…if bird flu has it’s way.
by Jack Carone
There is a tendency for some of us who wish to promote veganism—a way of living which excludes the use of animals for food, clothing and other exploitation— to cushion the call to action with a warning/acknowledgement/suggestion that it is a difficult thing to do.
While this is surely the case for some people, for others, including me, it has happened quickly and painlessly when the time was right. To set the stage for interested seekers to expect hardship invites failure or a refusal to even try.
For someone who still really wants to eat animals and their secretions, or still wants to wear a fur coat or a silk shirt, but resists for health or moral reasons understood but not felt, it is certainly hard to do. They have to exert Willpower to resist things they still desire, and this almost inevitably leads to a failure to maintain the “sacrifice”. Someone who gives up meat for “health reasons” very often reverts, occasionally or permanently.
But for someone who has internalized the horror and immorality of subjecting other feeling beings to abuse and slaughter, and who simply refuses to, simply cannot—just won’t— be a part of this any longer, there is no feeling of deprivation, and no enticement which can make them go back to participating in these injustices.
I call this Won’tPower, and in contrast to WillPower, it is effortless to maintain.
Let me tell you what pushed the button in my being and changed my life in an instant.
At the time, I subscribed to the Los Angeles Times newspaper. I sat down one morning and turned to the feature section, and began reading a human-interest story about a man who had become very bitter about life due to some tragic personal experiences. He had become very hard-hearted.
He somehow got a job in a slaughterhouse, killing lambs—baby sheep— as they came by in procession, he took their just-beginning lives with a knife.
One day, a particular lamb passed his station, and he stabbed as before. But before this lamb could fall, mortally wounded, she turned and tenderly licked her own blood from her killer’s hand.
The man broke down, had an instant change of heart, his bitterness melted, he left and became a minister, enriching lives instead of ending them.
I folded the paper, set it down, and have never looked back, except to regret that I had not saved the article!
It is important to note that I had already been thinking about the morality of eating animals, primarily due to my experience of having my first dog as an adult, with all the revelations that living with another species brings, and having met someone’s “pet” turkey, who had expressed as much interest in me as had their Great Dane dog. In other words, the time was right for me, much as the time has to be right to change any ingrained habit, whether it’s smoking, drinking or anything else.
So if you have been wrestling with the ethics of consuming and wearing animals, if you are torn, keep wrestling. Keep thinking and considering. Keep the internal quest alive. When it coincides with the thing—your own personal newspaper article—that pushes your moral button, you may find that it is the easiest and most satisfying thing you have ever done.
The species Homo sapiens woke up this morning to a sudden collective realization that they are plant eating primates, not some Tyrannosaurus-like super predators. Instantly, as if waking with a start from a bad dream, it came to each and every human at exactly 8:00 a.m. that all their problems would be solved if they changed their carnivorous ways.
By day’s end, with the whole of humanity now born again vegan, people begin to feel better than ever—revitalized—with a glow of guilt-free contentment. World hunger eases and peace seems actually attainable since folks have moved beyond their self-centered lust for animal flesh. And the once hunted and farmed animals rejoice, knowing that fleshy two-leggers are over their foolish power trip and are now treating them with fairness and respect.
It’s been a long time coming and not a moment too soon. Starting today, winter solstice, December 21st, 2013 will be known as Happy Vegan Day, a time when all people exchange cruelty-free gifts in honor of the glorious occasion.
(This has been another installment in EtBG’s “Headlines We’d Like to See.”)
by Jim Robertson
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s one thing about Homo sapiens that can’t be denied: the species has come a long way from its primate origins—but that’s not necessarily a good thing. From a peaceful plant-eating past, hominids have clawed their way to the top of the food chain, and now the planet’s atmosphere, climate and web of life are all suffering for it.
We’ve evolved so far from the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees and gorillas, that now they’re just a curiosity—side show freaks—to be gawked at between bars or in tiny “habitats” at the neighborhood zoo.
They’re just animals, why should we respect them as our kin? Did they rise from their simple roots, eating from the bottom of the food chain, to become the most successful big-game hunter of all time? Do they carry out wars on a global scale that threaten the very existence of life on Earth? Have they changed the climate for the worse and caused the current extinction spasm? No, only humankind can claim all those achievements.
And we owe it all to eating meat. The transformation from peaceful plant eater to weapon-wielding predator may have made us top dog, but, as they say, it’s lonely at the top. Not only is meat-eating hard on human health, but the carnivorous ways of such a rapidly growing population of conscious-less killers are taking the planet down with them.
We re-invented ourselves once as a species when we climbed down out of the trees and set out across the savannas, spear in hand, in search of “game.” Now it’s time to re-invent ourselves again, for the good of all. It’s not written in stone that humans have to destroy the Earth and all its inhabitants. Reinvention is as simple laying down our weapons and returning to a more sustainable place lower on the food chain. Trading in our collective ego trip and symbolically returning to the trees may go against human nature, but it’s preferable to self-imposed extinction.
Millions of turkeys are horrifically raised and killed as mere tokens, but why?
November 28, 2013 by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. in Animal Emotions
Many of you have heard this question over and over again, “Why kill turkeys to celebrate Thanksgiving?” They say repetition is boring conversation but I feel it’s essential to ask this question repeatedly, because there really
is no reason at all to slaughter and to eat these fascinating sentient beings in the name of a holiday, and turkeys surely are sentient beings (see also). Dr. Ian Duncan, a world-renowned expert on the behavior of food animals notes, based on detailed scientific research, “It is indisputable that poultry are capable of feeling pain. All poultry species are sentient vertebrates and all the available evidence shows that they have a very similar range of feelings as mammalian species. Poultry can suffer by feeling pain, fear, and stress.” More information about the lives of turkeys can be found here.
Turkeys are also very smart and have distinct personalities. People used to write off fish as being unfeeling “lower” animals but we now know, also based on solid scientific research, that they are sentient and feel pain (see also). The more we study other animals the more we learn about how complex their lives are, even for animals previously thought to be unfeeling creatures.
There’s no reason to consume pain and misery: Would you kill and eat your dog?
Holidays should be times for deep reflection. So, please reflect on these facts. More than 45 million turkeys are killed every Thanksgiving. More than 300 million are killed annually. Before they are mercilessly slaughtered individuals are kept in the most inhumane conditions, on the floors of dark, filthy sheds, houses of horrors, where they walk through their own excrement, breathe ammonia-filled air, and are cramped together so tightly they can’t move or get away from one another. As a result there are numerous fights among normally peaceful individuals and they suffer from massive injuries and a wide variety of diseases that humans consume.
Furthermore, when one eats a turkey carcass they are eating a genetically engineered animal and also consuming pain and misery. To keep turkeys from injuring one another their toes and beaks are cut off with hot blades with no anesthetic or analgesic, and when their throat is slit many are still conscious. We know chickens feel empathy and there is every reason to believe that turkeys do too. I know no one would treat their dog like turkeys are treated from birth to their heinous road to death.
There are numerous very tasty non-animal alternatives and even if you don’t think they’re as yummy as a dead bird is it really asking too much to give up something that isn’t a necessary part of your diet? I don’t think so.
Animals shouldn’t be used as token objects of joyous festivities
In order to make changes in the way we live, including who, not what, we eat, we occasionally need to leave our comfort zones. By not turning a blind eye to the incredible suffering that turkeys experience and choosing to forgo eating them, you can add more compassion to the world. You can even adopt a turkey. I urge everyone to try to make this incredibly simple change right now, for this coming holiday and for future celebrations in which animals are consumed as mere token objects of the festivities. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t feel better about yourself. Thank you very much for trying.
Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson; see also), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation
It’s a special morning of a special day, but out in migratory bird habitat there’s a massacre going on. Though nearly every family across the country has a turkey thawing out in preparation for a gluttonous banquet a little later in the day,
recreational meat-pursuers are ringing in the season by blasting away into flocks of wintering geese to make up for the fact that their sacrificial bird-of-the-day came from a grocery store.
Never mind that the poor being was raised in a windowless barn, crowded-in with so many other turkeys that their wings wither away to virtual stumps of appendages, their natural coloration was bred out of them anyway.
Can’t afford your own tormented Thanksgiving turkey this year? Not to worry, chances are some abattoir has donated hundreds of frozen carcasses to your local food bank, in hopes of promoting their own animal industry. Here on the coast, turkeys were donated by a thriving seafood “processing” plant.
Non-human life has very little value in today’s world. Heck, a Montana wolf hunter can go out and mow down a loyal dog walking practically at her beloved master’s side and not face any legal consequences. The value of mass-produced birds is measured by the pound. No charge for their stark white feathers; they come off the body easily and can fetch a penny or so a pound at the pillow factory.
But the mighty hunters out in the tidelands currently shooting up a storm won’t be satisfied until they kill something themselves. There’s nothing like a hands-on blood bath to get you in the mood for a feast, I guess. Some folks haven’t come far from Plymouth Rock; at least they phased out witch burnings.