Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Another Bad Vegan Experience

You can add my story, Matt. I was vegetarian and already doing some animal advocacy when someone let me have it for not being vegan. I almost quit veg and advocacy right there. BTW, the someone who attacked me is still with a vegan group.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Example of a Bad Vegan Encounter

Hi Matt,

I read something you had said about vegans not being overly critical of people, as doing so can turn people off. That it hit home. I used to think I was a vegetarian but I was rudely told I am a pescatarian as I do eat fish. I stopped eating meat 2 years ago, but I still eat fish. I'm working on stopping that, but for some reason, I am having a difficult time.

I guess I have come a long way, tho, because I was a huge meat eater and I was one of those people who was disconnected from saving animals yet eating beef, pork, and chicken.

But this is what I want to say: I have been chastised like a child, heavily criticized, and called names by vegans here on FB because I still eat fish. While I understand the message, and again, I'm trying and working towards stopping, I am so turned off and angry over so-called "peaceful" people. Vegans even have a problem with vegetarians for God's sake.

I am still continuing to strive to not eat fish as I said, so what nasty people say doesn't influence me in that way, but it still pisses me off in a sense. Does that make sense? Your message that vegans shouldn't be over critical is right on the mark.

I do see many people who think about becoming a vegetarian or a vegan do let the nasty people change their decision, which is unfortunate. Thank you for not being one of the mean ones.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


From Anne's friend Bill Kaufman, at his hummingbird feeder (click for larger):

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trader Joe's!

Our friends at World of Vegan have a new video up about their favorite items at Trader Joe's:

Olive Tapenade
Black Bean & Corn Enchiladas (Cheaper than Amy’s)
Island Soyaki
Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough (near marinara sauce)
Vegan Marshmallows
Dark Chocolate Crisps
Thai Vegetable Gyoza
Chocolate Chips
Spicy Lentil Wrap
Thai Green Curry
Vegetable Panang Curry
Japanese Fried Rice
Soy Chorizo
Kettle Corn
Cherry chocolate chip ice cream
Mediterranean hummus (for the pine nuts)

I asked on my Facebook page for suggestions, and got a lot of the above plus:

Cinnamon rolls (fridge)
Toffee super nutty cluster cereal
Vegan Mochi
Tofu salad rolls w/ peanut sauce (fridge)
Vegetable spring rolls
Soft Pretzels
Raspberry-lemon-strawberry bars
Dark chocolate covered almonds
Dark chocolate covered cherries
Belgian dark chocolate bars
Dried fruit (especially dried blueberries, every day!)

Also: Single serving guac! This is life changing!

Leave any other ideas in comments. Thanks!

Monday, September 18, 2017

What One Step Can Do

A number of people have come out of the wordwork to say One Step doesn’t have a huge, long-term study to prove our approach is better than just continuing to push veganism. All the facts that drive One Step are therefore irrelevant and are thus ignored.

Here’s the amusing thing: We do have a long-term large-scale study to show the outcome of vegan advocacy. And the outcome is simple and straightforward:

Record levels of suffering.

Unlike others, this result makes us want to do better. Here’s a story from One Step advisor Dan Kuzma about how we can do better.

I have been busy giving guest lectures to start off the semester, and my two favorites were when I got to talk to a Writing 2 class regarding One Step For Animals (in order to give them some potential research topics). I distributed 1S booklets to each student in the two classes.

My presentation consisted of a basic introduction, showing the One Step Matters video, then elaborating further by showing the two graphs regarding farmed animals. I made a point of always coming back to animals, specifically chickens.  I asked the class: How many chickens are in a bucket of chicken?  How many buckets of chicken do you think people consume?  I also noted the cost of chicken per pound and cited Chipotle's pricing for meats - chicken is $0.50 cheaper than Steak and Carnitas.

I mentioned how One Step is different from other organizations, based on our decades of experience and learning from our mistakes, while using current data regarding consumption trends and studies on effective advocacy to hone in on what is conceivably the best approach to reduce animal suffering.  I also made certain to not alienate anyone or make it seem like the talk was about me, even though I had to talk a bit about myself and share my Steps in getting here. (We know that people like stories, so this helped maintain attention.) I did speak briefly on health and well-being by sharing my story because it added some humor. When I was 16 and seeking more information about vegetarian health and nutrition, my then-doctor basically lied to me. I told them not to be misled by any claims of inferiority or superiority regarding meatless diets. Always track the source!

I got some great questions and feedback, one regarding One Step's overall goal - reduce suffering or stop the slaughter?  I told the student that we would all like to see the slaughter stop. But we know that nothing, including civilizations, changes overnight. So we want to reduce suffering now. If the slaughter stops 100 years from now, at least fewer animals suffered in that time, rather than more animals suffering while waiting for liberation to occur.  We especially don't want more animals to suffer when people could have easily taken practical steps, such as excluding chickens from their diet.  It may not seem like a great deal for the cows, pigs, and sheep, but let's remember how many chickens it takes to fill a bucket of chicken - how many wings, how many breasts, how many thighs/legs?

I also got a question about laws to protect animals, to which I asked the class, Who drives over the speed limit? Do you always get pulled over when you speed?  I mentioned there is some strength in recognition by laws, but the lack and futility of enforcement weakens the laws. I referenced undercover videos of factory farms to illustrate that the industry is not scared of breaking laws. And since politics changes, we cannot rely upon laws completely. 

I had a couple students tell me after the presentation that they were not aware of all of this and that they were very impressed with the One Step approach. One student told me that the estimated 24 chickens per year is probably too conservative based on how many chickens he thinks is in a bucket of chicken and how much chicken that he and his family and friends consumes. He said he is going to seriously attempt to eliminate chicken from his diet, acknowledging the data provided by One Step and the overall arguments for reducing animal suffering.  He said he also likes the format of the booklet - it is not wordy, it visually appealing, the message is clear and well-received, including great recommendations for how to take One Step.

“I want to punch that kid in the face.”

A friend of mine posted about an encounter one of her daughters had in kindergarten. Another five year old told her that her sandwich looked “gross.” No big deal, a five-year-old boy calling something “gross.” Didn't abuse an animal, didn't endorse hurting animals, didn't throw bologna in her face. (But if he had, remember: 5 years old.)

A vegan publicly commented on the Facebook thread, “I want to punch that kid in the face.”

OK, you might think this is extreme. But I monitor the comment threads for One Step’s online outreach. These ads reach between 1.5 and 2.5 million people a month. And you would not believe the hateful things vegans say to others on those threads.

Watching all this on a daily basis, it is absolutely not surprising to me that vegans are hated, and about as popular as drug addicts. We can complain about this, or deny it. We can even rationalize it, as if this is a “good” or even a “necessary” thing.

Or we can stop obsessing about a word, and actually focus on animals.

What would that look like? First, we would stop using any “v” word. If we can't make our case just talking about animals, we need to rethink our case. Second, we should rethink our message.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lincoln and the First Step

We finally watched the movie Lincoln, and found it amazingly relevant. The hero is clearly Thaddeus Stevens (played by Tommy Lee Jones, shown here). More than anyone, he had reason to preach no compromise on equality, demand full abolition of any and all discrimination, and insist on nothing less than full and total rights immediately. He clearly would have been justified in raging with hatred at the venomous racists in congress (even a century-and-a-half later, knowing history vindicates Thaddeus, it is difficult not to be outraged when watching a re-enactment of this long-past debate).

Yet Rep. Stevens didn’t give in to his understandable anger. Instead of being “true to himself” – justified and righteous, and on the losing side – he chose possible progress over personal purity, incremental advance over impotent anger.

This – progress over purity – is my hard-won mantra. I wish one of us had summarized it as well as Jonathan Safran Foer, who, in his interview with Vegan.com’s Erik Marcus, explained the two motivations for his book Eating Animals: 1. To be useful, not thorough; 2. To get new people to consider taking the first step, rather than demanding the last.

I was reminded of this on Facebook recently. Our friends at Compassion Over Killing have VegWeek, a positive, inviting / non-intimidating way to get new people interested in taking the first step. But in a FB post promoting VegWeek, all the judgers came out of the woodwork: “Why just a week?? Be vegan forever!” “When you say ‘veg,’ you had better mean Vegan!!” Etc.

Of course, we all want our views and convictions to be validated, especially when in the minority. But the question is: Do we seek to justify our views / demand our position, or do we want to get as many people as possible to take a step that helps animals? We may, like Thaddeus Stevens, burn with righteous anger, but we can also recognize that to make real progress to reduce real suffering, we need to get past our fury and embrace effective, thoughtful, focused advocacy.

If we really care about the animals first and foremost, we can abolish our personal desires and demands. We can see past our rationalizations, and focus instead on making real, practical progress for the animals who are suffering to death every day. To do so requires opening the hearts and minds of others – there is no way around it. And helping new people open their hearts and minds isn’t done by anger and hatred, but by compassion and understanding.

You and I have each other for support;. Animals need us to be uncompromising and unwavering in our dedication to helping them as best we can.

From 2014.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

You are alive because of these two unknown Soviets

If you were born after 1963, you are alive because of these two men, acting decades apart. I was 49 before I knew both stories. You will want to read these stories. Amazing.

Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov: You (and Almost Everyone You Know) Owe Your Life to This Man.

Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World by Doing ... Nothing

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Are u for or against veganism"

My favorite exchange from the storm brought about by suggesting we shouldn't scream at people:

YP: Are u for or against veganism
I'm really confused now I'm sorry honestly

MB: That is a great question.
I am pro-animal and anti-cruelty and suffering.
Given the public's opinion of "vegan" and "veganism" (as documented here in How Vegans Hurt Animals), I am entirely convinced that animals would be much better off if, at least in the US, we abolished the word "vegan," and only chose to talk in terms of animals and consequences.

YP: Matt Ball thank u for explaining
I agree with you now in what your saying completely

Monday, September 11, 2017

Why We're WINNING!

Why are vegans as popular as drug addicts? Why is per-capita consumption of animals at an all-time high?

Here is a hint: If I post something on Facebook suggesting we not scream at people, I get far, far more comments than anything else I ever post. If you want to set people off, question the efficacy of screaming at people in terms of actually helping animals. If you thought meat eaters were master rationalizers....

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Quite Probably My Favorite Recipe

Here's the thing about my cooking: I rarely make a recipe the exact same way twice.

I'll vary it by what we have on hand, what was on sale, etc. Especially with a recipe like the below, nothing will go wrong (e.g., it isn't a soufflĂ© that will fall if everything isn't exactly right). It is in keeping with our protein / veggies / carb / sauce approach to meals -- nothing magic, exotic, or difficult.

So here's the general recipe, and then notes / variations.
  • 1 medium onion (generally red)
  • 2 peppers (generally a red and a yellow)
  • Some form of "strips" of veggie meat (we use a package of Tofurky strips, but have used half a package of Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips. You could use cut-up Boca Burgers or Gardein's Ultimate Beefless Burger.)
  • 1 apple (optional)
  • Bottle of Enchilada Sauce (we generally use Trader Joe's; can use salsa)
  • Oil as needed
Tortilla shells (or taco shells, or just chips)

I cut up about 1/3 of the onion into thick strips and saute them on medium heat for a few minutes. I stir in about 2/3 of a pepper (cut into thick strips) for a minute or two, then the chicken-less strips for a few minutes.

After 3-4 minutes, I add in another 1/3 of the onion, in thinner strips. After another 3-4 minutes, I add about 2/3 or a full pepper, also cut into thinner strips. After 1-2 minutes, I put in pieces of the apple and pour in the enchilada sauce; reduce heat to simmer. After a few minutes of simmering, it is good to go!

I serve on tortillas with shredded brick Daiya, along with Follow Your Hearts' vegan bleu cheese dressing, Hampton Creek's Awesome Sauce, Tofutti Sour Supreme, a homemade dip, Annie's Goddess dressing, or vegan ranch dressing. (I add habanero sauce for mine.)

We'll have any leftovers with rice and chips the next day.

By adding in the onion and pepper at different times, some will be well-cooked, and some will still be crunchy. (I generally save some onion and pepper for a future dish; e.g., Tofurky Italian Sausage w/ sauce, or for taco meat.) I also add in other vegetables, based on what we have on hand -- last time, I put in green beans -- the right size, and crunchy too! Putting the apple in at the last moment leaves those pieces crunchy as well.


Monday, September 4, 2017

The Wages of Sin, Continued

More feedback:

“Last night, a close (non-vegetarian) friend mentioned out of the blue how much he liked your Vox video, which he had discovered on his own.

“He directed Hooked Rx, a documentary broadcast on AZPM that I believe played a role in the increased public consciousness about the US opioid crisis, so I trust his judgments about quality, high-impact journalism.”