Month: August 2005

RECIPE: Tempeh Bacon Salad

A personal favorite, I have been known to eat one of these per week.

Ingredients

  • 1 pre-washed package of mixed baby greens
  • 1 package of tempeh bacon
  • Candied pecans/walnuts, or pine nuts (ideally from bulk foods, since they get kind pricey)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (experiment until you find your favorite – mine is the Whole Foods brand, 365)

Prep

  • Place the salad into two large bowls and top with the nuts and cranberries (use however much looks right to you, but don’t go crazy)
  • Slice the tempeh bacon into domino-sized strips
  • Saute the tempeh bacon until thoroughly heated (you can further flavor to taste, if so inclined)
  • Top the salads with tempeh bacon
  • Serve with dressing

All beings that feel pain deserve human rights

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | All beings that feel pain deserve human rights

I would have posted this over the weekend, but my review of Vegan Freak was running a bit later than I had hoped, and I didn’t want to post anything that would detract from that.

This is a commentary from the man who coined the word “speciesism” and now discusses his philosophy of “painism” (not very catchy) for animal rights or, really, rights or interests for any thing capable of feeling pain.

Excerpts:

…happiness is made easier by freedom from all forms of pain and suffering…

…One of the important tenets of painism (the name I give to my moral approach) is that we should concentrate upon the individual because it is the individual – not the race, the nation or the species – who does the actual suffering. For this reason, the pains and pleasures of several individuals cannot meaningfully be aggregated, as occurs in utilitarianism and most moral theories. One of the problems with the utilitarian view is that, for example, the sufferings of a gang-rape victim can be justified if the rape gives a greater sum total of pleasure to the rapists. But consciousness, surely, is bounded by the boundaries of the individual. My pain and the pain of others are thus in separate categories; you cannot add or subtract them from each other. They are worlds apart.

Without directly experiencing pains and pleasures they are not really there – we are counting merely their husks. Thus, for example, inflicting 100 units of pain on one individual is, I would argue, far worse than inflicting a single unit of pain on a thousand or a million individuals, even though the total of pain in the latter case is far greater. In any situation we should thus concern ourselves primarily with the pain of the individual who is the maximum sufferer. It does not matter, morally speaking, who or what the maximum sufferer is – whether human, non-human or machine. Pain is pain regardless of its host…

…The simple truth is that we exploit the other animals and cause them suffering because we are more powerful than they are…

…Basically, it boils down to cold logic. If we are going to care about the suffering of other humans then logically we should care about the suffering of non-humans too. It is the heartless exploiter of animals, not the animal protectionist, who is being irrational, showing a sentimental tendency to put his own species on a pedestal. We all, thank goodness, feel a natural spark of sympathy for the sufferings of others. We need to catch that spark and fan it into a fire of rational and universal compassion.

All of this has implications, of course. If we gradually bring non-humans into the same moral and legal circle as ourselves then we will not be able to exploit them as our slaves. Much progress has been made with sensible new European legislation in recent decades, but there is still a very long way to go. Some international recognition of the moral status of animals is long overdue. There are various conservation treaties, but nothing at UN level, for example, that recognises the rights, interests or welfare of the animals themselves. That must, and I believe will, change…

Well, I certainly agree with him on the “cold logic” aspect. What stops me is the headline, which might suggest the notion of equal rights with humans. This is where we run into an impasse with animal exploiters that twist this philosophy to say AR proponents believe animals should have the right to get married or drive a car, though clearly those are privileges, not rights. Animals should have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, though. Don’t you think? Read the entire comment at the linked site, above, and then you comment below!

REVIEW – Vegan Freak: Being Vegan In A Non-Vegan World

In addition to the following review, I recorded a podcast on some thoughts I had about issues the book discussed: MP3 | AAC

Many long-time vegans* have found themselves at some point answering endless, rudimentary questions about switching to a plant-based lifestyle. They probably wished they could simply say “RTFM.” Well, now they can, thanks to Bob and Jenna Torres’ new book, Vegan Freak.

If you’re a vegetarian, or just curious about veganism, but concerned about the ramifications of such a lifestyle change, Vegan Freak is more or less written for you. I know that if a nascent vegan approaches me for advice, I will hand over this book, encouraging also a thorough reading of all the other recommended literature and websites. (full disclosure: they added An Animal-Friendly Life to their list of sites, which was quite welcome, but certainly has no bearing on my opinion of their book)

While a lot of books for animal-free eaters are fairly dry or overly sincere, Vegan Freak is as witty, irreverent, and even occasionally foul-mouthed, as its authors’ blog at veganfreaks.com, which has been linked from here for a while now. They blog there as pleather and vegenaise (named for that delectable condiment that made me forget how nasty mayonnaise is). The book also debuts with a new website, veganfreak.com, complete with its own links, and a even forum — it’s a very nice setup.

Bob and Jenna come across as a fun couple in their blog and podcasts, and their energy seems to have transferred over to the book, for the most part, making for a quick and easy read.

While Vegan Freak does go into some depth about the point of veganism, this is not what you pick up to do intensive research. They guide you to some excellent books instead, and spend the bulk of their time instead going into what it really means to be vegan, how to deal with the non-vegan world on a day-to-day basis, and how to deal with practicalities like animal-friendly toiletries and handling social situations.

Lots of how-tos… As I suggested earlier, it’s pretty much a manual. As such, it’s best read once, dog-eared or tagged, and kept handy as a reference in your early stages of veganism, until you feel comfortable taking off the “training wheels.”

That said–despite my crack about training wheels–what Bob and Jenna write does apply to people who have been vegan longer. They tell their vegan stories, demonstrating just how difficult it can be to get to a comfortable place. Just the other night, despite my best efforts, I was still manipulated by a meat-eater into getting upset as he gave me the dumbest arguments and kept interrupting me when I tried to explain patiently. Well, I just about exploded. He was supposedly a friend, but we weren’t exactly close, and I know better. I let my guard down. Thus I winced as I finished reading Vegan Freak a day or two after that incident. Though vegan for over three years now, I still do not have the patience of a saint. Reading a book like this is a good reminder to refocus and keep breathing through the nonsense.

If nothing else, Vegan Freak‘s up-to-the minute book references and URLs are worth a look. But, of course, there’s more! If at this point you feel you have read a full review and are ready to decide whether or not to buy the book, that’s great.

I also hunkered down to flip through pages I tabbed while reading so I could comment in a podcast on some interesting thoughts the book raised.
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*I prefer to use vegan as an adjective whenever possible, as the noun comes off as too much of a label. Yeah, semantics, but it also sounds better. Here of course, I don’t have much wiggle room without making it sound weirder…