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!
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.
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.
Veg Olympians have a fine history of athletic ass-kicking »
Are you guys watching the Olympics? This sports unenthusiast loves the Olympics, despite NBC’s U.S. ATHLETES OR GTFO approach to coverage.
My parents have super-cable, which means Olympics-viewing at their house is all-HD, with a heavy emphasis on cycling. Consequently, I saw Briton Lizzie Armistead win silver in the cycling road race on Sunday, which was tremendous. Then I read this Guardian article on veg Olympians, by Adharanand Finn, and found out that Armistead has been a vegetarian since age 10 and she became my total favorite.
The list is pretty great. Did you know that Australian swimmer Murray Rose was called “the Seaweed Streak” because of his diet? Finn says that Rose ate a vegan diet, but the delightful 1961 Sports Illustrated article he links to mentions Rose enjoying unpasteurized milk, but no other animal products.
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!]
You know super-runner Carl Lewis is a longtime vegan, right? Love this guy.
Athletics and a cruelty-free diet are an excellent match; just check out all the non-Olympic super-people going vegan! They are the mightiest, and we are proud of them. Learn more about veg Olympians through history at the Guardian.
[photo by anMarton via Flickr]
Dolphins are people too: Non-human persons and the right to live »
Apparently this science conference in Vancouver over the weekend was pretty interesting! They didn’t just talk about test tube burgers, they also talked about non-human persons! Man, what did I do this weekend? The only scientific advancement I made was in regard to my tolerance for rail vodka (but I assure you, we made great strides). Non-human persons are much more interesting. The idea is that there are animals with intelligence and consciousness that should grant them the right to life.
A group of scientists and ethicists made the case this past weekend for “the declaration of rights for cetaceans,” under which, dolphins, whales, and porpoises would have the enforceable right to live:
"We’re saying the science has shown that individuality, consciousness and self-awareness are no longer unique human properties. That poses all kinds of challenges," said Tom White, director of the Centre for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
"Dolphins are non-human persons. A person needs to be an individual. And if individuals count, then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being. The captivity of beings of this sort, particularly in conditions that would not allow for a decent life, is ethically unacceptable, and commercial whaling is ethically unacceptable," White said.
How interesting! Was this the idea behind Tilikum v. Seaworld? If the declaration were incorporated into law, Seaworld and the like would not be allowed to keep whales.
The declaration is backed by experts and relies on the massive amounts of research that has been done on cetaceans in the past. Dolphins are said to be able to identify themselves in a mirror, use symbol-based language, use tools, learn skills and pass them on, and have individual personalities. Does that grant them rights? The UN is considering the declaration as part of its convention on migratory species.
You really should read this Guardian piece on the whole thing as it has the most amazing stories about a rascally dolphin named Kelly who learned more and more ways to trick her captors into forking over more treats! Speaking of which, I’m working on my declaration of rights for rascals. Kelly would certainly be protected under the DRR. As would chimps, elephants, and Alan Thicke.
You can sign the declaration of rights for cetaceans here!
Top 10 links of the week!: A sleigh ride through the winter wonderland of veganism! »
[This silly cat vid was sent in by reader LC! Thanks, pal!]
Once again I have slept on links of the week so this collection spans a few weeks. Enjoy!
The Vegan Feminist Agitator has a love story for you!: I Killed Kale
From SuperVegan: Japan admits using tsunami disaster relief money to fund military actions against unarmed vegans. Holy. Crap.
We have a new vegan among us! Teri S. from Status Vegan! AND she would like our help! Do you have a really great recipe you want to share with her? I know you do! Head over to her blog and share it with her. Build the community!
From Grist: Happy Feet 2 is for communist vegetarians! So. True.
Was da Vinci an animal rights activist? God I hope so! The Guardian has the story.
Vegansaurus fave Jerry James Stone has a new blog on Animal Planet filled with pretty animal pictures! He’s also promised us a vegan wine post on his Treehugger Green Wine Guide so I’ll be sure to tell you guys when that’s out!
This link comes from my cousin Heather: A same-sex penguin couple in China has a new baby! Ah, babies. They are so in right now.
We have a Pinterest account! What up!
Our Hen House has a new Art of the Animal video! Check it out!
The Farm Sanctuary has two new babies! And they need your help! And they are cute!
Dinner never looked so cute: The friend/food dichotomy »
It’s lambing season apparently and the Guardian has the story in pictures. “Up to 300 ewes are lambing at Barracks Farm in Fetcham, Surrey. The farm is owned by the Conisbee family who supply their own butchers shops in nearby Horsley. The business has been run by generations of the family for more than 250 years.” I wonder what they used before spray-paint? I guess it’s better than branding. But most stuff is, eh?
These cute lambs numbered for death got me thinking and I’ll tell you: I don’t get people. How do they eat stuff like lamb? Everyone knows lamb are adorable fuzzy childhood delights! There are lots of things in the non-vegan world that have names that distance them from what they actually are. Like shearling—how the fuck do you know what shearling is? I mean you know what it is eventually but it’s not the same as “the skin of sheep ripped off with the fur attached.” But then there’s other words like, “calfskin” and I’m like WTF, calf…skin. Like, cute fuzzy baby skin. So gross! Who is like, “Calfskin? OMG, need!”
There has to be some serious damage that results in this transition where something like a lamb is loved and adored as a child and then eaten as an adult. That’s, like, sick. How many children’s stories center around cute little animal protagonists? You teach children to be gentle and loving through stories about sweet bunnies who preach tolerance and then you feed them bunnies! Wouldn’t you be raising a bunch of confused sociopaths? But wait! Enter modern society, where violence is entertainment! It’s probably all a person can do to make sense of this friend/dinner dichotomy; it’s like victims of violence who perpetuate that violence to try and make sense of it or normalize it. Essentially: you’re all fucked.
Interview with a Vegan: Joshua Katcher! »
Vegansaurus: Do you go by Josh or exclusively Joshua?
Joshua Katcher: I prefer Joshua, but I won’t have a complete meltdown if someone calls me Josh. I may cry for a few minutes and punch a hole in the wall, but then I’ll be totally fine. I’m pretty emotionally stable.
Why are you vegan?
Because it’s delicious, and because I think animals are individuals who deserve validation and consideration where their lives and bodies are at stake. But also because I hate freedom and I was hoping to be frail and ill—but that backfired and I’m really healthy and athletic now.
How long have you been vegan?
There was no exact date—it was a transition—but about 12 or 13 years, I think.
I am completely FASCINATED by parasitic intelligence. But as far as animals that I want to hang with, and cuddle. Dogs and goats. And cows. And pigs. Turkeys are like cats! Oy vey, this is impossible to answer.
Got any companion animals? Pictures!
Enzo is a rescued chihuahua. His nicknames are: Enzo Benzo, Enzo Roni, Reno Roni, Monster, Burrito, Little Man. There are more, but my sanity would be called into question. He didn’t bark or play or have any interest in other dogs for almost two years, but he is finally coming out of his shell, and recovering from the three years of abuse/neglect he experienced. He was rescued by Amy from sugarmutts.org.
[OMJesus this picture!]
Dr. Cow's hemp-nut cashew cheese.
Favorite vegan restaurant?
I still swoon over Candle 79’s seitan, but the bacon cheeseburger at Blossom Cafe is habit-forming, and the beet tartar at Madeline’s Bistro is worth flying to L.A. to have. I am such a foodie, it’s hard to choose favorites. Sometimes a bowl of steamed kale is the best thing in the world, and other times a Vegan Treats chocolate-covered strawberry shortcake hits the spot.
Vegan celebrity you want to bang?
All of them. At once.
Yes. Sorry, haters.
Do you remember when we met at Lula’s? Was it as awesome for you as it was for me?
I have been recovering ever since.
What’s your favorite thing to get at Lula’s?
I keep it simple at Lula’s: I really like a scoop of strawberry ice cream on a sugar cone. When feeling adventurous, I am obsessed with the malt powder or a malted milkshake—and the coconut whipped cream is better than I remember whipped cow-tit secretions being. I have a gym membership for a reason.
What do you like about fashion? How do you know all about it?
I like fashion because I am gay and I love being a stereotype. Ha ha. In all honesty, fashion is an incredibly powerful form of visual communication. It is the premiere means by which the majority of people in our current culture express their personal identity. We all participate in that discourse, whether we like it or not. Even if we reject the notion of fashion all-together, our culture is dominated by this visual language. There is a lot of power to be had or lost in dress, and if you know how to communicate that power properly, it have have amazing effects—especially if you are someone who wants to change the world. Additionally, if you know how to decode what others are wearing—a fur coat for example, it makes understanding the issues surrounding everything from animal cruelty in fashion to sweatshops and ecological issues, less overwhelming.
Favorite vegan designer?
I am really inspired by the strides John Bartlett is making, announcing “I want to be a 100-percent-vegan designer.” He is a personal friend, and a powerhouse in the fashion arena.
Favorite vegan accessory/possession?
There are a few. I got a recycled poly suit from CPas, a vegan biker “Decontrol” jacket from April77, black “milo” boots from NOVACAS, the gray “Vintage Boot” from Vegetarian Shoes, and an awesome men’s peacoat from Vaute Couture.
Why’d you start The Discerning Brute?
I started the Discerning Brute several years ago because no one was really providing a lifestyle resource specifically for “ethically handsome men.” From the beginning, my aim was to slowly compile a catalog of brands, companies, resources, and people that would form a community, and to eventually open a store, launch a suit line, and write a book. These are all underway.
Who does the illustrative design-y stuff for your site? I’m into it.
Thanks! I did the layout and graphic design myself, and the actual art I used in the design is from an 18th century illustrator.
[Katcher and Anna Wintour look-alike outside the Conde Nast building for the Pinnacle launch!]
What’s Pinnacle all about?
JK: PINNACLE: Reinvent The Icon is an image-driven initiative consisting of fashion industry professionals from all areas of fashion culture who are clarifying the changed meaning of fur within the context of our current culture.
Pinnacle produces editorial stories, and works with informed designers, models, and other professionals to create accessories and various forms of visual art consistent with an interest in:
- Providing critical commentary about animal fur
- Exposing aspects of fur production and marketing which are intentionally hidden or obscured
- Shifting the outdated, whitewashed and greenwashed attitude toward, and meaning of fur garments
- Calling for personal and corporate accountability concerning the cruelty inherent in all fur production
What’s next for Pinnacle?
I have been touring a bit with my “Fashion & Animals” talk, and I plan on speaking at Parsons, FIT, and San Francisco, soon. I was also asked to teach a module at the American University of Paris next spring on the topic, which is exciting. Getting more designers, models, photographers, etc. involved and producing more and more fashion content. Also, a huge priority for us is expanding to China because that is the fur capital of the world, and there are no regulations to protect animals. There is more animal cruelty in China than the rest of the world combined, and they are the largest exporter of fur—and that includes cat and dog fur. Because China is a communist country, if you can convince the government to stop something, it will be done overnight, more or less. We need to reach the Chinese government with a message of being heroes for animals in an appealing way. The Compassion For Animals Foundation is doing amazing work in China.
Is it true you’re trying to take over the world?
Well, the short answer is yes. But, since I have a bone to pick (hey vegan police, is it vegan to say that?) with hierarchical power structures, that poses a dilemma. I plan to change the world, but a take over seems so…egotistical.
First of all, the Guardian rules. Second of all, how do you feel about being “the new sexy vegan?”
I was so honored, and shocked. Growing up, I was always a totally shy, unpopular, comic-book-reading geek who got picked on pretty bad. So it’s quite strange to be considered “sexy” by someone. I’m learning to embrace it though, and use it to help animals.
Do you have any amazing nicknames I should know about?
My nickname in junior high was “fag” so you can try that. Or you can call me Yahoshua Ruvin. That’s my super-cool Hebrew name. Don’t be jealous.
Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
I’m not sure I have room for a dinosaur in my apartment, but I’d be happy to come to one of your places and cook together! That would be fun. We can make sawdust and gravel and grass clippings, since that’s what vegans eat.
Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
What would the Vegansauraus dudes like to see happen on the DB, and what would you like to see for sale at my forthcoming store, BraveGentleMan.com? Do any readers have men’s lifestyle questions for me?
Vegansaurus men, let’s hear it! Just what does the Vegansaurus Man of today want?
Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday! »
Several years ago I was very lonely. I was working full-time in a video store and had very few career aspirations; I had just ended a spectacular stint of dating with someone who was awesome and attractive but with whom I had very little in common; and when I wasn’t yelling at people to put their returns on the goddamned shelf of the counter that said “RETURNS” in large capital letters I was crying and playing video games. That’s when my friend Pali (who runs Rocket Dog Rescue) called and asked if I might like to adopt a pet.
"We’ve got a lot of hamsters here." she said.
"I have now had several hamsters," I replied. "I would like to move up in the world."
"What were you thinking of?" she asked.
“A rabbit. A big one.”
"There are plenty of those," she said. "Get down here before six o’clock."
I jumped into a cab to the SF SPCA immediately, and within the hour returned home with a giant black bunny whom I respectfully named Ms. Cleo. This is a good story, but it gets better. Let me tell you something about bunnies: they poop. A lot. And chew. They chew everything. Oh, and they live forever! Had I had my degree in psychology already, I would have understood that I was transferring my desire for a ”good object” (read: a boyfriend) onto a furry animal of the wrong sex and expecting too much out of her. In time, Ms. Cleo and I came to love each other very much, and frequently hung out on my bed watching television and eating celery and pellets. However, I must stress that rabbits—and all animals, while we’re at it—are a big commitment; you really need to decide whether you’re ready to have all of your cables/clothes/bed frames chewed and pooped upon before you decide that you can adopt one. I remember (before my stint at In Defense of Animals, of course) how horrified I was to read that a tradition of the Hilton family—the Paris Hiltons—was to buy up a whole bunch of rabbits and chicks on Easter, and then give them away after the holiday was over and their cuteness had worn off (Source: Paris Hilton’s wonderful Confessions of an Heiress, which I totally own!). I also thought that this must be a very isolated thing and that most people don’t treat animals this way. Au contraire, mon frère: people are fucking ridiculous.
First, STOP GIVING ANIMALS AS PRESENTS!!! Remember the stuff I wrote before about Rabbits being a huge commitment? Yeah, that doesn’t change just because it’s their year! This seems pretty obvious to me, but in China rabbits are multiplying like crazy and wreaking havoc. Here’s what happens: Someone gets a rabbit for the New Year, they get all excited, buy a cage, and think “awesome! Now I have a friend!” Then the rabbit chews up everything and sometimes scratch. In the case of one woman, the rabbit, while adorable, chewed through every cable in the house and ate her resume to boot! Not such an awesome gift anymore, right? You know, especially since she didn’t even ask for or think of taking care of a rabbit. And you know what else? If you don’t have them fixed, rabbits will breed, leaving you with a whole bunch of offspring to deal with. Of course, some people step up to the task, but others are giving up very quickly ensuring that shelters and rabbit rescues are overflowing with rabbits whose only crime was being an animal on the Chinese Zodiac. And being criminally adorable, but that’s another story.
Second, STOP SENDING ANIMALS IN THE MAIL! Again, this is something I thought would be both common knowledge and common sense. For example, “Man, I need to return these awesome Bones DVDs to Netflix and this copy of “Band Hero” to Gamefly. OH SHIT! I forgot that I have to get John’s dog back to him tomorrow when he gets back from vacation. Hmmm, maybe I should just box and mail him as well. That way, John and the dog both arrive tomorrow and I can watch some more television instead of taking care of responsibilities—nah, too dangerous!” Don’t you wish everyone thought like that? Me too! Except people don’t! They send puppies priority mail in airless boxes with the added bonus of no food and/or water! Why? No idea! Perhaps the woman who did this thought it might be cheaper or easier to send a puppy this way. She actually went back for a refund of her money after being charged with animal cruelty! I cannot believe she did not know that mailing puppies is not the preferred way to get animals to their destination. She’s now trying to get the dog back, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon—or at all, if everyone involved is lucky.
