Tag Archives: Introduction to Animal Rights

Good vegan reads part I

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Tell someone you’re vegan for health reasons, and that usually requires no further explanation. But I’m not vegan for health reasons. I’m vegan for ethical reasons. Back when veganism was a relatively new thing and people found out I was an ethical vegan, instead of the “Yo, that’s cool! Mad respect for dat!” response that I felt I should have gotten, I was hit with:

“What’s wrong with eggs and milk? The chickens and cows don’t die.”

“If things weren’t tested on animals, you would be dead.”

“You know you can’t drive on roads because there are animal products in asphalt.”

“So you care more about animals than people? You know there are people that need help too, like the poor, the oppressed,etc. ”

“But meat tastes soooo good. I love bacon.”

I quickly discovered that I didn’t have logical arguments and sound information to back up my veganism other than I cared for animals, which to most people just sounds like “bunnies are cute”. I needed to read. These are some of my favorite books (new and old) related to animal rights/veganism.

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Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?  by Gary Francione

This is THE definitive read on the theory of animal rights for me. Francione, a Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark, intelligently provides a clear and logical argument as to why non-human sentient beings should be included in our moral community. This book is worth it for the “Twenty Questions and Answers” appendix alone which basically addresses common issues like the use of animal tested prescription medications and the “tradition” of eating meat. From the forward by Alan Watson, “Although he [Francione] tackles some of the more difficult philosophical problems that inform animal ethics, his presentation is extraordinarily clear and accessible to any reader interested in the topic”. My copy is all written in and I reference this book a lot.

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MAD COWBOY:  Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat  by Howard F. Lyman

I have a signed copy of this book(!) because I had the honor of seeing Howard Lyman speak at the University of Colorado in Boulder back in the early 2000’s. Lyman is the ex-Montana rancher that went on The Oprah Show and influenced her to stop eating beef which caused the livestock industry to get their panties in a bunch and sue Oprah back in 1998.  The case got dismissed. This book chronicles Lyman’s journey from hard-core animal eater and rancher to hard-core vegan. It’s autobiographical while full of factual insider information about the beef industry. The night I got this book was the first time I had vegan nachos and they were really good.

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MAKING A KILLING: The Political Economy of Animal Rights  by Bob Torres.

Bob Torres, along with his wife Jenna Torres used to be big in the vegan community hosting a podcast and publishing another book I like (which I gave to someone), Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World.  They seem to have since fallen off the face of the earth, but Bob Torres’ book is among one of my favorites. Torres provides parallelisms between other forms of oppression in our society and animal exploitation. He explains in a logical manner how animal exploitation is perpetuated in our society because of decades and decades of socialization in a hierarchical capitalist world.

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Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, And Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry by Gail A. Eisnitz.

This one was one I wished I owned, but I checked it out from the library. Shocking, disturbing and difficult to read at times, this really made me realize how horrific the meat industry is for animals and humans alike.  This book chronicles Eisnitz’s altruistic efforts to expose the inhumane treatment in slaughterhouses across the country. Her book covers 3 main aspects of slaughterhouses: (1) the inhumane treatment of animals (2) the terrible working conditions for slaughterhouse workers and (3) the corrupt role of the USDA and how this affects meat as food.

Heavy reading? An astounding YES. But I’d rather know than not know.

Stay tuned for Part II.

A Trip to the Cascades

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I just got back from a trip to an isolated lodge in Leavenworth, WA. It was a work related trip and food was included in the lodging costs meaning I had to eat whatever the lodge was serving if I wanted to get reimbursed.

The best dinner I had was actually outside of the lodge on the first night that I drove from Sea-Tac airport to the lodge (a 3 hour drive). I knew that I would miss dinner at the lodge so I stopped in town before I headed to the lodge at a place called Dragonfly Bistro. I had a salad with a miso dressing and some yam chips, edamame, and a garden roll.

At the lodge, I had put in a request for vegan meals. but it turns out that the food was “buffet” style so I actually just had to figure it all out at each meal. Breakfast was consistent. I found I could eat the oatmeal with whatever fruit topping they had, some fresh fruit and potatoes cooked in olive oil.

I don’t have any pictures from lunch or dinner, because I felt a little strange whipping out the camera to take “food” pictures in front of my colleagues (the above pics were taken when I ate alone). But they wouldn’t have been interesting pictures anyways. Lunch and dinner consisted mainly of vegetable sides meaning some kind of cold anti-pasto vegetable salad, grilled or steamed vegetables, and/or roasted potatoes in olive oil.

Occasionally, there would be something more interesting I could eat like split pea soup or a spicy tomato soup. When there was absolutely nothing I could eat at the buffet, the chef would make me a rather bland veggie stir fry consisting of bell peppers and onions. Most of the meals at the buffet were centered around meat and/or cheese. Although most of the vegan food wasn’t super tasty, I must say that the staff was really friendly and accommodating to me. They didn’t roll their eyes every time I came around, which was nice!

I guess the best vegan related thing about the trip was the organic garden on the grounds. All the veggies I had came from the garden. The garden was pretty big and was surrounded by a tall fence to keep the deer out.

The flowers in the garden were spectacular in size and color. Notice the bee doing its thing on this flower.

Some Turkish orange eggplants. I wanted to take one home with me, but that would be stealing. Plus there was a gardener there when I was walking around.

Red hot chili peppers…I think this added the heat to the aforementioned tomato soup.

Miniature bell peppers…I think these were in my veggie stir fry.

These are some kind of melon. I’m not sure what kind (I’m thinking unripe watermelons), but I do know that I did have a melon gazpacho-like soup one day for lunch. Perhaps it came from these beauties.

Cabbage town.

I think this is some kind of squash. I need to get better at recognizing different veggies in their raw state.

This sculpture wasn’t in the organic garden but as you can tell it’s definitely a statement on human exploitation of animals. I found this sculpture on the lodge grounds but way, way, way far away from most of the lodge traffic and activities. Interesting that they try to “hide” something like this, although I guess its not all that surprising. Eating fish (especially salmon) and fishing are kind of “tradition” around this part of the world so mustn’t make anybody feel uncomfortable about it *sarcasm*. But it does make one wonder why they have this sculpture in the first place.

Since I no longer had scones, I had to make do at the airport for food on the flight back home. There was no actual “food” that I could trust at the airport, so I just grabbed a small snack.

Some other tidbits from this trip:

  • Apple trees (such as the one sh
    own at the top) were abundant everywhere, which makes sense because WA is known for its apples.
  • I was the only vegan at the conference. Almost all of my colleagues are eco-minded people that seem to respect the environment, yet they still eat meat.
  • I finished “Introduction to Animal Rights” by Gary Francione on this trip. I think this book is essential for ethical vegans (and everybody else!). Francione uses pure logic to explain why we should all be vegan and why animals have rights as sentient beings. His stance on animal exploitation is abolition…none of this “happy meat” or “free-range” nonsense.
  • Delta has gone green in one way because they now recycle all the used cans and plastic bottles. Yay…no more dragging empty bottles back home with me!
  • Hsauce did not cook at all when I was gone and survived on scones and pre cooked foods 😛
  • I now want my own organic garden dammit!

**For all the pics from this trip go here**.