The spectacular lauren ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project discusses the power of our food choices at TEDxGoldenGatePark. This is an incredibly moving talk about why giving a damn about what we eat is so important; share it widely and often!
Watch it and then give FEP all your money for their stellar, impactful activism.
Product review: Nibmor ethical vegan chocolate got FEP-approved just for this post! »
I love Nibmor chocolate. First of all, it tastes damn good, ticking all the boxes to make my vegan chocoholic heart happy: free from refined sugar, vegan, and organic. The two flavor varieties Nibmor sent me, original and mint, were both rich and smooth, the right balance of dark, fruity cacao and creamy richness.
But while Nibmor tastes like joy incarnate, what I may love most about it is that when I told the company I couldn’t review its chocolate until it was certified ethical vegan by the Food Empowerment Project, Nibmor jumped to the occasion, contacted FEP, and became certified! FEP’s Lauren Ornelas just did an amazing interview about the dark side of chocolate; I highly recommend listening to it!
Nibmor is truly ethical and delicious dark chocolate. Get some online, or at Rainbow Grocery and other local health food stores.
Product Review: Endangered Species Vegan Chocolate! »
FEP is run by my friend and former co-worker Lauren Ornelas’ vegan advocacy nonprofit. While I interned at the Center For Environmental Health several years ago, she and I became acquainted through her work at Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. I saw Lauren speak at Vegan Prom in San Francisco, and am pretty much in awe of her dedication to protecting humans, animals, and the planet. Seriously, look her up! I am also so inspired by her work to promote ethical vegan chocolate companies that do not trade in human or animal suffering.
According to the Endangered Species media kit, the company donates 10 percent of net profits to support animal protection and sound environmental practices. And they also identify themselves as non-GMO, and 100 percent ethically traded.
Cacao good for people an animals? Sounds dreamy! But is their chocolate delicious? Yes! Sweetened with beet sugar, which is a better choice than refined white sugar, if you ask me (though I must admit tend to prefer raw cacao and raw sweeteners, being a good Vegansaurus raw correspondent!), the varying degrees of cacao intensity do deliver a punch. My favorite is the 88 percent dark bar, which is pretty damn close to pure cacao. It’s the darkest that ES sells, and comes with information on black panthers inside the package. How convenient! More cacao equals less sugar, and a greater benefit of magnesium, antoxidants. It also satisfies chocoholism. Enjoy whatever vegan (non-milk chocolate) version you wish! Note: Vegan chocolate by ES is very clearly labeled as “vegan,” so just make sure you see that on the label and you’re good to go!
Other great varieties of Endangered Species dark chocolate include their dark chocolate with cherry, dark chocolate with orange, and peppermint squares. They even sell individually-wrapped bite-sized chocolates that are perfect for stuffing in lunches/your unisex handbag/bra. Yay for ethical chocolate!
*Note: This post originally stated that Endangered Species vegan chocolates were approved by the Food Empowerment Project. In fact, it is Endangered Species organic chocolates that received FEP approval. Vegansaurus regrets the error.
Every day is Earth Day when you’re vegan »
For Earth Day this year I celebrated by attending Berkeley Vegan Earth Day, hosted by eco-friendly event planner Karine Brighten. Though you may be thinking, “Earth Day was soooo last week, why are you getting around to this now?” I have two reasons: One is that I am a slacker. Two is that it doesn’t matter because EVERY DAY SHOULD BE EARTH DAY! And the information is still relevant!
What was special about this particular Earth Day event was the link Brighten emphasized between veganism and its positive impact on both animals and the environment, as well as exploring “reasons and ways to take that commitment even further.” Mission accomplished, girlfriend!
Berkeley Vegan Earth Day included a screening of the documentary Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction, followed by a panelist discussion and catered reception.
To put it mildly, Call of Life was intense. Really, read its tag line: “If current trends continue, scientists warn that within a few decades at least HALF of all plant and animal species on Earth will disappear forever.” We live on a planet full of ecosystems that depend on each other for survival. When one species, whether plants or animals, begins to dwindle or become extinct, it causes a ripple effect to which human animals are not immune. The scientists, anthropologists, philosophers and psychologists featured in this documentary are hypothesizing that if we don’t fundamentally change our behavioral and societal patterns (RIGHT NOW) we are going to contribute to both the extinction of the plants and animals on our planet as well as ourselves.
Another point this movie touched upon was that as humans, we are not oblivious to this going on around us and may suffer from feelings of terror, anger, and despair. Yet our society is adept at pushing consumerism as a way to suppress those feelings, or block them out entirely. We buy the things we “deserve” to feel better, and indulge in meat though we know factory farming is vicious and inhumane, as well as a direct reason for clear-cutting rain forests. The longer this movie sat with me, the more powerfully my thoughts centered around throwing myself off my second-story balcony, but then I remembered I was hosting Easter this year, which would hopefully save at least one pig sent for slaughter this spring (nothing like an agave-brown sugar seitan roast). Activism, people! It saves lives!
Next up were the vegan panelists: David Vlansey, the executive producer of Call of Life, Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project, Hope Bohanec of In Defense of Animals, and Alex Eaves of Stay Vocal.
My favorite points from the discussion include:
- In the US farm workers are not paid overtime, though in pretty much every other professional it is mandatory. There are laws against compensating them for overtime.
- Environmental racism—it’s no coincidence that oil refineries, land fills, truck depots,etc happen to be located around low income neighborhoods and communities of color. These areas have higher rates of cancer and pollutants along with less access to health care or healthy foods. Examples of these regions in the SF Bay Area include Richmond and Martinez.
- The only difference between organic beef and conventional beef is what they are fed. Eating organic beef doesn’t effect green house or fossil fuel admissions.
- It’s not feasible to have enough grass-fed, free-range meat to feed 6 billion people (the Earth’s population). There simply isn’t enough room.
- Eating vegan is eating green. Two vegan meals a week is better than eating an organic, locally sourced lifestyle.
- Recycling is failure to reuse.
- It takes 400 gallons of water for all the cotton that goes into one new t-shirt.
- If his friends that own coffeeshops were to charge everyone that brought in their own travel mug $1 and $5 for every paper cup, people could then pay for their ignorance and denial.
The reception was catered by Millennium, which was great for me, as I’ve never eaten there.
Brighten said she is “extremely happy to have had such an amazing turnout, and so much support from the community.” Sign up for her newsletter to receive updates on upcoming events here! I may have heard a rumor about vegan speed dating in Berkeley in the near future.