Skip to content

Unity ...

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)

Are Disability Rights and Animal Rights Connected?

June 19, 2017



In her book “Beasts of Burden,” Sunaura Taylor discusses the intersectionality of disability and animality.ILLUSTRATION BY BETH HOECKEL; SOURCE PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIK McGREGOR

Source The New Yorker  By Joshua Rothman

In 2004, when she was twenty-three, Sunaura Taylor Googled “arthrogryposis,” the name of a condition she has had since birth. Its Greek roots mean “hooked joints”; the arms and legs of many people who have it are shorter than usual because their joints are permanently flexed. Taylor was curious about whether animals had it, too. In the journal of the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Centre, she found a report called “Congenital Limb Deformity in a Red Fox.” It described a young fox with arthrogryposis. He had “marked flexure of the carpal and tarsal joints of all four limbs”—that is, hooked legs. He walked on the backs of his paws, which were heavily callused. In a surprised tone, the report noted that he was muscular, even a little fat: his stomach contained “the remains of two rodents and bones from a larger mammal mixed with partially digested apple, suggesting that the limb deformity did not preclude successful hunting and foraging.” All this had been discovered after he had been shot by someone walking in the woods, who noticed that he “had an abnormal gait and appeared sick.”

Taylor was taken aback by this story. The fox, she thought, had been living a perfectly good life before someone had shot it. Perhaps that someone—the report named only “a resident of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia”—had been afraid of it; maybe he’d seen it as a weird, stumbling creature and imagined the shooting as an act of mercy. Taylor’s hands are small, and she has trouble lifting them; she uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. Once, her libertarian grandmother had told her that, were it not for the help of others, Taylor would “die in the woods.” When she read about the fox, she was coming into political consciousness as a disabled person. She had been learning about what disabilities scholars call the “better-off-dead narrative”—the idea, pervasive in movies and books, that life with a disability is inherently and irredeemably tragic. In the fox, she saw herself.

 Since the age of thirteen, Taylor has been a painter. A painting from 2009, “Arthrogryposis Animals,” is a self-portrait in which she stands, nude, next to two pigs and a calf; all four have crooked limbs. In another, “Self-Portrait Marching with Chickens,” she is walking in a field; the chickens around her, weighed down by their disproportionately large upper bodies, are disabled, too. The paintings are unsettling, absurd, and provocative. Without explaining themselves, they lay claim to a territory that disabled people usually try to avoid: the space where disability and animality meet.

Earlier this year, Taylor, who is now thirty-five, published a book called “Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation.” It makes explicit the ideas in her art. When she was small, Taylor writes, other children told her that she walked like a monkey and ate like a dog; by this, they meant that her disability made her like an animal and, therefore, less than human. In “Beasts of Burden,” she argues that they had everything backward. Human beings are already animals; age, disease, and accident mean that all able-bodiedness is a temporary state. Even able-bodied people can “die in the woods” alone—they, too, are dependent upon society. Disabled people should be proud to associate themselves with animals, Taylor argues, because the same ideology, ableism, oppresses both groups. If you’re cognitively or physically disabled, it’s ableism that tells you that you’re worth less than a more capable person; similarly, if you’re an animal, it’s ableism that makes eating you permissible, since you can’t do what humans do.

Taylor has been a vegetarian and animal-rights advocate since the age of six; earlier this month, we met for lunch at a vegetarian restaurant near N.Y.U., where she is now a graduate student in American studies. She has short brown hair, a broad smile, and a strong chin, and wore vaguely hippie clothes: a plain T-shirt, patterned trousers, rubber boots. Taylor is adept at using her mouth for everyday tasks, such as retrieving items from her handbag. (She paints by holding the brush in her mouth.) “I feel animal in my embodiment,” she writes, “and this feeling is one of connection, not shame.” She continues, “When I rummage through my purse with my face, sometimes getting spit on my cell phone or accidentally ingesting something unpleasant . . . I think of animals—pigs who root with their noses, birds who build nests with their beaks.”

“As I’ve gotten older, my understanding of disability has become very politicized,” she said, over faux-chicken salad, “but when I was a little kid, I had a simpler origin story that made sense of being disabled.” She was born in 1982, in Tucson, Arizona. Her father was a Ph.D. student in pharmacology, and they lived in a low-income neighborhood near the airport. “I came out the way I am, and other kids in the neighborhood started coming out similarly,” she said. “In the end, we traced it back to Hughes Aircraft, which had been burying toxic waste—mostly really mundane stuff, like airplane degreasers—in unlined pits in the ground since the Korean War.” (The airport is now a Superfund site.) “In my kid brain, I thought, This is my story, I should do something with it.” The family moved to Athens, Georgia, where her mother, an artist, “unschooled” Sunaura and her siblings—essentially, the children directed themselves, creating their own puppet shows, story cycles, and research projects. (Taylor’s sister Astra is a filmmaker and activist; they have another sister, Tara, and a brother, Alexander.) “I guess ‘liberation’ was a theme from the beginning,” Taylor said.

When she was twelve, Taylor’s other grandmother—“the Buddhist, Canadian one, not the atheist libertarian one”—took her to visit a New Age healer. “We were at a kind of hippie festival, and there was this woman who said she could cure people,” Taylor recalled. “There were tons of people there, and she came up to me, and—all of a sudden—I got so angry.” Remembering the scene, Taylor’s eyes widened. Her initial origin story, she explained—“that my body was bad”—suddenly felt false.

A few years later, she went on her first disability-rights march: a two-week, two-hundred-and-fifty-person trek from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., organized by the organization adapt. The marchers, most of whom were disabled, brought along a generator to recharge their wheelchairs at night. At first, Taylor said, it was “horrifying” to be around so many other disabled people at once. Then, one night, she was struggling to eat—there wasn’t a table—when a woman came up and said, “You can ask for help here. This isn’t a place where we value independence.” Taylor now tells two stories about her life. In one, sociopolitical story, she is a victim. Her disability is the work of “networks of power”—polluting corporations, lax regulators—that must be protested. In another, more personal story, her life is hers to define. She identifies as “crip”—a term used to capture the liberatory, countercultural aspects of life with disability. (It’s parallel to the word “queer.”) “Crip culture has made me comfortable both with the creative potential of disability and with the fact that there’s pain, there’s suffering,” she said.

Growing up, in Georgia, Taylor would often see “chicken trucks” on the highway: large, flatbed vehicles stacked with live chickens in cages. When one of these trucks sidled up to the Taylor family on the road, Sunaura and her siblings would hold their breaths, appalled, until it passed. “I was always an annoying, righteous vegetarian,” she said, laughing. “Even on that adapt march, I remember thinking, Ugh—these people want disability rights, but they’re eating meat.” In 2006, she convinced a worker at a poultry plant to let her take a photograph of a chicken truck; she spent a year making an eight-by-ten-foot painting of the truck, containing portraits of a hundred individual chickens. (After completing it, she became vegan.) She painted a watercolor in the style of a Greek frieze, “Sunnys in Chicken Cages,” in which she appears with the chickens behind bars.

Taylor began to read about the connections between animal rights and disability. She discovered that many factory-farmed animals are disabled in one way or another. In some cases, they’ve been injured through confinement; in others, their unusually shaped bodies make their lives harder. (She wondered if, in some sense, their man-made disabilities made killing them and eating them feel easier.) It seemed to her that there was an analogy between those factory farms and the environments in which many disabled people live. In “Beasts of Burden,” she writes that both farms and cities are built environments designed “to reward certain embodiments over others.” In a city, human-designed structures—curbs, stairs, doorknobs—make some kinds of bodies more difficult to have. In a similar way, Taylor argues, we build systems—of breeding, farming, slaughter, and thought—that diminish animals, then imagine their diminishment to be natural and inevitable.

Reading “Beasts of Burden,” I wondered if the book might be a case of intersectionality run amok: Did animal rights and disability rights really need to be linked? In fact, Taylor’s book responds to how other thinkers have already linked them. Taylor points out that, in the past, colonial subjects were often described as both disabled and animal-like: they were seen as shambling, hunched, and bestial, and, therefore, as “lower” on the chain of being. This authorized their exploitation. The book is also an extended argument with the philosopher Peter Singer, who bases his case for animal rights in part on the fact that some animals are more cognitively capable than the intellectually disabled people to whom we already extend our empathy. If we value the lives of infants or the mentally deficient, Singer asks, shouldn’t we value the lives of animals, too? Taylor objects to the utilitarian essence of Singer’s argument. She thinks that it’s not up to us to decide how much to value any life. “Philosophers try to make systems of argumentation, where they say a life is valuable because of ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C,’ ” she told me, while we gathered our things, “but we don’t have to worry about whether other organisms on this planet have dignity. I guess I’m saying life is sacred, but not in a way that has a religious implication.” Instead, she uses the academic, politicized language of intersectional critique: Judith Butler meets St. Francis of Assisi.

Outside, we made our way downtown to Taylor’s student apartment, a few blocks away from Washington Square Park. She lives there with David Wallace, her long-term partner, a video and installation artist who is about to begin his training in nursing, and their daughter, Leonora, whom they call Badger. At the door, I met Taylor’s service dog, Bailey. He’s a rescue, and Taylor’s best guess is that he’s part dachshund, part Lhasa Apso—in any case, he is small, black, and long, with lovely eyebrows. In “Beasts of Burden,” Taylor describes how, a few years ago, Bailey developed slipped-disk disease: wiener-shaped dogs, having been bred to have long backs, often develop spinal problems. For a while, she and David carried Bailey around in a sling. He’s recovered, but he’s still slower and more delicate than other dogs. At the end of her book, Taylor writes that there is “something appropriate—beautiful actually—about being a gimped-up, dependent, inefficient, incapable human supporting and being supported by my inefficient, dependent, and gimped-up dog.”

On this day, Bailey was lithe and frisky. The apartment was small, a jumble of books, art, and toys. Above the coat rack hung a portrait of Taylor, painted by Wallace: she looked contemplative, her gaze serious. Leonora was at the table, eating broccoli. She slid out of her high chair and sat down to play beneath a mobile, made by Wallace, of paper animals: a horse, an elephant, an alligator, a dolphin, a starfish—and a dancer, arms reaching out, mixed in with all the rest.

the differently abled are regarded with fear
people who say ” i don’t want this happening here”
but ability to love matters much more
than how fast one runs
or their tennis score.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


vomeat magicjack

June 12, 2017

Source YouTube, Torak Law

Please be aware that this is a graphic video. It is highly distressing and violent; the animals have to endure this horror.

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

the truth…raw, naked…horrific
bet that burger and/or those nuggets
no longer taste

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


100 Vegan ‘Signs of the Times’ …from around the world

June 5, 2017

Source The Vegan Truth
Posted by

One of thousands of signs from the Animal Rights March in London 2016
From the Animal Rights March 2016 in London
Be Fair Be Vegan Campaign
Be Fair; Be Vegan Billboard on Times Square, New York
Matthew and Alyssa Sikora doing vegan education tabling.
Animal Rights protesters; Israeli Jews and Arabs together
300 Vegans for Independence/Vegan
sign on a park bench
Vegan street education, Ireland ~ Vegan Information Project
Roof sign from Invercargill Vegan Society, New Zealand
Animal Liberation, Victoria, Australia
Toronto Pig Save, Toronto, Canada
The words ‘go vegan’ in the flooring of a vegan shop
Cruelty-Free Shop, Australia – window display
Direct Action Everywhere street protest
Elizabeth Collins street stall, NZ vegan, New Zealand
Manchester U.K. street activism
Asking for New Year’s Resolution from bridge/highway
Meaningful, at least, graffiti – or who knows, maybe they wanted it there.
My vegan restaurant’s wall
Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary Campaign, USA
Shout it from the rooftop!
Street sign protest ~ Lisa Qualls – USA
English translation – No Racism, No Sexism, No Speciesism
Educational stall ~ Emmy James, Peaceful Abolitionist, New Zealand
From the top of a roof in Australia
Sign painted on car that was in a parade ~ Vegan Society of Peace, Texas, USA
Valentines’ Day Campaign
Melbourne, Australia street corner vegan education
Alice Springs Vegan Society, Australia
Stop Specisism ~ Stop – Croatia
Professor Roger Yates, long term vegan, animal RIGHTS-based vegan advocate, Ireland
Jenny of Invercargill Vegan Society, New Zealand – taking it to the streets.
Sign on bus in British Columbia, Canada/ Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary campaign

Vegan Information Project – Ireland

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

a picture speaks
what words cannot say
each image a story
a happy ending
some day

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Norm – a short film

May 30, 2017

“Norm” is a short film about two roommates debating over the morality of rape, in a society where raping women is legal and socially accepted. #itsnotaboutrape

Written and Directed by Miguel Endara
Starring Lucas Jesse Hicks, Michael Anthony Giannelli, and Michael Ford
Director of Photography – Gerry Martinez
Art Director – Natalia Ramos
Produced by Miguel Endara and Lily Vidal
Edited by Miguel Endara
Sound Recordist – Tom Salyer
Sound Design – Joel Hernandez
Hair and Make-up – Alexis Renny
Music by Royal Deluxe – “I’m Gonna Do My Thing”

Spanish subtitles provided by Mauricio Gálvez.
Danish subtitles provided by David Koch Gregersen.
Polish subtitles provided by Anonymous.
Hebrew subtitles provided by Giora Meyerowitz.
Russian subtitles provided by Grecha Moo.
Swedish subtitles provided by Aladoran.
English subtitles provided by Vidara Films.
Vegan subtitles (English US) provided by Vidara Films.

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

no…words from a rape victim…me

no i do not
yes you do
my body is mine
it does not belong
to you.
my soul and spirit
are not for the taking
what is this horror
that you are making
yes you hurt me
perhaps i will heal
but for the rest of my
this rape will be
all too real.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


On being critical and holier than thou

May 22, 2017

Wikimedia Commons

Source There’s an Elephant in the Room blog

I recently saw two criticisms of my blog on Facebook. What, only two? To be honest there’s never any shortage of criticism. The human obsession with using and consuming inappropriate substances and causing death and destruction to vulnerable innocents in order to facilitate the behaviour is very deeply entrenched. Shooting the messenger is almost a reflex for some.

Implied criticism

The first criticism was that vegans should not call themselves vegans because this implied criticism of people who are not vegan. Now that’s a bizarre notion. It could lend itself to all sorts of ridiculous parallels which ends up as being that we should not define ourselves in any way because it implies criticism of those who do not define themselves in that way.

The idea that being vegan is an overt criticism of people who are not vegan is particularly puzzling, given that veganism is defined by living in a manner that minimises the harm we cause to others. Most humans that I have met in sixty years on this planet have no problem at all with the notion that we should not do harm to others; on the contrary most people are quick to condemn anyone who thinks that causing harm is even remotely acceptable.

Almost everyone says they care about animals; says they’re against cruelty; says they believe it’s right to stand up for those who are oppressed and powerless. Being vegan is simply living in a way that reflects the words we all say.  And if we feel criticised by encountering someone who, by calling themselves vegan, reminds us of the conflict between our words and our actions, then I have to suggest that this says more about the uneasy state of our own conscience than it does about the vegan.

Holier than thou

The second critical comment claimed that I had a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, especially towards those who wish to take their time and make gradual or partial dietary adjustments rather than adopting the ethical stance that is veganism, but I’ve seen it used as a general criticism too. Again, this comment is by no means original.

‘Holier than thou’ doesn’t offend me, but tells me more about the accuser than perhaps they want to tell. In the case of my lack of delight about proposed dietary changes, the first thing that it makes me realise is that the writer has no understanding of what veganism actually is. They apparently think it’s a diet and like all diets, these are all about the dieter. A diet is a regime of restrictions undertaken for the benefit of the dieter; to lose weight, to alleviate the effects of allergy or intolerance, for the observance of a cultural or religious tradition etc.

I can’t blame the casual observer for thinking of veganism as a diet or a menu choice. There’s so much misinformation going about and so many ‘advocates’ who adopt the view that their nonvegan contemporaries are in some way incapable of understanding a truthful message about veganism and its desperate urgency when viewed from a victim’s perspective.

Are vegans ‘holier than thou’? As always, I can’t speak for everyone, however the experience of facing up to the violence and bloodshed that our species embraces as the norm is a deeply humbling one. When it happened to me, a very real sense of profound shame weighed me down for many months. I have never forgotten, and never want to forget, the awareness of the horror for which I was personally responsible.

That horror is not an abstract notion for me. When I was learning exactly what I had supported, I forced myself to watch the consequences of my consumer choices.  Because of me, beautiful, gentle, innocent individuals with families and friends, who valued their lives and wanted to be left in peace to live them, had faced nightmares that I had never before been capable of imagining. I no longer need to imagine them. Now I know exactly what they faced for me. I have heard the screams gurgling through blood that spurts out of gaping throats; I have seen despair in the defeated eyes of the doomed; I have seen the saws getting to work before the spark of life has gone.

The many ways of saying ‘go away’

Taking a step back, it seems that what these accusations of being ‘critical’ or ‘holier than thou’ are really saying is, ‘I want you to just shut up and go away because you’re making me uncomfortable’, but in the interests of fairness and to see if I can learn any lessons, I’ve really thought about them, and all I can say is this.

When I became vegan, I realised that I had betrayed every value that I always believed to define me. In doing so I discovered that I was not the mother or the sister, the friend or indeed the person that I had fondly imagined myself to be. Never was I so aware of being unworthy.  That I should think of myself as ‘holier than thou’, in some way morally superior, is so far from the mark that words fail me, and I would be very surprised to find that I’m the only vegan who feels this way.

In becoming vegan, each of us faces demons that we have spent a lifetime ignoring. Living in a world where the majority of our contemporaries are as we once were, serves as a constant reminder of our own failings and we are each our own most merciless critic. All we can do is ask others to stop making the mistakes we made ourselves, and as advocates we do it every day and in every way we can devise.

The shame of my previous behaviour will never leave me and to be completely blunt, I’m not even slightly interested in trying to score points off anyone who continues on the path that I walked before I was vegan. There can be no comfort in being ‘better’ than anyone else, or in trying to find someone whose behaviour is ‘worse’ than mine was so that I can point a finger of criticism at them. I don’t feel morally superior to anyone; how could I be anything but humble when we have all behaved so abominably? The only differences between us lie in recognising our mistakes and resolving not to repeat them.

Be vegan. Today.

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

or those who do not comprehend
or choose to disagree
name calling and or false attacks
makes for bad company.
where does one cross the line
from analytical
and into the realm of

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Sierra Club’s Bogus Argument for Eating Animals

May 15, 2017

artwork by Dana Ellen, 14″x18″, acrylic on canvas board, available at

Source Free From Harm
By Saryta Rodriguez


Vegans have heard ample arguments since time immemorial in favor of eating meat, such as:

  • The Nutritional Case (“But but but…PROTEIN!”);
  • The Financial Case (“Vegan substitutes are EXPENSIVE [and produce is BORING]!”); and
  • the simultaneously most selfish and most honest of all such arguments, The Flavor Case (“Bacon, though!”).

In February of this year, though, the Sierra Club really outdid itself by attempting to present a Moral Case for Meat Eating, the crux of which is that by consuming the bodies of other animals, we humans may be reminded that we, too, are animals, and that we are part of the Circle of Life.

I can’t argue with the need for the vast majority of humans— particularly those of us living in comparably wealthy “developed” nations— to recall our oneness with nonhuman animals and the planet as a whole. As we spent more and more time within the concrete walls of buildings, our eyes glued to various gadgets, most of us don’t take the time as often as we should to connect with the life forms surrounding us, including nonhumans and plants. We New Yorkers often work hard to convince ourselves that a quick jaunt through Central Park is enough of a “nature fix” to make us feel less isolated and depressed as we return from said jaunt to our offices (or living rooms, or coffee shops, or studios…). In truth, connecting with nature should be prioritized in our daily lives at least as much as learning new skills, exercising, keeping tabs on our loved ones, and other methods we commonly use to improve upon ourselves and stay happy and healthy.

Please read rest HERE

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

words contort
words twist
but the heart
of the word
is never missed.
so in that spirit
we choose the way
of compassion and
every day!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Waste: The Defining Metaphor of Our Herding Culture

May 8, 2017

Source The World Peace Diet
By Dr. Will Tuttle



Compassionate Harvest by visionary artist Madeleine Tuttle

Question: What can we do about the problem of food waste in the world?

In the U.S., for example, according to the NRDC, about 40 percent of the food that is actually produced is thrown away and never eaten. This is 750 million pounds of food—about 240 pounds of food per person—wasted every year. While it’s heartening that some groups, such as Food Not Bombs, can capture a tiny percentage of this and share it with some hungry people, it’s tragic that we tolerate such waste in a world with millions of malnourished people. Underlying this food wastage is an even more serious problem: structural waste. Producing food uses 50 percent of all land and 80 percent of all fresh water, and this is due to the inherent inefficiencies of animal agriculture: we’re eating grain that’s first been digested and converted by animals. Compared to a vegan diet, the standard Western diet requires 11 times as much petroleum, 13 times as much water, and 18 times as much land.

Let’s look more deeply to explore some even more unrecognized wastage, and the driving forces behind our culture’s devastating and insidious orgy of waste.

We recently learned that every year in the U.K., over a million lambs die of hypothermia. Because of the popularity of lamb for Easter dinner, ewes are forcibly impregnated earlier than would be natural, so their babies are born early in the year, assuring that these lambs can be profitably fattened up in time for the Easter slaughter. The million or so baby lambs that shiver and freeze to death in the icy February winds of the British Isles are just a cost of doing business and are considered an acceptable level of waste by the industry, and by our society. Dying by freezing to death is excruciating, and similar suffering and death is inflicted on baby lambs (and virtually all other types of farmed animals) in many parts of our world, including North America and Europe.

We understand that this abuse and waste of millions of baby lambs is just a drop in the ocean we humans relentlessly inflict on literally trillions of animals annually, primarily through our desire to eat them. Millions of newborn male chicks are suffocated or macerated annually by egg producers as waste byproducts of an industry that exploits females, and a similar fate awaits millions of calves in the dairy industry. In the fishing industry, “bycatch” is the euphemism employed to refer to millions of tons of fishes, turtles, dolphins, whales, and seabirds trapped in nets or on hooks, and discarded, dead, back into the ocean as non-target species. Underweight juvenile pigs are killed and discarded as waste by industry. Ranchers, farmers, fishers, and their agents, such as the infamous USDA Wildlife Services agency, poison, trap, shoot, and destroy millions of wild animals yearly, including coyotes, mustangs, bears, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, deer, otters, seals, dolphins, cormorants, swans, and many more.

This rampant destruction of animals who are seen as mere disposable waste or as throwaway impediments is devastating on many levels, and follows inexorably from the essential core of our culture. Although it is not discussed openly, we live today in an industrialized herding society. Our world is fundamentally organized around herding animals, confining and killing them in both large-scale and small-scale operations, and trapping and killing them in fishing operations. The consequences of this radiate into every dimension of our public and private lives.

Underlying all this, and all of animal agriculture, is the central practice and attitude of reducing beings to mere objects, and hard-heartedly viewing them as usable and wasteable commodities. Wastefulness is the invisible and defining characteristic of animal agriculture, and thus of our society today. Animal agriculture glorifies and revels in waste. It is based on disrespecting beings, and on killing, using, and throwing them away. Where is this “away?”

The embarrassingly gross inefficiencies of animal agriculture are deliberately obscured, dismissed, and denied in our herding culture, but it’s nevertheless becoming obvious that eating animal-sourced foods is devastatingly wasteful to our oceans, rainforests, rivers, aquifers, fossil fuel supplies, air quality, climate stability, wildlife, and ecosystems, as well as to our physical, emotional, and cultural health. For example, in the U.S., livestock produce 116,000 pounds of waste (feces and urine) every second, over 3.5 trillion pounds annually, polluting air, rivers, and oceans, destroying soil and climate health, and killing wildlife and people. Animal agriculture is an engine of waste. It wastes water, petroleum, land, and massive quantities of grain and legumes that could feed starving children, whose lives are similarly wasted by this practice that wastes the lives of the billions of birds and mammals, and trillions of fishes who are consumed by our voracious appetites.

This waste is a form of violence and it takes many interconnected forms: the waste of vital resources, the waste of starving people’s lives and the war, misery, and conflict this causes, the waste of the animals themselves who are eaten only to directly contribute to the wasteful disease epidemics of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, dementia, and other maladies that cause more massive wastage of money, drugs, lives, time, energy, and resources. Looking more deeply, we see that our abuse of animals not only wastes their precious lives and health, and their purposes. We reap what we sow, and we inevitably find our lives, our health, and our purposes tend to be wasted in many ways as well.

This orgy of waste is obvious everywhere, and yet it is eerily invisible. We are suffocating in our pollution, and this physical waste is the outer manifestation of a deeper inner pollution that propels us to waste the opportunity of our valuable human life in pursuits that lead to more bombs, prisons, hospitals, and asylums. The desperation of the masses of our brothers and sisters who are seen as expendable commodities mirrors the desperation of the freezing lambs, the crushed male chicks, and the terrorized coyotes and mustangs. All are mere waste in the ongoing economic engine driven by the mentality of animal agriculture—the mentality of disrespect—that wasted the West and will reduce our inner and outer landscape to an utter wasteland if we don’t wake up soon.

Vegan living is the essential antidote to this mentality of disrespect of others and oneself. I remember learning in the Zen meditation center about the importance of doing ones’ best to minimize waste, and to respect everything, especially food. We took just two vegan meals daily, and every grain of rice that we put into our bowls, we were obliged to eat. There was no “away” to throw that grain of rice. We made an effort to practice mindfulness in eating, walking, and sitting. When we needed some water, we learned to take only what we needed, and underlying everything was the idea that we are dependent on others and that they are worthy of our respect and gratitude. These others include streams, clouds, forests, fields, reefs, animals, humans, past and future generations and, ultimately, all living beings. We are interconnected with all life, and life is sacred. This can become clear to us when our minds become quiet through the practice of looking deeply and mindful awareness.

Like the abused animals we have been compelled to eat from infancy in this herding culture, we are all exploited. The same system that would waste their lives and opportunities would waste ours as well. Ironically and predictably, in this system, those of us who are the most extremely wasteful become the elite, with the highest status and wielding the most control. Thus the system churns on, relentlessly destructive and wasteful of everything it touches.

The greatest contribution we can make to our world today is to question the invisible mentality of waste that permeates our culture and attitudes, and move to a vegan way of living, both in our external actions, and in our inner attitudes. Going vegan is the single most potent way to dramatically reduce our environmental footprint and to treat the disease of wastefulness that defines the culture into which we were born. Every vegan is not only saving the lives of thousands of animals yearly, but also the lives of trees, forests, rivers, and oceans, and of hungry people and future generations.

It’s essential to understand and do our best to embody vegan values of respect for others and ourselves. Traveling and putting on lectures promoting vegan living, Madeleine and I have been to our fair share of vegan potlucks and meals over the years, and while they are delicious and inspiring, it is somewhat heartbreaking to see people take vegan food and then casually throw it away because they took too much. As vegans, we are called to demonstrate vegan living in every aspect of our lives as best we can, as respect and non-wastefulness of resources. This is the essence of the teaching, and brings freedom and joy into our lives, and empowers us to be an effective example for others.

How much more heartbreaking it is to see people taking nonvegan food and nonchalantly throwing it away, without respect for the being who gave her precious life for that so-called food. I have met vegans who are so dismayed by this that they ask if perhaps they should eat this flesh and cheese in order to respect the exploited animal, and the huge quantities of grain, water, petroleum, and toxic chemicals required in the production of this “food.” Just as it’s essential to see that nonvegan foods are not actually food at all, but violence, it’s essential to see that waste is not just waste. It’s an explicit and harmful form of violence.

Here is the liberating and inspiring paradox: by practicing respect and conservation, we don’t experience deprivation but rather a greater sense of appreciation and abundance, and a heightened sensitivity to the beauty and bounty of life around us. Vegan living is the path to abundance for everyone, where with awareness we can co-create harmonious and equitable relations and fulfill our purpose on this Earth. Thanks for caring, and for questioning the toxic mentality of waste injected into all of us by our obsolete herding culture. A more conscious world is yearning to be born. It’s up to each of us.

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

our planet was an eden
ripe with promise, lush
meant to be savored
caring about our world
is more than today’s
latest flavor.
cherish the gift of
this precious blue orb
love and by this love
you will

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Jet Eliot

Travel and Wildlife Adventures

Organic Opinion

Finding it, aye there's the rub~

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Here and now, with all of it.

Eat No Harm

Living consciously for our planet, the animals, and ourselves.

Flawless Pandemonium

Question everything~

Veganism is Nonviolence

Being Vegan Is A First Step To A Nonviolent Life

The Biotrotter

The Globetrotting Biologists

Sophie's Foodie Files

Mostly healthy tasty colorful cooking & gardening with Sophie's twist!

Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

Narcissistic Abuse Support | Maintaining No Contact | Heal Grow Evolve

Steal This Meme

humans' vegan past & future. SHIRIN - Subvert Human Irrationalities, Rediscover Innate Nature

Gillian Prew // poetry

for the earth and the animals

Nepali Today

Coffee break Photo Blogs Base In Tokyo, Japan.


making the link between our food, our health, our society, our environment and our economy

Friendly Fairy Tales

Fairy Tales and Poetry Celebrating Magic and Nature for Kids of all Ages

Arcilla y fuego

Una visión sobre el complejo y apasionante mundo de la cerámica

Gotta Find a Home

Conversations with Street People