Animal Liberation is Human Liberation

Welcome to Peace to All Beings. Until we liberate animals from human exploitation and violence, we cannot expect to have true freedom and peace for ourselves. We human beings can awaken to our higher consciousness and embrace a new paradigm of living in harmony, rather than in fear and domination. We can become "Homo Ahimsa," my term for a new nonviolent and kind human, but we must make that choice together. There is hope for our species--hope that we will not continue this war against animals and the earth. 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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Compassionate response to turkey's death

Recently a fraternity holiday party at Kansas University turned disastrous for one turkey who was “rented” for the event. Tragically, during the party the combination of too much liquor, underage drinking, no adult supervision, and bravado turned deadly for this turkey who was on display in a cage. The boys kicked in the cage causing the turkey to run terrified into the mob, members of which then decided to torture her or him. Her limbs were broken as the sadism continued.

The band stopped playing and several members attempted to rescue the turkey, but the mob killed the turkey before they could intervene. So they called the police.

The bad news is that this happened at all; that human beings do such things.

The good news is that the University, the Interfraternity Council, the District Attorney, and the main office of the fraternity itself have publicly declared this to be unacceptable behavior. This is punishable as a felony in the state of Kansas, and the display of the turkey is illegal in Lawrence, KS. The police have promised to investigate. Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns  and Animal Outreach of Kansas both sent out mass emails, and the letters, emails, and calls are flooding into the authorities. Also, the local newspaper, Lawrence Journal World  printed my letter to the editor.

Here is the text of the letter:

"On Dec. 14, the Kansas University Beta Theta Pi fraternity gained unwanted national attention as a result of alleged abuse and killing of a turkey who had been “rented” for a party. According to band members and witnesses, the bird was chased and choked and thrown like a football.

"According to witnesses cited in news reports, when the turkey’s wing snapped, and then her leg, the animal began screaming. After this abuse, the innocent, defenseless bird was killed. KU officials, the Interfraternity Council, and the Beta Theta Pi office have expressed their dismay at this cruel, violent crime.

"If we find this conduct disturbing and cruel, I believe it is because this is one turkey with whom we can identify and for whom we can feel empathy. We might imagine what it would be like to be in the hands of a mob that finds it amusing to torture us.

"And yet, the anonymous turkeys whom we eat are just as innocent and defenseless. If we are capable of feeling compassion for this one, then our hearts are telling us to have the same concern for all turkeys. We can save them from the torture and death they endure every single day on farms and in slaughterhouses by refusing to eat them."

A decade or so ago, such behavior might never have been made public, much less have the possibility of prosecution. Compassion for animals is increasing. In honor of this one turkey, let us give thanks for all the people who are being proactive in seeking justice for her violent death. In honor of the millions of turkeys who are tortured, killed, and eaten every single day, let us give thanks for all those people with caring hearts who refuse to eat them and strive to protect them. May our prayers and our actions never cease as we visualize and work toward a world in which all beings are safe from cruel human hands, and all humanity finally comes to understand, love, and live in harmony with all living beings.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be free.

This post can also be found in the Prayer Circle archives at
Please visit the website  often to see updates and special prayers, and also to join in our “A prayer a day for animals” which features a prayer for a different group of animals each day of the week.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Karuna For Animals--a website to treasure

I wrote this for a recent Prayer Circle for Animals Weekly Update

Our prayers for all animals continue to circle the earth, to uplift humanity’s consciousness,
and to bless the animals themselves. Thank you for joining people around the world
who are praying this prayer in many different languages but all with the same love: “COMPASSION ENCIRCLES THE EARTH FOR ALL BEINGS EVERYWHERE”

This internet world, techie though it may be, is linking us together in ways few could have imagined 100 years ago. With it, the power of our prayers has grown exponentially along with the realization that millions of us are praying together for a world of peace for all beings. Recently, I met a wonderful new e-friend when she ordered some of the animal prayer flags. Her name is Erica Settino, and I want to share what she is up to, because I know you will love it. Her group is called Karuna for Animals: Compassion in Action. “Karuna,” of course is the Sanskrit word for compassion. They are an all volunteer yoga based group “whose members seek to promote compassion (karuna), peace (shanti), and loving-kindness (metta) for animals of all species. It is our mission to raise awareness and funds for the rights of all animals. Through a dedicated practice of the science of yoga, community outreach, humane education, vegan cooking and nutrition education, and monthly fundraisers, we aim to cultivate the change we hope to see in the world.” The group also has a goal of creating an Animal Sharanam (Sanskrit for sanctuary) on Long Island.

