Another Breaking Breakthrough

Fish farming, usually euphemized as aquaculture, is already the most rapidly growing exploitative industry, and the consumption of factory farmed fishes already exceeds the one of caught fishes, and it is about to get worse.

An unfortunate breakthrough was achieved at a Spanish government-run research center, where the first successful breeding of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna took place. Up to now, farming of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna has relied on catching young wild fishes and fattening them in open-sea cages, but now that the inhibiting dependencies have been removed, this industry can expand.

The breeding facility will supply fertilized eggs and juvenile Tuna to the newly created commercial firms, which will either continue the breeding cycle on land, or use a combination of land-based tanks and sea cages.
At least two companies already plan to build an industrial farm of land-bred Tuna, and they would be the first to use only tank-bred Atlantic Bluefin stocks of fertilized eggs or young Tuna.
One of the companies plans to establish its own breeding program and sell young fish to “grow-out” farms for fattening and sale, next year, with the goal of selling about 45 tonnes of juvenile Atlantic Bluefin Tuna by 2025, and 1,200 tonnes by 2028. The other one aims at producing fishes by late 2024. And they would probably be followed by other companies soon.

The Bluefin Tuna is a highly migratory species with complex behaviors and migration patterns. Farming these fishes so intensively would cause many welfare issues such as high stress, frustration, disease, and, ultimately, poor immunity.

And not only that more Tuna fishes are going to suffer, and to suffer even more than they do now, an increase in farmed Tuna would mean more fishes being caught from the oceans to feed them.

Usually “solutions” offered by humans end up hurting more animals or hurting animals more severely, and in many cases both. One of these cases is fish farming.
In a former post we discussed how as a consequence of the reduction in marine animals capture from the oceans in the last few decades, humans hurt marine animals even more severely by intensively farming billions of them. A lifetime of dense confinement in waste filled water, exposure to diseases and other bodily harms due to genetic manipulation are forced upon the fishes as a direct result of the decision to switch to farming. The other, less known, result is widening the scope of abuse even further. As a consequence of farming fishes, many of which are of carnivorous species, even more fishes are captured from the oceans, to feed the fishes confined in the farms.

It is estimated that every year between 450 billion and one trillion fishes are purposely caught specifically to be grind up into fishmeal and fish oil, which are mostly used as food for other animals humans rear for food, mainly farmed fishes.

Virtually any fish or shellfish in the sea can be grind up into fishmeal and fish oil, but they are usually produced from small marine fishes that are considered not suitable for direct human consumption.

These sentient beings, hundreds of billions of them, are even more invisible than the hundreds of billions of sentient beings that humans directly consume.

If fishes that humans consume are not even counted by the industry as single “items” but in kilograms and tones, and even among the animal liberation movement their misery is rather concealed, probably because activists know how little empathy fishes raise among humans, when will come the time of the fishes that are eaten by the fishes humans eat?

This horrible development is another example of how economic decisions such as trade agreements, which we wrote about in some former posts, and technological “advances” are much more significant in terms of animals’ suffering than the movement’s efforts.
Despite what might seem as a strengthening of the movement in the last couple of years, along with the much greater increase in the number of consumers and the much greater increase in the consumption of each consumer (which by far exceeds the increase in the number of vegans and in the consumption of vegan products by none vegans), internal changes in the industry also make the world a worse place all the time.

Beyond Hope

Earlier this month some disappointing news was published.
Beyond Meat’s latest financial report revealed that its net revenue dropped by 30.5 percent in the second quarter of 2023. Compared to the same period in 2022, revenue decreased from $147 million to $102.1 million. And in the US, the largest economy in the world, Beyond saw year-on-year sales fall by 40 percent. The following morning, Beyond Meat’s stock dipped by more than 20 percent.
This report was followed by media coverage suggesting that plant based “meat” was just a trend.

Although indeed this news is a bit concerning, it is a different publication which should make us really worried. Just a few days after the news about Beyond Meat, an article titled: “Price-, Taste-, and Convenience-Competitive Plant-Based Meat Would Not Currently Replace Meat” was published by Rethink Priorities, and it has some extremely depressing well based statements.

The articles’ main argument goes as follows:
Plant-based and cultivated meat are both a major, maybe even the greatest, source of optimism for reducing, and according to some even ending, animal farming.
These hopes rely on the assumption that what primarily drive food choices are price, taste, and convenience. Therefore, the price, taste, and convenience (PTC) hypothesis assumes that if plant-based meat is competitive with animal-based meat on these three criteria, the large majority of current consumers would replace animal-based meat with plant-based meat as there would be no remaining reason for them not to. However, price, taste, and convenience do not mainly determine food choices of current consumers; social and psychological factors also play important roles. Therefore a majority of current consumers would continue eating primarily animal-based meat even if plant-based meats were PTC-competitive.

Obviously, the article doesn’t suggest that price, taste, and convenience don’t play a role in food choices, but that these are not the only or even the primary factors:
“Of course, there is no dispute that PTC are important factors in people’s food choices, but research in food psychology demonstrates these are not the sole or primary factors. Intuitively, this fact is apparent when considering basic consumer behavior: any given grocery store likely offers thousands of cheap, tasty, and convenient products, and yet, consumers decide to purchase only some of these products, without gathering any information on the large majority of them. Presumably, consumers do so by relying on factors well beyond PTC. Indeed, the psychological literature has identified myriad influences of food choice spanning psychological, biological, physiological, situational, and socio-cultural factors in addition to product characteristics (Köster, 2009). Furthermore, a rich literature on the psychology of meat consumption has identified factors particular to the consumption of meat and animal products. For example, people feel a peculiar personal attachment to meat (Graça et al., 2015), believe that meat is necessary for health, feel that meat consumption is socially normative, and perceive meat as a nice and natural component of a healthy diet (Piazza et al., 2015).”

The reason this article is rather convincing despite counter-arguing a rather intuitive hypothesis, is that it is well research based. Author Jacob R. Peacock, counter each assumed primary factor in humans’ food choices with studies that suggest differently. He starts with the Price factor and argues that according to the two existing cross-price elasticity studies of plant-based meat sold in US grocery stores, one found that plant-based meat acts as a complement for cows’ and pigs’ flesh and a substitute for chicken flesh, while the other found basically the opposite, with plant-based meat acting as a substitute for cows’ and pigs’ flesh but a complement for chicken flesh, but more importantly and relevantly is that both found that any effects of changes in plant-based meat prices seem to have only very small effects on animal-based meat sales.

Peacock also argues regarding the price factor that: “a lower price may lead some consumers to treat plant-based meats as inferior goods—or cheap substitutes—rather than a better deal. This effect might contribute to the lower popularity of margarine, which was designed as a substitute for butter at the time of its development in the 1880s (Dupré, 1999). Alternatively, consumers simply may not treat the two products as substitutes.”

Regarding the Taste factor, Peacock argues that it seems that in order for plant-based meat to be considered “the exact same product” and “indistinguishable”, it needs to pass a blinded taste test of some sort.
However, he argues, “blind taste tests may lack external validity, as, outside an experimental setting, plant-based meat consumers will never be blinded. Instead, consumers will be informed of what it is they are eating, as is necessitated by food labeling laws, allergies, dietary restrictions, and ethical norms.”
And then he mentions several studies showing that even plant- and animal-based meats which are indistinguishable in a blind taste test might still be experienced differently in an informed test: “In Sogari et al. (2023), 175 American consumers were randomized to blind and informed conditions, tasted four burgers (Beyond Burger, called “pea protein”; Impossible Burger, called “animal-like protein”; “hybrid meatmushroom” burger; and “100% beef” burger), and then ranked their preference for each burger. Informing participants of the burgers’ identities (for example, “pea protein burger”) caused a statistically significant drop in the Beyond Burger’s rank from third to fourth most liked, while the Impossible Burger remained first. In Caputo et al. (2022), 86 American consumers were randomized to blind and informed conditions, tasted four burgers (Beyond, Impossible, hybrid meat-mushroom, and 100% beef burger), and then participated in an experiment to measure willingness-to-pay for the burgers. Differences in willingness-to-pay between conditions did not reach significance given the small sample size; however, the point estimates suggest information caused willingness-to-pay to increase for the Impossible Burger by $0.91 and decrease for the Beyond Burger by $0.22 and the beef burger by $0.77. In Martin et al. (2021), 102 French consumers sampled both an animal and plant-based sausage, first blinded and then with packaging information, and marked the strength of their preference on a scale ranging from animal-based (−10) to plant-based (10). After seeing the packaging, a statistically significant shift in preferences in favor of the plant-based sausage was detected (from −6.2 to −4.3), although consumers still strongly preferred the animal-based sausage.”

Regarding convenience he argues that there is a lack of clarity on what exactly constitutes convenience equivalence, and the little evidence that might be relevant does not find a meaningful impact of increased convenience on animal-based meat usage. The little evidence he refers to is the following two studies: “Some work has focused on availability within grocery stores, moving plant-based meats to the (animal-based) meat aisle from devoted ‘vegan’ aisles. A non-randomized study of 108 grocery stores found the move increased sales of plant-based meat but did not decrease sales of animal-based meat (Piernas et al., 2021). Another smaller non-randomized study of nine stores found a very small increase in plant-based meat sales and no evidence of an effect on animal-based meat sales (Vandenbroele et al., 2019).”

Peacock mentions another kind of studies that according to him weaken the PTC hypothesis and these are Hypothetical discrete choice experiments, which are studies in which the participants are asked to imagine hypothetically picking a plant- or animal-based burger from a menu. One of them, conducted across 27 countries, asked its 27,000 meat-eating participants to assume plant-based meat and animal-based meat “tasted equally good, had equal nutritional value and cost the same”, and yet most of them preferred the animal based burger. As disappointing as these findings are as it is, Peacock claims that it is actually worse since according to him “the design of this study likely increases these estimates: the addition of “equal nutritional value” likely increases the attractiveness of the plant-based meat; the environmental framing and questions used earlier in the survey might increase social desirability bias; using a text description rather than pictures of the possible items and broad non-specific question wording might elicit more hypothetical bias; and participants are forced to choose one or the other of animal-based meat or plant-based meat.”
In addition, he argues that “Hypothetical choice and self-reports of diet change likely tend to exaggerate the extent of meat reduction: one comparison found that in a hypothetical choice, 59% of meals selected were meat-free, while in actuality, sales data found only 36% of meals to be meat-free (Brachem et al., 2019, p. 22).”

Peacock argues that: “The strongest evidence of actual behavioral impacts of PTC-equivalent plant-based meats likely comes from a study introducing Impossible Foods’ plant-based ground beef to a University of California Los Angeles dining hall (Malan et al., 2022). In this study impossible ground beef was introduced at two stations in the dining hall. On Thursdays, students had the option of receiving prepared burritos with either Impossible ground beef, animal-based steak, or veggies, while the build-your-own entree line offered Impossible ground beef every day alongside animal-based ground beef.
In this study, price is entirely equivalent since students pay for dining hall access for the entire semester, not individual meals. With regards to taste, Impossible ground beef specifically has not been subjected to any public taste tests. However, as reviewed above, the Impossible Burger, which is made of similar ingredients, has been found to taste equivalent in some studies. Convenience is likely equivalent as well since the burritos are prepared for students by dining hall staff, and the build-your-own entree line is self-serve for both animal- and plant-based ground beef.

The study measured how many beef-containing meals were distributed at the intervention dining hall, where the Impossible ground beef was available, as well as distribution at two other dining halls as controls. In addition to making plant-based meat available, the study employed several co-interventions designed to reduce meat consumption (Malan, 2020). These included environmental education, low carbon footprint labels on menus, and an advertising campaign to promote the new product, all of which have some evidence demonstrating their effectiveness (Bianchi, Dorsel, et al., 2018, p. 11; Brunner et al., 2018; Jalil et al., 2019; Osman & Thornton, 2019). Thus, the study’s results cannot be entirely attributed to the addition of plant-based meat options to the intervention dining hall’s menu.

In the ten weeks after adding the Impossible burrito to the intervention dining hall’s menu, 26% of burrito purchasers chose the Impossible, 7% the veggie, and the remaining 67% the steak burrito (Malan, 2020, Table 12). Consistent with previous results, in a scenario that ensures price, convenience, and potentially taste competitiveness, the portion of consumers selecting the plant-based meat option remains modest.”

These are very disappointing and worrying results. And it gets worse. The veggie burrito comprises 15% of selections in the absence of the Impossible burrito and with the Impossible burrito available, this share declines to 7%, suggesting the Impossible burrito partially replaced the demand for veggie burritos rather than animal-based beef.

Another crucial factor to consider is that this study was conducted with college students, and at the University of California, meaning among those who are more likely than average to select plant-based meats, so among the general population these results are likely to be even worse.

In addition argues Peacock, “many, if not most, of the reviewed studies likely included numerous and sometimes extensive additional co-interventions also designed to increase sales of plant-based meat and/or decrease sales of animal-based meat, like promotions, ad campaigns, and environmental information. These will presumably reduce in intensity over time, as might their effects.”
And he adds that “these early studies may represent novelty effects and tap into consumers’ curiosity to try something new. One survey identified “I like to try new foods” and “I’ve been hearing a lot about them and was curious” as the two most popular factors in a self-report of why customers tried plant-based meats (A Consumer Survey on Plant Alternatives to Animal Meat, 2020, p. 5). This effect would also be expected to fade over time. Indeed, this decline may already have been observed. In 2019, sales of the Beyond Taco at the fast-food chain Del Taco declined from 6% to 4% of the sales mix (Maze, 2019), and across two samples of Burger King stores, sales of the Impossible Burger declined from 30 per day per store to 20, and from 32 to 28, in the weeks following introduction (Shanker & Patton, 2020).”

Peacock concludes his article with the following inference:
“Collectively, these results show that the PTC hypothesis, in its current form, is likely false. The underlying premise of PTC as key determinants of food choice is not supported by evidence from cross-sectional surveys on consumers’ self-reported determinants. The little available evidence thus far suggests PTC do not individually significantly reduce animal-based meat usage. HDCEs find that a minority of consumers select PTC-competitive plant-based meats instead of animal-based meats. (Miller (2021) adduces two countries where plant-based meat selection nears two-thirds when health equivalence is also assured. However, the study design is especially subject to hypothetical and social desirability biases and likely yields estimates that unrealistically favor plant-based meats.) Data from introducing plant-based meats at particular restaurants suggests that they draw only a modest portion of customers. Finally, a controlled experiment introducing high-quality plant-based meat to a dining hall—at equal price and convenience to animal-based meat—shows that most participants did not choose plant-based meat. Across six lines of evidence, it is clear that the empirical evidence opposes the PTC hypothesis.”

