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