Ebola, Meat, and the Future of Veganism

November 5, 2014


Ebola is like the best thing ever for the media, fodder to keep their fear-based ratings on fire. Meanwhile, more Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from the virus this year.  And in the U.S., about 136 million hamburgers are eaten per day—and those are pretty much chock-full of disease-causing virus and bacteria. 

In the back (front) of my mind, I associate animal products with disease, so when I heard on my car radio that the current outbreak of Ebola has been traced back to bushmeat, I banged my fist on the steering wheel because...I. Knew. It. 

Not shocked, bushmeat being any wild animal hunted for human consumption—rats, squirrels, antelope, monkeys, etc. It's not just factory-farmed animals who carry disease. 

The first Ebola victim, dubbed "Child Zero", died in December 2013 in Guinea after the family had been hunting bats, known to carry the virus. The virus doesn't easily jump the species barrier, but it happens. And in Ghana, over 100,000 bats are killed and sold every year for food (BTW, want to see a rescued baby bat respond to loving care? See the video below).

In many interviews, people ask me about my vision for the future of veganism. My answer is this: I believe that eating animals is so entirely unsustainable, that it will eventually collapse—either because the masses become educated and stop funding the market, or because of some unstoppable "food"-borne virus that shuts down the system.

And as for countries and cultures that rely on bushmeat for survival? Whose lands are not conditioned for plant-based crops? There are non-toxic, organic methods of "pedogenesis" (building soil) and products in the works that essentially turn dirt—and even toxic land—into rich soil. 

Read about Michael Meléndrez and his humid acid/soil work. This is the future. 



P.S. Speaking of bats...watch a sanctuary-rescued baby bat respond to loving care:

Zoo Cooks Up Their Own Animals

October 22, 2014

highway 5 ruby roth

My 6-hour solo drive on the barren Highway 5 from L.A. to the San Francisco World Veg Fest last week was surprisingly full of vegan-related sightings and news (wait until you hear my favorite):

• First, a roadside sign advertising an Indian vegan food stop (this, in central California farm/trucking/fast food territory is quite outstanding). 

• A chance landing on a live Seventh Day Adventist radio show interviewing the awesome Dr. Gregor, who was promoting veganism...and the host was already on board—joy! (This, amidst several other bible shows encouraging "compassion" was also outstanding.)

• I passed Harris Ranch, the largest West Coast cattle feedlot (150 million pounds of beef per year—the stench is radical, even miles away), and then heard about them on the news moments later...the pollution they cause has created a "hot zone" in the atmosphere, one of the worst over the entire nation. The host's take: the environmentalist critique of the cattle industry and methane pollution is likely a coverup for the "ulterior motives of people like Paul McCartney, who want us all to be vegetarians."  Dumb-dumb didn't take his thinking any farther to consider what the ulterior motives of veganism might be. Regardless, I'd say he was kind of right, except most "environmentalists" leading the movement are not even vegan (yet). We work for the day when they are.

• My favorite: a morning radio show's report that a Swiss wildlife park is serving up their overpopulated animals on the cafeteria menu. Of course, the public is outraged and disgusted, ha! The radio hosts took an opinion call from an L.A. Zoo volunteer, who said he would never eat the exhibition animals. Why not? they asked. Not even the hooved animals? What's the difference between them and a cow?

The volunteer's answer was really revealing. He said, "Uhh...hmm...errr...because, well...the exhibit animals are animals, but they're not part of ouuuurrrr food chain." 

You know I just love this stuff, right? I figuratively squeal with delight when the media exposes the poor rationale that shapes all public thinking.

The zoo volunteer (representing most people) takes for granted our consumption of cows, pigs, chickens, and fish as a kind of God-given, a naturally ordered system in human life—like photosynthesis. Cows are to humans as the sun is to the grass. 

The truth is that the four main animals in our "food chain" are arbitrary and culturally relative—the result of history unfolding, not natural order. Our offense at the thought of eating some animals but not others is just evidence that we are not true omnivores.

If we were, then when our bodies "crave" or "tell us" that we need meat, we'd lick our lips at the bounty around us—our dogs, our neighbor's cat, the spiders on the wall, ants, worms, grub. The gates at the zoo would be necessary to keep us out, not the animals in

Change will never be fast enough, but the best things are happening now—the word "vegan" is rapidly making its way into mainstream consciousness, environmental and animal issues are in the news more than ever, and you, *|FNAME|*, are pointing out the relationship between the two to all your friends and community...right? 

Go do it!

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Cargill Phases Out Hog Crates: The Myth of Baby Steps

June 17, 2014

Cargill Crates

Photo: WikiMedia/HSUS

Cargill, one of the nation's largest pork producers has announced it will phase out its practice of using hog gestation crates. The company joins 60 other large companies that have made a similar transition, including General Mills, Target, and Supervalu. 

The crates, standard in animal agriculture, are used to hold pregnant sows and are so small the animals can not turn around or lie down. Breeding sows, who average two and half pregnancies per year, spend a vast amount of life suffering these miserable conditions and their complications. But while group housing may allow the animals slightly more freedom, there is no telling that it will increase the animals' safety or lessen their suffering.  We know the conditions that most "cage-free" chickens suffer—tens of thousands, sometimes one hundred thousand birds stuffed into a dark warehouse where broken limbs, disease, and fighting abound. Getting rid of crates, also, can not stop the abuse rained down upon the animals by factory workers. 

Big picture, this BUSINESS decision will be a win for the animal agriculture industry. By tossing a crumb to animal rights and appeasing the generally uninformed and uninterested public, they can continue producing their end products with more public consent and leeway than ever. 

Nevertheless, many activists will celebrate this shift. The Humane Society, known for its welfarism, congratulated Cargill's decision saying, "[This] decision brings us closer to the day when gestation crates will be relics of the past in the pork industry.  Americans simply don’t support locking animals in cages barely larger than their bodies, and Cargill is right to be leading its industry away from the practice.” 

This is "green-washing," a mere fantasy, a skewing of reality that bolsters the myth of "baby steps."

There is a difference between personal baby steps and corporate baby steps. I have patience for, and of course even celebrate people taking small steps toward veganism because we share the same essential goal and a life-centered vision for a world in need. But when it comes to major companies, there can be no "baby steps," for there is no shared goal, but rather an antiethetical vision based on profit and public relations—all over life and sustainability. 

My point is not to be a hater but to stay clear on the end goal. It doesn't matter what changes the animal agriculture industry makes because we will never see eye-to-eye. Our focus should remain on promoting veganism—the only shift that will truly change the marketplace.

How do you feel about Cargill's decision? Leave a comment below: