Welcome to Peace to All Beings. This is a place to imagine, dream, pray, and believe that we human beings can awaken to our higher consciousness, embrace a new paradigm of living in harmony, rather than in fear and domination and become "Homo Ahimsa," my term for the new nonviolent and kindhuman that we can become. This is a place to bear witness to the violence around us and at the same time hold fast to the bold vision of a world at peace, not only for people, but for all life. This is a place to explore and agree that there is hope for our species, that we will not continue to destroy. Together let us co-create a new culture and heal the wounds humanity has caused to the earth, to each other, and to the animals who share this world with us.

Monday, April 20, 2015

From "Humane Washing" to "Truly Humane"



This is my latest Sierra Club "Planet Kansas," article in the
"Eating as Though the Earth Matters" column

From “Humane-Washing” to “Truly Humane”
Spring, 2015 issue

“Surely a better time must be drawing nigh when godlike beings will become
truly humane and learn to put their animal fellow mortals in their hearts
instead of on their backs or in their dinners.” John Muir, Founder of the Sierra Club

The Wizard of Oz is not just in Kansas.  He is everywhere attempting to fool us and admonish us to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”  But when “the man behind the curtain” is in it for the money, we really need to pull that curtain down.  As buyers become more educated and discerning, sellers look to find as many ways to confuse and confound as possible.   We’ve watched some of the worst, most environmentally destructive companies adopt “green washing” campaigns.  On the one hand, it’s encouraging to realize that we are having an impact.  Otherwise these companies would not feel the need to appear green.  On the other hand, their ads serve to confuse the people who have not studied the issues in depth. 

Craig Volland questions false labels: Now that the public is becoming more aware of food and cruelty issues, the same strategy is taking place with many of the same companies, who are, after all, just as destructive to animals as they are to the environment.  In the Fall, 2014, issue of Planet Kansas, Craig Volland pulled the curtain down on Hen House’s “Farm to Fork” campaign in his article “How Not to Buy Free Range, Humanely Produced Animal Products.”  In their brochure promoting chicken consumption were false terms, parading as the truth, such as “cage free,” raised on local farms, and “Treat yourself to chicken that’s been well-treated.” Of course this is happening in advertisements and grocery stores everywhere.  We could call it “humane- washing.”

Not “local,” “humane,” or “cage-free:” With a little “behind the curtain” detective work, Volland discovered that the chickens being sold at Hen House were, in fact, not locally raised or “cage free.”  They came from a deceptively named “Forester Farmer’s Market” which is so- named to confuse the public and lull us into a feel good state of maleability and acceptance.  Forester bears no resemblance to a farmer’s market.  It is actually a huge 240 million dollar enterprise that obtains broiler chickens from 8 different confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s, aka, factory farms).  As with green washing, this humane-washing is firmly rooted in the belief that we human beings can be manipulated by advertising and corporate shell games.  The good side of this coin--the silver lining of this cloud--is that these corporations do understand the power of boycotting and seek to prevent it by spending billions on ads, legislation, and other tactics.  They know they can lose profits if we wake up and look at the wizards who are trying so hard to convince us that they have the best interest of our health and the animals’ well-being at heart. In other words, we have power over them, and they know that.  The more green-washing and humane-washing they do, the more we are seeing their fear of what we can do as consumers.

An example of that is found in Volland’s same article.  He explains that the Kanza Group confronted Balls Foods (owner of Hen House) with the fact that the pork they were selling as “humanely treated” and local was in fact coming from factory farmed pigs. As a result, the humanely treated claim was removed from the ads.  That is consumer power, but if no one had confronted them, we can be sure the false claim would still be on the ads.  

Nor “compassion:” Whole Foods supermarket is hiding behind inaccurate labels as well.  Now they have added “compassion for our animals” to their list of false claims.  Undercover investigators released a video in January that showed extreme suffering of hens at Petaluma Farms, a giant egg supplier for Whole Foods.  Whole Foods claims these eggs come from “Chickens Raised with Care.”  Instead investigators found debeaked hens and roosters who were starving, crowded in dark buildings polluted by their own feces—a typical factory operation.  The owner of Petaluma Farms defended the practice of treating the birds in this manner because they were not from the “certified humane” flock.  As Hope Bohanec stated in a letter to the editor of The Press Democrat, “So let me get this straight—the Mahrts [the owners] are OK with having some of the birds suffer, as long as they are not the certified humane hens?  If the owners truly cared about the birds, they would have the highest standard for them all…”  Hope concludes, “Let’s embrace a new ethic.  Bring farmed animals into our circle of compassion and not eat meat, dairy or eggs.”

