Wayne Pacelle: The Bond

Got to see Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, speak here in Louisville last night. Props to Barnes & Noble for hosting him, as his speech was incredible. It was a wonderful discussion of the “bond” (the title of his book) and how our treatment of animals is first and foremost a moral issue, but also one with political and economical ties. Wayne was a powerful speaker and urged political action, less consumption of animals products, and, in his words, a “humane economy.”

While HSUS and Mr. Pacelle take less of a hard-line stance on veganism than others, that is ultimately the goal at the end of the day, and he realizes that (Pacelle has been vegan for quite some time). HSUS’ page on eating a vegan diet is not as prominent as other AR organizations (and I’m not sure HSUS would classify themselves as an animal rights organization to begin with), but it’s there: “Guide to Meat-Free Meals.” Either way, Pacelle’s speech can be a great aide in showing people how our moral compass in this country is kind of screwed up when it comes to animals. Here’s a short version, featuring Pacelle on Ellen, and a longer one from a TEDx talk in February:

 

Green B.E.A.N. Delivery: Local, Healthy Produce and More

Online grocery-shopping is nothing new: companies like Netgrocer have been fulfilling customers’ laziness since 1999. And now one can hop on Meijer’s website, or Amazon.com, to get just about anything shipped directly to their door. But for those with a more ethical lean, or who want fresh produce, is there a solution? Turns out, there is.

Enter Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, a company dedicated to “home delivery of organic produce & natural groceries to the Louisville community.” Green B.E.A.N. is actually a multi-state operation, started in Indianapolis, and now spreading to Ft. Wayne (IN), Cincinnati (OH), Dayton (OH), Columbus (OH), and of course Louisville. The service here has been around for a little over a year, and has garnered some great reviews. Cincinatti.com recently featured the founders, a couple from Indy, who started the business in 2009 as a way to “take the excuses away from people who want to eat healthy but aren’t doing it.” Hear hear!

I was recently contacted by Green B.E.A.N. to receive a trial run of their small produce bin (normally $35) for review on the blog. Not one to turn down fresh, local produce, I accepted, and within two weeks I found myself with a big green tote on my front porch:

Kudos to Green B.E.A.N. for their excellent branding, and having a good, re-usable way to deliver the produce. The bins are picked up the following week (usually at the same time you get your next bin, if you choose auto-delivery). Inside was a styrofoam cool pack (which, while I’m not a fan of styrofoam, at least they are re-using), with a great selection of organic produce: beets, onions, garlic, oranges (conventional), lemons, apples, asparagus, mushrooms, lettuce, strawberries, and tomatoes. Yeah!

Now, forgive me for assuming that some of it would be local, as this word is used quite a bit on the website, but this was not the case with my bin. The asparagus was the only item listed as local, with other items containing various stickers with their origin. Obviously, oranges and lemons are coming from a much warmer region than the Midwest (at least, seasonally warm…our present weather excluded). I asked Megan, my rep with Green B.E.A.N., about this, and she responded:

It is possible to choose only local produce during the growing season (May-October) by customizing the order. At this time, we do not offer an option that would automatically deliver only local produce.

Not to nitpick too much, but this bin came in April. Is there local produce being produced in Kentucky and Ohio in April? Absolutely: green onions, greenhouse tomatoes, lettuce, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, and more. I see it at the Root Cellar and farmer’s markets each week. On the website, choosing a Louisville produce bin neglects  to have these options, so while I was stoked to have organic strawberries and mushrooms (two super healthy foods), I would still like more local options, year-round. Currently, the “add produce” selection on the website is empty, meaning if you choose a produce bin it will likely be organic, but not local. While this is a point of contention for me, it is certainly not a deal-breaker for Green B.E.A.N’s service.

One thing I do like is the vast array of grocery-style products you can order. They have a separate section for “Vegan Cuisine” (Morels would be stoked that “vegan” is getting its own cuisine listings now!), with everything from local Blue Dog bread, to Amy’s soups, to Luna Burgers, a vegan burger company out of Ohio. That’s pretty rad: being able to order local and national vegan items, delivered to your door with weekly with organic (and hopefully more local) produce.

Kentucky is definitely represented on Green B.E.A.N’s site as well:  Fox Hollow Farms, Rooibee Red Tea, and Najla’s (they make some pretty dope vegan protein bars) are there, in addition some other KY vendors, and we can only assume the list will grow as time goes on.

Overall, I was happy with my bin, and my fiancee and I enjoyed the food immensely: our stir-fries, salads, and snacking was greatly improved (and healthier) in the week following the delivery! While I would have liked to seen more local produce, I understand there are season and logistic reasons behind the weekly orders of organic-sans- local fruit and vegetables. Green B.E.A.N’s mission is to “make healthy and sustainably grown local food affordable, accessible, and convenient to the Midwest communities we serve. We serve our mission by building food systems and businesses that address our communities’ greatest food challenges.” That is definitely something we can all get behind.

Are you interested in trying Green B.E.A.N. Delivery yourself? Sign up today and use this code: “15NailSticks” to get $15 off your first order! There’s a $35 minimum, and this discount applies to new customers and reactivations only. It will expire on May 15, 2012, so act quick! Sign up here.

Note: Green B.E.A.N. logo from their website. Thanks to Megan Lawler for her assistance and info.

The Joy of Activism

Recently, Lauren Stroyeck of PETA was kind enough to feature me in their series, “PETA Volunteer Spotlight” where she interviewed me about why I’m vegan, how I got into activism, and so forth. Here are my thoughts on the effectiveness of the crazy demonstrations:

[W]henever PETA gets flak for their “sexism,” it’s always sexist in nature! People assume they only want half-naked girls in the demonstrations, when the two I’ve participated in and hundreds that countless other men have participated in speak otherwise. Not only that, but all of the women I’ve done these demonstrations with have been strong, courageous individuals who were fully committed to ending animal exploitation. We weren’t being exploited: We are using the fact that skin, nudity, or anything “taboo” draws attention. Attention to what, you might ask? That fact that animals are being bred, tortured, and killed, simply for their skin, including up to 3 million mink alone in the U.S. each year. Millions of animals die every year, simply for what the public believes to be “fashion.” That’s an injustice and one worth drawing attention to, in my opinion.

As for the effectiveness of the sexy/naked demonstrations, I’ve had the most random encounters with supporters at demonstrations. People you wouldn’t expect come up to say “Good job” or go to a vegan potluck that my friends at the Louisville Vegetarian Club put on. People make the decision to go vegan in a day, a week, or sometimes years, but seeing a radical visual will often make them think. I am not under the delusion that they are “shocked” into veganism immediately, but it often takes the planting of an idea—and PETA is quite good at this—to blossom into a full-on belief later in life.

Secondly, I have a much more food-centric piece over at The Paper, just in time for early spring in here in Louisville, entitled “In Search Of…A Perfect Vegan Meal.” I was able to weave both my tale of food activism along with some of the best vegan-friendly joints in Louisville:

Finding the perfect vegan meal in a town like Louisville is a task that could take me a long, long time. It’s not because of the environment – in fact, you may be surprised to learn Louisville is a pretty rad town for vegans – but because of what a vegan meal means. When a vegan sets off to find the perfect meal – one without cruelty to animals, seasoned just right, with the perfect company, and at the perfect time – there’s a lot involved. You see, vegans love food. We really do. And not in a “I can only eat ten things so I better love ‘em” kind-of way, but because we associate food with change.

I sincerely appreciate Lauren and PETA, as well as Matt, Stephanie, and everyone at The Paper, giving me the opportunity to share my views like this. I hope they make for a fun read, and also inspire others to become passionate about something.

Photo: busy.pochi

Inspired Vegan Bryant Terry Coming to Louisville

I definitely applaud U of L for hooking it up with their “Body Awareness Body Appreciation Week,” culminating on March 1 with author, activist, and chef Bryant Terry speaking about “how access to food impacts our choices and how we can eat well in our community.” The vegan author has written both “The Inspired Vegan” as well as “Vegan Soul Kitchen” so I’m pretty stoked that the students will get to hear a lecture and see food prepared by a vegan – definitely a rarity on campus! I can only hope the “additional cooking demonstrations” will be vegan as well.

The Louisville Vegetarian Club will be there tabling so students can see that yes, there is a group for vegetarians and vegans in Louisville! Plus Grasshoppers Distribution and other local food movements will be hanging around. The event starts at 5:30pm and runs until 8:15pm. More info on the flyer below and at the Health Promotion page. Unfortunately it’s $10 for the public (but free for students). See you there!

Photo: Stanford Info Center

Louisville’s Vegan Scene Is On The Map!

I’m really stoked to anounce that the latest issue of VegNews, the biggest magazine of all things vegan, is running their “VegEscape” piece for the March/April issue on Louisville! It should be in all stores next week but subscribers (online or print) should already have a copy. I just saw the piece today, and it looks incredible!

I was very fortunate to have the willingness of managing editor Elizabeth Castoria take a chance on me and give Louisville’s vegan scene a full two-page spread. I was able to cram in the Veg Club, Ramsi’s, Dakshin, our beautiful parks, 21C Museum Hotel and a bunch of other awesome stuff! See a picture below, and please go buy it next week! The secret is out: Louisville is vegan-friendly!

 

Edit 9/18/12: You can now read the full article, in PDF format right here: Louisville VegEscape.