Sunday, September 18, 2016

Health, Animals, and Ginny Messina

Noted author and commentator Sam Harris recently announced in an "ask me anything" podcast that he is no longer vegetarian. The main reason he gave was that his health suffered while vegetarian, and improved once he went back to eating animals.

Mr. Harris is a highly intelligent, well-off American who has the resources to eat anything he wants or needs. His trouble is in keeping with a Psychology Today survey a while back that found that the main reason people quit being vegetarian is because they don't feel healthy.

Contrast this with the message promoted by many animal advocates: that all animal products are deadly poison, and a vegan diet will cure all ills.

The difference between the message we often present and the reality on the ground should give us pause. It also should make us appreciate – and promote – the work of Ginny Messina, the world's leading vegan Registered Dietician. Ginny isn't out to hype veganism for veganism's sake, but is instead committed to honest and thorough information so more and more people can actually thrive on a compassionate diet.

If you don't subscribe to Ginny's blog yet, be sure to!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Look Who Else Hates Hillary

From industry journal, Meatingplace [so clever]:

If Hillary Clinton moves into the White House, the meat industry can look forward to, essentially, four more years of the Obama administration.

That promises a continuation of a host of policies that have plagued meat processors, including a push for greater regulation, the creation of a single food safety agency, tighter rules for animal handling and welfare, a focus on GIPSA rules, support for increasing the Renewable Fuel Standard minimums, an activist EPA, and a soft spot for Meatless Mondays and vegetarianism in the Dietary Guidelines.

Here is who we help when we attack Hillary:

Another group that loses if Drumpf wins? Animals.

The animal kingdom will have lost one of its staunchest defenders when the Oval Office is abandoned by Barack Obama, who through a series of critical administrative rulemakings has done more to protect animals than any other president in recent memory.

This will be especially devastating if Donald Drumpf replaces him — not only because of his sons’ lust for hunting exotic game but also because his recently announced agriculture advisory committee includes several active opponents of animal protection policies.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

An Excellent (but NSFW) Summary

After reading this, a friend summarizes their feelings:

Look. I hate the republican party. I hate the republican platform. So far I see no trend to see that that will ever change. I am terrified every election. These fuckers have made it perfectly clear where they stand on the basic human rights and straight up the LIVES of me and mine.

I mean, fuck, forget abortion, forget planned parenthood, forget marriage, they endorsed conversion therapy for MINORS, which not only doesn't work and has been denounced by every legitimate medical institution but we KNOW it's more likely to push queer people and ESPECIALLY kids to suicide, which we already have too much of. They support bathroom bills that put trans people at greater risk of violence and death, as if we didn't have enough already.

I fucking hate these fuckers.

But that doesn't even start on donald fucking drumpf.

Like jesus fucking christ, they nominated a REALITY TV STAR.

How the FUCK is this real life?

A fucking REALITY TV STAR who not only has a history of racism, misogyny, fraud, and generally being a POS, but continues to be a POS and can apparently say whatever he wants, up to and including endorsing dictators and encouraging them to interfere in our elections.

And yet the media somehow still has the fucking GALL to frame him with this false equivalency to the fucking former secretary of state, former senator, former incredibly politically active first lady.

I am fucking tired of hearing 'crooked Hillary' from people who won't call donald drumpf what he is. everyone who used that nickname should be required to call donald drumpf a racist, misogynistic, Islamaphobic, incompetent, fraudulent, lying x71 POS before they even get to saying his name.

Not only have they NOMINATED the reality tv star, it's somehow a contest between him and a frankly unbelievably qualified candidate.

I am tired of people telling Hillary Clinton to smile and making jokes about her pantsuits and saying how shrill she is and all this fucking bullshit. I am just so fucking tired.

PS: I have gotten used to the fact that there are people who place zero value on my life, or even want me dead (thanks for that reminder, Orlando). I accept that some of these people vote and hold political power. I accept this shitty fact of life even though I never intend to stop being angry about it. But the people who claim to be liberals while still being unwilling to give up on their racism and misogyny, and/or denying that their rampant racism and misogyny exist, who attack the person who will protect me and mine, who thus help the evil party and their fucking insane nominee ... those "liberals" drive me absolutely up the fucking wall.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Against Reducitarianism

From this interview:

VS: What do you think of reducetarian outreach?

The reducetarian approach is rooted in one vitally important psychological insight: people are more likely to attempt and maintain a change that seems achievable, rather than something that seems far beyond where they are now. This has been shown over and over again – not only that the more realistic a change is, the more likely people are to attempt it, but also that the more stepwise a change, the more likely people are to maintain that change.

But as currently embodied, the reducetarian movement misses another important psychological truth (as discussed by Dr. Gordon Hodson): goals must be not only reasonable and achievable, but clear. “Eat less meat” is not a clear goal. Reach out to just about anyone considered to be a likely target for dietary change and ask them to “eat less meat,” and they will almost universally reply, “Oh, I don’t eat much meat.”

They often add, “Just chicken.” Of course, "chicken" is "meat," but that is just not how people see it. When I give talks, I ask, "Who here has been told, 'Oh, I don't eat much meat. Just chicken.'" Everyone raises their hand. This is reality, and rather than insisting on the "truth" ("but chicken is meat!") we should adjust our advocacy accordingly.

In addition to all the arguments against red meat, we know that nearly everyone cares more about mammals than birds. And of all the factory-farmed animals brutalized and killed for food, the vast majority are birds. As Professor of Veterinary Science John Webster has noted, modern poultry production is, “in both magnitude and severity, the single most severe, systematic example of man’s inhumanity to another sentient animals.” Combine this with the fact that it takes more than 40 chickens to replace the meals produced by one pig, and more than 200 birds to replace one cow, everyone who “eats less [red] meat” and replaces even a little of it with birds is causing a lot more suffering.

Like doctors, our first duty as advocates should be to “do no harm.” The initial test we should run on any potential campaign or message is, “Is there any chance that my efforts will actually lead to more animals suffering in the real world?” Unfortunately, I think the “eat less meat” campaign might fail that test.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The New 1%

In response to my comment that the vast majority of my Facebook feed seems to be vegans fretting about and attacking "humane" meat, a friend of mine summarizes:

"1% of the population spending 90% of their time focused on 1% of the animals killed."

That about covers it. I hope we next turn to growing the #Broccolian movement!

Sorry - someone just posted about Whole Foods!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Actually Looking at the Evidence

OK, I always say never read the comments. But Kevin Drum's readers are pretty good, and this is spot on:

"Four months ago, while I was still focused on Sanders, I accepted the "conventional wisdom" that she was relatively dishonest. Now that I have to consider voting for her, I have read deeper into the actual evidence against her. Time and time again, the evidence doesn't nearly match the outrage.

"For example, the Clinton Foundation is a source of scandal, and used as an example of her dishonesty. But it's a freaking charity, which is highly rated by two rating agencies for over a decade, and has measurable results. And the Clinton's don't take money OUT of it, they put IN a million a year. How is that a scandal? Even if foreign interests felt they needed to offer money to get access to the SoS, I STILL don't see much harm in it. She's doing good work. This is like smearing Kerry as a coward, when he is an actual war hero and his opponent not.

"Contrast that to the other guy's "Foundation" into which he doesn't contribute, and the charity to which he primarily gives is his son's Foundation, so they can double count the fundraising and gifts. Oh, and he also "gave" to the Florida AG's campaign right before she decided not to pursue a case against Trump University.

"So, after trying to find actual data, all I found makes HRC look pretty good. I could not find ANY evidence that actually backed the scandal rhetoric from the right. It still may come. Assange may have something - but he should put up or shut up.

"It just looks like the cumulative mud from 30+ years of being in the public eye, and false accusations from the right. So if you get your news only from the right, you must just take it for granted she's dirty. It's all you've heard for decades."

Friday, September 2, 2016

Birds sing to their unborn chicks to warn them about hot weather

This is incredible. Yet another reason not to eat birds!

When the weather is hot, zebra finches sing a special song to their eggs that preps them for the warmer climate.

The song appears to affect the unborn chicks’ development, helping them to cope with heat and produce more chicks themselves – a strategy that may help the birds deal with global warming.

Some species of birds call to their unborn offspring, says Mylene Mariette at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia. Birds that hatch at an early stage, such as zebra finches, were not thought to do this.

But they do – and they seem to take this to a whole new level. When Mariette and her colleague Katherine Buchanan put microphones in 125 zebra finch nests in an outdoor aviary, they noticed the parents sometimes sang a specific song when they were alone with the eggs. They only did this in warm weather when their chicks were close to hatching. “It really looked like they do it to communicate with the egg,” Mariette says.

“The chicks that heard the song and grew up in hot nests, went on to produce more chicks themselves“

To see if they were listening, the team incubated eggs in the lab, playing the song to half of them before returning the hatchlings to nests scattered around the aviary.

Of the chicks that had been played the song, those raised in nests in hotter parts of the aviary weighed less than those in cooler nests and those also in warmer nests but that hadn’t heard the song. Smaller birds may shed body heat more easily or perhaps growing is more stressful during hot weather, Mariette says.

Female finches that had heard the song also produced more fledglings in their first breeding season (Science, This could potentially help them deal with global warming, says Mariette.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Words and Money

Lewis passes along this interesting study, which suggests that the phrase "factory farm" affects consumers' experience with meat, and how much they eat:
Par­tic­i­pants were willing to pay 22 per­cent less for a six-ounce package of the fac­tory farmed jerky com­pared to the humanely farmed jerky and con­sumed 8 per­cent less as well, showing, the researchers wrote, “that implicit con­sump­tion behavior was also influ­enced by beliefs.”

On the other hand, Josh passes along this article by James McWilliams pointing out that price is a far more important driver in decisions than ethics (perhaps a companion piece to this).
[E]thical hand wringing over the morality of eating meat may be more sound and fury than Sturm and Drang.
One possible take-away from these articles is that we should play to what Americans already believe, and harp on "factory farmed" instead of spending so much time and energy going after "humane" (based on my Facebook feed, you would think that 90% of Americans only eat "humane" meat).

And, of course, we should be supporting any and all efforts to drive up the price of meat, especially chicken and eggs, as well as efforts to undercut animal products with plant-based products. The bottom line must be how many animals suffer and die, not how many people think just like us, and economics is clearly the main driver at this time.

In addition, you won't be surprised to know that I believe all advocates should be considering harm-reduction advocacy instead of ideology-driven sound-and-fury-based advocacy.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

More on Modern Chickens

A follow up to this post:

In the 1920s, chickens raised and killed for meat lived 112 days, growing to 2.2 pounds on optimal feed before being killed. Now, after decades of genetic manipulations, they are slaughtered after only about 45 days, at 5.5 pounds or more. So they are growing two-and-a-half times larger in only 40% of the time. Please review this report by Harish Sethu – A child raised to weigh 500 pounds by age 10? – for a graphical look at the change.

This report by Watt Poultry shows some producers with an average weight of over 8 pounds at slaughter! It is now even truer what Professor of Veterinary Medicine John Webster has said about modern industrial chicken production: “in both magnitude and severity, the single most severe, systematic example of man’s inhumanity to another sentient animal.” Combine that with this, and we may want to reevaluate our advocacy.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Broccolian Follow-Up

Creating hatred of vegans.

After I finished my Brocconian post, I came across this interview that Tobias did with Dr. Jared Piazza of Lancaster University. The entire interview is worth reading, but this is the conclusion:

To finish, I’d like to hear some recommendations you have for activists or the movement.
I guess my first recommendation would be to do your best to avoid the moral reactance and motivated reasoning when discussing the issue of eating meat with people. This is not always possible, but put yourself in their shoes. How would you react if someone suggested to you that something you really enjoy doing and have been doing most of your life was immoral? Perhaps this is something that you never considered to be a problem before and brings you daily pleasure. Do you think you would be receptive to their message at first? Or would you question their arguments? Would you immediately stop what you have been doing all your life, or would you immediately think of ways in which what you’re doing is perfectly acceptable and not problematic? Once you have made the conversion to not eat meat, it is easy to forget what it is like to see things from the other side – from the perspective of the meat-eating majority, who are wondering what all the fuss is about.

I’d also recommend to advocates to be inclusive and welcoming, and not to give up. We need people to think they really can make a change. We need to empower people, not only with an awareness of how meat production is destroying our world and ruining lives (lives that truly matter), but also give them an opportunity to imagine other ways of viewing the world, particularly how they view themselves, so they can reason through the arguments in a less defensive, self-preserving manner. I think we may have greater success that way.