Book Review: Bleating Hearts By Mark Hawthorne »
If you’re thinking of reading an animal welfare-themed book this year, make it Mark Hawthorne’s breathtakingly well-researched and expertly written new book, Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering. Following his activism-focused first book Striking At The Roots, Hawthorne examines the many unseen sources of animal abuse, mistreatment, murder, and exploitation rampant in our world.
Bleating Hearts features lesser-discussed stories in animal welfare that are incredibly relevant in our modern times. As a vegan who considers herself to be relatively well-informed, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about many of the specific animal abuses mentioned in Hawthorne’s book. There’s literally so much shit that people do to abuse animals that Hawthorne has painstakingly uncovered, it’s almost unreal. Hawthorne isn’t out to shock—he’s out to inform, providing generous research and sources to show the reader her blind spots and shines light on societal blights many of us have no idea about.
If I were a gambling woman, I’d bet that many of the readers of this blog have recently enjoyed a 49ers or Raiders game either on the tele or in person. If you’re an NFL fan in any capacity, Hawthorne’s book provides the not-too-fun-but-super-important awareness that 35,000 cows are killed every year so their skin can be fashioned into NFL footballs. When I read that stat, I pretty much realized I can’t watch football anymore (not that Michael Vick did great things for the sport’s animal-related PR front). Hawthorne reveals most professional sports kill tens of thousands of cows to use their skin for their balls—and we call them national pastimes.
Have you ever adorned yourself with a pretty fashion feather so popular in fashion in the Bay (and many hippie circles) these days? These feathers didn’t just fall from the sky—they were plucked from live roosters who were abused and killed in the process on factory farms. I’m not sure the anti-oppression spirit of Burning Man jives with this. I have definitely seen vegans wearing these, and would urge them to check out the section of Bleating Hearts that covers the abuse in detail.
I love how cleverly participatory Bleating Hearts feels—in addition to tons of resources sprinkled throughout, the book asks you to consider the page span of the physical book itself and shows that the factory farm cages for battery hens are smaller. I knew battery cages were small, I don’t eat eggs anyway—but it really hit home when I considered that their miserable lives take place in no larger a space than the book page-span.
Other things Bleating Hearts exposes: the humane seafood myth; the trouble with overfishing these little Omega 3-powerhouses called Menhaden; Austalia is the largest exporter of live animals and wool and sheep used for wool are totally abused—there is no way to ethically wear wool, in case that was ever in doubt.
Hawthorne definitely conveys a lot of painful information, but his perspective that sunshine is the best disinfectant is one with which I can’t help but agree and applaud. Bleating Hearts is sad, but it is also incredibly hopeful. It even starts with a story of hope: a story about someone taking a stand against animal abuse. Mark is a tireless activist and it’s impossible whether talking to him in person or reading this book not to feel you can be doing more, too. But he’s also compassionate—while not going easy on animal abusers, he explains systems that are leading to cruelty. It’s not the 20-year old seal clubbers in Canada who are to blame—it’s that the industry exists and gives them the option to earn a living while killing.
I learned in Bleating Hearts that Neiman Marcus and other “upscale” stores were selling “faux fur” that was actually made out of animal products. Imagine the disappointment of spending a shit ton on a faux fur coat, only to discover it’s “fashioned” from a real dead animal? Devastating to the customer—and of course to the animals who died to make such a travesty. Hawthorne reminds us of the consequences of letting our vegan guards down for even a moment when financial interests are at stake.
A few other little tidbits I really appreciated learning about: the fact that water bottle maker Nalgene started out as making equipment for animal testing (gross!), camel wrestling, horse fighting, human and animal abuses inherent to the silk industries, how animals are used for domestic battery, the gross practice of taxidermy as art, and the sizable demand for animals killed for spiritual rituals.
If you care at all about human- and/or non-human animals, Bleating Hearts is essential reading. There is so much to learn about, and there’s no better nor more compassionate guide through the hidden world of animal suffering than Mark Hawthorne. Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering is available for purchase here.
BREAKING NEWS: FDA Recalls Vega Protein Powders For Antibiotic Contamination »
In June, 2012 I ordered some “Natural”-flavored Vega One Nutritional Shake through Amazon. I tossed it in fruit smoothies, raw chia porridge, nut milk, and used it up until it was gone about a month later. Our own Laura Beck wrote an article earlier this year about how much she digs these shake blends!
Imagine my surprise, more than one year after purchasing and consuming this protein powder, when I received a friendly little e-mail from Amazon linking to a press release from the FDA saying the Vega One Nutritional Shake Product I bought was recalled for antibiotic containing trace amounts of chloramphenicol (CAP), an antibiotic used to treat typhoid fever and eye infections!
Though the Vega products don’t contain any CAP in the ingredients lists, apparently some jerk enzyme supplier laced them with CAP because enzyme suppliers are crazy! According to Web MD, CAP can cause aplastic anemia and hella allergic reactions in some people. Pregnant or lactating women should not take this drug! Crap you guys, I ate a tub of this!
Here’s a little snippet from the FDA press release:
As a precautionary measure, Vega is voluntarily withdrawing all of the listed product from the market and has taken steps to ensure all future products are CAP-free, including using a different source of enzymes to prevent further potential contamination and assure consumers of product purity. These actions complete a voluntary product withdrawal and ingredient resourcing that applied to Canadian products as well.
“We’re doing this out of an overabundance of caution and to ensure that when you go to the shelf, you never have to wonder about the purity of a Vega product,” said Charles Chang, Vega President and Founder.
The Vega products were distributed nationwide in retail stores.
People who have severe sensitivity or allergies to chloramphenicol may run the risk of an allergic reaction if they consume these products. There have been no reported allergic reactions from the listed products.
It’s great that Vega voluntarily did this recall, and their new Vega Recall website looks snazzy! But also, like, aren’t recalls supposed to be for fucking gross meat products filled with salmonella, not vegan goodness backed by superhero athlete Brendan Brazier?
I ate this protein powder and I guess I got some trace amounts of CAP in my system. I feel fine, I guess? Still, kinda lame it took this long for them to figure this all out.
I certainly can forgive them, but the question is, will Vega survive this? On that FDA press release, it says you can get a refund. When I called, a lovely French-Canadian message played. I don’t speak French, so I’ll just assume they’re closed at 8p on a Tuesday! If you ordered CAP-traced products, you can call or email Vega for a full refund: 1-866-839-8863 or www.vegarecall.com
Why are we just finding out about this a year later? What is your favorite protein powder made from plants? Feel free to discuss while I continue to fall down a Web MD antibiotic research rabbit hole.
Vegan Yogurt Crisis 2013 Is Upon Us »
WholeSoy & Co. has announced its products will be unavailable until this fall.
If I had to choose one product that imitates the non-vegan world that I pretty much thought I needed to survive, it’d be WholeSoy & Co. unsweetened plain soy yogurt. The tubs of savory probiotic goodness are the best tasting soy variety I’ve found, completely vegan (of course!) and insanely versatile. I loved that it could be fashioned as a sour cream substitute, baked into lovely vegan desserts, or combined with sweeteners like stevia to become a pudding-like confection. I sometimes added nooch to it and called it “Alfredo sauce,” because I’m lazy and have been vegan for eight years and forget what anything animal-derived tastes like.
If, like me, you’ve been hella confused as to WHERE THE @#$@ WholeSoy & Co. yogurt has been for the past few months, you’re not alone. Where has all the WholeSoy gone? It turns out from the WholeSoy & Co. company blog, they got pretty screwed by the facility that produced their products and were forced to halt production:
From the WholeSoy yogurt blog:
"The facility that previously helped us make and package our soy yogurt (called a co-packer in the industry) abruptly closed its doors and stopped making our products giving us only three days’ notice. We were fortunate to have been in the process of setting up a new facility, but moving yogurt production is a complicated endeavor that typically takes six months or more to complete…We have already started with the first steps toward the new WholeSoy Yogurt facility and we’ll work quickly, but we are going to take the time to get every part right. We are aiming for the return of WholeSoy products this fall.”
Wow. I am sad to see the yogurt out of stock but it’s great that WholeSoy & Co. is going to create a new all-vegan yogurt factory!
Many of have been lamenting the (permanent?) end of beloved Wildwood on twitter:
Stay tuned with WholeSoy yogurt updates on their blog and Facebook. Follow Amande updates here. In the meantime, all I can find is So Delicious products: Coconut yogurt and that nasty vegan greek yogurts. Get those because DESPERATION, but I think we’ll be stoked for Fall 2013 when we get at least some of our yogurt favorites back!
How are you surviving Vegan Yogurt Crisis 2013?
Vegans: You’ve got four months to get your asses to Chicago for the fanciest, highest-concept, most ridiculous meal you will ever eat. Starting May 8, the theme for Grant Achatz’s rotating-menu, fancy-schmancy, modernist restaurant Next is VEGAN. See preview video above, which is actually more of a masturbatory inside joke about stealing vegetables from Chicago restaurants, but the music is good, so whatev.
This place is so crazy you don’t make a reservation or order a meal, you BUY A TICKET. And for four months only, we can actually eat there! The May tickets sold out in like two hours on Tuesday (sorry I’m not THAT on top of it), but I bet you can get rid of a kidney or something and find some on the underground market, or follow Next on Facebook or Twitter to hear about when June tickets go on sale.
If anyone goes, please document and share with us! I’m seriously considering buying a plane ticket for this. Seriously.
VIDEO: quarrygirl presents ms. cupcake vegan bakery in london »
i wish i could be more like owner mellissa morgan aka ms. cupcake. disappointed in the lack of british vegan baked goods when she moved to england from canada, she took matters into her own hands and started making treats in her tiny flat and selling them at a market stall. just three years later, ms. cupcake is a world famous bakery in brixton with over 150 different cupcake varieties, several other dessert lines, savory items, and a cookbook on the way.
we sat down with mellissa to chat about why she started baking, why all people (not just vegans!) enjoy her desserts, and how cupcakes can provide an inclusive experience. when in london, be sure to check out ms. cupcake—you won’t regret it!
Eating raw will not ruin your life! »
When Megan Rascal sent me this article asserting that a mostly raw diet is inherently unhealthful, I debated whether to write a response or just ignore it. It’s always a toss-up when ill-informed crap ends up in my inbox; I thought I might ignore it because I believe that giving press to bullshit can sometimes just perpetuate the bullshit, but I decided to respond because of the (growing? I hope not) misconception that raw food = crazy people food, and that high-to-fully raw people know nothing about nutrition or how to take care of ourselves, and are basically just all counting our days until our nutritional deficiencies kick in and turn us into vegetables.
The article I’m referring to, also published on a “science” blog, claims that a raw vegan diet is super unhealthful. I’ll be honest, it’s got some good (if obvious, already widely known) points in support of expanding a raw diet to incorporate cooked food. Yes, some cooked food has value, and yes, if you don’t supplement your B12 or take a multivitamin bad things will happen, but how the author takes these points and comes to such rash conclusions makes me wonder if he had a bad break-up with a raw vegan or something. When I read lines like “You have nothing to gain and much to lose by going totally or even mostly raw,” I wonder if this article was written to prove that the author’s target was on the wrong path, damn it, and look! now it says so on the Internet!
The piece completely misses the point of a high-raw vegan diet, which incorporates tons of raw greens, veggies, and fruits in whole, unprocessed form, and just picks on the zealots who refuse to supplement and only eat bananas. It even brings up the “you’ll kill your kids if you feed them raw food!” argument, which we have heard about all forms of vegan diets and continue to prove wrong.
(Side note: I hate it when vegan doctors are cited to prove that one vegan diet is better than another. This article cites Dr. Eseystein and Dr. McDougal, both of whom have made millions hawking their unique brands of veganism, as evidence against a high-raw vegan diet, which has its own doctors rooting for and staking millions in its value.)
I really appreciate Gena Hamshaw’s balanced, science-driven approach to raw food in her post “Why Raw? Revisiting the Question.” I love Vegan RD Ginny Messina’s compassionate post, “Raw or Cooked Foods? Which Is the Best Diet for Vegans?,” on why raw foodists should consider incorporating some (or lots) of cooked vegan foods to round out their diets and have an easier time staying vegan. There are plenty of folks who jettison veganism or raw veganism when health issues come up, and while I have no judgement for them I supremely admire folks who take every measure to hold true to their values while minding their health needs. Bonzai Aphrodite recently posted this beautiful long-read about how she’s navigated health issues while staying vegan. Brava! I wrote a Vegansaurus post about why there are so many ex-raw vegans and advocated for folks to consider adopting a more expansive raw vegan diet. In the context of these articles, the anger and all-or-nothing conclusions made by this article and many like it baffle me and make me think there’s a personal grudge.
Closing thoughts: Some (but not all) raw foodies are inflexible and unrealistic, just like some (but not all) vegans and some (OK, most) meat-eaters. Everyone should be taking B12, and probably a multivitamin, omega-3, and maybe a D supplement, too. Mostly raw vegans can be very happy and healthy. I am doing pretty damn well on a high-raw vegan diet that includes lots of raw greens-rich salads and raw smoothies and juices on the reg, as well as a variety of cooked foods. I just got my bloodwork done as a routine every-few-years thing so I can brag in articles like this, and my doctor said my blood is so groovy it makes her want to go vegan. So to the author of these articles, I say this: Please don’t judge all high-raw vegans based on a tiny fraction of us who go to extremes, and in return, I promise not to call the raw vegan who broke your heart and alert this person that you’re hella casting aspersions on them.
Product review: Raw chocolate-covered mulberries kick Raisinets’s ass! »
I’m always on the lookout for weird and crazy raw food, so when the Raw Chocolate Co. posted a glorious picture of chocolate covered Brussels sprouts on their Facebook, I was like OH DANG, this is my perfect food!
Sadly, it was a hoax, used to promote what they actually offer: raw cacao-coated mulberries.
After corresponding with an employee about why Brussels sprouts really should be doused in chocolate, she sent me their raw chocolate mulberries and they are seriously no joke. While they’re not candy derived from a brassica, which was my momentary life’s wish come true (and maybe still is a little bit), they are completely delicious and unique.
Here’s why: Think of your first experience with chocolate-covered dried fruit. If you didn’t grow up in Berkeley under the roof of hippie parents who raised you on public demonstrations and farmers’ market samples, your first experience with this dual-natured candy was likely in the form of Raisinets scarfed alongside your friends in the back of a movie theater. Raisinets are shitty and unethical and not at all vegan, but most of us learned to expect that chocolate-coated dried fruit would be chock-full of fillers and sickly sweet; the hard chocolate shell had tons of sugar, the raisins were sweet by themselves.
Now that you’re a grown-up and frequently dip into the bulk bins of organic chocolate-covered raisins at the Valencia Whole Foods or Rainbow, you’ve come to expect less child slavery and animal cruelty in the same hard shell/dried fruit format—it’s just how these things go.
Maybe it’s because Raw Chocolate and Co. is a British company, or maybe they’re true revolutionaries on all fronts—whatever the reason, their chocolate-covered mulberries defy any chocolate-covered fruit industry standards of which I’m aware. The mulberries are sprinkled with the cacao coating in a way that manages to preserve the integrity of the shape and texture of the mulberries, rather than masking their identity with uniform hard chocolate shells. The mulberries’ cacao coating is just the right amount of sweet (using really delicious unrefined sweetener coco palm sugar!) and isn’t a hard shell that takes a second to dissolve into its components but rather a melt-in-your mouth delicate glaze that gently gives way to the superior quality dried mulberries within.
The package also includes all kinds of helpful math about what’s in them: 44 percent mulberries, 56 percent chocolate. 74 percent cacao overall, raw cacao solids, cacao mass, coco palm sugar, cacao butter, cacao powder, and all fair trade—yay!
I highly recommend trying these raw vegan chocolate-covered mulberries. They come in the most adorable tin ever and would make perfect gifts for that special raw foodie or candy gourmand in your life. And stay tuned for my in-development recipe for raw chocolate covered-Brussels sprouts!
Need we say more? Vegan and Jewish, represent! Or just a potato enthusiast, that works too.
Click here or above for the recipe!
Love you, VegNews. Hanukkah begins Saturday night, but there is never a wrong time for potato pancakes.
Watch this: Ari Solomon’s “Shit Vegans Say!” »
You guys, first go watch “Shit Girls Say,” and then come back here. I’ll wait.
Are you back? Did you think it was funny? If so, 1) we could be TWINSIES, and 2) you should watch Ari Solomon’s take on “Shit Vegans Say.” And then chuckle because THIS IS OUR LIVES.
Quorn is going vegan! So reports VegNews. Quorn’s freaky, fungus-based faux-chicken patties were some of my favorite back when I ate eggs—really moist and different. Though it totally creeped me out to put eggs in fake chicken.
Props to Compassion Over Killing which helped prompt the new offering (I think they’ll still make their non-vegan ones too)!
Anyway, the vegan burger should hit over 1,000 stores nationwide next year. Let us know if you see them!