Thursday, March 28, 2013

Animals and Humans

Dear All,

Since you are doing the Nature Walk today (see separate post for that)  I just wanted to draw your awareness to a few links that I find really interesting and important:

1) Animal Rights

Article by Peter Singer: "All Animals Are Equal"

Lecture by Peter Singer about Animal Rights (youtube)

2) Animal Consciousness

Some Introductory Info:

Some Interesting Videos:

3) Animals and Food

Excellent Video on Global Impact of a Vegan vs. a Non-Vegan Diet:

Peter Singer: "The Ethics of What We Eat"

I would like to encourage you to think about these three topics!
Please feel free to post your comments about these links here!

Thank you,



  1. While I was watching the Vegan video, lots of thoughts were going through my head. Although the video presents many good points, there are many that I feel the need to argue against.

    First of all, I want to talk about organic foods. And yes, I do realize that that was not the main point of the video, but I do like to touch up on the point. I DO NOT think eating organic is necessarily a good thing for people. Not only do I feel that "organic" choices are just another way of inflating the prices on produce, but it's bad for our body. Yes, you heard it right, I feel it's bad for our body and here's why. Our immune system is something that is built up. Meaning, the more bacteria/virus our body is able to fight off, the stronger our immune system will grow to be. If we "protect" our body from viruses and bacteria that are weak enough for our body to fight off, sooner or later the immune system will weaken. And then when really bad bacteria and viruses come along, the chances are, our body will not be able to fight back. It's partially the reason why kids of this generation develop so many allergies; because we spoil them with cleanliness. It may sound strange but it is what it is.

    Next, vegan. The choice of becoming a vegan would be "saving our planet", but there are so many alternatives to this as well. Instead of stopping farming, we should change the means of how we obtain our food. Instead of having factory farms, we can hire people to catch animals in humane ways. This way, it would also help our economy because we are increasing job opportunities. Also, meat is an essential part of our health. There are a lot of nutrients that you can only get from animal products such as fish oil.

    Becoming a vegan takes a lot of self obedience and for a lot of people it would be giving up a lot. So instead of "changing" our ways, wouldn't it be better to find humane alternatives?

    1. Hi Ashley, you are making a really good point about our pre-occupation with cleanliness. I, too, think that we are overprotecting ourselves - and in particular our kids - and that that might be part of why many of us have messed-up immune systems. However, non-organic food doesn't expose us to bacteria but to chemicals - mainly poisons. So I think the two things are not necessarily connected.
      About going vegan: it actually is not as hard as it seems to give up meat - since there are tons of vegan products now on the market that taste (almost) like meat and that help a lot in the transition since your body thinks it is eating meat. Soy (edamame) and other beans as well as nuts have tons of proteins. And you can get all your other nutrients also 100% from a plant-based diet. So it's definitely NOT unhealthy to be vegan. On the contrary. The only problem is in our mind: we THINK we need meat....
      What you say about humane ways of keeping and killing animals for food would certainly make the situation better - but I don't think it's going to happen since it will cost a lot of money. Big farming companies only care about their profit. That's why they are abusing animals so ruthlessly. They are not going to change unless we either get the government to change the laws or we stop buying their products. Or course, becoming more politically active and forcing farming corporations to change their practices that way might also work. The facts would still remain: if we all lived on a plant-based diet, our planet could sustain us all. If we eat meat, it can't - unless we dramatically reduce the number of humans.

  2. If I did not love Meat so much I would definitely become a vegan.
    All of the reasons that were presented in the video are correct.
    But what can I say i'm selfish.

    Dear Ashley: 10 billion animals are killed every year in USA, and the demand is just growing, there is no way to compete with the Efficiency of the farms.

    and as for strengthening our immune system, you are right about the fact that kids suffer from allergies way more than the past, but there is a difference between pumping our bodies with hormones, steroids and antibiotics to eating "too clean" foods.

    1. There are actually tons of product made out of plants that taste (almost) like meat. You might want to try some of them - and start by having one vegan day per week - or at least one vegan dinner :)
      Of course, there are healthier alternatives than fake meat: edamame or tofu or nuts for example....

  3. My thoughts:

    1. Thanks for being so honest. You are right: the disconnectedness is one of the problems. I used to eat meat for years as well - event though I have always loved animals and, unlike you, am convinced I would never be able to kill one (unless the animal is suffering and I would like feel obliged to ease his or her pain) because I didn't really (want to) see the connections. So unlike you, I'd rather collect berries if I couldn't go buy my food.

