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My mom sent me this newspaper article in the mail. “Bringing Home the Bacon” was published in the Bend Bulletin on August 5, 2012. The short article was about Central Oregon youth auctioning off their livestock at the Deschutes County Fair.
The article sharply demonstrates how youth in 4-H are quickly taught that money has a higher value than life.
“The kids go home with a big check, more than $5000 for those who raised the biggest, most prized cattle. Most of the cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and poultry bought by local residents, businesses and civic groups will go to the slaughterhouse and find their way to the dinner table in the coming days and months.”
“Sonna said it’s a bit difficult to part with Gus after spending nearly a year raising him, but the money she’ll make out of the deal makes it a bit easier to accept.”
“I just picture him as a big check.”
I’m glad the 10 year old feels a little better with money in hand. I’d hate to see a child in pain. But, do you think she learned any lessons about trust in this transaction? Gus endured the ultimate breach of trust, for $3.90 per pound.
A 17 year old in the article said,
“You can’t look at them like a dog, like your pet. From the beginning, that’s their purpose in life — they’re just part of the food chain.”
Isn’t it sad that children are brainwashed into thinking that killing and consuming animals is an absolutely necessary part of human nutrition? I haven’t eaten animals for years. I don’t need to. And neither do you.
Like their parents before them, children grow up not ever questioning whether it’s actually justifiable to bring animals into the world, just to turn around and take their lives away a few short months or years later.
We also witness powerful evidence of speciesism:
“…some kids have a tougher time than others letting go of the animals they’ve spent months raising. Much of it depends on the animal — pigs are affectionate and reasonably easy to grow fond of…but sheep…are less intelligent and much easier to view as meat in the making.”
I must ask:
Should our moral obligation toward other living beings really hedge on arbitrary criteria like form, temperament, and intelligence? Don’t dogs, pigs, and sheep possess equal interest in avoiding harm?
Now let’s switch gears. Let’s go forward in time. Children in 4-H grow up. Listen to the words of one such 64 year-old man…
Fred Lundren is the owner and CEO of KCAA AM 1050 radio in Southern California. He is a former cattle rancher who went vegan earlier this year. His interesting interview with Bob Linden can be heard on the June 17, 2012 episode of “Go Vegan With Bob Linden.”
Fred grew up in the 4-H culture. At about 26 minutes into the podcast, Fred recounts his own childhood indoctrination by the 4-H club:
“Well, it’s supposed to teach us to use animals as a product. It’s just designed to do that, and it’s done quite well. But it had an opposite affect on me.
I was actually president of our 4-H club, and an officer in FFA. And, I got a Lone Star farmer degree in Animal Science. So I’ve been there and done that, and raised animals for a living…”
“In 1965 I raised a champion steer at the Austin Livestock Show. And, when I was leading that steer up the ramp to the trailer where it was gonna go to slaughter, it was hesitant, but I convinced it to do so. I took the halter off of it…it walked up into the trailer, and then when it got inside the trailer it turned around and belIowed at me. And that was the moment that I realized what I was doing.”
At 40 minutes:
“…For all my life, I have ignored that episode from my youth when I actually saw the animal respond to me in a knowing way. And, like most people we just block it out. We eat our BBQ, we eat our hamburgers, we eat our steaks. And, as a matter of fact, I was born and raised in what’s known as the sausage capital of Texas: Elgin. And they have 3 sausage factories there. And you can imagine how much beef I’ve eaten in my life.”
“…I had to slaughter one calf in my life…and I will never do that again.”
“When I became a vegan, something changed, not only in my metabolism, but in my way of thinking. Because about a month ago, my wife and daughter ordered a steak. And of course I ate broccoli and beans and peas and everything vegan for the evening. But, in the middle of the night I thought, “you know, I wonder”..and they had some steaks leftover, and they had it in a plastic bag, and I says, “I wonder how that would taste.” And I went to the refrigerator, I looked in the refrigerator and that steak looked like dead flesh to me. It did not look like a steak. And I thought, “My God, I need to call Bob and tell him.””
I think it’s appropriate to end this post with the core principles from 4-H:
Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four Hs in 4-H, and they are the four values members work on through fun and engaging programs.
Head – Managing, Thinking
Heart – Relating, Caring
Hands – Giving, Working
Health – Being, Living
The 4-H Pledge
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.”
(Reference: 4-H website)
In 2010, we were on our way to the Washington coast and we noticed the Blue Angels at Boeing Field during a practice session. We stopped to watch for a while. It was intense to see and hear five jets take off at once!
It’s really unfortunate that Seafair– year after year– seems to be inextricably linked with the Oh Boy! Oberto company. Why?
I discovered on the Miss Madison Unlimited Hydroplane website that:
“The Obertos’ Seattle-based meat products business is the second oldest corporate sponsor in Unlimited racing.”
In case you didn’t know…The Oberto Sausage Company has been in the business of turning sentient animals– cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys– into “jerky,” “pepperoni,” and meat “sticks” since 1918.
Here’s something really interesting (if not at all surprising):
Apparently, the Oberto Sausage Company, in partnership with The National MS Society, Greater Washington Chapter, is also “making outstanding strides towards finding a cure for MS.”
How is a sausage company doing that?
In 2009, they were a corporate sponsor for a 2-day MS Society event “to find a cure for MS.” The company provided Oberto sausages to the 10,000 walkers for lunch.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find it beyond bizarre that anyone would consider it wise to feed anyone interested in any disease’s “cure” SAUSAGES for a fundraiser lunch.
Furthermore, with respect to Multiple Sclerosis specifically, there is ample evidence that a low-fat plant-based diet is an important factor in:
- preventing the onset of MS,
- decreasing symptom severity, and
- slowing the disease’s progression.
I digress. Back to Seafair…
This post was supposed to be about the perpetual “meat pushing” that goes on in mainstream society. Seafair is a case in point: I can’t watch a simple boat race without being literally bombarded by the logo of a company that profits from unnecessarily exploiting and killing animals. (To be clear, they are only in business because people are willing to buy their products.)
Again, it seems beyond bizarre that vegans are the ones constantly being accused of “pushing” a certain kind of diet.
So, there I was watching the “Meatfair” television coverage and I noticed the Twitter feed along the bottom of the television screen. I decided to provide one of the few (if any) anti-meat messages on the television for viewers today:
By the way– here’s that blueberry ice cream, from Lick It! (Contains blueberries, coconut milk, sugar, agave nectar, non-dairy milk and vanilla bean):
Mackenzie Dierks, from Pork Checkoff:
“One of the things you touched on was a lactose source, such as whey, and its importance, and also the challenges it can create as a part of the nursery pig diet. Can you expand on that?”
Joel DeRouchery, from Kansas State University:
“Lactose is a very common nutrient that we look at to formulate into starter pig diets. Lactose is the milk sugar, so pigs really like the taste. It’s highly digestible in that transition period from the sow on into weaning. So it’s very typical we have some sort of lactose source from weaning, up until the pigs are about 25 pounds.”
“One thing that’s happened over this last portion of this year is that the lactose price has greatly increased. In fact, spray-dried whey is priced around 75 cents per pound. And if we go back historical, 4 years ago, it was 24 cents per pound.”
It seems that everyone’s getting dairy products except infant cows.
And, it seems that baby animals of various kinds are denied their own milk from their mothers.
Let’s back up a second and review Biology 101…
Cow + Pregnancy = Baby Cow
Cow Lactation = Food for Baby Cow
Pig + Pregnancy = Baby Pig
Pig Lactation = Food for Baby Pig
Human + Pregnancy = Baby Human
Human Lactation = Food for Baby Human
That’s what nature intended.
Now, a step-by-step sequence describing how humans have screwed with nature:
- Humans want Cow Lactation.
- Humans take the Food for Baby Cow from Baby Cow.
- Humans feed Baby Cow a “milk replacer.”
- Humans calculate the economic usefulness of Baby Cow in order to determine his or her ultimate fate.
- Humans want to consume lots of Pig flesh.
- Lots of Pig flesh requires lots of dead Pigs.
- Humans breed lots of Pigs in order to kill lots of Pigs in order to consume lots of Pigs.
- Humans remove baby Pig from mother Pig as early as possible.
- Humans feed baby Pig “milk replacer” from a Cow.
- Humans like to breed, kill and consume one type of animal in order to breed, kill and consume another type of animal.
- Humans like to take what is not rightly theirs to take.
- Humans have zero requirement for (non-human) animal Lactation.
- Humans learn speciesist behaviors based on societal indoctrination.
- Humans are capable of challenging social norms.
It’s time to stop disrespecting nature.
Live vegan and let’s stop the insanity!
Check out this 6/06/12 article from the “Newsroom” of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC):
NPPC is the “global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 67,000 pork producers.”
- 82.7% of sows spend some time in gestation stalls.
- 17.3% of sows spend a portion of gestation in open pens.
The survey included pork operations of 1000 or more sows. Responses were received from 70 operations, equaling 3.6 million of the nation’s 5.7 million sows.
Here is the breakdown– by size of operation– of the percentage of sows who live in “open” pens for some portion of gestation:
- 20.2% – operations with 1,000-9,999 sows.
- 18.9% – operations with 10,000-99,999 sows.
- 16.4% – operations with >100,000 sows.
It seems that the NPPC is “concerned” about “recent pronouncements by food companies that they will use only pork from operations that are gestation-stall free.”
Here are the words from NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C.:
“Today’s survey shows that these food companies obviously haven’t thought through the complexities, logistics or implications of their requests. Simply making an announcement without understanding the entire supply chain’s ability to meet these requests or the challenges involved is utterly befuddling.
“Given that few sows always are in open housing and that producers may use both individual and group housing, it would be extremely difficult and costly for the pork supply chain to sort, segregate and trace product to meet the requirements of these food companies.”
“Regardless, this issue is about giving animals the best care possible, and hog farmers like me know through years of experience that individual housing provides that best care.”
Dear Mr. Hunt,
Indeed, I do share your concern about food companies “only” using pork from operations that are gestation-stall free.
I feel your pain.
No, I feel the pigs’ pain. My concern is with food companies using pork from any animal killing operation.
So you want to discuss complexities, logistics, implications and challenges, Mr. Hunt? Fine…
- It is complex for an intelligent animal to understand why she is confined with 1000s of other animals, whether in “individual” or “group” housing.
- It is a logistical problem for a pig to implement his own escape from entrapment.
- Pigs do understand the implication of pain being inflicted upon them.
- It is challenging for a pig to live when her blood drains out of her neck.
Yes, I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how cutting up young pigs can be the end result of giving them the best care possible. I’m utterly befuddled.
So you want to discuss costs?
Pork is infinitely costly to each and every individual pig who is killed unnecessarily. (Pigs are 100% unnecessary in the human diet.)
Yes, Mr. Hunt- the costs are way too high. Why don’t you treat this time of increasing pressure as a time of opportunity? This is the perfect time for you and other producers to get out of the pig exploitation industry.
Help meet the demand for healthy, organic, non-GMO vegan foods: fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds and whole grains.
In your own words: Regardless, this issue is about giving animals the best care possible.
Animal killing cannot coexist with animal care. Sentient beings deserve moral consideration. Animals have their own interests. We need to stop exploiting the lives of others.
Highline Bar – Seattle, Washington
Do you want to tear into a BBQ Pork Sandwich, but you don’t want knives tearing into pigs?
Are you craving some cheesy gooey-ness but you care about cows?
Well…Vegan dreams DO come true!
Highline is a vegan bar/restaurant located in Seattle at 210 Broadway Avenue East. It’s a bit dark and dingy in there, and there’s nothing fancy about the place. This is a bar, after all. The menu is yummy. On a warm, sunny day, it’s nice to sip and eat from the balcony while people-watching. Funny…I always feel like I need more tattoos when I’m in this neighborhood! Here are some things we’ve ordered…
PULLED BBQ HERO – Soy-chicken, sauteed peppers & onions smothered in house made bbq sauce topped w/ coleslaw.
REUBENDER – House-made vegan pastrami w/ russian dressing, smokey provolone cheez sauce & sauerkraut on grilled rye.
FISH & CHIPS - Crispy soy-fish strips (with nori) & french fries w/ tartar & lemon. (You really must try them to believe how good they are!)
BUFFALO NUGGS WITH RANCH
PELE WRAP – Maple teriyaki tempeh w/ pineapple, spinach, cabbage, red onions, miso-sriracha aioli.
THE MELTDOWN – Vegan tuna w/ mozzarella style cheez on grilled bread.
CAPANOTA WRAP – Chunky eggplant capanota, avocado, spinach, sun-dried tomato cream cheez, and vegan cheez curds.
BEER CHEEZ SOUP
Monday, May 14, 2012
Today I was rollerblading on a paved trail near my house. The side of the path had been freshly mowed. There, I saw about 5 dead baby possums who must have been killed by the mower. There was no blood, and the bodies were intact. I think they were crushed.
Seeing them made me think about all the animals killed during the production of food crops: field mice, moles, rabbits and others, who unknowingly get in the way of the farm machinery.
Some people like to use the fact that “animals die in the harvesting of plants” as an argument to discredit a vegan’s decision to leave animals off her plate. I respond: Should I go back to eating animals because I can’t help the small mammals who meet their untimely deaths out in the farm fields?
If I can’t help it that a bird got killed by my car while driving, does it mean that I should go back to eating chickens? No. I don’t want to kill either bird: not a sparrow by accident or a chicken on purpose. I want to cause as little harm as humanly possible.
Animals who are killed for food don’t just magically grow big and plump without eating. Animals who are intentionally killed are fed plants first. The two main “animal feed” crops in animal agriculture are corn and soybeans. A high percentage are genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Animals eat plants and then people eat the animals. More animal death is caused by eating animals than by simply eating plants directly. Eat organic, non-GMO plants whenever possible.
What about “grass-fed” animals, you ask? The fact is, grass-fed livestock are rarely 100% grass-fed. Pastured livestock are raised on grassy pastures, but their diet is supplemented with grains, especially in colder climates. Pastured cows, bison, pigs, turkeys and chickens are typically at least partially grain-fed even when they’re called “free-range,” “organic,” “heirloom,” and “heritage.”
In addition, numerous animals– wild horses, badgers, black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, wolves, opossum, raccoons, skunks, beavers, nutrias, porcupines, prairie dogs, black birds, cattle egrets, and starlings– are killed for the purpose of “protecting” ranchers’ interests (i.e. their livestock, their livelihood.)
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) has been tasked to “help people resolve wildlife damage to a wide variety of resources.” (In this case, “resources” means cattle. The cattle are physically protected up until the time they are slaughtered.) Wildlife Services (WS) uses the following methods of “resolution”: poisoning, trapping, snaring, denning (denning = pouring kerosene into a den, setting fire to it, and burning young animals alive), shooting, and aerial gunning.
Back to my point.
Yes, even in the “best case scenario,” a certain percentage of animals will be killed through not so pain-free methods: Animals are hit by cars, bugs get squashed, critters are unfortunate victims of combine harvesters and lawnmowers, and animals are routinely consumed by other animals.
I highly doubt that people routinely go into grocery stores thinking– while picking up pork chops– “Well I couldn’t save that possum from being killed by the mower, so I might as well be the reason this pig had to die.”
That’s not how it works. People typically select animal products because 1) animal products taste good, 2) people are accustomed to buying animal products, and 3) people may mistakenly believe that animal products are essential to a healthy diet.
I think that people who use the “animals die in the harvesting of plants” line of reasoning are simply looking for an excuse to continue consuming animals without feeling a sense of guilt.
Bottom line: it all comes down to daily choices. We can choose to cause animals unnecessary pain and suffering or we can choose to try our best not to cause harm.
When shopping for food, we can all choose fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. We can strive to choose whole, organic, non-GMO foods. We can all avoid animal products– including, but not limited to– chickens, pigs, cows, fishes, eggs, milk and cheese.