Edited by Michael Corthell, The Village Vegan
Before money as we know it, there was cattle. Around 9000 B.C., records show livestock, specifically cattle, was the universal currency. The word “capital” derived from cattle. This is also where the word chattel derived from- as in chattel slavery. Using non-human animals as currency combines two of humanity’s great failures, the monetary system and arbitrary discrimination. It is interesting that two of the most problematic ideologies of all human history share the same foundational basis.
From The Venus Project Website:
Q. “What about food? Would people eat meat?”
A. “Food and nutrition would be based upon personal preference and if studies indicate that eating living animals are detrimental to health the information would be there for all people. Through time and education and the manufacturing of synthetic proteins we could do away with killing fish and animals. We can not outlaw what [people] eat but we can outgrow the need for eating animal protein. During the transition to a better diet for those who need it we could also develop foods that taste and feel just like the ones they like eating but are healthier for people. We are also against experimenting on animals or people.”
This statement is problematic for many reasons. It assumes erroneously that the exploitation of non-human animals for their flesh and secretions is a morally sound, if questionably unhealthy, “personal preference”. Quite the contrary. The exploitation of non-human animals as resources to be used by humans is blatant speciesism – discrimination based on the arbitrary basis of species membership constructed within an anthropocentric view of the natural world – and is morally unacceptable. The use of non-human animals for the proteins in their flesh is no more a morally sound personal choice than slavery, rape, murder, child molestation, or any other act someone can choose to “personally” do. In all aforementioned comparisons, there is a victim, making the preference that much less “personal”.
It also assumes erroneously that studies have not indicated that eating “living” (it is assumed this means “once living”) animals are a detriment to human health and the information is not available for all people. It is the responsibility of the individual to determine, based on reviewing the science available, what is healthy. Those who have not reviewed the literature, but have relied on government and industry propaganda, remain willfully ignorant. It is agreed that “through time and education…we could do away with killing fish and animals”, but, while it might be true that consumption of flesh and secretions could decrease with the availability of non-animal synthetics, this does nothing to address the underlying cause of such prevalent and pervasive non-human animal exploitation in all aspects of human life – including food, clothing, entertainment, “pets”, and research- all examples of human exploitation of non-human animals as resources.
The statement implies that we can “outgrow the need for animal protein”. With a billion starving people in the world currently, the use of 50% of antibiotics produced on “livestock”, and an increasing amount of fossil fuels consumed to power machines to plant and harvest feed and to make and apply fertilizer and insecticide, I think we have “outgrown” our need to feed 50% of the world’s grain supply to “livestock” as much as we have “outgrown” our profit-motivated incentive to keep food surpluses from reaching the hands of starving people who need it.
We choose to exploit non-human animals, to use them as resources, at great expense to our existing morals, our current resources, non-human and human populations, the environment, the advancement of technology and medicine, and the evolution of the human species. It seems as though a large part of the ideology behind a resource-based economy would be determining what, exactly, qualifies as a resource. Not to address further aspects of human exploitation of non-human animals, human use of non-human animals as resources, besides using them for food and testing, hardly seems a proper amount of discourse to be focused on such an important and relevant topic. Maybe the suffering caused by humans using non-human animals for entertainment, or any other trivial purpose not mentioned in The Venus Project literature, is so clearly unnecessary, unjustified, and despicable as to not be worthy of intellectual argument. Further is an examination of how the ideology of speciesism and carnism, and our current exploitation of non-human animals as resources are as outdated and irrelevant as our monetary system.
“Justice should not be so fragile a commodity that it cannot
be extended across the species barrier of homo sapiens”
be extended across the species barrier of homo sapiens”
– Carol J. Adams
It is widely agreed that causing unnecessary suffering to a non-human animal is wrong. It is widely agreed that killing a non-human animal unnecessarily is wrong. It is also widely agreed by the scientific community that eating non-human animals or their secretions is unnecessary for achieving optimum nutrition, and has been shown to be injurious to human health. It logically follows that if it is unnecessary to eat non-human animals or their secretions, it is wrong to kill or exploit them in order to do so, by our existing moral standards. Further, it is obvious in modern society, considering the amount of plant-based and synthetic alternatives, that exploiting and killing non-human animals for their skins, fur, or hair is completely unnecessary. It logically follows that it is wrong to kill non-human animals for their skin.
Our confinement of non-human animals for the consumption of their flesh, and the manipulation of the reproductive cycle of female non-human animals for their secretions, along with the countless other trivial ways we benefit from the work of animals amount to nothing less than institutional animal slavery. There is no “sacrifice” or willingness involved on the part of the subject of exploitation. The use of non-human animals for their flesh or secretions can never be accomplished in a symbiotic or reciprocative way. For the same reasons (and more) that institutional human slavery, that is, the exploitation of humans as resources, is ethically unacceptable, the exploitation of non-human animals is ethically unacceptable. Using non-human animals as resources, as property, is only different from human slavery because of an arbitrary species difference. There is no given, or identifiable implied consent on the part of the non-human animal.
Scientific testing on non-human animals to extrapolate data for humans is bad science. Not only is non-human animal testing unnecessary thanks to increasing modern technological advances, making it increasing ethically unjustified, the fact is humans will never learn anything benefiting humans by studying on non-humans. Humans will only learn about animals by testing on animals. Everything we learn about animals has to be re-tested on humans to get accurate results. Extrapolation is not good science. Non-human animal testing not only limits scientific advance where humans are concerned, it is a danger to the safety of humans and animals en masse. In the case of diabetes, non-human animal testing stifled our understanding of the disease. “…in 1875, Hansemann concluded from experiments on dogs that that diabetes had nothing to do with the pancreas. It had already been found that diabetic patients excreted sugar in their urine, so extra sugar was given to them to compensate for this loss. In 1870 Bouchardat turned against this practice and recommended changes in the diet and exercise instead and this is acknowledged today as being a useful palliative. No animal experiments had been involved, only observation of humans. The animal model proved false.” In the case of Thalidomide, the drug was “designed to alleviate ‘morning sickness’ in pregnancy but resulted in deformed limbs in the children. In 1957, as incidences of the deformities came to be increasingly reported, the drug was given to scores of animals but no adverse effect could be found, until finally the White New Zealand rabbit replicated the ill-effects found on humans, and even then at a dose 25 to 300 times the dose given to humans. Then, in 1962, the drug was withdrawn, after having been marketed for 5 years and after over 10,000 children had been born crippled. This disaster should have demonstrated the futility of relying on animal models for testing drugs, but the lesson was ignored. Too much prestige and money was at stake.” (Link)
Broadly, it is just simply unnecessary to continue our history of animal exploitation in general. There is absolutely no reason any ethical human would seek to exploit any non-human animal for the reason that it is unnecessary, and to do so unnecessarily is unjustified. It is wrong. Humans evolved past any need to exploit non-human animals in any way a long time ago. The only reason humans can give to justify a process as inefficient and unsustainable as exploiting animals for use as resources is pleasure; because of the taste of flesh or secretions, because of the feel or look of skin or fur, because of the “entertainment” value in watching non-human animals be exploited in movies, at circuses, rodeos, bullfights, etc., or because of the “sport” of hunting. Human pleasure is not a good reason to violate the rights of animals, or to benefit from the suffering of others. What is necessary for the transformation of society and the emergence of a resource-based economy is for humans to recognize our moral obligation to respect the rights of animals to be free from exploitation and empathize with the non-human animals we use for enduring millennia of mostly unnecessary exploitation at the hands of humans. We must recognize that our anthropocentric view of existence and morality is false and needs to be eradicated. Our moral obligation to non-human animals could then be to try to raise their quality of life in the same proportions we human animals desire. It’s really the least we could do.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for
survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ”
survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. ”
– Albert Einstein
Even the most sustainable agriculture that includes domesticated animals as a source of food is nowhere near sustainable, let alone humane, and all methods are inherently inefficient. Vegan diets require about one-sixth of an acre of land to satisfy food requirements for a person for a year. The average carnist diet requires about 20 times that. Considering 99% of the meat, milk, and eggs is farmed in the most economically efficient way currently possible (factory farms), there is little argument to back up the “sustainable” animal farm myth. Arguably, the current industrial non-human animal exploitation system, with its almost fully-mechanized mono-cropping and global crop distribution, “concentrated animal feeding operations” and almost fully-mechanized slaughterhouses, is a morbid glimpse into the enhanced production capabilities of machines and the immediate possibilities for the emergence of a resource-based economy. Even with most of the “production” costs externalized onto non-human animals, humans, and the environment, resulting in the most inhumane conditions, the industrial non-human animal agriculture system falls extremely short of being even remotely sustainable. The only way to create a system as close to as sustainable as plant agriculture would be to further concentrate factory farming, to the point of being 20 times more efficient! (And thus 20 times more inhumane!) This would be a biological feat, though. Animals are reverse protein factories. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain (many more of grass), and up to 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of flesh. From a waste disposal standpoint, exploiting non-human animals is a travesty coupled with a burden. Non-human animals exploited for food in the U.S. produce 130 times the excrement of the entire population of humans. Nature has designed it to be a bad investment for humans to raise animals for food. The same goes for clothing. The amount of chemical pollutants produced in the tanning process combined with the health hazard to the individuals involved (non-human animals included) evidence the ridiculous and superfluous nature of this practice. But general statistics don’t really matter, because there are myriad ways to exploit animals that are less inefficient, or less inhumane, etc., and future methods of exploitation using advanced technology might be invented. The bottom line is: The amount of resources harvested from an acre of permaculture far exceeds any form of animal exploitation in producing relevant, usable material, with a plethora more uses as raw material. The current exploitation of animals for use as resources is extremely inefficient and unsustainable no matter the method, or the end use. However, the fact remains that even if the application of advanced technology made animal exploitation the most sustainable, environmentally friendly practice in the world, it would still be unethical because it is not necessary.
