Monday, September 18, 2017

“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’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.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Cheers from Peers

Tobias has another great piece out about how harmful it is to judge your message based on the reaction of fellow vegans.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


I think I've shared this before, but if you've not seen it, this is amazing. Sadly, this is not longer the full version. But watch and enjoy!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Taking Suffering Seriously

One of the bloggers I read regularly went to the Global Effective Altruism conference. It is a useful take on how a highly intelligent and thoughtful individual outsider views the "movement."

I especially love the conclusion - something I've tried to convey for decades, and what drives us at One Step.

"I’m not much of an effective altruist – at least, I’ve managed to evade the 80,000 Hours coaches long enough to stay in medicine. But every so often, I can see the world as they have to. Where the very existence of suffering, any suffering at all, is an immense cosmic wrongness, an intolerable gash in the world, distressing and enraging. Where a single human lifetime seems frighteningly inadequate compared to the magnitude of the problem. Where all the normal interpersonal squabbles look trivial in the face of a colossal war against suffering itself, one that requires a soldier’s discipline and a general’s eye for strategy. 
"All of these Effecting Effective Effectiveness people don’t obsess over efficiency out of bloodlessness. They obsess because the struggle is so desperate, and the resources so few. Their efficiency is military efficiency. Their cooperation is military discipline. Their unity is the unity of people facing a common enemy. And they are winning. Very slowly, WWI trench-warfare-style. But they really are."

Thanks Scott! And thanks to everyone who supports maximum suffering reduction.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Kindness Costs Nothing

From my sister, Mary Alyssa:

I had to go to the DMV yesterday to get license plates. I went to one that is normally not very busy and where I have had much luck in the past getting in and out in record time. That wasn't the case yesterday. I waited nearly 45 minutes for the 9 people between me and my number to be dealt with it. It wasn't fun. We all know the DMV is pretty much the 5th or 5th level of hell. But I get up to the window and I have to do a VIN verification because it was an out of state car I was registering. So I get up there I ask the woman helping me how she's doing. She looks at me suspiciously and says fine. So then we go outside to do the verification and I just try to engage her -"isn't a lovely day? It was raining when I walked in and now it's so beautiful." She was still highly suspicious. When we were almost finished with that part I said something like "you're so efficient maybe you want to take another minute and soak up the sun before we go back in." And her face changed and she smiled and lifted her face to the sun and drank it in. And she looked at me as we were walking in and she said "thanks, I needed that." And I replied with "thank YOU, I can't even imagine how challenging your job is but I appreciate that you are willing to do it and that you are here to help me today." She broke into the biggest grin I have seen in a while. We chatted some more as she was entering all of my information and I paid etc. I thanked her again and walked out. As I was walking out I heard her greet the next person and she did it with sincere kindness and not the same haggard way she greeted me.

NEVER EVER EVER underestimate how far a little kindness can go. Seriously. If there is one thing this world and this time needs more - it is most definitely kindness. Try it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pinker: “Get Out of the Way”

It is vanishingly rare for a public figure (other than Peter Singer) to speak as clearly, logically, and forcefully as Steven Pinker does in The moral imperative for bioethics. I can't recommend the whole thing highly enough, but these lines are so great:

“A truly ethical bioethics should not bog down research in red tape, moratoria, or threats of prosecution based on nebulous but sweeping principles such as “dignity,” “sacredness,” or “social justice.” Nor should it thwart research that has likely benefits now or in the near future by sowing panic about speculative harms in the distant future.”

Sorry I hadn't seen this 2o15 article before; I just came across it while reading A Crack in Creation. I also recommend that book. Professor Doudna generally comes down on the right side of the various questions she raises, but not as forcefully as Pinker.