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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Main Street Vegan Academy, part 2

We kicked off Main Street Vegan Academy Tuesday evening (June 18th) with a delicious chickpea curry, DF Mavens ice cream (“the best dairy-free ice cream in the world” is no exaggeration), and a presentation by Dr. Robert Ostfeld of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Dr. Ostfeld did a great job of explaining the mechanics of heart disease in layman’s terms. (“Grummus” is something you do NOT want inside your arteries, but it’s such a fun word to say!) Dr. Ostfeld and nutritionist Lauren Graf offer a plant-based cardiac wellness program for their patients, many of whom are living on limited incomes. These are awesome people doing awesome work, and I know we all felt very lucky to learn more about it.

Wednesday was our most lecture-filled day. First up was Marty Davey, La Diva Dietitian, who offered us a basic course in vegan nutrition, followed by special guidelines for pregnancy and children, athletes, and the elderly. Marty is very wry and witty, making the material way more engaging than it might have been. (She likes to tell teenage boys that if they stick with the standard American diet, “by the time you’re 35, Mr. Happy may not be so happy!”)

After lunch, Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House gave an impassioned and very articulate talk on animal rights and animal law (Mariann is a professor of animal rights law at Columbia and a couple other NYC schools. I really loved it when she said, “What was I thinking before the light bulb went off?”, because that’s how I’ve felt every single day since I went vegan.) If you’re interested in exploring the philosophy around animal rights, their website is a great place to start. (See also Main Street Vegan Academy Will Change Your Life.)

After their talk, Jasmin and Mariann were guests on Victoria’s radio show, with our classmate Zachary co-hosting. We got to be the live studio audience.


After the radio show, Joshua Katcher of Brave Gentleman and The Discerning Brute gave an equally powerful presentation on animal cruelty in the fashion industry: fur, leather, wool, silk, and feathers. For a quick intro (no, shearing sheep isn’t the same as a haircut!), check out the FAQ on his blog.

We must not allow the beauty of an object to blind us to the horror of its origins.”

Joshua designs vegan business suits, which are manufactured in Italy. Fashion may seem frivolous on the surface, but the work he, Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart, Jill Milan, Jaclyn Sharp, and other designers are doing is so, SO important. An estimated one billion animals annually are killed for their skins, and the undercover footage Joshua showed us almost literally made me sick.

(You don’t want to watch this, but you really should. This particular footage was taken at a fox farm in Illinois.)

People like to think if you’re going vegan you can only dress in burlap sacks, but there’s absolutely no excuse to wear leather or fur when alternatives exist that are ethical, sustainable, and stylish.

Wednesday evening, after a delicious avocado quinoa salad at Candle West (I skipped dessert, though I did have a bite of Marcia’s cannoli and it was just as tasty as “the real thing”!) I went down to Union Square for some edible and inedible treats.

Thursday morning Jennifer Gannett gave us a very practical presentation on “mixed” families (i.e., not everyone in the family wants to go vegan) and transitioning to veganism in general. That’ll be really useful for those of us who will be focusing on private coaching.

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Thursday lunch: carrot-pecan-coconut salad; mock tuna salad; Aztec salad with black beans, red onion, red pepper, tomato and cilantro; and a creamy dill dip. Words can’t express just how much I enjoyed this meal.

Thursday afternoon we took a field trip to a cute little raw food store called High Vibe, followed by Sustainable NYC and Vaute Couture. After dinner at Jivamuktea, we headed down to NYU to hear a talk by Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I’ll be blogging about Vaute and the PETA lecture over the next couple of days.

(All Main Street Vegan Academy posts here.)

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.