Blossom the turkey and Minnow the dog have something in common — they were both once thought of only as “food.” Minnow was rescued from a South Korean meat farm in 2015, and Blossom was saved last year from a commercial turkey farm in West Virginia. Today they share a home with Abbie Hubbard, and are like any other family. They go on hikes together, snuggle on the sofa and greet Abbie at the door. “When I put the keys in, I hear Blossom make loud chirping sounds in excitement,” Abbie, who is the Animal Rescue Responder for Humane Society International, tells LAIKA. “She always comes running, and it makes my heart do flips of joy.”

Blossom (left) and Minnow out on a walk. Photo: Abbie Hubbard.

Abbie recalls once being asked by a reporter in South Korea what it was like to have a dog that was different from other ‘meat’ dogs. She explained that Minnow is no different, and that her heart is the same as all other dogs. “I often think about that question in regards to Blossom,” she says. “My response would be that she, too, is no different — her heart is the same as all other beings.”

While Abbie was already vegan when Blossom came to live with her and her dog Minnow, it was through Blossom that she gained a deeper understanding of turkeys — starting with the very first night she took her home. “Blossom watched as I pet Minnow and seemed to recognize that I was a source of kindness and was a safe being,” Abbie says. “Shortly after, Blossom came and settled into the crook of my arm. It’s hard to describe that moment without crying. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

Blossom with one of her favorite toys. Photo: Abbie Hubbard.

Among the many things that Blossom enjoys is hearing a good beat. Abbie says that “if she is in another room and I turn on music, she comes running!” Her very favorite food is hummus, and her second favorite is watermelon. She loves hanging out in the kitchen when Abbie is cooking. She relishes a good head scratch and will rest her head in Abbie’s hand to receive cuddles. “She allows herself to be vulnerable with me, and I always recognize those moments,” says Abbie. “It feels like such an honor, especially knowing what people do to turkeys and other farmed animals.”

“That my dog Minnow has been deemed a companion by our society and my turkey Blossom has been deemed food is completely arbitrary.”

Every year, 46 million turkeys are slaughtered for Thanksgiving, and another 200 million throughout the year. Killed at barely four months old and not protected by the Humane Slaughter Act, their lives are short and agonizing. Abbie has witnessed how easily Blossom gets frightened in the safety of her home, whether it’s by the doorbell, loud noises outside or even the soundtrack of a scary movie (This past Halloween, she got spooked when Abbie was watching Poltergeist and hid in the living room. “I turned the film off and went to comfort her,” Abbie says.) These moments offer a small glimpse into how terrifying daily life must be for turkeys on farms. In fact, it was this fear of danger that led to Blossom being rescued from that West Virginia facility. When the five-week-old turkeys were being moved to a “grow out house” to be fattened up for slaughter, she hid for days behind a piece of equipment. A farm worker who discovered her decided to mercifully surrender her to a local rescue.

Minnow and Blossom. Photo: Abbie Hubbard.

These days, Blossom and Minnow are deeply connected. Because she is 30 pounds and can’t get up the stairs (turkeys are bred to grow unnaturally large quickly), Blossom sleeps downstairs. And Minnow stays right there by her side, keeping her company through the night. “That my dog Minnow has been deemed a companion by our society and my turkey Blossom has been deemed food is completely arbitrary,” Abbie says. “Blossom has the same depth and range of feeling. She bonds with others. She plays. She doesn’t like being alone. She hurts and she loves. Blossom is completely and entirely my companion for the same reasons Minnow is my companion.”

There’s no need to uphold traditions that don’t reflect our inherent values of love, compassion and respect. We asked Tere Fox, co-founder and executive chef of the famed NYC restaurant-turned-catering-company Rockin’ Raw, to share the recipes for two of her most beloved dishes. These mouth-watering King Trumpet Vegan Scallops and Heart of Palm Vegan Crab Cakes are festive and unique, and best of all — no one was harmed in the process.

  

King Trumpet Vegan Scallops
Serves 6

5-6 king trumpet mushrooms
1 cup veggie broth
½ cup nori or dry seaweed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper

1. Mix the veggie broth with the seaweed and garlic in a bowl, and set aside.
2. Chop the mushroom stems into 1” thick pieces (I can usually get 4-5 pieces per mushroom.)
3. Set mushroom pieces in a deep dish or baking pan and pour the veggie broth mixture over them. Let stand for 20-30 minutes.
4. Heat a sauté pan on medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or any vegetable oil you have on hand.
5. Place mushrooms neatly into the pan and sear on both sides for 5-8 minutes total.
6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sautéed spinach or fresh greens.

If you want to make this a raw dish, soak mushrooms in 2 cups filtered water, 1 large piece of kombu, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 2 teaspoon minced garlic for 3 hours. Then serve over baby arugula or any of your favorite greens.

Heart of Palm Vegan Crab Cakes
Makes about 24 patties

1- 15 ounce can drained chickpea (keep liquid)
2-15 ounce can heart of palm
¼ cup vegan mayo
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 tablespoon
3 tablespoon chickpea liquid
1 teaspoon tamari
⅓ cup scallions minced
2 cup bread crumbs plus 2 cups breadcrumbs for breading the cake cakes
2 teaspoon spicy mustard
2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 sheet of nori or ½ cup of salted seaweed snack
1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
2 teaspoon dried or fresh parsley

For the breading and frying of the patties:
3 cups avocado oil for frying
1 cup plant based milk for breading only
1 cup flour for breading only

1. In a bowl, add the chickpeas and heart of palm. Hand mash until slightly chunky and smooth, and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the chickpea liquid until slightly foamy. Then add vegan mayo, lemon juice, tamari, mustard, and all of the herbs and spices. Mix well.
3. Combine the chickpeas and heart of palm mash with the chickpea liquid mix, along with the 2 cups of breadcrumbs, and the scallions into the mixing bowl.
4. Set mixture in the freezer to set for 20-30 minutes.
5. Create a flouring station: 1 cup any plant based milk, 1 cup flour, 2 cups bread crumbs.
6. Remove mixture from freezer, lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and start to bread. Make 3 ounce circle-shaped cakes, dip in the milk, then dip in the flour, then dip in the breadcrumbs until completely covered. Set aside.
7. Heat up frying oil in any 3″ deep pan. Test with a drop of water or piece of bread to make sure oil is ready for frying. (You will know it is ready to fry when it sizzles and bubbles with the test ingredient.)
8. Then submerge 3-4 patties at a time, and fry for 3 minutes until golden brown.
9. Let cool on unwaxed parchment paper for 2 minutes, then serve.

For garnish, or to use as dip: Blend ½ cup dill, 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, and 2 cups mayo until smooth.

If you would like to get to know a turkey in real life, volunteer at your local sanctuary. We recommend signing up to clean a turkey barn! You can also sponsor a rescued turkey. 

Actress Harley Quinn Smith LAIKA vegan magazine coverDear readers, it is with great joy that we bring you LAIKA Magazine’s 7th issue: the Haven Issue. It’s a shelter from turmoil where justice, equality and empathy are firmly upheld. The Haven issue invites you to create a world in which all are safe and valued. Gracing the cover is vegan actress and passionate animal advocate Harley Quinn Smith, who represents beautifully her generation’s optimism and determination. Inside, she shares a heartfelt open letter to Gen Z about the importance of allyship and the urgency of animal rights.

Harley Quinn Smith LAIKA Magazine vegan fashion

Through fearless journalism and unforgettable photography, the Haven Issue disrupts oppression. We underscore the connection between animal liberation and human liberation in stories like “United We Rise,” which features Aph Ko and Sunaura Taylor, among other brilliant voices from the movement. The stunning feature “She Matters” makes evident how essential asserting animals as individuals is to dismantling speciesism, and why this matters so much to feminism.

Rescued farm animals at sanctuaryIntersectional animal rights activism

Throughout the issue, we celebrate dynamic vegan women like Jenné Claiborne and Madelynn De La Rosa, who are broadening vibrant spaces of creativity and compassion. We demonstrate the beauty of standing up for the vulnerable in stories about kitten rescuer Hannah Shaw and rhino defender Damian Mander.

Sweet Potato Soul YouTuber Jenne ClaiborneThe innocence of animals in the Haven Issue reminds us that on this earth, there is no need to dominate anyone. Life is at its most complete in peaceful co-existence. This is wondrously showcased in “The Last Place on Earth,” which tells the incredible story of how the First Nations communities of the Great Bear Rainforest protected their sacred land, its wildlife and our environment from a destructive pipeline.

Great Bear Rainforest

Every page of the Haven Issue is an artistic statement intended to uplift, energize and provoke discourse and action. With gorgeous imagery and resonating storytelling, LAIKA is an uncompromising source of independent media that provides you, our dear reader, with an immersive experience. Order your copy of the Seventh Issue of LAIKA or subscribe today.

On the Cover: Photography by Ryan Pfluger; creative direction by Julie Gueraseva; styling by Jessica Zanotti. “She Matters” photographed by Sammantha Fisher. “United We Rise” illustrated by Camila Rosa. “From the Soul” photographed by Paige Carter. “The Last Place on Earth” photographed by Jennifer MaHarry.

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What the Health Vegan Documentary Interview

Filmmakers Keegan Kuhn (left) and Kip Andersen. Photo courtesy of “What the Health.”

In a pivotal scene in What the Health, the new documentary from the creators of Cowspiracy, filmmaker Kip Andersen visits families in Duplin County, North Carolina — an area known as the “hog capital of the world,” where confined pigs outnumber people 40 to 1. “My neighbor there died from cancer probably just last year. My nephew down the street, he’s got cancer. Not a smoker, not a drinker,” resident Rene Miller tells Andersen. A stone’s throw from her home pig waste is sprayed weekly into the open air. North Carolina’s pig CAFOs disproportionately affect low-income communities of color, reflecting a pattern “recognized as environmental racism,” a 2014 study found. As the camera pans to containers full of dead pigs left to decompose by the side of the road  ( to be later ground up and fed back to the living pigs) Miller says, “I don’t eat bacon, because I know where it comes from.”

 

WHAT THE HEALTH from AUM Films & Media

 

Animal agriculture is eroding human health, much in the same way as it is decimating communities like the one in Duplin County. A multitude of peer-reviewed studies have linked animal products to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s. Dairy boosts the amount of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) in the blood, which promotes cancer cell growth. Processed meats and eggs are carcinogens , and the list goes on. Yet as we learn in What the Health, not only are leading health organizations dodging discussions on the role of plant-based foods in disease prevention, they are actively recommending the consumption of animal products to sick people.

 

What The Health Documentary Exposes Truth

A still from “What the Health” conveys the truth about carcinogenic properties in a typical bacon-and-eggs breakfast.

In their quest to find out why, Andersen and co-director Keegan Kuhn uncover how the US government, medical industry and health organizations are colluding with animal agriculture in putting the public’s health at risk for the sake of profit. The truth, as it turns out, is stranger than fiction: There’s government-funded marketing schemes to increase meat and cheese consumption; tens of millions of dollars are spent promoting dairy products to children in schools; the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Cancer Society and the USDA’s dietary guidelines committee all take massive donations from the likes of Tyson, National Dairy Council, Oscar Meyer and KFC. And the meat and pharma lobby is so rich and powerful, they’re practically writing the laws.

It’s a harrowing reality, but What the Health is ultimately about self-empowerment. Through compelling interviews with renown physicians, world-class athletes (including LAIKA’s former cover star David Carter) and regular people who have reversed chronic diseases with a vegan diet, the film shows that the solution lies in our hands. “It begins with us now. We can’t rely on the government to do something about this,” Kip Andersen tells LAIKA. “We have to stop eating all horrific animals’ flesh and end it from the demand side up.” Here, Andersen shares with us more candid thoughts on the film’s process and the meaning of true health.

 

Did you face some of the same challenges in making What the Health as you did with Cowspiracy?
The biggest trouble is these organizations that you think would want to talk, similar to Cowspiracy — the environmental NGOs, the health groups — just don’t want to, because they know they are essentially failing the public in telling the truth about what’s causing a lot of these diseases that they are supposedly in the business of trying to help stop or prevent. Cowspiracy was considered groundbreaking because there had only been a couple of people at that point who had really dug deep into the environmental impacts [of animal agriculture]. The medical community is in the dark, but you have quite a few doctors now who are kind of renegades who had to find out [the truth] on their own — of course they didn’t learn about it in medical school. There are a lot more doctors being turned on to the secret of a vegan diet and [its impacts on] health, so it was easier to find more people to talk to in What the Health.

Did making the film make you feel hopeful, then, that widespread awareness in the medical field is imminent?
It’s a matter of time. It’s just been hidden for so long. And in this time we live in, you just can’t hide the truth anymore. I feel What the Health is a big catalyst for getting this into the mainstream. That just has to fall over into the medical field, because people are going to start telling their doctors they’ve watched this movie. In 2-3 years, [this information] is going to be common knowledge. You’re going to see this taught, and known in the medical community.

What compelled you to embark on an undertaking as massive as a feature-length documentary on a highly controversial topic?
It’s personal for me because of my family history. That was the real driving factor. My dad has had several heart blockages. My grandpa died of heart disease and diabetes. I have cancer on both sides, a lot of diabetes. My aunt is dying of diabetes. [My family] always warned me, “Kip, you’re going to have heart disease.” And then to find out, [the cause] is mostly our diet! A lot of this is to, honestly, show my family and friends that I love.

How did you approach making a fact-dense film like What the Health?
It’s so important to have a strong narrative that’s entertaining, so the audience can easily digest it and actually enjoy watching it. A lot of it was about going further into research, finding out about the connections, the money trail. We kept interviewing people, they told us to interview someone else, we looked into that. One thing led to another. Then we laid it out into as entertaining of a story as we could, because there is so much information, like you said. The goal is definitely to get this into the mainstream.

True health is when you consider everything — not just yourself, but your community, the environment, and all the animals living in harmony.

People don’t typically consider the devastating impact that animal agriculture has on communities, like the one you visited near a pig farm in North Carolina. What was that experience like for you?
My Dad lives in North Carolina. I just feel so sad for the people who live anywhere near these awful places. There’s this whole bacon craze, and people think bacon is ‘cool.’ And it’s so not. In North Carolina, you really see the impact of those food choices. This state that is so beautiful is in such a state of urgency. Thousands of fish dead in the beautiful river. With What the Health, we wanted people to realize what true health is. A lot of people think of health as ‘paleo’, which is not [healthy] — you’re only thinking about yourself. True health is when you consider everything — not just yourself, but your community, the environment, and all the animals living in harmony.

What do you think can be done in the more immediate future to help these communities?
Other than lawsuits, a big thing that will progress the truth coming out is processed meat being classified as a carcinogen by WHO (World Health Organization). When something is a classified carcinogen, it has to be labeled. If you get something from The Home Depot that has arsenic, it’s labeled. So it’s just a matter of time before bacon, processed meat, deli slices have a warning label on. And when that happens, it’s going to have a big impact.

At the screening in New York, you said that if 10 percent of population believe in a vegan world, then that world will come to be. How, in your opinion, can we cultivate a sense of optimism, so we can get to that tipping point faster?
If you tell yourself, “I’m not going to be successful,” it’s not going to happen. You could be doing the right things, going to school, getting your master’s. But if you say you’re not going to be successful, you just aren’t. You’re not going to be happy. It’s [the same way] in society and culture as a whole. It sounds kind of cliché, but thoughts become things. The law of attraction is so true. And you have to see it, you have to believe it. These new companies popping up, vegan restaurants, everyone putting billions of dollars into plant based foods, and on and on. And then it hits you — oh my god, this is happening at an exponential rate! This is happening and it’s happening now.  You don’t have to convince 100 percent of the people, you only have to convince around 10 percent, and the rest falls into place. That’s how every social [justice] movement is. You get that core 10 percent of people who really believe, and then it just happens. And it happens fast.

 

By Julie Gueraseva

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