The words below are mostly not my own, but a collection of patched facts and thoughts by many great philosophers.
I am the voice of the voiceless; Through me the dumb shall speak, Till the deaf world’s ears be made to hear The wrongs of the wordless weak. And I am my brothers keeper, And I will fight his fights; And speak the words for beast and bird Till the world shall set things right.
Imagine yourself traveling to a distant land where it is customary to eat dogs, puppies in particular. You are invited to a special occasion dinner, where your closest friends are eating baby labradors. You must sit there, faking smiles on the outside while on the inside you are crying, mourning for the lives of individuals you never even met. While they enjoy what to them is merely a meal, you are sad thinking about the months of misery those puppies had to endure for that brief moment of your friend’s pleasure.
Imagine in another distant land where women are considered inferior, and do not share the same rights as men. Your male co-workers happily share their stories of raping women or beating up their wives – all perfectly legal in that place. You want to say something, you want to share your views of equality but you know that if you do you will upset them and risk losing your job for disrupting their peace.
In both those situations, would you respect those people’s opinions and views of the world when it so widely opposes your own? How can you respect people who don’t respect the kinds of people that you respect? You may be forced to co-exist with them, be their friends, work with them, but you will never respect what they do, however much legal it may be in that country.
We all know that there is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of offence nor defense, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it.
Kindness has no limits, it doesn’t have to end at any particular group. True benevolence, or compassion, extends itself through the whole of existence and sympathizes with the distress of every creature capable of sensation.
Many of us regard our nonhuman companions as members of our families while sticking forks into other nonhumans, such as pigs, cows, chickens, etc., who are no different from our companions. Why don’t you share that same love and respect that you have for a dog or cat with other animals? Why do we smile at videos of a cop helping a mother duck and her ducklings cross a busy road, or a cop who rescues a newborn deer whose mom was hit by a car, or the girl who lifted a 150lbs structure to rescue a kitten?
There’s no real logic behind our ability to enjoy a story about an act of kindness, or our relationships with our pets as much as our ability to enjoy a piece of meat. Basically, we suffer from a sort of “moral schizophrenia” where animals are concerned. We sometimes love some of the ones which cross our paths, and sometimes are apathetic to the ones who don’t.
Because one species is more clever than another, does it give it the right to imprison or torture the less clever species? Does one exceptionally clever individual have a right to exploit the less clever individuals of his own species? To say that he does is to say with the Fascists that the strong have a right to abuse and exploit the weak – might is right, and the strong and ruthless shall inherit the earth.
Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater right to the interests of members of their own race. Sexists violate the principle of equality by favoring the interests of their own sex. Similarly, speciesists allow the interests of their own species to override the greater interests of members of other species.
In each case, the pattern is identical. Though among the members of the human family we recognize the moral imperative of respect (every human is a somebody, not a something), morally disrespectful treatment occurs when those who stand at the power end of a power relationship treat the less powerful as if they were mere objects.
The rapist does this to the victim of rape. The child molester to the child molested. The master to the slave. In each and all such cases, humans who have power exploit those who lack it. Might the same be true of how humans treat other animals? Because beneath the many differences, there is certainly sameness. Like us, these animals embody the mystery and wonder of consciousness. Like us, they are not only in the world, they are aware of it. Like us they are the psychological centers of a life that is uniquely their own.
We patronize non-humans for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.
They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other individuals, other people, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.
To say that a mentally disabled person is not similarly situated to all others for purposes of being treated exclusively as a resource is to say that a less intelligent person is not similarly situated to a more intelligent person for purposes of being used, for instance, as a forced organ donor. The fact that the mentally disabled human may not have a particular sort of self-consciousness may serve as a nonarbitrary reason for treating her differently in some respects-it may be relevant to whether we make her the host of a talk show, or give her a job teaching in a university, or allow her to drive a car-but it has no relevance to whether we treat her exclusively as a resource and disregard her fundamental interests, including her interest in not suffering and in her continued existence, if it benefits us to do so.
In essence, we never question that every human, whether intelligent, gifted, ordinary, or mentally challenged, has the right not to be treated as the resource of others. The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
As such, it’s easy to compare our treatment of animals to the holocaust: one group of living beings anguishing beneath the hands of another. Though some will argue the suffering of animals cannot possibly compare with that of former Jews or slaves, there is an indisputable parallel. And for the prisoners and victims of this mass murder, their holocaust is far from over.
Suppose that tomorrow a group of beings from another planet, who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals, were to land on Earth. Would they have the right to treat you as you treat the animals you breed, keep and kill for food? Let’s hope not.
So when we walk around thinking we have a greater right to eat an animal than the animal has a right to live without suffering, it’s hypocritical. If we are to expect others to respect our lives, then we must respect the other life we see. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you.
It’s not that animals are superior or even equal to humans. The whole case for behaving decently to animals rests on the very fact that we are the superior species. We are the species uniquely capable of imagination, rationality and moral choice – and that is precisely why we are under an obligation to recognize and respect the rights of animals.
Albert Einstein once said:
We must finally understand that all sentient creatures are deserving of basic rights; the ability to pursue life without having someone else’s will involuntarily forced upon you. Because by what criteria can you justify denying basic rights to any sentient living thing? Realize that by whatever criteria you employ, someone could deny basic rights to you if they objected to your species, sexual preferences, mental ability, color, religion, ideology, etc.
Extending rights to animals is a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, giving them the rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny.
Hitler’s credo was that “he who does not possess power loses the right to life.” And that’s exactly what people do today towards animals. Virtually every atrocity in the history of humankind was enabled by a populace that turned away from a reality that seemed too painful to face, while virtually every revolution for peace and justice has been made possible by a group of people who chose to bear witness and demanded that others bear witness as well.
When we watch videos of farms and slaughterhouses, we are not merely acting as observers; we emotionally connect with the experience of those we are witnessing. We empathize. And in so doing, we close the gap in our consciousness, the gap that enables the violence of eating animal products to endure.
We eat animals because we have traditionally done so and because we enjoy the taste of it; there is, however, no necessity involved. We can get all nutrients we need from plants and fungi, in fact several studies show that we can live healthier by eating a plant-based diet.
How would you judge an artist who mutilated animals in a gallery because it looked good? Or a musician who tortured animals to capture what he considers beautiful sounds? Try to imagine any end other than taste for which you would find to be justifiable to do what we do to farmed animals. So why is taste, the crudest of our senses, exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other senses?
Your sustenance now comes from misery. How much suffering will you tolerate for your food? And if contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?
If your pleasure or convenience comes at the cost of someone else’s suffering, environmental destruction and health issues, it is still morally acceptable to continue with it? Then why not stop?
It’s within your power to choose a different path: we have the opportunity to make our choices freely. But it takes courage to open our hearts to the suffering of others and to acknowledge that, for better or worse, we are part of the system in which that suffering takes place, a system where it’s easier to be cruel than kind.
Cruelty depends on an understanding of cruelty, and the ability to choose against it. Or to choose to ignore it. But compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use, and the regular exercise of choosing kindness over cruelty can only bring good things to our world.
Any change of habit can be hard, it requires relearning, it requires thinking, it requires experimentation and time. But after a while, it becomes your new habit; a habit that came to be out of logical thinking, compassion and consideration, not out of a tradition of tyranny and apathy towards cruelty.
2. VIOLENT OPPOSITION
earth’ling: n. One who inhabits of the earth.
Since we all inhabit the earth, all of us are considered earthlings. There is no sexism, no racism or speciesism in the term earthling. It encompasses each and every one of us: warm or cold blooded, mammal, vertebrate or invertebrate, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, and human alike.
Humans, therefore, being not the only species on the planet, share this world with millions of other living creatures, as we all evolve here together. However, it is the human earthling who tends to dominate the earth, often times treating other fellow earthlings and living beings as mere objects. This is what is meant by speciesism.
By analogy with racism and sexism, the term “speciesism” is a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.
If a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that one’s suffering can be counted equally with the like suffering of any other being.
Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater right to the interests of members of their own race when their is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race.
Sexists violate the principle of equality by favoring the interests of their own sex.
Similarly, speciesists allow the interests of their own species to override the greater interests of members of other species.
In each case, the pattern is identical. Though among the members of the human family we recognize the moral imperative of respect (every human is a somebody, not a something), morally disrespectful treatment occurs when those who stand at the power end of a power relationship treat the less powerful as if they were mere objects.
The rapist does this to the victim of rape.
The child molester to the child molested.
The master to the slave.
In each and all such cases, humans who have power exploit those who lack it.
Might the same be true of how humans treat other animals, or other earthlings?
Undoubtedly there are differences, since humans and animals are not the same in all respects. But the question of sameness wears another face.
Granted, these animals do not have all the desires we humans have; granted, they do not comprehend everything we humans comprehend; nevertheless, we and they do have some of the same desires and do comprehend some of the same things.
The desires for food and water, shelter and companionship, freedom of movement and avoidance of pain? These desires are shared by nonhuman animals and human beings.
