The Nutmeg Cookery in Hartford, Connecticut

The Nutmeg Cookery in Hartford, Connecticut

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Hartford for Voices for Animals Day at the State Capitol Building, organized by the ASPCA. Connecticut citizens gathered to speak with their individual legislators in support of prohibiting the sale of puppy-mill puppies in new pet stores (and phasing out sales in the sixteen pet stores that still have them). The day started with a welcoming breakfast and — wow — what scrumptious vegan goodies The Nutmeg Cookery had put together for us. A perfect start to the day while people mingled before the press conference and presentation. If you’re in the Hartford area, I hope you’ll keep in mind The Nutmeg Cookery if you’re looking to bring a little extra special vegan love into your home or office. Jenny and her husband mostly work as personal chefs but, as you can see, they are a dynamic duo for events, too. Voices for Animals Day and other “Lobby Day” Events If you have yet to participate in a Lobby Day event at your state capital, I highly encourage you to do so.  They are so uplifting — how inspiring and empowering when kids and adults come together for a few hours to lend their voices on behalf of the voiceless. For kids and adults alike, it also can be both fun and educational. Most of all, it’s incredibly rewarding to meet with your local representatives or their staff members in person. So how do you know when events like these are happening in your own community? Here’s one easy way: sign up for the ASPCA’s Advocacy Brigade. And, if you’re in...
Whale Watching, Cape Cod

Whale Watching, Cape Cod

During my travels, I’m always looking for ways to interact with animals — whether it’s by visiting a local animal sanctuary, hiking through the woods, or walking along the beach. When in Cape Cod, one is almost certain to feel the pull of the whale watching opportunities. I was just a young girl the first time I experienced the thrill of the whale watch, with my family during a a stay on the Cape. A little later in life, I would be privileged to receive a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to spend the better part of a summer researching and discussing with a select group the different aspects of Herman Melville’s work — Moby Dick, of course, a focal point of our work. The magnificent white whale. Mythic. Epic. And, just as in literature, sighting a whale is among the  most mesmerizing and humbling experiences in life. Responsible Whale Watching: WhaleSense.org We know too much about the horrors of Sea World or other similar entertainment parks to partake in those kinds of interactions. However, it’s also important to do a little homework before signing up for a whale watch. As always, the idea is that we want to observe wildlife without being disruptive; and whale-watching is largely a self-regulated industry with few laws looking out for the welfare of the mammals. I was happy, then, to discover Whale SENSE, an organization whose mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of the whales and other sea animals while allowing us to enjoy these commercial whale watches. Participating companies agree to: Stick to responsible whale watching...
Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

It was a special treat to visit Farm Sanctuary and participate in the annual Hoe Down weekend. Farm Sanctuary has been doing amazing work on behalf of farm animals for more than 25 years — rescuing animals who often have been left to die in stockyards, working to educate the public and promote the plant-based diet, and contributing to legal efforts on farm animals’ behalf. The hoe down is a celebration that brings advocates together to discuss what’s happening, celebrate recent milestones in animal rescue and protection, and spend time with the animals that call the sanctuary their home. What Came Before In addition to all the wonderful activities of the weekend, my husband Seth was honored with this year’s “Friend of Farm Animals” award for his work as producer of the short film What Came Before. The number of viewers is now in the millions, and the film is currently being translated into several languages. Over and over, we’re hearing from people that say this film was what made them decide to go vegan. WOW. While visiting the sanctuary this weekend, we were able to meet two of the three animals featured in the film — Fanny the dairy cow and Nikki the pig (and three of Nikki’s piglets!). If you haven’t watched the film yet, I encourage you to do so and please share: the stories of these three animals are so extraordinary, and they’re also a reminder that each animal has a story all her own. Turkey Time! Which brings me to to the highlight of all the highlights of the weekend: meeting Victoria, my little...
Beagle Freedom Project

Beagle Freedom Project

When I adopted my beagle Pushkin, during one of our initial meetings with the veterinarian at the Bideawee center, a nurse casually asked me: “Is that one of the beagles they rescued from the lab in Pennsylvania?” I never did confirm this possible backstory, but it stuck with me; eventually, having a beagle as a family member and the thought of other beagles in laboratories was what prompted me to oust all animal-tested products from my home. The sad reality is that beagles are the most popular breed for lab use, specifically because of their gentle and forgiving nature. Beagle Freedom Project was founded by Los Angeles attorney and animal advocate Shannon Keith. Its mission is rescuing and finding homes for beagles that have been used in laboratory research. And, just so you don’t confuse BFP with more radical groups — visions of laboratory break-ins dancing in your head — BFP works directly with laboratories, who often attempt to find homes for adoptable, healthy beagles once they’re no longer needed for research. Here’s a video of BFP’s most recent rescued beagles, from a lab in the Midwest:   Meeting Frederick & Douglass, Two Very Special Beagles During our most recent trip to Los Angeles, my husband and I had tons of fun catching up with friends Kezia Jauron and Gary Smith — otherwise known as the power couple behind the public relations agency Evolotus. Kezia and Gary have been amazing in helping us spread the word about Letters To Pushkin; business aside, they’re just two great people doing incredible things on behalf of animals. Among their many efforts, they...
My Husband’s Film for Farm Sanctuary

My Husband’s Film for Farm Sanctuary

Happy New Year! Perhaps you’ve already seen Farm Sanctuary’s new short film “What Came Before” starring actor/comedian Steve O. It just so happens that this film was produced and edited by my husband Seth. We’re so excited that people are watching and responding so positively. The stories of Nikki the pig, Symphony the chicken, and Fanny the cow are happy endings that can give us all hope as we move into 2013 and look towards another year of victories on behalf of animals everywhere. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I urge you to watch and share (note: some footage from undercover investigations that is difficult to watch). You also can catch Steve O on the Jane Velez-Mitchell show this Friday, January 4th, talking about the film.   Thank you to Farm Sanctuary, and to all the individuals and other organizations that contributed to the film and are helping animals every...
Volunteering at Best Friends Sanctuary

Volunteering at Best Friends Sanctuary

I was fortunate enough in September to spend some time volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.  The sanctuary serves as the headquarters for the 30 year-old organization Best Friends Animal Society, which launched the no-kill movement and facilitates adoptions and spay/neuter programs nationwide. In addition, BF works on initiatives related to puppy mills, pit bull/breed discrimination, and TNR for feral cat colonies. Nestled in Angel Canyon, the sanctuary is a slice of heaven where, at any given time, about 1700 animals are being cared for by the Best Friends staff. Although most of these animals are dogs and cats that are waiting for their forever homes, the sanctuary also takes in barnyard animals (horses, goats), pigs, bunnies, parrots and exotic birds, and wild life. Some of the animals have special needs, some have come from situations of abandonment or neglect. With the exception of the animals in the Wildlife department, all the animals are adoptable. The miracle here is that there is no clock ticking against them: the sanctuary, then, functions as the largest no-kill shelter in the country; in this idyllic setting, the animals are ensured whatever they need — physical, emotional, and psychological needs — for as long as it takes to find them a family. To spend time in such a gorgeous place with these animals, and the very special people who spend their days caring for them, was extraordinary. The sanctuary is a scenic four-hour drive from the Las Vegas airport. Kanab is a great little town in its own right: this “Little Hollywood” was the location for more than 100 western...