Live and Let Live is a feature documentary by German director Marc Pierschel that examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism, and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that motivate people to go vegan. The film follows the lives of six people who tell their stories on becoming vegan and also includes interviews from some of the best-known ethicists and sociologists, including Melanie Joy, Gary Francione, Peter Singer and Tom Regan.
Some people claim that supposedly smarter animals suffer more than supposedly dumber animals and that it’s okay to use the dumber individuals in all sorts of invasive and abusive ways. There are absolutely no sound scientific reasons to make this claim and indeed, the opposite might actually be the case, but we really don’t know. Lori Marino, founder of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, Inc., who also works on The Someone Project, says it well: “The point is not to rank these animals but to re-educate people about who they are. They are very sophisticated animals.” I’ve emphasized the word who because these animals are sentient beings, whos, not whats. So, it’s a matter of who we eat not what we eat when they wind up in our mouth.
I’ve seen a lot of media coverage lately about salmonella and backyard chickens. The Center for Disease Control has issued specific guidelines for backyard chicken keepers for avoiding salmonella, claiming that salmonella is “common” in chickens. But is the media sensationalizing the issue, blaming chickens for a problem that really belongs to their breeders and scaring people away from having contact with chickens?
“There is another way… to mimic nature — by truly mimicking nature. Adding domesticated cattle to desertified landscape as a measure to compensate for our mistakes of decimating the normal flora and fauna over the decades creates many issues. Savory’s methods may indeed restore some desertified grasslands but so would plant-based food production systems or simply reintroducing the original natural blend of species (plants, animals, insects, microbes).”
On August 5, 2013, Fair Oaks Farms—the largest “agritourism” destination in the country— will celebrate Opening Day of Pig Adventure, a commercial breeding facility where 2700 sows are impregnated to produce 75,000 pigs for slaughter annually. Pig Adventure joins the Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure, a 30,000 cow dairy operation that has, since 2004, doubled as an “Agricultural Disney”; on daily tours, visitors can watch calves being born, cows being milked on giant mechanized carousels, and cheese being made, among many other dairy-themed spectacles.
Pescetarians—those who eschew eating all animals with the notable exceptional of fish—are commonly viewed as having fashioned diets that are more ethically focused than opportunistic omnivores. But could it be that the distinction they draw between, say, fish and pigs is as capricious as the one omnivores draw between dogs and pigs? In other words, might fish matter as much as the land animals to whom we grant moral consideration?
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.
Imagine waking from a nightmare where you were picked up by your legs and turned upside down. You thrash wildly to try to release from the grip of your captor. But resistance is futile. There is no mercy, no regard for your life. Your last conscious moment of life is the terror of being thrown into a gas chamber and your body comes out of the other end of a machine that grinds up your corpse into ground meat. What I’ve just described to you, and what you will see in this video if you watch it, is not a nightmare but the reality behind what humane meat advocates describe as “a humane way of producing chicken meat from live chicken.”
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.
During Toronto’s torturous heat wave this July, with temperatures soaring to some 40 degrees Celsius (that’s 110 degrees Farenheit), activists from Toronto Pig Save have mobilized to give water and watermelon to severely overheated pigs on their way to slaughter. The gesture is the last— and, likely, the first— act of kindness that the pigs will ever know. When the sweltering trucks transporting the animals to Quality Meat Packers pause at a stoplight just outside the slaughterhouse, volunteers slip watermelon through ventilation holes
In 2011, Congress removed wolves from the federal endangered species list in five states – Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Utah – primarily to satisfy the interests of cattle ranchers. This opened up a war on wolves. Ranchers were upset with the government for reintroducing wolves. Ranchers had expanded their use of land for grazing cows since wolves had been gone for 25 to 30 years after being hunted to near extinction.
I found NWI Times’ coverage of Fair Oaks Farm’s so-called “Pig Adventure” both disturbing and disgusting — not just for its blatant glorification of factory farming, but in how uncritically NWI appears to have “rubber stamped” the Fair Oaks Farm press release without looking critically at this tragically absurd “public exhibit” of animal exploitation and suffering. Why does NWI withhold any opinion on such a nightmare scenario for animals in the very opinion section?
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.