Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!
Big week, so buckle up!
First, the Sunday New York Times had a cover feature about the meat industry’s efforts to ban investigations by HSUS and fellow animal protection groups. It even included a full-color HSUS photo of a crated pig on A1 of the paper. As well, the NYT editorial board condemned the industry’s effort, noting “the ag-gag laws guarantee one thing for certain: increased distrust of American farmers.”
(Another interesting NYT story)
Speaking of pigs, remember last year’s major HSUS investigation into a then-Tyson supplier gestation crate confinement facility? Well, we announced this week that several of the people caught on the video were convicted of criminal animal cruelty.
Finally, I did a half-hour segment on Miami’s NPR affiliate this week about the need to reduce per capita rates of meat consumption.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. Video of the week
P.P.S. Live in Mass? Hope to see you Sunday!
Tons of mice die needlessly for health testing. Thanks, science »
It’s no secret that loads of mice (literally hundreds of thousands) have been sacrificed to science for “research” purposes to help cure all kinds of human ailments. This has always been a tricky subject for vegans, because, you know, it’s medical ethics, duh. But it turns out that a new study recently reported in the New York Times suggests that all those mice very likely died in vain.
The bottom line of the study is that billions of dollars have been wasted and, like, mice cancer and heart disease is different from people cancer and heart disease. I know the precautionary principle is a moot point when it comes to mice when you’re a big fancy scientist being backed by a big fancy drug company, but I strongly believe that we shouldn’t just kill mice before we’re, you know, sure about this stuff. And it turns out people weren’t. At all. And now those mice are looking down on us from mouse heaven except there is no mouse heaven and oh I’m crying now so just excuse me while I leave out some peanut butter for the neighbors’ mice.
[Photo by Andrew via Flickr]
Life as a lab animal is the worst: Thousands of NYU’s test rodents drowned this week »
Despite being “one of the largest and most valuable [collection of carefully bred rodents] of its kind in the country,” the thousands of mice and rats living in a cellar in New York University’s Smilow Research Center drowned in the Sandy-related flooding that began on Monday night. The New York Times reports that while most of the test-subject animals housed at the Smilow Center were rescued, workers could not save something like 10,000 rats and mice.
But don’t worry:
Already scientists at two research centers, the University of Pennsylvania and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, have pledged to donate animals to restart some of the Smilow center’s colonies. “That’s the one really positive thing to come out of this,” Dr. Fishell said. “Individuals in the research community, who in most businesses would be considered my competitors, have been eager to help.”
Phew! I know I’m relieved our scientists can get back to torturing those animals in the name of humanity ASAP.
[Photo by Pockafwye via Flickr]
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Animal News You Can Use from Paul Shapiro! Yay, Paul! Yay, animals!
The latest beef in the battle between the pork industry’s leadership and HSUS is a newly filed lawsuit. HSUS charges that the National Pork Board struck an unlawful “ham scam” backroom deal with the National Pork Producers Council to purchase the “Pork: The Other White Meat” slogan. The purchase is bankrolling a third of the NPPC’s annual budget, which includes waging anti-animal lobbying efforts.
Both ConAgra and Dunkin Donuts announced in the past week that they’re eliminating gestation crates from their supply chains. Despite ConAgra being based in Nebraska, true to form, the head of the Nebraska Farm Bureau derided the company’s move and assured the public that “The use of gestation crates is really a better way to care for hogs.” The dude may as well be defending the NFL replacement refs…
In non-NFL news, my esteemed coworker at HSUS, Dr. Michael Greger, has a piece that was on the CNN home page about the public health dangers of factory farming.
Finally, the New York Times had a good feature last week on how mainstream vegan eating is in Southern California. Check it out!
Video of the week: Dog meets trampoline:
The New York Times asks, Can vegans and carnivores get along? “Duh, of course,” says Moby »
Seems like the New York Times is opening its innocent baby eyes to the realities of vegan life, i.e., it’s ridiculously great to be vegan these days, and also, we can get along with omnivores just fine.
Who agrees? Moby, our elfin mascot for do-gooding white guys.
If we go back 25 years, there was a lot more intolerance in the vegan world. … There was a lot more militant us-and-them approach. And that, to a large extent, seems to have fallen by the wayside, both from a vegan perspective and from the non-vegan perspective. Vegans are perfectly happy now, for the most part, to hang out with people who don’t agree with them 100 percent And maybe one or two nights a week, carnivores seem pretty happy to go to a vegetarian restaurant.
What do you all think? I mean, until animal agriculture becomes so globally unsustainable that people are forced to stop eating meat, we vegans can’t live isolated from non-vegans. So let’s live in tandem, drag them along to our wonderful restaurants, woo them with baked goods, and teach them of our ways.
And I know, when you talk about it like this, veganism sounds like a total cult, but we’re not crazy; we’re right. Also, Moby thinks we’re better looking, which is totally true, right?
I was out to dinner last night at a Japanese vegan restaurant downtown, and I’m 47, and most of my friends were in their 30s and 40s, and I was looking around and to some extent I felt they had all discovered this fountain of youth. … I’m not even going to include myself in this, because I think I look kind of old and homeless. But the people I was eating with, they all looked at least 10 years younger than they actually were. And all of them had been vegetarian or vegan for at least 20 years.
[Photo by S. Diddy via Flickr]
(Source: The New York Times)
Per the New York Times, everything’s coming up vegan in Los Angeles! »
In fact, from power tables in Beverly Hills to pubs in the San Fernando Valley, the surging popularity of plant-based diets is drastically changing the dining landscape. That shift is under way in various cities around the world, but it’s happening in an explosive way in and around Los Angeles: at the elite gastronome-magnets, at casual gathering spots and everywhere in between.
And then Jeff Gordinier goes on to list some of the many amazing vegan foods available in L.A. There’s also a slide show that makes me want to move down south at ONCE. I love San Francisco, but where is our creamy raw pea soup? Where is our giant sandwich with deep-fried avocado? Where can eat creamy corn ravioli and shamelessly ogle celebrities?
If you like to torture yourself with all the amazing L.A. vegan food you can’t have, there’s always our pal Quarrygirl. She knows how to live.
[Photo by Anais Wade and Dax Henry for the New York Times]
Open discussion: If plants communicate, is it ethical to eat them? »
Adam poses an interesting question at Say what, Michael Pollan?: Should communication between pea plants raise tough issues for vegetarians?
This comes from a New York Times blog post about a Ben-Gurion University study in which a pea plant subjected to drought conditions would then “[relay] to its neighbors the biochemical message about the onset of drought, prompting them to react as though they, too, were in a similar predicament.”
The Times then asks, If plants can talk, are they sentient, and can people who don’t eat meat for ethical reasons continue to eat plants, if they’re essentially the same as animals, WELL YOU HYPOCRITES?
This is one of those “trick the vegan” questions that particularly irritates me, even more than “What about the animals killed in the production of soybeans?” As though there weren’t a million other terrible things happening to most animals on factory farms. As though the only reason I’m vegan is because I anthropomorphize animals. Yes, do no harm, but in a world where humans do all the harm, you have to prioritize your harm-reduction, and for me, animals that definitely suffer are more important than plants that communicate.
Adam, of course, takes a nuanced approach to the subject—“an argument based on a need to be logically consistent doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously if it isn’t itself logically consistent.” We, on the other here mostly to yell. When people use interesting scientific discoveries as another way to make us look hypocritical (maybe because you see your own hypocrisy when you look at us?), it makes me angry.
So let’s discuss! How do you feel about the idea of communicative plants? Do you think plants are sentient? What about the whole “eating things without a central nervous system is still totally vegan” debate?
Who won the New York Times’ “ethical meat” essay contest? »
You guys, check it out: The in-vitro-meat vegetarian won the essay contest in the New York Times! I voted for this essay, because of ethics and also aesthetics—it’s totally weird to think about eating meat that isn’t dead.
The last paragraph is particularly powerful; allow me to quote:
In vitro meat is real meat, grown from real cow, chicken, pig and fish cells, all grown in culture without the mess and misery, without pigs frozen to the sides of metal transport trucks in winter and without intensive water use, massive manure lagoons that leach into streams or antibiotics that are sprayed onto and ingested by live animals and which can no longer fight ever-stronger, drug-resistant bacteria. It comes without E. coli, campylobacter, salmonella or other health problems that are unavoidable when meat comes from animals who defecate. It comes without the need for excuses. It is ethical meat. Aside from accidental roadkill or the fish washed up dead on the shore, it is perhaps the only ethical meat.
So once the test tube meat comes, will you eat it? I am … undecided. It’s just so strange, I can’t wrap my head around it!
Which Times reader makes the best case for ethical meat? A Vegansaurus voter’s guide »
Remember that contest the NY Times announced last month, calling on readers to “Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat”? The quintet of white dudes have chosen their finalists, and now you can read their six top essays and vote on which one makes the best case for (or against!) ethical meat.
I’ve quoted the best part of each one below, for your giggling/eye-rolling/cheering pleasure.
Contestant No. 1 says:
If it is not morally wrong to kill animals, then it shouldn’t horrify us to do so. That may be right. But this recognition has little tendency to remove the sense of horror we feel at what is going on.
Totally, contestant No. 1. If it’s not wrong, why is it so goddamn awful?
Contestant No. 2 says:
Almost 25 years after deciding it was wrong to eat animals, I now realize that it’s not that simple. There is an ethical option — a responsibility, even — for eating animals that are raised within a sustainable farm system and slaughtered with the compassion necessitated by our relationship.
Totally, contestant No. 2. You owe it to your “hapless chickens” to kill and eat them! If you’re not going to do it, how else will you prove your point?
Contestant No. 3 says:
Eating meat ethically, on this view, requires explaining why we kill by pointing to other things of moral worth. This does not justify the killing — if our situation is tragic, that cannot be our aim — but it does suggest how we can eat meat ethically, albeit wrongly.
Totally, contestant No. 3. On the scale of “murdering your children” to “buying some prepackaged chicken breasts at Costco because they’re already separated into servings and all you have to do is dump one on a pan and broil it and now your kids won’t starve on a busy Thursday night,” buying the dead chicken is less amoral.
Contestant No. 4 says:
For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.
Totally, contestant No. 4. We are all made of stars, which means if you say, “Thanks for not being a predator and for being made of delicious tissues, cow,” paying for someone to raise and kill and cut it up for you is like completing the circle of life. Also Native People, and Hakuna Matata.
Contestant No. 5 says:
Aside from accidental roadkill or the fish washed up dead on the shore, [lab-grown, in vitro meat] is perhaps the only ethical meat.
Totally, contestant No. 5. While it’d probably weird me the fuck out, if you really want meat, it’s got to be harmless, lab-grown tissues that were never part of a sentient being. I feel you.
And contestant No. 6 says:
The eating of animals is paramount to the production of food in a system that embraces the whole of reality. This is why eating meat is ethical. To not consume meat means to turn off a whole part of the natural world.
Totally, contestant No. 6. If you don’t eat meat, you might as well be a robot who eats oil, or like, one of those gross poor people who eat nothing but Oreos and Home Run Pies (for the fruit) and never sees the sun. It’s unrealistic not to eat meat!
I don’t know who I’m voting for. Maybe the proponent of the in vitro hamburger, because I like the “roadkill and pre-dead fish are the only ethical meat” argument. Maybe the one who points out that “killing things feels wrong because it is wrong, how about listening to your gut, jerks.” What about you? Who’s got your vote? You’ve only got till midnight tonight, April 24, to do it, so read up.
[Image from NYT by Russell Bell]