On Cruelty to Peacocks and Other Animals...

Photo: Peacock

A recent local news item that caught our attention was about a peacock in Makaha that was bashed with a baseball bat and left to die a painful death.

According to the report, a condo resident was kept awake at night by crowing peacocks in the condomium complexes grounds, she said the incessant noise drove her "cuckoo". Not being able to take it anymore she grabbed a peackok by the tail and "whacked him in the head" and then threw it away in the bushes. The peacock took an hour to die, all the while crying in pain. The police were called and the woman was charged for animal cruelty, and has made appearances in court.

The story continues to generate a lot of media interest and several letters to the editor. Some differing viewpoints expressed were:

  1. The woman was very cruel and engaged in a heinous act and should be punished
  2. Her actions were acceptable because the peacock was a pest and the woman was merely engaging in pest control
  3. Animals are just property, so people can do whatever they want with their property

Despite the outcry over cruelty to this one animal, no one considers the fact that in our meat-based society billions of innocent animals are being cruelly slaughtered and butchered in the U.S. every year. There is no outrage about that.

Cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and other animals are kept in small cages, in jam-packed sheds, or on filthy feedlots, often with so little space that they can't even turn around or lie down comfortably. Crowding and filth create an atmosphere that fosters and incubates diseases. They are deprived of exercise so that all their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption.

They are fed drugs to fatten them faster and to keep them alive in conditions that would otherwise kill them, and they are genetically altered to grow faster or develop commercially desirable traits that they would not have naturally.

These innocent animals endure horrendous suffering while alive, and are then cruelly slaughtered, all to satisfy our craving for flesh and blood. As I mentioned above, the Peacock incident triggered a letter to the editor saying that animals are “property,” that they have no right to life and exist merely for man’s pleasure. The idea that this earth and all the creatures on it exist for our enjoyment is the crux of the problem. This attitude leads to a selfish and reckless exploitation of the earth and its’ creatures. In contrast, a vegetarian lifestyle awakens our spirit of compassion and guides us towards a kinder, gentler society in which we exercise a moral choice to protect animals and see ourselves as caretakers and custodians of the environment—not as exploiters of them.

With such an attitude we will take better care of the earth and all of its inhabitants.

Wienermobile on the roll

Photo: Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles

Okay, today I have to comment on the “Wienermobile on the roll” story in the Hawaii section of the Honolulu Advertiser, a “feel good” story about a Wienermobile, a car with a bun and hot dog built over it that gives kids and adults some “fun”. What can be wrong with that? Some amusement for the keiki and for their parents in these tough economic times is a good thing right? The Wienermobile arrived in Honolulu yesterday. The following is from the story:

“Kopish and fellow hot-dogger Derek O'Leary handed out whistles to the 14 children from the Boys & Girls Club of Hawai'i who presented a giant lei to the Wienermobile at Honolulu Harbor. The excitement was audible halfway down the pier.

“Children draped the lei along one windshield wiper to the other, giggling and pointing out it looked like the Wienermobile was smiling. Once they posed and shaka'd, taking photos in front of the vehicle, all 14 excitedly squeezed in wall-to-wall to get a better look at the interior.

“The vehicle, which can blast the Oscar Mayer jingle in 21 different genres ranging from a dance remix to a country and western version, offers participants rides around the block and a history of the Wienermobile.

All this innocent sounding “fun” covers the unbelievably ugly truth about what an Oscar Mayer wiener really is. The reality, as described by a variety of different Internet sources, is as follows:

“Sausages are a result of economical butchery. Traditionally, sausage-makers put to use meat and animal parts equally edible, but not particularly appealing - such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat - in a form that allows for preservation: typically, salted and stuffed into a tubular casing made from the cleaned intestine of the animal, producing the characteristic cylindrical shape."

A little more about the casings that hold the sausage meat:

“Traditionally, sausage casings were made of the cleaned intestines (or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings) of animals. Today, however, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose or even plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages. Additionally, luncheon meat (such as Spam) and sausage meat are now available without casings in tins and jars.”

Anyone want plastic with their ground blood, fat and organs?

Speaking of fat, sausages are full of fat “fat content is legally limited to a maximum of 30%, 35% or 50%, by weight, depending on the style.”

This is the fate of billions of innocent animals every year in the USA and around the world: they are taken from their mothers at birth, raised in horrific factory farms, transported to slaughterhouses in terrifying circumstances, brutally slaughtered, turned into meat, with the brains, liver, kidney, blood, fat, and other scraps ground into sausage with their intestines used to package it.

This is the reality.

Thanks for reading.

Love Life! Love animals, don’t eat them.

Mark Fergusson

P.S. the following is the inane Oscar Mayer jingle:

Oh, I'd love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener.
That is what I'd truly like to be.
'Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,
Everyone would be in love with me.

Oh, I'm glad I'm not an Oscar Mayer wiener.
That is what I'd never want to be.
Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.
There would soon be nothing left of me!

More about the Wienermobile

If you have been following my blogposts about the Wienermobile and want to see what it is all about watch this video (video removed). This is one of the most successful efforts I have seen or could imagine that converts the brutal reality of a product, i.e., slaughtered pig and cow body parts, organs, blood, fat, and other miscellaneous scraps - neatly packaged in intestines - into innocent fun for kids and adults who like cool cars!

In a similar vein you can look at the packaging of meat products and see idealized paintings of contented looking cows eating grass, whereas the reality is that the cows live on crowded factory farms knee deep in sh*t and eat maize; they are trucked off to slaughterhouses where their bodies, their flesh, is turned into meat, with the scraps used in wieners.

Love Life! Love animals, don't eat them!

Mark Fergusson

The marketing, like the wienermobile, creates a kind of mirage or illusion

Photo: Wienermobiles

On the wienermobile blog site they invite you to "Submit an essay in 100 words or less that details your favorite hot dog memory and your or another family member’s favorite toppings". If you submit the best entry you get to win a "Labor Day Grill-Out" (this is not quite the same thing as getting to buy great vegetarian products at Down to Earth's 30% Guiltless Grilling Sale that we had last week).

A 100 word essay from a cow that is going to be turned into a wiener might go something like this:

"My favorite hot dog memory is when I was living at the factory farm, knee deep in sh*t, and being fed corn instead of grass (which resulted in my belly being full of gas and E coli), I started daydreaming about what life was like before the factory farms. I imagined eating grass in open fields, of feeding my milk to my calf, and of happily living my life until passing away of natural causes. I happily gave my milk to the farmer who took care of and protected me.... I awoke from my daydream to remember that today they are herding me onto a truck, taking me to the slaughterhouse, brutally murdering me, turning my flesh into meat; my brain, liver, kidneys, and other organs and my blood will be mashed up and stuffed into my intestines and sold as a hot dog...."

Please, when you look at the hot dog on your dinner plate don’t see the fun marketing (wienermobiles, hot dog eating contests); see the reality of what you are eating. The marketing, like the wienermobile, creates a kind of mirage or illusion that converts slaughtered animal body organs, fat, blood, and other scraps into a “fun memory”. But no matter how good the marketing, the fact is that hot dog is someone else's body.

Love Life! Love animals, don't eat them.

Mark Fergusson

July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest

While we are talking about the Wienermobile, another event that glorifies hot dogs is the July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest, which is considered a "colorful tradition of Independence Day". Now this is a good one, let's hold a contest to see who can eat the most hot dogs in 10 minutes! Great idea! This year's winner ate 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Wow!!! What a tremendous accomplishment!!! Way to go Joey Chestnut (the photo is of Joey, the champion eater of brains, blood, fat, scraps and intestines).

Let's take a moment to think about this, 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. That means eating the brains, blood, and guts of maybe 20 or 30 or more different animals (cows, pigs), with a fat content by weight of maybe 30 - 50% depending on the type of hot dog, all stuffed down at a rapid pace while thousands watch you do it, and over a million people watch you on ESPN cheering you on.

Maybe there is a better way to honor Independence Day.

Love Life! Love animals, don't eat them.

Mark Fergusson

Meat smoothie anyone?

Photo: Calf in a Restraint

Trevtheveg made a great post to my story about the Wienermobile (the vehicle that when you press the horn plays a song saying “Oh, I'd love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener. That is what I'd truly like to be”). His post is about how hot dogs are really made and includes some great links to You Tube videos showing some pretty gross stuff, like how all the meat cuts (read cow flesh) is ground up and literally turned into something that looks like a meat smoothie (gross).

Trevtheveg says "This three minute video from National Geographic will keep or make you a vegetarian for life!
Here's a 5 minute video on a hot dog factory and what really goes in a hot dog.

The image with this post is of a calf being restrained at a slaughterhouse in preparation for being stunned.

Love Life! Love animals, don't eat them.

Mark Fergusson

Bulk is green

The following is from Progressive Grocer magazine: A recent study conducted by the Bulk Is Green Council confirms what the Little Rock, Ark.-based advocacy group is seeking to advance with consumers: that retail prices of bulk foods vs. their packaged counterparts are an average of 35 percent lower. Indeed, bulk foods were lower for all of the 16 foods compared, with savings ranging from 3 percent to 96 percent. Additionally, the majority of bulk foods compared in the study were organic while their packaged counterparts were often not.

Conducted at multiple grocery stores in three metropolitan markets, the study measured average prices with suggested retail prices of a leading national food distributor of both bulk and packaged foods.

The advocacy organization, which is charged with helping consumers, food manufacturers and grocers learn about the environmental and economic benefits of bulk foods, says bulk foods offer consumers a variety of shopping and sustainable advantages, including:

  • Packaging-free products, as packaging drove up the price of the average product evaluated in the study. Packaged foods were generally more competitive in price in situations where minimal packaging is the norm (i.e. beans, rice and nuts).
  • Enabling the consumer to purchase as much or as little of a product he wants, without paying a penalty for a small quantity. This is especially meaningful when a recipe calls for a small amount of an ingredient seldom used by that consumer.
  • Environmental benefits, because the foods are sold without a package, resulting in a reduction in deforestation and the use of petrochemicals for the manufacture of paper, plastic, ink and cardboard.

The study found that bulk herbs and spices offered the greatest savings. The most dramatic difference was bay leaves, with bulk savings of 96 percent, meaning that on average, packaged bay leaves cost 24 times more than bulk bay leaves. Almost as dramatic was thyme, with bulk savings of 87 percent.

More information about bulk foods can be found at www.bulkisgreen.org.

Mark Fergusson

Bottled water banned in move to protect environment

Bottled water is coming under even more pressure following the action of a small Australian town to ban sales of bottled water. Bottled water sales, once a major growth industry, has slowed considerably as people have considered the adverse environmental impacts of the plastic bottles, production costs, and trucking and transportation involved. It is cheaper and more environmentally sound to properly filter tap water. The following is from the Associated Press story:

Residents of a rural Australian town hoping to protect the earth and their wallets have voted to ban the sale of bottled water, the first community in the country — and possibly the world — to take such a drastic step in the growing backlash against the industry.

Residents of Bundanoon cheered after their near-unanimous approval of the measure at a town meeting Wednesday. It was the second blow to Australia's beverage industry in one day: Hours earlier, the New South Wales state premier banned all state departments and agencies from buying bottled water, calling it a waste of money and natural resources.

Burger King removes ad, apologizes.... Now if only they would stop killing cows....

In a surprise move Burger King quickly responded to the complaint from the Hindu American Foundation concerning the use of a Hindu Goddess to promote their burgers, apologized, and stated it would cease the advertising campaign. Now if we could only get Burger King to apologize to all the cows they have killed and to all the people whose health they have damaged, and cease its mass cow killing, then maybe we could think that the folks over at Burger King are actually kind of good guys after all. Sensitivity to this situation on their part is a good start. The story from the Hindu American Foundation is as follows:

Washington D.C. (July 9, 2009) - Burger King Corporation, the international fast food chain, ceding to demands made by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and its supporters, swiftly removed a Spanish advertisement campaign offensive to Hindus late yesterday. The print advertisement, which according to Burger King official was running in only a few restaurants in Spain as an -store advertisement to support a limited-time only promotion, used an image of the Hindu Goddess, Lakshmi, seated atop a meat sandwich, other foodstuffs and the tag line, "A snack that's sacred," in Spanish.

"Burger King Corporation values and respects all of its guests as well as the communities we serve...[the advertisement] was not intended to offend anyone." stated Denise Wilson, a Senior Communications Analyst at Burger King in a written statement made available to various press outlets. "Out of respect for the Hindu community, the in-store advertisement has been removed from the restaurants."

Oscar G. Mayer dies at 95

Photo: Person in a Pig Costume Holding a Meat is Murder Sign

July 8, 2009: Oscar G Mayer, retired chairman of the Wisconsin-based meat processing company that bears his name, has died at the age of 95. He was the third Oscar Mayer in the family that founded Oscar Mayer Foods, which was once the largest private employer in Madison. Mayer retired as chairman of the board in 1977 at age 62 soon after the company recorded its first $1 billion year. The company was later sold to General Foods and is now a business unit of Kraft.

$1 billion in sales in one year of bologna and wieners is going to represent a whole lot of innocent animals. There are over 33 billion innocent animals slaughtered every year in the USA, that is a mind boggling 90 million per day.

The photo is from PETA's blog.