Zoe Weil on "the MOGO principle": An excerpt from Most Good, Least Harm.

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Zoe Weil at College of the Atlantic July 2009 via the IHE on YouTube.
(Click through for a detailed description of the video,
as well as additional clips of the 90-minute talk.)
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Good morning, y’all! Long time no see. In the wake of veganmofo, I’ve been so completely and utterly exhausted that the mere though of blogging is enough to send me, diving with no small amount of frenzy, back beneath my unintentionally festive, red-and-white striped bedsheets. (Burnt out, that’s me.) Luckily, I have several guest posts lined up which, along with a few fluffy, holiday-themed pieces, should carry us through the rest of the year! (Emerging from behind the clouds, Mr. Golden Sun shines in approval! Yes, I’m in a weird mood today; a week’s worth of criFSMas chores will do that to a person.) Let’s get to it, shall we?

Zoe Weil is the founder of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE), a group dedicated to training humane educators “big” (read: professional) and “small” (i.e., the rest of us). The IHE offers a number of online courses and in-person workshops to help spread the principles of humane education to teachers and students alike (not that the two groups are mutually exclusive, mind you!), including its Humane Education Certificate Program (HECP) and “MOGO” (most good) workshops.

Coming this January is the 30-day online course A Better World, A Meaningful Life. (In attendance will be Deb, one of my co-bloggers at Animal Rights & AntiOppression; keep an eye out for a possible post or two from her!) Based on Ms. Weil’s most recent book, Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life, the course explores how we as individuals can align our actions with our values. If you’re like to learn more, keep reading for an excerpt from Most Good, Least Harm, or check out the 8-minute video I’ve embedded above. (You may remember that I also interviewed Zoe for AR&AO back in August.)

(More below the fold…)

more randomness: food, needs, food needs, dairy/rape, dennis kucinich & dogs

Sunday, August 15th, 2010
  • After a nearly six month hiatus, I have a new post up at Animal Rights & AntiOppression! In an interview with humane educator Zoe Weil, we look at the connections between our treatment of nonhuman animals, the earth, and one another, and explore humane education as the bridge between seemingly disparate social justice movements – and the solution to our many (many!) human-made ills.

    Check it: “The World Becomes What You Teach”: An Interview With Humane Educator Zoe Weil

  • Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (psych101 students, represent!), Ellyn Satter developed a corresponding hierarchy of food needs, arguing that one cannot “choose” to consume healthy products unless one’s more basic needs – such as having enough food to eat, having acceptable food, and having reliable, ongoing access to food – are already met.

    Satter's Hierarchy of Food Needs

    Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs:
    Bottom to top, the six needs are as follows: Enough food; Acceptable food; Reliable, ongoing access to food; Good-tasting food; Novel food; and Instrumental food.

    The choice to consume vegan food (vs. the necessity of consuming vegan food) seems to rest at the apex of Satter’s hierarchy, and as such, can only be made “when all underlying needs are consistently satisfied”: “The person functioning at the apex of Satter’s Hierarchy of Food Needs reliably gets enough to eat of rewarding food and has food acceptance skills that are good enough to allow him or her to eat a variety of food. That person is thus in a position to consider choosing food for instrumental reasons: to achieve a desired physical, cognitive, or spiritual outcome. This description is analogous to Maslow’s concept of self actualization.”
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    While this hierarchy is primarily being discussed in relation to our consumption (or lack thereof) of nutritious, healthy food, i.e.:

    The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people. Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second. Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste. If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

    As Michelle at The Fat Nutritionist writes, sometimes when a person chooses to eat nutritionally deficient or fattening foods, it is not because they are “stupid, ignorant, lazy, or just a bad, bad person who loves bad, bad food.” Sometimes, it’s “because other needs come first.” (Source: Sociological Images)

    it’s equally applicable to veganism and vegan foods: obstacles such as hunger, poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to food, etc., severely constrict people’s ability to choose a vegan diet, on multiple levels (e.g., individual, community, population). As long as we’re serious about creating a vegan world, we must address these human inequities as well. (That, and it’s the right thing to do.)

    Check out the Food Empowerment Project for more.

  • (More below the fold…)

    Book Review: Claude and Medea by Zoe Weil (2007)

    Thursday, June 7th, 2007

    When Claude and Medea: The Hellburn Dogs fell out of my big fat swag bag from Lantern Books, I must say that I was a little…what’s the word?…apprehensive, maybe? I don’t have any kiddos, don’t want any kiddos, don’t know any kiddos, and haven’t been a kiddo for quite some time. A spinster aunt in the making, I am. So I was a little worried about reading and reviewing a kid’s book. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate, I guess. Yeah, that sounds about right.

    Claude and Medea was awesome, though. I haven’t enjoyed a kid’s book that much for, I dunno, twenty years. (Cause I’m 29. Get it? Cue knee-slapping.)

    Yesterday was a nice sunny Kansas day, so I stretched out on the lawn with my kid’s book and the five furbabies, and got edumakated by the totally rad Ms. Rattlebee. Rennie, being the silly terrier that she is, tried her darndest to distract me from the task at hand. Wasn’t easy to resist the lil girl, what with her sad, ratty tennis ball and slobbery pink smile and all…

    2007-06-05 - The Furbabies - 0010

    …but resist I did.

    And here’s the Amazon review to prove it.

    (More below the fold…)