Suresh Jindal is quoted on the website: “Once we experience and feel this inter-dependence of all living beings, we will cease to hurt, humiliate, exploit and kill another. We will want to free all sentient beings from suffering. This is karuna, compassion, which in turn gives rise to the responsibility to create happiness and its causes for all."

Please visit Erica’s website when you get a chance. Not only is it lovely, inspiring, and informative, but it lets us know—there are so many of us holding the vision, doing the work, praying the prayers. So this week, let us hold in our hearts a special prayer for all those out there, many whom we have not yet met, who are faithfully praying for the animals. May the compassion and loving-kindness being endlessly sent out by all of them and by us radiate into every heart on earth.

Thank you from my heart to yours. No matter how long it takes—we are all connected in Divine Love and Truth.
May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Going Wild for Wildlife

This was my Planet Kansas column, “Eating As Though The Earth Matters," for the Kansas Sierra Club magazine, October-November, 2012, Issue. 

Going Wild for Wildlife

Years ago in the ‘70’s, when I volunteered for Save the Tallgrass Prairie, we made t-shirts for one of our conferences with the saying on it—“Wild Kansas—It’s Big Medicine.” The idea behind it, of course, was that we must keep the wild places wild and protect those who live there, because without them we would “die from a great loneliness of spirit” as Chief Seattle is often quoted. And also because it is simply and obviously our responsibility not to destroy them.

Wendell Berry, in his famous poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” longs to “lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water…” For many environmentalists, our love for the outdoors and the animals who live there was the main impetus that got us involved in the movement in the first place. And for those of us who were actually alive in the ‘70’s, we’ve accomplished a lot, but we have also mourned many losses and experienced firsthand that “loneliness of spirit” that comes from learning of another oil spill or another animal who has been killed or whose entire species has been lost.

Polar bears and whales

The fragile and pristine Chukchi Sea area in Alaska is under attack by Shell Alaska, now that the federal government has granted Shell a permit. In recent news they had to stop drilling for oil due to huge chunks of ice moving in their direction, but they intend to return and their actions, if they are not stopped by legal means, will cause unimaginable destruction to the land, air, and water there and suffering and death to the many threatened and endangered wild creatures whose habitat is being invaded—polar bears, walruses, bowhead whales, and many others. In addition to the drilling permit, Shell received a waiver for clean-air standards.


In Washington state, a rancher lost two animals, allegedly to wolves. The Department of Fish and Wildlife there now plans to kill four of the wolves in the Wedge pack ( also known as a family) causing devastating trauma to the rest of the pack. There are only eight packs in the state barely hanging on after they were exterminated decades ago. Wyoming, on the other hand, plans to kill wolves statewide as their protection as an endangered species has been lifted.
Turtles and sharks

The National Marine Fisheries Service is allowing California to continue fishing with mile-long gillnets. Endangered sea turtles, whales, and many other marine mammals and thousands of fish and sharks, considered trash by the fishermen, are killed by these nets, not to mention the millions who are sold and eaten.

Wild horses

Wild horses are being driven from their last remaining homes by terrifyingly noisy helicopters into holding facilities where their lives become completely disrupted. How tragic to think of that icon of wildness and unbridled freedom being captured and left without any semblance of the life that they love. The reason for this, of course, is once again to allow ranchers to maximize their range.

And let’s not forget prairie dogs and the many other innocent animals who are losing ground (literally) to make room for more livestock or tossed away as trash into the sea Not only are they being killed to get them out of the way, but also their water and ours, their air and ours, and their land and ours are being horribly contaminated by livestock raising and cruel, wasteful fishing practices, particularly when it is intensive factory farming (for both fish and land animals).

The earth matters to us, and the earth matters to all these animals. What can we do to save them and their habitats? Of course, there are many things we can do from letter writing to active protests, but there is one thing we can do that takes no extra time or money. Every day we eat. And how we eat directly affects the earth. Eating animals and their products , as you can see from the sampling above, causes wild animals to lose their habitats and their lives.

There are many programs aimed at getting ranchers to peacefully coexist with wildlife, but progress is too slow. We must do more. Reducing and eventually eliminating the buying of meat, milk, and eggs would end the arrogant practice of killing wildlife to protect animals who are also going to be killed. If you’re wondering why I included drilling for oil as relevant to what we eat, such activities are also deeply entrenched in livestock raising. A November/December Sierra club magazine article (p. 21) reported that if everyone in the U.S. eliminated meat and cheese just one day per week, that would be the equivalent of “taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” To expand that out to eliminating meat and cheese altogether, 7 days per week, that would be equivalent to reducing the need for fuel for 53.2 million cars.

If it sounds like a wild idea, well, I guess it is.

Let’s go wild for the wilderness and all those who live there too.
It’s “Big Medicine” for all of us.

