Looking at language: livestock

A young pig about to be slaughtered. Image by Aitor Garmendia / Tras los Muros

Defined by the dictionary as ‘farm animals regarded as an asset’, the word ‘livestock’ is an obscene truth hidden in plain sight. While we may allow ourselves to be soothed by the ‘caring’ rhetoric of the victim sellers, the word used and accepted for our victims’ status is screaming the truth in our faces. The very word ’livestock’ is telling us that these individuals whose lives are being ‘farmed’ are regarded, not as sentient individuals worthy of respect and autonomy over their own lives and bodies, but as assets. As in any business, the function of assets is to make profit.

The status of those whose lives are ‘farmed’ as commercial ‘stock’ is a complete denial of their selfhood as living, feeling young individuals. In a demand-driven system where the right to live unharmed is not even a consideration, every single one of them is automatically denied the most fundamental desire of every species; namely that every one of us wants to live.

However the victim-selling industries and their public relations machine know very well that consumers don’t want to recognise their victims for the low-cost / maximum profit financial transactions they truly represent, so adverts and the media are sprinkled liberally with talk of ‘welfare’ (which doesn’t mean what consumers think it means), skilful adverts that suggest victim consent and feigned concern to reassure consumer conscience. We see increasingly elaborate media charades enacted to present victim ‘farmers’ and traders as kindly and caring, selflessly producing sumbstances mendaciously portrayed as ‘necessary’;  glossing over the fact that their trade, in reality, can be summarised as reproductive violation, using to death and ultimately slaughtering defenceless creatures for money.

Those who make money from the use of other creatures will never mention that none of our use of others is necessary. Neither will they tell us that through the ceaseless brutality that they inflict on our victims on our behalf, we are damaging our own and our loved ones’ health in addition to being directly responsible for the ongoing demise of our planet, its climate and ecosystems.

Meanwhile, the word ‘livestock’ stresses bleakly just how friendless and alone each one of our innocent victims is, from the violation that conceives them, to the slaughterhouse that is their only escape from our tyranny. Each treasured life that belongs only to the one who is desperately clinging to it, matters to our species only as a resource for which we will pay money.  Whatever elaborate fantasies we may weave in our attempts to soothe our conscience, our victims are live stock; business assets that exist – as all such resources do – to make money for someone in response to our demands as consumers.

When we stop demanding that defenceless creatures be turned into victims to indulge our frivolous habits, there will be no money to be made from the sickening practices involved and the nightmare will eventually stop. When we withdraw our demands for victims to be created, when we say, ‘not in my name’, we become vegan. Why would anyone want to wait another day?

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New Year 2019, and I’m hoping for a miracle

I usually do a blog at this time of year – it’s an apt time to reflect on the changes that have taken place and a chance to evaluate the slow but steady progress that we’re making towards a vegan world. However this year I found my thoughts being drawn in an altogether different direction from usual; something has irrevocably changed since I last sat down to write my New Year thoughts.

Humans – facing up to what we do

In 2012, I became vegan in recognition of the brutal injustice that we are inflicting on every species on the planet by the unending ways that we ignore their vital interests in favour of our own trivial and frivolous preferences. Today, as 2018 slips away, I have a new and excruciating awareness of the climate catastrophe that is breaking like a wave in slow motion over this beautiful world, and we are running out of time to fix it. Let’s face it, our causative role in the atrocity, and our resulting peril as a species, are not even being acknowledged yet, at a time when we ALL need to be working on – and close to – the solution. 

We hack and butcher our vicious way through the gentle and innocent creatures whose world this also is, ‘farming’ and mutilating them, violating, impregnating, breaking up their families and pumping out their breast milk, genetically altering them to increase egg production, slaughtering, sawing, dismembering and flaying the sweet individuals who face our slavering appetite for gore in uncomprehending bewilderment while we kill them by the trillions each year. We devour, excrete, wear, experiment on, and are ‘entertained’ by the pitiful ways that our despairing victims try to please us, their desperate attempts to make us stop hurting them. None of it works, despite the fact that none of what we do is necessary.

We are a species drunk on delusions of grandeur. 

It’s real.  We’re in big trouble

Be assured, there are charlatans who will say otherwise because the status quo of nonhuman exploitation is making vast sums of money for them, but as the old year slips away, the environmental and health related science against our use of others is continuing to pile up and the clamour for action to save the world grows louder.  This year we all must surely be beginning to realise that humanity, and humanity alone, has brought our beloved planet, and all who travel through the black depths of space on this irreplaceable blue green orb, to the very brink of disaster. We are teetering now on the edge of the abyss. 

It’s too late to complain about corporations and industries. It’s too late to carry on as before and blame everyone but ourselves for the disasters that afflict our world with increasing severity. We are consumers and it is our cash that is creating the demand that continues to drive vast agricultural industries; it is our cash that funds all the industries and practices that are wrecking our global home and depriving our children and grandchildren of a future. We are depriving them of a habitable world on which to even have a future. It’s time to take responsibility as individuals because if we don’t, we are condemning our loved ones to a world from our nightmares. We may be dead and gone, but our legacy of senseless corruption will remain as long as our species lasts – which isn’t likely to be very long at all as things are.

Global warming – the cosy myth of climate change

I know when I was younger, the term ‘global warming’ was occasionally mentioned, and here in the bitter cold of a Scottish winter, people smiled and nodded and agreed that a wee bit of warmth wouldn’t be a bad thing. How little I understood the mechanisms behind the idea of the ‘warmth’ that we all crave here.

I had no idea about the man-made build-up of greenhouse gases that in turn was heating the planet, changing climates, bringing extreme weather events with increasing frequency and severity. I didn’t think about indigenous crops and species no longer being able to survive as their environment becomes increasingly hostile; the land, oceans and waterways clogged with effluent and assorted and non-biodegradable waste. I had no concept of melting icecaps raising sea levels and releasing even more greenhouses gas into an already seething atmosphere. To my younger self, the world seemed so unchanging, so unaffected by the life forms who swarm its surface. Earth seemed unbreakable. 

