Category Archives: art


Drawing by Leslie Goldberg

I just can’t stop thinking about it – a father of four, who served two terms of duty in Afghanistan, drops his 12-year-old daughter off at school and at that moment I.C.E. shows up and drags him off despite the sobs of his kids. The reason this long-term resident with a family and a history of service was grabbed up by Immigration to be thrown out of the U.S. was a 10-yeqr-old DUI charge.

Sickening. This isn’t the America I know. That America is in the back of an I.C.E. van, stolen.

Everyday it’s something else, born out of hate and acted out in brutality. The cruelty takes my breath away.

Obsessively I watch the news at night, hoping for glimmers of kindness, honesty, integrity and courage and sometimes I find those things. Today not so much. I keep thinking about that dad and his family.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –



I would always cringe when I would hear the gym teacher at the end of the class say, “Now go get lunch and be sure and eat a lot of protein.”


Yesterday was a fundraising day for the Y and this teacher who, by the way, is a wonderful person, was giving away ham and cheese sandwiches as part of the effort. She offered one to me and I said, God no, I’m vegan.

“I didn’t know you were vegan,” she said. “Why did you do that?”

I told her that it was for the animals, but I’d also learned that not eating animals has some real health benefits. She said she knew that and I asked if she’d seen “Forks Over Knives.” She said she had and then she asked if I didn’t miss those foods. I said that aside from brief cheese cravings at the beginning, absolutely not and added that since I’d found out about the animals and the health benefits, I had thought, why wouldn’t I do that?

Then somehow she managed to zero in on what can be tough about going vegan – the social aspect. “That’s the hardest part – huh?” the fitness instructor said.

I’ll cut to the chase – today after the gym class she said she wanted to invite everyone to the next fundraising day – which would be vegetarian.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


By Leslie Goldberg

The fight over the “morality of meat-eating” rages. It’s on Facebook, on Twitter, in the newspaper, on TV and radio, in our dining rooms and in our classrooms. Recently on social media, I read the question, “How can my wonderful, kind and generous friends keep eating animals? Are they evil?”

I would suggest that flesh-eaters aren’t bad and certainly not evil, except maybe Donald Trump and/or Jeb Bush. (And no, Hitler was NOT a vegetarian.)

People are just hypnotized by the culture. It’s like there’s a micro-chip lodged deep in our brains that keeps us from realizing the suffering of animals and often, the suffering of other humans.

I’ve only been vegan for six years. For most of my life I ate the flesh and secretions of animals. My consumption tortured and killed animals on a regular basis, yet I loved animals. I only read horse books as a child. I cried when my companion animals died. I adored the movie “Babe.” I saw the “in-your-face” animal rights artwork of Sue Coe. Even though some of these things disturbed me, they didn’t cause me to make any connection between my behavior and the suffering and murder of animals.

It was like being under a spell or sleep-walking. Almost by chance I woke up. I saw some images in a movie and I knew I could never knowingly eat an animal or her bio-fluids again.

As animal rights activists, our job is to break the spell – throw cold water in the face of our flesh-gnawing, secretion-sucking society.

But how? My favorite tools are loud obnoxious public demonstrations and disruptions; blogging; making videos and films; writing books; and writing songs. There’s also tweeting, letters to the editor, complaining in restaurants, and, yes, posting on Facebook.

What about getting to people’s hearts via the stomach, or, if you like, the digestive tract?

These days, I’ve kind of given up on that tactic. Of course, vegan food is great and I really appreciate the love and the effort that goes into vegan cooking, but tasty meals aren’t going to change our society. I would suggest that neither the best vegan cupcake in the world or the best vegan sushi in Manhattan is going to trigger any serious soul searching or moral questioning. (Not the way graphic imagery of animal suffering might.) Sad to say, but I don’t think Ben & Jerry’s new vegan ice cream is going to liberate animals (both human and non-human.)

