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February 2002
Vegetarian Advocate: Lies Carnivores Tell Themselves

By Jack Vegetarianberger

 


Before discussing how carnivores deceive themselves about the cruel and murderous effect of their diet, I ask that you please take a moment to write the New York State Attorney General’s office to request that it invoke the state’s anti-cruelty law to halt the force-feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras.

Section 353 of Article 26 of the New York Agriculture and Markets Law relating to cruelty to animals makes it a crime to torture or unjustifiably injure, mutilate, or kill any animal. Force-feeding vast quantities of food to ducks and geese for the sole purpose of producing a nonessential food product, for example, is obviously unjustifiable.

The production of foie gras requires that duck and geese be extensively overfed in order to greatly extend their livers. The often trice-daily feedings over a short period of time cause their livers to expand to six to 12 times their normal size. One result: the deformed animals are often barely able to stand, let alone walk. Some birds, due to ruptured internal organs, literally explode.

Fortunately, only a few foie gras producers exist in the United States, but one of the largest, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, is located in Ferndale, New York. Help shut it down. Write a polite letter to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer asking him to outlaw the force-feeding of ducks and geese. And request a written reply.

Contact: Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, State Capitol Building, Room 220, Albany, NY 12224-0341; phone (518) 474-7330; fax (518) 402-2472. You can contact Spitzer online at www.oag.state.ny.us, but a personal letter often makes more of an impact than an online comment.

No Tuna Salad Sandwiches for Me, Please
It’s virtually impossible for me to pick up a book, whether it’s a work of nonfiction like Animal Liberation or a work of fiction like the Bible, and not pay close attention to the author’s attitude toward nonhuman animals. I’m always curious to learn if the author recognizes animals as individual beings, if the author refers to nonhuman animals as a genderless “it” (as opposed to “he” or “she”), and if the author is a vegetarian.

I recently read Wisdom Circles: A Guide to Self-Discovery and Community Building in Small Groups (Hyperion, 1998) by Charles Garfield, Cindy Spring, and Sedonia Cahill. In the book’s first pages, Garfield and company explain that the purpose of wisdom circles is to create a small community that joins together in “a circle, meeting heart to heart, learning from each other’s life experiences and honoring the values that sustain our lives,” with the emphasis being to create “a safe space within which to be authentic, trusting, caring, and open to change. We are searching for a way of life that embraces wisdom and compassion as its core principles.”

Compassion? Wisdom? Caring and open to change? Wow, this is great stuff. But, I wondered, are Garfield, Spring, and Cahill vegetarians? If not, how do they rationalize their abuse of nonhuman animals? My questions remained unanswered until I reached the bottom of page 58 and encountered a section titled “I’ll Take a Tuna Salad Sandwich, Please.”

“We are constantly on the receiving end of the gifts of life,” write the authors. “Take, for instance, the mundane act of ordering lunch and then receiving your tuna salad sandwich. You probably thank the server, but you are indebted to the person who caught the tuna, to the person who processed it in a factory, to the person who transported it to a warehouse or store, and finally to the person who made your sandwich. To how many people might you offer a ‘thank you’ for doing their part in getting that sandwich to your table?

“Then there are the connections we take for granted in the Web of Life. What about the tuna? the green onions? the celery? the wheat? These were alive and well, living recently on Mother Earth... What about gratitude to them for giving up their life energies so that you may continue to live? How many of us take the time to express gratitude for our food, through whose life essence we continue our lives?

“Indigenous peoples take the time to offer thanks to the spirits of animals that have been killed for their gifts of food and clothing...”

Garfield and his co-authors suggest “a mealtime prayer that may help kindle gratitude in your heart: I send prayers of gratitude to all the plants and animals that have sacrificed their lives that I might be nourished.”

What planet do Garfield and company live on? They are deceiving themselves (and others) when they speak of “animals that have sacrificed their lives.” Do they honestly believe that, in the case of the tuna salad sandwich, a tuna fish searched out the fisherman’s hook so she or he could be impaled, yanked out of the water, killed, and served as a sandwich? What about the millions of turkeys who are killed for Thanksgiving? Do the authors believe that the life goal of these animals is to be treated miserably, then to have their throats slit and their bodies sold as the centerpiece of a mealtime ritual centered on gratitude?

Regarding the indigenous peoples and their offer of thanks: I’ll bet the only thing nondomestic animals want from indigenous people is to be left alone. An expression of gratitude may be comforting to the killer’s conscience, especially if the killer believes the animal has a spirit, but it is of absolutely no benefit to the animal victim.

Contact: Charles Garfield, Cindy Spring, Sedonia Cahill, Wisdom Circles, 3756 Grand Ave., Suite 405, Oakland, CA 94610; phone (510) 272-9540; wisdomcircle@igc.apc.org.

Kudos for E: The Environmental Magazine

If you’re a socially conscious vegetarian, the January/February 2002 issue of E Magazine is a must-read, must-have. The magazine’s cover features a young, female environmentalist staring at the camera, with a hot dog in her hands, about to bite. The cover line reads, “So You’re an Environmentalist... Why Are You Still Eating Meat?”

The magazine features four insightful articles from an environmental perspective on the pros and cons of carnivorism and vegetarianism. In “Give Peas a Chance,” E publisher Doug Moss offers the perspective of someone who became a vegetarian “half a life ago, at age 25.” Freelance writer Sally Deneen investigates the argument of whether humans were meant to eat animal flesh in “Body of Evidence,” and E editor Jim Motavalli weighs in with a pair of lengthy, robust articles, “The Case Against Meat” and “Across the Great Divide,” about friction between animal rights and environmental organizations over vegetarianism [read Satya’s interview of Motavalli in December/January’s issue]. Great stuff.

For more information, visit E Magazine at www.emagazine.com. For a subscription to the unfailingly thoughtful, bimonthly magazine, send $20 for six issues or, better yet, $29 for 12 issues to E: The Environmental Magazine, Subscription Department, P.O. Box 2047, Marion, OH 43306-2147.

 

 


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