Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Will Tuttle brings World Peace Diet to Sarasota

This past Saturday at Veggie Magic/Vibe Cuisine, author, pianist, and Zen monk Will Tuttle gave an enlightening address to a group of 40 local residents. The talk centered around the spiritual connections humans regularly and systematically suppress simply to follow misguided cultural habits. He explained how, especially in the United States , from an early age most of us are taught to minimize our capacity for compassion. As part of this we are conditioned to separate our feelings in two. On the one hand we exhibit love and caring for our family and companion animals. On the other hand we repress feelings about the suffering that 75 million ‘farm’ animals go through every day in the US alone.

He illustrated the irony that indoctrinated people will exhibit when faced with the harsh realities of animal agriculture. Feeling threatened by knowledge, many people will feign oppression and say “Don’t tell me what to eat.” When in fact, they have been forced into a system of eating exactly what society has ordered them to, with no regard to personal choice based on facts. Another example I’ve heard when exposing people to new foods, which often seem exotic to them, is “I won’t eat that, I don’t know what’s in it.” When turned on it’s head this statement is void of basis, for the majority of people are ignorant of what is “really” in their food.

He illustrated several aspects and some telling statistics with regard to animal agriculture. Chief among these was the concept that “Animal agriculture is a system that maximizes environmental destruction, health problems, and contributes heavily to cultural violence.”
Also, he pointed out that of all the land used for agriculture over 85% of it is used to grow animal feed in the form of corn, soy, hay, and wheat. Less than 4% is used to grow fresh produce, fruits, and nuts for human consumption.

One of the main themes of this dialogue was that ’Change has to come from us, not to us.’ In describing the transformation of deeply entrenched habits that we all have, I’ll relay one more analogy that Will shared with the group. – It’s like a rocket ship which expends 80-90% of its fuel just to break the gravitational pull of the earth. Once it’s up there, it can maneuver and sustain its mission on that sliver of fuel. – So it is with habits. Most of the work is in that initial thrust, which requires solid commitment to our highest principles and values. Once we form new patterns of thought and shed the mentality of exclusion we are able to act in ways that are more non-violent, live lighter on the planet, and move forward recognizing opportunities for being more connected to the wonderful world that sustains us.

We highly recommend Dr. Tuttle’s book ‘The World Peace Diet Eating For Spiritual Health And Social Harmony’. Also, visit his website http://worldpeacediet.org/ and sign up for a daily inspiration. There you will also find links to his myspace, facebook, and twitter pages. While there, you can also easily pass a message to the White House encouraging president Obama to read the copy of Dr. Tuttle’s book that was placed in his hands just before the inauguration.

To see the rest of the photos please visit the VegSarasota.com meetup group. Thanks to Veggie Magic/Vibe Cuisine for hosting and to VMB Graphics for the photos.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Awesome Vegan 'Sheese' now in Sarasota

Vegsarasota just got an email from a fellow vegan at Whole Foods Sarasota. They have a shipment of Sheese! This is HUGE. Ever since we discovered this cruelty free option we have been trying to get our hands on more. Occasionally we will come across a few blocks here and there, but now it will be for sale, we are told starting Friday, in our local Whole Foods. This is the kind of product you can eat right out of the package on crackers and it has a deep rich flavor. Along with the Follow Your Heart line which we like for melting on pizzas and other italian dishes, the Sheese is the best vegan cheese we've ever had.

We're excited, because as the Sheese website says:
One of the most common reasons given for not giving up dairy produce used to be that there wasn’t an acceptable dairy-free alternative to cheese, that really tasted of cheese.

So go snag some of this stuff for an at-home taste test and then let Whole Foods know that you liked it!

Hopefully this will give just one more really tasty reason to give up the cruelty and cholesterol laden dairy cheese that many have a hard time doing without.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vote for Vegan School Lunches Now!

Please add your voice right now by following this link and promoting healthy, cruelty free options for our nations children.


Healthful school lunch options

Require USDA to facilitate healthful plant-based (vegan) school lunch options to promote public health, freedom from hunger, environmental quality, nonviolence, and kindness to animals.

The Problem

Under the mandate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program, school cafeterias routinely serve highly processed meals laden with saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, and salt. Common entrees include chicken nuggets, pizza, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs. This diet flouts U.S. Dietary Guidelines and promotes obesity, diabetes, hypertension, other chronic conditions, and food poisoning.

