One of my secret pleasures as a boy was to sit for hours poring over my father’s collection of photography books. There, in The Family of Man, Days to Remember, and others, I saw disclosed the strange and varied wonder of the human condition, at least as it appeared to professional photojournalists at mid-century: children in Bombay lifting their smiling faces to the rain, Jackie Robinson, “first Negro in major league baseball,” the first television. There were also many disturbing pictures of grief, tragedy, and violence, indelible images of mob slayings and suicides, terrible industrial accidents and “the war in Indo-China.”
“The misery of egg-laying birds has been well-documented, but what about the life of chickens bred for eating?” Andrew Purvis, “Pecking Order,” The Guardian, Sept. 23, 2006. view full post »
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.
This video from Dr. John McDougall provides a clear explanation of how and why dairy products are thought to trigger type 1 diabetes in children and young adults, in addition to allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases. Dairy consumption not only causes completely unnecessary suffering and death for millions of cows every year in the U.S. alone, but it’s also harmful for the humans who consume it.
Some of you may recall that our wonderful hen Sweet Pea needed to have exploratory surgery in March to determine the cause of a large and growing mass in her abdomen. Fortunately it was not a tumor, but the news was nevertheless sobering. An egg had ruptured through her oviduct and into her abdomen. Her liver was very enlarged and damaged and masses of fatty tissue were forming around it — a condition called fatty liver disease. Weeks after the surgery, the swelling and redness began to come back and worsen. Yesterday we took her back the vet again. Learn more about Sweet Pea’s condition and how you can help.
As a psychotherapist, I occasionally come across professionals who and organizations that research and promote empathy, compassion altruism. I eagerly read about their efforts in the hope that their work will include our relationship with all animals, human and nonhuman. So far, I have found their focus to be on human-to-human relationships only. I decided to write to people, doing this research and at different organizations, to encourage them to see the necessity of including all sentient beings, human and non-human, when understanding and promoting empathy, compassion and altruism. Unfortunately, I don’t expect much of a response, but we have to keep knocking at the door of people’s conscious.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the oldest and foremost authority on diet and nutrition in the U.S.) and the American Academy of Pediatrics both endorse vegan diets for children — even infants and toddlers. Nearly twenty-five years ago, Dr. Benjamin Spock, one of the most influential pediatricians of all time, made a radical revision to the seventh edition of his globally best-selling book, long considered the Bible of child-rearing: The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. In that edition, he recommended that children be raised on a vegan diet.
There’s a lot of buzz in the animal protection movement about a new chicken intelligence study that, once again, maintains that chickens are even more intelligent than we once thought. Not surprising, of course, considering the absolutely abysmal and distorted perception our society perpetuates about chickens today. And yet the attitude of surprise that surrounds such studies and the reaction to them reveals a very powerful cultural distortion in itself — that chickens are essentially stupid.
This past weekend during a series of lectures I presented in Germany a number of people asked questions of the sort, “Isn’t it about time we accept that animals are sentient and that we know what they want and need, and stop bickering about whether they are conscious, feel pain, and experience many different emotions?” Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard these queries, and my answer is always a resounding “Yes, we do have ample detailed scientific facts to declare that nonhuman animals are sentient beings and there are fewer and fewer skeptics.”
In her short life, Edith experienced the kindest and cruelest of humanity. She clearly judged people she encountered as individuals, trusting and bonding with us as her new caregivers immediately, even after someone cruelly discarded her like trash. But the kind person who rescued her offered her a second chance. The least we can do is acknowledge that animals like Edith are also individuals. And perhaps we can learn a valuable lesson from her as well — that we too should judge others (both human and non human animals) as individuals.
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?
We are now fighting for our survival and for the survival of our children and grandchildren. Gandhi inspired the people of India to take that voluntary step of changing their clothes. We need to inspire people in rich societies to take that voluntary step of changing what we eat, to go vegan. The reasons are very clear. As George Weurthner points out, in the continental US alone, more than half the land, around 1 billion acres, is used for livestock production, while half the vegetables and fruits eaten in the US are grown on just 3 million acres of land. The arithmetic is very clear! A mass transition to Veganism in the rich societies would make a huge, positive impact on the environment!
Recently a Facebook fan commented on our page (after many other comments had already posted) in response to a post we published about Edith, our latest rescued chicken. I decided to publish this exchange because it was a good example of the misguided yet all too common notion that veganism is like a religion.The implication is that vegans prostletize like evangelicals and try to convert people to their beliefs.
Recently, Foster Farms announced that they were awarded the American Humane Association’s “Humane Certified” label which now appears on the package of every dead Foster Farms chicken sold in America. Thanks to AHA, American consumers will be lulled into a false sense of complacency that eating animals is consistent with being humane, that supporting a company that kills millions of animals a year is consistent with a belief in animal protection.