Tag Archives: DXE

A DXE CONVERT

Activist Leslie Goldberg.

By Leslie Goldberg

I really didn’t know what to make of the DxE video I was watching: Animal rights activists marching into restaurants and yelling about animals who wanted to live and how “meat” isn’t food, it’s violence. The activist/troublemakers usually held AR signs and stony expressions. The restaurant customers looked amused, embarrassed or annoyed. The staff? Angry, then frazzled.

As an animal rights activist myself, generally of the polite variety, I was intrigued, but also intimidated— especially when I’d see a DxE video of someone going into a restaurant alone and starting to shout. I said to myself, I COULD NEVER DO THAT. My husband said, “YOU’D BETTER NOT DO THAT.”

I live close to a Nations Giant Hamburgers, a KFC, a Jack ’n’ the Box and a Burger King – so many opportunities, I thought. But no, I can’t. I just can’t.

Weeks passed and still I kept wondering about DxE. I’d check out the notices on Facebook for Direction Action Everywhere Meetups, held on Saturday mornings at the DxE House in Oakland.
The DxE House. I had a picture in my mind – White frame house, falling apart, in a rough part of Oakland. My imaginary house was…

Read the rest of this essay here.

A recent DxE meetup.

MEAT-EATERS AREN’T BAD

By Leslie Goldberg

The fight over the “morality of meat-eating” rages. It’s on Facebook, on Twitter, in the newspaper, on TV and radio, in our dining rooms and in our classrooms. Recently on social media, I read the question, “How can my wonderful, kind and generous friends keep eating animals? Are they evil?”

I would suggest that flesh-eaters aren’t bad and certainly not evil, except maybe Donald Trump and/or Jeb Bush. (And no, Hitler was NOT a vegetarian.)

People are just hypnotized by the culture. It’s like there’s a micro-chip lodged deep in our brains that keeps us from realizing the suffering of animals and often, the suffering of other humans.

I’ve only been vegan for six years. For most of my life I ate the flesh and secretions of animals. My consumption tortured and killed animals on a regular basis, yet I loved animals. I only read horse books as a child. I cried when my companion animals died. I adored the movie “Babe.” I saw the “in-your-face” animal rights artwork of Sue Coe. Even though some of these things disturbed me, they didn’t cause me to make any connection between my behavior and the suffering and murder of animals.

It was like being under a spell or sleep-walking. Almost by chance I woke up. I saw some images in a movie and I knew I could never knowingly eat an animal or her bio-fluids again.

As animal rights activists, our job is to break the spell – throw cold water in the face of our flesh-gnawing, secretion-sucking society.

But how? My favorite tools are loud obnoxious public demonstrations and disruptions; blogging; making videos and films; writing books; and writing songs. There’s also tweeting, letters to the editor, complaining in restaurants, and, yes, posting on Facebook.

What about getting to people’s hearts via the stomach, or, if you like, the digestive tract?

These days, I’ve kind of given up on that tactic. Of course, vegan food is great and I really appreciate the love and the effort that goes into vegan cooking, but tasty meals aren’t going to change our society. I would suggest that neither the best vegan cupcake in the world or the best vegan sushi in Manhattan is going to trigger any serious soul searching or moral questioning. (Not the way graphic imagery of animal suffering might.) Sad to say, but I don’t think Ben & Jerry’s new vegan ice cream is going to liberate animals (both human and non-human.)

Activist and author of “Whitewash – The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health” Joseph Keon said to me recently the most typical response he hears when carnists eat delicious vegan food is, “Wow, if I could cook like this, I’d be vegan.” Translation: I don’t have the time or the skill to cook vegan or care enough to make the time and learn new cooking skills.

Just as the civil rights movement, the gay liberation movement, the women’s movement, the abolitionist movement hinged on ordinary people speaking up, the animal rights movement is going to need to get noisy if we are to succeed. Heard at the recent National Animal Rights Conference 2015: “Never miss an opportunity to say what needs to be said.”

