Film reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group organized a showing of EATING YOU ALIVE so I went to see what it was about. This excellent film held my attention because it included many personal stories. Several people told how they or a loved one was very ill with a chronic disease – some even to the point of being told they would die soon. Most received no useful advice from their physicians so had to discover on their own that a plant-based, whole foods diet could literally save them. This film was very upbeat because it had so many happy endings. For example, his doctor told an elderly man he would die in a month or so from cancer and that the doctor could do anything for him. After a year on a plant-based, whole foods diet, the man recovered and walked into the office of the astonished doctor.

Besides these recovery stories, several physicians, vegan chefs, a pharmacist, an actor and others were interviewed. They spoke about the lack of nutrition education in medical school, the seductive power of food ads, the scarcity of preventive medicine in the U.S. and the restorative power of healthy food. Chefs provided a few recipes.

A very brief segment showed the horrific abuse of animals raised for food. Another brief segment told of the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture, such as the methane emissions from cows.

For more information, read HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger, M.D. It also is helpful to try out a new way of eating (or stick with it once you’ve tried it) by eating with others.

Consider joining Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. Contact Marybeth Fishman, or call (315) 729-7338. You can find the group on Facebook, Instagram, and on the website.

Also contact Linda DeStefano at People for Animal Rights, P.O.Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or or see our website at Ask for a sample of our newsletter, our membership brochure, and/or recipes. I also can make a copy for you of the 16 page report from Kaiser-Permanente (a large Health Maintenance Organization) called “The Plant-based Diet: A Healthier Way to Eat.” The HMO can save money by preventing health problems in their patients so this tells me that they think a plant-based diet really is good preventative medicine.

Genius Olympiad at SUNY Oswego

by Miguel Balbuena

On June 13 I served as a judge at the Genius Olympiad, held at the State University of New York at Oswego. The Genius Olympiad is an annual competition that this year drew more than a thousand participants, from over 70 countries belonging to six continents, most of whom presented projects in six broad categories: business, robotics, science, visual art, music and creative writing.

In order to pinpoint their application area to this olympiad, students submitting proposals had to be aware that some of these categories had subdivisions. For instance, the category business was broken down into entrepreneurship, and social responsibility; the category science into environmental quality, ecology and biodiversity, resources and energy, human ecology, and innovation; the category visual art into photography, short film, poster design, and satirical illustration, and; the category music into solo performance, group performance, and singer, and; the category creative writing into short story, essay and poetry.

Due to my strong background as a Renaissance man, i.e., a polymath or omnivore, I met the eligibility criteria to be a judge in any of the fields stated above, except robotics, about which I don’t know anything about. I chose to evaluate short film because it was the field that first stuck out when I read the judging application. I thought it would be fun to see how current students managed to express their ideas in the video format.

The contest rules said that these intellectual games were “open to all international and U.S. students studying in grades eight through twelve (or the equivalent),” from 12 year-olds on up. In addition, these rules required an adult supervisor per underage student. Finally, they allowed students to bring other guests.

Before attending this program, I had never been to SUNY Oswego. I have three friends who graduated from this institution of higher learning but they never went into great detail about their lives while studying there. One of them, my former housemate Joe Niles, confided to me that he felt isolated there. That was the extent of my prior knowledge about SUNY Oswego. Somehow, a notion had crept into my brain. It was that this university was a small one at a windswept location on Lake Ontario southern shore. But, on the aforementioned pivotal June date, as soon as I set foot on its campus, I was hit in the face by reality. Although I was right in that it was lakeside, it turned out that was situated on a sprawling
690-acre campus.

The Olympic Games took place in the Marano Campus Center, the school’s version of a student union facility. This center is the largest of the 46 buildings on campus. By itself, this particular building was bigger in square footage than whole colleges such as Crouse Hospital School in Syracuse, for example.

The judging sessions ran from nine thirty in the morning to three thirty in the afternoon with only an hour intermission to get past large long lines of people hungry for lunch, at the Cooper Dining Hall. Thus, time was at a premium, which meant that I wasn’t able to visit buildings other the Marano Center and Cooper Hall. Besides, it began raining hard. Both the center and hall impressed me as having being constructed having practicality in mind rather than aesthetics.

Upon arrival to my final destination, I found sheer pandemonium at the Marano Center. It was swirling with students, chaperones, guests, judges, administrative staff and visitors from the general public, to the point that it was even hard to walk down the hallways. Fortunately, I made it in one piece to the sport arena within the center, where I had to check in and pick up the judging forms and guidelines as well as my credential as a judge, which will allow me to get ahead of the line for the complimentary lunch in view that I had to rush back to participate in the afternoon film screening session. But there was a mix-up. The staff member in charge had given me the science forms instead of the short film ones. Finally, I was told by this staff person to go to an auditorium upstairs to retrieve the correct forms.

It was certainly a high honor for me to have been able to watch and assess films from countries as diverse as Albania, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam. But, at the same time, it was a hectic experience as the roughly 50 videos of eight-minute length apiece run at a breakneck pace with just a few seconds of break between them.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).


