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There Is No Vegan’s Dilemma

I'm late with my Powell's blog today! Okay, I'm not actually late, but I wrote this whole thing called "Portland: Why Aren't You Vegan?" and it came out really wrong. Here's a snippet:

More specifically: bike riding, canvas bag shopping, water bottle sipping, book reading, farmer's market being, sustainable, shade grown, local, fair trading, Morrissey listening, recycled footwearing, why aren't you vegan? Especially those of you with the Baby Bjorn. Those fabric diapers don't cancel out that free range chicken salad. Don't you want your children's children to have one of those awesome earths that we had when we were growing up?

But my god, that is offensive. And yet, while I have the ear of Portland, I would like to speak about it. Problem is, it's really hard to talk about stuff without coming across as a judgmental asshole. Like when you try to get your parents not to shop at Walmart, or vote for McCain, or be anti-semitic or whatever — it's touchy and delicate. But here I go.

I remember when I first understood the concept of vegetarianism, even if I didn't know the word. I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn. Single mom, brother and sister and me, plus our cats. Obviously we were lower class; although our apartment was spacious, middle-class people weren't exact moving to the projects for the open floor plans and oversized windows. Our dinners consisted mostly of Hamburger Helper, frozen pizza, and take out. One night my mom brought home the ultimate in luxury: a bucket full of fried chicken. I can still kind of taste it, all salty and greasy and comforting. Which makes me think our tastebuds hold on to memory much longer than our brains do.

Well, I got down to the end of my chicken thigh and exposed the bone. There was something gristly on it and that gristle set off a lightbulb in my head. I made the connection: bone = animal. Animal = cat. I realized that this chicken we were eating is the same as that chicken we saw at the petting zoo.I realized that this chicken we were eating is the same as that chicken we saw at the petting zoo. And the horrors kept funneling in: hamburgers were cows, bacon was pigs. I didn't go vegan right then and there, I don't even think I was finished with second grade. But it did spark something in me.

I had a few failed attempts at vegetarianism over the years, but it finally clicked with me in high school and yes, fine, it was the Smiths' Meat is Murder. Nothing subtle about that. It's death for no reason and death for no reason is murder. I know a lot of us tried vegetarianism in high school. In fact, some people think that their two week stint with a veggie burger justifies their meat eating for the rest of their lives. But it stuck for me, I think simply because I kept my eyes and, sob, my heart open and remembered that initial spark. I just couldn't shake the feeling that eating a pig would be no different from eating a dog. Taking a life is pretty serious stuff and you better have a goddam good reason.

It's something like 20 years later and veganism in America is incredibly different in 2009. For one, if the lives of animals don't interest you, we have solid environmentalist reasons for promoting veganism. I like to joke that the end of the world is the best thing that ever happened to animal rights. But the sad truth is, we're eating ourselves into oblivion. There is no such thing as sustainable meat. The methane alone would destroy the environment, free range grass fed or not. And if everyone hunted their own meat, the animals would be gone before you could say "carrying capacity." But 20 years ago people wouldn't have even pretended to care about a cow. All the happy meat stuff at least shows that we do care, and if we do, let's cut through the bullshit. There is no vegan's dilemma! Stuff we'd need to work out, sure. Dilemma, no. And if you don't care, well, then I have a "People Eating Tasty Animals" beer hat I'd like to sell you.

Speaking of which, you don't have to be a PETA supporter to be vegan! So before you get scared that you will be forced to to lie naked in the street in shrink wrap, here are a couple of pretty awesome organizations where you can learn more.

Farm Sanctuary
Once you've looked into the eyes of one of these rescued animals, you'll never want to eat a lambchop again.

Compassion Over Killing
They do lots of good stuff, like getting companies and restaurants to go vegan or have more vegan options.

In Defense Of Animals
They have a Portland chapter and do lots of work for all kinds of animals. If dogs and cats ain't your thing, they work to get elephants out of circuses, and stuff like that.

And before the usuals comment, let me beat them to the punch.




÷ ÷ ÷

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is America's most popular vegan chef. The author of several bestselling cookbooks, her work has been featured in countless print and on-line publications. A Brooklyn native, she now lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at The Post-Punk Kitchen.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes...
    New Trade Paper $19.95
  2. Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
    Used Hardcover $21.00
  3. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:...
    Used Trade Paper $10.50

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the author of Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For -- From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes

81 Responses to "There Is No Vegan’s Dilemma"

    susie August 14th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Awesome post, Isa. I think a lot of vegetarians/vegans had that similar childhood-lightbulb moment (I did too). It seems a common thread among veg people (at least the ones I know) that they are able to remember their childhood with a kind of clarity in general. Maybe it's the impact of the petting zoo visits, or maybe it's just remembering how seeing an animal in the wild (or even on a farm) could make your day at a young age -- "look, a cow!" -- and recognizing there is something tender and valuable in every life, of any animal, not just a human.

    Mandy August 14th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Right on! Becoming vegan was the best thing I ever did, seriously.

    Carrie August 14th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    You're my idol :]

    manwith7talents August 14th, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Fine, I'll be a vegan. Just don't make me listen to Morrissey!

    tofuatomic August 14th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    It's very hard to balance writing how you feel and being a preachy F'er. Anytime I write truly from the heart I usually delete in fear of ridicule. Good job, I respect everything you are doing. As fun as it is to shout at people from the oblivion that is the interweb, you really won't change anything. Engaging conversation is our only tool in building a compassionate society. Again, well done. And a big thanks for being first cookbook I got that fueled my veganism(VCCRTW). Thank you!

    wannabeavegan August 14th, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    AND this is why you are the vegan goddess!

    kim g. August 14th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    So well said. I'm happy you're in the world writing things like this and creating such amazing vegan recipes for us to enjoy!

    Stella August 14th, 2009 at 2:03 pm


    Pithy, pitch-perfect post.

    Thank you for everything you've done and continue to do.

    Martha August 14th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Ok vegans. You've made your case. Now will someone please, PLEASE tell me what we do with the millions of dairy cows? (Not to mention the beef breeds.) I'm dying to know. If their methane is slowly poisoning us, wouldn't the answer be to exterminate the breed? Or should we just set them free to roam, and repopulate the earth. Oh wait. THE METHANE.

    The idea of veganism has yet to evolve to the point where it actually offers a solution to the environmental impacts of omnivorous eating.

    Stella August 14th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Martha, it IS the solution.

    Is this a joke? Seriously, I can't tell.

    Fer Reals August 14th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    if all we eat are herbivores and we stop eating them, won't they eat all the vegetables? then what will vegans eat?

    Martha August 14th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    No, really. WHERE DO ALL THE COWS GO? Do you think they're going to stop reproducing because you stop eating them?

    Kurt August 14th, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I think it's incredibly sweet of vegans to proselytize humans. I hope you are as kind when your mother ships arrive from Alpha Lyrae. We welcome you in peace.

    Isa August 14th, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Martha, cows aren't reproducing on their own accord, they are being force impregnated. If we stop eating cows overnight (which obviously won't happen) then one option would be to let them live out their days in a sanctuary. Bulls and cows can be kept separate. We won't keep breeding them, so their population will dwindle to the point where their methane emissions are not a serious concern.

    For Reals, I'm not sure what your question is? Will wild cows eat all our carrots? I would love to see that day, but I don't think it will happen.

    Stella August 14th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Martha, you do realize that the only reason livestock animals exist is because we bred them into existence, right?

    Morgan August 14th, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Sweet post Isa, you rock. Thanks for being vegan!

    Tiffaney August 14th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Well, Martha, it's pretty simple actually. Cows are a commodity in our capitalistic system - so many exist because of supply and demand. Cattle farmers aren't going to breed more than they can sell. If consumption of meat is decreased (let's be honest, the entire country is not going to go vegan all at once), the supply will also decrease. Fact is, cows in America are not free-roaming/free-mating "happy cows" like the advertisements would have you believe. Most farmers have complete control over the number of cows under their "care". Over population is due to demand in our wealthy country, not horny cows/bulls. In fact, most dairy cows have little to no interaction with bulls. Bull calves are typically taken from their mothers the day they are born and are slaughtered for veal. The cow's milk, then, is taken for human consumption. Insemination is at the will of the farmer.

    Martha August 14th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I understand how the dairy and beef industries work. Which is why I'm baffled by the idea of someone managing, and more importantly, financing, cow sanctuaries. What exactly is the ideal cow population? From what I'm gathering, it sounds like the solution is to let the species go extinct. Hang onto a few for petting zoos. That doesn't sound like animal rights advocacy to me.

    The idea is cute, but not realistic. There are plenty of reasons to be a vegan, which Isa has outlined. The methane argument just isn’t one of them. Or maybe it is, but until there's a realistic solution proposed, it just seems silly to tack it on the list.

    Stella, it doesn't matter how or why these animals came to exist - they do. They're alive now. Millions of them. Are their lives not valuable to you for some reason? What kind of a vegan are you? And PS: They breed on their own too. THEY'RE ANIMALS.

    Chris Emery August 14th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    As a note, if your interested in being vegan and want some help with the transition, Try Vegan PDX is holding Try Vegan Week starting tomorrow August 15th and going through Saturday August 22nd with a vegan prom.

    Information about try vegan week can be found here http://tryveganpdx.com/events/try-vegan-week-2009/ if you would like to sign up for a mentor before hand you can find out how to do so on our support page http://tryveganpdx.com/mentor/ If your interested at all, please come to some of our events, it's going to be a week of talks and fun.

    Oh, and please come to the vegan prom at the end of the week http://tryveganpdx.com/events/u-can-touch-vegan-prom-and-party/ it will be a blast.

    Isa August 14th, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Megan, the methane argument is actually a very valid argument. Please read item #1 in this FAQ from the EPA.


    "In the U.S., cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20% of U.S. methane emissions."

    In this hypothetical vegan overnight world, there would be hypothetical cow sanctuaries, too. Perhaps cows would eventually go extinct, or perhaps there would be a population of wild ones left.

    It does matter why these cows exist if we're trying to figure out how to (hypothetically) best transition to a vegan society, which it seems like Martha was asking.

    Lisa August 14th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    How I struggle, too, with being genuine about my reasons for veganism without offending others. I need to hear ilovecheese one more time like a sharp stick in the eye. Thanks for working so hard to make another great contribution that finds a good balance.

    Martha August 14th, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Fair enough. It just seems to me like it would be easier to advance your cause, and maybe it would be taken more seriously, if your argument didn't include problems that at this point, you only have hypothetical solutions for - which entirely depend on the occurrence of impossible events.

    David Agranoff August 14th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Martha, your wrong. You've been schooled.Let it go.

    Stella August 14th, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Keep making excuses for eating meat. It doesn't reflect on me. I'm not the one who eats cows.

    Alex August 14th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Martha, your question is a good one and one I've thought about as a vegan, but I think Isa's answer was pretty spot on. Without human interference, the population of cows would naturally wane. Give them an area on which to live where they can sustain themselves but could not build up their population beyond a viable number, perhaps externally imposed by their environment (which could be near a forest or barren land), and I think they'd do okay just being another species on the planet.

    Alex August 14th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Also, as a postscript, I kinda took Isa's idea and ran with it there. Don't want to put vegan words in her mouth.

    Joel August 14th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Martha, how can there be anything but hypothetical solutions? It's a problem that hasn't happened yet.

    I really wish I were at my home computer; a few years ago I sat down to run the numbers for someone with exactly the same argument you have. As I recall, as long as global meat consumption declines at something like 10% or less per year, there will be sufficient food for both the remaining cows and the people who would have been eating them. So there's really no reason not to have cow sanctuaries; the resources would exist. Of course, the sanctuaries will only be taking care of the small population that represents the difference between the meat industry's yearly production and the human intake. Longer-term, why shouldn't cows survive in the ecological niche that exists for them? They do pretty well in the scrub lands of e.g. Wyoming, where they're now herded commercially. As production declines, so will their numbers, until declining meat consumption leaves them with a small enough population to much more reasonably fit in available land, with not a huge number living out happy lives in sanctuaries (on birth control, natch).

    If that doesn't work out, it's hard to argue that extinction is any worse for cows than the status quo. In fact it's pretty easy to argue that it's better*. But it's also hard to see why that argument has to be made when there's no evidence beyond the hypothetical that the situation will advance that far.

    * that argument, cribbed from Helen DeWitt: imagine a man set on fire at time t. He burns alive until time t + n, when he dies. Can anyone argue that his life would not have been improved had he killed himself at time t? Now extend to species.

    Vivian August 14th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    "And if everyone hunted their own meat, the animals would be gone before you could say 'carrying capacity'."
    "There is no vegan's dilemma! Stuff we'd need to work out, sure."

    Upon reading your article; I find these couple of statements to be hyperboles at best.

    If everyone was forced to hunt their own meat, people would learn to be vegan post haste. Growing up in rural Oklahoma, I saw my fair share of animals butchered. There is nothing about those memories that make me b line for a burger. I don't think the common person has what it takes to butcher an animal. It's the distance of cling wrapped ammonia sprayed round steaks from a corn-fed cow on styrofoam that keep people in the "ok" with eating meat.

    There is a vegan's dilemma.
    It's called evolution. The Dalai Lama nearly died from his run in with vegetarianism. Tibetans who have taken refuge in Dharamsala have a horrible time with having to butcher their own meat. In Tibet the butcher is the lowest class of employment. The reason this love hate relationship occurs is from evolution. Tibet's food supply consists of yak meat, yak yogurt, yak meat.

    Like the Dali Lama, I was hospitalized after a long-lived stubborn attempt to be a vegetarian. My diet consisted of quinoa, tons of veggies, beans, lentils, etc. Still, I was hospitalized.
    Evolution. It takes time.

    How we are raising meat in this country, (we raise meat, not animals here. I think that is a lot of our problem) is disgusting. Really disgusting and cruel. Then again, people should also look into the way we raise soy and what it is doing to our earth. We have a lot of room to grow on all levels. (Not that you have to eat soy to be a vegan)

    ... I think I am way overdrawn on my 2 cents so I will stop there with my opinions.

    Peter Spendelow August 14th, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Martha,

    I wish we had the problem of what to do with all the dairy cows after people stop eating meat, but the fact is that worldwide, meat consumption is increasing, and in the Amazon, more and more rainforest is being cut down either to create grazing land or to grow the crops to feed cattle. Approximately 1,250 square miles of Amazon rainforest was lost in this manner in just a 5-month period from August to December 2007, and the losses keep piling up. I'm giving a talk on the environmental consequences of our food choices this Wednesday, August 19, at 7 pm at the Central Library in Portland, 801 SW 10th Avenue. You are welcome to come and add your views to the discussion.

    Ana Arch August 14th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Martha, currently all the cows that are bred are killed. Either for beef directly or soon after they are born if they are a male dairy cow (as about 50% of cows are, just like laying chickens which are too spare flesh-wise to be useful for meat at least as far as housing and feeding them to slaughter weight so are ground up alive or dumped in huge dumpsters all over each other suffocated by the bodies of their brothers and occasional misidentified sisters), or a female dairy cow who is sterile (since dairy cows don't produce milk until they have given birth) or if the dairy cow doesn't produce well enough. Off to the bovine death camps.

    These days it's about volume and not quality so Jersey cows have been almost completely replaced with holsteins even though the flavor is much better with the former and it's quite watery from the latter. What happened to all those Jerseys? Well, it's not a pretty thought but it's not about vegans, it's about profit and letting the big eyed ladies live isn't profit. All the girls were school lunch. Replaced by black & whites who themselves will be replaced by their daughters.

    So what is going on is a cow that could live out his or her life to twenty years or more is being slaughtered in days to usually no more than 5 years. Even the organic ones all go to the meat packing company in the end. That's what was in all those boxes that came from the Hallmark/Westland company in California which led to the biggest meat recall in history due to the potential of Mad Cow from the downer cows that were forced into the slaughter line after being pushed by forklifts and waterboarded when they wouldn't/couldn't get up to walk the last steps of their lives.

    See, being a dairy cow ain't a life of Green Acres leisure for the vast majority of the milked. It's a business so those who aren't doing well in the harsh cost conscious world of dairy commodities become cafeteria fodder for our kids to chew on.

    But here's the biggest deal of all. Cows are not natural to America. Cows were brought over from Europe and don't belong in North, Central or South America. Besides all the methane, cows are displacing natural species and more than that their hooves which are different from the natural species are very damaging to the types of soils on this continent which is leading to soil destruction and eventually (though not so eventually since it's actually happening now) to desertification which is a situation where nothing grows, not even veggies or prairie for natural species or cows (or sheep). In South America the forests there which includes the Amazon Rain Forest and the Cerrado (both extremely diverse and not fully explored areas as well as being the lungs for the earth -- that would be converting the oxygen we all breathe) are being decimated not just to range livestock but to grow huge swaths of GMO soy not to feed the small population of vegans but the mass amounts of hogs, chickens, cows and other destined-for-the dinner-plate lives (which is starting to include even farmed salmon and that soy which fish were never meant to eat destroys that Omega 3 thing that gets touted even if the mercury, dioxins and PCBs weren't enough to turn us all off the diminishing pink -- but even the Pacific temperate rain forest used to be nourished and was so healthy from the remains of the spawning salmon which hardly exist anymore).

    We are turning the entire world into one big Easter Island.

    The balance is highly disturbed and continuing to breed animals at the rate of 10 billion deaths each and every year (not including fish & seafood) into infinity just in the US (that's nearly 40 times the population of the entire country) versus a worst case possible one-time cull is still much worse. So maybe the question is, what's going to happen to the dairy cows if everyone doesn't go vegan? They are all going to be killed. They all are killed and have been killed all this time -- yesterday, today and tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade all the dairy cows will be killed if everyone doesn't go vegan.

    So is the answer really to keep breeding them and then killing them?

    tofuatomic August 15th, 2009 at 7:55 am

    It's amazing to be accosted for letting a species numbers dwindle down naturally , while others defend keeping them alive in horrible conditions mind you, just to be killed. Are you arguing for the sake of making an invalid point. Is this the reason keeping from going vegan/veg? Because the cows will die. You are killing the cows. I gladly take care of some cows and pigs at my local sanctuary, if you stop eating them. I guess I just don't understand a word you are saying.

    DeniseB August 15th, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Great post, Isa!! I have your cookbooks and love them. When I take vegan cupcakes to work, no one knows until they say, "YUM!" and I say "VEGAN!"

    As for the flesh-eaters, your journey is yours..mine is mine. I just choose not to recycle a life - with a face, a heart, a soul (yes, I said soul), and a central nervouse system through my body to satisfy a taste I acquired as a child.

    If you seriously want to stop eating flesh but can't bring yourself to do it, watch a little called, "Meet Your Meat" on the PETA website. It stopped me the same day. PETA has made huge strides in making this a kinder world. One person at a time. People say, "How does one person make a difference?" Civil rights, women's suffrage, and homosexual tolerance all started as tiny movements too.

    AND, it goes without saying, but SOYBEANS ROCK!!!

    DeniseB August 15th, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Okay, manwith7talents, no Morrissey but we STILL are not privy to those seven specialties of yours!! Inquiring minds and all....

    DeniseB August 15th, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Homosexual tolerance does not sound right. Gay pride? Separate is not equal? Maybe just increased acceptance. Sorry if that sounds offensive to anyone, I just don't know how to word that correctly.

    Amber August 15th, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Yay vegans!!!!!!!!!!

    Kerry August 15th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    I see the point that veganism is good for the environment. The problem is that it is a cumbersome answer at best. There are a lot more important things we can do to stop global warming NOW and a lot more effective ways to spread the word than try to convince the entire world to forfeit animal husbandry. Which, sad to say, will never happen in our lifetime. Changes need to happen NOW.

    Now moving on, the vegan dilemma, which you have so clearly brought up without mentioning, is the class issue. Sure, people can break out of the dynamic, but it is very difficult to expect a lower class to take up a much more intensive and expensive eating habbit, especially in the city (explain to me why the vegan store run by rich white kids charges 4 dollars for a cupcake...) its not an economically reasonable expectation to have.

    Furthermore, there are a pretty reasonable amount of studies that show that raising a child vegan can lead to severe early childhood health risks.

    I love that people are vegan, and I love vegan food. I think that it is a step in the right direction, but "vegan superiority" has got to end, we have to start fixing the more human problems first and this sort of back-and-forth is not solving the class crisis, the health crisis...nor is it accurate to say that vegan food is naturally going to be humane and fair trade. Lays potato chips are vegan.

    val August 15th, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    going vegan isn't a hypothetical solution to the atrocious problems of the meat and dairy industries. it is a real solution. one doesn't have to have all of the answers to support a cause. that is just plain ignorant. how many injustices do we all fight against when we don't have all of the answers? its still important work. answers and solutions come with time and action, not just sitting around criticizing movements because they don't have all of the answers. i'm vegan because i know that it isn't contributing to many evils in this world, not because i have scientifically proven anything.
    also,just like spay/neuter programs work to end unwanted cats and dogs that end up in shelters, the same could be done for animals that have been bred inhumanely to the extremes and then they could live out there lives in a better way.

    Alexis August 15th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    I really appreciate this post. Lately I've been struggling to articulate why it bothers me so much that meat is the new vegan. Ten years ago all my radical leftist friends were vegan. Then they were freegan--a slippery slope. Now they're into meat big, weird ways, eating "radical meat" & eating parts of animals that most Americans don't usually eat. Like the intestines & kidneys of an animal are somehow different from the ground beef & chicken wings they consciously, deliberately gave up when they were vegan & vegetarian. This is harder for me to comprehend than the typical defensive meat-eater response, because it is rooted in the slow-food idea that our agriculture/food system in this country is wrong, but it shrugs off the responsibility. It's like they're willing to live with a little guilt, because they think they could be doing a whole lot worse by the planet & animals. How do you argue with that?

    English Amy August 16th, 2009 at 1:39 am


    If you're concerned that speaking hypothetically undermines the validity of the argument, perhaps you could be a little more specific as to your exact position.

    Are you saying that you believe that everyone in the world could go vegan overnight, and that as such the currently existing cows will have no place to go? Because if so, we're telling you as vegans - that's not going to happen.

    Our expectation is that over time (your guess at the time span is as good as mine) people will realise the impact of eating animals and gradually move over to a plant based diet. Since farmers respond to the demands of the market, our expectation is that the numbers of cattle bred for sale for meat and dairy will correspondingly reduce. There will be no "glut" of cows needing rehoming.

    Your further point seemed to be that if cattle is no longer bred for consumption, cows would cease to exist - and so therefore it's somehow your duty to carry on eating them to ensure the continuation of their species. The vegan response would be, again, we don't think that's a real likelihood - but we would remind you that not all the animals that exist in the world are bred for consumption. It's hard not to sound facetious in asking whether you're genuinely really, really worried that there will be no cows in the world if you start drinking soy milk. But if you are, don't panic, we're sure that cows as a species would survive, although they probably wouldn't be the biologically engineered varieties on most farms since these varieties cannot reproduce naturally.

    Antonio August 16th, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Animal rights is about the rights of individual animals, not specieses. The case of cows is very peculiar but if they had to disappear from the United States and all other countries where they are enslaved for their milk, flesh and offspring, so be it. They're not from there anyway and I'm sure India would keep the species going.

    Kira August 16th, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Isa, you rock. Thanks.

