The Art of Listening by Marla Rose of Vegan Street

Thankfully, there are some exceptionally outstanding voices of reason leading the vegan movement, Marla Rose of Vegan Street is one of them. Thank you Marla for this important contribution to give our collective voice a grounded standard worthy of emulating.

http://veganfeministagitator.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-art-of-listening-or-your-allies-are.html

 

The Art of Listening (Or Your Allies are More Important Than Your Ego)…

 


“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” – Stephen Covey
 

About a month ago, I observed of one of those little dust-ups that happen fairly often on Facebook. It happened when someone high up with a respected animal advocacy organization was questioned by others about his use of a derogatory term, usually used against women, to insult other vegans whose strategies irritated him. This was on his personal time, not in his official capacity with the organization, but because he’s a fairly high-profile individual and it was publicly said in a way that could be easily shared, it was. Social media being what it is, for better or worse, he was quickly called out for the way he used this term and given the opportunity to make a reasonable case for using it, apologize or dig his heels in and refuse to listen. He chose the last option.

To be fair, I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to be offensive or sexist. I have never met him in person but my impression is that he is a good guy and he’s one who devotes his time to building a more compassionate world. He is very gifted at what he does. That said, when he was – in my opinion – gently questioned about it, he lashed out in a pretty disproportionate way, not only listing all the ways in which he personally is oppressed by society – mentioning his sexual orientation and his ethnic background – as proof that he could not be sexist (???) but he also chose to dig his heels in and refused to entertain the idea that it was worth considering the voices of those who had differing views. He went further, implying that anyone who had anything to say about the subject that wasn’t supportive of his viewpoint was petty and ineffective. Despite what I felt were some very reasonable points to consider, he basically wrote off anyone who had an opinion to share that contradicted his own as a humorless, unproductive hater and huffed away.

The thing is, I absolutely knew where he was coming from and I empathized with his situation. Nobody likes to feel ganged up on and even when people are pretty careful about not demonizing one another, we can overreact when we feel like we’re under attack and that people are judging us, which is especially amplified by when it happens on a social media platform. With our increased capacity to interact with one another virtually, we also have a potential powder keg that can turn what should be civil disagreements into flame wars that become much more personal, messy and hurtful.

I understand as well as anyone how uncomfortable it is to admit mistakes and apologize. There is almost nothing that sets me off more than feeling like I’m being lectured and nitpicked. I get irritated and angry. When those uncomfortable feelings arise, which is at least a few times a week at this point due to having an active presence on social media, this is when it’s really vital for me to take some deep breaths, step away from my reactive self, and, with my ego removed as much as possible, ask myself if there something of merit and consideration in what is being said to me. I will also ask someone who is more neutral about it, like John, for his thoughts and many times he lets me know that I am overreacting. 

Often it is baseless and just part of the social media landscape of, yes, bored people who are looking for something to attack. That is certainly always a distinct possibility. Sometimes it’s not, though. Sometimes there is something valid there. I’ve learned through observing that when people tell you that the words you used are offensive and this is why, these people and their thoughts deserve your consideration. Dismissing the voices of those who care enough to try to bring something they care about to your attention smacks of a conceited, callous attitude.


Years ago, I first became disillusioned with a vegan I once considered a hero because of the arrogant and condescending way that he dismissed anyone who disagreed with a term he created to describe our society’s confused and inconsistent treatment of other animals. It was an expression that he coined that found its basis in a specific mental illness and he applied it in moral terms. It didn’t bother me at first – it seemed to be an accurate descriptor and I had no quarrel with it – but as people who either have or care for those who suffer with this specific condition voiced their opposition to his use of the term and the way he used it, I was so turned off by his defensive and mocking response that I couldn’t help considering more of what they had to say. What they said made me more aware that mental health is a massive privilege that I take for granted; how might I feel if I saw a condition of mine treated like just another a tool in a toolbox to make a point? Might I be offended? Might I be justified in being offended? I had to answer yes to those questions. Through that new lens, seeing this man lash out and continue to deride peoples’ thoughts on a subject that didn’t affect him personally set the wheels in motion for me to scrutinize more of his interactions with the public. With that new perspective, I could see that the traits that I once perceived as confidence and honesty could also be interpreted as cockiness and meanness. It wasn’t long before this man was no longer a hero to me. 

Since then, I have seen many examples of vegans refusing to budge when asked to be considerate to less advantaged populations and, time and time again, I have seen many who fail to meet the bare minimum of what one should expect, defaulting instead to white, ableist and patriarchal standards. Even worse, I have seen them treating the people who dare to speak up like impudent insubordinates for having the audacity to question their authority. If that’s not reinforcing unjust power structures, I don’t know what is because…


* When we tell people of color that their genuine challenges to veganism, often due to lack of access, time and financial resources, are petty and selfish, they are being told to shut up and deal with it. They are being told that their real lives don’t matter

* When we tell women that they are being self-absorbed if they speak up about objectification and misogyny in the vegan sphere, they are also being told that their lives don’t matter. I don’t know if sex sells, but I do know that sexism sells out a movement.

* When we assert our intention to use every tactic is on the table if it might possibly sway some people despite negative personal and long-term consequences, we are saying that we care more about tacticsthan individual lives. As with the detractors above, these people are told that they need to stop whining and get in line.

I believe that the people who refuse to acknowledge the importance of caring for and about one another are setting themselves up for irrelevance. An inability to understand and appreciate the value of respectful, real allyship will ultimately ensure their obsolescence but I hope that too many people don’t become isolated in the process.

As a writer, words matter to me deeply. I am protective of them and I take great pleasure in the delicious variety available to me. At the same time, as a writer who is also a vegan and an activist, I care about being effective and a considerate, reliable ally more than I care about individual words. If I learn that something I’ve said is unintentionally harmful, I can adapt. There are many words out there including, “I’m sorry. I hadn’t thought about that. Let me try again.” There are many options. My guess is that if you want to write off any critique as the “word police” coming after you, your advantages are clouding your ability to understand your own privileged status and clouding your ability to empathize. You need to take a step back. You need to learn that an honest apology isn’t the worst thing in the world.

When people tell us something matters to them, we should listen. Most important, we should hear.

Cowspiracy Spreading the Vegan Virus?

Here is an article that in spite of its rude headline (Vegan Virus?) had some encouraging words about the effectiveness of the documentary film, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

We were compelled to make the following comment on a statement within the article:

Article Highlight:

“Committed carnivores admit to avoiding it in case it puts them off eating meat.”

Response:

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

“Committed Carnivores” actually deserve to be called out for their abdication of responsibility as global citizens on nation Earth for avoiding becoming informed. Willful ignorance merely because their conscience might actually be capable of overriding their self-serving, violent, addiction, or that enables a continued apathy to muster behavioral change for the greater good of the people, the planet, and the animals is unacceptable. A vegan shift in behavior is actually the responsible and rational reaction to becoming informed of the systems driving our collective destruction.

Humans are NOT carnivores at the best grasp at straws- they are behavioral omnivores that actually thrive best on plants, sun and a B12 supplement (because modern homo sapien sapiens generally no longer wipe with leaves and eat with their hands – effectively eat their natural source of b12 – bacteria that is common in excrement). Even that language (carnivore/omnivore) requires a reality check, not a continued re-enforcement of the collective entitled ego and superiority complex that has gotten us to this culture driving ecological collapse and 6th global extinction level event as 150-200 species die off forever, daily- 1000 times the natural rate of extinction.
Note: This is the first extinction actually created by the insanity and ego driven denial of species indigenous to the planet.

FACT: Vegans don’t live a life of stinking deprivation. They live a life consistent with universal ethics & values (peace, love, kindness, truth, justice, liberty and the right to pursue happiness for all earthlings) and consume delicious, healthier (for self and ecology) sustainable, nonviolent, alternatives. They live a life of adventure and discovery with new, delicious, healthier, sustainable, consistent-with-their-ethics alternatives for the foods and products they know, crave and love so much. Culture, tradition, economic infrastructure can be, rather, MUST be URGENTLY modernized and adapted for the reality that we have 7.3 billion people and growing everyday.

Empowerment: Delicious recipes for Meat, Dairy and Egg alternatives can be found at www.thegentlechef.com

Since when does a destructive taste preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction ever trump personal responsibility and commitment to social justice for continued survival for ours, and future generations on earth?

Time to get real.

Vegan is more than a diet. Vegan is more than a lifestyle. Vegan is a consciousness, a compass grounded in empathy that determines an ethic that guides all behavior.

Love life, live vegan.
http://newint.org/blog/2015/09/24/cowspiracy-documentary-vegan/

The Politics of Extinction by Captain Paul Watson

This essay by Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ranks as one of the most compelling essays I’ve read on exactly what has been wrong with American and other national politics for quite some time. Frankly, we are running out of time as the rate of extinction has been 1000 times the natural rate- to the tune of 150 – 200 species going extinct daily- due to humanity’s arrogance and disconnect with our unconscious and inefficient behaviors at population 7.3 billion people and growing.

The Politics of Extinction
Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior.

By Captain Paul Watson


We are at the present time living in an age of mass extinction. Each year, more than 20,000 unique species disappear from this planet forever. This represents more that two species per hour. Species extinction is the fuel that supports the ever increasing progress of the machinery of civilization.

Individual humans are for the most part insulated from the reality of species loss. Alienated from the natural world, guided by anthropocentric attitudes, the average human being is unaware and non-caring about the biological holocaust that is transpiring each and every day.

The facts are clear. More plant and animal species will go through extinction within our generation than have been lost thorough natural causes over the past two hundred million years. Our single human generation, that is, all people born between 1930 and 2010 will witness the complete obliteration of one third to one half of all the Earth’s life forms, each and every one of them the product of more than two billion years of evolution. This is biological meltdown, and what this really means is the end to vertebrate evolution on planet Earth.

Nature is under siege on a global scale. Biotopes, i.e., environmentally distinct regions, from tropical and temperate rainforests to coral reefs and coastal estuaries, are disintegrating in the wake of human onslaught.

The destruction of forests and the proliferation of human activity will remove more than 20 percent of all terrestrial plant species over the next fifty years. Because plants form the foundation for entire biotic communities, their demise will carry with it the extinction of an exponentially greater number of animal species — perhaps ten times as many faunal species for each type of plant eliminated.

Sixty-five million years ago, a natural cataclysmic event resulted in extinction of the dinosaurs. Even with a plant foundation intact, it took more than 100,000 years for faunal biological diversity to re-establish itself. More importantly, the resurrection of biological diversity assumes an intact zone of tropical forests to provide for new speciation after extinction. Today, the tropical rain forests are disappearing more rapidly than any other bio-region, ensuring that after the age of humans, the Earth will remain a biological, if not a literal desert for eons to come. The present course of civilization points to ecocide — the death of nature.

Like a run-a-way train, civilization is speeding along tracks of our own manufacture towards the stone wall of extinction. The human passengers sitting comfortably in their seats, laughing, partying, and choosing to not look out the window. Environmentalists are those perceptive few who have their faces pressed against the glass, watching the hurling bodies of plants and animals go screaming by. Environmental activists are those even fewer people who are trying desperately to break into the fortified engine of greed that propels this destructive specicidal juggernaut. Others are desperately throwing out anchors in an attempt to slow the monster down while all the while, the authorities, blind to their own impending destruction, are clubbing, shooting and jailing those who would save us all.

SHORT MEMORIES

Civilized humans have for ten thousand years been marching across the face of the Earth leaving deserts in their footprints. Because we have such short memories, we forgot the wonder and splendor of a virgin nature. We revise history and make it fit into our present perceptions.

For instance, are you aware that only two thousand years ago, the coast of North Africa was a mighty forest? The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians built powerful ships from the strong timbers of the region. Rome was a major exporter of timber to Europe. The temple of Jerusalem was built with titanic cedar logs, one image of which adorns the flag of Lebanon today. Jesus Christ did not live in a desert, he was a man of the forest. The Sumerians were renowned for clearing the forests of Mesopotamia for agriculture.

But the destruction of the coastal swath of the North African forest stopped the rain from advancing into the interior. Without the rain, the trees died and thus was born the mighty Sahara, sired by man and continued to grow southward at a rate of ten miles per year, advancing down the length of the continent of Africa.

And so will go Brazil. The precipitation off the Atlantic strikes the coastal rain forest and is absorbed and sent skyward again by the trees, falling further into the interior. Twelve times the moisture falls and twelve times it is returned to the sky — all the way to the Andes mountains. Destroy the coastal swath and desertify Amazonia — it is as simple as that. Create a swath anywhere between the coast and the mountains and the rains will be stopped. We did it before while relatively primitive. We learned nothing. We forgot.

So too, have we forgotten that walrus once mated and bred along the coast of Nova Scotia, that sixty million bison once roamed the North American plains. One hundred years ago, the white bear once roamed the forests of New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces. Now it is called the polar bear because that is where it now makes its last stand.

EXTINCTION IS DIFFICULT TO APPRECIATE

Gone forever are the European elephant, lion and tiger. The Labrador duck, giant auk, Carolina parakeet will never again grace this planet of ours. Lost for all time are the Atlantic grey whales, the Biscayan right whales and the Stellar sea cow. Our children will never look upon the California condor in the wild or watch the Palos Verde blue butterfly dart from flower to flower.

Extinction is a difficult concept to fully appreciate. What has been is no more and never shall be again. It would take another creation and billions of years to recreate the passenger pigeon. It is the loss of billions of years of evolutionary programming. It is the destruction of beauty, the obliteration of truth, the removal of uniqueness, the scarring of the sacred web of life

To be responsible for an extinction is to commit blasphemy against the divine. It is the greatest of all possible crimes, more evil than murder, more appalling than genocide, more monstrous than even the apparent unlimited perversities of the human mind. To be responsible for the complete and utter destruction of a unique and sacred life form is arrogance that seethes with evil, for the very opposite of evil is live. It is no accident that these two words spell out each other in reverse.

And yet, a reporter in California recently told me that “all the redwoods in California are not worth the life on one human being.” What incredible arrogance. The rights a species, any species, must take precedence over the life of an individual or another species. This is a basic ecological law. It is not to be tampered with by primates who have molded themselves into divine legends in their own mind. For each and every one of the thirty million plus species that grace this beautiful planet are essential for the continued well-being of which we are all a part, the planet Earth — the divine entity which brought us forth from the fertility of her sacred womb.

As a sea-captain I like to compare the structural integrity of the biosphere to that of a ship’s hull. Each species is a rivet that keeps the hull intact. If I were to go into my engine room and find my engineers busily popping rivets from the hull, I would be upset and naturally I would ask them what they were doing.

If they told me that they discovered that they could make a dollar each from the rivets, I could do one of three things. I could ignore them. I could ask them to cut me in for a share of the profits, or I could kick their asses out of the engine room and off my ship. If I was a responsible captain, I would do the latter. If I did not, I would soon find the ocean pouring through the holes left by the stolen rivets and very shortly after, my ship, my crew and myself would disappear beneath the waves.

And that is the state of the world today. The political leaders, i.e., the captains at the helms of their nation states, are ignoring the rivet poppers or they are cutting themselves in for the profits. There are very few asses being kicked out of the engine room of spaceship Earth.

With the rivet poppers in command, it will not be long until the biospheric integrity of the Earth collapses under the weight of ecological strain and tides of death come pouring in. And that will be the price of progress — ecological collapse, the death of nature, and with it the horrendous and mind numbing specter of massive human destruction.

And where does that leave us, dear reader? Do you intend to remain in your seat, oblivious to the impending destruction? Have you got you face pressed up against the window, watching the grim reapings of progress? Or are you engaged in throwing out anchors, sacrificing the materialistic pleasures of civilization and risking your all, that your planet and your children may live?

The choice is unique to this generation. Future generations will not have the chance and those that came before us did not have the vision nor the knowledge. It is up to us — you and I.

Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior. Serve your Mother and prosper OR serve civilization and besmear yourself with the filth and guilt of ecocide.

 

Your Plate vs. The Planet – The Center for Biological Diversity Surveyed Thier Membership on 4.13.2015

So excited to see an actual conservation advocacy group taking this issue seriously. They have followed the “meat industry” is the problem bandwagon in dipping their toe in the water to see how their membership is going to respond to getting real about what must be done on behalf of biodiversity. Although, we want to make it clear that, “meat” which has been the focus of thier survey, is not the primary problem they must really take on.

The primary problem is conciousness and empathy; ecological collapse is primarily due to egocentric thinking and entitlement as supreme beings on the planet. “Meat”, to too many people, actually means: “Steak” or “cow” not “fish”, not “chicken”. If I had a dollar for everytime someone said to me “I’m a vegetarian” while they were continuing to consume chicken and fish, or how many people I’ve said “I’m vegan- I eat plant products” and people ask – “Do you eat fish?” “Do you eat chicken?” or have had someone in a restaurant serve me chicken, cheese or eggs, we’d be already funded to deliver some serious educational campaigns across this country.

Furthermore, the first thing that happens when people quit “meat” is they replace it with “eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt (goat or cow)” etc. due to the pervasive livestock industry programming that “protein = animal products”, in an attempt to solve the problem. Eating more eggs and diary will not solve the myriad of problems we are facing with the animal-based agriculture. This isn’t a “meat industry” problem. This is a disconnected, animal usery based society problem based on old ignorance and a current denial that there are over 7 billion humans still inefficiently and polluting by living on animals with their cities, cars and freeways to support their culture. This path will maintain an insane system driving ecological collapse.

Thank you to the Center for Biological Diversity for your campiagn “Take the Exinction Off Your Plate”, and kindly make the subtle yet profoundly significant changes language changes to move to speaking about this in terms of “livestock and animal agriculture” instead of “meat”. The vegan community has been begging environmental organizations to get on board with addressing the most salient solution to our global crisis at human population 7 billion and growing that is literally driving our biodiversity extinction and ecological collapse and especially for the 70 billion land animals and trillions of sea animals being unnecessarily and unsustainably slaughtered every year and continues to increase with our population. Please make an unequivocal declaration that a stock free plant-based agriculture and diet is the solution that can reverse the crisis we are currently spiralling in.

Here is a letter from Nov 2011 to Bill McKibben of 350.org that you may find of interest in our efforts to collaborate with environmental groups and bring them on the path that of this major topic has been irresponsibly ommitted from the discussion for so long.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/appeal-to-bill-mckibben-350org-by-eriyah-flynn-founder-of-veganshift-columbus-oh/10150426079393290

Dear Bill,

You may remember me: my name is Eriyah Flynn, and I have traveled to stand beside you, and the many activists in this room, in WDC two times in as many months in protest of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Columbus activist community, including Alec Johnson, Bob Fitrakis, Harvey Wasserman, Jason Box and Andrew Sidesinger, and many others can attest that I have been a long time, ardent, engaged and committed environmental and social justice activist. I am also a US Air Force Veteran and yet, most importantly, while doing all of this for over a decade, I have also been a vegan. Because being vegan is the LEAST I can do as a political statement of justice and non-violence towards the weakest among us who are at our mercy, and the MOST effective single discipline that can be done to reverse the path of insanity of unsustainable behaviors our species has waged against our planetary home. Being vegan does not require risk of arrest, can be extremely healthy, affordable, and can be done by everyone, NOW.

Livestock production is the 10,000 year stain on humanity’s code of so called civilized behavior, and as our population has ballooned over the last 80 years from 2 billion in 1930, to over 7 billion people in 2011; According to two reports, “Livestock’s Long Shadow” (UNFAO) and “Livestock and Climate Change” (World Watch Institute) Livestock production is now THE LEADING human cause of pollution, deforestation and ecocide causing climate change, vastly exceeding world transport. We have known this since 2006. Ecological scientists have been sounding the alarm that we have entered the 6th great extinction period on Earth. You spoke of severe energy and water scarcity and the impending loss of productive crops. Based on these facts, a vegan in a hummer does more to save the planet than a non-vegan on bicycle. The continued omission of these facts is absolute negligence contributing to our collective peril. The vegan community has been waiting since 2006 (and before) for the environmental community to acknowledge the most basic scientific empirical fact that consuming lower on the food chain is the most efficient way to live, as well as a hemorrhaging social justice issue desperate to be recognized since the times of Socrates.

If reducing the negative impacts of climate change is truly your salient objective and the situation is as dire as you depict, the environmental community must finally make the intellectually honest commitment and demonstrate the courage to get the elephant of veganism in the room, on the table of awareness, clearly, in the campaigns your organization (and other environmental, conservationist and social justice organizations) commissions going forward.  A survey of your organization’s membership would likely reveal significant numbers of vegans who also support this moral/ethical obligation and are equally confounded by this continued, weak inconsistency. Embarrassingly, climate change deniers wield this fact as leverage to marginalize our unified environmental sustainability cause and charge “hypocrite”. Gain legitimacy for our mission and make a pledge to go vegan, make it fun and issue a “go vegan” challenge to your membership. I am available for support, and I have enclosed with this letter, several documents that will assist you in this process (BTW- they are contained in an algae based plastic binder made by a local company called Univenture), and I have provided links below to these resources as well within an electronic document that will be forwarded to you directly.

My parting mental picture is an analogy of abolition:  If the animals in today’s system of exploitation were the Jews in Hitler’s concentration camps, or the slaves of our nation’s plantation owners, which side of history would you want to be on? The side of the cowards, whiners and excusitarians who were too afraid or apathetic to make a stand, or would you choose the side of the courageous that dared pull up their boots, show some discipline and urgently challenged the most powerful and dominant forces of injustice, violence and death?

I think you and I know the answer to that. They are not “a condiment” Mr. McKibben, they are individuals who deserve to be free of exploitation, and as you have so cogently and eloquently detailed in your plea for action, you know there is a lot more at stake than just our palate’s preference. Lead as I know you can. The earthlings who share this planet are counting on you to live up to your potential.

Love life, live vegan!

Eriyah Flynn

Founder

Vegan Shift

“Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right.” Dr Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968

Transition Action Plan:

  • Pledge to go vegan
  • Issue a “go vegan” challenge; ask membership to pledge to at least try it for 30 days.
  • In all of your correspondences end with a statement that the most basic scientific empirical fact is that consuming lower on the food chain (plants) is the most efficient way to live, that the present demand for livestock products is the leading cause of the energy consumption and environmental pollution, deforestation and ecocide and that a vegan shift would also alleviate many of the social justice issues we are suffering
  • Link your website and correspondence to websites that offer vegan transition tips, recipes and provide more detail on the importance (see links below)

Enclosed:

  • The Simple Solution is Getting the Elephant on the Table
    • https://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=70604078289
  • Letter from a Vegan World- Joanna Lucas of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
    • http://www.peacefulprairie.org/outreach/letter.pdf
  • Animal Rights The Abolitionist Approach by Gary Francione
    • http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/media/pdf/ARAA_Pamphlet.pdf
  • Blood and Soil: Lierre Keith, Michael Pollan, and the Trouble with Locavore Politics by John Sanbonmatsu
    • http://www.zcommunications.org/blood-and-soil-lierre-keith-michael-pollan-and-the-trouble-with-locavore-politics-by-john-sanbonmatsu
  • The Veganrd Countering Claims Against Vegan Diets
    • http://www.theveganrd.com/2011/11/countering-claims-against-vegan-diets.html
    • http://www.wedge.coop/newsletter/august-september-2011/vegan-diets
    • http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/09/review-of-the-vegetarian-myth.html
  • Livestock and Climate Change by The World Watch Institute (states world livestock production contributes over 50% compared to world transport’s mere 13% to climate change)
    • http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf
  • Livestock’s Long Shadow by The UNFAO (stated livestock production contributes 17.5% compared to world transport’s 13% to climate change)
    • ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf
  • Putting Meat on the Table by The PEW Commission
    • http://www.livablefutureblog.com/pdf/Putting_Meat_on_Table_FULL.pdf
  • Position Paper of the American Dietetic Association on Vegetarian Diets
    • http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf
  • A Vegan but not an Activist? Sure. An animal lover but not a Vegan? Nope. By Stephanie Earnst
    • http://challengeoppression.com/2010/04/15/a-vegan-but-not-an-activist-sure-an-animal-lover-but-not-a-vegan-nope/
  • A Life Connected by Non-Violence United (11 min)
    • http://www.veganvideo.org/
  • Making the Connection by The Vegan Society (8 short vignettes 3 to 6 min each)
    • http://www.youtube.com/TheVeganSociety#p/u/0/8ZAHIB97iGY
  • Forks Over Knives
    • http://www.forksoverknives.com/
  • Plant-based Nutrition
    • http://tcolincampbell.org/
  • The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU2VkRpXSUo&feature=related
  • Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJzpKxBer7I
  • Indigenous veganism: Feminist Natives do eat tofu by Margaret Robinson
    • http://www.thescavenger.net/animals/indigenous-veganism-feminist-natives-do-eat-tofu-237794-504.html
  • The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLgGnP0pWzM&feature=related
  • Earthlings
    • http://www.earthlings.com/
  • Vegucated
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKzng1_byMY
  • The Politics of Extinction- Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior By Captain Paul Watson
    • http://www.eco-action.org/dt/beerswil.html
  • Cowpiracy: The Sustainability Secret (Added to this list after letter submitted – new film as of 2014) 
    • http://www.cowspiracy.com
  • The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (added to this list after letter submitted- 7.12.2012)
    • http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf
  • Humans are Natural Plant Eaters
    • http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html

Take the NASA Million Dollar Family Challenge

Purpose of the “NASA Million Dollar Family Challenge”: A positive method of stimulating peaceful, innovative vegan solutions and ideas to current unjust and violent system infrastructure.

Build bridges to our community by inviting people or policy makers to take the “NASA Million Dollar Family Challenge” when they ask thoughtful genuine questions or especially when they make thoughtless, arcane, barbaric, or otherwise oppressive automated responses, or have been making violently, insane policy decisions (usually some sort or cull for “population control”, to common carnist culture behaviors/challenges. The objective of this challenge is ideally to cause people to shift from automated, thoughtless cultural programming, to actually using some innovative thinking strategies, to connect with those who are motivated by self-interest for the best nonviolent solutions, and for those who actually care about the oppressed and often violated earthlings of the world we share. (Marketing survey statistics have shown that only 20% of people are idealists who are inclined towards altruism, the other 80% are motivated by WIFM- what’s in it for me? 5% of the population are sociopathic and will never care about anyone human or nonhuman.)

What does this mean? Simply ask people to imagine 3 things:

1) They work for NASA (Houston-we have a problem that our most brilliant minds must urgently solve)

2) There is a million dollar pay off for the best vegan idea (nonviolent, socially just that is symbiotic to all earthlings)

3) The animals and nature are their human family members (that they actually care about, not entitled to oppress, dominate and destroy)

If looking at the problem with these guidelines, wouldn’t that change the way people will think about the “solutions”? I can just imagine and can’t wait to see how creative people can become with their ideas. If you engage someone in a debate and ask them these questions, please come back to this note and share the situation specifics by telling me how it was received and the solutions they offered. Please post them in the comments below as they will be captured and implemented on the Vegan Transition Plan website that will be coming soon. OR you could just copy and paste this note in the discussion thread and tag me so I can collect the information and maybe even share in the discussion.

A classic situation example of what I’m talking about:

People believe that a reasonable response to deer “overpopulation” must be solved with hunting. We know that this is not the case. That is the arcane behavior of “If something gets in your way, kill it.” The fact they are someone, not something. That is certainly not the actions of the problem solver our species considers the shining innovations in a civilized modern world, rather it is the throwback of the dark, brute, thuggery of the violent past we seek to leave behind as we strive towards a more peaceful and symbiotic world existence.

This challenge is also a method for discussing grand scale thinking such as:

How to transition exploitative industries into non-exploitative industries
Rapid ideas implementation in general – such as pressuring organizations that are aligned with vegan values and agenda but not talking about a vegan shift (presently deploying- here is a sample template: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150429395173290, example of template letter in action Letter to Bill McKibben 350.org: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150426079393290
We know there are better answers to our problems than where we are today. Although one does not have to be a NASA engineer to participate (just imagine they are to get creative neurons fired up instead of spewing the same tired, oppressive, mantras engrained in our culture). I hear there are in fact a few NASA engineers out of work these days, if you know any of them, or any other brilliant minds out there, let’s see what they have to offer and send this note to them too. One does not have to be vegan to participate; all are welcome to offer genuine ideas. Who knows, maybe someone with a lot of money can make the million dollar pledge to implementing the ideas represented here and actually provide a reward for the best idea. (If you know anyone who would like to fund my work, I’m all ears). These ideas will also be shared with our politicians and the industries we seek to transition.

Please share this note with other vegans to get the word out if you think this is an idea worth sharing. It may be a good topic for discussion at your next Vegan or Animal Rights Meetup event, or other like-minded event.

I appreciate your support.

In solidarity for a peaceful and healthy world vegan shift, Love life, live vegan 🙂

Eriyah

Founder, Vegan Shift

VeganStreet’s Rockstar 10 Questions Interview with Vegan Shift Founder Eriyah Flynn

Ten Questions: Vegan Rockstar Edition with Eriyah Flynn

One of the things that is most exciting to me about the animal advocacy movement has always been how individuals can create so much good in the world with just an attitude of motivation. Eriyah Flynn of Columbus, OH and her organization, Vegan Shift, is one such example. As a longtime vegan with many years of trying different things to get the message out, Eriyah has gotten clarity on strategic savvy and effectiveness. I think she has a lot of wisdom to share and offers a lot of pointers on not only how to become more effective conveyers of our message but also ideas on how to become more active on behalf of animals. I am grateful for Eriyah and her work with Vegan Shift. I hope you’ll consider supporting her organization and getting involved, whether that’s through Vegan Shift or your favorite advocacy group.  

1. First of all, we’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path? 

It was a series of events and influences. I have always loved animals, thankfully I was raised by a family of animal lovers who taught me to treat individuals the way I would like to be treated; unfortunately, like most people in the US, I had no idea how disconnected I was from reality. Today, I can honestly say I suffered from an arbitrary, nonsensical perspective regarding fully conscious animals/individuals and had placed them into two categories: the animals I loved and protected as pets and wildlife, and the animals I consumed as commodities to eat, wear, use in entertainment, supported experimentation on, etc. While I technically understood I was consuming animals and their products, my actual contemplation on the details of what that really meant up until 1995, was non-existent. I can remember thoughtlessly stating the weak, cultural programming mantra of “That is their purpose” which is what makes me so hopeful for empowering a rapid world vegan shift. Informed people who have the same values can adapt their behaviors based on critically important and compelling information, now faster and easier than ever (especially compared to  nearly 20 years ago when I first began to be exposed to these issues). As I became more informed of the facts surrounding the present cultural foundations, the path and behaviors to live consistently in alignment with my values for peace, liberty, justice, love, dignity, respect, empathy and compassion, and my claims to love animals, people and  the planet became self-evident: I must live vegan.

My mom was probably my most dominant influence by providing in the foundations of love and respect towards other earthlings. Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss and superhero stories and films were probably subconsciously others, as all of those stories and films portrayed heroes and heroines as those whose ethics and actions represented love, respect, kindness and the rescue of animals in need of help, whereas the “evil villains” were those who were uncaring, abused and/or threatening to kill/or killed innocent animals.

[Here is more on Eriyah’s evolution if you’re interested. Fascinating story!]
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2. Imagine that you are pre-vegan again: how could someone have talked to you and what could they have said or shown you that could have been the most effective way to have a positive influence on you moving toward veganism? 



For me, I would hope that conversation would have happened very early in life. I wish that Ruby Roth books such as “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals”“Vegan is Love” and “V is for Vegan” would have existed when I was a child. If I would have been told the truth then, and had been given a choice to live in alignment with my ethics, instead of being sheltered from the reality of what I was participating in, and denied even the decision (through absent vegan options on menus in school or restaurants, and cultural events anywhere), I know I would have been open to and especially if empowered, to living vegan as a toddler, since loving and connecting with other animals were my natural instincts, tendencies and behaviors. The fact that these options are not given and that the violence and reality associated with our consumption of animals is largely hidden through misinformation by official sounding organizations, euphemisms and outright lies that make the intolerable tolerable have enabled and glorified violence in a culture that claims to be an ethical, modern, civilized, and humane society. This is an epic perversion and violation of collective social values and norms that are now rapidly shifting vegan with the committed and organized vegan movement circumventing conventional programming through the use of social media and in conjunction with the cumulative, scientific proof that a whole-food, plant-based diet is the optimal diet for humans to thrive, especially considering our imbalance with nature given our unprecedented human and livestock population levels destroying and displacing critical biomes such as the Amazon.

Are most Americans aware that 90% of the Amazon rainforest is now gone, primarily for unnecessary livestock production, thus creating an extinction rate 1000 times the natural rate and contributing to 20,000 to 30,000 species extinctions annually? This figure has been quoted at roughly equaling 200 species extinctions per day by some scientists. Any intelligent and rational individual should resonate with self-preservation connected with their reliance on ecology, if nothing else. A large part of the problem is that people are ignorant to the facts, literally addicted to animal products, or have a financially vested interest, so all too often, rational and intelligent decision making can be met with the significant and catastrophic resistance as time is not on our side at the rate our population continues to grow, resources are consumed and thus causing ecocide.

3. What have you found to be the most effective way to communicate your message as a vegan? For example, humor, passion, images, etc.? 

I actually believe that using ALL of the tools listed above can be the most effective in a given circumstance. People are so different: one method will not fit for all applications. It is crucial to know your audience. Going to the fairgrounds in protest with angry chants paired with slaughter images condemning 4-H clubs/livestock producers is not likely to yield as much support or consideration as going to the fairgrounds providing a delicious vegan junk food booth, vegan health food options, and some veganic agriculture demos and information.  (People who are concerned with their health/or have health conditions still like to take their children/grandchildren- who may also have health conditions they must be mindful of- to the fair). Humor is one of the best ways to reach people on the planet, especially when telling provocative truth. Bizarro comics are brilliant. Patience, understanding, compassion, love, with passionate, straight-forward, consistently firm, empowering messaging, are critical pieces of overcoming a lifetime of deceptive programming. The choice of language one uses is SO important in these interactions. Avoid making “you” statements: instead say “our, we, us” as in, the collective society. Telling your personal story, how you arrived at the decision to be vegan, can often be so powerful to compelling others. Never tell someone they are “wrong”. Speak in terms of consistency of behaviors of ethics and characteristics we value. Use questions to help draw out their barriers. “What is stopping you from being vegan?” Frame your discussions of living vegan as one of a consistent, compassionate, peace movement with abundant, delicious, nutritious, healthy, sustainable, love inspired options, and avoid anything that says we are the culture of “No, this, no that, restrict this, restrict, that, limited this etc. “You don’t have to give up meat, dairy and eggs!- you can have them all, only they are made from plants!”  “Yes! We can have cheesecake and  ice cream, made from delicious creamy plants like cashews, almonds, coconut, etc.!”  Empowering the transition peacefully is our best chance for rapid world vegan shift.

4. What do you think are the biggest strengths of the vegan movement? 

It’s ever increasing diversity of demographics, and the adoption of direct, honest, unequivocal, ethically delivered vegan messaging. Here is one of the best memes I’ve seen for really helping people build the bridges to vegan shift empowerment:


5. What do you think are our biggest hindrances to getting the word out effectively? 



Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder induced Angry Misanthropic Vegan Activism. Raging vegans that scream at others and post a never-ending stream of graphic violence only find themselves preaching to the choir that can stand them. Those who are doing that need to be taken in and loved, and mentored into channeling that completely justifiable rage and anger into something that can build bridges to society connecting others in empowerment for a rapid vegan shift. Lessons in inspiration of galvanizing and organizing people in social justice movements can be modeled after the Quakers, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

6. All of us need a “why vegan” elevator pitch. We’d love to hear yours. 



I say it with a shirt – affectionately referred to as “The VEGAN BEACON”: I wear the Nonviolence United VEGAN shirt like a uniform almost everywhere I go (especially if I know there is going to be a crowd, the grocery store, a concert, a festival, a movie theater) because it is black with white lettering, people with normal vision can see its fantastic message from up to a city block away: Compassion, Nonviolence: For the People. For the Planet. For the Animals. Who doesn’t resonate with that? I have yet to meet anyone who said anything negative about the shirt’s message.

That shirt has a number of responses from people: the vegans automatically connect (often with hugs and elation or simple commiseration); the pre-vegans begin to ask questions; the potential re-vegans make confessions for their departure which are often really a subconscious invitation to encourage and empower them to try again. (Seasoned experience has taught me that the worst response to someone who makes such a confession is to assault them with vitriolic contempt and judgment for the betrayal of the innocent, as instinctive as it is to rage against them, trust me on this: Offering an empowering hand takes genuine patience, wisdom and maturity. Vegans are teachers, and as such, we must provide an ethos that promotes the sense of safety and mindset required for learning: treat others with respect, even though we know that they are not respecting those who are literally dying as a result of their decisions.) So instead of castigating the fallen, make a friendly offer to help them to try again.  I carry copies of Vegan Shift’s 300 Vegans Vegan Resources Guides and A Life Connected brochures. Only people who are really adversarial (vested financial interest, strong addiction or a burning case of cognitive dissonance) ever respond negatively to the NU VEGAN shirt, a warm and friendly smile, congenial or compelling, passionately delivered responses and empowering resources. Even the most negative people can be turned around with the right approach. People love and are inspired by passion, conviction and consistency with one’s ethics, not by preaching and condemnation.

7. Who are the people and what are the books, films, websites and organizations that have had the greatest influence on your veganism and your continuing evolution?

Specifically, the vegan path began with Moby, The Animal’s Agenda, books like“Mad Cowboy” and “Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating”“The Food Revolution”and the groups like PETA which showed me the graphics of “Meat Your Meat” and volunteering locally for Mercy For Animals which connected me to an actual vegan support community. Later, I resonated with Harold Brown, Gary Francione’s abolitionist approach, and others like Tom ReganGary Yourofsky,Steve Best and began studying social justice movement strategies recommended by Harold Brown with books such as Bill Moyer’s “Doing Democracy”.

Matt Bear’s Nonviolence United materials have been so effective they are what I have predominantly chosen for the 300 Vegans campaign/project as standard messaging (Vegan Shift is a hub organization for promoting the excellent, consistent vegan messaging resources already available across the movement, not reinventing the wheel).

Ultimately, over the now 20+ years of development through military service (Decorated, Honorably Discharged USAF Desert Storm Era Veteran) and a leadership career in both public and private sectors, extensive reading, formal education, volunteering with different organizations (including and beyond the animal rights movement) and rigorous debate in life experience, I’ve taken the best of both what I resonate with and have learned from all of these exposures to develop what has become Vegan Shift.

8. Burn-out is so common among vegans: what do you do to unwind, recharge and inspire yourself? 

Recognizing that is where one is “in a state of burn-out” is really important. Being part of this movement can be so gratifying and yet so challenging on so many levels. Sometimes you need to check out and take a break from activism to be most effective at it. Take a break from Facebook, take a weekend to go connect with nature and breath in the fresh air and peace away from the sensory overload that is modern society today. Try kayaking, swimming, yoga or meditation. Connecting with other vegans in safe havens, where you can go to blow your gasket of disillusioned pain and frustration of being vegan in a pre-vegan world is so important. I can’t stress enough that you refrain from showing your darkest side to your general network, there is a difference between sharing the occasional glimpse and perpetual rage. That is a state that WILL make you sick, so allow yourself to feel it, but do not dwell there long. There are secret groups for raging which is a good place to blow that steam off, just remember, nothing is truly secret on the internet. Having a strong network of vegan support is necessary for one’s mental health. There is always professional counsel, a mentor or family member you trust. I would seek out vegans who understand what you are experiencing. Seek out mentorship from those you see achieving or have attained the level of health and state management you respect and desire. (I’ve written a note on this and within this note’s comments Matt Bear added a note, that has some really great specific coping mechanisms.)

9. What is the issue nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like others to know more about?



The NASA Million Dollar Family Challenge. We want a better world: we start by walking the walk, then talking the talk, and finally empowering others to do what they can to create that peaceful world we wish to see. It starts by stimulating the mind to think, to imagine the possibilities, to see the invisible, feel the intangible and to move in the direction of our shared values to achieve the impossible. The NASA Million Dollar Family Challenge project was created to do just that. It engages people to participate in the process of peaceful innovations instead of clinging to comfortable, common rhetoric that has not yielded the actions, behaviors or policies consistent with the values we claim to stand for in society. It is here that we begin to build the world we would really see. It takes effort and someone has got to do it.

We can build bridges to our community by inviting people or policy makers to take the NASA Million Dollar Family Challenge when they ask thoughtful, genuine questions, or especially, when they make thoughtless, arcane, barbaric, or otherwise oppressive automated responses, or have been making violently, insane policy decisions (usually some sort of call for “population control”, to common culture behaviors/challenges). The objective of this challenge is ideally to cause people to shift from automated, cultural programming, to actually using some innovative thinking strategies, to connect with those who are motivated by self-interest for the best nonviolent solutions, and for those who actually care about the oppressed and often violated earthlings of the world we share. (Marketing survey statistics have shown that only 20% of people are idealists who are inclined towards altruism, the other 80% are gradually less motivated across the spectrum by ethics and more motivated by WIFM- what’s in it for me? Five percent of the population are sociopathic and will never care about anyone human or nonhuman- their opinion will not matter.)

What does this mean? Simply ask people to imagine 3 things:
1) They work for NASA (Houston-we have a problem that our most brilliant minds must urgently solve)
2) There is a million dollar pay off for the best vegan idea (nonviolent, socially just that is symbiotic to all earthlings)
3) The animals and nature are their human family members (that they actually care about, not entitled to oppress, dominate and destroy)

It is this collaboration of solutions that will be the foundation of Vegan Shift’sPhase 2 plan for shifting every aspect of violence out of our federal, state and local policies: The National Vegan Policy Implementation Act. “If not you, who? If not now, when?” Hillel

10. Please finish this sentence: “To me, being vegan is…” 

The single most important and far- reaching action I can take to live consistently in alignment with the values, ethics, feelings and characteristics that all conscious earthlings crave: peace, liberty, justice, nonviolence, dignity, respect, love, empathy and compassion.

Thank you, Eriyah!

“No Option” is Not an Option for Vegans

Originally published as two individual pieces as separate letters to the editor and later were combined into a single article for The Free Press here: http://freepress.org/article/%E2%80%9Cno-option%E2%80%9D-not-option-vegans

If you have never heard of the word “vegan,” this is a definition: someone who has acknowledged the fact that animals are fully conscious individuals who desire freedom and as such, warrant the same fundamental right to be free, not to be treated as property or unnecessarily killed. Vegans, therefore, abstain from killing or using animals or their products as much as is possible or practicable in modern society (their products are in sidewalks, tires and many other foundational places you wouldn’t recognize).

However, people have often self-identified as “vegans” to simplify many needs: food allergies, doctor’s orders, plant-strong health (well planned whole foods, plant-based diets can prevent, arrest, reverse or otherwise positively impact 15 of the top16 causes of death), sustainable consumption, energy conservation, ecological preservation, food security etc. Demand for vegan, organic, non-GMO options are rapidly rising trends of the informed consumer, not a fad.
Those who require vegan options would be delighted to dine anywhere and not treated like an afterthought or discriminated against outright. What a wonderful thing it would be to walk into any restaurant and see clearly identified vegan options for every course of a meal. It feels very unwelcome when the server asks “Would you like dessert?” and after asking “Are there any vegan options?” the answer is “I’m sorry, no.”

I recently saw the film “Jobs” as in, Steve, not employment. I’ve been saying something for a while; “When your option is ‘no option’ it is not an option; it is a lack of consciousness or accommodation otherwise known as discrimination.”

Vegans are discriminated against almost everywhere: schools, employers, civic venues, churches and charities, sporting events, community events and virtually all social events, and especially around the holidays. Is it any wonder why the recidivism rates of people who go vegan and return to consuming animal products is so high? Especially when physicians aren’t trained in nutrition and any recommendations they give are based on the conventional, dubious and often unsustainable paradigm of the culture, not the available, nutritionally robust, plant-based alternatives.

Living vegan differs in commitment level among its adopters because it is a behavior that can be changed based on the motivation and discipline levels of the person doing it, unlike conventional bigotry and discrimination defining characteristics that cannot be so easily changed (gender, race, color, age, ability etc.). People are a lot more firm in their resolve to change unjust and discriminatory law when it applies to them and they can’t change who or what they are. Since the “skin in the game” is literally other species, it is easy to see why so few people really stick with it. Like any minority, it can be a challenge to thrive when the culture discriminates against you in every way.

The reason I brought up the film “Jobs” is because in it, he said something profound, and remarkably on target with what I’ve been trying to convey that is the heart of why our culture is not a vegan one when 95% of our population claims to love animals and does not think they should be harmed unnecessarily, yet 95% of the population continues to harm animals unnecessarily, so they can eat/use them and their products. What Steve Jobs was quoted as saying in the film that gave me goose bumps it was so good was this: “How do people know what they want if it doesn’t even exist yet?”

Deep down, people are vegan, but the culture they were born into never even gave them the option to live in alignment with their instinctual values of liberty, justice, happiness, respect, dignity, compassion and empathy for all earthlings.

Take us there, it is up to you to demand the world you wish to see. You have the power to demand what you want, not just accept what you are given as if it is impolite to expect an ethical and civilized society we claim to be when we distinguished ourselves from the natural world. We are natural herbivores who in this culture have been forced into the unnatural position of behavioral omnivores. Demand a better world. Love life, live vegan. The crazy ones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM8GiNGcXuM

Becoming the Ardent Vegan Advocate

I’ve been an ardent vegan advocate since 2000. I became vegan because I am an animal lover. I was born and raised to respect animals and had believed I was an animal lover my entire life; although regrettably, I did not become vegan until I was in my late 20’s. A series of events awakened my consciousness; Moby’s “Everything Is Wrong” CD included the first and profoundly compelling essay I had ever read on the concept of Animal Rights. I was also taking college courses; “Humans and the Environment” and “Human Nutrition.” However, the most shocking and compelling contribution to my awakening came as a surprise solicitation call from Publisher’s Clearing House when the caller enthused, “You’ve WON!”

Although it wasn’t Ed McMann at my door with that famous “million dollar check,” I had won something that has given me more wealth than those million dollars ever could. That precious gem was among four, free, subscriptions. As the solicitor named off options from some 200 publications, I chose: Architectural Digest, Birds and Blooms, Gourmet Magazine, and most importantly- The Animal’s Agenda. When the solicitor had named off that publication, I pressed “What IS The Animal’s Agenda?”

He explained, “It says here it is THE premier animal rights magazine!” to which I exclaimed, “Send me that!”

I’ll never forget the day I opened The Animals Agenda and read about what the farming industry does to factory farmed pigs. As I read the feature article, I was transported into a system so undeniably cruel, wretchedly violent, and disgustingly fetid; I screamed the most impotent, outraged, agonizing, visceral, soul killing scream. It was a scream like I had never screamed in my life. It was the day I instantly stopped eating pigs. Not even the beloved “bacon” was worth it.

The fallacy that many people would like to believe is that all farmed pigs are not treated poorly. They hold onto the frozen image that “humanely” raised pigs, not conventionally farmed in giant factories, live daily, happy lives, while freely roaming on the bucolic fields of old MacDonald’s farm, and the delusion that pigs, which are more intelligent than dogs, are too stupid to know or care about what we do to them, their family or other members of their community. However, a critical look at any college of agriculture’s standard “humane” farming practices and procedures will eliminate all doubt to this marketing fairy tale image for anyone who really cares about animals.

To expand on the process for just a minute, most of those procedures referred to (perversely) as “humane” procedures are prosecuted as felony abuse charges when done to cats or dogs. No one, if they were on the receiving end of that treatment, would call it “humane” either, especially considering humane means the “best characteristics of humanity”. How can unnecessary killing and exploitation (honestly) be described as humane, and especially when “humane” farming includes branding and testicular removal without anesthetic or killing runts using the pounding against concrete (known as “PACing”) or gassing methods, among other physical assaults, on EVERY farm? “Humane” slaughter is not a mercy killing except possibly for those injured and suffering in untreatable agony in factories or small farms who don’t care to pay for veterinary care. To kill for an unnecessary taste preference cannot possibly be described as mercy or euthanasia. There is nothing about the best in humanity in these actions; they are oxymorons and marketing fallacies.

I feel I should also mention a “Thank you”, to Gary Francione (The Abolitionists Approach) and Joanna Lucas (Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary) for your works on the clear, unequivocal vegan message on that reality that has re-calibrated my compass and inspired my development and foundation of Vegan Shift with the mission of connecting people globally with all the vegan organizations on the planet that are empowering a rapid world vegan shift using unequivocal vegan messaging. I was so inspired by Joanna Lucas’ Letter from a Vegan World from the first moment I read it, I framed it and it has been on my office wall (work and home) ever since. Thanks to Matt Bear of Nonviolence United for creating the best VEGAN T-shirt in the movement and the wonderful A Life Connected brochure and video series. (now back to my story)

The Animal’s Agenda subsequently (and thankfully) shared my address with every animal rights and animal welfare organization in existence, including PeTA; which I promptly joined. From then on, I couldn’t go to my mail box without some new horror entering my consciousness; bear baiting, bear bile production, Premarin made from horse urine and/or horse slaughter, disposal of spent racing greyhounds, dog fighting, kittens used as shark bait, rhino and elephant poaching, the fur trade, dolphins in slaughter and entertainment, lions and tigers exploited for meat, orangutans as sex slaves, vivisection insanity- the list is too long to tell.

I later discovered the underlying, root cause, to all of these atrocities lies within a single, complex, invisible, value system known as speciesism; which is a conceptual thread woven of the same pernicious tapestry of bigotry as: racism, sexism, homophobism and ableism. As racism allowed the objectification and exploitation of blacks for slavery, and sexism allowed the objectification of women as property, speciesism or human supremacy allows the more violent exploitation that comes by thinking animals can be (unjustly) treated as property for any human purpose. This reality began to crack my consciousness more clearly as I was exposed to more facts.

One of the PeTA mailings I received included a catalog of informative products and so I ordered their latest video, “Meet your Meat”. I remember the day my mom and I watched it. Meat your Meat covered the graphic and unrelenting details of the farmed animal production cycle. The images and sounds seared into our psyche resulted in my mom and me committing to going vegetarian, yet we hadn’t made the whole connection and still struggled with the concept of using alternatives to eggs and dairy.

A few months later, a tornado hit Buckeye Egg Farm in Croton, Ohio. In response, my mom and I invested and suited up in some rain slicks and hip waders in answer to a public appeal in the newspaper requesting assistance in the rescue of the 2 million chickens affected. There were over 200,000 chickens crammed in small cages per shed, and 8 of the sheds were damaged by the tornado; twisting their mechanized food and watering systems, rendering them useless, thus leaving the chickens starving and exposed to the elements. Surprisingly, our welcome to assist with the situation was as cold as the torrential downpour we arrived in.

The farmers who greeted us immediately sent us away with the warning that it was “too dangerous to be there with the backhoes”. Undeterred (there were 2 million lives at stake!) mom and I drove to one of the other sites with damaged sheds, without the dangers of backhoes, and delicately extracted as many frightened chickens from the exposed and twisted cages as we could.However, our liberation efforts were short-lived. Within a few minutes, the farmers arrived and this time were threatening to “prosecute” us for trespassing if we didn’t leave immediately thus, making it clear that it wasn’t our personal safety which concerned them. Discouraged and outraged, we left, and I immediately called PeTA who then instructed me to contact a newly formed, local group, Mercy for Animals. Ultimately Mercy for Animals coordinated in assisting the liberation of a couple hundred chickens from that terrible situation, and they also introduced me to a missing component I credit to my developmental vegan living and advocacy success.

When I connected with Mercy for Animals, I discovered a community of vegans and hence, was empowered to commit to being vegan (I was a 98% behavioral vegan for years by then, but still struggled and fell off the wagon occasionally in social or poorly planned dining situations) because now, FINALLY, I had the strength of a community. I was married then, and he had no interest in going vegetarian, let alone, vegan, and my mom wasn’t about to give up the dairy (an addiction- that took nearly 8 years for her to break- I’m so proud of her- she has been vegan since 2008!). Yet, this story would not be complete without other honorable mentions responsible for my awareness which includes some deeply profound books and films.

“Vegan: the New Ethics of Eating” by Eric Marcus, and “Mad Cowboy”, by Howard Lyman woke me up and lit a fire under me in more ways than one. Ironically, the Mad Cowboy further connected me to another local Columbus organization, the Wellness Forum, when they sponsored a seminar with Howard Lyman. The Wellness Forum then invited me to a free dinner which introduced me to thriving on a “whole-foods, plant-based” diet.

This was an extremely important event because my family has a long and seriously life shortening history of cardiovascular disease; all of my grandmother’s brothers died between 48 and 58 years of age due to heart attacks and strokes, and my grandmother suffered many heart attacks, strokes, stints, and even triple bypass surgery enduring a poor quality of life with more strokes for the last 10 years before she died, although, though she did ultimately eke out 83 years of life.

I discovered at about the same time that I had gone to this seminar, that after 27 years of eating animal products, including processed and fried foods, that I had developed a 30-50% blockage in my right carotid artery by the ripe, old age of 30. Ironically, this discovery happened while taking my mom to a free stroke screening in which I was given the opportunity to participate. I had some adjustments to make in my vegan diet that have allowed me to do vegan right, which means I’ve resolved the blockage entirely without drugs or procedure. There were other important health benefits as well. As a vegan; I went from formerly gaining on average one to two pounds a year (as a non-vegan) that I had been gaining from my senior year in high school and into my late 20’s, to loosing 25 unwanted pounds without any real effort. My weight at 5’3” has stabilized at between 100 and 105 pounds since living vegan. Before I was vegan, I had chronic pain from ovarian cysts, and headaches and would frequently rely on taking 800 mg of Ibuprofen to cope with it. I no longer take any over the counter medications for any pain and I no longer suffer ovarian cysts. My skin cleared up and I don’t have chronic bloating or constipation, or bouts of “stomach flu” (aka food poisoning from the toxic load of bacteria frequently infesting all animal products regardless of whether it is cooked properly) anymore, either. I thought these problems were normal. They aren’t, and they don’t have to be.

I’m pretty certain I was not on nearly the same path to “dietary excellence”, even as a vegan, because although I had quit the animal products, I was still eating lots of fried, sugar-laden, and processed vegan junk foods that would have continued to clog my arteries and defile my health and I possibly would have remained oblivious to other important health considerations, had I not been through their Wellness101 training course. How fortuitous it has proven to be that, living in alignment with my values (improving mental health with an internal state of happiness) has also revealed itself as the foundation of thriving, physical health I often refer to as, “The vegan fountain of youth.” It is an awesome and empowering thing to discover that genetics has a lot less to do with thriving health than keeping inherited, unhealthy, familial/cultural dietary and lifestyle patterns, habits and traditions.

I was the one who always loved animals growing up. When I finally investigated the details and found out what was happening to the animals not only on my plate, but in so many other foundational social behaviors; the zoo, rodeos, the fair, the amusement parks, the circus, in experimentation labs, in the death camp gas chambers we call animal shelters, I desperately wished that I had known sooner. I wished that children’s books like “Vegan is Love” or “That’s Why We Don’t Eat the Animals” by Ruby Roth existed back then. That would have helped my mom, and helped me, to make more informed and connected decisions consistent with our values. I wish that profoundly important films like “Earthlings”, “Making the Connection”, “Vegucated”, “Forks Over Knives” (ideally these films would be compulsory viewing for high school graduation) had been in existence when I was younger so I would have been awakened sooner to what I know with every fiber of my being is consistent with conscious and civilized human nature. I am so thankful that the information age is upon us, allowing us to rapidly share ideas and expose the invisible atrocities at the insidious foundation of our unconscious, ego-centric human cultures.

I sincerely hope that humanity can rapidly make the same connection because literally; trillions of lives and the prevention of, what this time will be a human caused, 6th great world extinction, is at stake. You don’t hear the fact in the daily news that 200 to 300 species are going extinct per day, which equates to the extinction of 20,000 to 30,000 species that are forever wiped off the face of the earth, yearly. The Western Black Rhino was declared extinct yesterday, the Cloud Leopard was declared extinct the day before. It is happening, and our misguided, egocentric, entitlement to produce livestock at world population now over 7 billion, is the leading cause of it.

When I was a child, I had no idea I wanted to be an ardent vegan advocate when I grew up, yet that has become the salient path and the most profound, unstoppable, meaning for my life and the millions of vegan influential advocates like Harold Brown of Farm Kind, Angie Palmer of Anjo films, Butterflies Katz of Gentle World, Carloyn Bailey of AR Zone, Damien Mander of IAPF, Kristin Lajeunesse of Will Travel for Vegan Food, James McWilliams of The Pitchfork, and so many others who are striving to empower a socially just society with a vegan shift that is in alignment with our values for love, respect, dignity, kindness, peace, liberty and justice… for all earthlings. Love life, live vegan!
Vegan Resources:

Treatise for a Vegan Shift: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/eriyahs-treatise-to-humankind-draft/51022483289
The Simple Solution is Getting the Elephant on the Table https://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=70604078289
Letter from a Vegan World- Joanna Lucas of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
http://www.peacefulprairie.org/outreach/letter.pdf
Animal Rights The Abolitionist Approach by Gary Francione
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/media/pdf/ARAA_Pamphlet.pdf
Blood and Soil: Lierre Keith, Michael Pollan, and the Trouble with Locavore Politics by John Sanbonmatsu
http://www.zcommunications.org/blood-and-soil-lierre-keith-michael-pollan-and-the-trouble-with-locavore-politics-by-john-sanbonmatsu
The Vegan rd Countering Claims Against Vegan Diets

Countering Claims Against Vegan Diets


http://www.wedge.coop/newsletter/august-september-2011/vegan-diets

Review of “The Vegetarian Myth”


Livestock and Climate Change by The World Watch Institute (states world livestock production contributes over 50% compared to world transport’s mere 13% to climate change)
http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf
Livestock’s Long Shadow by The UNFAO (stated livestock production contributes 17.5% compared to world transport’s 13% to climate change)
ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf
Putting Meat on the Table by The PEW Commission
http://www.livablefutureblog.com/pdf/Putting_Meat_on_Table_FULL.pdf
Position Paper of the American Dietetic Association on Vegetarian Diets
http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf
A Vegan but not an Activist? Sure. An animal lover but not a Vegan? Nope. By Stephanie Earnst
http://challengeoppression.com/2010/04/15/a-vegan-but-not-an-activist-sure-an-animal-lover-but-not-a-vegan-nope/
A Life Connected by Non-Violence United (11 min)
http://www.veganvideo.org/
Making the Connection by The Vegan Society (8 short vignettes 1 to 6 min each)
http://www.youtube.com/TheVeganSociety#p/u/0/8ZAHIB97iGY
Forks Over Knives
http://www.forksoverknives.com/
Plant-based Nutrition
http://tcolincampbell.org/
Plant Positive on Primitive Nutrition (the ultimate answer to the Paleo crowd):
http://www.plantpositive.com/
(Debunking Paleo propaganda) http://www.youtube.com/user/PrimitiveNutrition/videos

The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy

Indigenous veganism: Feminist Natives do eat tofu by Margaret Robinson
http://www.thescavenger.net/animals/indigenous-veganism-feminist-natives-do-eat-tofu-237794-504.html
The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle

Earthlings
http://www.earthlings.com/
Vegucated

The Politics of Extinction- Remain a parasite OR become an Earth Warrior By Captain Paul Watson
http://www.eco-action.org/dt/beerswil.html
Anjo Films: https://www.facebook.com/anjofilms
Angie Palmer: http://angiepalmer.wordpress.com/
AR Zone: https://www.facebook.com/groups/arzone/10152003839116457/?notif_t=group_comment_reply
Damien Mander TED “Modern Warrior”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FCsyK4aRXQ
Gentle World (vegan intentional community): http://gentleworld.org/
Farm Kind: http://www.farmkind.org/
Humans are Natural Plant Eaters: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html
James McWilliams The Pitchfork: http://james-mcwilliams.com/
Lantern Books: http://www.lanternbooks.com/
The Vegan Organic Network: http://veganorganic.net/
The Vegan Truth: http://thevegantruth.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-compilation-of-long-term-vegans-our.html
Veganic Farming: http://www.goveganic.net/
Will Travel for Vegan Food WTFVeganFood: http://wtfveganfood.com/

Other works by Eriyah Flynn aka The Ardent Vegan Advocate, Socially Just Dining (Column of the Columbus Free Press)and founder of Vegan Shift (300 Vegans Campaign, The Vegan Connection):

Socially Just Dining: http://columbusfreepress.com/columbus-freepress-sections/dining
Vegan Shift:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/veganshift
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/VEGANSHIFT/

Videos:

Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board “A New Baseline”: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=454784311860&set=vb.536286860&type=3&theater
TEDx Columbus tryout: “A Foundational Shift”: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151090569181861&set=vb.536286860&type=3&theater
300 Vegans (4 Independence)Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFi6a3AG3X8
Print:

Appeal to Bill McKibben 350.org: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/appeal-to-bill-mckibben-350org-by-eriyah-flynn-founder-coalition-for-planetary-h/10150426079393290

Facebook Notes and/or TAVA BlogPosts:

Autobiographical:

“Becoming the Ardent Vegan Advocate”:https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/becoming-the-ardent-vegan-advocate/10152134655098290

“My Last Day with My First Dog”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/my-last-day-with-my-first-dog/10151242786353290

“Treatise for a Vegan Shift”:https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/eriyahs-treatise-to-humankind-draft/51022483289

Advocacy Approach:

“Take the NASA Million Dollar Family Challenge”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/vegan-advocacy-101-tool-box-evolution-solutions-series-1-take-the-nasa-million-d/10150459461003290

Attention Vegans “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”:

Posted by Eriyah Flynn on Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vegan Shift Empowerment Strategic Implementation:

“You Can Catapult the World Vegan Shift”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/you-can-catapult-the-vegan-shift-lessons-learned-from-a-day-in-an-activists-emai/10150360243368290

Lobbying Packet Insert: “The Simple Solution is Getting the Elephant on the Table” https://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=70604078289

Letter to the Editor Sample: Published in the Columbus Dispatch 9.9.2013:

“Vegans Seek More Options When Dining Out”: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2013/09/09/vegans-seek-more-choices-when-dining-out.html

Opinion/Commentary:

“No Option” Is not an Option”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/no-option-is-not-an-option/10152017033138290

“Everyone Deserves Dessert”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/everyone-deserves-dessert/10151807961968290

“Breeding Pets”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/breeding-pets/10151613854623290

Vegan Resources Lists

Vegan Parenting Resources:

Posted by Eriyah Flynn on Monday, February 3, 2014

Artistic/Creative/Poetry:

“The Pink Lagoon”: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/the-pink-lagoon/10152152579153290

Original Facebook photo upload:

"The Pink Lagoon"The putrescent slime, it doesn’t go awayIt lingers on into future generationsIt once was a place of…

Posted by Eriyah Flynn on Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vegan Shift: https://www.facebook.com/notes/eriyah-flynn/vegan-shift-a-song/10151666423523290

Treatise for a Vegan Shift

People often ask me: “Why are you a vegan? Is it for ethical or health reasons?” as if it is a binary issue. Statements like this exemplify there is tremendous opportunity to raise the level of consciousness about the true insidious and pervasive impacts of the single behavior of an animal-based diet/culture. To illustrate this dilemma, I would share with you some facts that I have collected. Bear in mind, according to the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, there are 3 stages of truth: ridicule, violent opposition and acceptance. Please approach what I am about to share with an open mind and a spirit of understanding this critical issue.
ETHICS: Vegans are indeed individuals that recognize and respond with their behaviors consistently with the fact that animals are fellow sentient earthlings, other nations who share this planet, with the same inherent right to live free from human harm and exploitation as anyone. Although the term vegan is new (Vegan Society est. 1944), this recognition and behavior is not a new phenomenon, as many of the world’s most intelligent mental giants throughout historical millennia have all recognized this fact: Socrates, Seneca, Plato, Pythagoras, Buddha, Hippocrates, Da Vinci, Count Leo Tolstoy, Franklin, Albert Schweitzer, Einstein, Gandhi, Coretta Scott King and Stephen Hawking. Mahavira, the Jain patriarch of the sect of Indian culture over 6000 years old, taught “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture or kill any creature or living being.” In July of 2012, Stephen Hawking participated in the Francis Crick Memorial Conference where the world’s leading prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists gathered to share their latest findings on the comparisons of human and non-human brain functions, and it was at this meeting they drew up one of the most important documents for those engaged in the vegan/animal rights movement in support of what intelligent humans have intrinsically and instinctually understood for so long: The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness. The conclusions that animals experience life in the world equally to humans are solid, and this has a profound ramification wherein the only responsible reaction is a rapid vegan shift. While many people conveniently claim the vegan label for many different reasons (diet, allergies, optimal health, disease mitigation/prevention or reversal, environmental concerns, taste preference etc.) vegans are those who recognize animals are individuals and take specific actions in multiple ways (eating plant-based alternatives, supporting sanctuaries, instead of zoos or circuses that use animals, using alternative plant-based consumer products such as cosmetics, clothing and other textiles and goods that do not contain animal products or animal testing, and adopting from rescues and shelters instead of breeding or shopping for pets in recognition of that fact. Vegans chose to opt out of the system of exploitation as much as is practicable and possible in modern times. Vegan activists engage society and the power structure to empower a vegan shift.

SCALE: Over 300 million American’s demand for animal products equates to 10 BILLION land and 17 BILLION aquatic animals unnecessarily slaughtered in this country a year. Someone once helped me conceptualize this as such; if you count to a million by 1 number per second, it will take you 12 days- if you count to a billion by 1 number per second, and it will take you 32 YEARS. 27 BILLION animals are mercilessly and reprehensibly contract killed a year on behalf of the American public. As much as we would like to deceive ourselves, this cannot be done humanely. Besides, how is unnecessary killing ever humane? Humane means the best in humanity: Kindness, love, compassion, empathy, respect, dignity, justice etc. Humane cannot ever mean killing someone who is perfectly healthy in the prime of their life, unnecessarily, and certainly not for a mere taste preference, or even culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction. Truth, justice and liberty can never and will never logically equal the following mentality “Do not tread on my right to tread on others.” that pervades the current human perspective. Globally, the animals destroyed figure skyrockets to 70 Billion animals (which does not include aquatic life- which escalates the sentient lives taken into the trillions). At this rate, global fisheries are collapsing as the majority of them have been over-fished. Over 90% of the larger ocean fish are at critically low populations. Unless we do an immediate plant-based shift in our social infrastructures, we will witness the greatest specter of human caused global collapse of the previous 5 mass extinctions in earth’s history.
CARBON PRODUCING/CLIMATE CHANGE: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” in 2006 identified livestock as the leading human contributing cause of climate change. Global Warming CO2 emissions from agricultural livestock equate to 18%; exceeding the mere 13% the most widely held assumption of world transport by 40%. The World Watch Institute also issued a follow-up study “Livestock and Climate Change” to the original UNFAO study, stating the impacts of livestock are much greater- 51%. It has been made clear that a vegan in a hummer does more for the environment than a non-vegan on a bicycle. Mainstream media, our government and even environmental groups and leaders (Greenpeace, We-Can, Repower America, Rainforest Action Network, 350 etc.) have failed to inform the public of this critical factor and make it part of their campaign strategies. Everyone is being told to conserve energy by buying CFL light bulbs and hybrid vehicles or invest in expensive and dangerous deep drilling carbon sequestration, and alternative energies- which although they are helpful, are environmentally intensive, polluting and most of which many people can’t afford to do anytime soon. Other campaigns include divestiture and civil disobedience including arrest. Why aren’t they offering such a simple solution of at least eating a plant-based diet? Everyone can do it locally, affordably, sustainably, TODAY, starting with their next meal!
WATER: Intensive and polluting- Animal agriculture is EXTREMELY water intensive- not just to irrigate crops to feed livestock and water for them to drink. CLEANING those to prep for slaughter or milking and cleaning livestock processing facilities uses tremendous amounts of water. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of water pollution via agricultural runoff from industrialized conventional chemical dependent farming practices. In addition the animal waste run off ends up contaminating water supplies and surrounding crops lands and causing horrible bacterial outbreaks such as Phiesteria, e-coli, MRSA and salmonella causing flesh eating suffering and death of wildlife and people. To make 1 lb of “meat” it takes 2,500 gallons of water, to make 1 gallon of milk it takes 750 gallons of water. Living vegan can save 1.3 million gallons of water a year. Potable water is becoming scarcer every day, so polluting what is left of it is ensuring desperate times ahead. Did you know the lack of potable water is the number 1 killer of humans worldwide? http://h2opodcast.com/water3.html#mb
NATIONAL SECURITY: How we use water today determines how much longer we will have it to use at all in the future. It affects our nation’s security as wars will be started to gain control over this precious necessary resource. Private corporations, such as Nestle and Coke are already jockeying for complete control of the world’s dwindling fresh water resources. (Flow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO2rPUkKGww ) and disaster preparedness plans need to be ready for when it does happen. The ancient and massive Ogallala Aquifer, which spans from Texas to the Dakotas, and has taken millions of years to accumulate, is expected to be depleted within the next decade due to our consumption vastly exceeding the hydrologic cycle’s ability to replenish it. This is a major source of water for Midwestern crops; 90% oats, 80% soy, 70% corn (genetically modified megalithic mono-crops where former forest land has been cleared to create) are grown here and primarily being fed to “livestock”. (“Mad Cowboy” by Howard Lyman 1998). Furthermore, we are meddling in other nation’s affairs, to create the level of consumption that has jeopardized our national security (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins) Our nation’s population needs to be educated of these facts and our policy makers need to act.
ECONOMICS: Our laws and economics need to be changed, re-factored and implemented to include environmental costs and sustainability thresholds and no longer reliant on increased population for growth- or we will literally consume ourselves. It takes 500 years to accumulate 1 inch of topsoil and we have consumed the majority of topsoil around the world already. A massive project to review intensive and inefficient uses of fresh water and including those that pollute it and prohibit issuing and renewing of permits for those operations; especially CAFOs and slaughterhouses. The PEW Commission report, “Putting Meat on the Table” in (April 2008) conceded “CAFOs are unsustainable.” for many reasons, and contribute directly to factors such as rising healthcare costs, and even more frightening; antibiotic resistance/ineffectiveness. A new approach to economics and agriculture must include the P4. P4 (PPPP)- Purpose, People, Planet, Probity (or Purity or Principles). http://www.businessballs.com/ethical_management_leadership.htm This can only exist in a post- revolutionary world vegan shift and to redefine laws that end the control of corporate money in our present governmental processes. Bottom line: NO ECOLOGY = NO ECONOMY
HUMAN RIGHTS AND HEALTH (Physical & Mental): Livestock production practices need to end immediately. No one really wants to do these jobs. They are extremely dangerous, and unhealthy, both mentally and physically, for workers who must desensitize themselves and objectify these beings to function in this horrifically insane reality. Studies by The Animals and Society Institute have proven this has a backlash on the communities that support these workers as they are more inclined to commit violent crimes. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the town butchers were recruited to run the ovens and gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps. Who else could do such a thing but those who can desensitize themselves to committing violent acts against the weakest, defenseless, sentient beings who equally warrant freedom, dignity, respect, mercy and compassion? Slaughterhouse workers are ranked as “unskilled labor”, yet these extremely dangerous jobs, quintessentially described as “jobs Americans won’t do” engenders a system exploiting “illegal” migrant workers who often become indentured servants and are frequently sexually assaulted, abused, injured and disabled with no legal recourse. The domestic, “legal US resident” of the mentally challenged demographic are also often recruited for these jobs for similar reasons; they don’t know their rights and they will take the abuse. This is an exploitative system in every way! (Slaughterhouse-Gail A. Eisnitz) (Fast Food Nation- Morgan Spurlock).
POLLUTION, DEGRADATION and CONTAMINATION: Animal Agriculture primarily via Concentrated/Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) also known as factory farms, generate waste measuring 86,000 lbs of a concentrated toxic chemical soup of hormones, antibiotics, steroids and the myriad of chemical fertilizers and “cides” laden dung (compared to the organic dung of the past) per second! (www.veganvideo.org)The truth is if we weren’t farming so intensively to inefficiently feed our crops to feed other animals and further degrading our lands with over grazing, our soils would not be so depleted and furthermore polluted by tons of petroleum based and carcinogenic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, larvicides, pesticides and genetically modified foods. The leading cause of erosion and desertification is animal agriculture (Livestock’s Long Shadow) Do you realize conventionally grown foods contain 50% less nutritional value than organic foods? (www.ota.com/organic/benefits/nutrition.html) This directly contributes to the over 80,000 manmade chemicals finding their way into the fresh and salt waters of the world. (www.livingdownstream.com) Furthermore, plants don’t eliminate (as in defecate or urinate) or spread infectious disease. The waste from livestock excretions contains significant amount of drugs in addition to the vector of deadly infectious diseases (MRSA/E-coli/Salmonella/Phisteria etc.) it creates for humans and non-humans. The FDA has known since at least 1983 that America’s conventional meat (and dairy) supply is contaminated with 500-600 chemicals not listed on the label. http://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/15/style/residue-of-chemicals-in-meat-leads-to-debate-on-hazards.html
RAINFOREST DESTRUCTION/ECOCIDE: Are you aware that over 90% of the Amazon has been burned to the ground displacing and killing countless aboriginal humans, flora and fauna to provide monocrops such as GMO soy predominantly to feed livestock (not humans), so Western countries such as ours can gratuitously gorge on cheap burgers and ice cream? It doesn’t get any more obscene to think we are extinguishing people, animals, biodiversity and destroying the world’s oxygen producer and beautiful places for unnecessary and disease causing animal products. Are you aware only 4% of the old growth redwoods are left in the pacific northwest? Are you aware that millions of our tax payer dollars are used to destroy wild mustangs, wolves, prairie dogs and other wildlife that are mercilessly gunned down, trapped, poisoned or slaughtered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service because they are blamed for competing for resources on public lands leased by livestock ranchers?http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/prog_data/2009_prog_data/PDR_G_FY09/Basic_Tables_PDR_G/Table_G_FY2009_Long_Method_Featured.pdf
Does this not infuriate you? Are you aware that due to inefficient human activities at current human population levels and exploitation that over 30,000 to 50,000 species are going extinct per year- 1,000 times faster than natural rates? The ecological scientists are claiming the Earth is in the throes of the 6th great extinction, and unlike the past, it is because of human (anthropogenic) exploits. This should trump any news we are talking about anywhere and massive summits should be discussing the serious efforts of solving this crisis threatening all life on earth as we know it (technically they are, but they are calling it “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” and going after energy instead of recognizing the real root cause)!!
POPULATION EXPLOSION: Look at this trend in population growth:
1800 = 1 Billion.
1930 = 2 Billion.
1960 = 3 Billion
1975 = 4 Billion
1990 = 5 Billion
1998 = 6 Billion
As of 2012: 7 BILLION and counting – at this population level- what we do really matters.
This is a seriously catastrophic game changer!!! We also need to address population stabilization and reverse this trend of developing countries thinking they’ve arrived because they are now introducing gratuitous meat consumption via marketing franchises such as McDeath’s to demographics (India and China) that previously didn’t consume animal products as a staple. (Animal agribusiness has moved to these regions to create demand as it is tapering off in the Western countries as they have become aware of the problems.) New countries are already rapidly becoming newly plagued with the chronic diseases of the Western diet. I challenge people to abandon the absurd farce and delusion that animal products are a symbol of “affluence” and “prestige”, and recognize animal products for what they truly are in this evolution of our civilization and population;
1) A morally reprehensible and unnecessary yet heinously cruel, barbaric, behavior adapted as uncivilized Neanderthals that is so offensive now, most people (especially adults) refuse to be confronted with graphics of it and immaturely cover their ears and eyes and make loud noises to drown out the truth, or hostilely berate people when they share the truth; as if we have a right to shun personal responsibility and remain ignorant of and sheltered from the consequences of our behavior. If graphic slaughterhouse commercials were allowed to run as often as the cultural programming for fast food and pharmaceutical commercials, the public would most likely be vitally healthy vegans instead of the disease ridden, pill popping, depressed and disengaged population it is today. The veil of deception and societal ignorance is being eroded by a committed group of citizens now numbering in the millions (including well known societal icons) to expose the reality of our food. The USDA is seeing the effects of this in decreases in sales of these inhumane products and a substantial market demand increase toward plant-based alternatives. This isn’t a fad; it is a trend of an informed public who has a conscience or at least enough self-interest not to destroy itself. This should be the foreshadowing of the economic futility and ultimate death of animal exploitation and abysmal failing of what is morally and ethically right towards other sentient beings; fellow earthlings, that deserve to live free from all methods of human supremacy and exploitation. The only thing that allows us to treat them the way we do is to justify their subjugation and exploitation through a concept defined as speciesism. Although this term or concept may not be recognized or understood by the current prevailing numbers of society, in this age of information, people are rapidly becoming aware of it, and society’s behavior shifts are supporting this. Just as sexism is ethically inconsistent, or racism is ethically inconsistent; speciesism is ethically inconsistent. “Animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites, or women created for men.” – Alice Walker. This alone, is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.
2) THE LEADING CAUSE OF air/water and soil pollution and environmentally unsustainable travesty rapidly accelerating biodiversity extinction to the loss of 20,000 species a YEAR via; rain-forest annihilation, ocean dead zones, desertification, erosion, over-harvesting and climate change. Rueter’s Reported in 2007 that at the current rates of exploitation, our ocean’s biodiversity will totally collapse by 2048. Similar studies have proven to be wrong- it usually happens sooner than predicted. Since those statistics were stated, additional catastrophic pressures have occurred: BP Gulf Disaster, and the Fukushima Diiachi core meltdown that has yet to contained, and continues spewing nuclear waste particles into the atmosphere and ocean, unabated. Reports state that it will be over a decade before the Japanese can get this travesty under control! Meanwhile, all species are being slowly, cumulatively, irradiated. This toxic energy waste, which I will point out, is needed predominantly to support the total inefficiency of a social infrastructure based on animal use. The majority of fossil fuels are used to produce the billions of gallons of petroleum based fertilizers, pesticides, larvicides, fungicides, herbicides etc., to produce the majority of our crops in addition to the actual toxic excrement of 10 billion “livestock” pumped full of chemicals (antibiotics, growth hormones etc.) annually. This alone, is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.
3) The LEADING contributor to the top 15 chronic diseases that kill Americans; Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes and a myriad of others. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/ This is what happens when natural herbivores cavalierly behave (or are forced- think Mad Cow and other brain wasting diseases that herbivores fed animal protein get) as if they are omnivores. http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html
If mankind had truly evolved to eat animals, we wouldn’t get degenerative diseases from eating them. People are discovering as medical research advancements continue to prove, that humans can thrive and are healthier eating an organic, whole-foods, plant-based diet; animal products are not necessary for dietary excellence. We have degenerated to using steroids, antibiotics, hormones, irradiation, spraying bacterial viruses, dyes, pasteurizing, homogenizing and requiring the cooking of to destroy the blood, pus and fecal matter enough to make it palatable, appetizing and supposedly safe for consumption. Vegans, and any intelligent individual should, recognize this is NOT NATURAL or SAFE!!! Animal product consumption is the leading cause of human exposure to toxic biomagnification levels of a post industrialization society with over 80,000 toxic chemicals being introduced into our environment! Does this not enrage you? Read “The China Study” or “Whole” by T. Collin Campbell or “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Caldwell Esselstyn or “Dr. Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes” by Neal Barnard. Total disinformation is what happens when the country’s governmental organizations are corrupted by corporations and our educational institutions have disconnected control over content. Why does the College of Agriculture run the Human Nutrition programs instead of the College of Human Health Sciences? Can you see the screaming conflict of interest? Telling people these products are nutritious with so much evidence to the contrary and the consequential human and animal suffering. This alone is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit, trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.
4) A Serious NATIONAL SECURITY RISK – Failed states do not increase global or national security. We may have failed states in our own nation in the nearing decade if we do not change our practices today. What is our contingency plan for massive immigration into water rich states when water resources dry up in neighboring states tomorrow due to negligence of our policy makers today? Do our resources, disaster preparedness and ethical laws need a serious review and expedited update to account for this? Will Americans be faced with the ethical dilemma of being called into military service to defend the state against other Americans or perhaps Canadians in the fight for potable water resources? How many wars will be waged over this resource? Americans account for 5% of the world’s population and it is well documented that we consume over 25% of the world’s resources. If the world ate and lived as Americans, it would take the resources of 5 earths. This creates an aggressive culture in which we dominate other nations to get their resources, as so clearly implicated in the war with Iraq for control of oil and minerals. It is a national security issue that is completely avoidable. The sooner Americans stop living lives that require our political meddling and control of other counties and living within our means, the safer we will be as a world and a country. Read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins or “Interventions” by Noam Chompsky or “The Decline and Fall of the American Empire” by Gore Vidal if you doubt me. This alone is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.

5) Grossly contributes to economic failure, quality of life (due to all the costs and subsidization) environmental damages, researching and treating diseases associated with it. Society is reaching a tipping point towards recognizing how pernicious and pervasive this practice of “livestock” production really is. The Department of Agriculture, state policy makers, and federal government leaders should stop wasting time, effort and resources trying to cling to bad behaviors (slaughter) and a woefully inadequate job of engineering (CAFOs & GMOs) a way around this, while putrefying our environment and attempting to stave off animal rights activists with liberty killing tactics such as: Veggie Libel Laws, Food Disparagement Laws, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and now the AG-GAG laws which have made capturing the violations on film as an undercover investigator a felony offense. Our leaders ought to have the vision to see the path of social justice for all, and should instead be; using all resources available in planning our exit strategy from this catastrophic behavior, phasing these practices out and phasing in green energy and highly lucrative plant based agriculture initiatives such as legalizing and farming industrial grade hemp which can make upwards of 1500 different textiles and is a booming industry for nutritional protein/omega 3/6 amino acids and cosmetics or research and the development of Algal bio-fuels. Ohio, a presently decomposing and polluting rust belt manufacturing state, could be revitalized into a thriving golden greenbelt state if we invested in local companies like Univenture in Marysville, Ohio, that could produce over 39 billion dollars of oil on a mere 3% of our agricultural lands and create 79,000 “green collar” jobs and stop paying for OPEC’s foreign oil. WHY are we not doing this? WHY are we killing senselessly, polluting our home and causing wars??? This alone is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.
6) Does America want to be on the leading edge of progress or suffer economically failing before it sees the benefits of phasing out this barbaric throwback? In a time of the state’s, nation’s and world’s economic crisis (this was originally written in 2009 immediately following the global financial collapse), our leadership needs to be coming up with solutions that save money and create economic stability; not continuing a failing technology that has been weighed, measured and found extremely wanting by respected scientific and agricultural research agency studies! The nation’s financial pressures from litigation and regulatory spending, enforcement, health care funds can be better spent and remarkably reduced if we abolished all animal exploitation operations in the country and didn’t have to regulate enforcement of them. I, and I believe if Americans were educated on the matter, that they would also happily approve the subsidizing of grant or loan processes for the decommissioning and retrofitting of those facilities and the sanctuary care of the refugees of this process, cross training the farmers, and implementation for all farmers who are currently using animals in their agribusiness platform to green energy and plant based technologies and plant-based versions of their favorite formerly animal derived products. This investment would pay for itself within a few short years and catapult our state’s sustainability and economic growth prospects. I know this is a radical proposal, yet it makes sense and will succeed by educating the public at large of its value. Preference, culture, tradition, habit, addictions, ignorance, or corporate interests are not acceptable options to continue this unnecessary practice and ignore the facts of our grave situation as described above. We could be the first country in the world to ban and transition any and all CAFO and animal farms. That is something to be proud of. I was an animal-based diet eating American who loved our food and the culture I was raised on until I got an education and discovered the numerous facts above that compelled me to go vegan and discover what can be a “plant-strong” diet. It is the only choice that is consistently humane and ethical. As with the concept of accepting wind mills and solar panels as things of beauty instead of eye sores, the concept that our animal-based diet and culture is one of privilege and affluence, must be redefined and recognized for what it truly is; catastrophic, unsustainable, unhealthy, inhumane and must, as Albert Einstein recognized more than 60 years ago “evolve to a vegetarian (plant-based/vegan) diet.” A vegan shift must be done with the speed tantamount to a war effort mobilization and unlike so many green energy improvements such as hybrid vehicles, solar panel modifications or weatherization projects; it is one thing everyone can afford to do, TODAY, starting with their next meal. I have faith that Americans, once provided the facts behind this suggestion, can do as I did, and overcome the habit of eating animal products by showing their palate some adventure and discovering the abundance of delicious and alternative foods they never knew existed that are available to them. This alone is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.
7) There is overwhelming evidence that CAFO’s negatively affect the communities they move into; we want to move forward. America needs skilled jobs that promote economic gains, prosperity, pride and peace, not jobs that are classified/personified as “jobs American’s don’t want to do” or bring nothing but a day-in and day-out exposure to violence, oppression, respiratory illness, noxious odors, poor quality of life, polluted water and unscrupulous risks to climate change, our sustainable environment, public health and the workers personal safety (mentally and physically). We have long known our inspectors are spread too thin to adequately ensure public safety in this area of CAFO’s. We also know that they are often too cozy to regulate those they work alongside. The implications of this are: violations on health and humane slaughter standards go unheeded, undocumented, unprosecuted. We know this is happening. There is a reason that green houses have transparent glass walls and slaughterhouses and animal farms have obscuring steel and mortar walls. Both need sunlight to grow and thrive. It is okay to see what is done to grow plants, but what is done to the animals is so violent, horrible and disgusting it must be hidden? This alone is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.
8) World Citizen & Individual Responsibility- Environmental degradation is a cumulative effect of the actions each one of us takes, therefore, the solution lies within each one of us. Eating is a fundamental behavior that should be recognized as one of the single most, far reaching, and negative impacts that threatens sustainable life on earth. We are global citizens: we must consider our impacts outside ourselves. The self-centered “personal freedom of choice” or “to each his own preference” days are gone, and are now trumped by the informed ethics of personal responsibility. As the nation leading the world in carbon footprint /consumption per capita and leader of “The Free World”, Americans have a ethical obligation to lead the world as well in this way towards peace thru kindness to those at our mercy and environmental sustainability, vibrant health and well-being. There is no love, peace or compassion in unnecessary killing. We must “be the change we wish to see in the world,” if we do not recognize our hubris to cease and desist this barbaric behavior immediately, not only will we will go extinct, we will be primarily responsible for taking down 98% of all species; truly leaving the meek algae to inherit the earth and probably within the next 50 to 100 years. I can’t think of a more terribly moronic behavior for a species that fancies themselves as the most intelligent on the planet. This alone is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction.
9) As an animal lover who also was raised to eat animals and didn’t really contemplate or investigate where my “food” actually came from for the first 26 years of my life, I had conformed and mindlessly bought into the mantra of my culture; “That is their purpose- it is what they are bred and raised for”. It is one thing to be told animal products come from animals, it is another thing entirely to actually witness the processes involved on the level of seeing the oppression, torture and violent deaths that are inflicted on innocent fully sentient and conscious individuals in the animal harming known as “farming” system. When I did finally discover what was happening to the animals raised for “food”, I was so viscerally outraged and so emotionally pained by what I had witnessed, I screamed the most blood curdling, soul piercing, scream I have ever screamed and unabashedly wept into the abyss of despair. I raged “WHY DIDN’T MY TEACHERS, MY FAMILY, MY GOVERNMENT, SOMEBODY, ANYBODY TELL ME???? Had I known as a youth, I would have been vegan immediately. PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THE TRUTH! IF THIS ATROCITY WILL NOT SURVIVE BECAUSE OF AN INFORMED PUBLIC THEN IT SHOULD NOT CONTINUE TO BE INSIDIOUSLY FOISTED ON AN UNSUSPECTING PUBLIC AND DESERVES TO FAIL!!!!!” While I am haunted by what I have seen and often still weep, I’m now organized, galvanized and unstoppable in my odyssey to inform the masses of this global injustice. Hiding the facts behind this wretched industry that this alone is so ethically and morally reprehensible that by its own merit trumps: preference, culture, tradition, personal freedom, corporate interests, habit or addiction. I implore you to join us and making a rapid world vegan shift if you have not yet done so, for the people, for the planet, and for the animals.
Peace thru kindness to all beings.
Love life, Live Vegan!

References/Sources:
The Vegan Society: http://www.vegansociety.com/society/history
Jainsm: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism
The Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness: http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf
Flow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO2rPUkKGww
NYT Residue of Chemicals in Meat Leads to Debate on Hazards: http://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/15/style/residue-of-chemicals-in-meat-leads-to-debate-on-hazards.html
Humans are Plant Eaters: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report “Livestock’s Long Shadow”
ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e00.pdf
The World Watch Institute report “Livestock and Climate Change”
http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf
The Pew Charitable Trusts Commission and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health- A Report of the PEW Commission Industrial Farm Animal Production: Putting Meat of the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America
http://ncifap.org/bin/e/j/PCIFAPFin.pdf
A life Connected: http://veganvideo.org/
P4 (PPPP) Purpose, People, Planet, Probity (or Purity or Principles). http://www.businessballs.com/ethical_management_leadership.htm
Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/ Humans are Plant Eaters http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html
Water: http://h2opodcast.com/water3.html#mb