Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When Will the Media Wake Up?

This skit is a few weeks old, but it shows how poor of a job the media does covering issues people should know about.

Granted, there are plenty of other issues the media can pay attention to, but for starters, here are a few ideas of what the media can look into. Currently…

It is Legal for Milk to have Puss and Blood in it
It is Legal to hang Pigs from Forklifts
Beef and Chicken often are contaminated with feces
Animal Agriculture is the number one cause of global warming
At slaughter, broiler hens are only 35 days old

I think people would be shocked of what goes on if the media did their job.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Christians, why don’t you do what Jesus would do?

The following two posts were old, however I deleted them by accident, so I'm reposting them:

Now, I don’t mean to anger Christians by saying this since I am one myself, but why are so many of us fake about our churches teachings? No, no, I’m not talking about all of the picayune viewpoints that our churches tell us to follow or even going to church every weekend; I could care less about them. I’m talking about one of the main teaching in the bible: respecting Gods creations. Chances are, you, your priest, and just about everyone around you ate one of Gods creations today which goes by the common name of meat. I know it doesn’t sound wrong, but do you think Jesus would want us to eat his creations?

Of course, nearly everyone is going to say, “Well, look at the bible, God says it’s fine to eat animals.” This is true, taking the scripture verbatim, there are plenty of justifications that can be found for eating God’s creations. Jesus himself ate fish (Luke 24:42-43) and lamb (Luke 22:8-15). He even fed a crowd full of people with fish (Matthew 14:17-21). However, in presenting these examples, there is also a plethora of contradictions to these verses. One of the most relevant examples of this is found in the perfect, sinless world, or Garden of Eden, where God says:

“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.” (Gen. 1:29-30).

Taking the word of the Lord plainly, this perfect, sinless world was vegetarian.

These types of contradictions mentioned above occur quite often in the Bible especially when we take the passages literally. In addition, the meanings of some verses are often skewed when they are translated since they aren’t adjusted to the current culture. This can lead to misinterpretations. In following the trend of contradictions, it is possible to find some Biblical passages which unmistakably condone some forms of slavery, burning witches and anti-Semitism, and killing innocent people in war. Christians don’t follow these passages; common sense tells us that the Jesus we know would never endorse these activities. Christians look to the overall teachings of the merciful and compassionate man in the Bible, Jesus, not specific passages, to decide God would want us to do.

Now, back to the question posed above, looking at the compassionate man you know from the Bible, Jesus, and not specific passages, do you think our God of love would want you to kill his own creations, which, like you, feel pain? I most certainly would hope not. Why would God put animals on this earth, who feel pain, squeal, and squirm in agony when we try to slit their throats, if he intended them to be killed every day? For those who seriously believe that their ‘loving’ God would encourage this, then I think it’s time they found a new, more compassionate God. A ‘loving’ and ‘compassionate’ God who gave his creations the ability to feel pain with the intention of slaughter? Come on now, let’s get serious. God is compassionate, not ruthless.

Still, regardless of all the teachings of compassion the bible teaches us, some people believe that killing God’s creations is what Jesus would do. In all reality, you could give me all the biblical quotes in the world, and I would still find it very hard to believe God would enjoy us killing his own sentient creations. The Jesus I know from the bible, who teaches mercy, compassion, and love for all of God’s creations, would never inflict pain on his own creations, especially if it wasn’t necessary. Use the overall teachings of the bible and common sense about God, not specific passages from the Bible to justify your actions. Do what the compassionate God you love would want you to do, not what is most convenient for yourself. The compassionate God I love wouldn’t want us to inflict pain, suffering, and death on his own creations. I guess my God is completely different from yours.

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The Evolution of Discrimination

More than half of dog owners in the US bought their dogs a Christmas present this year. Ninety percent pampered them with treats throughout the year. And common sense will tell you that nearly all of these pet owners mourn the death of their animal. Then what happens? What force nixes this steadfast love for animals when we sit down and eat? We would never think of torturing a dog, yet every time we eat a hamburger, we contribute to a completely unnecessary torturing of another animal. The truth is, we are picky in which animals have a right to live. Some animals are legally allowed to be raped, tortured, and killed, while for other, it is illegal and unethical to leave them in the car for too long. We blatantly assign certain animals higher classes than others.

Assigning these different levels, or ‘class systems’ mentioned above is not a new practice; it has been around for ages. The earlier forms of this ‘class system’ were completely obvious. An example is the feudal system. The ‘lords and ladies’ would rule over the ‘serfs and poor farmers’. Once you were born in these classes, you were stuck at that class level. There was no moving up or down in the class ranks. Over time, society changed and viewed this ‘class system’ as wrong.

Today, we don’t have this blatant class system. The class system society currently dictates isn’t anywhere near as obvious as it was several hundred years ago but it still not desirable and nearly identical in pattern. In the current system, society groups people and things using invisible classes. It puts us morally at rest when we don’t see these classes so what we do is unconscientiously place one class or group in a ‘higher’ group than the others. For the most part, overtime, these invisible groups become visible as society uncovers the once unseen discrimination. Unfortunately, the pattern is ongoing so it repeats itself again and again through time.

As we move through history, we can see the evolution of discrimination. When we look back at United States history, we see that our society taught us that it was completely acceptable to make a distinction between races so drastic to say that if you are white, you are a human and if you are black, you are property. If you killed a white person, you would be put to death. If you killed a black person, which was a piece of property, no one would care. It was also quite convenient to use blacks for cheap labor. Blacks were beaten, starved, raped, tortured, enslaved, and killed without anyone blinking an eye. There was no point to question the ethical purity of this. It was completely acceptable in the eyes of society. Whites have privileges while blacks are merely commodities. Over time, people changed, but it wasn’t until 1936 that they found a word to describe the terrible discrimination of races: racism.

In the close past, we saw the effects of racism. Nazi Germany was a prime example of racism. The society of Nazi Germany taught of a superior race named the Aryan race; everything else was subpar. Those who were a part of this Arian race had no qualms about the mass holocaust on others because of course; they were the superior race. There was no need to question if their actions were right or wrong; their society taught them a holocaust was acceptable.

Presently there are white supremacy extremist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan who are thriving. On the KKK’s homepage, it boasts having over 200 separate Klan groups in America. The KKK will occasionally be seen in marches in the traditional, all white robes. Even the thought of these white supremacy klansmen angers most. It should. Society now sees that giving such supremacy to one race yet disrespecting others is wrong. We didn’t 150 years ago.

On a different discrimination, our society taught us that women were inferior to men. A decade ago, women started to gain equality. Before this time, women didn’t have the brain capacity to drive a car, have a normal job, and they sure as hell couldn’t vote. We all know this was wrong. But it wasn’t even until 1920 that all women could vote.

Even today, women are considered inferior to men. Brothels are still legal. Child porn can easily be found on the internet. Hardcore pornography in which women are completely disrespected and insulted is a multibillion-dollar industry. This teaches us that these types of mistreatments are acceptable. This leads to female movie-stars getting stalked in hopes of getting a shot without their underwear on. On the news, it isn’t rare to see women or young girls get beaten and raped. Increasingly women are gaining equality but surely haven’t reached equilibrium with men yet. The reason all of this still goes on without anyone thinking that it is wrong is because most of society teaches us what is completely acceptable; there was no reason to question it.

Increasingly in the news, we see the issues of heterosexism. Heterosexism is the idea that heterosexuals are superior to same gender-loving individuals. This idea runs ramped throughout America; there is no hiding it. People who believe in heterosexism want to prevent homosexuals from getting married because it is degrading to their morals. They believe that their god, who says to love his own creations equally, would not give same gender-loving couples equal rights. Another one of the more overlooked heterosexism discriminations our society faces, is the ever-evolving pop-culture lingo. Our culture has sculpted words used to describe homosexuals into hateful, offensive, and disparaging slang such as ‘faggot’, ‘gay’, ‘queer’, and ‘homo’. In a typical conversation with a teenager, it would be hard to go through entirely without the use of one of these offensively redefined words. Most of our society says that these discriminations are allowed to go on because not enough people see a problem with it.

Debatably, the most over-looked, belittled, and ignored form of discrimination is the use of non-human animals in food. Paralleling all of the previous trends of discriminational –ism’s, most people don’t think of this as a form of discrimination. This is because in this circumstance, it’s convenient to be discriminate. Each year, Americans torture and kill over 10 billion animalsincluding cows, chickens, and pigs for food when not one of animals needed to be killed. Legally, cats and dogs can’t be tortured in any respect, yet other animals who are equally smart, can and are legally tortured, killed, and eaten every year. If they were to do any typical farming practices to cats or dogs, it would be deemed animal abuse.

The word we use to describe the favoritism toward pets versus food animals is speciesism. This means that humans act discriminatory towards certain animals while favoring others i.e. It is wrong to kill cats and dogs if you don’t need to, but it is perfectly acceptable and legal to kill cows, pigs, and chickens for food. Chances are, you think that this is completely acceptable. Guess what? That’s what the people thought and still think of racism, sexism, and heterosexism; it was what society taught them to be acceptable, why question?

The trends of discrimination have been clear and repetitive. You couldn’t compare humans(whites) with property(blacks), Men with women, or Heterosexuals (the preferred orientation of god) with homosexuals and until recently, you couldn’t compare pets with food-animals. Now, for the first time in history, ‘food’ animals are getting rights. In both Germany and Switzerland, they have changed the wording of their constitution to include animals. Fur farms are illegal in England. These countries started to implement the most rudimentary rights for animals because they are starting to see the most blatant form of discrimination. The idea of discrimination is simple, if you wouldn’t torture and kill your pet if you don’t need to, then don’t torture and kill other animals if you don’t need to? You don’t have to torture and kill animals, it’s just convenient and socially acceptable to do so. In fact, some nutritionists would encourage you to stay away from meat entirely. Society teaches us that needlessly killing certain animals is acceptable and we don’t question it. Neither did any of the paralleling -ists: the racists, sexists and heterosexists.

Be a little independent. Open your eyes to the trends. And stop making excuses for yourself because it’s convenient. If you don’t do this, never call yourself a non-discriminate person; you’ll just be lying to yourself. The pattern is simple; this is the evolution of discrimination.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Since when does being a vegan make you liberal?

You would be amazed how many people think, because I’m a vegan, I’m automatically a raging liberal. I’ve never understood this. For some reason, when I first tell someone, “Hey, I’m a vegan”, they think they know all of my political and lifestyle choices. One person, the first time I met him, even invited me to the largest drug selling event in all of the North East! He must have confused me with a weed smoking, free loving, dreadlock having, hacky sack playing, vegan hippie. Pretty close description of me minus the fact that I’ve never used drugs in my life, I think having promiscuous sex is gross, I wash my short hair twice a day, and the only time I’ve played hacky sack, I kicked it on top of a vending machine. But it’s not just people who I meet that have this idea that all vegans are liberal; my roommate even calls me a vegan hippie! Since when does being a vegan make you liberal?

Matthew Scully is a vegan. He is also pro-life, pro-war, and pro-just about every single issue liberals can’t stand(except the NRA). He helped the former president of the US, George Bush get re-elected and was Sarah Palin’s speech writer. Liberals hate him as much as they hate Pat Buchanan—which reminds me, Pat Buchanan won an award from PETA for his sympathy for animal rights. Now don’t tell these two animal rights is a liberal cause!

Conservatives can, and should be pro-animal rights as animal rights is by no means a patrician issue (though the reasons for animal rights may be patrician). Any serious conservative-right Christian should be able to answer this question pretty easily: Why would God put animals on this earth, who feel pain, squeal, and squirm in agony when we try to slit their throats, if he intended them to be killed every day? What kind of sadistic fuck do you think God is? There is no way He would prefer us to torture and kill his creations that feel pain when we can eat non-sentient plants. I suppose that’s why there are so many Christians who are now vegetarian—they already asked themselves this question, if Jesus was around today, would he slaughter animals who feel pain?

Another stance of conservatives is pro-life. It would be only logical to extend a conservative viewpoint to respect all life—after all, most people who are pro-life believe life starts at a few cells, so logically one of God’s creations, which is by far more developed, deserves some consideration. If not, the pro-life stance would be quite contradictory (like a pro-lifer who believes in the death penalty).Pro-life means all life, not just what is most convenient.

On the other side, I know there are motives why liberals should be vegans too. Going vegan is one of the best things you can do to the environment and your health, but I’m not a vegan for the environment or my health. In fact, if it was worse for the environment or health, I could care less, I would still be a vegan. Boy I would be a fake liberal! I’m a vegan because the way we treat animals is horrifically unacceptable, not because of my political ideology.

This idea that vegans and Animal Rights advocates are all liberal is ludicrous. People try and alienate themselves from animal rights by dismissing Animal Rights as an extremist issue. They will come up with excuse after excuse as to why killing animals is such a wonderful and necessary thing. Some would rather come up with excuses to kill animals rather than look at the reasons not to kill animals! I know, it’s sick! Animal rights is not a Partisan issue, so don’t make it one. If you are a conservative you should believe in animal rights and if you are a liberal you should believe in animal rights. Liberals and Conservatives, every time you go shopping in a capitalistic society, you are voting with your money. Do the right thing and vote to saves lives. Your God, your environment, your body, and the animals will thank you.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Dumberest Question Ever

Being a vegan, I get my fair share of dumb questions, but today truly topped the cake. Now, by dumb questions, I mean some dumb questions! Can vegetarians eat animal crackers? Can vegans eat fish? And aren't we meant to eat meat? But this one was by far the most dim-witted question I’ve gotten in a while:

Both plants and animals are alive, so what’s the difference between the two? You’re no better than the rest of us.

We’re going to school at Penn State. Do we really not know the difference between plants and animals yet? Perhaps we can find the difference in these next two pictures:

and this

Still looking for a difference? Yeah, me too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know it wasn't a serious question and it was at best a poor excuse as to why he eats meat, but come on, come up with something that shows you thought logically for a second. Hell, even make something up! But the point of all of this is not to show how dumb the question was, but to show that most people haven’t given it any thought as to how poorly we treat the animals we call meat. Most people can’t even think of a reason to care! But surprisingly, there are reasons to care....

When I was a child, my friend down the road would catch bee's and use insulation foam to permanently stick them to the ground so they would squirm around and eventually die. He didn’t see any problem with this. When I went back to my house and told my mom how disgusted I was, she agreed and made a big deal out of it saying I probably shouldn't hang out with him anymore if he does things like that. I now know why it was such a big deal. If a child abuses an animal, or insect in this case, there is something physiologically wrong with them.

And the end of this story brings me to a question: why is it when a child abuses something as small as an insect there is something drastically wrong, but when we abuse animals daily without ever second guessing, it’s perfectly acceptable? Do we have to mistreat animals like that? At what point is it wrong?

Uh Oh! I better have not just hear another excuse!

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

More Shams from Environmentalists

From time to time you hear various environmentalists expressing their distain of the government subsidies towards biofuels which totals around 6 billion a year. This is certainly worthy of attention as these fuels are counterproductive in solving our environmental problems, but I find it particularly funny that environmentalists still have not questioned the government subsides on animal products, something that is exponentially worse on the environment.

Currently, the US government subsidizes meat directly however in very small amounts( around $300 million). The real way the meat industry gets all of the government subsidies is from other sectors of agriculture (corn, soybeans, wheat, oats). Since the livestock sector consumes unreasonable amounts of vegetables, 80% of the US corn and 90% of soy meal crops, they use the subsidies from vegetables to feed their animals. To give you an idea of how much the US government subsides these crops, between 2000 and 2004, an average of $4.5 billion to corn and $2 billion to soy was given out to the agriculture sector. Nearly all of government subsides initially intended for vegetables went to livestock feed instead.

With this being said, when environmentalists start to complain about these subsides on biofuels, I question their sincerity. These subsides have only been around for a few years, yet meat subsides have been around since the early 1970’s. Both subsides are around the equivalent monetarily, yet the subsides for meat are far worse on the environment. Has anyone heard a main-stream peep out against these meat subsidies? I know I certainly haven't. I have however heard meat-eaters who ironically call themselves environmentalists(Al Gore) voicing plenty of disdain towards biofuel subsides(Mr. Krugman). The subsides on meat have already contributed to more environmental devastation over thier 40 years of existence than subsides on biofules could ever realistically contribute, yet environmentalists still haven't picked up on it. It's time that changed.

I know I've said this plenty of times, but the single best thing you can do for the environment is go vegetarian. And as the UN claims, "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”.

For those who consider themselves environmentalists, I strongly urge you to reduce your consumption of animal products. It's the best thing you can do to mitigate your carbon footprint.

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The Unreliability of Animal Testing

As some of you may know, Animal Testing is one particular area which I take great interest in, so last week, when I came across an article which claims scientists may have found a cure for diabetes, I wanted to dig deeper into the study.

In short, these scientists from Baylor, used a process called Gene Therapy where they take a gene called neurogenin3, attach it to a virus which then delivers the gene to the adult stem cells in the liver of the mouse. The mouses liver, within a week, brought the blood sugar levels back to normal.

There's a catch though: The virus they use to deliver the gene could be deadly in humans.

For anyone who is up on animal testing, this is not a surprising finding. The anatomy of the animals we drug test on and humans are drastically different and because of this, countless drugs pass in lab animals, yet need to be withdrawn from the market a few years later. One of the many classic examples, VIOXX, passed drug testing in six different species yet a few years later, needed to be withdrawn cause it was found to cause heart attacks. By the time it was recalled, it was estimated by the FDA that it killed around 28,000 people.

This example above is shocking, however it does not capture how poor the results of animal testing truly are. And actually, many people, even vegetarians, aren't aware of is how poor the predictability of animal testing is.

The FDA found that if a drug works in animal trials, 92% of the time it will not work in humans. It doesn't take a scientist to understand that is an unacceptable rate, but we must keep in mind, the reason it's only 92% and not closer to 99% is because the pass rate of many skin drugs is very high(this is attributed to "fake skin" rather than animal testing). Many of more serious drugs, such as cancer drugs, have an attrition rate closer to 98%. Lastly, of that 8% that passes in clinical trials, half of those drugs will be recalled from the market or relabeled because of unknown side effects.

These numbers are extremely interesting to look at especially on the pharmasutical side. Why on earth would these pharmasutical companies, which are entirely profit driven, continue to use procedures that are outdated and have terrible success rates? The answer is both politically and profitability oriented.

These companies could use there immense lobbying power on the government to change the FDA's policies on animal testing, however they would much rather stay on the FDA's good side.

In another angle, the FDA strongly suggests passing the potential drugs in two or more animals before approval. Since the variability from animal to animal is so high, if the drug doesn't work in a mouse or rat, it may work in an amphibian or rabbit. These additional outs prove to be beneficial to the pharmasutical companies when applying for drug approval.

Both of these factors, staying in the good graces of the FDA and the availability of different animal tests translates to one thing, faster and better chance for approval of drugs. Why is this so important? Just imagine passing a blockbuster drug such as Lipitor, which makes $13.7 million a day. A week or two faster in the drug approval process means millions more in profit. Even if the drug is recalled years later, the company still made hundreds of millions to billions in profits from the drug.

Animal testing is often times misunderstood as beneficial, yet in reality is holding science back. With a 92% attrition rate in animal testing, we need to use alternatives. The Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods, funded by the US government, has looked at slightly under 200 alternatives to animal testing and recommended where to properly use them but the FDA still requires animal testing. Animal testing will not be thrown out overnight as alternatives must be approved on a test by test basis, however with increasing pressure from the public, the FDA will likely change it's policies on drug development. As a Pro-Science and Pro-progress supporter, I strongly urge the FDA to get rid of the animal tests that don't work and use alternative tests which yield better results.

Note: Before my inbox is flooded with e-mails regarding Genetically Engineered animals, I would like to be clear that these GE Animals mealy give a false hope to Pro-animal testers. These animals are going to come with the same and possibly additional problems that normal animal testing comes with. Humans and Animals are vastly genetically different, it's time we throw out the old technology(animal testing) and bring in something a little better that will bring out cures.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Peoples Have Crazy Idea's on Where our Meat Comes From

This last week was Meat-out week at Penn State. Meat-out is a national event where Vegetarians and Vegans encourage people to give up meat products for one day out of the year. Since Penn State is a huge Agriculture school, many of the Ag and Animal science students took offense to the event as their job depends on people consuming animals/animal bi-products. As a resuly, they held a "Meat-in" day where they passed out information on the benefits of eating meat and Beef Jerky. As a counter, the Vegetarian Club at Penn State passed slightly over 1,100 pamphlets on factory farms out. The Penn State Collegian, the student newspaper, covered the story. After the article came out, a couple articles came out denouncing Vegetarians and Vegans along with the other side.

This first is the Letter to the Editor that started the whole ordeal:

Practices of meat farmers ensure safety of livestock

All of the practices that farmers do are for
the safety of the animal with production in
mind. PETA argues that animals are being
treated inhumanely and spread stories of how
mother sows are penned in stalls so that they
cannot turn around.This is a true fact but
what PETA neglects to tell the public is that
that is for the safety of the piglets.

This living arrangement is for the ultimate
good of the animal, when penned this way
they are less likely to kill their piglets by lying
on them then when they are just left to roam
free. In addition young piglets, just like babies,
are not very good on their feet, and would find
it very difficult to chase after their mother
when it came time to eat and the small piglets
would ultimately die.

If PETA would remove its ugly head from
an industry it does not understand every ani-
mal would be better off.

The other major issue PETA argues is the
ingestion of animal meat. If humans did not
eat meat there would be an over-abundance of
animals in the world and they would become
obstacles on roads like the over populated
deer herds in Pennsylvania. The consumption
of animal flesh is not only just something we
do because of tradition, but it is a direct stim-
ulant to the US Economy. The U.S. meat
industry is the largest sector of agriculture
and agriculture is the largest sector of the
U.S. economy.

Meat industry sales in 2003 were nearly $90
billion, according to the U.S. Department of
Commerce. With the current status of our
economic system who would want to pull that
chuck of change out of the equation? For
many rural communities, livestock production
and meat processing are economic corner-
stones and cannot be replaced or compro-

The responce:

Making profit trumps safety
as farmers’ main concern

In Nicholas Wingert's letter to the editor
(“Practices of farmers ensure safety of live-
stock,” March 19), he states "All of the practices
that farmers do are for the safety of the animal
with production in mind." He has one part right:
With production in mind. The only time corpo-
rate farmers treat the animals with safety is
when it is economically beneficial to them.

According to the United Egg producers,
which is funded through egg producers in the
United States, 95 percent of the eggs we eat
are from caged birds; it recommends giving
each bird anywhere from 67-86 square inches
of room.

That is slightly less than a sheet of paper.
With these recommendations, chickens aren't
able to spread their wings for all of their adult
life. Keep in mind, this is what the Egg pro-
ducers are telling you: You can use your own
mind to interpret how badly they really treat

In Mr. Wingert's opinion, farmers treat ani-
mals with care. I suppose this is why we have
videos of cows and pigs being hoisted into the
air by forklifts, piglets being thrown 10 feet
into the air, farm animals unable to turn
around in their stalls, and chickens being
recklessly thrown into transport trucks before

These videos are not the exception. There
are dozens of investigations highlighting the
largest animal producers such as Tyson,
AgriProcessors, Butterball, and Perdue, just
to name a few, committing countless atroci-
ties. These few producers supply a vast
majority of our meat.

As the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out,
18 beef processors account for 80 percent of
the market share.

Every time we go food shopping, we are
voting with our dollar. I would hope people
choose to consume less animal products and
byproducts in turn reducing animal suffering.
And lastly I hope that people aren't hood-
winked by the propaganda that Factory farms,
where we get a majority of our meat from,
treat their animals humanely.

And the response to that:

Ignorance of meat's critics visible in uninformed views

This is in response to the many letters to the editor that talk about Meat-In Day and Meat-Out Day.

I have many friends who are vegetarians and many who aren't and either way I completely respect their decisions. My vegetarian friends, however, also respect those of us who eat meat and never call us ignorant because the decision to eat meat is not solely based on knowledge, but on personal beliefs.

I know that I am not ignorant as I grew up surrounded by farms, my roommate is a farmer, and I am a food science major. I know where my food comes from and how the animals that produce my meat products are raised. The majority of farmers focus on the safety of their animal and treat them with care.

Yes, I do realize that there are exceptions and animals are mistreated in some cases, but they are exceptions. I know all of this from my education.

Those of you who claim that you know otherwise from videos online are the ignorant ones. I actually take classes here at Penn State about where my food comes from. You look up videos on the Internet. Let me ask you which source you think is more reliable?

This letter was not published, however it was submitted:

“Ignorance of meat's critics visible in uninformed views”, echo’s an argument made by many. They use completely anecdotal information to claim that a majority of the animals we eat come from producers who treat animals with care. This is completely false. A majority of the animals we eat do not come from traditional farms.

According to president of the U.S. National Farmers' Union, the top four cattle producers account for 80% of the market in the U.S. In addition, the WorldWatch Institute found that 74% of the worlds chicken and nearly all of the U.S. chicken comes from factory farms. Keep in mind, medium CAFO’s (factory farms), may contain anywhere from 37,500 to 124,999 chickens at a time(EPA).

It doesn’t take much to understand there are very few practical ways to raise thousands of birds on one farm humanely. It shouldn’t come to a surprise there aren’t any pictures of the birds living or slaughter conditions on Perdue’s, Butterball’s, or Tyson’s websites; they would go bankrupt overnight.

The author also cited personal beliefs as a reason to justify killing animals for food. I would hope, in a world with a growing number of nutritionists recommending keeping animal products off your plate, some form of the golden rule could be applied here as I’m sure most would not want to be killed simply because they taste good.( I’m not comparing humans with animals, I’m merely mentioning they deserve consideration.)

I would encourage those who believe that the animals we eat are raised and killed in a humane manner, to do additional research. The farms in our neighborhoods are by no means a true depiction of how we treat the animals we slaughter. Instead, the packages of meat from the supermarket contain an animal’s abused life which we support financially every time we purchase meat. I would encourage those who eat animal products to understand how cruel those products truly are and think twice when buying their food.

Though this letter did not make it into the newspaper, there is a moral to the story. These letters are evidence that a majority of people are not aware of how much of our meat comes from factory farms. When they see a scenic farm, they think, wow they treat these animals just fine. This misconception truly subtracts from the Vegetarian/Vegan arguments validity.

Vegetarians and Vegans need to keep showing people how badly we treat animals. So long as we kill 10 Billion animals a year in the US alone, I think we can do better. For every person that goes vegetarian, over 100 animals are saved a year-- I think thats something worth working for.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The consumption of Meat and the Enviorment

Yesterday I gave a short presentation to the Penn State Ve*an club on the effects of eating meat and the environment. Below is a fact sheet and a short comment on why these numbers are so high. If you want the sources, please E-mail me or Google it.

Note: Top 4 contributors of global warming are carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and nitrous oxide. These account for the top 95% factors of global warming.

Fossil Fuels:

Switching from an SUV to a hybrid is estimated to conserve one ton of carbon dioxide per year. Switching to a Vegan diet will save one and a half tons a year.

More than 1/3rd of all fossil fuels produced in the US go towards animal agriculture

Reason: Animals are fed with grains soy and other crops—these crops must be harvested and transported to feed lots. The animals are then transported from feed lots to slaughter houses then the carcasses are then shipped to a processing and packing plant, then to a store.

In a 2006 UN report: “raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.”

Methane(2nd largest contributor of global warming):

Methane is more than 20 times as powerful as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere.
40% of all methane emissions worldwide come from animal agriculture.

Nitrous Oxide(4th largest contributor of global warming):

Nitrous oxide is 298 times more potent as a global warming gas than carbon dioxide.

According to the U.N., the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for 62% of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions.

Water usage:

Animal production consumes an amount of water roughly equivalent to all other uses of water in the US combine. (some studies show up to 60% of all water in America used goes to meat production)

One pound of beef requires an input of 2500-12,000 gallons of Water (depending on the diet)
One pound of soy requires an input of 250 gallons of Water
One pound of potatoes requires an input of 60 gallons of Water
One pound of wheat requires an input of 25 gallons of Water

Runoff from agriculture:

80% of stream and riparian habitats in the western US have been negatively impacted by livestock.

Pesticides and nitrates seeping into ground water, streams, and major waterways cause dead zones.

Reason: Pesticides and nitrates used in fertilizers and manure seep into ground water and streams eventually leading into major waterways which lead into the ocean. This creates area’s called dead zones (areas which plants and animals cannot survive because of phosphates, nitrates, decreased dissolved oxygen—bacteria thrives in this environment). All of this is when farming goes correctly—not when there are chemical spills or manure dumps.


Animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90% soy meal and 80% of the corn crop.

It takes 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. (Just imagine cooking 16 pounds of pasta, eating one, and throwing 15 out. This is what we do every time we eat meat.

Food grown directly for human consumption utilizes 60 million acres;1,200 million acres are used to grow what is fed to livestock.

In a 2006, UN initiative, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide. The initiative concluded that "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why Humans Are Not Meant to Eat Meat

I’ve gotten this question so many times it’s truly unbelievable. “Aren’t we meant to eat meat?” There are a few different responses that I give to people and they are always shocked. None of my responses should be in anyway controversial, in reality, they are all facts, but people continue to look at me like I have three heads. I suppose this reaction is normal since I’m mentioning an idea that people have never heard of—kind of when we were told the truth about Santa and the Tooth fairy. At any rate, I hope this post will show you another side to this question.

To get to the answer of this question, dwelling on the past is not the answer. Many people bring up our ancestry, but since we are not living in caves, it is not relevant. While our ancestors needed to use meat for their survival, we by no means have to, in fact, quite the opposite is true. They walked places, we drive cars. They hunted, we factory farm. The times are totally different so let’s get to the point.

Currently, there are two main types of diets—animal based and vegetarian. When we look at the hard numbers of these diets, the consensus is clear as to which one is better for our health. I could go on and on with statistics, and I will mention a few, but if you are truly interested, I encourage you to search the internet, read the china study, or talk with a dietitian-- they will all confirm that there is a strong link between the consumption of meat and diseases.

As mentioned above, I will cover one or two studies just to put everything into perspective. The first covers heart disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America according to the American Heart Association. One study found that people who eat meat have a 50% higher risk of developing heart disease compared to vegetarians.[i] Next, cancer rates, found in numerous studies, are also affected by the consumption of meat. One 11-year-long German study (with 800 vegetarian men), found their cancer rates were less than half those of the general public. Another study shows vegetarians having 40% the cancer rates of meat-eaters.[ii] And just to bring everything together, according to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; … lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.[iii]” To think we thought smoking in front of our kids is bad, maybe it’s time we stop killing them with the food we give them—eating meat is the new cigarette.( and better yet, we have to note that these studies came out before our meat is genetically modified.)

When we get back to the question above, “Aren’t we meant to eat meat?” the previous studies and nearly all mainstream nutritional science are important to note. If we are meant to eat meat, why are the health problems mentioned above drastically lower in vegetarians? The answer is clear—we aren’t meant to eat meat.

There has also been some study of our anatomy by a Stanford University-trained physician specializing in nutrition named Dr. Milton R. Mills. In his paper, The Comparative Anatomy of Eating, Dr. Mills breaks down our body organ by organ and shows why the body of humans is better equipped for a vegetarian diet. He compares our organs to Carnivores, Herbivores, and Omnivores and shows us which we are most like. For those who are scientifically inclined, I encourage you to take a quick look at it.

In the paper he talks about a number of troubling facts if you still maintain that we are meant to eat meat. For one, he talks about the common misconception of our teeth. Many people talk about our canine teeth as a reason for why we are meant to eat meat. Comparing our canine teeth to a true carnivore such as a cat’s teeth is laughable. When we eat foods, we use the molars in the back to chew, like herbivores, not our canine teeth. Take note of this next time you eat. If we were to remove our canines, we wouldn’t even notice the difference. We also must chew our food in order for proper digestion. Carnivores can swallow their food whole (think of a lion or tiger after a kill).

The next organ he talks about is the size of our intestines. In summary, carnivore’s intestines are very short while herbivores are long. Ours, as I’m sure many already know, are quite long. This is one of the reasons we hear so much about fiber; while carnivores don’t need fiber because of their relatively short intestines, herbivores and humans do for proper digestion. This is another area where our ’natural’ diets of meat have failed us. For those who have ever been constipated, you already know why meat-based diets are inadequate.

Lastly, though not mentioned in the paper, there is the issue of cholesterol. While true carnivores can have literally unlimited amounts of cholesterol and not have any effect on their heart and artery walls, we hear about how high cholesterol is such a problem in humans every day. We are not meant to have diets with high cholesterol, which is only found in animal products. This is one of the reasons for such high rates of Heart Disease.

The paper discusses 16 other attributes throughout our body which show why we are not ‘meant’ to eat meat. As discussed in the paper, we are traditionally though of as omnivores, however an overwhelming amount of our anatomy proves otherwise. Similar to the disease rates mentioned above, I encourage everyone to read elsewhere to learn about our anatomy to assure you that I am not exaggerating or fabricating any information.

The last point I would like to bring up is the point of nutrition since this is brought up nearly every dinner conversation. The idea that plants don’t have protein, vitamins and minerals is ludicrous. In a NYTimes article, Mark Bittman brings up the point that, “Plants have protein, too; in fact, per calorie, many plants have more protein than meat.”[iv] I suppose the next time someone asks where I get my protein, I should say, “Vegetables, but you eat meat, are you sure you’re getting enough protein?” The other side to the wacky argument deals with not having enough vitamins and minerals. Why do you think dietitions stress eating more fruits and vegetables? Could it be that vegetables have a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber which meat doesn't have? Yes.(and if people were truly worried, I don't see anything wrong with taking a multi-vitamin which some meat-eaters are already do. Also, before this comes up, by eating a variety, you can get all of the essential amino acids.)

Science, nutrition, and epidemiology have shown us that we are not meant to eat meat and if anything, to avoid it completely. Society continues to have this crazy misconception that we are somehow meant to eat meat. This cannot be farther from the truth. People do not salivate when they see road kill, which carnivores do. People cannot kill pray with our nails or teeth like carnivores do. And most importantly, if humans were meant to be carnivores, we certainly would not have the crazy health problems that we see in meat eaters. Until all of these change, I am convinced we are not meant to eat meat and I hope you are too. The idea that we would rather kill animals for the taste which will result in an increase in disease as opposed to switch our diet to a humane one is nonsensical and outrageous. It’s time we look at our diet and do what is the right thing. It’s time we stopped eating meat.

[i] Elizabeth Somer, "Eating Meat: A Little Doesn't Hurt," WebMD, 1999.
[ii] Neal Barnard, M.D., The Power of Your Plate, Book Publishing Co.: Summertown, Tenn., 1990, p. 26.
[iii] Ann Mangels, Virginia Messina, and Vesanto Melina, "Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets," Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Jun. 2003, pp. 748-65.
[iv] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/11/dining/11mini.html

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can America Overcome Again?

Thanksgiving is a little more than a week away and judging by past experiences, my family is thrilled. This holiday tops any other holiday that we celebrate. We invite people from all over; family, friends, and even newly met acquaintances. Like most fortunate families celebrating this holiday, the quantity of food is unbelievable; mashed potatoes, corn, apple cider, pumpkin pie, and of course the turkey. We do however have something that’s a little different—we serve Tofurkey.

Now, for those who aren’t familiar with Tofurkey, it is a non-meat alternative to turkey and also the brunt of many jokes regarding vegetarian food. We serve this because I’m a vegan. A lot of people already know my dietary preferences, but I would guess that a majority of people cannot figure out why I care so much about avoiding eating animals. This is the normal reaction at least. Many people think there are so many other ethical issues that are more important, so why should we waste our time with this?

The fact is all of these ethical issues are remarkably similar to each other. Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King’s wife, spoke of animal rights as a “logical extension” of her husband’s work. I’ve already pointed out with many examples how the past trends of racism, sexism, and discrimination based on sexual orientation are all so closely related. All of these involve an uncalled-for, harsh domination over another being without a valid reason and sadly, only a small amount of people stood up to these atrocities. When we look back into history, it sickens us to think that our ancestors didn’t say anything, didn’t do anything, didn’t even question or care how we treated others. To think that our generation will act with the same ignorance— not care how we treat others— really makes me uneasy.

By the looks of everything, we are again getting lazy with our morals. An overwhelming amount of people actually think that the ten minutes of taste meat gives us is worth more than the animal’s life—how can this be a valid reason to kill animals? There shouldn’t be any sincere debate whether factory farming is right or wrong—just look here if you are unsure. With any bit of logic we see that the way we raise and treat animals is not right; it’s just whether people will stop making excuses as to why they eat meat and start to care enough to change the way they eat.

When we look back at any of the –ism’s mentioned above, the majority of people agreed that how they treated others wasn’t right—they however did nothing to change that. Currently, many people have a problem with how we treat animals, yet they still choose to do nothing about it. For our ancestors, expressing their opinion was potentially dangerous activity while our situation is quite the opposite. Every time we go shopping we are voicing our opinion through our purchasing power; we are essentially voting with our money. If we feel as though something is wrong, we should address it, not ignore it. Next time we go shopping, instead of staying with status quo like we did with racism for so many years, we should skip over the cruel options (and that’s putting it lightly) and choose the civil alternative.

Thanksgiving will be America’s next test to see if people ignore our generation’s ethical folly. Depending on which food they grab, the turkey or Tofurkey, it will be a clear indicator as to how far America’s humanity has come. Chances are people will continue to follow along with the same ignorance as their ancestors did by doing nothing, but I hope not. I hope people will try a diet without meat for a week and see how it goes. We by no means have to eat meat and in fact, nutritionists recommend vegetarian diets. Most people have never tried it, but once they do, they realize how easy it is and see the benefits. We have to remember, while African Americans were getting killed by the KKK for no real reasons, our ancestors embarrassingly did nothing. To think that we will do nothing with the way we treat animals will be disgusting. If something is wrong, we should do something about it. There is no reason to sit back like our ancestors did; it is sick, inexcusable, and ignorant. Our solution is clear; if we don’t want to act as pitifully as our ancestors, it’s time to go vegetarian.

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