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Coming to VegFestUK London

On Oct 5, The Vegan Option is opening the main stage at the first ever VegFestUK London!

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Palm Oil: with Catherine Laurence, Eric Lambin, Orangutan rescuer Daniek Hendarto, RSPO SG Darrel Webber

Listen to Radio Show (pic of cleared forest; a truck drives away along a dirt road)

Palm Oil

Palm oil is everywhere – from cooking oil to soap to vegan margarine. Equatorial rainforest and peatland are cleared and replaced with serried ranks of oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis).  The biodiversity of Borneo and Sumatra, including  the iconic Orang Utan, is threatened by habitat loss.

Some vegan activists say no product that causes so much destruction can be considered vegan. But is palm oil really worse than the alternatives? And can poor countries like Malaysia and Indonesia develop without it?

Environmentalist Catherine Laurence helps me disentangle the thicket of issues.

Hear academic experts Eric Lambin and Robert Greenland; vegan baker Ms Cupcake; primatologist Georgina Ash; vegan MP Kerry McCarthy; the boss of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil; and vegan Indonesian palm oil activist and Miskin Porno lead singer Daniek Hendarto.

 Play or download (38.3MB MP3) (via iTunes)

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Palm Oil: being part of the solution

Catherine Laurence has worked as a lawyer and environmental planner, most recently as a part time project adviser with a London-based charity working to reduce the ecological footprint of city-regions. She has been active with the volunteer advocacy group, London Vegan Campaigns since 2010, and co-ordinated the 2013 London Vegan Pledge, a free programme supporting participants to go vegan for a month, with a high proportion remaining vegan afterwards. (Hear the first episode of The Vegan Option, about the 2011 Vegan Pledge). She is now starting a new chapter in Brisbane, Australia, where she intends to continue working in the cause of a more just and gentle world.

The research I did for the Palm Oil show confirmed for me that if we care about the forests then (as well as being vegan, with our much-reduced forest footprint) there are some important steps we can take as individuals to make sure we’re part of the solution.

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Notes on: Palm Oil

What do you think of Palm Oil?

It’s a cheap vegetable oil, from the fruit of a tree that grows at the equator. Demand is now the main driver of deforestation, with massive impact on wildlife.

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Doctor Who, carnist monsters, and vegan advocacy: the full extended skit

On the day that the BBC announces a new star of Doctor Who, here is the full extended edit of the Doctor Who sketch from the episode “Science Fiction and Animals”.

And now I shall get back to work on the Palm Oil episode.

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Science Fiction and Animals: from Jonathan Swift and HG Wells to Star Trek and Doctor Who; with Sherryl Vint, Robert McKay, and Tara Lomax

Martian war machine (Listen to show)

Science Fiction and Animals

From Jonathan Swift’s talking horses to Star Trek’s Vulcans, from HG Wells to the Wachowskis, science fiction tackles the big questions about our relationship with other animals.

Join the experts who investigate where animal studies meets media theory. Discover the themes in famous books, film, and TV – as well as the cult sci-fi stories that examine food ethics, the boundaries of humanity, and alternative ways of living.

Discover what the experts really think of Planet of the Apes; what Soylent Green used to made from before they started using people; and hear everyone’s favourite Time Lord try to talk a monster out of eating humanity in our Doctor Who sketch.

Play or download (18.5MB MP3(via iTunes)

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Cats: Ethics. With Erin Red, Evolution Diet’s Eric Weisman, and vets Lorelei Wakefield, Andrew Knight, and Jean Hofve

cat licking lips

Cats: Ethics

Last show’s investigation of whether cats can be vegan leaves us with an ethical quandary. What should vegans feed cats? Erin and I reflect on listener’s comments. The three expert veterinarians examine the moral issues. And I ask Eric Weisman, CEO of major US vegan cat food brand Evolution, some tough questions. (30 min) Play or download (18MB MP3(via iTunes) Read More…

Cats: Can they be vegan? With vets Lorelei Wakefield, Andrew Knight, and Jean Hofve; and special guest Erin Red

Listen to the show! (pic: Tortoiseshell cat)

Cats: Can they be vegan?

Three experienced veterinarians with experience of vegan cats say whether and why they think cats can thrive on a vegan diet.

Jean Hofve argues – out of bitter experience – that cats need meat.

Andrew Knight advocates a vegan diet for cats – if you do it right.

Only Lorelei Wakefield has published a peer-reviewed study to try to discover who is right.

(23 min) Play or download (15MB MP3(via iTunes)

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Farewell, Diana

After fifteen great shows, Diana is leaving The Vegan Option. She’s continuing to talk about evolution, animals and ethics – blogging at Sentientist.org and tweeting as @Sentientist. (“Sentience” means the capacity for feeling and consciousness, so the name captures both her academic interests and ethical principles.)

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Extended interviews on iTunes, starting with Dr Julia Minson

If you’re like most of our listeners, you get The Vegan Option show via the podcast feed – an automatic index of shows that’s read by iTunes, Stitcher and other “podcatchers”. (If you haven’t heard any of the shows – what are you waiting for? Use the “Listen” menu at the top, pick a show that piques your interest, and press play. That’s the other way of hearing episodes.)

The shows usually focus on topics rather than individual interviewees – talking to a range of people to get a full picture. This can mean that only a few minutes out of an hour-long interview gets into the show. (This isn’t unusual for public radio documentaries.)

Some full interviews are posted on the website – such as our conversations with Peter Singer and Gary Francione for the episode “Peace on Earth”. But should they go in the podcast feed as well? Diana asked on the Facebook page and “yes” not only won the vote, but for some people it was the only way to get the extended interviews.

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