Thursday, October 23, 2008

COUNT HER FEET: The moral high ground is meatless

The McGill Tribune - Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm not a zealot, an animal liberationist, or dedicated to the pursuit of global misery. But I've been a vegetarian for nine years-for moral reasons. I don't claim to live among intolerant, meat-eating hooligans who throw cooked flesh into my mouth when I'm not looking in order to relieve me of the disease that is vegetarianism. However, I don't understand why meat eaters don't concede the moral high ground to us.

I agree wholeheartedly with Eric Weiss when, in his last column, he described People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as a truly, deeply evil organization (see FOOT IN MOUTH: Stay out of my kitchen, PETA) . I agree with PETA that humans should treat animals better in a broad sense, but PETA's extremist and often criminal actions make them as alien to moderate vegetarians as they are to meat-eaters. Any group that opposes animal testing for life-saving medical purposes is deplorable.

My anti-PETA stance often gets me the instant, albeit fleeting, approval of meat-eaters. To them, I am one of the rare "reasonable ones," who are vegetarian perhaps by accident. This good impression lasts until I explain that, for most people, a vegetarian lifestyle is a morally superior choice. And while vegetarianism alone doesn't guarantee my moral fibre, it should count in my favour rather than against it.

We've all heard of vegetarianism's many moral perks. I won't explain all of them in detail, but consider two important ones: the meat industry is often incredibly cruel, and vegetarianism is much more environmentally sustainable. If you don't believe me, do some research. However, the main argument for vegetarianism's moral superiority is this: animals aren't necessarily equal to humans, but as sentient beings, we ought to care about them at least a little bit.

In his article, Eric wrote that "Eating meat is not wrong. Our ancestors ate meat in order to survive and we've inherited their place at the top of the food chain." Ah, the good old naturalistic fallacy. Being natural or traditional doesn't make something morally legitimate. This is especially true about eating meat, because the context of dietary decisions has changed dramatically in recent years. Our ancestors didn't have access to modern soy protein, vitamin supplements, and the like. Meat was often their only option. But just because meat was the right choice then doesn't mean it's the right choice now, when being vegetarian is easier than ever.

Don't get me wrong-like Eric, I think that humans are superior to animals. But our superiority isn't based on our place "at the top of the food chain." (Besides, any lion you meet alone in the jungle will beg to differ.) Humans are uniquely important because we're capable of making moral judgements. We have the capacity for compassion, for reason-in short, for humanity. Only humans can weigh the minor pleasure of eating beef against the pain and suffering that produced it.

Human superiority is precisely why we shouldn't be needlessly cruel to animals. We're not special because we happen to have a perch atop the food chain. We're special because only we are in a position to use our power ethically. For every cow we kill when we could easily eat tofu, for every chicken we needlessly coop up, we lose a little bit of our humanity.

Aside from cases of anaemia and poverty, I have yet to hear a compelling moral argument for eating meat. And until I do, I will continue to take the moral, and distinctly human, high ground at every animal-free meal I enjoy.

Ultimately, every individual makes their own choices. I have no intention of joining radical, anti-meat protest groups, or proclaiming that animals are equal to humans. It's precisely because humans are not like other animals that we shouldn't be acting like them when we make dietary choices.

To view this story and some pretty interesting comments, go to: COUNT HER FEET: The moral high ground is meatless

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Family brings vegetarianism to Orillia

The Orillia Packet & Times - Saturday, October 11, 2008

Posted by Sara Ross

Jocelyn Losole-Stinger, 11 and her 9-year old sister Natalie have never eaten meat before in their lives.

Once Jocelyn accidentally began chewing meat, believing it was something else, but she spit it out when she realized her mistake.

“It was kind of strange because I had never tasted it before,” Jocelyn said. “It wasn’t like anything I’ve tasted before.”

Natalie said when she goes to friend’s houses and they eat meat it’s sometimes hard for her, but she has a friend whose family that will cook a veggie burger for her.

“I say they taste just like hamburgers, but I don’t know that because I’ve never tasted (hamburgers) before,” she laughed. “I’m going to be a vegetarian all my life. I know what happens to animals in factories, so I don’t want to be eating that.”

Janet Losole, the mother of the two girls said she and her husband Lloyd Stringer decided to become vegetarians 14-years ago for their own personal beliefs.

“For me it was a boycott as an expression of the unfair distribution of the earth’s resources. Most grain is used to feed beef cattle and the vast majority of humans on the earth are starving as a result of not having access to those grains,” Losole said.

“For my husband it was animal rights all the way. He has a view that animals are treated unfairly and he couldn’t tolerate the cruelty.”

She said that the amount of water and acres of land required to feed about 10 head of cattle could feed thousands of people.

“I think, especially today, over consumption has gotten us into a lot of trouble,” she said. “Over consumption, no matter what it is, means that some people on the earth are not going to have enough.”

Recently the family began to be even more thankful for their decision 14-years ago as there are so many problems with the current food system.

“Look at the news all these recalls and bacteria,” she said. “I want to take control of my own health. The decision I made with my husband was ever a good one because every year the food supply gets worse.”

Losole said it’s a myth that humans require meat in their diets, adding that people can be healthy without it.

“Once the kids were born a lot changed. Not only were we going to continue eating vegetarian, we were like what else are we consuming that isn’t good not just for the earth, but (also) for our bodies. Then it became local, organic,” Losole said.

When the couple first decided to become vegetarians they were living in Barrie and found it extremely difficult to find vegetarian alternatives.

“Back then it was very basic just pasta and salad. There weren’t very many options,” she said. “We’ve come along way in 14-years.”

Losole said going out for dinner in restaurants is still hard in a small town like Orillia, however she does know a place in town that offers a wide-range of vegetarian foods.

“You can go to any restaurant and you have to get a salad, but Brewery Bay is the best restaurant in town because Steve (Clarke, the owner) is a vegetarian, so he’s got loads of options on his menu.”

In January of this year the couple decided to start the Orillia Vegetarian Club as a way to meet more people in the community they had just moved to.

The 20-person club meets once a month for a potluck dinner, where they socialize and share recipes. There are also “meat-eaters” in the club who joined to learn how to cook healthy dishes.

Losole said she would like to see the group expand and be able to host guest speakers during their monthly meals.

“I’d like to see people coming as a response to not being happy with the food supply.

(The club) is a support system and it’s nice to be with people who think the same way,” she said. “It’s all about what is on your plate, where does that come from and what’s in it.”

For more information on the Orillia Vegetarian Club visit

Saturday, October 11, 2008

PETA’s complaints to ice cream company an embarassment

The Badger Herald - Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Ice cream is the quintessential summer treat and the best late-night binge. Smooth, sugary and… made from human breast milk?

Or so People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urges Ben & Jerry’s.

I don’t think so, PETA. If you’re ready to eat ice cream made from milk of the lactating teats of pregnant women, you can form your own commune to churn your mammary cream and make your idealistic sundaes elsewhere because no one’s going to market frozen breast milk as a dessert here.

The ice cream controversy began with a new PETA campaign that took the form of a letter to Ben & Jerry’s, imploring them to stop using dairy in their ice cream. They cited animal rights and health reasons to support their ridiculous request and drew inspiration from a Swiss restaurant that uses donated breast milk in their soups, stews and sauces.

I’m a vegan myself, and I don’t get it. Sure, the motives are clear, but why not suggest something less… human excrement-filled? Perhaps soy ice cream, which is just as delicious and a whole lot more appetizing than human breast milk, unless you’re under the age of 12 months.

By urging Ben and Jerry’s to switch their ice cream production into a lactation station and processing plant, PETA made their organization look absolutely dimwitted. It’s embarrassing for many vegans to be associated with such dolts and supposed animal rights advocates.

PETA’s version of ice cream simply wouldn’t sell, unless there was some sort of “buy one, get one free” deal for mothers. Ben & Jerry’s knows this, as does PETA. Such a proposal probably wouldn’t even make it past bathroom humor among co-workers. PETA most likely sent their letter as a rhetorical request, whose premise was flawed ad absurdum and ad nauseum. They created an analogy that made drinking another animal’s milk equal in displeasure to the milk of the breasts of a plethora of pregnant women. Most people, however, are too busy laughing in derision at the idea to see any logic in it.

In fairness to them, PETA had several valid reasons for their request, though it was disguised behind a “Fear Factor”-type challenge that involved drinking human excrement.

Their motives were completely right - drinking milk supports a harmful practice. Cows are sucked dry in dairy plants; for cows to be able to produce milk, they are artificially inseminated and their young are deported to be tortured as veal, Holocaust-style, while they produce 10 times the amount of milk that is natural for them. Humans are also the only mammals that drink milk past infancy, which is why some people have lactose intolerance. What makes cow’s milk so covetous? What about horse milk? Or bobcat milk?

But then again PETA is right - what about breast milk? We drank it when we were young. It makes some sense. The reason why the idea of breast milk in normal dessert consumption is so disgusting is just because of our societal eating patterns. People eat gross stuff like hot dogs all the time, but everyone’s used to it.

I think I’ve milked this for what it’s worth, so vegan morality aside, PETA made the wrong move once again. They only furthered their reputation as a radical terrorist group that propagates unrealistic measures for real moral issues. And they do it with a blithe unawareness that makes them look absolutely foolish.

Take, for example, PETA’s 2001 “Eat the Whales” Campaign, which solicited meat-eaters to eat whales instead of conventional animals like chickens or cows. The idea was that one whale could be slaughtered instead of the thousands of smaller animals which were raised in factory farms. In this case, the logic is completely sound: There would be thousands fewer animals in crammed factory farms because the whale can swim the expanse of the ocean, and everyone is fed. What’s irrational about the campaign is that it gives meat-eaters the opportunity to mock animal rights advocates as freaks. And no one likes to eat whale, even if it is a mammal.

PETA just gives being vegan a bad name. The organization itself isn’t inherently evil, but its practices are often out of touch with its motives. The leader of PETA has single-handedly done a great deal for animal rights, but when some vegans get together, being more radical supposedly means they care for the animals more. The organization’s work doesn’t make anyone more sensitive to animal rights because of how detached their requests are from reality. When PETA makes proposals such as this, it distracts the everyday omnivore from any sort of compassion regarding the issue at hand. And because of this detachment, no one is willing to put down a hamburger to hear what PETA says anymore.

Patrick Johnson ( is a freshman majoring in English and journalism.

For comments on this article, click on:
PETA’s complaints to ice cream company an embarassment

Thursday, October 9, 2008

FOOT IN MOUTH: Stay out of my kitchen, PETA

The McGill Tribune - Tuesday, October 7, 2008

By Eric Weiss

I was at Oktoberhaus last week, drinking a beer and pondering the sexual implications of sausage on a stick, when something occurred to me. Back when I named this column, I intended to put my foot in my mouth with controversial material-something I have yet to do. So instead of writing another self-indulgent piece about some movie you should have seen, I'll discuss something a little meatier.

I'm not a vegetarian. Why? Because I sleep better at night knowing that something died for my dinner.

Alright, that isn't true. But like most people in this country, I enjoy meat and I don't think my dietary indulgences are morally reprehensible. It's about time somebody explained why it's okay to chow down on a succulent, juicy hamburger. And it's about time somebody told People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to fuck off.

I eat meat because it's delicious. I don't care about scientific or philosophical explanations-eating meat is intrinsically pleasurable, and I don't want to live the rest of my life without tasting bacon. According to the Canada Food Guide, meat is an important part of a balanced diet and I would much rather get my protein from poultry than soy.

Beyond the sensory pleasure of consumption, meat has real cultural significance: it brings people together to share good food. Some of my fondest memories were formed around my family's kitchen table, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, a festive turkey dinner will be on Canada's collective menu. Like most foods, meat transcends social boundaries. People of all persuasions can unite thanks to the harmonizing influences of filet mignon or pepperoni pizza.

For me, vegetarianism can't compete: tofu, tofurkey, toveal, and to-whatever are inadequate substitutes for meat. Don't get me wrong-I don't hate tofu. When prepared properly, it's quite tasty. But no matter how well it's made, tofu still tastes like tofu-not meat. It's not the same, so don't pretend it is.

Eating meat is not wrong. Our ancestors ate meat in order to survive and we've inherited their place at the top of the food chain. Like most people, I distinguish between humans and animals in questions of morality. I might risk my life to save a child, but never to save my neighbour's cat. So why should I apologize to the cow I'm having for lunch?

I don't have anything against vegetarianism. It's a popular lifestyle choice that can be made for any number of reasons, ranging from health concerns to spiritual fulfillment. If that's your preference, more power to you (and I mean that). But it's not for me, and I'm sick and tired of zealots turning vegetarianism into a moral crusade.

Believe it or not, I don't eat meat to be cruel. Yes, I've been known to club baby seals and feed puppies to sharks, but that has nothing to do with my diet. I'm sympathetic to many criticisms of the meat industry. Foie gras and veal (neither of which I eat) can only be produced through torture, so I understand why people oppose their production. I also support greater regulation and accountability in the meat industry.

A diet that includes meat is still compatible with the humane treatment of animals. The condescending and inflammatory propaganda of groups like PETA-who tried to exploit Tim McLean's murder for publicity this summer-is insulting to meat lovers and drives us away from the animal rights movement. Turning vegetarianism into an all-or-nothing proposition creates an unnecessary divide between those who eat meat and those who don't. The ways in which animals are raised and slaughtered should be improved to avoid needless cruelty, but my diet isn't responsible for an industry's shortcomings.

Alienating the majority has never been a recipe for progress. I'll support campaigns to improve the meat industry, but only with a compromise. Dear PETA: I stay out of your kitchen, so please stay out of mine.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's a vegan recipe even carnivores can enjoy

The St. Catharines Standard - Monday, October 6, 2008

St. Catharines resident Laurie Sadowski a runner-up in Canadian Living magazine's cook of the year competition


Laurie Sadowski tested her vegan recipe on a bunch of carnivores.

And they loved it.

That's precisely what the 25-year-old St. Catharines resident hoped would happen when she served the dish to her family.

Sadowski, a vegan, created the Tofu-Stuffed Eggplant Rolls with Mushroom Ragout for Canadian Living magazine's cook of the year competition.

She made it to the semifinals and in August went head-to-head with three other amateur chefs at a cookoff in Toronto.

Sadowski was a runner-up. The winner was Montreal-resident Tania Chugani, who first made her winning Anytime Seafood Bake when she was pregnant and craved lobster.

Finalists were chosen from hundreds of entries from home-based cooks across Canada.

Recipes and details of the competition can be found in the November 2008 issue of Canadian Living, on shelves today.

Another St. Catharines resident, Gennie Wright, made it to the semi-finals - the final 16 - with her Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia with Roasted Pepper and Arugula Salsa.

Sadowski, who writes occasionally for The Standard's Flavours section, has Celiac disease, a condition that prevents her from eating grains like wheat, and also has a food allergy to dairy. In addition to eating a vegetarian diet, she also avoids eggs and dairy.

"I wanted to make something that could be enjoyed by everyone," says Sadowski.

Her personal challenge was to come up with a novel use for tofu, and make it tasty enough that even the most devout meat-eater would find it tasty.

She decided to stuff the tofu mixture into an eggplant roll.

She also wants people whose diets are restricted to know that eating healthy, delicious food is still possible.

"You just have to have an open mind and get creative," she says.

Sadowski is in the process of completing her master's degree in musicology from York University. She plans to open her own business related to cooking and fitness.


Makes eight servings

Recipe by Laurie Sadowski

Canadian Living says: This fresh-tasting vegetarian dish impressed us because it is suitable for not only vegetarians, but also for vegans, as well as people who eat gluten-and dairy-free diets, making it perfect for gatherings of those with food allergies and intolerances. Nutritional yeast, such as that from Bob's Red Mill, can be found in health food and some grocery stores.

2 large eggplants (about one pound/500 grams each)
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) salt 2 tablespoons (25 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) pepper

Tofu stuffing:
2 tubs (each 12 ounces/375 grams) silken or soft tofu, drained
1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed or dried and reconstituted)
1/4 cup (50 mL) thinly sliced fresh basil
2 teaspoons (10 mL) nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

Mushroom ragout:
1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil (approx)
1 small red onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1 /2 pounds (750 g) mixed mushrooms (such as cremini, oyster, shitake and button), sliced
1 tablespoon (5 mL) dried Italian herb seasoning
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) each salt and pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) red or white wine
3 tablespoons (45 mL) tomato paste

Thinly slice eggplants lengthwise into eight slices each; sprinkle all over with salt.

Place in colander, pressing with plates and let stand for 30 minutes; pat dry.

Brush both sides of eggplant with oil; place on two large parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake in top and bottom thirds of 400°F (200°C) oven, switching and rotating sheets halfway through and turning eggplant once, until golden and softened, about 20 minutes.

Tofu stuffing: Meanwhile, place tofu in large cheesecloth-lined strainer and let stand for one hour, pressing to release as much water as possible.

Transfer tofu to bowl; discard water. Add tomatoes, basil and nutritional yeast.

Place eggplant on work surface. Place about one tablespoon (15 mL) tofu stuffing at end of each slice; roll up eggplant to enclose stuffing. Place rolls in 13x9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish. (Make ahead: cover and refrigerate for up to four hours.)

Mushroom ragout: In large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat; saute onion and garlic until softened, about three minutes.

Add mushrooms, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper; saute until mushrooms are softened, adding more oil if necessary, about eight minutes.

Add wine; cook, stirring, until evaporated. Add tomato paste and 1 1 /2 cups (375 mL) water and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about five minutes. Remove from heat. Spread over eggplant rolls.

Bake, covered, in 375°F (190°C) oven until heated through, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for five minutes.

Tip: To reconstitute the dehydrated tomatoes for this recipe, place about 10 in heatproof bowl. Add about one cup (250 mL) boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid to add to ragout instead of the water.