Climate change – the consequences

Yet here we are as the year 2019 looms, well on our way to quite literally eating, using, and poisoning our planet to death. We are in it up to our necks, persisting in our brutal use of all other species while the very survival of our own is on the line as a direct result. New scientific reports support this view almost every week.  All this devastation has been created in the recent past by a species whose technological burgeoning, enslaving, modifying, despoiling and displacing every other species and every environment to our own ends, has disregarded the tragic consequences of our indulgence.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, we sanctimoniously delude ourselves 1) that we care about other animals and ‘nature’, and 2) that we can claim superiority amongst the millions of other species in the world; millions whose number falls daily as a result of our actions in what is known and recognised as the 6th Mass Extinction event. Google it.

I recently wrote a blog that highlighted a recent report that we had 12 years left to change our ways.  Oh, I know humanity won’t disappear in 12 years; our doomed species is likely to struggle on for a considerable while after that point is reached.  But the science is clear that by then – or even earlier according to some – it will be too late for us to avoid the consequences of our desecration of our fellow creatures and the planet we all share.  And the effective word that our children and grandchildren will get to know too well for any of us to feel good about, is ‘struggle’. Life will become an increasingly hard struggle for them in ways we find difficult to imagine, and it won’t be just in terms of the occasional storm or flood that they’ll get used to dealing with.

How would I know about this ‘struggle’?

In what feels increasingly like a past life, I worked in the related areas of ‘Disaster Planning’ and ‘Business Continuity’ in local government. Because effective planning made it essential for me to understand the realities of what might be faced, I am only too well aware of the speed with which the veneer of ‘civilisation’ falls away in the event of even a relatively localised catastrophe such as a disease pandemic, or extreme climatic event such as an earthquake or flood.

For the most part, we live in a world where our every daily requirement relies on a largely unrecognised network of interdependent services; people going to work to create supplies, transporting these supplies to where they need to be to keep the population fed, clothed and moving. Supporting the population we have health and emergency services, schools, refuse collection, and such unrecognised essentials as crematoria – all with staff who need transport to get to work. All these services work in an equilibrium. 

These systems are more fragile than we suppose and here in the UK we can see just how little it takes to upset that balance. In Scotland, all shops close on New Year’s Day and many on 2 January, and in the days leading up to this planned closure, we see panic buying that strips the shelves of vast supermarkets. That’s for a planned and short-term closure – imagine an unplanned one.

All it takes is an interruption in any part of the service network and it’s like a house of cards. Once transport links fail, fuel supplies fail and food supplies fail because whatever is available cannot be distributed. Without transport, power stations, hospitals and schools can’t be staffed. Any available medical provision starts to be overwhelmed. Roads and infrastructure are impaired, but there’s no fuel at the filling stations anyway, people have to stay home to look after their children and no one can get to work to earn money. With nothing to eat and no way to feed their families, desperation takes hold.  Public services are prioritised in increasingly futile efforts to cover the bare essentials. I could go on.

I have been employed to plan for eventualities such as these but even I can scarcely imagine this sort of scenario on a planetary scale. However I am convinced that our children – that’s yours and mine – may well become aware of it as an everyday reality. Disaster Planning will become a new and vital career choice. My heart breaks to realise that this is the world that my generation is bequeathing to our children; those children we love more than anyone else may find themselves living hand to mouth as they fight for survival on a dying planet. 

Plant based consumption – it’s a start

Along with so many self-interested and scathing dismissals of the scientifically proven need for plant based consumption, are the same old calls for yet more laws, yet more regulations, yet more support for small-scale ‘farmers’ of animal-derived substances, the same old calls to penalise large-scale animal substance producers and so on. Now apart from the fact that the concept of penalising large-scale producers for meeting large-scale demand (see the obvious problem there?) demonstrates a woeful lack of a grasp on the basic mechanics of supply and demand, basically here we have a call for the same old, same old.  These tired, worn, and desperately weary suggestions have shown no sign of working in the decades that they have been buzzing around, but making a big thing about calling for them to be implemented/enforced seeks to give the appearance of concern while indicating that the individual does not intend to take personal responsibility for their own actions. All the problems arising from those actions are conveniently the fault of ‘someone else’ who now apparently has responsibility for putting things right using the same tried and tested measures that have spectacularly failed animals for hundreds of years.

Without a widespread commitment to action, such pie-in-the-sky measures to regulate animal substance use are now physically impossible to achieve while the human population (currently 7.7 billion) spirals upwards, carrying with it the increased consumer demand for our fellow species to be used as inappropriate ‘food’ on a planet with dwindling resources.

We are out of time. Really.

What do we need? Action! When do we need it? Now!

As pointed out so eloquently by climate activist Greta Thunberg, the climate crisis should be the emergency first priority of every government and every one of us. Despite this, many are still in denial and in this world of sensationalised gossip-mongering that masquerades as journalism, denialists continue to find a ready platform for their anti-science opinions.  However any one of us who has lived more than a decade or two can see clearly evidenced in the changing landscape, the disappearance of insect life, and the terrifyingly increasing incidence of extreme events,  the torment of a planet entering its death throes.

Some appear to be sitting on the metaphorical fence. Waiting to be convinced. Thinking that ‘there’s time’; thinking it’s all bullshit but hell, if it is real, we can always take steps in the future if we’re absolutely forced into it.  Sadly that is not the case. The time to act is now. By the time the doubters and deniers are beginning to wake from their torpor and believe what the scientists have been trying to tell us about for decades, it will be well beyond too late. We couldn’t backtrack, any more than we could stuff a bullet back in a gun once the trigger has been pulled.

