You’ll Eat It and Like It: Rehabbing Vegans in Texas Prisons

David Cassuto

First the bad news then some good news then some middling, reality check observations.

It seems that a prisoner in Texas wishes to eat a vegan diet but the prison system will not let him.  Texas currently offers only a “meatless option,” which includes dairy and eggs.  The prisoner has sued under RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (more about the statute here), to force the prison to respect his dietary wishes.

Prior to the lawsuit, the state based its refusal to provide a vegan diet on the expense involved (once again raising the bizarre reality that eating animals that eat vegetables is less expensive than eating the vegetables themselves).  However, in responding to the lawsuit, Texas now intends to present expert testimony from a prison dietitian who “will opine that a long-term, strict vegan diet is likely to lead to the development of nutritional deficiencies and significant health problems for most people.”  Yes, that’s right, sports fans: vegan prisoners are starving themselves and need meat and/or dairy to survive.   Continue reading

Do You Know What It Means for a Vegan to Miss New Orleans?

Douglas Doneson

No matter how many cups of Yerba Mate I drink or how many lamps I turn on (or off) to get the right lighting, I can’t focus on my law school work. After living in New Orleans for close to six years my body knows Mardi Gras is approaching. It knows I should be there. Anyone who has been to the New Orleans Mardi Gras knows that once the thought of Mardi Gras comes to mind, so many good memories are recalled and flow throughout the brain.

One memory that always comes to mind is the amazing food New Orleans has to offer.  This is a funny thought for me because I am vegan. I actually stopped eating meat, while working at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans in 2007. But for some reason when I think about New Orleans, food is always the first thought that come to mind. Not surprisingly, New Orleans has a pretty small selection of vegan restaurants.  One of my favorite qualities of New Orleans, its stagnancy, is also its worst enemy.  Continue reading

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

Pondering Michael Vick & Grandma´s Turkey

David Cassuto

From the Recommended Readings Desk:  This from Sherry Colb over at Dorf on Law — a very thoughtful essay furthering a discussion begun when Gary Francione lectured at Cornell Law School.  Among other queries, the piece explores the relative morality of dog-fighting vs. cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.  The name of the essay is ´Animal Rights, Violent Interventions and Affirmative Obligations´ and is well worth the peruse.

Top 75 Blogs for Vegans and Vegetarians

One blogger’s take: find it here (and look for us!).

Buggery and Factory Farming

Rodell Green was just sentenced to three years imprisonment for having sex with a horse. Over at the Atlantic Blog, correspondent Wendy Kaminer asks the following “quick question“:

Can someone explain to me why it is a criminal offense to have sex with animals but entirely legal to kill and eat them?  Surely laws against bestiality don’t reflect concern about the rights of animals, (who would probably opt for sex over death.) I don’t mean to denigrate meat eating (I’m a carnivore;) I do mean to point out the absurdities of imprisoning people for “buggery.”

In a sense, Ms. Kaminer is right. It is simply inconsistent for the law to send someone to jail for three years for having sex with a horse while simultaneously allowing billions of animals to unnecessarily suffer as a result of factory farming.

Nevertheless, I believe that there is a way to explain this inconsistency. As I pointed out in a previous post, it’s unclear whether the purpose of bestiality statutes is to protect animals from cruelty. As a matter of fact, I think that bestiality statutes have little to do with preventing animal suffering. Instead, it’s more likely that the purpose of bestiality statutes is to enforce a moral principle, namely: that it’s against natural law and morality for human beings to have sex with an animal.  This reading of bestiality statutes is supported by the history of laws criminalizing such conduct.

The first statute criminalizing bestiality in common law jurisdictions was England’s Buggery Act of 1533. The statute made engaging in anal sexual intercourse or having sex with an animal a crime punishable by hanging. These acts were criminalized because they were unnatural and against God’s will. After all, as Blackstone (in)famously asserted in his famous Commentaries, someone who engaged in these acts committed the “abominable and detestable crime against nature”. As a result, it seems fairly obvious that what inspired bestiality laws was the state’s desire to enforce a particular moral view.

Continue reading