Save the Humans

DROUGHT CALIFORNIA CATTLE

A few years ago, I was talking with Al Gore (yes, I’m name dropping). I asked him a very simple and pointed question: “Animal agriculture contributes about 18 percent of the gases that cause climate change. Why didn’t you mention this in your book or movie?”

His answer was disconcertingly honest. I’m paraphrasing, but he said: “For most people, the role of animal agriculture in climate change is too inconvenient of a truth.”

We like our animal products.

Well, you like your animal products. I’ve been a vegan for 28 years, so to be honest I don’t even remember what they taste like.

But collectively, as a species, we seem to like animal products. A lot.

To wit: Each year, the U.S. grows and kills about 10 billion livestock animals. Globally, we’re raising and slaughtering about 56 billion animals animal agriculture each year. If you do the math, that means we’re killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day. That doesn’t even include fish and other seafood.

But even though I’m a vegan for ethical reasons, I don’t want to write about the animal ethics of animal agriculture. I want to write about the ways in which animal agriculture is killing us and ruining our planet.

I know, that sounds like left wing hyperbole. “It’s killing our planet!” But sometimes hyperbole isn’t hyperbole. Sometimes hyperbole is just the clear-eyed truth. I’ll start with climate change.

The U.N. released a conservative report wherein they stated that animal agriculture causes about 18 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions.

To put it in perspective: animal agriculture is responsible for producing more climate change gases than every car, boat, bus, truck, motorcycle and airplane on the planet. Combined.

But we like our animals — or at least growing and eating them. So we make the trade-off: animal products for climate change.

Climate is complicated. And climate change is complicated. But the role of animal agriculture in climate change is simple.

And how about famine? There are over 7,000,000,000 people on the planet, and many of them are very, very hungry. Article after article and book after book ask the question: “How will we feed a planet of 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 billion people?” The discussions turn to fertilizer and GMOs and arable land.

But here’s a painfully simple idea: stop feeding human food to livestock.

It takes around 15 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef – which can feed a couple people for a few hours. In comparison, 13 pounds of grain fed to humans directly can feed 13 people for most of the day.

“We’re killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day.”

Globally, we don’t have a famine problem; we have a livestock problem. Feeding food to animals and then eating the animals is kind of like heating your house during the winter by burning wood outside.

Speaking of winters: a few years ago, tired of cold winters in New York, I moved to California. Last year in L.A., we had around 362 beautiful days of sunshine. It was 80 degrees on Christmas, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Which is great, apart from the fact that California and most of the West are now experiencing the worst drought in recorded history.

As Californians, we’ve been asked to take shorter showers and use less water on our lawns. Both are good ideas. But let’s put it in perspective: a long shower uses around 40 gallons of water. Whereas it takes 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to create a 1/3 lb hamburger.

More than 90 percent of the water in California goes to agriculture. Some agriculture is very water responsible. It takes about 216 gallons of water to make one pound of soybeans, for example.

But other agriculture is egregiously water intensive – including rice and cotton, but especially animal agriculture. Each pound of chicken requires about 500 gallons of water, and pork requires about 576 gallons of water.

“Personally, I’d like to make a deal with California. I’ll take much shorter showers if you stop subsidizing water use for livestock.”

Personally, I’d like to make a deal with California. I’ll take much shorter showers if you stop subsidizing water use for livestock. If I just jumped in the shower and bathed quickly, I could even get it down to five gallons of water per shower. And after 132 showers, I would’ve used as much water as is needed to create one pound of beef.

So we’ve established that having an estimated 56,000,000,000 livestock animals on the planet uses a lot of water and grain and creates a lot of methane and carbon dioxide.

But these billions of animals also make waste. The really disgusting waste, not just invisible climate warming gases.

Let’s put this in perspective: the good people of Philadelphia create roughly1,000,000 tons of urine and feces per year. And one, only one, large pig farm will produce roughly 1,600,000 tons of urine and feces per year.

“One large pig farm annually creates 600,000 tons more urine and feces than the city of Philadelphia.”

Our lakes and rivers are being fouled with algae blooms. Our groundwater is being polluted. And the main culprit is livestock.The 56 billion livestock animals on the planet are making tons and tons of feces and urine every year — three times as much as humans.

