MAY 17, 2012 9:47 AM

Support this revolutionary partnership and get some terrific perks for your effort!
Just ten days left to throw our support behind this terrific collaboration between Tree Huggers and Bartertown to bring a package-free vegan grocery store to Grand Rapids! Visit their Kickstarter Page and donate now!

FEBRUARY 6, 2012 9:12 PM

Leading cognitive ethologist and author to visit Calvin and Grand Valley State
I'll never forget the day I first became familiar with Jonathan Balcombe's work. It was March 16, 2010, and I was in the car listening to this interview with Jonathan on the Diane Rehm Show. I joined the interview already in progress and after a few minutes of hearing him speak, I distinctly recall being on pins and needles to learn the name of the man whom I had already decided, in just 180 seconds, was the most warm, inviting, knowledgeable and articulate animal advocate I had ever heard. After arriving at my destination, I sat in the car for a full half hour, unable to tear myself away, and then made a beeline to the nearest computer to order Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals, his newest book at the time. Since then, I have added Pleasure Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good and The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure to my collection, listened to every interview I can find, and dreamed of the day that he would bring his formidable talents to Grand Rapids. That day is February 20! And don't miss his talk on February 21st at GVSU! Book-signings follow both events!

JANUARY 31, 2012 2:51 PM

Paul Shapiro and HSUS investigators expose Walmart's Pork Supplier
Pigs are at least as intelligent and emotionally and socially engaged as dogs. And yet, as Paul Shapiro explains in the above video, Seaboard Foods (the third largest pork producer in the U.S.) and Prestage Farms (the fifth largest pork producer in the U.S.) keep their pigs in conditions that no dog-lover could ever condone. Tell Seaboard and Prestage to abandon the use of gestation crates, and tell Walmart you want to see a swift and just termination of their relationship with these suppliers. Unless of course you find the industry defense of these practices compelling. Need some inspiration to move you to action? Watch Paul Shapiro's recent presentation at Calvin College titled Blessed Are the Meek: Showing Mercy to All Creation.

JANUARY 9, 2012 2:27 AM

Big Update at WakeUpWeekend.Com!
If you haven't checked out the new website yet, now's the time! You'll find an updated schedule with abstracts and dozens of links pertaining to lectures, workshops, and other events, as well as new posts on 3 terrific sponsorships and a grant and veg eats in Grand Rapids. Stay tuned for further updates on the KINSHIP Exhibition, the Sixth Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off, and the Adoption Benefit Show! Also, please consider liking us on Facebook and sharing our new website in your status to help us generate buzz and boost attendance. Thanks in advance for your help! We can't do it without you!

JANUARY 4, 2012 12:45 AM

Posters Hot Off the Press and a New Online Home!
With just over two weeks until blast-off, posters are going up and we've got a brand-new dedicated website up at! By entering your email address and clicking the "Follow" button on the bottom of the sidebar at the right, you'll enroll for email updates that will keep you apprised of all new developments. Look for short abstracts of the above listed events (along with links to venue maps) later this week, as well as an invitation to sharpen up your vegan chili chops for this year's CHILI-TIME SHOWDOWN. In the meanwhile, please direct all ideas, feedback, kind offers to be a clean-up crew volunteer, and early-admissions chili intentions to

DECEMBER 22, 2011 3:30 AM

Mark your calendars for January 19-21, 2012 in Grand Rapids, MI
The 2012 Wake Up Weekend Vegan Chili Cook-off is just a month away! And what better time to heighten the anticipation than to give you a taste of what's in store for the biggest Wake Up Weekend ever! What do I mean by big? Allow me to explain.

Wayne Pacelle, "The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them"
Thursday, January 19, 7:30 pm, Calvin College Chapel
Wayne Pacelle, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Society of the United States, will kick things off with a public lecture on his new book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them. Called The Barnyard Strategist by the New York Times, Pacelle's journey as the leader of the largest animal protection organization in the United States has taken him everywhere from animal rescue operations, to demonstrations on Capitol Hill, to the sets of The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Ellen Degeneres Show. Learn more about his motivation for writing the The Bond here, and then join us on the 19th to get your autographed copy at the reception and book-signing following his lecture.

Bryant Terry, 5th Annual Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture
"Out of the Factories and Into the Fields: Cooking as Inspiration for Liberation"
Friday, January 20, 3:30 pm, Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall
Whether he's urban farming in his home city of Oakland, articulating a new politics of food activism, or dishing up greens with Martha Stewart, Bryant Terry is all about re-envisioning cooking as a powerful tool for exposing interconnected forms of human and animal oppression, and inspiring our liberation into more redemptive ways of eating and of being together around the table, around the neighborhood, and around the world. In this, his second Wake Up Weekend appearance, Bryant will bestow upon us the honor of pre-releasing his brand new book, The Inspired Vegan, due out for the rest of the world on January 24. Meet Bryant and get your signed copy hot off the press at a reception following the address that will also feature catered appetizers from the book.

Nathan Runkle, "Inspiring Compassion: Putting Our Ethics on the Table"
Saturday, January 21, 3:00 pm, 106 Gallery, 106 South Division, Grand Rapids
When I was 15, I was mostly chewing gum, lifting weights, and listening to hair metal. When Nathan Runkle was 15, he founded Mercy For Animals, thereby laying the groundwork for what has become, a decade later, the premiere boots-on-the-ground animal advocacy organization in America. When it comes to exposing the injustices that animals undergo in modern food systems, Mercy For Animals is in a league of its own. Heard about that Norco Ranch investigation that helped to seal a landslide victory for Proposition 2 in California? MFA. How about the investigation of Sparbo Farms that recently resulted in McDonald's and Target dropping their main egg suppliers? Also MFA. When he's not appearing on CNN, Nathan and his organization are behind the scenes investigating cruelty and mobilizing the resulting footage into award-winning documentary films such as Fowl Play and Farm to Fridge that are changing the way the next generation thinks about, buys, and eats food.

A Weekend With All the Fixins'
And of course, we'll set off all of the above with the usual array of Wake Up Weekend fineries: a vegan potluck on Friday night, a vegan brunch on Saturday morning, an amazing art exhibition (titled KINSHIP curated by Brett Colley and featuring work by Adam Wolpa) and the VEGAN CHILI COOK-OFF on Saturday evening, and benefit show on Saturday night! Stay tuned for the official poster and schedule detailing the whole nine yards COMING SOON! As ever, all of these terrific community events--with the exception of the Saturday brunch ($12)--are free and open to the public! See you at Wake Up Weekend 2012!

NOVEMBER 17, 2011 4:10 PM

A Feast For the Mind, Heart, and Stomach with a Great American Activist!
Paul Shapiro is on the vanguard of the American animal protection movement. When Paul talks about animals and food, people listen. From members of the food industry, to journalists and social critics who write about it, to animal advocates seeking to reform it, all parties to the discussion are playing close attention to Paul Shapiro.

Paul's talk, "Blessed Are the Meek: Showing Mercy to All Creation", will address the prominent role played by the standard American diet in exacerbating various moral and practical problems for human beings, animals, and the environment, and then go on to suggest that a commitment to more intentional eating practices can be a powerful tool for people of faith who wish to seek justice, love mercy, and tread a bit more lightly on the planet. Wherever one may stand on matters religious, all animal advocates have a vested interest in being able to understand and communicate with audiences of faith, so coming out to hear what Paul has to say is in everyone's best interest!

Please join us for a Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck immediately following the talk. This potluck is the perfect opportunity for those unfamiliar with the diversity, beauty, and deliciousness of plant-based cuisine to enjoy a very pleasant surprise! The hope is that anyone and everyone who loves a good old fashioned holiday feed will join the fun! If you cook, please consider showing off your talents by bringing a dish to share. Also, please bring your own table service to help us decrease our carbon footprint.

To learn more about the speaker, visit the websites for the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship or the Humane Society of the United States. For inspiration on what to bring to the potluck, visit or Hope to see you on Monday!

SEPTEMBER 29, 2011 1:16 PM

Put on your Comfy Shoes and Walk for Justice on October 9, 2011!
I had intended to get this post up a bit earlier in the game, but there is still time to join in the fun at this year's Grand Rapids Walk for Animals. Get inspired by learning about the history and the vision behind this long-standing Farm Sanctuary tradition, and then visit the Facebook pages of Grand Rapids Walk for Animals and VegWestMichigan for details on how to get involved. Even if you can't commit to fundraising as a registered walker, you can always make a pledge of support to any of the 50+ people in our community who have already signed up to carry the banner for Grand Rapids!

Hey Couch Potatoes! Need a Little Extra Motivation?
Would you be more enthusiastic about skipping Bones re-runs to get out for the walk if Bones herself told you git 'er done? Well, turns out you're in luck! Listen to Bones and join the team or make a pledge!

JUNE 16, 2011 1:57 PM

Support Local Fellowship and Global Justice By Eating Vegan Baked Goods!
I realize it's a lot to ask. To be sure, being the change you want to see in the world by eating lemon ginger lace cookies, orange cranberry scones, sweet potato chocolate chip muffins, coconut heaven cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and raw chocolate truffles (among other culinary hardships) demands significant self-sacrifice. Nonetheless, the good folks at Square Inch Community would have us kick our selfish interests to the curb and support them in a new initiative--The Ready Table--designed to help Square Inch members, their friends and family, and anyone else who is interested to learn various lost arts of living that enhance fellowship in our communities and help us to live more intentional, compassionate, sustainable, and just lives as individuals and families.

Cooking, Baking, Canning, Fermenting, Dehydrating, and Sewing with a Purpose
Local artist, blogger, and Ready Table coordinator Erika Jane describes the project as follows:

"When our church was transitioning from meeting in our pastor's home to meeting in a larger shared community space we had many discussions about what we wanted our church to be. One common hope was to keep the feeling of family and home even though the meeting space would no longer be an actual home. The solution we have come up with is to have monthly workshops where we make things together that are typically made with family at home. We are naming this project The Ready Table. There is significance to engaging intentionally in DIY practice within a contemporary convenience culture, where anything you could ever want is on roll-out at Walmart. Educating and instructing each other, we can work together towards more simple living, in hopes of bringing Shalom."

