The Paradox of Backyard Hens

James McWilliams on some problems with keeping backyard chickens.

For those without the fortitude to self-slaughter, keeping older hens as companion animals is also an option. This choice, too, has a downside–one that applies to the chickens while they’re laying as well. Backyard chickens are like fish in a barrel for predators. As a quick perusal of any on-line forum for chicken keepers will attest, chickens frequently fall prey to dogs, hawks, skunks, coyotes, foxes, and, notoriously, raccoons. Owners often declare themselves completely helpless to protect their birds. Forcing chickens into semi-secure locations and inhibiting their natural survival tactics is in the same vein as a hunter loading a feeder with corn and sitting above it in a deer blind. And that’s no way to treat a pet.

UN official urges vegetarian diet to combat climate change

It’s frustrating how often I read “What you can do about global warming”-style articles that don’t mention vegetarianism. So I’m happy that Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is now highlighting meat production’s role in climate change in his speeches.

UN data says that meat production accounts for about 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, topping even transportation, which accounts for 13% of worldwide emissions. The UN included all aspects of meat production, when arriving at the 18% figure: clearing land, creation and transportation of fertilizers, burning fuels in farm vehicles, and the emissions coming directly from cows and sheep.

The Danger of the One-Sided Debate

An anti-vegan op-ed piece in the New York Times has received some fairly righteous debunking in an article by the Times’ Public Editor.

Rachelle Leesen, a clinical nutritionist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told me that Planck’s article “was extremely inflammatory and full of misinformation.” She and her colleague Brenda Waber pointed me to a 2003 paper by the American Dietetic Association, the nation’s largest organization for food and nutrition professionals. After reviewing the current science, the A.D.A., together with the Dietitians of Canada, declared, “Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.”
Via [Taste Better].

Some coats may have fur from dogs

The Humane Society purchased and tested 25 coats from major retailers advertised as “faux fur” and found that all of them had fur from dogs.

Three coats — from Tommy Hilfiger’s Web site ShopTommy.com, Nordstrom.com and a coat from Andrew Marc’s MARC New York line sold on Bluefly.com — contained fur from domesticated dogs. The others had fur from raccoon dogs — a canine species native to Asia — or, in one case, wolves. The single correctly labeled coat was trimmed with coyote fur, but it was advertised as fake.

Going Ape

Another take on the Paleolithic diet.

Ms Garton looked for inspiration to the plant-based diet of our closest relatives, the apes, and devised a three-day rotating menu of fruit, vegetables, nuts and honey. The prescribed menu was:
  • safe to eat raw;
  • met adult human daily nutritional requirements; and
  • provided 2,300 calories – between the 2,000 recommended for women and 2,500 for men,
Volunteers could also drink water. In the second week, standard portions of cooked oily fish were introduced – a nod to a more hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Vegan Dinner

Vegan Dinner has great-looking vegan recipes three times a week.

The reason we chose to begin this website is three-fold.

Firstly, the goal is to try 365 new meals in 365 days.

Second, to encourage people to lead healthier lives by demonstrating how easy it is to prepare one healthy, Vegan meal per day.

Third, to expand our repitoir of meals. We like to experiment and feel that keeping a log of all the things we eat will help us to expand our horizons.

Peter Singer interview

Salon has an interview with Animal Liberation author Peter Singer.

So the argument is that this is also an arbitrary stopping place; it’s also a form of discrimination, which I call “speciesism,” that has parallels with racism. I am not saying it’s identical, but in both cases you have this group that has power over the outsiders, and develops an ideology that says, Those outside our circle don’t matter, and therefore we can make use of them for our own convenience.

That is what we have done, and still do, with other species. They’re effectively things; they’re property that we can own, buy and sell. We use them as is convenient and we keep them in ways that suit us best, producing products we want at the cheapest prices. So my argument is simply that this is wrong, this is not justifiable if we want to defend the idea of human equality against those who have a narrower definition. I don’t think we can say that somehow we, as humans, are the sole repository of all moral value, and that all beings beyond our species don’t matter. I think they do matter, and we need to expand our moral consideration to take that into account.