"This Is Hope" is a crossover book for self-identified environmentalists, species rights advocates, vegans and vegetarians, those dedicated to true sustainability, fish and wildlife "management" professionals, students of deep ecology, and those who want to know the biocentric solutions for our dietary, consumer, and reproductive choices.
Will’s Blog

Is Amazon’s Whole Foods Market a Vegan’s Friend or Foe?

Whole Foods Market sign on roof of store

When Amazon.com bought Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017, some vegans assumed it would be a massive boost to veganism. It’s easy to see why: Self-described vegan CEO John Mackey remained in his position, and with such an enormous infusion of cash from Amazon’s winner-take-all Jeff Bezos, additional Whole Foods Market stores would expand public access to vegan food. More Whole Foods Market locations equal more vegans, right? Not necessarily. There’s a missing ingredient in Whole Foods’ recipe I’ll get to in a moment.

Inside A Whole Foods Market Store

I occasionally shop at Whole Foods Market (“Whole Foods”) when I can’t get to my favorite Seattle grocer, Vegan Haven. Though there’s much to appreciate at Whole Foods, its allegiance to animal agriculture is visible everywhere. This is my attempt to understand how vegan food is presented to shoppers compared to other dietary practices and beliefs. I looked for this store’s vegan footprint on the customer experience.

With thousands of products in each Whole Foods store, I had no practical way to inventory what was and was not vegan food accurately. The best I could do at the start was to compare the approximate length and height of coolers and freezers that prominently display meat, “dairy,” eggs, and fish to that of vegan products refrigerated and frozen along the walls. It wasn’t as easy doing this in the aisles away from the walls because the boxed, bottled, and canned foods were thoroughly mixed, vegan and nonvegan. I next considered the permanent signs Whole Foods uses to promote specific foods.

Together, these high-visibility food displays, mixed content on aisle shelves, and prominent signs are what I took to represent what Whole Foods wants shoppers to see, feel, and understand about the dietary aspect of veganism among the many other beliefs focused on food choices.* And, of course, what it wants to sell the most.

In the high-profile displays lining store walls, the lives and deaths of animals overwhelmed all else.** The food shelves and freezers along the aisles were difficult to quantify but are far more vegan-friendly, though diluted with “vegetarian” and similar animal-based products. Even with a considerable selection of vegan food in some areas, you will see no, or next to no signs that assure and excite shoppers about vegan food as it does for “animal products.” Whole Foods makes us work to read labels and look for third-party vegan certifications. The one exception I saw was a sign for vegan Beyond Meat products.

Wholly Obvious

From this exercise, two realizations followed. The first is that even if Whole Foods Market stocked two-thirds of the store with vegan foods, the remaining travesty and endorsement of nonvegan offerings would do just as much harm as it does at present. The second is that the informational content of the store is as important as the food.

Whole Foods Market signage is a monument to animal agriculture. The most substantial signs were above “animal products”: “Seafood,” “Butcher,” “Dairy,” “Eggs,” “Cheese,” “Yogurt,” “Chicken,” “Beef,” “Veal,” and more. I found one sign among them that noted “Vegan and Alternative.”

With death to be found in every aisle, Whole Foods does not proactively encourage and educate its customers about why vegan diets are essential to the survival of people, species, ecosystems, and ethical living. As Whole Foods celebrates and normalizes the abuse and violence of sentient beings and ecosystems through its endless promotion of meat, fish, egg, and “dairy” consumption, it leaves vegan food and our hope for humankind on the butcher’s block.***

We understand why, like businesses in general, Whole Foods wants to attract and sell to as many types of consumers as possible. Whole Foods wants sales that conform to its laudable organic, health-food brand, but I saw no indication that this company cares whether its customers identify as vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, omnivore, or “whole foodist.”

Not Addicted to Love

There’s a reason why Whole Foods Market appears to be financially addicted to omnivore demands for dead animals and the products they produced while temporarily alive. The addiction exists because Whole Foods Market has convinced its customers that the meat, fish, “dairy,” and eggs it sells are exempt from further moral and environmental considerations. When Whole Foods didn’t energetically invest in explaining and promoting the vegan diet and compare its benefits to products taken from animals, it ensured their customers’ demand for killing would continue.

Failing Grades

Over Whole Foods’ long, gleaming white cases filed with meat is the huge sign, “Butcher.” Other large signs declare that the remains of cows, pigs, chickens, lamb (who are less than one year old) and others are evaluated through a “5-Step Animal Welfare Grading” system. Whole Foods uses “the system” to persuade its customers that it objectively measures how “humane” a life and death those sentient beings had before being killed. This high-visibility approval reassures shoppers that it’s good to buy into violence and exploitation that leads to death. In reality, the “5-Step Animal Welfare Grading” system fails to grade itself; it can’t measure and account for the depraved injustices and violent attacks it approves against defenseless lives being snuffed and sold. It’s an empty and heartless gesture.

Whole Foods messaging for animal-killing and exploitation is a direct refutation of the reasons for and values behind vegan foods. If there were an equal or greater promotion of vegan products, we’d see signs telling customers the truth that no animals were harmed and that ecological and resource impacts are a fraction of that coming from meat, “seafood,” “dairy,” and eggs. The absence of “vegan” signs is as anti-animal and anti-vegan as those that celebrate butchery.

The Plants Are Coming!

The emerging presence of one hundred percent plant-derived protein and similar vegan offerings will soon be available nearly everywhere in the U.S. within several years. Restaurants, “burger” drive-ins, and as we are already witnessing, mainstream grocery stores will expose more people to at least some categories of vegan foods than the 500 Amazon-fueled Whole Foods stores: Albertsons Companies (2,300+); Kroger Companies (2,460+); and Walmart (5,000+).

Those companies are not proactive advocates for vegans and veganism either, but the combined new availability of vegan foods coming to mainstream stores has the tipping-point potential for growing more vegans than Whole Foods, especially if it continues its current omnivore strategy. Costco already sells more organic food than anyone and is introducing vegan meals in its cafes, but otherwise, it is far behind the ethics of Whole Foods. Still lacking is an abundance of new, entirely vegan stores that will sell more than groceries. They will sell veganism.

Whole Foods Market, again like mainstream food stores, takes no stance on whether killing and consuming animals for their “products” is wrong or even less desirable than how vegan food is sourced. If you had hoped or even dreamed that Whole Foods would eventually lead, educate, and support its customers in ending the inescapable abuse, violence, threats to health, and environmental impacts of animal agriculture, keep hoping but withhold your praise.

It looks like Jeff Bezos doesn’t see or understand that vision as he is preparing to open a new grocery chain not based on the Whole Foods model. John Mackey, who recently wrote that a diet of ten percent meat was just fine because one could still stay healthy, has seemingly reached the end of his concerns, but I hope not.

How Unique and for How Long?

There is a lot to praise about Whole Foods Market including its LEED-certified buildings, a dedication to locally-sourced organic suppliers, supporting communities and causes, a wonderful if unaffordable for most selection of produce, and encouraging people to think, up to a point, about food. However, that’s not unique. It is similar to stores like the Seattle area chain of PCC Community Markets (a co-op) that aggressively pushes meat, “dairy,” fish, and eggs with paltry vegan offerings. Both businesses teach people not to think about what humankind must actually do to stop the tragedies and disasters we ignite with the food in our mouths.

For the moment, Whole Foods Market may be the only place vegan foods are available in some areas. However, that’s where it ends, as this commercial shows us. Perhaps Whole Foods Market may decide to stay where it is in the food industry niche, or with competition from mainstream stores, evolve its brand to nurture a demand for vegan food and the good it creates. As I experience it, Whole Foods Market sabotages the reasons anyone would consider vegan food (and veganism) by creating as much incentive, storytelling, and demand for killing animals as it can while offering a muted presentation of all things vegan.

What’s the missing ingredient? An honest commitment to ecosystems and justice through nonviolence for all beings. It is important to understand the Whole Foods Market company recipe for what it is: “beef” stew with some carrots tossed in for color.

NOTES– * Some of the difference in the size of displays dedicated to specific products is a reflection of which companies can afford to pay Whole Foods Market for shelf space in prime areas of the store. Those fees and other imposed costs can reach 300 thousand dollars. ** I used my stride to measure the approximate length of these display cases. Many free-standing displays in the store were important to my task but difficult to measure. Being flat-topped and one level, compared to other displays, I discounted them and left it at fifty-fifty neutral. As I describe, these rough measures fell mostly by the wayside when I realized other factors were more important. ** I didn’t include nonfood items such as cleaning products, body care, clothing, and wine, but some are vegan no matter where you shop. Ordinary products like pickles, ketchup, and plant milk were plentiful, but are commonly available in mainstream stores and do not indicate a Whole Foods effort to stock “vegan.”

Why do vegans allow vegetarianism to define veganism?

Shake hands, declare independence 

We must end our non-critical acceptance of vegetarianism’s influence and power over veganism. Though unintentional, vegetarianism will continue to harm and subvert veganism’s progress until vegans stand up to claim and control veganism’s definition and affirm that it is an entirely different belief system and way of life. It’s been this way so long that it may not be obvious, but it’s there for all to see.

By definition, vegetarianism allows the option of consuming animal products, which is a direct and open acceptance of the violence and endless harm it does. In the minds of its practitioners, vegetarianism is an intention to create good as an improvement in one’s health, a belief it will stop the suffering and killing caused from eating flesh, and perhaps to believe it is a temporary place for transition to veganism. Those assumptions don’t stand up to scrutiny. What vegetarianism does is transfer predation through eating flesh to predation through dairy and egg consumption. Cows and their calves, chickens and their chicks are still harmed and slaughtered at a young age in animal agriculture due to the demands of vegetarianism.

 

Veganism up to now has allowed itself to be associated with and defined as just one of many types of vegetarianism whose practitioners overwhelmingly consume dairy and/or eggs, honey—and sometimes outside of vegetarianism’s expectations—also eat fish and other animal-derived substances.

Lumping types of vegetarianisms together causes havoc with food labeling and consumer understanding of what is and is not effective to reduce suffering and end the killing of source animals. Vegetarianism causes unnecessary destruction to ecosystems that in turn impoverishes wildlife and people alike. Because we care to our core about these tragedies, we have a duty to turn this around and prevent them with veganism.

The Vegetarian Society, founded in 1847, is still home to the 1800’s development of the concept of vegetarianism and sees it this way: “A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs [my emphasis]. A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish*, insects, by-products of slaughter or any food made with processing aids created from these.”

That the Vegetarian Society and many similar organizations believe stealing calves’ milk from the females’ udders, and eggs coming from an ovulating bird through her uterus do not come from “any part of the body of a living…animal” is preposterous. Their milk and eggs are biologically intimate and as necessary for cow and chicken existence as blood and muscle. The simple fact that the business of stealing calves’ milk and chickens’ eggs harms them to an early death should end this nonsense.  Read more ›

Are Vegans Vegetarians? Conclusion

We lost the struggle for the original definition of “vegetarianism” and “vegetarian” in 1847, 168 years ago. That’s when dairy- and egg-consumption became acceptable to the Vegetarian Society. Donald Watson and his peers were right in 1944 to in effect regain the original intent of the term vegetarian (-ism) by declaring themselves “vegan” and founding the Vegan Society. Vegans are now the original vegetarians.

It’s true that Watson described himself and veganism as being part of the vegetarian movement.[i] But in this, the 21st century, it’s time to acknowledge what is self-evident: Veganism has become smothered as a lesser idea struggling for air and the truth of what it accomplishes. Veganism, as I have documented, is defined as just one of many types of vegetarianism. Organizations and businesses have demonstrated they are afraid of or don’t care about “vegan” because they can operate or turn a profit using the more generic, decidedly nonvegan word, “vegetarian.” In the preceding four parts I described and gave evidence for the confusion this creates, how it diminishes veganism. Unlike veganism, all other vegetarian-isms (excepting fruitarianism) harm and eventually kill chickens and chicks, cows and calves, goats and kids, and camels and their calves.

India’s 375 million lacto-vegetarians represent some 70% of the estimated half-billion vegetarians in the world and are glued to their cultural and religious customs. It’s a hopeless mission to think we can overcome that fact and reclaim the original definition of vegetarianism. The only way to acknowledge that reality is to declare that vegans are not vegetarians.

We celebrate and rely on the pioneering work that created contemporary veganism. However, we must not forget that vegan history and its evolution is a continuing process. It is people building upon earlier foundations as our understanding of nutrition, environmental science, sentience, food technology (not to be taken as better than raw food veganism), and the sophistication of social media tools grow our movement. Today, we are tasked to create what comes next. The purpose of veganism has not changed; its core goal is to end the exploitation and lethal injustice humanity wages against sentient beings and from that create the benefits flowing visibly to humans, non-humans, and ecosystems. Read more ›

Are Vegans Vegetarians? Part 4

Picture11

Food producers are harming veganism because of the way they label their products “vegetarian” and in many instances mix that word with “meat free, dairy free, veggie, and 100% vegetarian.” They should not be using these terms interchangeably with, or instead of, “vegan” as we saw organizations do in Part 3, but they are.

 

Look as long as we like at an organization with “vegetarian” in its name and we still won’t know if it is vegan or what kind of nonvegan vegetarianism it endorses until we dig through a labyrinth of text on their website. This lack of clarity extends to food labeled “vegetarian” because it means there isn’t an easy way to tell whether the contents are vegan. Veganism and its phenomenal benefits aren’t allowed to stand and be seen in daylight. Food companies are creating the shadows by using other terms. As long as we accept veganism to be defined as a subset of vegetarianism that lack of clarity and those shadows will continue. That is where it starts.

 

Veganism remains substantially buried in the sediment of vegetarianism, not understood as being the original vegetarianism that was abandoned in 1847 when the Vegetarian Society allowed for eggs and dairy products. It’s been 168 years since then. How much longer are we willing to wait to correct that mistake? I hope you are saying, “Not one more day.”

 

This is a big change. I believe my last post regarding the messy pile of definitions that vegetarianism has come to represent and my advocacy that we explicitly state veganism is not vegetarianism may have made some readers uncomfortable. It challenges our fears about unifying or at least not factionalizing our still relatively small social movement. We will need to address possible social challenges happening between vegans and vegetarians compassionately and delicately. I’ll address some of those concerns at the end of this blog series.

 

For the moment, I ask you to set aside those fears or hesitations unless you want to see dairy/egg/honey and other “vegetarianisms” remain the dominant pretender to ending the suffering and killing of individuals from other species in agriculture and ecosystems alike. In this post I’ll explore the problems that arise from food and products being labeled “vegetarian” and other descriptives. Just remember that veganism is what vegetarianism once was. We are simply reinstating the original to contemporary sensibilities.

 

“Vegetarian” Products- Or Not?

The growth of veganism depends on the shopper’s ability to make clear and easy vegan choices. Product labeling should empower us. When it doesn’t, others, including people, are exploited, suffer, and die as well, and it fuels climate change and other environmental disasters. How can we make consumer choices that define veganism when vegetarianism means nothing vegans can use? How often have you shopped and after seeing “Vegetarian” printed on a box or bottle find dairy, egg, honey, insect parts, and perhaps extractives from fish listed in the ingredients? Read more ›

Are Vegans Vegetarians? Part 3

Before I describe how international and U.S. organizations inappropriately reference veganism as vegetarianism, please remember my purpose for writing “Are Vegans Vegetarians?” We need to understand that defining veganism as a type of vegetarianism—and using those terms interchangeably—diminishes veganism, is misleading, and is an obstacle to ending the violence and exploitation of others and ecosystems. Veganism is profoundly different from vegetarianism. Veganism remains in vegetarianism’s shadow. We must make a conscious effort to change that.

 

That we have not clarified those differences more directly is a problem for the organizations I am about to cite as examples. However, this is far more a responsibility we all share. I will use material from organizations A, B, C and so on. This is not the same as heaping criticism on them. Their examples serve to show what we, too, have been doing. We must solve this problem together. We move forward together. Gorilla

 

In the following paragraphs, observe how organizations define vegetarian (-ism) and vegan (-ism). I do not name the organizations associated with the definitions because singling them out would miss the point: I am addressing a universal problem. You may recognize their work but please don’t let that distract you. My goal is to get grassroots agreement that veganism must be identified and defined on its own merits and never as a subset of vegetarianism.

 

How organizations with “vegetarian” in their name define “vegetarian”

Organization A explains, “What are the different types of vegetarianism?”

1) Lacto-Ovo Vegetarianism: does not eat meat, fish or fowl. Eats dairy and egg products.
2) Ovo Vegetarianism: does not eat meat, fish, fowl or dairy products. Eats egg products.
3) Lacto Vegetarianism: does not eat meat, fish, fowl or eggs. Eats dairy products.
4) Veganism: does not eat any animal products including meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy, honey, etc. Most vegans do not use any animal products such as silk, leather, wool, etc. as well.

That explanation is what we inherited. The first three types of vegetarianism they define make clear that adherents consume and exploit individuals from other species and by extension unavoidably create similar environmental impacts. ditional examples.

 

Organization B writes that a vegetarian is “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs (my emphasis). A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter.” Read more ›

Are Vegans Vegetarians? Part 2

In Part 1, I noted that the conversation of what vegetarianism is and is not has been ongoing as a contemporary issue since the early 1800s. In Part 2, I review highlights of the historical context when vegetarianism lost its vegan meaning and the circumstances surrounding the creation of the term “vegan”.

As a preview, Part 3 will demonstrate the multitude of definitions for vegetarianism and veganism as written by organizations A through G. For Part 4 we’ll look at everyday examples of products labeled “vegetarian” and how this leaves everyone guessing about what is in the box, the bottle, restaurant—and organization. I’ll advocate we formally (and compassionately) separate the definition of veganism from any reference to vegetarianism in Part 5. Donald Watson’s comments in his later years are instructive for what veganism must accomplish.

My intent is not to put vegetarians on the defensive. I ask for your patience to follow through this thought exercise with me. Challenging the traditional sense of what “vegetarian” means may, by its nature, make some readers uncomfortable. Please remember this is the same discussion started by the founders of contemporary vegetarianism and veganism.

Our Era

We live in a different era than the founders and early members of vegetarian and vegan societies. We learned from them, built on the  foundation they laid, and thank them. Donald Watson and friends struck out to coin the term “vegan” and founded The Vegan Society because it  was necessary. Circumstances again create another urgent necessity—and opportunity—to rescue veganism from the confusing discourse of vegetarianism.

In our era, we know more than our predecessors about the science-based evidence of sentience, nonhuman personhood, and the physical and psychological needs of individuals from other species. We know more about their communities and experiences as domesticated and exploited individuals—as well as those living in the wild. We have a more accurate and abundant knowledge of nutrition for sustainable raw vegan diets as well as processed food alternatives—available choices that make change to veganism easier than ever before. We have access to amazing educational resources where knowledge is made available to a greater number of people every day, to anyone able to access a book, flier, and the internet.

 

With all of that, the power and growth of the vegan message and vision are diminished by our ineffectual use of the term “vegan”. This stems from how vegetarian organizations and many of us define and report veganism. We’ve become sloppy. My focus on “vegetarian (-ism)” and “vegan (-ism)” as terms starts with a brief review of when vegetarianism lost its vegan meaning.

 

In the 1830s, the original use of the word “vegetarian” indicated a person who lived on a vegan and predominantly raw food diet. After the founding of The Vegetarian Society in 1847, the word “vegetarian” came to indicate a diet that allowed eggs and dairy for those who chose to do so. There were debates about that change, but it remains the legacy we inherited. Yet, we still believe that vegans are somehow vegetarians. That causes harm.

 

Donald Watson

Donald Watson

In December 1943, Donald Watson gave a talk to The Vegetarian Society on vegetarianism and the use of dairy products. In August 1944, he and others discussed forming a sub-group of non-dairy vegetarians within The Vegetarian Society. The Vegetarian Society eventually refused to give them space in its journal. The non-dairy vegetarians were also non-egg and non- everything animal exploitation but eggs were in scarce supply during these WWII years and not as often mentioned. There was sympathy from the Society, but they felt that “the full energies of the Society must continue to be applied to the task of abolishing flesh-eating”. The creation of the word “vegan” and subsequent founding of The Vegan Society in November, 1944 is often credited to Donald Watson or he and his wife Dorothy but Watson credits a number of his fellow vegans as well.

 

The Vegan Society revised its definition of veganism over time. In 1969, Read more ›

Are Vegans Vegetarians?

And by extension, “Is Vegetarianism Relevant Today?”

Part1:

The content of this multi-part blog is based on one of my presentations at the 2015 NAVS Summerfest last week.

 

The debate over the meaning of vegetarianism is not new. People have deliberated whether dietary vegetarianism was entirely plant-based or included animal products like milk, eggs, and honey since the founding of the first Vegetarian Society in 1847. What I am proposing is not new, though the reasons (environmental, social justice) have grown. Here we are continuing a conversation about what the meaning of vegetarianism should be. We are part of a debate that has been going on most recently since the 1830s.

question-mark

 

In a break with tradition, I offer that veganism is not vegetarianism except in our minds by what we inherited as artifacts from vegetarianism’s history. The word vegetarian was first used in print in 1842. Practitioners of “the vegetable diet” of that era ate a largely raw vegan diet that often was associated with self-improvement, church congregations seeking to enhance their spiritual beliefs, and improving the higher self and that of humankind. However, the first Vegetarian Society at its 1847 founding allowed egg and dairy consumption as part of the vegetarian movement to accommodate its members.

 

The definition and our understanding of what the term “vegetarian(-ism)” means is inconsistently applied by organizations, food manufacturers, the media, vegetarians and the public. As we will see, this causes constant confusion and makes attaining a vegan planet unnecessarily difficult. How often should we be forced by this confusion to explain the “types” of vegetarianism and tag veganism into the mix? The violence and injustice waged against other animals, ecosystems and people will be reduced when we restore clarity to our language regarding vegetarianism and veganism. Read more ›

Vegan Environmentalist Campaigns

I am cross-posting this update from Green Vegans since I believe it will be of interest to you. To receive regular update on Green Vegans the organization, simply subscribe here

From Green Vegans:

Vegan Environmentalist Identity Campaign

While the world too slowly awakens to the environmental necessity of global veganism, vegans now must become highly visible advocates for ecosystems and all species. We must do what mainstream environmental organizations are failing to act on: advocate for the solutions that only vegan lifestyles and a consistent philosophy of justice and nonviolence can accomplish. Veganism is required to stop destroying the planet and biodiversity, slow global warming, and address human poverty.

globe_west_2048Vegans have a unique opportunity to reform environmentalism with our visible advocacy. To that end, Green Vegans will serve as a resource to vegan environmentalists. Green Vegans is the first organization to comment on state plans to kill wolves from a vegan human ecology (explained on our “about” pages). We were the first organization to be clearly identified as vegan at the last International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Panama as whale advocates. You can image our joy as the three of us, experienced IWC veterans, introduced ourselves as Green Vegans at meetings and in lobbying conversations with state department level representatives—IWC commissioners from dozens of countries. The vegan environmental movement can only grow. Our goal now is to enable you to participate and grow the vegan environmental movement.

Opinions matter to us personally, but they are often not effective in changing government decisions on the environment. Government agencies are influenced when we provide new information, evidence-based critiques of their policies and proposals, and challenges to the legality of their actions.

Though environmental issues can be complex, Green Vegans will make it easy for you to participate. We will post campaigns and what you can do on our main Green Vegans page.

Green Vegans has been campaigning since 2009. Welcome to our Vegan Environmentalist Identity Campaign. This is your preparation:

  • Tips for making effective comments on environmental actions proposed by government. This information holds true for federal and most state environmental campaigning:
  • Understanding how the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) works. It is the foundation for environmental advocacy. You do not need to memorize it; just read it here for context. Every environmentalist speaks NEPA.

We will post the first Vegan Environmentalist Identity Campaign on the Green Vegans website soon.

Part II: The Emotional State of Vegans, Economists,…

In part 1, I described emotional experiences felt by vegans, environmentalists and advocates for social and economic justice. We all see the world in a way that remains in the minority of perception and sense of urgency. I wrote about the problems we are working to solve—preventing the collapse of ecosystems and biodiversity, establishing social and economic justice, spreading veganism, reforming economic systems to make these goals possible, and reversing human overpopulation. Human behavior causes these problems and that is our advantage; they can be cured by changing human behaviors. Now we will look at how advocates for a Steady State Economy and the Center for Biological Diversity understand this as evidenced by their addressing multiple issues within their core mission.

 

iStock_000019441224SmallI referred to two blog posts on the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) website. The CASSE platform includes limits to human-oriented growth in our finite home called Earth. They recognize all life has inherent value that must be considered and protected when choosing an economic system. Prominent biologists (and Green Vegans) have endorsed CASSE’s platform. Both CASSE posts remind us that vegans are not the only advocates who are deeply pained when nonbelievers just don’t “get it.”

Read more ›

Karen Davis on HSUS and Disappearing Hens

looking_at_youIn earlier posts, I’ve criticized HSUS and other organizations for their subversion of the species rights movement. They support slaughter and consumption of meat. Some question the wisdom and the necessity of bringing our differences up for debate publicly. Challenges and debate are healthy, essential for any movement. Doing so tests our beliefs and strategies for effecting justice and stopping the violence. It is honesty in action.

Karen Davis’ recently wrote an article about what happens when an organization like HSUS provides us with compelling evidence and an opportunity to stop the violence waged against chickens but instead abandons those very same chickens to the immoral and depraved treatment they document. Given the HSUS support for incrementalism and worse—instead of abolition—this outcome is inevitable. If you or someone you know supports these HSUS platforms and strategies and their moral corruption, read Karen’s post below and look, at least as much as you can stand, at the HSUS undercover filming. Listen carefully to what the HSUS states at the end of the video. It exemplifies why we must have these disagreements and dialogue out in the open for the sake of chickens and everyone else.

Disappearing Hens:
Stopping Short of What Needs to Be Said – and Done

By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns

A video released by The Humane Society of the United States on January 5 (see Spent Hen Slaughter Exposé) shows what happens to millions of egg-industry hens in their final hours of suffering a life that words like horrible, miserable and appalling are too feeble to describe. One has to steel oneself to look at the scenes at the Butterfield spent hen slaughterhouse in Minnesota. If you’re like me, the first time you click on the link, you might turn down the sound and look at the video with eyes semi-averted from the screen. Life doesn’t get any worse than this, and neither does death. And it’s all for omelets and fried eggs.

Watching the video, you catch sight of a hen’s face and her living eyes that are about to be pulsed with volts of electrical shock. You turn up the volume and feel the agony in your gut and the sickness in your heart, even as you realize you cannot possibly imagine the feelings these hens are carrying inside themselves, the accumulation of their experience with human beings. As the video winds down, the narrator says, “You can help reduce the suffering of chickens on factory farms simply by eating less meat.”

This video is being advertised as the first footage from a slaughter plant designed for spent hens. People need to see this. We all need to know, show and tell others what eating eggs and egg ingredients means for hens regardless of whether they lived in barren battery cages, “enriched” battery cages, cage-free organic compounds, or wherever they came from on their way to this final place of execution.

Instead, the narrator blandly suggests eating less meat from factory farms.

The art of persuasive discourse teaches that when we present an ethical problem to an audience, we follow up with a positive, liberating, inspiring, and doable solution – “Here is what you can do to help stop this cruelty and help these hens. You don’t have to wait, you can start today. Please start today. Here’s how.” The goal is to solve the problem and empower the person – who is very upset and charged with a desire to take action – to be confident that she or he can actually do something commensurate with the situation just witnessed. “What can I do to help these birds?” What is our answer?

In the case of the Butterfield hen slaughter video, the first shock comes when the narrator doesn’t even mention the hens or their eggs in the How You Can Help part. Instead of something like: “To help end this cruelty, please visit Eggfree.com for delicious egg-free recipes and cooking ideas,” the message drains out in generic terminology and flaccid advice.

To state the obvious: This message is not inspiring, invigorating or empowering. It does not address or facilitate the urge to do something truly meaningful to help the hens. It does not seize the moment. It says that neither the hens nor their suffering matters enough to do much for them. Their plight isn’t urgent. They aren’t that important. Just reduce their meat consumption. And if you don’t, okay. Not a word about eggs. When people are told they don’t have to do much, most will do even less. That part of the person that wants to act SIGNIFICANTLY is undercut by the part that wants to rest easy. The “experts”are telling you to relax, it’s okay. Watching the Butterfield video I felt overwhelmingly sick and sad, but when the narrator bypassed the hens and lamely advised eating less factory farm meat, I felt that our movement needs a new lease on life. Get active! www.upc-online.org/alerts 

See the original post here.

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Is Amazon’s Whole Foods Market a Vegan’s Friend or Foe?

April 6th, 2019

When Amazon.com bought Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017, some vegans assumed it would [...]

Why do vegans allow vegetarianism to define veganism?

April 22nd, 2017

Shake hands, declare independence  We must end our non-critical acceptance of vegetarianism’s[...]

Are Vegans Vegetarians? Conclusion

September 19th, 2015

We lost the struggle for the original definition of “vegetarianism” and “vegetarian” in 1847, 168 ye[...]

Are Vegans Vegetarians? Part 4

August 17th, 2015

Food producers are harming veganism because of the way they label their products “vegetarian” an[...]

Are Vegans Vegetarians? Part 3

July 26th, 2015

Before I describe how international and U.S. organizations inappropriately reference veganism as veg[...]