James Crawford (1953-2018)

James Crawford, or Jim as I knew him, was a vegan and animal rights activist. He joined Oxford Vegetarians in 1988, the beginning of 20 years and more of continuous membership, during which time he was an enthusiastic supporter, regularly attending meetings and other events.

Jim was born in Oxford in 1953 and lived in the city all his life, aside from taking a degree course at Birmingham University. There he studied Biology before switching to Geography, appalled by the horrific experiments on animals that biology students were required to perform.  The experience left Jim with a lifelong loathing of vivisection, and he became an outspoken advocate for animal rights.  He was a man of deep conviction who wrote numerous letters to local newsletters putting the vegan/animal rights point of view, and he attended many animal rights marches and protests both locally and nationally.  Nevertheless, Jim was a quiet and thoughtful man, with a droll sense of humour.  He was a talented footballer in his youth and was told that he could become a professional player, but he did not want to make the commitment, and he never settled down to a career after graduation.  Jim was a volunteer at the Vegan Society offices while they were based in Oxford in the late 1980s, and he enjoyed walking in Brasenose Woods and Shotover Country Park, where he loved to watch the deer, rabbits, birds and other wildlife.  He had an extensive CD collection of mainly classical music, and he wrote a comic novel based on his student days called Goal!

In 2012, after spending nearly 8 months in hospital, Jim was diagnosed with a serious illness that left him largely housebound, leaving both Jim and his elderly mother (with whom he lived) dependent on the services of carers. Nevertheless, it was a great shock to Jim’s family when he suddenly passed away on 4 July aged 65, less than a year after his mother had died.  Although I had not seen Jim since 2012 owing to his illness, I shall miss him as a friend and fellow vegan.

Paul Appleby

(The photo below, taken by Joe Halse in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, in January 2012, shows Jim Crawford in the black jacket with, from left to right, Paul Appleby, Anne Orgee and Christine Halse.)

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OxVeg stall at the Elder Stubbs Festival

OxVeg are running a stall at the Elder Stubbs Festival, Elder Stubbs Allotments, Rymers Lane, Oxford, OX4 3EQ, on Saturday 18 August, 12 noon – 5pm.  This year’s theme for this popular annual event in East Oxford is the rainforest.

Ahimsa, the Young Indian Vegetarians newsletter

The Summer 2018 issue of Ahimsa, newsletter of the Young Indian Vegetarians, will be published soon.  To order a free copy send your name and postal address to the editor, Nitin Mehta MBE, at animalahimsa{at}gmail.com .  You can also contact Nitin through his website http://www.nitinmehta.co.uk .

Paul Appleby

If it moves, cull it

A report in The Sunday Times (Badger cull goes national to fury of animal campaigners, Jonathan Leake, 27/5/2018) described how “farmers will be allowed to kill badgers across England with a bounty of up to £50 for each corpse” after environment secretary Michael Gove ruled that culling will now be permitted in ‘low-risk’ areas wherever there is an outbreak of bovine TB (bTB). More than 19,200 badgers were killed in 2017 in a misguided and cruel attempt to limit the spread of bTB.  According to the Badger Trust: “The vast majority of these badgers (over 85%) are likely to (have been) perfectly healthy and TB free and there is little evidence that the tiny proportion that are TB infected pose any major risk of disease transmission to badgers or cattle.” Indeed, the number of cattle slaughtered after testing positive for bTB has risen year on year since the badger cull began.  As the Zoological Society of London recognized in a response to the proposals, the Government ruling: “ignores all the evidence that … culling has been consistently linked to increased (incidence of) cattle TB” (their emphasis).

The Government’s plans now face a High Court challenge in a judicial review being taken by the ecologist Tom Langton, supported by the Badger Trust, and the Oxfordshire Badger Group website (https://www.oxonbadgergroup.org.uk/) contains suggestions of what you can do to help.  You can also sign a petition against the cull started by the ecologist and teacher of agriculture and environmental science Lee Jenkins on the Change.org website (https://www.change.org/p/michael-gove-stop-the-nationwide-cull-of-badgers; with thanks to Jane Magpie for the link).  As Mr Jenkins points out: “Vaccinations would be a far more ethical way of stopping (bovine) TB, along with increased hygiene measures in farms” (the Sunday Times article recognises that “bovine TB is a livestock disease spread mainly by farmers moving infected cattle between farms”).

As if killing even more badgers wasn’t enough, licenses have now been issued to farmers in several counties, including Berkshire and Wiltshire, to shoot ravens, even though the birds are legally protected and rare, with only 7,400 pairs across the UK (Michael Gove allows farmers to cull protected ravens, The Sunday Times, 17/6/2018).  The excuse for this measure is that ravens “can attack lambs and sheep”, with one farmer in Dorset claiming that ravens “were killing a couple of lambs a day and blinding one or two sheep a week” on his farm on Dorset.  No wonder, with a reported 9000 sheep to look after!  Even so, it seems much more likely that the ravens were pecking out the eyes and tongues of dead sheep, which are a whole lot easier to ‘attack’ than live animals, but you know the score by now.  Whenever farmers claim that wild animals are spreading disease or attacking their livestock the Government roll over and authorise another cull.

