Part I: Ellie Laks, The Gentle Barn
Ellie Laks is the Founder of The Gentle Barn Foundation, a national organization that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted animals, and heals people with the same stories of abuse and neglect. She is a celebrated animal welfare advocate, humane educator, and the author of My Gentle Barn: Creating a sanctuary where animals heal and children learn to hope. Ellie founded The Gentle Barn in 1999. She invented her own “Gentle Healing method” that allows old, sick, injured and terrified animals to fully recover using a mixture of Western medicine, holistic healing modalities, holding therapy and lots of love. Ellie is an expert in healing orphaned and sick animals, like puppies with Parvo and calves from veal crates. Ellie has hosted hundreds of thousands of at-risk, inner city and special needs children, war veterans, seniors, victims of domestic violence, and those in recovery from drug, alcohol, and gang affiliation. Ellie has appeared on some of the most influential media outlets including The Ellen Show, People Magazine, Life Magazine, Animal Planet, The Huffington Post, Turning point, Women’s World, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, The NY Times, and many more. Ellie is a highly sought after and very effective guest speaker who has presented at Animal Rights conferences, Environmental conferences, Eco Feminism summits, Veg festivals, Pet expos, universities and high schools, Self discovery conferences, and corporate functions that serve to motivate the audience towards higher awareness, profound compassion, realizing dreams, greater sense of trust, and an enhanced sense of purpose. She was the keynote speaker at The Difference Maker series, Phoenix House, and The Los Angeles Green Fest. To date Ellie has saved hundreds of animals and hosted over 300,000 guests. The Gentle Barn is currently home to approximately 200 animals. The Gentle Barn has two locations in Santa Clarita, California and Knoxville, Tennessee. It is her goal to build Gentle Barns in every state in America, “Teaching people kindness and compassion to animals, each other and our planet.” For more information, please visit: gentlebarn.org.
Since 2009, It’s All About Food, has been bringing you the best in up-to-date news regarding food and our food system. Hosted by Caryn Hartglass, a vegan since 1988, the program includes in-depth interviews with medical doctors; nutritionists; dieticians; cook book authors; athletes; environmental, animals and health activists; farmers; food manufacturers; lawyers; food scientists and more. Learn about how we can solve many of the world’s problems today and do it deliciously, here on It’s All About Food.
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
I’m a little choked up imagining that imagery she offered us just now. The book is great, The Gentle Barn, and you will have, if you do not have profound appreciation right now for what this person has done, you will have even more so where she came from and the challenges she faced. I feel really honored right now to be able to have that conversation, and I want to take in all of that because I so needed it. How about you? Did you need that?
I’d love to know what you thought about the conversation just now. Send me your comments anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember that we cannot make change with the darkness that’s all around us from the dark. We need to find the light. Find the light within us. It is there. It is burning. You need to feed it, breathe into it, imagine it, and share it.
This concept of perception – I had not quite heard of perception in the context that Ellie mentioned it, but I want to expand on that now that she has put that into my mind. Perception is such a powerful thing. When I talked to people who were in a health crisis and sharing my experience with cancer, I often mentioned Dr. Bruce Lipton and his audio program The Wisdom of the Self. The things he talks about have to do with what ourselves perceive. Our 50-100 trillion cells in our bodies, our cells, perceive the environment that is presented to them. The environment they perceive, not necessarily the real environment, and what that means for a health perspective is that if we are giving our body messages that aren’t healthy images and comments all the time, our self will respond to us and respond accordingly, making us ill. If we encourage ourselves to be strong, to be the best they are, to be cheerleaders for our own selves within our bodies, we can see powerful, positive effects on our own personal health. I know it worked with me. That is why mediation is so important on so many levels. It can make us healthier. It can make us conquer fear if we are afraid of a health crisis or even the world around us, which can be extremely scary.
This idea of perception – I am expanding it now. I am focusing on what has to do with our bodily cells, but if we expand on what we perceive, everything, if we take that imagery that Ellie gave us and focus on that, I want to think that our exterior environment can become what we perceive it to be. Some people might say this is really simpleminded thinking. I do not. I think it is powerful. At the very, very minimum, it feels good, and that is what life is about: living through each moment in time. Last week, I talked about there is no time because our lives consist of moments. Right now, there is only right now. There is not the past. There is not the future. There is only present and focusing on that moment. Finding ways to feel good in the moment is the way to enjoy life and focusing on imagery on how we want the world to be instead of bringing ourselves down all the time, how the world currently is, I think will really help.
Now this needs to be coupled with action! We all need to be doing things to help make the world a better place and not just thinking about it, but doing. Sometimes visualizing first helps us with what needs to be done and what we can personally do.
You know, part of that, in response to living, primarily what we focus on here on this program, I like to stick with the positive I like to stick with the joy. Occasionally, we talk about the dark things, but I like to think that when we do, we wrap it around lots of light and positivity. I do not like to focus on the horrible things that we are doing on this planet. They are infinite. Let us focus on all the great things we can do. Ellie is a prime example of that. Now let us talk about some more good news! I made a whole list of things I want to talk about, and it is funny because I never get to everything. Here is some good news.
I want to put this together in the right order here, so we are talking about plant-based foods, and what is in a name? We have talked a number of times on this program how I think the 21st century is going to be about taking products that are made, in part, from animal ingredients and making them with plant ingredients. This is a trend. There is investment behind it, and it is a wonderful thing. We saw a lot of passion going on with mayonnaise last year, where there where Hampton Creek foods were doing really well at getting their plant-based, just mayonnaise, products on the shelves. There were other big mayonnaise out there, but the Hampton Creek was making the big splash. Unilever, the company that makes Hellman’s and Bestfoods, got nervous and slapped the lawsuit on Hampton Creek. In the end, they realized what they were doing was ridiculous, trying to capitalize on the name ‘mayonnaise’, saying that mayonnaise was only mayonnaise if it has eggs in it. They ended up making their own plant-based mayonnaise. If you can’t beat them, join them.
We are seeing a lot of that with other products. There has not been a lot of buzz about milk until recently, but there are some folks that are trying to hold on to the word ‘milk’ and have it only mean ‘milk from a dairy cow.’ Did you read the letter that one senator from Vermont presented and is creating a campaign to get the FDA to look at not allowing manufacturers of plant-based milk to call them milk? It is kind of ridiculous. The argument behind it is that the consumer is going to be fooled, the consumer is going to be confused and were actually – I like to believe and think that we are all more informed than some of the people who want to think – For the most part, I want to think that the people who are buying almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, even milk of magnesia – I think they know they’re not getting cow’s milk, and they’re buying it on purpose. We should see this change and hopefully for the better, but this new administration that is coming in may change everything for a while. That is why we need to be vigilant.
On the subject of plant-based products coming in, being accepted and being profitable, which is important in a capitalistic society, we have Miyoko’s Vegan Butter. Have you tried it? Miyoko’s Kitchen has European-style, cultured, vegan butter. I tried it, and I have to say that it was surprisingly good, where it had this lingering flavor that reminded me of butter, cow’s butter. It did that without the sickening flavor I remember about butter and milk. It is a really good product, and it works really well. Trader Joe’s is now offering the palm-oil-free, vegan product at 226 stores nationwide, and this is something to celebrate.
I personally do not eat a lot of butter. I eat it as a treat from time to time, but to get to move people across the plant, across to food continuums and move towards plant-based products, this is a beautiful thing. I am sure we will have some Congress people say that we can’t call this butter because it is not made from cow, but we are changing that, and that is exciting.
Can I tell you what else is exciting to me? Have I talked about corn thins before? If you read my blog, What Vegans Eat at ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com, occasionally I sing praises about corn thins. Here in California, we did our first shopping here when we got here, and we do not have a big space in this pool house we are staying in – limited refrigeration – so we have to be careful about what we get. At the same time, we have to be careful that we have foods that we like and are good for us, so we wanted to have corn thins because I like to call them a great vehicle for smears. We like them with peanut butter, with almond butter. We make hummus and avocado, and it is quick and easy and sometimes very helpful.
We found them at Whole Foods. Thank you, Whole Foods. They are organic. I think they come from Australia, from a company called Real. These are real corn thins, so I relate to them calling their food real, but I went to grab them, and they have several different kinds. My partner Gary was surprised when I said, “No, no, no. We do not want the original. We want the kind with the Sesame seeds.” The original corn thins have oil in them. I really do not think that that is a necessary thing to have oil in our corn thins, so I get the corn thins with sesame. It has a tiny little bit of salt, and that is all they are made of. They are really fabulous, but it made me think about the importance of label-reading, and there are a lot of things going on right now about label-reading. It is a little entertaining, I think. Just last week – you may have seen it – the FDA came out with the new nutrition labeling guidelines. What is really fun to look at is their PDF Q&A on their nutrition supplement facts on the labels related to the compliance state, added sugar, declaration of quantitative amounts of vitamins and minerals, guidance for the industry. You read this, you realize it is amazing for the food manufacturers to determine the nutritional value of their foods, what they have to report, what they can report, what they can not report, and what they can kind of get away with. What it says to me, frankly, is that I want to eat whole foods that do not require these crazy labelings. There is so much description here about what can be called added sugar and not added sugar. It is a fascinating read. There are a number of things that are happening. One of them, for example, is amending the definition of a single-serving container. I am going to be curious how that pans out because you may know how manufacturers have used the serving size to dupe us in some ways because if they make the serving size small enough, then they do not have to report things like hydrogenated oils, a number of things that make the number of calories look very low, the amount of serving size. When the serving size is very small, it is not a realistic serving size. My understanding is the serving size will be a little more realistic, and it will be fun to read new nutrition labels. The thing is they will not be coming out until 2018 and 2019. And that is, of course, if the new administration does not repeal the whole thing.
Another FDA labeling thing, that came out a month ago, December 2015, in New York, for chain restaurants – we require that everything on the menu lists calories, and the FDA is going to try and make this happen around the country. We will see if it happens soon, and I have mixed feelings for it. We like to eat at The Daily Bread. It is a restaurant that originated in Belgium, – Brussells, I think – and we have many of them in New York City. When I am reading a menu of what I think are healthy items, I see the calories, I am always like, “Whoa!”, because I do not think about calories when I am eating. Sometimes, I think I might want to buy more calories by dollar than less calories because if I am getting lentils and onions and all these foods that are good for me, maybe I want to have a few more than a few less. This is a good thing for people to see in fast food chains. It is not particularly healthy to see how many calories are in their muffin or whatever else it is they choose to eat, and they will be surprised with how much salt, sugar, and fat is in so many of these foods. My recommendation, of course, is to eat a whole foods, plant-based diet! Keep it simple. Keep it minimal. Find your kitchen. Make wonderful foods there, where you know what is in everything, and you will be so thankful for that. Your body will thank you, too, and yourself will perceive only good things. That is what I wish for you.
Thanks for listening today on It’s All About Food. I am Caryn Hartglass. You can find me on responsibleeatingandliving.com. I would love to hear from you at email@example.com. and have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Emma Weiss, 2/13/2017