Copyright, Judy Carman, 2012

Dreaming the "impossible" dream

Last Tuesday, October 16, 2012, our elephant campaign to free Tembo and Sunda from the Topeka, Kansas, Zoo ran into a roadblock bigger than any so far. The Zoo hired Alan Roocroft, an expert on captive elephants and their feet, to inspect Tembo and Sunda and make his recommendation regarding their future. Prior to his arrival, we were hopeful, because we had read some of his writings which were strongly worded and indicated that captive elephants suffer greatly from the hard surfaces on which they are forced to stand and lie down.

Yet, to our sad surprise, he stated that Tembo and Sunda were in great health (in spite of USDA violations) and recommended that they stay at the Zoo for the rest of their lives. He suggested a few enrichments, including moving hay around at different heights and locations to keep the elephants busier. The vote from the city council is anticipated to take place October 23, this Tuesday. We will be there but fully expect to see the council vote against sending Tembo and Sunda to The Elephant Sanctuary.

As I have pondered this over the last week, an old song keeps coming to mind. It is “The Impossible Dream.” You can hear it sung beautifully at The words bring tears to my eyes for our elephant campaign, but also for all the work that all of you and all animal activists are doing to teach the world that animals are not ours to use, enslave, incarcerate, exploit, eat, experiment on, or force to entertain us. Like the Man of La Mancha in the song, we may be seen as crazy for this revolutionary idea, but our hearts will not rest unless we dream this impossible dream, pray this impossible prayer, and always, always know that ‘though it appears impossible in the physical realm, it is not only possible but the only true reality. Here are the words to the song by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion. May they bless you and inspire you in your quest to right the terrible wrongs being done to our animal brothers and sisters.

To dream the impossible dream; To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow; To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong; To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary; To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest; To follow that star
No matter how hopeless; No matter how far
To fight for the right; Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell; For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true ; To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm; When I'm laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this; That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage; To reach the unreachable star

Thank you from my heart to yours. No matter how long it takes—we are all connected in Divine Love and Truth.

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Should religion or spirituality play a role in how we eat?

Good News: The Lawrence (KS) Journal World published an answer written by me to the question—“Should religion or spirituality play a role in how we eat? Why or why not?”  It appeared in Saturday’s paper 9-21-12.  Thank you, Lawrence Journal World,  for the opportunity to share this message of kindness to all beings. 
“Should religion or spirituality play a role in how we eat?
Why or why not?”

Driving down 6th Street I saw a bumper sticker that read “Lovingkindness is my religion.” Who can argue with that? At the root of nearly all religions, lovingkindness and nonviolence are the spiritual ideals. As people of faith, we hope to apply these ideals as best we can in all areas of our lives. But what about how we eat? If we want to eat with lovingkindness, then we must face the brutal and violent process that sentient beings endure before ending up on our plates.

Very few of us have been on the killing floors of slaughterhouses or stood on the decks of ships that haul in thousands of suffocating and dying fish, turtles, dolphins, and others. So it is easy not to think about the animals themselves. Yet while you read this short article, millions of animals are being raised and killed in ways most of us could not bear to witness. Nevertheless, although we may not see them suffer--our souls hear their cries for mercy.

“Spiritual progress,” said Gandhi, “demands from us at a certain point that we stop killing our fellow living beings...” Schweitzer, St. Francis, Jesus, Einstein, Tolstoy, Rachel Carson, and many others have taught us that nonviolence toward all sacred life must be our aim. The nearly universal spiritual ideal to “love one another” requires us to embrace all beings, not just people, in our circle of compassion. As our faith grows, so does our desire to live by our highest ideals. When we stop eating animal products, we are no longer eating violence, and our hearts and souls can at last be at peace.

We are here, not to destroy but to celebrate life and to love and care for all God’s miracles—all animals and all people-- who share this world with us.
May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Cove--Many pilot whales brutally killed in Japan

If you have seen or heard about the film “The Cove,” then you know what happens there. The season for killing dolphins and whales in the Cove began September 1 and will continue through March. This past Thursday, 24 to 26 pilot whales were acoustically captured by Japanese fisherman and forced into the Cove. Three of the whales were caught and will be sold into captivity. The rest were killed brutally on Sunday, September 9, despite heroic efforts by Sea Shepherd and Cove Guardian activists to try to stop the murders. There is an online article at

Today let us honor those beautiful, innocent whales. Each one of us can hold our own quiet memorial for each one of them. May they swim to the Light on the ocean of tears that are being shed for them by those of us around the world bearing witness to their horrible suffering and death.

