Friday, August 21. 2015
Saw a TV program about Dancing Bears
Children are delighted
to watch these big, surprisingly light-footed beasts
do a jig
as their eyes roll lovingly,
toward their human partners
("Roms," as gypsies prefer to be called)
holding the rope
that leads to their nose.
It never enters the children's mind
that the dancing bear
could be anything but happy,
just as they are,
in watching it.
would their parents bring them
to watch a horribly cruel display
could the gay rhythm to which they dance
possibly be that of unrelenting, excruciating tugs
to the nose-ring, tongue-ring, jaw?
and could what the bear goes through
in their presence
conceivably be only a small glimpse
of its agony?
Yes, they wonder
why the bear's nose
has that funny curve,
and why its jaw is askew
and permanently agape,
and why its frothy breath
but they assume it's just smiling.
So Turkey has finally,
banned the practice --
which has not made it disappear,
but has simply made it more profitable
to cater to a new demand,
in which the bear cub is duly purchased,
disfigured, tortured, displayed,
and then sold to animal-welfare activists,
who take it to a retirement farm
while the Rom re-invests part of his profits
in the next bear cub.
Supply and demand.
They say that the nose ring
the world has placed in the Rom people's noses
is almost as painful as the bear's.
But that's hard to credit,
from the bear's end of the rope...
Monday, August 17. 2015
(Version française suit ci-dessous)
The Debate "Should we stop eating animals? "Organized by the Quebec Skeptics at the Quebec Humanist Centre August 13, 2015 is easy to summarize:
Both voices for YES (Christiane Bailey, U Montreal, and Dany Plouffe, McGill U) argued that:
1. Eating animals is unnecessary for our survival or health
2. To breed, rear and slaughter animals causes suffering
3. We should not cause unnecessary suffering
So we should not eat animals.
(In addition, they added that if we stopped eating animals it would be better for the health of the planet and for human health.)
The two voices for NO (Cyrille Barrette, Laval U, and Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt, U Montreal) argued that:
CB1: There are continuities and discontinuities in the Darwinian evolution of species: we should respect the differences and distances between species
CB2: Humans are the only species that is “altrusitic” and has the capacity to make choices and laws; pain is not the same as suffering; we should respect these differences
CB3: We evolved as omnivores; let’s continue to eat everything we evolved to be able to eat
J-PV1: Animals industrially bred and slaughtered suffer, but not that much
J-PV2: Whether they suffer too much to justify eating is a matter of opinion and free choice
(J-PV also challenged the degree of benefit for the planet if we stopped breeding animals to eat; he also cited the business interests of the meat industry)
There was no vote taken. Readers can draw their own conclusions from my summary. I think I have not omitted anything important, nor distorted or biased anything.
DÉBAT : DOIT-ON CESSER DE MANGER DES ANIMAUX ?
Saturday, August 15. 2015
James McWilliams used to seem ok, but he is apparently a historian-turned-philosopher first and a feeling human being only second. The disembodied abstractions of utilitarianism always missed the point, whichever way they cut: The point is simple and obvious -- but you need to have and use a heart to perceive it. Don’t hurt except if vitally necessary. You don’t need axiomatics to solemnly enumerate the actual, transitional and hypothetically imaginable cases of vital necessity. But nothing new follows from them. And certainly not carnivory or the meat industry.
Pain and pleasure are incommensurable (except for a blinkered utilitarian). No amount of pleasure justifies inflicting pain on others. (How much pain I choose to inflict on myself in exchange for my own pleasure is another matter, but irrelevant: this is about inflicting pain on OTHERS in exchange for MY pleasure -- or for the pleasure of N of US, in utilitarian metrics.) The only faintly utilitarian moral truth is that we should try to minimize pain; but, again, pleasure is not part of the equation. And "don't hurt except if vitally necessary" already covers that.
The Road-Kill Retort. I am astounded that anyone considers road-kills relevant to any serious discussion of veganism: Even if it is true that more animals are killed by roadway accidents than by hunting, the only decent response, it seems to me, and the one in keeping with the gravity of the topic of both animal suffering and roadway accidents, is not to treat roadway deaths as some sort of abstract and immutable given in some utilitarian debate but as a compelling reason to work on ways to reduce highway accidents (just as collateral animal deaths in vegetable farming should not be taken as an abstract, immutable given, but a compelling reason to work on ways to make vegetable farming more humane). Accidental road-kills are certainly not a scaleable, sustainable way to feed the world. And what is important is practical ethics, not hypothetical ethics.
Whenever a student raises the issue of road-kills as it were some sort of argument against veganism I immediately assure them that we are not talking about obsessive-compulsive disorder here: Anyone, vegan or not, is cordially invited to eat all the road kill they encounter and relish: it is of absolutely no consequence or relevance to anything whatsoever other than the need to improve highway safety for all. (But it is usually carnivores, not vegans, who prefer to keep the discussion focussed on abstractions rather than on the flesh and blood and terror and agony that are the real issue. But when a vegan is also an abstract ethical theorist….)
Thursday, August 13. 2015
Immense disappointment -- for me, but I left Unity (the successor of Earthlings after a decade) after 20 minutes when I couldn't take anymore. Horror upon horror, accompanied by exalted banalities solemnly voiced in sound clips by assorted celebrities.
Earthlings had been - and still is - immensely powerful and effective in awakening the world to the otherwise unimaginable agony inflicted on (other) animals by humans, the agony that ag-gag laws strive to hide from us. I hadn't been able to bear watching Earthlings either, but I recognize that its graphic evidence is essential for sensitizing that vast majority of humankind who are ignorant of and insulated from the fact that such horrors are being committed, being committed everywhere, and being committed in our name, so as to feed those who crave meat and to clothe those who crave leather and fur. Earthlings was not a movie for vegans. It was a movie for creating vegans.
In the twenty minutes that I could bear of Unity, the horrors were mostly inflicted by humans on humans, in the context of war, but there were also Earthlings moments in Unity, where the human aggression was on animalls - and we could already sense that there would be more later in the film.
I left before they came. There will probably still be extracts from Unity that activists can use to inspire people to become vegan. But skip the human/human aggression. There is no horror we have inflicted on animals that we have not inflicted on humans too. The “rules” of war allow it all. But in peacetime, it is illegal to do that to people.
For animals, it's always wartime, and they are always the helpless victims. They are all in the state of terror and despair of that indelibly soul-tormenting first scene of the calf facing and frantically, hopelessly, struggling to escape that all too narrow passageway to merciless slaughter.
The film brings us no new solution for ending human/human war, just the banal cliches we already know.
And for animals, apart from the new supply of episodes to add to the heart-convulsing Earthlings excerpts of ten years ago, this new film adds only a miscegenation of wickedness and words that form no unity: a congeries of horrors and homilies.
For me what was missing in this call for ecumenical unity among molecules, organisms, earth, planets, galaxies, and universe was the one property that distinguishes the trivial from the tragic — the property that unifies humans with the (other) animals and distinguishes both from molecules, earth, planets, galaxies - and even trees: That property is sentience, the susceptibility to suffering.
Towards other humans, we violate this property in times of war (and crime). But towards other animals we violate it at all times.
Maybe a miracle awaited those who stayed until the end. If so, maybe someone can tell me about it...
[Afterword: Friends later told me that the punchline turned out to be "Homo spiritus." But (apart from the pedantic fact that it should have been "Homo spirans," since the notion of "spirit" is inspired by divine incoming breath, and Homo is not the only breathing organism) even the more relevant taxonomic tag -- Homo sensibilis -- would have been a misnomer, because all other organisms with nervous systems are sentient, not just us. And our potential for sensitivity to their sensitivity is useless if we don't use it.)]
Immense déception — pour moi, mais je me suis sauvé après 20 minutes lorsque je n’en pouvais plus. Horreurs suivies d’horreurs, accompagnées de banalités exaltées et insipides prononcées solennellement par des vedettes en clip sonore.
Tuesday, August 11. 2015
Although it sounds like an impassioned plea for mice, Australian ecologist Mike Archer’s 2011 "blood on your hands" argument against veganism is really just an uncritical defence of the status quo, rightly pointing out some relevant problems but completely ignoring others.
1. First and most important of all: The animals killed for cultivating land do matter, enormously. The remedy for that is humane herbiculture, which is definitely possible, and practiced, but rarely, because of the preference for factory agriculture, which is cheaper.
2. The picture drawn by Archer is of Australia, where it is claimed that 98% of beef (and all kangaroo meat) still comes from natural range-feeding animals. This is not at all true elsewhere in the world, where a lot of arable land is used to produce livestock-feed instead of food for humans. Australia, where wildlife habitat encroachment has not yet gone nearly as far as in Europe and America, is not representative of the rest of the world.
3. The free grazing argument, such as it is, applies only to cattle (and kangaroos), not to pigs and chickens, which require agriculture to grow their feed.
4. The calculation in terms of protein percentage is greatly skewed by the fact that we eat far more protein than necessary for survival and health.
A. Leave the free-grazing animals for last. Phase out all the other meat-eating that is not even implicated by the herbicultural collateral-damage argument.(George Monbiot has done a few flip-flops on this topic too...)
Bruers, S. (2015). The Core Argument for Veganism. Philosophia, 43(2), 271-290.
Matheny, G. (2003). Least harm: A defense of vegetarianism from Steven Davis's omnivorous proposal. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 16(5), 505-511.
Wednesday, August 5. 2015
Every day it becomes harder and harder to believe the depths of heartlessness to which the Fidik-minded populace of Hungary has sunk.
Shameless, shameful. The historic stigma this will leave on the government and its supporters — mitigated only by that wonderful minority of Hungarians who have hearts and are helping the helpless victims of their countrymen’s odious apathy and antipathy — will be indelible.
The righteous Hungarians will one day prevail, but meanwhile Orbanistan is a pariah among nations, an odious blight on humanity itself. Shame, shame and more shame.
Read, reader, and weep.
Thursday, July 30. 2015
All the horrors that humans inflict on animals humans inflict on humans too. But doing it to humans is illegal, doing it to animals is not. Why?
Toutes les cruautés qu'infligent les humains aux animaux, les humains les infligent aux humains aussi -- à la différence que de faire ça aux humains est illégal, tandis qu'aux animaux, pas. Pourquoi?
Friday, July 24. 2015
In “What if Current Foundations of Mathematics are Inconsistent?” Voevodsky (2010) suggests that there are three options in light of Goedel’s theorems:
Either:But why make any mention of psychological states like “knowing” at all?
Surely, regardless of our intuitions, the only truths (besides the Cogito) that we can “know” to be true, i.e., certain (rather than just probably true on all available evidence) are the truths that we have proved to be necessarily true, on pain of contradiction
Why not the following?—
4. Admit that arithmetic’s consistency is provably unprovable, but that then it may either be (unprovably) true (rather than unprovably “known”) that arithetic is consistent — or it may be false that arithmetic is consistent.“Reliability” does not seem to be a valid substitute for provability-on-pain-of-contradiction. It would make mathematics into something more like inductive empirical science: provisionally true on the available evidence until/unless contradictory evidence is encountered. That is just the conjunction of 5 and 6. It also has some of the flavor of intuitionistic reasoning (insofar as the excluded middle is concerned).
As usual, this uncertainty only besets infinities, not finite constructions.
Or does the notion of “deductive rigor” all reside in the provability of consistency in nonfinite mathematics?
(The problem of possible mistakes in proofs (and the partial solution of computer-aided proofs) concerns another kind of reliability, and again seems to be a solution only for finite mathematics.)
Wednesday, July 15. 2015
“Marriage” (as opposed to civil contracts), and especially its overlay of fideist fanfare and flim-flam, has always struck me as silly, irrespective of what genders are involved.
But it has also always seemed obvious that there should be an equal right to engage in such silliness, irrespective of what genders are involved.
So I (always slow on the uptake) only started to realize the importance and significance of the LGBT rights movement when I noticed who was opposing it: For, virtually without exception, those who opposed LGBT rights were the very same ones who opposed all or most of what I (and, I think, most decent people) would take to be fair and right.
So here’s Hungary's Jobbik, a party that embodies and celebrates all the uglier sides of human nature — ethnocentrism, racism, sexism, brutality, violence — putting on a “charm campaign” in Washington to try to make itself look electable to more than just the tail end of the normal curve.
There is an important article in the Hungarian Free Press about the Jobbik/Fidesz “charm campaign” in Washington: "Tad Stahnke: Don’t be duped by Orbán’s charm offensive!".
Perhaps the most important thing Tad Stancke’s timely report points out is that Jobbik is not the only foul emanation from today’s Hungary: The regime in power, Orban’s Fidesz party, has appropriated most of Jobbik’s ugly agenda — less out of conviction than out of opportunism and utter lack of either principles or scruples — to attract Hungarian voter and expat support.
And plutocratic Fidesz, too, is conducting a charm offensive in America to try to camouflage its affinity to its Charon.
To the point where we can just as well speak of “Fidik,” the fusion of the current body politic with its orbiting doppelganger.
The stance on LGBT rights is, as ever, the canary in the menacing magyar mineshaft.
But there is hope. Because although enough Hungarians are drawn to the Fidik mentality to keep it aloft for now, the decent side of the normal curve is also alive — if currently ailing — in Hungary, protesting against the xenophobic wall of shame under construction, and using their meagre means to help the migrants.
Wednesday, July 8. 2015
was thin little flakes
sprinkled frequently enough
so you could munch and munch
to your gentle little heart's content.
At first I feared,
as your little belly swelled,
that you were egg-bound,
then that you were over-eating,
as your glide became a waddle,
I no longer needed a net
to airlift you to the other tank
so the others could eat in peace
and you would not burst:
I could just scoop you up
in my hands,
your soft, tubby little form,
too swollen to struggle,
but now I know,
also too weak.
And I thought
it's because all you care about
When my sluggish soul realized
you were neither gravid
but suffering from a fearful illness
to purchase the paraphernalia for a cure,
but you could no longer wait,
nor even resist the filter,
grown stronger than you,
which locked you in its orbit,
so you could only linger there
Was it because I unjustly underfed you
in your last weeks?
Or failed to freshen your water enough?
Or discovered your ailment too late?
Or the world was just too much -- or too little -- for you?
Your waddle is still now.
You drift freely with the little whirl-pool.
I don't know if you still are.
I don't dare decide not.
And I don't want to.
I squeeze your bloated little belly
gently, maybe I can expel the poison.
And soon I must umpire the learnèd paper
that confidently argues
that fish do not feel
My own little lump of gold,
the only gold of value.
I won't betray you again.
Tuesday, June 30. 2015
On June 13 2015, all around the world – in Paris, Brussels, London, Berlin, Istanbul, Delhi, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal – people gathered to March for the Closing of the Slaughterhouses.
But the slaughterhouses will not close of their own accord.
To close the slaughterhouses people’s eyes and hearts have to be opened. Opening people’s hearts is the only hope for the countless victims – innocent, helpless, without voices, without rights – who are suffering, horribly and needlessly, every moment of every day, everywhere in the world, for our palates.
Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, The Ghost in Our Machine (with permission)
How to open people’s hearts?
With two fundamental facts that most people do not yet know or believe.
I. The first fundamental fact is that eating meat is not necessary for human survival or human health.
The vegans from all over the world who marched on June 13 were the living proof of this first fundamental fact (Nearly 1% of the world population of 7.5 billion is vegan today.)
II. The second fundamental fact is that in order to provide this meat that is not necessary for the survival or health of the 7.5 billion humans on the planet, an unimaginable amount of suffering is necessary for over 150 billion innocent, voiceless, defenceless victims every year.
Slaughter for meat is not euthanasia. It is not the merciful, pain-free, terror-free ending of a long, happy life in order to spare the victim from suffering a terrible incurable disease or unbearable pain.
Slaughter is the terrifying and horribly painful ending of a short, anguished life full of disease and fear and pain, for innocent, defenceless victims deliberately bred and reared for that purpose. And it is all carefully concealed from the public eye.
And it is completely unnecessary for our survival or health. We inflict all this pain on the victims only for taste pleasure, and out of habit.
Demonstrations like the June 17 march are very important, but they are not enough to open people’s hearts and close the slaughterhouses.
For that, we first have to open access to the slaughterhouses, with audio-visual surveillance Webcams placed at all the sites of the abominations (breeding, rearing, transport, slaughter) -- cameras that will film the horrors and stream them all immediately, continuously and permanently on the Web so that all people on the planet can witness the terrible cost in agony that our taste-preferences are inflicting, every moment of every day, everywhere, on our victims: sentient beings, innocent, defenseless, without rights, without voice, without respite, without hope.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons (public domain image)
Not everyone will look at the videos streamed on the web.
But the number of witnesses who will look and see will grow and grow. And with them will grow the knowledge of the heartbreaking truth, the reality that has till now been hermetically hidden from our eyes and our hearts.
And those of us who come to know the awful truth can provide the eyes and the voice for the victims.
The existing regulations for minimizing suffering in slaughterhouses are shamefully inadequate -- how can one needlessly end an innocent life humanely? But even these existing, inadequate regulations are not being enforced or monitored or obeyed today.
As its first consequence, the crowd-sourced monitoring of slaughterhouses, based on the evidence streamed and stored publicly on the web, witnessed and reported by a growing number of informed and concerned citizens, will help to ensure that today’s existing (though inadequate) regulations – and prosecution for their violation – are enforced more and more reliably and rigorously.
In Quebec -- the province that has until now been the worst in Canada for animal welfare -- we have just acquired a legal basis for requiring rigorous monitoring of slaughterhouses: the National Assembly has heeded the many Quebec voices raised on behalf of protecting animals from suffering. The Quebec Civil Code has been amended to give animals the status of sentient beings instead of the status of inert property - or movable goods - as formerly. (Other countries are doing likewise: New Zealand is the latest.)
But this new status, like this public demonstration, are not enough.
Sensitizing Sentients to Sentience
In Quebec, on this new legal basis, and with the help of the new audio-visual evidence, as witnessed by the Quebec public, not only would we be able to prosecute those who do not comply with the existing (inadequate) regulations but we could also press for the passage of stronger and stronger legislation to protect sentient beings.
And the evidence provided by these surveillance Webcams would have a still further effect, apart from the enforcement and strengthening of today’s animal welfare regulations: It would also awaken and sensitize witnesses to the actual horrors made necessary by a non-vegan diet: It would sensitize us all to the sentience of sentient beings.
In place of the shamelessly false advertising images of "happy cows" and "contented chickens" we would all have the inescapable, undeniable, graphic evidence of the unspeakable suffering of these innocent, sentient victims - and the utter needlessness of their suffering.
Might this not at last inspire us all not to remain non-vegan, just for the pleasure of the taste, at this terrible cost in pain to other innocent feeling beings? Might it inspire us to abolish their needless suffering, instead of just diminish it?
SEE ALSO:Win/Win Outcome for All
Let me close with a little optimistic numerology and the world’s most benign pyramid scheme for every sentient being on the planet, with no losers other than industries that build profit on suffering:
If each vegan today inspires just 6 more non-vegans (1) to become vegan AND (2) to each inspire 6 more non-vegans to become vegan, then in just 9 steps all of the population of Quebec will be vegan, in 10 steps all of Canada, in 11 Canada and the United States, and in 12-13 the whole world.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Public domain image)
It is also entirely fair that it should be ourselves, the most prosperous and well-fed populace in the world, who start. By the time we have closed all of our industrial slaughterhouses and converted the land to producing food to feed people instead of using it to breed, feed and butcher innocent victims, needlessly, the planet will be producing 40% more human food, 60% less pollution and 90% less suffering – with enough left to sustain natural wildlife and their habitat too.
That will also be enough food to feed the world’s current malnourished as well as to allow the last subsistence hunters on the planet to make the transition to a truly fair, sustainable, scalable and merciful means of sustenance.
Saturday, June 27. 2015
Le 13 juin 2015, aux quatre coins du monde - à Paris, Bruxelles, Berlin, Londres, Istanbul, Delhi, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montréal - des citoyens se sont réunis et ont marché pour revendiquer la fermeture des abattoirs.
Mais les abattoirs ne se fermeront pas de leur propre gré. Pour faire fermer les abattoirs, il faut d'abord faire ouvrir les yeux et les cœurs des gens. L'ouverture des cœurs est le seul espoir pour les indénombrables victimes innocentes, impuissantes, sans voix, sans droits, qui souffrent horriblement et inutilement, partout au monde, tous les jours, à tout moment.
Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur, The Ghost in Our Machine (avec permission)
Comment ouvrir le cœur des gens?
Avec deux faits fondamentaux que la plupart des gens ne savent ou ne croient pas.
1. Le premier fait fondamental est que manger de la viande n'est nécessaire pour ni la survie ni pour la santé humaine.
Les véganes provenant de partout au monde qui faisaient partie des marches étaient les preuves vivantes de ce premier fait fondamental. On estime qu'il y a 75 millions de véganes sur la planète: 1% de la population totale de 7,5 milliards.
2. Le deuxième fait fondamental est que, pour fournir cette viande qui n'est pas nécessaire à la survie et à la santé des 7,5 milliards d'êtres humains sur la planète, une quantité inimaginable de souffrance est nécessaire de la part de plus de 150 milliards de victimes innocentes, sans défense, sans voix, chaque année.
L'abattage pour nous fournir en viande n'est pas l'euthanasie. Il ne s'agit pas de la terminaison d'une longue vie heureuse, sans terreur, sans douleur, afin d'épargner de la souffrance à la victime d'une terrible maladie incurable ou d'une douleur insupportable.
être impitoyablement abattues.
Et tout ça, sans aucune nécessité pour notre survie ou notre santé. Nous ne leur faisons toutes ces horreurs que pour le plaisir de nos palais, et par habitude.
Les manifestations comme celle du 13 juin sont très importantes, mais elles ne suffisent pas pour ouvrir le cœur des gens et pour fermer les abattoirs.
Pour cela, nous devons d'abord ouvrir les abattoirs, avec des webcams de surveillance audiovisuelles, placées dans tous les sites des abominations - caméras qui filmeront les horreurs et les transmettront toutes, immédiatement, de façon continue et permanente, sur le Web. Comme ça, tout les citoyens pourront devenir témoins du coût terrible en termes d'agonie qu'infligent nos préférences gustatives, à chaque instant de chaque jour, partout, aux êtres sensibles, innocents, sans défense, sans droits, sans voix, sans répit, sans secours.
Photo: Image Wikimedia Commons (Domaine public)
Tout le monde ne regardera pas ces vidéos sur le Web. Mais le nombre de témoins qui regarderont, verront et ainsi sauront la vérité déchirante, augmentera de plus en plus le nombre de ceux qui le savent aujourd'hui, à un moment où la vérité reste toujours hermétiquement cachée de nos yeux et de nos cœurs. Et ceux d'entre nous qui connaîtrons cette vérité pourrons fournir la voix aux victimes.
Les réglementations existantes pour minimiser la souffrance dans les abattoirs sont honteusement insuffisantes: comment peut-on mettre fin à une vie innocente, sans nécessité, de manière humanitaire? Mais même les réglementations inadéquates qui existent aujourd'hui ne sont ni appliquées, ni surveillées, ni contrôlées adéquatement.
La surveillance publique des abattoirs, basée sur les preuves diffusées sur le Web, témoignées et rapportées par un nombre croissant de citoyens militant pour la protection des animaux, fera en sorte que déjà les réglementations inadéquates d'aujourd'hui - ainsi que les poursuites pour leur violation - seront mises en vigueur beaucoup plus rigoureusement.
Au Québec, qui avait été jusqu'ici la pire province au Canada pour la protection des animaux, nous venons d'acquérir un principe de base juridique pour revendiquer une surveillance rigoureuse des abattoirs: début juin, l'Assemblée nationale du Québec a tenu compte des nombreuses voix qui sont élevées au nom des animaux.
Le Code civil du Québec vient d'être modifié pour accorder aux animaux le statut d'êtres sensibles au lieu du statut de propriété inerte - ou biens meubles - comme anciennement. Mais cette nouvelle loi, comme la manifestation du 13 juin ne suffisent pas.
Sur cette nouvelle base juridique, et à l'aide des preuves audiovisuelles rapportées par des citoyens québécois, nous pourrons non seulement poursuivre ceux qui ne respectent pas les réglementations actuelles, inadéquates, mais nous pourrons aussi exiger l'adoption des lois de plus en plus fortes pour protéger les êtres sensibles.
Les preuves transmises par ces webcams de surveillance serviront aussi à sensibiliser tous les citoyens concernant les horreurs nécessitées par une diète non-végane. Il s'agira de la sensibilisation à la sensibilité des êtres sensibles.
Et ce sont les preuves incontournables des souffrances de ces victimes sensibles - et de l'inutilité de leurs souffrances - qui risquent à nous inspirer tous à ne plus demeurer non-véganes - sans aucune nécessité vitale, juste pour le plaisir gustatif - à ces terribles frais.
LIRE AUSSIPermettez-moi de conclure avec un peu de numérologie optimiste et une ruse pyramidale la plus bénigne du monde: si chaque végane aujourd'hui inspire encore 6 non-véganes à devenir végane ainsi qu'à inspirer à leur tour encore 6 non-véganes à devenir végane, et ainsi de suite, alors en seulement 9 étapes toute la population du Québec sera végane, en 10 étapes tous les Canadiens, à 11 le Canada ainsi que les États-Unis, et à 12-13, ça sera le monde entier.
Photo: Image Wikimedia Commons (Domaine public)
Il faut noter également qu'il est tout à fait juste que ça soit avec nous, qui sommes parmi les citoyens les plus prospères et les mieux nourris au monde, que tout cela démarre.
Au moment où nous aurions fermé tous nos abattoirs industriels et re-dédié nos terres vers la production directe d'aliments à nourrir les gens - au lieu de les utiliser à élever, nourrir et ensuite massacrer d'innombrables victimes innocentes, inutilement - la planète produira ainsi 40% plus de nourriture, 60% moins de pollution et 90% moins de souffrance.
Ceci sera assez pour nourrir toutes les victimes de la famine ainsi qu'à permettre aux derniers chasseurs de subsistance sur la planète de faire la transition vers une consommation réellement équitable et miséricordieuse.
Tuesday, June 23. 2015
Compassion. One very sad fact about the animal rights movement is that it has a lot of internecine hostilities. Some of them are evident in the comments on Ashitha’s Nagesh's article "Vegans need to stop comparing the treatment of animals to slavery". Ashitha is a vegan. She was only objecting to the slavery analogy because it might hurt some people’s feelings. But some of the commentators have been attacking her as if she were a promotor of animal suffering rather than a vegan like themselves.
Some of this is no doubt because it is so frustrating for those who have been sensitized to animal suffering to be so impotent in the face of so much of it, and so much indifference to it. But Ashitha is not one of that vast majority who are indifferent to it. She is just concerned that the slavery analogy might be hurting the cause of the animals. And she might conceivably be right (even though I think she is wrong, and I use the analogy myself).
But Ashitha is a vegan, and acting in good faith. She does not deserve the vicious remarks being made by some of the commentators on her article. And if anything is likely to hurt the cause of animals, it’s that sort of aggression, so obviously misplaced here.
Vegans need to project compassion, not aggression. It is compassion that animals need. It is aggression that hurts and kills them.
Commensurability. No one knows what message, what approach, what evidence, what argument will help to put an end to the horrors, as soon as possible.
I am the offspring of Holocaust survivors (and I myself was a kind of Holocaust survivor, in utero). I lost 27 members of my family who were taken to Auschwitz by cattle-trains — “just if they were cattle” — to be slaughtered. I too used the “as if they were cattle” simile, without thinking, along with its implicit implication that it’s OK for cattle, just not for humans. And I too was shocked and hurt by the analogy between the Holocaust and animal slaughter, even though I too had long been a vegetarian and had more recently become a vegan.
At first. But when I thought about it more — and despite the obvious disanalogy that Jews were being genocidally annihilated, precisely because they were Jews, whereas animals are continuously being purpose-bred, deliberately, to keep on being slaughtered for our taste-pleasure — I realized that, no, the analogy was nevertheless fundamentally right in the relevant aspects, and that it needs to be said.
Slaughtering sentient (feeling) beings as if they were insentient objects is monstrous, and monstrous in exactly the same way, whether those that are being slaughtered are black or white, man or woman, child or adult, Jew or Gentile or, yes, person or pig. It is indifference toward the suffering of those one considers so different that they don’t matter. It began before racism and slavery. It was already there in merciless and genocidal inter-tribal warfare and even inter-family vendettas. Always the different ones; the ones that matter less than “us.”
And, yes, we’ve come a long way. If we’ve not stopped doing it to people, we’ve at least outlawed it, and most of us obey and embrace those laws.
Animals are the last unprotected victims of the very same horrors, and the very same human indifference. And their scale of suffering has just grown and grown. Let us not evoke their difference as a justification for treating their suffering as if it were somehow less wrong, somehow less horrible. It’s not.
All feelings matter. But the ones that matter most here are not those of the people who are offended by the comparison, but those of the victims. At least 150 billion of them per year. If they can be helped by pointing out that we are treating them as monstrously as we have treated people in the past, then let it be said.
Let me close with a quote from Coetzee:
“I no longer know where I am. I seem to move around perfectly easily among people, to have perfectly normal relations with them. Is it possible, I ask myself, that all of them are participants in a crime of stupefying proportions? Am I fantasizing it all? I must be mad! Yet every day I see the evidences. The very people I suspect produce the evidence, exhibit it, offer it to me. Corpses. Fragments of corpses that they have bought for money… Calm down, I tell myself, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. This is life. Everyone else comes to terms with it, why can’t you? Why can’t you?” — — J.M. Coetzee, “The Lives of Animals”
Sunday, June 21. 2015
"The pain passes, but the beauty remains" --- Auguste RenoirPronounced by someone speaking of his own pain, this statement is noble and betokens all that is good about the human spirit.
But all too often it is not that. It is about beauty (taste, pleasure) for me, and pain for others, especially non-human others.
“I no longer know where I am. I seem to move around perfectly easily among people, to have perfectly normal relations with them. Is it possible, I ask myself, that all of them are participants in a crime of stupefying proportions? Am I fantasizing it all? I must be mad! Yet every day I see the evidences. The very people I suspect produce the evidence, exhibit it, offer it to me. Corpses. Fragments of corpses that they have bought for money… Calm down, I tell myself, you are making a mountain out of a molehill. This is life. Everyone else comes to terms with it, why can’t you? Why can’t you?” --- J.M. Coetzee, “The Lives of Animals”
Friday, June 19. 2015
"What does a vegan eat?"
Tons of stuff: In fact food tastes much better to me now that I am vegan than it did during the years I was a carnivore, and then a vegetarian.
The reason is that our metabolism — that of a contextual omnivore rather than an obligate carnivore — has two modalities.
Originally, and through large parts of our evolutionary history, we were herbivores and ate only plant-based foods (grains, beans, vegetables, fruits). There were also times when the only way we could survive was by hunting meat (esp. the paleolithic period).
And then we invented (rather than evolved) agriculture, and we could again have enough to eat through plant-based sources alone. We had developed adaptations along the way for meat-eating, even though our digestive system is basically still that of a herbivore, with yards of intestines instead of the carnivore’s short gut and strong digestive enzymes.
So, as with many biological contexts, there was a cue that indicated to our metabolic system which of the two “modes” — herbivore V or carnivore M — we were in, and that cue was the presence of animal protein in what we ate. And, also like many other contextual modes, one of the modes was dominant over the other. And the dominant one was the carnivore mode (M). If meat was available, and we ate it, then our metabolism went into M-mode, we got a strong appetite for meat, and an indifference or even a distaste for vegetables. Meat also had the advantage that it was almost completely self-sufficient: The body could get almost everything it needed from meat alone, as in true carnivores. (Not quite, but almost.)
The cue for V-mode was the absence of animal protein in what we ate. Vegetarians, however, are not in V-mode, because they eat eggs, milk and cheese, which are animal proteins. So vegetarians do not have the strong appetite for vegetables that vegans do. They still crave meat. I noticed the change in my appetite about 8 months after I had stopped eating animal protein completely.
(There are a few supplements that vegans need to eat unless they are very careful about their diets, but these supplements are easily available today, and just about everyone takes them anyway, whether meat-eater, vegetarian or vegan. They are mainly vitamin B12, calcium, Vitamin D and omega-3 oil, plus a few other occasional ones (e.g., iodine, iron, B6), all of them available from plant or synthetic sources).
That’s the story. And all these animals are being bred, suffering and dying — because we have chosen M-mode (not a forced choice, except in the few remaining paleolithic hunter environments like the northern Inuit or the deep amazon jungle natives). The choice was purely a cultural one, a matter of acquired taste, though once the animal protein was being consumed, the cues of the M-mode kept reinforcing our choice, making us feel as if we could not live, or enjoy eating, without eating animal-protein. And because M-mode is dominant, this appetite gets stronger, spreads worldwide, and we want to eat more and more meat, as the Chinese (and all nouveau-riches) are now doing. And of course the result is also the obese meat-and-potatoes Americans, heart-disease, diabetes, as well as the secondary ailments because of the hormones and antibiotics with which the animal victims have to be plied to keep producing them at industrial scale.
The dominance of M over V is one of the things that is making it so hard to convert everyone to veganism. But the other thing is the enormous and prosperous meat/fish/dairy/egg industry, which does everything to cultivate our M-mode appetites. (Dairy does the biggest job because cow’s milk is actually so bad for us, both as children and adults: milk-consumption is propped up by advertising and misinformation very much the way cigarette-consumption used to be.) The infamous ag-gag laws that prevent viewing or filming the way animals are industrially raised and slaughtered are the ugliest aspect of the way the industry safeguards its revenue streams. But the real causes are of course us, the consumers that sustain them.
Eventually, of course, the unsustainability of our astronomical level of meat production and consumption, and the pollution, environmental and resource destruction it causes, the illness and scarcity, will force us all to become vegans.
But before that, how many more innocent, helpless creatures are going to be bred, brutalized and butchered in their short lives of misery — and all (I can’t repeat it enough) completely needlessly?
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