Tag Archives: Connecting the Dots

Animals and the Restaurant Industry

Next month I’m signed up to renew my Food Handler’s Certificate here in Toronto.  It’s not a difficult course – it’s one day of training with a multiple choice exam at the end.  Once you pass, you get a little card and pin and the Certificate is valid for five years.  The point of the course is to learn proper food handling, e.g., required cooking temperatures, how to avoid cross-contamination, how to store foods properly, and so on.  It’s a useful thing to have should I ever return to the restaurant industry and this will be my fourth time taking it but my first as a vegan.  It’ll be an interesting day in that over half of it will be spent learning the proper techniques for preparing and cooking dead animal parts. Yay. Continue reading

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The Birds

Last summer, outside the office building where I was working, a co-worker came across a baby sparrow laying on the concrete, right in front of the steps to the main entrance.  Because I worked the front desk at the time and my job fell under “general office administration”, I was the first one she asked to come help her figure out what to do.  We headed downstairs and outside, quickly finding the wounded bird.  He had a bloody wound on his tiny head, was making the tiniest of chirps and moving very slowly towards one corner of the steps, presumably to die. We crouched around him as he struggled, making sure no one stepped on him as they entered and exited the building.  It was clear he had fallen from a nest and we looked up and spotted the nest in the giant number zero that was high on the front facade which marked the building’s address.

We didn’t really know what to do next and were just starting to wonder if animal services would even make the trip for a tiny bird when we saw an adult sparrow enter the nest, likely the mother.  She was chirping up a storm and hopped around the nest several times.  She then flew down onto the concrete, near where we were still huddled around the baby who was now in the corner, eyes closed and not making a sound.  She flitted around, chirping incessantly and we got out of the way in the hopes that she would see the baby but he was too far away. She just kept flying from the nest to the ground, nest to the ground, in what appeared to us to be a frenzied search (sparrows, like squirrels, seem skittish to me already and I know little about their behaviours but you didn’t have to be Holmes and Watson to see what had happened here). Continue reading

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Out with the Old

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope each of you have had a safe and enjoyable holiday so far.  Like last year, it was another snow-less Christmas here in Toronto, that is until Monday night when we got our first snowstorm of the season.  Too bad it was three days too late to have a white Christmas but at least the lack of snow on Christmas Day meant safer travelling for everyone.

Over the holidays, I re-watched a great lecture given by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the author of several books including, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge.  A renowned speaker as well, Patrick-Goudreau approaches her teaching as a “how-to” for many people.  As she explains in her lecture called The Rise of the Excuse-itarian, there’s a lot of information on why people are vegan but her mission is to help people do the how – to guide people into making the transition from eating meat and dairy to plants and, “to do it joyfully, healthfully, and to do it confidently.”   Continue reading

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Parallel Universes

I find myself wondering, especially around the holidays, if recovering alcoholics and vegans feel the same sometimes.  Drinking alcohol is an expected societal norm in that everyone thinks anyone over the age of 19 does it.  When you go to a restaurant, the first thing you’re asked after being seated is, “What can I get you to drink?” followed by hearing the specials which usually center around a meat of some kind.  The eating of meat, dairy and eggs is the same as alcohol in that everyone assumes you do it. Just this week, Julian had a minor procedure done at the hospital and upon his discharge was told to keep his meals light that day and to, “Go home and have some scrambled eggs or chicken noodle soup.”  Grrrr.  I bit my tongue because what was the point of correcting a person I was never going to see again?

I’m guilty myself of assuming that everyone drinks alcohol and I’m trying to be more mindful of that.  I know there are people who simply don’t drink and never have but I wonder if recovering addicts, people who have experienced firsthand the damages of alcohol and have made the change from “before” to “after” ever get frustrated with the endless promotion and sale of alcohol knowing what they now know about the consequences of it.  Especially when alcohol, like animal products, is advertised as everything from sexy to traditional, almost as something we deserve to indulge ourselves in from time to time. Continue reading

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The Reasons Mount

In late October of this year, I read the headline – as I’m sure many of us did – that the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report that the consumption of both red and processed meats can increase our chance of certain cancers due to the carcinogens contained in them.  The report was based on, “an analysis of more than 800 epidemiological studies,” which was evaluated by 22 scientists, from 10 countries, at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Apparently there are several designations of carcinogens that are the biggest threats to causing cancer, with Group 1 being the highest and most dangerous. To put it in perspective, tobacco and asbestos are both in Group 1 and now, according to the report from WHO, so is processed meat, such as hot dogs, bacon, sausages and even, “meat by-products, such as blood“.  The report placed red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat) in a Group 2A category and found these products to be “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Continue reading

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Right Here, Right Now

If you’ve been a vegan for any length of time or maybe you’re still exploring what all this animal rights stuff is about, I know you’ve probably heard or thought at one point that’s there’s too much already going on in the world; there are too many issues to consider as it is without having to add animals to the list. Just reading the daily news can feel overwhelming.  I read a book years ago that called it “compassion fatigue” where it’s easy to feel exhausted by all the problems and suffering in the world.

I can remember when I was a new vegan, during the first six weeks in fact when I was “just trying it out,” as I educated myself on how food got to my plate and I read up on factory farming and animal welfare, the thought hit me early on: This is actually something I can change today.  This is something that can make a difference immediately.  When I say that, I was not thinking that I, Nicola Sark, would change the world if I stopped eating meat and dairy that day.  But with all the horrors in the world – the natural disasters, displaced people in refugee camps, war, racism, poverty, worldwide conflicts on both small and epic scales – the crime that was being committed against animals was something I could literally stop contributing to that very second. Continue reading

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