An Ocean of Plastic

Here I am at the age of seven modeling for a soft drink ad. I can’t help but have mixed feelings today about this image. On the one hand, my picture was being used to encourage people to buy sugary soft drinks, something I would never do today, but on the other hand, at least I’m not using a plastic straw. Today we understand that disposable plastic straws and other plastic waste have contributed to the pollution of the Earth’s oceans and the deaths of millions of sea animals.

A massive tangle of human-generated plastic waste called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, twice the size of the state of Texas, floats in the ocean between California and Hawaii. Similar patches cover other parts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, and the Caribbean Sea. These enormous islands of plastic trash cover an increasingly large portion of the earth’s ocean surface.

Every year, eight million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently pollute our marine environments. Discarded plastic bags, bottles, plates, straws, utensils, and other dumped in gutters, lakes, and rivers, and large amounts of mismanaged plastic waste streaming from rapidly growing economies, are finding their way into our oceans at the rate of one New York City garbage truck full of plastic every minute of every day for an entire year! And all that plastic is killing sea animals by the millions.

Maybe you’ve seen the photos of sea turtles grown deformed, stuck in the plastic rings from a six-pack of beer, or dead fish washing up on beaches, their digestive systems clogged with plastic microfibers. Perhaps you’ve seen dolphins tangled in discarded plastic commercial fishing lines, or pelicans, their crops full of plastic bottles and bags.

Fish, turtles, mammals, and seabirds suffer pain and illness from ingesting plastic. Plastic ingestion also reduces the storage volume of their stomachs, causing starvation. It’s estimated that 60% of all seabird species have eaten pieces of plastic, with that number predicted to increase to 99% by 2050. 100% of sea turtles have plastic in their digestive systems. Marine mammals also ingest and get tangled up in plastic, leading to the decline of already endangered species like monk seals and stellar sea lions. Dead whales have been found with bellies full of plastic.

The following facts shed more light on how plastic waste is killing wildlife all over the world:

  1. Of the eight million metric tons of plastic dumped every year into the Earth’s oceans, 236,000 tons are microfibers, tiny pieces of plastic smaller than your little fingernail.
  2. At our current rate, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than there are fish.
  3. The likelihood of coral becoming diseased increases from 4% to 89% after coming in contact with marine plastic. It also damages the skin of coral, allowing infection. Coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life.
  4. Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. They carry about 50% of global production of photosynthesis and support the greatest biodiversity on Earth. They are the “lungs of the planet.” Islands of plastic stretch deep beneath the ocean’s surface, blocking sunlight to where it’s needed by sea plants necessary to replenish the water with oxygen. All animals, even those living in the sea, need oxygen to survive.

Cities, counties, and states from coast to coast have begun to join the world’s nations in banning single-use plastic goods to curb the rate at which we are poisoning our oceans. Recently Stafford Township, New Jersey, and Santa Barbara, California, joined others in banning plastic bags, wrappers and drinking straws. Recycling hasn’t helped; most of these items are discarded by thoughtless consumers rather than recycled.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 33 million tons of plastic, most of which was not recycled, was thrown away last year by Americans. Worldwide the amount is staggering: 6.9 billion tons of plastic became trash last year, with 6.3 billion tons not recycled. The numbers are staggering and appalling.

It’s not hard to avoid or cut down on using disposable plastic. Instead of buying juice in a plastic bottle, buy it in a cardboard container. Instead of using plastic utensils when you eat at a fast food restaurant, bring your own washable, reusable utensils. How about using wooden chopsticks? Keep a few biodegradable straws in your car; paper, bamboo, and reusable straws are readily available in many places, including on Amazon. Become more aware of all the plastic you use and look into environmentally-friendly alternatives. Let’s take back our oceans from thoughtless individuals and profit-hungry corporations who don’t care about the destruction of life on our planet.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

 

 

The Iditarod: Annual Frozen Death Race

The annual Iditarod death race kicks off today in Wasilla, Alaska. Up to half the dogs who start the race won’t finish it. Dogs are forced to run tethered together and pulling heavy sleds and a human “musher” over hundreds of miles of frozen terrain through biting winds, and subzero temperatures. Teams often race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach −100 °F (−73 °C). Dogs suffer exhaustion, exposure, illness, and injury. If you love dogs – or honorable sports – the Iditarod is an ignominious disgrace.

During the 2020 race, more than 220 dogs did not make it to the finish line. One musher forced his dogs to continue the race even after all of them reportedly vomited, one was injured in a fight with another dog, and three got frostbite. He finally stopped racing at mile 852 when his dogs simply couldn’t run any farther. Another musher, already the subject of a recent investigation that found that dogs were chained up, denied veterinary care, and even killed during training, reportedly threw a dog down and pinned her muzzle to the ground while on the race’s livestream. He previously admitted to beating, depriving, and neglecting dogs. Still another, who chains his dogs to wooden boxes in the snow at his kennel (a common practice for mushers), left behind four dogs he pushed beyond the breaking point during the race.

Of the 150 dogs who have died in the Iditarod since it began in 1973, most died of aspiration pneumonia, caused by inhaling their own vomit. Many more have died during the off-season while chained up outside in subzero temperatures or were killed because they weren’t considered fast enough.

In response to growing awareness among consumers of the race’s record of cruelty and abuse, many major companies, including ExxonMobil, Chrysler, Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola, Jack Daniel’s, State Farm, and Wells Fargo, have dropped their sponsorships of the race.

If you’re planning a trip or cruise to Alaska, please don’t buy any packages or excursions that include dog-sled rides or visits to dog kennels. Ask your friends and family not to, either.

Learn more about the abuse of dogs in the Iditarod by watching the outstanding documentary film, Sled Dogs, which shines a spotlight on the dogs who are forced to run until their bodies break down or are killed if they don’t measure up. Sled Dogs is available now on Prime Video and Plex.

A Ban on Shipping Baby Chicks Through the Mail

The New York Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit shipping of baby chicks and other small animals within the state through the U.S. Postal Service. It’s about time! How about a national ban?
 
Baby chicks and other small animals shipped through the Postal Service as “perishable matter” frequently go without food and water for two or more days due to transit delays, long hauls and other situations. They are shipped, not like a dog or a cat whose transit is paid for by a caring owner, but cheaply, like ordinary parcels, without proper temperature, ventilation, handling and care for these fragile creatures.
 
The business of shipping live birds, primarily baby chickens and ducks, is huge and lucrative, but a terribly cruel and inhumane practice even when nothing goes “wrong.”
 
An example of what can go utterly wrong occurred on October 8, 2020, when 23,000 abandoned baby chicks died at the Madrid airport. Those still alive were suffering from hypothermia and trying to survive by eating the remains of their dead neighbors, said the police. The neglected chicks were left behind because the cardboard boxes they were shipped in got wet and broke, and they could no longer be transported. The company that runs the airport contacted the shipping company, which chose to do nothing about the dying chicks.
 
Recent news relating to the United States Postal Service has revealed the suffering and death of thousands of newborn chicks in delivery boxes in Maine, Ohio, and other states as a result of mail backups and other issues currently affecting the USPS.
 
Current law permits baby chicks to be shipped through the USPS as long as they are delivered within 72 hours, but 72 hours from when? When they’re delivered to the post office or when they’re loaded onto a truck? The law does not say.
 
Crammed together in cardboard boxes with no food or water and only tiny holes to get air, the baby chicks are tossed into trucks, loaded into airplane cargo holds, and piled up in postal distribution facilities and local post offices. Boxes may be exposed to bad weather and extreme temperatures, get damaged when dropped, or even crushed. Even under the “best” conditions, it is normal for many chicks to die of exposure, physical trauma, or asphyxiation before they reach their final destination.
 
Shipments of chickens, ducks and other small animals through the mail have been identified for decades with the suffering and death of these animals. Chicks are living, feeling creatures — not objects to be stuffed into boxes and dropped off at the post office. Shipping live animals through the Postal Service should be prohibited.
 
If you live in New York, please contact your state legislators, Assembly and Senate, to support NYS Assembly Bill A4611, which bans “the shipment of certain live animals by postal mail into, within, or to points outside of the state of New York.” Those in other states can contact their legislators to encourage them to introduce a similar bill where you live. Please urge the United States Postal Service*, too, to institute a nationwide ban on shipping live birds and other small animals as “perishable matter” to customers. Please do what you can to educate people about the cruelty and suffering inflicted on fragile birds and others in being shipped as ground mail and airmail. Thank you.
 
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.
 
*The Honorable Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza West, SW
Washington, DC 20260
 
 
 

The Painfully Slow Ban on Bullhooks

In 1999, I was arrested for bringing a bullhook to a circus protest. Bullhooks resemble a fireplace poker, with a long rod, sharp metal hook and spiked tip. When used on animals, they inflict terrible physical injuries, including lacerations, puncture wounds and abcesses. The cruelty also leads to long-term trauma, emotional distress and suffering for the animals. I brought the bullhook along with pictures of its use on circus animals as a visual aid to educate others. A circus employee, using a bullhook to torture an elephant just a few feet away, was ignored by the police.

I was convicted of violating an obscure L.A. law created during the civil rights era that gave the authorities the right to arrest peaceful protestors by making it illegal to carry wooden sticks (i.e. picket signs) at a demonstration. I lost again on appeal and was sentenced to 30 days in prison. I served my sentence in L.A. County’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility.

For the public attention my arrest and conviction drew to the bullhook, going to jail was well worth it. Growing public condemnation led to a ban on the use of bullhooks in Los Angeles, followed by Oakland, Austin, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Spokane. In 2016, Rhode Island became the first state to ban the instrument of torture and California became the second. In 2019 the Association of Zoos and Aquariums voted to “phase out” the bullhook’s use by the start of 2021. It also approved a statement of intent to completely end the use of bullhooks by 2023.

While I will be glad to see the end of bullhooks, why, I wonder, when something is finally conceded to be dangerous and wrong, does it require additional years of pain and suffering before a full ban takes effect? We’re not talking about time needed to retool factories to manufacture new products or creating infrastructure for new sources of energy. Just throw away the bullhooks now and end the abuse once and for all.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

Valentine’s Day Is About Love. So Is Being Vegan.

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love: love of a spouse or significant other, love of a parent or child, love of friends. There are all kinds of love.

There are few among us who haven’t loved an animal. Maybe it was a dog or a cat a rabbit or a bird, and no doubt you believed your animal companion loved you, too. But do animals really love?

Of course they do. It’s a scientific fact – go ahead, look it up. When it comes to the ability to feel emotion, non-human animals are no different than human animals. We all experience happiness, sadness, fear, loneliness, grief, anger, and the bonds of companionship otherwise known as love. It is arrogance to suggest that human love is different, or better, or more “real,” than the love animals feel. Whether you’re a human, a monkey, a whale, or a penguin, love is love.

I’ve had many animal companions and I loved them all. They demonstrated love for me in return. Never could I have eaten or hurt or exploited them in any way. How, then, could I eat, hurt, or exploit other animals who share the same feelings and emotions I do? That’s why I am vegan. I cannot be complicit in the suffering, torture and abuse of non-human animals. It’s a matter of compassion, and of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

 

 

 

 

Your House Is Clean, But Are Your Pets Safe?

In these troubled times, keeping your home clean and safe is more important than ever. But are you making your house safer or more dangerous for your animal companions?

Many cleaning products are safe for humans to use but will cause discomfort, injury, or even death to pets. Your animals may be curious about the smell or taste of these products, so be extra careful when using them. The following is a list of common household cleaners and the dangers they can pose to your animal companions.

Bleach:  Small exposures to regular strength household bleach, such as a pet walking through a puddle on the floor, may result in irritation to the skin and bleached/damaged fur. Thorough rinsing of the feet is important to remove any bleach trapped in the toe webs or between the foot pads. Bleach on the skin or fur often leads to ingestion because animals will self-groom and lick the bleach off. Ingestion can lead to vomiting and stomach irritation which, depending on the amount ingested, may need veterinary treatment. If bleach gets in the eye, this can be an emergency. Immediate flushing of the eye may be needed to slow damage to the cornea. Any animal whose eyes have been exposed to bleach should be examined by a veterinarian. He or she may apply a stain to the surface of the eye that binds to damaged cells and make them visible. If damage has occurred, treatment is likely needed. Concentrated or “ultra” bleaches can cause chemical burns, so extra caution needs to be taken when using those products. Never mix bleach with other chemicals. Mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia, for example, produces toxic chloramine gas which is corrosive to the lungs.

Isopropyl Alcohol:  Ingesting isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers) can poison animals, resulting in symptoms such as drunkenness, low blood sugar (especially in small and young pets), stomach upset, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, acid/base disturbances in the blood, and difficulty breathing. Isopropyl alcohol is twice as toxic as ethanol (the alcohol in beer and wine) to dogs.

Hydrogen Peroxide:  Often found in cleaning and disinfecting products, exposure to hydrogen peroxide can result in skin and eye irritation/damage, vomiting, damage to the stomach lining, and sometimes potentially deadly air bubbles in the blood. The common 3% household strength concentration is occasionally used to induce vomiting in dogs but is only safe at correct doses and only in specific cases. Do not give hydrogen peroxide to a dog without consulting your vet. Never use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats as it can be deadly. Concentrations greater than 3% can be corrosive to all tissues.

Quaternary ammonium compounds:  Found in some disinfecting wipes and sprays, quaternary ammonium compounds can cause corrosive injury to any tissue they contact. Cats are especially sensitive to these compounds, even at very low concentrations.

Phenols:  Found in everything from toilet bowl cleaners to all-purpose cleaning sprays, these products can be corrosive if they contact the skin and eyes or if they are swallowed.  They can also cause corrosive injury to the lungs if inhaled.

Keep your pets out of the room when cleaning, especially if using an open mop bucket. Discard paper towels that are wet with cleaner or sanitizing wipes in covered trash cans. When cleaning the bathroom, keep the doors closed and windows open. In case of spills, quickly remove pets to a safe part of the house or secure the area to avoid accidental exposure.

Remember that pets are more sensitive to household cleaning products than most humans are. In case of exposure, contact your vet immediately or call the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

February Is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month

February is Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Spaying and neutering are not only beneficial to your animal companions’ health and comfort, but are the single most important thing you can do to save cats and dogs from the suffering and death caused by overpopulation. Spaying and neutering are routine, affordable surgeries that can prevent thousands of animals from being born, only to suffer and struggle to survive on the streets, be abused by cruel or neglectful people, or be euthanized in animal shelters for lack of a loving home.

Spaying and neutering makes a big difference: Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 370,000 kittens!

Sterilized animals live longer, happier lives. Spaying eliminates the stress and discomfort that females endure during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, and greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering makes males far less likely to roam or fight, prevents testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Altered animals are less likely to contract deadly, contagious diseases, such as feline AIDS and feline leukemia, that are spread through bodily fluids.

Communities spend millions of taxpayer dollars each year coping with problems that a failure to spay and neuter causes. The one-time cost of spaying or neutering is far lower than the expense involved in rounding up strays, feeding and housing abandoned animals, and euthanizing those for whom homes can’t be found.

Cities and counties all over the country are aggressively addressing the animal overpopulation crisis, requiring everyone who chooses not to spay or neuter to pay a hefty breeder’s fee. Areas with mandatory spay-and-neuter laws have reported a significant reduction in the number of animals who are taken to their facilities and subsequently euthanized.

Many communities have low-cost or free spay-and-neuter clinics that make it easy for everyone to do the right thing and have their animals sterilized. Call 1-800-248-SPAY to find your nearest low-cost spay-and-neuter clinic.

Summary: Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Spay or Neuter Your Animal Companion:

  1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.
    Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.
    Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer.
  3. Your spayed female won’t go into heat.
    While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently-sometimes all over the house!
  4. Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.
    An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
  5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved.
    Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
  6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.
    Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds-not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
  7. It is highly cost-effective.
    The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
  8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.
    Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
  9. Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
    Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children-especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
  10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.
    Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

Animal Agriculture Is the Leading Cause of Animal Extinction

As the animal agriculture industry continues to take over the Earth’s landmass, habitats rich in animal life are being destroyed. One acre of land is now being cleared every second, and it’s getting worse. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, habitat destruction, and ocean dead zones.

Animal agribusiness already occupies about 40% of Earth’s landmass and accounts for 75% of global deforestation. The rapid destruction is causing species to disappear, negatively impacting the biodiversity of native ecosystems and furthering our path into the sixth mass extinction of all species on Earth.

There are about 1.7 million documented species of flora and fauna on our planet. Over 86% of 10 million known species of flora and fauna have not been described or documented. The United Nations reports an estimate of up to 100 plant and animal species lost every day.

Our planet is about 4.5 billion years old. Through its ancient lifespan, Earth has experienced five mass extinctions: Ordovician (444 million years ago), Devonian (375 million years ago), Permian (251 million years ago), Triassic (200 million years ago), and Cretaceous (66 million years ago).

Out of the billion years of our planet’s life, humans have only been here for around six million years. Of those six million years, the current human species (Homo sapiens) has been here only 200,000 years – with our current civilization a mere 6,000 years old. The industrialization of this civilization is only 200 years old, and in the last 500 years 1,000 species of animals have gone extinct. Presently, the rate of extinction is as high as 140,000 species each year.

Massive destruction is occurring in countries with mega diverse habitats that are home to some of the largest number of species. In the Amazon, three quarters of the rainforest have been cleared so far for both international and domestic animal agriculture companies. In the US, where 260 million acres of forests have been cleared, one in five animal and plant species are at risk of extinction.

Animal agribusiness has also devastated our marine environments. Billions of animals are taken from the ocean every year. The rapid rate of oceanic animal harvesting today do not allow species enough time to reproduce. The inability to recover their populations puts the planet at risk of fishless oceans by 2048.

The facts and statistics are clear. The animal agriculture industry is killing our environment and putting every species on this planet at risk of extinction. The animal agriculture industry’s pollution of our air, water and land, along with deforestation and soil degradation, all contribute to habitat loss and species extinction. Like a domino effect, a multitude of aspects is leading to the destruction of Earth’s biodiversity.

Animal agriculture has become the greatest threat to the world’s plants and animals. The clearing of forests and rainforests for livestock pasture and feed crops is extinguishing Earth’s biodiversity, which allows life to continue in balance regardless of natural changes to the environment.

It all begins with the choices humans make and put on our plates, and that is also where it can end. Livestock farming exists only to satisfy human consumption. By making healthier, plant-based food choices, there is still time to reverse the destruction of our planet and its animals.

The Time Is Always Right to Do What Is Right

On the holiday that honors the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are reminded that, in his words, “The time is always right to do what is right.” There is no time better than now to take action against racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other forms of injustice, including speciesism. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I believe that.

“There comes a time,” Dr. King also said, “when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” I believe that, too. Advocates for animal rights such as myself have been attacked, ridiculed, marginalized, arrested, and imprisoned for our beliefs, but we continue to stand up and speak out for what is right. Such things are a small price to pay for justice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Most people, when shown how their actions support cruelty and given options, will make compassionate choices. This is how the animal rights movement has all but obliterated cosmetics testing on animals, ignited an explosion of vegan options in supermarkets and restaurants, started a fur-free revolution, and forced circuses and marine parks to abandon cruel and exploitative animal acts.

As Dr. King once said, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” For all those oppressed, and that includes animals, it is our duty to break that silence. 

 

 

Make 2021 the Year You Go Vegan

2020, most of us will agree, was a terrible year. Who knows what awaits us in 2021? We hope for the best, but we can be proactive about some aspects of life, like our health. Let’s do what we can to improve our health while making the world a more compassionate place. Let’s make this the year you go vegan.

A vegan diet is best for your heart. The leading cause of death of both men and women in the United States is heart disease. Every day, nearly 2,600 Americans die of some type of heart disease, the most common form being coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when hard layers of plaque, usually cholesterol deposits, accumulate in major arteries and begin constricting flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Arterial plaque is also a leading cause of stroke, the fourth greatest killer of Americans each year.

While other factors can affect cholesterol levels and heart disease (including smoking, exercise, blood pressure, and body weight) one of the single most significant causes of heart disease is dietary cholesterol. Our bodies make all the cholesterol we need, so consuming animal products contributes excessive levels. Animal products are also loaded with saturated fats, which, unlike unsaturated fats, cause the liver to produce more cholesterol.

Fortunately, for most people, preventing coronary heart disease is as simple as eliminating animal products, eating a healthy plant-based diet, exercising, and avoiding cigarette smoking. But beyond prevention, a plant-based diet is the only treatment that has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease. There is no cholesterol in plant foods.

Vegan diets have also repeatedly shown to reduce levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, a low-fat vegetarian diet reduces LDL by 16 percent, but a high-nutrient vegan diet reduces LDL cholesterol by 33 percent. The high fiber content of plant-based foods also helps to slow the absorption of cholesterol. Animal products contain no fiber.

 

In addition to providing for a healthy heart, a whole foods, plant-based diet can prevent and in some cases even reverse many of the worst diseases. Leading U.S. health care provider Kaiser Permanente, published an article in its medical science journal recommending that physicians consider recommending a plant-based diet for all their patients. The article notes, “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods … Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

Oh, but the naysayers insist that humans are “meant to eat meat.” “Humans,” they will tell you, “have a carnivore’s or omnivore’s teeth.” No, we don’t. Check this chart and see where your teeth are in relation to the rest of the world’s mammals.

 

 

“Consider again the anatomy of the carnivore and the omnivore, including an enormous mouth opening, a jaw joint that operates as a hinge, dagger-like teeth, and sharp claws. Each of these traits enables the lion or bear to use her body to kill prey. Herbivorous animals, by contrast, have fleshy lips, a small mouth opening, a thick and muscular tongue, and a far less stable, mobile jaw joint that facilitates chewing, crushing, and grinding. Herbivores also generally lack sharp claws. These qualities are well-adapted to the eating of plants, which provide nutrients when their cell walls are broken, a process that requires crushing food with side-to-side motion rather than simply swallowing it in large chunks the way that a carnivore or omnivore swallows flesh.

Herbivores have digestive systems in which the stomach is not nearly as spacious as the carnivore’s or omnivore’s, a feature that is suitable for the more regular eating of smaller portions permitted with a diet of plants (which stay in place and are therefore much easier to chase down), rather than the sporadic gorging of a predator on his prey. The herbivore’s stomach also has a higher pH (which means that it is less acidic) than the carnivore’s or omnivore’s, perhaps in part because plants ordinarily do not carry the dangerous bacteria associated with rotting flesh.

The small intestines of herbivores are quite long and permit the time-consuming and complex breakdown of the carbohydrates present in plants. In virtually every respect, the human anatomy resembles that of herbivorous animals (such as the gorilla and the elephant) more than that of carnivorous and omnivorous species. Our mouths’ openings are small; our teeth are not extremely sharp (even our “canines”); and our lips and tongues are muscular. Our jaws are not very stable (and would therefore be easy to dislocate in a battle with prey), but they are quite mobile and allow the side-to-side motion that facilitates the crushing and grinding of plants.” — Read the full excerpt on comparative anatomy by Sherry F. Colb, from her book, Mind if I Order the Cheeseburger? and Other Questions People Ask Vegans

It has been estimated that 98% of our harm to animals comes from our food choices. Yet science has irrefutably demonstrated that humans do not need meat, dairy or eggs to thrive. Once we understand that eating animals is not a requirement for good health, and if we have access to nutritious plant-based foods, then the choice to continue consuming animal products anyway is a choice for animals to be harmed and killed for our pleasure — simply because we like the taste. But harming animals for pleasure goes against core values we hold in common.

The only way for our values to mean anything — the only way for our values to actually be our values — is if they are reflected in the choices we freely make. And every day, we have the opportunity to live our values through our food choices. If we value kindness over violence, if we value being compassionate over causing unnecessary harm, and if we have access to plant-based alternatives, then veganism is the only consistent expression of our values.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021, and Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.