General AR Philosophy
Agenda for a New America
The Politics of Vegetarianism
By Vasu Murti
They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy
Chapter 13 - Strategic Commodities
We are presently confronted with a rather precarious situation in which a few select regions of the world are the principal suppliers of various commodities that are essential to the entire process of food production. The Middle East region, for example, dominates the world petroleum market. Petroleum is needed to power farm machinery in addition to its use as a fertilizer base. Despite the relatively large amount of petroleum produced in the United States, this country is, nonetheless, highly dependent on Middle East oil.
U. S . Secretary of State Henry Kissinger commented in 1975 that military intervention "could not be ruled out" in the event of another Arab Oil embargo. His comment indicates the extent of American dependency on Arab oil and the desperate lengths the U. S. government will go to obtain it. The "Carter Doctrine" of 1979, concerning the use of tactics nuclear weapons in the Middle East by the United States and the Persian Gulf War of 1991 reiterate American dependence upon a highly unstable part of the globe.
Morocco is the leading producer of phosphate, an important element in fertilizer production. Within the period of a few years in the early 1970s, Morocco more than quadrupled its price for phosphate. The large world demand for phosphate prompted Morocco to invade the Spanish Sahara when the Spanish relinquished control of the region in 1975. A guerilla force of Saharan nationals found themselves battling the Moroccan aggressors, whose sole interest in the region was its phosphate reserves.
The United States is fond of using its position as a major food exporter to manipulate the policies of foreign governments. The most striking example of this practice is the successful American "destabilization" effort in Chile in the early 1970s. A project initiated by the American Central Intelligence Agency to create dissatisfaction among Chilean truckers resulted in widespread food shortages. The Allende regime was then rebuffed in its attempts to make a cash purchase of vitally needed U S wheat. However, in less than a month after a successful Chilean coup that was abetted by the U S government, the new fascist regime was given a large shipment of American wheat on generous credit terms despite Chile's unstable economy.
A report prepared in August, 1974, by the American Central Intelligence Agency cites several ominous trends in weather conditions and population growth.
The authors of this report indicate there is substantial evidence to support the belief that food shortages will become more acute as the result of a major cooling trend. As a result, such a situation "could give the United States a measure of power it had never had before--possibly an economic and political dominance greater than that of the immediate post-World War II years." The study warns, however, that countries adversely affected by these weather changes may resort to desperate measures, including "nuclear blackmail" and "massive migration backed by force."
The report concludes that we have the potential to compensate for future large-scale famines that may be far worse than the present food crisis. It is duly noted that if the anticipated marked and persistent cooling trend occurs there would not be enough food to feed the world's population "unless the affluent nations make a quick and drastic cut in their consumption of grain-fed animals."
Vegetarian author Laurel Robertson writes that "The relationship between meat consumption and available grain is...more sensitive than we might think...In 1974, when the market for meat did fall, the grain that was so unexpectedly released actually did find its way to poorer Countries."
Chapter 14 - Environmental Extinction
Significant environmental damage results from livestock agriculture, often driving many other species into extinction. The existence of dodo birds was first recorded in the early 1500s by Portuguese Sailors. The dodo, which weighed about 50 pounds, was incapable of defending itself and could not flee from its enemies, since it lacked the ability to fly. Large numbers of these birds were killed by human beings for food. Additionally, pigs that were brought to the islands destroyed a significant portion of the dodos' eggs, creating a severe decline in the dode population. The species became extinct by the 18th century.
The Steller's sea cow once inhabited the coastal waters of the Commander Islands in the Bering Sea. Russian Sealers, who were the first to record the existence of these creatures in 1741, estimated the entire population to be about 5,000. Their meat was considered a delicacy by Russian sealers, who decimated the entire species by 1768 .
The Labrador duck has been extinct since 1875. This species formerly inhabited the coastal regions of northeastern Canada. The extinction of the passenger pigeon was caused by the American westward expansion in the second half of the 19th century. As passenger pigeons became a popular food item, the numbers of this species rapidly diminished. Millions were slaughtered each year and shipped by railway cars to be sold in city markets. Another bird to become extinct because of its use as food was the heath her, which became extinct about 1932.
The pacific sardine lives along the coasts of North America from Alaska to southern California. Sardines, once a major part of the California fishing industry, are now considered to be "commercially extinct." Another species classified as "commercially extinct" is the New England haddock. Ecologists have also been concerned about the significant reduction in finfish, the Atlantic bluefin tuna, Lake Erie cisco, and blackfins that inhabit Lakes Huron and Michigan.
