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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

“If You Care”: Unsustainable Violence in a Compostable Bag

Posted by tinako on October 14, 2015

if you careI’m speechless.

If you have a comment for If You Care, you can leave it at their web site.  Maybe you have a thought for Sierra Magazine, which ran this ad in their Nov/Dec 2015 issue.

Posted in Animals, Environment | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

Survey on using animal products

Posted by tinako on May 13, 2015

Prof. Scott Plous

Prof. Scott Plous

Wesleyan U. Social Psychology Professor Scott Plous studies people’s attitudes towards using animal products.  I’m taking his intro to social psych online course and we had to participate in this interesting survey.  I plan to read his research, but this survey shows you what the front end looks like (at least part of it – your answers determine what further questions you get, like a “Write your own adventure.”  It’s open to the public, so give it a try, help Prof Plous figure out what’s going on.

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On Smushing Bugs

Posted by tinako on March 6, 2015

16MENAGERIE-blog480I think this book excerpt from The N.Y. Times, “On Smushing Bugs,” is just beautiful.

I love his wording – a “karmic broken-window theory,” “the oubliette of the vacuum bag,” and his natural compassion tested by “the tiny black turd in my mug.”

I love the picture; this man is about to kill, but he is looking, peeking even though it is painful, and he sees.  He sees an anthropomorphic cartoon ant, but… more metaphorically, he sees himself in the ant, as the Buddha said:

All beings tremble before violence.
All love life.
All fear death.
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?  What harm can you do?

But mostly I love his humility, his questioning, his looking deeply into himself, looking for the truth no matter where it takes him, even to a cliff or dead end of choices he doesn’t want to make.

This isn’t a how-to essay, and claims only to ask questions, not answer them, so he doesn’t mention that prevention adds a choice between re-washing all your dishes every day or pulling on your executioner’s hood.

I must admit to mixed results with prevention.  But maybe we don’t need all the answers right away.  Maybe looking, within and without, is the path to figuring out how we want to be in the world.

 

Posted in Animals, AR, Buddhism | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ringling to phase out elephants by 2018

Posted by tinako on March 5, 2015

I don’t usually just repost news stories, but this one is so close to my heart and so exciting I just have to share:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/df575148221544f4adaf3bea2adbb635/apnewsbreak-ringling-bros-eliminating-elephant-acts

Mr. Feld says they’re reacting to the changing public mood.  Thank you to everyone who told him what you think of Ringling’s use of elephants.

Posted in Animals, AR | 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, arauny.org, 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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I was an Omnitarian

Posted by tinako on January 29, 2015

Gary Francione with his rescued pound puppies

Gary Francione with his rescued pound puppies

I’ve been listening to old podcasts by Gary Francione while I clean, and while I don’t agree with everything I’ve read of his, I’ve found an awful lot of sense in these audio commentaries.  One of the points he makes is to stop telling people that vegetarianism is morally better than omnivorism.

This has sunk in, and a concrete effect is that when people ask how long I’ve been vegan, I have made a personal choice to stop mentioning when I went vegetarian, which was 15 years earlier.  I’ve also removed it from any social website bios.  I had been taking credit for that 15 years, but the dairy cows and egg-laying hens are unimpressed, and I no longer want to trumpet it.

I’m vegan.  I’ve been vegan since Easter 2008, full stop.  Before that I was an omnivore.

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The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of our Food

Posted by tinako on January 17, 2015

chainI just read half of The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of our Food by Ted Genoways.  It seems well-researched, and though I personally found the history of slaughterhouse labor unions tedious, that does explain how we got the system we have.  Having read Fast Food Nation years ago, much of the material was not new to me.

I expected this book would explore the social justice issues around Big Meat, and I was hoping that would include justice for non-human animals. Halfway through, I seemed to have already passed the chapters dealing with inhumane treatment, and it became pretty clear that this author is only appalled by a factory killing 13,000 pigs a day in that it is unsafe for workers and consumers; as long as we can stop workers from beating or sodomizing the pigs (doubtful), he seems more-or-less OK with the pigs lives and deaths.  I have all compassion for the workers, both American-born and immigrant, and am grateful that their story is being told, and I greatly appreciated the paragraph that found compassion even for abusers, caught up in the system themselves. From other reviews, however, it seems as though I am justified in putting down the book, that I would read in vain for even a passing thought given to asking: Is this system not working because it’s big and fast, or because it’s inherently, *inescapably* violent.

For example, the author indicates understanding that, when you have to move a mother that has been immobilized in a cage no larger than herself for months, and she finds it difficult or painful to walk and doesn’t want to, you have to make her, and that probably means hurting her. He seems satisfied that as a result of being caught abusing pigs while moving them, the business decided to move pigs less.  So… the solution to crippling animals by not allowing them to move is: to keep them from moving even more. What he doesn’t mention is that, on top of the obvious cruelty of immobilizing an animal even longer, the pigs do have to move at least once, to the truck and off the truck to slaughter, and that is where a lot of abuse happens, for exactly the same reason: crippled, terrified pigs. But he never makes the connection that we have another choice.

I didn’t expect this to be an animal rights book, but there was no acknowledgement of this choice, and the omission was glaring. This author is subtle, and often seems to let the facts speak for themselves rather than editorializing, but while you can often infer his discomfort with certain things, there is no hint given that he is not 100% comfortable with the killing.

Violence is arguably never useful, and in this case, it’s so unnecessary, so transparently frivolous: Spam. I was hoping that a compassionate author would make this connection, and my disappointment is why I didn’t like the book.  Would you want to finish a book about injustice written by a racist?  Perhaps an investigation on how difficult life in the southern slave states was for the poor whites, a book which only seems to be bothered by slavery if there’s beating involved?  Being a non-speciesist, that’s how I felt about this book.

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

What is Speciesism?

Posted by tinako on December 8, 2014

HumanRightsCapitalism-1024x637An animal rights organization I’m in was invited to participate in a Human Rights Day program, organized by Rochester Human Rights Committee, whose website is almost as out-of-date as ours.  The program was fantastic, and very well organized.  I’d estimate 200 people attended.  And check out their event image, which totally includes animals in every way!

One of the speakers, Paola Macas Betchart, indicated she hoped to speak about Nature Rights that had been added to the national constitution of Ecuador.  Unfortunately I had to leave before she said any more about it.

Poster InjusticeI tabled, which means I sat and handed out leaflets and talked to people.  To prepare I made a poster about injustice.

I also wrote a handout about speciesism, because I couldn’t find a concise explanation that made sense to me.  I would have liked to include a cool banner image from veganism.com but I didn’t hear back from them giving me permission.  Here’s what my flyer said:


What is Speciesism?

Speciesism is discrimination against nonhuman animals based only on their species or irrelevant characteristics.

“But non-human animals are so different from us, right?”

In some ways, of course. The differences between humans and other animals mean they probably shouldn’t be given the right to vote or drive. But what about more fundamental rights, such as:

  • the right not to be property, to be exploited
  • the right not to have pain inflicted on them
  • the right to their environment and habitat

What would be the relevant criteria here? Most would say it is whether animals have their own interests, and can feel pain. What does science say about whether animals meet these criteria? It says, resoundingly:               Yes, they do.

“But animals don’t have… language, social structures, rationality, self-consciousness…”

Actually, science says many animals do. And many humans don’t (such as infants or the cognitively-impaired). So if we don’t offer rights to animals that do have these qualifications, and we don’t strip rights from humans who don’t, we are not deciding based on relevant criteria but merely favoring our own species.

And that is speciesism.

Does speciesism share any features with other biases that most people consider wrong, like racism, ageism, sexism, or heterosexism, features such as:

  • ignorance?
  • a preference for those who are like us?
  • the details considered (such as skin color) are irrelevant to the rights refused (such as freedom from slavery)?

“Wait, that can’t be right. That means we can’t use animals anymore!”

Our culture is so conditioned to think of animals as ours to use however we want, that it can be difficult at first to consider speciesism as wrong. It has always been challenging for people living in biased cultures to break free. But it is being done right now. Alongside people who are trying to eliminate racism and other biases, are people trying to eliminate speciesism, in their own lives and in their culture. Actions against all these biases complement each other, because the root is the same: ignorance about those who seem different.

“How do people avoid speciesism?”

Veganism is the first step, a moral baseline for those who reject speciesism. Veganism includes non-participation in any exploitation of animals. This and other actions we take, such as protecting habitat, supporting legal rights for animals, or reconsidering our speech, can express our respect for all our fellow creatures, and help to build a more just world.

Vegan Ethic

Veganism is a moral and ethical way of living.

It is the practice of non-cooperation and non-participation in anything that exploits nonhuman animals, humans, or the environment.

It is a moral baseline for our conduct and how we are revealed to the world.

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

Hunter Accidentally Shot in the Face

Posted by tinako on November 24, 2014

A local hunter was accidentally shot in the face on opening day here; I guess he’s going to be OK.  Some in our AR community struggled with their feelings following this news; how does it make you feel?  After about a week of online comments, I offered the following:

With understanding that it is normal and natural to have many different reactions to this news story, but that we can choose which paths to follow, I wonder if anyone would be interested in my understanding of karma, which others here have been mentioning?  If not, click delete.  Nothing here is new, just hopefully clarity on a concept that is often muddled with several meanings, and how karma can work for us.

By my understanding: Karma was originally Hindu, and that is the idea most modern people have of karma: divine justice, something (“the universe”) or someone who keeps track and evens the score.  The Buddha, who lived in Hindu India, found this unhelpful because it didn’t allow room for change.  He understood that even good people may have to suffer for their past harmful actions, but that they would be better off because of the good they were doing now (example: Angulimala) – pertinent to any of us who ever screwed up!  Anyway, Buddhist karma can be seen in two lights: One is the ripple effect, that the kind acts or speech or even “vibe/energy” we put out, affects others and has a chance of coming back to us – we are making the world a better place, and that’s the place we live, so it’s better for us.  Even if the effect is small, we are not making things worse.  I think this is pretty evidently true.  The second way Buddhist karma can be understood is that no matter what effect our acts have “out there,” they have done something to us on the way out.  For example, loving someone who hates us is better than hating them, because we will be happier filled with love than with hate.  I have found this “instant karma” to be true as well, and the effect will probably be huge, life-changing.  So you see, Buddhist karma is more like a law of nature than a faith in justice.

Celebrating accidental violence may fill us with a much-needed sense of satisfaction that the scorekeeper is on duty, but how does it impact us under the Buddhist understanding?  What do we set into the world when we express gladness at others’ misfortunes (what kind of world are we creating), and what does this Schadenfreude (harm-joy) do to us on the way out?

None of this is to say that a person struggling with feelings of joy is a bad person, just that an understanding of the harm it does to ourselves and others may be useful in letting it go.  And we can choose to be glad that the man is not hunting right now, without being glad that it’s because he was hurt.

Namaste.

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