Every Meal is Illuminated

October 12, 2009

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Over the weekend, the New York Times “Food Issue” featured the ingenious Jonathan Safran Foer’s (“Everything Is Illuminated”) article “Against Meat“. This article is adapted from his coming book, “Eating Animals,” which will be published in November. You can read an interview with him about the project here. Thanks to our friends at Dawnwatch for pointing this out!

Eating Animals

Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood-facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child’s behalf-his casual questioning took on an urgency  His quest for answers ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night, dissect the emotional ingredients of meals from his childhood, and probe some of his most primal instincts about right and wrong. Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, memoir and his own detective work, Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting. Marked by Foer’s profound moral ferocity and unvarying generosity, as well as the vibrant style and creativity that made his previous books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, widely loved, Eating Animals is a celebration and a reckoning, a story about the stories we’ve told-and the stories we now need to tell. – Amazon.com

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Ethical Exploits Vol.4: California Dreamin’

October 9, 2009

Day-to-day choices for the ethically handsome man
By Matt Lara

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Where the Wild Photos Are: BABOONS IN PROFILE, AMBOSELI 2007

While everyone was checking out wild fashion at NYC Fashion Week, I was moving out to the wild, wild west known as Los Angeles. My first excursion out of the world of unpacking and back into the world of enjoyment was a visit to the Fahey/Klein Gallery to see A Shadow Falls by photographer Nick Brandt. Little did I know that a fun afternoon trip would turn out to be a private audience with the photographer himself! I was astonished to hear him explain that it was the gorgeous African wildlife that originally drew him in, and that this was the best way for him to honor it. The work is also available as a book. An excerpt from the introduction:

“For me, every creature on this planet has an equal right to live. Whether human being, Serengeti elephant, or factory farm cow. That is why I take these photographs. I hope that maybe you will see these animals, these non-humans, in the way that I do—as not so very different from us.”

App Happy:

According to a friend of mine, I have finally joined the “evil empire” with the purchase of my new iPhone. After figuring out picture-texting and voice activation, I sought out some of the more useful apps for healthy and compassionate ladies and germs:

Vegan Yum Yum has fantastic recipes from their blog, some with photos. I like how you can check off ingredients, which is helpful while in the grocery store.

Dirty Produce from the Environmental Working Group is a quick list of the most highly sprayed crops for when it’s difficult to find all organic produce.

Thanks to Chloe at GirlieGirlArmy for Be Nice To Bunnies which lists companies that test their products on animals. So helpful in those giant drug store aisles.

Whole Foods also has a nice app full of recipes I have been flipping through. They are arranged by category including vegan and gluten-free dishes.

Stir Crazy
Okay, I am still learning how to make astounding dishes a la Joshua Katcher (the DB himself). For now, I am a fan of the “dump-and-stir” recipe. This one looks, feels, and tastes special every time I stir-and-serve it. Therefore, I make it often:

Lemony Chickpea Tofu Stir Fry, and Stay tuned for more crazy stirring…

ChicpeaStirfry

A Real Food Day


A few days after my big move I grabbed lunch with the man behind those naughty candles over at A Scent of Scandal, Ari Solomon. We laughed and chewed for quite a while over some wonderful dishes at Real Food Daily in West Hollywood. According to his recommendation, I am to come back and stuff myself with their nachos with melted cashew-cheddar cheese. That is after my next stop, the brand-new Veggie Grill on Sunset Boulevard!

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Now that I’m pretty much all moved, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a good living space and a good day-job. I’ll keep you posted! If anyone out there has any tips, questions, or suggestion about living Ethically Handsome on the West Coast, please leave me a comment below!


Sonic Neckties, Land O’ Aches, The Conscious Cook & Green Porn

October 6, 2009

https://i2.wp.com/www.harpercollins.com/harperimages/isbn/large/8/9780061874338.jpg Tal Ronnen, the notorious chef that got Oprah to go vegan, shares his enticing, unexpected vegan dishes with everyone who relishes eating beautiful, flavorful, and filling food. In the Conscious CookEvery recipe delivers on his promise to omnivores and foodies: “You won’t miss the meat.”

It’s so cool that the Girlie Girl Army crew pointed out these Limited Edition “Sonic Neckties” made from recycled audio cassette tape! Get them in skinny or wide at Supermarket for 90$recycled cassette tape thin necktie from improbable projects

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• Where simple goodness begins? The picturesque, historically inaccurate and greenwashed imagery on the cover of Land O’ Lakes products can not hide the cruelty under the wrapping. A new PETA undercover investigation inside a Land O’Lakes supplier facility in Pennsylvania has revealed routine neglect and cruelty to cows who are milked for the Fortune 250 company’s products.

• The only porno I’d ever recommend to you guys is the amazingly clever Green Porno by Isabella Rosellini on the Sundance Channel. Hilarious, hot, and the best biology and ecology lesson you’ve ever had.

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Shirts, Books, Kicks, Bites

August 27, 2009

• Buy A Cool Organic Shirt from PARTYBOTS, Help Mercy For Animals!

$2 from every online apparel sale and 5% from all wholesale order get donated to Mercy For Animals to help assist in their efforts for animal compassion, education, investigations, grassroots activism and more.

True RomanceSea OtterTuna School Of FishVelocipede Boneshaker

Check out these new books from some of our favorite animal advocates:

The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in TroubleDon't Dump the Dog: Outrageous Stories and Simple Solutions to Your Worst Dog Behavior Problems

• Just for Kicks. Check these new, striking cruelty-free shoes.Zip Top Boot

• Check out some of the amazing recipes at G LIVING. The recipes are delectable, and photographed beautifully. We re drooling over here!

Banfield, the nation’s largest veterinary practice with 730 hospitals and 2,000 Banfield, The Pet Hospital, a national chain of veterinary clinics associated with PetsMart, says it will no longer perform tail docking or ear cropping on dogs. The practice is common with breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Boxers and various spaniels and terriers.veterinarians, including many in PetSmart stores, announced it will stop performing cosmetic tail docking, ear cropping, or devocalization (de-barking) of dogs.  Read The Article.
“After thoughtful consideration and reviewing medical research, we have determined it is in the best interest of the pets we treat, as well as the overall practice, to discontinue performing these unnecessary cosmetic procedures,” says Karen Faunt, vice president for medical quality advancement. “It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether.”



Ethical Explolits Vol.3

August 17, 2009

The ups and downs day-to-day ethical living.
By Featured Contributor, Matt Lara

Normally I’m all peace, love, and Veggie Booty, but I’ve been a little stressed out this summer. The money has been tight, and not much has been happening with my projects. So I decided to reinvest in regrouping. To help counteract these trying times I’m going to go Maria Von Trap on you and embrace my inner self-help guru. These are a few of my favorite things:

Sasquatch JournalSasquatch Spotting
Since I’m feeling a little stuck creatively, I decided to reread on of my favorite books: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a 12-week program aimed at unblocking creativity and it involves quite a bit of writing which is perfect for these Sasquatch notebooks made by CarolinaPad. They are named after the elusive creature leaves only a rare footprint behind, and these products are made with mostly recycled materials. The comp books I’ve been using are made from no less than 100% recycled paper. I’m onto you sasquatch…

The Happy Company Down To Earth Eye PillowLay Down to Earth
Yes, I am a man with an eye pillow. I received this Down To Earth Eye Pillow from The Happy Company. It’s made from 100% Organic Cotton, and comes minimally-packaged in recycled paper printed with soy-based inks. I used to be the last person in the world who would have an eye pillow. Now I can’t wait to cool this baby down in the freezer and lay back with its light and easy aroma of eucalyptus.

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Wanna Walk?
When was the last time you went for a walk? To me, walking for its own sake is de-stressing at its simplest. If you’re already a walker, I recommend a visit to a walking labyrinth found via the World Wide Labyrinth Locator. I’m getting a little hippy-dippy here, but I promise there’s nothing spooky about it. You may even find David Bowie in there. They are meant for meditation without the sitting still. Your concern about where you’re going becomes secondary as you let your mind relax and go with its natural rythms. Definitely something to try.

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Meditate
While we’re at it, the sitting still kind of meditation is wonderful in 10 minute intervals. You would be amazed at how it can turn around a busy day. Try this Meditation 101 from Yoga Journal. Yoga Journal: yoga poses, yoga video, yoga articles, yoga studios and teachers

Since Ethical Explloits explores the triumphs and disappointments of ethical living, I have to acknowledge that it can get very difficult out there. Why do the worlds of fashion, food, and pop culture have such mixed up values? It stupefies me. But fear not! By becoming Discerning Brutes, we can choose to embody poise and style as our weapons rather than stress and anger. We worry enough as it is, and just don’t need the health detriments that anxiety brings. I say invest in de-stressing. Schedule it, do it, hold to it, and be at your optimum.

