Monday, April 26, 2010

Silk almondmilk and vegan milk thoughts

So, the long-established standard of soymilk, Silk, now makes almond milk . I'm excited about trying it, but not being much of an almond milk person, I am more excited to see if Silk ever makes more non-dairy milks and what this does for overall perception of vegan milks.

 I think it's safe to say that everybody knows what soymilk is. But few people (few non-vegan people, that is) know that there is a whole world of vegan food and drink - even among those vegan foods and drinks that explicitly try to replicate or replace non-vegan foods - beyond soy. Soy is a versatile thing, but it's not the pinnacle of vegan food science (e.g. the only vegan cheese that strings, Daiya, is soy-free) and, speaking for this vegan, I wouldn't call it a staple of my diet. And especially in vegan milks are there so many options beyond soy - rice, hemp, almond, coconut, oat and more. I do love soymilk, but I never cook with it because ricemilk has a cleaner taste (though ricemilk tastes too much like cow's milk to me, so I don't drink it), and chocolate almond milk is practically dessert. One question - why has no one made a cashew milk? Cashew is the magical ingredient of so much good vegan dairy, so it surprises me that there isn't one. What is your favorite vegan milk?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

1.5 tons more carbon per year

Happy Earth Day! It's cheesy but true to say that every day is Earth day. It's Earth Day if you're on Earth and getting anything - e.g. food, water, air, a place to live - from her. If you live on Earth, you have an obligation to take care of her as she cares for you. And there is simply no way that eating animals fits into that. According to New Scientist and researchers at the University of Chicago,going from an omnivorous diet to a vegan one does more for the environment than going from a gas-guzzler to a Prius. "The typical US diet, about 28 per cent of which comes from animal sources, generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tonnes more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories." 3000 pounds per year! The bottom line is that the animal agriculture industry is wasteful and inefficient. The majority of grain grown in the US is not fed to humans but to animals, and because it takes around 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat, this is a really wasteful use of land, water, and fossil fuel. Think about it: you could grow plants, send them to a processor (if you must), and then to the grocery. Or you could grow plants, send them to feed mills, send the feed to factory farms, send the animals from the factory farms to slaughter, send the slaughtered animals to processing plants, and then send the meat to the grocery. Each of those additional steps requires enormously more amounts of fossil fuel, land, and water, not to mention the fact that animals produce methane and "the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture. Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2." (source)

If you are serious about climate change and protecting the Earth, you have to stop eating animal products. This is not about superiority. I am a vegan and I am not the savior of all the earth. But the science is there. To ignore it is selfishness. Yeah, you want to eat meat. But don't you also want to take long showers? And wouldn't it be more convenient to drive somewhere than bike or walk? Local food is sometimes harder to find than non-local, right? If you're reading this, chances are you're already making other sacrifices in your life to protect the Earth. Giving up meat is no different.

If you want more info, I encourage you to check out the UN's report "Livestock's Long Shadow."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Starbucks to offer vegan frappucinos!

What an exciting year to be vegan! Starting May 5, Starbucks will offer a soymilk-based blend for their frappucinos. Apparently it's already being offered in LA and I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case in other major cities as well.

Now, inevitably there will be some noise about whether this is really a good thing, since it's Starbucks, after all. But as I see it, pretty much every food you eat can eventually be traced back to some evil corporation. Obviously it would be ideal to only eat local, organic food that's 100% ethically sound, but I think it's the lesser evil to buy something vegan from a huge corporation than to just give up. But this is a post about the excitement of a giant corporation responding to demand for vegan items and being able to have a delightful vegan frappucino at any Starbucks in the land, so I'll stop there for today. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but hey, the more (vegan stuff) the merrier (the world).

Thanks to Quarrygirl for the news and the picture.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

oysters & consistency

A friend of mine recently shared this article from Slate with me. The author, Christopher Cox, says that he doesn't eat meat, dairy, or eggs, but that he does eat oysters. His reasoning is that oyster farming is environmentally friendly and there's much question about what oysters can feel, as they have no central nervous system the way we and other animals do. Cox seems to believe that any vegan who wouldn't eat oysters is just being nitpicky. "Eating ethically is not a purity pissing contest, and the more vegans or vegetarians pretend that it is, the more their diets start to resemble mere fashion - and thus risk being dismissed as such." I agree wholeheartedly. Being vegan isn't about a checklist of foods you can and can't eat, and you don't get a gold star for thinking you're the purest of the pure. But Cox implies that all vegans who don't eat oysters (which, sorry Cox, is all vegans) are taking part in this "purity pissing contest", and that is where I find real fault. To be vegan, you have to embrace the fact that it simply isn't possible to never, ever, ever use animal products in some way (however indirect). There are animal products in tires (yes, really), and even harvesting plants is going to kill some worms or mice. Such is life. Veganism is not being pure or obeying a set of dietary laws, it's about doing what is possible and practical to end oppression. It isn't really possible in our world today to not use tires somehow, it's not possible to not use medications tested on animals, it's not possible to harvest plants without killing some insects, and that's just how it is.

It is, however,

Friday, April 9, 2010

wtf PETA, vol. 48459375

Last week, PETA wanted to advertise on teeter-totters at a playground at a public elementary school in Frankfort, Kentucky. The proposed advertisements would read "Tot teetering on obesity? Go vegan!" and have the PETA logo. In addition to the ads, the school would also get thousands of free veggie burgers in their cafeteria. Not surprisingly, the school turned the offer down on the grounds that the students are too young to understand or interpret such direct advertising. Good for them. Why does everything PETA does still surprise me? I mean, PETA does have a lot of great resources and they are very well-connected. But why do they stoop to such ridiculous levels? (Or kill animals? Or promote welfarism? Or focus on winnable campaigns that don't really effect change? Different posts for different days...) This is an organization that has literally made coffins emblazoned with their logo and an animal-rights message. Classy, classy folks. But even beyond the laughability of such a campaign, it just doesn't make sense. If a kid is young enough to be using a teeter-totter, and if that kid is already anywhere near obese, there are way more problems in his/her life than can be untangled by their/their parents' seeing an advertisement like that. Thanks for continuing to make all vegans look utterly ridiculous, PETA.