Saturday, January 20, 2018

Three Billboards at the Green-Balls

Anne: "What color is that?"
Me: "Um, blue??"

Me: "I love you madly."
Anne: "Eat more kale."

[Having seen a reference to Dr. Oz.]
Anne: "I'm not a real doctor, but I am a real worm."

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Best Birthday Present Ever

As Facebook will tell you in a week, my birthday is on January 2. The best present would be a donation to One Step's maximum-harm-reduction work. One Step's matching donor only gives what we raise, no more, no less. So your contribution is truly doubled. Thanks for your consideration!

Photo by our friends at Vegans with Chickens

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Chocolate Crinkles!

These are the best cookies I make, but they take two days. Here is a much simpler version.

What is tough about these is that the original version is so very egg-intensive. That is why I have found using silken tofu to be necessary to supply the amount of bulk to them. Using that much banana changes the flavor, and things like ground flaxseed don't fill out the cookies enough. I do add ground flaxseeds to the cookies, though, just for the added nutrition. These cookies are thus a health food!   ;-)

Given that they are so intensive (relative to the amount of time I have for cooking), I double the below recipe. I make half one day, and the rest a week later (the dough keeps in the fridge just fine). Also, I have tried to bake the cookies the same day as I put the dough together, and they just don't come out as good. I don't know why refrigerating them overnight is important, but there you are.

  • 1/2 C vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 4 squares (4 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 C sugar
  • 4 eggs worth of substitute (I use ~1/4 C soft silken tofu for each egg)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 C flour (not whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 C powdered sugar

Soften (but don't completely melt) chocolate as you prefer (I put in a glass 2 C measuring cup and microwave on low until soft). Mix oil, vanilla, and egg substitute. Add in sugar and blend well. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together. Mix that into the oil mixture. Chill dough overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly oil cookie sheets (unless you have nonstick sheets). Take about a spoonful of dough, shape into a ball, and roll in the powdered sugar. Place about 2" apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes; they should spread out like in the picture above. Feed to non-vegans, and when they say how great they are, admit that the secret ingredient is tofu!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How Thinking About Death Can Influence How We Live Our Lives

The introduction (the first seven minutes) to this Sam Harris podcast on death is extremely profound. It had a pretty significant impact on how Anne and I have been thinking about our choices and our near future, having to make decisions about our careers and money vs the rest of our lives and our time together.

Personally, I didn't find the interview itself very compelling. Given that we're so far behind on podcasts, we stopped listening 2/3rds through. But I strongly advise taking just seven minutes to listen to Sam's introduction. I have tears in my eyes just listening to it again.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What is at stake

The bill to my health insurance company for the life-saving heart surgery I had last month was over $30,000. $30,000. Significantly more than Anne would net from a year teaching in the school district.

And yet Republicans are still trying to take health insurance away from millions upon millions of people.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

From Joe Espinosa

“25 years ago on this very evening, I attended my 3rd meeting of Students for Animal Rights at UIUC and let the group know that I had not eaten meat in 6 days, and did not think I ever could again. I realize that I am shall we say, a rather unusual person in going from an ag kid (learned dairy farming from my uncle age 6-13 and entered UIUC in the College of Ag) to dropping meat 21 days after seeing the number of suffering chickens and turkeys endure in modern farming.

 “Further evidence of the peculiarity is my volunteer work in animal protection, as no other volunteer has handed out 600,000 animal protection booklets. With that in mind, and the mountain of negative data to back up the rarity of someone going from meat eater to vegetarian or vegan very rapidly, and high recidivism if they do, we (Matt, Anne, Leslie and I) established One Step for Animals in 2014.

“One Step presents a more doable ask (avoiding bird flesh, even if replaced with the same amount of pig and cow flesh would still spare 25 of the 26 farmed land animals the average person eats each year) to current meat eaters. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 20 years animal protection has failed to increase the percentage of people who are vegetarian or vegan, nor more importantly decrease the number of animals raised and killed for food. Per person animal consumption is at an all time high.

“So let's take my 25 year vegeversary to reflect on the idea of doing the same thing and expecting different results, and perhaps try something new. One Step For Animals welcomes those who are serious about sparing animals rather than celebrating the word vegan. Be one of us.”

Monday, October 30, 2017

What We've Learned, Applied

As I mentioned in my previous post, over a decade ago, I gave a talk about how technology development on the supply side would be a prime driver for the end of factory farming.

Those of you who follow One Step For Animals know that we are driven by the cold hard fact that after decades of demand-side advocacy, per-capita consumption of animals is at an all-time high. To us, this demands that we take a new approach.

Given all this, I am beyond thrilled to announce that I'm starting a new job as a member of the communications team at The Good Food Institute.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'll have lots more to say about this over time. But for fans of One Step, rest assured: that work will continue forward! The One Step Team remains as dedicated as always to reducing as much suffering as possible.

Thanks so much to everyone! Your friendship and support over the years and decades have been more important than you'll ever know.

-Matt (& Personal Team)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

From 2006 – What Have We Learned?

More than a decade ago, Peter Singer invited me to be on a panel at Princeton with Jonathan Haidt. Professor Haidt gave the first presentation entitled, “Why Good Intentions Don’t Lead to Good Actions.” In this talk, Professor Haidt noted that whenever he was around Peter, he would decide to stop eating animals. But after he was home and into the routines of his life, he’d fall back into his old ways.

In my presentation, “Causing Good Actions Anyway,” I opened with why we should care (showing a brief clip of some of the cruelty farm animal face). Then I talked about how food technology will continue to advance such that people will eat whatever they want, but the products will be cruelty-free.

From 2006

I noted, “Compare a Boca burger today to one from 20 years ago, and just imagine how good a  veggie burger will be 20 years from now.”

From 2006

This very insightful new Vox article – “Ethical arguments won't end factory farming. Technology might.” – makes the same case Jonathan and I did in 2006. I would like to amplify several points here.

In the past, I’ve made statements similar to the Vox title, and I’ve always received pushback along the lines of “There is so much interest in veganism! It is growing by leaps and bounds – we have to keep pushing for [my exact personal view of ethical] veganism!”

But for most of the time since I stopped eating animals in the 80s, there has been no actual, bottom-line evidence of the growth of veganism or even vegetarianism. In fact, the percentage of people who don’t eat animals is more-or-less unchanged, even declining from 2012 to 2015 (but always within the margin of error).

There were a few years when the number of animals killed for food in the US went down, but that trend has reversed and per capita meat consumption is at an all-time high.

Yet I’m encouraged by two things. First is the current emphasis on and embrace of new food technologies.

I actually don’t think we need huge breakthroughs in tech to produce food that everyone will eat. I think the best plant-based foods out there now are good enough to satisfy most people most of the time. We can make plant-based food as satisfying and mouth-watering as what you would see on a TV commercial, but we often choose to go for hyper-healthy gourmet instead.

Will never be seen on a TV commercial.

That's more like it!

Unfortunately, products that are actually appealing aren’t all of equal quality, aren’t convenient, and aren’t quite cost competitive.

From 2006

I think convenience may be the biggest stumbling block.

If people could get a well-prepared Beyond Burger or something made with Tofurky strips as easily as anything else, many more people would choose more meat-free meals. But few people know the Impossible Burger even exists, let alone that they could cook with anything as amazing as Tofurky strips. All of those shortcomings – lack of awareness, convenience, and cost-competitiveness – is why The Good Food Institute's work is so essential.

The second thing that gives me hope is that many in the animal advocacy movement have grown beyond the dogma: “I have to stay true to myself and only advocate exactly what I want.” More and more advocates recognize the futility (at best) of an “all-or-nothing” approach, and now take a more realistic tact. We know there are many, many people like Dr. Haidt and Sean Illing (the interviewer in the Vox piece referenced above) – intelligent and thoughtful individuals who just won’t give up (animal) meat. Vox founder Ezra Klein makes the comparison to the Founding Fathers (minus Adams and Hamilton) who bemoaned the horrors of slavery, all while adding to their slave holdings.

Understanding this has led more and more groups and advocates to adopt incremental tactics and pursue realistic goals to reduce suffering (and drive up the cost of production). From abolishing cages to Meatless Mondays to slow-growth birds, more efforts are being put into actions that don’t (immediately) increase the number of vegans, but do actually impact many animals, and are able to reach new people.

Not surprisingly, I think One Step for Animals is the epitome of this pragmatic, harm-reduction trend in demand-side advocacy, as discussed here.

We know that many people who don’t think they can go veg would be willing (and are often eager) to make some change for the “better.” But the message that’s usually promoted – health, environment, animals – is almost always interpreted to apply first and primarily to mammals, leading to a lot more birds suffering. With One Step, the call for change will “do no harm,” and will prompt the most impactful realistic step anyone can take, no matter how much they love meat.

Postscript: At the meal after the Princeton talk, we were served a disgusting slab of undercooked tofu. It was as though the chef sought to mock my idea that plant-based foods could be tasty! Yet a week later, I received an email from Jonathan Haidt, saying that after my talk, he and his wife were really going to stop eating animals. This time, they really meant it!  :-)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sound Familiar?

“This is the mentality of a cult, in which fantastical beliefs are flaunted as proof of one’s piety. This mentality cannot coexist with an esteem for the truth.”
Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate