Turkey Billboard from MFA

An animal rights (or at least vegetarian) group has put up a billboard near the small town where butterball turkeys mostly come from.

It sounds like a noble effort, and given that it’s only one billboard on a highway, relatively inexpensive. And seriously, it’s a billboard that is getting national press. Mission accomplished.

As far as AR billboards go, it’s fairly tame. No mention of violence, no chiding that “good” people are doing something the billboard recommends – even with the call to action, no trite sayings about how easy it is to go veg, no bold political statements, no pronouncements about society being evil. In short, the only way to make it less offensive would be to remove the allusion to vegetarianism.

Of course this means that the comments on the story (on websites that I’ve seen) includes complaints like the highly intelligent, open-minded, and incredibly humorous “gobble gobble” to “mind your own business”. Comments on the web are about as insightful and intelligent as comments in a jr high gym class.

MFA’s blog post about the billboard

I’m not sure how many animals are going to be saved by one billboard. Possibly even none before December. Critics might say that it’s futile, that the effort isn’t big enough to matter, and the usual other ideas presented by people who won’t act on them. To quote one of my favorite t-shirts… “Understand the Power of a Single Action”. In other words, a vegetarian doing something is not cause for an existential crisis. If it is, then perhaps you should be a vegetarian yourself. Just a suggestion, wouldn’t want to go overboard with the Big Brother angle. I never can get that balance right – the tension between ‘irrelevant’ and ‘mind your own business’. Frankly, in the minds of detractors of vegetarianism, the two extremes overlap. To those complaining it’s a billboard… it’s still just one billboard. If you can’t handle a vegan stating their viewpoint publicly once, you don’t understand how a democratic society actually works.

Also, the next person who says it’s too hard to got veg for a holiday meal will earn a full ten (10) minutes of silence. I’ve gone to thanksgiving meals in many houses for nearly 20 years as a vegetarian, more than once to a house in the middle of nowhere in which people cooked the same meals every year since birth. Thanksgiving is an awesome time to go vegetarian. If you eat only the veg fare on the average
table, your odds are still high of being stuffed. If there’s not veg fare, it’s likely because somehow puts ham hock or pig snout or cow ears or whatever in the beans. Easy fix: pour can of beans into dish, insert in microwave 5 minutes, salt to taste. There’s one replacement.

Of course, you can’t actually both eat the turkey and be vegetarian at the same time. You have to not eat animal products which you currently like the taste of, like every single other new vegetarian.

As far as the comments on news sites… vegetarians who abstain from eating meat because it comes from animals are technically doing it because of their ethical stance. Anyone who tells a person doing that to mind their own business grossly underestimates the important of the 1st amendment, never mind basic logic. Color me not surprise.

Sunday ~ October 7, 2012 by b

Posted in dining,veg | Comments Off on Turkey Billboard from MFA | blog@goodtofu.org

On Pigs

part of a series exploring the specific harm presented by exploiting particular animals or by particular animal products

Pigs are cool. They’re more intelligent than dogs, for starters.

They also dominate animal agriculture.

Many parts are used for animal products. Not just meat for eating but also fat for lard, soap, fertilizer, testing of animal tissue destruction by firearms in the armed forces, cartilage and other connective tissue for gelatin.

Pigs in domestic agriculture live in crowded barns, with concrete grates for flooring. The grates are there so that their waste can be easily hosed down into the subflooring, where it is then pumped into a pond next to the barn. There’s no soft ground, dirt, or mud within sight. Just pig crap on steel. The barns smell bad enough that when you wear clothing into one, it must be washed several times to no long smell offensive. Pigs naturally live in clean mud, not their feces. They don’t sweat, so the mud is used to cool off. They actually go to great lengths to remain clean.

Most pigs in domestic agriculture receive a steady battery of drugs to plump them up. Unfortunately, many develop joint problems as a result and are effectively crippled. However, when pigs receive injuries on the farm (including broken legs), they do not typically receive treatment. A broken leg or two in the group is common when moving pigs between barns and trucks.

All baby pigs have their tails docked (by a red-hot knife) and molars removed (by pliers) without anesthesia. If their tails are left natural, they will eat each other’s tails when confined in an overcrowded barn. Piglets spend most of their time waiting in highly overcrowded pens.

Mother pigs (sows) spend their lives in a pen small enough that they cannot usually turn around. They occasionally crush a piglet without knowing.

Slaughterhouse conditions for pigs are nightmarish. The production lines of restrained pigs moves so quickly that many are not properly stunned and anesthetized before slaughter. Pigs who survive their intended slaughter don’t receive any sort of mercy killing by slaughterhouse workers. Some live until they reach other parts of the slaughterhouse, like where boiling water is used to remove skin.

So there’s a steady progression of problems that pigs face from birth to slaughter, when raised on farms.

Sunday ~ June 24, 2012 by b

Posted in advocacy,veg | Comments Off on On Pigs | blog@goodtofu.org

on the amendment…

Dear State of North Carolina,

Thank you for your selfless moral guidance this past week at the polls. Guidance to a greater degree than my own mother. It has helped me greatly during the troubling period of my life known as “being engaged”. I didn’t actually need the extra pressure to get married, but I appreciate how that pressure would obviously improve the prospects for a healthy marriage.

Fortunately, I did not need your moral guidance the last time you amended the constitution, providing guidance about interracial marriages. You did repeal that, didn’t you? I should probably double-check. I can only wonder what else needs to be enshrined in the state tax code or traffic laws to help with the citizenry’s ethics.

If my fiancee should need health insurance during the next 6 months or so, I’ll be sure to consider the State’s firm moral guidance when choosing between her health and continuing to live here. I’m sure that you wouldn’t miss that high-tech job leaving for more liberal lands, anyway.

After all, being a 30-something animal advocate, ethical vegan, environmentalist, someone who supports the civil rights of my friends, Southern Baptist at one point (yea verily, I am actually from around here), college-educated person, voter who goes by ethics more frequently than “economics”, hybrid car driver, who chooses jobs based partly on the ethical stances of the company must not have any clue about right & wrong nor a firm grip on reality. Unlike someone who claims to have only straight friends.

I look forward to your next installment of this church pamphlet, wherein you explain what my fiancee and I are allowed to do in our home, which you seem to claim does not exist. I always look forward to a lesson in geriatric morality.

blessings of the state,

Friday ~ May 11, 2012 by b

Posted in poli | Comments Off on on the amendment… | blog@goodtofu.org

Chimps one step closer to full protection

The National Institute of Health has decided that most Chimpanzee research is unnecessary and should be phased out.

The rationale?

From the NIH press release:

However, new methods and technologies developed by the biomedical community have provided alternatives to the use of chimpanzees in several areas of research.

CBS News explains the scope of the new rules:

Collins also announced the NIH temporarily barred new government-funded studies involving chimps as his agency began implementing the new limits. The NIH will also decide whether to phase out about 37 ongoing projects, half of which Collins said probably don’t meet the new standards.

The rule changes only apply to government-funded experiments, not private research. Nonetheless, it’s nice to codify the sentiment that chimpanzee research is generally unethical, even if there are exceptions seen today in practice. I’m not at all sure (yet) about chimp research, but in general animal testing is conducted in the U.S. almost solely because it is required for FDA certification of new drugs. That requirement is generally considered outdated by the scientific community, something added after research is basically complete. Note that places in the world with more stringent rules and bans on animal research also tend to create and certify new drugs years ahead of U.S. schedules.

Some researchers want to use chimps in medical research is because they are like us biologically and mentally. That sounds like a macabre rationale to me. Destroying something or someone doesn’t become more ethical because it’s like an activity most people would label criminally violent.


laxatives in wine?:
“Do consumers need to be told about the substances that go into wine production?” Lee [the Wine Institute’s general counsel] asked. “I’m not sure there’s a lot of useful information in that.”

Winemakers are notorious for failing to disclose enough information for vegetarians to know whether they’re willing to drink a particular wine. Apparently they don’t care whether consumers like it or not.

Wednesday ~ December 7, 2011 by b

Posted in dining,veg | Comments Off on wining | blog@goodtofu.org


“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” — Margaret Mead

I think some may not understand that “vegan” describes the general concept of life without exploitation of animals. Without reliance on animal agriculture. Most vegan groups describe being vegan as attempting to realize an ideal thru practical actions. The idea of compromising to live in the real universe has always been a defining part of being vegan. It’s the reason for the phrase “as far as is possible and practical”, not a technicality.

The word “veganism”denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

That doesn’t mean the end decision is any different, as The Vegan Lightbulb pointed out.

Abolishing animal killing and slavery (known as abolitionism) requires a steady, committed hand. Luckily, that’s how human minds actually like to work, as it lets us form these things called “habits” that we spend the vast majority of our life doing. The process lets humans be both committed to a line of action and on autopilot without thinking “omgwtffbqq must be vegan” 24/7. It lets us do things like drive, get ready in the morning before fully awake, keep pets alive, take medications daily, eat at similar times every day… the list just goes on to describe much of what we do. Basically, we can be vegan because we are human. But frankly, a few weeks of being vegan pretty much means one is a vegan & can treat it as “normal” or habitual.

I know points when I will compromise. I don’t ask if my injections were grown in chicken eggs, or refuse them if tested on animals, or any other medical choice when there is no vegan alternative. Most vegans I’ve met seem to feel very similarly and none have condemned anyone for making use of any medical products. In my mind this is not even compromising, as it’s implied by the definition of “vegan” being those things which are practical. The point is to prove that many, many non-vegan things can be done in a vegan but practical way. The trappings of cults are conspicuously absent.

But what about the leftovers? Not just the family turkey dinner (“don’t make so much next time, then”), but also things like the leather jacket or even hotpants, the shoes, the leather trim and upholstery that people seem to like against their own bodies (ew, that’s just nasty in a bad way), the wool sweaters, the 20-yo coat with “fur” trim that might not be real… the list goes on as long as any evangelical anti-vegan can stand to talk. There’s no list in the mind of a vegan, so it’s not exactly an exercise in how consistently a vegan thinks. A vegan is human, and therefore must be inconsistent at some point. We’re in the habit of eating meat, but it’s a habit and not a requirement. We are not slaves.

It simply blows minds, apparently, to conceive of an ethical systems that intentionally has guidelines with individual interpretations rather than strict rules. The differences are intentional and might stir useful debate, not something to divisively fight over. Just as much as it blows minds that an ethical framework won’t answer other questions & even cooperates with other frameworks (like religion or social politics). Again, this is another source of compromise when it comes to being vegan.

To me, I’ll sacrifice (indirectly) the well-being of another animal when it’s required to avoid permanent harm to another human being. I will not forget my vegan ethics for something that I feel would personally be purely an issue of convenince for me. I will try new vegan products that I don’t need or like, simply to be an authority if anyone asks me about them.

So I came up with a list of “compromises” I make, when most people might think I’m not being the Best Vegan Possible.

always compromise:

  • medical care
  • elections
  • gray (situational):

  • pets (mine aren’t vegan)
  • tobacco
  • refined sugar
  • old non-vegan clothing
  • dyes
  • places I won’t settle (I’ll reliably send these back to the producer):

  • honey
  • basic meals
  • restaurants
  • zoos
  • seafood
  • insects
  • new clothing, even gifts
  • luxury goods
  • upholstery (even rented, where possible)
  • I do have guiding principles that help me to define my preferences and frame situations inside a vegan ethic.

    As for which animals are on & off limits… basically most things in the animal kingdom. I don’t need to split hairs about which are “ok”, so I won’t. Life’s too short to be that complex. In practice that means no products from seafood or insects.

    I’ll always choose vegan when there’s a choice presented as a matter of taste or preference. After seeing videos of sheep shearing and animal slaughter and a billion other instances of animal agriculture in video and in-person, I’m pretty sure that I don’t want non-vegan things. Interestingly, most non-vegans agree with me on this point. The vast majority don’t like being reminded of that agreement.

    I will not sacrifice my immediate, acute health for the sake of a vegan ethic. I am an animal, too. I have a right to self-defense that is above judgment from others who do not fully understand my viewpoint. Only a very few, rare individuals can’t relate and say similarly.

    I will base my choices on reality, not obscure and irrelevant hypothetical situations designed to see what’s vegan… in obscure and irrelevant situations unrelated to meaningful science or ethics. No one really knows if they’d eat an already-dead wild boar if absolutely required to survive on a barren desert island. I’ve never heard of a child beginning to support animal rights because of a zoo, or supported their propaganda. I don’t have a choice between cancer treatments designed from animal tests and those designed from statistical analysis (which is actually scientific). I’ve never pretended to be better. I’m not better. That’s part of the point. I wouldn’t voluntarily face the choice, anyway. But I do voluntarily go to restaurants.

    I accept that any system or even body of rules has limits which require common sense and practical experience above dogma, a point where things break down at the edge. Somehow many anti-vegans find this stance more offensive than making a dish creamier by killing someone smarter than any family pet that they’ve taken care of. Apparently this rationale for killing is acceptable when planned in advance of the animal’s birth.

    Friday ~ October 14, 2011 by b

    Posted in advocacy,veg | Comments Off on compromises | blog@goodtofu.org

    new rule

    You can only call a fetus an “unborn baby” if you seriously call yourself an “undead human”.

    Friday ~ July 29, 2011 by b

    Posted in humor,poli | Comments Off on new rule | blog@goodtofu.org

    ending an era

    The final Space Shuttle mission, sts-135, successfully launched and currently flies above. For me, and perhaps most people younger who cared to notice space exploration, the space shuttle has been the definition of “space shot”. Actually, the vast majority of manned space launches of any sort have been Space Shuttle launches.

    I’ve got mixed feelings. First, the Shuttle is a mix of aging (read: tested) and cutting edge (read: we just figured out how to the make the tools required) technologies. But at the end of the day, the Shuttle is no safer, statistically, than Apollo. About 2% of the launches end in catastrophic failure, and about 4% of the astronauts who suit up die as a result. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Shuttle was put on NASA’s plate during the Nixon administration, that it was allegedly “designed by committee” (read: the engineers sucked at basic tact and barely got along), that the fraction of parts thrown away each launch would label any airplane as “more disposable than a paper airplane”, and that it’s been described as being a flying u-haul even after considering the aerodynamics. Actually the phrase “flying brick” is more often used when describing its aerodynamics.

    Yet even with all of its drawbacks, it was a flying success. The sheer volume of launches was astounding, even if ratcheted far, far down from original expectations. The science it carried out convinced many people (including hardened astronomers) that manned space exploration offers advantages unlike anything else.

    And for more than a few young space geeks, the spaceshuttle program symbolized hope that shomehowhumankind is going to survive for a while… perhaps long enough to make it off this rock while we still have a chance. A chance to watch a big machine propel itself off the very planet at a deafening volume while creating an incredible amount of steam.

    We all know the score. Being a test pilot is usually considered one of the most 10 dangerous professions anytime some group decides to list them based on some criteria. All astronauts are test pilots, handling things like flying themselves to the launch site as just part of the package.

    Of course, our astronauts are all out of a job, so they’ll be going back to being engineers or piloting next decade’s war planes or whatever.

    Monday ~ July 11, 2011 by b

    Posted in General | Comments Off on ending an era | blog@goodtofu.org

    tornado alleyway

    Recently my home dodged a tornado by perhaps 100-200 ft.

    I wasn’t home at the time, so I didn’t see the twister. I came back later that day, early enough to see some of the damage in my neighborhood, but late enough that I did some work clearing the front yard after dark.

    I grew up in a town that sees hurricanes blow through every few years. I’ve walked outside in the calm after a hurricane to see half the trees on my street down, smashing plenty of cars and houses along their way. Trees are very heavy and moving fast when they collide with things. You could hit one with a truck and it wouldn’t topple over. On one instance, I saw a tree bisecting a volvo, with the underside resting on the asphalt. Hurricanes spawn tornadoes. Most of the storm was below the threshold for a minor hurricane, some shingles and things that could be caught in unusually strong gusts.

    When driving home, I passed what used to be a trailer park. Instead of trailers, there was a group of emergency services vehicles with lights on. In case it’s not obvious, never stay in a trailer or car during a tornado warning. Never. Lying face down in a ditch is far safer.

    Tornadoes have unusual damage. This time, the top of one tree was sheared off just higher than the level of nearby (intact) telephone poles. A tree 30 ft away was missing one side of its top, and the other was fine. The branches weren’t all broken in the same direction. A house down the street had damage like a missing chimney, and the trees in that side of that yard were blown down in several directions. A telephone pole was pointed almost directly at the side of the house with the outline of a chimney, as if the wind had changed 180 degrees in a few feet. At a nearby construction site, sheet metal was bent around the metal frame like saran wrap and twistie-ties. A tornado is like a blender inside-out, with a debris field as blades.

    This storm system was barely starting as I left on an hour-long drive south. Within 2 hours it was half-over.

    Thursday ~ April 28, 2011 by b

    Posted in General | Comments Off on tornado alleyway | blog@goodtofu.org


    From time to time, vegans decide that they’re going to pick back up the habit of eating meat. While I don’t condone or personally understand the reason, I understand that someone else has them. Trust me, I’ve heard a lot of them.

    So, yeah I used to be vegetarian, too. I was pescetarian during parts of the earlier veg years. I used to be laco-ovo.

    I used to be a meat eater.

    There. Now I’ve done it. I’ve thrown the gauntlet down. Like the vast majority of veggies, I used to habitually eat meat and then I stopped as a conscious decision. It’s amazingly like saying I used to smoke, especially if one is southern. Yet if I stand outside with friends having a cigarette, it would be bizarre to hear someone say they used to be an ex-smoker… and then try to give logical, rational arguments for sucking down cigarettes every few hours again.

    Thursday ~ April 7, 2011 by b

    Posted in veg | Comments Off on veganwasm | blog@goodtofu.org

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