Tag: dairy

Know Your Numbers (Cholesterol)

In today’s episode of the 15th year of the Food for Thought Podcast, I provide the optimal numbers experts recommend for your total cholesterol, LDL (“bad cholesterol”), HDL (“good cholesterol”), triglycerides, and a little thing called homocysteine. 

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From Excuse-itarian to Vegan

In this episode, I address a few of the typical excuses people have when it comes to becoming vegan — from “I don’t really eat a lot of meat, dairy, and eggs” to “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” See if any of it resonates with you. 

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Can You Eat Eggs And Still Be Vegan?

Is there such a thing as an egg-eating vegan?

Because hens don’t have to be killed to obtain their eggs, many people have been conditioned to perceive eggs as being healthy, humane, and cruelty-free, despite the fact that the majority of them are from factory farms.

To demonstrate their compassion for animals in general and battery cage hens in particular, as well their desire to promote animal welfare, they buy eggs labeled free-range, cage free, humane, and organic, believing they are not contributing to animal cruelty and factory farming.  

Many people often declare that they get eggs from local farmers or backyard hens, who are genuinely cage-free. That leads them to ask me one of the most common questions I receive about veganism, ethics, and animals: what’s wrong with eating eggs from backyard hens / chickens since it doesn’t contribute to animal cruelty. What if that person is vegan in every other way but eats the eggs of their own rescued hens? Or sanctuary hens? Or their hens who are “pets”? In other words:

  1. Is it unethical / problematic / perpetuating cruelty to avoid buying factory farmed animal products but eat eggs from rescued hens? AND 
  2. Can that person call themselves vegan?

Truth Bombs

  • To call yourself vegan, the presumption is you don’t eat animal flesh and fluids. That’s not an arbitrary characterization. While there are grey areas related to being vegan, it’s safe to say that the most basic definition of that is that you’re not eating anything that comes out of an animal. 
  • There is no such thing as a vegan overlord. In the end, whatever you call yourself is up to you.
  • Eggs are loaded with problematic dietary cholesterol, animal fat, and animal protein — not to mention being carriers of foodborne pathogens such as salmonella.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids reside in plants — not animal products. Skip the middle chicken and get your nutrients directly from the source: plants.
  • If there is no rooster, there is no chance the hens’ eggs will become fertilized. No rooster, no chick.
  • Intention has a lot to do with the decisions we make about the critters in our care.
  • Being vegan is about doing what we can to foster compassion and to avoid contributing to violence. It’s not about being perfect, and it’s not about being pure.
  • Being vegan is a means to an end, not an end in itself. I don’t aspire to be as vegan as I can be. I aspire to be as compassionate as I can be. 
  • In order to help animals, we need to change the paradigm from one of entitlement to one of communality.

Vegan at Work: When Your Job Conflicts with Your Ethics

It’s one thing to opt out of eating animal products at home and in our personal lives, but what about adhering to our values in the trickier, grayer areas of our lives, such as in the workplace? What if you work for a software company and you’re put on a project to build a website for a fishing company? What if you work in a restaurant and have to serve meat? What if you work in a job that requires you to cook meat? These are real scenarios for many people, and the answer isn’t to “stop being vegan” because things are complicated. Take a listen to my thoughts in today’s episode of Food for Thought.

Words Change, Meanings Evolve, but Meat and Milk Companies Think Customers are Stupid

You’ve probably heard by now that France banned the use of meat-like terms in packaging for vegetarian food. Yes, that’s right. “Food producers in France,” as reported by the Independent, “will be forced to think of new ways to describe some of their vegetarian and vegan foods when they are banned from using terms such as ‘vegetarian sausages and ‘vegan bacon.’ French MPs have voted to outlaw use of such vocabulary, claiming they mislead shoppers.

Firms will no longer be able to use ‘burger,’  ‘steak’, ‘sausage’ or ‘fillet’ to describe foods that have no meat in them, such as ‘ham’ slices or ‘chicken’ pies that are made of soya or wheat. The ban on such vocabulary will also apply to dairy alternatives.”

I recently shared my response to the Economist magazine’s article about “The Vegetarian Butcher,” Jaap Korteweg, a ninth-generation farmer who wants “to become the biggest butcher in the world without ever slaughtering an animal.” As a result, some Dutch politicians called for a ban on meat names for products that contained no animal protein, and “the country’s food authority asked The Vegetarian Butcher to rename misleading products...because it might confuse consumers.

Dutch media termed the episode ‘Schnitzelgate’ after a similar situation in Germany, whose minister for agriculture said that ‘meaty names’ such as ‘schnitzel’ and ‘wurst’ should only be legal for animal-based products.”

And of course we’re familiar with such shenanigans in the United States as the dairy lobby uses the Dairy Pride Act to try and outlaw the use of such words as “milk,” “ice cream,” “butter,” and “yogurt” from products made from non-dairy sources. I’d like to see them tell a lactating woman she has to refer to her “breast beverage” because the dairy industry “owns” the word milk or that peanut butter companies have to devise a new name for this favorite food.

The movement toward banning “meat,” “milk,” and other descriptors from plant-based versions simply demonstrates how threatened companies and governments are by the success of these products. Instead of hopping on the cruelty-free bandwagon, they’re attempting to hinder their growth in the marketplace. (It won’t work.)

Meanings evolve, words change, context matters, and consumers aren’t stupid. They know a veggie version from an animal-based one and in fact, they’re choosing the former over the latter precisely because it’s animal-free. No one who orders a veggie burger, drinks almond milk, or eats cashew cheese is being duped. But associations with the names of familiar animal-based meats and milks help create their gustatory expectations.

More than that, the etymology of these words reveal that they have less to do with the animals than we think: schnitzel comes from a Proto-Germanic root meaning “to cut, slice”; wurst comes from a Proto-Germanic root meaning “to mix up”; sausage comes from the Latin word for “salted”; in English, the original meaning of word meat was “food in general” — and we still use that meaning today in sweetmeat, coconut meat, and the meat of a nut.

The word underwent the same evolution in French. The word viande (“meat”) also originally meant food in general — not simply the flesh of animals for consumption. That word became narrowed over time, but its root vivere remains, meaning “to live.” In its current usage referring to a dismembered body part of a dead animal, however, viande certainly represents anything but life.

Language is not simply a means of communication. It represents and reinforces the attitudes of our culture; it informs and gives social credit to our thoughts, rhetoric, and actions; and it masks, justifies, or dulls our ethical red flags. In fact, I would argue that the words the meat, dairy, and egg industries currently rely on to market and sell their products are really the ones that dupe consumers. The euphemisms they use to hock their wares disguise the violence inherent in bringing animals into this world only to kill them. Even the very use of the words pork, bacon, poultry, beef, burger, and steak conceals the presence of the once-living animals.

Perhaps instead of banning such qualifiers as “veggie,” “vegetarian,” and “vegan,” they should add “pig,” “piglet,” “sow,” “cow,” “calf,” “steer,” “bird,” or even “animal” as qualifiers on their own products. “Cashew milk” could then compete fairly with “calf’s milk,” and “veggie burger” would be on the same playing field as “cow burger.” 

If they’re really so worried about “duping” or “confusing consumers,” they would stop referring to their production practices in euphemistic terms. The egg and chicken industries would stop referring to the burning or cutting off of the tips of birds’ beaks without anaesthesia as “beak conditioning.” They would stop referring to the amputation of the tips of birds’ toes without anaesthesia as “toe clipping” or “toe conditioning.” The dairy industry would stop calling  the cutting off of cows’ tails without anesthesia “tail trimming.” The pork industry would stop referring to the pens they confine pregnant pigs in as “maternity pens” or “individual gestation accommodations.” And instead of referring to their practice of killing piglets by slamming their heads against floors or walls, as “blunt force trauma,” they would call it what it is. 

The animal exploitation industries and the politicians who rely on the deep pockets of the animal agriculture industry know that words matter, which is precisely why they work so hard to conceal the reality of their practices and products from the public. 

The attempt to control the words used by plant-based companies — words that are already part of the public’s vernacular — is a desperate and short-sighted ploy to save a dying paradigm. Animal-based meat, dairy, and egg companies are fighting a losing battle and missing a golden opportunity to  give customers what they want: animal-free versions that provide the fat, salt, flavor, familiarity, and texture without the cruelty. 

Instead of trying to change words, they could be part of changing the future.

__________________________

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an author, speaker, podcaster, and host of Animalogy, a podcast about the animal-related words and expressions we use every day

(Listen to the numerous podcast episodes I have on the naming of meats and milks as well as the word “butcher.” Some are part of Animalogy podcast; some are part of Food for Thought.)

Buying In or Selling Out? When Meat and Dairy Corporations Buy Vegan Companies

The animal-based meat, dairy, and egg companies are not committed to killing and hurting animals as much as they’re committed to making money. If the meat, dairy, & egg industries could make as much money NOT killing and hurting animals, they’ll do it. Buying into the success of vegan companies enables them to do that. Isn’t that what we want?

The plant-based foods market recently topped $3.1 billion in sales and is slated to reach over $5 billion in just a couple years. As a result, the animal-based meat, dairy, egg, and other large corporations see vegan companies and the plant-based products they make as competitors they should fear, emulate, learn from, collaborate with, invest in, or even purchase. They recognize they need to “buy into” the success, growth, and future of the plant-based market. Some, however, see it as vegan companies “selling out,” choosing profit over principles and betraying their loyal vegan customer base. On today’s episode, we explore the many perspectives of such business decisions and speculate about who the biggest winners are in the end.

Who Owns the Word “Milk”?

For years, the dairy industry has been trying to make it illegal for nondairy milk companies to use the word “milk,” asserting that the word “milk” should be used to refer only to the lacteal secretions of cows. Today, I’m joined by Michele Simon, public health lawyer and director of the first trade group to represent plant-based foods companies, to talk about the history and motives behind this agenda.

Thank you for sharing and supporting Animalogy. 

Are Oysters Vegan?

I’ve heard every justification for the consumption of animals, but I was a bit stunned when I heard someone claim that vegans should eat oysters because bivalves are “basically plants.” No doubt there are grey areas in this whole attempt to live as compassionately as possible. But even the fuzzy lines are still lines. If I let you eat oysters, would you stop eating cows?

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