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The 47 Percent Filmmaker likes people and animals

I noticed when reading about Scott Prouty, the ’47 Percent’ Filmmaker who helped bring down Romney, that he’s not only a friend to working people – he’s a friend to animals. The article reports that he “spent his free time volunteering with his girlfriend at a South Florida SPCA, where he gave a HuffPost reporter a tour of the horse rescue operation” and offers this link to donate. He also once saved a drowning woman from a canal full of alligators – incidentally saving the alligators, who were going to be shot if other rescue folks had got their gun in time. Proving, once again, that having a love for animals doesn’t mean you can’t be a humanitarian too!

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Animals are all made of meat: Now what?

Animals are all made of meat: Now what?

I read Lindy West’s F*ck Yes, I’ll Eat Some Horse Meat. Give It to Me. I Love It. on Jezebel with amusement and… shock? I’m not used to seeing things like this in mainstream media. It’s just so conscious, calling humans on our speciesism so clearly and bluntly and irreverently: Humans know that all animals are made of meat, she writes. (She doesn’t touch on the fact that humans are also animals, and also made of meat, but okay.) So if we eat cows, what business do we have being all upset when we accidentally eat a horse? Good point.

Back when I was 17 I went to Japan on a scholarship and resolved I would try to be really open, and would try any food that came my way. I was an enthusiastic omnivore then, comfortable with myself as an animal that had evolved to eat other animals (I, um, hadn’t read enough yet), and I was ready for anything. I ate a lot of flesh from members of species I never eaten before: octopi, eels, lots of unfamiliar fishes. No turtles. I had a ban on turtles and rabbits because I had had them as pets.

I had met a horse many times, a horse who was deeply loved by someone in my family, but I hadn’t ever gotten really close with horses. So on this trip, I ate horse. Raw, actually — there was a big plate of horse sushi at the reception the Japanese government folks held for us exchange students. I didn’t want to be rude, and I kind of wanted to show off how brave and culturally open I was, to defy some stereotypes about Americans. So I ate some. It tasted a lot like all the other sushi: Soft and chewy and kind of slimy. It was fine, but I didn’t enjoy it. And now, years later, when I’ve come to the realization that horses and cows and humans are all the same, I regret that I made the choice I did then. I have to live with that regret for the rest of my life. I wish that I had seen it then: If animals are all made of meat, what do we do? Eat all of them indiscriminately? (Why not humans then?) Or stop eating all of them, because we’ve realized that all the other meat is just as autonomous as we are?

For more on humanity’s apparently willful ignorance about our food choices, watch this clip from Real Time With Bill Maher, Episode 273 (wherein he says a number of insensitive things as he is wont to do, sorry):

It’s perhaps worth noting that despite his apparent grasp of the consent issues relating to animal exploitation, Bill Maher isn’t vegan.

I’m curious if human beings will always try to hold onto the idea that we’re somehow so special we should be allowed to treat every member of every other species on this planet like they’re property.

A human and a wombat, hanging out

A human and a wombat, hanging out

From ajakwerth on YouTube:

Douglas is an orphaned Wombat who was taken care of at a school camp (where we have been WWOOFing) near Tallangatta in Victoria, Australia. This video is 3 years old so he was just a little baby there! He was meant to be released into the wild someday but since it’s been a long while ago I lost touch with the family who runs the camp…

A love story between a dog and a town

Huffington Post writes about Bear Dog, a canine resident of Castle Rock, Washington:

One black Lab mix is so popular that he has become the exception to his town’s “no pets allowed” rule… According to the Longview Daily News, locals love him so much that he’s been written into posted signs barring animals… The town will likely erect a monument when Bear Dog passes away, Mayor Paul Helenberg told the paper.

Loving sloths

If you haven’t heard, Kristen Bell likes sloths, and her husband, Dax Shepard, got one brought to their house for her birthday. Here they are telling the story in a cute segment from NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! (with a transcript if you prefer that over audio). And here’s the video they talk about in the segment — personally, I think it’s pretty adorable to see someone so excited to meet a sloth that they break down.

This story is so great on one level — I love that Ms Bell loves sloths so much. I love that her husband is so thoughtful to set this up for her because he knew it would mean so much to her, and that he’s so supportive and sweet about her emotional reaction. I love that when they got the sloth in their house that they were responsible about it, adjusting their homeowners insurance and bringing in a professional handler and a little play structure for the sloth — it looks like she mostly just played around while Kristen gazed at her adoringly. I also feel like it’s really great that humans are starting to love animals so much that this is a part of our popular culture.

On another level, and I hate to be a downer, but animals shouldn’t be treated like actors, or party entertainers, because they’re not able to consent to the situation, and are deprived of their autonomy. I guess I could imagine a situation where an animal is somehow orphaned and rescued, and for whatever reason can’t be rehabilitated to live freely in a safe, natural habitat, so they could maybe be a mascot for their species to help educate people about how awesome they are (some wolves come to mind, but don’t quote me on that). But why wouldn’t an animal in that situation be given safe haven at some sanctuary? For every two-toed sloth (or pony!) who has a lovely afternoon at an adoring fan’s birthday party, there are a whole lot of other animals who probably have a really crappy day sitting in a cage or being forced to do the same uncomfortable movie shot over and over and over. (This is why I’m such a fan of Andy Serkis.)

No judgements here for Kristen and Dax — they obviously have their hearts in the right place. But if we really love animals, how should we treat them, ideally? Is it appropriate for our love to be objectifying, focused on our own needs and desires? Or should love come with respect for others’ autonomy?

Masculinity in the kitchen

In Do We Have The Courage To Raise Our Sons More Like Our Daughters?, Lynn Beisner tells a story about how changing gender norms have allowed her to continue a treasured family tradition of passing on a beloved (presumably non-vegan, but that’s not the point here!) toffee recipe — because her son was ready to take up the torch when her daughter wasn’t. She writes,

I love how my son is challenging all of the gender assumptions I didn’t even know I still had. I love that somehow, against all odds, I managed to raise a guy who cannot have his masculinity threatened because it does not reside in what other people think of him.

As I read this lovely post, I thought of all of the amazing vegan men I know, who are willing to stop eating animals, though so many human cultures seem to equate meat eating and dominance over nature with masculinity. I love that so many men are becoming so willing to help build a more equitable, peaceful, cooperative culture, in these different ways. Maybe the kitchen is a good place to start, since it’s a place where women and animals have been oppressed for a long time.

Maybe one day women won’t fear men, and animals won’t fear humans. Can we make that happen, together?

A sea otter named Eddie playing basketball to exercise his elbows

In 1998 a little otter was found alone and mama-less, and brought to an aquarium. He’s older now, and his elbows are a little arthritic, and getting stiff, so he was taught how to play basketball. So, here you go. Meet Eddie.

Click here for more about aquariums (and a sea turtle with prosthetic fins).

What does it mean to be a vegan animal?

An unexpected part of my vegan journey has been my realizing that I’m an animal, and growing to love that part of myself. Which is surprisingly difficult, since we’re we’re raised to think we’re something special, different, set apart, and are taught that to be called an animal is insulting. But we lose a part of ourselves when we say we’re not animals. More

Love wins

Watch what happens when a subway “preacher” tries to spread his heterosexism and homophobia and hate: A gay subway passenger stands up for himself and gets the whole car cheering for him by saying, “Jesus loves me!… Jesus is love! We can hear your falsehoods! There’s love in this train!… Love wins!”

I love this video for two reasons:

  1. It really reminds me of the usefulness of speaking to people in their own language, and to respect that they may be different from ourselves. Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully is an incredible book written by one of George W. Bush’s speechwriters, a conservative republican and a conservationist, not an abolitionist intersectional vegan by any means! However, his arguments have been enormously helpful to me in speaking with people who firmly believe that humans have God-given dominion over animals. I may not agree, and I might not define god in the same way they do, but I am now able to have an intelligent conversation with a right wing Christian carnist, in which I can respectfully quote all the compassionate Bible verses needed to counter the bloodthirsty ones they might feel attached to. Imagine what a different response this gay guy would have gotten if he’d said instead, “Your religion is oppressive and your Bible is lies!” By saying “Jesus is love” he effectively showed that the “preacher” was indeed a “false prophet,” at least, in the eyes of all of the people who were watching and who also want to believe that God, if s/he exists, is good and loving, and not hateful. Who are you going to agree with – the crazy bigot screaming vitriol, or the brave young man countering hatred with a reminder of Jesus’s love? I’m agnostic and more Buddhist than anything, but I’m still voting for the young man. Amen, brother.
  2. The other reason I love this video is because once Shira and I were on the train in NYC, and an old man and woman sat down across from us with Christian-themed baseball caps on, and started hissing hateful words at us, saying we were going to hell. We didn’t know how to defend ourselves. No one said anything in our defense. It was one of the cruelest, saddest experiences of my life. I wished dearly at the time that they could have seen me as a peace and justice activist, an ethical person who practices nonviolence in my every action, a loving person in a committed and healthy relationship, a community-minded voter and taxpayer, a fellow Brooklynite. Instead they saw something disgusting they wanted to destroy. It broke my heart. So I want to thank the young man in this video for his courage, for standing up and saying what I didn’t say. Love wins.

I also want to thank my freshman year roommate, Mer, and another one of our dorm-mates, Jesse, for having the courage to stand up one night at dinner, proclaiming, “I love Jesus!” It shocked me at the time because I hadn’t seen anyone progressive, any non-bigot, say something like that before, so exuberantly and honestly and earnestly, and from such a beautiful place of open-hearted love. If it wasn’t for those two people, and the influence of Hugh and his stories of radical Catholics (thank you Hugh!), I wouldn’t have come around to where I am now. My family has been wounded in the past by unjust and oppressive interpretations of religious scripture, and it’s taken me some time to get over my prejudice against religions and to find God in my own way. (Thanks to Josh A. for help in that department!)

Via Gawker

Doggy Talk

Last week a man named Michael Upchurch was doing his route on the back of a garbage truck in Muncie, Indiana, when he heard someone crying. He found a six-week-old puppy in a recycling bag: “This ole’ doggy here hollering, ‘Save me.’ I guess in doggy talk.” More