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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)

The Normalization of Nonhuman Oppression in Education

October 16, 2017

Source Free From Harm

Artwork courtesy of Dana Ellyn, Summer School, 10″x13″ acrylic on photo, available:

One of the greatest challenges faced by the animal liberation community is the normalization of violence against, and captivity of, nonhumans that is imposed upon human children. This is widely discussed as problematic with respect to events in a child’s life, such as visiting a zoo or a circus, or attending a Fourth of July barbecue. As I recently became a literacy tutor specializing in elementary school students, I find that this is also prevalent in the materials one is expected to use as well as those provided by both public and private elementary schools.

Reading Skills Grade 3, published by Flash Kids, is one of many widely available workbooks used by tutors to provide support to elementary school students who are not reading at grade level. (The number of such students in New York City is astounding; as of 2013, a staggering seventy-four percent of students in grades 3-8 in New York City were reading below grade level. In 2015, nationally, nearly one-third  of 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-grade students read below “basic” level, while just over one-third read at or above “proficiency.”) This workbook includes a number of exercising regarding paragraphs. One section pertains to finding the main idea— students are given a brief paragraph and then asked to choose from four options which best states the main idea of what they have just read.

I was disappointed to find when I first began working with this book that a significant number of the passages related to some form of animal exploitation. One passage had to do with the responsibilities of being a zookeeper, with no regard whatsoever for the victim’s perspective— what it’s like to be a “zoo animal.” The passage, of course, glorified the role of zookeeper and depicted it as a nonhuman animal’s friend and caretaker. In short, it described zookeepers as they might describe themselves, glorifying the captor while ignoring the captive. Another passage described a young boy’s dedication to fishing in such a way that it appeared almost admirable. The focus of said passage was on his patience and determination, not on the act of murder to which he was so devoted. Indeed, in the passage, the boy never actually caught a fish; but we are supposed to admire him for waiting all day and all night, not making a sound, determined to reach his goal.

Please read rest HERE

until we recognize our own “animal” state
our fellow beings will still suffer terrible fates.
we must learn and teach that in the eyes of the
whatever his/her name
we are all his/her children…
one and the same!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Vegan Hero

October 9, 2017

Source Veganism A Truth Whose Time Has Come

My vegan hero is Leslie Cross; an early pioneer of the vegan movement and the man who is responsible for bringing about a literal definition of veganism that equated it with animal rights. Although the first Vegan Society was formed by Donald Watson and 5 members in 1944, it was not until 1949 that Leslie J. Cross pointed out that the society lacked an official definition. He then suggested: “the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man”. This was later clarified to “seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man”. The definition was again changed in 1979.
In spring of 1951, Leslie Cross wrote an essay in the early vegan publication which concluded with the following quote: “A great and historic wrong, whose effect upon the course of evolution must have been stupendous, would be righted. The idea that his fellow creatures might be used by man for self-interested purposes would be so alien to human thought as to be almost unthinkable. In this light, veganism is not so much welfare as liberation, for the creatures and for the mind and heart of man; not so much an effort to make the present relationship bearable, as an uncompromising recognition that because it is in the main one of master and slave, it has to be abolished before something better and finer can be built. ~~ Veganism is in truth an affirmation that where love is, exploitation vanishes. It possesses historical continuity with the movement that set free the human slaves. Were it put into effect, every basic wrong done to animals by man would automatically disappear. At its heart is the healing power of compassion, the highest expression of love of which man is capable. For it is a giving without hope of a getting. And yet, because he would free himself from many of the demands made by his own lower nature, the benefit to man himself would be incalculable.”
~Leslie Cross, (Vice-President, The Vegan Society)
39, Willow Crescent East, Uxbridge, Middx.

I saw a SILK commercial on television last night and thought of Leslie Cross and how happy he would be to see this mainstream advertisement of a plant-milk, as well as all the many vegan milks on the market today. In June of 1956, Leslie Cross founded the Plantmilk Society, which in 1972 became Plamil Foods, in the United Kingdom. He became a vegan in 1942, and at that time argued that dairy-milk production was cruel and exploitative. The first plant milk was fortified with calcium, vitamins B2, B12 and D2. In 1965 Plantmilk Ltd had Cross as its first full-time employee.

An obituary by early vegan pioneer; Kathleen Jannaway appeared in the spring 1980 issue that read:

“Leslie Cross, vegan for 35 years, founder member of the Vegan Society, and of the Plantmilk Society, died peacefully in his sleep on 2nd December, 1979. Inspired by his deep love of all life he looked forward to the day when plant milks would be generally used and a great burden thus lifted from the gentle cow. He was managing director of Plantmilk Ltd when it was at Langley, Bucks, was Secretary of the Plantmilk Society until his death, and often used his skill as a journalist to write on behalf of animals. We offer our sympathy to his wife, Constance, who worked so hard with him to forward the cause of animal compassion, and to his son and daughter, who were fine examples of vegan children.”

Thank-you Vegan Information Project (Ireland) for the posters with his quotes.

Order a FREE vegan kit:

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click on the below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend.


Looking for merchandise? Action for Animals has a very good selection :

Have questions? Click HERE

this man was love personified
he found his truth
and he always tried
to share that love
he felt so strong.
it takes a world of compassion
to make this world
get along.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


SHARK Exposes Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE)

October 2, 2017

Source YouTube SHARK

Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) claims to do science-based evaluations of animal protection organizations, however, SHARK is exposing that as being false. The problem is that ACE reviews – which are important because those who receive “top Charity” status can potential make millions in donations – appear to be biased in favor of one particular person, an activist named Nick Cooney. How is it possible that with over 20,000 animal organizations in the US alone, only organizations connected to Nick Cooney receive “Top Charity” status? Harrison Nathan’s essays about ACE:

SHARK’S letters to ACE:

For more information about waste, incompetence, laziness and fraud in the animal protection movement, please go to *We have been alerted that Vegan Outreach was once, at the very start of ACE, briefly listed as a Top Charity. What’s interesting is that we could find no mention of this on ACE’s website, but it was found on an internet archive website with ACE’s old website. Apparently ACE was caught in a controversy about a study on leafletting involving VO (see Mr. Nathan’s essays) and we have been told that information was removed from the ACE site because of this. We must also note that Vegan Outreach had ties to Mr. Cooney as well, including him having his own page on the VO website, so this only adds to our claims about his relations to Top Charities. We will have more on this in a future video. On August 9, 2017, the blog Animals 24-7 posted an article about SHARK’s efforts to expose ACE. You can review the article at:

Order a FREE vegan kit:

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click on the below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend.


Looking for merchandise? Action for Animals has a very good selection :

Have questions? Click HERE

is there no place where the corrupt
and greedy
do not take away from
the kind and needy.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Lauren Gazzola – Human Supremacy: What Does the Animal Rights Movement Mean?

September 25, 2017

Source YouTube: Direct Action Everywhere

SHAC 7 defendant Lauren Gazzola delivered a keynote address at the 2017 National Animal Rights Conference, urging conference attendees to think about the meaning of the animal rights movement. Help us caption & translate this video!

human supremacy
a joke that failed
and we will make sure
that cruel ship
has sailed
and in its place
a kinder face!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


How Co-option of Grass-Roots Activism Played Out in Kansas City’s First VegFest

September 18, 2017

Source JoAnn Farb


When I heard that a new group, Voices for Animals Kansas City (VFAKC) was planning to host Kansas City’s first VegFest, I was thrilled.  Although it seemed odd that they didn’t reach out to the longest running animal right’s group in the area, Animal Outreach of Kansas, and invite them to participate, I didn’t start to have concerns until AOK’s founder, Judy Carman inquired about tabling at the Vegfest and was informed that to have a table would cost her 300.00 dollars — the same as for food vendors, even though she wasn’t selling anything, and didn’t have that kind of budget.  My concerns grew when I found out HSUS and Whole Foods (one of the largest meat retailers in the US.) were both sponsors.  

How would messaging at the vegfest be impacted by its sponsors?

Sponsors provide money expecting to get something.  Non-profits typically sponsor expecting to expand membership and increase revenue.   In the case of VFAKC’s Vegfest — HSUS wasn’t just a sponsor, but also provided one of the speakers — Paul Shapiro.

KC’s first VegFest was free and open to the public, and my family went and mingled with other attendees.  Our intent was to support and promote veganism by talking with others. When we talked with non-vegans, we shared literature that encouraged veganism.  When attendees told us that they were already vegan, we discussed the issue of co-option within the movement and provided them the flyer pictured above (front) and below (back).


Overwhelmingly the people we met expressed gratitude that we were raising awareness of this issue.   At no point were we loud or disruptive in any way.  We simply spoke respectfully one on one with individuals, and heard no objections.

But in weeks following the Vegfest we heard from a number of people that the Vegfest’s main organizer, Dave Swarts, was upset when he learned after the fact that we had been providing this literature to people and he was seeking to block us from attending next year’s Vegfest.  Dave told others (incorrectly) that we were distributing  “Humane Watch” literature. Humane Watch is a well-known front group for animal exploiting industries, that also is very critical of HSUS.  Mischaracterizing our hand-out and the website it linked to in this way, may cause those supportive of HSUS  to not even look into the substance of what we were saying.   After hearing how upset Dave was and that our actions were being misconstrued, my daughter reached out with an email to Dave asking to set up a phone call to discuss what happened, hoping that they could better understand each other’s perspective.

12 days later, Dave Swarts replied to my daughter with the following emailed statement and he copied me too:


It is ironic that Dave used the words, “conflict with our brand” in his statement.  If we are both  working to help animals, why would his biggest expressed concern be his “brand”? Perhaps this definition of co-option HERE can shed some light:


When the vegan movement began in 1944 with the coining of the word, “vegan,” it was clearly defined as the exclusion of all forms of exploitation of animals.  Keep in mind — factory farms were not yet known.  Nearly all animals were raised on family farms like those being promoted as “humane” by organizations like HSUS.  

I’ve been vegan over 25 years and have witnessed messaging from large animal advocacy groups changing in a disturbing way.  Groups, that once advocated for justice for animals, are suddenly steering the conversation away from promoting veganism to endorsing meat, dairy and eggs from farms they now refer to as, “humane,” in some cases even giving their stamp of approval as with the infamous Whole Foods Letter, or when Peta gave an award to Temple Grandin for designing a “humane” slaughterhouse.  To put that in perspective, consider what would be the public’s reaction if Amnesty International gave an award to a dictator for jailing dissidents in more comfortable jails and feeding them a great meal before killing them by lethal injection, instead of a firing squad?  Should animal advocates publicly applaud baby steps that still perpetrate violent injustice against animals?  How would you feel if Amnesty International suggested that the less terrible dictators were our allies in the struggle against the most horrific dictators?

Now juxtapose that scenario with a real conversation that occurred on a vegan Kansas City Facebook group, when a new vegan, expressed interest in holding a vigil in front of a small local slaughterhouse to raise awareness.  The new vegan asked if anyone knew where local slaughterhouses were, and Dave tried to dissuade this individual by suggesting that these slaughterhouses were, “allies” with vegans who work to raise awareness about the injustice of exploiting animals:


​What does it mean if we begin to ally with those who are profiting off of the exploitation and killing of animals?  What is left of our movement, if we are no longer clearly opposed to exploitation and killing of other beings? What does that make our movement a movement for?  

​Does messaging matter?
One of the speakers at KC’s VegFest was Paul Shapiro, a VP at HSUS.  As a segue to his endorsement of cultured meat, (Which I have raised concerns about in my post, Cultured Meat, Yellow Rice, Cage Free Eggs, Have YOU Been Duped?)   Paul told the audience a tall-tale about how whales benefitted from the transition from whale oil lamps popular in the 1800s to kerosene lamps — a tale that I have deconstructed in my post, Dangerous Myths that Threaten AnimalsPaul used that tale as a metaphor for why people who care about animals should now endorse cultured meat.Paul also made the following Orwellian statement while on stage:

“We should accept that not all animal raising is the same…In fact if all animals were raised that way [on small farms] we might go do something else with our lives…because there’d be maybe bigger problems.”
                                                                          –Paul Shapiro HSUS VP

Why is VFAKC providing a platform for sentiments contrary to real justice for animals?   I  shudder to think how this messaging (which also included suggesting that ethically, its better to eat beef than chicken) might have influenced attendees.  How many people on the verge of considering veganism — because a vegan spokesperson/leader suggested that embracing or working for “humane” meat/dairy/eggs is a morally acceptable alternative to veganism, will now become consumers of, “happy meat?” instead of embracing veganism?   Might this translate into economic benefits for sponsors like Whole Foods and HSUS?
IF you are involved with the group Voices for Animals — or for that matter, ANY group that is partnering with entities which might present a conflict of interest, I urge you to speak up and raise awareness.  Go to their events and dialogue with others who attend.  If you are not sure what constitutes a conflict of interest, Tribe of Heart Defined  it Here:


Who is VFAKC advocating for — the animals or their sponsors? 

PLEASE do all you can  to keep the conversation about industry co-option of grass-roots animal advocacy alive!   If you attend VFAKC events, make sure others there know what is taking place and share information.  Share this post on your social media, email it to friends who may not be on FB.  Print out some of the articles that I have linked to and share them with others. The animals need us to speak up!

If you’d like to know more about how conflicts-of-interest are undermining grass-roots activism and decades of work by sincere activists on behalf of other beings, read Invasion of the Movement Snatchers and When Animal Groups Promote Happy Meat, and watch the video, Happy Meatopia. I would also encourage you to read this excellent post by Gary Francione explaining how the Vegan Society of the UK — THE very first vegan society ever — founded in 1944 by Donald Watson has also been, coopted/rebranded.

​Something else just bought to my attention is this 2012 article:

Justice For Animals, Respect for Advocates — Ideas too Dangerous for Corporatized Animal Advocacy?

if they could speak
what would they say.
now all they can
do is pray…
and hope some kindness
comes their

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Planet of the Apes: Speciesism Exposed

September 11, 2017

Free From Harm

Source Free From Harm

The third installment of the epic prequel to the original Planet of the Apes movies came out recently and I was captivated along with everyone else in the theatre. Cheering for the mass extinction of your own species is an peculiar feeling — a little unnerving when you pause to think about it — but so easy to get on board when the human species’ litany of destructive, vicious, and callous actions are on full display as they so expertly were in this trilogy.

These three films are a startling illustration of speciesism, the assumption of human superiority resulting in the exploitation of animals. Many doomsday scenario films fill us with dread of asteroids and trepidation of severe weather events, but this apocalypse — or ape-ocalypse as graffiti on a wall suggests in the third film — is more subtle, emerging from our arrogance, greed, and disregard for other species. I am not the only one to perceive the speciesist themes of the movie that this writer also points out in her article where she explains that “War for the Planet of the Apes” inspired her to go vegetarian.

Starting with the first installment of the trilogy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, we meet young Caser, who was born in a laboratory experimenting on apes for a potential Alzheimer’s drug. The death of his mother is one of the most tragic scenes in all three films. Laboratory workers are trying to forcefully take her out of her cage, not knowing that she has just given birth. She was hiding her infant from them and gets violent when she feels she had no other way of protecting him from the humans. After escaping through the building, she is dramatically shot dead on a board room table where the drug company executives were plotting to make billions on the drug that had been tested on her. The symbolism was not subtle.

Please read the rest HERE

if we choose to see
with “blinded” eyes
who will hear
the wounded’s cries
who will reach out
who will go that
one step, far
so we can be better

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


United Poultry Concerns and the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos

September 5, 2017

Wikimedia Commons

Please sign HERE

United Poultry Concerns and the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos would like to invite you to participate in our campaign exposing the cruelty of Kaporos. Kaporos is a ritual preceding Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, occurring in late September this year, in which thousands of chickens are “swung” and then slaughtered by certain ultra-orthodox Jewish communities. Practitioners wave the chickens over their heads by the legs or by pinning the bird’s wings painfully backward while reciting a chant about transferring their sins and punishment symbolically onto the bird.

Our campaign seeks to end this horrific cruelty to chickens at Kaporos sites year after year in New York City, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and everywhere the ritual is performed. Prior to the ritual, thousands of chickens are crammed into transport crates without food or water for as long as four days. They are deprived of shelter from rain, heat, and cold. Many die in the crates of starvation, dehydration, heat stress, and fear. More and more rabbis are publicly condemning Kaporos for violating the Jewish values of mercy and compassion for animals.

We would like to encourage you to join our campaign by taking this simple action:

Please send an alert to your members informing them of the inhumane practice of using chickens in Kaporos and encourage them to sign our petition. This petition urges major Orthodox Rabbinical Organizations to oppose the use of chickens for Kaporos and encourage practitioners to perform the ritual with money instead of chickens, an accepted method of atonement. Please feel free to pull copy, text, or images directly from our site to create your own post based on the content of our petition.

Please share our petition on your social media sites and/or website and urge people to sign. Here is the full link to our petition:

Thank you for your collaboration to help end this cruel practice. Let me know if you have any questions and please provide me with a link to any alert or post you create.

With compassion,

Hope Bohanec
Projects Manager, United Poultry Concerns
Office: 707-540-1760

until we see ourselves and animals
on an even par,
we as a species will
not go far!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


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