December Days

The festive consumer extravaganza is in full swing here in Scotland. Wandering aimlessly in a supermarket, I see a myriad seasonal items depicting animals; curly-coated lambs, fluffy bunnies, pink piglets, yellow chicks and doe-eyed, long-legged deer delightfully adorning pyjamas, duvet covers and all sorts of consumer tat.

Meanwhile, only a couple of aisles away in the chilly miasma of the mortuary aisles are the dismembered and bloody remains of these very same sweet young creatures, the whimpers of loss, terror and agony that reflect what our species REALLY does, all conveniently swept under the rug of our collective delusions. Meanwhile, we cling to a distorted perception of ourselves as ‘animal lovers’.

A few shelves along, adorned in glossy wrappers and tinsel we find displays of dairy chocolate confections for which despairing and defeated mothers and their panic stricken newborns were torn apart for ever. We are never taught about this as children, are we? We are taught self-serving fantasies about cows being milk machines. We are told that we’re doing them ‘a favour’ by hooking them up to pumping machinery every day. Hens, we are told, exist only as animated dispensers to provide humans with eggs. Some of us, myself included, even reach adulthood without questioning such nonsense, and once habit and custom addicts us to cross-species-breastfeeding, and using other individuals as if their lives were ours, our common sense seems to switch itself off.

In other aisles we find ‘wool‘ and ‘cashmere’, ‘sheepskin’ and ‘leather‘ gifts for our loved ones with luxury labels. We are raised to be ignorant of the slaughterhouse-tainted origins of every flayed skin, of shaved fibres, plucked feathers and fur trims. When we are told of hide pullers and agony, it’s so hard to believe that many reject it outright.

Yet it was those same slaughterhouses that vomited out the body parts and substances  for our glistening festive tables, those slaughterhouses that await the ‘dairy’ mothers and their infants, the egg-laying hens, the wool and cashmere-producing sheep and goats once their life sentences in hell are over; those slaughterhouses that will be the only escape for every individual whose broken body and destroyed life we insist upon to put in our trolleys.

And meanwhile, to the sound of jingling bells, carols and Christmas songs, we buy torment wrapped in tinsel, and the sobbing, agonised whimpers of innocent infants in clingwrap.

We call it a celebration of ‘peace on earth’.

We need to think again. We really do. We need to be vegan or stop fooling ourselves.

Find out about being vegan:
https://www.goveganscotland.com/
https://goveganworld.com/what-is-veganism

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Actions and consequences. A ‘meal deal’ with a side of honesty .

At some time in our lives we have all tried to shrug off personal responsibility for our behaviour, and sadly I speak from experience. It’s very difficult to acknowledge failings as our own, but if we are sincerely trying to be the people we think we are already, there comes a time when we each have to face the consequences of actions that we negligently decide upon in the face of plentiful alternatives; disregarding our many choices either because we refuse to educate ourselves about them, or because we dismiss them as too much bother.

‘Saving’ victims by being vegan

To start, here’s something I’d like to get off my chest. I want to address the many claims we read about the number of animals we ‘save’ by being vegan. Here’s a shocker. I have never, ever, seen an accurate estimate of this – not even sure it’s possible – and there are two fairly obvious reasons why; technically we don’t ‘save’ anyone by being vegan; we remove our personal consumer demands from the regime of death and bloodshed that services the consumer demands of nonveganism, and if this results in any significant change, it is only that the victims who would have been brutalised on our behalf are not brought in to this hell that our species has created for them. Not one single desperate and frightened victim is ever given the chance to turn their back on the slaughterhouse and go home with their loved ones to a life of comfort, respect, and companionship. Removing our demand for their flesh, if enacted on a sufficiently large scale, could at best mean that our victims will never exist; their parents will never be sexually violated to birth or hatch them. I don’t know about you but I’m willing to be vegan for that.

The second reason is that every single estimate that I have ever seen of the number of creatures that our monstrous tyranny creates, is incorrect. As a former maths student I have struggled to come up with accurate statistics but even I have failed.  How then would it be possible to say how many creatures are spared from existing each year by each human individual who decides to stop being part of the nightmare? 10? 100? My nearest estimate would be well in excess of 350 and that would be based only on land  and aquatic individuals – i.e. it excludes so many statistically unrecognised groups that, while it’s slightly closer to the mark than the oft-quoted ’10’ which is absolute nonsense, it’s so random as to be meaningless. Apart from that, a reduction in demand needs to become an established trend before supply reduces to catch up. That’s economics 101. And it’s also worth noting that the human population is currently expanding exponentially.

Meal deal bargains

Anyway. These thoughts came to mind recently on coming across a ready-made pack containing ‘Honey mustard chicken pasta’. It was in the supermarket section where ‘meal deals’ (a ‘main’ a beverage and a snack) are sold for £3.00 (UK currency – please check it out if you are based elsewhere).  Amongst the many ingredients were listed the following: ‘chicken breast, milk, creme fraiche, yogurt, honey, and egg’. I have a minimal income but by any standards £3.00 is cheap.

If you are not vegan, the chances are that you may not have even read the label – at one time I would have been you. If you are vegan, the label becomes sinister, dark and deeply distressing. And now I can imagine the eyes rolling. ‘Oh ffs – sinister? These vegans never give it a rest! It’s just a wee carton for goodness sake!!’  Nevertheless indulge me while I clarify this to any who dismiss it as ‘just a list of ingredients’.

