Archive for veganism

The Big Fat Wicked Lie People Tell About Animals

Posted in animal liberation, animal rights with tags , , , , on January 9, 2011 by carmen4thepets

Excerpt from Animal Rights Human Wrongs ~by Vernon Coleman

 

Vivisectors, hunters, butchers and farmers excuse the cruel way they treat animals by claiming (falsely) that animals don’t have feelings.

This is a lie. A big fat wicked lie, which excuses a thousand cruelties.

 

The truth, as anyone who is capable of reading and observing will know, is that animals are sentient and exhibit many of those qualities which racists like to think of as being the preserve of the human race. (I think it is perfectly fair to describe those who claim that all good’ qualities are the exclusive property of the human species as racist’). One of the absurdities of the argument about hunting which has raged for recent years in Britain has been the sight of apparently intelligent people arguing about whether or not animals, which are hunted, suffer physical pain and/or mental anguish when they are being pursued. How can there possibly be any doubt about this? Those who do express doubt about this are telling us a great deal about their own innate lack of understanding and compassion and their inability to learn from simple observation. If observation is not enough there is more than enough scientific evidence to show that birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and crustaceans all have nervous systems and all suffer pain. Darwin showed that fear produces similar responses in both humans and animals. The eyes and mouth open, the heart beats rapidly, teeth chatter, muscles tremble, hairs stand on end and so on. Parrots, like human beings, turn away and cover their eyes when confronted with a sight, which overwhelms them. Young elephants who have seen their families killed by poachers wake up screaming in the night. Elephants who are suddenly separated from their social group may die suddenly of broken heart syndrome’. Apes may fall down and faint when suddenly coming across a snake. If a man shouts at a dog he will cower and back away in fear.

 

Animals Can Communicate

 

Animal abusers sometimes assume that it is only humans who can communicate with one another. And yet bees can communicate the direction, distance and value of pollen sources quite a distance away. Animal abusers generally dismiss animal noises as simply that (noises) but scientists who have taken the time and trouble to listen carefully to the extraordinary variety of noises made by whales have found that there are patterns of what can only be described as speech which are repeated from one year to another. It is generally assumed that parrots merely repeat words they have heard without understanding what they mean. This is not true. Masson and McCarthy report how when psychologist Irene Pepperberg left her parrot at the vet’s surgery for an operation the parrot, whose name was Alex, called out: Come here. I love you. I’m sorry. I want to go back.’ The parrot clearly thought that he was being punished for some crime he had committed. Another parrot, in New Jersey, US saved the life of its owner by calling for help. Murder! Help! Come quick!’ cried the parrot. When neighbors ran to the scene of the crime they found the parrot’s owner lying on the floor, unconscious, bleeding from a gash in his neck. The doctor who treated the man said that without the parrot’s cries he would have died. The same parrot woke his owner and neighbors when a fire started in the house next door. How arrogant the animal abusers are to assume that human beings are the only species capable of communicating with one another, and of formulating a formal system of language. Vivisectors frequently laugh at the animals they torture and abuse. The concentration camp guards in the Second World War laughed at their victims and called them lice and rats. The vivisectors talk about sending a mouse to college’ when they want to raise funds for experiments. We have the power to do what we will with creatures of other species. But no one has given us the right. Animals feel complex emotions. But the animal abusers claim that because animals do not satisfy our human criteria for intelligence then animals do not deserve any sympathy or understanding. It is but one step from this to arguing that unintelligent humans can be used for experiments. Human beings who have taken the time to do so have found that they have been able to communicate well with chimpanzees and numerous other animals. Primates will often strive to make the peace after a hostile encounter. And uninvolved primates may help begin and cement the reconciliation. And yet vivisectors are given legal licenses allowing them to do horrific things to these animals. Who gave human beings the right to hand out licenses to torture?

 

 

Capable Of Love

 

Animals, like people, are capable of loving their partner, their families, their children, their leaders, their teachers, their friends and others who are important to them. An ape will show exactly the same signs of love and affection when dealing with her baby as a human mother will when dealing with her baby. Both will look longingly, tickle and play with their baby. Both feed their young, wash them, risk their lives for them and put up with their noise and unruly behavior. Anyone who doubts that animals love their young should stand outside a farm yard when a calf has been taken away from a cow and listen to the heart breaking cries of anguish which result. Who knows what inner anguish accompanies those cries from a creature who does not normally vocalize in the same way that other animals do. Even fish will risk their lives to protect their young. In his seminal work The Universal Kinship’ (first published in 1906 and now largely forgotten) J. Howard Moore described how he put his hand into a pond near the nest of a perch. The courageous fish guarding the nest chased Moore’s hand away several times and when Moore’s hand was not removed quickly enough would nip it vigorously several times. Lewis Gompertz, who lived from 1779 to 1861 and was a potent champion of the rights of blacks, women and the poor (and, indeed, all oppressed human beings) was also a powerful champion of animals and was a founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (His credibility is, I feel, dramatically enhanced by the knowledge that quite early on he was forced out of the society). In his book Moral Inquiries On the Situation Of Man And Of Brutes’ Gompertz wrote: From some birds we may learn real constancy in conjugal affection, though in most instances their contracts only last for one season, but how strict do they keep this. They have no laws, no parchments, no parsons, no fear to injuring their characters, not even their own words to break in being untrue to each other: but their virtue is their laws, their parchments, their parsons, and the reputation; their deeds are their acts, their acts – their deeds: and from their own breasts do they honestly tear down to line the beds of their legitimate offspring.’Gompertz described an incident illustrating the wisdom of blackbirds. I observed a male blackbird flying about in an extreme state of agitation,’ he wrote. And on my going to discover the cause of it, the bird retreated from me as I followed it, till it stopped at a nest containing a female bird sitting upon her eggs, near which there was a cat: in consequence of this I removed the cat, and the bird became quiet. After that, whenever the cat was about the place, the blackbird would come near my window, and would in the same manner direct me to some sport where the cat happened to be stationed.’Gompertz also wrote about a male blackbird which had attacked a cat which had caught its female partner and wrote about three true incidents which illustrated animal kindness and wisdom. The first concerned two goats, which had met one another on a narrow path between two precipices. There was no room for the two goats to turn or pass and so one of the goats lay down, allowing the other to walk over it. The second incident involved a horse who had been hurt by a nail when he had been shod. Finding it painful to walk he had gone back to the farrier and shown him his hoof. The third incident involved a sheep dog who jumped into freezing cold water and successfully rescued another dog, which had been floating on a lump of ice. I would now fain ask,’ wrote Gompertz, if all this does not show reason and virtue? ‘J. Howard Moore described how monkeys may adopt the orphans of deceased members of their tribe and how two crows fed a third crow which was wounded. The wound was several weeks old and the two crows had clearly been playing good Samaritans’ for that time. Darwin wrote about a blind pelican, which was fed with fish, which were brought to it by pelican friends who normally lived thirty miles away. Strong males in a herd of vicunas will lag behind to protect the weaker and slower members of their herd from possible predators.

 

 

Powerful Memories

 

Many creatures have memories, which humans might envy. Ants retrace their steps after long journeys and can recognize friends after months of separation. When a limpet has finished roaming it will return to the exact spot on the same rock where it had been settled previously. Birds fly back year after year to the same nesting spots – to within the inch. Fish, too, return to the same stretch of water to hatch their young. Horses used in delivery routes frequently know exactly where and when to stop – and for how long. Squirrels who have buried nuts months before can find them without hesitating. J. Howard Moore reported that an elephant obeyed all his old words of command on being recaptured after fifteen years of freedom in the jungle and a lion recognized its keeper after seven years of separation. A snake, which was carried a hundred miles away from home, managed to find its way back. There is plenty of evidence, too, to show that many creatures other than human beings have powerful imaginations. Spiders will hold down the edges of their webs with stones to steady them during gales, which have not yet started. Does this show an ability to predict the weather or imagination? Cats, dogs, horses, and many other creatures dream. Parrots talk in their sleep. Horses frequently stampede because they are frightened by objects (such as large rocks or posts), which are no threat to them. This must show a sense of imagination because the horse, like a child, has created a terror out of nothing. A cat playing with a ball of wool is imagining that it is playing with its prey. We always tend to think the worst of animals (and other creatures). We assume that they are stupid and our interpretation of their behavior is based upon that ill-founded prejudice. It is, for example, generally assumed that the ostrich sticks its head in the sand in the assumption that when it cannot see the rest of the world, the rest of the world cannot see it. But where is the evidence for this theory? Could it not be equally possible that the ostrich sticks its head in the sand because it cannot bear what there is to view in the world around it? When a human being covers his or her eyes to avoid looking at a horrific accident we do not say that they believe that they can’t be seen.

 

Love

 

Before slavery was abolished black people who fell in love were regarded as enjoying simple animal lust’ as a result of animal attraction’. Who on earth (or, indeed, in heaven) gave us the right to make such judgements about black people or animals? When black people formed life long pairs this was dismissed as nothing more than a response to an instinct’. The same thing is said about animals (with just as little evidence to support it). Who gives humans the right to argue that animals do not show emotions? Animal abusers sneer and say that animals, which seem to show love, are merely acting according instinct. But who says? Where is the evidence for this claim? Why do animal abusers have the right to make statements with no evidence whatsoever in support? Why don’t the animal abusers follow a consistent line and argue that human mothers who show love for their human babies are merely following their instincts? (Of course, people change their views when it suits them. Even vivisectors and hunters, who claim that animals have no feelings, will often claim to be loved by their companion dogs and cats.)There are numerous well-authenticated stories of animals risking their lives to save their loved ones. And animals will put their own safety second to protect their friends. One herd of elephants was seen always to travel unusually slowly. Observers noted that the herd traveled slowly so as not to leave behind an elephant who had not fully recovered from a broken leg. Another herd traveled slowly to accommodate a mother who was carrying her dead calf with her. When the herd stopped to eat or drink the mother would put her dead calf down. When they started traveling she would pick up the dead calf. The rest of the herd were accommodating her in her time of grief. Gorillas too have been seen to travel slowly if one of their number is injured and unable to move quickly. Remember this unquestioning generosity next time you are trapped in the midst of a crowd of humans traveling by car, train or airplane.

