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Sunday Links Roundup: The Slightly Late Edition

Yesterday afternoon turned into madly busy craziness, so this week’s link roundup is a day late.  All apologies, and apologies also if this post is coloured by the mental effect of my four hours of sleep last night and the physical effect of my assorted sore muscles from this morning’s run.  I’m not good at Sundays.

  • Sarah Palin  has the wit and wisdom of your average fourteen year old boy.  This woman was seven percent of the vote and one heart attack from the United States presidency:

“If any vegans came over for dinner, I could whip them up a salad, then explain my philosophy on being a carnivore,” she wrote. “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?”

“I love meat,” she writes. “I eat pork chops, thick bacon burgers, and the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-done steak. But I especially love moose and caribou. I always remind people from outside our state that there’s plenty of room for all Alaska’s animals — right next to the mashed potatoes.”

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Veganism and Men’s Businesswear

The author. Not pictured: Vegan clothing.

On Tuesday, I ordered my first vegan suit. Well, my first suit that might be vegan. Law, like many professions, has an unspoken uniform. Conservative business dress involves numerous animal products. Shoes must, of course, look like leather, but that is just the start. Once a month, or more, a friend will ask where I buy my shoes. However, most of the animal products involved in the suit-and-tie ensemble are less obvious than leather.

And they’re harder to avoid. I have made excuses about the wool and silk in my wardrobe for the last two years. Most of those excuses were rubbish. It is possible to get mostly vegan work attire without too much effort, and without wearing a hemp suit ordered online, which – alas – would not go down well at a law office. However, looking carefully at each item reveals that it is fairly easy to get very close to a vegan wardrobe, but very hard to guarantee absolute freedom from animal products. Unless you’re ordering a bespoke suit that costs as much as a small car, the risk remains.

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Misconceptions: Protein

Possibly one of the most common questions asked of a vegan is: ‘How do you get enough protein?’

My favourite (cheeky) answer is: ‘To which amino acid do you refer?’ (I must thank Isa Chandra Moskowitz in the magnificent Veganomicon for that one.)

Proteins are composed of amino acids; these are our cellular building blocks.  There are twenty standard amino acids taken up by the body through the food we eat. Nine of these cannot be synthesised by the body itself and must be obtained from food; these are known as the ‘essential’ amino acids.  Requirements are a little different for children, as a further five of the twenty standard amino acids are required for normal growth.  The main vegan sources of protein are nuts, grains, and legumes, although there are smaller proportions in many other plant foods. Continue reading

Saturday Links: The Absurdity Edition


'Watch out! Someone might be making toast nearby!' (iPod not pictured)

This week, we’ve decided to theme the links digest.  The general theme for the last week seems to be the absolutely ridiculous – even more than normal!  So, without further delay:

  • AnimalBlawg reports on a new development: Ipods for pets.  Do we even need to say why this is madness?
  • Someone threw a butter knife at a racehorse: The manhunt is underway.  Nevermind that these animals are bought and sold, treated as nothing more than investments, drugged, whipped, raced to death, and killed (for ‘pet food’).  Someone threw a knife that’s sharp enough to cut margarine at them!  The moral double standard of animal welfare at its finest.
  • Golf is more important to the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department than endangered species.  I couldn’t make this up.

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Eaten Alive

In rather disturbing news this week, news outlets in the UK have detailed the proclivity for ‘live cuisine’ – the eating of animals that are still alive – in some Asian countries. Popular, and in some cases merely rumoured, dishes include live octopus, monkey brains, and still-beating snake heart. A YouTube video showing the consumption of a live carp that has been deep-fried but for its head has recently received very wide coverage. It is age-restricted, but similar videos (such as live squid eating) are easily found and abound on the web. Surely this is the absolute nadir of human treatment of animals.

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Animal Welfare ‘Spin’

In the first SoLVe Seminar held earlier this year, I spoke about the dangers of animal welfare ‘spin’ being used by government and animal industries, and how difficult it was for the ordinary consumer to decipher the messages being put out about the treatment of animals.  It’s not like the ‘old days’ where animal welfare was simply ignored, and farmers would respond to concerns by saying that ‘animals didn’t matter’ or ‘couldn’t feel pain’.  Instead, those in power now respond with much more refined language.   They talk about how essential welfare is, and remind us that New Zealand has (they claim) the highest standards in the world.   This type of PR ‘spin’ is, in my view, much tougher to combat.   Continue reading

Saturday Links

  • eatinganimalsbookcoverOn Sunday, the New Yorker posted an in-depth review of Jon Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, titled ‘Flesh of Your Flesh: Should you eat meat?’.  To quote:

But is even veganism really enough? The cost that consumer society imposes on the planet’s fifteen or so million non-human species goes way beyond either meat or eggs. Bananas, bluejeans, soy lattes, the paper used to print this magazine, the computer screen you may be reading it on—death and destruction are embedded in them all. It is hard to think at all rigorously about our impact on other organisms without being sickened.

“Eating Animals” closes with a turkey-less Thanksgiving. As a holiday, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. But this is Foer’s point. We are, he suggests, defined not just by what we do; we are defined by what we are willing to do without. Vegetarianism requires the renunciation of real and irreplaceable pleasures. To Foer’s credit, he is not embarrassed to ask this of us.

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NZ Game Hunting Council to be Formed

top_bannerA new Game Hunting Council is to be formed to regulate the hunting of New Zealand’s many introduced animals;  particularly deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs. Most of these animals were introduced specifically to be hunted; it is telling that until 1990, the district bodies regulating hunting were known as ‘Acclimatisation Societies’. Some background on the Council:

In 2007 a Ministerial panel looked into future options for managing game animals and recommended the formation of a Big Game Hunting Council. The new Council is being established to represent the interests of hunters and game animal managers, and to manage and regulate the game animal resource, while having regard to the environmental effects of deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs. It will carry out a range of functions relating to the hunting, farming and management of those animals. “In carrying out its functions, the proposed Council will recognise both the value these animals have to recreational hunters, commercial hunters, farmers and the public in general and that their numbers need to be controlled for conservation reasons,” said Garry Ottmann, chairperson of the Establishment Committee.

Hunting is exempted from the cruelty standards of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 by s175.

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Blogging at The Solution

I’ve posted a new blog on my personal web site that explains why I’m blogging more here – at The Solution – and less there! The blog provides some additional SoLVe background that might be of interest.  Check it out!

Peter and James

Crafar Farms and Cattle Rustling: Who Polices the Animal Welfare Act 1999?

Stolen Sheep!

Last week, Crafar Farms skulked back into the news.  And so did cattle rustling, a phenomenon most of us last encountered in a Spaghetti Western.  However, Sunday last week, the Herald reported the theft of 1,000 to 2,000 cows.  To quote:

Michael Stiassny is missing a few cows – more than 1000. Stiassny was appointed receiver of the Crafarms group in October after the family-owned company collapsed under heavy debts and multiple prosecutions for effluent discharge.

The stolen cows have a commercial value in excess of one million dollars.  So what is Crafar’s receiver to do?  Call the police, of course:

Stiassny … said he would be approaching police.

This is probably no surprise.  After all, cattle are property.  Stealing cattle is theft.  Theft is a crime.  When a crime is committed, you call the police.  Simple.  But a different logic applied in September, when Crafar was outed for gross violations of the most basic welfare standards.  Breaches of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (the Act) are crimes, but no one called the police on Crafar.  Why not?

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