Dr. Faraz Harsini–biomedical scientist and speaker at the 2023 Tampa Bay Veg Fest—remembers growing up in Iran, including a possible foreshadowing of his future activism, when participating in a student protest of the country’s leadership resulted in his being chased by someone wielding a machete. Harsini left the country at 22, recalling being mystified and mortified by the Iranian New Year’s tradition of displaying live goldfish, many of whom don’t survive. When designing a poster to protest the practice—this is while living in Germany—a friend observed the contradiction in his expressing love for the fish while still eating them. This swiftly resonated with him, prompting him to go vegan, and he recounts the impact of this friend’s observation like it was uttered yesterday. Meanwhile, he noted that in traveling his academic path (Bachelor’s in chemical engineering, Master’s degree in biotechnology and cancer research, PhD in Cell Physiology and Molecular Biophysics) his concern for animal welfare intersected with his studies and research, most prominently how certain diseases some cancers, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease—can be slowed, in some cases reversed, by following a plant-based diet. Harsini describes Allied Scholars for Animal Protection (ASAP), a nonprofit he founded and leads that supports college students who are committed to advocating for animal and environmental protection, public health, and other missions. He adds that ASAP has launched an initiative at Columbia University, urging the campus to become 100% plant-based. He offers a sneak preview of his then-impending Veg Fest lecture, bearing the provocative title, “Is The End Of Modern Medicine Near.” This followed an earlier moment of the conversation in which Harsini lamented that med school curriculum has generally not advanced when it comes to nutrition, neglecting to reflect the virtues of a plant-based diet. (https://farazharsini.com/, https://www.alliedscholars.org/, https://www.instagram.com/dr_faraz_harsini/, https://www.facebook.com/faraz.harsini)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Myriam Parham, one of the organizers (and co-founders) of the Tampa Bay Veg Fest, who provided an overview of the event to be held Saturday, Nov. 4, including noting this year’s Fest will feature upwards of 100 vendors—including many offering an array of food and drink—as well as a handful of cooking demonstrations. Parham notes that, per tradition, there will also be free food samples. She also touched on a reception-cum-fundraiser the night before, a new and multifaceted event that raised a considerable amount of money for two local organizations, Compassion Kind and Mercy Full Projects (whose founder, Aja Nikaya, was recently named Best Activist in Creative Loafing’s “Best Of The Bay” awards.) Parham pointed out that there would be live music, played by local musicians, as well as a varied slate of speakers, including Dr. Harsini, whom I’d just interviewed on the show. (http://www.tampabayvegfest.com/, https://www.compassionkind.org/, https://mercyfullprojects.org/)
COMEDY CORNER: Hari Kondabolu’s “A Vegan Long Con” (https://harikondabolu.com/)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
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