Archive for July, 2010

Happy Cow

July 29th, 2010 No comments

Happy Cow is the go-to place to search and discover places for vegetarian and vegan and veg-friendly food. Anyone can register and post reviews, which is exactly what I did with my review of Zilli Green. I added Happy Cow to my Links on this Web site. Here’s how Happy Cow describes itself:

HappyCow’s Compassionate Eating Guide to Restaurants and Health Food Stores is a free worldwide guide created to assist travelers and people everywhere find vegetarian and healthy food options. We promote vegetarianism as a compassionate, healthy, and environmentally sustainable way of living. When planning a trip of travel, or just craving some delicious wholesome grub, be sure visit first!

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Restaurant Review: Zilli Green, London

July 27th, 2010 No comments

Two vegans, one vegetarian and one non-veg ate at Zilli Green in London’s Soho last night. They universally acclaimed the dinner as outstanding. The style of cuisine is “Italian vegetarian with a fusion mind from across the world.”

For appetisers, T had the Peppers, Courgette Aubergine & Parmesan Terrine with a Watercress Pesto Dressing. It was presented very well but had a surprisingly mild flavour. (Zilli Green ensures the cheeses they use are vegetarian and do not include animal rennet.) G greatly enjoyed the Mixed Vegetable Tempura. It wasn’t oily as it is so often cooked. It was also presented very well and greatly admired by everyone. J and K had the soup of the day. This was a delicious creamy base of beetroot, coconut and sage with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Both said it was delicious. The beautiful deep red colour striking. All felt the soup was the best appetiser.

Selecting dishes for the main course was challenging as the choice is outstanding. After much deliberation and discussion, T had the Ricotta, Artichoke & Truffle Ravioli with Butter & Sage Sauce; J picked the Tofu Sausage with Spring Onion Mash, Mushroom Gravy & Mushy Peas; G opted for the Lightly Smoked Tofu Cake with Tarragon, Skin-on Potatoes, Mixed Greens & Sardinian Bread; and K went for three vegetable dishes, which were Rosemary Roast Potatoes – Skin On, Mixed Greens and Chargrilled Mediterranean Vegetables in Cider Vinegar & Mint Dressing.

Generally, everyone agreed the dishes were creatively presented and pleasing to taste. The ravioli was delicious, said T, who admitted to “inhaling it.” J, an American visiting London who wanted a traditional meal, thought the tofu sausages and mushy peas were “good enough that a bloke from Newcastle wouldn’t know the difference”! G said the lightly smoked tofu was a satisfying combination of mild flavours. And K snaffled down the three vegetable dishes and confessed to looking forward to a return visit when he could try more.

We picked a Maris Syrah vegan, organic and biodynamic French red wine. J thought it had an “excellent bouquet, very smooth with a little bit of fun at the end — a peppery finish.” K would have preferred it to be a bit drier but G and T disagreed. We all thought, however, the Maris was a good choice which complemented well our various choices.

The desserts at Zilli Green did not disappoint. Indeed, they ensured our dinner was totally enjoyable. T had a Selection of Homemade Italian Ice Cream which, she said, was vanilla and almond flavoured and were “Delicious!” J picked the Creme Brulee with Passion Fruit, which he described as a very hot custard with a caramelised top. G and K shared the Organic Tofu & Limoncello Cheesecake and the Dairy Free Tiramisu. All were worth going to Zilli Green alone!

The service was excellent, including a very attentive and caring Maitre d. Head chef, Enzo di Marino, and Award winning Italian chef and restaurateur, Aldo Zilli, are to be congratulated on producing an outstanding restaurant. The meal was as good if not better than some of the best veg/vegan restaurants that we have enjoyed in such American cities as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Intellectual Horticulture?

July 26th, 2010 No comments

What does John Thompson mean by “intellectual horticulture“?

It seemed like intellectual horticulture. Seeds of knowledge planted in fertile minds were given an opportunity to germinate in a nourishing environment. Like plants that open their flowers to the wind, seeds from their work at the Fellowship will spread to and grow in other minds. Wherever the careers of these scholars take them that knowledge, and the spirit of active inquiry, will continue advancing our understanding of the human-animal relationship.

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A Gay Outing Provokes Thoughts on Animal Rights

July 23rd, 2010 No comments

Last night I went to a celebration of the Gay Liberation Front at Charleston called “A Gay Outing.” GLF was founded in London in 1970 one year after the Stonewall Inn riots in Manhattan, New York City. Charleston was the Sussex home of Vanessa Bell whose sister was Virginia Woolf. Charleston was a family home where what has become known as “Bloomsbury” artists, writers, intellectuals and others stayed. It was place in the first half of the twentieth century where people were free to have the heterosexual and homosexual relationships they wanted to have. And, therefore, an appropriate place to celebrate GLF.

The evening was particularly interesting because the panel discussion at the end of the program focussed on the origins and first days of the GLF and the context and times in which these events occurred. The discussion also contrasted that period with the present, including speculation under the ConDems coalition government whether any of the progress made for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people could be undone.

Listening to the discussion I was struck by the arc of time from what it was like to live in the UK as gay people in the 1970s to the present and how this span can be only fully appreciated when it is described by those who have lived it. I learnt from writing Animal Dharma that I believed at the time I got involved with the animal rights movement in the mid-1970s that I was in on its beginning. This, of course, is far from the truth as there was much that happened prior to my involvement. This was something I didn’t want to know and my adolescent arrogance wouldn’t have permitted. Today, I feel very differently and regret the animal rights movement pays very little attention to its past. This saddens me for no other reason other than we can learn from past mistakes which I see repeated all the time.

So, last night’s panel, which included historian Jeffrey Weeks, writer Elizabeth Wilson and transsexual activist Roz Kaveney, talked about how 40 years ago a radical GLBT social movement was born when GLF was founded. This discussion recognised, however, that there were individuals (e.g., Antony Grey) and organisations (e.g., Committee for Homosexual Equality) which pre-existed them but whose strategies were more focussed on legislative change and not on cultural and societal change as GLF was.

All of this led to a fascinating discussion about social movements and how they’re structured and organised, function and disfunction. I was intrigued by the comments made by Jeffrey Weeks about Antony Grey and CHE. He said his view of them had changed from 40 years ago when he thought they were conservative and irrelevant (my phrase, not his) to today when he recognised the vital and unique role they played as part of an essential comprehensive strategy. For example, GLF created the cultural space for people to love those of the same sex but CHE played a key role in helping to change the law so that same-sex among consenting adults became legal.

One of the panelists spoke about history moving forward “gradually and contradictorily.” This point rings so true for me. Further, I think it can be only appreciated with an understanding of the complex nature of social movements and how such a complex being as human society changes. We may well be on the cusp of a new time when the hard-fought for victories for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people are undone by a conservative government rolling back the state under the banner of alleged much-needed financial cutbacks. I was struck by Roz Kaveney who questioned the impact on transgendered people, who rely upon the National Health Service to meet their needs with surgery and medication, and the ConDem’s push to privatise the NHS. Some consolation was made in the remarks of one person who thought that the significant change in a positive cultural attitude toward gay issues could not be undone by any occasional but nonetheless determined political counter move.

What has all this got to do with the animal rights movement? Plenty. For a start, one speaker spoke last night about how diverse the gay world is today ranging from any number of polar opposites in political, social and economic perspectives. I thought this should be seen as a strength because it more accurately reflected the complexity of our society thereby making it more likely for it to move forward as one entity toward a progressive outlook. This diversity should, I think, be reflected in the animal advocacy movement. It’s strength is learning how to balance strategically and programmatically the utopian vision of animal rights on the one hand and the pragmatic politics of animal welfare on the other. It’s a tension where each side needs the other in order to move forward. There are always going to be those who are invested in one and attack the other. But I think an appreciation of each side’s strengths and weaknesses and how they could be complemented with insight and vision would make all the difference.

I left Charleston thinking that there are lessons we should learn from the past of not only those who campaign for animals but also those in other social movements like GLBT.

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Blackbird with red berry from the Amelanchier Tree

July 22nd, 2010 No comments
A black bird makes off with a red berry from a nearby Amelanchier tree.

A black bird makes off with a red berry from a nearby Amelanchier tree.

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Labour Leadership

July 22nd, 2010 No comments

Last Friday evening at Canary Wharf I attended a large hustings meeting for the Labour leadership. All candidates were present and answered questions from the floor. There was very little disagreement between them. Just a few cases of personal sniping.

I’m trending toward one of Miliband brothers. If I had to pick one it would be Ed. Why? Simply because he seems less tainted by Labour’s Blair/Brown past. He’s also outspoken on the environment and was impressive as Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. But I think David Miliband would be also ok; however, he’s got some form with Labour’s negative past. This “form” may be minimal, however. Either of the Milibands is acceptable to me.

I’m least impressed with Ed Balls. My hunch is that he’s, well, let’s just say,  difficult. Difficult people are important to have but they often lack leadership abilities. Their personalities are often divisive. I think Andy Burnham is impressive. He’s particularly strong on the National Health Service. I’m not sure he’s ready to be the party’s leader, however. I would like to see him run the Department of Health again. He proposed a National Care Service to complement the National Health Service when he ran the NHS. I like this idea a lot and would love to see it happen. It’s a good idea of what a “Big Society” should be but any “Big Society” proposed by the ConDems, as they are, is going to be a return to a Victorian society when charity was a major force. Simply, I can’t trust anything the ConDems propose or do which is in principle a good idea because the way they will implement it will stay resonate with old Tory and conservative values.

Diane Abbot spoke well at the hustings meeting. I liked how she blanked the BBC Radio 4 interviewer yesterday when asked yet again about sending her son to a private school. At the hustings she identified this as the most difficult decision she ever had to make. She’s a leader on the back benches helping to make sure the Labour Party and future Labour governments stay on track. In fact, I’d like to see her even more outspoken She’s capable of having a considerable influence as a progressive, independent voice for socialism.

One fundamentally important factor about making this decision is determining which of the candidates is best qualified to be able to lead Labour back into power as the national government. Of the candidates standing I think only one of the Milibands is capable of achieving this challenge. So, to conclude, I’m trending toward Ed but David would do.

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Categories: Kim Stallwood, Politics Tags:

One Small Step for Herring Gull …

July 21st, 2010 No comments

IMG_1607Earlier this week another maturing baby Herring gull took her first steps on grass near my home in Old Town Hastings. She’s taking her first flight away from the nearby roof where she was raised over the last two months or so. I haven’t seen her since. I have to resist the urge to interfere by making an attempt to catch these fledgelings and get them to safe ground at, say, the boating lake, Swan Lake, on the seafront, which essentially functions as a creche for baby gulls. Any involvement in a gulls’ life should only take place if they’re sick, injured or too young to look after themselves. This one looks very healthy. So, I leave her to her fate. As I must do with mine.

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Baby Gulls–Eighth “Bonus” Photo!

July 20th, 2010 No comments
One of the baby Herring gulls exercising their wings and learning how to fly. Much like how a human baby learns how to walk only more interesting.

One of the baby Herring gulls exercising their wings and learning how to fly. Much like how a human baby learns how to walk only more interesting.

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Baby Gulls-Seventh Photo!

July 20th, 2010 No comments
Flying baby gull!

Flying baby gull!

We’re now down to two baby Herring Gulls having started out with three, then, plus two, making a group of five. Of the three no longer present I can see that one of them died and the baby gulls have been feasting on the carcass. I don’t know what happened to the other two.

The baby gulls have reached the stage where many of them are learning to fly and leaving their nesting area. For example, the remaining two baby gulls we’ve been watching race around the flat area of the roof, spread their wings, flap madly, make a lot of noise and, particularly when it’s windy, raise themselves some 4-6 inches off the ground, well, the roof. The Old Town is busy with baby gulls who have left their nests walking around the streets, making short flights and learning how to survive. Quite often I see parent gulls looking after their offspring. Many of them congregate at Swan Lake, a boating lake on the seafront, which functions, essentially, as a creche for baby Herring gulls. If they can make it there, well, I think they’re going to be alright.

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New Scientist Goes Veg-ish

July 19th, 2010 No comments

With so much published I want to read I confess to reading often the end first. Conclusions quickly let you know what the rest of the article says and how the author is saying it. Then I decide if I want to bother with the rest of it. Take, for example, the New Scientist and its article, “Veggieworld: Why eating greens won’t save the planet.” Here’s how Bob Holmes concludes the cover feature.

Would people really accept pricey free-range beef and scrawny barnyard chickens perhaps once or twice a week? Certainly most do not today, opting for price and abundance over environmental impact. But change happens. Given the deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that will result if worldwide meat production continues to rise, some people are already choosing to eat less meat. And the message is definitely less, not none. For best results, meat should be medium-rare.

Reading this paragraph didn’t inspire me to want to read the rest. And, so, I didn’t. I quickly scanned it, which confirmed an expectation that it was too much to expect the New Scientist to publish an article that would have been a thoughtful consideration. There’s some nice graphics, however. What did you think?

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