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 ‘power’

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.

Recycled Speciesism

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Here is a good example of why people think veganism is a vain, shallow or pointless endeavor.  And here is another way to discuss why that perception is incorrect.

When discussing veganism with people, you  may encounter someone who brushes aside the idea because “it’s just another way of doing something good.”  They will cite examples such as recycling, buying fair trade coffee, and composting to reduce waste as equally useful and compelling steps toward improving our planet.

At first, it sounds reasonable, especially if you are vegan to improve your health, lower your cholesterol, “go green,” or meet some other end or reach some other status.

Let me ask you something.  If you were taking about the rape and murder of human children, could you imagine anyone even trying to compare those atrocities with recycling?  With buying fair trade coffee?  Of course not.  Because juxtaposing suffering and death next to tossing your Pepsi can in a green bin is ridiculous.

This is the kind of power thinking like a speciesist (or racist or sexist) exerts over the ability to think clearly.  And this is exactly why these people think vegans are flakes.

Wouldn’t you?  Imagine a rabid acolyte telling you that recycling is so important, everyone should be doing it, you’re a monster if you don’t do it, and don’t you even care that some city you’ve never heard of is ugly due to plastic water bottles?  Sure, you might think, but why all the theatrics?  You do your part.  Isn’t that good enough?

Bring it back to the speciesism.  Highlight it.  Don’t be distracted by minutia.  Don’t fall into the pointless trap of debating how many tons of carbon are squirting out of an organic beet farm, how many thousands of studies have come out this week showing eating animal meat will clog your veins and give you cancer (if you don’t get sick from E. coli or salmonella first).  All that is true, but is misses the point.

Common do-goodery has no place in comparison to the killing of animals, human or not.

Last Screams: The Death of a Lady

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

This is a true story about a human couple who capture and ritualistically murder another living being. I’ve altered some of the details, embellishing here and omitting there, but the events are the same. At the bottom of this horrific tale is a link to the original.

Our friend James caught our neighbor, Tina, a young mother of two, and put her in a hay-lined waxed-cardboard box. She calmed down and sat quietly in the box. I sat reading in my farm’s greenhouse, waiting for Daniel to come back from a trip to the city, and Tina waited with me, her head sticking through a gap in the top of the box. She was funny, maybe even cute. I tried not to get attached.

We took her to Daniel’s parents’ house and left her in the box in the garage overnight. No hawks or foxes in there. And we’d read about imposing a 12-hour fast (advantage: a cleaner digestive tract), so no food. In the morning, she looked content. She had just menstruated and held out a wad of cash, which made me very sad. She wanted to coexist with us. To feed us, if we fed her. Daniel reminded me that in the winter, without a job, her income would probably drop significantly. I sighed. He was right.

So we bound her feet with a rope—she was surprisingly calm—and hung her upside-down from a tree limb. We’d heated a large pot of water to 150 degrees and set it on the ground nearby. We were ready.

Daniel held her head in one hand and took a straight-edge razor to her throat. In retrospect, a knife would have been better. More leverage. With just the blade, the first cut drew blood, but it didn’t go far enough. Daniel sliced again, and a stream of blood dripped to the ground. The sources we’d consulted recommended leaving the head on at first, to prevent a surge of adrenaline that might toughen the meat.

Tina opened her eyes every minute or so, fluttered her lids, and closed them.

After three or four minutes, I broke the solemn silence: “It’s weird that she’s not flailing.” Then she did flail, but just for a few seconds. Blood splattered on my pants and on Daniel’s face, which made him, in a hooded sweatshirt, look like a murderer.

When we could no longer feel a heartbeat, we untied her, cut off her head, and submerged her in the pot. That made stripping her down easier, and we sloughed off her shorts and socks, flinging them off our cold, wet fingers. With the clothes gone, her hair remained, and we tried to pull out all of those, too. By that point, the carcass looked more or less like what you see in any depraved cannibal’s village. Clothes: living being. No clothes: food. I didn’t feel sentimental anymore.
We took Tina’s body into the kitchen, chopped off her feet and neck, and slit around her anus, the all-purpose lower hole. We followed instructions and a diagram on a laptop screen; I made a ventral T-shape cut and reached into the warm cavity to pull out the organs. (Because of the prior slit, the intestines came out with the vent attached.) The whole process reminded me of my anatomy lab in college.

Otherwise, it wasn’t so bad. I tried to feel regular, not righteous about it, especially after a friend forwarded me some quotes. One was from the founder of the Institute of Urban Homesteading: “The level of appreciation for nature and life when you slaughter your own meat creates a kind of ethic that I think is what we need to save the world.” Reese rolls her eyes; she kills a girl and calls it messy and mundane.

I hear her, but I’m still glad we did it. I confirmed my weird personal right to consume another living being, and I do feel more conscious about meat-eating in general. Dare I sound new-age? I feel more mindful. Our little neighbor girl was very much on my mind as we ate her. Nursing mothers don’t have much meat on them, but the broth and the few shreds were savory and satisfying.

Here is a link to the original story as written by the author.

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.