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Utah Farms Exposure Tour

Lauren Lockey

Amy Meyer of Utah Animal Rights Coalition and I recently teamed up for a “Farm Exposure Tour.” On this tour, which took place over four days, we armed ourselves with cameras and drove by more than 100 farms, including the major industrial factory farms throughout Utah. What we saw shocked us: dumpsters full of dead turkeys, thousands of small hutches with confined calves, animals living in their own waste, liquid manure waste lagoons, manure piles that were stories high, and feed/hay storage for miles. These farms are obscured from the public behind vast private property lots and warning signs, but even from public roads we were able to witness just how awful and unsustainable these operations are, and WHY they are hidden from the public. Consumers have the right to know that these practices are going on right here in our backyard in Utah. We took more than 400 photographs, including dairy calves left for dead at a few Utah dairy farms. These photos are also used on an interactive map we created that plots exactly where Utah’s factory farms and smaller farms are located. This is quite a lengthy write up and I don’t even touch on everything, so make sure to follow Utah Animal Rights and Sage Mountain Utah on Instagram and Facebook for more pictures, videos and details of the tour.

 

Turkeys

There are 47 turkey farms in Sanpete County, and it ranks number 3 in terms of turkey inventory. In 2012, nearly 4.5 million turkeys were killed in Utah. That number is difficult to comprehend, but when you see the massive sheds it starts to make sense. The one we were able to get closest to was in Freedom, Utah. When we stepped out of the car near just one of these sheds, we could hear the hundreds of turkeys crammed together inside. There were no windows and I imagined what it must be like. To see hundreds of these sheds from a distance is one thing but to stand near one is another: nowhere to escape, you can’t sleep because of noise or feeling threatened by others around you, you are bred and fed to grow very big very fast but are just a baby and still developing so often collapse under your own weight or get trampled, get sick and risk dying. Standing there I felt sad, helpless and completely overwhelmed by the amount of turkeys there. These sheds are so mechanized that the only daily task for the farm owner is to come through to clear out the dead individuals. Amy and I found where those bodies are thrown: into dumpsters located on surrounding roads.

Lives hidden, unseen and discarded. The only time they breath fresh air is when they are transported on trucks to their death. Part of me felt the individuals in the dumpsters were lucky because they didn’t have to suffer any longer or have their life end in fear while being shackled with their throat slit. These massive farms supply Norbest Turkey, whose slogan is “raised in the pristine high mountains and valleys.”

We want to believe that farms are keeping up with proper care of these animals, but the reality is quite different. Investigations held by Direct Action Everywhere continue to shed light on the truth inside these facilities. Fox 13 News covered the story a few months ago here.

 

Eggs

Massive egg farms are in Tooele, Utah County, Millard and Cache County. At the time of the most recent USDA census, there were just under 4 million laying hens in Utah. There are more than 100,000 hens in the buildings at time of USDA census. Delta Egg farm and Oakdell were the two we were able to get closest to, which was not very close. These massive farms were heavily guarded with security and no trespassing signs.

We were even approached by one security guard asking why we were there. I have never seen so much security surrounding food! Would there be the same security for say a bean or vegetable packaging plant? Not sure but I am certain that we were not welcome here. These industries do not want the public to see inside these places and here’s why: hens are crammed together in groups of 5-10 in tiny metal cages piled on top of each other so you can imagine the amount of waste these birds live in. They cannot spread their wings, the tips of their beaks are burned off so they won’t peck each other to death out of frustration of living in such close quarters. Male chicks are immediately thrown into a grinder or gassed because they are of no use to the industry. Through genetic manipulation, hens are forced to lay 250-300 eggs a year. In nature, hens lay only 10-15 a year so when their bodies are forced to endure the labor intensive process of 250-300, their bodies become afflicted with debilitating osteoporosis and bone fractures that are extremely painful. They are only 18 months when they reach the slaughterhouse. Backyard and small farms aren’t necessarily better for animals because they are still being exploited for something we do not need. Eggs are not good for us to be ingesting because they are the highest cholesterol dense food.

 

Pigs

In 2012, roughly 2.5 million pigs from Utah’s farms were slaughtered. Smithfield/Circle 4 Farms located in Beaver County Utah raises 1.2 million pigs per year. 600,000 pigs are packed into long warehouse sheds at any given time. These sheds go on as far as the eye can see, but you would never know that thousands of pigs are inside each one of them.

We drove the road that follows many of the sheds, but could only see the chutes and fans at the end of each shed and the liquid manure pools in between. Waste pits like these eventually end up in the oceans causing “dead zones” where ocean life cannot survive. No one was around and when we got out of the car, we understood why. The smell of manure was so bad that it burned our eyes and soaked into our clothes. I immediately thought of Ponyboy and Wilma Jean and my eyes filled with tears. How lucky I am to get to know them and take care of them . To realize we were standing outside sheds where a sow will spend her short life confined to a gestation crate where she can only lie down or stand up on concrete flooring was heartbreaking especially now that I know how pigs enjoy digging and rooting around in dirt and laying in the sun for hours. Ponyboy and Wilma Jean are best friends and they are free to choose how they spend their day. They can communicate in ways that continue to amaze me. What makes the individuals inside all these sheds any different from Wilma or even my dog Maggie? A mother pig will not have enough room to turn around or care for her young. She will be impregnated year after year until her body breaks down and she is sent to slaughter. Newly born piglets undergo castration and have their tails cut off without any pain relief. They then are crammed into pens until they reach market weight, usually when they are 6 months old. At that point, they are loaded up onto trucks through the chutes and are hauled off to slaughter. They often go 12+ hours in the heat without water in the trucks and by the time they reach the slaughterhouse they are overheating and exhausted, but all that awaits them is an electric pliers stun to the head. Another DXE investigation inside Smithfield/Circle 4 here.

 

Dairy

All the farms we drove by or visited were extremely tough to see, but the dairy farms (large and small) were the most difficult for me. Most of us believe that dairy is ok. That being vegetarian is enough. I believed the same thing until I started researching the dairy industry a little more. Dairy is not only bad for human health and the environment, it is extremely cruel to all the animals involved. There are over 200 dairy farms in Utah. The largest dairy farms we saw were in Elberta and Newcastle.

Cache County had the most small dairy farms and honestly these were the ones with the worst conditions.

In order for any mammal to produce milk, she must have given birth. In the dairy industry, these cows are forcibly impregnated by a person inserting their arm far into the cow’s rectum in order to position the uterus, and then forcing an instrument into her vagina. The narrow chute in which female cows are restrained to do this is often referred to as a “rape rack”. See video demonstrating how this is done. Once the cow has carried her baby for 9 months, she is ready to give birth. Her baby is taken from her less than 48 hours after she has given birth. A bond between a mother and her newly born baby is immensely strong, so you can imagine how horrifying and sad this is for mom and baby. I have met calves newly separated from their mom, and they try to cry out but have lost their voices from crying so much for their mom. At only a few only days old, some tried to “nurse” my hand and fingers because they were so desperate for their mother’s milk.

Male calves born into the diary industry are either stuffed into crates to be slaughtered in a few months as veal or sold off as beef cattle. Female calves are chained or fenced into extremely small areas called hutches. They are denied room to play and be social with others. They will remain in these hutches for up to 4 months until they are transferred to group pens which can be extremely stressful for them.

They will never see their mom again and will repeat the same process she did.

I don’t have children but I often hear mothers talk about how much they hate pumping and how sore they get. I have spoken with mothers who would literally kill anyone who tried to hurt their baby. This is what these mothers go through day in and day out until she is forcibly impregnated again to repeat the process, produce more milk and then sent to slaughter at 4 years of age. I have to ask, put yourself in the position of these mothers. Your baby is taken from you so another species can consume the milk that was meant to grow your baby. You become so sore and often infected from being hooked up to metal machines that you can hardly walk at times. Nature is pretty amazing in that every mammal (we are not separate from this) produces just enough growth fluid for an infant to grow healthy and strong. Obviously there are individual issues that can arise but we surely don’t need to be consuming another species growth fluid as a baby and especially not into adulthood.

We came across calves that looked sick and malnourished as well as a few dead calves.

dead dairy cow

dead dairy calf

Amy and I were actually able to get pretty close to a few of these dairies. The number of dairy cows at any given location was astounding when you think about the amount of resources it takes within the industry. It takes 1000 gallons of water for 1 gallon of milk. So you wonder where our water is going. Just one dairy cow consumes 100 pounds of food a day and produces 120 pounds of waste per day. The waste has to go somewhere.

The toughest part is that even though it was overwhelmingly sad to witness babies chained to hutches in the hot sun, we were able to go back to our hotel that night and eat dinner. They were all still there. Some I have visited in the last few months are all still there. Chained, confined and missing their mom.

Something I have always believed to be true is that humans are compassionate and empathetic. We want to believe we are making good choices. There is a reason a lot of these farms are hidden from public view. If they were transparent, very few would support them. I do not doubt that there are farmers that do care for their animals and most likely don’t enjoy sending the animals they have raised to slaughter. But because of our demand for this idea that we need animal protein, these animals will continue to be betrayed. No matter the farm, at the end of the day, animals will be needlessly slaughtered. ALL the nutrients we need comes from plants. Why are we filtering it through an innocent animal? Amy and I did this tour to see for ourselves just how hidden and unapproachable some of these farms are, to share our experience with you, to create a map so the public can see where these farms are located, and to inspire you to not only choose a vegan lifestyle but to stand up to these unjust practices that are 100% unnecessary. When you see animals being confined or transported, take a picture, write about it, talk about it, share it! Get involved with animal rights groups, outreach groups, volunteer at animal sanctuaries or start your own, leaflet, write letters, start petitions, protest, reach out to environmental groups and share with them that the number 1 contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use, deforestation, ocean dead zones and species loss is animal agriculture. Reach out to health organizations, doctors and dietitians and ask why they aren’t addressing the number one cause of heart disease, cancer and diabetes and prescribing a plant based diet. These issues must be talked about, action must be taken and the time is NOW.

Meet Kasper: The Generation of Hope

By: Jessica Rasekhi

      Kasper has been raised on a plant powered diet ever since the day he was born and he has learned that he doesn’t need to eat animals to live a healthy and happy life. He has also been taught from a young age that all of his fellow animals on planet Earth are creatures that feel happiness, sadness and love…just like he does…and should be treated with kindness and respect. He loves being around all types of animals, but he has always loved pigs!  Among his stuffed animal “pig friends” are all names of pigs that he has chosen that have impacted his life in a positive way: Esther from “Esther the Wonder Pig” at Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary.  Wilbur from “Charlotte’s Web” and last, but not least, his two “local favorites” Wilma Jean and Ponyboy from Sage Mountain.  He chose all of the names himself and he will continue to be a young advocate for all animals and hopefully inspire others to do the same!

   Kasper and his pig friends, Ponyboy, Wilma Jean, Wilbur and Esther

“I like pigs because they are really talented and funny! They have a good snorty, sniffing nose and they remind me of my Boston Terrier dog, Domino. I love pigs!” – Kasper, 5 yrs old

  Kasper visits Ponyboy and Wilma Jean at the sanctuary

  We can not get enough of Kasper and his gigantic heart and sweet smile!

 

The Reluctant Vegan

By: Alisha Niswander 

I grew up on a farm. I was surrounded by animals. Animal products had a place at the table nearly every time we sat down to eat. This was Ohio. My family had animals. I remember watching my grandpa butcher chickens and seeing them flying around headless. I also remember feeding baby cows out of a huge baby bottle. Looking back I was probably feeding them hormones so they could grow big, quickly and be sent to slaughter.

In fourth grade, I joined 4H. I was in both Girls 4H, where I took a nutrition and cooking class, and Boys 4H where I had pigs and rabbits that eventually I took to the county fair. I loved my pigs and rabbits. They were pets. I taught my pig to walk around our property, guided by the gentle tap of a cane on her jowls. Her name was Elvira. I learned how to care for her, by feeding her, washing her and cleaning her pen. One time she and some others escaped the pen and went haywire in my Grandpa’s apple orchard, eating all the fallen apples that had fermented. They got quite tipsy! The fair came. I showed Elvira, with pride. I walked her around the arena and was awarded 4th place. I showed my bunnies too. I remember what I was wearing. I was wearing bright blue pants and a white shirt with ruffles and a silky ribbon. The bunny kept trying to eat the ribbon and I thought that was so cute. I wasn’t concerned what the judge thought. This was my pet and she was being funny.

Toward the end of the week it was time to sell Elvira. I remember standing in the middle of this huge arena, by myself, and the auctioneer giving the specs on Elvira and then the bidding began. The bidding was a price/pound. I think she went for about $250.00 which at the time was a lot of money! After I paid my parents back for her food, I had a decent amount of money I could put in the bank for college. This was really exciting. However, I didn’t have Elvira. I never saw her again. I was sad but I had to get over it. This was what we did in the country. One thing you learn in the country is where you food comes from. You realize quickly that chicken or hamburger doesn’t just show up on a piece of styrofoam wrapped in plastic in the grocery store. This peculiar package in the deli section was an animal.

In high school I worked at a chicken farm. I don’t know how many thousands of chickens were in the barns. I literally could not go in there. The dust, ammonia smell, feces and noise was overwhelming and would send me into an allergic reaction. I worked out front packaging the eggs. This was my first (and luckily only) experience working at a factory farm.

I experimented with vegetarianism in high school, mainly for shock value. I quickly traded in the pot roast for romaine lettuce with fat free ranch dressing. I had no idea how to be a healthy vegetarian, but it felt liberating to say “I’m a vegetarian.” In college I started eating meat again, because it was easy and I didn’t really know how to do anything else. Years later, I only ate fish. Then, I only ate meat where I knew the source. A while ago, I gave it up all together. The last meat I was eating was the free range chicken that my parents raise. I would say I was probably about 90% vegan for quite a while. About a year ago, I gave up all animal products. It is not hard. I feed my body with plants, fruits and legumes. “WHERE do you get your protein?” Once in awhile when I do track what I’m eating on average I’m getting about 80-100g of protein per day.

Why am I a reluctant vegan? I hate labels. I don’t like to put myself in a corner where I’m being watched. I remember someone saying “You’re vegan right?” my response was “Uh… I don’t eat animal product.” He said, “Come on! We need you!” I realized then, that my food choices make others take note. I should seize this opportunity to be a good example and to inspire others to make different food choices. My hope is that people will realize vegan food is amazingly good! I am constantly complimented on my cooking so that’s a start! Vegan food is the best choice for our planet and for our health. Plant based diets are quickly gaining speed and I can’t think of any other way I want to fuel my body.

Alisha Niswander is an endurance athlete and the owner of Mountain Vista Touring. She guides clients through different mountain activities fueling them with her plant based protein bars and energy bites. www.parkcityhiking.com

Follow Alisha on instagram @mountainvistatouring to see her latest adventures

The Plant Powered Challenge

By: Dave Swartz

It was just this morning heading westbound down Parley’s Canyon on interstate 80 when I slowly passed yet another animal transport truck filled to capacity with pigs, swine, or hogs. I’m actually not sure what the correct term is. I guess it depends on who you ask. My vehicle and the transport truck were going roughly the same speed so I had a little time to peek in. I’m not sure how many motorists do the same and actually look through the metal slats to see who is inside one of these trailers. I’m hoping many but I’m guessing only a few. This sight immediately makes me stop my thoughts and have a moment for the animals that are surely  bound for the slaughterhouse. As much as this sight breaks my heart, I do not feel any hate or anger towards the driver, the trucking company, the producers, or the processors. I try my absolute hardest to send only good thoughts and absolute love to the animals inside. Every time I see one of these trucks the same question in some form or another pops into my head. It’s usually something along the lines of “How in this day and age is raising and slaughtering animals for food still a thing?”

What we know in 2017  is the science based fact that the more animal protein one consumes the more health problems and disease one will have. It is science based fact that animal agriculture is responsible for most of the water pollution, ocean dead zones, and deforestation on this planet. Not to mention it is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole transportation industry combined.

It was not until my 22nd year on this planet before I realized the amount of suffering I caused simply because of my regular “western” diet. When I realized that not only would a plant-based diet or vegan diet eliminate this needless suffering but it would also be the healthiest diet for my body and least destructive of all diets on our environment, it simply was a no brainer to make the switch.

Early next month, Sage Mountain is sponsoring our  10 day “Plant Powered Challenge” with local fitness expert Kent Maurer. I strongly encourage you to sign up and see for yourself how empowering a plant based vegan diet can be.

Keep in mind that nothing will do more for human health, this planet’s environment, and most importantly reduce suffering, than removing animal products from our plates…and that is a science based fact.

*If you would like more information on our 10 day Plant Powered Challenge please email Kent Maurer at kwmaurer@gmail.com or Dave Swartz at dave@sagemtn.org

Ponyboy, My Story

By: Ponyboy

I will have to say that it’s been a whirlwind since Johnny and I broke free from our captors in Riverside County, California. See, what many of you don’t know is that this was a planned getaway from the beginning and not some spontaneous guy’s night out romp.

Let me help paint the picture with some of the few details that I remember from that evening. You will have to cut me some slack as I was only 3 months old at the time and my memories are vague. I’m sure many of you would also have a hard time remembering what you were doing at that age. I can assure you that planning a daring escape was not in the cards. In fact, our lives were meant to be doomed from the beginning.

Johnny and I were being raised in what humans would call a backyard butcher situation. What that basically means is that we lived in cramped quarters where our humans would raise and grossly over feed us until we were ready to be turned into lamb chops and bacon. Now, let me stop there for a minute as I have an issue with this. At what point do I become bacon? When your species dies you don’t transform into another thing or food item. Apparently Johnny and I transform into something completely different. I’m not bacon. I’m a pig and a damned smart one at that. When it’s time for me to go I will become a deceased pig and not this “bacon” thing.

Many humans know for some reason or another that we pigs are intelligent creatures. This is not by chance but by hard work and numerous sleepless nights studying. In my studies as a young piglet I noticed that when humans would consume my deceased fellow friends, or “bacon”, that those humans would then become sick with chronic disease such as heart disease. So let me get this straight, humans kill pigs like me and then we turn around and kill them with the number one killer of all humans, heart disease.

As Johnny and I laid there realizing how counterproductive this all was, or as Johnny would say “batshit crazy” (Johnny had a way with words), we realized we wanted to do something about it before it was too late. So for a few weeks we  contrived a plan to break out of our tiny quarters and make our move. The daughter of our captor would not be the best at locking our gate after coming into feed us in the evenings. After a few times of seeing this we knew that we had to make our move and make our move we did. It was a breezy September evening and Johnny and I bolted. We ran and ran until we couldn’t run anymore. Then we ran some more. Then we walked. We walked miles and miles through farmland and neighborhoods until we were just couldn’t go anymore. Sometime around midday the next day some strangers stopped us and coaxed us into a truck. We realized this was animal control and figured that it was better than where we were before so we decided to get off our feet for a while. After a few days at the animal control facility, the workers there didn’t have the necessary means to hold us much longer and placed a call to Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA to ask if they would take Johnny and I. This is where things made a huge turn for us. Farm Sanctuary is the largest farm animal welfare group in the country and through a miracle picked us to come to their home. Johnny and I knew that from here on out were not going to become bacon and lamb chops or contribute to the number one killer of humans.

this is Johnny and I at Farm Sanctuary

As we grew up at Farm Sanctuary I realized I was becoming a lot bigger than Johnny and needed some more space. It was at this time two people from Utah (wherever that is) representing Sage Mountain came to visit me. They said they had tons of space and would love for me to come and live there. After a few months, vet visits, and a short stay in Northern California, I was ready to take a road trip with my new girlfriend Wilma Jean to Utah. I won’t say much about Wilma Jean here as apparently she had a blog written about her a little bit ago. I’m still trying to wrap my big ears around this as I met the Sage Mountain team first and should have been the first blog. I will let it slide as to not hurt Wilma Jean’s feelings and not to mention I don’t want to upset her. She outweighs me by 100 lbs and can give me the business at anytime she so desires.

Maggie and I nose to nose

Exploring with Wilma Jean at Sage Mountain(I have definitely filled out some)

Since being here I have made new friends especially with Maggie the German Shepherd. She follows me around all day and won’t leave me alone. I have told her numerous times that I have a girlfriend but it doesn’t seem to stop her. I look forward to more animal friends arriving at Sage Mountain during the spring and summer months.

I get to wake up to amazing sunrises, lots of space, sometimes snow cover (still getting used to that), and usually Wilma Jean snuggled next to me. Here I explore, dig, chew, bathe, get muddy, get muddy some more, eat, sleep, receive belly rubs and treats, and am adored by my humans.  I get to be a pig here and that’s all I ever wanted. I will continue to be a voice for all my animal friends out there and  be the change I seek in this world.

one of my favorite times of the day

Oink Oink

Ponyboy

Welcome Wilma Jean!

Wilma Jean came to us last year after a kind man fell in love with her and stepped in to protect her from harm.

The man had been temporarily taking care of Wilma Jean for his son, who was raising her for meat. But after spending just a short amount of time with her, the father came to see her for the special individual she was, and he couldn’t bear the thought of anything but happiness in her future.

 

Wilma Jean and Ponyboy were our first 2 rescued/farmed animal ambassadors/additions here at Sage Mountain, thanks to a collaboration with our friends at Farm Sanctuary. The FS team was contacted about a young, black and white female pig, in early September. She was described as “he” initially—the man who called FS thought she was male. He called because she was scheduled to be slaughtered the following week. His son had raised her as an attempt at “homesteading,” though the caller admitted to me that last year’s pig was still in the freezer. The son’s life had become too complicated with work and family responsibilities, and the responsibilities of caring for the pig had fallen on the father. Of course, once the father began caring for the pig on a daily basis, he was able to see her as an individual, and it became more difficult for him to imagine her going into the freezer like the last pig. He spoke to his son about sending her to a sanctuary, and the son agreed to surrender her if placement was found. That’s when the father gave FS a call. He really was the kindest man on the phone—just so caring and gentle, and FS could tell that he had really made the connection through this animal. 

Wilma Jean is quickly adapting to being a mountain pig.

Wilma Jean, as she is so lovingly referred to as now, arrived just last week to her forever home here at Sage Mountain. Read her write up on Farm Sanctuary’s blog, with her partner-in-crime, Pony Boy. We feel so fortunate to get to know this brilliant soul, we have fallen deeply in love with her personality! She is sweet, gentle, and a bit shy, but very curious. She is loving exploring the sage brush and snow — new experiences for her new life!

Remember Me: I am You

By: Lauren Lockey

A few days ago I stood  in front of the mirror, naked in the flesh with the desire to FEEL the rawness of my own heart. I needed to be with it. Be myself, with me.  With tears rolling down my face and my heart aching for all the injustices in the world now amplified with my fear of our soon to be president elect, I struggled. I asked myself how and why? The questions rolled through my head. I thought of my 5 young nieces and what this meant for them as young women. What will this mean for young men and their view of power? Will minorities be alienated even more? Will the lives of  animals  matter even less? Will mother earth and her signs of depletion be denied even more than before? The oppressed now significantly more oppressed? Our country and our world divided, depressed, and enraged?

I reminded myself that the people of our country spoke and whether we are celebrating or running for the hills we MUST remember one thing, authenticity. The transparency and alignment to what is. For me that means never apologizing again for being  an emotional feeling being who has the capacity and desire to empathize with others. Yes I wear my heart on my sleeve but is that a bad thing?!  Perhaps that is what has been lacking this whole time. Our ability to empathize, feel compassion, and then take action. Do something!  That is what made this election more devastating AND more motivating than in years past.

The last few weeks have been rough  to say the least.  My work and perhaps my rent for inhabiting this beautiful planet is speaking up for a large percentage of the oppressed, animals.  Everywhere I look they are either being exploited, used, abused, or eaten by humans. Men in orange vests surrounded the outer limits of my property looking for their next victim. 300 cows with number tags in their ears stared through my windows every morning because they knew I wouldn’t harm them. I observed and spent time with them and learned that they have daily joys and fears. They communicate, form very strong friendships, and share the responsibilities of watching over their young. The bond between a mother and her calf is absolutely beautiful. So of course I feel tremendous sadness when that bond was broken after only a few weeks. I watched them  get rounded up and separated. Their cries were heartbreaking. Next stop? Feedlot then slaughter. A trust broken and families torn apart.

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I  bore witness to pigs in a transport truck that was pulled over. Their bodies crammed  so tightly together that they couldn’t move. Some frothing at the mouth because they were so dehydrated. Their breathing heavy from fear and exhaustion. I voiced to them that I was sorry for what we had done to them and that I will do everything I possibly can to stop it. I pet their ears and peered into the slots of the truck while I told them I loved them. Tears welled up in my eyes and at that moment, the driver returned and confronted me while saying “yup they will be bacon and pork chops tomorrow!” Right there and then I ask myself “how did we get here?” “What happened to empathy?” Is this lack of connection why the US is considered the most depressed country in the world?  In my opinion empathy may be the only way forward.

I studied all the blemishes on my body, the lines in my face and  felt proud and empowered. It takes tremendous strength to carry the weight and sadness of the world. Let’s be honest, we messed up as humans. True power comes from recognizing that and moving forward from a place of empathy and compassion. I picked my stomach up off the bathroom floor and re-membered who I am. A woman who feels deeply.

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A pig is a dog

By: Lauren Lockey

It’s difficult to imagine dog and cat meat on the menu in Park City. They  are loved so much here that just the thought of it creates deep anger and disgust. We respect and love our four legged furry creatures so much that we come together as a community to find loving homes for those in need, raise our voice of any inclination of abuse, and fight city council for more off leash areas!

This is not the case in countries such as China. One example is their yearly event called the Yulin Dog meat festival. 10,000 dogs and cats expect to be eaten during the 10 day event. Dogs and cats are cramped together in wire cages and often transported  1000 miles without food or water. It is one of the most horrific scenes  you can imagine. These animals are often beaten and tortured because instilling fear and stress into their bodies is believed to make their flesh more tasty and desirable. Hung by the neck and beaten with a bat, mouths stapled shut, boiled and skinned alive are just a few of the torture tactics.

yulin-dog-meat-festival

It is gruesome and heartbreaking to read or listen to hero, Marc Ching tell his story of going undercover in these areas as a dog/cat meat buyer.  Watch a short interview with him here.

However, as we gawk at the very idea of consuming dog or cat meat, most of us have no issue with biting into the flesh of a cow, chicken, lamb, fish, or pig. Maybe it’s too difficult to wrap our minds around such a number as 150 BILLION animals slaughtered each year for human consumption. Therefore today I am going to keep it rather simple and focus on pigs. That brings the number down to 115 MILLION slaughtered each year. That’s quite a few lives taken for  bacon, sausage, ham, pepperoni, and pork which are  considered to be just as carcinogenic as cigarettes. In other words, they cause cancer. In blunt words, feeding children these foods is like giving them a pack of smokes!

Besides the health effects, this is an ethical issue that must be brought to light again and again. These are 115 million individuals who endure similar lives as those dogs and cats being butchered in other countries.

For a moment, imagine spending 4-6 months in an airplane seat.  Yet you can’t get up and stretch your legs or go to the bathroom. We can barely handle a few hours right?! That is the life of a pig in the meat industry.

virtualgestationcrate

 

Their natural life span is 10-12 years but instead they spend 4-6 months(longer if it’s a sow in which they are continually impregnated for up to 4 years) in a metal crate on a cement floor where they are fed specifically to make market weight in a short time without the ability to move or care for their young. You can imagine the stress and boredom this causes when pigs naturally like to burrow in dirt, be social, and oh I don’t know, turn around and walk. Then,  just like the dogs and cats, they are transported for long hours/days without food or water in extreme temperatures to the slaughterhouse.

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The transport is similar to being stuffed with other humans in an elevator. Except it’s not just for a few floor levels, it’s for a few days. No water,  no food, and covered in fecal matter.  Pigs are actually very clean animals when given the space.  They don’t sweat naturally so they enjoy mud as it keeps them cool. In factory farms and transport trucks they do not have that chance. As piglets, their tails and tips of teeth are docked without painkillers. This is because the crowded conditions cause such stress that pigs will bite eachother to death. You will often find them chewing the bars of their crates.

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One single processing plant slaughters 1000 pigs per hour. Yes, per hour! How can such a large scale number not be questioned? Have we become so desensitized and ignorant because of pleasure and convenience?  Often due to improper stunning, pigs are still alive when they reach the scalding hot water or have their throats slit.  Sound similar to dogs and cats being boiled alive? This is in no way humane. Just the sheer number per hour make it impossible. Therefore, it’s torture. In fact, humane and slaughter are complete opposites! One can’t humanely slaughter someone. It makes no logical sense!

Life matters to all beings.  Your life matters to you. My life matters to me. Rats lives matter to them. Cats lives matter to them. Dogs lives matter to them. Pigs lives matter just as much. They are not all the same. They have unique personalities. Some are extroverts, some introverts, etc.. Just like our dogs and cats we love so dearly at home.

This video gives you an idea of what the life of a factory farmed pig is like.  I ask you to be courageous because we must bear witness to create change. No matter how hard it is to watch it’s not even a fraction of what these animals go through. You think it’s difficult to give up taste and convenience? Think how difficult it is for these animals destined for our plates. We must begin to think outside ourselves.

What you can do:

  • Stop giving your money to the meat and dairy industry. The abuse and slaughter will continue as long as we pay for it and demand it.
  • Educate yourself. Watch films such as “Forks over Knives,” “Cowspiracy,” and “Earthlings.” More great films coming out this year and next!
  • Make a plan! Everyone is different! Some can give up animal products overnight, some need to be gradual. Try meatless Mondays or meatless 2 days a week! As you gradually introduce more plant foods and grains, animal products will slowly disappear from your plate.
  • Join Park City Utah Vegan Fb Page or SLC Vegan FB page for great restaurants, recipes, events, etc..
  • Try new recipes and cook yummy plant based meals for your family and friends.
  • Explore all the plant based meats and milks out there! These foods are becoming more and more available!
  • Leave the animals alone! Sorry..but seriously!

This is not some cult or religion. It is about looking outside ourselves and opening our eyes to the injustices everywhere around us. This choice stems from the ability to educate ourselves and realize how ingrained and brainwashed we are from these multi billion dollar industries. Our government spends roughly $40 billion each year to subsidize the meat and dairy industry. We are constantly bombarded with commercials and slogans to keep up the unhealthy habit. Do you think these industries are really looking out for our best interest? No they are looking out for THEIR best interest! And it all happens on the backs, skins, blood, and bones of sentient beings that value their lives like we do.

We are here for just a speck of time. Let us all leave a legacy of kindness and compassion. Even the world’s greatest scientists and thinkers agree!

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Sage Mountain Celebrates All Mothers

happy mothers dayBy Natalie Blanton

We at Sage Mountain are celebrating all mothers today, both human and animal.

Animal agriculture co-opts and profits off of motherhood in every way. We all know slaughterhouses are horrific. But, in this industrialized nation of ours, the “meat” and dairy industries are very much tied to the productive capabilities of a female cow, chicken, or pig, and the systemic control over that body, her life chances, and the offspring she is forced to bear, repeatedly, but will never be able to raise naturally.

9hphD8wWJ9nUFhd7W7R3GXWCDt25AS_975_compprodIn celebrating Mothers today — we ask you to observe the vital questions that link back to motherhood and animals — who had to birth that animal to then be raised and “harvested”? What does motherhood look like in factory farming? Why do we have a constant supply of milk? Why are we the only mammals who drink milk into our later life?

Think about the processes of production and the animals behind much of what we eat, use, buy, and wear. Within the dairy industry, not only are these rape racks a horrific “industry standard,” but further still, newborn cows are ripped from their mother immediately after birth. Male calves go directly into the veal industry and the females begin growing so that they can produce offspring and milk as quick as possible. Today, factory farmed dairy cows produce 100 pounds of milk per day–10 times that of cows a few decades ago. The increase is due to bovine growth hormones and constant breeding to increase milk production. Imagine being chemically induced to produce more milk for the financial benefit of another being, against your will, all while having your baby stripped from you and taken to their own tragic fate.

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The egg industry is equally as vile, what with hens crammed into tiny cages and forced to grow and lay multiple eggs daily via hormones. Male chicks are simply “disposed of” or thrown in a grinder while alive — viewed as worthless in their inability to lay eggs or produce breast meat. “Breeding sows” or pigs in the “pork” industry are kept in gestation crates for their entire life–not allowed to move, merely a fuel station for their piglets and kept pregnant, lactating, and miserable. And these are just the cows, pigs, and chickens of the animal agriculture system — the unfortunate truth is that this fate happens to these and millions of other animals for human “need” and “benefit” every single day. By choosing not to take part in these systems of torture, suffering, and exploitation, you are making a deliberate and powerful, and, I would argue, “Honor your Mother [Earth]” statement.

Join us in celebrating mothers today, and everyday — be that yourself, or the mothers in your life, inclusive of the cows, pigs, chickens, etc. who are unable to mother, nurture, or live naturally within the animal agriculture system.

Adapted from original post by author