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Episode 173: “…being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances…”

By Jasmin and Mariann — May 04, 2013

17honoree_site_bug_lrg-460x460Welcome to the 173rd episode of Our Hen House, 2013 Official Honoree of the Webby Awards. Today’s episode features Iris Ho, with special appearances by Jay Astafa and Ari Solomon.

In today’s episode, we tell you about an 8-course vegan popup restaurant that we attended here in New York City, and we’ll chat with the dynamite 20-year-old chef, Jay Astafa. Find out what ingredient caused him to appropriately name one of his dishes “dragon’s breath.” We’ll also talk about animal rights poet Gretchen Primack, whose new book, Kind, gives us shivers, and hope. Jasmin will tell you about Kind’s book launch party which she attended. And, inspired by a documentary we saw at the Tribeca Film Festival called Out of Print, we’ll ruminate on digital books versus three-dimensional ones, and what implications the future of publishing have for animal rights and veganism. And we’ll discuss the role that animal exploitation plays in religion, and why things aren’t different in that regard. (Read more about that in our recent article for Elephant Journal, “Do Religious Traditions Condone Animal Suffering?“)

Speaking of which, today we’ll be joined by Iris Ho, the person who heads up Humane Society International’s campaign to end mercy release and educate the public about this cruel practice, which, ironically, was originally motivated by compassion for animals. Iris will tell us all about mercy release and her efforts to bring lasting change to animals.

For our review, we’ll be joined by Our Hen House reviewer Ari Solomon, who will give us his take on the new HBO documentary, An Apology to Elephants. Don’t miss Ari’s eye-opening take on this film. His review might just surprise you.

All that, vegan banter, and of course, current events from the world of animal rights.

For a list of the news items we discuss in today’s episode, and then some, take a look at the breaking news ticker at the top of, and also check out our list of archived news items.

iStock_000008519763_ExtraSmallYou can listen to our podcast directly on our blog (below!) or you can listen and subscribe on iTunes! Also, if you like what you hear, please rate it on iTunes, and don’t forget to leave us a friendly comment! Of course, we would be thrilled if you would also consider making a donation, or becoming a member of our flock (especially if you’re a regular listener). Any amount is hugely appreciated, and Our Hen House is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so it’s tax-deductible! Don’t forget – we’re reader and listener supported. Plus, we offer some fantastic thank you gifts for your donations. Thank you for helping us to create quality content, and for helping us to bring you a new, hour-long (and then some) podcast episode each week!

“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” -George Bernard Shaw

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(4) Readers Comments

  1. May 31, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    The interview with Iris Ho was very disappointing. Why were snakes not discussed with the same compassion as the other animals mentioned? She expressed sadness about all the other poor animals released (relocated away from their homes), except snakes.“Even snakes. There have been incidences where people have released snakes into residential areas. You can imagine the horror for the residents that live there.”Like all the other animals, the snakes were kidnapped from their homes and relocated to a strange place, where they will almost certainly die (numerous research has shown that translocated snakes do not survive, even when released into appropriate habitat). Yet she made snakes the villain instead of the victim. While this is the way snakes are usually treated in the media, Our Hen House usually treats all animals equally, so I was surprised and saddened to hear this hateful attitude on one of my favorite podcasts. It was a brief comment, but powerful to someone who has dedicated her life to changing the world for snakes, and expects Our Hen House to be a 'safe place'.:-(

    • Jasmin Singer
      June 1, 2013 at 12:20 am

      I'm sorry that you thought it was unsympathetic to snakes. Obviously we agree with you -- and if you listen to our podcast and read our articles, then you know where we stand on animal issues. Clearly we are trying to change the world for all animals -- not just some. We care very much about snakes and certainly did not mean to say anything that indicated otherwise. Of course, we can't control what our guests say, or how they say it. I would imagine that Iris feels the same as all of us. Again, my apologies for offending you.

      • June 1, 2013 at 5:23 pm

        Jasmin - thank you so much for the kind and quick response! I know that OHH doesn't discriminate against snakes, which is why I was surprised to hear your guest say that. I also realize you can't control what other people say, but I was bummed when I heard it and needed to voice that. I'm sure for most audiences, presenting the problem as she did is most effective, but I wish she didn't use snakes in that way. Snakes are so misunderstood and it is SO HARD to get people interested in snake conservation because of this (like pit bulls :-)).Related, if OHH would even like to cover some snake issues on the podcast or magazine, let me know! I love you guys and what you do and would love to contribute.

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