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Bunny Huggers Bare Their Fangs
Isn’t it amazing how some of the “be kind to animals” types can be such shits to people?

If I'm behind in answering your advice request, please bear with me. I'm still wading through hate mail from vegans and vegetarians about my column, Splendor In The Wheat Grass (below).

A few of the letters are polite and reasoned; most are more along these lines:

In a message dated 7/28/07 5:18:36 PM, writes:

Dear goddess, I usually like your quite lengthy answers to the lovelorn. But............................................................come one, even my 12 year old would never say such a stupid sentence as " providing we give them a nice patch of grass, and kill them humanely.
Please---Either your a stupid uninformed knucklehead or your a selfish witch who only slops down her throat food if it tastes good,without thought to where it came from. This country, lady, has the most inhumane slaughter practices on earth. and you are the first columnist I have ever read who doesn't know this...Are you 9 years old.
Go on Peta or the Humane Society's website and get educated.
Better yet, stick to sex questions, your thick head cant absorb more.......
An ex-reader,Carmela
Education No 1---A chicken is raised in less room than this email, sheet, that's right, it never stands or does anything but lay there it's entire life till drowning....
Dint write about what you don't know,knucklehead.

I told her that I try to buy grass-fed beef from New Zealand, and free-range chicken, too. Then I asked her, "Do you think name-calling (with glaring inattention to spelling, grammar, and syntax) is a way to bring people around to your point of view?" Finally, I added an important P.S.:

Furthermore, there have been no large, randomized, double-blind, studies as to whether it's safe to eat large quantities of soy, and if I were you, I'd think twice about the safety of a vegetarian or vegan diet until there's conclusive evidence for the health and safety of soy.

An excerpt from my response to a polite critic (one of about three):

Animals don't have the same level of rights as humans because they cannot also have responsibilities. Also, their usage by humans is of great benefit to humans.

Here's the question from the column they're all complaining about:

My boyfriend of eight months is a vegetarian, and believes all animals are created equal, and that we, as animals, don't have a right to eat other animals. I’m very much a carnivore, and feel my body needs the protein, although I agree with him that eating meat is morally wrong. When we first met, he said he didn’t care if I ate meat. Now, when we eat out, and I mention that my food smells wonderful, he launches into a tirade about how I’ve made an animal suffer a horrendous death because of my eating habits. Consequently, I’ve stopped ordering meat when we’re together, and I’ve also stopped enjoying going out to dinner. Still, he’s a gentle, thoughtful man, so maybe dietary sacrifices are worth it. It’s amazing that eating habits can be such a problem.

--Animal Killer

Here's my reply:

Like a conch shell, which supposedly sounds like the ocean, maybe if you listen closely to your burger you can hear echoes of the cow screaming when it was slaughtered. Thoughts like that must go through your head when you’re speeding away from your boyfriend’s house, reminding yourself that you, too, think it’s morally wrong to eat meat. And then…lemme guess…you make a hard right, pull up to an intercom, roll down your window, and mutter, “Bacon double cheeseburger, please.”

According to your boyfriend, people and cows are born equal. Then what happens? Notice how cows have yet to build an International Space Station, or even open one of those little key-making huts outside the mall. But, does this mean we have a right to eat them? I think so -- providing we give them a nice patch of grass, and kill them humanely. Still, your boyfriend’s entitled to his beliefs, and you’re entitled to yours…if you can remember where you stashed them.

It may help you to understand that there are good reasons to eat meat. “Meat is the single best source of virtually every vitamin but vitamin C,” said Gary Taubes, an investigative science journalist whose myth-busting book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, (Sept. 07) is sure to revolutionize the American diet, proving that meat is not the health demon it’s made out to be. Taubes pointed me toward nutritional anthropologist Marvin Harris’ book Good To Eat, in which Harris explains that the ratios of essential amino acids in plant foods (except soy) are not optimal for humans. (The scientific jury’s still out on whether scarfing large quantities of soy is healthy or safe.) People have to eat huge quantities of nuts or legumes to match the nutritional value of meat “since the least abundant essential amino acids in plants are precisely the ones most needed by the human body.”

If only your boyfriend could have his Tofurky without cramming it down your throat, too. Sorry, it isn’t “eating habits” that are the problem, but his habit of berating you about yours; probably to the point where you can’t even eye a happy-hour cocktail wiener without fearing he’ll burst into tears and scream, “Murderer!” (Are we having fun yet?) If Meatless Joe can’t deal with your dietary choices, he should break up with you, not try to guilt you into breaking up with glazed pork chops. But, the real responsibility is yours -- to stand up for who you are, and find a man who’s okay with it, even if the particulars aren’t okay for him. Come on, admit it: Wouldn’t you be happier as somebody’s free-range girlfriend -- free to prefer the actual steak to the feeling of moral superiority you’re supposed to get from not eating it?

For more on the issue, here's Murray Rothbard on "The 'Rights' Of Animals." Here's Tibor R. Machan.

On the health front, here's Gary Taubes' Frontline interview. Here's Rutgers anthropology prof Lionel Tiger on why you should eat a Paleolithic diet -- long on meat, short on agro, but with a few caveats:

We evolved as hunters and gatherers. A graduate student in my Rutgers department, Matt Sponheimer, published an article in Nature in l999 showing from the micro-analysis of wear on fossil teeth that our ancestors were eating meat over 2.5 million years ago. We mainly ate meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. We have to assume our physiology evolved in association with this diet. The balanced diet for our species was what we could acquire then, not what the government and doctors tell us to eat now.

We were likely hungry nearly all the time. When we had to reduce our intake of food our metabolism slowed to compensate. We didn't run after dinner for exercise, we ran before dinner -- for dinner itself. Only about 10,000 years ago did we learn how to herd animals, grow grains, and get to sit around.

Within medicine and anthropology there has been a controversy brewing for years about the possible unhealthiness of the diet made possible -- and even necessary given our crowded planet -- by agriculture. The most popular expression of sharp wariness about particular agricultural products was the 1972 book, "Diet Revolution," in which Robert Akins argued that eating carbohydrates, especially grains -- which are cheap -- made people hungry so they ate more and burgeoned. A set of endocrinological events in the body, he argued, cause the favorite foods of Current Authorities -- bread, pasta, rice, for example -- to cause hunger and overeating. Instead, they were told to eat food containing more-satisfying animal fats, including daily bacon and eggs, bacon cheeseburgers, butter sauces, no flour and hardly any fruit. The medical and nutritional establishments found this intolerable and said so very loudly. Thereafter cholesterol levels became as important personal scores as IQ and to some as net worth.

In 1987, three members of the Emory University faculty, Boyd Eaton, Mel Konner, and Marjorie Shostak, published "The Paleolithic Prescription" which analyzed what our ancestors ate (and we are still our ancestors physiologically) and recommended an appropriate modern diet which differed from the ideal food pyramid promoted by the Department of Agriculture. But there was an important difference from the Atkins-style claim, which was that they ate meat which was lower in fat than domestic animals -- grain-fed beef (grain again) may have 36% fat content while grass-fed has about 18% and wildfowl and venison about 3%-4%, like most fish. They had no salt-cured bacon. They had no easy sugar which did not emerge until relatively recently.

Getting back to the question of whether herbivores and carnivores can dwell in peace, here's an excerpt from an e-mail from a happily married vegetarian friend of mine:

My husband wanted to be a vegetarian, but I know that's never going to happen so I have never tried to convert him. He just gets too much pleasure from eating meat, and because I love him, I wouldn't want to take that pleasure away from him. I do encourage him to cook very smelly meaty things like lamb when I know I'm not going to be home so I don't feel like I'm living in a grill pan. But he pretty much does what he wants.

And finally, here's a little reportage from my vegetarian friend on how it works in France:

Once, I overheard a conversation in a cafe that I thought was very telling about the French attitude to meatless eating.

A man says to the woman with him: Je suis végétarien. (I am vegetarian.)

Woman: Tu ne manges pas de viande, alors? (You don't eat meat, then?)

Man: C'est à dire, je mangerais un steak, mais plutôt avec des algues. (I'd eat a steak, but with seaweed)

Posted by aalkon at August 1, 2007 1:17 PM


I believe someone like Temple Grandin has done more for animal rights than any vegan ever could. Membership in PETA cant compare to the accomplishments of Dr. Grandin.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 1, 2007 1:52 AM

I've been vegetarian, and also been a hunter.

I found killing animals upsetting (ie upsetting me, as well as the poor beast itself, which most assuredly did not want to die). My killing was not quick and humane. To avoid the unpleasantness, I now buy meat from the butcher. Is this hypocritical? I don't like heights either, so I get someone else to fix my roof when it leaks. And I don't like sewage, so I pay the council to take it away for me. Is there a difference that makes one hypocritical, the other not?

(Hippocracy - rule by horses. Just for a laugh.)

Posted by: Norman at August 1, 2007 3:57 AM

It seems to me vegetarianism is about power and control as much as it is about health and animal welfare.

