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Sarah McMinn of The Sweet Life Takes the Anxiety Out of Plant-based Cooking!

Ever think to yourself: “I’d love to eat a greener diet, but it seems like such a daunting transition that would mean giving up all my favorite culinary comforts!” As tempting as that thought may be, those of us weeping into bowls of steamed cauliflower have never met Sarah McMinn! This Calvin College alumna turned pastry chef turned vegan Überblogger has the cure for what ails you, whether that’s double-chocolate pistachio donuts, asparagus and sun-dried tomato quiche, portobello sliders with caramelized onions, or any of the mouthwatering raw desserts featured in her new ebook, In the Raw: Small Indulgences from The Sweet Life (chocolate dipped coconut macaroons, anyone?). McMinn’s focus in her workshop on Saturday, April 26 at 1:30 pm will be to demystify vegan food in the three categories of meat, dairy, and eggs, sharing insider info on her favorite substitutes, demoing an incredible chickpea salad, and offering samples of an amazing cashew cheese that can be transformed into things like her legendary Buffalo Cheddar Cheese with Coconut Bacon recipe. Whether you’re starting from scratch with green eating or an expert in vegan cuisine, Sarah’s got the chops to blow your culinary mind!


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Economist Steven McMullen says the answer is “Yes”! 

In recent years, our ability to produce animal-based food has increased dramatically, but this increased efficiency has come as a result of decreased quality of life and shorter life-spans for the animals.  Similarly, industrial breeding of animals for pet stores and experimentation often results in very poor living conditions for animals in the breeding facilities. Should this animal welfare problem be blamed on farmers?  Are consumers to blame?  Or should we blame the capitalist system in which people operate? McMullen argues that both farmers and consumers are limited in their ability to improve the lives of these animals because of the nature of the market economy in which animal lives are traded. Moreover, it is precisely the elements of the market economy that make it so successful that result in poor outcomes for animals in the system. According to McMullen, understanding the degree to which capitalism is the problem allows us to think clearly about what reforms are necessary really to improve the lives of animals. Join us on Saturday, April 26, at 3:00 pm for a sneak peek at this ground-breaking new research in economically-informed animal studies, soon to be a book in the Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series.



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HSUS’s Michigan Senior State Director Is On the Job For Our Lupine Friends!

Jill Fritz knows a little something about animal protection in northern exposures. Previously the state director in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Fritz now serves as Senior State Director for the Humane Society of the United States in Michigan, where she has played a key role in the passage of farm animal protection legislation, banning the confinement systems of battery cages, veal crates, and gestation crates on factory farms. Among her latest challenges in the Mitten State is the highly-publicized battle to keep Michigan wolves protected from efforts to end a five-decade hunting ban on this species that has only just recently come off the endangered list. Join the pack on Friday, April 25, at 3:00 pm to find out more about how you can help!


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 Our Kitchen Table serves up food justice and a second helping of Bryant Terry!

When the big guns come to town, sometimes you’ve got to add that second show to satisfy the people. Our Kitchen Table and Calvin College have teamed up to do just that, offering an exclusive opportunity to grub with Bryant Terry and talk about the future of food justice in our fair city on Wednesday, April 23, at 6:00 pm. You’re welcome, Grand Rapids! This rare opportunity is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so pre-register today to secure your place at the table! Then come back out on Thursday night for second helpings of Bryant’s food and wisdom at the Calvin College Chapel. 



Colley and Wolpa on the Animal Artifact as Ideological Transmission Device

We’ve all seen wince-inducing racist and sexist artifacts that take our breath away and make us wonder how a civilized world could have ever suborned such ignorance and malice. From early-twentieth century Aunt Jemima salt shakers to Nazi-era money-hoarding “shylock” ashtrays to mid-century advertisements that portray women as kitchen and bedroom props, privileged human beings have long used mass-produced objects and images as a means of storing and transmitting ideological information about “othered” groups to consumer culture at large. These racist and sexist ideologies are often propagated and entrenched through the use of objects or images that seek to reduce the othered group in question to the status of animals, posturing black and brown people as bestial, Jewish people as rats or parasites, and women as meat. By portraying human beings as animal-like, these objects and images seek to make the groups in question easier to subjugate, exterminate, or consume.

Putting it all together

What is taken for granted here is that animals are fundamentally and unproblematically at our behest–we can put them to work for us, kill them at will, and use them for pleasure without the slightest compunction. Working at the intersection of racism, sexism, and speciesism, Brett Colley and Adam Wolpa have assembled a collection of artifacts that is designed to challenge this uninterrogated assumption. By foregrounding the all-too-often hidden humor, absurdity, and horror of our cultural and commercial inheritance of the view that animals are merely expendable, exploitable objects, the artists transport us in the present to a future in which our abject, presumptive, and tawdry objectifications of animals are on display in a new and troubling light (as each artifact label discloses) as “objects for the storage and transmission of a speciesist ideology.” Come and test yourself. What you do not see at first glance may be even more telling than what you do.



Get your research on so you’re prepared for that meet and greet on April 24!

In just 16 days, you’ll be hanging out with Bryant Terry. And since it’s always good hospitality to know a little something about your honored guests, it’s time to read up on the books that influenced Afro-Vegan so you can drop those casual references to the work of Robin D.G. Kelly and your knowledge about the unique treatments of millet in Super Natural Cooking. While you’re getting your very own copy of Afro-Vegan (AVAILABLE TODAY!!!) signed, for instance, instead of making small talk about the weather and looking like a big dummy, you can say something extra-sophisticated like “Your handwriting reminds me of a personal note I received from Edna Lewis that I use as a bookmark in my dog-eared copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which is only ever shelved when I’m engrossed in my annual The Bluest Eye read-a-thon, you know?” Smooooooth!


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You’re probably wondering, “Where have I seen this guy before?”.

It might have been on CNN. Or it could have been that spot on CNN. Or maybe it was that thing on CNN. I know! It was that video of his last appearance at Calvin College, an institution he holds in such high esteem that he named his new cat after us! In any case, there is no shortage of opportunities to see Paul Shapiro making headlines, and he’s been making them for nearly two decades. Since founding Compassion Over Killing as a high school student in 1995, Shapiro has been working relentlessly to make the world a better place for animals, most recently as the Vice President for Farm Animal Protection at The Humane Society of the United States, the world’s largest and most favorably expert-rated animal welfare non-profit organization. You’d think a person this accomplished would be inaccessible, but after ten minutes of conversation with Paul, you’ll feel like you’ve known him for years. Join us for his presentation on the progress afoot in contemporary animal advocacy and make a new, old friend in the movement!