More than 200,000 porpoises are killed every year by fishermen seeking tuna in the Pacific. Sea turtles are similarly killed in Caribbean shrimp operations. Some animals are killed because, as carnivores, they compete with the human predator for the right to kill other animals for food, including wild game and domesticated species raised by livestock ranchers. Alaskan hunters are eager to reduce the wolf population in their state because this animal is a predator of moose.
Cougars, coyotes and wolves are considered a menace to the cattle and sheep industries, and livestock ranchers have engaged in a large-scale campaign to exterminate them. Two species of wolves are now endangered, and very few wolves can be found in the United States except in Alaska and northeastern Minnesota. The relatively small number of eagles in the U.S. is largely due to the destruction of this species by livestock ranchers, particularly those in the sheep business.
Herbivorous animals that inhabit rangeland areas are also killed by the livestock industry because they compete with cattle arid sheep for food. Large numbers of kangaroos are being exterminated in Australia, while in the United States livestock ranchers seek to destroy wild horses, wild burros, deer, elk, antelope and prairie dogs.
An ever-increasing amount of beef eaten in the United States is imported from Central and South America. To provide pasture for cattle, these countries have been clearing their priceless tropical rainforests. In 1960, when the U. S. first began to import beef, Central America was blessed with 130,000 square miles of rainforest. But now, less than 80,000 square miles remain. At this rate, the entire tropical rainforests of Central America will be gone in another forty years.
These tropical rainforests are among the world's most precious natural resources. Amounting to only 30 percent of the world's forests, the rainforests contain 80 percent of the earth's land vegetation, and account for a substantial percentage of the earth's oxygen supplies. These forests are the oldest ecosystems on earth and have developed extreme ecological richness. Half of all species on earth live in the moist tropical rainforests. But these jewels of nature are being rapidly destroyed to provide land on which cattle can be grazed for the American fast-food market.
The current rate of species extinction is 1,000 species a year, and most of that is due to the destruction of rainforests and related habitats in the tropics.
Chapter 15 - Not Enough Land for Meat
Within the next two to four decades, if present trends continue, vast quantities of land will be lost to soil erosion; forests in most parts of the world will be greatly decimated or entirely gone; U.S. cropland reserves will be gone; the Ogallala Aquifer will be largely gone; and many parts of the Third World will be reduced to desert. We face a serious crisis. Our supplies of agricultural resources is dwindling just as the demand on them is increasing. The human race is on a major collision course with reality.
"And there are ideas of the future, of which some are already approaching realization and are obliging people to change their way of life and to struggle against the former ways: such ideas in our world as those of freeing the laborers, of giving equality to women, of ceasing to use flesh food, and so on."
Using grasslands for livestock agriculture creates great environmental problems, which greatly limit its usefulness. Grazing systems require ten times more land than feedlot agriculture, in which animals are simply given feed grown on cropland. Grazing systems have to be extensive in order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of overgrazing--which renders a piece of land unsuitable for any purpose. Overgrazing and the consequent soil erosion are extremely serious problems worldwide. By the most conservative estimates, 60% of all U. S. rangelands are overgrazed, with billions of tons of soil lost each year. Overgrazing has also been the greatest cause of man-made deserts.
Even if we grant grazing a role in a resource-efficient, ecologically stable agriculture, milk should be the end result, not beef. Milk provides over 50% of the protein and nearly four times the calories of beef, per unit of forage resources from grazing.
"When only forage is available, then egg, broiler and pork production are eliminated and only milk, beef, and lamb production are viable systems," state David and Marcia Pimentel, scientists and authors of Food, Energy and Society. "Of these three, milk production is the most efficient.
An ecologically stable, resource-efficient system of grazing animals for human food could not be anything faintly resembling today's livestock agriculture. It would be a smaller, decentralized, less intensive system of animal husbandry devoted to milk production.
The American way of life requires about 2 acres of cropland and 4.4 acres of grazing land per capita. What if we tried to "raise" the entire world to our standard of living?
A world population of 4 billion implies a land requirement of 8 billion acres of cropland and 17.5 billion acres of grazing land. Only 3.7 billion acres of cropland and 7.5 billion acres of grassland pasture presently exist in the world, less than half the land that would be needed.
Much of the land considered potentially arable in South America has low-quality soils and is very difficult to get to. Moreover, any expansion would almost certainly be at the expense of the already rapidly depleting forest areas. The same is true of Africa, where nonforested areas are already experiencing severe competition between grazing and cultivation. In Asia, the Far East, the Near East and northern Africa, most of the potentially arable land is already under cultivation. So bringing additional land under cultivation is terribly difficult.
The fact is, most of the easily available land has already been cultivated, and much of the uncultivated remainder could only be brought into cultivation by clearing forest areas, which should be protected. The best land is already taken; why would people cultivate the worst land first?
Moreover, crop yields in the United States and other Western countries are much higher than in the Soviet Union, Asia and Africa. The "Green Revolution," high-yielding crop varieties, and advanced agricultural techniques require a great deal of supporting technology and natural resources which only an industrialized society can provide, or even afford: tractors, irrigation, fertilizers, etc.
Suppose even these difficulties were overcome. Suppose all this additional land were brought into production, and the technology and fertilizers were provided to bring crop yields up to Western standards. Such an agricultural system would hardly survive more than a few years.
Energy consumption would skyrocket, more than tripling in the less developed countries. Irrigated land presently comprises only 15% of the world's total cropland; but of the new land at least 50% would have to be irrigated. So the demand for water supplies, already overwhelming in much of the world, would increase dramatically.
Nor can fish provide any help here. There are signs that the fishing industry (which is quite energy-intensive) has already overfished the oceans in several areas. And fish could never play a major role in the worlds diet anyway: the entire global fish catch of the world, if divided among all the world's inhabitants would amount to only a few ounces of fish per person per week.
The American Dietetic Association reports that throughout history, the human race has lived on "vegetarian or near vegetarian diets," and meat has traditionally been a luxury. Studies show the healthiest human populations on the globe live almost entirely on plant foods--useful data, given our skyrocketing healthcare costs. Dr. Nathan Pritikin, author of The Pritikin Plan, recommended no more than three ounces of meat per day; three ounces per week for his patients who had already suffered a heart attack.
Obviously, then, the idea of providing the entire world with a Western diet is quite absurd. But what about satisfying today's demand for meat--which provides only a fraction of the population with a Western-style diet? If the world population triples in the next 100 years, then meat production would have to triple as well. Instead of 3.7 billion acres of cropland and 7.5 billion acres of grazing land, we would require 11.1 billion acres of cropland and 22.5 billion acres of grazing land.
But this is slightly more than the total land area of the six inhabited continents! We are desperately short of forests, water and energy already. Even if we resort to extreme methods of population control: abortion, infanticide, genocide, etc...modest increases in the world population during the next generation would make it impossible to maintain current levels of meat consumption. On a vegetarian diet, however, the world could easily support a population several times its present size. Vegetarianism is inevitable.
Chapter 16 - Voices Calling for Justice
In his book, The Food Crisis in Prehistory, author Mark Nathan Cohen suggests that agriculture developed because the world was overpopulated; the environment could no longer support any more hunter-gatherer tribal populations. Humanity is once again at a crossroads.
Since its founding over two hundred years ago, the United States has been both a haven for the oppressed, yearning to breathe free, as well as a nation with a liberal and progressive concept of "human rights."
The phrase "all men are created equal" once referred only to white, male property owners. With the abolition of human slavery, it has since been expanded to include women and minorities. Why should our concepts of equality, rights and justice end with the human species? Religion has traditionally been a tool of oppression, but there have been voices calling for justice towards the animals:
From history, we learn that the earliest Christians were vegetarian. For example, Clemens Prudentius, the first Christian hymn writer, in one of his hymns exhorts his fellow Christians not to pollute their hands and hearts by the slaughter of innocent cows and sheep, and points to the variety of nourishing and pleasant foods obtainable without blood-shedding.
St. Richard of Wyche, a vegetarian, was moved by the sight of animals taken to slaughter. "Poor innocent little creatures," he observed, "If you were reasoning beings and could speak, you would curse us. For we are the cause of your death, and what have you done to deserve it?"
According to St. Francis of Assisi, "if you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."
St. Filippo Neri spent his life protecting and rescuing living creatures. A vegetarian, he could not bear to pass a butcher's shop. On one occasion, he exclaimed, "if everyone were like me, no one would kill animals!"
John Woolman (1720-72) was a Quaker preacher and abolitionist who traveled throughout the American colonies attacking slavery and cruelty to animals. "Where the move of God is verily perfected and the true spirit of government watchfully attended to," taught Woolman, "a tenderness toward all creatures made subject to us will be experienced, and a care felt in us that we do not lessen that sweetness of life in the animal creation which the great Creator intents for them."
"Thanks be to God!" wrote John Wesley, founder of Methodism, to the Bishop of London in 1747. "Since the time I gave up the use of flesh-meats and wine, I have been delivered from all physical ills." Wesley was a vegetarian for spiritual reasons as well. He based his vegetarianism on the Biblical prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Peace, where "on the new earth, no creature will kill, or hurt, or give pain to any other." He further taught that animals "shall receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings."
Wesley's teachings placed an emphasis on inner religion and the effect of the Holy Spirit upon the consciousness of such followers. Wesley taught that animals will attain heaven: in the "general deliverance" from the evils of this world, animals would be given vigor, strength and swiftness...to a far higher degree than they ever enjoyed." Wesley urged parents to educate their children about compassion towards animals. He wrote: "I am persuaded you are not insensible of the pain given to every Christian, every humane heart, by those savage diversions, bull-baiting, cock-fighting, horse-racing, and hunting."
In 1776, Dr. Humphrey Primatt, an Anglican priest, published A Dissertation on the Duty of Mercy and the Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals. This may have been the first book devoted to kindness to animals. According to Primatt:
"Pain is pain, whether it is inflicted on man or on beast; and the creature that suffers it, whether man or beast, being sensible of the misery of it whilst it lasts, suffers Evil...
"It has pleased God the Father of all men, to cover some men with white skins, and others with black skins; but as there is neither merit nor demerit in complexion, the white man, notwithstanding the barbarity of custom and prejudice, can have no right, by virtue of his colour, to enslave and tyrannize over a black man...
"Now, if amongst men, the differences of their powers of the mind, and of their complexion, stature, and accidents of fortune, do not give any one man a right to abuse or insult any other man on account of these differences; for the same reason, a man can have no natural right to abuse and torment a beast, merely because a beast has not the mental powers of a man...
"We may pretend to what religion we please," Primatt concluded, "but cruelty is atheism. We may make our boast of Christianity; but cruelty is infidelity. We may trust to our orthodoxy; but cruelty is the worst of heresies. The religion of Jesus Christ originated in the mercy of God; and it was the gracious design of it to promote peace to every creature on earth, and to create a spirit of universal benevolence or goodwill in men.
"And it has pleased God therein to display the riches of His own goodness and mercy towards us; and the revealer of His blessed will, the author and finisher of our faith, hath commanded us to be merciful, as our Father is also merciful, the obligation upon Christians becomes the stronger; and it is our bounden duty, in an especial manner, and above all other people, to extend the precept of mercy to every object of it. For, indeed, a cruel Christian is a monster of ingratitude, a scandal to his profession and beareth the name of Christ in vain..."
The "Quaker poet" and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92), wrote: "The sooner we recognize the fact that the mercy of the Almighty extends to every creature endowed with life, the better it will be for us as men and Christians."
Roman Catholic Cardinal, John Henry Newman (1801-90), wrote in 1870 that "cruelty to animals is as if a man did not love God." Or another occasion he asked: "Now what is it moves our very heart and sickens us so much at cruelty shown to poor brutes? I suppose this: first, that they have done us no harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is the cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which make their sufferings so especially touching...there is something so very dreadful, so satanic, in tormenting those who have never harmed us and who cannot defend themselves; who are utterly in our power."
General William Booth (1829-1912), founder of the Salvation Army, practiced and advocated vegetarianism. Booth never officially condemned flesh-eating as either cruelty or gluttony, but taught that abstinence from luxury is helpful to the cause of Christian charity.
"It is a great delusion to suppose that flesh of any kind is essential to health," he insisted.
Reverend Basil Wrighton, the chairman of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare in London, wrote in a 1965 article entitled, "The Golden Age Must Return: A Catholic's Views on Vegetarianism," that a vegetarian diet is not only consistent with, but actually required by the tenets of Christianity. (Genesis 1:29) He concluded that the killing of animals for food not only violates religious tenets, but brutalizes humans to the point where violence and warfare against other humans becomes inevitable.
"Honourable men may honourably disagree about some details of human treatment of the non-human," wrote Stephen Clark in his 1977 book, The Moral Status of Animals, "But vegetarianism is now as necessary a pledge of moral devotion as was the refusal of emperor-worship in the early Church." According to Clark, eating animal flesh is "gluttony," and "Those who still eat flesh when they could do otherwise have no claim to be serious moralists."
"Clark's conclusion has real force and its power has yet to be sufficiently appreciated by fellow Christians," says the Reverend Andrew Linzey. "Far from seeing the possibility of widespread vegetarianism as a threat to Old Testament norms, Christians should rather welcome the fact that the Spirit is enabling us to make decisions so that we may more properly conform to the original Genesis picture of living in peace with Creation."
The Reverend Dr. Andrew Linzey's 1987 book, Christianity and the Rights of Animals, may be regarded as a landmark in Christian theology as well as in the animal rights movement. Linzey responds to criticism from many of the intellectual leaders of the animal rights and environmental movements--Peter Singer, Richard Ryder, Maureen Duffy, Lynn White, Jr.--that Christianity has excluded nonhumans from moral concern, that Christian churches are consequently agents of oppression, and that Christian doctrines are thus responsible for the roots of the current ecological Crisis.
"We do not have books devoted to a consideration of animals," he acknowledges. "We do not have clearly worked-out systematic views on animals. These are the signs of the problem. The thinking, or at least the vast bulk of it, has yet to be done." Reverend Linzey, an Anglican clergyman, has been called "the foremost theologian working in the fiend of animal/human relations." Christianity and the Rights of Animals, is a must-read for all Christians.
In Christianity and the Rights of Animals, Reverend Linzey not only makes a sound theological case for animal rights, but states further that animal slavery may be abolished on the same grounds that were used in biblical times to abolish human sacrifice and infanticide:
"...it may be argued that humans have a right to their culture and their way of life. What would we be, it may be questioned without our land and history and ways of life? In general, culture is valuable. But it is also the case that there can be evil cultures, or at least cherished traditions which perpetuate injustice or tyranny. The Greeks, for example, despite all their outstanding contributions to learning did not appear to recognize the immorality of (human) slavery. There can be elements within every culture that are simply not worth defending, not only slavery, but also infanticide and human sacrifice."
Reverend Linzey responds to the widespread Christian misconception that animals have no souls by carrying the argument to its logical conclusion: "But let us suppose for a moment that it could be shown that animals lack immortal souls, does it follow that their moral status is correspondingly weakened? It is difficult to see in what sense it could be.
"If animals are not to be recompensated with an eternal life, how much more difficult must it be to justify their temporal sufferings? If, for an animal, this life is all that he can have, the moral gravity of any premature termination is thereby increased rather than lessened...In short: if we invoke the traditional argument against animals based on soullessness, we are not exonerated from the need for proper moral justification.
"Indeed, if the traditional view is upheld, the question has to be: How far can any proposed aim justify to the animal concerned what would seem to be a greater deprivation or injury than if the same were inflicted on a human being?"
Chapter 17 - More Voices Calling for Justice
In a paper presented before the Conference on Creation Theology and Environmental Ethics at the World Council of Churches in Annecy, France in September, 1988, Dr. Tom Regan similarly expressed moral opposition to discrimination based upon genetic differences:
"...biological differences inside the species Homo sapiens do not justify radically different treatment among those individuals, humans who differ biologically (for example, in terms of sex, or skin color, or chromosome count). Why, then, should biological differences outside our species count morally? If having one eye or deformed limbs do not disqualify a human being from moral consideration equal to that given to those humans who are more fortunate, how can it be rational to disqualify a rat or a wolf from equal moral consideration because, unlike us, they have paws and a tail?"
Dr. Regan concluded:
"...the whole fabric of Christian agape is woven from the threads of sacrificial acts. To abstain...from eating animals, therefore, although it is not the end-all, can be the begin-all of our conscientious effort to journey back to (or toward) Eden, can be one way (among others) to re-establish or create that relationship to the earth which, if Genesis 1 is to be trusted, was part of God's original hopes for and plans in creation.
It is the integrity of this creation we seek to understand and aspire to honor. In the choice of our food, I believe, we see...a small but not unimportant part of both the challenge and the promise of Christianity and animal rights."
In an editorial that appeared on Christmas Day, 1988, Washington Post columnist Coleman McCarthy, a prominent Catholic writer and a vegetarian observed: "A long raised but rarely answered question is this: If it was God's plan for Christ to be born among animals, why have most Christian theologians denied the value and rights of animals? Why no theology of the peaceable kingdom?... Animals in the stable at Bethlehem were a vision of the peaceable kingdom. Among theology's mysteries, this ought to be the easiest to fathom.
