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Vegan-ish?: Not Eating Meat, Except When You Do

Tue, 26 Feb 2013 20:11:20 +0000

Over the last 43 years, I've been a vegan, a vegetarian, and a meat-eater. Now I think of myself as vegan-ish. Because of how animals are treated in factory farms, the connection between meat-eating, climate change and poverty, and for health reasons, I want to eat a more plant-based diet.

I say I'm vegan-ish because I often fall short of my aspirations. Sometimes I get really hungry, and the only thing that will fill me up is an egg, or cheese. And then there is my monthly PMS pepperoni pizza craving, which cannot be ignored.

(image)

Image: rob_rob2001 via Flickr



I'm also a social gal, and I don't like asking my host to make something special for me, plus, because I had a childhood full of food allergies and restrictions, I hate bringing my own food.

Finally, I like to try new food, in particular, food that is the specialty of a restaurant, region, or culture. For example, when we went to Spain last fall, I ate more meat and cheese than I've probably eaten in my life.

And then, I'll read a book, or see a movie that reminds me of why I need to try harder not to eat animal products. Last week, when I went to see Samsara, I was deeply disturbed by a scene from a poultry farm. The Atlantic describes it in its article, The Stories Behind the 5 Most Difficult-to-Film Scenes in Samsara: "At the Mariesminde Poultry Farm in Denmark, we watch a bizarre vehicle sucking up live chickens with a vacuuming snout; seconds later we watch an automated kill line slitting poultry throats."

Horrible.

I don't want to support that kind of treatment of animals.

And yet, I stumble.

So, I continue on my vegan-ish journey. I use the VegCookbook Club community to keep me VegCooking on a regular basis, and I struggle between doing what I know is right for the planet, and my cravings, culinary curiosities, and social niceness.

I share this story because I'm wondering if any of you have had a similar experience. I would also love to hear why you eat, or don't eat meat, and other animal projects.

I've been holding onto this post for three days because I'm afraid to out myself as an imperfect VegEater. I know that talking about eating, or not eating meat can be a hot button issue for people but I would love to hear about your struggles too.

~Britt

Britt Bravo blogs at Have Fun * Do Good and VegCookbook Club.




The VegCookbook Club's Eight Favorite Vegan Recipes

Wed, 22 Aug 2012 13:00:00 +0000

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon, or not at all."-- Harriet Van HorneIn January, I started a new blog, VegCookbook Club, in the hopes of connecting with people who love to cook from cookbooks as much as I do, particularly vegan ones. To me, each vegan recipe feels like a little science experiment + a food adventure.  Will this really taste as good without cheese? Thicken without eggs? Be as delicious without bacon?I've shared photos below of some of my favorite recipes from the 8 VegCookbooks we've cooked from in 2012.  If you'd like to start your own cookbook club, or connect with other people who love vegan cooking, check out the BlogHer posts, Cookbook Clubs: How to Start Your Own, and 10 Tips for Starting a Virtual Social Change Book Club, the VegNews article, 3 Ways to Share Your Love of Veg Food, the Goodreads group, Vegan Cooking and Cookbooks, and the BlogHer group, Vegetarians and Vegans.January  Goddess Nicoise from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Beautiful, delicious and nutritious. It takes a little while to prepare all the components, but it's worth it.FebruaryTofu Spinach Lasagna from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudeau. Yummy and comforting. The recipe is available on The Daily Green.MarchRed Beans with Thick Gravy and Roasted Garlic on Coconut Quinoa from The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry. These were hands down the most ridiculously scrumptious beans I've ever eaten.AprilUn-Tuna Salad from Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan. Veggie Goes Vegan loved this recipe too. You'll make it again and again. Promise.MayQuinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I've lost count of how many times I've made this delish dish. It's perfect to bring to a potluck, especially when you think there will be limited vegetarian, or vegan options.JuneLemon Basil Pasta from Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon. My favorite thing about this cookbook is how quickly all of the dishes come together.  I think sometimes vegcookbook authors forget that most of us don't have time to cook beans from scratch, grind spices, or make our own soup stock. At least I don't. Do you? JulySpinach Piña Colada Smoothie from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas. I love the idea behind this cookbook. I mean, who doesn't need to eat more greens? I made all of the green smoothie recipes that didn't require a Vitamix. They were all good, but the Spinach Piña Colada Smoothie was outstanding. The recipe is available on VegKitchen.August White Bean Pesto Spread from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton. We're not done cooking from this one, so I can't tell you my absolute favorite recipes yet, but this dip was very tasty.  I also made the Mac-oh-geez recently, which was incredible creamy and good, without the usual nutritional yeast "cheesy" element. The Mac-oh-geez recipe is available on Plant-Powered Kitchen.We have four months, and four more VegCookbooks to choose in 2012. Which are some of your favorites? Britt is a blogging coach and big vision consultant who blogs at Have Fun * Do Good and VegCookbookClub. She also hosts the The Big Vision Podcast and the Arts and Healing Podcast. You can follow her on Twitter at @bbravo, on Pinterest at @bbravo, and learn more about her work at brittbravo.com.Full disclosure: Britt received review copies of many of these cookbooks.[...]



Will Allen: Growing Power and the Good Food Revolution

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 17:17:15 +0000

In 1993, Will Allen bought the last remaining farm in the city of Milwaukee. It was located in a food desert halfway between two freeways on a very busy street. He bought the farm for selfish reasons.  He was looking for a place to sell the produce he was growing on his 100-acre farm in Oak Creek, WI, outside of Milwaukee. After a couple years, Allen started to work with a youth group on the farm, and eventually his friends talked him into starting a nonprofit. Today, Growing Power is a nonprofit and land trust that supports community food systems. It has over 20 farms and 110 employees. Fifty percent of its income comes from the sale of its own products and services, such as training over 1,000 farmers a year how to replicate its growing methods. It grows 150 different varieties of vegetables, with an emphasis on greens, sprouts, and micro-greens, and it also "grows" fish. Their aquaponics systems raise over 100,000 fish a year inside their greenhouses. They also grow soil. This year, they'll take 40 million pounds of food and carbon residue, and turn it into thousands of yards of compost. The organization's next step is to build a five-story vertical farmin the city of Milwaukee (how cool is that?)."When I see asphalt, a parking lot, or an area that's not being used, I look at it as a potential farm." ~ Will AllenI first came across Allen's work in the 2009 documentary, FRESH the Movie. Although seven or eight people are profiled in the film, Allen's story stood out. You can peek into the Growing Power farm, and everything they grow in their greenhouses in this 1:56 video:  src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/EGbnG0nH3n4" frameborder="0" height="315" width="420">  The images of Growing Power's amazing greenhouses, packed from floor to ceiling, stayed with me over the years, so I was thrilled when Allen's book, The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities came out. It's a mix of memoir and food justice nonfiction, and is one my favorites reads of 2012.  Over the years, Allen has been recognized for his groundbreaking work in urban agriculture. In 2008, he was awarded a "genius grant" from the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2010, he was invited to the White House to join First Lady Michelle Obama in launching Let's Move!, and he was included in TIME's 100: The Most Influential People in the World.  To close, I wanted to share a little story Allen told me when I interviewed him for my podcast, The Big Vision Podcast. I asked him to share one of his favorite Growing Power success stories. (It has been edited from the original podcast transcript): "I used to do all the tours back in the day, before we had staff people. I was taking these six-year-olds on a tour, and there was one little girl, very smart. Kept asking me questions along the tour. At six years old, you just want to concentrate on a couple of things. I wanted them to know that there were microorganisms, little bugs in the soil that tickle the root fibers, the micro root fibers of plants, that really help them to grow. I wanted them to be able to say that the microorganisms are helping, and have them understand that soil is alive, has no chemicals in it, and that there are worms, and all kinds of little things in the soil.This little girl kept asking me really intelligent questions. It seemed like it was coming from a middle-schooler instead of a six-year-old.We have animals on the farm in the city, of course. We have over 50 goats, and 500 chickens. We had Muscovy ducks and turkeys, and that sort of thing, and the kids get all excited about the worms. We grow over 100,000 fish so we toss fish food in, and the fish jump up, and the kids get excited. When they see me hold a few thousand worms in my hand, that's one of the highlights.At the end of the tour, I always give that age group an apple or a banana, and give them a choice of what they want. As they were leaving[...]



10 Tips for Starting a Virtual Social Change Book Club

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 23:00:00 +0000

One of my 2010 highlights was organizing a virtual social change book club. A few people have asked me how to organize their own, so I thought I'd share the process with you.   1. Find a handful of people who want to read the same book as you.  In my case, I wanted to find people to read Half the Sky with me, because I knew it would be a hard read.  I sent out a note to the women on the BlogHer Contributing Editor list.  I didn't actually think it would turn into a book club.  It just evolved organically from four people to 11 over the course of the year. 2. Find a time to talk that works for all of your time zones.  We used Doodle to schedule our first few calls, but after awhile, Mondays at 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET kept being the best time, so we've stuck with it. 3. Meet every six weeks.  Six weeks seems to give folks enough time to read the book, especially if it is a tough one -- and to get it from the library, if they don't want to purchase it. 4. Set up a freeconferencecall.com account.  5. Send out a reminder email a week or so before your meeting with the call-in number, and 3-5 reflection questions to help guide your chat. 6. Keep your meeting times manageable.  Our discussions last about 60-75 minutes. 7. Rotate who picks the book.  We go in alphabetical order by first name. 8. Create book selection guidelines.  Over time we've come up with the following loose guidelines: It has to be nonfiction with a "social changey" theme. Read a few pages/the first chapter of the book before you choose it. Be conscious of page count.  Everyone is busy. Choose books that are available as e-books, for people who prefer to read on their Kindle, iPad, etc. 9. Start a Google Doc where people can add ideas for future books.10. Keep asking people if they'd like to join.  Even though we have 11 people on our mailing list, we probably average 6 people per discussion. It's nice to have a large list so that you always have enough people at the meeting. Please feel free to ask questions and to add your own virtual book club tips in the comments. I've also posted a list of the books we read in 2010 to get you started: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide Eating Animals The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health -- A Vision for Change Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer Infidel When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer Britt Bravo, also blogs at Have Fun * Do Good and hosts the Big Vision Podcast. [...]



Own Your Beauty: Secret Agent L's Random Acts of Kindness

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 22:31:33 +0000

Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty. "We're so busy. We walk down the street. We're listening to our iPods. We're plugged into our phones. We're looking down at our BlackBerries. We're not actually acknowledging the people around us. I think that people really, actually want that. I wanted to be a part of that effort to connect with people, and to help people not feel alone, because loneliness is a horrible feeling, a horrible feeling." -- Secret Agent L Laura Miller, aka Secret Agent L, and her affiliated agents perform anonymous acts of kindness missions across the globe and share them on Laura's blog, secretagentl.com. Laura was anonymous with her project for a year until she held a reveal party and fundraiser in July of 2010. Since then, her project has been featured on CNN, Glamour.com, Fox News, and The Huffington Post. In addition, the city of Pittsburgh, where she lives, proclaimed September 14th "Secret Agent L Day." Our conversation began with Laura explaining how the Secret Agent L project works. You can also listen to our chat on the Big Vision Podcast website, or via iTunes. Laura Miller: The Secret Agent L project basically works as a collaborative effort of people all over the world who really want to make a difference through kindness. I started this project back in July of 2009 at the prompting of a friend who was out of state and was having a birthday. She said, "You know, Laura, I think that birthdays aren't any fun, and I don't like them. I just don't want to have a birthday." I tend to disagree with that, because I think birthdays are fantastic. I told her that I was going to send her a little gift for her birthday, and she said, "No, no, no, no. Don't send me anything. Go and do a random act of kindness in my name. You can call yourself 'Secret Agent L, All-Around Swell Chick and Girl Spy.'" I was like, "Oh, well, I love this. This is fun." I just ran with it. I decided to do a little anonymous act of kindness, take photos, call it a secret mission, put it up on a blog, and then I told her about it. She submitted it to Kirtsy, which is ... I don't know if you're familiar with Kirtsy. Britt Bravo: Yes, but you can explain it because some folks might not be familiar. Kirtsy is one of those websites that tells you what's hot on the web that day, or that week, or that month: websites that are cool, stories that are either inspiring, or hilarious, or creepy, or whatever. My friend submitted my newly formed Secret Agent L Mission blog to Kirtsy, and it started getting a lot of traffic. People started emailing me and saying, "Oh my gosh! This is so fun. I want to be a Secret Agent, too. How can I help?" I started emailing people a PDF of this business card that I was attaching to my little acts of kindness, my little missions. I would email the PDF to people, and give them a brief description of how the project works and how they can do their missions. I named these people my "Affiliated Agents." Now I have affiliated agents all over the world who go out, do their little secret missions of kindness, or day brightening, and then they email everything to me. I put it up on the website. It's this amazing community of people who take a few minutes out of their day to leave something behind for someone to find just to let that person know that they're not alone, and that someone is thinking about them. It's very fun. Do they have to fill out an application, go through training? Right. [laughs] How do you become an affiliated agent? [laughs] Their blood type, their firs[...]



Interview with Temra Costa, Author of Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat

Mon, 11 Oct 2010 20:01:04 +0000

Did you know that more than 30% of U.S. farm operators are women? Temra Costa's book, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat, features the stories of over 30 women and how they are changing our food system for the better as farmers, educators, mothers, chefs, businesswomen, and policy wonks.  She is also co-host of the radio show, The Queens of Green on Green 960, which you can also be downloaded as a podcast. I just *loved* this book, and also enjoy Temra's podcast, so I was super excited to interview her this summer for the Big Vision Podcast.  I've posted an edited transcript below, and you can listen to our chat online, on iTunes, or on the player at the bottom of the post. Our conversation began with my asking Temra, "How are women changing the way we eat?" Temra Costa: It was the big impetus for writing the book, knowing that women were largely behind the sustainable food movement, but that they were too busy being the movement and not having enough recognition. It really begged to be written, all these great stories, and there are hundreds more all over the country. There are probably thousands more, because women are so involved in not only preparing foods at home, but in the emerging farmer scene. The last ag census showed that we've increased to 30% of women-owned farms, so that's pretty exciting. Above and beyond that, women are just all-around amazing, working at nonprofits, heading up over 60% of employees, and directing over 85% of household spending. We just know that women are there, very much involved in food, but for some reason those stories weren't being told. Britt Bravo: You interviewed 30 women, and organized them by if they were farmers, activists, and different things. Overall, was there a theme among the stories of the women that you interviewed? There was definitely a theme among the women. Not only were they from all over the country, but they all shared an international, multi-ethnic or cultural base. They are either from other countries, or they are embedded in communities of color or of other places, or they've traveled and worked extensively with communities. From Judy Wicks in Philadelphia to Nancy Vail at Pie Ranch to Mily Treviño-Sauceda, who started the Líderes Campesinas movement, they all share real knowledge and sensitivity around multicultural issues, which is a bit surprising. They all represent either a farmer, educator, activist, or chef, but they still share the connection that they're aware of global issues. They're aware of human issues, both here and abroad, and that somehow drove them all into the position that food was a place where they would be advocating for change through their passion, their life work, and through wanting to celebrate not only communities, but also by becoming activists for changing the way we eat. What's the path that brought you to writing this book? It's clear from the book, and from some of the things that you've done, that you're very passionate about this issue. What brought you here? Food for me is something that impacts all of our lives, and it was a place where I could focus the most of my energy and really impact community, environment, health, soil, air, social equity issues, community building, and how we do, or do not interact with each other.  Food became the central hub for me where I would really focus. I became an activist during college. A lot of women in the book had that same experience. It's an eye-opening thing, college. You are exposed to new information.  I traveled overseas, similar to many of the women in the book. They traveled. They become more aware of global economies, of how our global economy impacts other countries, the opening of how we become more aware of our actions and how they impact others. I was already studying agriculture at the University Wisconsin-Madison. [...]



