Archive for the veganism Category

[animallibpress] X To Whom it may Concern X, By Walter Bond

Posted in animal liberation, animal rights, veganism with tags , , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by carmen4thepets

 

 

 

 

X To Whom it may Concern X
By Walter Bond

 


 

From Golden, Colorado jail
December 10, 2010

I was raised in a household of drug and alcohol abuse. My biological father, Mark Zuehlke, was a Vietnam vet that came back from the war and got heavy into cocaine, amphetamines and outlaw biker gangs. My mother Minerva Marie Montanzo Domench was raised in Ford Apache, Bronx and born in Puerto Rico. Their marriage produced three children, me being the youngest. My biological parents divorced when I was 12 months old. Some years later, Mark was sent to federal prison for his involvement in one of the largest cocaine/meth busts in Iowa history. I met him for the first time with I was a young man. I traveled to Yankton, South Dakota to the federal prison and visited Mark there. It is my opinion to this day that he was a deadbeat dad, a liar and a scumbag.

My two full blooded brothers, Guthrie and Trapper, were raised by our biological father and I was raised by our biological mother. It has always been unclear to me why they split us up this way, as it was arranged by my parents out of court. In any event, my mother remarried the man who became my adopted father. James Bond married my mother in 1984 at which time he adopted me and my last name was legally changed to Bond. I was in diapers when they began dating and he has been the only father I’ve ever known.

He, unlike Mark, was a good man. But he was a good man with a bad problem. My father (James Bond) was terribly addicted to alcohol. My parents soon divorced when I was ten years old and my mother and I moved to Denver, Colorado to be near her family. By the ripe old age of 12, I was smoking weed with my mother and doing drugs with my “friends”. Although I have my G.E.D. (which I received the last time I was in prison), I never made it past the 8th grade. Going to class was far less interesting than getting wasted. I met other kids like me. Friends with broken homes and druggie parents. Biker kids. Punk rock kids. Nerds, geeks and the throwaways.

It was the late 80’s and bands like Agnostic Front and Sick of it All were carving out a new style of music called “Crossover”. It was a combo of punk and metal. I fell in love! The aggression and angst were all accompanied with a message. A message I could relate to.

Then I heard straight-edge music and I was hooked (on the music, and drugs). Here was music that was even tighter, the hooks were more rhythmic and it professed ethics I just knew deep down were right. Bands such as Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today and Uniform Choice not only changed my life, they saved my life. By the age of 18, my mom had remarried. While I had an affinity for straight-edge and the drug-free lifestyle, I refused to go to school or do much of anything – besides play drums for my band “Defiance of Authority” and play hacky sack with my friends. My mother’s answer to my behavior was to move away to the Pacific Northwest with husband number 3. At that time, we lived in the mountains of Woodland Park, Colorado. I came home from spending the night at a friend’s house to find nothing but furniture marks on the floor. I did not see my mother again for 7 years.

At 18 years old without an education or job, I went back to Iowa to stay with my father. In Iowa I learned to work and work hard. Not only because my father does not tolerate laziness but also because socially, in Iowa, if you are not a hard worker than you are looked down upon. To excel at your work in the Midwest is part of the fabric of your everyday life.

By this time it was well into the 90’s and two polar extremes were very apparent in my life. On one hand the straight-edge scene was huge. A new sound had hit and hit hard. Bands like Earth Crisis, Strife, and Snapcase were leading the way and it was an amazing time to wear an ‘X’ on your hand. Back then, straight-edge was more than just a “personal choice”. It was seriously attempting to stand against drug culture. On the other hand, I had recently met and started getting to know my brother, Trapper. He was hooked on meth. I had never had a brother before and I loved him with all my heart. I loved him blindly. He would steal from me and I would ignore it. He would lie straight into my face and I would excuse it. My brother was always a master and genius at sensing a person’s emotional vulnerability and using it to his maximum advantage. Along with Trapper, nearly everyone I had known from Elementary School was either hooked on meth, dealing it, or both. I was fed up. At this point in my life I had been through so much because of other people’s (and my own) drug use that I took drastic measures and attacked the source of all this insanity. The dealers themselves. As most know, I attacked with fire the biggest meth dealer in my town.

The four years I spent in prison was without any support from the straight-edge scene or anyone else. For purposes on self-preservation, most people that truly did know me distanced themselves, as expected, not wanting to become a target of persecution as well. I worked in the prison laundry room for $1.10 a day. That was the extent of my funds. I was also vegan at that time and had been for year before my arrest. Luckily the prison system was just beginning to offer a vegan diet albeit reluctantly. I got X’s and V’s tattooed on my hands while incarcerated to pledge myself to the drug free lifestyle forever. As a prisoner, they can take everything from you except what’s in your heart and your tattoos.

When I got out of prison I found that the 90’s were over. The edge kids from the 90’s that I knew had given it up. Everybody was ‘really concerned’ about me and ‘just about to write a letter’. Suffice it to say, I was pissed off. I distanced myself from the people and the music. For years I was bitter. To me, straight-edge was very personal, life-changing and serious. Fighting against drug dealers had landed me in prison with a permanent felony record, not to mention more than one fist fight.

As the years went by, veganism and animal liberation became the focus of my life. I tried reconnecting with the younger generation of straight-edge and teach them the importance of veganism and standing up against drug culture. But with most, apathy is king. Apparently, the bulk of the straight-edge scene is about collecting records and keeping it to yourself. That and politics, politics, politics. Instead of the primary focus being on animal liberation or drug-free living, it seems that half of straight-edge is about being a Christian, Right-wing American Patriot that resemble a bunch of clean-cut cops with tattoos. Bullying people at hardcore shows and staying dedicated to the “boys only” mentality. While the other half are wanna-be Beatnik, Bohemian anarchists that go ten steps out of their way to be offended about everything, but won’t do anything except philosophize and try to squeeze the words “patriarchal” and “heteronormative” into as many conversations as possible.

I would prefer to not be so divisive as to demand that everyone adhere to my checklist of political views and believe me, I have them. But idealism and reality are not always going to meet. For instance, I have already met people in county jail whose company I enjoy. People that make me laugh. People with dynamic personalities. I am not going to deny their camaraderie just because we differ. Just like how most vegans or straight-edge people are not going to disown their parents for drinking milk or smoking cigarettes.

Presently, I am facing the trials of my life, quite literally. This time I am happy to say that many people from around the world write me often, which brings more joy to my heart than I can express. It’s awesome to know that I am not alone. But once again, I feel nothing but scrutiny and unresponsiveness from the straight-edge community. However, this time I am not in the mood. I will live my life drug-free for the rest of my life and will not ‘break edge’ as they say. But I am through with “the scene” because it has become a fashion show and politically pretentious joke. My people, my family, my sphere of concern outside of our Mother Earth and her Animal Nations is primarily for those that are moved by animal liberation and biocentrism. I have sacrificed my freedom every bit as much for the straight-edge as I have for animal rights. Outside of the best band on the planet (Earth Crisis) making a video about me (which isn’t a community supporting me, but the vanguards of it) I have received nothing but bullshit from straight-edge people, then and now.

I regret fighting so hard for a group of posers and pretentious gossip hounds, my trust isn’t free anymore. I will always have respect for those within straight-edge that use it as a foundation for militant and positive change. The rest of you mean nothing to me.

P.S. My father has been a recovering alcoholic and sober for a decade now and my mom lives in the Alaskan wilderness and is as feral and free as she ever was.

——————————————————————————

Write Bond letters of prisoner support at:

Walter Bond  # P01051760
PO Box 16700
Golden, CO 80402-6700

Walter Bond is facing federal arson charges for his alleged role as an ALF operative known as “Lone Wolf”. “Lone Wolf” took credit for three different arsons throughout the Spring and Summer of 2010 in Denver and Salt Lake City: The Skeepskin Factory, a store selling furs and pelts; Tandy Leather Store; and Tiburon, a restaurant serving foie gras.

Walter’s brother alerted the FBI and the ATF about his suspicions that his brother, Walter, was behind the attacks. While Walter was visiting Denver in July 2010, his brother helped participate in a sting operation, allegedly wearing a wire and helping procure audio evidence against Walter. Walter was arrested in Denver and is now being held in the Jefferson County Jail in Golden, Colorado awaiting trial.

Walter has been a dedicated animal rights activist and anarchist for several decades and has struggled for animal liberation and against a deadly and genocidal culture of drug abuse in the United States. Walter was the subject of a song by the vegan straight edge band Earth Crisis. The band’s song “To Ashes” was inspired by Bond’s 1998 prison sentence for arson. Bond was convicted of burning down a meth lab owned by a drug dealer who was selling to his brother.



Contact: (818) 227-5022
Animal Liberation Press Office
6320 Canoga Avenue #1500
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

www.animalliberationpressoffice.org
press@animalliberationpressoffice.org

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If Pigs Could Speak

Posted in animal rights, holocaust, speciesism, veganism with tags , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by carmen4thepets

by Andrew Kirschner

I am a pig.

I am a happy and affectionate animal by nature.

I like to play in the grass and nurture my young.

In the wild, I eat leaves, roots, grass, flowers, and fruits.

I have a terrific sense of smell and I am highly intelligent.

I am a pig.

I can learn tasks as quickly as chimpanzees and faster than dogs.

I wallow in mud to cool down

but I am a very clean animal

and don’t excrete anywhere near where I live.

I speak my own language that you cannot understand.

I am often loved as a house mate.

I like being in groups and live a long natural life in the wild or a safe home.

I enjoy interacting with people and I am very gentle.

I wish I could do and be all of those things

but I was born on a factory farm like billions of other pigs

and so I experience none of them.

I am a pig.

If I could speak

I would tell you that I spend my life

in a crowded and filthy warehouse

in a tiny metal crate.

The owners call it a farm so you won’t feel bad for me.

It’s not a farm.

My life is miserable from the day I’m born until the day I die.

In many cases, I live my entire life in a gestation crate

where I can’t even turn around.

I try to escape but can’t.

I suffer severe emotional and physical ailments

as a result of my confinement.

I have bruises all over my head and face

from trying to get out of my cage.

I bang my head against the bars.

It is analogous to living in a coffin.

I am a pig.

If I could speak I would tell you that

I don’t ever feel the warmth of another pig.

I only feel the cold metal bars of my cage

and the feces that I am forced to sleep in.

I don’t see daylight until a trucker drives me to a slaughterhouse.

