Friday, January 30, 2009

A useful purpose gives meaning to every life

There's an article in Animal Person, discovered by Bea, who's one of the most passionate advocates out there, about "agricultural speaker, radio personality, columnist" Trent Loos.  He's giving his canned speech, making churches full of farmers chuckle at his folksy anecdotes and breathe fire when he warns them of the dangers of animal rights activists.  He's talking about farm animals and he says something surprising.
Everything lives and everything dies and having a useful purpose gives meaning to every life.
I'm thinking, hold on, sounds pretty progressive for an agricultural speaker/radio host/columnist.  He's acknowledging farm animals are not merely objects to be slaughtered for human consumption but sentient beings who can actually lead lives filled with meaning.  And what gives their lives meaning?  Having a useful purpose.  Sages say the same thing.  I'm starting to wonder why there aren't more agricultural speakers/radio personalities/columnists in the ethics section of the library.  I'm reading on with bated breath.  And what is the farm animals' useful purpose that gives meaning to their lives? .... it's to be slaughtered for human consumption.

If they merely grazed all day, depression would set in.  There's got to be more to life than that.  If only they could somehow serve up pieces of their bodies to human beings, then their lives would have new meaning.  Providing chunks of flesh to be seared on the grill is the steer's version of nirvana.  Getting impregnated on the rape rack, watching her calf get hauled off to the veal auction so she can get pumped full of hormones, put back on the rape rack and artificially inseminated again is the dairy cow's version of the rapture.  Getting her neck sliced open and bled while the last bit of life slowly twitches out of her is the chicken's version of earthly paradise.

Over at Suicide Food, they've spent so much time pondering the mindset of these animals who crave self-slaughter, offering themselves up to human dinner tables and barbecues, some with stoic resignation, others with flat-out glee.  Maybe this agricultural speaker/radio host/columnist has cracked the code.  The animal seeks self-slaughter as a way of finding meaning in his life.  Having a useful purpose is what gives his life that meaning.  And that useful purpose is discovered through the transformative act of becoming the main entree at the human banquet.

I don't mean to quibble with this agricultural speaker/radio personality/columnist, but being consumed can't be the perfectly fulfilling act he thinks it is because, you see, the steer is modest enough to recognize his limitations.  He's not ample enough.  He can only provide enough flesh for a tiny handful of humans and that saddens him because he wants to serve the entire human world.  He wishes he could rise from the dead like the one in the main human religion.  "If I could come back from death to life and be slaughtered again and again then I'd be able to feed even more people and my life would have even more meaning."  Greedy steer.  How dare you desire perfect fulfillment.  A partially fulfilling life should be good enough for you.  You're only an animal, after all, not an agricultural speaker/radio personality/columnist.  More from him:
We allow everyone to talk about better treatment of pigs, chickens, cows.  And what about people?
I know I believe people deserve equal treatment.  During the debate over California's Prop 2, which would give laying hens bigger cages, I advocated for a separate proposition that would replace the window offices of all Tyson executives with cages proportionate to the size of the battery cages they use to confine their laying hens.  I think this agricultural speaker/radio host/columnist deserves a cage every bit as luxurious.  One big enough to fit his microphone and radio equipment so his folksy charm and meaningful existence-through-slaughter philosophical musings can be appreciated by all.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

what the critics of the critics of Temple Grandin are saying

Criticize Temple Grandin for saying "death is not the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal, the most important thing is quality of life" and one of the more common responses is...

"Be real.  These animals are going to die regardless.  Temple Grandin understands that reality and she's doing what she can to improve the lives of these animals before they die.  She's influencing companies like McDonald's for the better."

Temple Grandin's only influence over McDonald's is getting marketing executives and corporate communications executives to exchange high-fives in the main conference room.  McDonald's knows a PR coup when they see one.  They'll gladly put photos of Temple Grandin posing in the stockyards on their website, right next to her breathless statement about how it's the biggest improvement in animal welfare she's seen in her 25 years in the business.

