The New Veggie Anthem?


I’ve been a big fan of this song ever since it came out a few years ago (and a fan of the producer and vocalist for years before that). Sure, it perpetuates the myth of pigs being “unclean,” but still, you’ve gotta admit this is one of the catchiest vegetarian anthems in recent memory:

ABC’s dairy expose


Have you seen the piece that aired on World News Tonight and Nightline last night? Let’s talk about it a bit.

Just to get it out of the way: yes, the story has the expected issue of focusing on abuse rather than use, but I’m going to focus on the positive effect a piece like this could have. Here’s why I think that, obvious problems aside, the airing of this piece will be positive in the long run:

1. It aired on a mainstream news program (actually, programs)

This piece aired on ABC during prime time on World News Tonight and later in the evening on Nightline. The former is a news broadcast my dad watches (he’s not one for overtly political leaning newscasts in either direction). That’s mainstream. And they’re showing footage from Mercy for Animals. That’s pretty impressive. Sure, it’s happened before, but when this sort of footage gets in front of a mainstream audience, the idea of veganism seems a little more normal to these same people.

2. A dairy farmer dug his own hole

Did you catch the dairy farmer they interviewed? He started off by giving the standard “it’s in our best interest to treat them well” line and shortly thereafter was stumbling all over himself defending tail docking and horn clipping as “standard industry practice” (which it is) and saying, “Of course I wish we didn’t have to do it…” It was enough to make you feel sorry for the guy. Almost. Except for the whole exploiting animals for personal gain thing.

I don’t think too many people can get behind docking cow’s tails or cutting their horns. (Except for those who convince themselves it’s not a standard practice.)

3. The artificial insemination footage

It was only about two or three seconds long and it only aired on the Nightline version of the story, but I think the very brief shot they showed of a farmhand elbow deep, artificially inseminating a dairy cow could be the most important piece of footage. I think the majority of people still kid themselves with visions of happy bovines humping in meadows of green grass. I’m also pretty sure the sentiment that “well, the cows have to be milked” is still prevalent. This very short piece of footage, though, is like a slap in the face: no, these dairy cows are not naturally pregnant and happily giving their milk to us. We’re raping them, confining them, and then stealing the milk meant for their offspring, all so we can have our next hit of cheese.

I’m hoping that short bit of video replays in people’s minds when they sit down with a glass of milk or a bowl of ice cream.

And, yes, there are some problems…

While the majority of the piece focuses on these cruel practices that are going on every second of every day, there’s just enough of the welfare message that I can certainly imagine someone coming away with the idea that, “Hey, that’s awful, but at least they’re starting to phase out those practices. Now I can feel OK about consuming milk.” And that’s the big downside of championing welfare legislation as a victory: a marginal welfare improvement becomes marketing fodder for the dairy industry.

And in case there’s any doubt that this is the message that people are getting, one need look no further than the comment section on the web version of the story (or a blog entry from before the story aired). Skip past all of the “gee, thanks for only showing one side of the story!” comments and you get to ones like this:

“I pledge to drink water and hope everyone that reads this will do the same. We can live without milk, until the humane society can get this straightened out.”

It’s a shame, because if that quote ended after “We can live without milk,” it’d be perfectly fine. But I’m sorry to say: if you wait for the Humane Society to “straighten it out,” there’s a problem. Everyone has to stop waiting for someone else to fix the problem. You can help fix the problem right now, this instant. Stop drinking milk, stop eating cheese, stop eating ice cream, stop consuming dairy. There’s no magic welfare wand that can be waved that will make it all OK. I hope that soon people will start coming away from stories like this thinking, “That’s terrible and I’m not going to be a part of it” rather than “That’s terrible and, boy oh boy, someone should do something about it!”

(If you haven’t seen the story, here’s the shorter version that aired on World News Tonight. A longer version appeared on Nightline, but doesn’t appear to be archived online.)

Triple Doozy Catch-Up Review (and a Giveaway)


Three mini-reviews for you this time around, to start making up (again) for lost time. If you just want to enter the contest, jump right to it.

In Search of the Lost Taste

I’ve been a fan of Microcosm Publishing for a number of years. Though I was a latecomer to the DIY wonder that are zines, I’ve been able to make up for lost time by ordering hand-drawn comics, zine anthologies, and, most importantly, cookzines (and though I’m sure they exist, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-vegan cookzine). Though I’m a regular Microcosm customer, they’ve also sent along a number of items to review and I’ve been pretty poor about keeping up.

