Ethics Articles

Articles: Animal Rights


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Information on Animal Rights (Kearl’s Ring of Death, 031111)

Animal rights (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Pro-Animal or Anti-Human? A SARS revelation (NRO, 030425)

Animal and Nature Conservation (Global Issues Website)

Vegetarianism (From Wikipedia)

Animal rights terrorists threaten our safety (, 051121)





Information on Animal Rights (Kearl’s Ring of Death, 031111)



On The Sacrifices Of The Natural Order For Human Life


The logic of death-for-life runs deep throughout all cultural systems. Whatever the level of scientific sophistication, it is the central lesson taken from the natural order, whether in the easily observed relationships between predator and prey (where death comes to the weak and defenseless and where each feeding subsists on lower levels and is prey of higher ones, making each death a contribution to the whole) or within such abstract notions as biosystems or industrial systems’ dependencies on fossil fuels.


When ritualized, this logic becomes the methodology of sacrificial rituals. Here sacrificial victims become valued ritual objects as their demise means life for the human group. The precise nature of the life-enhancing force yielded by the sacrifice often go far beyond the satisfaction of nutritional needs and involve appealing to unseen deities who wield ultimate life and death power. As Peggy Sanday observed in Divine Hunger: Cannibalism as a Cultural System (Cambridge, 1986), “Cannibalism is never just about eating but is primarily a medium for nongustatory messages--messages having to do with the maintenance, generation, and in some cases, the foundation of the cultural order” (p.3). Such appeals can entail:


* appeasing said deities by satisfying their needs (such as their periodic “deaths” and rebirths), and thereby obtaining either their support (such as guaranteeing fertility) or at least their non-interference in human affairs;


* absorbing their mana or power,  as by consuming the flesh or blood of the sacrificed;


* or, as in the case of kosher slaughter rituals, being protected by them against the revengeful spirits of the sacrificed. Aztec culture was, for example, fueled by the blood of human sacrifices to the sun god. But even its warriors were to be shocked by the lethal brutalities of the Spaniards on the battlefield. For them even the bodies of enemies were sacred, deserving of ritually pure and meaningful deaths, and thus were wasted when so defiled by the Conquistadors.


I share these thoughts to frame an analysis of a contemporary controversy involving the death of nature in exchange for human life: the sacrifice of animals in the name of human longevity. Over the past century, such sacrifices have been conducted in the name of science. Around the time of the first world war, for instance, Serge Voronoff, a Russian emigrant to France, found that eunuchs aged faster than normal and concluded that the absence of a testicular hormone was responsible. The African domains of France, Britain, and Belgium were to be largely depleted of anthropoids to perform gland transplantation operations on his wealthy clientele. Cells from the flesh of unborn lambs were injected into the veins of such long-lived individuals as Pope Pius XII, Bernard Baruch, and Somerset Maugham. More recently, during the 1980s, General Motors killed roughly 20,000 dogs, rabbits, pigs, ferrets, rats and mice in safety tests (The Detroit News/AP, Sept. 28, 1991).


And then, of course, there are the animal sacrifices in medical laboratories. Monkeys, for example, are infected with AIDS-like viruses to test the effectiveness of various vaccines. To determine the potency of poisons, rats are given increasing doses of toxins until one-half die (see David L. W. Miller’s “The LD-50 Test”).  According to a 1994 study of the Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy, as many as 50 million or more animals were used each year in American medical research before 1970. Because of the growing influence of animal protection groups, this number had declined to an estimated 20 million animals in 1992. The Department of Agriculture now requires laboratories to categorize their animal use in three groups: research causing no pain, research causing pain and distress but is relieved by drugs, and research that causes pain and distress not relievable by drugs.  To see the perspective of animal research proponents, take a look at  “Animal Research Facts” from the Foundation for Biomedical Research.


As mentioned, sacrificial victims have historically obtained enhanced symbolic significance and value. Such has become the case of animals in the contemporary death- for-life rituals of modern scientific research, as evidenced by the rise of the animal rights movements. In part, these movements have emerged with a growing awareness of the interdependencies and fragilities of ecosystems. The explosion of human numbers over the past century, coupled with industrialization and capitalism, has led to a rapid destruction of the natural order through deforestation, urbanization, cash crops, strip mining, and harvestings of the seas. Among the clearest examples are the expanding deserts of the Third World which correspond with the a growing consumption of firewood. For more than a third of the world’s population, the real energy crisis is a daily scramble to find the wood they need to cook their meals. At least half of all the timber cut in the world is used not for construction or paper but rather for cooking fuel and, in colder regions, for warmth. In most poor countries today, a vast majority of people depend on firewood as their chief source of fuel, with the average user annually burning a ton or more of firewood. Such trends cannot last. Archeologist Richard D. Hansen argues, for instance, that a similar deforestation produced an ecological disaster that precipitated the collapse of the Maya civilization in approximately 800 A.D. To produce the stucco for their huge limestone pyramids, the Mayans leveled forests to fuel the hot fires required for transforming limestone into lime.


A second factor underlying the rise of the animal rights/anti-vivisectionist movements involves a new sense of connectedness between humans and the animal kingdom, entitling animals to share many of the moral rights enjoyed by the human primate. Ethical systems have historically expanded from the family to the clan, the tribe, the nation, the peoples of the planet, and increasingly to all life forms. Also contributing to this new awareness is Eastern thought that, in contrast to Judeo-Christianity’s general moral indifference to the killing of animals, views all life as a single unity.


Time to investigate Americans’ attitudes. In NORC’s 1993 and 1994 surveys of Americans, the following questions were asked:


* Animals should have the same moral rights that human beings do. (ANRIGHTS)

* It is right to use animals for medical testing if it might save human lives. (ANTESTS)


The marginals are as follow:

























As can be seen, the influences of education and religion are additive in shaping Americans’ toward the moral rights of animals and the morality of animal testing: belief that animals should be entitled to the same moral rights as humans decreases with increasing education and religiosity; belief that it is alright to use animals in research consistently increases with education and religiosity. In addition, it was found that:


* Females are forty percent more likely than males to strongly agree or agree that animals should have the same moral rights as humans (34% vs. 24%). Among categories of education, this sex difference is greatest among those with four or more years of college (26% vs. 14%). This sex difference exists across all age groups and is greatest among those 80 and older (40% vs. 21%) and those 18-29 (43% vs. 30%). Controlling for age, education and religiosity has little if any impact on this sex difference.


* Belief in the moral rights of animals generally decreases with age, with the highest support among those 18 to 29 years of age. This relationship between age and support for animals’ moral rights is greatest among those with at least some post- secondary education. When sex, education and religiosity are controlled for, this percentage difference in support between the old and the young increases by over one- quarter. Could this be reflecting the older age groups’ more rural roots, where individuals slaughtered their animals food rather than the younger, more urban age groups who purchase from grocery stores identically-packaged processed meats sans all evidence of hide, hoof, and feather?


* Those thinking it is definitely or probably true that “human beings developed from earlier species of animals” (which comprises 48% of the American adult public) are significantly more likely to endorse the moral rights of animals. This subscription to the theory of evolution increases with education and decreases with religiosity and age. When controlling for age, education and religiosity, the difference in the percent of Americans supporting animal moral rites among those who believe in the theory of evolution (36% endorsing) and those who think it’s false (28.5% endorsing) increases slightly.


* Support for the use of animals in research generally increases with age, from 55 percent of those 18 to 29 years of age to 72 percent of those 70 and older. When sex, age, and religiosity are controlled for this age difference increases by one-third.


* Males are 13 percentage points more likely than females (73% vs. 60%) to strongly agree or agree that it is right to use animals for medical testing. This sex difference is greatest among those having gone no further than high school (74% vs. 56%) and among those in their thirties (72% vs. 55%). Differences in education, religiosity and age do nothing to account for this sex difference.


* Those endorsing the moral rights of animals are significantly less likely to approve of the use of animal testings (43%) than those who don’t (75%). This percentage difference of 32% is unaffected when we control for sex, age, education, and religiosity.


Did you catch some of the intriguing interactions going on? With increasing education, individuals are less likely to endorse the moral rights of animals and yet are more likely to believe in the theory of evolution which, in turn, increases the likelihood of endorsing the animals’ moral rights. Though increasing religiosity diminishes the likelihood of endorsing the moral rights of animals and though women are more likely to be strongly religious than men, women are more likely to believe that animals should have the same moral rights of people.


The question might occur to you whether there is any relationship between Americans’ attitudes toward animal testing with attitudes toward the other death-related moral controversies of our times: attitudes toward abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment.


* There is a weak albeit statistically significant relationship between animal testing and the right of a woman to have an abortion “for whatever reason.” Those agreeing with the medical use of animals are slightly more likely to agree with abortion (48%) than than those opposing their use (43%). This percentage difference (48-43=5% in total) is greatest among those who are somewhat (49-29=20%) and not very (60-49=11%) religious, among liberal Protestants (58-47=11%), political moderates (50-40=10%). among those 18 to 29 (54-42=12%), and slightly more for women than men.


* There is no connection between attitudes toward animal testing and euthanasia in the minds of Americans.


* There is a very slight significant relationship between Americans attitudes toward animal testing and capital punishment, with those approving of animal testing being 4 percentage points more likely to support capital punishment than those disapproving. This percentage difference (or connections made between the issues) is greatest in the minds of high school and college graduates (9% difference), those 18-29 (11%), liberal Protestants (12%) and Jews (-17%, with those not approving of animal testing being more likely to support capital punishment).


In sum, like Americans’ attitudes toward capital punishment, attitudes toward animal testing is a separate dimension of their death ideology, largely unrelated to the powerful connections made between the moral matters of abortion and euthanasia. Supporters of animal testing are significantly more likely than nonsupporters to agree “nature is really a fierce struggle for survival of the fittest” (69% vs. 54%)--a relationship that increases the more fundamentalist one’s faith. They are significantly more likely to disagree with the statements “Overall, modern science does more harm than good” and “Any change humans cause in nature--no matter how scientific--is likely to make things worse.”


One final thought. A 1997 New York Times article (Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Unchecked Experiments on People Raise Concern,” May 14), quoted R. Alto Charo, a member of President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission, observing that “We have better information about animal experiments than we do about human experiments.” Indeed, in the government’s Division of Animal Care, one can find the exact numbers of guinea pigs subjected to biomedical research in 1995 (333,379) and of chimpanzees feeling pain during research but comforted with medication (19,712). In its computer data base, there are 31 years of state-by-state accountings of the experiences of every cat, dog, hamster, guinea pig, chimpanzee, rabbit or farm animal ever used in laboratory experiments.




Animal rights (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Animal rights is the term commonly used for the view that animals are in every way persons: that they are autonomous, possess the animating spirit, have unique personalities, are aware of self and surroundings, feel pleasure and pain, have complex emotional nature, communicate, possess memory, are capable of learning, etc., and are thus deserving of the same rights as humans -- particularly the right to live in a free and natural state of their own choosing. Animals must then be worthy of our ethical consideration in how we humans interact with them.


While many advocates of animal rights do support rights for animals in the strict philosophical or legal sense, the term primarily is used for the notion that animals should not be killed for food, imprisoned, experimented upon, or used in entertainment or sports.


Animal rights in philosophy


Among the most famous philosophical proponents of animal rights are the philosophers Peter Singer and Tom Regan, who hold views that have much in common, but with different philosophical justifications (see below). Activists Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns and Ingrid Newkirk of PETA have also eloquently defined fully-fledged political/personal philosophies of animal rights.


Although Singer is said to be one of the ideological founders of today’s animal rights movement, his philosophical approach to an animal’s moral status is not based on the concept of rights, but on the principle of equal consideration of interests. His seminal book, Animal Liberation, argues that humans grant moral consideration to other humans not on the basis of intelligence (in the instance of children, or the mentally disabled), on ability to moralize (criminals and the insane), or on any other attribute that is inherently human, but rather on their ability to experience suffering. As animals also experience suffering, he argues, excluding animals from such consideration is a form of discrimination he calls ‘speciesism’.


Tom Regan, on the other side, claims that non-human animals that are so-called “subjects-of-a-life” are bearers of rights like humans, although not necessarily of the same degree. This means that animals in this class have “inherent value” as individuals, and cannot merely be considered as means for an end. This is also called a “direct duty” view on the moral status of non-human animals. According to Regan we should abolish the breeding of animals for food, animal experimentation and commercial hunting.


These two figures serve to illustrate the main differences within the animal rights movement. While Singer is primarily concerned with improving treatment of animals and accepts that, at least in some hypothetical scenarios, animals could be legitimately used for further (human or non-human) ends, Regan relies on the strict “Kantian” idea that animals are persons and ought never to be sacrificed as mere means. Yet, despite these theoretical discrepancies, both Singer and Regan mostly agree about what to do in practice: for instance, they both concur in that the adoption of a vegan diet and the abolition of nearly all forms of animal experimentation are ethically mandatory. Those who want to antagonize the “rights” and the “welfarist” approaches should remember the words of Noam Chomsky, who, quoting Dewey (in another context), said that


[it is correct that] mere “attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance”, but it can create the basis for undermining the substance. It goes back to the Brazilian rural worker’s image [of] expanding the floor of the cage. Eventually you want to dismantle the cage, but expanding the floor of the cage is a step towards that.


Animal rights in law


Generally speaking, animals have been denied the same rights as human beings and corporations. However, animals are protected under the law in many jurisdictions. There are criminal laws against cruelty to animals, laws that regulate the keeping of animals in cities and on farms, transit of animals internationally quarrantine and inspection provisions. Generally speaking, these laws are designed to protect animals, or protect human interaction with animals, or regulate the use of animals as food or in food processing. In the common law it is possible to create a trust and have the trust empowered to see to the care of a particular animal after the death of the benefactor of the trust. Some eccentric wealthy individuals without children create such trusts in their will. Such trusts can be upheld by the courts if properly drafted and the testator was of sound mind. There are also many movements to give animals greater rights and protection under domestic and international law.




Pro-Animal or Anti-Human? A SARS revelation (NRO, 030425)


The animal-rights/liberation movement (ARL) will never win an award for truth in advertising. If the facts serve their cause, yes, they will tell the truth. But if a half-truth or even an outright lie better suits their purposes — well, what does honesty matter when the cause of ending human hegemony over animals is so important and just?


Perhaps the biggest — and potentially most harmful — lie told regularly by ARLists is the whopper that medical research can be ethically and empirically conducted without using animals. While it is true that medical researchers have developed some alternatives to animal use in recent years, such as computer simulation and the use of human-cell lines, these tools are merely useful supplements and complements — not replacements — to research with animals. Now, and for the foreseeable future, medical researchers will have to involve animals if they are to be successful in their efforts to find cures and treatments for the illnesses and injuries that are responsible for so much human suffering.


This truth has been vividly demonstrated in just the last few weeks. Seemingly out of nowhere, sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a new and deadly disease, began to quickly spread around the world. (As of this writing, thousands have contracted SARS and nearly two hundred have died of the pneumonia-causing illness.) To stem the spread of SARS and prevent a pandemic, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, researchers began a frantic search for its causes.


If animal-rights activists/liberationists had their way, this urgent mission of mercy would have been hampered significantly. The alternatives that ARLists advocate in lieu of animals — e.g., computer simulations, human cell lines, autopsy reports, case studies, and the like — would simply not have been sufficient to get the job done.


When SARS first appeared, scientists were not even sure what pathogen caused the disease. Many suggested that a heretofore-unknown coronavirus, a virus closely related to the microbe that causes the common cold, was the SARS pathogen. But there was also evidence that the disease might be caused by the matapneumovirus, an altogether different type of microbe.


To find out for sure, scientists conducted a standard research protocol known as the Koch postulates, designed to help researchers identify the specific pathogen causing a particular disease. First they placed the suspect coronavirus into the nostrils of monkeys to see if they would become ill. Many did. Then, the lungs of the animals infected with SARS were studied under a microscope, to see whether the damaged caused by the induced disease was similar to that suffered by infected humans. It was. As a result of these animal studies, WHO researchers have announced that the coronavirus is, without a doubt, the cause of SARS.


The Koch postulates require living, breathing organisms for researchers to infect and study — which means that either animals or humans must be used. Since the experiments are not intended to benefit the research subjects but, indeed, to make them sick and cause their deaths from disease, using animals was the only moral choice. At least, that is true if one believes that human lives matter more than animal lives.


No fair, animal-rights activists/liberationists will cry. Animals feel pain just like people do. And in these experiments, animals were forced to suffer!


Yes. Animals do feel pain and the monkeys most likely did suffer. But their suffering was a regrettable necessity, not lightly undertaken, which provided the entire human community a tremendous benefit not otherwise readily obtainable.


Thanks to the now-certain identification of the SARS pathogen, scientists can move to the next stages of combating the disease. Researchers will attempt to develop a reliable diagnostic test. They will also try different treatment protocols. They will work assiduously to develop a vaccine. And — since it appears that the SARS virus may have originated in animals — they will conduct an intense search to find the animal from which the disease emerged.


Of necessity, all of these endeavors will require conducting research on animals, some of which will be intentionally infected, some of which will suffer, some of which will die. But our choice is either to sacrifice these animals or hinder the battle against SARS, leading to much unalleviated human misery and many deaths. That choice is a classic no-brainer.


Despite the obvious need to use animals, as typified by the SARS experiments, animal-rights activists/liberationists will continue to falsely assert that we can advance medical research just as fast and effectively without animals as with them. When pushed to the wall, the more candid ARL activists will admit that they are willing to pay the price of increased human suffering in order to end our use of animals in medical research. Indeed, philosopher Tom Regan, one of the luminaries of the animal-rights movement, asserts in The Case for Animal Rights that the human good we derive from such research is “morally irrelevant.” Rather than violate “the rights of animals,” Regan would have us give up all animal-research-related medical progress.


Meanwhile, the notorious Peter Singer of Princeton University, the guru of animal liberation, has openly suggested a darker road. He believes that humans with a lower quality of life should be used in medical research in place of animals with a higher quality, as measured by cognitive capacity. Thus, as Singer suggested in an interview in Psychology Today, it would have been better to use humans diagnosed with permanent unconsciousness in place of chimpanzees, in the research that culminated in the hepatitis B vaccine.


ARLists tout their movement as one based on deep compassion for the suffering of animals. But that compassion is actually a veneer hiding a dark misanthropy. As their opposition to the use of animals in medical research demonstrates, stripped of its pretensions and emotionalism, the animal-rights/liberation movement isn’t just about being pro-animal: It is also explicitly anti-human.


— Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and author of Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America. He is currently working on books about human cloning and the animal-rights movement.




Animal and Nature Conservation (Global Issues Website)

[liberal viewpoint]


As explained in the Biodiversity section of this web site, conservation of an ecosystem would help to maintain the natural balances disrupted by recent human activity.


A report from the global conservation organization, WWF, has suggested that Humans have destroyed more than 30 percent of the natural world since 1970.


However desirable conservation may seem, the reality is that it is a terrible struggle.


It’s an Uphill Struggle to Conserve.


Unfortunately, despite the effort put into conservation by organizations and activists, their work can easily be undermined by those who have other interests. This occurs, for example, from influencing the Endangered Species Act in USA, or from the current form of international trade agreements aimed at a form of globalization that ignores sustainable development and other environmental concerns as part of the agreement. Critics, NGOs, activists and affected peoples are increasingly also pointing at large corporations as being some of the main sources of environmental problems. Consequently, helping species and ecosystems to survive becomes more difficult.


Additionally, as reported by University of California, Berkeley, using DNA comparisons, scientists have discovered what they have termed as an “evolutionary concept called parallelism, a situation where two organisms independently come up with the same adaptation to a particular environment.” This has an additional ramification when it comes to protecting biodiversity and endangered species. This is because in the past what we may have considered to be one species could actually be many. But, as pointed out by scientists, by putting them all in one group, it under-represents biodiversity, and these different evolutionarily species would not up getting the protection otherwise needed.


An example of this can be seen with the African elephant, where forest dwelling species are found to be different species to the ones found in the savannahs, as reported by the Telegraph newspaper. As the article also points out, “Instead of assuming that 500,000 elephants exist in Africa, it now seems that there are many fewer of each kind, and “they are both much more endangered than we presumed”, said Dr Georgiadis [of the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya.]”


