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“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.”

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 believe that animal products are essential to a healthy diet.

I think that some people who use the “animals die in the harvesting of plants” line of reasoning are simply looking for an reason to continue consuming animals.

Bottom line:  it all comes down to daily choices.  We can either choose to consume animals that we know for a fact were killed, or we can try our best to avoid unnecessary death.

When shopping for food, we can all choose fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, herbs and spices.  We can strive to choose whole, organic, non-GMO foods.  We can avoid animal products– including, but not limited to– chickens, pigs, cows, fishes, eggs, milk and cheese.

"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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