Category Archives: veganism vegan abolition

VT Podcast Ep 3: Do We Value Our Taste Buds Over Our Own Species’ survival?

cover VT8Welcome friends to my third podcast (listen here). I was going to focus on a number of issues in this podcast, but an essay by Chris Hedges (Pulitzer Prize recipient) came to my attention titled “Save the Planet: One Meal at a Time” and I thought I would discuss some of the aspects of this essay.  :-)

Here’s an excerpt:

“Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all worldwide transportation combined—cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes.3 Livestock and their waste and flatulence account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.4 Livestock causes 65 percent of all emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 296 times more destructive than carbon dioxide.5 Crops grown for livestock feed consume 56 percent of the water used in the United States.6 Eighty percent of the world’s soy crop is fed to animals, and most of this soy is grown on cleared lands that were once rain forests. All this is taking place as an estimated 6 million children across the planet die each year from starvation and as hunger and malnutrition affect an additional 1 billion people.7 In the United States 70 percent of the grain we grow goes to feed livestock raised for consumption.8

The natural resources used to produce even minimal amounts of animal products are staggering—1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.9 Add to this the massive clear cutting and other destruction of forests, especially in the Amazon—where forest destruction has risen to 91 percent10—and we find ourselves lethally despoiling the lungs of the earth largely for the benefit of the animal agriculture industry. Our forests, especially our rain forests, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and exchange it for oxygen: Killing the forests is a death sentence for the planet. Land devoted exclusively to raising livestock now represents 45 percent of the earth’s land mass.11

And this does not include the assault on the oceans, where three-quarters of the world’s primary fisheries have been overexploited and vast parts of the seas are in danger of becoming dead zones.”

I speak about the so-called “Ag Gag” laws and the problem with focusing on animal agribusiness instead of addressing public demand for animal use. I speak also about the problems with promoting welfare reform and the problems associated with large animal organisations and their undercover investigations. I touch on a few other issues as well briefly.

Thanks for listening. I look forward to your company again. :)


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Filed under Abolitionist veganism, Ag gag laws, Amazon Rainforest, animal agriculture, animal exploitation, Arctic methane, Chris Hedges, corporations, domestication, ecosystem, environmental impact, extinction, global warming, methane, oceans, podcast, speciesism, vegan, veganism vegan abolition

Some Thoughts on the Killing of Insects

Don’t be upset when someone encourages you to avoid killing or encourages you to avoid participating in killing. Be glad that someone cares enough and tries to encourage you to be nonviolent. It’s rare today. Even our everyday language revolves around killing and harm. The media and some younger people today talk about “killing it”, “nailing it”, “destroying it” when talking about being successful and achieving their aims. Why do we use such violent language even when we are happy?

Short of living in a cave and eating nettles, we cannot avoid unintentional killing and harm but we can do our best to avoid intentional killing. We don’t have to kill. We choose to kill. We don’t have to kill an insect but we choose to, simply because we feel they are inconvenient. We take their life (an already short life that is precious to them) over often such trivial reasons. I hear people defend their actions saying they are “defending themselves”. Really? Defending oneself from an insect? It may take just a little more effort to shoo an insect away or relocate the insect using a small jar and a piece of cardboard than it would to kill the insect, but is it such a hardship? It may take a little more effort to try to create an environment so as not to attract insects and spiders, but it’s not difficult and it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

I remember a few years ago watching an interview in which US President Barack Obama killed a fly during the interview. I remember his playfulness at first telling the fly to “go away now”, which quickly turned into him focusing on the fly, pausing for a few seconds, then swatting him. He was quite pleased with himself, as was the interviewer. Later footage was shown of the dead fly laying on the carpet.  Shortly after, the footage of this incident of  Mr. Obama killing a fly was everywhere in the media. As I watched this and the subsequent excitement over this incident, I remember feeling very sad. I felt very sad for the fly because his/her death was a source of amusement and meant so little. I felt very sad for all other species on the planet. I felt very sad for our species, that we kill so easily, so thoughtlessly, so often and with much satisfaction.

Some people might say, well Mr. Obama tried to shoo the fly away, and the fly did not leave him alone so he was justified in killing the fly. Really? Did he really have to kill the fly? Was this tiny insect any kind of threat to Mr. Obama? Well unless the fly was a very tiny drone, of course not. Did Mr. Obama kill the insect because he thought it was more “presidential” to kill an insect rather than ask someone to shoo it away for him, or simply stop the interview for a moment and have someone relocate the fly outside? Possibly. But how sad that our ego, our pride is more important than a vulnerable life.

We do so, because we CAN. Isn’t this the story of our species? One could say it’s almost our species’ mantra: We do so because we can.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” Laozi

No attitude or action exists in a vacuum.

Unfortunately over time we as a species have developed an attitude that we have an absolute right to exist, and every other species is either a resource, or a “pest” or some “thing” we have not found a use for or they are something to amuse us. But in truth, we are as much a “pest” as any being we believe to be a “pest”. In fact we are more so.

The human species is in overshoot and collapse. A sustainable population for our planet was around the 400 million mark (around the time of King Henry VIII). We are now beyond 7 billion and exponentially increasing. We have overpopulated the planet, used up most finite resources, mostly destroyed our own nest as well as the home for 99.99% of the planet’s population who are nonhuman.

Now we have created an ongoing situation in the melting Arctic (widely under-reported) where massive spears of methane (some a kilometre wide) are now rising from the East Siberian Arctic shelf. The clathrate gun has been fired. The tremendous warming effects of this ongoing massive release of CH4 (plus 17 irreversible positive feedback loops) may result now in runaway global warming (a predicted 8 degrees Celcius increase by 2030/2039), an effect which has not been factored in to current predictions. (Please see an article and a report by respected climate scientist Malcolm Light).  This will probably have extremely dire effects on every single species (including plants) on the planet including our own. The sixth mass extinction which is completely anthropogenic is currently underway in the and protect flies

The truth is, we are not nearly as smart as we think we are. We have separated ourselves from and have become the enemy of the natural world and of all other species. We ignore the reality that just like many other species who have become extinct, we most likely will join them but this time we will take most species with us. We like to tell ourselves that we are superior, that we are not an animal, but we *are* animals, a very destructive species who has evolved to use technology often in extremely short-sighted, foolish and destructive ways. We are animals who have turned on our own species, who murder and exploit for selfish and ignorant reasons and for greed. We are addicted to violence and we target those (including our own children) who are vulnerable and / or different. We have developed medicine and technology which has allowed us to continue to breed at an alarming and unsustainable rate.

After we are gone, the planet will go on without us. Even if we kill every species except bacteria due to anthropogenic global warming, in 10 to 15 million years bacteria will have evolved again and we will see a different kind of animal and plant diversity similar to levels seen prior to the last mass extinction 252 million years ago. During Permian extinction, 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct. As Dr. Chris Langdon (a University of Miami biologist who is a pioneer in ocean acidification research) noted that carbon was being injected into the atmosphere today far faster than during the Permian extinction. If mass extinction occurs, it will be highly unlikely that the planet will see the likes of our species ever again. We are not exempt from species extinction. We are not exempt – no matter how special or superior we believe we are –  from the very real possibility of our own extinction at our own hands, and it might be sooner than we think.

With that in mind, I would like us to consider that if our species has a very limited amount of time left on this planet, isn’t it possible that we just stop the violence of exploiting and killing other animals and go vegan? Every species who exists on the planet has just as much right to be here as we do, every single one, and they deserve at least one very basic right – the right not to be used as property, as a resource. Can’t we at least do that? Just leave them be? We need to do our best to change our attitude toward other species, and stop thinking of them as something to be tolerated, something to be used or eradicated and that starts with us becoming vegan. Until we significantly change our way of thinking toward other species, we will never know peace. We may think “oh it’s just an insect, or a spider, or a snail, I will just kill it”, or “oh it’s just a pig, or a chicken” but that attitude never stops there. It expands to other areas of our lives and this attitude is in great part why we as a species are in the terrible mess we are in today.

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Filed under Arctic, Arctic methane, Barack Obama, CH4, clathrate gun, Climate change, Drone President, Drones, East Siberian Arctic shelf, Flies, global warming, Ice melting, Insects, killing, Malcolm Light, Mass extinction, methane emissions, Permian extinction, Sixth Mass Extinction, speciesism, veganism, veganism vegan abolition

I thought I was mostly nonviolent

Before I became vegan — before I stopped using animals for food, clothing, entertainment and other reasons — I used to think I lead a mostly nonviolent life. I used to do whatever I could for injured or “homeless” animals when I came across them. I attended rallies and protests for all kinds of human social justice issues. I was horrified when I would hear stories of animal abuse and cruelty, but meanwhile I would sit down 3 times a day to ingest violence. I would wear the skin of a sentient being on my feet. I would wear the woollen coat of a sentient being on my body and so forth. My animal use was like breathing.

One day I accidentally came across some information about the dairy industry. I was mortified. I could not believe that I had been participating in this unspeakable violence. I realised I had been living an unconscious life. I could not believe that this could be taking place and be viewed as morally acceptable.

Dairy is great violence. Please go vegan

Dairy is great violence. Please go vegan

Even though I was vegetarian for much of my life, I was still participating in great violence because I was still eating and wearing animal products and viewing animals as resources. For most of my life I mostly accepted without question the speciesist position that other animals are our property. I am sad that it took me so long to wake up from my speciesist haze. I call it a haze because I didn’t really question what we were doing. I mostly took it all for granted that this was the way it was supposed to be.

Speciesism is so powerful and pervasive. It’s frightening really that I was completely indoctrinated and could have gone on that way for the rest of my life.

put aside

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Filed under animal ethics, animal exploitation, speciesism, veganism vegan abolition, Vegans

Noam Chomsky: “Wrecking nature for short term profit”

Noam Chomsky: Wrecking nature for short term profit – YouTube.

The most important reason to be vegan is because using animals as resources is morally unjustifiable. Another reason is because 51% of GHG are from animal agriculture according to Worldwatch Institute. We are less than 1% of the planet’s population. This planet is home to billions of other species. They matter as much as we do. If you are not vegan, please start here

For more information: Chris Hedges : The Myth of Human Progress – Truthdig

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Filed under Noam Chomsky, property status, veganism vegan abolition, Vegans, violence

Some thoughts on Animals Australia’s “dairy calf cruelty investigation” campaign

Animals Australia (a large animal “protection” organisation) has launched another confusing campaign, this time focusing on the dairy industry and the dairy calves. Male dairy calves are “by-products” and are of no use to the dairy industry. Animals Australia’s “dairy calf cruelty investigation” campaign was sparked by “hidden” camera footage obtained of “abuse” of young dairy calves at a slaughterhouse.

On their Facebook page and website a caption accompanies an image of a young calf peering through a crate:

Hidden cameras have captured the illegal abuse of week-old dairy calves. But legalised cruelty continues. Help save other calves from abuse by exposing animal cruelty.

First, the most obvious omission is that nowhere does it say we should go vegan. Second, “abuse” implies that the normal functioning of a slaughterhouse is non-abusive. In their campaign it also notes there are certain “humane” legal codes of animal use which are not being adhered to. These so-called welfare “codes of practice” would be considered torture if they were applied to humans, but they are promoted as “humane” when applied to nonhumans.

Let’s consider why industry have these codes of practice.

One of the main reasons that these torturous welfare codes of practice are place is they are part of an industry public relations campaign. They help increase industry’s profitability by soothing the public’s conscience, believing that industry cares about animals. Large animal “protection” organisations like Animals Australia and others, assist industry by monitoring the implementation of these torture codes and promoting them as something to be upheld, something that is “humane”. This demonstrates profound moral confusion on the part of Animals Australia and it is false and misleading.

William L. Garrison (May 1, 1845, an American abolitionist)

So profoundly ignorant of the nature of slavery are many persons, that they are stubbornly incredulous whenever they read or listen to any recital of the cruelties which are daily inflicted on its victims. They do not deny that the slaves are held as property; but that terrible fact seems to convey to their minds no idea of injustice, exposure to outrage, or savage barbarity.

If I may give an abolitionist vegan’s viewpoint. First, abolitionist vegans (myself included) would view the very fact that nonhuman animals in society are viewed legally as property as morally wrong. We believe their property status needs to be abolished and this can only be done through nonviolent vegan education. Second, it doesn’t matter if nonhumans are from factory farms or mom and pop small hobby farms. It doesn’t matter if calves were stroked gently and sung sweet songs before they were murdered. The fact that they are used at all is morally unjustifiable. Abolitionist vegans recognise that nonhumans love and value their life; they have interests, likes and dislikes; and they are moral persons. We understand it is irrelevant whether they are “like us” or not. All that matters is sentience. Abolitionist vegans regard ALL animal use as abuse. The issue is not treatment, the issue goes beyond this to the very immoral act of using them.

Frederick Douglass, (1818-1895, an American abolitionist) said:

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

There is a clear difference between the way regulationists like Animals Australia view nonhuman animals, and the way abolitionist vegans view nonhuman animals. In fact, the philosophical positions are completely different and that’s why there exists two separate and distinct movements today. When advocates of regulation criticise abolitionists claiming we are “divisive” or accuse us of “in-fighting” for criticising their campaigns and position, we point out to them that this could only be so if we were all part of the same movement, but we are not. One should welcome criticism if it is constructive.

