Author: Denise Swanson
One of my strongest lifelong interests has been the protection and promotion of respect for animals. In 2007, there wasn’t any committee at UCV with that particular mandate, and the Environment Committee seemed a good choice to work with on this pursuit. Especially so, given that animal agriculture is one of the top industries responsible for environmental destruction.
Most people have goodwill toward other species and the individual members of them. The overwhelmingly largest number of animals in need of protection are those on factory farms. Many are aware of the routine horrors behind factory farming (quite apart from their link to zoonotic diseases). An obvious way to protect them is to refrain from supporting their abuse by not buying – by boycotting – their ‘products’. Thus, I turned my attention to what is fast gaining momentum as an environmental as well as animal protection movement: plant-based eating.
I learned from reliable sources that balanced plant-based diets are nutritionally sound for all life stages. Not only that, they are significantly protective against some of our society’s most significant chronic health problems: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and various cancers.
I saw the UCV committee lunch fundraisers as an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and show that entirely plant-based meals were not only possible but delicious . For the next several years, the Environment Committee collaborated to produce dozens of lunches for the congregation. I also worked on smaller-scale plant-based food service projects for other UCV events, such as workshops at the farmers market, a Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in Hewett Hall, and put on cooking classes to show that preparing these foods is easy and fun.
Another project I worked on with the Environment Committee involved developing some new church policies: using coffee that is organic and fair-trade, and providing plant-based milk options at coffee times.
During this time, I had been involved in several film festivals, and decided to host one at UCV focused on food and the environment. This was another great learning experience for all of us. The warm and energetic support of the UCV Environment Committee is a fond memory!
Denise Swanson and Dave Steele led a forum in 2019 on Plant Based Eating. Here is a list of websites if you would like to learn more.
Brenda Davis’ site: https://www.brendadavisrd.com/articles/plant-based-health-and-nutrition/
Ginny Messina’s site: https://www.theveganrd.com/
Jack Norris’ site: https://veganhealth.org/
Dietitians of Canada: https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Vegetarian-Diets.aspx
Nutrispeak.com – Local Registered Dietitian Vesanto Melina is author of many books as well as The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets position paper. https://nutrispeak.com/posts/
Government of Canada nutrient search engine. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/nutrient-data.html
The following has links to over 50 vegan recipe blogs! Take your pick! https://theminimalistvegan.com/high-quality-vegan-blogs/
Links from Dave Steele:
https://healthiersteps.com/ (lots of gluten-free recipes here)