      However, it is also true that the farming practices have become more and more cruel during the past 20 or 30 years. So we are not just killing animals for food - we are torturing them for their whole lifetime. And they are conscious, suffering beings, just like us! That's why I decided to become vegan. I think we cannot justify eating meat anymore - not with what's being done to the animals for our sake. I think we really need to stop this. It's not just unfair, it's outright horrible.

      And, talking about health: I don't think it is healthy to eat meat of an animal who has been tortured for most of his or her life. The unhappiness and pain are part of the animals's body and will become part of the humans who eat that meat.

      Anyway, these were just a few thoughts that I wanted to share after reading your essay.

  4. The articles regarding animal consciousness reminded me of the life-changing experience I had a few years ago with my dog Boomer. I've always had a love for animals especially dogs. Boomer always felt like an equal member of our family, so when he started having seizures at the age on nine, we all were devastated to learn that he had a cancerous tumor the size of a football in his abdomen. After a couple of months, when the he started looking like he was in too much pain, we decided that he had to be put down. On the day he was scheduled to be put down, I took him on his last walk. I walked him through the forest towards the park by the elementary school, a route that we had taken hundreds of times before. I felt like I could see the pain on his face with every step. Finally, we reached the park where I used to throw the ball for him endlessly. Unfortunately Boomer hadn't been able to run for a while at that point. So as we were walking along the path by the field, Boomer veered away from the path towards a large shady tree at the top of the hill overlooking the field. I followed him thinking that maybe he had just smelled something that needed investigating, but instead he did something he had never done before. He pulled me to the top of the hill and flopped down heavily on the grass. At first I pulled hard on the leash to try and get Boomer to continue down the path, but I soon understood why he decided to sit under that tree. He simply looked at me with his tried brown eyes and then turned his gaze towards the center of the field where a man was throwing a ball for young dalmatian. I can remember that image clear as day; Boomer laying under the tree in a peaceful reminiscence, gazing out over the green field on sunniest day of the year. I sat down in the grass besides Boomer and watched with him, tears streaming down my face all the while. We sat for twenty-five minutes and Boomer never took his eyes off the dalmatian. The whole time we sat, I felt that Boomer was communicating to me, telling me how badly he wished he could be out there, running with the other dog under the sun. Still to this day, I can't get over how much understanding Boomer seemed to demonstrate regarding the whole situation. It was as if he knew that it was his last walk and his last few hours on this earth. I say that that experience was life changing because it lead me to believe that animals truly have the capacity for memories and strong sentimental emotions.

    1. Hi Logan,

      What a touching story! You are totally right in what you say about animals. My dogs were in many ways similar to Boomer....

  5. After watching the vegan video, I agree that we, as humans, do have a choice in what we eat but in reality, not many people with choose the vegan route. In the video, there are very surprising statistics in the amount of resources we use to feed our livestock but I feel that these statistics are exaggerated. If these statistics are true, there should be more awareness about this topic so that others may make an informed decision in the food they eat.
    What I believe is that some people who become vegetarians and vegans lack the knowledge of what nutrition our bodies need. I have heard many people say that they become vegetarians/vegans because it will make them healthier. This is true if done property, but in most cases, people who suddenly switch to a vegan lifestyle will become not healthier but feel sick most of the time. Our bodies require proteins and certain amino acids that can be found abundantly in the meat products that we eat. By eating a single piece of meat, we gain all the necessary amino acids for our body. Vegans, on the other hand, must ensure they get these amino acids from other sources and carefully plan their diet so that their bodies are fully nourished. The reason for why many vegan become sick is due to a lack to these nutrients causing the body to eat at itself.
    With that being said, fruits and vegetables are extremely healthy for the body and contain many vitamins and antioxidants. Instead of completely becoming vegan, try to limit the intake of meat products and load up on more leafy greens during dinnertime.

    1. People who switch to becoming vegan don't necessarily feel sick. I didn't :)
      Of course, you are totally right: anything helps! However, we can easily get all the necessary nutrients - including proteins! - without eating meat. It just takes a bit of adjustment. And you can adjust gradually - by starting with one meal, and then maybe one day per week :)