived at the spot, they all laid down next to each other and tipped their faces toward the sun.  Seeking comfort and not wanting to suffer is something all beings have in common.  These are fellow mammals and even then, it is difficult for most people to make the changes necessary to not exploit them and cause them needless suffering.

We are still at our solar rv spot in Arizona.  Young calves have been branded and released to graze in the public land around us.  I have heard dozens of people express sadness at how forlorn these young calves seem and how little there is for them to eat (let alone drink) in this dry sparse desert.  The same people who are expressing this kind of compassion and concern are eating beef everyday.  One 16 year old Canadian boy said to me yesterday, "I could never be vegetarian, I love that Alberta beef too much."  The same boy practically melts at the sight of a cat or dog, he loves them so much.  When I asked if he loves that taste more than he loves animals, he said "I guess so." How can we slow our lives down enough to connect with each other and other species on a deeper level?  I am so busy that I have not taken the time to connect much with this boy.  That might make a difference.

A couple here in the park who dove fully into the vegan world about a month ago, shared something with me yesterday.  When we first met J and L, we told them we were vegan.  When we left their place, J said to L, "Well, we will never be friends with them, they think they are better than us."  The reality is that whenever people learn that someone doesn't drink or eat animals products, they assume that the person is self righteous.  How can we make it any clearer?  How can we let folks know that we don't care which human is better than another....we just want people to care enough about other species that they don't torture them for entertainment, food, clothing, product testing, etc.  We do not go around thinking we are better than anyone else.  We simply want to be a voice for those without a voice in society.  I know that if I am in a hurry, I may share my choices in a less mindful way.  I need to slow down more.  And I wonder if there was anything I really could have said that would have given them a different first impression.

When I simplify life and slow down enough to watch insects, I know I am doing something right in my life.  When I slow down,  I am a better communicator and I see more of what is around me.

This true slowing down doesn't happen often enough.  You may remember in another blog I talked about the dung beetle in Florida who created a backpack out of a dry leaf so he could carry more manure.  He piled the leaf high with manure and then dug himself under the leaf and trotted off. Brilliant.

A Sonoran Tiger Beetle fell into our water bucket outside the other day.  I didn't know if he was dead or not by the time I noticed him.  I gently scooped him up and placed him on a piece of dry wood.  Then I watched the most graceful drying off dance I have ever seen.  He tipped his head from right to left slowly and dried himself with one arm and then the other.  He gently stroked each of his wings.  I couldn't stop watching this amazing dance.  Even the smallest of the creatures around us wants to survive and does not want to suffer needlessly.  Eventually, after about 15 minutes of self pampering, he flew off.  I know, I know....I said I was too busy to connect with the Canadian boy, but I made time for the beetle.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Well, after publishing that last posting, JC enlightened me a bit.
I have a live in climate change expert and didn't consult him!
Apparently, earthquakes are not part of the climate change we are experiencing. 
The quirky weather patterns are in a class of their own and earthquakes are apparently just
part of life on earth.

I will watch the comments to see if this is common knowledge. 


“I can’t believe it!”  “I don’t understand this.”  “It makes no sense.” 
These are the types of comments I heard all week while in the Midwest for my father's surgery.  While there, one of my folk’s best friends (relatively young woman) died of heart failure, my mother’s sister was diagnosed with colon cancer and Tokyo was slammed with a historical earthquake.  The day after my father’s surgery, I offered to make a (vegan) meal for him and some other relatives and the relatives chose to bring three types of meat rather than take a chance on what I was making.

Believe it or not, all of the scenarios above are connected.
They are linked by our choices as humans and the consequences of these choices. 
Tokyo’s earthquake does make sense when you see it through the lens of cause and effect. The regularity of unusual and extreme weather is the kind of climate change we have been warned about for many years.  Climate change is not just happening to us, we are creating it. 
The diseases that are plaguing humans are, in most cases, not just happening to them.  Our culture and individual choices have created many of them. 

The choices we made and are making are showing up as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and other “epidemics”.  Our choices have brought us to the point where pharmaceuticals companies are happily marketing  to people of all ages.  Most people are choosing to take pills rather than make lifestyle changes.
The majority of people dealing with health issues, from diabetes to heart disease, cancer and strokes are, in most cases, dealing with preventable diseases.   While it is true that some people are predisposed to certain diseases, they can choose a healthy lifestyle that will increase their chances of beating the odds.  We are not trained from a young age to take responsibility for our own health. 

Animal agriculture is the number one contributor to human induced global warming.   When we make choices that contribute to our declining health or the destruction of our once healthy environment, most people hope that some expert will come along and save the day…clean up the mess that we have created.  Most people do not decide that they will look at their part in the situation and take responsibility.

In response to major environmental or health crisis , when I hear the comment “I can’t believe it!”  I think, “I totally believe it.” When I hear “It makes no sense”, I think, “It makes total sense.” 
What does not make sense to me are the times when we have the information to choose differently and do not do it. 

We humans have a hard time taking responsibility for what we have created.  One of the most mature responses to a conflict between you and another person is to admit your part in the situation and do things differently at the next opportunity.  The same is true when it comes to our response to the current environmental crisis or a personal health crisis.  The most mature response would be to admit our part and do things differently...whenever possible....beginning NOW. 

Here at our solar rv park, there are people who are starting to take responsibility for their own health by learning about healthy plant-based nutrition.  We taught a well-attended Vegan 101 class here yesterday. 

I want to be sympathetic and caring with those around me who are dealing with health issues.  And I have to admit that it is not always easy when I am standing face to face with a neighbor who recently had a stroke and he is grilling cheeseburgers or another neighbor who has heart disease but says to me: "I could never give up meat."

And, JC and I continue, as we have done for decades now. We share the information with those who are open minded and open hearted enough to hear it……we plant the seeds and hope that they find fertile ground to grow in. 

May we all find the strength to care for ourselves and the compassion to care for the earth and all life.

Eat Your Greens!

Delicious Raw Kale Salad


One bunch of kale
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
Fresh squeezed juice of two lemons
One teaspoon of olive oil
One teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
One clove garlic
A pinch of cayenne pepper


1.) Rip the leaves of the kale into tiny pieces (I don't use the stems)
2.) Add the lemon juice and sea salt.
3.) Massage the mixture for about 10 minutes.
4.) Add the cayenne, garlic, oil, and balsamic vinegar.
5.) Mix
6.) Eat right away or chill and eat the next day.
(you can add tomatoes, shredded carrots, cukes or eat as is..... )

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our Primate Relatives....

For this blog I am going to share pieces from two incredible voices for other species.
First the bad news then the sweet news....

4300 primates are being held captive at the Oregon National Primate Lab. At least 50 of them are part of an obesity study there.
From Marc Bekoff's blog: The monkeys are fattened up by giving them lots of rich, fattening food, and kept in small cages so they can't have any exercise, as if this sort of regime is going to tell us much about human obesity. Monkeys don't normally eat like this and are very active so the way in which they're treated is thoroughly abnormal and severely compromises their well being. It's highly likely that they're stressed and researchers are concerned about how stress compromises the reliability of the data they collect. So, even if one doesn't care about how these monkeys are treated, indeed a frightening thought, we should all be concerned about whether the data are relevant to the questions at hand. Some of the monkeys will also undergo gastric surgery and be euthanized, a sanitized way of saying they're killed so that their pancreas and brain can be examined.

Now the sweet story.....
Some of you know Rick Bogle from his tireless work with the Primate Freedom Tour.  Others know his work with Alliance for Animals in Madison.  
Rick told me this story when I was in Madison and I was so moved, I wanted to share it with you.  Included are photos from the hotel and sanctuary where the story took place:

The cages at the hotel where Pepe, Jackie, and Becky were kept for 30 years
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         "In 2000 and 2001 I served as a volunteer at Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the central highlands of Cameroon.

On my first trip, there were only three adult chimpanzees there –
chimpanzees whose long term confinement in separate cages had led
veterinarian Sheri Speede to abandon her practice in Portland, Oregon and move to Cameroon. After meeting them, she had made a promise to them that she would return and find a way to rescue them.

They were being kept in a row of three cages. The chimpanzee in the middle cage could touch the other two through the bars, but the two on the ends could not touch each other. I wasn’t there to witness their move from the hotel where they had been kept for nearly thirty years, to their new quarters at Sanaga-Yong, but I heard that these three chimpanzees, when finally together, two of them being able to touch each other for the first time in three decades, just couldn’t stop
hugging each other.

I got to know these three chimpanzees fairly well. There were two
males, Jackie and Pepe, and Becky. At first, they were housed in a
very large sort of house-cage, maybe forty feet on a side and maybe
fifteen feet high. Eventually they also had access to forty or so
acres of climax rain forest.

I sat for many hours grooming and being groomed by Pepe. We would sit in front of each other with the bars between us. The bars were far enough apart that we could reach easily through to give each other a hug. Pepe would let me search over his body and would turn around to let me comb through the hair on the back of his head and neck.  I would look through his hair, or clean the dirt from under his nails. He would let me look into his mouth, in his ears, and seemed to enjoy being touched.

Then he would do the same to me, searching through the hair on my
head, through my beard. He would gently pull at my eyelashes. He would pull my pants legs up and groom my legs. Sometimes he would pull my shirt up and explore my stomach and chest, and then turn me around to examine my back.

The bars between us gave me some security. Chimpanzees seem to have a more volatile emotional response to the world than we do. If Pepe was in a particularly boisterous mood, I was able to sit near-by without risk of him grabbing me a bit too roughly.

Sometimes, we would tickle each other. Pepe loved for me to tickle
him, and he would tickle me back, sometimes a bit too chimpanzee-like for my comparatively weak human body. But it was all in good fun.
Once, when we were both laughing and digging our fingers into each other, I jerked my head back and one of his finger nails scratched me across the nose and causing me to bleed rather profusely. It was a
complete accident.

For the rest of my stay, whenever we would groom each other, Pepe
studiously avoided the wound and eventual scab, an odd thing because any wound is always of the greatest interest to chimpanzees grooming each other. I can’t know with certainty, but Pepe seemed to know that he had wounded me, and by ignoring it, he seemed to be expressing some remorse or maybe a little guilt.

On my second trip to Sanaga-Yong, there were an additional maybe two dozen young chimpanzees, all rescued from the market or from dismal captive situations. The nursery for the older children was an electric fence enclosure of about five acres that included a building that was divided into sleeping quarters for the chimpanzees and a separate very small room for a volunteer to sleep in.

There were six very high energy young chimpanzees there when I
visited. I slept in the nursery. While I was there I was a nursemaid
to a young putty-nosed guenon who slept with me. In the morning, when the boisterous kids next door started rustling around, I would get up and take Monkey (a creative name) to a cage while I fed the young chimpanzees.

I made formula and pabulum for them which I served to them in plastic cups when I opened the door to their sleeping quarters. It was always pandemonium when they ran out looking for their cups of morning cereal.

The electric fence around the enclosure was about ten feet high; the
strands of wire were spaced about four inches apart. After eating and
throughout the day, one of the chimpanzees would approach the fence and touch it very briefly, obviously checking to see if it would still hurt them. After they ate, I would sit with them for a few hours as they chased each other in and out of the trees.

One of the young chimpanzees had an odd habit that he indulged every morning after breakfast, while everyone else was running around. Hewould gather little pieces of wood and small stones and arrange them. If it had been a human child doing this no one would have doubted that he was lost in some make believe world of his own. This is exactly what it looked like to me, and precisely what I thought he was doing.

Eventually one of his play mates would charge through and scatter his toys and he would join in the seemingly endless melee.

I learned to be careful when I was sitting with them. I sat with my
back to the building or the fence to avoid being ambushed from behind by a thirty pound ball of energy. They liked to use me as a sort of jungle gym and would climb all over me.

One day, after a wrestling bout with them, I was taking a break and
sitting with my back to the fence. They had decided to play among
themselves for the moment, and so I was sitting alone. My shirt was
soaked with perspiration, and I was winded from my workout with them.
In a lapse of attention, I leaned back a little too far and was hit by
about 9000 volts – the current pulsing off and on through the wires.

I shouted out and recoiled from the fence. I was immediately the
center of attention. The six young apes surrounded me – not interested in wrestling for a moment, but being very concerned and consoling, hugging me, and wanting to inspect my back.

It was clear to me that they had all been similarly shocked previously and were concerned for me. Their empathy for my experience and sympathy for my pain were obvious and appreciated. The moment lasted only two or three minutes but was one of sharing and concern. They made me feel much better.

A few minutes later one of them jumped on my head started pulling my ear again."

The young chimpanzee who seemed to have an imaginary world, Bikol.



Thank you Marc and Rick for your wonderful work for all species.