vegansaurus!

10/17/2012

2012 election: What’s up with California’s Proposition 37?  »

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Vegansaurus loves voting. It is our right to have it, and our privilege to exercise it. Voting is tops!

That said, actually voting can be terribly confusing, especially here in California, land of the endless ballot propositions! There are always so many, and they are not all as straightforward as 2008’s beloved Prop. 2. This year we’ve got 11, some directly contradicting others ON THE SAME BALLOT, WHY.

KQED’s Calfornia Report recently reported on Prop. 37, “Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling Initiative Statute,” as part of its series on all 11 of California’s 2012 ballot initiatives. Here’s the latest report, by science reporter Amy Standen: 

Prop. 37 is endorsed by our pals at Pepple’s Donuts (check out the signs in the shop!), and the wonderful human beings at Dr. Bronner’s.

On the other hand, Adam of the wonderful Say What, Michael Pollan? blog has a well researched, reasonable, and scathing critique of Prop. 37. He concludes that

… Proposition 37 is bad politics. Dragging ill-informed and uninterested consumers into a dirty political fight and expecting them to make “conscientious” consumer decisions is not the way to spur social progress. And spreading misinformation isn’t going to help that. If Proposition 37 is how the food movement will prove itself, count me out.

For more information on Prop. 37, check out the California Secretary of State’s official guide, and KQED’s ongoing coverage. How do you think you’ll vote? I still have no idea.

[Photo by Nuclear Winter via Flickr]

05/02/2012

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?

[Thanks to Adam for the excellent post! Photo by Andy via Flickr]

03/25/2011

What do vegans get from a vegan/omnivore alliance?  »

Tom Philpott has proposed a vegan/omnivore alliance against animal factories (VOAAF. I know, it’s missing an A. And I think “V O triple-A F” sounds cool). Read the piece, tell me your reactions. I believe it’s very well intentioned so I wanted to like it but it just left me thinking, “WTF do I get out of it?” Philpott says if 99 percent of meat is produced on factory farms and these “conscious” meat-eaters oppose this meat, “then vegans and omnivores agree on 99 percent of the meat issue.” That’s just not true, is it? While I definitely want better treatment for animals in farms, I formally object to animals being exploited by humans—that objection makes up more than 1 percent of my beliefs.

Besides this math issue, the main problem I have is believing these conscious meat-eaters really never eat factory farm meat. A vegan at the baseball stadium will not get a pork hotdog just because a vegan one isn’t available—will these meat-eaters do the same? Would they forgo the traditional baseball day hotdog simply because the meat comes from a factory farm?

Philpott wants vegans to put aside the majority of our beliefs (it’s not just 1 percent) but what is he asking the omnivore faction to do? It’s not like Grist is running tons of articles encouraging people to not eat meat (or really anything positive about veganism, check out their articles!). When they address food issues, it’s more just, “EAT MEAT! But just this kind!” I believe we need to be encouraging the whole world to EAT LESS MEAT, period. Also, what’s more exclusionary: asking people to eat more inexpensive veggies, beans, and grains, or telling them to make sure that their dead animals come from the 1 percent that’s up to Philpott’s standards? 

In the end, I do want better treatment for animals and factory farms make me sick so I would support these more thoughtful omnivores. It would really be a great thing if meat-, egg- and dairy-eaters were to forgo all factory farm products—but is that what Philpott and the like are promising? The way it sounds now, Philpott wants us to take two steps back and the omnivores to just, what? Keep on with the same? If he could get a bunch of meat-/dairy-/egg-eaters to completely swear off all factory farm products, then I would definitely be interested in the alliance. It’s not so hard—we vegans already do it.

Read some other reactions on the topic by Erik Marcus and the comments he links to by the excellent Adam Merberg.

UPDATE!: As Laura reminded me, if Philpott does intend to include vegans, how come not one vegan advocate was listed in the post? I am excited to learn more about this and participate in it but I’m not interested in a meeting of the minds where I do all the meeting.

10/20/2010

When it comes to Michael Pollan take-downs, Adam Merberg is truly the champion  »

Sometimes your Vegansaurus feels like the only sane Michael Pollan critic in the world—we try to exercise restraint, but can you blame us? It’s Michael Pollan, one of our sworn enemies! Who can be calm around a sworn enemy?

Happily, we are not alone: our internet-pal Adam Merberg has an entire site dedicated to Michael Pollan’s hypocrisy, inaccuracy, and general bad attitude, particularly toward vegans, as Adam is both clever and vegan—and has extra time on his hands, we’re not entirely sure but the point is Say What, Michael Pollan? fills a niche vegans and vegetarians were dying for.*

Adam’s most recent post addresses Pollan’s most recent piece for the New York Times Magazine, a 4,000-word feature on a 36-hour dinner party with his family and a few of his chef and baker friends ["well, one of my homes”] and their families, and just how amazing and wonderful it is to eat good, local food prepared by talented local food professionals, not to mention the local wine, oh isn’t my life the most? We cooked in an outdoor oven that’s really a hole in the ground, it was such a “primitive…cooking device” just like they use in the Mediterranean, O glorious!

Beg pardon; we cannot, do not, will not help ourselves. Adam, taking a studied and serious approach, draws more interesting conclusions:

"To reconcile Pollan’s published accounts of his own diet with his advocacy for eating ‘mostly plants,’ it is helpful to consider something he said in a CBC interview in June:

For better or worse, we’ve democratized meat-eating. Meat-eating is something that was a special occasion in most households for many years….The poor got very little animal protein. So one of the nice things about industrial meat production is it makes this human desire—because it is a widespread human desire—something that even the poor could satisfy, and if we eat meat more responsibly, you know, it is going to be less democratic.

"Putting everything together, the underlying message seems to be something like this:

We need to move to a system of meat production that I consider acceptable. That’s going to make meat more expensive, so you are going to have to start eating mostly plants. I, on the other hand, have so much money that I don’t need to have even a single animal-free meal.

"Happily, those of us who don’t make as much money as Pollan don’t have to miss out on the carnivory altogether, as Pollan has thoughtfully shared his account of  the dinner party in a prominent publication. Maybe we can’t afford to buy good meat, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have the privilege of reading about two accomplished chefs ‘giving the baron and the saddle a deep-tissue massage…and then wrapping them in a beautiful white lace of caul fat.’"

We strongly suggest—no, we REQUIRE, Vegansaurus requires you to read Adam’s entire post, and then read all the rest of Say What, Michael Pollan?, and subscribe to it in your feed reader so you never miss another soundly reasoned argument against Michael Pollan’s anointment as the Savior of Eating Habits, or whatever.

*or at least this vegan; I really can’t stand that guy.

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