In which the New York Times Magazine demonstrates they kinda hate vegans, but really love pretentious dudes who put weird shit in ice cream!   »

The New York Times Magazine printed a 4,000 word advertisement for article about Humphrey Slocombe that included some rather negative/poorly researched Vegansaurus mentions. I know standards for the NYT mag aren’t too high—look at the kind of folks they work with; But still, disappointing. Anyway, I wrote a letter to the editor as a response and am going to publish it in full here because at this moment, I’m righteously indignant and can’t nobody stop me!

Aaaaannnnd so, without further ado:

Dear Editors,
My blog, Vegansaurus, was mentioned several times in Elizabeth Weil’s piece, “I’ll Take a Scoop of Prosciutto, Please” regarding Jake Godby, the proprietor of the alternative ice cream shop “Humphrey Slocombe.” Six paragraphs of the 4,000 word article were devoted to critics of the establishment, Vegansaurus foremost among them.

Intriguingly, although Godby’s opinion of Vegansaurus and the San Francisco vegan community were strongly conveyed, his critics were given no opportunity to respond to his assertions or the distorted history Weil reports as fact. Our review of Humphrey Slocombe was not linked in the article (although the link advertising Humphrey Slocombe
demonstrates your content management system has this capability). Nor were any of the editors of Vegansaurus contacted for comment.

Had I been asked for comment, I would have informed Weil that,
contrary to her assertion that our website “started” the “conflict” between Godby and the SF vegan community, community protests against Humphrey Slocomb’s indifference to animal welfare pre-dates my post on Vegansaurus. I also would have told her that I intended my review to be a partial defense of the establishment for offering vegan choices. I later amended the review after reader comments cataloged Godby’s history of aggressive antipathy to contentious eaters.

As the article itself notes without comment, Godby leaves meat in a vegan grocery as a form of recreation. Given how the article opts to demonstrate Godby’s distaste for vegans and vegetarians, it seems particularly irresponsible for the reporter to deny his targets an opportunity to offer their perspective.

We would also have been happy to offer our assistance as to the correct use of contemporary media terminology—she describes our website as a “vegan collective,” a term employed nowhere on our site. It’s an odd way to describe a publication, unless one is seeking to subtly discredit its authors by implying they are some sort of subterranean cabal, rather than a group of free-lance writers with a popular website. Would you refer to the the New York Times as a “news collective”?

It is great that she did take the time to meet the folks behind the twitter account Jasper Slobrushe, but couldn’t even take the two minutes to shoot an email our direction.

That at no point neither Weil nor the editors we presume examined this article before it appeared in print or online noted these points seems especially odd, given how many traditional journalists (though, to be fair, I do not know that either Weil nor her editors make this argument) argue that their work has more value that that of many folks who work exclusively online (aka bloggers) because the traditional folks ‘pick up the phone’ or ‘actually get comment from people.’

I am hopeful you can respond to my concerns,
Laura Beck
A Founding Editor


“ Siebert deftly explores the connection between violence against animals and other forms of violence, but he avoids the implications. The article mentions that children who witness violence toward their family pet “suppress their own feelings of kindness and tenderness toward a pet because they can’t bear the pain caused by their own empathy for the abused animal.” That would appear to be exactly what people do whenever they sit down to eat. No matter how hard people pretend not to, we all know what happens to the animals who end up on our plates. What does our willing ignorance of this violence toward billions of animals do to us as a culture? „

From Mariann Sullivan’s (she’s the deputy chief court attorney at the New York State Appellate Division and former chair of the animal law committee of the New York City Bar Association and the current love of my life HANDS OFF PEOPLE) excellent letter to the editor in response to the New York Times Magazine article, “The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome”. 

It just sums everything up perfectly. I hope every snob who reads that paper (WHO READS THE PAPER, LAURA!??! You have a point, Dear Reader.), sits down to their steak dinners with maybe a small thought of how screwed up their plates are and how we’re ALL part of the huge, fucked-beyond-words problem. What is this doing to us as a culture? I have a few guesses and that Tolstoy quote, “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” keeps coming to mind.

Ugh, how do we fix us? I guess I will start with a few cupcakes at today’s East Bay Vegan Bakesale

[Hat tip, Sarah! Thanks, lady!]