And, in addition to fouling our water supplies, it’s also fouling our homes. A University of Arizona study found more residual feces and waste in the average omnivores kitchen than in their toilet bowl. Largely due to meat into the home.

The animals spend their lives in their own feces and urine, and when they’re killed and packaged, they bring their feces and urine with them. Into your home. They also bring pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, cholesterol and saturated fat.

To that end: if we collectively stopped eating animals and animal products tomorrow, studies suggest we’d see a drop in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

“We don’t have a global health epidemic; we have a global livestock epidemic. “

We don’t have a global health epidemic; we have a global livestock epidemic. Toomuch of the western world health care budgets go to curing people of diseases caused by the consumption of animal products.

And I’m not going to toot the vegan horn too much, but vegans have significantly lower rates of obesity, diabetes and some cancers.

When I talk to people about animal agriculture and meat eating, people often say, “But meat is inexpensive.” And it is. But only because it’s so heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. In the United States, we spend billions of dollars every year in direct and indirect subsidies to the meat and dairy industries. Billions of dollars in our tax dollars, subsidizing a product that ruins our environment and decimates our health.

We subsidize the grain that’s fed to livestock. We subsidize the water that’s used in livestock production. We, the taxpayers, subsidize animal agriculture.

And what do we get? We get climate change gases. And we get trillions of pounds of animal waste that fouls our lakes and rivers and reservoirs. We get an end product that causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

And, saving the best for last, we also get zoonotic diseases.

“Zoonotic” is a fun and fancy sounding word. It sort of sounds like a very erudite part of a zoo, where the animals read books and live on boats. But zoonotic diseases are not fun or fancy. Some zoonotic diseases you might be familiar with: E.coli, Salmonella, SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola and even some old standards like smallpox and the common cold.

Zoonotic diseases come from animals, and, in many cases, from animal agriculture.

Luckily, thus far, we’ve been able to treat most zoonotic diseases with antibiotics. But here’s the rub: animals on factory farms are so sick, and in such bad shape, that antibiotics are all that’s keeping them from dying before they’re slaughtered. The animals are fed obscene amounts of antibiotics while they’re alive, and these antibiotics are then found in their milk and their eggs and their meat.

When you’re eating an animal, you’re eating the fat and the muscle but you’re also eating all of the antibiotics the animal has been fed during its life.

The double whammy of zoonotic diseases coming from animal agriculture: animals are the source of the zoonotic diseases but they’re also the source of antibiotic resistance. So the zoonotic diseases can kill us, especially as animal agriculture has created superbugs who don’t respond to conventional antibiotics.

That’s the fun world of animal agriculture.

A simple re-cap:

Animal agriculture:
Uses tons of grain that could be fed directly to people
Uses tons of fresh water that could be used to grow healthy food
Creates tons of urine and feces that ruin our lakes, rivers and drinking water
Creates about 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions
Contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer
Causes epidemic zoonotic diseases
Contributes to the creation of antibiotic resistant “super bugs”
And is heavily subsidized by our tax dollars.

As a species, we are faced with complicated and seemingly intractable problems. And then we’re faced with animal agriculture.

So rather than focus on the hard, intractable problems (like curing baldness) let’s simply focus on something easy with phenomenal benefit: ending animal agriculture.

All we have to do is stop subsidizing it and stop buying animal products. Simple. And climate change gases are reduced by about 18 percent.

Famine could end. Fresh water could become clean and more abundant. Deaths from cancer and heart disease and diabetes and obesity could be reduced. And zoonotic diseases could be largely reduced.

It really is that simple.

We’ve done hard things in the past. We’ve ended slavery. We’ve given everyone the right to vote. We’ve passed legislation prohibiting children from working in factories. We’re even moving towards a time when cigarette smoking will be seen as a foul, distant memory.

We can do this. We have to. Our reliance on animal agriculture is literally killing us and ruining our climate and our planet.

I’ll end by quoting Albert Einstein:

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” -Albert Einstein

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/moby/moby-meat_b_5889850.html?1412009893

SANE AND SELFISH REASONS TO NOT EAT PIECES OF ANIMALS

1. IT IS ENERGY WISE

Meat production requires 10 to 20 times more energy per edible tonne than grain production and has as high as a 54:1 protein inefficiency ratio (units of plant protein required to produce a single unit of meat protein) [6]. Each cow raised requires (directly and indirectly) 90 to 180 litres of water a day and passes 40kg of manure per kg of edible animal tissue. A study by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 1kg (2.2 pounds) of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometers, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days [4].

Protein rich beans require only fertilization, water and land, with very little maintenance.

Once grown, there’s a long list of energy expensive processes required to turn animals into legally consumable food; from transporting them to the abottoir, slaughtering them, cutting them into pieces, sanitizing and packaging the pieces (usually in plastic) and then delivering the result to shops where they are refrigerated until sale. Refrigeration alone is extremely energy expensive. Suffice to say very few people would be able to eat animals today were it not for this sprawling, around-the-clock, energy infrastructure.

The process required to turn beans, grains and nuts into pantry-apt food is minimal and has an extremely long shelf life, no need for energy expensive refrigeration.

2. GOT KIDS? IT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTMENT IN THEIR FUTURE

‘Livestock production’ uses more than 30% of the earth’s entire arable land surface, with beef ranches driving 60-70% of Amazon deforestation today[5a][5b]. Conservative forecasts assume that over half of all arable land on earth will be dedicated to the production of cow parts, cow milk, chicken and pig parts by 2050.

Soya has 4 times more calories than red meat so the amount of soy that could be grown using the same amount of land would feed far more people than if used to raise cows. More so, a diet based around animal tissue requires 7 times more land on average than a plant-based diet yet (somewhat ironically) much of the meat eaten world-wide is raised on soya grain. 94% of all soy grown in America, for instance, is fed to livestock rather than people directly. Only 2% of all soy grown in the U.S. is eaten by people with soy based fuels consuming the remaining 4%) [14]. This makes American meat eaters the primary drivers of soy bean monocrops in that country. The trick here is to eat the bean before it gets to the cow. The more cows, pigs and chicken eaten, the more competition there is for wooded land. The more demand for animal parts, the more monocrops there are, significantly threatening the biodiversity upon which we all depend.

Agriculture has negative secondary effects. The Earth is increasingly saturated in animal waste, far more than it can readily process. Animal waste from agriculture accounts for 50-85% of all ammonia found on land and in water, contributing significantly to acid rain and air pollution worldwide [15].

According to The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization, livestock production is at the heart of almost every environmental stress confronting the planet: rain forest destruction, growing deserts, loss of fresh water, air and water pollution, acid rain, floods and soil erosion. [5]

3. THE FISHING INDUSTRY IS DESTROYING OCEAN LIFE

Hard to believe, given that we were all told the ocean is apparently abundant and endless, but it’s true: 40% of the worlds oceans are considered by experts to be detrimentally affected by fishing. According to an FAO estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either exploited to unsustainable limits or depleted.[7]

Species such as the Blue Fin Tuna are now endangered alongside 69 other species of fish in abundance just decades ago [8]. It is safe to say many of the fish species eaten by children today will be facing extinction by the time those children become adults.

The global harvest for fish has more than quadrupled since 1950, from 22 million tonnes to 100 million tonnes over the same period. The environmental cost is already unimaginable, along with a real threat for consumers’ health from the unnatural conditions of inland fish farms. A detailed account of both kinds of production can be found here and here.

If you like the ocean it’s a good idea to stop funding the industries that harm it. It appears too late to hope that regulation and reform will drive a shift to less destructive methods, let alone waiting hundreds of years for coral reefs and underwater ecosystems to heal. You can help slow the decay by not eating fish. If this seems unimaginable then learn to catch fish, one at a time, with a hook and rod. This has a significantly lower environmental impact than any other modern means of catching fish.

4. QUITTING ANIMAL TISSUE IS GOOD FOR YOU AND OTHER PEOPLE

Meat eaters generally consume more than twice as much protein as they need, increasing likelihood of kidney failure, cholesterol, heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, stress. [9]

Legumes, especially soybeans, contain the largest percentage of protein among the vegetable foods and are in the same range as many meats. If legumes are a central part of a person’s diet, there will be plenty of enough protein in the diet with no need for animal-tissue. For example, one cup of cooked soybeans contains approximately 20 grams of protein; that is equivalent to three hot dogs, a quarter-pound hamburger, three 8-ounce cups of milk, three ounces of cheese.

On the other hand, industrially produced meat and fish is famously full of nasty things, from bleaching agents to antibiotics, responsible for allergies, resistance to medicines, fatigue, dehydration and a long list of cancers. Seehere and here.

‘Food animals’ consume 80% of all antibiotics produced in America [10a][10b][10c] and at least 45% in the European Union in order to combat the illnesses they get when fed grains (cows and pigs didn’t evolve to eat corn and beans) and those from intensive farming.

Antiobiotics fed to animals are almost always in the same medical group as that of those fed to humans, and so when bacteria develops a resistance to antiobiotics on a farm it cannot be fought when encountered in people. This is the history of most epidemcis (like E-Coli) threatening modern human life.

Many scientists consider antibiotic-resistant bacteria to be the greatest threat to humans on the planet today.Grass-fed, ‘organic’ animal parts are no guarantee of safety either due to it so very often coming into contact with industrially produced animal parts.[10b]

Antiobiotics from animal parts also end up in the bodies of those that consume them, alongside doses of hormones known to have significantly detrimental impact on people, especially children [11][12]. The hormone Oestradiol 17ß, used widely by major exporters of cow pieces, is considered a complete carcinogen. It exerts both tumour initiating and tumour promoting effects.

The eating of meat affects other people, contributing significantly to food shortages worldwide. In the U.S., animals are fed more than 80 percent of the corn and 95 percent of the oats grown. The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food once estimated (Gold and Porrit) to be equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people, more than the entire human population on Earth. Instead, a vast proportion of the world’s forests have been felled to grow the grains fed to cattle. A report from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change considers agriculture to be the single most prevalent cause of deforestation throughout human history [13], depleting world oxygen supply, threatening and/or extinguishing animal and insect life, tipping surrounding ecosystems and devastating indigenous communities and their cultures.

Consider also the impact on supplies of freshwater. To produce 1kg of feedlot beef requires 7kg of feed grain, which takes around 7000 litres of water throughput to grow. The demand for water to grow food to feed cows is resulting in vast areas of arid, dying land throughout the world as water is pumped out to feedlot farms elsewhere. Data adapted from here.

While the increasing demand for ‘organic’ meat in 1st world countries has a less negative impact on the soil itself, cows still require water and cleared land on which to graze. More so, as organic meat cannot be grown as quickly as hormone engineered meat these animals consume more land and require a larger amount of plant matter over the course of a lifetime.

The Agriculture industry is full of many clever and well researched people, all looking to profit where possible: there would be more grass fed cows if it was as or more efficient than industrial methods. Replacing industrialised meat with grass-fed alternatives would rely on vastly greater rates of deforestation than currently experienced while prohibitively raising the cost of animal parts themselves (see Author’s note, below). ‘Organic meat’ is thus not a drop-in solution at the current rates of meat consumption. It is safe to say meat is no longer an environmentally or socially responsible source of protein at today’s population levels. It was ‘sustainable’ once, but not at all now.

If you are a person that believes it’s not possible to live without eating meat you may consider exploring a more immediate relationship with your choice of diet, with the origin of what you choose to put into your body. Rather than paying someone to kill on your behalf, find a local farmer and arrange to learn to kill the animal you select for eating, preparing the parts for transportation once done; the parts you freeze will last you a very long time.

Julian, one of the authors of this document, grew up on a small farm and attests to the awakening importance of taking direct responsibility for the choice to eat meat; selecting an animal, holding it down as it struggles, and then taking its life with a blade.

This is a perspective those that wish to sell you animal parts (and the large agricultural corporations they work for) would dearly rather you do not have.

A LIST OF INTERESTING CITATIONS TO RUMINATE UPON

“People who are comfortable with eating meat should be equally comfortable with killing animals.”

