VEGINATION: Ethical Dilemmas for Vegetarians

Vegetarians face moral dilemmas daily. Is it okay to buy salad at a burger joint that uses rain forest beef? If I put a "Go Veg" pin on my leather jacket, does the garment achieve karmic neutrality? Here's Vegination's guide to ethically sticky questions.CHICKEN: Some people, amazingly, think vegetarians eat chicken. A chicken is a bird, and 98% of the dead ones in stores lived their short lives in crowded, unsanitary misery, kept alive by constant doses of veterinary medicine. The white meat from a chicken, roasted with skin, gets 44% of its calories from fat. Turkey's just as bad. Vegination recommendation: dead bird's ain't good food.FISH: Fish act as pesticide magnets, developing concentrations of poison up to 100,000 times higher than the water around them. The trawlers of Tyson and their ilk kill and dump 60 billion pounds of non-edible fish per year, turning a delicate ecosystem into a sea of rot. Vegination recommendation: swim with the fish, but keep them off your dinner dish.DAIRY: Sure, it comes from a cow, but they don't kill the cow, right? For a long time, we the authors eschewed meat but drank milk and ate cheese. Then we learned about sulfa drugs and bovine growth hormone. The American Dietetic Association tells us that you DO NOT need dairy products to maintain proper nutrition. Vitamin D fortified soymilk and cereal with B-12 will do just as well, without the animal fat. Vegination recommendation: unless you're a calf, cow milk's not a natural.FUR: Fur farms raise animals under inhumane conditions just to satisfy human vanity. Vegination recommendation: if you have to think twice about fur, go eat rain forest beef until you drop dead.LEATHER: Uh oh. Vegetarian Times magazine, in its October, 1994 article "Whether Leather?" summarizes the dilemma. The cow which ended up as your coat was destined to be a burger whether you bought its hide or not. The alternative to leather is petroleum based synthetics, and petroleum companies are major polluters. Still, when you buy leather, your cash goes to the meat magnates, and every leather coat on the street legitimizes the slaughter. Vegination recommendation: if you do wear leather (and we, umm, still do) at least walk around looking guilty all the time.SILK AND HONEY: Some hard-core vegans won't use these and many other animal-based products. Vegination recommendation: free the bees today! But not in my back yard.FAST "FOOD": Some large fast fat chains now offer salads, baked potatoes, and other technically vegetarian dishes. They make a profit from every salad, and that profit may translate into another acre of Amazon rain forest or American woodland leveled for feedcorn planting or grazing. On the other hand, perhaps going to the saturated fat merchants and buying something healthy will encourage them to expand their non-meat menus. Vegination recommendation: if forced to visit a fast fat franchise, moo loudly until forcibly removed.FOOTBALL: Huge beef-fed brutes with names like Bam and Tunch run around with something called a "pigskin". The players covet and revere the "pigskin". Is this out of respect for the noble and intelligent animal which gave its life for the game? Vegination recommendation: do they still make Nerfs?STOLEN MILK CRATES: Can a vegetarian store socks in milk crates? Does the presence of the crates in a vegetarian home legitimize the exploitation of cows? Vegination recommendation: every crate liberated for sock storage is one less at the disposal of Bessie's oppressors.MEAT ROCK: If Meat Loaf or the Meat Puppets come on the radio, can a vegetarian listen to the song? Vegination recommendation: Meat Loaf songs should be turned off immediately, but the name "Meat Puppets" is ambiguous enough to warrant further study.BEER: The beer we are drinking right now contains water, malt, rice, corn, hops, and -- another gasp!- yeast. Is yeast an animal, vegetable, or mineral? We checked, and it's a fungus. Vegination recommendation: beer is technically okay, but judging by what it has done to this article, it should be handled with care... * * *Delicious Carrot CakeIngredients:2 cups lightly packed, shredded raw carrots 1 cup raisins 1 1/2 cups each sugar and water 1/3 cup 100% vegetable margarine 1 cup unbleached white flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon each salt, ground cloves, and ground allspice 1 teaspoon each ground nutmeg, and ground cinnamon 1 cup whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup chopped walnutsPlace carrots, raisins, sugar, water and butter in a 3-quart pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat; continue to simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, sift together white flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon; stir in whole wheat flour. Stir dry ingredients into cooled carrot mixture until flour is moist. Stir in vanilla and walnuts. Spoon into a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake in 350 F oven for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 servings.[From Sunset Vegetarian Cooking, copyright 1981, Sunset Publishing Corporation, Menlo Park, CA.]


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