Posts tagged ‘humane’

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.

April 5, 2008

– Humans are not Humane.

A  beautiful person I know encouraged me to write. When I asked what about, the answer was: ‘You know, humanity and things like that. You should just write.’ I sat down to write, and realized that the term “humanity” is too positive of a term. It brings out associations from the word “humane”. Sadly enough, there’s not much “humane” about humans.

A better word to describe this human race of ours is simply: “people”. And in any case, it’s not humanity that concerns me so, but what it does to others.

There are number of questions, which are constantly on my mind: Why do people distinguish between wild animals they observe and photograph to those they hunt? Why do people use their religious beliefs to reaffirm themselves that using animals (whether it’s for food, sacrifice or any other form of murder) is indeed the word of god? And the question of the day is: why do people differentiate between “pets” to farm animals?

I would like to believe that the love for domesticated animals, as well as compassion for the farmed ones go hand in hand. Maybe it’s a good start: first learning that cats and dogs can feel pain, fear and love, and then relating these ‘attributes’ to other animals. Because isn’t this what it’s all about: people learning to empathize with animals, come to realize that they can also feel the same feelings that people can, and by that show some compassion?

The past week I have spent in Tel Aviv, which is where I was born, partially raised in, escaped from, returned to, left again, and now longing to come back to. Tel-Avivians are very helpful when it comes to cats and dogs. It is also true that vegetarianism and veganism is much more common in Israel than many other western countries (are we a “western” country? there’s another debate), definitely more than Berlin, which is where these words are being written in. However, Israel had and still has an acute strays situation and although there are barely any stray dogs to be seen roaming around Tel Aviv, there are many stray cats, feeding from trash bins, kittens dying from eye infections and very sadly: abuse. Still, I honestly can’t think of a single person or a family that does not have a dog, a cat or both living in their apartment.

My aunt is a perfect example. Living on a ground floor in a very nice area of Jerusalem she has been feeding, caring for and giving shelter to an endless amount of cats over the years. She has also started an organization for helping stray cats in Jerusalem; their main cause is to spay and neuter strays so they don’t reproduce. But meat she eats eagerly and wants nothing to do with my veganism talks.

A short stop by an animal shelter, somewhere in the middle of Scotland’s highlands, demonstrated to me, again, just how bizarre people are: The workers get dispatched and save animals that were neglected, lost or abused. They bring them in, take care of them and hopefully find them a good adoptive family. Only one girl from the team doesn’t eat animals. Sure, the job that these people are doing is not less than angelic, but again I lose connection to reality when faced with the question of why do people make that vicious distinction between different species? How can someone save animals 8 hours a day and then go home and have a steak dinner? Sadly, I know, that the question is how can one save humans all day, like a doctor and then go home and have a steak dinner. Why save one life and take another? But on the differentiation between humans and animals I will write later on. What is so illogical is still that ultimate question of saving one animal and killing another.

<First published on March 24th 2008>

 

 

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