Paul Appleby (with thanks to Paul Freestone for alerting me to The Sunday Times articles)

Take the Summer Vegan Pledge

Animal Aid’s Summer Vegan Pledge begins today.  To take up the challenge to go vegan for the month of June go to: http://www.govegan.org.uk/

Say ‘vegan cheese’

Vegan alternatives to cheese made from animal milks have been around for more than 20 years, although supermarkets have only recently begun to sell them. Sheese, made by Bute Island Foods, has long been a favourite of mine, especially the more strongly flavoured varieties such as the Mature Cheddar style. Nevertheless, vegan ‘cheeses’ are regularly rubbished by cookery writers, perhaps because the presence of soya protein and modified starch lends them an ersatz reputation. Other companies such as Violife have developed soya-free ‘cheeses’ based on coconut oil (I understand that Bute Island Foods are making a similar switch), and their blocks, wedges, spreads and sliced products in a variety of flavours can be found in several major supermarket chains as well as branches of Holland & Barrett and independent health food stores.

Though undeniably convenient and increasingly popular, vegan ‘cheeses’ are processed foods with a high saturated fat content (typically around 20% by weight), comparable to and in some cases higher than the quantities found in dairy cheeses, so they should not be regarded as ‘health foods’. However, the cruelty inherent in dairy farming is a high price to pay for the ‘real thing’ (http://animalaid.wpengine.com/the-issues/our-campaigns/animal-farming/suffering-farmed-cattle/).

If you dislike shop bought vegan ‘cheeses’ why not try making your own? Brenda Davis, registered dietitian and co-author of several books including Becoming Vegan, recommends the following sites: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/10-vegan-cheeses-that-will-knock-your-socks-off/ (which she describes as a great site for vegans) and http://www.veganfoodandliving.com/23-best-ever-vegan-cheese-recipes/. Brenda’s recipe for Nutty Cream Cheese can be found on her website at: http://www.brendadavisrd.com/nutty-cream-cheese/.

In her Spring 2018 newsletter, Lizzy Hughes of Our Lizzy cookery school (www.ourlizzy.com) extols the virtues of nutritional yeast, which she describes as “a really versatile store cupboard ingredient”. Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, the yeast flakes having “a cheesy nutty taste (making it) an ideal condiment for anything savoury or sweet, from soups to stews, cereals to smoothies.” The main supplier in the UK is Marigold Health Foods, whose Engevita is a high protein, low fat food that is a significant source of several B-complex vitamins including vitamin B-12 (one 5 gram serving supplies 2.2 micrograms B-12, equivalent to 88% of the Nutrient Reference Value, the recommended minimum daily intake). Lizzy uses nutritional yeast to make a dairy-free cheesy sauce, using the following recipe, for which you will need:
· Approximately 50g vegan margarine
· 50g plain white flour
· 600ml soya or other plant milk
· 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
· Salt and pepper to season
Melt the margarine in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and add about a third of the plant milk. Beat well to avoid lumps, a hand whisk may be used. Place the pan back on the heat. Gradually add the rest of the milk, stir well. Add the nutritional yeast. Season to taste. (For a gluten-free version put 2 tbsp corn flour into a small jug or bowl and mix to a paste with about 5 tbsp of the milk. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until nearly boiling. Add the corn flour mixture. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Cook for two minutes, until the sauce thickens. Add the nutritional yeast and season well.)

Paul Appleby (with thanks to Lizzy Hughes and Brenda Davis)

Book review: BOSH!

BOSH! Simple Recipes; Amazing Food; All Plants by Henry Firth & Ian Theasby. HQ, hbk, 288pp, £20.

There are now so many excellent vegan cookbooks available that it can feel difficult to distinguish between them, but this one really does stand out and is highly recommended. The recipes are all based on the videos available via the BOSH! website (https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/main-dishes) and You Tube. The videos are short but (using a speeded-up technique) show a specific dish being created from start to finish in a matter of minutes (the Portobello Mushroom Wellington is completed in just one minute and 20 seconds). BOSH! represents the modern ‘make it quick and make it easy’ mindset of an impatient generation addicted to their phones and iPads. However, the BOSH! videos are entertaining, very slick and informative, and it’s pleasing to see that the online success of BOSH! has culminated in an old fashioned printed book. The book available in e-book or printed format, heavily discounted, from that Behemoth online store whose name that I just can’t remember.

Paul Freestone

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