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Category Archive: Animal Rights

Here are all the SuperVegan blog posts categorized under Animal Rights. XML

  1. A packed theatre for the premiere of Speciesism: The Movie

    A packed theatre for the premiere of Speciesism: The Movie

    Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of Speciesism: The Movie, the first film by director Mark Devries, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. I attended the event free as press.

    Overall, I will say first and foremost that while this film wasn’t earth-shattering, it was good. There are a lot of really terrible social issue and activist documentaries out there, both in terms of production quality and content, and comparatively Speciesism was better than most when it came to content. It’s definitely a film I would recommend to someone who is curious about animal rights and/or veganism.

    The first half of the film chronicles a young, omnivorous Devries as he seeks to figure out the truth behind factory farming, becoming vegan in the process. He visits factory farms where he is repeatedly turned away, visits the PETA offices, goes to the HSUS headquarters, talks to folks from Mercy for Animals and other well-known animal rights groups, who all basically say similar things: exploiting animals, using factory farming as the prime example, is horrible and we shouldn’t do it. Devries also visits North Carolina, where he documents how hog farms (specifically hog waste lagoons) are destroying the North Carolina ecosystem, which was a specific example that I feel boosted the film’s argument. Overall, the first half of the film may not be especially interesting to vegan folks, because it’s a lot of the same stuff we’ve seen and read about. Yes, these are important things that need to be publicized and included in a movie about speciesism, but as far as entertainment goes, you might be a little bored hearing Ingrid Newkirk say the same things you’ve heard before.

    The second half of the film, however, was what redeemed the first half for me. Devries delve deeper into the ethical and moral arguments about why we value non-human animals less than we do humans. He talked to authors, philosophers, professors, special needs caretakers, Holocaust survivors and people he stopped on the street about how we view human suffering and why as a species we consider non-human animal suffering to be less important. The points made and the conclusion Devries draws are hard to dispute, and he conveys his argument in a compelling way.

    What I liked the most about Devries’ film was that he didn’t focus on the health aspects of veganism, which is a route many recent “vegan documentaries” have taken (I’m looking at you, Forks Over Knives). There was no fat shaming, there were no vegan body builders (actually, there was one, but his purpose was to briefly debunk the protein myth) or moving story about how a large man with high blood pressure was completely transformed after he stopped eating meat. I almost wanted to hug Devries for not including any of that.

    I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with vegan body builders, normal blood pressure or someone choosing to lose weight, but I have a problem with health and weight loss being the primary ways in which many people frame and discuss veganism in order to appeal to non-vegans. Because while I love food (food tastes good), I believe there are more compelling reasons to become vegan.

    There is a brief discussion of food and eating vegan, but the main message being conveyed is that it’s not that hard to adopt a vegan diet and you don’t have to give up many of the foods you enjoy. I feel like when you’re trying to convince people to stop contributing to the exploitation of non-human animals, talking about what you eat on a daily basis is something you should at least mention.

    Overall, if you have the chance, I suggest checking out Speciesism, perhaps with a non-vegan or two.

  2. EndChickensAsKaporos

    The The Alliance to End Chickens as Kapporot has a particularly lovely logo.

    Kapparot, an atonement ritual practiced by some Orthodox Jews in conjunction with Yom Kippur, involvesswinging either a live chicken or a bundle of coins over one’s head three times, symbolically transferring one’s sins to the chicken or coins. The chicken is then slaughtered.” Kapporot is performed with chickens, in large numbers, right here in New York city, particularly in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

    There are activists working to get all Kapparot (also spelled Kaporos, Kaparos, Kaparot, etc.) practitioners to switch to coins, and they need your help! From The Alliance to End Chickens as Kapporot:

    Please join our 4th annual street protest in Brooklyn, NY against the cruel and needless use of chickens in Kaporos rituals. This year we’re renting a “moving lit billboard” – a van with huge images illuminated on the sides and the back.

    Sept 10, 2013, 6 – 8 p.m.
    792 Eastern Parkway, (corner Kingston Ave.), Brooklyn, NY, 11213

    Sept 11, 2013, 6 – 8 p.m.
    502 Ave. P, (corner E. 5th Street), Brooklyn, NY, 11223

    Sept 12, 2013, 6 – 8 p.m.
    792 Eastern Parkway, (corner Kingston Ave.), Brooklyn, NY, 11213

    An activist Hasidic Rabbi has generously provided us with images, including one of himself tenderly holding a rooster, an audio file to BROADCAST FROM THE VAN URGING PRACTITIONERS TO USE MONEY, NOT CHICKENS, and translations of our messages into Hebrew along with English.

    We know it is difficult to attend a demo where animals are suffering and dying in front of us, but as hard as it is for us, it is infinitely harder for the chickens, and we must be there for them and show that we care.

    Please read A Wing and A Prayer for more information about the Kaporos (Kapparot) ritual. Please join us in Brooklyn to let the chickens know we’re there for them.

    They’ve also produced this video featuring Bresov Hasidic rabbi Yonassan Gershom:

    I know this can be a difficult issue for “outsiders” to get involved in. While the systemized abuse of chickens horrifying and immoral, it’s always delicate business criticizing other people’s religious beliefs and practices.  But joining the existing efforts of the Alliance is something we can all do.

    I’ll leave you with some quotes from chicken-abusing Kapparot practitioners:

    NPR “Weekend Edition”: Hecht says waving the chicken isn’t the point of this ritual. “The main part of the service,” he says, “is handing the chicken to the slaughterer and watching the chicken being slaughtered. Because that is where you have an emotional moment, where you say, ‘Oops, you know what? That could have been me.’

    NycFaith’s Blog“Kaparot is absolutely the funniest custom we have, hands down,” said Rabbi Alevsky. “There’s plenty of giggling and laughing going around, and there’s a lot of shrieking, ‘I don’t want to touch it!’ ‘Get it away from me!’” He pauses, before adding, “And the chicken often poops on people. It chooses its targets very carefully.”

    (As an aside, I also feel a dilemma regarding the “solution”; I mean, I don’t think swinging a bag of coins over your head does you any good either. I’m not even sure I believe that symbolic atonement is a positive thing at all, as opposed to specifically addressing the damage caused by bad things we’ve done. Of course I still support the Alliance’s mission, but especially if you are someone who–unlike me–believes in symbolic atonement and not abusing chickens, please join The Alliance in their efforts this year. I can only show up for the chickens; you can show up for the chickens and the spiritual mission.)

  3. Here’s a bucketload of stories from the past month or two that I’d like to share with you. Sorry to be dumping so many at once. I would have preferred to share these with you one at a time as they were published, but life got in the way. But it’s still win-win; I get to clean out my browser tabs, and you get some good stories to read.

    Some of these are newsy, others are feature-y or opinion-y. Some of these stories are were breaking news, but others are notable for being traditionally under-reported animal-interest topics in mainstream venues.  Some are short; some are very, very long. I have not read them all in their entireties yet, but I endorse you checking them out anyway. We may have shared a few of these on Twitter, but most of them have gone totally unnoted by SuperVegan until now. I tried to sort them into rough categories, but some certainly blur the lines.


    Fake Meat


    • Can We See Our Hypocrisy to Animals?” Inspired by the juxtaposition of reviews of Act of Killing and Blackfish, Nick Kristof  wonders “Some day, will our descendants be mystified by how good and decent people in the early 21st century — that’s us — could have been so oblivious to the unethical treatment of animals?” Kristof is one of the best New York Times columnists, and has a lot of journalistic experience with perpetrators of human-on-human violence; this coming from him is a rather big deal. (NYTimes, 7/28/13)
    • That same day, the Times’s Dot Earth blog ran “A Closer Look at ‘Nonhuman Personhood’ and Animal Welfare

    Companion and Farmed Animals


    6,500+ transcribed words likely to incite frustration and despair in the caring reader

  4. Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 9.44.10 PM

    Last we heard, the USDA had trapped hundreds of wild geese in Jamaica Bay for slaughter. Now, they have their sights set of the wild turkeys of Staten Island. Beginning yesterday,the USDA has lured the turkeys to their death using pellets to attract them to large nets, capturing and crating them for removal. GooseWatchNYC and community leader John Mancuso are holding an emergency rally tomorrow at noon to protest the USDA’s cruel actions.

    Where: Seaview Ave and Father Capodanno Blvd., Staten Island (See Map)
    12 PM Noon, Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    If you’re free, please come out and join them.

  5. Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 10.33.30 AMAn interesting new agenda is on the table for the upcoming New York City mayoral election: the carriage horses frequently seen around Central Park and the surrounding midtown streets.

    Central Park is a place of quiet respite for New Yorkers, an iconic wonderland for tourists and home to some 220 carriage horses. When I first came to the city, I didn’t know anything about these horses but it was impossible to miss the sadness in their eyes. It turns out that there are multiple problems with these sensitive creatures working in a raucous city like New York, many of which stem from a lack of enforcement on industry regulations.

    Although there is a mandated maximum of nine consecutive hours allowed for shifts, horses frequently work 12 hour days. Temperature regulations do not take wind chill nor ashphalt surfaces (which can reach 200 F in the summer) into account, so the horses are forced to work in burning heat and freezing cold. After the 3am curfew, they are relegated to a stable on the west side of midtown where conditions have been found to include no hay or bedding, stall floors covered in urine and manure, inadequate ventilation, limited access to water and stacked floors that obstruct escape in case of fire.

    It isn’t only the horses who suffer. Working in these poor conditions, often with injuries or improperly fitted shoes, means that they are liable to become spooked in traffic. There have been at least 18 instances in the last two years where this has ended in both horses and people being injured, and sometimes severely. The law technically prohibits honking when behind a horse but anybody who’s walked the streets of New York knows that this means nothing — everybody honks, and traffic moves fast.

    Continue Reading…