Consider the following:

• Fewer than 2% of children eat in accordance with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on a given day.
• School lunches contain 33% of calories from fat, including 12% from saturated fat, while U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend 30% and 10%, respectively.
• More than 30% of children are overweight or obese.
• 25% of children ages 5 to 10 suffer from high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions.

The Solution

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is largely free of these problems and essential to good health. It supplies nearly all essential nutrients, contains little fat, fewer pesticides, and no cholesterol, hormones, antibiotics, or heavy metals. It also provides special nutrients that reduce the risk of cancer. It is conducive to more energy and improved academic performance.

A healthy diet for children is a critical indicator of future health, because children's bodies are still developing, because their dietary choices are still being formed, and because their poor eating habits become lifelong addictions.

In addition to its obvious health benefits, a plant-based diet offers the only long-term solution to the world hunger epidemic. It avoids the massive deforestation, water pollution, and global warming caused by the meat and dairy industries. Last, but not least, it spares billions of cows, pigs, and other innocent sentient animals from the atrocities of factory farms and slaughterhouses.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has the ability and the obligation to provide a wholesome food supply for our nation, starting with our children. It should use the school lunch and other national feeding programs to improve the nation's health, rather than to susidize the meat and dairy agribusiness.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

EPA Under-Resourced, Endangering Public

EPA Veils Hazardous Substances
December 22nd, 2008 By Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger in Space & Earth science / Environment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency routinely allows companies to keep new information about their chemicals secret, including compounds that have been shown to cause cancer and respiratory problems, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found.

The newspaper examined more than 2,000 filings in the EPA's registry of dangerous chemicals for the past three years. In more than half the cases, the EPA agreed to keep the chemical name a secret. In hundreds of other cases, it allowed the company filing the report to keep its name and address confidential.

This is despite a federal law calling for public notice of any new information through the EPA's program monitoring chemicals that pose substantial risk. The whole idea of the program is to warn the public of newfound dangers.
The EPA's rules are supposed to allow confidentiality only "under very limited circumstances."

Legal experts and environmental advocates say the practice of "sanitizing," or blacking out, this information not only strips vital information from the public, it violates the agency's own law.

Section 14 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, the foundation for all the EPA's toxic and chemical regulations, stipulates that chemical producers may not be granted confidentiality when it comes to health and safety data.
"The EPA has chosen to ignore that," said Wendy Wagner, a law professor at the University of Texas-Austin.

The newspaper's findings are just the latest example of how EPA administrators more often than not put company interests above the needs of consumers. Over the past 18 months, the Journal Sentinel has reported on numerous EPA programs that bow to corporate pressure, frustrating health and environmental advocates and disregarding the agency's own mission to inform the public of potentially dangerous chemicals.
The EPA has the authority to fine companies that fail to fully disclose information about dangerous chemicals. And, in at least one instance, it has done so. But critics say the program has been allowed to flounder, and the agency rarely challenges a company's request for confidentiality.

It's been frustrating to see the program "starved of resources and generally abandoned," said Myra Karstadt, a toxicologist who worked on the EPA's program from 1998 to 2005. "It's a very worthwhile program but only if it's given a chance to work."

The program began 30 years ago as a way to help the public avoid contact with dangerous chemicals. The law requires companies that make chemicals to submit any information of potential hazards about their products to the EPA. The EPA, in turn, is supposed to make that information available to communities and consumers.
Companies can claim confidentiality if they are worried that their disclosures will reveal trade secrets. They have to answer 14 questions, including specifics on why disclosing the information would harm the company.

EPA administrators then decide which ones are granted confidentiality.
EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said the agency realizes the claims of confidentiality "do in some instances limit the public's ability to understand the specifics of a particular filing." In those cases, the agency works with the companies to get them to provide more information, which many do, he said.

But the Journal Sentinel examination of the agency's substantial risk program found that large information gaps remain. More than half of the 32 submissions for March 2004, for example, are still missing information necessary for the public to connect the name of the chemical with the information submitted.

Some have no information at all.

Consider File No. 8EHQ-0308-17103A.

