I worry about the products I buy and whether they are cruelty-free. Do celebrities, especially the animal-loving ones, pay attention to what they have their staff buy for them? First, I wanted to find out who some of these beautiful vegan celebrities might be; I know many beautiful vegans who aren’t famous, but the world seems to want celebrity to give something credibility. So here are some famous, beautiful vegans. (Note: My definition of beauty includes inner qualities, not just the outer ones.)
So how do they maintain this beauty and stick to their vegan ideals? There are cruelty-free products out there; one just has to look. Look for symbols from organizations like the Leaping Bunny or get the Cruelty Cutter app from the Beagle Freedom Project. With the app, you can scan the barcode on a product and find out whether it is cruelty free before you purchase.
This led me to the thought of how I could make my own, since DIY is always more fun than buying something. I often have a bowl of okara, the ground soy beans left from making soy milk (see The milk of human kindness (is non-dairy) in the refrigerator, and I’ve been trying to find ways to utilize it. I sometimes add it to soups and stews and even baked goods as a protein boost.
In the directions that came with the soy milk maker, there is a recipe for an okara facial mask. The recipe uses honey, which is not a vegan product. I gave it a try, mixing the okara with some agave as a binder instead of honey, and a little Vitamin E oil in place of the various essential oils recommended, since I didn’t have any of those. It actually did make my skin feel soft and smooth after I rinsed it off.
What are some other simple, do at home (with things you probably already have) vegan beauty recipes? One good source is the DIY Home page of the blog Vegans Have Superpowers. I am not volunteeering to do the banana facial mask; just sayin’. If you have things at home like apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, oats, sea salt, baking soda, olive oil, and essential oils, among others, you can make your own skin-care and hair-care products.
The editor of The Vegan Beauty Review, Sunny Subramanian, has a book with co-author Chrystle Fiedler, The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty. I just ordered my copy.
Don’t want to make your own products but want to try some fun and different products from a variety of cruelty-free manufacturers? You can subscribe to the monthly Petit Vour cruelty-free/vegan PV Beauty Box.
Nerd that I am, I also find smart people really sexy. You think being vegan is stupid? Just ask these people.
And then there’s me, kinda cute, kinda smart, and kinda silly, but not doing too badly at age 55. I’ll never be a star, but I do what I can to lead an ethical and compassionate life, and that’s a beautiful thing.
You’ve been to that meeting. You know. THAT meeting. The one where someone is standing at the front of the too hot/too cold/overcrowded/uncomfortable room reading a PowerPoint to the audience of zombies.
You’ve made your shopping list. You’ve doodled so much you are out of ink or an empty millimeter of blank paper. You might have drifted off and checked that you’re not drooling. You wish you’d paid attention to that guy who told you how to sleep with your eyes open. You drank the Kool-Aid, I mean coffee, from the brown box of Peet’s coffee. (Note to leaders: The Coffee won’t make us love you or the meeting but please keep having it brought to the meetings anyway.) You’ve collected all of the words on your Buzzword Bingo card.
Even though you are a peaceful and compassionate person, you’ve devised some horrific endings for the person up front droning on at that PowerPoint. Or for yourself.
If this were an episode of The Office, it would be funny.
But this is real life, and you have better things to do with your precious time on this planet. As you are finally released and stumble into the hallway, you and your colleagues all whisper to each other about what a waste of time that was as NOTHING EVER CHANGES anyway.
There is hope! Meetings can be seriously fun and productive. Just ask the people who practice Liberating Structures. I went to a 2-day workshop, the Bay Area Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop, held in Reidenbach Hall at the First Congregational Church of Oakland.
It was my first exposure to Liberating Structures (LS), but I had heard of one of the structures, Open Space Technology, and liked the sound of it so I thought, why not?
Plus I am at the end of another semester in my doctoral program, taking an awesome class in Humanistic Foundations of Organizational Development (see Life is Our Classroom). This seemed to fit right in, empowering groups to determine their purpose and direction.
