vegansaurus!

08/01/2012

Discussion topic: New poll shows vegans and vegetarians are still a national minority  »

Quality human Cord Jefferson wrote about the results of this Gallup poll for The Nation, conducted from July 9 to 12 of this year, on Americans who self-identify as vegetarians. Of the 1,014 people age 18 and over polled, not very many people self-identified as “vegetarian.”

Some of our assumptions are correct: It’s a liberal, single ladies’ game, the abstention from meat. But beyond that, I’m surprised: More older people than younger; less educated people than more. Weird, right?

And what about the vegans?
 

That 7 percent gap is a curious thing. Gallup says that those respondents “did not have an opinion” when asked if they were vegan. Are they they Mark Bittman, part-time vegans? Did they not understand the question?

I immediately wanted to know how the vegans responded to the vegetarian question; Gallup explains:

Vegans apparently view themselves as different from, rather than a subset of, vegetarians; most of the small number of respondents in the survey who said “yes” to the vegan question had said “no” to the vegetarian question.

Overall, Gallup’s stats look like this:

But if vegans are not calling themselves vegetarians, can we add the vegans to the vegetarians to get a 7 percent total of American adults who at least don’t eat meat? No; for starters, Gallup didn’t define “vegetarian” or “vegan” for this survey, so this could include, ugh, pescatarians, or other not-actually vegetarian “vegetarians.”

Jefferson concludes that

The new thing is to allow yourself to eat meat, but to make sure that it’s meat that is hormone free and hasn’t been factory farmed. I can’t say I agree with that decision, but I do like that it appears we are living in a time in which Americans are thinking more than ever about what they put into their bodies.

What do you think? How would you have responded to the poll? I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, but seeing that the total percentage doesn’t include vegans, I might.

U.S. meat consumption is decreasing, even without the help of those pushovers at the  USDA, which is wonderful. And yes, it’s great that people are satisfying their appetite for flesh with animals who weren’t raised in environment-destroying torture chambers. I just wish there were more of us. Ex-vegetarians who now eat “only free-range chickens” depress me.

05/22/2012

Meet Florence, the vegetarian shark!  »

TreeHugger reports on Florence, a nurse shark living at the Birmingham National Sea Life Centre in England, who has been trying to follow a vegetarian diet. Florence here swallowed a rusty fish hook three years ago, and vets performed out-of-water surgery to remove it, and since then, she’s refused all fish.

Unfortunately, sharks cannot live on vegetables alone, even delicious, nutritious algae, so Sea Life Centre workers have to pull a Marge Simpson and hide the fish in lettuce to supplement Florence’s diet. Apparently if she even gets a whiff of fish, Florence will refuse the food and wait for the animal-free option.

Aw, Florence! We know how hard it is to feed a carnivore an animal-free diet. Maybe scientists will figure out a way to meet your nutritional needs without compromising your morals. A lady-shark can dream!

[photo from the Birmingham National Sea Life Centre via TreeHugger]

05/11/2012

Vegetarians, today is the day you go vegan!  »

Lots of vegans were vegetarians before they went vegan. I was. I was vegetarian because I was pretty ignorant—I didn’t even know (or think) about factory farms, I just didn’t like the thought of eating animals. It’s gross, right? We all know one or two animals who we love or at least recognize as sentient beings. The thought of putting dead animals into your body kinda skeeves you out, and so you don’t do it.

Veganism, however, seems a bit extreme, and a little difficult. It’s for obnoxious activists and people who hate food, you’re not about to bomb a lab or eat a twig casserole! But here’s the thing: That’s not what veganism is about! It’s for you! It’s totally for you! You already love animals so that’s the first step, now it’s time to access that place of compassion and go vegan.

When you buy cow’s milk, or cheese, or chicken’s eggs, you are directly contributing to the slaughterhouse, and even worse, the constant suffering of billions of animals. Just because you’re not eating the actual carcass doesn’t mean that you didn’t directly contribute to that death. Female dairy cows live an unnatural life of horrendous pain to create milk and cheese—their babies are taken away and either suffer the same life, or are sold for veal. Purchasing dairy is basically like buying veal. It’s true. Even those organic, natural, happy dairy farms sell their male calves for veal, we’ve checked. And what happens to dairy cows when they can’t produce any longer? It’s straight to the slaughterhouse, and that’s true of ALL cows, no matter where they’re from. 