But let’s say we actually find a local farm that allows chickens access to the outdoors.  For every egg laying chicken on that farm, a male chick was killed shortly after hatching either by being ground up alive or suffocated in a trash can.  The egg laying chickens and their brothers, of course, never saw their mothers, and their mothers were deprived of caring for their babies.  Nearly all of these hens will have had their beaks mutilated without anesthesia.  Once their production declines, usually within two years, they are killed, often ground into fertilizer or simply thrown away as trash.  In nature or at a sanctuary, they can live ten years or more.  Ironically, the organic label for all animals often spells even greater suffering.  Since the “organic” industry withholds antibiotics, sick animals suffer from their illnesses without the medicine they need. 

Or, let’s say that in our research we actually find a local farm that claims to sell milk from happy cows.  Is that possible?  In order to keep cows producing milk, they are forced to stay pregnant.  When their babies are born, they are taken away from them so that human beings can drink their milk, not their babies.  Moms and babies cry for one another and suffer greatly from this forced separation.  The baby boys are usually confined in veal crates and killed at about 4 months of age  To re-impregnate the mother dairy cows (whether labelled “humane” or not) they are restrained on rape racks.  The scientific sounding “artificial insemination” involves someone crudely and disrespectfully inserting his arm into her rectum in order to position the uterus while an insemination instrument is inserted into her vagina.  Cows that could live into their twenties if they could live normal lives, are usually unable to produce milk by the young age of 4 to 6. By then, they have lost enormous amounts of calcium.  Their bones can break while being transported to slaughter, and they often are sick and very weak. It is difficult to imagine how someone could refer to these sensitive animals as happy.          
The impossibility of raising animals outside of factory farms and of killing them humanely.  But what if Big Ag and small farmers actually did commit to pasture-raising each animal? It would be physically impossible to produce the amount of animal products currently being eaten by human beings that way. There is simply not enough land available to do it.  The film Cowspiracy calculates that when a person commits to eating a plant-based diet, (compared to someone on the standard American diet) that one person saves 1100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forest, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life every single day.  The “Facts” page on Cowspiracy.com includes mind-blowing statistics to show the destructive impact on the environment of eating animal products, regardless of what label is applied to the neatly wrapped package in the supermarket. Another good source of information is humanemyth.org.  The over-arching dilemma that permeates all these issues is the simple, heart-wise, inner knowing that there is simply no way to kill an animal for meat humanely. Other oxymorons pale in comparison to “humane slaughter.”       


“Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.”  Thankfully, there is a logical and most rewarding solution to this dilemma. There is only one way to be certain that we are not supporting the agriculture industries that are simultaneously degrading the environment and causing immeasurable suffering, violence, and death to billions of animals all over the world.  By committing to a nonviolent, vegan philosophy of life and a healthy plant-based diet, we do not have to concern ourselves with labels and ads or wonder if Whole Foods really does have compassion for animals.  Regardless of whether an animal is raised in a factory farm or by a neighbor in a green pasture, that individual animal has been deprived of his or her right to live free and happy,  to not be owned, to not be used, and ultimately to not be barbarically transported to slaughter and then mercilessly killed. In fact, we are being insulted by the industries that are attempting to convince us that meat, milk, and eggs can be produced humanely.  As we reflect on the savagery of owning, abusing, mutilating, chaining to rape racks, confining, and killing, we see  living beings who demonstrate at every slaughterhouse that they want to live just as much as we do.  As Isaac Bashevis Singer stated: “As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.”
   

© 2014, Judy Carman, M.A., is author of Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul and co-author of The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of our Kinship with Animal;. 2014 winner of the Henry Spira Grassroots Animal Activist award; and owner of a truck and a car powered by used veggie oil and house powered by solar. Her primary websites are circleofcompassion.org and peacetoallbeings.com.   


Friday, March 6, 2015

ATTRACTING ANIMAL LIBERATION



How What We Think Can Help Liberate Animals

We animal liberators are a lot like dandelions.  A lot of people would rather we not appear in their lawns even though our bright yellow blossoms are quite beautiful.  They try to pull us up by the roots or spray us with herbicides of all kinds, but somehow we always manage to pop back up cheerily and then overnight turn into the most lovely puffballs, full of hundreds of seeds.  All we need is a little wind and there go our seeds flying about like tiny birds.  That’s why the number of vegans (and dandelions) increases every day.  We dande-lion-hearted activists have planted a lot of seeds with both our thoughts and our actions.   

It’s been said that we attract what we think about most.  That is why it has also been said that every thought is a prayer.  Atheists and theists alike “pray,” in that broad sense, whenever we have a thought. Our dilemma as animal liberationists is that we have awakened from the cultural trance that ignores animal suffering and are now painfully and constantly aware of the terrible plight of the animals. In the true meaning of the word “compassion,” we are “suffering with.” What do we do, then, with our feelings and thoughts?  We have gone through the door of denial, and now we can’t Not Know. 

Our thoughts and feelings often turn to rage at what is happening, anger at the perpetrators, burn-out after working so hard with seemingly little progress, loneliness from being ostracized by some, and endless grief over the animals whom we cannot physically save. But if it is true that we attract what we think about most, then for the sake of the animals and ourselves, we must acknowledge the injustice while simultaneously attracting what we want for the animals.  We want to “attract” their liberation.  Therefore, the majority of our thoughts must be Loving thoughts empowered by the feeling of Love if we are going to bring animal liberation into reality. 

The question for all of us is--how do we keep our thoughts focused on this Love and this Vision of peace for all beings.  It is a challenge that activists for justice have faced through the ages.  It requires us to take time to feel the joy and peace that lies within each of us and connects us all to each other and to the animals.  It is from that place of peace that we can find the strength, the optimism, and the wisdom to do our part for the animals. In Defense of Animals’ has developed a Sustainable Activism Campaign whose goal is to help us all with that challenge.  IDA offers many resources to help activists.  Among those resources are
Vegan Spirituality.com;
Circle of Compassion.org (founded by myself and Will and Madeleine Tuttle)
Prayer Circle for Animals Facebook (also founded by me and the Tuttles);
My books: Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul and
The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of Our Kinship with Animals (co-author, Tina Volpe)
The Animal Prayer Flag Project right here at Peace to All Beings.com

Gandhi said, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won… Think of it—always.”  Our awakening to the plight of the animals was an awakening to love for all beings and to reverence for all life. We have the great privilege of seeing with our hearts what peace and liberation for all beings can look like.  We have been blessed with the ability to love unconditionally just as the animals do.  May the seeds of all our thoughts, feelings, prayers, and actions bloom with that love.  Imagine, feel, and know that humanity is being transformed and animal liberation is close at hand.

© Judy Carman, 2015

               

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Book on Veganism and Faith by Gracia Fay Ellwood



BOOK REVIEW by Judy 
 
 
Taking the Adventure: Faith and Our Kinship with Animals 
Gracia Fay Ellwood

If you are a fan of Gracia Fay Ellwood’s online “The Peaceable Table” monthly journal, then you may have already grabbed your copy of Taking the Adventure.  For everyone else, I must tell you, the book is well-named.  This is not just food for thought.  It is a bountiful feast for thought, an exciting adventure for the mind and heart.   Reading this book, we find ourselves in the company of a true scholar of literature, philosophy, parapsychology, faith traditions, and life.  Ellwood shares her insights gleaned from the Bible, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Tolkien, Shakespeare, and many others.  Along this adventurous pathway, she connects them all and shows us clues to what we must do to stop the destruction of earth and the suffering of animals caused by humanity. 

With the story of Exodus, for example, she shows how animal activists find themselves in exile socially because of their compassion for all species and their attempts to break through widely accepted cultural traditions that are inherently violent.  In exile she suggests, “We must live as though our thoughts, words, and actions will fan out and shape the future to an extent beyond our imagining: in short, we must love both friends and those we experience as foes.” (p. 43)

She encourages us--this brilliant mentor of ours--to work to liberate all animals, and at the same time to take care of ourselves, “refresh ourselves from our work by seeking out and savoring glimpses of this edenic Reality which is our and all other beings’ true home.” (p. 106)  This is the “adventure” of finding our true selves and manifesting on earth our true home-a peaceable kingdom for all beings. 

To help us manifest this paradise, Ellwood shares  from her knowledge of literature.  For example, she recalls for us how Frodo refused to kill Gollum in Lord of the Rings even though Gollum was a significant threat.  It was because Frodo took pity on Gollum who could not see beyond his own greed that a great evil was averted.  Much of the suffering and devastation of our earth is caused by greed and fear, but as bringers of compassion, we must have compassion both for victims and those involved in victimizing who cannot see beyond themselves.  Acts of compassion are powerful beyond our knowledge.    

After reading Taking the Adventure you may feel you just received another college degree--it is so rich in information and imagination.  But much more than that—this is a book that enlivens us all with new energy and commitment for being steadfast in our passion to free the animals from human domination, to raise human consciousness, and to bring paradise to earth for all who live here.  It is a book that we must share widely within our community of activists. It will be a special healing balm for those who feel discouraged or alone in this work.  It is also a book to buy and give to people of faith, social justice activists, world peace activists, scholars, and every adventurer who wants to make the world a better place.  This book  is a ray of light that needs to be shining into all the dark places. Thank you, Gracia Fay Ellwood, for this brilliant gift of Light, Love, and Hope.    


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hope for Wolves, Grass Eating Criminals, Mother Earth, and us



This is my most recent article for Planet Kansas.  You can see the article on pages 18-19 online here

Sierra Club Planet Kansas, Fall, 2014, Issue
Eating as Though the Earth Matters column


Hope for Wolves, Grass Eating Criminals, Mother Earth, and us
At a rest stop on I-70 not too far west of Topeka I saw something so peculiar I had to make a note of it.  It was a quote from a man named Carl Becker whose words were immortalized on a plaque there.  To paraphrase, his statement was this: When you look at wilderness, you lose hope.  So see it not for what it is but for what it can be.  Having just driven from Yosemite where I was overcome at each turn of the road by the majesty of the place, it was a jolting reminder that not everyone was a John Muir fan. It was Muir, as you know, who helped save Yosemite from those who would have only “found hope” in greedily taking it apart piece by piece for profit.

Those two world views reveal a lot about our challenges today as we seek to save our precious earth from the ravages of the human propensity to look at everything as objects put here just for our use.  The fear of and estrangement from nature, coupled with our seemingly endless ideas on how to use it to our benefit has spelled disaster for ecosystems everywhere.

But is the tide turning in favor of Mother Earth?  Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club quotes President Obama as saying to new college graduates, “You’re going to have to push those of us in power to do what this American moment demands.”  He was referring to the environmental crises.  Brune points out that 70% of U.S. adults polled, across party lines, agree that greenhouse gases from power plants should be limited. His hope and belief is that the U.S. can get all its electricity without coal or gas by 2030.  He could be right.  Already there are more people working for solar companies than there are coal miners. 
The world view that our species is the center of the universe and that everything is here simply for us to use—appears to be losing ground, perhaps just in the nick of time.  Animals, of course, both wild and domesticated, have been victims of that “all for us” belief system for thousands of years.

A recent example is the killing of the alpha female of the Huckleberry wolf pack by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  According to Defenders of Wildlife, WDFW had assured the public that no alpha wolves would be killed because they are so crucial to any pack’s survival.  As you know, wolves are being killed at a devastating rate all over the northwest.

Why?  Big Agriculture and small ranchers, including those who claim to be humane.  A federal agency known as Wildlife Services, using our tax dollars, and other agencies are at their beck and call.  The wild carnivores are killed to prevent them from killing cows, goats, sheep, chickens, etc. all of whom are going to be killed themselves by human beings for profit.  Or, in the case of prairie dogs (58,000 of whom were killed in 2013 alone), bison, and other herbivores, their crime was eating grass. Such is the “hope” of animal producers—that they can control and manipulate nature and those who live in it to make a financial profit. The mindset behind it is that the oppression and domination of those who can’t defend themselves is acceptable as long as it benefits the oppressor.  Shooting entire families of wolves from helicopters and/or poisoning them in their dens is an example of this moral and ethical abyss.

In other articles I have shared with you, we have looked deeply at the many water, air and earth catastrophes caused by animal agriculture.. So in this article we will just focus on the devastation it causes to wildlife and ecosystems.

According to Norm Phelps in his book The Longest Struggle, the well-known environmental group known as Greenpeace began a unique campaign.  Paul Watson, one of the founders, convinced his fellow activists that defending the environment and ecosystems involved defending the individual animals as well and indeed seeing them as individuals with feelings, families and lives of their own. 
So in 1975 they acquired a ship which they named “Greenpeace V” with a plan to stop Soviet, Japanese, and Icelandic whalers from killing whales. Using inflatable zodiacs, they attempted to place themselves between the whales and the harpoons.  Not caring about the protesters, the Russians fired anyway. This group also attempted to place themselves between baby harp seals and their killers and famously sprayed nontoxic red dye on the babies to make their white coats worthless to the seal killers. Greenpeace eventually stopped that kind of activism designed to raise public awareness and save individual animal’s lives along with their ecosystems.  Paul Watson resigned from Greenpeace and formed the now world famous “Whale Wars” environmental and vegan group, Sea Shepherd. 

Paul teaches and demonstrates the new world view that we human beings are not the center of the universe and that animals are not here for us to use.  He and many other wise environmentalists are making it clear that “protecting ecosystems” is not enough. Our ethics, as Einstein, Gandhi, Schweitzer and many others have made clear, must expand to include nonviolence to all living beings, not just people.  Without such an ethic, we are mired in violence.  When entire families of prairie dogs and wolves are killed so that we can kill cows, we have to ask ourselves—What is wrong with this picture?

Most of our cultures down through the ages have programmed us from early childhood to accept the domination dogma that Carl Becker and so many have unquestioningly lived by.  But always in the background there have been those iconoclasts who questioned authority and looked more deeply at who we are and what our place in the world’s ecosystem really is.  It takes a lot of courage to step out of the mainstream and as Walt Whitman penned, “dismiss whatever insults your own soul…”  I believe our souls cry out at the news that mother wolves and their babies are killed by guns and poisons against which they have no defense—just so we can kill more cows. 

Reporter Stephanie Lee covered a story for the San Francisco Chronicle in August about some  new companies that are making a profit without harming wildlife or other animals.  Hampton Creek has developed an egg substitute made from plant proteins.  They are rethinking, as Lee says, “the way food is made.”    
She states, “…high-tech food makers backed by the likes of Bill Gates and the co-founders of Twitter are finding a place on supermarket shelves. Hampton Creek's mayonnaise and cookies, both plant-based, are in 10,000 stores worldwide. Plant-protein-derived chicken and beef by Beyond Meat in Southern California will soon be in 6,000 stores nationally.”  Recognizing the environmental, health, and nonviolence benefits of plant based foods, these company founders and investors are taking a stand for a better world.
Hampton Creek is being backed by some very forward looking investors including Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, Jerry Yang who co-founded Yahoo, billionaire Tom Steyer, Gates, as well as Khosla Ventures, and others.

Some of these same investors are backing Ethan Brown’s company, Beyond Meat.  He started the company, he says, because he cares about animals and wanted to help them and the Earth. Biz Stone, founder of Twitter, a vegan, and an investor in Beyond Meat, calls it a “disruptive technology company,” in essence questioning the status quo, dismissing what is so deeply insulting our souls, and creating a new way to bring food to all tables (including the worlds’ hungry) without violence to the earth, wildlife, and other animals..  

Beyond Meat's research has found that 4% of the U.S. population is vegan.  Brown points out that the meat people are eating is causing serious health and environmental issues.  Yet many do not want to give it up.  His answer to that: ‘…so why give it up? Why not try plant-based meat?’

As environmentalists, our “hope” is not Carl Becker’s “seeing [wilderness] for what it can be” after we manipulate it, but rather to be caught up in the awe and wonder of wilderness and the animals who live on this planet with us, to be able to live lightly upon the earth, indeed to do everything we can to bring back the clean air, water, and soil that once blessed our earthly home.

As I have said in all my previous “Eating As Though The Earth Matters” articles, the good news and the “hope” is close at hand.  Three times each day, starting now, each one of us can make an astounding impact for good by eating vegan, plant based, nonviolent meals and committing ourselves to nonviolent practices toward this sacred Earth and all who live here. 
© 2014, Judy Carman, M.A., is author of Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul and co-author of The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of our Kinship with Animal;. 2014 winner of the Henry Spira Grassroots Animal Activist award; and owner of a truck and a car powered by used veggie oil and house powered by solar. Her primary websites are circleofcompassion.org and peacetoallbeings.com.