Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quote of the Day #2

"Doctor Dolittle, by the way, may be hard to find, as he is now often banned by pompously correct librarians. They worry about the racism in The Story of Doctor Dolittle, but this was all but universal in the 1920s. In any case it is offset by the Doctor's splendid fight against the slave trade in Doctor Dolittle's Post Office, and, more profoundly, by the stand that all Doctor Dolittle books make against the vice of speciesism, which is as unquestioned today as racism was in earlier times."
-Footnote on Page 53 of Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hitler was Veg*n!

It often gets brought up that Hitler was a vegetarian and occasionally someone will go so far as to claim Hitler was a vegan (even though the term was only coined in 1944).

The issue itself isn't a particularly large one for vegans. Attempting to use Hitler's diet to make any point about vegetarianism is using the reductio ad Hitlerum logical falacy (really ignoratio elenchi). I've been told that Hitler didn't smoke either and this doesn't bother me in the least as a non-smoker.

Nonetheless, this is an interesting question relating to veganism and skepticism. What was Hitler's diet like? Was Hitler in fact a vegetarian?

On May 30, 1937 the New York Times published an article titled "Where Hitler Dreams and Plans", written by Otto D. Tolischus. In the article Tolischus writes, "During breakfast, which usually consists of milk, bread, oatmeal, honey, and cheese, [Hitler] reads the newspapers, especially his own Voelkische Beobachter."

Hitler's diet certainly was not light on the animal products, but at least for breakfast it appears Hitler tended to stay vegetarian. Tolischus continues, "It is well known that Hitler is a vegetarian and does not drink or smoke. His lunch and dinner consist, therefore, for the most part of soup, eggs, vegetables and mineral water, although he occasionally relishes a slice of ham and relieves the tediousness of his diet with such delicacies as caviar, luscious fruits and similar tidbits."

Hitler certainly considered himself to be vegetarian, as is written here and is repeated by a number of other sources. At the time this article was published, his diet appears to have been low, but not absent of meat, and high in other animal products. He could most appropriately be described by today's language as a flexitarian.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Honesty is important in our information and approach. This can be difficult, because in today's society, it seems that if we don't scream the loudest, we're not heard. Because moderate voices are often drowned out, there can be pressure to exaggerate claims in order to advance our cause and to counter those who lie to defend the status quo. Furthermore, there's a natural tendency to accept any claim we want to believe without critical examination. This can be especially true of vegetarians, who often feel isolated in a meat-eating world. In the long run, however, being uncritical in the information we believe and use for advocacy can harm our efforts, because we lose support from people who have come to realize that we're not objective, and we miss chances to convince people who are inherently skeptical.

More importantly, meat eaters are looking for some reason to dismiss new and potentially inconvenient truths--few people want to face the suffering in the world, let alone make real changes in their lives. If we offer them one morsel of questionable information among our sea of facts, they will seize on that to write off everything we say as suspect. It is imperative we present information the public can't disregard from sources they can't dismiss."
From The Animal Activist's Handbook by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich