tagged w/ Sentient Beings
PLEASE add your names to the "Animal Rights = Veganism" group and start contributing and commenting and helping make more and more humans aware of what's going on, and what each and every human can do to make life good and safe and happy for all sentient beings.
I see 62 "members" of the Veganism group, but only 13 in the Animal Rights = Veganism group. Of course, I hate groups and joining, and all that kind of stuff but, at the same time, since Current HAS groups, we need to make better use of them to speak our minds, share important information, ask for help, get petitions signed, and ever and ever so much more.
PLEASE add your names to the... more
Wolf advocates hope that these pictures will go viral, shaming a nation into facing the torture people inflict on animals and the moral and political failures that promote and legitimize it.Wolf advocates hope that these pictures will go viral, shaming a nation into facing... more
Absolutely laugh-out-loud funny watching these two clever dogs!
Dead Cow Walking: The Case Against Born-Again Carnivorism
By Marc Bekoff
Dec 27 2011, 8:53 AM ET 614
Pigs, chickens, and other animals raised for food are sentient beings with rich emotional lives. They feel everything from joy to grief.
"Eating Animals," by Nicolette Hahn Niman, a livestock rancher, with help from deer hunter Tovar Cerulli and butcher Joshua Applestone, caught my eye because, at first, I thought this essay was authored by Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote a best-selling book with the same title. While Niman and her friends do rightly argue against consuming factory-farmed animals -- who live utterly horrible lives from the time that they're born to the time that they're transported to slaughterhouses and barbarically killed -- these three born-again carnivores, all former vegetarians or vegans, now proudly eat animals and think that it's just fine to do so. They gloss over the fact that even if the animals they eat are "humanely" raised and slaughtered, an arguable claim, they're still taking a life. These animals are merely a means to an end: a tasty meal.
The defensive and apologetic tone of this essay also caught my eye, as did the conveniently utilitarian framework of the argument. The animals they eat were raised simply to become meals because Niman and others choose to eat meat. I like to say that whom we choose to eat is a moral question, and just because these three now choose to eat animals doesn't mean that other people should make the same choice. Note that I wrote "whom" we eat, not "what." Cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals raised for food are sentient beings who have rich emotional lives. They can feel everything from sheer joy to deep grief. They can also suffer enduring pain and misery, and they don't deserve to have the good and happy lives provided by Niman and others ended early just so that their flesh can wind up on what really is a platter of death.
Wolves, lions, and cougars are not moral agents and can't be held accountable for their actions. But most humans know what they're doing and are responsible for their choices.
Cows, for example, are very intelligent. They worry over what they don't understand and have been shown to experience "eureka" moments when they solve a puzzle, such as when they figure out how to open a particularly difficult gate. Cows communicate by staring, and it's likely that we don't fully understand their very subtle forms of communication. They also form close and enduring relationships with family members and friends and don't like to have their families and social networks disrupted. Chickens are also emotional beings, and detailed scientific research has shown that they empathize with the pain of other chickens.
Raising happy animals just so that they can be killed is really an egregious double cross. The "raise them, love them, and then kill them" line of reasoning doesn't have a meaningful ring of compassion. And this isn't mercy killing (euthanasia) performed because these animals need to be put out of their pain. No, these healthy and happy animals are slaughtered, and if you dare to look into their eyes, you know that they're suffering. If you wouldn't treat a dog like this, then you shouldn't treat a cow, a pig, or any other animal in this way.
As a field biologist who studies animal behavior, I feel that the authors' appeal to what happens in the natural world -- "life feeds on life" -- is an illogical justification for their food choices. I've seen thousands of predatory encounters. I cringe when I see them, but I would never interfere. Wild predators, unlike us, have no choice about whom or what they eat. They couldn't survive if they didn't eat other animals. And indeed, many animals are vegetarians, including non-human primates, who eat other animals only on very rare occasions.
Jessica Pierce and I wrote about how appeals to nature are misleading and illogical in our book Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. We argued that wolves, lions, and cougars, for example, are not moral agents and can't be held accountable for their actions. They don't know right from wrong. On the other hand, most humans do know what they're doing and are responsible for their choices. When it comes down to whose flesh winds up in our mouths, we can make choices, and in my view, eating animals is wrong and unnecessary, even when they are "humanely" raised and slaughtered. Let me add a caveat here because, as a world traveler, I do know that many people do not have the luxury of making a choice about their meals and must eat whatever is available to them. However, those who do have that luxury can easily eat an animal-free diet. And we can work to show others that a vegetarian or vegan diet can be very economical and healthy.
Niman and her friends also note that vegetarian and vegan diets have "never really taken hold." So what? This hardly means that we shouldn't try to do the right thing. They write, "The vast majority of Americans who do try vegetarianism or veganism -- about three-quarters of them -- return to eating meat. Rather than urging people to consume only plants, doesn't it make more sense to encourage them to eat an omnivorous diet that is healthy, ethical, and ecologically sound?" No, it doesn't. What it means is that these people should try harder and not give up just because it might seem difficult to change their meal plans. Perhaps they just need more time and encouragement from other vegetarians who can show them how easy it is to stop eating animals.
It's easy to add more compassion to the world and to expand our compassion footprint. Excuses such as "Oh, I know they suffer, but don't tell me because I love my burger" add cruelty to the world, even if the animals people are eating weren't raised on factory farms and killed in slaughterhouses. You're eating a dead animal who really did care about what happened to him or her. When I ask people how they can dismiss the fact that an animal was killed for their pleasure, they usually fumble here and there and offer no meaningful answer. When I ask them if they'd eat a dog, they look at me with incredulity and emphatically say, "No!" When I ask them why they wouldn't eat a dog, they can't really tell me, offering statements laden with dismissive phrases, such as "Oh, you know...." Because I often travel to China to help in the rehabilitation of Asiatic moon bears who have been rescued from the bear-bile industry, people sometimes ask me, "How can you go there? Isn't that where they eat dogs and cats?" I simply say, "Yes, it is, and I'm from America, where they eat cows and pigs, who are no less sentient and emotional beings." Animals really are very much like us.
