how you treat animals

             Mahatma Gandhi said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."  He has a point.

            More of us need to know how the majority of animals raised for human consumption is treated - it's dreadful, and maybe this term isn't even strong enough (read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals if you really want to know more).  It also says something about us that pharmaceuticals are tested on animals kept in captivity and subjected to potentially harmful side effects.  And that kill shelters exist is a horror.  Betta fish are routinely kept in solitary confinement in minuscule bubble tanks.  Thank goodness big game hunting is on its way out, the ivory trade also (they kill the whole huge elephant just for the tusks and don't even bother eating the meat), almost, and shark fin soup popularity is down (see an earlier post on that).  But people still wear fur coats and the Chinese still illegally trade animal parts they believe have healing properties.  Nevertheless, zoos treat animals much better nowadays than say a hundred years ago, providing them with habitats that resemble the places they came from, diets as close to their natural diets as possible, and distraction and exercise in enclosures that are much smaller than their natural territory.

            I believe that we are unable to harm an animal once we look it deeply in the eyes - because then we connect with its soul.  When animals are kept in pens under anonymous conditions we don't connect with each one individually.    That's why people have no qualms about eating supermarket meat.  If we all had to look our steak in the eyes, work in a kill shelter, spend a week in a slaughterhouse or a pharmaceutical animal testing lab things would change very very quickly.

 

 

eat less meat!

steakHow preposterous of me to tell you so?  Not.  Surprisingly, this is a huge environmental issue that goes way beyond the potentially ethical question of killing (they call it harvesting now, to make it sound more harmless) a living being and eating it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a vegetarian.  However, in the Western industrialized world meat consumption has skyrocketed from eating meat once a week or so to just under 200lbs/person/year in the US since the advent of cheap meat!  This enormous meat consumption in combination with the rise in world population and the increasing numbers of people able to afford the cheap meat has become a recipe for disaster.

The environmental calamity arises from "cheap" and "too much."  Why?  Because the CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) that these poor animals are raised in are among the biggest greenhouse gas emitters on this planet - generating about 18% (!!!) of greenhouse gases.  In addition, the huge amounts of animal waste leach antibiotics into our ground water.  And to top it off, the conditions under which these sorry souls are being raised, then killed and processed are so horrendous that it is literally unbelievable (read Jonathan Safran Foer because you must know).

There is nothing necessarily wrong with eating meat per se.  As a matter of fact, especially during childhood and adolescence animal protein helps to grow the brain.   But like with anything balance is the key and industrialized nations have become meat addicted.   Food researcher and author Marion Nestlé has advocated eating meat in condiment quantities.

How can we help?  First and foremost by resisting to buy cheap supermarket meat, which comes from CAFOs.  Instead, buy your meat at or from a local farm where the animals have been raised sustainably.  Yes, it will cost more.  But we ought to consume much less of it!

well balancedIt's in the quality, not the quantity.

You may also want to revisit a series of three posts on meat eating.

 

spiritual cats

Would you believe that I communicated with our three cats (two alive, one dead) telepathically through an intermediary?  Some people, and a few family members are among them, will say that this is a bunch of hogwash.  But I live my life on the spiritual side (with a good dose of critical-analytical thinking!) and I am always looking for deeper ways to understand and connect with the world.  So I am open to something like this and don't dismiss it simply because it goes beyond the present scientific-material paradigm. Among other questions we had been curious about the premature (in our view) death of our beloved first cat Snowball and the jumpiness of our third cat Peter Pepper.  I had recently read that it is possibly to communicate with animals telepathically (see my earlier blog post on this).  So when a friend told me about someone right in town (though distance is irrelevant) who has this ability (take a look at her website) I jumped at the opportunity.

Snowball

I was amazed how much these animals understand (be careful how you treat them and what you say in front of them!) and at the depth of their spirituality.    Snowball responded to our question about his early death at age five that a life ought not to be judged by how short or long it was but by what was accomplished, and that it was an immense privilege for him to have opened the whole family's awareness to the animal kingdom, and that his five years with us were very meaningful for him.

Peter Pepper

Peter Pepper, another little sage, communicated that he was aware of his eye condition, which I had asked about, that he resonates with the sound of Tibetan prayer bowls (boy where did that come from?) and that that would help him heal his condition.  This was quite coincidental as I had become aware of a Tibetan prayer bowl iPhone meditation app just a week or so earlier. Hmmm...

Make of it what you wish, but the answers of our three cats had enormous meaning for us.

piranhas and the eco-mind

It is interesting and eye-opening how "the truth" can be so deeply in the eyes of the beholder.  We see what we believe, and we don't see what we don't believe.  We have been thinking along the (somewhat) misinterpreted Darwinian lines of nature's potential ferociousness and cruelty in the name of the survival of the fittest.  But scientists are beginning to dismantle this paradigm. Sunday's NY Times article took wildly exaggerated reports about the supposedly blood thirsty piranhas apart and reduced them to nothing much.  Growing up I remember hearing stories about entire cows supposedly being stripped to the bones in minutes by a huge swarm of these fish.  But I also acknowledge reading later about indigenous people wading and swimming fearlessly in piranha inhabited waters.

photo credit www.dooyoo.co.uk

A short video on Suzanne Simard's work on the wood-wide-web and the mycorhizzal (mushroom) network recently made the rounds on Facebook.  Dr. Simard is involved in research about mother trees (huge old trees in the woods) and their social network, where plant seedlings grow up around the mother tree, and mushroom networks reach far underground, living in symbiotically nourishing relationships with the trees for their mutual benefit.

photo credit www.tompeters.com

Nature is becoming friendlier by the minute as our outlook on the environment is shifting and we are becoming more eco-minded.