Nicholas Kristof gets real in his July 27 op-ed in the New York Times, “Can We See Our Hypocrisy to Animals?”
Why aren’t you eating horse, omnivores? »
If Americans are being honest with themselves—if anyone who eats meat is being honest—there is absolutely no reason killing horses and eating the yielded meat is intrinsically worse than the thousands of other animal killings that happen in slaughterhouses around the country every day. If you’re alarmed that the wrong meat was slipped into your frozen lasagna, that’s reasonable. (Vegetarians, of all people, can appreciate the perils.) But if the very thought of killing horses disgusts you in a way that killing cows or pigs does not, you are entertaining an odd delusion that eating a big steak cut from a cow is elegant while eating similar meat cut from a horse is low-class and vile.
Dreamy meat-avoider Cord Jefferson has some words for outraged, snobbish omnivores regarding Europe’s ever-expanding horse meat scandal.
As vegans, we obviously want all meat-eating to stop, but until then (FIGHT FOREVER, PLANT-BASED SOLDIERS) we can at least point out the blatant hypocrisy involved in turning your nose up at horse meat and then gleefully eating cow organs. You shouldn’t be deceived by food labels; nor should you think that eating any one animal’s flesh is morally superior to another.
What do you think? Are you horrified and a tiny bit smug but totally keeping it to yourself because no one wants to hear from the smug vegan?
[Photo by Eduardo Amorim via Flickr]
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?
Liquid Sanctimony, blatant hypocrisy, fur in fashion, bunny photos AND MORE in this week’s link-o-rama! »
Videogum does it again! Beloved pundit Stephen Colbert reads Cat Fancy magazine at the Olympic games, where he is a member of the U.S. speed skating coaching squad. We have no events for you this weekend—but there is a contest! So go enter it, and read some articles, maybe watch a couple videos, and enjoy your weekend. Vegansaurus loves (to argue with) you!
You know what you want? A bunny calendar, starring Bells, Nuage, and dearly departed Fats of Potentially Nervous! And you can win a page of that calendar (read: a quality bunny photo) by entering the PN guess-a-number sweepstakes by Monday night, Feb. 22! GO NOW BUNNIES.
More pretty photos, these from the BirdGuides 2009 Photo of the Year competition. Seriously, check out this puffin, it’s coming to getcha!
Aw, Kate Beaton did a comic about Vegansaurus’ hometown’s namesake, Saint Francis. He loved animals! Especially birds!
An Italian food writer gets fired because he gives a recipe for cat casserole, which he says is “better than chicken, rabbit or pigeon. Viewers totally freaked, to which I say, fuck you: chickens, rabbits and pigeons are people’s sweet pets too, and deserve the same respect not to be eaten. A million ways to serve bunny, but don’t talk about MITTENS LIKE THAT! Jerkbag hypocrites 4ever.
Hey, it’s a fucking fursplosion at Fashion Week! People wonder why fur is “still” an issue; maybe because designers are still using it? And it’s still revolting and entirely unnecessary? I don’t care if that coat was your great-great-grandmother’s treasured possession and a family heirloom, or if you love status symbols and it represents your triumph over economic adversity, or what: if you’re wearing fur, you’re an asshole.
Did you know that Wal-Mart is the largest grocery chain in the U.S.? True! It owns 30 percent of the food retail market. And thanks to the massive efforts of the Humane Society, our nation’s biggest grocery store will now be selling "cage-free" eggs under its Wal-Mart label. Way to go, HSUS!
A recipe for Liquid Sanctimony, which has nearly 30 ingredients. Said to be excellent for detoxing from “a hardcore tater tots/cigarettes/peanut M&Ms habit.”
The New York Times' Lens blog features videojournalist Brent McDonald, author of "The Danger of Livestock Waste"—you know, that vide/article you emailed to everyone you’d ever met who still eats animal products.