God, seriously, let’s look at something happy for a second before my mind explodes into a giant volcano of rage and sadness. What have you got fur us today, internets? OH MY GOD, a cross-eyed opossum, you say? That can’t be! and yet! And here’s the story of Heidi the cross-eyed opossum’s rise to fame.
All better! send me links for next week and have a safe Wednesday out there!
The “Why I Stopped Being a Vegetarian” article in The Guardian: Lady, you’re an IDIOT. »
I’m not going to even dignify this with a real response because goddamn, what a fucking idiot. I will simply copy and paste our rebuttal to the Mother Jones piece that we published earlier this month because it pretty much sums up how pathetic this woman is:
The Guardian published an interview with Jenna Woginrich, a former vegetarian who started raising and killing animals so she could justify eating them. Woginrich was vegetarian until, she says, she realized that:
One way to make sure the animals I ate lived a happy, respectable life was to raise them myself. I would learn to butcher a free-range chicken, raise a pig without antibiotics and rear lambs on green hillside pastures. I would come back to meat eating, and I would do it because of my love for animals.
She actually wrote that, that the way to love something is to kill it and eat it. She got waaaaaay into “sustainable” meat and thought, Oh, snap! I better start a farm where I raise and kill animals because that’s the way to teach everyone about sustainable dining—SLOW FOOD FOREVA! She’s obviously not the brightest bulb, but there are thousands of dumb-ass Slow Foodies who think the way to feed the world is through reducing meat consumption, and when it comes to their own diets there’s not a veg item in sight. You see, they mean “reducing the meat consumption for everyone else.” Lead by example? That’s asinine!
It’s like the problem with Michael Pollan’s elitism: these Slow Food dummies are so intent on showing the world that there’s “sustainable meat” (a whopping fewer-than-1 percent of it!) that they ignore the much larger, more important lesson: WE ALL NEED TO EAT LESS MEAT. Well, not us vegans, but you know, the rest of you fuckers. The constant message the world needs to hear from the Slow Food movement is EAT LESS MEAT. Then, if they want to get into where the meat that people “should” eat comes from, fine. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. Global meat consumption has increased 500 percent since 1950 and people who care about sustainable dining should (one more time with feeling): EAT FEWER DEAD ANIMALS.
Jenna Woginrich, you ma’am, are a straight-up nincompoop. You’re doing the exact opposite of what you think you’re doing and you’re being so ridiculously vocal about it that it’s hurting the cause at an even larger scale. Just go hide your shameful face in a corner while you butcher the pigs who grew to trust you, and then sell their carcasses to extremely rich people so you can all feel better about eating dead animals. I hope all her friends read that and are running in the other direction. You know what they say: lay down with Jenna tonight and you’re gonna end up in her stir-fry tomorrow! Way to rock the system! I know Slow Food people are our supposedly vegan “allies,” but they could be less hypocritical about animal-eating issues.
And just because I love it so much and I need something to counteract the negativity of this piece, here is a picture of BABY OWL cuddling a STUFFED OWL TOY. What?! I can’t even directly look at this picture because my heart will explode IT IS TOO MUCH.
[photo via Ladyxo]
Neanderthals totally dug on veggies, yo! »
That’s right! Scientists discovered traces of veggies, legumes and grains in the teeth of some Neanderthal specimens. More interesting, in my opinion, is that there’s evidence some of the food was cooked. See, previously, scientists thought Neanderthals exclusively ate meat, based on the amount of protein in their bones—we all know you can ONLY get protein from meat. Or the wacky idea that their bodies might have processed nutrients differently than ours? But whatevs, now we know they ate plants too.
Considering that early humans were hunter-gatherers (possibly even hunter-scavengers), and up to 80 percent of the hunter-gatherer diet comes from the gathering, it doesn’t surprise me that Neanderthals ate plants. It’s up for debate, but there’s evidence that humans and Neanderthals were living on earth at the same time;* what’s more, earlier this year scientists found evidence that Neanderthals and humans interbred. At the very least, Neanderthals could have observed the diet practiced by humans and followed suit. Then again, they could have discovered plant food-sources all on their own. I mean if you’re hungry, you’re going to try to eat whatever you may find around you. If it tastes alright and doesn’t kill you, you might eat it again. Other apes were able to discover the joy of veggies, why not Neanderthals too?
I’m more interested in how they cooked—that’s totally news to me. Dolores Piperno, who led the study, explains, “the evidence for cooking is strong. The starch grains are gelatinized, and that can only come from heat associated with cooking.” Fascinating! We all know how humans discovered fire: Prometheus! Did he totally bless the Neanderthals with fire as well?
The study also has implications on why Neanderthals went extinct and we didn’t. One theory was that they went extinct because animals they ate, like the wooly mammoth, went extinct and so they had nothing to eat; the news that they had more sophisticated and diverse diets puts an end to that. Poor scientists! I like the theory I learned in college: humans totally forced Neanderthals into oblivion! It reinforces my opinion that humans are a bunch of jerks.
*I majored in anthropology in college, where they taught us that Neanderthals definitely existed at the same time as humans but I guess not everyone believes that. This is the annoying part of anthropology; people are like, “this happened and this happened,” and then they’re always like, “OR, they didn’t!”
Charlie Brooker’s modest proposal »
Charlie Brooker has something to say about our attitude toward food and its presentation. As a satirical genius, he uses the porniest, most revolting writing possible to address it. Here he describes the experience of eating the titular item at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which is a sort of “upmarket fast-food chain.”
You’ve got two options: tackle it with a knife and fork (the coward’s way out), or dislocate your jaw in the manner of a boa constrictor swallowing a foal, and heave it into your gullet, driving it home like a Victorian taskmaster pushing a buttered eight-year-old into a narrow chimney flue[.]
Order chips, incidentally, and your burger will be accompanied by a generous helping of deep-fried slabs the size and weight of piano keys. Eat there at lunchtime and you’ll spend the rest of the day feeling as if you’re incubating an immense, spherical beef-baby. And caesarean delivery sadly isn’t an option. Before bedtime, you’ll understand how it might feel to give birth to a banister.
What, he asks, makes eating this, with nearly twice the calories of a Big Mac, more socially acceptable than eating a Big Mac?
It seems the key to nurturing a successful chain of fast-food restaurants in modern Britain is to provide a less reprehensible version of something popular…while still enabling your customers to indulge in potentially ruinous gluttony.
I don’t think that that is exclusively a British solution. Isn’t In-N-Out the respectable person’s “drive-thru” burger? Or places like Fuddruckers, Five Guys, and Steak ‘n Shake? Fundamentally, they are McDonald’s: a place to get a quick, “American” meal. You’re still eating nightmare-food, it just comes in nicer packaging.
Charlie Brooker, however, because he is clever and disgusting, has a genius idea for environmentally friendly breakfast cafes: if you want bacon and sausage, cut the meat off your own body. It’s not nearly as offensive as the original Modest Proposal, as you’d only be eating yourself; it’d be vegan-friendly, for those of us who don’t feel as animal-rightsy as the rest of the group. You might even be able to use the lost blood to make black pudding, he says.
There’s something more to that idea—beyond the self-cannibalization joke: You can have as much meat as you can want, so long as you’re willing to give of your own life to get it. What would that mean if it were true? Right now, eating meat robs the future to reward the present; people in wealthy countries won’t feel the effects of their choices for some time—less the occasional terrifying food recall—but less developed nations have to make immediately felt compromises to support a meat industry; and some countries, like Tuvalu, could disappear under the ocean because of global warming.
That raises the question again: what price meat? If people continue eating it despite the horrific treatment of animals on massive factory farms; despite the human health risks posed by those farms; despite the destruction of land, including rainforest, not only to raise cows but to grow soybeans and corn to feed those cows—if they still want to indulge in tasty flesh, let them eat their own. Then maybe they’ll see it as valuable, instead of the commonplace junk they take for granted now.
Plus, you’ll be able to tell the vegans by how fat and happy we’ll be.