Egg-laying hens have it probably worst of all: Their lives are nightmares and then bam, it’s off to the slaughterhouse when they can’t produce any more. That’s true for those organic, free-range hens, too. And male chicks? Most likely destroyed in the easiest way possible. The only exception is maybe backyard hens, but those come with a whole other set of issues, and I wonder how many people are well equipped to keep them safely for their entire lives. 

Vegetarians should think about why they’re vegetarian, and today should be that day. You know, ‘cause sometimes you need a push! I know I did! If it’s for ethical reasons, you should go vegan right now. Or at least start working toward it, maybe with an end date in sight. You’ll most likely find that it’s so much easier than you imagine, especially if you live in an area where vegetarianism is possible. I know that’s not everywhere but I bet it’s the majority of the people reading this. Go vegan, be vegan! Check out our handy list of 11 tips for new vegans! Have a question? Ask a Vegansaur!

But really, go vegan. Make a real stand for animals by withholding your hard earned ca$hola from ALL of the evil industries that abuse animals because, in the words of Megan Rascal, “Being vegetarian isn’t very vegetarian.” From one former vegetarian to some others, today is the motherflipping day you go LEGIT. See you on the other side, friends! I’ve got a batch of vegan cookies in the oven for you, let’s EAT.

You all saw the Time cover story, right? It was basically the front page of the internet yesterday. Um, I don’t think my terrible Google Drawing fully demonstrates what I’m trying to say here but it’s basically: COWS! They love their babies, too! SOMETIMES A LITTLE TOO MUCH.

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.]

01/12/2012

Kate Bush waxes vegetarian for Delia Smith’s Cookery Course in 1980! My sister loves Kate Bush (Wuthering Heights is our jam! (And that video is my new jam, hella wacky!)) so when reader Will S. sent this in, I knew I had to post it even though it’s not totes vegan. I hope Kate has found some other foods to eat since 1980 because this stuff is not, let’s say, super awesome.

Nice quote when someone asked her about eating plants when she says she can’t stand the thought of eating life:

I don’t think plants mind being eaten, actually. I think they’d be really sad if no-one paid that much attention to them.

Oh Kate, you are hilar. 

[Via Dangerous Minds]

10/13/2011

We love Cory Booker because he loves the animals!  »

Did you see the post about Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker in the Post the other day? The Humane Society of the United States gave him the Humane Public Servant award last week for his work building Patrick’s Place, a “state-of-the-art animal shelter” named for a pit bull who was found in a Newark trash can, starving to death.

Sometime between then and receiving this HSUS award, Mayor Booker stopped eating meat, because of the animals. Part of his anti-animal-cruelty campaign is to stop eating meat! It seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but they don’t make those Shelter Pet Project commercials just for non-meat-eaters. For most of the country, there’s a huge disconnect between donating some towels to an animal shelter and actually taking preventative measures against animal cruelty. But not for Cory Booker! He gets it.

Growing up a half-New Jerseyan, I heard a looooot of Newark jokes. It’s a pit, they’d say, it’s the worst. Nothing more terrible in Jersey than Newark (the response to that is, Have you seen Trenton?). But since its citizens elected Cory Booker mayor, its fortunes have risen. Risen! I wish our young, go-getting mayor had been half as useful. I mean, sure, marry the gay citizenry, but what about infrastructure? What about jobs? What are you even doing in the Lieutenant Governor’s seat except killing time doing your hair until you can run for governor and smarmily fuck up the state GODDAMN IT.

Laura says if you want to learn more about a younger Cory Booker, watch Street Fight, the Oscar-nominated documentary about his failed campaign for mayor in 2002. It’s on Netflix instant! It’s a trifecta of awesome—a documentary whose handsome star is an idealistic politician—so watching it would probably improve your life. Especially when you remember that later, he wins! And grows into an even better person! Cory Booker, he is pretty great.

[photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons]

01/26/2011

Flexitarians: top marketing trend of 2011  »


USA Today
did a piece on the top 10 marketing trends of 2011 (there’s finally a microwave popcorn bowl-bag!) and guess what popped up as number six? Everybody’s favorite, flexitarians!:

Some 47 percent of Americans are trying to reduce meat consumption. That’s the flexitarian (flexible vegetarian) trend that the MorningStar Farms division of Kellogg (K) has latched onto.

In March, it will roll out its first complete soy-based breakfast entrees: Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuits and Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuits… The target: Boomer women, says Cathy Schneck, vice president of marketing at Kellogg Frozen Foods. Some 75 percent of its customers eat some kind of meat—but just want to eat less.

I thought maybe “complete soy-based” meant the new Morning Star products would have vegan cheese, etc. but I checked and the stuff is already out and totally cow. Dang it, Morningstar! They get on my last nerve. But they do seem to have a lot more vegan products than I remember. I want their Chik Patties to be vegan! I used to love those in my teens.

So I didn’t know 47 percent of Americans are trying to eat less meat, that’s a lot! And I didn’t know that meat-eaters bought so much fake meat; didn’t they all used to be terrified of meat substitutes? I have seen this in “boomer women” myself, actually; my mom and her friends definitely rock the meat substitutes. She loves her veggie burgers!

Some recent commenters have declaimed against championing anything short of veganism, but I see things like this as great news. It’s part of the whole vegan-as-mainstream trend—and when I say trend, I don’t mean “fad.” In most of the last century, vegetarians were looked on as total freaks, and now they are totally normal. There’s been a consistent upswing in vegetarianism since the ’90s. That could be us! We are the vegetarians of the 21st century! This is a good trend.

[I was tipped off about this article by Meatless Monday’s twitter feed. You should follow it; they are cutesy, I’m into it.]

11/18/2010

Religious festivals provide new and fun ways to torture Australian sheep!  »


Because Australian sheep don’t suffer enough (see mulesing), Australian farmers ship them live to the “Middle East”* so they can be brutalized and then killed for Eid al Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice. For this year’s festival, Animals Australia investigators were onsite in Kuwait and Bahrain to document the cruelty, and caught some really effed shit. Shipping live animals is awful all on its own, but then once they get there, these sheep are sold on the street and chained to cars and whatnot to bring home to “sacrifice.” The picture above is one of many shocking photos; here we have sheep being forced into the trunk of a car to transport to someone’s home to be killed. Seriously, this picture makes me ill.

The Jerusalem Post has a really great article on Muslim vegetarians and how they view the holiday. It seems people question whether one can be Muslim and be vegetarian but the Post writes, “Liberal clerics, such as American scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, point to Islamic oral traditions to justify vegetarianism. ‘Traditionally Muslims were semi-vegetarians,’ Yusuf claimed in religious audio tape. ‘Umar [the second Muslim Caliph] said: “Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine”.’” And Muslims are generally pretty down on wine.

In a bit of good news, it looks like vegetarians aren’t the only people skipping the sacrifice; according to the article, some meat-loving people are forgoing the sacrifice for purely economic reasons—meat is expensive and prices have gone up. Still, they say 800,000 sheep were shipped from Australia this year for the festival. If they really want sheep, can’t someone raise them closer to Kuwait or something? And if they really want to sacrifice sheep, can’t they treat them with some decency before they kill them? If an animal is being murdered for you, you could at least be grateful.

*I don’t think we call it that anymore? I couldn’t find a definite preferred term. [Ed. The term has become pretty firmly entrenched, even in the area itself. Maybe West Asia as a substitute?]

11/04/2010

So necessary: Stella McCartney’s cashmere jumper for baby  »

Stella McCartney gets on my last goddamn nerve with her vegetarian BS. I’m glad she doesn’t use leather but can she cool it with the wool already? For fuck’s sake! I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was to see this cashmere number in her new children’s clothing collection. I know, the tiny model is hella cute, but let’s get real: an $88 US cashmere onesie? OBNOXIOUS. It’s like, “How to raise a d-bag, 101.” Can I get a witness?!

For good measure, here’s a little cashmere crash-course:

Cashmere is made from the coats of cashmere goats. When you buy a ‘beautiful’ cashmere garment, know that you have supported the killing of several goats that weren’t quite beautiful enough. Cashmere goats are harshly judged and those with ‘defects’ in their coats are typically killed before reaching two years of age. Industry experts estimate that farmers kill 50 to 80 per cent of the young goats whose coats do not meet standards.—Global Action Network

Cashmere goats are raised in crowded filthy stalls [and] sheared when they need their wool coats the most, in the winter. Exposed to the cold, these goats are more susceptible to illnesses. Ear-notched, de-horned and castrated without anesthesia, they are sold for meat after their first fiber harvest. With the depressed global economy, there is a glut of cashmere wool on the market so now many herds are simply butchered rather than used for their wool.—Animal Protection League of New Jersey

Adorably, if you buy the Stella for Kids “Leo sweatshirt” for a mere $36 US, the company will donate a whole £1 GB to Meat Free Monday, Ltd. That’s $1.61 US, or 4.5 percent! Less than sales tax, even. But don’t worry, Leo is made from organic cotton. Better than cashmere, amirite? Hey, at least no one purposely slaughtered a goat for your kid’s sweater!

11/01/2010

Interview: Alexis Barrera!  »

Alexis Barrera is a photographer and cartoonist living in New York and he’s totally vegetarian! You can check out his comics at Oaktowncrack.com. He’s my new pal and was kind enough to do an interview for vegansaurus!

Where were you born?
I was born in Mexico City and lived there for 11 years before moving to America. I hear that’s like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 11 years.

When/why did you move to SF? How long did you live there?
My parents moved to San Francisco in ‘88, and I stayed with them until ‘94 when I moved away to college.

When did you move to Oakland?
I moved back to San Francisco in ‘99 and then over to Oakland in 2000. I stayed put there for 9 years.

When/why did you move to New York?
After 20 years in the Bay Area, I was starting to feel like a townie. I wasn’t ready to settle down, so it became time to make the obligatory pilgrimage to New York.
I moved to the Greenpoint YMCA on April Fool’s day of 2009 and moved to Manhattan 10 days later. The residents of the YMCA could really use some advice on nutrition, let me tell you.

How long have you been vegetarian?
I hated most meat as a kid, and would only eat hamburgers and hotdogs as a teenager. I stopped eating meat altogether in the fall of ‘96.

Are you vegetarian for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
Initially I quit for health reason, but nowadays when I guilt-trip carnivores I also bring up animal cruelty and the environment.

Do you ever include a vegetarian message in your comics?
Definitely. Here’s an example [“Munchy” left; drawn after watching Super Size Me].

Do you have a day job, or do you draw comics full-time?
I’m a programmer by day; the rest of the time I think of myself as a sequential artist.
I’m better known for my photography than my drawings, but it’s all the same to me.

Who are some of your favorite cartoonists, vegan/vegetarian or not?
The best vegan cartoonist I can think of is Dan Piraro. I’m not sure what R. Crumb, Keiji Nakazawa, or Art Spiegelman eat…but it probably had a nervous system at some point.

Can you draw animals really well? Can you draw me as an animal? Will you do a portrait of Figaro for free? Yes?
Here’s a daguerreotype of Figaro on his way to the opera, circa 1877:


[Megan Rascal note: AWESOME!!! Exclamation point!!!]

Any pets?
My two tabbies live in California with their kitty mama. They were abducted from a feral colony when they were kittens, and are inseparable, as you can tell from this photograph:

What is your favorite animal?
Besides my tabbies, I’ve grown quite fond of French Bulldogs, the official pet of the city of New York.

Favorite vegan food to make?
I’m a terrible cook, but my housemate makes delicious ratatouille.We don’t eat it with cheese.

Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant/favorite vegan restaurant?
Millennium in San Francisco, and Dirt Candy in Manhattan.

How does New York compare to the Bay Area, in terms of vegan and vegetarian food?
I haven’t lived in New York long enough to make a fair comparison, restaurant-wise. So far I haven’t had trouble finding meatless meals.

Based on food options alone, which is your favorite comics show to travel to?
Wondercon in San Francisco is within walking distance of a trillion good eateries.

Any tips for traveling cartoonists?
Find a place to stay on couchsurfing.com…and don’t walk around with headphones at night, that’s always a terrible idea.

Do you have one drawing tip to share?
I put together a cross-hatching tutorial here.

What’s the deal with Oaktown Crack Comics?
Society marginalizes drug addicts while encouraging all other forms of over-consumption. Crackheads, tweakers, and junkies aren’t any more evil than investment bankers and obese couch potatoes [Ed.: That’s half of our writers. Watch your back, bro!], so we should all be more tolerant and focus on harm reduction instead of arbitrary law enforcement. Oaktown Crack Comics attempt to depict drug addicts more accurately and with a little compassion.

Life in SF seemed to play a big role in your comics, do you think New York will have a similar influence?
I like to think that my comics aren’t particularly SF-centric, but rather slum-centric. New York’s fringe scene is less overt and the authorities here are disgustingly oppressive, so I’m sure I’ll be drawing comics about that soon.

What exciting upcoming projects can we look forward to?
I’m writing an instructional booklet on using 3D software to create 2D comics and animations that look hand-drawn.

Further down the road, I’m trying to combine Naked Lunch and a modern physics textbook into some sort of sci-fi graphic novel. I’ve got a bunch of scripts about what happens in between Big Bangs.

Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
Know where I can get good vegan winter boots? I don’t want my toes to fall off.

A: Check Steve’s men’s winter boot round-up!

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