The Brain Scoop
Episode 16: Horns vs. Antlers

We get a lot of requests to fulfill common queries about the odd animal world - differentiating between horns and alters is one of them.  Certainly there is a lot more that can be said on this subject, but here’s your basic bite-sized rundown of similarities and differences.  Someday soon we’ll be discussing the freakshow exceptions to the rules: rhinoceroses, the American pronghorn, the common raccoon. 

Get down and educational with Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum and Comparative Skeletal Collection! I love some light science, don’t you?


Professor Paws presents Responsible Dog Ownership!  »

These children, who live in Guangzhou, China, are learning “how to make friends, with Professor Duoduo.” If I knew better, I would identify Professor Duoduo for you, but I like to imagine s/he is not one of the adult women pictured, but the shaggy dog standing between them. More canine tenure!

Responsible Dog Ownership was put on in June by Guangzhou Public Security Bureau got together with Animals Asia's Professor Paws, which is “a school-based dog education program designed to show that dogs are friends” that started in Hong Kong in 2004 and opened in Guangzhou in 2008. The PSB attended some Professor Paws courses, and suggested that the group put on a community-wide event, to educate adults as well as kids. “Promoting responsible dog care could reduce conflict between dog owners and non-dog owners, especially in Guangzhou where the number of dogs being kept by residents is increasing every year.”

Animals Asia says that the event went really well, though they didn’t provide specific information on attendance. The pictures make it look pretty charming, however.

Everyone learns to love dogs! Hooray!

[photos courtesy Animals Asia]


Take a summer produce cooking class with Millennium! Plus, a discount for Vegansaurus readers!   »

You know what’s awesome? Millennium, duh. What else? Learning to cook like the super-talents at Millennium. So how about taking the next Millennium cooking class?

On Sunday, June 24, Millennium hosts “Porcinis, Cherries, and Early Summer Produce.” Plus, Chef Eric Tucker will take you on a Ferry Building Farmers’ Market tour on Saturday, June 23, so you can “contribute to Sunday’s menu by picking out the most enticing and much awaited summer produce fresh from local farms.”

Sounds good, right? Produce-shopping happens on Saturday from 10 to (around) 11 a.m. at the Ferry Building, and the class itself is on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Millennium kitchen. Tickets are $160 per person—OR $145 for Vegansaurus readers, just mention us when you call!—and you can buy them by calling Allison at (415) 345.3900, ext. 13. Allison says that this would make a cool Father’s Day gift, which reminds us of that ever-applicable aphorism: Buy a father a dinner, feed him for a day; teach a father to cook gourmet vegan fare, feed all of you for a lifetime. You know!

[Millennium squash blossoms but digiyesica via Flickr]


What to Eat: The Environmental Impacts of our Food voiced by Jason Schwartzman. That damn Schwartzman is all kinds of sexy. You heard me! I’d totally tap that. I might even make him tofu scramble in the morning. If I let him sleep over. Men are so clingy!

The video appears to be part of Farm Sanctuary’s Plate to Planet project:

Small decisions we make every day about what we eat can make a huge difference. Going vegan may be a big step, but simply lessening our meat consumption still goes a long way. If we all pledged to eat meat-free meals throughout the week, we’d not only be healthier individuals but our planet would benefit too.

Plus, did you know that 50,000 pigs on a factory farm create as much waste as Salt Lake City! That’s crazy! And so depressing! The site is pretty great and has lots of tips for your average omni to become more veggie friendly. This video is kind of cute, not amazing. If Schwartzman weren’t voicing it, I prob wouldn’t post it. What are your thoughts? I think it’s cool to offer a view of your average American family man and how you can make a change just for one day and it’s not going to ruin your life.


Farm to Fridge by Mercy for Animals.

This is the most succinct picture of factory farming I’ve seen. It’s raised a question for me: I want to share it with non-vegan friends, but how exactly do I go about that? What do you guys do? Everyone knows I’m vegan and they know if they ask me about it, I will tell them about why I’m vegan and what really goes down in the meat and dairy industry, but I kind of try to refrain from that unless I’m asked. I feel like everyone who eats meat and dairy should HAVE to know how their food is made but at the same time, I don’t want to be “the annoying vegan” that omnivores so fear. I mean, you catch more flies with agave, right? At the same time, I think omnivores should be educated about the choices they’re making. What to do? What do you do?


HSUS wants you to be a better activist. Learn how on Monday!  »

It is marvelous, isn’t it, being vegan? Every new dish you make is Amazing! and every new restaurant is an Adventure! and you know, you 100-percent absolutely no-question zero-doubt Know that your lifestyle choices are the Right Ones. No animals suffered for your food or clothes or shiny hair, and doesn’t it feel great to have such a clean conscience?

It’s just that, as a vegan, you know that living animal-product-free is the minimum. That’s one of the secrets you learn once you’ve properly committed yourself to veganism, right? The anger and guilt and shame you feel for the treatment of animals the world over; they are so strong, and impossible to assuage with a vegan diet alone. No, you’ve got to do something.

Bay Area residents (and visitors with good timing!) are in luck, because on Monday, Nov. 15, the Humane Society of the United States will be holding a free community seminar on how to properly do something, namely, effectively advocating for animals. Because as much as you’d like to chain yourself to a pet shop door and demand all the animals within are given to rescue organizations, that is really not the best use of your time and energy.

Instead, the seminar will address “factory farming, wildlife protection, puppy mills, and local animal issues, and will offer techniques for improving your persuasiveness and engagement as a citizen advocate.” That last one will be especially pertinent, “improving your persuasiveness and engagement as a citizen advocate.” So no more yelling at owners of purebred puppies in Dolores Park, then? Or standing by the “organic” meat section at Whole Foods and snorting really loudly and derisively whenever someone picks up a package? Check.

Here is the best part, as far as your Vegansaurus is concerned: the seminar will be led by HSUS California State Director Jennifer Fearing, a.k.a. the HBIC of the passage of Prop. 2. She directed a hardworking team to victory despite mighty opposition from giant egg conglomerates, which is impressive on its own, but she is awesome in general—you’ll see. Eighth District state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) will also attend, and “will be available to chat with folks and answer questions,” so that’s all right.

It’s completely FREE and should be helpful—HSUS is doing amazing work nationwide. All you have to do is RSVP, and then be at the SF SPCA at 250 Florida St. at 16th Street by 7 p.m. on Monday! The meeting is scheduled to end at 9 p.m. Animals need advocates who know what they’re doing, and this is a wonderful opportunity to learn what exactly a good animal advocate does. So go! Tell your friends—even, no, especially the non-vegan ones, and RSVP for all of you and go!


Dear world: vegan ≠ eating disorder  »

Hello friends, parents, strangers, graduates of the Columbia School of Journalism, etc.:

Thank you for caring about our well-being! Generally speaking, the thought that others concern themselves with our health is, if not thrilling, at least vaguely comforting. However, it’s time that you back off. Because frankly, accusing us of being secret anorexics, bulimics, binge-eaters, “orthorexics,” or some combination thereof, is really fucking insulting, and we’re sick of it.

Articles like this one by Danielle Friedman in the Daily Beast, which includes one figure and links to exactly one study in ScienceDirect, only make it more difficult for anyone to take a vegan diet seriously. When Friedman describes it or quotes others describing it as “restrictive,” “in the service of an eating disorder,” “a ruse,” “a cover for something darker,” “really an effort to avoid food in general,” and “system of eating that’s restrictive and passes judgment on food that’s not founded on health principles,” that does a disservice to all of us. Further, in the 12th paragraph Friedman contradicts her entire article (this is also the part where she commits to a figure): “for most of the country’s roughly 3 million vegans, who don’t consume or wear any animal products, their eating habits never veer into mental illness.” Thanks for the benefit of the doubt, Danielle! Unfortunately, we’re not the ones she’s interested in.

No, Friedman doesn’t care about “most of” us; she wants to terrify parents whose children have chosen to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. THEY MAY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER, YOUR CHILDREN! Even though “most” vegans are totally fine and happy and eat foods both full of vegetables and full of donuts, that ScienceDirect study revealed that “young adults ages 15 to 23 who reported being vegetarian were, at some point, more likely to have also engaged in unhealthy weight-loss behaviors.” How much more likely? Friedman doesn’t say! And Vegansaurus doesn’t have $30 to pay to view the entire study, so we can’t tell you, either. We can quote from the results in the abstract, though:

Participants were identified as current (4.3%), former (10.8%), and never (84.9%) vegetarians. Current vegetarians in the younger and older cohorts had healthier dietary intakes than nonvegetarians with regard to fruits, vegetables, and fat. Among young adults, current vegetarians were less likely than never vegetarians to be overweight or obese. Adolescent and young adult current vegetarians were more likely to report binge eating with loss of control when compared to nonvegetarians. Among adolescents, former vegetarians were more likely than never vegetarians to engage in extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors. Among young adults, former vegetarians were more likely than current and never vegetarians to engage in extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors.

There you go. But is the answer really “not to let their kids be vegetarian until they go to college,” as one dietician suggests, because “[m]ost families don’t have the time to prepare vegetarian entrées”? How about taking vegetarian and vegan children seriously, and preparing vegetarian entrées? How about educating yourself about veg nutrition, so you can do your job as a parent and get your kids the nutrition they need, while respecting their individual rights? How many times do you have to be told EAT LESS MEAT BEFORE THE PLANET BURNS UP before you start eating less meat?

Here is a personal anecdote, even: I had an eating disorder, for a long, long time. More than anything else, what has helped me keep eating normally is my vegan diet. I saw a dietician when I could afford it, and she helped me through the “it’s OK to eat things” and “if you don’t eat normally you will die” bits, but keeping vegan keeps me feeling sane even through really terrible times. When I was sickest, I was omnivorous. Maybe I’m a statistical anomaly, but I think that if everyone were all better nutritionally educated—by proper dieticians, not “nutritionists” with “certificates” from “The Learning Annex” or whatever Holistic Institute of Cleansing Auras”—we’d be much better off.


Dear New Zealand,  »

Bret and JemaineSo I was checking my e-mail, minding my own business, when I received an e-mail forward about this university in New Zealand doing some pretty groundbreaking shit. They have a fucking “New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies” (conveniently acronymed NZCHAS). Yeah, believe it.

I wonder if Bret and Jemaine studied there…

[photo credit]

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