As for comprehension: like humans, many nonhuman animals understand the world in which they live and move. Otherwise, they could not survive.
So beneath the many differences, there is sameness.
Like us, these animals embody the mystery and wonder of consciousness.
Like us, they are not only in the world, they are aware of it.
Like us they are the psychological centers of a life that is uniquely their own.
In these fundamental respects humans stand “on all fours”, so to speak, with hogs and cows, chickens and turkeys.
What these animals are due from us, how we morally ought to treat them, are questions whose answer begins with the recognition of our psychological kinship with them.
Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote in his bestselling novel Enemies, A Love Story’ the following:
“As often has Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right”.
The comparison here to the holocaust is both intentional and obvious:
one group of living beings anguishes beneath the hands of another.
Though some will argue the suffering of animals cannot possibly compare with that of former Jews or slaves, there is, in fact, a parallel.
And for the prisoners and victims of this mass murder, their holocaust is far from over.
In his book ‘The Outermost House’ author Henry Beston wrote:
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical
concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.
We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.
In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.
They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth”.]]>
Animal products are the result of intentional torture and killing on a mass scale. Over 40 billion land animals (don’t know the numbers on the fish) are killed each year in the US alone. I don’t think that there is anything hypocritical about avoiding products of intentional torture, imprisonment, and slaughter and trying to persuade others to eliminate this from their lives in order to dismantle an utterly barbaric system, while not being able to eliminate all unintentional products of animal suffering, such as deaths of animals in farm fields or habitat destruction by the construction and operation of factories that pollute. I don’t know any vegans who feel they are perfect. In fact, most think that being vegan is the very least they can do for animals.
Being vegan is avoiding animal exploitation wherever it is unnecessary (key word being unnecessary). Unless you are truly starving and in a remote location with no alternatives, then it is always unnecessary to eat animal products. It is always unnecessary to use them for clothing. One person I encountered claimed that using any modern technology or anything plastic harms animals even more than eating animal products does. I’m not sure how using a computer harms animals, but it is something of a necessity in today’s world (I use it for my job in order to make money to feed myself, and food is kind of a necessity), and unfortunately there are no certified vegan computers…yet. Maybe there will be one day. Same can be said of a car if one is needed to drive to work. It is a necessary evil right now, but technology is moving toward developing cars and other forms of transportation that harm the environment less. Should human rights advocates stop using computers and iPhones for advocacy work because human slave labor may have been used to produce them, or should they stop advocating for human rights on the Internet entirely because otherwise they would be, in this fallacious view, hypocrites? Vegans avoid products where animal exploitation is direct and obvious and may then make it their life’s quest to continue eliminating products and practices of exploitation that are not as obvious. After becoming vegan, almost every vegan becomes very aware of his or her environmental impact, and many start making steps toward avoiding plastic or whatever other environmental disaster as much as possible, while also reducing their general consumption of unnecessary things (superfluous clothing, household items, random junk, etc.). Unfortunately in this very nonvegan world, it is impossible to avoid animal use in some way unless one goes and lives in the wild. But if more of the world does become vegan, one day it may be possible to use things that are nearly 100% free of any harms to animals, as the practices of most corporations or whatever entities provide us with resources to live will most likely be more conscientious than they are now, which is close to zero. Becoming vegan usually makes one more conscientious than ever. Veganism is a start to ridding the world of animal exploitation and not the end all, be all. It was never about intervening and ending the harm of every animal on the planet right now, so if one thinks that, then I can see why he/she would think vegans are hypocrites, but hopefully if you explain to him/her what veganism actually is, he/she will stop calling vegans hypocrites unless he/she sees a vegan engaging in obviously unnecessary animal use like eating dairy cheese (making that person not vegan anyway).
If you believe that animals have the right to not be used as commodities, then you must be vegan. Vegans never make the claim that being vegan will make you perfect and that you will avoid every single harm to animal, human or not. Being vegan is a start to eradicating violence in the world, and vegan activists are trying to get others to the starting line as well, and most are not in any way saying that this is the end of the world’s problems or problems for wild animals just because a small percentage of the population is vegan right now.
No one can know the implications of a world of people becoming more conscientious and at the same time vastly reducing resource use by worldwide adoption of veganism. Get rid of the wasteful, damaging abuses to the environment by the animal agriculture industries, and you’re going to have a world where it is much easier to always be kinder and gentler to all animals everywhere and reduce unintentional harm to them as well. To get there, we first all have to say no to all intentional, avoidable animal use.]]>
Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria and fungi; it’s not something special made by animals that our body needs. Since there are tons of microbes in the soil, it used to be present there, but the soil has been very worn out by modern agriculture – how intense it is and all the chemicals used. So it is likely that back in the day some used to get absorbed by plants. B12 wasn’t discovered until the 1950s, and modern agriculture with heavy pesticides started right after WWII, when all the chemical warfare companies needed to find something to do with their chemicals. Also, from all the heavy usage of the soil, it’s become more and more demineralized; if there is little cobalt in the soil, then only a little B12 can be made, even if the microbes are there. (B12 is a cobalamin.) So we’ll just never know for sure if plants used to contain B12! I did, however, see a fairly recent study that showed if there is B12 in the soil, then plants can absorb some of it, which offers a possible explanation for why some vegans who do not supplement do not develop deficiencies. Animal agriculture, on the scale that we practice it, does no favors for our farmland. It takes roughly 5-10 times the crops to make animal food than it does to make farm plant food to feed directly to people. So really, this soil depletion may have something to do with the fact that many nonvegans are B12 deficient too; our food supply just is not as in tune with nature as it used to be. One of the ways cows get B12 is by eating lots of soil with grass, and as for the way other farm animals who aren’t grass fed get it – I wouldn’t be surprised if B12 was added as a supplement to their factory produced feed, since I’ve heard that dairy cows are supplemented with calcium (How ironic is that?! We subject cows to horrible living conditions so that we can feed a calcium supplement to them so they can lactate the calcium out for their baby, whom we steal from her and then cruelly confine and slaughter, and so we can take her milk instead and then drink it, all in the name of calcium. We might as well get our calcium from where cows get it naturally when they’re in the wild – plants! Or just cut out the middle man already and take a supplement ourselves.) Today’s lower quality soil could also help to explain why a significant number of nonvegans who eat plenty of animal products are B12 deficient as well. Eating animal products will not insure you against B12 deficiency. Upon learning this fact, B12 ceases to be just the vegan’s issue, but a general health issue for everyone.
Another thing is that our society has become very sanitary about our food. Some soil would stick to vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, and people probably didn’t really bother to scrub their vegetables clean like we do now, and don’t forget that the soil was much healthier and richer then (so don’t think you can get away with meeting your B12 by not washing your produce). There wasn’t such a fear of dirt then either. Also, before massive water purification systems, people would have drunk water contaminated with microbes who make B12; this is why B12 deficiency might not be such a problem in third world countries because they don’t have water where almost all the microorganisms have been killed.
And WAY back in the day, we were probably eating a lot more like the primates we are, a diet of mostly fruit and greens with some insects, dirt, and feces mixed in, all of which are sources of B12. B12 is made by bacteria in your intestines, so yes, you can get B12 from eating your feces; there was actually a study published in the British Journal of Haemotology where B12 was extracted from B12 deficient vegans’ feces and fed back to them, and there was enough B12 in it to get their B12 levels back up to normal. I hope no one would want to do that! But at least it makes a little more sense when you see some animals, like rabbits and other non-ruminant herbivores who can’t make absorb B12 from their digestive tract, eating their own feces. Unfortunately, B12 is made a bit past where it gets absorbed by your body, so you can’t rely on your intestinal flora as a source that you can re-absorb. However, there was a study of Iranian villagers published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and they ate a very small amount of animal products, like a serving of dairy a week and a serving of meat a month, but they had great B12 levels, even though having one serving of animal products everyday, not just once a week/month, would not even provide the B12 RDA. The researchers speculated that their low protein diet allowed the B12 producing bacteria to travel farther up the intestine (probably due to variances in intestinal pH more friendly to the B12 producing bacteria) where it could be absorbed.
Another interesting thing is that we have a very small requirement for B12, I think the smallest of all the vitamins. It’s like 2 micrograms a day. Our bodies hoard it like crazy; your stores can last for years with no intake. It’s almost as if our body knows it’s not a super plentiful vitamin in nature, and we’re only going to come across it infrequently. I think some of it can be recycled in your body too. This is a lot different from how your body treats plentiful vitamins, like C, by just excreting the extra in the urine.
As you can see, this is a very complex issue; it’s not a black and white one that some would like to believe, where we can say we need something that we find pretty much only in the animal products in our food supply now, so that means we must/should eat animal products. Even though at first glance, the B12 question makes people think we must be carnivores, the truth is we’re much closer in physical traits to animals who are mostly herbivorous/frugivorous. To see that, we just need to look to comparative anatomy/physiology. It is so basic, but you probably never learned much about it in school, unfortunately. Please have a look at this chart – (link) And this is a pretty good write-up – (link).
The thing that is really compelling to me that shows we’re not really designed to eat much meat is our basic anatomy. If we were in the wild, naked, could we take down an animal with nothing but our bare hands, blunt teeth, and soft nails? Could we rip apart the animal and eat it? Could we make a clean kill right to the throat like a carnivore does? Could we even catch the animal and hold it in place long enough to hack away at it with our teeth and nails in the first place?! Most animals can outrun humans, obviously, and they can usually squirm away from them once they’re caught too. And would we even have the desire to work that hard to get it? Surely the taste of plain, raw meat isn’t that alluring to make us perform these feats. So a lot of people would say, well we’re meant to kill animals because we have the ability to make tools!…Really? Our rational thinking and intelligence can take us anywhere, make us do anything! Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean that it is right, natural, or healthy for us. Anything our brain can dream will most likely far outpace the human body’s ability to evolve. Fast food, cigarettes, synthetic recreational drugs, processed food, the modern conveniences that allow for sendentariness: all are products of various technologies the human brain dreamed, calculated, and created, and there is no way our body is going to evolve quickly enough to thrive on, let alone safely handle those things in large quantities. Tools used for killing animals are just a much more basic technology we created, and our body has not quite caught up with what it has provided us with. And don’t forget about atomic bombs, torture devices, and chemical/biological warfare; technology does not always take us down the enlightened and peaceful path, and I certainly don’t think that the cavemen technology of spears and rocks is the brightest and best idea so much so that we should perpetuate it with the updated technology of slaughterhouse machinery. I won’t deny that there were times in our history when it was necessary for humans to eat meat to survive, but just because we can eat and digest something (processed food, McDonald’s, cockroaches, dog and cat meat, cardboard, etc.) doesn’t mean it is optimal for us. Our species evolved in the tropics and then eventually migrated from there; we no longer had our optimal food available in the cold climates we moved to, so we had to make do with what was available in each location. If we would have stayed in the tropics, we probably never would have taken up meat eating with the abundant, appealing fruit available to us there.
Take a look at instinct vs. choice when it comes to food. Right now we eat almost exclusively by choice. If we strip away all cultural and habitual conditioning that direct our food desires and just take two things in their raw, natural state: a live rabbit and a ripe apple. Going only on our instinct and not informing our choice from what we have been taught to eat, which one would almost all people choose 100% of the time? Would the rabbit smell appetizing to us? (He would to dogs and cats, since they have such a strong sense of smell; they can probably smell the meat of the rabbit under his fur.) Would the apple smell appealing to us? Of course. What about the taste of each – do we have taste buds for plain, raw meat with no salt or seasoning added to it? Or do we have taste buds for fruit? Babies are born with a desire for sweetness. There have been experiments where babies are calmed with sugar water; I doubt anyone would try to pacify a baby with a hunk of raw meat. Also, the sight of the apple would appeal to us. Bright color attracts our attention (which is why fruit doesn’t turn a vibrant color until it is ripe and ready to be eaten); some (all?) carnivores are color blind; it’s not important for them to see bright colors and to know when fruit is ripe. So not only is our body hard-wired to tell us to eat the apple, but what would most (normal) people’s instinct make them want to do to the rabbit? Cuddle, hug, and protect him, right? So like I said, now with our food environment vastly different than what would be available in the wild, we eat by choice and not instinct. The crazy thing is even though we don’t eat by instinct anymore, we don’t even truly make much of a choice in the matter, since what we eat is really determined by the culture we were raised in, what was put in front of us as a kid, what is served at social functions, and what is available to us in grocery stores and restaurants. Eating a vegan diet is deciding to take back your choice in the matter a bit more and to maybe eat a little closer to what our instincts would have led us to hundreds of thousands of years ago.
I think it makes sense to look at our most similar genetic relative, the chimp, to see what they eat. We are more closely related to a chimp than a horse is to a donkey, and the latter are so close that they can actually mate with each other. Chimps survive mostly on fruit and greens. I’m betting they get their B12 from insects, worms, and soil on the vegetation they eat. I much rather just take a supplement than eat insects and worms :) Sometimes our technology can help us to improve on nature. I’ve also heard that since humans don’t possess any of the traits of a natural predator, we may be more like opportunistic scavengers instead, sometimes feeding on animals that have already died or ones that predators killed. Again, I much rather stick with the supplement than eat roadkill!
This MD has summed up the B12 thing in the best way I’ve ever seen – “I realize some people think there is something ‘unnatural’ and bad about taking supplements, but it is the price we must pay for eating less dirt, feces and insects than our primate ancestors.” http://veganmd.blogspot.com/2007/12/vegan-must-knows-on-vitamin-b12-d.html
Or you can take a different approach to this question entirely: just brush it off. I read part of the chapter on B12 in vegan dietitians Ginny Messina’s and Jack Norris’s new book, Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet, today, and they say, just forget about trying to argue that humans weren’t meant to eat meat and that it’s not natural. Veganism is about changing the future. It’s not about looking to the past and figuring out how to eat and act from there. It’s about showing people it’s time for our society to evolve. The point is that the evidence shows we can be completely healthy on a vegan diet supplemented with B12. If it’s not the most natural way, who cares?! Who’s eating a 100% natural diet from the wild in this day and age anyway? We live in an unnatural society that is very difficult to break away from. I will happily and proudly take my “unnatural” B12 supplement if it means sparing the life of an animal, thank you very much. It’s a win-win situation. I live; an animal lives.
Now since I’ve mentioned Ginny and Jack, I don’t feel right to end this post without reminding everyone…if you are vegan, TAKE A B12 SUPPLEMENT EVERYDAY. (And do it too, if you’re not a vegan.)]]>
What would USDA’s MyPlate look like if meat and dairy lobbyists weren’t involved? If the health of the country was actually more important to them than making money and keeping government subsidies as they are?
Nutritionist Dr Bernard says:
The protein portion of the USDA’s MyPlate is unnecessary, because beans, whole grains, and vegetables are loaded with it. And it is a shame that MyPlate reserves a special place for dairy products, which are packed with fat and cholesterol and may increase the risk of health problems ranging from asthma to some types of cancer. There are many more healthful sources of calcium.
But for taxpayers and members of Congress, the new plate has a special significance. There’s a stark contrast between the USDA’s plate and federal food subsidies. While the USDA’s plate encourages fruit and vegetable consumption and advises Americans to limit high-fat products like meat and cheese, federal agriculture subsidies do exactly the opposite: They spend billions of dollars promoting production of high-fat, high-calorie food products.
Despite skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates, more than 60 percent of agricultural subsidies in recent history have directly and indirectly supported meat and dairy production. In recent history, the federal government has spent about $16 billion a year on agricultural subsidies. Less than 1 percent has gone to fruits and vegetables.
These figures are especially galling when you realize that the taxpayer-funded food system is literally making us sick. More than 60 percent of the deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease, cancer, and other diet-related diseases. Approximately 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. In 2008, the direct medical costs associated with obesity added up to $147 billion.
It’s time for Congress to fix this problem and address our country’s epidemics of obesity and other health problems.
Ben & Jerry’s ice creams advertise that their milk comes from well treated cows in the Netherlands.
You can see what they say here: http://www.benjerry.co.uk/caringdairy
I was curious to find out some information that they didn’t really talk about on their website, so I sent them some questions.
1- Are the cows free to roam most of the day? how long is she milked for in a 24 hour period?
Outside grazing is an important part of Caring Dairy and all our dairy cows are able to leave the barn in the summer time. In the winter however, most of them stay in the barn, since it is too cold and wet outside for them in the Dutch climate. In the winter time they are housed however in free stalls where they can walk around.
Sadly she didn’t answer the second question.
2- When the cows give birth to the calf, how long does it stay together with her?
To prevent the spread of diseases like para tuberculosis, calves are advised to be separated from their mothers 1 day after birth.
Scientific research has shown that separation so soon after the birth is less stressful for both the mother and calf than separation after a couple of weeks or months.
Rather than going for “less stress” it would be great if they went for “no stress” and left the mother with her baby until he grew up. Imagine how horrible it must be for a mother to get her newborn baby taken away from her? And how horrible it must be for the newborn to grow up without a mother?
3- Does the calf have full access to drink milk when he/she wants to?
That depends on the farming system. In farming systems with automatic feeding systems for milk the calves have free access to milk 24h. In other farming systems the calves are fed twice a day (after milking in the morning and the evening). Calves have always unlimited access to water and feed.
4- If it’s a male calf, where does it go after it grows up?
Male calves are raised on the farm for two weeks and then go to a bull calf farm for at least another 6 months. This is based on strict regulations in the Netherlands regarding calf housing and animal welfare.
So male calves are taken away from their mother after 1 day, stay in the farm for 2 weeks and then 6 months later is slaughtered for their muscles.
5- How often do the cows give birth to a new calf?
On average once every 13.5 month (starting from the age of 2)
A cow’s gestation period is 9 months. So 4.5 months after she has a calf she is forcefully impregnated again.
6- What happens to the cow when she is old and no longer able to produce milk?
On average dairy cows in the Netherlands live for around 6 years. Part of the Caring Dairy programme is to increase the average age of the cows by preventative health care measures e.g. close observation of cows to promote a healthy well-being as opposed to just treating symptoms when they are already ill. This is good for the cows (longer healthy life), the farmer (longer source of income from one cow) and the environment (less replacement of cows). When cows are no longer able to produce milk they are sent to an abattoir.
A cow’s normal life-span is of 20 to 25 years, yet their cows only live for 6 years. In that time period they’ll have had 4 babies taken away from them. Then they are killed.]]>
Officer, Mike Fowler, said this has been one of the most gruesome acts he has dealt with in his 10 year career as an officer.]]>
In reply to this comment:
Whatever diet you choose to eat,it should provide all the nutrients you need from plants and/or animals that occur naturally. A vegan diet is deficient in B-12. It is necessary to take an artificially produced supplement. This to me indicates that a vegan diet is not one naturally suited to humans.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost]]>
And why is taste, the crudest of our senses, exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other senses? If you stop and think about it, it’s crazy. How would you judge an artist who mutilated animals in a gallery because it was visually interesting? How beautiful would the sound of a tortured animal need to be to make you want to hear it that badly? Try to imagine any end other than taste for which it would be justifiable to do what we do to animals.
It’s easy to make oneself feel better about it by buying “humane” meat. Unfortunately however there’s no legal definition of humane – it’s simply a label that you have no control over. The margins are low, they can’t afford not to mass produce these animals as through they are objects. In the end they are all killed in the same slaughterhouse as all the others. The stun guns only work 80% of the time. Every day animals get skinned alive in the factory process.
These things happen whether in humane farming or factory farming.
And many people seem to be tempted to continue supporting factory farms while also buying meat outside that system when it is available. That’s nice. But if it is as far as our moral imaginations can stretch, then it’s hard to be optimistic about the future. Any plan that involves funneling money to the factory farm won’t end factory farming. How effective would the Montgomery bus boycott have been if protesters had used the bus when it became inconvenient not to? How effective would a strike be if workers announced they would go back to work as soon as it became difficult to strike?
Before child labor laws, there were businesses that treated their ten-year-old employees well. Society didn’t ban child labor because it’s impossible to imagine children working in a good environment, but because when you give that much power to business over powerless individuals, it’s corrupting. When we talk around thinking we have a greater right to eat an animal than the animal has a right to live without suffering, it’s corrupting.
If we are at all serious about ending factory farming, then the absolute least we can do is stop sending checks to the absolute worst abusers. For some, the decision to eschew factory-farmed products is easy. For others the decision is hard. To those for whom it sounds like a hard decision, the ultimate question is whether it is worth the inconvenience. We know, at least, that this decision will prevent deforestation, curb global warming, reduce pollution, save oil reserves, lessen the burden on rural areas, decrease human rights abuses, improve public health, and help eliminate the most systematic animal abuse in world history. What we don’t know, though, may be just as important. How would making such a decision change us?
Setting aside the direct material changes initiated by opting out of the factory farm system, the decision to eat with such deliberateness would itself be a force with enormous potential. What kind of world would we create if three times a day we activated our compassion and reason as we saw down to eat, if we had the moral imagination and the pragmatic will to change our most fundamental act of consumption?
Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use, and the regular exercise of choosing kindness over cruelty would change us.
It might sound naive to suggest that whether you order a chicken patty or a veggie burger is a profoundly important decision. Then again, it certainly would have sounded fantastic if in the 1950s you were told that where you saw in a restaurant or on a bus could begin to uproot racism. It would have sounded equally fantastic if you were told in the early 1970s, before Cesar Chavez’s workers’ rights campaigns, that refusing to eat grapes could begin to free farmworkers from slave-like conditions. It might sound fantastic, but when we bother to look, it’s hard to deny that our day-to-day choices shape the world.]]>
Let me ask you some questions to help us come to a conclusion.
Were the Nazis bad because:
Meaning, if they had tortured/killed brain dead humans (who were not able to feel pain/fear) would it have been just as bad or would it have been forgotten by today?
And if they had tortured/killed millions of monkeys who were able to feel the same amount of pain as the Jews, would it still be remembered today?
If humans are animals, and if human intelligence is unrelated to the ability to feel pain, which is shared equally amongst most animals, then why is it so shocking to torture a human but not an animal?
How is it that our intelligence grants us the right not to suffer? Isn’t that like saying that our sight grants us the right not to be shouted at? Are these qualities connected in any way? Can a person with high IQ suffer more than one with a low IQ? In fact, can’t children, who are unable to rationalise their pain, seemingly feel more pain than adults?
Why has the holocaust stuck in our minds for so long because of a few million tortured Jews but the hundreds of billions of animals who were since equally tortured for food are not remembered?
And would the holocaust have been any less shocking if the Nazis didn’t kill Jews because of hatred, but simply because they enjoyed the taste of Jewish meat and killed them to feed their families? Equally, would it have been just as shocking to you if the Nazis had tortured and killed millions of cows because they hated cows? If not, why not?
Is it the reason for unneeded torture (hatred, taste, convenience) that makes it horrific or is it simply the torture itself?
So why is it that we grant rights to some but not others?
Was it relevant to the Nazis that Jews were humans? How about the slave masters and the blacks, did they care about their species or was race only deciding factor to them?
You, I assume, care about all humans regardless of anything, so long as they are human. But why do you stop there? Why do you not care about all animals regardless of species?
One is black, the other white, one has fur the other not, one can write poems the other cannot. But are those attributes relevant to the right not to suffer? If so, should a severely retarded human be stripped of their rights?
And under what logic should the right not to suffer be based on color, gender, race, height, religion, sexuality or species? Would it not make more sense if the right not to suffer was based on the mere ability to suffer?
I would appreciate it if you could share your logic on the subject and explain why you believe you are better than the Nazis/slave masters and deserve not to be compared to them.]]>
Animals taste good and since I am more powerful I feel I have the right to eat them. Animals are inferior beings, they don’t have our level of intellect so I don’t see anything wrong with eating them. They were bred for this purpose so their suffering is non-important as long as I get meat on my plate. Our society has eaten animals for hundreds of years, it’s a part of our culture and I’m not the one who’ll change that.
Use them at work and spread the message!]]>
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,
God gave man dominion over the animals. Animals are one of God’s creatures that we are to love and respect. I do not want to support an industry that tortures and mistreats animals.
There, that’s pretty much a light summary of what I believe. Of course this is usually followed up by one or two notorious questions:
“So if you don’t eat meat, how do you get protein?”
“So I can understand not wanting to kill an animal, but what about cheese and eggs? Nothing dies for those.”
This is good reinforcement for you as to why you believe in being vegan and also can be used as a chance to spark conversation with people who would never think to consider where their food comes from. Also, for new vegans, this might serve as something to hold on to so that when confronted, you have something to say that will, hopefully, knock their socks off.
So here is my question for you guys:
What is /your/ vegan elevator speech? and what are the most common follow up questions?]]>
First of all, there’s absolutely no way to know that animals don’t think. Just because they don’t communicate in any verbal human languages does not mean they don’t think. For all we know, cows are smarter than Einstein, but they choose to never talk and to instead eat grass all day. Anyhow, there is actually plenty of scientific evidence that animals do think. Pigs can play video games for a food reward. Rats can solve mazes. Gorillas can communicate with humans using sign language. And even if we could prove that animals couldn’t think, the important thing is that they certainly do feel. Babies and mentally handicapped people don’t think anything like human adults can. Should we kill and eat them too? The ability to think like a human should not be the grounds for moral consideration. What shapes most moral codes? Usually, they are tied in with feelings. They often have an ultimate goal of maximizing happiness and/or minimizing pain and suffering – both which deal with emotional or physical feelings. Let’s say there is someone who can only think and not feel at all (kind of like an android or complex computer) – no pain, no emotions, no desires – murdering this “person” wouldn’t be so bad (as long as they had no family who could feel emotions and grieve) precisely because there could be no fear, disappointment, or pain, but switch that hypothetical situation around – if someone could not think at the level of a human being but could feel 100%, death would still be a terrifying, painful experience. And that is why we base morals on feelings.
It is obvious that animals feel pain and emotions. This requires far less proof than the claim that animals can think. Anyone who has ever lived with a cat or dog knows that animals have emotions and can feel pain. Animals also have families and care for their offspring, just like humans do. They also show great distress when they or their offspring are in danger, just like humans do. There is even an account of a cat who kept returning into a burning building to carry each of her kittens to safety, even though she was already badly burned.
The thing is we don’t need meat to live. The only reason we kill is for taste. Is it truly worth putting a sentient being through hell (and I do mean hell – http://www.watchearthlings.com) just to have a few minutes of pleasure?
Here is an excellent post that elaborates on the issue of the value of human vs. nonhuman life – http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/peter-singer-and-the-welfarist-position-on-the-lesser-value-of-nonhuman-life/