I am a pig.

I am beaten often by ruthless factory farmers

who take pleasure in hearing me squeal.

I am constantly impregnated

and do not have any interaction with my piglets.

My feet are tied together so I am forced to stand all day.

When I was born, I was separated from my mother.

In the wild, I would have stayed with her for five months.

Now I am forced to have 25 piglets a year through artificial insemination

as opposed to six per year I would have in the wild.

Overcrowding and the smell of being covered in raw sewage

causes many of us to go insane

and bite each other through our cages.

Sometimes we kill each other.

It’s not our nature.

My home smells of ammonia.

I sleep on concrete.

I am tied up so I can’t even roll over.

My food is loaded with fat and antibiotics

so my owners can make more money off my size.

I am never able to forage for food as I do by instinct in the wild.

I am a pig.

I am bored and have nothing to do

so I bite my tail and the tails of others

so the factory farmers cut off our tails

without any pain killers.

It is excruciating and causes infection.

When it is time for us to be killed,

We are supposed to be stunned to death with a bolt gun

until we can’t feel pain

but often the gun is not properly charged or the stunner misses,

or we’re too big and strong for it

and it fails to work properly.

Sometimes we go through the slaughter process

sticking, skinning, dismembering, and eviscerating — alive, conscious, and kicking.

I would show you pictures

but they’re too graphic.

I am a pig.

If I could speak

I would tell you we suffer horribly.

Our death is slow and violent torture.

It can last as long as 20 minutes.

If you saw it happen,

you would probably never eat an animal like me

ever again.

That’s why what happens inside factory farms

is the best kept secret

in the world.

I am a pig.

You can dismiss me as a worthless animal.

Call me filthy even though I am clean by nature.

Say I don’t matter because I taste good to eat.

Be indifferent to my suffering.

But now you know,

I feel pain, sadness, and fear.

I suffer.

Watch videos of me squealing on the slaughter line.

See factory farmers beat me for the sake of it.

Even though I will be killed

and deprived of a humane and natural life

You now know it is wrong

and if you continue eating animals like me

when you don’t need to eat them to survive

it will be on your conscience

and you bare responsibility for the cruelty

because you’re funding it by purchasing meat

99% of which comes from factory farms

unless…

you make a decision

to live a cruelty-free life

and go vegan.

It’s much easier than you think

and it is a very fulfilling lifestyle —

healthier for you,

better for the environment,

and most of all,

does not contribute to the abuse of animals.

Please give it some thought.

 

I am no more meant to be eaten by you

than you are meant to be eaten by me.

The idea of eating me is a human creation for profit

not a divine one

or one born of necessity but rather choice.

If you could choose not to abuse an animal, would you?

If the choice of ending animal cruelty

meant making some simple changes in your life,

would you make them?

Forget about cultural norms.

Do what you know is right.

Align your compassionate heart and mind

with your actions.

 

Please stop eating pork, ham, bacon, sausage

and buying other products made from pig body parts such as leather.

I am a pig.

I’m begging you to develop the same respect for me

that you have for your dog or cat.

During the time it took you to read this message,

approximately 26,000 pigs were brutally slaughtered on factory farms.

Simply because you didn’t see it happen

doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

It did.

I am a pig.

I had only one life on this earth.

It’s too late for me

but it is not too late for you to make a change

like millions of other people

and save other animals from the life I lived.

I hope animals’ lives will begin to mean more to you now —

now that you know.

I was a pig.


 

Do You Judge Meat Eaters?

Posted in animal liberation, holocaust, speciesism, veganism with tags , , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by carmen4thepets

By Eccentric Vegan on November 6th, 2010

Q: Can you ever be OK with people who eat meat? Don’t you judge them and look down on them?

A: I can be friends with omnis. The key is to make our friendship focused on nonfood activities. We simply find shared interests in other things (hiking, dogs, shopping, whatever). It’s also helpful to refrain – in general – from discussions about eating animals between defensive omnis and ethical vegans.

That said, meat is simply unjustifiable. I will never “be OK” with the behavior of eating animals. While I can “be OK” with individual people who eat animals (just like I can “be OK” with smokers or people who do other things that I do not condone), eating animals is not OK.

Eating animals is destroying the planet, contributing to major human health threats, and perpetuating extreme cruelty to animals. It’s not OK to eat animals.

Diet for a Yogi Planet. ~ Ramesh Bjonnes

Posted in health, veganism on October 6, 2010 by carmen4thepets

Diet for a Yogi Planet. ~ Ramesh Bjonnes

“Ask any number of yogis to describe their diets and you’ll likely get responses as varied as the styles they practice. Many traditionalists see yoga as being inextricably linked with the meatless path, citing numerous ancient Indian texts to prove their conviction. Others put less stock in centuries-old warnings like “the slaughter of animals obstructs the way to heaven” (from the Dharma Sutras) than in what their bodies have to say. If eating flesh begets health and energy, they argue, it must be the right choice for them–and their yoga.” –Jennifer Barret, in Yoga Journal

It might be true that the yogi diet today is as varied as the yoga styles we practice, but not so in the past. The yogis of old were consistently, if not vegan, at least vegetarian. Just consider this quote from the Bhagavad Gita:

“One is dearest to God who has no enemies among the living beings, who is nonviolent to all creatures.”

Most yoga practice today is still very body-oriented, whereas traditional yoga was body-mind-spirit-focused. The goal was mainly spiritual enlightenment, not only relaxation and a great looking physique. Asanas, vegetarian diet, pranayama, and meditation were traditionally practiced in unison for spiritual reasons, secondarily for physical health and wellbeing.

And even though many yogis today claim otherwise, asanas were traditionally practiced as a preparation for meditation, even in traditional hatha yoga.

In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, its author, Svatmarama, invokes the names of many of the sages who came before him. His list of names leads us to conclude that the yoga described by Svatmarama is at least contemporary with that of Patanjali (200 BCE), whose influential Yoga Sutras were in turn a codification of theory and practice that had existed in India for several millennia.

In other words, I do not concur with those who claim that hatha yoga developed as some offshoot of yogic spirituality in the Middle Ages. Hatha yoga, just like Patanjali’s teachings, had been in existence in India for thousands of years, from the beginning of yoga’s long and illustrious history.

Why do I believe this? Carefully read, we see how Svatmarama’s treatise incorporated ideas from the much earlier Yoga Sutras, the Yoga Upanisads, the Puranas, the Bhagavad Gita and other much older scriptures.

Hence, rather than being a book about the cult of the body, the hatha yoga pradipika leads the practitioner from the culture of the body towards the culture of the soul. Indeed the hatha yogis themselves proclaimed that “without raja yoga, hatha yoga is useless.”

In India it is the ancient Shiva and not Patanjali, nor the hatha yogis, who is considered the King of Yoga. Indeed the first Sloka (verse) of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika reads: “Reverence to Shiva, the Lord of Yoga, who taught Parvati hatha wisdom as the first step to the pinnacle of raja yoga” (Patanjali yoga). And at the end, we are reminded that “all hatha practices serve only for the attainment of raja yoga”. (4:103).

No surprise then that the yogic canon, the Bhagavad Gita, is pretty straightforward about what yogis should eat. It teaches us that sattvic foods, such as fruit, vegetables, grains and milk products, are good for body, mind and spirit and “promote vitality, health, pleasure, strength, and long life.” Meat, fish, and alcohol, or tamasik foods, on the other hand, cause “pain, disease and discomfort.”

Some scholars, however, point to the early Vedic peoples and their culture’s lust for animal sacrifices—therefore, they argue, not all yogis were vegetarians.

Other scholars, including yours truly, will point out that yogic culture had very little in common with the early Vedic peoples, anyway.

The nomadic Vedic people were hunters and herders who brought their sacrificial practices with them from outside India. When they arrived, which geneticists such as Dr. Spencer Wells now believe was as early as 5000 years before Christ, the Indians already practiced yoga, grew rice and dwelled in urban cities, such as Mehrgarh (7000 BCE), now believed to be one of the oldest cities in the world.

How do we know this? Archeological evidence points to an early form of yoga and meditation practice that existed as early as 4-5000 BCE, a time when some believe Shiva, the King of Yoga, lived in the Himalayas in the summer and in Kashi (Varanasi) in the winter.

In other words, since the early yogic tradition had developed independently of the Vedic tradition, it had advanced its own peculiar sensibilities, including an aversion for meat and a penchant for steamy dishes of rice, chapatti, samosa, and lentils. India was, after all, the rice and vegetable basket of the world during that time. (Consequently, India also had the majority of the world’s population, estimated at being only about 5 million people.)

Indeed, according to the Puranas, Shiva, the Royal Teacher of yoga himself, instructed even the common people to reduce their intake of meat and wine, what to speak of the cave-dwelling, navel-and breath-watching yogis.

Hence, it is safe to assume that, for several millennia, the ancient yogis and tantrics lived, for the most part, outside of the Vedic Brahmin priest culture, and that they were taught to abhor animal slaughter. Over time, as some Brahmin priests adopted yogic ways, they also became vegetarians.

We do know that Patanjali, the great yogi-scholar, emphasized in his system of Ashtanga Yoga that ahimsa, the practice of non-harming and nonviolence, is a necessary step toward higher wisdom and Enlightenment.

In other words, vegetarianism is an important tenet of yoga, because of its ethical foundation, not just because it was beneficial for the practice of yoga. It is unlikely, however, that Patanjali invented yogic vegetarianism anymore than he invented yoga. Both practices had already coexisted for several millennia.

“As long as we are living in physical bodies we will continue to cause some harm to others on this planet. So the practice of Ahimsa becomes one of trying to cause the least amount of harm. Everyone knows that eating a vegetarian diet uses up the least amount of natural resources and so causes the least amount of harm to the whole planet.

As you get better at Ahimsa, you get closer to the realization of your True being as that which is Peaceful and free of debilitating internal conflicts. Many people have difficulty with accepting a vegetarian lifestyle as intrinsic to the practice of yoga asana. Perhaps we can clarify that by examining the Sanskrit word “asana”. It means “seat.” Seat means connection to the Earth. Earth means all things: animals, plants, minerals, all existence. To practice asana really means to practice your relationship to Earth and all of her manifestations.”

–Jivamukti Yoga co-founder Sharon Gannon, from Yoga and Vegetarianism

In other words, if we intently listen with our whole being while in the midst of our yogic asanas, we realize we are connected to the whole earth and her beings, and thus we will naturally choose to cause the least harm. We will naturally choose to become vegetarians or vegans.

My own experience? I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons first. About a year before I encountered yoga, I walked through a large, modern slaughterhouse. When I realized I had been eating live beings treated in such a cruel way, I decided to discontinue stuffing my body with hormone-induced, artificially colored, dead flesh.

After that, Patanjali had an easy way of convincing me that ahimsa makes total yogic sense.

“The single most important part of your yoga practice is the strict adherence to a vegetarian diet, a diet free of needless cruelty, harm and injustice. Ahimsa is not an optional part of the program, it is the first step.”

– Jivamukti Yoga co-founder Sharon Gannon, from Yoga and Vegetarianism

What kind of diet will people ideally have on your Yogi Planet?

One Hundred Animals In A Bun

Posted in veganism on August 26, 2010 by carmen4thepets

The latest issue of Time magazine has a cute Pug on the cover. Underneath the headline reads: “What animals think. New science reveals they’re smarter than we realize.” It’s an interesting piece that raises some important questions about how we treat animals as a society. Among the new discoveries we’re making is scientific evidence that animals are conscious, meaning they are aware that they are alive. They experience life. They feel fear, pain, joy and love — maybe not exactly as we do — but the point is, they are not merely automatons that react to stimuli, they are individuals with their own unique personalities, characteristics, and quirks.

Now, for those of us who live with dogs or cats, this comes as no surprise. But what about the animals we eat? Does it change our perception to think of them — the cows, the turkeys, the pigs, the chickens – not just as dinner, but as individuals, billions of individuals that are slaughtered each year?

When I became vegan a few years ago, I learned some pretty startling things about how the animals we eat become food. One of the nastiest things I became privy to is how hamburger is made. I think most of us have the perception that when we bite into a burger, it’s just the meat from one cow, but the truth is, it’s actually meat from hundreds of cows. That’s right, there may be pieces of 100-400 (sources differ) cows stuffed in one hamburger. When cows are “processed” the less desirable cuts and scraps of meat are all thrown together into a texturizer, fat is added (up to 30% of hamburger is fat) and voila! Still lovin’ it?

Now, if you go to the USDA’s website on how to properly handle ground beef, you’ll literally feel like you’re reading a report from a CDC investigation. Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella are just a handful of the pathogens that can live in hamburger. And just so we’re clear, infected meat from just one cow can contaminate up to 16 tons of beef!

But aside from the health issue, I just find something creepy about eating 100 animals at once — 100 individuals at once. Imagine someone taking 100 dogs or cats and mushing them all together to make a burger for you. I wonder how many turkeys are in a turkey burger, or how many pieces of different animals are in, dare I even imagine it, a hot dog.

I know this stuff may actually taste good to some of us, but where, might I ask, do we draw the line? And why do we accept these Frankenfoods as American trademarks? I don’t know about you, but I don’t find any particular pride in hamburgers. Seriously, it’s time to update this traditional American staple, peeps.

A local restaurant in Los Angeles, Hugo’s, has an item on their menu called “The New American Burger,” here is how they describe it:

An outstanding combination of organic sprouted mung beans, organic brown rice, assorted fresh vegetables, mushrooms, pumpkin & sunflower seeds, herbs and spices fried crispy. Served with onion, lettuce, tomato, Vegenaise and your choice of any burger toppings. This burger is “new”, because it is more nutritious than meat and is a positive use of our agricultural resources. And most importantly, it’s delicious.

Go ahead, read those last two sentences again. I’d like to add that Hugo’s is not a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. They serve meat, but they acknowledge the benefits of reinventing the American classic.

I realize that a majority of Americans, at this time, are not willing to give up their meat. But I’d like to humbly request that we at least think about the animals we eat as the individuals they are. That may become slightly overwhelming when eating a hamburger.

source:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ari-solomon/one-hundred-animals-in-a_b_681844.html

Frequently Asked Questions About Veganism

Posted in veganism with tags , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by carmen4thepets

About Animals, Health and Nutrition, Ethics and Religion, and Going Vegan

Animals

Why should we care about animals?

Most people believe that unnecessary suffering is bad. Other animals — particularly vertebrates — suffer physical pain and even emotional stress in much the same way humans do. Because of this, we should take animals’ suffering seriously. Because animal products are not a necessary part of our diet, becoming vegan is one of the most effective ways to reduce animals’ suffering.

For more, see Beyond Might Makes Right and Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.

Why should people sacrifice convenience, cravings, and cost for the sake of an animal?

We claim to be moral beings who do not act merely to satisfy hedonistic impulses. We would not want to live in a society where people were free to satisfy all their cravings freely, where the strongest could cause suffering for the weaker if they wanted to do so. Likewise, how can we justify satisfying all our cravings for animal products, when animals must suffer in order to provide them?

Happily, there is nothing inherently less satisfying or more expensive in a vegan diet. Beans and rice are less expensive than beef or pork; heating up a Boca Burger is less expensive than buying a Big Mac; and most people find vegan food to be as tasty as non-vegan food. Even if this were not the case, most vegans don’t consume animals or animal products because they do not want to be the cause of needless suffering, regardless of the convenience, taste, or cost. Living an ethically consistent life is more important.

Won’t the animals just die anyway? And if we don’t eat the animals, won’t they overrun the world?

We don’t just happen to kill and eat animals to save them from dying a natural death. We breed more than 9 billion farm animals in the U.S. each year because of the consumer demand for animal products. If we stop buying animal products, animal industries will have no incentive to keep breeding these animals.

Why should I concern myself with non-human animal suffering when there are so many people suffering in the world?

We each have limited time, energy, and money to offer. The causes and cures of human suffering are complex, often distant, and difficult to address, especially by an individual. The causes and cures of animal suffering are often simpler and all around us. Making the choice to adopt a vegan diet can have a far-reaching effect on reducing suffering in the world.

Peter Singer writes in Animal Liberation:

Among the factors that make it difficult to arouse public concern about animals, perhaps the hardest to overcome is the assumption that “human beings come first” and that any problem about animals cannot be comparable, as a serious moral or political issue, to the problems about humans. A number of things can be said about this assumption. First, it is in itself an indication of speciesism. How can anyone who has not made a thorough study of the topic possibly know that the problem is less serious than problems of human suffering? One can claim to know this only if on assumes that animals really do not matter, and that however much they suffer, their suffering is less important than the suffering of humans. But pain is pain, and the importance of preventing unnecessary pain and suffering does not diminish because the being that suffers is not a member of our species. What would we think of someone who said that “whites come first” and that therefore poverty in Africa does not pose as serious a problem as poverty in Europe?

It is true that many problems in the world deserve our time and energy. Famine and poverty …all are major issues, and who can say which is the most important? yet once we put aside speciesist biases, we can see that the oppression of nonhumans by humans ranks somewhere along with these issues. The suffering that we inflict on nonhuman beings can be extreme, and the numbers involved are gigantic … [and] should cause at least as much concern, especially since this suffering is so unnecessary and could easily be stopped if we wanted to stop it. Most reasonable people want to prevent war, racial inequality, poverty, and unemployment; the problem is that we have been trying to prevent these things for years, and now we have to admit that, for the most part, we don’t really know how to do it. By comparison, the reduction of the suffering of nonhuman animals at the hands of humans will be relatively easy, once human beings set themselves to do it.

In any case, the idea that “humans come first” is more often used as an excuse for not doing anything about either human or nonhuman animals than as a genuine choice between incompatible alternatives. For the truth is that there is no incompatibility here … there is nothing to stop those who devote their time an energy to human problems from joining the boycott of the products of agribusiness cruelty. It takes no more time to be a vegetarian than to eat animal flesh. In fact … those who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone. They would thereby increase the amount of grain available to feed people everywhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, and cease contributing to the clearing of forests; moreover, since a vegetarian diet is cheaper than one based on meat dishes, they would have more money available to devote to famine relief, population control, or whatever social or political cause they thought most urgent. … [W]hen nonvegetarians say that “human problems come first,” I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals.” Nobel Laureate, Romain Rolland wrote in Jean Christophe: To one whose mind is free, there is something even more intolerable in the suffering of animals than in the sufferings of humans. For with the latter, it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the person who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any person were to refer to it, they would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime. That alone is the justification of all that humans may suffer. It cries vengeance upon all the human race. If God exists and tolerates it, it cries vengeance upon God.

What about free range?

A growing number of people are looking to “free-range” products as an alternative to factory farmed animal products. Eggs (and poultry) may be labeled as “free-range” if they have USDA-certified access to the outdoors. No other criteria, such as environmental quality, size of the outside area, number of birds, or space per bird, are included in this term. Typically, free-range hens are debeaked at the hatchery, have only 1 to 2 square feet of floor space per bird, and — if the hens can go outside — must compete with many other hens for access to a small exit from the shed, leading to a muddy strip saturated with droppings. Although chickens can live up to 12 years, free-range hens are hauled to slaughter the same as battery-caged hens, after a year or two. Free-range male chicks are trashed at birth, just as they are in factory farms. Although free-range conditions may be an improvement over factory-farm conditions, they are by no means free of cruelty.

The Associated Press reported on March 11, 1998:

Free-range chickens conjure up in some consumers minds pictures of contented fowl strolling around the barnyard, but the truth is, all a chicken grower needs to do is give the birds some access to the outdoorswhether the chickens decide to take a gambol or stay inside with hundreds or thousands of other birds, under government rules growers are free to label them free-range.

As all free-range animals are still viewed as objects to be killed for food, they are subject to abusive handling, transport, and slaughter. Free-range animals, like all animals used for their milk and eggs, are still slaughtered at a fraction of their normal life expectancy.

For more information, visit United Poultry Concerns

Do you think it is wrong to keep an animal for a pet?

In terms of reducing suffering, there is nothing inherently wrong in living with another animal. In terms of the specifics, it depends. If you were to take an animal from a shelter, you would be giving that individual a happy home and a good life (assuming you would be good to them). If you were to get an animal from a pet store, you would be supporting and expanding the breeding of animals for pets — which would, most likely, increase the overall suffering in the world.

Vegan Outreach does not take a position on whether dogs and, especially, cats should be vegan. People who have tried vegan diets with their pets have provided us with information indicating that, if appropriately planned, many (and possibly most) dogs and cats may do well on a vegan diet — but some cats do not.

What about animal experimentation?

Two Vegan Outreach philosophy pieces touch on this: Beyond and Theory. You are not required to be anti-vivsection to stop eating meat. Regardless of one’s views on this or any other issue, you can reduce the amount of suffering in the world by ceasing to eat meat.

Health and Nutrition

Is a vegan diet healthy?

As with any diet, a vegan diet requires planning. However, when properly planned, a vegan diet can be considerably healthier than a traditional American diet. In its 1996 position paper on vegetarian diets, the American Dietetic Association reported that vegan and vegetarian diets can significantly reduce one’s risk of contracting heart disease, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and a number of other debilitating conditions.

Cows’ milk contains ideal amounts of fat and protein for young calves, but far too much for humans. And eggs are higher in cholesterol than any other food, making them a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease.

Vegan foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans, are low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are rich in fiber and nutrients. Vegans can get all the protein they need from legumes (e.g., beans, tofu, peanuts) and grains (e.g., rice, corn, whole wheat breads and pastas); calcium from broccoli, kale, collard greens, tofu, fortified juices and soymilks; iron from chickpeas, spinach, pinto beans, and soy products; and B12 from fortified foods or supplements. With planning, a vegan diet can provide all the nutrients we were taught as schoolchildren came only from animal products.

For more information, see our Health section; specifically, Staying a Healthy Vegan

Ethics and Religion

Why is it wrong to eat meat?

It’s not a question of being “right” or “wrong.” If one wants fewer animals to suffer and die, then one can stop supporting such practices by not eating animal products.

Does religion play a role in the vegan community?

Some vegans find that their religious views support their ethical commitment. For other vegans, religion has nothing to do with their commitment.

For more, visit the Biospirituality site and the Christian Vegetarian Association

Doesn’t the Bible say we should eat meat?

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are required to eat animals. Just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid something doesn’t make it right. For example:

When your brother is reduced to poverty and sells himself to you, you shall not use him to work for you as a slave…. Such slaves as you have, male or female, shall come from the nations round about you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy the children of those who have settled and lodge with you and such of their family as are born in the land. These may become your property, and you may leave them to your sons after you; you may use them as slaves permanently.

Leviticus 25: 39-46

There are many different interpretations of the Bible. Among them is the view that Eden was the state-of-being that God desired for humanity, and in this state, Adam and Eve ate no animal products.

There are plenty of devout Christians and Jews who are vegetarian and vegan, and most theologians would agree that a benevolent God is not going to condemn someone for being compassionate to animals.

For a collection of religious perspectives, visit The Christian Vegetarian Association and Religion and Vegetarianism

Going Vegan

Isn’t it hard to go vegan?

It can be, especially if you hold yourself to too high a standard. But the important thing is to make changes you feel comfortable with, at your own pace. While reducing your consumption of animal products completely may be ideal, any reduction is a step in the right direction. The vegan lifestyle is an ongoing progression. Everyone should go at their own pace and remember that all steps towards veganism are positive. It is most important to focus on avoiding the products for which animals are bred and slaughtered. Animal by-products will exist as long as there is a demand for primary meat and dairy products. When it comes to avoiding items that contain small amounts of by-products, vegans must decide for themselves where to draw the line. Some vegans will adjust their level of abstinence according to the circumstances. For example, as a consumer, you might make sure the bread you buy is not made with whey; but as a dinner guest, you may accept bread without asking to see the ingredients. These types of compromises can actually hasten the spread of veganism, in that they help counter the attitude that it’s very hard to be vegan.

Isn’t being vegan expensive?

There is nothing inherently more expensive about a vegan diet. If a person wants to replicate his/her previous diet with animal analogous, then yes, it can be more expensive to buy veggie burgers, prepared seitan, veganrella, Rice Dream Supreme, etc. But pasta, beans, potatoes, breads, fruits and vegetables are all generally less expensive than the animal products of similar nutritional value.

What about organic?

Although ‘organic’ foods may be preferred for many of the same reasons that vegan foods are (animal welfare, environmental quality, and health), a food is usually considered vegan regardless of whether or not it is organic.

What about honey and silk?

Again, it depends on one’s definition of vegan. Insects are animals, and so insect products, such as honey and silk, are often not considered vegan. Many vegans, however, are not opposed to using insect products, because they do not believe insects are conscious of pain. Moreover, even if insects were conscious of pain, it’s not clear that the production of honey involves any more pain for insects than the production of most vegetables or other sweeteners, since the harvesting and transportation of all crops involves insect deaths. The question remains a matter of scientific debate and personal choice. When cooking or labeling food for vegans — particularly vegans you don’t know — it’s best to be on the safe side and not include honey. As for vegan advocacy, we think it’s best to avoid the issue as a defining one.

Vegan Advocacy & Activism

How can I get involved in vegan advocacy?

99% of the animals killed in the U.S. are farm animals. Each year more than 9 billion animals are raised in factory farms and killed for food in this country. While animal agriculture is certainly not the only form of animal abuse, it is by far the largest. If 5% of Americans were to stop eating animals, far more suffering would be prevented than if we completely abolished every other form of animal exploitation in the U.S. As Gary Francione of the Rutgers Animal Law Clinic has said, “If you can help ten people to go vegetarian in a year, you have done more good than most animal rights organizations.” Moreover, promoting veganism has the additional benefits of reducing human disease and environmental problems.

For more, see Chart depicting number of animals slaughtered for human use

How can I start a group at my college / in my area?

Perhaps the best advice I can offer about starting a group is to give personal examples. When I took over Students for Animal Rights at the University of Illinois (an established group), I did the general advertising — posters around campus, having a table at the activities fair with a sign-up-sheet, calling people who had left their names, etc. I prepared a speech for the first meeting, which was to a packed room. By the third meeting, none of the new people still attended.

Ultimately, how we built a group was through activities on campus. We met people while tabling, while leafletting, at protests, and at Ingrid Newkirk’s talks. What I draw from this is to not worry about organizational aspects, and rather do things — specifically, leaflet and table.

There are some advantages to being a recognized group. At the college level, you might be able to get funding (which can help bring in a speaker and print copies of Why Vegan), and at a higher level, tax-exempt status can be useful after a certain point. But some groups spend an often inordinate amount of time on bureaucratic, fundraising, and membership-building activities.

To a large extent, this parallels our experience with Vegan Outreach. We spent our time scrounging for money to print copies of Why Vegan (which, at the time, we collated, stapled, and folded ourselves), and Jack traveled around the country leafletting. In his travels, he met many interested people. From these meetings grew the network of activists and donors who now comprise Vegan Outreach and help to distribute hundreds of thousands to Why Vegans every year.

So the short answer is, in my opinion, the best way to start a group is to do things — leaflet, table, display Why Vegans at many places (our booklet holder has a space for writing in a “local contact,” etc. The rest can follow from this.

We Are Not Lions

Posted in veganism with tags , , on February 24, 2010 by carmen4thepets

In an attempt to defend meat-eating, there are those who say it’s perfectly natural for us to kill and consume other animals, and since we’re at the top of the food chain, everything and anything (or anyone) is on the menu.

These people often cite lions, tigers and bears (oh my) to back up their beliefs that humans are supposed to eat flesh, because other animals eat flesh. I can see where they’re coming from because I thought the very same thing when I was very young.

“Bears are omnivores and so are we,” I once told my then vegetarian sister. “Get the bears to stop eating meat and I’ll stop eating meat.” I thought I was so clever!

Lions kill antelopes, wolves kill deer and bears kill fish. They’re animals and we’re animals. So what’s the big deal? What’s the difference?

The difference is we are not lions, wolves or bears. We’re human beings: a different kind of animal; a MORAL animal. Lions and other carnivores don’t have morals, nor do they have a choice. If they don’t kill other animals they’ll die. They can’t survive on fruits, grains and vegetables. It’s the same for omnivores. But we can. We have other options.

Maybe once, a long time ago, we had to eat animals to survive (humans also ate other humans NOT so long ago) but we’ve learned so much since then. Today we work with lasers, communicate instantly with people on the other side of the planet and send robots to other planets. We’re in the 21st century now, not the Stone Age. We don’t need to eat animals anymore.

Some readers might say: “Yes, but we’re omnivores too!” Are we? I’m not so sure. Our physiology seems to indicate we are not, and the health implications (not to mention the environmental consequences) of consuming animal products suggest it would be wiser for all of us if we gave up meat.

And just because we can do something, like eating someone else’s flesh, doesn’t mean we should. Our bodies can also handle cocaine, heroine and crystal meth in moderate amounts, but I don’t know anyone promoting widespread psychoactive drug use.

So meat advocates can use predators to try and make their meat-eating arguments if they like but I’m more inspired by the gorillas, elephants and rhinoceroses. These amazing animals are just as strong as lions (if not stronger) and they’re all vegans. They manage to survive without killing and eating the bodies of other animals and they do just fine.

But I don’t object to predatory animals killing other animals (even though I feel bad for the victims) because, as I wrote earlier, they have no choice; it’s either do or die. Humans on the other hand do have a choice. And that’s what it all comes down to: a moral choice.

We know that killing, unless absolutely necessary, is wrong. We also know that causing unnecessary suffering to others is cruel. That’s why we have laws. If we didn’t, society couldn’t function. So we’re taught from an early age about right and wrong, do unto others, and so on for the betterment of society and the good of its members.

We’re praised when we perform acts of kindness and punished when we commit acts of violence. We’re also encouraged to work together to strengthen our communities, protect the weak and vulnerable, and help the sick and elderly. We don’t live by the law of the jungle because we don’t live in the jungle.

We can’t be part of a moral community, and reap the benefits of that community on one hand, and then justify killing and eating animals “because other animals do it.” There are no rules in nature; it’s survival of the fittest. But WE don’t live like that. If we did, there would be no law enforcement agencies, no hospitals, no charitable organizations, no social services, no mercy and no compassion.

If you want to reject civilized society and all its rules, living “red in claw and tooth” and killing what you eat go right ahead. But leave behind all the protections and benefits that come from living in a civilized society, including all those fancy gadgets. Wild animals don’t have cars, kerosene generators or high-powered rifles and neither should you.

Either we live like human beings, and accept all the rights and responsibilities that come with that, or we live like animals. It’s one or the other. We can’t have it both ways.

source:  http://www.vegansoapbox.com/we-are-not-lions/