Optimistic Vegan


No Mercy: Calf Farm Cruelty Exposed
April 27, 2011, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Animal Rights, Films, Law | Tags: , ,

I was just wasting some time on Facebook when I saw a post by Bold Native encouraging people to write to Youtube about a video they recently removed for violating its Terms of Service. Curious, I followed the link and subsequent links to the terms of service. Turns out they don’t allow videos that are “shocking and disgusting.”

It says: “For instance, including a clip from a slaughter house in a video on factory farming may be appropriate. However, stringing together unrelated and gruesome clips of animals being slaughtered in a video may be considered gratuitous if its purpose is to shock rather than illustrate.” I can understand this even if I don’t fully agree with it. Youtube is a company and they do have to decide how they want to be represented, but I would hope they would want to been seen as a company that supports free speech.

Anyway, I was wary of what the video was, expecting it to be a video with just a bunch of unrelated cruelty clips (because in the terms of service that is why they will remove videos). It took me a while to find it because other video services also removed it. I finally found it and prepared myself to watch it. It was atrocious. It was one of the most horrific videos I’ve seen yet (and I’ve seen a fair share) but I made it through the entire thing. However, it wasn’t a string of unrelated clips and it brought it back full circle with “go vegan” etc.

Apparently a full spectrum of people have commented on the video, including dairy industry reps. They talked about how they don’t support the cruelty seen here and they hope appropriate action is taken against this farmer, etc. While this all seems great (yay! Vegans and dairy industry reps unite!) I’m not convinced they’re concerned about their animals’ welfare. I think they’re nervous that their image will be tainted and the public might have crazy ideas and think that some of them might also have similar practices.

I don’t doubt that this video was released at a critical time when free speech is being challenged in states like Iowa, Minnesota and Florida with laws that would make undercover farm videos illegal. When we had a skype Q&A with Bold Native director Denis Henry Hennelly he said that while the laws are scary and we should be alarmed, that others that aren’t vegan or animal rights activists are also alarmed. Free speech is free speech and when you start encroaching on it anywhere it makes people nervous. So perhaps trying to hide this video is related to trying to make these videos illegal. It was one of these undercover videos that ultimately made me decide to go vegan and without them we’re just covering up the dirty secrets in our country.

So: I think Youtube is in the wrong. It does not seem to be composed of unrelated clips, and while shocking, it should be known. It should be shocking, but it’s better than left in the dark.

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Aww! This baby cow picture was taken by Rodd Dierker. I love the ears on this cow!



Friday!
April 8, 2011, 8:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Phew! It’s been a long week. I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything today, I’ve been pretty busy. I took my chemistry test today (ugh.) and couldn’t handle being in our warm residence hall so Kaity and I ran around Walla Walla (chocolate sorbet? yes please.). We saw some Whitties busking, about 10,000 dogs, and got some yummy tea. Then some basking in the sun, and Kaity got hit in the head with a lacrosse ball (she thought someone punched her). We saw a Whittie band, Dabbles in Bloom, took a billion pictures, climbed Styx, watched Harold and Maude and we’re about to have a section sleepover. We’re a big happy family.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Look forward to some awesome posts to make up for the lack of a decent post today.



Redefining Natural
April 7, 2011, 8:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Recently I was reading a blog about whether or not it is “natural” to eat a gluten-free diet (which is going great by the way. Dad bought me some quinoa macaroons that I’ve been searching for forever and they’re wonderful) and he said that what is “natural” may not be good for us, like arsenic. Yes, I would argue that arsenic is natural for us to eat and that’s really the question about gluten: is it natural to eat, even if it grows in nature.

I often think about what is natural for us, especially diet, because that must be what is healthiest, right? If we were modeling our lives after our early ancestors we’d still be living in the wild. Our tendency to produce as many offspring as we could would be necessary for their survival, eating meat is a great source of nutrients that we can’t find anywhere else and we’re working all day to survive so exercising is unnecessary. It’s almost fruitless to try to get back to the state our early ancestors were in: we have changed our habitat to fit our needs.

Unfortunately, now we reproduce too quickly for our habitat, we rely too heavily on livestock for food (which is taking up land, energy, water and it’s polluting our environment) and we’re fat from eating and sitting around all day (as opposed to having to hunt/gather it). We need to redefine “natural” to fit our new habitat. If we continue in the state we’re in, there’s not much of a future for us.

I’ve decided to stop adding unnecessary humans to our overpopulated planet and I don’t support the consumption of animals that uses precious resources. We need to change the common perception of what is natural and acceptable (i.e. nuclear family that is raised on meat and potatoes) if we want to inhabit the earth in the future.



Behind Schedule
April 6, 2011, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Lifestyle, Personal, Scientists | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve recently realized that many of our great scientists had their passion since they were children. The two I’ll discuss are Jane Goodall and Aldo Leopold, who were both young naturalists from the start and accomplished great things later in life.

As we know, Jane Goodall went to Africa and made important discoveries about the life of chimpanzees. She didn’t just decide one day that she wanted to spend her life outside and with animals; she had started making observations of the animals in her backyard at a young age. There was one story she told at the speech in Houston, TX about how her discovery of how chickens laid eggs. She described how she asked everyone around her where the egg came from but she was unsatisfied with any response. She decided to take matters into her own hands and observe for herself. After running into a chicken coop, she realized that frightening the chickens off of their roosts would not be the best way to make a discovery. She rethought her process and decided instead to hide in the coop and wait for a chicken to feel comfortable enough to lay. Four hours later, after being searched for in vain by her mother, she ran out of the coop with a huge grin on her face and her mother couldn’t help but be excited too. Jane fondly remembers how her mother could have reprimanded her, but how instead she listened intently to her chicken observations, and in turn nurtured the little naturalist in Jane.

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Similar to Jane’s lifelong awareness of her love for animals and nature, Aldo Leopold also loved the outdoors from a young age. His parents were just as supportive and helped to instill ideas that would later influence the development of his environmental ethic. I watched a documentary about him last night called Green Fire (which is a decent film good for an introduction to Leopold) that described him as a young boy who loved to hunt and fish (a different way of appreciating nature that was more accepted in his time) and particularly to bird watch. The documentary explained that binoculars were uncommon for birdwatchers, as it had not developed into such as sport, so he borrowed his mother’s opera binoculars to study the birds near to him.

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I both love and hate these stories. I love them because of how inspiring it is that they were able to make their childhood games their realities. I also love how flexible they were in when it came to living their dream. I’m sure Jane never expected to study chimpanzees for twenty five years but when she had the opportunity I know she snatched it up. I’m sure the same goes for Leopold; he may not have expected to become one of the most prolific environmental authors but he was open to possible opportunities and he ended up doing what he loved. I hate these stories (maybe not hate, that’s a bit strong) because I don’t have the extensive background that they do in naturalist studies. I’ve grown up around animals but I haven’t spent a significant amount of time bird-watching or observing chickens. It makes me feel like I’m behind schedule!

I think that as long as I continue to take advantage of every opportunity and embrace my passion more, I’ll get there eventually. I might not make the same impact as those before me, but I’ll make one in my own way. (Jane Goodall didn’t go to Africa until she was 26, so I still have time to catch up!)



Vegan in Texas
April 5, 2011, 8:32 am
Filed under: Food, Lifestyle, Restaurants, Travel | Tags: , , , ,

When my dad and I went to Houston, Texas to see Jane Goodall we expected to have some difficulty finding vegan restaurants. Although we did have some difficulty and we relied heavily on Happy Cow, we survived!

As soon as we checked in to our hotel, we asked the hotel clerk  if there were any vegetarian places nearby. She said that her dad used to frequent the Hobbit Café and that he used to be a vegetarian. We then learned that the other clerk had tried to be vegetarian for a while, but ended up stopping. We didn’t expect to find anything promising, so that was good news! We did go to the Hobbit Café, and the food was great: Portabella Mushroom Fajitas. It was even voted “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” in Houston. We actually found this a little disconcerting because most of their menu contained meat products. It had a lot of character and it all worked out, but it was much different from the highest-rated vegetarian restaurant in good old Seattle.

In addition to the Hobbit Café we also went to a vegan Chinese buffet (decent, but not my favorite, but entirely vegan!) after going to the first few destinations listed at the Happy Cow–only to find out they no longer existed. We later found a Whole Foods Market and got some food for dinner.

Even though it was more difficult, I had a great time finding vegan food in Houston. I feel like if even Texas, popularly known mostly for its steak-devouring cowboys, is offering more vegan-friendly options then veganism must really be going somewhere!

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Happy Cow is a website that has a list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. There’s a great app for Android (and I’m assuming iPhone) that uses GPS to tell you the nearest veg restaurants.

*My preconceptions about Texas food come from what I’ve heard about Texas being more about cattle raising and eating beef than vegetarian food.



Dr. Jane Goodall
April 4, 2011, 11:26 am
Filed under: Celebrities, Lifestyle, Personal | Tags: , , , ,

This is long overdue, but I wanted to make it sound right. I actually turned this in with an application. Ask me any questions you might have about my experience!

On March 9, 2011, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. My dad and I took three days off from our busy lives to fly to Houston, Texas to see Dr. Jane Goodall give a lecture about her life with chimpanzees. “Dr. Jane,” as she is affectionately called, is one of the finest I’ve had the opportunity to see. She realized her childhood dream of visiting Africa by taking advantage of all of the opportunities that came her way, working hard and never giving up hope.

Her first 26 years with chimpanzees were spent in Africa researching and making discoveries about their behavior. You can tell how fond her memories are; she speaks passionately and lovingly of all her chimpanzee friends. She even gave us a demonstration of how chimpanzees greet each other, and gave her call to the audience. I was reading the introduction of her book, Harvest for Hope, and she talked about how nervous she used to get giving public speeches (even Jane Goodall gets nervous!). She said that the way she calms down is by people watching, because she sees so many similarities between our behavior and the behavior of the chimpanzees she spent so many years studying. That’s why she decided, in 1986, that she couldn’t just stand by while their habitat and chance of survival was being destroyed. Since then she’s spent three hundred days of every year traveling around the world, spreading awareness and a message of peace and hope. She’s one of the most optimistic and inspirational people I’ve come across. Although faced with much adversity, she maintains a serene composure and an unwavering optimistic outlook.

When she realized that the habitat in Gombe was disappearing, she knew she had to do something to try and save it. One of the main reasons their habitat was being destroyed was because the villages around it were chopping down the trees for themselves. The people near Gombe were very impoverished and there was no way she would tell them they had to stop cutting trees (and lose their livelihood, warmth, etc.) so her chimpanzees could live. So she found some people in the villages that were interested in working with her to improve their quality of life. While working on this Jane got an invitation to a fair trade coffee conference and she mentioned the coffee production that was going on near Gombe. Turns out their coffee is pretty awesome (Green Mountain Coffee) and it completely turned around their quality of living. They set aside some protected land for the chimps with their new surge of profit and now their prospering as well. I love this story because it shows not only how animal lovers are human lovers as well, but that the best solutions can be very innovative. It also shows Jane’s ability to take full advantage of all her opportunities.

Dr. Jane started a program called Roots and Shoots, which is designed to give kids the support they need to change the world. Her goal is to inspire the next generation to care for the planet in all ways, and she does this by convincing them that each individual can make a difference. One of the great bits of advice she gave was to experience everything and take every opportunity that comes your way. Through these experiences, ideas and opportunities to make a difference will begin to manifest. She’s an inspiration to everyone, and the world is a better place because of her. I hope that I can make a fraction of the difference that she has.

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I’d like to add that Jane Goodall is also a vegetarian. She even wrote a book about it, Harvest for Hope.



Gluten-Free Adventure
April 2, 2011, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Food, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Personal | Tags: , , ,

Today I decided to try a gluten-free diet for a few weeks to see if I see any change in the way I feel. There hasn’t been a whole lot of research about gluten and especially if not eating it is beneficial to those who don’t have Celiac disease, but I figured I might as well try! Also, look for a long overdue Jane Goodall post tomorrow!

If we look back at what our early ancestors ate we can see what our bodies evolved to eat. They mostly consumed vegetables, fruits, nuts, and small game when they could get it. Upon looking this up I came across the “paleolithic diet” which sounds very intriguing. The idea is that you model your diet after the diet of our ancestors because we are adapted to it. Anyway, we didn’t start consuming grains until relatively recently when farming came around (in the whole scheme of things). Our body hasn’t had as much time to adapt to eating grains as it has eating fruits.

Even if a gluten-free diet doesn’t actually have benefits, I’ll at least be giving up a lot of processed foods that I know aren’t healthy. I reached for one of the many Newman-O’s that my dad bought me, but sadly they have wheat. So no cookies, cake, pie, bread, calzones (on Calzone Wednesday!) but we’ll see how it turns out.

My amazing friend, Kristin, is gluten and lactose intolerant and just started being vegetarian! She will be my inspiration for my gluten free journey.

Good bye gluten, hello tons of veggies! I’m so glad that potatoes don’t have gluten, because I don’t think I could give them up. Phew!

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I couldn’t think of any cute pictures related to gluten, so here’s a baby duck! Kaity and I saw duck rape for the first time yesterday, and it was so sad to see! But duck rape means baby ducks! (Some male ducks, such as mallards, do actually force penetration on the females. However, apparently female ducks are fighting back and have evolved long, twisted vaginas that can stop unwanted intercourse. You go girls! But someone has to make those baby ducks.)