The Meat License Proposal

Meat and fossil fuel:

Most of us are aware that our cars, our coal-generated electric power and even our cement factories adversely affect the environment. Until recently, however, the foods we eat were given a pass in the discussion. Yet according to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), our diets and, specifically, the meat in them cause more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and the like to spew into the atmosphere than either transportation or industry. [1]

Environmental degradation:

According to a 2006 report by the Livestock, Environment And Development Initiative, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and modern practices of raising animals for food contributes on a “massive scale” to air and water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. The initiative concluded that “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” In 2006 FAO estimated that meat industry contributes 18% of all emissions of greenhouse gasses. This figure was revised in 2009 by two World Bank scientists and estimated at 51% minimum.[3]

Meat production and food shortage:

Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States. [4]

94% of all Soy grown in the United States is fed to livestock rather than people directly. [14] 

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report summary:[5]

  • 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock (more than from transportation).

 

  • 60-70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon now hosts cattle.

 

  • Two-thirds (64 percent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems, come from cattle.

 

  • The livestock sector accounts for over 8 percent of global human water use, while 64 percent of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025.

 

  • The world’s largest source of water pollution is believed to be the livestock sector.

 

  • In the United States, livestock are responsible for a third of the loads of nitrogen and phosphorus into freshwater resources.

 

  • Livestock account for about 20 percent of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the 30 percent of the earth’s land surface that they now pre-empt was once habitat for wildlife, in an era of unprecedented threats to biodiversity.

 

  • These problems will only get worse as meat production is expected to double by 2050.

REFERENCES

1. How meat contributes to Global Warming. Scientific American, 2009

2. Williams, Erin E. and DeMello, Margo. Why Animals Matter. Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 73.

3. The Environmental impact of Meat Production, Wikipedia page

4. New York Times analysis.

5. Livestock’s Long Shadow, UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, 2006.
5a.Deforestation in the Amazon

6. U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestockNews.cornell.edu. 1997-08-07. Retrieved 2010-05-01.

7. Overfishing: a threat to marine biodiversity

8. Guardian report on Compass ban of fish in restaurants

9. Meat and Health, UN Food and Agricultural Organisation.

10a. Farm Animals Get 80 Percent of Antibiotics Sold in U.S.
10b. Politics of the Plate: Drug Bust, Barry Estabrook, 2009
10c. Whether you buy grass-fed or ‘natural’ meat safety isn’t guaranteed

11. Meat hygiene 10th edition, Von J. F. Gracey, D. S. Collins, Robert J. Huey, Harcourt Brace and Company, 1999.

12. Barnard ND, Nicholson A, Howard JL. The medical costs attributable to meat consumption. Prev Med. 1995;24:646-655.

13. UNFCCC (2007). “Investment and financial flows to address climate change”. unfccc.int. UNFCCC. p. 81.

14. GMO Inside Blog

15. Ammonia Emissions and Animal Agriculture, Virginia Tech.

N/A. A favourite meat-free recipes blog. Here’s another and another.

This page was written by Marta Peirano and Julian Oliver.

UPDATED: 16.02.2014

Source: http://julianoliver.com/sane/

Ironically, Climate Change Marchers Line Up to Buy Meat, Fish & Dairy at Parade

News & Opinion

Wearing t-shirts with slogans like “Climate Justice Starts Here,” hundreds, if not thousands, of Climate March participants in NYC lined up at food trucks at the street fair after the parade to buy meat, fish and dairy products, demonstrating either a lack of awareness or disregard for what the United Nations says is, by far, the number one contributor of climate change and the planet’s biggest polluter, animal agriculture.

How can the nation’s leading enviromental groups expect the general public to make eco-friendly choices if their own members engage in the most environmentally destructive activity — and if they themselves don’t promote a plant-based diet? Can we really expect world leaders at this week’s United Nations’ Climate Summit to take drastic measures to reverse climate change if “environmentalists” can’t take the most basic one?

At Climate Change marches around the world, plant-based/vegan participants displayed compelling posters and distributed information about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and their efforts will assuredly effect some change. However, as evidenced in the groundbreaking documentary film Cowspiracy, animal agriculture must be eliminated altogether in order to reverse climate change and save the planet.

Breast Cancer – Pink Ribbon Inc.

This documentary covers the topic of Breast Cancer and Pink Ribbons.

Please watch the documentary at the following link!

http://walrusvideo.com/pink-ribbons-inc/

Think wool is harmless? Think again.

