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I've got a lot to say, and I do so in various mediums, including my books, National Public Radio (for whom I'm a contributor), articles, and essays. Read my writings here.

Recent Writings

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As you can imagine, I read a lot of animal-related books: some inspiring, some depressing, some educational, some all of the above. One of the first things David and I do when traveling is visit the local bookstore. He goes straight to the poetry section, then philosophy. I go straight to nature/animals, then fiction. We have culled many books over the years, but we still can't resist looking -- and often buying.

Although we have hundreds of books, we're the kind of people who organize them into sections. (We met working in a bookstore, for goodness' sake; what can I say?) And so, I give you just one section of the bookshelves in my office - all related to non-human animals, animal rights, animal behavior, animal exploitation, and so on. What you can't see are those I have stored on my Kindle!

I have so many books to recommend, but in the spirit of Christmas -- in the spirit of hope and promise, of compassion and goodness, I'd like to share with you 10 books I've read in the last few years that I think would make lovely gifts for people in your life. Although in...

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Having just come off of watching BBC America's Copper (a little violent for the squeamish but fantastic) and BBC Two's Peaky Blinders (a little violent for the squeamish but fantastic), I felt it was time to turn to seasonal schmaltz.

I thought you might be interested in my faves. Some are classics, some will be no surprise, some omissions may upset you, and some won't make sense unless you understand British television: i.e. the Brits LOVE their Christmas specials. It's absolutely amazing to see how British TV works; a comedy series could skip an entire season, but they'll still have their Christmas special! OK - here are my favorite holiday movies and TV specials in no particular order. By the end, you may wonder why I didn't include some of your favorites. Read on to find out why.

1. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) - I cry every time Rudolph is shunned by his father and Santa. Then, when he proves himself to be worthy, he's accepted! What kind of model is that?? Still, I love me my Rudolph and his nasally little voice. (And who doesn't love the Bumble?)...

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The hardest thing I've learned about this 25-day endeavor is not finding ways to celebrate the spirit of the holiday but taking the time to blog about them! In the last several days, we've hung more Christmas decorations, had friends over for pre-holiday drinks, met friends for ice skating to celebrate a friend's birthday, sent out Christmas cards, and decided on presents for family and started ordering / wrapping them. I've even got some photos to prove some of these!

Today, I awoke at my normal 6:00 a.m. time, read a bit in the Christmas Room (what I'm calling my livingroom while the lights are up!), then started making Caramel Popcorn from The Joy of Vegan Baking before I started my work day.

It's another wonderfully rainy day, but I have to venture out to deliver the goods to more unsuspecting neighbors (see previous blog posts to understand my wily ways). It's a pretty easy recipe to make, but you have to turn...

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Join me today as I discuss the bullhook ban victory in my own city of Oakland, CA and how it is a small step indeed. I believe there will come a day in my lifetime when we see the end of animals in circuses, but until then, we're forced to make frustratingly small, incremental steps toward that aim. I also share a couple phone calls and announce the arrival of The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. Thank you to listener support and that of American Anti-Vivisection Society and FakeMeats.com. Music by Gosta Berling.

Read my statement to the Oakland City Council - mentioned in this episode of the podcast.

You can listen via by subscribing to the RSS feed or listening through...

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Between California's 3-year-long drought and my desire to justify staying inside and baking for the holidays, I've been quite looking forward to the rain storm that descended upon us early this morning.

Waking up to the sound of pouring rain was an absolute waking dream, and I relished every moment of it during my morning tea. And my morning shower. And my working day. I'm still relishing it now as I write this.

Early this morning, I knew I'd want to take a break from work at some point and invite a friend over to bake and commiserate. I immediately thought of my neighbor Donna, who a) wouldn't have to drive over in the storm (because she lives just five houses down) and b) would be home today because - as a guidance counselor in a high school - she would be given the day off. (Make fun of us all you want, but our local schools were closed today because of the rain storm.) She immediately said yes and planned to come over in the late afternoon.

I greeted her with a pot of hot cocoa and a (thoroughly beaten up) copy of...

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As part of a larger plan to regulate the treatment of circus animals in Oakland, an ordinance to ban the use of bullhooks on elephants was brought before the City Council earlier than expected. It cannot be overstated how much this was due to the commitment and compassion of City Council Members Dan Kalb, Noel Gallo, and Libby Schaaf (also Mayor Elect!). They understood the basic morality behind this ban and worked incredibly hard to make sure this ordinance passed. They need to be thanked by constituents and non-constituents alike. (Please click on each of their names above to send them a quick thank you via email!)

The main opponents of the bill, of course, were the people who gain the most, namely those who exploit animals for human pleasure. Feld Entertainment, owner of Ringling Circus, had originally threatened to pull all of their shows (animal and non-animal) from Oakland (thus threatening jobs of union workers and revenue to the city), and...

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Truth be told, I didn't need to create a blog series called "25 Days in the Spirit of Christmas" in order to get me in the Christmas spirit, but today, it helped. It helped because the morning was busier and crazier than I expected it to be, and by 1:30 p.m., I was hungry, tired, and grumpy.

I made myself a hearty kale salad and decided it was time to get off the computer and go for a walk! That would have been my plan even I didn't have 12 bags of vegan goodies to stealthily drop off at neighbors' doors. But it helped that I was going for a walk - not just for its own sake - but in order to play elf again and anonymously gift my neighbors with treats. Today, those treats consisted of a combination of Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies and Snowballs (a.k.a. Mexican Wedding Cookies) - both from The Joy of Vegan Baking.

I had spent a couple hours on Sunday baking and packing them up, so delivering them was already on my list of things to do today, and it helped today because...

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I honestly cannot put Christmas music on a day earlier than Thanksgiving, and hearing stores play it before then is like nails on a chalkboard, but once Thanksgiving is over...look out: Christmas music fills my ears and my home for the entire season.

I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas (and many other things), and my favorite carols lean this way, as well. Although I enjoy a few secular songs, especially Winter Wonderland, Silver Bells, White Christmas, Deck the Halls, I can't get enough of the more Christian-based ones. Perhaps it was my Catholic upbringing, but I just find them incredibly moving. I can listen over and over to:

We Three Kings, Silent Night, In the Bleak Midwinter, Away in a Manger, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, Do You Hear What I Hear, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Little Drummer Boy, O Little Town of Bethlehem, What Child is This (Greensleeves), The First Noel - and my perennial favorite: O Holy Night.

Although I'm too shy to go caroling (our neighbors organize a hot-cocoa and caroling night every...

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We all - vegan or not - struggle with finding just the right holiday gift for our loved ones and with what to do when we receive something that doesn't reflect our taste or ethics. For vegans, the latter often involves receiving animal-based products, such as those made with leather, wool, cashmere, or other animal foods and fibers.

To help, I made a video on receiving and giving VEGAN HOLIDAY GIFTS to offer guidance for pro-actively avoiding that situation in the first place but also for responding with gratitude and grace to whatever gift we do receive.

In the video, I also provide lots of suggestions for creative gift ideas (for human and companion animal friends!) - some of which involve food, some of which involve donating to charity, and I explain that we CAN reflect our values of compassion as well as honor our relationships at the same time. It just takes a little forethought, openness, and willing to communicate. (You even get to...

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For the past 25 years or so (wow! I'm old enough now to start a sentence like that), I've been collecting Christmas ornaments. "Collecting" might misrepresent it a bit, but wherever we travel and whenever holiday craft stalls start selling their wares, I always buy a couple ornaments for our tree and as gifts to give others.

When I was in my early 20s, I went through a Victorian stage, and I still have a number of delicate handmade ornaments from that era. They transport me back to that time in my life, but they're a little too pink for me these days. Still, I would feel guilty not hanging them on the tree (if only in the back).

For the last dozen years or so, I've been buying mostly animal ornaments, which now dominate the tree. There are countless cats (some of which were gifts), lots of squirrels, quite a few birds - and an array of other critters. We have a whale, a fox, a raccoon, a seahorse, several elephants, a fish, a dog, a hippo, a giraffe, a mouse, an owl, and many, many more.

But I bought my two favorite ornaments at a local store in Oakland...

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