Activist and author of “Whitewash – The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health” Joseph Keon said to me recently the most typical response he hears when carnists eat delicious vegan food is, “Wow, if I could cook like this, I’d be vegan.” Translation: I don’t have the time or the skill to cook vegan or care enough to make the time and learn new cooking skills.

Just as the civil rights movement, the gay liberation movement, the women’s movement, the abolitionist movement hinged on ordinary people speaking up, the animal rights movement is going to need to get noisy if we are to succeed. Heard at the recent National Animal Rights Conference 2015: “Never miss an opportunity to say what needs to be said.”

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


Butchering the language has long been a part of the meat industry: cow flesh becomes “beef,” deer flesh becomes “venison,” diseased duck liver becomes “foie gras,” pig flesh becomes “pork” or “bacon.” Even the word “meat” itself is a disguise. These words are convenient – they help animal food consumers forget what they are actually doing: eating dead animals.

And now the industry has come up with another word, “harvesting,” to mean shooting and killing animals for their flesh, suggesting, perhaps, it’s not mean, it’s no worse than picking dandelion leaves for tea! After all, plants have feelings too!

In an article about antelope consumption titled “Meat of the Year,” published yesterday in the Pork Network, an online industry publication, columnist Dan Murphy, an apparent fan of “harvesting” animal flesh, further retreats from reality by calling antelope a “natural, renewable, resource.”

(If the muscle tissue from this animal is so renewable how come they charge between $21 and $36 a pound for this “product” ?)

What Murphy calls “harvesting” is shooting antelopes on Texas antelope farms from long distances (50 to 200 yards) using sound-supressed rifles with “Leupold scopes,” (These are the “preferred tactical” scopes used by the military, the writer informs).

The slaughterers in this case are the “harvest crew,” a “shooter, skinner and a government inspector,” who “quietly search for deer and antelope.”

As an activist friend has said many times, “There’s no way to humanely slaughter an animal who wants to live.”

Yet, of course, Murphy calls this “humane meat” because the animals are spared the feed lot, the bodily mutilation without anesthesia, the battery cage, the gestation crate, the no-food, no-water transport and the slaughter house of the industrial agriculture system. But to make sure we don’t think that the writer actually does care about animal welfare, he explains that animals who aren’t stressed taste better. Quoting an article from Forbes magazine on the same subject: “A wild animal that senses a threat reacts with an increased flow of adrenaline, which in turn creates a rapid increase in lactic acid within the muscles. This acidic condition causes the meat to become tough, strongly flavored, and reduces the shelf life of the meat.”

Forbes is pretty stoked about antelope meat, arguing that it deserves to be named “the latest food craze” of 2015. Murphy seems pretty stoked too, but oddly, in the middle of this article, he notes the exquisite beauty of antelopes.

“Antelope, however, are graceful animals well-suited for captivating nature videos and wildlife postcards. They’re practically the poster critters for the notion that we mustn’t eat anything with a face.”


Well, I know, Dan Murphy, you’re on the payroll of the “Pork Network” and some other industry PR departments and you’ve written a lot of columns with titles like “Make Mine (Extra) Meaty.” I read your diatribes on “stupid vegans,” but methinks you protest too much. Could you?…Is it possible?…Are you, maybe, a pre-vegan? Or… or… are you a secret vegan? I ask because at times you sound like one.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


“Environmental Countdown” by Leslie Goldberg

It’s out! The Sierra Club’s draft proposal “Agriculture and Food Policy” put together in the wake of the movie “Cowspiracy” is now available for us all to see.

To take a look at it you will have to use this username and password:

Username: clubhouse
Password: explore

Vegans, if you were hoping for some truth and leadership from the Sierra Club, well, forget it.

You would have thought that after the Sierra Club was so thoroughly drubbed by “Cowspiracy” last year that they’d come clean and admit that the livestock industry is slaughtering the environment right along with at least 50 billion land animals a year.

You would have thought they’d man up and tell people to stop eating animals if they don’t want to get drowned/starved/burned up/dried up/displaced by climate change. OK, that was vicious of me. But you would have thought they would at least urge people stop eating animal flesh and secretions for the sake of the habitability of the planet. For the sake of our kids.


In the club’s new draft version of their Food and Agriculture Policy, the best we get is a suggestion (nearly at the end of the report) that we develop “a greater reliance on vegetable protein.” Yet in the first paragraph of the report we read that, according to the Sierra Club, raising animals for food is an “essential human activity” and “irreducibly cultural.”


Tell that to the millions of healthy, happy, active, alert vegans out there that raising animals for food is an “essential human activity.” Tell that to the 99 percent of Americans who never even consider raising and slaughtering their own animal food. And “irreducibly cultural”? Earth to Sierra Club: Cultures change. If they didn’t we’d still be burning “witches” at the stake.

More Earth to the Sierra Club: The livestock sector is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and maybe as high as 51 percent. Livestock production is responsible for 90 percent of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. It takes 100 times more water to produce a pound of animal protein versus a pound of plant protein. It takes 15 times the land.

Livestock production is the cause of most of the water pollution in the United States. And fish eating has been largely responsible for the decimation of the ocean fish populations.

All that information is easily accessible by reading, for example, “Livestock’s Long Shadow” a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN or (even better) The World Watch Institute’s “Livestock and Climate Change” or listening to renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle. Eating animal foods is an environmental disaster and everybody seems to know that but the Sierra Club.

Even freaking Time magazine wrote last year that single most powerful thing you could do as an individual to help save the environment was to cut out eating meat.

And even the January monthly magazine for Costco (!) had two vegan recipes!

Sierra Club, where are you?

Well, in their draft proposal the club does say that factory farms are bad. But it says that rotational grazing (where animals are moved from pasture to pasture) is good, not just good but great, even though they should know that pasture-grazed animals produce more green house gas than grain fed animals!

From the report: “Appropriately managed, grazing can have a significant positive role in building soil organic matter, increasing plant and wildlife biodiversity and weed management.”

If grazing animals was so terrific for biodiversity, for example, why is the Bureau of Land Management (federal agency) protecting (privately owned) livestock by killing 1.5 million wild animals a year? Why has the huge loss of the South American rainforest to pasture and/or to grow feed crops been seen not only as a major threat to our supply of oxygen, and a major contributor to climate change, but also a huge loss of biological diversity?

Yet the Sierra Club draft report keeps going: “Grazing and pasturage, which recycle animal wastes back into the soil, have the potential to transform vast amounts of coarse forages into food products… Animals raised on perennial forage pastures cause far less soil erosion and nutrient loss compared with animals in confinement being fed crops from annual row cropping.”

We’re not sure where this assessment comes from (outlier biologist Allan Savory perhaps?) and it certainly flies in the face of what many, many other environmentalists, such as the Center for Biological Diversity, have to say about livestock grazing:

“Cattle destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste. After decades of livestock grazing, once-lush streams and riparian forests have been reduced to flat, dry wastelands; once-rich topsoil has been turned to dust, causing soil erosion, stream sedimentation and wholesale elimination of some aquatic habitats.”

The Sierra Club seems to be besotted with so-called “sustainable” animal food production, which presumably would prevent overgrazing. My question is where is that all that virgin pasture land going to come from. Maybe another planet?

Fully ½ of the grazing land in the United States is already overgrazed according to the World Watch Institute and an amazing 70 percent of the land in the western United States is ALREADY being grazed by cattle.

The Institute has said there is simply no more pasture to be had and if we want more pasture we’re going to have to cut down more forests. If you want to head off climate change, that would be an extremely bad idea. Rain forest stores carbon at about 200 tons per hectare whereas forest cleared for grassland stores only 8 tons per hectare.

Go vegan. Plant a tree.