In a 1989 article entitled, "Re-examining the Christian Scriptures," Rick Dunkerly of Christ Lutheran Church concludes, "...the Bible-believing Christian, should, of all people, be on the frontline in the struggle for animal welfare and rights. We who are Christians should be treating the animal creation now as it will be treated then, at Christ's second coming. It will not now be perfect, but it must be substantial, otherwise we have missed our calling, and we grieve the One we call 'Lord', who was born in a stable surrounded by animals simply because He chose it that way." Dunkerly teaches Bible studies at his home Church and is actively involved in animal rescue projects.
In 1992, members of Los Angeles' First Unitarian Church agreed to serve vegetarian meals at the church's weekly Sunday lunch. Their decision was made as a protest against animal cruelty and the environmental damage caused by the livestock industry.
The realization that meat is an unnecessary luxury, resulting in inequities in the world food supply has prompted religious leaders in different Christian denominations to call on their members to abstain from meat on certain days of the week. Paul Moore, Jr., the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New York, made such an appeal in a November, 1974 pastoral letter calling for the observance of "meatless Wednesdays." A similar appeal had previously been issued by Cardinal Cooke, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York. The Reverend Eugene Carson Blake, former head of the World Council of Churches and founder of Bread for the World, has encouraged everyone in his organization to abstain from eating meat on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Father Thomas Berry, a Catholic priest, author, and founder of the Riverdale Center of Religious Research in New York, wrote in 1987 that "vegetarianism is a way of life that we should all move toward for economic survival, physical well-being, and spiritual integrity."
"Is this not the fast I have chosen? To loosen the chains of wickedness, to undo the bonds of oppression, and to let the oppressed go free? Is it not to share thy bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless? Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own."
The Reverend Marc Wessels, Executive Director of the International Network for Religion and Animals made these Observations on Earth Day 1990:
"It is a fact that no significant social reform has yet taken place in this country without the voice of the religious community being heard. The endeavors of the abolition of slavery; the women's suffrage movement; the emergence of the pacifist tradition during World War I; the struggles to support civil rights, labor unions, and migrant farm workers; and the anti-nuclear and peace movements have all succeeded in part because of the power and support of organized religion. Such authority and energy is required by individual Christians and the institutional church today if the liberation of animals is to become a reality.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress on earth," wrote Gandhi, "can be judged by the way its animals are treated...I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." Abraham Lincoln said, "I care not for a man's religion whose dog or cat is not the better for it." Abraham Lincoln also said, "I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being."
At a rally in San Francisco protesting the use of animals in medical research, Alameda County supervisor John George said, "My people were the first laboratory animals in America." Black Americans suffered at the hands of research scientists just as animals continue to do today.
In 1968, civil rights leader Dick Gregory compared humanity's treatment of animals with the conditions of America's inner cities:
"Animals and humans suffer and die alike. If you had on kill your own hog before you ate it, most likely you would not be able to do it. To hear the hog scream, to see the blood spill, to see the baby being taken away from its momma, and to see the look of death in the animals eye would turn your stomach. So you get the man at the packing house to do the killing for you.
"In like manner, if the wealthy aristocrats who are perpetrating conditions in the ghetto actually heard the screams of ghetto suffering, or saw the slow death of hungry little kids, or witnessed the strangulation of manhood and dignity, they could not continue the killing. But the wealthy are protected from such horror...If you can justify killing to eat meat, you can justify the conditions of the ghetto. I cannot justify either one.
Gregory credits the Judeo-Christian ethic and the teachings of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., with having caused him to become a vegetarian. In 1973, he drew a connection between vegetarianism and nonviolent civil disobedience:
"...the philosophy of nonviolence, which I learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during my involvement in the civil rights movement was first responsible for my change in diet. I became a vegetarian in 1965. I had been a participant in all of the 'major' and most of the 'minor' civil rights demonstrations of the early sixties, including the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March.
"Under the leadership of Dr. King, I became totally committed to nonviolence, and I was convinced that nonviolence meant opposition to killing in any form. I felt the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' applied to human beings not only in their dealings with each other--war, lynching, assassination, murder and the like--but in their practice of killing animals for food or sport. Animals and humans suffer and die alike...violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and brutal taking of life.
In a 1979 interview, Gregory explained, "I didn't become a vegetarian for health reasons; I became a vegetarian strictly for moral reasons...Vegetarianism will definitely become a people's movement." When asked if humans will ultimately have to answer to a Supreme Being for their exploitation of animals, Gregory replied, "I think we answer for that every time we go to the hospital with cancer and other diseases."
Gregory also expressed the opinion that the plight of the poor will improve as humans cease to slaughter animals: "I would say that the treatment of animals has something to do with the treatment of people. The Europeans have always regarded their slaves and the people they have colonialized as animals." Since the 1980s, Gregory has been involved in the anti-drug campaign.
In biology, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe calculated the probability of proteins forming from the random interaction of amino acids--the building blocks of Life. They found the odds were one out of ten to the 40,000 power. Given these extreme odds, it seems difficult to imagine the self-organization of matter without the deliberate intervention of some kind of higher power(s) or intelligence(s).
All life is thus precious and sacred. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Francis Crick has admitted, "the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle." Organized religion is just beginning to understand that the "sanctity of life" includes more than just the human species.
Chapter 18 - Movements with a Similar Agenda
1. The right-to-life agenda sounds egalitarian in terms of human rights: all humans have a right to life, and to deny rights to a particular class of humans on an arbitrary criterion such as race, gender, class, handicap, viability, developmental status, IQ, etc. is discrimination.
Right-to-lifers refer to this as a "quality of life" standard.
2. The animal rights movement puts forth an equally egalitarian agenda: all animals have a right to life and liberty. This challenges the traditional right-to-life ethic of membership in the human race as a criterion for personhood as just another form of discrimination: All ethical systems impose some kind of a "quality of life" standard.
3. Both movements consider their cause a form of secular social progress, like the abolition of human slavery or the emancipation of women.
4. Both movements compare themselves to the abolitionists who soughs to end human slavery.
5. Both movements see themselves extending human rights to a disenfranchised class of beings.
6. Both movements claim to be speaking on behalf of a minority group unable to defend themselves from oppression.
7. Both movements compare the mass destruction of the human unborn and the mass slaughter of animals to the Holocaust.
8. Recognizing the rights of another class of beings limits our freedoms and our choices, and requires a change in our personal lifestyle. The abolition of human slavery is a good example of this.
9. Both movements appear to be imposing their own personal moral convictions upon the rest of our secular society.
10. Both movements have components that engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and both have their militant factions. Both have picketed the homes of physicians who either experiment upon animals or perform abortions.
11. Both movements are usually depicted in the popular news media as extremists, fanatics, terrorists, etc. who violate the law.
12. Both movements have their intelligentsia: moral philosophers, physicians, clergymen, legal counsel, etc.
13. Both movements cite studies that violence towards an oppressed class of beings paves the way for worse forms of violence in society -- this is known as the "slippery slope." The term was coined by British writer Malcolm Muggeridge, a "prolife vegetarian."
14. Both movements speak of respecting life and compassion.
15. Both speak of depersonalization: the unborn become "tissue" and animals become "things" or objects of human exploitation and consumption. The depersonalization of women is significant in this regard: the assembly-line nature of modern abortion clinics depersonalizes women in much the same way factory farming depersonalizes animals.
16. A literal interpretation of the Constitution would mean there is no absolute right to individual or marital privacy, and this would allow the government to intervene not just in cases of abortion to protect the life of the unborn, but in all forms of birth control (Griswold vs. Connecticut).
Taking this philosophy to its logical conclusion, we could easily ban all feminine hygiene products (technological innovations which have also given women a great deal of freedom and mobility).
One of the reasons the left wing opposed the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987 is because such a literalist interpretation of the Constitution would deny rights to many non-citizens.
Abortion opponents argue that although the 14th Amendment refers to persons as citizens born or naturalized, it has generally come to mean all human beings--otherwise one could justify killing illegal aliens at the border.
"Other nations caught with us in space and time" is the phrase used by animal rights activists to describe other sentient species. If illegal immigrants--who are not citizens and (like embassies in foreign countries)--have fundamental rights such as fife, why not other animals as well?
17 Both movements are thinking of a Constitutional Amendment to extend rights to animals and the unborn respectively.
Chapter 19 - Political Action
In 1989, for example, Presbyterian Minister and environmental activist Richard Cartwright Austin discussed proposals to amend the Constitution:
"It is time to affirm that all creatures within the boundaries of our nation deserve constitutional recognition, and that rights extend beyond the human community to embrace all of natural life. This is the most radical of the proposals because it would give species, natural systems, and natural features constitutional standing and rights of their own--independent of their contributions or lack of contribution, to human welfare.
''To secure their rights within our legal system they would, of course, require human agents willing to argue their case, just as agents now represent the perceived interests of infants, the comatose, and others who cannot speak on their own behalf.
''Corporations, which are legal constructions and not natural beings, have standing in court to protect their interests now. This amendment would grant similar privileges to spotted owls threatened by timbering in the Pacific northwest to marine life in Chesapeake Bay suffering urban and agricultural pollution, and to the beauties of the Yosemite Valley hidden behind too many buildings and vehicles.
"A constitutional amendment to recognize the rights of a vast new constituency--all God's creatures--will not succeed without broad popular support. Animals ask us for considerate treatment and the earth cries for loving care."
Austin's words reflect the rising tide of environmental concern in America and the emergence of an animal liberation theology.
By 1991, seven medical schools in the U. S. had stopped using animals to train their students. In 1991, fur imports and trappings were cut in half. Seventy-five firms stopped using animals to test their products. A Gallup Poll, paid for by the Restaurant Association of the United States, found that one-third of all meals ordered in American restaurants in 1991 were vegetarian.
In 1992, Congressman Ron Dellums called for a halt to all animal experimentation in the military. Presidential candidate Jerry Brown said, "The millions of animals used in scientific experiments should be replaced by other methods." In a letter dated March 26, 1992, Presidential Candidate Bill Clinton wrote to Don A. Jones of Marietta, GA: "Thank you for writing to express your concern for the rights of animals. I have always loved and respected animals and abhorrer any cruelty toward them. Please be assured that a Clinton Administration would be extremely sensitive to these issues and concerns."
Animal rights is gradually becoming a mainstream political issue. In letter dated October 6, 1992, Congressman Pete Stark says he supports H. R. 3918, the Consumer Products Safe Testing Act.
"Animals should be treaded humanely. As I was in the last Congress, I am a co-sponsor of this bill which declares that Federal policy shall encourage the development and use of product testing procedures which accurately reflect the acute health effects on humans of certain products, but...do not rely upon animal testing."
Stark, along with Congressman James Scheuer, is also an original co-sponsor of legislation to ban the use of the steel-jaw leghold trap--banned in over 66 countries. Stark also supports the Endangered Species Act, without weakening its provisions; an immediate ban on the importation of wild-caught birds for the pet trade; a prohibition on sport hunting and trapping in the National wildlife Refuge; non-animal toxicity tests for non-medical products; making medical research more accountable for tax money spent and animals used; and more humane methods of raising animals for food.
Chapter 20 - Conclusion and Bibliography
In the long run, we are all going to be vegetarians. Doubtless through further exploitation of the environment, we can prolong the period in our history in which we think it is necessary to kill animals for food. But the ecological limitations of this procedure will soon make manifest to all that a vegetarian economy is both necessary and desirable.
Only a small minority of the world's citizens will ever be able to consume meat at current American levels: the resources to support a more intensive livestock agriculture simply don't exist. We will probably not feel the real effects of our present actions in the realm of agriculture for another twenty or thirty years. In the interim, things will merely become slightly less pleasant, year after year. To continue to maintain a meat economy can only make matters increasingly difficult for everyone, and can only adversely affect the goals of health for everyone and world peace.
SAVE EARTH NOW !!
Carol J. Adams' The Sexual Politics of Meat
Keith Akers' A Vegetarian Sourcebook
Dr. Louis Berman's Vegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition
Rynn Berry, Jr.'s The Vegetarians
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust--Origins
B.R. Boyd's The New Abolitionists
Peter Burwash's A Vegetarian Primer
Peter Cox's Why You Don't Need Meat (UK)
Satyaraja Dasa's The Four Regulative Principles of Freedom
Rose Evans' Friends of All Creatures
Rev. J. Ferrier's On Behalf of the Creatures
Dudley Giehl's Vegetarianism: a Way of Life
Dick Gregory's Cooking with Mother Nature for Folks Who Eat
Dr. John Kellogg's The Natural Diet of Man
Reverend Andrew Linzey's Christianity and the Rights of Animals
Dr. John McDougall's The McDougall Plan
Barbara Parham's What's Wrong With Eating Meat?
Psychology Today--Jan. 1988
Lewis Regenstein's Replenish the Earth
John Robbins' Diet for a New America and May All be Fed
Dr. Richard Schwartz's Judaism and Vegetarianism
Peter Singer's Animal Liberation
Food for a Future