Recently I attended a talk and book signing at Tattered Cover Bookstore given by Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and bestselling author. His new book is Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation ($15.95 New World Library). He spoke for an hour on a variety of topics, including animal intelligence, human/animal relationships, and how we humans often depreciate the skills and capabilities of non-human animals. An example of the latter is that when people misbehave, we sometimes say they are “acting like animals.” Or perhaps we might consider sounds made by another species as primitive, when actually what we are hearing is a complex language.
As an activist encouraging people to cut back or eliminate the consumption of meat and other animal products, I was particularly interested in what he had to say about animals used for food. Continue reading Marc Bekoff on Vegan Activism
Two weeks ago I blogged in this space about “The Story of Chickens,” a project sponsored by the Spencer Art Museum at the University of Kansas (KU). This so-called “art” exhibit called for the display of five chickens in a moveable coop at several locations in Lawrence, Kansas; the chickens were then to be slaughtered in public and served at a community potluck. I am happy to write today that the project has been substantially altered because local animal cruelty law does not permit slaughter within Lawrence city limits. No chickens will be displayed or slaughtered; the project has been reduced to the display of an empty coop and a concluding dinner. For details, see the news release from United Poultry Concerns and yesterday’s article in the Kansas City Star. Continue reading Good News About “The Story of Chickens”: Public Slaughter Cancelled
Today I sent the following letter to my alma mater, the University of Kansas, in protest of an upcoming exhibit at the university’s Spencer Art Museum called “The Story of Chickens.” This project will encourage townspeople to get to know and care about five chickens over a period of time, then the chickens will be slaughtered in public and served at a potluck. Continue reading Violence Is Not Art: An Open Letter to the Spencer Art Museum
Anyone who follows Denver news knows by now that the Denver City Council passed the Food-Producing Animals ordinance last Monday evening by a vote of 7-3, with 3 members not voting. While many of us are sad that their decision means hatcheries will be killing more male chicks, more chickens will either be killed by predators or dumped at animal shelters, male offspring born to dairy goats will be disposed of somehow, and slaughter may occur in our urban backyards, there are still a couple of bright spots in this otherwise gloomy picture. Continue reading Afterword on the FPA Ordinance
A draft of a measure known as the Food-Producing Animals Ordinance is making its way toward a vote by the Denver City Council (a date has not been set yet for the vote.). The measure is intended to replace the current permit system for Denver residents wishing to keep small livestock animals. The permit system provides for a city inspection to be sure the site is appropriate, requires neighbors to be notified when someone wants to raise these animals, and charges a fee for the privilege. The proposed ordinance eliminates these safeguards, allowing any resident to keep up to 8 hens (no roosters) and two dwarf goats (no adult males) without any notification or inspection. We urge defeat of the ordinance–backyards into barnyards is a bad idea. Continue reading Backyards into Barnyards Is A Bad Idea–Denver’s Proposed Food-Producing Animals Ordinance
Vegetarian activists have long known that one of the most effective ways to persuade people toward a plant-based diet is by serving them delicious food. Besides being effective, it’s also totally non-confrontational, and you don’t need to know the fine points of the issues, like why even well-managed grazing is detrimental to the environment. Just pass the plate.
My neighborhood association gets together with a nearby church for a combined annual picnic on the church lawn in September, which includes a bake-off contest. Two years ago I entered for the first time with killer vegan cupcakes decorated as professionally as I could manage. I learned that the judges seemed to prefer plainer looking desserts, overlooking mine and another even fancier offering to award the prize to a very ordinary peach cobbler. Last year I couldn’t attend the event, but this year I came back with a bake-off entry I thought more likely to succeed. I presented a vegan chocolate mousse pie (recipe below), in a store-bought crumb crust, decorated with plain coconut flakes, and not actually baked at all.
I won! Continue reading Food Activism in the ‘Hood