Another Cause Championed By Charlie

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From the in-tray’s most frequent and passionate advocate of animal rights:

I give Charlie Hebdo the benefit of the doubt on allegations of racism and any other accusation of lack of compassion. Why? Because it has shown more compassion than virtually everyone else in the world when it came to the abuse of the most defenseless individuals: “Charlie Hebdo is the only French newspaper that dedicates a weekly column to animal rights, tackling issues such as bullfighting and foie gras.”

One example above. Nine more here.

Painless Meat? Ctd

by Dish Staff

On the question, a reader points to a troubling trade-off:

It is surely theoretically possible to produce meat, eggs, and dairy with far less cruelty. In fact, we could hardly do it more cruelly than we currently do. But is is a fantasy and always will be. Raising animals for food is one of the most environmentally destructive things humans do. Doing so less cruelly would significantly increase its environmental footprint.

To consider just one of many factors, animals confined so tightly that they can hardly move burn many fewer calories than animals that are free to move about. Permitting them more movement would increase the need for feed crops. Growing crops to feed animals instead of humans directly is outrageously inefficient (animals are food factories in reverse) and requires vast amounts of fossil-fuel fertilizer. The fertilizer run-off is creating dead zones in the oceans of the world that are huge and growing. Feed crop production already uses about one-third of the Earth’s arable land and an out-sized proportion of its fresh water. Livestock operations are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity.

I could go on and on, and most of these problems become worse in the dreamland of “painless meat.” The upshot is that while we are waiting for this fantasy world to arrive, we should be eating plants.

Another takes a very different approach:

You want locally produced, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, free-range, grass-feed meat raised in the most natural way possible? Get a gun and shoot a deer.  Deer are so overpopulated in many parts of the country you will be doing the environment a favor. I recommend one of these rifles.

The 300 blackout round is a larger bullet in the same package as the standard NATO round, so it’s still effective against dear while being a lighter gun that is easily accessorized with any doodad you might need.  (You may hear from some old timers that still love their Elmer Fudd walnut stocked bolt action rifles, but then you’d just be listening to the same people that will tell you how reliable old rotary phones were).  You will have to get a five-round clip, however, as many states don’t let you hunt with a larger clip, though honestly you don’t need a larger clip to hunt deer.

On the other hand if you want to hunt wild pigs, I’d still stick with the 300 blackout round but you will need a larger clip, at least if you want to help cut down on the wild pig problem, and believe me they are a menace.  (You want to take out more than one pig at a time, while deer you only want on at a time).

Another testifies:

After the Agriprocessors kosher meat scandal back in 2008, our family decided we couldn’t eat meat any more unless we could find kosher meat that was raised and slaughtered in a humane manner.  Yes, it’s a big compromise on price, which does impact the quantity of meat we eat, but the quality of the meat has increased dramatically. For those who can afford to buy this kind of product even once in awhile, it’s worth a try. The non-kosher equivalent will certainly be cheaper, but a shout-out to kolfoods.com for their transparency and hard work in making it possible to “feel good about the meat you eat”.

Elsewhere on the subject of animal cruelty, our first reader wrote yesterday:

There is good news on a topic the Dish has covered here, here, here, and here:

SeaWorld Entertainment has mimicked its beloved performing whale, Shamu, taking a deep dive: its stock plunged as much as 35% after the company posted ugly second-quarter results and lowered revenue forecasts for the full year. . . . CEO Jim Atchison attributed the weak results to animal rights campaigns and negative media attention. The company, which has 11 US theme parks including three SeaWorlds and two Busch Gardens, has come under close scrutiny over the treatment of its killer whales. …

The activists have gotten help from politicians and the media. Blackfish, a widely watched 2013 documentary on the lives of performing killer whales, sparked debate about the ethicality of attending theme parks like SeaWorld after it aired on CNN. In March, the film’s director stood alongside a California assemblyman who proposed legislation to outlaw killer whale entertainment performances and captive breeding programs.

Has The Animal-Rights Movement Overlooked Fish? Ctd

A reader lends his expertise to the question:

I’m a marine fisheries biologist who just returned from a research trip on a commercial fishing vessel in the Gulf of Maine. I have tremendous respect for the intelligence of fish; they are smarter than most can think, and Culum Brown overlooks some research that shows fish can remember information for more than a year.  I do have some doubts over whether they feel pain, but I am convinced they can suffer.

That said, if one chooses to eat animal protein, then fish may be the most moral choice.

Wild fish are born and live in their natural environment. They are unconfined, eat natural prey, and managed in most places so that they can reproduce at least once in their lifetimes. Depending on the fishing method, during capture they may experience fatigue, crowding and surprise, among other emotions. In my long experience, only in some trawl fisheries are they crushed. Most or many fish brought to the surface are still alive. Once on deck, most suffocate because they cannot acquire oxygen from the air, but the experience has been theorized by some to be like falling asleep would be for humans. Although I’m no expert on the slaughter of pigs, cattle, or chickens, I would assume that fish suffer less than domesticated animals, over the course of their lives.

Fish provide important sources of protein around the world. I presume eliminating or reducing consumption of fish in favor of a vegetarian diet may place more pressure on limited arable land, leading to clearing that would kill or eliminate habitat for terrestrial animals. All the choices are bad, but eating wild fish may be one of the least bad choices.

Another notes:

PETA has not overlooked fish. Watch its video starring Joaquin Phoenix here.

In the food industry, the killing of marine animals far outnumbers the killing of all other beings. One very conservative estimate is 90 billion (yes, with a “B”) individuals killed per year. Check out the kill counter here, and watch the comparative numbers grow before your eyes.

Has The Animal-Rights Movement Overlooked Fish?

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Biologist Culum Brown suggests so:

Every major commercial agricultural system has some ethical laws, except for fish. Nobody’s ever asked the questions: “What does a fish want? What does a fish need?” Part of the problem comes back to the question of whether fish feel pain. But for the last 30 years, the neurophysiologists have known that they do, and haven’t even argued about it. …

I think, ultimately, the revolution will come. But it’ll be slow, because the implications are huge. For example, I can’t think of a way to possibly catch fish from the open ocean in a massive commercial way to meet demand that would be anyway near our standards for ethics if we think of them like other animals. Currently, you go out, you catch a bunch of fish, you crush most of them to death in a net, you trawl them up from the bottom of the sea – which causes barotrauma for most of them – you dump them on a deck, half suffocate to death, the ones you don’t want get thrown overboard and die anyway, and the ones you keep go on ice, just to preserve the flesh for market reasons.

How do you do that in a way that has the fish’s interests involved to any degree? You can’t. So it’s not surprising that there is some fierce opposition to this idea. It would mean a massive change in the way we do things.

(Photo of Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market by Flickr user Cranrob)