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Posts Tagged ‘livestock’

I cried in the supermarket today…

Posted by tinako on June 1, 2015

The woman in line in front of me was buying a baby chick.

He was dead of course.

And his little mutilated body was displayed in a clear plastic casket.

I could have turned away.

But I felt that to do so would have been one more insult to the short life of this creature.

I had a chance to be the only one to meet him who had ever had a kind thought for him.

And so I stayed with him as he rode the conveyor belt.

And I thought about what his life must have been like.

Only six weeks old, he still had the peeps of a chick when he was sent to slaughter along with everyone he had ever known.

I’m so sorry, I said to him, and I cried.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Chickens are handled violently in transport.  It's common for their legs to become trapped and be ripped off.

Chickens are handled violently in transport. It’s common for their legs to become trapped and be ripped off when they’re pulled out.  (c) United Poultry Concerns

I’m grateful to the person whose car I was behind on the way home.  Her hatchback plastered with defiant vegan stickers, I bet “CHICKIDEE” would have understood.

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

Revived AR website with local bloggers

Posted by tinako on March 2, 2015

aralogo521x521I’m in the local AR group Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate N.Y.  We just re-launched our website,, with a schedule of local writers contributing to our blog a few times a week.

Check it out and subscribe by email or social media for updates.

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Posted by tinako on August 19, 2014

20140417173626-cowspiracy_posterThe movie Cowspiracy has come out.  I was so excited to learn that someone was finally asking these questions – why aren’t environmental organizations talking about livestock’s impact on the environment?  It’s such a glaring omission.  I supported the filmmakers on Indiegogo, so I received my promised DVD a few days ago.  You can look up local screenings at their web site.

The film is very well done, and I think it could have a big impact if it is put before local environmental leaders.  Two local vegan/AR organizations I’m in are going to co-host a showing.  Don’t miss it, and be sure to recommend it to your “environmentalist meat-eater” friends.

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

Surprising Speaker

Posted by tinako on July 8, 2014

The audience’s reaction is what’s interesting to me in this video about food marketing.

I’ve never seen anything like this and really wasn’t expecting her closing.  Sometimes I think surprise is the only way to get through.

Posted in Animals, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Energy Fair Tabling

Posted by tinako on June 22, 2014

Water Beef Infographic

I find that I don’t like the picture of packaged body parts on my blog.

For the 6th year in a row, I tabled at my town’s energy fair on the topic of livestock’s effect on the environment.  Here’s a post about what I say, and it includes a closeup of the main display I made for the first energy fair; this year I removed the rather confusing information about choice of car vs. choice of diet and instead put up a graphic showing how much water is used for beef.  That got some comments.

I had tried to update the pie chart on causes of Amazon deforestation but couldn’t find anything more recent than what I had, 2006.

Really, though, I barely need my display any more at this event.  Of the dozens of people I talked to, almost every one knew about the livestock/environment connection.  I’m kicking myself for not asking them where they found out, although several volunteered that it was covered in a 6-week course they took on plant based diets, offered by our vegetarian society’s co-presidents, one of whom is a doctor.  When I first put up this display at the first energy fair six years ago, not a single person knew.  Some of the people I recognize as repeat visitors, but most are finding this info somewhere else.  Great!

So my display was used as casual reference instead of an informational talk, but I also have a tableful of handouts provided by the veg society and a few I pick up at Farm Sanctuary, which has one of the only fliers on the environment issue.

I want to mention that I am aware of and considering the point made by some that to encourage people to eat less meat because it is bad for the environment is a betrayal of the animals, a betrayal of my values.  That is, I would not tell people not to eat children because their production causes greenhouse gases (or because it’s not healthy for you to eat them).  I keep this in mind.  However, it is a fact that I will not be allowed to come to this fair and talk about animal rights.  They do not allow our local AR group to table there.  I’m allowed there because they know me and while I don’t pull punches, and will talk about whatever my visitors bring up, my materials and talks keep on topic (my original pitch to the committee tied in the livestock/environment issue).  Our vegetarian society is invited to health fairs at schools and so forth to talk about health – if our argument is instead all about animal suffering, we won’t be invited back.  We reach a lot of people this way, and I see the same visitors year after year, making progress both personally and in their families.

I also hope that once people are cutting back on meat for environmental or health reasons, they will have less excuse to ignore the suffering.  I think a lot of people avert their eyes from suffering because they don’t want to change their behavior, but if the behavior is already changed, they are free to express their compassion.

These thoughts are in transition (you may see from my posts that I am thinking about AR a lot), but that’s where I am right now.

Posted in AR, Environment, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Animals, Environment, Nutrition, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Domino’s Pizza won’t kick the gestation crate habit

Posted by tinako on May 25, 2012

Grist reports on Domino’s decision to continue using the crates which Temple Grandin has likened to “asking a sow to live in an airline seat.”

Posted in Animals, AR, Social Justice | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Memo to Sierra Club: Stop Promoting Meat

Posted by tinako on April 25, 2012

[I joined the Sierra Club last year and they are asking me to renew.  This is the reply I’m sending.]

To Whom It May Concern:

I’ve been asked to renew my membership, and I’m not going to.  I thought you might like to know why.

While I was disappointed with your earlier national position supportive of the hydro-fracking that is set to cause so much trouble in my state, feeling undermined as I and other local activists worked to keep this industry at bay, I’ve been impressed otherwise with your work on a wide variety of issues.  Overall I like the Sierra Club.  We are on the same side – we recognize how crucial it is to act now to avert disaster.

However, there is one huge environmental issue on which we seem to disagree, and that is meat.  I could live with your simply ignoring this issue, like so many other environmental organizations, and you certainly do that.  I counted two articles in the latest newsletter alone (May/June 2012) on which your silence on animal products was deafening. “Water, Water Everywhere” told readers about the water impact of some items, including several which are probably not discretionary, such as tires and cement, while not mentioning beef’s and milk’s huge waste of water.  Beef and milk are 100% optional purchases, and your readers will probably make these purchasing decisions within hours.  The other article was “Fighting Climate Change With Family Planning.”  The point of the graph is to show that family planning can be as helpful as things like running cars on clean hydrogen, and is an important part of the solution.  But if the U.N. is correct that livestock causes 18% of greenhouse gases, much more than cars, why is it not listed there instead of cars?  Why did it not earn any place in this chart?

In short, I did not see a single mention of diet as any part of a problem or solution to any environmental issue in this magazine, nor do I recall seeing any in the issues I have received over the past year.

Instead, unfortunately, unbelievably, you promote meat.  I usually see meat and dairy praised on your “Enjoy the Green Life” page, and this month, “Enjoy Fast Food,” was no exception.  You didn’t take the hint when Michael Pollan refused to recommend fast food, but instead forged ahead to print “fast-food fare that environmentalists can order with a clear conscience,” as recommended by restaurauteurs with no apparent qualifications to answer this question authoritatively.  So you endorse the “burrito bowl with chicken or steak, beans, veggies, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce”?  Chipotle has terrific vegan options; did your writer calculate the impact of this meal compared to a vegan version?  How can your magazine pass this recommendation on to your readers without comment?  And what about Le Pain Quotidien’s item, consisting apparently entirely of ham, cheese, and egg?  What are you thinking?  These items are an environmental nightmare!  Organic means no pesticides or hormones were used, but says nothing about the greenhouse gases, the manure lagoons, the incredible waste of water and energy, and the breath-taking waste of feeding perfectly good food to animals so they can process it inefficiently through their guts, giving you less than you put in.  These items may be less wasteful and polluting than typical fast food, but that is an incredibly low bar to jump over.  I’m not insisting you should print attacks on these menu items, but you should not be claiming they’re guilt-free or conscience-clearing.

I recall tearing my hair out when the Sept/Oct 2011 issue arrived and I read this same column to find you promoting a single-serve microwaveable beef pot roast, telling readers it’s “Earth-Friendly” because its tray is made partly of calcium carbonate so it uses 40% less plastic and emits 55% less greenhouse gas pollution.  But they could switch their packaging from illegally-harvested mahogany crates to recycled banana leaf envelopes and it still wouldn’t change the fact that beef is the worst thing for the environment you can eat, and a single-serving frozen meal is probably one of the worst ways to eat it.  You concluded, “It’s nice to see a well-established brand make a proactive move toward a more sustainable environment.”  Are you serious?  Put something better in the calcium carbonate box.  I get that you want to reward companies that want to do the right thing, but this product is a total green-wash, and you’re using member donations to help them do it.  I subsidize beef enough through my taxes.

From Sierra Magazine

Back to the current issue, you report in “The Next Big Thing” that perhaps “summer barbeques will solve all our problems.”  After mentioning that readers might enjoy a steak this summer, you tell us, without apparent irony, that bio-scientists have found a new “sustainable fuel source:” beef.  Is there any other environmental organization or independent scientist who has studied these food issues and who believes that beef is sustainable?  I suspect Amtrack wants to use beef tallow not because it’s particularly earth-friendly to produce, but because in these times of high fuel prices it is a cheap, available byproduct, given Americans’ appetite for hamburgers.  Unfortunately, tallow is a cheap, available byproduct of an unsustainable livestock industry which is responsible for a large part of most of the environmental crises we face, from water and air pollution, energy waste, acid rain, greenhouse gases, desertification, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, loss of habitat, food-borne illnesses, and antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Did your writer take these factors into account when trumpeting the hydrocarbon and CO emissions reductions?  Magnifying all these problems by endorsing an increase in the demand for beef tallow is the opposite of what the Sierra Club should be doing.

I have been tabling at environmental and health fairs on these issues for the last five years or so, and I am heartened to see a change: people I talk to are starting to arrive at my table already somewhat aware that their diet has an impact on the environment.  But so far this change is no thanks to the Sierra Club; vegetarian organizations are fighting this battle against ignorance mostly alone.  I hope to someday read that the Sierra Club is joining, even leading the effort of encouraging people to consider how their diet affects the earth.  You don’t have to nag people to be vegan – just be upfront and accurate as you go about discussing issues which diet affects.

A first step would be to stop promoting it.  I can’t support an organization that does that.

Posted in Environment | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Wildlife Services – another reason to dislike the USDA

Posted by tinako on April 21, 2012

This morning I was preparing for tomorrow’s tabling with RAVS at the University of Rochester’s Earth Day environmental fair, and I wanted to learn more about our diet’s direct effect on wildlife, since I mention it on my display and someone asked me for details last time and I was unsure.

Specifically, I remembered Colleen Patrick-Goudreau discussing the wild animals killed by a government agency on her podcast #59, “Eating for World Peace.”

Cougar Heads, killed by USDA to protect cattle

So I found the chart where the USDA’s Wildlife Services lists the number of wild animals killed per year.  Here is the page with access to all the years (it’s the bottom chart), and here are the totals for 2011, all 36 pages of death totaling nearly 4 million wild animals killed, almost all intentionally.  Listed alphabetically for convenience, pick out your favorite animal and see how many of them Wildlife Services used your tax dollars to kill last year.

2011 highlights of intentional kills: 400 cougars, nearly 5,000 cardinals, over 10,000 crows, 535 great blue herons, almost 2,000 iguanas, 3,000 meadowlarks, 17,000 prairie dogs, 6,500 each ravens and squirrels, 7,000 vultures, 365 wolves, 288 robins, 1,200 bobcats, over 80,000 coyotes, a great horned owl, 1,700 swans, and 12 American Bullfrogs!

Then there are the unintentional kills, snaring the wrong animal because snares and cyanide mines aren’t just barbaric, providing horribly painful deaths, they also kill indiscriminately.  So, oops, by mistake our government tortured to death 418 river otters, 121 opossums, 217 peccaries (native pigs), 226 porcupines, 21 bunnies, 664 raccoons, 163 skunks,17 wild turkeys, 223 snapping turtles, and a thousand rats.

I’m not sure which is worse, the misguided deliberate violence or the pointless accidental violence.

Let’s not forget about dogs and cats. They have rows for feral dogs and cats, but none for domestic.  Does that mean that of the 1,600 cats and dogs killed (mostly intentionally), not one had a collar on?  Given this statistic, you can make up your own mind when you hear the stories that Wildlife Services is notorious for denying a trap is theirs when a pet is found in one, or covering up the deaths of pets when they find them, either by discarding the collars or burying the bodies.

Bizarre data point: They deliberately killed over one and a half million starlings, but they also killed four individuals by mistake.

I do find one thing somewhat in their favor on this chart.  Overall, they “disperse” 10 times more animals than they kill.  So as many animals as they do kill, for some kinds of animals they do a lot of non-lethal work, and killing is not their main tool.

I looked around at the USDA W.S. site for an explanation of why they were killing all these animals, but couldn’t find anything I trusted.  Then I stumbled onto a letter of complaint written by the American Society of Mammalogists which seems credible and gives some history.  This letter begins by saying they believe W.S. should be primarily concerned with invasives, and that when native species are in conflict with humans, W.S. should first try “prevention, avoidance, public education and non-lethal control,”  and methods should be verified to be useful.

Instead, with particular reference to certain native species of mammals, especially native carnivores and rodents, we see from WS a heavy and inflexible emphasis on lethal control and a lack of scientific self-assessment of the effects of WS’s lethal control programs on native mammals and ecosystems.

They go on to say that there is an obvious emphasis on killing perceived agriculture pests (confirming what one would expect from the Department of Agriculture), specifically ranchers, but also more recently the service seems to have taken on the role of killing predators such as wolves in order to increase desirable species for humans to hunt, such as elk.

Predator Defense considers this war on wildlife to be a major issue:

We’re working to eliminate Wildlife Services’ lethal and indiscriminate predator control program. It wastes millions of taxpayer dollars using methods that are ineffective, cruel, and also hazardous to humans and pets.

Check out Predator Defense’s fascinating page for more about what’s happening and why.  Another site addressing this issue is Wild Earth Guardians.

I went to look on Wikipedia’s Wildlife Services page, because often they will address both sides of controversial issues and give me new sources to look into, but it looked like the text came right from W.S.’ public relations department, with only one sentence acknowledging another side to the story, that “Wildlife damage management can engender controversy, often around the use of lethal controls.”

Wondering what other organizations think of USDA W.S., I found the following Audubon links:

I also came across the Humane Society’s Humane Wildlife Services.  If you’re in conflict with an annoying animal tenant or neighbor, HSUS gives you tips to handle the problem or select a humane wildlife control company.


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Factory Farm Ag-Gag Laws

Posted by tinako on March 23, 2012

Well, they’re back again for 2012, and this time they succeeded in Iowa.

The industry has introduced “ag-gag” bills in numerous states aimed at making whistle-blowing on factory farms essentially impossible. Some of the bills would criminalize photo-taking at factory farms, while others would make it a crime for whistle-blowers to gain employment at an agricultural operation. Some would impose unreasonable and impossible reporting requirements intended to silence potential whistle-blowers.

Who could reasonably be opposed to the truth?  What other than selfish motives can there be to hide factory farm practices?  How do these bills benefit the citizens of these states?

This HSUS link makes it easy for residents of NY and Utah to tell their state senators what they think.  And tell your friends.  Who wouldn’t be opposed to this?  The only way a bill like this can pass is if we’re asleep.

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