For that ‘wee carton’, the following defenceless creatures endured an existence that would disgust and horrify every single one of us; an existence that not one of us would consider acceptable for any living creature; an existence that every reader would be very quick to condemn, to protest about and to declare that they would have nothing to do with anyone who felt otherwise.

231053‘Chicken breast’ and ‘egg’:

  • Sexually mature male and female chickens incarcerated in unnatural proximity to each other without possibility of refuge or escape, in ‘breeding facilities’, incessantly copulating, wounding themselves and each other to lay an endless number of eggs until too hurt and exhausted to go on, after which they are slaughtered;
  • ‘Meat’ chicken eggs hatched in these breeding facilities, transported to establishments where they spend their entire 42 day existence, growing as fast and as cheaply as possible uintil they are trucked to a slaughterhouse, slung from shackles, elecrocuted (if lucky) and have their throats sliced open to bleed to death, all without ever knowing a mother, or in many cases even daylight. In what is termed ‘processing’, their pitiful infant corpses are desecrated, hacked apart and packaged generically as ‘breast’ or ‘thigh’, ‘leg’ or ‘wing’ etc;
  • ‘Egg laying’ chickens hatched in breeding facilities, transported to establishments where as a result of our ruthless genetic tampering and selective breeding their entire brief existence is spent convulsing in agony to lay 20 times the number of eggs their bodies were designed to lay (mostly in cages according to statistics, regardless of claims to the contrary by those who continue to use these defenceless little birds);
  • The males of chickens hatched for their eggs, a different breed from those whose flesh is devoured, and who are considered to be ‘waste’ by the ruthless ‘egg’ industry funded by nonvegan dietary preference. An estimated 8 billion of these newly hatched, peeping infants are suffocated or ground up alive each year.

‘Milk, creme fraiche, yogurt’:

  • Bulls forcibly masturbated by hand or by electro-ejaculators wielded by humans to yield sperm for artificial insemination. Bulls are slaughtered when their profitability wanes;
  • Cows inseminated this way who carry their infants in their wombs for 9 months, only to have them taken away as newborns, after serving the purpose of triggering lactation in the swelling udders of their bereft and anguished mothers;
  • Calves taken from their grief-stricken mothers, the males for slaughter, the females to be groomed as replacements when their still-young mothers are too physically and psychologically broken by their ordeal to continue and are sent to slaughter;

Honey

  • Honey is a food bees make for themselves and their offspring through a lifetime of hard labour. Bees are sentient creatures who are ‘farmed’; sexually violated, mutilated, brutalised and killed in the same way as our species does to any other creature whose lives we want to profit from. I have no idea how many are killed annually this way; billions, trillions, who knows? Everything bees do in their mysterious, social, cooperative lives is on a scale we humans can scarcely imagine. Each bee produces just a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in his/her lifetime. It takes a combined effort of flying 55,000 miles to visit two million flowers to produce one pound of honey. In order to fill their stomach, each honey bee will visit up to 1,500 flowers to collect enough nectar. 
    Wild species are dying out, unable to compete for food as a result of our species ‘farming’ of those whose honey we steal for our financial advantage.  Honey is definitely not vegan and despite misleading articles that suggest otherwise, it’s not open for debate. There are always going to be humans who want to carry on indulging their taste buds and convenience by harming members of other species, yet still call themselves ‘vegan’. It’s a sad fact. I’m glad I don’t have to live with their conscience. My own is bad enough.

Price vs cost – having the stomach for the truth

So there we have it – the tale of that cheap ‘meal deal’ that comes at an absolutely breathtaking cost.

Uncounted birds; male, female, infants of differing breeds, uncounted bovines; bulls, cows, calves; uncounted bees both male and female; all of them unrecognised and nameless, sexually violated, treated as commodities, as ingredients and as trash by our morally bankrupt species. With every nonvegan purchase utterly responsible for every violation, every trembling newborn, every heartbroken mother, every single victim whose body parts, and whose existence of misery made up that ‘ingredient list’.

Of course each of us does have a choice. Each one of us can look at this horror and decide here and now that this isn’t the way we thought it was, we didn’t realise what we were responsible for and we’re desperately sorry. I’ve been there and so, I’m sure, have many who are reading this now.

If that’s how it is, the answer is easily within our reach. All we need to do is say, ‘Enough. I’m not doing that any more – not even for one more day.’  And then we become vegan.

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About the words we use: ‘waste’

The concept of ownership of members of nonhuman species and every single one of the uses we make of them, stems from the ugly prejudice known as speciesism, a prejudice with which almost every one of us is indoctrinated from birth.  Even once shrug it off and decide to become vegan, we can each find little pockets of undetected speciesism lurking in our minds, and for me as for many others, recognising and eliminating these lingering remnants is an ongoing challenge. The key requirement is a deep and sincere desire to embrace the values that are important to us. In rooting out any remains of our own speciesism, the words we use in unguarded moments can teach us so much about our subconscious attitudes to nonhuman use and animal rights. We need only to listen to ourselves.

I’ve previously written at length about the notion of ‘waste‘ as it relates to animal rights.  Particularly as the reality of our planet’s dwindling resources is seeping into mainstream awareness, ‘waste’ is a word that provokes strong feelings. The topic is frequently raised in relation to animal-derived substances for consumption, but practices perceived as waste avoidance are also defended by vegans and nonvegans alike in connection with wool,  leather, and other substances.

The general justification is that since these ‘products’ are occurring anyway, and since the individuals whose bodies produce them don’t (in our extremely biased opinion) have any use for them, then it’s ‘wasteful’ not to use them. There’s even a related notion of it being somehow ‘respectful’ to use up every part of a slaughtered nonhuman corpse.  Apart from anything else, the idea that substances are ‘just there and needing used up’ totally ignores the fact that in almost every single case, our species has selectively bred our victims, manipulating their bodies to maximise the production of whatever aspect of their lives and bodies that we intend to profit from financially, without any concern or consideration whatsoever for their wellbeing.

However, in this instance, I was reminded of the topic of ‘waste’ because substances we casually refer to as ‘milk and eggs‘ had been left by mistake on the doorstep of a vegan household. A question arose about the ethics of giving them away since the vegan household had no use for them.  I’ve known the phrase ‘to save waste’ to be used in this context many times but I’m never comfortable with it, and once again I found it buzzing through my thoughts all day. So what’s my problem with it, since the avoidance of waste is highly desirable in today’s fragile world? I came to the conclusion that the word ‘waste’ when used in connection with any substance or service that makes use of the life or the body of a nonhuman undividual, is a beacon that points the way to ingrained speciesism, and speciesism is incompatible with veganism.

Looking for answers and guidelines

For various reasons, our ideas of ‘waste‘ are hard to dislodge.  We can easily get bogged down in circular conversations about whether passing on nonvegan items and substances is creating consumer demand in recipients who will likely buy from a store the next time, whether it’s acceptable if the recipients are destitute, or whether we are sending out a message that might leave us open to accusations of thinking ourselves ‘holier than thou’ by passing on to others, substances that we consider ourselves ‘too ethical’ to use. We can get embroiled in debates about what should be done with nonvegan substances that clearly exist whether we want them or not, what we should do with the nonvegan items we still own, and so on.

And these are definitely issues we have to face up to and decide, and in most cases the answers are not simple.  But the answers are personal, reached only after much soul searching, and lie in the heart of each of us. They hinge mainly upon the extent to which we have purged speciesism from our minds. I can’t write a manual for what to do with your old leather boots, or your old sheepskin coat, or that hat with the fur pompom that you have a sentimental attachment to. Nothing that I say can take the place of your conscience, just as nothing you can say will take the place of mine. All I know is that I’ve finally reached a stage where, despite living in poverty, I would rather do without than consume or wear body parts that were not mine to begin with and so any forgotten items that I come across are cremated or given a decent burial. If a package of breastmilk or flesh or eggs were left in my house, I would treat them in exactly the same way as if I were to find a dead wild creature in my garden. They are not food so I have no mental conflict about the matter. I took a while to get to this place of certainty, but it does not in the slightest ease my burden of guilt for the past.

A surprise delivery

It is often written that being vegan means that we stop considering the lives as bodies of others as being for our use. Specifically, we do not see other individuals as ‘food’, but to get a real sense of what this means, I find an analogy helps cut through to the heart of the matter.

Imagine that by mistake, a delivery driver leaves a package on your doorstep from an ‘exotic meats supplier’, who can’t be contacted to re-deliver to whoever ordered it. Closer examination of the package reveals the slaughtered and shrink-wrapped corpse of a *dog who, in life, would have looked exactly like the furry four-legged sweetheart who shares your home and your bed. Picture the scene. What thoughts that would go through your mind?

Would your first thought be about how the meat was going to go to ‘waste’? Would you decide that as this dog was ‘bred for eating‘, it would be only ‘respectful’ to find someone with the appropriate dietary preferences to pass the body on to? Or would you feel sick and shocked and traumatised? Be honest now; no one will know what you’re thinking here but your own conscience.

I admit that I’d be traumatised, but then I frequently experience that emotional response in the mortuary aisles of the supermarket. My instinct would be to cremate or to bury the tragic remains; and for my soul to apologise profoundly for whatever torment had been endured.  I would be swamped with grief and shame for my species, but the word ‘waste’ would never enter my head – not even fleetingly.  I suspect that many readers would share this same revulsion. Very few would be agonising about how awful it would be for ‘meat’ to be ‘wasted’.

So back to the original delivery

So to come back to the original delivery of ‘milk and eggs’; what’s the difference between that and my analogy? I’m sure there will be some who say they’re not the same, but if we think there’s a difference, it can be only because in our minds, we subconsciously still perceive the eggs of small birds selectively bred into bodies that self-destruct, and the breastmilk of mother mammals whose infants we have taken from them at birth, as appropriate foodstuffs for our species.

But cutting through all our justifications, there’s really only one difference between the two tragic packages, and that difference is speciesism. Just as with humans, there are species that we don’t ever consider to be food, although like humans, their flesh, their breastmilk and body parts comprise the same basic components as our victims. But because we don’t think of them as food, we can’t think of their corpses, their body parts and reproductive secretions as ‘waste’ simply because we ourselves have no use for them.

The decision to be vegan is far from being the end of the road; it’s just the beginning of a journey of self discovery. As we travel that road, we won’t always like what we find and there is pain and sadness aplenty, but speaking purely for myself, I cannot regret a moment of it. All I regret is that I didn’t set out sooner. Speciesism. Reject it.

 

 

*A dog is the example used here, simply because so many people share their homes with dogs and in the western world the species is synonymous with our irrational favouring of one species over many others who share the exact same qualities and attributes. It should not be inferred from this that dogs are the only species affected by the selective speciesism of humanity.

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Say ‘cheese’ – but there’s nothing to smile about

Image by Louise Jorgensen is of a mother dairy goat, ill and defeated, still dripping breastmilk as she awaits slaughter.

I’ve just been watching a mainstream TV program in the UK about ‘meat free eating’.  As a blogger and an animal rights advocate I’ve written extensively about the difference between veganism and the various dietary permutations that are adopted so often by decent people who sincerely want to stop hurting and killing members of other species because they have begun to realise it’s not necessary to harm any creature for us to be healthy.

Very often we adopt these dietary permutations because the available information about them is extremely misleading. There are many reasons for this, that I won’t go into in this post (but which you may find by exploring my site) except to stress the primary underlying factor. Those who profit from creating victims for nonvegans are making so much money from doing it that they really don’t want you to stop and your confusion is greatly appreciated by them. As far as they’re concerned, they would love for you to stay completely bewildered – in the same way that I was for years.

However tonight – let me share one clarifying piece of information. The recipe I’ve just watched on this programme that I mentioned contains a vast quantity of butter (easily substituted by nondairy alternatives) and a big wedge of cheese – ‘parmesan’ as a matter of fact. There was a passing reference made to the fact that ‘vegetarian’ cheese is available, but as usual, it was passed off as inconsequential. So here’s a thing. How many nonvegans know the difference between 1) the kind of cheese we were all raised to think of as ‘normal’, 2) vegetarian cheese and 3) vegan cheese?

The differences between these are anything but trivial from the perspective of the defenceless creatures who are paying with absolutely everything they have for our careless  indulgence.

1) The kind of cheese we were all raised to think of as ‘normal’

This is made from the breast milk of mother mammals. These may be cows, goats or ewes, buffalo or camels, we have no scruples and no restraint as a species. These mother mammals were forcibly impregnated for the sole purpose of triggering lactation (breast milk production) and very shortly after their infants were born, often still wet from the womb, they were taken away so that the mothers’ breastmilk could be sold to humans.

The ‘traditional’ manufacture of cheese requires an acidic substance to curdle that breast milk and in the case of what most of us were raised to consider ‘normal’, this curdling agent is called ‘rennet’. So far so good. Show of hands for who knows what ‘rennet’ is?

Rennet is a substance made by the stomach of an infant mammal; a calf, a kid, a lamb, that forms part of the process of digesting the breastmilk of his or her mother. For cheese production, it is obtained by slaughtering the newborn and extracting the substance from their stomach.

So just to recap, for ‘traditional’ cheese, we have a forcibly impregnated mother mammal, her newborn who has been separated from her so her breastmilk can be sold to humans for profit, the same distraught and terrified infant whose throat was hacked open in a slaughterhouse so that their infant stomach can be cut open to extract the rennet so that humans can make ‘cheese’.  I doubt if that’s the way most people think of it, but these are the facts. Check them out – this is the age of Google. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people find that idea somewhat revolting, so surely the ‘vegetarian’ option may seem more appealing?

2) Vegetarian cheese

This is made from the breast milk of mother mammals. These may be cows, goats or ewes, buffalo or camels, we have no scruples and no restraint as a species. These mother mammals were forcibly impregnated for the sole purpose of triggering lactation (breast milk production) and very shortly after their infants were born, often still wet from the womb, they were taken away so that the mothers’ breastmilk could be sold to humans. No difference so far.

The ‘traditional’ manufacture of cheese requires an acidic substance to curdle that breast milk and in the case of ‘vegetarian’ cheese, that substance is derived from a source other than the stomach of a slaughtered infant. There are several plants, types of molds, fungus, and bacteria that have natural coagulation qualities and can be used in place of animal rennet to make cheese. In researching the details for this post, I found that GM nonhuman DNA is now sometimes added to some of these options so the resulting substance more closely resembles ‘traditional’ cheese. I read that ‘no animals are harmed this way’, which rather emphasises my point about misleading information.

To recap, for ‘vegetarian’ cheese, we have a forcibly impregnated mother mammal, her newborn who has been separated from her so her breastmilk can be sold to humans for profit, the same distraught and terrified child whose throat was hacked open in a slaughterhouse. The minor difference in the manufacture of the ‘vegetarian’ cheese did not save the infant from being taken from his or her mother, did not save them from death, but may have postponed the terrifying slaughter until their body was sufficiently grown for their dead flesh to generate more profit for the victim makers and butchers.

I can only wonder whether the ‘vegetarian’ option sounds so good now?

3) Vegan cheese

Vegan cheese is made from plant substances that closely resemble ‘traditional’ cheese and ‘vegetarian’ cheese in both taste and texture. No innocent members of other animal species are harmed in its manufacture, and the available range of such cheeses expands every day and is obtainable in every supermarket. What more do I need to say?

By paying for harm and the death of innocents, we ensure that it will continue to make profit for those without scruples who make money from our ignorance. Is that really who we are? Be vegan.

 

 

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Victims in the shadows; …And they’re off!

Image by http://traslosmuros.com/?

Image by Aitor Garmendia of Tras los Muros

Today I’d like to offer some points to ponder, as outrage rocks social media about the slaughtering of Australian racehorses whose lives have been used, broken and discarded by the horse racing industry.

Like all other institutions grounded in our abuse of our fellow earthlings, horse racing is a supply industry that works from the bottom up. Bear in mind that it’s not just the wealthy and glamorous wanting to be seen and to socialise with the ‘right people’ in their designer gear, who drive this vile industry.  Every bet or ‘flutter’ (‘Just a pound each way’), every ‘office sweepstake’ (‘Go on – there’s just a couple of numbers left!’) on the latest race, no matter how harmless they seem, are ways that ordinary people everywhere endorse and approve the bloodbath and ensure that it will continue. There was a time that I was complicit. Be honest with yourself and search your own conscience.

And horse use is a global issue although to listen to the howls of outrage one would be forgiven for thinking only one country is involved. The horrors we inflict on this species are not confined to the ‘entertainment’ industry; they are ‘only’ a contributor to an overall obscenity. Did you know that globally, in a single year (2017), 4,772,355  horses were slaughtered to be eaten?

That’s 13,075 individuals every single day, who are trucked to our slaughterhouses, their broken beauty and neglected grace electric-prodded and manhandled into line to meet terrifying and gory deaths with blades and saws wielded by members of our species whose wages we pay.

The countries contributing to these statistics are listed below* and include every part of the world. Just because a country does not appear on the list, nothing can be assumed. Many countries export horses to facilities in neighbouring countries. As an example the majority of those trucked to one European slaughterhouse in a single year were found to have travelled long distances by road from other European countries.

As with other species, slaughter occurs by the cutting of both carotid (neck) arteries which results in their bleeding to death. In some cases horses are hanged by the neck from chains until they suffocate; just one method of subduing the power of a large creature whose utter terror  – even in a wounded and depleted state – makes their desperate fight for life dangerous to their killers and a financial risk to their plant and equipment. It is violent, gory and agonising. Like all our victims, their fear is simply off the scale.

And the reason this atrocity happens? Once again this is the manifestation of the ugly prejudice called speciesism, apparent in our use of these creatures for their dead flesh, as unpaid labourers, as commodities in entertainment industries. And it doesn’t end there, they are used as laboratory test subjects and as imprisoned producers of hormone replacement drugs (using pregnant mares – Google premarin).

In the words of the late Tom Regan,

‘The fundamental wrong is the system that allows us to view animals as our resources, here for us – to be eaten, or surgically manipulated, or exploited for sport or money. Once we accept this view of animals – as our resources – the rest is as predictable as it is regrettable.’

It’s not the legislation that needs to change; we don’t need more of it, or better enforcement. Every single use that we make of others stems from the mistaken idea that their lives are ours to use and ours to take. And we need to stop that. Completely. No exceptions. This is what needs to change – this arrogance, this ignorance, the sheer brutality of thinking we have the right to ‘own’ other individuals and use them for our interests.

I beg you to look at the individuals behind the brutality of our species. All it takes is a moment to decide that no more innocents will be so afraid that their legs can hardly bear their weight; no more innocents will stand defeated in a slaughterhouse queue in sickened horror on our account.

Make that decision today. Say, ‘Not in my name’ and decide to be vegan. It’s simply the right thing do do.

 

*Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Réunion, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, China

All statistics via FAOSTAT

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Looking at language: Cull

Cull.  We see the word applied increasingly to the mass killing of numerous species; to deer and to foxes and to seals, to pigeons, crows and even swans. The word is in the news at the moment, being applied to the mass slaughter of an anticipated 63,000 badgers, an indigenous wild species in England, one of the countries that make up the UK. The stated reason is an effort to curb the spread of tuberculosis in herds of bovine victims being cultivated to meet the demands of nonvegan consumers. In other words, this particular atrocity links back directly to nonveganism.  As nonvegans, the majority of the very people who are so outraged and so vocal about this admittedly outrageous decimating of the population of wild creatures, are the very ones on whose behalf it is ostensibly being perpetrated.

The science about whether this wholesale bloodbath has the desired effect remains controversial. Nevertheless as with everything else in a society that elevates animal agriculture (the practice of needlessly creating victims out of unconsenting and defenceless individuals while destroying the planet and exacerbating the risk of disease in humans) the precautionary principle that would rein in the excesses of hunger for profit in any other sphere, is overruled thanks to the political and financial clout tied into the huge subsidies that the animal use industries reap from the public purse.

‘Cull’ is a word that’s somehow typical of our dishonest species. It’s a word that seeks to convey tones of benevolent husbandry, implying care and bucolic concern towards a natural world that somehow just can’t seem to balance itself without kindly intervention from our species.

Really such euphemistic posturing is just a feeble attempt to dignify the unforgivable, to cloak the brutality, the egotism, the delusions of superiority and the lust for blood and money of a species that has lost all semblance of decency. What’s happening in almost every case is an eradication of one (usually wild) species from their natural habitat, in order to clear the way to make money from cultivating the victims of nonveganism.  It is carried out to perpetuate the profit-making potential of the regime of forced reproduction, of using to death and finally slaughtering in cold blood, of the innocent individuals of nonhuman animal species who have been selectively bred to make money for a brutal industry at a catastrophic cost to their own wellbeing and their birthright to live free from our absolutely needless violence.

If this flagrant destruction of the few wild species that remain disgusts us – and it should – we must begin by stopping our personal participation in the system that drives these atrocities. We do that by becoming vegan. What we do next is up to each of us. Be vegan.

Cull
Verb: reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter.
Noun: a selective slaughter of animals.

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Thoughts on the price of folly

Image from 2015 is of a pig tied down in a flooded shed, alive amongst the dead. By Tras los Muros

Planet Earth is experiencing an escalation of extreme weather events. This escalation will continue for as long as we fail so utterly to grasp that one of the main causes – if not the main cause –  is our own brutality; our needless use and slaughter of trillions of sentient individuals every single year to indulge dietary preferences that are entirely unnecessary. Unless we embrace this truth and act, both as individuals becoming vegan, and collectively as societies demanding the end of the institution we know as ‘animal agriculture’, our species will suffer greatly, probably to the point of extinction.

We are no longer vaguely contemplating some distant eventuality that need not concern us as the short-lived organisms that we humans are; the consequences of our failure to act are sweeping down upon us with the velocity and force of an avalanche. You and I may well suffer devastating impacts upon food availability, our homes and our lifestyles, and with the passage of time, our children will suffer even more  than we do. When we are dead and gone, will they ask why we didn’t do anything while we could still have made a difference? They’ll have every right to do that, and I can’t think of anything that could excuse our negligence.

Everybody hurts, everybody loses

As tempests rage across the globe, we have witnessed, and will continue to see, nightmarish images of our captive victims in the hellholes where they have drowned, or have been incinerated by climate-wrought floods and fires. We will be shown the pits where their often still-living selves are being covered with lime and buried in efforts to contain the rampant diseases unleashed by our greed for greater profit in a world already terminally overburdened by the weight of the trillions of lives brought into being by our interference in their reproduction; their numbers raised to impossible levels by human hands as they ‘breed’ and artificially inseminate the innocent for use as the resources of our single, brutal, predatory, species.

Images such as I describe are hard to look at. The blackened ashes no longer indentifiable as ever having lived or breathed, the bloated corpses bobbing alone or in groups on the surface of putrid floodwater, images that echo with the screams of fear and panic that we can imagine only too well. Suddenly, in these pathetic corpses, we can’t avoid awareness of their ordeal and the veil of our own delusion of superiority slips, however briefly. We suddenly recognise just how much we have in common with the tragic, bobbing dead, with their mottled, gas-filled bellies, mouths gaping in grimaces of their dying agony. We would need to be fools indeed not to see ourselves in their plight, not to empathise with their horror and despair as death approached and there was no escape. What would we have done? How could we have endured to see our loved ones share our death throes, each powerless to do a single thing to help the other?

And here, in this brief glimpse that acknowledges our kinship with the dead, our shared sentience, we must try to find and grasp the key that unlocks the myths of our presumed but mistaken need to inflict the inevitable consequences of our violence and brutality upon all other species on the planet.

With the horror, comes anger and disgust

So often the images I’ve mentioned provoke strong reactions in those who see them. Outraged viewers insist furiously that such barbarity should not be permitted; should be legislated against; that it should not go unpunished. The vitriol pours on a tide of righteous indignation. However to free ourselves of our delusions, we must first face a few harsh truths and we must do so unflinchingly.

All of the individuals whom we see portrayed in the nightmarish images were on death row. They were born and they were hatched on death row. They were there because we, as consumers, continue to demand their young and broken bodies for our use and consumption. We do this despite the fact that it is completely unnecessary. By being individuals who use our cash to buy substances and services derived from the unconsenting bodies of others, we make it absolutely clear that we consider them to be nothing other than commodities for our use, at the expense of their own lives and interests. Regardless of the myths of entitlement and justification with which we seek to justify our atrocities, this is the stripped-down truth of the matter.

We cannot logically profess to care about them as living, breathing, sentient individuals with feelings exactly like our own, (or indeed expect anyone else to care in that way) when the only reason they have been caused to exist, is to deprive them of the lives that they so desperately want to live after keeping them alive as economically as possible until the most financially profitable time for them to be slaughtered in cold blood.

Abandonment to disease, to fire, flood and tempest is horrific. No sensible person can deny this.

Who are the real monsters?

However the ordeal that they endure in the legally sanctioned regime of oppression that is nonveganism, in order to be used for their breast milk, their eggs, their flayed skin, their body parts, dead flesh, forced labour or as test subjects tortured in the name of ‘science’ is not in any sense a better option. Yet that is the legally-sanctioned and inevitable reality. From violent conception to slaughter via an existence that minimises costs to maximise profit, our standard practice is a gory and brutal process.  They plead and they whimper in terror and agony but are ignored in the name of industry profit and consumer convenience.

So when we see those horrific images of fire, flood and disease, we need to be outraged; we need to be disgusted. But we also need to be honest about exactly where the responsibility lies. That means that we must stop being the reason that they were in those hell-holes to begin with.

Make no mistake. We are now in the midst of the fight of our lives; the fight for THEIR lives, and the fight for the very existence of our living world. The planet we are destroying is theirs as much as ours.  As we saw off the branch our species is sitting on, we must remember that our victims are sitting alongside us, helpless passengers on our journey to ruin.

We need to become vegan and there’s not a moment to lose.

Posted in Global disasters, Sentience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts about diluting the animal rights message

http://traslosmuros.com/?

Image by Aitor Garmendia / Tras los Muros

For a moment, please imagine if you will, that this page were to highlight something horrific being done to humans, something such as torture, sexual violation, or forced labour. Imagine an article describing men, women and children, families and friends torn apart, desperate, degraded, and broken, as they beg and plead for the torment to stop, to be left in peace. What do you think the take-home message would be?

‘This needs to stop and it needs to stop now.’

I’m sure that’s simply what any decent person would expect. Here’s another question to consider. Do you think that a day will ever dawn when all humans will have stopped inflicting sickening brutalities on those whom they decide to oppress? For myself, I doubt it. So since brutality may never stop completely, does that have any effect on the message that it needs to stop and stop now? No, of course it doesn’t. Well so far, so good; I trust there’s nothing controversial up to this point?

Spreading messages via social media

So picture this; a social media post that summarises these points and attracts ‘likes’, ‘loves’, ‘sad faces’ and ‘angry faces’. Again, what you’d expect. It is also shared a number of times which is excellent – that’s how messages spread and how we provoke thought in our friends and contemporaries. We often add a message of our own when we do this, don’t we? So what do you think we should say in this case?  How about:

  • ‘This shouldn’t happen to so many people.’
  • ‘Increase the age limit for separating infants from their mothers!’
  • ‘Support shorter hours for forced labourers!’
  • ‘Please be kinder and cut down on this.’
  • ‘Support more pleasant environments for sexual violation!’

You may be thinking by now that this is some kind of sick humour, and I truly wouldn’t blame you. Such comments are so offensive that they make me queasy. Please hold that thought while we shift back to our victims.

Animal rights and human rights

The main focus of this page has always been and will always be, Animal Rights. This means that instead of horrors inflicted on humans, it highlights the disgraceful practices that are inflicted on our victims, the myriad activities that constitute our unnecessary exploitation of their lives, their reproduction, their forced labour, and the parts of their violently slaughtered and dismembered corpses. The take-home message on every single post and blog, is always the same; always absolutely uncompromising,

‘This needs to stop and it needs to stop now.’

It’s encouraging that these articles are liked and shared, and I often see the sharer add a message of their own – which as I said before, can be brilliant to emphasise the point.

Why is it then, that on the back of a completely uncompromising explanation of why we have no right whatsoever to create victims, do I so often see things like:

  • ‘Try cutting down on meat.’
  • ‘Make kinder choices.’
  • ‘Boycott factory farms!’
  • ‘Try going meatless for a couple of meals a week!’
  • And then the gem that sparked this blog, ‘Try buying free-range’?

When challenged, the response is frequently that the writer of such a message considers that animal use is too entrenched to ever stop, hence their remark.

If it’s good enough for humans, it’s good enough for everyone

However. If the wildly offensive messages about human exploitation were not justified by the fact that our species is always likely to cause harm to each other, why on earth would the equivalent in offensive messages be justified when applied to our defenceless victims? The short answer? It’s not. Wrong is wrong, whichever way we slice it. To post an offensive message about other animals when we would be deeply offended by the equivalent if it were applied to humans, is a perfect illustration of our speciesism talking.

Our victims have no one but us to tell the truth about the grave injustice of the ordeal to which we routinely subject them. We owe that truth to them as they queue in the milking parlours and hatcheries and slaughterhouses; and we owe that truth to every single member of our own species. Those who are unable or unwilling to face that truth must live with their own conscience, but we cannot afford to dilute it.

Trillions of lives are depending on this, and the desperate urgency of their plight is being added to each day by the collapsing ecosystems for which our predation is directly responsible. We are running out of time. Tell the truth!

Posted in Advocacy, Speciesism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Defining veganism in light and shadow

I have always stood by an assertion that veganism was perfectly adequately defined by Donald Watson and his contemporaries when they first developed the philosophy and the words to describe it:

The vegan believes that if we are to be true emancipators of animals we must renounce absolutely our traditional and conceited attitude that we have the right to use them to serve our needs. We must supply these needs by other means. If the vegan ideal of non-exploitation were generally adopted, it would be the greatest peaceful revolution ever known, abolishing vast industries and establishing new ones in the better interests of men and animals alike.

~ Donald Watson (2 September 1910 – 16 November 2005)

That definition works for me. And yet, after several years of being vegan and of reading and blogging about animal rights, and despite having a fairly good idea about the specifics of the obscenities we inflict as a species, I still come across new atrocities that make me feel sick to the pit of my stomach. In this world where our relentless use of all other species, our destruction of their habitats and our devastation of even the very planet that we all inhabit is so ubiquitous, it seems that the majority of humans have absolutely no idea how widespread, and how serious our crimes actually are. And the industries that perpetrate the atrocities have no scruples whatsoever when it comes to disguising the truth about what consumers are paying them to inflict.

Against this unenlightened backdrop I find it increasingly difficult to describe what veganism actually is, because veganism is not an action. Veganism is the light that has a shape only because it is shining through the darkness of our atrocities as individuals and as a species, the patch of clear blue sky that is framed by storm clouds. Veganism is the peaceful calm that is left behind when the activities that comprise nonveganism are stopped.

To be vegan is to stop being nonvegan

Recently I posted about a gentle and timid pheasant family in my garden whose innocent lives are likely to end in terror and the gore of a shotgun blast in less than a month’s time. I  found myself reflecting that while sensationalist and profit-driven media prattle on about ‘vegan options’ and ‘vegan diets’, giving coverage to mendacious industry-funded scaremongering about health issues alongside the array of propaganda of unscrupulous industries that simply want to continue to profit from the violence that they inflict on defenceless creatures on behalf of consumers, few are being assisted to join the dots that we all need to join before we can finally live in line with our values.

Because veganism is a non-action, and nonveganism is the action, we all need to focus sometimes on nonveganism, because it is only by seeing it, understanding it, opposing it and utterly rejecting it, that we can finally appreciate the inactivity that is left. This is the way I understand veganism, through seeing and being repulsed by the many activities that comprise nonveganism.

Nonveganism is loud and proud and highly visible. It’s the dark cloud, the profit-hungry shadow that sweeps us along. And as supporters of nonveganism we are only too willing to be carried along, cocooned in a desperate need to think well of ourselves, despite demanding activities so vile that we would vomit if we actually thought about them, despite paying with our consumer cash for places where defenceless lives are farmed, where innocent creatures are used, tormented and broken, and hell holes where the sobs of the dying echo amidst the stench of blood and entrails.

So today as an example I’m considering the nonveganism around my remote cottage, the nonveganism never mentioned in the media, the nonveganism that I never appreciated until I reached that patch of clear blue sky that I mentioned earlier and looked around me at the shadows. This isn’t about ‘vegan options’ or ‘diets’, it’s not about me or ‘my health’, it’s not about what I’m wearing or driving or the labels on the things that I buy. This is about pure and simple veganism, seen only in relief by looking at its opposite.

Country life? Country death.

My friends, the pheasants, exist as a result of intensive and lucrative reproductive exploitation by my species, are set free in the wilds for a season and then used to make profit as nothing more than interactive targets by selling shooting ‘privileges’ to those who find pleasure in killing. That’s nonveganism in action.

They share the wild areas near my home with shy and private deer whose lives are bought and sold in the same way as if they belonged to my species rather than to themselves. Interactive targets sold for profit; nonveganism in action.

Along with pheasants and deer, grouse, partridge and woodpigeons live in the few wild hedgerows and thickets. These shy and timid little birds are seldom spotted, going to enormous lengths to avoid humans and with very good reason. Interactive targets with a price on each tiny head; nonveganism in action.

There are hatcheries nearby where salmon and trout are ‘bred’, the reproduction of both male and female individuals violated by human hands that lift them from the water and ‘milk’ the eggs and sperm from their bodies, cultivating vast numbers of offspring in tanks that are then emptied into local rivers and reservoirs in an activity known as ‘stocking’. Thus they become interactive targets where ‘fishing rights’ are sold for profit: nonveganism in action.

I could go on but on this occasion I won’t. It is not for me to list every violation, every atrocity, every affront to decency that surrounds us all. We all need to think for ourselves – we all need to face our own eyes when we look in a mirror. All I can hope is that today everyone who reads this will focus in on the nonveganism that we are all taught to ignore or endorse. See it for what it is and don’t balk at the truth. Then reject it. Refuse to be part of it even for one more day.

Once we stop being nonvegan, all that’s left is veganism.

Be vegan today.

 

 

 

Posted in Victims in the shadows, What is ...? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Victims in the shadows: emus

This series of short blogs hopes to shine a spotlight onto ways that humans exploit other creatures for financial gain, ways about which the majority of consumers are unaware. This is not intended to shock; it’s intended to illustrate and provoke thought.  All the atrocities we commit, are what inevitably happens once a regime of oppression has been universally accepted to the point where it is not even not even perceived as oppression, and passes unchallenged by the majority.

Speciesism

This is what has occurred with speciesism, and that deeply entrenched prejudice lurks in the terrible shadows at the heart of every single one of the uses of our fellow creatures that we make, demand and pay for.

Just as a reminder, speciesism results in the practice of according or withholding the rights that belong to others by virtue of their birth, based solely upon their species. It is a prejudice with which we are indoctrinated from childhood, that leads to our unfounded assumption that we may harm and kill members of all other species for whatever trivial reasons we devise, without conscience and without any moral justification whatsoever.  Most of us reach adulthood completely unaware that the prejudice even exists, despite the fact that it dictates almost every choice we make in our nonvegan lives as we needlessly butcher, flay and pluck, mutilate and torment our way through our lives. Against all logic and all common sense, while committing atrocities so vile that we choose not to know the details, we cling firmly to the illusion that we actually care about those whose planet we share.

Emus

So today the spotlight will shine on emus. Did you know that the farming of emus is once again increasing in popularity due to consumer demand for ’emu oil’. I decided to look into this new horror that I was previously unaware of and here’s a brief summary.

A soft-feathered, brown, flightless bird that can reach up to 1.9 metres in height, the emu is native to, and farmed in, Australia but also in North America, Peru, China, India and elsewhere.

Emus are primarily farmed for their dead flesh, their skin, feathers, and in particular, an oil made from the fat of slaughtered individuals. Native to a frequently challenging environment, emus have fat stores on their back for survival. If food is scarce, they can tap into this and can go weeks without eating if they have enough in their reserves.

Following a lull in demand in the early 2000s, demand is currently increasing for emu oil which is sold as an anti-inflammatory although claims about the efficacy of this appear to be highly suspect and unproven.

Emu feathers are used for fishing lures, hair extensions, flower arrangements, hats and numerous decorative arts and crafts. As is also inflicted upon geese, ducks and some other species, feathers are sometimes plucked from living birds, where the excruciating process can be repeated when they grow back. This causes agony for the bird who is often blindfolded while this occurs to prevent them their attempts to defend themselves. Because each feather is held firmly in a follicle where there are nerves receptive to pain, the victims are covered in blood by the end of the plucking process.

With a natural lifespan of about 60, they’re slaughtered before reaching the age of 2. Like the majority of our needless victims, emus are gentle individuals who resist every step of the way to the slaughterhouse as they are captured, terrorised, shoved onto trucks, deprived of food and water then taken to their deaths.

Upon arrival, they are herded off the trucks to the kill floor. They are then shot with a captive bolt or electrically stunned then hung upside-down before their throats are cut, still alive as their blood begins to drain which is the norm for the slaughter process as applied to all our land-based victims. Like the vast majority of the victims of nonvegan consumer demand, the terrified individuals die a lingering and painful death.

Leather’ made from the flayed skin of deceased birds has a distinctive patterned surface, due to a raised area around the feather follicles in the skin and is used in such items as wallets, handbags, shoes and clothes

So there we have it. Yet another example of the needless brutality of a species that claims to ‘love animals’. Living in line with the values we ALL claim to hold means living vegan. There’s no other way. Be vegan.

 

Find out more about emus and ostriches from United Poultry Concerns . 

Posted in Speciesism, Victims in the shadows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments