Monday, September 19, 2011

Of Cows and Music

Maybe you've already seen the recent YouTube video (above) of band members from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, entertaining a group of cows in the French Alps. The video, showing Steve Call and his Dixieland Band playing tunes for a group of music-loving cows, instantly went viral, now approaching a million views. To be certain, it is a delightful video, but it is by no means unique. Below are other videos, posted long before the BYU jazz band performed for French bovines, showing similar results when musicians wander out to farm pastures.

The next few videos show cows enjoying the handiwork of accordionists.

And a violinist...

And yes, even a little classic hard rock...

Dairy farmers have apparently understood for years that cows love music, so music has become an important part of numerous dairy operations, as the next few videos show.

I was thrilled to see the video of cows in the French Alps enjoying a jazz music performance go viral. The other videos posted above of cows loving music boast only a few thousand views at most.

I'm not sure the viral video is going to necessarily convert any viewers to veganism. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear people say how adorable it is to see cows savoring music, then those same people turn around and devour steaks and hamburgers and pot roast.

Sadly, so many people possess an incredible capacity for denial. They can somehow adore cows and eat them at the same time. Indeed, dairy farmers - as one of the videos points out - play music to calm their cows in order to increase productivity.

Also, there might be some animal rights purists out there who insist that appealing to human compassion by showing animals enjoying music is a form of speciesism. People have no right to exploit or harm animals, they argue, whether or not those animals enjoy human music.

Hard to argue with that logic. And yet... And yet... Part of what it means to be sentient means to be aware, and awareness comes in many forms. We can be aware of pain. We can feel what it feels like to suffer. But we can also be swept away by the beauty of images and scenery and music. These videos show that we are not the only animals who love music. Cows love it, too. That's not the main reason we shouldn't eat them. But it's yet another item to add to a long and growing list of reasons why it's criminal to mass murder these extraordinary beings.

Imagine eating meat from a being that once savored music. How could you possibly do it?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This video speaks for itself...

... there's nothing really for me to add.

Vegan Odds and Ends

Above: Anne Hathaway is transitioning to veganism. Take the leap, Anne! You won't regret it!

Watching What You Eat & What You Spend: The wonderful website Care2 Healthy Living offers Six Helpful Tips on how to eat vegan on a budget. Being vegan need not be prohibitively expensive. The tips are all excellent ones. Stuff I never thought of before. I won't give it away - you should read the story. Check it out here.

Campus Vegans: Thumbs Up - big time - to the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, for opening a 100% Vegan full-service cafeteria. Imagine that: A vegan cafeteria! I'd give anything to have one of those where I live. Best of all, it is refreshing to see this development happen in Texas, which has a reputation for being a state full of meat eaters. If it can happen in Texas, surely we can make it happen in other parts of North America. (Source)

Recommended Reading: Vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier will be holding a big book launch in New York City on September 14 for his new book Thrive Foods. Sounds like a wonderful book. Here's a description:

Vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier presents his new nutrition guide, Thrive Foods, that features 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health and recipes from chefs at award-winning restaurants. (Source)

Celeb Vegans: The lovely and talented Anne Hathaway recently told an interviewer, "I'm trying to transition into being vegan, so I'd cook vegan dishes." (Source) Jump in, Anne! The water is fine once you get used to it. We need you on our side. We've lost a couple of vegan celebrities in the last several months. We could use some new high-profile converts. Best of all, you'll eat better knowing that you aren't harming any sentient beings.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kudos to Ke$ha!

When I'm driving alone in my car, I usually listen to one of the Sirius XM Satellite stations that plays the music from my youth in the 1970s and 1980s. But when I'm chauffeuring my son and his buddies, they prefer the loud dance music and hip hop. I've heard plenty of Ke$ha songs and I have to admit, I've never been blown away with her wild and crazy tunes about partying all the time and brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels and "hittin' on dudes... hard!"

But I just read that Ke$ha (actually, her real name is Kesha Rose Sebert - she's the one who stuck a dollar sign in her name where the 'S' should go, not me) has just been named the Humane Society International's (HSI) first Global Ambassador. In that capacity, she'll be lobbying on behalf of animals. She'll be a voice for the voiceless. One of her first actions will be to encourage her fans to sign petitions to stop animal testing. Right on, Ke$ha!

Smart move, too, on the part of HSI. The organization picked a singer who an reach out to young people like my son, who might otherwise not have much interest in animal welfare issues unless a high-profile celebrity with whom they're familiar speaks out on the topic.

The best part of Ke$ha's acceptance of her job was when she said in a written statement (and I've got to bold this), "I take this opportunity incredibly seriously because we are ALL animals."

We are all animals. Where have I heard that before?

Right on, Ke$ha! Welcome to the movement. As Ke$ha told the press, "One of the main underlying sentiments of my music is to respect all living creatures just as they are."

If more people shared Ke$ha's attitude about animals, the world would be a far saner, more humane place. (Source)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rule Number 1: Always check the ingredients list!

It ain't easy being vegan.

Oh sure: Defenders of the lifestyle who are trying to win over new converts insist it's easy. But it really isn't. It literally boggles the mind when you consider how many types of food contain animal products of one sort or another.

I'll give you a frinstance. Amy's-brand soy cheese pizza, on sale in the frozen-foods section of our supermarket. Soy cheese pizza!?!? Right? How can you go wrong?

Check the ingredients. What? You're kidding me. Amy's frozen soy cheese pizza contains milk ingredients. Huh?? A soy cheese pizza, sans meat, that contains milk ingredients? Why? Why? WHY?

Oh, Amy's. You got my hopes up there for a moment.

Frinstance Number Two: Earlier tonight I ordered a tofu dish at a newly opened Chinese food joint down the street. I just assumed that a tofu and vegetable dish would be safe.

Turns out this was mapo tofu and I had no idea that the dish is made with minced meat, often pork or beef. I got it home and before I even tried it, I noticed those little teeny, tiny bumps in the sauce didn't look right.

I Googled mapo tofu and discovered the bad news. I called the Chinese food joint. They confirmed the bad news.

I feel ghastly. My stomach is still twisted up in knots. The moral of the story: Always check the ingredients. Don't be afraid to ask someone in the restaurant if their dishes contain meat. When in doubt, do not buy it.

I've even taken to bringing a magnifying glass with me to the supermarket. Yeah, I look like a dork checking ingredients. But who the hell cares?

I really beat myself up over that mapo tofu. I won't keep beating myself up, though. We learn from our mistakes. We try our hardest not to repeat them. In my past life, I never checked the ingredients lists. The fact that I do it nearly all of the time - but occasionally I slip up and forget - means that I should probably call it a night with the self-flagellation.

But it does mean we vegans have to be ever vigilant. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," said Thomas Jefferson. We vegans know the meaning of those words firsthand.

We understand that eternal vigilance is the price we pay for our own liberty, for severing ties with a lifetime of denial and reckless consumption.

Oh yeah. One more thing. "God damn you, mapo tofu! God damn you to hell!" Seriously. Who the hell puts minced meat in a tofu dish?

There. I feel slightly better.