Archive for September, 2008

Ever since I published a blog post about how eating animals that someone else has slaughtered for you is like hiring a hit-man, I have gotten a lot of traffic from people who have done searches on “hit-man” and “hiring a hit-man”…. You’ll notice that it’s still my top post if you look in the right hand column under “TOP POSTS”.

Um, for those of you trying to put out a hit on someone, sorry, guys – wrong page.  I wouldn’t know how to go about hiring a hit-man even if I wanted to, so I’m not the person who can help you there (I don’t care who told you otherwise!).

But I do have 2 other pieces of advice for you:

  • I am thinking that googling “hire a hit-man” is going to come back to haunt you at some point if you are actually successful. Just a thought.
  • Is now a good time to suggest you think about going vegan?  Totally. You should.

Okay, that’s all, I guess.  I’d say good luck, but that just seems kind of wrong…

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The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.

~Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher, 1788-1860

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A week from today, Tuesday September 30th, marks the kick-off of VegWeek here in the Twin Cities.  If you live here or nearby, you definitely have to come check out some of the great events that Compassionate Action for Animals has lined up:

Tuesday, 9/30 @ 7pm:  Jim Mason, author and attorney, will give a presentation called The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter.  This will be followed by a reception catered by the awesome local restaurant chain, Pizza Luce.

Wednesday, 10/1 @ 5pm: Veg cooking class! Learn how to cook some awesome vegan food, and then you get to eat it!

Thursday, 10/2 @ 5:30pm: Vegan potluck – bring something to share and enjoy meeting other vegans.  New to vegetarianism?  Come check out all the great food we eat, and talk to people about what it’s like to be vegan.

Friday, 10/3 @ 6pm: Film screening of The Emotional World of Farm Animals.  We’ll have snacks and refreshments there, and what promises to be a thoughtful discussion will follow the showing.  I’ll actually be hosting this one, so come on down & say hi!

Saturday, 10/4 @ 6pm:  Dine out at Evergreen Chinese Restaurant. This is a great opportunity to meet and hang out with other people who have pledged to be veg for the week.

Sunday, 10/5 @ 2pm: Guided tour of a local chicken sanctuary. Come meet these amazing animals and hear their stories.  Again, we’ll have snacks available (yes, we really like our food!).

Monday, 10/6 @ 7pm: Dine out at the Red Sea Bar & Restaurant. Enjoy some delicious Ethiopian food & drink, and celebrate the closing of what will undoubtedly be a successful week.

Sounds fun, right?  That’s because it will be!

I have to say, last year was my first VegWeek, and despite the fact that I didn’t know many people, I always felt totally welcome and I had a great time.  CAA is all about community (OK, and food, we admit it) and that sense of community is especially strong during VegWeek.  I encourage everyone to come & check out at least one event–you won’t be sorry!

Go check out the website for more information, and shoot me an email if you have any questions.  If I can’t answer it for you, I will find someone who can.  Hope to see you there!

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It feels like every time I turn around there’s a new story about animal cruelty surfacing, and each one seems more and more gruesome than the last.  The latest undercover investigation done by PETA on a pig farm in Iowa (a Hormel supplier) is no different.  Descriptions of the cruelty inflicted on the poor pigs at that farm made my stomach turn – I could not force myself to watch the video. I just couldn’t.  The picture at left of a sow that was sprayed in the face with blue paint for 30 seconds because she wouldn’t move was enough for me.  The look on her face just breaks my heart.  If I could go get her right this second, I would….

I honestly don’t know what to say about this.  I cannot fathom what would make a human do the kinds of things that were done to these pigs–

  • A supervisor shoved a cane into a sow’s vagina, struck her on the back about 17 times, and then struck another sow.
  • Multiple pigs were beaten with metal gate rods, and lacerations were found on more than 30 sows – which is probably evidence of more abuse.
  • A worker hit a young pig in the face four times with the edge of a herding board, and investigators witnessed dozens of similar incidents involving this worker and 11 other workers.
  • Two men – including a supervisor – were witnessed jabbing clothespins into pigs’ eyes and faces. A supervisor also poked two animals in the eyes with his fingers.
  • A supervisor kicked a young pig in the face, abdomen, and genitals to make her move and told PETA’s investigator, “You gotta beat on the bitch. Make her cry.”
  • A worker who weighed an estimated 315 lbs. punched a sow on the back three times and said that he sat on a sow’s head.

HOW does one DO these things?  I just don’t get it.

I had the pleasure of meeting a number of pigs at Farm Sanctuary when I visited this past May, and I can tell you that they are some of the sweetest , friendliest animals I have ever met.  I can’t imagine ever hurting them, and yet this is what happens on farms all across the country every single day.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that this level of violence isn’t everywhere, but the fact that it’s anywhere is enough to make me angry.

