Living Vegan & Forks Over Knives this Sunday, January 31 in Irvine

Living Vegan is a project of Living Ubuntu supporting, educating and advocating compassion and health for people, animals and the planet.

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Hi everyone,

Living Ubuntu has launched a new project, entitled, Living Vegan. We have our very first public event coming up this weekend. I hope you will join us for this free screening of the exceptionally well-done documentary, Forks Over Knives, Sunday, January 31 in Irvine. Plenty of yummy, tasty, healthy, vegan snacks will be on hand also, so make sure you get there at 6:30p to allow plenty of time to get your plate full before we show the film.

I want to share with you some of my own personal story as it relates to veganism, and why Living Ubuntu has launched this new project, Living Vegan.

I have been vegan since March 2006. Before that I was vegetarian because I concluded that I didn’t want anyone to die in order for me to have a meal and felt perfectly able to live a healthy, happy life without meat, poultry or seafood. I was not well informed about animal circumstances surrounding the production of dairy or eggs, and felt that I could eliminate being complicit in animal suffering by continuing to eat products produced by animals, as long as I didn’t eat the animals themselves.

In March 2006, I attended a conference on sustainability at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. It was the first time I hear Peter Singer speak, and the first time I became aware that the typical American diet was environmentally more harmful than the typical American driving an SUV. It gripped me deeply and immediately, and my perception changed to view dairy and eggs as environmentally harmful items that I could, without much trouble, stop eating.

Incrementally afterward, I became aware of the animal suffering that takes place as part of factory farming and that the egg and dairy industries contributed just as much cruelty as the rest of the meat industry. It came even later that I recognized that cruelty was also extreme in the seafood industry and that over-fishing was yet another problem in terms of sustainability.

In more recent times, I have learned that animal agriculture is contributing to killing off biodiversity to such a great extent that it puts our own species at risk of extinction. Additionally, made even more relevant by the drought in California, it entered the awareness of many that not only is animal agriculture a significant greenhouse gas contributor, it has a huge water footprint, far beyond that of growing plants for human consumption. And the United Nations made it clear that animal agriculture is an extremely inefficient use of resources. In order to be able to feed the world in the coming years, it will only be accomplished if the heavy meat-eaters of the world, get on the path to transition to a largely, if not exclusively, plant-based way of eating.

A few years back, the Blue Zone studies, on where human longevity was highest, also caught my attention. While some animal products were consumed in these longest-living regions, it was only in amounts equivalent to being a garnish-sized portion. No regions where animal products were served in main dish proportions had people living the longest, healthiest, happiest lives. Legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds with lots of fruits and vegetables seemed to be part of the necessary equation. Leading active, productive lives, well-connected to others seemed to be an additional necessity.

Much more has been published recently about the personal health benefits that come from plant-based eating, along with more and more evidence on the potential ills that accompany eating animals and products that come from animals. (For more on that, come watch Forks Over Knives, this coming Sunday, 6:30p in Irvine!)

It took awhile for me to catch on about just how powerful the meat lobbies are in the United States. Initially, I had been oblivious to the fact that we are subsidizing animal agriculture in a way that makes meat artificially inexpensive, while fruits and vegetables, for the most part, are by comparison, expensive, since they are not afforded this same sort of subsidy. Those with limited income are often in the position of finding that it is the least healthy foods that are most affordable. Those with least means are often eating foods that put them at highest risk of ill health and possible disease.

The meat industry has also exerted undue influence in additional areas that affect our health. They are the only industry excepted from EPA measuring of greenhouse gas emissions, and they successfully applied sufficient pressure this past year to get the USDA to delete language suggesting plant-based eating needed to be increased for reasons of sustainability.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, research findings suggest extremely high rates of Post Traumatic Stress for meat industry employees. Jobs in slaughterhouses are generally low in pay, yet high in abuse for workers. This plays in to further increasing animal cruelty both at the systemic level and in employees needlessly inflicting harm on captive, already high-suffering animals.

As I learned more and more about factory farming, in combination with increased awareness of the sentient nature of animals, many things became more clear. In today’s society, most people are extremely disconnected from where their food comes from. Understandably, many have never given it a second thought, and many have never met a farm animal. Most people are horrified when they find out what actually goes on in factory farming, both in terms of the extreme animal cruelty, and the accompanying environmental toxins being created in massive quantities, not to mention how this increases the health risks associated with eating meat because it comes from extremely unhealthy animals, often fed unnatural diets, hormones and antibiotics to induce unnaturally rapid growth.

Over time, I came to see factory farms as places of legal mass atrocities, where cruelty is the norm. Billions of intelligent, living, feeling beings are objectified as commodities with complete and utter disregard for their suffering.

For those who get animal products from sources other than factory farms, there are an additional set of problems such as lack of sustainability and that “humane slaughter” doesn’t actually exist.

As a psychotherapist, I am well aware of how many people struggle with many different issues surrounding food. Eating is personal and many are very sensitive about it. When I first became a vegan I just saw it as my own personal choice. More recently, that has changed. In our current situation, there is too much at stake for this to be merely a personal choice as the choices of the many are increasing the suffering of countless others and endangering the survival of us all.

The good news is, even small incremental changes to increase plant-based eating make a significant difference. Perfection is not required here. If one hamburger is equivalent to a month of showers in water usage, you can see how even making small incremental changes can have a hugely positive impact on our world, not to mention the benefits to one’s own health.

Many people express awareness of the many destructive aspects associated with animal agriculture. Many want to live out their value system by eating in ways they can feel better about. Many just don’t know where to start, or how to do it in a way that is indeed healthy, or how to endure criticism from others that don’t want them to make a change. Most people have more lasting success by making small incremental changes over time vs suddenly, dramatically seeking to change everything all at once. Often there is a learning curve, a time of adjustment, and a genuine need for social support around making dietary and lifestyle changes.

So that is where, within our little sphere of influence, Living Vegan comes in. We want to increase awareness on these issues while supporting the efforts of those who are seeking to make incremental changes, to make the transition and learning curve easier.

See you Sunday,

Barbara English, LMFT, CBT, TRE Certification Trainer
Co-founder and Executive Director, Living Ubuntu | facebook | donate »
(949) 891-2005

[Ubuntu] n. Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings

Living Vegan is a project of Living Ubuntu supporting, educating and advocating compassion and health for people, animals and the planet.


A Screening of Forks Over Knives (Living Vegan)
Sunday, January 31, 6:30pm – 9:00pm

TRE Group Shake
Thursday, February 4, 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Newport Beach

In a Gentle Way You Can Shake Your World – 5 sessions – early registration through February 3
Begins: Saturday, February 6, 9:30am – 11:30am
Newport Beach

Living Vegan meeting
Thursday February 11, 6:30pm – 8:00pm
1151 Dove Street #210, Newport Beach

Orange County for Climate Action (OCCA) Meeting
Wednesday February 17, 6:30 – 8:00p
1151 Dove Street #210, Newport Beach

OCCA event on solar energy — more info soon!
Sunday, February 28, 6:30pm

Golden West College 10th Annual Peace Conference
more info soon!
Friday, April 22
Huntington Beach

Gene Baur at Soka Universitymore info soon!
Saturday, April 23, 9:30am – 12:00pm (with picnic vegan lunch outside afterward)
Aliso Viejo

Climate Rallymore info soon!
Sunday, April 24, time: TBD
Huntington Beach

TRE Certification Training, Module Iearly registration through April 1
Friday, April 29 – Sunday May 1
San Diego


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