LS co-developers Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz were there, joined by Fisher Qua. They don’t call themselves facilitators, so I will just call them Keith, Henri, and Fisher. Everyone was using the American pronunciation Henry but I prefer the French:
So as not to be the person reading the PowerPoint, I am not going to go through the 2 days structure by structure as we learned about and practiced them. If you are really interested, check out Keith and Henri’s book, The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash a Culture of Innovation.
Instead, I’ll highlight a few of my favorites. My absolute favorite was the Mad Tea Party, which isn’t on the LS matchmaker menu yet, but is a “structure in development”.
Our Mad Tea was subtitled A Nod to Bob Dylan; our open sentences we completed in rapid fire succession in our revolving circles of tea party pairs were based on the lyrics to Bob Dylan songs.
Well, thanks to a certain ex-husband, I know a lot more about Bob Dylan and lyrics to Bob Dylan songs than you might think. So that made it even more fun. I felt like I was in on a joke, which doesn’t happen very often. I kept waiting for the open sentence to be something like:
“Little red wagon, little red bike, I ain’t no monkey but I know____”. (From Buckets of Rain, Blood on the Tracks album, 1975).
Some of the ones we were given included:
“All I really want to do is___”
“I’m all tangled up in___”
“If I gotta serve somebody, I’m gonna serve___”
“Beyond the horizon I see___”
It was all very rapid moving, which got my energy up. I am seriously an introvert. Most of those in the room who identified as introverts said they did not enjoy this activity. As a true introvert, I didn’t speak up about my experience, but I had a blast! I think the reason I liked it was I didn’t have to spend more than about 60 seconds with any one person; no small talk, just finish the sentence, move on down the circle. Maybe if I ever end up single again I’ll try speed dating!
I did love Open Space Technology. The key is having enough people in the group who are willing to put their topics up in the Marketplace. We did 4 rounds, ranging from 30 to 60 minutes. For each round, I had about 6 sessions to choose from.
The four I picked were:
-Bringing Art and Movement in LIberating Structures
-Liberating Structures in the Classroom
-Surfing Sideways (meaning when things don’t go the way you think they will)
-LS at Your Worst, or LS with Yourself (for personal and family challenges)
You can tell it’s a seriously fun time when everyone leaves their notebooks, coffee, and sometimes even their phones at their chairs to jump in hands on, brain fully engaged.
Me being me, a bonus of this expedition was exploring the old church during lunch and breaks. I don’t go to church, but there’s something cool about church buildings, especially old, musty ones.
I managed to sneak into the church kitchen (not hard, the door was wide open just off Reidenbach Hall). I want to cook there! (Vegan spaghetti dinner for 100, no problem!)
I also got to reconnect with Saybrook University colleague Jim Best, a local host for the Bay Area LIberating Structures group. He ran a Shift and Share session on using LS in virtual sessions, a reality of life.
There were times I felt a bit out of my element, but all of the other participants were warm and welcoming and eager to share and listen. The big question now for me: how do the people who need to be immersed in LS, the Michael Scotts and the PowerPoint readers, get there?
On a serious note, I’d like to end by pointing out that the church is collecting donations of items for the surviving victims and families of the Ghost Ship fire. Please find a way to help. Look for a reputable disaster relief fund or group and do what you can.
“Let’s go out there and do a f*** ton of good!” was the closing sentence of Will MacAskill at the Effective Altruism Global 2016 conference held at UC Berkeley August 5th through 7th this year. Professor MacAskill is the youngest tenured professor of philosophy in the world (yes, in the world, at age 29) and is the co-founder of Giving What We Can, author of Doing Good Better, and a major voice in the Effective Altruism movement. As one might hope at a conference of altruists, the book was free!
I only heard about the conference and the movement itself the day before the conference, when I met Tobias Leenaert, The Vegan Strategist, when I went to a talk he gave at the newly opened Berkeley Animal Rights Center.
One online application submitted and there I was, at the Effective Global 2016 conference with about 1,000 other altruists.
After making my way through registration, and grabbing a coffee (altruists need coffee too!), I went to my first session, How to Change Your Mind, presented by Miya Perry, Head of Training for the Oakland start-up Paradigm Academy. We learned about changing our behaviors by digging deep into our System 1 and System 2 beliefs (I found this description helpful).
Next up: Cooperative Conversations, led by Tsvi Benson-Tilsen, formerly of the UC Berkeley Math Department and now at the University of Chicago. Conversation is more complicated than you think. We all operate from different world models of knowns, “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”, and our models may or may not overlap.
Et voilà, it was time to check out dinner! Being altruistic can work up an appetite. The food was delicious and predominantly vegan, with a couple of vegetarian alternatives for those who must have cheese (I understand, I really do). Vegan as the default was such a great way to go! Thank you, Centre for Effective Altruism, for that decision as well as the compostable bamboo plates and forks.
And of course, you know I wouldn’t leave out the all important dessert!
Saturday started with the keynote talk, The Past, Present, and Future of Effective Altruism, by Will MacAskill and Giving What We Can co-founder Toby Ord. (Note: a side benefit was getting to hear all of the wonderful accents and languages from this international community. Will is Scottish and Toby is Australian, though both are now at Oxford in England.)
Toby presented about the past, going through the history of ideas, while Will spoke about the present expansions in the EA literature, EA groups, and outreach.
Tired yet? It’s early still! Let’s grab a coffee and keep moving.
Away we go, to The Future of EA for Animals, presented by Jacy Reese from Animal Charity Evaluators. It was a quite lively discussion about the most effective ways to help animals
Time for lunch. The lunch buffet was set up on the plaza in front of Zellerbach Hall. In addition to good food, lots of small groups formed to continue the conversations that the various sessions (of which I went to only a handful) so far had triggered.
While a nap might have been a good thing about now, I soldiered on to Are Scientists Responsible Enough?, a talk given from the UK via the magic of Skype by astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees for the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks. As Lord Rees says (paraphrasing), because of the huge implications of the possible actions by a few people, we need more conerned and socially engaged scientists. As he said, “the global village has its village idiot with a global range”. In the US, his book is sold under the title Our Final Hour.
Back to my favorite topic–animals–with Irene Pepperberg from Harvard, talking on Avian Cognition and Consciousness: The Gray Parrot and Its Implications for Animal Welfare. We share this world with many other creatures and we are all interconnected. Empathy is called for, and we are only just finding out how much we don’t know about non-human animal intelligence.
Next, I went to a workshop on how to prioritize and compare different interventions for helping non-human animals, run by Lewis Bollard from Open Philanthropy Project.
Still holding up okay? Me too!
If we want to make the world a better place, of course, humans are a big part of the picture. The next session I chose was The End of Poverty, a lofty goal.
Utilitarian philsopher Peter Singer, author of many influential books (Animal Liberation, Darwinian Left, and, relevent to this presentation, The Life You Can Save: How to Play Your Part in Ending World Poverty) was able to participate in a question and answer session with the audience through Skype.
His ending message: don’t think in terms of sacrifice but of fulfillment in your efforts to make the world a better place. As the saying goes, the life you save may be your own.
This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rajesh Mirchandani from the Center for Global Development.
When evaluating possible interventions, some of the things to consider: scale, evidence/data, incentives, accountability, and transparency.
Catch your breath, and now we move on the day 3, which I started with a round of 3 20-minute talks. These were in the Senate Chambers for the Associated Students and Graduate assembly at UC Berkeley, on the 5th floor of Eshleman Hall. Very spiffy, and great views.
First up, Tobias Leenaert on Helping Animals with Technology or Morality? It takes a lot of motivation to get people to change their habits for ethical reasons. Maybe the vegan movement should focus on getting people to eat meat alternatives as they become more readily available (just try them, they’re [mostly] delicious!), and then their attitudes toward animals will shift as a result. In other words, instead of trying to change people’s beliefs to change their behavior, change their behavior and the attitude shift will follow. I will say that I am creeped out by lab meat, aka, clean meat, cultured meat, and tissue-engineered meat. But I am not a meat lover and my attitude is already with the animals!
Tobias was followed by Adriano Mannino of Effective Altruism Foundation on Affecting the Far Future with the Animal Cause. The foundation is an anti-speciesist think tank and project incubator headquartered in Germany. His point, if I understood correctly, is that people who value the lives of animals and want to prevent animal suffering are of a mind-set that also predisposes them to take on other causes and value all things living, human, non-human animals, plants, the planet, and that we can build toward a better future for all utilizing those values.
Finally, the round of speakers ended with nanotechnologist and futurist Christine Peterson, co-founder of Foresight Institute on Upstream Altruism: Applying EA Principles to Early-Stage Action.
My favorite bit was the idea of “hit and run” altruism, which could be equated to random acts of kindness. Nanotechnology means nothing to me, kindness does.
We aren’t done with lab-grown meat yet! Back to Zellerbach Hall for a panel discussion, Rethinking Meat and the End of Factory Farming, moderated by Claire Zabel with Open Philanthropy.
I met Allison Smith again at the workshop on interventions, led by Allsion and Jacy from Animal Charity Evaluators.
I promise this is the last on lab-grown meat; panelists Uma Valeti of Memphis Meats, Oliver Zahn of Impossible Foods, Tim Geistlinger from Muufri, and Isha Datar from New Harvest answered audience questions about technology, nutrition, and the notion of cellular agriculture. I’m still sticking with plant-based, thanks.
We’re almost done! Yes, I’m getting tired too.
I couldn’t leave without going to the talk by Cass Sunstein, who I know as the editor of texts I’ve used in animal protection classes in my humane education program. He has other claims to fame: Harvard Law professor, legal scholar, Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2012, and author of many books, including The World According to Star Wars (surprised by that one?!).
Professor Sunstein’s talk was titled From Behavioral Economics to Public Policy. Don’t let the title scare you. Many Star Wars references were sprinkled throughout (I won’t pretend to have understood most of them).
It was a very interesting talk on social meaning and concepts like using nudges to get people to do good things. For example, at the Amsterdam International Airport, flies painted in the urinals nudge men to aim at a spot where pee doesn’t overflow onto the floors. These have resulted in 44% less “spillage” in the men’s bathrooms at the airport. Don’t ask me how it was measured. Or who had to measure it.
And now to the closing remarks!
A gathering on stage of the staff of the Centre for Effective Altruism who made the conference happen, the awesome volunteers, and a big thank you to them and to all of us for attending and spreading the ideals of effective altruism.
And proving that we are also optimists, all of us went outside to gather for a group photo, I haven’t seen the final result, but here we are trying to squeeze together in front of Sproul Hall.
I’d like to end this with one last thought. The weekend before this, I attended the World Vegan Summit 2016 in the same location. I thought I would have a lot to write about, but I had an uncomfortable feeling the whole time (compounded by food poisoning; gotta wash those fruits and veggies and use clean hands, food service people!). It was an amazing opportunity to hear Professor Gary Francione, a divisive but forceful leader in the animal rights movement, and I learned alot. But there was a vibe of “our way is the only way” that doesn’t sit well with me. I am much more interested in open-minded thought and discussions.
(Note: This is an assignment for HUED 630 Human Rights at Valparaiso University.)
The saying “women hold up half the sky” is often attributed to Mao Zedong. Whatever else might be said about the Chinese Communist Revolution, Mao did push for the abolishment of child marriage, prostitution, and concubinage as well as getting women into the workforce and appointed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. This is according to authors Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, in their book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009, Vintage Books).
Other sources refer to the ancient Chinese proverb “Women hold up half the sky, but it’s the heavier half” (Kelly Osterhaler, 2009) and note that it’s been attributed to Confucius as well as to Mao Zedong. Whatever the source, the oppression of women and girls continues to be one of the world’s major humanitarian issues.
WuDunn and Kristoff are the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. WuDunn is also the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Their book, PBS documentary series (2012), and Half the Sky Movement: The Game (no longer available, but you can still watch the trailer here and check out other social impact games at Games for Change) focus on sex trafficking, maternal mortality, sexual violence, microfinance, and girls’ education.
Heavy subjects, yes, but also subjects we can work to make changes toward and improve the lives of everyone across the globe. Kristoff and WuDunn note on page xxii in the introduction to the book, “We hope to recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts. That is the process underway–not a drama of victimization but of empowerment, the kind that transforms bubbly teenage girls from brothel slaves into successful business women.” They also offer practical ideas for way we can all help. The last two chapters of the book are What You Can Do and Four Steps You Can Take in the Next Ten Minutes. I think we can all spare ten minutes! You can also follow the lives of the women featured in the documentary series on the Half the Sky website. Women such as Rebecca Lolosoli in Kenya
and Duyen, Phung, and Nhi as they continue their education in Vietnam.
In 2014, WuDunn and Kristoff published A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity (Knopf Doubleday), which begins with another quote:
“Hope is like a path in the countryside. Originally, there is nothing – but as people walk this way again and again, a path appears.”
—Lu Xun, Chinese essayist, 1921
This was also made into a PBS series, in 2015. See the trailer here. The United States is featured with other countries in this series, with episodes that include a survivor of sex trafficking in Nashville, breaking the cycle of poverty in West Virginia, and 2 organizations in Atlanta that combat domestic violence.
Find out about more about ways to help and to share your story at A Path Appears.
Should you doubt that any one person can do anything to spur change, I suggest the book Free the Children, by Craig Kielburger with Kevin Major (1998, Harper Perennial) and the website Free the Children. I bring up Craig Kielburger’s story for several reasons. First, to show that a motivated individual, no matter what age, can speak up and make a difference. Second, in this post focused on women’s rights and oppression I would argue that child abuse is closely aligned with abuse of women and that women’s and children’s rights are interconnected. Enslaved children include young girls who go on to be enslaved and abused women, and the sex trafficking of young girls is particularly of concern to anyone concerned with human rights.
Brothers Marc and Craig Kielburger are the founders of Free the Children and ME to WE. The Canadian humanitarians, activists, and social entrpreneurs began their work over 20 years ago to fight child labor and exploitation.Craig was 12 years old when he began, Marc was 17.
In the epilogue to his book, Craig cites the oft-quoted Gandhi, “We must be the change we want to see.” He follows this with “That change starts within each one of us. And ends only when all children are free to be children.”
(Note: This is for an assignment in Humane Education 640: Culture and Change at Valparaiso University.)
The Emperor Ashoka (died 232 BCE), third monarch of the Indian Mauryan Dynasty1, is quoted to have said: “No society can prosper if it aims at making things easier. Instead, it should aim at making people stronger.”
Ashoka statue, Kanaganahalli, Gulbarga, Karnataka, India (photo by Alene Devasia)2
In this spirit, Bill Drayton founded the organization Ashoka, in 1980, with the mission: “To support social entrepreneurs who are leading and collaborating with changemakers, in a team of teams model that addresses the fluidity of a rapidly evolving society. Ashoka believes that anyone can learn and apply the critical skills of empathy, team work, leadership and changemaking to be successful in the modern world. “3
Ashoka is a global network with Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries. Fellows are divided into the six broad categories of
Drayton, an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Carter Administration in the 1970s, began searching for people to bring about change in areas he saw as critical human needs.
As described in a 1998 profile in The Atlantic, Ashoka “looks for people who will become references in their field, who will set or change patterns at the national level or, in the case of a small country, at a larger regional level. Ashoka searches for people who, in Drayton’s words, will leave their “scratch on history.” When the foundation finds a bona fide social entrepreneur, it elects him or her to a fellowship, provides financial and professional support to help launch the fellow’s idea, and connects the fellow with other social entrepreneurs working on similar problems. Like a venture-capital group, Ashoka seeks high yields from modest, well-targeted investments. It seeks returns not in profits but in advances in education, environmental protection, rural development, poverty alleviation, human rights, health care, care for the disabled, care for children at risk, and other fields.”4
If you don’t meet the stringent criteria or no one has had the sense to nominate you as a Fellow, you can volunteer with Ashoka through its Everyone a ChangemakerTM program.
What makes a successful social entrepreneur? According to Adnan Mahmud, founder and CEO of LiveStories and Co-Founder of the non-profit organization Jolkona, which works with students and young adults to build a new generation of philanthropists, “successful social entrepreneurs lead by example and have fun at the same time” (i.e., “love what you do”). 5
How do social enterprise ideas differ from traditional business ones?
“Social enterprise ideas, unlike conventional business ideas, typically result from a desire to solve a social need; similar to how many non-profit and charity organizations find their beginning. Traditional business ideas can also come from identifying a social need. But, the difference between a social enterprise idea and a traditional business idea is the motivation of the entrepreneur. The primary motivation for a traditional entrepreneur is more-often-than-not a desire to make money; a social entrepreneur is driven more by a passion to solve a social problem, and only chooses to use business as a mechanism to solve these problems.”6
One successful example was begun more than 60 years ago by Pennsylvania Mennonite Edna Ruth Byler (1904-1976), who on a trip in 1946 to Puerto Rico was struck by the poverty she witnessed. She believed market opportunities in North America would provide economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries. She started by selling handcrafted items out of the trunk of her car, and eventually the fair trade organization Ten Thousand Villages was established.7
One of the most famous examples (and famous founders) of a social enterprise is the company Newman’s Own, founded by the late actor Paul Newman in 1982. All royalties and profits from the sales of its food products go to the Newman’s Own Foundation, which has granted over $450 million to thousands of charities.8
You can also eat well for a good cause by supporting social enterprise restaurants and cafes, many of which provide job training and skills for people with barriers to employments as well as raising money to support social missions. An example in the Bay Area is the Delancey Street Restaurant on The Embarcadero at Brannan. The Delancey Restaurant opened in 1991 and was built by the Delancey Street Foundation’s residents, former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless, and others in need of help to live in mainstream society.9
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that I also found examples of animal-minded social enterprises. Twelve of these companies were profiled by Trend Hunter in 2013.10
My particular favorite is Rescue Chocolate (no surprise, again). Who can resist the slogan “the sweetest way to save a life”?11 The chocolates are all vegan and 100% of the net profits go to animal rescue organizations around the United States. They also incorporate educational messages in the names and labeling of the chocolates, with:
Peanut Butter Pit Bull (crispy peanut butter and chocolate, countering the negative public image of the pit bull-type dogs)
Pick Me! Pepper (sweet ’n spicy dark chocolate with peppers, highlighting the advantages of choosing pets from animal shelters instead of breeders or pet stores)
Foster-iffic Peppermint (dark chocolate with peppermint, highlighting the need for people to provide foster care for shelter animals as they await their forever homes)
The Fix (plain 66%, highlighting the importance of spay and neuter)
Mission Feral Fig (fig, cranberry, almond, and spices, highlighting the humane solution for feral cats, TNR)
Fakin’ Bacon (smoky, sweet and salty, a salute to farm animal sanctuaries and compassionate gourmands)
Forever Mocha (hazelnut praline and coffee, highlighting ways to help people make and honor a lifetime commitment to their pets)