Monday 4/25: Living Vegan Social Club Pot Luck (Portage)

Living Vegan is a social group/discussion group where we come together informally for fun times and fun discussions. Need a recipe? A vegan fashion tip? Tips for dealing with non-vegan family/friends? You’ll get it all at Living Vegan! We also have plenty of fun discussions on non-vegan topics like movies, TV, gardening, photography, and science fiction. And sometimes there’s a pool game or two!

The Portage Living Vegan Social Club will meet Monday, April 25 at 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the home of Laurie Oldfather, 10252 S.Westnedge Ave., Portage. Bring any vegan dish; Laurie will provide plates, utensils, beverages, dips, and veggies.

Parking at Laurie’s house is limited so it is suggested that people park across the street at the curb on Cliffwood Ave and walk over.

RSVP requested in advance on our Meetup (preferred) or Facebook page.

As always, at Vegan Kalamazoo events, everyone is welcome, including vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, and vegans-in-progress.

Monday 3/28: The Connection Between Eating Animals and Worldwide Violence

Tolstoy famously said, “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will always be battlefields.” The link between carnivory (eating animals) and violence has long been recognized, and is one reason many of history’s top thinkers, including Hippocrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Shaw, Einstein, Gandhi, and of course, Tolstoy himself, were vegetarian or vegan.

But just how real is this link, and how does eating animals affect us?

Come join us for a presentation and discussion on this fascinating and important topic.

Our presenter is Nathan Poirier, a graduate student of Anthrozoology at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. Nathan’s work focuses on Critical Animal Studies and the framing, perception, and implications of “techno-fixes” for issues including conservation, diet, and human population. In 2015 he organized a Rewilding conference at Aquinas College. Nathan also has an M.A. in mathematics, and has taught math at Western Michigan University and Aquinas College. He lives in Kalamazoo with his partner, Erin, a statistician.

Date: Monday, March 28

Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Venue: Kalamazoo Library Central Branch

Cost: Free. An optional $2/person donation is requested to help defray expenses.

Note: There is no evening Living Vegan potluck this month! Come to this discussion instead!

RSVP at our Meetup (preferred) or Facebook page.

Everyone, including vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious, is always welcome at Vegan Kalamazoo Events.

Advance Reading (read some or all of the below!):

• World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle

• Animal Oppression and Human Violence by David Nibert (scholarly)

• We Animals (Jo-Anne McArthur, photojournalism)

• The Ghosts In Our Machine (video documentary on hidden animal violence)

Marathon and Dog Walk Report

Lots of great news and happenings to report! Vegan Kalamazoo tabled at the Marathon and the Dog Walk, so thousands more people now know that, yes, there really is a vegan Kalamazoo!

The most exciting things were:

marathonoriginal-edited1) The many surprised and happy shout-outs we got from vegan-friendly runners at the Marathon. And,

2) The fact that we were one of three animal rights / animal welfare organizations tabling at the Dog Walk. Also present were All Species Kinship, who brought along Rosa, an adorable rescued “spokeschicken” for compassionate living, and the Michigan chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, which does phenomenal work advocating for all sorts of animals.

When people see three booths advocating for compassionate living, our cause no longer looks fringe, but part of a powerful movement that is becoming more and more mainstream.

So, how do you like our new tee shirts? (Modeled by Hillary and Nathan Poirier, who organized the recent excellent Rewilding Conference at Aquinas College.) We’re selling them for $20–if you’d like one, email Hillary and she’ll arrange to get it to you. Remember that tee shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, letters to the editor, and other public expressions of veganism are fantastic activism! Speaking of which….

If you haven’t checked out, lately, you might want to. Our Restaurants and Food Stores section now includes many great options, and we’ve also got some Vegan Neighbors for you to meet. (If you have a food entry or correction, or would like to be featured on our Neighbors page, please email Hillary.

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 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.