Letter published by WaPo in re: Whole Foods rating system expose article

Nice to get one like this out there in the public eye.

Rating degrees of animal cruelty is the wrong metric

November 29

The Nov. 27 Economy & Business article “Whole Foods turkeys treated inhumanely, animal activists say,” focused on “humane” use of animals as an empirical matter (i.e., can we, practically speaking, provide humane treatment to animal property?), as do many articles on the plight of animals used for human pleasure and convenience. But it failed to question the underlying assumption that it is acceptable to use animals at all. All animals are sentient beings, self-aware and sensate, and so we are obligated to not cause them unnecessary harm. This is the opposite of exploiting them for food, clothing and entertainment, for which any number of harms are routinely inflicted for the sake of “proper” use of the animal, even in the most “humane” operations.

Once we understand that we have no moral justification for putting animals into situations in which the harms we cause them can be graded on a level of severity, we may finally begin to regard animals as members of the moral community and accord them the respect they deserve not to be used as our things in the first place. That starts by going vegan, not by purchasing animal parts highly rated by Whole Foods.

Eric Prescott, Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Airline transportation can be fatal for your pets

I’ve traveled with one of my cats before, and made sure I could take her into the plane’s cabin with me. As long as I had the right-size carrying bag for Krava, and booked her (with a fee) before anyone else did (I think they allowed up to two animals per flight), I was able to fly her to New York from Los Angeles and back with a minimal amount of concern for me and my wife. Of course, Krava didn’t love the experience, but it went a lot better than I ever expected, and she had us nearby the entire time. She enjoyed meeting my in-laws and getting to run around a real, live house for once, so I’m glad we brought her with us. The following press release sent to me earlier in the week by Brian Vincent gave me chills:

Puppy Dies Because American Airlines Denied Animal Emergency Care
San Francisco, California – For one San Francisco pet, the seemingly safe trip across the country on American Airlines proved to be fatal. “Willie,” a two-year-old English bulldog died after arrival from a cross-country flight. Terrence Ing, the owner of Willie, placed his dog under the care of American Airlines to safely transport his pet on a New York to San Francisco flight. Ing never expected Willie was not going to make the trip alive. According to Ing, an American Airlines baggage manager denied him access to Willie and had the dog relocated pending instructions from airline superiors. It was only after Ing contacted several area veterinarians that animal paramedics arrived five hours after the flight landed. By then, Willie had died. An animal paramedic who examined Willie’s body at the airport believes the dog may have survived had American Airlines provided adequate medical care. Now, Ing is taking American Airlines to court.
“I was expecting Willie’s arrival day to be one of the most joyful days of my life, since we were going to start a new life together in San Francisco. Instead, that day was one of the most traumatic and devastating days that will haunt me forever. I trusted American Airlines to take care of my baby. The airline was not prepared to handle an animal emergency and was callous, unresponsive, and insensitive throughout the ordeal,” said Ing.
According to the Air Transport Association, over 500,000 animals are transported by air each year, of which only one percent experience complications. Complications range from minor issues including unapproved kennels, lack of health certificates, and missed connections to more serious problems, such as loss, injury, or death of the animal. Most injuries to animals in transit result from mishandling by baggage personnel, severe temperature fluctuations, insufficient oxygen in cargo holds, or damage to kennels. For devoted pet lovers, even one percent is a risk worth preventing when trusting an airline to transport their pets safely.
“The Animal Welfare Act requires airlines to provide prompt veterinary care to animals they transport when the animals become sick. Since American Airlines clearly could not provide this care, it was illegal and immoral to prevent Mr. Ing from taking his dog to a vet,” said Corey Evans, an attorney with Evans & Page, who represents Mr. Ing in the lawsuit against American Airlines.
Ing says he hopes the lawsuit will make American Airlines, as well as other airlines, more responsible in transporting dearly loved pets safely. American Airlines and Continental have contributed to more than half of all pet deaths on airplanes.
Digital pics of Willie the dog, as well as media stories about pet deaths related to air transport, are available at:
To read the US Department of Transportation’s report on Willie’s death, go to the following link, then scroll down to August, 2005, then to the second report:
Ing is represented by the San Francisco law office of Evans & Page with the support of Lewis & Clark Law School’s Animal Law Clinic located in Portland, Oregon.
Terrence Ing, Plaintiff, 415-517-7551
Corey Evans, Evans & Page, 415-293-8592, 415-637-2354,

Laura Ireland Moore, National Center for Animal Law, 503-768-6849

Please do what you can to minimize the chance of injury or death for your companion animal, perhaps considering alternate arrangements for travel. Maybe a road trip would be better for you and your dog.

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A push for animal-friendly roads

It’s a few days old, but I just came across this interesting Christian Science Monitor story on the subject of road ecology:

The practice brings together transportation planners, scientists, and wildlife activists who plan new road projects to minimize impacts on animals. By using a variety of strategies – from lowered speed limits in wildlife areas to high-tech, vegetated overpasses where cameras monitor animal use – they hope to reduce the number of animals killed and improve road safety for drivers. 

Increased roadkill in national parks and on America’s roads is a serious issue. About 275,000 animal-related crashes occur each year in the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An estimated 1 million animals are killed on America’s roads each day.

Scientists and transportation planners are seeking to reverse the trend. For instance, the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University is a leader in road ecology. Tony Clevenger, who is a biologist there, recently helped design 24 vegetated wildlife crossings over 30 miles on the Transcanada Highway, which bisects Alaska’s Banff National Park. Those structures helped to cut wildlife mortality by 95 percent since the mid-1980s.

