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The Vegan Option - Vegetarianism: The Story So Far

Updated 3 days ago

Society & Culture
Philosophy
News
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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.

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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
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Please keep it coming!

Outstanding research.

By Larkpench - Dec 22 2017
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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

Updated 3 days ago

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.

Rank #1: Veganism in Politics: Chris Williamson MP, Cathy Jamieson MP and Kerry McCarthy MP with questions from Dennis Kucinich and Maneka Gandhi

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(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

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Rank #2: Peace on Earth: will we ever have it? With Peter Singer and Gary Francione discussing Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature”

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(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

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Rank #3: Born Vegan: from 1976 UK TV to the Hebrew Israelites, three very different vegan childhoods

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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
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(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

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Rank #4: Rebel Poet: Benjamin Zephaniah discusses the life of Abul ʿala Al-Maʿarri (أبو العلاء المعري), the medieval Arab vegan philosopher poet

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(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

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Rank #5: 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

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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

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Rank #6: Digital Vegans: with Happy Cow founder, iPhone apps, London Vegans, and Kerry McCarthy MP

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(19 min) Play or download (17 MB MP3) (other formats) (via iTunes)

Digital Vegans

How has the digital revolution changed being vegan? We talk to Eric Brent, founder of leading vegetarian restaurant finder Happy Cow. Diana reviews smartphone apps. Ian finds out how the digital revolution changed his local vegan group in London.

The age of information brings together the Beijing Vegans and the Vegan Club of St. Petersburg in Russia and makes being vegan a lot easier. How has veganism changed? And what are the challenges to older organisations?

Veggie Restaurant Finders

Happy Cow is the best-known and one of the longest – I interview founder Eric Brent where he looks forward to changes for Happy Cow in 2012. It has apps for several mobile platforms.

VegDining, also launched in 1999. Looking for places to eat in London, I could see some problems with the interface (the seven districts of London were all called simply “London” and some were impossible to select) and content (it listed Otarian London, which closed in 2011, as “opening in 2010” whereas Happy Cow has removed it).

VegGuide is a project of Minnesota USA group Compassionate Action for Animals along with national US group Mercy for Animals and joined this month by Vegan Outreach. They’ve been going since 2002, share their information via an open API and a Creative Commons share-alike licence; but have no apps. Their content seems up to date.

Most local vegan groups list restaurants; that’s too many to mention here. Listener Stephen Fenwick-Paul has created BunnyGo.ORG [UPDATE 2016: Site now down], which maps restaurants in the UK, and has an iPhone app and API.

Smartphone Apps

Diana mentioned these iPhone Apps:

  • VeganXpress with vegan options at major chains (mostly in the US), vegan candy/junk food, wine and beer
  • Recipe finders such as The VegWeb vegan recipe finder (gone, as of 2018-06-24)
  • VegOut (which Eric said wasn’t being updated; there is the official Happy Cow app)
  • iVegan and AnimalFree (gone 2018-06-24) for looking up ingredients

Ian mentioned VeganEasy (gone 2018-06-24) which also uses the alcohol lists from Barnivore.

VegNews has various articles listing 10 Vegan Smartphone Apps and 11  iPhone Apps.

Some of these, such as Animal Free, are also available for Android. Vegan Eating Out offers a similar fast-food list to VeganXpress, although it includes foods with honey. Eric Brent recommended the barcode-scanning Vegeble for Android (now gone).

Animal Hack-tivism

Jasmine Singer reviewed a range of apps in January 2011, suggesting that if you’re a software developer looking to “change the world for animals”, an Android app would be a good place to start.

A couple of our contributors appealed specifically for volunteers. Eric Brent would like Happy Cow to develop its Android app, and would like to hear from an Android developer. Stephen Fenwick-Paul is also appealing for folk to help him test his UK restaurant finder BunnyGo [UPDATE 2016: Site now gone].

We link to VeganFeed.com‘s list of other podcasts in our “help” section.

Contributors

Our thanks to contributors Eric Brent of Happy Cow, Peter Despard of London Vegans, Stephen Fenwick Paul of ActiVeg, Sara from Belgium, and vegan lawmaker Kerry McCarthy MP. Digital media artist Robb Masters wrote our theme.

Jan 30 2012

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Rank #7: 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

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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

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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

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Rank #8: London Olympics

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London Olympics

Athletes from across the world are coming to East London – where we produce the show – but what are the vegan perspectives on the Olympic games?

This show:

  • Diana talks to Sandra Hood, who wrote the book on raising vegan children, about carrying the Olympic torch
  • Amazingly, keeping the Olympics supplied with a vegan mince that caters can use as a drop in substitute for ground meat is down to one small company – I visit the father and daughter who are supplying the Olympic games with the vegan option
  • What do the locals think? The staff of the nearest vegan cafe to the games have their say.
  • We fill you in on the stories you might have heard in the media – Venus Williams‘s diet, the Chinese volleyball team, and the use of animals in the opening ceremony

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

Athletes

Venus and Serena Williams

Venus Williams and Serena Williams represent the US at Tennis.

Venus has Sjögrens syndrome. You can see her discuss her raw vegan diet on CBS (Jul 10);  she called herself a chegan (“cheating vegan”) in a press conferences, reports Tennis Panorama.

Some vegans say that her sister, Serena, with whom she won the Wimbledon Ladies Doubles title, is also vegan; Celeb Buzz quotes her as saying that she won’t eat chicken at home with Venus.

The publicist told me that:

Serena’s diet is more “Raw” then “Vegan” although it is quite close.

Barcelona, 1992

We mentioned:

Nearly Olympian Vegans

Pam Boteler, American canoeist, is raw vegan – but only men’s sprint canoe is an Olympic sport

James Southwood is one of the world’s leading Savateurs – French kickboxers – as well as being a former marketing officer for the UK Vegan Society. Paris was a close second for hosting the 2012 games, and would likely have added Savate as at least a demonstration event, as it did in 1924.

An already-Olympian we didn’t mention is Kara Lang, Canada, Football/Soccer – who competed in Beijing (2008) but was prevented from competing this year by an injury.  She’s in London as a journalist.

Vegan-Sponsored Olympians

Diana suggested athletes you might want to cheer on the basis of their vegan sponsors rather than their flag:

Sandra Hood, Registered Dietitian

Sandra Hood has spoken for the UK Vegan Society on diet issues, and wrote Feeding Your Vegan Infant with Confidence. The Olympic Torch Relay page on Sandra Hood has more information about her work on diabetes.

We discussed the Chinese volleyball team, whose complaints have been mentioned by NPR’s The Salt (who mentioned they were on the road without access to untainted meat) and The Guardian (who reported that they were only avoiding pork, whilst eating fish and “protein powder”).

I did not mention that the additive Clenbuterol is also unlawful. In 2009, over 70 people in China fell ill after eating Pork contaminated with Clenbuterol.

My local vegan anarchist cafe is Pogocafe; Diana cited the Olympian Economics episode of Freakanomics Radio.

Animals at the Opening Ceremony

You can read more about that story at:

The calculation of 20,000 chickens being eaten was based on the quantity of poultry mentioned in the LOCOG Factpack, assumptions that this was from birds of the same weights and proportions as 2010 UK production of carcasses and that 85% of a carcass is, ethics notwithstanding, edible.

We recorded the show on Friday afternoon and uploaded it (without show notes) as the opening ceremony was beginning.

Frys’ Veggiemince at the Olympics

I visted Frys Distribution, who import from family business Frys Vegetarian in South Africa. Because some will want to know, of the voices you heard, Lisa is vegan, Pat is almost, and Kevin is omnie.

Local radio in Durban, South Africa also interviewed manufacturer Tammy Fry.

Thanks

Our thanks go to Robb Masters for the music, to Sandra Hood and to Fry’s and Pogocafe for their time.

Jul 27 2012

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Rank #9: London Olympics: interview with Kara Lang, vegan Olympian, Canada soccer team

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Kara Lang, Vegan Olympian

Kara Lang  holds the record as the youngest woman ever to score a goal in international soccer – but her passions also include vegan cupcakes.

Now retired from football, she took time out from her busy schedule as part of Canadian station CTV’s Olympic team to talk to me about her story, touring, and the vegan mentor she improbably found in her own national squad.

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(10min) Play or download (9.5 MB MP3(other formats) (via iTunes)

Kara Lang

You can find Kara Lang at:

Sportsnet.ca interviewed her about her retirement from football.

London Places

Lara mentioned fellow Canadian Ms Cupcake and vegan shop Vx.

Amy Walsh

Amy was that vegan mentor. You can find her at:

Thanks

Our thanks go to Robb Masters for the music, and to Kara Lang for her time. Where we recorded turned out to be under a busy flight path, so there’s a bit of non-Olympic background noise.

Aug 09 2012

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Rank #10: 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

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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

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Rank #11: VegHist Ep 8: Contacts. Indian Sufism, Bhakti, Akbar, Portuguese Christianity, and Gaudiya Vaishnavism; with Sanjukta Gupta; in Agra, Delhi, and London

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When conquerors who profess Islam or Christianity rule over Indian vegetarians, the conversations about food ethics go both ways.

Episode 8: Contacts

Ian discovers the ecstatic dancing and singing shared by Sufis and Hindus – including westerners singing Hare Krishna in London’s main shopping street.  In Delhi, he finds out about the inquisition that started with European antisemitism and ended with Indians being forced to eat beef.

And in the royal city of Agra, he visits a shrine built to commemorate a conversation about religion and vegetarianism between a Jain saint and the Mughal emperor Akbar. He uncovers the fascinating story of this heretic emperor who advocated vegetarianism.

At the halfway point of this 15-part history of vegetarianism, the traditions of East and West come together. From hereon, it’s all one story.

Play or download (52MB MP3 37min) (via iTunes) or read transcript.

Contributors:

Readings

The Italian and Portuguese sources used the word “gentoo” (related to “gentile”, but from the perspective of Christians). Here I variously translated it as “Hindu” or “Infidel”, but I’m wishing I’d translated it as “pagan”.

Special Bonus for Australian Listeners

Andrea Corsali’s letter is famous for more than casually implying that Leonardo da Vinci was vegetarian. He was the first person to draw the constellation of the Southern Cross, which is part of the Australian flag. There is a copy of the letter (ironically on animal skin) in the State Library of New South Wales.

Untranslated Vegetarian History

I tried to find readings from some of the Sufis mentioned early in the show. But their words do not seem to be published in the vernacular, let alone in translation.

So again, I’ll leave these footnotes here in the hope that scholarly specialists will one day come across them!

Hamid ud-Din Nagori’s commitment to animals is mentioned on p221 of Sururu’s Sudur, which is in the Habibganj collection at Aligarh University.

Nuru’d-Din’s admission that he considered meat-eating cruelty despite it being allowed under Shari’a is in the Asraru’l-Abrar (“The Secrets of the Pious”) by Dawud Mishkati (ff. 236a-b), published 1654. I haven’t been able to find it anywhere.

Kabir, Sikhs, and Vegetarianism

There’s a well-worn debate about vegetarianism amongst Sikhs, including a seventeenth century account that the early Gurus (in the early sixteenth century) were vegetarian. There are arguments over whether particular verses condemn meat-eating, or just the ritual killings of Muslims and Hindus.

Some of the strongest lines against eating animals seem to come from the poet Kabir. (He may have inspired the first Sikh guru, and the Sikh scriptures include his poetry.)

But even Kabir’s rhetoric is open to interpretation; much of it seems directed at particular kinds of slaughter. It seems reasonable to assume he was vegetarian, but it’s not absolutely explicit (either in the poetry, or in my script). For example, there is one line of the Bījak quoted in Religious Vegetarianism from Hesiod to the Dalai Llama that seems to advocate vegetarianism, but I had no reasons to choose their translation of “You should not eat fishes or flesh over what grows in the fields” over the very different “You eat animals and fish as if they grew in the fields“. I’m grateful to Brianne Donaldson and Susan Brill for that discussion.

The original Hindi text is online, should anyone wish to discuss the translation in the comments.

The non-vegetarian interpretation of the Kabir lines in the show would be to claim that throat-cutting was about Islamic ritual slaughter, rather than killing in general. But Kabir obviously isn’t suggesting a different way of killing; he’s suggesting kichri.

(“Kichri” is the name of the dish of rice and beans. Its seasoning of salt was described as “amrit”, literally “un-death”, which after talking to a helpful Sikh vegan I rendered as “bloodless salt”.)

With time, I could have delved into Sikh vegetarianism more. As it happens, the oldest marathon runner in the world is a Sikh vegetarian who (like me) lives in East London. I didn’t go into detail in part because I couldn’t find a consistent strand that goes back to the sixteenth century; the movements towards vegetarianism within Sikhism are informed by its own sense of self-discipline, the conversation with the other religious traditions of India, and the basic principle of compassion.

Emperor Jahangir

Jahangir is Akbar’s son and successor. He kept lurking at the fringe of the story, barely doing enough to be properly featured.

Most interestingly, there’s his complex relationship with Akbar.

He ordered the murder of Akbar’s vizier (who described the Hall of Worship in this episode). His guilt over this might be a driver of his own dalliance with vegetarianism (see Findly). Which might be why he wrote so admiringly of the Rishis (also in the episode).

He also ordered the death of the Sikh leader Guru Arjan, which pushed the Sikhs into becoming the martial religion we know today.

Geek Reference of the Month

“Ferengi” / “Farang” is the word for foreigner throughout Asia – not just in Hindi (and Tamil, which is what the Jesuit Roberto de Nobilis spoke with locals) – but in Persian and Thai and Chinese as well. It derives from “Franks”, which became the Arab name for Western Europeans back when Charlemagne’s Frankish empire was its main power.

For most westerners, though, it was familiar for another reason. Writers chose the Asian word as the name of an acquisitive species in Star Trek who would rival the East India Companies for greed.

Credits

Archive Qawaali and Sikh Temple audio CC-BY Vintage Sense and Casa Asia, respectively.

The theme music is by Robb Masters. The actors were Sandeep Garcha, Selva Rasalingham, and Jeremy Hancock.

This episode is sponsored by Kickstarter backer Jaysee Costa.

Bibliography

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

I particularly recommend the chapter of Rizvi that deals with the interactions with Bakhtis – it’s on the Internet Archive.

1630116 X5UIHXD7 items 1 chicago-author-date author asc 1 http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/ Ahmad, Imtiaz, and Helmut Reifeld, eds. 2004. Lived Islam in South Asia: Adaptation, Accommodation, and Conflict. New Delhi: Social Science Press. Bramly, Serge. 1994. Leonardo: The Artist and the Man. London; New York: Penguin Books. Findly, Ellison B. 1987. “Jahāngīr’s Vow of Non-Violence.” Jameroriesoci Journal of the American Oriental Society 107 (2): 245–56. ʻAzīz Aḥmad. 1964. Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Jain, Shalin. 2012. “Interaction of the ‘Lords’: The Jain Community and the Mughal Royalty under Akbar.” Socialscientist Social Scientist 40 (3–4): 33–57. Jhaverī, Kr̥shṇalāla Mohanalāla. 1928. Imperial Farmans, A.D. 1577 to A.D. 1805, Granted to the Ancestors of His Holiness the Tikayat Maharaj. India: publisher not identified. Malcolm, John. 1824. A Memoir of Central India 2. 2. London. 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. Rezavi, S. A. N. 2008. “Religious Disputations and Imperial Ideology: The Purpose and Location of Akbar’s Ibadatkhana.” Studies in History 24 (2): 195–209. https://doi.org/10.1177/025764300902400203. Rizvi, Saiyid Athar Abbas. 1978. A History of Sufism in India. Vol. 1. 2 vols. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. https://archive.org/stream/AHistoryOfSufismInIndiaVol.OneSaiyidAtharAbbasRizvi/. Saraiva, António José, and H. P. Salomon. 2001. The Marrano Factory: The Portuguese Inquisition and Its New Christians 1536 - 1765. Leiden: Brill. 1 Truschke, Audrey Angeline. 2012. “Cosmopolitan Encounters: Sanskrit and Persian at the Mughal Court.” http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/item/ac:145903.

Oct 06 2016

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Rank #12: VegHist Ep 9: Renaissance. Descartes, Montaigne, Gassendi, and the “sparing diet”; with Jean-Charles Darmon, Deepak Kumar, and Justin Begley; in Paris, France

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Ancient philosophers inspire Renaissance thinkers to challenge the old hierarchy of man over beast. 

Episode 9: Renaissance

Old medieval certainties are cracking under the combined assault of new sciences and rediscovered classics. It’s an age when “natural philosophers” combine scientific discovery with philosophical treatises, and when their Republic of Letters transcends political boundaries in the name of free thought.

It’s the age of Descartes, whose mechanical philosophy dismisses animals as “automatons”. But rivals like Gassendi suggest that animals have more in common with humans than he thinks. Ian traces the trail from Paris to the Mughal Court and back to the medical schools of the Enlightenment. He discovers the forgotten story of how Christian mythology, early anatomy, classical thinkers, and Indian medicine came together in respected medical schools that taught students to prescribe a vegetable diet.

Play or download (61MB MP3 44min) (via iTunes) or read transcript.

Contributors:

Click to view slideshow.

Readings

Descartes’ readings represent the course of his philosophy, but aren’t in chronological order in the show. Descartes first propounded his mechanistic ideas about animal “automatons” in his 1638 “Discourse on Method”, but articulated it more clearly for us in a letter from 1649. He didn’t touch on it in his First Meditations (1641), but Gassendi did raise it in his response.

Geek Reference of the Month

Just Lady Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. And all the characters in the show who are leading scientists.

Credits

Background advice came from Renan LaRue and Antonia Lolo. Location photographs are by Vincent Migeotte, my production assistant in Paris.

The theme music is by Robb Masters.

The period music was Anna Simboli’s performance of ‘Signor, quell’infelice’ from L’Orfeo by Montiverdi (CC-BY); and, to evoke 1700 London, Papalin’s performance on recorders of Henry Purcell’s Sonata in C Major (CC-BY), which is dedicated to Lady Rhodia Cavendish.

Archive monastery bells recorded by Robin Whittaker, Gregorian chant CC-BY Ramagochi, fast ticking recorded CC-BY Patrick Liberkind, and clockwork toy recorded CC-BY Steven Brown.

The cover picture is The Garden of Eden, by Jan Brueghel.

I’m very grateful to the actors of historical drama group Joot Theatre Company, at the University of Dundee – Connor Ogg (Monro), Iain Brodie (Cullen) and Vachel Novesha. Dr Jo George is their director of Joot Theatre Company, and was extremely helpful in helping set this up, and Brian Hoyle was their studio producer. Other parts were played by Sally Beaumont (Margaret Cavendish) and Guillaume Blanchard.

Bibliography

1630116 VGRU9HKC items 1 chicago-author-date author asc 1 http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/ Bramly, Serge. 1994. Leonardo: The Artist and the Man. London; New York: Penguin Books. Kundra, Sakul. 2010. “François Bernier’s Discourse on the Health System in Medieval India.” The National Medical Journal of India 23 (4): 236–39. Stuart, Tristram. 2007. The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Wallis, John. 1700. “A Letter of Dr Wallis to Dr Tyson, Concerning Mens Feeding on Flesh.” Philosophical Transactions 22 (260–276): 769–85. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstl.1700.0070.

Dec 08 2016

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Rank #13: Vegan Politicians: Kerry McCarthy MP on Brexit

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As the British public make their biggest decision in a generation, Ian asks Kerry McCarthy MP about the potential impact of Brexit on animals.

Vegan MP on EU Referendum

In this special short extra edition of the Vegan Option, Ian catches up with longstanding vegan MP, and main official opposition spokeswoman on farming and the environment, Kerry McCarthy. How does she think animals would vote? (And, for that matter, how will Ian?)

Play or download (17MB MP3) (via iTunes)

I compiled the thoughts of ten EU immigrant vegans for a post on my friend Sean’s blog, Fat Gay Vegan.

I also mentioned the UK Government’s recent proposal (now withdrawn) to make the poultry industry self-regulating.

Party Spokeswomen and man on Brexit:

Podcaster and YouTuber VeganTrix (SoundCloud) filmed Kerry McCarthy’s full talk to VegFestUK [since deleted from YouTube]. It’s an hour long and very interesting, with a bit of gossip about life as a vegan MP. Plus, I’m in it. An audio-only version will be up soon.

Other articles:

Credits

Music by Robb Masters. Interview recorded at VegFestUK Bristol.

Jun 11 2016

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Rank #14: VegHist Ep 10: Revolution. English civil war, diet gurus, and the poetry of Sensibility; with Tristram Stuart and Anita Guerrini; at the Ahmedabad Panjrapole

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When printing lets ordinary people access a world of ideas, including Indian vegetarianism, some European radicals and diet gurus begin to oppose meat-eating.

