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Our Struggle

Posted by tinako on April 17, 2014

mlkI have been reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings.  I’m doing this for several reasons: He’s one of my top four heroes, I remember being moved when I read his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in college, race relations are being highlighted this year in the newspaper and other forums, and I want to understand the history of racism, bigotry, and civil rights better, but my foremost purpose is that I want to know how the lessons of the past can be applied to the present issue of animal rights.  How can this man’s struggle to shame people into recognizing their better self help those of us today who want to bring another truth to light: speciesism is not a more logical or reasonable a position than racism.

I’m not going to explain speciesism here; I refer you to the first chapter of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation for an argument which is difficult to deny.  No, here I’d like to share some of King’s words which seem particularly suitable for scaling up, or are at least food for thought.  For example,

In their relations with Negroes, white people discovered that they had rejected the very center of their own ethical professions.  They could not face the triumph of their lesser instincts and simultaneously have peace within.  And so to gain it, they rationalized. – MLK, “Our Struggle

This resonates with a quote from Kafka, as he looked at a fish in an aquarium: “Now I can look at you in peace.  I don’t eat you any more.”  Can you hear the compassion of King’s words?  His writings are filled with compassion for those whose psyche’s are torn, a wall between their values and their actions so that impossible simultaneity is avoided.  Surely we can see this dissonance in people who say “I love animals” and “Pass the pork.”

King continues, “They argued that his inferior…position was good for him.”  King is referring to rationalizing segregation due to believing black people would not succeed if they set their sights too high, but we could just as well apply it to animals when we rationalize that animals won’t survive in big, bad nature, and so we must protect them by exploiting them on farms – it’s good for them! – this argument is taken directly from Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

White people “quickly were conditioned to believe that [segregation's] social results, which they had created, actually reflected the Negro’s innate and true nature.”  We take animals out of any sort of natural environment, separate them from their parents, deny them their most basic needs, and terrify them, and then they are called stupid when they don’t seem to understand how to get on or off a transport truck quickly.

King continues that black people, immersed in racism, came to believe they were sub-human and accepted “an uneasy peace in which the Negro was forced to accept injustice, insult, injury and exploitation.”  It is one of the few consolations in the situation of animal rights, that animals don’t know they don’t deserve this.  I’ve walked past polluted rivers and new housing developments and, sad as it makes me, I find a small relief that the displaced and injured animals don’t know about injustice, don’t know about our selfishness, don’t know it’s Man, Man, Man.

In the case of animals, they never will.  One enormous difference between the civil rights and animal rights movements is that the oppressed cannot rise up.  They are utterly helpless.  They cannot march in the streets or refuse to enter the slaughterhouse.  One by one the exploiters will have to face that triumph of their lesser instincts.  Who will help them see?  Who will open the doors?  Who will have the courage to testify for those who can’t?

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American Vegan Artist

Posted by tinako on March 21, 2014

I’m told an article about my art has appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of American Vegan.

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Say No to Animal Gifting Hunger Organizations

Posted by tinako on March 13, 2014

I have no problem recounting statistics about the environmental problems caused by livestock here in the U.S., and taking into consideration that Americans can choose to eat a healthy diet containing no animal products.  But when it comes to countries where marginal farmland and subsistence farming may make the issues more complex, I stayed out of it.

This article, “10 Reasons to Say No to Animal Gifting Hunger Organizations,” dives right in.  Have you been told their land will support nothing but grazing animals?  Have you been offered the image of cows and goats wandering around the homestead eating plants that were of no use anyway, producing free milk which is healthy and nutritious for starving people?  Find out.

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Curry Fries

Posted by tinako on February 26, 2014

001I made another recipe from Isa Does It: Baked Garlic-Curry Fries.  They were really good.  I used red potatoes instead of russet and 1/2 t garlic salt in place of garlic and salt.

With this we had Beany Burgers on Whole Wheat Buns, steamed kale with balsamic vinegar, and another marvelous salad.

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Vigil for Squirrel Massacre

Posted by tinako on February 23, 2014

Some friends and I held a silent vigil yesterday during the Holley, NY Fire Department’s “Squirrel Slam.”  Friends of Animals from NYC came to Holley again for an all-out protest, but we attended last year and some of us felt it didn’t reflect our values.  We’re on the same side when it comes to animals, but not so much when it comes to anger.  When it comes to anger, I think FoA and the hunters are on the same side.

I’m really proud that I brought this issue up in our local group and got the conversation started.  And I’m incredibly proud of our group that others agreed and we made it happen.  Sixteen of us lined a very busy corner outside Holley for an hour in gale force winds, hanging onto our yellow signs in silence.  I’d have to estimate that the number of cars we saw yesterday was 30 times what we saw the year before in the center of Holley, where most passers-by probably already knew what was going on.  Most of our signs spoke of our sorrow for the squirrels instead of protest to the hunters (pictures of squirrels, candles, hearts, paw-prints, RIP).  All of us maintained silence.

Some of us wonder whether standing holding signs is effective; I doubt it changed the minds of anyone with an already-formed opinion, and what we really need is a law, but a whole lot of people definitely know what was going on that day in the neighboring town, and that somebody cares.  I’m proud that we did that without adding our anger to the world.  I went home knowing that while we hadn’t impacted the number of squirrels killed that day, we had stood up to say small creatures matter.

There was a fair amount of beeping, whether friendly or not we couldn’t tell, and weren’t really interested – we were there to express compassion, not take a public opinion poll.  Despite the presence of an eleven-year-old girl among us, several passing gentlemen expressed their thoughts about our silent vigil via obscene gestures and shouted expletives.  But mostly no issues.

The FoA protest was later – we didn’t want to compete with it, our group promoted it, and several of our vigilers planned to attend it.  Don’t know how it went.

UPDATE – I heard from attendees that it was about 10 people including a FoA leader, apparently silent on our side, but very, very noisy counterprotesters outnumbering the protesters.  If FoA really put away the bullhorn, I wonder what prompted that – they had been very insistent with us that anger and shouting was the way to go, even frustrated that we felt otherwise.  One attendee said the other side wasn’t really nasty, just having a great time yelling what I’m sure were witty bon mots such as “tastes like chicken.”  I’m not Christian, but I can’t help thinking of the people who mocked Jesus as he suffered with the cross.  I didn’t feel that way when our side was shouting, too.  There is an echoing, enduring power in quiet suffering laid bare.

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Posted by tinako on February 11, 2014

A friend shared this short video with me.  It’s Cesar Chavez accepting an award from In Defense of Animals.

I liked Chavez’ quote, “The basis for peace is respect for all creatures.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people who exploit animals feel that they are respecting them just because they are careful and serious while they do it.

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Bad Eating Habits Start in the Womb

Posted by tinako on February 5, 2014

Great NY Times article on studies showing the lifelong effects a baby’s diet has: “changing food preferences beyond toddlerhood appears to be extremely difficult.”

Posted in Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by tinako on February 4, 2014

Dinner tonight wa001 (2)s Lentil-a-roni, microwaved broccoli with balsamic vinegar, and another delicious salad.

The lentil-a-roni has become an instant favorite.


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Killing Contests

Posted by tinako on February 4, 2014

I want to share the letter I’m writing to my NY representatives as yet another killing contest approaches in our state.  There will be another noisy protest in Holley, but some friends and I are making plans for a silent vigil nearby.


The Holley, NY “Squirrel Slam” is just around the corner, one of many killing contests in our state.  In this particular contest, run by the Holley Fire Department, tickets are sold, hunters as young as 12 years old participate, and awards are given for the heaviest squirrel and the heaviest bag of five squirrels.   Last year prizes included cash, semi-automatic rifles, and shotguns.

I was deeply moved by the inappropriateness of this event last year, so close on the heels of the Webster Fire Department murders and Newtown, in which a very young man, almost a teenager, killed children with his mother’s gun; it made me wonder what on earth the Holley Fire Department could be thinking.  I was so sickened by this contest at such an awful time that I felt compelled to stand in the center of Holley for the event, being snowed on and yelled at.  The violence and the glee and celebration around it were breathtaking.  Newtown and Webster are a year farther in the past, but this event goes on, and as a parent and a part of nature, I again feel I must stand up and say, “This is unwise.”

Killing animals for fun and prizes perpetuates a culture of violence and sends a message to children that killing is fun and life has little value.  Killing contests like this have no place in a civilized society and are an embarrassment to our state.

Please support Senate Bill #4074/Assembly Bill #03661 to ban hunting contests.

Posted in Animals | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Split Pea Soup

Posted by tinako on February 3, 2014

001Tonight we had Split Pea Soup, Coiled Light Rye Rolls, steamed kale with balsamic vinegar, and I had a delicious salad I’ve been making lately, with “Power to the Greens” mix from Trader Joe’s, cherry tomatoes, cukes, mushrooms, about a tablespoon each of sliced toasted almonds and dried cranberries, some kind of crunchy thing, in this case TJ’s Sesame Melba broken up a bit, oftentimes sliced avocado, but not today, and topped with Maple Balsamic Dressing, which takes seconds to make, has no fat, and is just perfect with the sweetness of the cranberries.

That greens mix is so delicious I eat it right out of the bag like a barbarian.

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