vegansaurus!

05/13/2014

Male scientists stress out otherwise super-chill lab rats, or Why animal testing is the wackness  »

From Flickr user Feistea.

New findings show that male scientists may cause stress to rats and mice, resulting in different test results than female scientists achieve (warning: I don’t know the full extent of shiz they are doing to these poor animals but they seem to know a lot about their pain threshold): 

In research published online April 28 in Nature Methods, the scientists report that the presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats  equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes. This stress-induced reaction made mice and rats of both sexes less sensitive to pain. Female experimenters produced no such effects.

And it’s not just pain (shudder! Ugh, why do they know so much about what causes them pain!), “the researchers found that other behavioural assays sensitive to stress were affected by male but not female experimenters or T-shirts.”

There’s “good news” though!

The problem is easily solved by simple changes to experimental procedures. For example, since the effect of males’ presence diminishes over time, the male experimenter can stay in the room with the animals before starting testing.  At the very least, published papers should state the gender of the experimenter who performed the behavioral testing.

Hmm. I can think of a better solution. How about we not test on animals at all?! Yay!

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From flickr user Halfabear.

But seriously, animal testing is so flawed. First of all, I doubt these mice and rats aren’t generally stressed. So maybe they are going through these tests with super pain-resilience all the time. But that’s just one of a plethora of issues. Take a look at what one writer for the Guardian had to say:

I analysed in detail 27 systematic reviews examining the contributions of animal experiments to human healthcare. Their outcomes are remarkably consistent. Animal studies rarely contribute to the development of clinical interventions effective in human patients.

It’s not hard to fathom why. Animals have a plethora of genetic, biochemical and physiological differences that alter disease progression, drug uptake, distribution and effect. Stressful environments and experiments are common, and distort outcomes. Additionally, numerous studies have revealed scientific flaws in the design of many animal experiments.

The moral of the story: ANIMALS AREN’T PEOPLE. They respond to treatments and experiments differently! And while some studies may save human lives, check this out: 

Modern drugs are more carefully studied than ever before. After lengthy tests on animals, those considered safe, and potentially effective, enter very limited human trials. About 92% are then weeded out and deemed unsafe or ineffective.

The remaining 8% are some of the most closely scrutinised compounds on the planet. You might be forgiven, therefore, for assuming they are safe. But at least 39 studies over three decades have ranked adverse drug reactions as an important cause of hospital deaths. Only heart disease, cancer and stroke are more reliably lethal.

Slate chimes in too: 

just how often do animal tests predict side effects in humans? Surprisingly, although it is central to the legitimacy of animal testing, only a dozen or so scholars over the past 30 years have explored this question. The results, such as they are, have been somewhat discouraging. One of the scientists, Ralph Heywood, stated in 1989 that “there is no reliable way of predicting what type of toxicity will develop in different species to the same compound.” The concordance between man and animal toxicity tests, he said, assessing three decades of studies on the subject, was somewhere below 25 percent. “Toxicology,” concluded Heywood, “is a science without a scientific underpinning.”

Dude. If the main argument is that animal testing saves human lives, I say we have a problem. I can go on—or rather PCRM can—but the point is, animal testing is not the great life-saving necessary evil it’s painted to be.

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Fun with false dichotomies. 

But whether it saves human lives or not, the bottom line is it’s just not ethical. To be honest, I do care more about people than animals. If I could only save a human baby or a puppy—in some bizarre world where I ever actually have to make this choice—I would pick the baby. I’m not totally sure why but I think I would. BUT just because I value humans more than animals, I don’t think that means we can just do whatever we want to animals. Feel free to correct my reasoning but the way I think about it is like how I, without a doubt, care more about my sister than your sister. If one of them had to die, I would rather it was your sister. Truthbomb. But I don’t think that means we should go doing experiments on your sister because it might save my sister’s life! 

Thinking that another being is lesser and therefore you can do with them what you will is exactly why people did horrible experiments on jewish captives in nazi Germany or people of color in America. It’s just wrong. 

11/20/2012

Meet the Veggieducken: two sweet potatoes inside leeks inside a banana squash, with vegetarian stuffing between each layer. Are you here for this? Or is it food-sandwiching nonsense?

[Recipe by Dan Pashman via Slate]

03/28/2012

Dan Barber’s “return to the land” argument is weak and ridiculous, but not all wrong  »


Dan Barber courted some veg-rage back in December 2010 when he asserted that “You have blood on your hands when you eat vegetarian,” and last week Slate interviewed him about it. It’s on video, above, and watching it made me feel the same head-against-the-wall frustration that I do when Michael Pollan opens his yap to opine about how meat-abstainers are wrong, and eating animals is noble. Here are my responses to three of his particularly obnoxious points.

1. He points to the “iconic New England pasture that was built by the dairy industry” as a reason for keeping animals for food. What did the landscape look like before the dairy industry brought their milk-and-death business to the area, Dan? How did it look before the Industrial Revolution? How did it look before the Dutch and English and Spanish came and murdered all the native people? How did it look during Pangea?

2. He condemns a vegetable-based diet as much heavier in “food miles” than his local produce/animal product diet. Man, let’s address food deserts before you insist the nation go full locavore. Of course we should strive to eat more sustainably grown food! But when the choice is between dead cow from a feedlot and mixed vegetables from factory farms, choose the vegetables. They aren’t cutting down the rainforest to grow soybeans for my tofu, they’re doing it to feed the cows that the majority of the U.S. eats. Factory farms are bad for us ecologically, socially, ethically, morally—why go after the vegetarians when there is a much bigger bad to attack? I can’t tell if he’s advocating we all go full backyard chicken, or turn factory farms into small-scale, ecologically friendly farm collectives, or what.

3. The New England landscape “doesn’t want” you to grow vegetables, so that means it does want you to grow animals for killing? And oh no, Michael Pollan is worried about the extinction of farm animals? There is a major difference between “keeping some animals on your farm as farming tools” (eating grass, fertilizing with their waste, pest control) and “keeping animals en masse for slaughter.” You acknowledge that what you want is to “use the resources of animals on a farm in an intelligent way,” which is something I agree with—until you jump from keeping animals to eating them. Why? Isn’t barbarism like killing living creatures for our gustatory pleasure a thing of the past?

You know what? I do agree that vegetarians have blood on their hands. All the male chicks that are killed because they can’t produce eggs? All the male calves born to the perma-pregnant dairy cows, that are sent to veal farms? The treatment of the layer hens and dairy cows themelves? So much blood. That’s one of the reasons I observe a vegan diet: To keep the blood-as-byproduct off my hands.

[Please visit Adam Merberg’s Say what, Michael Pollan? blog for much more extensively documented reasons why this argument is nonsense.]

01/03/2012

Make this: Slate’s peanut butter hummus!  »


My ma sent me this recipe from Slate last week, all excited, and honestly, I was skeptical. Hummus with peanut butter? Nonsense.

But the author does make an excellent point about peanut butter being more affordable than tahini, and I also feel like smoked paprika is a genius ingredient from heaven, and beyond everything else hummus is way super-easy to make, so why not?

Results: Delicious, slightly pinkish-brownish, rich, creamy, tasty hummus. Highly recommended. You probably have all the ingredients right now! If you don’t have smoked paprika, get some immediately: It’s inexpensive and adds a dimension of taste to your foods you’ll hate yourself for missing.

Peanut butter hummus! It’s what’s for EVERY MEAL FOREVER.

[photo by Olga Vasiljeva via Flickr]

04/07/2010

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