Anyone with access to a good health food store knows it’s not difficult to find vegan baked goods. From brownies to cheesecakes, cupcakes to Twinkies (yes, it’s true), it seems as though the movement to produce vegan baked goods has taken on a life of its own… Of course, these items can be expensive and, in some areas, difficult to find. For some, it’s preferable to satisfy one’s sweet tooth with a treat made from more wholesome ingredients (such as organic oils, whole-grain flour and unrefined sweetener). As an added bonus, home-made vegan baked goods allow you to enjoy a healthy sweet treat, while not being concerned about the ecological implications of pre-packaged ‘convenience’ foods.
July 6, 2010
November 4, 2009
Image: Tempeh Teriyaki, www.GentleWorld.org
What do vegans eat? It’s a common concern, and a question that has become something of a joke amongst vegans, for the simple reasons that a) we’ve all heard it at one time or another, and b) the opportunities are endless for delicious, exciting food made of totally vegan (plant-based, cholesterol-free) ingredients.
September 15, 2009
It is wrong when animals are crowded into factories, treated like machines and killed using extremely brutal methods. It is wrong when animals are free to roam, treated kindly, and killed using relatively painless methods. It would be wrong if I treated my family pet like royalty and killed him swiftly and painlessly while he was sleeping, to cook his flesh and serve it for a Sunday meal with my family.
August 23, 2009
When we cast stones at Elizabeth Carlisle and Co, we should remember that these abuses exist as a result of something much bigger than one person taking delight in cruelty. Petland, puppy mills, slaughterhouses and other animal abuse factories exist because regular people believe they have a right to buy and own an animal’s life. As long as people maintain such a belief, our society will continue to manufacture cold-hearted killers, like Teressa Groenewald-Hagerman, Michael Vick, Sarah Palin, and most recently, Elizabeth Carlisle.
August 12, 2009
I recently received an e-mail about a new book that aims to bring attention to the subject of ‘hare coursing’, a vicious blood-sport whose innocent-sounding name belies the horrific nature of the activity.
“Hare coursing consists of terrorizing hares (better known as Jack Rabbits in North America) by setting trained and ‘blooded*’ greyhounds in pursuit of them in a large, wired-off enclosure… The so-called ‘sport’ revolves around forcing captive hares to run for their lives in the enclosures, each hare being pursued by two greyhounds.”
* Coursing clubs scour the countryside in search of hares for their baiting sessions, using large nets to capture the animals. Many hares are injured while being netted, which makes them unsuitable for coursing. These injured hares are commonly used in a training method called ‘blooding’, a viciously cruel practice in which hares and rabbits, and occasionally cats, are fed live to greyhounds to give them a taste for blood.
The above quote is an excerpt from ‘Ban Hare Coursing’, a website produced by John Fitzgerald, a free-lance journalist and writer from Ireland who authored the book, ‘Bad Hare Days’. Fitzgerald has been involved in Ireland’s anti-hare coursing movement for almost thirty years.
A review of Fitzgerald’s book contains the following excerpt:
“In Ireland the ‘humble hare’ has been the subject of great controversy. After years of an abusive sport, which resulted in its child-like death screams being heard regularly throughout Ireland, a result was achieved… But the hare’s troubles were – and are – far from over. Though it can no longer be torn apart by greyhounds, now muzzled, it can still be mauled, injured, and tossed about like a rag doll on the coursing field… The gentle hare… has now become an endangered species in Ireland, and this book reinforces its right to be protected.”
Hare coursing is not restricted to Ireland though. According to Wikipedia,
“Since 2005, hare coursing has been banned in [England] but continues elsewhere in the world as a regulated and judged, competitive sport, especially in Ireland and Spain, as well as in Russia and the Western United States… Until the 1970s, there was a dearth of scientific evidence on the welfare impact of coursing. The first thorough study was carried out in 1977–79 by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), albeit that it said that it was ‘not easy to draw conclusions from these reports'”
Not easy to draw conclusions from these reports? What reports does one need to come to the conclusion that this barbaric practice serves no necessary purpose and should be outlawed due to its cruelty alone?
