Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Posts to come...

Hi everyone,
I'm sorry to say I'm not a very active blogger. Not that I don't want to change that...
But I just wanted to let anyone who may subscribe to this blog (thank you, by the way!) and anyone who may land here from wherever know that I'm working on a couple entries.

-Why do you eat plants? Plants are living too!!

-Animals eat animals. It's the natural order of things!

I know other veg*ns have addressed these points, and I'm also planning on addressing other tough issues that come up, but I believe the more people we have out there writing about this, the less extreme veganism seems. Plus I always seem to pick up at least some tidbit from everyone even if I'm very familiar with a specific issue. So the more the merrier!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Really Puts Things in Perspective, Doesn't It?

Isn`t man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife - birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes, and dingoes - by the millions in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billions and eats them. This in turn kills man by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out a card praying for "Peace on Earth."

preface to Old MacDonald`s Factory Farm, by C. David Coats

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Animal Rights vs. Human Rights

I posted the following on Facebook a while ago.

My friend, whom I have known since I was about 3 or 4 years old, sparked quite a bit of conversation this morning with his status. I was going to keep replying on the status thread, but I decided to post it all here, since I started writing a novel. That way we can continue our conversation if desired, or anyone else can make a comment. Oh and I tagged some extra lovely people just because I know they are interested in animal issues.


And don't get me started on how, in California, animal rights apparently outweigh human civil rights.via Twitter


I wouldn't call what those animals got in return for the passing of that proposition "rights." Just a BIT less horror and discomfort in their short, tortured lives for the overfed gluttons of this country. Even if you do endorse the exploitation of animals, don't you believe that they somehow deserve at least a little less inhumane treatment?
Perhaps you aren't implying you are against what Prop 2 did, but I don't think you can compare the two propositions - since Prop 2 really didn't give those animals any rights. They are still innocent, emotional, sentient beings who remain prisoners and cannot live their lives as they will.
But I do think that's crazy that the human civil right to which you refer got overturned.
I guess as we treat our animals, so we treat our people we feel are sub-humans.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not for more animal rights and less human rights. I am for more human AND animal rights equally.


Addendum: I really hope that didn't come across as a personal attack on you. I just am most passionate about that issue, and I have a hard time holding back sometimes.


I never take offense when someone speaks their mind!

Let me first clarify my position and say that I was hopeful that both prop 8 and prop 2 would pass.

It seems, though, regarding the animal rights issue, that we disagree on two fundamental issues. First, what are the rights, exactly, to which animals are entitled, and secondly, is ensuring these rights to animals AS IMPORTANT as ensuring human rights?

To the first question, I will have to assume based on your above comment and what I know of you personally that your position is that animals deserve the same, or nearly the same, rights as humans. Therefore, in regards to the second question, you likely believe it is self-evident that ensuring animals' rights and human rights are of essentially the same importance--in fact, are nearly the same issue.

I know this is a brief synopsis of a stance on a nuanced issue, but do I understand your opinions and position well enough for the purpose of argument?


Good, I am glad I didn't offend you!
You are correct about my position on the issue of animal rights. I believe they deserve nearly the same rights as humans. Of course, I don't believe they should have the right to vote or the right to own property and silly stuff like that, but I believe they should be treated just like human children should be treated - with respect and love. Children don't have full rights like adults, but they are granted protection from harm and death by the law. And luckily we do at least have legislation against harming pets, but it is not nearly enough. People who purposefully harm an innocent being, child or non-human animal, need to be punished equally. Pigs have been shown to be as intelligent as 3 year old children and more intelligent than dogs. How can we just say - "because you can't talk, and because you don't look like me, I am going to imprison you in the most deplorable conditions and kill you for food"? Who has the authority to place a value on what life is more valuable than another? Animals have feelings and families just like us. The only difference between humans and animals is a rational mind, and some people may say that humans are superior because of that. However, many mentally challenged people do not have the ability to rationalize either, and a lot of people would find it deplorable to say that they are inferior beings because of their mental state.
It is not anti-human to be pro-animal. The more we can increase our consideration we have for animals, think of how MUCH more consideration we will have for humans. Sometimes animal rights activists appear as though they are anti-human, but they feel that animals are SO neglected by society that they have to ignore all else and put their LIFE into doing all they can do to further those rights. To them, we have a worldwide slave trade going on. Animals are legally regarded as property and nothing more so. Pets can be taken away just like children can be taken away for maltreatment, but farm animals have nearly no legal protection. They can be treated like garbage, and half of the baby chicks in the egg industry ARE garbage. They throw them alive into grinders or let them suffocate in the trash. How sad is that? How is that different from doing that to a baby? A human baby is an innocent, harmless being, and so is a baby animal. There is just not time for animal activists to be worried about higher rights - such as civil rights. At least any people lacking higher rights aren't being exploited and tortured right now. As soon as animals' basic physical comfort rights are taken care of, we (pro-animal people) can then move more of our efforts toward advancing higher human civil rights.
So you see, both of those types of rights in question right now are nowhere near on the same level. If we ever do get humans and animals to the same level, then so-called animal rights activists will be the first ones to push for human civil rights just as much. By the way, many animal activists are largely in support of human freedoms. (I receive emails on human rights issues, e.g.) They are just so passionate about the animal side and consumed by the urgency of the situation that it appears that they don't care.
Even if people do admit to animals needing more rights than they have (or don't have) right now, then there is the whole circle of life argument where people say death is a part of life. That is true, but why should we have the right to decide who lives and who dies - human or animal? Also, I can understand people who say that hunting animals for food is natural, and I agree - that it is when you are living in the wilderness (although, I wouldn't do it or endorse it), but factory farms (where 99% of animal products are produced in this country) are despicable and anything but natural. PLUS, we have an amazingly abundant, variety-filled food supply which makes it easy to find alternatives to torturing one or more animals just for one's dinner. I've been animal product-free for almost a year now, and I hardly notice the difference between my diet now and before, and it is sad that so many people are under the illusion of needing their meat, dairy, or eggs, and even sadder if they are not under that illusion and need it just because they like the taste.
Anyhow, that was kind of going off on a tangent, but it's somewhat relevant since food is one of the major reasons for animal exploitation.
So I think you can see that I believe that humans and animal rights are equally important because humans ARE animals - sentient beings with the desire to live.
Phew, that's a lot.

Edit: So it's really ironic that I just happened to get a proposed Animal Bill of Rights from the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the mail today.
Here are the rights they are pushing for.
  • The right of animals to be free from exploitation, cruelty, neglect, and abuse

  • The right of farmed animals to an environment that satisfies their basic physical and psychological needs [although I don't believe that animals should be farmed, but at least this would be a step in the right direction]

  • The right of companion animals to a healthy diet, protective shelter and adequate medical care.

  • The right of wildlife to a natural habitat, ecologically sufficient to a normal existence and a self-sustaining species population.

  • The right of animals to be freed from cruel and unnecessary experimentation and testing.

  • The right of animals to have their interests represented in court and safeguarded by the law of the land.

Those aren't too outrageous, right? I think people run at the mention of animal rights because they are very fearful that we are trying to make animals more important than people. No - just trying to give them equal consideration in terms of the right to a free and natural life. Now, show me somewhere that humans are kept in the conditions that animals are kept in, and I will say let's take care of that and give that just as much importance as changing the conditions for animals. The thing is we have already guaranteed these very basic things to humans, so why shouldn't we extend it to animals?
ALSO, people run because animal activists have been given a bad name by a just a few crazies that get all the press. Not all of us, in fact, most of us are normal, non-militant people who see an egregious social injustice occurring.

crossposted at veganise.me

Friday, February 29, 2008

Good Quotations from Living Celebrities

Selected these from here: http://www.peta.org/living/overheard-archive.aspx

Woody Harrelson

"Yeah, milk does a body good—if you are a calf. It is evil to your body to put something in there that's designed to make an animal go from very small to very big in a short time."
(The Independent)

Benjamin Zephaniah

[When asked what he would eat if he were in a desert with no food in sight except a cow] "I'd find out what the cow was eating and join [him or her]."
(The Independent)

[On becoming a vegetarian at the age of 11 and a vegan at the age of 13] "I was disgusted by the taste and texture and the thought of having flesh and blood against my teeth. Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay."
(The Independent)


"I've always felt that animals are the purest spirits in the world. They don't fake or hide their feelings, and they are the most loyal creatures on Earth. And somehow we humans think we're smarter—what a joke."
(Chicago Sun Times)

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart

"I fail to see the glory in taking a high-powered rifle with a targeting scope and blowing away a grizzly bear—often leaving orphan cubs behind to starve, get hit by cars—or to be exterminated themselves by some other jerk so he can mount their little baby heads on his wall. The only thing animal trophies are a testament to is ignorance. In my view, there is absolutely no sport and nothing in any way admirable about hunting in today's times, [when] we do not have the necessity of slaughtering our own food. ... Hunting is just senseless butchering and too often done inhumanely."
(The Calgary Sun)

Jennifer Connelly

"We are big veggie people in our house. I know that sounds boring, but we are more indulgent with our love than our food. So it's going to be a veggie menu."

