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Tag: animals

Good Day Sacramento – Reading Labels

Good Day reporters Melissa Cabral and Sean Bennett are taking The 30-Day Vegan Challenge! In Week 2, we talk about eating healthfully affordably and reading labels.

Animals in the Alphabet

Get ready to geek out on language and animals! We’ve talked a lot about animals hiding in familiar words and phrases, but did you know animals are lurking in the very letters that make up these words? If I haven’t blown your mind yet, check out this episode to learn more about this fascinating history.

Animal Abuse, Then and Now

On a recent trip to Italy, while touring the baths of Pompeii, a woman in my group looked up at a graphic depiction of a boy swimming with dolphins and declared that the ancient Romans must have loved animals. I conceded that they most likely regarded animals with awe, while reminding her of the grueling chariot races in the Circus Maximus, the gruesome fabricated “hunts” in the Roman Forum, and the egregious animal slaughter that took place in the Colosseum – all for the sake of human entertainment.

The ancient Romans were, like us, a diverse and complicated people. They were resourceful, intelligent, and innovative. They were also violent, ignorant, and opportunistic. In all these ways – both good and bad – we are the same.

The Colosseum in Rome is a testament to this. Awe-inspiring though it was to stand inside this architectural feat and to contemplate the ingenuity, hubris, and labor that went into its design and construction, it was equally disquieting. Imagining the amount of blood shed, bodies strewn, and lives wasted over the centuries it was in use was unsettling – not only because so much unnecessary torment once took place but mostly because it continues to.

The practice of using and killing animals for our own pleasure runs throughout history and cultures. It’s certainly not unique to the ancient Romans, and it did not end with them. We like to pretend that we’ve shed our barbaric selves, but the violent echoes of the past resound in our own amphitheaters.

*In modern horse racing, horses are pushed beyond their limits only to be discarded and often slaughtered when there’s little chance they’ll earn a laurel crown for their riders.

*For our contemporary circuses, majestic wild animals are beaten into submission for the entertainment of stadium spectators.

*In “canned hunts,” animals are pursued in a confined area and then slain to be displayed as trophies.

We like to believe that we’re more advanced than our ancient predecessors, but when it comes to our relationship with the non-human citizens of the world it seems that little has changed.

With a Perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

The ancient Romans were, like us, a diverse and complicated people. They were resourceful, intelligent, and innovative. They were also violent, ignorant, and opportunistic. In all these ways – both good and bad – we are the same.

The Colosseum in Rome is a testament to this. Awe-inspiring though it was to stand inside this architectural feat and to contemplate the ingenuity, hubris, and labor that went into its design and construction, it was equally disquieting. Imagining the amount of blood shed, bodies strewn, and lives wasted over the centuries it was in use was unsettling – not only because so much unnecessary torment once took place but mostly because it continues to.

The practice of using and killing animals for our own pleasure runs throughout history and cultures. It’s certainly not unique to the ancient Romans, and it did not end with them. We like to pretend that we’ve shed our barbaric selves, but the violent echoes of the past resound in our own amphitheaters.

*In modern horse racing, horses are pushed beyond their limits only to be discarded and often slaughtered when there’s little chance they’ll earn a laurel crown for their riders.

*For our contemporary circuses, majestic wild animals are beaten into submission for the entertainment of stadium spectators.

*In “canned hunts,” animals are pursued in a confined area and then slain to be displayed as trophies.

We like to believe that we’re more advanced than our ancient predecessors, but when it comes to our relationship with the non-human citizens of the world it seems that little has changed.

With a Perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Close the Zoos (East Bay Times Guest Commentary)

(The East Bay Times — formerly The Oakland Tribune)

I wonder sometimes if things wouldn’t be better for animals if we were less captivated by them. In a strange, contradictory way, our fascination with them — even our appreciation for them — is what causes us to harm them the most.

Understand animals desire freedom, close the zoos (East Bay Times guest commentary)

We’re so attracted to their beauty that we adorn ourselves with their skin, feathers and fur. We’re so moved by their intelligence that we force them to perform for us. We’re so covetous of their strength that we seek to assimilate it by consuming and ingesting their bits and parts.

We’re so intrigued by their very presence that we confine and display them just so we can gawk, observing with amazement how much like us they actually are.

Exhibiting animals — particularly large, wild, “exotic” animals — goes back as far as ancient times. These menageries, precursors of modern zoos, tended to be owned by the wealthy, whose human supremacy and power could be displayed along with their animal collections.

Not much has changed — except perhaps in the modern way we shroud the ugliness of animal captivity in the guise of science and conservation.

Zoos celebrate their breeding programs as a means to propagate endangered species, but to what end? Not a single lowland gorilla or mountain gorilla — or for that matter, black rhino, elephant or orangutan — all of whom are classified as critically endangered — has ever gone from a U.S. zoo back into the wild.

Zoos populate zoos. Breeding programs replenish cages. For captive breeding programs to be successful, wild habitats must be preserved. The dollars spent (by the public and by zoos) on animal exhibits would be better spent on protecting already-wild individuals and rapidly disappearing habitats.

More than that, thousands of animals in zoos are betrayed by their alleged champions every year. To curb overpopulation, animals are killed on a regular basis in zoos around the world, either to be fed to other captive animals or to zoo patrons.

If they’re not killed, “surplus animals” — those individuals zoos no longer considered profitable because they’re neither young enough nor cute enough to attract crowds — wind up in circuses, private residences and even in the hands of taxidermists.

A two-year investigation by the Mercury News found that 38 percent of the mammals bred in accredited zoos were sold to dealers, auctions, hunting ranches and roadside zoos.

Zoos emphasize their role in educating the public about wildlife, instilling a love of animals and fostering appreciation for the natural world, though evidence suggests that zoos do not in fact increase our knowledge or understanding of either animals or nature.

One of the reasons is that zoo animals don’t exhibit natural behaviors in captivity. What they exhibit instead are neurotic behaviors and repetitive rituals, such as pacing, bar-biting, swaying and circling — no matter how much zoos design their enclosures to mimic their respective natural habitats.

Not only is captivity not beneficial for the prisoners, it instills nothing in us but human arrogance, supremacy and apathy, perpetuating the idea that nonhuman animals are here for us to use, abuse and exploit for our own pleasures and purposes.

Not so when we admire birds in our backyards; watch bees pollinate flowers; or spot wild turkeys, deer, and lizards from a hiking trail. We can be captivated by animals without holding them captive.

It’s not that we should find animals less fascinating or beautiful or impressive. It’s not that we should appreciate animals less.

What we need to do is appreciate more that animals’ inherent desire for freedom, life, autonomy and self-determination is as strong as our own. That in these ways, they are indeed just like us.

We don’t need to change our admiration for nonhuman animals as much as we need to change our understanding of how nonhuman animals see themselves.

If that were the lens through which we looked, we would be as outraged at the mere existence of zoos as we are by those who suggest they be obsolete.

In Defense of Butchers: A Semantic Justification

The weight of a word doesn’t simply lie in its dictionary definition. Words don’t simply have denotations — they also have connotations: a number of associations and attributes that stretch beyond the literal meaning. The word “butcher” in the English language has always been associated with the killing and preparing of animals for human consumption, but a new contingency of vegetarian and vegan butchers — who cleave plant fibers rather than animal bones — have claimed this name for themselves.

Vegan BBQ on The Food Network

My segment with the Food Network’s show, BBQ with Bobby Flay, features delicious plant foods: grilled corn, eggplant, polenta, tempeh, and more.