Friday, December 23, 2011

What More Needs To Be Said?

If an image is worth a thousand words, this one is surely worth millions!

Great People Fighting the Good Fight

I've made plugs for Toronto Pig Save before. This is a wonderful group of people, based in Toronto, nonviolently bearing witness and resisting the slaughter of these innocent animals.

Have a look at this video. It's a wonderful interview with TPS founder Anita Krajnc. Anita has been a huge inspiration in this region to other animal rights activists. Her eloquence, her persistence, her passion for the cause of teaching people about the barbaric practice of slaughtering pigs, makes her one of the most effective spokespeople of a movement I've seen in a long time.

This is a small movement, but it's growing. TPS now has 427 supporters on Facebook. They're fighting the noblest of noble battles. They deserve support, and for those who are thinking about starting a similar movement in their own community, the example of TPS is worth examining.

Check out Anita in this video and I'm sure you'll agree: This isn't just a Good Fight. It's a Great Fight.

The True Spirit of Christmas (courtesy of our German Brothers and Sisters)

This video made me weep.

It shows German animal rights activists preparing a wonderful meal of fruits and vegetables and then one of them, dressed as Santa Claus, delivers it to pigs inside of a factory farm. His solitary act of sharing represented, in my view, a gesture of profound kindness in a world full of cruelty and inhumanity.

Notice how the pigs gently share the meal with each other. Notice how they savor every bite. It is the same way they savor life, and the same way we, as human beings, savor living, and the same way the children savor it.

The language in the video is German, but really, this video speaks a universal language. It's the language of compassion. It's the language of humanity. It's the language of decency.

It has been said that the greatness of a society can be judged in how it treats its most vulnerable inhabitants. Today, no matter where you go, the most vulnerable are always the animals.

If that's the case, our world has a long ways to go. A long, long ways.

Let this video be a reminder of the real spirit of Christmas. When human beings finally live up to that spirit, when they live in accordance with what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" - which will inevitably involve ending the exploitation, murder and consumption of animals - then, and only then, can we call ourselves a "civilization."

Meantime, watch this video and catch a glimpse of the meaningful yet simple goodness to which we all ought to aspire.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

At Christmas, We Will Not Forget the Animals

How can we go on referring to ourselves as a "civilization" and treat animals this way?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

'Nuff Said

What more needs to be said?

In Praise of Sarah Kramer

Canadian veganista Sarah Kramer - author of several wonderful cookbooks such as La Dolce Vegan and How It All Vegan (check out her Website here) - is featured prominently in this CTV piece on being vegan in the Holiday Season. The CTV crew visits her beautiful shop in Victoria, British Columbia. Have a look at the report if you get a chance. Even though it describes the situation here in Canada, a lot of what it says is also applicable to the United States and elsewhere.

If you're not already familiar with Sarah, her shop in Victoria, her great books and her just generally inspiring example, please get to know her better. She has been at the forefront of the vegan movement here in Canada. When I first converted, I went out and bought her cookbooks, which are available in bookstores and can also easily be ordered online. The recipes are superb - I haven't made a bad one yet. And I also love Sarah's thoughts and observations that she weaves in between the recipes. She's a wise soul, brimming with humanity and kindness.

If you get a chance, please Like her fan page on Facebook. You'll get regular updates from a truly inspiring person.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fighting the good fight: Canadian brothers and sisters spreading the word

My previous post (below) was a bit of a downer. Please watch this wonderful and very hopeful short film about our Canadian brothers and sisters spreading the truth and winning the hearts and minds of people. All it takes is one really well-placed image or documentary or article or leaflet to open someone's eyes. I was a meat lover and omnivore right up until when I watched Death on a Factory Farm. It was the jolt I needed. Something snapped in me. I woke up. I came to grips with the profound immorality of exploiting and destroying and consuming animals. If I underwent that transformation, anyone can.

The other side has a lot of weapons in its arsenal: Mass production facilities that destroy animals in an assembly-line fashion; a huge war chest to spend on advertising and finding new ways to increase efficiency; magazines and television shows and websites that promote consuming animal products.

But we have the most powerful weapon of all on our side. Truth. It's not always easy to know how to spread the word. But as one vegan banner showing a beautiful cow states: "They're worth it."

Victory? Not on your life - or theirs

The pork producer Smithfield Foods, Inc., has announced that - after lots and lots of pressure from animal welfare advocates - it will no longer keep pregnant female hogs in gestation crates. "VICTORY!" proclaimed a headline on "Smithfield Will Stop Using Gestation Crates."

Those who put pressure on Smithfield Foods to abandon gestation crates, particularly the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have good reasons to be pleased. Their efforts paid off. Now, female pigs will no longer be confined to areas that are so small, they can't even turn around in a circle.

But before anybody celebrates, let's take a cold hard look at how little things have changed.

Female pigs will still give birth to babies that will be torn away from their mothers. The babies will grow up in darkness, fattened up to eventually be murdered and cut apart for their meat.

And if you listen to the rhetoric of the HSUS, the struggle is over. The good fight has been won. The forces of darkness have been vanquished. "Smithfield's recommitment is an important and welcome move," noted the HSUS president/CEO Wayne Pacelle. "With the company back on track with its phase-out, we're getting closer to the day when the cruel confinement of pigs in gestation crates will be a bygone era for the entire hog industry."

But the real question we face is: Does this step bring us closer to the day when humanity sheds is barbarism and stops exploiting and murdering sentient beings?

I'm not certain the answer is "yes."

What it will mean is that one of the outrages that resulted in animal welfare groups taking hidden cameras into pork producing companies is now gone. Animal welfare advocates have emerged from this struggle feeling very proud of their accomplishments. Self-congratulation, unfortunately, leads to passivity and acceptance. Mass murder will continue behind walls, inside of cold, brutal killing plants. The only change is that a mother pig now has more space to move.

I recall when I first became a vegan, I used to read Gary Fancione dismissing these kinds of animal welfare triumphs as "meaningless," and I'd think, "He's being pretty hard on animal welfare proponents. After all, every little step forward is an improvement. Change is gradual. Victories come in small steps. The end result is a world without animal exploitation, without violence, without meat and leather jackets and cow's milk in our refrigerators."

But I've since learned that as long as tens of billions of land animals are murdered each year, we have no reason to celebrate. As long as our oceans are being depleted of aquatic life, any rejoicing is hollow and meaningless. As long as baby calves are torn away from their mothers to produce milk that human beings have no business drinking; as long as horses are being slaughtered (a cruel act blessed by a Democratic-controlled White House); as long as baby seals are being mercilessly clubbed for fur that human beings don't need to wear to keep warm; as long as the very foundation of a huge segment of our economy is based on mass killings, there is never a reason to applaud or find joy in "triumphs."

What happened at Smithfield is not a victory. It is a droplet of insanity that has been removed from a merciless sea that churns with psychosis, denial and violence. Only by drilling down to the roots, and dramatically altering the worldview that says the mass murder of animals is acceptable, will we have reason to cheer.