If the government thinks we should eat more vegetables, why don’t they put cash money behind it? »
Veganism is more accepted than ever, and vegetarianism is downright mainstream, but I’m a realist: Herbivores are still in the minority. Further, we North Americans aren’t ingesting as many veggies as we ought to, and major health bodies have made statements to the effect that we should all give up processed meats and cut our red meat consumption considerably, at least for the sake of our health. So why is that so difficult? Money.
I’m sure you all saw the Myplate food diagram that was released by the USDA earlier this year as an update to the food pyramid. On the plus side, it recommended that people fill fully half of their plate with veggies, which is an impressive goal for anyone—vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. The problem is that though the government tells people to choose vegetables often—definitely more often than now, since Americans eat about 50 percent more dairy products a year than veggies—they aren’t backing that suggestion up with money. Particularly in regard to agriculture subsidies, which play a huge role in what gets grown—and therefore eaten—around the country.
As the Washington Post explained recently, agriculture subsidies began in the 1930s to help farmers weather the Great Depression. It was an incredibly hard time for a lot of people, and food production was not globalized in the way it is today. What American farmers grew was, by and large, what American people ate.
Today the subsidies seem less useful, especially when you consider what they’re supporting—$200 billion was spent to subsidize commodity crops in the U.S. from 1995 to 2010, and about two-thirds of that went to cotton, tobacco, and crops used to feed animals. I think we can all agree that tobacco is not a crop that people need to live. Cotton is not a food crop either. Growing crops to feed livestock raised for food is far less efficient than growing crops to feed directly to humans. Farmers growing fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts don’t get direct subsidies at all. And a not-insignificant portion of the crops that are subsidized go towards uses like corn and other things grown to make sweeteners—again, directly opposite to the goal of getting people to eat more vegetables.
And yet, last week leading researchers, published in Nature, advised people to eat less meat if the world is going to have enough to eat. The researchers pointed out that even eating just one or two meatless meals a week will have an impact. I can see why people are confused: scientists say we need to eat less meat, the government says we need to eat more vegetables, but the dollars support meat and dairy, and give fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains the shaft. The best way around this is to exercise your consumer-power: Spend your money on vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and whole foods.
If you’re looking to add more vegetables to your diet—an excellent goal!—check out this vegan food pyramid for guidance.
No duh, Salon: government subsidies make good food expensive and horrible food cheap »
Guess who just figured out that food subsidies are all fucked up? Good job, Salon, you’re just behind the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (remember Megan Rascal’s compare-n-contrast graphics? Kick-ass), and King Corn, and Fast Food Nation, and (our best frenemy) Michael Pollan. Only, what, a decade behind the rest of us? Not too bad!
This quote is good, though:
Indeed, this is a problem not of individual proclivities or of agricultural biology that supposedly makes nutrition naturally unaffordable — it is a problem of rigged economics and corrupt policymaking.
Because you have to reframe the argument. Vegans will never, ever win the elitism fight (until the day we’ve all turned into disabled queer people of color through the power of white-cis-guilt/will), but we can point out that the relatively higher price of eating vegetables is a national problem with deep, ugly roots that’s bad for everybody except big agriculture executives. Who are mostly grody white dudes who don’t give a fuck about your need for more than corn-syrup-covered Potato Buds.
Fuck the man. Eat a vegetable and yell at your representatives and tell corporate agriculture to fuck right off. Food stamps at farmers’ markets forever. Food accessibility is a vegan issue.
Animals in space, bunches of books, 1 million events, ovine poetry, the Panda Channel, AND MORE in this weekend’s link-o-rama! »
If you missed Mine when it played earlier this year, you can catch it tonight, Saturday Feb. at 7 at Hollywoof, with your dog(s)! What? OK, it’s this crazy fundraiser by Dogopolis, and actually there will be a double-feature with Sniff. If your dog is unhappy all cooped up because of the bad weather, this is how to make it up to him/her. It’s at Dogpile Dogs, 1338 Illinois St., and the doors open at 4:30 p.m.
The BAARN Activist Showcase is tonight, at the SF SPCA (243 Alabama St.) from 6 to 9. Admission is free; there will be snacks. Don’t show up too drunk after the GDR happy hour, OK? That is seriously unprofessional.
Hey South-Central Bay! The super-cool kids of the San Lorenzo Valley High School Animal Right Club are having a bakesale for Haiti on Thursday, Feb. 11 at noon on the Senior Lawn! I am being 0 percent sarcastic when I say super-cool kids, I wish we’d had an Animal Rights Club at my high schools. Good luck, SLVARC, you guys are The Best!
Everyone’s favorite CELEBRITY VEGAN CHEF Tal Ronnen will teach a course on plant-based cooking at the California Culinary Academy on Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. You can attend! RSVP by Monday (Feb. 8) to Kristin Treat. If you can’t make it, he’ll be at the Whole Foods (ugh) at 1765 California St. on Thursday, Feb. 11 from noon to 2 p.m., giving a demonstration featuring Gardein.
Vegansaurus’ beloved Rocket Dog Rescue is holding a fundraiser on Thursday, Feb. 11 at Elixir (3200 16th St. at Guerrero Street) from 9 p.m. to last call to benefit a puppy with Parvo and a puppy with a cleft palate. Per usual, there will be a raffle with terrific prizes, plus vegan cupcakes, and local cewebrity bartenders! Be there or be a big selfish jerk!!!
