Saturday, December 18, 2010

HSUS and Hormel: separated at birth?

Was reading Wayne Pacelle’s blog and saw a post on the horrific conditions at a Smithfield Foods supplier farm. He talked about the gestation crates…

Asking that animals merely be able to turn around hardly seems like asking too much, especially for a company that had $144 million in profits in the second quarter. But it’s the right thing to do.

It’s the right thing to do. Those words had a familiar ring. I went back to the Hormel site on humane treatment and there it was.

This is simply about treating animals humanely because it’s the right thing to do.

But that’s a common enough expression. One of the world’s biggest slaughterers couldn’t have any more overlap with the world’s biggest animal advocacy organization. Well, they do cite the same authorities…

Wayne Pacelle: “Dr. Temple Grandin, among the world’s foremost farm handling experts, properly observed that these crates need to be phased out.”

Hormel, on their website, takes great pride in being a Temple Grandin-approved slaughterer (though, in fairness, it’s hard to find any deep-pocketed animal slaughtering company that isn’t TemplGrandin-approved).

Temple Grandin says, “[Hormel] has been a leader in working with university researchers on studies that will improve animal welfare”

Okay, how do Hormel and HSUS react to undercover videos documenting abuse of pigs?

Hormel on the video taken in one of their supplier farms: “We find the images in the video appalling.”

Wayne Pacelle: "It is shocking to see these intelligent curious animals immobilized in the crates with bloodied heads and gaping wounds … endure rough handling with no veterinarian in sight."

No veterinarian in sight. The Hormel PR people are nodding in unison. We couldn’t agree more. We have a head veterinarian. His name is Daryl Olsen. According to the Hormel website, Daryl Olsen loves animals and takes pride in producing top quality hogs. Proper judicious use of antibiotics is going to ensure the consumer a better product in the end, he says.

But can we digress back to Wayne Pacelle talking about the shock of seeing “these intelligent curious animals immobilized.”

As intelligent and curious animals these pigs might wonder how you could film undercover videos and document the horrific abuses and hold press conferences about said horrific abuses but not once in all your many pages of literature offer up the suggestion that people could end the abuse of these animals by not eating them. Here’s your big opportunity, HSUS. Separate yourself from Hormel. If people stopped eating pigs, you’d never see another video like this again.


Wayne? Wayne? There's a blank page on your blog, just waiting for you.

Hey, did you hear the latest on Michael Vick? I put a photo of him on my blog, addressing some school kids on the importance of treating pets with kindness.

Yeah, Michael Vick's having a great season, getting plenty of ink, and if the HSUS can position itself as his moral rehabilitator, it could mean plenty of $$$. But put it somewhere, anywhere, in your blog. Tell people they can stop consuming animal products. It isn’t hard to do. A vegan diet is surprisingly delicious. Far healthier than an animal-based diet. Yeah, we know, Reducing the consumption of meat is in one of your campaigns, part of the Three R’s. But instead of Reduce, why not Eliminate? It doesn’t begin with the letter R and "Two R’s and one E" doesn’t have the same sing-song catchiness as the Three R’s.

Okay, how about an asterik next to Reduce? Then way down at the bottom in mouse type, so none of your donors can see it unless they squint, say, “If you really want to do your part to make sure pigs aren’t treated this way, don’t reduce your consumption of animal products, stop. Just like that. Stop. Go vegan."

To paraphrase you, Wayne Pacelle, asking that you merely offer up the possibility that people stop consuming animals hardly seems like asking too much, especially for an animal advocacy organization that had $97 million in donations last year.

But you won’t do it because of that same R word. Reduced, as in reduced donations. Look, nobody’s asking you to invade your donors’ suburbs with leaflets. Just say the word. Once. Vegan. Or maybe the same way a child is forbidden to say the word “fuck” the Humane Society can never use the word "vegan." Their donors eat meat, they don’t want to offend and that’s that. And, of course, there are only so many hours in the day. Waste time on a post advocating veganism and you might not be able to weigh in on that day’s developments in the ongoing saga of of Michael Vick’s rehabilitation and his worthiness for dog ownership.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

HuffPo readers don’t like having their animal rights credentials challenged

Sarah Palin said on some caribou-killing reality show, “Unless you’ve never worn leather shoes, sat on a leather sofa, or eaten meat, save your condemnation.”

