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Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

After a 7 month hiatus from this blog, I wonder: is anyone still out there?  Anyone waiting for me to post?  I bet you are just beside yourself with curiosity about where I’ve been.  Answer: first I was trying to get a new job, then I got a new job, and now I’m BUSY as heck.  The truth of the matter is that while I was in the midst of my job search, I felt the need to make this blog private.  I didn’t want potential employers to be able to find it and not hire me on the basis of my ethics as they pertain to food.  And yes, I realize that sounds strange because you’d think any employer would appreciate someone with such strong ethics, but that’s not exactly how things always work in the conservative finance industry.  Sigh.

At any rate, I wanted to discuss veganism in the work place a bit.  I wish I were lucky enough to be able to work somewhere where being vegan was the norm.  Or at least where telling someone you were vegan didn’t result in very shocked stares and a million questions about how it is even possible to not eat animal products.  I had been at my last job for 7.5 years, during which I made the transition from meat-loving omnivore to vegetarian to vegan.  My bosses thought I was a little nutty, and one of them asked me every day if I was having tofu for lunch.  Because that’s all vegans eat, you know.

Coming to this new job, I am interacting with a much larger group of people.  Of the other 24 people in my department not one of them is even vegetarian, much less vegan.  This presents both an opportunity for education and sometimes awkwardness.  I’m probably not making the situation any better by having an 8×10 framed picture of a rooster in my office – this picture to be exact:

Roscoe the Rooster, Kindred Spirits Sanctuary

This was a Valentine’s Day gift from my boyfriend.  I took this picture when I was visiting Kindred Spirits Sanctuary and he thought it was so great he framed it and said I should bring it to work.  This is the largest picture I have in my office.  It prompts a fair number of questions and/or reactions.

One man said “you like chickens?”.  I said “yeah, I do.”  He replied, “oh you should have grown up on my farm then. We had 400 of them.  Slaughtered them ourselves!”  Um….not exactly what I meant when I said I like chickens.

Other than that, so far no one has really been insensitive.  They’ve mostly just been sort of curious or confused.  I’m okay with that. I don’t mind being the “weirdo”, and I figure as they get to know me, they maybe won’t think being vegan is so strange after all (that’s the goal anyway).  I don’t expect anyone to convert or anything, but it’s kind of nice to be able to show them that being vegan isn’t some big sacrifice or something.

I’d be interested in hearing about other people’s experiences in the work place.  Is your work place vegan friendly?  Are you the only vegan?  If so, how do you handle that?

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This is one of my favorite responses from omnivores when they find out that I would love it if the whole world stopped eating animals. “But what would we do with all the animals that are currently on farms? They’d have to die–we can’t possibly keep them all around if they’re going to serve no purpose.*  Is that what you want? You want all the farm animals to just die?”

Um…okay, really?  Yes, that is why I’m vegan – because I’d like all the farm animals to DIE!  Does that even make sense?

First of all, people aren’t going to go vegan over night – at least not the entire population. These kinds of things don’t just happen like that.  If they did, I guess I’d have to give some pretty serious thought to what would happen to the billions upon billions of animals that are currently suffering on farms everywhere.  Until that’s a real possibility, I’m not really going to stress too much about what we’d do with all the now “useless” animals.

Secondly, the fact of the matter is that many farmed animals could likely survive if they were left to their own devices.  Those that couldn’t – like “broiler” chickens – would only find it difficult because of human intervention in their breeding.  Chickens who are bred for meat grow so large so quickly that even with the best of care, they do not live long.  My sister lives in Tampa, FL and she sees wild chickens all the time.  They live like any other normal wild bird, and are happy and free. Many farmed animals would be able to do the same if given the opportunity.

The last thing I’d say on this issue is that sometimes people say that these animals wouldn’t even exist if we didn’t breed them and eat them, and isn’t it better to have existed just for a little while than to never be born at all?  To that I’d like to say a BIG FAT NO.  If an animal never existed, s/he would never know s/he never existed, but when an animal lives in pain and fear every day of his/her short life, and then is brutally slaughtered at the hands of humans, s/he knows it.  That’s no way to live.  So, do I want pigs, cows, and chickens to exist?  Of course I do – but I want their existences to be ones of joy and comfort. And I don’t want them to die just because humans like the way they taste!

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* Someone actually told me that animals would “serve no purpose” if humans didn’t use them for food, clothing, etc. I did not do a very good job of hiding my shock.

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“With the passage of Prop 2, California becomes the 5th state to outlaw gestation crates (joining Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado) and the third to outlaw veal crates (joining Arizona and Colorado).  Perhaps most significantly, it becomes the first state to ban battery cages for laying hens, who are killed in far greater numbers than either pigs or calves.”

That’s what awaited me in my email inbox this morning, courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.  How exciting is that!?  No longer will chickens in California have to live like this:

And with California’s lead, the rest of the nation’s egg laying hens might also have a chance to someday live free of cages, able to spread their wings and turn around – such modest requests, really.

I am very excited about this, and want to thank all the animal advocates who worked so hard to make this happen. I know the folks at HSUS and Farm Sanctuary have been working tirelessly to make this a reality, and how wonderful that they have another success under their belt!

To read more about Prop 2, check out these links:

Farm Sanctuary Action Alert: Success on Prop 2!

HSUS: Californians Make History

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle’s Blog: The People Have Spoken

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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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The basis of all animal rights should be the Golden Rule: we should treat them as we would wish them to treat us, were any other species in our dominant position.
~Christine Stevens

Simple as it is, “The Golden Rule” is basically how I try to live my life. In my personal relationships, I try my best to treat others in a way that reflects how I want them to treat me. I don’t always succeed, granted, and I’m no saint, but I really do try, and I think most of the time I do all right. This philosophy has always extended to dogs and cats as well. As a kid, I was insanely in love with our farm cats and couldn’t get enough of them. I’d spend so much time outside in the summers and loved to pet them and play with them, and yes, probably squeeze them a little too tightly at times. As an adult, I have had a pet kitty for 7 years now, and got my dog 3 years after that. They’ve been like my children. I think about what I would like to do if I were a dog or a cat, and I make every effort to bring those things into their lives. My dog LOVES going on walks and being outdoors and going to dog parks, so I walk him a couple times a day, take him to the dog park as much as I can, and we sit outside and enjoy the weather when it’s nice out. My cat loves chasing around these little toy mice, so I make sure she has plenty of them (though they always seem to disappear…hm…).

Anyway, it was only in this past year that I extended this same empathy and compassion – the Golden Rule – to all animals. If I were a cow, what would I want to do? Would I want to be forcibly impregnated year after year, and have my baby ripped away from me so that humans could steal my milk? Would I want to spend my last few months of life in a feedlot, forced to eat food that makes me sick, and to stand in my own waste day after day? If I were a hen, would I want to have my beak cut off? Would I want to be crammed into a cage with several other hens, some of them dead or dying, so that humans could steal my eggs? If I were any other living being, would I want humans–a supposedly more “advanced” animal–to kick me, poke me, prod me, kill me, and eat me?

I don’t think anyone can actually imagine reversing roles with a cow or a hen and saying “yes, that sounds like exactly how I’d wish to be treated if it were me!” Animals of all kinds deserve fresh air, sunlight, clean living quarters, the ability to raise their young, to walk and run freely, and to LIVE.

At the very minimum, I think the Golden Rule requires this, don’t you? It’s simple: treat them as you would wish to be treated were they in the dominant position. More concisely: stop eating them; stop wearing them; and stop buying products that were tested on them. I promise it’s not as hard as you think.

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One of the highlights of the Midwest Animal Advocacy Conference this weekend was a standing ovation-worthy keynote address given by author and animal rights activist Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It. was. amazing.

The speech titled “Being a Joyful Vegan in a Non-Vegan World” was inspiration, tips and tactics for doing just that. Let’s face it: it can be easy to lose steam or feel down and out about the animal rights movement. On top of it, vegans sometimes get a reputation for being negative – but Patrick-Goudreau’s approach emphasizes the importance of being a positive representative for the movement. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the horrors of the pervasive cruelty against animals—just the opposite, in fact. We can talk about that, but we can and should also show non-vegans that it truly is a joy to be vegan.

There has been nothing more powerful for me than adopting a vegan diet and removing myself from the violence committed against “food” animals. Contributing to the suffering of animals became such a source of crippling guilt in my life that I needed to make a change. As an example, I remember the moment I gave up eggs. I went to the grocery store to pick up ingredients to make cookies. MA rescued heny grocery list took me to the egg section—organic, cage-free, mind you, but eggs nonetheless—and there I stood. I stood there for several minutes just staring at the cartons of eggs. I put a half dozen in my basket, looked at them sitting there, and put them back. I did it again. And then again. I looked at them sitting back in the refrigerated case and asked myself if I could continue to support an industry that tortures so many hens (see right) and kills billions of “useless” male chicks each year. I just couldn’t do it—the guilt became too overwhelming. I gave up eggs in that moment and felt a huge wave of relief wash over me. Then I went home and made some vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Not only were they delicious, but I felt so happy for having removed myself from the violence of that industry.

Anyway, Colleen had a lot of really great things to say, and I’ll blog about more of them later, but this message really stuck with me. Showing people that being vegan isn’t about deprivation or negativity is important for the movement. If the only thing omnivores see when they meet a vegan is crankiness, they’ll never understand the joy we have in not exploiting animals for food, and they’ll never want to join us. I plan to remember this next time I’m feeling not-so-joyful, and I encourage other vegans out there to do so as well!

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I am back from a wonderful weekend at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. What an adventure we had. I finally got to meet the goat I sponsored, Goodwin. This is him:

Goodwin
Goodwin

He is just the cutest little goat I’ve ever seen. Apparently his growth was stunted due to malnutrition or something, so he is only about half the size of the other pygmy goats. Since he is still pretty new there, he is terribly shy, and not sure what he thinks of humans yet. You can’t really blame him since he probably had never been treated kindly before now. In addition, he’s still trying to figure out where he fits in the pygmy goat herd. Despite his shyness, you could tell he has a lot of personality. He is cautious and wants to check things out, but to me it just seemed like you could tell he had a gentle, kind little personality. I think he’s feisty too underneath it all. I will be interested to see how he develops over time – yes, I’ll definitely go back there someday!

Here are some more of my pictures. If you haven’t been to a farmed animal sanctuary, I cannot recommend it enough. It was such a beautiful experience to connect with animals who have escaped slaughter, abuse, and neglect, and now are happy, sweet creatures who have learned to forgive humans, despite what they’ve been through. And for selfish reasons, it was just plain fun to give a pig a belly rub!

Turkey

Happy pigRoseFennel, the roosterHappy pig

Maya, the friendly cow

goat

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