Homer Simpson

"The zoo opens up a whole new world for the animals. In the wild, they would never experience boredom, obesity, loss of purpose—you know, the American Dream!" [LOL]
(TV Guide)

Richard Gere

"People get offended by animal rights campaigns. It's ludicrous. It's not as bad as mass animal death in a factory."
(Time Out)

Richard Gere

"People get offended by animal rights campaigns. It's ludicrous. It's not as bad as mass animal death in a factory."
(Time Out)

Dick Gregory

"Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel, and brutal taking of life."
(Marin Independent Journal)

James Cromwell

"If any kid realized what was involved in factory farming, they would never touch meat again. I was so moved by the intelligence, sense of fun, and personality of the animals I worked with on Babe that by the end of the film I was a vegetarian."
(Newark Star-Ledger)

Gov. Jesse Ventura

"[Y]ou need to hunt something that can shoot back at you to really classify yourself as a hunter. You need to understand the feeling of what it's like to go into the field and know your opposition can take you out. Not just go out there and shoot Bambi."
(Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Cameron Diaz

After being told that pigs share the same mental capacity as 3-year-old children:
"My niece was 3 at the time, which is a magical age. I thought, Oh, my god, it's like eating my niece!"

Devon Aoki

"I sometimes think, would I drink the milk from the breast of a woman I don't know? No. So I think, why would I drink it from a cow?"

Jack La Lanne

"You name me one creature on this Earth that used milk after they're weaned. It's not good for you. It's good for a suckling calf. Are you a suckling calf?"
(Dateline NBC)

Susan Powter

"[I]f you, or anyone (and I have) ever walked into a meat/chicken mass production house in this country, you wouldn't eat what comes out of there. The stream line inspection system in the U.S. today says it all: 80,000 birds a day processed. Out of those 80,000, only fifteen birds are inspected. Out of those fifteen birds, they have to have three or more pen abscesses to be pulled off the line. Now, if that's OK with you—then you are already brain-dead. If you believe that this government is anything other than a lobby system, then you are stupid as sh-t. If you believe the FDA is protecting you and your family, you shouldn't read The Politics of Stupid ... perhaps a fairy tale, one by Disney—Snow White, ya know—the maid to seven midgets!!!"
(The Stranger)

B.B. King

"I came home one morning and saw an English actress on TV who was talking about how a lot of fast-food companies fix chicken, for example. They showed how the chicken would be coming around like on an assembly line, and when they get to each place, this thing would cut the heads off and something else would do something else to them. And they showed some place in northern Canada where they were killin' the baby seals. They were white and pretty out on the snow, and then they'd kill them and there would be blood and stuff. They showed how we make mink coats in the U.S. We electrocute the minks through their testicles so it won't hurt the fur. I was sitting there and I just got angry. One of my sons who usually cooks for me came over the next morning to make me some bacon and eggs, and I couldn't eat it. And from that time on that's been my protest—I haven't eaten any meat since." [Yeah, BB, I've always known you were awesome!!]

(Guitar World)

Jane Goodall

"Hundreds of people watch the antics of birds on their bird tables, feed them through the winter, and provide nest boxes in the spring, yet never give a thought to the domestic hens, turkeys, and ducks who, in the nightmarish conditions of battery farms, live lives so cramped that they cannot spread their wings or roost or do any of the things that make avian life in the wild so joyous. Thousands of people who say they 'love' animals sit down once or twice a day to enjoy the flesh of creatures who have been utterly deprived of everything that could make their lives worth living and who endured the awful suffering and the terror of the abattoirs—and the journey to get there—before finally leaving their miserable world, only too often after a painful death."
(The Ten Trusts)

Russell Simmons

"My wife, Kimora, once told me while we were watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that that's a vegetarian movie. The way that woman was screaming, 'Aaaahhh,' and she's running away—that's how every animal you eat is running for his life …."
(Interview With PETA)


"I think and speak clearer since I cut the dairy out. I can breathe better and perform at a better rate, and my voice is clearer. I can explore different things with my voice that I couldn't do because of my meat and dairy ingestion. I am proud and blessed to be a vegetarian, everything became clear."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is Free Range Really Cruelty-Free?

The following article is from http://www.cok.net/lit/freerange.php

“Just because it says free-range does not mean that it is welfare-friendly.”
—Dr. Charles Olentine, editor of Egg Industry magazine, an industry trade journal(1)

As concern grows over the way the meat, egg, and dairy industries treat the animals we eat, so does the number of animal products labeled “free-range.” What does this mean? Do “free-range” chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cows receive humane treatment? Are they slaughtered in less violent ways? While “free-range” practices may be less inhumane than the horrors animals are forced to endure on conventional factory farms, they are still very far from cruelty-free.

“Free-Range” Eggs

There is no inspection system for companies that label their eggs “free-range.”

The popular myth that “free-range” egg-laying hens enjoy fresh grass, bask in the sunlight, scratch the earth, sit on their nests, and engage in other natural habits is often just that: a myth. In many commercial “free-range” egg farms, hens are crowded inside windowless sheds with little more than a single, narrow exit leading to an enclosure, too small to accommodate all of the birds at once.

Both battery cage and “free-range” egg hatcheries kill all male chicks shortly after birth. Since male chicks cannot lay eggs and are different breeds than those chickens raised for meat, they are of no use to the egg industry. Standard killing methods, even among “free-range” producers, include grinding male chicks alive or throwing them into trash bags and leaving them to suffocate.

Whether kept in sheds or cages, laying hens—who can naturally live more than ten years—are considered “spent” when they are just one or two years old and their productivity wanes. Rather than being retired, “free-range” hens are slaughtered to make room for another shed of birds.

With no federal regulations overseeing the use of animal welfare claims on egg cartons, misleading or exaggerated claims are rampant. Consumers may be deceived by phrases such as “animal-friendly” or “naturally-raised,” which can be found on cartons of eggs from caged hens. Read about COK’s truth in labeling campaign urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require the full disclosure of production methods on eggs cartons sold nationwide.

“Free-Range” Broiler Chickens

Birds raised for meat ("broilers") may be considered "free-range" if they have U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified access to the outdoors. No other criteria-environmental quality, the size of the outdoor area, the number of birds confined in a single shed, or the indoor or outdoor space allotted per animal-are considered in applying the label. As with "free-range" laying hens, many "free-range" broilers live in a facility with only one small opening at the end of a large shed, permitting only a few birds to go outside at any given time.

Even Richard Lobb, spokesperson for the National Chicken Council admits, "Even in a free-range type of style of production, you're basically going to find most of them inside the grow out facility…."(2)

According to The Washington Post Magazine, in the case of birds, the term "free-range" "doesn't really tell you anything about the [animal's]…quality of life, nor does it even assure that the animal actually goes outdoors."(3)

Aside from the birds' actual living conditions, there is no prohibition in "free-range" poultry farming against using breeds of chickens and turkeys who have been selectively bred for fast growth and high feed conversion.

In the 1950s, it took 84 days to raise a five-pound chicken. Due to selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs, it now takes only 45 days.(4) Such fast growth causes chickens to suffer from a number of chronic health problems, including leg disorders and heart disease.(5) According to one study, 90 percent of broilers had detectable leg problems, while 26 percent suffered chronic pain as a result of bone disease.(6) Two researchers in The Veterinary Record report, "We consider that birds might have been bred to grow so fast that they are on the verge of structural collapse."(7) Industry journal Feedstuffs reports, "[B]roilers now grow so rapidly that the heart and lungs are not developed well enough to support the remainder of the body, resulting in congestive heart failure and tremendous death losses."(8)

Whether labeled "free-range" or not, if the birds used by agribusiness are the standard "broiler" chicken of today, buying these products involves an enormous amount of animal suffering.

