Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some Light Earth Day Reading

There are only a couple hours of Earth Day left in my time zone. I meant to post this earlier, but oh well.

And not all of it's light reading. I'll start off with the lightest and get heavier from there.

First, there's 10 Kid-Friendly Earth Day Tips from Ruby Roth, author of That's Why We Don't Eat Animals.

Then there's, Want to Go Green? Eat Less Meat, which focuses on Gene Baur and his organization, Farm Sanctuary, an organization that I have my qualms with. I love Farm Sanctuary's sanctuary program, but have my problems with their focus on improving animal welfare instead of abolishing animal use. I met Gene a few years ago and he's a nice guy. We had a good discussion about my qualms and, while I didn't leave convinced that welfarism is a valid way to advocate for animal rights, I came to realize that his heart is, of course, in the right place. We don't necessarily differ in regard to our goal, but in the way in which we advocate for that goal.

Anyway, I liked most of what he had to say in this article.

"Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, carpooling, recycling — these are all great ways we can lessen our carbon footprint," says Baur, "but when compared with the difference you can make simply by eliminating or reducing meat and animal products from your diet, other aspects of green living pale by comparison."

Next, there's This Earth Day, Go Vegan from The Guardian which, unfortunately, repeatedly links to PETA. But other than that it's pretty good. Some highlights:

In Livestock and Climate Change, the Worldwatch Institute estimates that raising animals for food actually accounts for 51% of all greenhouse-gas emissions.
A totally vegetarian diet can be produced with only 1,100 litres of water per day, while producing a diet that includes meat requires more than 15,000 litres of water per day.
Our meat-based diet is partly to blame for world hunger, because land, water and other resources that could be used to grow food for human beings are used to grow crops for farmed animals instead. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat.

And here's Veganism: Morality, Health, and the Environment, a post from Gary Francione that illustrates how we can't really separate our caring for the environment and our caring for animals, including ourselves.

And finally, Livestock and Climate Change by the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization that, "focuses on the 21st-century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty by developing and disseminating solid data and innovative strategies for achieving a sustainable society."

Some of you may remember the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations paper called Livestock's Long Shadow. It was a page turner, let me tell you. Well, what the Worldwatch Institute did was take the FAO's paper, apply reality to it, and come up with different numbers.

Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change. But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

And they back that up with a lot of numbers. Be warned. There are a lot of numbers. But it's worth the read, at least up until page 15. After page 15 they get into marketing stuff and focus too heavily on soy as the supposed magic bean to save the world. Don't get me wrong, I like soy. And I guess from a "way to convince people to stop killing the earth" standpoint, soy is pretty versatile. What with the analogs and all.

At any rate, I personally don't think that there's some sort of line you have to draw in the dietary sand when it comes to being an environmentalist. These things are all graded on scale, and a drastic reduction in your animal and animal product consumption would, without a doubt, translate into a drastic reduction in your carbon and water footprint. So, for the environment, I would say that we should all drastically reduce our animal and animal product consumption, preferably to nill.

For the the non-human animals we eat and wear, on the other hand, I'd have to say that we should go vegan.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Veggie Nugget #33

I'm not afraid,
I'm not afraid,
All of us are different.

But we can still,
We can still be friends.

-The characters of Yo Gabba Gabba. Video here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Really Good Photos

Our friend Britta took photos of our family a few weeks ago. They are awesome. Here's one:

Take a look at the rest here.

And while you're there take a look around at the other posts. She's an amazing photographer and a great person and we're super lucky to count her as a friend.

Oh, and for more of Britta's photos of our kids, see here (Anna in March '08), here (Anna in May '08) and here (Anna and Liam in April '09).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Well, 36 people answered the question of why they are or aren't vegan. That's a pretty good turnout. Thank you to all who answered.

To be honest, I was hoping for more, but the responses I did get were all civil and mostly thoughtful, which just goes to show you that vegans and non-vegans can coexist in an online public place without jumping down each others' throats.

We have honest differences, to be sure. And those differences do matter (indeed, they're a matter of life and death). But the point is that we can and do discuss these differences with each other without resorting to name-calling and/or pie-throwing. I think the hardest part of starting a civil conversation about veganism is convincing both sides that it's a conversation worth having civilly (which can include speaking openly and honestly and not stifling our ideas simply because someone's sensibilities might be offended).

Anyway, a pat on all your backs.

Now on to the winners!

(The new camera does widescreen and I haven't figured out yet how to embed that correctly, so I suggest just clicking on the video and viewing it on the YouTube page.)

So that's what eight minutes of my day looks like. If you felt rushed, confused and pulled in different directions while watching it, then you know what my days are like. Let's just say I appreciate concurrent naps.

A note on the video, we had picked names (two of the three, to be exact) one time before what you see in this video, but the camera wasn't recording when I thought it was (it's a new camera that I'm not used to, as is evident by the sound being muffled now and then when I put my finger over the microphone area). So I decided to do it all over again. The same person was picked first both times! Crazy.

And toward the end of the video I give my reason for being vegan. To elaborate, I'm vegan because I don't need animal products to live a long, happy and healthy life. Since I don't need these products, I'm presented with a choice of whether or not I should continue to consume them. I can find no good argument to cause suffering and death when that suffering and death is not necessary ... so I choose veganism.

I'm vegan because animals are sentient beings who should be extended the basic right to not be treated as things; as property. The property status that we place upon animals is what allows we humans to cause the aforementioned suffering and death for reasons such as tradition, convenience and pleasure (not necessity).

Simply and more concisely, I'm vegan because I agree with the majority of humans that it is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on another sentient being.

For a great introduction to this view visit this page and spend a few minutes reading the pamphlet.

OK! Well thanks again to everyone who answered the question. And to the three who won, Alafair, Ashlee and PL&V, just click on the "email" link on my profile page and send me your address. Then wait patiently for the goodies.

And thanks again Go Max Go Foods for donating the candy bars! You're the best.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hold on...

So today (or, I guess yesterday, since this is posted after midnight) was supposed to be the day that I did the whole contest drawing (hopey changey) thingey. But, honestly, my brother-in-law and nephew are in town for the week and today my nephew and I built a spaceship.

Uh-huh. A spaceship. So, yeah, we've been busy.

My nephew and I are in pre-production for the third movie in the "Awesome" trilogy. (I still need to post the second installment of the trilogy on this blog, but just in case you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, here's the first installment.)

Today we took a trip to Ax-man Surplus to pick up some circuit boards and what-not (for the spaceship to fly, ya know) and some silver spray paint at Menards (to make the spaceship silvery and all). Because space ships have to be silvery, ya know.

In short, it's all worth it and the new movie is going to be epic (so much so that it may not be done for another year or so).

Anyway, because of my dereliction of duty, I'm extending the giveaway deadline a few more days. Look at this as your second chance to make a first impression (or at least more time to figure out why you are or are not vegan).

The new deadline is April 5th (Monday), which means I'll do the drawing on Tuesday (and post the winners either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning).

Don't worry, those candy bars are waiting patiently in my fridge (so as not to melt in our crazy March/April heat), and the books are waiting patiently on my bookshelf.