Considering that plant-based meat is a great source of optimism among activists, but that these hopes rely on the assumption that what primarily drives food choices are price, taste, and convenience and this assumption is false, this optimism is actually very questionable.

Beyond Reach

All these findings further prove that rationality can’t beat motivation. Given that animal based food is directly linked to public health complications as the animal agriculture industry is interconnected with foodborne illness, diet-related diseases, antibiotic resistance, and infectious diseases; and given that animal agriculture plays a major part in environmental destruction including pollution, land use, water use, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions; and of course given that animal agriculture is the cruelest thing ever in history, there is nothing more rational than ending it, let alone once humans can enjoy the same taste at the same price and the same convince. But humans are not rational, and they are not ethical.

Some activists have decided to give up on turning to humans’ moral fiber and appeal to their taste buds instead, believing that the best way to get humans to eat less animals is by giving them what they want, meaning juicy delicious burgers, sausages, ground “meat”, and more, without the exploitation. Never before did humans need “to give up” so little in order to not actively support industrial animal abuse, but still, the utterly vast majority maintain their violent and oppressive habits.

Not the enormous food waste, not the enormous water waste, not the enormous pollution, not climate change, not obesity, not diabetes, and not the risk of a heart attack or cancer, and now not even when it is the same product with the same look, texture and taste, have made veganism mainstream.

Every new plant based product that successfully imitates an animal derived one, doesn’t prove that there is no culinary need for any animal based product, but the opposite. It is not by chance that the most popular plant based burgers are also the ones who “bleed”. And it is not by chance that many humans want their food to bleed, or that they find plant based “meat” products disgusting before they have even tasted, smelled or seen them. It is what these products symbolize that disgust them, and it is what animals’ flesh symbolizes that attracts many of them.

Meat is not a mere gastronomical preference and food in general is definitely not a mere energy source. It is deeply imprinted in human society and culture, so just asking humans to switch the animal derived raw materials of their food to a plant based one, even if it has the same look, texture and of course taste, for many it is not enough.
If eating meat was only a preferable energy source, then it would have been much easier to convince humans to simply change it, especially once there are culinary equivalent options. But no matter how many times vegans are telling humans that converting their diets into a vegan one is only a raw-material swap, clearly it is not at all just that. It is a much more profound and deep change, for most a self-determination one. Veganism is not a raw-material swap since food is not fuel. Humans eat for great many reasons, for reasons of community, rituals, family, expressing their identity by eating that and not this, and of course for pleasure.

For billions of humans food is comfort, a gesture, entertainment, an enemy, a profession, a hobby, a weapon, it can break barriers, it takes so much TV screen time and so much space on book stores shelves, it defines cultures, and in many cases the last mean of mothers to get in touch with their children. It involves so many taboos and determinations of who belongs to the group and who does not, it unifies and distinguishes between ethnic groups and cultures. Unfortunately food is much more than taste and nutrition.
And meat particularly, is very unique among foods. All along history meat has been and still is very highly valued by humans, by almost every single culture. Meat’s value is incomparable to any other food, and in no proportion to its nutritional significance, therefore, in his book Meat: A Natural Symbol the anthropologist Nick Fiddes suggests that this special status of meat results from the fact that it embodies humans’ dominance over nature and the other animals. Animals symbolize power and nature, and so eating other animals is the ultimate symbol of humans’ power, of their superiority over other animals, and their triumph over nature.
Meat is a dominance and power symbol and humans take pleasure in the power and the predominance, as well as in the taste. Obviously nowadays they can get the same taste from equivalent plant based products, and they can most definitely get the required nutrients from other sources, but the social aspects of meat eating are much stronger and much more significant than its nutritional values, and even its taste.
Meat’s symbolism is far from being the only reason humans eat meat, but it is definitely a significant one, and so it is highly important to acknowledge that.

The fact that humans have never had to “give up” less than they do now thanks to the abundant plant based products, which are amazingly identical to animal based products, but they still choose the violent versions, and even more so, the fact that most are not willing to try the plant-based option over the torture based option despite that it tastes the same, costs the same and is as available, is extremely worrying.

When humans run out of excuses as to why they don’t stop consuming animal based products but they still consume animal based products, activists run out of excuses as to why they still insist on trying to convince them to stop instead of making them stop.

Die for the Fourth of July

Constant Catastrophe

Last week, as Ukraine’s Nova Kakhovka region was flooded due to the explosion of the Kakhovska hydroelectric power plant, the Kazkova Dibrova Zoo was completely submerged under water along with about 300 animals. Owner of the zoo, Olena Navrotska, in a statement, said that all animals in the zoo died as a result of the catastrophe. In a separate statement, the animal rights organization UAnimals said that “only swans and ducks could escape” from the zoo that housed species of monkeys, raccoons, donkeys, ponies, nutrias, various birds, porcupines, marmots, turtles and many other animals, who apparently did not survive.

This horrific event shouldn’t only be a reminder of what may happen in cases of catastrophes when so many animals are confined in cages, but that so many animals imprisoned in cages is in any case already a catastrophe.

Lunatic Asylum

Humans’ gruesome tradition of imprisoning nonhumans in cages for display goes back 5,500 years, with kings across the world demonstrating their power and wealth.

Despite the modern justification of a concern for animals, the purpose of zoos was never changed. Zoos are still collections of “interesting items”, demonstrating humans’ power and domination. Animals in zoos are treated like a stamp collection. The more species the better, especially if they are large animals from foreign places that the public would be willing to pay money to watch. The “specimens” are arranged in cages to make it easy to observe them from close range, at all times, despite how extremely stressful it is for the animals.

Zoos talk a lot about their essential scientific research, their total commitment to wildlife conservation, and their vital role as educators. Meanwhile, people do what they have always done – they go to the zoo to be entertained.
The expectation of the visitors is that the animal would please them. Humans demand to be taken notice of and they are insulted to find that usually the animals ignore them. They expect the animals to entertain each and every one of them. The mentality is of: “come here and say hello! Do something cute”. The ugliest examples of humans demand for attention include teasing, banging on cages and throwing things at them.
Zoos foster the assumption that humans are the center of the universe.

Animals in zoos are deprived of their normal and natural behavior.
Tigers can’t run, birds can’t soar the sky, monkeys can’t swing from the trees, and elephants can’t roam over large areas.
Animals which would naturally roam tens of miles a day, tread the same few paces in a small cage.

Zoos confinements deprive the “prisoners” of their most basic behaviors including exercise, social interaction and bathing.
Animals that naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone, or at most, in pairs. Foraging and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. The animals are closely confined so they lack privacy. Solitary and shy animals live in cages with viewing from all sides.

Complex behaviors and deep instincts that have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years can’t find any outlet. The result is boredom and stress. The animals show signs of mental disturbance through abnormal behaviors. Sometimes they become apathetic and just sit in one place, but the most common abnormal behavior is repeated movement: rocking from side to side, pacing up and down or round and round, waving or circling the head, over and over again.
Animals in zoos tend to over groom themselves, grooming to an excessive extent, pulling out hair or feathers, often leaving bald patches, irritated and torn skin.
Self-inflicted physical harm, such as biting or chewing tail or leg, or hitting the head against a wall are all also very common.
Such obsessive and repetitive behaviors, including self-mutilation, are very common among zoo animals and are a result of no mental stimulation or physical exercise and a chronic frustration and boredom. This stereotypic, self-destructive behavior is called Zoochosis.

Some humans believe that caging animals in a zoo, is somehow for their own good.
They argue that zoos protect the animals from harms.
They see themselves as animal lovers and the zoo as a place that enables people to get to know and love animals.
But the confinement in the zoo harms animals more than anything they might face during their lives. Zoos cannot protect animals. In fact animals need protection from zoos.

Zoos also claim to be educational. But what do they teach us?
Animals, which have become crazy and show unnatural stereotypic behavior are only ‘educational’ in showing how humans can drive animals mad by keeping them imprisoned.
The confinement educates people for relationships based on domination and control.
It teaches hierarchy and speciesism. It teaches how to objectify sentient beings.
Not that humans need these lessons…Humans are natural born exploiters.

The events in Kazkova Dibrova Zoo shouldn’t be a reminder of what may happen in cases of catastrophes when so many animals are trapped in cages, and not even as a reminder of how zoos are in any case a catastrophe of its own, but as a reminder of the mega catastrophe which is human domination over other nonhuman animals. The catastrophe of human domination is demonstrated not just in cases of specific disasters, and not just in the fact that imprisoning  nonhuman animals for their whole lives so humans could be entertained watching them in their cages still exists and is still very popular in 2023, but everywhere around the world and all the time.
Everything in humans’ life has catastrophic impact on others. Humans’ clothes (and not only leather, fur, wool, silk and down), humans’ houses, humans’ cities, humans’ transportation, humans’ entertainment, humans’ energy production, humans’ waste, and of course and most importantly humans’ food. All humans’ food.
That’s why we must dethrone humans from everywhere and forever.

Mothers in Hell

Today is Mother’s Day
While humans are celebrating, billions of nonhumans are violently forced to never experience a mother’s love

Grand National Abuse

For the Grand National Festival starting today in Liverpool, which includes the world’s biggest steeplechase, here is a short reminder of the abuse involved in the horse racing industry.

Horse racing is a very big and highly institutionalized industry. In the US alone its economic scope is at around $10 billion a year. In order to display the fastest horses, the racing industry breeds hundreds of thousands of horses per year on a global scale, and selects the fastest among them.
Most horses start with flat racing which is sprinting along a course at the age of two, which is 3 years before they are fully mature. “Owners” race them early because they want to get a return on their “investment” as soon as possible, despite that racing places an enormous strain on the horses’ under-developed limbs.

The few horses who have speed ability and stud potential would contest in the “classics” and other more valuable races. Slower horses are forced to run in “handicaps” and selling races, where they can be sold to different owners and trainers.

And the ones who are found unfit for these kinds of races, would carry wagons, would be sent to the circus, or as most horses end, would be slaughtered for meat consumption.


Horses are herd animals with strong social behavioral needs. But as in every other exploitation system, the horses are denied natural behaviors and have no contact with fellow horses.

The horses are kept in a small stall for more than 20 hours a day, in dark dingy stables, separated from each other.
They develop neurotic stereotypic behaviors, similar to animals in factory farms and zoos, such as wood chewing, box walking (round and round the stall), wind sucking (grasping an object with the teeth and sucking in air), or weaving (swaying the head, neck and forequarters from side to side).
They are deprived of natural behavior such as foraging hay, having straw bedding, and visual and physical contact with other horses.

Acceleration Manipulations

The industry is making tremendous efforts in order to make the horses run faster. The ingenuity is limitless:
They use special instruments to broaden the bronchi in order to widen the horse’s airways.
They use hormones in order to increase the red blood cells (since they carry oxygen).
They inject venom into the horses’ joint to harden it.
They infuse a mixture of carbonated water, sugar and electrolytes in order to increase the levels of carbon dioxide in the horses’ blood and to decrease the lactic acid. They do that to prevent exhaustion.
They use thousands of drugs.
They use oppression and subjugation methods.
They use batteries that are planted under the horse skin which will give the horses an electric shock when they slow down during the race.

One of the most “creative” efforts the industry is making to increase the horses speed is a violent surgical procedure called Tubing. A hole larger than a 2 pence piece is surgically cut into a horse’s neck, into which a metal breathing tube is then placed. The tube is designed to increase the air intake into the lungs with air drawn through the neck, in part bypassing the nose and mouth. The tube often gets blocked with mucus from the horse’s throat, causing severe distress.

Drug Use

The use of drugs in horse racing is extremely common. Exploiters are using any possible chemical to give the horse an advantage over the others so they can increase their profits, no matter how high the price the horses pay.

Pushed beyond their limits, most horses are subjected to cocktails of drugs intended to mask injuries and artificially enhance performance.

Diseases and Injuries

The horses suffer from a wide range of diseases and injuries because they start to train and race, before their body and skeleton are fully developed.

Horses are forced to race with hairline fractures, that without drugs would be too painful to run on. The pain killers effect fades at some point and the horses which spend around 20 hours in the barn every day, are forced to bear the horrible pain for all these hours.

In some cases injured horses are being kept alive so that greedy owners can pump semen and therefore money out of them.

Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH)

Due to the excessive exertion demanded of horses in the rigorous training and in the race, more than 90% of them have lung bleeds and breathing difficulties. The severe condition is usually a result of burst capillaries. The tiny blood vessels are ruptured by the acute pressure of blood pumping around the body during strenuous exercise.

Only about 1 per cent of horses show outward signs of bleeding, with blood at the nose. The rest are more difficult to diagnose because they bleed into their lungs without it being obvious.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne have shown that 56% of racehorses have blood in their windpipe, and 90% have blood deeper in their lungs.

Stomach Ulcers

90% of the horses have deep bleeding stomach ulcers within 8 weeks of starting race preparation.
A study regarding horse racing found that in the US, 94% of the horses in races have one or more lesions in the stomach lining and 100% of the horses who had raced in the 2 months prior to the study, had ulcers. When horses continue to race, their ulcers get worse.

Apart from the stress of racing, the major reason for the ulcers is intermittent feeding. Horses are fed only at certain times, so there is nothing to neutralize the stomach acid that damages the stomach lining.

Genetic Manipulations

The thoroughbred horses are “genetic freaks”. They run too fast, with a too large frame, on too small legs. These horses lack fully developed bone structure and muscular systems, and so are more likely to suffer injury. They develop acute lameness and sometimes break a leg in the race.
The cartilage plate, in the shaft of the leg bone, is undergoing too much strain. It causes a tear in the periosteum layer around the bone leading to haemorrhage, acute lameness, shin soreness and scar tissue.

Jump Racing

“Failed” and “retired” thoroughbred racing horses, are commonly further exploited in other types of races such as jumping races. These are even more dangerous and harmful than flat races, with up to 20 times more fatalities. This is mainly since a group of horses are forced to jump a series of one meter high fences, together, at speed.

There are two main types of jump racing, hurdles in which horses jump lightweight frame ‘fences’ with brush tops, and steeplechases in which horses jump a number of higher, more solid obstacles. Both are generally long and very tiring events.

The horses are forced to jump over 10 hurdles in the average race and as many as 20 or more hurdles in the longer races. In The Grand National the horses are forced to jump over 30 fences.
When horses are bunched up as they approach a jump, it can make it more difficult to take off accurately and can lead to error or even a ‘pile-up’. Muscle fatigue, especially in long races, increases the danger of horses to injure themselves when taking a jump. Horses are large, heavy animals and when they fall, they suffer extreme pain, even if there is no serious or long-term damage.

When jumping at speed, the force on the lead foreleg as it hits the ground is 1.7 times the body weight of the horse. Some of the shock of the hooves hitting the ground is absorbed by the spongy bone, which is compressed in the process. The bone becomes weaker in the course of a race as a result of this micro-crushing.
When a horse breaks a leg or a shoulder, the bones may shatter into many pieces, making it impossible for a veterinarian to “repair” them.


The cost of restoring a horse to full fitness is high, and it is not necessarily successful, therefore usually deemed uneconomic. Consequently, horses’ injuries get worse. Horses that suffer severe injuries and horses failing to win races are considered ‘wastage’ by the racing industry and are sold for riding, eventing or other uses. The majority are sent for slaughter, either directly through auctions or ‘eventually’ when they have no further use.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Two days ago, headlines about an asteroid that may impact Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046 were published.
Like in the case of former similar headlines about an asteroid hitting earth, there was a great fuss online among animal activists, many of whom shared their hopes for it to happen. And like in the case of former similar headlines, after realizing that the chances of a hit are very small, and that the chances of a hit, if one would occur, to wipe out the human race are tiny, the wishing activists go back to their conventional activism – shouting that they want animal rights now in another demo, leafleting in the usual street corner, flipping burgers for tomorrow’s meatout, making another persuasive argument to another unpersuaded person, and other humanity alteration project activities.

But how can activists, after all the wishing and prayers that an asteroid would wipe out the earth, go back to their tiny scope of potential influence over a tiny scope of the suffering? How can they approach another human that just might consider stopping his own personal part of the greatest torture enterprise ever in history, when what they really wish for is that an asteroid would hit earth and all the suffering that all humans are causing and would ever cause, would end and for good?

Most activists are hoping for a planetary scale miracle while working on tiny changes in tiny scopes of action (obviously tiny compared with the global oppressive mechanism we all face).
The fact that the problem is so immensely huge that it’s almost impossible to really comprehend, leads too many activists to passively think big but actively work small. We want to change that so activists would think huge and act huge. Think global and act global.

Obviously animal activists wishing for the planet to be wiped out, is not new. Many activists say they would press the ‘red button’ when asked the hypothetical question, but very few are willing to dedicate their lives to create such a button. Very few are willing to stop focusing on their tiny scope of influence, to stop looking for ways to make a few more vegans and start looking for ways to stop all of the oppressors from causing all of the suffering.

Our goal in establishing the E.A.S movement is to turn this hypothetical abstract wish into an actual ideology and goal. Our aim is to upgrade this amorphous popular hope into a popular and firm ideology among many animal activists, switching from prayers for external factors to rescue everyone, to relying on ourselves and other animal activists to do it. Our vision is to form a conceptual, philosophical and substantial practical activistic agenda that doesn’t passively long for a “doomsday” event, but looks for ways to actively bring it.

Valentine’s Day in 2046 can truly be happy, but not because an asteroid would finally wipe out humanity, but because us activists have finally worked towards what we ought to do. Our responsibility is not what we consume or what the tiny fraction of humans we may potentially affect consume, but what each and every one, in each and every place on this planet is doing in every single moment, since the suffering is everywhere all of the time. So put the advocacy leaflets down and pick up a leaflet of a relevant science faculty. ‘Red buttons’ don’t come out of thin air, we need to create them.

Super Exploitation

Earlier this month it was announced that researchers from China’s Northwest University of Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology have managed to clone what they proudly referred to as “super cows”. The scientists behind this terribleness are claiming that the three calves who have been cloned so far would be capable of producing about 18 tons of milk per year, or 100 tons of milk in their lifetime, which is nearly 1.7 times the amount of milk the average cow exploited in the dairy industry is currently forced to produce. The program’s lead scientist, Jin Yaping, said that they plan to raise a herd of 1,000 super cows in two to three years.

Cows in the dairy industry are already being pushed to the extreme emotionally and physically in order to produce more milk. The only thing that matters in the industry’s eyes is their milk production levels, and the cows themselves are “a minor interference”. Only that these “minor interferences” are suffering their entire lives. And now they may suffer even more from producing even more milk. Continue reading

The Olympics of Cruelty

The World Slasher Cup, an official international cockfighting tournament known as the “Olympics of Cockfighting”, has started today.
During this weeklong torture event, hundreds of cockfighting matches would be held until only one human would be declared the winner, and after thousands of birds were lost.

The image of cockfighting as an illegal, small scale activity that secretly takes place in shady places with a few dozen people who come to gamble a few bucks, is very inaccurate. In reality it is a highly organized industry which runs billions of dollars every year and is legal in many countries such as: the Philippines, where The World Slasher Cup is being held and where this blood sport is a national sport, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Peru, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, France, parts of Spain, Indonesia, and etc. In some other countries despite that it is illegal, the law is not enforced and cockfighting is popular, like in India and in 8 states of the United States where cockfighting is enforced only with a small fine.

Besides the numerous illegal cockfights being held in it, the United States is also highly involved in this blood sport by becoming a global power in breeding and exporting birds to other countries. Among the tens of thousands of people attending The World Slasher Cup are American professional breeders, as breeding the kinds of birds who are popular in cockfighting is not illegal in the U.S. That is as long as it is not for fighting purposes, however, whether for illegal events held within the U.S. or to be exported to other countries, clearly, these birds are bred for cockfighting. It is estimated that every year in the US, tens of thousands of birds are bred and sent to 25 countries.

The world capital of cockfighting is the host of The World Slasher Cup, the Philippines, where it is a national sport with 4 TV-programs broadcasting fights live, 10 cockfighting-magazines, and more than 2,500 cockfighting dedicated stadiums. The estimations are that about 30 million roosters are murdered each year in the Philippines alone.

But the cruelty of cockfighting starts much earlier.
Until their first fight, which in some places is when the roosters reach 8 months and in other  places 2 years, the roosters are kept under a training regime to increase their aggression, speed, and balance. The training includes attaching weights to the roosters’ legs, making them fly high, for example by throwing them up, and “practice fights” with other roosters. When they don’t train, many of these birds are tethered by one leg to their small plastic barrel if not a tiny wire cage.
In many cases humans cut off the roosters’ combs, wattles, and earlobes so they would have the least possible “weak spots” during the fight.

During the “practice fights”, gloves are attached on the roosters’ natural spurs so they would not be injured. In the real fight, in most places, 1 to 2.5 inches long knives are attached to their legs instead of their natural spurs. This makes the injuries much more lethal with usually one dead rooster and sometimes both. In the places where the birds fight with their natural spurs, the fights take much longer, as they are still to the death. Either way the roosters suffer immensely.

A cockfight usually results in the death of one of the birds, sometimes both. A typical cockfight can last anywhere from several minutes to more than half an hour. “Winners” as well as “losers” suffer severe injuries including broken wings, punctured lungs, and gouged eyes.

We can’t seriously discuss the end of speciesism while even these practices still exist.
It is not that they are worse or more important than any other exploitation industry, however it is obvious that from society’s point of view, and in many places even from a legal point of view, they are much less accepted. As opposed to eating birds, most humans are against cockfighting, yet dozens of millions of birds still suffer every year because millions of humans like to watch them suffer. So when will the suffering of the billions of birds who are eaten by the vast majority of humans ever end?

Considering that we are still fighting against something like cockfighting, how could it be that you still don’t get that this world would never be fair, egalitarian and non-violent, and that giving humans more and more chances to change is in fact the greater violence?
Until when will we fight against things that should have never even been imagined by anyone, not to mention ever existed and even more unbelievable that still exist?

Obviously any cultural practice that is torturous for other sentient beings must be eradicated.
However, the fact that something that is obviously torturous for other sentient beings and therefore must be eradicated, still exists, and the fact torturing other sentient beings plays such a significant part in human culture since forever, must make it pretty obvious that it is humanity who must be eradicated.

A world in which practices such as this still exist is a world that can never be fixed. And we all know that these are not the big issues. One of the major ones is of 66 billion birds per year. When will the end of their suffering ever come? Not before you realize that humanity is a lost cause and the only way to save these birds – 66 billion of them every year – is by removing the humans.

It’s a Horrible Life

Nonhuman animals are forced into many roles and functions during humans’ holidays, festivals and various celebrations. Christmas is no different.

We’ll start with humans’ supposedly best friend.
Puppy dogs are a very popular Christmas gift, only that unfortunately, when the holiday ends and the initial enthusiasm from the adorable puppy declines and the awareness of the responsibility of taking care of someone inclines, many puppies end up on the street or in animal shelters soon after Christmas. This dreadful fact is so common that many animal shelters halt adoptions during Christmas to somewhat decrease dogs abandonment after the holiday.
In addition, since many dogs given as a Christmas gift are not adopted but are purchased in a “pet” store, this “gift” perpetuates the commodification of sentient beings, and since the majority of these puppies come from puppy mills it also perpetuates these horrible places.

Far from the status of dogs but still supposedly a beloved animal by humans, and a positive symbol of the holiday, are reindeers. But as usual, the fact that certain nonhuman animals are viewed as a symbol in human culture doesn’t protect them from exploitation but makes them victims of it. In the case of reindeers, being a symbol of Christmas, they are forced to entrain humans during the holiday season as props for Christmas events and displays, mostly in shopping centers, schools, town squares, holiday parades and etc.
The reindeers are forced to endure long journeys from one event to another while confined to tiny pens. And the events themselves are even worse as the reindeers, who are naturally sensitive animals living in huge herds, are exposed to highly stressful and unnatural situations such as being alone, or with only a few other reindeers, in a very noisy place, with bright artificial light, and constant flow of people, many of whom are touching them.

In many countries the exploitation of reindeers goes beyond entrainment props during the holiday season. In Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Greenland, Alaska, Mongolia, China and Canada, farming reindeers for their milk, flesh and skin is quite popular. Reindeer flesh is consumed regularly, as well as on Christmas Eve. Being a holiday symbol doesn’t stop humans from torturing and devouring reindeers on the very holiday they supposedly symbolize.

And last, and definitely least in human hierarchy of other species, are the animals humans are using merely to feed themselves with. Turkeys are considered as the main course of the previous holiday in the US which is Thanksgiving, but in fact tens of millions of turkeys are tortured and slaughtered particularly for Christmas as well.

And many other nonhuman animals that humans regularly view as raw material for their own culinary pleasure, are also not spared during Christmas, as ‘Pigs in Blankets‘ and ‘Roasted Beef‘ are also very popular domination symbols during the holiday.

So no matter if nonhuman animals are treated as a holiday gift, a holiday entertainment prop, or a holiday course as a corpse, nonhuman animals are objects for humans’ pleasure. All year round, and especially during holidays. There is no super trite Christmas film that can convince us otherwise than that when it comes to nonhuman animals it is in fact a horrible life. And the only way to truly make it wonderful is if humans are never born.

The End of Animal Suffering – Part 3 – The Expanding Technological Circle

In the former part of this series of posts reviewing the book The End of Animal Farming we have addressed the factor of the supposed expanding moral circle. In the following post, which is the last part of the series, we’ll address the factor of technological developments in the animal-free food systems, as well as some additional moral concerns that Reese brings up other than animal farming.

The Expanding Technological Circle

The last but not least factor in Reese’s predication of the end of animal farming is the technological developments in the animal-free food systems, or in his words ‘The Rise of Vegan Tech’.
Reese elaborates about the abundance of companies and investments in the field of plant-based technology aiming at developing products similar, and even identical to animal based products.

However, the success and abundance of these companies is also worrying.
That is, first of all, because some of these companies have already developed and are marketing, for several years now, plant based products so similar to animal based products that humans are left with no culinary excuses anymore, and yet they don’t stop consuming animal based products. Many humans are not even willing to try plant based products that numerous people say taste exactly the same as the ones they refuse to replace.

The fact that the list of excuses to consume animal products is getting shorter and shorter, and that the list of reasons to go vegan is getting longer and longer, yet veganism is still a very marginal phenomenon, is very worrying. If some could have said in the past that the problem with veganism is that people feel that they have nothing to eat (wrongfully obviously), and that they don’t want to eat leaves, tofu and nuts all day, every day (if we ignore for the sake of the argument that that’s not what vegans used to eat, and of how cruel and speciesist it is to support animal abuse just because humans don’t want to eat leaves, tofu and nuts every day), nowadays these claims can’t be made anymore. In many places around the world, especially western countries, vegan culinary is so developed that it’s sometimes literally impossible to tell apart the plant based foods from the ones made of the carcasses or bodily fluids of animals, yet veganism is still a marginal phenomenon.

Never before did humans need “to give up” so little, so not to actively support industrial animal abuse, but still, the utterly vast majority maintain their violent and oppressive habits, perhaps except for switching one meal on Mondays.

Not the enormous food waste, not the enormous water waste, not the enormous pollution, not climate change, not obesity, not diabetes, and not the risk of a heart attack or cancer, and now not even when it is the same product with the same look, texture and taste, have made veganism mainstream.

Reese asks a supposedly rhetorical question: “isn’t it harder to take down the multibillion-dollar meat, dairy, and egg industries than to inspire them to switch their production to animal-free versions?” And the answer is seemingly yes, but that depends on humans’ consumption habits. And so we can raise a similar question about humans: isn’t it harder to convince all humans to stop supporting animal abuse for the sake of nonhuman animals, than to inspire them to switch their consumption to animal-free versions for the health benefits they would personally gain and because otherwise they are harming, polluting and depleting the only planet they can currently live in, all the more so now that they can have all their beloved products without all these harmful consequences? Well, evidently it is not that simple.

Despite that the cruel products humans like so much, are available nowadays in a non-cruel version, the vast majority still choose cruelty. More and more don’t, but their share is still marginal, certainly compared with the expectation, since if it was truly a matter of taste, now that humans can have their favorite food made with no animal flesh, there shouldn’t be any dilemma. And for most indeed there isn’t. They want animal flesh.

Obviously the more similar plant based products would be to animal based ones, the more humans would consume them, but the problem was never merely the taste. Evidently, many humans who have smugly stated in the past that veggie burgers are disgusting, have never tasted, smelled or even saw one. Blindfold taste tests have proven long ago that most humans can’t even tell the difference between animal based and plant based products, not to mention find the later disgusting. And that proves that in many senses, humans are eating symbols, not food.

Every new plant based product that successfully imitates an animal derived one, doesn’t prove that there is no culinary need for any animal based product, but the opposite. It is not by chance that the most popular plant based burgers are also the ones who “bleed”. And it is not by chance that many humans want their food to bleed, or that they find plant based “meat” products disgusting before they have tasted, smelled or seen them. It is the symbol attached to these products that disgust them, and it is the symbol attached to animals’ flesh that attracts many of them.

As previously argued, food is not a mere energy source. And meat particularly, is very unique among foods. All along history and to this very day meat has been very highly valued by humans, by almost every single culture. Meat’s value is uncomparable to any other food, and is in no proportion to its nutritional significance, therefore, in his book Meat: A Natural Symbol the anthropologist Nick Fiddes suggests that this special status of meat results from the fact that it embodies humans’ dominance over nature and the other animals. Animals symbolize power and nature, and so eating other animals is the ultimate symbol of humans’ power, of their superiority over other animals, and their triumph over nature.
Meat is a dominance and power symbol and humans take pleasure in the power and the predominance, as well as in the taste. Obviously nowadays they can get the same taste from equivalent plant based products, and they can most definitely get the required nutrients from other sources, but the social aspects of meat eating are much stronger and much more significant than its nutritional values, and even its taste.
Meat’s symbolism is far from being the only reason humans eat meat, but it is definitely a significant one, and so it is highly important to acknowledge it.

Food is deeply imprinted in human society and culture, so just asking humans to switch the animal derived raw materials of their food to a plant based one, even if it has the same look, texture and of course taste, for many it is not enough.
If eating animal based products was only a preferable energy source, then it would have been much easier to convince humans to simply change it, especially once there are culinary equivalent options. But no matter how many times vegans are telling humans that converting their diets into a vegan one is only a raw-material swap, clearly it is not at all just that. It is a much more profound step, for most a self-determination one. Veganism is not a raw-material swap since food is not fuel.

Plant based “alternatives” are on the market for years now. The most selfish, cruelest and despicable excuse non-vegans are using – nothing tastes like the “real thing” – should have already been defeated, since some plant based products do look, feel, cook and taste like meat. But it is not happening.

It is very good that there are plant based products in regular supermarkets, and it is encouraging in the sense that they have not been there up until recently and now there are plenty. Notwithstanding, despite that all these vegan options are available in many places, they are still surrounded by non-vegan ones. So activists can be encouraged and draw optimism from the fact that there are plant based burgers along with flesh burgers in the meat aisles, but in the same breath they must ask why the hell are there still flesh burgers when there are equivalently tasty plant based burgers right next to them? How careless to other sentient beings’ suffering must someone be to still choose the flesh burgers? There is nothing encouraging about the fact that humans choose again and again the cruel options over the amazing variety of the vegan ones.
How apathetic must humans be to enter Burger King or McDonalds, see the veggie burger option, and order the one who was made with fear, pain, agony, boredom and despair?

The fact that humans have never had to “give up” less than they do now thanks to the abundant plant based products, which are amazingly similar to animal based products, but they still choose the violent versions, is a reason for worry not a cause for optimism.

When humans run out of excuses as to why they don’t stop consuming animal based products but they still don’t, activists run out of excuses as to why they still insist on trying to convince them to stop instead of making them stop.

The second worry we find important to mention in that relation might sound too theoretical if not purist, but we think it is concrete, and it is relevant to mention it here, especially considering that, as we’ll elaborate later, Reese himself mentions sources of enormous suffering, current and potential, other than animal farming.

Accepting that the only way to bring about the end of animal farming is by giving humans what they desire, because as Reese argues – “As humanity gains unprecedented technological power such as a deep understanding of cell and tissue biology, we will be able to create meat, dairy, eggs, leather, and other products without the metabolic waste of biological processes like movement and brainpower.” and that: “The system’s fundamental inefficiency will end animal farming one day, regardless of our concern for animals, the environment, or human health” – is obviously not really challenging the confines of humans’ moral circle, not to mention breaking them as we should, and it is perpetuating speciesism.
And don’t get this point wrong, again, this is not coming from moral purity. Had it truly been the only option, and had it truly been a certain option, an inclusive option that could have solved all of humans’ caused suffering, and forever, then we would agree this should be the way to go. But considering that it is not the only option, that it is not certain, that it is not inclusive, that it is not forever, and far from being able to solve all the suffering humans are causing, this is not a desirable solution, but a cruel and speciesist compromise. And this cruel and speciesist compromise has and would have dire consequences, on the animals exploited as part of animal farming, and as we’ll mention later, on various other dimensions.

Starting with animals exploited as part of animal farming.
Reese predicts that animal farming would end at about 2100. That is according to many, a very optimistic prediction considering the human race. But even if it happens to be so, in the 80 years until then, based on the number of victims of animal farming nowadays (not including fishing), and considering that some of it would gradually decline along the years on the one hand, while the human population would increase, and that animal consumption would increase in many developing countries in the following decades on the other hand, and it is probable that about12 trillion, that is 12,000 billion nonhuman animals would be tortured by humans, in farms alone, not including fishing, and not including every other way that humans are hurting nonhumans. And that immense number is according to the rather optimistic prediction…

Reese argues that he doesn’t want to treat animals any different than humans, but would he accept similar activistic methods as the ones he suggested along the book in case tomorrow morning about 8 billion creatures from another planet would land here, imprison all humans, rapidly and intensively breed them in farms to the point that there are over one hundred billion farmed humans more than ten times the number of the creatures from the other planet, at every moment? I doubt that in such a case he would suggest waiting for all the aliens to realize that there are better, more efficient ways to achieve what they desire rather than exploiting humans.

It is speciesist to focus on trying to give humans what they desire so that hopefully, maybe, someday in the future, it would reduce only some of the suffering they are causing, and it is speciesist to suggest waiting so that hopefully, maybe, someday in the future, humanity will be willing to settle for these options.

The human race is a cruel and dangerous species and it has proven this time and again throughout its history.
As earlier mentioned, claims about a decline in violence have been refuted in the series of reviews of Steven Pinker’s famous book. Violence in the world has increased along history not the other way around. Contemplating about the last century being the most violent ever to humans, is sufficient to realize that, not to mention that each century has shown an increase in violence towards nonhumans, especially the last ones.

We don’t really expand humans’ moral circle by providing them with what they desire only by non-cruel means. It is like giving the bully exactly what he wants only by somehow providing technical protection for most of its victims. This is great for most of its victims, and had it been the only option, clearly we would have supported that. But the bully has many other victims, and many other ways to bully others. And there is no way to prevent all the suffering that it causes. And given its problematic character, we can never know what he would cause in the future.

However, there are already some possible frightening options and current alarming dimensions in that regard. And Reese mentions some of them in a sub-topic he calls Looking Forward.

Not Looking Forward

The first dimension Reese mentions is time:
“Researchers have estimated that in the long run there could be 1038 humans (and even more animals) if humanity colonizes the Virgo Supercluster, the massive concentration of galaxies that includes our own Milky Way galaxy and forty-seven thousand of its neighbors. Interstellar expansion presents a tremendous opportunity for a progressive society to expand and flourish, but it’s also a terrifying risk for the expansion of inequity, persecution, slavery, war, torture, genocide, and every other tragedy that’s happened on Earth.”

The second one is potential danger associated with artificial intelligence:
“One technology that could have a critical impact on the well-being of humans and animals in the far future is artificial intelligence (AI), so one way we could have an impact on the far future is through AI safety, working to ensure that AI has positive rather than negative effects on the world. One troubling scenario is if AI progresses slowly toward human-level intelligence, but then due to its ability to quickly improve upon itself, suddenly overtakes even the smartest human minds. Evolutionary processes took billions of years to shape modern biological intelligences, but a sufficiently advanced technology could modify itself, test those modifications, and learn to improve itself as dramatically in mere moments. It might be tempting to assume that humans would have total control over the AI’s goals or to dismiss negative outcomes as science fiction, but experts in the field see value alignment—whether or not AI will have the same values as humans—as a very tricky problem, especially given factors like the competition between companies and countries to be the first ones to develop such a superintelligence.”

The third one is not futuristic but is as ancient as sentience and that is of course the suffering of wild animals:
“They endure injury, illness, and starvation with astonishing frequency. Yet there has so far been very little research into or advocacy for large-scale interventions to improve their welfare, despite extremely large-scale impacts of humanity on their welfare through transportation, agriculture, and building construction. It’s not a question of whether we should intervene in the wild, but whether we should continue with our current haphazard approach.
To be clear, what we’re considering here is more than just conservation of natural habitat. Instead, it’s the idea of actually intervening in nature to improve the welfare and protect the autonomy of individual wild animals who suffer intensely and in vast numbers.”

And we couldn’t agree more about how enormous, urgent and neglected suffering in nature is.

The fourth dimension he mentions is also not futuristic but is as ancient as sentience, and that is human relation to bugs:
“bugs—a term I’m using to refer to all the small invertebrates like insects, spiders, and earthworms—are frequent subjects of academic inquiry, including from neuroscientists and biologists who have studied their nervous systems and behavior. I won’t dive all the way back into a discussion of sentience, but it’s safe to say that bugs show many of the behaviors we associate with sentience in our own lives, such as fleeing from danger and moving toward food. The best explanation for these actions is that they are driven by emotions like those you experience when you perform the same actions, such as fear in the case of fleeing danger, and excitement in the case of approaching a tasty meal. Many bugs even show reinforcement learning, the ability to seek out or avoid an outcome based on previous experiences.”

Having said that, he argues: “bugs could still face significant human-caused suffering, if, for instance, insect-based foods increase in popularity. When I go to conferences and events on the future of food, insect protein is a frequent discussion topic, and there are certainly plenty of foodies who see a big role for it in the future of food. While I appreciate that this food system could reduce some of the harms of conventional animal farming, such as greenhouse gas pollution, the number of insects that would need to suffer and die for a pound of protein is many times the number of cows and pigs, and even fish and chickens. This should make us cautious about a switch to insect consumption because of the greater number of animals involved.”

The last concerning dimension he mentions is artificial sentience, that is sentient beings who are nonnatural, meaning that instead of evolving the way humans and other animals have, they are adapted or created by humans or other intelligent beings: “If we do create sentient machines, which many scientists see as a legitimate possibility, we could see these beings being subjected to an immense amount of suffering. Less powerful digital minds could be treated as lower classes, similar to how humans today treat animals as tools and property. In fact, if digital sentience emerges, we could see brand-new social movements emerge with these machines to fight against their oppression, just as we’ve seen for biological victims.”

All these concerns, some of which already exist, and some are speculative but astronomical in their suffering potential, only further strengthen the argument that we need not focus on convincing humanity to end animal farming, but on ending sentient beings’ suffering, all the suffering, of all the sentient beings, the ones who already exist and are suffering, and the ones who might one day exist and will suffer, regardless of humans’ position about it.

Convincing humanity to seriously address all these issues, when it is so far from solving so many historical problems among its own species, is absolutely ridiculous.
We believe that the way humans treat members of their own species is the strongest indication of how hopeless the chance to create a moral change in human society based on humans’ morality is. Please take the time and read our articles and posts about how humans systematically exploit the poorest of their own kind, how they treat half of their own species and their own posterity. Of course it shouldn’t matter to which species someone belongs, but it does matter to them, and still, this is how they treat each other.

It is impossible to educate most humans not to use one another, not to objectify each other, not to turn to violence in conflicts and crises so easily, not to discriminate each other on the basis of race, gender, ethnical orientation, class, weight, height, looks and etc.
The homo-consumericus knowingly and systematically oppresses members of its own species for the most trivial material goods. The dynamics of psychologically repressing and soothing any uncomfortable thought about the numerous faceless human victims half way around the world that pay a huge price so that consumers wouldn’t have to make the slightest compromise on their lifestyle, is very characteristic of the human race. The ease in which humans conduct horrendous acts towards one another is proven again and again by social-science (particularly psychology studies), by history, and by daily affairs.

It is even hard to imagine a world without wars, hunger, poverty, racism, chauvinism, and a slavery free world, so one in which humans are taking seriously moral issues that don’t regard them, or don’t regard them yet, is delusional.

In fact, Reese himself feels the need to convince his readers that even the plight of animals in farms is so compelling an issue, and therefore suggests to consider the following three facts:
“First, there are over one hundred billion farmed animals alive at this moment—more than ten times the number of humans. Second, over 90 percent (over 99 percent in the US) of these animals live on industrial, large-scale “factory farms” enduring atrocious cruelty such as intense confinement in tiny cages, brutal mutilation and slaughter methods, and rampant disease and suffering from artificial breeding for excessive production of meat, dairy, and eggs. Third, today we have scientific consensus that these are sentient beings with the capacity to feel great joy and suffering”.

We think these three facts alone, not to mention many others, are sufficient to convince activists that the problem is not in the way they are approaching humans but that approaching humans is the only way they can think of confronting the suffering in the world.
Activists’ natural tendency and the first and last plan of action, is to explain to humans that their daily torturing of the weaker for their own minor benefits, habits and pleasures is wrong, and that in itself is wrong, violent and speciesist. It indicates how human oriented the moral scope is, and how limited the discussion is.

All activists are aware of the fact that much more violence is inflicted in factory farms than the violence that would be required to overthrow the human tyrants. So why letting way more than a trillion victims per year (including marine animals from all kinds of commercial fishing) to suffer until less than 8 billion humans are willing to consume the same products without the cruelty?

We doubt that if animals could, they would choose to wait until all humans decide to end their daily torture. This issue reveals how the animal liberation movement, the only group representing the animals, is filled with anthropocentric perspectives, talking and thinking in humans’ terms.

Our goal is that the human annihilation option becomes an acknowledged activism option. Our hope is that it would become activists’ first option. In fact, it must. When faced with the historical, systematical and inherent human dominion over nonhumans, stopping all humans from causing all their harms for good, is what should be our goal, and thinking how we can do that is where we must start. Advocacy, today’s go-to option, must be realized for what it is – an extreme compromise at animals’ expense. Advocacy shouldn’t be the obvious starting point. You start by aiming for the best, most radical option – the one that can end all the suffering in the world, and only if it turns out to be irrelevant should you turn to other options such as acting so that maybe someday there would no longer be animal farms in the world as this book suggests, or trying to convince as many people as possible not to consume animal based products as many other activists suggest. Even a totally vegan world (which is totally unrealistic) is a horrible world as we thoroughly explain in the article Vegan Suffering and in the article occupied territory.
A non-speciesist approach should lead you to first consider the best option for the nonhuman animals, which is stopping this inherently violent and speciesist world by any means necessary.

The End of Animal Suffering – Part 2 – The Expanding Moral Circle

In the former part of this series of posts reviewing the book The End of Animal Farming we have addressed the factor of the inefficiency of animal farming. In the following we’ll address the factor of the expanding moral circle.

The Expanding Excuses

Some of Reese’s optimism is based on his agreement with the notion that the world is getting better and that humans are becoming less violent. He mentions Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature, and agrees with him that “our increasing concern for animals is a particularly strong reason for optimism that the general trend in violence will continue downwards in the future.”
This is a very important issue, however, since we have thoroughly addressed Steven Pinker’s theory in our review of The Better Angels of Our Nature we will not repeat our arguments here but suggest you to read them all, especially the two about nonhuman animals.
Instead, we wish to focus on what seems to be the main source of Reese’s optimism regarding humans’ concern for animals. He often cites the following results of a US survey: “A 2014 US survey found that 93 percent of respondents felt it was “very important” to buy their food from humane sources. Eighty-seven percent believe “farmed animals have roughly the same ability to feel pain and discomfort as humans.” And an astounding 47 percent of US adults say in a survey that they support the seemingly radical policy change of “a ban on slaughterhouses.””

Reese is aware of the huge gap between supposedly half of US adults supporting a ban on slaughterhouses, and only about 5% of them being vegetarians (we’ll ignore for the sake of the argument that vegetarians actively support slaughterhouses given that chickens in the egg industry, and cows in the milk industry, let alone their claves, are murdered in slaughterhouses as well). His explanation for this gap is that humans want to be vegetarian but just don’t know how.
Apparently Reese is unaware of the huge gap between what humans are willing to state they support in a non-binding survey, and what they are willing to support practically in their everyday lives.
The reason many humans are making these statements is that humans like to feel good about themselves, especially when all they need to do to achieve that feeling is making empty statements. And making themselves feel good is also the reason why they are not practically stopping their active support in the very same slaughterhouses they state should be banned, as unfortunately consuming animal based food is making humans feel very good.

Reese sarcastically writes that: “Every grassroots farmed animal advocate I’ve asked about this topic has spoken with many people who insist that the meat they buy doesn’t come from factory farms. “I only eat humane meat,” they say, defending themselves from the activists’ critiques of factory farming. This is one of the most common justifications heard by grassroots advocates.” And points out how obviously very unlikely these common justifications are: “a survey my colleagues and I conducted in 2017 suggested that 75 percent of US adults say they usually consume humane animal products, which seems impossible given that the best estimates suggest less than 1 percent of US farmed animals live on nonfactory farms.” And these people, like the ones in the formerly mentioned survey, are simply interested in seeming good, they are not interested in bothering themselves with actually being good (or in this case avoid being bad). And the reason is very simple, merely sounding good doesn’t cost them a thing while actively supporting their statement comes with what they view as a price. They don’t mind making a statement as long as they don’t need to actually do something about it.

Reese argues that “When people call upon the idea of ethical animal farming—even if that constitutes little or none of their actual consumption—we can think of it as a “psychological refuge” they’re using to justify their consumption of factory farmed products. This refuge shelters them from the cognitive dissonance they would feel if they both fully considered their ethical views and the realities of their consumption choices. It’s one of the biggest roadblocks to fixing our food system, perhaps even more harmful than the four N’s.”
And we agree, only that the same goes for the other surveys he mentions. Humans’ completely empty statements regarding nonhumans’ ability to feel pain and discomfort as humans, and a ban on slaughterhouses, also function as a “psychological refuge”. Making these statements places them on the right side in their view, despite that they are actively enforcing the wrong one, several times a day, every day. All are “psychological refuge” and none truly represent their true position about nonhuman animals, which practically, is mostly cruel indifference.

Reese argues that a large part of the explanation for this gap, and for the problem in general, is that people are far more willing to support institutional change than they are to change their individual consumption. And again he tries to back this argument with surveys: “US adults consistently show over 70 percent poll support for various changes in farmed animal welfare, such as cage-free, slower-growth chicken genetics, higher-welfare slaughter methods, and an end to extreme crowding. There have also been consistent majority votes in favor of farmed animal welfare ballot initiatives. This widespread support contrasts with the tiny number of consumers who actually opt for these higher-welfare products in their individual consumption: organic meat made up just 1.5 percent of conventional fresh red meat sales in the US and grass-fed 0.9 percent in 2016.
Our 2017 poll also found that a whopping 97 percent of respondents agree with the statement “Whether to eat animals or be vegetarian is a personal choice, and nobody has the right to tell me which one they think I should do.” I cannot stress enough how resistant people are to individual consumer change, especially when it’s as closely tied to personal identity as vegetarianism and veganism are in the US public consciousness.”

As mentioned earlier, there are more ways to explain these surveys results, but even if we’ll ignore them for the sake of the argument, the claims in the first paragraph don’t exactly settle with the claim in the second, because if humans unequivocal statement is that eating animals or being a vegetarian is a personal choice, and “nobody has the right to tell me which one they think I should do”, then how can it be that the best way to change their habits is not that activists – people like them and who have no air of authority – would convince them, but rather that authoritative institutions, would change their habits for them?

In fact he himself gives an example that contradicts this assertion: “Chinese consumers eat around 173 grams of meat per day, but the government recommends only 40 to 75 grams—less than an average American hamburger patty. China has a highly centralized governance system, which makes policy change more difficult, but also makes changes easier to promulgate across the country. Meat has been regarded as a luxury, but it also hasn’t been as associated with Chinese cultural identity the same way bacon, cheese, and bratwurst have in many American and European cultures.”
If even one of the most centralized governance system in the world fails to change people’s consumption habits, let alone in a nation that meat is not associated with its cultural identity, how would that work in other nations? Why would other nations succeed where an incidentally and indirectly test case such as China is failing?

Finally for that matter, let’s get back to Reese’s explanation that the gap between the number of humans making these statements and the number of vegetarians is due to that humans want to be vegetarian but just don’t know how.
He writes that: “When advocates hand someone a leaflet on the street, show their friend a video of undercover investigations, or speak with a journalist about animal-free eating, the hesitation and counterarguments we hear are mostly about how they can change their behavior, not why they should. Common concerns include:

■ “I’m an athlete. Where would I get my protein?”

■ “It’s just so hard to find vegetarian options when eating out.”

■ “I would love to be vegan, but I could never give up cheese.”

It’s become increasingly less common over the past few years to hear arguments against changing to a non-meat diet such as:

■ “They’re just animals. They don’t matter.”

■ “Most farms aren’t like the ones in that investigation.”

■ “I only buy meat from humane farms.””

But these are not genuine concerns, they are poor excuses. There are many plant based options for any food imaginable nowadays, and the excusers know that. No one really believes in these “concerns”. It’s just that people need to say something when confronted with a moral truth, and they feel uncomfortable admitting their immoral truth, which is that they care more about their own marginal interests than they do about others’ most major interests.
Humans spit out such excuses since they find it easier to tackle the How than the Why.

And in any case, what is really behind all these excuses and many others of this kind, is anyway, eventually, practically, arguing that “They’re just animals. They don’t matter.” As who better than us, veteran vegans, knows that these are all nonsense. We have become vegans long before the current abundance and diversity of plant based food, before the abundance of information about what happens to animals in the food industry, before the abundance of information about human health, before the relative social acceptance and normality of veganism and etc., and still, we didn’t have a doubt for a single moment regarding the Why. So we figured out the How by ourselves. And that’s because for us nonhuman animals were never “just” animals, and they always mattered. If we easily figured out the How decades ago, surly humans can easily do so nowadays.
Obviously everybody knows how to stop their support in the cruelest system ever. And everybody knows why they should do so. The problem is not that people don’t know what’s going on. And it’s also not that they don’t know how to stop supporting it. Everybody knows how animal based products are made, or at least that they were made of animals, and that those animals didn’t volunteer to become their bacon and eggs. And everybody knows how to get plant based food nowadays. Neither is the main problem. The main problem is that humans don’t care enough to simply stop supporting animal abuse.

The End of Animal Suffering – Part 1 – The Inefficiency Argument

For the World Farm Animals Day held today, a critical review of the book The End of Animal Farming by Jacy Reese.
Reese’s argument, basically, is that considering the incredible inefficiency of animal farming, along with what he views as an expansion of humans’ moral circle, and the technological developments in the animal-free food systems, animal farming will end.
In the following three posts we’ll address each of these three main factors correspondingly.

The Dangers of the Inefficiency Argument

Reese repeatedly argues that one of the main reasons, if not the main one, that animal farming will end is that it doesn’t make rational sense:
“The ace in the hole for the inevitability of the end of animal farming is the incredible inefficiency of making meat, dairy, and eggs from animals. Farmed animals consume calories and nutrients from plants, and they use that energy to do a lot more than produce meat, dairy, and eggs. They have all the normal bodily functions like breathing, movement, and growing by-products like hoofs, organs, and hair. These processes mean farmed animals have a caloric conversion ratio of 10:1 or more. For every ten calories of food we feed them, we get only about one calorie of meat in return. And for every ten grams of plant-based protein, we get at most two grams of animal-based protein.”

However, in order for the claim that animal farming will end because in efficiency terms it is unreasonable, to be reasonable, humans need to consume food on reasonable basis, only that they don’t. Humans don’t choose their food on the basis of energy-efficiency, but according to many other factors. Humans eat for great many reasons, for reasons of community, rituals, family, expressing their identity by eating this and not that, and of course for pleasure. For billions of humans food is comfort, a gesture, entertainment, an enemy, a profession, a hobby, a weapon, it can break barriers, it defines cultures, and connects families. It involves so many taboos and determinations of who belongs to the group and who does not, it unifies and distinguishes between ethnic groups and cultures. Unfortunately food is much more than taste and nutrition. Looking for reason based on efficiency in humans’ eating habits is unreasonable.

For someone who is very familiar with humans’ various psychological biases, it is a bit strange that he ignores it in relation to food consumption. Humans don’t consume food on the basis of a rational caloric conversion ratio, or on a rational basis whatsoever, so this rational reason is far from being sufficient. Humans are not even consuming food on the basis of its nutritional value, health benefits, or environmental considerations, not to mention moral ones. They have a rather different list of priorities. They rather eat what they like, what they are used to, what is traditional, common, cheap, normal, what they have always eaten, what others around them are eating, food that defines them the way they wish to be defined, food that doesn’t distinguish them from the group they want to be part of, and etc. That’s why they are willing to invest what seems, on the face of it, as irrational efforts in the food they are eating.

Animal farming is still highly romanticized all around the world. Obviously for no good reason, yet that myth must be destroyed. Animal farming is not going to end merely because rationally speaking it is inefficient. For many humans around the world, following tradition is more rational than energy-efficiency. Food is not fuel for the body.

Exactly because food is not fuel but among many other things, a cultural and social indicator, there is a growing concern, that in many societies, and definitely in the US, animal based food would be associated with class and political stands. Meaning, that sadly, there is a high probability that many humans would choose whether or not to eat animal based products merely according to their political agenda. In other words, it is probable that consuming animals would be partisan based. It already is in many senses, but it might get worse. Veganism is already highly associated with the leftwing, this may happen to cultured meat as well. This is not a prediction but more of apprehension. And in any case not the point here. The point here is that food is far from being merely the way people energize themselves. Insisting that it is, in such an irrational world, makes his rational claim totally irrational.

Beyond the fact that humans’ preferred foods don’t reflect the energy-efficiency of their food system and so it is not very likely that the inefficiency claim would radically change the food system, there is a great danger in making the inefficiency claim.
That is since the arguer may raise a factual claim and control the practical conclusions s/he is extracting from it, however s/he has no control over the operative conclusions that others would make. In the energy-efficiency sense, since humans excel at resisting any substantial changes in their beloved habits, and tend to choose the least demanding option, the one that requires them to change their habits the least, it is more probable that if anything, they would choose the more “efficient” animal based options than the plant based one. In other words, and practically speaking, this means that some people would consider instead of devouring the corpses of cows and sheeps, to devour the ones of animals who are considered as more “efficient” such as chickens and fishes. Considering that fishes and chickens are much smaller than sheeps and cows, that means that more individual animals would be exploited and tortured by humans. So opposite to the original intention of this claim, it may be the case that it would bring about an unfortunate increase in the number of tortured animals in the food industry.

Eventually humans would do what they find convenient and pleasing. If we’ll tell them that animal farming is incredibly inefficient, as soon as they discover that the various industries are not equally inefficient, they are more likely to choose the less inefficient ones, and unfortunately choosing these ones means consuming more individual animals. And that is among the humans who would even consider changing their habits, most humans are practically totally indifferent to any consideration which is not selfish.

And Reese is aware of this implication. He even writes that “consuming smaller animals leads to far more suffering per calorie because it takes far more animals.”  So the inefficiency argument is not only a speciesist argument in the sense of suggesting an opposition to an extremely cruel industry based on its inefficiency rather than its cruelty to other animals, it is also a cruel argument in the sense of the high probability of increasing the number of individual victims. Humans have been consuming more cows, sheeps and pigs in the past than they do nowadays (percentage wise), and nowadays they consume much more chickens and fishes. Along with human health motives, efficiency, also played a role in that awful course.
Reese is enough of an optimist to think that this argument is bound to bring about the end of animal farming, however, so far, along with other human oriented arguments, it has been increasing the number of exploited nonhuman animals.

The efficiency issue doesn’t only increase the number of victims but also each victim’s suffering.
Overall, the main mean in making animal farming more “efficient” is making the exploited animals more “efficient” at converting feed to flesh, and bodily secretion. More product for less investment. That practically means more control over the animals by manipulating them and their surroundings. These methods include increased lighting, unnatural calorie-dense feed, antibiotic use, growth hormones, and of course – a manipulation which invades deep into the animals’ body by changing their genetic characteristics. Craving efficiency led to engineering animals who are deformed and crippled, with some organs extremely enlarged and others shriveled.

Chickens are the most extreme representatives of the industry’s ability to manipulate animals’ bodies in a way which fits the exploiters needs – convert feed more “efficiently”, and grow larger.
Recent campaigns calling for exploitation of chickens from less deformed breeds, wishing to somewhat reverse this extremely violent trend, face the industry’s cynical green-washed excuses about the supposed unsustainability of this call. The National Chicken Council emphases that such a move would result in the use of more environmental resources due to the increase in feed and water (resources which would ‘grow unprofitable body parts’), and due to the overall number of days it would take to raise the birds.
Some animal exploitation experts also admit that less crippled chickens, who suffer less pain with each step, tend to move around more and therefore waste more energy, which is less “efficient”.

So chickens, who are already the most numerous land victims on earth, which are bound to the severest genetic manipulation and to the harshest living conditions, will be even worse off.

Much like chickens, fishes also suffer from their reputation for being more “efficient”.
Similarly to land animals, today, more and more fishes are bred in factory farms, euphemistically called aquaculture. Of course, the controlled environment of a farm means more control over the fishes – and much more manipulation to make them grow faster, thus also be more “efficient”. From the moment they hatch, farmed fishes endure a lighting regime that tricks them to eat more of a commercial diet designed for weight-gain. They live in crowded tanks or sea cages where they often face aggression from other fishes they cannot escape, and have to fight for food. The density leads to disease outbreaks and parasites which lead to immense suffering.

