Invasion of the Pod(cast) People

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on June 30, 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.  

Animal Voices 

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

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.