Start with veganism

So this year, because it’s all I know, I’m just going to keep on writing about veganism, keep on defending our trillions of annual victims, and keep on pleading with my species to wake up and realise what’s happening. I don’t know what it will take to make humanity sit up and take notice, but I have to keep trying. 

But now, as the bells of 2019 begin, the thing we need most is the thing that every single one of us should be working for, day and night, with every fibre of our being. A miracle.

Plant based eating and health – the facts

Animal agriculture – the facts

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‘What are cows for?’

A recent comment on a post read, ‘What do you think cows are for?’ The writer was raging against the facts relating to dairy use and consumption. It was clear that they saw nothing wrong with their question as a line of reasoning.

My first thought when I read the question was to smile and think, ‘well what is anyone for?’ but a mental shake brought me back to earth. This was a serious question, asked by an apparent adult who seemed utterly oblivious to having asked the sort of question that would be at home in a child’s board or cloth book.

I have often considered that such comments are meant simply to attract attention and/or provoke argument for whatever ‘enjoyment’ trolling gives the instigator. However on this particular occasion a different scenario came to mind. Although I must call the scenario ‘imagined’, it rings so true that it may in fact be a long-buried memory.  And in that scenario is a small child, asking their mother the questions that bubble and overflow from the fertile and insatiably curious minds of small children everywhere;

‘But why? Why do I have to drink milk from cows? I don’t want to drink milk from mummy cows. I’m not a baby, I’m big now.’

And the mother’s reply?

‘That’s what cows are for. Now just drink up your milk.’

That’s what cows are for

For several years my thoughts have kept returning to the phenomenon of our unquestioning participation in the global atrocity of animal use, an atrocity that sits in stark contrast to the popular perception of ourselves as ‘animal lovers’.  This particular comment asking what cows are for is a typical one and is by no means unique or original. Examining the thoughts that preceded my own awakening to veganism, I recall a similar and unquestioning acceptance of childhood dietary coercion, preserved whole and unexamined from a time of my earliest memories.  I recall being taught about a world centred round me as a child, a not-yet-understood world of resources for my use and my wellbeing.  As a child, I had only the information given to me by my carers and I didn’t question it. ‘That’s what cows are for. That’s what chickens are for. That’s what sheep are for. That’s what pigs are for…’

All this came to mind again today when reading of someone who rescued four goats from a shelter. She is frequently asked why on earth she would want to rescue goats unless she is using them for their breast milk. The same question arises when vegans rescue chickens, with the assumption being that it’s clearly naive and foolish to look after hens without helping oneself to the eggs that our genetic meddling has caused them to self destruct by producing. The rescuing of other ‘farmed’ species provokes the same incredulous response. It seems that so many just can’t get their heads round the idea that anyone could want to rescue and care for members of those species that are habitually ‘farmed’ unless there are ‘benefits’ involved that continue the very practices from which they have been rescued; ‘benefits’ that so frequently involve the unconsenting reproductive exploitation of  vulnerable family members.

What are dogs and cats for?

Yet clearly, if the question was to be turned around and addressed to those same enquirers, most or many of whom have cat or dog family members, it would be met with incomprehension. ‘What are dogs for?’ or ‘What are cats for?’  ‘What sort of question is that?’

Because we don’t need a reason for rescuing, for caring for, for loving these species. We would never think to ask what they’re for. They give us pleasure with their grace and their beauty. They engage us with their huge personalities, their sense of fun and their companionship.  We delight in their unconditional devotion to us; in the warmth and affection they bestow on us so readily and joyfully.

So there we have the jarring contrast; those species from whom we expect nothing but shared love and companionship, and those species that we cannot conceive of sharing time with unless we are using them in some way; species we have been brainwashed into seeing only in terms of ‘what’s in it for me’. Yet are these two groups of species inherently different in some way?  Not at all, and science provides more evidence of this every day.

Quite frankly, any difference is in our perception. As one species of sentient creature, all other sentient species of creature have so much in common with us that it beggars belief, not only that we arbitrarily compartmentalise them so that we can brutalise some while adoring others, but that we cling to childhood tales in our efforts to ignore the bloodbath that we are directly demanding as consumers, while sincerely claiming that we ‘love animals’.

Who belongs to whom?

As human animals, the only individual that truly belongs to each of us, is the one we see when we look in a mirror. Other individuals, whatever their species, do not ‘belong’ to us other than by some humanocentric system of ‘ownership’ that we forcibly impose and to which they most definitely do not consent.

It is unspeakable that a single species should assume such self-importance that our convenience and unnecessary preference casts every other species in terms of their usefulness (and financial profitability) for us. Despite our fond notions of ourselves as ‘animal lovers’, it is only through acts of violence and depravity that we bring others into the world to be used for our interests at the expense of their own.  The truth is that others are not ‘for’ anything to do with us.

Only veganism recognises that cows are not ‘for’ anything that needs to concern us. Be vegan.

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Compassion and kindness; not what we need to ask for

Image by Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

The words ‘kindness’ and ‘compassion’ are not what we should be asking for when advocating for the rights of our victims. I can almost hear the gasps of indignation and keyboards warming up already, but please bear with me.

Let me just be absolutely clear. There is nothing wrong with the words ‘compassion’ and ‘kindness’ or their related adjectives and other parts of speech, when they are used in the correct context. Kindness and compassion in response to others’ suffering are qualities to be encouraged and admired and the world could do with seeing a lot more of them.

However. When we are advocating for the rights of those annual 74 billion land individuals and almost 3 trillion aquatic creatures whom our species persecutes and slaughters without cause or conscience, it is vital to ensure that we use unambiguous words when calling for recognition of their rights. Words that mean different things to different people (subjective words) are the first words that we have to leave out of advocacy. This is not because I’m pedantic; rather it stems from an acute awareness that what we think we’re saying is often far removed from what our audience thinks we’re saying.

