We’ve just celebrated our annual Thanksgiving feast in the U.S.; the Christmas and New Year season with many gatherings and parties is ahead. So we don’t balloon up in size, it’s a time to be particularly conscious of our eating choices. But making conscious choices can be more than just looking at the calories we consume.
At the Bali Vegan Festival in October, in the presentation, “Why Veganism is the Best Choice,” Judit Németh-Pach, the Hungarian Ambassador to Indonesia, provided many compelling facts and reasons to become vegan.
One source she sited was EatingOurFuture.com with its compilation of many convincing articles and scientific studies.
Given our anatomy, what foods are best for humans?
“As a group, vegetarians/vegans live longer than meat-eaters. Furthermore, vegetarians/vegans generally enjoy better health:
- having less of the serious chronic diseases than the meat-eaters suffer;
- with less of the associated disability and pain than the meat-eaters suffer; and
- being less of a financial & social burden on their family and friends than are the meat-eaters with their higher rates of chronic degenerative disease.
Being healthier overall, vegetarians have more potential for the freedom & ability to live life to the full and independently for a longer time.”
What food choices are sustainable?Go to: https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/
How do food choices affect greenhouse gas emissions?
Yikes! Nooooooo. Low fat, organic cheese is worse than pork in creating greenhouse gases!! (I love good cheeses)!
What about eating fish and seafood? Aren’t they good protein options?
“1/. The United Nations reports: “According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. The dramatic increase of destructive fishing techniques worldwide destroys marine mammals and entire ecosystems… oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests…”
2/. “Global marine populations slashed by half since 1970: WWF… Populations of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have dropped by about half in the past four decades, with fish critical to human food suffering some of the greatest declines… “Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population… The pace of change in the ocean tells us there’s no time to waste,” Lambertini [head of WWF International] said. “These changes are happening in our lifetime. We can and we must correct course now.”…”
3/. “Seafood hit by climate change, Australian study finds… “There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down.”… Around 61 per cent of wild fish stocks are “fully fished” and 29 per cent “over-fished”, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Just 10 per cent are under-fished, the organization’s 2014 World Fisheries report said…”
4/. “Rich countries pay zombie fishing boats $5 billion a year to plunder the seas…” – http://qz.com/225432/rich-countries-pay-zombie-fishing-boats-5-billion-a-year-to-plunder-the-seas/
And there is more –
The United Nations “urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet.”
So, what can we eat to be healthy — and have sustainable food sources?
If you give up meat, seafood, and dairy to eat french fries, you will not be healthy. Vegans need to be conscious of their choices too.
So what about me? Have I become a vegan? I’ve been vegetarian since 2003 and that isn’t hard. In fact, it is getting easier all the time with almost all restaurants and even gatherings in homes offering tasty vegetarian options. However, giving up eggs and really good cheeses is a challenge for me. Right now, I’m an aspiring vegan – for my own health and for that of our planet.
What about you? What conscious choices about your food are you or could you be making?
Banner image is of a healthy vegan choice at Paradiso – The World’s First Organic Vegan Cinema – and major sponsor of the Bali Vegan Festival. When you go to Ubud, Bali, be sure to go to Paradiso for daily movie screenings, family afternoons, workshops, thematic festivals, live music shows, art exhibitions, private events, and excellent food. http://www.paradisoubud.com/
“Our world is falling apart quietly. Human civilization has reduced the plant, a four-hundred-million-year-old life form, into three things: food, medicine, and wood. In our relentless and ever-intensifying obsession with obtaining a higher volume, potency, and variety of these three things, we have devastated plant ecology to an extent that millions of years of natural disaster could not. Roads have grown like a manic fungus, and the endless miles of ditches that bracket these roads serve as hasty graves for perhaps millions of plant species extinguished in the name of progress,” says American geochemist and geobiologist award winner Hope Jahren in her memoir Lab Girl. . .
“Planet Earth is nearly a Dr. Seuss book made real: every year since 1990 we have created more than eight billion new stumps. . . [O]n my good days, I feel like I can do something about this.
Every single year, at least one tree is cut down in your name. Here’s my personal request to you: If you own any private land at all, plant one tree on it this year. If you are renting a place with a yard, plant a tree in it and see if your landlord notices. If he does, insist to him that it was always there. Throw in a bit about how exceptional he is for caring enough about the environment to have put it there. If he takes the bait, go plant another one. Baffle some chicken wire at its base and string a cheesy birdhouse around its tiny trunk to make it look permanent, then move out and hope for the best.
There are more than one thousand successful tree species for you choose from, and that’s just for North America. You will be tempted to choose a fruit tree because they grow quickly and make beautiful flowers, but these species will break under moderate wind, even as adults. Unscrupulous tree planting services will pressure you to buy a Bradford pear or two because they establish and flourish in one year; you’ll be happy with the result long enough for them to cash your check. Unfortunately, these trees are also notoriously weak in the crotch and will crack in half during the first big storm. You must choose with a clear head and open eyes. You are marrying this tree: choose a partner, not an ornament. . .
Jahren continues, “Once your baby tree is in the ground, check it daily, because the first three years are critical. Remember that you are your tree’s only friend in a hostile world. If you do own the land that it is planted on, create a savings account and put five dollars in it every month, so that when your tree gets sick between ages twenty and thirty (and it will), you can have a tree doctor over to cure it, instead of just cutting it down. Each time you blow the account on tree surgery, put your head down and start over, knowing that your tree is doing the same. The first ten years will be the most dynamic of your tree’s life; what kind of overlap will it make with your own? . . .
Feature image: oak tree – http://hollywoodpark-tx.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/loan-oak-tree.jpg
Read a book. Plant a tree – and take care of it. You’ll have a great day.
P.S. Update 11/29/2016
After reading this post, my friend Gail from here on Maui wrote, “Agreed with everything but planting on property that doesn’t belong to you. One of our biggest problems here and on the mainland with rentals is that long-term tenants start to see the property as belonging to them; which includes the planting of trees. We had to remove two weed trees that were ruining the foundation, and maintenance of palm trees has become exorbitant. Fruit trees for sustainability is a more rational approach and should be encouraged.”
Probably Hope Jahren is not a landlord, so Gail’s advice seems reasonable: Check with your landlord first before you plant a tree. Check with your local botanical garden, farmer’s union, municipal government . . . to see where and what trees can be planted. You could become a part of a community group that plants and cares for trees in your town.
When I searched for “planting trees on Maui,” the first on the list was http://plantawish.org/
“A few years ago, Sara and Joe (founders of Plant a Wish) crowd-funded a journey to hold native tree planting events with communities in all 50 states.” Now they are still planting trees – and raising funds to make a documentary about their experiences.
Wherever you are, you are likely to find tree planting groups in your area. Join others to plant trees. Have fun while doing good work.
And to walk my talk, I’ve planted two trees, little saplings with long taper roots, that were generously given to me on Thanksgiving Day by Courtney, an Up-Country Maui friend. One sapling is a moringa.
Image from: http://miracletrees.org/
From “Eat the Weeds and other things too” at <http://www.eattheweeds.com/moringa-oleifera-monster-almost-2/>
From Deane Green, I’ve learned, “If you have a warm back yard, think twice before you plant a Moringa tree.
Is it edible? Yes, most of it. Is it nutritious? Amazingly so, flowers, seeds and leaves. Does it have medical applications? Absolutely, saving lives on a daily basis. Can it rescue millions from starvation? Yes, many times yes. So, what’s the down side? They don’t tell you that under good conditions it grows incredibly fast and large, overwhelming what ever space you allot to it. It can grow to monster proportions in one season.” Green says the tree grows more than 10 feet each year. “[E]very year I cut off 15- to 20-foot branches. It requires constant attention. Despite its impressive growth pattern, it’s an extremely brittle tree. A man can easily break off a branch four inches through,…. It’s nice to feel like Hercules now and then.”
So it is likely to do really well in the warm and sunny all year climate of Kihei. I do know now that if I can keep my little sapling alive for the first three years, I will likely need to cut it down to a three-foot stump as Green does every year.
Courtney also gave me a sapote sapling.
The sapote taste is sweet and delicious, with no acidity, much like a custard dessert with a hint of banana or peach.
Images from http://www.strangewonderfulthings.com/138.htm
I don’t know which kind of sapote my sapling is, but I’ve read that some can grow to be 100 ft. (over 30 meters) tall, so I will need to be careful when I place my sapote in my yard. They fruit within eight years. I look forward to picking my own sapote and gathering the moringa leaves and pods from trees in my yard in the years ahead.
Good luck with your planting too. Aloha, Renée
Since President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863, those of us in the United States have been celebrating Thanksgiving Day on the final Thursday in November. We give thanks and count our many blessings – and usually eat too much with family and friends.
One important blessing is our many farmers who provide the food we eat.
A way to become more conscious and make more informed choices about the food we have offered is to get to know our local farmers and their concerns.
If you live in Hawaii, a great way to do that is to join the Hawaii Farmers Union United, a vital community group. Whether you are a family farmer, an avid backyard gardener, or just like to know where you can get good local produce, HFUU offers wonderful workshops, informative meetings, and works on important agricultural concerns.
For more information and to join, go to: https://hfuuhi.org/
Current President of Maui Farmers Union United and Vice President of Hawaii State Farmers Union United, Vincent Mina says about the challenges of farming (and everything else),
“If you do anything substantive, it will be hard. Just get on with it.”
Wherever you are in the world, check out what your farmers are doing. “Get on with it.”
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family — and all who provide for you.
“I am comforted and buoyed by the insights of the philosopher Anthony Appiah, who has studied how moral evolution happens across history and the world – how deeply rooted practices deemed not merely right but honorable thought can shift relatively quickly,” says Krista Tippet in her recent book, Becoming Wise.
“In his family as well as his scholarship, he’s experienced one of these recurring places in human life where within one generation, we look back at something that seemed normal forever and ask, ‘What were we thinking?’ ‘How could we have lived that way?’ Appiah studied how foot binding ended in China, how dueling ceased to be the way for honorable gentlemen to settle disputes, how slavery was abolished as a fundament of the British Empire. As he tells it, change begins to happen slowly in the human heart over time. Only then do the movements and leaders come along and topple the structures. . . .
For all his erudition, Anthony Appiah’s prescriptions . . . are refreshingly simple. He talks about ‘sidling up’ to difference, not attacking it with a solution-based approach as Americans are wont to attack what they see as problems. The way to set moral change in motion is not to go for the jugular, or even for dialogue – straight to the things that divide you. Talk about sports. Talk about the weather. Talk about your children. Make a human connection. Change comes about in part, as he describes it, by way of ‘conversation in the old sense’ – simple association, habits of coexistence, seeking familiarity round mundane human qualities of who we are” (p. 133-135).
Just for today, have a conversation about ordinary things with someone who seems somehow different than you are.
Anthony Appiah’s photo from his webpage: http://appiah.net/
“All systems of oppression need to be challenged,” said a speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud, Bali last month. Doing just that since 1977, Sea Shepherd, a non-governmental, non-profit environmental organization, has been using direct action tactics [along with lots of media attention] to protect marine life [and to educate consumers].
If you want to volunteer on a Sea Shepherd crew, you will be asked that question, “Are you willing to die for a whale?” The boats carry no guns but use film and public education to achieve incredible change. Their important work continues.
Sea Shepherd claims responsibility for damaging or sinking multiple whaling ships, through sabotage or ramming. The group has attempted to intervene against Russian, Spanish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Makah, Faroese, and Japanese whalers in multiple campaigns around the globe. Those actions have included scuttling and disabling commercial whaling vessels at harbor, using limpet mines (a type of naval mine attached to a target by magnets) to blow holes in ship hulls, ramming other vessels, throwing glass bottles of butyric acid (stinky rancid butter) on the decks of vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizing and destroying drift nets at sea. Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson has said that the organization has destroyed millions of dollars worth of equipment. The Sea Shepherd media extravaganzas have highlighted whaling, long-line fishing nets, and shark fining to get people everywhere informed and conscious of the destruction of life in our oceans.
Some shark populations have decreased by 60-70% due to shark fisheries.
Gary Stokes, Asia Director for Sea Shepherd, has spent the past 10 years on documenting, investigating, and exposing the shark fin trade. He was a guest speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud last month. Indonesia is the #1 exporter of shark fins; Spain #2.
There is much economic pressure to ignore the international bans on shark finning.
Fishermen often choose to keep just the shark fins—only one to five percent of a shark’s weight—and throw the rest of the shark away rather than have the less valuable parts take up space on the boat. The finned sharks are often thrown back alive into the ocean, where unable to swim properly and bleeding profusely, they suffocate or die of blood loss. Shark meat sold to restaurants and markets is often used in seafood curries and stews.
Gary says that now 60% of the fish and seafood in our oceans are in terrible condition. Global fishing fleets are now at 2.5 times the sustainable level. Just one poaching boat, the “Lafayette” which works the waters off Chili and Peru around the Faroe Islands processes 1,500 tons of fish a day!! Much of that is Chilean tooth fish; in restaurants, it’s called “Chilean Sea Bass.” :( Much of caught sea food goes to animal feed.
A result of Sea Shepherd and other activists groups like Greenpeace and loud voices, many people now know to make conscious choices.
According to a National Geographic article, we now know to “look for the blue eco-label of the Marine Stewardship Council, or ask where in the world the fish comes from. . .[to] help you find the best and avoid the rest”
Stokes reports that forty percent of the tuna that comes into the U.S. is from illegal, unreported fisheries in Thailand. And forty percent of all fish caught is used for animal feed.😦 If the world continues to consume and destroy marine life at the current rates, Stokes says that by 1948 there will be no fish!
Recently, Sea Shepherd Asia had a hiatus, a year off, when Japan temporarily halted whale hunting. Gary and his team got to go after other notorious pirate fishing vessels. For 110 days, a Sea Shepherd ship chased the “Thunder” – #1 on the Interpol list of pirate fishing vessels. Finally, the captain of the “Thunder” sunk his own ship rather than be caught with the incriminating evidence of illegal fishing!! But while part of the Sea Shepherd crew was saving the “Thunder” crew, other Sea Shepherd volunteers entered the sinking ship in time to collect computers and other evidence that has the captain and crew serving time in a Nigerian jail. [It would seem the owners of the pirate ships should be in jail too]. The photo above shows what has happened to other illegal fishing boats that Sea Shepherd has targeted.
Gary says of the ocean marine life, “We are losing everything.” We must all learn and act.
So why was Gary invited to speak at the Vegan Fest? The people who volunteer for the Sea Shepherd crews are ardent animal activists. Many are vegans. Since 2002, all Sea Shepherd vessels serve only vegan meals. It would be hypocritical, says Gary, to eat meat while chasing people who are killing marine life. Gary has been a vegetarian since 1980. When he first started going out on Sea Shepherd missions, Gary was more worried about what he would get to eat than about the possible confrontations the crew would meet. But, he has learned that the vegan meals are delicious, healthy, and accommodate everyone on board, and all religions.
The Sea Shepherd logo – a pirate to protect marine life:
Watch the following documentaries; you will likely cry, cheer, and laugh.
Paul Watson: The Whale Warrior: A Pirate for the Sea
Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist – a full documentary film
Seafood Watch has a free app for iPhone and Android that’s updated as recommendations change.
Please be ocean-friendly when you shop for seafood. Even better, eat vegetarian/vegan. Think about it. And tell your friends. Do what you can do.
Remember that ardent animal rights Sea Shepherd crews don’t have guns. Gary Stokes says that even one pissed off vegan is a force to be reckoned with.
Full steam ahead, Sea Shepherd. We need you now more than ever.
Filtered sunlight makes its way through the tall canopy, the stone statues of snakes and monkeys, the ornate temples, and the calls of monkeys create an eerie, spirit-filled setting. Visitors follow trails; a deep ravine runs through the park grounds, at the bottom flows a rocky stream. The heavily forested and hilly Ubud Monkey Forest covers about 27 acres (10 hectares) containing at least 115 different species of trees and over 600 crab-eating macaques (Balinese long-tailed macaques).
The monkeys roam freely – doing all their monkey business – in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud. Although these macaques are called “crab-eating,” they often eat fruits and many other things; they are native to Southeast Asia and often used in research. Since they are most active during the day, visitors can observe their activities – caring for their young, mating, fighting, and grooming – at close range.
Five groups of monkeys inhabit the park, each occupying different territories. In recent years here, the monkey population has become larger than a natural environment could support, so conflicts between the groups are unavoidable, but it also means that visitors can see more monkeys here than in the wild.
Know that the monkeys are interested in any food you have. So, don’t be casually walking along enjoying your fresh young coconut. You are likely – actually guaranteed – to be jumped. Likewise, monkeys can smell food in your backpack; don’t count on just hiding your food.
The Monkey Forest park staff feed the monkeys sweet potatoes and other vegetables three times a day, providing them with their main source of food in the park, and so, the monkeys here are usually not as super naughty as in some other places.
In general, monkeys will not come up to you if you do not bring bananas or any other food. But they are smart and curious, and they may think you have food in that bag you are carrying, and they know how to take a lid off a bottle in search of whatever delightful drink they think you might have there. We saw a female trying valiantly to crack open a coconut by hitting it repeatedly with the side of her hand. She used a folded leaf to cushion the blow to her hand.
Once as I was walking along Monkey Forest Road and not even in the sanctuary, a monkey, a BIG monkey, climbed up my leg to check out the bottle I was carrying. When he saw it was only a plastic bottle of water, he climbed back down. Luckily – and surprisingly to me, I didn’t freak out. I was very happy I was wearing pants.
Monkey Forest Sanctuary site recommendations include:
- Leave any non-essential bags and bottles at the ticket counter.
- Do not bring in food or drinks to the park.
- Do not feed the monkeys peanuts, biscuits, bread, or any other human snacks because they are detrimental to monkey health. Some of the monkeys are now obese😦 from such feeding. You may give the monkeys bananas that can be purchased at the entrance, but use care in giving the bananas.
- pull at a monkey or
- move suddenly.
- Do hang on to, or better yet, hide –
- or whatever might be taken. Don’t have anything shiny, money sticking out of your pocket, or your computer available in your open bag.
- If you do feed the monkeys, always look out for the claws and teeth of the dominant male. He should be given food first to avoid fighting or you getting bitten.
- Don’t get close to the babies. Especially don’t get between a mom and her baby.
- When you smile, don’t show your teeth. In monkey understanding, this is considered an aggressive gesture. Monkey grimaces are indicators of inferiority while panting and open-mouthed threats are indicators of dominance.
- If you have a child with you, be particularly careful.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary staff in the green uniforms are throughout the park in case you need assistance.
Even if you are careful, it is possible to get scratched or bitten. The monkeys are wild animals, and they are not afraid of humans. I haven’t heard of monkeys having rabies here, but some dogs do. Although dogs aren’t allowed in the sanctuary, I’ve seen a monkey and a young, rambunctious dog near the park entrance scraping over a bit of food. So don’t take chances. A puncture wound or even a scratch in a humid, hot climate such as Bali’s can quickly become infected. Seek immediate medical attention even if your wound seems minor.
Even with all these cautions, I recommend that you go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Except for that one curious, climbing-up-my-leg monkey, I haven’t had any others bother me. They are fun to watch. And it’s fun to watch tourists interact with the monkeys too.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is not only a tourist attraction with about 10,000 visitors a month but also an important site in the spiritual life of the local community. The Monkey Forest grounds are home to three Hindu temples, all apparently constructed around 1350!
The Main Temple is used for worshiping a personification of Shiva, the transformer. The Pura Beji Temple is a “Holy Spring” bathing temple, a place of spiritual and physical cleansing and purification prior to religious ceremonies.
The Prajapati Temple is used to pray for procreation and the protection of life. A cemetery adjacent to this temple receives the bodies of the deceased for temporary burial while they await a mass cremation ceremony (because of the extremely high costs), held approximately every five years.
The temples play an important role in the spiritual life of the local community, and the monkey and its mythology are important in the Balinese art tradition. The Monkey Forest area is sanctified by the local community, and some sacred areas of the temples are closed to everyone except those willing to pray and to wear proper Balinese praying attire.
On-going research and conservation programs also happen here with researchers from around the world focusing particularly on the monkey social interaction and behavior with their surrounding environment.
So go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary for the monkeys, the trees, the temples. Especially if you are aware, you will have fun.
Selamat jalan, Renée
“The Holy Monkey Forest of Sangeh” by Bill Dalton, Bali Advertiser, 26 Sept. – 12 Oct. 2016, p 26.
Text and photos from: http://monkeyforestubud.com/
With all the fun (and chocolates) that come with celebrating Halloween, it is also a time of remembering those whom we have loved and lost. The Mexican celebrations of Día de los Muertos does that remembering with three days of celebrating that also includes the Catholic Church commemoration of “All Souls and Saints Day.”
On Maui, Lahaina always has a big celebration for the kids before dark.
And after dark, adults get to play.
Amid the fun, it’s good to remember the dead too. A main character in Nicolas Rothwell’s novel Belomor says after the accidental death of a young friend,
“And so, with soft, swift movements, those we know depart from us, and leave us in this world, and leave behind them memories to disperse like plumes of smoke haze in the air” (105).
Happy Halloween to you, your family, and friends in all the ways you celebrate.
Lahaina photos: http://lahainatown.com/halloween-party.php
“WE ARE FOR SALE. Please call my brother Wayan.”
Sign on Jalan Tirta Tawar – on the way to Om Ham Retreat, Bali.
Selamat jalan, Renée