OK sit down, and prepare yourself for the brilliant logic that is about to smack you in the face, direct from Smart Money: “I couldn’t even watch a YouTube video of a chicken slaughter. Does this mean I shouldn’t eat meat? Perhaps. But Nathaniel Lewis, who hosts workshops on his Washington farm, says not to worry: Most of us couldn’t bring ourselves to perform heart surgery, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.” GENIUS.
Or what about this, from an NYT op-ed: instead of making factory-farmed animals’ lives less shitty, let’s genetically engineer them to be unable to feel pain! They’ll still be aware of danger and so understand terror and threat of death, but when they’re abused, it won’t hurt so much. Guilt: eradicated! I can’t wait till we do this with people!!
Green Is the New Red blog has some questions about the “systemic disparities” in the application of the “terrorist” label.
If you can stand the piss-poor sound, check out this video interview with David “foot-in-mouth disease” Chang in which he opines on the costs of meat.
In LA and DC, groups are helping veterans adopt shelter dogs! Apparently having a dog can seriously mitigate the effects of PTSD.
Scientific American says that dogs can also teach people how to play fair. “[W]hen we study dogs, wolves and coyotes, we discover behaviors that hint at the roots of human morality.”
You guys, I am moving to Portland to work in a factory. For Bob’s Red Mill, specifically; Bob is transitioning to an employee stock-ownership program, meaning the workers will own the company. As though there weren’t a million reasons to love Bob’s Red Mill already.
This’d be a wacky story about a zebra stopping traffic on an Atlanta freeway, except that the poor zebra was running away from the fucking circus. We’re sorry you were returned to those animal-torturing psychos, zebra.
After its “Animal Minds” episode last month, Radiolab’s had three follow-up shorts that you should definitely check out. The most recent features a video (on the radio? what? science!) about a chimpanzee called Lucy.
Je vous présente à Antoine Goetschel, Swiss animal lawyer, and yet another reason why Europe wins.
JSF mania, regal vegan dining, tons of recipes, horrible tragedy and more in this week’s (bipolar) link-o-rama! »
TODAY! That’s Friday, Nov. 6: Jonathan Safran Foer is having a book signing at UC Berkeley at 7 p.m. in the Multicultural Center! Woo!!
On Sunday, Nov. 8 at noon King of Ughs David Chang and Ubuntu’s vegetarian betrayer Jeremy Fox will appear in conversation with each other at Omnivore Books (3885 Cesar Chavez St. at Church Street). New York Times columnist (and co-author of His Majesty of Shut Up, David Chang’s new book) Peter Meehan will moderate.
JSF makes a modern Modest Proposal to omnivores: how about some delicious dog? One of your Vegansaurs’ first solid foods was dog soup. This was not a major factor in his/her decision to go vegan (GUESS WHOSE), as it only happened once, during toddlerhood; the point is, duh, all meat is equally reprehensible.
This one time, in August, Emperor David Chang of Saying Idiotic Things made a vegetarian meal, at the behest of the James Beard Foundation. Color Vegansaurus unimpressed; we’ve had at least as fancy at Brassica.
Miss Vegan Drinks? Of course you do! Thank goodness for the East Bay, who’ve been doing their thing on non-holiday Tuesdays and want to see you at their next meeting! Mix and mingle on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kona Club, at 4401 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley Avenue in Oakland! Details here.
Hey, Science: “Because such monkey torture will not lead to improved human health, you don’t need to be an animal rights advocate to wonder if an ethical cost-benefit analysis might conclude that the ends don’t justify the means.”
Nicolette Hahn Niman doesn’t want you to blame her ranch for the environmental problems caused by raising animals for food; after all, she says, “Singling out meat is misleading and unhelpful, especially since few people are likely to entirely abandon animal-based foods.” And anyway, ”avoiding soy from deforested croplands may be more difficult…. Brazilian soy is common (and unlabeled) in tofu and soymilk sold in American supermarkets,” so shut up and eat your Bill-Niman-de-and-renounced “happy” beef, already. JESUS LADY.
Adult Dungeness crabs are few and far between for the second consecutive year, but that won’t stop most fishermen from going out to catch as many as they (legally) can. Fishing in a “down” season makes perfect sense, hooray people.
CHOW honors local hero Bryant Terry and Queen of Vegetables Deborah Madison in its first annual awards, the CHOW 13. Too bad they have to tell us how much they looooove Ryan “literally all of the pig” Farr as well, boo.
For reasons as yet unknown, all the female spectacled bears in the Leipzig (Germany) Zoo have lost nearly all of their hair. They look incredibly pathetic without their usual “fluffy dark brown” fur coats.
Oh delicious, sumptuous, vegan cuisine literally good enough for the Queen: a luncheon at Windsor Castle, part of a “Celebration of Faiths and the Environment,” satisfied all the participants’ dietary requirements by eliminating all animal products from the menu! An “autumnal roasted pear salad” with “deeply savory…toasted [Kentish] cobnuts”? Yes, please!
Yobie Benjamin analyzes the most recent reviews of and data on San Francisco’s public school lunches, and determines that, duh, it can be done better, for cheaper. The notable part here is that he includes veg options in his price breakdowns. It’s not more expensive to eat vegan! OK?!!
How revolting: a guy in Cleveland had very poorly hidden the bodies of six women—who had been raped and murdered—“in and around” his house, which is next door to a sausage factory, which some people blamed for the stench. Rotting carcasses stink, be they human or other animal.
In fucked-up and depressing animal news, there’s still one organization associated with the veal calf slaughterhouse exposé that apparently supports the obscene treatment of those baby cows. Unregulated free markets always arrive at the best solutions, right?
The SF Bay Guardian makes a giant effort and reviews Greens. Revelation: it still makes good food. Your omnivorous friends will not complain (too much) about being denied their meat for one meal. Like we were saying, a new restaurant critic with some imagination re: veg food, please.
Our pals at CSA Delivery blog have been killing it with their vegan recipes lately: dolmas with caramelized leek hummus; chard and chickpea burgers with quick pickled veggies; vegetable curry; soft chili tofu. UGH SO HUNGRY.
On Saturday, Nov. 21, friends-of-Vegansaurus Farm Sanctuary are hosting a Celebration for the Turkeys dinner, “designed” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau! Tickets cost $75 for adults and $35 for children, and are on sale now. Unless you are also a famous vegan cookbook author, this is guaranteed to be a lot tastier than your Thanksgiving dinner, so you might as well go. Plus it supports farm animals, instead of crazy relatives who drink too much/not enough; a pig will never ask you when you’re going to give it grandchildren or if you’ve put on weight.
Maria posted that quote from the Jezebel piece on Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and veganism.
I have some thoughts on this. They are posted below (with a little help from Meaverly!) I’d love to hear other thoughts on the article, as well. Unless they’re different than mine. If that’s the case: you’re wrong, go away!
Okay, Jezebel piece on veganism. I’ve got some issues witchu.
In the post, the writer talks quite a bit about our substantial “human culture”* in relation to meat eating. In the history of “human culture,” meat and dairy weren’t a part of every meal until very recently. Whether because of culture, cost or convenience, that’s just how it was. Relatedly, the modern factory farm couldn’t be further from how things were even just 30 years ago. It’s a big leap from hunting animals ourselves to buying them wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic at Safeway. This “human culture” argument reeks of b.s. to me but I’ll still point out that a break from the status quo in “human culture” is how most of the great things happened in the history of the United States.
I think Jezebel has a stronger argument for the difficulty of becoming vegan with the communal act of sharing a meal. It’s hard to order something different than your friends and then respond when they ask you, “Why did you get that?” It’s hard to say no to your grandmother’s pot roast or famous apple crisp**. Food is often how we show our love to those around us. Sharing a meal with your family can often be one of the best memories a person has. It’s a difficult thing to deal with because when you turn down Grandma’s food, it’s like you’re turning down her love. My friend actually told me that he didn’t know if it was harder to come out to his parents as being gay or being a vegetarian! Craziness!
So, yeah, it is hard. It might be the hardest thing about becoming vegan or vegetarian. But you can do it. You can bring your own food to the meal and still participate with your family. It’s different but you can do it. It’s likely that once your family sees that you are for real about this and it’s not just a phase, they’ll most likely start making food that you can eat and might even change their relationship with what and how they eat. My dad who is WAY into meat, pretty much only eats it a couple times a week now because of his health and also because that’s just how my parents eat now. I like to think I had some influence on that. Also, now he’ll live longer and not die from fat clogged arteries, another delightful side effect from his meat consumption (and that’s not just me, that’s his doctor! Who isn’t vegan! Snap! Kinda!). And at the risk of sounding slightly preachy, it feels REALLY good to live in a way that you’re not supporting animal torture and killing. I don’t know how else to put that last part to make it sound not as in your face because that’s what it is, it’s animal torture and then it’s animal murder. Hm, I guess murder is worse than killing? But also more appropriate.
Another problem with the Jezebel argument is that she’s talking about younger kids, in particular college students, and unfortunately there are a lot more VUGs than LUGs. Then two months out of school, they quit being veg when they find a new partner who loves to eat steak. Those former vegetarians/vegans are actually the most dreaded people to deal with for two general reasons. First, because their vegan lifestyle was another trend to follow, like spending your weekends getting high and making out with other ladies in front of dudes to the sweet sounds of the Dave Mathews Band. That’s fine, we were all experimenting in college (er, except for that Dave Mathews Band part) but that’s not how your everyday, committed vegan behaves.
Second (and remember the “generally” that preceded all this), there is the ex-veg who liked the animal-free lifestyle of their youth, but didn’t keep it up after school because of lack of support/willpower/spine/empathy. These people tend toward the jerky side because of their guilt, and some of them like to talk about how their doctors prescribed them a meaty diet because they “got all weak and sick and anemic” during their veg years***. Sometimes they come to their senses and return to their ethical lifestyles; those who don’t can get kind of obnoxious in their justifications of why not.
Now listen: long-term vegans and vegetarians aren’t preachy. You hear A LOT about the preachiness because the self-righteous vegans are the ones the media love because, guess what, they make great news! Talking about all of the vegans and vegetarians who comfortably live amongst us? Not so interesting.
I am open to any questions from my omnivore friends about veganism and I think (hope) they know that but that’s the extent of my outreach to those directly around me. If someone wants to become vegetarian or vegan (for the right reasons) then no matter what stands in their way, they will do it. The fact that it’s harder to find vegan food (which really isn’t that true!) or that they love the taste of bacon too much or that it’s a part of their “human culture”—those things don’t matter. You become vegan because you don’t want to contribute to the wide-scale suffering and exploitation of animals. That’s it. I hope that people who are truly interested in vegetarianism or veganism don’t come across the judgmental vegan (or the very common judgmental meat-eater talking waxing obnoxious about the judgmental vegan) and it scares them off veganism. I hope that even if they do, they’ll reach out until they find the thousands of us who aren’t. I want to think if someone really wants to be vegan, it will happen. But I don’t know how true that is. I want it to be. Argh! Damn humans being all crazy and shit! I’m off to have a delicious vegan cupcake before I get all super bitchy or cry-y.
*I believe that “human culture” deserves respect, but I’m willing to side with an animal life vs. “human culture” as relates to food. I’d be curious to ask the author—who obviously doesn’t think veganism is the problem, but rather the people who are vegan—how do I help others make the decision to become vegan without sounding preachy or judgmental? I mean, I can ask my omnivore friends how to do this, but obviously I’m not very successful; they still eat meat. When I first became vegan, I thought I would show factory farm footage and explain the things I learned about animals in horrible situations and everyone around me would immediately go veg. To be honest, it still boggles my mind that they don’t.
**my grandmother, bless her crazy ass heart, was a certifiable anorexic so I never had that problem. Maybe that’s why I’m vegan???
***Secretly, most of us don’t buy it. Collectively we have a lot of friends with a unfortunate genetic tendencies and/or diseases who are also vegan or vegetarian, and their diets are 0 percent detrimental to their health. If you’re worried about your health, talk to a (real, with-a-degree, licensed) nutritionist before you talk to any doctor. MDs don’t get much training in nutrition; their advice isn’t the best you can get.
On Eating Rabbits »
Could you kill this bunny?
Would you eat him?
Mission Street Food would! And if you would like to eat some rabbit, MSF will cook you up some “rabbit rillette,” which means the dead rabbit is slow-cooked until its flesh is soft, which is then shredded, mixed with other ingredients, and made into a sort of pâté. The collaborating chef is really into eating like Native Americans did, which can be the subject of another post, when we discuss how Slow Food and locavorism are cruel, ridiculous lies. Today, bunnies.
Rabbits are not protected under the Humane Slaughter Act, not in its first version in 1958, and not in its most recent version in 2002. This means that bunnies who are raised for their meat are not guaranteed the “quick, relatively painless death” that all cows, goats, pigs, and sheep must have before their bodies are cut up for your friends’ and neighbors’ tasty suppers. Rabbits are really sensitive; they scream when they’re in pain. It is the most horrible sound. I wonder if people who kill rabbits for a living have to listen to those screams all day, or if they wear earplugs or something.
Look at Nibbler up there; what do you think it’s like to be faced with a bunny like him and know that your job is to kill him? What might it be like to hold his lifeless body and think, ‘okay, time to cut the face off’? I wouldn’t open that link if I were sensitive to photographs of dead rabbits; I’ve heard they’re quite gruesome.
Obviously rabbits are excruciatingly adorable, and soft, and quiet; they are also totally chill companions whose ideal days include napping under furniture, hopping around their favorite people’s feet, gnawing on a variety of textured items (i.e. cardboard and wood), tasting whatever their people are eating, and getting some pets. Some rabbits are friendlier than others, and more inclined toward lap-sitting and snuggling; others are shyer and prefer to make a blanket-nest next to you while you’re sitting on the floor watching TV.
It’s difficult to make the cognitive leap from “I love my dog” to “I can’t eat cow.” Not too many people have ever had a beloved pet cow. Bunnies are people’s pets, though, lots of people’s pets; can you really look a rabbit in the eyes and eat pâté made of his relations? The disconnect between the inherent violence of eating animals and the natural affection for tiny, big-eyed creatures is remarkable. Could you pet this bunny and eat another?
Rabbits raised for people to eat don’t live in homes with cardboard boxes to chew on and little trucks to throw around. They don’t even get the courtesy of a “quick and painless” death. When treated as livestock, the cutest animals live the worst lives, and are subject to the most painful deaths. Tell your friends who patronize Mission Street Food; see if it makes a difference. A happy house bunny smells of hay, and sometimes when you get up close to him to get a good sniff of fur, he’ll lick your face; like many, many other animals, rabbits show affection through grooming, licking and smoothing each other with their little pink tongues and little furry paws. Are you comfortable eating animals who share the affection for people that we feel for them?
I don’t love all animals, but I believe that they have as much right to live as I do. I’m happy to support MSF when they support vegan and vegetarian causes. After three months of living with an actual bunny, though, the idea of eating a rabbit isn’t as abstractly wrong as the idea of eating a pig—it’s vivid and frightening.
Omnivorous friends, please don’t eat rabbits. When you see dishes made of rabbit on menus, please don’t order them. Think of this photo of Nibbler instead; think of eating this little bun, who follows people into the kitchen in hopes of catching fallen crumbs, and who licks his delicate chops after taking a bite of strawberry to get all the juice off his face. No one who’s spent quality time with a rabbit could eat another. They should never, ever be someone’s meal, nor should anyone with a speck of compassion eat an animal—especially one whose “quick and painless” death is not demanded by law.