Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Korean bullfighting just as cruel as others

Today’s New York Times featured an article by Choe Sang-Hun about the rising popularity of bullfighting in South Korea. The South Korean government plans to legalize ringside gambling, a move that is expected to increase spectatorship and interest in the sport.

Sang-Hun outlines the differences between Korean and Spanish bullfighting, attempting to show that Korean bullfighting is more humane since there is no matador and the bulls rarely die in the ring.

Sang-Hun gives a dismissive nod to the issue of animal rights in the last two paragraphs. When asked if he was concerned about animal abuse charges, rancher-trainer Kang Myoung-chul is quoted saying “[A]ll male herd animals fight each other for reproduction. This is not about man conquering nature, as in Spanish bullfighting. We are simply observing nature in action.”

Sang-Hun does, however, explain that the owners “bind the young bull’s horns with wires to shape them into weapons” and that the bulls are often given copious amounts of alcohol before a match, a tactic used in Spanish bullfighting to disorient and frustrate the bull. Somehow these practices do not fall into Sang-Hun or Kang’s definition of animal cruelty. I’d like to see these bulls in nature who acquire and consume alcohol before they fight—with crippled horns—for an invisible mate.

Ingrid Newkirk on PETA's euthanasia policy

PETA has come under intense criticism for their policy of euthanizing many of the companion animals they rescue. The Center for Consumer Freedom recently published a document showing that PETA killed 95 percent of "adoptable pets" in its care during 2008, an average of 5.8 animals per day.

Per reader request, here is PETA president Ingrid Newkirk's defense of their policy. In an article entitled "Why We Euthanize," Newkirk writes,
In my first year working at a grossly substandard animal shelter in Maryland, I forced myself to go in early to euthanize dogs by holding them in my arms and gently helping them escape an uncaring world without trauma or pain and to spare them from being stabbed haphazardly—while they were fully conscious, terrified and aware—in the general vicinity of their hearts with needles blunt from reuse and left to thrash on the floor until they finally died by the callous people who would arrive later to do the job.

I always wonder how anyone cannot recognize that there is a world of difference between painlessly euthanizing animals out of compassion—aged, injured, sick, and dying animals whose guardians can't afford euthanasia, for instance—as PETA does, and causing them to suffer terror, pain, and a prolonged death while struggling to survive on the streets, at the hands of untrained and uncaring "technicians," or animal abusers...
Read the entire article here. Newkirk goes on to explain that it is easy to blame PETA for doing the "dirty work," but that euthanasia is often the most humane option for sick and unwanted animals. She contends that as long as the pet industry exists, sick, abused and neglected animals will need PETA's assistance to die as painlessly as possible.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Milkiest Non-Milk

As a vegan who could never stand the taste of soymilk (call me a heretic, if you will), I'm always on the lookout for alternative non-dairy milks. I've tried almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, and 'multigrain milk,' whatever the heck that is. Again and again, I have been disenchanted by watery, sugary, outrageously-priced, extraterrestrial-tasting, concoctions, that nobody, not even horrible, abominable people, like whoever invented the Grapple, should have to put in their morning cereal.

The other day, just as I was on the brink of surrendering the quest for a delectable, milky non-milk, I stumbled upon this blog entry with a recipe for homemade hemp milk. I happened to have some hemp seeds lying around, so I ventured to give it a go.

The result was unexpected: a creamy, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, only mildly-weird tasting brew that definitely topped, in my opinion, any store-bought milk (including store-bought hemp milk). Hemp has a singular flavor that takes some getting used to, but after just a few sips I was won over. My fellow taste-testers shared my enthusiasm.

Nutritionally speaking, hemp appears to outshine soy. A cup of hemp milk has about 14 grams of protein (though this figure varies depending on the brand of hemp seed). Hemp is also rich in Iron, B vitamins, Magnesium and Zinc (though it lacks the calcium and B12 of fortified soymilk). On the con side, hemp is less widely available, as hemp farming is outlawed in the United States (hemp belongs to the genus Cannabis, though it lacks the mind-altering traits of its popular cousin). If you can't find hemp at a local grocer, you can purchase from Amazon, or if you want to support a vegan grocery, from Food Fight, at a slightly higher price.

Earthlings, and some eating

Many of you may have seen Earthlings, by far one of the best films about animals. The Brown Animal Rights Club recently hosted a screening on campus, something that is always worthwhile. But although the film is generally well received, the segment about animal experimentation provokes skepticism.

Earthlings argues that scientific research on nonhuman animals does little to advance medical understanding because humans and other animals are physiologically different. The film goes so far as to claim that we can learn nothing about ourselves from such experiments. This claim is dubious at best. Are we really to believe that scientists have been fooling themselves all along, thinking their experiments were useful - - and that animal rights advocates somehow know better?

This is frustrating in an otherwise excellent documentary. Rather than make needlessly sweeping claims about all animal experimentation, we would do much better to emphasize how rarely the suffering caused can be justified by the objectives of the experiment.

On a lighter note, our group encouraged Earthlings attendees to join us for a vegetarian potluck later that week. The potluck was one of many Meatout events worldwide, and we enjoyed a variety of tasty dishes!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Peter Singer and Tyler Cowen on Eating Fish

Watch this conversation between philosopher Peter Singer and economist Tyler Cowen about the ethics of eating fish. Cowen questions the extent to which Singer applies utilitarianism's marginal analysis to fish consumption.

PETA celebrates victories prematurely

A recent PETA files blog post says "I told you so" in response to a Washington Post article about a new, definitive study that exposes the health dangers of red meat. The study, which boasts about its large sample size and thorough follow-up procedures, found that eating red meat decreases life expectancy.

PETA celebrates the recent coverage of articles such as this saying,
"We love to say 'We told you so.' And this time, what we've been telling you for years is finally making headlines. Here's the truth—drumroll, please—meat, as it turns out, is bad for you. Specifically, meat increases your chances of dying prematurely...This could end up as a real victory for our arteries—and for animals."

The researchers of the study, however, do not draw conclusions that are actually beneficial for factory farm animals. The article quotes Walter Willett, a nutritional expert at the Harvard School of Public Health, commenting on the study saying,

"The take-home message is pretty clear. It would be better to shift from red meat to white meat such as chicken and fish, which if anything is associated with lower mortality."

PETA somehow overlooks how detrimental conclusions like this are to the animals. As it takes significantly more fish and chickens--the mutilations of whom are some of the most egregious in the industry--to produce the amount of meat of a single cow or pig, statements about replacing red meat with chicken and fish should not be claimed as "victories" for the animals.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Perspectives on Abolition

In the articles linked to in the previous post, Gary Francione suggests that attempts at reforming and regulating animal industries are counterproductive and detrimental to animal rights. To share some alternate perspectives and maybe plant the seeds for discussion, here are a couple articles that present differing views on the value of incremental welfare reforms. First, here's an essay by Matt Ball of Vegan Outreach entitled “Welfare and Liberation: Mutually Exclusive?” Drawing lessons from the historical trajectory of the civil rights movement and other social justice causes, he contends that compromise and cooperation are essential ingredients for change in the animal rights movement. And here is a recent blog entry by Mark Hawthorne (the author of Striking At The Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism) entitled “Are Animal Advocates Sleeping with the Enemy?” To get at the question of how aligned animal welfare efforts really are with industry interests, he surveys some recent agribusiness responses to Proposition 2, straight out of industry trade publications. Interesting stuff.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gary Francione discourages students from pursuing AR law

Gary Francione spoke at Princeton this month, where the unexpectedly high turnout made him remark that we would “now all know what it’s like to be a battery-cage hen.”

He discouraged students from pursuing legal action for animals rights, saying that this often requires devoting large sums of money to regulate abuse of animals, rather to get rid of the abuse altogether. He said that all efforts should be put toward vegan advocacy, and if students do plan on pursuing animal rights law, they should seek to protect the rights of persecuted vegan advocates, rather than try to change industry practices.

He asked members of the audience to think of one animal rights legislative move that was not aligned with the goals of agribusiness. He cited examples such as humane slaughter laws that are marketing ploys and the PETA-advocated Controlled Atmosphere Killing techniques of Canadian KFC, which actually just reduces production costs. He said that animal law only reinforces the idea of animals as property, as it usually concerns veterinary malpractice cases, issues of pet ownership, and regulation of the industry.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cora Diamond, a "Fellow Creature" of Animal Ethics

By Jane Legge

Dogs and cats and goats and cows,
Ducks and chickens, sheeps and sows
Woven into tales for tots,
Pictured on their walls and pots.
Time for dinner! Come and eat
All your lovely juicy meat.
One day ham from Percy Porker
(In the comics he's a corker):
Then the breast from Mrs. Cluck
Or the wing from Donald Duck.
Liver next from Clara Cow
(No, it doesn't hurt her now).
Yes, that leg's from Peter Rabbit
Chew it well; make that a habit.
Eat the creatures killed for sale,
But never pull the kitty's tail.
Eat the flesh from "filthy hogs"
But never be unkind to dogs.
Grow into double-think-
Kiss the hamster; skin the mink.
Never think of slaughter, dear,
That's why animals are here.
They only come on earth to die,
So eat your meat, and don't ask why.

I first found this poem in a chapter Cora Diamond wrote over thirty years ago on animal ethics called "Eating Meat and Eating People." Diamond has a unique approach to the moral consideration of "animals" that is not your typical analytic run of logic as used by Peter Singer and Tom Regan. She argues that animals are morally considerable based upon our intuitive perception of them as "fellow creatures" who share a like existence as "human beings" who are intrinsically valuable as they are "human beings," not because of any single characteristic (i.e. sentience, rationality).Recently, a book was published as a response to her work on Philosophy & Animal Life as well as Nobel-prize winner J. M. Coetzee's works such as The Lives of Animals--a short, highly-recommended classic on animal ethics involving the fictional character Elizabeth Costello--and Disgrace.

It is quite surprising that she is not as well known among animal activists and academics since she is a very famous figure in her field of the Philosophy of Language and Wittgenstein. After all, this paper was written directly after Peter Singer's Animal Liberation (1975) and she has continued writing about animal ethics for the last thirty years. My suspicion is that the greater invisibility of her work is because of male privilege and the general privilege placed upon rational thought/Analytic philosophy in American universities. Though, I personally confess, that I find Singer's moral philosophy--which I no longer completely agree with--more convincing. But I think Diamond's arguments rightfully criticize Singer and other Analytics on their marginalization of disabled persons and their devotion to the morality of sameness (i.e. one has moral value based upon their proximity/similarity to each other, rather than having value as someone with different needs and a different consciousness).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poor Gal's Soup

Here is a recipe for a soothing soup when your wallet is looking bare, perfect for all us struggling students.

Poor Gal's Soup:
  • Tomatoes (fresh is best, but canned works or a combo of both)
  • Onion (for a milder soup, green onions are best but they are pricer)
  • Garlic (I like garlic so I use 3-4 cloves)
  • oil
  • Water
  • Seasoning: Optional but this is best with fresh thyme and a little S&P
    • Thyme*
    • Rosemary*
    • Oregano*
    • Pepper
    • Cayenne if you like the heat
    • Mix it up and use whatever you have on hand or like
*On a super budget, Italian seasoning will do and you can use granulated or powdered

This soup is great with just the bare minimal (water, tomatoes, flavorings), but some easy add ins include: Small quick cooking pasta, rice, beans or lentils, veggies like greens, zucchini, peppers and anything you like. This time I had some Quinoa (lucky me!) so I used that.

Heat your saucepan with a little bit of oil, chop your fresh garlic and onions add them to the oil and cooked until soft. If you like you can add your spices now to flavor the oil. Chop your tomatoes (or open your can). Add them as well, cook them for 3-4 minutes and then begin adding your water, it may look thin but as the tomatoes cook down you will begin to thicken the soup base into a surprisingly think and tasty broth.

Notes: if you are adding any extras like beans or veggies you can fry them with the tomatoes or simply add them after the water. Grains or pasta (uncooked) add them once the water is boiling.

This is a great light soup, easy for when you sick or studying, and filling when your fridge is bare.

Taste of Autum- Apple Cider Delights

Inspired by esme's post about apple cider doughnuts I figured it was about time Vegan House had some doughnuts. So I looked back to the last time I made doughnuts and decided to make my very own doughnut recipe based using the lovely Random Girl's as a jumping point.

If your anything like me you won't be spending all day crafting Doughnuts unless you'll have them for some time to come. So I usually double all recipes (sometimes triple), with that in mind the recipe yields more than your typical batch. So feel free to double and triple again if you like.

Autumn Cider Doughnuts

2 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 cup warm apple cider
1/2 cup vegetable margerine
1 cup sugar (I've used both brown and organic cane sugar, I suspect maple and other healthier sweeteners would work as well, so feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes)

2/3 cup more apple cider, warmed
Egg replacer equilivent to 4 eggs
4 cups whole wheat
all-purpose flour
3-4 cups all purpose unbleached flour (again, for healthier doughnuts you could get away with all WW but they may be denser) {I say 3-4 as I keep the fourth cup to help kneed the dough and have never used the full cup but it could happen}
1 tsp salt 2 tsp Cinnamon and Nutmeg (More or less depending on taste)
Oil for frying

Glaze: 2 cups confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup hot vanilla soymilk


Roll in:
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBS cinnamon
optional: vanilla

Dissolve the yeast packets in 1 cup of warm water and let the mixture stand until yeast clouds form (5-7 minutes).While your yeast is puffing up in a large saucepan, bring the first cup of cider to a boil. Add the margarine and sugar and stir until the margarine has melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and COOL [believe me, I know you want to skip this step, but DON'T!]. In a separate measuring cup dissolve egg replacer and water (follow package directions, or use your favorite egg replacer recipe). When your mixture has cooled, add the puffy yeast and more warm cider. Stir in the egg replacer and 4 cups of WW flour. Mix the heck out of it. Add remaining all purpose flour slowly, reserving one cup for kneading and add the salt and spices. Mix some more, at this point you'll need to abandon your spoon (if you haven't all ready) and get in there with your hands. Again add the flour slowly, its for your own good. Only use enough to make a soft and manageable dough. Make sure to scrap down the sides of your bowl and get all your dough out. Now take your dough to a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Using your remaining flour to help prevent sticking, work as much as you need into the dough. Place the dough into a large greased bowl, cover and let it rise. It should doubled in bulk after about an hour.

Now again, if you are anything like me you now need to pee and your kitchen is trashed. So use this time to clean up (it'll save you in the long run).
After the hour has elapsed and you've re-cleaned your kitchen, punch down your dough (this part is fun!).

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 inch in thickness. Cut out doughnuts with a a glass or roll dough into tiny dough nut holes. Place the doughnuts/dough wads a greased baking sheet space them an inch apart or so. Make holes if you want. Now let them rise again for 1 hour. Re-clean if you need to.

Now the exciting part, heat your oil to in a deep skillet or deep fryer (test with the end of a wooden spoon, if bubbles form you are ready to fry!) . Fry doughnuts in small batched (as many as will fit with outcrowding at a time), until golden on both side. Drain on paper towels or old paper bads. Prepare your glaze or your sugar coating. To make your glaze, mix everything untill smooth in a shallow bowl. While the doughnuts are hot (but not hot enough to burn you), coat them in glaze or roll in sugar. You may need to make more sugar and/or glaze as you go, the thicker the better in my books either way let your glaze dry into the delightful crunchy sweet goodness we associate with doughtnuts. Oh, and by the way if don't you dare waste any glaze or sugar mixture, if you wind up with too much once the doughnut glaze/sugar has hardened or set pour/drizzle the rest over top of you pile.

*See my last doughnut post for info on baking doughnuts, it is possible and healthier but it will change the texture/taste. If you are kosher with that, then go to town.

Enjoy! and eat some veggies for gods sake.

Miso and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

An amazingly delectable dish with added health benefits of miso, making the classic Mashed Potato a healthier indulgence.

This recipe is extremely simple, you may use whichever miso you have on hand, I used dark.

3 large potatoes (diced into small cubes, leaving the skins on! They are good for you and we're trying to be healthy here)
1/2 red onion minced
1 T olive oil
3 large cloves of roasted garlic
1/2 T miso
1 T soy milk
1/4 Cup EB

Chop you potatoes and boil in salted water until tender. Chop your red onion, preheat a cast iron skillet with Olive Oil and fry onions until crispy. While you wait on the potatoes combine the other ingredients and mash well (to insure there are no garlic chunks). Whip the miso mixture until smooth and combine with the cooked potatoes. Mash together. Top with your onions and enjoy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

If slaughterhouses had glass walls...

I’ve generally believed that the key to making people stop eating meat is to expose the abuse that occurs at factory farms. Surely when people understand that the neatly-packaged, well-cut slices of flesh they consume were once pieces of a fully-conscious animal, they will be repulsed enough to stop eating it.

It seems, however, that people are very quick to get over the initial shock they feel toward the suffering animals and are content in maintaining their cognitive dissonance between the food on their plates and the sorrow they feel.

Naked chef Jamie Oliver has been an advocate for transparency of the meat industry and better treatment of animals. In the following video, he goes through the process of making a chicken, starting with the slaughter. Notice the strong reaction members of the audience have even toward this very “humane” (used liberally, as I neither believe there is a way to kill humanely, nor do I agree with the androcentric assumption that the behavior of humans is inherently gentle) slaughter of chicks and the chicken.

This video seems to comment on the argument that humans are evolutionarily built to eat meat, as it shows that we are not even able to stomach watching animals be killed. I don’t think a cat, before she bites the head off of her pray, stops to weigh her moral options and shed tears over the suffering of her food.

Oliver’s absurd takeaway message isn’t that we should stop eating meat. He somehow concludes that we should both understand where our meat comes from and continue to eat it, saying that “I think you can want to eat chicken and care for its welfare and life.”

Ingrid Newkirk on The Colbert Report

PETA is offering $1 million to the scientist who can produce in vitro meat--that is, meat produced in a lab without killing animals. Would this be a revolutionary discovery that satisfies humans' insatiable desire for flesh, or would this prevent us from the more desirable goal of moving past the gustatory pleasures of meat? Watch PETA President Ingrid Newkirk talk about in vitro meat on the Colbert Report.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Demonstrations in Dining Halls

As a part of Princeton’s special residential college night dinners, one of the dining halls decided to feature this roast suckling piglet as the main entrĂ©e.

Although this form of abuse is not particularly egregious (the pig does not, in fact, care if he’s wearing sunglasses after he’s been brutally slaughtered), I had a strong visceral reaction to this flippant display of death.

The dinner inadvertently served the animal rights’ mission, as many non-vegetarian students were forced to see that their meat once had a face, body, tail, etc. The student response was surprisingly negative, as non-vegetarian students were reported saying things such as “It’s just disturbing” and “It reminds me of ‘Lord of the Flies.”

While we can thank Whitman college for helping students bridge the connections between the animals on the farm and the food on their plates, we should be wary of allowing these images to be normal dining occurrences. There is danger in creating a culture that is comfortable both with seeing the fully-formed dead pig and eating the meat.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Victory for downed cattle leaves others vulnerable

President Obama announced this weekend that downed cattle can no longer be slaughtered for food. This rule comes at the heels of widespread public criticism about the abuse of downed animals. Though it will be a milestone in terms of the protection of sick and injured animals, this measure is not enough as it excludes pigs, sheep, and goats.

To close the loopholes on the abuse of all sick species, click here.