Poor little spotted kiwi! Like all of New Zealand’s national birds, it used to be super-duper endangered. Then the Department of Conservation established new colonies in areas without predators in the ’80s, and the population boomed. But a recent analysis of these colonies reveal a serious problem with the little spotted kiwis. Per Becky Crew at Running Ponies:
[T]he birds upon which all hopes of substantial genetic diversity rested – had never actually bred. They didn’t even produce one chick. Which means that all the little spotted kiwi on the planet, from every population, have come from the five birds that were originally put on Kapiti Island in 1912.
Genetic diversity is vital to a species’ survival. So what are scientists going to do about it? First, further analysis. They might have to revert the little spotted kiwis’ status back to endangered. If only all humanity had left New Zealand alone. We might still have moa!
[Photo of little spotted kiwi chick by Andrew Digby via Running Ponies]
Baby seal breaks into home, steals hearts! You heard it right: this ridiculously adorable baby seal crawled through a cat door and made itself cozy on the couch in a New Zealand home. I am not kidding you!
If that is not great enough, while the SPCA was transporting the seal back to the ocean, it got out of the box they put it in and climbed up to the front of the truck, turned on the radio and chilled in the front seat. I am not kidding you!
Ad Beat: New Zealand commercial “parodies” crush videos »
So here’s the offensive New Zealand’s Next Top Model commercial that’s got the country abuzz—you can watch it, no real animals are crushed:
[can’t see the video? Watch it on vegansaurus.com!]
I know some people got upset when I criticized an ad recently so to them I say, beware!: things are ‘bout to get critical! I think the first thing you notice is what a CRAPPY commercial it is. To think someone paid for this! I’m not sure where they squandered the budget for a decent director but it certainly didn’t go toward editing.
On to the real issue, people are PISSED about the commercial’s reference to “crush videos.” As you dedicated readers know, Congress recently passed a bill to ban crush videos in the U.S. Thank god. I had never heard of crush videos and I wish I still hadn’t. It’s a truly despicable phenomenon. Animal cruelty is bad enough, but when someone truly derives pleasure from it? It’s almost too much for the heart to handle. It makes me question humanity and wish everyone would, I don’t know, DROP DEAD.
Wait, genius idea: take something super offensive, deplorable and illegal* and make light of it! This is a recipe for success! Let’s brainstorm. I’m imagining a photoshoot with Kewpie dolls in crotchless panties—it could be for the next Rock of Love! So edgy. Or maybe McDonald’s could do a “my factory-farm friends” toy series—those Happy Meals would fly off the shelf! There’s no shortage of awful things that happen in the world so really, the possibilities are endless!
Go to Change.org if you’d like to read more and sign a petition to get the commercial cut.
*Not everywhere, but you know what I mean.
Sometimes it’s almost our birthdays and we feel unaccomplished and sad; sometimes there are kiwi shortages, and robots milk cows: it’s this week’s link-o-rama! »
Ein Geburtstagskuchen! Really, any cake is a birthday cake if you deem it so. This is vegan Schwarzwälderkirschtorte—lecker! [photo by benjamin_lebsanft]
Tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 20, Dolores Park Works will hold a Dolores Park Clean-up! Your Vegansaurus wholeheartedly endorses this endeavor, what with loving Dolores Park so terribly, terribly much, and we owe it to our neighborhood to go! Meet at the Dolores Park Works-branded toolbox behind the tennis courts at 18th and Dolores Streets at 10 a.m. tomorrow; DPW will provide all the equipment, and work is scheduled until 2 p.m.
There’s an international kiwi crisis brewing as the trees are being clobbered by a nasty bacteria called PSA. “International” because Italy actually produces more kiwifruits than New Zealand, annually. The U.S. and Russia, among others, are looking at meagre winter harvests, so countries that import most of their staples can expect those prices to increase between 11 and 20 percent next year. Because poor countries don’t have enough problems! In China, the government has begun distributing food subsidies in the form of money and actual comestibles, as food prices there went up 10 percent in ONE MONTH, and inflation grows faster than people’s incomes. UGH.