And, as with factory-farmed birds raised for their meat, "free-range" chickens and turkeys may undergo the same grueling and sometimes fatal transport to slaughterhouses when reaching market weight. Workers gather these birds up to four at a time, carrying them upside down by their legs before throwing them into crates on multi-tiered trucks without protection from the heat or cold and without access to food or water. "Free-range" birds end up at the same slaughterhouses as factory-farmed birds, where they are hung upside down, have their throats slit, and bleed to death, often while still fully conscious.
“Free-Range” Cows, Sheep, and Pigs

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), "free-range" beef, pork, and other non-poultry products are loosely defined as coming from animals who ate grass and lived on a range. No other criteria-such as the size of the range or the amount of space given to each animal-are required before beef, lamb, and pork can be called "free-range." "Free-range" and "free-roaming" facilities are rarely inspected or verified to be in compliance with these two criteria. The USDA relies "upon producer testimonials to support the accuracy of these claims."(9)

Even when "free-range" cows, sheep, and pigs are allowed to live outdoors, they are still subjected to excruciating mutilations without painkiller or analgesic, such as castration, branding, dehorning, tail-docking, and tooth-grinding. Once they are fattened to market weight, they are trucked to slaughterhouses. They are denied food, water, and adequate protection from extreme temperatures once in the vehicles, and many die during the trip. These cows, sheep, and pigs are still slaughtered in the same violent ways as factory-farmed animals: They are pushed through narrow chutes, hung upside down on conveyor belts, and have their throats slit; some are dismembered while still fully conscious.

Is a Truly Free-Range World Possible?

The U.S. animal agribusiness industry currently confines and slaughters more than ten billion land animals each year, the overwhelming majority of whom live intensively confined on factory farms where many cannot even turn around or fully stretch their limbs. Would it be possible to raise ten billion animals without intensive confinement? Probably not.

If intensive confinement operations were banned, it's highly unlikely producers could supply an entire nation of 300 million meat-, egg-, and dairy consumers with enough animal products to sustain the typical American diet. So, without even considering the ethical problems inherent in raising and slaughtering animals for food, from a practical perspective, completely humane farming and slaughtering methods aren't possible.

The Bottom Line

Granted, living in cramped conditions is better than living in even more cramped conditions. Laying hens who have 67 square inches of space per bird likely suffer less than those who have only 50, and giving even 10 out of 10,000 turkeys access to sunlight and the outdoors is better than denying all of them such basic needs. But, clearly, commercial "free-range" farming is not the answer to ending animal abuse.
Doing the Right Thing

The animals killed so we can have chicken breasts, milk, and omelets feel pain and experience joy just like the dogs and cats we pamper. And, like dogs and cats, they want to live free from torture and suffering. By choosing vegetarian foods, we can improve their lives and our own. Indeed, eating meat, eggs, and dairy products is not necessary for our survival and. In fact, even the country's leading nutrition organization, the American Dietetic Association, states that "appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases."(10)

Since we have no need for meat, eggs, and dairy products, why support animal cruelty by purchasing those products? Becoming vegetarian, rather than looking for less inhumane animal products, is the most ethical decision to make.

Visit Tryveg.com to learn more about transitioning to an animal-friendly diet, recipes, information on factory farming, and more.

1. Olentine, Charles. "Welfare and the Egg Industry: The Best Defense Is an Offense," Egg Industry, October 2002, p. 24.
2. Quoted from interview with CNN news piece which aired on July 25, 2004. Transcript available at http://www.cok.net/feat/cnn.php.
3. Perl, Peter. "The Truth About Turkeys," The Washington Post Magazine, November 5, 1995.
4. Duncan IJH, "Welfare Problems of Meat-Type Chickens," Farmed Animal Well-Being Conference at the University of California-Davis, June 28-29, 2001; personal correspondence with Stephen Pretanik, director of Science and Technology, National Chicken Council, Washington, D.C., January 14, 2004.
5. Leeson S, Diaz G, and Summers JD, Poultry Metabolic Disorders and Mycotoxins (Guelph, Canada: University Books, 1995); Julian RJ, "Rapid Growth Problems: Ascites and Skeletal Deformities in Broilers," Poultry Science 77 (1998): 1773-80.
6. Kestin SC, Knowles TG, Tinch AE, and Gregory NG, "Prevalence of Leg Weakness in Broiler Chickens and Its Relationship with Genotype," The Veterinary Record 131 (1992): 190-4.
7. Wise D and Jennings A, "Dyschondroplasia in Domestic Poultry," The Veterinary Record 91 (1972): 285-6.
8. Martin D, "Researcher Studying Growth-Induced Diseases in Broilers," Feedstuffs, May 26, 1997.
9. Donovan, Michael E. Official U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food Safety and Inspection Service letter, April 11, 1996.
10. "Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets," Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2003, volume 103, pp. 748-765. Available at http://www.eatright.org/Public/GovernmentAffairs/17084.cfm