-Matt Lara

MattLara

Matt is an actor, singer, closet poet, dancer, avid reader, guitar picker, waiter, home cook, nosey coffee shop guy, animal lover…he basically has to know how to do everything. He lives in New York and Los Angeles.


The Do-Good Dad: Father’s Day Guide

June 16, 2009

Father’s Day is this Sunday. If you haven’t gotten anything for dear old dad yet, in addition to making a donation to your favorite organization in your father’s name, here are some good gift ideas:

Bid on one of a million amazing things at CharityBuzz. Check out the Dads & Grads auction. From hanging out with Patrick Dempsey at Daytona to meeting Bill Clinton, sitting in box seats at the US Open, watching the Yankees play the Red Sox, taking a swimming clinic with Michael Phelps, or a Kenny Chesney autographed Guitar! There is more cool stuff than I can list here. Just don’t bid on the fishing trip. Ugh.

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BREAK THE BANK! If you are loaded, your dad might like a Tesla Roadster (starts at $101,000) or Model S – both electric performance vehicles from Tesla Motors. The Model S is capable of rocketing from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds and traveling up to 300 miles on a single 45 minute charge (starts at $49,900 which is not that bad)!

tesla model-s, Tesla Sedan, Tesla electric vehicle, tesla model S revealed, electric sedan, Tesla roadster, green design, sustainable design, green transportation

For the rest of us who can only afford to splurge a little bit…

Organic Dress Shirts form CULTURATA (check for local stockists)

Matt & Nat Mens’ Accessories: Shop HERE.

Or if you’re in NYC, go to this event:

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Make a donation to Mercy For Animals before Father’s Day on June 21st and Rory Freedman, co-author of Skinny Bastard will match your contribution, dollar-for-dollar – totaling up to $5,000! Donate $100 or more and you will receive an autographed copy of Skinny Bastard – a guide for macho men on eating well and getting in shape the healthy and cruelty-free way!

Get dad into shape w/ The Engine 2 Diet, Thrive in 30, and Skinny Bastard!

https://i0.wp.com/www.brendanbrazier.com/book/images/Thrive_Media_low%20res.jpgEngine2

Kicks! Check out our favs for dad from Bourgeois Boheme, NOHARM, and NOVACAS:

https://i2.wp.com/www.karmavore.ca/images/thumbs/sm_prod_justin_brown1.png Product Details https://i2.wp.com/www.bboheme.com/images/COMPASSIVOBROWN.jpg

A Recycled Billboard “George Dopp Kit

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Organic Grooming from Dr Bronner, and Herban Cowboy!

Organic Grooming - Men's Body Care Gift Set


DBTV: Plant Strong! Texas Firefighter, Rip Esselstyn of “The Engine 2 Diet”

June 15, 2009

Rip Esselstyn lives in Texas. He’s a firefighter, a triathlete, and author of the book “The Engine 2 Diet“, which started out as a 28-day challenge to lower the cholesterol of his fire crew (some with digits in the 340s!), and ended up giving them all (and hundreds of other Austin, Texas firefighters) much more than they bargained for! I chatted with Rip the other day about his book and how it’s changing people’s lives in under 30 days. We talked about everything from amazing pizza recipes, to boners, sports and manliness. Check it out:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Get the book!

Engine2

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DBTV: No Girls Allowed! An Interview w/ SKINNY BASTARD’s Rory Freedman

June 9, 2009

Skinny Bitch and friend of The Discerning Brute, Rory Freedman has done it again. But this time, she’s going for the family jewels! I had some time to call up this savvy bitch on Skype and get the scoop on everything from erectile dysfunction and ‘whack & sniff’ testing, to prostate health and the hundreds of buff vegan athletes. If you’re a guy that doesn’t want a gut to be your rite of passage, then check this out. Skinny Bastard will knock your jock-strap off with hard-hitting truths and no-nonsense advice. Say goodbye to that beer-gut and hello to hard-bodied handsomeness. Your heart, your brain, and your libido will thank you.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Get the friggin’ Book
, and enter to win an awesome prize!

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Film Fundraiser at The Peter Max Studio w/ Amazing Food & Celeb Guests!

June 6, 2009

I am embarking upon the production of a feature documentary film called “Standardized Testing” in collaboration with Kelly Overton of PATH (People Protecting Animals & Their Habitats).

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This pioneering, controversial and hilarious film follows PATH founder Kelly Overton, an overachieving activist who has degrees from Harvard, Tulane, Columbia and UMASS, as he attempts to return his diplomas and get his tuition refunded in an effort to bring attention to the dangerous and wasteful biomedical research being done at the universities.

https://i0.wp.com/www.michaelarnoldart.com/max_peter_love.jpgIn order to begin production on the film, the legendary artist Peter Max (http://www.petermax.com/) and activist Mary Max (http://www.kindgreenplanet.org/) have offered to host a production launch party – featuring food, drink, and special celebrity guests!

To purchase tickets, click here:
http://www.ppath.org.

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Special guests include: Golden Girl – Rue McClanahan, Actress -Ally Sheedy, International Phenomenon- Princess Superstar, CNN Commentator -Jane Velez-Mitchell, Glamazon Lifestyle Guru- Chloé Jo Berman, Healthy Chef – Alexandra Jamieson, and yours truly, The Discerning Brute- Joshua Katcher. More special guests to be announced!

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Featuring food & drink from 4 Course Vegan, Candle Cafe, Vegan Treats Bakery, Tuthilltown Spirits and Blackwell’s Organic Gelato!
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VeganTreats4 Course Vegan

Candle cafe

Friday, June 19th 2009
6:30 to 8:30 pm
The Max Studio
37 West 65th Street, 7th Floor
New York City

I would love for you to join me, and tickets start at just $100, and all proceeds go to PATH’s efforts to produce the film.

  • $100 per individual ticket
  • $350 for ticket and signed & dedicated Peter Max poster
  • $1,000 for ticket and signed & dedicated Peter Max poster and signed & dedicated The Art of Peter Max book*

To purchase tickets, click here:
http://www.ppath.org

Pass the word on Facebook!


Lawn Order: Spatial Victims

May 26, 2009

LawnCare

Aside from the 4-B’s of Mainstream American Male Identity: Beer, Ball, Bitches & Beef, there are a few other realms of manly-manifestation. The lawn is one of them. If you grew up in suburbia, like I did, you may have spent your summers mowing lawns, weed-waking, poisoning so-called ‘pests’, and cursing both the dandelions and the neighbors who so carelessly let their laws go wild!

I’ll never forget the summer my father (a man who grew up in Brooklyn – and who, upon purchasing his first small house in the suburbs of upstate New York with my mother, proceeded to mow the lawn every single day of the warm seasons), in a fit of rage and as a last-stitch effort to communicate with the new Chinese-speaking neighbors who had let the grass get tall, drew a cartoon of a person mowing a lawn and left it in their mailbox. The next step would be a stealthy midnight-mow, which I knew was dead-serious. I also will never forget the bizarre behavior of our other neighbors who spent most days on their hands and knees cutting the lawn with scissors first, weeding, and then mowing. The saddest part was, their lawn never really even looked good after all that elbow-grease!

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I was indoctrinated to the ways of the lawn early on, and I made a job of it,  dangerous and tedious as it was. I always felt a small pang of grief imagining that microcosm beneath the grass canopy subjected to a huge, gas-powered, spinning blade. I empathized with the crawly things when I would picture a similar scenario happening to my house. I also remember thinking how absolutely silly the whole idea was, but I could never really articulate exactly why.

Green carpets. Turf. Perfectly mowed, lush, thick, emerald yards with no weeds, pests or brown-patches. It’s almost like a myth; the perfect lawn. Commercials for fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and lawn-care hardware tell us that suburban-utopia is just within reach, and when you buy into the myth by buying their products and working away homogenizing a little patch of nature, your neighbors will love you, your community will rejoice, and your self-worth, financial worth, and status as a man will be carved in stone! Right?

But what exactly is a lawn? Where did this tradition come from, and how does this $30 billion industry of seeds, fertilizers, mowers, power-tools, and water continue to enthrall the masses with illusions of a threatless, perfectly-controlled environment? Most importantly, what are the ramifications of this phenomenon for our health, the planet, and our psyches?

The lawn certainly has not gone unnoticed. It is the subject of the books “The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession” by Virginia Scott Jenkins, and “American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn” by Ted Steinberg.

