vegansaurus!

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]

01/26/2010

The Economics of Streetfood, presented by SPUR  »

The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) hosts a discussion on “The Economics of Streetfood” tonight, as part of its Young Urbanists program. It will feature speakers from the SF Department of Health, La Cocina, and Let’s Be Frank (a.k.a., Let’s Shut the Fuck Up About Grass-Fed Beef), and “delve into the motivations behind the streetfood industry.”

Be at the SPUR office at 645 Mission St. by 6 p.m. The cost is $20 for non-members (of SPUR, duh), and free for members. It sounds pretty great, maybe you should go! They promise “drinks and light food” as well, and if nothing else you can demand vegan options from the LBF dude, because come on.

10/30/2009

Vegan Diplomat: Comeback Kids  »

By now you’ve made the decision, come out of the crisper, and are living a full, vegified existence. Whoo! The payback for telling the world your hot little garbanzo-bean secret? It’s like posting something on the internet—every one gets a crack at commenting.

Now, I’m a vegan from the non-Facebook Farmville. You better believe I’ve heard the best of the Guide to Meaty Proclamations. The one that actually makes me chuckle? “SALAD IS WHAT FOOD EATS.” Because ew, and yes—and re-eats, and re-eats, and re-eats, and re-eats. (Four times, four stomachs, though I will have to run that through Dad’s Department of Ruminants fact-checking.)

Last weekend an amazing quote contradicting that notion made the internet rounds. It was Michael Pollan saying, “A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a meat-eater in a Prius.”

That’s a hell of a T. Boone Pickens—the ultimate comeback to “just eat a pork chop,” and sure to make a meat-eater test drive that math. Then one did. And decided that by comparing a “heavy meat-eating diet” to a vegan one, the carpool doesn’t add up. But the virality of the original statement vs. the contradiction proves one thing: snappy ain’t just for peas.

Every time a cold cut is thrown, there’s an opportunity to convert. But it’s what you say, as much as how you say it. Are you ready with your killer (METAPHORICALLY) vegan comebacks to these classics?

“When you eat meat, it leaves you satiated,” (courtesy of some of Bravo’s Toppest Chefs.)

Actually, a combination of fiber from vegetables, fats—that also are readily available from vegetable sources like avocados and nuts—plus protein (hello tofu and beans) makes you feel amazingly full. Here, let me make you my famous vegan burrito—if you want seconds, it’s on me.

"But Meat is All-American! ‘Dogs! Burgs’! Doooood steaks! WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA?”

I love America, it allows me to make the best choices I can to live a life that will provide liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all living creatures. I think there was something about being “created equal” and “inalienable rights?” That seemed like such a good idea, I just extrapolated it to all living creatures. Got a light for my sparkler?

"PETA is a bunch of nutjobs. Do you throw paint on people in your spare time?"

You like sports, right? But even being a baseball fan, you pick a team to root for. Well, PETA is just one team in Sport Vegan, and just because we eat tofu, it doesn’t make us all Yankee fans. PETA plays in a pretty Yankee, high-profile way, but there are tons of other teams to root for too, like the Humane Society of the United States or Farm Sanctuary. And whether or not you agree with PETA’s style, they do have some great resources like, “I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan.” (Hey, did you know Glenn Beck respects PETA?)

"Giving kids a chance to see that meat isn’t all that is indoctrination.

This last one is courtesy of the aforementioned Glenn Beck who, well… likes consistency, personal choice, PETA, and making Al Gore eat things, namely, his words. In a response to the UK climate chief’s assertion that meat is wrecking the planet, he got some attention by saying that giving kids a Meatless Monday was indoctrination. It played pretty badly . But, and this goes back to words mattering, if you read his whole original statement, he’s not necessarily against giving up meat [for others]—he’s against giving up choice.

Oof. Well, we might not have that “choice” for much longer, and it’s not great thinking…but it’s a little harder to argue with? Ask Al Gore.

Have you been hit with a particularly un-Tofutti Cutie meat attack? What do you hear most often? What’s your favorite ultimate comeback?

This is an article in a recurring series, The Vegan Diplomat; The Art and Politics of Being Vegan in any Situation Society Throws on Your Plate, brought to us by the lovely Zoë Stagg. Zoë writes about politics, pop culture, and social media. She went cold-tofurkey—total omnivore to vegan on April 26, 2006 and never looked back. Despite her rural upbringing and the fact that her dad may have wanted her to enter the Dairy Princess pageant in high school, she firmly believes in the conservative nature of veganism. Her last non-vegan meal was a Turkey Lean Pocket. Ew.

10/01/2009

Have You Heard the Good News? Vegans in a Missionary Position…   »

You’ve tackled the OMFGGGWHHYYYY, that decision every girl has got to make for herself—and you’re converted. Here’s your Big Book of Seitan, thanks for joining us. As we saw in the comments last time, people are pretty passionate about their own personal whys—and are ready to wear it loud and proud.

That’s natural.

When you’re feeling great, healthy and happy with your choice, the lifestyle, the good you’re accomplishing, and gripped with the Vegenaise fever (honest to God, I’m not a vegan—I’m a Vegenaisan) it’s only natural that you start to talk about being saved. Spreading the word. Getting others to accept tofu as the Lamb of…not lamb. You want others to feel as good as you do.

That’s natural too.

It’s the ultimate passive-aggressive plea: strong and silent.

In the book of Matthew (that’s the one with all the “begats”) you see how a little movement like Christianity is born, grows, and spreads. Religions grow with a little help from their friends. Mormons know this. They’re the name-badge-wearing kids sent to your door in the hopes that if it shows up on your WELCOME mat, you’ll welcome it into your life—and tons of people do. While numbers are tricky, surveys report the Mormon Church has grown significantly and despite being less than 200 years old, the number of Mormons in the United States is roughly equal to the number of Jews. That’s some hustle.

Of course Mormons—or any religion, John Travolta/Tom Cruise and the stress tests included—have no monopoly on proselytizing. Companies like Amway, Pampered Chef, and Mary Kay recruit on the basis of enthusiasm, as does everyone’s favorite uncle, Sam. Yeah, the military recruits too.

So. As enthusiasts of a group, do we as vegans have a responsibility to be fruitful and multiply? Not by breeding baby vegans (necessarily) but by convincing others to join us. Where does veg-proselytizing fit in to your life? If you do it, what’s your approach?

  • Do Unto Others: You don’t want anyone coming after you with the “it’s only an egg, what’s the big deal?” argument. So you keep your choice to yourself, and let others live and let live—if they so choose.
  • Be Holy As I am Holy: You lead by living. You entice people to go veg by showing them it’s easy, it’s rewarding, and goldurnit, it’s the right thing to do. You’re a quiet crusader, convincing and converting by example.
  • Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show: You’ve seen the light, you’ve been saved, and you’re mounting a revival tent show—you don’t hesitate to tell anyone, anytime how they could better serve themselves, animals, and the planet. You preach the gospel of putting down the cheeseburger—loudly.

As for the pitch, you can make your “sell” just like tofu—ranging from silken to extra firm. Similarly, there’s a right time to use each kind: the boss at lunch might rate a silken, while the roommate gets the full-blown, Tempur-Pedic extra firm. And yes. Survey says it’s a continuum of proselytizing and chances are you fall somewhere in betwixt these—but where? Have you ever convinced anyone to veg out—and is being a missionary a required part of being a good vegan?

This is the second article in a recurring series, The Vegan Diplomat; The Art and Politics of Being Vegan in any Situation Society Throws on Your Plate, brought to us by the lovely Zoë Stagg. Zoë writes about politics, pop culture, and social media. She went cold-tofurkey—total omnivore to vegan on April 26, 2006 and never looked back. Despite her rural upbringing and the fact that her dad may have wanted her to enter the Dairy Princess pageant in high school, she firmly believes in the conservative nature of veganism. Her last non-vegan meal was a Turkey Lean Pocket. Ew.

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