Earlier this week, Mark Bittman wrote an opinion piece called “Why I’m Not a Vegan” in the New York Times. Mixed in with the human-health and environmental arguments for eating less animal products, was the actual explanation promised by the title. It basically comes down to three points: 1) He doesn’t grasp that veganism extends beyond diet, 2) he thinks humans have a right to exploit other species, and 3) he likes to eat other animals.
I can kind of excuse the first reason because Bittman is a food writer. Perhaps everything is about food for him. That he’s not a vegan because he buys leather shoes wouldn’t even cross his mind. He wrote a whole book about being vegan for a few hours a day, and he sure as heck just means in terms of diet.
As to the other two points, I’ll let him speak for himself:
I can see three scenarios that might lead to universal, full-time veganism: An indisputable series of research results proving that consuming animal products is unquestionably “bad” for us; the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to “exploit” our fellow animals for our own benefit; or an environmental catastrophe that makes agriculture as we know it untenable. All seem unlikely.
I’ve been thinking about it for three days and I still have no idea what the quote marks around “exploit” mean. But I’m pretty sure that at the very least they mean Bittman doesn’t think “we” exploit “our fellow animals”. No, we just … Continue Reading…
So the New York Times’s “Well” blogger Tara Parker-Pope and her daughter were inspired by Bill Clinton’s “vegan diet” to “go vegan”, and she wrote an article about it called “How to Go Vegan”. She doesn’t say why they are “going vegan”, which is more than a little strange. Based on the post, my best guess is they did it because they think Bill Clinton is cool and they want to be just like him.
Of course, Bill Clinton doesn’t actually follow a vegan diet (he admits as much), and I don’t think anyone’s ever claimed he avoids animal exploitation in non-dietary contexts.
To state that “going vegan” means simply following a vegan diet is to pretty much miss the point of veganism. Is Parker-Pope checking all her personal-care products to make sure they don’t contain animal ingredients? Is she getting bent out of shape by how hard it is to find lip balm without beeswax or lanolin? Is she agonizing over the flu vaccine being incubated in fertilized battery chicken eggs? Is she newly concerned with how to keep dry and warm all winter without leather, wool, or down? Doesn’t sound like it. But that’s what vegans do. And we do it for reasons other than celebrity worship, and for reasons beyond our own personal physical health. We do it for the sake of the animals we’re not exploiting.
So, OK, with all that out of the way, is this post a decent primer on switching to a vegan diet? Sort of. Continue Reading…
On her TV show today, Ellen Degeneres, who is frequently mentioned as an example of a celebrity vegan, had a conversation with actress Ellen Pompeo about Pompeo’s backyard chickens, exchanging all manner of trivializing light banter. But the real humdinger comes when Ellen mentiones that “we” (presumably Ellen and her wife Portia de Rossi) “have neighbors that have chickens, we get our eggs from those chickens, cause they’re happy, they’re really happy chickens”:
And maybe those particular chickens are happy. And if they are, good for them. I hope that in addition to being protected from hawks and coyotes as Ellen worries about, they are also well cared for into their old age, just as a family cat or dog would be.
Maybe these chickens don’t dwell on the fact that their brothers, uncles, nephews, and other male relatives were virtually all killed at birth for being “useless”. Maybe they don’t dwell on the fact that many of their mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, and other female relatives will die from lack of adequate health care, or due to dangerous housing or transport. Maybe they don’t mind that they were bred, raised, sold, and shipped as a commodity. And maybe they don’t care that humans collect and eat their equivalent to menstrual waste. (I’m just talking about rich peoples’ backyard chickens here; not even getting into the horrors that befall their factory-farmed cousins.) Continue Reading…
PETA had sued the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, which issues the permit for the event, saying it’s illegal and cruel.
“Citizens are prohibited from capturing and using wild animals for pets or amusement,” Judge Fred Morrison wrote in his ruling. The commission “had no authority to issue any permit to Logan for the unlawful public display of a native wild animal” at the drop, Morrison wrote.
(I learned via Wikipedia that they do an event in Tallapoosa, Georgia also called a Possum Drop, but as that event’s website loudly states, “We Do Not Use A Live Opossum. It Is Stuffed.” I’m not sure if that means a fake possum or a taxidermied one, and, well, maybe I don’t really want to know.)
Not that you need an excuse to shop, but Mooshoes is celebrating its 10th anniversary this Saturday, Dec. 3, with a 15% discount on all in-store purchases, plus beverages and snacks from Blossom du Jour and Dun-Well Doughnuts.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, head over to Pianos on the Lower East Side for some Freerange Nonfiction and listen while Hannah Tinti, Alison Espach and Alison Smith read from their animal-related books. The event’s $8 cover will directly benefit Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. For more information on this and other happenings in New York City, check out our Events Calendar.
In other atrocities, the USDA released its 2010 Dairy Checkoff Report, and the results are, well, atrocious: In 2009, $108 million was spent promoting milk, while $283 million was used to push dairy products like cheese. Is this really how we want our tax money spent?
On a lighter note: Sending out holiday cards? Be sure to order a book of PETA’s stamps featuring veggie celebs, now through January. The stamps, which can be purchased online, are available as of today and feature famous faces such as Woody Harrelson, Chrissie Hynde, Bob Barker and Morrissey, plus historical notables including da Vinci, Tolstoy and Pythagoras. Celebs aren’t always the most consistent carrot eaters, but they do help expose the mainstream to the cause.
For the young compassionate people in your life: The Vegetarian Resource Group is giving away two $5,000 college scholarships to vegetarian high schoolers graduating in the spring of 2012. If you know a senior who lives and promotes the veg lifestyle, make sure he or she applies by Feb. 20.