These intensive conditions which produce more flesh from each fish are known to cripple them. About 50-60% of farmed salmon and trout were found to have damaged ear bones, which leads to drastic hearing impairments. Studies have identified this deformity to be the result of accelerated growth rates that were traced to high-nutrient feed and exposure to longer light periods. This illness has also been found in other farmed fish species such as carp, eel and red drum.

The pressure for rapid weight gain doesn’t end with external environmental intervention. In another horrid resemblance to land animals, fishes too are the subject of genetic manipulation to increase “efficiency”.
In 2015 the level of invasion into the fishes’ bodies took another turn for the worse, as for the first time the FDA approved the marketing of GM animal – Atlantic salmon who has a gene from a Chinook salmon and a promoter sequence from an ocean pout.
This salmon can grow twice as fast as conventionally farmed Atlantic salmons, reaching adult size in some 18 months compared to 30 months, and requiring 25% less feed.

So far, animal farming’s inefficiency, didn’t cause the industry to reconsider its practices, but to constantly push further and further the biological limits of its poor victims. So talking about the industry’s inefficiency may increase the number of its victims as well as the suffering of each victim.

Thin Slices of Torture

For International Bacon Day held today, a brief glance at the lives of the animals behind this so beloved torturous flesh.

 Meet The So Beloved Torturous Flesh

The pig industry consists of two different herds, each with its own function.
The breeding sows function is to produce as many piglets as possible. The role of the piglets is to produce meat. They are reared to the age of 4-6 months then they are slaughtered.

18 to 20 piglets per sow per year is common in the industry. By selective breeding, pig breeders attempt to increase the number of piglets per sow and some have already reached more than 30. The more baby pigs born, the greater the fight between them over their mother’s teats. The industry’s solution is more genetic manipulations of course. They have simply “created” a sow with two more teats. There is no limit to the industry’s effort to squeeze more money at the expense of the poor animals.

The Sows

The sows are kept in metal-barred stalls or tether stalls which are so narrow that the sow cannot even turn around, she can only take a step forwards or backwards. The sows are confined in these stalls throughout their 16½ weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancy after pregnancy after pregnancy.
A sow is fed at one end of the crate, and her feces collects at the other. Some crates are so narrow that simply standing up and lying down require immense effort. In some factory farms, the sow is tied to the floor by a short chain or a strap around her neck.
All the sows are deprived of all exercise and of any opportunity to fulfill their social and psychological needs.

In January 2013 new welfare regulations regarding the sow stalls came into force in the EU. As usual, 12 years adjustment was given to the farmers at the animals’ expense, and as usual it barely even addressed one aspect of a life full of suffering.
As opposed to what is sometimes professed, sow stalls weren’t banned but their time use was restricted. The sows are legally imprisoned in them for the first month of their pregnancy, and illegally for as long as their captors desire, since as long as these torture devices are there and as long as nobody is going to enforce the new regulations, sows will keep being crumpled in these stalls.
To this day not all of the EU members have implemented the required welfare regulations despite that they were given 12 years to do so. In response EU officials have sent rebuke letters to these countries, another evidence of the irrelevancy of legislation.

And that only goes for the EU, several US states, Canada and New-Zealand. All represent a relatively small portion of the pigs industry. Most of the pigs are tortured in the rest of the US states and in China which is by far the biggest pig producer in the world. And maybe the saddest thing about the EU reform is that as lame as it is, activists can only dream of such reforms implemented in China where the industry has only started to shift from small backyard farms to massive intensive factory farms, and is growing in frightening scale.

With population growth, rapid economic development, continuous urbanization and an expanding middle class, China’s total pig consumption has increased fivefold since 1980. In the mid-1970s, in the midst of the country’s Green Revolution, an average Chinese citizen ate an average of 8 kilograms of pig flesh per year. Today, each person in China eats about 39 kilograms – even more than Americans.

Until the 1980s 95% of Chinese pigs came from smallholdings with fewer than five animals. Today just 20% come from these backyard farms. Some industrial facilities, often owned by the state or by multinationals, produce as many as 100,000 pigs a year each.

Farrowing Crates

About a week before the sows give birth, they are moved to another type of cage, one that the EU 2013 reform didn’t include – the farrowing crate.
Sows are devoted mothers and would normally spend days building a nest of leaves or straw. On the concrete or metal floor of the farrowing crate, they cannot do this and so lapse into a stereotype behavior. They simply go mad.

The bars on the crates totally restrict the pregnant sows’ ability to move. This causes their whole body to ache and many have back and leg problems. The bars prevent them from reaching their babies, though the babies can reach their mothers’ teats to suck. Sometimes short chains or rubber straps are used to immobilize the mother to give the piglets easy access to her. Five days after her piglets are taken away, the sow is being raped again and the whole misery-cycle starts all over again.

Animals produced for meat are ‘crop’.
It starts with the sows which are treated as reproduction machines, production units of baby pigs.
The worth of a sow is measured by the number of piglets she successfully weans per year.

Life In The Pens

Normally, piglets would stay with their mother for about 15 weeks. However, on factory farms, they are taken away at 2 to 3 weeks, weighing only about 15 pounds. They are crowded into small filthy “nursery” pens surrounded by metal bars and concrete.

The air in these factories is laden with dust and noxious gases which are produced by the animals’ urine and feces. Studies of workers in pig confinement buildings have found that 60% have breathing problems, despite the fact that they spend only a few hours a day inside the confinement buildings. Imagine how the pigs who have an acute sense of smell must feel like. Ammonia fumes damage their lungs and unsurprisingly many die of respiratory diseases.

Lameness, sores and other leg, back and hip problems are all very common in the pig industry. Urinary tract infections are also very common, especially among sows, as result of low levels of activity and since pigs have to lie and sit in their feces.

The pigs are deprived of fresh air, quietness, natural diet and exercise, freedom to forage, walk, roam, explore, dig and interact, wallow in mud and develop natural social relationships. This confinement in semi-darkness would torture any sentient being.

The lack of environmental stimulation in the pens and in the sow stalls prevents any normal behaviors and leads to psychological disorders including: chronic stress, aggression, depression and frustration.
The result is that the pigs and the sows develop abnormal and neurotic coping behaviors, like waving their heads from side to side, biting bars over and over again, or biting each other’s tails. Some sows become apathetic and unresponsive. They are in a severe state of depression.

Tail Docking

Bored and frustrated, many chew and bite the other pigs’ tails. Tail-biting can lead to infections and abscesses, so to prevent tail-biting, most farmers cut the piglets’ tails with pliers or a hot docking iron.

Teeth Clipping

Many piglets’ pointed side-teeth are clipped down to the gum with pliers, in the first few days of life. This is done to prevent them from injuring either the sow’s udder or the faces of their litter mates, leaving them shocked and bleeding.


Ear notching is the most popular method of identification in commercial farms.
Pigs are ear notched using specially designed pliers, which leave v-shaped notches in the ear.


Most male piglets are castrated. Castration is done because consumers find the meat of intact males objectionable. The piglets are castrated without anesthesia.

Although many drugs are given to pigs throughout their lives, pain relievers are not among them, not in any of the mentioned procedures.

Selective Breeding

Selective breeding is being used to develop pigs with faster growth rates and quicker, heavier muscle development. Pigs’ legs are simply unable to keep pace with the growth rate of the rest of their body. As a result pigs suffer from painful joint and leg problems.

Selective breeding also forces the pigs’ muscles to grow out of proportion to their blood-vessels, lungs and heart. They can be physiologically affected by not being able to get enough oxygen into their muscles, and so even a young pig can have a heart attack.

Loading, Unloading and Transportation

After 4 to 6 months of hell, when the pigs reach the industry’s desirable weight, they are violently loaded on the transport trucks off to the slaughterhouse.

The pigs who are denied normal movement for most of their lives, are suddenly expected to get as fast as possible from the transport trucks into the slaughterhouse.
And as always time is money so all the “necessary” means are being used to load and unload the pigs on and off the truck, as fast as possible.

Pigs cannot sweat. If the weather in the truck is too hot, pigs’ temperatures soar. They pile up over one another to get to the air vents. In cold weather, they huddle together for warmth. Consequently some die from suffocation.

When the trucks reach the slaughterhouse, if the pigs refuse to “co-operate” with their tormentors, they are bludgeoned, kicked and brutally assaulted until they are totally subdued. In many cases it happens while the pigs are so terrified and traumatized that they silently dream-walk.

The Murder

Once inside the slaughterhouse, the first thing that probably strikes the pigs is the noise. In some locations it is like a roaring mechanical tide, elsewhere it is the sound of metallic slamming and clanking of chains and hooks, coupling and uncoupling, the hiss of power hoses, the bang of the “captive bolt” as it penetrates the skulls of cattle, mixed with the shrieks of terror from doomed animals.

Prior to being hung upside down by their back legs and bled to death, pigs are supposed to be ‘stunned’ and rendered unconscious. However, ‘stunning’ is terribly imprecise, and this results in conscious animals hanging upside down, kicking and struggling, while a slaughterhouse worker tries to ‘stick’ them in the neck with a knife.
If the worker misses, the pig is carried to the next station on the slaughterhouse assembly line, the scalding tank, where he is boiled alive.

Simply mumble ‘MMM…Bacon!…’ became the icon of the idiotic responses humans make when they encounter a serious, well based, rational arguments against consuming nonhuman animals. But that notorious “response” is not the most common one. The most common is conveniently looking away while continuing with the same cruel habits. Whether humans are defying and trolling or aphetic and dogmatic, the victims keep losing.

Massacring Species

Last week it was reported that the largest massacre of bottlenose dolphins in Faroe Islands’ history took place. After being driven 45km for over five hours by speed boats and jet-skis, 100 dolphins were brutally slaughtered as part of the Islands’ traditional whale hunt called “Grindadráp“.

This violent massacre that is executed several times a year and can reach about 1,000 whales and dolphins annually, is practiced since the 10th century, passing from generation to generation from the medieval whalers, and is considered an important tradition, a rite of passage that turns boys into men.

It starts when a pod of whales (mostly pilot whale) is spotted near the islands or near channels between them. The message is passed to the elected whaling officials and to the district sheriff, and the word is spread as widely and as quickly as possible to the community, so the men can drop whatever they are doing and ardently rush to their boats.

The islanders surround the pod with their boats in a wide semicircle, separating the whales from the open sea, and slowly drive them towards the bay. On the foreman’s signal, stones attached to nets are thrown behind the whales along with a lot of noise making to frighten the whales, driving them towards the beach where they become stranded in the shallow water. Here they are totally helpless against the human brutal attack coming from the shore.

The whales are stoned, speared, stabbed, slashed, and clubbed. The killing is done using traditional knives with blades of 16 to 19 centimeter long, making a cut across the back and down to the spinal cord. The severing of the spinal cord causes a very powerful muscular spasm throughout the body of the whales, after which they are paralyzed, dying of blood lose. It takes several minutes of indescribable pain until the whales die.

Whales who are not stranded far enough up on shore are hauled by striking a steel pointed hook, or a gaff into their back. Since whales have smooth skin and since they panicky try to escape, it often takes several times to get it deep enough. Then they are dragged to shore with a rope attached to the hook to be slaughtered.

The pilot whales form some of the most cohesive social groups in nature and won’t abandon each other even in situations of mortal danger. This of course enhances the terror as they are swimming in the blood of their family members watching them severely beaten and slaughtered.

After the killing is over the carcasses are divided between the people of the community.

This slaughter is done in a festive atmosphere in which everybody participates. People tend to drink a lot, and children even get a day off of school so they can join the fun, watch the terrified whales being murdered and climb over whale carcasses.

Obviously there is something outrageous about the hypocrite outrage of so many people at this particular brutal slaughter of this particular beloved nonhuman animal while actively supporting the immensely greater brutal slaughter of other kinds of nonhuman animals.
But much more outrageous is the fact that even the outrage of so many people at this brutal slaughter doesn’t manage to stop even a ritual slaughter of one of humans’ most beloved animal. So when will the common systematical brutal slaughter of nonhuman animals that humans consider merely as a course on their plate, would ever end?

Humans’ Best Temporary Friend

More and more reports from more and more animal shelters reveal that humans are forsaking their animal companions, mostly dogs, after many have adopted ones in the beginning of covid-19 breakout.
This course has started earlier this year when lockdowns all over the world were canceled and dogs where less needed to serve as humans’ companions or even as their formal excuses to go outside during lockdowns.
In the past year, many humans have decided that adopting animals is not really a lifelong commitment but a temporary setup, and so at some point, they decided to put them in a shelter in the best case, and in the worse one they simply throw them to the streets.

Lately things have gotten even worse due to the increase in the cost of living all over the world. Many humans cut their expenses by forsaking the dogs they have adopted, many of which when they were lonely and frustrated during lockdowns. Once lockdowns are down and cost of living is up, many humans ungratefully forsake their dogs. They used dogs for emotional support during the pandemic and now many of them are abandoning them.

After an adoption boom in the beginning of the pandemic about two years ago, nowadays more than 3.4 million human households have forsaken their companion animals in the UK alone. Similar worrying reports are coming from the U.S. and other places as well. Continue reading


Our decision to initiate this blog about 7 years ago was, in many senses, driven by the great fuss among many animal liberation activists around the headlines published in the end of March 2015 of an asteroid about to wipe out the earth. Many activists shared their hopes for it to happen, but didn’t change their actions so it would. And our hope was and still is, that among other things, this blog would help to change that.

So for International Asteroid Day held today, we repost our “Asteroid argument” published about 7 years ago, which is unfortunately still as relevant today as it was then.

The Asteroid Argument

Our first post was dedicated to activists passively wishing an asteroid would wipe out the earth, while doing nothing active so that their wishes might come true.
Of course we don’t mean it in a literal sense, as in actively directing asteroids towards earth, but metaphorically, as in actively looking for viable ways to stop the suffering. Ideas like these for example. But there is an active aspect even in the case of asteroids. Continue reading

Not to Bee

Today is UN’s World Bee Day. The aim of World Bee Day is to “raise awareness among the international public about the importance of bees and other pollinators for humanity in the light of food security, the global elimination of hunger and care for the environment and biodiversity”, ironically and tragically, while ignoring the need to raise awareness among the international public about the massive exploitation of bees by humanity.

The honey industry sees bees merely as production units. Honey consumers see bees as symbiotic beings who willingly choose to share their labor and resources with humans. And even not all vegans consider bees in their moral circle.
But actually like the other commercially exploited animals, bees are sentient beings who are used as bio-machines to make a product for human pleasure.
Probably because they are insects and because they are seen flying around, bees are considered free of the usual cruelties of the animal farming industry. However bees undergo treatments similar in their essence to those endured by other commercially exploited animals. They go through routine examination and handling, artificial feeding regimes, drug and pesticide treatment, genetic manipulation, artificial insemination, transportation (by air, rail and road) and murder.


Despite the non-incidental, convenient, common assumption – bees can feel. All the evidence available indicates that they, as many other invertebrates who have a centralized nervous systems (which includes a brain), do have the capacity to feel suffering and pleasure.
Invertebrates, it seems, exhibit nociceptive responses analogous to those shown by vertebrates. They can detect and respond to noxious stimuli, and in some cases, these responses can be modified by opioid substances.
Enkephalin-like substances and their receptors have also been found in insects, and opiate agonists and antagonists have been shown to modulate nociceptive-type responses in several species of arthropod, including mantis shrimps, honeybees, and praying mantes.

Bees are highly adaptive and sophisticated beings with a bit less than one million neurons, which are interconnected in ways that are beyond our current understanding, jammed into less than one cubic millimeter of brain tissue. The neural density in the bee’s brain is about 10 times higher than that in a mammalian cerebral cortex, which most of us consider to be the pinnacle of evolution on this planet.

Bees display complex behaviors such as communication with other bees using different types of body movements (the famous bee dances) informing them about the position of flowers and where to pick pollen. They also have a great memory which allows them to remember where the flowers and the hive are.

Honey Production

Bees suck nectar from surrounding flowers, hold it in their primary stomach and fly back to the hive. There, the nectar is chewed and regurgitated by other bees until its complex sugar breaks down to 2 simple ones – glucose and fructose. Then the bees deposit the nectar into cells in the honeycombs they build. They fan it with their wings until most of the water content evaporates in the warm temperature of the beehive, and what’s left is thick and gooey honey. The bees then cap each cell with bees’ wax, storing it for future use. The honey is very essential to feed the bees and their young in the winter when pollen is less widespread. Therefore bees work continually throughout the other months to hoard supply.

Bees can only gather a tiny amount of pollen from the flowers in each trip, 55,000 miles of travel and pollen from 2 million flowers are needed to gather just one pound of honey. They do all of this work to create food for their own consumption, not for human beings.

Honey Stealing

For humans to consume honey, first it must be robbed.
To make the theft easier, humans usually remove the bees from their hive by shaking, heating, smoking, gassing or using forced air to blast them out the hives.
Many bees are injured, squashed or otherwise killed during the conquest of their home.

When the honey is taken from the bees and they are not killed, the bees are left without their food. As a substitute for this, bees whose honey have been taken away are fed water with sugar, a deficient substitute which significantly harms the bees’ health since it lacks the essential nutrients, fats and vitamins of honey.
Honey bees are adapted to warmer climate, and therefore ‘beekeeping’ during winter, especially in cold countries, puts them in much strain. The bees’ technic of keeping the hive warm is simply vibrating to generate heat, like shivering. This requires a lot of energy, but their food –honey – was stolen, leaving them even more vulnerable.
The “winter loss” the industry deems “acceptable” is about 15% of hives, and some years it’s twice as high.

Artificial Insemination

The industry creates new generations of queen bees by artificial insemination.
The favored method of obtaining bee sperm is to pull off the males’ heads: decapitation sends an electrical impulse to the nervous system, causing sexual arousal. The lower half of the headless bee is then squeezed to make it ejaculate, and the resulting liquid is collected in a hypodermic syringe to be inserted into the female.
Small metal instruments are used to open the queen’s “sting chamber” and insert the syringe, which makes this experience very stressful for her. The queen is actually being raped.


Bees cannot escape from captivity by just flying away because single bees cannot make it on their own, and a whole group cannot escape since the “beekeepers” are preventing what is called swarming – which is when the queen leaves the colony with many worker bees – by clipping the wings of the queen. Clipping is often done using a “baldock cage”, this is a ring with sharp spikes on its perimeter and a mesh covering the opening of the ring. This is used to trap the queen in one place, her wings are then cut with scissors. Other methods for wing clipping include using a plunger and a tube with a mesh end which the queen is held against as her wings are clipped.
“Beekeepers” often kill the old queen and replace her with a new one (older queens are much more likely to swarm than younger ones).
Preventing swarming is particularly important for bee exploiters since not only would they lose about half of “their” bees, but also since bees do not produce honey during the intense preparation of swarming.


The queens are bought from commercial ‘queen suppliers’. Hundreds of queens are kept in cages waiting to be shipped around the country. After arrival at the post office or shipping depot, they suffer from overheating, cold, getting banged around and exposed to insecticides.
Queens can live for five years but most “beekeepers” kill and replace them after one year. The reasons are to gain control over the colony and to keep honey production at maximum. Artificial pheromones are also used to keep the colonies under human control.

Other Products

As is the “norm” with animal exploitation industries, humans try to squeeze any possible profit from the beings they exploit. Bees are exploited for much more than honey:

  • Bee Pollen is collected from flowers and brought back to the hive as a load on the hind legs. It is an important food source for the bees, which is needed for survival. The collection of pollen involves fitting special traps in the hive, in order to scrape the pollen from the bees’ backs.
  • Bee Venom is the sting of the bee. Its collection involves the stretching of an electrically-charged membrane in front of the hive. When the bees fly into it they receive an electric shock and sting the membrane, thus depositing the venom. Venom is mostly used in medical substances and some beauty and “anti-aging” products.
  • Royal Jelly is a creamy-white sticky fluid, which is made from a blend of two secretions from the glands of the worker bees. It is the sole source of nourishment for the queen bee throughout her life. Since royal jelly enables the bee to become a queen, some people believe they can recapture their youth by eating it.
  • Beeswax is secreted by bees to build their hives. The grayish-brown wax is secreted by the bee to construct honeycombs. Beeswax is used in some candles and many “natural” cosmetics (which are marked as “no animal products”) as well as some food products and pharmaceuticals.
    This compels the bees to keep working to produce more and more wax to make up for the wax stolen from them.
  • Propolis is a resinous substance gathered by bees from trees. It is used to fill holes, and varnish and strengthen the hive. Bees also use it as a natural antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal agent. It is gathered by humans either by scraping it off the hive or by collecting it on specially made frames. It is used by humans for medical uses as well as the production of cosmetics and special varnishes. Again, their extraction compels the bees to go and pick more for the hive to be kept safe.
  • Bee Brood is made of the bodies of bees in the different early stages in their development including eggs, larvae and pupae. The bodies of these bees are simply eaten.
  • Pollination is the most lucrative part of bees’ exploitation. It takes 6 million honeybee hives to pollinate just the almond trees, in the U.S alone, each spring. About a million of which must be trucked in from out of state. 60% of the annual income of 1,500 “beekeepers” comes from pollination. “Without the almond industry, the bee industry wouldn’t exist”, said one large-scale “beekeeper”

Honey is a classic example of the human character.
Humans commercially steal bees’ winter food source, merely to sweeten their own food.
Sweeter life for humans; genetic manipulation, artificial insemination, pesticides, poisoning, artificial food, rough handling, smoke, chemical repellents or air blast, transportation by air, rail, road and even by mail, and murder – for the Bees.

It is so natural for humans to steal from bees who have sweeter “sugar”.
It is so natural for humans to steal from the weak something so basic in order to provide something so marginal to the strong.

Humans don’t even understand how can it even be possible to steal from a bee.
For them the bees are giving humans the honey. Like chickens and eggs, cows and milk, sheep and wool, geese and down and so on. No questions. No criticism.

With all this violence being so natural and obvious for humans, isn’t it time for some questions and criticism over conventional activism?


The Actual Lives of Cultural Symbols

Being a significant symbol of the holiday, last year in Easter, we have focused on Eggs and the various Eggs Games. This year we’ll focus on another significant symbol of Easter – Rabbits.

The Easter Bunny origin is in pre-Christian fertility lore. Rabbits symbolize fertility and new life during the spring season in human culture.

But these are the actual lives of rabbits in human culture:

Rabbits in the flesh industry are doomed to spend their entire lives in huge corrugated iron sheds, known in the industry as “rabbitries” – where barren, wire battery cages are raised about a meter above the ground, often stacked two or three layers high.
Sometimes the sheds are open-sided, so the caged rabbits are exposed to extreme changes of temperature, light and noise. And in the rest, the rabbits never see day light.
This is the fate of more than one billion sentient individuals per year.
The formal numbers of the industry are one billion rabbits per year, but since many humans confine rabbits in their backyards, the informal numbers are probably much higher.

The bunnies are packed 6-8 in a cage measuring 2 ft x 3 ft x 18 ft high.
In the wild, female rabbits live in a three acres territory and males occupy a territory of eight acres. The small sized cages restrict the young rabbits’ movement and thus result in poor development of the thigh bone. Caged rabbits lose the ability to hop normally.
Abnormalities in the shape of the back and the ensuing pressure on the vertebral column may cause further injuries.
The Rabbits exploiters confine them in such small cages to severely restrict their movement. The industry’s math is very simple- less space = less movement = less energy spent = more weight = more  money.

Torments and Diseases

Rabbits in the meat industry suffer from space deprivation, poor ventilation, manipulated lighting, and etc. Consequently they exhibit a range of neurotic behaviors such as fur-plucking, ear-biting and self-mutilation. They become obese, get inflamed feet, have poor bone density, develop gastrointestinal and urinary dysfunction.

Caged rabbits can suffer from ulcerative pododermatitis (also called “sore hocks”) consisting of scab-covered ulcers on the hind legs. This is caused by the pressure of heavy body weight on a wire floor, or by excessive stamping of the feet by nervous rabbits.

Prolonged exposure to fumes (particularly ammonia) from urine and faeces, irritate the rabbits’ eyes and respiratory tracts and predisposes them to disease.

In nature, rabbits’ way of dealing with dangers is by running and hiding in holes. The fact that they can’t do it in the cages causes panic with every change in the surrounding. When they are taken out of the cage or someone else is getting in or even to the slightest noise, rabbits often respond with digestive problems, in some cases hurting themselves or their babies, sometimes killing them.

An indication of how hard the conditions in the rabbits farms are – one in 4 rabbits will die due to the intensive conditions before the age of 12 weeks (rabbit’s slaughter age) even though they can reach up to 15 years of age.

The Lives of the Breeding Does

The industry’s way of “producing” more “meat bunnies” is by caging some does and bucks (female and male rabbits) in a solitary cage, and use them as a breeding stock.

In the wild, rabbits form social colonies that usually consist of one to three males and one to five females. Domestic rabbits retain the full range of behaviors of their wild ancestors, so housing rabbits singly in barren cages causes physiological and behavioral problems.

The nails of adult rabbits are trimmed to prevent them from holding on to the wire mesh of the cage when they are taken out to mate.

Young does are mated for the first time at the age of 16 weeks. Then they start their endless cycle of impregnation, gestation, birth, and nursing.
A typical litter consists of 8-10 bunnies which are taken away from their mother at 4 weeks of age. The does are fertile 24 hours after giving birth and are re-mated before each litter is weaned.

Does have an average ‘use-life’ of about 18 months. During this period, they will “produce” 8-15 litters. The gestation lasts for 32 days. An average litter reproduces 6-8 successfully fattened rabbits (out of 8-10 born bunnies). Production targets are of at least 45-50 rabbits per doe per year. Bucks are usually kept until they are 3 to 4 years old.


At the age of 12 weeks, weighting about 2kg, the rabbits are murdered.

Many Rabbits are forced to endure a journey of hundreds of miles since there are very few licensed rabbit slaughterhouses. The rabbits are crammed into crates that are stacked on each other in open vehicles and then transported for long distances.

The other option is not much better. In many cases the rabbits are slaughtered by the much less skilled farmers.

Rabbits that are slaughtered in commercial facilities undergo electrical stunning, which is supposed to render them unconscious, and then they are decapitated.
In smaller processing facilities or on-site slaughter, manual stunning methods are used. Two are recommended by the industry: twisting the rabbits’ necks to the point of cervical dislocation, or hitting the rabbits on the head with a piece of iron pipe.

After the stunning, the rabbits are hung by one of the hind legs above the hock joint. Then their throats are slit.

According to the USDA’s meat inspectors, some rabbits are fully conscious as they have hook jabbed through their leg muscles and possibly through the bone.

The rabbit meat industry is another example of the absurd duality of the human race.
Rabbits are considered to be one of the most adorable animals in the world.
You can find rabbit dolls in every toy store, one of the most popular characters among children is bugs bunny and rabbits are, unfortunately, very popular in the ‘petting zoo’ at kindergartens and elementary schools.

At the same stores humans are buying rabbit puppet dolls for their children, rabbit designed slippers for themselves or, especially now in Easter, rabbit shaped chocolate, they are also buying rabbit corpses.

Rabbits are means to humans’ ends in every possible way.
“Pets”, “Lab Animals”, clothes materials, stuffed dolls, or skinless rabbit hind legs.
Cute or not, rabbits have one role in this world, to pleasure humans.

Justice for Animals in a Nonideal World of Animal Rights Theories

Zoopolis, which was the topic of the last five posts, is the most familiar, and probably so far the most extensive and original attempt to suggest a theory of animal protection in the realm of political science. But it didn’t start the course, which some call ‘the political turn in animal ethics’. That is usually attributed to Robert Garner who wrote about the issue in mid-90’s.
In the following text we’ll address his book A Theory of Justice for Animals – Animal Rights in a Nonideal World from 2013, where he presents his theory for animal justice.

Garner starts formulating his theory of justice for animals by rejecting the two major objections to the claim that it is even relevant to apply principles of justice to animals:
The first – that justice is inappropriate for animals because it is a distributive concept involving, typically, material goods – is quickly dispensed with on the grounds that the distributional paradigm can be extended to include primary goods which clearly apply to animals. The second objection is that animals, not being moral agents, are incapable of agreeing and upholding principles of justice. For this reason, animals are excluded as recipients of justice in most contractarian theories of justice, and, most notably, the theory of justice provided by Rawls.”
This objection is dispensed by the argument from marginal cases: “One difficulty for Rawls here (and for contractarianism in general) is that insisting upon moral agency as an entry qualification for justice also has the effect of excluding some humans, such as the very young and the severely mentally disabled, so called “marginal” humans.”
In other words, if principles of justice don’t apply to beings who are not moral agents, then they shouldn’t apply to many humans as well, a conclusion humans find unacceptable. But to remain consistent, they must either accept the exclusion of some humans from principles of justice, or the inclusion of nonhuman animals. Obviously Garner is in the later camp.

The reason Garner insists on a theory of justice rather than sticking to the moral realm is that according to him, morality independent of justice is equivalent, in theory, to the voluntary character of charity. “The requirement to be just to animals means, in practice, that it is regarded as a pressing matter, one that should be considered compulsory and not left to individuals to decide if they want to abide by obligations. Moreover, it is incumbent on the state, above all, to ensure that animals are treated justly. Insofar as there are direct duties owed to animals within a moral realm independent of justice, they cannot be based on the principles of charity or compassion, since the decision to act so as to benefit animals according to these principles is entirely voluntary. No duties, in other words, are invoked.”

We agree that moral issues must be regarded as a pressing matter, one that should be considered compulsory and not left to individuals to decide if they want to abide by obligations, but taking this matter to the state level would practically mean that individual humans would feel that it is not their responsibility. On the face of it, had people been moral, compassionate and caring, then first of all, moral obligations to animals would indeed be regarded as a pressing matter (as opposed to the current indifference), and second, if the state they live in doesn’t see it that way, humans should replace their representatives to ones who do.
Obviously this claim is extremely naïve, but mostly because it replies to an even more naïve claim that “it is incumbent on the state, above all, to ensure that animals are treated justly” in a world where there has not even been one single state ever in history that ensured that humans, their own citizens, are treated justly.

Garner argues that we need to frame the obligations humans have to nonhuman animals in the language of justice, because justice entails legal compulsion. But humans have framed their obligations to other humans in the language of justice long ago, yet it didn’t entail legal compulsion in any state. We live in an extremely unjust world, a world where injustice to humans occurs every single minute, in every single state, so we fail to see why and how would the change of language of the obligations to animals succeed where it colossally failed when it comes to humans, despite that humans, generally speaking, do care about other humans.

Besides the issue of unprecedentedness (or failed precedent of justice, anywhere at any time along human history and for humans only), the very idea of reliance and emphasis on the state and on the legal system to bring justice is in itself unjust. That is because states, laws and rights are power based, discriminatory in their nature, and virtually are “the law of the strongest” in a civilized clothing, and as long as the political and legal system is human, it is bound to be unjust and speciesist.
Clearly, the very situation of humans representing animals’ interests, according to rules that humans and humans alone have shaped, is in itself utterly unjust. There can never be equality when one group decides everything for all the other groups. Inequality is inherent to an interspecies system where only one species makes all the rules.

Garner’s Sentience Position

After explaining why a theory of justice and not a moral one is what’s needed, Garner tries to strengthen his case by mentioning some disadvantages of specific moral theories commonly used to protect animals.
Regarding care ethics he claims that when separated from principles of justice, it is likely to lead to an illegitimate prioritization of humans’ particular relationships with other animals.
Regarding virtues ethics he claims that some prior ethical theory is needed to identify virtues and vices in the first place. In his words: “Without any prior moral standards, we could neither identify moral virtues nor determine their content.” He also mentions that virtue ethics, like care ethics, does not always provide a clear guide to action or moral judgment. And also that it is vulnerable to conflicts between virtues.
Regarding relational ethics he claims that it would have the implication that we owe no obligations – positive or negative – to those with whom we do not have a relationship. He quotes DeGrazia’s remarks on the matter: “giving extensive weight to social bonds might destabilize the moral status of many humans; unloved loners, people from very different cultures or highly isolated countries.” And of course, when it comes to nonhuman animals, it follows that animals with whom humans don’t have a relationship, have no moral worth at all.
Regarding utilitarianism he makes the famous claim that it neglects the individual. “Its aggregative character results in allowing “some people to be treated as less than equals, as a means to other people’s ends” (Rowlands, 2009: 42). In other words, the way that humans and animals are treated in utilitarianism is not a product of the characteristics they possess as individuals, “but of the effects of their treatment on others”.”
Regarding what he calls the species-egalitarian version of animal rights, he claims that it is “failing to take into account the importance of nonpersonhood interests, it fails to take into account the moral significance of those interests associated with persons. In other words, the species-egalitarian strand of animal rights is flawed because it is difficult to argue against the claim that the differences between “normal” adult humans and adult animals are substantial and are morally significant. In short, the level of complexity of an individual affects what can be a harm for it.
In particular, the fact that most animals lack the characteristics of personhood challenges the claim that they have equivalent levels of interest in life and liberty to “normal” humans. In other words, it is not possible to justify moral egalitarianism between humans and animals because it is not the case that humans and animals have equally important interests in life and liberty
Another reason Garner rejects the rights-based species egalitarianism as a possible candidate for a theory of justice for animals is that it does not qualify as a realistic utopia (as it is unrealistic).

Hence, Garner suggests his own theory – The Sentience Position.
As its name suggests, it is based on the assumption that at least some nonhuman animals have an interest in not suffering. As a result, they have a prima facie interest in avoiding suffering that might be inflicted on them by humans. If we are prepared to say that humans have a right not to suffer at the hands of others, then, given that animals have a similar, although by no means identical, capacity to suffer, consistency demands that we also accord a right not to suffer to animals. If this is granted, and we do not try to identify additional interests animals possess to which we might attach a right, then this is a position claiming that what is wrong with our treatment of animals is not their use per se but is a product of what we do to them whilst they are being used.”

Garner’s theory of justice for animals is rights-based but as aforementioned non-egalitarian. That means that according to him: “… the opportunities account of the wrongness of killing suggests that humans have more to lose by death. As a result, it would be justified morally to choose the life of a human over an animal on the grounds that this would cause less harm“.
However, obviously that is not true. Given that humans are causing much more harm than any other animal, it would be utterly unjustified morally to choose the life of a human over another animal on the grounds that this would cause less harm.

Garner, like most others, considers only one part of the equation, the tiniest, and in our view the least important, ethically speaking, which is the effect on the agent, while totally ignoring the effects of the agent. This consideration is particularly partial and superficial when the case is of humans vs. nonhumans. Every being has a price tag, but humans’ is nonproportional to any other being.

Garner’s perspective stems from the ethical line of thought that the question in the center of morality is how to live a good life and not how to live while being good to others. When the question in the center of morality is of how one must live and not how one must treat others, then the focus in cases of conflict of interests is who can potentially live a better life, and not who can potentially cause less harm to others. When affecting others is in the center of ethical questions then the conclusion is totally different. Human life is not at all more important under this approach.

Life has no point or meaning whatsoever in cosmic terms, and nothing has any external justification in terms of purpose. No one and nothing is more important than anything or anyone else in cosmic or purposefulness terms. Everything and everyone exist for no reason or purpose, so there is no reason to prioritize humans for allegedly having superior capabilities since these, even if for the sake of the argument we’ll accept that exist, have no meaning or purpose in cosmic terms. It is not important that they would exist. Only experiences are morally relevant.
If there is no purpose to existence and everyone exists for no reason, then what we must focus on is how to make everyone’s existence as tolerable as possible by minimizing negative experiences. Since humans are nonproportionally causing most of the negative experiences in the world, actually they are supposed to be at the bottom of the hierarchy of moral consideration, not indisputably placed at the top. When causing suffering to others, and not the ability to experience other mental capacities by the self, is in the center, human life is not more important but less.
Humans increase suffering in the world, they increase the number of suffering beings in the world, they increase the individual suffering of individual beings in the world. However you frame it, clearly, human life is the worst.
We think it is at least a very substantial justification against human protection, most certainly against an equal protection.

Garner’s Speciesist Position

According to Garner the species egalitarian version of animal rights fails as an ethical theory not only because humans and animals differ in ways that are morally relevant such as that normal adult humans possess a greater interest in life and liberty than most animals and that this ought to be reflected in the calculation of the respective moral importance of humans and animals, but also because it does not pass the realistic utopia test. “That is, the species-egalitarian version of animal rights, irrespective of whether it is a valid ethical position, requires too much of human beings, necessitating a transformation of what would seem to be our natural tendency to put our species, at least in some instances, first morally. That is, it fails to take into account the shared heritage of humanity that, from time immemorial, has used animals. In the language of communitarianism, it fails to take into account the history of narrative life stories.”
And he quotes Alasdair MacIntyre to strengthen his point: “I inherit from the past of my family, my city, my tribe, my nation, a variety of debts, inheritances, rightful expectations and obligations. These constitute the given of my life, my moral starting point.” And adds himself: “Animals have certainly played a part in these narrative life stories, but they have never been the moral equal of humans.”
But we think it doesn’t strengthen his point. The fact that humans are biased to be speciesist doesn’t justify a speciesist theory. All along history, white straight men prioritized their own group first, but no one thinks white supremacy is therefore morally justified. We fail to understand how this argument is not, in the least bad case, a naturalistic fallacy and in the worst case utterly speciesist.

However, as rationally and morally indefensible as this claim may be, it is also practically inevitable. Humans indeed inherit from their past, their family, their tribe, their nation, a variety of inheritances that constitute the given of their life, and their moral starting point.
For that, among other reasons, it is hard to disagree that indeed the species-egalitarian version of animal rights requires too much of human beings. Not in the sense that there is something wrong with demanding humans species-egalitarianism, but in a sense of humans being way too inherently speciesist for such a demand to ever be implemented.

Having said that, that doesn’t mean that we should focus on a nonideal theory for animal justice, as Garner urges us to do, assisted by another political philosopher called Jonathan Wolff whom he quotes: “the task for the political philosopher is not to design the best possible world, but to design the best possible world starting from here.”
Designing the best possible world starting from here, is hardly likely to serve any justice for billions of animals for whom ‘here’ is the aggregated history of exploitation and suffering. It is hardly unlikely that the victims would suffice with such a task, which is more likely to serve the victimizers. It is more likely that victims would seek for an ideal theory and wouldn’t understand why must they compromise, at their own expense, on what the victimizers, and the victimizers alone, view as the best possible world, all the more so when the victimization is as old as the victimizers are, and is unproportionate to any other case of victimization ever in history.

From here, can only be different levels of nonideal lives for the victims. From here, can only be compromises at the expense of the victims, without hearing their say. From here, can only be discussions between humans over how many nonhumans humans are willing to sacrifice.

Garner’s conceptualization is speciesist, since he turns the whole issue to be about some humans advocating for an ideal theory of justice for animals, and others advocating for a nonideal one. In his terms it is about what humans are willing to do instead of about what nonhumans need and are likely to be willing to accept. And we find it hard to believe that they would be willing to compromise on his nonideal theory. In fact, we find it hard to believe that they would be willing to even consider it as nonideal, a term only humans can use, since for the victims, no theory is ideal, certainly not one that permits using them for humans’ purposes, or that doesn’t even pretend to provide an egalitarian state of affairs, and starts looking at things ‘from here’ – an extremely speciesist world in which they are systematically exploited by humans.

No theory is ideal, even the ones who advocate for a vegan world, and that is because it is always humans who are setting the standards, it is always humans who are determining which suffering is necessary despite that it is highly doubtful that anyone but humans would accept any of it as necessary, not to mention as just. Clearly this is always the case, under all theories. It is inherent to the world, but it is still fucked up and that’s why this world is so inherently fucked up.
This claim is not a theoretical stubborn insistency on an ideal theory, there are real victims, numerous of them, behind these cruel compromises. Behind each harm that humans determine as necessary, there are billions of victims, and to none of which was it necessary. Arguing that there is nothing to do about the suffering of billions of nonhuman animals in the plant based agriculture due to humans’ need to eat, is kind of might is right. Clearly, for the victims of human civilization, in the plant based food industry, in the clothing industry, due to human construction, transportation, leisure, entertainment and etc., nothing is necessary.
Was it up to them, the standard was much much higher than a vegan world with no experiments and no use of animals in the clothing and entertainment industries. Most probably, they would at least demand that humans would live just as any other species in terms of population size, living space, resources use, and effect on other species and their environment.
In other words, only if and when humans live like any other species, would it be relevant to discuss egalitarianism and necessary suffering.

There is nothing necessary about anything that humans are doing. It is necessary that a human would feed oneself as long as s/he lives, but humans can feed themselves with what other apes are feeding themselves, meaning whatever is growing in their restricted living area. It is not necessary that they would feed themselves by driving to a supermarket, and consume products consisted of double digits ingredients with each being transported from a different part of the world, each being grown in a different farm, each being sprayed with several chemicals, being processed several times, wrapped with several packages, some of which made out of nonbiodegradable materials that would affect sentient beings for hundreds of years ahead. None of this is necessary by a non-speciesist measure.

The inequality is inherent because it is impossible to live without hurting other sentient beings. That is the case even when living in small numbers, in a small territory, with a small footprint. And it is certainly the case when it comes to humans who each of them, including vegans, has a tremendous footprint, nonproportional to any other being from any other species.

Injustice to animals is everywhere and in everything. Every aspect of humans’ lives is bound with injustice to nonhumans. Not just factory farming but any type of farming is unjust. The levels of discrimination obviously largely differ, but excluding nonhumans from a particular area, tearing out the native vegetation and planting ones that suit humans’ desires and not necessarily the needs of the native residents of the region, fencing the area, constantly poisoning nonhumans in it, changing the composition of the soil, dividing the nearby lands with roads to the farms, plundering water from other habitats, making noises with heavy machinery, crushing nonhumans with heavy machinery, polluting the area with humans’ waste of many kinds and etc. are all unquestionably forms of an unjust discrimination.

Therefore even what Garner considers as an ideal theory of justice is super anthropocentric. And such an anthropocentric approach can be considered ideal, so ideal that according to Garner it is utopic, only because the world is so speciesist.

The idea that since humans are not gods on the face of the earth but just another species, they must live as such, and anything beyond that can’t be justified morally and actually is a violation of distributive justice, doesn’t even get any mentioning, not even among the utopian unrealistic ideal theories. And that is while in fact, such a theory should be considered as a nonideal one, which some activists may argue that we need to compromise on, because an ideal theory is one which suggests no suffering at all. So the disputation is supposed to be between the ideal theory which is of a world where no human ever causes any suffering to anyone, and a nonideal theory which is of a world where humans keep causing suffering to some animals but only as part of them being just another animal in an inherently violent world of limited resources, not because they are still controlling each and every inch of it.
Practically, both theories are not even mentioned. Not only in Garner’s book, or in others’ books, but almost never, by anyone.

The issue is supposed to be about the victims, not about some of the opinions of some of the victimizers. If we can’t provide a theory that suggests a state of affairs that suffice the victims then the theory is not morally justified. And indeed we can’t. That’s one of the main reasons we exist as a movement. There is no and there could be no ideal theory of justice since the inequity is inherent, and not only to the political and social sphere of the matter, but to the very essence of life. It is impossible to exist not at the expense of other sentient beings, and so it is impossible for a truly ideal theory of justice to ever come up, not to mention to ever be implemented.

There is no valid ethical theory in this world. Morally, humans mustn’t violate the rights of others, but practically they can’t avoid it. For humans to exist, others must suffer. But humans are not morally entitled to compromise on others’ lives. They just do.
A world in which humans are inherently bound to do what they morally mustn’t, is a world that they shouldn’t exist in.