Tag Archives: animal rights


The Wadham College food committee is this week’s winner of the Vicious Vegan Award for forcing everybody at the School to go vegan for five days a week!

How great is that?

Wadham is part of the University of Oxford. Yes, the same country that gave us the Beatles, has now given us the Wadham College Food Committee!

At first the group pondered the (somewhat wimpy) suggestion from fourth-year engineering student, James Kenna that the school go vegetarian for four days out of the week. But second-year history student Ben Szreter came to the rescue! He said that to really make a change they should go vegan five days a week!

A motion was made because, the students said, “Reducing the consumption of meat is one of the many steps needed to reduce the effects of climate change…Excessive meat consumption is harmful to the environment and it could also lead to an increased risk of certain illnesses like bowel cancer.”


OK it’s not totally a done deal. Ben told the school paper that he was feeling a little bit of heat: “Five days of vegan food may sound intimidating to students across the country, and many Wadham students I’ve spoken to have said that they would have applied to another college if this policy was in place when they were applying.”

Uh oh. The motion is going to be revisited at the next Wadham Food Committee meeting. Watch this space.

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


Who can forget their first biology class in dissection? Numb as I was to the suffering of animals, I peeled off the rat’s skin with barely a thought. Some of us even got the idea there was something funny about messing around with the dead bodies, naming our rats and/or making them dance.

Isn’t there an ad on TV where some old man entertains the grandkids by turning chickens from the freezer into marionettes?


Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. ha…

Now you, too, (if you live in England) can play with dead animals and even make art with them.

As reported in the New York Times on Monday, classes, which are described as a combination arts and crafts and taxidermy are now offered across the pond. A four-hour lesson allows participants bring little dead mice “back to life,” by skinning them, stuffing the skins and dressing them up like dolls.

Oh yes, it’s controversial notes Times writer Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura: “For some people, the course is eccentric or downright macabre. To others, it is an opportunity to pursue a very British hobby.”

Oh those crazy Brits! (Hey, I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of Americans who wouldn’t dig something like this – a lot of Americans.)

According to the article, stuffing dead animals and dressing them up in tiny clothes was an idea of fun dating back to 19th century England — concocted by this guy, Walter Potter, the “pioneer of anthropomorphic taxidermy.” He ended up with a whole museum of dioramas: rabbits in little outfits going to school, mice in ruffles having tea parties, etc.

At the bottom of it all, of course, is the idea that animals are ours to use any way we want – either for food, entertainment, research or for art projects. It’s the old “Man is the Master of the Universe” crap and everybody else is born to serve.

One of the English “arts and crafts” students described what she was doing as a kind of a gift to the killed mice. “(It) gives them a second opportunity to be enjoyed and to be present in your life.”

Arts and crafts taxidermy teacher Margot Magpie also offers an “advanced class,” in making hats out of bird wings. And the taxidermist crafter sells hair clips and headbands festooned with preserved mice bodies. Yeah, I know, very punk or if you like, very Goth. Ghouls rock!

The dead animal art thing has been hot for quite a while now, with the used-to- be Young British Artist Damien Hirst who’s probably the most famous and definitely the most rich, selling his formaldehyde-embalmed sharks, cows and sheep for as much as $12 million each. I haven’t seen any of Hirst’s corpses.

Then you also hear about art students pulling such stunts as killing chickens in front of audiences. Maybe that’s where artist Laura Ginn got her idea of a multi-course rat dinner which she served in a white-walled New York City art gallery. Messing around with dead animals is a way to get attention. She managed to get a large article in the New York Times about the event.

Seems to me there’s a way to do art with dead animals and a way perhaps not to do it. For me, a way to do it would be the amazing guerrilla theater performance held in many cities for National Animal Rights Day which included silent black-T-shirted protesters tenderly and sometimes tearfully holding the dead bodies of chickens, birds, rats, mice, piglets, squirrels, to order to raise awareness.

Another way to do it would be Joseph Beuys’ stunning performance piece in the ‘70s, “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare,” where he walked around a gallery cradling a dead hare. As he went from picture to picture he would whisper to the animal. Yes, the work is thought to be about the impossibility of explaining anything especially art, but I think it’s also about our bond to animals.

“Even a dead animal preserves more powers of intuition than some human beings with their stubborn rationalism,” said Beuys.

There’s art (and craft) that has the potential to deaden us and art that has the potential wake us up. “To be or not to be that is the question.”

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


One of the problems with subscribing to the New York Times is that on occasion, you end up reading it. That happened to me last Sunday as I pawed through the Sunday magazine to see there in black and white somebody writing into “The Ethicist” (the Miss Manners of moral conundrums ) about the moral conundrum of eating meat.

Since the New York Times has been talking out of both sides of its mouth on the issue I was curious to see what their high priest of right and wrong, The Ethicist, would have to say when confronted directly with the question: “Is it ethical to pay someone else to kill a (food) animal because I can’t or don’t want to know what’s involved?”

The reader who sent in the question wrote that he or she wasn’t worried about the health, religious or even the environmental reasons to not eat meat. It was just the idea of paying someone else to do the deed that troubled this reader.