There has been a lot of speculation as to why the Sierra Club has jumped on the “sustainable meat” bandwagon. A couple of theories that keep jumping to the foreground is that the leadership of the Sierra Club and indeed the general membership likes to eat animal foods. According to the producers of “Cowspiracy,” Bruce Hamilton, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club said off-camera that he eats grass-fed beef.

Bruce please! Grass-fed cattle produce MORE greenhouse gas than grain fed cattle

The other theory that was suggested by the movie “Cowspiracy,” but never actually proved was that the Sierra Club and other environmental groups were taking donations from ranchers. Now the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. In a recent essay, executive director of the Sierra Club Michael Brune wrote that the club has received donations from billionaire hedge fund manager and grass-fed cattle rancher, Tom Steyer.

If you’d like to learn more about that, check out the Dec. 28, 2014 radio interview by environmental activist and author of “Western Turf Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching,” Dr. Michael Hudak.

Years ago I became a life-time member of the Sierra Club by donating about $1,000. I’ve never been actually involved in the group but believed they were doing good work.

These days because of the organization’s reluctance to seriously address the environmental impact of the livestock industry I’m not so sure about the Sierra Club any more.

My financial resources are limited and I can’t compete with billionaires such as Tom Steyer to get the attention of the Sierra Club. But maybe if there are enough of us squawking, we can have an impact on this oldest and largest environmental group in the country.

The Sierra Club is taking comments from its members on the proposed “Agriculture and Food Policy” until Jan. 15.

Again you have to access the Clubhouse site to view that page:

Username: clubhouse
Password: explore

If you are a member of the Sierra Club you can comment on the proposed policy until January 15, 2015 here.

You also need to access the Clubhouse site to view that page:

Username: clubhouse
Password: explore


Mark your calendars: 2017. That’s the date when, some climate experts are now saying, irreversible climate change is likely to become locked in unless we do something FAST. This means that it would no longer be possible to avert flooding interspersed with droughts, therefore seriously wrecking agriculture. It means 1700 American cities under water. What else, I don’t know.

Climate change is mostly caused by too much carbon in the atmosphere. Since that carbon takes at least 100 years to dissipate, even 1000s of people buying Priuses or putting up solar panels (while wonderful) isn’t going to be enough to turn things around. It isn’t going to be enough to stop the debacle which could come as early as 2017 or as late 2020.

But there is hope.

In case you haven’t heard, livestock is responsible for at least 51 percent of human-induced carbon and other greenhouse gases. That’s according to the respected Worldwatch Institute which published a report in 2009 by environmental specialists Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang of the World Bank Group, a United Nations agency.

That’s cheeseburgers, bacon, eggs and vanilla shakes, folks.

Fifty-one percent.

And those environmental specialists have explained how replacing livestock products with plant-based products will also free up land to plant trees, which can suck up the excess atmospheric carbon. More trees happens to be a very big deal. And the reverse – losing the rain forests – is also a very big deal.

If this sounds like another “go vegan” pitch from me, it’s not. You actually don’t have to go totally vegan or totally vegetarian to help.

The solution is for people around the world to not only plant trees but also to replace close to 50 percent of today’s livestock products with better alternatives, according to the website “Chomping Climate Change.” Better alternatives are everything from grain-based meats to soy milk, nut butters, whole grains, and legumes.

While livestock emit a lot of carbon through carbon dioxide in respiration, livestock also emit a lot of two other highly potent greenhouse gases: methane and nitrous oxide.

The thing that’s handy about methane and nitrous oxide as opposed to CO2 is those chemicals largely dissipate from the atmosphere within 8 years, quick enough so that large-scale replacement of livestock products with plant-based alternatives could allow us to make a real difference and head off the 2017 tipping point.

But Houston we do have a problem, which is some unfortunate news that I recently acquired from an off-the-record yet credible scientific source: Even if the entire United States goes vegan, that’s not going to be enough to head off this environmental catastrophe.

It has to be the whole planet replacing close to 50 percent of animal-based foods with something else, something else like lentils or potatoes or Beyond Meat stir fry or tofu, or, hell, vegan banana bread.

Currently, China is eating one fourth of all the animal foods on Earth. One fourth.

India with its huge population of over a billion people, too, is chowing down animals. While consumption of animal foods has dropped a bit in the US (population 316 million) it’s increasing in India to the tune of 12 percent a year and there’s no sign that it’s letting up!

OH CRAP! OH FUCK! OH SHIT! (sorry for yelling in this post, but I’m upset.)

One of the reasons that we’re not going to be able to have a little climate change free oasis in, say, the Bay Area or the Pacific Northwest is that greenhouse gas is “transboundary.” It means that green house gases don’t respect borders, so if somebody is raising pigs in China or cows in Brazil or chickens in Alabama, there’s still going to be an epic tornado in Oklahoma or an epic hurricane in the Philippines or a flood in San Francisco.

But before we all pack our bags and head for Mumbai and Beijing with our Vegan Outreach leaflets, it’s important to consider this embarrassing statistic: As individuals, we Americans consume more animal products than anyone else in the world. Per capita we consume twice as much as the Chinese.

India really humiliates the United States. Per capita we Americans consume 19 times the chicken and 10 times the pork that they do.

I once had an unpleasant conversation with Bill McKibben, the founder of at a 2012 Bioneers conference. I hassled him for not bringing up the fact that animal food consumption is a big factor in climate change.

He was pissed and so was I. He asked me where did I think the biggest increase in meat consumption was happening and I told him I knew it was in the poorer parts of the world that were staring to develop economically.

“And how are you going to ask people who are just now starting to be able to enjoy eating meat that they can’t eat it?” he said.

When it happened I was a bit discombobulated, but now I would have answered to him that “meat” isn’t just pork chops these days. Check out the dictionary. It defines meat as an essential food that includes alternatives to livestock products ( Again better alternatives to animal foods can be legumes, whole grains, potatoes, Annie’s veggie burgers, tempeh bacon, etc.

I would have also said that the only reason that animal-based foods have become hip in the so-called “developing world,” is they’re taking their cues from the more affluent countries — that would be the US, that would be Europe. Even if the whole U.S. going vegan isn’t going to be enough to turn around climate change, we’ve still got a huge important job to do here now: Make plant-based cool. Make animal foods obsolete.

As friend and fellow activist Bee Uytiepo says, “Eat like a real environmentalist.”

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


And you thought PETA was bad-ass! There’s a group of ticks emanating from Texas, who are taking the farm animal rights fight to a whole new level!

Causing red meat allergies in anyone they happen to bite, these ticks aren’t confining their outreach to only the country’s beefiest state, Texas.

Traveling by deer (way to go deer!), the ticks are bringing their super powers to cause instant vegetarianism across the country. A case was diagnosed in Maine!

OK, OK, the symptoms of the tick bite are not much fun. Within 30 days, it’s been reported, you can get a fever, headache or muscle pain, swollen glands and a rash. If you’re a rock solid vegan or even a vegetarian, this is where the story ends. Take some antibiotics and you’re fine.

But if you were bitten and aren’t a veg and eat red meat (the flesh of cows, pigs or deer), look out. You can land your ass in the hospital, with hives, swelling and even problems breathing.

The moral is, according to the lamestream media, avoid brushy areas, cover up and check your body for ticks after you’ve been hiking or whatever.

The Vicious Vegan advice is don’t eat freaking hamburger!

Good job, Lone Star Ticks! We’re granting each and every one of you “The Vicious Vegan Award of the Week!”

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


What’s the weirdest place to be a vegan in? (Sorry about the grammar.)

For me it was Clarksdale, Mississippi, where fried chicken, baked ham and barbecued crawdads rule. (We were there for a (great!) blues festival and rightfully worried about getting something to eat that weekend.)

We brought oatmeal, peanut butter, bread, raisins and some apples so we could fix breakfast and lunch at the place we were staying. But dinner? I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of French fries and Coke, or as they say in the deep South, “Coke-cola.”

