RAVS Weekly Update: May 12, 2015

This is a 3-week summary!

The Rochester Area Vegan Society has been busy—apparently so busy there’s been no time to write an update.

We had several outreach events in April and early May:
-On Saturday, April 18, Kimber Gorall and  Phyllis Fleischman staffed a table at an Earth Day event at the University of Rochester,  hosted by Grassroots, the environmental and sustainability group.
-On Thursday, April 23, Carol Barnett staffed a table at a Wellness Fair at the SUNY Brockport MetroCenter (the downtown campus on St. Paul Street).
-On Friday, May 1, Ted Barnett, MD gave a talk on Plant-Based Diet (with special focus on its role in preventing and reversing heart disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer) to the Canandaigua Medical Society, a physicians’ social group which has general-interest programs, and sometimes programs with a medical topic, at its monthly meetings. The attendees were regaled with a vegan buffet at the India House in Victor.
-On Saturday, May 2, Ted Barnett gave a 4-hour workshop on Plant-Based Diet to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes, to the Diabetes Support Group at the Bethel CME Church in downtown Rochester. Carol Barnett made food samples for the breaks (Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice with special salad, Jambalaya) and provided recipes.
-On Saturday, May 9, Phyllis Fleischman and Scott Wagner were the Guest Chefs at the Flavors of the Market food tasting at the Rochester Public Market; Laurie Conrad helped with serving food samples. This event is sponsored jointly by the Rochester Public Market and the Democrat and Chronicle, and takes place outside the Public Market office building every Saturday throughout the season. Scott, Phyllis and Laurie deserve special appreciation because RAVS was asked to pitch in at the last minute after another organization canceled; so they did their planning, shopping and cooking with very little notice. The organizers at the Public Market loved our food sampling and they want RAVS to return, so many thanks! Food is always a great persuader.
Our meeting on May 3, featuring Marty Davey, RD, otherwise known as La Diva Dietitian, was a huge success. Marty gave a very enlightening Powerpoint presentation on being a healthy vegan over the age of 50 (the title of her lecture was “You’re Not Dead Yet!”); and she took questions for a long time after the lecture. The presentation started out with a very entertaining tug-of-war between Marty and her screen persona, La Diva, who is “all about” the food and has limited patience with her alter ego Marty, who spouts all that boring nutrition information. To order Marty’s book or a subscription to her video series, visit http://ladivadietitian.com/ladivadietitian.com/Welcome.html  Please treat yourself to watching some of Marty/LaDiva’s videos on Youtube. If you haven’t seen it already, do watch Marty’s husband, Jim “Fitz” Fitxpatrick doing an impersonation of LaDiva, for a little “Mrs. Doubtfire” action. Marty, Fitz, and their teenage son Seamus are all actors.
Coming up: an outreach event at the Latino Family Fair on Saturday May 30; and our June meeting featuring a panel of vegan cooks, sharing secrets about how to cook “fresh, fast, and frugal” vegan meals.
Carol Barnett, RAVS Co-coordinator

RAVS Weekly Update: April 16, 2015

The week of April 5 was a busy one for RAVS.

VEGANISM AWARENESS EVENT:  On Tuesday, April 7, RAVS member and Nazareth student Rebecca Silliman staged a Veganism Awareness Event in partial completion of requirements for one of her courses, and also for the fun of it! At the Center for Spirituality in the Golisano Academic Center (the beautifully repurposed motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who have a new home now), Silliman put together a panel for discussion and Q&A, made up of herself, Claire LaDeliaAlexa Laubscher, and Dr. Jill Brooks, and moderated by Olivia Fontana. It was a great event, attended by about 25 people and with the sounds of the Nazareth Wind Symphony in the background (they were having a dress rehearsal in the nearby concert hall). Delicious and abundant vegan food samples included food donated by The Red Fern (tempeh sliders), Vive Bistro and Bakery (dips and spreads), and Voula’s (dips and spreads); as well as Amy’s vegan pizzas and desserts and plenty of raw food and crudités. A wonderful job done; and it’s great to see so many committed young vegans!

PLANT-BASED WORKSHOP AT LORI’S  On Saturday, April 11, Ted Barnett, MD gave a 2-hour presentation on plant-based nutrition to about 25 people at Lori’s Natural Foods Center, as part of the store’s Spring Into Health program. It was a lively time with lots of interest and questions, as well as vegan food samples provided by Lori’s (olive-y salad, spinach artichoke dip, and carrot cake). Thanks to Stephanie Beiter from Lori’s (a RAVS member) for putting this together. Stephanie tells us that Lori’s is experimenting with making its own vegan cheeses based on the recipes from Miyoko Schinner’s book Artisan Vegan Cheese. (BTW, if you go into Lori’s, please put a note into the suggestion box asking the store to carry vegan cheeses made by Miyoko’s Kitchen, http://miyokoskitchen.com )

FUND RAISER DINNER AT VIVE BISTRO AND BAKERY  On Sunday, April 12, we had a hugely successful and pleasurable fund raiser dinner at the new French-inspired Vive Bistro and Bakery at 130 East Avenue. We completed filled two seatings of 60 people each. The setting is elegant, the service was friendly and the food was divine. Diners had a choice of either Potato and Leek Soup or Vine Harvest Salad (grapes, pears and mesclun greens with balsamic vinaigrette), for starters; a choice of Potato Gratin with roasted mushrooms and hollandaise, or Provencal Pasta with tomato sauce, fennel and rosemary, for the entree; and Orange Madeleines for dessert (Proust never had it so good).  Thanks to owners Pam Hathaway, Nick Lemesis, and Keith Savino; chef Mark Demara; and all the cooks and servers. If you haven’t already done so, please patronize Vive, which is open for lunch 7 days a week, and now open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. And, Vive now has it’s liquor license!

Carol Barnett, RAVS Co-coordinator

RAVS Weekly Update: April 6, 2015

The RAVS Weekly Mushroom — Because We’re Growing

All week reservations came in for the final few spots at the April 11 fund raiser dinner at Vivie Bistro and Bakery. That event is now officially closed.

On Saturday at sundown, 26 people gathered at the Brighton Town Park Lodge to celebrate the 22nd Annual RAVS 2nd Night Seder. On Saturday, as we’ve done for several years now, we shared this event with the Rochester Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ). As many of you already know, a seder is a ceremonial service and meal to celebrate Passover, the liberation of the Jews from bondage in Egypt (“Let my people go”). The theme of liberation is a universal one which resonates in every time, including our own. It was used as a lodestone for the civil rights movement, and it can serve as well to express our desire to liberate animals from domination and exploitation by human beings. Our seder expressed solidarity with all social justice movements, bringing all who suffer within its circle of compassion. The service and dinner were vegan: the many ceremonial foods which traditionally come from animals found vegan substitutes that were especially significant, as they caused us to really think about the meaning of the symbol. Instead of an egg (as a source of life), an olive which contains a seed. Instead of a shank bone to represent sacrifice, a beet which contains a staining red liquid but no cruelty. Other items, not the traditional seder plate, were on our seder plate to lend the service further meaning: an orange which represents diversity, including women’s rights and gay rights; tomatoes which make us mindful of the migrant workers in Florida who pick our winter tomatoes and who are struggling for rights and for economic survival. Barry Swan led the service and we all participated in the readings. Thanks to all who shared in this event, with special thanks to Barry Swan for conducting the service, and to both Barry Swan and Ellie Cherin for organizing the event.

Carol Barnett, RAVS Co-coordinator

RAVS Weekly Update: March 29, 2015

A “habitrail,” in case you don’t know, is a sequence of entertaining or life-sustaining stops along the way for a hamster in a cage. We first heard the word in a testimonial from someone who had so many cardiac interventions that his blood vessels were a “habitrail” of stents, and even with that he kept getting sicker, until he read Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book, and started a no-oil vegan diet, which has restored him to health and taken him off all medications.

I thought a “habitrail” was a fun term for the things we do to sustain the Rochester Area Vegan Society from day to day.

On Monday of this week, I attended a discussion at Brighton Library, led by Tina Kolberg, Vice-President of Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate New York (arauny.org—they have a new website!), on the topic of “Speciesism.” Even though the attendance was low—six people including Tina—it was a very interesting discussion which delved into the roots of the problem that our own organization tries to address, namely, the sense that it is acceptable to dominate animals of other species to the point of confining them and killing them for food. Why do we (and if not we, most people) think it is okay, or at least act as if it is okay to do this? An upside of the low attendance is that everyone got to contribute fully and freely. ARAUNY hopes to have regular discussions of this sort, so visit their website and get on their mailing list if you would like to participate. RAVS may also post some of these events, but if you are interested, be sure to stay in direct contact with ARAUNY.

On Tuesday, RAVS had a table at the annual Wellness Fair at Nazareth College. I staffed the table with Ken McBride and Yetta Panitch. We love to reach young people at such events; and also we have some success talking with the other presenters, who are often health care professionals or entrepreneurs who want to know more about vegan diet. We ran into Rebecca Silliman and Alexa Laubscher, two Naz students who are also RAVS members. Rebecca had an important message which we pass on here:

Rebecca Silliman is a Nazareth College junior who is planning an event for her social entrepreneurship class; the event will be her final project and its purpose will be to raise awareness about veganism and to change people’s attitudes about it. The date/time is Tuesday, April 7 at 6:00 PM in the Golisano Academic Center at Nazareth College  (the converted motherhouse, for those of you who are familiar with the Nazareth campus). Rebecca will have some vegans in the Nazareth community sitting on a panel to field questions; she also plans to get food donated from vegan restaurants and natural food stores. Rebecca would love to have any interested RAVS members sit on the panel, or just attend, mingle and enjoy the food. No need to contact Rebecca if you just want to attend, but if you are interested in sitting on the panel, please email her at  <rsillim0@mail.naz.edu> or call her cell phone at 716-581-3002.

On Saturday, Ted and I went to a yoga center in East Bloomfield, Grounded By Yoga, to conduct the nutrition segment of a teacher training course being given by the lead teacher at the center, Sandy Hicks. This is the 3rd time we’ve done this particular course. Things started inauspiciously, because that morning Ted got called into the intensive care unit to do an emergency case. We do lots of food samples for this event in addition to a Powerpoint presentation and all of the necessary paraphernalia for that, so I had to pack all those things (food, equipment, books), drive to the venue and unload all of it myself. Meanwhile, Ted’s case went well but by the time he made it to our event he was 45 minutes late. As often happens, the shake-up actually worked to everyone’s benefit: I introduced myself, talked about RAVS and offered my food samples and cooking tips a lot sooner than I would’ve according to schedule, and we all (it’s a small group of 12) had started to get to know one another by the time Ted arrived. It just got better from there—a very fluid, spontaneous program with lots of questions and contributions from the students, and a feeling that most, if not all of them, were convinced to try a vegan life style. Sometimes when the best laid plans of men (and women) gang agley, it’s a good thing.

That’s it for this week on the RAVS habitrail.

Carol Barnett, RAVS Co-coordinator