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

WHY THE VEGAN HEALTH ARGUMENT DOESN’T WORK

By Leslie Goldberg

It’s the old pitch: “heart disease, blah, blah, blah, diabetes, blah, blah, blah, cancer, blah, blah, blah, cholesterol, blah, blah, blah, obesity, blah, blah, blah, saturated fat, blah, blah, blah, arthritis, blah, blah, blah and on and on and on.

Their eyes glass over and then they say, “Protein, blah, blah, blah, calcium, blah, blah, blah, omega 3’s, blah, blah, blah,” and/or “My uncle ate eggs, steak and cheese every day of his life and he lived to be 117.”

And, maybe, maybe, maybe, “OK, OK, OK, I’ll try it.”

Another ex-vegan is born.

Actually, when you think of it, why would anybody think they could persuade anyone to do anything based on health? Have you ever gone to a birthday party and said, as the cake was being cut, “You know we shouldn’t eat this because it’s bad for us.” Or maybe, you’re at a ballgame and your friend is just about to bite into a hot dog and you say that could give you cancer or a heart attack.”

What about saying to someone who has just settled into a little TV watching that they should really be out there running?

I changed my eating because of the animals. I just couldn’t be a part of the holocaust. But I didn’t think other people would be moved to go vegan because of that. I pitched to friends’ and family’s self-interest. I talked about health and weight and I talked about health and weight some more. Talk, talk, talk, until it was suggested that I do something that is anatomically impossible.

The reason the health argument doesn’t work is that it depends on human will-power. Is there any power on earth weaker than that? Cheese, which contains an opiate called casomorphin, is actually physically addictive. It takes about 10 pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheese. “Like it or not, mother’s milk has a drug-like effect on the baby’s brain that ensures that the baby will bond with Mom and continue to nurse and get the nutrients all babies need,” said Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Cow’s milk is “mother’s milk,” folks, just not your mother’s milk.

In addition to addiction, animal rights activists are up against an inescapable, 24-7 barrage of milk, meat, dairy and fish advertising and lobbying. (Remember, if those stupid and insulting ads didn’t work, they wouldn’t spend billions on them.)

Recently I found another clue as to why the vegan health argument doesn’t work in an article by New York Times columnist Jane Brody. In it, she wrote about a new book by Michelle Segar called “No Sweat: How Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.”

Segar, who is the director of the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan, told Brody, “Health is not an optimal way to make physical activity relevant and compelling enough for most people to prioritize it in their hectic lives.”

Brody went on to write, “Though it seems counterintuitive, studies have shown that people whose goals are weight loss and better health tend to spend the least amount of time exercising.

“Rather, immediate rewards that enhance daily life – more energy, a better mood, less stress and more opportunity to connect with friends and family offers far more motivation, Dr. Segar and others have found,” she wrote.

Doing the right thing, i.e., stopping the exploitation of animals in our daily lives is also something that offers immediate rewards. Suddenly a weight of guilt is lifted. Nothing offers a better sense of well-being than knowing you’re living in accordance with your deepest values.

Esteemable acts create self-esteem.

It’s not rocket science: When you’re doing shitty stuff, you feel shitty.

Animal agriculture is torturing and murdering animals – you would have to be living under a rock to not know that. It takes a lot of energy to keep trying to push away awareness. Become truly aware and whoosh! Feel the energy.

Yet, standing up for animals can be a lonely job in this society. And you might not feel that great arguing with family and friends. You might not feel that great not arguing with family and friends and keeping everything inside yourself.

Perhaps, try not arguing AND speaking up for animals. Something small. A friend of mine, Mike, works at a place where the management serves lunch. There’s nothing for him to eat so he goes out and gets his own food. When his co-workers would ask him why he did that, he used to say, “because I’m vegan.” Now he says, “I don’t eat animals.”

Mike has also found that the very best solution to the “Lonely Vegan Syndrome” is finding friends who are also working for Animal Liberation, ideally an animal rights group that gets together for not only protests, but for fun.

Last week I went to “Pizza Night” at the Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) House. I had several kinds of pizza including some chocolate, banana and brown sugar pizza (I hate that expression, “to die for,” but in the case of that chocolate pizza it seemed right on.) The get-together was fun and a lot of friends were there as well as several newcomers.

It made my day. Well, that and going to the gym.

P.S. I once chatted with one of the godfathers of the vegan health movement Dr. John McDougall. McDougall has been in the trenches for decades. He knows what plant-based doctors are up against. He knows the truly depressing recidivism rates among people who try a vegan diet. I was talking with him about some animal rights activism I was doing and he said, “It’s you guys (meaning the animal rights acitvists) who are going to make this whole thing happen.”

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

(By the way, my new book of humerous drawings, The Sex Lives of Cats, has just been published. Check it out here.)

THE LONELY VEGAN

Mary McCartney, vegetarian and daughter of rock legend Paul McCartney.

By Leslie Goldberg

Even the beautiful and rich daughter of Sir Paul McCartney of the Beatles’ fame has known the isolation of being vegetarian. Mary McCartney told the Daily Mail.com, “In a way (being a vegetarian) made me feel a little bit of an outsider. When I was at home it was perfect… but when we would go out, it would be a bit of a different story.”

She told the English online publication that meals out with friends when she was in school in the ‘80s used to turn into interrogations: “It would feel like I was being grilled about being a vegetarian. It was quite difficult. I came away feeling like, ‘Leave me alone.’ ”

God knows what it would have been like for her back then if she’d been vegan.

Mary McCartney said she doesn’t feel so bad anymore and she’s glad there are many more vegetarian foods available now.

Yes, yes, yes, there are more meatless and vegan foods available, but for many, that stereotype of the “lonely vegan” isn’t a stereotype. It’s real.

I remember one day a few years ago – I was tired and hungry, but mostly lonely. My friend and I went to grab something to eat at the Museum of Modern Art Café in San Francisco.

Since she was a long-time vegetarian and I was a relatively new vegan we’d talked about factory farming and about some of the health problems associated with eating animal foods. I tried to talk about the atrocities rampant in the egg and dairy industries. She was sort of non-committal. She wouldn’t really say where she stood on the issue of veganism but my impression was she wasn’t going to give up eggs or dairy any time soon. While there was no animosity, there was a wall between us that hadn’t been there before.

Standing in front of the café pastry counter, I guessed that nothing was vegan. I didn’t want to ask. I was sick of being the picky vegan, always focused on food, always pleading my case. I didn’t like the wall. Somehow I wanted to show her that vegans are like everybody else. I was the same person I’d been before. Fuck it. I ordered a bran muffin and a cup of coffee.

When we finally sat down, I took a bite of the thing. The taste of butter almost made me gag. I set the fork down. “Does it have butter in it?” she asked me.

I couldn’t say anything. I just nodded yes. Later, still hoping to dissolve the wall, I told her she could have the muffin if she wanted it.

Personal isolation weakens the Animal Rights Movement and maybe even our resolve to stay vegan.
My sense is, getting out of vegan solitary confinement is super important.

It can be tough because a lot of vegans are kind of loners to start with. We’re willing to stand apart from the crowd if the crowd violates our convictions. Maybe some vegans feel closer to non-human animals than human animals.

But it can get to be too much.

A lot of us need somebody to mirror back to us that we’re not crazy, strange and/or deluded. We need to know we’re not the only people horrified by the animal cruelty implicit in animal agriculture and we’re not the only people worried sick about what animal agriculture and the public’s eating habits are doing to the environment. We need to know we’re not the only people pissed off by the whole thing.

Living in the Bay Area, I go to a lot of vegan functions – veg fests, lectures, seminars, vegan group dinners. And I’m a member of some online vegan groups.

Still, the most important thing is not only having a vegan partner, but belonging to some vegan face-to-face groups (not to be confused with Facebook groups.) For two years now, we’ve gone to a wonderful twice-a- month vegan book meetup, the Marin Vegan Book Group and we belong to the local DxE chapter which gets together every week.

DxE is the first vegan group I’ve encountered which takes the problem of vegan isolation seriously. In his recent lecture titled “Why DxE?” organizer Brian Burns cited “animal rights activism of the past” as “vegan consumerism.”

He described it: “We want people (usually people we know) to change their diets,” he said. “That approach is lacking in community and has focused on incremental changes like ‘Meatless Monday’ and California’s ‘Prop 2.’ It’s ‘welfarism.’”

He talked about this activism as being nice to everybody, getting your friends to change, making sure nobody gets upset. “That leads to isolation,” he said.

No shit.

That kind of activism has also done nothing to stop the number of animals killed for food from increasing. He noted that today vegetarians are 5 percent of the population compared to 6 percent in 1999.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that DxE is hoping to buck that trend by causing non-violent animal rights disruptions or protests. It’s kind of a “Forget changing your friends and your siblings who seem to have made it their life’s mission to disregard any and all of your suggestions. Don’t try to change friends. Change society. Change the system.

OK, that, and get together for vegan potlucks and farm sanctuary work days once in while.

And never forget “animal food” is NOT food, it’s VIOLENCE.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

Brilliant Video From Bay Area DxE

DxE did three protests advocating animal liberation on Saturday, May 23, 2015 in San Francisco. This video shows excerpts from all three protests.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

LIVING OUT LOUD

Trader Joe’s demonstration.

By Leslie Goldberg

Elbow to elbow, animal rights protesters lined up in front of a Berkeley Trader Joe’s meat counter last Thursday.

Despite a security guard’s plea: “Hey, you guys can’t do this here, I’m sorry,” members of the nonviolent activist group, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), shouted out for animal liberation one by one, in languages as diverse as Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, Chinese, Hindi, Danish, Persian and Ukrainian.

DxE members from all over the world gathered in the Bay Area for a conference last week which included lectures, protests and social gatherings.

The group, which started only two years ago with five people tossing around ideas in somebody’s living room, has now spread to 110 cities in 25 countries. Why the groundswell? I asked one of the key organizers Chris van Breen.

“I think people have been waiting for this for a long time,” he said.

Yelling out loud is a kind of joy, albeit somber, when one has been screaming inside for years. Yelling feels like an authentic human response after one has had to see the dead body parts laying in grocery store “meat” departments every single week. Yelling is a demand for freedom inside these serene even cheerful places of business that calmly traffic in unspeakable cruelty to animals, including some which add insult to injury by claiming you can be humane to animals and kill them at the same time for trivial reasons such as the oft-repeated “It tastes good.”

But why would activists trying to win people over to veganism do such an “extreme” thing?

Compared to stealing someone’s baby or skinning her alive or cutting his throat, practices common in the animal foods industry, yelling, carrying signs or even blocking traffic is not extreme.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTEST STUNS SAN FRANCISCO

Animal Rights protesters in the street.

By Leslie Goldberg

For five minutes, maybe three minutes, I’m not sure exactly, — animal rights activists stopped the world.

Today as cars backed up on Geary Street in San Francisco and as other cars were blocked from leaving a big downtown underground parking lot, over 100 protesters from the animal rights organization DxE formed a large circle in the street. Wearing blue T-shirts and white bloody masks, we held signs with pictures of animals and signs reading, “WHO WILL THEY KILL TODAY?”

For those few moments people stopped, looked and heard a magnificent choir of full-throated voices rising to the heavens chanting:

“ONE STRUGGLE ONE FIGHT”

“HUMAN FREEDOM ANIMAL RIGHTS”

“THEIR LIVES”

“NOT OURS”

“THEIR BABIES”

“NOT OURS”

“THEIR SKIN”

“NOT OURS”

“THEIR FLESH”

“NOT OURS”

“THEIR MILK”

“NOT OURS”

I felt my voice strong and my feet solid on the ground. Finally I was up off my knees. You see, for six years I’ve been either silent or begging, pleading, cajoling, even joking in an effort to persuade people to give up the murderous habit of using animals for food, entertainment, shoes, clothing and research. It hasn’t worked.

There is a smaller percentage of vegans today than in 1999. Part of the reason our numbers have decreased instead of grown is a wildly successful advertising ploy/scam by the animal foods industry called “Humanely-Raised,” “Cage-Free,” “Organically Grown” and “Free-Range.”

Out on Geary, the drivers were getting angrier and angrier, laying on their horns.

Eventually the protest in the street stopped and we moved to continue our Direct Action on the sidewalk. I never knew that the front of Macy’s could be a sacred space, but today it was. With the masks now off we stood silently outside the automatic doors of the store: witnesses to the unimaginable suffering that is going on every minute of every day in research laboratories, on fur farms, in slaughterhouses and on farms which raise animals for food.

Nine billion land animals are killed every year in the United States for food.

Clutching shopping bags, a lot of people scurried past us. Others just stood and stared as we resumed chanting. Others snickered, but even a street musician’s upbeat (and loud) electric guitar playing right next to us couldn’t dent the solemnity or the gravity of our witnessing or obscure the magnitude of the worldwide “Eternal Treblinka” endured by animals on this earth.

We’re not going away until every animal is free from suffering.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS DEFY SECURITY GUARDS IN SAN FRANCISCO

Animal rights activists highlighting International Respect For Chickens Day in San Francisco. Photos and video by Michael Goldberg

By Leslie Goldberg

When I heard “You’re all under arrest,” my heart jumped in my throat. I flashed on who-will-take-care-of-the-dog-what-about-babysitting-I’d-promised-I’d-do-tomorrow- and what-about-the-cat-and-what-about-all-the-work-due-for-my-class-this-week- what-if-I-can’t-get-to-my-class.

I’ve never really been in jail before.

It was an “International Respect for Chickens Day” protest. We were in the San Francisco Ferry Building which is a sort of foodie plaza where you can spend all sorts of money on “artisan” cheese, olive oil, nuts, fruit, pricey bread and “humanely-raised” meat.

In fact, it was in front of one of these “humanely raised and cruelly-killed” meat places where two animal rights groups, United Poultry Concerns (UPC) and Direct Action Everywhere (DXE), had joined to cause a disruption.

“HUMANELY RAISED,” shouted long-time activist Hope Bohanec of UPC.

“KILLS CHICKENS” we shouted back.

“ORGANIC,” shouted Hope.

“KILLS CHICKENS,” we yelled.

“SUSTAINABLE” she shouted.

“KILLS CHICKENS,” we yelled.

“FREE RANGE,” she yelled.

“KILLS CHICKENS,” we yelled.

(Hope, by the way, is also the author of a superb book, “The Ultimate Betrayal –Is There Happy Meat?”)

Back to the protest: So we were lined up in front of the meat counter and here was this guy dressed in a uniform saying we were all under arrest.

Oh shit.

But I looked around and saw nobody really budging and realized that the guy talking about arresting everyone was actually a security guard – not a police officer. And even if he had been a police officer we would have to be given a reasonable amount of time to leave.

The guard sort of laughed and shook his head when he heard we were protesting the cruel treatment of chickens. Conventional belief is that chickens are stupid, if not ridiculous.

The reality is chickens are sentient beings who feel pain, fear and, at times, contentment.

Scientists have discovered that chickens recognize and remember human faces, they communicate with other chickens, they learn from each other and they teach their young, new behaviors. And when they’re happy and safe, chickens purr.

Yet chickens are, according to Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary, the most abused of all farm animals. Of the 9.1 billion land animals killed for food in the U.S. during 2013, over 8.5 billion were chickens, according to the USDA.

And being raised “free range” and/or “humanely’’ means little or nothing for most. “Humane,” “Sustainable,” “Cage Free” are basically advertising slogans designed to increase sales and prices while reassuring troubled consciences.

Cage free means, in most cases, thousands of birds stuffed into a darkened filthy shed. Cage free also means that male layer chicks which are of little use to industry are ground up alive or suffocated in garbage bags shortly after they’re born. Backyard chicken farmers please know, this is what happens to the male chicks you don’t buy.

“Free range” broiler chickens are also stuffed by the thousands into these same types of sheds. Those chickens are so deformed and maimed by selective breeding to have huge breasts or “drumsticks,” they can barely move. Experiments have shown that broiler chickens are in nearly constant pain.

It’s a horrible, horrible scene, which is why I just kept standing there with everybody else holding my sign in front of this meat counter listening to the DXE speakers.

One of the butchers wearing a bloody apron came out from behind the counter and got in front of me and said, “Don’t you have something better to do?” which I thought was a very interesting question given the circumstances.

I just stared into the distance and he went off to ask other people in our group, “Why don’t you go get a hobby?”

Trying to drown out the protesters.

As the DXE speakers continued (LOUDLY,) another butcher came out of the back with a spoon and a big pan which he started to beat ferociously to drown out the speaker. It was loud enough to hurt my ears and sounded like one of those “Come ’n’ get it” triangles from cowboy movies.

It worked!

Foodies from all over the Ferry Building arrived to see what was going on or maybe to check out what there was to eat. (You know, maybe some free samples…)

What they saw was us with our signs and our huge banner decrying chicken slaughter, an upset dude in an apron banging on a pot and security guards fluttering around trying to stop the photography. Eventually though they had to give up on trying to stop the photos, because even the foodie/tourists were filming.

Once the short speeches and the chanting were over, we left. The whole thing must have been 10 minutes, max.

Next location: A “humanely-raised” restaurant with tables on the sidewalk in front of the Ferry Building.

“THEIR LIVES”

“NOT OURS”

“THEIR CHICKS”

“NOT OURS”

“THEIR FAMILIES”

“NOT OURS.”

THEIR LIVES

“NOT OURS”

Protesters attempt to wake up diners to the cruelty of their meals.

The people sitting at the tables just stared as DXE members spoke to the crowd about the horrors of the so-called humane meat industry. I saw one man eating a hamburger trying to sort of duck down when he took a bite. His companion looked miserable.

I kind of felt sorry for them. I’m sure lunch hadn’t been cheap and after all, these were folks who cared enough about farm animals to try and do the right thing – buy “humanely raised.” Maybe some lights were going off inside their brains. That’s what I hoped.

Security came back, this time with a bright blue plastic tarp which they held up as barricade between us and about four tables in the restaurant. The “barricade,” of course, did nothing to stop the sound and it was too small to block the views of most of the people in the restaurant.

It was silly but I thought there is a serious side to animal rights protesting. I’d read Will Potter’s book, “Green is the New Red,” about animal rights activists who had done nothing more than operate a website and had been sentenced to federal prison for lengthy terms.

Protesters stand opposite outdoor restaurant where ‘humane meat’ is served.

DXE founder and attorney Wayne Hsiung explained after the protest ended that out of the many, many animal rights activists only 10 have ended up in prison under the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and that animal rights and environmental activists no longer get top priority from the FBI.

Hsiung said, compare what’s happened to animal rights activists to the tens of thousands of innocent Muslims who have been imprisoned in the U.S. under the Homeland Security Act or the millions of innocent African-Americans who have also been imprisoned in the United States or have been brutally killed by police simply because of the color of their skin.

There’s a lot of work to do in Amerika.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

BOAA, DXE PROTEST GOAT FESTIVAL IN SAN FRANCISCO

Security guard stands by during protest at the goat cooking demonstration. Photos by Michael Goldberg

By Leslie Goldberg

We were at the annual Goat Festival in San Francisco to cause a disruption Saturday. Yup, this morning I wasn’t pecking at my keyboard spouting off about animal rights or about the environmental disaster caused by animal food consumption, but rather I took it to the streets with the animal rights groups DXE (Direct Action Everywhere) and BOAA (Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy).

The disruption was successful: By chanting (loudly) and holding up signs we managed to make it almost impossible to give a cooking goat sausage demonstration.

A small group of foodies had gathered under a tent in front of the Ferry Building to watch John Stewart-Streit show how to fry up the flesh of a goat and to also have some samples. Stewart-Streit owns a restaurant in Oakland that serves “house-butchered porcine delights.” The onlookers sat on folding chairs apparently unaware they were about to experience an animal rights protest up close and personal.

Security, on the other hand, was aware there was to be a disruption. There were about eight San Francisco police officers and private security guards standing around. The cops kept talking into their radios. The security officers seemed annoyed.

As the goat cooking demo got started and the chef started talking about the “pleasures” of goat consumption, one activist who had been sitting in the audience stood up, and holding a poster of a dog kissing a goat, faced the audience and explained (loudly) about how goats feel, suffer, experience joy and love their families just like us.

She was so strong and forceful, Stewart-Streit who had a microphone could not make himself heard above her. Then another activist stood up, also holding a poster and started shouting about the suffering of goats and yet another activist did the same.

Then a chant began with about 30 activists standing around the seating area. We whipped out our signs reading “Stop Violence” from under our shirts and from out of our bags.

It was loud. Yet, amazingly, for the most part, the audience just sat there. At first when individual activists were speaking there was laughter but later the expressions turned blank as they stared at us with our Stop Violence signs. Despite the intimacy (we were quite close) it was as if they were watching TV.

Also amazingly, they passively ate the sausage that was handed out from a big platter while the ruckus was going on. I have to say, I did see a few angry faces in the audience and heard one woman say, “We have rights too.”

Chef John Stewart-Streit hands out sausages made from dead goats.

I didn’t respond to her with what I would have liked: “Your rights end at a goat’s throat.” I’d been instructed not to engage with individuals, so I didn’t.

I’m a new member of DXE. I had trepidations about joining. I’d seen the group’s videos where they walk into grocery stores such as Whole Foods and/or restaurants such as Chipolte and start chanting, “It’s not food, it’s violence.” They hold up signs depicting either really cute and sweet animals frolicking in sanctuaries or depicting horrendous animal cruelty.

Is this the right tactic I wondered. Wouldn’t we succeed in simply pissing people off by getting in their faces like that? Why wouldn’t they decide that animal rights activists were just crazy assholes and vow never to stop eating animals?

Then I heard a short lecture from one of the DXE organizers a couple of weeks ago who explained that DXE wasn’t really about converting individuals but rather, impacting society as a whole and making the effort to get our message out into public consciousness.

He also said that DXE is firmly committed to non-violence and if members are asked to leave by the police they leave.

I decided, what the hell, maybe this will do something. Maybe this will stop the slaughter, save the environment and restore public health. My husband Michael and I joined.

Before our action we had gathered at an apartment where some of the DXE organizers live. There I was stunned to learn that a DXE protest at a circus in LA had gone very badly and that circus employees set on non-violent DXE members and beat them with flashlights. One of the DXE members who had been attacked and injured had also been arrested and charged with felony assault.

Oh god.

They had advertised the Goat Festival as a place to “bring the kids to play with adorable baby goats” and attend the “goat-themed cooking demo.”

What? Play with the goats and then turn around and eat sausage made from their flesh?

OK. We’ll go to the Goat Festival where they are eating goat flesh and secretions yards away from where they are playing with living, breathing goats. Our presence as animal rights activists will suggest, if nothing else, “There’s something really bizarre about this.”

The Goat Festival was also “Humane Meat Ground Zero.” The event was sponsored by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. Folks troubled by the killing of animals for food could find some comfort in the belief that “Well, at least they had a good life.” And those worried about the environmental devastation caused by factory farms, could soothe their souls with the idea that the meat is “free range” and “sustainable.”

For this post all I want to say is “humane meat” and “sustainable meat” and “cage free” are advertising slogans aimed at people who have money and who care about animals. Those slogans are not the truth, folks. Undercover video of some of these “farms” are almost as gruesome as factory farm footage, but even when it’s nice and the animals are grazing in pastures, it’s not the whole story.

Why I’m not on board with the so-called humane meat or the humane dairy trip:

1) Killing animals and causing them pain, terror and suffering for trivial reasons like “It tastes good” or “Humans have always eaten meat” cannot be defended ethically even if a person paid three times the normal price for that meat or those eggs or those dairy products (yes, they brutally kill dairy cows and egg chickens for meat when they’re “spent.”)

2) Meat and dairy consumption is not “sustainable.” There is simply not enough land and not enough water on this earth to produce enough meat and dairy to feed everybody.

3) No matter how “food animals” are raised they cause planet-threatening pollution and planet-threatening green house gas.

If you still want to argue, write me a letter.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –