Click below to read this guest editorial written by founders Lauren Lockey and Dave Swartz for the Park Record.
Planet Earth, just like us, is a living breathing organism and just like humans when it gets sick, it heats up to kill the virus (disease). Well, right now our planet is sick, very sick and it’s heating up big time to kill the disease and that disease is us, humans!
The instances of larger hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, airborne diseases, dirty/lack of water and rampant violence are a direct result of the human species taking more than we are giving back. When I was born in the 1950’s there were two billion people on this planet, today there are 7.4 billion, projected to hit 12 billion by 2100. Along with that human growth has come with it an industrial revolution in the form of energy development, transportation and agriculture that this planet has never seen before. The excess heat being produced by 7.4 humans is being trapped in our atmosphere and absorbed by our oceans. Hurricanes feed off those warm waters; wildfires feed off the dry land conditions. Even if you are not convinced that humans are contributing to these problems, shouldn’t we ALL be on the same page to better our planet and all it’s occupants?
The most efficient way to deal with a disease is to get to the root of the problem, not just ignore it, take a pill or apply a band-aid but stop the problem at its root cause. When it comes to human health, the root of most health problems is what we eat three times a day as well as other abuses we do to our bodies. With education and support, humans can improve their diet, incorporate regular exercise into their lives and stop bad habits like smoking, alcohol and drug abuse. When it comes to planetary health the root of the problem is us, so what can we do about it?
I, like everyone else, want to come home to a warm home every day, I want to drive my car anywhere I want, go on periodic trips around the world by plane. The energy and transportation industry is very important to the human lifestyle, but thanks to the many visionaries our species has produced, we are now seeing the beginning of an energy and transportation industry based on renewable energy in the form of the sun and the wind and that’s awesome. A number of individuals are switching to solar energy for their homes and electric cars, but not all of us are financially able to do so as of yet. The time frame to switch to 100% renewable is going to be long and expensive and will be fought the whole way, by industries profiting on the present system.
But there is an industry which most people aren’t aware of that is the biggest contributor (51%) to the warming and polluting of our planet more than energy and all the transportation in this world combined and that’s animal agriculture. Because of our demand for animal protein an industry has been born in less than 100 years that is the leading cause of:
- Deforestation–we need more trees, not less, to absorb more carbon dioxide and breathe out clean oxygen we all need to survive).
- Water Shortage—there is only 1% of fresh water available to all life on this planet and animal agriculture takes close to 50% of that fresh water. The rest of our planets water is salt (97%) and ice (2%).
- Food Shortage—the reason animal agriculture needs so much water is to grow grain, corn, soy, alfalfa, and hay to raise the 70 billion land animals being raised for food annually.
- Ocean Dead Zones—because those 70 billion animals create over 100 times more waste (feces) than humans with no sanitation system. That animal waste ends up in our streams, rivers and oceans killing all life it comes in contact with.
- Airborne Diseases—to keep those billions of animals from dying of disease during their short life before they are sent to slaughter, they are giving 80% of all antibiotics available in this world, creating antibiotic resistant airborne diseases that spread quickly across our sick planet.
- Human Sickness—the science is overwhelming today showing that an animal based diet is the leading cause of virtually every disease humans are experiencing.
- Human Violence—violence creates more violence and there is not a more violent industry that the raising of billions of animals for food…food that is eventually killing us from those animals grave and that grave is the human body!
Fortunately, there is “one single act” that all humans on earth can participate in and can do so at their very next meal and every meal after that, which will force an end factory animal farming and begin the healing of our planet (and us) immediately. That “one single act” is to stop eating, wearing and using animals for ANY resource, it is not necessary in the modern world we live in now! Everything on this earth revolves around money and demand determines where that money goes, we as a human species need to demand:
- Plant Based Foods—grown directly for human consumption and not filtered through an animal first.
- Solar Power—the sun is the center of all life on this planet and is given to us freely.
- Compassion—to treat every animal on this earth (humans and non humans) with respect, compassion and love.
One Single Act that EVERY ONE of us can do RIGHT NOW and FOREVER, to better ALL life on planet earth, as well as planet earth itself!
Kent Maurer—citizen of planet earth
By: Chris Shapard and Craig Gordon:
The students at Treasure Mountain Junior High learn about the power of plant-based nutrition
“How many of you think about where your food comes from?” A few students hesitantly raise their hands, most keep them down.
When most of us sit down to eat, about to sink our teeth into a burger, we see a burger, not a dead cow. Behind that seemingly innocent paper-wrapped circular mass of bread, vegetables and condiments, there is a sinister story that everyone who eats food needs to know.
Commuting around the Salt Lake Valley, our plant-based tribe is increasingly aware of an endless parade of livestock trucks, hauling animals to slaughterhouses. My stomach turns and I get nauseous at the sight of these trucks. I want to look away and ignore the problem, but my heart and my eyes look to connect with just one of the souls on board to say “I am sorry.”
Over the course of two days, Sage Mountain’s Lauren Lockey teamed up with local plant-based athlete Craig Gordon and Chris Shapard of the non-profit Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC) to educate hundreds of students on the benefits of a plant-based diet, and to raise awareness of the consequences and power of their everyday food choices.
The animal products people buy in restaurants and grocery stores have been so transformed that the animals who suffered and died for chicken wings, a hot dog, or slice of cheese, have been completely hidden behind a deceivingly benign image of a picturesque little farm on the package. Happy cows, smiling pigs, fish frolicking in the ocean… brilliant disconnected marketing ploys. What’s not included on those packages is the fact that 99% of animals today are raised on giant factory farms, and that billions of chickens spend their entire lives crammed into a cage with each having less space on average than a standard sheet of paper.
Students gasped when they learned that hundreds of millions of male chicks in the egg industry are ground up alive simply because they don’t produce any eggs and therefore they are of “no use” to the industry. Like most of us, the students didn’t think about the baby cows who are taken away from their mothers so that the baby’s milk can be sold for human consumption, and the billions of animals whose lives were cut drastically short because we have unconsciously prioritized our taste buds over their right to live. This is the story for those raised on small farms, factory farms, humane, cage free, organic, or grass fed.
The presentation also disclosed the immense environmental toll of animal agriculture. To produce a single beef patty, it takes upwards of 660 gallons of water. Animal agriculture is also a leading cause of deforestation, water pollution, and produces more greenhouse gasses than the entire transportation sector – a fact that resonates with all of us here in Utah whose winter wonderland is becoming increasingly threatened by rising temperatures.
The animal products that take such an immense toll on animals and our environment are killing us as well. Animal products cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and the students learned that the choices they make now determine their health in the future.
The students learned about about Pony Boy and Wilma Jean (or PB & J), who get to live out their lives in peace at the beautiful Sage Mountain sanctuary.
The good news is that the power is in our hands to fix these problems with the food choices we make everyday – and these students are the ones who will be leading the way. It is our responsibility to educate them and embrace their innate compassion. Even though we covered environment, health, and ethics equally, students were most impacted by the suffering animals endure. They realized they don’t want to be a part of it. We can choose compassion over convenience, health over habit, and sustainability over appetite. When we make the simple choice to eat plant-based foods instead of animal based foods, we are taking a stand for animals, people and our planet. We may not be able to see it, but when we choose plant-based foods, we can unlock the cage for countless other animals just like PB&J.
Please continue to follow Sage Mountain via Instagram and Facebook for individual interviews of students from Treasure Mountain!
Guest blog by: Stephanie Mathers – Ally of the Sage Mountain Team and the Animal Rights Movement
I wasn’t surprised when I scrolled through my newsfeed on Tuesday, January 17th to see cries of outrage by my social media network over the leaked video from the set of A Dog’s Purpose. In the video, a German shepherd named Hercules is directed to perform a water stunt by his trainer. The dog shows signs of distress in his body language and his actions, but he is continually pressed to perform.
The fact that my newsfeed was filled with friends condemning the actions in the video and demanding a boycott of the film didn’t stand out at first; after all, many of those in my social media networks are animal rights activists and individuals passionate about animal causes. However, as I looked closer at who was posting about the incident, I noticed the more than half of the people on my feeds who were publicly upset were meat eaters.
First, let’s be clear that what happened to Hercules that day was wrong. Since the video’s release, the premiere of the film has been canceled and there is an ongoing investigation by American Humane. The question we must ask ourselves is this: Why was it wrong?
Well, anyone who has loved a pet knows that animals experience a wide range of emotions, the strongest of which might be fear. The fact that the studio has since stated Hercules was not ultimately forced to perform the stunt that day doesn’t seem to matter to anyone, and for good reason: it’s wrong to knowingly inflict any level of fear, pain, or suffering upon a being for our own purposes. In this case, the purpose was a film, but what if the purpose were something different? What if it were another form of entertainment, like a circus? Or, what if it were for food? Moreover, what if it were a different animal, someone other than a dog or a cat?
If you value an animal like Hercules enough to condemn his suffering, then you already have all the beliefs you need to face the real dog’s purpose in this story: the only difference between the suffering of Hercules and the suffering of billions of animals slaughtered for food each year is your own acceptance of each action as dictated by your cultural paradigm. After all, many countries do raise, slaughter, and eat German shepherds, giving them the same treatment as pigs, chickens, and cows in the US – that’s part of their cultural paradigm.
Pigs dream at night just like people and have consistently passed intelligence measures comparable to a 3 year old child and beyond those of most dogs. Baby chicks quickly grasp the concept of object permanence, an intelligence marker that it takes a human baby a year or more to reach. Cows form strong friendships and can be taught to problem solve using tools, such as pressing a lever to operate a drinking device. Beyond these facts is the visceral experience that comes from the opportunity to look into the eyes of any animal: the sentience there is undeniable if we allow ourselves to see it. Surely the emotional and intellectual lives of these animals are just as rich as those of dogs and cats.
Yet even animals in the meat industry marketed with the feel-good label “humane” still have to be loaded onto a truck to go to a USDA-FSIS slaughter and processing facility (this is the only legal way to slaughter, process, and sell meat in the United States – even meat labeled as pasture raised, pasture finished, organic, grass-fed, etc.). Every one of these victims is starved and deprived of water during that multi-day journey to the USDA facility. They line up and march toward the killing floor, watching their peers ahead of them murdered, the smell of blood and the sounds of terror filling the air. These descriptions don’t even touch on the horrific, day-to-day perils suffered by animals in feedlots and factory farms that become the vast majority of meat sold in the United States. Certainly these experiences of fear and panic far surpass what Hercules went through in 60 seconds of footage before he was allowed to stop attempting a stunt.
Culture and tradition can be great things, but they can also be flat out wrong. Those willing to remove their cultural lenses for only a moment will quickly realize that the fear felt by Hercules in this short clip is nothing compared to the suffering of animals used by our society for food and entertainment. At the end of the day, Hercules probably curled up on a cozy bed and got extra treats for a hard day’s work; in contrast, the animals within our agricultural system suffer from birth to brutal death.
For those of you who were outraged by what happened to Hercules and still consume animal products, I humbly ask you to challenge your cultural conditioning and then to educate yourself on the realities of animal agriculture. The reality is that the animals our society victimizes in the name of food have just as much capacity to feel fear and pain as a dog. The reality is that many of these animals actually have higher intelligence markers than the animals we domesticate as pets. The reality is that no matter what advertising tells you, there are no happy cows in the food industry (or chickens or pigs or goats).
One of the most encouraging things for me about this whole situation has been seeing the quick actions that were taken almost immediately after public outcry. So many dog and animal lovers spoke out, that the industry had to respond. Furthermore, many individuals agreed to boycott the film because they did not want to support an animal being treated with cruelty. What could happen if we raised a collective voice against the suffering of animals other than dogs? What could happen if people decided they didn’t want to contribute to any type of animal suffering? I’m inspired just imagining the possibilities.
By: David Swartz
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide
What is more shocking is that this percentage is more than all transportation sectors combined. That means animal agriculture contributes more to human caused global warming than every car, truck, train, plane and ship on this planet. Why as a society are we more focused on reducing climate change through innovation in transportation and energy sectors than we are on changing our diet? This is one of those “Freakonomic” moments that is still hard to wrap my head around. As much as I fully agree with the conversion of our energy and transportation industries to renewable clean energy, an equal amount or more resources should be allocated to the conversion of our diets from a western diet to a plant based diet if we really want to tackle the problem of human caused climate change.
More water in Utah is used to grow one crop than is used for every city, town, commercial and agriculture business in the state and it’s a crop we don’t even eat.
The alfalfa being grown here is fed to animals for human consumption. My local city government has created programs to reduce water consumption such as reductions of lawn watering, encouragement of taking shorter showers, making sure water pipes are not leaking, etc. These are all nice programs however, residential water usage accounts for just 5% of all water usage in the state. If everyone in the state stopped taking showers, watering lawns, flushing toilets, and for that matter stopped drinking water, we would still only have a 5% reduction of total freshwater usage. This is another “Freakonomic” moment that boggles my mind. If our city really wants to decrease water usage it would highly encourage a change in diet as opposed to a change in shower time.
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction
Another fact that is hard to fathom is that by many estimates it takes roughly 15 to 20 times the amount of land to feed a human on an animal based diet as opposed to a plant based diet. For a cow to gain a pound of meat he has to consume many more pounds of grass, alfalfa, and grain just to gain that pound. Similar to humans and all other animals for that matter, we burn calories just by existing and thank goodness we do that because if we did gain a pound of flesh for every pound of food we ate, we would be in big trouble! So what is the leading cause of deforestation on this planet? We would think that logging for homes and buildings would be the leading cause, however it turns out animal agriculture is far more responsible for deforestation than industries such as logging.
As I travel through rural Utah I can only imagine what our world would look like without animal agriculture. By letting the land revert back to the time before raising animals for human consumption, we could have more wilderness, more wildlife, more free flowing rivers, less global warming, and a planet that is truly sustainable. If we as a society really want to have a thriving planet for future generations, there is a something we can all do that doesn’t cost any more money than what we are already spending and that is to switch our diets from animal based to plant based.
By: Kent Maurer
There is “one single act” that every one of us has absolute control over for the betterment of all of humanity, and that is what we choose to eat. We literally vote with our food choices at the grocery store, a restaurant, a drive through food joint, or a convenience store. Every time we make a purchase its telling industries what we want, demand and supply. When we order it, buy it or crave it, big business will continue to supply it, no matter what the health or environmental costs. Of all the food choices we are making, the choice of eating animals and animal products is, by far, making the biggest (negative) impact on our personal health and very dramatically, the health of our planet.
Let’s talk about environment first. We all live together on this planet and share its resources. Two thirds of the planet is water but only 3% of that water is fresh water and 2% of that fresh water is ice. That leaves 1% of planet earth’s water available for all to share. Of course humans think of themselves first, without water we will die. Right now there are 7 billion plus people on this planet, just 50 years ago there was just over 2 billion. By 2100 there is expected to be 12 billion people all sharing that 1% of available fresh water.
We are not alone on this planet. Other living creatures and plants need to share that 1% of available fresh water with us and this is where it gets disturbing. Because of our voting habits when it comes to food, there are presently 70 billion factory farmed animals being raised world wide to satisfy our demand for animal products. Those animals require a dramatic amount of water when it comes to growing the food they eat and the water they drink. It’s estimated by the United Nations and other water watch communities that 23% of all the fresh water in the world, 50% of all the water in the United States and 70% of all the fresh water in the western U.S. is being used to grow food used specifically to raise farmed animals. In the mean time everyone and everything else is taking the blame for our water shortage We are told to take shorter showers, let our lawns die, tell growers whose plants take more water than normal like nut trees and certain fruits, to cut back on their crops or go out of business altogether, while collectively, nothing comes close to the amount of water being used to grow animals. Of all the restrictions being put on water use, animal agriculture gets a free pass with no restrictions.
In addition to the massive amounts of water being used by factory animal farming, in the U.S. alone 80% of farmland and 70-90% of our grain crops, is dedicated solely to raising animals for food. Millions of people in the U.S. and 2 billion people world wide do not have enough food, but factory farmed animals are fed till they are as fat as they can get to warrant the most money at slaughter. Our forests are being leveled to make room for more grazing area and to grow crops to feed to animals. This is a huge problem in the Amazon in South America where an acre a minute is being leveled to support animal agriculture. The Amazon and all vegetation are the lungs of our planet; plants absorb the carbon dioxide and breathe out the precious oxygen we all need (along with that 1% of fresh water) to survive.
Then there are the airborne diseases that are escalating in this world, bird flu, avian flu, swine flu and on and on. 70% of the entire antibiotic supply made in this world goes to factory farmed animals in an effort to keep them alive in horrendous conditions until they are slaughtered. The overuse of antibiotics creates antibiotic resistant bacteria super-bugs, add that to the waste that 70 billion plus factory farmed animals are producing and a serious health problem is created. There are no sewer systems dedicated to these animals, their entire excrement ends up in our aqua fillers, rivers and oceans creating “dead zones” where nothing will grow and even more airborne diseases arise.
So why do we put up with an industry that’s estimated to contribute to 51% of all greenhouse gases produced? …Protein…
We are obsessed and convinced that without our burger, chicken sandwich, hot dog, scrambled eggs, steak and fish, that we will not survive. While quite frankly the opposite is true, the science, case studies, and facts prove otherwise. Animal protein is the problem of our ill health, not the cure. We’d be immensely better off if we stopped eating animals and got our protein from the same sources the cow, pig, chicken, elephant, gorilla, racehorse and every other animal on this plant that has an anatomy similar to ours gets their protein from, plants!
75% of all animals on this planet, including humans, have an anatomy perfectly designed to take in soft easy to acquire plant food. We are the total opposite design of a carnivore like a lion or an omnivore like a bear. Humans have slow foot speed, small mouths and short dull teeth that could never bite through the skin of another animal and if we could we absolutely wouldn’t like the taste of blood. When fiber-less animal flesh enters our bodies our low acidic stomach acid and long windy intestines are not designed to absorb and eliminate that flesh. As the meat sits in our 11 times the length of our torso intestines, our 98.6 degree internal body is the perfect environment to produce the same type of bacteria that breaks down a dead animal on the side of the road. This is a disease producing acidic environment. Whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are the perfect foods for the human design and can be made into an unlimited variety of tasty, filling meals and produce the alkaline blood we are designed to thrive on.
We cannot continue to justify the amount of water, food and land needed, as well as the diseases produced in our quest for animal protein. Not to mention the immense amount of pain and suffering 70 billion plus land animals and 100 billion sea creatures go through, unnecessarily, each year. As much as we don’t want to admit it, humans are not that important to this planet. We may have gotten the bigger brain and the ability to reason, but what have we brought to the table for the betterment of planet earth, I-phones, bombs, pollution? If bees or ants were to vanish from this planet the earth might not be able to survive, but if humans were gone, this planet would thrive.
We were put on this earth to oversee and protect it and all its inhabitants; unfortunately,we are not doing a very good job. But I do have confidence in my fellow human species, if we are given the correct information and then minimize, or better yet, eliminated our unnatural appetite for eating animals, we could save this planet and our health.
Stop believing the marketing hype, we don’t need animals for protein, calcium, iron, omega 3’s or any other nutrient, plants have it all. After absorbing this information and researching it yourself, don’t think you can call yourself an environmentalist or a humanitarian if you still choose to eat meat. I believe our future population will look back on this period of our planet in sadness, but also with pride. Pride that we took action and realized the problem and then corrected it. Just like any other disease, we have to get to the root of the problem instead of using band-aids in trying to correct the problem. THE single biggest problem, is raising and eating animals for food!
With one single act, the whole planet will benefit; animals need to be taken off the breakfast, lunch and dinner table, NOW.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
By: Dave Swartz
A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit the San Juan Islands of Washington State. These islands are known for their natural beauty, blue ocean waters, rolling country hills, and of course the local Orca whale population. On a visit to Lime Kiln Point Whale Watch Park, the only land based whale watching park in the country, I had a chance and to stop and hear one of the marine biologists speak about the current state of the local Orca population. I learned quite a few interesting facts such as the matriarch of the Puget Sound J pod being an estimated 105 years old.
I also learned about the resident pods and the transient pods and how each pod had their own unique culture. For instance, the transient pods that venture through the area from time to time not only feed on salmon but also other marine life such as seals. However, the resident pods feed exclusively on Chinook salmon. Unfortunately, the numbers of Orcas in the Puget Sound are declining and scientists say the number one reason for this is due to the lack of availability of salmon.
My next question to the marine biologist was “What is causing the decline in salmon?” It turns out that the number one reason for the decline in salmon is competition with commercial fishing.
In the years since I gave up eating animals I’m not sure if I gave it much thought that I was taking food from someone that actually needs it, I always thought of the animal that was being directly consumed by humans. With beef cattle or farm pigs, I have never had the thought of “If I eat this animal, will its natural predators have nothing to eat?” I believe this is because our “natural environment” has been manipulated to a point that there are no wild species whose main food sources are farmed land animals meant for human consumption. Needless to say that is not the case with fish. This particular pod of Orcas depend on salmon for survival as it is the only food source they eat. If they don’t have enough salmon they will die. Humans in this country and many other countries have the option to go to a grocery store and choose a healthy alternative to fish. Orcas do not have that luxury. If you needed another reason to give up eating fish besides the fact that fish are extremely high in cholesterol and loaded with toxic chemicals such as mercury and over 80% of the world’s fish stocks are considered fully exploited or depleted, you now have it.
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.
In 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.
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.