Butchering the language has long been a part of the meat industry: cow flesh becomes “beef,” deer flesh becomes “venison,” diseased duck liver becomes “foie gras,” pig flesh becomes “pork” or “bacon.” Even the word “meat” itself is a disguise. These words are convenient – they help animal food consumers forget what they are actually doing: eating dead animals.
And now the industry has come up with another word, “harvesting,” to mean shooting and killing animals for their flesh, suggesting, perhaps, it’s not mean, it’s no worse than picking dandelion leaves for tea! After all, plants have feelings too!
In an article about antelope consumption titled “Meat of the Year,” published yesterday in the Pork Network, an online industry publication, columnist Dan Murphy, an apparent fan of “harvesting” animal flesh, further retreats from reality by calling antelope a “natural, renewable, resource.”
(If the muscle tissue from this animal is so renewable how come they charge between $21 and $36 a pound for this “product” ?)
What Murphy calls “harvesting” is shooting antelopes on Texas antelope farms from long distances (50 to 200 yards) using sound-supressed rifles with “Leupold scopes,” (These are the “preferred tactical” scopes used by the military, the writer informs).
The slaughterers in this case are the “harvest crew,” a “shooter, skinner and a government inspector,” who “quietly search for deer and antelope.”
As an activist friend has said many times, “There’s no way to humanely slaughter an animal who wants to live.”
Yet, of course, Murphy calls this “humane meat” because the animals are spared the feed lot, the bodily mutilation without anesthesia, the battery cage, the gestation crate, the no-food, no-water transport and the slaughter house of the industrial agriculture system. But to make sure we don’t think that the writer actually does care about animal welfare, he explains that animals who aren’t stressed taste better. Quoting an article from Forbes magazine on the same subject: “A wild animal that senses a threat reacts with an increased flow of adrenaline, which in turn creates a rapid increase in lactic acid within the muscles. This acidic condition causes the meat to become tough, strongly flavored, and reduces the shelf life of the meat.”
Forbes is pretty stoked about antelope meat, arguing that it deserves to be named “the latest food craze” of 2015. Murphy seems pretty stoked too, but oddly, in the middle of this article, he notes the exquisite beauty of antelopes.
“Antelope, however, are graceful animals well-suited for captivating nature videos and wildlife postcards. They’re practically the poster critters for the notion that we mustn’t eat anything with a face.”
Well, I know, Dan Murphy, you’re on the payroll of the “Pork Network” and some other industry PR departments and you’ve written a lot of columns with titles like “Make Mine (Extra) Meaty.” I read your diatribes on “stupid vegans,” but methinks you protest too much. Could you?…Is it possible?…Are you, maybe, a pre-vegan? Or… or… are you a secret vegan? I ask because at times you sound like one.
It’s out! The Sierra Club’s draft proposal “Agriculture and Food Policy” put together in the wake of the movie “Cowspiracy” is now available for us all to see.
To take a look at it you will have to use this username and password:
Vegans, if you were hoping for some truth and leadership from the Sierra Club, well, forget it.
You would have thought that after the Sierra Club was so thoroughly drubbed by “Cowspiracy” last year that they’d come clean and admit that the livestock industry is slaughtering the environment right along with at least 50 billion land animals a year.
You would have thought they’d man up and tell people to stop eating animals if they don’t want to get drowned/starved/burned up/dried up/displaced by climate change. OK, that was vicious of me. But you would have thought they would at least urge people stop eating animal flesh and secretions for the sake of the habitability of the planet. For the sake of our kids.
In the club’s new draft version of their Food and Agriculture Policy, the best we get is a suggestion (nearly at the end of the report) that we develop “a greater reliance on vegetable protein.” Yet in the first paragraph of the report we read that, according to the Sierra Club, raising animals for food is an “essential human activity” and “irreducibly cultural.”
Tell that to the millions of healthy, happy, active, alert vegans out there that raising animals for food is an “essential human activity.” Tell that to the 99 percent of Americans who never even consider raising and slaughtering their own animal food. And “irreducibly cultural”? Earth to Sierra Club: Cultures change. If they didn’t we’d still be burning “witches” at the stake.
More Earth to the Sierra Club: The livestock sector is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and maybe as high as 51 percent. Livestock production is responsible for 90 percent of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. It takes 100 times more water to produce a pound of animal protein versus a pound of plant protein. It takes 15 times the land.
Livestock production is the cause of most of the water pollution in the United States. And fish eating has been largely responsible for the decimation of the ocean fish populations.
Even freaking Time magazine wrote last year that single most powerful thing you could do as an individual to help save the environment was to cut out eating meat.
And even the January monthly magazine for Costco (!) had two vegan recipes!
Sierra Club, where are you?
Well, in their draft proposal the club does say that factory farms are bad. But it says that rotational grazing (where animals are moved from pasture to pasture) is good, not just good but great, even though they should know that pasture-grazed animals produce more green house gas than grain fed animals!
From the report: “Appropriately managed, grazing can have a significant positive role in building soil organic matter, increasing plant and wildlife biodiversity and weed management.”
If grazing animals was so terrific for biodiversity, for example, why is the Bureau of Land Management (federal agency) protecting (privately owned) livestock by killing 1.5 million wild animals a year? Why has the huge loss of the South American rainforest to pasture and/or to grow feed crops been seen not only as a major threat to our supply of oxygen, and a major contributor to climate change, but also a huge loss of biological diversity?
Yet the Sierra Club draft report keeps going: “Grazing and pasturage, which recycle animal wastes back into the soil, have the potential to transform vast amounts of coarse forages into food products… Animals raised on perennial forage pastures cause far less soil erosion and nutrient loss compared with animals in confinement being fed crops from annual row cropping.”
We’re not sure where this assessment comes from (outlier biologist Allan Savory perhaps?) and it certainly flies in the face of what many, many other environmentalists, such as the Center for Biological Diversity, have to say about livestock grazing:
“Cattle destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste. After decades of livestock grazing, once-lush streams and riparian forests have been reduced to flat, dry wastelands; once-rich topsoil has been turned to dust, causing soil erosion, stream sedimentation and wholesale elimination of some aquatic habitats.”
The Sierra Club seems to be besotted with so-called “sustainable” animal food production, which presumably would prevent overgrazing. My question is where is that all that virgin pasture land going to come from. Maybe another planet?
Fully ½ of the grazing land in the United States is already overgrazed according to the World Watch Institute and an amazing 70 percent of the land in the western United States is ALREADY being grazed by cattle.
The Institute has said there is simply no more pasture to be had and if we want more pasture we’re going to have to cut down more forests. If you want to head off climate change, that would be an extremely bad idea. Rain forest stores carbon at about 200 tons per hectare whereas forest cleared for grassland stores only 8 tons per hectare.
Go vegan. Plant a tree.
There has been a lot of speculation as to why the Sierra Club has jumped on the “sustainable meat” bandwagon. A couple of theories that keep jumping to the foreground is that the leadership of the Sierra Club and indeed the general membership likes to eat animal foods. According to the producers of “Cowspiracy,” Bruce Hamilton, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club said off-camera that he eats grass-fed beef.
Bruce please! Grass-fed cattle produce MORE greenhouse gas than grain fed cattle
The other theory that was suggested by the movie “Cowspiracy,” but never actually proved was that the Sierra Club and other environmental groups were taking donations from ranchers. Now the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. In a recent essay, executive director of the Sierra Club Michael Brune wrote that the club has received donations from billionaire hedge fund manager and grass-fed cattle rancher, Tom Steyer.
Years ago I became a life-time member of the Sierra Club by donating about $1,000. I’ve never been actually involved in the group but believed they were doing good work.
These days because of the organization’s reluctance to seriously address the environmental impact of the livestock industry I’m not so sure about the Sierra Club any more.
My financial resources are limited and I can’t compete with billionaires such as Tom Steyer to get the attention of the Sierra Club. But maybe if there are enough of us squawking, we can have an impact on this oldest and largest environmental group in the country.
The Sierra Club is taking comments from its members on the proposed “Agriculture and Food Policy” until Jan. 15.
If anyone needed any more reason to believe that the beef industry is, well, a bit out of touch, consider this recent Dec. 17 headline in their publication, “Beef Magazine:”
“Street Protesters: Be Mad at the Government, Not the Police.”
What? Don’t be outraged by police officers wantonly killing unarmed black people, be mad at the government? (!) The last time I checked, there were no government laws directing officers to kill people if they happened to feel like it.
The author of a “Beef Magazine” editorial, Troy Marshall is a “multi-generational rancher” who wrote that he admittedly hadn’t had much experience with the judicial system. (Yes, he’s white.)
At that point the editorializer probably should have stopped writing.
I guess those “disgruntled citizens” would have to include Mitt Romney and Leona Helmsley. (I know, I know, regular folks are also disgruntled by the IRS.)
And then Mr. Marshall went on to lecture the Michael Brown and Eric Garner protesters: “Just as community police perform the job they are paid to do, IRS agents have a job to do. I think we’re mad at the wrong people. It’s not their fault directly but the unchecked power of the government that employs them.”
So, you think police are paid to kill unarmed black men, Mr. Marshall of “Beef Magazine?” Well, when you think about it, a lot of police do end up getting paid for deliberately killing unarmed folks (usually black), but I don’t think it’s in their stated job description.
Marshall goes on to call out the EPA and OSHA for “being overreaching, overly powerful and [having] a tendency to apply their power in an unfair and capricious manner.”
Oh yes, the EPA and OSHA, the agencies in government charged with protecting the environment and worker health and safety. Now I see the picture…
If the new budget proposed by the Republicans in the House (and supported by animal agriculture) passes, ranchers such as Marshall won’t have to report (or take responsibility for) pollution from manure, according to a recent article in the New York Times. They won’t have to report (or take responsibility for) greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.
“Nor can (the government) require ranchers to obtain greenhouse gas permits for methane emissions produced by bovine flatulence or belching,” wrote the Times.
Take that, you pesky, overreaching, overly powerful EPA with your tendency to apply your power in an unfair and capricious manner!
Mark your calendars: 2017. That’s the date when, some climate experts are now saying, irreversible climate change is likely to become locked in unless we do something FAST. This means that it would no longer be possible to avert flooding interspersed with droughts, therefore seriously wrecking agriculture. It means 1700 American cities under water. What else, I don’t know.
Climate change is mostly caused by too much carbon in the atmosphere. Since that carbon takes at least 100 years to dissipate, even 1000s of people buying Priuses or putting up solar panels (while wonderful) isn’t going to be enough to turn things around. It isn’t going to be enough to stop the debacle which could come as early as 2017 or as late 2020.
But there is hope.
In case you haven’t heard, livestock is responsible for at least 51 percent of human-induced carbon and other greenhouse gases. That’s according to the respected Worldwatch Institute which published a report in 2009 by environmental specialists Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang of the World Bank Group, a United Nations agency.
That’s cheeseburgers, bacon, eggs and vanilla shakes, folks.
And those environmental specialists have explained how replacing livestock products with plant-based products will also free up land to plant trees, which can suck up the excess atmospheric carbon. More trees happens to be a very big deal. And the reverse – losing the rain forests – is also a very big deal.
If this sounds like another “go vegan” pitch from me, it’s not. You actually don’t have to go totally vegan or totally vegetarian to help.
The solution is for people around the world to not only plant trees but also to replace close to 50 percent of today’s livestock products with better alternatives, according to the website “Chomping Climate Change.” Better alternatives are everything from grain-based meats to soy milk, nut butters, whole grains, and legumes.
While livestock emit a lot of carbon through carbon dioxide in respiration, livestock also emit a lot of two other highly potent greenhouse gases: methane and nitrous oxide.
The thing that’s handy about methane and nitrous oxide as opposed to CO2 is those chemicals largely dissipate from the atmosphere within 8 years, quick enough so that large-scale replacement of livestock products with plant-based alternatives could allow us to make a real difference and head off the 2017 tipping point.
But Houston we do have a problem, which is some unfortunate news that I recently acquired from an off-the-record yet credible scientific source: Even if the entire United States goes vegan, that’s not going to be enough to head off this environmental catastrophe.
It has to be the whole planet replacing close to 50 percent of animal-based foods with something else, something else like lentils or potatoes or Beyond Meat stir fry or tofu, or, hell, vegan banana bread.
Currently, China is eating one fourth of all the animal foods on Earth. One fourth.
India with its huge population of over a billion people, too, is chowing down animals. While consumption of animal foods has dropped a bit in the US (population 316 million) it’s increasing in India to the tune of 12 percent a year and there’s no sign that it’s letting up!
OH CRAP! OH FUCK! OH SHIT! (sorry for yelling in this post, but I’m upset.)
One of the reasons that we’re not going to be able to have a little climate change free oasis in, say, the Bay Area or the Pacific Northwest is that greenhouse gas is “transboundary.” It means that green house gases don’t respect borders, so if somebody is raising pigs in China or cows in Brazil or chickens in Alabama, there’s still going to be an epic tornado in Oklahoma or an epic hurricane in the Philippines or a flood in San Francisco.
But before we all pack our bags and head for Mumbai and Beijing with our Vegan Outreach leaflets, it’s important to consider this embarrassing statistic: As individuals, we Americans consume more animal products than anyone else in the world. Per capita we consume twice as much as the Chinese.
I once had an unpleasant conversation with Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org at a 2012 Bioneers conference. I hassled him for not bringing up the fact that animal food consumption is a big factor in climate change.
He was pissed and so was I. He asked me where did I think the biggest increase in meat consumption was happening and I told him I knew it was in the poorer parts of the world that were staring to develop economically.
“And how are you going to ask people who are just now starting to be able to enjoy eating meat that they can’t eat it?” he said.
When it happened I was a bit discombobulated, but now I would have answered to him that “meat” isn’t just pork chops these days. Check out the dictionary. It defines meat as an essential food that includes alternatives to livestock products (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meat). Again better alternatives to animal foods can be legumes, whole grains, potatoes, Annie’s veggie burgers, tempeh bacon, etc.
I would have also said that the only reason that animal-based foods have become hip in the so-called “developing world,” is they’re taking their cues from the more affluent countries — that would be the US, that would be Europe. Even if the whole U.S. going vegan isn’t going to be enough to turn around climate change, we’ve still got a huge important job to do here now: Make plant-based cool. Make animal foods obsolete.
As friend and fellow activist Bee Uytiepo says, “Eat like a real environmentalist.”
The poor Sierra Club really took it on the chin in the recent movie “Cowspiracy.” With a deer-in-the-headlights expression on his face, the club’s Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton was filmed as he fumbled, mumbled and, well, choked in response to a question about the huge impact of animal agriculture on the environment.
Some of the facts that emerged from that (enormously important) movie: Animal agriculture (and animal food consumption) causes 18 percent of green house gas according to the United Nation’s 2006 report or, if you like, 51 percent, according to the World Watch Institute in 2009; animal ag uses exponentially more water than fracking at this point; the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed primarily by the meat industry; and there’s not enough land in the United States to feed all Americans free-range/grass-fed meat. It’s the same when you look at the planet as a whole. “The land’s just not there,” said a dairy farmer in the movie.
These are statistics that haven’t normally been broadcast by the Sierra Club, or as the movie pointed out, other well-known environmental groups, such as the Rainforest Action Network.
In 2008, despite pleas from some Sierra Club members for the group to come out against the animal food industry and meat eating, Josh Dorner, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, told Ben Adler of the American Prospect magazine: “The Sierra Club isn’t opposed to eating meat, so that’s sort of the long and short of it. [We are] not opposed to hunting, not opposed to ranching.”
Fast forward to 2014, October 22. It’s hot and unbelievably dry in California. Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s Executive Director, came to speak at a Presbyterian church in San Anselmo, CA. I was excited to go and hear him.
Would Brune talk about “Cowspiracy?” Would he talk about animal ag, the rainforest and climate change? Would he talk about animal agriculture, fish eating and the destruction of the oceans?
And if he didn’t talk about those things, I decided I’d do my own personal follow-up to “Cowspiracy,” which I’ve now concluded is the most important movie of the century, if not ever.
As far as I can tell from my research on the internet, Brune is a stand up guy. When he took over the Sierra Club, he put a stop to the group’s acceptance of “gifts” from a natural gas company ($26 million) and multi-million dollar “gifts” from the Clorox company. And I have to say, over the last three or four years, there have been little mentions here and there in the Sierra Club magazine and on the websites of local Sierra Club groups, suggesting that meat eating isn’t good for the environment.
But there have been no major articles on the environmental horror of animal food production. No major announcements for the public to stop eating meat from the Sierra Club.
Taking the lectern at the church, Brune began his lecture with a couple of jokes about the Giants and the World Series, and then he settled down to the business of sharing the Sierra Club’s recent activities and accomplishments. We found out the Sierra Club has been working with First Nations Peoples of Canada to try and stop the tar sands drilling and the pipeline. We also found out that the director has been talking with oil executives, pointing out that the tars sands oil isn’t worth the money, since the price of regular oil is currently so low.
We also found out that the Sierra Club did an amazing job, during the Bush administration, in preventing the energy industry from building 250 new coal plants. He didn’t mention shutting down any of the 600 or more existing ones and admitted that while the club’s efforts really didn’t do anything to slow down climate change, at least they somewhat prevented it from getting worse!
But then, again, we learned from his lecture, it is kind of worse because China’s going nuts building coal plants. But maybe that’s not so bad because they’re also building a bunch of solar. And, by the way, we Americans should put solar panels on our roofs and stop using coal, so that maybe we can be a good example to China.
Forty-five minutes of Brune talking and there was no “Cowspiracy,” no “animal agriculture and the environment,” no “don’t eat meat,” and no “don’t eat fish.”
WHAT??? Even after “Cowspiracy,” the Sierra Club’s still not coming out with it?
Audience members had been instructed to write their questions for Mr. Brune on index cards.
And just so nobody thinks I’m being viciously vegan and unfair to the Sierra Club, I’ve decided to include, word for word, what he said about animal agriculture. It’s up to you, vegans and other interested parties to decide – Does the following sound like bullshit or not? Use your own bullshit detector.
Michael Brune: So I’m going to read the most controversial question I have. “A recent documentary called ‘Cowspiracy’ focuses on how animal agriculture impacts the environment. It impacts wilderness spots, land degradation, water pollution and shortages. Why doesn’t the Sierra club address this issue? Why don’t you have a Beyond Meat program like your Beyond Oil or Beyond Coal, Beyond Natural Gas initiatives?”
(Brune looked up and addressed the audience.) How many folks have seen the film “Cowspiracy”? A few people? How many folks are familiar with animal agriculture, industrial agriculture and its impact on the environment and how many people are familiar with the impacts of industrial agriculture, meat eating and its impacts on the climate? A large number.
(Brune was still talking.) So this movie, “Cowspiracy,” is a film that, as you might guess, develops a theory that the (environmental) movement organizations working on climate change are shying away from this issue and it attacks the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, I think 350.org, Friends of the Earth, NRDC, and others for not doing it, for not having a large, public big grassroots campaign going after the industry.
And the intimation is that we are afraid to do that, afraid to take on industrial agriculture or hesitant to do it because of donors or the personal lifestyles of leaders in the organizations. We’ve thought about it, because any time you’re attacked for not doing your job right, it causes you to reflect on what you’re doing and to see whether or not you should change your policies. We like to be a responsive organization that is able to accept criticism. And so we – (he stopped for a moment, then continued.)
The Sierra Club has been working on industrial agriculture for decades. Before I came to the Sierra Club, the organization was the leading organization going up against CAFOs, concentrated animal feed lots, taking a lot of these facilities to court (in order) to protect water quality, air quality, all around the country. We have a public policy that encourages our members to eat less meat. It doesn’t encourage them to go fully vegetarian, but it says eating meat has a big impact on the environment and on the climate and as activists, as people who care about the environment we need to eat less meat.
We also have made a strong connection between climate change and industrial agriculture. And we recognize that we could heighten the visibility of this work more; to draw the connections between animal cruelty and cruelty to the planet as a whole. So we’re looking to find other ways to highlight it. We’re not afraid to take on any industry. We’re happy to discuss this issue with anyone. We’re happy to find different ways to communicate about this. But, we’re not all that interested in spending a ton of time with folks who are more interested in criticizing our friends on the issue. We’re always looking for ways to improve.
(Brune took a few other questions, mostly about carbon taxation until he got to my card.)
Vicious Vegan card: I’m a lifelong member of the Sierra Club, yet I have not donated for about four years because the organization doesn’t talk about animal agriculture’s contribution to climate change, water pollution, erosion, etc.
Michael Brune: Well, I’ve got a membership form in my back pocket for whoever wrote that. I’d be happy to talk to whoever wrote that. I would love to have you as a supporter and a member. We are a grassroots-driven and we are member-supported and we care about this issue. I’d be happy to talk to anyone about what the Sierra Club has done and what a lot of groups who are being criticized have done for [sic] animal agriculture.
Vicious Vegan spoke out: Could you read the back of my card?
Michael Brune: There’s a back to this card? It says, don’t forget to read the back of this card. “And why won’t the Sierra Club tell people that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 to 50% of green house gas emissions?” I watched the movie and it’s hard to square that, that’s a big range, 18 to 50%, that’s hard to justify, however the impact is huge. I don’t think it’s 50%, I don’t think it’s 18%, but it’s still huge.
Vicious Vegan tried to speak out again: OK, what about water, the water pollution…(I was shushed by the minister of the Presbyterian Church twice so I finally shut up.)
Michel Brune continued: So while being (unintelligible) to focus on is our dream, it’s a large issue, it’s a significant issue, it’s a challenge our society has to meet. We do need to find a way to protect our forests, of which animal agriculture has a huge impact, particularly in South America.
We do have to find a way to get off of coal and gas. Animal agriculture relates to that, but not directly. We do have to find a way to drive, to transport ourselves, animal agriculture doesn’t (unintelligible) I don’t think we have to compete those challenges against each other. What I think is the room for improvement for the Sierra Club is to elevate food production to a higher level. And I hope that you heard me when I said that we’re looking to do that.
OK, is it really happening? I checked the current Sierra Club homepage. The only article that seemed to have anything to do with food was “The Four Best Foods to Forage – Who needs the agricultural-industrial food complex when you can gather for free?” The article mentions dandelions, nettles, raspberries, oxalis and enoki. Okaaaay.
The question still hangs I think: Is the Sierra Club full of shit or not? Check out Bruce Hamilton’s October 2, 2014 blog post in response to “Cowspiracy” and decide.
Maybe we should just give the Sierra Club and some of these other groups some time. But how much time do we have?
This week the esteemed junk food restaurant Dunkin’ Donuts rolled out a new offering! Almond milk! It was because of “an increasing number of customer requests” for non-dairy options, said one of the company’s marketing presidents.
Reporting on the new Dunkin’ development, the Boston Globe asserted, “Most of the traditional donuts do not contain milk or eggs, but since they come in contact with such products they can’t be labeled as ‘vegan.’ ’’
Come on down vegans! Have an almond milk latte with a vegan glazed donut that might have, well, accidentally, touched something with milk or eggs in it.
Not so fast.
I went to the Dunkin Donuts website for nutrition and looked up the ingredients for several types of donuts – I clicked on Apple Crumb Donut, contains milk and eggs; I clicked on the Apple Donut, contains milk and eggs; I clicked on the Apple ‘n’ Spice Donut, contains milk and eggs; I clicked on the Caramel Spice Donut, contains milk and eggs; I clicked on the Chocolate Frosted Donut, contains milk and eggs; I clicked on the Glazed Donut, contains milk and eggs; I clicked on the Cinnamon Cake Donut, contains milk and eggs; and I clicked on the Glazed Donut, contains milk and eggs.
Listening to “Car Talk” a while back I heard one of the brothers sagely remark that some of the worst shit (my word, not his) happens after somebody says, “Hey, watch this!”
Consuming the monstrosity, “Meat Mountain” from Arby’s was a “Hey, watch this!” moment.
David Anthony was challenged by the A.V. Club to consume this moronically huge sandwich, Arby’s latest offering, made from the flesh of several kinds of animals – cow, pig, chicken, turkey, as well as some cow secretions in the form of two kinds of cheese.
Yes, the “Meat Mountain.” It’s 1200 calories, a boatload of fat, and a fistful of salt. It’s also a gimmick to try and sell more pain and suffering to a public which is already in pain and is already suffering, to say nothing of the pain and suffering inflicted on the animals used in the product.
I guess Arby’s is trying to compete with the Heart Attack Grill.
Apparently Anthony will do anything, no matter how stupid, on a dare. He ate the thing. And while he didn’t have a heart attack, his body still tried to send him message, which I will translate, “What the fuck are you doing?”
“… the effects of the sandwich began to hit me (shortly after finishing.) For no real reason I’d get a chill and my body would shake, a startling occurrence that happened every couple minutes. The gas that was filling me continued to be released without my control, which was nothing if not charming for all those in attendance. And, perhaps most notable, when I laughed my left side was met with a tight pain around my ribs. It turned out I wasn’t alone in such agonies, as the three other finishers uttered similar statements, with one of them even claiming he felt “feverish” for the rest of the day.”
And I wonder why was he laughing?
I know, I know, I know, the omnivores out there will repeat the oft heard cliché: “Moderation in all things.” Go ahead, have a bite of the Swiss, a bite of the cheddar, a bite of the turkey, a bite of the chicken, a bite of the cow and a bite of the pig.
And while you’re at it, why not a bite of the dog, a bite of the cat, a bite of your best friend and a bite of some cheese made from your cousin’s breast milk?
Newlyweds Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt got an unusual wedding gift from PETA recently. Apparently the couple had failed to register at Pottery Barn or Macy’s, forcing PETA to be creative with their well wishes.
The group opted to name two newly rescued chinchillas, yes, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. While the glittery movie stars are not vegans, they have made the ethical decision to refrain from wearing fur. They’ve also been involved in some animal rescue operations, said PETA.
Brad and Angelina (the chinchillas) were two of 400 animals rescued from the Adams Valley View Chinchilla Ranch where they would have likely suffered electrocution before being turned into coats. The Ranch generally sold chinchillas as pets, but the ones who weren’t considered suitable as pets were killed.
Brad and Angelina (the celebrities) had been together for nine years, before they sneaked off to France recently to tie the knot. They had been asked previously why didn’t they get married. Pitt was quoted saying, “When everybody in America can get married (referring to gay rights) maybe we’ll get married.”
Brad and Angelina (the chinchillas) are vegans. I’m hoping their eating habits will rub off on their namesakes, Brad and Angelina (the movie stars).
Bob Barker, the plucky AR activist, who once presided over one of America’s most embarrassing game shows, “The Price is Right,” finally lost it when a lout called “animal lovers,” “animal wackos.” The nerve!
The 90-year-old silver fox reared back and popped the jerk right in the face. POW! POW! POW!
Yet, I had to wonder if it hadn’t been fun and games in a TV film studio, one might imagine Barker getting arrested under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. And if Barker had been black — Jesus Christ!
I get a little creeped out when AR activists are portrayed in the mass media as, well, “Vicious Vegans.”
We’re not really vicious. It’s a joke. Don’t us put in jail or do anything to us.
A new documentary, “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” asks just that question. Has the silence from the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, 350.org, the Rainforest Action Network, the National Resources Defense Council, the Surfrider Foundation and Oceana on the environmental impact animal agriculture and animal consumption been bought? Is big animal ag paying hush money to these groups to keep the spotlight off their activities?
As “Cowspiracy” blasts on the screen, animal agriculture (and by extension, animal food consumption) is THE biggest single contributor to green house gas production, water depletion, land degradation, deforestation, species extinction, ocean dead zones and community destabilization.
Yet, where is the outcry from the most powerful environmental groups?
Kip Andersen, co-producer and director of the documentary, tried to find out and made a film about his search. Over and over again his requests for interviews with spokespeople from these groups were rebuffed. As the producer told a recent “Cowspiracy” audience in Oakland, “It’s like there’s this huge cancer on the planet and nobody wants to talk about it.”
Reluctantly, some of the environmental groups relented and agreed to go on camera.
With the appearance of an insecure, scruffy college student, or maybe junior college student, Andersen listened dutifully to the advice from environmental and government spokespeople to turn off the lights when he leaves a room and don’t let the water run while he brushes his teeth.
Finally Andersen confronted them: What about animal agriculture? What about asking people to not eat animal products? Sucking wind, with a deer-in –the- headlights expression, Bruce Hamilton, the Deputy Director of the Sierra Club was eventually able to respond: “What do you want to know?”
Environmental group after environmental group fumbled the question with statements like, “It’s hard to actually target, like, one thing” from Chad Nelson, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation.
One spokesperson could not contain her amusement, laughing, “Are you talking about cow farts?”
Amazingly, the most honest and clear answers came from the Clover Dairy president and another small dairy farmer who both conceded that milk from pastured dairy cows is not sustainable. There’s just not enough land to produce cow’s milk for everyone, they said. The small dairy farmer even said that probably almond milk and soy milk were going to be the “way to go.”
And perhaps the most telling exchange was between Andersen and the Animal Agriculture Alliance, an industry group. “Do you give donations to environmental groups?” Andersen asked.
The young spokeswoman seemed nervous and said, “I don’t know that I want to comment on that.”
Richard Oppenlander, author of “Comfortably Unaware – What We Choose to Eat is Killing Us and Our Planet,” and Will Anderson, founder of Greenpeace Alaska (but who’s no longer associated with the group) both accused environmental groups of badly failing the public and the ecosystem by not focusing first and foremost on animal agriculture.
Author and omnivore Michael Pollan also said on camera that our survival as a species depends on drastically reducing animal food consumption – to about 2 ounces a week.
But Oppenlander suggested that cutting down is just not going to be enough: “Do you say to somebody who’s got lung cancer, just don’t smoke on Mondays?”
After seeing the screening, I spoke with Kip Andersen and asked if they had been able to absolutely nail down the fact that animal ag is bankrolling these groups and he said so far, no, and that it’s extremely difficult to track it down, because the groups accept donations from individuals, not groups.
“But I can tell you there are some very excellent investigative journalists who are working on that right now,” Andersen said.
Andersen also told me he thought there was probably another reason why these groups have been so quiet on the issue and so reluctant to ask the public to stop eating animals:
“I think they like to eat meat,” he said. “The guy from the Sierra Club told me that he ate grass fed beef and chicken. Grass fed beef? That’s way worse in terms of climate change, than the factory-farmed beef.”
The film suggested yet another reason some groups might be holding back: fear. A spokeswoman for a rainforest group in Brazil very reluctantly said that cattle ranching was the main reason the South American forests (“the lungs of the world”) are being decimated to the tune of an acre per second. She said that some 1100 anti-cattle ranching activists had been killed in Brazil and that now most people “keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to be the next one with a bullet in their head.”
A couple of years ago, I was able to ask 350.org founder Bill McKibbon — since animal agriculture was the biggest contributor to global warming — how come he didn’t talk about it in the lecture he gave in Marin County.
McKibbon got mad and said, “The biggest growth in animal food consumption is coming from the Third World. How can we ask people who are just now getting to enjoy eating meat that they can’t have it?”
I thought that was odd.
Anyway, the “Cowspiracy” message seems to be starting to get through. The Huffington Post reported that following the film’s release in July, the “Rainforest Action Network” has now admitted that “critics were fair to lambaste the organization for not making animal agriculture a priority.”
The film will be shown in Oakland on Saturday August. 23 at 3 p.m. at the New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland, California.
Other upcoming screenings:
8/21 – New York City – bit.ly/CowNYC
8/21 – Mount Pleasant, SC – *sold out*
8/21 – Lompoc, CA – bit.ly/LompocCow
8/21 – Talahassee, FL – bit.ly/TalaCow
8/21 – Providence, RI – bit.ly/PTownCow
8/21 – San Antonio, TX – bit.ly/SanACow
8/21 – Chicago – *sold out* (2nd screening added on 9/4)
8/21 – Arcata, CA – bit.ly/ArcaCow
8/21 – Ottawa, Canada – on.fb.me/1vrTsMH
8/25 – Austin, TX – *sold out*
8/25 – Valparaiso, IN – bit.ly/CowTugg
8/27 – Lansing, MI – bit.ly/CowTugg
8/27 – Grand Rapids, MI – bit.ly/CowTugg
8/28 – Wilmington, NC – bit.ly/CowTugg
8/28 – Cleveland Heights, OH – bit.ly/CowTugg
8/28 – San Jose, CA – bit.ly/CowTugg
8/28 – Cotati, CA – bit.ly/CotCow
8/28 – Sacramento, CA – bit.ly/CowTugg
8/28 – Tucson, AZ – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/3 – Boca Raton, FL – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/3 – Springfield, MO – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/3 – Dallas, TX – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Batavia, IL – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Berlin, CT – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Chicago, IL – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Fairfield, CT – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Oklahoma City, OK – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Huntington Beach, CA – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/4 – Reno, NV – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/5 – Toronto, Canada (Veg Food Fest) – www.festival.veg.ca
9/8 – Coralville, IA – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/8 – Waterbury, CT – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/10 – Montreal, Canada – bit.ly/MontyCow
9/10 – Eatontown, NJ – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/10 – Philadelphia, PA – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/10 – Chesterfield, MO – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/10 – Phoenix, AZ – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/11 – Altamonte Springs, FL – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/11 – South Miami, FL – on.fb.me/1A3R5yJ
9/11 – Indianapolis, IN – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/11 – Owings Mills, MD – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/11 – Huntsville, AL – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/11 – North Hollywood, CA – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/12 – Ottawa, Canada – on.fb.me/1vrX55s
9/12 – Toronto, Canada – on.fb.me/1owuO9c
9/16 – Houston, TX – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/17 – Asheville, NC – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/18 – Greenville, SC – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/18 – Colorado Springs, CO – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/18 – Las Vegas, NV – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/18 – Grass Valley, CA – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/18 – Portland, OR – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/18 – Cambridge, MA – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/18 – Kansas City, MO – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/23 – Charleston, SC (free!) – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/23 – Alberta, Canada – on.fb.me/1ucf4ep
9/23 – Washington, DC – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/25 – Gainesville, FL – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/25 – Kingston, NY – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/25 – Plymouth Meeting, PA – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/25 – Charlotte, NC – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/25 – St. Louis Park, MN – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/27 – Charleston, SC (free!) – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/29 – Albany, NY – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/29 – Burlington, VT – bit.ly/CowTugg
9/29 – Agoura Hills, CA – bit.ly/CowTugg
10/1 – Wilder, VT – bit.ly/CowTugg
10/2 – South Portland, ME – bit.ly/CowTugg
10/2 – Birmingham, AL – bit.ly/CowTugg
10/15 – Erie, PA – bit.ly/CowTugg