Check out Soul Food For Thought/The Real Roots of Liberation on Friday, Feb. 12 at the Herbst Theater (401 Van Ness Ave. at McAllister Street). It’s sponsored by the SF Vegetarian Society, In Defense of Animals, and Go Vegan Radio, and is a celebration of Black History Month and a benefit for the International Fund for Africa. Get your tickets now; get more information from Bob Linden of Go Vegan Radio.
And now, your weekend reading
The 2010 Big Eat SF by 7x7 magazines names eight items that are verifiably vegan, in a list of 100. I believe this is better than last year’s list, even though at least two of these items are cocktails.
The President wants to decrease farm subsidies! And increase funding to school lunch programs, using the money the government wouldn’t be subsidizing devil-companies like Monsanto and DuPont! I am dreaming, aren’t I?
The greatest nation in the history of nations, Iran, put a bunch of live animals in a rocket and shot it into space on Wednesday, because Scientific Progress. The animals include one rat, two turtles, and an undisclosed number of worms. There is no word on what will happen to the animals, but Iran is totally talking to GOD, so that’s all right.
The Manolo tells Kanye and his incoherent “defense” of wearing fur to shut it.
Boldtype makes a (non-comprehensive) list of fictional works with animal points of view.
One of Vegansaurus’ founding editors returned to her hippie college for hippies this week! We’re so proud of her! We also hope she gets lots of use out of PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook, which apparently makes copious use of the microwave. One of my worst cooking-related college memories involves tacos and a grease fire; one of my best involves a vegan pineapple upside-down cake. Tell us your college cooking stories, please! If you are not yet in college, Vegansaurus does not advocate your reading so many swears. KIDDING! Swears are the best.
This is not news but we never mentioned it so: Thailand has a Panda Channel, and you can watch it online on Lin Ping’s homepage. You’ll probably need a fix since China repossessed Butterstick on Thursday.
Blue whales have changed their songs. Apparently they’re singing lower, which makes the reporter anthropomorphize them into Barry White-style manly men who are more potent and way more into boning than they used to be. Nice one, LA Times.
Valerie Laws is a poet who has spray-painted the words of a sheep-related poem onto the backs of actual sheep. Then the sheep wander around and inadvertently create new poems. Because sheep don’t have to put up with enough stupid shit from humans.
SFGate launched a Bay Area food carts feature this week, using Google Maps and Twitter. Social media! Obnoxious nouns! Honestly though this seems fairly useful, at least for those of you who don’t already know how to track your favorite food carts online. FYI: we love Bike Basket Pies and Banh Mai.
The Humane Society is currently taking entries for its annual Spay Day contest. Enter your pet and get everyone you’ve ever connected with to vote for it. Each vote costs $1 and all proceeds go to charities chosen by the human companions of the pets you vote for.
Jonathan Kauffman of SFoodie says that unpaid food writers can be excellent critics, too, as long as they hold themselves to the same ethical standards as big-time food writers. Thanks, JKauff; we do try over here.
The European Union is looking to list bluefin tuna on the endangered species Appendix 1, which includes “pandas and some whales;” this would “effectively ban international trade in the fish,” because there are so few of them. Nice job, sushi-lovers. Though should we say, nice job fish-eaters the world over: there is no such thing as sustainable fish at all! Yeah, a total lie.
Aw, has anyone seen Orion Levine’s missing ant, Ant?
Obama’s State of the Union preview—for vegans! »
Tonight President Obama will address the nation with his first State of the Union address. There are two things I’m hoping to hear, and if he says them, vegans will have cause to celebrate.
The first thing: a renewed, post-Copenhagen commitment to fix global warming. This means Obama will need to urge the Senate to pass a clean energy bill. The Senate is now the world’s most dysfunctional legislative body, and lately it’s become a graveyard for good ideas, a modern day House of Lords, where ancient gray-haired idiots dither around as island nations drown, forests disappear, and more species go extinct. Seriously, the Senate sucks. (By which I mean, nice senators, yes you are all very important and wise, now pretty please pass a climate bill?) If they don’t pass a bill to reduce global warming pollution, then that gives other big polluters like China an excuse to do nothing. Obama needs to go there. It’s better for the economy, better for the planet, and better for the animals.
Now here’s the second thing: progressives have been furious over a proposed “spending freeze” that the White House leaked on Monday. It was a bad idea when John McCain proposed a freeze, so why is Obama all about it now?
Here’s a reason why this may actually be a good thing. First of all, it’s less of a freeze, and more like a slushy. Rather than taking a hatchet to the budget, Obama will propose increases in spending on areas that boost the economy, while proposing cuts to areas that waste money. The idea he’s pitching is to hold average spending steady starting in 2011 and call it a “freeze” to make your conservative uncle in Ohio swoon.
So why should we care? Because farm subsidies could end up on the chopping block, and that would be a very good thing. Less money to grow corn that no one needs, less money for slaughterhouses, less clearcutting, less money for megafarm corporations. We’ve already taken farm subsidies to task here in the hallowed halls of Vegansaurus, so if Obama cuts them in his future budgets, then I will kiss him on the mouth. It would be a significant victory for sanity in our food system.
We don’t know the details yet, obviously, which is why this is called a preview and not a psychic prediction. Disappointment is still very much on the menu because, it’s politics. And even if he goes there, lobbyists might still win anyway. So tune in and keep score at home, or find a SotU drinking game and pass out in the bathroom.