Jane Goodall: “We’re Destroying the Planet”


April 21, 2015 by

On the topic of our planet’s future, Jane Goodall, the legendary chimpanzee researcher, does not mince words: “How is it possible that the most intellectual creature that has ever walked on planet earth is destroying its only home?” Dr. Goodall, who is 81, spends 300 days year traveling the world in an effort to save it. The biggest problem, she says, is climate change. And the biggest culprit? Animal agriculture.


In a lecture to hundreds of fans in NYC on April 15th, Dr. Goodall explained that agribusinesses are clearing rainforests in the Amazon to graze cattle and grow crops to feed them. Without rainforests – the “lungs of the earth” – the planet’s ability to convert carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, into oxygen is compromised.

Clearing Amazon rainforest for cattle grazing (photo: Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Even more harmful than CO2, Goodall said, is the methane gas emitted in cow farts. As developing countries adopt Western diets heavy in animal protein, more methane and CO2 are released into the atmosphere, further warming the planet and jeopardizing our ability to inhabit it.

Jane Goodall uses a stuffed cow to point out that methane gas is emitted in cow farts.

During her talk, Dr. Goodall described some of the other destructive effects of animal agriculture, including land and water pollution, antibiotic resistance, depletion of fresh water resources and animal cruelty, which is was motivated her to go veg. In a recent interview with the Toronto Globe & Mail, she said, “I became a vegetarian because of the horrendous suffering on factory farms and in abattoirs.”

Jane Goodall paints a grim picture of the state of the planet, but she is hopeful that humans will work together to save ourselves from ourselves. And she offers some advice that each of us can put into action today:

  • Go vegetarian.
  • Consume less. The more we buy, she argues, the more natural resources we extract from the planet. How much stuff do we really need?
  • Improve the environment in our own communities. Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, which has chapters in 130 countries, is helping people plant trees, clean rivers and perform other community services in their own backyards.

Roots & Shoots has chapters in 130 countries

At the end of her presentation, Dr. Goodall showed a video of a newly-released captive chimpanzee hugging her when she emerged from her crate and realized she was home in the jungle. Goodall uses this remarkable event to point out that, as intelligent as chimps are, their brains are far less powerful than those of humans. And she left the audience with a challenge — to harness the brainpower that we’ve used to damage the planet to save it.

Sometimes kids have Good Instincts

We just found out our niece’s 5 year old daughter has decided to go vegetarian. I wonder if it has anything to do with her recent 3-day visit with her vegan grand-aunt and uncle? Apparently she isn’t a big fan of meat anyway.

Sometimes kids have good instincts about that sort of thing.

Possibly under the delusion that he’d spawned the next Kendall Jones, her father wanted to take her, the 5 year old, bear hunting. Hopefully we’ve heard the last of that misguided notion…

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson


The Modern Savage: A New Book Questions Why We Eat Animals


There’s a good life beyond beef and after meat

Dr. James McWilliams (link is external)‘ new book called The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals (link is external) is a very thoughtful work about our meal plans in which he covers the ecological and ethical reasons for not eating nonhuman animals (animals), and shows that labels such as “cage free,” “free range,” and “humanely raised” are not necessarily sound and ethical (the Kindle edition can be found here (link is external)). Furthermore, more “personal” backyard farming in which humans form close relationships with other animals who are usually named before they’re killed for food also raises deep ethical questions.

The book’s description captures what Dr. McWilliams’ book is all about: “In the last four decades, food reformers have revealed the ecological and ethical problems of eating animals raised in industrial settings, turning what was once the boutique concern of radical eco-freaks into a mainstream movement. Although animal products are often labeled ‘cage free,’ ‘free range,’ and ‘humanely raised, can we trust these goods to be safe, sound, or ethical? In The Modern Savage, renowned writer, historian, and animal advocate James McWilliams pushes back against the questionable moral standards of a largely omnivorous world and explores the ‘alternative to the alternative’–not eating domesticated animals at all. In poignant, powerful, and persuasive prose, McWilliams reveals the scope of the cruelty that takes place even on the smallest and–supposedly–most humane animal farms. In a world increasingly aware of animals’ intelligence and the range of their emotions, McWilliams advocates for the only truly moral, sustainable choice–a diet without meat, dairy, or other animal products.”

I fully understand that some people will be tempted to write off The Modern Savage as just another radical’s rant about animal rights, how people who eat other animals are “bad people,” etc. etc. However, I hope they don’t do this before reading the book because this is not what this book is all about. And, whether you agree or disagree with Dr. McWilliams’ analyses and messages, I can’t imagine that his book won’t force you to re-evaluate your values and views on the lives of other animals and perhaps discuss them with other people.

Dr. McWilliams also provides a large number of scientific references for his claims about why eating other animals are environmentally and ethically unwise choices, and I hope readers will take his message seriously and at least begin a move away from eating other animals and animal products. The last paragraph of The Modern Savage says it well: “What I’m asking you to imagine is thus a movement that requires us to become more emotionally in ntune with animals, ethically consistent in our behavior, and better informed about the evolutionary heritage we share with sentient creatures. This movement, whether we join it all at once or gradually, with immediate zeal of reluctantly, will, in the end, triumph over industrial agriculture because it will be, above all else, a bloodless revolution based on compassion for animals, the environment, and ultimately ourselves.”

Dr. McWilliams is right on the mark here and throughout his book. It’s clearly true, and solid science clearly shows, that factory farming is not sustainabile and is an utter waste of water, land, other resources, and of course, the lives of billions of animals. The award-winning documentary “Cowspiracy (link is external)” is a great source for viewing these data (link is external) objectively.

When read with an open mind, I think that The Modern Savage could be a game-changer, especially for those who have resisted making changes to their meal plans because they were unaware of the ecological and ethical issues or because they wrote them off as being sensationalist — radical — fiction. They’re not.

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservationWhy dogs hump and bees get depressed, and Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistence. The Jane effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson) has recently been published. (marcbekoff.com; @MarcBekoff)

10 Animals You Should Love, Not Eat


Most people like to think of themselves as animal lovers. We think negatively about people who say they don’t like animals. I always called myself an animal lover yet I ate animals. I wasn’t lying. I’m pretty sure that if I had to personally choose the animal that would be slaughtered for my dinner and see her killed with my own eyes, I would have opted for salad. The problem is that most of us don’t see the billions of animals that are bred, held captive and killed for our food. They are a nameless, faceless mass that are out of sight and out of mind. What happens when we stop to look and think about the animals we eat as individual beings who feel pain and joy, who love and mourn, who cherish and lose families, who die yet want to live? It might seem strange to have to convince people of reasons why any living being should be allowed to live and yet the reality is that we do. Here are just 10 of the animals we should love, not eat.

1. Cows



Cows are gentle animals who are affectionate, emotional and intelligent. Mahatma Gandhi described a cow as “a poem of compassion.” Cows are certainly deserving of our compassion as well as our understanding and respect. Cows are very intelligent, curious, communicative, able to think critically, problem solve and have very good memories. They are highly emotional, forming friendships and close bonds. Cows have strong maternal bonds and are attentive, protective and loving parents. When a calf is taken away, the mother will cry and bellow for hours, even days, and fall into a deep depression. Mother cows will search for their babies, visibly distressed, just as the calves cry for their mother.

Cows can live up to 20 years but cows raised for meat are slaughtered when less than two years old and calves killed for veal don’t get to live more than a few months. If you think just being meat-free is enough, think again. Dairy cows are sent to slaughter when their milk production slows, usually around the age of four. There is no reason to eat cows or their body fluids when there are so many amazing vegan meats and non-dairy milks and cheeses available. Read more in 10 Things to Love about Cows.

2. Pigs



In the Chinese zodiac, the pig represents fortune, honesty and happiness. How appropriate for this honest, happy animal that is smart, lovable and forgiving. Scientists have determined that not only are pigs smart, they are smarter than dogs, some primates and three-year old children. They are ranked as the fourth most intelligent creature on Earth! There are some bad stereotypes out there about pigs like how they are sloppy or eat too much. None of that is true. In fact, pigs are very clean animals who can live indoors just like dogs and cats. They can be very picky eaters. They eat slowly, nibbling and savoring their food and like to eat a variety of foods. Pigs are highly social, playful and form close bonds. They are very good mothers and are anxious when separated from their babies. Pigs are compassionate, forgiving and are highly emotional beings.

However, pigs do not get to be clean, happy or raise their families. They could live 10-12 years but are slaughtered at six months old because too many people think “everything is better with bacon.” Instead, eat any of the many types of vegan bacon and learn more in 10 Phenomenal Reasons to Love Pigs.

3. Chickens



I used to think I couldn’t live without chicken but I learned that it is the chickens who couldn’t live with me eating them. Chickens, which are descended from dinosaurs, are amazing, intelligent and affectionate animals. Chickens are intelligent animals who can solve complex problems, understand cause and effect, and anticipate and plan for the future. Chickens dream, have great memories and complex communication systems. They are also good teachers as mother hens begin to teach calls to their babies while they are still in their eggs. Hens are loving and affectionate toward their chicks and show empathy for them as well for other hens. Mama hens also defend their babies from predators.

Sadly, there are more chickens raised and killed for food than all other animals combined. In the U.S alone, over eight billion chickens are killed each year – that’s almost 300 per second! The natural life span of a chicken can be up to 10 years but chickens bred for meat are usually killed as babies at less than two months old.  Egg-laying hens are slaughtered when they no longer lay enough eggs at around one to two years old. Read 10 Things to Love about Chickens while you enjoy some Crispy Tofu Nuggets and Chicken-Less Burgers.