No matter how humanely raised they are, the lives of animals raised for food can be cashed out simply as "dead cow/pig/chicken walking." Whom we choose to eat is a matter of life and death. I think of the animals' manifesto as "Leave us alone. Don't bring us into the world if you're just going to kill us to satisfy your tastes."
Image: Kurt De Bruyn
Dead Cow Walking: The Case Against Born-Again Carnivorism... more
Humane Society files complaint against Smithfield Foods for animal welfare claims
PHOTO: Sows in gestation crates at an Illinois farm. (Heather Charles/Chicago Tribune)
November 02, 2011|By Monica Eng | Tribune Reporter
A day after Smithfield Foods launched a campaign to illustrate its commitments to sustainability, the Humane Society of the United States filed a complaint to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charging that Smithfield--the world's largest pork producer--is making false claims.
In question are the claims that Smithfield producers provide their hogs with "ideal" living conditions and that their animals' "every need is met." The HSUS believes these are not supportable when "the vast majority of its breeding sows are confined in gestation crates — metal cages that virtually immobilize animals for nearly their entire lives."
Gestation crates--in which sows are impregnated and remain for most of their pregnancy without the ability to turn around-- have long been targeted by the Society and other animal rights groups.
On the company's new smithfieldcommitments.com site, it says that it is trying to phase out gestation stalls at company-owned sow farms, as opposed to those of contract producers, and replace them with group housing.
"By the end of 2011, we will have 30 percent of sows on company farms in group gestation housing facilities. We have been making significant capital expenditures to increase the number of farm conversions."
Smithfield responded to the report with a statement saying:
"We are proud of our unparalleled track record as a sustainable food producer and stand confidently behind our company’s public statements concerning animal care and environmental stewardship."
As in the past, the HSUS is urging large food service companies, including McDonald's, to use their buying influence to pressure suppliers to change animal welfare practices more quickly.
“McDonald's has publicly recognized that these crates are not good for animals, but it still buys pork from pigs bred using this cruel system,” stated Paul Shapiro, senior director of farm animal protection at The HSUS. “It’s time for McDonald’s to get gestation crates out of its supply chain.”
This afternoon McDonald's Susan Forsell, Vice President of Quality Systems responded by saying:
"McDonald’s has been a long-time supporter of alternatives to gestation stalls, and we will continue to support the efforts of Smithfield Foods and all of our suppliers to phase them out. Smithfield Foods was the first major pork producer that committed to phasing out gestation stalls, and we support the company’s transparency and progress toward this goal.
"More than a decade ago, McDonald’s developed Animal Welfare Guiding Principles in conjunction with leading independent animal welfare experts, including renowned scientist Dr. Temple Grandin. We expect our suppliers to follow these principles, adhere to our commitment to continuous improvement and incorporate industry-leading management practices in animal welfare. We hold our suppliers accountable for compliance with our principles."
Humane Society files complaint against Smithfield Foods for... more
Troy Davis put to death in Georgia
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 11:56 PM EST, Wed September 21, 2011
Davis case to become global 'scandal'
NEW: Inmate tells victim's family he was not guilty
Troy Davis put to death late Wednesday
U.S. Supreme Court denied stay of execution
The original prosecutor says the facts support Troy Davis' sentence
Jackson, Georgia (CNN) -- Troy Davis, whose case drew international attention, was put to death by lethal injection for the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Georgia, prison officials announced Wednesday night.
Davis was defiant to the very end. After he was strapped to the death gurney, he lifted his head to address the family of the slain officer.
He told the family of Mark MacPhail that he was not responsible for the officer's death and did not have a gun at the time, according to execution witnesses.
Davis said the case merited further investigation, talking fast as officials prepared to give him the lethal cocktail.
The execution followed the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of a stay, allowing the state to proceed. Davis was declared dead at 11:08 p.m. ET.
Throughout the day, Davis' lawyers and high-profile supporters had asked the state and various courts to intervene, arguing he did not murder MacPhail in 1989.
Davis initially had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. ET. But the proceeding was delayed more than three hours as the justices pondered a plea filed by his attorney.
Several hundred people, most of them opposing the proceeding, gathered outside the state prison in Jackson where Davis, 42, awaited his fate. Others held a vigil in a nearby church.
The inmate's sister, Martina Davis-Correia, was among those who held a vigil outside the prison. Before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, she said officials needed to take more time to examine the case. "When you are looking at someone's life, you can't press rewind."
More than 100 officers, many in riot gear, stood guard over the largely-quiet gathering, which featured candles, occasional prayers and songs. At least three people who crossed the street had been taken away in handcuffs.
"Tonight the state of Georgia legally lynched an innocent man," Davis' lawyer Thomas Ruffin Jr. said. "Tonight I witnessed something tragic."
Davis' supporters, who also rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court building, argued that his conviction was based on the testimony of numerous witnesses who had recanted, including a jailhouse informer who claimed Davis had confessed.
"There's a genuine feeling among people here and across the nation that we're about to do the unthinkable," said Isaac Newton Farris Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
But prosecutors have stood by the conviction, and every appeal -- including the last-minute petitions filed Wednesday -- has failed.
Davis's supporters cheered and hugged each other when news of the earlier delay reached them. But it did not sit well with McPhail's mother, who remained at home.
Voice for Animals Humane Society in Edmonton Canada has produced three short slide shows focusing on three aspects of factory farming - factory farmed cows, chickens, and pigs. For more information on factory farming, and on V4A, please visit www.v4a.org.Extraordinary video.
Voice for Animals Humane Society in Edmonton Canada has... more
From The Veganomaly...
5 Smart[ass] Answers to 5 Dumb[ass] Questions About Veganism
13 May 2011
This is the first installment of ’5 Smart[ass] Answers to 5 Dumb[ass] Questions About Veganism’, a Q&A written by me and my partner Joseph (vegan for 22 years!) in the hopes of offering some catharsis to vegans everywhere, as well as practical answers to those often loaded questions that can come out of nowhere and leave you unsure of what to say. And because the people asking them tend to either be genuinely curious or openly antagonistic, we’ve created separate responses for each. The ‘Smart’ answers are designed for the well-intentioned omnivore, while the ‘Smart-Ass‘ answers are reserved for the pseudo-curious interrogator who really only wants to get under your skin.
This will be a regular feature on my blog, and here’s the exciting part– YOU can send in any question/comment you want addressed. Got an uncle who likes hunting and insists on rubbing it in your face? How about a coworker who stares at your quinoa salad like you’re from a different planet? Or what about the 100′s of good-hearted people who seem to ask the same dumb-ass questions over and over again? Send them to us! We’ll do our best to craft a clever response and hopefully make you laugh while we’re at it! Just fill out the form at the bottom of this post, with the question or comment you want answered.
Question One: Where do you get your protein?
The Smart Answer: Lots of places! Whole grains, legumes, nuts, tofu, soy milk, hummus, falafels, veggie burgers, bean burritos, pad thai – just to name a few. It shouldn’t be that surprising to learn that plants offer up lots of protein; if they’re good enough for big, strong herbivores like gorillas, elephants and rhinos, why wouldn’t they be good enough for us?
The Smart-Ass Answer: Where do you get your nutritional propaganda? Kwashiorkor, also known as protein deficiency, is all but non-existent in the developed world; it’s unlikely you’ll ever meet anyone who has suffered from it, vegetarians and vegans included. The real issue at hand is where YOU get YOUR protein, as it’s most likely from the body of a sick, suffering animal raised for the sole purpose of selling cheap, unhealthy food.
Question Two: But I’ve been to family farms and seen animals that have a pretty good life. What’s wrong with that?
The Smart Answer: I don’t blame you for thinking that the farms you’ve seen are fair to the animals while reflecting an industry norm. After all, the animal foods industry spends tens of millions of dollars a year trying to convince you that modern animal farms are happy-go-lucky places where kind, old farmers attend to their animals’ every need. The sad reality is that 99% of the animals raised for food in this country are raised in factory farms, most confined their entire lives to tiny cages or stalls where the vast majority of their most basic needs (comfort, freedom of movement, foraging, socialization, access to fresh air and sunlight, and so on) are never met.
People want cheap animal products from healthy, happy animals, but few realize that the two are mutually exclusive. Over 10 billion animals are killed and eaten each year in North America; numbers like that simply cannot be sustained without treating animals like machines. That is why at the end of the day, it’s not really the meat or milk or eggs that need to be marketed, but the myth about how they were produced. This is why it is relatively common to be offered a free tour of a ‘friendly’ farm showcasing a handful of ‘happy’ animals, but completely impossible to get a tour of a factory farm. The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth, because the truth would bankrupt them.
The Smart-Ass Answer: People said the same thing about human slavery. That didn’t make it right, and the fact that some farmers are ‘nice’ enough to give their animals food and room to walk around doesn’t make their exploitation right, either. The bottom line is that in 99% of all cases, farmed animals are raised for the sole purpose of marketing their flesh, milk, eggs, skin or hair at a profit, and if anything gets in the way of that (vet bills, high quality food, spacious housing), it will always be the animals who suffer. That is why even on the most ‘humane’ farms, practices like castration, dehorning and tail-docking are performed without anaesthetic; unwanted baby males are discarded or butchered; unproductive (read: not productive enough) animals are sent to slaughter; and so on.
If it was really about the animals’ comfort and wellbeing, the animals we’ve selectively bred to maximize productivity (at the expense of their physical and emotional health) would cease to be bred (read: artificially inseminated), and those that remained would be allowed to live out the rest of their lives in peace at places like Farm Sanctuary. Anything less than this is exploitation and abuse in the name of profit, pure and simple.
CONTINUED...From The Veganomaly...
5 Smart[ass] Answers to 5 Dumb[ass] Questions About... more
This author is NOT funny... or kind.
Getting to the Meat of the Issue
By Ryan Pike
Special to The Hoya
Published: Friday, March 25, 2011
Updated: Friday, March 25, 2011 04:03
A big-name PETA representative sparred with the Philodemic Society over the ethics of eating meat in Lohrfink Auditorium Tuesday evening.
A vegan since 1987, Bruce Friedrich, vice president of policy and government affairs for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has engaged in debates at nearly 35 schools across the country. Aiming to bring the organization's vision — PETA holds that animals are not for eating, clothes, experiments or human amusement — to Georgetown students, Friedrich faced off against Philodemic member Stephano Medina (SFS '12).Friedrich's resolution, the eating of meat is unethical, was not affirmed after it failed to achieve a majority of the 75 voting philodemic members. Overall there were 37 affirming, 34 negating and four abstaining votes.
Friedrich's opening address cited the resource inefficiencies and the environmental toll of sustaining a meat-based diet.
"It takes about 20 calories [in feeding] a chicken, a pig or a cow to get one calorie back out in the form of meat," Friedrich said.
He also emphasized the cruel treatment that animals are subjected to in order to produce meat.
"The things that happen to farm animals both on factory farms, and on organic farms and on free-range farms, a range of things happen to animals that would warrant felony cruelty charges were dogs and cats similarly abused," Friedrich said.
He asked if anyone would eat the gray cat pictured on the screen behind him.
"OK, four or five people are willing to eat Gracie, she's my cat," Friedrich quipped.
Medina countered that while humans do share some similarities with animals, the differences are far greater, diminishing humans' abilities to wholly understand and fully empathize with the experience of animals raised to produce meat.
"Although we can measure serotonin levels and we can measure stress levels, I ask you to have a little bit more respect for the spectrum of human emotion and say ‘I know what pain is to me, and I can't understand fundamentally what pain is to any other organism,'" Medina said.
Medina also emphasized the distinction between animals and humans.
"Are we obligated to treat animals with respect and compassion because of rights the animals have? No. If that were true, then every single time a lion ate a zebra in the wilderness, some immoral action would be occurring," Medina said.
After opening statements, Philodemic Society President Nicholas Iacono (COL '12) opened the floor to approximately 90 minutes of dialogue. The debate was dominated by members of the society, although a few nonmembers also had the opportunity to express their reasoning.
However, both keynotes failed to bring up an important topic according to Sam Dulik (SFS '13), the vice president of Philodemic Society.
"A quote is missing from this debate, and that is one that says ‘there is room for all of Alaska's animals out there right next to the mashed potatoes,'" he joked.This author is NOT funny... or kind.
Getting to the Meat of the Issue
Catskill Animal Sanctuary Director and Huffington Post Blogger Kathy Stevens shares a few practical tips about veganism with Oprah viewers taking the vegan challenge.
Originally posted at: http://casanctuary.org/2011/02/6-things-oprah-viewers-should-know-about-veganism/
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m excited about the attention that Oprah’s Tuesday show is bringing to veganism, a lifestyle to which I’m passionately committed. And I’m equally excited to do my part to support anyone eager to consider making this life-affirming, health-affirming, planet-saving change! So here, in no particular order, are six things you need to know about veganism.
1. Help is everywhere you turn! There’s a whole web-based world eager to THANK YOU and to hold your hand on this exciting journey! If you’re inclined to begin at the beginning and learn what we’re doing to the animals, I heartily recommend these books: Eating Animals, Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, and The Food Revolution. There are countless others. Do your own google search. Rather watch a film? Try: Death on a Factory Farm, Glass Walls, or Earthlings. Want to bypass the suffering and instead see cows, pigs, and chickens (and a host of other critters) for who they truly are? Check out my books: Where the Blind Horse Sings and the newly-released Animal Camp: Lessons in Love and Hope From Rescued Farm Animals. Don’t think it’s possible to love a pig? You’ve got some surprises coming!
2. You CAN treat your tastebuds! At least once a month for the last dozen years, my dad calls and asks, “Whatcha havin’ for dinner tonight? Sticks and leaves?” Folks: let’s dispel the myth that veggie cuisine is bland!! For general info and advice about nutrition, try the Vegetarian Resource Group, Savvy Vegetarian, VegSource, or The North American Vegetarian Society. To bypass the BS and get right down to cookin’, try these recipe databases: VegWeb, International Vegetarian Union, and VegFamily. Finally, check the Catskill Animal Sanctuary website, for regular updates from Chef Kevin Archer, director of Compassionate Cuisine. Far as we know, Catskill Animal Sanctuary is the only sanctuary in the world to offer a vegan cooking program. Join us, either onsite or via podcast, coming in February!
3. You can date without committing! Not sure you’re ready to strip the fridge bare? There’s nothing wrong with dating before you commit. Try choosing vegetarian restaurants to discover how varied and delicious veggie diets can be! Happy Cow is a database of vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly restaurants around the world. Just plug in your city or zip code and the distance radius you wish to search. If you’re a New Yorker, you’ll love SuperVegan’s “The Amazing Instant New York City Vegan Restaurant Finder“.
My advice? Choose the vegetarian and vegan restaurants rather those that have “vegan options.” You’ll find that restaurants truly committed to the lifestyle offer far more inventive, satisfying meals. Go ahead: tantalize your tastebuds!! Check out the menus from my favorite local restaurants: Garden Café in Woodstock, Luna 61 in Tivoli, and Karma Road in New Paltz.
4. A word of caution: Vegan does not equal healthy. There’s a lot of processed vegan CRAP out there filled with ingredients I can’t pronounce (and I ain’t stupid!). If you want to use this opportunity to take charge of your health, focus on simple, whole foods. Want some great advice? Grab a copy of my pal Kris Carr‘s just-released, New York Times-bestselling Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!
5. A new, better you awaits! I may not know you, but I know this about you: you’re a good person who values kindness, and who likely works hard to ensure that your actions embody this highly-cherished value. Just for a moment, let in the uncomfortable notion that every time you eat an animal, you’re subjecting an innocent sentient being–an animal who, when you get right down to it, is very much like us in ways that count–to a level of suffering you wouldn’t wish upon a child molester or rapist. Acknowledge your role in the suffering, and when you choose to go vegan, celebrate your choice to honor not only the animals, but also, and most importantly, yourself, for in embracing veganism, you’ll be aligning your lifestyle with the values you prize most deeply. And that feels good.
6. It’s okay to stumble. Let’s face it: change is challenging! Even vegan poster girl Alicia Silverstone has stumbled a few times – and that ‘s OK!! As someone who took several years to go vegan, I know what the resistance is about: habit, convenience, concern about family members’ reactions, lack of knowledge about what else to cook. If you decide to take the plunge, or even just to dip your toe in the water, be prepared to encounter resistance, even if it’s just from, well, your own noggin. Be kind to yourself in your heroic effort to be kind to all beings and to the fragile planet we inhabit..
The vegan train’s pullin’ out of the station people! Grab a seat for the ride of your life, and be sure to tell us about your journey.Catskill Animal Sanctuary Director and Huffington Post Blogger Kathy Stevens shares a... more
10 Things Everyone Should Know About Free-range Turkeys
posted by: Angel Flinn 1 day ago
Over 280 million turkeys are slaughtered annually for human consumption in the United States, despite the fact that such consumption is unnecessary for humans and absolutely horrifying for turkeys. 45 million of those deaths occur for the ritual of Thanksgiving alone.
Increasingly, as consumers are becoming more aware of the extreme cruelty of animal farming, free-range, organic and ‘natural’ animal products are gaining popularity. What many people don’t realize, however, is that animals raised under these labels frequently suffer through much of the same torment as those in standard factory farming operations.
1) According to the USDA, the terms “free range” and “free roaming” can be used to describe animals that “are allowed access to the outside for 51% of their lives”. There are no other requirements, including the amount of time spent outdoors or the quality and size of the outdoor area. For this reason, contrary to popular belief, “free-range” facilities are generally no more than large sheds in which tens of thousands of turkeys are crammed together on filthy, disease-ridden floors, living in their own waste. The conditions are often so poor that many turkeys die simply from the stress of living in such an environment.
2) Lighting is often kept dim to discourage aggression, since birds can engage in feather plucking and even cannibalism when they become highly stressed. Low lighting can cause reduced activity levels and result in abnormalities in growth, such as in the eyes and legs.
3) When raised for food, turkeys (even those described as free-range) are genetically modified to grow abnormally large -- often twice their normal size -- for producer profits. This genetic modification causes severe health problems, but since turkeys are generally slaughtered five months into their natural life span of 10 years, most are killed prior to the heart attacks or organ failure that would otherwise occur after six months. (This becomes apparent when genetically modified turkeys are rescued and allowed to live out the rest of their lives in sanctuary situations.)
4) “Natural”, “free range,” and “organic” turkeys are routinely subjected to debeaking, which is intended to prevent overcrowded birds from pecking at each other. Debeaking involves slicing off about one-third of a bird’s beak with a red hot blade when the turkey is around 5 days old (or often even younger).
5) To prevent cannibalism due to stressful conditions, turkeys sold under the above labels are just as likely to be subjected to detoeing. Detoeing is a very painful procedure which involves cutting off or microwaving the ends of the toes of male turkeys within the first three days of life.
6) Free-range, organic and natural operations are also allowed to practice desnooding, which consists of the cutting off of the snood (the fleshy appendage above the beak). Desnooding is an acutely painful procedure, and is often done with scissors, or using methods that are too brutal to describe here.
7) By the time the birds are sent to slaughter, as much as 80 per cent of the litter on the floor of the shed is their own feces. This results in a buildup of ammonia, causing turkeys to develop ulcerated feet and painful burns on their legs and bodies.
8) When they reach market weight, free-range turkeys generally undergo the same horrifying conditions on their way to slaughter as does any factory-farmed animal. Workers gather these birds up to four at a time, carrying them upside down by their legs and then throwing them into crates on multi-tiered trucks. During transport, they are at the mercy of the elements, sometimes enduring extreme cold, and are denied access to food or water.
9) After transportation, free-range turkeys arrive at the same slaughterhouses as turkeys from any other facility. In these places, workers often torture the turkeys – kicking them, throwing them into walls, and breaking their necks and bones.
10) Even when turkeys are not intentionally tortured during transportation or at the slaughterhouse, the killing process itself would certainly be considered torture if done to a human being. The birds are hung upside down by the legs, and dipped in an electrical bath that is supposed to “stun” them, but often only causes convulsions and terror. If they miss the stunning bath, their throats are slit while they’re still conscious. Sometimes, because they are flailing around, they miss both the bath and the blade, and end up alive in a scalding tank designed to remove feathers.
As anyone familiar with animal sanctuary operations will tell you, turkeys are intelligent, social beings who nurture and protect their young and thrive in their natural habitat. Even when they are stressed and confined in “free-range” concentration camps, they have an amazing will to live, as do all sentient beings.
In the extremely rare cases where turkeys are raised gently in someone’s backyard, slaughter by any method is intentional killing of the innocent and clearly unnecessary for humans, and is therefore wrong and logically indistinguishable from murder.
Instead of practicing the primitive ritual of making the sacrifice of a turkey the focus of Thanksgiving dinner, consider giving thanks for all life by having a vegan thanksgiving. Being vegan inspires a new sense of self-esteem which comes from not contributing to the unnecessary and heartless killing of those who simply want to live their lives, as you do.
with Dan Cudahy10 Things Everyone Should Know About Free-range Turkeys
posted by: Angel Flinn 1 day... more
Petting Dogs, Eating Pigs | By Tim Gier
Posted on November 10, 2010 by timgier
Nicolette Hahn Niman published a piece at The Atlantic titled “Dogs Aren’t Dinner: The Flaws in an Argument for Veganism”. In it, she opines that the argument “we ought not to eat pigs because we don’t eat dogs” doesn’t hold water. What she’s arguing against are the ideas that we value our dogs (and other “pets”) more than farm animals and that we value them for themselves. That is, she argues against the idea that we don’t eat dogs (in most western societies anyway) because they have moral value to us.
What she contends is that, rather than placing any moral value on our “pets”, we don’t eat dogs because we use dogs in a different way that doesn’t involve eating them. We couldn’t use dogs as we do if we ate them too. In the same way, we can’t generally use pigs in the same ways we use dogs because we eat pigs. It isn’t a moral calculation that we make when we decide to not eat dogs, it is an instrumental one. Since our preferred use of dogs is as playmates, companions, helpers, etc., eating them would be at cross-purposes to those uses. Since our preferred use of pigs is as food, keeping pigs as “pets” would be generally at cross-purposes to that use.
So, there isn’t any “moral schizophrenia” at work here. For there to be moral schizophrenia at work, we would have to assign moral value to our dogs, such that the moral value would be the operative fact preventing our use of them as food. But, Niman says that isn’t the case. She notes that whether a society treats a particular nonhuman species as a “pet” or as food, it has nothing to do with the animals themselves, but only with local tastes and customs. It’s the same as one culture eating dandelion greens and another throwing them away as weeds.
Niman also notes the long shared history between human and canine animals, over tens of thousands of years, which has resulted in our unique relationship. She doesn’t explain why some cultures choose to eat dogs nevertheless, but in any case she doesn’t describe this relationship in moral terms. Dogs are part of our family, but not part of our moral universe.
Unfortunately, Niman is right.
One need only read about how families in the Gulf Region of the United States, in the midst of the BP Oil Spill crisis in the summer of 2010, abandoned their dogs and cats in reaction to economic hardship. Most people living in modern western societies wouldn’t abandon an actual family member in times of strife; it is deemed unconscionable. But “pets”? When times are tough, all bets are off when it comes to “pets”.
I know of a family who, when they realized that they could no longer care for the Capuchin monkey they had lived with for 19 years, abandoned their “pet” to the care of a sanctuary. Even though they had raised the primate from infancy and had treated him as family, when he later became ill they couldn’t be bothered to visit him. Later still, as he lay dying in the middle of the night, the only people to comfort him were the loving strangers who took him in. His real family just couldn’t be bothered.
There is no moral schizophrenia at work in out relationships with nonhuman animals. We treat them all as things, every last one, dog, pig, cat, monkey, fish, it matters not. It isn’t moral schizophrenia at all, it is moral bankruptcy.
So Niman is right, but in winning this point, she shows why she must lose the larger argument in the end. The real question that needs to be answered isn’t why we treat dogs differently than pigs, but what gives us the right to treat them both merely as things? Whether it the use of a dog as a convenient playmate for our children, who will be discarded when he becomes no longer convenient, or whether it is the use of pigs as food we buy in convenient plastic wrapped packages, all uses of other animals as things is wrong.
Nonhuman animals are here on this planet for one reason, and one reason only. Just as is the case with you and me, they are here to give their own lives meaning, and not to serve as the means for the satisfaction of others. Niman misses this basic point, and mistakenly thinks that because we can control the lives of others, because we can decide who to pet and who to slaughter, that it gives us the right to. She’s wrong, we have no such right.
Go vegan.Petting Dogs, Eating Pigs | By Tim Gier
Posted on November 10, 2010 by timgier... more
Cows help rescue mama cow's baby during flash flood.
Earth's animals face grim future
Major extinction event taking place, with many wondering what animals will disappear from the planet forever
Getty Images: Two of the most important and plentiful groups of marine animals 250 million years ago were corals and brachiopods, also called lamp shells. After the Great Dying, corals were almost wiped out
By Jennifer Viegas
updated 9/2/2010 2:34:41 PM ET
Corals, big mammals and many tropical species could all go extinct in the not too distant future, predict scientists who are attempting to forecast the fate of today's animals by studying what happened to those in the distant past.
A complication is that no prior mass extinction event on the planet was driven by a single species. In a period of more than a half-billion years, only three such extinction events appear to have been as devastating as the present one, which is being caused by humans.
"We're 100 percent responsible for it," John Alroy, a researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University, told Discovery News.
"There is no precedent at all for what we're doing," he added. "All well-understood extinctions in the deep fossil record are tied to environmental changes that were not triggered by the behavior of individual species, such as the asteroid impact 65 million years ago that wiped out the terrestrial (non-avian) dinosaurs."
Alroy used the Paleobiology Database, which compiles data from nearly 100,000 fossil collections worldwide, to track the fate of major groups of animals during Earth's most massive extinction event 250 million years ago: the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event, also known as the "Great Dying."
Alroy, whose findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Science, focused on marine animals, since the fossil record includes many such species.
He determined that two of the most important and plentiful groups of marine animals 250 million years ago were corals and brachiopods, also called lamp shells. After the Great Dying, corals were almost wiped out.
"There are almost no early Triassic coral fossils in the world," explained Alroy, who added that corals "eventually recovered all of their lost diversity."
The lamp shells, on the other hand, never recovered. While they're still in existence, they exhibit little diversity and not many of them are around compared to other animal populations.
He said these are just a few examples from the past that demonstrate how a species-rich animal group may not necessarily fare well after a major extinction event. The rules governing their, and other animals', diversity change over time, and really go off the chart during and after mass extinction events.
Species-rich animal groups "could happen to be very vulnerable to the particular mechanism that creates a particular mass extinction," he said. They could also lose all of their subspecies, or "during the scramble to fill empty niches after a mass extinction, rival groups may get there first, making it difficult for a group to get back where it was."
Alroy is particularly worried about today's corals.
"They don't seem to do well when there's a big environmental change," he explained. "It's possible that future reef builders won't be corals at all. At different times in the past, reefs have been built by such organisms as sponges and clams."
Mammals with big body sizes, highly endemic tropical species, and certain plants may also die out before this latest extinction event concludes, Charles Marshall told Discovery News. Marshall is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, where he also directs the university's Museum of Paleontology. He wrote an accompanying "Perspectives" article in the latest Science.
Marshall agrees with Alroy that studying past extinctions and diversity patterns can help us to learn what makes different groups of animals more or less prone to dying out.
