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On January 18, 2013, I got my second tattoo, by the lovely Savannah Beck at Mordor Tattoo.

Mordor Tattoo

Mordor Tattoo

My first tattoo was “Vegan,” on the top of my right wrist.  The second is “269,” on the inside of my left wrist.  I chose to have these vegan tattoos inscribed where they are visible to others every day of the year.  The purpose is to facilitate a dialogue with people who may be interested in veganism.  My primary motive is to help end the unnecessary exploitation and killing of non-human animals.  A secondary motive is to attract like-minded people into my circle of friendship.

Please visit the 269life website to learn more about the global 269 movement.

Here is the powerful 269 mission statement:

“The nameless, faceless victims whose bodies are used to feed us, obviously had desires and feelings before their throats were slit open with cold, calculated brutality. It’s strange, we define ourselves as a “law abiding, moral” society, and yet routinely massacre innocent beings.

The branding of the calf’s number, chosen by the industry to be “269”, is for us, an act of solidarity and immortalization. We hope to be able to raise awareness and empathy towards those, whose cries of terror and pain are only heard by steel bars and the blood stained walls of the slaughterhouses.

We are all equal in our suffering, and if humanity has any chance of surviving and evolving, we must accept that oppression of the weak – whether excused by gender, race or species – lacks any rationality and fundamental sensitivity towards those who may not cry out using our language, but feel pain no less than us.

So we ask: What will happen with the individual numbered “269”?
Is his life not more meaningful than a pointless, sanguinary practice?”

269 Tattoo

269 Tattoo

Go Vegan...for LIFE.

Go Vegan…for LIFE.

“But there are farms in this country, and more of them all the time, where animals lead very happy lives, and have one bad day.” -Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan made that statement on the February 1, 2011 Oprah episode, “Oprah and 378 Staffers Go Vegan: The One-Week Challenge.”

Since the show aired, I haven’t stopped thinking about that phrase:  One bad day.

Getting slaughtered for no good reason certainly qualifies as a bad day.

But, does Michael Pollan really believe the fantasy that animals raised and “harvested” on small farms only have one bad day?

When a heifer or cow gives birth and her baby is taken away…does that count as a bad day?  When she gets her supernumerary teats removed or her udders “flamed” (to remove udder hair) does that count as a bad day?  When a cow gets painful mastitis or laminitis, does that add more days to the “bad” column?

For “beef” cattle…Is the day of castration a bad day?  Disbudding?  Branding?  For pigs…Is the day of tooth/tusk trimming, ear tagging, tail docking, and castration a bad day?  Just because it’s “routine husbandry practice” doesn’t mean that it’s not painful.

Now– and this might be difficult, but let’s try– let’s estimate the number of “bad days” for egg laying hens, for chickens raised for meat (i.e “broilers”) and for turkeys, all within the “Certified Humane Raised & Handled” label.  You can download the actual Standards documents here.

“Certified Humane” Eggs…

  • “The Animal Care Standards for Laying Hens do not require that hens have access to range.”  (2009 Standards Manual: Egg Laying Hens)
  • Minimum stocking density requirements:  1 square foot to 1 1/2 square feet per hen.  (E 16: Stocking Density).
  • Cannibalism is a common problem for “cage-free” housing (i.e. “one big cage” instead of separate battery cages).
  • Beak trimming/tipping is permitted preventatively in “flocks that are susceptible to outbreaks of cannibalism.” (H 6: Physical alterations)
  • Other problems:  significant feather loss and fowl mite infestation.

“Certified Humane” Chickens…

How many bad days are we up to?  Or– for birds– does all this simply add up to one bad life?  Humane?

Look…let’s stop pretending that animal agriculture– of the variety that Michael Pollan likes to promote (i.e. “happy meat”)– is a “one bad day” scenario.  One can only make such a statement out of ignorance.

BUT…Even if animals only endured one bad day, I still believe that’s one bad day too many.  Why kill if it’s unnecessary?  We don’t need to eat eggs, chickens and turkeys.  We don’t need to eat pigs and cows.  We don’t need to consume milk from cows and cheese from goats or sheep.

How would you like it if someone decided to kill you?  Is that okay?  After all, you “led a good life, and it’s just one bad day.”  

I don’t see how it can be justifiable to treat animals differently than we would like ourselves treated.  Animals value their lives just like we do.  No one wants to have bad days, and certainly not bad days that can be prevented.

[You can hear Michael Pollan’s statement with your own ears by listening to Episode 46 of the Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals podcastJ.W. provides excellent commentary on that Oprah show episode.  Michael Pollan’s statement is 1 hour, 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the podcast.]

"There are those who are appalled because I am so vocal about injustice, yet I am equally appalled by their silence." Lujene Clark

“Every time you purchase animal products you pay assassins to murder sentient beings for you.”

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"My purpose is not to offend you, it is to provoke you to think." Unknown

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