November 17th in Prague, an effigy of a burning pig was paraded down the street to protest a pig factory farm in Lety on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp. The occasion was the Czech state holiday called the Slave of Race (Otrokem Rasy). The spectacle suggests that the pigs are viewed — not as innocent victims of another atrocity — but, callously, as a nuisance and an insult to the dignity of a past human atrocity
This short video piece featuring Carol Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, provides a very powerful snapshot of how chickens and turkeys are sexualized by popular culture, linking the oppression of women and animals, and exposing the cultural myth that animals want to be consumed in the same manner that women want to be exploited and used as sex objects.
The icon of American culture that was once hunted to near extinction has now been bred for one of the trendiest new flesh products. Broken Wagon Bison Farm outside of Chicago offers visitors a chance to pet and feed gentle and friendly bison and then visit their store where they can stock up on bison flesh products and fashion apparel made from their skins and bones. Here you have yet another variation on the Orwellian fantasy of animal husbandry.
The modern animal-using industries and the scientific research engine behind it celebrate the biological and genetic manipulation of chickens and other animals for the sole purpose of rendering their eggs, secretions and flesh more marketable and profitable. In comparison, the only permissible form of genetic manipulation of humans — which remains controversial — is for life-saving medical advancements. Their key messages are that 1. their use of animals is a “win-win,” good for the animals and us; 2. technological innovations in animal science serve the greater good by feeding the world’s growing population.
In stark contrast to Ganzert’s pious performance in the informercial, this new Foster Farms happy chicken commercial portrays chicken puppet characters that are just ecstatic about the AHA humane certification program. The marketing gimmick reminds us of the Tyson Foods commercial depicting chickens in front of a dressing table and mirror, as if getting dolled up to go out on the town. In both cases, humor and denial are powerful tools used to mask the violence and oppression at the core of animal agriculture.
Allied with the attempt to place nonhuman animals in a cerebral hierarchy – who is smarter, a lizard or a lion, a penguin or a parrot, a chicken or a chimpanzee? – is the effort to compare cognitively intact nonhuman beings with incompetent human beings, such as children, who are mentally undeveloped due to their age, and people suffering from mental disabilities. This type of cross-species comparison has attracted animal advocates as a way of gaining public sympathy and support for nonhuman animals by placing them in the light of defenseless humans requiring legal protections, which of course includes all of us living in societies that, without laws to protect the weak and vulnerable, do bend toward justice.
By allowing his chickens to live 5 weeks longer than those raised on factory farms and by allowing them a few hours a day to forage on a pasture, the farmer interviewed in this video claims that he raises “happy chickens.” He is cheered on by enthusiastic YouTube followers who are naively seduced into believing that chickens are simple-minded animals who can actually have fulfilling lives when raised on a bucolic-looking family farm.
Last week I asked esteemed journalist and agricultural history professor James McWilliams to write an open letter to the Northwest Indiana Times regarding their sensationalized coverage of the new Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms. I want this letter to coincide with Pig Adventure’s highly-publicized grand opening on August 5th. The McWilliams letter, which is posted below, will soon be available online for those who would like to sign on and add their comments. We will deliver the signatures and comments posted to this open letter to both NWI as well as Fair Oaks Farms Communications Director, Jed Stockton.
The three examples, of naturally occurring rape, infanticide, and xenophobia, should help dispel the notion that acting in ways that come “naturally” automatically fulfills our moral obligations. In human societies, we evaluate our own behavior critically and negatively judge many instances of naturally occurring conduct. Indeed, if a particular behavior were sufficiently rare, it would suggest that people lack any drive to engage in it, and we would probably need no moral rules forbidding it. From this perspective, it is precisely because both virtue and vice come “naturally” to us that we must critically consider our activities and choose what to do (and what not to do) on the basis of moral reflection.
As someone who rescues, raises and advocates on behalf of chickens, one of the biggest challenges I face is getting people to see the chicken BEFORE the egg. Even many of those who are fond of chickens and keep them in their backyards, see them first as egg-laying machines, as if to ovulate on a daily basis were their primary purpose for existence. Our perceptions are heavily distorted by egg-industry marketing that has relentlessly “dumbed-down” the chicken’s identity since the 50s.
The dairy industry has most people believing that cow’s milk, and the cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream and other products derived from it, are “natural” for us to consume. But if they are indeed so natural, then why does the dairy industry have to use such extremely unnatural practices to extract the mammary gland secretions from cows? Check out our list of 14 bizarre, cruel and extremely unnatural practices used even by the allegedly “humane” dairy farms.
Most Americans think that making dogs suffer for food is wrong, yet they’ve given little to no thought about paying someone to do this to other animals that are at least if not more conscious than dogs. Why is that? I think the answer is culture. Culture shapes society’s belief systems over time so that eventually we stop questioning whether these beliefs make sense or not and just do as culture and tradition tell us.
Humane washing takes many forms. On the smallest micro level, it sometimes crops up in your local farmer’s market. That’s where I found a new vendor in between the mushroom stand and the dainty little baskets of fresh berries at my local outdoor market that claims to sell “responsibly-raised” lamb, veal, chicken — all animals that are killed as infants. Why is killing babies responsible?
When I saw this video, I cried. Apparently I’m not the only one; every other comment I’ve seen from viewers expresses the same reaction. In the video, a toddler in Brazil explains to his mother why he will not eat his octopus pasta. Originally uploaded to YouTube on May 15, 2013, within 2 weeks the video of little Luiz Antonio had over 1 million views; but it could only be understood by those who knew Portuguese. So when Raffaella Ciavatta, a Brazilian-born vegan activist and certified translator living in NY, saw the video, she knew she had seen something extraordinary, and contacted the mother to ask for permission to translate it into English.
Charles Ramsey, the internet sensation heralded as a hero for helping to rescue three Cleveland women who were kidnapped, raped and imprisoned for a decade, has earned his reward: an endless supply of free burgers made from animals who were kidnapped, raped and imprisoned for their entire lives. In addition to a year’s supply of free burgers from McDonald’s, more than a dozen local fast food restaurants have bequeathed burgers for life to Ramsey.
While a utilitarian might make a valid case for why we should do whatever we can to reduce the suffering of animals right now, such a position ignores the deeper, more menacing and sociopathic disease that plagues our predator society. There will be no paradigm shift in the way humans cause themselves and other animals to suffer if our sole focus is alleviating the symptoms of the disease, rather than treating the cause.
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.