BBB Warns of Door-to-Door Meat Sellers

The Better Business Bureau has just posted an article warning consumers about the danger of purchasing meat from door-to-door salesmen. If you need to be told, maybe you shouldn’t be in the gene pool. Link.

Intelligence and Empathy in Vegetarians

A neurological study published last week showed more empathy-related brain function in vegetarians than in meat eaters when both groups were presented with scenes depicting suffering. PsychologyToday.com has published two blog entries this week: one about intelligence in vegetarians, and the other in response to the empathy study.

In evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa Kanazawa’s post on intelligence, he cites a study showing that vegetarian women have a childhood IQ on average 7 points higher than the childhood IQ of omnivorous women. Vegetarian men are pegged with a childhood IQ 10 points higher than the childhood IQ of omnivorous men. Kanazawa’s blog post offers some strong analysis explaining why these IQ differences may exist.

The empathy study didn’t really grab my interest, nor did it grab social psychologist Daniel R. Hawes, and he nicely explains why:

Whatever the case, showing that Vegetarians are possibly more empathetic to the suffering of others is much less interesting to me than simply exploiting another opportunity of pointing out the sheer ridiculousness of current meat eating (and production) practices. Besides the well-documented health benefits of a Vegetarian diet, current rates of meat consumption are clearly incompatible with for our own long-term survival as a species. Hence, vegetarianism might be much more of an act of compassion to yourself than it is towards others.

Interesting findings, but it’s tough to apply this information to activism.

God Made Animals for Testing

A high ranking official in Malaysia just told the Associated Press:

God created animals for the benefits of human beings. That’s why he created rats and monkeys&#0133We cannot test on human beings. This is the way it has to be. God created monkeys, and some have to be tested.

Still no word on what God had in mind when he created idiot government officials. (Via Hawthorne.) Link.

E. Coli & Salmonella Cost U.S.A. $3 Billion per Year

The Economic Research Service has calculated the total cost to America for all E. coli 0157 and salmonella cases. Turns out that between medical care costs and lost productivity, E. coli comes in at nearly half a billion dollars a year, and salmonella—which is less lethal but far more common—costs more than $2.6 billion.

Naturally, the meat industry pays only a tiny sliver of these costs, and typically only when they lose a lawsuit. The rest of it is paid for by all Americans, in the form of higher priced health insurance. This estimate leaves out the physical and emotional suffering that accompanies an annual death toll of about 450 people. Link.

Happy 50th Anniversary to the American Vegan Society!

I wish I had heard about this in time to promote it beforehand: The American Vegan Society celebrated its 50th Anniversary today. Every vegan owes a debt to the Dinshah family for keeping the candle burning during the dark ages. Link.

Graham Hill on Becoming a Weekday Vegetarian

Not the greatest ‘go veggie’ talk you’ll ever witness, but still a nice four-minute video to show omnivores who, hearing veganism framed as an all-or-nothing choice, will use the concept as an excuse to do nothing. This talk is also a great reality check for vegans—as Graham Hill makes clear, some omnivores know the vegan argument backwards and forwards, but aren’t willing to become entirely vegan. Taking half-measures like those Hill advocates is a heckuva lot better than continuing to eat meat three times a day. Plus, you can’t argue against this observation:

If all of us ate half as much meat, it would be like half of us were vegetarians.

But it’s even better than that: if all omnivores ate half as much meat, the number of people inspired to go all the way to a vegan diet would no doubt be enormous. And there would hardly be a restaurant anywhere that wasn’t ridiculously vegan-friendly.

Hill’s water stats seem way off (see Appendix B of Meat Market for my analysis of that topic), and he doesn’t address the cruelty associated with milk and eggs. I’d like to see Hill advocate becoming a “weekday vegan” instead of “weekday vegetarian,” since this would be a more sensible and consistent position. But this is still a worthwhile talk that will move listeners who are unwilling to entertain a “go vegan” argument. Link.

Reminder: Please Visit Vegan.com for All Your Amazon.com Purchases

It seems every time I talk with a close friend or a regular Vegan.com reader, they somehow haven’t realized that they can support Vegan.com with every Amazon.com purchase. Just visit Vegan.com first, and follow any link to Amazon, and every item you buy on that visit—books, food, kitchen appliances, consumer electronics, whatever—will generate a commission to Vegan.com.

I try to make Vegan.com advertising as minimal and unobtrusive as possible, and every single one of your Amazon.com purchases through Vegan.com enables me to keep this party going.

The Salt Lobby

The New York Times has a terrific piece about the food industry’s persistent, effective, and slimy efforts to fight off government attempts to regulate salt. This article offers some great insights into how heavy salt use has become so deeply entrenched in the processed foods industry:

Salt also works in tandem with fat and sugar to achieve flavors that grip the consumer and do not let go — an allure the industry has recognized for decades. “Once a preference is acquired,” a top scientist at Frito-Lay wrote in a 1979 internal memorandum, “most people do not change it, but simply obey it.”

It boils down to the fact that the food industry cares about as much about your health as does the tobacco industry—and this dynamic holds true even for much of the natural foods industry. If you care about your health, the only sensible response is to eat little or no processed foods. Link.