25 Tips for Eating Locally on a Budget

Fri, 09 Jul 2010 18:08:31 +0000

Even though I know that eating fresh, local food is good for my health, community and the environment, I don't always do it. It's challenging enough to find time and money to shop and cook in a healthy way, but adding eating locally into the mix feels like an overwhelming challenge. That's why I recently attended a panel about Eating Locally on a Budget with Deborah Madison (Local Flavors, Seasonal Fruit Desserts), Leda Meredith, (The Locavore's Handbook), Jessica Prentice, (Full Moon Feast ), and Temra Costa (Farmer Jane) with the hope of finding suggestions for how to eat locally with limited time and money. I've compiled 25 ideas for eating locally on a budget from their discussion, and I hope you'll share your own tips in the comments: Change your mindset 1. Reframe thinking about spending money on fresh, local, and organic food as an investment, rather than a luxury. 2. Prioritize spending money on food over other things. 3. Embrace limits. Have more expensive food for special occasions, not every day. Change your shopping habits 4. Every fruit and vegetable has a season. Within that season there is a peak season, which is the cheapest time to buy them. 5. Create purchasing criteria. Prioritize which foods you will be flexible with, and which you will always buy when they are organic and local. 6. Walk around the farmers' market before you buy anything to compare prices. 7. Make a list before shopping to prevent impulse buys. 8. Don't go shopping when you're hungry to prevent over-buying. 9. Get over "meat prejudice." Stewing cuts are cheaper than steak and hamburger. Whole animals and cuts with the bone in them are cheaper than, for example, a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Mutton is cheaper than lamb. 10. Find out if your farmers' market takes food stamps. (Some do.) Change your cooking habits 11. Plan your menu around seasonal fruits and veggies. 12. Eat the whole vegetable (e.g. beet and the beet greens, chard leaves and stems). 13. Use bone broth when cooking to get inexpensive nutrition without having to add meat to the dish. 14. Embrace rice and beans! 15. Use a slow cooker. 16. Use a pressure cooker (apparently they don't blow up anymore!). 17. Always cook enough to have leftovers. Change your lifestyle 18. Grow your own fruits and veggies. If your yard is sunny and your neighbor's is shady, grow the appropriate plants in each of your plots and trade. 19. Can, freeze, pickle, and dry fruits and veggies by yourself or with others while they are in season. 20. Join a community garden. 21. Raise your own chickens and/or bees. 22. Volunteer at farmers' markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) in exchange for free or discounted produce. 23. Buy, cook, and share food with friends and neighbors. 24. Create, or join a CSK (Community Supported Kitchen). 25. Eat nutrient-dense foods. You'll need to eat less, and won't need to buy vitamin supplements. What are your tips for eating locally on a budget? Two of mine are to check out Sustainable Table and Local Harvest. They are great resources for finding farmers' markets, CSAs, food co-ops, and other sustainable food resources. _Photo of heirloom tomatoes from the Temescal Farmers' Market by me.Britt Bravo, also blogs at Have Fun * Do Good. [...]



A Little Bit of Gloom Between Two Slices of Hope: Interview with Diet for a Hot Planet Author, Anna Lappe (AUDIO)

Mon, 31 May 2010 23:34:25 +0000

Reading books about changing the world can be inspiring, but they can also be overwhelming and depressing.Not Anna Lappé's books.After reading each of her books: Hope's Edge (that she co-authored with her mother, Frances Moore Lappé), Grub (that she co-authored with Bryant Terry), and now her new book, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, I've felt hopeful and energized.I talked with Anna about her new book via Skype for the Big Vision Podcast earlier in the month. You can listen to our conversation on the player below, or on iTunes, as well as read an edited transcript of the interview. Britt Bravo: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, Anna. I really loved your book because I read a lot of "social-changey" type books, and I often feel really discouraged when I finish them, but I didn't when I read yours. I felt completely inspired and happy, and have been telling everybody about it. Anna Lappé: Thank you so much. I certainly didn't want my book to add to the gloom and doom literature that makes us feel so demoralized. In fact, one of my closest friends read the book and had the same reaction that you had. She's taken to calling it a "gloom sandwich." You've got the gloom on the inside with two pieces of hope as the bread on either side.She said, "Just as I was reading it, and just when I had come to the point where I started feeling, 'Oh my God, how are we ever going to make our way out of this?' You would douse me with another dose of hope."That's what I love about all of your books. You create a great balance: keeping folks informed, and bringing up things that are important and provocative, but also keeping us hopeful, which is so important, because otherwise, how do you have any energy to make change?Going along with the sandwich metaphor, I liked how you divided the book into the sections: Crisis, the Spin that's put on the crisis, Hope, and Action. I'd love to talk about it in those sections.We'll start with the gloomy part, with the crisis. Can you talk a little bit about what the crisis is, and what the connection is between today's food system and climate change? I think that more and more of us are aware that the climate crisis is real. It's serious. It's probably the biggest crisis to afflict, certainly our species. We've come to a degree of understanding about the root causes of the crisis: man-made greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, among them being the greatest. Yet, I think we're still in the dark about a lot of the drivers behind these greenhouse gas emissions, and certainly, we're in the dark when it comes to food.What I write about in the book is the role of the food sector, which includes farming, but also includes all the processing that goes into making our food, the chemicals that go into growing our chemically-raised crops, as well as the waste end of the food cycle (what happens to our food after we throw it away, and how that contributes to landfills and methane emissions from landfills). If you add up the whole food system, the whole food sector, what you find is that it contributes to one-third of all of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions. One-third. In fact, that percentage is greater than all of the emissions associated with the transport sector. We've heard a lot about the role of cars and planes. We've heard a lot about the transport sector. I think we've heard a lot less about food.What I argue in the book is that it's time for us to have a broader conversation about the crisis, and to really bring in a more sophisticated understanding of all of the sectors that are contributing to climate change, so that we have our eyes on what we need to do to get ourselves out of the crisis.Moving onto the spin idea, why don't more people know about this? Why are we focusi[...]



Is Part-Time Vegetarian Good Enough?

Sun, 23 May 2010 14:25:07 +0000

Last fall, after watching Food Inc., and reading The Kind Diet and Eating Animals, I began reducing the amount of animal products I eat. By January, or February I was practically vegan, until I started craving cheese, eggs, and fish. Now I eat them here and there, especially when I go to someone's house, or out to a restaurant, and I don't feel like making a big fuss by asking for something special, or if I'm really hungry and the vegetarian/vegan option is lame (e.g. a plate of vegetables).I feel badly for falling off the vegetarian/vegan wagon, especially after watching videos like the one below of Emily Deschanel talking about factory farming, and the work of Farm Sanctuary (via Ecorazzi ): But then I remember what Dr. Jane Goodall said on a Daily Show episode that aired around the time I started eating less meat and dairy that makes me feel like being somewhere in the middle is OK: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c Jane Goodall www.thedailyshow.com Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party "There's an awful lot of extremists and fundamentalists, and you would agree, that's really what's gone wrong with the planet right now. It's the fundamentalists, whether they're right, left, center, whatever they are, if they're fundamentalists, they're dangerous." At the moment, I'm wrestling with what is the best way for me to eat ethically and nutritionally. On the one hand, I feel like there is a lot wrong ethically, environmentally, and nutritionally about how we raise, kill, and process animals for food in the United States. On the other hand, anything that is too extreme one way, or the other sends up little warning flags for me. Plus, sometimes I just want some cheese, or a piece of bacon, or a California roll!I was relieved to find that I wasn't the only one who is struggling with the best way to eat when I watched the video below of a TED Talk by TreeHugger founder, Graham Hill, about being a "weekday vegetarian," (also via Ecorazzi): How do you decide what to eat? Do you think it is it better to live from the middle, or is real progress only made through extreme action? BlogHer Contributing Editor, Britt Bravo, also blogs at Have Fun * Do Good. [...]



Women's Earth Alliance: Co-Directors Melinda Kramer and Amira Diamond

Tue, 04 May 2010 20:33:47 +0000

"To us, it's really about collaboration. It simply doesn't work to stay in your silo, and to grab hold of your mission statement and work alone. There is something really exciting about looking at every juncture for how we can work together, and pool our knowledge and our ability to open doors. We are in the business of door opening, and it's really exciting." - Melinda Kramer"One of the things that's most important to us is doing development in a new way, is doing this work in a way that's not typical. So many of the communities where we work, and the women who we work with have had horrible experiences with organizations who have come into their communities promising them solutions and support, and then have disappeared, or somehow the technologies didn't work, or they weren't able to be maintained." - Amira DiamondWomen's Earth Alliance (WEA), unites women on the front lines of environmental justice causes by coordinating training, technology, and financial support for thriving communities and the Earth. When I sat down to talk with the co-Directors, Melinda Kramer and Amira Diamond, in early March, they had literally just returned from the West African Woman and Water Training in Ghana. They shared stories from their experience there, and talked about how they are trying to do development and social change work differently.Below is an edited transcript of our conversation for the Big Vision Podcast which you can listen to online, or download from iTunes.What is Women's Earth Alliance, and what problem you're trying to solve? Melinda Kramer: Women's Earth Alliance is a global organization and we work around the world uniting women who are on the front lines of environmental causes. We do that by coordinating training, technology, and advocacy support. The problem that we are addressing is a great one. If you look around the world at some of the most pressing environmental challenges, you see women on the front lines of those challenges. 1.2 billion people are without clean water. More than half of those people are women and girls. Women are walking hours each day to access clean water; therefore, they're not getting access to education, and an opportunity to create a livelihood for themselves.If you look around the world at who's producing food, women produce more than half of the world's food, and 7 out of 10 of the world's hungry are women and girls. Over 90 percent of U.S. refineries are on Native American Land. Women are disproportionately affected by environmental toxins. Women hold these toxins in their body, and this is what they have to pass on to their children.When we look at environmental challenges, we can't avoid the question of women's role within designing the solutions. There is not a shortage of resources. The greatest challenge we face is the challenge of access. There are solutions. There are resources, information, training, and funding available in plenty.There are women environmental leaders who are standing up for their communities, around the world, who do not have access to those key resources and information. If they did, they would be guiding their community into a clean, healthy, sustainable, and thriving future. So that's the challenge that we face, and that we address, at Women's Earth Alliance.You have three programs that work in three different areas. How do they help to address some of the challenges and problems that you just spoke about? Amira Diamond: Women's Earth Alliance's programs emerged from an explicit call from our women colleagues on the ground. What we heard was that our colleagues in Africa really needed support around water. Women's Earth Alliance launched a Women and Water Initiative. Currently, that work is through a partnership called the Global Women[...]