“The Devil in the Details” – Dec., 2019

It was the typo from hell for the advertising department of our bi-weekly regionalScreen Shot 2019-12-06 at 1.43.20 PM newspaper. But thanks to social media, “pictures with Satan” swiftly took on a life of its own, inadvertently spreading seasonal cheer across the land. Included as part of the Comox Valley Record’s promo for an annual Christmas parade, the amusing misprint ended up attracting both international attention and a motley crew of secret Satans to downtown Courtenay! Several of these colourful characters upstaged traditional Santa by hoofing it along the parade route on Dec. 1st for photo ops of their own.

Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 2.46.55 PM
Mayors Wells, Baird & Arnott

One rouged rogue carried a sign falsely claiming that “hell has frozen over.” The mayors of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland were all documented posing with Satan, so here’s hoping these politicians won’t need reminding that the devil is never to be trusted. The North Pole, according to Kris Kringle (and scientists at the Arctic Institute), continues to experience alarming rates of sea ice melt. And what happens in the Arctic definitely doesn’t stay in the Arctic!

It’s not as if we can’t all use a little comic relief. But as COP 25 deliberations heat up in Spain this week, it bears noting that our regional mayors represent communities that have already acknowledged the climate crisis. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could deny that Australia – where the Climate Emergency Declaration Movement began in 2016 – hasn’t experienced hell on earth over the past year alone with widespread infernos and soaring temperatures breaking previous records. Why we aren’t all responding far more pro-actively is the burning question.

Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 6.18.42 PM Another “angry summer” is predicted to begin in Australia soon, with the threat of 50 degrees Celsius days looming large. More and more folks down under are concerned that their federal government has no credible climate policy in place. The continent has already lost almost 40 percent of its limited forest cover, and just as animal agribusiness is a leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon, the livestock sector is also the number one driver of land-clearing in Australia. And so a vicious circle of fire, meat markets, catastrophic biodiversity loss and rising GHG emissions continues – hastening the disappearance of vital carbon sinks our own species will also perish without. The burgeoning vegan movement is now well-rooted in Australia, and animal advocates are also angry. It isn’t only the plight of koalas and flying foxes (both species at risk of extinction) that concerns them. It is also the methane-emitting, farmed animals subjected to well-documented abuse in Australian slaughterhouses, and the egregious suffering wrought by drought on free-ranging livestock in the Australian outback. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Scott Morrison isn’t keen on critiques that challenge his country’s primary industry, preferring instead to label animal rights activists as “un-Australian green criminals”. Meanwhile, BC firefighters were recently deployed to Sydney in response to a request from Morrison for assistance in New South Wales. More Canadian firefighters are expected to follow them over the months ahead. We’re all connected.

Younger Australian environmentalists exposed to films like “Dominion” (2018), which shines an unforgiving light into the dark corners of animal agribusiness in Australia, are going to keep challenging the status quo. 16 year old student activist Sienna Stephens of YEA (Youth Environmental Action) here in the Comox Valley, credits the eye-opening Gretta QUOTEAmerican documentary “Cowspiracy” (2014) with inspiring her own shift to a fully plant-based diet, and with encouraging her friends to make changes also. When asked why she thinks so many others with the privilege of choice have yet to act on the link between climate change and the power of our collective food choices, she told me, “I think people are more comfortable staying in the dark than opening their eyes and being faced with the truth and having to make a change.” Sienna’s vegan peer, Greta Thunberg, would clearly agree. Now at COP 25 in Madrid the Swedish climate activist has lamented that in spite of the international plea from young people who have joined school strikes around the world for over a year now, “they have achieved nothing” because inaction from those with the power to make a difference is still the norm and GHG emissions continue to rise. “Some people are afraid to change”, Greta went on to say.  “They try so desperately to silence us.”

I was pleased to learn that Sienna has felt supported by her family in her own quest to reduce her ecological footprint in part by going vegan for the environment. With a deeper understanding now about the processes involved in animal-based food production her decision has evolved into an ethical stand for animals, also. All of us with the privilege of choice have an opportunity to begin 2020 with renewed commitment to the well-being of our planet and the myriad species with whom we share it!

Fireweed’s Mushroom Seitan (emphasis on the second syllable!)


There are many 100% plant-based alternatives to conventional animal products on the market today, but why not experiment in your own kitchen? This tasty wheat meat, for example, is not difficult to make and is always a satisfying main course served with mushroom gravy, roast veggies and cranberry sauce as part of a holiday feast! There will be some available to sample at Denman Island’s annual Winter Solstice Vegan Community Potluck celebration on Sat., Dec. 21st. Come join us if you can for a delicious 100% plant-based feast! Click HERE for full details. ❤


2 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten (to start…add a bit more if you need to!)

1.5 blocks`of medium firm organic tofu

6 medium-sized crimini mushrooms

3/4 C. nutritional yeast flakes

1 whole clove crushed garlic, divided in half

1 T. olive oil

1 T. granulated onion

2 T. ‘poultry’ seasoning (mixed herbs)

2 T. organic vegetable paste bouillon

1/3rd C. Braggs liquid amino acids

a pinch of fresh ground pepper


Press water out of tofu as much as possible, add to food processor with 1/2 the garlic, just 1/2 C. of the yeast, the granulated onion, 1 T. bouillon paste, 1 T. poultry seasoning, 1 T. Braggs, and all of the mushrooms (roughly chopped). Pulse until well-mixed, scraping down sides of the container with a spatula. Blend until smooth, taste, and correct seasonings. Add oil and blend again. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and gently fold in gluten flour until fully combined. Turn out on to a non-stick surface and knead for one minute. If you find the mixture a bit sticky, sprinkle on a bit more vital wheat gluten powder and knead some more. Divide with a sharp knife into four or five pieces, and mold into lozenge shapes approx. one inch thick. Add five cups of water to large pot. Turn on high heat. Add the rest of your garlic, Braggs, nutritional yeast, 1 T. of the bouillon paste, 1 T. herbs and bring to a boil. Drop individual loafs into boiling broth, cover pot and reduce to a simmer for approximately 40-50 minutes. Flip seitan occasionally, adding more water half way through to avoid sticking. Remove pieces from pot carefully with tongs, and place on a lightly oiled cooking sheet to bake in a 350 degree oven for approx. 5 minutes on each side. Leaving it in a little longer will firm up your seitan, but you don’t want to dry it out! (This recipe makes a lot, by the way. It freezes well!) Cool slightly before slicing. Retain left over broth for thickening and flavoring mushroom gravy. Bon appetit 🙂
PS Try slicing this seitan thinly for use in sandwiches, too, with mustard and dairy free mayo!


Community Vegan Climate Action Potluck: details HERE!


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