Category: Analysis

On Mentoring New Vegans: An Interview with Jean Bettanny

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Jean is the Coordinator of Vegan Outreach’s Mentoring program, which connects vegan-curious people with longtime vegans to support and encourage them throughout the beginnings of their vegan journey[*](http://veganoutreach.org/vegan-mentorship-program/ “Find out more about vegan outreach on their website”). I was interested to learn more about the program and get her perspective on the issues that face those of us involved in »

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Yes, Fish Feel Pain - and Yes, We Should Care

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A recent article authored by Marc Bekoff Ph.D. published in *Psychology Today* has reaffirmed a truth I’ve known for a long time, but one which seems to be under constant contention in the scientific community: that fish feel pain[*](https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201512/fish-feel-pain-lets-get-over-it-and-do-something-about-it?utm_content=buffer89516&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer “The article ‘Fish Feel Pain: Let’s get over it and do something about it’ offers a brief overview of recent essays published in the journal Animal Sentience”). Perhaps the foremost name in the field of fish sensory abilities is Victoria Braithwaite, author of *Do Fish* »

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Ask a Philosopher, Part Seven: Abortion

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*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. For this bonus instalment, we opened a Pandora’s box of controversy.* »

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The Story So Far: An Interview With Ian McDonald

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*[The Vegan Option]( http://theveganoption.org/)* is a UK podcast and radio show hosted by BBC trained radio producer Ian Mcdonald. Not to brag, I was a listener long before I got the chance to meet Ian. I enjoyed episodes on veganism in [science fiction](http://theveganoption.org/2013/07/05/science-fiction-doctor-who-hg-wells-swift-frankenstein-under-skin-planet-apes-trek/#more-924), some in-depth explorations of social science and biology and some controversial topics such as [vegan cats](http://theveganoption.org/2013/03/13/cats-evolution-diet-ethics-erin-red-eric-weisman-diet-lorelei-wakefield-andrew-knight/#more-899) and »

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An Appeal to Reason

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Arguments for veganism frequently get polluted with spirituality, pseudoscience and misinformation. If you’re already vegan, I hope this article gives you further insight into the logical support for veganism and helps you to bolster your reasoning. If you’re not vegan you’ll find the following is largely addressed to you. »

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The Hidden Cost of Donating to your Local Animal Sanctuary

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When making a donation to a charity or other non-profit, most people want to do good. It then likely follows that if we could just do some good, or do a *lot* of good, that we would prefer to do the most good possible given our limited resources. Many vegans are aware of the inefficiency of donations towards pet-focused charities. »

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They All Had Eyes: insight from former biomedical researcher Michael Slusher

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Medical testing is one of the first animal issues that I became aware of. In the early nineties there seemed to be posters leaflets and protesters everywhere showing gruesome images of experiments being conducted by scientists. These experiments were ‘cruel and unnecessary’, the literature informed me. How could I avoid the »

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When Empathy Fails Us

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I became a vegetarian because of empathy. At ten years old I realised the connection between the food I ate and the animals that were that food. When I saw uncooked beef burger patties at the supermarket I realised they were red and disgusting because they were made of meat. They had been my favourite food, and now I was »

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Celebrities, Weight Loss and Penn Jillette’s New Vegan Diet

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*Ginny wrote this article when prominent skeptic Penn Jillette[*]( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn_Jillette “Penn Jillette is most famous for his work with fellow majician Teller as ‘Penn and Teller’. He is an outspoken spokesman for atheism and skepticism, often appearing at conferences and publishing books on both subjects. Penn and Teller hosted ‘Bullshit!’ - a long running television show that aimed to debunk irrational ideas”) announced his dramatic weight loss[*](http://pennsundayschool.com/episodes/ “The most indepth discussion about Penn’s diet is featured on epidode 179 of his podcast. In shortm he has adopted Joel Furhman’s ‘Eat to Live’ diet which is predominantly plant-based”). Now, as he prepares to release a book about his diet experiences, her points are worth revisiting.* The vegan internet was abuzz over Penn Jillette’s recent weight loss and his current plant-based diet. But when it comes to celebrities, weight »

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Ask a Philosopher, Part Six: The Moral Boundaries of Hedonism

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*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. For the final insstallment, we delved into the realm of personal responsibility.* »

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Until Every Animal is Free: a Conversation with Saryta Rodriguez (Part Two)

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I was excited to get to talk to author Saryta Rodriguez about her new book [Until Every Animal is Free](http://www.amazon.com/Until-Every-Animal-Saryta-Rodriguez-ebook/dp/B01551MJ5C), recently published by [Vegan Publishers](http://veganpublishers.com/). Our conversation ranged from revolutions in medical testing to de-extinction with a few detours into ‘welfarism’ and other interesting areas. Because we had so much to talk about, this interview is split into two sections. »

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Until Every Animal is Free: a Conversation with Saryta Rodriguez (Part One)

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I was excited to get to talk to author Saryta Rodriguez about her new book [Until Every Animal is Free](http://www.amazon.com/Until-Every-Animal-Saryta-Rodriguez-ebook/dp/B01551MJ5C) recently published by [Vegan Publishers](http://veganpublishers.com/). Saryta is a compelling writer, and after reading her book I was left with a lot to think about and some questions which I took the opportunity to ask her in this interview. Our conversation ranged from »

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Ask a Philosopher, Part Five: False Dichotomies

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*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. This week, I asked him to compare the utility of deontological approaches and the logic of utilitarianism.* »

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Voin: In Search of a Truly Ethical Currency

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If you’re alive and read things, you’ve probably heard of cryptocurrency, or at least bitcoin. Opinions vary on the efficacy, future and utility of cryptocurrency[*](http://www.techradar.com/news/software/business-software/understanding-bitcoin-and-crypto-currency-1239504/1 “Techradar has a pretty good roundup of bitcoin’s history and possible future”), but few can deny it has the potential to change the financial world. Several prominent venture capitalists[*](http://www.coindesk.com/marc-andreessen-balaji-srinivasan-discuss-bitcoin/ “The venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has invested tens of millions of dollars in bitcoin. At the CoinSummit ‘fireside chat’, co-founder Marc Andreessen said ‘I think the relevant comparison point for bitcoin is 1993 or 1994 for the consumer internet’ (near the beginning of the video)”)[*](http://www.cnbc.com/2014/01/28/bitcoin-transformative-as-the-web-venture-capitalist-says.html “Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures said bitcoin could be ‘as big as the internet [in the early 90s]’, according CNBC”) and institutions[*](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/currency/11434904/bitcoin-revolution-could-be-the-next-internet-says-Bank-of-England.html “The Bank of England has said ‘creating [a digital currency] would entail creating a protocol for value transfer over the internet, akin to what [Tim] Berners-Lee did for information’”) are calling cryptocurrency the ‘next internet’ »

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How to Veganize Sam Harris

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For those who don’t know him, Sam Harris[*](http://www.samharris.org/ “Sam Harris’ website has links to all his projects”) is an author on philosophy, religion & atheism, rationality and a lot of other topics, and has quite a large following. In his latest podcast, Sam Harris talks with psychologist Paul Bloom about “the dark side” of human nature. One of the topics under scrutiny this time is vegetarianism/veganism »

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Exploding the myth of the Moral Underclass

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In my [previous article](http://rvgn.org/2015/07/31/oppression-olympics/) for RVGN, I spoke of how there are many people throughout the world who are unable to immediately convert to vegan living. Such people include those living in; mental health facilities, prisons, food deserts[*](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert “Wikipedia describes a food desert as ‘a geographical area where affordable and nutritious food is hard to obtain’”), and extreme climates where few edible plants grow. I have also, there as in nearly all of my works, expounded »

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Normal, Natural, Necessary and Nice

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I’m excited about the amount of work being done to understand why people continue to consume animal products. Instead of lecturing or leafleting, researchers are conducting studies to reveal the underlying motivations of people who eat meat, and then designing optimal strategies for communication… which may of course »

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Oppression Olympics and the Pitfalls of “Animal Whites”

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One of the most common criticisms anyone participating in nonviolent direct action on behalf of nonhumans is met with is, “Why don’t you do something about starving children instead?” Or: “Black people are being murdered by police, and THIS is how you spend your time?” Or: “Why are you talking about nonhuman slaves when there »

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Two Reasonable People Debate Veganism: Part Two

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As I said in my introduction to the [first half](http://rvgn.org/2015/07/08/two-reasonable-people-debate-veganism/) of this conversation I think that as a philosophical movement it is important that vegans engage with sensible and respectful criticisms of our position. If our position is a rational one being open to inquiry can only hone and strengthen our arguments. If our conviction that veganism is a useful method »

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Two Reasonable People Debate Veganism: Part One

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One of the principles of ‘reasonableness’ (and indeed good critical enquiry of any kind) is a willingness to accept and consider sensible and respectful criticism of your ideas. Our goal as critical thinkers is to move closer to the truth, and that’s only possible by refining and testing our conclusions about the world. Our goal as »

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Ask a Philosopher, Part Three: Who Deserves Moral Consideration?

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*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. This time, I asked him how we decide which kinds of things deserve moral consideration.* »

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Ask a Philosopher, Part Two: The Morality of Death

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*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. This week, I asked him about the morality of inflicting death upon sentient creatures.* »

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Anti-vax and Veganism

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*Angry Scientist Finds Uneducated Internet Comment and Delivers Badass Response*[*](http://themetapicture.com/angry-scientist-finds-uneducated-internet-comment-and-delivers-badass-response “Here is the tumblr post that inspired my interest, anger and - after some consideration - this article”). With a title like this how could I resist clicking on the link that a friend sent me recently? The aforementioned Internet comment was in fact a Tumblr post that implied that vaccinating children is ‘child endangerment and abuse’ and encouraged the reader to »

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Why Vegans Should Care About Wild Animal Suffering

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It’s often assumed that animal rights and environmentalism go hand in hand. However, one major rift between the philosophies arises from the problem of animal suffering in nature. While environmentalists typically wish to leave wilderness alone, animal advocates should support research into whether there are ways to reduce »

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Vegan for a reason

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We were impressed by the [*Baloney isn’t Vegan* leaflets](http://www.meetup.com/vegan-chicago/pages/Baloney_Detection/) that Dave D of Pythagorean Crank produced for Vegan Chicago[*](http://rvgn.org/2014/09/24/baloney-isnt-vegan-bringing-skepticism-to-vegan-events/ “We were so impressed that we published an article on them”). The *Baloney isn’t Vegan leaflets* are a distilled and veganised version of Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit[*](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World#baloney_detection_kit “The Baloney Detection kit is a set of tools presented in Sagan’s magnum opus, The Demon-Haunted World. The tools are summarised on the Wikipedia page “). They explain the scientific method, present some questions that you should contemplate when confronted with a »

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Questions for Spider Woman

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Lynne Kelly is a prolific science writer whose books demonstrate an insatiable curiosity and a rationalist approach to the world. In *Skeptics Guide to the Paranormal*[*](http://www.amazon.com/Skeptics-Guide-Paranormal-Lynne-Kelly/dp/1560257113 “The Skeptic’s guide to the Paranormal is an informative and entertaining introduction to the paranormal world, the tools of skepticism and critical thinking. It is available on Amazon”) Lynne’s passion for the natural world is clear: >Science is awesome – from the atoms to the universe via the human brain, there is so much we still don’t know »

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Vegan Tattoos

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I’ve been noticing a lot of tattooed vegans recently[*](https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=tattooed+vegans&es_sm=91&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=Rz7OVKnNI-yP7AasoIFg&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1225&bih=576#tbm=isch&q=vegan+tattoo “To give you an idea of the sort of tattoo i’ve noticed, here’s a google image search for ‘vegan tattoo’”). At vegan events and in vegan cafes I’ve seen vegans with tattoos of vegetables, animals and most obviously the word ‘vegan’ emblazoned on their skin. I’m not suggesting that my noticing tattooed vegans proves that there actually are a lot of tattooed vegans, or that the number of vegan »

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The Ethical Dilemma of Frans De Waal

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The other day I was in a discussion panel after a talk by world renowned primatologist Frans De Waal[*](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frans_de_Waal “Frans De Waal is is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. Author of many popular books exploring primate social behaviour and how it relates to us human primates. For an overview of his life and work check out his Wikipedia page”) in Brussels. I have great respect for De Waal and his work. He has a positive view on humanity, and refuses to be overly afraid of anthropomorphizing when analyzing animal behavior. Moreover, he actively promotes his »

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Vegan Stories

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>After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need most in the world. — Philip Pullman[*](http://clubs-kids.scholastic.co.uk/clubs_content/7922 “Quoted here, amongst other places, in an ‘Interview with Philip Pullman’ – Scholastic Book Club”) I was listening to the journalist and author David Aaronovitch talk on the subject of conspiracy theories and I detected an interesting note in a conversation he recounted that took place between himself and a Labour MEP, that ended »

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Do we have a generation who are unaware of postmodernism?

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As an ethicist, my work falls outwith the realms of classical science. But by using the scientific method whilst working within the non-physical, I have a unique appreciation for the problems caused by postmodernism. Indeed, if you don’t actively take an interest in both the scientific method and philosophy, you may not even know »

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Religion and Vegan Advocacy

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Should animal advocates use religion to promote veganism? The majority of religious belief depends on the idea of hierarchy, chiefly the belief that we humans are given value by and should humble ourselves before someone or something that is ostensibly “greater than us” — be that a deity, deities »

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Humanity in Research: an Interview with the Dr Hadwen Trust

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I had a chance to interviews Dr. Kay Miller, Head of Operations for UK-based charity The Dr Hadwen Trust, a biomedical research charity that funds alternatives to using animals in research. I took the opportunity to ask her some questions relating to the work they fund and and gain some insight into the future of non-animal models in biomedical »

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Flight From the Body: A Psychoanalysis of Veganism

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Veganism is often defended but rarely described. By way of correction, the following is a tentative, psychoanalytic exploration of the meaning behind an individual’s choice to be vegan. Interpreting human nature through the lens of Freudian psychoanalysis is to make the error of being about 100 years out of date. It also requires »

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Beware the Avalanche of Anecdata

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Most vegans have had the experience of a casual conversation veering off into a debate or argument. In fact I suspect most people have had this experience, but if you’re a vegan it happens all the time. You may be describing a pair of shoes you covet but can’t quite afford, or perhaps recounting an experience of a family dinner… and before you »

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On Meat Eating and Rationality: Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris

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A late professor of mine once said: “if you want to quickly anger even the most reasonable person and make sure that he or she is no longer thinking rationally, start a conversation about eating meat.” I have found that this - the part about not thinking rationally about meat eating - applies even to the most rationally thinking people. Even the people »

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Organic Isn’t Vegan

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You can hardly swing a bunch of kale *without* hitting a vegan product that is certified organic[*](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_certification “An overview of the organic certification process is available on Wikipedia”) these days. Why is this, I wonder? I mean, we should all know by now that organic farming is just like regular agriculture except it uses what is “natural” as its measure. What is naturally derived, without humans, isn’t a guarantee of safeness »

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Tryptophan, milk and depression

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People who abandon plant-based diets often say that they suffered from depression as vegans. One common belief is that vegans can’t get adequate tryptophan, an essential amino acid. Tryptophan is needed to make the neurotransmitter serotonin and low levels of serotonin are linked to depression. In the book The Vegetarian Myth »

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Baloney isn’t vegan: bringing skepticism to vegan events

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You’ve probably seen the [Baloney Isn’t Vegan](http://www.meetup.com/vegan-chicago/pages/Baloney_Detection/) flyer produced by [Vegan Chicago](http://www.meetup.com/vegan-chicago/). Inspired by Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit[*](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World#baloney_detection_kit “The Baloney Detection kit is a set of tools presented in Sagan’s magnum opus, The Demon-Haunted World. The tools are summarised on the Wikipedia page.”)[*](http://www.michaelshermer.com/2009/06/baloney-detection-kit/ “Michael Shermer’s version of The Baloney Detection Kit (on RDF TV), presented by The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science”), developed over a period of months[*](http://www.plantbasedpeople.com/showthread.php?t=17600 “A thread on PlantBasedPeople.com dedicated to developing the flyer, circa 2011”) and professionally designed, the intention of the project is to promote the fundamental skills of critical thinking to a vegan audience. In the words »

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Frankenfood: the science of genetically engineered crops

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There is a lot of controversy in the vegan and animal rights community around genetically engineered foods that is often clouded by scaremongering, misconceptions, half-truths, and outdated information. Since I first started blogging about genetic engineering several years ago I have gone back to school to pursue a degree in »

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Skepticism could save the animal rights moment, but will it? I’m sceptical.

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Skeptical thinking is the asset within scientific and rational progress which has achieved more than any other. It’s that ability to objectively analyse evidence, no matter how compelling, and ask whether it’s reliable, whether it works or even just whether it’s completely made up. In animal rights, it’s that nagging doubt that presents itself when »

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Plant Feels and Straw Vegans

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Every vegetarian or vegan has probably heard someone lament the feelings of plants. Coming from meat-eaters, it’s hard to understand the point of this claim. It is a classic *tu quoque*[*](http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Tu_quoque “A logical fallacy (literally, ‘You too!’ — pronounced ‘too kwoh-kway’) that occurs when it is assumed that an argument is wrong if the source making the claim has itself spoken or acted in a way inconsistent with it”) fallacy. Vegans, generally, maintain that “Animals are capable of suffering”, to which an omnivore might respond, “Well plants have feelings too!” It’s the »

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Of Aliens and Vegans

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Many people who report having experienced abduction by aliens give horrifyingly graphic descriptions of violence and physical violation. The treatment of animals by humans, which I intend to demonstrate parallels and informs the abductees’ reports, is real and perhaps equally horrifying. It includes violence that would also be deemed »

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Was Adolf Hitler a Vegetarian?

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I don’t recommend actually doing this, but if you were to scroll down far enough through the comments of any article about veganism or vegetarianism you would be very likely to find someone smugly asserting that ‘Hitler was a vegetarian’ – supposedly illustrating that vegetarians aren’t as morally superior as they »

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Is the Dalai Lama a vegetarian?

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The Dalai Lama is often mistakenly thought of as the leader of both Buddhism and the Tibetan diaspora but he is neither of these things. The Dalai Lama is a very influential monk in one school of Tibetan Buddhism and has recently resigned from his position as Tibetan head of state, leaving political decisions to a government »

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