Provides a roadmap to restore health of this critical resource
By Debbie Parsons, Los Gatos Plant-Based Advocates
Many of us are drawn to the ocean and fascinated by it. We visit beautiful beaches. We love dolphins, sea turtles, and whales. We appreciate how precious the ocean is and want it to remain healthy. Sadly, our ocean is in a desperate fight for survival.
This fight is revealed in the eye-opening Netflix documentary Seaspiracy. The film, produced by Ali Tabrizi, identifies the commercial fishing industry as a leading culprit in an imminent underwater disaster. While disheartening at times, Seaspiracy is highly informative and has a positive message—we have the power to save our ocean.
Tabrizi begins by tackling a common misconception: that the ocean’s vastness ensures a safe, resilient environment for the teeming life within. Most of us have heard about “overfishing,” yet there are plenty of fish in our supermarkets. So what’s the problem? Seaspiracy reveals that, if we continue to haul our current rate of 2.7 trillion fish from the ocean each year, we will lose most fish species by 2048.
What about “farm-raised” fish? Isn’t that an easy solution to overfishing? Not so fast, says Tabrizi. Farmed fish are jam-packed into netted cages, in water polluted by their own waste, akin to “factory farming” of land animals. Seaspiracy puts a spotlight on salmon farms in Scotland, which incredibly produce as much organic waste as the entire human population of Scotland each year. Moreover, farmed fish are often fed with wild fish, contributing to declining fish populations in the ocean.
Seaspiracy highlights another commercial fishing practice called “bottom trawling.” This involves dragging giant trawling nets across the bottom of the ocean, destroying 3.9 billion acres of seabed each year. This wipes out coral reefs, causes complete collapse of marine ecosystems, and greatly impedes our fight against climate change, since the ocean is the Earth’s biggest carbon sink. Seaspiracy compares bottom trawling to bulldozing pristine Amazon rainforest.
Tragically, many sea animals never intended for a dinner plate get caught up and die painful deaths in the fishing industry’s gigantic nets. The inadvertently caught sea animals, called bycatch, include over 300,000 whales and dolphins, 50 million sharks and 250,000 turtles in US waters alone. Seaspiracy helps consumers understand the true cost in sea life of the fillet or shrimp on their plate.
Seaspiracy won’t let us hide behind “sustainable” fishing labels either. According to Tabrizi, the ocean is too vast for authorities to verify that sustainable fishing practices are being used. Tabrizi illustrates the point by highlighting an Iceland fishery whose pricey products bore a sustainability “checkmark.” However, approximately 269 harbor porpoises, 900 seals and 5000 seabirds were killed at this "sustainable" fishery in just one month.
Social justice issues caused by the commercial fishing industry are brought to light as well. There is heartbreaking footage of fishing communities in Africa starving due to overfishing by giant boats from faraway countries, Viewers learn about enslavement of people by shrimp boat owners. We learn, ironically, that the fishing industry receives $35 billion in annual subsidies while the UN estimates that it would cost about $30 billion to combat world hunger.
Despite the harsh reality portrayed, Seaspiracy does offer hope for the future. Tabrizi reminds us that marine ecosystems have the ability to bounce back very quickly. The prospect for rewilding our ocean is exciting and attainable.
Naturally, there is controversy about Seaspiracy, and pushback in the media by the commercial fishing industry. This confirms the age-old adage that there are at least two sides to every story, especially when profits are involved. Either way, Seaspiracy has started a critical conversation about the future of our ocean. Watch Seaspiracy to be in on this critical conversation. At the very least, you will be an informed consumer who is aware of the true cost of seafood. The first step in healing our ocean is to understand the enormity of the problem by educating ourselves.
Seasonal and Sustainable Dishes Made by Your Favorite Local Chefs
Date: Sunday, November 7, 2021, 4 PM
Acterra will host a holiday cooking forum featuring a diverse set of notable Bay Area chefs that will demonstrate how to prepare their favorite plant-based holiday dishes. Each chef will be sharing personal stories and cultural significance of the dish, talk about the benefits of plant-forward eating and the importance of using induction cooktops.
Two moderators will be joining us to interact with the chefs and ask questions posed by audience members, for an overall interactive and engaging experience.
Acterra's social media handles:
Instagram and Twitter: @PlanetActerra
Facebook and LinkedIn: @acterra
Registration link: https://hopin.com/events/holiday-refresh-2021
Website with more info: https://www.acterra.org/holiday-refresh
We will be reverse trick-or-treating where you’ll be in costume, but you’ll be the one giving treats to our rescued animal residents. Watch us smash some pumpkins, see the animals devour them, and help us give our residents an all-around amazing day!
This event is open to all ages, and we’ll also send you home with your own vegan-friendly goodie bags.
The best news is that the proceeds from this event go directly towards the continued care of the 130+ rescued animals who call Charlie's Acres home!
• Costume Parade - Show off your costumes as you walk the sanctuary loop, saying hello to rescued animals.
• Animal Treats - Reverse the trick-or-treat tradition and hand out treats to rescued animals as you stop by each pasture.
• Goat Greeting - Hang out in the pasture with some of our goat or sheep residents.
• Pumpkin Smash - Watch the animals enjoy eating pumpkins tossed into their yards.
• Goodie bags - Don't leave without taking your gift bag of candy with you!
For more info or to purchase tickets, go to:
Penned by PBA Core Member, Mythri Ramesh for the Los Gatos Outlook in August 2021.
One lazy Saturday afternoon, I called a local restaurant and asked to hear their vegan options. I then heard, “Is chicken okay?” and took it as an opportunity to explain the nuances between different plant-based diets. This article will explore those differences, and share some reasons why my Los Gatos family and I have personally chosen a vegan diet.
So what are the different plant-based diets? How do they differ from a vegan diet?
Plant-based: Focuses on foods primarily from plants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. Doesn’t completely exclude animal products, but prioritizes choosing foods from plant sources.
Vegan: Excludes all animal products, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
Lacto-vegetarian: Excludes eggs, meat, seafood, and poultry and includes milk products.
Ovo-vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy products and includes eggs.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, and poultry and includes eggs and dairy products. 
Pescatarian: Excludes meats, like beef, pork, or chicken, but includes fish. May include dairy products and eggs pescatarian diet may include dairy products and eggs.
I had been a lacto-ovo vegetarian all my life, but now I am a proud vegan with all my heart and soul. Through this journey of discovery, I learned some eye-opening, jaw-dropping and heartbreaking facts. I will break it down into three parts, to make it look clean, easy to understand and to be frank, not to bore you!
Vegan for My Health and My Family’s Health
According to researchers, “unhealthy diets are the largest global burden of disease,” having surpassed even tobacco use as the leading cause of death and disease worldwide. Eating more plants and fewer animal products could prevent 10.9 to 11.6 million premature human deaths from heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions every year.  After learning this, I decided to change our diet to plant-based to protect my family.
Vegan for Our Planet
It takes 460 gallons of water and 64.5 square feet of land crops to produce a 1/4-pound hamburger.  Imagine how many humans we can feed in that same amount of land with a plant-based diet! And every year, we raise 29 million cows for beef and dairy. When we factor in all the land used to graze animals and feed crops grown to sustain livestock, as well as the waste produced from all these animals (cows are responsible for 62 percent of agricultural emissions5) it becomes obvious that eating animals is simply unsustainable for our planet. These are the facts about cows. What about other farm animals?
Vegan for Animals
Who doesn’t like the classic children’s song, “Old-McDonald?” We all teach our kids about farm animals and take them to petting zoos. The feeling of seeing a jumping white baby lamb or a goofy tiny pink piglet tends to generate happiness and love. But somehow there is a disconnect from seeing them physically alive, versus having them on our plates. Animals are sentient beings, and they feel emotions just like us through their nervous systems. They are no different from our pampered dogs or cats with their own cute little beds. Why treat one as companions and others as products?
Am I asking to throw out everything in your refrigerator? If you are up for it, yes! It really depends on what you’re comfortable with. Some people convert to a plant-based diet completely on day one, while others ease into it by starting to switch out some traditional meals with plant-based meals. You can start with meatless Mondays or kick-start your diet with a month of plant-based meals. Need recipes? There are countless online that are super easy, quick and delicious. There are several pure vegan restaurants around the Bay Area as well as vegan options provided by various local restaurants. If you need help getting used to eating plant-based, there are many resources available to help you: Challenge 22 (www.challenge22.com) and Vegan Outreach (www.veganoutreach.org) are just a few. You can also find support and recipes through Plant-Based Advocates, a grassroots group that I am part of in Los Gatos.
I encourage you to give the “plant-based lifestyle” a chance. Who knows? Maybe you will love this new way of living because of your improved health, as well as knowing your diet minimizes harm toward animals or our environment.
Plant-Based Advocates is a grassroots group in Los Gatos that is working to mitigate climate change by reducing the traditional reliance on meat and dairy. We're taking action in the community by doing things like helping restaurants increase their plant-based options, working with local legislators, and sharing plant-based meals with unhoused communities. This is our way of sharing the benefits of plant-based eating and giving back to the community during these unprecedented times.
Email me your thoughts: email@example.com
In partnership with Plant-Based Advocates of Los Gatos, the Los Gatos library presents a one-hour virtual Zoom tour of Charlie's Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary (located in Sonoma County). Tune in to see all the wonderful animals and hear their rescue stories, learn about caring for rescued farm animals, and learn more about plant-based eating to create a kind, compassionate, and green planet.
At Charlie's Acres, the goal is to rescue farm animals who were abused or destined for the dinner table. They strive to teach people about the beauty and intelligence of these animals and how to leave them off your plate.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Here is the Zoom link to join!
A look into the reality of male cows in the dairy industry
By Kathleen Willey of Plant Based Advocates
I made a new friend recently, a beautiful and gentle soul with long eyelashes named Argyle, who loves to have his head scratched. He is a male dairy cow, and was considered a waste product to the industry because he will never produce milk. He is one of the rare lucky ones who was rescued and will live out his days at a farm animal sanctuary called Sweet Farm in Half Moon Bay.
Even though I have always been a passionate animal lover, I grew up eating a Standard American Diet of meat, dairy and eggs. As a teenager I made the connection and stopped eating “anything with a cute face,” occasionally eating fish or chicken, but was still consuming lots of dairy. I assumed I wasn’t hurting cows because they “needed to be milked.” Packaging assured me dairy comes from “happy” cows and showed pictures of loving moms serving their children a glass of milk.
Then I learned the truth. A female cow is forcibly impregnated and her calf is taken away at a day or 2 old so humans can take her milk. The mother cow cries out for weeks as she mourns the loss of her baby. She will live in a windowless shed or a manure-filled yard with thousands of others just like her, and will be hooked up to painful machines two to three times a day to be milked.
If her baby is female, she will be put in a lonely crate and fed formula instead of her mother’s nurturing milk. Once she is old enough, she will also be forcibly impregnated and then suffer the same fate as her mother. This cycle repeats itself over and over again until she is so exhausted her milk production wanes. She is then sent off to slaughter at around 5 or 6 years of age. A normal life span for a cow is around 15 to 20 years.
If her baby is male like Argyle, he is either killed right away or confined to a tiny crate—those white hutches you see near farms, where he can barely move to prevent developing muscle tissue. He will become someone’s veal dinner at around 4 months old.
I also suffered from many health issues my entire life including painful heartburn, IBS, unexplained hives and asthma. My asthma was so bad that as a teenager, I could not participate in PE class with my friends. Even after a severe asthma attack I was never told to try giving up dairy. Instead I was just prescribed powerful drugs and inhalers that made my heart race so quickly I thought I would have a heart attack! I was also given prednisone which made my face swell up and led to weight gain which triggered a terrible eating disorder as a teenager. Now when I see drug commercials for asthma medications listing all the horrible side effects, it makes me sad wondering how many people would get better if they removed dairy from their diet.
There is a lot of misinformation about dairy, even among medical professionals. It causes a lot of inflammation in the body, including the bronchial tubes. It increases the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, asthma and certain cancers. Marketing tries to convince us we need dairy for strong bones, yet the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are also the countries with the highest dairy consumption. There is a similar correlation with cancer.
I initially gave up dairy for health reasons and then I was horrified to discover the cruelty I had been supporting for so many years. No matter how cleverly it is marketed - organic, humane, ethical etc., there is no dairy milk unless the cow is forcibly impregnated and her baby is taken away. I don’t miss it because there are so many excellent non dairy cheeses, yogurts, ice creams and plant based milks that are so much healthier and kinder to the animals and our planet.
Once I adopted a whole foods plant-based diet, my lifelong asthma, heartburn, IBS and hives all went away. I am medication free and I run faster than I did 20 years ago and beat people half my age up hills on my mountain bike!
So, waste product Argyle, thank you for being an ambassador to the approximately 20 million male dairy cows that are killed globally every year in the dairy industry. I may cry sometimes as I hug you and think about the others that are not so lucky, but I am so glad you are here on this Earth to be my friend.
About: Kathleen Willey is a busy mom of twin boys and lives locally with her husband and her beloved vegan Labrador retriever, Honey. Her passion for plant-based eating led her to start a local Facebook group, Plant Based Friends, and then Plant Based Advocates, a Los Gatos-based group that serves plant based meals to some of the local homeless communities. She received a certification in plant based nutrition and works for a non profit to educate kids about their food choices and the impacts they have on the environment, health and animals.