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 ‘exploitation’

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.

Well, It Could Have Been Worse

Saturday, March 19th, 2011
Crime

This scene is acceptable because it could have been worse. The attacker could have been driving a dump truck over infants while shooting the man on the left. That imaginary scenario makes everything better.

The could-be-worse reasoning is applied every day to attempt justify exploiting cows, chickens, geese, sheep, mice, rats, dogs, elephants, women, minorities, the old and the young.  With animals, people compare current, “humane” slaughter methods to some horrible alternative, and then state that snuffing out the life of an enslaved, helpless creature is now honorable and free from any moral condemnation.

Let’s go back to the analogy of theft.  If I steal your television, I don’t get out of jail by stating I could have also emptied your bank account.  When we do something wrong, we do something wrong.  It’s as simple as that.

Moral relativity to encourage animal exploitation is simple manipulation to keep us dim-witted and spend-thrifted (say that five times fast).  Many people want to believe they can make a difference without changing a thing.  As Gary Francione says, the “happy meat” and “humane” slaughter ideas are nothing more than the modern day equivalent of the church selling indulgences.

When we hear ourselves or others saying, “well at least I buy organic eggs,” or “at least this was free-range beef,” we need to remember that those allegedly great strides in animal freedom are illusions.  We do not free animals by encouraging people to eat more of them.  “Free range”, “grass fed”, “organic” and “humane” labels encourage consumption.  These labels move us in the exact opposite direction of liberation and justice.

At the core of this issue is the notion that people are still okay with using the animals, it’s the “excessive” suffering they’re uncomfortable with.  This is simple speciesism.  Except in extremely trivial cases, no one would wave away a crime against a human because “it could have been worse.”  That would not even work in small claims court.  When the crime is against those who cannot speak for themselves, it seems, we sing a different tune.

The could-have-been-worse perspective backfires on meat eaters and works against exploiting animals; we can always define “do not interfere with them at all” as the relative comparison.  Why must the relative marker be placed closer to torture, and not closer to amnesty?  Easy:

The goal of arguing in favor of exploiting animals is never on behalf of the animals.

It is our duty to remind people that treatment does not need to be “worse than” to be wrong.  Slavery is slavery.  Nutrition options exist.  Let’s use our options, not individuals.

No justice exists when crimes are dismissed by simply dreaming up “worse” crimes that could have happened instead.

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.

Welfarism is Speciesist

Friday, July 16th, 2010
Hmm, well, at least the killer gave her a car and a nice home for a while. That's ethical, sustainable and compassionate.

Hmm, well, at least the killer gave her a car and a nice home for a while. That's ethical, sustainable and compassionate.

Take a moment to understand how speciesist welfarism truly is.

All that welfarism (“make the cows happier before we kill them!”) does is make people feel better about consuming them.  It does absolutely nothing to reduce demand, and demand is the problem.

Cage free eggs?  Bullshit.  Organic milk?  Bullshit.  None of this reduces demand.  And, furthermore, they are typically lies.  I wish I was making this up.

Demand is the problem.  A soft room with Mozart playing while chickens are gassed to death is ridiculous and accomplishes nothing.

For every dollar and every minute spent making chickens “happier” during their torture, that is one dollar and one minute not spent educating people about how unbelievably easy it is to go vegan.

I’m sorry if this rant annoys you, but it really irritates me when good, sane, helpful, caring people get sucked into welfarist beliefs.  Providing bigger, comfier cages is completely counter-productive.  There is absolutely no evidence that it does anything to move us toward zero animal use.

Now – why is a welfarist attitude speciesist?

Because you would never, ever suggest to a human mother of four children that it’s okay for your company to enslave and beat her children simply because they’ll be on a nice plantation with lots of room to move around.  You would never tell her that child abuse “isn’t going away any time soon, so we might as well make things as nice for the children as we can.”

If your suggestions are barbaric and nonsensical when inflicted on humans, they are barbaric and nonsensical when inflicted on any sentient being.

What if the Killing Was Painless?

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

People ask me how I would feel if the cows, chickens, geese, salmon, buffalo, ducks, salamanders, crocodiles, sheep, turkeys, goats, camels and dodo birds were killed painlessly. Would it be okay to eat the animals then?

Pain is irrelevant. There are four strong reasons that taking the life of a sentient being against her will is not justified simply because the method is painless.

First, she is being deprived of her further experiences. I rank this first because there is absolutely no working around it. If someone removes your mother from this world against her will, she will never again experience anything. The timeline is cut and cannot be mended. The presence or absence of pain caused by murder is irrelevant.

Second, killing a nonhuman is the murder of an innocent. This is unjust. The method of murder is irrelevant to result from the crime.

Third, it is a speciesist notion that murdering a chicken is acceptable while doing the same to a human is unacceptable. Modern-day court systems would not permit the murder of red-haired children or black children, because those kinds of appeals are racist, illogical nonsense. Like racism, all defenses of speciesism are faulty, if not absurd.

And forth, it removes her from her family. They absolutely will notice her untimely departure. At the idea of sparing one animal from physical suffering, you create suffering in the members of her family who mourn her. (This point could be argued against by suggesting we engineer single animals with no parents or siblings from test tubes; that we kill all the families and friends together at once; or otherwise engage in sterile yet psychotic behavior. The problem with these ‘solutions’ is obvious: they are speciesist. If these acts were committed against humans, it would be like a scene from a horror movie.)

You already know these answers, of course. Replace the nonhuman in your question with a human. Then, the reasons why we must show compassion are endless.

Gelatin

Monday, April 19th, 2010
"... aaaand that's why they call it Jell-O." -- Penny-Arcade

"... aaaand that's why they call it Jell-o." -- Penny-Arcade

Products like Jell-O and some kinds of desserts use gelatin for texture. Gelatin is made from pieces of animal corpses. Typically, it is the collagen extracted from bones and skin.

Some people believe it is okay to use gelatin, since the animal was going to be killed for her flesh anyway. That is, they believe it is okay to use product X taken from a non-human animal because she was already scheduled to be killed for product Y.

In other words, since I’m already raping you, I might as well steal your toaster when I’m done. That makes stealing your toaster morally acceptable, doesn’t it?

Of course not. But placing the crime into a human framework, equating the suffering and feelings of Us with the suffering and feelings of Them, will still cause many people (even some vegans) to hesitate.

Logically, it cannot be refuted that stealing a toaster is anything but stealing, regardless of the crimes you commit against the owner (and who owns her tendons and ligaments more than the calf, the pig or the dog?).

When a Snargleplexonian beams down to your kitchen to commit a crime against you, Multiplexing you into tasty pink oblivion, this horrific act is not an act exonerated if he also depletes you of your savings, land, and Iron Maiden posters. Conversely, depleting you of your Iron Maiden posters is not exonerated if he kills you first.

Clearly not trying to impress you with fancy words and references to metal bands, I can sum it up with: Two wrongs do not make a right. Not two Snargleplexonian wrongs against you, and especially not two human wrongs against non-human animals.
If you believe that living beings are worthy of moral consideration, and you do not wish them to suffer, then you must not advocate any demand for their flesh, secretions, fur, behavior (as entertainment), utility (such as pulling your romantic buggies through Cozumel), and so on. You must not consume them as products.

Let’s get real nerdy and illustrate some specific misconceptions with the thought of consuming gelatin (or any other “by”-product from a corpse):

  • “Gelatin is different from other products taken from the corpse.” — False. Demanding gelatin places the same death sentence on her as does demanding her muscle tissue.
  • “She would be killed anyway.” — False. The human demand for her flesh and milk condemns her. Remove the demand and you will prevent the killing.
  • “As long as we’re nice to her first, it’s okay to kill her.” — False. Treating someone nicely and then murdering them does not free you from the crime. This doesn’t make sense with a space alien blasting you to bits. It doesn’t make any more sense when you’re a human being subjugating a helpless little piglet.
  • People are always going to eat meat, so why worry about gelatin?” — False. People are not going to always eat meat any more than people will always own slaves.
  • You pick your battles, like meat and gelatin, but I focus on other things, like donating to charities and helping my mother weed her garden. It all balances out. — False. I do not murder people, nor would I ever state that abstaining from murdering humans takes too much time or is too inconvenient. The same is true for non-human animals. Comparing do-goodery with veganism is a mistake. More on this topic here.

Some want to believe that consuming gelatin is a more or less innocent act, but even those sterile, generic-looking little packets of gelatin increase demand. Any demand for a good or service from living beings places monetary value on their lives. This is true for pigs, cows, geese, dogs, cats and even human beings. Here are four examples where the demand for “by-products” body parts has created wholesale slaughter, even when the meat and skins are not eaten:

  • Bison tongues: The honorable Sioux slaughtered somewhere between one and two thousand buffalo purely for their tongues. For what? To trade for whiskey.
  • Shark fins: Surely you’ve heard of shark fin soup? Well the whole shark is too damn heavy, so people just lift him up, cut the fin off, and toss him back in the water to bleed to death.
  • Elephant tusks: Outlawed. Still being hunted. Still being sold as “pre-outlaw” ivory. As long as you buy ivory, people will shoot elephant children and mothers for you.
  • Rabbit eyes: Sadly, still attached to the rabbit, eyes are sprayed with toxic chemicals to help people understand human accidentally spray themselves in the face with caustic goods. Really, guys? You can’t find anything else?

I hope these examples give you an idea of how any demand for the body parts of living beings is a very, very bad idea.

Solutions

And here you thought I was just going to cry my little vegan eyes out while offering no alternatives to gelatin. Hardly! Next time you’re thinking about buying a packet of the stuff, put it down. Get some of this, instead:

It’s not acceptable to inflict suffering and death onto animals by consuming them. With the above solutions, you do not need to exploit animals to get gelatin. You can have the foods you enjoy, while not contributing to the mass murder of innocents.

Now for a final comparison as equally disgusting and reprehensible as consuming human or non-human animal corpses. The next time someone asks you why using gelatin isn’t “okay,” ask them: Would it be okay to wear leather coats made from the skin of human prisoners of war? They “were dead anyway,” right?

As an aside, Penny-Arcade calls gelatin what it is.

Related posts: Recycled Speciesism

What Kind of Man is Afraid to Look at the Consequences of His Actions?

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Why does it matter to honestly reflect on your food? Contrasting bond-building with meat-eating.

The food on our plates radiates information upward and, if the message can make it through the thick, pink, mind-controlling layers of our tongues, it may very well lodge in our brains (likely into a wrinkle next to the Indiana Jones theme song).

What messages are your meals radiating?

Think of Valentine’s Day on Snargleplexon. The buttered corpse of the Gerber Baby mouths an organic apple crammed in his maw. Two green aliens coo over each other while, on their plates, the ribs of other human babies lay steaming, slathered in barbecue sauce.

Silly, isn’t it? Grotesque, even. Certainly not romantic.

Yet plenty of human couples renew their bonds over steak, veal and chicken dinners on anniversaries, during first dates, on holidays, and in celebration of other major events such as graduation, retirement, births and even, maybe as the ultimate in irony, at funerals where we grieve the loss of a loved one.

How is a “traditional” steak dinner any less disturbing or comical than the Snargleplexonians munching on human infants? The charred remains of a raped and murdered mother send a strong message, but is anyone listening when that mother is “just a cow?” It would pain us to contemplate the misery she endured.

So what do most of us do? Most of us block out those thoughts. There we sit, in love, holding hands and misquoting bad poetry while below us the salty, pink pools of diluted blood leak across our plates.

Why It Matters

We are not machines. Thoughts are not compartmentalized units of cogitation. They do not sit neatly in one activity, cleanly boxed-in with no spill-over into the next. Consciousness is messy and defies entrapment. Thoughts wander. Feelings simmer for hours, weeks, years. We fall into habits, and through habits we reinforce whatever stokes them.

Turning a blind eye to the suffering of the weak, to those most vulnerable, means becoming callous and indifferent in other areas as well. Rehearsing a state of mind multiple times per day makes it easier to enter that state. Denying and repressing thoughts of the suffering your culinary whims are causing will spill into other parts of your life.

The result of training is reflexive action. You cannot control your reflexes. Why would you train yourself to reflexively deny and repress feelings of compassion? Compassion aside, why would you train yourself to ignore the truth? What kind of man is afraid to look at the consequences of his actions?

If thinking about your dinner disturbs you, and you eat it anyway, something is very wrong.

What does it say about us if we are afraid to contemplate the origins of that which give us the greatest pleasure?

Kick the animal bits off your plate and replace them with tasty plant alternatives. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s fun to eat something new and different.

Romance, friendship, family bonds, and the meals over which they all blossom, must be an expression of joy – all the way to their sources. When you eat vegan meals, you are free.