Newsletter #2

  1. Introduction
  2. Recipes
  3. Book Review
  4. Poem
  5. Questions and Answers

1.  Introduction

Welcome to the  Purposeful Palate e-Newsletter.

Each month you will find an assortment of Recipes; Veg Fun Food Facts and Cooking Techniques; Travel; Q&A; and so much more–the so much more this time is a book review on Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer!

Enjoy the beginning of an adventure that begins with questions and ends with a more refined palate—a Purposeful Palate.

2. Recipes

Just in case all of my loyal newsletter and blog readers started to think I was biased towards only cooking and baking BULGARIAN recipes, let me assure you that I’m not.  In fact, the following recipe hails from Shanghai, China.

My good friend, great journalist, and aspiring novelist, Kellie Schmitt, has spent almost two years living and working in China.  Needless to say, her various, and usually accidental “meat tastings” have left her opting for a more vegetarian lifestyle. When kidneys and chicken legs are on the menu, that bok choy and tofu looks incredibly more appetizing!

Kellie keeps it simple here and stresses the importance of using locally produced, organic veggies that she buys from a local man who is truly a one-man organic show!  The produce may be smaller than the items you buy at the grocery store, but it is also way more flavorful than she’s ever experienced (other than the time she had her own garden).

1. Add a bunch of water and 1 clove garlic, broken into sections, one chopped onion, cut into fours, a carrot or two (plus green tops if you have them), mushrooms, celery (a few sticks) thyme, sage, and any other herbs you have fresh.

2. Let simmer for exactly an hour, more and the soup will get the wilted flavor.

3. Using a cheese cloth or sieve, separate into just broth.

4. Cut up organic potato and carrots into small chunks. Simmer with the broth for 20 minutes.

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve!


3.  Eating Animals Book Review (aka A Vegan’s Thoughts on a Non-Vegan’s (?) Fight for Veganism):

I have been vegan for 13 years.  I have been an animal rights advocate for longer.  Over the course of these years, I have learned, heard, and understood at a visceral level the atrocities, abuses, and torture that are inherent and indistinguishable from factory farming.  Animal husbandry has been replaced with large corporate agribusiness.  Factory farming is our current reality.  Our current reality is hell.  Step inside a factory farm and you will experience Hell on Earth, literally.  Step inside a slaughterhouse and–in comparison to the factory farm–you will think Hell is Heaven.

No worries however, as you will never be allowed inside a slaughterhouse unless you are part of the industry or go in undercover and risk your life in the process.  Factory farms are extremely hard to infiltrate, slaughterhouses even more difficult.  And there is good reason for that.  If the facts were so blatantly obvious, if the stench was so bad that your nostrils burned, the cries so loud that your ears started ringing and you went deaf, and the abuse and torture so prolific, so in your face, you would stop eating animals.  This is what happened to our author.

As a result of spending three years researching factory farming, Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the critically acclaimed fiction novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, writes a non-fiction book that makes a persuasive, solid, rational–and also highly emotional–argument for going vegetarian.  Fundamentally, however, it is an argument for being human, for being humane.

I have been vegan for 13 years.  I thought I had seen and heard it all. I was wrong.  Reading this book brought tears to my eyes, made me want to go vegan immediately.  And then I remembered that I already was.  But it did not feel like enough. I wanted to do more. I racked my brain for additional ways I could advocate for the animals, to stop factory farming, to stop the violence inflicted in the agriculture industry.  If there was ever a time I wanted to go back to the idyllic life of earlier decades this was it—an era when factory farming was a mere nightmare on the horizon; a time where animal husbandry and small farms owned by real farmers who cared for their animals and knew them as individuals, not as mere commodities, existed.

Foer details how piglets that don’t grow fast enough and are a drain on resources are picked up by their hind legs, swung, and than bashed headfirst onto the concrete floor.  One factory farm worker explains that they “thump” as many as 120 in one day.  I wish this “euthanasia” were the worst of the violence, the torture, and the sadism found in factory farming and chronicled within the pages of Foer’s book.  But it isn’t.  Keep reading, and if you can’t keep reading then maybe you shouldn’t keep eating animals.

At the very least, one should be able to stomach the inhumanity they are consuming.  Furthermore, factory farms don’t just churn out violence against animals; they also harm humans.  As Foer highlights, factory farms are huge contributors to global warming; create pollution (let’s mention here the geyser of fecal matter that farms spray up into the air when they run out of room in their “lagoons,” thereby bequeathing their neighbors with a healthy dose of nosebleeds, earaches, chronic diarrhea, burning lungs, and potential neurological damage); and play a huge role in the spread of mutant pathogens, most notably the swine flu.

Foer does statistics well.  His use and presentation of them become big eyebrow raisers instead of mind numbing and inaccessible. For example, he can translate appalling abstract numbers into visceral equivalents – such as saying that the world’s largest pork producer annually kills 31 million pigs, which equates to more hogs killed per year than the combined human populations of 18 major US cities (including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago).

One noticeable omission, and perhaps a glaring lack of courage, was Foer’s failure to confront the dairy industry.  Foer remarks that it was his decision to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, but he keeps closed lips regarding whether or not he is vegan . . .hmm, very interesting. For much of Eating Animals, it appears that Foer is arguing for veganism as the moral route. Then, it turns out, he isn’t—or, at least, not quite.

He describes himself (not in the book, but in recent interviews) as somewhere between vegetarian and vegan, not consuming dairy and eggs in visible forms, but still occasionally eating them as ingredients in foods. It seems unlikely that Foer has reached the end of his own ethical dietary journey, though.  And considering he states that giving up eggs is the most important dietary change an individual can make from an ethical viewpoint, it is surprising that he still toes the line between vegetarianism and veganism.

His omission of dairy farming is one clue that maybe he isn’t vegan.  His interviews post book release don’t seem to clarify this point, and I suspect only my curiosity desires to know the truth.  But OUR truth isn’t defined by Foer’s personal choice, but rather by our own. Thanks to Foer’s book, he gives us the opportunity to determine that truth for ourselves.

However, Foer’s argument against factory farming logically subsumes the dairy industry as well.  Meat AND dairy are both produced via factory farming.  Therefore, although he doesn’t overtly address this topic, logic concludes that his argument against factory farming must include not only meat production but also dairy production.

Back in 2006, Foer released a video entitled “If This is Kosher. . .”  It details the atrocities and unsanitary conditions of kosher slaughterhouses and, thus, presents a powerful argument for Jewish vegetarianism.  He calls on Jews to reject the standard food industry’s violation of the Jewish spirit of kashrut by subjecting animals to unnecessary pain and suffering.  I applaud Foer for his ongoing quest to reveal what goes on behind the closed doors of factory farming.  I’m glad that this book is clearly the result of multiple steps along the way, much research, time, dedication, and passion.

This book drives home the point that Foer is not unique in his ethics or morals-he represents all of us, he is one of us.  He speaks not from a place of elitism or superiority but from a place of compassion and understanding. He’s been where we all have been, or still are.  He adopts a new perspective after he has gained the facts.  And his point is simply that–if we all have the facts our perspectives most likely will change as well.  The question, however, is:  Will our choices regarding eating animals change too?

Foer sums it up best in this quote from an online discussion held on 11/19/09 by The Washington Post:

“Sex feels good, but we don’t go around having sex with anyone that attracts our attention. We say no to lots of things that would please us. I would like to punch people every now and then, but I don’t. I would like to have something for free rather than pay for it. I would like to skip to the front of the line… I don’t mean to brush aside the taste of meat, which is a powerful attraction. But its power is not without limit.”

Ignorance is NOT bliss.  With his new book, Foer proves this in spades.

4. Poem

Here is the perfect follow-up to the above book review.  I loved Shel Silverstein as a child, and apparently I was a smart kid! Shel really knows how to tell the truth in the most engaging way.

By children’s book author and poet Shel Silverstein

Thanksgiving dinner’s sad and thankless

Christmas dinner’s dark and blue

When you stop and try to see it

From the turkey’s point of view.

Sunday dinner isn’t sunny

Easter feasts are just bad luck

When you see it from the viewpoint

Of a chicken or a duck.

Oh how I once loved tuna salad

Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too

Till I stopped and looked at dinner

From the dinner’s point of view.

5. Questions and Answers

Please email me your questions on anything you could possibly want to know (about veganism or vegetarianism of course—if it involves computer programming I’ll have to outsource for that) at

For any questions I receive, I will do my utmost best to answer in next month’s e-newsletter.  Not only can you gain some erudite knowledge, but you can also see your name in print! And if that is not incentive enough, I will send you a personalized “Thank You, You are the Very Best e-Newsletter Subscriber Ever” email.

Finally, we don’t want to end this month’s newsletter without a bit of humor.  Thanks to Bruce B. for sharing this with me. If the above book review didn’t scare you into going veg, then maybe this will!

whenbananasgobadpicI hope you enjoyed this month’s e-Newsletter.  Feel free to pass it around and let your friends, coworkers, and loved ones know that their very own Vegan Coach is waiting for them to begin their vegan/vegetarian journey.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY TREAT . . . refer a friend and you AND your friend will receive a free consultation!

With me as your Coach–in a very short while–you’ll learn to be Vegan, but you’ll do it with STYLE!

Email me at or call me at 510.825.1251 to begin your new vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.

The choice is yours, the moment is NOW!

Happy Eating and Living,


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