We also need to hold in our prayers the Cove Guardians whose hearts are broken again and again as they try to stop this brutality. Let us also send our prayers to the men who are doing the killing. Our prayers have the power to lift them out of their ignorance, greed, and unconsciousness. Truly they do not know whom they are torturing and killing. May each of them look into the eyes of just one whale and be transformed. May their souls meet eye to eye with the souls of the whales and in that moment see the Truth. It is in seeing that Truth, that they will gain the peace and liberation that comes from protecting and loving all beings and never again staining their hands with the blood of innocent whales and dolphins.

Thank you from my heart to yours—we are all connected in Divine Love and Truth.

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy


I recently posted this as a Prayer Circle for Animals Weekly Update.  You can sign up for these updates at  Please visit the website  often to see updates and special prayers, and also to join in our “A prayer a day for animals” which features a prayer for a different group of animals each day of the week. It is also a place to send ideas or prayer requests. Please forward this widely so that we may continue to add more people to our ever-expanding worldwide circle of compassion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Activist Solidarity

A Symphony of Activism
Here in Kansas not only do we have the Symphony on the Prairie to brag about, but recently a new kind of symphony appeared in our state. The first annual Great Plains Conference on Animals and the Environment ( took place the last weekend of April in Wichita. Why do I call it a symphony?

In this column we’ve talked a lot about the many activist movements, what they have in common, and the importance of mutual respect and cooperation among the movements as we work together to re-create a world in which all living beings can thrive. The harmony that results from that cooperation can indeed create a kind of symphony.

The conference was a beautiful example of how that can be done. The overarching theme was that so many issues relating to animals and the environment are interconnected and require a holistic approach by us all and a willingness to listen to each other and work together.

The sponsors were: Advancing Compassion Together, an intergenerational Roots & Shoots affiliate group which works to empower people to make a difference in assisting human and non-human animals and the environment; the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Wichita; the Humane Society of the United States—“a national animal protection organization that helps animals by advocating for better laws to protect animals; conducting campaigns to reform industries; providing animal rescue and emergency response; investigating cases of animal cruelty; and caring for animals through sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers, emergency shelters, and clinics.” The fourth sponsor was the Union for Humans, Animals, and the Environment which is a “student organization at Fort Hays State University dedicated to promoting solidarity, equality, consideration, and respect for all life.”

A wide variety of topics were addressed, and yet always on the minds of attendees were the intricate connections between them all. Subjects included: cruelty to animals used in entertainment and in scientific experiments; animal ordinances in Kansas; the dire consequences of a meat based diet on animals, the environment, and our health; preparing for emergency response to local disasters; endangered and threatened species with emphasis on Great Plains species; environmental sustainability and how our lifestyles, including our dietary choices, threaten the earth; compassionate responses to feral and stray cats, while addressing their impact on wildlife; gardens, including restoring native plants; history of animal rights; animal shelter, rescue and foster programs; wildlife rehabilitation; and philosophical perspectives.

Folks behind the scenes and the speakers themselves, including Dianne Waltner, Brendan McCampbell, Sheri Barnes, Midge Grinstead, Parendi and Aryenish Birdie, and many others (see the entire list of speakers on the website) really did create a symphony. Each speaker had his or her own specialized focus, and like so many different instruments, we could all see by the end of the day, the beautiful music we can make when working together toward a common vision, each bringing our own skills, interests, and gifts.

In addition to speaking at this ground breaking conference, a week later I spoke at a conference at The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. The Farm is famous for starting out with around 1,000 young folks who followed Stephen Gaskin in a long caravan of old school buses from California to Tennessee in the early ‘70’s. They had been listening to Gaskin talk about living in harmony with the earth, and they were all determined to “walk their talk.” They moved onto the forested land without a lot of survival skills. They had to learn how to garden very quickly as you can imagine.

They were all committed vegans and started one of the first soy/tofu dairies in the U.S. I must say that while I was there I had the best soy yogurt I’ve ever eaten. I was in Kansas City during those years raising my kids, but I remember the same commitment among my environmentalist/anti-nuke friends to be vegetarian.

The modern animal rights movement was just getting under way. A lot of the shocking undercover footage of the cruelty and pollution at factory farms and slaughterhouses had not yet come to light. So the commitment to not eat meat had more to do with our desire to eliminate violence from ourselves and our world—it just seemed to go hand in hand with shutting down nuclear plants and saving baby harp seals.

We were finding together a way to express our inner turmoil about the condition of the world. We questioned authority—not just in one specialized area, but in all areas—because the authority in charge was (and is) profiting from dominating and exploiting people, animals, and the earth.