“Though the dogs at official coursing events are muzzled, they still routinely kill or injure the hares. It is a regular sight to see hares being tossed into the air by the competing dogs. Because it is a brittle boned creature, the hare cannot recover from the wounds and bone breakages inflicted. At pre-coursing ‘trials’ (dress rehearsals for the official events) at which no rules apply and the public is kept away, un-muzzled greyhounds are unleashed against hares, resulting in live tug-of-war spectacles in which the animals are literally torn asunder.”
According to Fitzgerald, there are seventy-eight coursing clubs in Ireland, and approximately 10,000 hares are coursed each year. Seventy-five percent of the Irish people oppose hare coursing and want it banned, as has already occurred in Britain. However, not only does it continue, but clubs actually promote hare coursing as a ‘tourist attraction’.
As stated on the Ban Hare Coursing website, “Gamblers, greyhound owners, hunters, and other coursing fans laugh and applaud as the hares are forced to perform for their amusement.”
As horrific as this is, it is only one of many signs that indicate how horribly confused we are about what animals really are. One reader recently sent me a comment blatantly stating her belief that ‘animals are here to be used’. This is a very common attitude toward non-human animals, but as far as I’m concerned, it is the exact opposite of the truth.
I was contemplating this prejudice this morning while I was out on the deck, watching our little rescued rabbit, Poof, hopping around, doing his thing. I’m sure that wild hares are quite different to this fluffy little guy, but I imagine they’re probably pretty similar inside. Poof runs around us in circles and does twirls in the air when he’s excited. He loves his daily treats – a handful of oats puts him in absolute bliss, and a tiny spoonful of papaya-banana smoothie takes him to nirvana. Poof’s previous owners, neighbors of ours, couldn’t possibly know these things about him. If they did, perhaps they would have thought twice about taking him to the pound when they finally moved.
Our previous rabbit friend, Dapper, was rescued from a tiny cage that was hanging on a forty-five degree angle, in the middle of a junkyard. When we let him inside the house to play, Dapper used to run straight into the kitchen. Sometimes he was so excited to get to the fridge that he skated across the shiny tile floor like Bambi’s Thumper on the frozen pond.
There is no doubt in my mind that animals want and deserve not just to live, but to enjoy their lives, free from the persecution of their most vicious enemy – humans. This is not just true for Poof or Dapper, but for every rabbit and hare, as well as every other sentient being.
If animals are meant to be used by humans for any reason at all, it would only be for the purpose of our learning how to love, by learning how to see them clearly. Many people have no problem understanding this in relation to their dogs or cats, or other animals who our society considers ‘pets’. But these same people are unwilling to acknowledge that the same is true with other animals, including the ones we currently use for ‘sport’ or food.
When we insist on using animals for food, entertainment, clothing, or any other purpose, we have no choice but to keep these animals at an emotional distance. A change in diet, along with other simple lifestyle changes, makes such cold-heartedness unnecessary, and we are able to allow all animals into our circle of compassion. This makes it possible for us to see their loveable qualities, which can enrich our lives in ways that are deeply healing.
If we are simply willing to break through our prejudice and see animals as they really are, we have an opportunity to learn how to love life itself, because it is through the magnificence and mystery of our fellow animals that we can connect with the wonders of the natural world and the mysterious forces of creation that have blessed us with such wonderful friends and teachers.
I strongly believe the day will come when humankind will break through the delusion we are currently under, in relation to animals. It will happen one step at a time, with one person at a time recognizing that just like little Poof, and just like dogs and cats, all animals are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
originally published on Care2
July 4, 2009
Some readers may have seen a recent parody video produced by The Onion, that offers some important (though likely coincidental) insights into the world of human-animal relationships.
The video I am referring to is a ‘news clip’ that features the ‘parents’ of gymnast Shawn Johnson explaining their difficult decision to ‘euthanize’ Shawn with ‘a quick shot to the head’ after she suffered an injury that would have put an end to her career.
The video itself is humorous, but also very profound, as it shines a stark light on commonly-held prejudices by humans toward non-humans.
