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Saturday, February 05, 2011

The problem

'In a perfect world' is often heard around here, where I am; perhaps, where you are, that phrase is also heard. Surely, we'd be literary characters in Candide if we believed our world to be 'perfect'; even many of those who claim to believe in Intelligent Design talk about a tragic flawing that occurred at some point.

Given that we PROFESS to be ethical in regard to animals, there is something about the claim that rings false when we're SO unfair in our application of that regard, based upon any animals' vulnerability to the mortal designs of converting their bodies into meat for meat-eaters.

Sociologically, I find quite interesting - distractingly interesting, - the earnest desire to walk around the moral difficulty of affirming OUR place in this tragic scheme of things while at the saem time claiming that all humans can be vegan, safely, albeit for ethical reasons.

If there's an ethical mandate to be vegan, which we can safely do, with a little forethought, support, discipline, and that ethical mandate has to do with the 'at risk' status of nonhumans who are often killed for their muscle tissues, is there any moral mandate for us to kill those animals to feed OTHER TYPES of beings who may have different physiologies (than ours) which require certain amino acids found NATURALLY only in animal tissues?

I see NO moral obligation for humans to accept that kind of role; it seems like the worst hybris to claim it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Are we 'obligate carnivores' (or 'obligate herbivores')?

Years ago, when I (started and) ran the Boston Vegetarian Society, I invited comparative anatomist, Dr. John McArdle, then Scientific Director of NEAVS, later Scientific Director of the Humane Society of the United States, to speak on the anatomical argument for vegetarianism.

Dr. McArdle was then a lacto-vegetarian for ethical reasons.

Dr. McArdle's conclusion, after walking us through the anatomical argument for vegetarianism, was that the idea is faulty for a variety of reasons (which he listed!).

So, for specific reasons, he rejected the argument IN FAVOR OF ethical arguments for vegetarianism. Ethicists like to consider the relative legitimacy of each of the arguments offered against or in favor of a point of view or course of action, and if outcomes (vegetarian practice) are to be sanctified (as consequentialists/utilitarians wish to do), then due diligence (prudential reason) brings us to seriously and systematically consider whether or not there is utility in arguments that only a few believe (e.g. how many go vegan because of 2-3 naked 20-something coeds on vegan diets, whatever their motivations?).

I want to cite a great Israeli philosopher, Dr. Nir Eyal of Harvard:

"For the consequentialist, consequences are everything - EVERYTHING!" Consequences (of a course of action/s) is the same as results or outcomes.

So, one MIGHT say that questionable arguments (or even good arguments) are 'good' (according to the consequentialists) to the extent that they effectively motivate thinking folks who consider them towards the desired or desirable actions or course/s of action. By this account, one COULD argue that faulty arguments are 'bad' or undesirable to the extent that they yield undesirable results (in motivating behaviors). Of course, should behaviors be decided on the basis of ethical arguments? What is the status of ethical arguments.

Dr. Randall Collura (PhD, Biological Anthropology, Harvard, 2006), a lifelong vegetarian (now a vegan) ALSO gives a talk on this topic and reaches conclusions like that of Dr. McArdle, that the anatomical argument for vegetarianism is invalid because it's (a) logically faulty AND (b) is contradicted by the facts (which likely were NOT evident to those who developed the argument, when it was developed). It may seem persuasive to some, but it fails falsification tests. Remember that the anatomical argument for vegetarianism is NOT an ethical argument; it is purportedly a descriptive claim about the propriety of the feasibility of nourishing ourselves on botanical foods ONLY.

The more widely held view today is (a) that we humans are omnivorous BUT (b) that we are NOT 'obligate carnivores'. We do not NEED to eat meat to survive or thrive, but we are ABLE to derive nutrients from all manner of soft tissues - from animals or from plants.

Ecorazzi - 2 February 2011 - Celebrity GreenWatch

Ecorazzi Weekly
Besides The Oil Spill
PETA's Sexy Veggies
PETA Super Bowl
Will Their Second Ad Attempt Get Rejected?
Profits To Charity
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Avatar Sequel to Benefit Green Charities
Oprah Vegan ChallengeOprah's Vegan Challenge: Everything You Need To Try It

Oprah's "Vegan Challenge" special aired yesterday- and we're happy to say that it offered a very positive and inspirational look at what going vegan can do for people. Author Kathy Freston did an admirable job helping to advise the 378 Harpo staffers that signed up for the seven-day experiment (300 ultimately made it to the end) and it's wonderful to see so many considering making similar changes to their lives.

Read the full story on Ecorazzi.
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Top Ten Vegan Super Bowl Recipes

The Big Game is coming up, and some of you out there might already be scrambling for recipe ideas. Pleasing everyone food-wise on game day is hard enough as it is, but when you're aiming to cook vegan... well, it can be downright daunting. But don't you worry your eco-minded head, because we have a list of ten vegan football-food recipes that will have you doing your own touchdown dance.

  1. Vegetarian Mini Meatballs
  2. Buffalo Tofu
  3. Chips and Guacamole
  4. Vegan Cupcakes
  5. Sweet Potato Fries

Click to see the other 5 dishes and get recipes on Ecorazzi.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

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"Walk Like An Egyptian": A Playlist For "A Moment of Promise"

Here's hoping President Obama's words today that, "This moments of volatility" must become "a moment of promise" actually comes to pass. In the meantime, here are some promising songs for a very volatile moment in world history. And here's hoping everyone in Egypt can read The Huffington Post -- or anything else they want to read-- very soon.

"Walk Like A Egyptian" - The Bangles

"There's A Riot Goin' On" - Sly & The Family Stone

"A Change Is Gonna Come" - Sam Cooke

"Changing Of The Guard" - Bob Dylan

"Wild In The Streets" - Garland Jefferys

"Get Up, Stand Up" - Bob Marley & The Wailers

"You Haven't Done Nothing" - Stevie Wonder

"Respect" - Aretha Franklin

"Riot" - Miles Davis

"Riot Gear" - Regina Spektor

"Little Egypt" - The Coasters

"Simple Song Of Freedom" - Bobby Darin

"Fortunate Son" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" - John Legend & The Roots

"Ordinary People" - Neil Young

"For What It's Worth" - Buffalo Springfield

"I Predict A Riot" - Kaiser Chiefs

"Killing In The Name" - Rage Against The Machine

"Wake Up Everybody" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes


Now wake up, and please add your own songs for Egypt.

"Walk Like An Egyptian": A Playlist For "A Moment of Promise"

Here's hoping President Obama's words today that, "This moments of volatility" must become "a moment of promise" actually comes to pass. In the meantime, here are some promising songs for a very volatile moment in world history. And here's hoping everyone in Egypt can read The Huffington Post -- or anything else they want to read-- very soon.

"Walk Like A Egyptian" - The Bangles

"There's A Riot Goin' On" - Sly & The Family Stone

"A Change Is Gonna Come" - Sam Cooke

"Changing Of The Guard" - Bob Dylan

"Wild In The Streets" - Garland Jefferys

"Get Up, Stand Up" - Bob Marley & The Wailers

"You Haven't Done Nothing" - Stevie Wonder

"Respect" - Aretha Franklin

"Riot" - Miles Davis

"Riot Gear" - Regina Spektor

"Little Egypt" - The Coasters

"Simple Song Of Freedom" - Bobby Darin

"Fortunate Son" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" - John Legend & The Roots

"Ordinary People" - Neil Young

"For What It's Worth" - Buffalo Springfield

"I Predict A Riot" - Kaiser Chiefs

"Killing In The Name" - Rage Against The Machine

"Wake Up Everybody" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes


Now wake up, and please add your own songs for Egypt.

"Walk Like An Egyptian": A Playlist For "A Moment of Promise"

Here's hoping President Obama's words today that, "This moments of volatility" must become "a moment of promise" actually comes to pass. In the meantime, here are some promising songs for a very volatile moment in world history. And here's hoping everyone in Egypt can read The Huffington Post -- or anything else they want to read-- very soon.

"Walk Like A Egyptian" - The Bangles

"There's A Riot Goin' On" - Sly & The Family Stone

"A Change Is Gonna Come" - Sam Cooke

"Changing Of The Guard" - Bob Dylan

"Wild In The Streets" - Garland Jefferys

"Get Up, Stand Up" - Bob Marley & The Wailers

"You Haven't Done Nothing" - Stevie Wonder

"Respect" - Aretha Franklin

"Riot" - Miles Davis

"Riot Gear" - Regina Spektor

"Little Egypt" - The Coasters

"Simple Song Of Freedom" - Bobby Darin

"Fortunate Son" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" - John Legend & The Roots

"Ordinary People" - Neil Young

"For What It's Worth" - Buffalo Springfield

"I Predict A Riot" - Kaiser Chiefs

"Killing In The Name" - Rage Against The Machine

"Wake Up Everybody" - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes


Now wake up, and please add your own songs for Egypt.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Release of New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Breaking Medical News
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Release of New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans devote more attention to vegetarian and vegan diets than any previous version of the Guidelines. The new Guidelines devote two full pages to vegetarian and vegan nutrition and point out that these eating patterns provide nutritional advantages and reduce obesity, heart disease, and overall mortality.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010. Available at: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm. Accessed January 31, 2011.


For information about nutrition and health, please visit www.pcrm.org/.

Breaking Medical News is a service of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,
5100 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20016.