The latest item they sent along was a copy of Joshua Ploeg’s In Search of the Lost Taste. Ploeg is a traveling vegan personal chef that wrote the entertaining A Chef’s Tale travel zine based on his time on the road as a traveling chef. If you’ve read A Chef’s Tale you’ll be ready for the unique approach Ploeg takes in In Search of the Lost Taste.

A combination cookbook and surreal tale of a tomato and aliens, Ploeg’s latest is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Ploeg takes pride in combining seemingly incompatible ingredients and creating something amazine out of them. Where else have you seen recipes like:

  • Bamboo, Radish, Leek Hearts & Fried Gluten in Spicy Coconut Milk Sauce
  • Cherry Wontons with Plum-Brandy Sauce and Yam-Mango Ice Cream
  • Orange and Vanilla Tart with Mint & Pineapple Glaze
  • or, Beet Pancakes with Creamy Dill Sauce & Wild Mushroom-Walnut Spread

While the book is aimed at the more adventurous eaters (I wouldn’t, for example, choose one of these recipes to serve to your grandmother-who-only-eats-beef as her first introduction to vegan food), you won’t find yourself thinking, “Oh man… another ‘Basic Hummus’ recipe?!!”

Thusfar, we’ve only tried one recipe (Potato-Cucumber Salad with Onions & Sweet-Sour Parsley Vinaigrette, which, by the way, makes a metric asston of food). It was very tasty and leaves me anxious to explore some of Ploeg’s more avant-garde recipes. (And the illustrations are great, too.)

Want a copy? You’ve got two choices:

  1. Tweet the following phrase: “Hey, @thevegblog, I want to win a copy of ‘In Search of Lost Taste’! #losttaste” On Tuesday January 26th at 9am eastern, I’ll pick a winner. I’ll ship anywhere in the world. Maybe even to the moon.
  2. Pick up a copy at Microcosm or AK Press for well under $10.

“Peace To All Creatures” Zine

The world can never have enough vegan-themed zines, so I was happy to see another one hitting the shelves last year titled “Peace to All Creatures.” Designwise, it’s quite nice, with an attractive color cover, nice photography (including a shot by yours truly in the second issue), and articles split into three categories: animals, veg diet & health, and social & green issues. The zine is edited by Pippi Howard from Colorado and Jessi VanPelt from Orlando (yes, seriously, it’s a zine that’s not produced in Portland!) and all of the writers in the first issue are women. There’s a little something for everyone here, from an article on vegan diets for dogs to a piece about pet snails and a feature about green art studios.

Given that non-glossy vegan magazines are slim pickings these days, it’s nice to see a well-written, well-designed zine like “Peace to All Creatures.” Sure, there are a thousand vegan blogs out there today, but it’s really nice to have something like this to leave out on your coffee table for visitors to flip through. Well done, Pippi and Jessi!

You can buy the first two issues on Etsy. And of course, there’s a Facebook page as well.

Vegan Fire & Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes

I’ll come clean right now and tell you I can’t deal with hot and spicy food very well. Plus, with a three-year-old, our food tends to be on the milder side. With that in mind, I wasn’t expecting to be able to make much out of Vegan Fire & Spice. It’s certainly not because I’m not a fan of Robin Robertson’s books — the pot pie from Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes is one of my favorites and I really enjoyed Quick-Fix Vegetarian. As it turns out, we just cut back a bit and have enjoyed everything we’ve made from here thusfar (plus, Robinson notes that “spicy doesn’t have to mean hot,” so not all of the recipes are made to singe your palate).

Each recipe is marked with a number of peppers, to help give an indication of how much you can expect your mouth to burn. The book is divided into five sections (The Americas, Mediterranean Europe, Middle East/Africa, India, and Asia), each with several subsections. As with all of Robinson’s books, each recipe is given context with a short write-up and there’s an informative introduction.

Thusfar, we’ve made with success: Vietnamese Noodles with Tempeh and Peanuts (big yum!), Baked Mahogany Tempeh, the very easy and tasty Ginger Broccoli, and South African Green beans.

While this book seems to have not received as much attention as her others (including her most recent, 1,000 Vegan Recipes (!!!)), every time I pick it up, I find another recipe I want to try. It’s a good one, even if you’re a hot and spicy wimp like me.

(Edited to provide an alternate source for Joshua Ploeg’s book.)