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My Pledge to Democracy


At the end of every year, I produce a list of the films my husband and I watched in the previous 12 months. I provide a brief commentary for our Top 10 (or in the case of 2021’s list, our Top 15). 

Instead of overwhelming you with a list of dozens (hundreds?) of films at the end of the year, I thought for 2022, I would build a list throughout the year so you don’t have to wait. This would also give me the space to more thoughtfully review some of the films I think deserve attention — or at least those that captured mine.

As I mentioned in my Films Watched in 2021 post, it’s been a tradition for over a decade for David and I to watch a long-form film or film series over the course of the New Year’s Day holiday, and this year — 2022 — was no exception. We decided to watch The Battle of Chile, a documentary film made in 1973 in three 90-minute parts. 

I knew that the United States had backed a coup in Chile in the 1970s and that a dictatorial regime was installed in place of the democratically elected government and president. And that’s about where my knowledge ended.

Watching this film just days before the 1st anniversary of the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol was both fitting and harrowing. Before January 6, 2021, I was quite aware that our democracy was under attack, and over the years I have written several essays and podcast episodes on the importance of being engaged in political processes and in our precious democracy. (Elections Matter: How to Increase Voting, Inauguration, A Guide to Being Politically EngagedCan Garbage Unite our Divided Country?, Why I Love Voting and Why You Should, Too!, Laws for Animals: How to Engage in Politics without Being Cynical, to name a few.) I even made political engagement the theme of one of my vegan / animal protection conferences.

But on January 6, 2021, I saw — we all saw — how fragile democracy is and how it’s only as strong as its weakest individual, as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently articulated in her pledge to democracy.

I watched in horror as men and women — provoked by this country’s own president — attacked one of the most fundamental tenets of democracy — the peaceful transfer of power — and persist in lies about election fraud where none had been and none has since been found.

I waited in vain for leaders to abandon such falsehoods once they witnessed police officers, elected officials, and fellow Americans suffer attacks, violence, threats, and even death. 

No such change came, and indeed, the lies have become even more fixed and firm. And our democracy remains in peril.

To be sure, there are differences between the Chilean far right overthrowing their democratically elected government and the divisive state of our country today. First of all, they had a major foreign power backing them (the United States) and a military that acted on its own — independent of the constitutional government.

But there are chilling similarities that every American will recognize in this story and that every American needs to see. We must never forget January 6th, 2021, the five people who were killed, and the dozens who were injured and harmed, and we must resist the temptation to naïvely and complacently believe that such an egregious act could never happen again.

Moreover, as ordinary citizens, we must be vigilant against any duplicitous measures that seek to deny facts, distort truth, and chip away at democratic norms, systems, and laws. 

How?

  • By engaging in the very democracy that has been so hard-won and hard-kept. 
  • By exercising the very rights that so many have fought and died for. 
  • By remembering the demos in democracy: the people
  • And by rejecting cynicism and divisiveness. 

This isn’t someone else’s task. It’s ours. It’s mine. It’s yours.

Vote.

Get involved.

Know your representatives — not just federally but regionally and locally.

Visit your local town or city hall. Or your state or federal Capitol. (That’s David and I on a recent visit to our state Capitol in Sacramento!) 

Financially contribute to candidates you believe in.

Volunteer.

Use your voice.

Know history.

Get up, show up, and speak up.

Meet duplicity with honesty, stupidity with wisdom, ignorance with truth, and cruelty with kindness.

And watch The Battle of Chile

The amount of footage and the breadth and depth of the storytelling are enough to justify the high esteem with which it is still regarded 50 years later. 

FAQ

Each cooking class is fully interactive. While I am demonstrating, you can chime in with comments, questions, and ooohs and ahhhs the entire time. Not only does this increase connection among the students, both my assistant and I see your questions and make sure we answer all of them.
You can participate in the class using Zoom on your computer, tablet or mobile device.
Upon completing your registration, you receive your confirmation email, which includes the link to our Zoom class, along with information and recipes. Each class is officially a go once a minimum number of slots are filled — at which time the recipes appear on the document. My goal is to have the recipes available to you at least 5 days before the class to give you enough time to order / shop for ingredients, should you choose to cook along.
While I love to see the faces of my students, the use of video during the live class is optional. NOTE: Even if you opt to show your video, for the class recordings, which go out to the general public as on-demand classes, NO ONE'S video is shown except for mine.
We do our best to prepare you in advance so you are ready for when the class begins. If you have issues during the class, my assistant is there to help you. Sometimes it's an issue on the user side, and when there's an issue on my side, we do our best to mitigate it right away. One of the benefits of live classes is that they're in real time, which means it's a live feed. Sometimes technical issues are out of our control, but so far, we've never had any real issues that took away from the purpose of the class.
Absolutely! Unless something goes horribly wrong (and it rarely does), each class is recorded, and students receive the class recording within 2 days of the live class.
While I do send a reminder email out a couple days before our class, I encourage you to add the class to your calendar as soon as you register.
Some students love being able to cook along; some students love to just watch. It is entirely up to you how you want to enjoy the class.
You can decide in advance which dishes you want to cook along with. You might choose to cook along for just one of the dishes or all of them. Whatever you decide, I suggest you have your mise en place all ready. That is to say, have all the ingredients measured and prepped as much as possible. (Mise en place is a French culinary phrase meaning "everything in its place.”)
Ultimately, what we take away is based on what we give, so I encourage you to be present and engaged in the class. But, for my part, if you know me, you know I'm pretty passionate about many things, and I can’t help bringing my love of food, history, language, animals, film, literature, and food lore to each class. My aim is that you walk away with a richer understanding of food, cooking, and eating than before you arrived. More than that, you will get helpful step-by-step instructions about each dish I'm demonstrating and a clear up-close view of all the ingredients and procedures. The best part is that I, too, make mistakes, and you see me make them live in real time. That's how we learn the most.
I'm thrilled to say that many students are regulars and repeats, and you will no doubt get to know some fabulous people when you attend these classes. I encourage engagement and follow-up, including posting photos, questions, and comments on our private Facebook page. Many friends and family members join from different cities, then share a virtual meal with each other once the class is over. (That makes my heart sing.) So, yes, despite being online the classes foster connection.
I have found that 90 minutes is the ideal amount of time to spend in a virtual class. It gives us time to settle in and for you to ask questions throughout without feeling rushed. It also gives us time to enjoy an occasional bonus cocktail by our resident mixologist (my adorable husband), but we like to honor your time and keep the classes to 90 minutes.
Absolutely! Once you are registered and the class is a go, you are officially enrolled. That means the recipes, resources, video recording, and even the chat transcript are yours to enjoy. You will receive a follow-up email whether you are in the live class or not.
Because the value of the classes includes exclusive recipes and resources as well as the live class / video recording, once a class is officially a go and you get access to the recipes, you cannot be refunded. However, if the class does not meet the minimum sign-up threshold and I cancel the class, you have the option of getting a full refund or switching to a different class. (This is one of the reasons I don't share the recipes until I know we've reached the minimum threshold.)
After the live class is over and enjoyed by students in real time, each class gets converted into an on-demand class so that others may enjoy the recipes, resources, and video recording. Most live classes become on-demand classes within 2 days.
No animal products are ever used in my recipes, so yes, all the classes are vegan / plant-based, which means nothing that comes out of or off of an animal. I've written three cookbooks (The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, and Color Me Vegan), and two lifestyle books (Vegan’s Daily Companion and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge), which also include recipes. I'm also always testing and developing new recipes (as well as modifying and perfecting old ones) to make sure students get the best, clearest, easiest-to-follow recipes — qualities that have become trademark in my work.
While living compassionately and consciously is not about being perfect, and while some students may not have access to the same bulk stores and package-free ingredients as me, I make an effort in my classes to use (and promote) as little packaging and plastic as possible, which is why so many of my recipes and menus are for how to cook and bake homemade and from-scratch!
My classes span a huge range, and your suggestions are always welcome: *Different types of cuisines (Italian, Thai, Asian, Mexican, etc.) *Particular ways of cooking and eating (Quick & Easy, Oil-free, By Color/Phytochemicals, ) *Cooking with specific appliances (Air-Fryer, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker / Crockpot, etc.) *Homemade from scratch (Seitan, Tempeh, Tofu, Miso, Nut Cheeses, Nut Butters, etc.) *Various holidays and seasons (Mother’s Day, Easter, Passover, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Summer, Fall, etc.) *Focused on meals (Packed Lunches, Breakfast, Brunch, Fancy Dinner, Quick Dinner, etc.) *Cooking with specific foods/ ingredients (Aquafaba, Beans, Spices & Herbs, Greens, Lentils, Grains, etc. *Baking from scratch (Pizza Dough, Breads, Pretzels, Bagels, and Biscuits, Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, etc.) *And everything in between.
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