I know quite a few vegans. Their numbers seem to be growing, but I’m not one of them. I believe that if God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them so delicious. To me, there is no question that a real hamburger is much tastier than a tofuburger. Nevertheless, I always keep a few vegan items in my chocolate room. My favorite vegan item is my dark chocolate orange slices. Last month I went to a dinner party. I knew that 2 of the people who were coming to the dinner are vegans, so I brought 2 chocolate bars that I made just for them, semisweet chocolate with toasted almonds However, this couple refused to take them, saying that almonds are not vegan. I thought about that for a moment and said: “Why aren’t almonds vegan?” They said that all almonds require honey bees for pollination. No bees means no almonds. I already knew that. I told them: “But you aren’t eating the bees. You are eating the almonds.” The husband pulled up a web site ‘Almonds Are Not Vegan’ on his cell phone and told me to read it. According to this web site, vegans shouldn’t eat almonds because the bees that pollinate almond trees are “exploited” and are “not paid for their labor.” I don’t know how an almond farmer would go about paying bees for their labor. I also don’t know what bees would do with paychecks if they got them. It isn’t just almonds that are dependent on honey bees for pollination. Without honey bees, we wouldn’t have any tree fruits or nuts; including apples, pears, cherries, oranges, avocados, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, etc. All of the vegans who I know personally eat tree fruits and nuts, so this doesn’t seem to be a universally accepted definition of the word ‘vegan.’ I intend to continue to put almonds and other nuts in my chocolate bars and without paying the bees. Here’s that web site: Almonds Are Not Vegan.

The California Drought

California is now in the fourth year of a record drought. We should all be thinking about what we can do to save water; however, there isn’t much I can do. Years ago, I replaced all the 5 gallon flush toilets in my rentals with 1.6 or 1.2 gallon high efficiency toilets. I replaced all the showerheads with low flow showerheads. Most of the trees and plants at my properties get no irrigation. The ones that are on irrigation are native and dry climate varieties.

I think that eventually this state will have to have to be a showdown with the farm lobby over water use. California farms consume 80% of the state’s surface water, but they account for only 2% of the state’s GDP. Even worse, there has been a huge increase over the past 20 years in the planting of very thirsty crops like almonds and walnuts. Incredible as it may sound, it takes over 1 gallon of water to grow 1 almond, and it takes 5 gallons of water to grow 1 walnut. It seems ridiculous to me for growers to be increasing the planting of walnut and almond trees during a drought, but that is what is happening. California nut growers have a very well financed and powerful lobby in Sacramento.