Yesterday I came across a beautiful letter of apology that was written to the thousands of nonhuman animals who had suffered and died to satisfy one man’s appetite for animal foods.
Dear thousands of cows, chickens, fish, shrimp, pigs and insects,
I paid someone to hold you captive in tight quarters. To remove your genitals, your beaks, your tails and to brand you, all while wide awake and without anesthesia. To forcibly impregnate you and keep you that way all your life. I paid them to remove you from your children and from your parents at birth. And finally to kill you. I paid them to treat you as a commodity, a slave, as an object that existed only for my benefit. As if you could not suffer, or as if it didn’t matter if you could or not. All of this when it was unnecessary to do so. I did this solely for my own pleasures. A tasty meal, a full belly. You gave me comfort, you gave me a way to fit in with others and with the crowd. You gave me a center piece around which I and my family could celebrate. You were there to fill an empty space when I had a longing that I didn’t know how to fix. You made me feel safe. I know you can’t answer me directly, but I want to make this right. I feel I do not yet understand how to do this fully. Until then I will do what I can.
I love you,
I’ve just read Roger Yates’ blog post Neo-Welfarist Animal Liberationists where he introduces the term neo-welfare animal liberationists (N-WALs) in an attempt to use something that will be less objectionable to the people who Gary Francione terms new welfarists.
Traditional welfarists are people who care only about the treatment of animals but who support the use of animals for food, entertainment, research and other uses. Francione coined the term “new welfarist” to refer to those animal advocates who would like to see an end to such uses of animals but who believe that incremental welfare reforms will both ultimately lead to that goal and alleviate suffering in the meantime. Francione disagrees with this position and believes it undermines abolitionist efforts by presenting a confusing message, by making people more comfortable about their “humane” use of animals, by legitimizing and further entrenching the institution of animal slavery, and by taking away resources that would be better devoted to vegan education. Francione also argues, from his experience as a lawyer, animal rights theorist and activist, that such reforms do not lead to fewer deaths or substantially better conditions for nonhuman animals. Continue reading
This essay attempts to answer age-old questions about how the consumption of animals fits into our moral framework. Do animals suffer, and if so, does their suffering have any moral relevance? Is it immoral to eat meat, or immoral not to? What is the religious significance of butter? Should we be eating other primates?
Perhaps Rene Descartes was right when he made the compelling argument that animals don’t feel pain. After all, he was right about a lot of other stuff.
Descartes was a vegetarian for health reasons. He, did, however, skin dogs and rabbits alive for research purposes. He reasoned that if the animals felt pain then what was done to them would be so horrific that God would never allow it. Since God did, in fact, allow it, then it follows logically that dogs and rabbits don’t feel pain. There is no reason to think any other animals do, either. As Descartes went on to argue, animals don’t have souls, and without a soul, you can’t feel pain. Continue reading
Listen to the full debate
Gary Francione: I would suggest that our use of animals for the production of food involves torture.
Jan Narveson: I want to claim that the torture is justified. You want to claim it’s not.
The question is, is our interest in the taste of animal flesh such as to justify doing the things we do to them to get them into the frying pan? My answer is, yes.
Last month libertarian philosopher Jan Narveson debated vegan abolitionist Gary Francione about animal rights. Narveson’s view is that humans have no moral obligation to animals. He argues that it is morally acceptable for animals to suffer, even horribly, as long as it in is in our interests to use them. He also claims that torturing animals pointlessly or for entertainment is “weird” but of trivial significance morally.
For those who have been following the Twitter debates with @mattbramanti, his views seem to be quite similar to Narveson’s.
I thought there were two encouraging things that came out of this. One is that Francione said that there are still many people who honestly believe it is necessary for human health to eat meat. It makes me hopeful that, for some omnivores at least, changing their minds about that could lead to them considering a vegan lifestyle. The other thing Francione said was that the abolitionist position hasn’t “really hit the radar screen yet of a lot of people. But there is clearly a change occurring. It’s happening here in North America. It’s happening in Europe. The thinking about this issue is clearly in transition.” Continue reading
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
¾ cup coconut milk
1 TBS curry powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
sea salt, to taste
1. Dice the onion and tomatoes.
2. Peel and finely chop the garlic or press it through a garlic press.
3. Wash and grate the ginger.
4. Put a large saucepan on medium heat, and add the tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic.
5. When it starts to gently boil, turn down the heat a little and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes to several hours. The longer you cook the tomatoes the richer the flavor will be, but 30 minutes is sufficient. If the mixture starts to brown or stick to the pan, turn down the heat.
6. Add the coconut milk and stir in the spices and 1 tsp. sea salt. Stir the mixture well.
7. Add the cooked chickpeas and stir well. Adjust the salt and seasonings to taste. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10-30 minutes to let the flavors blend.
8. Serve hot. Goes well with cooked greens and radishes, both of which help the body process the relatively high fat content of the coconut milk.