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Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.

Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher, physician, and musician (Nobel 1952)

Could Veganism End World Hunger?

September 19, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Source Gentle World: for the Vegan in Everyone
By Michael Chatham

Whenever someone in the animal rights community suggests the concept of complete animal liberation, and therefore an end to the exploitation of animals, a common criticism and counter-argument to this goal is: “Humans can’t give up eating animals (or animal products), because then everyone would starve!” Not only is the idea of giving up their favorite edibles anxiety-inducing and even threatening to resolute omnivores, but it seems perfectly rational to them that, given the plight of humans around the globe who are suffering from poverty and hunger, removing animals from the world’s food supply would only exacerbate the situation. However, nothing could be further from the truth. It is actually the production of animal-based foods that is one of the leading causes of world hunger.

It is estimated that a staggering 925 million humans around the world are suffering from the effects of hunger (mostly in the poor and underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa), and out of that original number, 870 million are affected with malnutrition. Those original 925 million actually outnumber the combined populace living in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Think about that for a moment. That means that there are enough hungry people on this planet to fill up almost two entire continents. Furthermore, it must be made clear that this is not just benign hunger; the type felt by a person in the rich, developed world when they’ve missed their lunch break. Every year, starvation claims the lives of over 2.5 million children under the age of five.

However, it has been proven that there is enough food on earth to feed every last man, woman, and child. Yet, if this is the case, why do people around the world continue to starve? The answer to that question lies in large part with the production of animal-based foods, such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Even though there are enough plant-based foods grown to feed the entire human population, the majority of crops (including those grown in countries where people are starving) are fed to livestock for affluent nations, and since the amount of animal-based food produced by the farming industry is much less than the amount of plant food put into it, there is a “diminished return on the investment,” the food supply dwindles, and humans end up going hungry.

Imagine, if you would, all the food (mostly grains) that a cow would eat in the course of 18 to 24 months (which is the average age of most cows when they are slaughtered for their meat). Now imagine if you were somehow able the pile all of that food up in front of you. This massive mountain of food is what has sustained this cow for all of these months; giving him energy, allowing cells to regenerate, bones and muscles to grow, his heart to beat and his lungs to breathe. Now imagine that a slaughterhouse worker came and killed that cow, carving his body up into cuts of meat and placing these cuts of meat into a separate pile. Which of these two piles do you think would feed more people: the pile of meat that used to be his body, or the pile of food that went into creating and nourishing it? This is the stark equation that makes the animal farming industry so illogical and unsustainable.

In 2011, 883 million tons of corn, and 260 million tons of soybeans were grown globally. However, on average, 40-50% of that corn, and 80% of those soybeans are fed to farmed animals, rather than being eaten directly by humans. In 2013, scientists from the Institute on the Environment and the University of Minnesota published a study examining agricultural resources (including meat, dairy, and egg production) and the dilemma of world hunger. The scientists reached the conclusion that if all food crops were fed directly to humans instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply, which would be enough to feed 4 billion additional people. That sudden surplus alone would be enough food to feed over half the humans on earth, let alone the 925 million who face hunger every day.

Cows (and the other animals we eat) are poor converters when it comes to turning food into energy and muscle, which is why it takes anywhere from 13 to-20 pounds of grain fed to a cow to produce just 1 pound of muscle mass, i.e. beef. This means that 13-20 times as many people could be fed if those grains were simply eaten by humans. Likewise, it takes around seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork, and 4.5 pounds of grain to produce one pound of chicken. In a 2009 study, the Worldwatch Institute stated that “…meat consumption is an inefficient use of grain—the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grain to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world’s poor.”

The “diminished return on investment” scenario is further complicated when you consider the fact that cows (exploited for meat, dairy, and leather) as well as other grazing animals, were never biologically designed to eat the massive amounts of grain they are fed by the farming industry. They are ruminants, and evolved to eat grass. However, because the demand for animal products is so high in today’s society, and because farmers want to produce the most product as quickly as possible, animals are fed massive amounts of grain, such as corn. In the age of factory farming, it takes only 18-24 months for a cow to grow to the desired weight and be killed. This is thanks to a steady diet of grains (which humans could be eating) and growth hormones.

However, this is not to say that grass-fed beef is a viable alternative. Livestock grazing threatens native and endangered species through habitat destruction and displacement, and causes soil erosion, which in turn can transform fertile farmland into deserts (a process known as desertification). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that around 70% of the Amazon rainforest has been cut and burned to be used as grazing land for cattle. Ultimately, whether used for grazing or growing feed crops, the use of land and other natural resources for meat, dairy, and egg production is horribly inefficient. Sadly, this does not stop farmers in both developed and developing nations (many of which suffer from widespread hunger and starvation) from using their resources to satisfy the the world’s growing appetite for animal products.

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates poses the question, “If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbor follows a similar path, will we not have need to go to war against our neighbor to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbor will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason?” It seems this question that was asked so many centuries ago is becoming more and more of a reality in the modern world, as many political and economic experts are predicting that future wars will be fought over food, water, land, and other valuable natural resources critical to human survival. Moreover, with the human population of the world at 7 billion and growing, these natural resources are destined to become only more precious. It has come time to do something to solve the global crisis that is world hunger, and the most rational solution should be extremely clear. In order to ensure that every person on the planet has enough food to eat, and ultimately protect our own survival, humans must look deep within themselves and choose the path that is the most compassionate, healthy, and sustainable. That path is veganism.


Farm Sanctuary
Food and Agriculture Organization
Humane Society International
International Vegetarian Union
Jess McNally, Stanford Magazine
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
United Nations World Food Programme
United States Environmental Protection Agency

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Cat rescued from animal testing lab is given first taste of freedom

September 17, 2014

Source Mirror

Held in captivity his entire life, this is the moment Xander the cat is rescued from an animal testing laboratory

Imagine spending your life in the same windowless room?

That was the life of Xander the animal testing cat before he was rescued from a scientific research lab in New York six months ago.

The tear jerking video shows Xander (previously known as Jax) and a fellow former animal testing cat on the day they were first released from the windowless lab where they had been living in tiny cages.

The kitties were rescued by the Feline Freedom Project, part of charity called Beagle Freedom Project which is dedicated to legally rescuing dogs and cats from animal testing. The charity have previously posted adorable videos of rescued Beagles stepping onto grass for the first time.

According to the RSPCA, in 2010 152 cats were used in research in the UK, where as this number is closer to 20,000 in the USA.

Xander has gained quite a following and has over 3000 fans on his Facebook page ‘Xander the rescued lab cat’ where his owner posts regular pictures and updates about him.

His new (guardian) Rachel Gruen recently said on his Facebook fan page, “we are so very grateful for the opportunity to be a voice for the hundreds of thousands of laboratory animals around the world”.


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Missed this year, but please read for the next …

September 15, 2014
Karen Lyons Kalmenson

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

Source International Vulture Awareness Day

Vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds that face a range of threats in many areas that they occur. Populations of many species are under pressure and some species are facing extinction.

The International Vulture Awareness Day has grown from Vulture Awareness Days run by the Birds of Prey Programme in South Africa and the Hawk Conservancy Trust in England, who decided to work together and expand the initiative into an international event.

It is now recognised that a co-ordinated international day will publicise the conservation of vultures to a wider audience and highlight the important work being carried out by the world’s vulture conservationists.

On the first Saturday in September, the aim is for each participating organisation to carry out their own activities that highlight vulture conservation and awareness. This website, established in July 2009, provides a central place for all participants to outline these activities and see the extent of vulture conservation across the world

Additionally this webpage is a valuable resource for vulture workers to learn about the activities of their colleagues and to perhaps develop new collaborations or exchange information.

But you don’t have to be a zoo, bird park or conservation organisation to become involved. Our Awareness Day WikiSpace, with space for participation as well as important resources is open to everyone. Take a look at how you can become involved.

Organisations participating in 2014

Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation Lab,Lucknow, India
(AWARE) Association for Water, Applied Education & Renewable Energy, Pakistan
Accipiter Enterprises, Educational Birds of Prey, United States
African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, South Africa
Albuquerque BioPark, United States
Alula Falconry, United Kingdom
Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, United Kingdom
Animal Rescue Org, India
Arulagam, India
Asociation Trenca, Spain
Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO) – BirdLife in Tunisia, Tunisia
Asters, Conservatoire d’Espaces Naturels de Haute-Savoie, France
Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division/ Bear Hollow Wildlife Trail/ Oconee Rivers Audubon Society, United States
Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, United States
Awe Pono, United States
Bhaktapur Multiple Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
BIOPARC de Doué la Fontaine, France
Bird Conservation Nepal, Nepal
Birdlife Polokwane, South Africa
BirdLife Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Birds of Prey Programme, Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa
Birds of Prey Protection Foundation Belgrade, Serbia
Birds of Pune, India
Birmingham Zoo, United States
Bombay Natural History Society, India
Brookgreen Gardens, United States
Buttonwood Park Zoo, United States
Caldwell Zoo, United States
Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center, United States
Cape Vultures Environmetal Association, Botswana
Carolina Raptor Center, United States
Carvalho’s Friends of a Feather, Inc., United States
Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation, Spain
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, United States, France
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, United States
CMS Raptors MoU, United Arab Emirates
Colectivo Azálvaro, Spain
Dhandatopa Forest Range & NEWS (Odisha), India
Disney’s Animal Kingdom, United States
Eagle Encounters, South Africa
Eagle Heights Wildlife Park, United Kingdom
Eskom/Endangered Wildlife Trust Strategic partnership, South Africa
Falcon Temporis Fauconnerie, France
Faruk Yalçın Zoo, Turkey
Faszination Geier, Germany
Fondo para el Refugio de las Hoces del Riaza, Spain
Forest Department, Lalitpur, India
Friends of Blouberg, South Africa
Fuerteventura Oasis Park, Spain
Gauntlet birds of prey eagle and vulture park, United Kingdom
Geierschutzinitiative GESI, Germany
Graham Bessant, United Kingdom
Grand Parc du Puy du Fou – Académie de Fauconnerie, France
Green Guard Nature Organization, India
GREPOM BirdLife Morocco, Morocco
Grifon – Birds of Prey Conservation Centre, Croatia
Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, United States
Hamerton Zoo Park, United Kingdom
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, United States
Himalayan Nature, Nepal
International Anti-Poaching Foundation/Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe
International Union for Conservation of Nature, Bangladesh
Jharkhand Biodiversity Board, India
Jivdaya cheritable trust, India
Khandesh Nature Conservation Society, India
Knowsley Safari, United Kingdom
Lehigh Valley Zoo, United States
Little Rock Zoo, United States
LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux), France
Masters Of The Skies, United States
McGregor Museum, South Africa
Meadowside Nature Center, United States
Montecasino Bird Gardens, South Africa
NARREC, Namibia
National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, South Africa
Natur- und Tierpark Goldau, Switzerland
Nature Environment & Wildlife Society , Odisha, India
Nature Kenya, Kenya
NatureUganda, Uganda
Neo Human Foundation, India
North Carolina Zoological Park, United States
Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
OASYS (MiniHollywood), Spain
Oregon Coast Aquarium, United States
Oregon Zoo, United States
Ornithological Society “Naše ptice”, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Palmitos Park, Spain
Parco Natura Viva, Italy
Parque Biológico de Gaia, Portugal
Parque Ornitológico de Lourosa, Portugal
Parque Zoológico de Lagos, Portugal
Parque Zoologico Municipal de Córdoba, Spain
Peace Valley Nature Center, United States
Pembrokeshire Falconry, United Kingdom
Pradhikar, Bangladesh
PRADHIKAR(প্রাধিকার), Bangladesh
Pretoria Centre for Cerebral Palsy, South Africa
ProBartgeier, Switzerland
QUERCUS A.N.C.N.- Associação Nacional de Proteção da Natureza, Portugal
Raptor Education Foundation, United States
Raptors Are The Solution, United States
Regional Government of Extremadura, Spain
Riserva naturale del Lago di Cornino, Italy
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, United Kingdom
SAVE / RSPB, India
Save vulture community, India
Science Association, Shardanagar; Tal. Baramati; Dist. Pune, India
Selwo Aventura, Spain
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, United States
Society for Conservation of Nature, India
Society for the Preservation of Wild Culture, Canada
Sulphur Creek Nature Center, United States
Swastishree, India
Tallahassee Museum, United States
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, United States
Terra Natura Benidorm, Spain
The Center for Birds of Prey, United States
The Corbett Foundation, India
The Parahawking Project, Nepal
The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey, United States
The Wildlife Center of Virginia, United States
The Wildlife Welfare Society, Pakistan
Thompson Park Zoo and Conservancy, United States
Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
Toronto Zoo, Canada
Tracy Aviary, United States
Travis Audubon, United States
TreeHouse Wildlife Center, United States
Tunisia Wildlife Conservation Society (TWCS), Tunisia
UIZA-Italian Association of Zoos and Acquaria, Italy
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
University of Lucknow, India
UP State Biodiversity Board, India
Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe (VAWZ), Zimbabwe
Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), Switzerland
Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) – Acción por el mundo salvaje (AMUS), Spain
Vultures namibia, Namibia
Vultures Return in Bulgaria Project, Bulgaria
WildCare, United States
Wildlife ACT (Hluhluwe), South Africa
Woodland Park Zoo, United States
World Bird Sanctuary, United States
Zoo Aquarium de Madrid, Spain
Zoo de La Barben, France
Zoo Miami, United States
Zoo Outreach Organization, India
Zoo Praha / Prague Zoo, Czech Republic
Zoo Zlin, Czech Republic
Zoobotánico de Jerez, Spain
Zoological Society of London, United Kingdom

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Faith, Radicalism, and Saying What We Mean

September 12, 2014

Published on Aug 11, 2014: What did SHAC7 defendant Lauren Gazzola find harder than walking into prison?

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Proof That Barbaric Traditions like Hunting and Trapping Can Change: Indian court bans animal sacrifice

September 10, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Source The Guardian

Rights activists hail Himachal Pradesh’s decision to outlaw ‘barbaric’ slaughter of animals in Hindu temples

A court in remote northern India has banned a long tradition of sacrificing animals for religious reasons, deeming the practice cruel and barbaric.

The high court in Himachal Pradesh has asked police and other officials to enforce its ban on the slaughter, mainly of goats in Hindu temples throughout the state.

“No person will sacrifice any animal in any place of worship. It includes adjoining lands and buildings,” the two-judge bench of the court ruled late on Monday.

“A startling revelation has been made … thousands of animals are sacrificed every year in the name of worship,” the court said.

“Sacrifice causes immense pain and suffering to innocent animals. They cannot be permitted to be sacrificed to appease a god or deity in a barbaric manner,” it said.

The court also questioned the reasons for animal sacrifices, saying such rituals “must change in the modern era”.

The court was ruling on a petition brought by animal rights activists, who applauded the move on Tuesday as long overdue.

“We welcome this ban on animal sacrifice as it will end centuries of cruelty to animals in the name of religion,” local activist Rajeshwar Negi told AFP.

But state lawmaker Maheshwar Singh defended the practice, saying: “This judgment is against the age-old beliefs and customs of many people.”

Goats and sometimes sheep are often sacrificed at the start of winter in temples across Himachal Pradesh with the aim of pleasing Hindu deities.

Animals are symbolically offered to the deity and later taken home by villagers and their guests for eating during the Himalayan state’s bitterly cold winter.

Some of the sacrifices at festivals, including those of “shaand” and “bhunda”, involve large numbers of animals killed using a knife at the entrance of the temples.

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Animals can be ‘victims’ just like people, Oregon Supreme Court says

September 8, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

A good step, but would be a great step if it included animals exploited and sacrificed for profit, including animals killed for food and fur.

Source Oregon Live
By Aimee Green

In two landmark rulings earlier this month, the Oregon Supreme Court said that animals — whether they be horses, goats, dogs or cats — shall be afforded some of the same basic protections as human beings.

The dual rulings are expected to make it easier for police to rush to the aid of ailing animals without first obtaining a warrant. They also could result in harsher criminal repercussions for those found guilty of abusing or neglecting animals.

“These are hugely helpful to the prosecution of animal-cruelty cases,” said Jacob Kamins, a Corvallis-based prosecutor assigned to pursuing such cases across Oregon.

Specifically, in State v. Arnold Nix, the supreme court ruled that a Umatilla County man who was convicted of starving 20 horses and goats on his property could be sentenced — not just on one count of second-degree animal neglect — but on 20 different counts, meaning each animal counted as a separate “victim.”

For defendants in general, that could result in longer jail or prison sentences, and make it more difficult for defendants to — years later — expunge such convictions off of their criminal records.

“To acknowledge that animals are victims of crime, that’s really common sense to us,” said Lora Dunn, staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Portland.

Nix, who was 68 at the time of his arrest in 2009, argued that the ordinary meaning of “victims” doesn’t include “non-humans,” and Oregon law defines animals as the property of their human owners.

In State vs. Linda Fessenden and Teresa Dicke, the supreme court found that a sheriff’s deputy was legally justified in 2010 in rushing onto a Douglas County pasture to get medical help for a horse that was so malnourished every one of its ribs was showing. The state’s high court ruled that the deputy, who thought the horse was in immediate danger of falling and dying, didn’t need a warrant to step onto private property and get the animal to a veterinarian.

As Nix had argued, Fessenden and Dicke also argued that state law defines animals as property — and police should first have to obtain a warrant before bursting onto private property to prevent harm to property.

The high court agreed that animals are still defined by law as “property.” But the court ruled that the deputy didn’t violate the constitutional search and seizure rights of its two owners because “exigent circumstance” existed — that is that swift action was required to prevent harm to people or to property.

The deputy estimated it would take four to eight hours to obtain the warrant, and by then, it might not be possible to save the horse.

“We get calls every day from law enforcement in Oregon and other states that say ‘I need help right now. These animals are on the brink of death’ — whether it’s a hoarding case with cats or dogs in a puppy mill or horses that are starving,” said Dunn of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“Absolutely, we recommend ‘Get a warrant if you can,’” Dunn said. “Because we don’t want to deal with these constitutional issues down the line.”

But sometimes, Dunn said, an animal’s life might be in jeopardy in the time it takes to get a warrant. Dunn said that’s why her organization is “thrilled” about the Fessenden/Dicke case.

In making its findings — some of the strongest favoring animal rights to date — the high court noted how Oregon law is evolving to reflect the sentiments of society in general.

Justice Martha Lee Walters, who wrote the Fessenden/Dicke opinion for the court, noted that household pets, such as dogs, and even a farm animal — the horse — “occupy a unique position in people’s hearts” and that’s reflected in the development of animal-welfare laws.

Walters referenced a legal fight by American attorneys trying to establish the right of a chimpanzee to sue its owner for poor living conditions, and even a zoo in India that won’t allow the exhibition of dolphins because of their advanced intelligence.

Walters also cited a 2013 study by the Animal Legal Defense Fund that ranked Oregon second and Washington seventh among states for their laws protecting animals. Among Oregon’s strengths, the study said, were laws that increase penalties if the harm to the animal happened in the presence of a child and the power of judges to require mental-health counseling.

“As we continue to learn more about the interrelated nature of all life, the day may come when humans perceive less separation between themselves and other living beings than the law now reflects,” Walters wrote. “However, we do not need a mirror to the past or a telescope to the future to recognize that the legal status of animals has changed and is changing still…”

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Role Reversals and the Death of A Thousand Cuts

September 5, 2014
Those Vegan Hedonists

Those Vegan Hedonists

Source Those Vegan Hedonists
By Kimberly

As a sheltered, suburban child, I remember many public “awareness” campaigns that were designed to scare me straight. Many of these campaigns had the intended effect. I never abused drugs, smoking cigarettes never stuck, and sex was a highly-plasticized, “safe” experience.

Paranoia can be a good thing. I’m glad I was warned about the awful things that can happen to those who aren’t careful, even if the result was an inhibited, easily terrified young person who seldom went out at night and who could count the times she was genuinely drunk on one hand. Because of paranoia (and sometimes it was outright unfounded paranoia, such as in the case of marijuana smoking) I ended up disease-free, addiction-free, and without any unwanted pregnancies.

Now I am getting to the age where my contemporaries are beginning to suffer aches, pains, excess weight, fatigue, constipation, and mental fogginess. One of my ex-boyfriends died of a particularly violent cancer at the age of thirty-seven. Another ex died of a mysterious aneurysm at age forty. The rest who survived the twenty year high school reunion have become portly or flabby and consistently haggard. When I enter a room full of people “my age”, I feel like the female Dorian Gray. This is true every time I am among people of my age group except when I gather with my vegan contemporaries. My vegan pals are my fellows in youth and vibrance. Their eyes are bright, their minds are sharp, and they almost always look younger than their years. They are living proof a plant based diet is not a panacea for every ailment, however, it can be extremely helpful in the avoidance of heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. Why? A plant-based diet lowers inflammation. Inflammation, as far as I understand it, tends to be the root of almost all human diseases.

I was born in 1973; you do the math. I went vegetarian at age seventeen and vegan at age thirty-seven. I have never felt better in my life, including my teens. I know from my experiences with birth control and addiction avoidance that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. Yet the very people who taught me everything I know are now losing the battle against their own addictions.

My parents have made major strides in their diet of late, but they have a long way to go. They are Baby Boomers who were indoctrinated to believe the pinnacle of a healthy dinner features a chunk of grayish-red cadaver surrounded by a starch, usually white, and a cooked vegetable. Said plate is accompanied by a large glass of cow’s milk and followed by a creamy dessert where fruit is used mainly as a flavoring to give the sugar dose more dimensionality.

My parents came of age in the nineteen sixties. The sixties are an era marked by colossal ignorance of food’s impact upon human health. If you want to view the apex of disgusting, dismal, health destroying foodlike-substances, simply open any cookbook from the sixties. The funniest thing about my parent’s generation is their superstitious reverence of protein, a myth so well-perpetuated it persists today. Never mind that excessive protein consumption is a smoking gun on-switch for cancer. Similar beliefs proliferate around the calcium in bovine milk (hint, there isn’t any, it’s fortified artificially), olive oil, and almost every other not-so-superfood out there. People believe what they want to hear. No generation is more guilty of this than the Boomers, who paved the way for the success of “Eat All The Garbage You Want And Wait for Someone To Invent A Magic Pill” mentality.

Everybody wants something for nothing. The idea we can eat pounds of animal fat and be perfectly fine illustrates a mendacious thought process most of us have fallen for at some point in our lives. Health problems are always blamed on someone or something else: environmental triggers, allergies, genetics. If only “they” would come up with a Cure!

Buying a pink ribbon bumper magnet or the suffering the momentary pain of dumping ice water over one’s head is far easier than taking the time to restructure one’s diet. It feels good to think nothing can be done about a problem, because that means you don’t have to do anything. Diet fads would have no market if it weren’t for the mentally lazy. Permanently changing one’s diet for the better involves research, planning, and scrutiny. It involves overcoming addictive foods like sugar, meat, dairy, eggs, and salt. It may mean learning to cook or to use new ingredients. We’re talking actual work! Most people would rather buy a book that tells them to avoid eating bread and rice so they can go into ketosis and drop serious pounds for a few weeks. When the weight crawls back, worse than ever, oh well. It was a quick fix. When disease comes, it’s only because the magic pill has not arrived on schedule, despite countless millions of dollars donated to fundraising efforts for supposed research.

My parent’s generation is dropping like proverbial flies, and they are not dying peacefully. Every week brings news from a random colleague or relative who is suffering what I call the Death of A Thousand Cuts. The Death of A Thousand Cuts was originally a torture invented by the Chinese. Body parts were hacked off, little by little over the period of several days, until the poor victim expired of blood loss and trauma.

The modern Death of A Thousand Cuts, inflicted by doctors and high-tech hospitals, is just a little worse than its old Chinese torture counterpart. Modernity insists in trying to keep the sufferer alive as long as possible through the very expensive dying process.

1. The Death begins with the odd trip to a clueless doctor who has received a sum total of two hours of nutritional training in medical school and who is paid by drug representatives to push various medications regardless of the interest of the patient. The doctor finds an aberration. Sometimes it’s an ulcer or a hernia. Sometimes it’s a small tumor. Who knows. The one thing we’re sure of is it requires a pricey surgery and plentiful drugs!

2. The next phase of the Death is a recuperation period where the patient is fed a joke-diet of chicken broth, cheese, and Jello (the melted down hooves, connective tissue, and bones of slaughtered animals with corn syrup and artificial cherry flavoring) and expected to get “better” LOL. Because the human body is very resilient, the patient lives to see another day, though there is almost invariably at least two pills he or she must begin a regimen of. Those pills will have lots of fun side effects, for which other pills will be prescribed.

3. Since absolutely nothing has been done to address the patient’s baseline health, the client will find himself in the hospital again. What’s this? Oh, the tumor is back. Or the patient now has diabetes. Or there’s an infection in the lungs that lingers for weeks and never gets better.

4. More surgery is scheduled. This time, the stakes are higher. A body part gets cut off this time. Dialysis becomes necessary. A lung collapses. The patient suffers a staph infection.

5. Lather, rinse, repeat until the patient is in a nursing home, strapped to a MRSA clogged IV, sitting in his own filthy diaper waiting for an overworked nurse assistant while watching endless reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. His pain is so bad, even constipation-causing opiates do nothing to alleviate it. He wishes for death, because anything would be better than languishing in a destroyed, maimed shell of a body, humiliated when people do visit his freak show of agony and depressed when they do not.

I’d gladly put a gun in my mouth first, however, it’s not like the Death of A Thousand Cuts is a surprise. They know it is coming. They watch all their friends die of it. They fool themselves into a magic pill/there’s nothing I can do paradigm. This is my parent’s generation and it SUCKS.

Remember those commercials, so often lampooned, that asked parents if they had talked to their children about… fill in the blank: smoking, drugs, stranger danger?

I imagine a public service announcement in the vegan future that goes like this:

Have you talked to your aging parents about the Death of A Thousand Cuts?

I had this conversation with my parents a couple of times.

Mom, dad, do you realize you don’t have to repeat your friend’s mistakes?

Do you realize you can change your tune before the symphony is over?

Do you understand that meat, dairy, and eggs are addictive and that your doctor-dealer is suffering from the same addiction and papering over the effects in order to sell you drugs?

Do you realize you are being manipulated into buying addictive foods so you can be siphoned into expensive medical “care” which only ends in one result?

My parents hated that I smoked for a few years because they watched my grandparents die painful deaths of smoking-related diseases. There was also the fact I used to come home reeking like an ashtray after a weekend with grandma. Because I am a little shitski, I have deliberately confronted them with the irony of their addiction to eating animals versus the addiction of their own parents to smoking cigarettes. I’m repeating history. I’m nagging them because I love them and because I care.

I like to think if I nag hard enough, one day they’ll listen.

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