Food Justice: The Real Victims

Imagine this scenario: You suddenly find yourself transported to a time or place where public stonings are legal and are a socially accepted form of capital punishment for things like adultery. I’m certain that most people who are concerned with social justice would agree that, regardless of cultural traditions, stoning someone to death for a non-violent offense is absolutely abhorrent. Now that you are in this place, imagine that a public stoning is happening in front of you, and hundreds of people are throwing stones at a woman accused of adultery. Regardless of your place in the crowd and whether or not you throw a stone, you realize it will likely not make any difference to the suffering and terror the woman is experiencing. You also recognize that you have no hope in that exact moment of getting this stoning called off.

What do you do?

Do you say, “My one stone won’t make a difference,” and join the group mentality? Or do you sense that even though your choice won’t have any effect, it would still be wrong for you participate? I believe it is clear in this scenario that we have a moral obligation NOT to participate in the stoning, and that regardless of the direct physical impact of our choice, our non-participation makes a strong statement that we reject stoning people to death. Now lets change this scenario up a little bit to discuss a social injustice that our own society currently accepts as normal.

I am a leader of the student group Advancing Animal Compassion Together, and we organize a variety of events and campaigns. Our group’s fundamental goal is to raise awareness of, and end a largely invisible injustice in society: the exploitation, domination, and use of non-human animals for human desires. This includes the use of animals for food, fabric, transportation, and entertainment. Non-human animals are sentient beings with rich emotions, who, much like us, desire to live their lives on their own terms, safe from harm and premature death. That said, I recognize that most people do not yet see using animal flesh and secretions as an injustice. For me and some other vegans on campus though, we feel like we are witnessing something akin to a legal and socially accepted stoning that no one else seems to see. When we speak up by tabling, and postering, we are simply trying to share with others what we see, and stop a culturally condoned injustice.

Over my four years at Grinnell, people have raised a number of issues regarding our efforts. Some feel that our discourse promotes food policing, harmful neoliberal rhetoric, and offensive analogies. So I want to be clear about why we do what we do. To really understand, it is important to look at this issue from the victim’s perspective–in this case, the animals that we breed, raise, confine, and kill at our whim. And yes, meat dairy and eggs all inherently involve exploitation and harm regardless of how sustainable and “humanely” they were raised and killed. We make choices for the animals we own based on how we benefit most. We dictate when they breed, when they are weaned, when they are separated from family members, and when and how they will die. So our group’s issue is not with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), but rather, with the exploitation, objectification, and property status of non-human animals. For as long as animals are chattel property, human economic and personal interests will always outweigh the animals’ interests.

Overwhelmingly, the biggest use of animals in society is for meat, dairy and eggs, so while our goal is to end all animal exploitation, our focus often goes straight to the food system. Furthermore, both as individuals and as a society, we are most invested in animal exploitation for food because so many of our daily practices and traditions are directly constructed around consuming animal flesh and secretions, and thus many people are very emotionally attached to this exploitation. This is why vegans often provide meat, dairy and egg alternatives and talk about diet so much. But I want to be clear: veganism is NOT a diet! It is an ethical principle that exploitation of non-human animals is wrong, which applies to all parts of our life–including what we eat, wear, and participate in. Diet is just the main area where every individual has a chance every day to make a statement about who they are and what they stand for.

I value a variety of different tactics and forms of activism in social justice work, including focusing on individual choices and action, as well as institutional divestment and systemic reform. I think social change results from a multitude of angles and both top-down and bottom-up approaches have their place. I find it problematic to assume that promoting personal lifestyle choices are part of a harmful neoliberal rhetoric, or that personal action has no impact on oppression in our society. Supply and demand is very real, especially for things like meat, dairy and eggs, because we literally vote with our fork three times a day. Furthermore, this “personal choice doesn’t matter” narrative only serves to absolve individuals of the personal and moral responsibility to align their actions with their values. Such rhetoric can even be harmful by disempowering many individuals by suggesting their actions cannot make a difference. However, adopting a strict vegan ethic is not just a simple boycott or mode of ethical consumption. Rather, our promotion of veganism is about making a loud, clear, personal and political statement (as with the stoning scenario) that we reject the exploitation and use of animals for reasons of culture, convenience, and palate pleasure.

While much of the organizing and current social justice work on campus is focused on building power networks and coalitions to find strategic institutional targets to address widespread systemic injustice, our group has chosen a different approach for addressing animal oppression. This is primarily because there are critically important differences between non-human animal oppression and the oppression of humans within our capitalist system. While most already regard all humans as individuals with explicit rights (which are not always respected), we still collectively view and treat animals as property. Additionally, it is entirely possible to produce plant foods and other goods without intentional exploitation, yet it is impossible to ever produce animal products without exploitation, since the products are literally made from the bodies of oppressed individuals. Under this framework it becomes clear that while divestment strategies may be more impactful in addressing things like the exploitation of undocumented human farm laborers, unless and until we create a paradigm shift where our society no longer considers animals to be property, such institutional approaches will fail to create real change for the billions of beings exploited and slaughtered for meat and dairy. Institutional and moderate reform such as divestment from CAFOs does nothing to challenge the property status of animals. So instead, we run educational and outreach campaigns such as tabling outside the dining hall to challenge the notion that animals are objects to make food and fabric from. Each and every one of us holds immense power. Encouraging and supporting individuals in adopting a vegan ethic is fundamentally what is most important. We are confident that institutional change will follow, once public perception of animals changes. For now, we are simply here as messengers speaking up on behalf of the defenseless victims whose screams are ignored.  We cannot FORCE anyone to stop supporting violence and exploitation, we are simply pointing out that consuming meat, dairy and eggs is directly forcing exploitation and violence on others. What you chose to do with this information is up to you.

So when we encourage you to go vegan or say that veganism is the social justice movement of today, that does not mean that we think racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of human discrimination are solved. It is only a recognition that we have at least come to a point with those movements where race, gender and other irrelevant criteria no longer provide a culturally condoned basis (in the U.S.) for individuals to be harmed in order to benefit those with power. However, in sharp contrast, the irrelevant criterion of species is still providing the justification for non-human animals to be harmed to benefit those with more power (humans). We need the vegan movement today to change the societal notion that that it’s okay to own and exploit beings. The root of all oppression stems from “othering” groups of individuals based on these irrelevant criteria. A true intersectional approach must recognize that speciesism* as a form of sanctioned discrimination is no different than racism or sexism. Every oppression is unique, but suffering is still suffering, and killing is killing. However, the parallels I am drawing here are between systems of oppression and the attitudes of the oppressors.

So please, think of the animals, who are individuals that don’t want to die or be ripped from family members, before you eat bacon or ice cream. And if you ever have questions, comments, concerns, or would like support in going vegan, please reach out to me personally or our group, Advancing Animal Compassion Together [aact]. We are more than happy to provide resources, answer questions, and give you our full support.

*Specieism is essentially the discrimination and exclusion of individuals from our moral community based solely on their species and whether or not they are human.

28 Comments

  1. First off, I would like to say that I do not disagree with you on your viewpoints on animal rights and veganism. I think you are very right that we as a society need to change how we approach the use of animals for the benefit of humans. However, from my experience with AAC tabling events in the past there was less of an educational aspect of your approach and more of a coercive one. For instance, one of your tabling events last year offered students the ability to make a dollar watching a video. It was not stated what the video would be, just that it related to animal rights. What the video turned out to be was clips from slaughter houses and of animals being horribly mutilated. While these images were incredibly horrible, I walked away from the instance more upset with AAC for coercing me into watching the video then making an emotional connection to the images I was seeing.

    In addition, I think that the approach of fighting for animal rights solely from the perspective of compassion and speciesm is a method that has always struggled to find footing in normative society (just look at PETA). I, for one, would respond more enthusiastically to a campaign that both talked about the rights of animals and the environmental benefits of veganism, as well as provided nutritional resources that provided me with the knowledge and framework that would allow for a healthy vegan diet.

    • 2015 Alumni: Thank you for caring about this issue. I’m sorry if you felt coerced and that you missed seeing the graphic content warning at the begining of the video two years ago. However, for a multitude of reasons we have chosen not to use that video approach since then.

      We have always provided a variety of educational resources including nutritional information and environmental benefits, and this year we even provided samples of vegan dairy alternatives. You are welcome to email us if you have specific questions or concerns about veganism and how to make the transition.

  2. PETA’s lack of acceptance in “normative” society can hardly be considered as evidence that a strategy based upon educating about compassion and speciesism is ineffective. Even within the vegan community, PETA is shunned by many. Their campaigns that seek to help animals, while encouraging patriarchy/objectification of females (“I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”) and other things they do that reinforce harmful perspectives are inconsistent with the spirit of veganism. On the other hand — The story of Black Beauty stands as an example of the message of compassion, all by itself, having a powerful impact on society.

  3. I have concerns about your dedication to anti-speciesism on two fronts. First of all, consider the classic trolley problem: a train is speeding towards a fork in its track, and on each side sits either a human or, say, a pig. If animals are genuinely as morally important as humans, then it should not matter which track the train goes down, just as race and gender would not matter, morally speaking, were there different humans on both sides of the the fork. However, I find it unlikely that you are willing enough to commit to your convictions and argue that you wouldn’t prioritize the human’s life over an animal’s. Now, perhaps non-human animals are still less morally valuable than humans, but still worthy of some consideration. In that case, what is the ratio? Is there some number of pigs whose lives would have to be put in danger before it would become reasonable to kill one human to save them?

    Secondly, which animals are worthy of consideration? Is moral worth based on some level of consciousness or intelligence? From your promotional materials, it seems that you are primarily concerned with “cute” animals, but that may not reflect your actual belief system. Should we avoid killing fruit flies and mosquitoes? What about mollusks? No vegan I know would eat clams, but most would willingly kill an annoying bug, which arguably has a higher level of intelligence. Anthropomorphic appeals to emotion about animals not wanting to be taken from their families aside, what is the cutoff between organisms that are okay to kill and organisms that are not? Species of plants have been known to perform surprisingly complex interactions, even warning each other of danger. Should they be granted moral consideration too? What about pesticides that, while increasing yield, allowing more people to eat vegan diets, kill large number of insects? Is it okay to kill bugs as long as we don’t eat them?

    I have tremendous sympathy for vegan causes on, for example, environmental fronts. But I am wholly unconvinced by the anthropomorphic “you make the mama cows sad when you take away their babies” rhetoric. The claim that non-human animals should be granted moral weight is also a potentially interesting one, but it is never followed through to its logical conclusions, nor subjected to any philosophical rigor. The meat-eating approach is at least self-consistent: people are worthy of moral consideration; non-humans are not. For this approach to have any ethical validity, you must be precise: which organisms “matter,” why do they matter and others don’t, and how much are they “worth” in comparison to each other?

    And as a side note, direct comparisons to genuine human-rights abuses such as slavery and genocide are unacceptable, undermine your cause, and need to stop.

    • You are sending this all through an intellectual maze. When we look at it through compassionate eyes and heart to see the individuals whose lives we are affecting, we don’t need to analyze too much to know that they do indeed suffer. Yours is a very all or nothing argument. No vegan I know causes harm needlessly. So your insect analogy doesn’t hold up. We recognize that every living organism causes some harm just by needing to stay alive. But, what we strive for is to cause the least harm possible and to take the individual’s life into consideration when making choices. Your arguments are very reminiscent of the arguments for human slavery.

      • Okay, I’m sorry, but their arguments are really not reminiscent of the arguments for human slavery at all… You’re using that buzzword to distract from the fact that you literally addressed 0 of the many arguments that 2016 just directed at you. I understand that empathy and compassion are extremely valuable traits, but if you’re going to accuse people of being just as bad as homophobes/racists/etc., you *need* to be able to back it up and not just wield your feelings as a cudgel.

    • 2016: Let’s take a closer look at your trolley problem. If there were humans on both sides of the track and one of them was a close friend, while the other was a completely random person you had never met, I find it hard to believe that you would be willing to commit to your convictions and argue that you wouldn’t chose the life of your friend over the random person. This is similar to the classic “stuck on a desert island” situation. People may do extreme things in extreme situations (such as killing and eating a human as a last resort when stranded on an island), but how someone WOULD behave when faced with such a situation tells us little about how they SHOULD behave. Just because we might chose our friend over the random person doesn’t mean it is suddenly morally acceptable to kill people we don’t know, in other situations. This whole trolley problem is really irrelevant to the discussion of whether or not we should eat animal flesh and secretions though, because those of us having this conversation are not facing such a conflict.

      I would also ask those of you who feel that you are being morally consistent, what is it about being human that means we should automatically be given greater moral consideration? There are plenty of examples of some individual animals that have higher measureable levels of inteligence than some humans, and likewise with emotions.

      But lets refocus the issue on the victims. I have known individuals of other species like cows, pigs, and chickens, and it is plainly obvious that they are sentient like me. Science also shows that we have similar nervous systems, hormal systems, and emotional bonds with others.

      If you agree that it’s wrong to hurt animals that have these capacities unnecessarily (i.e.. it would be wrong for me to kick/beat a dog just because I wanted to), since we CAN live happy and healthy lives eating only plants, doing otherwise means we are contributing to UNECESSARY violence and exploitation of animals who indisputably DO feel pain, suffering, and deep emotions. Going vegan is easier today than ever before, and it’s the only option if you agree that it’s wrong to hurt animals unnecessarily.

      I also think it’s worth asking why you feel the need to spend so much energy trying to undermine a perspective that simply seeks to extend compassion to those we see as different

  4. “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. It’s disappointingly predictable to see how tightly humans cling to perceived comfort. Any threat to a common practice is suspect, and instead time is wasted by taking things to improbable extremes and creating “deserted island” scenarios. Many humans are threatened by personal responsibility and neglect to see the empowerment within conscious choice. Your stone analogy is a good one, and I hope readers allow to sink in. It’s time to claim the privilege of compassionate choice that’s available to many of us three times a day—at the ends of our forks. Thank you for a thoughtful article, Sarina.

  6. wow-these comments are really very sad and telling.

    people more upset at having watched horrible torture and slaughter than at the torture and slaughter itself.

    people who believe that PETA represents what animal rights and veganism are all about.

    people who make up straw man thought experiments in order to attempt to defend the obscene abuse and murder which they so willingly support.

    people who bring up their concern for plants and insects (perhaps unaware that if one is truly concerened about plants and insects, they also must be vegan as the FAR few plants and insects would be harmed if humans at plants directly rather than filtering the nutrients through the bodies of farmed animals).

    people who are uspet about the all too accurate comparisons between atrocities against human animals such as the Jewish Holocaust and human slavery and the arocitites against non-human animals-even though it was many of those who lived through the Holocaust who first made the connection (for example “In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” ― Isaac Bashevis Singer and  “Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.” -Theodor W. Adorno). it is no accident that the two countries where veganism has really taken off in the past few years are Germany and Israel.

    it really is very simple. if a being is sentient, humans have no moral or ethical justification for treating them as property and as means to our own ends. if you would not wish to experience something yourself, it is NEVER humane or justifable to force others to experience it-especially not in the name of a trival and selfish momentary taste sensation. the Golden Rule which is the basis for all morals clearly states this. it is only the extreme prejudices of species and human exceptionalism which allow this kind of unaware, uninformed, illogical rhetoric. it is clear that if the people writing these statements were the vicitms of violence and exploitation themselves rather than the all too willing perpetrators, they would have a very different perspective on things.

    “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” – Albert Einstein

  7. I agree wholeheartedly with the moral argument against using animals for human convenience and habit. This essay is well reasoned and reflects the viewpoint of many ethical vegans. Knowing about abuse and slaughter of innocent beings and doing nothing is not acceptable to me. If it’s hard to watch we mustn’t turn away but change the paradigm.

  8. What convolutions some people will go through to keep on eating animal flesh – rather than admitting that, yes, current agricultural practices are cruel, damaging to the environment and promote world hunger, thus they ought to at least consider alternatives – they need to “make the messenger the one who is wrong”.

  9. “It’s troubling when people get upset with vegans for pointing out the suffering, rather than getting upset with themselves for causing it.” ~ Jo Tyler

    “If you don’t like seeing pictures of violence towards animals, you need to help stop the violence, not the pictures.” – Johnny Depp

    A well-written article to open minds and hearts, Sarina. Thank you!

    Pushback reactions to your educational efforts on campus and in response to your article here are reflective of ages-old entitlement beliefs we’ve been heavily indoctrinated with since birth and rarely, if ever, question. Intellectualizing is one of the most common defense mechanisms when entitlement beliefs are challenged.

    So it’s really quite clear that whenever the topic of an animal’s supposed “lesser” life value — to itself and others — is put on the table for scrutiny and intellectual debate, what we are really witnessing is a human’s veiled attempt at justifying their continuation of harming animals for their pleasure, habit, convenience, or ritual. Entitlement beliefs die hard. But die they must.

    It is not our place to assign value or worth to another’s life (… though we have a bad habit of wanting to do just that). We are ill-equipped to be fair and accurate in this endeavor. Isn’t our place, rather, to seek and find out how to live peaceably and in cooperation with the others whom we share this planet with? Our domination “might makes right” beliefs have left a long, shameful trail of blood, tears, and misery. Wouldn’t keeping The Golden Rule — extending it to others both similar and vastly different from us — be the best place to start? This is where authentic veganism goes.

    “Being vegan is easy. Are there social pressures that encourage you to continue to eat, wear, and use animal products? Of course there are. But in a patriarchal, racist, homophobic, and ableist society, there are social pressures to participate and engage in sexism, racism, homophobia, and ableism. At some point, you have to decide who you are and what matters morally to you. And once you decide that you regard victimizing vulnerable nonhumans is not morally acceptable, it is easy to go and stay vegan.” ~ Gary L. Francione

  10. Something to consider from Dr. Will Tuttle, author of the World Peace Diet —

    “When we come to this earth, we find ourselves in a culture that is at its very core organized around confining and killing animals for food. We are forced virtually from birth to look at beings as mere commodities and to treat them as such by eating them in the most powerful daily rituals we engage in: our meals.
    All cultures naturally propagate themselves through their various institutions, and ours is no different. Our scientific, religious, governmental, educational, and economic institutions all reflect the same underlying mentality and reinforce it, which is why veganism is so strenuously resisted, and also why it is so urgently needed as well. Fortunately, as we awaken and stop disconnecting from the suffering we cause others by our choices, we resensitize ourselves and begin to be a force for kindness and respect that can impact others, and we can work through our culture’s institutions to raise consciousness and spread the light of inclusiveness. The more clearly the inner light shines in us, the more clearly we can shine it into the world.

    We must, if this process is actually happening in us, be drawn toward veganism, and it is in no way a limitation on us, but the harmonious fulfillment of our own inner seeing.”

  11. I appreciate your article because it puts into words the feelings I have as an animal rights activist. I try to create awareness of the atrocities committed on animals every chance I get. I have been vegan only 3 years so I am still very aware of my own resistance to change.

  12. See The World Through Vegan Eyes

    March 24, 2016 at 11:43 AM

    To those of you who disagree with this post — would you be willing to watch this six minute video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbwhS7HSOAw

    And post your response to it here?

  13. Whoooo boy. A response article is in the works… I think comparing non-veganism to homophobia, racism, stone-throwing, and *slave-holding*, of all things, is completely unconscionable. AACT equates dairy cows with rape victims on their Facebook page. I don’t want to get confrontational, but I’m honestly really disappointed and more than a little angry.

  14. Victoria Hart

    April 3, 2016 at 9:20 PM

    To Olivia Q —
    With all due respect, I want to address your comment —

    It seems that your objections have more to do with believing human animals are superior to other animals we share the planet with, which gives us free reign to use them as we please. Who first told you this idea of human superiority and dominion rights… and why did you believe them, without challenge?

    I also wonder: If you don’t consider the animals to be slaves, then what are they? Free?

    You disapprove of comparing non-veganism to homophobia. The comparison is a fair one when you consider the reason why the word “queer” came to be associated with homophobia (first recorded in 1922). Etymologically, “queer” meant odd, something off-center/oblique. We’ve been taught to view non-human animals as odd and off-center (i.e. they don’t look/act like us and stand upright as we do); they are queer to us. That view can easily bring with it all kinds of injustices, prejudices, and biases, as is the case with the pampering of our beloved “pets” versus the scorning of insects or cold indifference to “food” animals. So too, this is what fuels homophobia. While authentic veganism challenges speciest thinking and the ugly prejudices that come with it, non-vegans hold on to those things, most often because of fear. Fear of the queer. Phobias are fears. Homophobia literally means “fear of someone who is not like you”. In general, humans can be persuaded to treat others who aren’t like them poorly; indoctrination is a common way of achieving this. It’s how we are able to both commit genocide and victimize animals by the masses, so readily and without guilt.

  15. Victoria Hart

    April 3, 2016 at 9:38 PM

    (Continued)

    Let’s look at sexism. The exploitation and violence done to so-called “food” animals based on their gender is widespread and standard in the industry. Perhaps this is most apparent in the dairy and egg industry. Female cows are exploited for their milk meant for their babies. Egg-laying female hens are exploited for their egg production. The male chicks are viewed as having no use in the egg-laying industry since they can’t lay eggs and bring a profit to the business; they are suffocated or ground alive shortly after their birth. (Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ5qAfyUuWE.) If you consume animals and their secretions, you are supporting sexism. Do your homework here! Ask anyone at aact to suggest a video, literature, or other resource that gives details on this topic. Or start here: http://www.satyamag.com/jan05/jones.html

  16. Victoria Hart

    April 3, 2016 at 9:40 PM

    (Continued) —

    Female animals are sexual assaulted when forced to be artificially inseminated by humans. Oftentimes it is brutal beyond words. Non-human males are forced to ejaculate semen by being sexually handled by humans in one way or another. (Think of the traditional table centerpiece at Thanksgiving that features a dead, dismembered turkey. While giving thanks, you can mention the male “tom” turkeys who were forcibly masturbated to procure semen needed for the forcible impregnation of female turkeys.) I’m asking you to use critical thinking skills here. What is rape, exactly? Ask yourself: Should the definition stand solid — or mutate according to the scenario, taking into consideration the victims involved? For instance, is the rape of a small child in a nursery worse than the rape of a handicapped, mentally challenged elderly woman in a nursing home? Isn’t rape a matter of degrees, with the definition standing firm? Do you believe that a human cannot rape an animal? Olivia, since you seem to find the term “rape” erroneous (when applied to dairy slaves, as you mentioned), please tell me what nonsensical euphemism you’d like to call this behavior, just so you remain comfortable with the reality of it. Humans who commit sexual assault upon an unwilling victim — whether human or non-human — do so with the end result being pleasure or self-gratification. Well, that most certainly describes what goes on with so-called “food” animals whom humans exploit, holding them captive and sexually assaulting them for the end result of pleasure and self-gratification which is, quite simply and frankly, what’s on their plate; the flesh, eggs, and milk products humans steal and consume. If we don’t sexually assault the animals directly to get those things, we’ll pay others to do it for us, with the end result of pleasure and self-gratification being the same.

  17. Victoria Hart

    April 3, 2016 at 9:46 PM

    (Continued) —

    I am looking forward to reading that response article you refer to, Olivia, as I’m certain it will include justifications that extol the virtues of (and thus further encourage) our continued use, exploitation, and harm of animals — in the name of our self-assigned superiority, self-interest, and entitlement, of course. People who are convinced of their superiority and privilege over other species look for reasons to “keep the animals in their place”, not wanting to have their rights challenged, threatened, lessened, or taken away. Even when those rights are actually WRONGS. I wonder — does the phrase “keep the animals in their place” sound familiar to you at all, as you consider the pages of history? It should. Think on that for a bit.

    If you’re going to get angry, why not choose, rather, to get angry at the fact that otherwise “good” people do horrific things to animals and call it okay? Otherwise “good” people exploit and harm animals by the masses, every minute of every day, with ALL of it being needless and for their own pleasure, habit, or convenience. Oh, if only you’d choose to get angry at that! Then you might take immediate steps to right a terrible wrong, starting with the food choices you make. This is what I hope you will arrive at…, and I will be cheering you on.

  18. Victoria Hart

    April 4, 2016 at 4:36 PM

    (Added notes) —

    Let’s look at sexism (as it relates to animal exploitation) for a moment, Olivia Q. The exploitation and violence done to so-called “food” animals based on their gender is widespread and standard practice. Perhaps this is most apparent in the dairy and egg industry. Female cows are exploited for their milk meant for their babies. Egg-laying female hens are exploited for their egg production. The male chicks, having no use in the industry since they can’t lay eggs and bring a profit to the business, are suffocated or ground alive shortly after their birth. (Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ5qAfyUuWE.) If you consume animals and their secretions, you are supporting sexism. Do your homework here! Ask anyone at aact to suggest a video, literature, or other resource that gives details on this topic. (Or start here: http://www.satyamag.com/jan05/jones.html.)

    I also want to take opportunity to correct something I wrote earlier in this comment thread (in the paragraph where I mentioned “tom” turkeys). I meant to write:

    (Think of the traditional table centerpiece at Thanksgiving that features a dead, dismembered turkey. While giving thanks at dinner, you can mention the male “tom” turkeys who can no longer mount and breed naturally, thanks to a larger chest mass resulting from genetic manipulations we’ve forced on them. You can thank the male turkeys who were restrained and sexually stimulated by force (usually by two workers — an “operator” and a “milker”) so as to procure semen needed for the forcible impregnation of female turkeys. You can read the semen collection procedure here: http://www.hybridturkeys.com/en/Hybrid%20Resources/~/media/Files/Hybrid/Hybrid%20Library/Management/Semen%20Collection1.ashx)

    Thank you.

  19. I’d just like to point out that a response article has been published as of this morning.

  20. Freenelsonmandela

    April 11, 2016 at 6:40 PM

    Is this article a joke?

  21. I wonder how the author and their cronies are going to educate and convince non-human animals to not consume other non-human animals

    • Hi Jimmy.
      I think it’s a safe bet to say that comments such as yours are meant to direct attention away from the part the commenter plays in upholding injustice and defending the harming of animals for pleasure rather than actual need. It’s a very common reaction that animal advocates see. In contrast, I doubt you’d direct an equally absurd comment to activists speaking out against racism, sexism, rape, and other human-centered injustices. Or would you?

      In matters of addressing and correcting moral wrongs, a person of good judgement would know that focusing on the most URGENT need is the best place to start. That said, Sarina Farb (and aact in general) rightfully puts the focus TODAY on what is MOST URGENT, calling out human animals who are convinced they MUST dominate, exploit, and kill to survive… but are failing to seriously examine both the roots of their belief system and the consequences of their actions reflecting that belief. Simply put, flesh eaters are not taking responsibility for what ultimately comes down to their taste bud addictions, denying that any real harm comes of it. As a result of this “see no evil” stance, humans will defend their thirst for blood and violence to the point of wreaking havoc on this planet that can no longer be ignored; damage and destruction affecting every being. Human-caused species extinction is escalating and we ourselves are on the list. The way we humans are taught to view other animals — the way we genetically manipulate or otherwise try to control them, how we bring them into this world, hold them captive, and kill them for our pleasures — is nowhere near the definition of “natural behavior” as it applies to the rest of the natural world. Do your research. It’s been observed that animals kill other animals for need, whereas humans do it for greed. An understanding of human anatomy and physiology will reveal that we are NOT meant to be flesh eaters, in sharp contrast to the so-called carnivores/omnivores we like to compare ourselves to so we don’t have to address our ugly prejudices and addictions or put critical thinking skills to good use.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXj76A9hI-o&nohtml5=False
      Milton Mills, MD: Are Humans Designed to Eat Meat?

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