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Priscilla Feral Interview ~ Abolitionist-Online

Tell us about "Dining With Friends" Priscilla. It's a truly terrific vegan cookbook that you and Lee Hall have put together. How did it come about, how did you choose the recipes and who did the test tasting?

Priscilla Feral: I'm a foodie, and had long wanted to produce a cookbook to show others that vegan cooking can inspire a wonderful cuisine which is delicious, gorgeous to serve and healthy to consume. My co-worker

Lee Hall is an avid vegan and beautiful writer, so it was obvious we should collaborate on such a book. The artful approach to how the book looked was paramount and so was the photography. People need to see how food should appear; the eye is critical. I contributed most of the recipes from favorites and standards; Lee
contributed some I found unique, and we solicited others from great cooks and chefs -- recipes that are easy to follow and could stand the test of time. Most of the test tasting fell to me; I'm fussy and tough to please. Some
weekends I made six desserts and shared them with anyone in FoA's office. A few staff members put on a bit of weight during this time.

What made you decide to produce "Dining With Friends?"

Some vegan cookbooks are trendy with a fixation on one type of food item. I wanted to publish a cookbook without relying on a gimmick such as "Sexy and Saucy..." whatever – and illustrate appetizers to desserts in an interesting, workable presentation.

Some people are great cooks but can't write a reliable recipe, and that doesn't help those of us studying the art of cooking.

Veganism and turning people towards veganism is a very exciting concept. There are still myriads of campaigns to be launched against 'foods that hurt' 'foods that have a face' etc etc. With cancer on the rise, heart disease on the rise, new immune deficiency diseases on the rise do you see a day when animal activists, as vegans, can combine forces with mainstream
'nutritionists' to rid the world of bacon, eggs, grease and butter once and for all?

Wouldn't that be lovely? If we're successful on our own terms, we'll see a new wave of nutritionists who won't be co-opted by animal agribusiness. That industry is running the country and has infiltrated the well-heeled,
mainstream animal protection groups.

Regarding the politics of food and making veganism a political statement against the traditional American diet, there is still an enormous amount of work to be done on questions such as where our food supply comes from? Is it fit for human consumption inundated with chemicals, antibiotics,
hormones, pesticides, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings, irradiation, over processed and bleached foods etc. What approaches do you favour in regard to spreading the vegan message?

To expect young people to eat vegetables, fruit, healthy grains and commit to a vegan diet, they should learn how to cook. That's the way to understand ingredients – to be assertive with whatever we're feeding ourselves, our family and friends. We decide what restaurants stay in business, and what's carried in the grocery store.

Is it possible to have a social revolution on values and remain a non-vegan in your view?

Lee has said veganism is achieved one person at a time; we're striving to achieve a critical mass, just as vegans started out doing. As a profound social revolution involves a challenge to domination, it requires
us to stop viewing animals as a meal; to get them off our menus. That's why Dining With Friends was written, in part, to transcend the nonsense we've been fed by the protein gurus, meat purveyors, and the Happy Meat
pundits who capitalise on misery with disastrous consequences for animals, human health and the environment.

Do you think there'll be a day when the human flesh eater will even become extinct?

Perhaps sooner than we think, as our planet can't take much more of such traditions; but as Gandhi has stressed, we should reflect the changes we wish to see in the world. That's the best advice.

There's really no stone left unturned when it comes to veganism whether it's for love of the animals, ethical, environmental and/or health reasons or health safety reasons. Is there a best way to change peoples minds against meat eating and persuading them to give up all exploitation of animals?

I don't expect someone to give up a love of cheeseburgers when they're in cheap supply on every corner unless you show them wonderful, plant-based alternatives. That's why we should stop apologizing for the best diet
and spread it around.

We are 30 years down the track with the modern day animal rights movement and still the "Happy Meat" brigade are still out there convincing people that this is an incremental step towards animal rights. What are your views?

Those might be steps, but they are backward steps. The only incremental step that makes any sense at all is incrementally bringing more and more people to vegan principles. You can't arrive at a principled society by teaching people how to dilute principles.

Why do you think many activists still regard forgoing animal flesh as more important than forgoing dairy?

I once wrongly saw dairy products as a by-product of the meat industry. Others imagine the same, that breeding an animal into existence and eating its flesh is worse than drinking cow milk, or eating goat cheese. But that line is arbitrary. As Lee has written, it's the dairy industry that produces the calf called ~veal.~ And hens who lay so-called cage-free eggs are sent to a slaughterhouse in 70 weeks where their bodies are used for
soup. It's all the same racket.

What are your favourite types of vegan cuisine Priscilla?

I adore fresh fruit, everything ginger, coconut, pasta, vegetables just picked from the garden. Italian food is divine. A chestnut soup,
vegetable risotto, grilled tofu, salad, Apple Crisp or a Chocolate
Pudding Cake are irresistible for most dinner guests.

If non-speciesism is all about applying the principles of equal consideration, can you be advancing the cause of animal rights and still be a speciesist?

Once doesn't have to love snakes to not intrude on them, to respect their interest in being left alone. I view other species as animals with whom we've co-evolved. Respect is the best principle, and then one's actions aren’t deliberately detrimental.

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Comment by À. Neilson on October 27, 2010 at 2:44
I would like to get this book. :o)


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