Place your order by Wednesday, June 22 for pick-up on Sunday, June 26!
The intent of the vegan bake sale is to raise awareness of The Ready Table initiative, as well as funds to put on its free community workshops, the first of which--a vegan baking class led by Erika Jane, Marie Dershem, and Susan Halteman--is scheduled for later this month. In addition, 25% of the bake sale proceeds will support the efforts of sixth-grade Square Incher Hannah Dershem and her friends to raise money for GirlUp!, a United Nations Foundation program that seeks to ameliorate the lives of adolescent girls living in underserved or high-risk communities around the world. Presuming you're ready to stuff your face for justice (or even just for the love of baked goods that rule!), fill out the following order form by June 22 (or click here if your browser doesn't like the embedded version). Happy eating!

MAY 5, 2011 9:34 AM

Put your money where your mouth is so we can start eating!
If you're as excited as I am about the massive influx of vegan cuisine, creativity, education, and excitement that the opening of Bartertown Diner and Roc's Cakes will bring to the world, then please do your part to kickstart Bartertown. While giving to a good cause is its own reward, in this case you needn't even be an altruist, as there are some amazing returns on your investment: from limited edition postcards, t-shirts, and aprons, to the opportunity to name menu items, to custom catered in-home dinner parties and events, to your face painted into the mural, every pledge level entitles you to a piece of Bartertown history along with the bragging rights that come with being a Bartertown Backer.

Something for everyone!
If you're feeling especially generous, there's even a box to click to pledge your support with no strings attached so that our friends can reinvest the totality of your gift in the business. And even if you can't pledge any financial support at present, you can still be an important part of the team by pledging solidarity on their Facebook page and spreading the good word to your supportive friends and family! Don't miss this opportunity to help Grand Rapids take a GIANT LEAP toward our goal of becoming the vegan capital of the midwest! Stay tuned to extraVEGANza! for exclusive sneak-peeks of mural progress, menu development, and--of course--drool-inducing photos of Bartertown fare.

MARCH 20, 2011 2:30 PM

Wake Up Weekend 2011 Poster
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words! (Again!)
With a combined event attendance of over 700 people, this year's festivities were the biggest and best ever! Have some ideas about what you'd like to see on the program in 2012? Tell us! In the meanwhile, be sure to keep up that agitation for the animals by getting involved with terrific organizations like Farm Kind, Grand Rapids for Animals, Humane Society of GVSU, Not One Sparrow, Sasha Farm, Students for Compassionate Living, and VegWestMichigan. And keep up that vegan stamina by eating your veggies at Bartertown and Brick Road Pizza! Afraid that you missed the chance to score an official, handprinted Wake Up Weekend 2011 Program and Commemorative Poster (see, respectively, below and above)? Fear not! Drop us a line at, and we'll send you one wherever you are for just $5.00 (postage included).
Get Your Programs
Introducing Carol Adams
The Sexual Politics of Meat
After Anthropomorphism
Carol and Adam
Ben DeVries
Radiator Hospital
Royl Space
Damned Dogs
Xtra Vomit

FEBRUARY 23, 2011 10:28 AM

All events are free and open to the public (excluding the optional vegan buffet at Brick Road Pizza on Saturday morning ($11.00) and the Adoption Benefit Show on Saturday evening ($6.00). Donations to defray costs are cheerfully accepted. Questions? Write to

Our annual two-day celebration of animal-friendly food, art, education, and advocacy brought to you by Bartertown Diner and Roc's Cakes, Brick Road Pizza, Calvin College Students for Compassionate Living, ExtraVEGANza!, Farm Kind, Humane Society of GVSU, Not One Sparrow, VegWestMichigan, and VegFund.

7:30 pm--Carol J. Adams, "The Sexual Politics of Meat"
Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall, Calvin College
A vegan reception and book signing follows the lecture.

Some 20 years ago, "feminist-vegetarian critical theory" was born in the groundbreaking publication of Carol J. Adams's The Sexual Politics of Meat. Adams's thesis is that meat-eating is a central symbol of the patriarchy, and that we can't dismantle harmful systems of male domination until we recognize the link between how women are objectified and (visually) consumed and how animals are objectified and (literally) consumed. Adams's powerful multi-media presentation is the result of two decades of her continued work mapping the interdisciplinary terrain opened by this provocative thesis across the fields of theology, philosophy, visual culture, literary theory, psychology, eco-feminism, and social work in domestic violence education and prevention.

3:00 pm--Nathan Runkle, "Inspiring Compassion"
Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College

Join the Founder and Executive Director of Mercy For Animals--one of the nation's most influential animal advocacy organizations--for a workshop on how our current food system affects the interests of our fellow non-human creatures, and how our food choices can become powerful tools for cultivating the virtues of compassion, mercy, and good stewardship.

5:00 pm--"Compassionate Comestibles" Vegan Potluck**
Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College
Hosted by Students for Compassionate Living

At an event where omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans are coming together in fellowship, a vegan bill of fare insures that everyone can enjoy what's on the menu! What's your favorite vegan recipe? Bring a dish to share and find out where others come down on this appetizing question! Need a few ideas? Vegan Yum Yum, Post Punk Kitchen, and ChooseVeg never disappoint.

**Please help us to reduce our ecological footprint by bringing your own washable or recyclable dinnerware and perhaps an extra setting or two for our out-of-town guests and last-minute participants; a limited number of recyclables will be on hand for those without table service.

7:30 pm--Carol J. Adams, Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture Series***
Fourth Annual Address: "Anthropomorphism: The Christian Double Standard"
Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall, Calvin College
A vegan reception and book signing follows the lecture.

Anthropomorphism, roughly speaking, is the ascription of human-like traits to non-human beings. How does anthropomorphism figure into human attitudes and actions toward God, animals, and even other human beings? What are the potential risks and rewards of anthropomorphizing others and what recourse do Christians have upon acknowledging these prospects for re-imagining and deepening their relationships with God, human beings, and other animals? Come follow Carol J. Adams on a trailblazing journey through these and other fascinating related questions in a brand new presentation commissioned especially for this event!

***The Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture Series is an independent event established by a friend of Calvin College and supported this year by additional help from Calvin College Gender Studies and The Office of Multicultural Affairs. Since the lecture is free and open to the public and likely to be of interest to Wake Up Weekend participants, the College has kindly permitted us to include Adams' lecture on our program.

10:00 am--Harold Brown, "Veganic Agriculture"
Brick Road Pizza Company, 1017 Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids

Join Harold Brown, President of FarmKind and star of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, for a state-of-the-field discussion of recent developments in veganic agriculture--the practice of organic farming without the use of animals and their byproducts or the killing of free-living animals who reside on or around the farm.

11:30 am--Vegan Brunch
Brick Road Pizza Company, 1017 Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids

A vegan buffet of Brick Road brunch favorites: all you can eat for $11.00 (kids half price!). Need I say more?

1:00 pm--Ben DeVries, "Why Creation Care Needs Creature Care"
Brick Road Pizza Company, 1017 Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids

While many Christians are increasingly hospitable to the idea that environmental stewardship or "creation care" is an important aspect of Christian living, comparatively few have investigated the implications of that idea for their attitudes toward and practices concerning the non-human animal creatures with whom we share the Earth. Join Ben DeVries, founder of the web-based animal welfare organization Not One Sparrow: A Christian Voice for Animals, to learn more about why authentic "creation care" demands a serious commitment to "creature care".

5:00 pm--Fifth Annual Vegan Chili Cookoff
Bartertown Diner and Roc's Cakes, 6 Jefferson, Grand Rapids

In addition to the chili-time magic you've come to expect from you and your peers' relentless pursuit of the perfect vegan chili, this year's highly-anticipated cookoff will also feature eats and sweets compassionately crafted by our hosts--the good folks at Bartertown Diner and Roc's Cakes. This event is open to the public and the privilege of tasting chilis and sampling Bartertown's wares is completely free of charge. But if you want a shot at the bragging rights, there is an entry fee of $10 per chili payable at the event. As if you need any further incentive, first prize is $50 in Bartertown Bucks, a Guest Chef Internship at Bartertown, your chili on the menu, and a limited edition t-shirt. There will also be prizes for 2nd and 3rd place as well as for the coveted Chili-time People's Choice Award.

If you plan to enter a chili into competition, please send an e-mail to at your earliest convenience. In a pinch, you slackers out there can still register a chili on the day of the event, but it will greatly help our planning to know your intentions in advance. Please plan to have your chili on site and ready to eat by 4:30 pm.

8:00 pm--Adoption Benefit Show
featuring Damned Dogs, Radiator Hospital, and Royl Space
(106), 106 South Division, Grand Rapids

Your $6.00 admission gets you three musical acts for one great cause: our goal is to raise $420 to cover a year's room and board at Sasha Farm for Moose, a former veal calf who will be relocating to the sanctuary later this month. Read all about it at our Adoption Benefit Show event page.

Questions? Need more information? Drop a line to! See you at Wake Up Weekend 2011!

FEBRUARY 15, 2011 11:40 PM

Brick Road Fundraiser
Stuff Your Face for a Good Cause on Sunday, February 20!
Remember how much fun we had at Brick Road Pizza during last year's Wake Up Weekend festivities? Well, they're looking forward to having us back again this year, and to help us put on a good show, they're hosting a fundraiser for us this coming Sunday, February 20, 2011 from 11 am to 2 pm. Your $11.00 admission (kids half price!) gets you an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet as well as a euphoric altruism-induced buzz from the knowledge that 25% of the proceeds will go to help us pull off one of the most ambitious Wake Up Weekends ever, including two evening lectures by feminist vegan legend Carol J. Adams, workshops on animal rights activism (Nathan Runkle), veganic agriculture (Harold Brown), and religious animal welfare advocacy (Ben DeVries), and a vegan chili cook-off hosted by our new friends at Bartertown--Grand Rapids' brand spankin' new vegan diner and cakeshop. Wake Up Weekend kicks off on March 10 (stay tuned for further details and a full program), but please join us on Sunday to get the ball rolling!

FEBRUARY 1, 2011 12:28 AM

Bartertown ROC'S Logo
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is for GR's Newest Vegan Entrepreneurs
Another vegan coup is unfolding right here in little ol' GR. Local chef, filmmaker, record producer, and now vegan entrepreneur Ryan Cappelletti is opening Bartertown and ROC's Cakes--a worker owned, vegi-vegan-raw diner and cakeshop located at 6 Jefferson Street in Grand Rapids. If you're as excited as I am about this incredible development, please show your love by coming out to a Bartertown benefit on Monday, February 21st at the Wealthy Street Theater at 8pm. In addition to the singular opportunity to support an amazing new venue in our fair city, your contribution of $5.00 includes admission to a screening of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (the film that inspired the name "Bartertown"). Your contribution of $10.00 buys admission to the movie plus $5.00 in Bartertown Bucks to spend at the diner. Limited edition tees and other ground-level merch will be for sale as well. Mark your calendars and see you there!

JANUARY 3, 2011 10:42 AM

Vegan Frozen Pizza and Other Reasons to Revel in the Arrival of 2011!
If the advent of Tofurky Pepperoni Pizza isn't a reason to celebrate the new year, I don't know what is. But there are plenty of other reasons too. For instance, the weather should be a bit better than usual for this year's Wake Up Weekend, which we've moved to March 10-12 to accommodate the schedule of our headline speaker, Carol J. Adams. (Learn more by reading all about her recent presentations at Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley, or check out this old extraVEGANza! write-up on her groundbreaking vegan feminism. We're hoping to have Harold Brown in town as well for a screening of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home". Stay tuned for further details!

NOVEMBER 18, 2010 11:55 PM

Who Says Vegans Can't Enjoy Turkeys on Thanksgiving?
We can bear witness to their stories of survival, we can admire their beauty, we can prepare feasts that express our solidarity with them, and we can contribute to their flourishing. Join Farm Sanctuary in establishing a new Thanksgiving tradition that gives these beautiful, social creatures the respect they deserve. Adopt a turkey today!

NOVEMBER 9, 2010 7:56 PM

Sunday! Get Your Place in Line to Benefit Sasha Farm!
From 11am to 3pm this Sunday, November 14, Brick Road Pizza Company will host an all-you-can-eat vegan Thanksgiving buffet to benefit Sasha Farm, Michigan's largest sanctuary for rescued farm animals. Admission is $12; kids 12 and under are free! For more information on the event or if you have any questions, simply click here to read all about it. Hope to see you on Sunday!

AUGUST 18, 2010 9:15 PM

Picture 1
Thursdays Through October: Farm Fresh Produce at 1905 Madison SE (near Burton)
If you attended Bryant Terry's unforgettable cooking demo at Wake Up Weekend 2010, you're already aware of the problem of urban food deserts--places in the city where lack of access to fresh, affordable, healthful food threatens the well-being of the people who live there. Thanks to a partnership between the Kent County Health Department and the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, there's a new food oasis in town where fresh, locally-grown produce from regional farms and community gardens are available and EBT-Bridge Cards are accepted for payment. To become a vendor or to learn more about the market, contact Yvonne or Christy with your questions. Don't miss this important opportunity to help make widespread food autonomy a reality in our community!

MARCH 25, 2010 10:49 AM

Picture 1
Join in the Fun and Support Our Friends at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Those of you Wake Up Weekenders who had the privilege of attending Nekeisha Alexis-Baker's presentation on Racism, Sexism, and Speciesism back in 2009 know very well that anything she puts her hand to is well worth attending. That's why I thought you might like to know about a free concert she's promoting on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, IN, featuring Seth Martin and the Menders, a band of good old fashioned folk agitators with members hailing from all over the globe (have banjo, will travel!). Elkhart is just a short drive due south, but if you can't spare the time on a weeknight, you can still check out the music, fan them up on Facebook, and spread the good word to friends and family in or around Elkhart. What's the animal connection, you ask? Seth's got a song in the new documentary film The War On Animals. Check out the trailers here, but a word of warning--they are not for the faint of heart.

MARCH 16, 2010 8:14 PM

Balcombe Knocks it Out of the Park in Interview on Public Radio
If you have fifty minutes to spare, I recommend dropping everything and checking out this fascinating interview with cognitive ethologist Jonathan Balcombe, author of the new book Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals. Rarely, if ever, have I heard a more articulate public defense of animal sentience, the richness of animals' inner lives, and the ethics of veganism. Simultaneously humble and firm, Balcombe offers principled answers to all the big questions: What about eating meat, eggs, and dairy? What about leather shoes? What about fishing? What about hunting? What about companion animals? If you're looking for inspiration or ideas for making headway with friends and family, it'll be hard to do better than Jonathan Balcombe. Big props to the Diane Rehm Show for having the vision to invite him!

MARCH 3, 2010 12:19 PM

An Excellent Blog on Sustainable Agriculture Around the World
While The Worldwatch Institute isn't a vegan organization, they do a lot of excellent work to raise awareness about the moral and environmental dangers of industrial agriculture and to spread the word about sustainable alternatives for feeding a hungry world. In preparation for their annual "State of the World" report in 2011, they've launched a very informative blog called Nourishing the Planet. Check it out here, sign up for a weekly newsletter, and spread the word to interested friends and family.

FEBRUARY 22, 2010 8:46 PM

Nope. Not a joke. Well, not intentionally, anyway.
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't read it myself in Hoosier Ag Today: How is Big Agriculture going to win the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers who are increasingly skeptical of the moral and environmental sustainability of industrial farming? According to "communications expert" Dr. Wes Jamison, the answer is by telling them that "Happiness is a dead animal". Obviously.

FEBRUARY 10, 2010 6:28 PM

Doublespeak and Dishwater Coffee With A Heaping Side of Malevolence
In addition to increasing their risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, and stroke, Denny's patrons now enjoy the distinction of supporting a company that mocks the suffering of chickens for financial gain. In addition to inviting friends and family to boycott Denny's, won't you take a moment to tell the kind folks there what you think of their new campaign? And don't forget to share the love with the marketing firm behind the commercials--Goodby, Silverstein & Partners--whose stated mission is "to change minds through the creation of experiences that are moving, humorous, beautiful, and respectful." Indeed. What could be more moving, humorous, beautiful, and respectful than making light of the misery of the most abused animals on earth in order to sell more of the commodity on which their suffering is predicated?

FEBRUARY 7, 2010 10:35 PM

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words!
What do activists, artists, chili cook-offs, community organizers, eco-chefs, panel discussions, philosophers, potlucks, restauranteurs, town hall meetings, and a combined event total of over 600 participants have in common? Wake Up Weekend, that's what! Thanks for helping to make 2010 our most successful year to date! Have some ideas about what you'd like to see happen in 2011? Send them to In the meanwhile, see if you can locate your smiling face among the crowds!
The Many Faces of Food Activism
Animals and the Kingdom of God
Sold Out!
Live Cooking Demo
Bryant Cooks
Meeting Bryant
Capacity Crowd at Brick Road
Gendered Eating
Just Eating
Named and Nameless
Brett Colley
Kate Daughdrill
Adam Wolpa
Erika Jane
Full Gallery
Chili Judges
Chili Tins
And the Winners Are...
IYA Chili
Spicy #12
Chef's Choice
Chili Cookoff

JANUARY 14, 2010 11:27 AM

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti
Lend a Helping Hand to Suffering Human Beings and Animals in Haiti
Please consider giving what you can to organizations seeking to ameliorate the devastating effects of the massive earthquake in Haiti. Doctors Without Borders and World Society for the Protection of Animals are excellent places to begin your research on how to make a difference.

Looking for the Wake Up Weekend 2010 Official Schedule? Click here!

JANUARY 8, 2010 11:57 AM

*All events are free and open to the public (excluding the optional vegan soul food buffet after Bryant Terry's cooking demo; the buffet is just $10.00 per person at the door). Donations to defray costs are cheerfully accepted. Questions? Write to

Our annual two-day celebration of animal-friendly food, art, education, and advocacy brought to you by Animals & Society Institute, Brick Road Pizza Company, Christian Vegetarian Association of West Michigan, DAAC, ExtraVEGANza!, G-Rad, Not One Sparrow, OrganicAthlete of Grand Rapids, Students for Compassionate Living, and VegWestMichigan.

2:30 pm--The Many Faces of Food Activism
Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College

Stay on the cutting edge of the movement by learning from the people who are making it happen. From rights to welfare, from religion to art to politics, from veganic agriculture to urban gardening to Proposition 2, our panelists know the score. Join us for this workshop and you will too!

Harold Brown (Farm Kind, Hector, NY)
Brett Colley (Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI)
Ben DeVries (Not One Sparrow, Kenosha, WI)
Lisa Oliver-King (Our Kitchen Table, Grand Rapids, MI)
Paul Shapiro (Humane Society of the United States)

5:30 pm--"Compassionate Comestibles" Vegan Potluck*
Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College
*Hosted by Students for Compassionate Living

At an event where omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans are coming together in fellowship, a vegan bill of fare insures that everyone can enjoy what's on the menu! What's your favorite vegan recipe? Bring a dish to share and find out where others come down on this appetizing question! Need a few ideas? Vegan Yum Yum and Post Punk Kitchen never disappoint.

***Please help us to reduce our ecological footprint by bringing your own washable or recyclable dinnerware*** and perhaps an extra setting or two for our out-of-town guests and last-minute participants; a limited number of recyclables will be on hand for those without table service.

7:30 pm--Third Annual Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture*
The Chapel Undercroft, Calvin College.

"Animal Sacrifices", Dr. John E. Hare, Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale University.

*The Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture Series is an independent event established by a friend of Calvin College. Since the lecture is free and open to the public and likely to be of interest to Wake Up Weekend participants, the College has kindly allowed us to include Professor Hare's address on our schedule.

11:00 am--Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen
Brick Road Pizza Company, 1017 Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids

Why read about him in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, or Mother Jones Magazine, when you can hang with Bryant Terry in person right here in Grand Rapids, get some expert instruction on how to battle the social ills of structural racism and food insecurity by eating more sustainably and compassionately, and then stick around for an optional $10 all-you-can-eat buffet custom designed for the event by Bryant himself. Copies of Vegan Soul Kitchen will be available for purchase on site! Already have it? Bring it along and turn it into an autographed copy!

*Bryant's visit is generously sponsored by the Calvin College Office of Multicultural Affairs, Student Activities Office, the departments of Art and Art History, Biology, and Philosophy, Students for Compassionate Living, and our friends at Brick Road Pizza Company.

2:30 pm--Lecture: "Justice for Animals: What May We Hope?"
(106), 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids

Dr. Andrew Chignell, Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University.

3:30 pm--Town Hall Meeting: Just Eating--Making a Difference in YOUR TOWN, USA
(106), 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids

Join our panel of activists, professors and friends for an open discussion on approaches to transforming local food systems in cities such as Grand Rapids, MI, Ithaca, NY, Washington, D.C., and others.

5:30 pm--Opening Reception: Named and Nameless
(106), 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids

An exhibition featuring the work of Sue Coe, Brett Colley, Kate Daughdrill, Erika Jane, and Adam Wolpa. This exhibition deals with the complicated relationship between human and non-human animals, exploring industrialized farming practices, domestic companionship, and entertainment through the lens of global and local consumption and visual culture. Named and Nameless addresses the construction of societal belief structures and values, and seeks to uncover paths to justice and peace within this manufactured environment.

5:30 pm--Open Studio: The Artist is the Human is the Animal*
Division Avenue Arts Collective, 115 S. Division, Grand Rapids.

An exhibition featuring the work of Rebecca Green, Justin Kellner, Molly Pettengill, and Cory Scneider. All proceeds from sales of artworks will benefit Farm Sanctuary.*

*Please note that the opening reception for this event is on January 15, 2010. Doors open at 6:00 pm with a screening of Earthlings following at 7:00 pm. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided by Brick Road Pizza Company.

7:00 pm--Vegan Chili Cook-Off
(106), 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids
You know the drill on this one: Best. Vegan. Chili. Ever. (Made by YOU, if you've got the guts to compete, anyway.) All the traditional categories will be back, along with a brand new CHEF'S CHOICE honor awarded by celebrity guest judge BRYANT TERRY!

*If you plan to enter a chili into competition, please send an e-mail to ASAP to request a registration form. Last year's festivities drew a record-shattering 28 chili entries--CAN WE RAISE THE BAR TO 30 THIS YEAR? NOT WITHOUT YOUR HELP!

9:30 pm--Film Screening: Fowl Play--The Untold Story Behind Your Breakfast*
Division Avenue Arts Collective, 115 S. Division, Grand Rapids.

Since the exclusive premiere of the original version of Fowl Play at Wake Up Weekend 2008, the film has won multiple awards on the festival circuit. Come check out the critically acclaimed latest version.

Questions? Need more information? Drop a line to! See you at Wake Up Weekend 2010!

DECEMBER 22, 2009 8:41 PM

Mark Your Calendars: January 22-23, 2010 in Grand Rapids, MI!
It's that time of year again, when wistful memories of 2007, 2008, and 2009 conjure great expectations of good times yet to come! Good times such as, for instance, taking pointers on how to get your Vegan Soul Kitchen up and running from eco-chef and bestselling cookbook author Bryant Terry, or getting the inside scoop on recent animal protection legislation from HSUS überActivist Paul Shapiro, or learning about veganic agriculture from abolitionist icon Harold Brown of Farm Kind. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. You've come to expect speakers galore, vegan eats in abundance, artworks o'plenty, and--of course--the opportunity to compete for bragging rights in the battle royale of vegan chili cook-offs. We're going to bring it all, and then some, so set the dates aside and let's get ready to rumble! Stay tuned for the full schedule coming soon!

NOVEMBER 30, 2009 10:33 AM

TONIGHT! The Truth About Food (FOR FREE!) in a Neighborhood Near You!
Doors open at 6PM and the reel gets rolling at 6:30. There will be information tables to browse and a question-and-answer discussion after the show. This event is sponsored by Aquinas College's Students Striving for Sustainability, WMCO-OP, and Slow Food West Michigan. Why not make it an evening to remember by visiting Brick Road for some vegan pizza before the show, and The Meanwhile for a local pitcher and some post-film discussion?

NOVEMBER 16, 2009 12:59 PM

Share the Goodness? No thanks!
In Empty Cages, Tom Regan coins the phrase "disconnect dictum" to describe the gap that often separates what major animal industries say about their business from what they actually do behind the scenes. To see the disconnect dictum in full effect, look no further than Hatfield Quality Meats, a "family owned" company that invites us to "share the goodness" of their "conscientious stewardship of livestock" by consuming their "wholesome" pork products. Here's how they portray their business in a recent commercial:

Hatfield Quality Meats: What They Say
And here's what they pay one of their major suppliers, Country View Family Farms, to do in their name:

Hatfield Quality Meats: What They Do
Those interested in holding Hatfield Quality Meats accountable for their schmaltzy commercials, their treatment of pigs, or both of these offenses may wish to register a complaint with their PR department or make a contribution to Mercy For Animals to support the undercover investigations that bring these instances of the disconnect dictum to light.

OCTOBER 29, 2009 9:52 PM

HBO Star Has Big Love for Turkeys. You Should Too!
As Thanksgiving draws nearer, it's time to start thinking about how to get our should-have-been national bird the widespread public respect she deserves. What better way to do so than to join Ginnifer Goodwin and Farm Sanctuary in celebrating this noble bird through participation in the 2009 Adopt-a-Turkey Program? This year's adoptees are an especially winsome bunch, and your one-time donation of $25.00 gets you or the recipient of your gift of compassion an adoption certificate and a full color photo of your adoptee. Who will it be? Bubbles, Gideon, Mello, Olive, Rhonda, or Hawthorn? For a gift of just $150, you can sponsor the whole flock! On our last Thanksgiving in the Windy Cindy, we sponsored a turkey called Whisper whose photo adorned our table while we feasted on bird-free vegan vittles from The Chicago Diner. Three cheers for new and better traditions!

OCTOBER 19, 2009 4:35 PM

A Concerned Parent on a Moral Quest to Feed His Child Right
Readers of good fiction (especially good fiction written by youngish, controversialish authors) have likely dipped into one or both of Jonathan Safran Foer's celebrated novels, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Given that the protagonist of this latter book is a winsomely presented child vegan, it is not altogether shocking that Safran Foer has turned his talents more explicitly and non-fictionally to the question of the moral implications of Eating Animals. The conceit? He is now a concerned parent, and the prospect of his failure to provide a compelling moral example for his son is looming ever larger. Curious? You can get an early glimpse of the first chapter of the book (due out tomorrow) in Safran Foer's recent New York Times article.

SEPTEMBER 7, 2009 7:07 PM

Farm Sanctuary's Gene Baur Will Be There! How About YOU?
Friend of extraVEGANza! Annie Smolinski has done us a great service and organized the first ever Farm Sanctuary Walk for Farm Animals right here in Grand Rapids! As if the opportunity to raise funds for this important cause weren't motivation enough, Annie has gone the distance to secure both an in-person appearance from Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder Gene Baur (who will walk with us on the 1.5 mile tour of East Hills and Eastown) AND an optional all-you-can-eat vegan buffet at Brick Road Pizza after the event! You've seen Gene in Peaceable Kingdom, read about him in The New York Times, and watched him on Larry King Live--now it's time to join him on a late summer stroll through a couple of your favorite neighborhoods in our fair city, gorge on some vegan pizza, and show Gene that we Grand Rapidians are prepared to walk what we talk about animal compassion!

Mark Your Calendars and Register Now!
DATE: Sunday, September 20, 2009
TIME: Registration 12:30 pm, WALK at 1:00 pm
PLACE: Brick Road Pizza Parking Lot (Behind 1017 Wealthy SE)
HOW TO REGISTER OR DONATE: Go to Farm Sanctuary's Firstgiving Webpage and click on "register for an event" or "donate to a friend's page". Grand Rapids' registration site is on page three, and your $15.00 registration fee includes a t-shirt if you register before September 13!
AFTER THE WALK: Meet and greet Gene, who will talk to us about Farm Sanctuary's efforts on behalf of animals, and stay for an optional vegan buffet at which we'll school him in the art of eating vegan wings!
QUESTIONS: Contact Annie at

We've worked hard to earn our place in the animal advocacy big leagues! Now it's time to put on our game faces and git 'er done! See you on September 20!

SEPTEMBER 1, 2009 10:55 AM

200 Million a Year Suffer This Merciless Fate.
Mercy for Animals just released this harrowing footage of standard egg industry practices for dealing with unwanted male chicks at Hy-Line North America's hatchery in Spencer, Iowa. You can read about Hy-Line corporate headquarters' response in this article from yesterday's Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, but allow me to share the most chilling sentence: "Instantaneous euthanasia by maceration is specifically supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Federation of Animal Science Societies, Agriculture Canada, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and European Union (EU)." As long as our culture continues to suborn the treatment of animals as property, the people in the white coats will continue to assure us that there's nothing morally wrong with grinding up millions of unwanted male chicks alive. Please share this information with family and friends and encourage them to be the change they want to see in the world by boycotting eggs!

AUGUST 24, 2009 1:05 PM

Even Time Magazine is Ready to Face the Music
With the New York Times advising us to curb the "Meat Guzzler", Foreign Policy calling meat-culture "The Slavery of Our Time", The Washington Post declaring our diets "The Meat of the Problem", and Scientific American exhorting us to put down"The Greenhouse Hamburger", I suppose it was only a matter of Time until the widest tributary of the journalistic mainstream would observe the necessity of "Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food".

Say Goodbye to "Cheap" Meat
Time's Bryan Walsh is not mincing words here: "We don't have the luxury of philosophizing about food. With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil -- which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills -- our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later. As the developing world grows richer, hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy -- demand for meat and poultry worldwide is set to rise 25% by 2015 -- but the earth can no longer deliver. Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow and consume food, they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs -- and bland taste. Sustainable food has an élitist reputation, but each of us depends on the soil, animals and plants -- and as every farmer knows, if you don't take care of your land, it can't take care of you."

With periodicals as mainstream as Time Magazine beating the war drums this loudly, it's tempting to hope that our country's state of denial is finally starting to lift. Do your part! Share this link! Better yet, go vegan!

AUGUST 4, 2009 10:57 PM

Ezra Klein Joins the Litany of Truth-tellers About Meat-Culture
While denial and shoulder-shrugging even among otherwise discerning people are still par for the course when it comes to reckoning with the fallout of meat-culture, it's hard to deny that the winds of change are a blowin'. They're gusting near to gale force, for instance, in this recent article from the Washington Post by celebrated progressive blogger Ezra Klein. Thanks to Amelia Hicks for the tip!

JULY 6, 2009 5:13 PM

Mark Your Calendars for Saturday, July 11 at 11:30 am!
Interested in hearing a free lecture by Will Tuttle, peace activist and author of The World Peace Diet? Come to Brick Road Pizza at 11:30 am on Saturday morning to catch the lecture, and stay for an optional vegan buffet at 12:30 pm (the cost of the optional buffet is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under 12). See you on Saturday!

JUNE 4, 2009 12:17 PM

The year is 2109. The menu? 100% Vegan
We've all heard of Meatless Mondays, but this recent blogpost by health and wellness expert Kathy Freston invites us to imagine a meatless future, full-stop. The blogpost is an imagined dialogue between a 22nd century history teacher and her students, the latter of whom are positively incredulous that human beings ever used animals for food. Dare we dream!

JUNE 4, 2009 12:00 PM

Now Playing on a Computer Near You: The Distinguished Speakers of WW09!
Whether you're bummed that you had to miss this year's Wake Up Weekend events, or thrilled at the prospect of re-living them, your ship has come in thanks to the hard work of the Calvin Video Network, which recently posted nicely edited footage of virtually the entire 2009 program to Vimeo.

Nekeisha Alexis-Baker

Wake Up Weekend - Nekeisha Alexis-Baker from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Harold Brown

Wake Up Weekend - Harold Brown from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Ben DeVries

Wake Up Weekend - Ben DeVries Part 1 of 2 from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Adam Durand

Wake Up Weekend - Adam Durand from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Bee Friedlander

Wake Up Weekend - Bee Friedlander from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Michelle Loyd-Paige

Wake Up Weekend - Michelle Loyd-Paige from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

Nathan Runkle

Wake Up Weekend - Nathan Runkle from Calvin Video Network on Vimeo.

APRIL 28, 2009 7:08 PM

Eminent Theologian to Offer 2009 Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture
The second annual address of the Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture Series at Calvin College is this Friday, May 1, at 7:30 pm in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall at the Hekman Library. This year's speaker is Dr. Jay McDaniel, the Willis T. Holmes Distinguished Professor of Religion at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. An eminent figure in the timely and rapidly expanding field of creation care theology, Dr. McDaniel is the author of numerous books including Of God and Pelicans: A Theology of Reverence for Life (John Knox) and Living from the Center: Spirituality in an Age of Consumerism (Chalice).

Why Christians Need Animals...And God Does, Too!
Dr. McDaniel's address is titled "Why Christians Need Animals...And God Does, Too!", and he describes the project as follows: "I will suggest four ways that Christians are enriched by the presence of animals: as vessels of grace, subjects of respect, objects of amazement, and sites for the holy. I will then introduce a way of thinking about God -- the panentheistic perspective of process theology -- in which animals are understood as adding to the beauty of God's own life and subjects of God's care. The lecture concludes with a consideration of the idea that, given the extent of animal suffering, there is tragedy, even in God, and also with the suggestion that, if there is a continuing journey for humans after death, there must also be one for animals." Light refreshments and a book signing follow the address. The lecture is free and open to the public and a selection of Dr. McDaniel's books will be available for sale at 20% off the retail price.

Got Dinner Plans Beforehand?
If not, you should consider joining the Students for Compassionate Living for one of their legendary vegan potlucks at 5:00 pm in the DeVos Communications Center Forum just across the beltline from the main campus. The potluck theme is "Southern Soul", so fry up some garlic and greens, boil down the black-eyed peas, BBQ some seitan, and break out the biscuits and gravy. As always, please bring a dish to share and your own table service. Hope to see you there!

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APRIL 22, 2009 5:00 PM

Another Amazing Event Brought to You By Calvin College Student Activists
Mark your calendars for this Saturday, April 25, and join Calvin College Residence Life in celebrating the Mad Farmer Food Fest from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm in the outdoor ampitheater of the Knollcrest East Apartments (see SE corner of this map) for great food, an on-campus farmers' market, and a series of fantastic workshops on eating right.

Tickets are $5.00 for adults and just $2.00 for children, and the price of admission includes lunch catered by Brick Road Pizza and Marie Catrib's, a keynote lecture on "Practicing Resurrection through Food Choice" by Karen Lubbers of Lubbers Family Farm, and breakout sessions on a variety of topics of interest to vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Calvin College Box Office or onsite at the event. Peruse the full schedule of activities here and plan to make a day of it! Where else in Grand Rapids can you eat vegan pizza, support local farmers, have your face painted, participate in a vegan bread-making workshop, and learn about the ethics of eating from the good folks at places like Mixed Greens and Mud Lake Farm, all for just $5.00?

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APRIL 16, 2009 10:24 PM

Jeffrey Masson's Take on the Truth About Food
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, award-winning author of numerous books on the inner lives of animals, has just published a new monograph on the use of animals for food. Read all about it in New York Times columnist Eric Konigsberg's piece titled "A Man with Opinions on Food with a Face". Many thanks to John Scherer for the tip on this article.

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APRIL 2, 2009 10:42 AM

Mercy For Animals Strikes Again
This gut-wrenching video exposes the deplorable conditions inside the largest industrial egg farm in New England. How many "worst case scenarios" in how many states will we have to witness until we start believing that these problems are not just troublesome "one-offs" but standard industry conditions? Consider doing your part to keep the heat on this industry by supporting Mercy For Animals.

MARCH 23, 2009 10:43 PM

Marti Kheel Spotlights the Need for Holism in Ethical Inquiry
Friend of ExtraVEGANza! Brianne Donaldson has this to say about Marti Kheel's recent book titled Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective:

"For scholar-activists concerned with systemic connections between animal, environmental and human oppression, Nature Ethics provides a lens through which to examine other philosophies, theologies and political and environmental theories. Exploring the connection that Kheel makes between human violence and socially constructed masculine identity is like donning a pair of 3-D glasses that exposes previously unseen dualisms in even the most esteemed perspectives on animal rights, Gandhian nonviolence, environmental protection and ecological holism.

The ecofeminist invitation to develop empathethic relationships with individual beings validates the experiences with animal suffering that move many toward activism in the first place. Kheel's refusal to rely solely on the "conceptual force" of rational arguments makes her final call to a conscious ethos of contexualized care toward nature and individual other-than-human animals hard to resist. If you have ever been frustrated by rational or spiritual systems that don't seem to wed theory with praxis, Nature Ethics may illuminate why."

Get a free sneak peek at google books. If you like what you see, consider ordering a copy to read and then loan to friends and family.

MARCH 23, 2009 9:25 PM

An Organic Vegetable Garden at the White House? Really?
"Is a Food Revolution Now In Season?" asks Andrew Martin in the Business section of Saturday's New York Times. Apparently, everyone from Michelle Obama, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, to boar-hunting noble savage Michael Pollan, to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow are on the bandwagon, but I'm afraid I'll have to see it to believe it.

Predictably, the v-word goes unmentioned, but I suppose it would be curmudgeonly not to celebrate the widespread public favor that organic produce is currently enjoying. When we applaud the slow food movement, however, let's see to it that we take care to frame compassion for animals as a central part of the story. "Sustainability" in and of itself is not enough, as some of the more prophetic voices in our movement have reminded us.

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MARCH 9, 2009 8:30 PM

Peter Singer on Acting Now to End World Poverty
First and foremost, the vegan lifestyle is about acknowledging the inherent dignity of others and advocating compassion and justice in face of these others' unnecessary suffering and death. A number of previous posts have highlighted the degree to which veganism addresses issues other than just "animal concerns," such as environmental apartheid and global hunger. Today's post recommends a new book by Animal Liberation author Peter Singer that seeks to motivate average folks like us to take radical steps toward eradicating global poverty.

Singer's notoriety as an animal advocate has often deflected attention from his other work. Nevertheless, for the past four decades since the publication of his classic paper "Famine, Affluence, and Morality", Singer has been equally, if not more, outspoken about the moral urgency of seeking justice for the world's poorest people. For a free preview of Singer's accessible, inspiring writing style and an overview of the general strategy of his argument, check out his 2006 New York Times Magazine article titled "What Should a Billionaire Give...And What Should You?". If you like what he has to say, consider reading the book and then sharing the inspiration with family and friends.

MARCH 2, 2009 1:34 PM

No Such Thing as "Sustainable" Beef, Study Shows.
A recent study conducted by German scientists confirms what common sense already clearly suggests, namely that the resource-intensive process of fattening and killing cows for food spells trouble for the environment even when it's done organically. My top two favorite quotations? I'm glad you asked: (1) "Vegans eat in a decidedly climate-friendly way" and (2) "Anyone who believes that by buying a ribeye steak from an organic store they are automatically contributing to climate protection is mistaken."

Other highlights of the article include a candid rebuke of "greening" efforts in the German government and elsewhere that continue to insulate livestock production from due environmental criticism (because of powerful lobbying interests), and an interviewee who just can't bring himself believe "that the world will come to an end because of cows burping and farting." Greed and denial--always a winsome combination! Möchten Sie es auf Deutsch lesen? Klicken Sie hier. Many thanks to Clayre for the tip on this article!

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FEBRUARY 23, 2009 10:41 PM

Join Forces With a Great New Vegan Vlog
Recent college graduate Michelle Taylor has taken her passions for clear, engaging communication and compassionate eating and channeled them into an excellent new vegan blog comprised of a series of brief video clips designed to demythologize the transition to a whole foods, plant-based diet. Check out Vegan Break and show your support for Michelle's exciting new initiative!

FEBRUARY 7, 2009 12:31 AM

Cass Sunstein in The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Believe it or not, the co-editor of Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions is apparently at large in the halls of power. Many thanks to our friend Ben DeVries for the tip.

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JANUARY 21, 2009 9:05 PM

It's Not Too Late! Register Your Chili Now!
The Wake Up Weekend 2009 competition is heating up, but with just nine registrants so far, we're still a full five chilis shy of the high bar of fourteen contestants set back in 2007. We'd love to SMASH that record this year, and we know you've got it in you.

The Details
The showdown begins at 7 pm sharp on Saturday, January 24th, 2009 at the gallery at 106 South Division, Grand Rapids, MI. If you have a crockpot or some alternate means of keeping your chili warm throughout the competition, we encourage you to use it. Please arrive no later than 6:40 so that we can have your chili ready to serve promptly at 7:00 pm.

Want in?
Please send your name, contact number, e-mail, recipe name* and recipe description** (optional) to

*By "Recipe Name," we simply mean the banner under which your chili will march into battle, e.g., "Vic's Veg Volcano" or "Torrid Thai Surprise."

**Like a fine wine, a well-crafted vegan chili is a complex affair. Incarnate for us the essence of your masterpiece. Particularly creative, humorous, or otherwise noteworthy descriptions may be published on ExtraVEGANza! to motivate others to compete and to attend (descriptions will be published anonymously in order to preserve the fairness of the competition). Look for a new post early on Friday with a rundown of the highlights!

Can't Contribute a Chili?
That's okay! There are plenty of other less intensive ways to participate. We'll need people to bring soft drinks, chips and dips, and other finger foods to supplement the chilis, as well as extra bowls, plates, cups and utensils to share with those who forget to bring their own. REMEMBER: To keep the Wake Up Weekend free of charge and still feed the masses, we need to count on a little help from our friends. If you can help in any of these ways, please drop a line to

JANUARY 12, 2009 6:52 PM

*All events are free and open to the public (excluding the all-you-can-eat Saturday brunch, which is just $10.00 per person at the door). Donations to defray costs are cheerfully accepted. Questions? Write to

Our annual two-day celebration of animal-friendly food, art, education, and advocacy brought to you by Animals & Society Institute, Brick Road Pizza Company, ExtraVEGANza!, G-Rad, Not One Sparrow, Oven Mitt Bakery, and Students for Compassionate Living.

2:30 pm--Animal Advocacy: What, Why, Who, and How?
Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College

Stay on the cutting edge of the movement by learning from the people who are making it happen. From rights to welfare, from religion to politics, from the laws of the heart to the laws of the land, from grassroots to goliath, our nationally recognized panelists know the score. Join us for this workshop and you will too!

Harold Brown (President, Farm Kind, Hector, NY)
Ben DeVries (Founder, Not One Sparrow, Kenosha, WI)
Adam Durand (Campaign Director, Animal Rights International, Rochester, NY)
Bee Friedlander (Managing Director, Animals and Society Institute, Ann Arbor, MI)
Nathan Runkle (Executive Director, Mercy for Animals, Columbus, OH and Chicago, IL)

5:30 pm--"Compassionate Comestibles" Vegan Potluck*
Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College
*Hosted by Students for Compassionate Living

At an event where omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans are coming together in fellowship, a vegan bill of fare insures that everyone can enjoy what's on the menu! What's your favorite vegan recipe? Bring a dish to share and find out where others come down on this appetizing question! Need a few ideas? Vegan Yum Yum and Post Punk Kitchen never disappoint.

***Please help us to reduce waste and carbon emissions by bringing your own washable or recyclable dinnerware*** and perhaps an extra setting or two for our out-of-town guests and last-minute participants; a limited number of recyclables will be on hand for those without table service.

7:30 pm--Film Festival
Bytwerk Video Theater, DeVos Communications Center, Calvin College
Eating Mercifully
Fowl Play (A Film By Adam Durand)

Two great films by two great directors, one of whom--Adam Durand--will be on hand to introduce his work and take questions after the screening. Did you know that the idea for "Fowl Play" was hatched at Wake Up Weekend 2007 and that the original first-cut of the film was edited here in Grand Rapids for our sneak preview screening at Wake Up Weekend 2008? Now in 2009, the final version has been nominated for Best Documentary in a national film festival in Hollywood, but YOU get to see it first right here in Grand Rapids. Look for special mention of Wake Up Weekend in the credits!

11:00 am--Vegan Brunch at Brick Road Pizza
Tofu scramble, french toast sticks, vegan fried chikn, and all your favorite specialty pizzas and salads are on the menu at this $10.00 all-you-can-eat vegan juggernaut that Chef Ryan promises will be a day to remember! Whether you're a Wake-up-Weekender or just a hungry Grand Rapidian, come on out! Everyone is welcome!

1:30--Spotlight Session: Animal Advocacy and Religion
(106), 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids
"Not One Sparrow is Forgotten: A Simply Christian Animal Advocacy"
Ben DeVries (Founder, Not One Sparrow)

3:00 pm--Panel: Animal Exploitation and Questions of Race and Gender
(106), 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids

"Thinking and Eating at the Same Time: Reflections of a Sista Vegan"
Michelle Loyd-Paige (Dean for Multicultural Affairs, Calvin College)

"Speciesism, Sexism, and Racism: The Intertwining Oppressions"
Nekeisha Alexis-Baker (Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary; Co-Founder, Jesus Radicals)

7:00 pm--Vegan Chili Cook-Off and Print Sale Benefit
(106), 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids
You know the drill on this one: Best. Vegan. Chili. Ever. (Made by YOU, if you've got the guts to compete, anyway.) Add vegan cornbread lovingly prepared by Oven Mitt Bakery, and a print sale that puts the artwork of Wake Up Weekend within everyone's reach, and you simply can't say no! Come on out and help us raise a few dollars for our participating animal charities, and we can show the world that compassion is recession-proof!

*If you plan to enter a chili into competition, please send an e-mail to ASAP to request a registration form. Last year, we were a bit light on chili (and a bit heavy on chili-eaters), so let's anticipate another big turnout and get as many of you to put your culinary prowess on display as possible!

See you at Wake Up Weekend 2009!

Comments (1)

JANUARY 3, 2009 7:25 PM

Mark Your Calendars: January 23-24, 2009 in Grand Rapids, MI
It is something of a tradition here at extraVEGANza! to go into a brief period of hibernation over the holidays and then return with a "COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!" in the new year to promote our annual Wake Up Weekend festivities. Remember how much fun you had in 2007 and 2008? You attended workshops and lectures, you wore your extraVEGANza! pride on your sleeve, you prepared and ate award-winning vegan chili, and you purchased artwork by a variety of fantastic national and regional artists, all for the worthy cause of compassion for animals!

Lucky for you, Wake Up Weekend 2009 is right around the corner, featuring yet another full slate of A-list speakers and events to kick off a new year of animal-friendly living in Grand Rapids and beyond! As ever, we'll be bringing some of the movement's most exciting people to our fair city and rallying ya'll to fire up your vegan chili-making skills. We've got a few innovations in store as well, including a print sale that will make Wake Up Weekend artwork more affordable for everyone, a $10.00 all-you-can-eat vegan brunch buffet at Brick Road Pizza, and additional sessions on cutting-edge topics including Animal Advocacy and Religion, and Compassionate Eating and Race Awareness. Stay tuned for the official schedule TBA in just a few days!

Comments (2)

NOVEMBER 19, 2008 10:04 AM

As the holiday known regrettably as "turkey day" approaches, please encourage friends and family members to think before they eat. Consider recommending to your loved ones the possibility of adopting a turkey this year, and then filling up instead on some of the vegan thanksgiving delicacies described here, here, and here, among many other places.

NOVEMBER 5, 2008 2:28 AM

Battery Cages, Veal Crates, and Gestation Crates Banned in California by 2015!
On a day of victory and liberation for the human population of the United States, California voters sent a clear message to those who seek to profit from the exploitation of animals: yes we can do better!

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OCTOBER 13, 2008 9:39 PM

Oprah: How Do We Treat the Animals We Eat?
Everyone knows that Oprah's got a heart for animals. Back in 1998, she was on the hot seat for taking the beef industry to task and getting sued for it (she won). More recently, she's been in the news for leaving a $30 million fortune to her dogs and for her public experiments with veganism. Today, she jumped into the fray of California's Prop. 2 debates, hosting an episode of the wildly popular Oprah Winfrey Show titled How We Treat The Animals We Eat. Among the guests were HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle and a number of industrial livestock producers and smaller-scale "free-range" farmers. Oprah did her best to give both sides their say, but it was pretty clear where she stands.

Mercy For Animals Exposes Cruelty to California Chickens
Nathan Runkle and his crack team of investigators at Mercy For Animals have exposed the conditions inside a major California egg producer just three weeks before citizens will vote on the proposition. Lastly, check out the New York Times' recent endorsement of Prop. 2. Alert your friends and family in California to these important resources.

OCTOBER 10, 2008 10:27 PM

Advice for the Next Farmer in Chief on the Hidden Politics of Food
Michael Pollan is no vegan, as I have been perhaps too eager to point out in previous posts. Nevertheless, he talks a lot of good sense in this new article published yesterday in the online edition of the October 12 Food Issue of the New York Times Magazine. Addressed to "Mr. President Elect", Pollan's "letter" states that "Food is about to demand your will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change." Hopefully, this truthy article is evidence that Pollan is ready to spend more time speaking truth to power and less time searching for his inner noble savage on infantile boar-hunting expeditions. We can only hope.

OCTOBER 8, 2008 1:42 PM

Get them thinking about Proposition 2!
After sending them this new commercial, you can follow up with a link to this site where they can learn more about The California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. For information on what the opposition is saying, you can steer them to this site. Pro or con, the more people talk, the more concern over the lives of animals permeates the culture and becomes an issue on the radar of everyday folks. Let's help to keep the conversation alive!

SEPTEMBER 26, 2008 11:38 AM

Going Viral: The new "Yes on Prop. 2" Video "Uncaged"
The animator-activists behind the celebrated Meatrix films are at it again, this time stumping for the "Yes on Prop. 2!" campaign, a ballot initiative in California that is seeking to ban the use of gestation crates for breeding sows, veal crates for calves, and battery cages for egg laying hens by 2015. While the passing of Prop. 2 will hardly result in the animal elation depicted in the video, the extremely modest improvements to the system that might result would nonetheless be a significant wake-up call for the industry. Let's do our part to insure that this video goes viral! Watch it and share it with friends and family!

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SEPTEMBER 20, 2008 4:00 PM

Farm Sanctuary President and Co-Founder to Speak at Calvin, Wed 9/24
Gene Baur is undoubtedly one of the most influential animal advocates in the United States. Since co-founding the renowned Farm Sanctuary in 1986, Gene has been in the trenches fighting for the dignity of farm animals--whether that means going toe-to-toe with industry PR people on Larry King Live, testifying in local, state, and federal hearings on animal welfare laws, sharing the good news with the New York Times, or rubbing shoulders with vegan celebs to raise awareness and capital for the cause. Imagine our surprise, then, when this animal compassion juggernaut called to express his interest in opening the Michigan leg of his book tour right here in Grand Rapids!

Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food
On Wednesday evening, September 24th, 2008 at 7:30 pm in Science Building 010 at Calvin College, the Students for Compassionate Living will host Gene Baur for a public lecture followed by a book signing. Please consider coming out to give Gene that unmistakable extraVEGANza! welcome and to grab your own signed copy of his new book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food. Don't miss this opportunity to meet and greet one of the great champions of our cause!

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JULY 28, 2008 1:27 PM

Vegan. For the People. For the Planet. For the Animals. It's that simple.
Nonviolence United, a nonprofit NGO out of Boulder, Colorado, has done the movement a great service with this excellent 12-minute video that details the variety of pressing reasons--human, animal, and environmental--for choosing a vegan lifestyle. Instead of relying on the tired tactics of doom, gloom, shame, blame and gory images of suffering animals, the folks at NU have given us an inspiring vision of veganism as a smart, green, compassionate way to live well for ourselves, the earth, and our fellow creatures. The video embedded above is a self-contained 9-minute edit (drat, those YouTube length restrictions!), but the full version is well worth watching. Share it generously with family and friends! And don't forget to register your support with Nonviolence United for doing us all such a good turn with this positive, upbeat resource!

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JULY 14, 2008 9:13 AM

Spain Grants Legal Rights to Apes
Many thanks to my colleague Kevin Corcoran for spotting this fascinating opinion piece in the New York Times on the recent legislation in Spain of legal rights for apes. Adam Cohen, the author of the piece and an assistant editor for the Times who has contributed numerous articles on human rights, concludes the article with the controversial suggestion that increased attention to the rights of primates might pay dividends for the more humane treatment of human beings: "The Supreme Court recently ruled that states are not obliged to administer lethal injections in ways that avoid unnecessary risk that inmates will suffer great pain. If apes are given the right to humane treatment, it just might become harder to deny that same right to their human cousins."

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JUNE 2, 2008 11:27 PM

Joanna Lucas's "Letter From a Vegan World"
Vegans are often asked by curious friends and family members why they consider "humanely raised" animal products such as organic dairy, "rose" veal, and "free range" eggs to be morally objectionable. Joanna Lucas of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary outside of Denver, Colorado, has penned an eloquent and moving answer to this question in her Letter From a Vegan World.

Essential Reading for Vegans, Omnivores, and Everyone in Between
Taking as her foil the efforts of welfare organizations pushing for "humane" consumer alternatives to factory farmed animal products, Lucas explains why she believes that these efforts run counter to the true spirit of compassion for animals, arguing that vegan outreach and education must be the central focus of the movement.

The Faces of Organic Dairy, "Rose" Veal, and "Cage Free" Eggs
Lucas's letter begins with descriptions of what life is like for organic dairy cows, "rose" veal calves, and "cage free" hens and goes on to encourage vegans to stand firm in their abolitionist convictions. She even provides a link to a full color pdf of the letter that is ready to be printed and distributed in your very own grassroots outreach effort. Many thanks to my good friend Harold Brown of Farm Kind for calling Lucas's letter to my attention.

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MAY 31, 2008 10:46 AM

Recent Editorial Blasts Industrial Animal Production
"The so-called efficiency of industrial animal production is an illusion, made possible by cheap grain, cheap water and prisonlike confinement systems." So says an editorial published today in the New York Times under the scathing title "The Worst Way of Farming". Citing recent reports including the Pew Commission Study and The Union of Concerned Scientists' new paper, CAFOs Uncovered, the editorial board of the Times concludes that "animal husbandry has been turned into animal abuse"--"millions of animals are crowded together in inhumane conditions, causing significant environmental threats and unacceptable health risks for workers, their neighbors and all the rest of us." Three cheers for the Gray Lady! Be sure to send the links to your family and friends.

APRIL 30, 2008 10:20 PM

Prestigious Pew Commission Affirms California Ballot Initiative
The following is the text of an e-mail update from Paul Shapiro, director of the factory farming campaign at The Humane Society of the United States.

"The prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production just concluded its 2.5-year study of American animal agriculture with unanimous findings from its 15 members. The Commission was chaired by former Kansas governor John Carlin and included, among others, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, former Dean of the Univ. of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Michael Blackwell, and more.

The panel concluded that factory farms pose unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and animal welfare. It also issued a series of recommendations, including a phase-out of battery cages, gestation crates, veal crates, foie gras, and tail-docking of dairy cows, along with inclusion of poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. The Commission even put out a press release in which it cites the pending California anti-cruelty ballot measure as one of "the types of modest animal welfare public policy improvements that the Commissioners recommend implementing."

The Washington Post published a great story on page A2 today entitled, "Report Targets Cost of Factory Farming." USA Today's story begins, "The way America produces meat, milk and eggs is unsustainable, creates significant risks to public health from antibiotic resistance and disease, damages the environment and unnecessarily harms animals, a report released Tuesday says." The Wall Street Journal's coverage focuses both on the problems caused by factory farming and the Commission's conclusion that the "agriculture industry is exerting 'significant influence' on academic research." And the Des Moines Register's article highlights the fact that the Commission is accusing "some livestock interests of trying to disrupt a wide-ranging study of the industry by threatening to yank financing for scientists and universities."

Both the Associated Press and Reuters have national stories on it, as well.

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APRIL 26, 2008 9:46 AM

Taking Veganism to Church
As a Mennonite youngster, I worked the church potluck circuit with reckless abandon--especially the dessert table. Back then, it would have been difficult to imagine a church potluck without animal products. But as the evidence mounts that industrial livestock production has serious repercussions for creation, more and more faith communities are taking notice of the moral and spiritual significance of eating. As a case in point, Splinters and I are members of a small group at Sherman Street CRC that recently put on a multi-cultural, intergenerational vegan potluck with over 40 parishioners and friends.

Enchiladas, Lasagna, and Dahl, Oh My!
I brought our favorite Seitan Enchiladas with Salsa Verde (from Ann Gentry's spectacular Real Food Daily Cookbook) along with a side of refried black beans.

Others prepared vegan lasagna, Indian dahl, African groundnut stew, fresh salads and fruits, and a variety of other amazing offerings. Suffice it to say that no one went away hungry, least of all those who spent any time near the sweet table, which boasted vegan coconutty cookies (from Wealthy Street Bakery), "cockeyed" chocolate cake with coconut frosting, chocolate banana cupcakes with peanut butter creme frosting (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World), and a transcendent ginger coconut macadamia carrot cake that obliterated my previous conception of the standard for vegan desserts.

Rediscovering the Intersection of Food and Faith
Though a lot of vegans have given up on seeing the church as a potential ally in the struggle for justice for all God's creatures, there is reason to be hopeful. As Christine Gutleben of the Humane Society of the United States points out in a recent editorial in the New York Times, the principles of compassion, mercy, and justice for animals are built into our faith traditions, just waiting for visionary people of faith to reawaken the church to their significance for our everyday lives. For more information on the resurgence of religious interest in these matters and links to resources that can help you communicate the message of compassion for animals in your own church community, check out the Animals and Religion initiative of the Humane Society of the United States.

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MARCH 21, 2008 1:01 AM

Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation
As many of you know, I spent the summer writing a booklet on the intersection of animal ethics and faith issues (from a Christian perspective) for the Humane Society of the United States. The result of this endeavor is finally available online and you can check it out here. The limited edition version of the publication (which is not yet featured on the website) includes 14 amazing collages by our very own Adam Wolpa. We hope to have a pdf of the limited edition up soon, but until then you can check out Wolpa's collages here.

Something for Everyone
While the argument developed in this booklet is grounded primarily in broadly Christian assumptions, my hope is that there may still be some strategic value in the booklet for people who do not share these assumptions. After all, many non-Christians who care about the plight of animals still have a vested interest in being able to appeal to Christian audiences in a language that such audiences can understand and appreciate. Moreover, there are certain empirical facts about the fallout of our dependence on industrial animal agriculture that all of us have a vested interest in knowing, regardless of our diverse religious identities. Pages 23-36 focus specifically on these empirical issues, so if you're allergic to religious discourse but still interested in the general topic, you can skip straight to this section of the booklet for a succinct overview (with recourse to the latest scientific research) of the hidden human, animal, and environmental consequences of the traditional American diet.

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MARCH 11, 2008 6:23 PM

Excellent documentary about climate change, world hunger, creation care, and non-human animals, all from a Jewish perspective. Also check out the review by The Humane Society Animals and Religion here.

