I’m always a bit bothered by the idea that some companies get a whole lot of public relations mileage out of advertising a ‘clean’ source for their supply of meat. Most of us (I would assume, at least) are reasonably aware that this is complete and utter word chemistry. Regardless how individual animals are treated in exceptional cases (ie. folks who actually hold to their promises to consumers), most animals intended for restaurant consumption end up at the same slaughterhouses that the not-quite-so-happy animals are slaughtered in. It’s immaterial, really.
In any case, bitter ranting aside, here’s an ABC News story about an extremely fucked up meat producer being shut down after being caught not only abusing the animals in its ‘care’, but allowing non-ambulatory animals (you know, like mad cows) to be processed in the same facility. It’s worth reading if you have any remaining faith at all in the animal industry in the United States. You really shouldn’t.
“For a third day running, the girls have been woken at 5am, held in a 1sq m unventilated room, after which they are taken to court,” said lawyer Nikolay Polozov. “They are not fed, and court sessions last up to 12 hours, during which they are only given 20-30 minutes for a small snack of dry rations. They are then taken back to remand after midnight. They are also denied an evening meal and can only sleep for small number of hours.” lifted from here
The whole thing is pretty astonishing given the amount of international attention being given to the case. Think positive thoughts for all involved.
I really like this interview with the creator of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. The years after perspective is what I always feel is missing from documentary film making. In this case, it’s more understandable given Joe’s initial motivation just to insure that he followed through on his intent to drastically alter his health and the additional dimensions the film took on weren’t planned explicitly.
During my first go-’round of being vegan, I was the worst example of what a healthy vegan eats. When I wasn’t cooking (read: often) I just ate whatever convenience foods I could find that didn’t contain animal ingredients which occasionally (read: really often) meant that dinner was an entire box of Tofutti Cuties and a large Red Eye from Muddy Waters. It’s strange because being a more healthy vegan, despite that not being the motivation for being vegan again, is a lot simpler than it was then. I spent way too much time talking to droney hippies tell me about allegedly magical shit in natural grocery vitamin aisles and there just weren’t many sources of hard nutritional information available then that wasn’t a typo-ridden zine-format cookbook. Although I have a lot of faith in veganism as a semi-coherent methodology of ridding your life of shit you shouldn’t be a participant in, I’m also pretty skeptical of most advice I get from other lacksadaisical vegans who are really hung up on some particular aspect of nutrition rather than keeping you generally healthy and keeping the scurvy cooties off.
The availability of information post-interwebs has a whole lot to do with this. Soy Not Oi was once the informational gateway for vegetarians to transition to a vegan diet and was also funny as hell, but, in retrospect, I’m terrified that for a long time this was my main source of information. I do miss the emphasis of veganism being centered on animal liberation now that the health benefits of a vegan diet are more widely known and variations like raw vegan diets are becoming popular especially for athletes. I feel like that aspect is somewhat diminished, but I’m also happy that other folks are making better decisions even we’re not congruent in terms of motivations and rationale. Whatevs. Vegan convenience food has improved drastically both in taste and nutritional value because more people are going vegan for health reasons. I’m fine with that because although I’m not super nutrition focused I like the idea that my lifestyle has some some happy side effects.
After all that babble, a little bit of lazy vegan non-cooking. I made this last night. It was after 1am with an alarm threatening to go off at 6am and I was hungry. I wanted convenience and yumminess and little else. I figured out a good compromise I think and it gives me a chance to talk some smack about food, right?:
2 slices of bread (I used wheat bread)
Veganaise (you can use whatever if you don’t have it on hand)
Some spicy mustard (yellow will also work if you’re totally lame)
Vegan Cheese (I use the Galaxy slices because they’re fucking awesome)
A tablespoon or so of Milled Flax Seeds (basically a flavorless powder that yields lots of Omega oils)
Hummus (I just used some generic store brand plain hummus)
3 or 4 small slices Leftover fried tofu (I had this around from an earlier meal that my wife cooked so this was another bonus ingredient that required no extra work — what you don’t have a big pile of leftover fried tofu? Unthinkable)
Sriracha or gtfo
Slap it all together. Sprinkle the milled flax on the mustard’d and Veganaise’d slices of bread and you’ll hardly know it’s there. I might have also thrown a very spare sprinkle of nutritional yeast in there as well.
I watched this documentary a few nights ago and was struck by how solemn and gaunt the entire production is. I’m sure that was the intent of the film makers, but it really is more like a video tour of an extended series of factories than anything you’d normally associate with food and/or other things you could imagine yourself wanting to eat.
It’s sort of a given that the portions covering the factory farming of animals are going to be bleak, but the whole thing is depressing as shit and works as intended on me when I start thinking that I should stop eating processed foods entirely.
The part that isn’t important and doesn’t require anti-depressants to consider closely is that these scenes of agri-industrial tedium and despair somewhat demystify the idea of industrial food production and what the slaughter of animals in a production facility actually looks like. The only living things terrified in those parts of the film are the animals being slaughtered. All of the humans working on the slaughter lines look like they’re completely absent from the proceedings which completely makes sense if your job requires that you insure a pile of entrails makes its way into the correct chute a few hundred times a day.
Despite them being an integral part of the machinery of near-automated cruelty and death on a massive scale I cannot help but empathize with the people working these shitty and brutal jobs. What do you eat after a day spent hosing constantly dripping blood from concrete floors? What do animals and people outside your workplace mean to you after you’ve done that daily for year after year? The documentary doesn’t answer those questions or intend to. It just clobbers you with image after image of dead eyed people trying to get through another shift while picking produce at top speed in the hot sun or trying to restrain a screaming, bleeding animal so the production line can remain in motion.
I managed to be neither vegetarian or vegan for a lot of years. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main reason is laziness garnished with a shiny, shiny layer of complete apathy. I can’t narrow my reasons for committing to veganism again to a single influence, event, or something I read or watched. It just kind of dawned on me that I could and should simply go vegan again. The somewhat painful part is that I understood what I was doing the entire time and just failed to give a shit.
The nice part about going vegan again, when you’re 40 years old much less, is that it’s a fuck of a lot easier than it used to be. Leaving the bay area for other parts of the country provoked what I can only call a panic response in me back then. Where am I going to get food and how will I find out what the fuck is in it when I’m in fill in the blank midwestern state and don’t have access to my pile of outdated books and bad zines? This is obviously no longer the case. The interwebs have made damned sure that every hysterical rumor, quasi-public misstep by a corporate bigwig, and all of the rest is readily and perpetually available for everyone in the world to misread, misinterpret, and pass along haphazardly. Yeah, so that part hasn’t changed a whole lot. In the old days there was a bit
Food (especially the delicious convenience kind that I oh so totally love) of the vegan sort is ridiculously available in chain supermarkets and a lot of normal restaurants offer explicitly vegan options on their menus. Eating on the road and out of your familiar surroundings is no longer a game of read the ingredients and hope they aren’t animal derived. The vegan revolution sort of already happened and I wasn’t paying attention for the better part of a decade. That was a mistake that I’m refusing to make any more. I need to make up for a lot of years of sleeping at the wheel. I’m glad others kept moving.