Here’s why vegans should still get it.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Animals were harmed in the making of the COVID vaccines. To make the one I received, 42 monkeys and 64 mice were held in monotonous confinement, experimented on against their will, and murdered so their bodies could be cut up and examined. If you picked up similar creatures from the pet store and treated them the same way animal experimenters do, you’d be jailed.

When we say a product is vegan, we mean it was developed without animal exploitation. By that definition, these vaccines are about as vegan as cheeseburgers.

I’m the most radical vegan you are likely to meet…


Why I stopped being vegetarian

A stunning photograph of a large male lion reclining in the shadows and looking off into the distance
Photo: Hugo Pivaral

I became vegetarian because I didn’t want to kill anymore. I hadn’t read any animal rights philosophy, and I didn’t see any factory farm footage. I was just sick of killing. It’s a long story — longer than it should have been — but here’s a summary: I slaughtered a pig with my friends late in high school, tried to justify it to myself for months, failed, and then swore off meat as soon as I moved out of my childhood home.

The pig we killed was more “free-range” and “organic” than any you can buy in America. He still…


‘Music opened the door, and behind it, I found an animal like me’

An arty photograph of a shirtless man with his outstretched arm, which has a red-and-blue parrot perched near the elbow.
Photo: Kamay/Pexels

Alfonso pressed a CD into my hand and gave me a mission: Memorize the name of every musician and song on the album. In a few days, he planned to play a random 15-second section, and I would pass his quiz if I could identify the tune and its players by ear.

For a jazz aficionado, I suspect this task would have been trivially easy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one. My mother had decided I would play the trumpet, hoping that the limited three buttons would give my clumsy hands more of an opportunity. After a few years of embarrassing progress…


Plants can communicate with one another, sense their environment, and react to danger. But can they suffer?

A person with their head leaned all the way back holding a bunch of long-stemmed flowers in their mouth like a vase.
Photo: cottonbro via Pexels

Plants are sensitive. Some can hear the sounds of a munching caterpillar and respond by releasing defensive chemicals. Others can smell scents as subtle as that of an approaching animal. Many can see light using photoreceptors, and certain carnivorous plants can even feel the footsteps of their prey. From our anthropocentric perch, it’s easy to view plants as inanimate objects — evidently, they are something more.

However, being able to sense is not the same as having an experience of those senses. Just because Siri can hear what I’m saying doesn’t mean she has the conscious experience of listening, and…


It’s time to settle the debate that pits bad science against worse philosophy

A gorilla sits with its legs drawn up to its chest and its arms resting on its knees.
Photo: Pixabay via Pexels

As a vegan who likes to preach veganism — but perhaps that’s redundant —meat-eaters often tell me that “we evolved to be omnivores.” To their surprise, I agree with them. Though I am a vegan, my academic training is in human evolutionary biology, and I cannot let my philosophy hijack the science: Veganism is an unnatural way of life.

Our bodies evolved to kill other animals. Our musculoskeletal anatomy is perfectly tuned to throw objects with lethal speed and precision. We didn’t evolve this strange ability to throw baseballs, but to throw spears — a skill we have utilized to…


Americans sacrifice each other for meat under the shadow of coronavirus

Photo: Ant Rozetsky via Unsplash

Would you eat a burger with a little bit of human in it?

Most of us recoil at the prospect of cannibalism not because of an allergy or an aversion to the taste, but because we are disgusted at the prospect of another human dying for our dinner. For the same reason you wouldn’t wear a wig made from someone who was scalped, you wouldn’t eat a burger made from someone’s thigh. If human life is worth anything, it is worth more than a couple of minutes of palette pleasure.

If you live in the United States, human beings are…


Pangolins don’t kill people, people kill people

Photo: Stephen C. Dickson via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Pangolins were imprisoned long before their conviction in the court of public opinion. Though we now know them as the source of the novel coronavirus, their claim to fame was once their status as the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal. Their scales make them look like the lovechild of an anteater and a pinecone; the scale of their exploitation tramples whatever delight one might take from their strange appearance.

Every five minutes, a pangolin is taken from the wild. This means that before you reach the end of this story, some helpless pangolin will be kidnapped for a life of…


A look at the 2020 election from the perspective of other species.

Not this guy. Photo: White House via Wikimedia Commons

It’s normal for us vegans to walk into a restaurant, look at the menu, and realize the options are both limited and unappetizing. This will be good practice for looking at our ballots in 2020.

To describe either of our options as honest would be to identify yourself as otherwise. Biden’s plagiarism and tall tales could draw vicarious embarrassment from a sociopath, and Trump lives in a state of open conflict with the truth. And while age alone shouldn’t be grounds for disqualification, being able to stay alive for 4 years is a rather important part of the job. Trump…


The origin of the original plant-based meat is clouded with multiple theories

‘An Elegant Party’ (detail) by Emperor Huizong of Song (r. 1100–1125 AD) via Patricia Ebrey’s Cambridge Illustrated History of China (1999)/Wikimedia Commons

Plant-based meats are exploding on the American market. Over the past two years alone, we’ve seen a 37.1% surge in their sales, with even more dramatic growth projected for 2020. Burger King credits their best quarter in four years to their new Impossible Whopper, and Dunkin’ Donuts easily doubled expected sales for their Beyond Meat sandwich. Understandably, competitors are now scrambling to add plant-based options to their menus. In a matter of moments, meat alternatives have left the fringe and burst onto the American mainstream.

Given the sudden and ongoing nature of the way this trend has been covered in…


What prison could teach us about freedom

Photo: Noemí García Reimunde via Unsplash

A guest would assume I’ve been stockpiling for a war against boredom. Enter my apartment, and you will see that my shelves are overflowing with hundreds of books, and my coffee table is stacked with magazines. My television is armed with Netflix and a Nintendo Switch (locked and loaded with the new Animal Crossing). The closet boasts a more old-fashioned armory: board games, calligraphy sets, and crochet kits sit ready for battle.

I’m living in one of the fanciest prison cells of all time. The ceilings are high enough to make a claustrophobe comfortable, and the fridge is stocked to…

Macken Murphy

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