animal agriculture

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

BusinessWire: Eggology Becomes First Egg Products Brand “Certified Humane” By Animal Welfare Auditor, Humane Farm Animal Care

According to Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), and their partners at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Eggology egg products are humane. There you have it. No reason to go vegan, you crazy animal huggers. Animals like to be killed for trivial reasons, such as the taste of scrambled eggs.

How is anyone supposed to explain that veganism is a moral obligation when HSUS, the ASPCA and HFAC are all saying that eggs can be produced humanely? You certainly can’t do it by stating that eggs are inherently inhumane. Why? Because that “radical animal rights organization,” HSUS, and other animal lovers say they can be produced humanely; you just gotta follow some simple guidelines…

With certified humane egg products on the market, you’ll be hard-pressed to convince the average Joe that an omelette made with Eggology, Hope Acres cheese and Prather Ranch ham is bad for animals. Heck, if you subscribe to the utilitarian point of view, you may be morally obligated to eat this breakfast, since those animal exploiters brought much happiness into the world by breeding, raising and killing those animals so that Average Joe could enjoy his tasty, “humane” breakfast. 

I am so disgusted.

If you are wondering why vegans and vegetarians have gone back to eating certain animal products, wonder no longer. These folks have, unfortunately, bought into the notion that it is humane to extinguish the life of another being for the sake of profit, to utilize others as a means to our ends when it is entirely unnecessary to do so.

If there is any doubt that animal welfare activism (masquerading as animal rights activism) harms the animal rights and vegan movement(s), I should hope this would make you think about it differently. We may well end up with a few countries in which the vast majority of animal products consumed by people that can afford it are produced outside of typical factory farming conditions. 

This may mean fewer people eat animal products. It may even mean that fewer people will be eating animal products than if we saw a doubling in the number of vegans over the same time period. But animals would still be human property. Their basic, primal interest in continued existence would be negated by our desire for food that we have become accustomed to, and which many people find delicious, but which is by no means necessary for our own continued existence. Their deaths would still be unnecessary blood on our hands. It would still be unjust.
Now, seriously, you can go into vegan outreach with your game face on, because you know that it is never humane to kill another being simply for our own enjoyment, but that conversation is becoming harder and harder than ever, and it’s all because of our friends at various animal protection organizations working so hard to help animal exploiters prove that animal products can be produced humanely!
Good luck, activists. You’re gonna need it.

Yes, dairy cows are slaughtered for their meat

The main thing I find shocking about this Washington Post article on cruelty at a California slaughterhouse is that some people still think cows are not harmed in dairy production. Everything else about the story is only a surprise to people who aren’t paying attention (like those people who ask why you’re vegan and then, after a brief pause, say, “Nevermind, I don’t want to know.”)

Putting aside for a moment that so many of us have been brainwashed into believing we need to imbibe the mammary secretions of another species in order to be healthy (secretions intended for calves, not humans, mind you), there are some who justify consuming cheese and so forth because they think you don’t have to kill cows to produce milk or other dairy products.

Putting aside also that the theft of calves’ milk from their mothers is generally a very cruel and horrific experience to behold in its own right, and that the abduction of calves from their mothers after less than 72 hours is traumatizing to both parties (especially the calf, who is typically treated worse than his mother for an even shorter period of time before being killed and sold as veal)…

Putting all that aside, after a cow’s “productivity” decreases to the point that she is no longer a valued profit center (at 4-5 years, well short of her total lifespan), she is crammed into a transport truck with other cows and shipped hundreds and hundreds of miles to a place like this (video), where she is killed and chopped up into products like hamburger, so that the “producer” can squeeze every last cent out of her. When you treat living beings as things–as commodities–cruelty is not only inevitable, it is inseparable. The only way to avoid contributing to this suffering is to take the exploitation out of your own choices by going vegan.

There are, as in many cases these days, comments below the article. There you can read with incomprehension the sheer inhumanity with which some people regard nonhuman animals and, should you choose to register, weigh in with your own thoughts as to the remedy for this appalling human activity.

Update: Workers fired, plant suspended, no one questions whether it’s acceptable to exploit animals in the first place.

Seventh Generation continues greenwashing of Heifer International

The Inspired Protagonist: Why I Support Heifer…

Recently, Seventh Generation‘s blog, The Inspired Protagonist, invited me to comment on a message from Heifer International’s publicist they posted in response to my blog entry taking Seventh Generation to task for promoting the commodification of nonhuman beings as a holiday giving idea.

However, what was termed a “thoughtful rebuke” was more or less treated as something to be countered, not something to think about. I wasn’t even invited to post as a guest, but was relegated to the comments, which many visitors to the blog may never see. In fact, ever since I wrote my original post, The Inspired Protagonist seems to have been finding ways to give Heifer International a positive spin at their blog via guest posts.

It appears that Seventh Generation has some sort of arrangement with Heifer International, such that they are going out of their way to greenwash the company and justify their support of it. Obviously they wouldn’t want to officially sanction a criticism of HI’s exploitation of animals by offering me a guest post, nor would they allow anything other than the rosiest picture of HI to be portrayed, as their newest post demonstrates.

I do not want to sanction the exploitation of animals, so therefore I suppose I must no longer purchase Seventh Generation’s products, and I let them know as much in my comment following the most recent apologia for Heifer International:

While I welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Heifer International publicist’s comments at this blog, it is disappointingly clear that Seventh Generation is committed to their ongoing partnership with Heifer International (note the link under “Inspiring Actions” in the sidebar), and that any official Inspired Protagonist posts will continue to promote and support that organization rather than carefully examining how a socially and environmentally responsible corporation can help people and the environment without using animals as a means to an end.

It is also clear that I will need to stop buying Seventh Generation products until such time as I can be reassured that the company is no longer actively supporting and promoting the slave-like treatment of animals as commodities instead of the sentient beings that they are.

I hesitated before using the word slave, since I doubt anyone will support the notion that the animals are being whipped and beaten, and I have no firsthand evidence of this, but the term slave-like is meant to imply the impunity with which people bought and sold other beings. In that case it was fellow humans, in this case it is nonhuman beings that have as much of a right to freedom as any human.

As one can easily infer from my original post, I realize that many cultures around the world live in climates where animals can graze on available land that does not provide ready food for humans, while providing milk and eventually flesh for people to eat. It may well be impractical for people in those areas, particularly nomadic cultures, to try to become self-sustaining on an entirely plant-based diet, at least at first. But should we really be supporting the continued use and further degradation of lands inhospitable to humans, or should we be supporting efforts to transform those lands into fertile areas capable of bearing fruit?

Fortunately there are other companies out there providing environmentally-friendly household products that don’t appear to be actively promoting the commodification of animals, and I encourage you to purchase from them.

My response to Heifer International

Note: I tried posting this in the comments at Inspired Protagonist, but was experiencing grave technical errors that prevented me from doing so. I have modified my opening for this post to reflect that it is being posted at AAFL instead.

I’d like to thank Geoff for inviting me over to The Inspired Protagonist to chime in on Mr. White’s response to my original entry. I’d also like to thank readers who have taken the time to share their thoughts there in the comments section.

I am, frankly, a little concerned that my post may not have been well-read, but was rather reacted to as a generic critique of Heifer International. I infer this because a number of my points are either avoided or simply missed by Mr. White in formulating his response.

Anyone that takes the time to read my post can see quite plainly that a) I’m male (Hi, my name is Eric), b) I do propose alternatives, and c) I provide a link to support the contention that Heifer International is doing more to pave the way for an animal-based agriculture in the developing world than merely providing “livestock” and skills to people in need.

The reason Mr. White and I may not find common ground, despite Geoff’s request that we try to do so, is that Heifer International at its very core considers animals to be livestock, meant for our use, whereas animal rights philosophy, in finding that animals exist for their own purposes, considers the common view of animals inherently unjust.

I mentioned that this philosophy can be somewhat more problematic when advocating in developing countries, as often people square off animal rights against human rights in a false dichotomy. But Mr. White seems to have misunderstood my meaning. I never called people who believe animals are less important than humans “fanatic.” Such a view is, of course, the dominant paradigm of our time.

I merely lamented that, when attempting to espouse animal rights when humans are suffering, people who still see nonhuman animals as things instead of individuals generally argue that humans are more important than nonhumans, rather than seeing that one need not pit the two against one another. One can help humans without harming animals. My point in identifying the common (often knee-jerk) response against animal rights in this arena was to point out that, so far, this sort of third-way thinking has been sadly absent.

Unfortunately, the same mindset that pits animals against humans highlights the very same deep-seated beliefs that Heifer International espouses, namely that animals are ours do with as we please.

But the power and strength to subdue animals and bend them to our will does not make it right to do so. We are a powerful and intelligent species, it’s true. And that is why it is ever more incumbent upon us to find ways not to exploit animals, and to implement compassionate alternatives.

Beyond the philosophical reasons, there are still numerous concrete objections to the use of animals in agriculture, even at this small scale. Mr. White seems to have missed my observation that helping out at this level provides a foundation for the growth of livestock industries in these areas in the future (he’s being disingenuous if he suggests that profit-challenged industries aren’t salivating over the potential to exploit developing economies as Europe and the U.S. become less desirable places to raise and slaughter animals). In other words, contributing to Heifer International now lays the foundation for a society that views animal flesh as a commodity and, as that society grows, so will its flesh consumption, along with all the negative environmental, health, and animal issues attendant to modern “animal agriculture.”

Again, because Mr. White seems to have missed it, I also originally suggested a number of alternatives, including giving to Food for Life or VegFam and reclaiming the deserts. In fact, a number of projects have already done this quite successfully, and you can see links to just a small handful of these in my original post as well (Here’s an additional permaculture website).

Remember that, despite the fact that we may not eat exactly the same food, nonhumans drink the same water as humans, and contribute to desertification. Even in our own country the aquifers are being drained at an alarming rate, with a substantial portion of that water going to “domesticated” nonhumans and the food they eat. Why put all those resources into animals, when they are not an energy efficient source of nutrition for humans? It’s rather well known these days that the lower you eat on the “food chain,” the more efficient and sustainable your diet is.

Bearing all this in mind, I’d suggest that Heifer International promotes reliance on livestock, rather than self-reliance. That is a dangerous position to place people whom you’re trying to help become self-sufficient and to grow into a prosperous society in the long-term.

If anything, developing countries offer people that want to help an opportunity to take the lessons we’ve learned in our own cultures to help others grow in ways that are truly sustainable, from the ground up. That means not hooking them on the animal-based agriculture that–with its contributions to global warming emissions, deforestation, and competition for resources–threatens the very survival of the planet we all share.

Heat Causes Pileup of Livestock Carcasses

ABC News

I suppose this will come off as the vegan-skewed perception that it probably is, but that doesn’t make it any less true: If people didn’t eat cow flesh, then these animals wouldn’t have been bred only to die off in massive numbers due to the heat.

Of course, this registers as little more than a financial loss to mention those that own the cows, and they’ve been trying to offset their losses by dumping the carcasses on rendering plants to turn them into pet food. But even those plants are overwhelmed. Fresno county declared an emergency — its first — when a plant that handles most of its dead animals broke down, and several counties followed:

The declarations allow dead livestock to be dumped in landfills something usually outlawed because of health risks.

“But what can we do? We have to weigh the possible contamination to ground water versus piles of dead cows stinking and attracting flies,” said Phil Larson, chairman of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.

The California Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for disposing of the dead livestock allow farmers to have carcasses hauled to a landfill by licensed handlers or to compost the animals on their own property by burying them in manure, which evidently is common in other states. Mass graves…

Another county that has declared an emergency, San Joaquin is losing 120 cows per day from the heat and could lose about 2 percent of their herd this year, according to industry experts. While that’s a disturbing number of animals, bear in mind that “Hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys also have died,” and that’s the only mention they get in the article.