Happy Sunday! I hope that you’ve been having a lovely holiday weekend. My July 4th was drenched in rain, but the clouds parted yesterday and have given way to an exquisite few days here in Provincetown, MA. I’m looking forward to sharing some recaps of my time here with you (including, of course, my food highlights). In the meantime, here’s what I was reading this morning.
A perfectly easy summer lunch (or light dinner): my friend Clotilde’s zucchini pasta with almonds and lemon zest.
This stuffed miso eggplant from Oh My Veggies is beyond beautiful, and I can only imagine how heavenly it tastes.
Speaking of stuffed veggies, I’m totally smitten with Susan’s raw stuffed mushrooms with rosemary cream. Lovely and innovative.
A great breakfast idea from Emma of Coconut and Berries (and a fabulous way to use up almond pulp that’s leftover from making homemade nut milk): cherry coconut almond pulp granola.
Finally, an exquisite dessert from Ella: raw raspberry lemon mini cheesecakes.
1. A fascinating article from this week’s Atlantic about the connections between creativity and mental illness. The author, a neuroscientist who has been studying creativity for decades, also explores the origins of creativity, and draws distinctions between creative talent and I.Q., overall intelligence, and so on. The article is particularly focused upon literary creativity, which is of course an interest of mine, and I was amused to see that Iowa City (home of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop) is the central location of the author’s reporting.
2. A great article from Women’s Health about food shaming. Much of the article’s focus is on the way we judge our own food choices, coming down too hard on ourselves when we eat anything that doesn’t fit our unfair standards of “purity” or “cleanliness” or “healthfulness.” But the article also touches upon the way we judge (silently or vocally) others’ food choices, snickering or raising our eyebrows when people order or eat things that we’ve come to regard in unhealthy in some way. Working in the health/nutrition world, I see a lot of this–various wellness practitioners casting judgment on the healthfulness of others’ food–and I think it’s a problem that begs to be addressed. Kudos to articles like this for opening the conversation.
3. An article, via the Washington Post, that shares the findings of a recent study that was published in the British journal Climatic Change concerning dietary choices and their impact on greenhouse emissions. The study found that vegan diets, on average, have about a third of the diet-driven carbon footprint than average diets containing animal flesh (vegetarian diets have about half of the impact). You can read the whole study here.
4. A heartwarming article about the impact that veganism has had on 58 individuals’ lives. It all began when a Facebook user asked folks to complete the statement “since I became vegan, I’ve noticed…”. Here are some of my favorite answers:
I’ve noticed how good it feels to have my actions in line with my values. ~ Diane
I’ve noticed the beauty, complexity, and inherent value of all sentient beings. ~ Gary
I’ve noticed that vegans come in all sizes, shapes, colors, races, religions, political parties. ~ Michael
I have noticed that a layer of gloom was lifted from my mind and soul. I began to realize that 1. I don’t need animal protein to survive, 2. I can think more clearly and rational about things in general than before, 3. My allergies improved tremendously, 4. I continue to grow spiritually and easier now as to where I was before was like pulling the ball and chain. 5. I can eat a lot more now and stay at a healthy weight. ~ Clara
I notice I can relate to the world better. Veganism has allowed me to transcend my habitual thoughts and actions, obviously in regards to animals, but also humans and the natural world. It encourages me to be compassionate and it motivates free thinking. ~ Steven
I have noticed how easy it is to be vegan, how much better I feel, both physically and mentally. I have also noticed that there is an enormous variety of different foods that I would never have tried… In fact, I wonder why more people have not embraced this lifestyle. ~ Carlos
I’ve noticed how something so simple as respect for all, can be made so complicated and demeaned by social conditioning. ~ Lorraine
I realize that I can make a real difference in alleviating the suffering of other animals. I am not powerless to help them, therefore I no longer feel ashamed of being a human being. Relationships with my animal kin have become free of guilt and confusion. I have found a meaningful moral baseline. The missing piece of the puzzle has fitted into its rightful place. ~ Katia
It’s really work reading all of the responses. They’re touching.
5. An article from Smithsonian about crawfish, and their capacity to experience anxiety. The article details a new study in which crawfish demonstrated stress responses that indicate a capacity for anxiety and worry–traits previously attributed only to vertebrates.
My first thought when I read the article was a sense of excitement; I think it’s always great when more research emerges that underscores shared emotional and cognitive capacities between species. It’s not that I think we need proof that crawfish (or any other life form) can feel pain or worry or stress in order to make the decision that we shouldn’t kill and eat them; to me, the desire to spare these creatures unnecessary pain and suffering, as well as a desire to show respect for other life forms, is enough personal justification to abstain. But I think that it’s easier to make compassionate food choices when we have ongoing reminders of the connections between species, and studies like these are great reminders.
At the same time, I found it painfully ironic that the author could share these findings–findings that serve as common ground between humans and other living beings–along with a host of ill-timed quips that reinforce carnism. Examples: “According to new research published by a team of French scientists in Science, those delectable freshwater crustaceans [emphasis is mine] experience anxiety, too.” Or my personal favorite: “While the finding will likely open many research doors, it also means that some crawfish will face stressors involved with trips to the neurology lab in addition to those that come with a boiling cauldron of Cajun spices, corn and potatoes (mmmm delicious). Unfortunately for the crustaceans, crawfish’s status as invertebrates means that many of the ethical protections their rodent counterparts enjoy are not extended to them.”
How it’s possible for the author to be so tongue-in-cheek about the unnecessary consumption of these creatures as she comments upon their ethical protections, I’m not sure. But the whole thing strikes me as a perfect example of our schizophrenic relationship with other species: so often eager to establish commonality on the one hand, and so pleased with a sense of dominion and entitlement on the other, especially if it involves our own tastebuds.
Thanks to James McWilliams for pointing the article and its contradictions out to me.
With that, I wish you a wonderful Sunday evening, friends.