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03/21/2011

Test-tube meat: Would YOU eat it?  »

Somehow, I just can’t see myself eating test-tube meat. I imagine it would come with the same horrific and potentially organ-altering issues as genetically modified corn and shiz, you know like growing eight uteri or something. BUT. I do think that cloning meat-tissue would take pressure off of industrialized meat production AND weird cloning experiments. Save our farm animals and just eat pseudo-meat? I’m wondering if it would be anywhere near the same as a Boca burger.

Eat, Drink…Better wrote about biologist Vladimir Mironov and his in-vitro meat research. This man with the name of a Russian astronaut claims we are already running out of agricultural space globally, and that contributes to that whole hunger thing. And PETA is a major investor. “PETA is apparently offering a one million dollar prize for anyone who can grow a commercially available synthetic meat for market by June 2012.” Whaaaaa?

I’m not so all-aboad-the-biotech-wagon as I am on the alternatives-to-animal-exploitation-mobile. But the fact that scientists are trying to develop a “product” that would eliminate all the crazy issues we face with big Ag: greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, factory farms/slaughterhouses, and fucked-up biodiversity—that doesn’t sound so horrible—as long as there are no rogue mutated species coming out of this mess. I’m not prepared to join the X-Men. [Ed.: however, some of us named Laura are! And she wants the ability to eat unlimited amounts of ice cream WITH NO HEADACHES and to fly and to be invisible and to have people-crushing fatness. Please note: she is working on the last one already, fuck science!]

Mironov claims this risk just isn’t there and that we, the consumer, will accept the test-tube meat. He says, “We are already mass consuming cultured products like yogurt, brewed beer, and distilled wine. Therefore, the prospect of consuming cultured meat is not a foreign concept.” The jury is still out over here, but it will be interesting to see big meat producers freak out—and probably try to lay claim to the profits.
Perhaps these two geniuses could help make some strides!

This guest post was brought to us by Jessi Stafford! Jessi is originally from St. Louis…ish. She’s now squandering her fortune while freelancing in Baton Rouge, L.A. A University of Missouri Journalism grad, Jessi uses her degree for cocktail-drinking. She loves hyperbole and whoring around thrift stores. This is Jessi’s second post for Vegansaurus. Thanks, Jessi!

02/22/2011

Vegan meats galore: Veggie Brothers review!  »

Veggie Brothers is a mail-order restaurant that I had always wanted to try (I especially like anything mail-order: Restaurants! Wine! Brides!) but had never had the time to wait for the food nor the money to fulfill their $60-plus-shipping minimum order (because despite what you may be led to believe by television, graduate students are neither rich nor glamorous). That’s why I about had an aneurysm when Veggie Brothers reached out to Vegansaurus and asked us to review the gourmet offerings on their site. I was also excited because Veggie Brothers reposted something I wrote about Lady Gaga’s meat dress on Facebook a couple months ago, and I’m a sucker for the approval that I never received from my parents.

I tried to rope my mother into doing this with me because she will not eat anything unless it is covered in meat and then fried in meat and cheese because “is healthy, Mark! Russians very healthy! You be anemic soon and you die and you feel bad because Mommy warn you!” Unfortunately, my mother was away on another one of her cruises (she goes on at least three a year) so I had to resign myself to forcing Allen to eat with me while we watched Oprah (Allen’s unreasonable demand) by romantic candlelight.

Our first adventure began when it was time to receive the food. One of the downsides to the mail-order restaurant model is that you have to be home in order to receive the food, which is sent packed in dry ice in a special cooler. This may be a problem if you are terrible at planning/don’t have a place for UPS to leave the package/aren’t at home very much. We had to play tag with UPS which actually included me running after a truck and insisting there was a package for me. Unfortunately, there was not. The package was in another truck that I did not have to chase down! As soon as we got the package inside the house, Allen and I immediately proceeded to have the best time pretending we were Dr. Frankenstein while unpacking the food and putting it in our freezer. If shipping is a downside, then the way that these products are shipped are a major plus for me! Dry ice in a styrofoam cooler? Food in reusable plastic bags? I’m there!

Let me be honest with you: I was not expecting much. The directions on each of the bags (and we had six) was to plop the individual entrees (still in their packaging) into boiling water or to microwave them for a few minutes. I’ve had frozen dinners before. They may look good on the box, but once you’ve heated them, they’re just not that great. If you know what I’m talking about, you understand why I was expecting to be disappointed. However, Allen and I bravely soldiered on, putting the food onto decorative plates (I cannot believe we own such a thing) and discussing its merit as we watched Oprah interview someone who had overcome one life-threatening condition or another.

What follows is a detailed review of exactly what Allen and I ate and how we felt about it. We tried to order the most exotic/hard-to-make dishes we could, our assumption being that if the harder dishes were good, then the simple ones must be fantastic. I do not know if this is a fair assumption, but it got me to try vegan Mahi-Mahi, which for me is good enough.

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12/15/2010

Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday!  »

It is finals week! For me, this no longer holds any fear because I am in grad school and every week is finals week. “Bring it on!” I say as my tears smudge the ink of yet another double-spaced monstrosity that I cannot bear to finish. “Nailed it!” I yell as I accidentally reply-all with an embarrassing email in which I beg for an extension. “Is this worth it?” I ask as I drink yet another bottle of tequila, watching myself cry in the mirror. Be brave, future graduates! Slay those finals like the people slew the other people in that one movie. And then triumph and revel in your victory! Uh-oh, this pep talk has really broken down now, hasn’t it? Just go out there and do it! And be awesome! OK, let’s talk about squirrels, because if there’s anything this paragraph has taught me, it’s that I should probably not pin my dreams on a career in motivational speaking.

You know how when you think about Russian people, you think about alcoholics? Now you know how stereotypes work! Although the thing is, stereotypes are often based upon very real things. As a Russian person, I can tell you that lots of Russians have alcohol problems, but don’t take my word for it because I am not a scientist or the president of Russia. The president of Russia, in fact, is so concerned about the nation’s drinking problem that he has hired a CGI squirrel to show you how dangerous drinking is. Why a squirrel, you ask? That is a very good question for which I have no answer. I have no idea how a squirrel, no matter how mangy it looks, is going to convince me to put down my bottle of apple-infused vodka,* not even if it speaks in a drunk voice and jumps around and around an empty white room. If you don’t speak Russian, you may think you are watching an amazing short about the plight of an animal imprisoned in a white room, possibly by the KGB. Not so! The squirrel is actually incredibly wasted and discussing such far-ranging topics as “We saw his wife and he thought it was the devil so he said let’s shoot her and then we will mark this occasion.” When I first saw this video, I had no idea what it was about and thought it was a warning about psychosis. I got out my DSM to see if I could diagnose the squirrel, before realizing that if I am going to diagnose animated Russian squirrels, perhaps I am the one I needed to worry about.

Or perhaps I need to worry about the good people putting camels into their Christmas pageants. I have been to a couple of Christmas pageants in my day and while I have seen some bad acting—fifth-graders! Why did I pay you $2.50 when you cannot pay me the courtesy of learning your fucking lines?—I have never felt physically threatened by the production, probably because none of the pageants I have seen featured a live camel! Yes, friends, a live camel is the one thing your Christmas pageant is missing. What, there’s two things missing? Your Christmas pageant isn’t a hit unless the camel topples over into the audience? The camel had a sore knee and lost her balance (yes, there is video). It’s a good thing no one was injured because if anyone had, you can bet that there would be crowds cheering wildly for her death, regardless of her bearing zero culpability for this fiasco.

Apparently the company that provided her for the pageant is a fucking horror show and should be shut down immediately: its owner has been jailed for selling panthers as well as forcing animals to perform high dives. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? THAT HORSE DID NOT WANT TO JUMP OFF THE DIVING BOARD? You know how I know? Because the animals performing the high dives were reportedly shrieking and defecating as they did so. Diving boards are fucking horrifying. I remember my dad tried to get me to jump off of one once by showing me how much fun it was. He did it wrong and came out crying because the water—instead of accepting him gently—punched him right in the balls. He never forgave me.

Dredging up all those memories is a bummer, dude. Let’s look at this picture of a hamster to cheer ourselves up. Kinda makes all your troubles disappear, doesn’t it? Have an awesome day, and please send me links for next week!

*Not en vogue in Russia, where we drink our vodka straight! “Like real man,” my father says.

03/18/2010

11/25/2009

Esfir’s reasons why not*  »

My parents are about as aggressively Russian as one can get without actually being Lenin, Putin, or one of those awesome cab drivers that you see so often in large metropolitan areas. This is not to say they don’t try: My mother often preaches to me about how important my Russian heritage is, while my father does his part by wearing several gold chains at once and buying trinkets from the Nubian Prince collection at Ross. (Thankfully he traded in his Fila track suits, and now his bling and voluminous chest hair peek out from above a Ralph Lauren polo from last season.)

But no matter how much I poke fun at them, there’s a lot my parents have had to deal with over the years. First there was the gay thing (“Why we come to San Francisco? Why we not know what Rainbow Flags mean?”), then there was the crazy liberal thing (“You want legalize prostitution, man?” my father asked me on the telephone last year. “Listen, you supposed to be born in seventies, man. I tell you, you a hippie, man. Free Love tralalalalalalala. Stupid, man.”), both of which they eventually came through with great aplomb. But their open-mindedness and newfound political correctness took a nosedive off a cliff when, five years ago, I told them that I had chosen to be a vegetarian.

“Listen,” my mother said, attempting to keep an even tone as her dreams once again came crashing to the ground. "You already blind, gay, and Jewish. Why you need be a vegetarian!?" My father, to his credit, decided not to intervene. Instead, he lifted his gold Star of David out of his shirt, clasped it in his hands and pointed it at the sky, as if he was asking some kind of god to give him the strength to carry on. Then he just walked out of the room.

Things have been tense since then. My mother often sends me emails filled with articles linking vegetarianism to one or another horrible disease. She blames most minor ailments I suffer from on my refusal to eat animal flesh with such a fervor that one might think she was a fully licensed doctor instead of a fully licensed cosmetologist. And she and I often have conversations about why being a vegetarian is a lifestyle choice that is not only unhealthy but also socially unacceptable. In fact, my mother has drawn several logical conclusions to prove her point.

1. Vegetarianism hurts people’s feelings:
At my 21st birthday party, which was held at a Chinese restaurant (surprise!), I declined a piece of beef that my mother was trying to force onto my plate with all the subtlety of a brick being thrown through a window in broad daylight.
“No, thank you.” I said.
“Take it! Is important,” my mother hissed at me.
“Why?”
“Cook made all this food if you not eat the meat he see and get upset. Then he go home and cry because we so insult.”
“Then why don’t you eat it?”
“Just leave it on plate! You no care about no one! You people mean!”

2. Vegetarians are impolite:
“What if you go to someone house and they offer you meats. What you say?”
“No, thank you?”
“How could you! I cannot believe I raise such embarrassment!”

3. There are no health benefits to being a vegetarian. Nope! None whatsoever!
“You know who is vegetarian? Paul McCartney first wife! You know where she is? Die! She die and she a vegetarian. You need to read internet, Mark. Vegetarians lying to you! Vegetarian not healthy!”

4. Beef and lamb are vegetables.
I don’t even need to say anything here. You know that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the mom offers the vegetarian a rack of lamb and is surprised when he doesn’t eat it? Yeah, that’s all true.

5. Plants also feel pain so perhaps we should stop eating altogether.
“Mom, I don’t think that’s a valid argument. Science—”
“Ah, what do science know? Last week Pluto is planet. Today is poof. No more planet! That is science.”
“Why is that your argument for everything?”
“Because I am right. Americans believe everything they hear. You go look on internet.”

This is, of course, by no means an exhaustive list. On a weekly basis I may get assaulted with one or more of these gems of wisdom, and often my mother will outdo herself with something so outrageous that it makes my head explode (“You know I read about sex cult where they all vegetarians so you should be careful about what kind of people your friend because you might get STD.”). It still amazes me that even after five years of my not eating meat she can still find so many reasons why being a vegetarian is such a bad thing.

Even if it wasn’t inherently bad to be a vegetarian (and my mother will assure you it is), if asked why people become vegetarians my mother would happily look you in the eye (or the chin, as she is an adorable four feet and eleven inches) and say, with the poise and conviction reserved only for the very confident and the very criminally insane, “To make parents sad and humiliated.” **

*Yes, I did totally steal the title from a TV show starring Heather Graham that only aired for one episode. No, I’ve never seen it. Why do you ask?

**At this point I would like to point out that my mother is not insane, criminally or otherwise. Especially if she reads this. The woman is a goddess, okay? A goddess. I am such a horrible son!

Mark enjoys the Gilmore Girls, hamsters, and long naps in the afternoon. He is the proud owner of a legitimate college degree and looks best in black and white. He is not actually Judge Judy. We think Mark could whip all our asses at Defensive Omnivore BINGO!

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