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RE: Response to Questions About Veganism and Other Issues - Corrected Version

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  • Lindy Greene
    Corrected some mistakes and added a couple of things - sorry! _________________________________________________________ Someone inquired about eating plants
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 15, 2008
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      Corrected some mistakes and added a couple of things - sorry!
      Someone inquired about eating plants and other issues. I'm sharing my response in case anyone can use it. Since I'm familiar with some of the issues and love to write, it's another way I try to contribute when I'm not out raising a ruckus and getting my hiney arrested in the vivvys' neighborhoods - LOL.
      First of all, we have to eat. If we don't, we die. So, there is no "choice" in the matter there unless we wish to subject ourselves to death by starvation. Thus, we attempt to pursue the least damaging and least cruel course.
      Plants do not have a central nervous system and "consciousness" in
      the same sense as animals. Also, we can enjoy many products from
      plants without killing the plant (i.e., apples from trees or grapes from vines).
      We recognize that by living in complex societies we unavoidably contribute to the very ills we are fighting. All we can do - unless we move to a cave in the desert - is to eliminate what harm we can, mitigate what we can't eliminate, and advocate for change in the rest.
      Drugs that are tested "safe" in animals go on to maim and kill hundreds of thousands of people. The most recent example was the diabetes drug Avandia, which caused 130,000 adverse cardiac events - including death. Conversely, drugs tested "unsafe" in animals and which may have been of great benefit to humans are discarded and never brought to market. This is because test results cannot be reliably extrapolated from one species to another.
      Just two examples from the many are that penicillin kills guinea pigs and aspirin kills cats. Many decades ago a drug called Thalidomide, tested "safe" in animals, was prescribed for pregnant women to combat morning sickness. Tragically, it caused their babies to be born without arms - a condition called "phocomelia" and which refers to the "flipper-like" appearance of hands extruding directly from shoulders. Drugs that harm unborn fetuses are referred to as "teratogenic. "
      The animal rights movement would not advise anyone who really needs a drug to save his or her life - or to enable him or her to live a quality life - to forgo the medication. It's not against the product per se - just the way it is tested. We ask people to avoid drugs if they're not necessary - or to use those no longer being tested (we can't alter the past) and already shown to be safe and effective. Last, we advocate lifestyle changes (like losing weight or adopting a plant-based diet) that would improve health and allow for dosage reduction or discontinuation. 

      We don't claim that we do no harm - we just try to do less harm. Our battles often comprise issues of both animal and human rights. Vivisection (animal experimentation) harms not only animals, but also humans. Its results are reliable from only 5-25 percent of the time (note that you can flip a coin and achieve 50% accuracy). Factory farming not only tortures billions of animals, but also damages the environment and injures people. It contributes to deforestation, desertification, depletion of aquifers, flooding, pollution, and world hunger (from 8-16 pounds of grain must be fed to an animal to produce one pound of meat). And a diet for which we are not physiologically fashioned leads to cardiovascular disease and malignancy. We don't claim that veganism (eating only plants) will extend your life - but it may very well prevent your premature demise. In other words, it doesn't guarantee that you'll live to 90 if you were meant to live to 70 - but it may keep you from dying at 50.

      The annual slaughter of the baby harp seals by Canada in order to allow vain human women to parade themselves in fur coats not only constitutes a grievous atrocity on its face, but also upsets the marine ecosystem. Any hunting that concentrates on a single species disturbs predator/prey ratios. I'm against hunting for moral reasons, of course, and I have no control over the fact that life on Earth evolved in such a way that some animals prey on others. They are programmed to do so and have no alternative. They are not designed to have sensitivity toward their prey - otherwise, they obviously would not survive. The lioness who needs to feed her cubs cannot afford to feel sorry for the gazelle she's about to kill. 

      Human beings, however, do have the capacity to feel compassion and to make moral choices. They do have the ability to observe that our dentition, salivary and stomach acid composition, and intestinal anatomy are more akin to those of herbivores; that we possess neither the talons nor the visual and olfactory acuity of obligate carnivores; and that a plant-based diet cuts way down on the incidence of heart attack,.cancer, and stroke. (One friend and fellow activist reminds that we are genetically closer to cows and quips that plants don't run from us, but rather willingly offer themselves as nourishment.) They do have the capability of conducting environmental impact studies and assessing the severe damage to the planet incurred by factory farming. They do have the ingenuity to manufacture soy products that closely mimic their animal counterparts. They can layer their clothing and create synthetics that are just as warm as fur. They can find means to entertain themselves and their children that do not involve exploitation of animals. And they can empathize with other living beings who are just as capable of suffering and who likewise value their own lives. Finally, they can intellectually grasp that these beings have the same right to be here navigating the causeways of their personal and collective destinies.

      We can make choices that are kinder to ourselves, animals, and the
      planet. When we voluntarily fail to do so, it speaks volumes about us
      both as individuals and as a species.
      Lindy Greene
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