And then we found the Stone Pony. Yep, the most California-ized, restaurant probably in the entire state. I asked for a pizza with sauce, mushrooms, olives and spinach and NO CHEESE.

“You cain’t do that!” said the pretty blond waitress.

“I cain’t?” I said.

“No, you cain’t,” she said.

“But I can! I can! I know it will work,” I said.

She finally agreed to go ask the chef and when she came back it was the same: “He says, ‘You cain’t – ‘cuz it’ll burn up without the cheese.’”

“No, no, no. Trust me, it’ll work. It won’t burn up,” I said.

She walked back to the kitchen, walking the slowest I’d ever seen a waitress walk. Of course, it did work and we went from pizza to later enjoy fried green tomato sandwiches (without the cheese), fried potatoes, grits, greens and, well, peanut butter sandwiches.

Recently, I read a blog post about a woman, Rebecca Barfoot, who went to a really weird place for vegans – Greenland, where folks chow down a lot of whale meat, seal meat and some fish. Before Barfoot, a 20 year vegan, left Europe, she said, even though she wasn’t at all interested in consuming meat, she was determined to be flexible and if fish was the only thing available, well so be it.

Since the Air Greenland wouldn’t let passengers take more than one bag weighing no more than 44 pounds, a case of canned vegetables was out. She managed to pack some 15 pounds of food – almonds, flax seeds, quinoa, mung beans, which she figured she’d sprout and some dried greens. It wasn’t enough food for her to survive her 40-day art residency there.

Most of Greenland is ice and plants don’t grow tremendously well there. Everything is super expensive there since most food, with the exception of seal and whale meat is imported by boat from Denmark.

Barfoot described her typical grocery run as “rations.” She wrote she’d usually get a can of garbanzos or navy beans, a small loaf of heavy rye bread. Sometimes she’d been able to get maybe a banana or some cabbage if a delivery boat had come in. And if she was really lucky, she would get maybe some jam, sweet pickles or pickled beets.

So how was she doing? As of writing her blog post, she hadn’t had any meat and was “surviving,” noting that she was losing weight, however.

Now, that’s a commitment.

I didn’t lose any weight in Clarksdale – must have been those fried green tomato, (hold the mayo and the cheese) sandwiches.

Note to Clarksdale: I really don’t think your town is “Nowheresville.” Y’all voted for Obama, the only county in Mississippi that did, and put on the most fantastic blues festivals every year, which are also free. Best wishes.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


When it comes to image, Obama’s got the same problem as vegans.

One day, Fox news says he’s a dictator bent on closing down churches, taking everyone’s money and forcing kindergarteners to watch gay porn and the next day, he’s a namby-pamby and the secret owner of a pink sweater.

Same with vegans: one day we’re overbearing assholes trying to take over the world, giving the vote to cows, pigs and chickens and forcing everyone else to eat nothing but tofu and spinach. And the next day, we’re yoga-fied, space-cadets in need of hospitalization due to protein deficiency.

A friend of mine, also an activist, asked me, “Why did you call your blog, Vicious Vegan?”

“Oh, it was because I wanted to try and make veganism seem more cool – less New Age hippie and more punk.” I said, off the top.

Actually, Vicious Vegan is a joke, poking fun at the idea of vegans as cruel sanctimonious fun-killers or as militant threats to people and property. It’s also poking fun at the idea of the 90-pound, aroma-therapy sniffing, lettuce-munching vegan air head.

So the mystery remains: what IS the most ideal “vegan image?” Wow, that is such a Guy Debord kind of question!

Don’t know Guy Debord? I don’t really know either, but from what I understand, the French philosopher argued that our whole society is based on image. Even when you fight the pressure to have an image – you’ve got one: “the person who fights having an image” or “the rebel.”

Hopeless, huh? Oh those depressing French!

