Was Voldemort a Vegan?

Wild Black Raspberries, With Thorns

The berries can't be picked without meeting the thorns.
The berries can't be picked without meeting the thorns. | Source

Do They Fear Death?

Courtesy of the animal rights organization PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) we have the following grim video. It shows scenes from factory farms. If you choose to watch it, you will see, repeated again and again, scenes of death, dead and dying animals, and farm workers killing sick animals. Click the link to see the actual video, I won't place it here.

Did you click through and watch any of the video? Did it shock and sadden you? Does the fact that animals have to suffer and die so that you can enjoy a nice beef patty or a chicken nugget make you less likely to eat meat?

I have to say that, for myself, while I don't like to see any living being suffer and die, it will not affect my enjoyment of my next pork chop or steak. PETA, and other animal rights activists like to claim that due to the crowded conditions, cruelty, sickness and death among the animals on factory farms, it is immoral for humans to treat animals in this way, and immoral for us to eat them or interact with them in any way.

Why would wild chickens be more healthy then factory farm chickens? Well, mainly because they don't have someone looking after them 24 hours a day, so the weaker ones all get caught and eaten by cats and foxes. Wild animals are super-healthy only to the extent that the weak ones die young.

A wild mother hen might lay a hundred eggs in her life, but cruel nature dictates that only one will survive to lay eggs of its own. Free-range chickens cost more, because so many die before they reach market.

PETA Opposed To Human-Caused Pain

Domestic animals are bred and raised in conditions that allow all but the weakest to survive. Perhaps this loss of Darwinian selection is what causes the PETA folks such anguish? I wonder, do they also advocate social Darwinism for humans? Should we allow weak, diseased and elderly people to die in the streets, eaten by wild dogs? Somehow, I doubt that this is what they mean (although looking at the recent scandals in health services in socialized countries like Holland and Britain, one has to wonder).

They are unhappy because we keep animals indoors, in climate controlled buildings, with plentiful food and water. Naturally, even in these easy conditions, many will sicken and die. An animal will become ill, and the farmer will have to kill it, both to protect the health of the other animals, and to shorten its suffering.

Barren Wheat Field

A wheat field, a few days after harvest.
A wheat field, a few days after harvest. | Source

The Pain Of Vegan Farming

Animal rights activists are intensely opposed to animal suffering caused by human actions. It isn't just the conditions on factory farms that disturb them. They also decry the trucks that take animals to the slaughterhouse, the methods used to kill the animals, and the mere fact of eating meat or using animals in any way, if any step along the way involves pain or death to an animal.

But I really don't think they are being honest with themselves. Consider a small, organic farm, producing vegetable food for a vegan family. The farmer prepares the field in the spring to receive the seed. Oops, can't plow the ground, the plow kills all the field mice, gophers and baby bunnies and birds living in the field. There are lots of these.

Beyond that, it removes that field from nature, so all of the animals that might have lived there, deer, foxes, groundhogs or whatever, cannot find food to eat or shelter from the weather or predators. The land removed from nature to feed a family of humans, results in the death by starvation of an equal weight of animals.

Three humans equal three deer, and a huge number of small animals. In my gardens, I enjoy watching the rabbits chew my greens and the robins devour my berries. Woodchucks devastate my pumpkins and sweet potatoes and tomatoes. If I had to survive off my garden labor, I would be forced to kill all of these animals.

Since my gardening is for my own enjoyment, and I also enjoy watching baby bunnies eating my greens, I leave them be, even though that means I have to buy more food at the supermarket.

Soybean Field, Raw Materials for Tofurkey

Source

No Land For Animals

There is no place in a farmed field for animals to live. Vegan fields are just as barren of animal life as meat eater's fields. The little animals that once lived here were buried alive by the plow.

Warning! Scrolling to the second picture below this point will bring up a graphic image of a dead animal.

Corn, To The Horizon

Source

Road Kill, Vegan-Style

Then, there are the additional deaths caused by transportation of the food. Vegans live in cities. Trucks speed along the roads, farm to supermarket, mowing down every animal in their way, mice, deer, even bears and moose once in a while. It is impossible to produce Vegan food for even a single person without killing and maiming perhaps hundreds of animals every year, and driving hundreds more off their habitat to starve. Everyone who agrees to ride in a car is equally guilty.

***Road Kill Picture Below:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:GNU_Free_Documentation_License_1.2
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:GNU_Free_Documentation_License_1.2 | Source

Voldemort

I, as a meat eater, am responsible for very few more deaths than these.

Remember in the Harry Potter story, Voldemort (fly from death) pursued his evil schemes in order to achieve eternal life. He was intensely afraid of death. It seems that PETA folks and their fellow travelers are also deeply conflicted by fear of pain or death.

Evidence? Read their website.

On their diet page, they give some rather iffy statistics, claiming for example that no one has ever died from a heart attack if their cholesterol level was under 150. Sadly, this isn't true, but even if it were, so what? Do Vegans die of nothing at all? Do they continue, living on and on, as the sun dims and the stars fade? No, Vegans also age and die, at about the same rate as others of their race and social class. I wonder why they make such a big deal over a possible few weeks or months of extended lifespan, as if that were such a great thing to grasp at.

What is it about pain and death caused by humans that so drives them? Nature is far more cruel. In the video linked at the top, there is a sad scene of newborn calves being separated from their mothers. Is this more cruel than a wolf, tearing a living calf apart after driving off a mother cow? Farmers at least provide plentiful food and water. Butchers at least strive to kill quickly and humanely, if not always succeeding.

Alec Baldwin, narrating the video, states that 40% of dairy cows go to market lame. Probably true. But does he pause to think why this might be? Or does he just want a factoid for propaganda. Farmers keep valuable dairy cows until it is impossible to keep them longer. In many cases this is ten years or more. Very few wild animals are given ten years, the great majority die in fear during their first year, of sickness or predators. Farmers keep dairy cows until they are lamed by age, and then sell them, of course.

What does Peta imagine would happen to these animals, were they all to be released to forage on their own? They would all die, unskilled at running from predators, or even identifying them. That seems not to concern Peta. Every so often we hear on the news of animal rights activists heartlessly releasing hundreds of animals from captivity, unconcerned by their fates once free.

There is an inner conflict. They hate cruelty and pain, but are willing to inflict it to further their aims of reducing it. Perhaps the old saw about breaking eggs to make omelets applies?

Fawn At The Verge Of An Oat Field

Source

The Web Of Life

What PETA seems not to understand is that these animals are joined with humans in a great, interlocking web of life. In Ecology this relationship is called 'Mutualism', meaning both species benefit from the relationship. Humans gain food and other goods, friendship and a deeper, richer appreciation of the animal world. Domestic animals gain a reduction of fear and pain. The world is imperfect, pain and death occur. All life dies, soon or late. PETA seems to think that by eliminating human and animal relationships, death can be eliminated, pain diminished.

Am I suggesting we ignore cruelty to animals? Of course not. Simply that a clear view of the issue suggests that things are not quite so simple as PETA would like us to believe. The cruelty of the modern farm pales next to the cruelty that all animals born wild face every day. Outside of deliberate cruelty, things like organized dog and bull fighting, little that humans can imagine reaches the level of daily fear, the pain and suffering that ends the lives of all wild animals.

Should we continue making reforms to reduce cruelty? Don't be silly. Of course we should. But PETA doesn't want just reforms, they want, eventually, the complete separation of humans and the animal world. http://www.peta.org/ Scroll down and follow the links. What a sad, lonely idealism.

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Open Comments. Say What You Will Of Me, I Ban No One Except Spammers. 8 comments

whowas 4 years ago

That is an interesting hub.

In my experience veganism functions like a weird religion and to be a vegan you have surely to lack scientific understanding of ecological systems and really be fundamentally very disconnected from life and pretty much frightened of nature and death.

That said, I choose outdoor-raised, grass fed beef, for example not only because the beef tastes a lot better but I do think that our evolutionary path has equipped us with brains that can recognize and seek to minimize suffering - and in reality many intensive farming practices do not amount to the luxury hotel lifestyle for the animals that you perhaps slightly naïvely describe.

Modern conservation-based zoo animals do live in the very lap of luxury, but not intensively farmed chickens or pigs, for example.

Anyway, the meat just isn't as good. Clearly not an argument I could propose to a vegan, of course...

Interesting hub. In summation, my own response: vegans are wrong but there are better ways of producing meat than factory farming.


tmbridgeland profile image

tmbridgeland 4 years ago from Small Town, Illinois Author

Great reply, thanks. Actually, I am very familiar with intensive livestock farms. I never said they were wonderful places for animals to be, merely that they are easier on the animals than living in the wild.

Wild animals, prey species anyway, live in almost constant fear. Watch a wild rabbit or deer for a while and you can see that. In the picture of the fawn above, you can see the perked-up ears. That fawn stared at me the whole time I was there. Eventually it decided I didn't look right, and ran off.


whowas 4 years ago

Hi,

Yes, I absolutely agree with you that it is a wildly romantic and inaccurate notion of the 'animal sentimentalists' that all animals in the wild live some kind of idyllic existence - perhaps like the opening sequences of the 70's TV show 'Grizzly Adams' if you remember that - and all yearn 'to be free'. Utter nonsense. As an ornithologist I can tell you that passerines spend their entire short lives in constant struggle and states of high stress. A wild finch is lucky if it lives through its first year - if they are not eaten they just 'burn out.' The finches in my aviary, however, have a constant supply of the highest quality food, no risk of predation, advanced health care and a carefully controlled environment. They typically live up to 7 years. The easy life!

However, those animal liberationists, in their ignorance, run around 'setting animals free' from farms and zoos and research institutions and consequently lead them to quick and painful deaths, upset the local ecology and spread decimating diseases. Ignorance and sentimentality pure and simple. A terrible combination with terrible consequences.

However, I still think there are better ways to farm for ecological, welfare and food-quality motives than intensive processes - but we may have to agree to disagree on that one!


Bob Zermop profile image

Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

Hey, tm. Got here from your comment on my vegan hub, thanks for stopping by. This is an interesting hub, but first let me respond to a previous comment.

whowas - "In my experience veganism functions like a weird religion and to be a vegan you have surely to lack scientific understanding of ecological systems and really be fundamentally very disconnected from life and pretty much frightened of nature and death." Ouch. Though I'm no ornithologist, I do have a basic understanding of how ecology works. Well, at least I know I have a cat that eats birds that eats worms that eats some small stuff in dirt.

I don't have a problem with cats eating meat. I don't have a problem with humans eating meat. They need it or like it or whatever, it's all good. I decided I was happier eating without causing deaths, so I took my demand away from the market.

Like I said, I'm no animal expert so I just assumed the nature of most animals would be to prefer their natural habit to a cage, because I know I would never want to be in one. You know, "A hawk dying free to a hen fed for slaughter"and that sort of thing.

Please feel free to check out my hub on why I chose to be a vegan. (Here's the link: http://hubpages.com/food/why-I-decided-to-be-vegan... .) Eco-terrorists = terrorists in my book, but besides giving some nutters a rationalization, I don't see anything wrong with choosing to be a vegan. Tolerance and peace, man, you do your thing and I'll do mine. Happy to answer any questions about my veganism.

Thanks for letting me take up so much space, tmbridgeland, 'cause I still have more in the tank. :D

Good and well thought out hub. I do agree with PETA that factory farming is inhumane and believe it will be banned once more people know about it, but I have no idea where the organization is going in trying to ban animal-human relations. I fancy myself a decent pet owner and love my American Domestic cat (wish I had time and space for a dog), and think she enjoys my company as well, or at least the couch's :)

It seems like you know more about PETA than I do, but based on what you've put in your hub, my only common ground with them would be in our intent, to lessen the suffering of animals. Our means have very little common. None of the vegans or vegetarians I know are eco-terrorists, nor do I think a majority or even a large minority of vegans in general are.

That said, this was a good summary of why PETA's over extension passes the boundaries of compassion and common sense. Voted up and interesting.


whowas 4 years ago

@ Bob Zermop,

Hi and thanks for responding so calmly and reasonably to my no doubt provocative statement. I agree with you that there are better alternatives to intensive factory farming both for food quality and welfare reasons and said so in a previous comment - just to be really clear on that one!

I chose my words carefully when I prefixed my statement with 'in my experience...' Given that prefix, all that followed was an honest appraisal of what I have seen, read and heard. I make no comment on all vegans or the no doubt multiple variants of vegan thought and motivation of which I may have no experience.

When you say "I'm no animal expert so I just assumed the nature of most animals would be to prefer their natural habit to a cage, because I know I would never want to be in one," is one that might require some further thought and opens up considerations of philosophy that demand more space than is available here.

However, I would suggest that there is no universal principle at play here to which we can refer for authority, as you seem to think. In the case of a battery chicken I would concede the argument but only on grounds of specifics. In the case of a well-cared for zoo animal in a modern zoo participating in a conservation and research program (while for a complexity of other reasons I would prefer it could live in its natural habitat) I could reasonably argue, on the basis of sound scientific measures, that the animal is more content and experiences a higher level of well-being and longevity than its wild cousins. Also in a modern zoo, as on a free-range poultry farm, the animals may be enclosed but not 'caged.'

We do, after all, prefer our centrally heated houses, running, clean water at the tap, insulation, electricity supply, social welfare, health care and other benefits of modern life, to 'being free' to starve, die of cold, suffer disease and predation.

The 'freedom' idea is in fact a very romanticized and anthropocentric notion to which it seems erroneous to appeal in discussions of animal welfare. Equally, there seems to be a moral paradigm implied in which 'natural' is synonymous with 'good' and 'unnatural' with bad. I would question that underlying assumption very strongly.

So I will read your hub with interest and hope to find something new and challenging in it.


tmbridgeland profile image

tmbridgeland 4 years ago from Small Town, Illinois Author

You guys are great. Civil, adult conversation, despite quite different opinions. It's almost like this isn't the internet!


Bob Zermop profile image

Bob Zermop 4 years ago from California, USA

@tmbridgeland - Ha! And thanks for your hub, the platform of discussion.

And @whowas - First, thank you for your thoughtful comment on my vegan hub. I posted my response and may refer to it in this response.

I am in fact agreed that there is no universal principle for the enclosure of animals. Like I mentioned in a comment on my hub, I believe chickens, for example, are animals that can be perfectly happy in an enclosure with proper care. You mentioned modern zoos intended for conservation and research programs. Again, we are mostly agreed, though I would have to add that I feel certain animals, like elephants and gorillas, would be happier with greater freedom than is currently possible in many zoos, and perhaps aren't a good fit for any zoo in general.

I mentioned the " 'freedom' idea" thinking of those animals, and of course the ones still being kept in small cages and deplorable conditions. I don't know the minds of most animals (in fact, often I struggle just among humans :D ), but I do my best and follow my common sense in trying to improve the well being of our animals.

Please feel free to tell me if there's any point you made that I didn't address; I'm typing on an IPad and the screen is rather difficult to scroll up and down on.


tmbridgeland profile image

tmbridgeland 4 years ago from Small Town, Illinois Author

Bob, Animals appear to have an inborn drive for freedom. Even long-domesticated animals, and even those very happy where they are, like well-loved house dogs, will take off for the yonder given the chance. But they come home if they can figure out how.

I was raised on a pig farm, and some portions of the hog's lives were in confinement. The fences are there for a reason, to keep them in.

But, also given the choice, many will actually choose the confinement building over a large pasture. I know this from observing the adult sows. They were kept in crates during the birthing time and for a few weeks to a month afterwards. If the sows had once been in the building for their first litter, they usually went right back in when it was time for their next litter. They did not have to be forced, even though to a human that would be pretty bad conditions. They seemed to like it, or at least they liked 24 hour a day food and water and shelter.

When they were on pasture, they were fed twice a day plus whatever they could graze or dig up. Besides, the larger, boss sows would bully the younger, smaller ones and eat more of the food.

I think they found confinement relaxing. No bullying, no fighting for food.

Now, I doubt if chickens would naturally choose confinement as tight as the worst factory farms. But in traditional poultry houses, the chickens were let out to run wild during the day, and, once trained, they would usually return to the coop at night. Animals don't mind confinement all that much, or, at least domesticated animals don't. That is probably part of why they became domesticated in the first place, they were naturally suited for the lifestyle.

By the way, the main reason we confined the sows to narrow crates was to prevent them from rolling on their babies and killing them. Many times before we went to using crates, I had to run out to the barns to rescue a piglet I could hear screaming, because it was half-squashed under its mother, who didn't seem to care. Some sows would kill all but one or two of their own babies if they were not confined. We used a localized heat source to attract the babies to sleep a few feet away from the sow.

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