Episode 10: Revolution

In England, the 1600s are a century of revolution. The artisans and yeomanry are picking up books – and the New Model Army is picking up pikes and muskets to turn the world upside down.

Ian meets Dr Ariel Hessayon, a lecturer in the radicals of the English Civil War at a Thameside pub that was there during the 1600s, to discover tabloid scares and firebrand sermons about people who ate only bread, and water and fruit.

In Ahmedabad, India, he visits the kind of animal hospital that astounded European travellers. And he hears from author Tristram Stuart about the impact stories of India had on Europeans, and how they shook Christendom’s moral certainty.

Dr Anita Guerrini researches the first vegetarian diet gurus, whose books about food and medicine interpreted the intellectuals of the Republic of Letters for everyone else. And she tells Ian about the secret religion of Sir Isaac Newton.

Play or download (62MB MP3 44min) (via iTunes) or read transcript

Contributors:

Readings

Production Notes

This is really where the story breaks open in the west and a “Pythagorean” diet re-enters the popular consciousness for the first time since antiquity. Frustratingly, I had to leave out a lot, such as how Thomas Tryon follows the mystic Jakob Boehme (quite a lot of early vegetarians are mystics) .

In particular, George Cheyne has a very specific theory of how the nervous system works, based on the physical laws of Newton. But I can’t go into detail on all the theories that have fallen and risen as “natural history” stumbles towards a useful understanding of the body.

The monument to Roger Crab is still in St. Dunstan’s, Stepney, London, though unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate it. As I live near there, it would be nice to pay our vegan predecessor some respects.

The broadcast of this episode was on 6 Dec 2016. The podcast release was severely delayed. Rather than date this page with the broadcast date (as usual) I’m dating it to the January broadcast slot that was superseded by Resonance FM’s holiday schedules. Content (whether books, journal articles, or programmes) tends to be identified by its publication year, and so I thought it particularly important that that stays accurate.

Credits

The theme music is by Robb Masters.

The period music was Greensleeves performed by Paul Arden-Taylor and Carol Holt (PD); slow reels (dances) “Long Acre” and “Kerry Fling” performed by the “Peak Fiddler”; Papalin’s performance on recorders of Henry Purcell’s Sonata in D Major (CC-BY) to again evoke turn-of-the-century London, and Telemann’s performance of Händel’s recorder Sonata.

With the voices of Jeremy Hancock, Ian Russell, and Brian Roberts.

Nimi Hirani gave me enormous help and assistance in Ahmedabad, and in India in general.

The cover picture (by me) is some of the books in the readings: “Acetaria” (Evelyn) , “The English Hermit” (Crab), a pamphlet attacking Crab, and “Guide to Health, Long Life and Happiness” by George Cheyne.

Bibliography

1630116 B8MIXFTF items 1 chicago-author-date author asc 1 http://theveganoption.org/wp-content/plugins/zotpress/ Ariel Hessayon. 2004. “Crab, Roger (c. 1616-1680), Hermit.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Guerrini, Anita. 1999. “A Diet for a Sensitive Soul: Vegetarianism in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” Eighteenth-Century Life 23 (2): 34–42. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/10487. Hill, Christopher. 1964. Puritanism and Revolution: Studies in Interpretation of the English Revolution of the 17th Century. New York: Schocken Books. Hill, Christopher. 1972. The World Turned Upside down; Radical Ideas during the English Revolution. New York: Viking Press. Larue, Renan. 2009. “Les bienfaits controversés du régime maigre le Traité des dispenses du carême de Philippe Hecquet et sa réception (1709-1714).” Dix-huitième siècle, no. 41 (September): 409–30. http://www.cairn.info/resume.php?ID_ARTICLE=DHS_041_0409. Lodrick, Deryck O. 1981. Sacred Cows, Sacred Places: Origins and Survivals of Animal Homes in India. Berkeley: University of California Press. Stuart, Tristram. 2007. The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Jan 03 2017

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Rank #15: Vegan Cheese: Casein, Casomorphins, and the Daiya Redwoods Vegusto Taste Test

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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?

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(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

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