RECIPE: Sweet Polenta Pie

This recipe is from one of my favorite plant-based cookbooks, How It All Vegan, by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer:


Roasted Veggie Topping:


  • 1 med carrot, chopped
  • 1 sm zucchini, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 sm green pepper, sliced
  • 1 sm red pepper, sliced
  • 1 sm red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • .5c water
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • In a lg bowl, combine carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and garlic
  • Drizzle lightly with olive oil and mix well
  • Lay veggies out on a cookie sheet or lasagna pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned
  • Place .5c of the roasted veggies into a blender or food processor and blend with the water, tomato paste, vinegar, maple syrup, oil, basil, and tomatoes
  • Transfer this sauce and remaining roasted veggies to a medium saucepan and cook on med-high heat for 10 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Simmer on low heat

Pie crust:


  • 1c Coarse cornmeal
  • 3.5c Water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)


  • In a med bowl, whisk together the cornmeal with 1c of cold water, then set aside
  • In a med pot, bring the remaining 2.5c water to a boil
  • Once boiling, add cornmeal mixture and turn heat down to med-low
  • Add oil, salt, and pepper
  • Continuously stir mixture for about 10-15 minutes, until the mixture sticks together and becomes very stiff
  • Pour into a lightly oiled pie shell or a casserole dish
  • Let set for 5-10 minutes
  • Pour veggie topping into pie crust
  • Cut into slices

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My Native Foods Thanksgiving (in pictures)

I remembered to bring my camera with me to the Costa Mesa Native Foods. Everything was made fresh that day by chef Tanya, who was on hand to serve up her popular Native Wellington, which was very good.

Tanya Serves a Guest

The Thanksgiving Buffet

The Native Wellington
(incl. failed attempt to color-correct for the heat lamp)

Dessert: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Dessert: Vegan Cheesecake

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RECIPE: Potato Kale Bake

This is a delicious side dish, and a great way to sneak some really healthy greens into a picky eater’s diet… like mine.


  • 1 lb. white potatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • paprika, to taste
  • nutritional yeast, to taste
  • vegan margarine, like Earth Balance (optional)


  • Cut the white potatoes into chunks
  • Boil until tender, then drain and coarsely mash before setting them aside
  • In a stock pot, saute the 2-3 cloves of garlic and the onion in olive oil until tender
  • Add kale and cook covered until the greens are wilted
  • Stir the kale, onions and garlic together
  • Add this mixture to potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste, but you can probably get creative with various herbs
  • Place the potato-kale mix into a wide, shallow casserole dish
  • Top with paprika and nutritional yeast. (I also top it with some Earth Balance margarine, but that’s entirely optional)
  • Bake the mixture uncovered for about 1/2 an hour at 350 degrees, then serve.

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All beings that feel pain deserve human rights

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | All beings that feel pain deserve human rights

I would have posted this over the weekend, but my review of Vegan Freak was running a bit later than I had hoped, and I didn’t want to post anything that would detract from that.

This is a commentary from the man who coined the word “speciesism” and now discusses his philosophy of “painism” (not very catchy) for animal rights or, really, rights or interests for any thing capable of feeling pain.


…happiness is made easier by freedom from all forms of pain and suffering…

…One of the important tenets of painism (the name I give to my moral approach) is that we should concentrate upon the individual because it is the individual – not the race, the nation or the species – who does the actual suffering. For this reason, the pains and pleasures of several individuals cannot meaningfully be aggregated, as occurs in utilitarianism and most moral theories. One of the problems with the utilitarian view is that, for example, the sufferings of a gang-rape victim can be justified if the rape gives a greater sum total of pleasure to the rapists. But consciousness, surely, is bounded by the boundaries of the individual. My pain and the pain of others are thus in separate categories; you cannot add or subtract them from each other. They are worlds apart.

Without directly experiencing pains and pleasures they are not really there – we are counting merely their husks. Thus, for example, inflicting 100 units of pain on one individual is, I would argue, far worse than inflicting a single unit of pain on a thousand or a million individuals, even though the total of pain in the latter case is far greater. In any situation we should thus concern ourselves primarily with the pain of the individual who is the maximum sufferer. It does not matter, morally speaking, who or what the maximum sufferer is – whether human, non-human or machine. Pain is pain regardless of its host…

…The simple truth is that we exploit the other animals and cause them suffering because we are more powerful than they are…

…Basically, it boils down to cold logic. If we are going to care about the suffering of other humans then logically we should care about the suffering of non-humans too. It is the heartless exploiter of animals, not the animal protectionist, who is being irrational, showing a sentimental tendency to put his own species on a pedestal. We all, thank goodness, feel a natural spark of sympathy for the sufferings of others. We need to catch that spark and fan it into a fire of rational and universal compassion.

All of this has implications, of course. If we gradually bring non-humans into the same moral and legal circle as ourselves then we will not be able to exploit them as our slaves. Much progress has been made with sensible new European legislation in recent decades, but there is still a very long way to go. Some international recognition of the moral status of animals is long overdue. There are various conservation treaties, but nothing at UN level, for example, that recognises the rights, interests or welfare of the animals themselves. That must, and I believe will, change…

Well, I certainly agree with him on the “cold logic” aspect. What stops me is the headline, which might suggest the notion of equal rights with humans. This is where we run into an impasse with animal exploiters that twist this philosophy to say AR proponents believe animals should have the right to get married or drive a car, though clearly those are privileges, not rights. Animals should have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, though. Don’t you think? Read the entire comment at the linked site, above, and then you comment below!