Archive for ‘Ethics’

August 27, 2009

– Of what’s wrong with the new ‘Anonymous’ campaign as an example of how welfarism damages animals.-

It was 2002 in Seattle, and a very good friend gave me the first “free range” eggs I ever had in my fridge. They were from her family’s very small farm, where they kept many dogs, cats, a donkey and some chickens. The chickens were not separated by male/female and the eggs had to be pre-checked (by holding them up to the light), making sure that they were not fertilized. Being vegan for a while then, I remember how disgusted I was by the idea of eating eggs again. Sadly, I couldn’t give my friend an explanation as to why it is morally wrong to eat these eggs, without seeming like an “extremist”.

Understanding the meaning of animal rights is important not only for those who still choose to use animals for their culinary pleasures, but also for those who do not. Because realizing the facts about veganism helps in staying calm when facing annoying Q&A sessions during family dinner and to be able to educate others.

When people talk about veganism they pretty much always have a set of questions and anecdotes and as more guilty they feel, the more their words become desperate and surreal. Many are certain that they are quite original, but the truth is, that 99% of the anti-vegan things said is a never ending circle of the same recycled ideas. But once the main reason for veganism is clear, then it really doesn’t matter what people may say, because the facts remain facts, clearer than any excuses given: we have no right to use animals and there is no justification for supporting an industry based on exploitation of the weak.

It is most unfortunate that “happy meat” (“free range”and/or “organic” ) industries, stores like “whole foods”, the “conscious chefs” in fancy magazines and above all the welfarist movements (and with that I must sadly include PETA), were kind enough to provide people with more excuses to eating animals and their “products”. So many excuses in fact, that many have actually went back to eating animals, claiming that animals “don’t suffer” anymore.

A few years ago, as the “free range” industry was getting popular, I realized the dangers of it, but only now is the catastrophe becoming clear. As the industry blooms, more and more people get the chance to use animals without feeling guilty.

‘Anonymous’, an Israeli welfarist organization (which was the first real animal rights group in Israel but has changed much and became welfarist), has began  a new campaign against battery cages.

‘Now is the time to advance the industry and implement international standards!’ the new campaign’s site exclaims. “International standards”? since when are animal rights groups interested in “international standards”? And what do “international standards” even mean?

Chickens In Battery Cages

There are a couple of serious problems with the “free range” industry:

A. People are deluded into thinking that “free range” means better lives for animals and so statistically, this industry has made more people consume animals and their products. Many are going back from being vegan to milk drinkers or animal eaters. More eggs are sold in stores that offer “free range” than were before.

And what is wrong with “free range”? Here are 3 main points:

1. Male chicks are killed immediately after hatching. Check in garbage bins behind any hatchery in Israel, and you’ll find baby chicks suffocating to death. In Europe they are gassed.

2. Chickens used to produce eggs, including eggs labeled “cage-free,” have their beaks cut, in order minimize the damage they cause each other when crowded together.

3. At all farms, large-scale and small-scale, laying hens are killed when their production declines, typically within two years, as feeding these worn-out individuals cuts directly into profits. Often the bodies of “spent” hens are so ravaged that no one will buy them, and they are ground into fertilizer or just sent to a landfill.*

B. But more importantly than what goes on in factories, is that the basic rights of animals are ignored and they are, again, nothing but products. We decide to exploit them, but to do it “more nicely”. We still give our money to a terrible industry, based on suffering and murder.

So how can a group like ‘Anonymous’ start a campaign encouraging people into buying this stuff? Simple: money. By creating more “friendly” campaigns, they are able to address more people. They don’t seem so “extreme” in the crowd’s judgmental eyes, and therefore are able to raise more cash. Maybe the thought behind this campaign is to get money so they can work on other campaigns, or maybe they’ve grown tired of a society that won’t listen. But the truth is, that Anonymous is damaging animals by promoting “free range” eggs. Damaging animals by further establishing their place in this world as products and by helping to create the illusion of buying these “products” guilt free, and so increasing demand. If we increase demand even more, there won’t be an option for happy meat etc., because the cost will have to increase to a point that people will stop buying. They will stop buying not because of a true understanding of some animal rights theory, but because it will be too expensive for them to buy. The industry will then make changes and again we will have battery cages, or an option worse than I can conjure up at the moment. This is not a theory based on my negative imagination, unfortunately. It is based on the history of factory farming and the understanding that people will always want something, a lot of it and for cheap. That is why we go back to the beginning: understanding the meaning of animal rights and not contributing money to an industry based on lies.

A wonderful woman in Anonymous once told me that the organization’s name is about giving a voice to those who cannot speak out for themselves, those who are indeed, ‘anonymous‘. If these animals were given a voice, they for sure would not promote killing their families, exploiting them and killing them off when they are no longer productive.

I wish that they would consider that when they start their next campaign.

* Information taking from the Humane Myth site.

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July 16, 2009

– Of Blindness and Hypocrisy.

Our minds are over saturated with “global warming” warnings and promises. Many websites offer “green tips” in an attempt to help save “our” miserable planet. These user friendly tips are usually the kind you can and should do in your everyday life, such as switching off the light when not in use, etc. Not many sites, however, tell people to stop eating animals as the single, most efficient way to stop polluting. Greenpeace are a superb example of hypocrisy, not caring to mention “don’t eat animals” in their “what to do” section. When a search is placed for “meat“, it’s all pretty much about whales. Interestingly enough, the word “beef” brings out quite a few articles on the subject.

One article, talks about the damages of farming, in general, as the main polluter, omitting the fact that most grains produced are used to feed animals, so people can then eat these animals:

“It is not only these direct effects that contribute to climate change. Cutting down forests and other natural cover to make way for agricultural land for grazing, growing animal feed and other crops, removes vital carbon sinks so increasing global warming.”

The article states that “(…)The second biggest direct emitter is animals. Cattle and sheep in particular, produce large amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane when digesting; levels are increasing as a result of the growing demand for meat.”

Cattle“?

Cattle:

1: domesticated quadrupeds held as property or raised for use.

The word “beef” in used to describe cows as a product, as the apple dictionary defines it:

beef |bēf|
noun
1 the flesh of a cow, bull, or ox, used as food.
beef 1
• ( pl. beeves |bēvz|) Farming a cow, bull, or ox fattened for its meat.

Dictionary.com has really outdone the apple one:

1: the flesh of an adult domestic bovine (as a steer or cow) used as food2 a: an ox, cow, or bull in a full-grown or nearly full-grown state ; especially : a steer or cow fattened for food <quality Texas beeves> <a herd of good beef>

“Cattle” = “beef” –> cows –> animals. Aren’t animals a part of the planet that the fellows in Greenpeace work so hard to protect? I would be the first to say that cows should not exist at all. But they are here, and they are here because of us.

I have seen this sort of phrasing around the media, implying that, seriously, it’s the animals’ fault, and using the words “beef” and “cattle”, allows people to forget that these are live beings who, by their nature, omit methane. Under the “what can be done” section, it is written that:

“By reducing the use of fertilisers*, protecting soil and biodiversity, improving rice production and cutting demand for meat, especially in developed countries, the devastating effects of agriculture on the climate can be reversed. (…) Reduction of methane produced by rice, one of the world’s staple foods, is vital. It can be achieved by using less water and fertiliser* without sacrificing yield. And slash demand for meat.”

* The spelling here is from the original, Greenpeace article.

The sentence “By cutting demand for meat” does not imply, in any way, that the good readers of Greenpeace should now, right now, stop consuming animals. This article does not call people to reduce, or to stop eating animals. All is written in a very careful, indirect way. ‘We’re only mentioning this, not suggesting. Yeah, a “slash demand for meat” would do some good, too. FYI’.

A search for the word “cow” on the Greenpeace site, shows much anger over GE soy beans that are grown “as animal feed” and are “sneaking in” to the “regular crops”. Treating the syndrome, instead of the problem, as usual. The first search results, btw, are about “sea cows”.

Vegan sites offer much information on the relation between raising animals for food and global warming. So there was a general feeling in my mind that most people are aware of these facts and are just too stubborn in their habits to discontinue this madness, but a facebook message I got a couple of days ago reminded me that it is not so. The person wrote that he has “taken a look” at my blog and that his own personal site might interest me. The site, in Hebrew, is filled with ‘green goodies‘, suggesting canvas bags, instead of these evil plastic ones, creating art from old materials etc. etc. you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong – cleaning with vinegar is one of my favorites, but even if I’d commit myself to each and every tip on their website, it wouldn’t even begin to have the affect that simply not eating meat would. And you know what? forgetting my “organic market” basket at home and carrying everything in my overflowing bag is much more annoying than just not eating animals. Not eating meat is easy and passive. Recycling is much harder.

Another point that got on my nerves was the following sentence (translated here from Hebrew): “Every housewife will tell you…” hmmm, how 50’s.

I wrote back, suggesting he would take a better look at my articles, that his site is missing the most important information and I even sent him a few links. I haven’t heard back from him yet.

The employees of Greenpeace, who stand in the street asking for signatures or money or who knows what, are appalled when I ask them if they are vegetarian. They don’t make the connection.

It makes me wonder why must these facts stay so confidential.”With the world on the brink of runaway climate change,” they write, “millions are anxious about the effects that a warmer globe will have on our everyday lives.”

Here are the ‘Take Action’ ideas posted on the Greenpeace site:
+Become a Cyberactivist

+ Be Part of the Solar Generation

+ Volunteer in your country

+ Save energy and save the climate

+ Donate to Greenpeace

If someone would be kind enough as to send me a link to a section in the Greenpeace site, offering real information about how we can help save our planet, I’d be most delighted to post it here. I just don’t think it needs to be so hard to find.


animals, not food.

animals, not food.

 

December 29, 2008

-Of what is considered a “waste of time” when it comes to animal rights-

a little baby lamb on a farm sanctuary.How much of an animal rights organization’s budget should go on saving dogs and cats during a crisis when this money could have been spent on education, teaching children and adults how to treat animals in the first place. The catch, in my opinion, is that sometimes, help must come immediately. For example: the attacks on the south of Israel from Gaza has made many leave their homes and forsake their animals, just like in the north during the summer 2006 war and during the ‘disengagement’. These cats and dogs are often left to starve or die of thirst. Some are strays who feed on leftovers and when the shops, factories and houses are deserted, no food is left for them to feed on. Should we then come in and feed these animals? And what of the ones who are here in Tel Aviv or in the other parts of the country who are in dire need of help? And if we consider the numbers, should we spend thousands on saving hundreds or should we spend the same amount on saving millions in the food industry, by explaining to people how animals are treated in the industrial farms?

How can we find better use for the money which is donated to animal organizations?

The problem is, that many organizations receive donations because they save dogs and cats, and not because they save chickens. In this way, organizations that wish to deal with the fundamental problem of how people perceive animals, must take on other projects in order to get money in. And as they grow, they forget their initial plan, or choose to concentrate on other matters, knowing that most people prefer Fredi-A, the puppy than Fredi-B, the lamb who was just taken from his mother, to be slaughtered. Since most people can be good to some animals, as long as it doesn’t interfere ideologically with what’s on their plate. With one hand they will sign a check for Fredi-A, while with the other they will eat their goat cheese pizza (‘organic pizza made with milk from free ranged goats’), with milk taken from Fredi-B’s mother, who got impregnated only in order to lactate for people.

And that is the fundamental problem we should work on  – People who choose not to think of how a dog and a pig have the same awareness, and feel fear and pain and love. That in order to produce food (“but I can’t go vegan, I just loooooove cheese!”) we deprive them of their most basic rights.