4. Turkeys



Every year 45 million turkeys are killed in the U.S. just for Thanksgiving alone. On a holiday that is about giving thanks and being grateful, we should be celebrating life, not taking it away and that number does not include all the turkeys killed the rest of the year. Too many people think turkeys are just “dumb” birds but that is completely wrong. Turkeys are quite intelligent, good at geography and can solve problems. They are curious, inquisitive and communicate with over 20 calls. Turkeys are sensitive with good and bad moods. Turkeys are social, playful birds who have distinct personalities just like dogs and cats. The mother turkeys are protective, staying with their babies at ground-level to keep them safe and warm until they learn to fly and roost up in the trees.

Turkeys can live up to ten years, but these beautiful birds are killed when they are only a few months old. Before their deaths, they are confined to filthy, small spaced and bred to be so big, their skeletons cannot support their weight. Why not try a more compassionate option for holiday meals and eat an Unturkey Roast. Learn more about 10 Reasons to Love Turkeys and 11 Fun Facts about Turkeys you may not have known.

5. Lambs and Sheep



The Egyptians believed sheep were sacred and the ancient Sumerians immortalized sheep in the form of gods. In the Chinese zodiac, sheep represent righteousness, sincerity, gentleness and compassion. Sheep are intelligent, able to solve problems and almost as smart as pigs. They have good memories, recognize faces and facial expressions. Sheep are emotional and display emotions with their ears. Sheep are social and like to be in groups. Ewes are very protective and caring mothers to their lambs and form deep bonds with them. They can recognize their own lambs by the sound of their bleats.

Lambs are often taken away from their mothers, though, and used for meat, dairy, and wool. Sheep can live 12-14 years but are often killed at just 6-8 months of age. Instead of eating these adorable animals, indulge in this Vegan Irish “Lamb” Stew or this Bad Ass “Lamb” Burger and Meet the 6 Happiest Little Lambs in the World.

6. Goats



In the Chinese zodiac, goats represent creativity, shyness, introversion and perfectionism. If you’re a Capricorn, maybe you know that “capra” is the root of the word “capricious” which means quirky, whimsical, and fanciful which perfectly describes the cuties that are goats. Goats are highly intelligent, inquisitive and curious. They love to explore everything which is probably why people think they are such trouble-makers. Goats communicate with each other and while they are social, they don’t flock together as much as sheep do. They have great balance and coordination; they can climb trees and jump over 5 feet high! Mother goats are protective and call to their kids to keep them close. Kids love to be close to their mothers and wean after six months.

Unfortunately, the kids don’t get to reach six months or spend what little time they do have with their mothers. These kids are killed when they are babies, less than five months old, when their meat is most tender. Goat meat is common in several cuisines and goat milk has become more and more popular. Choose any non-dairy milk instead and sip a glass while watching this video of Benjamin the Orphaned Pygmy Goat Gets to Go to Work With Dad.

7. Rabbits



Everyone thinks bunnies are adorable, right? From Bugs Bunny to the Easter Bunny, we all smile when we see rabbits. Renaissance artists painted rabbits to represent purity, unquestioning faith and gentleness. In the Chinese zodiac, rabbits represent sensitivity, compassion, tenderness and kindness. They are also symbols of fertility and rebirth which makes them even more popular at Easter time. Rabbits are affectionate, social animals that enjoy being around humans as well as other rabbits. They are not shy about showing their joy as they run, jump in the air and twist their bodies. If they like you, they might say it with a low humming sound. Rabbits are more commonly being kept as companion animals. They are easy to care for but do need proper care to be happy and healthy including companionship, a good diet, exercise and indoor shelter. They also need mental stimulation and social interaction as they can get bored easily.

Rabbits can live up to 12 years but many will not be allowed to live more than 12 weeks. Rabbits are killed for meat and their fur. Many are used in experiments, tortured in labs for products we support with our dollars. Learn more about which companies use animals in testing and 5 Hopping Good Reasons to Adopt a Rescued Rabbit. Rather than buying rabbits to eat at the supermarket, check out these 5 Adorable Rock Star Rabbits.

8. Geese



We have all seen a gaggle or group of geese. Geese like to hang out together and work well together too. When flying, they take turns in the lead position giving each other time to rest. That honking you hear while they are flying might be the gaggle telling the geese in front to speed it up. Geese are affectionate and kind-hearted. They take care of each other when one is sick or wounded. Geese select their mates at three years old and then often mate for life. The couples live together and have baby goslings which they care for together. The males are caring and protective of their female partners and will defend them to the death. When the mother goose leaves her eggs, she covers them with sticks to protect them while the daddy goose keeps predators away. Once goslings hatch, they are taught to swim the next day and to fly at three months old. Geese have great instincts about geography and prefer to live where they were born. Geese have been known to fly 3000 miles just to return to a familiar place. That sense of home and loyalty keeps young geese with their parents even after they are independent.