So it thrilled me to attend the Great Plains Conference on Animals and the Environment and to hear its symphony. I believe this is a sign that we are coming around full circle. Eating as though the Earth matters (the name of this column) expresses it so well. Eating a plant-based, nonviolent diet is the fulcrum point, because the consequences of that one lifestyle commitment touch every single aspect of our work—the seas, the waters, the air, wildlife, the soil, and as I said in the April-May issue—our health. May we all once again embrace each interconnected issue with the clear understanding that we need each other if we are going to restore this sacred earth and raise the consciousness of humanity.

In the words of Wendell Berry, “We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us…We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.” (from The Long Legged House)

This article, written by Judy Carman, is in the latest "Planet Kansas" Sierra Club magazine in the "Eating as though the Earth Matters" column. 

Tools to Cope with Grief

Compassion means to “suffer with” or, at least, to have sympathy for those who suffer. As activists whose hearts have been opened and as people who have borne witness to some of the worst atrocities human beings have ever committed, we are faced with an extraordinary challenge and opportunity.

By opening our hearts to all beings we simultaneously align ourselves with the Love Energy of God or one could call it the Divine Life Force that dwells in all. Yet, in doing so, the suffering of the animals, the earth, and exploited human beings catches up to us and can feel absolutely overwhelming. It can cause us to consider trying to forget about it all even though we know there is no turning back—not really. But it is the heart that is wounded and broken by its “suffering with” that has within it the seed of Awakening and the power to “be the change.”

How do we live with this? Is there a way to stay in balance, to stay aligned with Life and Love, to demonstrate the joy of being connected and truly alive without falling apart daily with each new revelation of cruelty and violence?

We need tools to keep our balance. Some of these include: pacing ourselves; allowing ourselves time to celebrate life and time to mourn; meditation; physical exercise; finding a community online and at home of vegans dedicated to nonviolence; dedicating ourselves to a specific action or actions that give us a sense of “doing something” and yet remaining unattached to the outcome; spiritual reading that is uplifting; spending time each day looking at something beautiful and being in nature feeling the heartbeat of earth through our bare feet (unless, of course, it’s really cold).

We are bombarded with ads and signs and news that promote cruelty and violence, and that can drag us into the abyss of seeing only that. It is essential that we not contract our hearts. For example, every time we see a barbque sign with a smiling pig with a fork in his hand on it, instead of getting angry and disgusted, let us think of the happy pigs living in peaceful sanctuaries and say a loving prayer for all the others. Loving thoughts from our hearts will heal this world.

Let us always remember, we are now in alignment with the Unconditional Love of the Universe. From that sacred place, we can rise above personal pain and do what we came here to do.

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Horseshoe Crab Vampires

Just when we think we have heard all the worst atrocities human beings are perpetrating on animals, another one appears. In Defenders of Wildlife spring, 2012, magazine, there is a photo of fully alive horseshoe crabs lined up, each one clamped in a vice above a stainless steel counter, while their blood drips into bottles beneath them. This is done to over half a million crabs each year. I gasped when I saw. I didn’t know. After some of their blood has been stolen, they are reportedly returned to the ocean. However, their numbers are declining, and biologists suspect this horrific treatment greatly reduces the likelihood they will survive once returned.

This sort of horror can only be conceived of and implemented by someone who has not questioned the prevailing cultural mindset of vampiric domination; the anthropocentric assumption that all others are things for certain human beings to use. This is the root of the suffering of all innocent animals and many people as well as the devastation of the earth.

This is the foundation of our prayers for all beings—that the human heart awaken to reverence for all life.
Once awakened, such violence will be unthinkable by all, just as it is unthinkable to us now. As Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote: “Even in the worm that crawls in the earth there glows a divine spark. When you slaughter a creature, you slaughter God.”

(The photo of the crabs does not appear online, but there are several paragraphs regarding their treatment in this article.)

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy

The article above was recently sent out as an update to those who have joined the worldwide prayer circle for animals.  Please visit the website often to see updates and special prayers, and also to join in our “A prayer a day for animals” which features a prayer for a different group of animals each day of the week. It is also a place to send ideas or prayer requests. Please forward this widely so that we may continue to add more people to our ever-expanding worldwide circle of compassion.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chickens are Friends, Not Food

May 4 is International Respect for Chickens Day, and the month of May is International Respect for Chickens Month. This day and month were launched by United Poultry Concerns 8 years ago. UPC has great brochures and posters you can order to use at educational events to help people make the heart/mind connection that chickens are friends not food.

It’s not quite May yet but several of us had the opportunity to hand out literature, display art, share vegan food, and speak out for chickens to a diverse group (many non-vegans) on Saturday, April 21. Ours was a response to “The Story of Chickens—A Revolution.” This was an art project orchestrated by Amber Hansen. Her purpose was to create dialogue about urban chicken raising and to get people thinking about the animals they eat. Her original plan was to display the chickens in public places for a month and then kill and eat them at the closing event.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to perform a chicken rescue, because the city prohibits both the public display and killing of chickens in city limits. So instead we had an opportunity as voices for the chickens to explain what beautiful beings they are, not here for us to use, but here for their own reasons. One point made was that the true “revolution” is not about so-called “humane” killing, but rather about becoming a non-violent species that cares for rather than destroys life.

In The Missing Peace, I tell the story in “Then I met chicken” about a little chicken who literally saved her people, including a toddler from being attacked by a dog. She flew at the dog, flapped her wings and pecked at his face until he ran off, allowing the people enough time to get inside their home.

All through May (and beyond, of course) let us be especially mindful of the billions of chickens who suffer endlessly every single day. They are prisoners of war on a scale never seen prior to this century. And while we send comfort and love from our hearts to theirs, let us also receive the peace and strength we need to carry on. The healing balm for the heartache of knowing what we know is that we See, not only their suffering, but also the radiant truth of who they are—our sacred brothers and sisters. As Paul Seymour so beautifully sings it—“They’re not here for us, we’re here for them.”

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy


Monday, March 5, 2012

Firestorm of Compassion for Chickens

(This is the latest Prayer Circle for Animals update.  
Will and Madeleine Tuttle and I send these out weekly. 
If you would like to get updates, just sign up here. )

Good News from the Heartland for animals: I live in Kansas-not the most progressive state in the country, especially when it comes to animal issues. However, a recent art project entitled "The Story of Chickens: A Revolution," inspired a firestorm of compassion from meat eaters and vegans alike. The artist proposed to display live chickens in a movable cage around town and then kill them as a public event and host a dinner at which they would be eaten. The outrage from around the country and locally was torrential. It came in online postings; letters to the editor; letters to the sponsoring museum, hosting art gallery, and chef; and many newspapers reported on it as well, allowing for emotional online comments to the articles. Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns, Mary Clouse of Chicken Run Rescue and the Justice for Animals Art Guild, Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary, and other compassionate leaders contributed greatly.

In addition to the outrage, the city code prohibits both displaying the chickens and killing them in the city limits. A museum board member and I met with the artist. Her primary goal was to awaken people to the fact that they are eating individual animals with personalities and needs of their own-a goal very much like ours. She displayed grace and flexibility as she has altered her project to include no live chickens. She has agreed to allow us to speak about chicken's rights, display animal positive artwork, and include vegan options at the public meal. To read one of the many articles, click here.

This is more evidence that people are waking up to the needs and rights of animals as well as to the disconnection most of us have experienced between our food and our natural love and compassion for animals. Please keep this ongoing project in your prayers that it may serve to further awaken the hearts of people and save the lives of chickens everywhere.

Thank you for loving, for caring, for being a powerful force of compassion in this world that needs you so much.

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy


Please visit the Prayer Circle for Animals often to see updates and special prayers, and also to join in our "A prayer a day for animals" which features a prayer for a different group of animals each day of the week. It is also a place to send ideas or prayer requests. Please join us so that we may continue to add more people to our ever-expanding circle of compassion.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Love and Empathy in Elephants and Other Friends

On Elephants: I just finished reading Jonathan Balcombe’s extraordinary photo essay book entitled The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure. Will Tuttle also interviewed this author on February 23. I hope you were fortunate enough to tune into that great discussion. Regarding elephants, Balcombe describes (p. 108) an incident among free elephants witnessed by expert observers.

“…when Eleanor, the matriarch of a family unit called the First Ladies, became gravely ill and fell to the ground, she was aided by Grace, the matriarch of another family called the Virtues. Seeing her down, Grace ran over to Eleanor with her tail raised and temporal glands streaming secretions, sniffed and touched Eleanor with her trunk and foot, then used her tusks to help lift Eleanor to her feet. But the effort was ultimately unsuccessful, and during the week following Eleanor’s death, elephants from five family units visited her body…there can be no question that elephants show deep emotional concern for others…”

He also notes that spindle cells, which are large
neurons thought to be responsible in the human brain for
empathy, love, and emotional suffering,
have been discovered in the brains of other
primates, whales and now elephants.

The campaign in Topeka to free elephants Tembo and Sunda continues. The zoo appears to be seriously considering closing the exhibit soon. However, they could send these long suffering elephants to another zoo instead of to The Elephant Sanctuary as we are requesting. Please keep Tembo and Sunda and the decision makers in your powerful and compassionate prayers over the next few months.

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

With Love, peace, and gratitude from Judy


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Peace and Justice on Our Plates--latest article for Sierra Club

This is my latest article for the Sierra Club Planet Kansas.  It appears in the February-March, 2012, Issue,

"Eating as Though the Earth Matters" column.

