Signing Off, Again

May 4, 2012

It occurs to me that quitting a blog may be like suicide: some people require more than one attempt. In any case, I know I can accomplish a lot more for animals if I stop spending several hours each morning thinking and writing about stuff that distresses me.

I hope you’ll stay subscribed to this feed or join my special announcements email list. I’ve got a couple big projects underway and I’ll announce them here and on my email list the moment they’re released.

We were nearing the time for my semiannual donation drive. Obviously your donations won’t be funding my future blogging, but if you want to throw some money my way, you can do that knowing that nearly all my productive hours are being spent working on behalf of farmed animals. I took in barely more than $10,000 in reader donations last year, and this cash gave me a lot of freedom to take on a variety of work that I don’t see anyone else in the movement doing. I think I may be the best deal in town for people who want their dollars to accomplish as much for farmed animals as possible.

The work I do will continue and, with the cessation of my daily blogging, accelerate. The main project I’m working on right now is the most exciting and important thing I’ve ever done. It’ll fill a gigantic hole in the farmed animal protection movement’s offerings.

To be clear, I absolutely don’t want your donations if you’ve got credit card debt or other obligations that would make giving difficult.

If there’s one thing my past six months of blogging has made unarguable, it’s that we’re nearing a tipping point in the struggle against factory farming. I hope you’ll continue to follow my work. For the immediate future, any interesting stuff I want to share will be through Twitter. Factory farming’s days are numbered, and I hope we can work together to bring about its end.

I love you guys. The attention you’ve given my work means the world to me.

California State Senator Ted Lieu wrote a letter asking the USDA to investigate the use of meat glue in the beef and restaurant industry. The American Meat Institute’s Janet Riley says her organization called Lieu’s office to ask him to stop using the term “meat glue.”

Memo to Janet Riley: the only way to stop a shady meat industry practice from getting a name you don’t like is to not allow the practice to become widespread in the first place. Because once that practice gets exposed there will invariably be a name tacked onto it that you don’t like—and all the pestering phone calls in the world will never make that name go away. Link.

Vegan Cooking for Carnivores just got another big push to a mass audience. Portia de Rossi and Roberto Martin appeared on The Today Show this morning to cook Roberto’s fried chicken recipe. Roberto’s idea of using rice paper as the “skin” for vegan chicken is incredibly creative.

Considering that the show typically has almost six million viewers, this morning’s segment was a big win for farmed animals. Segments like this just didn’t happen five years ago on national television.

Click through for the five minute video, plus recipes for Roberto’s chicken, mac ‘n cheese, and chocolate chip bars. (Thanks, Karen.) Link.

A beautifully written Los Angeles Times story from Tiffany Hsu and Ricardo Lopez. The piece fades about two-thirds through with some annoying digressions but ends strong. I love this quote from beef historian Maureen Ogle, about how the beef industry dealt with the pink slime media debacle:

They did exactly what they always do, which is really not much of anything. Frankly, they’re going to get killed from now on because of social media. It can do more damage in a day than old media used to be able to do in a month.

It’s not social media that does the damage—it’s ordinary animal advocates, like you and me, using social media as a tool to inflict damage on the industry. We’re the people who recognize stories that would otherwise be neglected, and make them blow up on Facebook and Twitter. And once that happens, we see follow-up coverage from the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jane Velez-Mitchell, and so forth—and we promote that stuff too.

There are two reasons that social media is a problem for the meat industry. First is that we win the numbers game: there are countless more animal advocates than there are people who are passionate about defending animal agribusiness. And second, the meat industry engages in all sorts of practices that an informed public would condemn—and one by one, these practices are coming to light.

Those big heavy American V8 cars were perfect for the late 1960s, back when gas was 35 cents a gallon, but demand for that sort of car is now dead. Likewise, factory farming could thrive at a time when the only way ordinary people could find out about industry misdeeds was through the major media—which had no interest in taking the subject seriously. But now, thanks to animal advocates using social media to ignite breaking news, those days are over.

From here on in, expect monthly PR disasters for the meat industry until it fundamentally restructures into a far smaller industry that takes the environment, food safety, and animal welfare seriously. (Thanks, Paul.) Link.

Did they ever pick a stinker. The winning essay begins:

As a vegetarian who returned to meat-eating…

Then comes about 550 words of blather, culminating with this infuriating conclusion:

For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.

Sure, just go ahead and eat animals, so long as you give thanks. After all, animals are merely “solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form.”

Maybe in the long view it’s good that such a pathetic essay won. If a panel of experts thinks that, out of thousands of entrants, this essay represented the best defense of meat eating submitted, then the case for vegetarianism and veganism is resounding. Link.

The movement to keep foie gras legal in California just got a stake driven through its heart. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

California’s legislative leaders said Wednesday they will not help a group of chefs who want to overturn an impending foie gras ban.

Good deal. Fuck those people. This loathsome bid wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in the first place had it not been for the Chronicle constantly slanting its coverage in favor of the foie gras industry.

Nate Ballard, the mouthpiece for the push to overturn the ban, says:

Even if the ban does go into effect, we will keep moving forward. Prohibition has never worked in this country.

I get Ballard’s 1920s Prohibition metaphor, but it’s inane and easily dismissed. Prohibition works admirably as a strong deterrent against every kind of violent crime I can think of. It’ll work splendidly against these foie gras peddling criminals as well.

As to those chefs who intend to keep up the fight; they’ll quickly discover they can’t afford the damage that being associated with foie gras does to their reputations. Only one side in this struggle has the commitment, numbers, resources to step up this fight until foie gras is gone for good, and it isn’t the chefs. Link.

The Oregonian reporter offers up his recipes for Lemon-Basil Greek Orzo SaladMexican Black Bean Pasta Salad, and Minestrone Pasta Salad. Here’s his accompanying article. Now that the weather’s warming up, a pasta salad is a perfect dish to add to your cooking rotation.

In the wake of last month’s mad cow discovery in California, the Consumers Union has just publicly asked the USDA to ban several risky cattle feeding practices—specifically brains, blood, and poultry litter.

Agribusiness newspaper Feedstuff’s has a distorted take on things:

FDA currently prohibits such materials from older cows, but not from younger ones. The reason is that BSE has never been found in cattle of less than 30 months of age.

No, the reason is that the beef industry has insanely powerful lobbyists who convince the government to permit this kind of insanity.

Consumers Union Senior Scientist Michael Hansen says:

Beef slaughterhouse waste is fed to chickens, and a lot of the chicken waste then ends up being fed back to cattle. This should not be allowed, as we are turning cows into cannibals, the practice that started the mad cow problem in the first place.

Over the past year or two, we’ve seen food activists gain tremendous amounts of power—witness what happened earlier this year with pink slime. Just a few years ago, there’d be no chance that the Consumers Union could prevail in their request for far-reaching reforms in cattle feeding practices. But today they’ve got a real shot. And the reform they’re asking for, if enacted, would dismantle yet another important asset of animal agribusiness: in this case, the beef industry’s ability to feed cattle low cost, revolting, dangerous food.

The public’s no longer cool with any of that, and they finally understand what’s going on. Link.

If only Michael Pollan could think things through with half the care that Adam Merberg does. Link.

The Farm Bill is a thicket of corruption and wasted money. Kari Hamerschlag has the best short breakdown of the bill that I’ve seen:

Without the efforts of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chair of the committee, the bill would have been even worse, but as it is, the proposal will continue to give away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies to the nation’s largest, most profitable and environmentally damaging farm businesses. To pay for this giveaway, the Agriculture committee’s proposal would slash programs for conservation, nutrition, rural development and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers.

If you want a detailed analysis of how one Farm Bill after another has shaped America’s disastrous food policies, Daniel Imhoff’s Food Fight is the book to read.