Geese can live 8-15 years in the wild but many don’t get a chance to have a loving home and family and don’t live longer than 15-20 weeks. Geese are used for their eggs, plucked raw for their feathers (down) and killed for their meat. Then there is the whole issue of foie gras, the “delicacy” that has been banned in some places and fought about in others. To make foie gras which is basically chopped liver, geese are torturously force-fed multiple times each day for three weeks with a metal rod in order to fatten up their liver to 10-12 times its normal size. The geese are unable to walk or stand, kept in tiny cages and then slaughtered so people can feel snooty about eating something so expensive. Instead, make my vegan Mushroom and Walnut Pate and enjoy it while watching this video about Davina and Maisy, the Blind Goose and Dog who are BFFs!

9. Fish and Sea Animals



Fish and sea animals are the animals that people seem to care the least about. They are the only animals that are shown being killed on TV cooking shows. People talk about fishing like it’s a sport and not killing innocent lives. Maybe it’s because fish are not soft and cuddly, or that we don’t interact much with them, or that they can’t cry and scream that makes us feel less kind toward them. Fish are actually intelligent animals with good memory and recall and ability to solve problems. Fish communicate with each other and speak with sounds humans can only hear with special instruments. They like physical contact with other fish and rub up against each other. Fish flirt and woo potential partners. They are sensitive and have personalities. Fish know pleasure and they feel pain. According to Vegan Peace, lobsters “have a sophisticated nervous system that allow them to sense actions that will cause them harm and feel pain. Lobsters don’t have an autonomic nervous system that puts them into a state of shock when they are harmed. For this reason, they will feel pain until their nervous system is completely destroyed.”

According to ADAPTT (animals deserve absolute protection today and tomorrow), an estimate of 90 BILLION marine animals are killed each year. Free From Harm estimates 500,000,000,000 fish die a painful death every year to feed humans food we don’t need. Fish are subjected to factory farming just like other animals and if you think eating fish is healthy, you might want to think again. These six fish can tell you why. Read 7 Great Reasons Why You Should Skip Fish at Your Next Meal and then Learn How to Make Vegan Seafood Dishes at Home without the Fish.

10. Dogs and Cats



Are you surprised to see dogs and cats on this list? I’m sure I don’t have to write all the reasons we should love dogs and cats rather than eat them. We all know they are intelligent, loving, loyal animals who love their babies and feel pleasure, joy, happiness, pain, sorrow and fear. Many of us consider our dogs and cats family and celebrate their birthdays and adoption days. Most of us would not ever contemplate eating them.

However, there are many countries that do kill dogs and cats for their fur and their meat. Consumption of dogs and cats is legal in some countries including most states in the U.S. Other countries are trying to make it legal to cull privately-owned animals while protesters run “Say No to Dog and Cat Meat” campaigns in countries across the globe. Hopefully, attitudes toward eating dogs and cats will change toward compassion.

Showing Compassion for all Living Beings

These are just 10 of the many animals that are killed for food; there are many more like ducks, deer, frogs and alligators. We all rejoice when animals are saved from being killed for meat in other countries or when an individual cow or pig escapes slaughter, probably while we are eating a burger or chicken wings. Hopefully, this article will make you see that there are similarities between the animals we eat and call dinner and those we love and call family. Every living being deserves to live in peace and happiness and be loved, not eaten.

Lead Image Source: What We Can Learn About Parenting From Farm Animals

Scalding Live Chickens Is an Accepted Brutal Business Model


Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times “To Kill a Chicken” is a must read

Post published by Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on Mar 18, 2015 in Animal Emotions

Media is extremely important in spreading all sorts of news to a broad, and often unknowing public. Recently, an investigative essay by Michael Moss in the New York Times told the story of the ways in which nonhuman animals (animals) called “food animals” are brutalized at a Nebraska research facility, all in the name of profit (please see “‘Food Animals'” Brutalized at Federally Funded “‘Meat Lab'” for details).  What I found interesting about Mr. Moss’s essay is that it generated bipartisan support in the U. S. Congress to stop the torture of these “research animals.” As a researcher I was astounded that it took an essay in the New York Times, not scientific essays about animal sentience nor popular reports about these essays, to motivate politicians to get involved in protecting these animals. We don’t need more science, we need more action that can easily and solidly be based on what we already know about how these animals deeply suffer.

Another essay in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof called “To Kill a Chicken (link is external)” also caught my eye. It begins: “IF you torture a single chicken and are caught, you’re likely to be arrested. If you scald thousands of chickens alive, you’re an industrialist who will be lauded for your acumen. That’s my conclusion after reviewing video footage taken by an undercover investigator for Mercy for Animals (link is external), an animal rights group. The investigator said he worked for two months in a North Carolina poultry slaughterhouse and routinely saw chickens have their legs or wings broken, sometimes repeatedly — or, worse, be scalded to death.”

Mr. Kristof’s essay is not for the weak at heart so here are a few tidbits.

What’s striking about the undercover video, which Mercy for Animals plans to release on its website this weekend, is the speed of the assembly line, leading workers to fall behind in ways that inflict agony on the chickens. It’s a process that maximizes productivity and profits, and also pain.

Workers grab the birds and shove their legs upside down into metal shackles on a conveyor belt. The chickens are then carried upside down to an electrified bath that is meant to knock them unconscious. The conveyor belt then carries them — at a pace of more than two chickens per second — to a circular saw that cuts open their necks so that they bleed to death before they are scalded in hot water and their feathers plucked.

The Agriculture Department calculates that about 700,000 chickens a year in the United States are “not slaughtered correctly” — often a euphemism for being scalded to death.

The company that operates the slaughterhouse, Wayne Farms, said it had reviewed the video and found no evidence of abuse. A spokesman, Frank Singleton, said that the company uses “industry-standard methods of humane slaughter.”

Think about that. If a naughty boy pulls feathers out of a single chicken, he’s punished. But scald hundreds of thousands of chickens alive each year? That’s a business model.

Supposedly “dumb” animals don’t suffer less than “smarter” animals

Mr. Kristof also writes, “I raised chickens as a farmboy. They’re not as smart as pigs or as loyal as dogs, but they make great moms, can count (link is external) and have distinct personalities. They are not widgets.” I just want to point out, as have many others, that there is no relationship between intelligence and loyalty and suffering. Supposedly “dumber” animals do not suffer less than “smarter” animals (please see “Do ‘Smarter’ Dogs Really Suffer More than ‘Dumber’ Mice?” and “Are Pigs as Smart as Dogs and Does It Really Matter?“). Cross-species comparisons are fraught with error and each individual’s pain is her or his own pain.

I also like to ask the generic questions, “Would you do it to your dog?” or “Would you allow a dog to be treated like other mammals or food animals who are brutally tortured on the way to our mouth?” When I ask these questions some people are incredulous and ask me why I do so. For one, they point out the inconsistency with which we treat other animals and these questions have always yielded very valuable discussions and the emotional lives of the sentient beings with whom we interact in a wide variety of venues.

Pardon our obliviousness to the pain and suffering of other animals

Who (not what) we eat is on the minds of many people and the conclusion of a another essay in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristof called “Can We See Our Hypocrisy to Animals? (link is external)” is a good way to end this essay. Mr. Kristof writes, “May our descendants, when, in the future, they reflect uncomprehendingly on our abuse of hens and orcas, appreciate that we are good and decent people moving in the right direction, and show some compassion for our obliviousness.”

I’m thrilled to see these essays appearing in the New York Times and hope they really serve to make a change in how food animals are treated. I leave it to you to decide whether to read them, but be assured that when you eat chicken and other “food animals” you’re eating pain.Of course, the bottom line is that billions of food animals suffer the most enduring and deep pain as they’re brutalized to become meals, and we must stop this heinous treatment right now. We don’t need to wait for “the science” nor for politicians to get involved. Everyone can do this right now — today — simply by choosing other meal plans.

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservationWhy dogs hump and bees get depressed, and Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistenceThe Jane effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson) has recently been published. (marcbekoff.com; @MarcBekoff)

11 Grisly Requests From PETA President’s Will

Ingrid Newkirk’s unique will details the PETA founder and president’s final will and testament. Unlike most wills, Newkirk’s does not dwell on money or property. It does designate the bestowing of gifts to others, albeit in rather gruesome, unexpected, and pointed ways.

Ingrid E. Newkirk

Newkirk wants to continue her fight for animals even in death. Her instructions call attention to the suffering of animals in a number of areas, including in the meat industry, in the skins trade, in laboratories, and in circuses, hunts, and other forms of animal-based “entertainment.” If Newkirk’s plans for her remains seem gross to you, it’s time to realize how disgusting it is to do such things to other animals—and it’s time to go vegan.

1. Carve out and sear some of my flesh for a human barbecue.

Newkirk always says that when it comes to feelings, “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” If you wouldn’t carve out a chunk of a person’s flesh and throw it on the grill, why would you do the same to any other living being

2. Peel off my skin for the first voluntary lizard-skin purse.

No animal has ever willingly given his or her skin for a leather handbag, so Newkirk and her lizard-skin tattoo could be the first—and hopefully the last, considering the number of vegan leather options available.

3. Dismember my legs and fashion them into human umbrella stands.

As a child, Newkirk encountered a number of elephant-foot ornaments and tiger rugs in Delhi. It’s creepy and wrong to use body parts as household decorations.

4. Scoop out and mount an eyeball to watch over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

When it comes to animal testing, the EPA has been one of the worst offenders. Newkirk wants to keep her eye on the agency until it gives up its cruel practices and chooses to use the range of more accurate non-animal methods available.

5. Deliver my pointing finger to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Newkirk will thus cement the “Greatest Accusation on Earth” against Ringling for the extreme suffering endured by the circus’s captive elephants, big cats, and other animals.

6. Vacuum-pack my liver for use in a human foie gras dish for the French.

Foie gras is a nasty business where grain is forcibly pumped down ducks’ and geese’s throats several times a day in order to fatten their livers. Newkirk wants to appeal to French shoppers to stop supporting this cruelty.

7. Chop off my ears and fashion them into human hearing aids.

PETA will send one of Newkirk’s ears to the Canadian Parliament to encourage its members to hear the screams of animals who are skinned alive for the fur trade. Her other ear will go to the Deonar slaughterhouse in Mumbai to remind the world that the animals’ blood-curdling screams don’t stop at the slaughterhouse walls.

8. Sever a thumb and mount it as a “thumbs-up” plaque.

Newkirk wills her thumbs-up award to the greatest champion of animal rights in the year following her death.

9. Mount my other thumb to create a thumbs-down plaque.

Conversely, Newkirk wants her thumbs-down awarded to whoever most egregiously frightens or harms animals in the year after her death. Animal abusers beware.

10. Bury a piece of my heart at the Hockenheim race track.

Newkirk is a huge fan of Formula 1 racing and in particular of Michael Schumacher, who helped write letters for PETA campaigns in the past. Schumacher is a racer with a heart for animals, and Newkirk would like a piece of her heart buried at the track where this multiple world champion won the 1995 German Grand Prix.


11. PETA can use the rest of my body in ANY way that draws attention to animal suffering.

Newkirk wants PETA to use her additional body parts however it can to raise awareness of cruelty to animals. At the end of the day, it should be no worse to watch a human body go through these processes than to watch a suffering animal. We’re all animals, but humans have the ability prevent the unnecessary deaths of other animals just by making kind choices.


Which gruesome instruction shocked you the most? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter and tell us how we should use the rest of Newkirk’s body to raise awareness for animals!

In Defense of PETA: Compassion in a Callous Time for Human History


Written by Jesse Scaccia on 11 March 2015.

Last week Ringling Brothers, the most successful, long-running circus in the history of North America, announced that they would be ceasing the use of their signature attraction, elephants, by 2018. Ken Feld, the president of Ringling’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the New York Times, “There’s been, on the part of our consumers, a mood shift where they may not want to see elephants transported from city to city.”
Transported, of course, is something of a euphemism; these mythical beasts of the jungle are beaten to submission by nasty little weapons called bullhooks. The ‘mood’ Mr. Feld is claiming has shifted is nothing of the sort. What has changed is awareness: enough people know what the animals are put through, and with that knowledge comes a moral clarity that what’s happening is, without question, wrong.
Meet the mood shifters.
Daphna Nachminovitch and Laura Brown sat on the floor and let their faces be licked by the kind of puppies PETA’s critics will have you believe they are eager to kill. We were in PETA’s now infamous shelter, located at 501 Front St. here in Norfolk. Unlike many of the shelters I’ve visited across the country, PETA’s animal care units are spacious, calm, and well-attended with toys, food, and clean bedding. It’s also the only shelter I’ve ever been to that sits on the fourth floor of an office building, with cut out windows between the dogs, kittens, and bunnies and the employees working a few feet away.
Brown & Nachminovitch.
According to Nachminovitch, Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations, in 2014 alone PETA spent more than $1,000,000 on companion-animal services in Virginia and North Carolina. This included visiting and tending to more than 5,500 backyard dogs in 65 cities; helping more than 1,500 indigent families keep their animals by providing free medical services; custom-building and delivering 285 doghouses (6,138 total doghouses since the program’s inception in 1998); behavioral counselling for more than 2,500 people to help them keep their animals; and providing euthanasia services for more than 500 animals belonging to loving guardians desperate to alleviate their animal companions’ suffering.
“I don’t think people have a good idea of what we do here,” said Brown, a shelter specialist. “We’re here 12 hours a day, and on emergency pagers after that.”
Rachel Bellis works in cruelty investigations and, like many PETA employees, regularly takes a break to play with the animals. “Every animal is an individual. Every animal is looked at,” she said. “I’ve never worked with more compassionate and dedicated people in my life.”
It hasn’t been all puppies and kittens at PETA of late.
A recent incident that brought fresh attention–including an act by the Virginia General Assembly–to PETA’s shelter program was presented by the Pilot like a scene from a Stephen King story: “A little girl’s pet Chihuahua disappeared from her family’s mobile home on Virginia’s Eastern Shore…” What happened broke a number of PETA protocols: the dog was taken without speaking to the owner; the animal was euthanized prior to going through established processes, including not keeping the dog alive for 5 days, per state law. PETA since fired the contractor who violated these rules and has publicly apologized.