Peace and Justice on Our Plates

In my December-January column, we looked at the interconnections of all the justice movements—peace, earth, social justice, and animal rights. Each movement is seeking to create peace, justice, and a world healed from the ravages of greed and fear. Synchronistically, in the same issue of Planet Kansas, Bob Summer reported that the Kansas Chapter’s Executive Committee made an October, 2011, recommendation to the national Board that Sierra Club adopt an anti-war resolution. The resolution they recommended would include withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and also downsizing military presence overseas.

Why would an environmental group take a stand on war and peace? As Sommer points out, wars and military occupation take a huge toll on nature. Daily use of millions of gallons of oil, destruction of habitat with weaponry and military installations, fouling of water supplies, and an endless list of heart breaking atrocities add up to extreme environmental degradation.

In the same issue of Planet Kansas, Craig Lubow shared with us the connection between environmentalism and human rights. He reported that the Sierra Club joined Amnesty International to co-produce a video on the subject. Some of the worst environmental catastrophes have taken place where people are impoverished. Mining, oil, animal agriculture, fishing, and other industries often invade areas where people are few and/or have little influence to stop the destruction. Multinational corporations, responsible for death and appalling pollution, toxic waste, and the destruction of livelihoods, do all they can to ignore the trail of tragedy that they leave in their wakes.

So while we work within our own organizations to further planetary healing, and as the Occupy movement continues to underline all these intricate interconnections, we find ourselves working together more often than ever. This beautiful planet is both literally and symbolically our common ground.

I recently ran across yet another example of a threat to the earth that requires cooperation from all of us. In a Huffington Post online article by Tom Zeller entitled, “Biodiversity on earth plummets, despite growth in protected habitats” (9-29-11). In it he explains that, in spite of the increase in designated protected habitat areas, species diversity is still dropping.

Since the ‘60’s 7 million square miles of land and 1 million square miles of sea have become protected areas. As you can see in the charts, both land and sea species have disappeared at an alarming rate in spite of the increase in these areas. We are looking at huge numbers of people working so hard, many as unpaid volunteers, to protect these areas, and yet it does not seem to be enough.

And, of course, as we know, species diversity is not just about saving the animals for their own sakes, it is also about saving life on earth in general. In other words, this loss affects human beings as well and in every way. The delicate balance created by the interconnecting dance of species is key to our survival physically. Spiritually and emotionally, the loss of these animals in our world creates a profound underlying sense of grief for us all.

Simply put, creating these havens for animals to live undisturbed by people and giant, destructive corporations has not been enough. The enforcement has been sorely lacking, and the total amount of square miles is insufficient. But focusing only on increasing the square miles will not solve the global dilemma. Peter F. Sale, assistant director of the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health is quoted by Zeller: "Biodiversity loss is also caused by pollution, by arrival of invasive species, by decisions to convert habitat to other uses -- farms, villages, cities -- and by various components of climate change…”

There are simply too many angles from which the diversity of life is being attacked. Habitat protection is vital but not enough. As we have discussed, wars contribute mightily to habitat destruction as does the pollution caused by the multinationals. We have now seen the birth of the 7 billionth human being. In Lawrence, Kansas, I watch as trees, grass, and animal homes and food sources are stripped from the land to make room for more condos, big box stores, and apartments.

We are truly at a crossroads like no other. Loss of species diversity sounds very scientific. We can say it without much emotion, but what lies beneath the euphemism is the fact that innocent animals are dying, beautiful plants are being ripped from the earth, and the delicate balance of life itself is in grave danger.

So we see how these animals are dying because of wars, human rights violations, corporate greed, relentless pollution, but this, after all, is a column about eating as though the earth matters. One of the most invasive of all industries on earth is the animal agriculture industry, and I include the fishing industry in that. Bison, wolves, wild horses, coyotes, prairie dogs are all legally and ruthlessly killed to “protect” land for cattle. When we eat cow meat, we contribute to the deaths of those wild animals and the damage done to the ecosystem by cows confined in spaces too small for them.

Approximately 60% of all grain raised in the U.S. is grown for animals who are confined in feed lots, factory farms, so-called “humane” farms, and fish farms. Much of this grain is genetically modified which, as you know, is compromising the integrity of insect populations that are essential to pollination, not to mention the beauty of flowers. When we dine on cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other animals, we contribute to the loss of habitat that has been taken over to raise this feed grain, to the proliferation of the GMO industry, and to the deaths of butterflies.

It is no longer news that overfishing is threatening the ecological balance of earth. Huge fishing fleets are bent on profit without ethics. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone in 2010, Americans consumed an estimated 53 billion aquatic animals. When the customer will buy, the corporations will provide. According to Sea Shepherd, of TV’s Whale Wars fame, a bluefin tuna recently sold for $173,000.00. Evidently prized by sushi lovers especially in Japan, this magnificent fish is surely doomed to extinction at prices like that. And let’s not forget, as we consider the infinite interconnections in the web of life, that land animal agriculture and aquaculture is polluting the rivers and seas with untreated and unmonitored excrement which is full of pathogens, antibiotics, and toxic medications.

Linking together an exploding human population with animal agriculture, please consider the following figures for 2010, based on USDA reports:

• 9.2 billion chickens were killed for meat.

• 464 million chickens were raised for eggs and killed when they no longer produced enough eggs.

• 276 million turkeys were killed for meat.

• 202 million cows, pigs, other mammals, ducks and geese were killed for meat.

• 53 billion aquatic animals are estimated to have been killed for food.

Globally, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization figures indicate that the number of land animals killed for food exceeds 65 billion. The organization does not have global estimates for aquatic animal deaths.

Let us imagine for a moment the immensity of these numbers just for land animals alone. The amount of space and feed needed to raise these animals; the amount of pollution from their contaminated excrement, blood, body parts, and diseased carcasses: the amount of water needed to sustain them and then slaughter them; the fuel needed to transport them and their remains—well, you get the picture. Can anyone argue that that is sustainable? If human beings continue to eat animals, we will be eating them and our planet.

But the Good News Is...
What I love most about writing this column “Eating as Though the Earth Matters,” is that in spite of all the dire facts, predictions, and sad news, I get to offer something amazingly simple and optimistic that each one of us can do to make a big difference for the earth, the animals, social justice, world peace, and even our own health. Without taking any extra time or costing any more money, activists all over the world can continue the great work they are doing and take an immediate stand three times a day (or more if you eat a lot of snacks). Eliminating animal products from our meals directly impacts big agribusiness and big fishing—two of the most destructive industries on earth. As I have called it before, it is the mother of all boycotts, and we have the power to do it. It is a power that comes from the heart of us all, generated not by greed or fear, but by love for life, for this miracle we call earth, for our grandkids that they may wade in crystal clear creeks and see butterflies.

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to evil power.
It is rather a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of Love.” That is our power.
May we use it wisely and well for all living beings and for the earth
as we go forward in solidarity with each other.

Monday, January 16, 2012

From Racism to Speciesism with Gratitude to MLK

I send out a weekly update to the Prayer Circle for Animals.  This message went out today on Martin Luther King Day.  If you would like to sign up for these updates and/or join the Prayer Circle for Animals, please click here

Our prayers for all animals continue to circle the earth, to uplift humanity’s consciousness,
and to bless the animals themselves. Thank you for joining people around the world who are
 praying this prayer in many different languages but all with the same love:

Today we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., for all the great work he did toward bringing an end to racism. He lived what he taught and believed. He confronted the evil of racism with, in his words, “the power of love.”

As animal liberationists, we confront the evil of speciesism with the power of love. We all know that racism is still with us, but it has diminished significantly because of the courage of those who could see and speak the truth. The fact that racism has diminished is a beacon of hope for us. In the same way, we are seeing speciesism begin to be understood by people and the number of people transforming their lives to vegan nonviolence increasing.

Just as MLK taught that we must be nonviolent and compassionate to all people, we are taking the next big step in human consciousness evolution and expanding the circle of nonviolence and compassion to include all beings.

On another note, our campaign to free the Topeka Zoo elephants is still on. We have erected two billboards in Topeka, KS, and they are causing quite a stir. Please pray for Tembo and Sunda that they will finally be set free to The Elephant Sanctuary. There is a lot of information on, including a “how to help” page. Tembo and Sunda need your prayers, and I believe they will be able to feel your love surrounding them.

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A New Year's Vision for Human and Animal Liberation

This week as we venture into this new year of promise and hope, let us envision a special liberation for all human beings. Let us see through all the trappings of everyday life—the costumes and customs that often hide the truth of who we all are—sacred beings all connected to one another and to all life. As we look past the surface of each of us, let us really “see” the true heart that beats in us all with love for all life.

The possibility, the potential for all people to become liberated from the paradigm of domination and fear is real. Let us bring clarity and faith to this vision of the dropping away of fear which leads to the desire to dominate and exploit. And as the fear drops away, we see unconditional love for all earthlings take its place in human hearts. Imagine and feel the joy that fills the earth with the mere thought of this radical liberation. As human hearts are unchained, so all animals are free to live and celebrate their own lives. Animal liberation truly is human liberation.

May all beings, including all people, be happy and free.