vegansaurus!

03/13/2012

I was listening to NPR while getting ready for work on Friday morning, as I do, when this story from Planet Money came on, and ugh, you guys. In “Meet Claudia, the High-Tech Cow,” Adam Davidson tells us all about how today’s dairy cows are more machine than animal, their every action carefully monitored, controlled, and adjusted for optimum milk-producing capability.

It’s so gross, you guys! Dairy is absolutely disgusting. As are the extremes of capitalism: ”The free market forced that to happen,” he says. “Because either you were going to make a lot of milk … quickly and efficiently … or you wouldn’t be in business.” Money makes the world go round! And turns cows into literal milk machines! Fuck a living creature, we need cheap milk from perfectly replicated robots. Of course the story says nothing about the cows’ living conditions or quality of life, what with them having none to speak of. To wit: “Claudia,” the cow “Ferrari,” gets a name, while the cows that aren’t as genetically perfect are just numbers.

Technology is great and I am happy if modern science is solving our problems. But when technological advances detract from the value of other creatures’ lives, how valuable is it?

02/14/2012

A new study finds that greenhouse gas emissions from the UK’s meat and cheese trades add up to half of all the emission’s from Britain’s cars. Translation: If everyone goes vegan, it’ll have the same effect as if everyone drove half as much. Or half of everyone drove the same amount. Or one quarter of people drove twice as much. See, math is fun!

Some more numbers (quoted from The Independent), because I know you can’t get enough of them:

"[Fresh] meat has a carbon footprint at the checkout of 17kg of carbon dioxide per kilogram. Cheese has 15kg. Cooked meats are also high at 11kg per kilogram, with bacon at 9kg. Exotic vegetables* and mushrooms are high, largely because of freight and hothouse heating costs. Wine** has a carbon footprint of 2kg per kilogram, and potatoes, apples, milk, bread and cereals are under 2kg. Home baking comes in at just over 2kg."

*What counts as an exotic vegetable in England? Do they find our American stuff like blueberries exotic? Wait, that’s a fruit. Chayote? Yucca? Kabocha squash? Stop exoticizing our vegetables, England!

**I think that means wine is better for the environment that home baking? Also wait, are they saying it’s better to buy your bread than to make it? That’s confusing. DAMN YOU SCIENCE YOU ARE COMPLICATED!

12/06/2011

Find the real milk? If it’s all the same to you, I’ll pass  »


Oh, the food lobby. In its latest move, the California Milk Processor Board is trying to discredit milk alternatives like almond and soy milk with a new website that asks you to “find the real milk.”

Anybody who regularly enjoys milk alternatives knows that non-dairy—a.k.a. non-cruelty—milks don’t look the same as the stuff we take from cows, but my mother always told me not to judge things by how they look. When it comes to what I mix with my Cocoa Camino hot chocolate, I prefer to judge by factors like an absence of cholesterol, the presence of a nice dose of protein or omega-3 fats, and the fact that my favorite dairy-free milks got into my fridge by way of neither the callous removal of male calves from their mothers minutes after birth, nor the non-therapeutic application of hormones and antibiotics to dairy cows.

I’ll give them this: Milk producers have done a bang-up job of convincing the general public that milk is the perfect food, one we must all have in our diets lest we shrivel up and blow away. This totally ignores the millions of people around the world who don’t consume milk after they are no longer breastfed, and who do just fine for it. Many people can’t consume dairy, due to allergies or intolerance, and they are also perfectly healthy without it in their diets. Dairy’s association with weight loss has also been overstated.

The fact is, there are no nutrients found in milk from cows or any other mammal that we can’t get in our diets in another way, and there are plenty of things—especially in milk from factory-farmed animals—in cow’s milk that we’d all be better off without.

So what’s your favorite milk alternative? Mine’s almond milk, for sure. If you want to avoid additives, just do some label-reading—the extras aren’t in all non-dairy milks, contrary to what the Got Milk site implies. And better still, even a culinary fool like me can make homemade almond milk!

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.

[photo by Luca Argalia via Flickr]

11/24/2010

Pre-Thanksgiving food recalls for best tableside conversation  »

Which government administrations love you, baby? Yeah, the FDA and the USDA, that’s right. Hence they’ve released these four recall notices just before Thanksgiving to keep you from spending the long weekend in bed, or heaven forbid the hospital. Hooray!

First, Krunchers! Inc. recalled all bags of Jay’s brand original potato chips produced on a certain date because whoops, 180 of them contain a “milk allergen.” What that milk allergen is exactly that snuck into the potato chips, the FDA and Krunchers! aren’t saying, but it’s some kind of milk product, so read about the details of the 180 affected bags of chips and act accordingly.

Second, following Bravo Farms’ recall of its Dutch-style Gouda last week, the company is now recalling ALL OF ITS CHEESES. The Centers for Disease Control fully found E.Coli O157:H7 in their Gouda, which led to testing of the entire Bravo Farms plant, where the CDFA found more E.Coli O157:H7  and Listeria monocytogenes. Cheese is so awesome!! Should anyone we know and/or love eat this brand of cheese, let them know they can either return it to the place of purchase, or just throw it away.
Update: These cheeses are also sold at Whole Foods, and apparently Bravo Farms cheese is usually of such high quality they all have a “distributed by Whole Foods” sticker on their packaging as well. Wherever there are animal products, there’s a risk of bacterial infection. Barf.

Speaking of bacteria, Calabro Cheese recalled 57 pounds of “Calabro All Natural Rotolini Mozzarella & Prosciutto,” lot number 3190, as they may be contaminated with, what? Lysteria monocygenes! Oh man, Lysteria is all over the place this week! This “possible contamination” was discovered by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, rather than the FDA, because it contained a meat product—any food item involving meat, poultry, or processed egg products is regulated by the USDA through the FSIS. This’ll be the site to let you know about any risk of illness through dead turkey this week, too. Of course you don’t care, but maybe you want to keep your weirdo relatives from getting sick and having to stay at your house for an extra week.

Worst of all, Artisan Confections Company has had to recall 33 cases of Dagoba Organic Chocolate New Moon Rich Dark Chocolate 74 percent cacao 0.32 oz squares because of a Salmonella contamination risk. MAN is it frustrating when vegan products like this line of Dagoba chocolates come into contact with Salmonella, which is a bacteria of exclusively animal-origin. Where did it come from? That’s a question for the third-party manufacturer, I suppose; regardless, anyone with the New Moon squares is asked to call Artisan Confections Consumer Relations at 866/ 608.6944 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST.

And now you have your Thanksgiving conversational topics! Maybe, in case the conversation starts to drag even with all this exciting news, you might want to look up the effects of E. coli, Salmonella, and/or Listeria illnesses on the body, to really get things going again. People love to hear exactly how their food is going to kill them while they’re eating it! That’s what holidays are for.

09/03/2010

Lax food safety standards make veganism a safer choice  »

"Food safety" is totally conceptual, right? Like "equal rights for all humans," everyone’s all for it in theory, but in practice it just…isn’t.

The forced labor camps in Iowa where all the Salmonella-eggs came from had “pits beneath laying houses where chicken manure was piled four to eight feet high” and “hens that had escaped from laying cages [were] tracking through the manure.” Not to mention the “meat and bone meal” chicken feed tested positive for Salmonella AND was kept in bins full of holes! Want to feel worse? Read all the stories on Chow’s list of the terrible history of the DeCoster farms.

Or, OK, leave off the half-million recalled eggs; maybe they were some kind of huge outlier. An FDA inspector hadn’t seen the inside of one of those chicken-prisons in at least six years, anyway. How’s the meat industry doing? Very poorly, is the answer! They’ve fought every change to every regulation, claiming that they follow all the rules and new ones are unnecessary. Now a super-rare strain of E. coli has appeared in ground beef from Cargill, but the American Meat Institute says that they’re so busy working on preventative measures, which would be blown all to pieces if the Dept. of Agriculture dared to list this new scary E. coli as an illegal substance in ground beef. Even though it has already make people sick, and forced a recall of 8,500 pounds of Cargill ground beef—no no, it’s not THAT bad! Shut up and listen to the nice executives, FDA.

And if you don’t eat meat: how about some honey from China? It’s full of delicious antibiotics! Not that China has time to worry about one company’s scam; it discovered that 402 tons of imported dairy products—99.8 percent of total dairy imports!—were full of Enterobacter sakazakii, plus “excessive amount of nitrites, zinc and total bacterial count.” Wait, E. sakazakii has “historically high case fatality in infants,” up to 80 percent, and the aforementioned “dairy products” were POWDERED MILK FORMULA? That people FEED THEIR INFANTS? Way to go, every country involved in this disgusting scandal, which include Australia, France, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, the U.S., and of course China: you are all reprehensible. [news links via Tom Scocca]

Of course it’s safer—and more humane, but duh—not to eat animal products, but for how much longer? If we don’t change our methods of food production, the world is fucked. The animal-borne bacteria will get into our produce because giant farms aren’t careful with their runoff, and we’ll all perish of some kind of horrible E. coli/Salmonella hybrid. Good luck out there, everyone.

05/28/2010

Sometimes we have slow weeks; for those weeks, there are AMAZING and INFORMATIVE link-o-ramas!  »


The “cutest plague ever” of teeny tiny frogs, which carpeted a highway in Northern Greece on Wednesday for two hours. [link from Princess Sparkle Pony]

Sunday, May 30 is a National Day of Mourning for Animals in Laboratories. In San Francisco, the vigil will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at UCSF.

Presidio Habitats opened last week and they look so neat! You should go check them out multiple times during the year they’re up—maybe you’ll see actual animals using them! The wild parrots of Telegraph Hill, on the other hand, need lots of help—there are more of them than ever, and Mickaboo Bird Rescue is totally overwhelmed.

Chicken farmers testified last week in an antitrust hearing held by the USDA and the Justice Department. Haitian farmers are super-pissed at Monsanto for donating their evil hybrid seeds as some kind of helpful gesture—seriously that third paragraph is enough to make you sick. Meanwhile, subsidizing legal fishing plus tons of illegal fishing is "plundering" the oceans.

Have you read about Mercy For Animals’ investigation of Conklin Dairy Farms in Ohio? It’s unbelievably horrific—JUST BUSINESS AS USUAL. Are you people done drinking milk YET?

Wildcare would like the California state Assembly to make laws that protect our oceans from a BP-in-the-Gulf-style disaster—here is a petition to get that message across.

Mixed messages from the media aren’t surprising, right? The Chronicle says a vegan diet is acceptable (this week), despite totally ignoring us in its restaurants-and-food-news repository, Inside Scoop (no link because BOO); SFWeekly likes Pepple’s Donuts more than Whole Foods’ “Posh” knock-offs; and Martha Stewart had a recipe for strawberry gazpacho that sounded really amazing and is totally vegan though of course no one said anything because that word is only for theme days.


Look, our beloved Erykah Badu with our beloved pigeons. Isn’t this lovely? So peaceful and lovely. [photo via LondonFinestStyleFile]

Did you want to know how Cheetos are made? Ha ha YES it is fucking gross! A man was literally sucked into a sausage-seasoning machine in Massachusetts on Sunday. He didn’t die, so that’s good.

West Hollywood banned “sales of dogs and cats in retail stores.” South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Albuquerque, N.M., also prohibit sales of companion animals. Pretty great, right? Because ANIMALS AREN’T INANIMATE OBJECTS! FOR FUCK’S SAKE. This year, the American Kennel Club will acccept mixed-breed dogs in the Agility, Rally, and Obedience competitions, for the first time in the club’s existence. And one day, dog-breeding for “beauty” or whatever-the-fuck will be seen as base, vile, and speciesist, and people will giggle at our earnestly angry essays about how fucking gross the whole idea of dog breeds was. Sorry guys I’m in a weird mood today.

Neal Harden used to be the chef of Pure Food and Wine! But now he is setting up a restaurant in Bali! I recommend subscribing to his quite interesting blog through a reader, as the font on the layout is fucking impossible to read.

This is the way I feel Lost should have ended: vegan feasts. Because, duh.

04/29/2010

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