Cover image of The Vegan Option - Vegetarianism: The Story So Far
(26)
Society & Culture
Philosophy
News

The Vegan Option - Vegetarianism: The Story So Far

Updated about 13 hours ago

Society & Culture
Philosophy
News
Read more

In 2016-7, Ian McDonald tells one epic tale - the backstory to today's vegetarian and vegan movements. From the Ganges delta to the hills of New England, from the iron age to the present day, voices challenge the idea that other animals exist soley for humans. Discover philosopher kings, rebel poets, and forgotten heroes.Stories from vegan perspectives. Great radio that just happens to be vegan. This is The Vegan Option.

Read more

In 2016-7, Ian McDonald tells one epic tale - the backstory to today's vegetarian and vegan movements. From the Ganges delta to the hills of New England, from the iron age to the present day, voices challenge the idea that other animals exist soley for humans. Discover philosopher kings, rebel poets, and forgotten heroes.Stories from vegan perspectives. Great radio that just happens to be vegan. This is The Vegan Option.

iTunes Ratings

26 Ratings
Average Ratings
24
0
0
1
1

Fascinating and well done

By Someone other than Joey - Feb 06 2018
Read more
Please keep it coming!

Outstanding research.

By Larkpench - Dec 22 2017
Read more
It is easy to think of vegetarianism as a 20th Century trend, or more precisely, something particularly rooted in the Aquarian Age and later. In this podcast, Mr. McDonald winds his way through the long history of abstention from animal products, the motivations of early vegetarians, interviewing many interesting people on the way. This is quite produced and well-written and well-worth anyone's time, whether you are a vegetarian (or vegan) or not.

iTunes Ratings

26 Ratings
Average Ratings
24
0
0
1
1

Fascinating and well done

By Someone other than Joey - Feb 06 2018
Read more
Please keep it coming!

Outstanding research.

By Larkpench - Dec 22 2017
Read more
It is easy to think of vegetarianism as a 20th Century trend, or more precisely, something particularly rooted in the Aquarian Age and later. In this podcast, Mr. McDonald winds his way through the long history of abstention from animal products, the motivations of early vegetarians, interviewing many interesting people on the way. This is quite produced and well-written and well-worth anyone's time, whether you are a vegetarian (or vegan) or not.
Cover image of The Vegan Option - Vegetarianism: The Story So Far

The Vegan Option - Vegetarianism: The Story So Far

Latest release on Sep 13, 2017

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail about 13 hours ago

Rank #1: VegHist Ep 1: Ahimsa. Mahavir, the Jains, and other śramaṇas; with DN Jha, James Serpell, Richard Gombrich, & GC Tripathi; at Veerayatan, Rajgir, India

Podcast cover
Read more

In the Ganges plain in Northen India in the middle of the first millennium BCE, the idea of “ahimsa” – non violence – emerges.

Episode 1: Ahimsa

Ian visits the intellectual hub of iron age India – the Kingdom of Magadha. He discovers a subculture of vagabond philosophers that developed two world religions; and the vegetarian order of monks and nuns who became the torchbearers of ahimsa.

Play or download (41MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.

Contributors:

Prayer Halls and Museum at Veerayatan, Rajgir

Locations:

Recording diary

I’d only been told about Rajgir the day before arriving. I was staying at the refounded University of Nalanda for a couple of nights, where I interviewed two people who lived in the block in which I was staying. Institutions like that are fantastic for my research. But one interviewee – Deepak Anand – told me the real place I needed to go to was Rajgir. My desk research had led me to places like Vaisali – which will turn up via Buddhist texts in episode two – but at Rajgir, modern Jains celebrated and could talk about what happened there two and a half thousand years ago.

Finding guests with good English is obviously helpful. So it was gratifying to learn that the Veerayatan Institution at Rajgir was led by Jain sadhvis (nuns) who were very used to communicating with foreign and English-speaking audiences, because of their outreach overseas.

When I got there, I discovered all the English-speaking sadhvis were overseas doing outreach. So I had very little time to find both a learned sadhvi, and a way of interviewing her. An English-speaking physician, a glaucoma consultant from the hospital on the other side of the site, helped me out and acted as interpreter; and I’m very grateful to her indeed. Dubbing a non-English speaking guest is a lot more work (Yasājhe’s words were retranslated carefully and then read by actress Sandeep Garcha) but I’m glad now that the first words you hear from a guest in the series are in Hindi.

This left me not much time to get to the station for the train back to Patna – later Magadha capital and current Bihar state capital.

The background noise at the start of the show was from two different journeys: a crowded auto-rickshaw in Mahabodhi, and that train I took back to Patna. Both were travelling the kinds of routes Śramaṇas would have taken within ancient Magadha.

Credits

Particular thanks to Dr. Smita Bagrecha for interpreting Yasājhe at short notice. The featured pic is public domain painting of Mahavira, Rajasthan, circa 1900.

Bibliography

Where there are no established Anglicisations (eg “ahimsa” for “ahiṃsā”), I have rendered Indic languages in Latin letters with marks called diacritics, loosely following the IAST standard explained at Jainpedia. For example “ś” is a soft “sh”, and a bar over a vowel lengthens it.

1630116 DV884EHE items 1 chicago-author-date author asc 1 http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/ Alsdorf, Ludwig, and Hanns-Peter Schmidt. 2010. The History of Vegetarianism and Cow-Veneration in India. Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies. London: Routledge. 1 Balbir, Nalini. 1984. “Normalizing Trends in Jaina Narrative Literature.” Indologica Taurinensia 2: 25–38. Basham, Arthur Llewellyn. 1951. History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas: A Vanished Indian Religion. London: Luzac & Company. Bronkhorst, Johannes. 2000. “The Riddle of the Jainas and Ājīvikas in Early Buddhist Literature.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 28: 511–29. https://www.academia.edu/3285845/The_riddle_of_the_Jainas_and_%C4%80j%C4%ABvikas_in_early_Buddhist_literature. Dundas, Paul. 2002. The Jains. 2nd ed. Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices. London ; New York: Routledge. Gombrich, R. F. 2009. What the Buddha Thought. Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs. London: Equinox Pub. Haussleiter, Johannes. 1935. Der Vegetarismus in der Antike. A. Töpelmann. Nattier, J. J., and C. S. Prebish. 1977. “Mahasamghika Origins: The Beginnings of Buddhist Sectarianism.” History of Religions. An International Journal for Comparative Historical Studies 16 (3): 237–72. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=12877906. Jha, D. N. 2002. The Myth of the Holy Cow. London; New York: Verso. Smith, Brian K. 1990. “Eaters, Food, and Social Hierarchy in Ancient India: A Dietary Guide to a Revolution of Values.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion LVIII (2): 177–206. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/LVIII.2.177. 2

Jan 22 2016

Play

Rank #2: Vegan Cheese: Casein, Casomorphins, and the Daiya Redwoods Vegusto Taste Test

Podcast cover
Read more

Vegan Cheese

What is the secret of making cheese without dairy that stretches and melts?

Is there a cheese addiction?

What’s the past, present, and future of vegan cheese?

And if you brought together the leading vegan cheeses from Europe and the Americas – like Redwoods Cheezly, Vegusto, and Daiya – that aren’t meant to be available in the same country, let alone the same pizza – who would win?

AudioPlayer.setup("http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/simple-audio-player/player/player.swf", { width: 290 });

AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_5964", {soundFile: "http://archive.org/download/TheVeganOptionVeganCheese/TheVeganOption-VeganCheese.mp3", titles: "Vegan Cheese", autostart: "no", loop: "no", animation: "no", remaining: "yes", noinfo: "no", initialvolume: "70", buffer: "5", encode: "no", checkpolicy: "no", rtl: "no", width: "479", transparentpagebg: "no", bg: "E5E5E5", leftbg: "0xBED3BA", lefticon: "333333", voltrack: "F2F2F2", volslider: "666666", rightbg: "0x155C06", rightbghover: "0xCCCCCC", righticon: "0xCCCCCC", righticonhover: "0x155C06", loader: "0xBED3BA", track: "FFFFFF", tracker: "DDDDDD", border: "CCCCCC", skip: "666666", text: "333333"});

(28 min) Play or download (26 MB MP3(other formats) (via iTunes)

Spoiler warning: the results of the taste test are below the fold.

Casein and Casomorphins

Neal Barnard summarises the case for regarding cheese as a narcotic 2003 article in PCRM Good Medicine Magazine, Breaking the Food Seduction:

At first, the researchers theorized that it must have come from the cows’ diets. After all, morphine used in hospitals comes from poppies and is also produced naturally by a few other plants that the cows might have been eating. But it turns out that cows actually produce it within their bodies, just as poppies do. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are apparently produced in cows’ livers and can end up in their milk.

But that was only the beginning, as other researchers soon found. Cow’s milk—or the milk of any other species, for that matter—contains a protein called casein that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins. A cup of cow’s milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese.

Traces seem unlikely to have a psychoactive affect, so we did not mention morphine or codeine in the show.

Casomorphins, on the other hand, are real and unambiguous; Diana examined the literature, discussed them in the show, and will also blog about them shortly.

Eva Batt’s Vegan Cheese Recipe

I followed a recipe for vegan cheese taken from a 1985 update of “What’s Cooking” by Eva Batt (1973), and you can see Diana posing with the 1980s vegan cheese. The recipe – soy flour, soy margarine, and yeast extract – represents the era more than it does Eva.

Eva Batt played a leading role in British veganism in the sixties, seventies, and eighties, including the “Open Door” film mentioned in our Born Vegan show and, of course, cookbooks.

How to Make Vegan Cheese Stretch

I sent interview requests to half a dozen companies, including Daiya and Redwoods, and was glad to speak with Mark, the Director of Vegusto UK, to hear his views on where the analogue food movement is going. Though it didn’t get a mention in the show, he’s vegan.

Dr Jonathan Gordon consults at Glasgow Consulting in Rhode Island, USA.

You might also enjoy “Cracking the Code: Making Vegan Cheese taste Cheesier” on NPR’s Food Blog, The Salt.

The Vegan Cheese Taste Test

We chose Redwoods Super Melting Cheezly (from the English Midlands, owned by Heather Mills) as the best UK melting vegan cheese, and Daiya Mozzarella style shreds as Diana’s favourite in the US.

London Vegan boutique Vx had recently recommended the new Vegusto No-Moo Melty, so we added that too.

This took place in May 2011; so this show was over a year in the making.

Method

Diana made two pizzas on storebought crust- tomato mushroom and spinach pesto, and I added the cheese in three concentric circles. From inside to outside, I put Redwoods Cheezly, Vegusto, and Daiya on one pizza and reversing the order on the other pizza. It’s important to be fair. All ten guests scored the pizzas out of 10. Let no-one tell me I don’t know how to party.

Results

The average scores for the whole group were: Daiya 3.2, Redwoods 3.9, and Vegusto 4.1. The four vegans ranked them the same, but with higher scores (5.3; 6.0; and 6.3).

Conclusions:

Use vegan cheese as a seasoning rather than a bulk ingredient, particularly with those who eat dairy cheese. Don’t forget flavour. It’s steadily getting better – this unknown cheese from Switzerland is actually reasonably good, and the Daiya Jack Style Wedge went down well with Diana’s mother and her husband.

Diana mentioned Gwendolyn Mather’s third prize with a vegan Daiya/Tofutti sandwich in the Grilled Cheese Invitational; Gwendolyn blogged about this for Compassion over Killing.

Thanks

Our thanks go to Robb Masters (who coincidentally reviewed vegan cheese for the London Vegan Campaigns vegan pledge) for the music, to our friends at the garden party for tolerating the taste test, and to Mark Galvin and Jonathan Gordon for talking with me.

And to the people who make vegan cheese. I still like it.

Jul 04 2012

Play

Rank #3: Veganism in Politics: Chris Williamson MP, Cathy Jamieson MP and Kerry McCarthy MP with questions from Dennis Kucinich and Maneka Gandhi

Podcast cover
Read more

AudioPlayer.setup("http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/simple-audio-player/player/player.swf", { width: 290 });

AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_5916", {soundFile: "http://www.archive.org/download/TheVeganOptionVeganPoliticans/TheVeganOption-VeganPoliticians.mp3", titles: "Vegan Politicians", autostart: "no", loop: "no", animation: "no", remaining: "yes", noinfo: "no", initialvolume: "70", buffer: "5", encode: "no", checkpolicy: "no", rtl: "no", width: "479", transparentpagebg: "no", bg: "E5E5E5", leftbg: "0xBED3BA", lefticon: "333333", voltrack: "F2F2F2", volslider: "666666", rightbg: "0x155C06", rightbghover: "0xCCCCCC", righticon: "0xCCCCCC", righticonhover: "0x155C06", loader: "0xBED3BA", track: "FFFFFF", tracker: "DDDDDD", border: "CCCCCC", skip: "666666", text: "333333"});

(40 min) Play or download (20MB MP3) (other formats) (via iTunes)

Veganism in Politics 1: Worldwide

We profile the handful of people who combine veganism with politics at their country’s national level. I went to the UK Parliament to meet Britain’s three vegan MPs. What was their path to politics? And I took with me questions from their counterparts in the rest of the world.

Press the play button to find out. (Or, better still, subscribe via iTunes or your podcast catcher of choice.)

The British Vegan MPs

Chris Williamson (@ChriswMP on twitter) has an official site at www.chriswilliamson.org, but also find: Chris Williamson on WikipediaChris Williamson at They Work for You ; Chris Williamson on BBC Democracy Live

Kerry McCarthy (@KerryMP)’s official site is www.kerrymccarthymp.org. Also: Kerry McCarthy on Wikipedia; Kerry McCarthy at They Work for You ; Kerry McCarthy on BBC Democracy Live

Cathy Jamieson (@cathyjamieson) is officially at CathyJamieson.com, but also: Cathy Jamieson on Wikipedia ; Cathy Jamieson at They Work for You ; Cathy Jamieson on BBC Democracy Live

The American Congressman

Dennis Kucinich (@repkucinich) has two official sites: kucinich.us and, for his constituency, kucinich.house.gov. He’s also Dennis Kucinich on Wikipedia.

The Indian MP

Maneka Gandhi chairs People for Animals. She is, obviously, also Maneka Gandhi at Wikipedia.

As Diana mentioned in the show, Maneka advocates veganism and sometimes identifies as such, but admits she doesn’t always live up to it.

References for science

I referred to studies by the large long-term EPIC-Oxford study, in particular their 2009 paper on cancer incidence. The team have a particular interest in vegetarians and vegans, and I reported their results in my 2008 podcast short at Verdant Reports.

Diana talked about sex differences between men and women with respect to vegetarianism and veganism, and levels of testosterone. Her sources were:

  • (for vegetarian sex differences) Beardsworth, A., & Bryman, A. (1999). Meat consumption and vegetarianism among young adults in the UK: An empirical study. British Food Journal101(4), 289-300. doi:10.1108/00070709910272169
  • (for vegetarian sex differences) Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., Resnick, M. D., & Blum, R. W. (1997). Adolescent vegetarians: A behavioral profile of a school-based population in Minnesota. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine151(8), 833.
  • (for veganism being equally distributed between sexes) Stahler, C. (2006). How many adults are vegetarian. Vegetarian J4.
  • (for vegan men having the same testosterone levels as omnivores)  Key, T. J. A., Roe, L., Thorogood, M., Moore, J. W., Clark, G. M. G., & Wang, D. Y. (1990). Testosterone, Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin, Calculated Free Testosterone, and Oestradiol in Male Vegans and Omnivores. British Journal of Nutrition64(01), 111-119. doi:10.1079/BJN19900014

Nov 01 2011

Play

Rank #4: Peace on Earth: will we ever have it? With Peter Singer and Gary Francione discussing Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature”

Podcast cover
Read more

AudioPlayer.setup("http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/simple-audio-player/player/player.swf", { width: 290 });

AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_5672", {soundFile: "http://www.archive.org/download/TheVeganOptionPeaceOnEarth/theVeganOption-PeaceOnEarth-nb.mp3", titles: "Peace on Earth", autostart: "no", loop: "no", animation: "no", remaining: "yes", noinfo: "no", initialvolume: "70", buffer: "5", encode: "no", checkpolicy: "no", rtl: "no", width: "479", transparentpagebg: "no", bg: "E5E5E5", leftbg: "0xBED3BA", lefticon: "333333", voltrack: "F2F2F2", volslider: "666666", rightbg: "0x155C06", rightbghover: "0xCCCCCC", righticon: "0xCCCCCC", righticonhover: "0x155C06", loader: "0xBED3BA", track: "FFFFFF", tracker: "DDDDDD", border: "CCCCCC", skip: "666666", text: "333333"});

(20 min) Play or download (18MB MP3) (other formats) (via iTunes)

Peace on Earth?

This season of peace and goodwill, in our special Christmas show, we ask whether there will ever be peace on Earth.  Steven Pinker, author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, says that human violence has decreased over the centuries – but does that include violence to other animals? Diana asks him. What does “peace on Earth” mean to Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation and grandfather of the modern animal movement? What does animal rights iconoclast Gary Francione think of Steven Pinker’s theory? Listen to find out.

Steven Pinker and “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined”

Professor Pinker’s book has gathered a lot of media coverage, including a review by Peter Singer in the New York Times where he calls it “supremely important”, as well as a more skeptical one in Scientific American. There’s more about Steven Pinker’s core thesis, about human intraspecies violence, here:

You can find him on the web at:

Although were not able to get him on the show directly, he did exchange email with us. We didn’t have time to quote his answers about violence towards other animals in full on the show, so here they are, interspersed with Diana’s questions in precis:

Q: It’s not clear from the section in “Better Angels …” how you might or might not engage with animal ethics personally. Can I ask if you boycott any animal products or any products tested on animals? (i.e. are you vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, totally omnivorous or do not eat things like veal or foie gras).

Q: How would you respond to the criticism that improvements in animal welfare have only taken place insofar as they are economically advantageous for producers and thus do not really represent a decrease in violence toward animals? (e.g. under the US Humane label animals are still castrated without anesthetic, male chicks who cannot lay eggs are routinely ground up alive and numerous other welfare changes that would increase cost are not being suggested even in Western Europe). 

I think I’ll keep my own practices out of the discussion, and respond only to the other questions. With any humanitarian advance, there are always cynics who insist that no one (or at least, no one in some demonized group that the cynic has in mind, in this case, evil corporations)ever acts out of true morality, that there always must be some self-serving interest (the Quakers opposes slavery because they were bankers who financed the industrial revolution; the British stopped the slave trade because their French rivals were getting rich from their Caribbean plantations, and so on). These always strike me as far-fetched, not just because we know (both from evolutionary psychology and experimental game theory) that people often incur costs for moralistic reasons, but because the particular explanations often seem more strained than the moralistic one, which is more parsimonious. I sense a dogmatic attitude in which it is simply inconceivable that any human (or any Western power, or any corporation, etc.) could act morally, so any deflating explanation, however conspiratorial, is accepted.

But the more important point is that I don’t care. My book is about the decline of violence, not a putative increase in virtue. I don’t think the chickens (or the slaves) care about whether their better treatment was motivated by an altruism that is pure in the eyes of God or other moralistic judges, as long as they suffer less. And if we set up institutions that allow people to be less cruel and destructive as they pursue their interests, that is a sign of progress–God help us if every advance in human welfare depended on Christ-like levels of moral purity.

Regarding your answer of whether we are “better humans,” again, that is not my question, if you’re asking a moral question. If you’re asking the biological question of whether our genomes have changed in a way that makes our nonviolent motives more powerful, I consider this question in chapter 9, but end up rejecting it. So yes, we need to teach it to each new generation so our progress doesn’t go away–that is why education, and socialization, are important.

Q: I am interested in an evolutionary perspective on why the animal movement has progressed slowly compared to other movements advocating nonviolence. You mentioned “meat hunger” and the fact that animals are not our kin and cannot negotiate social contracts with us. Do you have any other ideas why, from an evolutionary perspective, rational understanding of animal sentience (at least the vertebrates we eat) has been so slow to change human behavior?

I think you’ve identified the main reasons that animal rights have progressed more slowly than other rights. A more basic reason is that animals lack language (which influenced Descartes). Our sympathies tend to lie with animals like dogs (and to a lesser extent cats) that respond nonverbally but positively to human interaction.

Gary Francione

What Pinker doesn’t understand is most of the advances towards supposed more humane exploitation of non-human animals – he doesn’t appreciate that for the most part, most of those efforts result in the more efficient exploitation of animals.

Gary Francione  (@GaryLFrancione)  is a distinguished professor of law and scholar of law & philosophy at Rutgers Law School, New Jersey, USA. More information from and about Professor Francione is available here:

We spoke for much longer than I had time to include in the show. Here is my full conversation with Gary Francione.

(Player for the Gary Francione interview removed from post because it interfered with the podcast feed, but you can still listen on archive.org – Ian 12.01.27)

Peter Singer

Ultimately one day we would stop using animals for food …

Professor Peter Singer (@PeterSinger) is Professor of Bioethics at Princeton, New Jersey, USA, and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He’s best known as the author of Animal Liberation. More information is at:

He recently appeared in the hundredth episode of “Our Hen House“, where Jasmin Singer also asked him about “Better Angels of Our Nature”.

Here is Diana’s full conversation with Peter Singer.

(Audio player for this conversation removed from post because it interfered with the podcast feed, but you can still listen on archive.org – Ian 12.01.27)

Credits

Stephen Pinker’s audio answer is an excerpt from ‘The Better Angels of our Nature: The Decline of Violence in World History and Its Causes’ by Professor Steven Pinker. Recorded October 2011, courtesy of the London School of Economics. That work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales License on the common understanding that this show is a collection, and it is non-commercial by being offered for free. Our thanks to LSE for permission, and Stephen Emmott for helping us clear rights.

Our theme is written by digital media artist Robb Masters (@idiotech).

We used Skype for VoIP conversations. Diana gathered the vox pops at the Animal Aid Christmas Fair.

Dec 20 2011

Play

Rank #5: Judgemental: with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Dr Julia Minson, and Marla Rose

Podcast cover
Read more

Judgemental!

Those judgemental vegans. A charge you’ve probably heard (or perhaps even uttered).

But what is “judgement”? How does it really affect the relationships between vegans and others? What can scientists say about it? And how do vegan activists react to the charge?

Dr Julia Minson explains the science.

Marla Rose explains exactly how Bacon Loving Hipsters Can Kiss Her Vegan Ass.

And Colleen Patrick-Goudreau discusses the psychology and experience of “judgemental vegans”.

AudioPlayer.setup("http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/simple-audio-player/player/player.swf", { width: 290 });

AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_9713", {soundFile: "http://archive.org/download/TheVeganOptionJudgemental/theVeganOption_judgementalB.mp3", titles: "Judgemental", autostart: "no", loop: "no", animation: "no", remaining: "yes", noinfo: "no", initialvolume: "70", buffer: "5", encode: "no", checkpolicy: "no", rtl: "no", width: "479", transparentpagebg: "no", bg: "E5E5E5", leftbg: "0xBED3BA", lefticon: "333333", voltrack: "F2F2F2", volslider: "666666", rightbg: "0x155C06", rightbghover: "0xCCCCCC", righticon: "0xCCCCCC", righticonhover: "0x155C06", loader: "0xBED3BA", track: "FFFFFF", tracker: "DDDDDD", border: "CCCCCC", skip: "666666", text: "333333"});

(30 min) Play or download (29 MB MP3(other formats) (via iTunes)

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

The compassionate cook is a leading vegan advocate across several media, including podcasts (VegNews favourite podcast 2011). Another podcast host – Erin Grayson of Red Radio – has a tattoo that asks what Colleen would do.

Just in case you haven’t heard of her, she’s the author of several vegan cookbooks, the producer of the 30 Day Vegan Challenge online course, and a speaker who is famous for espousing veganism in a spiritual and non-judgemental way.

She relates Julia Minson’s research to her experience as an advocate, and discusses how she tries not to be judgemental – even at barbecues.

Marla Rose

Marla Rose practices a range of advocacy.

Her Vegan Feminist Agitator blog and Bacon Loving Hipsters Can Kiss My Vegan Ass Facebook group offer vegans laughs; she’s written a book about a 15 year old vegan superhero with empathy superpowers; and when we called her home was in the midst of preparations for the outreach event Chicago Veganmania.

Diana asks her if her humour is, perhaps, judgemental: and Marla describes how she resented the smug vegan who convinced her to drop animal products.

Dr Julia Minson

Julia Minson is a postdoctoral fellow in social psychology at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

She researches how attitudes change and “moral minorities”, a term which aptly defines vegans. She’s also a vegetarian.

Julia talks with Diana about her research into attitudes to vegetarians, and how insulting vegetarians might make you more likely to adopt their views.

Diana also discussed “Anti-social punishment” with Colleen. This is the phenomenon of punishing people for being too nice. (The more usual kind of punishment, such as jailing bank robbers, is “pro-social”.)

References:

Thanks

Our thanks go to Robb Masters for the music; and a hat tip to Our Hen House for originally mentioning Julia’s study in their own podcast.

Production Note

During our chat with Colleen, we played her Dr Minson’s interview and summarised Marla’s; and then I edited it together. The guests don’t sound like they’re on VoIP because this month all our guests sent us recordings of their side of the conversation. Thanks!

Oct 06 2012

Play

Rank #6: VegHist Ep 2: The Middle Path. On Siddharta Gautama, and Buddhism; with Rev Varasambodhi Thera, Peter Flugel, and Richard Gombrich; at Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya, India

Podcast cover
Read more

Ian travels to the tree where the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment, and explores the paradox of his early followers’ attitudes to vegetarianism.

Episode 2: The Middle Path

Of the many monks of the ancient Indian kingdom of Magadha, only one has become a global household name. Buddhism will spread ahimsa to the ends of the earth, and inspires many millions of vegetarians today.

And yet the oldest Buddhist texts seem to portray the Buddha eating meat. Hear commentary from theologians from both vegetarian and meat-eating interpretations of Buddhism, the insights of world-leading historians, and a dramatisation of the moment in early texts where vegetarian Jain activists clash with Buddhist meat-eating.

Play or download (43MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.

Contributors:

Rev Dr Varasambodhi by the enclosure housing the trunk of the Mahabodhi tree and the Buddha’s throne.

Readings

  • The story of General Siha of Vaiśālī, and the rule of Seen/Heard/Suspect is in the Vinaya Pitaka (“The basket of discipline”) VI.31. Translation by I B Horner 1951
  • The story of Siddharta Gautama’s search for enlightenment is from the Jātaka Sutra of the Sutta Pitaka. Translation by Henry Clarke Warren 1896
  • Gautama Siddharta’s proclamation upon enlightenment is from the Mahāvastu (“great story”) 286. This is the only reading from a text that’s not part of the Pali canon followed by Theravada Buddhists, but from another early Buddhist collection that developed alongside it. Translation by J J Jones 1952
  • The “middle path” speech is from sermon in the Deer Park (at Sarnath, where the Buddha preached for the first time). Translation by Piyadassi Thera 1999

Notes on the Ājīvikas

I was fascinated to find out there was a whole other religion, at the time as important as the Buddhists and the Jains, that’s now almost forgotten, called the Ājīvika. But the evidence we have is fragmented and contradictory – so it was an area where one spends much time but grows only in uncertainty.

Even the small picture I give in the episode only hints at the patchwork of information we have about them.

The very word “Ājīvika” for example, is often used in Buddhist texts in a similar sense to “heretic” – capturing every śramaṇa other than Buddhists and Jains. (US Vyas used the word in the heretical sense in the full interview; but I only used his references to the movement of Makkhali Gosal, which is consistent with the later use. It would have been too confusing to introduce different meanings.)

The “educated guess” I mention is that of Arthur Llewellyn Basham, the twentieth century Welsh Indologist. His book “The Wonder that was India” was the leading popular history of the subcontinent. He did his PhD thesis on the Ājīvikas in the 1940s, and 65 years after publication (Basham, 1951) it is still the standard reference work.

Another view I didn’t have time to include was Johannes Bronkhorst, who quite radically reinterpreted the mentions of Ājīvikas at the turn of the century (Bronkhorst, 2000). He argues that the early Buddhist texts named rival groups not according to doctrine but according to appearance. Most academics assume “Niganthā” in Buddhist texts means the Jains. (The word “Jain” didn’t emerge for many centuries.) So in his view, the words “Ājīvika” and “Niganthā” in Buddhist texts describe (respectively) naked rival orders and clothed rival orders; with the former term including not just the “true” Ājīvikas, but the Jain followers of Mahavir (who would have been naked) and the latter including the Jain followers of the teachings of Parshwa, the preceding tirthankara (Jain inspired teacher, literally “ford-maker”) who had lived centuries before.

(We don’t know if the Jains cohered as a single tradition during Mahavir’s lifetime.)

So, as interesting as this all is, all this tells us is how little we know about this period.

(We can be confident that the Niganthās in the argument at Vaiśālī that our actors portray are Jains because Mahavir is mentioned earlier in the story. Just in case you were wondering.)

Though I did manage to learn that the Ājīvika leader is, once you translate both names into their meaning, basically called Gandalf. (Those years poring over Tolkein’s fictional etymology finally pay off.)

Credits

Music by Robb Masters. The actors were Sandeep Garcha, Chetan Pathak, and Selva Rasalingam.

Bibliography

Where there are no established Anglicisations (eg “ahimsa” for “ahiṃsā”), I have rendered Indic languages in Latin letters with marks called diacritics, loosely following the IAST standard explained at Jainpedia. For example “ś” is a soft “sh”, and a bar over a vowel lengthens it.

1630116 DV884EHE items 1 chicago-author-date author asc 1 http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/ Alsdorf, Ludwig, and Hanns-Peter Schmidt. 2010. The History of Vegetarianism and Cow-Veneration in India. Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies. London: Routledge. 1 Balbir, Nalini. 1984. “Normalizing Trends in Jaina Narrative Literature.” Indologica Taurinensia 2: 25–38. Basham, Arthur Llewellyn. 1951. History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas: A Vanished Indian Religion. London: Luzac & Company. Bronkhorst, Johannes. 2000. “The Riddle of the Jainas and Ājīvikas in Early Buddhist Literature.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 28: 511–29. https://www.academia.edu/3285845/The_riddle_of_the_Jainas_and_%C4%80j%C4%ABvikas_in_early_Buddhist_literature. Dundas, Paul. 2002. The Jains. 2nd ed. Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices. London ; New York: Routledge. Gombrich, R. F. 2009. What the Buddha Thought. Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies Monographs. London: Equinox Pub. Haussleiter, Johannes. 1935. Der Vegetarismus in der Antike. A. Töpelmann. Nattier, J. J., and C. S. Prebish. 1977. “Mahasamghika Origins: The Beginnings of Buddhist Sectarianism.” History of Religions. An International Journal for Comparative Historical Studies 16 (3): 237–72. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=12877906. Jha, D. N. 2002. The Myth of the Holy Cow. London; New York: Verso. Smith, Brian K. 1990. “Eaters, Food, and Social Hierarchy in Ancient India: A Dietary Guide to a Revolution of Values.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion LVIII (2): 177–206. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/LVIII.2.177. 2

Mar 01 2016

Play

Rank #7: Born Vegan: from 1976 UK TV to the Hebrew Israelites, three very different vegan childhoods

Podcast cover
Read more

Born Vegan

What is it like to grow up vegan in a non-vegan world? We hear three stories of vegan childhood:

  • Rosemary- appeared as a baby on a BBC programme about veganism in 1976
  • Elishama  – grew up in the Hebrew Israelites, a religious community trying to rebuild the lifestyle of Eden
  • Andrew – the son of veteran animal activists
AudioPlayer.setup("http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/simple-audio-player/player/player.swf", { width: 290 });

AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_7867", {soundFile: "http://archive.org/download/TheVeganOptionBornVegan/theVeganOption_BornVegan.mp3", titles: "Born Vegan", autostart: "no", loop: "no", animation: "no", remaining: "yes", noinfo: "no", initialvolume: "70", buffer: "5", encode: "no", checkpolicy: "no", rtl: "no", width: "479", transparentpagebg: "no", bg: "E5E5E5", leftbg: "0xBED3BA", lefticon: "333333", voltrack: "F2F2F2", volslider: "666666", rightbg: "0x155C06", rightbghover: "0xCCCCCC", righticon: "0xCCCCCC", righticonhover: "0x155C06", loader: "0xBED3BA", track: "FFFFFF", tracker: "DDDDDD", border: "CCCCCC", skip: "666666", text: "333333"});

(25 min) Play or download (20 MB MP3) (other formats) (via iTunes)

Open Door

In the 1970s, the BBC’s Community Programmes Unit helped different groups produce episodes of Open Door to present their perspective. In 1976,  The Vegan Society presented”To a Brighter Future for All Life” (BFI listing) featuring stalwarts like Kathleen Jannaway and Eva Batt who were involved in the first years of the organised vegan movement.

This 1976  issue of The Vegan describes the Open Door show and the large response to it. Also featured is an article by Rosemary’s parents titled “Veganism can be cheaper too”. In an age without video recorders or YouTube uploads, it offered a blow-by-blow account of the show. Here is Rosemary’s appearance:

The Bland Family – Jenny, Harold, and baby Rosemary – were shown under the hazels in the garden. They told of the healthy diet they had been following for ten years and which they found helped them to enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities – cycling, camping, canoeing, walking, as well as carrying on their working live.

Harold explained with the help of charts that the vegan diet is very economical in terms of land usage; wheat yielding  ten times as much protein per acre as beef and three times as much milk (allowing for the biological factor). He maintained that Britain could become self sufficient in food and that, over 40% of the world’s grain harvest was being wasted by being fed to animals. Jenny maintained that they found the diet very interesting as well as cheaper and easier to prepare.

Activist Kim Stallwood credits Open Door with convincing him to go vegan. Portland blogger @lovemotionstory says she’s “kind of in love with this vintage, BBC series”. These reactions follow someone posting Open Door: To a Brighter Future for All Life in full on YouTube. Rosemary is at the start of part 2.

Hebrew Israelites

Elishama was born in the African Hebrew Israelite community in Dimona, Israel. Their plant based diet is part of a wider belief system about recovering the lifestyle (and lifespans) of Eden; it includes wool, silk, and honey.  Founder Ben Ammi cites Genesis and says that because man was created from dirt, dirt can bring forth all we need to be healthy [Video].

They run the chain of Soul Vegetarian restaurants; the AV Club interviewed Yohanna Brown, co-founder of one of the first.

Nutrition

If you’ve come here looking for nutrition information, you might want to go instead to:

Credits

Thanks to all contributors, not just Rosemary, Elishama, and Andrew but also Mair, Daniel, and Hedi, who we didn’t have time to feature. Thanks also to the people who helped put us in touch: Brian Jacobs, Harold Bland, Elishama’s aunt Danielle, and Angie.

Particular thanks to Andrew’s family for tolerating us: his wife Hannah and children Florence (on our opening credits) and Tom (playing in the background).

The film is (c) BBC; a minimum clip is used in the show under fair use, on the basis that talking with its youngest cast member three decades later counts as comment.  Robb Masters, aka Idiotech, wrote our theme.

(Listener Aimee Daniels did, rightly, point out that we’re all born vegan. But we couldn’t think of a better title.)

May 01 2012

Play

Rank #8: Rebel Poet: Benjamin Zephaniah discusses the life of Abul ʿala Al-Maʿarri (أبو العلاء المعري), the medieval Arab vegan philosopher poet

Podcast cover
Read more

AudioPlayer.setup("http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/simple-audio-player/player/player.swf", { width: 290 });

AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_3682", {soundFile: "http://www.archive.org/download/TheVeganOptionRebelPoet/TheVeganOption_RebelPoet_1.mp3", titles: "Rebel Poet", autostart: "no", loop: "no", animation: "no", remaining: "yes", noinfo: "no", initialvolume: "70", buffer: "5", encode: "no", checkpolicy: "no", rtl: "no", width: "479", transparentpagebg: "no", bg: "E5E5E5", leftbg: "0xBED3BA", lefticon: "333333", voltrack: "F2F2F2", volslider: "666666", rightbg: "0x155C06", rightbghover: "0xCCCCCC", righticon: "0xCCCCCC", righticonhover: "0x155C06", loader: "0xBED3BA", track: "FFFFFF", tracker: "DDDDDD", border: "CCCCCC", skip: "666666", text: "333333"});

(24 min) Play or download (22 MB MP3) (other formats) (via iTunes)

Rebel Poet: The Life of Al-Ma’arri

A thousand years ago, Al-Ma’arri was writing Arabic poems of extreme complexity, promoting a rational ideal and most remarkably, making an ethical case for veganism. We tell the story of his life in conversation with fellow vegan rebel poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

We first found out about Al-Ma’arri through a blog by Gary Francione and were both intrigued and surprised more had not been said about him.  Al-Ma’arri’s conversations and opinions seem progressive even by today’s standards. And, like anyone with views ahead of his time, he was questioned by society. The show dramatises his exchange with a leading cleric about veganism.

Benjamin Zephaniah

In this episode Benjamin Zephanaiah, the vegan rebel poet of today, joins us to bring Al-Ma’arri to life.

Benjamin Zephanaiah began as a dub poet and his verses reach people who don’t often enjoy poetry; his rhymes have been celebrated around the world and in a BBC vote to find the UK’s favourite poet he was the only living poet in the top ten. He campaigns in poetry and deed for causes from animals to miscarriages of justice.

He once publicly rejected a royal honour – an “Order of the British Empire” – saying “Whoever is behind this offer can never have read any of my work”. In the show, he finds common ground with Al-Ma’arri.

You can read Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry and find out more about him at his website.

Thanks

As well as Professor Benjamin Zephaniah, our thanks also to contributors Richard Foltz (who has also written specifically about Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures), Ghazala Anwar, and to voice actors Motaz Al-Shehail (Al-Ma’arri in Arabic), Will Trimble (Al-Ma’arri in English) and Ian Peacock (the Cairo missionary). Thanks also to folk who helped me with research: Sarra Tlili, Sandhya of MEVeg, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies SOAS Radio (who let me use their studio) and Marta of SOAS Veg.

Sources

Because most contemporary sources are in Arabic, and I can’t read Arabic, I relied largely on the work of Victorian Orientalists, particularly David Margoliouth and Reynold Nicholson. Fortunately, much of this is available online, thanks to the work of Google and the Internet Archive.

Reynold Nicholson:

David Margoliouth:

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society:

I did check some other more modern sources, but unfortunately those aren’t in a form that I can link to.

Sound

Digital media artist Robb Masters wrote our theme. I also used these actualities and sound effects for atmosphere:

In line with the usual artifice of radio, I edited our discussion with Benjamin Zephaniah and re-recorded some dialogue for clarity and flow.

Mar 06 2012

Play

Rank #9: VegHist Ep 6: Hinduism. On Indian Vegetarianism, Vaishnavism, Satvik, and Mahayana Buddhism; with Sanjukta Gupta, Deepak Anand, and Ranjan Garavu; at Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Bhubaneswar and Nalanda Mahavihara

Podcast cover
Read more

In the first millennium CE, Indian vegetarianism advances from an ascetic fringe to a mainstream high-status lifestyle.

Episode 6: Hinduism

How did vegetarianism permeate Indian society? Ian tracks the changes in India’s religious life during the first millennium, following the vegetarian strands of the tapestry that we now call Hinduism.

Ian travels to a temple to Vishnu in eastern India to understand the importance of vegetarianism to his worshippers. He talks to theologians and historians in Oxford and Delhi about the factors that caused the change. He uncovers heated arguments about vegetarianism and animal advocacy in the leaves of India’s sacred texts. And he explores the medieval Buddhist monastic university of Nalanda, in the company of a lecturer from its modern namesake.

Play or download (42MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.

Contributors:

Readings

  • Rules for student Brahmins, from the Gautama Dharmasūtra. Translation by Muller.
  • Extracts from Laws of Manu on vegetarianism (V26/7, V39, V48). Translation by Bühler
  • Defence of the cow to be sacrificed by Brahmins from Manimekalai.
  • The argument about the sacrifice of a goat, from The Anugita Parva of the Mahābhārata, based on the translation by Ganguli in consultation with John Smith.
  • The half-golden Mongoose, from the Mahābhārata
  • Extracts from Nīlakēci’s argument with Buddhist nun Kuṇṭalakēci, in the Tamil Jain epic Nīlakēci’s, translation by Katherine Ulrich
  • Shaivite condemnation of Jains by Campantar and Appar, taken from the Teveram, translation by Katherine Ulrich
  • The Lankavatara Sutra, translation by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki

Half-Golden Mongoose

You might be wondering what the deal with the half-golden Mongoose in the Mahabharata was. He was looking for a perfect sacrifice to remove his curse (of being a half-golden Mongoose), and had hoped that the immense horse sacrifice at the end of this truly epic war might be it. But he learns that whatever makes an offering perfect, victory in war and animal sacrifice isn’t it.

Pun of the Month

One reading I didn’t get a time to include was from the Laws of Manu, about how meat-eaters will be consumed in return:

“He whose meat in this world do I eat will in the other world me eat.“ Wise men say this is why meat is called meat.

This is just because of the heroic act of punning that renders the Sanskrit folk etymology (“mamsa” = meat, “mam” = me, “sa” = he) into English in a way that still makes sense. (Alas, I’ve lost the name of the first translator to do this. )

Credits

I’d like to thank Sanjeeb Kumar (YouTube) of the artistic Kanti Centre for practical help in Bhubaneswar. Katherine Ulrich and John Smith helped enormously with historical advice and translations.

Music by Robb Masters. The actors were Sandeep Garcha, Chetan Pathak, and Selva Rasalingam.

Bibliography

Where there are no established Anglicisations (eg “ahimsa” for “ahiṃsā”), I have rendered Indic languages in Latin letters with marks called diacritics, loosely following the IAST standard explained at Jainpedia. For example “ś” is a soft “sh”, and a bar over a vowel lengthens it.

1630116 GH4SGBH6 items 1 chicago-author-date author asc 1 http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/ Alsdorf, Ludwig, and Hanns-Peter Schmidt. 2010. The History of Vegetarianism and Cow-Veneration in India. Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies. London: Routledge. 1 Basham, Arthur L, and Kenneth G Zysk. 1991. The origins and development of classical Hinduism. New York [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press. Chakravarti, A, and Prākr̥ta Bhāratī Akādamī. 1994. Neelakesi. Jaipur: Prakrit Bharati Academy. Davis, Richard H. 1998. “The Story of the Disappearing Jains: Retelling the Śaiva-Jain Encounter in Medieval South India.” In Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History, edited by John E Cort. Albany (N. Y.): State university of New York press. De Bary, William Theodore. 1958. Sources of Indian Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press. Hiltebeitel, Alf. 2001. Rethinking the Mahabharata: A Reader’s Guide to the Education of the Dharma King. University of Chicago Press. 2 Peterson, Indira V. 1998. “Śramaṇas against the Tamil Way: Jains As Others  in Tamil Śaiva Literature.” In Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History, edited by John E Cort. Albany (N. Y.): State university of New York press. Smith, Brian K. 1990. “Eaters, Food, and Social Hierarchy in Ancient India: A Dietary Guide to a Revolution of Values.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion LVIII (2): 177–206. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/LVIII.2.177. 3 Ulrich, Katherine E. 2007. “Food Fights.” History of Religions 46 (3): 228–61. https://doi.org/10.1086/513255. Ganguli, Kisari Mohan, trans. 1883. “The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose.” In . Vol. 14. Calcutta: Bharata Press. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m14/index.htm. 4

Jul 05 2016

Play

Rank #10: VegHist Ep 5: Flesh and Spirit. On Egyptian monasticism, Early Christianity, Plutarch, Neoplatonism, and Manicheansim; with David Grummet, Nicholas Baker-Brian, Michael Beer, and Fr. Abouna Yostas St. Athanasius

Podcast cover
Read more

In the eastern Roman Empire, several faiths and philosophies agree on one thing; that you need to eschew flesh to live a life of the spirit.

Episode 5: Flesh & Spirit

Not all Romans celebrated pagan sacrifices or the bloodthirsty arena. Some Romans followed the semi-mythical vegetarian Pythagoras, or neoplatonist philosophers who preached a vegetarian contemplative life.

In the melting pot of Jewish mythology, Greek philosophy, and the worship of Jesus many forms of Christianity emerge. Some of them advocate vegetarianism. The lost world religion of Manichaeanism took ideas from India and was led by a plant based priesthood that would last a thousand years.

Alexandria in Egypt is the epicentre of many of these contemplative movements. Ian visits a valley in Yorkshire that still echoes with the traditions of the ancient Egyptian desert – the Coptic Christian monastery of St. Athanasius. He discovers why the monks pursue that life, what it means to them, and how they maintain some of the original vegetarian traditions of the Egyptian desert fathers.

Play or download (43MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.

Contributors:

Readings

Production Diary

Now the story has reached characters whose writing survives to the present in volumes, I’m spending less time talking about historical sources and more time quoting people. And it’s hard to leave things out. There are so many things that Plutarch said in the first century that people like Vegan Sidekick have had to repeat in the twenty-first.

This was also the hardest episode for which to arrange a location visit; the story unfolded a long way from where I live, there’s not enough reason to travel, and precious few ethical vegetarians. It took me a while to find the monastery of St. Athanasius.

The tattoo of a Coptic cross on Fr. Yostas’ wrist is what modern Copts (Egypt’s Christian minority) show on entry into a church.

Credits

Music by Robb Masters, and Michael Levy. The actors were Jeremy Hancock and Yasser Sha’aban.

The music was:

  • Theme by Robb Masters
  • Sacred Flame of Vesta, by Michael Levy
  • Avinu Malcheinu, Jewish traditional, arranged and performed by Michael Levy
  • Hurrian Hymn, anonymous ancient Mesopotamian, arranged by Michael Levy based on translation of Ugarit tablet by Richard Dumbrill

The show also included part of a service at the monastery of St. Athanasius, and (at the end) an Ethiopian Orthodox Service at St. Mary of Tserha Sion in Hackney, East London.

The icon of St. Nofer the hermit is taken with permission from this Russian-language tourist website.

Special thanks to the Coptic Monastery of St. Athanasius, and Marian and Kevin McDonald (my parents) for driving me there.

Bibliography

1630116

5QRZZUW9
items
1
chicago-author-date

author
asc
1
http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/
Beckwith, Roger T. 1988. “The Vegetarianism of the Therapeutae, and the Motives for Vegetarianism in Early Jewish and Christian Circles.” Revuequmran Revue de Qumrân 13 (1–4 (49–52)): 407–10.

Brock, Sebastian P. 1999. From Ephrem to Romanos: Interactions between Syriac and Greek in Late Antiquity. Aldershot; Brookfield, USA: Ashgate.

Grimm, Veronika E. 1996. From Feasting to Fasting, the Evolution of a Sin: Attitudes to Food in Late Antiquity. London; New York: Routledge.

Kelhoffer, James A. 2005. The Diet of John the Baptist: “Locusts and Wild Honey” in Synoptic and Patristic Interpretation. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

Magness, Jodi. 2002. The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, MI.: William B. Eerdmans Pub.

Muers, Rachel, and David Grumett. 2010. Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet. London, New York: Routledge.

Schott, Jeremy M. 2008. Christianity, Empire, and the Making of Religion in Late Antiquity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Shaw, Teresa M., Michael Beer, and John Wilkins. 2008. “Perspectives from Antiquity.” In Eating and Believing Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Vegetarianism and Theology, by David Grumett and Rachel Muers. London; New York: T & T Clark. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10427149.

Strousma, G. 1986. “The Manichaean Challenge to Egyptian Christianity.” In The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, by Birger A Pearson and James E Goehring. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Wilkins, John, and Shaun Hill. 2006. “Meat and Fish.” In Food in the Ancient World, 133,147. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell Pub.

Geek recommendation: some of the Christian theologians in this episode also appear in the excellent (and uncharacteristically monster-free) Doctor Who audio drama Council of Nicea.

Jun 07 2016

Play

Rank #11: VegHist Ep 3: Pythagoreans. On the Cults of Orpheus and Pythagoras in Ancient Greece; with Hugh Bowden, Michael Beer, John Wilkins, and Armand D’Angour

Podcast cover
Read more

In Ancient Greece, vegetarianism belongs to a secretive subculture – amongst the mystery religions of Orpheus and the musical mathematical cult of Pythagoras.

Episode 3: Pythagoreans

The Greek philosophers knew about vegetarians. But they were part of cults associated with the mythical figure of Orpheus, and the guru of harmony and number – Pythagoras. The people who introduced the concept of reincarnation into Greece.

In the British Museum, Ian talks to Hugh Bowden, the head of the classics department of King’s College London and mystery religion specialist. There, Prof Bowden examines what its artefacts of Greek life and death tell us about attitudes to animals. Including – some suspect – an Orphic pocket guide to Hades.

Play, download (43MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript

Contributors:

Readings

The translations used in the show aren’t necessarily the ones linked to here; for example, I used “animate” as a consistent translation of “ἔμψυχος” (empsychos), to help communicate that they all used the same phrase to mean abstaining from flesh.

Recreating Ancient Greek Music

It was extremely tempting to go on a long tangent about efforts to record ancient Greek music. There are two extant compositions – the Delphic Hymn (which far from being Pythagorean relates to an animal sacrifice), and the haunting Epitaph of Seikilos.

Historians go to great length to try to recreate lost instruments.

Academics like Armand d’Angour endeavour to infer melodies based on the rhythm and accents. His current project to recreate ancient Greek music will bear fruit in the shape of a CD and radio broadcast later this year.

Meanwhile, dedicated amateurs like Michael Levy simulate a range of ancient music.

Credits

Music by Robb Masters, Michael Levy, and Stefan Hagel. The actors were Jeremy Hancock, Sandeep Garcha, Orna Klement and Vinay Varma as Ashoka Maurya. Additional sound engineering by Mathieu Gillon.

The track played under discussion of musical harmony is the “First Delphic Hymn to Apollo”, performed by Michael Levy on his album “The Ancient Greek Lyre”. The track played under the Orphic totenpass is “The Epitaph of Seikilos”, performed by Stefan Hagel.

Special thanks to the British Museum, and to Elizabeth Alexandra Fisher for assistance and photography.

Bibliography

1630116

6QPQ92P2
items
1
chicago-author-date

author
asc
1
http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/
(Translator), Paula Wissing, and Jean-Pierre Vernant. 1998. The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks. University Of Chicago Press.

Beer, Michael. 2010. “Vegetarianism (Ch 2).” In Taste or Taboo: Dietary Choices in Antiquity, 74–113. Totnes: Prospect Books.

Berthiaume, G. 1997. Les Roles Du Mageiros: Etude Sur LA Boucherie, LA Cuisine Et Le Sacrifice Dans LA Grece Ancienne (Mnemosyne , Vol Suppl. 70). Brill Academic Pub.

Bowden, Hugh. 2010. Mystery Cults of the Ancient World. Princeton ; Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Haussleiter, Johannes. 1935. Der Vegetarismus in der Antike. A. Töpelmann.

Naiden, F. S. 2007. “The Fallacy of the Willing Victim.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 127: 61–73. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30033502.

Rives, James B. 2011. “The Theology of Animal Sacrifice in the Ancient Greek World.” In Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice, edited by Jennifer Wright Knust and Zsuzsanna Varhelyi, 187–98. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738960.001.0001/acprof-9780199738960-chapter-9.

Nerdy language coincidence of the month: the Pythagoreans’ adversary at Croton was called Cylon (although pronounced with a hard “c”). Someone should make a TV series about their years on the run from a Cylon attack. It could have lots of references to Greek deities and mysticism.

Apr 05 2016

Play

Rank #12: VegHist Ep 4: Ashoka. On India’s animal advocate Buddhist king and the spread of the śramanas; with Bharati Pal and Suchandra Ghosh; at the Kalinga rock edict, India

Podcast cover
Read more

In the largest ancient Indian empire, at the height of its power, its Buddhist king advocates for animals in his edicts, and tries to change India for good.

Episode 4: Ashoka

In the fourth century BCE, the śramaṇa movement (anti-violence anti-ritual ascetics) has produced three religions: the vegetarian Jains, the freegan(ish) Buddhists, and the mysterious (and now vanished) Ājīvikas. The Mauryan Empire is absorbing almost all of the subcontinent, from present-day Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal.

At its height in the middle of the third century BCE, the king – Ashoka – has edicts carved in stones and columns across the realm. Alongside the rulings and propaganda you might expect, his edicts oppose the slaughter and abuse of animals.

Ian travels to the Indian Museum in Calcutta to speak with historian Dr Suchandra Ghosh. And he visits a hillside that looks down on the battlefield that – King Ashoka says – turned him way from violence forever, and where Ashoka erected an edict that still stands today.

Play or download (44MB MP3) (via iTunes)

Contributors:

  • Dr Suchandra Ghosh (Calcutta University) (Academia.edu)
  • Dr Bharati Pal (Odisha State Museum)
  • Dr U.C. Dwivedi (Patna Museum)

Locations:

These are the artefacts of the Ashoka and his dynasty we talk about during the show. Please select a thumbnail to bring up the gallery:

Readings

The translations of the edicts of Ashoka Maurya are based on those of Hultsch 1925Ven. S Dhammika 1993, and Romila Thapar 1999. I had a look at the original work of Prinsep and Wilson (PDF) who decoded the Brahmi characters in the nineteenth century.

The Indian diplomat is Megasthene. He was based in Pataliputra, at King Chandragupta’s court, and his work Indika (PDF) (various fragments and translations) remained the major Greek source on India for centuries.

Translating “dāsa” – slave or servant?

When Ashoka defines dharma, he starts with a list of who should be treated properly, beginning with “bonded servant”. This is how I translated “dāsa” – a word scholars variously translated as “servant”, “slave”, or simply left untranslated. (It has other meanings, too, like “religious devotee”, but not here.)

So what is a dāsa? We know from a contemporary orally transmitted book of governance that they couldn’t change master unless they bought their freedom, but they also had legal protections against abuse, demeaning tasks, property theft, or being sold on to someone else. Ancient Greek commentators say there’s no slavery in India, implying they don’t recognise dāsas as slaves.

My original script used the translation “slave”, explained that in more detail, and added:

Ashoka usurps the spiritual monopoly of Brahmins, spreads a casteless religion, and his attempt to change a continent’s values is astounding; but it’s still a stratified society. He does not seem to change that.

I changed it because that would have been a distraction from the story.

But accepting that dāsas are quite different to Greco-Roman slaves, they’re still forced labourers in any modern sense. And the Mauryan empire has a Greek corner in which Greek-style slavery presumably did exist. (In one text, the Buddha says that the Greeks have only two castes – slaves and free.)

We look back at Ashoka from the perspective of a society that finds all forms of human slavery abhorrent but generally takes it for granted that other animals exist for humans. We’re used to assuming that the first injustice is challenged before the second, but that’s not always the case.

Of course, the word “slavery” today principally conjures up the racist “peculiar institution” of the southern United States and Caribbean, and the transatlantic slave trade. When the movement to abolish those horrors gets going, campaigners against the abuse of animals will be part of the alliance. But that’s seven episodes (and almost 2000 years) away.

Diary

The interviews were recorded in early 2014, before the the lion capital was seriously damaged in a museum accident.

Recording these interviews was a little hectic. In order to make a different interview in Calcutta on the Saturday after interviewing Dr Ghosh, I took an overnight train to Bhubaneswar on for Friday morning, gave myself a day to set up the Dhauli interview, head back overnight to Calcutta for another interview; and then back to Bhubaneswar in the hope of gathering material on Sunday. (Which you’ll hear in episode six.)

The following Monday was Holi, the Indian spring festival of colours. Folk in the west have embraced it as a chance to throw brightly coloured powder at each other.

I alighted in Bhubaneswar, Orissa. I’d given myself a day to setup and a day to interview. My solution in India when I hadn’t managed to set anything up with phones and emails beforehand was to turn up on people’s doorsteps – and the local Archaeological Survey of India office can be relied upon to know everyone. They very kindly sent me to Dr Pal at the museum.

This is probably where I should mention that Holi is a much bigger deal in Orissa. There’s a major procession with religious idols, and two linked festival days. So I’d turned up on the Friday before a bank/public holiday weekend. And at the end of the working day, just before starting her holiday, Dr Pal very graciously got into a motor-rickshaw for the Dhauli hillside.

That schedule meant I completely missed Holi on the following Monday, apart from sharing the carriage with young folk whose clothing was still tinged with coloured powder.

Credits

The actors were Jeremy Hancock, Sandeep Garcha and Vinay Varma as King Ashoka Maurya.

The series has included some brilliant actors in a range of roles, but this is the first episode where a single actor carries the show in a single role. Vinay is an accomplished Hyderabad-based actor who has appeared in a range of Hindi and Telugu films, TV series, and theatre.

The music is by Robb Masters, and Michael Levy.

The clip played under discussion of Greek India is the “Epitaph of Seikilos”, taken from a Greek gravestone, performed by Michael Levy on his album “The Ancient Greek Lyre”.

The composite image (of the Dhauli elephant with text of the edict) is available for re-use under a CC-BY-SA license; attribution should link back to this page (or list veghist.org in physical media) and name either the “The Vegan Option” or “Vegetarianism: The Story So Far”. The original photograph is by Michael Gunther.

Special thanks to the Archaeological Survey of India, and to Nimi Hirani of The Philosophy Club Ahmedabad (FB) for advice and interpretation throughout my time in India.

This episode was sponsored by Kickstarter backers Menka and Ajay Sanghvi, to whom I’m very grateful.

Bibliography

Where there are no established Anglicisations (eg “Ashoka” for “Aśoka”), I have rendered Indic languages in Latin letters with marks called diacritics, loosely following the IAST standard explained at Jainpedia. For example “ś” is a soft “sh”, and a bar over a vowel lengthens it.

1630116

7Q2FRN4Z
items
1
chicago-author-date

author
asc
1
http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/
Aśoka, and James Prinsep. 1838. On the Edicts of Piyadasi, or Asoka, the Buddhist Monarch of India, Preserved on the Girnar Rock in the Gujerat Peninsula, and on the Dhaulí Rock in Cuttack; with the Discovery of Ptolemy’s Name Therein. [Calcutta].

Dhammika, Shravasti, Aśoka, and Buddhist Publication Society. 1993. The Edicts of King Asoka: An English Rendering. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society.

Hiltebeitel, Alf. 2001. Rethinking the Mahabharata: A Reader’s Guide to the Education of the Dharma King. University of Chicago Press. 1

Hultzsch., Eugene, and Aśoka. 1925. Inscriptions of Aśoka. Vol. 1. Corpus inscriptionum indicarum,. Oxford: Printed for the Govt. of India at the Clarendon Press,.

Thapar, Romila. 1997. Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas. Rev. ed. Delhi : Oxford University Press,.

Wilson, H. H, and Aśoka. 1836. On the Rock Inscriptions of Kapur Di Giri, Dhauli and Girnar. [Place of publication not identified]. http://books.google.com/books?id=iDJBAQAAMAAJ.

May 03 2016

Play

Rank #13: VegHist Ep 7: Heresies. On Chinese Buddhists, Cathars, Bogomils, Islam, and Manichaeans; with Vincent Gooseart, John Arnold, Jason BeDuhn, and Ven. Chueh Yun; at the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, in London

Podcast cover
Read more

In the Middle Ages, three very different monastic orders spread from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea, surrounding themselves with lay believers and challenging the norm of meat-eating.

Episode 7: Heresies

A string of religious groups across medieval Eurasia shared one common belief: that this world was a terrible place; and to escape its cycle of rebirth and redeath you needed to be ordained into a pure life, abstaining from violence. They all have some level of abstention from flesh, up to and including a vegan diet. But they all face suspicion.

Discover why the “good men” of the Cathars and Bogomils eschewed sinful flesh, why the men and women of the Manichaean Elect followed a vegan diet, and how the monks and nuns of Buddhism were shamed by their layfolk. And how a vegetarian culture spread throughout east Asia.

Ian joins a Chinese Buddhist congregation in London for its full moon service. He discovers how Buddhism not only spread across China, but made vegetarianism part of Chinese culture. He discovers a war against pescetarian heretics in Europe, the medieval Chinese horror stories that encouraged kindness to animals, and visits his local Tofu maker.

Play or download (67MB MP3 48min) (via iTunes)

Contributors:

Readings

  • Miracle Tale of Zhizong, from MS Fayuan zhulin 64.722b (see Camapany, 2012)
  • Liang of Wu, pronouncement around 522 CE (see De Rauw & Heirman, 2011)
  • Khan Bügü’s pronouncement (see Papaconstantinou, 2015)
  • The Story of ‘Amir ibn ‘Abd Qays (see Tạbarī, 1990)
  • The case of the animals versus man before the King of the Jinn, from The Epistles of the Brethren of Purity (see translation by McGregor and Goodman, 2012)
  • Frs Cosmas & Zigabenus on the Bogomils (see Hamilton and Hamilton, 1998)
  • Anselms’ letter on the over-zealous persecution (see Wakefield & Evans, 1991)
  • The report of the Cathar women from the Le registre d’inquisition (see Fournier 1978)
  • And for the report of Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, see (of course) Baṭṭūṭa 1953

Hear previous shows about a medieval Syrian vegan poet and Chinese mock meat

This episode returns to themes that previous shows have explored in depth.

Rebel Poet: Benjamin Zephaniah discusses the life of Abul ʿala Al-Maʿarri (أبو العلاء المعري), the medieval Arab vegan philosopher poet

A thousand years ago, Al-Ma’arri was writing Arabic poems of extreme complexity, promoting a rational ideal and most remarkably, making an ethical case for veganism. We tell the story of his life in conversation with fellow vegan rebel poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

South East Asia: Finding Vegan Food in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia

This show compiles some of my first experiments in vegan podcasting, whilst travelling through Southeast Asia in 2009. It includes my experiences of the many vegan ethnic Chinese restaurants.

It was also the first time I met Peter Flugel, an expert in Jainism featured in previous (and forthcoming) episodes of #VegHist.

Unanswered Questions

There were some questions I did not manage to get to the bottom of. I leave them here, in the hope that scholarly specialists will one day come across them!

Middle East: Were any Qarmatians Vegetarian?

The Qarmatians were a religious and political rival to Islam in the ninth and tenth centuries. They controlled eastern Arabia, the gulf archipelago of Bahrain, and (at points) southern Iraq. At one point, they scandalised the Islamic world by stealing the meteoric black stone that lies at the spiritual heart of Mecca. The first sources I read painted them as communist vegetarian bandits, who followed a breakaway religion that owed as much to Manichaeanism as Islam. (Cyril Glassé’s New Encylopedia of Islam suggests they were mainly vegetarian. I do not trust his independent un-referenced work; not least because he calls the ethical vegan Al-Ma’arri a “crypto-Manichaean”. I found no evidence of this when doing a show about Al-Ma’arri in 2012.)

Less romantic sources, such as the Encyclopedia Iranica, position them simply as radical Shia Muslims.

The people nicknamed “al-Baqliyyah” (UK: “Greengrocers” US: “Produce sellers”) in southern Iraq were Qarmatians. My final script is based on M G S Hodgson’s entry in the Brill Encyclopedia of Islam, with some information from Wilferd Madelung.

I also found multiple versions of the etymology of al-Baqliyyah; some of which had nothing to do with vegetarianism.

But I really think someone who can read the primary sources (in classical Arabic) would be able to dig deeper than the brief outlines from Hodgson and Madelung. Cyril Glassé was of the opinion that orthodox Qarmatians put pressure on the rest to be vegetarian, and I don’t know where that idea came from. Farhad Daftary (author of the Encyclopedia Iranica article) tells me that “we cannot consider them as vegetarians”.

I’d be happy to share my detailed notes with anyone who wants to take this further.

Balkans: Did any Bogomils follow a Vegan Diet?

One academic told me that there was a source that suggested the Bogomil clergy followed a vegan diet. This would not be a surprise – it would be a logical extension of existing orthodox fasts. and if the Manichaeans did, why not the Bogomils? (The Bogomils presumably never met any Manichaeans, but they were part of scholarly common knowledge in Christendom.)

I asked every relevant academic I could find, and didn’t find anyone who had heard of a direct reference. We know a lot about the Cathars because of the papacy conducted a detailed inquisition and kept the records. On the other hand, the Byzantine empire didn’t gather as much information about the Bogomils, and much of has been lost over the past few hundred years.

China: What’s in Emperor Wu of Liang’s essay about meat-eating?

Wu of Liang wrote an essay about why we should be vegetarian. It’s on Wikisource. It’s just never been translated into English. It’s as important to the history of vegetarianism as the writings of ancient Greek or Indian vegetarians, which have been available in English translation in some cases for centuries.

So if you happen to be able to read T’ang dynasty Chinese and can translate it into English please consider having a read of “Of meat and wine” (at least, I think that’s what 断酒肉文 means) by Emperor Wu of Liang. There’d probably be quite a few English speakers interested in reading it too.

The Links to Broader History

When it came to Buddhist vegetarianism, I was fortunate that John Kieschnick had already written an excellent overview.

But the rest of the continent required me to dive deep into research into Bogomils, Cathars, and Islam. Even letting the show run to 46 minutes – the longest yet – I had to leave a lot of stuff out. And in the process of research, I came across a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with vegetarianism, but it pained me to leave out anyway.

That time the Chinese emperor tried to please Buddhists by sacrificing an animal to the Buddha

At first, Buddhism was slotted into traditional Chinese religion, perhaps as additions to the Daoist pantheon. And these additions sometimes ran ahead of the monks and nuns who actually understood the Buddhist dharma.

In 166 CE, the emperor was reported as having sacrificed animals jointly to the Buddha and (the legendary founder of Daoism) Lao-tse. Opposition to animal sacrifices has been a defining feature of Buddhism since the beginning, so he rather missed the point.

All the Challenges to the Medieval Roman Church

When I look into a cultural movement whether it’s the mystery religions of ancient Greece or the anti-clericals of medieval France, I pick out the vegetarian threads, but wish I could have included the whole movement. And I wish I could have included more of the interview with Dr John Arnold – but I need to put a limit on episode length!

The Cathars were just one aspect of the challenge to the church. Other groups also eschewed the trappings of the establishment to rework Christianity.

A similar semi-heretical movement, the Waldensians, had even produced a translation of the New Testament in the local language Franco-Provençal. Even the Bishop who was forced to disavow heresies in the tenth century plays his part – he was credited with introducing the abacus from neighbouring Arab Iberia.

The Waldensians aren’t the only group that survived. The early Cistercians were also living monastic abstemious lives that reminded people of Jesus’ apostles. And they’re still an active order of Roman Catholic monks.

The European events of this episode also accidentally created France. The Albigensian crusade was an excuse for King of France (based in the north) to annex the Mediterranean lands.

This episode has a blink-and-miss-it cameo appearance by one of the most important figures in Muslim history

In the show, I recount the first mention of vegetarianism in the context of Islam – when the preacher ‘Amir ibn ‘Abd Qays is questioned on behalf of the Caliph about ‘Amir’s (overblown) reputation for vegetarianism.

The person who quizzed ‘Amir (Mu‘Āwiyah) goes on to become Caliph, and fight the war that sunders Sunni from Shia. This is the central divide in Islam.

Pun of the Month

Is in the episode itself, and shouted by our troupe. The Chinese word for “Demon” (“Mo”) is also how the Chinese pronounce “Mani”. Many academics suspect that the shout of “Vegetarian Demon Worshippers” is a play on words that references Manichaeans.

Credits

I had to rely on even more academic advice than usual for this episode. I’d like to thank Claire Taylor, Yuri Stoyanov, John Kieschnick, Renan LaRue, Erica Hunter, and Andrew Chittick.

The ambience in the fable of Zhi Zhong is CC-BY Klank Beeld; the recording of a Niger village muezzin call was contributed to the public domain by Felix Blume; and the monastic chanting by singer Jayme Amatnecks. The Uyghur folk song “Mira Jihan” was sung by the London Uyghur Ensemble, and featured by their kind permission.

The theme music is by Robb Masters. The actors were Sandeep Garcha, Chetan Pathak, Selva Rasalingham, Jeremey Hancock, Guillaume Blanchard, and Yasser Sha’aban, with additional laughter by Orna Klement.

Bibliography

A bar over a vowel (“ā”) lengthens it.

1630116 NTIQX47J items 1 chicago-author-date author asc 1 http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/ BeDuhn, Jason. 2000. The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and Ritual. Campany, Robert Ford. 2012. Signs from the Unseen Realm : Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China /. Classics in East Asian Buddhism. Honolulu : University of Hawaiʻi Press,. Erbstösser, Martin. 1984. Heretics in the Middle Ages. Leipzig: Edition Leipzig. Fournier, Jacques. 1978. Le registre d’inquisition de Jacques Fournier (Evêque de Pamiers) 1. 1. Paris: Mouton. Gernet, Jacques. 1995. Buddhism in Chinese Society : An Economic History from the Fifth to the Tenth Centuries. Studies in Asian Culture. New York: University of Columbia Press,. Goossaert, Vincent. 2004. “The Beef Taboo and the Sacrificial Structure of Late Imperial Chinese Society.” In Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics and Religion in Traditional China, edited by Roel Sterckx, 1st ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Hamilton, Janet, and Bernard Hamilton. 1998. Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World, c. 650-c. 1450. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Hodgson, M. G. S. 1986. “Bakliyya.” Edited by H. A. R Gibb, B Lewis, Ch Pellat, J Schacht, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, E. van Donzel, J. van Lent, and P. J Bearman. The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Leiden: Brill. Ibn Baṭṭūṭaẗ, Muḥammad ibn ʻAbd Allâh, and Mahdi Husain. 1953. The Reḥla of Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, India, Maldive Islands and Ceylon. Baroda: Oriental Institute. https://archive.org/stream/TheRehlaOfIbnBattuta/231448482-The-Rehla-of-Ibn-Battuta#page/n241/mode/2up. Ibn Saʻd, Muḥammad. 1997. The men of Madina. London: Ta-Ha Publishers. Kieschnick, John. 2004. “Buddhist Vegetarianism in China.” In Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics and Religion in Traditional China, edited by Roel Sterckx, 1st ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Lieu, Samuel N. C. 1998. Manichaeism in Central Asia and China. Leiden; Boston; Köln: Brill. Lieu, Samuel N. C. 1985. Manichaeism in the Later Roman Empire and Medieval China: A Historical Survey. Manchester, UK; Dover, N.H., USA: Manchester University Press. Madelung, Wilfred. 2001. “The Fatimids and the Qarmatis of Bahrayn.” In Medieaval Ismaíli History and Thought, edited by Farhad Daftary. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. McGregor, Richard J. A, Lenn Evan Goodman, Institute of Ismaili Studies, and Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʼ. 2012. The case of the animals versus man before the King of the Jinn a translation from the Epistles of the brethren of purity. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=1036296. Moore, R. I, and Medieval Academy of America. 1995. The Birth of Popular Heresy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the Medieval Academy of America. O’Hanlon, Rosalind, D. A Washbrook, and St. Antony’s College (University of Oxford), eds. 2011. Religious Cultures in Early Modern India: New Perspectives. New Delhi: Routledge. Papaconstantinou, Arietta, ed. 2015. Conversion in Late Antiquity: Christianity, Islam, and beyond : Papers from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar, University of Oxford, 2009-2010. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar. Rauw, Tom De, and Ann Heirman. 2011. “Monks for Hire Liang Wudi’s Use of Household Monks (Jiaseng ).” The Medieval History Journal 14 (1): 45–69. https://doi.org/10.1177/097194581001400103. Shurtleff, William, and Akiko Aoyagi. 2014. History of Meat Alternatives (965 CE to 2014): Extensively Annotated Bibliography and Sourcebook. https://books.google.com/books?id=CkvgBQAAQBAJ. Smith, Margaret. 1978. The Way of the Mystics: The Early Christian Mystics and the Rise of the Sūfīs. New York: Oxford University Press. Tạbarī, Muḥammad ibn Jarīr. 1990. The Crisis of the Early Caliphate. Bibliotheca Persica. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press,. Wakefield, Walter L, and Austin P Evans. 1991. Heresies of the High Middle Ages. New York: Columbia University Press. Xiaoxiaosheng, and David Tod Roy. 2006. The plum in the golden vase, or, Chin P’ing Mei. Princeton, N.J.; Oxford: Princeton University Press. Daftary, Farhad. 1989. “Carmatians.” Encyclopaedia Iranica. London; Boston; Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul. http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/carmatians-ismailis. Zürcher, Erik. 2007. The Buddhist Conquest of China: The Spread and Adaptation of Buddhism in Early Medieval China. Leiden: Brill.

Sep 06 2016

Play

Rank #14: Palm Oil: with Catherine Laurence, Eric Lambin, Orangutan rescuer Daniek Hendarto, RSPO SG Darrel Webber

Podcast cover
Read more

Palm Oil

Palm oil is everywhere – from cooking oil to soap to vegan margarine. Equatorial rainforest and peatland are cleared and replaced with serried ranks of oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis).  The biodiversity of Borneo and Sumatra, including  the iconic Orang Utan, is threatened by habitat loss.

Some vegan activists say no product that causes so much destruction can be considered vegan. But is palm oil really worse than the alternatives? And can poor countries like Malaysia and Indonesia develop without it?

Environmentalist Catherine Laurence helps me disentangle the thicket of issues.

Hear academic experts Eric Lambin and Robert Greenland; vegan baker Ms Cupcake; primatologist Georgina Ash; vegan MP Kerry McCarthy; the boss of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil; and vegan Indonesian palm oil activist and Miskin Porno lead singer Daniek Hendarto.

Play or download (38.3MB MP3) (via iTunes)

Catherine Laurence

There is more about Catherine in her blog post, “Being part of the solution“.

Guests

Georgina Ash

Georgina Ash is a primatologist who has worked and volunteered with Orangutans. She is now the picture editor for the World Society for the Protection of Animals in London, UK, where I spoke with her.

Daniek Hendarto

Daniek (pronounced “Danny”) works for Indonesian NGO the Centre for Orangutan Protection: he helps advise Zoos on care, resettling Orangutans from threatened areas, and campaigning against the impact of palm oil. Daniek is vegan, and also the lead singer of punk rock band “Miskin Porno”, which (content warning) sings sweary rants against palm oil:

Prof Eric Lambin

Dr Lambin is a Professor of Geography at Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium and at Stanford University, California. He specialises in land use change. Because of his work, he has received the Prix Franqui, and been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences. He is a meat reducer, for environmental reasons.

Dr Robert Goodland

Dr Goodland is a tropical ecologist. He went from an academic career to being an environmental advisor at the World Bank, and from there to being an environmental campaigner, consultant, and writer. He is vegan. Dr Goodland blogged at WorldBank.org about the research he did with Dr Anhang that concluded that livestock are responsible for 51% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. He also wrote a column for The Guardian criticising the World Bank’s environmental impact in 2007. He received the Coolidge Memorial Medial from the International Union for Nature Conservation in 2008.

Darrel Webber

Darrel Webber left a career in business to join the World Wildlife Fund, where he liaised with palm oil companies to build wildlife corridors into their plans. He is omnivorous – his interest in conservation is led partially by his fishing. He joined the RSPO from WWF. As Director General of the RSPO, he has taken part in:

Melissa Morgan (“Ms Cupcake”)

Ms Cupcake is a vegan baker and media personality, the author of “The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town” cookbook, and winner of the British Baker 2011 “Rising Star” award. Her bakery is in the gentrifying south London suburb of Brixton.

Kerry McCarthy MP

You hear the Member of the UK Parliament for Bristol East and her two parliamentary colleagues in the shows about vegan politicians.  There is more about her on the page for the first politics show.

Oil Palm

You can read reports from US-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (2005, PDF), the United Nations Environment Programme (2011, pdf), and campaigns from the Rainforest Action Network and  the UK magazine Ethical Consumer. But you should definitely read Catherine’s blog post about what she thinks the solutions are, now the episode is done. As a commodity, we used statistics from the US Department of Agriculture.

The Three Oil Palm Fruit Products

The Oil Palm yields fruit; the fruit has both flesh and kernel; and both of those produce meal as well as oil. In the show, we talked mainly about the fruit oil (which is four-fifths of the economic value). Here is my working for how the economic yield breaks down (showing that it’s mostly the fruit oil). According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, each hectare produces:

  • Oil: 4t at $750/t = $3000 = 80%
  • Kernel oil: 500kg at $840/t = $420 = 16%
  • Kernel cake/meal: 600kg at $250/t = $150 = 4%
  • Total = $3750

The oils are used mainly for food, but are also used in biofuel and other non-food products. The kernel meal is mainly used as animal feed, but is sometimes also used locally as biofuel.

The Oil as an Ingredient

The saturated fat molecules in palm oil have a kink that makes it easy for the molecules to stack into a solid. For this reason, palm oil is a source of fats that are solid at room temperature, making “ambient products” possible. This is an issue for anyone avoiding fat, as well as for bakers.

Orangutans and Habitat Loss

The Orangutans (Indonesian: forest man) are the only species of great ape restricted to Asia. The Sumatran Orangutan is critically endangered; the Bornean Orangutan is endangered. (The other great apes are Chimpanzee, Bonobo, Eastern/Western Gorillas, and – lest we forget – Human). See also:

The Orangutans are a symbol, but not the only threatened species; the Sumatran Rhino is thought to number fewer than four hundred;  and the Sumatran tiger is also critically endangered:

with just 1 percent of the Earth’s land area, Indonesia’s rainforests contain 10% of the world’s known plants, 12% of mammals and 17% of all known bird species – Rainforest Action Network

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The RSPO includes a wide range of producers, traders, and consumers of palm oil as well as NGOs. It marks palm oil that is traceable to source and produced in line with its principles and rules as CSPO (Certified Sustainable Palm Oil)

The RSPO revised the specifics of some of its rules in 2013: I mentioned that WWF was so disappointed with this revision that they want to set up a new, stricter, certificate within the RSPO (PDF).

Catherine includes more information about Green Palm and CSPO on her blog post about what consumers can do.

Makers of Vegan Margarines

Kerry Foods

Kerry Foods make “Pure”, the UK’s leading brand of vegan margarine. They are RSPO members (membership page). Their Annual Communication of Progress for 2010-11 said only 2% of their palm oil was CSPO. My comparison with 10% of Palm Oil production being CSPO was based on these RSPO figures for CSPO production. Kerry failed to file an ACOP in 2011-12, as shown by their absence from this list [Update 2018: list now vanished, but you can looks at this empty search result instead]. The RSPO process does at least make it obvious when someone does not even fill in the paperwork.

Earth Balance

Earth Balance are produced by Boulder Brands. They are not RSPO members, and have a web page about their palm oil sourcing.

Thanks

… go to Robb Masters and Miskin Porno for the music. The title of the Miskin Porno song used in the show, translated and bowdlerised, is “F___ palm oil”. The illustration pic of Indonesian deforestation is by Vincent Poulissen, used with permission; the sound clip pic is of Orangutan is Kani from Melbourne Zoo by Macinate (and yes, I did try to find a pic of a freeliving Orangutan) used under CC-BY.

Sep 13 2013

Play

Rank #15: Cats: Can they be vegan? With vets Lorelei Wakefield, Andrew Knight, and Jean Hofve; and special guest Erin Red

Podcast cover
Read more

Cats: Can they be vegan?

Three experienced veterinarians with experience of vegan cats say whether and why they think cats can thrive on a vegan diet.

Jean Hofve argues – out of bitter experience – that cats need meat.

Andrew Knight advocates a vegan diet for cats – if you do it right.

Only Lorelei Wakefield has published a peer-reviewed study to try to discover who is right.

(23 min) Play or download (15MB MP3(via iTunes)

Veterinarian Guests

Lorelei Wakefield

Lorelei Wakefield’s study site – vegetariancats.com – is currently down, but you can access vegetariancats.com via web.archive.org. That peer-reviewed paper is:

She does housecalls in NYC, and her site is ComfortsOfHomeVet.com.

Lorelei is vegan. Her own cat, Noel, used to be vegan but is now on a meat-based prescription food.

Andrew Knight

In between extreme ironing , vegan campaigning, and writing a cost/benefit analysis of Animal Experiments, Andrew Knight also runs VegePets.info, which offers advice for people considering vegetarian diets for dogs and cats.

Jean Hofve

Jean Hofve is a retired veterinarian with an interest in nutrition and alternative veterinary medicine.

She writes at Little Big Cat .com, including about vegetarian cats.

Other Guests

Erin “Red” Grayson

Erin offers listeners to Red Radio “vegan banter with a bite” – strong vegan opinions and supportive commentary, as well as guests, compassionate clips, and rants.

She’s Canadian transplanted to Brooklyn, where she co-founded “The Seed: a vegan experience”, and practices muay Thai.

Erin can be found at Tumblr (currently)ErinRed.com (under construction), and@ErinRed on Twitter.

She discussed the ethical dilemma of vegan cats with Prof Gary Francione in a February 2012 episode of Red Radio.

Mazzy

Mazzy is a female tortoiseshell rescue cat, and she’s on my lap as I’m typing this.

She’s also had struvite crystals (when on a meat-based diet) so she’s also on a meat-based prescription diet.

Mainstream veterinary opinion

David Dzanis wrote in the Veterinarian Newsletter in 1999, concluding of both dogs and cats:

… while both species can eat and utilize some plant-source ingredients (dogs more than cats), they simply are not intended to eat only plants as are other animals such as cattle and sheep.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said [in an “Ask the Experts” column that, as of 2018, is missing from their website]):

When it comes to felines, it really is best to provide a diet that includes meat.

That US National Research Council released dietary guidelines for Cats and Dogs in 2003 (before Lorelei Wakefield’s study) saying that cats:

should not be fed a vegetarian diet because it could result in harmful deficiencies of certain amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins

The show specifically discussed how cats need Taurine and B12; and the dangers of urinary struvite crystals.

Other vegan experiences

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau addressed the issue in her 2007 podcast episode, What do Vegetarians Feed their Dogs and Cats? – and, as I mentioned, feeds her cats meat.

US writer and activist Jo Stepaniak blogged about how she feeds her cats meat after they did not thrive on a vegan diet.

Vegan vet Armaiti May advises having a vet monitor your cat’s urine pH, rather than doing it yourself.

Animal Voices (Toronto) covered this topic in 2006 with a round table discussion, involving two local activists whose cats fell seriously ill on a vegan diet, as well as Eric Wiseman of Evolution pet food.

Thanks

… go to Robb Masters for the music, the three veterinarians for our interviewees, and of course Erin Red.

Production Note

The interview with Andrew Knight is from back in 2010, hence some rookie mic handling noise.

This is not veterinary advice. It is a radio show with vets.

Next show: Cats, the ethical quandary, and the criminal vegan pet food CEO

Feb 01 2013

Play