JANUARY 27, 2008 9:17 PM

A New Lecture Series at Calvin College is in the News!
Wake Up Weekend participants may have had the pleasure of attending Dr. Stephen H. Webb's inaugural address of Calvin's new Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture Series. Those who missed the lecture can read all about it in this article from yesterday's Grand Rapids Press. With an article on a recent vegan wedding reception at the Amway Grand earlier in the week, our hometown paper is doing their part to get the plight of farmed animals in the news. Take a minute to let them know that you appreciate their coverage of these stories and that you'd like to see more on related topics!

DECEMBER 19, 2007 3:49 PM

Bob Torres on "The Political Economy of Animal Rights"
The Vegan Freak is at it again. In his new book Making A Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights, Bob Torres wields an explosive battery of Marxist and anarchist artillery to level a withering critique of both the capitalism that drives animal exploitation and the conflicted philosophy of animal rights activism that he claims unwittingly entrenches this exploitation. For those who have read previous posts on the recent conflicts between Reformist and Abolitionist approaches to animal advocacy, the alleged inconsistencies in the "New Welfarist" approaches that Torres is criticizing will ring familiar.

The Uninterrogated Assumptions of "New Welfarism"
Says Torres: "Because some new welfarists imagine that talking about human hierarchy over animals and the moral wrong of all animal exploitation is too onerously radical and difficult for the average person to understand, let alone accept, we end up with campaigns, strategies, and tactics that do little more than refocus the efforts of industry to produce products that "caring, ethical" consumers find pleasing. We also end up with so-called "reforms" that even animal rights organizations argue make animal exploitation more profitable. Some activists refer to these reforms as "victories," and they are victories, in a sense: they are victories for the industry." (100) Among the organizations targeted here are PETA and The Humane Society of the United States, groups that, according to Torres, do not even engage, much less challenge, the foundational assumptions upon which the exploitative practices of animal use industries ultimately rest, namely the property status of animals (which paves the way for their commodification), and underlying that, the traditionally accepted hierarchy of human beings over animals.

Veganism as a Baseline
Entitled "You Cannot Buy the Revolution," the final chapter of this provocative read provides an intriguing but somewhat scant set of recommendations for moving forward. First and foremost, Torres maintains, veganism "must be a baseline for the animal rights movement. It is the daily, lived expression of abolition in one's life, and a rejection of the logic of speciesism." As Torres sees it, "vegan education should form the basis of our outreach and activism; in our interactions with people outside the movement, we should discuss why veganism is a viable option. This works in direct contrast to the current animal rights discourse, which promotes "happy meat," "humanely" raised eggs, and organic milk. All of these products rely on exploitation and maintain the relations that will continue to exploit. If we want to eradicate exploitation, we must begin by ending it in our own lives, and encouraging others to do the same." (145) Beyond adopting veganism, Torres recommends that we eschew large, beaurocratic institutions like PETA and HSUS in favor of marshaling the power of the internet and working in "consensus-based affinity groups"--smaller, more flexible collectives of like-minded people that may serve as "models of non-exploitative, non-hierarchical social relationships that highlight mutual aid and conviviality, while also respecting individuality." (148) Sounds a bit like ExtraVEGANza!. Who knew we were a consensus-based affinity group? SNAP!

At Home With Bob Torres
Controversial as its thesis may be, Making A Killing is an intriguing, challenging, and inspiring read, at least in part because of the uniqueness of Torres's voice. As a scholar-activist with a Ph.D. in sociology from Cornell University and a professorship at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, he brings pedagogy and agitation into an unsettling, but potentially invigorating, confluence. Read all about his personal and professional exploits at

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NOVEMBER 15, 2007 7:53 PM

Are Specieism and Animal Liberation Compatible?
This remarkable new book by Tzachi Zamir maintains that, contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to argue to the abolition of many "animal use" industries from "speciesist" premises. Here's a brief description of Zamir's argument from the book's promo page at Princeton University Press:

"Many people think that animal liberation would require a fundamental transformation of basic beliefs. We would have to give up "speciesism" and start viewing animals as our equals, with rights and moral status. And we would have to apply these beliefs in an all-or-nothing way. But in Ethics and the Beast, Tzachi Zamir makes the radical argument that animal liberation doesn't require such radical arguments--and that liberation could be accomplished in a flexible and pragmatic way. By making a case for liberation that is based primarily on common moral intuitions and beliefs, and that therefore could attract wide understanding and support, Zamir attempts to change the terms of the liberation debate.

Without defending it, Ethics and the Beast claims that speciesism is fully compatible with liberation. Even if we believe that we should favor humans when there is a pressing human need at stake, Zamir argues, that does not mean that we should allow marginal human interests to trump the life-or-death interests of animals. As minimalist as it sounds, this position generates a robust liberation program, including commitments not to eat animals, subject them to factory farming, or use them in medical research. Zamir also applies his arguments to some questions that tend to be overlooked in the liberation debate, such as whether using animals can be distinguished from exploiting them, whether liberationists should be moral vegetarians or vegans, and whether using animals for therapeutic purposes is morally blameless."

AUGUST 19, 2007 11:11 AM

A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith
Though Animal Liberation is often considered a "secular" phenomenon, the cause of compassion for animals is gaining ground among people of faith. These advances are happening because of the work of visionary individuals like Gracia Fay Ellwood, publisher of the Vegetarian Friends website, author of "Are Animals Our Neighbors?", and editor of The Peaceable Table, a Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith. Though Ellwood lives and works in California, she has connections to West Michigan as an alumna of Calvin College, from which she graduated in 1961 with a major in (what else?) Philosophy. If you find Christendom's general indifference to the plight of non-human animals alienating, then take a page out of Ellwood's playbook and BE THE CHANGE you'd like to see in the Church.

JUNE 18, 2007 11:08 AM

For "edu-tainment" animals, the cost of admission may be higher than you think.
Animal enterprises such as aquariums and zoos count on the public perception that their reasons for being are noble ones: education, conservation, and research that benefits the animals themselves. But is this scenario really plausible? The authors of this article challenge us to think before we patronize such establishments.

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MAY 30, 2007 3:18 PM

Carol J. Adams On The Sexual Politics of Meat
One of the most exciting aspects of veganism is the way in which it challenges one to think holistically about one's relationship to a wide variety of interconnected social justice concerns. While opponents frequently try to paint it as a myopic "one issue" cause, the reality is that veganism witnesses to the urgent need for social change not just in the ways that non-human animals are viewed and treated, but also in the ways that human beings are viewed and treated.

In her pioneering work on feminism, race, and vegetarianism, activist and social theorist Carol J. Adams is concerned, in particular, with articulating the structural and historical parallels between human and animal subjugation. Her guiding question, investigated at length in both The Sexual Politics of Meat and The Pornography of Meat, is that of how dominant culture succeeds in reducing "someone" (an irreplaceable, individual person or animal) into "something"-a consumable object or "mass term" in which all vestiges of the original "someone" are effaced.

Like many texts that question the domination of the status quo, Carol Adams' work is not exactly beach reading. But if you like a challenge, it might well change the way you look at bodies on the beach, be they those of scantily clad people basking in the sun or those of butchered "food" animals sizzling on the grill.

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MAY 30, 2007 11:33 AM

Need Another Reason to Boycott Factory Farmed Animal Products?
As if cruelty to animals, environmental degradation, and the exacerbation of numerous human health crises weren't enough, these new studies conducted by the World Society for the Protection of Animals suggest that industrial agriculture has troublesome implications for the lives of the world's poorest people. Read the full report entitled "Industrial Animal Agriculture: Part of the Poverty Problem" and share your knowledge with socially conscious family and friends!

FEBRUARY 17, 2007 7:15 AM

Here's a special trailer, made by the Humane Society of the US, for the new film "Amazing Grace."

FEBRUARY 17, 2007 7:15 AM

Here's a special trailer, made by the Humane Society of the US, for the new film "Amazing Grace":

Next Friday, you won't want to miss the true story of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a political activist who was not only a leading abolitionist but one of the founding figures of the animal protection movement. The film captures Wilberforce's determination to end the cruelty and suffering imposed on both humans and animals in his era, and it's an inspiring story of how one person can make a difference. I loved Amazing Grace and hope you'll see it on opening weekend, beginning February 23.

FEBRUARY 15, 2007 7:37 PM

What's the "religious perspective" on abortion? On capital punishment? On war? On eating animals? In particular, what do Christians think about those topics? What's the "Christian view" on these issues?

These questions are often asked, but honestly there really is no answer to them because the question is founded on a false assumption, namely that there typically is one, and only on, position that "religious people" take on issues.

But this is false. For just about any controversial moral or social issue (but probably not all of them . .), there is no one position that all, or even most, "religious people," including Christians, accept.

For example, some people think that "the Christian view" on abortion is that it's (always) wrong, but that's not correct: some Christians think it's wrong and others think it's not wrong and, with luck, they have some reasons to explain why they think what they do.

The same is true about ethics and animals questions. Many people say their religion allows them to eat animals. Others argue that if you take a closer look at the fundamental ideas of that religion, you find that that religion has resources that strongly condemn raising and killing to animals to eat them, wear them and even experiment on them.

So, there's the Christian Vegetarian Association, the Jewish Vegetarian Society, at least some pages about Islam and vegetarianism, and organizations and thinking based in many other religions (indeed, just about all of them). From each religion, there are people advocating for animals and all things veggie.

So, my suggestion is this: if one talks about religious views, one should get specific and avoid the too common false, blanket generalizations like those above.

DECEMBER 20, 2006 3:11 PM

From the UK's The Independent newspaper:

Don't follow the herd and give a cow for Christmas:
These gifts are not a good thing. They serve only to increase, not diminish, poverty

. . . Paying for farm animals to be gifted to impoverished communities in the developing world, notably Africa, has moved from novelty to omnipresent fashion. . . The message might bring comfort to the target audience, but such schemes, sadly, are not a good thing. They serve only to increase not diminish poverty. Why? Because farming animals is an inefficient, expensive and environmentally destructive way of producing food. All farmed animals require proper nourishment, large quantities of water, shelter from extremes of weather and veterinary care. Such resources are in critically short supply in much of Africa. . .

For sources for humane giving this holiday season, see Humane Charity Seal of Approval program:

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