Thursday, July 5, 2012

Animal Welfare-Approved July 4th recipes

“The Animal Welfare-Approved standards are the most rigorous and progressive animal welfare requirements in the nation … that benefit farmers, consumers and animals alike.”

 The farmers get to charge a premium. The consumers get to tell themselves they’re concerned about animal suffering without giving up the taste of their flesh. And the animals? They get their skulls shattered and throats slit, which at first glance doesn’t seem like much of a benefit, but maybe that’s just ungrateful quibbling, especially when Animal-welfare approved got into the spirit of the holidays by offering us Fourth of July recipes in their blog.

Five recipes from an organization that exists to reduce animal suffering. Must be plenty of delicious meals that don’t require slaughtering them and carving up their carcass. Let’s see…Gourmet mushroom onion burger. Sausage Dip. Crab and goat cheese pizza. Roast chicken.

Maybe that's how they protect the welfare of the animals – by offering different recipes requiring the flesh of a different species. They protect the welfare of cattle by offering a sausage recipe, which reduces the number of cattle slaughtered by increasing the number of pigs slaughtered. They protect the welfare of pigs by offering the roast chicken recipe which reduces the number of pigs slaughtered by increasing the number of chicken slaughtered.  And so on.

But these recipes do seem kind of incomplete. As protectors of animal welfare, they shouldn’t leave out so many steps.  Let’s put back what they left out.

Directions for Animal Welfare-Approved, Reduced-Suffering gourmet mushroom onion burgers


One living, breathing steer.
One stun bolt.
One friendly animal-welfare approved farmer.
One animal welfare-approved stun bolt.


*Place steer in holding pen (pat on head and coo at him to ease his terror)
*Shatter his skull with bolt from stun bolt gun (kindly, now, kindly)
*Hang cattle upside down (very gently) and place on processing line.
*Sever carotid artery with knife. (Be sure to slice with heartfelt compassion)
*Remove hide with down puller (Again, be gentle, he might still be clinging to life)
*Chill carcass then cut into pieces
*Combine all ingredients and form into patties
*Pour glasses of cab for everyone and toast your compassion as you enjoy your animal-welfare approved, reduced-suffering Gourmet mushroom onion burgers.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The slavery analogy

My friend sent me a Mark Bitman article in the NYT about semi-veganism. He asked what I thought even though he already knew. There’s no such thing as semi-veganism or a part-time vegan.

You going to use the slavery analogy again? he asked.

People don’t like the slavery analogy. It offends them. The Atlantic Monthly bans commenters for using it. Maybe it’s because people don’t want what they consider a second or third-tier sin likened to the greatest sin in America’s history. But that’s not why my friend doesn’t like the analogy. He doesn’t like it because it divides people into two groups – those who support the enslavement and slaughter of non-human animals and those who renounce it. My friend wants there to be a group somewhere in the middle, where you can sympathize with the plight of animals and do what you can to reduce their suffering but still eat them from time to time.

The slavery analogy works so well because it’s so stark. If a slaveholder claims to oppose slavery, he must free his slaves. If he adds a few links of chain to the shackles so the slave has more room to roam, he does not oppose slavery. If he vows to whip his slaves less frequently, he does not oppose slavery. People who talk about part-time veganism, bigger cages, free range, grass fed, Michael Pollan, humane slaughter, etc etc etc want to oppose slavery without freeing their slaves. And that’s simply not possible.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Big Ag wants a piece of the grass fed action and Animal Welfare Approved isn’t happy about it.

We’ve seen it a million times in movies. A new dealer moves into an established dealer’s territory and the war is on.

Animal Welfare Approved owns a sweet chunk of the grass fed market. Users are willing to pay good money for the illusion the animals they eat didn’t suffer, and the Animal Welfare Approved label is the highest quality shit, the Kona Gold of humane certification labels.

Animal Welfare Approved does have rival dealers like Certified Humane, but they’ve carved out different territories and learned to co-exist. But now someone else wants a piece of the action. Big Ag.
As the public interest in ethically produced (sic) food continues to flourish … it is perhaps inevitable that food businesses jump on the grassfed bandwagon.
This isn’t some rogue animal welfare advocate. The food industry has big money behind it. Doesn’t mean animal welfare approved is just going to roll over. Drug dealers protect their teritory with guns. Animal Welfare Approved opts for an 18-page Grass fed primer.
While the range of products, labels and brands that make the grassfed claim grows by the day, the sad reality is … some of the so-called grassfed systems out there actually fall well short of our expectations.
In other words, this is our fucking territory, motherfuckers. You come here start pedaling your grass fed shit there’s going to be a fucking war, man. 

Don’t know how this war is going to play out, but it won’t be pretty.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More gift ideas: Old MacDonald had a before-and-after farm.

The sunshine. The green grass. The happy mooing, bleating, clucking animals. The happy farmer and the happy farmer's wife. The stun bolt gun. The dip scalding machine. The skin peeler. The slab conveyor. It's all here in the Old MacDonald had a before-and-after farm animal figurine set.

*Cow, goat, chicken & lamb figurines in carcass and pre-carcass form
*Additional figurines available for purchase:
     Family farmer who names then slaughters animals
     Whole Foods buyer
     Compassionate carnivore picnickers and accessories
*Certified Humane labels not included

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More gift ideas: Michael Pollan hypocrisy-isolating headphones

State-of-the-art headphones designed exclusively for listening to Michael Pollan audio books. Two separate channels for crystal clear playback of Michael Pollan talking out of both sides of his mouth. One channel plays his profound sympathy for the plight of farm animals, the other channel his drooling accounts of watching animals get slaughtered.

Channel one:
The lives of billions of animals on American feedlots and factory farms are horrible to contemplate, an affront to our image of ourselves as humane.
Channel two:
Mike and I drove to the ranch to choose our animal and watch the itinerant butcher slaughter and dress it … Mike cuts a few slivers from the loin and passes them around; a ceremonial tasting of the uncooked animal is, he explains, a butcher’s privilege.
Channel one: 
Broiler chickens spend their lives in cages too small to ever stretch a wing. Every natural instinct is thwarted, leading to a range of behavioral vices that include canablizing her cage mates and rubbing her body against the mesh until it is featherless and bleeding.

Channel two: 
Melissa … has a sure hand with the hacksaw and the butcher knife; within 20 minutes the goat is transformed into considerably more appetizing cuts of meat:  the baron, or hindquarters, and the saddle … two racks of ribs (for tomorrow’s lunch); the shoulders (destined for an overnight braise) and the scraps…
Contradiction-canceling technology reduces ambient hypocrisy by 87.4%
Comes in heifer black and white

Friday, December 16, 2011

What to get the person who’s killed everything?

Who’s there?
It’s Tom from the slaughterhouse.
Come on in, Tom, and don’t forget to wipe your boots on our new Meritech Welcome Mat.

The Meritech Hog Killer's Welcome Mat

Here’s a gift idea for that special pig slaughterer in your life.  The folks at Hormel and Smithfield slaughter thousands per hour without the slightest twinge of remorse, but that doesn’t mean they want entrail stains on their brand new carpet.

Conventional welcome mats clean grass blades and clumps of dirt. They don’t stand a chance against boots caked with pig innards.  But the Meritech Welcome Mat is manufactured using 12 guage 304 stainless steel, so it cleans the soles, sides and tops of your guests' boots.

Those stubborn, wriggling pigs don't want to die right away and that can really dirty up a nice pair of boots. Fortunately, the Meritech welcome mat utilizes a series of horizontal brushes to effectively clean and sanitize so chunks of ground-in flesh on your wooden floor is a thing of the past.

If you’ve got pig slaughterers on your holiday guest list, make sure to replace your old welcome mat with the new Meritech Welcome Mat. Janice K of Bayard, Iowa did.

“It’s been one party after another.  Friends from Smithfield, Hormel, Jimmy Dean. Our living room was starting to resemble a slaughterhouse. That’s when we decided to get rid of our old straw welcome mat and replace it with one from Meritech. Now our guests don’t leave trails of offal to the kitchen and I couldn’t be happier.”

                                                               -- Janice K, Bayard, Iowa

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


A feral cat lived across the alley from my apartment. I called her Swirls because the golden part of her fur curled into patterns like the inside of a shell. She'd sun herself on the roof and watch a world that hadn't done her any favors.
I flattered myself that just as I knew Swirls’ routines, she knew mine. When the sun lights up my roof, he comes out to his balcony with his coffee, she’d think.
At five she'd cross the alley to the apartment of the person who fed her. At ten past five, she'd re-cross the alley to curl up alone in the dark.
Alone -- but that’s me projecting one of my human frailties on her.
Solitude was no enemy to Swirls.
She had another enemy, though she had no way of knowing.
Apparently her transgressions became too much for someone in the apartment building.
What were these transgressions?
Her food attracted raccoons. 
She left paw prints on cars in the carport.
Freshly washed cars.
And for that, someone decided to poison Swirls’ food.
Her death was slow, I’m told.
The person who feeds her found her in the alley.
She lasted the car ride to the vet’s.
Nothing will happen, of course.
Pets are property. Which makes Swirls something less than property.
She was born in the alley, the only survivor of a litter.
She dodged the cars, outsmarted the coyotes.
We feared the coyotes would get her eventually.
But they were merely predators.
The driver who didn’t want smudges on his car, the building manager who wanted to please his tenant, Swirls never had a chance against that.