In a small, blue collar post-industrial town, amongst many shuttered and boarded up store fronts and aging steel mills on the horizon, we stumbled upon a Mediterranean restaurant. Sahara turned out to be a real-life oasis in this urban desert, both literally and figuratively, offering a delicious buffet which the proprietor proudly indicated was mostly vegan!
Breeding pigs, or “hogs” as they are known in the trading of futures, is big business. So when an incurable virus is discovered in the country’s leading pig producing state, Iowa, you better believe that the nation’s top ranking USDA staff, veterinarian experts and pig industry officials will be on the case (paid for by your tax dollars).
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.
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.
“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.”
Spend enough time reading about the quotidian tribulations of poultry proprietors and you quickly learn about the centrality of violence in chicken ownership. In point of fact the chickens, so long as they are pumping out eggs with sufficient speed, are typically treated with a measure of decency, but woe to any creature that comes between a chicken owner and her precious eggs.
You cannot “make” someone feel guilty. Guilt is an emotional response that emerges from someone’s own personal sense of right and wrong. You are not responsible for the emotions of others simply by putting truthful information out there for people to consider. You are not the bad person because the information you provided caused someone else to feel guilt. Never carry another person’s guilt. It does not belong to you.
Whole Foods Market’s new “Earthling” marketing campaign is a great example of how corporate brands create modern myths from age-old legends that continue to inspire awe in us. “We are Earthlings” reinforces fantasy over reality about how animals live today on modern farms and, predictably, only depicts scenes of friendly and caring interactions between “Earthlings” and the animals in their care.
For ethical vegans, the guiding principle that distinguishes them from others is that animals have a certain set of basic interests that should be protected for the same reason that basic human interests should be protected. In other words, being a member of another species is not a valid reason to deny animals their basic interests in staying alive, avoiding pain, seeking pleasure and having sovereignty over their bodies. As a vegetarian, I never even confronted this ethical issue, let alone had I any intelligent way of responding to those who held the common view that animals are just here to serve our own trivial interests.
In the latest labeling scandal to rock the foodie world, an Oakland-based restaurant is enduring a Yelp-inspired pile-on for failing to reveal that trace amounts of compassion were discovered in its homemade sausage. The eatery, Olde Depot, is widely known for its delicious vegan sausages. However, its reputation did not precede it for a carnivorously-inclined cohort whose palates were unknowingly violated by the bitter taint of compassion.
The two beloved female pigs Rebeka and Leah disappeared today on Wagner Farm after several offers from WFRF to provide them permanent sanctuary. And I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, but it just so happens that Wagner Farm’s BaconFest is only weeks away. But, hey, a Wagner Farm staffer told one of our Facebook fans over the phone last week that they love their animals and would never slaughter them. And the staffer’s pitch was apparently so convincing, our Facebook fan almost believed it, for a moment.
Dairy farming would have us believe that the unnatural breaking of the bond between a mother cow and her calf is somehow natural because it is better for the health and safety of the animals. Here’s a case in point. Consider the typical logic in the Wagner Farm post that attempts to justify why mother cow Emma and baby calf Schmidt must be separated at birth.
The 2013 annual stakeholder’s meeting for the Animal Agriculture Alliance in May is entitled “Activists at the Door: Protecting Animals, Farms, Food & Consumer Confidence.” The expansive Animal Rights section of the AAA website features a subsection entitled “Agriculture is Outnumbered, Outfunded by Animal Activists.” It’s becoming increasingly clear that the perceived threat of activism to the agricultural industry and its key lobby group, AAA, is factoring heavily into their concerns.
There is something incredibly disturbing to me about the story behind this image. Apparently there is a tradition in Italy, as explained to me by my Italian Facebook friend and professional photographer Francesco Scipioni, in which a family raises a pig in their yard for several months and then slaughters him for a holiday meal. Scipioni captures the whole process in this photo gallery.
There’s a fantasy epic in every scoop. That would be the message in this vintage Deans Foods ad based on this elaborate illustration that references many iconic narratives — the Wizard of Oz, Hansel and Gretel, and Noah’s Ark, to name a few. We could chuckle at this kind of food propaganda from yesteryear, but the fact is we still buy into it today (and often without even thinking about it).
“The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf… On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn—only ten yards away, in plain view of his mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth…are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain.” Michael Klaper, M.D.
Meet Chicago-based Rita Jane Gabbett, Executive Editor of Meatingplace.com, a meat industry news site. In her mission statement about the site, Gabbett seems to acknowledge that an industry that systematically kills 300 chickens a second has a formidable challenge in putting a positive spin on things. “I believe Meatingplace can be an ‘early warning system’ for the industry by choosing the most relevant stories to cover and writing them in a balanced, intelligent way,” says Gabbett,
It strikes me as the height of irony that the word propaganda, which has its origins in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia to describe the “PR” campaigns of these violent and oppressive regimes, should now be flippantly used to disparage movements that are promoting the very opposite: a non violent movement.