This really pissed off screenwriter/playright Aaron Sorkin. He wrote an angry essay in the Huffington Post. He said, unlike Sarah Palin, he took no pleasure in the slaughter of animals whose flesh he consumed.

Prof Gary Francione wrote a brilliant rebuttal to Aaron Sorkin.

You object to her killing the caribou because it was unnecessary; she did it because she enjoys it. And why do you eat meat and animal products? That’s a rhetorical question. There’s only one answer: because you enjoy it.

The fact that you pay someone else to do the dirty work is morally irrelevant. I teach criminal law. If you pay someone to kill another human, try telling the judge that the killer actually enjoyed the act of killing but that you just paid for it. The judge will tell you that you’re both guilty of murder. You’re both equally culpable.

Of course Prof. Francione’s post didn’t get printed. People with views like his can’t enter through the front door of the Huffington Post. He gets relegated to the comments section. And the HuffPo progressives didn’t like what he had to say. One wrote...

I am grateful for the animals that bring me comfort and sustenance. I go to great lengths to buy from caring, humane farms where the ranchers show genuine concern for their animals. I pay nearly twice as much, in some cases, to avoid buying from farms whose conditions I don’t approve of.

He pays nearly twice as much. He goes to the grass fed, open range meat section in places like Whole Foods, where none of the meat is injected with hormones, but it’s injected with plenty of clean conscience. The clean conscience is well worth paying nearly twice as much for. The progressive can enjoy the juicy meat while at the same time ridiculing people like Sarah Palin for their barbaric treatment of animals. She’s a savage. A neandretahal. Man, this steak tastes great. But now here comes this law professor, this abolitionist, saying the progressive eater of flesh is no better Sarah Palin, and the clean conscience he paid good money for at Whole Foods is spoiled. Spoiled conscience is way worse than spoiled meat. The professive wants his money back.

What about the gratitude he feels for the animals who bring him comfort and sustenance? He’s got a point there. The gratitude of a progressive gives meaning to any farm animal’s death. If his throat is slit merely to feet the belly of some dirty Walmart heathen, forget it, the steer will struggle like crazy to avoid walking town the Temple-Grandin designed cattle chute. But if his death can bring about the gratitude of a progressive, he can’t get to the stun bolt gun fast enough. The commenter continues...

I refuse to be lumped in with people who send trusting companions out to fight and die, or people who dance around a dead moose so people think they’re a maverick.

He can’t tolerate being in the same group portrait as people like Sarah Palin and the factory farmers. In a way he’s right. He can’t be lumped in with her. She at least acknowledges her disregard of the animal’s interest in living.

Next commeneter says to Prof. Francione…

I’m not sure what you mean by serious animal advocacy but I know from my own personal experience that there are a great many serious animal advocates and organizations out there accomplishing wonderful things, one baby step at a time.

One baby step at a time. You hear this one all the time. You heard it constantly during the HSUS campaign for Prop 2. Baby steps. We insist on bigger cages for laying hens because that’s all the industry will give us. Baby steps. People won’t realistically stop eating meat. We can’t stop the animal from being slaughtered, but we can give him a better life before it happens.

They’re taking the longer view. They’re realists. Very hungry realists. And baby steps permit these "serious animal advocates" to fight for an animal's rights at the same time they’re consuming that animal’s flesh. It’s quite a sleight of hand and they manage to pull it off. They campaign for bigger cages with fire in their eyes and animal flesh in their bellies. And they don’t appreciate someone like Prof. Francione pointing out their hyprocrisy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The 2010 class inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame

You think of the people who keep the slaughterhouses running and you imagine them forcing their gaze away, hardening themselves. The ceaseless screams of terror infect their dreams. They beg forgiveness every sleepless night.

Actually, it doesn’t bother them much at all. They think it’s kind of cool. So cool they set up a Meat Industry Hall of Fame to honor the most prolific killers among them. In a black tie ceremony in conjunction with the meat processors outlook convention, they recently had the induction ceremonies for the class of 2010.

There was plenty of misty-eyed camaraderie as the inductees and their presenters looked back on their careers. These aren’t some local yokels who brought down a few deer. This is the A list. We’re talking numbers that will never be approached. Six of them alone can claim credit for the torture and slaughter of over 50 billion farm animals. These six would be would Dave Thomas, Founder of Wendy’s, Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, Colonel Harlan Sanders, Joel Johnson, former president, CEO and Chairman of Hormel Foods and Richard Bond, former CEO and president of Tyson Foods.

(By the way, what are those inductees holding in their group photo? Do the trophies come in the form of miniaturized gulliotines? Maybe they don't want to risk missing out on a kill, even on the day of their induction. That's the kind of attention to detail that got them into the Hall of Fame in the first place.)

Not all the inductees are as famous as the big six. You had H. Kenneth Johnson, former vice president of the National Live Stock and Meat Board who was credited with being “one of the first people to educate the industry about listening to consumers and developing more convenient products to meet their needs.” Just as the baseball Hall of Fame has room for singles hitters next to the sluggers, the Meat Industry Hall of Fame can’t consist only of fast food company CEO’s. It needs its H. Kenneth Johnsons too.

You had Deven Scott, former executive vice president of the North American Meat Processors Association, “who received a spontaneous standing ovation in recognition of a long and influential career spent serving the industry in positions as the NAMP and at the American Meat Institute.” The spontaneous standing ovation couldn’t have come as a surprise. After all, his record seven National Provisioner cover photos is unlikely to be equaled.

Of course, what would a Hall of Fame induction be without controversy? Where were the slaughterhouse workers caught on video beating a downed cow with a metal pole? Granted, they’ve only slaughtered a fraction of the cattle slaughtered by some of the big boys. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. They found creative ways of inflicting pain. Surely there’s a place for people like this in the Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, outside the ceremony there were cries of speciesism, progressive ranchers asking why this Hall of Fame class was limited to people. Plenty of cattle achieved greatness too. They’re the ones shackle hoisted and stun bolted, who offered their bodies to the quartering saw and their seared flesh to so many satisfied meat lovers. They’re the ones who marched proudly down the Temple Grandin-designed cattle chutes, eager to bring glory to Wendy’s and McDonald’s. (Anyone who questions the cattle’s Hall of Fame credentials can find detailed accounts of their prolific self-slaughtering achievements here.) There would be no Wendy’s old fashioned hamburger without the flesh of a steer. Yet, Dave Thomas gets inducted and all the cattle his company slaughtered are mere footnotes. You can’t expect this injustice to be rectified overnight. It’s good to know there are people out there working quietly behind the scenes to put an end to this unfortunate speciesism and bias. The veterans committee would do well to start drawing up a list of worthy cattle for next year’s class.

But enough with the controversy. It’s a time of celebration. According to the awe-struck correspondent from National Provisioner, “the inductees spoke eloquently and at times movingly, about their careers, the milestones they experienced.”

So to all the young dreamers in agricultural schools from Iowa to Kansas, sharpen those blades. Oil up those stun bolt guns. The class of 2011 set records that may never be broken, but soon it will be time for the next generation of killers. It could be your bust that ends up next to the bust of Dave Thomas and Ray Kroc and Deven Scott at the Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

An account of last year’s Hall of Fame class here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Humane Society’s four Rs: reduce, refine, replace and rationalize.

The HSUS promotes eating with conscience and embracing the Three Rs.

The three R’s: Reduce, refine and replace. Three simple actions can reduce the suffering of billions of farm animals on factory farms.

The fourth R: Rationalize. This one simple action can reduce the guilt felt by people who want to advocate for animal rights without giving up the taste of their flesh.

Morality is like the cage of a laying hen. Just as we in the HSUS fight for bigger cages, we also advocate expanding the definition of animal welfare. The bigger cages permit the laying hens to turn around freely and fully extend their limbs. Our new expanded definition of animal welfare gives us plenty of room to consume animal flesh and still pass ourselves off as advocates of the animals we eat.

We can sign petitions in support of bigger cages for farm animals with one hand while holding a chicken sandwich with the other. Hypocrisy? Insanity? Not if you embrace the fourth R.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The meeting of Michael Pollan and Steer 534

Michael Pollan decided to raise his own steer and bring it to slaughter so he could observe the entire process. He refers to the steer as 534. It’s hard to read the “Fresh Air” transcript of Michael Pollan telling Terry Gross about his acquisition of Steer 534 without thinking of those eharmony TV ads.
Michael Pollan: Well, I didn’t know the first thing about picking animals … So I asked the ranchers, you know, How do you find a good one?
Steer 534: Most of the cattle around here grow up assuming they’ll get picked by a buyer from McDonald’s, places like that. I always held out for something better. I wanted someone who cared about me before he slaughtered me.
Michael Pollan: And the ranchers said, when you’re buying beef flesh, you’re looking for a straight back, really even line without any kind of sway, and wide hips, or hindquarters, as they call them, and broad shoulders. And basically you’re looking for a really strong, level and plump frame on which to hang a lot of meat.
Steer 534: When I saw Michael walk into the field with the rancher, I held my breath. I mean, Michael Pollan. The author who wrote so eloquently about letting us romp around in the fields before it’s time for the slaughterhouse. Some cattle want ranchers that treat them bad before they slit their necks. It’s a self-esteem issue.
Michael Pollan: So I spotted this one … a nice stout animal. But he also had these three white blazes on his face. It was very distinctive … so that’s the one I picked.
Steer 534: Michael was stooped over, shaved head. Kind of an effete intellecutual looking guy. Not the hard muscled farm people I’m used to at all. He had this way about him. He wouldn’t look you directly in the eye. Like he felt guilty or something. It was so endearing. I mean he was after the same thing as all the others, but you know...
Michael Pollan: 534 was born on the Blair brothers’ ranch, which is a beautiful spread of 11,000 acres outside Sturgis, South Dakota.
Steer 534: just a small steer from South Dakota. Never in my wildest dreams did I think … I mean, come on, he’s Michael Pollan.
Michael Pollan: And as soon as he could stand up and begin nursing from his mother … he’s number 534, she’s number 9534 … they send him out to pastures … you know, incredible salad bar of gorgeous native grass that kind of form a pelt in this ranch. It’s an idyllic setting. And, you know, these are the best months of his life, I dare say.
Steer 534: Best month of my life? That would be November. The first week. I’ll never forget it.
Michael Pollan: I met 534 the first week of November and chose him so he was already living the confined life…
Steer 534: I mean you don’t want to be killed by just anyone. It’s a once in a lifetime event, so you want to find the right person. Most of my friends end up in a can of Dinty Moore stew or maybe a quarter pounder with cheese. I’m like, no thank you, I’m holding out for someone who eats me with consciousness, ceremony and respect.
Michael Pollan: And, you know, my big question, as I look ahead to what’s going to happen to number 534 is, will he know when he’s traveling up that ramp at the National Beef plant … this is his destiny right now in June … will he know what’s about to happen to him?
Steer 534: Michael is so considerate. How many people are compassionate enough to care what we’re thinking when we’re about to be slaughtered?
Michael Pollan: And I asked Temple Grandin this. And she is the best student of the animal point of view I think we have. And she said she very carefully observed animals going through the chutes … that take them to their death. And she detected no difference in their reaction. And she claims there would be a whole lot more agitation on the part of the animal if they were getting any kind of inkling what lay ahead down the end of this ramp.
Steer 534: can you believe it? He cared enough about me to actually ask Temple Grandin. I mean she’s a busy woman, what with her consulting gig at McDonald’s and her slaughterhouse designing and all .. yet Michael thought enough about me to ask her if we know we’re about to die. It was so incredibly thoughtful of him. I didn't have the heart to tell him of course we know we're about to die. His sense of self-righteousness is so adorable. I didn't want to change it in any way.
Michael Pollan: The slaughterhouse has promised me a box of steaks from 534, and I feel obliged to eat them.
Steer 534: That’s the kind of guy my Michael is. I know how much he prefers grass-fed beef and other forms of beef that are better for him and more defensible from an environmental perspective. But he’s going to accept the box of steaks carved from my carcass after I’m slaughtered because of his affection for me. I count my blessings every day that with a world of cattle out there, a guy who could have the steer of his choice picked little old me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The beef industry is out to get MIchael Pollan.

There’s a Mother Jones article entitled Big Meat vs. Michael Pollan. And in interviews, Michael Pollan claims the beef industry is out to get him…

Michael Pollan rubs his hand over the hot motor oil sweat of his forehead. His eyes go to the chandelier. Shit, he didn’t check that yet. Maybe the meat industry thugs hid their listening devices in there. He grabs a screwdriver, loosens the plate from the ceiling. Removes the outer shell and shines his maglite into the socket cap. There. Could be light bulb filament, but you never know with the meat industry and their high-tech listening devices. He removes it and washes it down the disposal. Imagining the meat industry ops in their truck, sound of the garbage disposal exploding their ears, Michael Pollan laughs out loud, harsh laughter like his voice is scraping over metal. But then he sees a shadowy form moving outside the window. He peels back the curtain. It’s a guy from Time Warner Cable. Shit. Michael Pollan doesn’t have cable. It must be one of the meat industry ops in disguise. Michael Pollan falls to the ground so the op can’t detect him with his body heat detector. How can he convince the meat industry to leave him alone? Maybe he could go the dairy council, cut a deal. He doesn’t talk as much about dairy in his books. But, shit, who’s he kidding? They have it out for him too. Who can he trust? Joel Salatin, the friendly farmer from Polyface farm. He takes out the pre-paid cellphone he bought earlier in the day and dials.

“Joel, it’s Michael.”

“Michael, speak up, I’m butchering one of the sheep and I can’t hear you over her bleating.”

"Which sheep?"


"I remember feeding her on your farm. She’d bounce around and rub her nuzzle against me. She was adorable."

"Still is. Will be for a couple more seconds, too."

“That's why the beef industry’s after me. They read my books talking about all the happy animals on farms like yours and they think I’m against slaughtering cattle.”

“I’ll vouch for you. Hell, when you were at my farm we slaughtered cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits, turkeys, sheep…"

"It’s not good enough for them. I criticize factory farms in my books.”

"You’re only doing it to make a buck. The beef people ought to be okay with that. Don’t understand how they can be after you. You’ve done more to ease peoples’ consciences and get them feeling good about eating animal flesh than just about anyone."

"Thanks, Joel, I appreciate the support. Shhh, there’s a clicking sound on the line!

"That clicking ain't on the line, Michael, I’m re-loading my stun bolt gun."

"The line’s tapped! It's the beef council. They're on to us!"

Michael Pollan slams down the phone. He slips out the back door. he turns into a dark alley and runs.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Michael Pollan eats animals with consciousness, ceremony and respect.

An Animal’s Place is a long article that starts with Michael Pollan recounting his first opening “Animal Liberation” while eating “a rib-eyed steak cooked medium rare,” delighting in the details of his steak as a way of reassuring his meat-eating, book-buying readers, “if in parts of this article I should appear to question the ethics of consuming animal products, don’t worry, it’s a long article, you can rest assured I’ll circle back and justify meat eating in the end.”

The arguments against killing animals for human pleasure seem to have caught Michael Pollan by surprise. He spends the first hundred paragraphs of the article being astounded by simple ideas. “Okay the suffering of animals is a legitimate problem,” he says, “but the world is full of problems and surely human problems must come first. But, hold on, “there’s no reason I can’t devote myself to solving humankind’s problems while being a vegetarian…”

Eventually, he gets to the horrors of the factory farms. He punctuates the harsh description with a sheepish apology. “Simply reciting these facts … makes me sound like one of those animal people, doesn’t it? I don’t mean to … it certainly wasn’t my intention to ruin anyone’s breakfast.”

And if you read further, I’ll redeem myself, proving I’m not one of those animal people by giving you a feel-good way of eating meat and feeling morally upright at the same time, which can best be summarized thusly: Animals may have an interest in not being killed, I’ll admit that, but damn their flesh tastes mighty fine so I’m going to find me a rationalization. I’ll first convince myself consumption of meat is a biological invetiability I’m helpless to resist. But I won’t stop there. Because I want to feel more than helpless. I want to feel a sense of moral purity when I chew the flesh of animals so I’ll pay a visit to a family farm overflowing with animal happiness.

"Before you swear off meat entirely, let me describe a very different kind of animal farm," he says, and he takes us to Polyface Farm. “Here, Joel Salatin and his family raise six different food animals … in an intricate dance of symbiosis designed to allow each species, in Salatin’s words, 'to fully express it’s physiological distinctiveness.'” At least for the few months it has remaining before Joel Salatin expresses his species’ psychological distinctiveness and kills the animals for money.

And dance of symbiosis? Are those randomly splattered words supposed to mean something or has Polyface Farm put Michael Pollan in some kind of ecstatic trance? He writes of “hens fanning out over the pasture .. a diet of grubs and grass makes for exceptionally tasty eggs and contented chickens … meanwhile the pigs are in the barn turning the compost.” When Michael Pollan starts rhapsodizing like this, you know he’s about ready to pick up his knife and fork and dig into another a rationalization.

"This is where, it seems to me, animal rightists betray a profound ignorance of the workings of nature. To say of one of Joel Salatin’s caged chickens that the life of freedom is to be preferred betrays an ignorance about chicken’s preferences.”

Life of freedom? Nobody’s saying Joel Salatin’s chickens want to thumb it across the country like Jack Kerouac. They want freedom to live out their lives without having their necks slit. But Michael Polllan is hell bent on ridiculing the his straw dog animal rightists.

"To many animal rightists, even Polyface Farm is a death camp. But to look at these animals is to see that as the sentimental conceit it is."

And why is it a sentimental conceit? Because these animals are happy.

"Chickens live like chickens, his cows like cows; pigs, pigs ... animal happiness is unmistakable. and here I was seeing it in abundance."

Nothing would make these animals happier than to wind up in the belly of a best-selling author. Nothing would make the best-selling author happier, either. Great tasting sausage with the happy awareness – yes, he too is happy; everyone’s happy on Polyface farm – that he’s not like those unrefined rubes who eat their slaughterhouse meat. Michael Pollack had pangs of conscience and he did something about it. He went through agonizing self-reflection and then Joel Salatin and Polyface farm showed him the light. You can have it all. Soft, chewy flesh and a country-fresh rationalization to boot. These animals have it good. “a mutualism between species,” Michael Pollan says. They couldn’t subsist in the wild. They’re grateful for the life farms like Polyface give them. They’d hoist the blade themselves if they only had hands.

But they don’t have to because Joel Salatin does it for them. Joel is a religious man who understands “people have a soul; animals don’t. It’s a bedrock belief of mine. Unlike us, animals are not created in God’s image, so when they die, they just die.” Joel’s bedrock belief just happens to coincide with the source of his income. Funny how that works.

Michael Pollan still can't over how good these animals have it, pre-slaughter.

"For any animal, happiness seems to consist in the opportunity to express its creaturely character -- it’s essential pigness or wolfness or chickenness."

And here Michael Pollan expresses his essential Michael Pollanness.

"Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent … maybe when we did eat animals, we’d eat them with the consciousness, ceremony and respect they deserve."

Well when he puts it that way. What animal wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to have its neck slit for the opportunity to be eaten by Michael Pollan with consciousness, ceremony and respect?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Give it up for PETA Proggy Award-winning slaughterhouse designer, Temple Grandin.

PETA gives out its annual Proggy Award to people and companies for “innovative, animal-friendly achievements.” Looking over past recipients, I saw an unexpected name. 2004, in the visionary category, Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin? The famed designer of more efficient slaughterhouses? Surely there had to be another Temple Grandin out there, a visionary who fought to challenge laws defining animals as property, or maybe someone who documented abuses in some of her namesake's slaughterhouses.

I went to the slaughterhouse designer’s website and there it was in the bio, not far from the picture of one of her slaughterhouses. “Winner of PETA’s 2004 Proggy Award.” That made 2004 a big year for Temple Grandin on the awards front because I believe the Beef Council awarded her the 2004 Stun Bolty award for the same innovations. And the pork council presented her with its 2004 honorary pig scalder. Or was that the 2005 honorary pig scalder? It’s hard to keep the dates straight.

So what does the award winner have to say about her work with animals. No, “Ever since I was a little girl playing with my puppy I knew I had to help animals” for Temple Grandin.

Quiet handling of cattle and pigs is impossible if animals slip or fall during handling. Animals tend to panic if they slip even a little bit. If cattle are constantly agitated while standing in a race, stun box or restraining chute, this is often due to slipping. On ramps and in restraining chutes the cleats must be spaced to fit the stride width of the animal. This prevents the hoof from slipping between the cleats … you can download blueprints of cattle pen layouts that will reduce stress on cattle and improve handling efficiency.

There you have it. You want to be a PETA-honored animals rights advocate, don’t waste your time leafleting. Learn how to design curved-chute handling systems and non-slip flooring. It’s not only PETA that raves about the Temple Grandin slaughterhouses. Carghill is another big fan of her animal-friendly achievements. She has been instrumental in helping us enhance our animal handling systems and programs at our beef and pork facilities," a Carghill executive said.

Wonder who next year’s Proggy award winner might be. Maybe a hunter who by slaughtering vast numbers of animals prevented them from breeding, thereby protecting the offspring they would have had from suffering a slow, painful death inflicted by future generations of hunters.

Or the lab worker whose cruel practice of flooding rabbits’ eyes with toxins raises awareness of the cruel practice of flooding rabbits’ eyes with toxins. The citation might read, "congratulations. If you didn’t pour toxins into the eyes of rabbits, nobody would know people did such a terrible thing. By raising our awareness, you give us the opportunity to protest against this horrific act. For your courageous consciousness raising, PETA hereby presents you with the coveted Proggy Award."

More on Temple Grandin here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The evolution of man.

“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”

-- Da Vinci

500 years after Da Vicini...

Well, at least he got the Mona Lisa right.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stop Cruelty now. Support Prop 2: two years later

I was biking on San Vicente in Santa Monica and I saw a Jeep with a “Stop Cruelty Now. Support Prop 2” bumper sticker. Prop 2, of course, was on the California ballot two years ago. Official title: Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. It “prohibits the confining of certain farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.” Because getting your neck slit or having a stun bolt driven through your brain without first having the opportunity to extend your limbs and turn around freely is utter savagery.

Bill passed. Cruelty stopped. The farm animals who keep ending up on dinner menus across California might dispute that last part, but that’s raining on the parade, man. It passed. 63% of the vote. The progressive voters of Californaia did it. The egg and meat industries tried to fight but the compassion of the people prevailed. The chicken cordon bleu tasted more tender than ever election night 2008 as California progressives gathered to savor the victory. The vibe was so good it’s no wonder dude in the Jeep parked on San Vicente doesn’t want to let go. Keep the “Stop cruelty now. Vote prop 2” bumper sticker pasted on his bumper and maybe he’ll convince others out there to stop cruelty. Maybe a hot babe totally into social conscience and all that will see it and…

I go to the Santa Monica open market twice a week. I’ve signed petitions. I’ve brushed my hemp shopping bag against the hemp bags of California progressives. I’ve asked them about Prop 2. I said I thought the first step in “ending cruelty now” was to stop consuming animal products. The progressives told me where I erred. My first mistake was I took the word “now” far too literally. Now was a rallying cry. It’s symbolic. The fight against animal cruelty won’t be won overnight. Didn't I understand how much power the meat industry has? We've got to take baby steps. Prop 2 is a step in the right direction.

“It’s true,” I said, “you can’t eliminate the meat producers, but you, you personally, you could reduce demand for their products by one person if you stopped consuming animal products this very minute. Then you really would be stopping cruelty now.”

It was pretty uncool of me to call the progressives out like that. Like I was implying they weren’t part of the struggle for animal rights just because they eat meat. Like the fact that they enjoy a good juicy burger now and then somehow disqualifies them from caring about the well-being of the steer that provided the flesh for that burger. I’m such an asshole. I’ll be the first to admit it. Okay, I do my best to understand. The progressives want to stop cruelty now. They give the progressive version of the high-five when a small group of farm animals is given a few extra feet of cage space, effective 2015 (it takes that long to re-design cages, apparently). So why won’t these progressives stop consuming animal products? I’ll summarize, clarify, exaggerate, their most common reasons:

Sure, we could give up eating meat, but the thing about that is, I mean the last thing we as animal rights advocates want to project is a holier than thou image. If I went ahead and stopped eating animal flesh before the rest of the world was ready for it, I’d be like saying I’m better than you. That turns people off so fast. They’ll never hear our message.

Well, when I say stop cruelty now, I don’t mean now as is in this very minute. I was thinking more like, let’s see, I’m twenty seven now, say I live to be eighty, I’d say ninety but all this animal flesh I eat’s bound to be taking some years off, so, anyway, when I say stop cruelty now, I mean stop it in fifty three years, when I die, and I won't have to give up the taste i love.

Have you ever been to the restaurants on Montana? You’re like eliminating every option on the menu.