Category: Science

In Defence of Clear Speech and Clear Thinking

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I had an art teacher who told me, *if you want to draw well, learn to draw with a sharpened HB pencil*. Charcoal, watercolours and soft pencils make it easy to hide your mistakes in the fuzzy edges. When you draw with the exact, unforgiving line of HB you can see every mark and every glaring error. There’s no drawing tool more honest: each slip »

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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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Eggs, period

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A conversational strategy used by many vegans is to attempt to disgust the person who is eating animal products by describing what it actually is. It is a fair point that one should be aware of what one eats. I honestly think it’s quite scary how oblivious people generally seem to be about their food. This ignorance is usually exposed when discussing »

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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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Making Healthy, Happy Vegans with Ginny Messina

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I recently saw a tweet about Ginny Messina pop up on the RVGN feed from Meghan O’Day: > @TheVeganRD Animal rights made me vegan. Evidence-based RDs help me be a healthy, happy one. Thanks! Many vegans could say the same. Ginny adopts a rigorous, evidence-based approach and delivers »

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Vegan Flu Shots: A Guide

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Flu shots can be a difficult topic in the vegan community. The internet has a lot of misinformation about [vaccines in general](http://rvgn.org/2015/05/09/anti-vax-and-veganism/), and flu shots in particular, which can make the topic controversial in the best of situations. In a vegan context, the conversation is »

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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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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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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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Interview with an Unnatural Vegan

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Swayze Foster presents the popular ‘Unnatural Vegan’ YouTube channel where her goal is to provide ‘a well rounded intellectually honest view of veganism’. I was excited to chat with another vegan who values reason and evidence. I hoped to gain some insight into what she does, and ask her about her perspective on the wider vegan »

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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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How the Health Argument Fails Veganism

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When President Clinton went (almost) vegan some years ago, my reaction to the news wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as it might have been. Seeing high-profile people (or anyone for that matter) go vegan for health reasons makes me nervous. First, President Clinton referred to his diet as “strict,” which is not an especially enticing word when »

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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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Vegan Atheology: the next big thing. A review of Kim Socha’s Animal Liberation and Atheism

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Kim Socha begins *Animal Liberation and Atheism: dismantling the Procrustean Bed* by introducing us to Procrustes and the ‘Procrustean Bed’ — a metaphor often employed to critique ill-formed arguments. Procrustes is a character from Greek mythology who invited travellers into his home - located conveniently near to an entrance to the underworld - and »

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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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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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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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