Food to Heal: the People, the Planet, and the Animals   
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Animal Issues: Food to Heal the Animals

Source: The Vegetarian Society

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”
     —Alice Walker

Why do we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows? ... People tend to feel comfortable eating only those species they learned to classify as edible; all the rest they perceive as inedible and often as disgusting (e.g., pigs in the Middle East) or even unethical (e.g., dogs and cats in the U.S., cattle in India) to consume. And all cultures tend to see their own classification of edible animals as rational and judge the classifications of other cultures as disgusting and/or offensive.”
     —Psychologist Melanie Joy

"In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they're the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought. [For the animals,] every day is a holocaust, an enternal Treblinka.”
     —Isaac Bashevis Singer,
          Holocaust Survivor

I became vegan in 1993 for environmental and health reasons, not because of the harm to animals. But, having studied the animal aspects in depth since 2011, I have become convinced without doubt or reservation of the equal legitimacy of refusing to eat animals or to wear their skin, conduct laboratory tests on them, employ them in zoos, circuses, horse-racing, and even keep them as "pets." We can survive just fine without doing any of these things; in many cases, we would be better off if we did not do them.

Most of you have heard only the pro-status quo side of the story, and I invite you to study the other side before you reach any conclusions. I put a lot of study and reflection into my assessment and conclusion.

Wild Animals

Most writings focus on domesticated animals, but wildlife are also greatly affected not just by lab experiments and zoos but also by our heavy impact on land and water. A few of the biggest wildlife concerns are as follows:
    (1) large-scale slaughter of wildlife on wild U.S. public lands provided to ranchers (to protect farmed animals from nearby natural predators);
    (2) massive wildlife starvation and species extinction due to habitat loss extreme human land and waters and ocean use, such as
    • ecosystems dominated by humans, becoming human-centric instead of Nature-centric;
    • rivers, lakes, and other water systems polluted, reduced, or disappearing; and
    • massive worldwide deforestation.

"Domesticated" Animals

With animals under direct human control, the short question to explore is whether we have the right, simply because we can, to "use" animals for our own purposes, whether for food, entertainment, or affection.

How would we feel if an "advanced," superior, alien species landed on Earth and began breeding some of us as food for our meat and breastmilk, wearing our skins, keeping some of us as pets, placing others in zoos, and conducting similar laboratory experiments on us?
Even with our beloved companion animals ("pets"), what are the social justice, ethical, and spiritual implications to these animals, individually and collectively, and to the greater web of life when our actions result in the following:
  • cause new diseases for them by selectively breeding and genetically altering them to modify their appearance;
  • remove certain natural traits (like self-defense) by selectively breeding and genetically altering them;
  • remove them from their natural environment and deprive them of their freedom; or
  • place them in an artifical environment where they wreak havoc on the ecosystem?
Yes, we tell ourselves they're better off under our domain. But what does this mean? Is it even true? If so, in what sense is it true or not true? Do we have the right? Do parallels exist between the situation of these "domesticated" animals and sexism or racism? These and more questions arise. I suggest that you not attempt to answer them yet, just keep them in mind as you review the links below for yourself.

Animal "Welfare" versus Animal "Rights"

Two schools of thought dominate our relationships to non-human animals, especially "domesticated" ones:
(1) Animal welfare school, which holds that it's okay to use non-human animals for our own purposes, as long as the conditions are "humane";

(2) Animal rights (liberation) school, which holds that subjecting other species to our own uses simply because we have the power to do so does not justify such use; it equates "domestication" and "using" with slavery (indeed, Aristotle's definition of slavery was to use a living being as a tool). Animal "rights" activists view "welfarism" as supporting a form of slavery with "kind masters" and call instead for abolition. Citations for these relevant feminism and racism aspects are covered on the Social Justice page.
Below is a short explanation of abolition, followed by additional resources on the following aspects; you can scroll through all or click directly on any topic.

Abolition Explained: A Short Version

The following text was available on a website that is no longer found:

We kill billions of nonhumans every year for reasons that cannot plausibly be considered as “necessary” even though we maintain that we accept that it is wrong to inflict “unnecessary” suffering on animals. When it comes to other animals, we humans exhibit what can best be described as moral schizophrenia. We say one thing about how animals should be treated, and we turn right around and do another.

All sentient beings have an interest in avoiding pain, suffering and death. Humans and nonhumans alike have an interest in not being eaten, used in experiments or as forced organ donors, hunted, or otherwise treated as the mere resources of others. We treat animals in ways in which we would not regard it as appropriate to treat any human. Animals are the property of, or a resource for, humans. We own them and claim the right to sacrifice their interests for our own benefit. They have only the value that we choose to give them.

Nonhumans are the slaves of humans. If we recognized that all sentient beings had a basic, moral right not to be treated as property and that we had a moral duty to stop treating sentient beings as resources, we would stop bringing domesticated animals into existence for our use. We ought to abolish animal exploitation and not seek merely to regulate it.

The only reason the cow exists is so we can exploit her for her meat and milk. Once we recognize that we have no moral justification for exploiting her –however “humane” our animal slavery may be—there is no reason to have cows any longer. There is no reason—other than our pleasure, amusement, or convenience—to eat animal meat or dairy, wear animals, hunt animals, or use animals in entertainment. There is more suffering in a glass of milk than in a steak.

Resources: Animal Rights Theory

101 Reasons to Go Vegan (Video: one hour, 9 mins.), by James Wildman, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

A Woman’s View of Dairy (Video, 4 mins.), by Mercy for Animals, Jan. 9, 2013.
     Shows a woman holding up signs instead of speaking. Caution: a brief graphic image is near the end. Compelling, heart-breaking, eye-opening perspective.

Abolition or Regulation of Exploitation? (Video, 20 mins.) Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare. I’m Vegan: Gary Francione.
     He tells his personal story, then explains the difference between animal welfarism and abolition of animal exploitation, also known as animal rights. 99.9+ percent of our relationships with animals is for our pleasure, amusement, or convenience; we cannot consider this morally justifiable.

Animal Rights Activist Gary Yourofsky (Video: one hour, 10 mins.), Gary Yourofsky’s speech at Georgia Tech, Summer 2010. See also follow-up question and answer session (Video, 31 mins.).

“Blood and Soil”: Lierre Keith, Michael Pollan, and the Trouble with Locavore Politics (Long article), by John Sanbonmatsu, ZNet, Aug. 16, 2011.

Critical Theory and Animal Liberation (Book excerpts), John Sanbonmatsu, Editor. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. 364 pp.

"An Ethical Blind Spot of the Locavores" (Blog article), by John Sanbonmatsu, Providence Journal, Dec. 17, 2012.

"Humane" Labels and Loopholes (Website fact sheet), A Well Fed World.
     Food producers are capitalizing on the public's concern for animal welfare by changing some of their most egregious practices OR implying that they have changed. This section explains what some of the most popular labels include and some of the standard operating abuses they are hiding. It's important to note that only organic labels are regulated. None of the other labels are created or enforced by the government and some are industry created and can be misleading to increase profits.

A Life Connected (Video, 12 mins.), by
     Uplifting, positive video about the power of making Vegan choices. People everywhere are making choices more connected with their values. We are simplifying our lives, buying less and living more because we know that the Earth provides enough to satisfy everyone's need, but not everyone's greed.
     But there is one connected choice that sometimes gets overlooked. It's one of the most far-reaching personal, practical and ethical choices you can make. With this choice we can help...     
  • feed ourselves and every hungry person on the planet;
  • end deforestation;
  • replenish the deep woods of the North and save our disappearing rainforests;
  • revitalize our rural landscapes and save family farms;
  • stop the number one polluter of water and the number one waster of water;
  • return our oceans to thriving underwater worlds teeming with life and wonder;
  • make cancer and heart disease a rarity instead of a common occurrence;
  • stop the unnecessary suffering of billions and billions of animals; and
  • return wild lands to their rightful owners.

     This powerful choice can be done by everyone every day... by you... right now. Vegan. Every day you are invited to make choices. Live your values. Change the world. It's that simple.

Make History! (Video, 2 mins.), by The Vegan Society.
     Great clip; inspiring, positive.

