Mathilde da Rui

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It's OK to feed stray cats

Thanks for this post!  I do sometimes think helping others in ways that are "inconsequential on big-picture scales" is a good way to remember why we bother with altruism. Life can be beautiful, humans can do nice things, occasionally a defenceless animal gets rescued from terrible suffering (and gets neutered of course haha) etc. If life was just about producing endless generations of nothing but joyless and hopeless struggle for most living beings, what would be the point in our efforts? 

A bunch of reasons why you might have low energy (or other vague health problems) and what to do about it

Thanks for sharing your experience and findings, @alexlintz.

Like you, I have no medical expertise, other than my own experience of and research through (now recovering from) being pretty badly ill for apparently mysterious reasons for a couple of years, with new weird symptoms from blurry vision to mixing up the order of letters as I wrote gradually emerging, and generally having no energy or ability to focus. 

I appreciate you encouraging people to try things out. I would emphasise your point about urging people to do their own research, and would stress that point when it comes to choosing specific interventions. That is, if you decide to e.g. try a supplement, really go look at lit reviews on PubMed about things like interactions, side effects, etc. A lot of supplements will contain excipients that will largely offset or even counter their intended effects, it's really quite baffling. So brands/quality really do matter. 

I think your mention of minerals deserves particular emphasis - if your magnesium and potassium levels are off, low energy could become the least of your problems (not trying to scare-monger but these really matter —a) apparently magnesium deficiencies are very common, and b) you do not want to have too much or too little potassium - look it up on a trusted source of your choice).

For me, what made me ill was long-term exposure to mould and eating too many things often considered super healthy, of all things. I only got proper testing and diagnosis through a functional medicine practitioner (functional medicine basically looks at how inputs of all kinds might affect outputs, and looks at your whole body as a system, in all its physiological cascades and on all of levels)—a really good one, but sadly it seems a lot of them are not reliable, to put it politely. I'm mentioning this because I had no idea what might be causing me to live in this miserable state of constant fatigue and unease, and for some people, it might be worth not ruling out pathogens. 

I'll add as a side note for my fellow vegans a friendly reminder to supplement iodine (and generally, to anyone investigating weirdly low energy levels, seeing if you can get your thyroid function checked, though sadly at least in the UK your GP can only prescribe a very basic test for thyroid function) and omegas (especially EPA if you're under quite a bit of stress, as EPA seems to help attenuate general inflammation, which stress can apparently cause). Again, do your own research, but these have come up a lot for me in my whole 'journey', from sources I would deem reliable. 

As for aminos in a vegan diet, you shouldn't struggle too much as long as you eat pretty varied whole foods, and if you do worry about that, you can help yourself by having a bit of high-quality protein powder or coconut aminos (the latter being awesome in salad dressing, so not a chore, I promise).

Lastly I don't know a ton about food sensitivities but my understanding is if you are sensitive to something, that's not just an issue, it's probably a symptom of something deeper (ok obviously you may have genetic predispositions to tolerate certain foods or not, or be lactose intolerant because your body's stopped producing lactase if you stopped drinking the milk of cows). Just food for thought. 

Thanks again!

FAQ: UK Civil Service Job Applications

Thank you so much for posting this! I've just submitted an application for a civil service position (before reading your post, alas) and while I know they're all very competitive roles, as someone who didn't study at a super top university for various reasons, I loved the blind recruitment process and the guidance available online. Fair, clear and reasonable. Your thoughts are really valuable too and align perfectly with what I took away from the online guidance.

AMA: Lewis Bollard, Open Philanthropy

Hi Lewis, I'd love to know if there are any particular aspects of research on existing, emerging or desirable strategies to promote the transition of agricultural subsidies away from animal (especially factory) farming and towards plant-based agriculture that you would like to see more of. Context - I'm beginning to design a MSc dissertation (in animal welfare science, ethics and law, UK-based) and think this would be a good area to generate a bit more work on, but it's obviously moving fast so I'd love your thoughts on any especially worthwhile approaches to this.

On another note, do you think social media advocacy for animals is at risk of reaching a banalisation/fatigue/desensitisation/maximum impact plateau or even decrease anytime soon, or do you see as being something worth continuing investing in fairly aggressively, as many organisations seem to be doing?

Thanks for your good work!