Archive for October, 2008

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I have had nightmares before about animals. A while back, I wrote about my first “meat-mare” as my friend Al calls them. I thought it was pretty unusual considering I had never had such dreams prior to becoming vegan, but Al said he used to have them all the time.

More recently, I had a nightmare where I had to watch a man drown dolphins (yes, dolphins can – and do – drown). I wanted to stop the man, but I couldn’t. The people I was with, who also knew it was wrong, said that we’d be risking our own lives if we tried to stop him, and they pulled me away. I couldn’t stop watching, though – I kept going back, panicking the whole time about how I wasn’t doing anything to help them.

A while before that, I had a dream that I worked in a laboratory where we did experiments on small monkeys. The monkeys were very frightened and what was being done to them was clearly very painful. When we weren’t using them, they were put in little boxes with no windows all by themselves. It was awful. The whole time, I was trying to find ways to get them out of there, but in the meantime, I had to pretend that I didn’t mind doing these awful, painful things to them because I had to be secretive about my plan to free them. It felt so terrible, and I felt so helpless.

Again, I thought having dreams like this was unusual, but I’ve come to learn that it’s actually quite normal for animal advocates to have nightmares about either having to hurt animals, or having to watch animals being hurt and knowing there’s nothing you can do. Really, it sort of mirrors real life for those of us who abhor all the wrongs that are done to animals every day – we know it’s wrong, but often times it feels too overwhelming to do anything, or we feel helpless even if we are doing something.

Has anyone else had nightmares like this? Do they stop at some point?

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Over the past couple months, I’ve read some really great blogs about animal rights, factory farming, and veganism.  I thought I’d share with you a few posts that I thought are especially insightful and/or interesting:

Vegan in the Country writes about her experience caring for “broiler” chickens in her post “Foster Farms SUCKS!”  This post will give you an idea of how terribly these genetically modified birds suffer from growing so quickly.

Vegan Soapbox‘s Alex Melonas writes about how it’s an oxymoron to say you’re an environmentalist if you’re still eating meat, in the post titled “An Environmentalist Who Eats Meat?”

Vegan Liz talks about why she doesn’t drink milk in her post “Why I Don’t Swallow the White Stuff: Milk”. She basically covers all my reasons too!

Vegan Soapbox also writes “On the issue of Unnecessary Suffering”, which is an excellent post.

Factory Farming’s real costs are discussed in “The Real Cost of Doing Business” by Christine Harkin.

A post over on The Joyful Vegan, “Why Go Vegan?…For Your Mind!really resonated with me.  Rachel from NY discusses how she had been desensitized to animal suffering as a child (weren’t we all!), but has found inner peace now as a vegan.  She can interact with animals and feel comforted by knowing that she doesn’t eat them.  It’s exactly how I feel too.

Anyway, those are just a few of the posts that have influenced me these past few months. I hope you enjoy them too!

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For a blog that’s about factory farming and animal rights, I realize I haven’t said much about one of the biggest anti-factory farming campaigns going on right now: Yes on Proposition 2 in California.  If passed, Proposition 2 would end the practice of cramming farm animals into cages so small the animals can’t even turn around, lie down or extend their limbs.  This would apply specifically to hens used in egg production, calves raised for veal, and sows during pregnancy.  Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon have passed similar laws, but if Californians vote yes on Prop 2 on November 4th, the ripple effect across the entire country could be substantial.

I guess I’m not sure why I haven’t said all that much about Prop 2.  Part of it is that it seems like such a no brainer to me that I can’t believe there are so many organizations and individuals who aren’t supporting it. I mean, honestly: requiring that animals can stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs is really kind of asking for the bare, bare, bare minimum.  And yet there’s so much opposition?  Who are these people anyway??  Oh look, here’s who they are–click here.  You can see all the lovely organizations who oppose this legislation, and also learn more about instances where they’ve been in legal trouble for animal cruelty and/or environmental offenses.

Anyway, the HSUS came out with a new ‘Yes on Prop 2’ Commercial.  Check it out & send it to everyone you know in CA.  This ballot initiative is important, and I will be sorely disappointed if it doesn’t pass!

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Recently on a discussion board, someone said to me, “For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat 4.”

Um. Okay.  That is helpful information.  I wanted to write “You are going to get pretty fat and probably die of heart disease or colon cancer at a pretty early age, but if it means that much to you…”, but instead I just ignored it.  I mean, if that poor girl wanted to get into a battle of wits, she wasn’t going to get very far with arguments like that, and I didn’t think arguing with someone that ignorant would really get me anywhere.  What I don’t get, though, is why so much animosity? Why does this girl care that I don’t eat animals, and why is it so important to her that she’d threaten to eat 4 times as many just to negate the positive effect that I’m trying to have?  Is she trying to get me to say, “Really?! Then I’d better start eating my fair share or even more animals will die!!!”

Sometimes people are real idiots.  And by “sometimes” I mean “a lot of the time”.

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Mark Twain Said…

Heaven is by favor; if it were by merit your dog would go in and you would stay out. Of all the creatures ever made, [man] is the most detestable. Of the entire brood, he is the only one… that possesses malice. He is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain.

~Mark Twain

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I heard this, or variations on this, a lot when I first went vegan. And you know what? Not long ago, I was saying the exact same thing – so I totally get it. I thought I could never, EVER give up my beloved cheese. I used to eat a LOT of cheese – mozzarella, cheddar, blue, pepper-jack, goat cheese – basically any kind of cheese I could find, I would eat. I loved it. Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that they can’t imagine me ever giving up my cheese. I mean, I used to have entire parties that were centered around wine and cheese.

Honestly, cheese was one of the reasons I didn’t think I would go vegan. Well, that and milk chocolate, but that’s another story. I thought “ok, maybe just being a really strict vegetarian who eats cheese here and there is enough”. And you know what? That surely would have made a difference. I lowered my carbon footprint significantly just by giving up meat, and in not eating animal flesh, I was saving the lives of countless animals. Awesome, right? Well, I felt pretty good about it, to be honest.

But the longer I kept eating dairy, the worse I felt about it. I was helping a lot of animals, sure, but I was still contributing to the suffering of countless, helpless, beautiful, individual “dairy” cows – cows that I didn’t NEED to harm for my own benefit. I ate cheese because I liked it, and possibly because I was addicted to it. According to research done by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM):

Several scientific teams have shown that the principal protein in cheese, casein, breaks apart during digestion to produce abundant amounts of morphine-like compounds called casomorphins. Biologically, these opiates appear to be responsible for part of the mother-infant bond that occurs during nursing.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Nature designed breast milk to be highly desirable (addictive, even) so that babies will want more of it and can keep growing big and strong. And humans continuing to consume casein in dairy products makes us big too – except we grow fatter, not stronger.

At any rate, the point is that I DID give up cheese. I broke the addiction and finally went vegan and I’ve never felt better. And eating vegan? It’s really not that hard. You just have to commit to it and do a little research and voila! You’re vegan! If you’re struggling to go vegan, just know that the cravings for animal products do go away, and please know that you CAN do it. If I can give up cheese, you can give up anything. Seriously.

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About 7 years ago, a girlfriend of mine surprised me with a 1 year old cat she had adopted from the Humane Society as a gift for my birthday. While in general I think giving pet as gifts is a terrible idea, in this case it actually worked out. I was thrilled to have my new kitty.  I had always been a cat person and had loved having cats on our farm growing up, but this cat, who I named Kisa, was my first pet as an adult.  She is now 8 years old and has been a near perfect little companion.  (I say “near” because I have never met a cat who talks as much or as loudly as she does – it’s kind of insane. But hey, I guess she has a lot to say!)

Anyway, a few years later, I got my little doggy, Otis.  He was about 15 months old, and looked so pathetic on the Humane Society’s website that I had to go look at him – “just to look”. I wasn’t going to adopt him, obviously, but I had to go LOOK at him. Because that’s always a good idea, right?  Well, upon arrival I knew I was a goner.  He looked at me with these sad, sad eyes, head slightly bowed, and back rounded, and I just knew I couldn’t leave him there.  So I took him home, and he won his way into my heart by pooping in the house, chewing on my shoes, and waking me up several times a night.  He has since learned his manners (for the most part).

So what does this have to do with veganism?  Well, it’s funny, but I think it took living with these 2 furballs for a while for me to realize that they were really no different from other animals–namely, “food” animals.  Someone said to me one day, “For how much you love animals, I’m surprised you eat them.”  That really kind of hit home.  How could I know with all my heart that Otis & Kisa had these big personalities, desires to do things like get treats, go for walks, spend time outside, and so forth, but deny that pigs and cows and chickens have those same desires?  It didn’t make sense anymore.

In some countries, humans eat dogs and cats. Americans find that to be repulsive, and yet what makes cats and dogs so different from other animals?  Something to think about….

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