Monday, August 27, 2007

Wedding blues

I actually was looking forward to the wedding on Saturday. My wife's cousin, Erica, had made a point of telling us there would be a vegan meal for us at her wedding reception. Erica and her beau got hitched in the fanciest of places, the country club at The Dominion in San Antonio, the place where country singer George Strait and former basketball great David Robinson and other famous people reside. Normally, when we go to a family event, we come prepared or get a bite to eat beforehand. That wasn't the case, however, when Erica's sister, Susan, got married in January. Susan knew full well we were vegans, so we came relaxed. The only thing we could find at that wedding was chips and salsa -- albeit good chips and salsa. Needless to say, that was a let down, but we let our guard down again this past weekend when we drove four and half hours to attend Erica's wedding. The wedding was beautiful, but what were they thinking to have a wedding outdoors in August in Texas? One of the bridesmaids got faint and had to leave. We had to hear the preacher talk about how a wife is in "servitude" to her husband, but the pastor goes on to say, "That doesn't mean they aren't equals." Huh? I don't care what the Bible says. Servitude means slavery. Supposedly John and Erica really care about animals -- he's a vet, she a nurse and they both are members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Yet, they didn't see anything cruel about releasing turtles and butterflies during the wedding. I thought about those poor butterflies all cooped up and hungry when they flew to the nearest flowers after being released. How many in that box died, I wonder? Anyway, we made it to the reception, which was thankfully indoors. Everyone but us got a plate full of beef kabobs, asparagus, rice and some sort of sauce made out of the beef droppings. We got our plates after everyone else. It was grilled vegetables that were cooked on the grill that had been used for the kabobs. They didn't have any sauce on them. They were disgusting and not vegan. Afterward, we went to a Mediterranean place (Alex's Shish Kabab, 7500 Eckhert Road, No. 152, San Antonio, TX 78249, (210) 680-1826) close to my parents-in-laws' home. This wonderful chef made to-die-for pitas, hummus, fresh baba ganoush and dolmas. The chef had recently come to San Antonio after having had a successful restaurant in Seattle for two decades. We couldn't have been more fortunate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Relief: Hurricane likely to miss Rio Grande Valley

It looks like Hurricane Dean won't hit us in the deepest part of South Texas. It has been a lesson, though, to be better prepared. We need to be ready to board up our windows, sand bag the doors, pick up loose items in the yard, have several days worth of food and water supply, and if we need to evacuate to put our cats (all six) in cat carriers and collect the few most precious items (pictures, important documents) before we leave. Hopefully, if a hurricane ever strikes, there never is any serious flooding in our neighborhood because it would break my heart to lose the plants in our garden.

Dog dumping in South Texas

Fellow Valley resident Noemi Martinez (She runs a kool Web site called Hermana Resist) brought a series animal abuse articles printed in The (McAllen) Monitor to my attention. It looks as though the city of Edcouch was picking up living stray dogs and then dumping their dead carcasses in ditches around Hidalgo County, apparently to save money, according to a city worker. I presume the dogs were being killed somehow, either by starvation or other methods. Either way, this is grossly despicable behavior. "It's revolting and disgusting," Noemi said. I think this shows how mean humans can be, but thank goodness at least one person had a conscience and shed some light on this tragic story and may prevent further abuses. I can't help but think how odd our culture is when it is OK to treat some animals (cows, chickens, pigs) in the torturous conditions of factory farms, but others, such as dogs, cats and horses, draw gasps from most in society when they are treated cruelly. The only reason why The Monitor pursued these stories is because it fit in that weird category where the line is drawn on animal cruelty. The problem is that the ethics of animal cruelty are not consistent, and so it obvious why some can't understand what the rules of decency are. It is equally strange to me why some think it is OK to eat cows, chickens and pigs and odd that someone would consider consuming a horse, dog or cat. We don't need to consume any animal to survive, and if had a culture of treating other animals with dignity and respect as fellow living creatures, we would never fall into the trap of what's ethical or not. Being cruel to any animal would not be ethical, and no one would confuse that. Here are the links to the stories from The Monitor on the dog abuses: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4

Here is a little bit from the first story that Noemi sent me.

EDCOUCH — Nestled in a ditch less than two-tenths of a mile east of the city maintenance shop here rests a lumpy, gray, plastic garbage bag.
Inside it is the fly-ridden, decomposing carcass of what was a black, medium-sized dog.
Municipal workers here have been starving dogs to death and irresponsibly tossing their carcasses in ditches inside and around the city limits for months, as ordered by the city manager, according to former city worker Abel Escovedo and Mayor Jose Calin Guzman.
Along with other city maintenance workers, Escovedo said he was ordered by City Manager Ernesto Ayala Jr. to pick up stray dogs in town and keep them at the maintenance shop for a week.
"We've been dumping dogs," he said. "(Workers) went at least 10 times in the last two months."
After talking with The Monitor Wednesday afternoon, Guzman said he had heard from various city workers that "a lot of dead dogs" had been dumped outside the Edcouch city limits.
"That's enough to fire that guy or have him quit," Guzman said. "I'm so discontented by this."
Escovedo said he was told by his supervisor that the dogs were dumped to avoid the costs of turning them over to area animal shelters.
"I said, 'Isn't (dumping dogs) against the law?' but Ayala told me they didn't have no money for the city to drop them off at the dog pound," Escovedo said.

To read more, click here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dean is a comin'!

Hello, I am Anita, Andrew's wife, here for a guest post. We are bracing for Hurricane Dean, which may or may not bare down on us on Thursday. I went to the grocery store today, to pick up some veggies for dinner, and one of my favorite voyeuristic things to do is to see what other folks have in their grocery carts. Of course, because of the pending storm, I saw lots of water bottles, chips, snacks, and "potted meats"....(Can there be a more revolting item than a potted meat?) And so much pre-seasoned pre-marinated HEB beef in plastic bags. Why so much meat? Just what to they intend to do with it? Are they going to have a BBQ during the storm? I think of raw animal flesh as one of the least convenient things to prepare during a storm. MMMMM, the thought of a well-stocked deep freeze chock-full of a side of a cow, in the aftermath of a hurricane, losing the protection of its electrical putrefying in the lovely humid heat of the Rio Grande Valley.

In Austin prior to Hurricane Rita, I remember being in another HEB with empty shelves where the sodas, water, bread and chips had been. I have no use for these things. This is my plan. We have "Windmill" water stored up in reusable bottles (no use in bringing home tons and tons of plastic bottles just for "one-use" water), we have organic corn chips, jars of salsa and canned beans and canned tomatoes with green chilies. We have avocados and watermelon and nectarines. I have some really tasty instant bean soups and oatmeal that require nothing more than boiling water. We have some instant humus mix and pitas. We have peanut butter, and walnuts and peanuts and almonds. We have "Hemp Bread". Hopefully we will be able to use our gas stove, and if not, we have a propane camping stove as a last resort. I think I'll do some baking on Wednesday and make up some cinnamon rolls and some more peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I will miss Andrew's amazing tofu and buckwheat noodle stir fries with beets, carrots and cabbage or his tempeh jerk sandwiches with sprouts and pickles. But we certainly won't starve!

I haven't lived through a hurricane since I was a child, when we were living in McAllen and fled to Austin, only to run into a bunch of offshoots of tornadoes! But we are ready now, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. Knowing the damage that cyclones cause around the world, I wish for the best for everyone possibly impacted by this storm. Have mercy on us Dean!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How can people be so cruel?

I have to say, I'm a little flabbergasted by this alleged story of animal cruelty from Big Sandy, Texas. I know animal cruelty exists, but I always wonder how people can be so mean. Here are the first two paragraphs of the story, which appears in the Austin American-Statesman:

Two East Texas women face charges of animal cruelty after authorities found the remains of dozens of dogs in their trailer home, authorities said.
The dogs' bodies were stuffed into coolers, plastic bags and the freezer. Animal control officers also recovered nine living dogs.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The naughty fruit

The avocado is a remarkable fruit and one I would find hard to live without. A perfectly ripe avocado is a culinary experience unto itself. Some of the best avocados I've ever had were here in the Rio Grande Valley. It's because we are closer to the best source for quality avocados, the central-southern parts of Mexico. When Anita and I crossed the international border on Saturday to Nuevo Progresso, we picked up several avocados. Because of customs laws that were meant to protect Californian and Hawaiian agricultural interests, whole avocados were long banned from being allowed to cross the border into the United States. Recently that ban was eased, and commercial interests can import them, but the ban still exists for the individual. They do permit avocados without their pits to come into the country. The vendor removes the pit, puts a chunk of a chili in its places and closes the avocado back up. These can stay good for a couple of days. The ones we got in Nuevo Progresso were simply amazing. We used them in tacos, guacamole and a hummus sandwich. By the way, the root of the word avocado comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs in Mexico. They named it ahaucatl because of its resemblance to testicles.

What do you want human?

Cuteness queen Snowbell isn't quite sure yet what to think about this intrusion into her catnap.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A trip across the border to Nuevo Progresso

On Saturday, Anita and I ventured to Nuevo Progresso, just on the other side of the Rio Grande in Mexico. This was our first time visiting this popular tourist trap. The town would obviously not exist without American shoppers. The first thing I noticed over there was the numerous dentist and doctor offices on the main dusty drag just across the international bridge. I suppose people come across the border to have their teeth or body worked on. I don't know how comfortable I would be to do something like that, but if you can't afford something in the United States, at least there is a cheaper option. I really wonder if there is a difference in the quality of care. The main drag is littered with shops selling things from bootleg CDs to woven blankets to ceramic pottery to prints of Frida Kahlo paintings. There are street-side vendors selling food, including cabrito tacos (baby goat meat) and lonches (meat sandwich). For the vegan, there really are slim pickings. There was one guy roasting corn. Anita had an ear and really enjoyed it. There are places that sell chilled cut fruit in cups. When Mexicans buy it, it is common for them to sprinkle a hot chili pepper/lime/salt powder on it. You can buy cheap spices over there, and you can pick up some avocados (Vendors remove the pit and put a chili in the middle because you can't take a whole avocado across the border). Of course, there were lots of places selling alcohol. Tourists walked up and down the streets clinging to their beers. The voices of some tourists belting out choppy lyrics would drift out from karaoke bars. There were also a lot of beggars, waving cups or their hands, hoping for some donations. Nuevo Progresso is probably considered a prosperous city by Mexican standards, but even so, there's a lot of desperation. It really makes me sick watching Americans living it up, getting plastered in the open-air bars while a poor malnourished Mexican sits on the sidewalk a few feet away trying to draw the notice of any passerby.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The death of a vegetarian restaurant

The closing of Nu Age Cafe, a mostly vegan fine dining restaurant in Austin, comes as a complete shock (See story in Austin American-Statesman). My wife and I were there when they opened their doors and saw with pride as they slowly picked up their clientele. We enjoyed one of our wedding anniversaries there. I absolutely loved their sesame seitan and the brown rice served in banana leaves. They had amazing deserts and an incredible assortment of fun drinks. Since moving from Austin, I have missed the vegetarian restaurants I used to frequent, and I must say Nu Age Cafe held a special place in my heart. The closing of Nu Age Cafe had nothing to do with the quality of the food. It was because of a death in the family. This news comes a few years since West Lynn Cafe in Austin closed. That was another fine dining vegetarian restaurant. It sold to Cosmic Cafe, a Dallas-based vegetarian Indian restaurant chain. That, too, closed. Losing a cherished vegetarian restaurant feels like a death in the family. It feels like I've had the breath sucked out of me. I can only hope a new vegetarian restaurant will soon emerge from this sad tale that will take me on a new adventure I won't ever want to leave from.

She's back: Niiiiina

Clearly, The New York Times wasn't shamed by the slanderous "Death by Veganism" column it printed a couple of months ago. You remember: Veganism is unnatural and dangerous, while humans are made of fish oil. The New York Times never did provide corrections for all of the errors in the column. Now, the Times is going back to the author of the column, Nina Planck, in a story today about raw milk. This woman who belittled vegan mothers for what they feed their children, feeds raw milk to her 9-month-old child. She's basically playing Russian roulette with her child's health. Planck said it is unnatural to feed a growing child a vegan diet, but I guess she doesn't think it is unusual to suck on the tit of another animal and consume the milk meant for its own baby. Here is what the article says in part:

Nina Planck, the author of “Real Food: What to Eat and Why,” defied the F.D.A.’s warning and drank raw milk while she was pregnant. She not only continues to drink it while nursing her 9-month-old son, Julian, but also allows him the occasional sip. She has an arrangement with a couple of farmers to deliver it to New York City.
“We drink raw milk because we trust the traditional food chain more than the industrial one,” said Ms. Planck, who knows a number of farmers from her days as director of the New York City Greenmarkets and through her boyfriend, Rob Kaufelt, the owner of Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village.
“We’re willing to spend more money the higher up the food chain we go,” she said. “We’re not alone, either. You cannot categorize the people who are drinking raw milk. They are people from the blue states and red states, farmers and yuppies and Birkenstock wearers.”
Food scientists can hardly believe that so many consumers have turned their back on one of the most successful public health endeavors of the 20th century. In 1938, for example, milk caused 25 percent of all outbreaks of food- and water-related sickness.
With the advent of universal pasteurization, that number fell to 1 percent by 1993, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group in Washington.

Now, I don't wish anything but the best for young Julian, but wouldn't it just be the grandest of ironies if Planck's child became sick or died because of what she fed him?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Taking cruelty to a new level

I should've expected to be shocked when I tuned into "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" on the Travel Channel. Any part of a dead animal is pretty bizarre to me. I'm always amazed how meat-eaters can be grossed out about eating a different part of the same animal that they crave. Now, that's bizarre. The cow's tongue is gross, but the cow's butt flesh is yummy? Anyway, Zimmern sunk to a new low yesterday while dining at a New York sushi joint. He had a lobster carved up and served to him alive while he ate the living animal's flesh out of its body. Imagine being kept alive while someone dined on your legs. Don't we as humans have at least some basic sense of morals? Killing is wrong, but what Zimmern did reached an all-time karmic low.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mmmm, chocolate

This past weekend I had a strong craving for a cake. I used my "Sinfully Vegan" cookbook by Lois Dieterly to make Chocolate Covered Golden Cake. It was and still is quite delicious. I did make a few changes to the recipe. One, I find white flour to be an abomination, so I used whole wheat pastry flour instead. I also find artificially solidified oils to be something you shouldn't put in your body. Instead of margarine, I used canola oil. It looks like all Dieterly wants you to use as a sweetener throughout the book is maple syrup. She must live on a maple syrup farm because where I live, it is very expensive. Her cake recipe called for a cup and a half of maple syrup. Instead, I used half a cup of maple syrup and half a cup of Succant. For the whipped chocolate frosting, I only used about half of what I made. I put the other half in the refrigerator. In hindsight, the cake I made was very dense and could have been split in two with a layer of frosting between the layers. My wife's description of the cake was that it taste like "a muffin with chocolate pudding on top." I need to think of ways to lighten up the batter without having to resort to white flour. Any ideas?

Oh so good

One of the advantages of living in South Texas is the ability to grow a wide variety of my own tropical food plants. I aspire to be a permaculturalist. Like being a vegan, a permaculturalist makes her ecological footprint lighter by being more responsible for her actions. I have a hard time accepting someones commitment to being an environmentalist if she doesn't seriously consider being a vegan. The same goes for permaculture. Why have a lawn when you can cultivate a relationship with native plants and food plants? In these pictures, you see a variety of mango I'm growing called 'Carrie.' This is from my first crop. 'Carrie' is a delicious mango with such an explosion of flavor that can't be found in a grocery store. I had the ability to wait until the last possible second before harvesting this mango when it literally fell into my hand after simply touching it. In addition to two mango trees, my wife, Anita, and I are growing a wide selection of fruit trees, including two figs, two oranges, three key limes, one satsuma, one Meyer lemon, one regular lemon, one tangerine, four papayas, one longan, one starfruit, one guava, one avocado, one custard apple and one jujube. We also have two pomegranate bushes, and we are working on starting a vegetable garden. We have some vegetable plants growing in our flower beds. We grow herbs, as well, including rosemary, basil, oregano, epizote and sage. Everywhere else, native plants and roses are trying to help me kill the grass. Growing your own food reduces your need to buy oil-laden crops from the grocery store, and you can enjoy the healthful properties of crops that haven't been coated with pesticides. You can also take joy in returning your home's soil back to health. Think of growing food crops as a bank account. When peak oil crashes, your investments will pay off big time. I just love watching the magic of nature doing her work. I also think of my garden as a native seed bank that, with the help of birds, can help restore areas destroyed by development.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Can a vegan thrive on a remote Pacific island?

In my blog entry yesterday when I pondered the thought if a vegan could thrive on a remote Pacific island, I really had no intimate knowledge to back up my guesses. I forgot about a wonderful book that I own by the famous Norwegian scientist-explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, called “Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature.” In 1936, Heyerdahl and his wife, Liv, spent their honeymoon living on the deserted side of the Polynesian island of Fatu-Hiva for a year. Much of Heyerdahl’s work involved whether the Polynesians had contact with the people of South America or if much of the plant crops made their way to the islands without human intervention. Obviously, the Polynesians and the South Americans were much more advanced than white conquerors ever gave them credit for. But I’m digressing. Heyerdahl was not a vegan. He ate fish and pigs and probably many other animals. He also ate a wide variety of plants growing wild on the island, including sweet potatoes (the white variety), bananas, plantains, pineapples, breadfruit, mangoes, husk tomatoes, taro, coconuts, oranges, limes, lemons, sugarcane, lemongrass and papayas. Also growing on the island was hibiscus, wild cotton and bamboo. You can eat bamboo shoots and use its wood for a building material. You can clearly see, a vegan could survive on Heyerdahl’s island. The only thing she would have to worry about is vitamin B-12. As I discussed earlier, you can take the step of composting your own manure ─ since your body’s bacteria make B-12 in your large intestine ─ and using the finished compost to contaminate some of your vegetables with B-12. Here is some material from the book that I thought was fascinating:

As predicted by Teriieroo, the precious fei, or mountain plantain, which on Tahiti grew only in almost inaccessible cliffs, grew all around our cabin on Fatu-Hiva. It became our favorite, staple diet. Inedible when raw, it was roasted on embers and eaten dipped in the creamy white sauce of grated and squeezed coconut kernel. This coconut sauce was our only oil and served a multitude of purposes, culinary, as well as cosmetic. Production was simple: We grated the nut with a serrated piece of shell and squeezed the crumbs by twisting yellow-green meat of the fei, sweeter than fried banana, had a special flavor of excellent quality, of which we never tired. Besides the fei, the forest offered us seven different kinds of real bananas, from a tiny, round variety, resembling a yellow egg with strawberry flavor, to the large horse-banana, almost as long as an arm, which had to be cooked and then tasted like baked apple.
It was unusual to come across ripe bananas hanging the plant. When we reached for one, it was like grabbing a finger on an empty glove: It was already hollowed out by small fruit rats and consumed with the help of lizards and tiny, yellow banana flies. But there was plenty for all of us. We simply collected the clusters when they were just about ready to turn yellow, and hung them unsheltered in the breadfruit tree next to our window, where the sun would ripen them in a day or two and under our control. Their taste was unmatched by commercial bananas, which have to be picked weeks too early so as to survive the long transportation.
We had learned not to climb the slippery stem of the banana plant to reach its cluster of fruit. With a hard stroke of the machete, the entire stem cut like an onion and we rushed to grab the cluster of bananas before it was smashed against the ground as the whole plant feel. This seemingly vandalistic procedure as due to the fact that neither a fei nor a banana yields fruit twice. On Fatu-Hiva, the green stump remaining above the root began pushing up a new plant immediately, and so fast that the growth could be seen daily. The juicy inner ring of the onionlike cut began to rise above the others and slowly pulled up the next ring and the next. In a fortnight, the old stump resembled a flowerpot holding a green pole as tall as a man, which now opened up to unfold a green banner, the first, huge leaf. The new plant crept up just slowly enough to seem to have its speed cautiously adjusted not to scare us, not to wake us up to the fact that in the forest there is no borderline between what we consider natural and what we would have considered magic if it happened with a speed that would catch our eye. Within a year, a big, new plant had silently replaced the old one and stood there motionless and mute, ready to offer a new cluster of tasty bananas to hungry passersby.
The coconut was almost equally important to our daily fare. Most of the coconut palms near our hut were so incredibly tall and they swayed so much that I could not manage to get to the top, but there were always plenty of ripe nuts, covered with husk, to be found on the ground. Some of them had fallen down weeks before, and a baby palm was fumbling in the opposite direction, trying to get a foothold and pierce the ground. In these overmature nuts, most of the hard kernel and dissolved in the milk and begun to form a spongy, white ball looking like a brain, edible, but with a sugary taste unlike the nut itself. Even the “marrow” of the stem on a young palm was edible, like a giant piece of crisp celery.
Most of the food plants kept up a non-stop production and yielded fruits and nuts all the year round. The spiny orange trees carried sweet-smelling white flowers and green and ripe, golden fruit side by side on the same branches, and so did lemon trees and lime. Most of the old breadfruit trees were so big that I could not encircle the smooth trunk in order to climb it if the lower branches did not happen to be within reach. The impressive foliage resembled oversize oak leaves, and, scattered throughout the cooked branches, hung green, globular fruits as large as a baby’s head. The tough, gnarled rind cracked when toasted black on embers, and loosened, when cooked, from the delicious white meat within. It was a starchy and filling dish, tasting like a cross between fresh toast and new potatoes. This fibrous meat could be torn apart with the finger like bread., it could be sliced and fried crisp in a coconut oil on a flat slab, and it could be buried in the ground for months or yeas and eaten as a pounded porridge when completely fermented.
The most important wild tuber we came across in the forest was the taro, the closest we came to potatoes. It had once been cultivated in irrigated swamps, but as the planters disappeared, it now grew wild in the swampy soil below the spring. A huge, heart-shaped leaf stood like a parasol above each individual taro root, and in between grew some other wild leaves of the same shape, but so big that we used them as umbrellas in the rain, and as body-sized “fig leaves” if native visitors should ever surprise us in the pool.
There was still more to harvest in the surrounding forest. Large, pear-shaped papayas. Small but extra-flavorsome mangoes. Wild pineapples. Tiny, red husk tomatoes. Pandanus, with its compound of nutlike kernels. The nobly, blue-green tapo-tapo. And a single large tree with a gorgeous fruit looking and tasting like a red strawberry but as large as a cauliflower.
For drinks, we had mineral water from the cool spring, orange juice, lemon squash sweetened with squeezed sugarcane, and the milk of green coconuts harvested with a struggle from the lower palms higher up the hill. In Tahiti, Liv had learned from Faufau to prepare as a hot beverage a very tasty tea from the withered leaves of orange trees. We often planned to gather and roast the red berries of a few coffee pants that grew in the thickets right behind our cabin, but got too fond of our orange tree.

I thought this was interesting, too, about the making of poipoi, “the staple diet in most of Polynesia,” before they attempted to live off the land:

Nowhere else was poipoi made as strong as in the Marquesas group. Breadfruit in large quantities was buried in deep pits in the ground and covered with large leaves. It was left to rot for a year, and sometimes much longer. When thoroughly rotten, the sticky dough was dug up and beaten with a polished stone pounder. Bits of fresh breadfruit also were sometimes pounded into this sour pasted, which was eaten raw. Marquesan poipoi stinks so intensely that a normal nose can sniff a dinner party a mile away in the jungle. The islanders frequently told us that they were so accustomed to this sour dough from early childhood that they could not digest a sturdy meal without it.
There it was, in the communal bowl before our noses. Like the rest of the group around it, we just had to dig our three longest fingers into the sticky mess and comfort ourselves with the discovery that it was better fitted to the palate than to the nose. The darkness helped us. We ate less than our movements suggested as we dug in the dark bowl.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Veganism in a good light

The New York Times published a nice piece on Monday about the vegan diet book, "Skinny Bitch," by Rory Freedman and Kim Barmouin. The book is such an interesting way to introduce people to veganism. It doesn't scare people away from it by using the word vegan on the title page. My wife has a copy of the book at her workplace, and one co-worker said she'd like to read it. I'm sure if it said vegan something or the other on the title page the reaction would have been different.

In defense of veganism

The magazine, Energy Times, which is distributed in health food stores, recently took up the debate about vegan diets in an article called "Omnivore vs. Vegan." They allowed for a back and forth debate between a representative for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and a hack for the Westin Price Foundation. It was interesting. I'm will to bet the lady from the Westin Price Foundation would infuriate any vegan. She says stuff like this: "Science strongly supports the health benefits of vegetables, but the evidence for vegan diets is inconsistent and contradictory at best." I think the health benefits of a vegan diet are indeed well established, and there are numerous large studies that show the benefits of a vegan diet. For this lady, who has a doctoral degree in nutrition to simply lie like that, to me, is grounds for her to have her Ph.D. revoked. That is using her degree in a deceiving way. That's not to say you can't eat poorly on a vegan diet and suffer health consequences because of that. In the day and age of processed foods, any vegan can fall into the convenience foods trap. The wacko Westin Price lady also says: "Sadly, veganism won’t even help our planet. Only 11 percent of the land can be farmed, a percentage that cannot be increased without deforestation, irrigation, chemical fertilizers and other destructive ecological practices." We all know this isn't true. First of all, organic growing methods are successful at feeding people, and they only sustainable way we can keep it up for the long term. Chemical fertilizers destroy the soil. Once the soil is destroyed, then you can't grow any crops on that property. Organics protects the pollinators and builds the soil. The Westin Price lady insinuates in her comment that cattle and other livestock freely roam all of that other land, and humans benefit from that. The vast majority of cattle, pigs and chickens are raised in factory farms, not on fields of grass that supposedly can't support the growing of crops. The calories the livestock consume are from crops that are unnatural to them -- mostly corn and soy. The corn has to be processed in a special way and the cattle have be given special enzymes and antibiotics before the cows can even digest the stuff. If they subsist on the corn too long, they will get sick and die, but they are sent off to the slaughterhouse before that time. Don't forget that it takes more crops to feed livestock before they are fed to humans. Much of the calories are lost in the process of growing crops for livestock. That need to feed livestock is one of the big contributors to the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest. There are way more than enough crops being grown today. Even if no one ever ate livestock ever again, there would be enough. One of the biggest environmental challenges of our day is the waste being produced by concentrated animal feed lots. They cause massive destruction to local waterways that humans rely on for drinking water. Lastly, the author of this article, Patrick Dougherty, is clearly biased. Look at his introduction to the article: "Imagine a vegan is shipwrecked on a remote tropical island. Suddenly, the luxury of choosing foods that suit vegan beliefs is replaced with the necessity of finding any food that is available. While seaweed, edible roots and the occasional coconut might offer temporary plant-based sustenance, a starving vegan would eventually also turn to fishing, hunting for wild boars, collecting eggs and scavenging for grubs. Holding aloft a wriggling, freshly speared fish, which ordinarily might trigger revulsion in a vegan, would now bring gratification for protein, healthy essential fatty acids, food energy and a full belly." That's ridiculous that any one in this age of overpopulation would be abandoned on a remote tropical island. Even so, the vegan wouldn't have to go to the lengths the author describes, which to me sounds like he's copying "Lord of the Flies." In the "Lord of the Flies," the killing of the boar represents the loss of the children's humanity. They turn into savages. The only nutrient that the vegan would need to worry about is B-12. B-12 stores last for a long time. Provided that some fruits and vegetables weren't washed, the contamination could be there. Your own large intestine makes B-12. You could designate a place to make compost out of your waste. Once you have finished compost, you could used that to contaminate your vegetables with B-12. I imagine the island that I'm on, since it supports many birds and boars, has plenty of plant products for me, too, such as taro, cassava, sapote or citrus (depending on what part of the Pacific you are stranded on), bananas, maybe Suriname cherry, hibiscus flowers, of course coconut, other palm fruits, a crazy amount of greens (including those of the cassava), custard apples and many other plants. Provided we were able to produce fire, I think vegans could live quite comfortably on a remote tropical island that supported boars.