Vegetarians in Paradise/Lin Silvan/Robert Jacobucci/EVEN/Eugene Veg Education Network/24 Carrot Vegan/Vegetarian Award
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Vegetarians in Paradise

24 Carrot Award

Vegetarians in Paradise presents the 24 Carrot Award to an outstanding person or organization that endeavors to practice or promote education, natural health, wholesome nutrition, and ecology techniques for the mutual benefit of humans, animals, and the earth.

Vegetarians in Paradise takes great pride in presenting its 24 Carrot Award to Lin Silvan and Robert Jacobucci for their efforts in founding and guiding the Eugene Veg Education Network (EVEN).

Their journey began in 2005 with the goal of bringing the vegan message to their Oregon community by persuading people to adopt a plant-based diet.

Since its inception EVEN has tabled at Earth Day events, distributed literature, held numerous potlucks, offered free vegan starter kits, hosted speakers in the community, and interviewed prominent vegans.

EVEN also offers recipes and meal plans to people who want to start a plant-based diet. Lin and Robert maintain a dynamic website and a blog providing information to their community as well as viewers around the world.

As readers will learn in this interview, Lin and Robert were responsible for persuading the mayor of Eugene, Oregon to issue a proclamation declaring 2016 "Vegan Awareness Year."

As is customary, Vegetarians in Paradise takes this opportunity to interview each award recipient to share his/her accomplishments with our readers.

What follows are the questions asked by Vegetarians in Paradise (VIP) and the answers by Lin Silvan (LS) and Robert Jacobucci (RJ)

Robert Jacobucci and Lin Silvan

ViP: You both play leadership roles in EVEN (Eugene Veg Education Network). When did EVEN begin and what events led to its formation?

LS: We were retired and traveling the US when we moved to Eugene in '02. Disappointed to find no active veg groups here, we figured if we wanted to see vegan activity, we'd have to be the ones to create it. Both of us had a strong drive to do some meaningful "giveback" work, and our hearts traveled to the plight of the animals. We had been advocating for the earth and the animals since 1991 and formed EVEN in 2005. Who knew it would turn into full-time work, but life is full of surprises.

We didn't know where our efforts might take us. We just knew we wanted to try to make a difference somehow for others, if possible. Even at our ages, one doesn't always know where the road will lead, but it helps if you know what you can be true to.

Eugene Veg Education Network VIP: What current roles do you play in the organization?

LS: As Executive Director, I work to fulfill EVEN's educational mission statement. Growing the group has been time-consuming, but straightforward, because veganism is truly an idea whose time has finally come.

Whatever reason people have for seeking out info on veganism--whether for the animals, the planet, or their own health--most have had niggling thoughts rapping in the background of their thinking for a long time, alerting them to atrocities that are unspeakable. Those in the slaughterhouses, those done to the earth, and those destroying our own health.

At some level, most people already know, but we have been exposed to so much misinformation all our lives; we aren't inspired to take a closer look. To see it, we'd have to change.

People have gotten sick--and many have gotten better--from seeing the interconnectedness of life on this planet.

RJ: I am EVEN's webmaster and try to help out in all other areas as best I can. Lin is the main mover and shaker within EVEN. She has such amazing dedication and works with endless energy. Lin is a whirlwind and inspiration to be around, and EVEN's accomplishments are due primarily to her unwavering devotion to the cause.

VIP: The year 2016 was pronounced VEGAN AWARENESS YEAR. What's the story behind that announcement?

LS: EVEN has always strived to establish a good working relationship with the local community including our mayor, Mayor Kitty Piercy, who is a bright, exceptional person. We realized early on how EVEN's endeavors aligned naturally with her office's own sustainability initiatives. With encouragement from Portland's NW Veg group back in 2012, EVEN secured a mayoral proclamation for Vegan Awareness Weekend.

Four years later, I wanted to expand that idea to Vegan Awareness Year. We wanted to springboard from the original to give the proclamation wider breadth, so we rewrote it using a great many more specifics to show the impact in today's world and worked diligently with her office to create a proposal that she would approve.

Eugene Veg Education Network
VIP: What are some principal activities of EVEN?

LS: EVEN is primarily a vegan education group focusing on outreach, and we have been educating tens of thousands since 2005. We staff information tables at markets, fairs, and schools, and we host lectures by many speakers who can spark ideas while they educate. EVEN answers hundreds of questions every week, helps families develop meal plans, offers guidance to students with veg-related school projects, and maintains both a website and a news blog. (Thank you, Robert. You're such an amazing spirit!)

EVEN recently made three Healthy Body, Healthy Mind presentations at a local high school showing the positive connection between a plant-based diet and better mental health for teenagers. We also presented at a college Contemporary Moral Issues class to explain the ethics and Ahimsa of veganism. We are also thrilled to be included in corporate wellness fairs! Everything EVEN does is offered free to the public.

We've seen how consistently people are motivated to make kinder choices, but simply don't have the tools. EVEN provides books, DVDs, pamphlets, magazines, nutritional info, and even recipes. We also conduct our own Think and Go Veg workshops tailored to help newbies make a smooth, safe and exciting switch to veganism--the lighter, brighter and kinder side of the force.

Personally, I do this for the animals and the planet, but I do love to see people get healthy!

That's why having the right information and guidance is so important---we make better decisions. I also think we need to make braver decisions. Then instead of wandering blindly through life, there will be no limit to the help we can give the animals and the earth--and ourselves.

Never before have there been more vegan blogs and cookbooks, more vegan organizations and food companies, more knowledgeable vegan doctors and RDs than there are right now. It is a wild advancement allowing everyone to advocate as minimally or as extensively as they choose. Whether you work on a project for a month or a lifetime, we can all pull in the same direction. There is enormous power in working in harmony with those whose hearts are in the same place as yours.

VIP: What accomplishments of EVEN bring you the most satisfaction?

RJ: Watching other people "get it" and seeing the happiness the new lifestyle brings to their lives.

VIP: What personal experiences led you to vegetarianism/veganism?

LS: Watching the blood ooze out of a steak being broiled and hearing it referred to as "juice." Observing a turkey carcass on the dinner table and imagining what parts used to be where and how it once had life. Going to a chicken "farm" and inhaling the stench, which continues to haunt me. Watching videos of slaughterhouses, All of these and so much more. The images are just not something you can walk away from or forget.

RJ: The abiding feeling that if violence is wrong against humans, then it should be wrong against animals, too! When I first attempted vegetarianism, I was still under the old conditioning that meat was a necessary ingredient in our diet, but changed anyway thinking I would just have to concede a few years of my life to this decision. When I later learned that veganism is actually a healthier diet, then it became a "no brainer."

Robert Jacobucci and Lin Silvan VIP: What brought the two of you together?

LS: We met in a dance hall! He smiled, asked me to dance and lead me adeptly through a beautiful waltz--a waltz he continues to this day.

RJ: Dancing. Lin is a beautiful dancer, and we spent many hours gliding across many dance floors.

VIP: How do your friends and relatives react to your emphasis on a plant-based diet?

LS: Sometimes with silence, sometimes with disbelief, and sometimes with confusion. I'll answer questions when asked but also disregard comments rooted in ignorance, thankfully able to never let their opinions interfere with the truth. It's very liberating to do what you know you should do. I'm glad to discuss it when asked reasonable questions, but I never feel the need to defend it. If others are uncomfortable, it's something they need to work out for themselves, with or without additional "vegfluence" from us. To me, the cruelty of eating meat is what is indefensible, not veganism.

RJ: Most of our friends are vegan. Those who are not, generally respect us enough that it isn't a problem.

VIP: What benefits have you realized yourself by following the diet and lifestyle you espouse?

LS: The most obvious to me is an improved energy level. I'm not under a doctor's care, and veganism helps me manage a stressful occupation without alcohol, cigarettes or prescription pharmaceuticals. I think the benefits are more expansive than that (like peace of mind!), but I couldn't list them all.

For me I needed to tune out the noise--the noise from naysayers, the media, the excuse-makers, the money-movers, the boo-hoo'ers. Tune it out and listen to the sublime song of the universe. All truth can be found there.

Personally, I doubt I would even be alive now in my late sixties if I were still eating meat and dairy.

RJ: I feel healthier and more vital leading an active life and being on no medications.

VIP: Can you give our readers the main features of your personal diet and exercise regimen?

LS: Diet: In the morning I might have a green fruit smoothie or a grapefruit with oatmeal. I love, and greatly respect, apples for their amazing curative powers. (I eat at least three a day, so perhaps I'm keeping three doctors away!) Lunch might be a veggie burger with a side of hummus and baby carrots, or garlic-roasted potatoes. Dinner could be a big salad with a side of pasta, or a veggie stir-fry, or bean burrito bowls with my own grilled tofu, avocado, brown rice, corn and topped with lots of chopped fresh veggies. My favorite entrée is rice, lentils, and corn with a cucumber salad.

The fact that my food tastes are basic, not gourmet, makes vegan cooking so easy. It's delicious, cheap, and nutritious to keep it simple, and I love cooking for Robert because he is always so appreciative!

The beauty is that combinations are endless, so you're not likely to make anything the same way twice. Such variety and abundance can be found in veganism, that it's hard to understand those who feel deprived. Whole-food, plant-based is absolutely the best food in the world!

Ideal Vegan Meal RJ: My diet is centered around starches, but I try to include as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible. This is usually a 60/40 split. I eat tofu and tempeh occasionally, whenever I have a craving for them. My greatest bugaboo is my love affair with nuts, so I usually end up eating more than I should.

LS: Exercise: I put so many hours into EVEN, I don't exercise the way I used to. I still manage to get in a daily walk though. It is so hilly where we live in Eugene, I'm pretty sure my walk is uphill--both ways!

RJ: I try to exercise every day playing table tennis and dancing whenever I can, and walking or going to the gym whenever I can't.

VIP: Can you tell our readers about your education?

LS: I have a BS in Education. I received a Graduate Assistantship, but couldn't finish my Master's because family needed my help at home. I didn't teach school. Instead, I moved into business. I have the fondest memories of my decades spent in Training and Organizational Development divisions of various corporations. And now, after retirement, here I am again, involved in education. All roads….

RJ: I am a retired physicist. But I feel that life is all about learning. If we can remain students throughout life, we can actually become wiser in addition to becoming older.

Scientists are trained to study something by isolating it and separating it from everything else. My life changed significantly when, as an environmentalist later in life, I began to study ecology. This science, unlike the others I was used to, studied entire ecosystems and how each element related to each other and to the whole.

There is the carbon cycle, water cycle, oxygen, nitrogen and numerous others all working together in perfect harmony so that we all can be here. Furthermore, when you see that the purpose of each system is the health of the whole and that there is an unmistakable intelligence guiding its movement, I could not help but become spiritually energized. Veganism contained a similar insight. Seeing that this simple way of eating is not only good for the animals, but is also healthy for our bodies and good for the entire planet surely convinces that this win-win-win diet is the one we are designed to follow.

VIP: Since you follow a vegan diet, how do you get your protein? calcium? B12?

LS: I never worry about protein since it's in every vegan item I eat. I love broccoli, so that takes care of calcium. I just eat "all the colors" as they recommend. When I think I need a supplement, I try to improve my diet instead. However, I wouldn't be averse to taking B-12. (There's some in the cabinet somewhere.)

Water is my trusty friend; I drink often and long. Any ailment I end up with is because of poor stress management or dehydration. One way I try to help manage that is to actually have meals where I set the table and sit down to eat, instead of eating on the fly.

RJ: It has been proven that a whole food vegan diet provides all the protein and calcium that we need. It is only the well-funded meat and dairy propaganda that implies it is not.

As for B-12, I have studied this thoroughly enough to convince myself that a proper vegan diet is the one we are designed to eat. The smokescreen presented by mainstream media is the last hurrah of meat and dairy to convince us that it is not.

Eugene Veg Education Network

  • Meat eaters have the same chance of B-12 deficiency. It is not a function of how much B-12 you consume.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency is typically caused by lack of absorption in the intestinal tract rather than a lack of this vitamin in the diet.
  • How much B-12 is destroyed by the cooking of the meat?

There is so much more to this. I encourage everyone to investigate it on their own. Try to look past the barrage of mainstream propaganda and find the vegan side of the story. Then with knowledge of both sides, you can decide for yourself.

VIP: You have an attractive presence on the internet. What will web searchers find when they access your website?

RJ: Lin and I converted over to veganism when we came upon new information--information that we missed throughout our younger years. Change came quickly. The old adage, "When you know better, you do better" worked for us. That then became the focus of our website. It took us years, but the necessary information is there for anyone who honestly would like to consider veganism. We are willing to take a person by the hand and walk them through the What, Why, and How of converting successfully to a vegan diet. The Scoop Tab is my favorite because it presents all the reasons a person could need to see the wisdom of a vegan diet. The many quotes throughout the website show you that you are not alone in feeling this way.

VIP: What awards and recognition have you received?

LS: YOURS! This is so special to us! Especially coming from two folks like you who have been advocating with so much heart for a long time and who know the meaning of hard work, for sure! Thank you very much for this honor!

Other recognition? United Way recognized our volunteer efforts at EVEN back in 2011, and the American Vegan Society singled EVEN out in its Winter 2016 magazine as an effective vegan education group. Both of those were very nice.

There have been other nods in our direction, but we have received many more Re-wards than A-wards. Both Robert and I are so honored to be able to serve.

Working in the trenches, where outreach tends to put us, may lack prestige, glamour, and visibility, but we find it highly rewarding. Love and support seem to show up sometimes just when you swear you can't do one more ANY thing. Then little angels in your mailbox, in your office, or on your doorstep, magically appear.

What matters most to us is that right answers and right information find their way into the right hands. It can be life-changing for recipients and givers!

Kelly VIP: What role do animal companions play in your lives?

LS: I've always been a dog-person, even as a child. I was always rescuing some poor canine or other from derelict circumstances. We lost our Toby in 2013 which was extremely difficult. I was inconsolable. We have another rescued doggy now, Kelly, who is quite a handful, but also the most amiable dog on the planet.

I have also tried to save cats, chickens, and bunnies, too, on occasion. I used to wish I had a big farm where I could house and love all needy animals. Being around them is restorative on many levels for them and me. I am mystified that even when they have been so badly hurt and exploited in the past, they give-give-give to their new guardians in love beyond measure. I used to be stunned by the depth of feeling that all animals demonstrate.

VIP: What personal goals have you set for yourself in the coming years?

LS: Keep on truckin' for the sake of the animals, but find a way to intelligently manage EVEN's growth!

I also dream of creating a consortium of vegan groups so that we can wield more power and influence for legislation and education on behalf of the planet and the animals instead of doing the onesy-twosy thing we are all working at now.

RJ: To always continue to seek truth and then to make intelligent choices based on that truth. Author Stephen Covey said, "To know and not to do is really not to know."

Also, I want to show young people, in particular, the benefits and wisdom of a whole-food, plant-based diet so that they and their children may still have a chance on this planet.

VIP: What are some of the organizations you belong to and support?

LS: I have great respect and enduring admiration for so many who work diligently. Anyone who puts themselves "out there" so consistently in this sordid world trying to improve the wretched lives of the animals is a remarkable human being, a warrior in its truest sense. Heck, just living a gentle and humane life is downright heroic!

VIP: What leisure activities do you enjoy?

Eugene Veg Education network LS : Walking! In my younger years I danced and skated, but now I delight in walking and hiking, especially if it is in Nature where the air is clean, the trees are alive, and the birds are chirping. And reading! I love to read with every spare second I have. I fantasize about being locked in a library or a bookstore for a solid week surrounded by all my printed friends.

RJ: I enjoy table tennis, dancing, exercise, meditation, and exploring new truths.

VIP: What person or persons have had the most influence on your lives?

LS: Every person I have ever met, good and otherwise, has had a huge effect on me in countless ways. Friends, relatives, teachers, bosses, neighbors--oh my gosh, the list is endless. Whether I know them for a year or a lifetime or sometimes just a day, I learn something from all of them. I had a couple of bosses who were good mentors, so I gleaned the good stuff and blew the chaff away.

I have had the sweetest friends, the kindest relatives, and superior teachers--wherever I might find them--sometimes in unlikely places. My parents taught me the value of generosity and compassion and hard work.

And, of course, for almost three decades, Robert has been sharing his wisdom yet can still make me laugh under even the most trying circumstances.

RJ: There have been many but four especially stand out:

  1. Jiddu Krishnamurti who taught me the value of Meditation and accepting no authority but Truth--essential in a world full of lies and illusion.
  2. John Robbins whose book Diet for a New America came at just the right time in my life to make changing to veganism an easy choice.
  3. Dr. Norman Walker who taught me about enzymes and the wisdom of living plant foods.
  4. Dr. Anne Wigmore who taught me about the simple wisdom in sprouting, and the power of wheatgrass and herbs.

Eugene Veg Education Network VIP: What do you predict for the vegan movement in the next ten years?

LS: I have watched the vegan movement explode in the last couple of decades going from oddity to mediocrity to mainstream. Although most people don't want to be troubled by anything as harsh as the bloody reality, I believe, and have to trust, that when shown the atrocities caused by indifferent food choices, we can rise above our taste buds, conditioning, and tradition, and make improvements that have been right at our fingertips the whole time.

RJ: Global Warming and Climate Change are cracking the media-spun illusion that all is well. It is slowly exposing the lies that hold that illusion in place. They are still working hard to keep the people from seeing that veganism is essential to reversing this process and is indeed the one thing we can all actively do every day to make a difference. EVEN's efforts are aimed at exposing this truth. Hopefully, there can still be a chance for future generations.

We must all do our part. The Sustainability Page on our website explains the necessary changes we all must make for the sake of our children and future generations.

ViP: What do you see as your role in the movement?

LS: I don't know the next step in my journey, but helping others pull another brick from the Propaganda Wall seems worthwhile. I'm getting too old, but I'd be glad to help someone ignite the revolution that draws back that curtain!

The real watershed moment will come when each of us sees the role we have to play. We should prepare to be amazed at how much our actions can change the world, even if we don't see it at the time. How little or big a thing is that we do doesn't matter, just that we do it. In the long run, all things are big because they have big potential. Like the acorn is to the oak.

RJ: To attempt to live my own life in harmony with the health of the Whole, and to help others to do the same. No other path makes sense.

VIP: We may have omitted areas that are important to you. Please feel free to add anything you would like to share with our readers.

LS: Compassion is a choice, and it's the only choice worth making.

RJ: I agree.

Click here for past 24 Carrot Awards

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