The EPA document, filed in March, marks as confidential the names of the chemical and the company that makes it. Even the generic class of chemical has been removed.
What is the information that this unnamed company is submitting about this unnamed chemical so the public can see if it poses a substantial risk? Anxious consumers have no way of knowing.

"No information is provided in the sanitized copy of the submission," the EPA Web site entry reads.
One report, posted by an unnamed company about an unnamed chemical, shows that if the substance is inhaled, it produces "foamy macrophages" or diseased cells, in the lungs of rats. The report also indicates the chemical may cause pulmonary fibrosis - a deadly and irreversible disease in people.

There is no way to know if this is a chemical coming out of a smokestack in some town or a concern for workers at a factory. The write-up does not say where the chemical is produced or used.

Nor is there any indication in the description of what this chemical is or how it works.

Another filing in May refers to a study that shows a chemical had caused liver abnormalities consistent with cancer. Again, the chemical name and any identifying information are blacked out.

"The public is being denied useful and sometimes critical information on chemical-related health and environmental hazards," said Karstadt, the former EPA toxicologist.

Karstadt said the whole point of the program was to provide the public with information about dangerous chemicals.

"By law, health and safety data is supposed to be kept open," she said.
The EPA's own Web site indicates that studies, letters and accident reports are intended to be viewed by the public so citizens can "understand potential human health and environmental risks associated with exposure to chemical substances."
The EPA posts all reports, redacted or not, on its Web site.

The law that requires companies to report data on dangerous chemicals is just one of 10 laws that the EPA is supposed to enforce. The office oversees 28 programs that address air pollution, water pollution, hazardous waste, toxic substances and pesticides, among other things.

The EPA is an enormous agency with three headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area and 10 regional offices all over the country. The office that administers the dangerous chemicals program has eight divisions. The overview describing their responsibilities fills 41 pages.

Even Kemery, the spokesman, could not say exactly who or how many people decide what information is allowed to be kept confidential. Nor did he know how many claims of confidentiality have been submitted and how many were granted.

The Environmental Working Group, a watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., reports that less than 1 percent of the EPA's enforcement and compliance budget is spent on the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Renee Sharpe, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, spent more than a year trying to get information from the EPA about some of the chemicals under the program, only to be denied at every turn.

"It's pretty outrageous, isn't it," she said.

The EPA advises companies on how to keep information confidential. It is less helpful to consumers.

The information on its Web site is difficult to access. You can't look up the chemical by name or by the name of the company that makes it. So, you have to go through the filings month by month to see if there is any information listed on that particular chemical.

There are huge gaps in reporting. The Web site does not have any information on chemicals before 2004. For reasons the EPA does not explain, the Web site does not include the second half of 2004.

That means there is no information at all about more than 16,000 entries.
Sometimes, the program works.

In 2004, the EPA fined DuPont de Nemours and Co. $10.25 million for not reporting data on Teflon. The chemical, used as nonstick coating in cookware, was found to be toxic and had been linked to birth defects. The EPA alleged that DuPont had information for more than 20 years that the chemical was harmful but did not disclose the risks.

The company agreed to settle and pay the penalty. It was the largest civil administrative penalty the EPA had ever obtained under any federal environmental statute.

Other times the EPA has encouraged companies to withdraw chemicals found to be dangerous. In 1999, 3M agreed to phase out its use of perfluorinated chemicals after discussions with the EPA. The chemicals, used in furniture coatings and to waterproof clothing, were found to cause reproductive and developmental toxicity in rats.
Still, critics including Karstadt and Wagner say the agency's policies have grown too lax.

The real problem with the program "is a complete lack of commitment," Karstadt said.
Even when companies say they understand the need for transparency, they aren't always willing to provide it, the Journal Sentinel found.

Adam Bickel, manager of the Product Regulatory Center of Expertise at BASF, a major German-based chemical producer, said his company recognizes that toxic law is a "key chemical control and chemical management statute to protect human health and the environment."

BASF is one of the companies that files the most reports to the EPA under the program. Bickel said his company takes its obligations "seriously and complies with the reporting."

BASF submitted 101 reports to the EPA in 2008. It blacked out the chemical name in 85 of those entries.
© 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Visit JSOnline, the Journal Sentinel's World Wide Web site, at http://www.jsonline.com/

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sarasota Walks for Farm Animals

The weather was cool and sunny, the people and puppies were happy and smiling, the kids were cute, and the vegan donuts and Silk Mocha were oh-so-tasty!! You didn't know dogs can smile? Well now you do :)

Once again VegSarasota members turn out in force to shed some much needed exposure on animal abuse in agriculture. In honor of World Farm Animals Day which is on 10/2 we got together this past Saturday for a 3 mile walk followed by yummy snacks, drinks, and a product giveaway. All those mundane Saturday morning drivers just going about their robot-like commutes got an eyeful as about 50 happy smiling people and non-human animals carved a path over the beautiful new John Ringling bridge in support of Farm Sanctuary, signs and banners in-tow (see pics below). We got a bunch of supportive waves and honks from passing runners, bicyclists, and drivers.

Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization. Since incorporating in 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the "food animal" industry through research and investigations, legal reforms, public awareness, education, and direct rescue efforts.

Our good friend Michele Mician really did a great job organizing the walk this year and deserves special thanks. So....thanks!

Here are a few of the photos:

The entire photo album can be viewed HERE

After the walk, we all enjoyed some nice shade and breeze, sitting on the grass, and getting re-hydrated. We ate snacks like vegan yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, Silk Mocha and vegan donuts. We handed out tickets and gave away a LOT of Bear Naked Granola and Soymilk, as well as a gorgeous gift basket with a cookbook, snacks, and hand blended tea.

would like to thank our sponsors for this event, Buddha Belly Donuts (makers of Sarasota's only vegan donuts) and Bear Naked Granola. Also thanks to our benefactors Terry, Judson V., Ruth Z, Kent P., Diane T. and all our members who collected donations leading up to the event, you guys & gals totally rock!

Monday, September 08, 2008

UN Climate Chief says SHUN MEAT

Shun meat, says UN climate chief

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Livestock production has a bigger climate impact than transport, the UN believes

People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN's top climate scientist.

Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will make the call at a speech in London on Monday evening.

UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport.

But a spokeswoman for the UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU) said methane emissions from farms were declining.

Dr Pachauri has just been re-appointed for a second six-year term as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC, the body that collates and evaluates climate data for the world's governments.

"The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions," he told BBC News.

"So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider."

Climate of persuasion

The FAO figure of 18% includes greenhouse gases released in every part of the meat production cycle - clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in farm vehicles, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep.

The contributions of the three main greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide - are roughly equivalent, the FAO calculates.

Transport, by contrast, accounts for just 13% of humankind's greenhouse gas footprint, according to the IPCC.

Dr Pachauri will be speaking at a meeting organised by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), whose main reason for suggesting people lower their consumption of meat is to reduce the number of animals in factory farms.

CIWF's ambassador Joyce D'Silva said that thinking about climate change could spur people to change their habits.

"The climate change angle could be quite persuasive," she said.

"Surveys show people are anxious about their personal carbon footprints and cutting back on car journeys and so on; but they may not realise that changing what's on their plate could have an even bigger effect."

Side benefits

There are various possibilities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming animals.

They range from scientific approaches, such as genetically engineering strains of cattle that produce less methane flatus, to reducing the amount of transport involved through eating locally reared animals.

"The NFU is committed to ensuring farming is part of the solution to climate change, rather than being part of the problem," an NFU spokeswoman told BBC News.

"We strongly support research aimed at reducing methane emissions from livestock farming by, for example, changing diets and using anaerobic digestion."

Methane emissions from UK farms have fallen by 13% since 1990.

But the biggest source globally of carbon dioxide from meat production is land clearance, particularly of tropical forest, which is set to continue as long as demand for meat rises.

Ms D'Silva believes that governments negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol ought to take these factors into account.

"I would like governments to set targets for reduction in meat production and consumption," she said.

"That's something that should probably happen at a global level as part of a negotiated climate change treaty, and it would be done fairly, so that people with little meat at the moment such as in sub-Saharan Africa would be able to eat more, and we in the west would eat less."

Dr Pachauri, however, sees it more as an issue of personal choice.

"I'm not in favour of mandating things like this, but if there were a (global) price on carbon perhaps the price of meat would go up and people would eat less," he said.