Earthlings (Movie, 95 mins.), Director Shaun Monson.
     Considered the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world; contains "disturbing graphical images" that are standard practice in animal slaughter and treatment. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, Gladiator), EARTHLINGS is a feature-length documentary about humankind's absolute economic dependence on animals raised as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and for scientific research. Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, EARTHLINGS chronicles the day-to-day practices at some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. Powerful, informative and thought-provoking, EARTHLINGS is by far the most comprehensive documentary ever produced on the correlation between nature, animals and human economic interests.

Feminist Aspects of Food. You might also want to see the Feminism and Racism sections of my Social Justice page.

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home (Video, 4 mins.; movie preview), by Tribe of Heart, 2004.
     A riveting story of transformation and healing, this film explores the awakening conscience of several farmers whose eventual questioning of their assumptions behind eating animals led to their refusal to kill animals and their conversion to veganism.

Racist Aspects of Food. You might also want to see the Racism section on my Social Justice page.

Secrets of Food Marketing (7 mins.), Compassion in World Farming eTalks, May 12, 2014. Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. The focus in this clip is on factory farming, but the same concepts apply to the so-called "humane" and locavore movements.

Through Vegan Eyes (6 mins.), by Compassionate Living. Caution: contains some graphic images.

Walking the Path of Conscience (Video, 45 mins.), by Tribe of Heart, 2010.
     We think of "conscience" as an intellectual exercise, but it's root is an emotional identification with others. Covers the 10 steps of conscience formation ("moral development") and how to break away from "herd" consciousness on any given issue. We tend to blindly accept what we've been told and what we see in the mainstream or do we awaken to and act on our repressed identification with others?

Who Matters? (Video, 16 mins.) Megan Pincus Kajitani at TEDxVillageGate, published Jan. 8, 2013.
     Who are "the people in your neighborhood?" Who matters in your "neighborhood?" Are animals included in your vision? Seeing that every living being matters is the path to peace. Megan Pincus Kajitani has been a professional writer and educator for 17 years. Her work can be seen in many places, including Mothering Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Megan has an M.A. in Media & Cultural Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation/Cornell University, and is a Certified World Peace Diet Facilitator.

Women's Rights Aspects of Food. You might also want to see the Feminism and Racism section on my Social Justice page.

World Peace Diet (Podcast, 30-mins.), Interview with Will Tuttle by Responsible Eating And Living (REAL)

Resources: Carnism, the Ideology of Eating Animals

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows book trailer, by Psychologist Melanie Joy and the Carnism Awareness and Action Network.
     Actual Clip (Video, 2 mins.) Please watch this clip before viewing the discussion, below.
     Brief Discussion of Clip by Dr. Joy (Video, 7 mins.)

Carnism: The Psychology of Eating Meat (Video, 60 mins.), by Psychologist Melanie Joy.
     Most of us “love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows;” we eat animals without thinking about what we’re doing and why. Psychologist Joy explains why this is so and why it’s important to you.

The Secret Reason We Eat Meat (17 mins.), by Melanie Joy, PhD, animated video, narrated by Dr. Melanie Joy, provides startling yet little-known facts about the psychology of eating meat.

Understanding Neo-Carnism: How Vegan Advocates Can Appreciate and Respond to ‘Happy Meat,’ Locavorism, and Paleo Dieting (Article),” by Melanie Joy, One Green Planet, July 29, 2011.
     The new wave of pro-meat arguments is in part an attempt to defend the weakened meat-eating establishment against the very real threat posed by an increasingly powerful vegan movement. “Happy meat,” locavorism, and “paleo dieting” are signs of society’s willingness to examine the ethics of eating meat, eggs, and dairy, and they reflect people’s genuine concern for animals (and the environment and health). But they also reflect the resistance of the dominant, meat-eating culture to truly embracing a vegan ethic. The new pro-meat arguments are part of a carnistic backlash against the growing popularity of veganism.

Why Must We Eat the Animals? (Song), by Cipes. Song about Ahimsa or no harm. Uplifting, kid-Friendly video if you explain Ahimsa’s no-kill approach to life.

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism (Book), by Melanie Joy, PhD. San Francisco: Red Wheel, 2010. 208 pp.
     See also Dr. Joy's website.

   • Wake up from the advertisers’ disinformation campaigns!
   • Liberate yourself from dietary habits that harm your health!
   • Align your dietary habits with your environmental and animal-loving values.

© 2012, Mary Rooker  *   Please obtain permission before reproducing anything from this website. Thanks!
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