This weekend marks one whole year since I pledged to become Vegan.  Last year at this time, I was en route to Winnipeg to celebrate little P’s first birthday, toting Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food  for some reading besides Glamour. I never knew the book would have such a lasting effect on me.  In fact, for the weeks following reading it I would point out interesting facts and tidbits to anyone who I engaged in a conversation with.  This approach quickly lost it’s luster though, particularly at the dinner table with non-vegetarian J.

What made this book so life changing? Masson tells his truths in such a manner that even the biggest skeptic would feel compelled to at least reconsider their dietary habits. For myself, someone who teetered on the fringe of veganism, the vivid imagery he elicited and the feelings of empathy he evoked were enough to leap into veganism once again. Aided by the fact that Starbucks can make soy frappuccinos!

So I jumped right in and made the decision to stop eating eggs and milk (a relatively easy choice because I was already avoiding most dairy and had been vegetarian for 7 years prior).  There have been minor speed-bumps along the way, but as months go by it gets more natural, I become a better label reader, and the office bowl of M&Ms is slowly becoming less appealing.

So what does one do to celebrate this mini milestone?

Step 1: No celebration can be complete without a vegan treat! Today I had two treats. A fantastic Peanut Butter muffin from Pure Muffins and Cupcakes that I picked up at the city market and salad rolls with peanut dipping sauce from Chopped Leaf.

Step 2: Do something different to give back to the vegan community in the name of kindness and compassion.

Those of you who know me, know that I do some crazy (I prefer different) things.  I adopted a Turkey from the Farm Sanctuary for Thanksgiving after I was heartbroken watching dozens of people line up for their farm fresh turkey’s at the farmers market.  His name is Hawthorne. I plan to visit him some day.

This time I had my heart set on a pig.  In particular, sponsoring/adopting a mini pig from Hearts on Noses sanctuary in British Columbia.  I have a soft spot for pigs, and I actually have this “bacon had a mom” t-shirt from herbivore.

Sometimes I wear it to the farmers market and get weird stares. Whatever. At least it’s not a Tapout shirt (no offence to any UFC fans).

After spending a good hour or so looking at farm sanctuaries and incessantly bugging J to “come see how cute this one is!”, I came to the realization that maybe there was something else I could do to show compassion.  This year has been a particularly bad year for natural disasters from Japan, the tornadoes in the US, Alberta’s recent Slave Lake wildfires, and the devastation of the drought in Africa.

After reading my daily newsfeed, my mind was made up. On Friday, CBC asked “what will it take to address the humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa?” The simple answer is a lot.  Right now, they are facing the worst drought in 60 years, 12 million people are at risk, and 2 million children require hospital treatment right now. Yes 2 million.

I don’t believe a person can read those statistics and turn their back on the cause.  I also don’t believe a person can read that and view the images and not shed tears.  So as someone who has the luxury of making food choices, as someone who has the daily and often taken for granted gift of clean, running water, and as someone who can access medical care freely, I choose to help.

CBC provided the following list of charities accepting donations to address the famine and refugee crisis in Africa:

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, I hope it is filled with kindness and compassion.  There really is enough to go around : )

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