American diet even sadder than previously thought »
While the vegan community continues to grow and thrive, it turns out that statistically, Americans in general are still making astonishingly poor food choices.
Though the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines actually features a dash of helpful information and a pinch of worthy advice—such as suggestions to avoid sodium and refined grains—it also includes some pretty scary statistics.
In a chart on page 12 called Top 25 Sources of Calories Among Americans Ages 2 Years and Older, we learn what Americans are really made of. And it’s not looking good.
The top 10 for people over 19:
- Grain-based desserts (“cake, cookies, pie, cobbler, sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts”)
- Yeast breads
- Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
- Soda/energy/sports drinks
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tortillas, burritos, tacos
- Pasta and pasta dishes
- Beef and beef mixed dishes
- Dairy desserts
And if that’s not alarming enough, the top 10 for ages two through 18 are:
- Grain-based desserts
- Soda/energy/sports drinks
- Yeast breads
- Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
- Pasta and pasta dishes
- Reduced-fat milk
- Dairy desserts
- Potato/corn/other chips
- Ready-to-eat cereals
You read right: The American population is currently made up of glazed donuts, fried chicken, and Red Bull. What’s worse, fruits and vegetables don’t even make the top 25, unless you count “fried white potatoes,” and you’d better not count that.
I don’t know about y’all… but I’m pretty sure it’s about time to stage a Nationwide Kale Intervention!
[Photo by Kori Ellis via She Knows]
Four dead in Japan thanks to E. coli »
Super shitty news out of Japan: Four people are dead and at least 56 are sick—after eating raw beef at a popular chain barbecue restaurant in Tonami in Toyama Prefecture. Totally fucking awful.
What’s really scary about this (besides EVERYTHING) is that we’re discovering more and more variations of E. coli that are super crazy dangerous. Before there was just O157:H7 to worry about, and now there are at least six more types of E. coli. Shudder. I’m telling you, we’re gonna see more and more horrific stuff like this happening.
In extra-super-disturbing news, many of these E. coli variations aren’t even looked for in labs, so there’s a chance that even the most stringently tested dead cow (that’s like 1 percent anyway) is gonna be teaming with all sorts of delicious E. coli that nobody ever even looked for. Hide your kids, hide your wife. Or you know, stop eating that (literal) shit because it ain’t safe.
Gross meat germs cost us billions in healthcare dollars annually! »
I get a lot of questions about being vegan:
Q. Do you actually like tofu?
Q. Don’t you miss steak?
Q. How did you get to be so beautiful?
A: I’ll never tell.
One of the most irritating questions is, “Isn’t veganism crazy expensive?” and I’m all, “How much did that carton of free-range eggs cost you?” Now science can back me up: Some study ranked pathogens found in food according to how much they cost society, and more than half, including the top three, are found in meat products.
Guess what was at the very tip-top? A food contaminant called Campylobacter, which is found in the nastiest of factory-farmed products: chicken! Campy, as it shall be affectionately known henceforth, sickens 600,000 people and costs society $1.3 billion per year in terms of medical care, missed work, chronic health problems, and even death. DEATH, Y’ALL. Could this all be fixed, as the article suggests, by overhauling the USDA? Probably not—they be in the pockets of the meat and dairy industry, yo!
In conclusion, while veganism might sometimes cost me slightly more money right off the bat (assuming I choose to eat exclusively processed faux meat products) than eating burgers and chili dogs, it saves me AND society money in the long run!
Oatmeal, obese monkeys, and breast-milk ice cream in this week’s link-o-rama! »
First, and most important! IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! Happy birthday TO ME! You can thank my parents for their gift to the world.
[Latest documentary/cartoon from Cats Vs Human. What if I just call cartoons “documentaries” from now on? And phone calls will be “radio interviews”!]
They are selling breast-milk ice cream in London. BREAST-MILK ICE CREAM. While I’d rather die than eat breast-milk ice cream (right now I’d rather die than move, though), I’m in full support of this because it’s hilarious and brightens my world. Well Ok, I think maybe I’d try breast-milk ice cream for like $20,000. But is it going to pull in weird fetishists? Survey says: Probs.
Hey! Did you know that the SF SPCA appointed new presidents last month? Yes, more than one president! Two presidents—they’re calling it Four-Legged Leadership! One a super-savvy business man and the other a genius veterinarian.
Jerk scientists are getting poor monkeys fat and not letting them exercise, because we definitely can’t find any people like that to test on. The New York Times will tell you all about it!
PCRM is suing the federal government because the new nutrition guidelines are crap! They don’t like the “doublespeak” and “mumbo jumbo” the USDA uses when it should be calling out meat and dairy. I have a bone to pick with them too! Three servings of dairy, really? REALLY? CRAP!
UNC and Duke have picked Eating Animals as their summer reading requirement! I was supposed to read the biography of George Washington. Definitely did that.
From Mark Bittman, we have the most in-depth discussion of oatmeal I’ve ever seen! Specifically, oatmeal from McDonald’s: “Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)” Yowza!
Do you have a vegan tattoo? A tattoo with vegan subject matter? Super! Submit it to new website veganink.com and let’s get this party started!
Over at veganbaking.net, you can read an interview with Cinnaholic’s Shannon Michelle! Read all about how Cinnaholic came together and get advice for your own vegan baking biz! Can we all agree that Shannon Michelle is dead-sexy?!
The veggie internet has been a buzz about this story from Yahoo sports: Vegetarianism is all the rage in MMA! That’s ultimate fighting. It’s a sport. I guess.
There was a big earthquake in New Zealand! The Search Dog Foundation is on the case! New Zealand has its own dogs but the SDF’s training leader is going over to help with the search and rescue. We wish them the best of luck! Be safe and save people!
Lastly, don’t forget about the East Bay Vegan Bakesale tomorrow! Get treats, get pudgy!
Hello, Friends! It’s WTF Wednesday! »
You guys, today is the first day of my last semester of grad school [Ed.: Congrats, Mark!]. I’ve been so nervous about finishing my master’s paper before May, I probably gave myself another ulcer during winter break (which is no break at all because internships do not take a month off! How happy I was as an undergrad!). This is not to say I worked on the paper at all, I just worried about it. Because that’s what I do. I worry. And I don’t just worry about my paper. I worry about everything. Like what if there’s a giant earthquake while I’m sleeping and I have to jump out a window (I don’t know why I’d have to jump out a window, I just would)? Or what if I accidentally (or not accidentally, people are assholes) get run over by a car when I’m crossing the street? And then I worry about the bad shit that happens to animals, because a lot of bad shit happens to animals.
Sometimes, though, animals get the upper hand. For instance, in Belarus, known for its delicious potato recipes (potato pancakes, even better without eggs), as well as its plentitude of beautiful outdoor places to kill animals, a fox shot a hunter. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), the fox did not kill the hunter (because animals are hella cool like that), and so now he can spend the rest of his life talking about how awesome foxes are. Or, uh, apologizing for trying to beat this particular fox to death with the butt of his weapon after the fox didn’t die from the bullets the hunter shot at him/her. Th glorious and very smart fox escaped and is hopefully doing well, although I’m worried that the bullet wounds may prove fatal (as bullet wounds so often are). Let’s hope the hunter holds up his half of the bargain I just created for him. If he doesn’t take being shot by his prey as a wake-up call that he’s doing some heinous shit, perhaps it’s better if he exits the gene pool as quickly and gracefully as possible.
Tim (who is quickly becoming my favorite reader ever because A. he’s sent me two links already and B. my affection is won easily) sent me this delightful story about the U.S. Government poisoning birds. You would think the US government would have better things to do (LGBT rights, women’s rights, prison reform, make sure we’re all now owned by China tomorrow) but NO, they’re far too busy to deal with any major issues because they’re creating poison bait to murder birds who poop too much and too indiscriminately. 200 Starlings are dead as a result of the USDA’s decision that killing these birds would be the best way to stop them from defecating in a feedlot. Fortunately, the USDA also released a statement proclaiming that the now dead birds do not pose a threat to humans or animals. Because they can no longer expel excrement. This is a real thing. Also: I don’t know where you guys come from, but I come from Moldova*, and in Moldova when a bird pooped on you, we called it a present and took it as a good omen. To my knowledge, we did not poison the bird. Moldova was, at one time, named the world’s unhappiest country. If the world’s unhappiest country can welcome bird poop, we should at least be able to tolerate it without resorting to murder in America. Meave wrote more on this issue and I implore you to read it immediately and then get really, really pissed and hope all the birds go Hitchcock** on our asses. And I’m not talking about his signature lighting techniques!
I wonder what the USDA thinks about people eating fungus-encrusted silk worms in order to get their groove back? This delicious/disGARsting treat is referred to as “The Himalayan Viagra” and while it does not have an immediate effect (to which I say, what’s the point?), if you put it on your waffles or grate it into your bottle of Parma (OMG PARMA! I ATE A WHOLE BOTTLE OF IT IN ONE SITTING LAST WEEK!) and eat it for a couple of days, it is going to (allegedly) make you hornier than an, I don’t know, Horny Goat Weed (warning: vegan??). Allegedly, this is a trend in New York and people are paying hundreds of dollars for an ounce of these worms. The worms have also caused controversy because it’s not possible to tell if they work (duh) and because the people who collect them have been bludgeoning each other to death over control of the worms. This is not only disgusting and sad, but probably incredibly unsanitary. These are dead worms covered in fungus. Also: we have Viagra now and I hear it’s cheaper. Even if you don’t have insurance. Why not try some of that? No shame! Or, some shame, but it’s cool.
Please send me, your friend Mark, links for next week and have a safe and happy Wednesday. If you’re starting school today, I wish you godspeed and good luck!
*Moldova is basically like Kazakhstan but less charming. Laura wrote that.
**Or perhaps, Birdemic!
Bird deaths caused by avicide in USDA “shocker” »
It’s just that the starlings in South Dakota “were defecating on a farmer’s cattle feed across the state line in Nebraska,” and whoops, they dropped dead in midair, inconveniently missing the state whose resident had put a contract out on their lives altogether. Funny how that works.
This is part of an ongoing program called “Bye Bye Blackbird”—cleverly titled by some USDA employee in the ’60s—that exists solely for the “eradication” (read: MURDER) of birds that have become pests. Sorry, endangered species, but the poisons used to kill all your avian pals don’t differentiate between “good” birds and “bad” ones, so the rusty blackbird is dying alongside “pests” like those cow-feed-ruining starlings, grackles, cowbirds, and red-winged blackbirds. Whoops, again! But if the dang birds aren’t pooping everywhere they’re eating up all the feed for the cows we people need to kill to feed our gaping maws, so someone has to suffer. I know, I know—hungry birds? in the winter? Knock me over with a feather. Too bad they won’t just quietly hide away and starve to death, like nice homeless people. Thousands of birds falling dead from the sky is just so—creepy. I mean, it’s not like the USDA is going to stop using avicides, or cattle farmers won’t contract out the totally necessary bird-killing to professional murderers. Goodness.
The necessity of animal testing: a rebuttal »
When I wrote about the terrible experiments scientists are conducting at the University of Texas, someone reblogged it with a lot to say. Here’s the final paragraph:
“REALLY want to protest animal testing? Walk away from the next antibiotic your doctor prescribes, turn down the next necessary surgery you are recommended, and hope you’re never hospitalized. I can assure you that each and every one of the medications and procedures that you come across has been tested on animals, using the most extreme conditions that could possibly be encountered in real practice.”
Do you know why this is bullshit? Benefiting from things we learned in past experiments that we now consider ethically wrong does not mean we should support ethically wrong experiments or continue them in the future. There are all kinds of experiments that went on in the past that are now considered immoral—experiments on PEOPLE—and we’ve learned a lot from them. Think about the Tuskegee syphilis experiments; they were despicable and I hope we never, ever see anything like that again, but we benefitted from the knowledge we gained from them.
Even in psychology—the Milgram experiment? They teach that in every psych class and it’s pretty messed up. And don’t get me started on the Stanford prison experiment and its lasting effects on participants. That inspired new standards of ethics, and now would be considered officially unethical. We also learned a lot from that study, and it is frequently discussed in classrooms.
Peta is also trying to get the president of U.T. to investigate the experiments because they may be illegally abusive to animals. That’s the greater point to many of these cases Peta takes on: the research labs are performing animal experiments beyond what is allowed. Even if you are pro-animal testing, you still have to follow the rules. For example, after a Peta investigation, University of Utah was investigated by the USDA and cited for nine violations under the federal animal protection laws.
Saying “Medical research mostly deserves to be left alone” is cruelly short-sighted. Animal testing should be illegal, but in the meantime it must be closely monitored to make sure the testers are abiding by the law; clearly they can’t be relied upon to do so on their own. If a lab conducts illegal experiments, it should be shut down. Try to find some legal tests to get behind, if you are going to support animal testing.
We have knowledge from unethical—and now illegal—experiments, and that knowledge is valuable. We can’t pretend certain information doesn’t exist when it does. We also can’t condone these experiments and can’t continue them. If we know an antibiotic can cure an illness because that medicine was initially tested on non-consenting humans, do we pretend we don’t know the antibiotic is effective? No. Can we still condemn these experiments? Yes. Do we fight to make sure they never happen again? Yes. The same can be said if the non-consenting subjects were animals. Benefitting from knowledge derived from morally reprehensible experiments doesn’t mean we have to condone them and it doesn’t mean we should continue to practice them in the future.
University of Texas is torturing animals: how you can help! »
Peta, everyone’s favorite, just exposed the disgusting treatment of animals in the University of Texas labs. It’s REALLY disturbing: they are giving sheep spinal cord injuries, burning pigs’ skin with Bunsen burners, and cutting up dogs’ colons. USEFUL and HELPFUL, for sure.
It takes one minute to email the university president with Peta’s email form. Peta has filed a complaint with the USDA. We’ll see what happens, but in the meantime please take a moment to email UT.
[Images from Peta.org]
Poor ol’ Rawesome, the members-only raw food club. Everything they sell is raw! But the government HATES THEM, because…dairy? The government is anti-raw dairy products? The government tends to go overboard with its responses to alternative foods clubs? Maybe it’s the long arm of Dairy Management—those guys do not fuck around.
On the other hand, some of the things these raw-milk enthusiasts say is priceless.
“It’s how nature provides the food without man becoming involved with, uh, pasteurization, homogenization, processing of any kind.”
“Rawesome had a real, desperate need for raw goat milk, and we progressed in building our own dairy and raising our own goats.”
Yes, guys. “Nature” provided you with the milk. Nature in the form of cows and goats that were never consulted about the situation. And unless they spontaneously excrete their milk into buckets, “man” has to be involved in the process. Oh dear. A “desperate need” for goat’s milk! What does that look like? Do you get the shakes if you don’t get your fix? Leave you curled in a ball on the floor, immobile and ashen-faced, until someone can place a few precious drops of god’s own ambrosia—sorry, “rawmbrosia”—on your parched tongue?
Obviously, shut up, government oversight agencies; try looking into Big Ag before raiding tiny private raw food clubs. But also, shut up raw-animal-products evangelists. You guys sound just as ridiculous as every other evangelizing raw foodist,* except you also claim that raw dairy is better because it’s straight from the animal, as though that mitigates the from-the-animal part. Your high horse: please, come off it.
*Excluding our Sarah E. Brown, as we suspect her of having a secret crazy side.
[video link via eater national]
Wherever you are, your government hates you »
Not a joke. In England, after slashing health and welfare benefits, the new government is writing policy on “obesity, alcohol, and diet-related disease”; namely, “an overhaul of public health.” To advise them, the government has asked experts in different areas of obesity, alcohol, and diet-related disease, including: Cancer Research U.K.; the Faculty of Public Health; the CEO (Jeremy Beadles) of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association; Diageo; Unilever; Mars; Kellogg’s; PepsiCo; KFC; and McDonald’s. British public health policy: it’s just like ours! Which is to say, the mighty businesses get to strike all the legislation they don’t like, work in sneaky little loopholes so they can continue to sell their demon “food” unfettered by silly regulations, and do it with the approval of the government AND public health advocacy groups! Win-win-win, suckers!
Currently 30 percent of North Korean residents are “substantially undernourished,” but every single country save China and South Korea does not want to donate food because the PRK’s government is all nuked up. AHAHA sorry fellow human beings; your government eats up all your food and hordes money you will never see, makes selling or trading your own food illegal, and refuses to shut down its nuclear program despite 30 percent of you already starving! And not one wealthy country that could give you food or the supplies to grow your own will, because we’re all playing a game of nuclear-chicken with your dictator-leader! I guess you’ll just have to rely on the underfunded U.N. World Food Program.
Those lovely reuseable plastic-composite shopping bags all the grocery and drugstores sell now? Some of them are full of lead. YES. Thanks for the Q.C., government! Glad you’re looking out for us as we try to avoid using terrible animal-murdering never-decomposing plastic bags! Solution: canvas. Just use bags made of recycled canvas and you and the environment and the cotton-harvesters will be all right.
And here are your FDA recalls from last week (Nov. 9 to 13)! As the majority of these are non-vegan, maybe let your meat- and cheese-eating pals know about them. And sleep well at night knowing how much lower your risk of bacterial illness is.
- Orval Kent company recalled 23 products (listed here) containing cilantro that might have been contaminated with—Salmonella! These products were distributed nationwide.
- Whoa, do not buy any Mauri Gorgonzola cheese, vegetarians and/or omnivores! Any of this cheese with a sell-by date between Jan. 1 through 27 came from a lot that tested positive for E. coli! If you already have some, “return the cheese to the place of purchase or dispose of it in a closed plastic bag and place in a sealed trash can to prevent people or animals, including wild animals, from eating it.” Here’s the best part: it didn’t get tested until after a bunch of people got E. coli O157:H7 poisoning after an October “Cheese Road Show” at Costco stores in Colorado. Now, the Mauri Gorgonzola tested positive for a different strain of E. coli—i.e., not the one that sickened the Cheese Road Show samplers—but considering IT’S STILL E. COLI, don’t eat it.
- Oh look! A different company, Bravo Farms, has a Dutch-style Gouda cheese that ALSO “may have” tested positive (?) for E. coli O157:H7, just like the Gorgonzola!, and even better, this cheese is sold at Costco stores in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Southern California, as well as non-Costco California retail stores! Honestly, just stay the hell away from cheese, everyone.
- One more for the road: Three types of New Braunfels Smokehouse brand smoked, ready-to-eat turkey breast—2,609 pounds!—are being recalled because they may be contaminated with Listeria, the cleanest-sounding bacteria.
Thanks for strictly enforcing those safety standards, FDA! Man it is great to live in a country whose government cares so much about its citizens’ health and safety.