Number of animals killed in the world by the meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage. This does not include the billions of fish and other aquatic animals killed annually.

Based on 2007 statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' Global Livestock Production and Health Atlas.

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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

The Journey to Veganism

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Professor Francione puts it best here. Also, I’m testing Facebook “Embed This Post” feature.

Top Ten Lies I Hear

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Inspired by the currently trending #Top10Lies Twitter hashtag, here are the ones I hear most about vegan diets, motives and vegans themselves.

  1. “Veganism is expensive.” I build muscle on $4 a day. Grains, legumes, beans, veggies, etc., are incredibly affordable and nearly all the recipes can be cooked quicker than you can drive to a restaurant.
  2. “Vegans are elitist.” There is nothing more elitist than subjugating innocent beings and killing their children because you prefer the way their milk tastes.
  3. “Vegan diets just aren’t healthy.” This nearly always follows someone assuming you went vegan ‘for health reasons,’ and then trying to find some criticism when you tell them you stopped eating animals for ethical reasons. Vegan diets are incredibly healthy.
  4. “Plants feel pain, too.” You have to be out of touch with reality to utter this as a reason to eat animals. To produce a plate of animal-based food, you have to spend 20 plates of plant-based food and a tremendous amount of water. Eating animals means eating, by proxy, 20 times as many plants as a vegan does. Plants do not have any nervous systems.
  5. “Vegans cram their beliefs down other people’s throats.” No, foie gras is cramming your beliefs down throats.
  6. “Vegans are weak little waifs.” I can’t speak for Mac Danzig, Brendan Brazier and Robert Cheek, but they are not waifs. Anecdotally, I have been vegan four years and I still squat twice my body weight. Vegans are just people. If they lift weights and eat right, they get big. If they argue on the internet all day, they get pasty and skinny (or fat), just like meat eaters.
  7. “All vegans love PeTA and are domestic terrorists.” No, vegans want you to live longer, healthier, and to stop exploiting animals. Shoving 1,100 pigs down a killing line per day is a terror factory. PeTA has as much to do with vegans as the National Rifle Association has to do with eating chicken.
  8. “It’s too hard to be vegan.” Too hard to shove food in your face? Too hard to say ‘vegetable fajitas’ instead of ‘chicken fajitas’ when you are eating at a Mexican place? The ‘too hard’ excuse reminds me of all the excuses I heard when I was a personal trainer.
  9. “You can only get protein from tofu.” Tofu has protein, but you don’t need tofu to get all the protein you need. The world has gone protein crazy. People have been convinced through protein suppliers that a human needs 50g of cow-based juice every 3 hours or they will shrivel up and die. Don’t believe the hype. Do some research. You’ll be fine.
  10. “Growing plants causes field mice to be killed, therefore eating animals is okay, and vegans are hypocrites.” People forget that it takes tremendous amounts of plant material to feed 56 billion land animals every year. More field mice are killed feeding meat eaters than feeding vegans. And the idea that accidental harm justifies intentional and unnecessary harm is just stupid.

This update is a little grumpier and less polished than most of mine, so if I’ve offended you, please go vegan.

Seeds

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Who could predict this thriving, fantastic outcome based only on looking at the seeds?

All seeds for one plant pretty much look alike and, until we engage them, all people’s minds pretty much look alike as well. We sometimes make the mistake of assuming people are completely closed off to veganism when in fact they are not. And sometimes we spend all our time trying to educate completely disinterested captives (coworkers, family members, schoolmates).

But regardless of success or failure, we should never be discouraged, because that next vegan blogger, fitness guru, grandma or executive is probably not going to come from where you imagine.

People will surprise you. The man you would never discuss veganism with because of his demeanor or background might actually be completely disgusted with meat, only able to eat carefully disguised bodies in the form of hamburgers or nuggets. Or you might just catch him at a particularly receptive moment. The sweet vegetarian mother of two active children might just be completely shut off to the idea of animal rights, with no concern for the direct relationship between cheese and veal. We never really know until we engage others.

We should approach every opportunity for advocacy as the sowing of a new seed. Even when speaking about veganism with people who have heard it before, consider that maybe circumstances have changed.

The sprouts from nonviolent, intelligent discussions are fantastically creative and different and inspiring for each person.

All growth requires a little seed, or seed energy, and steady nurturing. As advocates for peace and justice, vegans are asking people to grow and expand their circles of consideration. And if the animal’s lives mean anything to us, they should mean, at a minimum, the willingness to engage people in whatever comfortable way we feel is appropriate.

Let us be kind and honest with people and about the animals we represent. We don’t need bullhorns, we need dinner parties.

The Hidden Vegan Agenda

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
A Dog on the Beach in a Sombrero

The hidden vegan agenda: having fun and being kind.

People say “veganism has a hidden agenda.”

Every aspect of animal consumption and slaughter takes place with a hidden agenda.

Starting with our children, we hide the truth about what the animals feel. We tell them that animals are meant for us to kill, that we are showing the animals “respect,” that the animals don’t feel anything at all. We tell our children that it is okay to murder other children, just not human ones. We hide the videos of dairy cows butchered because their tired glands cannot produce milk at a profitable rate any more. Our agenda is teaching children to eat meat and dairy and, to teach them this, we must hide the truth lest it trigger their natural feelings of disgust, sadness and horror.

A child who pleases himself by burning dogs with a blowtorch[1] is considered highly troubled and possibly insane. A child who pleases himself by eating chicken nuggets is considered normal. Who created this illogical schism? We did.

As a slightly more risque comparison: for good reasons we do not want our children to have sex. We would never show them sexual videos. Likewise, we hide videos of animal slaughter from our children. The difference is we want our children contributing to the slaughter, we just don’t want them knowing that’s what they’re doing until they’re too set in their ways. This is indoctrination, and is the most obvious kind of hidden agenda.

From the animals as babies, we hide our intentions behind a lifetime of feeding and tending. But as we pet them and guide their faces to their food, we give no hint about their grisly fate. Maybe in some perfect world with unlimited resources and space, we could populate the thousands of square miles it would take to hold the billions of Free Range Animals. And even in those rolling hills, with their perfect weather and clean, fresh water, we would be hiding the agenda of killing them. Every. Single. One.

Maybe, in the dark, jammed, hellish corridors of factory farms, these animals have a good idea. But even then, likely they do not know what’s in the next building. In the slaughterhouses, we hide the upcoming rooms from the animals with twisting, angled chutes. We do not want them causing a ruckus and damaging the product, their flesh, or the machines which grind them into it. Our agenda, as always, is profit.

For the final act, we hide our agenda of clumsily missing with an underpowered stun bolt, skinning the animals alive, horse, cow and bear. We hide what’ saround the next corner, becasuse if the animals knew, they’d run[link to youtube turnaround vid] in rightful panic. Run as far as they could, at least. And maybe someone would be there to “rescue this brave little guy”[2].

From the public, we hide the lagoons of shit that leak bacteria and diseases into the water supply. We cover up the sources of E. coli and salmonella, nearly always from animals, and claim that there is an “outbreak” in tomatoes, spinach, or whatever other crop was unlucky enough to be near the factory farm run-off[3].

From the public, we hide what goes on behind the factory walls. We hire illegal migrant workers and abuse them, knowing there is little to no recourse they can legally take. From the workers we hide our trump card: turn them over to INS if they so much as squeak.

Most obviously, the slaughter is done in secrecy, hidden from the delicate and refined senses of the consumers, for as Paul McCartney says, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a [vegan].”[4] (He says vegetarian, I say vegan).

The killers themselves are the modern equivalents of slaves forced to do the dirty deeds[5]. They must shield their psyches from the disgusting and unnatural acts they commit. Nearly all workers report that they “can’t think of it like a living being, it’s just an it, just a machine that makes noise, because otherwise you’d go crazy.” These are adults, and they must hide from themselves what they are doing. The agenda? Staying sane while making a dollar. If we did not demand meat, we would not create jobs for butchers.

As consumers, we even try to hide the reality of the products we claim to want to ingest. We cannot, at every meal, with every bite, sanely contemplate the source. So the body parts come packaged in little red and pink squares, de-boned, de-veined, bloodless, not too fatty, salted, cooked, and spiced. They are shaped into nuggets, patties, hot dog tubes and McRiblets. Even their names are hidden. It’s not a baby, it’s “veal.” It’s not mentrual cycle excess, it’s an “omelette.” Pork, poultry, beef, and so on. We don’t want to remind each other of what it is, where it came from.

At the most basic psychological level, we don’t even want to admit that it was a who.

Contrast this with eating a plant-based diet. There is nothing hidden about veganism. Everything we grow, everything we eat and discuss, is quite literally out in the open with anyone at any age.

Things to See:

These aren’t all strictly citations, as some just expand on the point I made:

  1. Simon the Sadist
  2. Typical article about escapees.
  3. Google results for factory farm runoff lagoon
  4. Paul McCartney video
  5. Blood, Sweat and Fear, from Human Rights Watch. Jump to about page 165.

Ignorance, Bliss and Morphine

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Ignorance is bliss. We’ve heard that before.

Is it blissful to stay ignorant of animal suffering? Maybe. But who among us is truly ignorant that animals suffer at our hands? On this topic most of all, 99% of us live in a state of willful ignorance.

Intentionally denying and ignoring the truth is willful ignorance, and is anything but bliss. Willful ignorance is artificial numbness. Numbness to what? To the pain caused by refusing to act.

The truth does not set us free. Not from this kind of pain. Simply knowing the truth about suffering does not set anyone free. Acting on the truth does.
The truth is that we all have the power to alleviate the suffering of sentient beings. Knowing this truth and taking no action causes our own suffering. Intentionally contributing to the unnecessary misery of others puts a heavy burden on us, and it takes a lot of energy to deal with.

Nope, nope, don't feel a thing. Nope.

Willful ignorance is like taking morphine rather than removing your hand from the stove, as if in a state of paralysis. The burning is knowing we can help someone with very little effort on our own parts, and not doing it. The paralysis binds us to our own suffering, and will not depart until we take action.

Compassion does not exist thought alone; that is called fantasizing.

In the case of eating, wearing, experimenting on and otherwise using animals, we actually can change their fates. We can reduce the demand for them as inbred Yorkshire puppies, as easter bunnies, as cows turned to “steak” and lobsters into bisque.

Willful ignorance compounds the suffering. Maintaining willfull ignorance requires great amounts of energy, because every time we kill one animal but keep another as a companion, we contribute to a split personality, and we reinforce the paralysis that keeps us tied to the stove, burning ourselves.

Why would someone stay in this state?

It’s not because they’re evil. It’s not because they’re stupid.

They’re scared.

Replacing meat and dairy requires making changes.

Making changes requires exploring the unknown.

Fear is always about what’s coming. It’s never about what’s here, what’s happening now.

Most of all, I think, people fear the lack of “payoff” of veganism. Pizzas and hamburgers are bound to nearly limitless cultural references, habits and memories. Will vegan pizzas be better? Will the soy milk taste just as good as the kind the posters tell us the mothers happily give up to their benevolent, caring, and gentle human masters?

That’s the funny part. People really do not know. Here we are, as vegans, eating delicious, affordable, compassionate meals that could literally be grown in hydroponic labs in the most cramped of space stations. And our friends, relatives and neighbors really do not know how good our lives are, how little we’ve had to give up. They simply don’t get it.

All because they’re afraid of giving up hamburgers.

Help two someones out, and share your meals. You’re helping the animal and you’re helping the human animal who grabs your tupperware. Cook a little extra, and give away food without asking permission first. Who cares if it’s not perfect?

It’s up to us to help people take their hands off the stove.