About Lee Hall

A commitment to a great cause is a solid foundation to build our inner lives upon, and also one virtually guaranteed to bring turbulence into the course of our lives. This is an experimental diary. If things go well, it'll help myself and others on a parallel course. See you at veganplace.wordpress.com

For Vegans, Earth Day Is Every Day

Last year for Earth Day I had the pleasure (and challenge) of introducing On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century to the Cleveland community. The Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance reserved space in the Cleveland Heights Public Library.

If you want to demolish the belief that people just want memes and platitudes (or don’t go to libraries), the Cleveland vegan community is your gang. Cleveland’s vegan movement is committed to thought, debate, intellectual and cultural work, and growth. I’m very lucky to know the Cleveland activists.

Today, for Earth Day, I revisit:

Earth Day slideshow (presented in Cleveland Heights, later published by Carolyn Bailey of ARZone). Selected slides from the presentation are included.

Feel free to start up some conversation here on any of the slides.

A hat tip today and every day to my fellow vegans. You’re determined to cultivate a way to human sustenance that stops ravaging the planet. For vegans, Earth Day is every day.

Love and liberation,

Lee.

Jeffrey Masson on Our Fear of Being Eaten

Vegan Place

A young crocodile who utters a distress call will bring immediate help from completely unrelated adult crocodiles, even if it means risking their lives…Obviously this altruism does not extend to us.  Saltwater crocodiles kill approximately one person every year in Australia.  The same is true, more or less, in North America, where between 2000 and 2010, the American alligator killed thirteen people.  In sub-Saharan Africa, however, it is believed that the Nile crocodile kills hundreds (possibly thousands) of people each year.

We are not prey for most supreme predators, but we are for crocodiles it would seem.  They happily consume us.

Read the full post and wish Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson a happy birthday here! (Birthday is the 28th; post timed to catch it in the New Zealand time zone.)


Banner photo from: 

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“But Vegans Kill More Animals!”

Justin Van Kleeck is a microsanctuary pioneer—a farm animal rescuer working on a small scaljustin-van-kleecke, often rescuing animals from small-scale farming operations too, and resisting the calls of industry to tout “humane” or “local” agribusiness as a step in the right direction.

While Justin urges consistency—no amount of homespun pictures or creative PR can ever make animal exploitation “humane”—some will then challenge the commitment to crops as food.

There’s a clever argument, and maybe you’ve heard it, that vegans cause the deaths of more animals by being vegan. Growing crops for human food, the argument goes, involves tractors and threshers that kill field mice, voles, and so forth.

Have you ever noticed how this argument misses all the feed crops used in animal farming? Note, for exSlide37ample, that 99% of your local chicken farmers drive to feed stores to keep their birds growing and producing. The feed store is reliant on the fossil-fuel industry. So the “local” and “sustainable” concept in animal farming, when we dig deeper, is questionable.

Your local animal farm would also be a consumer of the massive feed industry that uses heavy equipment on the land without regard for the countless small animals seeking food and shelter amidst the fields.

As discussed before on Vegan Place, facile excuses to avoid personal change abound. When people face the reality that becoming vegan is possible, there seems to be a shut-off valve, signifying: “Change myself? No! Let me seize an excuse that I haven’t really thought through and hope you haven’t thought through either. Vegans do more harm—so there! Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Justin, when confronted with the “vegans kill more animals than your local animal farmers” claim, says:

We vegans start from the premise that exploitation and killing of other beings for our own ends is unacceptable, and we seek solutions…beneficial for all involved. Husbandry starts from the premise that other animals are here for us to use and consume, and all we have to do is be nice. So vegans seek harmonious coexistence without holding a knife to anyone’s throat.

Veganic models of agriculture and permaculture are available. Along with being more sustainable they are also workable in a variety of settings. Veganic urban gardens and food networks EXIST, but animal husbandry does not make sense for all communities. Remember: “If it isn’t accessible by the poor, it is neither radical nor revolutionary.”

In our conversations, Justin has noted that we, our whole generation, are products of an industrial revolution now. Why hold vegans alone responsible for what mechanized farming does to the land and to animals seeking habitat? Vegans didn’t plan to produce food this way.

Feeding crops to animals kills more animals. Animal farms breed large numbers of animals into existence for human consumption.

And when field animals get caught up in the collateral damage in the production of food crops (eaten by vegans and non-vegans), it’s because we’re all dealing with constraints imposed on us by modern agribusiness.

But we can go vegan to stop direct exploitation and killing within our food system, and try to change that system completely. Let’s insist on fewer excuses, and real engagement.


I am grateful to Justin for expanding my knowledge on vegan and sanctuary ethics greatly, and also for being a patron of my animal-liberation work. Photo of Justin: source. Banner photo by Philipp Kuchler (own work), via Wikimedia Commons.

A Reason to Be Vegan

I am vegan for the planet. For our biosphere, really: for the sake of all of Earth’s living communities. Veganism is an environmentally conscientious stance, understood in conjunction with the deep empathy and respect that’s the essence of the vegan principle.

Yes, of course, I am vegan for the cows, pigs, sheep, and all the footed, finned, and feathered ones I spare from Death Row; but then, the deep empathy in veganism means respect for their ancestral communities in nature. It means defending their right to live on nature’s terms, not the terms of animal breeders. That means sparing animals from being systematically turned into our pets, too.

Can we agree that deep empathy (which enables care) and respect (which is the basis of a liberation philosophy) are the essence of veganism? If so, do we say so?

Or is the deepest-rooted reason for veganism neglected in our advocacy?

Especially now, posits Bill Drelles, a vegan in Cleveland, it’s important to ask questions about veganism’s essential ethic. Bill points to the electoral triumph of Donald Trump as interwoven with a distrust of intellectual and factual argumentation, and wonders if there are any lessons here for vegan advocates whose outreach has become increasingly based on health and climate-related arguments.

To argue that vegan living makes you healthier or environmentally friendlier, Bill observes, you’ll have to rely on facts, projections and analyses. If published, such work is typically met with opposition through conflicting articles, books, and other media—coming from parties with the resources to overwhelm truths even by creating just an element of doubt (as climate change deniers do).

Photo by Jen Kaden.

Bill Drelles. Photo by Jen Kaden.

The ethic at veganism’s essence, though, doesn’t rely on facts, assumptions, and analysis. It comes from the heart—timeless, and articulated clearly and succinctly by Donald Watson and supporters.

Are today’s vegans familiar with the origins of veganism, and what its creation was based on?

Time is never wasted when spent delving into the vegan community’s originating principles. For regardless of the factual or logical relevance of the environmental, health, social-justice, and other motivations for being vegan, central to veganism is our forthright, conscientious objection to warring on other living communities—our respect for their lives lived, to the extent possible, on their terms.

Advocacy using compelling, science-based arguments does play an important role. That’s because if the vegan movement’s essential principle is its foundation, then such arguments are part of the superstructure.

But the main thing, Bill says, is this. Deep empathy and respect for the Earth’s living communities must be known as the foundation upon which our environmental and health-related arguments stand.


Eventually I’d like to be able to pay to have the advertising removed from this blog. Please bear with me and know that this blog is unrelated to any of the advertisers that WordPress lets post here. 

On Thanksgiving, What’s a Vegan to Do?

It’s the day after Election Day, and relationships are already under stress. Yet now, as much as ever, we need to come together, organizing for a mental shift in humanity. We’d have had to anyway, no matter whose team won and whose lost. Keep cultivating at the local level, and on the level of what’s most important to sustaining this Earth.

This is also a time of traditional family convocations, and I’ll bet not one will be untouched by the political chaos swirling around us. It’s a good time to find safe moorings, refresh our souls, and prepare for the work ahead.

If you are vegan, may you feel the support of vegan friends. If you are not yet with us, consider your personal potential to come together and crowdsource a refusal to war any more on the bio-community, or to war against or wall off “other” human beings and nations.

I’m not much of a YouTuber, but with a little urging from friends, I decided to have a go at making a vegan-to-vegan message. It’s dedicated especially to you who are just becoming vegan during an unprecedented meeting of environmental and social turbulence. I hope you find meaning in this video, and feel free to share it.

Finding Your Vegan Tribe: Some Practical Tips

Lydia and Mauro of From A to Vegan have some good suggestions for this post. They suggest we host vegan dinners, inviting vegan and vegan-supportive friends and family members to the gatherings.

And look to the Internet to find festive vegan get-togethers in your area on Meetup.com. In some areas, you might find none, but that just means you’ll need to start one and invite those hidden vegans out of the closet and into your circle.

Get together and share some new recipes (and feel empowered to share yours right here, in the comment field).

Here is a recipe for Cashew Nut Roast that Robin Lane gave me when I became vegan. It appears in the cookbook Dining With Friends (used copies available for a penny on Amazon at the moment).

Holiday Cashew Nut Roast

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

1/2 pound cashew pieces
4 ounces of brown rice
6 ounces of rye toast crumbs—including caraway seeds, or a dash of celery seed.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large, ripe tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons brewer’s yeast
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Dash of lemon (preferably freshly squeezed)
Dash of ground pepper

Preparation:

Cook rice until tender; grind cashews. (This can easily be done by hand by carefully running a rolling pin or jar over bagged nuts.)

Chop onion and garlic finely and heat in oil until they are slightly brown; chop and add one of the tomatoes; simmer until soft and add the broth.

Combine all of the above ingredients and press into two 9-by-5-by-2 1/2 -inch loaf pans or glass round pie baking dishes. Slice second tomato and use to decorate top, then bake for 30 minutes or a bit longer at 350 degrees F / 175 C.

You can share the Cashew Nut Roast as a main dish, or as a side dish as an alternative to bready stuffing.

Here is my serving suggestion. I’ll be making this one for the tribe.


Banner photo source: CheepShot, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Vegan Ethic for the Untamed

It’s deer-killing season. What’s an activist to do? Sometimes the call to use birth control seems the only available delay tactic when people are loading the guns.

But it’s coexistence with predators that we need to insert into advocacy. We might believe the public isn’t ready for coyotes. The public isn’t fond of running into deer on roads either. Natural predation would reduce that risk. Coyotes aren’t trying to create additional risks. Mainly they’re avoiding run-ins with us, moving at night where they live near us.

And greater danger lies ahead if we do not let predators live and thrive.

Click here for full piece published today on Free from Harm.


Free from Harm is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization promoting farmed animal rescue, education and advocacy and registered in the state of Illinois. The banner photo on this preview was taken by Jeff Houdret and is used here with permission of the photographer.

Hands Off the Camels

I’ve been so busy looking at cashew cheddar, hemp Parmesan and avocado ice cream that I didn’t notice the camel milk in a local co-op until a friend nudged me. Yes, camel milk has arrived. A website called Wellness Mama touts the stuff as a one-stop fix for everything from allergies to autism.

The Camel Milk Association must be under some social and legal pressure, though. They’ve posted a fact sheet about their members’ right of association on their website.

One camel milk vendor, Meadow Ridge Farm, calls itself a private membership club, citing the Weston A. Price Foundation as prescribing the raw-milk tradition to which they adhere.

But raw, unpasteurized milk, sought by many camel milk devotees, is generally prohibited in the United States and Europe. And camel milk has only recently been accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a commercial product.

Desert Farms, an online sales hub, attempts to make camel milk look eco-friendly, with a particular reference to the Amish suppliers.

But camel farming is just another example of the traffic in introduced species. Plus, it comes with methane emissions. Although these emissions might be lighter than those of cows and other ruminants, they are significant. Note that commercially exploited camels and their descendants have been blamed for a significant portion of Australian methane.

The Desert Farms website also claims that the suppliers spend a lot of time with their camels, that the smallest supplier owns just two camels, and that these suppliers’ camels are just the happiest in all the world.

The pink camel in the room here is a baby camel. Where does a baby camel go after being conceived and born to induce lactation? A free-roaming baby camel is suckled for more than a year.

The Desert Farms Frequently Asked Questions page doesn’t say a word about the offspring. It does include the bizarre question Is Camel Milk Vegan? Answer: “No, Desert Farms camel milk is an animal product. Animal lovers can rejoice that our camels are treated well and cherished by each family farm!”

The vendors are clearly well versed in pretending that the camels whose milk they usurp endorse this business model. Hogwash.

In any case, what makes up happiness in the world of camels is none of our business. These beings are so wonderfully adapted to the desert habitats in which they evolved that they have extra eyelids for removing grains of sand. Camels have their own history without us, spanning more than 40 million years.

Jeffrey Mousssaieff Masson writes in Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras:

An Arab proverb says that a foal knows the well where her mother came to drink before she gave birth to her. It is not clear how they can find their own home range again over vast stretches of trackless desert, but they do.

Does your local health food shop or co-op carry camel milk? If so (or if not), conversation could make a difference and spare new camels from being brought into a life of confinement.

A search on the Desert Farms store locator page brought up three retail sellers within 25 miles of me:

One encouraging factor is the limited number of camel milk outlets on the map. This fledgling trend should be vulnerable to sound critique.

Some readers might point out that making a special case of camels leaves the trade in cows, goats and others unchallenged. I’m not suggesting that we advocate solely for camels; nothing prevents us from admonishing animal agribusiness generally, including when discussing camel milk. Camels as a community can be defended, and the broader questions about why we take any other animals’ milk can come to the fore.


I thank Linda Stein for inspiring this post.