World Vegan Day 2017: Thoughts From Valley Forge

I’ll be walking through Valley Forge Park tonight, just before they finish closing all the gates.

Every year, on or about the First of November, they start shooting off the deer. They will start tonight.

Continue reading here.

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A Vegan View of Deer, Coyotes, and Bobcats

Deer-stalking season is back. Time to remember defending the free is the core of the vegan ethic.

A vegan humanity wouldn’t breed chickens, emus, cows, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, llamas, or, for that matter, Chihuahuas. Nor would it pack ammunition and go chasing after hapless herbivores.

A vegan humanity wouldn’t compete against wolves, coyotes, and bobcats to keep the above-listed animals available for our use and amusement.

And if our hero, a pleasanter humanity, stops warring on wolves, coyotes, and untamed cats, then the claim that moose, elk, and deer have no natural predators would be history.

Now, some people stalk animals regardless of their numbers, because they think it’s fun, so they must have been led to regard an object that can kill as a toy—but people with this ugly view would not be brought up by our hero.

Canids Come Back

Long ago there were wolves here on the eastern side of the North American continent. Our anti-hero killed them off.

But you can’t keep a good bio-community down.

The Great Lakes wolves have mingled with eastern coyotes, producing coyote-wolf hybrids. Deer make up about a third of their food. These coyotes are apex AF.

So, why are there still so many deer?

 

Coyote on deck: Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons

The states’ hunting and trapping rules are dead-set against coyotes. About half of the coyote population winds up dead each year in Pennsylvania.

Bobcats are targets too—so there’s a community of capable carnivores under fire.

Federal managers ought to be heeding the growing body of scientific knowledge of the harm done when lands lose big predators. They ought to work with state agencies to reverse the current obsession with snaring, poisoning, hunting, and trapping them. We need to make this point heard.

Philadelphia’s Bloody Green Space

Know what shooting does? It creates a huge population of deer to keep shooting.

At the Wissahickon Valley Park, the northwest section of the city’s Fairmount Park, indigenous deer are baited and shot each winter.

Here’s the story, as recorded by Bridget Irons, archivist for Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer.

  • 1994: Friends of the Wissahickon called Natural Resource Consultants, Inc. for a deer population survey after people around the park observed—Oh, my!—deer.
  • 1996: An aerial survey counted 159 deer.
  • 1998: The Fairmount Park Commission, deciding on a limit of 30 deer, approved a one-time cull of the Fairmount Park deer.
  • 1999 – 2017: The official tally is 3,469 deer killed in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.

It starts because the human “cultural carrying capacity” is so low (the number 30 as the limit on deer in the largest urban green space in the world). And then it becomes a vicious cycle of killing, deer repopulating at a frantic pace, and ever more killing.

Watch the same dynamic at the nearby Valley Forge National Historical Park, and throughout the townships surrounding Philadelphia. Residents complain. They don’t like their gardens nibbled. And eventually there’s a killing contract with the U.S. Agriculture Department—usually starting with a time limit, but carrying on indefinitely, with lot of money and personnel hours diverted to the projects. (For the Fairmount Park shootings, Philadelphia’s police aviation unit has been pulled in.)

How much should public pressure influence managers to impair what nature produces?

And how do we have a dialogue with the communities that manage to exert such violent pressure?

A Deer’s Reproductive System Is None of Our Business

Many advocacy groups prefer to promote deer birth control instead of shooting. They claim obstructing deer reproduction is a humane way of reducing their numbers.

It’s not. Scientists have published harrowing post mortems of deer subjected to chemical birth control.

And in the bigger picture, the attitude that humans should manage nature puts coyotes out of a job. Predators need us to stop repressing them, and to empower them to regroup and return to their natural roles.

And in the even bigger (and vegan) picture: Why on Earth would we want a pharmaceutical plan to control the destinies of untamed animals?

We might believe the public isn’t ready for coyotes.But then it’s our work to create understanding. Coyotes aren’t trying to create additional risks for us. Mainly they’re avoiding run-ins with us, moving at night where they live near us. Humans need to take a page from their book and be better minders of our own business.

 

Our War on Deer Is a Product of Domestication

Brace yourself. With autumn comes the early “official” deer kills. They will go on through the winter.

The deer of Valley Forge National Historical Park (photographed in the banner image by Jeff Houdret) are among the communities annually targeted by the United States government.

The vast majority of deer in the Park get shot down again every year. This means very few, if any, deer who stay in the Park will live past age two.

The assault on the deer themselves and on their community’s evolution is grotesque.

Deer Kills Aren’t a “Single Issue”; They’re a Vegan Issue

Deer killing starts because we have created cows, goats, domesticated sheep, domesticated fowl etc. for people to eat and wear, and pets as well. All these animals, human property, must be protected from carnivores and omnivores who run free. (How dare they!)

So we wipe out the wolves and then we establish policies to kill those who rise up to take their place.

Coyotes, in most of the northern Americas.

Then we have “too many deer”? No, we have too few carnivores.

I’m working on a presentation on this connection, tentatively scheduled for Sunday 29 October, at SuTao Cafe in Malvern, PA, to kick off to World Vegan Month in Chester County.

The presentation will be informed by the work of two groups who have directly confronted government assaults on deer: Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer (PAD), and Compassion for Animals – Respect for the Environment (Chester County CARE).

Forced Sterilization of Deer Is Another Insult

Most other deer protection projects have rallied around pharmaceutical control as the “solution to the deer problem” but that answer oppresses and erases deer, just as mass killing does.

And the deer contraception crusade allows the public to retain the idea that animals such as wolves and coyotes have no business living.

Animal liberationists and environmentalists alike should be cultivating human respect for carnivores including coyotes. These beings have roles to play in a balanced bio-community. Our society must stop pretending that managing and micromanaging the balance of nature is humanity’s work.

— Lee.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get ANIMAL PRODUCTS Out of the Kitchen

That’s the topic of a presentation I’ll offer on 9 September 2017.

Hurricane Harvey’s unfolding tragedy is connected to climate change—which is, in turn, connected to animal agribusiness in a very big way. Equipped with the facts, let’s encourage people to stop eating like there’s no tomorrow or they could be right.

Is veganism really about climate, though?

Yes, squarely. Without a well-functioning atmosphere, advocating for habitat preservation and animal liberation is spitting into the wind. Climate crisis is an urgent subject for everyone to discuss, but this “inconvenient truth” has never been adequately addressed by policy devoid of a vegan perspective.

This presentation will take place at the 3rd annual Vegstock Festival, which is now seeking . . .

Activists · Artists · Authors · Doctors · Dietitians · Musicians Cooks · Chefs · Farmers · Foodies · Gardeners · Growers · Healers · Thinkers · Speakers · Students & Teachers for the Vegstock Vegan Festival. And folks to spread the word.



Presented by Wildflower Vegan Cafe, the vegan restaurant in Millville, NJ and the Millville Development Corporation. Time and place: 10am-4pm Saturday, September 9 2017. 501 North High Street, Glasstown Arts District, Millville NJ 08332.

“If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Animal Products Out of the Kitchen” is made possible by dedicated patrons of the Art of Animal Liberation.

Saturday 12 August: The Chester County Vegan Festival

Our local vegan crew in Chester County, Pennsylvania, known as CARE, founded an annual vegan barbecue back in 1991. On Saturday 12 August, the legend continues! Here is this year’s poster.

One of the big highlights is the food we offer, including the famous Chester County mushrooms, local corn and other late summer delights from Pete’s Produce, and samplings from local businesses including SuTao vegan cafe, where CARE volunteers regularly meet.

Summer CARE fest - food

The real cage-free deal: The food at CARE’s Vegan Festival is local, beautiful, and delicious.

If any of readers are around the area, join us on Saturday 12 August at Hoopes Park in West Chester from noon until 4 pm. Let me know if you’d like to have an exhibit for your group, vegan business, or animal-advocacy project.

The Chester County Vegan Festival.

The Chester County Vegan Festival.

Because this is a local event, there will be plenty of time and space to just hang out with the presenters and exhibitors. Confirmed speakers at this year’s annual Chester County Vegan Festival are author Vance Lehmkuhl, Lydia Grossov of From A to Vegan, the American Vegan Society‘s Freya Dinshah, Eric Nyman, founder of Wildflower Vegan Cafe, and Liqin Cao of United Poultry Concerns.

Click here for Liqin Cao’s view of the trouble with the backyard chicken trend.

Much respect to these activists, who have been in the movement for decades and provide us with excellent models or vegan integrity, consistency and kindness. I look forward to enjoying the Chester County Vegan Festival with them—and you, if you can make it.

Since 2014, This Event Is Called the “Chester County Vegan Festival”

For years this annual event was called the CARE VeggieFest. CARE’s mission involves more than a diet, though, and that’s where the name change to vegan comes in.

The word vegan reflects a dedication to live as a conscientious objector to animal use. It takes into account the importance of fair food distribution, our personal physical and mental health, and the health of communities, including the entire bio-community.

The first people calling themselves vegan did so in 1944. The word itself was thought up by Dorothy (Morgan) Watson, then adopted by a group of about two dozen like-minded people who noted it contained the first and last letters of the word vegetarian. The founders of The Vegan Society essentially declared their commitment to the Alpha and the Omega of the vegetarian movement, which was historically ethics-based, and, when taken to its logical conclusion, frees all animals, the finned and feathered, the egg-laying, lactating, and honey-making animals…

Vegan. The word’s call to principles represents the best we can offer people who like to eat their vegetables, and take their vegetarianism seriously.

We do have a policy for the event that speakers and exhibited items are expected not to suggest that any given method or equipment used in animal husbandry is better than any other.

Love and liberation,

Lee.

VegFest in Buffalo, NY: A Slideshow About Caricatures and Memes

Animal advocacy produces many images in which selectively bred animals appear as cute, contented, and wanting to delight you or be friends with you. And generally we don’t regard it as needing further thought. It’s the imagery of endearment. Post adorable piglets, and maybe it’ll make people who keeping doing those bacon posts on Facebook see bacon in another way?

Popular advocacy images: What do they display or conceal about humanity’s relationship with all others?

On Sunday 6 August at the Western New York VegFest in Buffalo, I’ll present Cuteness, Memes, and Animal-Liberation Imagery: A Slideshow and Discussion.
We’ll look at how endearing imagery can work against animals and their defenders in a way the movement
has yet to explore.
This presentation asks: Does popular animal-advocacy imagery reinforce animals’ vulnerability? Is so, why should this matter to us?
Is there something we can learn here from the effects of race-based caricatures? What do we know about the power of imagery from the abolitionist struggle? To say all oppressions come from a common impulse, as I wrote in On Their Own Terms, isn’t to say that various groups are the same, or that the kind of inequality they’ve faced is the same. And facile analogies don’t help. Claire Heuchan has observed how “Black experience is regularly placed on a par with animals as a provocation.”
This is why it’s so important that the slideshow’s concept does not set out to compare caricatures reflecting white supremacy with caricatures that justify domestication. Distinct struggles against systems of domination should be known on their terms, even as they teach about the common source — the human urge to dominate and control — and ask ourselves how we’re challenging or continuing it.

Thanks to my patrons who make it possible for me to give up days of shift work to contribute this effort to the WNY VegFest. If you’d like to help this outreach continue, consider supporting it with a regular contribution (which can be as modest as $1 per month) on Patreon.

Vegetarian Summerfest 2017: Workshops I’m Offering

Summer season’s greetings to all! I’m counting down the days to the North American Vegetarian Society’s annual Summerfest, happening Wednesday-Sunday 5-9 July at the University of Pittsburgh – Johnstown campus. This is the closest thing to a “vacation” I do all year. And it’s soul-refreshing to be around vegans who have become supportive and dear friends over the years. 
The full timetable with all of the session descriptions is now available. Below are my three sessions. Should thoughts come to your mind on these topics. . . Please do share what comes to you.
The first one I’m ethically compelled to present: the diet-climate link. The second will be something I’ve never presented before, on an issue most of us face daily. The third brings to Summerfest something we don’t consider nearly enough in the vegan community: Veganism Defined. The brief, beautiful piece from 1951 is prescient, urgently relevant. Its call to stop thwarting evolution couldn’t be more vital, in light of stuff like the Trump administration’s removal of Endangered Species Act protection from the Yellowstone grizzlies, allowing people to stalk and kill them.
Yours for Liberation,
Lee.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get (Animal Products) Out of the Kitchen 

THURSDAY 6 JULY, 10.00 AM

Campus Room

Why do experts disagree on the proportion of climate impact from animal farming? Are any governments or international bodies taking action on meat and dairy, given its climate impact? Do our personal dietary commitments having any significant impact? As an environmental law specialist, I’ll offer an up-to-date analysis, and talk about what our community can do.

I’m Vegan. My Job Is Not. How Do I Reconcile This? 

FRIDAY 7 JULY, 10.00 AM

Campus Room

In a perfect world we could all have vegan careers. In this world, so few of us do. How do we cope with the day-to-day reality? Are there any silver linings in this reality (or any drawbacks to working in vegan environments)? Can a vegan employment sector be stimulated? This will be a brief presentation followed by interactive discussion.

Vegan Dot Connecting – Why It’s So Much More Than a Diet 

SATURDAY 8 JULY, 2.00 PM

University Room

Defining “vegan” through the Vegetarian World Forum in Spring 1951, the Vegan Society in England declared that through the vegan commitment “A great and historic wrong, whose effect upon the course of evolution must have been stupendous, would be righted.” I’ll facilitate a discussion of the broad and deep view of what veganism stands for. 


An eco-friendly tip for those attending Summerfest: Amtrak’s “Pennsylvanian” route goes to Johnstown, PA, and there’s a free, student-driven van service to and from the University of Pittsburgh campus. Please travel by train when you can.