Meanwhile we are still the luckiest jerks: California is full of awesome farmers markets, and we’ve got Local Harvest, which helps you determine not just your nearest awesome farmers markets, but where all the food sold there came from. The USDA keeps a national list of farmers markets, too. If you can take advantage of this, DO IT. You owe it to everyone who eats food with a massive carbon footprint because that’s the only food they can get. We’re so well off, there’s no excuse not to be selective about our groceries. You eat vegan, local, organic food, and know that in that part of your life you really are doing your best. No brags, no smugs, just dedication to the right thing. Well OK, maybe we in the U.S. aren’t the best-best off: Grist hosts two solid debates on the Food Safety Modernization Act that, in part reveal that our current standards are depressingly low. Um, so maybe you’d like a recipe for spiced sweet potatoes? Possibly the most depressingly recounted recipe ever written in English?
Our pal Justine Quart, interviewer of vegan burlesque queens, has written a fantastic article in the SFAppeal on the problem of shark fin soup in San Francisco and how it’s being addressed. Goodness it is an EXCELLENT article, you really must read it. A horrible human being has been strangling seagulls with beer cans since at least Nov. 3. Thank goodness, Wild Rescues saved one gull this week! Here’s a small good thing: the California Beer and Beverage Distributors doubled the bounty for the fuckface bird-torturer. If you need to indulge in a little vicarious revenge, Netflix is streaming Whale Wars season three. Just imagine you are steering the boat, only it’s your fist, and it’s going right into the bird-strangler’s throat. When you open your eyes again, you have committed zero violent acts, just as it should be.
Hooray, it’s the Week in Vegan, by our own Laura! Unfortunately she made a small error regarding my number-one dream husband Vincent Kartheiser, as the public transportation-lover/car-despising vegan around here is me. Whoops! Lely: the dairy maintenance company of the future? Because robotics? Your Vegansaurus finds all this suspicious and a little creepy. Really, the cows are actually happy? REALLY? Perhaps in this same future we’ll all be wearing nutria-skin hats—nutria, the ethical fur! HA. Or, OK this isn’t so strange: Eric Hanson has drawn a sort of “geography of Thanksgiving,” with illustrations based on the most popular Google recipe searches measured on the day before Thanksgiving. Kentucky’s is “broccoli casserole,” which could be gross, or delicious, depending. Crossing our fingers for delicious, Kentucky!
What’s up with Obama lifting the ban on commercial whaling? »
There hasn’t been enough in the news lately about marine life being killed by the excesses of civilization, so what the hell, let’s talk about whaling. Food Fight Grocery alerts us to a FOX News report (via UPI) that Obama is set to “break his campaign pledge to end the slaughter of whales” by negotiating a compromise to lift the ban on commercial whaling. The International Whaling Commission next meets on June 20, when they will take up the proposal for a vote.
FOX News is trying to score cheap political points, but for once, they’re not wrong on the facts. Environmental groups are angry, and there’s a lot to not like here. The International Fund for Animals, along with Greenpeace and HSUS, released an open letter [PDF] condemning the compromise and has been urging action to flood the White House with calls.
So what’s this all about, anyway? The compromise would allow Iceland, Japan and Norway, the three remaining nations that hunt whales, to hunt whales legally for commercial purposes. In exchange, the nations would have to cap whaling below their current numbers and agree to tighter monitoring and regulation, including new efforts to help with conservation of whales and other marine life.
Iceland, Japan and Norway are going to keep hunting whales no matter what, and the number of slaughtered whales has been rising every year. Reducing this number would count a win, and by bringing outlaws under the watchful eyes of regulators, the worst abuses can be stopped—at least, that’s the logic behind the compromise. Environmentalists and other detractors say that passing the compromise would legitimize whale hunting, and that the compromise offers no long-term target to end whaling entirely.
