Saturday, September 20, 2014

pragmatic vegan - ditch dairy

It would definitely be easier, more convenient to be a vegetarian, rather than a vegan, sometimes. And I will admit I miss cheese more than meat. But something that started out about me, then about the world in which I live, has ended up being about animals.

 I've always thought of myself as an "animal lover". For most of my life I've shared my home with dogs. I've even met a few cats that I like. But for a long time I never thought about being against cruelty to animals, and being part of a system that is nothing but cruel.

Factory farming has given animals less space, often keeping them indoors their entire lives. It has shown little regard for their welfare, or for that matter, the consumer's welfare, using barbaric means to move sick or "downer" animals into the food chain to save their profits. And ultimately, no matter the quality of their existence, animals have their very lives ended for our pleasure.

Some would reason that continuing to consume dairy is "kinder" than eating meat. But if you look at dairy production, you'll see it's anything but kind. First, what could be more painful to a mother than having her newborn ripped from her only hours after birth? But a dairy cow's milk is a product, not to be wasted on her young. Male calves are often stuffed into veal crates, sealing their fate to a completely miserable, and mercifully short life. Females face the same sad lives as their mothers.

Dairy cows are repeatedly inseminated to become pregnant again and again, so they'll keep producing milk. They have become replaceable parts in the factory, and when they are "spent" after only a fraction of their natural life expectancy, they are sent to slaughter as well.

Undercover videos show workers abusing animals in deplorable conditions. That is what factory farming is! That is what it does! If you want to continue to consume dairy, take time to watch what happens on a dairy farm. At least be an educated consumer. But, if you are open to taking a step, let it be this one. Ditch dairy.

If you can't give up cheese just yet, how about starting with milk? Their are many wonderful substitutes: "milk" made from almonds, coconut and soy. Their are some dairy free cheeses too, and they're getting better all the time. If you can't give it up, how about cutting down? Every little bit helps if we do it together.

If you want a glimpse into the dairy industry, please read this:

Grace was treated like trash

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

really nice bikes

Let me start by saying I have a nice bike. It's a Trek Madone, and it's probably more than my cycling ability warrants. But when you ride a week-long bike tour, you find yourself among all kinds of riders with all kinds of bikes. And some of them are really nice bikes! There are riders of every size, shape, age and gender.
But the range of bikes is just as broad. There's brands from all over the world: Fuji, Orbea, Specialized, and Trek, Cervelo, Giant and  Scott. If you pay attention you're likely to see frames made of steel, aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber. And then there's different grades of carbon fiber, and different levels of components that one can put on a bike. I've owned bikes with cranksets, derailleurs, and shifters called 105, Deore, Tiagra, and Ultegra. And they are all made by Shimano!

 Now, the Ultegra components are pretty good; they're what I have on my Madone. But the top of the line available from Shimano is the Dura-Ace line. And something that's only been available in the last few years, and seems to be getting better all the time, is the Dura-Ace Di2 (Digital Integrated Intelligence). That's right, electronic shifting.
On this year's CRMBT, I noticed a number of bike with electronic shifting, including Stefan's new Wilier. I told him he didn't need a faster bike, he already flies by my at some point during each day and yells a quick, "Hi Jeff". Stefan pointed out that with a touch of a button the shifter puts you in the next gear. If you're descending and want to go up several gears you just hold the button a little longer. It never needs adjusting, and the chain never rubs against the derailleur.

I also noticed a trend towards road bikes with disc brakes. One rider told me he'd blown several tires by over-heating his rims on descents in the Boulder area, so opted for disc brakes on his new Seven.
As we gathered in South Dakota several years ago for the first bike tour I had ever done, we watched as cars pulled in with bikes on racks. In some cases there was a real question about which was worth more, the car or the bike! Whatever the components or frame material, it's fun to see so many beautiful bikes gathered together to do what they were designed to do, ride!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

crmbt day 1 - colorado springs to canon city

Sunday, 8-3

Woke up to the symphony of zippers; tent flaps, luggage, etc. and prepared for day 1. Sherpa Ville always has coffee and hot water for oatmeal, and I had picked up some bananas and bagels. The school wasn't far away, and the porta-potties were closer. After dressing and packing my bag I left my tent and waited for Peter to give his talk to kick-off the tour.

A large group was winding it's way through the neighborhood and missed the turn for Lake Circle  near The Broadmoor. We climbed by the golf course and when we saw the sign for the zoo, I knew we were not on the right track. Some folks thought turning right was appropriate, but I just turned around, went back down the hill until I saw cyclists heading a direction that would get us to our first highway for the day, CO115.
Pretty views and sunny skies made for a nice morning. The shoulder was plenty wide, but held a lot of debris, and by the time I finished I think I had seen a dozen riders changing flats on the side of the road. Of course, I asked each one if they had what they needed, but they were all well prepared.
As we neared Canon City I saw what I thought might be a high school, but soon realized it was surrounded by a high fence topped with razor wire. We didn't stop there.
After some rollers we ended up 700 feet lower than we started. But we would go a little higher tomorrow. We were mostly in by noon, and the tents were going up in Sherpa Ville. After a nice shower I walked to Subway for a veggie sub, then returned to the school where a lot of us spent the whole afternoon visiting, enjoying the shade, and telling cycling stories.

That evening I walked to a Mexican place with Thom and Glenn for a good meal and a nice visit. I was in my sleeping bag fairly early to be ready for a planned 94 miles tomorrow including our first mountain pass. This was a good first day to warm up the legs and let us flatlanders acclimatize before the serious fun began.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

pragmatic vegan

In the almost two years that I've been a vegan I've read a lot of blogs, posts and feeds about health, the environment, and animal rights. On the whole, the writers and readers are of a like mind. The only problem with preaching to the choir is you have to get someone to join the choir before he can hear you preach.

I believe that all reasonable people would be interested in positive change in those areas, but maybe not ready, willing or able to make the leap to vegan. That's OK. I would like to offer a series of occasional posts taking a look at what we, together, can do to make a difference. For starters, can we all agree that animal abuse and cruelty should not be tolerated?

If people saw what takes place on the farms that supply their food, they would demand a stop to it. The corporations that run the farms know that, and funnel huge amounts of money to politicians who propose "ag-gag" laws, which make it illegal for whistle-blowers to record acts of cruelty and abuse. That's right. Instead of trying to stop the abuse, they want it to be illegal to bring it to light!

Is it too much to ask that the animals raised for food be treated humanely? Please take the time to learn the sources of your food. How does your state stack up when it comes to animal protection?
Whether through donation, signing petitions, or participating in organized activities, can you support those standing up for farm animals? Like Animal Legal Defense Fund?

If we use animals for food, we should at least know how they're raised, how they're treated. Let's take our heads out of the sand and take a look at what's happened to the "family farm".