Posts tagged ‘vegan’

May 21, 2012

Even Nazis have mamas.

Ich bin kein Nazi, Riko kept repeating. I am not a Nazi. But his tattoos showed otherwise and above all, when he asked me, a dog-park conversation, where I’m from and I said, Tel Aviv and he didn’t know anything about Tel Aviv, so I said Israel and then he hugged me and said – ein mensch ist ein mensch – a man is a man, a sure thing for showing you’re racist. and I laughed out loud and said – obwohl ich Juden bin, ah? – even though I’m Jewish, and he said no, no I am not a Nazi.

It’s been a long time since the German railway reminded me of Concentration Camps and water was preferably served without gas. The train is now more of a romantic adventure, picturing myself traveling with a weekend suitcase and a round hat case, being served Alpen mineral water. I’ve been back in Israel for four long years, experiencing the Middle Eastern jungle. Adding to that some history studies made me look at the world in a different, less naive way, eventually leaving me no other choice by to cancel the newspaper subscription, piling up on my table, not wanting to read more news, more realities of rape, murder, corruption and general unfairness. And above all – blindness to the pain of other animals, non-human animals.  I realized more than ever that people are just monsters, no matter where they are or where they come from. It is my proof to Nilse and to myself that I am not a racist – for me all people deserve the same amount of contempt and dislike. Sure, some might be more inclined towards violence, or killing, some may be more corrupt, but at the end of the day, people are selfish, cruel animals, not deserving protection, not deserving fighting for.

On his arm, just where my grandma had been marked with a number, Riko has a Swastika. Old and sun-faded, but it’s there. And I asked what does it mean for him and Riko said Adolf Hitler and saluted to the dead Führer. And I said na ja, well I don’t like it. And he said, yeah I know, I was 14, it was against the DDR, these were hard times, you know. And I said, trozdem and asked what it means for him. He said, it means I am German. I asked, against others and he said no, not against others, people say ich bin ein Nazi Schwein, I am a Nazi pig, but I’m not. And I said Adolf Hitler murdered my family and he said yeah, Adolf Hitler was dumb, that’s why. Just dumb. And I laughed and felt sorry for that man, drunk already so early in the evening, so used up. Speaks not a word of English for the Russians toughed them all Russian. And Riko went down on his knees and took my hands in his and he had long, skinny fingers and repeated, ich bin kein Nazi. I will remove the tattoo. Versprochen. Promise. Then his phone rang and he answered hallo mama and told me she’s sick. He sounded worried and caring and I thought, even Nazis have mamas.

And he said his family were all in the SS and I thought, my family was murdered by the SS. And he said his Father sent Juden to Russia, to Stalingrad and I said it wasn’t to Russia it was to death. And he said the soldiers didn’t know, don’t blame the soldiers, the soldiers are not responsible, they did what they were told and I thought, what a cliché, and I said soldiers took my family to the forest and shot them. He said nothing.

He said no one knew what was happening. I said everyone knew and had to think of different kinds of trains and trucks, today, at this very moment, carrying different kinds of animals, to death and people, they say, we didn’t know, it’s not like that. But everyone knows. It’s easier to not believe.

And I went home to my German Nilse and locked the door, a double lock, and felt nauseated, weak. Felt afraid. As if these monsters I saw in films or read about in books, became three dimensional. Alive. That damn Swastika has so much power. Is it the movies or my family’s history that give me fear? Does the Swastika have extra strength because humans gave it more power through art and stories? So many times I have heard Israelis send each other to be burnt or gassed, sent me, a damn lefty Askenazi, Hitler should have finished the job. Is it less frightening because Israelis wouldn’t actually get up and do it, because they are not so motivated, don’t have the organizational skills that Nazis had? Just too lazy, perhaps. That’s our luck, my Mother always says about the Arabs who surround Israel and don’t necessarily like this Jewish state. That’s our luck, that they are not so.. well, efficient. I’ve seen many neo Nazis in Berlin, while living there years ago, but never really conversed with one. Not knowingly, that is. Riko asked me to marry him five or six times during that talk and said that in Merseurg you don’t meet such people like me, so eine schoene Frau, and that made me think that with all our complexities, we are such simple beings. And remember what my sister always says – that a dick is still a dick. Racist, Nazi, Xenophobic – a hard-on is still a hard-on.

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.

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.

 

April 17, 2008

– Of why we destroy X to produce Y –

My sister, who loves animals but eats them on a daily basis, has been wanting to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary. Without giving it much thought I have agreed to take part on this pilgrimage, mainly because it didn’t occur to me that she would actually follow through with this idea and be prepared to travel 30 hours by plane only to get up at 6am to feed animals. But when my beloved sister started sending me links to different websites, explaining about the everyday duties we will have at the sanctuaries, I realized that this adventure was close at hand and had to really invest some thought into it. While volunteering I would be feeding orphaned predators with cow flesh. Cows that have been raised on what were once lush jungles. It’s a known fact that the amazons are being ‘cleared off’ (another term that is used in our modern day euphemistic language: ” cleared off” instead of “cut off” or simply “destroyed“) to make space so cows can be raised for their meat, or that soy can be grown to feed ‘cattle’.

So let us consider the twisted facts for a moment: First we “clear off” land in order to raise animals for food, and by that, destroying the lives of it’s inhabitants. Then we build sanctuaries so we may protect those who were there first. Then we feed them with the same animals, which we produce, raise and kill in the place where these wild animals used to live and care for themselves. So basically:

We kill X to produce Y so we can kill Y and feed it to X.

It has already been written that many endangered species organizations have caused considerable damage to farm animals. Teaching people to care for wildlife has caused an immense gap between jungle cats and house cats, between wild boars and genetically engineered pigs. Over the last decades, we were taught that some animals, which were hunted for their exotic furs, tusks or skins are to be protected. The WWF, for instance, has educated us that some animal populations are diminishing and should be protected from the modern world, where hunting is done not with a bow or a sphere but with guns. There are many sanctuaries specializing in caring for wild animals and only some (depending on the country, of course) to protect those whom we do not only murder by the billions each year but manufacture them to become our products.

So why do we feel compassion for one and appetite for another?

One theory I managed to conjure up is simply historical: Over the years, since people have gathered berries and roots they also hunted animals. Since then they also “learned” to raise and produce animals so they will supply them of all their needs: milk, eggs, leather, fur, wool and meat. Some wild animals were in real danger of getting extinct (while others went ahead and became extinct), and people realized, eventually, that they simply must protect what is left of these species. And so, wildlife organizations sprouted, and people donated money to them and in return received personalized name and address stickers. Unfortunately, while killing white rhinos (couldn’t say that anymore for the South African elephants!) is not only illegal but considered “bad” by most, killing cows is a worldly routine.

Abandoning the Bolivian sanctuary craze I have decided to contribute my time at a place which is idealistically pure: a vegan farm sanctuary. A place where animals are given a chance to live out their lives in peace. Animals who were found dying on the way to the slaughterhouse, on the side of the road, or simply not “fit for sale” at auctions. The people at the sanctuary do not eat or use these animals in any way. Heaven. I will be volunteering at the British ‘Friend’ during the month of June.

Animal Rights organizations are relentlessly trying to show just how “cute” or “clever” farm animals are, how much they resemble “house pets”. Maybe the reason for this effort is to produce compassion. Meanwhile, wildlife organizations prefer to show us how beautiful wild animals are, how exotic and basically: sexy. With wildlife it’s not really about compassion. It’s more about respect.

Maybe, what farm animals need is respect. Respect for being live creatures who share this amazing planet with us and would rather not be born and raised only to become one’s lunch. Without the need to be “sweet” or “lovable”, but simply because they are creatures who feel pain, fear and love.

Being vegan is not about what one has to “give up”, nor is it about our own pleasures or the compassion we possess. It is about the most basic idea that no one is ours to use in any way.

My sister decided not to join me at the sanctuary, for in her own words: caring for horses and pigs is not so attractive as caring for tigers and monkeys. Many people think in this way. My cousin who journeyed with me a couple of years ago to the Gaza Strip, in order to save dogs and cats who were left by the settlers, enjoys burgers at McDonalds at any given chance. Mostly she likes the ‘Happy Meal’, which is far from being happy. Yes, it is great that she came to help, but it is complete hypocrisy to adore kittens and murder lambs. To send a check out to save lions and go out for a steak dinner. These two things simply contradict one another. If you want to save wildlife, stop taking their space: stop consuming animals who are raised on their land. It’s really that simple.