A short essay by Richard Weiskopf
Compiled by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

The crows flew over – pair mating, no doubt. Caw Caw! The sound pierce my ears. It was as if they carried a black shroud and were the messengers of death.

One on the very top of a tree surveys the surroundings and controls the entire area, even the human who works powerless underneath. Inside that black shroud he carries the memories of centuries. The Caw Caw warns the others when humans are approaching and where they are going. His searching eye follows their every move; then he glides effortlessly through the air, his fimbriated wings still and hardly moving. Sometimes they fly in groups, and you’d think it was a city of ants flying. Then there is a romance of two flying like planes in a dog fight, rough and tumble, one over the other, sometimes a piece of branch or string in their beak. They raise their young to grow into the black shroud like the parents.

Even in death – and I saw a dead one in the cemetery where I was walking – they retain their grace and majesty. Black, sleek, silken feathers, a satin gown surrounding them. The crow makes me feel like a part of the earth, not as if I own the earth.

Richard is a semi-retired physician living in Syracuse. He enjoys journal writing and writes essays, poems and letters to the newspaper. This short essay is used with his permission.


People for Animal Rights encourages appreciation of wild animals and the Earth and the attitude of being part of nature rather than separate from it. We work against exploitation of all animals and strive to protect the Earth, which sustains us all. If you want our general brochure and a sample of our newsletter, contact us at PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358 or call us at (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or Our website is

Focus on Fruits and Vegetables

Focus on Fruits and Vegetables – Look what $10 will buy!

Vegetables and fruits can fit into any budget! For $10 you can buy 18 portions of vegetables and fruits; like, 1 cup tomato, 3 cups of green beans, 3 cups of corn, 4 cups of peas, 1 cup of pears and 6 cups of peaches. That’s almost 4 days’ worth of veggies and fruits for one person! Buy fruits and veggies in all their forms – fresh, frozen and canned.

Celebrate the season! Purchase fresh vegetables and fruits when they are in season. Fresh produce is packed with flavor and is often less expensive. Visit your local Farmer’s market for produce in season from June- October.

Buy frozen and canned year-round. It’s usually picked and packed at its’ peak when its chock full of nutrients. Look for canned or frozen veggies that have not been pre-sauced and say “no salt added”, “low sodium” or “reduced sodium” on the label. Look for fruits canned in juice or light syrup.

Save time in the kitchen with washed and bagged produce picks. Compare prices for best value. Pre-cut, pre-washed produce may cost more for the convenience than when sold in whole form.

Make a list BEFORE you shop! Check the local newspaper, online, and the store ads before you shop. You will save money by buying only what you need leaving more of your food budget for delicious wholesome produce loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Plant you own veggie garden! Try a small plot in the yard or in a large pot. Try easy-to-grow herbs, cucumbers, peppers or grape tomatoes are great for beginner gardeners. Gardening helps us be more physically active and makes us feel good too as we watch our veggies grow! For Gardening tips, browse through a local library or check online gardening tips at

Lastly, plan and cook smart. Prepare and freeze vegetables soups, stews or other dishes in advance. Add leftover veggies to casseroles or blend them to make soup. Overripe fruit is great for smoothies or baking. There are plenty of ways to enjoy veggies and fruits, for more ideas visit

Check our website for recipes, tips and locations of Famer’s Markets that accept EBT near you at

Serving eight counties in the Southern Tier Region- Onondaga, Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego and Tioga.


The Minimalist Vegan

The Minimalist Vegan: A Simple Manifesto on Why to Live with Less Stuff and More Compassion
by Michael and Masa Ofei, Dec. 2017, Minimalist Company Pty, Limited, 145 pages.
Book reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated by Rob English

This married couple from Canberra, Australia urges readers to cure themselves of the “More Virus”. This virus infects individuals and society into thinking that happiness comes from consuming more and more. Besides deadening the human spirit, this virus is killing the planet. Limited natural resources are wasted to produce items
which are unnecessary or quickly discarded. For example, plastic. Plastic is made from a diminishing natural resource (fossil fuels) and has formed a huge garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. Animals who live in or near the sea are ingesting and dying from pieces of plastic. Michael and Masa suggest avoiding plastic items which tend to be used only once, such as, plastic bags or straws.

People work many hours so they can buy more when instead they could find happiness in spending more time with people they love and pursuing activities they find fulfilling and relaxing. Although the authors don’t speak about this, I’ll add that some people don’t have the choice but to work many hours in order to support themselves and their
families. This is an injustice and indicates the vast imbalance in wealth in the US.

The authors urge us to de-clutter rather than be slaves to our possessions, which can steal too much time and mental energy to organize and maintain. They advise also to spend less time on digital devices, which causes mental clutter, information overload, distraction and over stimulation.

Are we slaves to the latest fashions? Do we buy cheap, fashionable garments and use them for only a short time? Even if we give them away rather than trash them, natural resources and energy (probably derived from polluting sources) were used to produce them. (I’ll note that cheap clothes also involve poor labor conditions). Better to
enjoy high quality clothes that look good on us and can be kept for a long time. Over 13 million tons of textiles are trashed every year in the U.S. alone and only 15% of this is recovered for recycling.

The Ofeis find that veganism melds well with their minimalist philosophy as eating fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts and the many tasty dishes made from them is gentler on the Earth than raising animals for food. And it makes them happy to avoid taking part in the suffering and death of animals raised for food.

You can try vegan food by coming to a vegan social of People for Animal Rights and/or Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. You don’t have to be vegan to attend these events but all food at the events is vegan. Contact me at People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., I can also provide some hints for less wasteful living. You can contact Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group through Marybeth Fishman at or by calling her at (315)729-7338.

The Humane Gardener

art by Marjolein Bastin
Book Review by pam mcnew
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

If on grand or modest scale, one is able to apply this book’s principles to their life and the living of it, one will have the very formula of what is apt to bring true and lasting happiness (not only within you, but around you).

“We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” Wendell Berry

There are many a book over a vast terrain of time that have encouraged us to save this earthly home by letting it be, by not harming it, by observing and respecting its very wholeness. One such book is THE HUMANE GARDENER by Nancy Lawson. I most highly recommend it.

“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.”
Wendell Berry

“Nothing that is necessary for life is lacking” as someone most wisely said. We have to learn to trust those words, for they are true.

So for most people it would take letting go of the false and embracing the complex-for-a-reason real world about us to be a true Humane Gardener. And this would be a really good thing.

I cannot praise highly enough the support, inspiration and worthiness of the book THE HUMANE GARDENER by Nancy Lawson. It is a humble looking book that brings new hope to me for our personal opportunity to bring about a transformed world right in our own backyard… or in the spaces around us that we might make a change.

The lure of the glamorous porn-like market of seductive non-native plants needs to be brought to its knees and made to see where true beauty lives and blooms.

Mono-cropped lawns give no hope of shelter nor nourishment to the vital diversity of life on this earth. In order for us all to survive, such practices and habits really must be changed. We need to find a new model within us… a different sense of loveliness… so that we will always keep the butterflies, the bees, the bunnies and all in between vital and thriving.

Leaves that fall give shelter to beneficial insects during the autumn, winter and spring. The nutrients they bring the soil is the health of the trees and even our very own gardens. The birds and the fish, the four footed and the microorganisms all need to be viewed in appreciative ways and protected in all our actions.

No herbicides, no pesticides, no mulches, straight rows in a formal garden will win the hearts of those who are truly nurturing their backyard habitat. And if and when united, these areas turn into life sustaining havens for the sovereign beings we ought all be concerned about and cherish. Run to get this book. It will nourish you, too.

“We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.” Florence Williams

pam mcnew is a member of the board of People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.,,

“Milk Hurts”

by Teresa Melnick
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

From California’s “Happy Cow” campaign, to the catchy “Got Milk?” celebrity ads, dairy product advertising is relentless in its efforts to convince consumers that its products are wholesome, nutritious, and support the iconic family farm. We are surrounded by images of contented cows, lazily munching grass in glorious green pastures. The truth is a far cry from this idyllic pastoral scene. Unfortunately, most consumers don’t know the ugly facts about the dairy industry’s treatment of cows as disposable milk producing machines. Animal activist Ashely Capp is doing something about that with the creation of a new website Milk Hurts, and her campaign, “Mothers Against Dairy.”

Capp, a writer and editor for the website A Well Fed World, explains her upcoming Milk Hurts website: “Essentially Milk Hurts is intended to become the ‘go to’ comprehensive anti-dairy resource and database with ‘Mothers Against Dairy’ as one of its campaigns and ongoing web features.” The site will be a place where people can go to find the most current, comprehensive, fact-based research on the dairy industry’s harmful effects on animals, human health, and the environment, she says.

Capp started the campaign, “Mothers Against Dairy,” when she learned of a new direction the dairy industry was taking in its advertising.

“Mothers Against Dairy was launched as a way to directly counter the aggressive surge in pro-dairy messaging from female dairy farmers (most of them mothers) that I have encountered in my dairy research over the last several years,” Capp says. “I believe this trend is no coincidence, rather, in a climate of increased criticism of dairy farming practices, it represents a strategic industry shift to put more female faces on dairy farming, and to deceptively reframe the industry as a maternal nurturing one.”

Maternal and nurturing are not adjectives Capp would use to describe the dairy industry. Calves are removed from their mothers soon after birth and fed artificially, while the mother’s milk is harvested for human consumption. This is emotionally and physically damaging for both the cow and the calf, who visibly grieve the separation. The mother is again impregnated and the whole cycle begins again.

Capp has collected compelling first- hand accounts from women who realized, after giving birth themselves, that they could no longer support an industry that callously exploits the motherhood of cows.

(The Milk Hurts website will launch later this year, but for now you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook, or go to A Well Fed World for a link to “Mothers Against Dairy”).

Teresa Melnick is a member of People for Animal Rights (PAR). You can contact PAR at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., You can also contact Linda DeStefano who is the President of People for Animal Rights or find more information at