In relation to the sustainability and advancement of the entire human species, individual health is a big issue. The further we remove ourselves from close contact with confined non-human animals, the less zoonotic diseases can originate in non-human animals or be transferred across species. Most of our current contractable illnesses are thought to have stemmed from our exploitation and confinement of animals. Most of our other major diseases are either; caused by our ingestion of non-human animal flesh or secretions, or; prevented by consuming a plant-based diet.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Research into the effects of diet on health is sparse, which is odd considering western medicine is based on the teachings of Hippocrates. Doctors still swear his oath, “First, do no harm.” However, most western doctors have been indoctrinated by the Rockefeller accredited and funded propaganda that is used to maintain the zeitgeist of the health benefits of flesh and secretions. The captains of industry that financially supervise the accreditation process intentionally limit the information included on nutrition given to most M.D.s. Most M.D.s reportedly get only a few hours of nutrition education before accreditation. What little nutrition advice doctors do get is bought and paid-for by the corporations intent on profiting from the research, meaning, not surprisingly, very few negative results are found about the companies-funding-the-research’s products or manufacturing methods. Plain and simple, humans eating non-human animals’ flesh or secretions is a health disaster. The more a population consumes non-human animal flesh or secretions, the more preventable disease proliferates within that society. Flesh and secretions contain high levels of cholesterol, a compound not found in vegetation in any significant amount. Healthy humans produce all the cholesterol they will ever need in their liver. Dietary cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis, clogging arteries and eventually stopping blood to the heart, and a host of other preventable diseases. Flesh and secretions contain high levels of saturated fats, compounds found in few tropical plants. Saturated fats have been linked to obesity, coronary heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and a host of other preventable diseases. Flesh and secretions contain natural hormones, proteins, and chemicals that affect the human endocrine system, and have been liked to many cancers, type 1 and 2 diabetes, MS, and a host of other preventable diseases. Pregnant mammals such as cows release opioids into their milk to reinforce bonding between mother and cow. Most of the world is lactose intolerant, but addicted to cheese. Any educated person can look at the biology, physiology, and anatomy of humans and easily conclude we are physically constructed to sustain a completely vegetarian diet.
Illness and Disease
Food-borne illness is a major health concern. Food-borne illnesses such E. Coli, salmonella, pfisteria, campylobacter, etc., arise when confinement, exploitation, slaughter, and handling are done in unsanitary conditions. Bacteria grow in unsanitary conditions. Feces have a tendency to contaminate flesh in mechanized systems. In simple terms the problem is this; if non-human animals are confined too much, they get sick. If they are in conditions that will make them sick untreated, we have to pump them full of antibiotics, vaccines and pesticides. If not confined enough, they become unprofitable, therefor unsustainable. We cannot feed an ever-increasing population an unlimited supply of non-human animal flesh and secretions with old-fashioned “sustainable” methods. The only way to feed an ever-increasing population of humans is to further confine non-human animals to increasingly unsanitary conditions, raising the risk of bacterial outbreak. Further, the non-human animal waste that contains the bacteria is used as fertilizer and is responsible for the outbreaks of food-borne illness in vegetable crops. There is no chance of contracting a food borne illness in a food production system that does not include animals. The only reason we have to worry about E. Coli in spinach, or salmonella tomatoes is because of our confinement of animals to unsanitary conditions. Because of the inherent unsustainability of animal exploitation, producers are always looking for new ways to cut costs. One example is feeding non-human animals back to themselves. This is responsible for BSE, or “mad cow”. Examples like this spring up all over the animal exploitation industry- of corporations putting public health at risk to try and squeeze another penny out of an inherently flawed system; from ammonia-treated “beef” trimmings to animal flesh knowingly contaminated with E. Coli sold as “cook only”, from irradiated flesh to rBST, full circle to deliberately misleading the public about the negative health aspects of merely ingesting animal flesh and secretions themselves, not the bacteria contaminating them.
Interspecies Disease Spread
Zoonotic diseases in humans, spread from non-human animals to humans, are thought to be a direct result of confining animals in the first place. The spread of these diseases results from any confinement, not just factory-farms, but even the most “sustainable”, Polyface-style, farms. Intensive confinement just raises the ante, and creates suitable conditions for new, more dangerous diseases, increasingly resistant to antibiotics and vaccination. Here is a partial list of diseases we have “acquired” from our history of non-human animal confinement and exploitation, and the corresponding non-human animal to which each disease is attributed:
Tuberculosis – Goats
Measles – Cattle
Smallpox – Cattle
Anthrax – Sheep
Whooping Cough – Pigs
Typhoid Fever – Chickens
Influenza – Ducks
Leprosy – Water Buffalo
Common Cold – Cattle/Horses
Helicobacter Pylori – Sheep
Helicobacter Pullorum – Chickens
Hepatitis E – Pigs
Tularemia – Rabbits
Confining animals, even in the most ingenuitive of ways results in the spread of disease, and consumption of non-human animal flesh and secretion poses a risk to human health in general. Under the current system, the physical act of slaughter poses great risks to human safety. For the sake of profit, safety measures are routinely curtailed at the expense of the employees of mechanized slaughter operations that provide 99% of [American] non-human animal flesh. However, the fact remains that even if the application of advanced technology made animal exploitation the healthiest, least dangerous, most disease-free practice in the world, it would still be unethical because it is not necessary.
Nutritional science has discovered links between non-human animal flesh or secretion consumption and many neurological illnesses. Not only is there evidence that consumption of the flesh and secretions of non-human animals is detrimental to human mental health, there is psychological evidence to suggest that the practice of exploitation, especially slaughter, is detrimental to human mental health as well.
“Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: we are burial places! I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci
Just as the ingestion of non-human animal flesh and secretions detriment physical health and cause physical disease, natural hormones and sugars can detriment mental health. In one example, a study of schizophrenics, when cow’s milk was removed from their diet, none showed continuing symptoms of schizophrenia. When cow’s milk was reintroduced, all the previous symptoms of schizophrenia returned. What we put in or on our bodies can produce powerful unwanted effects on human neurological function. The effects of the ideology of carnism on the psyche, one example being “moral schizophrenia” or cognitive moral dissonance, are just beginning to be examined in literature and are evident in carnists’ ability to treat some non-human animals as members of the family, while simultaneously supporting the torture and murder of equally sentient beings on a constant basis through their consumption of the products, and financial support of the perpetrators, of animal exploitation. Another example of detriment to human mental health is the slaughter process. Humans have been shown to undergo physical and psychological trauma employed as slaughterhouse workers. Not only do humans “face serious physical health hazards”, but humans working in these positions witness and are party to, on a daily basis, “large-scale violence and death that most of the population will never have to encounter”. It is hard to sympathize with mass killers and their abettors concerning trauma they have experienced in their chosen profession, when it is a voluntary act, but the fact remains that it is harmful to the psyche and to human mental health. However, even if the application of advanced technology made animal exploitation the least traumatic, most psychologically sound and safe practice in the world, it would still be unethical because it is not necessary.
In a society based on science, education, equality, justice, sustainability and peace; free from war, unnecessary violence, suffering, and exploitation; continuation of the longest holocaust – human use of non-human animals as resources – is simply not an option. In our transition to a resource-based economy, one of the easiest things we can do on a personal level, to reduce the amount of suffering and death we contribute to, is abstain from exploiting, or supporting the exploitation of, non-human animals; hardly a “personal preference”. Veganism is a necessary and intrinsic part of the transition to a resource-based economy. Non-human animal exploitation by humans is bad for non-human animals in multiple ways, it is bad for humans in multiple ways, it is bad for the environment in multiple ways, it is bad for science in multiple ways, it is unsustainable in multiple ways, but most importantly, it is morally wrong in multiple ways.
Jacque Fresco was not vegan, even though this philosophy can easily be adopted in the current monetary system we live in. However, were it an interest of his to research the philosophy of veganism, one can only assume he would agree with Einstein, Da Vinci, Pythagorus, Plato, Socrates, Francione, Yates, and all the other great thinkers who recognized our moral obligation to animals.