vegetarianism

Human-Led Environmental Devastation in the News Again

I’m not sure if it was possible to not hear about the horrific recent United Nations assessment on wildlife decline and extinction as it made front page news all over - but if you missed it, here’s one of the many stories covering its findings.

Relatedly, here’s an article discussing how meat consumption plays a huge role in climate change and needs to decrease by 90%. Of course, that’s only one of a multitude of corporate and cultural changes we would have to make…

The Intelligence of Fish

Here are two articles on fish intelligence I've read recently, though the first is problematic in terms of writing (overblown results language in the title and first couple paragraphs) and in terms of non-ideal (cruel) experimental processes.  Watching fish suffocate alive on ice in a seafood store in Florida instigated my vegetarianism, actually.

Fish are sentient animals who form friendships and experience 'positive emotions', landmark study suggests

Fish can’t recognise faces if they’re upside down – just like us

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 4

Some random observations:

1) I am quite tall for the Iberian Peninsula (both Portugal and Spain).  Headrests on buses and cars hit me in the back and I tower over pretty much all of the women and many of the men.  I'm only very slightly taller than average (5'6" with average being 5'5" for women) in the USA, so it's weird feeling so very tall.

2) Madrid is a dog city.  I noted that when I was here in 2007, too, and I love seeing all the dogs.  I get to pet and play with a few particularly friendly ones, too, and that's grand.  I do wish it was less of a dog poop city, though.  Many people do pick up their dog's poop with little baggies and toss it away appropriately, but many also do not.

3) Travelers' diarrhea is really unpleasant.  I kept getting it here the first few weeks and can't figure out what the precise culprit is.  I feel that since I lived here once before (admittedly ten years ago) it is wholly unfair that it keeps happening (three separate occasions thus far).

4) Madrid is getting ever so slightly better with vegetarianism, but it's still very hard to be vegetarian here if you want to eat out.

5) Despite having lived here before and this being the case in other cities I've done residencies in as well, I'm still not entirely used to shops closing from 2-5pm.  I like the European mindset toward work-life balance, but I'd prefer shift workers such that the stores could stay open.

6) If you live without A/C in constant 100-103*F weather, having one day that's overcast and merely 96*F feels markedly better.

7) Many Spaniards really don't speak English.  I do speak enough Spanish to get along, but Fari doesn't speak any Spanish and I think she's surprised at how much it hinders her here - for a big European city like Madrid, the proportion who don't speak English is probably higher here than almost anywhere else of a similar size.

8) The flat I'm in has no microwave, no oven, and no pot with a lid.  This severely hampers what I am able to cook.  I'm also nervous that eating fresh fruit and vegetables is part of what's contributing to the traveler's diarrhea.  As a result, I'm eating out a lot.

9) People drink non-alcoholic beer here surprisingly often.  I typically only see it on offer in Muslim-run restaurants in the US.  I only drink decaf coffee, so I get liking the taste of something but not the drug within it - but the cheap beer served everywhere here, Mahou, is to me not something I would prefer to other drinks without the alcohol...

10) There are more Asian immigrants here than ten years ago - a lot more.  I used to walk around with an Asian friend in 2007 and people would scream "china" and run over to stare at her like she was in a zoo; nowadays there are "Chinese bazaars" on almost every street run by Asian immigrants.

11) There's a couple species of invasive small green parrot here.   The more common one, the Argentinian parrot, has a very loud, annoying call.  They're surprisingly hard to pin down in photos, but I've encountered them a few times.

Global Environmental Problems with Eating Meat

The Washington Post recently covered this topic with some details I didn't know about before - like Denmark considering a tax on all red meat and the fact that of all the nations studied, the US could reduce its health care budget the most by cutting out American consumption of meat due to our country's ridiculous average diet.  Check it out!

Parrot Intelligence

I'm now more than halfway through Carl Safina's Beyond Words (I discussed my interest in the book previously in this post) and the experiences and information he relates are very powerful messages about animal intelligence.  A much shorter but no less potent read is one of this week's The New York Times Magazine articles entitled "What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?"

I've long believed that many people, either consciously or subconsciously, choose to deny the breadth and depth of animal intelligence out of guilt about their own practices and values.  Eating meat, supporting factory farming, purchasing leather/ivory/horn/bone products, damaging the environment, keeping pets in traumatic conditions as per the article (and judging animals solely as property in the eyes of the law) - these types of decisions are easier to explain away when the victims aren't sentient.