After reading a string of comments on LinkedIn today, I now realize why I don’t get that involved in nutrition debates. What I have found is that diehard nutrition people are focused on nutrition only and make arguments in an ecological and ethical vacuum, that is, without considering how food choices impact animals and the planet. The citing of studies and claims on both sides could go on and on, as it often does. There is no end. And that’s what frustrates me so.
Rayann, a new arrival at Wagner Farm, should be the happiest dairy cow in the world. After all, Wagner Farm, a self-professed model for human and locavore farming, is as good as it gets for dairy cows. So why does Rannan look like her spirit has been broken? Could it be that her calf was taken away from her just days ago? Could it be that she is lonely, confined to a tiny stall with a window overlooking all the other cows on pasture? Could it be that she doesn’t want to be milked with milking machinery and thus puts up a fight every time they try to drag her out of the stall?
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.
People often ask me why I have chickens. “Is it for the eggs?,” they ask. Now of course, what this question implies is that there is no other value to chickens than the eggs they produce. In fact, I find people far more interested in the fancy colors and sizes of chicken eggs than I do about the birds who lay them. Isn’t that interesting? We’re a culture that is fascinated with objects. And the egg is perhaps the most poignant symbol of fertility in many cultures, including our own. And in a way, this symbol has distracted us from something much more important which I hope to touch on here.
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.
What we leave behind—our legacy—is how we affected others. And for most of us, no other choice has a greater impact on the legacy of help— or harm— we leave behind, than our daily food choices. Day after day, and year after year, our lives can be seen as the culmination of thousands of instances in which, equally assured of nourishment and health, we had the opportunity to choose kindness and mercy toward other animals, or to choose violence and death for them.
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.
Among the many fascinating discoveries I’ve made in the process of raising a flock of adopted hens is the lovely and soothing sound of a chicken purr. Yes, you heard right. Chickens purr like cats when they’re happy. Well, at least one of the hens who loves to curl up on my lap and take a nap. In this video clip, I’ve recoded Doris the hen’s purring for you. Enjoy! And pass along to others!
Sweet Pea is one of the adopted chickens in our care since 2009 who now needs surgery and hospitalization for a condition due to her egg laying. This video covers Sweet Pea’s recent visit to the vet for an initial exam. If you would like to help, we welcome your donations. You can make a donation at freefromharm.org. See the donate option in the main menu. Thanks in advance! And please share this video to educate others about egg laying hens. As Sweet Pea’s situation demonstrates, there is no such thing as a “cruelty-free” egg.
Father Frank Mann’s own journey has been inspired by visionaries such as Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, who have shown compassion and moral leadership in the face of injustice. He recently had a deep personal awakening to the plight of animals, and has since incorporated the values of being vegan and animal rights into his spiritual life and vision of a more just and peaceful world.
No, this is not about the infamous fictional horror movie that has spooked many and given others feverish nightmares. This is far worse, far more premiditated, far more methodical and far more insidious than the movie. And worst of all, it’s all really happening right now, particularly around this time of year to celebrate the Easter holiday. The latest Animal Equality undercover investigation exposes the transport and slaughter of young lambs in Italy, a typical scene depicting standard industry practices (most likely for “humane” labeled products) rather than some isolated and egregious act of cruelty. And it proves how the everyday, “normal” exploitation of animals is perhaps the most disturbing reality of all.
However, while Mr. Savory himself cautions that most livestock today are produced unsustainably, meat promoters can be seen spinning Mr. Savory’s claims as if they apply equally to factory-farmed meat. Yet it’s no new trick to promote factory farmed meat as grass-fed. A grassland producer has himself noted that most marketing of “grass-fed” beef is a hoax. Beef marketed this way commands a 200-300% price premium — so the incentive for producers to cheat is overwhelming, as evidenced in one videotape afteranother.
La Mirada Circular (The Circular Glance) is an award-winning short Spanish film from directors ván Sáinz-Pardo, Dirk Soldner and Jim-Box that draws perhaps the most startling connection yet between human and non human animal exploitation. Two young children appear to be kidnapped and hauled around in an animal transport truck. They are taken to a slaughterhouse to find animals being hauled out of another truck and sent into the slaughterhouse. But is this all part of a child’s imagination? You’ll have to get to the end to find that out.
I continually hear from people that “choices” must be respected. “You eat what you want and I’ll eat what I want.” And don’t judge other’s for what they choose to eat.” This comes from both vegan and meat eaters alike. If eating animals is a choice, then we must believe in at least the following six absurdities:
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.
As I was browsing the meat industry news site MeatingPlace.com, I came across an article called “My Week on a “Fact”ory Farm: Part I” by Emily Meredith who is the communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance and who also writes a column called “Activist Watch” on the same site. Meredith defends the practices of the industrial pig farms she recently visited in her attempt to bring out the facts and debunk what she sees as distortions from the activist community. In the following article, I responded to various excerpts of Meredith’s original post.
The Story of an Egg is a short documentary that claims “we need a lexicon of sustainability.” Has a nice ring to it, right? By using factory farming as a moral baseline, the film would have us believe that the simple solution to feeling good about the eggs you buy is to look for the “pastured” or “pasture-raised” label.
I meet a lot of people that are very close to being vegan (or at least that’s what they tell me). And I know many people as well that consider themselves mostly vegan in terms of their diet. It’s always very encouraging and commendable to see people standing up for what they believe in, even when the status quo isn’t on our team yet. Nonetheless, I find myself often asking, what keeps them from making the small leap to becoming a proud, confident and out vegan rather than one shyly hovering on the threshold?
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.