Beans and Greens

Beans and greens are good for you. Why not eat them together?

Drain a few cans of beans (pintos, cannelini, whatever) and set them aside. Pluck the leafy bits off of a couple of bunches of kale and rinse them in a  colander under some cold water. Rinse the stems too and chop them up while you’re at it. Get yourself some chopped onion and garlic. If you like it spicy, help yourself to some chopped jalapeños as well.

In a big pot, heat up some olive oil over medium-high and sauté the onions, garlic, and peppers till the onions start to brown a bit. Toss in the chopped up kale stems and mix them around for a minute or two. Then add your kale, a few handfuls at a time. Let the last handful cook down a bit till you add another. Once you’ve got the kale in, add a glass of water and bring everything to a simmer.

Mix in a spoonful or two of no chicken base or some soy sauce and then add the beans. It’s ok if you leave in some of the liquid from the can. That stuff is good for you too.

Bring everything to a simmer again and let it cook for twenty minutes or so.

Now you’ve got yourself some tasty eats!

Beans and Greens

Beans and greens are good for you. Why not eat them together?

Drain a few cans of beans (pintos, cannelini, whatever) and set them aside. Pluck the leafy bits off of a couple of bunches of kale and rinse them in a colander under some cold water. Rinse the stems too and chop them up while you’re at it. Get yourself some chopped onion and garlic. If you like it spicy, help yourself to some chopped jalapeños as well.

In a big pot, heat up some olive oil over medium-high and sauté the onions, garlic, and peppers till the onions start to brown a bit. Toss in the chopped up kale stems and mix them around for a minute or two. Then add your kale, a few handfuls at a time. Let the last handful cook down a bit till you add another. Once you’ve got the kale in, add a glass of water and bring everything to a simmer.

Mix in a spoonful or two of no chicken base or some soy sauce and then add the beans. It’s ok if you leave in some of the liquid from the can. That stuff is good for you too.

Bring everything to a simmer again and let it cook for twenty minutes or so.

Now you’ve got yourself some tasty eats!

Lentils and Veggies

What You Need

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups lentils
1 28oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups veggie broth
2 bunches of kale (stems and all), chopped
1 tsp garam masala

What You Do

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a big pot on medium-high. Sauté the onions till they’re translucent and add the carrots. Cook for another few minutes and add the mushrooms and peppers.

After a few minutes sautéing the veggies, add the spices and the garlic and mix them around. Add the lentils, the diced tomatoes, and the veggie broth and bring everything to a simmer.

Add the kale slowly, one handful at a time, till you get it all in the pot. Then let the lentils and the veggies cook for a half hour or so. Once the half hour is up, stir in the garam masala, give everything one last mix, and you’re ready to go!

Lentils and Veggies

What You Need

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups lentils
1 28oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups veggie broth
2 bunches of kale (stems and all), chopped
1 tsp garam masala

What You Do

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a big pot on medium-high. Sauté the onions till they’re translucent and add the carrots. Cook for another few minutes and add the mushrooms and peppers.

After a few minutes sautéing the veggies, add the spices and the garlic and mix them around. Add the lentils, the diced tomatoes, and the veggie broth and bring everything to a simmer.

Add the kale slowly, one handful at a time, till you get it all in the pot. Then let the lentils and the veggies cook for a half hour or so. Once the half hour is up, stir in the garam masala, give everything one last mix, and you’re ready to go!

Gear for Nepal

Who likes to wait around for checked luggage? Not me.

For a long time now I’ve been traveling with only a carry-on, but I had to rethink my gear when I packed for my trip to Nepal.

While I wanted to avoid checking bags, my usual travel pack is a Kelty Redwing, which has a capacity of 50 liters. I haven’t had any problems taking it on in the years I’ve travelled with it, but I’ve never travelled internationally. When I poked around on Turkish Airlines’ site, I saw that my Redwing was well over the allotted space for cabin baggage.

I didn’t want to chance it, so I had to rethink my game plan. I considered buying a new pack – something in the 40 liter range – until I recalled that I had a 30ish liter JanSport Wasabi (essentially a school backpack) that my brother handed off to me when he was out for a visit some years ago. This bag works great as a day pack and I could save some money if I went with that, no doubt.

But would I be able to get all my gear into it?

I turned to ultralight and minimalist travel sites for help. Here’s what I came up with for a list of stuff to take:

Clothes

Black poly pants (x2) – these look like dress pants, but they’re perfect for my needs. They’re a little stretchy and roomy enough to be comfortable on long flights and long walks. Also, they dry quickly.
Black poly boxer briefs (4 pair) – these are nice and stretchy and they dry really quickly. This is an asset when you plan on doing laundry in the room.
Black poly no-show socks (4 pair) – I opted for no-show to cut down on the amount of fabric I needed to carry along. Plus, I figured this would mean less drying time.
50/50 cotton/poly t-shirts (4) – I was worried about getting all poly shirts because of the smell issue, so these are a nice compromise.
Columbia fleece – for chilly days and nights. While the highs in the Kathmandu Valley in January are in the 60s, the lows drop down into the high 30s.
Columbia raincoat – mostly for layering and in case it rains, though January is the dry season.
Black poly base layer – in case the rooms we stay in are cold at night.
Beanie and gloves – again, for cold times.
Travel clothesline – I plan on doing some laundry in the room, so this will come in handy.
(From this list, I’m wearing a pair of pants, socks, boxer briefs, a t-shirt, and the fleece.)

Toiletries

Small travel towel – I’m bringing this in case the rooms we stay in don’t provide any towels. I reckon I can begin to dry clothes I wash by rolling them up in this as well.
Toothbrush – standard issue, with a little plastic travel top that covers the head.
Dr. Bronner’s soap – this will double as body wash and shampoo, plus I’ll use it for laundry. I’m carrying this in a 3oz GoToob.
Tom’s travel toothpaste – I would use the Dr. Bronner’s, but it’s soap.
Floss – EcoDent vegan floss yo. Only floss the ones you want to keep…
Razor – just the plastic kind.
Well Being

Azithromycin – The travel doc prescribed this. I worried when I didn’t get Cipro, but it looks like bugs are getting used to Cipro, so this might be better.
steriPEN – this is a little uv light you dunk in water to render the creatures within unable to reproduce and cause you trouble. The thought of relying on bottled water was depressing for environmental reasons. Michelle got me this for xmas!
Nalgene bottle – from which to drink.
Eyeshade – for getting my z’s on the plane.
Earplugs – for getting my z’s on the plane and in case Kathmandu is super noisy.
Typhoid, hep A & B, and rabies vaccines – better safe than sorry. The doc recommended the first two (typhoid and hep A & B) and we decided rabies would be good too since I’ll be wandering among stray dogs in Kathmandu and among rhesus macaques at Swayambhunath. I’ve been getting these since late November. Typhoid was only one shot, but I had to get three each of Twinrix (for hep A & B) and the rabies vaccine. I’ll have to go back in a year for one final Twinrix shot.
Gadgets

iPhone 5 – I reckoned that if I wanted to travel light, I’d have to forego the MacBook Pro (it’s nearly 5lbs, not counting the power supply). Michelle offered me her Nexus 7, but I decided I’d just use the iPhone. It’ll serve primarily as a note taking/journaling tool and as a camera. I’ve got some books on iBooks and when WiFi is available, I’ll get online with it too. I won’t make calls, though. My plan is to go the whole time in airplane mode for fear of incurring T-Mobile’s $4.95/minute charges!
iPhone charger and Europe/Asia outlet adapter – because I gotta have juice.
Microfiber cloth – for cleaning the iPhone screen and my glasses and other stuff.
Headlight – Kathmandu evidently has rolling blackouts, so this will light my way in the dark.
Travel Essentials

Loney Planet Nepal – I’m lugging this along.
Ziplock bags (2) – in case it rains and I want to keep stuff in the pack dry. Also, for dirty clothes.
Passport and passport photos — I’ve emailed a photo of my passport to myself (along with a record of my vaccinations) in case I lose it. The photos are for my Nepal visa. For this trip I’ll need a 15 day visa, which costs US $25.
Hidden wallet – to stash my passport, visa card, and cash. I opted for the kind you hang from your belt with a loop. The neck and belt wallets seemed really uncomfortable.
REI ditty bags (6, in various sizes) – for organizing stuff.
The Weight

Turkish Airlines has a weight limit of 8kg for cabin baggage. As I inderstand it, they take that pretty seriously.

Not only does all the stuff I listed fit in the bag with a little room to spare, but my pack weighs less than 10lbs (!) – well under Turkish Airlines’ 8kg limit.

I have to confess that I like the idea of making my way to the other side of the world with so little stuff!

Gear for Nepal

Who likes to wait around for checked luggage? Not me.

For a long time now I’ve been traveling with only a carry-on, but I had to rethink my gear when I packed for my trip to Nepal.

While I wanted to avoid checking bags, my usual travel pack is a Kelty Redwing, which has a capacity of 50 liters. I haven’t had any problems taking it on in the years I’ve travelled with it, but I’ve never travelled internationally. When I poked around on Turkish Airlines’ site, I saw that my Redwing was well over the allotted space for cabin baggage.

I didn’t want to chance it, so I had to rethink my game plan. I considered buying a new pack – something in the 40 liter range – until I recalled that I had a 30ish liter JanSport Wasabi (essentially a school backpack) that my brother handed off to me when he was out for a visit some years ago. This bag works great as a day pack and I could save some money if I went with that, no doubt.

But would I be able to get all my gear into it?

I turned to ultralight and minimalist travel sites for help. Here’s what I came up with for a list of stuff to take:

Clothes

  • Black poly pants (x2) – these look like dress pants, but they’re perfect for my needs. They’re a little stretchy and roomy enough to be comfortable on long flights and long walks. Also, they dry quickly.
  • Black poly boxer briefs (4 pair) – these are nice and stretchy and they dry really quickly. This is an asset when you plan on doing laundry in the room.
  • Black poly no-show socks (4 pair) – I opted for no-show to cut down on the amount of fabric I needed to carry along. Plus, I figured this would mean less drying time.
  • 50/50 cotton/poly t-shirts (4) – I was worried about getting all poly shirts because of the smell issue, so these are a nice compromise.
  • Columbia fleece – for chilly days and nights. While the highs in the Kathmandu Valley in January are in the 60s, the lows drop down into the high 30s.
  • Columbia raincoat – mostly for layering and in case it rains, though January is the dry season.
  • Black poly base layer – in case the rooms we stay in are cold at night.
  • Beanie and gloves – again, for cold times.
  • Travel clothesline – I plan on doing some laundry in the room, so this will come in handy.

(From this list, I’m wearing a pair of pants, socks, boxer briefs, a t-shirt, and the fleece.)

Toiletries

  • Small travel towel – I’m bringing this in case the rooms we stay in don’t provide any towels. I reckon I can begin to dry clothes I wash by rolling them up in this as well.
  • Toothbrush – standard issue, with a little plastic travel top that covers the head.
  • Dr. Bronner’s soap – this will double as body wash and shampoo, plus I’ll use it for laundry. I’m carrying this in a 3oz GoToob.
  • Tom’s travel toothpaste – I would use the Dr. Bronner’s, but it’s soap.
  • Floss – EcoDent vegan floss yo. Only floss the ones you want to keep…
  • Razor – just the plastic kind.

Well Being

  • Azithromycin – The travel doc prescribed this. I worried when I didn’t get Cipro, but it looks like bugs are getting used to Cipro, so this might be better.
  • steriPEN – this is a little uv light you dunk in water to render the creatures within unable to reproduce and cause you trouble. The thought of relying on bottled water was depressing for environmental reasons. Michelle got me this for xmas!
  • Nalgene bottle – from which to drink.
  • Eyeshade – for getting my z’s on the plane.
  • Earplugs – for getting my z’s on the plane and in case Kathmandu is super noisy.
  • Typhoid, hep A & B, and rabies vaccines – better safe than sorry. The doc recommended the first two (typhoid and hep A & B) and we decided rabies would be good too since I’ll be wandering among stray dogs in Kathmandu and among rhesus macaques at Swayambhunath. I’ve been getting these since late November. Typhoid was only one shot, but I had to get three each of Twinrix (for hep A & B) and the rabies vaccine. I’ll have to go back in a year for one final Twinrix shot.

Gadgets

  • iPhone 5 – I reckoned that if I wanted to travel light, I’d have to forego the MacBook Pro (it’s nearly 5lbs, not counting the power supply). Michelle offered me her Nexus 7, but I decided I’d just use the iPhone. It’ll serve primarily as a note taking/journaling tool and as a camera. I’ve got some books on iBooks and when WiFi is available, I’ll get online with it too. I won’t make calls, though. My plan is to go the whole time in airplane mode for fear of incurring T-Mobile’s $4.95/minute charges!
  • iPhone charger and Europe/Asia outlet adapter – because I gotta have juice.
  • Microfiber cloth – for cleaning the iPhone screen and my glasses and other stuff.
  • Headlight – Kathmandu evidently has rolling blackouts, so this will light my way in the dark.

Travel Essentials

  • Loney Planet Nepal – I’m lugging this along.
  • Ziplock bags (2) – in case it rains and I want to keep stuff in the pack dry. Also, for dirty clothes.
  • Passport and passport photos — I’ve emailed a photo of my passport to myself (along with a record of my vaccinations) in case I lose it. The photos are for my Nepal visa. For this trip I’ll need a 15 day visa, which costs US $25.
  • Hidden wallet – to stash my passport, visa card, and cash. I opted for the kind you hang from your belt with a loop. The neck and belt wallets seemed really uncomfortable.
  • REI ditty bags (6, in various sizes) – for organizing stuff.

The Weight

Turkish Airlines has a weight limit of 8kg for cabin baggage. As I inderstand it, they take that pretty seriously.

Not only does all the stuff I listed fit in the bag with a little room to spare, but my pack weighs less than 10lbs (!) – well under Turkish Airlines’ 8kg limit.

I have to confess that I like the idea of making my way to the other side of the world with so little stuff!

Simple Greens

So you want to eat some greens, but you want them to be tasty. Here’s what you do.

Chop up a couple of bunches of collards and a bunch of kale. Don’t toss the stems. Those make for good eating too. Just be sure to cut them up into little bits.

Mince a bunch of garlic – eight cloves or more, depending on your preferences. And chop up some chili peppers. Jalapeños or serranos work just fine.

Sauté the garlic and chilies in some olive oil over high heat for a few minutes before you add your chopped-up greens. This is when you cook the chopped up stems too. The greens should go in a few handfuls at a time. You want to let them cook down a bit till you add more.

Toss in some salt and some veggie broth and stir. Cover your pot and turn down the heat (medium should be about right). Cook those greens for at least a half an hour.

When they’re done, grab yourself a big bowl full.

If you’ve been thinking ahead, you stuffed a jar full of halved habaneros, filled it with white vinegar, and stuck it in the fridge. A few spoonfulls of habanero vinegar makes for a nice addition.

Simple Greens

So you want to eat some greens, but you want them to be tasty. Here’s what you do.

Chop up a couple of bunches of collards and a bunch of kale. Don’t toss the stems. Those make for good eating too. Just be sure to cut them up into little bits.

Mince a bunch of garlic – eight cloves or more, depending on your preferences. And chop up some chili peppers. Jalapeños or serranos work just fine.

Sauté the garlic and chilies in some olive oil over high heat for a few minutes before you add your chopped-up greens. This is when you cook the chopped up stems too. The greens should go in a few handfuls at a time. You want to let them cook down a bit till you add more.

Toss in some salt and some veggie broth and stir. Cover your pot and turn down the heat (medium should be about right). Cook those greens for at least a half an hour.

When they’re done, grab yourself a big bowl full.

If you’ve been thinking ahead, you stuffed a jar full of halved habaneros, filled it with white vinegar, and stuck it in the fridge. A few spoonfulls of habanero vinegar makes for a nice addition.

From Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals:


  And what would happen if there were no turkey? Would the tradition be broken, or injured, if instead of a bird we simply had the sweet potato casserole, homemade rolls, green beans with almonds, cranberry concoctions, yams, buttery mashed potatoes, pumpkin and pecan pies? Maybe we could add some Timucuan bean soup. It’s not so hard to imagine it. See your loved ones around the table. Hear the sounds, smell the smells. There is no turkey. Is the holiday undermined? Is Thanksgiving no longer Thanksgiving?
  
  Or would Thanksgiving be enhanced? Would the choice not to eat turkey be a more active way of celebrating how thankful we feel? Try to imagine the conversation that would take place. This is why our family celebrates this way. Would such a conversation feel disappointing or inspiring? Would fewer or more values be transmitted? Would the joy be lessened by the hunger to eat that particular animal? Imagine your family’s Thanksgivings after you are gone, when the question is no longer ‘Why don’t we eat this?’ but the more obvious one: ‘Why did they ever?’

From Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals:

And what would happen if there were no turkey? Would the tradition be broken, or injured, if instead of a bird we simply had the sweet potato casserole, homemade rolls, green beans with almonds, cranberry concoctions, yams, buttery mashed potatoes, pumpkin and pecan pies? Maybe we could add some Timucuan bean soup. It’s not so hard to imagine it. See your loved ones around the table. Hear the sounds, smell the smells. There is no turkey. Is the holiday undermined? Is Thanksgiving no longer Thanksgiving?

Or would Thanksgiving be enhanced? Would the choice not to eat turkey be a more active way of celebrating how thankful we feel? Try to imagine the conversation that would take place. This is why our family celebrates this way. Would such a conversation feel disappointing or inspiring? Would fewer or more values be transmitted? Would the joy be lessened by the hunger to eat that particular animal? Imagine your family’s Thanksgivings after you are gone, when the question is no longer ‘Why don’t we eat this?’ but the more obvious one: ‘Why did they ever?’

Standard Practices

Once again, we got a glimpse inside of a local pig farm and, once again, what we saw was deeply disturbing.

We saw that mother pigs are confined for months at a time in gestation crates, cages so small that the pigs trapped in them can’t even turn around. We saw that baby pigs have their tails and testicles cut off without any pain relief. And we saw that those piglets who aren’t growing fast enough or who are in need of medical care are killed by being slammed head first against a concrete floor.

Eager to make us feel at ease with these horrific practices, those in the industry try to convince us that they do these things for the sake of the pigs themselves. But in order to make their case, they leave important parts of the story out.

We’re told gestation crates help prevent aggression that arises when sows are raised in groups. What we aren’t told is that research shows this aggression subsides after only a day or so and that after a week the sows form stable social groups.

Research also shows that aggression between the sows poses a threat to the producers’ bottom line — when you introduce sows into groups after they’ve been artificially inseminated there’s a risk that some embryos won’t implant. We aren’t told that either.

We’re told sows in groups have higher cortisol levels than sows in gestation crates. (Cortisol is a stress hormone.) What we aren’t told is that cortisol levels are elevated during sex and play as well, complicating the argument that elevated cortisol levels are always a bad thing.

We aren’t invited to ask whether the brief period of aggression and the stress that comes from being able to interact meaningfully with others might be worth it for a sow when the alternative is nearly four months of total confinement in a gestation crate.

We’re told that slamming the heads of baby pigs against a concrete floor is a “fast and pain free way” to kill them. We aren’t invited to ask why we would never consider euthanizing our cats or our dogs in this way.

We’re told that cutting the tails off of baby pigs prevents them from chewing each other’s tails off. What we aren’t told is that tail biting only becomes a problem in confinement, where the pigs being bitten are unable to run away.

We aren’t told why baby pigs have their testicles cut out. It’s done because leaving pigs intact can impact the taste of their flesh.

We aren’t told that baby pigs are denied effective pain relief in cutting off their tails and testicles because it would cost too much. Painkillers and vets to administer them, after all, aren’t free.

We’re presented with a false dilemma. We’re told that we can either save some money by eating pigs raised in these awful ways or pay more and eat pigs raised differently. We’re liable to forget the other alternative — quit eating pigs altogether.

When undercover videos are released and you hear responses from those in the industry, it’s important to remember that they are in business. It’s important to remember that what they tell you is marketing. After all, they have a product they want to sell you and you’ve just been given very good reasons not to buy it.

The industry’s defense of much of what we see in this most recent footage – that these are “standard practices” – is empty. The fact that practices have become standard doesn’t make them morally acceptable.

It would be unthinkable to do these things to our cats or our dogs. Not only does the law forbid it but so does a basic interest in showing kindness and compassion toward our fellow creatures.

And aren’t pigs our fellow creatures too?

Photo Credit: Mercy for Animals

Standard Practices

Once again, we got a glimpse inside of a local pig farm and, once again, what we saw was deeply disturbing.

We saw that mother pigs are confined for months at a time in gestation crates, cages so small that the pigs trapped in them can’t even turn around. We saw that baby pigs have their tails and testicles cut off without any pain relief. And we saw that those piglets who aren’t growing fast enough or who are in need of medical care are killed by being slammed head first against a concrete floor.

Eager to make us feel at ease with these horrific practices, those in the industry try to convince us that they do these things for the sake of the pigs themselves. But in order to make their case, they leave important parts of the story out.

We’re told gestation crates help prevent aggression that arises when sows are raised in groups. What we aren’t told is that research shows this aggression subsides after only a day or so and that after a week the sows form stable social groups.

Research also shows that aggression between the sows poses a threat to the producers’ bottom line — when you introduce sows into groups after they’ve been artificially inseminated there’s a risk that some embryos won’t implant. We aren’t told that either.

We’re told sows in groups have higher cortisol levels than sows in gestation crates. (Cortisol is a stress hormone.) What we aren’t told is that cortisol levels are elevated during sex and play as well, complicating the argument that elevated cortisol levels are always a bad thing.

We aren’t invited to ask whether the brief period of aggression and the stress that comes from being able to interact meaningfully with others might be worth it for a sow when the alternative is nearly four months of total confinement in a gestation crate.

We’re told that slamming the heads of baby pigs against a concrete floor is a “fast and pain free way” to kill them. We aren’t invited to ask why we would never consider euthanizing our cats or our dogs in this way.

We’re told that cutting the tails off of baby pigs prevents them from chewing each other’s tails off. What we aren’t told is that tail biting only becomes a problem in confinement, where the pigs being bitten are unable to run away.

We aren’t told why baby pigs have their testicles cut out. It’s done because leaving pigs intact can impact the taste of their flesh.

We aren’t told that baby pigs are denied effective pain relief in cutting off their tails and testicles because it would cost too much. Painkillers and vets to administer them, after all, aren’t free.

We’re presented with a false dilemma. We’re told that we can either save some money by eating pigs raised in these awful ways or pay more and eat pigs raised differently. We’re liable to forget the other alternative — quit eating pigs altogether.

When undercover videos are released and you hear responses from those in the industry, it’s important to remember that they are in business. It’s important to remember that what they tell you is marketing. After all, they have a product they want to sell you and you’ve just been given very good reasons not to buy it.

The industry’s defense of much of what we see in this most recent footage – that these are “standard practices” – is empty. The fact that practices have become standard doesn’t make them morally acceptable.

It would be unthinkable to do these things to our cats or our dogs. Not only does the law forbid it but so does a basic interest in showing kindness and compassion toward our fellow creatures.

And aren’t pigs our fellow creatures too?

Photo Credit: Mercy for Animals

Humanely Killed?

Undercover investigations reveal what chickens, pigs, and cows are made to endure on factory farms.

These animals have their beaks, tails, testicles, and horns cut off or seared off without any pain relief. For nearly their entire pregnancy, mother pigs are kept in cages so small that they can’t turn around. Chickens who lay eggs are kept in cages so small that they’re each afforded less than an iPad’s worth of space in which to live out their lives. After being forced to become pregnant, mother cows on dairies and mother pigs are prematurely separated from their babies. And all the animals are killed at a fraction of their natural lives.

When people become aware of these things, it’s no surprise that they start looking for alternatives.

One alternative is to quit eating animals.

But even though this alternative can be healthy and less expensive than eating factory farmed animals, some think it goes too far. After all, they think, not all animals are factory farmed.

I once thought I could take moral cover under the notion that there are farms where animals are raised and killed humanely. But as I thought more about it, I found it harder to understand.

Take the notion of humane killing.

We’re led by producers to think all that’s required for killing to be humane is that it’s done as painlessly as possible. But is that right?

Consider a fairly uncontroversial case of humane killing. Take the case of a companion animal who has been killed humanely.

It’s important, no doubt, that the killing be done as painlessly as possible. But it’s also important that the animal be sick and that she isn’t likely to get better. It’s important that she’s suffering and that ending her life will help to alleviate her suffering. It’s important that when we decide to end her life, we consider whether it would be best for her to die. We should ask, for instance, whether her good days are outnumbered by her bad days. And when we end her life it’s important that we do it for her sake.

As a way to see that these things are important, consider an example in which they’re absent.

Suppose that my cat, Bubs, is perfectly healthy, that he’s not suffering at all, and that his bad days are far outnumbered by his good days. Suppose I decide to have him killed nevertheless, perhaps because I’m going on vacation and I can’t find anyone to watch him while I’m gone.

It’s hard for me to see how doing what I do here could be thought of as humane. And it wouldn’t help to know that I had Bubs killed as painlessly as possible. Part of the trouble is that I’m thinking here only of what’s good for me. I’m giving no serious thought to what’s good for Bubs.

Keeping this in mind, let’s return to our consideration of killing farmed animals.

We’re told the chickens, pigs, and cows raised on small farms aren’t sick. We’re told they aren’t suffering. We’re told their good days far outnumber their bad days. What this means, though, is that it isn’t in their interest to die.

Killing farmed animals may be good for producers and for us if we eat them. But it isn’t what’s good for the animals themselves.

In view of our considerations above, it’s hard to think of this as humane.

There are more controversial cases of humane killing that may seem to provide a model for responding to the killing of farmed animals. So-called “problem” animals or animals in shelters who can’t be placed, for instance, may be killed as painlessly as possible even though it isn’t in their interest to die.

But these cases don’t help make sense of what happens on farms.

Farmed animals don’t pose a threat in the way “problem” animals are thought to. And while shelters typically do what they can to keep themselves from having to kill animals, producers have no interest in killing fewer animals. In fact, producers deliberately have animals bred so they can have them killed.

These differences make a difference.

It’s these considerations that lead me to think I can no longer take moral cover under the notion that farmed animals are humanely killed.

(The photo at the top of this post was taken outside of Lorentz Meats, a slaughterhouse I toured in Cannon Falls, MN earlier this year. I will post about that tour soon.)

Humanely Killed?

Undercover investigations reveal what chickens, pigs, and cows are made to endure on factory farms.

These animals have their beaks, tails, testicles, and horns cut off or seared off without any pain relief. For nearly their entire pregnancy, mother pigs are kept in cages so small that they can’t turn around. Chickens who lay eggs are kept in cages so small that they’re each afforded less than an iPad’s worth of space in which to live out their lives. After being forced to become pregnant, mother cows on dairies and mother pigs are prematurely separated from their babies. And all the animals are killed at a fraction of their natural lives.

When people become aware of these things, it’s no surprise that they start looking for alternatives.

One alternative is to quit eating animals.

But even though this alternative can be healthy and less expensive than eating factory farmed animals, some think it goes too far. After all, they think, not all animals are factory farmed.

I once thought I could take moral cover under the notion that there are farms where animals are raised and killed humanely. But as I thought more about it, I found it harder to understand.

Take the notion of humane killing.

We’re led by producers to think all that’s required for killing to be humane is that it’s done as painlessly as possible. But is that right?

Consider a fairly uncontroversial case of humane killing. Take the case of a companion animal who has been killed humanely.

It’s important, no doubt, that the killing be done as painlessly as possible. But it’s also important that the animal be sick and that she isn’t likely to get better. It’s important that she’s suffering and that ending her life will help to alleviate her suffering. It’s important that when we decide to end her life, we consider whether it would be best for her to die. We should ask, for instance, whether her good days are outnumbered by her bad days. And when we end her life it’s important that we do it for her sake.

As a way to see that these things are important, consider an example in which they’re absent.

Suppose that my cat, Bubs, is perfectly healthy, that he’s not suffering at all, and that his bad days are far outnumbered by his good days. Suppose I decide to have him killed nevertheless, perhaps because I’m going on vacation and I can’t find anyone to watch him while I’m gone.

It’s hard for me to see how doing what I do here could be thought of as humane. And it wouldn’t help to know that I had Bubs killed as painlessly as possible. Part of the trouble is that I’m thinking here only of what’s good for me. I’m giving no serious thought to what’s good for Bubs.

Keeping this in mind, let’s return to our consideration of killing farmed animals.

We’re told the chickens, pigs, and cows raised on small farms aren’t sick. We’re told they aren’t suffering. We’re told their good days far outnumber their bad days. What this means, though, is that it isn’t in their interest to die.

Killing farmed animals may be good for producers and for us if we eat them. But it isn’t what’s good for the animals themselves.

In view of our considerations above, it’s hard to think of this as humane.

There are more controversial cases of humane killing that may seem to provide a model for responding to the killing of farmed animals. So-called “problem” animals or animals in shelters who can’t be placed, for instance, may be killed as painlessly as possible even though it isn’t in their interest to die.

But these cases don’t help make sense of what happens on farms.

Farmed animals don’t pose a threat in the way “problem” animals are thought to. And while shelters typically do what they can to keep themselves from having to kill animals, producers have no interest in killing fewer animals. In fact, producers deliberately have animals bred so they can have them killed.

These differences make a difference.

It’s these considerations that lead me to think I can no longer take moral cover under the notion that farmed animals are humanely killed.

(The photo at the top of this post was taken outside of Lorentz Meats, a slaughterhouse I toured in Cannon Falls, MN earlier this year. I will post about that tour soon.)

No Cheese Mac and Cheese

Advocating for Animals, the student group I advise, is putting on a vegan cooking class later this week. I’ve been tasked with trying out the no cheese mac and cheese recipe they’ll be using.

While I really like Post Punk Kitchen’s chipotle mac and cheese recipe, we thought that soaking and blending cashews so they aren’t gritty might be tough for students — especially when they live in the dorms.

Instead, we opted for the rich and creamy absolutely no cheese mac and cheese recipe over at Compassionate Action for Animals' recipe site.

I made a batch tonight to see how it keeps overnight in the fridge.

As I cooked, I made some last minute changes to the original recipe. Instead of using water for the sauce, I used some veggie broth. I added some chopped onions along with two chopped red bell peppers. I also threw in a couple of minced serranos and finished it with a little black pepper.

I really like the result!

What You Need

1 lb macaroni
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup flour
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 serrano peppers, minced or 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook macaroni to al dente, drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat, stir in flour, continue stirring and cook until it begins to brown and bubbles. Add the broth one cup at a time, stirring as you go to incorporate. Reduce the heat to low and stir till smooth

Stir in the garlic powder, salt, turmeric, crushed red peppers, and soy sauce. Add the oil and slowly fold in nutritional yeast flakes and stir until smooth. Stir in the peppers and onions. Stir in the macaroni and pour the mixture into 9x13 pan. Cook for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

No Cheese Mac and Cheese

Advocating for Animals, the student group I advise, is putting on a vegan cooking class later this week. I’ve been tasked with trying out the no cheese mac and cheese recipe they’ll be using.

While I really like Post Punk Kitchen’s chipotle mac and cheese recipe, we thought that soaking and blending cashews so they aren’t gritty might be tough for students — especially when they live in the dorms.

Instead, we opted for the rich and creamy absolutely no cheese mac and cheese recipe over at Compassionate Action for Animals' recipe site.

I made a batch tonight to see how it keeps overnight in the fridge.

As I cooked, I made some last minute changes to the original recipe. Instead of using water for the sauce, I used some veggie broth. I added some chopped onions along with two chopped red bell peppers. I also threw in a couple of minced serranos and finished it with a little black pepper.

I really like the result!

What You Need

1 lb macaroni
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup flour
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 serrano peppers, minced or 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook macaroni to al dente, drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat, stir in flour, continue stirring and cook until it begins to brown and bubbles. Add the broth one cup at a time, stirring as you go to incorporate. Reduce the heat to low and stir till smooth

Stir in the garlic powder, salt, turmeric, crushed red peppers, and soy sauce. Add the oil and slowly fold in nutritional yeast flakes and stir until smooth. Stir in the peppers and onions. Stir in the macaroni and pour the mixture into 9x13 pan. Cook for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

It’s getting to be that time of year!

The leaves are turning, a chill is in the air, and I find myself lately adding a little pumpkin spice coconut milk to my coffee.

This weekend, I thought I would play around with a few recipes for pumpkin pie in getting ready for Thanksgiving. My favorite this time around was the recipe over on Compassionate Action for Animals' recipe page.

When you let the tofu blend with the other ingredients for a few minutes — the more the better, so patience here is a virtue — the texture of the pie comes out great. And the flavors are just right — enough to complement the pumpkin without overwhelming it.

What You Need

1 15 oz can of pumpkin
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1 12 oz package extra-firm silken tofu
1 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp ginger
1⁄4 tsp nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp cloves
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell (I bought the whole wheat version of this brand at Whole Foods)

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Blend the pumpkin and brown sugar in a blender or food processor. Add the tofu, spices, and salt and blend for a few minutes more.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 50-60 minutes or until the filling sets.

Let the pie cool on a rack and then chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

It’s getting to be that time of year!

The leaves are turning, a chill is in the air, and I find myself lately adding a little pumpkin spice coconut milk to my coffee.

This weekend, I thought I would play around with a few recipes for pumpkin pie in getting ready for Thanksgiving. My favorite this time around was the recipe over on Compassionate Action for Animals' recipe page.

When you let the tofu blend with the other ingredients for a few minutes — the more the better, so patience here is a virtue — the texture of the pie comes out great. And the flavors are just right — enough to complement the pumpkin without overwhelming it.

What You Need

1 15 oz can of pumpkin
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1 12 oz package extra-firm silken tofu
1 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp ginger
1⁄4 tsp nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp cloves
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell (I bought the whole wheat version of this brand at Whole Foods)

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Blend the pumpkin and brown sugar in a blender or food processor. Add the tofu, spices, and salt and blend for a few minutes more.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 50-60 minutes or until the filling sets.

Let the pie cool on a rack and then chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Enjoy!