So, what can we do?  Go to PETA’s website and sign the petition demanding that Hormel follow PETA’s eight-point policy when governing future pig-farming operations.  And, if you’re not already vegan,  think about going vegan – it’s a simple way that you can help animals every single day and stop supporting the industries that inflict such tremendous pain on innocent animals!

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Animals Australia
has made waves across the globe with its latest radio ads called “Lucy Speaks”. The ads feature the voice of a 3 year old girl, “Lucy”, speaking for “Lucy the pig” about the horrific conditions on Australian hog farms, which are incredibly similar to those in the US. The ads end with a narrator saying, It is commonly accepted that a pig has the intelligence of a three year old child”. Apparently the ads have made quite an impact on Australians (rightly so), and I’ve noticed the ads showing up on a number of blogs here in the US as well. Thank you, Internet!

I think these ads are especially powerful for two reasons: 1) they examine the plight of farmed animals from a personal perspective by using one pig’s experience to highlight the horrors–they show Lucy the pig as the individual she is, an individual with feelings, thoughts and desires; and 2) the ads personalize the issue further by making the human-animal connection – by showing Lucy, an adorable 3 year old child, next to Lucy, a tormented factory farmed sow. By stating that pigs have the intelligence of young children, people who might not otherwise think about farmed animals are now looking at their own toddler and imagining what it would be like to be as smart as they know their child is, and yet be so incredibly helpless and mistreated on these farms. Brilliant, really.

Go see for yourself and listen to the Lucy Speaks ads here.

AND, please go read “Please Do Not Tap on the Glass” to learn about PETA’s recent investigation into a pig farm in Iowa – the abuses are unimaginable.

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A fellow blogger over at Experiments in Living tagged me for a MeMe.  Here it is!

1. What I was doing 10 years ago:

Ten years ago at this time I was starting my first year of college. Yikes!

2. What 5 things are on on my to-do list for today (in no particular order):

  • Take my dog to the dog park
  • Empty my Google reader
  • Return emails
  • Work out
  • Go to Target

3. Snacks I enjoy:

  • Peanut butter toast
  • Fruit – especially bananas, grapes, berries, peaches, kiwis…ok, all of them
  • Trail mix
  • Cashews
  • Water (is water a snack? Maybe not…)

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

  • Start my own HUGE farm sanctuary and rescue a BUNCH of animals
  • Travel to: Greece, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, California, Italy, Egypt, and basically every where else!
  • Give my family a share so that they would be taken care of and could do things they wanted
  • Write a book
  • Hire a personal trainer and a personal chef
  • Get a massage every day
  • Start up a couple of foundations – one helping animals and one helping to stop the illegal sex trafficking of children

5. Places I have lived:

  • A farm in North Dakota (Years 1-18)
  • St. Paul, MN (4 years/college)
  • Reykjavik, Iceland (5 months)
  • Minneapolis, MN (6 years since college – Mpls & suburbs)

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During the Midwest Animal Advocacy Conference in June (yes, I’m a little slow on some of my posts!), a lot of the things the speakers said really stuck with me.  One of those things came from Paul Shapiro, the Senior Director of the Factory Farming Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States.  To paraphrase, he basically said that at some point in his journey to becoming vegan, he realized that just because he wasn’t physically killing the animals he was eating, it didn’t mean he wasn’t responsible for their pain, suffering, and ultimate deaths.  He likened it to hiring a hit-man, only instead of hiring that hit-man to kill another human (which is how we typically think of hit-men), he viewed meat eating as paying someone to kill an animal for human consumption. If you are doing that, does that make you any less guilty than the person who’s actually slitting the throats of those pigs, cows, chickens and other animals?  He determined that it didn’t and stopped eating animals.

I think it’s an interesting analogy: hiring a hit-man.  I mean, it really makes sense.  If you hired someone to kill a human, you’d be held responsible in a court of law–just because you didn’t pull the trigger doesn’t absolve you of guilt, so why should we feel any differently about paying for meat at the grocery store?  Sure, we’re a few more steps removed – we don’t even meet the person who kills the animals we eat, but that doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for it.  In fact, when it comes down to it, if you’re eating meat, you’re more responsible than those slaughterhouse workers – if you didn’t create the demand, they wouldn’t be there doing your bidding.

Something to think about…

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I’m finally getting around to reading Skinny Bitch, the New York Times Best Seller about losing weight on a healthy vegan diet. I just started it, but skipped ahead to read the chapter on dairy called The Dairy Disaster because I was curious what they would say. Here’s an excerpt:

When a woman gives birth, her body produces milk and she nurses her child. Breast milk can grow an 8-pound newborn into a 24-pound toddler. Sounds pretty fattening, huh? It is. By design, it is intended to allow for the biggest growth spurt of a person’s entire life. Breast milk alone can accommodate for a 300 percent weight gain in a 12 month period. When her child is anywhere from 12 to 24 months old, a mother stops breast feeding. Her milk dries up. The child will never drink breast milk ever again.

Cows, like all mammals, are much the same. Their bodies produce milk only when they give birth. Contrary to popular belief, they do not need to be milked – ever. Their udders, like women’s breasts, exist even when there is no milk in them. There is one major difference, however. Cows’ milk, by design, grows a 90-pound calf into a 2,000-pound cow over the course of 2 years. It allows calves to double their birth weight in forty-seven days and leaves their four stomachs feeling full. Sounds even more fattening than human milk, right? It is. It should be. Cows are bigger than humans. And the inner workings of their bodies are completely different than ours, which they should be. They are cows. We are humans. Duh.

The authors go on to discuss how humans aren’t meant to drink milk after childhood because we lack the enzymes necessary to process lactose, and yet everyone is convinced we need to drink milk and consume dairy products to be healthy. Even my doctor the other day asked me how I was getting calcium if I wasn’t eating dairy. Um, my DOCTOR asked me that. That made me sad. It just goes to show you how great of a job the dairy industry has done at convincing us we need dairy.

As the authors state a little bit later, “We are the only species on the planet that drinks milk as adults. We are also the only species on the planet that drinks the milk of another species.” Interesting, isn’t it? When you look at it from that perspective, it’s really WEIRD that humans drink cows’ milk. That was kind of the thing that got me to quit eating dairy – I mean, not only is it horrible for the cows both physically and emotionally to be constantly impregnated and milked by machines instead of getting to nurse their young, it’s also really unnatural thing for humans to do. I’m sold – how about you?

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So, I guess it’s time I confessed something: I have watched almost every cycle (that’s model speak for “season”) of America’s Next Top Model.  It’s mindless and ridiculous, and I can’t get enough of it. There, I said it.  Well, it looks like all that hard work has paid off because now I get to watch a vegan girl take part in the competition.  (Yeah, I have no idea what hard work was involved there either.)

Elina is 19 years old and lives in Seattle.  On the show, she said she became vegan at the age of 7 and has dedicated her life to the animal liberation movement.

When the judges and host Tyra Banks found out Elina was vegan, Tyra asked her if she would have been able to participate in a photo shoot last year that involved all the models being DRESSED IN MEAT.  Yes, clothes made from beef.  It was absolutely disgusting.

That’s last year’s winner, Whitney, in steak underwear surrounded by carcasses and flesh and …. EWWW!  I hated this episode. I thought it was distasteful and disgusting – AND, I was surprised that not one of the girls refused to do it.

Anyway, when Tyra asked Elina if she would have been able to get dressed up in dead animal flesh, Elina said no.  What vegan could?  I mean, I just cannot imagine putting on some beef underpants–so disgusting!

I am curious how Elina will do in the competition, speceifically I wonder if there will be anything she feels conflicted about, like confrontations from the other girls or a photo shoot that involves leather or fur or something like that.  Hopefully she does well!  I guess we’ll see!

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Our political leaders have a profound effect on how animals are treated in this country. They enact – or fail to enact, in many cases – laws regarding the treatment of wildlife, companion animals, and “food” animals. The U.S. is regrettably behind the times when it comes to many of these issues, and it seems to me that this is most noticeable in how animals used for food are treated. For example, in Western Europe, non-cage egg production has reached 35%, while it comprises a more modest 4% of all U.S. production. The EU will, by law, be entirely cage free by 2012.

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a complete disaster for animals, and electing her to be our next vice president would be a colassal mistake.  Palin has a horrific record when it comes to animal rights – just look at this picture of her sporting fur and you get a peek into her regard for the lives of non-human animals.

In order to boost populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunting, Palin has tried to pass legislation that would make it easier for state officials to gun down wolves and bears from helicopters.  Palin denies that polar bears are a threatened species and went as far as filing a lawsuit to reverse the Bush Administration’s decision to add them to the Endangered Species list.

In her short time as a politician, Palin has clearly demonstrated that her interests are in no way aligned with those of animal rights advocates.  As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, and a staunch conservative with no regard for the lives of animals, the thought of her being one step away from the presidency should the Republican party stay in power is terrifying to me, as it should be to any animal advocate.  Given her record on wildlife issues, I can’t imagine her supporting any legislation that would positively impact the lives of those animals who are most oppressed: “food” animals.  We cannot afford to go backwards on these issues, and electing her would undoubtedly hinder any progress toward creating better lives for our farmed friends.

For more information on how politicians nationally and locally have voted on animal welfare issues, check out the Humane Society’s Humane Scorecard.

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