Sarah’s Travel Blog

Don’t know how I missed it up to this point, but Sarah Kramer’s 2005 Book Tour Blog has been going for a few months. Of course, it’s a good read and she’s going to continue writing there even with her tour now completed (damn it! I missed her in B’more).

I got a copy of Sarah’s latest, La Dolce Vegan, to review. Huyen and I have made a bunch of stuff from it already and loved it all, so expect a glowing review to appear here soon.

Wife Swap: The Report

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So, I watched last night’s episode of Wife Swap (jeez, the things I do for you people!) and I’ll be darned: it was actually a pretty even-handed, non-exploitative show. Well, as much as one named Wife Swap can be, I guess.

For one, no one person was made out to be the kook. Even the raw foodist’s desire to “eat sun” was handled with delicate humor (in the funniest moment, one of the little boys declares privately to the camera, “She eats sun. That’s creepy.”). The vegan family’s daughter stood up for her beliefs and refused to eat or buy meat and the hunting family’s husband even saw how a more gentle approach to child rearing can work with more hyper, violent kids.

The most important lesson, though, was the one that the vegan/raw foodist mother learned from the hunting father: one person can’t carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Animal rights activists have a high rate of burnout and this is exactly why. It’s easy to become discouraged with the unending suffering that seems impossible to stop, and if we let that overtake us, we just end up as miserable grouches who either can’t get anyone to listen to us or who completely give up activism, seeing it as a lost cause. We’ve got to take time for ourselves and enjoy life. In the end, everyone benefits.

The only real frustrating point of the show came when the hunting mother (who was the only person on the whole show who didn’t seem to change at all) had a showdown with the vegan father and daughter. It was an unfortunate argument where the mother claimed that AR activists were trying to vilify her and her family because they need to hunt for food to survive. This could have been easily diffused by explaining that the majority of AR people focus their attention on “sport” hunters and not the few that actually need to (and do) hunt for their food. Of course, by the end of the episode, she was out hunting in what looked more like a sporting manner than one to supply needed food for the family.

All-in-all, it was a well handled episode that–though it lacked the sizzle of the God Warrior on Trading Spouses–showed two families learning something from each other and being (relatively) respectful of the other’s beliefs.

There’s something wrong with the world when I’m criticizing 60 Minutes for being uneven and praising Wife Swap for their fairness.

Wife Swapping

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I’m heavy on the posts today, I know… last one for today:

You’ve surely heard all about the mess that was the vegan mother on Trading Spouses. Well, tonight on Wife Swap (what classy shows we have!) is a mother who hunts swapping with a raw foodist.

Uh-oh.

McNuggets of Wisdom

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This weekend, an article in the Washington Post appeared titled “McNuggets of Wisdom.” The article focused on the question of whether or not chickens are as smart as dogs and takes place at none other than Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, my favorite place to spend a Saturday.

It’s a cute article, lighthearted and generally positive towards chickens. But articles like this get me thinking: we spend an awful lot of time figuring out how “smart” one animal is versus another… pigs are more intelligent than dogs and can play video games, chickens aren’t as smart as cows because their brain is smaller, etc. When all is said and done, does any of that really matter?

In the west, we place a lot of value on intelligence in animals and seem to avoid eating those that are somehow “more intelligent” like horses, dogs, or cats. I don’t think that sentience or the will to live is dictated solely by intelligence, but we tend to tie these things together and use them to determine an animal’s “value.” Besides, it’s a pretty pointless exercise trying to compare the intelligence of chickens and dogs… they’re intelligent in different ways. Sure, a chicken won’t fetch a frisbee, but the social structures they form are surprisingly complex.

Just as a person’s true value doesn’t lie in his intelligence, any other animal’s value shouldn’t either.

Generation V

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Even though the blog has been around since July of last year, I didn’t come across Generation V until Veg Blog visitor Brandy pointed it out to me a week or two ago. Site proprietors Chris and Tammy have also just started a podcast worth checking out. Their most recent episode features audio from the PETA 25th anniversary gala that you’re not likely to find elsewhere.

The vegan blog community continues to grow!