Weekend Reading, 7.6.14
July 6, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

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.

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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.


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  1. All of the recipes look DIVINE!

    I also second the complaints about having to click on the ‘no thanks I already have a bikini body’ from Women’s Health website. Obviously that’s not your fault, but I don’t link to articles from them anymore as it’s such a pet peeve of mine now!

  2. Oh, I’m so excited you’re here in Provincetown!
    I’ve worked here for years, and I’ve loved watching the gradual spread of delicious vegan food through the town. Can’t wait to read your P’Town posts!

  3. The parallels between creativity and mental illness always fascinate me. Thanks for sharing that article! As for the Women’s Health article, I, too, got the pop-up about getting a bikini body. I’ve learned to not let those kinds of messages trigger my tendencies toward disorderly eating, but there’s still a small part of me that gets gnawed at. I love the message of the article, though. I will admit that I’m a food shamer, and not proud of it. More so when it comes to myself than when it comes to anyone else. Although, I will notice myself making comments in my head (never to someone’s face!) when they order something outside of what I consider acceptable. I’ll think something like, “Ew, I would never eat that.” Which is so awful, and definitely conditional, because I never think that way when I see someone I love indulging in something. I don’t shame my mom or my best friend, so why should I secretly judge a stranger? There’s also a little bit of twisted hypocrisy to thoughts like that, because part of me wishes I WOULD let myself eat the way others do…and I think this goes for a lot of people who food shame. Like the author says, a lot of food shaming is a reflection of our own issues with eating. The opening of the article (the ice cream sandwich story) makes me sad, because I can so picture it happening. I can only hope that with positive messages being thrust into the spotlight, society will start moving into a more accepting place. (If only we didn’t have to close out bikini-body pop-ups while reading said positive messages!) Anyway, great articles once again, Gena. And great food too! I’m happy to see that the zucchini pasta is actually pasta with zucchini, and not zucchini “pasta.” Haha! 🙂

  4. Love the recipes this week, and I was excited to see the link to Susan’s recipe since I’ve been planning to try it for a while. 🙂

    On another note, I’m an omnivore so I find the article on judgment compelling. I have found veganism to be off-putting because ALL the vegans I personally know are extremely judgmental. They make those of us who eat differently feel like the devil incarnate. Also, I cannot understand some of the seemingly blatant hypocrisies I see in them (note, I’m talking about those I personally know). I cannot understand, for example (and not to get political or anything, but…), how they are so terribly concerned for animals (which is fine!) and their welfare, yet turn around and support the killing of an innocent baby, aka abortion. I find it unsettling. Shouldn’t one be consistent? In any case, I still have vegan sympathies and eat a LOT of vegan food because it tastes so darn good. 🙂
    Love your site and have for years!

  5. Those mini-raspberry cheesecakes look WONDERFUL! We have a pool, and often host many events/parties throughout the summer, so those would be spectacular treats for everyone!
    Thank you!

  6. Love this weeks readings Gena.

    1. By no means am I trying to generalise but most people I’ve come across with mental illnesses happen to be some of the most intelligent people I know. For some I find that their intelligence creates an acute awareness in their minds, one which can torment them and cause over analysis etc. Just my personal opinion and experience though.

    3. I found this article very interesting! Recently I’ve been looking into sustainability of diets and what really is the best for the environment. I came across an article which claimed eating certain meats is beneficial for the environment (i.e. Moorland mutton in the UK), so the Washington Post article is very refreshing!

    4. Always great to read or hear of the positive influences a vegan diet has had on peoples lives!

  7. I think that when one condemns food shaming, it is also important not to put down a person’s choice to be an omnivore. An individual may be aware of the ethical issues involved in killing animals for food and may have compassion for other creatures and wish to minimize their suffering, but that person may still choose to eat animal-based food for health or other reasons. For example, some people may prefer to obtain their vitamin B12 from natural sources rather than from synthetic vitamin B12 supplements. Kindness and understanding should extend to all types of diets, and not just vegan diets.

    • I agree, Tash, that there is never any place for shaming when it comes to a discussion of why people eat they way they do. I think the article struck a chord for me specifically because it touched on the way people tend to shame each other over how “healthy” (or “unhealthy”) their food is, but I’d say that in cases where folks don’t see eye to eye over ethics, or over the decision to be vegan, shaming should still not enter into the dialog. In my experience, it’s always mature conversation or a sharing of information that fosters mutual understanding.

  8. “a schizophrenic relationship with other species” perfectly sums up what confuses and saddens me so often in the way people I really love treat animals. They care for their pets like children but have no problem eating other animals.
    I actually ended up writing an essay on this speciesm for Uni, which was really helpful for me in understanding WHY this can be the case, and therefor feeling less angry about it (which in my opinion is never a great way to improve a situation).
    Thanks for the great links as always, Gena!

  9. I clicked the link to the Women’s Health article, and after a few seconds an ad popped up asking me to subscribe with the line “get your bikini body”. To click out of the ad, I had to select “no thanks, I already have a bikini body”. Le sigh.

  10. Friday at the grocery, I watched as a father and son giggled with anticipation as the seafood clerk weighed a huge 3 lbs. Lobster that they were selecting for that night’s dinner. They both cheered like football fans as the scale came to rest on it’s total; the whole time the front legs and tail of the Lobster squirmed back and forth as the clerk held it around the back.
    We teach our children what’s good and what’s evil. So much of the time we get it all wrong though.
    Thanks for highlighting the article. It was reaffirming that hearts will have to change before minds will.
    Thanks Gena ♥

  11. Hi. I’m just wondering why there are so many cooked meals on your “raw” website? Are you like 80/20 or something?


    • Hi Cheryl,

      I don’t keep track of a percentage. Here’s a quote from my FAQs, re: the balance you see on my site: “My blog is called Choosing Raw for two reasons: first, because I’m still a big raw foods enthusiast, even if I’m not really a raw foodist anymore. More importantly, the words “choosing raw” signify, to me, an overall approach to eating. “Choosing raw” means eating foods that are a little closer to the earth. It means minimal food preparation. It means dishes that are simple, nourishing, and whole. It often means raw food dishes, but it doesn’t have to.”

      As for weekend reading, I simply feature vegan recipes from around the web. There’s no particular emphasis on raw vs. cooked.

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