Vegan thank you notes: “Just thought you’d want to know”

Vegan Peace e-cards: click image

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

One last hurrah is on the holiday season horizon–the New Year’s celebration. The holidays (regardless of which ones you celebrate) are a time fraught with pitfalls for ethical vegans in a speciesist world. Gifts…food…gifts of food…argh.

Food. You can always detect the vegan at the omnivore holiday party, surreptitiously rifling through the pasta salad with a serving spoon, attempting to determine if it’s “safe.” Likewise, the vegan (or veg*n) is the one whose face brightens at the sight of a huge salad bowl then darkens upon realizing that the lovely greens are covered with crumbled bacon. And bacon vinaigrette. Tsk.

Then there’s the gift-giving, and by that I really mean the gift-receiving. Because you can bet your Moo Shoes that ethical vegans give vegan gifts but don’t always receive them.   Continue reading

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “Don’t Eat Anything with A Face” At Kaufman Center, December 4th

David Cassuto

From the email…

Award-winning NPR series Intelligence Squared U.S. (IQ2US)— the Oxford style series championing the art of debate and intelligent discussion—will close it’s sold out fall season on December 4th asking the question, should we eat meat?

According to a 2009 poll, around 1% of American adults reported eating no animal products. In 2011 that number rose to 2.5%–more than double, but still dwarfed by the 48% who reported eating meat, fish or poultry at all of their meals. In this country, most of us are blessed with an abundance of food and food choices. So taking into account our health, the environment and ethical concerns, which diet is best? Are vegans on the right track, or are we meant to be carnivores?

Clinical researcher and author of 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart, Dr. Neal Barnard and President and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary Gene Baur will argue for the motion, “Don’t Eat Anything with a Face.” Chris Masterjohn, Nutritional Sciences Researcher and blogger for The Daily Lipid will argue against the motion with farmer and author Joel Salatin.

WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “Don’t Eat Anything with a Face.”
WHEN: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 / Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:30 PM
WHERE: Kaufman Center/129 W. 67th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam)/New York, NY 10023
TICKETS:, visit http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/

The debate will take place in front of a live audience at Kaufman Center in New York City. Before the debate, audience members will vote on the motion; afterward, the audience votes again. The team that moves the most voters to its side will be the winning team in this provocative debate.
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Buddhist Inmate Denied Vegetarian Diet

Seth Victor

The Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville, CT is required by directive to provide “all nutritional requirements as determined by a Department of Correction licensed dietitian, without the presence of food items Veggie Fishforbidden by religious dogma” to all its inmates. Howard Cosby is a practicing non-violent Buddhist, and while not all branches of Buddhisim require a vegetarian lifestyle, Mr. Crosby identifies as a person who wishes to not cause harm to other living animals. Mr. Crosby, however, has regularly been served fish while incarcerated, because the department of corrections does not consider fish to be meat. Now to be fair, this position isn’t wholly out of line with the arbitrary classifications animals receive by the government. It is not, however, an encouraging example of semantics. If the Connecticut Department of Corrections has the authority to declare what is and is not meat, what is stopping it from saying cow or chicken is not meat? If the only criteria is its own opinion, the answer is, not much. One may think that common sense would intervene, but common sense hasn’t prevented the staff at Corrigan-Radgowski from confusing convenient Catholic loopholes with an entirely different doctrine. Now I know that once you are in prison you cease to be a person that the country cares about, your rights don’t apply, and as long as you stay out of sight it doesn’t matter how long your sentence is. But let’s at least learn what a vegetable is.

Why the King Amendment is Hypocritical

Seth Victor

Recently Angelique Rivard explained some of the dangers inherent in Rep. Steve King’s amendment to H.R. 6083, the Farm Bill. What makes this amendment maddening is that Mr. King has cited law to support this measure that he would decry as the product of an overreaching government in almost any other circumstance. There is no doubt that Mr. King’s proposal is intended to end state protection for farmed animals; his website proudly declares that he hopes to terminate the efforts of animal rights groups, ensuring “that radical organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA are prohibited from establishing a patchwork of restrictive state laws aimed at slowly suffocating production agriculture out of existence.”

King has hardly been the darling of animal rights before this foray, as Stephen Colbert nicely summarizes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund both gave him a 0% rating in 2012. This came after a 2010 statement at a National 4-H Conference that “the HSUS is run by vegetarians with an agenda whose goal is to take meat off everyone’s table in America.” King has also previously voted against broadening the definitions of the Endangered Species Act in 2005 which would have enabled better listing criteria.

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Creating Killers: Human Tolls of Slaughter

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Spencer Lo

Behind the sanitized world of fast-food, everyday grocery shopping and culinary delights—all meant to satiate to our basic pleasures and needs—is an extraordinarily vast realm of brutality as normal and routine as our mealtime habits. I am referring, of course, to the often ignored truth of slaughterhouses: that billions of animals raised and slaughtered every year for food are forced to endure unimaginable suffering. What society does to produce food is obviously bad for other animals. What is less obvious, however, is the lesser-known fact that slaughterhouses are also bad for the hundreds of thousands of employees who work in them—for very low wages, with little job security (most are “at-will” employees) and in highly dangerous conditions. Read More

In Praise (and Defense) of Meatless Mondays

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Spencer Lo

Today, the start of the new weekday, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will serve students in its K-12 cafeteria meatless meals, thereby participating in the growing international campaign known as “Meatless Mondays” (MM). The mandatory vegetarian program began last month, and follows a unanimous city council’s resolution passed last November endorsing the campaign, which asked residents to make a personal pledge to go meat-free for one day a week. As reported on HLN, the new initiative amounts to 650,000 vegetarian meals every Monday—that’s (by my calculation) more than 31 million vegetarian meals per year served in United States’ second largest school district. This is very welcome news. Read More

New European Study Confirms English Cooking Is Still Bad

Seth Victor

Though the title of this post is a bit hyperbolic in invoking the classic stereotype about English foodEnglish Breakfast, a new study posted in BMC Medicine confirms that processed meat, such as that found in the classic English Breakfast pictured to the right,  increases the risk of premature death. The study evaluated “448,568 men and women without prevalent cancer, stroke, or myocardial infarction, and with complete information on diet, smoking, physical activity and body mass index, who were between 35 and 69 years old.”  You can read the abstract here. One of the takeaways is that “if everyone in the study consumed no more than 20g of processed meat a day then 3% of the premature deaths could have been prevented.”

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Animals Are Biggest Losers in Sequestration

Seth Victor

As reported by Mother Jones, there is a lovely outcome to the government’s sequestering: “The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s budget would be slashed by $51 million. This would result in a furlough of as much as 15 days for all employees, including 8,400 meat inspectors, as well as a loss of 2 billion pounds of meat, between 2.8 and 3.3 billion pounds of poultry, and over 200 million pounds of egg products. Meat shortages may also lead to price increases, leading to a domino effect on restaurants, grocers, and small businesses. There are also concerns that food safety ‘could be compromised by the illegal selling and distribution of uninspected meat, poultry, and egg products.’”

Or, as author Lemony Snicket might phrase it, “The news reported that there was going to be a loss, a word that here means ’13 million cows and over a billion chickens were killed for no use at all, because a bunch of people were busy fighting over other things, like how much money they could spend on themselves.’”

Why horse meat tacos are the least of our worries

Seth Victor

Taco Bell moved to pull beef off its UK menus this past Friday because of traces of horse meat found in the product. A spokesperson for the company commented: “We apologize to our customers and take this matter very seriously as food quality is our highest priority.” The problem with this statement is that it calls into question just what Taco Bell considers to be “food quality.” Obviously phenylbutazone isn’t something Taco Bell wants in its products. This is a company that is trying to brand itself as something more than fast food, from the “Think Outside the Box” campaign, to the recent artesian kitchen look with chef Lorena Garcia and her supposed quest for the “highest quality ingredients.” Not convinced? You can go to the Taco Bell website and learn more (or in keeping with the company slogan, Learn Más!). Here, at last, you can rest easy knowing that Taco Bell uses 88% premium ground beef, and 12% signature recipe. What? 12% of its product is. . . a recipe? The assurance I should get by hearing this supposed break down of ingredients is undermined when I haven’t a clue what that means. The ad tells me to go to the website learn what the recipe is, but it’s buried. Hunt it down though, and it comes out to water and a bunch of seasoning. So no worries there, I guess. How about this premium beef? Continue reading

Valentine’s Day: Nothing says “I want you (and the pig) dead” like bacon roses

Say “I love you” with bacon – click image

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the question on many a mind–or maybe just mine–is, Where’s the dissonance in “cognitive dissonance”?  According to About.com Psychology,

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.

An apt example of cognitive dissonance is the human propensity to love animals and to loathe seeing them suffer–nonetheless, to consider them tasty and edible even while suspecting (if not downright knowing) that the journey from lovable to edible requires suffering. If you’re one of those people, hang in there–we’ll talk you through it. Just relax and allow yourself to cognitively embrace the dissonance…   Continue reading

An animal rights Super Bowl fantasy

Just say no to pigskin (unless it’s on a pig) – click image

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

It’s Superbowl Sunday, and even as I type, the six-hour pre-game show has commenced. We’ll tune in later, for the actual game. Yes, we’re football fans, a somewhat shocking revelation to friends who know us only for our more conscience-driven pursuits. We’ll be cheering for, well, who cares. I default to the NFC when I don’t have a dog in that fight, to use a football-related (OK, Michael Vick-related, close enough) term. Go 49ers, ho-hum. Then again, ravens are birds–and birds are good, and the Edgar Allen Poe/Baltimore connection is most compelling to a former English teacher…so…Go team! Continue reading

Legal Issues with California’s Foie Gras Ban

Seth Victor

Late last month PETA filed a suit against Hot’s Restaurant Group in Los Angeles County, CA, alleging that the defendant violated the California state law that went into effect earlier this year prohibiting the sale of foie gras. The essence of the hots-kitchencomplaint is that Hot’s Kitchen, the specific restaurant in question, has skirted the law by selling a hamburger for an increased price and including with the hamburger a “complimentary side of foie gras.” Being that foie gras is sold legally at gourmet restaurants around the country for a pretty penny, on its face Hot’s seems to be blatantly rebelling against California’s ban, taking a position common among many restaurant owners. Taking the ethical debate over foie gras (ahem) off the table for a moment, is what Hot’s Kitchen doing illegal? Continue reading

Further Thoughts on Happy Meat


Spencer Lo

My last post explored the ethics of consuming “happy meat,” which was prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT article on the matter—with great enthusiasm, he endorsed it as an ethical alternative to the consumption of factory-farmed animals. I attempted to show why this view is deeply mistaken by briefly sketching an argument from philosopher Jeff McMahan’s paper. Here, I want to raise the question of whether, from an animal advocates perspective, there is anything positive to be said about shifting the public consciousness away from consumption of factory-farmed meat to “happy meat”—encouraged by Kristof—notwithstanding the fact that both are problematic. In other words, although influential people like Kristof are ultimately advocating an unethical practice, is that nevertheless a welcome change in some respects? Should the change be encouraged to some extent? Read more

Foie Gras, with Hollande-aise Sauce

Seth Victor

Recently French President François Hollande pledged to fight California’s ban on foie gras. How he plans to do this, I am not sure, and the president himself has admitted that he cannot fight the law directly. Fearing that California’s legislation will encourage other states and, perhaps closer to home for the new leader, other EU countries to implement similar laws, he vows to use free trade treaties to continue to export this traditional French product while “bombard[ing] US political leaders with gifts of foie gras ‘for their own great enjoyment.’” How kind of him. Continue reading

The heresy of Meatless Monday

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Meatless Monday merch – click

The gnashing of teeth. Charges of heresy. Outrage…sputtering outrage. In a heinous affront to the beef industry, the U.S.D.A. suggested–suggested!–that folks dining at the agency cafeterias–(brace yourself)–go meatless on Mondays. Oh the humanity!

From the New York TimesThe message seemed innocuous enough, coming as it did from the federal agency tasked with promoting sustainable agriculture and dietary health: “One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias,” read a United States Department of Agriculture interoffice newsletter published on its Web site this week, “is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative.”

Certainly, we assure ourselves, the U.S.D.A., though faced with stiff industry opposition, staunchly defended its reasonable sugges…no, wait, what’s this? Continue reading

The animal rights movement: “A beast to be slain”

rightsofanimals.edublogs.org

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley in Ravalli County is known for its stunning mountain scenery and its oft-stunning conservatism. Deep-canyoned east-west drainages rising toward the Idaho divide serve as a gateway to the 1,340,587-acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. The valley’s politics often serve as a gateway to extremism. Guns? Lordy. Militia? In the works. A hunters’ group, hoping to encourage more dead wolves (the only good kind), offered prize money for photos of wolves killed in districts where hunting quotas hadn’t been met. The county planning board (subdivisions and all that -yawn- stuff) hosted an expert on Agenda 21, a U.N. plan to steal our freedom and our property, destroy the Constitution, use environmentalism to create a one-world government, and relocate most Montanans to urban areas like Seattle.  In a recent Bitterroot Memorial Day parade–Memorial Day, mind you–a pickup towed an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library.” You get the picture.

And so it was, driven by curiosity, that a public seminar titled “The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement” caused me to give up half of a recent Saturday and head up the valley. Continue reading

The animal industrial complex: The monster in our midst

Kathleen Stachowski
Other Nations

Given the opportunity, what would you say to a couple hundred high school students about animal exploitation? In 30 minutes? I had that chance as a speaker at a Missoula, Montana high school in April. Having taught there several years ago, I already knew that kids at this school are generally awesome and take pride in their open-minded, “alternative” image. Still, I was clued in by a few that the animal rights viewpoint isn’t any more warmly embraced there than it is in the rest of society. Go figure.

Earth Day was the occasion, so I chose factory farming for my topic–its gross cruelty to animals, its devastating impacts on the environment and humans. Continue reading

Youth Can’t Handle the Truth?

Seth Victor

I happened to watch CNN this afternoon at the deli where I had lunch. The featured story focused on what age is too young for a child to be vegan.

Recently there has been a stir surrounding “Vegan is Love” by author Ruby Roth. To quote the Amazon summary,”Roth illustrates how our daily choices ripple out locally and globally, conveying what we can do to protect animals, the environment, and people across the world. Roth explores the many opportunities we have to make ethical decisions: refusing products tested on or made from animals; avoiding sea parks, circuses, animal races, and zoos; choosing to buy organic food; and more.”

Such brashness.

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Gelatin Awareness: Have yourself a Peepless Little Easter

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Easter baskets and candy bowls of yore once held some of this Baby Boomer’s fondest Easter and Halloween memories: Marshmallow Peeps. Candy corn. Jelly beans. Chocolate covered marshmallow rabbits. I continued eating these sweet treats after going vegetarian some 27 years ago. Ignorance was bliss. Then G.A. (Gelatin Awareness) struck and changed the world forever. As the then-vegetarian daughter of a now-departed candy salesman, this was no insignificant revelation. Really? Gelatin? All these years? Gaaaaaaa! Continue reading

Readin’, writin’, and artificial insemination

Evolve!campaigns-click image

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

Remember a typical high school day? English: work on Hamlet essay.  Civics: meet in library. Art: finish perspective drawing. Algebra: test, chapter 7. Ag-education: artificially inseminate cow.

Wait, what?

That’s the gist of an article in a recent Missoulian (Missoula, MT): animal husbandry ain’t what it used to be. Sure, it still involves mucking around in manure, but increasingly, it also means turning to science to engineer ever more production out of animals–in this case, commandeering the reproductive systems of individual cows. Continue reading

Sexism, ageism, speciesism: To fight one -ism, must we embrace others?

Would you card this woman?

Kathleen Stachowski     Other Nations

It was sheer curiosity that drove me to it. Honest! Saw a link, clicked, ended up at PETA Prime scoping out the “Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50″ contest. As a vegan over 50–and a curious one at that–it made perfect sense to check it out. Perfect sense, and who’s abashedly defensive?!? Ha ha.

But what is PETA Prime, I wondered–AARP for animal rights activists? The Baby Boomers’ PETA? Although any mention of age is hard to find, the model at the top of the page has laugh lines and silver hair, and at the “about” page there’s this: “Let’s celebrate the wise people we have become and learn to make kind choices together.” Ah, yes, “the wise people we have become.” Collecting all that wisdom took us around the block a time or two.

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The wilderness vegan: Hold the cheese ‘n’ skeeters, please!

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

Let’s say a couple–fairly new at describing themselves as vegan–is backpacking with friends in the Beartooth Mountains along the Montana/Wyoming border. Let’s say the mosquitoes are so thick–zillions of them, dense clouds of them–that they risk inhaling them (check), swallowing them (check), and swat them by the tens in their tent (check, check, check!). They find them floating in their oatmeal and coffee, and plastered into their couscous (check, and check). In spite of the blood-letting, they have a glorious hike above 10,000 feet elevation, are appreciatively reminded of their place in the food chain (this is grizzly country), celebrate one friend’s end-of-chemo first-year anniversary, and return happy and rejuvenated with over 100 bites each. Continue reading

A Little More Veg Rhetoric

David Cassuto

I have resolved that when I see a particularly well-argued piece for either side, I will flag it.  So here‘s Bruce Friedrich making the argument against meat.

Real American Hero

Seth Victor

Megan Coffee is a superhero. She is a doctor from New Jersey who has been giving free medical care to the people in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and is the only American doctor still working at Haiti’s largest hospital. With no income for her work, she gets by on the kindness and hospitality of the locals. Oh, and all the while she’s maintained a vegan lifestyle. Triple kudos to her for showing that you can be an incredible humanitarian and still make a huge difference for animals. You can read the story here.

Another Veganism Hit Piece

David Cassuto

I tend to agree with most of the commentary I’ve seen so far on this hit piece on veganism in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Harold Fromm’s poor reasoning and almost brazen ignorance of the subject matter render the essay undeserving of a thorough critique. What does merit critiquing is the Chronicle’s decision to publish it.  Continue reading

Carnism vs. Ovo-Lacto Vegetarianism

David Cassuto

Interesting colloquy over at Dorf on Law between Melanie Joy (author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows:  An Introduction to Carnism) and Professor Sherry Colb.  The discussion deals with the respective locations on the ethical continuum of  “carnism” and lacto-ovo vegetarianism.  The colloquy is entitled “Part I,” so there is surely more to follow.

Sloth

Seth Victor

 I wrote that gluttony is the biggest of these applied sins, but I may have spoken too soon. Everything I’ve written so far is meaningless if no one critically considers the issues contained in these posts, and while my goal is to get people thinking and talking about these issues, that alone is not enough. It’s a tired saying, but actions do speak loudest. Where our society goes with animal rights is determined solely by what actions we take. It’s that simple. For that reason, sloth is the greatest sin to overcome.    Continue reading

Gluttony

Seth Victor

            Gluttony is the big sin, the flagship of cruelty against animals, and because of that it is the hardest for me to put into original words. So many advocates before me have written so well about the consequences of over consuming animals. The message is simple, and is articulated best by Michael Pollan: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. That is a message aimed at fixing American health problems, which stem from our poor diets. In becoming better eaters, we will also become better stewards to animals. The poor treatment of factory farmed animals is a disaster, and it leads to the downfall of our health, our environment, and our economy, to say nothing of the animals who live in hell because of our dietary indulgences. CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are an apt topic for any of the sins, but I’m sticking with the obvious one.  That the omnivore’s dilemma is the biggest and most oppressive issue in the animal rights world should come as no surprise to any of this blawg’s regular readers. For those of you just visiting, take some time read this post. Or this one. This one, too. It’s kind of a big deal.                Continue reading

Vegetable Protein — The Untold Story

David Cassuto

Why is it so scary that plants have protein?  Even as more and more veggie recipes appear in food sections of newspapers, discussions of plants´protein-rich nature remain conspicuously absent.  This is true even when a nutrition-breakdown accompanies the recipe.   Continue reading

Food Fight at McDonald’s

David Cassuto

So a woman throws a tantrum and destroys some property when her McDonald’s meal is prepared wrong (apparently, she was “unhappy with her cheeseburger”).  Some foundational questions: how does one prepare such a thing “right?”  And how would one know?

Fasting on the Bayou

David Cassuto

I blog from New Orleans, where I am attending the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) annual meeting.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, tomorrow is the meeting of the Animal Law section. 

Today I field tripped with the Environmental and Natural Resource sections.  We first visited a swamp and marshland (there is a difference between the two) and after lunch, we toured the lower Ninth Ward to see both the remaining devastation from Katrina as well as some fascinating and hopeful rebuilding efforts (including Brad Pitt’s Make It Right project).  All in all, it was a wonderful day spent with great colleagues witnessing both the struggles and triumphs of the natural and human world. 

There was one rub, though.  Continue reading

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