Posted by: doombuggy at August 1, 2007 4:44 AM

It's a pretty common attitude among those who consider their chosen position as "morally superior." Once they've decided this, they view those who differ as inferior, and either look down their nose at them, or try to "convert" them - to convince them of the "error of their ways." Doesn't matter if it's religion (or atheism), animal rights, gay marriage, or anything else. Smug fanatics are irritating. What's worse is when they claim to be "persecuted" because no one wants to hear them rant about their chosen crusade. Have whatever wacky ideas you like, just don't get mad when others don't agree with you.

One of my closest friends has been a vegetarian since she was an adolescent. She's in her 40's now and married to a dedicated omnivore. Not only does she not criticize him or others for that choice, but she makes an AWESOME roast. She can cook meat extremely well, she just doesn't eat any. Personally, I'm against cooking something I'm not gonna eat (let alone taste-test), but more power to her.

Posted by: Jamie at August 1, 2007 6:14 AM

I know this isn’t on topic, but it is for you Amy;
Hardware: New Record For Solar Cell Power Efficiency
Posted by kdawson on Wednesday August 01, @05:14AM
from the onward-to-50% dept.

mdsolar writes "Renewable Energy Access is reporting that a consortium led by researchers at the University of Delaware has achieved 42.8% efficiency with a silicon solar cell. The method uses lower concentration (factor of 20 magnification) than the previous record holder (40.7% efficiency) so that it may have a broader range of applications, since tolerances for pointing the device will be larger. They are now partnering with DuPont to build engineering and manufacturing prototypes. They expect to be in production in 2010. On a roof, such cells would require less than half the surface area to produce the same amount of power as today's standard solar panels, which have an efficiency of about 17%."

Posted by: rusty wilson at August 1, 2007 7:13 AM

I thought all humans are omnivores! As in, born that way. o_O

Posted by: Flynne at August 1, 2007 7:14 AM

Wow, Purple, I'm impressed that you know about Temple Grandin. She's amazing. Here's the Wikipedia page on her with links to her various accomplishments (dealing with autism and humane slaughter):

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 7:23 AM

And here's the work of a friend, columnist Ari LeVaux, who fed me elk sausage at the last alternative newspaper convention. "I killed it myself!" This link's about his buffalo hunting:

And no, he doesn't live in Santa Monica!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 7:26 AM

I enjoyed a wonderful roasted lapin when we were in Paris.

As my friend used to joke, "I'm a lacto-ovo-pesco-avo-bovo-vegetarian!"

Posted by: deja pseu at August 1, 2007 7:35 AM

>> Animals don't have the same level of rights as humans because they cannot also have responsibilities. Also, their usage by humans is of great benefit to humans.

What the heck can this possibly mean? Animals responsibilities are pretty much limited to procreation and survival, which under normal conditions they do quite well. Having lived out in the country for a couple decades, I can tell you many animals are far more noble in taking care of their offspring than many humans are.

I agree with you that humans by nature eat animals, and every effort should be made to provide them with a satisfactory life and quick painless death... so lay off the fois gras!

Posted by: eric (bacon double-cheeseburger affecianiado) at August 1, 2007 7:36 AM

re: Elk

Be careful of many of these "tourist hunters" who claim to have killed an elk or buffalo or some such animal. Canned hunting remains big business in these parts (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, etc), and often includes shooting a caged animal. You can meet my neighbor here:

Posted by: eric at August 1, 2007 7:50 AM

Uh, every person is not guilty of everything in the universe. Ari makes his own tofu, shoots his own elk...the guy is the backwoods Betty Crocker.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 7:52 AM

And regarding rights -- rights come with responsibilities. I'm guessing many of the bunny huggers don't feel quite so warmly about rats and cockroaches. Moreover, for a lot of them, it's not that they don't eat anything with a face -- they have a problem eating anything with a cute face. My favorite moment with somebody I know -- a person in my French group -- was when she tsk-tsked me for wearing a vintage mutton fur swing coat I bought off eBay. She "doesn't wear fur!" No, mon dieu! Horrors! (Of course, she was wearing a leather jacket at the time.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 7:55 AM

I wasn't accusing him specifically...

Posted by: eric at August 1, 2007 7:56 AM

So are you suggesting animals have no rights, because they hold no human responsibilities? What's your opinion of the Michael Vick dog-fighting case?

Posted by: eric at August 1, 2007 8:06 AM

I think we have a responsibility to treat animals humanely.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 8:21 AM

Vick should be put in a cage with the dogs and see how he likes it. Dogs instinctually fight, yes, but humans train them to be more vicious when fighting in captivity than when they are in the wild. Fighting in the wild is a matter of survival. Training dogs to fight so you can make money from it is moronic.

Posted by: Flynne at August 1, 2007 8:23 AM

Norman posted a link to this Skepdic piece on the morality of eating meat over at the link to my column:

When I rather stuffily wrote to the guy about meat being "of great benefit" to humans, I was also thinking "because it's tasty!"

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 8:27 AM

Vegans are no more noble then us evil heartless meat eaters. We are aware of what we do and how it's done. However most vegans who see this are shocked and become feral with rage.

Animals are killed? As opposed to what dieing in a nursing home? Malled by predators? Given a choice between an high velocity round to the head or being eaten by wolves I'll take the head shot. It is our responsibility to treat animals humanly and many of the farms that fail to do so get shut down. Not all but many.

I think Tibor's justification is horribly wrong but hey all are entitled to their opinion. Watch an animal use tools. A parrot using brick to hunt cats is a personal favorite of mine. Or a chimp sharpen pointy stick. I'm not against eating animals but eating something that thinks bothers me.

Posted by: vlad at August 1, 2007 8:37 AM

Thanks -- GREAT guy, Vlad. Hilarious. And right on. Loved his site.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 8:43 AM

I doubt cows and chickens would survive very long with out humans.

Posted by: rusty wilson at August 1, 2007 9:22 AM

Self-righteous vegetarianism should be listed under food issues in the DSMV (the official list of ways to be crazy.) Western civilization can be proud of many things but our increasingly stupid ways of obsessing about what we eat are an embarrassment. Vegetarianism is a choice a person has because we are staggeringly wealthy compared to most people in the world and to most people who have ever lived. During the Cold War, Soviet visitors to the U.S. would nod approvingly at our bridges and skyscrapers and highway system but they would fall to their knees and weep at the sight of our supermarkets. We can eat whatever the hell we feel like any time of the year at nominal cost. Travel even slightly outside of densely populated areas of western civilization and your eating choices will plummet. Travel into less developed areas or areas in strife or hardship and the idea of eating meat is an unimaginable luxury.

Meat offers a great return on investment in terms of energy and nutrition for the work required to obtain it through either hunting or husbandry. We have a complex and wealthy civilization because we don’t spend all our time and energy looking for food; we fuel up and then turn our attention to other things.

The moral implications of killing animals and eating them makes for a great philosophical discussion punctuated with the occasional LGBH (long, gurgling bong-hit.) But the bottom line is that a vegetarian lifestyle is dependent on a larger meat eating population to provide the economic environment in which the sprout muncher makes his or her menu selection.

Butchering animals can create a wide range of emotional responses in someone, but after twenty minutes, it’s just hard work. And it’s also hard work to plant, tend, harvest and process the soybeans used to make tofu. If you produce all your own food, I will be impressed by what you eat. Taking pride in whatever it is that you buy at the grocery store and shove into your noise-hole just makes you annoying.

Posted by: martin at August 1, 2007 9:50 AM

Every living thing dies at some point, so given a humane existence while alive what is the difference between eating a dead animal and donating your organs when you no longer need them? And I'd agree that most any form of slaughter is better than animals suffer in the wild, whether at the behest of other animals or old age.

That doesn't excuse maltreatment however I'd suggest that only people with a lot of resources are able to provide condos for chickens. How do you think animal husbandry is done in poor countries where humans are scraping by living day to day? Where is the PETA expedition to Africa to teach those who still live off bush meat how to become vegetarians? They might end up on the table themselves.

All one has to do to see what 'nature' intended is to look at our teeth in comparison to those of a horse or a cow. We have both meat and vegetable eating teeth so why not use them?

This river flows both ways. There are still bears, mountain lions and sharks out there and I don't see either passing up a good meal of human meat if the opportunity presents itself. When the bears start a BETH (Bears for the Ethical Treatment of Humans) group I'll be glad to reciprocate. Haven't had bear meat in a long time anyhow.

Posted by: Jim H. at August 1, 2007 9:59 AM

Actually it's the DSM IV (Diagnostic and statical manual version 4) and I don't think vegetarians should be listed. However militant vegans (the phrase just sounds wrong) probably should be. A combinations of megalomania with OCD and add in a bit of borderline personality for flavoring. I'm all for allowing people choices up to a point. Food animals should be treated humanly but that does not mean not killing them. First if there was no meat industry then these animals would never have been alive in the first place. Second as pointed out earlier, death is a part of life and these animals are killed quickly. To all the militant vegans think about the rabbits not killed by the harvester but injured. They get to die a slow lingering death. Animals killed for food are killed quickly for the sake of efficiency if nothing else.

Posted by: vlad at August 1, 2007 10:14 AM

I'm reminded of the film "You Kill Me," when the alcoholic hit man played by Ben Kingsley apologizes for bad kills while drunk -- the ones where he didn't get them right away.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 10:19 AM

You're right about these people being obnoxious. As I said before in this column, I support vegetarianism, and I believe, from tooth to sphincter, nature designed a vegetarian when it designed the human being.

I would like to add one more thing to your reply to the notable black hole of reading comprehension that you replied to above, who asked if you were nine years old. Look at your comment in context, "providing we give them a nice patch of grass, and kill them humanely."

You'll notice, contrary to her outraged claims, you never stated that we actually do give animals that treatment, only stating your belief that we should give them that treatment.

To me, that seems reasonable. Treat the animal humanely when it's alive, and kill them as quickly and painlessly as we reasonably can when we need to. It's more consideration than predators in the wild will show. (You ever watch a killer whale sadistically torment a seal before it eats it?)

But why is she harping on your soi-disant ignorance when you haven't made any claims whatsoever regarding how animals are treated, only stated how you think they should be treated?

Because she's a self-righteous idiot, that's why!

Posted by: Patrick at August 1, 2007 10:23 AM

@vlad "Actually it's the DSM IV (Diagnostic and statical manual version 4) and I don't think vegetarians should be listed."

Thanks vlad, I knew it was something like that. Notice I said "self-righteous" vegetarians. A veg who can just say "no thanks, I'll have a salad" and otherwise keep quiet about it is fine with me. It's the ones who launch into WHY they don't want a cheeseburger and how noble it makes them to hold these values and how WRONG it is for anyone to think otherwise that need help. That help might come in the form of working on a farm in horn of Africa for a year.

Posted by: martin at August 1, 2007 10:26 AM

I have no problem with what you said - and I'm a vegan!

I do, however, find it difficult to take illiterate people seriously, and you probably did too! Yay for correcting her on her awful, illiterate, inarticulate, poorly spelled, ungrammatical, below second grade level English.

(I almost sent this in with misspellings, but that's just because I am a lousy typist!)

Posted by: Val at August 1, 2007 11:22 AM

Patrick, you're absolutely correct that humane treatment of food animals isn't the norm yet these days. But it's becoming a real selling point for companies that do treat animals well - free range, hormone free, etc. It's now possible to get pretty good prices on humanely raised beef and pork and chicken at Trader Joe's these days (and of course that sort of meat is the norm at high-end places like Whole Foods). Consumers are free to make informed decisions about where their dollars go. Personally, I'm happy to pay a little more for, e.g., Niman Ranch meats - partially because of their humane practices, but mostly because it tastes better. Win-win.

Posted by: justin case at August 1, 2007 11:24 AM

I haven't met any self rightous vegetarians, the only really obnoxious one were always vegan. That's why I made the comment about not including vegatarians in it. The DSM IV comment was because I keep getting yelled at for calling it the DSMV by all my shrink friends. I'm all for it if the vegans can come up with a furry death free vegy diet, which they can't. Until they do I see nothing wrong with eating meat. When some vegan invents replicators then I might consider getting on the meat free band wagon (not seriously but it would cross my mind)

My most memorable experience with a militant vegan
was at a restaurant with a vegetarian. The vegan became such a raging pain in the ass that my vegetarian friend asked the waiter for for a lawn mower to collect some grass clippings to shut her up.

This fact is that really pisses me off about vegans: vegan cat food. Who in their right mind would even consider feeding a vegy diet to an obligate carnivore. Being a cat person (hate me all you want for it) and having seen what happens to cats from bad diet the depth of the hypocrisies of militant vegans is ... (I lack the words to properly express)

Posted by: vlad at August 1, 2007 11:29 AM

Abusing a pet cat with a vegan diet is bad enough, these folks:

murdered their child by trying to feed him nothing but soy milk and apple juice. Breast milk is apparently forbidden because...

Posted by: martin at August 1, 2007 11:36 AM

murdered their child by trying to feed him nothing but soy milk and apple juice. Breast milk is apparently forbidden because...

I think Amy posted about this a while ago. At the risk of defending veganism, though, the problem here wasn't that the parents were vegan, it was that they were idiots and/or insane. Informed vegan parents know that they must make a real effort when it comes to ensuring that child's food needs are met, and only crazies would object to feeding a child his mother's breast milk.

Posted by: justin case at August 1, 2007 11:45 AM

Anyone who thinks animals have rights are Phylum bigots!!

Seriously, all plants put out poisons to prevent or modify the behavior of those that attempt to eat them. We have to be very careful what we as humans eat as well as what our meat producers eat.

Dr Provenza has done amazing work on grazing preferences in ruminants and is sparking the same in people.

Malnutrition is not just starving kids in a communist or warlord nation, but its also right here in the West.

A kid can only consume so much food - if its soda and chips, then they will not get the needed nutrients to grow and their bodies will adjust to the reduced intake.

Posted by: austin at August 1, 2007 12:09 PM

Seems to me anybody who turns vegetarian to avoid taking on the guilt of animal slaughter should be willing to eat roadkill. Nobody ran over that 'possum just so somebody could eat it, right? If you just pick it up to keep it from going to waste, you have no cause to feel bad.

(True confession: I'm a hunter, but I do also take advantate of fresh roadkill.)

Posted by: Axman at August 1, 2007 12:13 PM

Anyone who feeds their children soy milk instead of breast milk is a moron.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 12:34 PM

I'm not sure they fed the baby soy milk instead of breast milk by choice. I thought that vegans produce much less if any milk due to dietary issues. I'm not sure why they refused to buy formula which as far as I know is mainly synthetic, especially the powdered stuff. There are vegan baby formulas as well which were initially produced for lactose intolerant children.

I'm all for properly regulated hunting but roadkill? I'm hoping it fresh, really really fresh. Hey since not all road kill dies instantly if you put the animal out of it's misery and then eat it I respect that on several levels.

Posted by: vlad at August 1, 2007 12:49 PM

Soy milk isn't a replacement for breast milk any more than COW milk is a replacement. Nevermind apple juice. Formula is the next best thing to human milk, and I'm sure they make some variety of soy formula.

I think, Vlad, this just goes back to the earlier statement that it had a lot less to do with them being vegans, and more to do with them being morons.

Posted by: Jamie at August 1, 2007 1:00 PM

I have my own chicken on my property, and I raise my own beef and take them to a private butcher, you should se the diference in quality of what I get off my animals comared to store bought meat.

I sat down to figure out the total cost, and it worked out to be a bit more than a dollar a pound, try getting a four pound roast for $4.25 at Wal Mart, hell try getting ground burger for a dollar a pound these days.

Posted by: lujlp at August 1, 2007 1:09 PM

Though I do not suffer from autism, Dr. Grandin has always been a personal hero. Anyone who sincerely believes that the U.S. pumps out nothing more than selfish materialistic women (who refuse to have babies) needs to explore reality. Not only can we produce a top woman scientist, she's autistic too.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 1, 2007 1:37 PM

Please---Either your a stupid uninformed knucklehead or your a selfish witch

She can't spell, yet she questions the intelligence of others. Amazing.

Posted by: Doobie at August 1, 2007 6:47 PM

I found the guy's wife in Super Size Me an insufferable pain, as I think she was a vegan. That's the only part of the movie that annoyed me, otherwise it was pretty entertaining, especially the extras on the DVD, where we could watch food rot!

Posted by: Chrissy at August 1, 2007 7:07 PM

Utne had a great series of articles a couple months ago, about the dangers of too much soy. Soy formula can actually be a precursor to later health problems.

I am a carnivore, my son is a carnivore, my partner is a vegetarian, who makes the best beef stroganoff on the planet. We don't cook much meat at home, especially since my partner got pregnant again - pregnant women have a sense of smell, comparable to a bloodhound. But we all get along quite well, in spite of all that - even with the big, fat, juicy tofurky on thanksgiving (I have a lot of friends who inundate me with plenty of flesh, around the holidays). I actually prefer not to eat all that much meat - I really enjoy it when we have it, don't miss it when we don't. And I have become a mean veggie cook.

I should also mention that I have about twenty some pounds of elk in my freezer, including a couple packages of elk tenderloin - mmm, elk tenderloin. I didn't kill this one, but I did kill the deer that I still have about twenty some pounds of left. I also have three or four, cute, fluffy, sweet little bunny wabbits in the freezer. I think it might have been mildly traumatic for my son, when we talked about what the soft, fuzzy slippers momma made for us, were made out of, but after a bowl of my (if I say so myself) first class bunny stew, he got over it. Of course, walking around with your feet wrapped in luxurious, soft fur helps an awful lot.

For whomever mentioned it, no canned hunting here - way too poor and prideful for that. Many hours in the cold rain, waiting, tracking, gutting, field dressing, stopping at my buddy's to wash bloody clothes - my partner would rather not deal with that much.

Posted by: DuWayne at August 1, 2007 7:12 PM

Cats need meat or they get fat, which is why there are so many fat unhealthy cats around (and people too) Too many carbs!

My cat is 20, and is slim and healthy, because she gets human grade meat in her cat food (both wet & dry), in brands like Wellness and Paul Newman.

I buy my meat from Whole Foods because of the high quality of their food handling practices and the quality and taste of the seafood and chicken (I still don't eat beef-lots my taste for it).

Posted by: Chrissy at August 1, 2007 7:12 PM

On the Michael Vick case: The Humane Society and the SPCA, in total, kill thousands of dogs every day. No one is picketing them for doing this, in part because some people are too lazy to get their pets neutered and spayed appropriately, but ALSO because the Humane Society and the SPCA kill the dogs (and cats) humanely. Nothing done to those poor animals on the Vick property was humane. They can't even argue that they were eliminating excess dogs, because they were breeding replacement ones! If we can have rules forbidding the torture of prisoners on death row, we can find ways to treat animals humanely despite eating them.

Which reminds me: What does everyone think about the proposed rule in Amy's home state that would pretty much mandate spaying/neutering if you weren't a licensed breeder? I feel like I'm betraying the libertarian cause...but I think I support the law, given the sheer number of unwanted pets and mindless breeding that I see. But I could be persuaded otherwise.

Anyway, of course, what Amy's illiterate ranters fail to recognize in that column is that the guy in question is doing them more harm than good. Much more harm. Because passive-aggressive guilt trips are not acceptable adult behavior. If he had the cojones to tell his girlfriend, "Look, I no longer find eating meat to be acceptable moral behavior, and I don't think we can stay together if you disagree," I'd respect his viewpoint (even if I, in that situation, would proceed to break up with him and go out for a hamburger to mark the occasion). But turning into a drama queen and fervently proclaiming that you hear the lambs screaming, SCREAMING! is something that is somewhat amusing in 14-year-old girls planning to join the Peace Corps and save the world, but totally unacceptable in anyone else.

Val: Sorry some illiterate yahoos are slandering your cause. I've written on this site before about my belief that large swaths of humanity feel the need for some sort of mysticism, and if they don't channel that need into some sort of religion/pagan/meditative belief structure, they tend to channel it into social issues. Some vegetarians and vegans really do it for their health, or because they see it as part of a continuum of caring about animals, or because they just don't like meat/animal products. Some do it because they don't want to have to follow the rules that would let them lecture people about faith/God/transcendentalism/etc., but want to lecture about SOMETHING.

Vegan diet for cats? I'd prefer to avoid being eaten by my two in my sleep, thanks.

Posted by: marion at August 1, 2007 7:26 PM

Slate recently mentioned a New Zealand study which identified "vegansexuals" (I may have the spelling slightly off), i.e., people who won't have sex with carnivores because, among other things, they smell like dead carcasses.

This intrigues me. People who eat meat smell like dead animals. But plants grow in the ground, drawing nutrients from the soil. And soil is...magic fairy dust? Or the broken down remains of other living things? Hmmm, I forget.

Point being: Vegatarians eat plants. Plants draw their nutrients from decomposed animal matter. So who smells like a dead carcass now, vegetarians?

Nicholas Wade, the NYT science writer, recently published a book about our ancestors. By strange coincidence, just as our ancestors' brains began to grow in size and complexity, we began to eat meat. Why? Because our brains consumed more nutrients than we could supply otherwise. From that piece of information, it seems possible that if we give up meat, we'll be giving up the very intellectual gifts that brought us this far.

(I will say that, like Amy, I try to be humane in my meat consumption, by spending my money with suppliers who take pains to care for the animals before cheerfully sending them to my dinner plate.)

Posted by: harriet at August 1, 2007 7:26 PM

Thanks for mentioning Ari LeVaux, Amy. He writes the weekly cooking/food column for my local independent newspaper.

Instead of fretting about the morality of eating animals, I simply buy locally raised and butchered meats, and I and other members of my family hunt grouse, deer, elk, antelope and moose. Right now I have a freezer full of venison and elk meat. Justin mentioned the and ethically-produced meats (rather than unknown parts butchered by ConAgra and shrink-wrapped in the WalMart freezer case) simply taste better. Better yet, if you buy locally raised meats or harvest your own, you know it isn't contaminated with feces, e-coli, or something worse. When you get to this level of eating responsibly--that is, growing and killing things yourself--I don't see how vegetarianism or veganism in and of itself is more ethical. After all, a lot of little ground dwelling critters die when that combine makes its way through the wheat and soybean fields. And let's not forget the illegal immigrants that pick and/or harvest the veggies going into that vegan dish. It's easy to be a vegetarian in America when vegetables are so inexpensive thanks to the cheap labor that harvests our crops. Surely that's an ethical dilemma Animal Killer's boyfriend could address.

Posted by: Rebecca at August 1, 2007 10:10 PM

DuWayne I always thought I made he best beef stroganoff in the world, Any chance I can see your wifes recipe?

