This short, non graphic video documents my visit to a live poultry market in Chicago. I posed as someone interested in having a business like theirs and asked if I could take some photos. They agreed. I then just let the video roll. What I found was even worse than I would have imagined. The only way to describe this place is a squalid hell on earth with a level of suffering I had never seen before. Shops like this are marketed as the “buy local,” “sustainable,” “free range,” “pasture-raised” and “organic” alternatives to factory farming.
Voltaire once wrote, “If we believe absurdities, we will commit atrocities,” and nowhere is this principle seen more clearly than in the billion dollar lies and bizarre cruelties of the dairy industry. It is a testament to the power of dairy advertising that otherwise intelligent adults can be made to believe that it is not only natural, but necessary to drink the breast milk of another species. In trying to expose this absurdity, one encounters even more absurd defenses and practices. This video is a perfect example, demonstrating the heartless cruelties visited on animals in the dairy industry.
When we first heard about the Dalai Lama event in Louisville, what struck us most was the venue where his teachings on “Engaging Compassion” would be held: the Kentucky Fried Chicken YUM! Center. We began brainstorming as to how His Holiness could reconcile his message of compassion with the decidedly uncompassionate corporate sponsorship of the venue where he’s delivering it.
I had an unexpected visit from a new neighbor and her two children who were really interested in meeting the Free from Harm chickens. The mother, Joanna, had taken her children to a working farm called Prairie Crossing where they have “free range” organically-raised hens. This gave them an opportunity to compare what life is like for chickens on a small organic working farm to my backyard urban sanctuary, as I like to call it.
We create our human ecology with our behavior. This is how we establish relationships with our external environment that includes other people, individuals from other species, and the entirety of ecosystems. Our behavior and the relationships that arise from it are at the center of every issue that troubles us: human overpopulation, loss of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, poverty, the violated rights of individuals from other species, climate change, waste, and social and economic injustice, to name a few. The good news is that we can make better choices.
On Mother’s Day, we honor mothers, motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Attachment Theory, a theory of child development, recognizes the importance of the relationship between a child and her primary caregiver. John Bowlby, affectionately referred to as the father of Attachment Theory, developed this theory by studying evolutionary biology and ethology, in addition to psychology. In fact, it was Lorenz’s imprinting study with geese that showed that attachment behavior is innate and important for survival.
Artificial insemination (A.I.) is the most common method of breeding dairy cows in the United States, accounting for nearly 80% of all dairy cow pregnancies. (1) Like all mammals, cows must give birth in order to produce milk. Around 10 months after calving, the quantity of milk that dairy cows produce decreases substantially. (2) In order to achieve profitable milk yields, dairy producers re-impregnate cows once a year after a short period of “drying off.”
While vegans often hear from non vegans that the vegan lifestyle is “not for them,” the new leader of a company that sells vegan products to at least a majority vegan customer base should be held to a higher standard and perhaps a more thoughtful and courageous assessment of what veganism is all about. Instead Bate’s makes a transparent appeal to the majority, a majority that is grossly misinformed about the true ethical and ecological impacts of their food choices.
This a moving, non graphic video that tells the magnificent story of one farmer of caged egg laying chickens who apparently had a change of heart and released them to Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary in Australia. For the first time in their lives, the rescued chickens in this video are getting an opportunity to exhibit their natural behaviors. The video highlights some of the chicken’s most basic pleasures in life: stretching and flapping their wing, sunbathing, dustbathing, scratching in the earth and forming social bonds with others in their flock.
Professor Tibor Machan, a leading opponent of animal rights, cites the example of a mother tiger eating her cubs as evidence of the absence of morality in animals (1). And he claims that rights don’t exist for animals because of their lack of morality. He could have just as easily cited a number of other examples where animals show a high level of empathy toward one another, like a mother cow licking her calf.
Danita displays a strong interest in protecting her flock. Her actions would seem to reflect that she has a sense of moral duty to her flock. But the way she acts to protect her flock is not based on instinct or the carrying out of a repetitive and thoughtless action. On the contrary, the way she responds to a perceived danger to the flock varies in each situation that she is presented with. It also varies based on her disposition that day. It seems reasonable to conclude that she is making executive decisions based on a variety of circumstances unique to each situation.
While visiting a busy garden center today, I almost walked right past this goat who was watching me and everyone else intently. His eyes pleaded with us for attention, but no one even knew he was there. He didn’t utter a sound or move around much at all. Maybe people just thought he was a landscaping statue. I was at first delighted to discover him there. As I approached him, though, I sensed a very lonely perhaps neglected animal, in a small lot attached to a dilapidated old house and no one in sight.
In this short and concise video clip, Francione astutely describes the root of our problem with animals which is also the basis for his theory of animal rights. We say we believe that animals should not be harmed unnecessarily and yet 99% of our use of animals can only be described as unnecessary and pleasure-based. “The best justification we have for inflicting pain, suffering and death on 10 billion animals a year is that they taste good. I regard that as moral schizophrenia.”
Just when I thought I knew all the common, standard industry practices in dairy farming, I find something even more bizarre and cruel. The sound in this video is said to be “turned off” since it is for “trade show purposes” but one wonders if the sound of the cows confined to stalls and having their udders torched would reveal how unpleasant this experience is for the animals. The claim that the cows feel no pain from having a flame in contact with their sensitive udders is “udderly” ridiculous. We share the same kind of pain receptors with cows.
“Animal agriculturalists, chefs, and consumers desperately want to believe the myth that animal products labeled organic, humane, and sustainable are morally and ecologically defensible. They promote the washings as cover for their beliefs. They choose not to see the abusive and unsustainable nature of meat, dairy, and eggs. They pledge allegiance to an adjustment to factory farming, nothing more.”
Lee Hall, the Vice President of Legal Affairs at Friends of Animals, provides a great answer to the question, why care about animal rights? Hall’s clip is part of series called Exploring Rights for Animals by Gooseberry Productions. Hall is the author of On Their Own Terms, Capers in the Churchyard: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror and Dining with Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine. You can follow her on twitter at VeganMeans or visit the Friends of Animals vegan website by the same name.
When a Facebook friend of mine Corvus Strigiform sent me this photo he took of caged ducks in a transport truck, I immediately thought of Suzanna, the Pekin duck I saved a few years ago from slaughter. And I realized that Corvus had provided me with a strong visual counterpart of the fate I spared Suzanna who now lives in a sanctuary near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.