Due to threats such as increased agricultural/land requirements, hunting, persecution and land-claims etc, biodiversity in Europe is shrinking.


In June 2002, it was announced that two never before described species of monkey have been found in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. This remarkable find shows that there is still much to discover and learn about biodiversity in general.


Declining Numbers of Tigers


Take for example the continued declining numbers of tigers. The population of tigers in the last century has declined by 95 percent and some fear that they will be extinct by 2010. Tiger bone is in high demand for Chinese medicine and medicine containing tiger parts have been in demand in other parts of the world. It’s not just tigers either. Rare leopards, deer and other animals are also being illegally traded.


AIDS Research also Affected


Scientists now believe that they have found the origins of AIDS, which is spreading faster than most people realize. The source comes from a type of chimpanzee (that is immune to the virus). Unfortunately the forests in which they live are being opened up by logging companies, resulting in a destruction of the chimpanzee’s habitat. Also hunting of these and other animals is on the increase in the forest. All these factors are preventing further studies of the possible cures for AIDS.


Poverty and Conservation


The factors described above that affect AIDS research also highlights a deeper aspect of other related issues affecting conservation. That it, issues relating to causes of poverty affect issues such as habitat destruction, poaching and so forth. Efforts to move towards sustainable development and conservation efforts therefore are beginning to be based on the understanding that issues such as poverty need to be addressed, to provide people with alternatives.


On April 16, 2003, Britain’s BBC aired an award-winning documentary titled Ape Hunters, about how apes in Central Africa are being hunted for their bushmeat, almost to extinction. The documentary also explored the inter-relation between commercial logging, increased bushmeat, attempting to offer alternatives to hunting to poachers through sustainable development, and the challenges involved. Some of the points and aspects raised include:


* While in the wealthier parts of the world we see conservation as desirable and easily recognize the importance and urgency of protecting the rapidly declining numbers of the great apes, what is less recognized are the complex multitude of causes, of which the wealthy world also plays a negative part. In effect, it has been easier to blame “others” and almost ignoring our own impacts.


* That is, as well as hunting for bushmeat leading to concerns about dwindling numbers, the causes of the increase in bushmeat consumption need understanding.

o In small villages on the frontiers of the forest, individual bushmeat consumption has been part of local customs for a long time, as there are no domesticated animals, and the forest has been the source of survival for villagers, for most of their requirements.

o However, as increased poverty in nations such as Cameroon has forced more villagers to the bigger cities to look for work, the custom of bushmeat consumption has reached a larger population and the demands for it has increased.

o In addition, increased commercial logging (about 50% of the timber goes to Europe, the documentary pointed out) has resulted in dense forest being opened up allowing hunters and poachers to go further into the forest than ever before.

o Bushmeat hunting is more profitable than other options, even though some hunters pointed out that if there were other options, they would not hunt.

o Occassionally, illegal logging and commerical logging company employees such as truckers have been involved in illegal trading of bushmeat.


* Sustainable development alternatives have been attempted.

o For example, projects that promote protection of the apes, rather than hunting, try to encourage and provide real incentives for hunters themselves protect the apes, with a view to attract tourists, who would be willing to pay to see these animals in the wild, thus sustaining the people and paying for conservation and other measures.

o The documentary followed some former-hunters who were attracted to the idea, but also highlighted the difficulties in this. For example:

+ Causes of poverty were still not being addressed, so it was hard for people to go for alternatives.

+ The projects, in order to pay hunters of course needed proof that these people were indeed attempting to find the apes and allow those apes to slowly get familiar and accustomed to humans, so that tourists could eventually be guided in. However, the challenge of often finding and photographing these apes in the dense jungle would sometimes seem futile. Though even though there were successful sitings and eventual interaction, the promise of tourists has not materialized, and so funding was dwindling.

+ The villagers had also been encouraged to grow small plots of cash crops, such as cassava and platain. As these were growin near the forests, occassionally a group of apes might destroy those crops in their search for food, causing anger amongst the villagers whose immediate survival depended on those crops, as many people would go hungry otherwise.

o In detailing the impact of the logging companies in opening up the forests for increased destruction of habitat and more poaching, some African development organizations also pointed out that western consumer life styles therefore had an impact on the dwindling numbers of apes, because those demands fuel a lot of deforestation.


While the documentary focused on Cameroon, other places in Africa and around the world also show similar relationships between poverty, consumption, and environmental destruction.


The fourth most populous country, Indonesia, houses 10 percent of the earth’s remaining tropical forests. Not only are forests depleting year by year, but species that depend on the forests are also disappearing, and these species are needed to ensure a stable ecosystem. The “person of the Forest”, or Orangutan, is one such species at risk due to corruption, excessive logging and poaching. Other species at risk in Indonesia include the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran and Javan Rhino and the Asian Elephant.




Vegetarianism (From Wikipedia)


Vegetarianism is a dietary practice excluding most or all body parts of any animal and products derived from them (e.g. lard, tallow, gelatin, cochineal) from one’s diet. Most contemporary vegetarian diets may include some honey as well as milk and other dairy products, and some include eggs.


Varieties of vegetarianism


Different practices of vegetarianism include:


* Ovo-lacto vegetarianism. This practice eschews the eating of all meat, yet allows the consumption of animal products such as eggs and milk. Ovo-lacto vegetarians who are such for ethical reasons may additionally refuse to eat cheese made with animal-based enzymes, or eggs produced by factory farms.


* Lacto vegetarianism refers to the practice of eschewing all meat, yet allowing the consumption of milk and its derivatives, like cheese, butter or yoghurt. Similarly ovo-vegetarians presumably only eat eggs in addition to their otherwise strictly vegetarian regimen.


* Pesco vegetarianism refers to the increasingly common practice of occasionally including some seafood, primarily fish, in one’s diet. This is the diet practiced, with occasional supplementation of dairy products, by the integrated medicine practitioner Andrew Weil, M.D. and advocated by his books Eating Well for Optimum Health. (This is not generally considered true vegetarianism)


In the United States, vegetarianism is usually synonymous with ovo-lacto vegetarianism; and will sometimes be assumed to tolerate some meat, for instance, chicken (or “at least” fish). It is also possible to order a vegetarian meal and be served meat. In the UK, due to its sizeable Hindu minority, vegetarianism often refers to the Hindu practice described below.


* Strict vegetarians avoid the consumption of all animal products (e.g. eggs, milk and cheese.) Today, these people are commonly called vegans, though some reserve this term for those who additionally avoid usage of all kinds of animal products, not just food (e.g. leather).


* Hindus of certain castes are forbidden from consuming anything gained at the expense of an animal’s suffering: e.g. meat, eggs, animal byproducts such as rennet and gelatin (including gelatin capsules) and honey. The milk of cows, buffalo and goats as well as dairy products (other than cheese containing rennet) are acceptable, as milk is given willingly. Leather from cows who have died of natural causes is acceptable. (Note: The diet of the orthodox Hindu also excludes alcohol, as well as “overly-stimulating” foods such as onions and garlic.)


* All dietary rules listed for Hindus apply to Jains, in addition to which Jains must take into account any suffering caused to plants and suksma jiva (Sanskrit: subtle lifeforms; refers to what would later be termed “microorganisms”) by their dietary choices. They are forbidden from eating most root vegetables (e.g. potatoes) and deem many other vegetables acceptable only when harvested during certain times of the year.


* Jews, Christians and Moslems are all left with the biblical ideal of the “Garden of Eden” diet, which from all appearances is strictly vegan (cf. Gen. 1:29, 9:2-4; Is. 11:6-9). However, only minorities within these populations actually practice and advocate such strict diets, since the same book of the Bible, Genesis, later gives permission to Noah’s descendants to consume animal flesh, but not without great suffering simultaneously administered to all creatures: “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea” (Gen. 9:2). Suffice to say, the Judaeo-Christian God’s permission for humankind to eat meat was not an unmixed or otherwise “unqualified” blessing. It was a concession, with penalties--not the least of which was, most probably, a dramatically decreased life expectancy (see Gen. 6:3). (Noah’s great-grandfather, Methuselah, is famously reported as having lived an amazing 969 years, prior to the dawn of God-authorized human meat-eating.)


* In Chinese societies, “simple eating” (素食 su4shi2) refers to a particular restricted diet associated with Taoist monks, and sometimes practiced by members of the general population during Taoist festivals. It is referred to by the English word “vegetarian;” however, though it rejects meat, eggs and milk, this diet does include oysters and oyster products.


* Fructarians (more commonly called “fruitarians”) eat only fruit, nuts, seeds and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant. Thus a fructarian will eat beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins and the like, but will refuse to eat potatoes or spinach.


The following is not generally considered vegetarianism:


* Some people choose to avoid certain types of meat for many of the same reasons that others choose vegetarianism -- health, ethical beliefs, and so forth. For example, some people will not eat “red meat” (mammal meat -- beef, lamb, pork, etc.) while still consuming poultry and seafood. Others might feel that the suffering of animals in factory farm conditions is the main consequence they want to avoid, so they might eat animals raised under humane conditions or hunted in the wild. This is not considered true vegetarianism, but may be called semi-vegetarianism or Pesco/Pollo vegetarianism (see above). Many vegetarian advocates, however, like to make “vegetarianism” as broad and all-encompassing as possible.




A person’s decision to become a vegetarian may be influenced by a combination of factors.


Religion: A majority of the world’s vegetarians follow the practice for religious reasons. Many religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and especially Jainism, teach that ideally life should always be valued and not willfully destroyed for unnecessary human gratification.


Many early Christians were vegetarian, including the Desert Fathers. Since then, the Trappist, Benedictine, and Carthusian orders have encouraged vegetarianism, as have Seventh-Day Adventists. In the nineteenth century, members of the Bible Christian sect established the first vegetarian groups in England and the United States.


Rastafarians generally follow a diet called “I-tal,” which eschews the eating of food that has been artificially preserved, flavoured, or chemically altered in any way. Many Rastafarians consider it to also forbid the eating of meat.


Genesis 1:29 states “And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit - to you it shall be for food.” According to many classical Jewish Bible commentators, this means that God’s original plan was for mankind to be vegetarian. According to many rabbis, God later gave permission for man to eat meat because of man’s weak nature, but the ideal would be for man to be vegetarian. However, others argue that people may eat animals because God gave Eve and Adam dominion over them. (The Torah and vegetarianism)


Ethics: Except for a small minority in the world today for whom meat is a staple food (principally, members of nomadic hunting or herding societies such as Inuit and Saami), everyone is free to choose whether to eat meat or not. Since a person can live perfectly healthily on a vegetarian diet, for most people the only motivations for eating meat are the pleasure of eating it, convenience, and tradition. “Ethical vegetarians” consider these reasons to be to be insufficient justification for the suffering they perceive to be entailed in the production of meat. Vegetarianism of this sort is often associated with the animal rights movement, although not all ethical vegetarians subscribe to the notion of animal rights.


Environmental or ecological concerns: Particularly since the Industrial Revolution, machinery has enabled people to change their environment at a rate that, some argue, exceeds the ability of ecosystems to adapt. The use of large areas of land for livestock farming, and large-scale fishing in the oceans, have fundamentally affected animal and marine populations. Livestock production is also often linked to de-forestation and theft of the land from indigenous tribal people. In both environmental and economic terms, many vegetarians argue that the “cost” of raising a kilogram of animal protein is many times the “cost” of growing a kilogram of vegetable protein.


Health: Statistics indicate that people on vegetarian diets have lower incidence of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. The American Dietetic Association says, “Although nondietary factors, including physical activity and abstinence from smoking and alcohol, may play a role, [a meat-free, vegetarian] diet is clearly a contributing factor” in reducing both morbidity and mortality “rates from several chronic degenerative diseases than do nonvegetarians.”


Researchers like Dean Ornish have had successful results treating heart disease patients with strictly vegetarian diet, exercise and stress reduction programs. There are also nutritional considerations which encourage diets emphasizing fruit, vegetables and cereals and minimising meat and fat intake.


Aesthetics: Some people intuitively find meat unappetizing, particularly when raw, and simply prefer to abstain from the consumption of animal flesh for aesthetic or emotional reasons.


Pragmatic considerations: Modern-day, industrially produced meat is laced with chemicals, such as growth hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, food-coloring, and pesticides. Moreover, the meat of pen-raised animals (such as feedlot-fattened cows and pigs and farmed salmon) have much higher levels of fat and less nutritional value than the meat of their corresponding free-range or wild bretheren. Hence, many people are vegetarians not for ethical or aesthetic reasons but simply because meat nowadays has much less nutritional value than it once had while plants have just somewhat less.


Additional considerations


Choosing not to eat meat for one or more of the above-mentioned reasons must be seen as a rational choice. Likewise, choosing to eat meat is a rational choice, although there may be reasons not to do so. No diet is necessarily unnatural. Human beings have been omnivores since time immemorial; we have the teeth (incisors and molars) and the digestive systems of creatures who eat both meat and plants. Nearly all the higher primates to whom we are related are omnivores, except the gorilla. In the past, many people ate meat infrequently, because often it wasn’t available or affordable. Strict vegetarianism is something comparatively new in human history, that is to say, in evolutionary terms. Although the phenomenon isn’t entirely well understood, it is possible that some people may fail to thrive on strict vegetarian diets.


There is a risk that Vitamin B12 deficiency can result from veganism. While just about all animal based foods contain useful quantities of B12, no readily available plant based source does (except the not universally available Indonesian fermented soy product tempeh). However, a range of foods have the vitamin added, including breakfast cereals, soft drinks, soy milk, Marmite, Vegemite and others. B12 supplements such as vitamin pills are often prepared from abattoir waste and are thus unsuitable for vegetarians, although there are an increasing number of brands that contain no animal products. B12 is stored in the body for many months, so B12 deficiency symptoms do not appear immediately on embarking on a pure vegan diet, but can eventually be severe. However this deficiency is rarely seen in Western vegans, since the problem is well-known.


Some important nutrients (amino acids, fats, vitamins A, D, K and E) are present in good quantities in meat, but with minimal attention a vegetarian diet with plenty of all of these can be designed. The American Dietetic Association states: “Plant sources of protein alone can provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids if a variety of plant foods are consumed and energy needs are met.” It is more common to find instances of scurvy and other consequences of vitamin C deficiency in people who subsist purely on a diet of fast food. However, it is important for vegetarians and vegans to be conscious of their intake of protein, B12, and other nutrients. Like any diet, one that eschews animal products needs to be balanced and include a variety of foods.


One issue raised by choosing vegetarianism to avoid the suffering of animals is that agricultural cultivation of plant foods also harms animals. Run-off from fields harms aquatic life by polluting waterways with sediments, nutrients, and chemicals. Automatic farm machines kill small animals unintentionally, while cutting down trees takes away habitat for other animals. Pesticides kill beneficial and harmful insects alike. However, it should be noted that vegetarian diets require less agricultural resources than meat based diets. Thus, in populations where most of the meat consumed does not come from grazing animals a vegetarian diet will in fact reduce the suffering caused by agriculture because less plants overall will be necessary to sustain the diet.


Vegetarians (except fructarians) also kill plants in order to survive. Even though a vegetarian might contend that plants do not have the same sensory mechanisms to feel pain, some people feel that it is a worthwhile philosophical question. Even if plants are sentient, however, a vegetarian could argue that it is acceptable to consume the plant because otherwise the vegetarian would not be able to survive. This argument is similar to the argument that it is acceptable to kill animals if it is necessary for survival (for example, barring modern importation of foods, the Inuit’s live in a climate where consuming fish is necessary in order to get enough calories to survive). Also, vegetarians point out that eating animals uses a lot more plants than eating plants does, as animals are very inefficient at converting plants into flesh.


Related beliefs


While vegetarianism is commonly defined strictly on the basis of dietary intake, many religiously, ethically or environmentally motivated vegetarians (in common with animal rights and Green movements) try to minimise the harm done to animals in all aspects of their lives.


Many religiously motivated vegetarians consider the avoidance of skin contact with products made from body parts (e.g. leather, tallow soap) an integral part of their definition of vegetarianism. Others consider leather made from the skin of animals who died of natural causes acceptable.


Many health-motivated vegetarians are also associated with the organic food movement and/or are concerned about the use of genetically modified organisms in food production.




Animal rights terrorists threaten our safety (, 051121)


by Cam Edwards


Animal rights terrorists have won a battle in New York, and all it took was a few gallons of paint and a little trespassing.


On the evening of November 15th, according to a press release from the Animal Liberation Front, these thugs went to the home of Lloyd Harbor mayor Leland Hairr.  They painted anti-hunting slogans across the home, gained access to the garage (the Animal Liberation Front says the garage door was open), and painted more anti-hunting slogans on both cars.  Then they put a statement on the internet containing the mayor’s address and home phone number, adding, “His dog is more of a sweetheart than a watch dog, you all should know.”


What did Leland Hairr do to deserve this?  He asked for, and received permission from the state of New York, to hold a deer cull in his village.  The small community is overrun with deer.  They’ve destroyed landscaping and vegetation throughout the town, while several have been hit by cars on Lloyd Harbor’s roads.  There are too many deer in Lloyd Harbor, and Mayor Hairr wanted to thin the population by about four dozen.


Of course, what the Animal Liberation Front didn’t realize (or didn’t care about) was the fact that a Catholic seminary in Lloyd Harbor had already decided earlier in the week to stop the hunting on its property because of the protests by animal rights activists.  After the seminary made its decision, the State of New York backed down as well, opting not to hold a hunt at Caumsett State Park.  By the time the terrorists struck Leland Hairr’s house, the hunt had already effectively been cancelled.


These animal rights extremists are now headed for New Jersey.  The group Win Animal Rights (or WAR), an organization that says its members are “unapologetic supporters of the freedom fighters that call themselves the Animal Liberation Front” is now looking for volunteers to “sabotage” the upcoming black bear hunt in New Jersey.  WAR’s connection to the Animal Liberation Front extends beyond mere vocal admiration.  WAR’s founder is Camille Hankins, who also serves as one of the national press officers for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, a group that denies official connection to, but acts as the press conduit for the Animal Liberation Front.  The national press officers of the NAALPO say, “Some laws need to be broken, and those that promulgate animal exploitation and suffering are no exception.”  At least one of these press officers believes murder is a law that should be broken in the drive for “animal equality”.


Dr. Jerry Vlasak is a trauma surgeon in Los Angeles, California.  He also serves as one of the press officers for the NAALPO.  According to a recent story on “60 Minutes”, Vlasak has said, “I think for five lives, ten lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, two million, ten million nonhuman lives.”  He told CBS, “I think people who torture innocent beings should be stopped. And if they won’t stop when you ask them nicely, they won’t stop when you demonstrate to them what they’re doing is wrong, then they should be stopped using whatever means necessary.”  There’s no evidence that Camille Hankins has ever disavowed or distanced herself from these statements from her colleague.


So when hunters take to the fields in New Jersey on December 5th, what can they expect?  Will they see the usual picket signs and shouting?  Or will the “sabotage” take the form of hunter harassment?  Will hunters be followed after the hunt is over?  Will their homes and cars be vandalized?  Will some animal rights extremist take Dr. Vlasak to heart and try to kill one of those who’ve taken part in a legal and necessary hunt?


Scott Bach, the president of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, told me, “These animal rights extremists are flirting with the line between activism and terrorism.  It’s one thing to make your voice heard, but it’s quite another to actively work to sabotage a government-sanctioned event.  This kind of activity is prohibited by law and may well carry criminal penalties.”  We already know these criminals think it’s fine to break the law.  We may soon know if they’re willing to take the life of a human in order to save the life of a bear.


Groups like WAR and ALF are allowed to operate without widespread condemnation.  At the time of this writing, I have been unable to find any statement from the New York Parks Department, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, or the town of Lloyd’s Harbor expressing any sort of outrage for the attack on the town’s mayor.  Perhaps these groups are afraid of retaliation.  Perhaps they don’t want to bring attention to these fear-mongers.  With all due respect, they’re wrong.  We must be willing to speak out against these acts of terror.  To date they’ve destroyed over 100 million dollars worth of property and their rhetoric and actions are becoming increasingly more violent.  The animal rights terrorists have already decided to declare WAR.  The question is; when will we start fighting back?