 

Altruistic Behavior

 

Animals don’t just show love; they frequently exhibit behavior that can only be described as altruistic. Old lionesses that have lost their teeth and can no longer bear young are, theoretically, of no value to the rest of the pride. But the younger lions will share their kills with them. Young, agile chimpanzees will climb trees to fetch fruit for their older relatives. Foxes have been observed bringing food to adult, injured foxes. When one fox was injured by a mowing machine and taken to a vet by a human observer the fox’s sister took food to the spot where the injured fox had lain. The good Samaritan sister fox made the whimpering sound that foxes use when summoning cubs to eat (even though she had no cubs).Animals have been known to give food to hungry humans. Koko, the gorilla who learned to communicate with humans through sign language, gave medical advice to a human woman who complained of indigestion. Koko told the woman to drink orange juice. When the human revisited ten days later and offered Koko a drink of orange juice Koko would not accept the drink until assured that the woman felt better. Whales have been observed to ask for and receive help from other whales. J. Howard Moore describes how crabs struggled for some time to turn over another crustacean, which had fallen onto its back. When the crabs couldn’t manage by themselves they went and fetched two other crabs to help them. A gander who acted as a guardian to his blind partner would take her neck gently in his mouth and lead her to the water when she wanted to swim. Afterwards he would lead her home in the same manner. When goslings were hatched the gander, realizing that the mother would not be able to cope, looked after them himself. Pigs will rush to defend one of their numbers who is being attacked. When wild geese are feeding one will act as sentinel – never taking a grain of corn while on duty. When the sentinel goose has been on watch for a while it pecks at a nearby goose and hands over the responsibility for guarding the group. When swans dive there is usually one, which stays above the water to watch out for danger. Time and time again dogs have pined and died on being separated from their masters or mistresses. Animals can suffer, they can communicate and they can care. A Border collie woke a young mother from a deep sleep and led her to her baby’s cot. The baby was choking on mucus and had stopped breathing. What is any of this but compassion? How can animal abusers regard themselves as sentient when they mistreat animals who can feel this way? Konrad Lorenz described the behavior of a gander called Ado when a fox killed his mate Susanne-Elisabeth. Ado stood by Susanne-Elisabeth’s body in mourning. He hung his head and his body was hunched. He didn’t bother to defend himself when attacked by strange geese. How would the animal abusers describe such behavior other than as sorrow born of love? There is no survival value in mourning. It can only be a manifestation of a clear emotional response – love. A badger was seen to drag another badger, which had been killed by a car off the road, along a hedge, through a gap and into a burial spot in nearby woods. Coyotes form pairs before they become sexually active – and then stay together. One observer watched a female coyote licking her partner’s face after they had made love. They then curled up and went to sleep. Geese, swans and mandarin ducks have all been described as enjoying long-term relationships.

 

Vanity And Self Consciousness

 

Animals have also been known to show vanity, self-consciousness, embarrassment and other allegedly exclusively human emotions. Masson and McCarthy reported that chimpanzees have been observed using a TV video monitor to watch themselves make faces – the chimpanzees were able to distinguish between a live image and taped image by testing to see if their actions were duplicated on the screen. Chimpanzees have even managed to use a video monitor to apply make-up to themselves (this is a difficult trick to learn for humans). One chimpanzee has been reported to use a video camera and monitor to look down his throat – using a flashlight to help the process. As for vanity, males (baboons) with worn or broken teeth yawn less than male baboons with teeth in good condition – unless there are no other males around in which case they yawn just as often,’ wrote Masson and McCarthy. One gorilla who had a number of toy dolls used sign language to send kisses to her favorite puppets and dolls. But every time she realized that she was being watched she stopped playing. When a bottlenose porpoise accidentally bit her trainer’s hand she became hideously embarrassed’, went to the bottom of her tank, with her snout in a corner, and wouldn’t come out until the trainer made it clear that she wasn’t cross. Jane Goodall has reported that wild chimpanzees can show embarrassment and shame and may, also, show off to other animals whom they want to impress. (One chimpanzee who fell while showing off was clearly embarrassed). Many people who live with cats will have noticed that if the cat falls off a piece of furniture it will appear embarrassed – often beginning to wash itself as though making it clear that the embarrassing incident didn’t really happen at all. Elephant keepers report that when elephants are laughed at they will respond by filling their trunks with water and spraying the mockers. And many dog owners have reported that their animals have made it clear that they know that they have done wrong. For example a dog which feels it has done something wrong may go into a submissive position before the owner knows that the animal has done something bad’.

 

Artistic Animals

 

There are many myths about animals and the animal abusers tell many lies in an attempt to belittle the skills that animals have. It is, for example, sometimes said by animal abusers that animals cannot see in color. This is a nonsense. Four sheep who lived with me, who were accustomed to being fed from an orange bucket would come running across a field if they saw the orange bucket. When I tried using a blue bucket they showed absolutely no interest. The color was the only significant difference between the buckets. A chimpanzee has been observed staring at a beautiful sunset for fifteen minutes. Monkeys prefer looking at pictures of monkeys to pictures of people and prefer looking at animated cartoons rather than at still pictures. Gerald Durrell wrote about a pigeon who listened quietly to most music but who would stamp backwards and forwards when marches were being played and would twist and bow, cooing softly, when waltzes were played. Dogs will alter their howling according to the other sounds they hear. One gorilla enjoyed the singing of Luciano Pavarotti so much that he would refuse to go out of doors when a Pavarotti concert was being shown on television. Animal abusers have for years dismissed bird song as merely mating calls. Who can say that birds do not sing to give themselves and others pleasure? An Indian elephant in a zoo used to split an apple into two and then rub the two halves onto the hay to flavor it. Numerous apes have painted or drawn identifiable objects while in captivity. And when a young Indian elephant was reported to have made numerous drawings (which were highly commended by artists who did not know that the artist was an animal) other zookeepers reported that their elephants often scribbled on the ground with sticks or stones. When one Asian elephant got extra attention because of her paintings nearby African elephants used the ends of logs to draw on the walls of their enclosure. The animal abusers invariably try to think the worst when considering animal behavior. When a bird takes bright objects to decorate its nest the animal abusers will claim that the bird doesn’t really know what it is doing. When a human being collects bird feathers to decorate a room they are said to be showing artistic tendencies. Vivisectors, and others who abuse animals, are blind to all this because they want to be blind to it. Animal abuse is driven by economic need and there is no place for sentiment and compassion when money is at stake. Vivisectors tear animals away from their partners, their friends and their relatives with no regard for their feelings – or for the feelings of the animals they have left behind. When animals are born in zoos the keepers and jailers claim that this is evidence that the animals are happy. Would they also claim that the fact that babies were born in concentration camps is evidence that concentration camp inmates were happy? What trickery the animal abusers use in their sordid attempts to excuse their brutality. Animals in captivity often die far younger than they would die if they were allowed to roam free. At one oceanarium a famous pilot whale was actually thirteen different pilot whales.

 

Smarter, Kinder, Better

 

Many other species – from families as varied as ants and dolphins – are smarter, kinder and better at creating societies, which work than are human beings. A survey showed that almost half of all the women in one US city had been raped or subjected to attempted rape at least once in their lives. Just think of the torture performed by humans on other humans. Animal abusers will leap on every example they can find of apparent bad behaviour’ by animals and use that example to draw far-reaching conclusions about all animals. They ignore the fact that the bad behavior’ to which they refer may well have been triggered by human aggression. Do the animal abusers who leap upon one example of bad animal behavior as significant also suggest that because one human murders, tortures or rapes we must all be judged by that individual? Are all human beings to be judged to be as barbaric and evil as vivisectors? As I have described in my book Why Animal Experiments Must Stop experimenters have deliberately planned and executed experiments designed to make animals feel depressed. When they have succeeded in making animals depressed they have written up their experiments as though proud of themselves for having succeeded in their evil aims. What possible purpose can there be in creating depression when there is already so much of it in the world? (And, incidentally, does not the ability of the experimental scientists to make’ animals feel depressed provide yet more proof that animals are sentient creatures?)

 

Enjoying The Suffering

 

No animal, other than the human animal, has ever deliberately performed experiments on another. No one animal, other than the human animal, has ever deliberately tortured another being. Human beings are the only species who abuse one another (and members of other species) for pleasure. Human beings are the only species who torture. Only human beings chase and attack living creatures for fun – and for the pleasure of watching the suffering. Contrary to myth, cats do not play’ with animals for fun – it is part of their learning and training process. Cats like to chase, to catch and then to kill. They kill so that they can eat and they need to practice their chasing skills. It is, however, important to remember that a cat or a kitten will be just as happy chasing a ball of paper or a piece of string (particularly if it is manipulated in an effective and lifelike manner). This shows that the cat doesn’t chase and catch because it enjoys the suffering which is produced – how much fun’ could there possibly be in torturing’ a ball of paper or a piece of string? Foxes are often criticized (by those who hunt them) on the grounds that they sometimes kill large numbers of hens. The implication is that the fox kills for pleasure. The truth, however, is that, like other predators who may kill more than they can eat when they have the opportunity, foxes store the food they have killed.

 

Animals As Carers

 

In their excellent book When Elephants Weep Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy report how a man called John Teal, who was working with endangered musk oxen, was at first alarmed when some dogs approached and the musk oxen snorted, stamped and thundered towards him. Before Mr Teal could move to escape, the oxen formed a defensive ring around him and lowered their horns at the dogs. It turned out that the musk oxen were protecting their new human friend in exactly the same way that they would protect their calves from predators. Animals have even been reported to have pets of their own. A chimpanzee who was thought to be lonely was given a kitten as a companion. The chimpanzee groomed the kitten, carried it about with her and protected it from harm. A gorilla called Koko had a kitten companion, which she herself named All Ball. An elephant was seen to routinely put aside some grain for a mouse to eat. Race horses who have had goat companions have failed to run as expected when separated from their friends.

 

A Sense Of Fun

 

Human beings are not the only animals to have a sense of humor and fun and to enjoy playing. Masson and McCarthy, in When Elephants Weep, report that foxes will tease hyenas by going close to them and then running away. Ravens tease peregrine falcons by flying close and closer to them. Grebes tweak the tails of dignified swans and then dive to escape. I have watched lambs play their own version of King of the Castle’ (and many other games customarily played by children). A monkey has been seen to pass his hand behind a second monkey so that he could tweak the tail of a third monkey. When the third monkey remonstrated with the second monkey the first monkey, the practical joker, was clearly enjoying himself. When scientists examined the dung of lions the lions dug up the latrine the humans had been using – and inspected the contents. Ants, fish, birds, cats, dogs, sheep, horses, monkeys, porpoises and many other creatures play.

 

The Barbaric Abuse Of Sensitive Creatures

 

Animals frequently make friends across the species barriers. There is much evidence showing that animals have helped animals belonging to a different species. Why do we have to be the only species to abuse all other creatures? Is our cruelty to other creatures really to be regarded as a sign of our wisdom, superiority and civilization? What arrogance we show in the way we treat animals. Where is our humility and sense of respect? Animals have passionate relationships with one another, they exhibit clear signs of love, they develop social lives which are every bit as complex as our own. By what right do we treat them with such contempt? Those who torture and kill animals have to claim that animals have no feelings – otherwise they would be admitting that they themselves have acted cruelly. But how they can continue to do this when there is so much scientific evidence to prove that they are utterly wrong? Those who torture and kill insist on being allowed to continue to torture and kill because they know that if they stop they will have to admit that they have spent their lives in the barbaric abuse of sensitive creatures. No one with any intelligence or sensitivity of their own can possibly doubt that animals are capable of suffering. Animal experimenters and abattoir workers degrade us all and diminish our worth as a species.

 

Better Than Animals?

 

The animal abusers will frequently argue that since human beings can speak foreign languages and do algebraic equations they are inevitably better’ than animals. What nonsense this is. Does this mean that humans who cannot speak foreign languages or do algebraic equations are not entitled to be treated with respect? And who decides which are the skills deserving of respect? If we decide that the ability to fly, run at 30 mph, see in the dark or swim under water for long distances are the skills worthy of respect there wouldn’t be many human beings qualifying for respect. Cats can find their way home without map or compass when abandoned hundreds of miles away in strange territory. How many human beings could do the same? How many humans could spin a web or build a honeycomb? We owe it to animals to treat them with respect and, at the very least, to leave them alone to live their lives on this earth free from our harm. Darwin wrote that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties’. He also argued that the senses and intuition, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason etc of which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or sometimes even well-developed condition in the lower’ animals.’ Turtles have been observed learning a route from one place to another. To begin with they make lots of mistakes, go down cul de sacs and miss short cuts. But after a while they can reduce their journey time dramatically. Birds, which might normally be alarmed by the slightest noise, learn to ignore the noise of trains and cars when they build their nests near to railway lines or busy roads. Even oysters are capable of learning. Oysters, which live in the deep sea, know that they can open and shut their shells at any time without risk. But oysters, which live in a tidal area, learn to keep their shells closed when the tide is out – so that they don’t dry out and die. This might not quite rank alongside writing a classic novel but how many human beings can write classic novels? Animals use reason and experience to help them survive and they exhibit all of the skills, which the animal abusers like to think of as being exclusively human. All animals accumulate information, which helps them to survive and live more comfortably. Moreover, they do it just as man does – by discriminating between useful and useless information and by memorizing information, which is of value. A puppy who has been burnt on a hot stove will keep away from it just as surely as a child who has suffered a similarly unpleasant experience. Older fish learn to be wary of lures – and become far more difficult to catch than young ones. Rats learn how to avoid traps, and birds learn where telephone wires are strung (so that they don’t fly into them). Arctic seals used to live on inner ice floes to avoid the polar bears but after man arrived and proved to be a worse enemy they started living on the outer ice floes. Many animals know that they can be followed by their scent and act accordingly. A hunted deer or hare will run round in circles, double back on its own tracks, go through water and leap into the air in order to lose its pursuers. Flocks of parrots will send an advance scouting party ahead to check out that all is well.

 

Animals As Teachers

 

There is no doubt, too, that animals actively teach their young in order to pass on skills which the animal abusers generally regard as being nothing more than instinct’. I have watched an adult cat giving lessons to orphan kittens for which he had taken responsibility. The adult cat, teaching the art of stalking, would edge forwards and then stop and look over his shoulder to see if the kittens were following in the correct style. After the lesson had gone on for some time the kittens started playing behind the adult cat’s back. They got away with it for a couple of times but on the third occasion the adult cat saw them. He reached back and gave them both a clip with an outstretched paw. The kittens weren’t hurt but they paid attention again.

 

We tend to ignore the actions of other creatures because we don’t have the time to watch what they do. But even the seemingly lowly ant has a complex and sophisticated life style. Ants can communicate with one another and recognize their friends. They will clean one another, they play, they bury their dead, they store grain, they even clear land, manure it, sow grain and harvest the grass, which they have grown.

 

When animal abusers hear about this sort of behavior they dismiss it as nothing more than instinct. But is it? If a Martian looked down on earth and watched us rushing about on our routine daily work would he perhaps be tempted to describe us as incapable of original thought and responding only to instinct? We may not like it but many races of non human beings have a much greater influence on their environment than we have. There are still tribes of men who live almost naked in very crude huts and whose social structures are relatively primitive when compared to, say, the beavers who cut down trees, transport them long distances, dam rivers, construct substantial homes and dig artificial waterways. Ants plant crops and build roads and tunnels. Birds build astonishingly beautiful nests from the simplest of materials.

 

Animal abusers claim that man is the only animal to use tools. But this simply isn’t true. Even insects use tools – using small stones to pack the dirt firmly over and around their nests. Spiders use stones to keep their webs steady when the weather is stormy. Orangutans and baboons use sticks and stones as weapons. Monkeys use stones to help them crack nuts. In one zoo a monkey who had poor teeth kept (and guarded) a stone hidden in its straw for nut cracking. That monkey had a tool, which it regarded as its own property. Chimpanzees drum on hollow logs with sticks. Monkeys know how to use sticks as levers. The Indian elephant will break off a leafy branch and use it to sweep away the flies. Ants know how to keep grain in a warm, moist atmosphere without the grain sprouting. The honeycomb and the bird’s nest are wonders of architecture. Insect communities practice true and decent socialism.

 

The wonders are unending.

  • Animals are often curious and determined and hard working; loving and loyal and faithful. (But they do not harm themselves with tobacco and alcohol.)
  • We do not understand how a cat, which has been taken a hundred miles away from, its home (in a closed bag) can find its way back again.
  • But animal abusers will sew up the cat’s eyes, plant electrodes into its head and subject it to unimaginable pain and suffering in their search for personal glory.
  • The eagle and the vulture have eyes as powerful as a telescope. The swallow will travel thousands of miles every spring, only to be trapped and shot by a Maltese hunter when it dares to land for water.
  • Many animals, birds and insects can predict the coming of storms far more effectively than our allegedly scientific weather forecasters.
  • Weight for weight the tomtit has more brain capacity than a human being.
  • The animal abusers claim that animals cannot reason. But it is clear that it is the animal abusers who find reason a difficult concept.
  • The facts are abundantly clear: animals are sentient creatures. As J.Howard Moore put it: The human species constitutes but one branch in the gigantic arbour of life.’
  • How cruel and vicious a species we must look to lobsters who are boiled alive, to donkeys who are beaten beyond their endurance and to all farm animals. Not all men are humane.
  • Man is the most drunken, selfish, bloodthirsty, miserly, greedy, hypocritical being on the planet. And yet we think ourselves so damned superior. Man is the only being on the planet to kill for the sake of killing; to dress up and turn killing into a social pastime.
  • The animal abusers sneer at hyenas but they do not kill for fun.
  • Only man gloats over the accumulation of material goods, which he does not truly need. No creature is as immoral as the animal abuser. Only man needs an army of lawyers to fight over what is right and wrong. Only man has forgotten the meaning of natural justice.
  • We have created a hell on this earth for other creatures. Our abuse of animals is the final savagery, the final outrage of mankind in a long history of savagery and outrage. We have colonized other species in the same way that White Northern Europeans colonized other parts of the world. Instead of learning from other animals, instead of attempting to communicate with them, we simply thrash around wickedly, abusing, torturing, tormenting and killing. We destroy the relationships of animals with one another, with their environment and with our own race. We diminish ourselves in a hundred different ways through our cruelty and our ignorance and our thoughtlessness. Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn and his inhumanity to not-men makes the planet a ball of pain and terror,’ wrote J.Howard Moore.
  • If man were truly the master of the universe he would use his wisdom and his power to increase the comfort and happiness of all other sentient creatures. Sadly, tragically, man has used his wisdom and his power to increase the misery of other sentient creatures. Animal abusers imprison millions of animals in cruel and heartbreaking conditions and ignore their cries of pain and distress on the grounds that animals are not sentient creatures’. What self-delusional nonsense this is.
  • Sheep and cattle are left out in huge fields in cold, wet weather. They shiver and search in vain for shelter because all the trees and hedgerows have been removed to make the farm more efficient. The animal abusing farmer cares not one jot for animals: he cares only for his profits.
  • It is quite simply just as immoral to regard animals as existing for the glorification of man as it is to regard black men or women as existing to serve white men.

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things,’ wrote Albert Schweizer, man will not himself find peace.’ The merciful man is kind to all creatures.

 

source

[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

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.

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.

10 Fast Facts About Farmed Animals

Posted in veganism with tags , , , , on January 18, 2010 by carmen4thepets


Get the Facts:

(1) More than 47 billion animals are killed in food production each year around the world — 10 billion of those animals are slaughtered in the United States alone. These figures do not include the countless fish who are killed for human consumption.


(2) In the U.S., more than 9½ billion chickens, turkeys, and ducks; 120 million pigs, 40 million cattle, 3 million sheep, and 600,000 goats were killed for human consumption in 2004.


(3) Approximately 400 million hens and 10 million cows are kept in confinement in appalling conditions for use in the egg and dairy industries. These animals will are slaughtered when they are considered insufficiently productive. Male chicks — byproducts of laying hen production — are killed, often by being thrown into plastic bags to slowly suffocate or being ground into animal feed while still alive. Male calves — the byproducts of the dairy industry — are usually sold to the veal or beef industries.

(4) Like all animals, farmed animals have the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Unfortunately, farm animals endure tremendous amount of pain and suffering for unnecessary human use and consumption.

(5) The vast majority of animals raised for human consumption live on factory farms, where they live in appalling, overcrowded conditions and are subjected to painful mutilations such as debeaking, toe removal, dehorning, and castration, without benefit of pain relief.

(6) Farmed animals frequently die during transport in overcrowded trucks. Once arriving at the slaughterhouse, they may have their throats cut or be boiled alive while still conscious.

(7) The federal Animal Welfare Act does not apply to animals used in agriculture and 30 states have enacted laws that specifically exempt farmed animals from portions of state anti-cruelty statues.

(8) The Humane Slaughter Act, which requires that all animals slaughtered in federally inspected meat processing plants be rendered unconscious to the process of slaughter, does not apply to does not cover chickens and turkeys nor does it cover kosher, ritual, or home slaughter.

(9) The federal law regulating the transport of farmed animals is rarely enforced — and even if it were, it provides less protection than similar initiatives elsewhere in the world. On the way to the slaughterhouse, animals may travel for hours in sweltering temperatures with no access to water.

(10) A plant-based diet has profound benefits for animals, for the planet, and for human health. Learn how easy it is to eat compassionately.

source: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=378786577&blogID=526229731



Who Is Winning the Battle for Food Regime? Vegans or Carnivores? Dare To Know

Posted in animal liberation with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2009 by carmen4thepets

by Dr. Steven Best

We often hear about the any “victories” the vegan movement is piling up with new products on the shelves, new restaurants, growing coverage with celebrities and talk show hosts, and growing consciousness in general.

As this article shows, a growing awareness that meat production is environmentally devastating means that vegans have grounds for hope and optimism.[1]

But the big picture and full context brings sobering realities to light; the fact is that this is all too little, and too late and, while we win some battles, we are losing – badly – the overall war to save the planet from ecological collapse. Consider just two of many grim facts and narratives:

1) “Animal-food production in the United States alone has increased no less than four times since the 1950s, despite the more recent spread of popular knowledge concerning the harmful effects of meat consumption. At present there are an estimated 20 billion livestock on earth. In the United States more than 100,000 cows and calves are slaughtered every day, along with 14,000 chickens. The Tyson plant at Noel, Missouri kills some 300,000 chickens daily while the IBP slaughterhouse at Garden City, Kansas and the ConAgra complex at Greeley, Colorado both disassemble more than 6400 steers a day. All told 23 million animals are killed worldwide to satisfy human and food demands daily. In a McDonaldized society Americans now eat on average 30 pounds of beef yearly, with seemingly little concern for well-known health risks. Conditions of factory farming, said to be improved owing to reforms, are in fact worse by most standards — more crowded, more painful, more disease-ridden, more drug-saturated even than at the time of Upton Sinclair’s classic The Jungle (written in 1906).[2]

2) In a February 17, 2009 interview, Mia MacDonald of Brighter Green, a non-profit environmental think tank based in New York, discussed her case study of China’s runaway demand for animal-derived food products:

“Since 1980, meat consumption in China has risen four-fold. It’s now about 119 pounds per person a year, just over half the average American’s per capita annual meat consumption of 220 pounds.

In 2007, China raised and slaughtered 700 million pigs. That’s about 10 times the number in the U.S., although pork is China’s most popular meat and China’s population is more than four times as large as the U.S.’s, dairy consumption is rising even faster; the dairy industry in China has grown 20 percent a year over the past decade, and consumption of milk products in China has risen three times since 2000.”[3]

As Mark Bittman writes, “Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago.” There is a shocking spike in global flesh consumption as well: “The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) World meat consumption is expected to double again by 2050.”[4]

Opportunities are slipping through our hands like sand. Veganism is crucial, but the vegan movement could not be weaker and more marginalized in response to this planetary crisis. In the essays Jason Miller and I wrote in critical response to the visions put forth by Lee Hall and Gary Francione (“Averting the China Syndrome”)[5], we argued that the projected “vegan revolution” – to happen somehow, sometime – is a pipedream, not only because there is not enough time for this incremental change to creep glacially over the planet, but because, to reiterate, agribusiness and the carnivore paradigm are dwarfing tiny gains in veganism, and we cannot outrun a tornado or outswim a tsunami.

The answers and positive models of revolutionary change will be hard to come by.  One thing for sure is that we can never take even the first step so long as vegans live in their insular elite fantasyland.

This entire movement needs to be picked and shaken to its core. The most monumental events in human history are largely going ignored by the public in general and vegans in specific, and yet this community claims special enlightenment and a unique mission to bring truth and ethics to the world, but they’re lost in their cyber-matrix and the illusion of internet politics, and they have kept veganism restricted from everyone other than privileged whites..

As one step toward revitalizing and rethinking veganism as a social, political and environmental movement, we have proposed recasting veganism as “deep veganism.” [6] On the surface a simple thing, deep veganism rethinks practices such as gardening in radically new terms.  As we wrote earlier: “see the importance of gardening in broad terms, involving not only avoiding chemical poisoning of corporate agriculture and the high costs or inaccessibility of organic foods, but also as cultivating individuals and communities not only soil, breaking with capitalist market relations and a key link of the oppressive chains, becoming autonomous and self-reliant, and bonding with the earth and processes of growth in one of the best possible ways to nurture ecological consciousness.

So there are nutritional, individual, community, educational, political, and economic dimensions to this that are crucial for planting seeds for a new world. It is key to autonomy, health, veganism, community, and breaking with corporations and market structures”[7]

There is no time left to waste. Veganism needs to emerge as a comprehensive and relevant social movement, accessible to everyone, that holds the key to our survival.  There is no blueprint.  Grassroots community outreach and independent radical approaches are required.  Our survival depends on taking control locally instead of reinforcing the systems that threaten our planet.


[1] Kathy Freston, “10 Signs Vegetarianism is Catching On,” November 30, 2009, AlterNet.com(http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/144241/10_signs_vegetarianism_is_catching_on?obref=obinsite).

[2] Carl Boggs, “Corporate Power, Ecological Crisis, and Animal Rights,”2007,  Fast Capitalism 2.2(http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/2_2/boggs.html)..

[3] Anna Lappe, “An interview with Mia MacDonald on China’s growing appetite for U.S.-style meat production,” February 17, 2009, grist(http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/2/16/21496/7516).

[4] Mark Bittman, “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler,” January 27, 2008, The New York Times, (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html).

[5] Steven Best and Jason Miller, “Averting the China Syndrome: Response to Our Critics and the Devotees of Fundamentalist Pacifism,” February 24, 2009, Thomas Paine’s Corner(http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/averting-the-china-syndrome-response-to-our-critics-and-the-devotees-of-fundamentalist-pacifism/).

[6]“ Steven Best, “Introducing “Deep Vegan Outreach”: The Time For Change Is Now,” December 19, 2009, Negotiation Is Over(http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/19/introducing-deep-vegan-outreach-the-time-for-change-is-now/)..

[7] Steven Best, “Planting the Seeds of Deep Veganism and Social Revolution,” December 19, 2009, Negotiation Is Over (http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/19/introducing-deep-vegan-outreach-the-time-for-change-is-now/).

Dr. Steven Best is NIO’s Senior Editor of Total Liberation.  Associate professor of philosophy at UTEP, award-winning writer, noted speaker, public intellectual, and seasoned activist, Dr. Best engages the issues of the day such as animal rights, ecological crisis, biotechnology, liberation politics, terrorism, mass media, globalization, and capitalist domination. Best has published 10 booksover 100 articles and reviews, spoken in over a dozen countries, interviewed with media throughout the world, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was voted by VegNews as one of the nations “25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians.” He has come under frequent fire for his uncompromising advocacy of “total liberation” (humans, animals, and the earth) and has been banned from the UK for the power of his thoughts. From the US to Norway, from Sweden to France, from Germany to Russia to South Africa, Best shows what philosophy means in a world in crisis.

If the nonhumans could fight back, their tormentors would have expired long ago. We have an obligation to expose the abusers. It is the LEAST we can do! I welcome your emails & contributions.

source: http://negotiationisover.com/2009/12/28/who-is-winning-the-battle-for-food-regime-vegans-or-carnivores-dare-to-know/

I’ve changed my mind about vegetarianism

Posted in veganism with tags , , , , on December 27, 2009 by carmen4thepets

By Neel Mukherjee

Simulposted with the Guardian UK

12/24/09

I grew up in financially straitened circumstances and meat, which was expensive, was a rare thing at mealtimes. We ate meat about once a month, if that. Also, growing up in a culture where meat dishes were the centrepiece of private and public entertaining – birthdays, weddings, Sunday lunches, guests for dinner – meat had the glitter of glamour, of showing off, of ceremony about it. Which perhaps goes on to explain somewhat my fascination with and weakness for it.

Different cultural contexts account for some of the fascination too: in India, where I grew up, eating meat is nowhere near as regular, as prevalent and as common as it is in primarily carnivorous first-world countries. India introduced Britain to vegetarianism – see Tristram Stuart’s excellent first book on this – and it is possible, indeed all too easy, to be a vegetarian in India and eat extraordinarily good, varied food every day, with very few “repeats”.

But I race ahead. Meat-fetishiser that I was, I used to find willed vegetarianism inexplicable. It was one thing to be a vegetarian because of religious and caste reasons – something I was familiar with because of my Indian upbringing – but to choose to be a vegetarian when you could eat meat for every meal every day? That seemed madness to me. It was as if you had chosen to live only half of your life, a cussed and downright wrong self-inflicted deprivation. While I felt pity for “cultural” or religious vegetarians, I looked on “converted” vegetarians with contempt. Stupid dimwits, I laughed. Holier-than-thou, preachy, smug, sanctimonious … the arsenal wasn’t exactly thin.

The change of mind occurred slowly. As with most of my knowledge of the world, it came by way of books. I think JM Coetzee’s work came before Peter Singer’s. Reading The Lives of Animals ignited something in me. I searched out Singer’s books: Practical Ethics and a 2002 edition of Animal Liberation. Because they mounted logically consistent arguments and because they were morally sound, rigorously and convincingly argued, and eschewed the cheap, Disneyfied sentimentality that mars so much of pro-vegetarian arguments – oh, let’s not eat that fluffy baa lamb, its mother will be so unhappy to see cute Fleecykins eaten – it got me thinking instead of reacting with the knee-jerk resistance I had (and still have) to the sentimental “arguments”.

It slowly dawned on me that there were no rational, intellectual or moral arguments to be made for carnivorousness. The meat-eaters had always already lost. This is not the place to rehearse all those arguments – in any case, they’ve been done far better than my potted precis could give an idea of by the writers I’ve named. But I need to mention one point.

Far more convincing for me than all kinds of shocking exposés of the meat industry and the way a piece of steak makes it way on to our plates – and, let’s face it, they are bone-rattlingly shocking – was the unimpeachable moral argument against speciesism: because we are the most powerful animals in the animal kingdom, because all animals are at our mercy and we can choose to do whatever we want with them, it is our moral duty not to decimate, factory farm and eat them. It is an argument of such majesty and generosity that its force is almost emotional.

And yet all of this is kinked by the fact that changing my mind hasn’t led to changing my habits. To understand intellectually is one thing, to put it into practice quite another, a whole untraversable territory away. I still haven’t been able to stop eating meat. In any restaurant, my eyes alight first, as if by an atavistic pull, on the meat dishes on the menu. In any dinner party I throw, I think of the non-vegetarian dish as central. I view this as a combination of weakness, greed and moral failure. Someone please help.

source: http://biteclubkc.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/ive-changed-my-mind-about-vegetarianism/#more-337