Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Leslie asked me to share with our readers here a blog entry that I had written on my blog when she and I first started the 30 Day Vegan Challenge. I'm sure that it would be helpful for anyone just starting on their Vegan lifestyle, or people who are also tired of the same questions. Here goes...


What do you say when people ask you why you're following a vegan diet? I have only been following a vegan diet for a couple of days, and already there have been questions. Well, in all fairness people also asked me why I chose not to eat meat before now. Questions like:

Why would you do that. (Emphasis on the words WHY and THAT).
Are you trying to lose weight?
Why cut out dairy, eggs, etc?
Did you make the change for any particular reason, or do you not like meat?
Is it just for a little while or permanent? Are you going back to eating meat, etc?

Now I know these people are just being curious and maybe have good intentions. But I also know they don't really want to hear all about how eating living creatures is wrong or bad for you. They probably won't or can't even fully understand why someone would choose to eat such a restricted diet.

Now, let me address these questions:

Why would you do that? Well, I love animals and don't want to kill them in order to eat. I was a vegetarian about 10 years ago but wasn't going about it in the right way. When I got pregnant with my son I thought I wouldnt have enough nutrition if I stayed a vegetarian. I decided to become a vegetarian again more recently. But, when someone asked I hear myself saying "Because I want to."

My best friend and I have been dabbling with vegan recipes, which were amazingly good and made me feel good. I also watched "Forks over Knives", started reading about veganism, and felt myself drawn to the plant based diet. I decided to try it for 30 days to see how I like it. So far so good!

Are you trying to lose weight? This is pretty insulting if you think about it. That is the first thing that people usually jump to as a reason why you would change your eating habits. When they are asking if I'm trying to lose weight, they're really saying that I need to lose weight because I'm a fat slob. But in a nice, wrap it up in a bow kind of way. I'm happy with myself. If I lose weight, that's good. If not, that's good too.

Why cut out dairy, eggs, etc? Ok, I know that PETA has some pretty radical activist sides, but seriously, have you seen the living conditions that the animals that they raise to produce these products? People think they're on a farm being happy and producing products for our consumption because they love us. Or maybe a dairy and egg fairy makes it? Go to PETA's website, and look for the Starter Guide, and read the "Meet your Meat". Wow! Also, while you're at it, watch Forks over knives. It freakin opened my eyes.

Did you make the change for any particular reason, or do you not like meat? Well, I do like some meats. They're yummy. But an innocent animal had to die for me to eat that food. It's not THAT good. Try a vegan recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz ( or from Peas and Thank You, and tell me that's not good too! Nothing with a face had to die there.
Is it just for a little while or permanent? Are you going back to eating meat, etc? I don't see myself going back to eating meat, but I did before so anything is possible. I'm pretty darn happy with the decision to become a vegetarian, so at this point I'm saying no. I did have one steak on my anniversary, but you know, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. Meh. It's easy and good, but just means a little more forethought and preparation. That, and having a good coop that produces yummy vegetarian options is nice!

I still don't know about veganism. I committed to trying it for 30 days with the idea that if it fits well, I'd make it a permanent choice. If I spend more time cooking and planning, it's great. When I'm hungry and searching for something that doesn't have meat, dairy, eggs, gelatin, etc in it, it's not so easy. I'm thinking about what I'm eating a lot more, and I'm feeling good about it. We'll see how that goes!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Laurie Cabot's Witchcraft 1

I mentioned earlier in this blog that my mom got me Laurie Cabot's four day "Witchcraft as a Science 1" class in Salem Mass for my birthday. The class began on my birthday (March 5) and March 6 is Laurie Cabot's birthday so it just seemed like a really cool time to do something I have wanted to do for a long time.

The class was great, as were Laurie Cabot, the other priests and priestesses of the Cabot Kent Hermetic Temple, and my fellow students. The content was about basic practices and philosophies in the Cabot Kent tradition. I really enjoyed it and fully intend to take class 2 as soon as I can manage.

I think the elements of the class that applied most closely to the vegan pagan path had to do with the ethical statements of the Cabot Kent Trad.

"If it harms none, do as you will" is one of the primary laws mentioned, as well as the "rule of three" which is that "whatever we do comes back to us times three." Of course seeking to live with compassion toward other creatures and to care for the environment are bound up in these ethics.

More specific to Cabot Kent trad was the idea of Sovereignty: that we take on the crown of personal governance and personal responsibility when we use magic to create our world and our lives. We are therefore accountable for all our decisions. As a vegan pagan this speaks to our animal consumption decisions including food and other animal products.

I plan to read Laurie's books as soon as I can (starting with The Power of the Witch) and I will probably blog more about these concepts as I go.

By the way, the Cabot Kent Hermetic Temple is a exciting venture that needs lots of support. Buying books and products from  and/or becoming a member supporter of the Temple are great ways to help now that Laurie has closed her Salem shop and is focusing more on teaching.

Salem Trip Pictures

near the common

witch trial memorial March 5 (my birthday)

nearly full moon, March 6 (Laurie Cabot's birthday)

true full moon March 8 (the nite we finished classes)

(organic, vegan juice bar in Danvers, near my hotel)

the whole thing! Witchcraft 1 with vegan juice

Laurie Cabot with her birthday cake

cute Laurie doll for a present!

Ostara 2012

Spring! Here in Maine we seem to be having a unseasonably early thaw. Plants and animals normally seen in April are being seen in time for the Spring Equinox. Blessed be!

Ostara and Easter mark a time of year when I have always worried about the treatment of chickens and rabbits. Even before I became pagan or vegan I heard stories about the reckless purchase and mistreatment of Easter-themed animals like chicks, ducklings, and bunnies. Now as a vegan pagan I would like to harness the energy of the Sabbat to send healing and compassion to these creatures. I would also like to do ritual for social change.

Many of us as pagans and vegans have pets and have probably always loved animals. Pagans may have pets who are "familiars" and are intimately connected to one's magical practices. Ironically animal lovers like us can end up being the most naive of all about facts around animal exploitation. I know I have avoided stories of animal suffering in the media over my life because I find it so distressing. Yet when we have a pagan ethic of personal responsibility and of ethical action, I challenge us (most definitely including myself) to take a close look at the painful facts. Even doing the research is painful for me so I apologize that reading it is probably just as bad or worse. Yet I truly feel that a vegan pagan ethic of "An it harm none, do as ye will" mandates this kind of knowledge if we are eating animals or educating people about why we don't.

During the Ostara season, I think it is very appropriate to look at chickens and rabbits in particular. Here are some facts about chickens and chicks from Farm Sanctuary's site, (under "the issues"):

There are more than 280 million egg laying hens in the U.S. confined in battery cages — small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows inside huge warehouses. In accordance with the USDA's recommendation to give each hen four inches of 'feeder space,' hens are commonly packed four to a cage measuring just 16 inches wide.

After one year in egg production, the birds are classified as 'spent hens' and are sent off to slaughter. Their brittle, calcium-depleted bones often shatter during handling or at the slaughterhouse. They usually end up in soups, pot pies, or similar low-grade chicken meat products in which their bodies can be shredded to hide the bruises from consumers.
With a growing supply of broiler chickens keeping slaughterhouses busy, egg producers have had to find new ways to dispose of spent hens. One entrepreneur has developed the 'Jet-Pro' system to turn spent hens into animal feed. As described in Feedstuffs, "Company trucks would enter layer operations, pick up the birds, and grind them up, on site, in a portable grinder... it (the ground up hens) would go to Jet-Pro's new extruder-texturizer, the 'Pellet Pro.'"

In one notorious case of extraordinary cruelty at Ward Egg Ranch in February 2003 in San Diego County, California, more than 15,000 spent laying hens were tossed alive into a wood-chipping machine to dispose of them.

For every egg-laying hen confined in a battery cage, there is a male chick who was killed at the hatchery. Because egg-laying chicken breeds have been genetically selected exclusively for maximum egg production, they don't grow fast or large enough to be raised profitably for meat. Therefore, male chicks of egg-laying breeds are of no economic value, and they are literally discarded on the day they hatch — usually by the cheapest, most convenient means available. Thrown into trash cans by the thousands, male chicks suffocate or are crushed under the weight of others.

Another common method of disposing of unwanted male chicks is grinding them up alive. This can result in unspeakable horrors, as described by one research scientist who observed that "even after twenty seconds, there were only partly damaged animals with whole skulls". In other words, fully conscious chicks were partially ground up and left to slowly and agonizingly die. Eyewitness accounts at commercial hatcheries indicate similar horrors of chicks being slowly dismembered by machinery blades en route to trash bins or manure spreaders.

I know it's hard to read. Keep breathing. We're not quite done.

And in honor of the Easter Bunny, here are some facts about the fur industry and animal testing involving rabbits from PETA :

Rabbits are frequent victims of animal experimenters because they are mild-tempered and easy to handle, confine, and breed—more than 241,000 of them are abused in U.S. laboratories every year.
Despite the availability of more modern, humane, and effective alternatives, rabbits are still tormented in the notorious Draize eye irritancy test, in which cosmetics, dishwashing liquid, drain cleaner, and other substances are dripped into the animals' eyes, often causing redness, swelling, discharge, ulceration, hemorrhaging, cloudiness, or blindness. The rabbits are killed after the experiment is over.

Even though internationally accepted non-animal methods exist, in skin corrosion tests, rabbits' backs are shaved and corrosive chemicals are applied to their raw skin and left there for up to two weeks. These chemicals often burn the skin, leading to tissue damage. Rabbits are also given no pain relief during this excruciatingly painful test, and after the test is finished, they are killed.
Eighty-five percent of the fur industry's skins come from animals on fur factory farms—dismal, often filthy places where thousands of animals are usually kept in wire cages for their entire lives.

To cut costs, fur farmers pack animals into unbearably small cages, preventing them from taking more than a few steps in any direction or doing anything that is natural and important to them, such as running, making nests, and finding mates. Many animals go insane under these conditions.

Unfortunately, no federal humane slaughter law protects animals on fur factory farms, and killing methods are gruesome. Because fur farmers care only about preserving the quality of the fur, they use slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact but that can result in extreme suffering for the animals. Some animals even wake up while they are being skinned. Animals have clamps attached to or rods forced into their mouths and anuses, and they are painfully electrocuted. Genital electrocution—deemed "unacceptable" by the American Veterinary Medical Association in its "2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia"—causes animals to suffer from cardiac arrest while they are still conscious.

Other animals are poisoned with strychnine, which suffocates them by paralyzing their muscles with painful, rigid cramps. Neck-breaking is another common slaughter method on fur factory farms. The fur industry refuses to condemn even blatantly cruel killing methods.

I know this information is painful to read. Yet we have to remember how painful it is for these animals to endure. We have to make educated decisions about our lifestyle and consumption choices, because our choices do determine market trends in animal exploitation. If you need to take some action I recommend sending energy to the animals who are suffering. It is helpful to them and to us.

Remember that there is hope. A vegan lifestyle does make an impact. Those of us who practice magic know that our intentions become manifested realities and here is a great example:

Compassion Over Killing ( recently worked with Quorn, a company that makes vegetarian foods, to reduce their use of eggs in their recipes. Quorn launched one vegan veggie burger and agreed to reduce the eggs used in their other recipes. Just in making this one concession, the company reduced it's egg consumption by about 3.5 million eggs per year. This will mean the exploitation of 14, 000 fewer factory farmed laying hens. This is the kind of change our consumer dollars make when we ask for product changes that we are prepared to pay for (or sometimes to boycott to get). This is magic at work.

I also lovingly challenge anyone who hasn't yet to watch PETA's "meet your meat," narrated by Alec Baldwin:

And I know, despite interacting with these hard truths, that you who are friends to the creatures and to the earth will have a wonderful and blessed Ostara. Truly, blessed-be.