As explained by Professor Gary Francione:
“By applying the language that we hear when injured race horses are ‘put down’ in a context involving a human, we get an interesting insight into how even those who claim to ‘love’ animals often commodify them and regard them exclusively as means to our ends.”
As the video demonstrates, animals used for human entertainment are viewed as any other commodity – as expendable items, not as living beings with an interest in the preservation of their lives.
Horse racing in the United States is a 40 billion dollar business. As is the case with the animal food industry, that degree of profitability essentially makes the industry exempt from the restrictions of animal welfare laws, which exist (in theory) to protect animals from unnecessary suffering.
Despite the fact that animals are injured and killed on the race track every day, the general public seems quite happy to ignore the fact that this brutality occurs for no acceptable reason. Horse racing exists only to serve the selfish desires of people who, for some reason inconceivable to me, refuse to see that these animals are being forced to put their lives on the line, simply so humans can experience the thrill of betting and watching them race around a track. Every day, people who are otherwise kind, decent and in other ways quite civilized, have no qualms about watching animals be forced to run – literally at break-neck speed – risking their lives for human entertainment.
As stated in the New York Daily News:
“As long as mankind demands that [horses] run at high speeds under stressful conditions, horses will die at racetracks.”
Horse racing is, simply put, a socially acceptable form of animal abuse.
Although there have been a number of occurrences where the hearts of ‘fans’ around the world have been won over by injured ‘celebrity horses’, these stories, as tragic as they are, are only the tip of the iceberg. Barbaro and Eight Belles – two recent examples of high-profile animals euthanized after having their limbs broken – were but two of over a thousand horses every year in the US alone who end their lives as sacrifices on the altar of human entertainment.
In horse racing and (the even more dangerous) steeplechase jumping, injuries such as those inflicted on Barbaro and Eight Belles are not only commonplace, but moderate, compared to some of the more horrific endings to the lives of horses, as this powerful 90-second video produced by Animal Aid demonstrates.
According to a 2008 Associated Press survey,
“Thoroughbred racetracks in the U.S. reported more than three horse deaths a day last year and 5,000 since 2003, and the vast majority were put down after suffering devastating injuries on the track… Countless other deaths went unreported because of lax record keeping.”
This number does not even include horses who were killed simply because they had grown beyond the age where they were able to compete. What happens to horses who are no longer ‘useful’ for racing? For the most part, they are either sold for breeding or they are sent to slaughter for human and animal consumption. According to Gary Francione, approximately 75 percent of all racehorses end up at the slaughterhouse.
As stated on ABC News Online,
“Of the 80,000 horses shipped out of the United States to slaughter each year, horse advocates estimate 10 percent (8,000 per year) are former race horses… The most famous example may be Ferdinand, who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby, and was later slaughtered in Japan for food.”
Horses must think humans have a strange way of showing appreciation.
Laurie Lane is the New Jersey chapter president of ReRun, an organization that pays farms to rehabilitate race horses.
“I think it’s a terrible injustice,” Lane said. “Because I don’t think you’d do it to a football player that won a Super Bowl one year and hurt his shoulder the next year.”
But again, this brings us back to the initial issue, which is that when it comes to animals, our collective moral conscience is in a state of serious atrophy.
As Professor Francione articulates:
“We think that it is acceptable for us to use animals as long as we treat them ‘humanely’… As the Onion video demonstrates, we would regard that as absurd in the human context… It is only our speciesism that makes us unable to see that it is equally absurd in the animal context.”
There are a few basic rights that all animals ought to be afforded. Even the legal language of this country states that animals are entitled to live a life free from unnecessary suffering.
As Francione states in his book, ‘Introduction to Animal Rights’,
“Whatever differences we may otherwise have, we must agree that if the prohibition against unnecessary suffering is to have any meaning at all, it is morally and legally wrong to inflict suffering on animals merely for our amusement or pleasure.”
I would hope that everyone reading this would agree that this kind of cruelty in human entertainment is not ‘necessary’. I am confident that everyone would agree that experiencing broken legs, broken ankles, broken necks, broken backs and eventual death can rightly be described as ‘suffering’.
The stubborn prejudice of horse-racing apologists is summed up perfectly by one horse trainer, quoted online as saying:
“Animals don’t have a say in it, but when they get to this level, they have a pretty good deal going.”
I understand that this is referring to the care that racehorses receive while they are still valuable to their owners. Obviously, there is a lot of time that goes into keeping a prized horse fit for racing. But I think anyone would be hard-pressed to believe that there was any ‘good deal’ going for Eight Belles, Barbaro or any of the other 5000 racehorses who were killed between 2005 and 2008.
He is right about one thing, however. Not a single one of these animals had any say in it.
Originally published on Care2.com
June 26, 2009
May 12, 2009
Killing animals, in factory farms or otherwise, is an affront to the sensitive nature of the human conscience.
Imagine the impact it has when a killing is witnessed by a child (or someone of any age, for that matter) who is not desensitized to it, as those who kill have to be.
We are not blood-thirsty predators who salivate at the sight or smell of blood. We are sensitive beings with the ability to reason and to empathize with others. These attributes are what make us love and be loved by each other, yet they are repressed by a society that wants to harden us, so that we are even willing to kill each other, if the politics of the day deem it necessary.
Underneath it all, we are caring, kind people who don’t want to see others suffer.
Over the course of centuries, we have altered our body’s chemistry by consuming flesh and blood, instead of the goodness of plant foods, creating a society of people who are de-sensitized to the suffering of other creatures, who feel pain just as our dogs and cats do.
We are just as capable of altering our body’s chemistry the other way, by making actions that are motivated by humanity’s higher qualities: compassion, kindness, and mercy toward those who are powerless in our hands.
I believe that the time is now for us to make choices that will help us evolve into a community of more ethically-driven people. What that will require is a willingness to depart from our old ways of thinking and behaving towards others, including animals.
May 11, 2009
I’d like to see an end to the complaints about what animal advocates are saying to others. What’s much more important, in my opinion, is what meat-eaters are doing, to innocent animals, every time they sit down to eat.
Unfortunately, as with most (if not all) other atrocities in the world, advocating for an end to animal slavery requires us to suggest that others change their lifestyle.
Animal slavery exists because people eat animals and their products. Period. The only way it will end is if people are willing to change their habits. The only way that will happen is if they are properly educated about the sources of their ‘food’.
Isn’t advocacy for any cause an attempt to persuade others to adopt your ideals?
Wasn’t it the tireless advocacy for equality and basic rights for all people that put an end to widespread human slavery? It too, was violently opposed by those who had a personal stake in its continuation.
If the message is one of compassion, kindness and non-violence, then sharing that belief with others, and yes, even advocating for others to adopt the same belief is not something to be angrily opposed.
The animal industry, aside from inflicting horrific suffering on vast numbers of innocent creatures, is a major contributor to many of the worst problems our planet is facing, from global warming to species extinction. It also takes food out of the mouths of starving people all over the third-world.
Those who speak out about the vegan cause with the intention of abolishing animal exploitation are making a stand that is noble. The fact that we want everyone to do as we do is completely understandable. Meat eating is destroying the planet that we all share.
For more information, read another of my posts,
The Vegan Solution – An Ideal Whose Time Has Come
It is obscene that vegans and even vegetarians have to fear the catastrophic fate that meat-eaters are forcing on us all.
May 10, 2009
The animal holocaust is a horrific global crime that will eventually have to come to an end. When this happens, it will be because of the efforts of those who speak out about it and raise public awareness of the situation.
All over the world, animals are imprisoned, enslaved, tortured and killed violently, and all over the world, people go on as if this is just fine with them. Everyone is complicit in this crime, except for those who reject the products of the animal holocaust, embrace the vegan ideal, and choose a life where harming others is not an option.
While we are waiting for the vegan ideal to be accepted for what it really is – the answer to so many of our world’s biggest problems – everyone who consumes and uses the products of this industry ought to truly learn the facts, honestly examine their personal conscience and act accordingly.