“It’s too complicated for a short sentence,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, told me when asked about PETA euthanizing animals at all. “That is what is happening, people want a soundbite and they reduce it to kill shelter or no kill.”

In order to understand the euthanizing at PETA, one must hold what might appear to be two contradictory concepts in their head at the same time: that one of the most prominent animal rights organizations in the world euthanizes animals, and that they do so while purporting that these acts strengthen, not dismiss, their ethical integrity.

In Newkirk’s own words:

“We weigh the situation from the animal’s perspective as best we can, as you would in any situation where you’re trying to help and abate suffering. Every animal we evaluate. If it’s an animal that is unlikely to be adopted, given that most people want small, fluffy, house-broken, and pleasant animals, or if the animal is crushed in an accident, or kept in a way that has made the animal unsocial or aggressive, or if the animal is on his or her last legs, or the time has just come, then euthanasia is a godsend. It’s a blessing. It’s a way to provide the most peaceful, traumaless exit. It’s a privilege to be able to give it to them.”

PETA, of course, did not cause the animal overpopulation problem. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in 2013, the total number of animals who entered VA shelters was 242,087, with 64,727 euthanized and 4,417 unassisted deaths. An unassisted death is the epitome of euphemism: these are animals under the care and custody of shelters they depend on to keep them from suffering and dying slowly, in pain. PETA’s spay/neuter program has serviced over 112,000 local animals over the past 10 years. Do some simple math and you realize that PETA has kept millions of animals off of our streets, out of our shelters, and never setting paw in clinics where euthanizing, sadly, must occur.

“We’d be hypocrites if we didn’t [euthanize],” Newkirk said. “We can’t ignore the animals around our office.”
The unnecessary death of the Chihuahua outshines, and to some, nullifies the major victories, like the big news about the elephants.

“If we’re fighting so hard to stop needless killing of even mice, why on earth would we wish to see anything but happiness and a loving home for any dog, or cat, or bird?” asked Newkirk. “It’s thoughtlessness that plays a role, and the nastiness and absolute bulling. Our poor girls who are out there helping out in the snow in the frigid weather… if people could see what they were doing, they’d be ashamed.”


Amanda Kyle, a field worker for PETA, was holding Soup, a Maltese mix who had been adopted from the Humane Society in Portsmouth, then two years later given up with the arrival of a new baby. When Soup was passed on to PETA she suffered from kidney disease, horribly matted-over genitals, urinary tract infection, fleas, ear and nasal infections, and rotten teeth (all but 3 teeth had to be removed). Like many animals left for PETA to take care of, without a miracle, there would be no happy ending for the likes of Soup. petta2Soup settled into Kyle’s lap. One of the lucky ones, Kyle had adopted her.”The vet gave her three months. I wanted her to feel joy,” Kyle said. “She was thrown away on Christmas eve. And this dog had been adopted and then abandoned, a ‘happy’ number for the shelter (whose priority is adoption statistics.)”The relationship between PETA and local shelters is a complicated one.

“I think of PETA does a lot of great things, there’s no question about it,” said Rob Blizzard, executive director of the Norfolk SPCA, which adopted out 770 animals last year. “I’ve been a big fan of their organization for years. I even had them in my will of charities I would leave money to. The question everyone’s asking is, why, with the huge amount of resources they have, isn’t more of an investment being made in those animals? It’s not that they’re not doing a lot of wonderful things, it’s that all of these animals being accepted, we just are not seeing the aggressive effort to adopt them out.”
At some point, it’s something of a numbers shell game–the Norfolk SPCA took in less than half the animals in 2014 it did in 2011, leaving one to wonder where our society expected those unaccounted for or turned away animals to end up. At some point, it’s something of a game of semantics–the Norfolk SPCA euthanizes around 5% of the animals it takes in.
“PETA has and will continue to make an effort to get adoptable animals adopted through our own doors and through transfers to other facilities, mostly the Virginia Beach SPCA,” said Nachminovitch. “Animals for adoption are routinely advertised online, via social media (on PETA’s pages and others’), in print publications, fliers, and more.”
PETA also makes a habit of taking on other city’s problem animals. Last year PETA accepted 249 feral cats from the City of Portsmouth. Up until recently the outgoing answering machine at a Portsmouth Police Department phone line dedicated to animal care instructed citizens to call PETA for help with feral cats.
Elsewhere in this building PETA employees are devoting their lives to protecting animals who are being sprayed with perfume and make-up products in their eyes and mouths; animals involved in experiments (in one test series alone PETA saved the lives of 4 million animals); animals used for entertainment (like the elephants who will no longer be beaten or paraded through the streets); and the billions of animals tortured and bloated full of antibiotics and growth hormones in the factory farming industry.
The scenes that play out in the factory farming industry are more horrifying than anything Stephen King ever wrote. Sweet little animals, tortured by the billions, because they don’t have the voices to speak for themselves, because they don’t have the hands to free themselves, because their don’t have the complicated collection of facial muscles to form frowns of distress that humans can recognize. They are tortured by the billions because they taste good.
To call the notion that people who work at PETA don’t actually love animals absurd is to give it too much credit. Like any organization of its size, PETA isn’t perfect, of course, and an amount of thoughtful criticism is not just expected, but helps them evolve. But what’s said about PETA is something very different. It’s a singular rancor, a vulgarity, a beguiling hatred that many in our society exhibit toward the group. It’s so intense–so screaming and pounding–that one gets the sense it is a din meant to distract from something else. It’s my junior psychologist interpretation that the maniacally intense pronouncements toward PETA are a projection of the way factory-farm supporting people subconsciously judge themselves.
Anti PETA by DelphiMember200
PETA, according to the Internet.
I offered this theory to Newkirk, who responded: “A friend of mine said, ‘How can you talk about killing dogs when your breath smells of dead animals, when your coat is made of dead animals, when you have shelves of products tested on animals… how can you talk about no kill?’ I do believe it’s a defensive reaction. Don’t tell me what to do, I’ll tell you what to do.”
The mood, as Mr. Feld from the circus might put it, has been slower to evolve surrounding some of the other issues that PETA advocates for, such as the humane treatment of the pigs that become the best part of a BLT, the cows that become our Big Macs, and the chickens that become our Chick fil A. What happens to these animals on the route to our plates is, to any moral being, sinfully inhumane. You, reading this, know it; you don’t need me to give you details or link to articles. The fact that the factory farming industry is an abomination against the supposedly evolved stature of our species has reached the collective consciousness, if it has not yet shifted the mood.

“It is always possible to wake someone from sleep, but there is no amount of noise that will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep,” wrote Jonathan Safran Foer in his spellbinding book, Eating Animals.

To recognize the central nobility of PETA’s work is to also acknowledge the central immorality of an industry, and food lifestyle, that can feel intractably interwoven with the way we see our country and ourselves.
It’s so much easier to hate than it is to go through the process of evolving, which is really, really hard.
When conversation turned to the euthanasia process, three of the four PETA employees gathered for the interview started to cry.
“It’s a big overdose of anesthesia,” said Brown. “We treat the animals like they’re our own. It’s the most precious gift I could give someone. I stand outside the door hearing people cry with their animals. I couldn’t image us not being there. Not just turning the animal away but the people away. We’re right there with them, grieving with them.”

Brown also does fieldwork for PETA, finding animals who are being abused, and helping them. They conservatively estimate that last year PETA employees put in over 25,000 hours in the field, where they regularly find animals humans have allowed to wallow at the doorstep of death. There can be love in death, and death in love. The nasty things people say about PETA affect Brown sometimes.
“You can’t help but take it personally,” she said. “But we’re laser focused on the animals. Throw at us what you want, and we’re still going to do the right thing for the animals. Of course it hurts. It’s scary to think about our services being limited. Even if you can’t be respectful of us… Don’t criticize us for those numbers when those are your numbers as well.”
Your numbers, my numbers, all of our numbers. In a perfect world there would be public money put toward rehabilitating every animal with behavioral problems, but that’s hard to imagine in a society that doesn’t rehabilitate its abused human children. In a perfect world there is money for surgeries for every sick animal, but that’s also hard to imagine in a country where so many vehemently oppose health care for all humans. These animals don’t get saved by leaving a comment online calling PETA the devil and then going back to daily life. Many of them, in fact, are beyond saving, it’s just that other facilities don’t have the guts–or moral certitude–to do it themselves.
We walked to the room where the animals spend their last final conscious moments on earth. “This is sacred territory,” a sign above the table reads. “Leave your stress and troubles at the door. In here, only the animals we serve matter.”

“Those animals stay with me. I have memories, and nightmares,” Brown said. “We’re there speaking for all of them.”

All the anger toward PETA, and the “kill vs. no kill debate,” is also a nightmare. The solutions to this problem are every pet being spayed or neutered; in no one ever getting a pet from a breeder or pet store as long as there are animals in shelters; in a sea change of compassion that recognizes the humanity of these animals–all animals–who love us so damn much.

“If all of the energy targeted toward PETA was put toward solving the crisis…” said Nachminovitch, “it’s the animals who would actually benefit.”

When I asked Newkirk what three words she would want to come to mind when the average person thinks of PETA, she said, “Kindness, kindness, kindness.”
And the mood continues to shift, mirroring the lived compassion of humans, the glow of soul we share with all of the animals whose pain we recognize, and soothe.
Anyone interested in fostering or adopting is encouraged to contact PETA at adopt@peta.org This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .