Saturday, December 10, 2011

What is the Power Plate

What is the Power Plate was originally published on livestrong.com




The Power Plate is a food guide which encourages consumption of nutrient-dense, plant-based foods. The Power Plate diet is represented by a circle, or plate, divided into four equal wedges. The wedges represent fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables. Unlike other food guides, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid, the Power Plate does not call for specific portion sizes or food hierarchies. Rather, it advises that you eat a variety of foods from all four food groups each day. Consult your doctor before beginning any new diet.

Previous Food Guides

According to the University of Florida's online history of the food pyramid, the first widely published food guide appeared in 1916. The first food pyramid, which employed a graphic to show recommended proportions, was conceived in the 1960s, due to concerns over an increasing trend toward heart disease in Americans. The food pyramid continued to evolve, and in 2010, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine petitioned the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt the Power Plate diet instead.
The PCRM developed the Power Plate diet to replace the USDA's existing MyPyramid food guides. A 2010 report in the "Marianas Variety" newspaper lists several of the PCRM's reasons for requesting the change. These include limited scientific knowledge concerning the risks and benefits of nonessential foods in the MyPyramid food guide, which include eggs, yogurt and cheese. The PCRM also objects to the MyPyramid food guide's inclusion of foods lacking nutritional value, and to its lack of attention to the dietary needs of very young children and those with medical conditions requiring specialized diets. The PCRM further notes that some of the foods and food groups recommended by the MyPyramid food guide may no longer be considered healthy by modern standards of nutrition.

Benefits of the Power Plate Diet

The Power Plate's relative simplicity compared to previous pyramids and food guides may make it easier to use. The diet's lack of strict proportions or hierarchies allows you to observe the diet without putting as much conscious thought and effort into your meals, its backers contend. In essence, you simply ensure that each of your meals consists of foods from each of the four food groups.

The Four Components of the Power Plate

Fruits may be fresh, frozen or canned. The diet recommends whole fruits over fruit juice, as whole fruits contain more fiber. This group also serves as a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene. Whole grains such as brown rice, rolled oats and barley contribute to the grain group, as do pasta, bread, millet, corn, cereal and tortillas. Beans, lentils and peas make up the legume group, from which you obtain fiber, protein, zinc, calcium, B vitamins and iron. Dark green leafy vegetables and dark yellow or orange vegetables make up the vegetable group, which adds additional fiber, vitamin C, beta carotene and riboflavin to your diet.

Eating Other Foods

Because previous food guides included foods that the PCRM considers of little or questionable nutritional value, the Power Plate diet does not endorse regular consumption of foods outside its four recommended food groups. While eating according to the guidelines of the Power Plate, you should consume minimal amounts of meat, dairy, sweets and junk food.

Sources of Iron in the Power Plate Diet

Because red meat is not a part of the Power Plate, you may need other sources of dietary iron. According to the HealthCastle website, lentils and beans from the legume group can be good sources of iron. Vegetables such as cooked broccoli and asparagus are also high in iron, as are pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and almonds.
Article reviewed by Will McCahill Last updated on: Jun 14, 2011

Learn more at www.pcrm.org

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude Journal

Today is a wonderful day.

• Family jogging on the trails

• Hiking with Jeremy through the woods and leaves at the nature preserve. It was so much fun.

Veggie-lasagna for dinner

Zucchini bread fresh out of the oven

• Sight and the perception of beautiful fall colors



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude Journal

Today I am filled with gratitude ...

• The healthy vegan lunch I made today. Recipe: healthyveganrecipes.net/video/sesame-steamed-broccoli

• Jogging with Rosebud on the gravel trails, surrounded by colorful fall leaves, green-canopied trees, and lots of jumping squirrels.

• Beautiful weather. I love being outside, or being inside with windows open.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Music: Bobby

Youth Lagoon, Bobby


Music: Montana

Youth Lagoon, Montana

A door is always open if it isn't closed


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches with Creamy White Bean Spread


Roasted Vegetable Sandwiches with Creamy White Bean Spread
originally from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

• 1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices (optional)
• 1 portobello mushroom cap, lightly rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4-inch strips
• 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 1 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting vegetables
• Salt and black pepper
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 and ½ cups cooked or (15.5 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 and 1/2 - 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (We thought 2 tablespoons was a little strong)
• ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley (I used parsley)
• 8 (½ inch thick) slices Italian bread, toasted (we got our from the Whole Food bakery)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet (I used parchment paper). Arrange the onion (if using), mushroom and zucchini on the baking sheet (If it looks like a lot that is normal, the vegetables will shrink as they cook). Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast until tender and slightly browned on the edges, turning once, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, vinegar, crushed red pepper, and parsley (or basil). Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. To serve, spread the bean mixture evenly on each slice of toasted bread and top with some of the roasted vegetables. Arrange on plates, allowing 2 slices of bread per person.

Music: R.I.P Burn Face

CocoRosie, R.I.P Burn Face


Monday, November 7, 2011

Today's Lunch Power Plate

Today's Lunch Power Plate:


Fruits: Apples, oranges, pineapples, mangos


Legumes: Green Beans

Vegetables: Kale, spinach, lettuce, parsley, tomato salad

Music: Gone


Gone, people, all awkward with their things, gone.
Gone, people, all careless and consumed, gone.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Art: We Were Like Strangers who Knew Each Other Very Well








Music: Cosmic Love

Florence and The Machine, Cosmic Love, Live

A fallen star, fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind

The stars, the moon
They have all been blown out
You left me in the dark

No dawn, no day,
I'm always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart

And in the dark I can hear your heartbeat
I try to find the sound, but then it stopped, and I was in the darkness
So darkness I became



The stars, the moon,
They have all been blown out,
You left me in the dark
No dawn, No day,
I'm always in this twlight,
In the shadow of your heart,

I took the stars from my eyes, and then I made a map
I knew that some how, I could find my way back

Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
So I stayed in the darkness with you

The stars, the moon
They have all been blown out
You left me in the dark

No dawn, no day,
I'm always in the twilight
In the shadow of your heart

The stars, the moon
They have all been blown out
You left me in the dark

No dawn, no day,
I'm always in this twlight
In the shadow of your heart




Gratitude Journal

I am so grateful!

• A walk with Rosebud in beautiful Autumn weather
• Homemade salad dressing with a yummy salad (Recipe here)
• Pilates workout
• My job! I have been working on lots of pictures of happy people. I can't help but smile.




Recipe: Fall Forward Fruit & Pecan Salad with "Falling for Maple" Dressing

This recipe is originally from Healthy Happy Life and was created by Kathy Patalsky.




The Flavors: Fresh, diced apples with cinnamon become soft and squishy when they meet the maple/avocado/lemon - spicy, zesty dressing. Taste that hint of tangy apple cider vinegar and the sweet-tart chew of dried cranberries. Creamy avocado cubes give this salad some body. Raw pecans and perky pumpkin seeds add a perfect nutty crunch. All these flavors are folded into a bouncy bed of bright baby greens. And don't forget the slight warm hint of chili powder. This salad will leave your body and taste buds feeling good!Fall Forward Fruit and Pecan Salad
vegan, serves two (or four, if used as an appetizer)



Ingredients:
6 cups loosely packed Baby Mixed Greens, organic/local pref'd
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup whole raw pecans
1/2 cup diced fresh apple w/ cinnamon (or dried cinnamon apple rings)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (raw or roasted/salted, your preference)*add more/less of these ingredients to suit your tastes!
"Falling for Maple" Dressing Ingredients:
2 Tbsp maple syrup (We used Grade B syrup)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 large avocado, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
optional: dash of cayenne



Dressing:


Instructions:


1. Add all dry salad ingredients and baby greens to a large bowl.

2. Wisk together the dressing and add chopped avocados (meaning, put the avocados in the dressing.)

3. Add dressing to salad and toss very well.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

John Lennon: God



 God is a concept by which we measure our pain 
I'll say it again 
God is a concept by which we measure our pain


Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

James LaVeck: Let's Not Give Up Before We Even Get Started

This incredible essay by James LaVeck and its images are originally from humanemyth.org

Visit humanemyth.org to view the companion four-part video presentation by James LaVeck and to learn more about animal agriculture and the myth of humane farming.


Let's Not Give Up Before We Even Get Started
What the British anti-slavery movement can teach animal advocates about overcoming the politics of pessimism
Several prominent animal advocacy organizations have convinced large numbers of their members, including some experienced activists and community educators, that as "realists," we should direct the bulk of our available resources and energy towards achieving whatever small improvements we can in the treatment of the billions of animals humans use and kill each year. "We will not see major progress toward the elimination of animal exploitation in our lifetimes," they say. "After all, most people are not ready, willing or able to grasp that the exploitation of animals is a question of justice."
Largely on the basis of such presumptions, these organizations have also convinced their supporters that even such compromised goals can often only be accomplished by forming coalitions with various segments of the animal-using industry and by developing and promoting alternative "humane" animal products. As a result, the question of justice, "Do we have the right to use and kill animals?", is being methodically displaced by the question of regulation, "What is the right way for us to use and kill animals?"1

hochschildAgainst All Odds

A remarkable essay titled "Against All Odds," by Adam Hochschild, co-founder of Mother Jones magazine, is a must-read for anyone who believes that today's injustices are so entrenched that we might as well give up on achieving significant change in our lifetimes or that the efforts of a few people can't possibly impact a global problem. In it, Mr. Hochschild tells how the grassroots movement to end the practice of slavery in the British Empire was the first justice movement in human history that was joined by large numbers of people who were not themselves victims of the injustice being challenged. As he deftly illustrates, those of us working for justice today owe an incalculable debt to our forebears in the anti-slavery movement:

Though born in the age of swords, wigs, and stagecoaches, the British anti-slavery movement leaves us an extraordinary legacy. Every day activists use the tools it helped pioneer: consumer boycotts, newsletters, petitions, political posters and buttons, national campaigns with local committees, and much more. But far more important is the boldness of its vision. Look at the problems that confront the world today: global warming; the vast gap between rich and poor nations; British Anti-Slave Societythe relentless spread of nuclear weapons; the poisoning of the earth's soil, air, and water; the habit of war. To solve almost any one of these, a realist might say, is surely the work of centuries; to think otherwise is naive. But many a hardheaded realist could -- and did -- say exactly the same thing to those who first proposed to end slavery. After all, was it not in one form or another woven into the economy of most of the world? Had it not existed for millennia? Was it not older, even, than money and the written word? Surely anyone expecting to change all of that was a dreamer. But the realists turned out to be wrong.

To read of the courage and vision of those who gave decades of their lives to abolish slavery when it seemed all but impossible is to rediscover the power of altruism, and to be witness to the true potential of the human spirit. Mr. Hochschild goes on to offer a vivid snapshot of just how monumental the challenge really was:

slave trade routepicture the world as it existed in 1787. Well over three-quarters of the people on earth are in bondage of one land or another. In parts of the Americas, slaves far outnumber free people. African slaves are also scattered widely through much of the Islamic world. Slavery is routine in most of Africa itself. In India and other parts of Asia, some people are outright slaves, others in debt bondage that ties them to a particular landlord as harshly as any slave to a Southern plantation owner. In Russia the majority of the population are serfs. Nowhere is slavery more firmly rooted than in Britain's overseas empire, where some half-million slaves are being systematically worked to an early death growing West Indian sugar... One of the most prosperous sugar plantations on Barbados is owned by the Church of England. Furthermore, Britain's ships dominate the slave trade, delivering tens of thousands of chained captives each year to French, Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese colonies as well as to its own.

 …If you had proposed, in the London of early 1787, to change all of this, nine out of ten people would have laughed you off as a crackpot. The 10th might have admitted that slavery was unpleasant but said that to end it would wreck the British Empire's economy.

 …Looking back, however, what is even more surprising than slavery's scope is how swiftly it died. By the end of the 19th century, slavery was, at least on paper, outlawed almost everywhere.

Consider how massive a societal shift the abolitionists were fighting for, and how unachievable it must have seemed to nearly everyone even a few decades before it actually happened. And, amazingly, this monumental change was wrought by the power of conscience awakening in the lives of large numbers of individual people who, in different ways, became conscientious objectors to the evils of slavery. What became an unstoppable wave of change was sparked by the efforts of a small number of visionary activists (some of whom were former slaves), educators and political leaders, using methods that are still familiar to us today.

Sugar BoycottWithin a few years, another tactic arose from the grassroots. Throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles, people stopped eating the major product harvested by British slaves: sugar. Clarkson was delighted to find a "remedy, which the people were taking into their own hands... Rich and poor, churchmen and dissenters... By the best computation I was able to make from notes taken down in my journey, no fewer than three hundred thousand persons had abandoned the use of sugar."

…Then, as now, the full workings of a globalized economy were largely invisible. The boycott caught people's imagination because it brought these hidden ties to light. The poet Robert Southey spoke of tea as "the blood-sweetened beverage."

 ...Slavery advocates were horrified. One rushed out a counterpamphlet claiming that "sugar is not a luxury; but... a necessary of life; and great injury have many persons done to their constitutions by totally abstaining from it."

In spite of all that has changed in the last several hundred years, the privilege of domination -- the socially-sanctioned and often even legally-validated prerogative of one group to exert arbitrary control over members of another group -- still drives the same kind of manipulative defenses outlined by Hochschild. We can see this today with the ceaseless efforts of the meat, dairy and egg industries to convince the public that a diet based on animal products is the foundation of health and long life, when in fact it has been scientifically proven to be a major contributor to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other chronic illnesses our country spends billions to mitigate.

But Mr. Hochschild's essay reminds us that hundreds of years ago, such pernicious industry deceptions did not carry the day, and that people of modest means and limited formal education grasped that they had inadvertently become complicit in the systematic enslavement and exploitation of millions of others. Many simply chose to opt out, even when doing so went against their own economic interests:

Uprisings of the oppressed have erupted throughout history, but the anti-slavery movement in England was the first sustained mass campaign anywhere on behalf of someone else's rights. Sometimes Britons even seemed to be organizing against their own self-interest. From Sheffield, famous for making scissors, scythes, knives, razors, and the like, 769 metalworkers petitioned Parliament in 1789. Because their wares were sold to ship captains for use as currency to buy slaves, the Sheffield cutlers wrote, they might be expected to favor the slave trade. But they vigorously opposed it: "Your petitioners ...consider the case of the nations of Africa as their own." …Consider the Africans' case as their own? Stephen Fuller, London agent for the Jamaican planters and a key figure in the pro-slavery lobby, wrote in bewilderment that the petitions flooding into Parliament were "stating no grievance or injury of any land or sort, affecting the Petitioners themselves." He was right to be startled. This was something new in human history.

What could be more inspiring and instructive to those working for justice today?

A Cautionary Tale


Also folded within Mr. Hochschild's inspirational historical survey is a cautionary tale. As the excerpts below vividly illustrate, just as the grassroots methods pioneered by anti-slavery activists are still in use today, so are the many methods of co-option, distortion and delay that were used by those determined to maintain their privilege of domination over Africans who had been kidnapped and forced to endure the pain and degradation of lifelong servitude:

Benevolent PlantersPro-slavery forces now launched counterattacks. They bought copies of a pro-slavery book for distribution "particularly at Cambridge" (college towns leaned left even then) and printed 8,000 copies of a pamphlet about how each happy slave family had "a snug little house and garden, and plenty of pigs and poultry." They sponsored a London musical, The Benevolent Planters, in which two black lovers, separated in Africa, end up living on adjoining plantations in the West Indies and are reunited by their kindly owners.

…They considered other P.R. techniques as well. "The vulgar are influenced by names and titles," suggested one pro-slavery writer in 1789. "Instead of SLAVES, let the Negroes be called ASSISTANT-PLANTERS; and we shall not then hear such violent outcries against the slave-trade."

 …In Parliament, slavery's most colorful spokesman was the Duke of Clarence, one of the many dissolute sons of King George III. …In his maiden speech before fellow members of the House of Lords in their red and ermine robes, he called himself "an attentive observer of the state of the negroes," who found them well cared for and "in a state of humble happiness." On another occasion, he warned that Britain's abolishing the trade would mean the slaves would be transported by foreigners, "who would not use them with such tenderness and care."

While the experience of each individual and each group that has endured oppression and injustice is unique and must be recognized and respected as such, the mindset of those benefiting from the exploitation of others remains remarkably consistent across culture and context, and across the centuries. Pro-slavery advocates systematically worked to manipulate the public into focusing on the manner of treatment, rather than the injustice of the enslavement itself. The parallels with today's struggle for justice for other-than-human animals are stunning, with industry lies and manipulations shifting the emphasis towards "humane" treatment rather than questioning the privilege of domination itself.

The NimansNowhere was this more painfully evident than at the 2007 Taking Action for Animals conference, sponsored by numerous animal advocacy organizations and attended by nearly a thousand animal advocates and community educators. At one controversial presentation, rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman showed picturesque photos of animals bred into existence on her ranch to be killed after only two years of life, repeatedly attesting to her respect and affection for them as individuals, many of whom she claimed to know by name. Ms. Niman received particular praise from a representative of the Animal Welfare Institute, a conference sponsor, who said to the audience of animal advocates:
The reason that we actually first began working with [Niman Ranch] was that they instituted a practice I'd never seen before, which is that the stock man and woman who work with the cattle out on the range actually go with the animals to the slaughterhouse. They clear everyone else, all the strangers, out of the slaughterhouses and walk with the animal to the staging area to its death, so that that animal has the comfort of a familiar face. And the only stranger is -- there's only one stranger for that animal in the entire process, once it's off the truck. [i.e., the person who takes the animal's life] [Audio Listen]


Butchering Our Language


An unforgettable scene from the documentary "Food, Inc." depicts an employee of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm cutting the throats of fully conscious chickens while others in nearby cages are forced to witness the killing and hear the gurgling death cries of those who go before them. Meanwhile, Farmer Salatin looks on, cheerfully disemboweling a chicken carcass as he declares, "We have allowed ourselves to become so disconnected and ignorant about something that is as intimate as the food we eat. What a difference it is to be out here in the fresh air and sunshine, birds singing in the trees."

SalatinMr. Salatin betrays no hint of irony when quoted in the media as saying he is in "the healing industry" and that his farm, where countless animals are raised and slaughtered for profit, is in fact like a "sanctuary." The appropriation of the identity of social justice activists by those benefiting from mass exploitation is nothing new. From the anti-slavery era to the present, they have concocted clever ways to warp the language of justice for their own selfish purposes. Mr. Hochschild offers us the instructive example of Henry Dundas, a skillful politician who used anti-slavery rhetoric in an attempt to hold back the anti-slavery movement.

…When Henry Dundas, the politically powerful Home Secretary who controlled a large block of Scottish votes, rose to speak, no one knew where he stood. Dundas began by declaring himself in favor of abolition, at which those in the gallery must have felt their spirits rise. He then went even further, and declared himself in favor of emancipation of the slaves... but far in the future, he added quickly, and after much preparation and education. Then, to the abolitionists' dismay, he introduced an amendment that inserted the word "gradually" in Wilberforce's motion to abolish the slave trade. This signaled the moment that comes in every political crusade, when the other side is forced to adopt the crusaders' rhetoric: The factory farm labels its produce "natural"; the oil company declares itself environmentalist. Dundas had called himself an abolitionist, but he asked that abolition be postponed.

Vegan Society logoThe role played by Dundas was not unlike that of John Mackey of Whole Foods, who was publicly lauded as a "vegan" by numerous leaders of well-known animal advocacy organizations, though he was at the time, and still is, CEO of one of the largest meat retailers in the US. From the time of its first usage in the 1940's by Englishman Donald Watson, the term "vegan" has had a very specific meaning. It refers to those individuals who, for reasons of conscience, refuse to participate in the exploitation and killing of other animals by refraining from eating, wearing or using animal products. It goes without saying that, whatever his personal dietary habits may be, Mr. Mackey, in his professional life, participates in and profits from the exploitation and killing of animals at a level of vastness equaled by few.

At an animal rights conference in 2005, Gene Bauston (now Gene Baur), president of Farm Sanctuary, the largest farm animal refuge in the US, introduced Mr. Mackey, who was given the honor of keynote speaker, with these words:

Our next speaker is one powerful fella. He is one of the most influential people in the food business in this country. He also happens to be an outspoken vegan. He's spoken out publicly to major media like The New York Times, Newsweek, about being vegan. I've also had the opportunity to be in meetings with him where he is speaking with folks who are not vegan about the benefits of being vegan. So he does not shy away from who he is in speaking about what he is passionate about. He also seeks to incorporate his personal values, and desire for a more humane, more compassionate world, in the business world. [Audio Listen]

In this moment, the meaning of the word vegan was degraded, stripped of any connotation of what makes it a noble ideal, the commitment not to participate in exploitation for reasons of conscience. However intended, the unfortunate choice of Mr. Baur and several other well-known animal advocacy leadership figures to publicly validate Mr. Mackey's "veganism" facilitated his appropriating the moral authority of the animal advocacy movement for his own purposes.

Selling the Sell-out

Like Henry Dundas before him, John Mackey understood exactly what to do. When he began to speak, surely the heart of every animal advocate in the room surged with hope. Here was a major corporate executive who saw the tragedy of it all, the injustice, who understood.
John Mackey…Gene said something very important today when he got up to speak at lunch, and we saw those moving films about what the Humane Society of the US is doing, and all the different things they were doing to help the animal victims in Katrina. But the thing that got me was when he said, yeah, over 6 million farm animals died. You know, for every cat and dog we saved, there were 6 million farm animals that died. That's a lot of senseless death. And, God, in America, we kill — if you count the farmed catfish, I read it in a book it's up to over 11 billion animals a year. I mean it's incredible, the slaughter that's going on. [ Listen]

Some of the more experienced attendees of this event have reported that their feelings of optimism evaporated as Mr. Mackey went on to explain that the only way he could stay in a position to help animals would be to continue maximizing profits through offering whatever products the public demanded. He then went on to explain in great detail his "solution," how with the assistance of numerous animal advocacy organizations, his suppliers could learn how to use and kill millions of animals with a level of compassion never before achieved at an institutional level. Hence, the genesis of Whole Foods' "Animal Compassionate Standards."

…This process is a multi-stakeholder process. And the way it works is, we brought in all these activist groups that you see down here, AWI [Animal Welfare Institute], VIVA USA, PETA, HSUS, ARI [Peter Singer's Animal Rights International] and Farm Sanctuary have all participated.
[ Listen]

Whole Foods Meat DisplayIn this context, Mr. Mackey's use of the word "participated" takes on considerable significance, as it shows just how directly and deeply the values associated with veganism and animal rights were being violated. This newly anointed "vegan" visionary was not only a participant in the use and killing of animals at an unimaginable scale, but he had now created a context where many of the organizations and individuals identified in the mind of the public as the standard bearers of animal advocacy would actively join him in developing and endorsing "new and improved" methods of using and killing animals.

…We also have the producers come in. And there's a — a species at a time, …then we have Whole Foods people that are there. We have animal experts, …they're all animal experts who care deeply about animals.

…So we're all together in this room and we basically kind of, point by point, we sort of go through it. And we're getting better at it. Boy, it took a long time to do ducks, but we're getting a lot faster with it now 'cause we've got enough species that we're beginning to learn what works and what doesn't work.

Whole Foods DeliLater in Mr. Mackey's speech, it became clear just how deep the damage was going to be. Not only had he succeeded in being publicly validated as an enlightened "vegan" meat seller and won the participation and endorsement of major animal advocacy leaders. Most valuable of all, he'd figured out how to redirect the efforts of sincerely motivated animal advocates away from awakening the public to the inherent injustice of using and killing animals, and instead, toward doing the job of building the "animal-friendly" reputation of Whole Foods -- at the expense of his competitors, no less.

…we like to say we're creating the gold standard of standards. These standards are all going to be on our web site. We want you to use those standards to go bash our competition. We want you to take those standards and pressure Safeway and Kroger and Albertsons, who say this can't be done. We want you to say, well, but Whole Foods is doing it.

During the question-and-answer portion of his presentation, when a concerned audience member asked about veal, Mr. Mackey could not help but reveal the underlying truth of the situation, the reality of the business he is in, no matter how cleverly it was marketed to animal advocates and the general public:

Whole Foods' veal is very humanely raised. It's not tethered. It's not anemic. It's -- it's humanely raised as any cow is humanely raised. So we don't see that it's -- if it's a crime to kill an adult cow, it's a crime to kill a baby calf. I mean, the same argument can be made for lamb or anything else. I mean, Whole Foods is a grocery store and our customers want to -- they want to buy dead animals, and I've already made -- I've already answered this. If we stop selling that, we're going to go out of business and -- it can't happen 'cause we can't -- I can't stop it. That's the bottom line.
[ Listen]

What did these standards, developed through the collaboration of animal exploiters, sanctuaries, and animal rights advocates, actually consist of? Here's an excerpt from the Whole Foods Market Natural Meat Program and Animal Compassionate Standards for Pigs:

Whole Foods LetterIf an illness or injury is serious enough for the animal to be killed, the animal must be promptly and humanely euthanized on the farm. Although at this time there are few alternatives to blunt trauma for piglets, there is research being conducted to develop more humane euthanasia possibilities for neonates.

In the day-to-day world of animal agribusiness, which is ultimately governed by the laws of economics, this lofty-sounding language could be translated roughly as follows: "If an animal gets sick, and treating her will cost more than her cash value, we will kill her in the nicest way we can, as long as it doesn't cost too much. In the case of baby pigs, this means bashing them in the head with a club or hammer. But we're looking for a nicer way to do it."

This is just one example of what John Mackey described in his speech as "the gold standard of standards." Ironically, despite their endorsement by 17 animal advocacy organizations including two nationally-known farm animal sanctuaries, and despite the chorus of accolades Whole Foods received in the major media, cementing this corporation's reputation as being "animal friendly," these "Animal Compassionate" standards were never even implemented.

Global Animal Movement Co-option


Now, several years later, Mr. Mackey has launched a "new and improved" standards initiative, one that confuses the public and entangles advocacy organizations even more profoundly than before. This time around, he's chosen to omit the word "compassion" from the title, perhaps after finding that even he couldn't quite sell the concept of "animal compassionate veal" to either animal advocates or the public. The conspicuously trademarked title for the new program is a more technical-sounding, yet equally misleading, PR concoction: "Global Animal Partnership's 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating Standards."

The Global Animal Partnership, the organization formerly known as Whole Foods' Animal Compassion Foundation, is headed up by Miyun Park, who not long ago was widely admired by many animal advocates, including this one, for her role in bringing "open rescue" to the US, a method of investigating and exposing the realities of animal exploitation that was pioneered (and is still being practiced) in Australia by Patty Mark of Animal Liberation Victoria.
Miyun Park 2002Moving from grassroots role model to a position as Vice President of HSUS, Ms. Park offers the Global Animal Partnership a potent combination of activist credibility and corporate savvy. Now, as executive director of an organization whose work will undoubtedly enhance shareholder value for Whole Foods, one of the largest retailers of animal products in America, her unlikely journey validates industry efforts to convince their customers that purchasing the "right kind" of animal products is a form of socially responsible activism.

The success of this admittedly brilliant strategy is illustrated by the slew of media stories in recent years about vegans and vegetarians going back to eating meat, many of them describing this choice as a form of activism (here's just one example). There have even been stories about "vegan" and vegetarian butchers (see here and here). This parallels, and reinforces, the demoralizing impact on animal advocates of sanctuaries endorsing "humane" farming legislative coalitions, reinforcing the myth that consuming "humane" animal products is somehow an act of social justice.

The 5th Step™ of the standards Mr. Mackey and his team at the Global Animal Partnership have created is described thusly: Animal centered; all physical alterations prohibited. Animals get to live their whole lives with all the body parts they were born with.

GAP meat labelThis can be likened to the work of a skilled magician, who dangles a shiny bauble in front of his audience with his right hand in order to distract from what he does with his left. In this case, Mr. Mackey, himself anointed a "vegan" visionary by a virtual Who's Who of animal advocates, dangles in front of us the arresting image of former undercover investigator Miyun Park collaborating with the most "forward-thinking" people in the animal industry. Together, they have at last created a methodology for using and killing millions of animals that the public can feel good about. At Step 5™, the animals "get to live their whole lives with all the body parts they were born with" (magician's right hand). But (furtive left hand), when their economic value reaches its peak, typically in the animals' early adolescence, they will be killed and their bodies unceremoniously dismembered, the parts wrapped up in attractive packages and sold off one by one to well-meaning customers at a premium price.

And so this brings us full circle, because now, the elusive logic of Mr. Salatin's outrageous likening of his farm to a sanctuary for the animals he kills becomes more apparent. Just as numerous animal organizations and sanctuaries are stepping forward to publicly validate the concept of "humane" farming in the context of statewide legislative initiatives, the Global Animal Partnership unveils an approach to using and killing animals that can be touted to farmers as more profitable and, to the buying public, as healthier, sustainable and more kind.
As educator and former-farmer Harold Brown has pointed out, these very talking points -- healthier, sustainable, and more kind -- are some of the key benefits legitimately ascribed to a diet free of animal products. Their use in an animal farming context maximizes public confusion and greatly facilitates the conversion of animal activists into advocates for "humane" agriculture. They merely have to be convinced that the most effective way to "decrease suffering" is to transfer some of the same arguments they once made to discourage the consumption of animal products into the promotion of "humane" animal products such as "cage-free" eggs. That doing so involves deliberately misleading the public about the injustices inherent in the production of such products is simply never addressed. Nor is the fact that suffering is an internal subjective experience, whose increase or decrease can no more be rationally quantified than the increase or decrease of love or sadness. More or less, the authority figure who most convincingly states which course of action "decreases suffering the most" gains the ability to violate basic principles of public integrity, and to righteously exhort countless well-meaning animal advocates to do the same.

Doing the Wrong Thing the "Right" Way

The image Mr. Salatin is constructing for himself actually goes beyond his merely meeting the demand for "natural," "wholesome" and "humane" animal products. It even includes his providing customers with a sense of meaning, with the feeling of being a part of making the world whole again. By characterizing himself as a "healer" offering "sanctuary" to animals whom he has in fact bred into existence only to butcher for the sake of profit, Mr. Salatin makes it possible for the purchase and consumption of the products of exploitation to be experienced by his customers as an expression of self-care, environmental sanity, compassion, and even activism.

Master marketer John Mackey, by making this experience available on a mass scale, will no doubt gain a legion of eager and enthusiastic customers. At a recent event at a Whole Foods store in central Florida, a large display was set up in front of the meat cases to publicize the rollout of the new 5 Step™ standards. Cattleman Will Harris was observed handing out meatballs on toothpicks to passing shoppers, inviting them, in his charming Southern drawl, to "come on and try a bite of one of my happy cows."  When asked by a skeptical customer if the cows were happy to die, he simply turned away.

An infomercial being used to promote Whole Foods' new program offers idealized images of cows, pigs and chickens in sunny green pastures with cheerful music under upbeat narration by GAP executive director Miyun Park, Whole Foods staffers, and a number of farmers. In many different ways, the message is sent that people working with Whole Foods are doing everything possible to make things better for the animals they use and kill by the millions on the public's behalf, and that their new program is ushering in a new era of enlightenment and ever-expanding progress. Those who appear in the video communicate boundless confidence and optimism, and most of all, an in-depth knowledge of, and concern for, the well being of animals. Impressive claims are made about an abiding interest in helping the animals thrive, in letting them live as they were meant to live. No acknowledgement whatsoever is made of the fact that all of these animals will be killed long before they even reach full maturity, and that before that final and inescapable injustice, their bodies will have been forcibly mutilated in various ways, their reproduction controlled, their relationship to family members subsumed to the brutal dictates of economics, which typically means that offspring are prematurely taken away, or even immediately sent off and killed when their existence presents an unwanted drain on profits.

But these are all things absent from the video, and being absent, will not trouble the conscience of nearly all who view it. In so many ways, this engaging and impressively persuasive production brings home just how far Mr. Mackey's efforts have progressed. His former "animal compassionate" standards program was aimed at making his customers believe they were being good, kind and "socially responsible" by buying animal products from him. But his new, more intricately constructed program speaks to something even more primal, and perhaps irresistible.
The message now being sent by Mr. Mackey and all the animal advocacy organizations collaborating with him could not be more clear. When we purchase and consume animal products from Whole Foods Market, we are not participating in the exploitation of others, we are not ingesting the products of injustice. Rather, we are eating happiness. The animals are happy. Our buying and eating them supports the system that makes them happy. And the delightful, wholesome, guilt-free taste of their flesh and by-products makes us happy in turn. It is no mistake that so much of the footage depicting the lives of animals on farms associated with Whole Foods bears a striking resemblance to the kind of footage animal sanctuaries show to illustrate their commitment to offering a measure of safety, and yes, happiness to those few lucky enough to have escaped the voracious system of exploitation that consumes the lives of their kind by the billions. As time passes, it is harder and harder for the public to distinguish animal advocates from animal exploiters, and incredibly, animal sanctuaries from farms where countless animals are brought into existence and methodically killed. Such is the hidden power of the modern public relations industry.

KoertAs the promotional video comes to its conclusion, Jerry Koert of Humane Hog Family Farm rhapsodizes on what he appears to believe is the near paradise he's created for the pigs he has bred into existence, and will soon kill:

With the pigs outside, it's unbelievable. They are running around, they are enjoying the sunlight. You'll see them rooting -- I mean, their natural behavior! You can't get any nicer than that! …They're playing, they are running around in a manner -- I'd have to say… they're happy!

It is impossible to deny the disquieting similarity of this deceptive hyperbole to the pro-slavery propaganda Mr. Hochschild brings us from the distant past:

…before Parliament could act, there were lengthy hearings. Witnesses like James Penny, a former captain, made the slaves on the middle passage sound almost like cruise passengers: "If the Weather is sultry, and there appears the least Perspiration upon their Skins, when they come upon Deck, there are Two Men attending with Cloths to rub them perfectly dry, and another to give them a little Cordial... They are then supplied with Pipes and Tobacco.... They are amused with Instruments of Music peculiar to their own country... and when tired of Music and Dancing, they then go to Games of Chance."

GAP signThat those profiting from animal exploitation would concoct an elaborate fa├žade to obscure the true nature of their horrific activities is inevitable. Such PR methods go back hundreds of years in the traditions of mass exploitation. The tragedy in all this is that so many animal advocacy organizations and former animal rights activists are needlessly participating in a charade that the industry would quite enthusiastically carry out on its own. As it is, the Global Animal Partnership's Board of Directors includes, along with Mr. Mackey and a number of other meat industry executives, the CEO of HSUS, the CEO of The World Society for the Protection of Animals, the Chair of Compassion in World Farming, and a consultant for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. One can hardly imagine a more ringing endorsement of the products of exploitation and killing, or a more compelling cause of confusion amongst those many members of the public who have genuine concern for the well being of animals. The problem traces back not just to a philosophical contradiction, or even a strategic blunder, but rather, a widespread breakdown in the practice of public integrity. Are these participating animal advocacy organizations telling the public the truth? In my opinion, they are not.

A Failure of Imagination


What if anti-slavery leaders had, instead of focusing their energies on helping the public understand the inescapable injustice of slavery, held up as visionaries those who designed new and improved slave ships with better ventilation and "stacking densities" low enough that captives could turn around as they lay chained below decks? What if they had publicly partnered with "progressive" slaveholders to develop standards for "humane" slavery and encouraged members of the public concerned about the well-being of enslaved people to purchase sugar from "humane" plantations where the use of rubber-coated whips prevented permanent scarring? As misguided as such activities may seem to us now, are they that different from the kinds of campaigns now being carried out by some of today's most well-funded animal advocacy organizations?

Ladies petitionVast numbers of ordinary folk in 18th and 19th century England were capable of understanding why enslaving other humans was wrong, and of taking action to stop it for reasons of conscience. Why, then, do the leaders and spokespeople of today's dominant animal advocacy organizations actively promote the idea that most people are so incapable of understanding, so devoid of compassion and respect for justice, that a widespread movement of non-participation in animal exploitation is neither possible nor practical?

In a 2009 conference presentation, author and former HSUS staffer Norm Phelps argued that historical anti-slavery activists had many powerful advantages on their side that today's animal advocates simply do not, including the ability to directly collaborate with formerly enslaved people who could offer compelling firsthand testimony of the injustices they both endured and witnessed. Yet today, those of us who wish to awaken public understanding about the plight of other-than-human animals have the advantage of access to technologies that can be used to organize our efforts and to produce and disseminate complex print and video messages on a massive scale, such tools now available to people of ordinary means that even the most privileged justice advocates of previous generations could not imagine, much less hope to possess. The ready availability of these powerful tools has brought with it an emerging global activist culture, which offers the potential to distribute life-changing information to millions of people.

Further, unique to our times and this particular justice cause, animal agriculture is one of the single greatest contributors to the processes now widely understood to be destroying our ecosystem: global warming, overconsumption and pollution of fresh water, soil erosion and deforestation, to name a few. It is projected that by the end of this century, half of the species now alive will vanish forever. On the way to this dismal future, the lives of uncountable individuals, human and other-than-human alike, will be thrust into misery and brought to a premature end. This is the single greatest wake-up call in human history, a four-alarm fire consuming our collective future at an ever-increasing rate.

WorldWatch StudyAs this catastrophic reality impinges on our lives in increasingly obvious ways, the potent combination of conscience and the drive for self-preservation is leading more and more of us to overcome the psychological and social barriers to moral awakening and empowered action, opening the door to what could fairly be called one of the teachable moments of the century. As most recently validated in a Worldwatch Institute report titled Livestock and Climate Change and a United Nations report titled Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production, one of the only courses of action that could conceivably turn the global situation around in time to bring our ecosystem back into balance is the widespread adoption of a diet free of animal products. Yet is it an accident that so few people worldwide are even aware of this potentially ecosystem-saving truth? Have those who have collected the greatest amount of funding and cultivated the most media attention in the name of animal advocacy been drawn into a deadly dance with the animal-exploiting industry, their influence and potential co-opted in service of creating a new and highly profitable market for "humane" animal products, while our ecosystem moves toward collapse before our very eyes?

Given the urgency of our planetary situation, do we really have the time and resources to spend decades on husbandry reform campaigns built around coalitions with animal-exploiting corporations, collaborations that compromise the integrity of animal advocates and confuse the public? Given the blatant injustice experienced by each individual animal who is brought into existence by the industry -- every aspect of his or her life controlled -- and then killed, can any sincere advocate continue to justify promoting to the public alternative "humane" animal products that they themselves would not consume for reasons of ethics?

A Noble Tradition

Why can't we start conceiving of ourselves, and start acting, as advocates working in the social justice tradition rather than as "customers" of advocacy conglomerates whose programs are so often optimized to maximize fundraising potential with little evident concern for the damage done to the foundations of fundamental change? Why not resolve today to walk away from what is so clearly a corporatized advocacy model broken beyond all hope of repair, and instead, apply our time and resources to building a solid foundation for the end of this unjust and ecologically self-destructive way of relating to our fellow beings?
Helping animals now and in the future does not require collaborating with the animal-exploiting industry, misleading the public, promoting "humane" animal products, or otherwise violating our values and trading away the foundations of long-term change. There are far better ways to work for change that we can be confident will help, and not hurt. For example:   goat
  • We can start by helping as many people as possible understand who animals are, why it is morally wrong to use and kill them, and how the solution to numerous public health, social, economic and environmental problems of catastrophic proportions is the widespread adoption of a diet free of animal products.

  • We can work toward bringing an end to the use of animals for food, clothing, research and entertainment, and support the development and widespread adoption of animal-free alternatives to these products and practices.

  • We can relentlessly expose the injustices committed by the animal-using industry and the misleading tactics used by those who enable it.

  • We can rescue and offer sanctuary to animals enduring neglect, abuse, exploitation, or facing premature death.

  • We can oppose the exotic pet trade and the breeding of companion animals, and support the "No Kill" movement.

  • We can protect and restore the habitat of free-living animals and stand up for their right to exist on their own terms.

  • We can be positive role models by striving to live ever more free of participation in the exploitation of others.

  • We can support the efforts of those leading other movements for justice and environmental sanity.

  • We can share with other people uncompromised versions of the same truths that inspire our own efforts to work for change.
Such life-affirming activities speak to what is best in human potential, and are inherently more difficult for those in the animal-exploiting industry to derail, discredit, or co-opt in service of their destructive agenda.

In every era, there have been those who intuitively grasped that oppressing and exploiting others was neither right nor necessary, and that we as human beings can choose another way to be in the world. Both the modern women's movement and some of the initial efforts to advocate for animals were advanced by those first inspired by the anti-slavery movement. Today’s animal advocates face monumental challenges in bringing about the end of socially-sanctioned and legally-protected exploitation and killing. The ills of prejudice, abuse and subjugation run deep in our collective psyche, and overcoming them is never ending work. Yet consider what might be possible if we strive to follow the example of a handful of people whose courage, integrity and vision sparked a global shift in consciousness, inspiring millions to join the effort to bring a terrible injustice to an end, against all odds.

Let's not give up before we even get started.


About the Author
James LaVeck is a documentary producer and co-founder of Tribe of Heart, a non-profit organization that produces award-winning, life-changing films about the journey of awakening conscience, including The Wtiness and Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. He is also a public speaker on issues of critical thinking, social justice, and the essential role of grassroots activism and independent media in maintaining a healthy democracy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Knowledge: John Robbins- We Need to Honor Our Compassion


In this excerpt John Robbins discusses the cruel conditions found in factory farms and encourages us to take a stand for what we value. Recorded at World Vegetarian Day, San Francisco, 2009.


 "The more I learned about the way animals are treated in factory farms, the more frightened I was, because I knew I had to act. I knew I couldn't stay put, I couldn't remain complacent, I couldn't just turn away anymore. There was no place to turn away to. Everywhere I looked I saw it. Everywhere I was I felt it." - John Robbins


Knowledge: National Geographic Discusses Agribusiness

Thank you to National Geographic, David Braun, and Gene Baur for this article originally posted on the National Geographic site on October 13, 2011.


Factory Farming is Not the Best we Have to Offer