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Vegetarian Society Meeting: Chickpeas, Chickens, and Chimps

Posted by tinako on May 16, 2010

I made Pancakes for my in-laws this morning, and they were a big hit.  To go with them, I made Strawberry-Blueberry Syrup, which was very popular.

Has anyone else noticed that vegetarian restaurants don’t post the correct hours on their web sites?  Specifically, they will say they are open on a whole day that they aren’t?  It’s aggravating to go there and then be stuck without a plan.  This seems to happen every time I go to a vegetarian restaurant, which is not often since I habitate with a choosy person and need to go with someone else.   I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to actually eat in a veg restaurant, despite several attempts.

Spicy Chickpea Salad

Our guests left midafternoon.  For dinner, the kids and I went to a vegetarian society potluck/meeting, and I brought a double recipe of Spicy Chickpea Salad.  Here is the vodcast – click to watch Toni Fiore make it.  I didn’t have any red pepper, and I took this photo before I added the pine nuts, which I held back because I was afraid they’d get soggy.  I only got a small sample before it disappeared, but it seemed very good.  I found the chili paste in the Chinese section of my grocery store.

The speaker at the meeting was very good: Rae Sikora on “Brilliant Chickens and Einstein Squids: Exploring Animal Intelligence through True Stories about the Amazing Beings who Share our Earth Home.”

Her main points were that, while she does not feel intelligence is a measure of worth, animal intelligence is vastly underrated, and the belief that they are stupid is frequently used as an excuse to exploit them.  For example, she frequently has people say to her that they don’t eat meat, but they eat chickens, or that they feel the veg movement is made ridiculous by our championing of chickens.  Her response is, why?  Why chickens?  And the reply is, “You know, chickens.  They’re stupid.”  And then Rae says, “Hmm, that isn’t my experience of chickens.  But tell me, what is your experience with chickens that has led you to that conclusion?”  Silence.  Crickets chirping.  The questioner then explains that he/she has no experience with chickens.  And then Rae goes on to tell hers.  She has some wonderful stories about chickens who are basically like dogs in a household – litter-box trained, going in and out, hanging out with the dogs, wanting to be held all the time, delicately laying an egg on her shoe.  OK, not exactly like a dog.

The other main point she made was that how anyone does on an intelligence test is determined by who designs the test.  She illustrated this point by describing a working visit to a village in Africa (I think).  She was assigned to a group of women and the first day they were supposed to paint a sign.  Well, these women had never painted anything in their lives and had no idea what to do.  They threw the paint at the sign and made a huge mess.  “Primitive,” Rae thought.  The next day they were assigned to clear a plot of land with some machetes, which needed sharpening.  Rae had no idea what to do and watched as the other women chang-chang-chang sharpened them right up on rocks before getting to work.  The women were shocked at Rae’s ignorance and probably thought she was a dunce.  The conclusion is, it can be very difficult to assess the intelligence of those in other cultures.  If we have this difficulty with humans, should we be so quick to assume animals are stupid?

The evidence suggests otherwise.  In the same way that we seem to hear a new study every week about how animal products are bad for our health, news story after news story surprises us with the intelligence of animals.  She gave a dozen or so examples, both from the news and from her own experience, which I’ll sprinkle through my next postings.

Here’s the first one: young chimps in a Kyoto study vastly outperformed university students on this memory test.


2 Responses to “Vegetarian Society Meeting: Chickpeas, Chickens, and Chimps”

  1. The chickpea salad looks super yummy. I’ve never met a chickpea I did’nt like!!

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