Category Archives: food

Book recommendation: Bird Flu, by Michael Greger

I started reading Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching for reasons that had nothing to do with COVID-19. But may I say that it could not be any more relevant to our lives at this particular time?

Dr. Michael Greger does a wonderful job of explaining the science of viruses in general, the history of pandemics (and our political/economic/public health/media responses to them), and the steps that we would need to take to reduce the terrible dangers that pandemic influenza poses to human life, health, economics, national security, and so on. His writing is clear, engaging, and accessible, while being grounded in meticulous research and including copious citations from all sorts of relevant experts around the world.

No joke: this is not good bedtime reading, but it is a great read!

It looks like the full text was available for free on the internet for some time, but that it is temporarily unavailable because Dr. Greger is updating it with new findings about COVID-19 for a new edition, so try checking back to http://www.birdflubook.org/ or https://drgreger.org/pages/selected-writings later to see more about that.

Book recommendation: Zoopolis, by Sue Donaldson & Will Kymlicka

I’ve always loved animals, but I don’t always see myself in other people’s vision of what it means to be an animal lover. For instance, I don’t keep pets, and lots of people would expect an animal lover to do so. However, I am a vegan, which might be (and I think should be, but often isn’t) expected of people who self-identify as animal lovers. Plus, I generally love learning about animals more than I love interacting with them, but I do find it deeply painful when I witness harm to animals, even in fiction. And I’m seriously committed to environmentalism, which many people think means choosing what is good for whole species and ecosystems, even if and when that means killing or otherwise harming various individual animals.

I suspect there are a lot of other people out there who love animals in some sense, but that maybe don’t fit into stereotypical ideas about what it means to be an animal lover.

For an awesome book that challenges all of us to rethink what it means to stand in an ethically good relationship to non-human animals, I strongly recommend Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s Zoopolis. They don’t frame their book in terms of being by or for animal lovers, (though their work clearly expresses love for animals, along with many more intellectual virtues). Instead, they make a powerful, extended argument that existing academic and activist work regarding animal ethics is limited in key ways that can be overcome by shifting to a political model of human/non-human animal engagement. Here’s some high praise from any philosopher: their insights and arguments really changed my mind about a lot of things!

And (bonus!) this is among the most engaging and accessible books in academic philosophy that I’ve had the pleasure to read. It is one of those unicorns that falls into both the “for fun” and “for work” categories that I often use to mentally sort books. Seriously, check it out.

Northwestern University Society for the Theory of Ethics and Politics (NUSTEP)

I want to express my appreciation to the organizers of NUSTEP for inviting me to serve as commentator at this year’s conference; I had a really good time. The highlight for me was Nomy Arpaly’s talk about “good old-fashioned benevolence,” which was an excellent model of how to make precise and rigorous argument using well-crafted examples but without using any jargon, while expressing a great sense of humor, all at the same time!

Of course, some nice walks along Lake Michigan and good local food were also very welcome. Regarding food in Evanston, Found Kitchen deserves a special mention – the many dishes I tried were all delicious, the space had a great atmosphere, and the people involved enact a worthy social mission of hiring and training people coming out of homelessness.

Vegetarian Food in Portugal and Spain

One of the things I like most about traveling is tasting new foods and learning about other cultures through their food-related practices. Being a vegetarian can complicate this a bit, but I had no trouble finding plenty of delicious vegetarian food at reasonable prices everywhere I went in the Iberian peninsula!

Vegetarian or not, there is lots to enjoy in the food culture of Portugal and Spain. Since I do my best writing early in the day, I like the practice of eating meals later (than most Americans do). I also enjoy being in a restaurant where the assumption is that you want to take the time to enjoy your food, rather than be rushed or interrupted regularly. In my experience, Portugese and Spanish people take a lot of pride in their cuisine, and are pleased to bond with others by sharing it!

In case you are interested in some recommendations, here are a sampling, in no particular order:

Lisbon, Portugal: Lisbon has tons of excellent and inexpensive food, and since almost everyone can and is willing to speak some English, knowing little to no Portugese won’t be an obstacle to a happy belly. Consider trying: Jardim do Sentidos, The Green Room, Taste of Lisboa (a food tour: I recommend the one at Campo de Ourique), Cruzes Credo, Pois Cafe, La Creperie da Ribeira, Santini, Primo Basilico, Casa Nepalesa, Time Out’s Mercado de Ribeira, Queijaria Nacional, and/or Restaurante Oasis. There were so many places I wanted to try that after five weeks in Lisbon, I still had only made it about halfway through my list!

Guimaraes, Portugal: I wasn’t in Guimaraes for long, but Cor de Tangerina was so good that I went there multiple times.

Madrid, Spain: There seem to be a lot more vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly food options in Madrid than when I visited a friend there in 2007. Some of my favorites include: Yerbabuena,  Restaurantes Vegetarianos ArtemisaGuaranga Transcendental FoodMercado de San Miguel, Indian Aroma, El Estragon Vegetariano, and/or Phuket.