Posts Tagged ‘slaughterhouses’

sadpigThe weekend of June 13th and 14th I went to an animal rights conference in the Twin Cities called Their Lives, Our Voices.  Much like last year, it was awesome.  I took notes and hope to write a few entries on what I learned there.   For now, I’m going to start with the very last presentation (because I forgot my notebook so I don’t have notes, but it’s still fresh in my memory!) which was given by pattrice jones.  It was called “In Defense of Actual Animals”, and it was fantastic.  This post won’t do it justice, but I’ll try anyway!

As I sit here writing this, animals across the world are being slaughtered by the thousands every second.  Sometimes I think about that and feel completely overwhelmed. As I’m sitting here in my comfy chair, chickens and pigs and cows and so many other kinds of animals are being strung up by their legs and getting their throats cut.  Right now, someone is beating a dog, or torturing a cat or a horse.  Someone is doing an experiment on a chimp or a rabbit or a rat. And here I sit.

Pattrice’s speech made me even more cognizant of these things when she said that “what matters to animals is what actually happens to them”.  Being vegan is helping and is necessary if we’re going to save future animals, but right now animals are still dying by the billions – and me being vegan doesn’t matter one iota to those animals right now.  Being vegan is vital…but it’s not enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I never thought that when I went vegan I would be saving the world or saving all the world’s animals or anything. I know that animals will still be dying for food every day. Being vegan, though, allows me to feel at peace with my own conscience when I look in the mirror every day because I’m staying true to my values.  That feel-good deed, though, isn’t important to the chickens whose throats are being slit right now.  What matters to them is what’s actually happening to them RIGHT NOW.

How very simple!  And yet…I had become somewhat complacent in my activism. I thought that if I could at least get the word out about veganism, or encourage people to reduce their animal products intake, I would be doing enough.  But it’s not enough if you’re a cow awaiting imminent death in the slaughter line.  To her, my veganism doesn’t mean a thing. She will still die today, and someone will eat her flesh tomorrow.

We need to do more. We need to help the animals who are currently suffering in the system.  What matters to them is that our actions SAVE THEM.

Now THAT seems even more overwhelming, doesn’t it?  I mean, I’d LOVE to start up a sanctuary right now, and open it up to those suffering animals tomorrow.  But there’s no way I can do that. So, what can we do?

Pattrice offered up some suggestions, after noting that the reason Big Ag is so powerful is because they have so much money – raising and killing animals for food is profitable business. We need to make it unprofitable. Part of that is decreasing demand – something that hasn’t worked so far (on a pure numbers basis) despite all the vegan converts. Meat consumption just keeps going up and up because they’re finding new markets and getting their current customers to eat event more meat.   We do need to continue to get the word out to help decrease desad_dog_by_anapires2mand, but we also need to increase their costs of doing business.  Passing animal welfare legislation (like the recent victory in CA) is a start, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

We also need to use our individual strengths to help animals as much as we can now. Saving one dog or goat or chicken matters a lot to that one dog or goat or chicken, and that is kind of a powerful thought. We may not be able to save them all, but if you can take in one dog off the street and find her a new home, you’ve made a huge difference to that one dog.

Given my current living situation – a condo association that dictates how many animals I can keep in my home – I’m at capacity and can’t really take in a bunch of strays.   Until my situation changes, I’m brainstorming of ways that I could help animals directly now.  If anyone has a suggestion, I’d love to hear it!  And, if you currently have the capacity or ability to take in foster animals or save animals in some other way, please consider how much your efforts would mean to those animals!

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Wow.  I have to say that our nation escaped a complete disaster when we elected the Obama-Biden ticket as opposed to McCain-Palin.  Sarah Palin was recently interviewed at a farm (slaughter-house??) “pardoning” a turkey for Thanksgiving, while right behind her another turkey is meeting its demise–and she could care less.  She’s happy go-lucky the whole time talking about how grateful she is for her family and blahblahblah – completely oblivious to the fact that an animal is struggling to live right behind her for what seems like an eternity (actually over 3 minutes, which would be quite a long time if you were suffering horribly).

Meanwhile, the guy who’s doing the killing keeps staring at Palin and at the camera presumably thinking this is the greatest day of his entire life: “Look, ma! I’m on TV and I’m killin’ a bird!”  What an accomplishment!

Here’s the video – it’s not overly graphic, but not really what I’d call “pleasant” to watch either – so, watch at your own risk.  Anyway, with any luck, maybe a few people who saw it will think twice about turkey this Thanksgiving.

For some reason I can’t embed the video in this post, so check it out HERE.

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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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Earlier this week, I read this article about a Minnesota farmer, Catherine Friend, who recently wrote a book called The Compassionate Carnivore. I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to, so my critique of it is based on her website and other book reviews I found, but I feel I have a decent idea of what she’s trying to argue (or rather, justify, as the case may be). One book reviewer said this:

Central to her argument is that vegetarians do nothing to help animals because by ‘leaving the table’ they do nothing to ensure that the inhumane, non-sustainable factory farming of the big meat producers can be ameliorated by small farmers like herself.

This infuriates me. Vegetarians don’t “leave the table”; we stay at the table and make a statement by not eating what everyone else is eating. We encourage others to think about their food choices. And more than anything else, I have to say that all the veg*ns I know are activists who work every day in some form or another to reduce the suffering of innocent animals. Furthermore, most veg*ns don’t just want factory farming abolished, they want the slaughter of all animals – factory farmed or “sustainably” farmed – to end. So no, I guess most of us aren’t acting as cheerleaders for small farmers–we’re acting as cheerleaders for the billions of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and other animals that are slaughtered each year in this country alone. I don’t think you can say that’s “doing nothing to help animals”.

Another reviewer wrote this:

The author writes a very touching chapter called “Letter To My Lambs,” in which she talks about their lives, her love for them, and her gratitude for their sacrifice. “I wish you a safe journey, and I honor your role in my life.”

“Their sacrifice”? That makes it sound like these lambs have a choice in the matter. I am assuming her farm is not so compassionate as to offer the lambs a choice between walking to slaughter or playing inLamb the pastures. I wonder which one they’d pick if they could! Also, “I wish you a safe journey”? To my plate? Yes, that will surely be safe – being held down against your will, getting “stunned”, being bled out, having your fleece [skin] torn from your flesh as you are still twitching, and then being eviscerated – yep, that sounds safe to me! I am sorry, but that is just laughable.

I can’t read this book because I would probably have to seek anger management treatment afterwards, and that doesn’t sound very fun or cheap to me. These reviews tell me enough: it just goes to show you that humans can justify anything if they really put their minds to it!

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I know this is basically un-American to say, but I’m going to say it anyway: I’m not a huge fan of the never-ending TV show “The Simpsons”. I don’t know why, but I just have never been able to get in to it. Sometimes I see it and I think “why don’t I like this show?” but then I never make an effort to watch it again. That said, I know they tend to tackle some pretty big issues in a funny, but thought-provoking way, so I like the show in that respect. And guess what? They did a show about feedlots and slaughterhouses!

In “Apocalypse Cow”, Bart joins the 4-H Club and unexpectedly falls in love with his hand-raised calf named Lou. Bart takes Lou to a 4-H competition, where Lou wins first prize. Bart thinks that means that Lou won’t have to be slaughtered, but becomes determined to save him when he learns that it really means Lou “gets to go first” to slaughter. With the help of Lisa and her hippy vegan friends (one nicknamed “Composte”, which cracked me up), Bart breaks a much fatter Lou out of a feedlot. To explain Lou’s new size, Lisa tells Bart, “His food is laced with growth hormones!” At that moment, Lou licks Bart’s arm, which immediately sprouts hair growth on the pre-pubescent Bart. Gotta love those growth hormones!

Anyway, the show brought up some important points in true Simpsons fashion, and reached a wide audience, though I have no idea if it was at all effective in getting people to change their habits (probably not). My favorite piece of advice came from Homer when Bart was begging his parents to buy Lou back so he wouldn’t have to be slaughtered: “Never work hard and don’t form emotional attachments. Also, don’t be a cow.”

Touché, Homer, touché.

If you feel like my recap is insufficient (it is), you can watch the episode here for free.

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