Earlier this fall, before the rain and snow arrived, I went to the park to read and looked up to find myself surrounded by wild turkeys. (Click here to see them chowing down not far from my picnic blanket.)
I’ve seen them before, usually up on the hiking trails, so it was wonderful to find them in the park (dogs aren’t allowed in Lithia Park, which makes it a haven for all sorts of wildlife…bears and cougars have also been seen here). The turkeys hung around for a while, then wandered off, then eventually wandered back, coming almost close enough for me to reach out and pet them (not that I’d have dared). A man who was photographing them commented that I was a “turkey magnet,” which I’m not sure was meant to be flattering, but I decided to take it as a compliment. (Here’s another short video of them walking around. Listen for the gobble.)
Later, a family of deer came grazing through the meadow, and one of the curious little fawns went up to check out the turkeys. The two were about the same size, and I expected the turkeys to hurry off; instead, one of them went right up to the fawn, as if to say, “Off you go; this is my territory.” The fawn looked surprised, and a little hurt, then took off running. The turkey went back to foraging. I captured part of their standoff in this photo:
I loved reading this article about turkeys, which has all sorts of wonderful details about their social nature. Did you know for example, that turkeys like to eat breakfast and dinner together as a family? That they like to listen to music? And that, after trust has been established, they love to be petted and will even make a sound similar to a cat’s purring? Read this piece for all the reasons we should celebrate turkeys this Thanksgiving — in the wild, and not on our plates.
We printed up a whole bunch of ReadVeg stickers to help support Portland’s Northwest VegFest. While there’s a lot of wonderful and important nonfiction about animals, the environment, and other reasons to be veg, we especially love discovering great fiction that tackles these issues, and we decided that these stickers are a great way to get the word out about eco-fiction and veg lit.
Check out our Veg Lit page for great stories that are redefining what it means to be a vegan or vegetarian. (In these novels, vegans are mainstream characters, not fringe characters.)
For example, in Falling Into Green, the main character is an eco-psychologist who believes a vegan diet helps the planet. And in The Dragon Keeper, the main character is a zoologist who does not believe in eating animals.
We also publish a young adult trilogy, and the first two books are currently available: Out of Breath and The Ghost Runner. In these books, not only is the main character vegan, but even the books’ paranormal characters are headed in that direction.
Whether you’re part of an organization or just a veg reader yourself, we’d love to send you a few stickers! All you need to do is send us a self-addressed stamped envelope (address below), and we’ll mail them to you.
John and I were privileged to spend another afternoon at the Equamore horse sanctuary, for a very special event: the one-year anniversary of Sara and her “person,” Equamore board vice-president Ruth Kennedy.
Being a “person” to Sara means walking, grooming, and visiting her — as well as proffering treats (Sara and Ruth share an apple at the end of nearly every day). After Sara was rescued from severe neglect by Equamore back in 2008, she was placed twice in adopted homes and twice returned. In February of 2010, the sanctuary became her permanent home — and the extra attention of having a special person in her life has really helped relax her, Ruth says. And this is something well worth celebrating.
This festive array of flowers, cider, and cupcakes was originally in front of Sara’s stall but had to be moved away due to her nibbling. And though Sara didn’t get the cupcakes she was after, she did get her share of celebratory treats, including her daily apple.
Sara and the other forty-six rescued and retired horses at Equamore are among the very lucky ones — only a fraction of the horses in need find sanctuary at places like this. Equamore receives numerous calls from desperate owners who can no longer care for their horses, as well as from concerned citizens who see cruelty or neglect and are helpless to intervene. You can help in many ways—from sponsoring a horse ($350 per month) to feeding one horse for a week ($12 per month) to making a one-time donation; every bit helps! Visit Equamore’s website, www.equamore.org, for more information—and click here to learn how to donate and/or volunteer.
I am always amazed and awed by those who dedicate their lives to helping animals — while the rewards are many, it’s also incredibly challenging work, not only physically but emotionally. It’s always wonderful to find yet another organization devoted to helping animals live safe, healthy, happy lives after being neglected or abused … and Ashland’s Equamore Foundation is one of these places.
At its sanctuary just outside Ashland, Equamore and its staff and volunteers currently care for forty-six retired and formerly abused, neglected, or abandoned horses. John and I were privileged to meet about a dozen of these magnificent creatures one recent afternoon, and I wanted to share a couple of their stories to highlight what amazing work this organization is doing.
Destiny is a stunning Thoroughbred mare whose owners had planned to put her down because they “didn’t want her anymore.” She was thin, needed basic hoof and dental care, and had a bad wound on her hoof that still causes her to occasionally lose her balance. Because she has arthritis in both knees, she is not fit to ride — but thanks to the Equamore Foundation and a sponsorship, she will live out the rest of her life, safe and sound and well cared for, at the sanctuary. As you can see, she is still a little thin — but absolutely beautiful.
Another rescue, Star, had been left to starve in a field at the age of three. Seized by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, she was transported to the sanctuary by Equamore volunteers, where she could receive care and food. Here are a couple photos of Star from around the time she was rescued.
Star had never worn a halter and was afraid of humans, but after several weeks, volunteers were able to gain her trust and lead her out to the field for exercise. She is now doing so well it’s hard to imagine her once having been fearful of humans — when I met her, she was friendly and affectionate, and she happily and gently ate carrots from my hand. Just look at this sweet face.
To learn more about Equamore, visit the website, where you can read about the horses and the rescue efforts, about boarding and training (these services help support the organization’s mission), about events, and about how to donate. For as little as $12 a month (just 4o cents a day!), you can help feed a horse for a week; you can also make a one-time donation or become a volunteer. I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired by their good work as we are.
Q: What gave you the idea for The Lithia Trilogy? Did it begin as a trilogy or as just one book?
A: I remember watching the Twilight movie and silently simmering as Ed Cullen explained how he and his family were “vegetarian” vampires. Ed Cullen may be easy on the eyes, but he’s no vegetarian. I guess we were supposed to feel better that the Cullens only killed animals instead of people, but I wasn’t sold on the idea. I love animals. So I went home and tried to forget about it, but I just couldn’t. And soon my crazy imagination took over, and I began thinking about the character of Kat—a young woman, a runaway, who hides out in a small town in southern Oregon.
I had a feeling when I set out to write Out of Breath that I wouldn’t say everything I wanted in just one book. But I didn’t think then I had a trilogy in me—and I’m still not completely sure (I’m still working on book three!).
What I did know is that I wanted to write a book set in southern Oregon. I live here and love the area and the people, and it’s hard for my mind not to imagine paranormal stories set here.
I knew I wanted to write a book about a runaway who takes cover in a magical town of many secrets, only to realize that she cannot outrun her past. I wanted to write about a young woman who believes she can make a difference in the world. And succeeds, in ways she doesn’t expect. And I wanted to write a book about love. About how love can turn a person—even a vampire—into something different, something better.
And as it turned out, I couldn’t say everything I wanted to say even in two books. That’s when I knew it would be a trilogy. And then, I think I’ll be done!
Q: Is the character of Kat based on you? That is, are you also a vegan and a competitive runner?
A: I wish I was as good a runner as Kat! But she and I do share a love of animals and nature. I think Kat is the person I wish I was when I was much younger. A strong-willed woman with unending optimism about changing the planet.
Q: What made you decide to use vampires as an analogy for writing about animal protection and veganism?
A: First, I love vampire novels. I’m attracted to lost and damaged souls, and vampires fit the bill. But I also thought that if a vampire could give up on blood, there would be hope for all of us.
I believe everyone is capable of making great changes in their lives. Giving up meat was, for me, an extremely difficult change. My family wasn’t supportive. I alienated a few good friends (and made a few new friends along the way). And I mostly felt alienated myself. Because vegans are still a minority in the world.
I realized that there were emotional similarities between a vegan (Kat) and a vampire (Roman) and I wanted to explore this more.
Q: Why do you write for young adults rather than an adult audience?
A: My books may be labeled YA, but I first write for myself, which I suppose makes me an overgrown young adult. But I guess I also focus on young adults because they are our future. And if this world is going to be saved—and I believe it will—it will be thanks to this generation. My generation (and I won’t be any more specific than that) has kicked the environmental can down the road for far too long. The younger generation is not going to repeat our mistakes. At least that’s my hope.
Q: What do you hope your readers learn from reading your books?
A: I hope readers enjoy the journey as much as I have. I hope they love Kat and maybe learn a thing or two about Oregon—also about how veganism and environmentalism are so closely connected. And I hope young people are inspired to change the world.