In terms of humanity's impact on the planet, Marshall also agrees that "we have no evidence of a single species causing such havoc."
"However," he added, "if you are willing to broaden the taxonomic scope a little, when cyanobacteria started producing oxygen in abundance, they basically poisoned the world, converting it from one that was primarily anoxic (without oxygen) to one that was oxic."Earth's animals face grim future
Major extinction event taking place, with... more
Two colonies of a prehistoric shrimp that evolved when the dinosaurs ruled the Earth have been found alive and well in the Caerlaverock nature reserve on the Solway coast
A field near Gretna in Dumfriesshire might not be an obvious place to find the world's oldest living creatures, but a team of scientists has done just that
The discovery has led experts to think there could be more of the little crustaceans, which are listed as endangered species, elsewhere in the area.
The ancient creatures, known as Triops cancriformis or tadpole shrimps, are thought to have the oldest pedigree of any living animal. Fossil evidence suggests they have hardly changed in the more than 200m years that they have been around.
Wild tadpole shrimps can grow to more than 10cm long and are remarkable in surviving three major extinctions in the Earth's history. The shrimps have an extraordinary lifecycle. They live in temporary pools of water in which they lay eggs. When the pools dry out, the adults die off, but their eggs remain dormant until the pools fill up again.
Researchers at Glasgow University discovered the rare shrimps after collecting samples of mud, which were dried out and then made wet again before being placed in glass tanks. A fortnight later Elaine Benzies, a research student, noticed a tadpole shrimp swimming around in one of the aquariums. "I hadn't expected to find it and was just going in to check on the heat and lights. It was great to see everyone in the lab gathering round and peering into the tank to look at this ancient survivor from the past," she said.
Until recently, researchers believed the ancient shrimps lived only in a single pond in the New Forest in Hampshire. Six years ago, Larry Griffin, a scientist at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, discovered what appeared to be an isolated colony of the creatures in a pool at Caerlaverock.
"At the time it seemed that the Caerlaverock colony was a vulnerable historic outlier," he said. "But now that we know how this curious creature survives, we have realised that there's a good chance there are more populations out there.
"Triops matures rapidly and produces hundreds of eggs in just a couple of weeks. The pond they live in may dry out, but the eggs can survive in the mud for many years. Although in the UK they are all females, they have both male and female reproductive parts, so just one egg needs to survive to regenerate a whole population."Two colonies of a prehistoric shrimp that evolved when the dinosaurs ruled the Earth... more
Monday, May 24, 2010
On Various Religious and Secular "Justifications" of Unjustified Violence
Abolitionist vegans vary in their religious beliefs from “atheist activist” to “spiritual” to sincere adherence to any one of the five major religions of the world. The philosophy of abolitionist animal rights and veganism seeks the end of unnecessary violence, killing, and harm inflicted on innocent sentient nonhuman beings. As such, there is nothing inconsistent about combining such a wide range of secular and religious beliefs with a strong belief in abolitionist animal rights and veganism. Indeed, the idea that unnecessary intentional violence, killing, and harm are wrong and unjust is a widely accepted principle across all religions and secular moral belief systems. Abolitionist animal rights and veganism consistently extend this widely agreed-upon principle to all beings who can and should benefit from it, specifically sentient nonhuman beings. Logical consistency in moral thought is part of the essence of abolitionist animal rights and veganism, regardless of the religious or secular background surrounding it.
Unfortunately, however, there are many people who have used their religious or secular beliefs to “rationalize”, or attempt to “justify”, unnecessary violence, and often extreme violence, against both innocent human and nonhuman animals.
Religion-Based Violence Inflicted on Innocent Humans
Examples of religion-based violence inflicted on innocent humans include the notorious Inquisitions from about the 1200s to the 1700s, which authorized torture in investigating heresy and execution by live burning of convicted heretics; related witch burnings in the 1500s and 1600s; religious colonialism; religious wars of all kinds; and religious and biblical “justifications” of human chattel slavery.
When we look at religion-based violence against humans, we see that it is usually  not the religious beliefs per se, but aggressive people and groups violently forcing the religious beliefs on others that are the problem.
Secular-Based Violence Inflicted on Innocent Humans
Examples of secular-based violence inflicted on innocent humans include violent uprisings in support of political ideologies from the far right (fascism and Nazism) and the far left (Soviet and Maoist Communism); violent uprisings in support of liberalism (secular and economic colonialism against indigenous people); human chattel slavery in agriculture-based economies; and morally questionable wars fought for mostly economic interests, rather than for legitimate national defense, per se.
Again, as with religion-based violence, when we look at secular-based violence against humans, we see that it is usually  not political ideologies per se, but aggressive people and groups violently forcing the ideologies on others that are the problem.
Religion-Based Violence Inflicted on Innocent Nonhumans
Examples of religion-based violence against innocent nonhumans are manifested in people’s consumption of lactation products, eggs, and flesh; use of leather, wool, and fur; attendance at rodeos, zoos, and circuses; and support of animal experimentation, etc. The idea is often stated that God “put” nonhuman animals here “for us” (which is remarkably similar to the religious justification of human chattel slavery). Another idea is that God granted rights to humans, but not nonhumans (or white humans in slavery days, but not nonwhite humans in slavery days), so that we are justified in inflicting unnecessary and intentional violence on them in the form of slavery, exploitation, punishment, and death.
If we give this notion that God has sanctioned unnecessary violence toward the innocent any thought at all, we see that the religious beliefs themselves become ludicrous. The notorious “Problem of Evil” in justifying a morally decent god’s existence in light of evil so ubiquitous in the world becomes absolutely insurmountable. After all, any god who intentionally created innocent, sentient beings for the purpose of food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation is certainly a monster worthy of the strongest contempt. We may fear such a monster dreadfully, but it is insane to worship such a morally repulsive entity. Obviously, the same goes for any god who would sanction torture and live burnings. We might fear such a nasty, powerful entity, but we cannot coherently worship one. On the other hand, if a god desires nonviolence toward all sentient beings as manifested in veganism, only then is the god good and worth worshiping. To believers I ask, “Which is it? Is God good or monstrous?”
Secular-Based Violence Inflicted on Innocent Nonhumans
Examples of secular-based violence inflicted on innocent nonhumans are again manifested in people’s consumption of lactation products, eggs, and flesh; use of leather, wool, and fur; attendance at rodeos, zoos, and circuses; and support of animal experimentation, etc. Secular speciesists generally use Darwinism and Hobbesian social contract theory as their “justification” for inflicting unnecessary, intentional violence, killing, and harm on the innocent.
They claim superiority over other species on the basis of their supposed “rationality”, “empathy”, and ability to enter into an imaginary “social contract” with those people whom they presumably would otherwise exploit, harm, or kill (good thing for that imaginary “contract”); but in a spectacle of self-contradiction, adjust themselves to the level of supposedly “non-rational, non-empathic, amoral” animals in exploiting, harming, and killing other species. One might think I was referring to people who lack self-control and emotional development in describing such irrationality, but no, I’m talking about supposedly emotionally mature human adults with fully-developed prefrontal cortexes. It boggles the mind how strongly irrational cultural prejudice and, in some cases, social pressure, can completely dominate otherwise intelligent, independently-minded people. For a brief analysis of such irrationality, see my essay entitled “Rational Ignorance and Rational Irrationality”.
Stop the Unjustified Violence
There are no excuses for unnecessary violence, exploitation, harm, or killing inflicted on innocent human or nonhuman animals. All of the “justifications” rooted in various religious and secular beliefs are really a reflection of the nature and cumulative environment of the individuals who espouse violence. But many individuals can, to a large extent, overcome their past environment by willingly committing themselves to nonviolence and nonviolent environments.
Veganism, by definition, is the rejection of unnecessary, intentionally-inflicted violence, harm, exploitation, or killing regardless of the species membership of the innocent sentient being who would be the victim of such violence. If you are not a vegan, learn how to go vegan starting today (see some of the links in the sidebar for information about how to go vegan). If you are a vegan, encourage others to go vegan by informing them on why and how.
 The exception to the religious beliefs themselves being violent or harmful is that of specific chapters and verses in holy books that promote violence (whether it be killing, slavery, rape, war, torture, or any other form of violence).
 The exception to the political ideologies themselves being violent or harmful are doctrines of violent revolution in some left-wing ideologies, and implied or expressed social Darwinism, and greed, and self-absorption lurking behind many right-wing ideologies.
Posted by Dan Cudahy at 9:03 AMMonday, May 24, 2010
On Various Religious and Secular "Justifications" of... more
Norwegian School of Veterinary Science doctoral student Janicke Nordgreen has studied nociception and pain in teleost fish. Her conclusion is that it is very likely the fish can feel pain.
In her dissertation, Nordgreen studied the response to potentially painful stimuli in groups of cells and at the individual. As consciousness is essential to feel pain, Nordgreen tested as well whether fish can be taught to solve a task as in humans requires conscious attention.
The research on pain and nociception (physiological detection of stimuli that can cause tissue damage) in fish is important primarily because pain is a serious threat to animal welfare. In addition, the research may increase our understanding of the evolution of consciousness and the nociceptive system.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100112090126.htmNorwegian School of Veterinary Science doctoral student Janicke Nordgreen has studied... more
Yangon - A French film company is making a documentary on Myanmar's elephants employed in the logging industry which will compare their lifestyles with those employed in tourism in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, media reports said Sunday. Compass Films finished three weeks in the Bago Mountains filming the Myanmar segment of the program, which is to be shown on the National Geographic Channel, the Myanmar Times reported.
Shooting will also take place in Thailand, India and Sri Lanka, before the documentary is completed by the end of this year and aired in the first half of 2011, Compass Film director Klaus Reisinger said.
The 90-minute documentary, to be entitled Life Size Memories, will compare the life of elephants to those of humans and also compare their different working conditions in the four selected Asian countries.
"Elephants are individuals, just like people are. We try to show how different they are from one another. They have different personalities, faces, histories and styles," Raisinger told The Myanmar Times, an English-language weekly.
The film company decided to document working pachyderms in Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India because elephants are treated differently in each country.
"In Thailand , elephants don't work in the timber industry - they work in the tourist industry. And they are not in very good shape because the conditions aren't good," Raisinger said.
"Even though logging is very hard work for the elephants, they have fixed working hours. When they aren't working, they are free to roam the forest naturally. But in Thailand and Sri Lanka elephants are kept confined," he said.
Reisinger and his fellow filmmaker Frederique Lengaigne have already shot two films in Myanmar, both of which were shown on National Geographic Channel.
The first, aired in 2000, was called Elephant Power. The second was afilm on Myanmar's Sea Gypsies who live in the Myeik Archipelago, filmed in 2002.
http://www.earthtimes.org/newsimage/French_crew_films_100110.jpgYangon - A French film company is making a documentary on Myanmar's elephants... more
In this day and age where it is still acceptable to be a speciesist, many of us find ourselves struggling to change this antiquated attitude towards the animal friends we share our beautiful planet with. Why do human beings prioritise one species over another? This very set of ethics is responsible for the horrendous way in which man treats animals.
In the words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, 1952 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, "We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognise it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace."In this day and age where it is still acceptable to be a speciesist, many of us find... more