Tag Archives: Vegan

Pondering [the food at] the #immersivestorytelling Symposium @ljmu – a fill-in-the-blanks festive entry (fun for all the family)

The golden rule of attending any event as a ________ is to go prepared. Either eat before you go, take a packed lunch, be prepared to have to search around for food, or go hungry for the duration (admittedly, things are getting easier for ________ as the turn to a ________ diet attracts mainstream attention). Gather my amazement upon return from procuring a cup of coffee to find that the food had been laid out with thought and care – long table of animalised protein* items, then a table with feminised proteins,* and finally, a sufficient distance from the animalised proteins so that the overpowering smell of decomposing flesh was not an issue for my nasal receptors, a table of ________ food, each tray with its own handwritten tag spelling out what each item was, and for whom it was suitable – examples from this final table included pea-mint hummus wraps, aubergine and roast veg on ciabatta slices, and my personal favourite, a nutty/mushroom filling in pastry.

It’s a coincidence that the symposium was timed between two major celebrations, Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively, where the consumption of animal corpses (predominantly turkey) passes in most households without a thought for the processes involved in the industrialised “factory farming” of animals. So, after sampling some wonderfully tasty ________ items at the symposium buffet, it seems apt, as a ________ to post the following comment from Carol J. Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory:

“[W]e refer to meat eating rather than to corpse eating [as] a central example of how our language transmits the dominant culture’s approval of this activity” (48)

The question I’d pose, here, is: Just how tasty is the corpse in your mouth as you sit round the table with loved ones?

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* Phrases taken from Adams’ book.

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Pondering Plutarch #1 De Esu Carnium

Just a mini-ponder on a person writing a couple of thousand years ago, but who so simply cuts to the chase of the veganism versus meat-eating debate. Plutarch writes:

Well, then, we understand that that sort of men are used to say, that in eating of flesh they follow the conduct and direction of Nature. But that it is not natural to mankind to feed on flesh, we first of all demonstrate from the very shape and figure of the body. For a human body no ways resembles those that were born for ravenousness; it hath no hawk’s bill, no sharp talon, no roughness of teeth, no such strength of stomach or heat of digestion, as can be sufficient to convert or alter such heavy and fleshy fare (“Plutarch on why eating animals is repulsive” – trans. Baxter v.09.13, http://www.philaletheians.co.uk/study-notes/down-to-earth/plutarch-on-why-eating-animals-is-repulsive-tr.-baxter.pdf).

He does go on to expand upon this point (and that may come up in future ponderings), but for now it’s sufficient for us to stop and think about what he is saying here, for we can all recognise this in our own bodies – we do not share the same physiology as the shark, the crocodile, the lion, the hawk, or any other natural born meat-eating predators, who catch, kill, and eat their prey in one movement. And if you disagree with what Plutarch says, then try it today. Find the cow, pig, chicken, or whatever animal you think you would like to eat, and kill it with only the tools that your body has – will your teeth be sufficient to strike an artery; will your nails be able to wrench the animals skin from its flesh; will you be satisfied with the taste of warm, bloody flesh, uncooked and with no seasonings or sauces to disguise its flavour?

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Do let me know how you get on. Me, I’m off to chew on some nuts and seeds.


The End of the Game

Death surrounds Peter Beard’s The End of the Game, not only in terms of the book’s subject matter but also in the fact that this particular edition was given as a gift to someone who died soon after receiving it, and so it returns to my bookshelf – don’t think the recipient had much of a chance to glance through it before dying.

It may come to be viewed as a strange artefact one day, a book like this, with its detailed imagery of human interference in animal affairs. One word in particular, a loaded word, springs to mind when thinking of human/animal interaction: dominion. There’s a debate going on at the moment as to whether some of us humans have misinterpreted the Bible’s meaning w/r/t the word itself. Has our interpretation of dominion led us towards endless destruction rather than promoting a sense of responsibility? The pictures give a clue to the answer to such a question.


Current Adam Curtis Obsession #1

Tying in with a recent article on the “unstoppable rise of veganism,” a podcast of Russell Brand’s interview with Adam Curtis, “Do We Really Want Change?,” offers a potential route forward from the seemingly destined-to-fail calls for change that we have witnessed over the last decade or so, whether the Occupy Movement in the west, or the ripples of revolution around the middle-east.

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Curtis identifies an actual, though brief, moment in history that resulted in monumental change, and which came from the Civil Rights movement in the southern states of the U.S.:

“White activists and black activists joined together and they spent years giving their lives, and in many cases literally, up to trying to change the world, which they did, and they surrendered themselves to that” (0:22:20 – 0:22:30).

Curtis details the success of the movement and the subsequent failure of the New Left as the rise of “individualism” takes hold, disrupting the coming together of groups of people, instead spreading the message that to be “true” to yourself is the real “goal” in life and that from that (being an individual) the world will change as a result (which it hasn’t). So, with veganism on the rise (around 1% of the U.K. population is believed to be vegan) is it time to recognise that when veganism is most challenging and difficult that it is at its most effective?

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What I mean, here, is that the growing trend for multinationals to assimilate veganism into their practices (many of them dubious in nature) is perhaps yet another example of individualism working for the benefit of the corporations and managers of capitalism. The capitalist model has tapped into the fact that being vegan is not always easy (you can’t just nip into any old shop to buy a snack without inspecting the contents of that pack in the first place (and even then you need to be clued up to the names that are used to describe the ingredients).

So, instead of the practices of old, where (and this is true, I’ve heard many a vegan testify to this) vegans would meet with other vegans to discuss foods that they can eat, sharing knowledge, and maybe even discuss activism and the like (perhaps they can be called We-gans), “new vegans” are being presented with a rich array of products that save them from having to do so, thus removing some of the discomfort and inconvenience of having to “go out of your way” to source information. In doing so, vegans are being kept isolated from one another in that there is a lack of incentive to grow the vegan community (perhaps they can be called Me-gans) – instead, becoming individual vegans, just as the markets require us to be.

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A great example of this has to be McDonald’s new “Vegan” Burger, which reads like a contradiction in terms, or just a really sick joke. One of the largest killers of animals on the planet asking vegans to come into their “restaurants” and sit side-by-side with carnivores? Bizarre, but true. The motives behind the launch of the McVegan can only be linked to profit, for there can be no ethical reasons behind the decision, as the animal slaughter continues unabated.

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So, try not to get too excited at veganism going “mainstream” because you may just get what you didn’t ask for. Instead, think of the myriad ways that you, in your small but perfectly capable way, could disrupt carnivore practices. You could write about it, talk about it, or just do something about it (pouring super glue in the locks of McDonald’s doors as you pass a closed store (making sure that it was dried in time that no McD’s employee would suffer any harm in the process) would be illegal and childish, of course)…


The “Could AI Really do a Worse Job” Posts

Post #3 – When facts and figures just get a bit stupid. Quoting directly from Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism once more, it is astonishing to learn that:

McDonald’s […] is the thirty-eighth biggest economy in the world – bigger than that of Ecuador – and is also the biggest toy distributor in America. In addition, one in eight people in the USA has worked for McDonald’s (277).

 

Now, stop and break that down for a moment. More powerful, economically, than Ecuador (does McDonald’s have a seat at the UN? Should it after learning how huge and influential it must be? Is there some sort of ethical and moral code that should kick in when a burger joint gets to be this huge? And here comes the vegan bit of me – is it acceptable for a company to grow to become this huge when it pretty much occurs on the back of ceaseless, horrific slaughter of animals?).

 

And it’s not a toy company, so what do we think that the above statistic speaks of? The coercion of minors for profit? The shameless exploitation of a child’s propensity to want the toy that is linked to the latest movie/TV/gaming craze?

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And where do the other 7 out of 8 people work?

Potential AI solution: on the back of a justice system overseen by the logic and impartiality of AI (rather than the self-interest and bias of humans), we will… seize the illegal profits of McDonald’s; jail its owners for mass genocide following war crimes tribunals; turn over the running of the company to its employees, on the proviso that it turns to plant-based, sustainable foods; and use the excess profits to fund research into alternatives to plastic use, and into better recycling of the millions of plastic toys spewed out over the years. Good job, AI.

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Earthlings Film

You simply cannot unwatch something, no matter how hard you try, right? Well, try watching Earthlings (2005) and see how its images haunt your every waking moment. That maybe doesn’t sound like the best invite to a film, but hopefully it will have stirred at least a bit of curiosity in you. Described as “Horror/Documentary” on the Google box thing that appears to the right hand side of all the web listings, that just about sums it up. Narrated by Joaquin Pheonix.

For a gentler, yet no less horrific tale, see Simon Amstell’s Carnage (it’s very good).

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Vegan Schmegan: Three Huge Reasons (Reason Three)

The flippant nature of comments around the subject of animal consumption, whether the meat of an animal or products made from its lactations, can be interesting to hear. I’ve had conversations with people telling me they’ll continue to eat meat just because they don’t like being told what to do by others, and still others telling me that they really don’t care about the implications of doing so. And to a certain extent you have to think, well, okay, it’s a free world, and all that, but then, if you choose to turn to three huge reasons for giving up not only meat but all animal derived products, it turns out that you’d have to be something of a sadist not to give it up.

Huge Reason #3: Animal Agriculture is Animal Genocide

By eating meat, fish, dairy, etc., you are condoning genocide on a scale heretofore unknown. It’s like turning a blind eye to the Holocaust. It’s allowing the agriculture industry to operate like a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Genghis Khan, without actually caring about the billions of deaths that occur each year. See Yuval Noah Harari’s article, here.

To remain unaffected after learning this fact means that you are prepared to allow billions of living, sentient beings to be slaughtered in unimaginably horrible ways: because you like the taste of meat/fish/dairy.

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