Sadly, Animals Australia -as with other large animal orgs- does not say to the public that we humans are responsible for great violence when we use animals for food, clothing, entertainment or other reasons. It does not suggest to the public that the way to stop this situation and all forms of animal use is to go vegan. No. Instead, Animals Australia suggest that we are able to “save” dairy calves from “abuse” by “exposing it“. This is a confusing message.

Animals Australia ask their non-vegan donors and the non-vegan public to write and complain to the dairy industry. Little do they realise that the dairy industry will *always* have male calves as a “by-product” of their industry and they will be murdered. The public also do not realise that the animal use industry will do little to nothing to “improve” conditions for animals if those “improvements” negatively impact on their profitability. For industry, animals are economic commodities, nothing more. Industry has no real interest in their “welfare”. The “improvements”/”reforms” — if you could call it that — will be tiny (if any), and it’s a question of if or when they will be implemented.

This is the nature of animal welfare “reform”. It makes the pubic feel better about animal use; it does little or nothing to “improve” conditions for animals; it promotes the idea that it’s morally acceptable to exploit and murder nonhuman animals as long as it done “humanely”; it misleads the public into believing animal use can be made “humane”; it increases consumption of animal products and use; and it further entrenches animals in the property paradigm. We need to realise this about welfare “reform” and stop promoting it as if it something good for animals and start promoting veganism.

Don't turn your back. Go vegan

Don’t turn your back. Go vegan

Animals Australia’s “dairy calf cruelty investigation” campaign also says to their non-vegan donors that animals need to be properly stunned before slaughter and that all slaughterhouses need CCTV cameras. This suggests to the public that it’s OK to exploit nonhuman animals as long as it is done “humanely” and that there are “humane” ways to murder nonhuman animals. If the public believe this then they have obviously never been to an everyday slaughterhouse or they believe it because it’s better than having to think about it.

Animals Australia also suggest to their non-vegan donors and the non-vegan public to go dairy free. Why dairy free? Why not just ask them to go vegan? (Veganism is more than a diet). Their donors and the public are the very people who are creating this horrific situation not just for these animals, but globally for 56 billion land animals per year and many many more sea animals per year. Large animal “protection” organisations around the world have a big problem mentioning veganism. There’s reasons for this, and most are financial.

Animals Australia have many celebrities who speak for them, who are their ambassadors. It is very unusual if one of their celebrity spokespersons are vegan, yet they are supposedly advocating for nonhuman animals.

An an essay on UVE Archives so eloquently stated:

So, the donors create the problem through the extreme speciesism of consuming animal products, which leads to the breeding, confining, torturing, and intentional killing of the innocent. Then the donors send their money – tens of millions of dollars of it annually – to PETA and HSUS to attempt the absurdly impossible: regulate a perpetual holocaust of billions of victims annually. These big groups are beholden to the very donors who are creating the problem that needs to be fixed.

It is a classic circular farce and would be a knee-slapping hilarious example of human stupidity if it were not so tragic.

We cannot regulate the holocaust. We need to stop it by going vegan and encouraging others to do the same.

I should also mention this “dairy cruelty” campaign follows closely on the heels of their recent “Make it possible” campaign (focusing on factory farming with no mention of veganism) which pulled in mega-donations and their most recent frivolous Australia Day “Everyone deserves a day off” campaign (no mention of veganism).

Every one deserves

Cruelty investigations are a very popular and effective way of raising donations for large animal “protection” organisations. Cruelty investigations are a never-ending source of donations, because while society continues to use animals as “things”, as resources, there will always be abuse. The “cruelty investigations” will go on ad-infinitum while the public is not vegan. And who is going to tell the public to go vegan? The evidence would suggest it will not be regulationist organisations.

As UVE Archives states in an essay about PETA’s cruelty investigations:

[u]ndercover investigations are more of the same single-issue and welfare campaigns dressed up in a heroic gown. Whereas a human rights organization would unequivocally claim that rights violations – slavery, exploitation, and killing – are wrong and should end, PETA merely wants the target exploiter to observe traditional welfare standards while rights violations continue.

Other excerpts.

“Undercover investigations are just another example of PETA’s role in the industry-welfarist partnership as both strategic advisor on quality control and traditional welfare cop.”

“PETA doesn’t oppose industry’s exploitation per se; they just want industry to exploit and kill according to generally accepted exploiting standards and to receive their compensation from consumer-donors for their work as industry’s quality control auditors.

Undercover investigations should function in an animal rights movement the same way they do in a human rights movement: to bring attention to the issue and continue a dialogue about ending rights violations. In other words, undercover investigations should function solely as a catalyst for vegan education. Outside of that particular context, they are worse than useless. In supporting PETA’s attempts at improving quality control over exploitation and killing through undercover investigations, donors ultimately support industry.

Animals Australia is really no different from any other large animal “protection” organisations. They usually have a huge donor base who are not vegan. PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Animals Australia (and other organisations like them) never ask any of their donors to go vegan, one reason being they do not wish to challenge their donor base as it may affect their donations. It’s a business decision. So they usually partner up with industry, promote one speciesist single issue campaign after another asking for donations but not asking their donors to be vegan. They do not have veganism as their foundation.

Their philosophy is that one can be a slave owner and still respect and love their slaves, that their slaves are “happy slaves” even while they are being murdered. One only has to view many of the public’s comments on Animals Australia’s Facebook page to see that their philosophy is working.

I will leave you with this comment I left a couple of days ago on Animals Australia’s Facebook page under the image associated with their campaign for dairy calves. I hope someone was paying attention.

The way to end this unending stream of animals who are victims or “by-products” of the dairy industry, is not to find “better” ways of transporting them to slaughterhouses. It’s not to find “better” ways of murdering them, because there’s no such thing as “humane” murder and even if there were, it would still be wrong.

The solution to address this and all forms of animal use is to go vegan and stop using animals for food, entertainment, clothing, and other reasons. We ourselves need to stop participating in animal use. We are the public. We create demand for animal products and animal use every time we go to the store, sit down to eat, every time we purchase a pair of shoes, a woollen coat, go to the zoo, or the circus, buy an animal, and so on. We are the culprits for the violence, for situations like this, and it does not matter whether an animal is young and cute or not. All that matters is sentience as to whether they have the right not to be used as property. It is WE who need to change, not industry. So let’s start changing our own lives and take violence out of our lives and become vegan. No need to point fingers at anyone. It’s we who need to change. Here’s a great vegan resource It’s easy to become vegan. 🙂

Thanks for listening

"Free range" "organic" "factory farmed" etc - In the end the all end up in the same slaughterhouse.

Whether they are “free range” “organic” “factory farmed”, in the end they all wind up in the same slaughterhouse.

For more information on this issue:
UVE Archives: “On Cruelty Videos
Animal Cruelty: Who is to Blame?
PETA’s Undercover Investigations: Another example of the welfarist business cycle.
What’s wrong with Single Issue Campaigns
How Should We Respond to Australia’s Live Export Ban or Its End?




The last few weeks I’ve taken the opportunity to point out the moral confusion in campaigns by a large animal protection organisation “Animals Australia”. Advocates for Animals Australia keep telling us that AA does not endorse or promote “happy meat” or “happy animal products” and yet they regularly post campaign information like this:


Animals Australia:

“Did you know that pregnant mother pigs can legally be confined to a crate so small they cannot even turn around — for their entire pregnancy? ‘Sow stalls’ are undoubtedly one of the cruellest devices ever inflicted upon animals in factory farms. But there’s hope…

In a big step forward for pigs, Coles starts 2013 by ensuring that NO Coles-brand fresh pork products come from suppliers who confine pregnant pigs in sow stalls!

Please join us in thanking Coles for leading the way – and encourage them to continue fighting factory farming by addressing other practices such as surgical procedures of piglets without anaesthetic, and confining mother pigs in crates after birth. Click here to discover what pork labels really mean for pigs:

Thank you Coles, for helping to get pregnant mother pigs — and hens ( ) — out of cages!

This would never have happened without caring people like you leading the way. Every meal is a choice. Every shop is a vote. By choosing kindly you can help animals with every bite! Learn more:


I wrote a comment to this on their page:

I’m a little confused.

How is murdering sentient beings for their flesh (“pork”) a big step forward for pigs? Wouldn’t a big step forward for pigs be if we became vegan and educated others to become vegan so that the pubic ceased using animals for food, clothing, entertainment and other reasons? Not only pigs would not be exploited and murdered any more, but no other animals would be exploited either including dairy calves which is what the most recent AA campaign is about.

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Filed under animal exploitation, Animals Australia, cultural prejudice, dairy, dairy industry, Frederick Douglass, human rights, humane, humane murder, non-vegans, nonviolence, People for the ethical treatment of animals, property paradigm, property status, speciesism, vegan, veganism vegan abolition, Vegans

“We Raise All Our Beef Humanely On Open Pasture and Then We Hang Them Upside Down And Slash Their Throats” The Onion

The Onion telling it like it is. Please read the piece here: “We Raise All Our Beef Humanely On Open Pasture & Then We Hang Them Upside Down And Slash Their Throats


There’s no such thing as “humane” use / non-abusive use, and even if there were, it would still be unjust. Please go vegan. It’s not a sacrifice. It’s much easier than you think. Not vegan? Please start here

Whether "free range" "organic" and factory farmed, they all go to the same slaughterhouse

Whether “free range” “organic” and factory farmed, they all go to the same slaughterhouse

"Compassionate" animal slavery? No such thing

“Compassionate” animal slavery? No such thing

Is veganism a sacrifice? No not at all.

Is veganism a sacrifice? No not at all.

For further information please read this post “What is wrong with vegetarianism?”

Here is an excerpt:
The Immorality of the Institution of Animal Exploitation

Animal exploitation, because it exploits animals as property, is chattel slavery. Animal exploiters completely own and control animals as property, resources, and commodities and any “restrictions” on the behavior of the property owner are solely for the efficient exploitation of animals as commodities. We don’t approve of human slavery no matter how “humanely” or “kindly” a slave owner treats his or her slaves. We reject the institution of slavery in all of its forms because the institution itself is immoral. The institution itself is immoral because it systemically and necessarily reduces its subjects to mere objects existing solely to satisfy the means of others’ ends; affords no protection to the exploited beyond what is deemed appropriate for efficient exploitation as a commodity; and necessarily reduces sentient beings with emotional lives, desires, and aversions to mere things – as if they were insentient broccoli, corn, rocks, or trees.

The institution of animal exploitation (i.e. slavery) is a moral blind spot in our culture exactly as human slavery was a moral blind spot 160 years ago in America. We need to examine and question our cultural prejudices just as 19th century Americans needed to examine their cultural prejudices.

If we are morally opposed to the institution of animal exploitation and the cruelty and gross injustice it necessarily entails, as any decent person who is aware of the facts included in this essay ought to be (not to mention the facts of other exploitation not included here), our moral baseline must be veganism.


[1] To see more about “spent” free-range hens, see Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary’s Faces of Free Range Farming.

Don't turn your back. Go vegan

Don’t turn your back. Go vegan

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Filed under animal agriculture, animal exploitation, animal farming, animal rights, belief system, humane murder, nonviolence, veganism vegan abolition, Vegans, violence

What? Desperately trying to avoid being boiled alive didn’t tip you off?

Next time we encounter a tank of lobsters at a restaurant or “seafood” shop, we should stop for a few moments to put aside our prejudices and really look at these individuals.

In the lengthy piece “Consider the Lobster” (“Gourmet” magazine 2004) by the late writer David Foster Wallace (who sadly suicided in 2008), he spoke about the ethics of boiling a lobster alive, all for a few moments of palate pleasure and he also spoke about a lobster’s sensory neurons.

He writes:

However stuporous the lobster is from the trip home, for instance, it tends to come alarmingly to life when placed in boiling water. If you’re tilting it from a container into the steaming kettle, the lobster will sometimes try to cling to the container’s sides or even to hook its claws over the kettle’s rim like a person trying to keep from going over the edge of a roof. And worse is when the lobster’s fully immersed. Even if you cover the kettle and turn away, you can usually hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off. Or the creature’s claws scraping the sides of the kettle as it thrashes around. The lobster, in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water (with the obvious exception of screaming).15 A blunter way to say this is that the lobster acts as if it’s in terrible pain, causing some cooks to leave the kitchen altogether and to take one of those little lightweight plastic oven timers with them into another room and wait until the whole process is over.

I remember many years ago on a sea cruise I ate a lobster. I was 16 and had never eaten lobster before. The waiter put down the dish with a lobster who had been cut in half. I remember feeling slightly uncomfortable because half his head was on my plate. Major cognitive dissonance. At the same time, my speciesist belief system kicked in and I proceeded to eat this individual and I enjoyed it. But I remember this event very well. Now as a vegan, I shudder to think about it. At times, when I dare think about my past participation in animal use, I am ashamed and guilt-ridden. And I must say while composing this post, having to read Wallace’s descriptions of murdering lobsters literally made me feel nauseous.

This is the torture I put this particular individual through for a few moments of palate pleasure.

David W. Foster continues:

[i]t takes a lot of intellectual gymnastics and behaviorist hairsplitting not to see struggling, thrashing, and lid-clattering as just such pain-behavior. According to marine zoologists, it usually takes lobsters between 35 and 45 seconds to die in boiling water. (No source I could find talked about how long it takes them to die in superheated steam; one rather hopes it’s faster.)

In Maine at their Lobster Festival they boil alive 100 lobsters at a time. The unbearable fear and torture.

U.S. industry alone produces around 80 million pounds of lobster, and Maine accounts for more than half that total.

U.S. industry alone produces around 80 million pounds of lobster, and Maine accounts for more than half that total.

Today while browsing Twitter, I came across a numerous headlines relating to this particular issue of crustaceans and pain. I have chosen one titled: “Further evidence that crabs and other crustaceans feel pain” I sighed and thought really? What was the giveaway? Desperately trying to avoid being boiled alive by thrashing about trying to push the lid off a boiling pot? These ongoing kinds of (often torturous) studies always astonish and sadden me. The unending experiments apparently trying to determine whether these non-human individuals feel pain. It makes me sigh with despair at our species’ pathetic attempts to rationalize our exploitation of the vulnerable.

Recalling my time as a nurse in a neuro-intensive care unit, many of our patients were in a coma. Although they were unresponsive except for basic simple physical reflexes, as nurses, we would talk to them, tell them what we were about to do e.g wash their face, moisten their mouth etc. We treated them with the same regard we would had they been conscious. We have such regard for our own species, even when they are comatosed, yet we are so invested in using non-human animals as resources, that we cannot even acknowledge the obvious.

If one searches online, there have been numerous scientific articles about lobsters interactions with other lobsters: their sentience, their very fine sensitive hairs on their shell etc. There have been scientific articles about other crustaceans (and fish), their sentience and also their ability to feel pain.

Here’s another excerpt from “Consider the Lobster” by David F Wallace:

There are, of course, other fairly common ways to kill your lobster on-site and so achieve maximum freshness. Some cooks’ practice is to drive a sharp heavy knife point-first into a spot just above the midpoint between the lobster’s eyestalks (more or less where the Third Eye is in human foreheads). This is alleged either to kill the lobster instantly or to render it insensate—and is said at least to eliminate the cowardice involved in throwing a creature into boiling water and then fleeing the room. As far as I can tell from talking to proponents of the knife-in-the-head method, the idea is that it’s more violent but ultimately more merciful, plus that a willingness to exert personal agency and accept responsibility for stabbing the lobster’s head honors the lobster somehow and entitles one to eat it. (There’s often a vague sort of Native American spirituality-of-the-hunt flavor to pro-knife arguments.) But the problem with the knife method is basic biology: Lobsters’ nervous systems operate off not one but several ganglia, a.k.a. nerve bundles, which are sort of wired in series and distributed all along the lobster’s underside, from stem to stern. And disabling only the frontal ganglion does not normally result in quick death or unconsciousness. Another alternative is to put the lobster in cold salt water and then very slowly bring it up to a full boil. Cooks who advocate this method are going mostly on the analogy to a frog, which can supposedly be kept from jumping out of a boiling pot by heating the water incrementally. In order to save a lot of research-summarizing, I’ll simply assure you that the analogy between frogs and lobsters turns out not to hold.

Ultimately, the only certain virtues of the home-lobotomy and slow-heating methods are comparative, because there are even worse/crueler ways people prepare lobster. Time-thrifty cooks sometimes microwave them alive (usually after poking several extra vent holes in the carapace, which is a precaution most shellfish-microwavers learn about the hard way). Live dismemberment, on the other hand, is big in Europe: Some chefs cut the lobster in half before cooking; others like to tear off the claws and tail and toss only these parts in the pot.

And there’s more unhappy news respecting suffering-criterion number one. Lobsters don’t have much in the way of eyesight or hearing, but they do have an exquisite tactile sense, one facilitated by hundreds of thousands of tiny hairs that protrude through their carapace. “Thus,” in the words of T.M. Prudden’s industry classic About Lobster, “it is that although encased in what seems a solid, impenetrable armor, the lobster can receive stimuli and impressions from without as readily as if it possessed a soft and delicate skin.” And lobsters do have nociceptors, (17) as well as invertebrate versions of the prostaglandins and major neurotransmitters via which our own brains register pain.

Lobsters do not, on the other hand, appear to have the equipment for making or absorbing natural opioids like endorphins and enkephalins, which are what more advanced nervous systems use to try to handle intense pain. From this fact, though, one could conclude either that lobsters are maybe even more vulnerable to pain”

Seriously, here’s a little tip off for anyone still questioning whether these individuals feel pain. They do their best to avoid harm. They defend themselves against possible harm. And as I mentioned earlier, they struggle desperately to climb out of a pot of boiling water. I mean seriously! It’s not difficult at all if one is paying the least bit attention to see that crustaceans feel pain and what’s more they are sentient. We just choose not to acknowledge it– just as we choose not to acknowledge that other animals are sentient–so we can continue to exploit and murder them (for convenience and trivial reasons). This failure to acknowledge other species’ basic right not to be used as property is the result of our unrelenting speciesist indoctrination from the time we were born.

And we do it, because we can.

I wish to share with you a few relevant quotes from an excellent blog: UVE Archives which explains speciesism:

Racism and speciesism are both the same wrong of ignoring morally relevant characteristics, such as sentience, in favor of morally irrelevant characteristics, such as species or race membership. Just as racists find it very difficult to see anything wrong with their racism, speciesists find it very difficult to see anything wrong with their speciesism.

Speciesism (like racism, sexism, and heterosexism) is the epistemically irrational prejudice of favoring one or more species over other species without a morally relevant characteristic providing justification. From the standpoint of irrational, unjustified prejudice, ignoring the morally relevant characteristic of intelligence in preventing certain classes of humans from obtaining an education is the same as ignoring the morally relevant characteristic of sentience in exploiting and killing nonhuman animals for food, clothing, research, and entertainment (all of which are unnecessary).

Speciesism is one form of irrational, prejudiced compartmentalization. An example of speciesist compartmentalization is when we pet and love a dog while a pig’s full body and head rotate over a fire pit. Why isn’t it the other way around? Better yet, why don’t we pet and love both the dog and the pig?”

Whether non-human animals express emotions and responses we can recognize or identify with or whether non-humans display “intelligence” like ours is irrelevant as to whether they deserve at least one right — the right not to be used as property. All that matters is sentience. Whether they feel a little pain or a lot of pain, whether they are “like us” or not, the issue is that we have no right to torture and murder other animals. We have no right to use these individuals as resources just because they are from another species.

Finally I would like to share this quote about sentience and speciesism from a blog post titled: “A Matter of Life and Death

We consider killing humans to be wrong regardless of the individual’s cognitive abilities, moral capacity, mental health, sex, race, nationality, age, or sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter whether the person in question is terminally suffering from dementia, psychologically ill, severely retarded or a productive genius – we believe it to be seriously wrong in all cases. If we consider any given case to be particularly egregious, it is often due to the individual’s vulnerability, not to any mental or moral characteristics he or she may possess.

By stark contrast, the majority of us act as if there is absolutely nothing wrong with unnecessarily killing a member of certain other species of sentient beings. But what rational basis do we have for such a discrepancy in our perception? What quality is found in all and only humans that could possibly point to the conclusion that the lives of other animals are unimportant?

Let’s remember this next time we pass by a tank of lobsters in a restaurant. Let’s stop and really look at them. Let’s put aside long held beliefs that they are “things” or “food” and instead, recognize that they love life; that they are individuals and let us remember, they are in this terrible situation because we are not vegan.

Let us stop pretending that other animals’ lives do not matter to them, that it’s acceptable to exploit them as long as we do it “humanely”. Let’s stop pretending that there’s such a thing as non-abusive use of animals, because if we do our research — instead of believing industry and large animals organisations — there is no such thing as “humane” use and even if there were, it would still be unjust. Let’s stop believing our own supremacist notion that we are the ONLY species on the planet that is important and all others are just here for us to use.

Just to give a little perspective. Today 150 million nonhuman sentient individuals–who loved life just as we do, and who are like our nonhuman family members whom we love so much– were tortured and murdered, mostly for our palate pleasure. Many many more sea animals suffered the same fate. When we are not vegan, we are participating in unspeakable acts of violence every day that we eat, wear and use other animals. We are contributing greatly to the planet’s ecological meltdown as 51% of greenhouse gases are from animal use industry according to a 2009 Worldwatch Institute report.

We need to regain our connection to the planet, and recognize our interconnectedness to the millions upon millions of other species who share it with us. Please! Let’s stop our participation in violence and end our self-deception.


Please go vegan. It’s not a hardship. Far from it. Being vegan brings more and more happiness into our lives as time passes. Becoming vegan will be one of the best decisions we make in our lives and it will be a first step to a nonviolent life. If you are not vegan? Here’s a very good resource

I will leave you with a quote from a wonderful Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh: “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness”

Thank you for your consideration 🙂

All that matters is sentience

All that matters is sentience

For more info: Lobsters feel every second of you boiling them alive 



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