Sunday, 28 April 2013
Saturday, 27 April 2013
I recently took this picture when I visited Yankalilla for the Leafy Sea Dragon Festival. I’m not sure of the artist’s vision but for me it brought to mind the idea that animals are often treated as cogs in a machine. In fact, there was a time in history when great minds (eg. Rene Descartes – read the gory details here) actually believed that animals were nothing more than very complex organic machines, incapable of feeling pain or at least not pain that was ‘morally relevant’. Hmm... factory farming... vivisection... I guess history does repeat itself – you were wrong Neil Finn.
Do you believe pigs are capable of experiencing pain in the same way as humans?
Monday, 22 April 2013
New research has revealed another way in which red meat may cause cardio vascular disease. Pork is considered red meat in case you were wondering.
“...researchers found a chemical in red meat called L-carnitine is associated with a build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes”.
“...eating red meat may result in heart disease, separate to the influence of cholesterol or saturated fat in the meat”.Read the full story here.
The article also makes mention of bowel cancer and the increased risk associated with eating “large amounts of red meat”. Read the below excerpts from Geoff Russell’s book, then ask yourself why the Australian Dietary Guidelines still recommend “no more than 2.5 to three serves of lean unprocessed red meat a week”.
From CSIRO Perfidy (2009) by Geoff Russell:
“Official Australian health statistics predict that a million of us will get bowel cancer during our lifetime.”
“The 2007 Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer report by the World Cancer Research Fund is the most thorough review of the scientific evidence relating to lifestyle, nutrition and cancer for a decade. Its judgement was absolutely clear. There were no ifs, no buts, and no caveats – red and processed meat cause bowel cancer. The report was equally clear that this isn’t a “statistical association”, but causality.”
“Scientists... at the Victorian Cancer Council calculate...that about half of all cases of bowel cancer are attributable to eating more than one red meat serve per week. This is 6,000 new cases annually.”
Sunday, 21 April 2013
Gracie met Kevin & Francis for the first time and was a little tentative to begin with - perhaps because I had warned her that they can be a bit bitey. "It's OK, they just like to taste you with their teeth". She really enjoyed giving them a pat and touching their curly tails.
Friday, 19 April 2013
Check out this fantastic poster made by fellow villager, Karen Nilson. It's constructed from the images of the thousands of people who have already pledged their support. See the full version here. Then visit the Make It Possible website to watch the video and show your support for the campaign. Be sure to watch the 11min video.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
I recently saw the film, Lincoln – which by the way I enjoyed, contrary to some bad reviews. There is a moment when the white male American politicians are debating the abolition of slavery and they collectively voice their outrage at the suggestion that it could lead to blacks and women having the right to vote. They were regarded in much the same way as animals are now ie. that they are less intelligent and therefore not entitled to equal rights.
It led me to consider how cultural beliefs can evolve and made me wonder how future generations will regard our treatment of animals. Peter Singer says, “What one generation finds ridiculous, the next accepts; and the third shudders when it looks back on what the first did” and “If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans?”
I'm interested in hearing some other opinions, so please share your comments below.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Sunday, 14 April 2013
This big boy is named Edgar and he is a little larger than Kevin & Francis...combined. This photo was taken in 2009 when I visited Edgar's Mission with my wife. Edgar’s Mission is a not for profit farm sanctuary for rescued animals in Victoria and Edgar was their first resident. It was my first encounter with a pig and it was a memorable experience.
We thoroughly enjoyed being helpers for the day. Who would have thought picking up poo could be so much fun? The animals were all incredibly friendly and trusting, despite the traumatic conditions that some of them would have come from.
Edgar died in 2010 but the wonderful work of the sanctuary continues in his name. During that same year, approximately 4,500,000 pigs were killed in Australia.
Visit their website to find out more information and see how you can help.
Friday, 12 April 2013
Once again Kevin & Francis gave me a warm greeting when I visited them yesterday. They emerged from the trees and trotted up to the fence, making happy(?) grunting noises – I’m not exactly a pig whisperer yet. They greeted me again by sniffing and biting me with their muddy mouths (Note to self: don’t wear thongs again or white pants when visiting the pigs).
They followed me around the entire time I was there. When I ran from one end of the enclosure to the other, they galloped (or cantered? Clearly not a horse whisperer either) along behind me. I was surprised to see how quick their little legs can move. Whenever I stood still though, their snouts were instantly buried in the dirt.
I was starting to think that they weren’t quite as interested in me as I was in them. They were constantly rooting around in the ground and not paying me any attention. Am I really less interesting than dirt? I wondered if they were just following me around, hoping that I knew where the food was. It wasn’t until I left that they ran over to the fence and for the first time ceased their food foraging. Their ears pricked up and they were looking at me and making a different kind of grunt than I had heard previously (last scene of the video). It seemed to be saying, “Come back”. How could I resist?
Thursday, 11 April 2013
I must admit to having had a little chuckle when I read that Kevin and Francis have already escaped a few times from their enclosure. It seems an electric fence isn’t enough to stop these inquisitive little guys. It got me thinking about other stories I have read about pigs escaping from slaughterhouses and lead me to a little searching on the internet. Apparently pigs are “more intelligent than most dogs and three year old children” (http://www.animalsaustralia.org/media/photos.php?photo=Pig+intelligence). I wonder what my three year old child would have to say about that.
Read about other research into pig intelligence here: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/hidden-lives-pigs.aspx
Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Today I went for a run. The mornings seem to have gotten colder very quickly. When running through the village farm (www.aaev.net), I came across our newest residents, Kevin and Francis, two Berkshire pigs. One of our young villagers, Aarod, is doing a year 12 project to “explore animal husbandry that is as humane and ethically sound as possible”. You can read his blog here: http://tailoftwopiggies.blogspot.com.au/
I kept my distance initially, thinking that Kevin and Francis might be a little frightened but they seemed very keen to run up and greet me, grunting all the way. They are very cute, as you can see by the pictures on Aarod’s blog. They enthusiastically sniffed me, not deterred by my post-run man stink. Next they decided to see what my shoes and legs tasted like – pigs do use their teeth to taste, right? My shiny new sneakers are not so shiny anymore. They are very friendly and inquisitive little piggies and brought back memories of my dog when he was a puppy.
I applaud Aarod for taking on such an ambitious project. It will be far more work than I can remember doing in school. I also appreciate the fact that he is trying to find more humane methods for raising animals.
The purpose of my blog though will be to discuss alternatives to animal agriculture. I hope to demonstrate to people that animals are more than just meat and that regardless of the conditions that an animal is raised in, the final outcome is the same – slaughter. For these two pigs, that day is due to come in just a few months, an incredibly short life by any standard.
I have been Vegan for more than 5 years and believe that humans can live happy and healthy lives without the use of animal products. I also believe that a Vegan lifestyle is a better choice for the health of the planet and humans.
When I first learned of the project, my initial thought was to object. I did not want it setting a precedent for animal agriculture on the farm. So my piggy predicament or curly conundrum was.... Do I support a well intentioned project that shares my concern for animal welfare, even though it conflicts with my ethics?
I felt that Aarod and other villagers could learn a lot from the experience and it would open the door to a broader discussion of ethics and the differing opinions of how we define ‘humane treatment’. Many people speak of the disconnection that our culture now has from food and the need to develop a greater appreciation for the source and process involved. I decided that the best approach was to share my opinions and hope that the love and appreciation for these beautiful animals will grow within our community in the coming weeks.
I hope you will join me (and Kevin, Francis, Aarod and the residents of the Aldinga Arts EcoVillage) for the journey.