I had an enlivening conversation with Hope Bohanec of Compassionate Living. Hope and I discuss the distraction and folly of regenerative animal agriculture, the inevitability of a vegan world driven by technological progress, and the ethics of cultured meat. Hope even created the meme below. I hope that you enjoy!
Finally some new content! I’ve written a post arguing that vegan meal-choice and advocacy are highly beneficial and impactful. Avoiding a beef burger for one meal is not just saving 1/1600th of a cow, it’s potentially saving thousands more by shifting the curve. The post is on the Effective Altruism Forum linked below. Moving forward, I’ll upload all written content there, but I’ll indicate here when I do.
Animal agriculture is the most exigent problem of our generation. Diminishing animal agriculture would have the primary benefit of reducing colossal suffering as well as adjacent benefits such as improving biosecurity and significantly mitigating climate change. The good news is that a transition away from animal products will occur, but we can compel a tipping point sooner. An S-curve transition model suggests an underappreciated, significant benefit in advocating for steadfast veganism in consumers and institutions. Modest intervention can lead to substantial good, vastly more than the superficial consequences would indicate. When considering the tipping point case, vegan advocacy should be a foremost thrust for Effective Altruism because it can shift up the timeline for the vegan transition.
Happy New Year! Some noteworthy media since the last post:
- Reddit AMA – This was a lot of fun, and I’m honestly so gladdened by the reception, even after my veganism was outed. The Internet is generally unkind to vegans, but sensibilities were strong here. That tipping point seems tantalizingly close.
- Interview with Gary Anderson of Night Dreams Talk Radio – Gary and I discuss the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the splendid options cropping up at our grocery stores, and John Wayne’s ignominious autopsy. Note: I admit that I’m having a hard time separating fact from fiction regarding John Wayne and the supposed amount of undigested meat in his GI tract.
- Interview with Karina Inkster of The No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast – Karina and I discuss the technological argument against animal agriculture and how it’s important to instill the intuition into a wider audience. We then examine how the environmental and ethical issues follow from that. Further on, we touch on the inevitability of a world where plant-based foods exceed animal-based products completely.
The new title is After Meat–it’s more distinguishable, memorable, and powerful. It leans into the science fiction imagery that I’m unafraid to broach when discussing the future of food. I love it.
A variety of formats will be available:
- Digital (EPUB/Kindle)
- Audiobook (not yet started; subject to release on a later date)
I’ll be working on publicity, getting reviews, etc. until then. Let me know if you’re interested in helping out.
The reorganization and line edits are done! We’re at the final stretch. Next up is the final read through, copy edit, and book design. It’s looking like late Summer or early Fall will be the official release date.
There’s also a new title, but I won’t disclose it publicly until the new cover is finished.
One of my favorite video games is 2011’s Dark Souls of the action, fantasy genre (think knights and wizards). Even though Dark Souls is regarded as one of the greatest, most influential video games of all time, it was and still is polarizing for its steep difficulty. Dark Souls demands both skill and attention. Your investment pays off in the form of intermittent dopamine rushes: you’ve cleared an area and found a new one after a long struggle. You’ve finally defeated that boss who slaughtered you for hours if not days. The combination of honing your skills, learning the enemies’ patterns, and perseverance have paid off. Now for the next area and next boss, who push your skill development even further.
I suspect that gamers that try but dislike Dark Souls tend to abandon the game early. They struggle with the first few areas/bosses, throw their hands up, and move on. In particular, they give up at the infamous Blighttown area, often described as the make or break point. In my first Dark Souls run, I got to Blighttown, put Dark Souls on hiatus, and only came back after a few months when my friend pleaded me to finish.
Blighttown is inhospitable, difficult, and unforgiving. Make the wrong move and you’ll fall off a cliff to your death, be hit with a blowdart that intoxicates you, or a ghastly monster leaps out to devour you. It’s also dark and unsightly, lacking the grandeur of other Dark Souls areas. You precariously make your way down using creaky ladders and pulley systems only to be rewarded with a poisonous cenote that you must run through while boulders hurl toward you. It’s no wonder why Blighttown is regarded as one of the worst and most deterring areas in the game.
There is something of a Blighttown currently in The Future without Animal Products with Chapter 2. This chapter argues that we can’t predict the exact future, but we can predict certain trends. When I outlined The Future without Animal Products, I saw Chapter 2 as providing foundational information for the rest of the book and the main thesis (animals make for crummy technology and accordingly will be replaced). As I put pen to paper, Chapter 2 evolved and exploded, entering topics such as fluid mechanics and quantum mechanics. It’s clear now after discussing with beta readers: Chapter 2 is too long, the most difficult chapter, and a far digression from the central thesis.
In good news, beta readers, who have finished The Future without Animal Products, have complimented the total work. Ideas and arguments are viewed as provocative, surprising, and profound. Two separate readers remarked that “I’m learning something every page.” So, there is a future for The Future without Animal Products, and I’m working to revise it toward that point.
Chapter 2 will be moved to an appendix. Unfortunately, this is a big change. Furthermore, The Future without Animal Products is still too difficult; readers with college-level science backgrounds enjoy it; whereas, others remain mum. I’m simplifying the writing with the help of an editor, striving to meet the aptitude of a well-informed non-scientist. Think a typical reader of the New York Times or The New Yorker.
So unfortunately, the official publication is delayed; I see Spring 2021 as the earliest time for release. This for the best. The Blighttown experience is sometimes viewed as a necessary hazing to appreciating Dark Souls. I disagree with that notion, especially in regards to The Future without Animal Products. I want as many people to be able to access and enjoy the book as possible without sacrificing any of the key arguments/ideas. Therefore, let’s avoid any Blighttowns.
P.S. I don’t want the “publication date” to limit access to The Future without Animal Products. If you would like to read it now, send me an email. Both digital and paperback copies are available with the understanding that it is a preliminary version.
After a long journey, spanning 2-3 years, I’m happy to announce that I’ve finished a full draft of The Future without Animal Products. It’s been difficult, humbling, provoking, and gratifying. To celebrate, I’m sharing the final cover illustrated by the talented Julia Allum.
I will pursue a few rounds of revisions. Thankfully, the hard part is done — the content and organization are solid. My focus now will be on making it more engaging and accessible. I’m striving for a Fall/Winter 2020 publication date, but stay tuned.
It’s taken about a month longer than I would have liked, but the third quarter of the book is written! I would say I’m about 85% done with the book now. Chapter 7 is about nutrition. Spoiler: we don’t need that much protein, and the value of protein derives from its structure, not chemical makeup. Chapter 8 is about hedonism and mindfulness — both affect our ability to generate knowledge and move beyond animal products. Chapter 9 is about what The Future without Animal Products looks like, expounding on and jumping off an earlier post already written here.
These were fun chapters to write, and I hope others will find profundity in the conclusions. Now for the final stretch.
Happy New Year!
Chapters 1 through 3 have been reviewed by my friend, Will Roderick, and editor Brandon at Affordable Editors. I sincerely appreciate their feedback — both of them challenged some of the ideas and help clarify/slim down the sections. The manuscript is better for having entered their hands.
A few days ago, I finished full drafts of Chapters 4 through 6, which are currently being reviewed. I’m currently writing Chapters 7 through 9 now.
Otherwise, I’m more concertedly seeking an agent for representation and a publisher. I will be querying both in the coming months. After much back and forth, I decided to attempt the traditional publishing route. I seek to broadcast these ideas as widely as possible, and that’s going to be easier traveling down the beaten path.
Finally, a small teaser: In Chapter 1, I excoriate the naturalistic fallacy — the idea that the more “natural” something is, then the inherently better it is. It’s wrongheaded, imprecise, and detrimental, but I’ll leave the full argument for the book. Here is one illustration (above) used to compare “natural” ancestral bananas versus current ones, the result of continual selective breeding (i.e. genetic modification). We want the modern banana. GMOs and selective breeding are noble and will help us rid animal products sooner.
I’m soliciting an editor for a forthcoming non-fiction book The Future without Animal Products. If you know someone interested, please send this way.
Animals are terrible technology and will be replaced. They grow slowly, require a lot of resources, and are difficult to innovate. It is simply a matter of development before newer, better technologies displace animals entirely from our food and products. Most of the discussion regarding the shift away from animal products fixates on moral and environmental issues. In this book, I will pursue a largely unexplored angle to the debate – the technological benefits of curtailing animal usage. I discuss why using animals are susceptible to disruption in the same way that companies like Netflix eviscerated Blockbuster.
I’m not satisfied to merely convey information about the inferiority of animal products. I seek to rend the readers’ notions about animal technology, and in the resulting chasm, inculcate complete derision. Using animal technology should evoke cars powered by burning wood. First, I discuss how we humanity generate new technology and knowledge. Every technology has a ceiling, especially in the case of animal technology. The most optimistic technical outcomes for animal technology fall well short of the putative replacers. By propping such terrible technology, we stave off a future promising better, healthier gastronomical options; increased wealth; less suffering; a cleaner Earth; and an improved economy. While this future is inevitable, we should want to arrive sooner than later. We, humanity, should strive for The Future without Animal Products.
I’ve rewritten over 50,000 words at this point, and I’m expecting to reach 75,000 to 100,000. If I’m a Pollyanna, the work hits the presses sometime over the next six months. But I’m an iterative writer, and I’m liable to making large scale changes that prolongs the writing. Furthermore, I’m juggling this project with a full-time job and other responsibilities. Nonetheless, it’s a suitable time to hire an editor to help progress and restructure the work if need be. If all goes to plan, we’ll have a sustained relationship over the next 6 months to 1 year for which you will be appropriately compensated.
What I’m looking for
In my view, the ideal editor is as follows:
- You are excited about the project and would be interested to learn more.
- You love to learn new topics and are intellectually intrepid, especially in unfamiliar, hard science territories sampling areas such as quantum physics to biological engineering.
- You would be available and responsive for editing up to a year.
- You don’t mind some controversy, and you value the best arguments/knowledge. Not sure how this book will fare in terms of reception, but I’m taking strong, unconventional stances (e.g. Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are a noble technology and will help us rid animal products sooner. Naturalism is a dumb, empty concept. Moral relativism is wrong and holds us back from making progress).
- You have experience either conveying or helping to relate difficult, abstract ideas to a wider audience. Most importantly, the work should be clear, engaging, and educational.
- You represent the target demographic well and have some-but-not-expert scientific knowledge (e.g. high school education in biology, chemistry, and physics); therefore, you help calibrate the abstract science explanations. I have the curse of knowledge. I will heavily rely on my editor’s vantage for all the pertinent topics.
- You are honest, direct, and can explain how/push to make the manuscript better. Right now, I’m favoring someone who is better at development and tonal edits versus just for grammar/flow.
If you’re interested and potential budget
If you are interested, please send me a bit of your background (a portfolio website would be stellar), why you’re interested in the project, and a proposed initial financial arrangement. If I think it’s a good fit, then we would try a probationary period, which I would certainly pay for. Most likely, I’d send you a chapter or two and see how the feedback is. Happy to pursue this with multiple potential editors first.
Currently, I’m likely to self-publish the work. Though I will submit at least one book proposal, which I may have you edit too.