Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Animal Rights

I recently heard an interview on the Diane Rehm's show on NPR featuring animal rights activist, Steven Wise.

I never really knew that there was such a thing as animal rights lawyers.  It's quite the challenging case, and much more so as most judges haven't dealt with these kinds of cases before.

I definitely think that it's the wave of the future.  That these issues will be pressed more and more.  It's not just about animal rights, but also humans.  For our moral integrity, to treat life with respect.  The more we can treat those 'lowest' in many peoples views, with respect, the more we will be able to uphold fairness to our fellow human beings as well.  -- Or so at least I would like to think.  It seems reasonable at minimum.

The celebrity that is nice to those who can do nothing for them, is typically that much better perceived by the public eye.  It goes for all of us though, who are those beings that people assume to be of sub par material, that can be treated poorly for arbitrary reasons?  We base our judgment essentially on our ability to use tools in a way that has dramatically shifted the ecology of our planet.  No other animal has done that.  If cheetahs ruled the world, they may judge a species by how fast they run, and we would be totally out of the 'running' in that situation--both figuratively and literally.  And hence would not have a 'voice' per say.  But who do we arbitrarily allot as not having a voice today?  They have a voice, we just typically don't like to listen or understand.  Many people take advantage of these 'voice less'  at every meal-- or at least in industrialized nations.  They may not murder the animals physically, but they do with their paychecks.  It's basically saying, 'I deserve to consume you, because I am a more worthy entity on planet earth than you are.'  It's not that we don't have choices, we have plenty of choices.  We have the beautiful opportunity to live off of plants, and actually we can dramatically improve our wellbeing, planet's wellbeing, many species of animal's wellbeing and our own consciousness in doing so. (for a rebuttal of the question, "but animals consume animals in the wild, why can't humans?", see to the end of this article for the answer)

I adore that people are dedicating their lives to animal liberation.  I majored in Environmental Policy and I think if I was more familiar with what animal rights was, as I am today, I would have given it perhaps a proper consideration.

Maybe the world isn't quite there yet, in understanding that animals deserve liberties just as much as we do. Not human liberties, but liberties to live out their own lives in a way that is natural to them.  Not stolen from their habitats, not enslaved by us for our own selfish needs.  We don't need animal products for survival -- and we especially don't need enslaved animals for our survival.  The more I think about it, the more sick I feel inside, to know how ignorant and unconscious as a species we have been in our treatment of not only each other, but of all life forms on planet earth.

Even if the world isn't quite there yet, the more those of us who are on board, can talk about it, and really share how imperative it is for the nonhuman animals -- in reducing unnecessary suffering for them, the more it can become part of mainstream.

No rights movement ever started off as popular.  It seems that most of the people who aren't for animal rights, are those who will be directly affected by the repercussions -- farmers, scientists.. etc.

Isn't that the same as with human rights, even today, granting rights to 'immigrants' without documentation, would affect agricultural business.  Granting African Americans liberty, also affected farmers in the south. So many people earn quite a bit of money (unfortunately) by the exploitation of beings -- both human and non human.

And I think the biggest argument against non human animal rights, is the argument of how to possibly care for non human animals when so many people's rights are taken advantage of, and so much can be fixed among injustices today among people.

And it does seem to be relatively true that those who fight for non human animals are typically caucasian of middle class.  I guess in my mind, there are so many people working on human rights issues, and most people really don't seem to even take note that non human animals are autonomous creatures with full awareness of themselves as individuals and can suffer, they can also have the same types of psychological disorders that people have.  But unlike human beings, they are lacking a voice in our mainstream culture. And currently there is no group of individuals that I am aware of that is being more acceptably tortured in such astronomical numbers globally, than non human animals in captivity, especially those found in laboratories, and factory farms. I think this is why some of us, have gravitated towards doing what we can to be a voice for these animals.  And it isn't because I am not aware of the global wars and the devastations, and it's not that I don't help when I am able to for those causes, it's just that I see our infliction on animals as actually the biggest malady of human consciousness.  I really believe that if we can become more compassionate in those areas, that suddenly all killing, especially of other humans will have totally no meaning.  If we gave rights to animals, suddenly that would open up the re-wilding of the world.  In so doing, this would help those poorest people who depend on natural areas for their livelihoods.  I really see this as an all inclusive great thing.  Let's have peace reign.  Let's stop killing unnecessarily in all areas of our life.

  I care just as much for people, but I also realize that if those of us who feel strong compassion for the animals, didn't try to get their voices heard, it just seems that no one would. When it comes to people-- many more are on board with this, and many more are working very hard in this area. And even the people themselves who are being mistreated, still in many cases do have a voice.   And in some instances are able to rise above and make shifts that are totally unprecedented.  Look at Rosa Parks.

For me, I think that humans deserve rights of course, but at the same time, I think human rights has really been the crux of many of our issues in the world-- in the respect that human rights have basically given legal rights to people to own land, water, resources and anything that actually doesn't even belong to us in the first place. Humanity in general is mostly very selfish.  Everything is about us.  But actually the universe really only bestows its gifts on us, when we start thinking about that outside of ourselves, and wanting the best for all that surrounds us.  All that we are cognitively aware of in our lives.  In helping the helpless, we actually help ourselves.  Think of a world where we equally valued all of life.  Where trees and wild places were equally as important as human abodes.  Think how much beauty our children would be able to experience, and the connection to wild life we could have, if we weren't so focused on 'me', 'my' and 'mine'.  Humans are the most possessive creatures on the planet and nothing is ever good enough, it seems that all of life that has no means to serve humanity has no point in existence.. so what do we do.. we kill it.. because this is 'me', 'my' and 'mine'.  I don't personally believe in a God, but since many people do, I will use the terminology.  I do believe in a higher life force.. but I don't really have any words for that.. it seems to be just the energy flow.. the energy transfer in life.

Anyway, if there was a god, and if he created the earth.  Why in the world, would he put things on the earth that had no meaning?  What's the point of life.. if humans think it's all about them?

It just seems bizarre to me.

In my eyes, human beings are animals. We are all animals.  We just have different characteristics.  We all experience life differently.  Yet, blood runs through all of our veins and the will to survive pounds on all of us, 2 legged, 4 legged, 8 legged, it's the same.

I see 'meat' in the store, and in my eyes, it might as well be 'human meat'.  An animal is an animal.

I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I just mean it literally, actually.  Yes, non human animal meat, disgusts me, just as much as if I were to see human meat.  One of the same.

Here are some interesting further reading/listening on the topic:


Video: Animals are Persons too

NPR Diane Rehm show --interview with Steven Wise

Should a chimp be able to sue its owner? -- Article

Blog post connecting animal rights and human rights

*** note *** I mentioned that I would answer the question about why can animals kill and why is it different for us?

Animals only kill what they need, many animals do not have a choice, and animals actually benefit the overall ecology because they take the weakest, sickest, eldest of their prey.  They also use their talent, wit, speed, strength and embrace the animal fully upon its death.  What do we do?  Well, we are completely hopeless without tools -- unless it's literally a bug-- and even if someone was able to capture something like a snake -- I have yet to see someone act on their 'carnism' impulses and eat it raw, being with the prey fully as it dies in that person's mouth.  If someone were to do that, they would most likely be labelled insane.  So we use tools, we also pick and choose what animal parts that we will eat, we also flavor the meat so it actually tastes more like a plant (we use plants to flavor it, last I checked we don't use blood or fur or other animal body parts for flavoring).  We also take the strongest, not only do we take the strongest but we will inseminate them, and take their young, cage or kill their young and then drink the parent's secretions -- that was actually for their young.  And then we further inseminate them, till we have thousands, mutilate them, lock them in small crates, and kill off all the possible wildlife that may actually get in the way of this process.  Is this not the actions of an ill society?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The depths of industrialized animal agriculture

For those of us who have studied sustainability extensively, or sometimes even briefly if we are lucky to have found the proper resources.  We learn of the atrocities in the industrial animal agricultural world.  Which unfortunately happens to be our world, but the devastations of which, are often hidden from view for the ordinary citizen.

A new documentary seeks to expose some of these details, and it would be interesting to find out exactly what they have learned.  So far I've come across one really in depth article about agriculture and the environment (http://treeoflifecenterus.com/blog-posts-by-gabriel-cousens-m-d-perspectives-on-global-warming-2/),  actually and this one (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es702969f)

The second one is quite a good source of information as it really puts it into clear perspective that eating only plant based foods (even foods from abroad) treads much lighter on the environment than eating animal products locally -- which I know at least one person who left veganism for this reason alone,  hecause he thought it was better for the environment to eat milk, eggs and meat locally than to eat fruits from abroad! Which is completely not the case, and it's so important for that message to get out.

 I mean other sources are rather touch and go, but it is quite a huge dilemma in our world.

To support the documentary check out their indiegogo site:
http://cowspiracy.com/ a link will show up above the trailor.

I definitely feel like they could have come up with a better name, maybe it's fine.. but it just makes it a little harder to recommend with a serious face or tone.. which actually the content of the film is very serious and very important! So not sure the name totally matches but oh well.. at least people can't forget the name!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Having guests over as a vegan: 101

Whether it's a party or just a few people over for dinner, whether you feel like going all out to show how amazing vegan food can be, or if you aren't much into going all out but need a few ideas as to what to make, here are a few ideas on how to plan for your meal.

1. Make sure there is a variety of options and a good amount of protein sources
in the form of mushrooms, seitan, tempeh, beans (or nuts, seeds, avocados if you want to make raw food).  And if you want to be on the extra safe side for a large gathering prepare 2 dishes containing one or more of these ingredients -- fill 'em up! 

2. Next most filling item would be carbohydrates. Do you want the main dish to be served in a wrap, on rice, pasta or potatoes? The good news is you get to decide, it can be fun and exciting to mix and match main dishes with different kinds of carbs.  curried lentil burrito or cilantro black beans over pasta. (If you are going for a raw vegan meal, you can always sneak fruit into the meal through a side smoothie, appetizers, salad or in the dessert.

3. Vegetables: having at least one side of plain or specially prepared vegetables is always a good idea.  Especially featuring the color green.  Green vegetables are an awesome source of calcium and many other vitamins and minerals, they are even a good source of omega 3. And make sure there will be enough.  One head of kale steamed shrinks down to serve only 2 people, so plan accordingly.

4. Is it a party?  To keep things fun and interesting, keep finger foods available prior to serving the meal.  Lay out cut veggies and fruits along with vegan sauces. Maybe also some seasoned nuts and seeds.  If you are up to a little more work, other appetizers can be made.  Such as baked stuffed mushrooms on toothpicks, bruschetta, or really anything made with phylo dough is always an exciting treat!

5. Salad:  Depending on the amount of time and effort that you would like to put into preparing a meal, will definitely have the most to do with what you actually serve to your guests, but at bare minimum a main dish and a salad in most cases will be enough to keep guests happy. 

          Possible one dish choices: Lasagna -- this is probably one of the most filling one dish ideas that most people enjoy.  Any recipe can be used, but to make it a little more exciting add: seasoned tofu -- make a tofu ricotta, marinated eggplant and or mushrooms (for a meaty texture), spinach (can add a stringy consistency--in a good way-- to make up for no cheese).  Also other vegetables such as zucchini, carrots and broccoli can also be added.

Other one dish possibilities that can perfectly accompany salad:

pasta, enchiladas, chili, pizza...


6. The Dessert!  Perhaps one of the best ways to show the wonders of vegan food.  Especially if you are serving a raw vegan meal, it's imperative that you do not skip dessert.  Raw vegans can often feel satisfied after a salad, but they can't expect the same from their guests, a well planned raw vegan meal will satisfy guests and a dessert will definitely provide extra assurance that they have had enough to eat.

If time is an issue, pick up some vegan ice-creams, banana and chocolate syrup from the supermarket.  Banana split can be an easy whip up recipe that everyone can enjoy.

Last, have fun with it, prepare your favorites-- and make sure it isn't just a salad, guests may not be used to having such light meals.  With a little bit of thought and care, your guests will be raving about their experience for the next years to come!


For a sample menu see here:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

So you want to become a farmer?

How do you change professions? How do you do it in a way that you can support yourself?

You don't necessarily have to quit your current occupation right now.

So in what ways can you get involved?

1.  Assess your current skills
-- Where are you currently working? What are you good at?
  • Business?  That is awesome, maybe you could use your skills to help farmers in some way.  Advertising their product, or redesigning daily operations to be more financially viable- only you know your skillset, and you can definitely use it to enter the 'field' through a slightly different way, but it will work.  
  • Construction?  Farmers, especially on small operations and especially permaculturists are usually always building something.  Learn about common buildings that are needed, it's a great avenue to become more involved.
  • Media?  Obviously these kind of degrees are quite far away from what I've been specializing in.  But this is just meant to give general ideas or direction.  Perhaps it's possible to make green commercials or ones for specific farms.  Create a series of interviews with farmers and post them online.  Use your skill to enhance local farms.  
  • Photography, Music, Art?  The creative eyes, how can we bring more culture to our farms?  campfires, music, potlucks?  Creative photography of farms or other sustainable operations, same with art.  You can use your skills in designing visually pleasing farm plans.  Ecotourism is becoming more of thing, research it, they will surely be interested in adding culture to their establishment.  
  • Philosophy?  In what ways can you gain inspiration from the natural areas?  Perhaps writing a paper or a book on what it means to live close to nature.  What are your ideas? How can the ecology and social perspectives of farms be looked at in new ways? 
  • Writer?  Specialize on natural systems.  Tell the stories of our farmers, what are their struggles, their doubts, their worries?  How does mainstream life support or not support farmers?
  • Doctor, healthcare worker?  How does the treatment of our soils affect our food?  How does food affect our health?  In what way can treat the soil differently in order to get a different result in our bodies?  How do wild foods compare to processed or storebought foods or even fresh foods?  Do the types of proteins we consume make a difference?  Are vitamins enough, is there a better way to think about this whole system?  
  • Anthropology? How do different countries view food and food systems? What are the differences between cultures and foods eaten and grown?  How does GMOs affect society at large?  
  • Language? How do local languages affect the treatment of the land? What words do they use to describe features of the land, and what deeper meanings are also prescribed to these words?  Translation is be a valuable tool, and as languages dwindle, so does the ancient knowledge on natural systems that was intertwined in that language.  In what ways can farmers obtain greater access to the rest of the world, or to what way can the knowledge of that farmer get to the rest of the world.  Explore the relationship.  Travel, interview, find out.  
  • Finance?  This skill can be used anywhere, most farms do most of their own financial work, but maybe you could bulk the work of several farms in a way that is affordable to them, yet is beneficial for you too.  Basically creating some kind of an easy system for for you to easily keep track of their finances.. while maybe for them gives them one less thing to worry about.  
  • Teacher?  Permaculture teacher training, there are so many people out there who are interested in sustainable systems.  Also perhaps a training series in master gardening, it's really a growing field and people are gaining a lot of interest in growing their own food these days.
  • Technician/Engineer?  There are so many people interested in green energy and ways to set up their farms using different ways.  How do you create oil from Hemp or Algae?  Are biodigesters the best way to go always and how?  What's the best way to use solar energy?  So many questions.  Get out there and talk to farmers about some of the technological issues, most likely they will be so happy to work with you! 
Did I miss anything? These are pretty shortlisted, but it's meant to just give ideas.  How can you get involved with your skillset?

If it's still not enough, if you really want to dive in and get your hands dirty, there are options.

Check out your farms which are local.  Sometimes they can be decent paying, just because sometimes not a lot of people are interested in doing that kind of work-- namely farming.

Don't just visit one, explore your options, visit them all!  Where do you feel most comfortable?

Look at volunteer opportunities as well as paid positions.

 Many volunteer opportunities have much more learning opportunities than paid positions.  And sometimes much cooler.

They are volunteer for a reason, because it has value apart from the money.

Skillsets, room and board often, community, fun...

Some allow families even to come and stay.

Explore the internet find organic farms, permaculture sites, revegetation/reforestation projects.

My favorite community remains Sadhana Forest -- with sites located in Haiti, Kenya and India.
For long term volunteers you don't pay, it's a gift economy.

So many ways to get involved

Follow your heart.

Don't give up.

Meet challenges with a smile


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cache Valley Vegans


The other day my friend mentioned that USU had a vegan group.  I was interested to see if I could find  more information online but it turned out that all of the information was outdated and the group
was no longer.  I only know a few other vegans in town, but I am aware that there are more than that!  So in attempts to connect vegans in my town I decided to make a facebook page.  It's pretty amazing because it got 45 likes in 2 days!  I couldn't really believe it, it seems like there are more vegans out there, and since facebook and twitter doesn't do the best job of linking it google search, I decided that a blog may be the best way to go.

To access the Cache Valley Vegan facebook page

To access the twitter page:

So there it is for all of the USU vegans, Logan vegans, Cache Valley vegans, or those who just may be interested in learning more about it, and meeting with others, these sites are for you!

Our first potluck will be May 31st, 12:30pm at Lundstrom Park

A foraging hiking trip will be May 17th, 9am and will be meeting at First Dam to go up the canyon together with a local foraging expert! 

So far it looks like some things that members will be doing:

--meeting with store/restaurant managers in obtaining more vegan options
--hikes to learn about local edible plants
--local vegan cooking classes
--play dates among families with kids -- connecting families with other
   vegans, and addressing social elements of food choices-- (if anyone is interested in this please email me and I can get you connected to other families)
--perhaps other types of events -- whatever we feel like :)
   maybe movie nights or lake trips... or maybe trips to slc

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Owning animals

This is a fantastic article:


I adore animals.  I love being around them, but I cannot justify breeding them and keeping them dependent on us just so we can love them.

There are so many animals in this world, and so many need a home.

Let's create animal sanctuaries.

Let's end animal mortuaries, and the excess of beings that we can not possibly take care of.

Balance can be restored.

And maybe with that balance, our love of the natural world can expand, and our love for animals
can be shared with wildlife.

Today, we end up killing wildlife so we can maintain caged life -- that was once wildlife but is no longer due to our manipulation of their evolution.

It doesn't seem right to me.

Can we love animals, as they are, as they were born to be?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Most amazing eco-commercial you will ever see.


Please share :):)

This commercial actually makes me want to do all the things it says to 'not' do!


Could you imagine if we all decided to do those things?? What a different world we'd live in :)