Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

If you'd like to view previous questions Jo has answered, visit the Ask Jo! Archives.

Confining my Companion Animal?

question.gif - 1.4 KPlease address the philosophical debate about having companion animals in the home. I struggle with the idea that I have adopted cats and now confine them to my home. Although I love my cats, they are not in my home by choice.

answer.gif - 1.3 K Most domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, are the result of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years of meticulous inbreeding manipulated by humans for specific purposes. Special physical characteristics and personality traits have made certain breeds particularly amenable to serving human desires. For example, some animals are suited to guard and defend, others are valued for their hunting skills, some win awards in contests and shows, others are esteemed for their warmth and gentleness, and still others are prized as status symbols. These animals are not the same stock as their wild ancestors. They are the consequence of precise, selective contrivance by humans and, as a result, have become virtually dependent on us for their care and existence. Hence, there is no natural habitat to which these animals can return.

Humans have bred and overbred certain varieties of domestic animals so that many of their once alluring features have become precursors to crippling afflictions and deadly disorders. Typically, those that are not up to snuff at birth are discarded, abandoned, or killed by crude and brutal methods. The rationale is that these animals are too expensive to house and feed in relation to the meager selling price the breeders might collect.

Shelters are generally packed with both rejected purebreds and unwanted mixed breeds, which are often deemed unsuitable for arbitrary reasons. Making matters worse are irresponsible "owners" who deliberately breed their "pets," permit wanton intercourse, or refuse to have them spayed or neutered. Our cities, parks, wooded and rural areas are teeming with unwanted animals who are desperate for food and shelter, constantly exposed to the harsh elements, and easy targets for predation, torture, poisoning, highway death, seizure, and confiscation.

The majority of shelters euthanize healthy animals that have not been adopted within a week or two. No-kill shelters -- those that house animals indefinitely -- have limited space, are expensive to operate, and usually have lengthy waiting lists of animals in need of assistance and sanctuary.

The decision to take in a homeless animal is a deeply personal one, and there are many factors to weigh. Adopting an animal is not unlike adopting a child -- it is a huge responsibility. Some domestic animals can live for twenty years or longer, so adopters must be prepared for a long term commitment. Occasionally animals require special care, medical attention, medication, or food. Treatment of certain conditions may be costly, or food requirements could conflict with a person's vegan values. Lifestyle, habits, and work and travel schedules all become important considerations when deciding to adopt an animal companion.

It is irresponsible and cruel for vegans to disregard the cries of these animals. A compassionate perspective calls for aiding them in whatever way we can. For some vegans this means actively striving to close breeding mills and the pet stores that support them. For others it means contributing to no-kill shelters through donations of money or food or volunteering to walk dogs, clean cages, and spend time playing with and giving attention to the animal residents. Many grassroots animal activist groups have, or would be interested in starting, a local spay and neuter program which could be coordinated with city government or animal control agencies. And, of course, there is always the option of adopting a companion animal in need.

Some vegans feel that taking an animal into their home is comparable to imprisonment. The blunt truth is that they have nowhere else to go. Nevertheless, most people find that sharing their lives with animals is a reciprocally gratifying and beneficial arrangement, one which encourages a deeper appreciation for other life forms and inspires a unique bond of friendship and trust that transcends all barriers of language and form.




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Vegan Vittles:
Second Helpings

Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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Review by Dan Balogh

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The Food Allergy
Survival Guide

The Food Allergy Survival Guide

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