vegansaurus!

10/29/2013

Uber delivers kittens to offices in honor of National Cat Day. What do you think?   »

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To celebrate National Cat Day (meow!), Uber, the transportation service best known for connecting rich people to high-end transportation, has teamed up with Cheezburger to deliver kittens to people’s offices for 15 minutes for $20 bucks in Seattle, SF, and NYC. They’re calling the campaign ICanHazUberKITTENS, and I feel really conflicted about it!

On one hand, all proceeds of this PR stunt purportedly go to local animal shelters, and as Megan Rascal pointed out to me in an e-mail conversation, kittens do NEED to be held. However, I wonder what kind of message do we send about cats that they are objects to be delivered on command, like any old non-living consumer good?

While Uber does support kitten adoption through its app, how likely is it that 15-minute cat-holding sprees at random offices will lead to any actual adoptions? Does this stunt really promote adoption instead of animals as entertainment? How is it affecting the kittens being used in this service? 

I’m still so conflicted! What do you think?

08/22/2012

Discussion question: Printable meat? What the heck?  »

As a disclaimer, I don’t really understand three-dimensional printing, like, at all. How does it work? Why does it work? Just the idea of it hurts my brain.

That said, what do we think about Modern Meadow’s 3D printable meat? It’s an idea that was born of this other crazytown scientific project, printing human organs; apparently, printing meat would be easier than printing organs, because the meat is “a post-mortem tissue,” which is less complicated a process than printing living tissue.

I have read a couple articles about this project and I still really don’t understand. Like, they’re going to start by “fabricat[ing] 3D cellular sheets composed of porcine cells.” How? If they succeed, will they be eligible for that $1 million from PETA, since technically they have to grown the cells in order to bioprint them? (Though with Peter Thiel money, they probably won’t need it.) What would a tissue-bioprinter even look like?

Most importantly, though, what do you all think? This falls under the same heading as “lab-grown meat,” right, so those of you who would eat test-tube meat would also eat printed meat? And on the ethics tip, would you accept a printed organ, should you ever need a transplant? I totally would, presuming it wasn’t being created unethically. About the meat, as always, I feel ambivalent. Divorcing “meat” from “living animal” is something we vegans work so hard to stop doing, but lab-grown meat legitimately would lack connection to that living animal, so presumably we would be able to uncouple them in our brains again. I just don’t know how to conceive of it, which is maybe what causes my ambivalence. What about you all?

Get more information about Modern Meadow’s meat-printing project at its website.

[3D image by Karsten Schmidt via Flickr]

04/24/2012

Which Times reader makes the best case for ethical meat? A Vegansaurus voter’s guide  »


Remember that contest the NY Times announced last month, calling on readers to “Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat”? The quintet of white dudes have chosen their finalists, and now you can read their six top essays and vote on which one makes the best case for (or against!) ethical meat.

I’ve quoted the best part of each one below, for your giggling/eye-rolling/cheering pleasure.

Contestant No. 1 says:

If it is not morally wrong to kill animals, then it shouldn’t horrify us to do so. That may be right. But this recognition has little tendency to remove the sense of horror we feel at what is going on.

Totally, contestant No. 1. If it’s not wrong, why is it so goddamn awful?

Contestant No. 2 says:

Almost 25 years after deciding it was wrong to eat animals, I now realize that it’s not that simple. There is an ethical option — a responsibility, even — for eating animals that are raised within a sustainable farm system and slaughtered with the compassion necessitated by our relationship.

Totally, contestant No. 2. You owe it to your “hapless chickens” to kill and eat them! If you’re not going to do it, how else will you prove your point?

Contestant No. 3 says:

Eating meat ethically, on this view, requires explaining why we kill by pointing to other things of moral worth. This does not justify the killing — if our situation is tragic, that cannot be our aim — but it does suggest how we can eat meat ethically, albeit wrongly.

Totally, contestant No. 3. On the scale of “murdering your children” to “buying some prepackaged chicken breasts at Costco because they’re already separated into servings and all you have to do is dump one on a pan and broil it and now your kids won’t starve on a busy Thursday night,” buying the dead chicken is less amoral.

Contestant No. 4 says:

For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.

Totally, contestant No. 4. We are all made of stars, which means if you say, “Thanks for not being a predator and for being made of delicious tissues, cow,” paying for someone to raise and kill and cut it up for you is like completing the circle of life. Also Native People, and Hakuna Matata.

Contestant No. 5 says:

Aside from accidental roadkill or the fish washed up dead on the shore, [lab-grown, in vitro meat] is perhaps the only ethical meat.

Totally, contestant No. 5. While it’d probably weird me the fuck out, if you really want meat, it’s got to be harmless, lab-grown tissues that were never part of a sentient being. I feel you.

And contestant No. 6 says:

The eating of animals is paramount to the production of food in a system that embraces the whole of reality. This is why eating meat is ethical. To not consume meat means to turn off a whole part of the natural world.

Totally, contestant No. 6. If you don’t eat meat, you might as well be a robot who eats oil, or like, one of those gross poor people who eat nothing but Oreos and Home Run Pies (for the fruit) and never sees the sun. It’s unrealistic not to eat meat!

I don’t know who I’m voting for. Maybe the proponent of the in vitro hamburger, because I like the “roadkill and pre-dead fish are the only ethical meat” argument. Maybe the one who points out that “killing things feels wrong because it is wrong, how about listening to your gut, jerks.” What about you? Who’s got your vote? You’ve only got till midnight tonight, April 24, to do it, so read up.

[Image from NYT by Russell Bell]

03/20/2012

The New York Times wants to know why eating meat is ethical, I’d totally like to know too.  »

NYT has issued an essay challenge that has had me chuckling all day:

"Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat: A Contest"

I think this is an excellent challenge, because for real, tell me. However, I just can’t imagine a solid answer. Of course if I could, I probably wouldn’t be vegan. 

Let’s pretend they don’t call everyone “carnivores” throughout the article, because I think they did that to appeal to the many omnivores who don’t understand what that word means. I cannot however ignore that they called vegans “[vegetarians’] hard-core inner circle.” Vegetarians are more like the soft shell of hard-core omnivores. If we were picking teams, I’d go with all the lactose-intolerant people first; you still have the death, but there’s a little less torture. But again, I guess they are trying to appeal to “carnivores” who only know vegans as The Other.

The panel of judges is my favorite part because it’s like, “let’s round up every white male who writes about why you should go vegan without actually going vegan!” Ta da: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. I think the white male part says more about society than food writing in particular but they could have found at least one vegan judge. Shouldn’t a solid argument be able to sway the opposition? The group we have here is pretty much dudes who are looking for a good reason to eat meat—that seems a little skewed.

I also love the rules:

Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.

Because you know they are still going to get a million and one essays about the American right to eat hamburgers and why bacon tastes good. Happy reading, bros!

I for one am really curious to see the winning essay. I’m going to be so disappointed if it’s the same-old bullshit! I would really like to see a proposed reason to eat meat other than “it tastes good” so I can respect my omnivorous peers a little more. What would really be funny though is if no one comes up with a winning essay. I mean, these dudes haven’t found the ethical reason to eat meat, and they’ve been working on that for a while! It would be really funny if the whole thing just dies because they couldn’t get a good enough entry.

What I’m really hoping is that after reading a million awful attempts to justify eating meat, these judges just get totally embarrassed that they aren’t vegan yet and finally walk the walk!

[Image from NYT by Russell Bell]

01/27/2011

Your government hates you: recalls and “hot” milk!  »

Do NOT eat packaged leafy greens if you live, like, anywhere on the East Coast right now; some listeria got into Massachusetts’ State Garden’s manufacturing plant and wowza, there are so many brands that could sicken you, it’s scary!

More ground beef is out to get you, too: nearly 8,000 pounds of “Fully Cooked Black Angus Ground Beef Steak Patties” are also lousy with listeria; thanks, United Food Group, LLC (UFG) of Vernon, Calif.! Oh man, it gets better: These “patties” were produced on Oct. 11 last year, an inspection discovered they were all listeria-ful, and UFG shipped them anyway! Whoops!

Listeria is the choice for food-poisoning right now, it seems; almost 500 boxes of “Wheat Free, Gluten Free Mac and No Cheese” and “Wheat Free, Gluten Free French Bread Pizza” from Ian’s may be contaminated with the little buggers right now! When food safety standards are lax—and I mean, farm-to-shopping-cart safety standards—everyone suffers, even the Celiacs and the vegans.

The standards are super-lax, too: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so little power to regulate anything, the only reason every one of us eating food in the U.S. hasn’t been poisoned by it yet is absolute luck. Used-up dairy cows are sold to slaughter for human consumption without being subjected to the same tests your standard food-cows are, and these cows are full of antibiotics, like, illegally full of them, tee hee! The dairy industry, however, refuses to “allow” any further testing of any of the milk or milk products, and as the FDA is about as strong as A VERY WEAK THING, it can’t make the producers submit to these tests. HA HA HA your milk is full of substances that will kill you!

Of course the FDA gets to test your milk, and annually “only a small number of truckloads are found to be ‘hot milk,’ containing trace amounts of antibiotics.” Then that milk is “destroyed”—whatever “destroyed” means, it’s not like pouring it down the proverbial drain disappears the antibiotics from the world—and all the milk-drinkers can breathe easy. Except that the dairy farmers are actually injecting their cows with oodles of drugs the FDA doesn’t test for! Because the law doesn’t require it! Because dairy industry lobbyists use their massive amounts of cash to “convince” our elected officials to eat a cheese sandwich and keep mum!

But, you know, drink your milk or you won’t grow up big and strong/lose all the calcium in your skeleton/fade away from dairy product deprivation. You can just die of a minor infection because the bacteria were resistant to every antibiotic known to modern medicine, you’ll just do it super-full of cheese. Definitely a good trade-off. The vegans will just suffer the fever and chills of listeria poisoning, no big deal.

[photo of Percy from SAINTS by Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals]

08/18/2010

From the Daily Show (as reported by my future husband Wyatt Cenac), this nice woman’s application to be a foster parent was rejected because she, as a Muslim, stated that she would not serve pork in her home. Ridiculous, obviously. Have any vegetarians or vegans had trouble with the foster system because of their diets? Anyone have any information?

I can’t imagine serving animal products in my home, regardless of the situation—kids can be really picky, but there are so many foods!, and sometimes kids haven’t been able to try very many. Your opinions?

05/03/2010

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