Backyard chickens: resourceful or evil? (comic included below!) »
I don’t eat eggs, but I’ve always said that if I did eat eggs, I’d want them to be from chickens that I had the chance to get know. You know, the kind of chickens that live in your backyard. That way, I’d be sure they weren’t suffering and creating an environmental apocalypse like those poor factory-farmed chickens. Once, before I was vegan, I even lived in a house with chickens in the yard, and they seemed to be all zen about their lives.
But maybe that’s not good enough.
I started thinking about this whole issue this week because of a listener-submitted Perspective on KQED radio. I was minding my morning business, falling over trying to put on pantyhose, when this lady comes on the radio all sad about how her neighbor didn’t like the noise her chickens made. In order to keep the peace, she gave them to a good home. She says she’s now buying her eggs from Trader Joe’s.
How’s a vegan girl to feel about this? Not all bads are created equal, and eggs from your yard seem to have a lot going for them that eggs from Trader Joe’s don’t. I respect omnivores who are making conscious choices about their food and trying to do better than the shudder-inducing status quo. These people should be our allies, right?
Then again, backyard chickens aren’t exactly zero-impact. But as an April Treehugger post by Sami Grover points out, no-impact is not an option for any of us. Tofurky, Daiya and even cashews and kale aren’t zero-impact either.
While I was mulling it over, an awesome comic on the subject by former UC Berkeley student Alfred Twu showed up in the Vegansaurus inbox. He makes some really good points I didn’t know about, like that chickens stop producing many eggs after a few years and then what do you do with them?
I’m going to present the comic in its entirety below, so just a few more thoughts before I do.
Obviously based on my life choices I think it’s best to abstain from chicken products of any kind. But I’m also really loathe to foist my choices on others, and as I said, I admire the thought and can-do spirit that often accompanies the decision to raise chickens.
So what do you think, readers? Deluded bourgeois cruel slavery? Well-intentioned but misguided? Better than the alternative, just like vegetarian is better than not? Let’s talk this shit out!
Also read the comic because it’s AWESOME. Alfred made it
in response to at a time when an ordinance being considered in Oakland, and his a group has a petition against the ordinance you can sign if you want.
Ok, without further ado, the COMIC! Don’t forget to discuss in the comments section. It’s like homework but awesomer.
Chicken image at the top used under CC license via Lost Albatross on Flickr.com
Interview: Alexis Barrera! »
Alexis Barrera is a photographer and cartoonist living in New York and he’s totally vegetarian! You can check out his comics at Oaktowncrack.com. He’s my new pal and was kind enough to do an interview for vegansaurus!
Where were you born?
I was born in Mexico City and lived there for 11 years before moving to America. I hear that’s like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 11 years.
When/why did you move to SF? How long did you live there?
My parents moved to San Francisco in ‘88, and I stayed with them until ‘94 when I moved away to college.
When did you move to Oakland?
I moved back to San Francisco in ‘99 and then over to Oakland in 2000. I stayed put there for 9 years.
When/why did you move to New York?
After 20 years in the Bay Area, I was starting to feel like a townie. I wasn’t ready to settle down, so it became time to make the obligatory pilgrimage to New York.
I moved to the Greenpoint YMCA on April Fool’s day of 2009 and moved to Manhattan 10 days later. The residents of the YMCA could really use some advice on nutrition, let me tell you.
How long have you been vegetarian?
I hated most meat as a kid, and would only eat hamburgers and hotdogs as a teenager. I stopped eating meat altogether in the fall of ‘96.
Are you vegetarian for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
Initially I quit for health reason, but nowadays when I guilt-trip carnivores I also bring up animal cruelty and the environment.
Do you ever include a vegetarian message in your comics?
Definitely. Here’s an example [“Munchy” left; drawn after watching Super Size Me].
Do you have a day job, or do you draw comics full-time?
I’m a programmer by day; the rest of the time I think of myself as a sequential artist.
I’m better known for my photography than my drawings, but it’s all the same to me.
Who are some of your favorite cartoonists, vegan/vegetarian or not?
The best vegan cartoonist I can think of is Dan Piraro. I’m not sure what R. Crumb, Keiji Nakazawa, or Art Spiegelman eat…but it probably had a nervous system at some point.
Can you draw animals really well? Can you draw me as an animal? Will you do a portrait of Figaro for free? Yes?
Here’s a daguerreotype of Figaro on his way to the opera, circa 1877:
[Megan Rascal note: AWESOME!!! Exclamation point!!!]
My two tabbies live in California with their kitty mama. They were abducted from a feral colony when they were kittens, and are inseparable, as you can tell from this photograph:
What is your favorite animal?
Besides my tabbies, I’ve grown quite fond of French Bulldogs, the official pet of the city of New York.
Favorite vegan food to make?
I’m a terrible cook, but my housemate makes delicious ratatouille.We don’t eat it with cheese.
How does New York compare to the Bay Area, in terms of vegan and vegetarian food?
I haven’t lived in New York long enough to make a fair comparison, restaurant-wise. So far I haven’t had trouble finding meatless meals.
Based on food options alone, which is your favorite comics show to travel to?
Wondercon in San Francisco is within walking distance of a trillion good eateries.
Any tips for traveling cartoonists?
Find a place to stay on couchsurfing.com…and don’t walk around with headphones at night, that’s always a terrible idea.
Do you have one drawing tip to share?
I put together a cross-hatching tutorial here.
What’s the deal with Oaktown Crack Comics?
Society marginalizes drug addicts while encouraging all other forms of over-consumption. Crackheads, tweakers, and junkies aren’t any more evil than investment bankers and obese couch potatoes [Ed.: That’s half of our writers. Watch your back, bro!], so we should all be more tolerant and focus on harm reduction instead of arbitrary law enforcement. Oaktown Crack Comics attempt to depict drug addicts more accurately and with a little compassion.
Life in SF seemed to play a big role in your comics, do you think New York will have a similar influence?
I like to think that my comics aren’t particularly SF-centric, but rather slum-centric. New York’s fringe scene is less overt and the authorities here are disgustingly oppressive, so I’m sure I’ll be drawing comics about that soon.
What exciting upcoming projects can we look forward to?
I’m writing an instructional booklet on using 3D software to create 2D comics and animations that look hand-drawn.
Further down the road, I’m trying to combine Naked Lunch and a modern physics textbook into some sort of sci-fi graphic novel. I’ve got a bunch of scripts about what happens in between Big Bangs.
Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
Know where I can get good vegan winter boots? I don’t want my toes to fall off.
A: Check Steve’s men’s winter boot round-up!
I’ve seen this posted on several vegans’ Facebook pages and it bums me out. Let’s get some things straight: there are lots of fat vegans, being fat isn’t a bad thing, Skinny Bitch isn’t a thing, period, THE END FOREVER.
Crap like this is alienating and cruel and hateful and stupid. A person’s body is not reflective of their worth, so quit it. Besides, I know some damn skinny meat-eaters and some big fat vegans and it’s ALL GOOD. Skinny, fat, tall, short, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, intersexed, inner-sexed, transgendered, Lady Gaga-ed, black, white, Cuban, and Asian*—it’s all gravy, baby.
Also, I’m finna be real with you, which family up there do you want to party with? I’m gonna go with the awesome fatties. The son is totally chowing down on a drumstick from Golden Lotus and he is OFFENDED that you would insinuate otherwise. Further, what is with their hands, especially the fat dad’s right one? Is it a claw? Because then he’s extra badass.
*or wait, is that a list of the types of ladies that Will Smith wants to bone? Whatever, it works.
Update (11:32 a.m.): Did you guys know I made a zine about awesome it is to be fat and it includes tons of vegan positive stuff in it? YOU CAN BUY IT FOR THREE BUCKS! It has lots of glitter and includes crazy awesome hot fat girl art. OWN IT!
Update (12:03 p.m.): This just came out TODAY: “Today it is believed that approximately 25-30% of obese individuals remain metabolically healthy (normal blood glucose, blood lipids, blood pressure, and cytokine profile) despite their excess weight.” Check it! The more you read about this shit, the more you realize that we’re been duped by the diet and pharmaceutical industries, and the complicit (and often self-regulated) government agencies that oversee them. There’s gold in them thar fat folds!