Well, the image thing is kind of important, according to Nick Cooney who wrote the super book, “A Change of Heart” where he argues that activists embrace a kind of image flexibility. If you’re talking to a group of stuffy businesspeople, put on a suit or a nice dress, for godssakes! Banish “fuck” and “shit” from your vocab. If you’re, say leafleting at a Warp Tour concert, that cut-up black T-shirt should work fine and you can say “shit” all you want.

Cooney insists that activists best to avoid an “us versus them” scenario, if you possibly can. So far, that tactic hasn’t worked very well for Obama. Maybe vegans will have better luck ducking the negative images society has for us.

Right now, though, I better stop writing. I’m feeling weak from protein deficiency. I think I should lie down and eat some soy nuts before I faint.

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


Wherever you go, vegan, you’ll hear the same question:

In Turkey: Nerede sizin protein, alabilirim? Or in Holland: Waar je je eiwitten? Or in Mexico: De donde obtiene su protein? WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN? There are so many smart-ass answers to that question, the mind reels:

From beer.

I chew on my fingernails.

It’s amazing how much protein there is in tree bark.

From drinking my own urine.

Bragg’s Aminos

Hershey’s dark chocolate.

Mostly from TV.

From licking my windshield in the morning.

Perhaps a better response would be to answer a question with a question, Socratic style: How much protein do you think you need?

Of course, practically nobody knows, but most people think they must eat some meat or cheese or fish or eggs with every meal in order to get enough protein. It’s the terror that has swept America: not having enough protein.

It’s been estimated that most Americans get about half of their calories from animal foods and about half come from highly processed foods like chips, cookies, sodas, candy and oil. So if that’s everybody’s diet, what are you, Ms. “plant-based, low-fat, whole foods diet,” eating, for god sakes?

Figuring out what a vegan might eat on a daily basis defies most people’s imagination. So they figure we vegans must be starving.

But wait a minute, we don’t look like we’re starving. Then we must secretly be suffering from an invisible lack of protein possibly coupled with a lack of junk food. Maybe vegans have kwashiorkor, which is the medical term for protein deficiency. (So far, there’s no medical term for ‘lack of junk food.’)

The thing is, the symptoms of kwashiorkor are anything but subtle – the skin and hair turn a reddish orange. People with the ailment also suffer from diarrhea, weakness, apathy, fatigue. When you see pictures of starving children with their stick-like legs and their bulging abdomens, you’re seeing kwashiorkor. The children are suffering from a severe lack of calories first and foremost.

If you’re consuming enough calories it is most likely that you’re consuming enough protein, even if all those calories are coming from plants.

Back to the original question: how much protein do you think you need? The answer kind of depends on who you ask. If you ask the United States government, you will hear 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women. If you ask the World Health Organization, you’ll hear 38 grams for men and 29 grams for women.

A generous bowl of cooked oatmeal will give you 12 grams of protein. A piece of whole wheat bread will give you 4 grams. A cup of cooked lentils will give you 16 grams. Two tablespoons of peanut butter will give you 8 grams. There are 8 grams of protein in a cup of cow’s milk and 8 grams of protein in a cup of soy milk. See where I’m going here? It’s not hard to get enough protein eating plants.

Whoa! you say. What was that about plant protein being an incomplete protein?

While both animal foods and plant foods have all the essential amino acids, some plant foods are low in specific essential amino acids. The Center for Disease Controls recommends that vegans and vegetarians combine different plant foods, such as rice and beans or peanut butter and bread. Dr. John McDougall explains that combining is fine but it doesn’t have to happen at once in the same meal! Bread on Monday and peanut butter on Friday is fine, he says.

The National Institutes of Health has said that most of us Americans eat more protein than we actually need. The NIH cautions that consuming animal protein means consuming saturated fat and LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease.

They also note for those with kidney disease, a low-protein diet is often recommended.

So there’s really no worry about protein, as long as you gnaw on some tree bark on Tuesday and lick the windshield by Friday.

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —