The Fate of Human Decency is on Your Plate

Well, I tried to hold true to my promise to swear off philosophizing, but I come across too many issues that need addressing to stay on that wagon for very long. The latest thing that got me thinking was a Facebook poster that read:

“I went to Subway today to get my favorite sandwich. The guy in front of me ordered a different sub. I was pissed because he didn’t get the same sub as me, even though it didn’t affect me in any way.
“This is what people sound like when they say gay marriage affects them.”

While I get it, and agree with the analogy in that context, I couldn’t help but think about the scenario in a literal sense. Ordering a Veggie Delite (hold the mayo and cheese) at Subway, I find myself getting pissed if the guy in front of me is ordering a Cold-Cut Combo sub. Not because it directly affects me, but because of the multitudes of sentient animals who endure miserable lives and horrible deaths to appease such hedonistic humans’ thirst for blood (and flesh and tissue and animal fat, etc.).

The sacred right to personal choice should be limited by the rights and interests of others. It’s not like I care whether someone’s food choices are unhealthy—hell they can smoke, drink or overeat to their heart’s content—as long as no one else suffers for their actions. And factory-farmed animals being served at fast-food restaurants suffer unimaginable conditions. Enslaved for life, a pig raised for bacon or sausage has no semblance of the kind of existence nature intended. The same goes for cows confined on feed lots, and chickens or turkeys de-beaked and crowded into windowless barns.

On a related note, last night I watched the Spielberg flick, Lincoln, and had a similar thought: although it’s inspiring to see how far we’ve come as a country in terms of accepting racial equality, we still have a long way to go in applying the notion of “equal under the law” to all of our fellow Earthlings. In order for society to truly stop living off the backs of the enslaved, the concepts spelled out by Thaddeus Stevens in the 13th amendment—that though all are not always equal in all things, they should be treated equally under the law—must apply to both human and non-human animals alike.

Just some food for thought next time you feel entitled to a meat-lover’s combo submarine sandwich. Every time you order from Subway, the “fate of human decency” is in your hands.

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Anti-Hunt Q and A

The following are my answers to interview questions posed by a journalism student who so was moved after reading my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, that she decided to undertake a project on the psychology of hunting…

1. Have you come into contact with anyone (especially hunters) who has stated that your book changed their view on the game of hunting and the mistreatment of animals?

Answer: Yes, I’ve heard from several non-hunters who have thanked me for exposing the truth about big game hunting. No longer ambivalent about the unnecessary cruelty of sport hunting, they are now active anti-hunters.

But I have yet to meet a hunter introspective enough to allow anything to change their inbred, imbedded views on killing wildlife.

2. Have you received any ‘backlash’ since publishing this book?

Answer: For what, for urging hunters and trappers to be more compassionate to our fellow beings? No, and they haven’t received any backlash from me for tormenting and killing my friends the animals (aside from my book and blog).

Deep down hunters and trappers know what they are doing is wrong; they just hope we’ll continue to let them get away with it.

3. Are you friends with anyone who avidly hunts? Do any of your family members hunt?

Answer: Unfortunately.

4. In the beginning of the book, it states that you have always been a man of compassion towards animals. Why do you think that spreading the word of being kind to animals is important?

Answer: I’m going to answer that question with another question, a couple of other questions, actually: Why did the emancipators think freeing the slaves was important? My grandmother and great aunts were suffragettes, why did they fight for women’s right to vote? Why did people push to ban kiddie porn or crush videos? Why? Because speaking out for innocent victims of exploitation is the right thing to do.

5. What do you say to those who hunt for food and not sport? Many hunters believe that it is more humane to hunt for food than it is to buy meat from a slaughter house.

Answer: First of all, most people who claim to hunt for food not sport are living far above the poverty level. They are not starving and they don’t need to kill animals to survive. They do it because they want to—it’s “fun.” In many cases they spend far more on the hunt than it would cost them to get their food from the markets where they buy their beer, tobacco and Twinkies. They can boast all they want about “using the meat”—hell, even wolf or cougar hunters will claim that they plan to eat what they kill—but they’re just trying to make their trophy hunt seem palatable to the unwary public.

And the claim that hunting is more humane than what cows go through is exaggerated at best. While there’s absolutely no denying that what cows at the slaughterhouse are forced to endure is appallingly cruel, hunters conveniently forget that the animals they stalk are stressed out from the time they hear the first gunshots fired by someone sighting in their rifles for hunting season.

The myth of that “good clean shot” is a grim fairytale in most every case. Hunters expect to have to track down and finish off an animal they’ve shot or impaled with an arrow. In reality, “game” animals probably suffer longer than those at the slaughterhouse (though this is in no way meant to condone factory farming).

When it comes right down to it, hunters don’t give a shit about being humane, or they’d quit eating meat and join the millions of people who are living proof that human beings can live longer, healthier lives if they swear off flesh foods and get their nutrients from the plant kingdom.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Silly Humans, Carrion is For Carnivores

Never before in the history of mammals have seven billion large, terrestrial, meat-eating members of one species ever single-handedly laid waste to so much of the Earth’s biodiversity. Human carnivorousness is killing the planet one species at a time, one ecosystem after another; one bison at a time, one wolf after another.

Every time you order a steak or grill a hamburger, you legitimize bison and wolf culling for the sake of livestock growers. If you really want to save the wolves and the bison, go vegan! And urge your friends and family and neighbors and co-workers to do the same.

Tell it to the world—it’s time to leave the predating to the predators!

Human beings can live much healthier on a plant-based diet, as their primate cousins always have. True carnivores, such as wolves, coyotes, cougars, marine mammals or members of the weasel family have to eat meat to survive. If you’re not willing to go vegan for your own health perhaps you could do it for the health of the planet; if not for the sake of the animals you eat, maybe for all the other species affected by your bill of fare.

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

That Fateful Day

Without a doubt, our species, Homo sapiens, has made some staggering achievements over the ages. No other animal has ever harnessed fire, split the atom, invented a religion or come up with a way to leave Earth’s atmosphere, travel through the void of space and land on the lifeless dust ball we call the moon.

Meanwhile, none of our bestial kin can be credited with singlehandedly changing the planet’s climate or causing a mass extinction.

And it can all be traced back to that fateful day when the first pre-human took to hunting, killing and eating other animals.

At that point in our distant past, early human ancestors, running around unclothed, with no more worldly possessions to their name aside from maybe a bone or sharp rock, wouldn’t have been considered by anyone to be anything except bipedal primate mammals. But modern hominids, (often sporting bling, ear-buds, tattoos and clean-shaven heads), are seen as vastly superior specimens in many ways to our ancient ancestor. And yet, as full-fledged human beings, we’re killing the planet. Worse still, we know it.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There was a time, long before humans devised clever hunting tactics like digging trapping pits for mammoths or driving herds of terrified horses off cliffs, when we shared the land with a branch of now-extinct hominids who lived a peaceful existence of plant eating, as the entire primate line always had. These gentle giants lived hand to mouth on seeds, nuts, fruit, roots, leaves, grasses and sedge, while the branch of hominids in our direct lineage began to acquire a taste for rotting flesh.

As the carnivorous line of hominid’s hunting skills “improved” they grew weary of carrion and began to prey on larger and larger “game,” eventually wiping out enough of our fellow animal species to set in motion a mass extinction spasm that could soon lead to their own undoing.

There are seven billion humans on the planet today, most of whom consume mass quantities of animal products. Meat production is the greatest contributor to global warming, while hunting and fishing continues to reduce the Earth’s biodiversity.

It’s not too late to step back and say whoa to the madness of meat-eating. Millions of people worldwide are living proof that modern humans can live healthier and more sustainable lives on a plant-based diet like our earliest of primate ancestors enjoyed.  Perhaps by collectively going vegan, the human species might still stand a chance of averting their own extinction.