A few weeks ago I travelled to one of my favourite cities to chair a session of the Animals and Animality conference. I wasn’t able to take in the whole conference, but what I saw was very good — the organizers should be most pleased with how it turned out!
The highlight of the conference for me was the keynote address by Carol J. Adams. I’ve been a fan of her work for ages, but haven’t had the opportunity to hear her give a talk before. It was well worth the wait. Adams is a wonderful, passionate speaker and so much of what she had to say resonated with me. I’ve been talking about her talk with friends and family ever since I got back.
Her talk had much to do with how we represent/treat/exploit nonhuman animals and drew on a lot of the key material from her books (The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Pornography of Meat). Fascinating stuff! If you aren’t familiar with these books, please log off your computer and run to your nearest library to check them out. Seriously.
What I found to be the most powerful moment of her talk, however, took place during the question period. One of the student participants at the conference asked a question that many of us who care about animals and animal issues find ourselves asking from time to time — “How can we make a difference and how can we keep positive in the face of all the backlash against animal activism?” (I didn’t write down the exact question, but I’m paraphrasing here). In her thoughtful response, Adams said “make good vegan food and share it with friends and family.” She went on to describe how another animal activist had said something along the lines of “if you aren’t in jail you aren’t doing enough for the animals.” To this she said “I’m more effective on this side of the bars!” Her point, of course, was that activism takes many forms but that one of the most effective and compassionate ways to make a difference is to share the joy of cruelty-free (i.e.: vegan) food with those who you most care about. Share the food. Don’t necessarily preach about it, just provide a good meal that you can gather around and enjoy.
Now, I love that there are all kinds of activism but this message just resonated with me on a deep emotional level. Food, of course, is so much more that sustenance. It is about sharing, bonding, family/friends, rituals, comfort, nutrition, health, etc. We have so much invested in what and how we eat that changes to established patterns can be threatening. The simple idea of cooking and sharing vegan food with those who mean the most to us is such a wonderful activist gesture because it can co-exist with some of these important social and cultural associations we have with food.
So, on that note I’d like to share two recipes I recently tried. I shared the end result with some of my loved ones. Maybe you’ll consider doing the same?
Moroccan Quinoa and Carrot Salad
I went to a cooking class taught by Marlie Centawer of barefoot and frolicking. I know Marlie from other contexts, but it was a real treat to have her share her passion for vegan (and raw vegan) cooking with us. The following is one of the recipes she made for us. I hope she doesn’t mind if I share it here:
-1 cup red or white quinoa
-1/4-1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
-4-5 large carrots, peeled
-1/4-1/2 cup dried or fresh cherries (dried cranberries also work)
-3 tablespoons lemon juice
-2 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
-1 avocado, to garnish
Rinse one cup of quinoa in a colander to remove saponin (bitter resin-like coating). Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add quinoa and cook for 20-30 minutes until quinoa has expanded and has become fluffy in taste and texture). Set aside to cool.
Process carrots in food processor with either an ‘s’ blade or a grater blade. Set contents aside in large bowl.
In medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil.
Add quinoa, pistachios, cherries and cilantro to carrots. Mix well and add dressing. Serve on a bed of greens with slices of avocado for garnish.
I also made this Chocolate-Blueberry cake today. One word: amazing. Seriously. You have to try this!!