AMAZING DOCUMENTARY! MUST WATCH!
Humans have always believed that they are superior to all other beings and still continue to have this ideology to this day. They think they are superior to other species, genders, religions, races, etc. We’ve seen this behavior of superiority within spousal abuse, women fighting for equality, the Holocaust, lynching’s of African American’s in the western south, and even today with homosexuals. Why is it that we as humans are always mistreating the other beings that inhabit this earth along with us? Why does man think he has the power to control everything and everyone around him?
Humans believe that just because we have always been “hunters and gatherers” that it is the way we are supposed to live. People think that humans cannot survive without meat, and that we are designed to be carnivores. That is a very false statement.
Not only do humans think they need to consume another creature to survive, they also find joyin eating them, hunting them, killing them, caging them, testing on them, torturing them, and many more. What makes an animal inferior to human? We consider cannibalism sick and horrendous, yet we justify eating other beings of this earth as normal? If a man was to go out into the city, the home of thousands of humans, and shoot one in the head, bring him home, cook him and eat him, the man responsible would be sent to a prison and most likely a psychiatric hospital. Yet man does this every single day to animals. When you put it in that perspective, it really isn’t that different, is it?
People ask, “Well if we aren’t supposed to eat animals, why did God make them taste so good?” I’d just like to point out that humans that eat other humans are probably thinking that same thing. Second of all, animal meat does not naturally taste good. If you were to murder a cow in cold blood and eat him right then and there, I highly doubt you think it would be “tasty” and “enjoyable”. In fact, you would most likely die from consuming raw meat. Doesn’t that right there say something about what we were truly designed to eat? We are not meant to thrive off of something that NEEDS to be cooked properly and have spices and herbs added to it just so we are able to consume it. Unfortunately, the animals that humans consume go through a brutal process from the minute they are slaughtered, to the minute they hit your plate.
It’s disgusting actually how humans do this. When you see a chicken or a lamb or pig or a cow on a farm, you see an animal. You see them eating grass, and interacting with each other. They were born, they have families, and they have feelings too. So when we look at these animals the way we do on a farm, why don’t we see them as food? We don’t go to restaurants and order ‘one pig’ or ‘one cow’. No – we have created these terms to help us cope with the fact that we are eating another being, so we call them things like steak, pork and bacon to make us feel better, and guess what? It does. When you call a cow a steak while eating it, you feel less guilty. You can justify what you are eating because now that it is on your plate, it is food, not an animal. Well you’re wrong – it’s still an animal, just as a human would still be a human no matter whose plate it is on. But we beautify the idea of eating dead animals, and slice them up into such thin, foreign shapes that we completely forget and become so disconnected from the fact that it was once a living breathing creature. We have expensive restaurants that sell expensive food like caviar and veal. We glorify the idea that eating a dead bird on thanksgiving is a delicacy. We consider it a treat to go out and dine at these fancy restaurants as we indulge in the meat of a dead animal; but no one thinks like that when they’re eating it now do they?
Yet when there are animal attacks – sharks, bears, lions, etc – that harm and kill humans, these animals must be taken away or killed by us because what they did was so horrifying. Yet it is 100% okay for humans to do it for them in clusters, make money off it, and enjoy it because they think it’s “human nature” and “the cycle of life”.
Why do humans get sent to prison and sentenced to be executed for killing another human being, yet millions of animals are slaughtered and nothing gets done about it. How is this legal? And yes, humans torture and kill other human beings as well; it’s not just animals who have this inevitable poor fate. The only difference is that this behavior of killing another human is considered illegal and is punishable to jail and execution. Yet millions of animals are being slaughtered and nothing gets done about it.
I wonder what humans would do if animals could talk. If when you looked into their eyes they spoke to you. If they pleaded to you not to kill them because they had a family to look after, or a loved one to see. Would humans still shoot them in the head and viciously slaughter them? Probably.