"But if we're honest, less meat is also good for the health, and would also at the same time reduce emissions of greenhouse gases."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vegan Dinner Parties!

Well this recap is a bit overdue, ok a LOT overdue, but why spend time focusing on my faults? Let's just let bygones be bygones. You're here, you're reading lets just put the past behind us agreed? Good? Good. Yes I do talk to myself, but thats another story...

VegSarasota has had a storm of events over the last couple few months so I thought I’d jam multiple reviews into this Blog. Our restaurant events are always some of the most fun, as the work is mostly done ahead of time coordinating, planning, taking the phone calls, answering questions and emails. The night of, we show up, sit down with a big group of friends, and enjoy a delicious meal while connecting with new people in the spirit. We like to stress that, as with all of our events, it is really the atmosphere, conversation, and community building that is important at these events. The great food is just a bonus :)

April 27th was a sight to see, a pack of veggies stormed the local mall restaurant/bar Cosimo’s Brick Oven for a vegan dinner party. The fun began well before the event as we had to keep asking the restaurant to add more seating capacity for us. Eventually they just took the lid off by moving us from the veranda 'outside' to the main dining room inside, which we absolutely filled. Our good friend Cynthia did most of the coordination with the staff, and it turned out really well. We educated them about vegan alternatives like Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Cheese Alternative and Tofurky brand Italian sausage links. The kitchen staff used the ingredients just like their cruelty filled analogs and made several fantastic dishes for our group to choose from.

Check out the gallery on the meetup.com website for all the rest from this event!

A little more recently, Taste of Asia hosted us on a Sunday evening (6-22-08) during a time when they’re normally closed. We did an event here at the end of January that got good reviews. With the slow summer season we were glad to partner with this award winning veg friendly restaurant to do another event, which turned out even better than the first! They responded well to some feedback about the dishes last time and provided each guest two appetizers and a choice of four delicious entrees, all served with an exceptional brown rice.

They were kind enough to donate a couple of gift certificates and two bottles of wine for a 50/50 (raffle) which helped raise some additional money for our volunteer vegan/vegetarian community group VegSarasota. Congrats to Mary on winning the Cosimo’s gift certificate, and Julia on winning both bottles of wine! If you can attend our next restaurant event, we have a $25 gift certificate for Taste of Asia which we’ll be giving away.

Check out the photo gallery for more pics like this!

A big thank you to Celina, her husband, and their staff for making great food, and providing great customer service.

In the last couple of months, we've held a couple of our meetups at local restaurants on a more casual basis. These worked out great because the more intimate gathering provided more opportunity for mingling amongst the members.

July 24th was our first experience at Island Time Grill in Sarasota, and they did a great job hosting us. The chef made a few special vegan selections, and offered them along with the couple basic vegan offerings on their standard menu. The ambiance was good, and the company and food were very pleasing (as you can see in these photos)

For the rest of the pics, check out the photo gallery

Veggie Magic, Sarasota's only all raw/vegan cafe teamed up with us for a happy hour on August 1st. There was a sampling of raw food and healthy drinks, John was on piano, and we got to spend some time getting to know the staff and enjoying very tasty food. Thanks to Jenna, Natalia and her very friendly co-workers for making the partnership a fun evening. It was a BYO wine event, and as you can tell by the second pic, the message was received :)

Raylon & Robert were just 'guarding' the wine

Then recently, on 8/17 we launched yet another partnership with a new restaurant. Cynthia coordinated a great menu at Broccolini's in Southgate. This proved to be a quaint spot with a good sized dining room and good wine. Vegan Italian is not easy to come by in this town, but Chef Luca has a great interpretation of the genre incorporating wine reductions, stuffed mushrooms, and polenta into the selection of dishes for our group.

Steve from My Green Buildings enjoying dinner with the fam, veggie style!

Daniel knows the right table to sit at

Well that brings us up to speed, thanks for checking out this jam-packed blog, and if you haven't checked out a VegSarasota event yet, please join us soon!

Thanks to our very special friends; Restaurant Coordinator Cynthia P. and Staff Photographer Laura Marie who provided most of the photos and photo galleries linked here.

Check out the vegsarasota.com restaurant page for more info on these and other vegan friendly restaurants in our area. We encourage you to support these restaurants and try the products we mention in the blog. Please leave comments and feedback we love to hear from you!