Our vegetarian society has been thriving of late, with record crowds at our meetings, and eager participation at our outreach events and classes.

Our Novembers meeting was a lively and fact-filled lecture on “The Biology of Disgust,” positing a natural human tendency towards plant-based diet, given by Milton Mills, M.D. In December, our yearly Winter Solstice celebration was warm and music-filled. And at our January meeting, a full house watched films from Movies on a Shoestring (now Rochester International Film Festival, rochesterfilmfest.org), graciously brought to us by Ellie Cherin with popcorn by son David Cherelin.

We look forward to an environmentally-themed event in February; a program on animal sentience in March, as well as the annual RAVS seder; and our annual restaurant meal and fund raiser at the Natural Oasis in April. Look for more details on this page, and on the calendar on p. 8.

In addition to our meetings, RAVS has been extending its usual outreach to the community. In October, at the Integrative Health Conference (RAVS members Julia Stein, M.D. and Gail Weiser, L.S.W., P.A. were among the organizers), RAVS had a table staffed by Carol Barnett. And in December, RAVS had its usual table at the Metro Justice Alternative Fair. Thanks to staffers Shelley Adams, Carol Barnett, Handy Cowles, David Daunce, Nancy Hallowell, Tina Kolberg, Carol Manuel, Ken McBride, Walt McBurney, Canden Simmons, and Joy Vandling; and bakers Ellie Cherin, Katherine DaCosta, and Karen Evans. Thanks also to Tina Kolberg for featuring her lovely art work at our table and donating profits. RAVS also had a table at the First Unitarian Church’s “Benefits Boutique” in December, staffed by Carol Barnett and Tina Kolberg.

PLEASE ATTEND the March meeting of the Rochester Area Vegetarian Society to hear Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D. speak on “The Inner Lives of Animals: Lessons from a Vegan Biologist” Dr. Balcombe is the acclaimed author of Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good; Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals; and The Exultant Ark. He is Department Chair for Animal Studies, Humane Society University (humanesocietyuniversity.org). Don’t miss Dr. Balcombe’s captivating images and accounts of animal behavior.

RAVS SEDER The 20th annual RAVS vegan seder will be held on the 2nd night of Passover, Tuesday, March 26; see p. 8 for time and location. RULES FOR SEDER: Bring a dish that is vegan and also conforms to Passover tradition. No wheat is allowed (no pasta, bread, crackers, or cookies) except matzoh and matzoh products such as farfel and matzoh meal–but no egg matzoh because it is not vegan. Other grains such as rice are excluded. Beans and potatoes, veggies and fruits are fine.

RAVS FUND RAISER DINNER We are thrilled to be holding our dinner and fund raiser at Rochester’s only vegan restaurant, Natural Oasis at 288 Monroe Ave. We will gather between 5 and 6PM for a cash bar, and to browse the silent auction of donated goods and services, including items from Wizard of Clay. Dinner will be prepared by chef Nick Bovenzi with the assistance of Andrea Parros, who will be preparing desserts. Seating at the restaurant is limited, so reserve early. See p. 8 for further details.

PLANT-BASED NUTRITION COURSE will be offered again by RAVS’s own Ted D. Barnett, M.D. with recipes and food samples by Carol Barnett. The class will be on a series of six Tuesdays in April and May at the JCC. Details p. 8.

WE MOURN THE LOSS of RAVS member Craig Person. Please read the remembrance on p. 7.

GET WELL SOON to RAVS member John Jongen: see an account of his injury and recovery on p. 7.

BEST WISHES FOR CONTINUED HEALTH: RAVS member Ann McCulloch was recently fortunate to receive a kidney transplant, which has given her a new lease on life.

CORRECTION We welcome out-of-town members Alice Barletta & Donald Hayden, who were not both named in our last membership update.

BRAVO TO WEGMANS for its new line of vegan “meats,” charmingly named “Don’t Be Chicken,” “Don’t Have a Cow,” and “Don’t be Piggy.” Not all vegans use these products, but look for them if you do, and be sure to thank Wegmans for making them available.

AND TO TRADER JOE’S for offering a cornucopia of delicious foods for vegans and their own line of vegan “meats,” including a vegan stuffed “turkey” with gravy during the holidays.

THANKS TO MANN’S JEWELERS for the clever ad in their fall/winter 2012 bridal issue: “Providing a vegan option to your vegetarian option makes it a wedding; gold makes it a marriage.”

VEGAN TIDBITS IN THE D&C Our local newspaper put in a plug for Meatless Mondays (“RocBlog of the Day,” 8/13/12) and had an article on vegan (and gluten-free) beer on 11/16/12, directing the reader to barnivore.com for more information.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Thanks to RAVS member Alex Chernavsky for his letter published in the Democrat and Chronicle on 2/6/13, criticizing the Holley Fire Dept. for its squirrel-killing contest:

“Unlike some other animal-lovers, however, I don’t think the “Squirrel Slam” fundraiser is much worse than a chicken barbecue, pig roast, or spaghetti-and-meatball dinner.

Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. Eating animal products is linked to numerous health problems. And billions of farm animals are killed each year for no better reason than because they taste good. Most of these farm animals live and die under appalling conditions that would be considered criminally cruel if they were applied to dogs or cats.

Fortunately, you do have a compassionate alternative: Go vegan for the Earth, for your health and for the animals.” Thank you, Alex!

Carol Barnett