"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

The Inevitable Persecution of Wolves by Wildlife “Managers”

iStock_000009009156XSmallA few years ago, I compared the “game management units” where the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) set the highest quotas for killing wolves with hunter licensing and killing of elk in the same areas. There was a direct correlation. Hunters killed far more elk with guns, arrows, and muzzle loaders in those areas had the highest removal rates of wolves compared to low-wolf quota areas. I used the data from the IDFG online records. This biased persecution of wolves is not unique to Idaho. I saw the same pattern while living in Alaska for seven years, only there they were (and still do) killing black and grizzly bears in addition to wolves to keep moose populations high enough for hunters, urban and indigenous alike. More recently, Montana, Washington, Wisconsin and other states have enacted various methods for killing wolves. Widely approved are leghold traps where there is no requirement to check the traps for days while the wolves, coyotes, fox, and other species suffer. Baiting is allowed. Hunting with packs of dogs is allowed in at least one state. Wolves are shot from airplanes. Professional wolf assassins are hired at taxpayer expense.

All of it serves to remind us that the profession of fish and wildlife management, especially at the state level, is thoroughly corrupt and trapped by arcane legislated mandates. They still are not acting for ecosystems, but instead “ranch” the species that will be hunted and thus provide department revenues through license fees. In one of many non-biocentric policies, state departments of fish and wildlife management continue to artificially stock nonnative species for revenues. Through similar makes-no-ecosystem-sense policies, these agencies ensure hunting is the top selection pressure, the ultimate decider of how evolutionary genetics plays out for the rest of history.

For Idaho, IDFG was created by a public initiative. Here is its mission statement:

“All wildlife, including all wild animals, wild birds, and fish, within the state of Idaho, is hereby declared to be the property of the state of Idaho. It shall be preserved, protected, perpetuated, and managed. It shall be only captured or taken at such times or places, under such conditions, or by such means, or in such manner, as will preserve, protect, and perpetuate such wildlife, and provide for the citizens of this state and, as by law permitted to others, continued supplies of such wildlife for hunting, fishing and trapping.” (as of June 2012)

Generally, the ultimate measures of successful “management” are the trends (up or down) of abundance and diversity of species and communities of species over the span of as many original geographic areas as they existed in the past. Biodiversity is declining at an astounding rate, perhaps 100, or 1,000 or 10,000 times more than the fossil record indicates for past norms. Part of the disagreement lies in the fact we have no idea how many species exist on Earth so it is assumed most extinctions go unnoticed. They are gone forever and we never knew they existed, nor of their miraculous complexity and role in ecosystems, nor their necessity for other species survival. Recent estimates indicate Earth is losing some 140,000 species per year.

Fish and wildlife management agencies do not spend anywhere near the resources on maintaining ecosystem integrity and researching for new species and their natural histories, for instance, than they do producing hunted, trapped, and fished wildlife targets. If that weren’t awful enough, agencies ignore the element of human-caused suffering directed at individuals from other species, behaviors and agonies these agencies enthusiastically promote. Consider the egregious violations of disrespect and cruelty in their promotion of bow hunting and trapping. What in the hell is wrong with these degreed people?

Under wildlife management professionals, we are losing biodiversity and net geographic abundance of species and their communities. The strategies of these agencies are unable to match the destructive power of human behaviors—our human ecologies. As a result, the Idaho wolf kills, for example, are inevitable. It’s what we get from the institutions of fish and wildlife management. They are focused on protecting cattle for slaughter and the special interest hunters, trappers, and fishers. That will not change until progressive biologists, ecologists, and legislators vocally challenge the social and political root causes of the collapse of ecosystems and the accelerating loss of biodiversity. Currently, they do not see this needed reformation of their professions as being their duty, responsibility, or legislated mandate. But you’d think anyone with a true love for what we are losing would be motivated by a higher purpose and responsibility. Meanwhile, we’ve a front row seat to watch “wildlife management” continue to be a core problem as extinction rates rise and human populations rush in like a storm surge displacing native species whose predator-prey ratios are suppressed.

Think about what a vegan human ecology would accomplish for biodiversity and the reformation of fish and wildlife management and conservation biology. As it now stands, employee and agency cultural worldview beliefs block that consideration. Imagine no livestock grazing on public and private lands and no land being used to grow food for livestock starting in the U.S. and other first-world nations. Imagine the immense reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen runoff into the oceans in a vegan human ecology. If not in this profession, then where lies any hope while they oppose us?

Reclaiming Abolitionism (and the Species Rights Movement) – Guest Blog

Whole Foods Best Butcher Seattle 5 24 13 1

Re-blogged from Voices From Animals. The title is “Reclaiming Abolitionism: It’s Time for Us to Take a Stand for Animals”. This is an important summary and explanation of why our voices are rising in opposition to mainstream “humane incrementalism” that operates under the guise of species rights. This and the accompanying piece (“The Invasion of the Movement Snatchers”—linked in the article) are essential to understanding why we must respond to the corruption of founding movement principles and the immense harm it causes. Please read, share, and save.


and be certain to also read


“This Is Hope”—the resource for Green Vegans

will_300dpiHello Everyone,
During this holiday season, we reflect on possibilities, about how humanity can be both compassionate and sustainable. More than that, we want to be part of the solution. In This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology / How we find our way to a humane and environmentally sane future, I describe the issues and the solutions. Veganism solves only part of a larger structural problem concerning human behavior and the institutions of violence it creates. It alone will not produce the world and life you want. The success of veganism rests upon a reformed worldview shaped by our need to create an intentional, biocentric human ecology. I urge you to purchase my book today; find out what the environmentalists are not telling you, what fish and wildlife management agencies are not telling you, and why Michael Pollan is wrong about veganism and ecosystems. Find out why there IS hope.

For yourself and as a gift, if you purchase Hope via the Green Vegans website Amazon link, an auto-donation will be made. It is available also online worldwide and at bookstores in several countries.

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.

This is Hope compares the outcomes of two human ecologies; one is tragic, the other is full of promise. “Our human ecology is the expression of everything we do and is represented by every interaction we have on earth…it consists of the multitude of relationships we have with other people, other species, and our physical environment’. I describe our current human ecology in depth to illustrate how we are living inappropriately, cruelly, and unsustainably. This is obsolete and has been for a long time; it is the cause of our overpopulation, our overconsumption of resources, the poverty of ecosystems and people, and our disregard for the rights of individuals from other species. This is Hope proposes a new human ecology to replace it.”

Author Bio
Will is an environmentalist and species rights professional who for over 30 years has conducted campaigns while employed for regional and national organizations. He recently founded Green Vegans (www.greenvegans.org). He lives in Seattle, WA.

Finally! A MUST READ for anyone seeking a practical planetary path from the current trajectory of death and desperation to one that truly engages and embraces hope for all species. This book provides a pioneering path for those who truly want to be the change we want – and need – to see in this world. As we collectively experience this never-before era of one species empowered to make it or break it for all, we now have HOPE to survive together. As a scientist in wildlife management and conservation, I can attest to tragically ridiculous and archaic methods that continue to be used to (mis)manage wildlife and plant species for human ignorance and greed rather than for the planet and successive generations. This Is Hope incorporates the best and the brightest of science while allowing for the potential of humanity.
Toni Frohoff, Ph.D. (Author, Dolphin Mysteries and Between Species)

John Hunt Publishing/ Earth Books Paperback
ISBN 978-1-78099-890-9
$22.95 | £12.99
6×9 inches | 230×152 mm

For endorsements, background, and table of contents, go to www.thisishopethebook.com.

Distributed to the trade by National Book Network in US; by Orca Marston in UK / Publisher contact: catherine@jhpbooks.net / earth-books.net


Will Anderson / www.ThisIsHopeTheBook.com (Blog and book page) / www.greenvegans.org

Deep Vegans – 2

iStock_000012214795XSmallThere are many arenas for vegans to prevent suffering and needless death (more about that in later posts at thisishopethebook dot com). This was the case when a three-person delegation returned to the International Whaling Commission conference last year in Panama. At every meeting over several days we stated our names and our organization, Green Vegans. Whenever we spoke, whenever we introduced ourselves to commission members from other countries, to other organizations, and U.S. officials at meetings, when others saw the placards at our tables, and on every document we distributed, we were there audibly and visibly repeated as “Green Vegans, Green Vegans, Green Vegans.”

A relatively small vanguard of professional environmentalists is trying to stem the loss of biodiversity, loss of habitat, and in some cases stop wanton cruelty (whaling and sealing, for example). Cruelty and killing is the active ingredient in environmental destruction. In the same way, at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), our opponents are global economic systems and worldview beliefs that do not know the value of a life and are not willing to state what it actually takes in terms of changes in our human ecology to really protect ecosystems—something we are already familiar with in animal agriculture.

What is our lesson in this? We cannot afford simply to “be vegan” and then rest. The same reasons for our becoming vegans and vegetarians also compel us to become knowledgeable environmentalists, advocates for reduced human populations, and supporters of social and economic justice. Increasing human populations increase the suffering of both domesticated and wild individuals from other species and damage their ecosystems. The decline of ecosystems and unfolding extinctions cause excruciating physical and psychological pain, misery, and bewildering homelessness for countless species during the process. These are calls for vegans to act.

We must act on the reason that these issues are about grievous harm to individuals of other species and people, our health, and sustainability. As deep vegans, we must expand into other causes. Instead of a slow introduction into front-line environmentalism, and to those of you who already are there, I’m asking you to jump into the deeper end of the pool for a moment.

Here are two links related to a past CITES meeting. From a guest blog by Dr. Margi Prideaux on the Shiftingvalues website is a description of the difficulties wildlife advocates are facing there. Without our vegan human ecology message at CITES and other environmental forums, they will not succeed in saving biodiversity and abundance. They will not be able to stop the harm we care so deeply about as vegans.

http://www.shiftingvalues.com/cites-conference-risks-driving-a-split-in-international-efforts-on-the-conservation-of-elephants-manatees-and-polar-bears. More on that conference here, http://www.cites.org/

This isn’t more work for us as much as they are opportunities to be more effective. In doing this we improve and complete the characteristics, culture, power, and blessings of veganism.

Deep Vegans – Part 1

Tropical rain forest. Whatever our initial reasons for stepping onto the vegetarian or vegan pathway, we must quickly grow into a broader and deeper understanding of how important Veganism is to the future of all life on Earth. For some, like me, Veganism is a product of my past, less informed vegetarianism. I saw that my food choices were not just about relationships with family, friends, and social sharing. It also was about my relationships with individuals from other species, ecosystems, and the impoverished half of humanity. I saw animal agriculture outbid the poor for grains sold on the global market and the terrible toll on humanity that it caused. Once we look more deeply and learn about the connections between our food choices and the rest of the world, our vegan choice is reinforced over and over as practical and moral issues. We understand the pain, suffering, destruction, and injustice we would cause people and other species if we were to return to carnism.

The CITES conference that opened earlier this year in Bangkok, Thailand is an example of the Vegan imperative. CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The fates of many species and individuals from those species are deliberated in this forum, not often effectively. CITES, like many international institutions, is no match for unsustainable, cruel human behavior. But the conference hasn’t been pressed by vegans advocating the ecological benefits of a vegan human ecology that can slow the loss of biodiversity. CITES does not care to recognize that Veganism offers the greenest, most sustainable, and least harmful dietary choice many people can make to protect wildlife. We stop the direct killing, the destruction of their ecosystems, end the commerce, ruin economic incentives to kill, and dramatically slow global warming that is broadly harmful to ecosystem stability. There are many other changes that would need to be made simultaneously to stop the human-caused loss of biodiversity—reducing global human populations around the world being one of them. Still, it is undeniable that Veganism is essential for CITES to succeed.

In fact, Veganism is essential for solving a multitude of environmental problems caused by humankind. Unfortunately, the majority of biological institutions/agencies/sciences and the nonprofit environmental organizations that mirror the fish and wildlife management cultures and values, ignores veganism. They do this without a basis in science. That is unacceptable and indefensible. Vegans should be storming their academic gates and their agency offices.

That isn’t likely to happen until single-issue vegans “grow over time into a broader and deeper understanding of how important Veganism is to the future of all life on Earth.”  Deep ecology, and I am extending that concept to a deep human ecology, is premised on every species having innate value that exists independently of and without having a use or economic benefit to humanity. That innate value extends to ecosystems. In my advocacy, I am bridging deep ecology’s innate value of all species and ecosystems to what has been the “animal rights” movement. This means that we talk about species and ecosystem rights based on their innate values. For species and the individuals from other species, we do not require the “sentience test” before we value them. This opens the umbrella of compassion to protect life itself, not a narrow field of candidates. Species rights is a more effective approach than the limited concept of “animal rights”.

On a practical level, cheerleaders for the sentient can easily remember that the sentient need the non-sentient (like herbivores need plants) and ecosystems to survive and not suffer by: starvation; loss of sheltering habitat; toxic prey; the destruction of species’ culture and social life; contaminated water; the extinction of grasslands; the loss of insects and amphibians; and excessive, unrelenting stressors caused by us. All of those harms would be covered by species rights.

Here and there we can see a glimmer of hope that conservation biologists, naturalists, and mainstream environmentalists will start acknowledging suffering and species rights. These issues are at the core of how our human ecology creates relationships with ecosystems, flora, and fauna. A vegan human ecology should shape their management objectives. All have value and have a right not to be harmed, and where harm is unavoidable, minimized. This leads to a wonderful conversation about human overpopulation, environmentally destructive economic systems, and the current barbaric culture we find in fish and wildlife “management” agencies. That’s part of the argument I build in my book. It’s all interrelated.

The mirror image of this is that if vegans and our organizations hope to change the world, we are required to become informed and active environmentalists who carry a far different message to government agencies and the public. That requires vegan organizations to change and expand their objectives, to show up at public hearings and describe and demand a vegan human ecology before the rest of nature as we prefer it is lost forever. Vegans must become the banner carriers in many movements. As we do this, more people will recognize that Veganism makes winning their particular cause possible. The important thing is that vegans are the only hope of getting these changes realized. Hard to believe, but true. Veganism has untapped power beyond our current appreciation. The sooner we realize and act on that power, the better it will for everyone and every species on Earth.

Next: Deep Vegans – Part 2

Part 16: Omnivore’s Dilemma / Where Animals are Plants

Series Summary

In his previous book, Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan told the story of how plants like apple trees, marijuana, and tulips “thrived” because of humankind’s need and appreciation of them. He defined “thriving” as whenever humans expanded their geographic range and numbers, and modified their genetics which then allowed these and many other plants to live in habitats not otherwise available to them. Interesting stuff as Pollan shared unique insights into the human history of relationships with them. However, in Omnivore’s Dilemma, he causes immense harm because he uses the same story formula and applies it to nonhuman animals. He equates the manipulation of plants to our extreme manipulations, genetic modifications, and artificial expansions of the populations of farmed animals. “Thriving”, in Pollan’s mind, is about humans artificially inducing billions of farmed lives populating the continents even though they are destined for a short existence before slaughter in animal agriculture.


Ignoring that animals are not plants, have different needs, and as far as we can tell, have more developed abilities to suffer physically and psychologically than plants, Pollan runs forward without thinking. I earlier described his multiple false assumptions and conclusions, his disdain for vegans (and vegetarians), and the terrible consequences this particular book has for ecosystems, the poor (actually everyone via climate change), and the individuals he so carelessly dismisses before slaughter.


There was and still is an audience eager to use Omnivore’s Dilemma as an excuse, as a blindfold, as a pillar of willed ignorance and denial of the harms that carnism causes. And from those unsupportable positions, a parade of chefs, small scale animal agriculturalists, environmentalists, and otherwise good people self-justify their unjust behaviors. They are content to green-, blue-, and humane-wash their idea of goodness and a corrupted understanding of how things work. They stopped short and are ignoring what they say they believe in: humaneness, sustainability, and justice. When I recently applied to speak and sign my book at the world-famous Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, OR, I was denied. On the other hand, Powell’s had not long before partnered with the Portland National Public Radio station to host Michael Pollan at a large theater. Such is the power of giving excuses and easy answers to a concerned public even while Pollan’s message in Dilemma continues like acid to painfully burn through every living system on Earth.


Carnism is defeating civilization because it is destroying ecosystems and altering the entire biosphere in which we and all wild and domesticated species live. Carnism creates competition with the impoverished people of Earth for grain foods. It strips the oceans of species and the food needed by others in the wild who live or die depending upon the health and integrity of their food chains and food webs. As I earlier stated, Omnivore’s Dilemma gets off to a terrible start by corrupting the definitions of those terms, food chains and food webs.


All fifteen of the posts, excerpts from my book This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology, will remain on this site. Please direct your friends and strangers to this series. There is much more to what we must do to become environmentally and morally sustainable in our behaviors. I ask that you explore them in Hope. In it’s pages, I do not cut corners or withhold the research that describes what we have done wrong in the past and what Earth, not I, requires us to do now. It is do-able and relatively simple. We just have to say yes to a new human ecology that is entirely within our individual and collective control.


There is only one issue: our human ecology and the behaviors that create it.

Part 15: Michael Pollan and His Omnivore’s Disappointment

It is our experience with nature, our increasing awareness of ecosystems, the operational norms of animal agriculture, and the sentient and non-sentient individuals under the yoke of carnism that lead millions of people to campaign for what must come next: a deeper, new human ecology that reflects the intrinsic worth of ecosystems and where we expand the circle of justice to include individuals from other species.


Unlike Michael Pollan I did not need to buy, watch the mistreatment of, and have killed steer 534, shoot a pig, cut the throats of chickens, nor pretend that we possess unique genes that compel us to hunt other species to figure out what the Earth and the impoverished other half of all humans on Earth need. The intentional, premeditated purchase, transfer, and slaughter of 534 for the purposes of writing Omnivore’s Dilemma is, in my mind, an act of inexcusable cruelty. Observing any one of the millions of cattle who are in the industrial agriculture machine would have been sufficient. Pollan’s self-indulgent thrill after he shot a feral pig is the same mistake.  I want to believe that the omnivore movement will wake up from its carefully crafted dream that is really the same old nightmare for ecosystems, individuals from other species, and us. The vegan new human ecology, though far from perfect, responds thoroughly to our collective environmental and moral responsibilities as no omnivore’s human ecology can.


We can join hands and create a humane existence that is undeniably wonderful. Who would disagree with the warmth and truth of what Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his book, Going Home: “If we observe things deeply, we will discover that one thing contains all the other things. If you look deeply into a tree, you will discover that a tree is not only a tree. It is also a person. It is a cloud. It is the sunshine. It is the Earth. It is the animals and the minerals. The practice of looking deeply reveals to us that one thing is made up of all other things. One thing contains the whole cosmos.”


From the very base of the food chain to the very top, from bacteria to baboons, there are countless chemical and biological interactions, and dynamic trends and changes that alter the outcomes of ecosystems and our future. We must not abandon our awareness of the complexities swirling around us. We are biologically attached.


Writing in another one of his books, In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan does not take much time to dismiss directly the validity of vegetarians and vegans. He does continue his defense of cultural preferences and the epicurean’s approach to “ethical” eating. He writes that he has not found compelling health reasons to exclude meat from the diet, but puts in parentheses, “That’s not to say there aren’t good ethical or environmental reasons to do so.” This is the same pattern that we found in Dilemma earlier; he gives a brief nod instead of an answer to the evidence that calls for a vegan human ecology. Then he moves on. And we all lose, left with the dilemma of not being told the truth, the whole truth.


Next: Series Summary

Michael Pollan: Where Plants are Animals

Part 14: You’ve Been Disregarded

Recall that earlier in his book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, author Michael Pollan saw nothing in the eyes of steer #534 (“As I gingerly stepped toward him the quiet shuffling mass of black cowhide between us parted [Pollen’s steer was now at the feedlot], and there stood 534 and I, staring dumbly at one another. Glint of recognition? None, whatsoever. I told myself not to take it personally; 534 and his pen mates have been bred for their marbling, after all, not their ability to form attachments.”) nor in the chickens whose throats he was cutting (no fear). Extending his seeming innate inability or unwillingness to perceive or research what he thinks he is seeing, he next dismisses people who believe individuals from other species have rights (also species, and by undeniable relationships, ecosystems).


Pollan goes out of his way to insult tens of millions of people when he writes, “To contemplate such questions from the vantage of a farm, or even a garden, is to appreciate how parochial, and urban, an ideology animal rights really is. It could thrive only in a world where people have lost contact with the natural world, where animals no longer pose a threat to us … and our mastery of nature seems unchallenged.”


He is being ridiculous. Like other conclusions found in Dilemma, he bases his beliefs on false premises. He believes if we choose a vegan response to what ails the Earth and humankind, we are disconnected urbanites who only need to wake up to the reality of his carnist world-views. Pollan’s dismissive attitudes and misrepresentation of vegetarians and vegans exposes his failing to explore adequately what a vegan human ecology offers. It is insulting and more than that, aggravating, because an important portion of the progressive community that really cares about issues is being misled.


A new era is unfolding. Our understanding of how the biosphere does and does not work should expand our awareness, not shrink it as it appears in Omivore’s Dilemma. I am vegan because of what I have seen and experienced with ecosystems and other species while doing both animal welfare and rights advocacy and environmental campaigns.I have been charged by a grizzly bear, watched a black bear at play in the wild, had sea otters mating within a few feet of my toes, walked among the poor of many cultures, had close calls with whiteouts in the wilderness, been swarmed by mosquitoes, covered in leaches, and suffered frostbite and heat stroke. Those experiences made me deeply committed, spiritually committed, to the vegan new human ecology and the ecosystems it relieves. By Pollan’s accounting, I have never been to a farm or garden, left a city, or otherwise come to understand anything he experienced in researching his book. I have, and I refuse to be ever again, a carnist omnivore.


Next: The Omnivore’s Disappointment

Part 13: Pollanist Destiny

Michael Pollan wants us to believe that our predation on individuals from other species should exist in the future because it existed in the past, and that our current predation upon domesticated and wild species is a natural (my word) human behavior. He attempts to equate the predatory relationships that evolved over millennia between wolves and deer to those between humans and chickens today. In this view, the evolutionary complexity of relationships between the wolves and deer where two species are free agents acting out their dramas in the context of ecosystems over a grand expanse of time is supposed to be the same as humans completely controlling domesticated species like chickens who are used as food but are not free agents. Instead of ecosystems, we have unnatural captivity. Instead of being shaped by all of the variables found in ecosystems, they are shaped by one species, us.


From that, we are supposed to conclude, “The surest way to achieve the extinction of the species [chickens] would be to grant chickens the right to life.” What I get from this statement from Michael Pollan is that raising billions of short-lived, genetically mutilated chickens is a good thing; far fewer chickens who are life-long companions, his extinction theory, is a bad outcome. There is no ecological imperative to keep billions of domesticated chickens. Quite the opposite. Ecosystems do not want them.


There is one species (with sub-species) that we need to protect from extinction. The Red Junglefowl, the ancestor of all of today’s domesticated chickens. Though threatened by gene pollution from domesticated chickens at forest edges, they are not endangered. They are stunningly beautiful and found in parts of India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and adjacent countries.


The mantra I hear in Pollan’s writing is this: We are animals who are destined to eat other animals because we are animals. Then, after illustrating how American Indians shaped bison and the habitat both shared, he infers it is the model we can paste on top of the carnist omnivore’s ideology. By that reasoning, we should believe it good that African elephants now have shorter tusks and shattered, traumatized familial herds, while their elephant ecology and habitat is similarly disfigured, “shaped” by humans preying upon them. Omnivore’s Dilemma rallies readers to endorse the current human ecology as if nothing has changed, and does not apologize that Earth now serves our one species over all others. Extending a human ecology of the past into the present and future goes against all evolutionary precedent when it is no longer adaptive to ecosystems. Carnist omnivores are maladaptive to ecosystems on a global scale. Carnism has to stop now.


As long as omnivorism reigns, carnists will slit the throats of chickens at Polyface Farm. Millions of 534s [the steer Pollan bought to demonstrate “industrialized” animal agricultural] will still die, if not near a feedlot, then at some other butcher ’s hands. Dilemma is not so much a discussion of the bewildering choices for which we have too little information as it is an extravagant self-justification for the continuation of carnism, even when the evidence of advanced sentience and ecological collapse is everywhere around us.


If Michael Pollan truly believes “that nature doesn’t provide a very good guide for human social conduct,” I hope he reconsiders. Nature does inform our behavior. She has always taught us to adapt to the grand unfolding of life. In the lives of other species, we see our own experience.


Ethologists who study the social relationships and behaviors of other species know they transmit culture and norms of behavior from one generation to the next, including a sense of right and wrong, knowledge about their ecosystems, and how to survive. They possess these attributes and have no need for human validation. Reading the contemporary works of Marc Bekoff, Amy Hatkoff, Franz de Waal, Conrad Lorenz, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Toni Frohoff, Brenda Peterson, and many other animal behaviorists, scientists, and writers on the subject would provide Pollan more ballast to his compassion.

Next: You’ve Been Disregarded

Part 12: The Philosophers Pollan Overlooked

The bias we find in Omnivore’s Dilemma ensures the arguments of vegetarians and vegans will look weak and the carnist omnivores’ positions look strong. For example,  we should reject the book’s inference that philosophers Peter Singer and Tom Regan represent all beliefs held by millions of practicing vegans whom Pollan attacks in his imagined “vegan utopia.” Debate is healthy and ongoing in the vegan community.


Philosopher Tom Regan cites in his book, Empty Cages, many compelling examples about the rights of individual domesticated animals, but the closest he comes to including wildlife, and ecosystems not at all, is concern about trapping wildlife for their fur and its undeniable cruelty. Why this gap? Regan deems those species “our moral equality” when they are “subjects-of-a-life.” As a result, there is a vacant sign on ecosystems. This is curious given “subjects-of-a-life” depend upon ecosystems and non-sentient species to live. He allowed “compensatory justice” for endangered species, but that is as good as it got.


It is simply painful to me that some philosophers associated with animal rights do not integrate the worth and rights of sentient species with ecosystems. Their moral reasoning must find a practical way to bridge this fault line.


Josephine Donovan, in Feminism and the Treatment of Animals: From Care to Dialogue, rings most true with me. I found this guiding light from her: “It is not so much, I will argue, a matter of caring for animals as mothers (human and nonhuman) care for their infants as it is one of listening to animals, paying emotional attention, taking seriously— caring about—what they are telling us. As I stated at the conclusion of ‘Animal Rights and Feminist Theory,’ we should not kill, eat, torture, and exploit animals because they do not want to be so treated, and we know that.”


She criticizes both Regan and Singer because “… both rights and utilitarianism dispense with sympathy, empathy, and compassion as relevant ethical and epistemological [the study of human knowledge,including its limits] sources for human treatment of nonhuman animals.”


Why in Omnivore’s Dilemma does Pollan not consider deep ecology philosopher Arne Naess? He and his many advocates acknowledge the intrinsic, biocentric value of individuals from other species with absolutely no requirement for them to jump through the sentience hoop, as some philosophical arguments require. In Naess’ biocentric world, nonhuman life is given intrinsic value, as are ecosystems. They are inseparable from the sacred whole.


I did not come by my own beliefs because philosophers convinced me of one argument or another. They did, however, challenge and help me develop my views. Philosophers never caused me to exclude any being from my orb of compassion even when their arguments would have allowed it had my allegiance been to them instead of nonhuman individuals from other species and ecosystems. Using Peter Singer and Tom Regan as a shield to justify doing unnecessary harm to individuals from other species is something I do not understand about Michael Pollan. He excluded and limited the review of philosophical debate to an extreme on the questions he raises and conveniently avoids evidence that would challenge his beliefs.


Next: Pollanist Destiny

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