Monthly Archives: August 2015

What uses more water? Almonds or dairy?

Excellent take on the use of water in vegan and meat-eating diets. Definitely worth a glance!

There has been a buzz in the air that almonds are using up quite a bit of California’s water supply (not untrue) and as everyone already knows, California is currently in a drought. So what should we do? Or more specifically, what should California do?

As you all know, I do not consume dairy (for ethical reasons) and I rarely eat soy products, so when I need a milk substitute for baking needs (etc.) I usually turn to non-GMO Almond Milk… which to be clear is also quite rare, a couple times a month maybe!

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God’s Love For Animals

Psalm 147:9:

“He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.”

Luke 12:6:

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.”

Psalm 36:6:

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.”

God pays attention to all the animals of the earth and is merciful to them when it comes to their needs. It is clear that He cares about them individually, leaving us with the conclusion that the Creator loves His creation, all of it. It was all created good, not just humans. But this is all so obvious, is it not? They are His creation- why would He not care about them? It would make sense if He wants for them the same thing that He wants for us, namely that we operate as we were made to, and that we all take pleasure from His universe. In fact, God even demands in Exodus that animals be given a sabbatical alongside of humans.

“Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest” (Exodus 23:12, (ESV)).

And so, if He loves them and watches out for them, should not we also take care of them? Regardless of a creature’s intelligence, we ought to value all sentient life and treat it with respect and dignity as part of our world and as part of the creation of God. This is what God commanded Adam and Eve to do in the Garden of Eden, to be the caretakers of His masterpiece. We’ll talk more about that later.

Solomon wrote one of my favorite passages in the Bible that deals with our treatment of animals. He said that,

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).

Let us repeat that again: “The righteous care for the needs of their animals. But the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” I instantly think of humane slaughter. You know, when someone kills an animal in a nice way. Which of course, there is no such thing: killing is killing no matter how you decorate it and dress it up; underneath all those words that make us comfortable rests the same pool of blood that you see on the floors of slaughter houses. Hidden away by terms like “humane,” “merciful,” or “kind,” lies the same frightened animals, frantically struggling to save their own lives.

There is nothing humane or good about ripping the life from a sentient being any more than there is a humane or good way to molest a child or rape an adult. There is no humane or good slavery, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, ageism, ableism, classism, or any other ‘ism’ you can think of, including speciesism. Any death imposes suffering on a creature, even a “gentle” one.

-Samuel Barger, August 26th, 2015

Daniel’s Resolution

In Daniel 1:8+ we read,

“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine … Then Daniel asked … ‘Let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.’ … At the end of ten days it was observed that they appeared better and fatter than all the young men who had been eating the royal rations.”

We all know the story of Daniel, right? The Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar captures a mass of Israeli males in order to use them in correlation to the Chaldeans. As they enter what I assume to be a training period, he feeds them foods that were, allegedly, the healthiest options available. These foods were fed to armies, as well as Nebuchadnezzar himself. Yet Daniel rejects them, not wanting to “be defiled,” and asks for a probationary period. This was mainly to adhere to the Jewish dietary laws by avoiding foods that were unclean as well as foods that had been offered to the Babylonian gods (Eiselen, 1929). Afterwards, from eating a plant-based diet, Daniel is, not surprisingly, healthier, stronger, and some translations say fatter. This is a crucial aspect of my argument; you do not need animal foods in order to be healthy. Not a single professional nutritionist with claim that it is medically necessary for humans to eat meat. In fact, there are vast numbers of sources that claim just the opposite! Gary L. Francione and Anna Charlton remind us of what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says,

“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes” (Francione, 2013).

Number One Killer

Heart failure and heart attacks are responsible for over 25% of deaths in America today; that is roughly 610,000 people annually. The CDC recommends that you eat foods with little to no cholesterol as one means of preventing this (CDC, 2015). Foods that have high cholesterol counts are milk, cheese, eggs, and meats, including beef, poultry, and fish.

Keep in mind that cholesterol is good for you, however, your body creates its own cholesterol; we don’t need to consume it (Sheve, 2015). Eating the above-mentioned foods raises our risk of having a heart attack by a substantial amount.