People have grown up eating meat and consider it so normal that they never really take the time to realize how un-normal it really it. What I consider normal would be growing a garden and picking your own fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and all the other foods that come from the ground, because that way, there is no violence and no one has to suffer and die. What I don’t consider normal is going out of your way to go and kill an animal, have to cook it’s meat (because you cannot eat it raw.. or you’ll get sick and die) and then eating it. I’m sorry if you consider that normal, but I sure do not.
Most people who argue that eating meat is acceptable usually say that they get their meat locally and that the animals they eat are raised and killed humanely. Okay, first of all, how can killing another creature be humane? You are killing it and taking away it’s life. Second of all, that is not my point at all. My point is not how you are getting your meat and if it’s a good or bad way – my point is that we are all creatures of this earth and mankind brutally slaughters other beings to consume, simply for pleasure. (We don’t need to eat animals to survive)
Man is not superior. I had a friend say to me once that we are smarter than animals, and I just couldn’t help but thinking how wrong that statement was. Dolphins and wales are one of the smartest creatures in the ocean. They can communicate with each other through vocal signals, non-vocal auditory signals, visual signals and tactile signals, meaning physical signals. Dogs are so smart that they can sense when it’s going to rain, or even when their owner has cancer. Can humans do such extraordinary things? I didn’t think so. How can someone say another species is lesser than them when they don’t even know what that creature is capable of? People think so little about animals just because they cannot understand their language – but imagine if they could? What would they say to us?
Many people want to be shielded from the reality of where their food comes from. They turn away and cannot watch cows being slaughtered, or chickens being thrown into grinders. If you cannot even watch that, than you seriously should not be eating it. Yes I have watched those videos and I am fully aware of all that happens to animals. But do I eat them? Not a chance. Seeing those videos is the exact reason I don’t. And I think people are afraid of seeing that because they love eating meat so much that they don’t want that precious idea of food to be ruined for them. And I do not eat anything that comes from animals either because the process to get cow’s milk or a chicken’s eggs is just as bad as eating their meat. The same thing goes for wearing fur and leather, or using products that animals had to be tested on and murdered for. You think that $500 jacket is nice and elegant? Think about where it came from next time you idolize someone for wearing it.
For our entire lives, we have lived in this room that had a bright light bulb, but the blinds were always kept shut. Who needs to open the blinds when having the light turned on is so convenient for us? But now I have reached out of the regular comfort zone of most people, and I have opened those blinds, and what I have seen and learned has shocked me in the worst ways possible. We live in this room thinking that life is perfect under this falsely lighted bulb, but it isn’t until we open the blinds and are greeted by the unpleasant surprise of what’s outside that we suddenly realize what has been going on this whole time. We have grown up believing so many lies and it’s awful how because we were raised that way, everybody thinks that way is normal, and that being a vegan is the weird/abnormal thing. Most people choose to keep those blinds closed and ignore what is going on around them. Most people keep those blinds closed as they prepare their chicken and steak for dinner that night.
Not only is it morally wrong to eat another creature, but it’s not even healthy for us. Humans are not getting the message that putting dead animals and animal by-products into their bodies is not helping them at all. Obesity rates and heart disease have skyrocketed in the United States, yet people still aren’t getting the message that it’s all about what you put into your body. And I’m not just talking about McDonald’s and Burger King – any meat is bad to consume, heavily processed or not. You cannot justify that your meat is healthy because you raised it yourself. The fact is, humans are not natural born carnivores – we are physically not designed to eat meat. Cow’s milk has been said to be ‘full of calcium’ and ‘good for our bones’, when in fact,countries with the largest consumption of milk and dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis, which is the degradation of bones. Eating eggs increases your risk of prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, heart failure, diabetes, colon cancer, and many other diseases. “Eggs are the most concentrated common source of choline in the American diet, which may increase the risk of cancer emergence, spread, and lethality.” “Men who consumed 2.5 eggs or more per week had an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer”.
However no one would ever believe these facts because we have grown up being told that “eggs are a great source of protein” and “milk makes your bones strong” Well I am so sorry to break it to you but those are all lies told by the industry to make money. Adolf Hitler once said,
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
Don’t fall into the trap of the meat and dairy industries- learn and educate yourself. The best way to get protein, calcium and all your other vitamins and nutrients are through plant based foods, especially leafy greens. “They are calling Spinach the new Steak for the high amounts of iron and vitamins found in it”.
Unfortunately, we have grown up in a world that only cares about money and profit. That means lying to the public about where their food comes from, labelling packages with false information, and telling lies to the citizens that the food they consume is healthy just so they can make more money.
Energy, Fossil Fuels, and Global Warming
Another big factor that comes with the consumption of animals is the amount of energy used to feed them, breed them, slaughter them, and eat them. “Livestock are responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.” Humans are making this planet worse and causing more and more global warming per year just from the captivity and slaughter of animals. When will people realize this is the only earth we have – there is no planet B. We are living in the 59thminute of the hour that is earth and we don’t know how much longer that will last. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsd1IT7ySfE)
The warning about meat and the environment isn’t coming from crazed hippies. It’s coming from people like the head of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who has openly identified eating less meat as an important step in combating climate change. Why? Because cows are more damaging than cars. We put far more energy into animals per unit of food than we do for any plant crop. The main reason is that cattle consume 16 times more grain than they produce as meat,so right there we have 16 times as much energy just to grow those crops, just so we can waste them on livestock.
But the energy use doesn’t end there. The livestock themselves take energy to process beyond the energy that goes into their feed. And then there’s refrigeration, including during transport, necessary for meat but not for grains and beans. And then there’s the transportation itself.
Every year, millions of animals that are raised for food experience terrible living conditions on industrialized or “factory” farms. These factory farms are large, profit driven companies which view animals as units of production, rather than living creatures, and put efficiency and profits ahead of animal health and welfare. Industrial farms push for the maximum production from the animals regardless of the stress this places them under and the resultant shortening of their lifespan
Since the food industry is rapidly growing, animals that were once raised on pastures are now raised in foodlot where they are kept indoors most of the year and given feed formulated to speed their growth. Animals such as cows, goats and sheep have stomachs that are meant to consume grass. However since farms can’t always provide grass, these animals are fed grain and corn which can produce serious fatal digestive tract problems. They also add chemicals to the feed which can accumulate in animal tissue, potentially exposing consumers to unwanted chemicals such as veterinary drug residues and heavy metals. They also use pesticides which ‘bioaccumulate’ or build-up in the fatty tissues of animals which exposes the consumer to these chemicals. Exposure to pesticide has been shown to negatively affect reproductive, nervous, and immune system functions, as well as increase the risk of developing cancer.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
A whole foods plant based diet is essentially the best way to live. I am trying not to be biased because I too once lived a regular lifestyle. I used to eat meat, cheese, milk, eggs, etc. and thought everything was okay. But once I educated myself on these things, I found out how wrong I was. I am by no means trying to shame anyone’s eating habits or put down anyone’s style of living. I am however trying to get my point across that we are all equal, and that we can help this planet.
Go to your local farmers market, shop in the organic section at the grocery store, or even grow your own garden! I promise you that those options are 10x easier than catching an animal, impregnating them, milking them, cooking them, killing them after their babies are born or their eggs are hatched and so on. Not only are you helping animals but you are helping the planet, and most importantly yourself. Your body will strive off of whole foods and improve much more than it would on an animal based diet.
I have read many articles, documents, textbooks, and watched documentaries to know that the information I am telling you can be backed up and proven. I am not just some crazy vegan girl trying to persuade everyone to live like me. I am trying to make a change in the world, and even if it’s a small change that only affects a few people, at least it’s starting somewhere, and a little change is better than no change.
The China Study
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
Forks over Knives
…..the equivalent of over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet.
How toxic are your threads? If you’re a fan of cheap, disposable fashion, the answer isn’t one you’re going to like. A new investigation commissioned by Greenpeace found residues of hormone-disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals in clothing made by 20 leading high-street brands, includingArmani, Benetton, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Esprit, Gap, Levi Strauss, Victoria’s Secret, and Zara. As the world’s largest apparel retailer, Zara was among the worst offenders. “Zara alone churns out 850 million clothing items a year,” says Li Yifang, a toxics campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “You can imagine the size of the toxic footprint it has left on this planet, particularly in developing countries like China where many of its products are made.”
In April, Greenpeace purchased 141 items of clothing, including jeans, trousers, T-shirts, dresses, and underwear made from both natural and synthetic materials, from authorized retailers in 29 countries and regions. Tests at Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and at independent accredited labs worldwide found that all the brands had at least several items containing hazardous chemicals, including some classified as “toxic” or “very toxic” to aquatic life.
All the brands tested by Greenpeace had at least several items containing hazardous chemicals.
Roughly two-thirds of the samples contained nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), a textile surfactant that degrades to the more environmentally persistent nonylphenol (NP) when released into the environment. NP is a hormone-disruptor known to accumulate in fish and other aquatic organisms. Named a “priority hazardous substance” under the EU Water Framework Directive, NP has also recently been detected in human tissue.
But the chemical traces weren’t just the result of the manufacturing process. In the case of of clothes with high levels of phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride more pliable, they were incorporated deliberately within the plastisol print on the fabric.
Two items, both from Zara, contained cancer-causing amines from the use of AZO dyes.
All 31 of the samples of plastisol-printed fabric tested positive for phthalates, which the United States has banned from many garments and children’s products because of their links to reproductive abnormalities (including reduced sperm counts and testicular atrophy) and certain types of cancer. Two items, both from Zara, contained cancer-causing amines from the use of AZO dyes.
“The testing results reveal how much toxic chemicals these brands are dumping in China and other developing nations where products are made and regulations are loose,” Li says. “As the world’s biggest fashion retailers, the likes of Zara have no choice but to change their practices, not only for its consumers but also for the communities affected by its irresponsible suppliers.”
CHANGE OF PACE
Around 80 billion garments are produced worldwide, the equivalent of just over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet, according to Greenpeace. The growing volumes of clothing being made, sold, and disposed of magnifies the human and environmental costs of our clothes at every stage of their life cycle, which means that even minute quantities of toxins can cumulatively amount to the widespread dispersal of damaging chemicals across the globe, the group says.
80 billion garments are produced worldwide, the equivalent of over 11 garments a year for every person on the planet.
“The worst part is, as fashion gets faster and more globalized, more and more consumers worldwide are becoming fashion’s victims while contributing to the industry’s pollution,” Li adds. “But it doesn’t have to be so. We’ve already witnessed commitments from sportswear giants such as Adidas, Nike, and the Chinese brand Li-Ning, to eliminating the use of all hazardous chemicals in the entirety of their supply chains.”
The three brands are among a group of manufacturers and retailers, which Greenpeace refers to as “engaged,” that have agreed to phase out all toxic chemicals by 2020. Others that have pledged to do the same are C&A, H&M, Puma and, most recently, Marks & Spencer.
Detox “greenwashers,” defined as brands that have declared a zero-discharge intention but have not made credible individual commitments or action plans in their own right, include G-Star Raw and Levi’s, while “detox laggards,” or brands with chemical-management policies and programs that have yet to make a credible commitment to zero discharge, count Zara, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfier,Mango, and Gap among their numbers. The group also referred to Esprit,
Metersbonwe, and Victoria’s Secret as “discharge villains” for their lackluster or nonexistent policies and programs for chemicals management.
Wolves will travel to drink from a river. But could the presence of wolves lead a river to change its behaviour?
Check out this video: http://blog.ted.com/2014/02/18/video-how-wolves-can-alter-the-course-of-rivers/
In his TED Talk, George Monbiot poetically explains how reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park after a 70-year absence set off a “trophic cascade” that altered the movement of deer, sent trees soaring to new heights, attracted scores of new animals to the area (think: beavers, rabbits, bears, bald eagles and more), and stabilized the banks of rivers making them less susceptible to erosion. Above, see that story set to music — and howls — by SustainableMan.org, who took the audio track from the talk and laid it over beautiful nature footage. It’s a glorious glimpse of how deeply the natural world is interconnected.
How did you come to veganism? What woke you up?
I came to the vegan world from the carnivorous world of truncated ignorance. Who would have thought that lightening would strike? I was an investment banker, specializing in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions. I received a mandate from a major conglomerate and visited their various operations, one of which turned out to be a slaughterhouse. It was the most shocking, terrifying and violent experience of my life. It was tangible proof of the abject failure of human beings to develop empathy for the suffering of other living beings. I think I now understand what Hannah Arendt meant in her work “Eichmann in Jerusalem” where she coined the term “the banality of evil”.
The sheer horror that morning affected me profoundly. I began seeing every mundane piece of daily life’s experience through the prism of animal cruelty. Passing a crowded restaurant, and knowing that it concealed a smorgasbord of murderous opportunities. Seeing an attractive woman at the ballet and being repulsed by the sight of her fur coat. Knowing that every butcher shop was a retailer of body parts from murder victims; every fast food chain, in my mind, became a gastronomic tobacconist and every bit as lethal.
So, I guess my client’s slaughterhouse made me a vegetarian on the spot. It did not occur to me that dairy was an equally vile gulag for animals. Once I saw the carnage of veal, artificial insemination of cows; the removal of bobby calves from their mothers, the cruelty of induction and the violence of killing “unviable” calves, dairy was another atrocity on the list.
How long did it take from the moment you had your realization to making the change?
One nanosecond. As soon as the penny dropped there was no going back. It was such a blinding glimpse of the obvious.
What has changed in your life from this decision?
The most important change is in the way in which see myself; being able to look in the mirror in the morning with a clear conscience. I feel more involved, more inter-connected, more grounded, more sensitive, and more alive. At another level, I feel healthier, more fascinated by the natural world, and more responsible for protecting the powerless and the precious.
How did you go from being vegan to speaking out on behalf of animals?
Paradoxically, I have always been a very private person. I have always admired the Prussian General, Count Moltke, a man who reputedly preferred to think rather than speak. A man silent in seven languages. Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper once described me as reclusive. And in a sense, it is true. I accepted the invitation to debate the animal industrial complex because the cruelty they inflict on the powerless is so egregious that I could not let it go unanswered. Almost everything the meat industry has drummed into our collective consciousness is a lie. Pure and simple. Unadulterated lies. The world is crying out for only two things. Leadership. And the Truth. I have no desire to lead anyone. But I am willing to speak the truth.
Please tell us about Kindness Trust. When did it begin and what is the mission?
Well, after my experience in the slaughterhouse, I threw all my energy into learning as much as possible about the plight of animals. Meat, dairy, hunting, vivisection, fashion, puppy mills, fishing, pets, shark-finning, caged birds, aquaculture, leather, circuses, dog fighting, and horse racing to name a few. The hideous cruelty of human beings covered the entire non-human animal kingdom. In fact, I could not find a single species that was not abused by humans. Not one. Nor could I find a single habitat that was not affected by human encroachment.
Once the horror had sunk in, my decision was inevitable. I would become a “pro-activist” for social justice. I decided to give away everything I possessed with warm hands. And die broke. And so far, I admit I am right on budget!
I wanted to be anonymous. So I created the “Kindness” name to conceal my identity. As events transpired, my cover was blown, so now I am more visible than I would wish. We are seen as “venture capitalists for good causes”. Right now we support hundreds of projects for children, animals, the environment, aspiring youth and the terminally ill. The projects are generally in countries where I get maximum “bang for my buck”. In a sense, I subconsciously measure the “rate of return on the funds invested” by the number of lives saved relative to the capital employed. Furthermore, animal rights is a low priority in most developing countries. Even where there is a well-established tradition of compassion to animals viz India, and a well-educated cadre of animal rights activists, fundraising domestically in these places is a major challenge.
Can you share the two clauses that you include in your leases?
One of my “unusual” projects is Kindness House. It started as an experiment, an “incubator” for not-for-profit organizations to operate. The “Kindness Campus” is a building that covers around 40,000 square feet. It is located in a bustling, colorful, thriving retail precinct, in the middle of hundreds of lively restaurants, clubs, cafes and businesses, within easy walking distance of the Parliament and the financial centre. We have around 300 highly educated, energetic and committed young activists working in the building – including dozens of wonderful groups like Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, Wilderness Society, Beyond Zero Emissions, Lawyers for Animals, Wildlife Victoria, National Multicultural Broadcasting Commission, and Vegetarian Victoria to name a few. 85% of the groups in the building pay nothing at all. Everything for them is free. We pay all the operating costs like municipal rates, taxes, water, electricity, air conditioning, heating, cleaning, security patrols, repairs, maintenance, and internet. The incubator provides fully serviced offices, boardrooms, meeting rooms, internet, kitchens, showers, mail facilities, intercoms, bike rooms, movie theatre, meditation gallery, and kid’s crèche.
We have two quirky aspects in the leases. One, if you eat animals in my building, I kick you out. And two, if you have a dog, and you don’t bring him to the office, I kick you out. Each dog has a bed, mattress, chew toys, and food bowl.
How do you view the animal rights movement? Where do you see us succeeding and what would you like to see done to make greater change?
“Animal Rights” is the greatest social justice issue since the abolition of slavery. It is growing, but it has not yet reached Mach speed. Once it does, there will be no stopping it. Unfortunately, our morally bankrupt political leaders are under control of the industrial meat-and-dairy-drug cartels. The term I have been using for many years is “the animal industrial complex”. But this sick paradigm will not last forever. Ignorance is not an incurable disease.
The animal rights movement is largely a leaderless movement. Do you think we need leaders and are you available?
I don’t see the movement as lacking leaders. If anything, we have a large number of leaders, wearing different uniforms, each of them in charge of platoons, divisions and brigades, all fighting in different theatres of war. But we do not have a single, unified army under the leadership of a single general. In a sense, this is the strength of a many-headed hydra. We can’t be killed off easily – and happily for us, there are not too many modern day Heracles’ who can do so.
But perhaps we need new kinds of leaders to be attracted to the “movement”. I do wish they all made an effort to sing, if not exactly out of the same hymn book, perhaps at least in the same key? Unfortunately, many groups are so focused on their own specific campaigns they tend to isolate themselves from campaigns being run by other activists. For example, how often do you see forest campaigners showing up at a rally or a fundraiser for campaigns against whaling, dairy, dog-meat, hunting, livestock, puppy mills, dog and cock-fighting, bear-baiting, circuses or vivisection? The forest and ocean campaigners are also stakeholders in the fight against the meat, dairy, poultry and hunting industries.
We are all members of a broad church. Everyone is welcome. We need to cooperate with each other and get the united message of solidarity heard everywhere. Trix and I encourage groups to see others not as competitors for scarce donor funds, but fellow travelers on the same kindness train; sharing the train, the locomotive, the track and the ultimate destination. That is partly why we don’t get too closely involved in the minutia of the groups we support. We try to stay calmly aloof, only showing up when we can help in a tangible way.
One of the gratifying experiences at Kindness House is seeing how the various groups help each other with no fanfare – even with simple things like sharing computer skills or film-making talent, collecting each other’s deliveries from couriers, attending each other’s fundraising movie evenings in our theatre, or sharing a meal on Friday nights. Of course, I understand there have also been a number of inter-group romances in Kindness House as well, but I guess that is inevitable! It is gratifying to see how many young leaders are emerging from the Kindness Campus.
How do you define your animal rights philosophy?
Given that we are all animals, I see animal rights as inseparable from human rights. Dostoevsky asks in The Brothers Karamazov “Is the suffering of one child worth all the wealth in the world?” And he answers an emphatic “No”. But what if it was the child of an ape? To my mind, it would make no difference at all. In fact, I see it more starkly. To be tortured by a member of your own species is bad enough. But to be tortured by a more powerful member of another species, for a purpose you cannot fathom, is horrendous. For me, it is more than speaking out in favour of “animal” rights. It is also about speaking out against “human wrongs”.
How do you view welfarism or incrementalism? Do you believe that this helps or hampers animal liberation? Do you believe that abolition will be achieved through welfarism?
The animal rights / welfare movement is highly balkanized. And this weakness has been exploited by the animal industrial complex. Unfortunately, there are a number of groups who have been seduced by the industry. They have hitched their “incrementalist” wagon to the industry business model, and in the process the animal rights groups have been marginalized. To use a technical term, the animal rights activists have been “crowded out” by bigger, better resourced groups who imply that bigger cages lead to no cages – and quicker kills will one day lead to no kills. Of course, we all know that this is a preposterous non sequitur. Anyone who tells me there is such a thing as “humane” slaughter should contact me. I see a wonderful business opportunity to sell them the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I seriously wonder how they define the word “humane”. It is a saccharine, feel-good word designed to provide convenient cover for an atrocious act of barbarism. And it gives consumers a smug sense of satisfaction that eating animals is ethical, after all. A ghastly con – a betrayal of the worst kind.
In Australia, the meat industry has already started talking about setting up their own “animal welfare” organizations to tell “their side of the story”. No doubt they will be recruiting from the ranks of the “welfarists”. The livestock industry here has even gone as far as hijacking the domain names of well-respected animal groups by claiming other unregistered domains such as .org or .edu
Having said that, I am in favour of improving the welfare of animals currently in the system. But let’s explicitly state that it is an interim step in the fast march towards ending animal exploitation completely. Like palliative care in a cancer ward; providing relief to the suffering, while working hard to find a cure that gets rid of the disease everywhere. No illusions. No delusions. My main objective is for the animal industrial complex to cease to exist. My idea of heaven. A bit like the old Soviet Union. We wake up one morning, and it is gone.
What are your thoughts on direct action?
I wonder, conversely, what is meant by indirect action? Writing a letter to a politician, the newspaper or calling a radio station? Sure, do that, by all means. I am all in favour of “indirect” action as long as it is also effective action. But there are times when it is just plainly insufficient. We seem to selectively “cherry-pick” the issues where direct action is acceptable. Intervention to stop an act of cruelty to a puppy or a kitten in the street will be applauded. Maybe even when someone intervenes to stop a commercial dog fight? But what about cruelty when an animal is slaughtered in the street for a religious festival? Or what about intervening when a hunter shoots a deer with a cross-bow? Or when female kangaroos are shot for pet-food, leaving at-foot joeys to starve to death? And dare I say it, what about the ubiquitous factory “farm”? Interfering with these sacred sites is tantamount to burning the flag. I follow the “ahimsan” principle of non-violence as assiduously as I can, but Gandhi has taught us that passive resistance, non-violence and civil disobedience can be effective in advancing a moral cause.
In interviews you talk about how the word vegan has been hijacked by industry. Can you speak to that and I wonder how you feel about those in the animal rights community who for reasons of the public comfort, choose not to use the word vegan, but rather use the word vegetarian. Do you feel like being honest with our language is important?