 

What would you do if some sick individual tried to cut large chunks of skin and flesh from around your anus?

You would probably kick their anus. And what would you say if the sicko claimed he was just doing his job? You’d say, “Screw your job.”

Every year, industrial wool farmers in Australia (the largest producer of wool in the world) routinely mutilate tens of millions of helpless lambs on wool farms in just this way. It’s called “mulesing,” and it entails removing large swaths of skin and flesh from the area around the anus — and for females, around the vulva as well. (Outraged yet? If not, see the graphic video to the right.)

The practice is defended as an effective means of combating a blowfly infestation called “flystrike,” which sometimes afflicts the unnaturally dense, urine- and feces-encrusted skin folds around the rear ends of Merino sheep. (In Australia, 89% of their 90 million farmed sheep are Merino; most of the rest have some Merino genetic material.) Industry beneficiaries and spokespersons would have you believe that mulesing is simply meant to benefit the sheep from a distressing and possibly deadly pest that has always afflicted sheep in Australia and New Zealand. 

End of story. Nothing to see here.

Or not. As is so often the case, examination of the facts tells a more sinister tale. Flystrike only afflicts farmed sheep, not wild sheep, in Australia. Why? First, the Merino is not native to Australia and is easy prey for the native blowflies. Second, the industry has engineered the Merino to have ever-increasing amounts of wool-bearing skin, thus increasing wool output and profits along with a more attractive target for blowflies. This unnaturally high skin surface area creates very high densities of skin folds, which lead to an extreme overabundance of heat-,

 

summary

Buying wool directly supports cruel practices such as mulesing, castration, tail-docking, and ear-punching. Meanwhile, industrial wool farming is energy-inefficient, land- and water-intensive, and highly pollutive.

videos

WARNING: GRAPHIC TRUTH
Wool industry investigation. Yes, narrated by Pink:
Here, a lamb allowed to live in peace:
moisture-, and excrement-trapping — but profitable — wool. Of course, it also creates very miserable sheep, even when they aren’t being assaulted by handlers and shearers. And with each breeding generation, the industry favors those sheep with the densest skin folds, thus ensuring that each successive generation will be even more vulnerable to flystrike — thereby perpetuating what they want us to believe is the “need” for mulesing. 

In sum, wool producers created the flystrike danger for sheep, and now use it as an excuse to inflict further cruelty on these sensitive, innocent creatures. For the industry, what really matters is that more skin folds entails more skin area per sheep, which entails more wool per sheep, which entails higher profit margins. That’s the bottom line (literally). If they have to mutilate innocent creatures along the way, well, they’re obviously willing to do that.

Amid threats of global boycotts of mulesed wool in the early 2000s, the industry in leading-producer Australia promised in 2004 to implement a mulesing alternative by 2010. In typical fashion, they reneged at the last moment. Not that their proposed solutions would have made things much better. The industry’s leading “alternative” to mulesing involved harsh clips secured so tightly around the anus of lambs that bloodflow would be cut off to a large area of skin, leading the skin to literally die and fall off. Some alternative, right?

What about wool from sheep that haven’t been mulesed?

First thing to note is that we presently have no way of knowing whether or not mainstream wool items contain wool from mulesed sheep. There isn’t any labeling to that effect — and in fact, since the wool from millions of sheep gets mixed up during transport and manufacture, it seems pretty likely that the wool items you see in stores contain mulesed sheep’s wool.

Still, let’s say we could be sure. While we can agree that non-mulesed sheep have it a little better, it’s kind of like saying it’s better to have a single-bed cell in prison. Sure, it is better than sharing a cell. But you’re still in prison. 

Of course, prison is a cakewalk compared to being harvested. Nearly all wool-farmed sheep are tail-docked and castrated (if male), and their ears are hole-punched. Meanwhile, sheep handlers and shearers are cruel to the animals in all other kinds of ways — and why wouldn’t they be, since mutilation is in the job description? According to an individual who spoke with PETA:

“[T]he shearing shed must be one of the worst places in the world for cruelty to animals … I have seen shearers punch sheep with their shears or their fists until the sheep’s nose bled. I have seen sheep with half their faces shorn off …”

The truth is that industrial animal farming is an inherently exploitative and neglectful process. Animals are treated as commodities — not the sensitive creatures they actually are. As a part of that, millions of sheep perish every year on large wool farms due to the disease and individual neglect that occur when animals meant to roam freely are squeezed together. Adequate health and veterinary care for ailments deemed less-than-immediately-critical is non-existent. And, at the end of their “productive” lives, they’re shipped to slaughter — commonly to countries where they don’t even have nominal animal protection or welfare standards. (See the very graphic video above, which reveals the horrifying, gruesome fate for millions and millions of “spent” sheep each year.)

Meanwhile, the environmental effects of wool farming are catastrophic. Indeed, any animal farming, compared to plant farming, is extremely inefficient and wasteful. It’s a logical imperative. On the one hand, you can cultivate plants and feed them to humans and other animals that already exist. Or, on the other, you can breed hundreds of millions of new animals,which requires vast amounts of land and water, both to house and hydrate the sheep and to cultivate the massive amount ofplant food required to feed them. These hundreds of millions of sheep then produce astronomical amounts of excrement and bodily waste, deeply contaminating local environments and expelling climate change agents like methane and carbon dioxide. Add to all of this that in many countries, including leading-producer Australia, sheep are non-native, which makes them a special kind of threat to local ecosystems. (According to the Australian wool industry, sheep were introduced in 1788 by arriving Europeans.) Animal farming necessitates all of the environmental costs of plant farming, and then it multiplies them.

The bottom line.

Buying wool supports cruel industry practices such as mulesing, castration, tail-docking, and ear-punching. Industrial wool farming is also energy-inefficient, land- and water-intensive, and highly pollutive.
 

Science Reveals How the Brains of Social Justice Activists Are Different From Everyone Else’s

 By Erin Brodwin  June 26, 2014

science, reveals, how, the, brains, of, social, justice, activists, are, different, from, everyone, else's,
Science Reveals How the Brains of Social Justice Activists Are Different From Everyone Else’s
Image Credit: AP

Remember that time you chained yourself to a tree in college to prevent “the man” from cutting it down? Contrary to what everyone probably said, you may have been motivated more by logic than by emotion.

The news: People who are more sensitive to the ideas of fairness and equity are driven by reason, not just passion, according to a recent University of Chicago study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

For decades, social science researchers have focused on the role of emotion in activist movements. A 1996 study of the 1960s civil rights movement, for example, examined how Freedom Riders used songs and speeches to express anger, sadness and frustration and to encourage others to become involved in the movement on an emotional basis. Similarly, New York University sociologist Jeff Goodwin wrote in his 2001 book on the subject that animal rights supporters “describe their journey into activism in terms of their emotional attachment to animals.”

Image Credit: AP

As it turns out, when people who are more responsive to injustice see things happen that they find morally wrong, such as abuse or race-based inequality, their minds respond by accessing the sections of the brain responsible for logic and reasoning. When they view examples of people acting morally just, such as giving equal rights to a marginalized group or protecting animals from harm, their brains respond in the same way.

The details: A team of researchers led by University of Chicago neuroscientist Jean Decety monitored participants’ brain activity using an fMRI while they watched videos of people exhibiting morally good or bad behavior. One of the clips showed someone putting money in a beggar’s cup, for example, while another showed someone violently kicking the cup away. Those who said they felt more emotionally triggered by the action on the screen also exhibited more action in the areas of their brain associated with planning, organizing and logical thinking.  

“Decety’s contributions are clearly important and potentially foundational,” New York University psychology professor John T. Jost, who was not involved in the study, told Mic.

Image Credit: AP

Why it matters: The research suggests that human rights and environmentalist organizations could get more public support by appealing to people’s sense of logic and reason rather than to their emotions. Efforts to combat global warming, for example, saw a surge in public support after scientists and statisticians began publishing data about how much sea levels and temperatures would rise instead of sad polar bears on a floating iceberg.

Perhaps your activist alter-ego was more level-headed than you thought.

 

Source: http://mic.com/articles/92253/science-reveals-how-the-brains-of-social-justice-activists-are-different-from-everyone-else-s

Compassion Education – Telling the Truth

 

We require children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance for “liberty and justice for all.” We teach kids that Abraham Lincoln, in sum, freed the slaves. We ensure that every child can recognize the icon of Martin Luther King, Jr., and summarize his achievements in one sentence—and then we take the day off in celebration of his life.

We tell kids that it only takes one person to change the world, but we don’t tell them how it can be done.

Our promises are empty: the nod we give to achievements in social justice is void of substantive wisdom.

Why go through the motions at all if not to relay lessons of significance? It is not that children are too young to learn the why’s and how’s of social change. They are capable of much more than our culture gives them credit for. We leave out the grittier details behind achievements in social justice because we collectively believe that children should be sheltered from the “adult” world.

Without much thought, we accept a concept of childhood that sees children as fragile beings who require being kept ignorant of many basic realities. But there is no universally accepted concept of childhood. Notions of what is and isn’t appropriate for children vary throughout history and the world. Kids are more competent and sturdy than we think. When we sugarcoat, oversimplify, or avoid truths, we hinder what our children are capable of, psychologically, spiritually, and morally. We hinder our progress as a society.

The path to a more sustainable and socially just future lies in bravely engaging our children in new ways of thinking and living—even if the topics are challenging. Kids must know what’s at stake, they must understand the power of the individual in a substantive manner, and they must be aware of how, specifically, they can help change the world.

A vegan education (there’s no better curriculum encompassing environmental, health, and humane education) starts where kids are already interested—with animals—and leads to the kind of life-centered worldview critical to sustainable innovations and environmental and social policies. Think how the future of business, industry, and politics would look with such systemic thinkers at the helm.

In my experience, the resistance to the notion of a vegan education is more about adults’ unwillingness to change than it is about kids’ abilities to learn.

When my second children’s book, Vegan Is Love, was released in 2012, major media outlets picked up the news. Not in celebration of a new resource for a new generation of compassionate kids, but because inviting children into an honest dialogue about meat and dairy products was being deemed outrageous and controversial—after all, most parents avoid the day their kid realizes that chicken nuggets do not, in fact, grow on trees. My book threatened to make kids more aware than was comfortable for adults.

While a slew of media talking heads judged Vegan Is Love to be propaganda, dangerous, brainwashing, and even child abuse, vegan families—who have all along been engaging in the work of social change—had a good laugh. After a child psychologist on television called Vegan Is Love “the most disturbing children’s book” he’d ever seen, I received a note from a 10-year-old vegan girl who had seen the segment and asked, “Why is that expert so ignorant?” An even younger girl threw her hands in the air and asked me, “What’s so scary about your book? It just tells the truth!”

Grownups were having a hard time with the concept of social change toward a life-centered, compassionate worldview, while children were understanding it easily.

“Children don’t know the full story!” these skeptical adults argued. “Kids don’t know about nutrient deficiencies or human history or food production or costs! They just want to be nice to animals!”

Precisely. Where better to begin an exploration of the world’s unknowns than from a place of compassion and a sense of justice?

With animals as the centerpiece, my books address how even the youngest of children can put their love into action—through healthy food and cruelty-free choices that protect our bodies, the environment, and all living beings. I cover the emotional lives of animals—the why’s behind veganism—and our choices, the how’s of a compassionate lifestyleThey are picture books, but at their core, my books are about democracy, supply and demand, and engaging ourselves in the public realm. We can give kids this education—and it is one that lasts a lifetime.

To this day, I have never known any child to be overwhelmed by discovering the motives behind veganism—only adults. In this way, the media outrage over Vegan Is Love revealed the invisible forces that shape public thinking about children, food, health, and animals—hindering our growth toward a more sustainable and just world. If the public were aware of the level of disease and abuse caused by eating animals, the outrage would be directed at the pervasive cultural programming, not at a children’s book about choices alternative to the status quo.

Corporations are well aware of the importance of marketing to kids in order to increase profits. But neither our educational systems, nor parenting magazines, nor children’s literature takes the intelligence and abilities of kids seriously enough to help empower them to create substantive social change. Engaging kids is not just good for business—it’s good for a sustainable and just future.

 

Source: http://www.veganpublishers.com/ruby-roth-harming-children-to-protect-them/