There Is Nothing Pretentious About Being a Vegan
A couple of days ago, I received a very angry email from someone in reference to an article I wrote about a restaurant. In the article, I mentioned that I wasn’t a huge fan of eating in pretentious restaurants. I also mentioned that I am a vegan. This did not sit well with the young man who emailed me. “You’re going to make fun of people for being pretentious when you’re a fucking vegan?” he wrote. “Fuck off.”
I went back and looked at the comments on the post in question. He was not alone in his sentiment.
One commenter, a man named Dante Thompson, told me that I was a “dick” for ordering vegan food. He also called me a “fucking hipster.”
Another guy named Riley Ulrich wrote, “You are a fucking piece if [sic] shit and you should be fired. Everybody hates you.”
The implication that I am a pretentious eater is odd to me. Above is an image of what I had for lunch today. A slightly miserable-looking faux-meatball sub. For breakfast, I had Doritos. For dinner, I intend to go to Taco Bell. Animal products aside, I eat like a particularly fussy child (or, at the very least, an adult skateboarder).
When I hit my 20s, I started trying to eat a salad or some other such healthy bullshit for at least one meal a day, because that feels like something a grown-up should do. But my heart isn’t in it. In an ideal world, I would eat pretty much nothing but meat and cheese served in or on some kind of gray carbohydrate.
But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where the best-tasting kind of foods are literally made from death and suffering.
This is why I don’t eat meat or animal products. Because meat and animal products are a giant fucking bummer. I don’t need to tell you where your meat and dairy come from, because you’ve already seen it. And you know it looks like a fucking miserable nightmare of seared-off beaks, bolts through brains, and twitching corpses on dirty floors.
And we can all agree it’s miserable, right? Regardless of whether or not you consume the end products of the meat and dairy industries, surely we can all admit that mass, industrialized death is not all that nice? There’s a bunch of other stuff I could go into here about greenhouse gases caused by the meat industry, or contaminated water run-off, or meat causing colon cancer. But that would be dishonest, because I didn’t consider any of that stuff when deciding to become a vegan.
I’m not saying that, because I try to avoid hurting animals, I’m somehow more ethical than you. Nobody is ethical. Humans are cancer. Everything would be better off if we were all dead. I’m typing this on a fossil-fuel-powered laptop that contains conflict minerals and was, I assume, manufactured in conditions that look vastly different from the conditions that I am working in right now.
I’m also wearing a shirt that cost $6. I’m not totally sure how it was manufactured, shipped to the US, and sold to me, but I’d imagine someone is getting shit on pretty heavily somewhere along the chain if the whole thing cost $6. And how awful is that? I’m wearing a shirt that probably made multiple humans miserable as it was being created, and almost certainly harmed the planet in a fairly major way, and I don’t even know where it came from or how it was made. There is no way of living in the modern world without doing morally reprehensible things on a daily basis.
What I’m trying to say is that I am a piece of shit. And so are you. And I don’t care what you eat. You can eat whatever, whenever, and however the fuck you want. As previously discussed, beyond the whole murder thing, I barely even give a shit what I eat. I definitely don’t have time to worry about what you put in your mouth.
Animals Can Consent to Sex with Humans, Claims Human Accused of Running Animal Brothel
In April 2010, ex-cocaine smuggler Douglas Spink briefly dominated headlines when police raided his property in Whatcom County, Washington. Inside, they found a Welsh tourist making use of what the press has since described as an animal brothel, replete with tail-less mice covered in Vaseline. Overnight, Spink became the poster boy for the bizarre, brutal world of bestiality.
But according to Spink and journalist Carreen Maloney—whose upcoming book, Uniquely Dangerous, deals with his case—that’s not quite how things went down. Maloney believes, based on court records, that the Vaseline mice, for instance, were a fabrication created by the local Humane Society, and Spink says the ordeal is a manifestation of a bigoted assault on him for being an outspoken defender of heterospecies relationships, sometimes known as zoophilia.
Spink doesn’t consider himself just another animal fucker. He describes himself as a counter-surveillance researcher (at Baneki Privacy Labs), a heterospecies writer and thinker, and species equality activist who cut his teeth in frontline direct action in the 1990s with Earth First.
VICE recently spoke to Spink, in the final stretch of his current sentence, about his views on heterospecies identity, zoophobic bigotry, and our revilement of inter-species intimacy as a natural result of human solipsism and aggressively ecocidal policies.
VICE: First off, are you OK with being called a zoophile, or do you use a different term?
Douglas Spink: I tend to use “heterospecies” rather than “zoophile.” I see it as the difference between calling someone a faggot and calling them gay.
I do not think that I’m terribly good as a categorical representative of heterospeciesists or any particular class. I’m a bit of an outlier, even in the communities where I feel most at home. A BASE-jumping, Chicago MBA-carrying, counter-surveillance tech-developing Asperger’s-diagnosed oddball. Proudly so.
I have chosen a path of dissent from the default zoophobic stance in our current social sphere, and as a result I’ve been targeted and imprisoned. It’s a thought crime issue, not an action-based issue. My words are considered criminal, and enormous effort has been expended to censor me.
Can you tell me how you first got engaged in heterospecies identities and issues?
I was raised in a horse-centric environment, having learned to ride at age two. I was (and am) able to empathetically understand things from the horse’s perspective. In biology class, I was presented with some counter-intuitive claims of “facts that were decidedly incongruent with what I knew from my firsthand immersion alongside equine companions, like “Animals were devoid of any interest in sex or sexuality, and bred purely based on instinct.”
As a young teenager, I was able to learn about the (then new) horrors of factory farming from nonprofits like PETA. I became a lifelong (if imperfect) vegetarian, and my interest in activist work in support of non-human wellbeing kicked into high gear. Bring those threads together, and you get the question of heterospecies relations between humans and nonhumans.
Have You Watched Our Profiles Series Yet?
In our attention-deficit throw-away society, very seldom is there room for the little guy (or gal) to say their piece in the spotlight. Our new series, Profiles by VICE, aims to change that. Profiles by VICE is a weekly distillation of our eccentric and idiosyncratic world. In each episode we take an intimate look at issues, people, and communities that burrow deep into the underbellies of society.
If this piques your interest—and we can’t see why it wouldn’t, unless you’re one of those humans who’s not interested in other humans, in which case we don’t know what to tell you other than, “Get your head out of your ass”—watch the series trailer here, and check out this handy episode guide:
- Slut-Shaming Preacher: We travel to Arizona to meet up with campus preacher Brother Dean Saxton, a student at the University of Arizona, whose “You Deserve Rape” sign has caused outrage among the student body.
- An Inside Look at the Exotic Animal Trade: We travel to Ohio to rescue a cougar, then to Texas for an exotic livestock auction and undercover visit to a gaming ranch where the animals are sold and hunted for up to $15,000 a piece.
- Reserection: The Penis Implant: We travel to Miami (obviously) to speak to one of the leading penis doctors in the country and find out what it scosts to get your penis operated on.
- My Homie Sells Homies: We travel to New York City’s forgotten borough, Staten Island, to find out how a guy named Sugarman created a small vending-machine empire—and how he subsequently lost it, one quarter at a time.
- Blind Gunslinger: We travel to North Dakota to meet Carey McWilliams, the first completely blind person in the US to acquire a concealed-carry permit.
- Prison, Bling Ring, and Redemption: We travel to Los Angeles and talk to Alexis Neiers about her struggles with addiction, her criminal involvement in the real-life Bling Ring, and her new life as a sober mother.
- Teenage Bullfighters: We travel to Merida, on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, to meet Michelito Lagravere, who at 14, became the youngest bullfighter ever.
Profiles by VICE airs every Monday on VICE.com.
Activists Couldn’t Stop 10,000 Dogs from Being Eaten in China Last Weekend
Over the last week, there’s been some pretty intense media coverage of China’s Dog Meat Festival, which has become something of a tradition over the last two decades. As the name suggests—and much to the dismay of all the people who see dogs as friends rather than food—tens of thousands of dogs are slaughtered and eaten each year at the event, which takes place in the city of Yulin, Guangxi province.
I was in Yulin on Saturday, when locals once again raised glasses loaded with lychee wine to the heavens and tucked into bowls full of freshly roasted, fried and boiled dog.
Pet-lovers across China and the rest of the world have been quick to lament Yulin’s apparently boundless appetite for puppy flesh, and several Chinese celebrities have made online pleas to bring the festival to a halt. However, locals are reluctant to give up their annual gathering. When I spoke to one female vendor in the downtown Dong Kou meat market, she told me she’d lost count of the number of dogs she’d sold in the last week but guessed it was well over a hundred a day—business has rarely been better.
Shandai, from animal protection group the Guangdong Shoushan Volunteer Center, reckoned that previous estimations of 10,000 dogs being sacrificed for the festival are too low, claiming the figure is more like 40,000. (Plus 10,000 cats, in case you’re not really a “dog person”)
Walking around the city, the presence of animal rights protesters seemed to have resulted in an unapologetic backlash. Locals filling their baskets with freshly chopped paws and tails were defensive over their dog-eating customs, one woman in the market declaring indignantly, “I’m not forcing them to eat dog, so they can’t force me to stop.”
“Even more people are eating dog this year,” complained Pian Shan Kong, an animal activist from Guizhou who has been observing the festival for three years. “As outsiders come to protest, locals are spurred on to resist.” Kong is currently holding four rescued pups in his Yulin hotel room—the guy who sold him them reportedly got angry when he realized they weren’t destined for the dinner plate, and threatened to slice all four open on the spot if Kong couldn’t match his inflated asking price.
VICE Profiles: Backyard Exotics
Wildlife trafficking is estimated to be a $19 billion per year global business, surpassed only by black-market sales and trafficking of drugs, humans, and firearms.
In the United States, regulation of private ownership of exotic animals is determined by each state, allowing for loopholes and oversight. Animals are bought and traded through auctions, backyard breeders, illicit online sales and more. The industry is growing right in our backyards.
VICE travels to Ohio to rescue a cougar, then to Texas for an exotic livestock auction and undercover visit to a gaming ranch where the animals are sold and hunted for up to $15,000 a piece.
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.
Animal Rights Activist Sentenced to 30 Months in Jail for Having Bolt Cutters in his Car
An animal rights activist with a long history of activism—and an equally long rap sheet—was sentenced to 30 months in jail for having bolt cutters in the back of his Prius.
Kevin Olliff and Tyler Lang were driving through rural Illinois on August 15, 2013, at about 1 AM when they were pulled over by police. The cops say they stopped them because the brand-new green Prius had only temporary dealer plates. But rather than let them off with a warning, police asked to search the car.
Olliff and Lang refused to consent to the search and quickly realized that this wouldn’t be a normal traffic stop. After police separated them into two squad cars, Lang heard one officer on the police radio say of Olliff, “He’s on the terrorist watch list.”
Police brought out drug-sniffing dogs, and not surprisingly, they say the dogs smelled something (Lang says “the hardest drug in the car was caffeine”). When police searched the car, they found, among other items, bolt cutters and wire cutters. The two were charged with “possession of burglary tools,” a felony.