I think “vegan” is a beautiful word. It is more than just a descriptor for our diet. I see it as visible template for an ethical, healthy, responsible and rational life. Because it describes our character. It says we do not take the life of another living being to satisfy our wants.
Language is often hijacked for the vile purposes of the abuser. The word “negro” comes from the poetic Latin, “niger”. Soon becoming the abusive term “nigger”. The word “Humane” has been twinned with “slaughter” to become “humane slaughter”. “Genocide” has been sanitized into “ethnic cleansing”. The Japanese kill whales they do not need, in waters they do not own, for meat they cannot sell, for a taste they do not like and they call it “research”. The sign of the cross, the crucifix, 1,000 years before Jesus, was used in Asia and Europe to mean “do good” or “good luck”. It is now banned in public places because Hitler hijacked it and called it the Swastika. Likewise, the vegan philosophy is now used as a sneering term of abuse.
So I don’t know why ethical people should fear the vegan tag. After all, it is the animal eater who should be ashamed. Without even seeking it, the vegan occupies the moral high ground. It is the vegan who is on the right side of history. I would ask a simple question. Imagine there are two people who are identical in every conceivable way – except one. One is a vegan and the other is a meat-eater. All other things being equal, ceteris paribus, which individual is more ethical? The vegan or the meat eater? The answer is blindingly obvious to everyone. So, to answer your question, of course I believe we should be honest with our language. It is moral cowardice to sugar-coat the pill. The poor animals in these hell-holes deserve at least our honesty, don’t you think?
How do you view single-issue campaigns? Do you believe that campaigns fighting against fur, foie gras, banning wild animals in circuses, for example, are effective campaigns in our desire towards animal liberation?
Certainly. Every atrocity that is torn down is one less blight on the face of the earth. Besides, I have found that success breeds success. When activists succeed in one arena, they don’t retreat into a cocoon and shut their eyes and ears to the suffering from other species. A successful campaigner against hunting may shift his sights onto whaling, fishing or jumps racing, or general animal rights education. We have single issue campaigners at Kindness House who work for forests, climate change, refugees from war-torn countries or people with health challenges – and who also show up to help at fundraisers for Sea Shepherd, Wilderness Society, Edgars Mission and Beyond Zero Emissions. And vice versa. I find it reassuring (and entirely predictable) that a person who supports animal rights will also support Amnesty, or campaigns to end domestic violence or getting rid of plastic in the streets.
How do you deal with despair? How do you not get overwhelmed by the enormity of animal exploitation?
I think everyone in the animal rights movement suffer from compassion overload to a greater or lesser extent. In my case, most of my groups are in other countries in different time zones. So when there are mission critical emergencies in other countries, the ‘phone rings in Australia at strange hours, making uninterrupted sleep a rare luxury. Even when the ‘phone does not ring, an over-active mind still races through the night, waking me up with the ghosts of nightmares past. I am fortunate to have an extraordinary wife, Trix. Without her I would be lost. It is a great comfort knowing that I always have a safe place to fall.
Do you have any advice for activists? How to not burn out?
Whenever things get bad for us, I think about how bad it is for the powerless, innocent animals in those ghastly gulags of despair. It puts my pain into perspective. I also remind myself that I am in this space by choice. The animals are not.
I urge activists to take care of their health. Stay close to their families and loved ones. Be gentle with each other. And have a sense of humor. In recent times I have been meditating and have found this to be a great help. I also recommend drinking lots of water, getting plenty of exercise, play at least one sport, listen to music, read widely and enjoy hearty laughter at least once a day.
Stress just comes with the territory. Activists live more intense, sensitive and observant lives than others. So by definition, they are constantly vulnerable to the ubiquitous cruelty that exists. But, if forced to make a binary choice, I would rather burn out living a compassionate authentic life than rust out living a cruel, unexamined life. For me, there are no regrets.
There is no going back.