Ike’s neighbors want $1 million from him to stay in business  »

You read that right. According to the New York Times' Bay Area blog, Ike's neighbors have laid out their demands, and they're ridiculous, bordering on extortion. Doubting that any demands could be that ridiculous, I went down to Ike's Place and talked to him in more detail. So here are the facts, according to Ike.

Ike’s neighbor dispute is between Ike and the two couples living in the two apartments above him. The two couples are renters, sharing a landlord with Ike. The neighbors on either side are either supportive or neutral, and many are his regular customers.

There are three separate legal actions taking place: the eviction, a small claims case with one couple, and the settlement demands discussed in the Times blog post. We’ll call the two couples A (small claims case couple) and B (million-dollar-demand couple).

In the small claims case, Ike had engaged in settlement discussions, but A stopped responding. The court date is July 1, and damages in small claims are limited to $7,500. If Ike were to lose the case, A could still open another case outside of small claims for additional damages.

The “$1 million” demand is one of four possible settlement options presented to Ike by couple B:

  • Ike must “drastically” adjust hours and business practices, as defined by couple B. Ike must sign over to B the backyard and garage that he leases from the landlord. In addition, Ike must pay $250,000 to couple B.
  • Ike stays, changes nothing, and pays $800,000 to couple B.
  • Ike stays and pays nothing, and couple B sues Ike in court.
  • Ike leaves and pays $200,000 to couple B.

Remember, these aren’t the landlord’s demands. If the landlord successfully evicts Ike, Ike would still have to either pay $200,000 or face a lawsuit, in addition to his legal fees from the eviction—a tall order for a business that only broke even in December.

Ike plans to fight the eviction in court (no court date has been set at this time) realizing that the alternative would mean immediately laying off his staff. The grounds for the eviction? “Nuisance.” But according to Ike, he’s been inspected and visited by various city departments over 40 times, including the health department, the building department, and the San Francisco Police Department. He has never received a single citation—not even on the air quality inspections.

The permit complaint is about air quality. As a remedy, Ike installed a ventilation hood over his kitchen area in January, which was fully permitted by the city. However, the neighbor complained to the landlord before the final inspection, and the landlord ordered Ike to halt all construction on the hood. As we spoke, the hood was installed and turned off.

In other words, the legal grounds for the eviction are nothing more than a pretense for evicting Ike. If they really cared about the air quality and permit issue, they wouldn’t have stopped Ike from finishing construction on the hood.

An interesting twist to the story? Who-Wants-to-Be-a-Millionaire couple B moved into their apartment 19 years ago, at which time Ike’s was a noisy bar, where loud music would rattle through the house, sometimes as late as 3 a.m. The noisy bar is why their rent is so cheap, and probably explains why they’re so reluctant to give up 19 years of rent control. But I don’t know what explains the $800,000 demand. Leverage? Greed? Who knows. All I know is that $800k would get you a pretty nice place in quiet Walnut Creek. City living isn’t for everyone, after all.



I heard they eat women  »

I know new words are fun, but you can’t just go around inventing them willy-nilly! “Cybersex”: very important word development; “femivore”: SOME BULLSHIT.

The New York Times offers up this new concoction as a combination of locavorism and modern housewifery and/or feminism. The writer, Peggy Orenstein from our very own Berkeley, Calif., has a few friends who grow their own food and now are all buying chickens. Then BAM! Femivores! No, it’s actually not people who eat women. It’s women who are stay-at-home moms and make all their own stuff like clothes and now I guess eggs.

To be honest, I think I’m missing a few steps. You can read for yourself and see. Or maybe it’s just that the whole literary aesthetic is too distracting because it makes me want to vom. Who can say. Check it out:

"All of these gals—these chicks with chicks—are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin. I don’t think that’s a coincidence: the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper. ‘Prior to this, I felt like my choices were either to break the glass ceiling or to accept the gilded cage,’ says Shannon Hayes, a grass-fed-livestock farmer in upstate New York."

Glass ceiling or gilded cage? I know that’s a quote, but bleeeeeh! I need a shower! And what about men who grow their own food? Or women who grow their own food and have a job outside the home? Or what about words that already exist and aren’t ridiculous? I also doubt that this is anything new. Isn’t this just kind of a farmer? What makes them femivores? That they have chickens or that they are middle class?


Your backyard chickens are SO new great depression  »

The New York Times is reaching for human-interest stories, for real, especially about anything that someone without a Manhattan ZIP code might have a passing interest in reading; how will the industry survive if only the rich are buying newspapers? There aren’t very many of them, after all.

Thus we are presented with articles like this nonsense on home-raised chickens. Gosh, says the reporter, seems like folks these days are doing more and more things at home that they used to have done for them! Is it, maybe, kind of, a return to simpler times, not happier ones but those nasty days when people had to be self-sufficient or else they would not survive? Perhaps! This article quotes a lot of people who are keeping chickens in their backyard, where last August no chickens were. This must make it a trend, and how great! Organic, free-range, hormone-free chickens and eggs that come from your own home—all the niche food interest groups are pleased.

But there is a spanner in the works! As it happens, raising your own chickens takes a lot of time and effort. They are not cats, all naps and playing and eating and naps; chickens need outdoor buildings, special food, room to run around, protection from predators, all kinds of extras. Plus, eatin’ chickens are much bigger than layin’ chickens, and thus require significantly more food, which costs money. One of these backyard farmers estimated that each chicken cost $8, while a person could buy a “whole cooked” chicken at a grocery store for $1.99. Sustaining yourself is expensive! Good thing these peasant-farmers aren’t wasting their backyards on things like gardens with vegetables and legumes; they need room for their chickens, each of whom’ll one day make one and a half delicious family meals.

Backyard chickens: Your profit is significantly lower than your original investment, AND you get to participate in the great human tradition of nurturing animals’ lives only to destroy them for your appetite(s). Almost makes me wish I were nasty clever enough to take on such an enterprise myself.


Friday Link-o-rama: Veggie Awards, Naked Dudes, The Tofu Xpress & More!  »

IMPORTANT: The VegNews polls close at 11:59 p.m. on July 31, and we want you to write Vegansaurus in for Best Veg Blog! Also, win prizes. Yes! Time to root for the Underdino! If there are any prizes, we’ll totally share.

Veggie Trader provides free classifieds for home-grown produce! People like Meave’s parents, who have uncontrollably prolific orange and peach trees, should really get in on this. The site expressly prohibits the trade of meat, eggs, and dairy products (yes!), and Californians must obey both statewide import laws and quarantine orders for the light brown apple moth.

Ezra Klein is PISSED about how cheap chicken is; <3 that Ezra Klein.

Factory farms are all, We are beneficial to rural communities! And small farmers are all, Actually the stench from your animal torture chambers is poisoning our air, and the runoff is poisoning our water! Amazingly, courts are siding with the small farmers.

Men can get naked for animal rights, too!

The New York Times gives you 101 simple salads, in neat little categories. Nos. 1-36 are “mostly vegan.” Incidentally, Synergia Soyfoods makes this scrumptious vegan feta cheese that tastes so authentic that the first time I ate it I teared up with joy, if you are looking to make salads that ask for such an ingredient.

The Times also presents the crème brûlée cart guy as Mr. Small Business Twitter San Francisco. Vegansaurus strenuously objects to such representation.

The Long Now Foundation! (est. 01996) is hosting a seminar with the authors of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. They both teach at UC Davis—an excellent school!—and are married, which makes this lecture sound even more appealing. Go learn something on Tuesday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cowell Theater; tickets are $10.

Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Williamsburg has awesome vegan by the slice. AND THIS TRASH CAN. SO AWESOME. Here is a photo of Laura eating vegan pizza at Vinnie’s. If that doesn’t get your motor running, I don’t know what will. Laura wrote this.

So, gianty meaty soups. Campbell’s Chunky: FULLY LOADED is over one pound of “meat” and whatever the hell else, vegetables, say; the Pho Gardens CHALLENGE BOWL is two pounds of noodles with two pounds of “beef with tripe.” In general, the world is fucking disgusting, NEVER FORGET. discusses the extinction of Bluefin Tuna. SO SAD PLEASE STOP EATING FISH.

The Tofu Xpress, an amazing new gadget that helps make tofu even more delicious, gets a review over at Notes from a Vegan Feast. What have you done for Vegansaurus lately? THE ANSWER: Bought us this miracle-worker! Please! You’re so wonderful, that’s the thing about you. SO GIVING.

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