October 19, 2018
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Cotati’s first vegan & vegetarian food fair in La Plaza Park-2009

By: Irene Hilsendager
June 1, 2018

The Cotati Chamber of Commerce welcomed everybody to celebrate the first annual vegan and vegetarian food festival at the La Plaza Park in downtown Cotati. When somebody hears about being a vegetarian or vegan a normal question pops up - why be a vegetarian or a vegan? There are so many reasons for being a vegetarian or a vegan and by being one you can improve your health. You can significantly improve your health, greatly lessen the suffering of the animals and improve your environmental footprint. It has been medically proven that vegetarian and vegans are less likely to get heart disease, diabetes or osteoporosis. They are less likely to be overweight and have a lot more stamina.

Save the earth

Eating vegetarian and vegan foods saves more land, energy and water than any other choice you can make. Because livestock eat several times more grain or hay than they produce as meat, raising livestock uses several times more grain or hay to feed them, several times as much energy to harvest the grain or hay and to transport it. You need several times as much water to grow the grain or hay and to water animals and again several times more pesticide is being used.

Prevent cruelty to animals

No one wants animals to suffer but it is easy to forget that when we eat the meat, the easiest action we can take to reduce animal suffering is to simply stop eating meat.

Vegetarianism dates back to a time before recorded history. Most anthropologists believe that early humans ate primarily plant foods, being more gatherers than hunters. This view is supported by the fact that the human digestive system resembles that of the other plant eaters than that of carnivores. 

Vegetarianism was not very common in the US until 1971, when Frances Moore Lappe’s, “Best Diet for a Small Planet” was published. Lappe was startled to discover that it takes 14 times as much grain to feed an animal than what you get of it in meat-an enormous waste of resources. Livestock eat over 80 percent of the grain eaten in the US. If Americans cut their meat consumption by just 10 percent, there would be enough grain to feed all the starving people in the world. John Robbins 1987 book, “Diet for a New America,” exposed the horrors of factory farming and convincingly demonstrated how deadly meat-based diets are and how healthy vegetarianism or veganism is. It also introduced the world to the incredible environ culture, which even many vegetarians were unaware of before the book was published. Diet for a New America started the vegetarian movement in the US.

Dr. John McDougall has published a series of books promoting vegan diets to treat most major illness. In the early 90s American Dietetic Association published a position paper endorsing vegetarian diets and support for vegetarian diets started to be seen throughout the medical community. The US government finally dropped the antiquated meat and dairy industry sponsored Four Food Groups and replaced a Food Pyramid, clearly showing that Americans should be eating mostly grains, vegetables, beans and fruits. 

Today acceptance of vegetarianism by medical authorities and the general public is at an all time high. Myths still abound, but overall change in the attitude about vegetarianism since the 80s is nothing short of remarkable. Some of the famous vegetarians are Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Abraham Lincoln, Gautama Buddha, John Lennon, Leo Tolstoy, Pythagoras, Isaac Newton and Vincent Van Gogh. Cotati enjoyed all the delicious food that was prepared.

Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.