Looking at all of this information, I believe that God has supplied all of the nutrients we need in edible plants. Why would He command us to eat in such a way that would leave our bodies deficient or unhealthy? I have no reason to believe He would. Animal products are not a necessary part of human living, and if anything, they stop it short. God knew this when He fashioned us.

Peter’s Vision

This is a big one. According to this common excuse, God shows Peter the Apostle a vision that reveals a large blanket filled with animals. A voice, presumably God’s, commands Peter to kill and eat them, making it seem at first that He encourages animal slaughter. However, when we read in context, we find that this verse tells a different story. Acts 10:11-29, 34-35 (ESV)

“…and [Peter] saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

I feel like this is self-fulfilling in that it does not need any explaining. But Peter’s conclusion of his vision was simple; Neither Jew nor Gentile can be called unclean. If we should listen to anyone about what this vision means, I believe it should be the one to whom the vision was shown. In fact, Peter himself sums what he learned from his sight:

“So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

It may still be pressed that the voice in the vision clearly told Peter to eat animal flesh, and therefore proves God’s desire for us to partake in the theft of life. Yet, if visions were symbolic, why would we believe that there is no deeper meaning behind it? Peter knew there was no way that he would be shown such a powerful sight only to be told to eat some food. I think it’s safe to stick with Peter on this one.

-Samuel Barger, August 26th, 2015

Update on the Book

I made contact with West Bow Press. I am looking for other publishers, so if anyone have any suggestions or recommendations, I would appreciate them, thanks!

Slaughter Procedure

An Excerpt from “Eating Animals”

By Jonathan Safran Foer

“At a typical slaughter facility, cattle are led through a chute into a knocking box — usually a large cylindrical hold through which the head pokes. The stun operator, or “knocker,” presses a large pneumatic gun between the cow’s eyes. A steel bolt shoots into the cow’s skull and then retracts back into the gun, usually rendering the animal unconscious or causing death. Sometimes the bolt only dazes the animal, which either remains conscious or later wakes up as it is being “processed.” The effectiveness of the knocking gun depends on its manufacture and maintenance, and the skill of its application — a small hose leak or firing the gun before pressure sufficiently builds up again can reduce the force with which the bolt is released and leave animals grotesquely punctured but painfully conscious. The effectiveness of knocking is also reduced because some plant managers believe that animals can become “too dead” and therefore, because their hearts are not pumping, bleed out too slowly or insufficiently. (It’s “important” for plants to have a quick bleed-out time for basic efficiency and because blood left in the meat promotes bacterial growth and reduces shelf life.)

As a result, some plants deliberately choose less-effective knocking methods. The side effect is that a higher percentage of animals require multiple knocks, remain conscious, or wake up in processing. No jokes here, and no turning away. Let’s say what we mean: animals are bled, skinned, and dismembered while conscious. It happens all the time, and the industry and the government know it. Several plants cited for bleeding or skinning or dismembering live animals have defended their actions as common in the industry and asked, perhaps rightly, why they were being singled out. When Temple Grandin conducted an industrywide audit in 1996, her studies revealed that the vast majority of cattle slaughterhouses were unable to regularly render cattle unconscious with a single blow. The USDA, the federal agency charged with enforcing humane slaughter, responded to these numbers not by stepping up enforcement, but by changing its policy to cease tracking the number of humane slaughter violations and removing any mention of humane slaughter from its list of rotating tasks for inspectors. The situation has improved since then, which Grandin attributes largely to audits demanded by fast-food companies (which these companies demanded after being targeted by animal rights groups) but remains disturbing. Grandin’s most recent estimates — which optimistically rely on data from announced audits — still found one in four cattle slaughterhouses unable to reliably render animals unconscious on the first blow. For smaller facilities, there are virtually no statistics available, and experts agree that these slaughterhouses can be significantly worse in their treatment of cattle. No one is spotless.

Cattle at the far end of the lines leading to the kill floor do not appear to understand what’s coming, but if they survive the first knock, they sure as hell appear to know they are fighting for their lives. Recalls one worker, “Their heads are up in the air; they’re looking around, trying to hide. They’ve already been hit before by this thing, and they’re not going to let it get at them again.” The combination of line speeds that have increased as much as 800 percent in the past hundred years and poorly trained workers laboring under nightmarish conditions guarantees mistakes. (Slaughterhouse workers have the highest injury rate of any job — 27 percent annually — and receive low pay to kill as many as 2,050 cattle a shift.)

Temple Grandin has argued that ordinary people can become sadistic from the dehumanizing work of constant slaughter. This is a persistent problem, she reports, that management must guard against. Sometimes animals are not knocked at all. At one plant, a secret video was made by workers (not animal activists) and given to the Washington Post. The tape revealed conscious animals going down the processing line, and an incident where an electric prod was jammed into a steer’s mouth. According to the Post, “More than twenty workers signed affidavits alleging that the violations shown on the tape are commonplace and that supervisors are aware of them.” In one affidavit, a worker explained, “I’ve seen thousands and thousands of cows go through the slaughter process alive. . . . The cows can get seven minutes down the line and still be alive. I’ve been in the side puller where they’re still alive. All the hide is stripped out down the neck there.” And when workers who complain are listened to at all, they often get fired. “I’d come home and be in a bad mood. . . . Go right downstairs and go to sleep. Yell at the kids, stuff like that. One time I got really upset — [my wife] knows about this. A three-year-old heifer was walking up through the kill alley. And she was having a calf right there, it was half in and half out. I knew she was going to die, so I pulled the calf out. Wow, did my boss get mad. . . . They call these calves “slunks.” They use the blood for cancer research. And he wanted that calf. What they usually do is when the cow’s guts fall onto the gut table, the workers go along and rip the uterus open and pull these calves out. It’s nothing to have a cow hanging up in front of you and see the calf inside kicking, trying to get out. . . . My boss wanted that calf, but I sent it back down to the stockyards. . . . [I complained] to the foremen, the inspectors, the kill floor superintendent. Even the superintendent over at the beef division. We had a long talk one day in the cafeteria about this crap that was going on. I’ve gotten so mad, some days I’d go and pound on the wall because they won’t do anything about it. . . . I’ve never seen a [USDA] vet near the knocking pen. Nobody wants to come back there. See, I’m an ex-Marine. The blood and guts don’t bother me. It’s the inhumane treatment. There’s just so much of it.”

In twelve seconds or less, the knocked cow — unconscious, semiconscious, fully conscious, or dead — moves down the line to arrive at the “shackler,” who attaches a chain around one of the hind legs and hoists the animal into the air. From the shackler, the animal, now dangling from a leg, is mechanically moved to a “sticker,” who cuts the carotid arteries and a jugular vein in the neck. The animal is again mechanically moved to a “bleed rail” and drained of blood for several minutes. A cow has in the neighborhood of five and a half gallons of blood, so this takes some time. Cutting the flow of blood to the animal’s brain will kill it, but not instantly (which is why the animals are supposed to be unconscious). If the animal is partially conscious or improperly cut, this can restrict the flow of blood, prolonging consciousness further. “They’d be blinking and stretching their necks from side to side, looking around, really frantic,” explained one line worker. The cow should now be carcass, which will move along the line to a “head-skinner,” which is exactly what it sounds like — a stop where the skin is peeled off the head of the animal. The percentage of cattle still conscious at this stage is low but not zero. At some plants it is a regular problem — so much so that there are informal standards about how to deal with these animals. Explains a worker familiar with such practices, “A lot of times the skinner finds out an animal is still conscious when he slices the side of its head and it starts kicking wildly. If that happens, or if a cow is already kicking when it arrives at their station, the skinners shove a knife into the back of its head to cut the spinal cord.”

This practice, it turns out, immobilizes the animal but does not render it insensible. I can’t tell you how many animals this happens to, as no one is allowed to properly investigate. We only know that it is an inevitable by-product of the present slaughter system and that it will continue to happen. After the head-skinner, the carcass (or cow) proceeds to the “leggers,” who cut off the lower portions of the animal’s legs. “As far as the ones that come back to life,” says a line worker, “it looks like they’re trying to climb the walls. . . . And when they get to the leggers, well, the leggers don’t want to wait to start working on the cow until somebody gets down there to reknock it. So they just cut off the bottom part of the leg with the clippers. When they do that, the cattle go wild, just kicking in every direction.” The animal then proceeds to be completely skinned, eviscerated, and cut in half, at which point it finally looks like the stereotyped image of beef — hanging in freezers with eerie stillness.”


Jonathan Safran Foer. Eating Animals. Back Bay Books. 2009. Print.