Invasion of the Pod(cast) PeoplePosted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on June 30th, 2008
Despite all that ALDF’s hometown of Cotati, California, has to offer, I have opted to live in Berkeley, where I have ready access to the Bay Area’s best vegan donuts, best vegan brunch, best produce, best vegan horror movie potluck, and best vegan soul food. (OK, admittedly, some of those are in Oakland, but that’s next door to Berkeley...).
One of the downsides of living in Berkeley, however, is that I have a very long daily commute. I spend at least two hours of the day in my car (it’s a hybrid, so the gas consumption isn’t as bad as it could be). As a result, I end up listening to a lot of music and a lot of podcasts to keep myself from driving off the Richmond Bridge in a fit of road rage.
So I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite animal-themed podcasts. Each of these podcasts is available for free through iTunes. For the less technically-inclined readers, more info about podcasts and how to download them are available here: Mac or Windows.
I know that there are other great vegan and animal protection podcasts out there that aren’t listed below, so please use the comment feature if you’d like to recommend a good podcast that I’ve missed.
As much as I enjoy all the podcasts listed here, my favorite is Animal Voices. With almost 250 shows archived online, Animal Voices has covered just about every animal topic imaginable. What I love most about the show are the incredibly sophisticated and in-depth interviews that the show’s host, Lauren Corman, conducts. Lauren is a doctoral student in Environmental Studies, and her interests lie in cultural studies and critical theory. Those interests are reflected in fascinating shows such as: Literature and the Postcolonial Animal; Feminism, Animals, and Science; Animal Liberation, Critical Theory, and the Left; New Media and Animal Life; Cows, Colonialism, and Capitalism; When Species Meet; and Animal Rites.
In addition to these theoretical topics, Animal Voices also covers practical and strategic questions of animal activism, including activist burnout, direct action, and legal reform. The pair of shows entitled Animal Rights in the Courtroom and the Classroom (Part 1; Part 2), featuring Tamie Bryant, Gary Francione, and Bob Barker, will be of particular interest to ALDF members.
(On a side note, Animal Voices has also interviewed several of the other podcasters I recommend in this blog, including Erik Marcus and Bob and Jenna Torres. I told you they were thorough!)
Veg Talk is an interview-based podcast hosted by longtime vegan activist and author Erik Marcus. Prior to starting Veg Talk at the beginning of this year, Erik hosted the long-running Erik’s Diner podcast, one of the very first vegan-themed podcasts (maybe the first), featuring news items, Erik’s commentary, and interviews with members of the animal protection movement. Veg Talk has featured interviews with Bizarro artist and vegan advocate Dan Piraro, farmed animal activists Paul Shapiro and Nathan Runkle, and vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier, among others.
For those interested in making the transition to veganism, I highly recommend the series of shows that Erik recorded to coincide with Oprah’s 21-day vegan cleanse experiment. Over the course of those three weeks, Veg Talk covered every topic of concern to new vegans in an easy and accessible way, from cookbooks, to supplements, to grocery shopping, to ethics.
Vegetarian Food for Thought
Vegetarian Food for Thought is hosted by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, founder of Compassionate Cooks and author of The Joy of Vegan Baking (the cinnamon rolls are awesome). Colleen has covered a variety of topics, including how to cook without eggs, why vegans need to be conscientious about getting enough B12, and what ten nutritious vegan foods you should be eating (Part 1 and Part 2).
Colleen has also done many shows responding to common questions people ask about veganism, from "Where do you get your protein?" to "What’s wrong with free-range eggs and 'humane' meat?" Perhaps these are questions you yourself have, or maybe you just aren’t sure how to respond to them when they are asked of you. In either case, Colleen’s podcasts are a great resource for thinking about these issues.
One unique feature of Vegetarian Food for Thought is Colleen’s reading of animal-themed short stories and essays in their entirety. Among my favorites are The Anarchist: His Dog by Pulitzer Prize winner Susan Glaspell, Beyond Lies the Wub, by brilliant sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, and Pig by famous British author Roald Dahl.
Vegan Freak Radio
The Vegan Freak Radio podcast is hosted by Bob and Jenna Torres, authors of the popular book Vegan Freak, which offers lots of practical advice to new vegans, while celebrating the virtues of being a "freak" in a society that exploits animals so ruthlessly. (As the Dalai Lama put it, "It is no sign of mental health to be well-adjusted to an insane world." Or in the words of the punk band Propagandhi, "I consider it a measure of my humanity to be written off by the living graves of a billion murdered lives."). Bob is also the author of Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights.
Vegan Freak Radio features conversations between Bob and Jenna, commentary on news stories, the occasional interview, and phoned in questions and comments from listeners. Bob and Jenna are avowed abolitionists in the vein of Gary Francione (hear their recent interview with him here), so Vegan Freak Radio is often highly critical of animal welfare reforms that operate within the traditional paradigm of animals as property. I can’t say I agree with everything they say (I can’t say that for any of these podcasts), but the show is always entertaining, funny, informative, and challenging. And thoroughly laced with profanity.
Rural Route Radio
While the four previous podcasts approach animal issues from a decidedly liberationist (or at least welfarist) perspective, Rural Route Radio comes at the issues from the perspective of agriculturalists. Host Trent Loos is a sixth-generation rancher from Nebraska. Rural Route Radio doesn’t focus solely on animal agriculture, but several of its shows have dealt with animal issues, including the episodes Let’s Talk About Meat, Let’s Talk About Arkansas Poultry, The Purpose of Animals, and Caring for our Animals. Without a doubt, the show is in favor of raising and slaughtering animals for their flesh; it defends abhorrent confinement practices as "humane" and maligns animal rights and animal welfare groups. But, to its credit, the show often interviews animal protection advocates and gives them a (more or less) fair opportunity to present their side of the story. I highly recommend the episode featuring Nathan Runkle of Mercy for Animals. Rural Route Radio offers an important perspective that animal advocates ignore at their peril. Listening to voices from within the industry can ensure our outreach efforts are effective, accurate, and well-informed. Of course, we should never take industry at its word, but knowing how its constituents think and what they say can only work to our benefit.
I hope you’ll consider subscribing to these podcasts and listening to them on the way to work or school, or while you do chores around the house or brainless tasks at work. Doing so is a great way to dedicate a small portion of each day to thinking about, and ultimately acting on, issues and questions related to animal liberation.