At stake may also be the very existence of the IWC. If members can’t agree on a compromise, all signs point to the collapse of the 63-year-old organization. That would mean no standards, no monitoring, and nowhere to report illegal whaling.
No matter where you stand or which evil you feel is the lesser one, it’s clear that consensus on whale hunting will never happen without reaching the people who demand whale meat (and maybe smacking them upside the head). We’ve already gone after New Zealand for supporting this compromise, and if it passes, we’ll be really unhappy. But if it doesn’t pass? For the whales, it might be even worse.
Feral cat controversy, jerks in Missouri, junk in your wine, and MORE in today’s link-o-rama! »
[image from Lucia Oberste of Zoomie’s Pet Care]
Fun-times vegan-style events!
OK there’s only one this week, and it’s not even 100 percent vegan, but one is better than zero, right? Right! So: Tomorrow, Saturday, Apr. 3 from 5 to 11 p.m. in the Laskie Street parking lot (off Mission Street, between 8th and 9th Streets) in San Francisco you can attend the first Underground Street Food event! The website is a garish nightmare and requires you to subscribe to a mailing list for details, but it might be worth checking out.
Items of social and political import!
It seems like supperclubs in New York are having as much fun and success as they are in San Francisco. Although we are sure none holds a candle to our beloved friends at Brassica.
Ellen, the Humane Society, Halo products and PetFinder.com are sponsoring Stamps to the Rescue campaign, selling first-class stamps with images of adopted shelter animals, and donating 1 million meals to animal shelters.
Salon has a neat little slideshow of five of the “least green” “green foods” campaigns, including those from Sara Lee, Fiji water, McDonald’s, Monsanto, and Syngenta.
So what’s the deal with zoophilia? Is it a legitimate sexual orientation? Can it ever be acceptable behavior?
NATO has decided that hey, we are not as tragically underfunded and pathetic as U.S. public schools, we do not need Pizza Huts, Burger Kings, or Dairy Queens on our bases in Afghanistan any more; our canteens serve the same food, anyway.
Remember the horror that was the Paula Deen dinner party? James Brady Ryan of Pop Torture took it a step further and served only Sandra Lee “semi-homemade” dishes. Yes, it actually does end in vomiting.
Actually homemade: Vegetarian Times has four vegan cheese recipes! I’m making the goat cheese as soon as I get my hands on some cashews—review to come.
Apparently fresh produce carts are not as popular in New York City as the mayor had hoped, or at least not in the areas he would like them to be set up.
Geraldine Baum would like you to know that she buys and wears fur because she’s cold, and because her Russian grandmother said it was a very important status symbol, SO THERE.
There’s a feral cat colony in Daly City that needs feeding a few times a week—please contact Nadine May for more information.
Even more awesome: Brenda Shoss of Kinship Circle organized an email petition of Missouri state legislators, asking them to vote against opening a horse slaughterhouse—currently illegal in the U.S.—and in return many representatives harrassed her.
It’s hard out there for an omni-locavore; “there are a lot of people out there who raise great animals for us to use, and they don’t have the opportunity to get them to us because the slaughterhouses are going away.”
Even Josh Ozersky, the coolest eating-est dude who ever ate a cool thing, advocates giving up bluefin tuna, lest the species be eaten to extinction.
Watch out for 2008 pinot noirs from the Anderson Valley; winemakers have been using isinglass, “milk byproducts,” and egg whites to alter the extra-smoky flavors left by the wildfires during that year’s grape-growing season.
Should mainstream food writers “disclose” their food preferences, specifically their vegetarianism? The Accidental Hedonist says no.
Pescetarians can ease their consciences with a new U.S.-based “Which Fish to Eat?” guide from GOOD. Hooray.
And eaters of pigs can feel better knowing their pork suppers won’t be made from pigs who cannot walk or stand on their own anymore, or at least not in California.
Daz and Chip, two best-friend otters who lived in Nelson, New Zealand, died within an hour of each other this week.
Late addition video to cheer you up! Clever bunny Pallina makes the bed and opens a jar! (link from Cute Overload)
Dear New Zealand, »
So 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 http://tvmedia.ign.com]
Review: Ritual Coffee Roasters! »
Ritual makes all right coffee. They charge 50 cents extra for soy milk, and I’ve never seen soy milk on the bar for drip coffee, though I imagine they’d give you some out of an open Tetra Pak (TM).
They are really, really proud of their coffee, the espresso especially, but the reason I go there is because they sell People’s Donuts, which have become more and more delicious the longer they’ve been in business, and this vegan sherry cake that no one seems to know the provenance of but most everyone agrees is excellent. It comes in standard (yellow) and chocolate flavors, and you can’t go wrong either way. With People’s Donuts it is always a fun surprise to see what flavors are available, and which of those flavors looks the best, and a lot of the time the Ritual employee will have as much knowledge as you on the donuts—i.e., you’re both eyeballing them—so don’t be afraid to say that you want the on the left in the back, or wherever, because they stack them on a plate all willy-nilly and if you want the only chocolate one, that helpful employee might have to move some other donuts around for you.
We will give People’s Donuts its own review later on; they definitely deserve one! For now, know that they are good and tasty and available at Ritual for $2.50 a donut, the average price citywide.
As for the coffee, OK, I don’t know. The drip coffee is fine; better to take it to go and use your soy creamer at home, I think, if you are partial to cream in your coffee; I am, particularly with Ritual’s, which gives my delicate tum a terrible ache when I drink it without whitening it down. If you take it black, then why not stay? Here’s why not: no atmosphere. It’s often very hot, and loud, not just because of the machines but the music (80 percent of the time good!) and the yap yap yap of the patrons, some of those jerks will NOT shut up. Granted, it is not a library, but when everyone around you is silent, maybe you don’t have to talk at volume level 25, you know? Ugh, loud people, it is so hard for them to realize the difference between THE LEVEL OF THEIR VOICES and the level of a normal person’s voice. It is all right when you want to talk at loud bars/shows/&c. but Ritual is none of those places. Shut it, jerks.
Ritual espresso is very bitter, and quite often tastes burnt. Why is this? They go on and on about how they were a runaway success, roasting their own coffee and training their baristas to be AWESOME and ORIGINAL and MAKE FANCY DESIGNS IN THE FOAM, but I swear every single flat white I had in New Zealand—essentially a latte—was tastier and creamier and better foamed than anything I’ve had at Ritual, and there were no delightful seitan cheesesteak sandwich shops or fancy gourmet non-dairy-ice-cream-selling groceries across the street from the place where this work of art came from. Just a big glacier. Yet, everywhere, even at highway rest stop cafes where there was not one vegan food item, there was vegan soy milk and someone with the skills to really foam it. Having never had a espresso drink made with dairy milk at Ritual, I cannot speak to the baristas’ ability to foam cow’s milk, but if they are good at that and just aren’t trying with the soy…? I don’t know what the damn hell ass problem is, but I’m tired of paying extra for soy milk and getting inferior foaming. Either bring your A-game, or stop charging the extra money, or WHY NOT BOTH, because COME ON, JERKS, how much money are you losing on those Tetra Paks that unopened stay good FOREVER that you have to gouge the vegans and the lactose intolerant for our conscientiousness and/or dietary needs.
The sherry cake is really good though! Ideally, get sherry cake at Ritual to go and make coffee at home, allowing you to have delicious coffee exactly the way you want it AND sherry cake at the same time in quiet and comfort. Besides, Ritual has free wifi, but no outlets, so it’s not like you’re encouraged to stay there to work unless you’re talking over everyone and everything else anyway, and we already established how obnoxious that is. Hide yourself away, watch television shows on the computer in your pajamas, dip sherry cake in your coffee, maybe gluttonously eat two pieces and feel all warm and good and full. There’s no place like home when you’ve got quality baked goods. And are an agorphobe, but focus on the sherry cake, Ritual’s the only place in the city that sells it.