Queens elementary school cafeteria goes vegetarian!  »

While students at the Active Learning Elementary School in Queens are free to bring whatever lunch they want from home, the school cafeteria will now be serving exclusively vegetarian meals. Apparently, they had already been serving veggie meals three days a week, and health is a big focus of the educational mission there.

The school of nearly 400 students, from pre-kindergarten to third grade, was founded five years ago on the principle that a healthy lifestyle leads to strong academic achievement.

"We decided on a vision where health and nutrition would be a part of educating the whole child," school principal Bob Groff said….

"The vegetarian menu fits right in with our mission, and we are thrilled that our students in pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade three understand the importance of healthy and nutritious meals," Groff said in a statement.

New York schools — which provide meals for 1.1 million students daily—offer principals vegetarian and nonvegetarian lunch options. Groff worked closely with the department so that the menu changes came at no additional cost to the school.

Pretty amazing. Would you have imagined this was a possibility in today’s America? I’m amazed. I also can’t believe the beef industry isn’t breaking down the principal’s door with pitchforks. You go, Mr. Groff!


Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »


It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!

I’m psyched to let you know that HSUS worked with L.A.’s school system to implement a Meatless Monday program for all L.A. public schools (K-12). Every Monday, all 650,000 meals they serve are now all-vegetarian. It’s my honor to be on CNN HLN tonight discussing this news with the always-wonderful Jane Velez-Mitchell. You can watch the segment here—please share it!

Colorado’s legislature held a hearing this week on a bill to ban the cruel tail-docking of dairy cows. Despite the practice being opposed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, dairy farmers still shamefully defended the practice at the hearing.

NPR’s “On the Media” had a very worthwhile interview about the meat industry’s efforts to silence whistleblowers by passing laws to ban undercover investigations by HSUS and fellow great animal protection groups. Check it out.

Finally, you may be interested in this op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the horsemeat scandal.

Video of the week: Birds just wanna have fun…


Michelle Obama’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge cookbook is here! Featuring Alexea Wagner’s Vegan Sloppy Joes!  »

US First Lady Michelle Obama hugs her introducer, 12-year-old Marshall Reid from North Carolina and author of “Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family,” during a Kids’ “State Dinner” in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on Aug. 20. This first time event includes 54 children, ages 8-12, from all US states, three territories and Washington, DC, to a luncheon in support of the Let’s Move campaign, featuring healthy recipes and a performance by Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush.

Remember last month, when we talked about Michelle Obama and Epicurious’ Healthy Lunchtime Challenge? Remember, kids from across the country submitted healthy recipes, and one from each state (plus three “territories” and poor old D.C.) won inclusion in the recipe book and a trip to attend a Kids’ State Dinner at the White House? And we got really excited because one of the recipes, by Nevadan Alexea Wagner, was explicitly vegan? Time to get excited again, Kinder Krunchies, because the free e-cookbook is available! 

The winning recipe-writers and their parents were feted on Monday at the White House, by the First Lady (and the President), where they served a few of the kids’ recipes, including Arizonan Haile Thomas’ vegan-by-default quinoa, black bean, and corn salad. Haile, by the way, is ridiculously precocious, particularly in the kitchen. Basically she’s a ringer, and we hope our hero Alexea got enough to eat at that omnivorous luncheon.

You can download the cookbook here [pdf], if you’re interested. As for the proud vegan: “I saw sloppy joes at school, but I wanted to make sure they were cruelty-free,” says Alexea, who serves this with kale salad that has shredded carrot, spicy pecans, and sliced strawberries, and a big glass of soy milk.

Still rules!

For your convenience, the following recipes are secretly vegan:
Arizonan Haile Thomas’ quinoa, black bean, and corn salad;
Coloradan Aiden Gould’s rainbow salad with black beans, mint, and lemon;
Delawarean Jourdann Latney’s stuffed tomatoes;
Marylander Samuel Hightower’s sizzling tofu with green onions and sugar snap peas;
Michigander Avery McNew’s apple oat balls!;
Utahan Lahav Ardi’s lentil veggie soup;
and West Virginian Alexis Nelson’s golden Moroccan butternut stew (less the honey I KNOW).

There are also a good number of vegan-except-for-cheese recipes, or easy veg-protein-for-meat substitutions. I realize I sound like I’m trying to sell you on this book, which is predicated on the idea that there is a CHILDHOOD OBESITY EPIDEMIC OH NO THE CHILDREN ARE FATTENING, which we at Vegansaurus find generally gross. But getting kids cooking is great! Especially if it’s vegan food! If nothing else, you don’t have to worry about them accidentally contracting a terrifying food-borne illness if you don’t bring illness-bearing foods into your kitchen.

You can see more utterly charming photos from the Kids’ State Dinner at NBC News, and  download the cookbook [pdf] at Epicurious. Invite some Happy Veggie Kids into your kitchen!

[Photo by Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images via NBC News]


Veganism and privilege: A Vegansaurus editorial  »

We had a post the other day about veggies being cheaper than people acknowledged, and it garnered some responses that called it insensitive to greater structures of food politics. We know the cost of food isn’t the sole determiner in the diet of many people, but the fact remains that many people think veganism is expensive because fruits and veggies are more expensive than non-vegan food.

That post brings to light studies that have shown that veggies are actually not expensive when compared to other foods. It didn’t say that everyone can walk to the corner and buy vegetables. The studies simply show that veggies are actually more affordable then they are made out to be. If we don’t have that information, we can’t move on to discuss what does make vegetables unaffordable or inaccessible.

When someone writes in response to that post that “this is (a big part of) why I am done with vegansaurus and the main(er)stream veg* activism framework,” it troubles us. It makes us think that you’re not reading the site very closely. Which is fair, there are about 10,000 posts a day. However, this isn’t the first post we’ve ever had about food accessibility. We’ve written about food accessibility on Vegansaurus many times, and about healthy school lunches—which affects children with limited options and resources—on multiple occasions. We understand the difference between poverty and college-educated living-on-a-tight-budget.

It bothers us that people consistently use “privilege” as an attack against veganism. Yes, being able to make decisions about your food is a privilege—for this very reason, many people with little options are in fact vegetarian or vegan, by default. But food decisions aren’t the only privilege; caring about and fighting an issue that doesn’t directly affect you is a privilege. Any animal rights activist has the privilege of time and energy to dedicate to helping animals. That, really, is beyond privilege. It’s a responsibility. If you are able to, you should be helping others. If you are able to, you should be vegan.

Honestly, we’ve never had a genuinely poor person say tell us that “being vegan is expensive;” it’s always people in our socio-economic group. We’re not swimming in riches, and maybe even paying rent is hard sometimes, but if you are wealthy enough to live on your own, or even with a few roommates, you are wealthy enough to be vegan. How many times have we heard the argument “WHAT ABOUT KIDS IN AFRICA WHO DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO EAT? ARE YOU GOING TO FORCE THEM TO BE VEGAN?” To which we say A) you totally think Africa is a country, don’t you?; and B) NO, We’re talking about your privileged ass, you cask-ale-drinking jerk.

We recognize that having food choices is privileged; we also realize that having internet access and tumblr accounts and time to write about the things we care about is privileged. Having time to read about the things you care about is a privilege. That’s how we know most people who are reading this post right now have the ability to go vegan—right now.

While you’re at it, you can also work on food sovereignty, and preaching to other liberals who fully understand food deserts about how they’re not liberal enough to understand food deserts in the same complex way that you do. Now get out there and start baking vegan fair-trade organic cupcakes and delivering them on bike to your West Oakland neighbors. We’ll do the same.

This Vegansaurus editorial was brought to you by Meave, Megan and Laura! xoxoxo!


Hello, vegan sushi! Today’s food porn comes from friend of Vegansaurus Joshua Katcher's write-up of the Healthy Food in Fashion event held last week in NYC!
Healthy Food in Fashion included a fashion show, silent auction, and vegan food and drinks, and was a fundraiser for the New York Coalition for Healthy Food, which works to get “healthier, delicious, plant-based foods” into New York public schools. We love healthy school lunches! Further, and possibly more importantly, that sushi looks delectable. Go read about the whole thing on Ecouterre, already!
[photo by Amanda Coen]

Hello, vegan sushi! Today’s food porn comes from friend of Vegansaurus Joshua Katcher's write-up of the Healthy Food in Fashion event held last week in NYC!

Healthy Food in Fashion included a fashion show, silent auction, and vegan food and drinks, and was a fundraiser for the New York Coalition for Healthy Food, which works to get “healthier, delicious, plant-based foods” into New York public schools. We love healthy school lunches! Further, and possibly more importantly, that sushi looks delectable. Go read about the whole thing on Ecouterre, already!

[photo by Amanda Coen]


Give the children what they want: chocolate milk!  »

Big Ag and six-year-olds agree—chocolate milk in schools! Wait, wait, so I’m being told that children want a sugary, chocolate drink with their school lunches? No way! My eyes must be playing a joke on me when I read that Big Ag is arguing that fruit juices have just as much sugar as chocolate milk, so chocolate milk is the OBVIOUS choice. Plus, you know, if first-graders aren’t drinking milk, they will have calcium deficiencies, as everyone knows the only way to get calcium is milk.

NOT! Human animals can get calcium the same way cows do—by eating leafy greens. And I’m not trying to say six-year-olds aren’t sharp, but I wanted a unicorn in first grade.* Just sayin’.

Aw, remember these videos? Too bad it’s all lies and dairy milk causes clogged arteries! Gross. Almond milk will make you strong! Unless you’re allergic—then you just might get hives. Hemp? Oatmeal? Soy? There is a whole slew of delicious alternatives!

*While I pined for a unicorn, other kiddies were off saving the world with veggie recipes. Here’s my favorite cornbread recipe, created by an 11-year-old, Dana Sly! It turns out perfect every time I make it!


When we turn around in the place just right…it’s this week’s link-o-rama!  »

You have GOT to read the story of Tiny Tim the paraplegic nine-week-old raccoon kit who, thanks to Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue Center, underwent successful back surgery and has both full use of his limbs AND a best raccoon kit pal called Amy. [Further details about YUWRC at the end of the links.]

International governmental long-term healthcare plans: Eat shit, die
Apparently, while “beef” is getting more and more expensive, cattle ranchers are getting poorer and poorer, because four packing houses control everything and the USDA doesn’t enforce its regulations. The Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act—which includes the Healthy School Lunch program—is stuck in Congress, thanks to the Senate, which changed the bill to take some of its funds from the food stamp program, and there’s not much time left to pass it at all. In England, Parliament is debating the Sustainable Livestock Bill, which would reward free-range farmers, and cut back on the meat served in schools, hospitals, and prisons—and big fancy chefs support it. Marion Nestle is totally grossed out but not at all surprised by the government cheese article in The Times; still, she says, it’s good news that people are paying attention to the USDA’s massive conflict of interest.

On the other hand, a Chinese journalist who organized parents of children who suffered from the melamine-tainted milk in 2008 was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for “inciting social disorder.” Hundreds of thousands of infants got sick, but don’t you complain about it! Maybe we should complain about the “news” that this totally awesome carcinogen has been leaking into every single comestible sold by a fast-food company, because it’s in the waxy stuff that keeps the grease from leaking. Although it’s not super-new news; in 2008 the California Legislature passed a bill banning it and eight of its cousins from all food packaging—but ol’ Arnold vetoed it, because he loves the chemical lobby.

Foods in the news
New York magazine is totally into vegetables now. People who value vegetables over meat—but still enjoy a little animal flesh, yum!—are “vegivores,” and apparently vegivores are totally into, among other things, lacinato kale. That’s right, the $1.50-a-bunch, in-your-CSA-box-from-September-through-April, such-a-vegan-staple-you-never-even-think-about-it lacinato/dinosaur kale is the hottest in veg cuisine. The hottest thing in Berlin-San Francisco crossovers is vegan Currywürst, available at your local Whole Foods under the label King of Cürrywurst. Yeah, we don’t support getting cutesy with accent marks either, but we do support vegan businesses, so let’s do this. Are you a ketchup person? Currywürst is for you. Perhaps not for any of us but the very rich soon is chocolate, as criminally underpaid cocoa farmers in Africa aren’t replanting much, and their children won’t do the work at all. Buy fair trade for all your chocolate—including chips and cocoa powder!—or know you’re contributing to a terrible system that is rapidly falling apart. Well, at least we’ve got Laura and The Week in Vegan, right?

Animal news we didn’t cover this week
Whales get sunburns! There’s another reason to give your non-vegan friends and relations to convince them to eat less/zero animals: Whales suffer from skin lesions, caused by sun damage from UV light. Yeah, the UV light that comes through our atmosphere is so strong now it FUCKS UP WHALES’ SKIN. Yeah, let’s dig some coal! Reader Tina sent us a list she made called 101 Blogs to Inspire You to Protect Endangered Species. It’s neatly divided into subcategories and one might go so far as to call it exhaustive—it’ll be an excellent reference. Thanks, Tina! Reader Rachel sent us an article about a local wildlife shelter that needs a new home ASAP. The Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Center in Oakland does rescue and rehab for wildlife in Alameda County—work that Oakland Animal Services can’t do—but after six years on private property is being evicted. Please go read Rachel’s excellent article for the detailed story, and how you can help. Thanks, Rachel!

[We love it when you send us tips! Don’t be shy!]


Our beloved Elizabeth Kucinich wants you! to support Healthy School Lunches!  »

The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act—gosh that sounds wholesome—otherwise known as H.R. 5504, has finally been placed on the House order of business. Unfortunately, the House is taking its “autumn recess” before voting on it, even though the previous legislation—a one-year extension of an even earlier bill—expires, oh, today. Good call, guys!

Elizabeth Kucinich is very concerned about how this will affect the public schoolchildren of the U.S. So is your Vegansaurus, actually. Our Laura worked extremely hard to help get language into this bill that would ensure veg options for public school kids, including non-dairy milk, and we really don’t want to lose that because of selfish politicians who require pork—literal or political!—to vote for any bill. Kids need healthy, tasty school lunches! And you know we aren’t concerned about CHILDHOOD OBESITY AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! so much as just getting the kiddies a good, vegetable-protein-based meal five days a week. You always pay taxes; why not let some of them ($8 per taxpayer over the 2011 to 2015 period) go toward something you believe in?

You can help out immediately by calling or emailing your congressional representative today to express your support of H.R. 5504. We need to tell them all to make this their top priority when they return from their “autumn recess,” a.k.a. “campaigning break.” If you hate kids, do it for Elizabeth. If you don’t care about people at all, do it for the animals that won’t have to be killed for the veggie kids’ meals. If that doesn’t move you, do it for your favorite pink dinosaur!


The same charmingly misanthropic news, one day later: it’s your weekend link-o-rama!  »

This gorgeous rhinoceros is a screen print by artist Millie Marotta.

Take some action from your computer this weekend! The Humane Society asks that you send an email to Dr. Barbara Alving of the National Center for Research Resources to politely ask her to retire 26 “elderly, wild-caught chimpanzees” at the New Iberia Research Center, some of whom have been research subject for over 50 years. PCRM needs you to ask your senators to support the Great Ape Protection Act. Farm Sanctuary would appreciate it if you would send a message to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Committee Chair George Miller to remind them of your support for the House version of the Child Nutrition Act, and ask that they work to get that version passed. Then, learn about meal-planning from the Domestic Vegan, and practice good nutrition yourself. Or bad nutrition, your Vegansaurus offers this link as a money-saving tip, we make no judgment on your vegan foodstuffs.

HSUS is such a fraud, you guys—did you know they want to take away our pets and turn us all into VEGANS? Just ask Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher, the king of political commentary! Look, they will wear their terrifying uniforms and kick down your doors looking for “abused animals” like the fucking Gestapo. Another organization dedicated to denying real ‘murricans’ right to kick downer cows, Mercy For Animals, reports that one of the Conklin Dairy workers on trial in Ohio pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals; he was sentenced to eight months in jail, to pay a $1,000 fine, may not come into contact with animals for three years. I wonder how much jail time ol’ egg-recall DeCoster will get for causing hundreds of people to contract Salmonella illness? Or for allowing for the torture of so many hens for so many decades? Yeah, vegetarians, nice job with the eggs-and-milk diet. But hey, milk and yogurt are so hot right now, especially unpasteurized milk, which you have to buy it all under-the-table like bathtub gin. Hope it doesn’t kill you!

Have you had your dose of rage today? I know you skimmed that anti-HSUS polemic, but this interview with Hal Herzog about his new book Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat will really raise your blood pressure. He’s a real peach, Hal Herzog; “What do we make of the fact that in 1933 the Nazi party enacted the world’s most progressive animal protection legislation?” he asks, and BAM you know you’re not going to get a sensible word out of him. It’s endorsed by Irene M. Pepperberg, the “Me” of Alex & Me—you know, the African Grey parrot who never got to leave the lab—and Vegansaurus’ favorite “animal welfare activist,” Temple Grandin. And the interview itself is nothing but softball questions, no follow-ups on the ridiculous claims Herzog makes, and OH he makes some outrageous ones. Maybe a better book for people with logical brains and feeling hearts is The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant; it’s the story of the 49 pit bulls after their rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring in 2007.

Another Millie Marotta
screen print! This one is a donkey, could you tell?

Good news, everyone! Since 1999, scientists have possessed the silk gene, but now they’re able to reproduce it in seeds, tubers, and transgenic tobacco. Imagine a word of cruelty-free silk! That doesn’t mean science is done with animals, though; suppressing a certain gene in mice—which is also found in humans—can affect cognition; they call it “the Homer Simpson gene,” ha ha ha they can make mice stupider! Does that mean it will affect humans the same way? WHO KNOWS? They don’t even know all the effects of the suppression of this gene on the mice yet! Well, at least the FDA hasn’t approved that poor AquAdvantage “salmon” yet, despite the feelings (read: ridiculous arguments) of our esteemed colleague at Reason feels. You know, if we trusted libertarians, the majority of our grandparents would be living in the rooms we are living in now at our parents’ house. “Free-market solution” is an oxymoron, friends. As is “Corn refiners care about your health, which is why they want to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup.” Wait, no, that’s a lie, and Marion Nestle’s gonna fuck you up.

Last Sunday, Sept. 12, anti-bullfighting organizations CAS International, PACMA, and AnimaNaturalis held a collective protest of the Torneo del Toro de la Vega in Tordesillas, Spain. This torneo involves men on horseback and on foot chasing a bull across a bridge toward a meadow. During the run, these men repeatedly stab the bull with lances, but they aren’t allowed to kill him until they all reach the vega. Then the man who kills the bull gets the “honor” of cutting off the bull’s testicles, and parading around the village with them; then he gets a gold medal. Just like an Olympic athlete, you guys! This year’s bull was named Platanito, and apparently his ordeal was over in 15 minutes, which is comparatively brief. We are also super-impressed with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who already this week murdered a bear for violating a three-strikes law; now they’re demanding an expedited permit to hunt the fuck out of the 525 wolves remaining in their state. They only want to kill, like 75, and they won’t gas any babies this time, they swear. Just because an animal is on the federal endangered species list, that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot a few of them, right? Come on!


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