Posted by: lujlp at August 1, 2007 11:26 PM

lujlp -

Not wife, though now that civil unions are legal in Oregon, we may do that. Both of us are rather uncomfortable with the institution of marriage and the fact that most of our friends aren't allowed. (sorry, end rant)

Actually, she doesn't have it written down, but the secret ingredient is bacon grease. She makes it very rarely, you can almost feel the arteries harden as you munch down every delicious bite. But it is pure heaven. She cooks one package of bacon, putting in all of the grease and about a third of the bacon. That's to a recipe with roughly a pound of beef, sirloin with the fat and grease removed. Other than that, it's pretty standard.

Posted by: DuWayne at August 2, 2007 9:52 AM

Thanks, funny story about marriage, I had a girlfreind(catholic) who was always pressuring me to get married. She said it wasnt about the legal aspects but the morailty of the "INSTITUTION". One day I said fine - lets have your priest marry us and we just wont sign a marrige licence, that way we will be married in the eyes of your church and familly but not the government.
We broke up about a week later, aparently it was about the state - which just happened to be a community property no fault divorce state.

Posted by: lujlp at August 2, 2007 1:22 PM

Being a hetero couple, the legal aspects aren't a huge fear, at least for the moment - we don't have much in the way of property. As I am moving us slowly into the middle class, it is slightly more of a concern, but even there, we have kids together and we both have fairly extensive wills - including living wills, so there isn't much to concern us. It just seems like getting a civil union, wouldn't be a bad idea. If we ever split (which is about as likely as as our sun going supernova tomorrow), I would give her the bulk of the property anyways, after securing residency for myself.

Posted by: DuWayne at August 2, 2007 2:09 PM

"Furthermore, there have been no large, randomized, double-blind, studies as to whether it's safe to eat large quantities of soy, and if I were you, I'd think twice about the safety of a vegetarian or vegan diet until there's conclusive evidence for the health and safety of soy."

Obviously you're just trying to score debate points with this, and I realize that it's very de rigueur amongst the counter-conventional wisdom crowd to question the safety of soy; but it is the considered position of the American Dietetic Association that vegetarian/vegan diets are safe and healthy:

It's interesting that you demand "large, randomized, double-blind, studies" in order to evaluate the safety of eating "large quantities of soy". You really haven't thought that one through very well, have you? Just how exactly would you propose to feed large quantities of soy to your study participants without them or the researchers being aware of it? And presumably you'd want these studies to be carried out over a substantial amount of time in order to look at the long-term effects of such a diet, yes? Do you really think it's fair to demand such a study before concluding that it's safe to follow a vegan/vegetarian diet? Do vegan/vegetarian diets necessarily entail eating "large quantities of soy"? And finally, pick something that you enjoy eating; are you aware of any "large, randomized, double-blind, studies" that demonstrate its safety?

Posted by: Bison at August 3, 2007 10:17 AM

It may be the position of the American Dietetic Assn, but as Taubes book will prove, it's not based on science but a rubberstamping of what's considered to be good nutrition based on bad science.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 3, 2007 10:34 AM

Meat is the perfect food for humans. We evolved eating meat, and it seems likely that meat was what allowed us to develop the large brains we have. (See skulls discovered in Croatia.) I'm back on deadline, so I can't post as comprehensively on this as I'd like. Basically, if you want to be healthy, eat a paleolithic diet -- as few agricultural products as you can, vegetables that existed in the Pleistocene (not corn, squash, etc.) and animal, poultry, and fish flesh.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 3, 2007 10:41 AM

Did they have coffee in the paleolithic era?

Posted by: Norman at August 4, 2007 2:20 AM

Bison you are being stupid, at no point did Amy claim that eating what you enjoy is healthy for you, but vegits often do in regards to soy.

Also, how can you possibly argue on the one hand that soy is safe to eat and then argue that it isnt safe to have people eat soy for the purpose of a study?

Either it is safe or it isnt - maybe we should find out, but saying "I think its safe, but I also think it is too risky to see if it really is safe" Well thats just stupid.

Posted by: lujlp at August 4, 2007 2:32 AM

We had a lovely dinner last night of venison steaks, lightly sauteed in just a smidge of butter with cracked black pepper and garlic powder, with what my kids call "POP" veggies (Potatoes, Onions, and red & green Peppers, cut into chunks and sauteed in a little olive oil with cajun seasoning) served on the side.

(BF is very much looking forward to the hunting season this year, because Fairfiled county just opened previously closed lands to hunting, due to the huge (and growing) deer population. Seems too many SUVs and Beemers are getting wrecked on the Merrit Parkway and other state roads, by deer foraging for food. He, along with some other guys who hunt together, donates whatever meat they aren't able to store for future use, to homeless shelters statewide. Feeding people and reducing the over-crowded deer population are just 2 efforts that are part of a bigger conservation program that these guys support.)

Posted by: Flynne at August 5, 2007 1:51 PM

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