Within the animal rights movement the answer is clear. Just don’t do it. Learn to like lentils and other foods that don’t involve blood.

But the New York Times is not the animal rights movement and neither is The Ethicist, Chuck Klosterman. Klosterman boiled down the reader’s question to: “Is it the process of killing animals that bothers you or the very idea?”

The Ethicist asked the reader to consider a hypothetical situation: A healthy cow is led into a solid steel box. A button is pushed and out comes steaks. Could the reader push the button? If the reader could push the button, fine, he’s not a hypocrite to eat meat. But if the reader couldn’t push the button then he probably shouldn’t eat meat.

Hummm, what does pushing a button to kill someone without seeing a thing remind you of?

The Ethicist proposes another way for the reader to access his true feelings about the animal slaughter matter:

“Watch videos of cows on YouTube for 10 minutes. After that spend another 10 minutes reading expository nonpolitical articles about cattle-slaughtering practices in North America. If you still want a burger after those 20 minutes, you no longer have to worry about this problem. You are not a hypocrite. You’re merely squeamish.”

(Note: the Ethicist doesn’t say watch YouTube videos of animal slaughter.)

Soooooo, if I feel like stealing jewelry at Nordstrom is it OK? If I feel like running over someone with my car is that OK?

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


My mom to my dad: “You can just stuff it.”

We never ate turkey at my house; we only ate “damn turkey.” The “damn turkey” was the one my mother cooked for various holidays.
Of course, it never occurred to anyone that we actually didn’t have to buy, cook or eat turkey at all. That option was not on our radar.

My mother hated the damn turkey because 1) It was huge; 2) You had to thaw it out in the bathtub; 3) It always needed to cook about two more hours than you thought it did and 4) Probably at a semi-conscious level she realized it was a dead animal.

She was disgusted with the damn turkey’s gizzard and neck and disgusted by the idea of stuffing its body. I think she would have filed for divorce if my father hadn’t agreed to stuff it.

Somehow I remember him sort of wrestling with the damn turkey in the kitchen sink with his arms up to the elbows covered with greasy anonymous gunk. It’s such a truly bizarre idea – putting food into the body cavity of a deceased bird.

I’ve never cooked a damn turkey. Probably my most hated Susie Homemaker experience was making meat loaf: putting the hamburger meat into a bowl, cracking an egg over it, adding some mustard and bread crumbs and squishing up the whole thing with my hands, with the meat mixture oozing out from between my fingers. I’d mold it into a “loaf” or whatever and blanket it with about a half a bottle of ketchup. I couldn’t wait to wash my hands and wash the bowl.

It was appalling but I never allowed myself to fully acknowledge appalling it was. Or to allow myself to think deeply about what I was touching – the ground up flesh of a cow, a cow who was an individual and a cow who had suffered unimaginable pain and fear.

The other meat cooking I despised was chicken. In my pre-vegan days, I would rinse off the chicken breasts with cold water and pull off the skin and the visible fat. But knowing what I know now about how unbelievably filthy chicken meat is, I probably would have wanted to put on a Hazmet suit and use straight bleach to disinfect it.

I don’t know if eggs are as dirty as chicken flesh, but they certainly are nasty. Am I the only one who’s noticed they smell like farts? Even during my meat-eating career, I had little inclination to eat eggs. The only time I liked them was when they were safely disguised in a chocolate mousse or in a crepe.

These days as a vegan, I eat honest chocolate mousse: melted dark chocolate chips, a drip of vanilla and silken tofu blended up in the blender and I’m a happy person for it.

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


Contrary to popular opinion, vegans are not the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of self-discipline. Like everyone on the planet we have our battles with our inner brats and sometimes the brats win.

No, I’m not talking about the food. For a lot of vegans it took but a few days to become completely disgusted by the thought of eating animal flesh and/or animal secretions. Vegan food can be really great (except for Boca-Burgers.) I dare anyone to say that cow’s milk tastes better than almond milk!

I’m talking about the other stuff that can trip up even the most dedicated vegan, namely me: This is my confession.

First off since going vegan nearly six years ago, I bought two, not one but two down vests. Yes, I didn’t know at the time that the ducks raised for down are treated as cruelly as any other factory farmed animals. But like the vast majority of meat eaters I didn’t investigate the issue too deeply. In fact, I didn’t investigate it all.

I also bought was a stupid pair of red leather shoes and a stupid wool sweater. In those instances I KNEW animals had suffered egregiously in the process of making those things. But well, I thought I NEEDED them. You see, I had a wedding to go to and my shoes need to match the dress and the sweater? Well, it was on sale.

Obviously I didn’t really need them! I needed them in that spoiled American diva sort of way, the way that’s wrecking the planet. Whoops! The way that’s already wrecked the planet.

Of course, at this point, the sweater’s already gone to the Good Will and the shoes sit unworn in the bottom of my closet. I’d always had this idea that red shoes are happy shoes. It’s not true! Those shoes cry and moan.

I have three or four more vegan misdemeanors: I take a prescription drug in a gelatin capsule (the drug was probably tested on animals) and I eat organic fruits and vegetables, which according to Will Tuttle in his “World Peace Diet,” says, are fertilized by the manure from factory farms. I have a cat that eats cat food with meat, dairy and eggs in it.

Yes, I’ve done these things; some I hope to never do again like the shoes, the vests and the sweater; others I know I will do again, like eating organic and taking the medication. I’m OK with it.

I practice Vicious Veganism at the level that makes sense to me. And I understand it’s the same for others. Maybe the best for you right now is simply Meatless Monday and meatless leftovers for Tuesday.

Go vegan; go vegetarian; go Meatless Monday and whatever part of Tuesday you can manage!

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


What are the differences between vegetarians and vegans? Of course, besides the obvious — vegetarians eat eggs and dairy and vegans don’t. Here’s my list:

Vegetarians have friends and vegans have comrades.

Waiters love vegetarians, vegans? Not so much.

Vegetarians have no idea how many animals are slaughtered for food every year. Vegans know it’s 10 billion land animals in the United States.

Vegetarians think you have to properly combine proteins in order to survive, vegans think you can live happily on pomegranates for the rest of your life. (Both wrong. Read “The Starch Solution” by Dr. John McDougall.)

Vegetarians tend toward the “different strokes for different folks” philosophy. Vegans can get, well, vicious, if they see somebody eating a hot dog.

Vegetarians don’t get too upset about chicken broth hiding in the minestrone soup, vegans DO get upset about chicken broth hiding in the minestrone soup.

Vegetarians don’t worry about their feet going to hell if they wear leather shoes. Vegans have learned to, if not love plastic and canvas footwear, at least get along with it.

Vegetarians hold on to the hope that “cage free” means chickens happily running about in a barnyard. Vegans don’t approve even if your companion chicken is a rescue and you feed its eggs to hungry school children.

Vegetarians look at ice cream and see, well, ice cream. Vegans look at ice cream and see a male dairy calf confused and crying for his mother in the corner of a darkened veal stall.

Vegetarians can go to dinner parties where meat is served without making a big deal out of it. Vegans go to dinner parties where meat is served and do make a big deal out of it, while trying really hard not to make a big deal out of it.

OK enough with the differences. What about the similarities between these two factions of the animal liberation movement?

Both vegetarians and vegans care about animals. Both vegetarians and vegans care about personal and public health. Both vegetarians and vegans care about the environment. And when you think about it, meat-eaters also care about animals, personal and public health and the environment.

Vegans and vegetarians forget that we, too, ate hot dogs, bacon and burgers before giving them up.

Vegans forget that most of us consumed Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream, Cheez-its and egg nog long before giving those up.

And meat-eaters forget that their vegan and/or vegetarian friend is actually a nice person underneath all that damned proselytizing.

Vegetarianism is REALLY important to the movement. Vegetarianism allows people who have concerns about the animal foods industry to still make a BIG contribution. They save animals and lessen global warming. And even your basic meat, cheese, fish and egg eater can even make a BIG contribution just by refraining from meat on Mondays.

Go vegan! Go vegetarian! Go Meatless Monday!

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


Have you ever looked into your dog’s eyes and realized, that he was not the fool you thought he was? It’s true, dogs think things, feel things (such as love), plan for the future and do things, such as rescuing humans from the different kinds of jams we get ourselves into.

Well, the same can be said for pigs, who, animal behaviorists say, are even smarter than dogs. Cows are smart too, as anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes with them, knows. Even chickens who are commonly believed to be less intelligent than amoebas can recognize specific human faces. And turkeys who are also supposed to be dumb, like to have their heads petted. So be careful if you get a dog, you might start to realize…


The problem is, of course, animals can’t flush. OK, OK, some YouTube animals can, but your average chicken or your average cow cannot, even if you’re raising her in the back yard. The other problem is when an animal plops, it doesn’t just sit there waiting for Mom or Dad to somehow clean it up.

Poop and pee tend to go places – rivers, lakes, oceans and, yes, into our precious groundwater. There is nothing quite like nitrates to mess up an otherwise great cup of free trade coffee.

Oh hell, what’s a few nitrates? A few? No problemo. Thing is, our “food animals” just in the United States produce 89,000 pounds of excrement every second. EVERY SECOND. And that’s according to the UN’s 2008 report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow.”

We’ve got way more crap than can be used as fertilizer.

The EPA has come up with the troubling factoid that fully 1/3 of the underground wells in the South fall below EPA safe standard for drinking water in the South. (Nitrates are very concentrated in chicken manure.)

Glad you don’t live in the South? Well, nitrates from the California dairy industry have fucked up 100,000 miles of ground water, according to the EPA.

The moral to this story is don’t eat meat, eggs, fish or dairy. Not eating fish is becoming easier though. In a 2005 National Geographic article John Roach wrote, “Factory farm runoff causes algal blooms which deprives water of oxygen which create “dead zones” where fish can’t survive.” The writer explained that the largest is where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. That dead zone is now the size of New Jersey. It’s a big freaking dead zone.

Everybody talks about how vegans are thinner, how they don’t have to take statin drugs, how they don’t have heart attacks, how they’re racking up less bad karma, but the truth is, vegans are just a lot less messy.

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —