Archive: February 2011

"PETA is about as feminist as it gets."

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Over the weekend, PETA’s Bruce Friedrich was the featured guest on ARZone’s weekly live guest chat. (You can find a full chat transcript here.) While the primary focus was on veganism and welfare reforms, a few participants dared question PETA’s feminist cred – specifically vis à vis its sexual objectification of women – with, ahem, interesting results. Case in point: Friedrich’s assertion that “PETA is about as feminist as it gets.”

My initial instinct, of course, was to pen a 10,000 word, line-by-line rebuttal of Friedrich’s statements, but just the thought damn near gave me an aneurysm. So not worth the stress! Instead, I decided to pop the vegan maraschino cherry on my Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo card.

The game? It’s on like Donkey Kong, bitches!*

Bingo Card (Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo 1) - Bruce Friedrich's AR Zone chat

Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo: Bruce Friedrich/ARZone Live Chat ed.
FYI: A plain-text version of this card, complete with links to refutations and debunkings, is available here.
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SO CLOSE! We were SO CLOSE to scoring a big fat sexist bingo! Next time, maybe. Probably. Most definitely.

Anyway, let’s take a look at of some of the “feminist” nuggets Friedrich dropped during the chat. The “hits” are labeled with the appropriate square; the non-hits, to be incorporated into v.2!

Square B-1: “Sex sells.”

Regarding our use of sex in our campaigns:

[...]

2) Sex sells and isn’t offensive to most people. That’s the super-brief reply to that question.

Oh, the old “sex sells” cliché! Such a classic, that one.

99.9% of the time, when people say that “sex sells,” what they really mean is that women’s sexualized, dehumanized, objectified, dismembered, and all-around pornified bodies sell. Or, put more succinctly: “sexism sells.”

Speaking of GQ magazine’s recent Glee spread, Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency breaks down the difference between “erotic or sexual images, stories, and video of people engaging in healthy sexual lives and experiences” and “the patriarchal objectification and sexualization of womens’ bodies.” (Transcript here.)

The images in which PETA trades don’t commonly involve healthy depictions of female agency and sexuality, but rather women posed and performing for the male gaze; usually invisible or implied, but sometimes – as with PETA’s 2011 soft-core porno/Super Bowl ad, which is discussed in more detail later on in the chat – fully present, leering, sneering and degrading. Almost all of PETA’s naked women ads are suggestive of mainstream pornography, what with their emphasis on thin, white, conventionally attractive models, bent and contorted into submissive postures, vulnerable, vacant, and ready for a good fuckin’. Bonus points for faux lesbianism for het male enjoyment!

(More below the fold…)

VEGAN TWINKIES! (and a Twinkie Kit Review)

Friday, February 25th, 2011

2011-02-15 - Twinkies! - 0004\

Holy guacamole, I did it! I totally made Vegan Twinkies®! And so can you – just follow this recipe from Shmooed Food! It’s easy, yo! And delicious. Soooooo delicious….

All you need is a canoe pan (also useful for making vegan corn dogs!) and icing injector. Hostess packages these together as a Twinkie set, but you can find generic versions online as well. (More on that later.)

For the especially frugal among us, a few regular ol’ cupcake pans and a pastry bag set works just as well. In fact, the recipe actually makes 16 Twinkies – but since I only own one eight-cavity canoe pan, I ended up making a dozen+ cupcakes too.

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Tip: for extra creamy goodness, inject the cream into your Twinkie horizontally (side to side) vs. vertically (bottom up). Ram a chopstick completely through the Twinkie before injecting the cream; this will allow for maximum fill. Sideways (at three points) is easier than lengthwise, especially if you’re working with a blunt instrument. If yer doin’ it rite, you should be able to see the top of the Twinkie puff up with cream. If you’re especially lucky, some cream will even make it all the way through and spurt out the other side. It’s like a volcano of yum, y’all!

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Also, whereas the recipe for Fluffy White Cupcakes says that you should fill each cupcake cavity just 1/4 full with batter, this makes for a rather flat cupcake. I recommend upping it to 1/2 full, since a taller cupcake means more room for cream! Plus, it’s next-to-impossible to punch holes through an inch-high cupcake without causing a crumbly mess. Truuuust me.

Of course, you can add a dollop of cream on top, too: replicate the iconic Twinkie swirl, smother it like a true cupcake, paint it with a smiley face – whatever your heart desires. Just make an extra batch of cream so that you have enough, kay? (Methinks the leftovers would taste delish in an ice cream recipe – but then I think the same of all my leftovers!)

In case you’re wondering how much I adore my Twinkie set, here’s the review I posted on Amazon. If you find that it’s helpful, hop on over to Amazon and say so. Please and thank you!

(More below the fold…)

Privileged White Vegetarian Bingo: Loud, Clueless & Proud

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Some of you may recall the animal rights bingo cards I made last year, namely: Defensive Omnivore Bingo II (inspired by Brian VanderVeen’s Defensive Omnivore Bingo, of course!), as well as the vegan-feminist Speciesist Feminist Bingo and Anti-Feminist Vegetarian Bingo cards. (No? Well, here they are!) Around the same time, I started working on a card dealing with racism and classism in the animal advocacy movement: Privileged White Vegetarian Bingo. A year later, give or take, and I finally filled in the few remaining squares!

Unlike the other cards, I feel as though PWV Bingo requires more of an introduction – but every time I sit down and put fingers to keys, the words that appear on my computer screen seem trite, inadequate and lacking in eloquence. So rather than keep struggling along, instead I invite you to read this FAQ by Tim Wise, as well as “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack,” by Peggy McIntosh – the first few paragraphs of which I’ve excerpted below:

Through the work to bring materials from Women’s Studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are over-privileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to improve women’s status, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men’s. Denials which amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages which men gain from women’s disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened or ended.

Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of white privilege which was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless backpack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.

For me, filling in the 24 squares of the PWV Bingo card was an exercise similar to that performed by McIntosh – that is, recognizing the many ways in which my racial and ethnic makeup help me navigate the world of veganism and animal advocacy, unhindered and unmolested. Whereas – as a woman lacking in gender privilege – I was able to complete the two feminist-themed cards with relative ease, it took me – as a vegan benefiting from race and class privilege – months to finish the PWV Bingo card. In short, it’s much easier for me to identify sexism, misogyny and anti-feminism, since I’m marginalized by them; harder still to identify racism and classism (particularly less overt examples of each), since I’ve been taught to take white privilege for granted – to see right through it, as though it doesn’t even exist. An eye-opening task, and one I highly recommend – no matter the privilege in question: race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, gender identity, nationality, dis/ability…species, even. No, not even – especially.

Additionally, I should note that while I use the terms “racism” and “classism” in conjunction, this isn’t to suggest that they’re interchangeable. Related, yes – inasmuch as people of color are disproportionately represented among the poor and working-class, and a number of variables, structural and otherwise, work to perpetuate the status quo – but not the same. However, rather than make a card each for racism and classism, I decided to combine the two in one for simplicity’s sake. All forms of oppression are intertwined, and sometimes it can be next-to-impossible to separate all the tangled threads.

Also, I almost named this card “Cluelessly Privileged White Vegetarian Bingo” – since recognizing one’s privilege doesn’t automagically dispense with it – but decided against it, seeing as “Privileged White Vegetarian Bingo” is already quite the mouthful. I specifically chose not to call it “Racist Vegetarian Bingo,” as labeling one a “racist” tends to shut down civil, productive discourse in a way that “speciesist” (and even, to some extent, “sexist”) does not. Plus, racism isn’t an either/or proposition; as Wise explains, we’re all socialized and/or programmed to be racist – to think in terms of in group/out group membership – to some degree. The challenge, whether you choose to accept it, lies in using our oversized primate brains to overcome these outdated, retrogressive, lazy ways of thinking.

As with the previous cards, I’ve included a plain-text version of PWV Bingo after the jump. At the time of this writing, most of the squares contain links to refutations and debunkings; for those that don’t, I plan on either finding an appropriate response or writing my own in the (hopefully near) future – so check back often!*

In addition to the articles by Wise and McIntosh, I also highly recommend that you check out the resources linked to in the plain-text version of the card. Vegans of Color, The Vegan Ideal, The Food Empowerment Project, The Sistah Vegan Project, L.O.V.E. – all have been instrumental in challenging and shaping my views on race and class privilege (etc.), particularly in relation to the animal advocacy movement. Many of the squares were directly inspired by things read and seen on the pages of these blogs and websites.

Of course, PWV Bingo is equally applicable to vegans as well as vegetarians. Sad but true, people. Sad but true.

Privileged White Vegetarian Bingo

(More below the fold…)

2011 Brazil Mudslides: Animal Rescue & Vegan Relief Resources

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Last updated on 3/14/11 @ 2:00 PM CDT.

Região Serrana 05 fevereiro 2011

Care for animals brought in by residents. © WSPA Brasil

Partnership between WSPA and UNIFESO mobilizes people to treat animals in the mountainous region: A stand of veterinary care will open this Saturday 05/02, to meet animals, victims of floods which have battered the mountainous region. Read more…
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Between the brush fires and flooding in Australia and the flash floods and landslides in Brazil, the world has seen at least several large-scale “natural” disasters in recent months – though consumers of mainstream media may be none the wiser. As with the 2010 floods in Pakistan, these emergencies have received little coverage (at least in the United States), including from animal advocacy corners.

Perhaps it’s due to “compassion fatigue” in the wake of the earthquakes in Haiti, which sparked an outpouring of support. (If not structural, but still.) I’d like to believe that, as far as fellow animal advocates are concerned, the silence is attributable to a simple lack of news to report. At least, this has been the case ’round these parts; aside from the stray plea for donations, I haven’t seen much in response to more recent disaster situations.

When I received Kinship Circle’s latest newsletter, reporting that it – in partnership with IDA – was on the ground in Brazil, providing disaster relief to the nonhuman victims of the floods and mudslides, I figured it was high time to write about the relief efforts currently underway in Brazil. Though I spent much of the morning combing through the websites of well-known animal welfare groups – including many of those that responded to previous disasters – I was only able to find a few that are currently providing aid in Brazil.

The most pressing need, of course, is for monetary donations. Please give what you can. Long-term, volunteers – bodies on the ground – are essential to providing emergency assistance as well. To this end, please also consider getting involved with an animal advocacy group that specializes in disaster response. If you live in the U.S., Kinship Circle is a good start; check out its Disaster Responder Volunteer Form for more info.

In you know of any other resources, please share! You can either email me at easyvegan [at] gmail.com, or leave in it the comments section, and I’ll tackle it it asap. Please and thank you.

Also, I’d like to remind y’all that I continue to update previous disaster hubs periodically, as new information becomes available. These include: the 2010 Pakistan Floods; the 2010 BP Oil Spill; the 2010 Earthquake in Chile; and the 2010 Earthquakes in Haiti. Additionally, I still maintain a disaster relief archive – dating back to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – over at my old blog, Smite Me! (See: Disaster Relief.) All relevant newsletters are crossposted there as well.

 

Brazil-flood-Rio-2011-01-20

Aerial view of damages in Poco Fundo, an isolated area in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan. 18, 2011. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)
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1. Animal Rescue & Vegan Relief at a Glance

Here’s a quick roundup of the animal welfare, animal rights, and vegan groups that are either 1) directly assisting with animal rescue efforts in Brazil or 2) collecting and distributing funds to those that providing aid in the region. Please note that some of these groups may focus on “saving” farmed and working animals so that they can be further exploited in the future – and let your own ethics guide you in your decision to donate.

  • Kinship Circle and In Defense of Animals (IDA), two animal advocacy groups based in the United States, are working together to provide

    search and rescue services, veterinary treatment, including spaying and neutering, and other needed assistance. The goal, as in the aftermath of the 2010 Chile earthquake and tsunami, is to work within the structure of Brazilian agencies and bring together human, technical, and material resources.

    Both groups are experienced in disaster response and animal rescue efforts, with Kinship Circle in particular focusing disaster relief as a core mission. Kinship Circle and IDA deployed volunteers to Brazil in the weeks following the flash floods and mudslides. You can follow their progress on Kinship Circle’s website, with a special page dedicated to the campaign here: Brazil Floods & Mudslides – Field Notes. (IDA maintains an Animals in Disasters blog, but it hasn’t been updated since November ’10.) Both groups have a special nonhuman disaster relief fund to which you can donate: Kinship Circle (select “ANIMAL DISASTER AID FUND”) and IDA.

  • With an already-established presence in the region, Sociedade Mundial de Proteção Animal / World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Brazil is engaging in direct, on-the-ground disaster relief. On its Animals in Disasters blog, the WSPA reports that, in conjunction with local university UNIFESO, it

    opened an operations centre to co-ordinate assistance to animal victims.

    The centre, situated in the worst-hit town of Teresópolis, opened on 27th January to respond to the essential emergency needs of dogs and cats, the animals most affected by the recent flooding. The centre is now holding 12 tons of dog food and one ton of cat food, as well as veterinary and other essential supplies, to be distributed according to the needs identifed by WSPA in its assesment following the disaster.

    The centre’s response team is being co-ordinated by Dr. Sérgio Vasquez, a specialist in disaster management from WSPA’s Central America, Mexico and Caribbean office. The team comprises members of WSPA Brazil and the director of a Brazilian member society, Ecosul, which co-ordinated relief in the state of Santa Catarina in 2009, as well as a profesor from UNIFESO.

    Additionally,

    In Rio’s floods and mudslides, local member societies SOS Animal, GAPA, AnimaVida and COMBINA all had animal shelters or other facilities in the disaster zone, and were able to respond initially, with the help of donations sent to WSPA Brazil. These organisations will continue to be involved as part of a WSPA-coordinated emergency response, which will focus on immediately providing food, and medical treatment. In the ensuing recovery period, WSPA will continue to co-ordinate such efforts, provide necessary shelter if required, and also engage local authorities and citizens in future preparedness for such disasters.

    The Animals in Disasters blog features a donation button for the WSPA’s Animal Disaster Fund, but the link is expired. It seems that the only way to make a donation at this time is through the WSPA’s general donation page.

    For continuing coverage, follow WSPA Brazil, as well as its Flickr feed (this set in particular: Animais em Desastres – WSPA – Região Serrana RJ – Janeiro 2010).

  • Of those groups mentioned above, I was only able to find a web presence for AnimaVida. You can read about its partnership with the WSPA here.

    At this time, AnimaVida is only able to take donations through bank deposit:

    Favorecido: AnimaVida Favored: animatable
    CNPJ: 05.855.112/0001-48 CNPJ: 05.855.112/0001-48
    Banco: 237 – BRADESCO Bank: 237 – Bradesco
    Agência: 3403-7 Agency: 3403-7
    Conta: 0041745-9 Account: 0041745-9

  • Food for Life Global (FFLG), which distributes free vegan/vegetarian meals to those in need worldwide (among other things), does not currently list the 2011 Brazil floods as one of its emergency relief programs. However, it does support a food distribution project in Rio de Janeiro.

    (More below the fold…)

  • vegan v-day miscellany

    Saturday, February 12th, 2011

    So I know I’m a few days early, but for Valentines Day I made a double batch of Pink Pooch biscuits for my dog loves! Bone- and heart-shaped, natch:

    2011-02-10 - Dog Treats & Book Piles - 0017

    2011-02-10 - Dog Treats & Book Piles - 0041

    2011-02-10 - Dog Treats & Book Piles - 0028

    I mostly followed Molly’s recipe, but subbed in cranberry sauce for beets, since I didn’t have any on hand. (Also: a few added tablespoons of raspberry jam for extra coloring.) It took a bit of kneading before the jellied sauce was fully integrated into the dough, but once it was mixed in, it gave the biscuits a nice pinkish-purplish hue.

    2011-02-10 - Making V-Day Biscuits - 0018

    The color faded a bit upon baking, but luckily the dogs don’t seem to mind!

    For the heart-shaped biscuits, I just used regular Valentines Day cookie cutters that are available in most box stores this time of the year. The larger hearts are obviously too big for my little guys and gals to handle with ease, so I cut ‘em in half, all jagged-like, before baking. I told Kaylee that that’s what she does to my heart every night when she refuses to cuddle with me in bed, but I don’t think she got the hint. Either that, or she’s just acting obtuse. She can be crafty, that one (and especially where food is concerned), so I wouldn’t put it past her. Harumph.

    In other v-day news, I temporarily bumped this post – originally published two years ago – up to the front page in honor of the occasion. (I admit it – I love all the photos of gratuitous canine canoodling!) As has been the custom for several years now, I still plan on “tossing Valentines Day to the dogs.” The weather is supposed to warm considerably next week, and I hope to spend all my free time outside, soaking in the sun’s depression-busting rays, out-speed walking the winter blues, BDFs (best dog friends) at my side.

    Whatever your plans for v-day, make them as cruelty-free as possible, mkay? If you’re still shopping around for edible goodies, please use the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List as a guide. Better yet, give your sweetie some handcrafted sweets, made by you with love (and vegan, fair trade chocolate, of course!). May I suggest peanut butter cups, coconut bonbons, rocky road bark, or chocolate covered pretzels? Or perhaps some chocolate-shaped vulvas for the vegan feminist in your life? (Oooh, me me! Pick me!)

    (More below the fold…)

    Oprah’s Favorite Things: Cracker Box Palace ("You get a rescue goat! And you get a rescue goat! EVERYBODY GETS A RESCUE GOAT!!!")*

    Sunday, February 6th, 2011

    2010-09-18 - Cracker Box Palace (Meesh's Cam) - 0260

    So you’ve vicariously tasted the yummy vegan eats at The Owl House as part of veganmofo iv, and last week I introduced you to Ms. Chicktoria. Though it’s now four months after the fact, there’s still one set of vacation photos I’d like to share from my September visit to Rochester. Because they’re from an ANIMAL SANCTUARY and who doesn’t like pictures of SUPER-CUTE RESCUE ANIMALS, hmmmm? Besides, it’s like zero degrees outside and there’s a three-foot snow drift on my patio and I could use a vacation, even if only in my own head.

    Initially, my sis and I had our hearts set on visiting Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen – but unfortunately the fall tour hours (weekends only!), coupled with the lengthy drive time and previous commitments, just didn’t fit into our schedule. My mom suggested that we instead visit Cracker Box Palace Farm Animal Haven, a new-ish farmed animal sanctuary located in Alton, NY. (Alton is a short drive from Sodus – which is where I spent the first five years of my life – and Sodus, in turn, is a 45-minute drive from Rochester. In comparison, Watkins Glen is twice as far.)

    2010-09-18 - Cracker Box Palace (Meesh's Cam) - 0199

    According to the group’s website, CBP opened in 2001 on a 50-acre former migrant farm. Originally dedicated to horse rescue and rehab, the sanctuary is now home to geese, ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, and several breeds of pigs as well. Currently, it’s leasing and attempting to purchase Alasa Farms, a 500-acre historic Shaker farm.

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    The weekend we visited, the group was holding a fair to help raise funds for the purchase.

    2010-09-18 - Cracker Box Palace (Meesh's Cam) - 0416

    Before we begin, a bit of a disclaimer: on its website, Cracker Box Palace isn’t particularly forthcoming about its positions on animal rights and veganism/vegetarianism. In some newsletters, for example, the founders allude to the cruelties of factory farming and ask for donations of vegetarian cookbooks for CBP’s gift shop. They also speak approvingly of Farm Sanctuary and credit its courses with teaching them the skills necessary to start and run an animal sanctuary. (While you may disagree with some of Farm Sanctuary’s positions – and I do – the group does include animal rights and veganism in its advocacy.)

    (More below the fold…)

    Rape-rape and Money-rape

    Saturday, February 5th, 2011

    @TheDailyShow‘s @kristenschaaled on rape-rape and money-rape: http://bit.ly/hwWTQG Trenchant as fuck. #dearjohn #prochoice #rape #taxes

    Pass this one along the the libertarians and “small government” conservatives in your circle who equate money with bodily autonomy – and taxes with rape – mkay?

    Direct link: Wednesday February 2, 2011 | Daily Show: Schaal – Rape Victim Abortion Funding | Kristen Schaal doesn’t think hard-earned tax dollars should go to women who have only been rape-ished.

    VEGAN CHOCOLATE BONBONS! (Also: five very cold goggies.)

    Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

    2011-01-29 - Coconut BonBons - 0009

    Totally awesome sister that I am, I decided to make a batch of vegan peanut butter cups to send to my younger sis for Valentine’s Day. One batch turned into three, and once the kitchen was covered in melted chocolate and other gooey goodness, I thought I may as well keep going. Still in search of the perfect coconut-filled candy, I had a go at these vegan chocolate bonbons from about.com, and holy guacamole are they delectable!

    Much, much yummier and easier to assemble (though still a bit sticky) than the Coconut Cream Patties and Almond Delights I made over the crifsmas holiday. I think the secret is in the coconut: in order to get a smoother, creamier filling, I ran the shredded coconut through a food processor for a few minutes to break it up into smaller pieces. Yum! It’s been less than a week, and the batch I made is almost gone…though I suspect that Shane has been sneaking candy here and there and blaming it on Lemmy.

    And yes, I still have yet to take down my holiday decorations! (My book pile, does it look familiar?) Thanks for asking! What with the dreary winter weather we’ve been having ’round here, I need the extra sparkle of gold tinsel and red pom poms, lest I retire to bed until April.

    Speaking of, it’s about zero degrees out right now, and our house and patio (not to mention cars, shrubbery, lawn furniture, and basically any stationary object of significant size) is covered in 2-3′ snow drifts. To make matters worse, the back patio is surrounded on three sides, thus creating a wind tunnel effect. I do believe that all the snow on the roof was blown onto the patio. Yuck.

    2011-02-02 - Snow Pile! - 0007

    I don’t mind all that much – I’ve nowhere to go, and can wait the snow out for months, need be – but oh, the poor doggies! The snow drifts on the patio are up to their necks, twice over!

    (More below the fold…)