So for a start,  the words ‘compassion’ and ‘kindness’ are completely subjective. My idea of being ‘kind’ and yours are probably completely different, as are my idea of ‘compassion’ and yours. And for every person we meet that is likely to be the case; different things to different people. In addition to this, both words skirt right round the heart of the issue and as such, are words best left well out of our advocacy. I shall return to this point in a minute but first I’d like to share a story.

Crying out for kindness and compassion

This evening I read an article about a man who was homeless. The article described how, in the early hours of a bitter morning with the temperature 16 degrees below freezing, the man had sought refuge in a metro station for himself and his beloved canine companion. He was desperate and panic-stricken because they had absolutely no place to go to escape the lethal cold. The metro was closed but two staff who were there, refused to let him in. Some hours later, his much loved family member, wrapped in blankets and cradled in his arms, succumbed to the freezing night and died.

I’m sure most of us would agree that it would have been an act of compassion for the staff to have given shelter to the pair. It would have been kind for them to have helped. We can all anticipate that they would likely have got into trouble from their employers for breaking  the rules and indeed the article goes on at length to seek to exonerate the decision of the staff and the authorities whose rules they were obeying. But I’m confident that every one of us likes to think we’re the kind of people who would have done the decent thing in that life or death situation, and to hell with the consequences.

In this situation, instead of turning their backs, the staff could have just taken the pair in under cover, or they could have provided some heat, maybe a cup of tea or soup, water for the dog. They could have provided more blankets, something to eat for the two of them and so on. Again we all are likely to have our own ideas about what would have constituted kindness and compassion, because the words mean different things to each of us.

But equally, although we may be critical of their judgement, it is very unlikely that the employees concerned actually did anything that was technically wrong in terms of their rules and regulations. The staff in the metro had not caused the predicament of the man who had no home or that of his beloved companion. They were not responsible for his desperate situation. They were just there in a place at a time when they could have made a bad situation a whole lot better.  But when all is said and done, no one is likely to prosecute them for what they did, particularly considering that the law regarded the individual who died as the ‘property’ of the man who was homeless in the same way as the blankets he was wrapped in. Here we have a situation where no actual wrongdoing occurred despite the fact that we all have an idea what we would have liked to see happen.

So why aren’t calls for ‘compassion’ and ‘kindness’ enough in advocacy?

So why is compassion and kindness okay in that context but not in the context of animal advocacy? The first point is that the staff who could have shown kindness and compassion had neither caused the situation nor were they responsible for it.

I mentioned earlier that both words skirt right round the heart of the issue, so what IS this heart of the issue? As advocates for the victims of our species, we are speaking to the very people who are actually causing the situation that our victims are facing and are directly responsible for it through their consumer demands. By simply asking for ‘compassion’ and ‘kindness’, we avoid pointing out this most obvious of truths.

We also reinforce the narrative we all used to cling to at one time in seeking to justify our imaginary right to use the lives and broken bodies of other individuals. We all used to think that the problem was being caused by someone else, somewhere else. By asking for ‘compassion’ and ‘kindness’ without addressing this, we are allowing our audience to remain in denial as to their own pivotal role in the horrors being inflicted on their victims. Not only that, but we are using subjective words that do not specify what form this ‘kindness’ and ‘compassion’ absolutely must take.

So what form must this action take? The first thing we should be asking those who are directly responsible for the brutal use of members of other animals species through their consumer demands, is to stop doing it.

‘Compassion’ and ‘kindness’ do not lead to the understanding that every individual has the right to live without being intentionally harmed for our trivial interests at catastrophic cost to their own; they avoid mentioning that when we are not vegan, we are the ones who are doing this and that we need to STOP.

‘Compassion’ and ‘kindness’ do not lead to the realisation that members of other animals species value their lives as much as I value mine or you value yours, they avoid mentioning that that we are the ones who are using and taking those treasured lives in milking parlours, egg farms, slaughterhouses and labs when we are not vegan and that we need to STOP.

‘Compassion’ and ‘kindness’ fail to highlight the profound atrocity of exploiting the reproduction of defenceless mothers for their breast milk and eggs, the obscenity of slaughtering innocent families, the monstrosity of trading in corpses, in eggs and in body parts when every single thing that we do is unnecessary; they avoid mentioning that we are the ones who are demanding the death and violence through our consumer choices when we are not vegan and that we need to STOP.

‘Compassion’ and ‘kindness’ are words that focus on ourselves, and how we feel about ourselves and others without addressing the underlying responsibility for the actions that our shopping choices are demanding. As a non vegan for decades who was brimming  over with ‘compassion’ and ‘kindness’, I know for a certainty that they are words that do not lead to veganism, only education about veganism does that.

So what words to use?

As advocates we are defending the most fundamental rights of our species’ victims; the right to live unharmed, the right not to be regarded as property and a resource simply because they differ from us. Because we have brute force and technology on our side and a horrific predisposition to violence, first and foremost, on  behalf of our victims, we must ask those who brutalise them to realise what they’re doing. And then we must ask them to stop.

‘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.’

~ Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights

The bloodbath needs to stop because it’s deeply unjust. It needs to stop because our victims are sentient inhabitants of our shared planet who have as much right to live unharmed as we do ourselves; whose lives matter to them every bit as much as our own matter to us.

Whereas ‘compassion’ and ‘kindness’ focus on ourselves, and how we feel about ourselves and others, words like ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ are words that simply focus on the big issues of right and wrong. These are words that focus on those who are being persecuted. They’re humble words that speak to our conscience rather than our ego. They’re sincere words, honest words, and they shine with truth.

Truth is our greatest ally in the battle against the tide of gore and misery that nonveganism causes. Our first task is to shine a light on the truth so that those who are demanding the bloodshed can appreciate the role they are playing in the nightmare. Our second task is to be absolutely clear that the outrage of nonveganism is an affront to the values that every single one of us believes that we hold.  Having done that, we need to ask for it to stop, while still remembering that most of us were not always vegan; offering others any guidance and support that we might have appreciated ourselves when that lightbulb moment happened to us and we decided that we could not live another day without becoming vegan.

‘I am not well-versed in theory, but in my view, the cow deserves her life. As does the ram. As does the ladybug. As does the elephant. As do the fish, and the dog and the bee; as do other sentient beings. I will always be in favor of veganism as a minimum because I believe that sentient beings have a right not to be used as someone else’s property. They ask us to be brave for them, to be clear for them, and I see no other acceptable choice but to advocate veganism.’

~ Vincent Guihan, vegan author

We can do all that and we can still be kind and compassionate people throughout.

Be vegan.



Compassion is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
Kindness is the quality of being gentle, caring, and helpful.

Posted in Terminology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

On trusting experts

When we are new to the world, parents and carers feed and clothe us. Most of us have little idea what we are eating, drinking, wearing or using. As children we lack even the ability to grasp the brutality of the systems that provide us with dead animals, the breast milk of four-legged mothers and the eggs of small hens bred to lay themselves to death. If we ask, the question is evaded or answered with half-truths. I’m a mother who was not always vegan so I know this. We get out of the way of questioning, because we are constantly reassured.

Looking up to our elders and the vast knowledge that they seem to have, nature programmes us to trust them. They are not always right but they do what they think is best because they want nothing more than our well being, care for nothing more than our health.

Comforting our concerns

When we grow and become adult, most of us STILL have little idea what we are eating, drinking, wearing or using. As adults the world has taught us concepts that allow us to grasp the brutality of the systems that provide us with dead animals, the breast milk of four-legged mothers and the eggs of small hens bred to lay themselves to death. We understand the concept of injustice when applied to our own species. We identify with it, and with the view of ourselves as ‘good people’.

But our use of members of the other animal species is so widespread that we doubt ourselves when we contemplate what is done to them to facilitate our use. ‘Such horror simply cannot exist; it’s inconceivable’. And as our thoughts fill with snatches of words that we’ve heard without understanding, words like ‘laws’, like ‘humane’, and like ‘welfare’, our momentary questions subside as we go back to the comfort of days when our mothers reassured us that all was well.

All grown up?

And now as adults, if we ask, our questions are still evaded and answered with half-truths – or even lies. This time they come from the individuals, the advertisers, and the vast businesses that provide us with dead animals, the breast milk of four-legged mothers and the eggs of small hens bred to lay themselves to death.

Professing expertise and arcane knowledge, chiding us for daring to question them, patronising our ‘foolish’ concern, the vast, powerful and influential industries that trade in slaughterhouse-tainted atrocities, deflect our enquiries with the deft skill of long practice.

And we fall into old habits of trusting those who tell us they know best, the ‘experts’. ‘Yes, experts know best’, we nod, reassured.

Only this time, we are trusting those who need to deceive us; those whose sole concern is their own commercial interests. This time, our ‘experts’ are those who are making an endless supply of defenceless victims to sell to us. We are trusting those who want nothing more than our money. We are trusting those who are committing atrocities in our name. And most tragically of all, we are trusting them to do what they do in a way that allows us to still feel good about ourselves.

Follow the money

It’s past time to ask questions. It’s long past time to challenge. For the sake of our trillions of annual victims, for ourselves and our beautiful planet, it’s time to stop trusting those who trade in brutality in return for our money. We cannot turn our backs on the things that are done in our name; the things that are done so that we can buy dead animals, the breast milk of four-legged mothers and the eggs of small hens bred to lay themselves to death to put in our shopping trolleys.

When we stop paying for dead animals, the breast milk of four-legged mothers and the eggs of small hens bred to lay themselves to death, there will no longer be money to be made from this sickening bloodbath and it will stop.

We can do this. We have to because everything depends on it now. Be vegan.

Posted in Awakening to veganism, consumer demand | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Halloween – a spooky tale

Here comes Halloween again, with putrefying corpses, clanking chains and the tormented screams of the damned. Adults and children alike, scream and giggle with spooky delight, their nervous shivers of horror heightened by icy frissons of fear and chilly unease while ghouls and the unquiet dead leave their mouldering graves and strike fear into all.

But wait. Why should anyone need to confine this thrill of excitement to a single night of the year, when we can have it every single day and night, throughout the year? All it takes is a slight shift in perception and it’s all there waiting for those who enjoy that sort of thing. Just think on this…

All day every day, defenceless and terrified creatures whose only desperate wish is to live unharmed, are trucked on transports and in crates to the slaughterhouses that ‘prepare’ them for our shopping trolleys. Every week of the year over a billion terrified innocents, their legs scarcely able to hold them for fear, are manhandled and goaded into pens and lines, to wait in gut-churning horror for their turn with the chains and the blades and the saws.

Because they are sentient, as we are, they know only too well the peril of their plight, blood pounding in terrified hearts as they listen to the high pitched screaming; screaming so desperate as to be almost soundless with the sickening pain of their bleeding, their seared and scalded, electrified flesh, screams distorted by the gurgling of blood in hacked throats, screams of mind-numbing terror, screams wrenched from the panicking hearts of their friends, of their family, as the grating torment of their agony weaves a cacophony in counterpoint to the dismembering saws and machines.

There is the sound of despair, of liquid terror gushing and spurting down legs that are quaking too hard to stand. There is the clamour of frantic pleading, of whimpering, of sobbing, of hooves on metal walkways, feet kicking and scrabbling for purchase, struggling to go back, to get away, to hide, to be anywhere but in this place that smells of death and blood; this place that smells of hell.

Yes, every day behind the scenes of our non-vegan ‘choices’ are the clanking chains, the tormented screams of the damned, and very much more besides. There is more horror than a lifetime of Halloweens encapsulated within every single non vegan choice.  And for what? The putrefying body parts, the fluids, the breast milk and the eggs that are marketed to us as ‘fresh’. They are indeed fresh – from Hell.

So when we are not vegan, we are paying to have Halloween, not the phoney consumer extravaganza but the real horror of Halloween, inflicted on defenceless innocents every day. To savour the spooky thrill, all we need to do is simply walk through the mortuary aisles of any supermarket. The chill in the air, the smell of death, the miasma of putrefaction – it’s there all the time. All we need to do is close our eyes and breathe deep, to find ourselves there in that slaughterhouse.

And on the day the ‘thrill’ just gets too much to bear, we do have a choice. We can make the decision to stop paying for the torment of innocents and can say, ‘Not in my name’.

That’s the day we become vegan. Be vegan. Today.

Posted in Advocacy, Festivals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Twelve years. Twelve.

With the latest reputable science predicting a maximum of 12 years before climate change becomes completely unstoppable no matter what we do, there is literally no time left to mince words.

The use of sentient individuals for ‘meat’ (their dead flesh), ‘dairy’ (their breast milk products), their eggs and other body parts, is not some community-spirited labour of love which should be propped up and subsidised by governments using the public purse.

Bringing defenceless creatures into the world for the sole purpose of making money from using them to death, an activity euphemistically known as ‘farming’, is a business; it exists to make money, wields breathtaking political and financial influence and is unscrupulous in its advertising and self-promotion.  Despite this, at its heart it is driven by consumer demand as all supply businesses are.

Science has clearly shown that we have no need to consume other individuals and that such behaviour is associated with disease and ill-health. Environmental alarm bells have been ringing for years, but finally the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet, has clearly demonstrated that we simply must stop our irresponsible and unsustainable activities or face the dire and inevitable consequences.

No need to panic ..?

We belong to a culture numbed into apathy by a media where propaganda mouthpieces broadcast their vested interests alongside reputable journalism; a world where popular ‘newspapers’ are owned by the wealthy and privileged and used openly to shape and influence public opinion; a society that eagerly snaps up all forms of media that provoke interest and sales by false sensationalism. The result of exposure to the endless and unfounded sensationalism is that many of us now find it difficult to recognise true peril when we hear of it.

Yet here we are, as the year 2018 draws to its close. Along with every single member of our species, we have all reached a crisis point in our lives; a time when our own future, that of our children, and of the entire planet  as we know it, is hanging in the balance. Whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not, we are facing what may quite literally be the beginning of the end of life on this planet.

It begins and ends with us

Our species is needlessly killing almost 75 billion land-based and an estimated 2.7 trillion aquatic victims every year. As individual consumers, we are responsible for this bloodbath with every purchase we make and we no longer have time to wait for those who make money from animal use to hold up their hands and admit what is destroying the world and endangering us all. In another few years it’s truly going to be too late and I can guarantee there will be no comfort in blaming corporations and industries for what we should have acted upon ourselves. Indeed, it all comes down to us in the end.

So what do we need to do?

This is the age of Google. We all need to check out the facts and then act – as individuals.

There’s no denying that we need to be more responsible in almost every area of our lives but the single most significant step is the one we all say we believe in anyway; the one that allows us to live in line with the values we all claim to have. We all like to think of ourselves as decent and honourable; people who take a stand against injustice and defend those who are defenceless and innocent. It makes us feel good when we consider that these values apply to us. However, when we’re not vegan, they don’t. It’s really that simple; being vegan is simply becoming the people we actually think we are already.

By rediscovering the humanity that we lost as a species so long ago, and by respecting our needless victims and becoming vegan, we may yet save ourselves and our world, but time is running desperately short.

Be vegan.

So much depends on it. Everything, in fact.


For all the most accurate information on the planetary crisis, see: https://www.truthordrought.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/truthordrought



Posted in Addressing resistance to change, Global disasters | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

On living our values

It is not necessary for human animals to use other animals for any reason, and only those unaware of the science, or those who have a vested financial interest in keeping us from realising the truth, will tell us different.

Does it change them?

When a declaration is made that an individual was ‘bred for eating’, or ‘bred for eggs’ or ‘bred for milk’, does that change something about that individual?

How could it? Although WE may decide that our conscience is easier if we think of them as nothing but a thing and a resource, they remain who they are; still unique, still sentient, still experiencing their existence through senses that match our own; still sharing bonds with their family and friends just as we do ourselves. They think, they breathe, their hearts pump the blood round bodies that seek to avoid pain. They feel.

Does it change us?

So if it doesn’t change our victims, does the declaration change us; does it mean that we cease to be responsible for our own actions? Most of us would be quick to claim say that we are our own masters, and would never be manipulated to act against our own deep-rooted values of fairness and decency.

So what does it change?

So although it is completely unnecessary for us to harm other animals in any way, does the declaration that an individual was ‘bred for eating’, or ‘bred for eggs’ or ‘bred for milk, make it mean that using, mutilating, and slaughtering that individual becomes the right thing to do? Does such a declaration make it mean that we can betray our victims’ utter dependence on us for their well being and protection by using, mutilating, and slaughtering them, without needing to feel any guilt?

Of course it doesn’t. Certainly it’s much easier not to even think about the consequences of our actions. Possibly it’s more comfortable to pretend that those who sell broken bodies and lives to us are making sure that our values are respected while they are doing all these things that we’ve decided not to think about. However it’s the stuff of purest fantasy if we really imagine for a moment that their aim is any more noble than to get hold of our cash – by any means necessary.

Declaration of intent to hurt and rob others of the life they love, the life that matters to them so very much, can never change the responsibility each of us has to live true to our own deepest values; that we have no right to cause needless harm to those who are vulnerable and defenceless.

Our choice; their lives. Be vegan.

Posted in consumer demand, Sentience | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The property status of animals

Today I’ve been sharing posts and images about the aftermath of the latest hurricane in Carolina; sharing the stark aerial photographs of what have become flooded tombs for millions of defenceless individuals whose lives and bodies were being ‘farmed’ to satisfy the consumer demand for their broken lives that is regarded as ‘normal’ in this world of ‘animal lovers’.

It’s clear that for many these images are a real shock. There is horror and outrage and grief. There is frustration and anger and demands to know how this could be happening, as the toll of the dead creeps upwards from the 3.4 million (3,400,000) chickens and turkeys, and 5,500 pigs acknowledged in the media some 18 hours ago.

The post on social media read as follows:

I understand the frustration expressed by so many that the imprisoned animals who are still drowning as I write, were not given even the dignity of being released to at least try to fend for themselves.

The reason this doesn’t and will never happen is because these individuals are business assets and resources in the view of those who use them to make money. They are property in the eyes of the law and the insurance companies.

That’s what we are buying into when we use our consumer power to demand broken bodies and broken lives. Our use of them is a declaration that we do not consider their interests to be worth recognising. We do not consider them deserving of their own lives.

Those who own the sites where the animals drowned will be able to make insurance claims for ‘assets’ lost ‘in production’, just as any of us would make a claim for property damaged or lost in a flood. And in the same way that our claim would be invalid if we had moved our property out of our house, those who use sentient individuals to meet consumer demands would invalidate their claims if they set their ‘assets’ free.

It’s all about money and consumer demand. We can buy into that, or we can be vegan.

Giving meaning to the words

The phrase that sits in the pit of my stomach and makes me feel sick, is ‘the property status of animals’. And it occurs to me that many – even amongst those who are vegan – had never before fully appreciated all the terrible implications of this phrase. It’s one that many activists, including myself, have used – but it’s clear from the stunned reactions I’m witnessing that not everyone has recognised the true meaning of the words; what it truly means to be ‘property’ in a disaster.

This, then, is the reality for living, breathing, feeling ‘property’. ‘The property status of animals’ is not some legal technicality that prevents every other species from sharing in the privileges that humans accord themselves in this world that our species is destroying with greed and ignorance.

‘The property status of animals’ is a phrase with very real and utterly predictable consequences that are as sickening as they are inevitable. These consequences lead directly from our commitment to eat flesh, eggs and breast milk, to use and enslave other beings as resources and commodities for what – as it is completely unnecessary – can never be anything more dignified than a trivial and superficial indulgence, no matter how we seek to justify ourselves with talk about being ‘humane’ and ‘compassionate‘.

But they shouldn’t be hurt! Be ‘humane’ and ‘compassionate’!

Such words mean nothing at all once we have decided that the life of another sentient being has no value other than to indulge our non-essential interests; once we have decided their desperate wish to live unharmed and in peace is an irrelevance. Words that seek to make us appear concerned about the treatment of our unnecessary victims are at best an attempt to salve our conscience while we keep our eyes averted from the queues of defenceless young individuals in our slaughterhouses to satisfy the demands that we are making as consumers.

‘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.’

Property – what it means and where it leads

The fact that our victims are property – like trucks and furniture and machines – in the eyes of the law, underlines and emphasises that whatever the rhetoric of feigned love and concern that we hear from those whose businesses may lose money because their assets have been abandoned, starved, deprived of fresh water and ultimately drowned before their commercial value was recouped from the slaughterhouse, those whom our consumer demands have designated as resources have no protection in law whatsoever.

The following link to a talk by Lesli Bisgould, Canada’s first animal rights lawyer, provides a succinct explanation about why the ‘laws’ that we fondly imagine to protect those unfortunates within systems that are designed to use them to death for profit, do not, can not and never will provide any level of protection. Ms Bisgould also provides an explanation why, as long as their ‘property status’ remains, our victims will remain victims.

Keeping it in context – what can we do?

So here we are today as the horrific images unfold. I agree wholeheartedly with a comment by a fellow activist:

It’s really important to contextualize it all, though, because focusing simply on the drowned victims is a small part of the larger story here. The greater tragedy is the system that would have killed them anyway, and the continued demand for their dead bodies. Any time the general public is forced to stop and think about what these farms are–which I think is going on now, to some extent–is meaningful. It needs proper context, though, to reveal the larger problem.

~ Striving with Systems

It needs to be emphasised that horrific as this latest tragedy is, it is a symptom of a greater ill. In this world that our obsessive and inappropriate use of others is rapidly bringing to its knees, science tells us that these extreme weather events will continue to occur with increasing frequency. We can’t legislate away the problem that is causing our planet and her miraculous diversity of life to falter and die; it’s gone way beyond that, if indeed that option ever existed, which I doubt. The answer needs to be much more effective and much more creative.

And surprisingly, the answer is within our reach – yours and mine. The answer that can bring this hideous nightmare to an end is one that needs each of us as an individual to act upon. Only by becoming vegan and working for a vegan world can any of us cling to a hope of this beautiful world having any future at all.

Be vegan.

Posted in Advocacy, Global disasters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Feet of Clay – no need for heroes

Feet of clay: a weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person

Without any effort at all, I can think of a number of high-profile persons who are hero worshipped for their claims to represent the interests of animals of various species, but who, by their own admission, are not vegan. By definition, this means that they support and fund brutality and violence in their consumer choices. This is simply a fact.

On social media, as soon as the fact that they are not vegan is mentioned by anyone who is, there is an unseemly rush from apologists ready to defend their heroes on the basis of what is shrugged off as inconsequential, coupled with a barrage of what can only be termed vitriolic bile being levelled towards the one who had the audacity to mention it.

Today on social media I had the misfortune to witness one such exchange on the page of a staunch animal rights advocate who lives by every single word that they say. The thread unfolded in the sadly predictable pattern that results from any naming of names; the same way in fact that this essay would, if names were named. However the names are not important; what these non-vegan ‘heroes’ represent, most definitely is.

Today, apologists, non-vegans and the ‘can’t all be perfect’ brigade weighed in to accuse, contrast and condemn on the basis of what in this instance was proclaimed to be the ‘wonderful work’ done by their hero, with scathing remarks demanding to know ‘What are you doing compared to that?!’ According to critics, only a ‘zealot’ would consider that self promoted ‘good works’ do not grant a free pass to at least some brutal and exploitative behaviour. According to the defenders, the predilection of the hero for consuming cheese made from nonhuman breast milk, and the slaughterhouse-tainted nightmare that the practice inflicts  annually on millions of defenceless mothers and infants, should not only be discounted as a mere trifle, but the vegan ought to be ashamed for even mentioning the matter.

So before I continue, let’s step back and consider this phenomenon in a human context. Such an exercise is always useful to reveal aspects of our view that may be speciesist. I use it frequently.

Thinking about human rights

If you will, I’d like you to think of a high-profile, human rights campaigner, past or present.  I’m sure we can all think of at least one such person whose shining example has inspired our admiration. Now, still thinking of this person, imagine that you have just been made aware that this icon was, by their own admission, a supporter and promoter of something incompatible with their stance, such as – say – child pornography.

Would this revelation that they were saying one thing while doing something completely contradictory, affect our perception of the chosen hero? For the sake of those who may, at this point, choose to deny any change, we can try taking this a step further. What if, when the stash of child porn was uncovered, we were to discover that our own children were amongst those whose innocence had been violated for a thrill?

Would we see on social media a spirited defence of this human rights paragon on the basis that their ‘good works’ outweighed their predilection for sexualising infants? Would we see derision, scorn and vitriol being levelled at anyone with the audacity to point out that no matter how ‘good’ the ‘works’, it is impossible to dismiss and forgive on behalf of their victims, such a fundamental betrayal of every human rights issue ever? Would we see scathing comments of ‘So what? Nobody’s perfect!’?

I suspect we wouldn’t. Because it’s not so easy now, is it?  By defending those who harm other animals, we’re saying that collateral casualties are a reasonable price to pay as a scientifically unproven route to some imagined ‘greater good’. However that sort of high ideal is fine only when we’re talking about someone else’s loved ones. Or in fact for some, preferably some other species and their loved ones. It’s always easy to sound magnanimous about situations that are never going to touch us personally.

Heroes as influencers

So, to return to the conversation that I mentioned at the beginning, what we have to ask is what is the message being sent out by these high profile animal users?

My merciless memory raises its hand at the back of the room again. Until 2012 I was not vegan and I admired and aspired to emulate many other non vegans who claimed to represent the interests of animals. I was influenced by what they said. And what I heard was a vindication of my own efforts to be ‘compassionate‘, and I felt reassured that I was doing the best anyone could reasonably do. I already thought that the use of members of other species for any and all reasons was a ‘necessary evil’, and so from these non-vegans my impressionable former self learned that there was a ‘kind’ and ‘caring’ way to deprive my victims of their lives and of every single thing that made those lives worth living. Through such teaching in my decades as a non-vegan, my ‘awareness’ was not even slightly ‘raised’ above the corpses, the eggs and the breast milk products on my plate. Only vegan education did that.

With clay-footed heroes elevated onto pedestals by those who either don’t know any better, or by those who see in the failures of their ‘heroes’ some vindication of their own inconsistencies, a message is proclaimed to a non-vegan world only too happy for the reassurance, that some animals matter but there’s no need to be extreme. They don’t all matter equally and it’s perfectly fine to harm and kill them as long as we are ‘kind’ and ‘compassionate’.

On the cult of celebrity

It is dismaying that there is an escalating media circus surrounding vegan advocacy, with the inevitable result that the victims of our species are so often becoming eclipsed by the clamour of ‘celebrities’. We don’t need to be looking for ‘heroes’ to put on pedestals. We don’t need to be hanging onto every word of ‘celebrities’.

The decision to be vegan is a personal one, made in the silence of our own thoughts and guided by our conscience. Once we understand the inevitable consequences of our consumer choices to use broken lives and bodies, the decision to be vegan is a line that we draw as an individual where we say ‘Enough. Not in my name.’

Yet for as long as the message that ‘heroes’ are broadcasting, ignores or trivialises the need for veganism as the absolute least we can all do, the rest of us will just have to work twice as hard to defend their victims.

Be vegan.

In memory

Let’s be mindful of the following in the single year 2016:

  • 74 billion land based individuals killed in cold blood in regulated slaughterhouses, and the uncounted individuals who were not even important enough to count
  • 2.7 trillion (estimated) aquatic individuals killed in cold blood and the trillions whose deaths were dismissed as ‘by-catch’
  • The global flock of 7.4 billion egg laying hens
  • The estimated 7.4 billion male chicks who were regarded as worthless
  • Hundreds of millions of dairy mothers of various species killed because they could no longer produce enough breast milk
  • The 800 million dairy mothers (including 264 million cows) worldwide, trapped in a system where they are used to death
  • Uncounted individuals used and tortured in laboratories
  • Uncounted individuals used for ‘sport’ and ‘entertainment’
  • Uncounted billions used for their skin, their body fibres and for a myriad other purposes.
Posted in Advocacy, Celebrity culture, Speciesism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments