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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Vegan Debate

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Last week, I caught this great live debate on veganism. The online viewership was so large that buffering issues were a problem. The good news is, it was recorded!

What I really liked about this debate was its formality, in that it followed standard rules of discourse and didn’t devolve into a shouting match. It also seemed each side had plenty of time to make their points and counterpoints.

The audience was polled before and after the discussion to determine whether they were for or against the motion “Don’t Eat Anything With A Face.” The pre-debate results were 24% for, 51% against, and 25% undecided. (See below for the after.)


Don’t Eat Anything With A Face (Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates)

Panelists Arguing For The Motion:

Panelists Arguing Against The Motion:

  • Chris Masterjohn – Nutritional Sciences Researcher and Blogger at The Daily Lipid (where he has since started a series of posts reflecting on the debate)
  • Joel Salatin – Farmer & Author

Post-debate Poll Results: 45% for, 43% against, and 12% undecided. Bravo! A pretty impressive change of heart. :)

For more information, including links to research papers, detailed biographies, and audio downloads, click the link under the video.

I also wanted to point out there is analysis by Animal Visuals debunking the claim of the panelists on the Against side that fewer animals would be killed by humans consuming grass-fed cattle than a vegan diet supplied via mechanized crop harvesting.

Tiny Houses

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tiny houses, pouring over pictures and stories of others who’ve downsized and simplified their lives in such dramatic and intentional ways. I find the concept both aesthetically and philosophically pleasing. :)

There’s generally a back-to-nature feel to these houses with the focus on lots of windows for natural light, the loft beds, and the cozy porches. Add solar power, etc. to get “off the grid”, and you’re clearly living more lightly on the planet.

Here’s a short PBS segment on the tiny house movement…

And a moving TEDx talk from Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings who was featured in the above story:

She’s inspired many people with her journey and perspective on life, including this couple who have found freedom by being debt-free and mobile due to their tiny home…

Definitely an attractive lifestyle, wouldn’t you agree? My dream would be to have a few friends join me in setting up a circle of solar-powered tiny houses surrounding a common area on a nice chunk of land with a big vegetable garden and time to live life unencumbered.

Kid-Friendly Hikes in NH

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

While we haven’t done as much hiking this year as last, the good news is Scott’s daughter is now at an age (almost six) where she, and hence her mother, can join us on some of our adventures.

The trick is not the elevation, as kids like to climb things, but rather the length of the excursion. So it was that the first hike of the year saw us revisiting Pawtuckaway’s South Mountain, just via a different, steeper yet shorter (0.4 miles), back route known as Tower Trail.

Getting to the trailhead was an adventure in itself as we wound our way along a seemingly never-ending, very bumpy/rutted dirt road. At one point — which turned out to be a bit scary for the little one — we were practically driving thru a beaver-dammed marsh as the water came right up to the edge of the road on either side. Unfortunately, I have no pictures from this part of the trip, but here’s a sampling of the hike itself.


beautiful deep woods


Scott trailblazing the rocky slope


the firetower at the summit


one of the views from the tower

For the summer’s second hike, along the Boulder Field Trail, also at Pawtuckaway State Park, we stayed on more level ground and extended the time. We ended up walking out for about 45 minutes to an hour and then back the same way. The calculations were almost spot on as only the last five to ten minutes were tiring for the young’un.


after some time, you come upon a stunning body of water
complete with islands and kayakers


geese along the marshy edge
(word is great blue herons live here too)

my favorite pic (a cropped version is now my Facebook cover image)
ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL!

The last picture is of one of the “glacial erratics… deposited when glacial ice melted near the end of the Ice Age.” If you look closely, you’ll see a climber about a third of the way up. The trail splits before this formation giving you the option to walk along the top. We vowed to go that way when we next make this trek.

Scott’s daughter had a blast both times and is excited to get in more hikes. Alas, the next one we have planned is Mount Sunapee with the guys, rather a more ambitious undertaking, but there will be more kid-friendly hiking in the future. If you’re looking to introduce your children to the joys of nature, the two here are a great place to start.

Food Revolution Summit 2013

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Just a heads up, in case you haven’t already registered, the Food Revolution Summit starts this Saturday, April 27th! This free online event promises to be a fascinating week jam-packed with interviews of leading nutritionists, food activists, doctors, and celebrities.

The interviewers will be none other than John Robbins and his son Ocean. It was John’s book Diet for a New America which had such an impact on my Dad when it came out that he immediately went vegetarian. At the time my sister and I were teenagers, and it was at least in part through eating at his place on the weekends and learning his reasons for going vegetarian, that I also made the commitment, in my junior year of college. Ten years after that, I went vegan and never looked back.

Other speakers at the summit whose contributions have really guided me include Dr. Dean Ornish, whose book Everyday Cooking was, I believe, the first vegetarian cookbook I purchased; Kris Carr, whose journey of healing and discovery I followed when her documentary Crazy, Sexy Cancer first aired on The Learning Channel; and Dr. Joel Fuhrman whose book Eat To Live, along with a simultaneous reading of The China Study, coaxed me into what was to be a two-week experiment in veganism. ;)

There are, of course, others too in such a distinguished panel who’ve made an impact on me and countless others. For example, Dr. Neal Barnard and his Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). His studies on using a vegan diet for diabetes management and cardiovascular health have yielded impressive results, and his group’s 21-Day Kickstarts, diabetes forums, videos, and animal rights activism continue to introduce the plant-based lifestyle into people’s consciousness and practice.


Part 2 | Part 3

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to hearing these discussions. Topics will range from nutrition (including soy, fats, supplementation, and more) to the environment and food policy (the Farm Bill, etc.).

Join me in listening in; register for the Food Revolution Summit today.


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