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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…

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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.””

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I think it’s appropriate to end this post with the core principles from 4-H:

“The 4-Hs

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)

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”  -Edward Everett Hale

Questions & Answers / Comments & Questions

[In this category of blog posts, I provide “Answers to Questions”…or I pose “Questions to Comments.” The quoted material will be actual, unedited statements directed toward me at one time or another.]

Feedlot – Dodge City, Kansas

#1…Fart In The Wind

This comment was directed at me:

“I don’t understand how anyone that is so self righteous about an ethical issue like this can continue to justify their existence in the world today. Clearly living in any part of the developed world you are contributing to the exploitation of humans and other animals without exception. Being a strict vegan hardly matters if you are worried about exploitation of living beings unless you give up all the other trappings of this modern world. If a vegan were to give it all up and live off the grid and subsist entirely on crops that grew with out aid of petro or animal fertilizer I could have some respect for their opinion and righteous indignation. Otherwise it’s just like a fart in the wind.”

My questions:

1.  Is it **self-righteous to:

  • Speak on behalf of exploited animals?
  • Bring awareness to animal exploitation?
  • State that exploiting others unnecessarily is wrong?
  • Verbalize how exploitation can be prevented/abolished?
  • Question people with difficult, but important questions?
  • Ask people to take reasonable, practical, tangible actions to help animals?
  • Advocate for positive change?

2.  Is this person trying to make a case for why I should go back to consuming animals or why he shouldn’t have to go vegan?

3.  If I can’t prevent every single instance of human or animal exploitation “without exception,” then is it pointless to make an attempt?

4.  Should I kill myself or else stop being vegan?  (Because simply by living, I consume, I use resources, and I have a negative carbon footprint on the world.)

5.  Have I ever stated that going vegan means that vegans make a zero contribution to global human/animal exploitation?  (The answer is no.)

6.  Should I give up “all the other trappings” of this modern world or else stop being vegan?

7.  Would I really gain the respect of this person if I “gave it all up, lived off the grid and subsisted entirely on crops I grew without aid of petro or animal fertilizer?”

8.  Am I really stating an “opinion” when I point out the ways that animals are exploited…or when I state that animal-free alternatives do exist…or when I verbalize that animals would rather live than die if given the choice?

9.  Is this person saying that my words are like a fart in the wind or that my impact living as a vegan is like a fart in the wind?

10.  Speaking of farts…Is this person saying that farts in the wind are insignificant? What about the collective farts of all the dairy and beef cattle in the world? Are those farts impacting global climate change?  Are cow farts just “farts in the wind?”

11.  Should it matter to me if I gain the respect of someone who makes a comment such as this one?  What do you think of this person’s comment?

**Definition:  Self-righteousness (from Wikipedia)…

“Self-righteousness (also called sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, a holier-than-thou attitudes) is a feeling of (usually) smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.

The term “self-righteous” is often considered derogatory particularly because self-righteous individuals are often thought to exhibit hypocrisy due to the belief that humans are imperfect and can therefore never be infallible.”

"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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