Zombie Pigs

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Cloning opens door to ‘farmyard freaks’

However, GM scientists are actively investigating ways to remove the stress and aggression gene from animals, effectively turning them into complacent zombies.

The professor said it might become technically possible to produce “animal vegetables” – beasts which are “highly prolific and oblivious to their physical and mental status”.

DAMN IT. Seriously. When will we stop acting like idiots trying to invent sentience-free animals and just, you know, stop eating animals that don’t want to be eaten?!

(via BoingBoing)

links for 2007-01-11

My New Year’s Wish

There are a lot of great companies out there, large and small, that are making products with sustainability and ethics in mind. A lot of them started small and got acquired by larger companies, which causes some justified concern about the integrity, ongoing direction, and ultimate intentions of the company going forward, but we’ll leave that aside for now.

My New Year’s wish is directed at those companies, big and small, that are “nearly vegan”… companies that have always made products without meat, that market themselves to vegetarians, and make it very clear which of their products are vegan. There are a lot of these types of companies, but for no reason other than their visibility, I’ll single out two: Amy’s Kitchen and Endangered Species Chocolate. Both companies are well aware of vegans and make it clear which of their products are vegan-safe, which is great. But here’s the question: why not go all the way?

While Amy’s doesn’t come right out and mention ethics or animal rights in their mission statement, but they hint at it. Endangered Species, though, uses animals as their primary focus. They donate a percentage of their profits to animal-related charities and they use only “ethically traded” cocoa. Shoot, their mission statement even starts off: “Here, our core value is Reverence for Life…”

Why, then, do both companies use dairy-based ingredients in their products? It’s been well-argued by Erik Marcus and others* that dairy is an even worse ethical choice than beef, so it’s not ethically consistent for pro-animal companies to involve themselves in any sort of animal exploitation, let alone something as egregiously exploitative as dairy.

Amy’s: you already leave out eggs. Your recent deal with Follow Your Heart means you can ditch the dairy and non-vegan soy cheese. Your spinach and soy cheese pizza on rice crust is incredible. So, c’mon, just do it! And Endangered Species: everyone knows that milk chocolate is inferior to dark chocolate. Why not go all the way and offer strictly dark chocolate, sans dairy?

* Beware the second-to-last paragraph in that linked article–it’s garbage.

The Bloodless Revolution

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The Bloodless Revolution

If history’s your thing and you’re vegetarian, there’s a new book on the shelves that may be worth your time to check out: The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times by Tristram Stuart.

When the book’s press agent (a vegetarian, it should be noted) sent this along, I got really excited about it. It’s got to be the most comprehensive and thorough book on the subject of the history of vegetarianism. But here’s the thing: there’s no chance I’m going to get a chance to read and review this book with the attention it deserves anytime before Rasine goes off to college.

At over 450 pages of content, it’s a dense book, to say the least. The bibliography is insane. The references are impeccably noted. It’s an impressive book and (from what I can tell so far), a well-written one, to boot. Here’s a brief rundown of what you can expect:

How Western Christianity and Eastern philosophy merged to spawn a political movement that had the prohibition of meat at its core

The Bloodless Revolution is a pioneering history of puritanical revolutionaries, European Hinduphiles, and visionary scientists who embraced radical ideas from the East and conspired to overthrow Western society’s voracious hunger for meat. At the heart of this compelling history are the stories of John Zephaniah Holwell, survivor of the Black Hole of Calcutta, and John Stewart and John Oswald, who traveled to India in the eighteenth century, converted to the animal-friendly tenets of Hinduism, and returned to Europe to spread the word. Leading figures of the Enlightenment–among them Rousseau, Voltaire, and Benjamin Franklin–gave intellectual backing to the vegetarians, sowing the seeds for everything from Victorian soup kitchens to contemporary animal rights and environmentalism.

Since there won’t be a proper review here for The Bloodless Revolution before 2024, I encourage you to check the book out if history’s your thing. It may well become one of those books that we’ll be referring to 15, 20 years from now.