“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.”
His Holiness The Dalai Lama
This post ends on a positive note, I promise. But first the bad news…
There’s a new round of undercover investigative videos out just in time to make you think twice about your Thanksgiving dinner and your upcoming Christmas shopping. First, the animal advocacy group, Mercy For Animals (MFA) has just released documentation from their most recent undercover investigation of farmed animal treatment. The videos are available for viewing on their website, but please know that they are very graphic. As always, I recommend you prepare yourself for some images that are likely to disgust and disturb. To read/view less graphic information, you can read the LA Times report here. You can also sign MFA’s petition to Tyson foods here. This time around, the culprit was West Coast Farms, based in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma which is a Tyson Foods supplier. The person who collected the video was working undercover on the farm just this past September and October and witnessed abuses such as:
– slamming piglets against the floor to kill them
– hitting pigs with wooden boards and a bowling ball
– spiking piglets like footballs
– confining pregnant sows to cages in which they cannot turn around (a common practice called “gestation crates”)
– cutting off piglets’ tails and slicing their genitals to remove testicles without anesthesia (again, not uncommon practices)
I think that is enough for you to get the idea. This kind of treatment has also been documented via undercover investigation at cattle farms, poultry farms, etc. To those of you who would like to imagine that this kind of treatment is a shocking exception to the norm, I would say that after years of following the movement of farmed animal welfare and reading and watching numerous testimonies from people inside the industry, I am not convinced in the least that this kind of facility is somehow the anomaly within an otherwise humane system where transparency is prioritized, animals are respected, and workers are kept safe and happy. That kind of model just isn’t profitable enough to be the norm.
The second report that just came out is from PETA. Earlier this week they released a video also shared by CBSNews based on an investigation into the angora fur industry in China. The PETA statement explains that the investigation showed “workers violently ripping the fur out of rabbits’ skin as the animals scream in pain. After their fur is yanked out, the gentle, sensitive rabbits are left in shock, able only to lie motionless inside their tiny, filthy cages. After they endure this process every three months for two to five years, their throats are slit and their skin is ripped from their bodies.” To read more and to find the video link click here. This method of fur “manufacturing” is no more a deviation from the norm than the treatment of the pigs above. If you are curious about how mink, down, chinchilla or any other type of fur and feather are collected just do a simple search and you’ll find plenty of information. It’s not a pretty picture…but why in the world did we ever think it could be??
So what does this disturbing news have to do with the holidays? The holidays have become as much a time for personal reflection and gratitude as it is for religious or commercial participation. As I mentioned in the last post, we are seeing daily expressions of thanks-giving on social media and Christmas is a time where we begin to plan the positive changes for which we want to strive in the coming year. Well, here is your chance to give thanks and to make a positive change ahead of the holidays!
First, as you do your Thanksgiving preparations, walking the aisles of your market like you have done every other year, view your choices through a lens of true compassion and thanks. Think about what you’ve learned about the meat and dairy industry…if you haven’t learned something on Life As a Wave then I’m certain you have learned plenty elsewhere. Make the easy decision to replace some of your dishes with humane selections.
Yes, your family members will wonder why you used almond milk to make your mashed potatoes and will challenge you to explain why your green beans are being served sans bacon. Take it as an opportunity to share what you know! And if you’re wondering how to make animal-free dishes, there’s information everywhere! For example, here is a great list I just encountered: 32 Vegan Recipes That Are Perfect For Thanksgiving. You can easily cover your Thanksgiving table with this list alone.
And fear not…there’s even vegan pumpkin pie!
Second, the shopping season is here and Black Friday is next week. There are so many reasons to avoid the shopping craze that is coming up, but let’s stay on topic and discuss free-trade, plastic waste, and local economies another day. 🙂 As you shop, will you avoid fur? How about leather? How about down? It isn’t as hard as you might think and again, it shows people that you care! Need some ideas about which corporations are animal friendly? Use PETA’s shopping guide and shop from home. You can also download the Leaping Bunny app to help you shop for cruelty-free products. Or, heck, just check those tags before you put something in your cart.
I started this post by introducing the “bad news,” but let’s remember that there wouldn’t be a “bad” without a “good.” The good news is that as we each encounter new knowledge (even the kind that makes you disgusted or disheartened) it is a chance for us to decide anew. And there is a great gift of power in that, as I’ve written about before. What is the one new decision you will make today to make it a more humane holiday season?