3/13 – Join us for Black Tie Rave: A Benefit for Vegan Kalamazoo!

Join Vegan Kalamazoo and some of the Midwest’s top musical artists* for a classy occasion of celebration and raising awareness about vegan culture.

vegankalamazooravepicDate:   Friday, March 13th 2015

Time:   Doors/Socializing at 9pm; Music at 9:30pm; Event ends at 2:00 a.m.

Where: Shakespeare’s Lower Level, 241 East Kalamazoo Ave.

Food: Free vegan snacks will be provided. We also have many vegan drink specials planned including pineapple vodka screwdrivers and tequila Sunrises.

Cost:  $5 Presales. Purchase online.
$7 day of show (at door).
All proceeds go to help Vegan Kalamazoo
Bitcoin Donations: 1BLrbAWYbnhSR9Gg4zdueQDihQwRsm49uU

Formal dress i.e. Black Tie is requested but not required.

Veganism /ˈviːɡənɪzəm/ is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.

*Some of the best artists in the Midwest will be bringing you the entertainment, including:

Genre: minimal | deep house | techno | funky things


DJ Undersound
Genre: House

Hector Cruze
Genre: Subground QULT

For more information contact Chris Hendrickson.

3/5 – Join us for Cowspiracy with Special Guest Dr. Richard Oppenlander!

cowspiracyMarch 1: This event is sold out. Sorry!

Join us for a one-of-a-kind Kalamazoo event!

Join us for a special screening of Cowspiracy with one of its stars, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, author of the bestselling book Comfortably Unaware and founder of the Ope’s Naturals line of vegan foods. After the screening, Dr. Oppenlander will be available to answer your questions about animal agriculture’s effect on climate change.

The screening will be held in Kalamazoo’s coolest movie theater, Alamo Drafthouse, located right behind the Kalamazoo Mall. There’s plenty of free parking, and if you want you can order vegan snacks, dinner, and/or drinks from Alamo’s extensive and delicious menu.

Date and Time:  Thursday March 05, 7:30 p.m.

Where:  Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 180 Portage Street, Kalamazoocomfortablyunaware
(Directions and parking instructions)

Ticket Cost:  $5 per person (not including any food or drink purchases)

Seating is limited – we suggest you buy your tickets now. Sold out, sorry!

Movie description below – see you at this truly special Kalamazoo event!

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today  and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill. Yet it goes on, almost entirely unchallenged. As Andersen approaches leaders in the environmental movement, he increasingly uncovers what appears to be an intentional refusal to discuss the issue of animal agriculture, while industry whistleblowers and watchdogs warn him of the risks to his freedom and even his life if he dares to persist.

As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet, and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population.

Join us for Earthlings at the Natural Health Center – February 12

earthlingsPlease join us for a screening of Earthlings, the acclaimed documentary that looks at humanity’s use of animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and for scientific research. The film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, features music by Moby, was directed by Shaun Monson, and was co-produced by Maggie Q.

When:  Thursday, February 12, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Where: Natural Health Center, 4610 West Main (North of Drake), Kalamazoo, MI, 269-342-9459

Cost:  free; $2 donation to Vegan Kalamazoo requested but optional

RSVP on our Facebook OR Meetup page.

Notes:  There will be a short discussion after the screening. Also, Earthlings contains some graphic scenes depicting animal cruelty.

More info on Earthlings.

Yes There Really Is a Vegan Japan!

Here’s a fun writeup by Vegan Kalamazoo co-organizer Hillary Rettig about her recent trip to Japan. If you’ve had some good vegan food while traveling, please tell us about it!

Japan, the home of sushi and Kobe beef, is often considered unfriendly to vegans, but things are changing! My partner Jan Tobochnik and I visited for nearly three weeks, and in all of the major cities we had several vegan restaurants to choose from, which we usually found by searching on HappyCow. Here are three of the highlights:

Vegan ramen soup in Tokyo. Real ramen isn’t anything like the little packages of dried noodles we see here in the U.S.–it’s a robust blend of veggies, noodles, tofu, and spices that you can make a whole meal out of. Unfortunately, even “veggie” ramen is almost always made with fish broth, so most ramen is off limits to vegans. Imagine our surprise, then, to find a 100% vegan ramen place, Tam T’s, right in Tokyo’s main train station! The ramen was amazing, and there was almost always a line–nevertheless, we ate there several times!

A tofu taster’s menu in Hiroshima. We had an extraordinary “chef’s menu” at the Hiroshima location of Umenohana, a fancy restaurant chain. It featured around ten dishes, each one a different virtuoso preparation of tofu. The meal began with a pristine black rectangle of black-sesame-seed tofu; later came a dish of superdense tofu “pearls” in soup, some tofu “film,” and tofu “string cheese.” The waitress even made fresh tofu right at our table in a chafing dish! Dessert was yummy flavored tofu-and-miso lollipops.







“Monk’s Food” at Koyasan monastery. In Japan you can stay overnight in a Buddhist monastery, and partake of vegan meals served by monks. (In fact, one Japanese equivalent for “vegan” is “monk food.”) We stayed at a monastery at the top of beautiful-but-cold Mount Koya, and had yummy meals of vegetables, tofu, seaweeds, pickles, beans, noodles, and several other dishes.






Eating at the monastery. (Picture from Web.)

No Chicken CAFO in Otsego!

Bad news! An egg producer wants to open a concentrated-animal-feeding-operation (CAFO) in Otsego. This facility would house 480,000 egg-laying chickens in horribly unsanitary, crowded, and cruel conditions. Mlive reports: “People who have moved to the country for peace and quiet and clean air crowded the township hall at the commission’s Dec. 15 meeting to express their concerns.”

As usual, the CAFO owners are promising new jobs—even though CAFOs are highly automated and specifically designed to keep all costs, including labor costs, at rock bottom. The reality is that CAFOs create few jobs, and those jobs they do create tend to be poorly paid and abusive.

Contrary to many people’s belief that eggs are a humane food, there is more “death-per-calorie” in eggs than nearly any other animal product. One reason is that the 50% of newborn chicks who happen to be male (and, thus, non-egg-laying) get snuffed out shortly after birth. In some ways, they’re the lucky ones, since life for the females is an ongoing torment. The company proposing the Otsego CAFO is a distributor for van de Bunte, which claims to raise “happy chickens.” A Harpers reporter visited one of their supposedly “enriched” barns in November and reported:

  • “The air is dense with dander and dust and the smell of chickens and their ammoniac manure. The entire barn is bathed in dim, purplish lighting….Flakes of feed, dander, feathers, and excrement waft through the barn and settle over the cages. The dust gathers and accumulates, turning into a dense coating of grime that attracts flies and makes it hard to breathe. Cleaning chemicals could kill the hens, so the barns are deep-cleaned only every year and a half to two years, when a bird colony is sent to slaughter….[Farmers] set up enormous vents at the front of the barn and giant fans at the back to draw the ammonia – laden air out and fresh air in, but this process creates different problems. The fans blow bits of feather and excrement out into nearby communities, forests, water, and preserves, destroying habitats. In one recent case, the ventilation fans of a 3 million – hen farm sent nearly 5 million pounds of pollutants in the direction of a wildlife refuge a mile down wind.”

    “The sound of 147,000 chickens is sort of an overwhelming roiling moaning or droning, and it reaches the ears in what I can only describe as layers….The hens scuttle away from us as we pass, trampling one another with alarming violence to get to the backs of their cages.”

The Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club has a good page on the environmental damage caused by CAFOs.

Please don’t participate in the violence of eating eggs. You don’t need them for your baking, and your arteries don’t need their unhealthy cholesterol at all. And please join us at the next Otsego planning meeting on Tuesday, February 2, at 7:00 p.m. at the Otsego Township Hall to speak up for the locals and the chickens against exploitative agribusiness.

Michael Pollan Overlooks Veganism at WMU Talk

Intrepid vegan reporter (and VK cofounder) Chris Hendrickson attended Michael Pollan’s recent talk at WMU, and wrote up his exclusive report for us below. Thanks, Chris!

On Thursday November 6th, author Michael Pollan gave a speech at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium as part of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation Annual Community Meeting, and over 3,000 people were in attendance including myself. I was personally curious about what Mr. Pollan would be talking about as I had read his book The Botany of Desire in college as a part of my Systematic Botany class at WMU. I was also secretly hoping that he would mention Vegan Kalamazoo’s Open Letter to Michael Pollan published as an Opinion Editorial on mlive.com just a day before the event.

An introduction was given by Kalamazoo Community Foundation CEO Carrie Pickett-Erway, and then Pollan took the stage. He started his speech by stating that all he knew of Kalamazoo was the song “I Got A Girl In Kalamazoo” and Derek Jeter. Pollan spoke for about an hour and, for the most part, talked about his new book, Cooked. This lecture topic struck me as a bit odd as the Kalamazoo Community Foundation website for the event stated, “Pollan will talk with us about the importance of a healthy food system and healthy food.”. Pollan made little discussion of this stated subject during the bulk of his speech while providing attendees a verbal summary of Cooked.

Although initially disappointed–I had come with higher expectations than to hear an hour long plug for his book–I sat with an open mind and listened diligently. Pollan made some very interesting points about how cooking is what helped our species, Homo sapiens, evolve from our common ape ancestors, and how different flavors in cooked food correspond to the regional presence of certain plant species. I really found that last bit enlightening and feel excited to try more geographically-specific vegan dishes such as chickpea wat from Ethiopia and aloo gobi from India. Pollan discussed the invention of revolutionary technologies such as using fire to externally digest meals for easier consumption and pottery use to allow for soups to be created which helped feed young children and older adults. These inventions allowed for our increased brain development and extension of the human lifespan.

After the overview of Cooked, Pollan and Pickett-Erway sat down in comfy chairs on stage and had an informal question and answer session that lasted about 20 minutes. Pickett- Erway hand picked the questions and didn’t make reference to any questions (my question) about health and veganism. They discussed Pollan’s solutions to food instability for children, how people should get together and discuss food options as a community, and what Pollan would prepare for a group of twenty at a dinner party. Pollan noted that he would ask about dietary restrictions but suggested albacore tuna caught fresh from the Pacific. I found this an odd choice given the known presence of mercury and other toxins in tuna.

Overall, I am happy I went but felt that Pollan missed a huge opportunity to advance the audience’s understanding of how to ethically produce healthy food for a community such as Kalamazoo. Vegan diets are scientifically proven to be healthy for all ages of life, infinitely more sustainable than nonvegan ones, allow for support of local farmers, and are no question a more ethical choice. Pickett-Erway and Pollan openly advocated for animal product consumption, specifically Otto’s Chicken. Pollan referenced that McDonald’s fries are “delicious” and insinuates that hamburgers, cheese, milk and other unhealthy products of animal agriculture are completely acceptable and just. As we stated in our open letter to Pollan, this is not acceptable and we will continue to advocate in opposition of these viewpoints. They are no longer justifiable in our community and are in direct conflict with our current understanding of what is considered healthy, regardless of being cooked or not.

Vegan Kalamazoo’s Letter About Michael Pollan Published in MLive!

Published here.

And here’s the text in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Pollan,

We are thrilled to hear that you are coming to Kalamazoo. We appreciate the work you do educating people about the perils of industrial foods. We are 100 percent in favor of advocating awareness about where our food comes from. And, like you, we support local farmers and proper treatment of our environment.

What we don’t understand is your continued advice to eat “mostly” plants. In an increasingly crowded and depleted world, how can anything except a 100 percent plant-based (vegan) diet be the moral choice when animal agriculture not only uses up so many more resources than plants, but is a huge driver of both climate change and deforestation?

How can it be the moral choice when animal agriculture is such a huge abuser of both animals and people? The horrors it perpetrates on animals are becoming increasingly well known, despite the industry’s constant attempts to cover them up. However, its labor abuses are also terrible — so much so, in fact, that in 2005 Human Rights Watch issued its first-ever report about a U.S. industry on conditions in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants.

On your website, you refer to the “shame of killing,” but then say, “I’m not a vegetarian because I enjoy eating meat.” We appreciate your candor, but why does something shameful become acceptable just because you happen to enjoy the result?

Your talk is part of Western Michigan University’s “Healing Arts” series. How does eating animal products fit into that theme when countless studies show that people who eat more meat, dairy, and eggs suffer from more heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other maladies? You presumably wouldn’t suggest “mostly” not-smoking, so why is it okay to suggest “mostly” eating plants?

Finally, how can you encourage all of the above negative outcomes when eating animal products is wholly unnecessary? In 2009, the American Dietetic Association released a statement endorsing vegan diets as “healthful” and “appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

Thanks for reading. We hope you enjoy your stay in Kalamazoo, and look forward to you addressing these questions in your talk.