Which isn't to say she doesn't have influence because she does.  She has the same kind of credible figure influence as the scientists bought by Exxon to dispute climate change.  Most people who eat at McDonald's couldn't care less about how animals are treated.  But some do.  Some feel conflicted when they hear about the horrors of factory farms.  But then they see this animal welfare expert reassuring them, hey, everything's cool, McDonald's is doing the right thing, I'm lovin' it and you should too.  She wipes away doubts and eases consciences.

And McDonald's, they're lovin' it too, they really are.  The executive who came up with the idea of getting Temple Grandin to whitewash, I mean consult, that's the kind of stuff reserved parking spaces and corner offices are made of.  No doubt he got a first column mention in Food and Beverage Digest.  Swooning marketing executives in every industry are begging him to connect to them on linkedin.

See, advertising characters have to be made up from scratch.  Someone had to come up with the idea of the Pillsbury Dough Boy giggling when he gets poked in the belly.  The unctuous, smooth-tongued cockney accent of the Geico gecko only came into being after long months of creative struggle.  But McDonald's didn't have to burn any billable hours brainstorming Temple Grandin.  She came with her persona fully formed:  animal welfare expert.  Professor of Animal Science.  Best-selling author.  It's only a matter of time before they come up with a Temple Grandin figurine to go in the Happy Meal.

So I guess the only thing left to say is, please drive through.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Help Wanted ad found in National Hog Farmer Magazine

Immediate opening
*Must be self-starter
*Prior supervisory experience
*Ability to juggle multiple projects
*Must be able to thrust metal spike with force and accuracy
*Must have proven ability to suppress mercy, compassion and empathy
*Minimum of 2-4 years experience as sadist required, with at least one year experience of either psychosocial maladjustment or the pathological need to lash out and inflict pain
*Creative problem solver wth "always say die" attitude
*Must have rotting black soul

Sadly, people misrepresent themselves on their resumes.  The last person who applied for the job claimed to have experience as a sadist, but it was all fabricated.  It turned out he only stood by and watched as his fellow workers slammed piglets to the ground.  Fortunately, we were able to find out the truth before we offered him the position.  Sadism is not something that can be learned in school.  Sure you can pick up some theory.  But we're looking for on-the-job experience.  When a hog decides it would rather live than die and it attempts to wriggle free, the professor of animal husbandry up in his ivory tower won't help.  And, no, leaving your dog out in sub-zero temperatures doesn't count as relevant experience.  That's passive sadism.  We're looking for self-starters, people who inflict pain and suffering without being told.  The ideal candidate is a creative thinker.  He doesn't see the piece of wood on the ground as a discarded fence post.  He sees it as a way of stunning a stubborn hog.  He will possess leadership qualities.  When people start kicking an intransigent hog, he won't merely join in, he'll initiate the violence.  We're looking for a total team player, someone who takes as much pleasure in someone else's stun bolting of a hog as he does his own.

We're especially open to people with experience at the Hormel supplier farm at Bayard, Iowa.  The sadistic behavior of the workers at this farm didn't have to be learned in a company manual.  They figured it out on their own.  That's the kind of self-starter we're looking for.  We are a recognized leader in the slaughter of millions of hogs per month.  We offer an attractive package that includes, medical, dental and a fully staffed PR department to defend your sadistic behavior to an appalled public should an undercover video ever reveal your abuses.  Are you sadistic enough to join our team?  The future is waiting so apply today!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Temple Grandin is stealing Ronald McDonald's thunder

Classic advertising icon Ronald McDonald.  Animal welfare advocate, slaughterhouse designer and McDonald's consultant Temple Grandin.  If it weren't for the wig and face paint, we'd have a hard time telling them apart.  They both both boost McDonald's sales and increase shareholder value.  They both pimp McDonald's whenever a microphone's put in front of their face.
McDonald's should be given credit for bringing about improvements in animal welfare in the entire beef industry ... I have been in this business for more than 25 years, and I have never seen such a transformation.  -- Temple Grandin
In other words, McDonald's.  I'm lovin' it!

Ronald's been getting a little jealous of all the attention Temple Grandin's been getting lately.  He's like the aging star quarterback when a hotshot rookie is drafted.  All his years of loyalty and hard work and now on the responsible purchasing page of the McDonald's website there's a quotation from Temple Grandin praising McDonald's and even a picture of her inspecting cattle.  But there's no picture of Ronald.  Hell, they could have found a photo of him hamming it up with Mayor McCheese, scolding the Hamburglars, something.  The website refers to Temple Grandin as a "prominent animal behavior expert."  Ronald's more than a prominent spokesman.  He's been the face of the company for all these years.  Now he's being put out to pasture.  No, the cattle grazing pun was not a happy accident.  Ronald's mind is still razor sharp.  But they don't think so, those executives in their fancy suits, driving their fancy cars.  Sure, they're all smiles and pats on the back when they see Ronald at one of the commercial film shoots, but behind his back it's Temple Grandin this, Temple Grandin that.  Temple Grandin is getting people to think we care about the animals we slaughter.  Temple Grandin just praised us in her book on animal kindness.  Temple Grandin, Temple Grandin.  It's enough to make Ronald sick.  He thought getting shit-faced last night with Mayor McCheese would get his mind off things, but it didn't help at all.  This morning he woke up with a vicious hangover and Temple Grandin was still out there, going on interviews about her new book, talking about how McDonald's is doing so much for animals.  It won't be long before she works her humane slaughter garbage into one of Ronald's all-time favorite songs.  "Two humanely treated all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."  Ronald can't take it anymore.  He doesn't know what he's going to do but he's going to do something.  In the meantime, there's still a few gulps left in that bottle of whiskey lying on the ground.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Frank Lloyd Wright of slaughterhouses writes book on animal happiness

The New York Times reviewed a book on animal happiness by Professor Temple Gardin, well-known slaughterhouse designer.  It's kind of like having the makers of Smith & Wesson handguns write a book on pacifism.  Some excerpts...
Some people think death is the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal.  The most important thing for an animal is quality of life.
This is a real head-spinner.  She says it's the quality of life that's important.  But death ends life.  There is no quality of life after the slaughter.  There is no life period.  And it's not like there's some Dr. Kevorkian of the animal husbandry world putting animals out of their misery when they've lived out most of their lives and are nearing death.  These animals are slaughtered in their youth.  So if quality of life is the most important thing for animals like she says, then death IS the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal since it terminates life and there can be no quality of life without life.

She says slaughterhouses need "strong, caring" managers.  Strong and caring.  That sounds like the hero of a Danielle Steele novel.

"Stand back, my darling" the heroic slaughterhouse manager said, stun gun held firmly in his thick, corded arms, his strong yet caring voice sending chills down Tessa's spine, "this animal will feel no pain.  But you might want to take a few steps back so you don't get brain tissue on your beautiful green dress, which would spoil our first dance at the ambassador's ball tonight.  Oh, and better plug your ears, my darling, because the stun gun doesn't always work right the first time and the steer will start to scream, disturbing your delicate ears which should only hear my tender words of affection, not the death throes of the cattle."

Temple Gardn's advice for these strong, caring managers?
A captive bolt gun has a steel bolt that is powered by either compressed air or a blank cartridge.  The bolt is driven into the animals' brain ... if a non-penetrating captive bolt is used the animal may revive unless it is bled promptly.
This word "caring" comes up over and over among people who talk about improving "animal welfare."  Words have agreed upon definitions.  These definitions turn otherwise random sounds into pieces of communication.  If you use the word to describe something that's the polar opposite of the agreed upon definition, communication is no longer possible.  Caring slaughterhouse worker.  If Temple Gardin arbitrarily decided to suspend the agreed upon definition of "caring" and replace it with a new one, if caring now means "willingness to drive a metal bolt through the skull and brain of an animal," then I suppose these slaughterhouse workers are caring. 

The article tells us Temple Gardin has consulted, i.e. received money from, McDonald's and Wendy's.  And guess what?  "She has kind words for them."  They sent her home with a wad of cash and a Happy Meal and she spread the word.   People suspect PR agencies of being bought off so they don't believe press releases by companies like McDonald's.  But when an animal rights thinker with genuine cred and books to her name and a publicity photo of herself surrounded by happy animals has kind words to say, that's going to sell a lot of Big Mac's.

Don't bother reading the book.  Wait until the McDonald's tray liner version comes out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The different types of people who consume animal products

Among people who consume animal products you tend to see a continuum:

1)  Those who not only are indifferent to the suffering of animals raised for food but who actively derive pleasre from killing animals themselves.  Hunters say they eat what they kill, but most will usually admit the primary motivation is the thrill of the hunt.

2)  Those who don't slaughter animals themselves but who make no pretense of caring about the suffering and death of these animals.  For these people, the human desire for animal flesh outweighs the animal's desire not to suffer.  Presumably, if these people did not benefit in any way from the suffering and death of the animals, they would reject it.  Dan at Unpopular Vegan Essays has an intriguing analysis of the willingness of people who consider themselves "kind and gentle" to suspend those values when they consider the animals who end up on their dinner plates.

3)  Those who do care about the suffering of non-human animals.  They are aware of this suffering but don't want to be.  They don't want to see it or hear about it.  They actively avoid images or information that make more vivid their purposefully vague conception of what happens to animals raised for food.  Too much awareness would force them to re-consider their behavior and they are unwilling/unable to do that.

4)  Those who are fully aware of the suffering of non-human animals and who renounce it but whose renunciation is not strong enough to get them to give up their own role in perpetuating that suffering.  These people justify their behavior by coming up with gradations of cruelty.  If an animal is raised in what they arbitrarily deem humane conditions, then the suffering and slaughter becomes morally tolerable.  This acceptable level of suffering enables them to rationalize their own consumption of animals by placing themselves in a position of moral superiority relative to other people.  "Unlike those people who disregard the conditions of animals," they tell themselves, "I do care.  I insist on only consuming animals who, prior to the slaughter, lived tolerable lives."  These people, paradoxically, often become proselytizers for animal rights.  They genuinely see themselves as passionate and committed advocates.  The Animal Welfare Institute is one of many examples of people who advocate for a reduction of animal suffering but who refuse to eliminate their own perpetuation of that suffering.  You read their accounts of sumptuous pork dinners at their animal welfare conferences and you think they're making a morbid joke.  But they are completely in earnest.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Animal Welfare Approved spokesman auditions

Burger King has the King.  McDonald's has Ronald and a slew of lesser lights.  Jack-in-the-Box has Jack.  Sure, Animal Welfare Approved has a handsome label, but they deserve a spokesman too.  Like any spokesman selection process, there needs to be auditions.  You don't hand out a coveted role just like that.  First up, Grinning George.

GRINNING GEORGE:  The table is set, the candles lit, the wine poured.  Stories are shared and toasts are made.  Good fellowship fills the air.  And then it happens.  Your conscience spoils the dinner party by reminding you of all the pain and suffering the animal endured before it became the slice of meat on your plate.  My name is Grinning George and I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way.  Now there's a way to appease your conscience without giving up the taste you crave.  All you need to do is make sure your meat is Animal Welfare Approved.  It's just that simple.  With the unique Animal Welfare Approved system of elaborate rationalizations and twisted self-deluding logic, you'll be able to convince your conscience the former animal whose carcass sits on your plate actually had a happy life, nut just before it was slaughtered, but even while it was being slaughtered.  Sound hard to believe?  Think of it as a beer that tastes great AND is less filling.  Or a cereal bar that's good AND good for you.  Animal Welfare Approved meat is good for your taste buds AND your conscience!

Animal Welfare Approved means the animals were raised and slaughtered on family farms, not big, impersonal factory farms.  And that makes all the difference.  The family farmers are kind and gentle.  They give the animals space to run around in, or at least they claim to when the Animal Welfare Approved representative comes out once a year to audit the farm and share a hearty pork dinner.  Animal Welfare Approved works on even the most stubborn conscience.  Your conscience may tell you "humane slaughter" is a morbid contradiction in terms.  But Animal Welfare Approved says to your conscience, no, you're so wrong, the animal was slaughtered with "a philosophy of respect." 

With Animal Welfare Approved labeling, the days of bad conscience and a heavy heart spoiling an otherwise delightful dinner party are a thing of the past.  So make sure to look for the green and blue Animal Welfare Approved label.  Deluding yourself with preposterous rationalizations isn't just for progressives anymore.  It's for everyone who loves the great taste of meat without the nasty nagging conscience. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Animal Welfare Approved label on the outside means grateful meat on the inside

These bags of ground-up flesh may look similar to bags of ground-up flesh from those big, greedy factory farms.  But they couldn't be more different.  See that blue and green label?  That's the Animal Welfare Approved label.  It means back when that ground-up flesh was still a living, breathing animal, it was treated with dignity and compassion.   "Animal Welfare Approved is not just a list of rules.  It's a philosophy of respect." This philosophy of respect might not be immediately apparent when you look at the bags of ground-up flesh sitting on the conveyor belt, but that's what the label is for.  The label tells us that though it may appear we're looking at the result of a painful and terrifying slaughter, we have to see beyond mere appearances.  The former animals whose remains now fill these bags were raised by family farmers who put "each individual animal's comfort and well-being first."  For instance, suppose that first bag contains the ground-up flesh of what was once a living duck.  We need to understand that the duck was permitted to enjoy clean, bountiful water before it was stunned electrically, had its throat cut, was bled then scalded to facilitate removal of its large feathers and dipped in paraffin wax to remove its pin feathers.  Mind you, every step of this process was done with a philosophy of respect or it never would have earned the Animal Welfare Approved label.  So next time you're in the meat section of your local grocery store and you can't seem to tell the difference between meat prepared with care and respect for compassionate eaters and meat brutally slaughtered with avarice and cruelty in factory farms, fit only to be consumed by uncaring gluttons, then look for the Animal Welfare Approved label.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The softer side of Hormel

Last time we saw pictures of Hormel employees with piglets, they weren't cuddling and making cooing noises at them.  It was at a farm in Bayard, Iowa, and the employees were doing things so horrific criminal charges were filed.  But looking through the Hormel Corporate Responsbility Report, seeing photos like this one, it seems things have changed.   It's only a matter of time before there's a new line of Hormel greeting cards celebrating the special bond between Hormel employees and their piglets.  But hold on.  They almost had us but hold on.  The cuddling and the cooing is a nice attempt and we don't want to demean the hard work of a PR department that worked overtime coming up with the concept, but see under normal circumstances people who cuddle and caress and shower affection don't slaughter the supposed object of their affection.  That was the tip-off here.  That's the reason maybe we aren't wiping away moist tears from our eyes as we contemplate the special bond between slaughterer and soon-to-be-slaughtered, putting it up there beside mother/child in the hierarchy of cherished relationships.

We were almost fooled, but we came to our senses in the nick of time.  Now we take take a closer look at the photo and see the Hormel employee's vice grip around the piglet's jaw.  Her mouth frozen in a semi-open position between forced smile and open-mouthed disbelief that she's been roped into this PR stunt.  You can almost hear the raspy whisper hissing through teeth out of the right corner of her mouth:  "tilt your fucking head to the right or I'll snap it off.  Another photo?  Fucking PR department thinks I got nothing better to do?  I said tilt your fucking head to the right.  Maybe you and your pals want a little reencatment of what happened on that Iowa farm."

What happened on that Iowa farm made headlines.

Once Hormel made the shocking discovery that the public was outraged, they were quick to respond.  Everyone in their PR department called home to say they wouldn't make it back in time for dinner that night.  Julie Craven, VP Corporate Communications, responded to the footage in no uncertain terms.
We found the images of the footage from the Iowa farm appalling and they are inconsistent with our standards and industry standards for animal handling.  The abuse on the video shows practices that are completely unacceptable.
My understanding of PR-ese is limited, but I think I can translate:

We found the existence of this footage appalling.  How did they not know they were being filmed?  The images are inconsistent with our standards and industry standards for keeping what what goes on in our suppliers' farms out of the public eye.  In the future, we will be vigilant in demanding that all our suppliers adhere to our standards by doing a better job screening their workers to ensure none of them is carrying a concealed video camera.

The Hormel Corporate Responsibility Report is also mindful of that PR disaster.
This is simply about treating animals humanely because it's the right thing to do ... we take our zero tolerance policy for the inhumane treatment of animals very seriously.

Pork producers are the best ambassadors for animal welfare in the United States.  They set the standard and do everything they can to make sure their animals have the best welfare.
Again, the PR agency department deserves kudos for the attempt.  Distort the truth a little and people will call you on it.  But come up with a lie so audacious, so far removed from reality, and they'll think you couldn't possibly be so brazen as to fabricate something like that so there must be some truth to it.  The Corporate Responsibility Report really showcases the creativity and imagination of the PR department.  Good job, folks.  Keep your heads up and don't let the skepticism of a few people get you down.  It doesn't mean you're bad liars.  You're very skilled liars.  You should take pride in your lying ability.  The photo of the Hormel employee cuddling the piglet, the line about pork producers being at the vanguard of animal welfare, that's good stuff!  It belongs in your portfolio.  It deserves to get honored at the next PR awards show.

But sadly the hard work of the Hormel PR people is all for naught.  Everyone knows the true meaning of the zero tolerance policy is that Hormel will have zero tolerance for undercover videos made of inhumane treatment of animals.  Any supplier who violates the zero tolerance policy by somehow allowing the undercover filming of piglets getting their heads slammed to the floor or metal rods shoved inside them will be immediately replaced by suppliers who know how to keep activists and their cameras the fuck away from their farms.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We dined on a delectable Animal Welfare Approved proscuitto

The Animal Welfare Institute, an organization whose self-proclaimed mission is to "eliminate cruelty," took the good word to the Slow Food Nation gathering in San Francisco.
Market Outreach Coordinator Emily Lancaster ... demonstrated the close quarters endured by the majority of laying hens in the US.
They talked more about preventing the cruel treatment of animals, declarations were made, petitions were signed and then it was time for a well-earned dinner.
The highlight of the day was a fundraising Slow Dinner held at Woodward's Garden on Mission Street.  Restauranteurs Margie Conrad and Dana Tommasino delivered an absolutely perfect evening ... Dana's menu featured Jude Becker's Animal Welfare Approved proscuitto and pork from the Animal Welfare Approved pig farmers at the Niman Ranch.
As we chewed the mouth-watering proscuitto, so lovingly and conscientiously slaughtered by our Animal Welfare Approved pig farmers at Niman Ranch, then prepared by our wonderful, world class chef, Jude, we couldn't help but reflect on how Animal Welfare Approved labeling has improved the lives of so many animals.  I took another bite of that dreamy proscuitto.   As its heavenly taste melted into my mouth, I was positive I could taste the gratitude of that former pig, so happy to be born and raised in an Animal Welfare Approved farm.  You're so very welcome, I replied to that former pig through bites of his delicious tender flesh, so lovingly prepared by Animal Welfare approved chef Jude.
The wine, so generously donated by Beringer, was delightful.
It so beautifully complemented the proscuitto, sliced from the flank of a pig who, if he were still alive, which he surely would be if he weren't so lovingly and considerately slaughtered in his prime of life by Animal Approved pig farmer Will Harris, would attribute the tenderness of his flesh to the loving care bestowed upon him by the Animal Approved pig farmers at Niman Ranch.  This wise and grateful pig understood, as did all the compassionate souls consuming him at the candlelight dinner, that if this proscuitto we were eating came from a pig on a factory farm, it would never have blended so remarkably with our truly delectable wine.  

The feeling of warmth and camaraderie filled the air as we all had a second helping of proscuitto and contemplated the wonderful things we were doing to prevent animal cruelty.  One of the Animal Welfare Approved pig farmers from Niman Ranch proposed a toast.  "To all the money us family farmers are making by having the label Animal Welfare Approved on our pork."  Silly man.  He had one delectable glass of wine too many.  What he meant to toast was the compassion of all those kind souls out there who insist on only eating meat slaughtered by Animal Welfare Approved farmers.

As I put the finishing touches on my truly amazing dinner, I reflected on how it was with a straight face, bereft of sarcasm, self-ridicule or irony, I could utter the phrase, "animal welfare approved proscuitto."  Oops.  No I didn't.  That silly pig farmer from Niman Ranch who had one glass of delectable wine too many got me all muddled.
Thanks to everyone who made this such a spectacular event.
Thanks especially to the pigs, without whose flesh this truly memorable dinner never could have happened.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thank God we were slaughtered by a local farmer instead of one of those big, impersonal corporations!

Only family farms can earn our seal.  Families who own, labor on and earn a meaningful livelihood from their farms have a true commitment and connection to the animals that is lost on factory farms managed by distant, corporate owners and run by hired hands.
This is a very important distinction to the animal.  I mean the last thing they want is an impersonal slaughter by someone they barely know.  Put down that stun bolt gun, you hired hand of a distant corporate owner, get away from me, I don't want to get slaughtered by a stranger, I want a bolt jammed into my brain by that friendly guy in the overalls who pats me on the head every morning.

The meaningful livelihood part the Animal Welfare Institute insists on is important too.  The slaughtered animal would scream in terror at the shackling and approaching blade if it knew the money earned by its carcass would go into the coffers of some corporate behemoth far away.  Now if the carcass money goes to the happy, local farmer, well that's another story.  This happy local farmer can use the money to buy, befriend and slaughter more animals, who will be just as grateful to be slaughtered in the intimate setting of a local farm rather than the impersonal farm of those distant, corporate owners.

The slaughtered animal would be especially re-assured knowing its slaughter earned the Animal Welfare Institute seal of approval, since the Animal Welfare Institute cares so deeply about the welfare of animals.  I give my slaughter my seal of approval too! the grateful animal would exclaim.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The game of SlaughterBull

Looking through the recommended captive bolt stunning techniques for cattle by Dr. Temple Grandin, professor of animal science, designer of livestock handling facilities, expert on animal welfare...
For large bulls and other heavy livestock such as bison, some plants routinely shoot them twice with a captive bolt.  A stunner shot that shoots in the air and does not touch the animal does not count.  If the bolt stunner touches or partially penetrates the animal, it is counted as a missed shot.
Wait, shot that doesn't touch animal doesn't count?  Bolt stunner that touches or partially penetrates animal counts as missed shot?  It sounds like Dr. Grandin is describing a recreational game here.  The game of SlaughterBull.   The auditor or inspector must be her fancy name for ref.  All that's missing is a league commissioner.  What other rules has this Abner Doubleday of animal slaughter drawn up?
To verify that 95% or more are rendered insensible with one shot, the auditor or inspector should check for signs of return to sensibility BEFORE the second shot is done.
A bull's return to sensibility is the equivalent of the 24 second shot clock in basketball.  If the return to sensibility takes place AFTER the second shot, the player immediately loses his turn to his opponent.

What a brilliant idea! Slaughtering bull after bull can quickly become tedious and the workers bored to tears.  SlaughterBull gets their competitive juices flowing, enhancing their on the job experience and improving productivity at the same time!

What are some of the other rules of SlaughterBull?
In plants using a non-penetrating captive bolt, animal welfare should be evaluatd with the American Meat Institute Scoring system .. the plant must be able to stun 95% or more of the cattle correctly with a single shot.  They must be able to attain an acceptable score of 75% of the cattle moved with no electric prod and 3% or less of the cattle vocalizing.  If a head restraint is used, a vocalization score of 5% is acceptable.
The player who scores the highest percentage of vocalization, i.e. expression of physical agony, i.e., death throes, gets an additional ten bonus points.  And, remember, the American Meat Institute Scoring system is used.  We're not going to tolerate a situtation similar to the way the Candian Football league fucked with the NFL rules in our game of SlaughterBull.

Okay, we may as well set down the rules of SlaughterBull.

*Each game consists of two separate players.  The first one to reach fifty points wins.
*At the start of each player's turn, the bull is locked into place with a steel head restraint.  When the player picks up his gun, the clock starts.
*A round consists of each player playing a turn, firing as many shots into the bull's head as possible within a thirty second period.  A player's turn shall continue until that player misses a shot.
*Just like in basketball, two referees shall work every game of SlaughterBull, one to check for shots in the air, the other to examine the bull's cranium to rule on full or partial penetration.  If a shot only partially penetrates the bull's head, it is counted as a missed shot.
*If the referee sees a shot in the air, he will throw his yellow flag and penalize the offending shooter and the opponent is granted a penalty shot.
*Two consecutive shots in the air is grounds for disqualification.
*If the bull does return to sensibility before the second shot is done, player forfeits a point.
*Players are prohibited from distracting opponent during their turn, either by calling out, waving their arms or humorously mimicking vocalizing of dying bull.
*The ref may also penalized players for excessive celebration.
*SlaughterBull shall be played in a round robbin format, with the winners from each pairing playing each other in the next round until there is single grand prize winner.

note:  fans can order undercover videos of the games along with facsimile stun bolts and caps in the colors of their favorite slaughterhouse!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

new year, new hope

I found out a friend made it her new year's resolution to go vegan.
Hundreds of animals who want to live not die just got a reprieve tonight.
Maybe this friend of mine will slip, probably she'll slip, who knows.
All I know is out of the blue someone unforeseen
decided that as much as she loves the taste of meat and cheese,
as difficult as it is for her to separate herself from society's mores and her family's traditions,
she can no longer participate in the mass slaughter
of creatures she's always known are our equals.

Who knows why contrary to all evidence, against everything we see in front of us each day
we still hope a day will come when animals are not slaughtered
just so people can enjoy a tasty meal.
maybe hope is a black mole in the human psyche, a mark of derangement
or maybe...
maybe this impossible thing we all hope for can actually happen
some time way off in the future
or not so way off

This friend said to me, but what will I eat?
And I'm able to direct her to the wealth of blogs out there
that focus their energies on hope in the form of delicious food
like what the hell does a vegan eat anyway, awesome vegan rad, yeah that vegan shit and so many others that transform veganism from an impossible ideal so easily abandoned,
so certain to be abandoned like anything requiring superhuman effort,
into something we can wake up each day looking forward to.

And when she asks what she can do to help tell others, I'm able to direct her to Stephanie's animal rights section of, where right now people are voting on animal rights propositions, like vegan school lunch options for kids, that will be presented to the new administration in mid-january.

some day soon the rest of the world will see, they have to, how can they not.
or maybe it's hopeless, probably it is
the world will never give up killing animals to satisfy its pleasures
but at least today the hope is one person closer.