    DeniseB August 17th, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Kerry - actually, if everyone went vegan overnight, it would immediately help stop global warming. There would not be the demand - rain forests would not have to be deforested, releasing gases into the ozone, to graze sub-par beef that is FLOWN over to the US to serve to our children in school and thrown into boxed/canned foods because it is cheaper. Farmers in the US would ALL be growing plant foods which would lower the price of veggies and all of their related products. Like someone already said, farmers raise animals for food, not pets (well, most of them) Wonder why kids are so big and reach puberty now at such an early age? I am willing to bet it has something to do with all the stimulating hormones given to cows to keep them producing milk way past the time that their babies need it. There are so many, many issues with the consumption of animals, it is too hard to debate via a blog. Gail Eisnitz wrote a book called, "Slaughterhouse" - catchy title, right? If you can get through that book and still eat meat, I would be amazed. I know there are two sides to every arguement but I did a LOT of research and read a LOT of books on the subject and came up with thousands of reasons not to eat meat besides the fact that I love animals.

    DeniseB August 17th, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Okay, Manof7talents - since you clearly are not going to tell us (as we have waited breathlessly) - I will just guess!!

    1) Can bust a move quicker than Brockman can say, "OH SNAP!"
    2) Able to make your belly button move like a mouth (sweet!)
    3) Capable of throwing an impromtu dinner together for friends lickity-split (you are well rounded like that)
    4) You know sign language and can read braille (not just a talent but an incredible skill, you are impressing me now)
    5) Known for your ability to drive with your feet
    6) Ventriloquist (a dying art form but NOT for you)
    7) Last, but not least, able to party like it is 1999!!!

    Am I close?

    manwith7talents August 17th, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Very close, DeniseB.

    1. Can't bust a move, but can move a bust.
    2. Close, but not my bellybutton.
    3. That's 1 of my talents, yes.
    4. I wish.
    5. Close, but not my feet.
    6. Ventriloquism will never die. Wait, who just said that?
    7. You mean it's not 1999? Where am I?

    One of my talents is coming up with awesome monikers, apparently, since I get all sorts of comments about this one.

    DeniseB August 17th, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Now THAT, is an enviable skill set!! Along with that moniker, you're gold!

    FINALLY, I can sleep at night!

    Donovan August 17th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Ok vegans. I'm not even going to touch that absurdity above. Shame on all of you for not having any common sense. Martha, you rock.

    I CHALLENGE any of you to break down and write out how one would actually live in a 100% vegan environment. By that I mean:

    No eating animals.
    No animal products. (there are millions by the way)
    No interference with an ecosystem.
    No animal labor(remember...animal rights)

    If anyone can actually explain how one would live without the use of animals by means of labor, food, or the use of animal products I would really like to be enlightened.

    I mean hell....what kind of paper were your books printed on Isa? Did they come from trees that didn't help sustain an ecosystem?...oh wait ...was it recycled paper?...ever been to a paper plant?

    DeniseB August 18th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Wow, I am sensing some hostility. Must be all the adrenaline you are consuming when you eat flesh from a frightened, slaughtered animal.

    We all do the best we can, that is all anyone can do. If we chose to try, what difference does it make to you, Donovan? The most animal labor going on in this house is when my dogs have to walk up the stairs instead of being carried (they're small or else I would have them mow) Peter Singer states in "Animal Liberation" that if you cannot be a vegan, be a vegetarian. If you can't do that, eat less meat. If you don't give a damn, belly up to your nearest steak joint and have yourself a big ol' hunk of flesh. No one is blocking the door. We chose not to eat animals - what is the problem?

    Donovan August 18th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Ha, you're probably right. If I didn't eat meat I wouldn't be so hostile when faced with righteous propaganda. But I'm actually not posting this at you Denise...I agree with Peter Singer.

    I'm not bothered that you don't eat meat. I'm not bothered that vegans eat broccoli(which has a nervous system by the way). Eat whatcha like.

    I'm hostile towards human beings that live by a set of standards, they believe to be right, and attempt to persuade others to live by those as well. Especially when those attempts include guilt or blame. Save it. I, along with billions of other meat eaters, am perfectly content with what I choose to eat.

    There are other organizations that use the guilt, sin and fear tactics to push their beliefs as well....any takers? "If you died today, would you go to heaven?" Yep, religious pushers. Yeah I said it.

    Not sure what I'll do if a vegan ever comes to my door though. Hopefully I'll be BBQ'ing at the time.

    Here's the short of it. Righteous behavior without the blind, zealous commitment is, in my opinion, without integrity. I can actually respect the crazy ones that do their absolute best, in every way, not to use or partake in any animal/products. Good for them(I mean that). But the half ass, judgmental, condescending, vegans can go to hell with the Mormons. If you're going to be a vegan because you don't want to hurt the animals...your going to live a lie. There is not a plausible way to live without the use of animals in some way shape or form. Not in this society/culture/modern world.

    DeniseB August 18th, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I understand what you are saying because I don't like to have religion, politics, etc of another person shoved in my face (although, I have no problem defending my position if asked.) I have found that trying to change someone's opinion is futile unless it is something they are interested in changing. I never tell anyone about why I don't eat meat unless they ask me. I never show them videos, books, or pamphlets without the warning that it could change them in a way they do not wish to be changed. This particular blog is about veganism (written by the woman who wrote "Vegan With A Vengeance")so reading it, you are, of course, going to be talking to people who are hard-core! Door to door vegans - that would go over about as well as the guys who come up and try to resurface your driveway. I think PETA does great work but I think they can go overboard too. You are right, there are soooo many food products out there made of animal by-products - people have no idea. Even the sugar in Isa's recipes is not completely free of animal products (bone char is used, I believe) unless you use the special sugar. Veganism is a chore - try to find a product that is NOT made by Proctor & Gamble (esp here in Ohio), who test on animals or a bag of popcorn not associated with ConAgra (big GMO pushers). Even some of the soymilk and organic products are made by big companies that do not follow vegan or animal-friendly practice. You can actually buy a tee-shirt that says on the back, "Go around me, I read labels"

    So, in a very long-winded way, I agree with you but reading a vegan blog is like asking a witness "who is Jehovah?" Most of the folks here believe in doing as little harm as possible to animals. If that means reading labels, staying away from certain companies or eating vegan yogurt (YUK), that is what we do. We just have enjoyed Isa's blog this past week and like to hear what she has to say.

    Isa August 18th, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Donovan, if you accidentally hit a cat with your car, do you then go on a rampage and hit every cat you see? Of course not. No one can be perfect but we can do our best. If you can get to a 95% cruelty free life then that is amazing. And if everyone could? That would be even more amazing. It isn't about blame and guilt, it's about making changes that make the world a better place. That's it. Sorry you're so angry.

    Donovan August 18th, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Denise, I like you.....

    I'm not going to continue about the rest.

    Enjoy life and don't feel guilty about what you eat.

    DeniseB August 19th, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Aw, come on, Donovan - don't hate on Isa! She is making the same point as Mr Singer - do what you can. She writes great books and tries to make a difference, that is her life. I am sure she is great, someone you would really like in person and who would not push veganism at you. She had a blog - say what you like for a week. Jeez, I need one of those. Mine would truly get some responses (teeheehee...I am thinking of all the stuff I could say now!)

    My 1st topic: People who drive the speed limit or less in the fast lane on the highway - it's a PASSING lane, folks, not a TRAVEL lane!!

    See, I am sure that pissed off someone!!

    Dayna August 20th, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Kerry - Veganism really isn't more expensive than other ways of eating. A few bags of beans don't cost much more than a burger and fries and you can get many more meals out of them. You don't have to go to an expensive specialty store to buy fresh produce, unless you want fancy stuff.

    DeniseB - There are plenty of bone char free sugars. The most recent discussion of vegan sugar I've seen is here: http://veganbits.com/vegan-sugar/
    And, thankfully, there are also many brands of household and personal items that are vegan and not tested on animals. A couple of years ago, you had to go to Whole Foods or some other specialty store to get Seventh Generation laundry detergent, but now, even Duane Reade sells multiple brands of vegan friendly shampoo, toothpaste, soaps, household cleaners, etc.

    DeniseB August 20th, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Dayna - I said unless you use "special" sugar. I know there are sugars without bone char but you must look for it. I live in the midwest where organic and vegan food is not only expensive but difficult to find. I still try hard to get it though. I know it is out there if I look!!

    michelle August 20th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Taking a life is pretty serious stuff and you better have a goddam good reason

    thank you

    also,using a canvas bag ISNT enough. i love being vegan, it was the best thing i ever did (cept for marry the man of my dreams) but when you stop growing you become a breeding ground for narcissism and foolish pride. i still killed bugs that came inside my house up until last week, i have been vegan for eight years and felt horrible everytime i killed a spider, but i kept doing it. why? i am not god, and i put that bug into a cup and put his harmless butt outside. keep growing, do what you can, dont judge others, always push to do more.

    manwith7talents August 21st, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Wow, 53 comments on a Powell's thread, pretty impressive. This topic always seems to rile people up.

    I'm not a vegan, but I really don't understand the hostility directed towards them.

    I agree with DeniseB about people who drive too slow in the fast lane though. Keep right, slowpokes!

    DeniseB August 21st, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hey, if the talented man driving with his feet passes you, you are going too slow!!

    jinond August 23rd, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    i eat meat. i like meat. i will not stop eating meat.

    i think that one of the reasons there is so much hostility towards vegans is that the vocal proponents hold themselves as morally superior to non vegans, who are "bad" people. i just can't find any reason to call meat immoral. life consumes life. Humans are evolved to eat meat, otherwise we wouldn't. I think to claim all killing is murder is spurious. why do you make a distinction between plant and animal? what about animals that do not have a brain, clams or the like. and a pet peeve of mine is vegans who smoke(both tobacco and weed). i have known quite a few. is it really morally ok to kill a plank to ingest it in a fashion that does not sustain life, while remaining immoral to kill and ingest an animal in such a way as to provide me with nutrients that my body needs? it all seems very illogical to me.

    DeniseB August 24th, 2009 at 9:54 am

    jinond - I like meat too, I have just chosen not to eat it. I miss real cheese and real yogurt but it is my choice not to eat them. That does not make me feel morally superior to anyone, it is something I have chosen to do based on events that came my way and tons of reading. Has anyone asked you to stop eating meat? If they have, did they explain why? I would never dream of asking someone to give up meat unless they asked me WHY they might want to. It is too hard to do if you have no reasoning (that only you have to agree with) behind your actions.

    Oh, BTW, I don't smoke any kind of tobacco.

    jinond August 24th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    "It's death for no reason and death for no reason is murder. I know a lot of us tried vegetarianism in high school. In fact, some people think that their two week stint with a veggie burger justifies their meat eating for the rest of their lives. But it stuck for me, I think simply because I kept my eyes and, sob, my heart open and remembered that initial spark. I just couldn't shake the feeling that eating a pig would be no different from eating a dog. Taking a life is pretty serious stuff and you better have a goddam good reason."

    This is from the article and i think this proves my moral superiority argument. now honestly choose what you like, but food choices do not make you better people.

    Do you smoke Marijuana for non medical purposes? If so how do you justify it?

    Kerry August 24th, 2009 at 4:30 pm


    Sure, it is cheap enough to get a bag of beans, as monotonous as it is, that can work sure. However medically speaking, in order to eat vegan AND have the variation that you need for a good lifestyle AND be able to afford it on a small budget takes a lot of time out of someone's day, and when you are talking about class issues, time is a luxury.

    The class issue is the MAIN problem I have with vegan superiority. It is a privileged position to take, and until vegan-friendly options become more consumer friendly, people are not going to become vegan overnight.


    You proved my point when you said "if everyone went vegan overnight." That is true, if everyone did go vegan overnight we will be fixing a lot of global problems. The issue is, however, nobody is going vegan overnight. Increasing vegan numbers, slowly, still is not going to solve the global warming crisis, which is why I say the "global warming guilt" that is forced from a vegan standpoint is as unfounded as women carrying original sin.

    As far as meat being the new vegan for lefties, this is a GOOD THING. Take a second to understand why this is happening, and what the proposal is.

    We are not going to change the industry until enough people demand it to be changed. Change is not going to come from vegans (sorry) it is going to come from compromise. If we really want to change the horrible factory farm industry, we have to have consumers that desire that change. The movement towards more organic, more local, less hormone-pumped food is helping move the center towards a more sustainable and less cruel environment.

    To really make change you have to compromise and work together, not stand on a pedestal and stone the sinners (especially if that pedestal is, demographically speaking, a bit wealthier than those under it.) Otherwise what you wind up doing is pissing people off and have them react against change.

    ---TRUST ME---

    I have been in the front lines of political activism, I have been arrested, gassed, thrown in detention pens, all in the name of social justice. I am much more effective now as a working member of society that makes a difference.

    DeniseB August 24th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    jinond - why all the talk about pot? I don't smoke ANYTHING!!

    I know things won't change overnight, I don't even usually talk about this unless asked because I think there ARE people out there who judge me just for being a vegan. I had a guy at work come up to me and say - "Aha, you have leather on your shoes!" I didn't but I was amazed that he was watching for me to do something animal unfriendly! I have a few vegan friends and none of us are rolling in dough, believe me..so I am not sure where "a bit wealthier" comes from. As I have said from the beginning..to each person, their own journey. I live in a very conservative part of the country - I don't even know a lot of vegans. This is a meat and potato, dairy farm kinda place. I am the weirdo, not the moral superior.

    Kerry August 25th, 2009 at 2:21 am

    And while I am feeling "superior" may I ask, how many of you have been arrested, tear gassed, and thrown in detention pens for your beliefs? Lets see some hands being raised. I am not talking about people who decided to go on a "two week stint" with showing up to a rally. I am talking about those who have been punished and ostracized from their community.

    Or were the 101,388 Iraqi people dead less important than sticking to veggie burgers. Did I stop that from happening by eating veggie burgers? Did you?

    Sorry. I am now a little drunk, and a little confrontational.

    I love you guys. Did I tell you that?

    Gimme some vegan nachos.

    DeniseB August 25th, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    veggie burgers = war in Iraq

    Jeez...all this time I have been blaming it on Bush...

    Kerry August 25th, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Oh DeniseB, DeniseB, DeniseB...

    I wasn't blaming veggie burgers for the war, I was simply stating how my decision to eat them did not change the course of history. Notice I am not saying whether I am or not vegan here, that is a question that won't be answered because my points are independent of whether I am vegan or just vegetarian.

    BUT, to reconcile for a moment, I don't judge or try to "catch" vegans, I think the movement is great and the individual decision to go in that direction is a good thing, I have never debated that fact, and its definitely annoying that you feel more animosity from the other side.

    Understand though, the reason why there is this animosity towards vegans is because the vegan movement has solidified itself as a generally prejudicial movement.

    And sure, while I was fighting against the IMF and World Bank, I was certainly a more privileged individual than a lot of people that simply don't have the time. I live in New York, so my class issue paradigm is more based on urban poverty. And to put it simply, veganism in America is a predominantly white movement.

    On another topic, overpopulation is an issue when it comes to disrupting eco-systems. I hate the idea of hunting, but most empirical environmentalists recognize it as a useful tactic to maintain ecological cycles. The circle of life (cue lion king)

    DeniseB August 26th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Everything changes the course of history. The vegan/vegetarian movement twenty or thirty years ago was for hippies - something a lot of people would not even think about. Now, they do (at least some do) The environmental issues alone are subject of conversation, not to mention animal advocacy. These were not mainstream just a scant few years ago. It is the collective effort that makes the difference. You most certainly can influence others and if you change one person's mind about the consumption of meat for whatever reason - course changed. What if Dr King decided he was only one man and could not make a difference? Hell, it has only been about half a century since women have been allowed to vote. So, I believe one person can make a difference.

    As for urban sprawl, if people did not have to have 2.5 bathrooms with a study and a media room and a den and...to make for a huge house with so much dead space to heat/cool, maybe WE would not be invading the DEER's (and other animals) territory. To me, it is not so much overpopulation as it is pure greed and keeping up with the Jones's. Hummers, stainless steel appliances, 6 televisions, and marble counter tops are so many people's bare minimum - the very least that they MUST have....oh crap, Kerry, you know I am a righteous, bleeding heart liberal...I can yammer on for days...

    Hangover today??

    Kerry August 26th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    "Cause baby. I'm an anarchist, and you're a spineless liberal..."


    I understand what you are saying DeniseB; Humans are by nature an invasive species, we have terraformed and reconditioned the state of many ecosystems. If it wasn't for us, sure, the earth would be all nice and jolly. But we can't go back and undo our history, and our greed and selfishness is in fact a very testament to our Darwinian survival.

    The funny thing here is, we probably agree on most everything, I just don't think the most efficient and effective way to solve the world's problems is through vegan conversion. And if anything, it tears people on the left apart.

    (just as a funny sidenote, Kerry is my sister's name, I wonder if my boyish writing came across...)

    DeniseB August 26th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Kerry - I agree that veganism is not going to solve our ecosystem problems...just help. But, I am also realistic and do not think that most or even a good portion of the US will ever be vegans. The increased awareness has made it easier to follow - special grocery stores, menu choices, etc. I just do it because what I know disgusts me too much to eat meat and I love animals.

    You are a BOY?

    Kerry August 26th, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    In a very Jerry Springer moment: yes, in fact, I am a man...

    DeniseB August 26th, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Well, I will not even try to one up that!

    Zahbulls Holsteins August 30th, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Why would a dairy producers not strive to be more sustainable? As business poeple it makes no sense.If we poisoned everyone with methane,we would have no consumer!A few of you not eating meat doesn't seem like much of an impact on the environment. Dairy farms across the country have invested millions in methane digesters to assure a more sustainable future.

    It brings me great sadness and disappointment that so many of you think as me and my profession as evil or almost criminal. A good dairyman is on duty 24/7 giving "care" to their cattle, up at 5am done at 9pm back to check on a expecting mother at 1am, hardly seems criminal. Baby calves are taken from their mothers because the longer they are together the higher the mortality rate of the calf.

    Dairy producers love and care for there cattle because they are an investment we need to protect.I will have to say that some producers shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a cow, but assure you they are few and far between. Many of us have grown up in the industry and have a deep love and passion for it.

    Taylor September 2nd, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Isa, you probably aren't reading these comments anymore, but, on the off chance you are, how do you feel about having a chicken or two and eating their eggs? I've been vegan for two years now, and it's something I've been considering. I don't trust cage-free or anything else in the store, and I know that the eggs from 2 chickens wouldn't be a sufficient protein supplement for an entire diet, but it seems to me that it would offset some of the protein that I currently get from soy/almond products, beans etc. that are in all likelihood grown on an unsustainable corporate monoculture farm a thousand miles away. I'd love to hear your thoughts, or anybody else's for that matter.

    Carolyn Blakeney September 3rd, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Wow Isa. Look at what this post wrought. The very fact that it has spawned this much discussion, this much diversity of discussion, and this much power packed emotion, makes me jealous. You have tapped a nerve and the neurons are comin' out. You have stoked a flame! Be proud!

    As a future vegan, there is one comment in the essay I'd like to challenge - "And if everyone hunted their own meat, the animals would be gone before you could say "carrying capacity."

    If every single person who wants to eat meat TRULY had to hunt for their own meat, and had to raise the gun or the knife themselves to snuff out that life to taste the meat, I think meat eating would experience a sharp decline. But most people in the U.S. don't have to do that. The act of slaughter is vigilantly, tirelessly, and ruthlessly kept out of sight, to the point that the slaughter industry will sue at the drop of a hat if its realities are broadcast.

    The insulation of the customer base from the realities of meat production and slaughter is what keeps this industry alive.

    wilson236 September 7th, 2009 at 6:08 pm


    Are any of you farmers?

    We all have a right to live how we want, that said. Livestock does not need man to breed and breed well and often.

    Have you ever had a herd of cows? Have you had that herd of cows come into heat and have the farmer's bull from next door come into your pasture so he can breed? I have had that problem. Nature made them that way -- the only purpose in life is to breed and continue to breed.

    How much methane a year do people produce? Every 10 humans will produce as much methane a year as 1 full grown cow. Are we going to get rid of all the humans?

    And to shed a little light on the subject of what livestock like to eat: they are forced to eat ground corn - they perfer grass forages, cabbage, beets, lettuce, tomatoes, cooked potates, pinapple, cucumbers, melons, and anything else in a garden that we people eat.

    Again, everyone has a choice as to what they do -- but we should trully know the true choices before we start preaching.

    DeniseB September 8th, 2009 at 11:23 am

    What does ANY of that have to do with not eating meat? We should eat it because it is there? Cows reproduce so we should eat them? If that theory is of any use, we should eat our neighbors - those damn ones on the corner that keep having kids! They can probably be ground up to look just like those packages at the grocery store!

    If your cows like to eat all of those things, why don't you feed them that? Because ground up corn is cheaper and you make more profit. I know, you can't afford it and I have no idea what I am talking about because I don't have a herd of cattle in my backyard. What I DO have is video - lots of it - of sick cows, dead cows, petrified cows being hauled off of trucks with come-alongs to their deaths. They are killed in the most disgusting, cruelest way possible - one leg in a clamp, hanging upside down, then they get their throat slit open to bleed to death. Dis PETA all you want but they have uncovered hideous things that I do not care to have any part of. Eating a pig...don't get me started. You know it is out there yet every last farmer you talk to says that THEY would never dream of mistreating their animals. You are raising them to be eaten. Mistreatment. Someone said it earlier and I could not agree more - if people had to kill their own food - what do you think they would do? Pick vegetables or slaughter an animal?

    No, I am not a farmer, but my "true choice" is based on a lot of research that makes me friggin' ill. It doesn't affect you because there are plenty of people who will continue to eat flesh.

    manwith7talents September 8th, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Like I said, I'm not a vegan and not likely to become one, but the whole thing about vegetables having feelings just like animals is just ridiculous. Most fruits and vegetables are seed-bearing parts of plants that evolved specifically to be eaten by animals so the seeds could be spread. There's simply no comparison.

    While some vegans smoke - and I always find this hilarious - it doesn't invalidate their choice to be vegan. The marijuana argument is even more irrelevant, as it's a weed that grows wild in all 50 states. Plus, marijuana is the blessed sacrament of Jah Rastafari, while a pork chop is simply a pork chop.

    DeniseB September 8th, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Well stated Mr Talent (or may I call you 7?)

    manwith7talents September 9th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    You may call me manwith.

    DeniseB September 9th, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Hah! Manwith, you made me laugh! What is the deal with all the talk of pot smoking and vegans? I have never associated the two - is that a Pacific northwestern thing? And, I hate to remind you but you DID say you would become a vegan if you got a "get out of Morrissey-listening" free card....

    whole September 11th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    If we're debating energy efficiency here, for every acre of food grown for us, there are 8 acres across America being grown to feed livestock exclusively. In addition it takes well over 2500 gallons (in the realm of 10000 litres) of water to produce one pound of beef (both stats grabbed from Cornell studies). That same pound of beef is also responsible for the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a car every 80 miles and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt (super bright) light bulb for almost 10 days (not including the styrofoam or cling film).

    I won't even begin to discuss the inefficiency your body will have absorbing the nutrients of that same pound of beef (in the realm of 1-8% efficiency at most, dependant on quantity eaten and eater's health and body pH) or this pound of beef's effects on your hormones, decrease in your body's pH and rise in your cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

    Meat may be murder, but it's also suicide.

    Ally G. January 19th, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Well said! Let the f$#*&rs keep eating their precious meat. They'll be dead around 50, if not earlier. Hehe. Enjoy the heart attack, ya damn fools...

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