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Both of these books explore something so ubiquitous that most of us have never even stopped to ponder it’s meaning. The first thing to note is that the lawn is almost completely American – and as the American lifestyle continues to enthrall and infiltrate the globe, the lawn is short to follow. In the sixteenth century and continuing through the eighteenth, the “launde”, an open space or glade maintained by laborers wielding scythes, began to appear throughout the residences of British aristocrats. Obviously, it soon came to represent the leisure of class privilege, wealth, and power, and the culmination of lawn culture, according to Jenkins, was the establishment of twentieth century golf courses and country clubs. But as Steinburg argues, it never became the moral crusade it has become in America quite possibly because grass grows so effortlessly in Britain, and turfgrass is not at all native to North America – not even Kentucky Bluegrass. The early colonizers’ cattle quickly destroyed the native grasses, not used to grazing, and in came bluegrass seeds from Europe to fill that niche.

On a deeper level, the lawn represents a desire to control unpredictable, wild nature. Some anthropologists argue that that lawn comes from self-defense. When nomadic gatherer-hunters began settling into sedentary and semi-sedentary homes, they cleared the vegetation surrounding their dwellings in order to foresee potential danger coming – a predator, a snake, an enemy. The lawn is a bastion among the fearful and dangerous wilderness. Even more so, it is the manifestation of the deepest-seeded principals of our culture and civilization: man’s control over nature. Therefore, those who let their lawns go wild are threats to the foundation of civilization itself. Those who fail to uphold this symbol fail to be Americans. This is an unconscious concern, of course. I’d be startled to see my father articulate this to the Chinese family whose lawn-gone-wild was “destroying our neighborhood”.

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My father’s anger is not alone. Stories of pissed-off neighbors leaving notes, making death-threats, and organizing at midnight to mow the black-sheeps’ lawns are as bountiful and insidious as crabgrass and dandelions. The disconnect among American immigrants to their lawns is also hugely misunderstood, and often met with xenophobia, racism and aggression.

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The lawn is largely considered the male domain in the same sense that the backyard garden is traditionally considered the woman’s. And with it, comes an ever-expanding arsenal of tools made for killing and controlling. A man with a good lawn is simply seen as a powerful protector and provider. A place for the kids to play is also a defense against ticks and whatever other creatures could hide in less manicured yards.

Environmentally speaking, the partnership between the USDA and the US Golf Association (which made it possible for grass to be grown in all regions of this country) has been devastating to ecosystems with the overuse of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Couple that with suburban sprawl and the demands for water in dry regions of the country specifically for lawn maintenance, and the lawn reveals itself as a remarkable environmental problem.

FACTS

  • NASA scientists estimate that turf grass is the single-largest irrigated crop in the United States. According to the Cristina’s study about 128,000 square kilometers or nearly 32 million acres of the United States are covered with turf grass.
  • A 2002 Harris Survey suggests as a nation we spend $28.9 billion yearly on lawns. To put that into a personal perspective that translates into approximately $1,200 per household
  • 50 -70% of all urban fresh water is used for watering lawns. More than half this amount is wasted, because of inappropriate timing or dosage. Nearly all the water used could be save by appropriate use of native landscaping that does not require any watering beyond natural rainfall.
  • Air Pollution
  • 78 million households in the United States utilize garden pesticides.
  • $700 million is spent annually on pesticides for lawns in the US.
  • 67 million lbs of synthetic pesticides are added to lawns in the US each year.
  • We use three times as much pesticide on our lawns per acre as we do on our agricultural crops.
  • $5.25 billion is spent on fossil-fuel-derived fertilizer for U.S. lawns. The majority of this fertilizer is wasted because of improper timing or dosage and becomes a source of pollution to surface or ground water. Most of this expense and pollution could be eliminate by proper timing, proper dosage, or intelligent use of compost and other organic fertilizers.
  • A typical power lawnmower pollutes as much in one hour as driving an automobile for 20 miles. This can be greatly reduced by using 4-stroke gas lawn mowers or electric mowers. Where feasible, it can be totally eliminated by using a hand-powered reel mower.
  • 60 to 70 thousand severe accidents, some fatal, result from lawnmower use, as well as significant damage to human hearing.
  • 580 million gallons of gasoline are used for lawnmowers. Much of this goes to pollute the air by evaporation, or to harm vegetation and surface or ground water by spillage.

So, what are the alternatives? I think growing your own, organic food is probably the healthiest, smartest, and most economic solution to the virtually useless and destructive lawn. “Food Not Lawns” and “Edible Estates” are two books that explore this revolutionary act. Talk about local food! And free! Sounds good to me.

Food Not LawnsEdible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn