July Book Discussion: Resolved

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After deliberating about which book to read for the book discussion I am organizing for this month, I have chosen Animal Geographies: Place, Politics and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands. Thank you, Adam, for the idea. I looked into this book to see if it would be good, and there’s a lot in there that would make for interesting discussion.

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Book Discussion?

•June 27, 2010 • 4 Comments

Update: The book has been chosen.

My favorite vegan blogger asked some friends if they were interested in reading and discussing with him. I signed up, and we discussed an excellent book for four days in a row on Skype. It was a lot of fun, I got to know someone on a new level, and I learned a lot. This has got me wanting more, so I am inviting anyone interested to read/discuss a book with me at the end of July. If interested, please take a look at the books on my to-read list. I was thinking David Nibert’s book would be good, but that might be a bit dry (I’ve read a few pages before). Let me know what you would be interested in reading together, including possibilities not on my list, as long as it’s not something I’ve already read.

“Vegan” is Two Words

•May 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

I’d like to clear up some confusion about the words “vegan.” The person who coined the term “vegan,” Donald Watson, explained that he saw vegan as “the beginning and end of vegetarian,” taking the beginning and end of the word veg-etari-an. It was thus not merely an extension of the vegetarian diet, but something more, something bigger which encompassed vegetarian – a political ethic, from which the diet and lifestyle naturally flows.  This is why many vegans object to the notion that someone who is “vegan” merely for the environment is actually vegan. Ida at The Vegan Ideal points out that the term has been unjustly appropriated by the dominant culture.

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Listening is Anti-Oppression

•May 6, 2010 • 3 Comments

Listen attentively. You will come out ahead.

Listening is an extremely important form of anti-oppression. Vegans listen to nonhuman animals. But we should, moreover, listen to people we disagree with, including non-vegans. We should not tell people that “meat is murder,” for it is not. We should not assume that we know more than people simply because we disagree with them, though in many cases we do know more. Sometimes we just disagree and will do better to agree to disagree if we want to continue respecting one another.

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AR Conference 2010?

•April 29, 2010 • 2 Comments

Who’s attending the Animal Rights Conference 2010? I live in D.C., so I’m planning to attend. I don’t know where I’ll be after I graduate, so this may be my only chance. And I know lots of cool people attend this; I would like to meet cool people!

They say it’s in D.C., but technically it’s in Virginia, five miles south of D.C., so I will be taking the free shuttle.

Wish I had been able to attend the critical animal studies conference in New York this month, but I was too busy with schoolwork. Fortunately, the AR conference is during the summer. I did invite a speaker to come talk about connections between feminism and animals rights this month, so that was my consolation.

California ban on frog & turtle imports

•March 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The state Fish and Game Commission voted this week to ban the import of non-native turtles and frogs as food — a staple in some Asian grocery stores — capping a 16-year battle by animal rights activists to halt the practice.

Are you wondering why the Fish and Game Commission, of all things, would agree to anything pushed by animal rights activists?

Activists have long sought the ban on grounds that many of the animals are kept in inhumane conditions and suffer painful deaths, including being pan-fried while still alive.

That argument never got very far with the state Fish and Game Commission, however. But the activists changed tactics and began challenging the import of the animals on grounds that many get released into the wild, where they pose a threat to indigenous plant and animals species.

That explains it. It was done for conservation (animal populations), not for the animals themselves.

Did you notice the irony between the first and last sentences of the article?

Californians who want to rustle up some frog’s legs or turtle soup will have to start settling for the local varieties. …

“They are killing our native pond turtle,” [Tellem] said.

Correction: they are killing your native pond turtle species. And now humans are going to kill your native pond turtle, but it’s okay because they’ll be breeding new ones into existence and making a profit off of it.

I’m not sure how much of a victory it is that certain animal trafficking was banned by the animal traffickers themselves.

By the way, domestic cat populations are a threat to native bird populations. Maybe we can use this argument against breeding?

Pollan: Alienated from Animality?

•January 27, 2010 • 3 Comments


Recently I received some omnivore-centric e-mails from two student groups on campus (Eco-Action and Unconventional Eaters) about a showing tomorrow night of the documentary Food, Inc. I have not seen it yet, but from everything I have heard, it not only promotes omnivorism, but resembles an infomercial for Stonyfield Farms. (I will be watching the film later in this Spring and may have more to say then.) Anyway, in the Eco-Action e-mail, “animal rights” were invoked and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma was mentioned. Thank you, Craig at Theoria, for pointing out but one egregious problem with the logic of Pollan. Of Pollan, Craig quotes,

A deep Puritan streak pervades animal rights activists, an abiding discomfort not only with our animality, but with animal’s animality too… Granting rights to animals may lift us up from the brutal world of predation, but it will entail the sacrifice of part of our identity–our own animality.

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