Thursday, November 25, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Healthy Forest Initiative
The Bush Administration saw a bunch of trees and thought, how can we clear that landscape without people knowing that we're raping the environment?
They looked ahead and knew that a news-clip discussing any initiatives to clear-cut national forests would be bad publicity, so they decided to twist the truth and science of ecology around a few times, and call it something NOBODY could argue with. You have to admire the brilliance. How could an environmentalist argue with something called "The Healthy Forest Initiative"? Most Americans would think, "hmph, George Bush is doing something good for the environment!"
No Child Left (Behind)
This is a fine example of christening a destructive initiative with golden euphemisms. Who could argue with a purportedly pro-child initiative like that? Bush got to redirect millions of dollars from failing/noncompliant schools towards funding the Iraq War, all in the name of improved education! AND they got to send military recruiters to high schools that wanted to continue to receive funding. Ted Kennedy even helped pass this Act (he later regretted the diminished educational funding that resulted). Talk about a win-win.
Brilliant false advertising. What better way to introduce religion into elementary education science classes than to promote something which lacks any scientific evidence as "intelligent"? This really takes the cake for euphemistic abuse, and might explain why over half of Americans believe God created humans in their present form. God help us.
Anti-Animal Rights Groups Are Buried in Doublespeak
These days it seems like for every Animal Rights/Welfare group, there exists some similar-sounding group whose intentions are the exact opposite.
I decided to come up with my own names for some of the Anti-AR Groups:
Alliance for Truth- why didn't they just call themselves Puppy Mill Defenders?
Humane Watch- this one should be obvious- Inhumane Watchman
Center for Consumer Freedom- Consumers for Hardened Arteries
Californians for Safe Food - this was actually a group of farmers opposed to CA's 2008 Proposition 2 for improving conditions for farm animals. It should have been called Farmers Against Animal Welfare
What Can We Learn From Them?
Some of the above initiatives and groups have been exposed for their true intentions, but it can take awhile. They work in the short-term by using half-truths to convince people to vote against things they normally would have supported. Remember how easy it was for Bush to convince the masses that Iraq blew up the WTC? He just had to use Saddam Hussein's name enough times in conjunction with 9/11 and before you know it, we were invading Iraq.
The Alliance for Truth's mission was almost realized this week as Proposition B barely passed. Can we learn something from these groups' duplicity? I'm not suggesting we be dishonest, but I think we should take a look at why they are successful and see if we can't turn it around in our favor. Can we revive our own image and reframe our cause in a more convincing way? Or is the vegan agenda too complex to be universally accepted?
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
I'm here to tell you how important is it to realize that you don't just vote on ballots once every couple years. You vote with your wallets every single day. Many times per day, usually.
And with that, you have incredible power.
Our system is governed, more or less, on supply and demand. There are only iPods because people want them. There is only makeup because women (and some men, to be fair) want it. Sometimes demand is organic and real. Sometimes it is artificially produced by people who want to make money. But either way, demand begats (I'm inventing words, so try to keep up) supply.
This is the case with animal foods and other products. Joe Bob wants a cheeseburger. So business-savvy (read: greedy, evil) men hire illegal immigrants (and the occasional down-and-out American) to kill cows, and hire teenagers and elderly folks to make cheeseburgers for Joe Bob.
When one day Joe Bob sees a video, gets handed a pamphlet, or (ahem) reads a blog post, and decides to shorten his name to Joe and stop eating animals, the demand for cheeseburgers decreases. No, not very much. Not even noticeably. Yet.
When fifty, five hundred, five thousand Joe Bobs decide to stop eating animals, cheeseburger businessmen take notice. They have taken notice. That's why Kraft makes (and sells, sells, sells) vegan burgers. Same with ConAgra. And Kellogg (although their Morningstar Farms crap is mostly non-vegan). And others.
Companies produce and sell what consumers indicate - with their money - that they want.
When you buy a shirt from Target, you're voting. When you buy a dog from a large-scale breeder, you're voting. And yes, when you buy a cheeseburger from McDonald's, you are voting.
You are only one person, yes. But large groups.... revolutions.... are made up of a bunch of "one person"s.
You have incredible power.
And use it wisely.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Two years ago, or there about, marked the beginning of the end of the greatest online vegetarian community there ever was. That place was Vegifide.com. Vegifide exemplified everything that was good and bad about vegetarians – from selfless compassion and logically-derived moral positions, to smug self-righteousness and espousals of batshit insane conspiracy theories. People didn’t always get along on that site. We argued, and sometimes things got heated. We also shared ideas, recipes, offered support to each other, and fostered true, genuine friendships. It was a true community. Now people don’t always get along in a community, but in a way that’s what makes it good – that freedom of interaction allows for conflict, but also allows for genuine and honest interaction.
If it weren’t for Vegifide, I very likely never would have gone vegan. Communicating with so many vegetarians made it impossible for me to continue to ignore the truths of animal cruelty endemic in the dairy and egg industries. Several aspiring vegetarians also joined that site and participated to get information and support. This is one reason that the community was so great – we shared information that allowed people to take steps forward on the path of vegetarianism at all different levels. Vegifide, on the whole, influenced a lot of people for the better.
Vegifide also had a HUGE St. Louis presence. I have met some of my best friends from there, people who I hang out with drinking, eating meals, watching football, etc, to this day. (I also met the person who ripped my heart out from there. Can’t win ‘em all I guess!) I don’t want to give the impression that this was only a St. Louis thing – it just so happens that a disproportionate amount of people were from here. Users from all over, from the Pacific Northwest to the UK, were active members of this community.
Vegifide still exists. Technically. I don’t have an account there; I was kicked off, along with several other prominent members in an incident that I won’t get in to too much, other than to say that some users, including me, took exception to some actions taken by the owner. We (the banished members) have our side of the story, and I’m sure the guy that runs (ran?) Vegifide has his. I feel pretty strongly that I was not in the wrong in this situation, and to the owner’s credit, he did offer a full, unconditional and (what I took to be) sincere apology for his actions regarding the mass banning. He welcomed us all back; none of us took him up on it. And it was too late anyway; the damage had been done.
From then on, Vegifide died a very slow, very ugly death. In the following months users steadily stopped coming to the site. The banned users made their “home” on another site (that’s now pretty much dead as well). It was never the same. No vegetarian site that I know of, before or since, has compared to Vegifide. There’s Volentia, and VeggieBoards, but neither are even in the same league.
As I said, Vegifide still exists, but only technically. There was a “hiatus” that lasted several months, and a few months ago the site came back online. I went there today. The last five posts on that site were all trying to sell term papers. That right, the most active current members of Vegifide are spammers for online papermills catering to stupid and unethical college kids. Yeah, the house is still standing, but the yard is completely overgrown, most of the windows have been busted out by kids throwing rocks, and the only people living there are squatters with a heroin addiction. This isn’t the kind of dignified death Vegifide deserves.
My friend Carl has flirted with the idea of helping create a new site, but he has these silly little trivial distractions like a wife, kids, and a mortgage that apparently are more important to him. (Some people just can’t get their priorities straight!) I would love to be involved with something new like that, recruit the old members of Vegifide (the ones I liked at least), and “get the band back together.” I want to recapture what probably can never be recaptured. So I will keep looking. And hoping. But I’m not really expecting anything.
I won’t lie: in the months that passed aftervthe mass banning, watching Vegifide die gave me a certain sense of cruel satisfaction. “Yeah, that motherfucker deserves it,” was my attitude. That was petty of me; again, if it weren’t for Vegifide I might not be vegan right now. I truly believe that Vegifide made the world a better place, as it helped lots of people transition to vegetarianism or veganism. Therefore, considering this, in my opinion the creation of Vegifide was an act of animal rights activism much greater than anything I have ever done. That place was special. And I miss it.
When the schadenfreude wears off, all that’s left is regret.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
- Two medium onions, diced
- One large green bell pepper, diced
- One head (that's right, a whole head) of garlic, minced
- 12 oz of mushrooms, diced
- Several tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Red pepper flakes, however much you think you can handle
- Chili powder, 5-6 tablespoons
- Brown sugar, 4 tablespoons
- Salt, not too much (you can always add salt; you can't take it out)
- Large can of crushed tomatoes
- Large can of diced tomatoes
- Three cans of beans (I used one each of black, red and navy)
- A beer
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
I think I might have to enter this. Hope to see some of you there!
Among one of the general misconceptions made by many advocates of animal rights is the assumption that all relationships between humans and animals are zero-sum games. First, what is a zero-sum game (ZSG)? In layman’s terms, a ZSG refers to a situation where, in the course of an interactive relationship, there are winners and losers. Think of this like a home poker game. If there are five players, and I win $50, then the sum of the losses of the other players are $50. If there is a winner then there must be losers.
ZSG easily lend themselves to exploitation, so it’s not surprising that many advocates of animal rights buy into this notion. They assume that all relationships where humans interact with animals are exploitive in nature.
The thing is, not all relationships, or even most relationships are ZSGs. This has been born out with the idea of trade. Centuries ago, the dominant idea was that trade was good for one country (the exploiter) and hence, bad for another (the exploitee). This notion, known as mercantilism, helped usher in the brutal practice of imperialism. Since then, economists (starting with Adam Smith) noted that trade could be, and often is, good for all parties involved. A simple example: if I have a field that grows wheat very well, and you have a field that grows corn very well, it makes no sense for me to grow any corn on my field or for you to grow any wheat on yours. Instead, we should each specialize in what we grow best, and maximize output, and trade with each other. We will have more overall if we do that. This is known as a positive-sum game (PSG). Note that not all positive-sum relationships have to be mutually beneficial, but PSGs are necessary but not sufficient for a mutually beneficial relationship. There are three types of PSGs involving two sets of actors: one where one party wins and another loses, another where one wins and the other yields little to no benefit but is not harmed, and the last where all parties involved win (mutually beneficial PSGs).
Can our relationships with animals be mutually beneficial PSGs? Yes, I believe they can. Many of us have such relationships in the form of having pets. (Some more radical advocates of AR believe that even pets are a form of exploitation, but I would argue that is an extreme position in the AR community.) This is a mutually beneficial relationship in that we provide food, shelter, and health care to an animal to degree that he would not receive in the wild. In turn, we receive companionship (and, as is the case with my cat, a hell of a lot of amusement). This is a win-win relationship, hence it is a PSG.
ZSG relationships include, most notably, factory farming for both dairy and meat. I think this clearly extends to “free range” animal agriculture as well. (One could even argue, that given the health problems associated with meat and dairy consumption, this is actually a negative-sum relationship which harms both parties.) Animal testing for cosmetic or medical purposes also is a ZSG. This would extend to the production of most dairy and the production of most eggs as well (even the “humane” alternatives).
Mutually beneficial PSGs include pets (which I do not morally consider ownership), and some traditional and, in the west somewhat rare instances of production of animal products. This includes one unusual example of a woman who has rescued chickens, who she feeds and provides shelter. In turn, she consumes the eggs. Let’s say she were to sell some of these eggs. Does that make this an exploitive relationship? I would argue it does not based on the logic I discussed above – just because someone benefits from a relationship does not mean the other party necessarily loses.
I think it’s important to understand the difference between a ZSG and a PSG in order properly categorize exploitive versus non-exploitive relationships. Doing this allows us to move beyond absurd and offensive views many less intelligent AR advocates express. (I have actually seen an idiot compare a person riding horses from a family farm to human slavery!) This “test” gives us a logical guideline by which to go beyond making arguments based on emotion and vitriol to making arguments based on sound, logical reasoning.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
After our relationship ended I swore to myself I would not seriously date another meat eater. Not eating animals is simply that important to me. I don’t think people that meat eaters are bad people, but I’m not going to compromise this. The disadvantage here is obvious: it limits my options. But I have to stay true to myself, and my values.
After my marriage I got into a very serious relationship with a vegan girl. I’m not going to go into spill-my-guts details here, but I will just say that it ended with my being very hurt, and wound up propelling me into a months-long legitimate depressive episode where I could barely function. I am now, thankfully, on the other side of that chapter of my life. However, unlike with my divorce, there is a lot of resentment and animosity here (on my part at least).
So over the past several months I have been doing a lot of dating. As I was married during most of the “prime” dating years of my twenties, this is something completely new to me. And now that I am “on the market” I am playing by rules where I won’t seriously date anyone who is not at least a pescetarian. I will casually date (and have done so, semi-rarely) some girls that eat meat, though honestly it does make me a little uncomfortable when eating out, but I deal. So, I have never had a “normal” dating life, and I realize I probably never will, and I am totally okay with that. Regardless, the whole process has led me to learn a lot about myself.
So anyway, here are some observations about veggie dating (and dating in general I guess):
It is much easier to guys to be picky about dating based on eating habits than women. The reason? Basic dating economics: more chicks are vegetarians. I see female friends of mine that have a lot of trouble finding a veggie guy, and simply cannot be as picky as me. I am in a hell of a lot better position than they are, so I certainly can’t judge them.
Some people are just fucking mean. Sometimes there is simply nothing there between two people – there is no spark. Sometimes there is the unfortunate “one-sided” spark where one person feels something but not the other. Unfortunately, this happened to me a few months ago, with me being the sparkee. The other person obviously didn’t feel anything. How do I know? She cut off all contact. All of it. No goodbye, no “I’m sorry but there just isn’t anything there,” nothing. While this was far from a life altering event, in the midst of my depression it was not a reassuring experience.
People are going to get hurt. Dating is a blood sport, metaphorically speaking. I am reminded of a common theme in the best TV show ever, The Wire: “it’s all in the game.” Meaning, there are some inherent dangers in the endeavor. You are probably going to get hurt in some way shape or form, and unfortunately you are probably going to hurt somebody, no matter how hard you try not to. There are certain precautions you can put in place. The main one is simply honesty. Be honest with her and (perhaps more difficultly) yourself. If there is nothing there, tell her. However, hurt will still happen, just hopefully not as much than if you were not deceptive. I have put in a conscientious effort to not hurt anyone, and I have failed. Now I have not devastated anyone the way I was devastated, but my hands aren’t clean either, no matter how hard I tried to keep them so. You can’t make yourself feel too guilty about it though. It’s really part of the game. The best you can do is to treat other people with consideration and respect.
Confident guys are more successful at dating. A lot of guys think the assholes get all the girls, and this is not necessarily the case. I have seen lots of self proclaimed “nice guys” complain about how all the nice girls date jerks. I have noticed this to an extent, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the asshole factor chicks go for. It’s confidence. In college I was too shy, awkward and introverted to be very successful at dating. I was scared at getting shot down. After college I took comfort in the safety of relationships to shield myself from what I thought was the harshness of the cutthroat world of dating. Since then I have developed a lot of confidence. I am not scared to ask a girl out. I am not ashamed when I get turned down – it happens. I will kiss a girl if I like her, or at least try to.
Overall, being single is not bad. There are pitfalls sure. Again, someone will get hurt, and while hurting people is not okay, it’s important to realize that it’s part of what you sign up for. I’m not going to get too much into my own situation because this blog is more about vegetarianism in St. Louis than bullshit details and journal entries.
Anyway, I hoped someone finds this perspective on dating from the perspective of a straight vegan male useful, enlightening, interesting, or at least good for a laugh.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Why “freedom”? Because fuck those freedom hating French, that’s why – whenever America wants to liberate a country it’s those pesky French that have a problem with it. Anyway – we kicked their commie asses in doublya-doublya two, so… yeah. Soup this good deserves an AMERICAN name!
Here is what I do to make it:
Peel and thinly slice 3 lbs of yellow onions, and sauté in a mixture of margarine (I use Earth Balance) and extra virgin olive oil. I use probably about 4-5 tablespoons total – that might feel fatty but this is traditionally a fatty soup. Caramelize the onions on medium-high heat – this might take a bit of time, so be patient.
I added about 6 cloves of chopped garlic when the onions start getting a nice brownish color, and let them cook for a couple of minutes.
Then I deglazed with 2/3rd cups of white wine. I like to use Three Buck Chuck, but whatever you want to use is fine. Turn the heat up to high and add some fresh cracked black pepper. Then I added 5 cups of veggie broth, which I had warmed up on the side with a couple of bayleaves.
Bring this up to a simmer, and cover on low heat. Let it cook for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Add salt to taste (though I didn’t need any).
Put it in the fridge and serve it for that rad girl that is coming over for dinner tomorrow night. :)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I never meant this blog to be a personal sounding board, but I also never intended to go months without posting on it. Oh well, I blame the chemical reactions in my brain that were a response to life changing events, maybe not all of them bad (buying a house, for example). I met some awesome people in the past several months. Some of it was through dating, some just randomly. I am moving on with my life now, and hope to blog more. Getting out of depression is hard. I hope it's not as hard to find out who I am now. I have heard the Japanese think that depression is a transformative experience. I can definitely see that.
I want to post a recipe to it has at least the pretence of relevance for this blog. Both my omni mom and Cokaru both loved this, and will testify to its beef stewedness. I just make this recipe up in my head, tried it, then wrote down what I did on my Facebook page. I was really happy with the results.
“Beef” (seitan) stew:
2 medium small onions, largely diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 small celery stalks I needed to use before they went bad, chopped
9 small red potatoes, chopped
^^ saute all this until the onions start to caramelize
Add in half a head of minced garlic, half a standard bag of frozen sweet peas, and the "beef" -- the equivalent of a standard (9oz?) package of seitan (though mine is homemade, so I eyeballed it. I use the recipe from The Veganomicon, which they also use here). Chop it up into chunks.
Deglaze with a bottle of Schlafly Oatmeal Stout. Add in several sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped and three bayleaves. Add some red pepper flakes, and the equivalent of a standard container of veggie broth (though I use Better than Bullion)
Bring it up to a boil, then simmer covered while you type what you just did on Facebook.
Get up to go stir it, tasting it to make sure it doesn't suck. I added an arrowroot slurry to thicken it up a bit.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Well, I noticed that today I have a lot of energy. It feels just like I took one of those energy shots. Instead this morning I took a B vitamin supplement I got at Trader Joe’s. I try not to be a mindless consumer in general, so I did a bit of investigating on this 5 Hour Energy thing, and the claims of the company, as well as my own beliefs on it. Turns out I was really just buying into the company’s bullshit.
Do B vitamins give you energy? Yes and no. Turns out they unlock the ability of your body to metabolizing carbs. And as a vegan, I sometimes don’t get enough B vitamins, especially B 12, which omnis and l/o veggies don’t have as much of a problem with. Well, I can tell you that I do have lots more energy after taking B 12 supplement – pretty much the same way I feel after the 5 Hour Energy.
So, is the 5 Hour Energy a scam? I won’t go that far. Let’s just say the stuff is a really expensive B vitamin supplement. You will better off just drinking a cup of coffee with a B vitamin pill from Trader Joe’s or something. I am just posting this since it seems that a lot of vegans who (like me) might be running a little low on the B 12 can feel a very real effect from 5 Hour Energy, and be convinced that stuff is some sort of magical elixir. I just wish I had figured this out sooner. I could have saved some money.