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How to Be a Joyful Vegan

Millions of people are choosing veganism—or plant-based eating—as a logical and sensible response to their concerns about animals, the environment, and their health. And yet, despite their positive intentions and even the personal benefits they experience, many revert back to consuming meat, dairy, and eggs.

I’m trying to change that. For the animals. For our planet.

For my fellow humans. After decades of gathering stories, drawing on my own observations and experiences, studying the data that’s available, and hearing from thousands of people, I’ve come to learn that people stay vegan or stop being vegan depending on well they navigate the social, cultural, and emotional aspects of living vegan in a non-vegan world:

  • constantly being asked to defend your food choices
  • being outside of the status quo and not having a sense of belonging (where you once did)
  • feeling the pressure (often self-inflicted) to be perfect
  • and experiencing guilt, remorse, and anger

All common experiences that—if not addressed—can lead to giving up entirely. In my latest book, The Joyful Vegan, I provide the tools for navigating and overcoming the most common challenges, arming readers with solutions and strategies for:

  • cultivating healthy relationships (with vegans and non-vegans)
  • communicating effectively
  • sharing enthusiasm without proselytizing
  • finding like-minded community
  • and experiencing peace of mind in a world that wants you to eat meat, dairy, and eggs.

By implementing the tools in this book, I believe that readers will find that they can live ethically, eat healthfully, engage socially, remain a joyful vegan—and help others do the same!

When Vegans Should Not Use the Word “Vegan”

One of my goals has always been to take the word “vegan” out of the box called “vegan.” My goal is constantly thwarted by

*vegans overusing the word vegan
*the use of “vegan” to refer to food as well as people
*advocates who tell people to “go vegan”
*the attempt by some vegans to narrow the definition and make the word “vegan” refer to every social problem that exists in the world

If you call yourself vegan or have ever been told you can’t call yourself vegan, this episode is for you.

Endangered Species Under Attack

Upon learning about the Trump administration’s weakening of our country’s most effective conservation law, I lamented for a moment, then got to work writing this commentary. My editor at KQED Radio accepted it right away, I recorded it yesterday, and it aired today.⁠

May we each use our voice and the power we have to speak up, to vote, and to act on behalf of what’s right. This is my small contribution to that end. ⁠

▶️ “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed,” said the Republican president prior to resigning under the threat of impeachment.⁠

No, that’s not a prediction of the near future; it’s actually a memory of the not-so-distant past when Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he was signing the Endangered Species Act.⁠

Since then, this law has played a significant role in the recovery of hundreds of endangered and threatened animals, plants, and habitats.⁠

Before this landmark legislation, due to poisons and pesticides, only 400 breeding pairs of bald eagles were known to live in the lower 48 states. Today, it’s 30 times that.⁠

At the time, hunters and ranchers had successfully dwindled the grey wolf population to just a few hundred; today, albeit still threatened, they number more than 5,000.⁠

Before their protection under the Endangered Species Act, only 200 American crocodiles remained. Today there are more than 2,000 individuals.⁠

But now their days—and those of hundreds of other species—are numbered.⁠

This week, the Trump administration announced it will take steps to roll back our country’s most effective conservation law that could pave the way for development, drilling, and mining in regions where protected species live.⁠

Itself an endangered species, the Republican Party once laid claim to a strong tradition of environmental stewardship, but that tradition has gone the way of the Dodo. The party of Trump has ceded its commitment to country, compassion, and conservation in favor of power, politics, and populism. Instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the creation of national parks and forests, the Grand Old Party’s devotion to compassionate conservatism is all but extinct.

While one administration’s policies can be overturned by the one that follows, some consequences are simply irreversible.

Extinction is permanent.

When deciding who should represent our American values in our various branches of government, may our national bird serve as both a reminder of what we accomplished in the past and a warning of what we could lose in the future.

With a Perspective, I’m Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

We’re veganizing the south of France!

Arranging incredible meals for all our vegan travelers is 10x easier in Rwanda than it is in France.

We have officially sold out of our December 2020 Botswana trip (where it’s ALSO easier to eat plant-based than France — especially rural France). Which is why…our Summer-in-the-South-of-France Vegan Trips in June/July 2020 are going to be off the hook!

Everything non-vegans eat vegans will eat BETTER! We mean EVERYTHING that is seasonal and regional, we arrange vegan versions of!

We also take over our very own 4-star villa. We visit the world-famous Lascaux cave to see the replicas of 17,000 years-old animal paintings!!! We have a special private visit the first European elephant sanctuary! Castles, river boat ride, wineries and vineyards, and so much more!

Our Summer in France trips are now starting to sell out, and I hope you visit the details on our website to see if you can join us. There’s one more month to sign up, and if the trip is not a go, of course you get 100% of your money back. It’s a win-win situation!

For the animals…CPG

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How Rwanda Unites

Rwanda is considered the cleanest and greenest country in East Africa. It’s not because Rwanda employs more street sweepers, gardeners, and road crews than other countries, and it’s not (only) because of the decade-long ban on plastic bags.

It’s also because of a monthly communal ritual called Umuganda, a Kinyarwanda word that translates to “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.” Military service isn’t compulsory in Rwanda but Umuganda is — for able-bodied people ages 18 to 65 — and it takes place on the last Saturday of each month.

Because expatriates and visitors are welcome to participate and because — on our Joyful Vegan Trips to Rwanda — we scheduled our to be there on the day of that month’s Umuganda, we arranged to visit a local village to join them build a road.

Umuganda in its current form was reintroduced in 1998 as part of the effort to rebuild the country and to nurture a shared national identity after the 1994 genocide.

As a U.S. citizen in a deeply divided country, it’s not a huge leap to draw parallels between the past divisiveness in Rwanda and the present divisiveness in my own country. If that sounds dramatic, then consider this:

A recent survey (referenced in this op-ed) asked both Republicans and Democrats, “Do you ever think we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died’?” Some 20 percent of Democrats (12.6 million voters) and 16 percent of Republicans (7.9 million voters) said yes.

When asked, “What if the opposing party wins the 2020 presidential election. How much do you feel violence would be justified then?” 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”

Over a 3-month period in 1994 in Rwanda, this very sentiment manifested itself into a methodical massacre in which approximately 800,000 citizens were brutally killed by their fellow citizens—neighbors, co-workers, colleagues, and friends.

If Rwandans can heal, unite, and forgive after such a massive atrocity, anyone can. We have much cleaning up to do in our own country—both literally and figuratively, and we must take it seriously.

Garbage clean-up anyone?

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hadley 

Don’t Poison the Animals

FREE EVENT! GET TICKETS HERE

Raccoons, coyotes, and rats, oh my! Whether you’re in the hills or the city, chances are you’ve encountered some of our abundant wildlife. How do we peacefully coexist, keep our pets safe, and keep wild animals wild?

Sadly, many people see wild animals as invaders, intruders, and pests. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Please join the East Bay Animal PAC to learn from Keli Hendricks, Project Coyote’s Ranching with Wildlife Coordinator, about the secret lives of our wild neighbors, their intelligence, resourcefulness, complex social lives, and how they manage to survive in the face of incredible odds. Whether you love them, hate them, or just want to learn more about them, this entertaining and informative talk will shed light on why we should not just coexist, but actually embrace, the wild animals who live amongst us.

When: Thursday, July 25th: 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: Temescal Works, 490 43rd St., Oakland, CA

Please spread the word! 

FREE EVENT! GET TICKETS HERE

How Wildlife Can Recover After Genocide

A Wildlife Conservation Success Story

The 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis devastated this beautiful country, its people, its wildlife, and its wild spaces. But with vigilance, persistence, vision, courage, and strength, they are recovering.⁠ When Akagera National Park was created in 1934, it was one of the best wildlife reserves in all of Africa. ⁠

⁠Once spanning almost 1,000 square miles, sadly, in 1997, it was reduced in size by almost 50%. A large portion of the land was reallocated to refugees to Rwanda after the genocide. Before 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda settled in the area, and the conservation area was harmed by poaching and cultivation. ⁠

⁠I so look forward to telling you more about the work they’re doing, the animals they’ve reintroduced, the conservation measures they’re taking, and the rhinos (!) who have just safely arrived from zoos in three different countries who will now live out their natural lives in the wild. ⁠

⁠On our first trip to Rwanda, we didn’t have the chance to visit Akagera, but we were so thrilled to make it part of our of our Joyful Vegan Trips in 2019. (On our current Rwanda trips, our travelers can visit Akagera on their own either before or after our all-inclusive trip.)

We saw zebra, warthogs, impala, cape buffalo, waterbucks, and many more mammals and birds. The highlight of the day was probably seeing a ⁠pod of hippos emerge from the water to the beach. ⁠

⁠People can heal.

Animals can recover.

Land can be restored.

Rwanda teaches this lesson better than any other country I’ve seen. ⁠

(Join me in Rwanda for the trip of a lifetime!)

My Husband Wasn’t Vegan When I Met Him

No, my husband wasn’t vegan when I met him. I was pescatarian on the verge of vegetarian, and he was a meat-eater. If I hadn’t dated David because he wasn’t vegan, I would have missed out dating and then marrying the most giving, generous, compassionate, kind, patient person I know (25 years ago). Because of those qualities, he became vegan a few months after I did. ⠀

Don’t let someone “being vegan” to be your barometer for getting to know them or for dating them. You will narrow down your pool considerably. Let character, integrity, compassion, and openness be your barometers. And, likewise, be as open, compassionate, and full of integrity as you expect others to be.

Humane Critter (aka Pest) Control

Every one of us has had to manage what to do when uninvited guests take up residence in our attics, walls, or basements. Sadly, we’re too quick to consider them “pests” and take lethal measures to get rid of them. But even when we want to take compassionate action, we may be deceived or making it worse for the animal. Listen to this important episode about how to change our perception and behavior and still humanely deal with rats, squirrels, raccoons, and even cockroaches.

The first-EVER vegan tours to the south of France!

People often ask me how to find plant-based cuisine while traveling around the world, and I often remind them that fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, lentils, herbs, and spices are kind of universal. They’re not just for vegans. 

I also assure them that cities (more than rural areas) always have international restaurants at which you can find delicious animal-free meals. 

However, one region that can be particularly difficult to enjoy  culinarily without feeling deprived is the south of France. While Paris (as most cities) is more progressive than the rest of the country when it comes to vegan restaurants, shops, and attitudes, the south of France … less so. Although you won’t starve (your best bet is to rent a house with a kitchen so you can prepare your own meals), your food choices will be very limited when eating out. The above said plant foods are tainted by dairy-based cheeses, animal-derived cream, fish sauces and pastes, and animal fat, particularly fat from ducks.

Marseille is the seafood capital of Provence (hence, bouillabaisse), lamb and beef are the most popular meats from land animals,  foie gras is common everywhere, and duck fat is the preferred cooking fat—ruining even the favorite default of every desperate vegan: french fries.

That’s where CPG Vegan Trips / World Vegan Travel comes in. We have JUST RELEASED to the public our Summer 2020 trips: to the enchanting Dordogne region and to the charming Provence region.

Aside from the 4- and 5-star accommodations, incredible excursions, outdoor adventures we will be enjoying, our travelers will also get to partake in the local cuisine—animal-product-free. Of course where are a few local dishes that are already plant-based by default, such as ratatouille and pistou, but we go above and beyond to feature vegan versions of the dishes that make this region famous, such as:

  •  bouillabaisse
  • tapenade
  • salade nicoise
  • tarte au citron
  • ‘faux’ gras
  • various cheeses
  • and so much more!

Partnered with my good friends and travel aficionados World Vegan Travel, I am so thrilled to offer these two exciting trips—the first-EVER vegan tours to these regions. You can sign up for each separately or sign up for both and get a discount. 

All of the details are on the websites below, where you can also see and sign up for our last vegan trip for 2020: to beautiful Botswana and Cape Town (only a few spots left)!

Dordogne, France (June 2020)
Provence, France (July 2020)
Botswana & Cape Town (December 2020)

These trips sell out very quickly, so don’t delay! By securing your spot TODAY, you have ONE YEAR to prepare for these 2020 trips! Visit WorldVeganTravel.com to learn more, ask questions, and secure your spot! 

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PREVIOUS AND ONGOING CPG VEGAN TRIPS:

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Our vegan trips are all about ANIMAL PROTECTION, DELICIOUS REGIONAL PLANT-BASED  CUISINE, LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE, JOY, and SO MUCH LAUGHTER. We’re all about spoiling you! You can get a sense of the awesomeness of our 5-star trips watching this video from our Thailand trip.