Book Review: Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, Mark Hawthorne (2013)

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

They Shoot Narwhals, Don’t They?

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation. Also, trigger warning for discussions of violence, including that of a sexual nature.)

“Hierarchies feed oppression because it allows for valuation: those at the top are more valued than those at the bottom. Oppressors like hierarchies that keep animals at the bottom because then you can do to humans what you do to animals if you say that the humans are like the animals. So it feeds oppression to have animal objectification.” – Carol J. Adams (page 492)

“Change is hard, but not changing is just as hard.” – Carol J. Adams (page 487)

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka (quoted on page 490)

In Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, author-activist and longtime vegan Mark Hawthorne examines some of the effects of these human hierarchies, which universally place nonhuman animals – an estimated three to thirty million species, comprised of trillions upon trillions of individuals – at the bottom of the proverbial shit pile. (That such categories even exist – human animals, and all the “others” – is itself a testament to the self-centeredness of the human species.)

While I was expecting an encyclopedic, A-to-Z look at animal suffering, Bleating Hearts is something much different; Hawthorne shines a light on practices that, for whatever reason, don’t garner as much attention in animal activist circles: Balut eggs, an Asian delicacy that involves boiling developing duck embryos alive. The plight of the ever-popular slow lorises (please don’t forward those YouTube videos, people, no matter how cute they seem!). Dolphin-assisted therapy (cruel, and a scam). Horse fighting (which often ends in the serial rape of a mare, positioned in the ring to induce the stallions to compete). Rogue taxidermy. If you think you know all there is to know about animal exploitation, think again. Even the most seasoned activist will discover something new within these pages.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 22: Shegans, unite!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Raising her sword to Grayskull, LOL She-Ra demands, “I Can Haz Equal Rights?” & as long as we’re taking requests, the lady would like a NOMy vegan meal, too. (She’s a Shegan, yo!)
CC image via Brett L. on Flickr.
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The Boston Globe: Men leave their own mark on veganism and

vegansaurus!: He-gan woman-haters club!

Men + vegans = hegans. (Get it!?) Specifically, hegans are “men in their 40s and 50s embracing a restrictive lifestyle to look better, rectify a gluttonous past, or cheat death.” (Or, alternately, hegans are the latest faux-trend created by the newspaper industry in order to 1) hawk their wares and/or 2) avoid reporting on actual news. Be your own decider person.)

Though I prefer the term “hegan” to its predecessor, “femivore” (which, as a word, makes zero sense), it’s still kind of bullshit: in describing this ‘new breed’ of manly vegan men, Pierce is setting up a false dichotomy that portrays ‘regular’ vegan dudes (and women, too) as effeminate, weak and sentimental (‘pussies, queers and commies,’ as hegans might say). Also: paint with a broad brush much? Veganism is a diverse movement, and any attempt to pigeonhole such a large segment of the population is misguided at best. (See above, re: creating news where there is none.)

That said, I have a counter-proposal: shegan. More complex an equation than “women + vegans = shegans,” shegans as I envision them are feminist vegans of all sexes and genders (and/or feminist-allied vegan men, if you prefer) who reject sexism and misogyny as vehemently as they do speciesism. Dog knows we could use a little more sheganism, particularly since this is quickly shaping up to be the summer of the hegan douchebag.

Vegan Feminist Agitator: The PETA Effect

A lovely essay from Marla in which she manages to deconstruct the bulk of PETA’s campaigns in one fell swoop. To wit:

The PETA Effect has come into existence because they have cynically decided to not only accept the terms dictated by the worst aspects of the mainstream world, but to be a part of it. Instead of questioning misogyny, they wallow in it. Instead of thoughtful, insightful analysis, they have women citing statistics while stripping on camera. Instead of rejecting the notion that we all need to be young, slim, and, more often than not, surgically enhanced to be attractive, they embrace it fully, and they also tell us that objectification for the “cause” is a worthy endeavor. They tell a nation already deeply battered by this message that if you are not young, slim and conventionally attractive, you are worthless and disgusting. What does this have to do with compassion to animals? How does this improve a battery chicken’s life? How does this make the skeptical public more receptive to questioning their values? It doesn’t.

Seriously, go read the whole piece. I can wait.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 15: BEEF!, Bitches & "Bruised Feelings"

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

BEEF! For Men With Taste

vegansaurus!: BEEF!: nicht für Frauen–unless your Mann gives it to you

In which “beef” has its own magazine (and it’s a gentleman’s magazine, natch!): BEEF! for Men with Taste. Luckily, vegansaurus is all over that shit.

Ida @ L.O.V.E.: Political Correctness, Political Expediency, and Veganism and

Royce @ Vegans of Color: notes on “Veganism Overly Defined”

Ida (taking a break from The Vegan Ideal to guest post at L.O.V.E.) and Royce respond to a guest post at Vegan Soapbox (Veganism Overly Defined) in which the author dismisses an intersectional approach to veganism and animal advocacy as “attach[ing] favorite causes” and “baggage” to “Veganism.” Likewise, vegans who object to human-based “isms” “get so involved in the bruised feelings of some humans that the plight of voiceless animals becomes a marginalized issue.” Emphasis on “bruised feelings.”

Carol J. Adams: Remembering Mary Daly and

jenna @ L.O.V.E.: Feminism and Animals: What You Won’t Find in the 101

Mary Daly, a self-proclaimed “radical lesbian feminist,” recently passed away at the age of 81. While much has been written of Daly’s radfem theology, I didn’t realize that she was also an animal rights advocate and vegetarian until I read a memorial written for Daly by Carol Adams. Herself a former student of Daly’s, Adams’s obit is rather charming and provides a glimpse of what it must have been like to be a young adult attending college in the ’70s.

Unfortunately, Daly was also something of a transphobe, perhaps most famously referring to trans people as “Frankensteinian.” On this point, jenna’s post at L.O.V.E is well worth a read; in it, she illustrates why, as advocates for justice, compassion and respect, it is ill-advised and hypocritical for vegans to leave any marginalized group, human or non, behind. (Also click through the many links jenna provides to The Vegan Ideal, where the intersection of ecofeminism and transphobia is discussed in much greater detail. That is, if you haven’t yet; I’ve included many of these posts in past link roundups.)

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Parks & Recreation: Because no camel is complete without an attractive lady with a hamburger for a head.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Caution: Minor spoilers after the jump!

As y’all have probably surmised, I watch no small amount of television. (More than I should, one might argue.) In particular, I’m always on the lookout for shows with progressive, pro-animal, pro-woman, pro-GLBTQ (etc.) themes – and Parks and Recreation is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites.

Like Bitch’s Kelsey Wallace, I’m tickled (not-pink!) by the feminist turn the show’s taken in Season 2. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is looking less and less like a womanly Michael Scott (read: a racist, sexist douchebag with a dwindling pool of redeeming qualities) and more like a goofy, less intellectually endowed version of Hillary Clinton. The walls of Ms. Knope’s office are decorated with framed snapshots of woman politicians (Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Madeline Albright – hey, what are political parties against the bond of sisterhood?); when judging a beauty pageant, she weighted the contestant’s brains above all else; and her accidental marriage of two male penguins at the Pawnee Zoo (I know, zoos, ugh!) scored her a gig as a guest DJ at the local gay club (though the penguins were sadly split up at episode’s end).

Season 2’s episode 9, “The Camel” – which aired the Thursday before last – was especially awesome. I’ve embedded the entire episode above, but the most awesomest of the awesomeness is all of 30 seconds long. Since the video will only be available on Hulu for a limited time, I’ve also taken screenshots so you latecomers can follow along.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 11: Battered, Bruised & Consumed

Monday, November 9th, 2009

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Natalie Portman @ The Huffington Post: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals Turned Me Vegan and

Carol J. Adams: A vegan-feminist lament

Natalie Portman – a newbie vegetarian-to-vegan convert, thanks to Jonathan Safran Foer’s welfarist Eating Animals (zuh?) – recently caused a stir when she compared the consumption of “meat” to the consumption of women, i.e., in the form of rape:

He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don’t believe in rape, but if it’s what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

Naturally, Portman’s remark(s) unleashed a torrent of speciesism – to which Carol Adams responds with a vegan-feminist lament.

(This is the point at which I’d normally swoon over Ms. Portman – but I’m still somewhat heartbroken over her Jane Hancock on the “free Polanski” petition.)

Striking at the Roots: Carol J. Adams on Activism, Veganism and Models for Change

In what’s shaping up to be a series (see also: Mark’s conversation with Andrew Zollman of LGBT Compassion), author/activist Mark Hawthorne interviews vegetarian (vegan?) / feminist Carol Adams. The two touch upon sexism within the animal rights movement, masculine vs. feminist models of change, the gendered nature of animal exploitation, and guerrilla activism. Keep it coming, Mark!

Stephanie @ Animal Rights: Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting?

Stephanie details an alarming trend: as Spanish animal advocacy groups work to bring an end to bullfighting, promoters of American rodeos are promoting the “sport” as a “humane” alternative. Clearly, the question she poses – Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting? – is a rhetorical one, and the answer is a resounding hell no! Here, colonialism meets speciesism, and everyone loses. Save for the colonizers, of course.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 7: Meat, Love & Objectification

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Update, 9/2/09: Carol Adams is soliciting videos for the upcoming 20th anniversary of The Sexual Politics of Meat; check out her Twitter account for more info and examples.

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A1 Steak Sauce - Prestige

The Discerning Brute: EAT LIKE A MAN.

The Discerning Brute weighs in on the conflation of “meat” consumption with masculinity:

How do rabbits eat? They carefully chew Vegetation. Strangely, no man scoffs at being compared to a rabbit when it comes to sex. “Doing it like rabbits” flatters a man’s virility, yet eating a diet that supports that same rabbit’s virility is lampooned. Instead, we consume entire animals with superstitious hopes of appropriating their strengths. The cover of September 2009’s Esquire Magazine proclaims “Eat Like A Man” and leads to a sixteen-page cover-story entitled “How Men Eat”. It is a total meat-fest. A cheesy, eggy, frat party wrapped in bacon and bathed in blood.

The offending article doesn’t seem to be available on Esquire’s website, though you can read about famous chefs’ favorite fast food joints, with much love for In & Out Burger. Gag.

Er, on second thought, no gag; that’s probably the womanly reaction the meat-eating manly men at Esquire are hoping for.

Carol J. Adams: The Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show

Carol Adams has revamped her website since last I visited. The new setup includes a blog, interviews and – best of all – a Sexual Politics of Meat slideshow.

Apparently a 20th anniversary edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat is due out this fall; since I have the 1999 edition, I’m contemplating whether I should upgrade. It’s been awhile since I’ve read them, but I preferred The Pornography of Meat, Adams’s follow-up to The Sexual Politics of Meat – it’s more visual, less theoretical/academic. Then again, I read each in my college/vegetarian days, so wtf did I know? Perhaps an ’09 edition, with some new material, will provide an excuse to revisit Sexual Politics in my adulthood.

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Cookbook Review: How to Eat like a Vegetarian by Adams & Breitman (2008)

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Back in November, Kara at Lantern Books sent me a copy of How to Eat like a Vegetarian Even If You Never Want to Be One, by Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman; a mere four months later, and I’ve tried enough of the recipes to offer a review. What can I say – I’m a slow cooker!

How to Eat Like a Vegetarian by Adams and Breitman (2008)

Being Vegetarian/Vegan 101

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(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the publisher’s invitation.)

The title of this (cook)book pretty much says it all: in just over 200 pages, authors Carol J. Adams (of The Sexual Politics of Meat fame) and Patti Breitman will show you how to eat like a vegetarian – even if you don’t want to be (or in fact aren’t) one. Since it’s kind of a vegetarianism/veganism 101 primer (though categorized as a vegetarian cookbook, all the recipes are vegan), the book’s likely target audience strikes me as newbie vegetarians and vegans; omnivores who are interested in eating fewer animal products, whether for health, environmental or animal welfare reasons; and the family and friends of vegetarians and vegans, new and old.

The last category seems a particularly suitable audience for How to Eat like a Vegetarian. For example, if you’ve recently gone veg, and your parents, siblings, partner and/or friends are giving you a hard time – “But where will you get your protein?” “Fish is vegetarian, right?” “You haven’t joined a cult, have you!?” – allow Adams and Breitman to set them straight. The information contained in How to Eat like a Vegetarian can help teens and young adults assure their worried parents that, yes, it’s not only possible but rather simple to consume enough protein on a veg diet, and help men and women reassure their partners that the household won’t lapse into starvation because the primary cook (or taste tester) has banished meat from the kitchen.

At its core, How to Eat like a Vegetarian is a cookbook; as such, it features roughly 60 recipes (with a number of additional suggestions, such as quick dinner ideas or suggestions for no-prep, eat-what’s-in-the-fridge, snacking-on-the-go eats). It’s a rather diverse sample, spanning breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, and includes soups, salads, sweets, dips and spreads, and – of course! – tofu dishes. Depending on your tastes, the selection can be hit-or-miss; while I love vegetable-based soups, for instance, I’m not big on “regular” tofu (though I do like the silken stuff!) – so I haven’t yet, and probably won’t, try the tofu recipes (although the Mr. and/or doggies probably will). The wide range of dishes can be taken as either a negative or a positive: on the one hand, the lack of a coherent theme binding the recipes together may mean that you only try half of the dishes. But, if you’re an adventurous eater and don’t know where to start your veg-etarian/-an journey, How to Eat like a Vegetarian might just be the place!

In addition to the recipes, Adams and Breitman offer “More than 250 shortcuts, strategies, and simple solutions.” These include a number of helpful “top ten” lists, such as “Ten ways to eat more vegetables”; “Ten substitutes for using an egg in baking”; and “Ten different things you can do with chickpeas.” You’ll also find suggestions for seasonal eating; ideas for vegan appetizers; birthday food ideas; and tips for hosting a cruelty-free reception. In the final chapter, Adams and Brietman sneak in a 30-page discussion about the health, environmental and animal welfare reasons for adopting a vegetarian diet. (Vegan, really, but methinks they didn’t want to scare jittery omni’s away by using the more radical term “vegan” in their book and chapter titles!)

Over the past few months, the husband and I have tried out a number of the recipes in How to Eat like a Vegetarian. Without exception, all were fairly easy to prepare and quite yummy, if not downright delish. Of course, I did some selective sampling; while I loved the Scalloped Potatoes , the mere mention of Carrot Avocado Soup makes my face crumple, and alas we never made it. Chances are you’re not as fussy an eater as I, so grain of salt and all.

(As an aside, if you’ve seen Baby Mama: That scene where Amy Pohler simply cannot bring herself to eat the organic green pea soup? Totally me. “I would rather be shot in the face than eat this food!”)

I especially liked the “top ten” lists and random tricks – many of these are gems! I’ve been a vegetarian for 13 years now, vegan for maybe 5, and I’m always looking for shortcuts in the kitch! Adams and Breitman offer some inspired tips for recreating new dishes out of leftovers (something I’ve kind of been doing, albeit on a smaller scale, for a few years), improvising dishes and the like. Probably nothing new to the more advanced vegan cooks among us (you know the types, always making you drool over their food p0rn blogs!), but a dogsend to us amateur and intermediate chefs.

After the jump: a few vegan food p0rn photos of my own, along with a brief description of each dish. Don’t hold the scrappy photo quality against the book’s authors – everything is much tastier than it looks.

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