Big news: cows also suffer in extreme heat  »

Those of us on the East Coast, especially in the concrete sauna otherwise known as NYC, are well aware of the suffocating heatwave that’s settled in this summer. If you thought New Yorkers were cranky before, the bar has definitely been raised due to the weather as of late. Now, imagine you can’t sweat.
Cows cannot sweat. Nor can they crank up their A/C, or dip into Victoria’s Secret for a while to browse frilly things while they cool off, or hit up the closest Starbucks for a Venti Mocha Frap. Instead, they become exhausted and debilitated, and they lose their appetites. This leads, of course, to a decline in milk production by as much as a third. Cows in Texas have become so overheated and lethargic that they drink so much water it actually kills them. While some dairy farmers are installing fan and sprinkler systems to alleviate the heat and cool off the poor bovines, this is only to maintain productivity and keep business booming. Perhaps we should start looking at the bigger picture and just stop treating these distinguished animals as if they were machines in the first place. After all, there are plenty of delicious milk alternatives out there, and I’ve never seen a lethargic almond.

[image via NDSU Agriculture Communication on Flickr]


Check out this video guys; it’s not scary. It is a little sad. It’s a really weird phenomenon though, right? That people will raise animals like they love them and then they kill them and eat them? It’s totally perverse! The day that someone can logically explain that to me, is the day that I’m Donald Trump. That makes sense, right? It’s Friday, cut me some g-d slack!

This video is brought to us by Ian Elwood. He is a nonprofit multimedia producer, environmental activist and animal advocate based out of Oakland, California. He works and blogs at International Rivers. Go get ‘em, Ian!


Surprise! Another quest for “ethical eating” ends in an omnivorous diet  »

GQ's food writer, Alan Richman, has an eight-page article in the July issue on his recent “ethical eating” odyssey, and is it ever illuminating and not at all like The Omnivore’s Dilemma rehashed!

Sorry, that was a lie. In reality, his conclusions are not very far from Michael Pollan’s, except Richman’s a lot snider getting to them. Underneath his Big Quest persona, he seems kind of angry:

"Today our true believers fervently pursue such principles as ecologically sound, socially just, humane, halal, kosher, nitrite-free, gluten-free, free-range, certified organic, or raw, whatever their cause demands. Yet not even vegans, our ultimate culinary ideologues, can match the commitment of those who dedicate themselves to the land. Farmers are, literally, America’s unwashed nobility."

This sets the tone for the entire article: Richman loves and idealizes farmers, and dismisses vegans and vegetarians out of hand. Here’s a typical zinger: “I don’t romanticize vegetables. I don’t believe in their nobility, nor have I been convinced by those who claim plants have feelings and scream silently when tossed into a hot pan. (I wouldn’t mind if that were true, since it would require vegans to starve themselves to death.)”

Poor Alan Richman wants it both ways: to be able to eat ethically without taking into account the fact that killing animals is unethical. Raising animals to kill them for your meal is unethical.

Check it: “‘We Americans prefer not knowing that the food we eat had a life. That way we don’t have to face the awful truth—that the food we eat had to die. We push away fish that arrives whole, with its glazed eyes, distressed not by the fate of the animal but by our own discomfiture, a dinner date ruined. Most of us would prefer that our livestock were treated indifferently, even inhumanely. If we consider animals inconsequential, a meaningless food source, we won’t be ill at ease when they emerge from the kitchen nicely cooked.”

Wrong, Richman. Vegans don’t eat animals because we know they have lives, and we aren’t so selfish as to presume we have the right to take away their lives for our meals. We’re the ones going undercover in slaughterhouses to expose the horrific conditions for the workers and the animals, and the ones protesting those conditions. We do not consider any animals inconsequential, because we don’t make an arbitrary distinction between “food” and “pet.”

Eric Ripert, however, does make incomprehensible distinctions: he’s a practicing Buddhist, and “says that if he were to operate his restaurant under those religious teachings, the decision of what to feed customers would be simple: vegetables, nothing else.” And I’d play the Goldberg Variations, but I don’t own a piano, so I can’t. You are a practicing Buddhist, but you own several seafood restaurants, and as a judge on Top Chef you eat all kinds of animal products without blinking. So what’s the point of mentioning this, exactly? It’s not endearing—it sounds crazy. Of course not all Buddhists are vegetarians, but saying you would serve vegetables, except you already serve fish, so you can’t—that is fucking stupid.

Equally stupid is Dan Barber’s assertion that “Where we are, the environment is telling you to eat meat.” Did he ask the soil himself, Richman? Did you put your digital recorder down to the soil? It’s one thing to need a few animals to help with the ecosystem; it’s quite another to house “an animal-breeding facility.” That’s using them, which is gross and disrespectful. But Alan Richman loves farmers! So Dan Barber can have sockeye salmon flown to upstate New York from Alaska because he believes they have the best fisheries, and it must be acceptable because he’s a farmer and a chef. Don’t question him, he’s supreme master meat-farmer.

Then of course Richman gets to bring up Mollie Katzen’s later-in-life switch to an omnivorous diet: “‘For decades I ate brown rice, broccoli, and tofu…. And I felt tired, depressed, and irritable. As I’ve aged, I’ve felt a need for animal protein.’” Omnivores love it when vegans and vegetarians start eating animal products again, like it’s a giant game of red rover and they’re winning. Mollie Katzen is a grown-up and entitled to her own decisions, though maybe if she’d been able to eat more delicious vegan cheeses, tasty protein sources, or even just more non-animal-based fats (olive oil! avocados!), maybe she wouldn’t have felt this “need.” Who can say? None of us here eats exclusively brown rice and vegetables, though.

Ultimately, it seems like Alan Richman’s problem is that even if he could find food that met his nebulous standards, he wouldn’t know what to do with it, and further, he has no faith in “we” “Americans.” Again, if he stopped ignoring the non-animal-eating community, he might stop despairing so much. We know how to cook at home, because the majority of restaurants in the majority of the country do not cater to us. Instead of using the whole animal, we use the whole vegetable—cook the leafy greens, and use their hard ribs for stock. Our diets are richer, cheaper, healthier, more varied, and (arguably) more delicious than an omnivorous diet.

Richman moans that “We no longer regard food as a gift, the way so many foreign cultures and religious families do. Instead of giving thanks and expressing gratitude on holidays, we gorge ourselves with meat.” Has the idea of a Thanksgiving without meat ever occurred to him? It’s fantastic. What about potlucks, or brunches? Within the vegan community, we cater to each other while we work and wait for the greater community to cater to us. Group meals are exciting and fun, each dish a present to friends. We get a lot of joy out of cooking and eating, part of which comes from knowing that animals didn’t suffer and die for our meals. How exactly is that "ethical eating run amok"?

Richman’s narrow-mindedness does him a serious disservice. If he really wanted to discove how to eat ethically, he should have researched vegans and/or vegetarians. Otherwise, he frames his article disingenuously: this is “talking to independent farmers and a couple of restaurateurs about how I can feel less guilty about eating the same way I do now.” And that is a bunch of bullshit. At least Michael Pollan made an effort. Alan Richman used his budget to travel around eating a lot, get his relatives to write about their own hard work living consciously, and type up the same stuff everyone else has been saying about eating meat and vegetables and Alice Waters and Dan Barber since the publication of The Omnivore’s goddamn Dilemma. What a waste of time.


O, link-o-rama! O, link-o-rama! Animaux, activités, de Friday jusqu’à Monday, il y a tout ce que vous voulez dans le link-o-rama!  »

We’re all ’60s-crazy over here, maybe you can tell? Mad Men is nigh (!!!) and we’ve got the silliest songs stuck in our heads, and here comes this amazing Airstream camper for your little dog to perfect our little fantasies. [Straight Line Designs via Pawesome]

Que faites-vous ce weekend?
Tonight is Vegan Happy Hour and potluck, hosted by Mr. Vegansaur Jordan at the Hemlock Tavern from 6 to 9. Be there, or have less fun in your life.

On Sunday afternoon, take a tour of the trees in and around Dolores Park with Chris of Mr. Prune Tree Care. The tour will be in English and Spanish, and run about two hours. Meet at the J stop at Church and 18th Streets at 11 a.m. [thanks for the tip, Mission Mission!]

Hands-On Gourmet is hosting an All-American BBQ workshop on Monday, July 12 to teach you how to make the best animal-free, gluten-free barbecue meal ever. Dishes will include burger buns, patties, potato salad, strawberry shortcake, and ice cream! Gluten-free beer will be available for tasting—attendees must be 12 or older. The workshop runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at the H.O.G. Kitchen at 2325 3rd St., No. 330; tickets cost $75. Please contact Joshua with any questions.

Wholesome Bakery, in conjunction with Ritual Coffee, will lead cookie and cupcake workshops at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St. at 3rd Street) as part of this summer’s Taste! program. There’s a coffee workshop (duh), too, and an art project called The Ministry of Approximate Travel by local artist Jenny Odell. Every Thursday in July in the Grand Lobby from 6 to 8 p.m. I’d say visit the YBCA’s website for more information, but as of today they actually have no information about it, so.

Voudriez-vous quelque chose à lire?

Anti-bullfighting activists protest in San Fermín, Spain. If you read Spanish, this article might prove interesting. [photo via AnimaNaturalis]

People treat animals really poorly, did you know? In Dublin (Calif., not Ireland), some assholes stole a penguin from the zoo, then abandoned her on a fucking sidewalk. HILARIOUS PRANK, guys! Ooh, the new gourmet food is lionfish, because it’s a super-destructive invasive species, wreaking havoc all over the Gulf of Mexico, into the Caribbean, and moving down into South American waters, and “humans are the only predator that can wipe it out.” But how did the lionfish, a native of the western Pacific Ocean, get to the other side of the world? Oh, well, see, people in South Florida who kept them in fishtanks in the ’80s started dumping the fish in the ocean! The wrong ocean! Whoops! And the lionfish figured out how to thrive, and now it’s fucking shit up for coral reefs all over the place. SO LET’S EAT THEM UP TO RECTIFY OUR MISTAKES. Humanity at its best.

Or no, humanity is at its best when it keeps monkeys for research, and the monkeys, because they’re miserable in captivity and hate being experimented on, figure out a genius method of escape, but don’t want to leave all their monkey pals behind, so are “lured back into captivity by scientists armed with peanuts.” I am so proud to be a human right now! BACK BEHIND THE ELECTRIC FENCE, WE MUST CONDUCT MORE TERRIFYING EXPERIMENTS ON YOU, PRIMATE.

People are also totally nasty. KFC makes its buckets from trees in North Carolina’s Green Swamp, which for some reason (money) isn’t protected land, but should be, except (money) KFC is clear-cutting it for fucking buckets. Thanks, government! And thanks, Western “junk food”—you know, your franchises of animal-products-in-everything, plus corn syrup—for giving 15 percent of men and 16 percent of women in Southeast Asia type 2 diabetes! Capitalism, you guys, it’s the best. Free market forever. In San Francisco you won’t be able to buy full-sugar sodas or waters in vending machines on city property anymore, but milk—both dairy and non-dairy!!—will be available. Calories are not all the same, you know—better to get some from protein and fat in soy milk than all from HFCS in a soda, yes? YES.

Deep Roots Animal Sanctuary needs your help to build a coop for their chicken, Mabel, and the chickens they hope to rescue in the future! The coop will be environmentally friendly, Mabel will have friends, and Deep Roots can save more birds. Birds are amazing, did you know? Robins can actually see magnetic fields, which helps them orient themselves. [link via The Telling Compulsion].

Kevin the kestrel is an amazing patient of St. Tiggywinkles [sic] wildlife hospital in Buckinghamshire, England! Someone found him on the ground with a broken leg, and the St. Tiggywinkles staff set it with “a hypodermic needle as a pin, some thin pieces of wire and dental cement.” We wish you a quick and happy recovery, Kevin!

So the president is all, Hey you congressjerks should pass the Food Safety and Modernization Act, it is Srs Bsns. And farmers are getting up on the Facebooks and Twitters, all, We’re safe and good and not harmful of the cows etc., don’t listen to Mercy for Animals, those guys are mean and biased. And I say, I am mean and biased, NO SYMPATHY.

Let’s look at restaurant reviews in the Chronicle! This week, Michael Bauer takes in the “modern neighborhood feel” of Encuentro, and what do you know, his take is very similar to our own Brianna’s! To wit: pretty all right, but could use some improvements. Lucky Oakland with its new restaurants. Lucky SFO, next, getting fancy-pants food from Napa Farms Market in Terminal 2 when it opens in March 2011.

Have you read about the Marines who rescued kittens in Afghanistan? I suppose it means people aren’t 100 percent terrible 100 percent of the time, and it’s nice to see some small acts of kindness in a world of enormous cruelty. Right? Sure.


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