I Ate Live Food from a Pet Store for a Week
Long story short: We need to find viable, palatable, nutritious alternatives to traditional meat.
With that in mind I decided to replace one meal per day for seven days with sources of protein that can be purchased alive from a pet store.
At this point I should note that I’m not some granola here to chew your ear off about how fucked up factory farming is. In fact, I eat a lot of meat myself. I’m from northern Michigan, where there’s only one day in the Christian calendar year when most folks will intentionally choose fish, and I’m the type of heathen who doesn’t even abstain on that day. So this little experiment was done for my own sake, to know what sort of animal-based dishes I can look forward to when hamburgers are enjoyed exclusively by the one percent.
Before beginning the diet, I consulted my doctor to make sure I wasn’t about to spark someContagion-type situation. As I told him about my plan he put his chin in his hand and nodded politely, but seemed pretty unconcerned.
“Isn’t there anything I should be worried about?” I asked.
He shook his head with an offhand warning against eating mice intestines. “Make sure to take those out.”
“Sure,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to eat their poop.”
After a pause, and without irony, he told me where in town I could find the best price on regionally raised beef tenderloin.
And so, with my doctor’s blessing, I drove to the pet store to buy some groceries.
Day 1: Crickets Pancakes
Nutritional Facts: 1 serving equals 100g of crickets. Each serving contains 121 calories, 12.9g protein, 5.5g of fat
4 cups of flour
1 cup of roasted crickets
Place your crickets in the freezer for 1-2 hours, then boil briskly for 1-2 minutes. Strain and cool. Place clean and cool crickets on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.
Remove antennae and legs gently; they fall off easily. Crush collected crickets using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle until they are ground into small brown specks. Insufficient grinding will result in their small faces peering out at you from the batter L. Use flour in pancakes.
Crickets smell fishy—an aroma no doubt exacerbated by their placement in my local pet shop in thick plastic bins against a backdrop of blue fish tanks. In an effort to outwit my better instincts I told myself that the shrimp-like aroma wafting from my hotcakes was actually almonds.
Crickets taste like almonds, if you think of almonds, and shrimp if you think of anything other than almonds. This flavor is subtle, but when you place it in a pancake drenched in syrup, it becomes amplified. I recommend incorporating the cricket flour into a savory pastry, instead. Like nuts, they add a satisfying crunch.
The Mangy/Adorable Cats of Marrakech Need Names
The best thing about Marrakech, one of my favorite Moroccan cities, is its out-of-control cat population. I love cats and have a soft spot for deformed and mangy cats, so Marrakech is heaven for me—all of the city’s friendly people, delicious food, and beautiful rugs are cool too, but I’m really all about the cats. I like naming the cats and picking them up no matter how filthy they are. Here are some of the cats I’ve met in Marrakech.
I named this cat Paris. He has a cute, wonky eye. I met him in the Ourika Valley while hunting for textiles on a rainy day. He has tiny paws.
Here’s Moto. He was always lounging in the shade of this motorcycle.
This is Palace Cat. Every day she sat outside the palace guarding it. I never saw anyone sitting on this bench besides her.
This is Meowy. He’s named Meowy because he meowed a lot when I took his picture. Afterwards, he walked over to me to receive a good pet. Marrakech’s cats are typically friendly.
It’s uncommon for people to have cats as pets in Morocco—at least not in the medinas—but some cats will hang out at shops and become shop cats. You can usually find this cat getting sun at this art shop. The owners don’t mind him because he eats mice and attracts tourists.
This kitten is puny, especially compared to that big stone lion. There’s a shop I go to to get textiles, and going there is such a treat because cats and kittens rule the place. It’s called Mustapha Blaoui. It is the premier destination for Moroccan cat tourism.
These cats are tired after a long day. It was around 100 degrees when this photo was taken. So sleepy!
Inside the 2014 Ferret Fandango
After my hours spent in Gilbertsville, PA, a small town located on the outskirts of Philadelphia, this seems undeniable. It was evident as I walked from the parking lot full of minivans clad in ferret bumper stickers, strolled through the firehouse doors, and entered the judging ring. Here was a safe haven for people who owned not just one but, in some cases, upwards of 20 ferrets. Ferrents (ahem, ferret parents to common folk) gathered from various parts of the country, some driving as much as seven hours for the chance to show off their furry friends. You won’t find ferrets sauntering in dresses or ferrets jumping through hoops here—instead, nearly 100 ferrets and a strong, genuine community who have been coming together for more than 20 years. Yet somehow this is completely under the radar in comparison to cat shows and dog shows. Why? “I think it’s because a lot of people don’t realize how many ferret owners are out there,” explains Suzy Hahn, an attendee.
It wasn’t quite the Westminster for ferrets—that’s actually in August, at the Buckeye Bash in Ohio—but it was pretty damn close. Here is an inside look at the ferrets, festivities, and what the ferrents had to say at the 2014 Winter Ferret Fandango.
What brought you here today?
Suzy Hahn: We’ve been showing ferrets since 1996. We’re breeders—we’re the Four Paws Wrecking Crew, from Columbus, Ohio. We also do the photography—we’re Digital by Joe & Suzy—so we do the photography at the ferret shows. We’ve been doing this for quite a few years and really enjoy it. Enjoy meeting a lot of great people, enjoy seeing all the pretty ferrets. Oh, there are some really gorgeous ferrets around.
How many do you have?
We currently have 43 at the house.
How do you manage that?
They have their own two rooms of the house. They have their play areas, and you get them out and have to clean frequently. They are like any animal. You have to keep them clean, or they are going to smell. They do have a musky odor to them that fades if you get them fixed.
What drew you to ferrets?
Their personalities. Each one is so different. They are so individual. They will make you laugh and just constantly play. You could have a bad day at work, and they will just perk you up.
VICE: Hi, Sandra. How many cats are on the Catboat?
Catboat Sandra: We can house approximately 50 cats at a time. We have about 14 resident cats that are not adoptable. They were born outside and not socialized and will never be normal house cats. On the boat, they are relaxed with each other. Some of them will hide when it’s visiting hour. We neuter, vaccinate, and chip all the cats that come in. Sometimes, we also neuter cats that live outside. We think it’s very important that cats are neutered, because there are still so many stray cats. We also work with foster homes—most of the time one of our volunteers—if we have kittens with or without their mother.
—We took a visit to the world’s only floating cat sanctuary. Read all about it
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Celebrity Dogs of America
Last weekend, I attended America’s Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa, California, which attracts thousands of people for a host of reasons: they love pets, they volunteer with rescue organizations, or they’re interested in buying their cats some quality business cards. One of the biggest draws, though, was the celebrity pet event—a showcase of trained dogs and cats who act in popular TV shows.
Like normal, non-dog-dominated events, the expo had its own black market: shortly after I stepped into the long admission line with the rest of the non-celebrity pets and humans, I got approached by a sketchy, nervous-looking guy who mumbled at me, “You guys want to buy some passes?” Yes, this man was a Pet Expo scalper. I bought a pass.
Although I was primarily there for the celebrity pets, there was no shortage of other entertainment. While walking through the expo, I watched several rounds of dachshund racing, pet an 18-pound rabbit, and spotted more than a few dogs who were better dressed than I was.
Your Dog Is Full of Dirty Diseases
Illustration by Mimi Leung
Recent research has shown that sharing an ice cream cone with your dog or letting your cat nap on your face isn’t just unhygienic, it could kill you, shit-for-brains, so cut it out. A study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases in November reported that zoonotic infections—diseases transmitted between animals and humans—are on the rise, and some will make you so sick death will be almost certain.
These sorts of ailments are spread by parasites, fungi, bacteria, and viruses that originate not from pigeons, rats, and other varmint scum, but from within the warm bodies of our beloved household pets. According to Michael Day, lead author of the report and a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Bristol, “as dogs and cats have moved from the barn to the bedroom, the potential for disease spreading to humans increases.” Michael predicts that the next global health threat could be a pet-borne zoonotic superbug.
You Will Never Be as Rich as These Pets
When you’re about to be kicked out of your squat and are scanning the sidewalk for enough change to buy some ramen noodles, you always dream that someday you’ll somehow land in a fat pile of dough. Maybe it’ll be the lottery, or a personal-injury lawsuit, or a trust fund your parents forgot to tell you about. Hate to break it to you, but it’s never going to happen. You’re going to die a poor, sad schmuck.
But do you know who is richer than you? Yes, a bunch of fat right-wing white guys, pasty tech geniuses in hoodies, and shady Russian oligarchs, but also a lot of animals. Yes, animals! The following pets are all millionaires, and you’re still trying to use that expired student ID to get two bucks off at the movies on Tuesday night. And you know what? That’s just the way the world works. Might as well accept it and move on.
Gunther IV: Worth $373 million
This German shepherd—the world’s richest dog—inherited his money from his father, who was left $80 million in 1991 by his owner, German countess Karlotta Liebenstein. The other $300 million came from money his trustees made in investments. Yeah, he has people who work for him. He also owns Madonna’s old Miami mansion. How many of you are wondering if you can marry a dog?
Toby Rimes: Worth $80 million
The rich keep getting richer. Toby’s great-great-great-dogfather, the original Toby, was the pampered poodle of crazy rich lady Ella Wendel, who left him all her money when she died in 1931. The endowment, passed from dog to dog ever since, has been growing as your chances of getting a job dwindle.
Luke, Layla, Sunny, Lauren, and Sadie: Worth $30 million
Oprah Winfrey won’t even give us one of her favorite things, but her will reportedly provides a fortune for whatever dogs she leaves behind when she dies. That is, if Oprah is not immortal, which I find hard to believe.
The Cute Show - Syrian Hamsters
A photo of a fat, furry hamster sitting on a bed of pillows chowing down on some grain with a hookah in the background may seem like an inappropriate usage of one of the last remaining pages of an issue dedicated to Syria. But we want to make it clear that this ancient culture isn’t all guns and explosions and death and crackdowns by the secret police—there’s cute to be found, if you look hard enough. Syrian hamsters, also known as golden hamsters, are native to Syria (duh) and were first discovered in 1830 by British zoologist George Robert Waterhouse. These furry bags of joy love desert climates and stuffing as much food into their cheek pouches as possible—in fact, their Arabic name roughly translates as “Mr. Saddlebags.” Not joking. But don’t let their overwhelming cuteness fool you: These guys are extremely territorial and frequently get into scraps with neighboring hamsters or even other family members. And if baby hammies happen to come into contact with humans, their mother will kill and eat them since any unfamiliar scent is considered a threat. Even the smallest of creatures DO NOT fuck around over there. Damn, and this was supposed to be the cute part of the issue.
Considering the current hostile environment, we thought it best not to travel to the Syrian desert to find a hamster to rub against our faces, but you can buy them at basically any pet store. To see some other cute animals we were actually able to hang with, check out episodes of The Cute Show!
When Vice asked me to shoot Pets. Pasta. Shoes. Glasses. I graciously accepted and then proceeded to scratch my head for days.
1. I had no idea how we were ever in a million years going to find enough people with weird pets in a city.
2. And honestly, maybe this should even be number 1, but I didn’t “get it.” At pitch time the whole thing seemed a little Adult Swim-ish to me and I haven’t been into the pot since college. Sorry, hippie dad.
Here’s the thing, though. Andrea Rosen was pitching this story and I am a huge fan of hers. So not only was I not sure what was so funny, I was also insecure that my comedy palette wasn’t sophisticated enough to keep up. Andrea and Vice sitting together at the cool kids’ comedy table and me, as usual, the nerd with the balls peeking out of his Umbros.
Read the rest at Vice Magazine: BEHIND THE PETS, PASTA, SHOES, AND GLASSES - Viceland Today