31 January 2007

Canis Lupus

Here is a New York Times editorial opinion about the wolf. When I was in law school, many years ago, I wrote a lengthy term paper entitled "The Legal Status of the Wolf (Canis Lupus) in Michigan, 1805-1982" for a graduate history course I was taking. A copy of the paper was deposited with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in East Lansing, where I did much of my research, but it has never been published. Would anyone be interested in reading it? If so, I can scan, upload, and link to it in this blog.

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

An addendum should be made to your editorial’s point that all horses deserve the “generosity of conscience” that was expended to save Barbaro.

Just days before Barbaro was humanely put down, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act was reintroduced in Congress. In an incredible juxtaposition to the fanfare of Barbaro, more than 100,000 horses were slaughtered last year in the United States and shipped to Europe and Japan for human consumption.

Each one of these animals suffered extreme cruel and inhumane conditions in the transportation and slaughter process.

Surely a nation and a national press that can expend so much attention on the life and death of one racehorse should be able to muster the compassion to pass legislation that would end this cruelty.

Brad Goldberg
Animal Welfare Advocacy
Mamaroneck, N.Y., Jan. 30, 2007

30 January 2007


It's a sad day for horse lovers. Barbaro, the magnificent thoroughbred who broke his leg two weeks after winning the 2006 Kentucky Derby (I watched both races live), was put to death after taking a turn for the worse in his recovery. See here for the New York Times story. Barbaro's killing is a case of euthanasia. The word "euthanasia" means good, gentle, or easy (eu) death (thanos). It may sound odd that there could be a good, gentle, or easy death, since death destroys the possibility of enjoyments, activities, projects, and experiences, which give our lives value and meaning; but if one's life is racked with pain and there is little or no prospect of recovery, death can seem, and be, preferable. The paradigm case of euthanasia is where a sentient being is terminally ill, will die soon anyway, and is in great pain. Death is a release or escape from this predicament. Euthanasia is often called mercy killing, for obvious reasons: Its motive is mercy. It is done for the sake of the being who is killed, rather than for the sake of some other being or beings or of society generally.

You've probably heard the word "euthanasia" applied to dog pounds. But this is inappropriate. Many or most of the dogs who are put to death in pounds are perfectly healthy. They are not terminally ill; they will not die soon anyway; and they are not in pain, much less in great pain. They are killed not for their sake but because society is unwilling to provide for them. (Don't confuse society with government. This is not a call for greater taxation, which is coercive and therefore presumptively wrong.) I'm not saying it's wrong to put such animals to death. That's a debatable issue. I'm saying that, if we do put them to death, we shouldn't call it euthanasia, for that implies something false, namely, that the killing is done for the sake of the animal. It's convenience killing, not mercy killing. How would you like to be killed out of convenience to others?

28 January 2007


Here is a lengthy but interesting New York Times story about food. Pay particular attention to the role played by the beef, pork, poultry, egg, and dairy industries, which have a vested interest in keeping people ignorant not only of what they eat but of how it was produced. This is not to excuse consumers, for they have an obligation to acquire information about the foods they eat. With the Internet, it has never been easier to obtain such information. Some ignorance is culpable, after all. Just because there are powerful agents out there who try to keep us ignorant doesn't mean we're not responsible, ultimately, for our choices. We're agents, not patients. We act; we're not merely acted upon.

Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Journal

This journal should be of interest to readers of this blog.

26 January 2007


What do you think of this? It might be argued that any decrease in suffering for farmed animals is good, morally speaking. But does giving pigs more room change the way they are viewed? Indeed, doesn't it entrench the idea that they are resources for human use? Imagine arguing not that human chattel slavery ought to be abolished, but that it ought to be reformed so as to inflict less suffering on the slaves. Someone might argue that there is no incompatibility between (1) working to decrease animal suffering and (2) working toward the abolition of factory farming. But doesn't decreasing animal suffering make abolition less likely?

25 January 2007


Make of this what you will.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?

As many of you know, I despise PETA. It does a great deal of harm to animals. See here for one example. With friends like PETA, animals don't need enemies.

Think Vegan Food Must Be Boring and Bland? Think Again!

Most people are shocked and appalled when they first read descriptions of factory farming and learn about the horribly inhumane conditions in which the billions of animals destined for dinner tables are raised, and they are even more appalled when they first see documentary footage of the institutional cruelties inherent in factory farming. And appalled they should be. Animals raised in factory farms are treated so horribly that only a person devoid of sympathetic understanding could fail to be outraged by the unnecessary suffering these animals are forced to endure. Many of those who are appalled by factory farm conditions admit that it is wrong to raise animals in such inhumane conditions and think that they themselves ought not support factory farms with their purchases; and yet, when they contemplate becoming vegan, they picture an austere, ascetic existence devoid of one of life's greatest pleasures: delicious, savory, hearty meals. As much as these individuals would like to do the right thing and stop supporting factory farms with their purchases, they think the sacrifice is just too great. This reaction is due largely to a lack of imagination. People who have eaten meat and dairy products their entire lives, often simply can't imagine what vegans eat. They mistakenly think that vegans live off of salads and twigs and seeds and perhaps an occasional block of plain tofu; when, in fact, vegans eat delicious soups and stews and casseroles and nutloafs and pasta dishes and burritos and curries and hummus- or falafel-filled pitas and pesto pizzas and French toast and pancakes and sandwiches, etc.

Vegan chefs Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are doing their part to put an end to the misconception that vegan cuisine is boring and bland. Moskowitz and Romero are featured in this New York Times article, which highlights their efforts to show people just how easy and fun it is to create sumptuous vegan meals. Their latest effort is their co-authored book The Vegan Joy of Cooking, due out this fall. In the meantime, those looking for delicious vegan recipes should check out Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance and Moskowitz and Romero's first co-authored cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, the latter of which is proof that vegan baked goods can rival, if not surpass, traditional baked goods.

Speaking of vegan cuisine, now that the chill of winter has finally settled in across much of the Northern Hemisphere, imagine how comforting and delectable it would be to sit down to a hot bowl of Spicy Peanut Stew with Ginger, Tomatoes, Zucchini and Eggplant. You'll find Romero's recipe for this savory stew in the left sidebar of the New York Times article linked to above. Looking for a succulent appetizer to accompany the peanut stew? How about Moskowitz’s Butternut Squash Rice Paper Rolls with Asian Dipping Sauce? You’ll find a link to Moskowitz’s recipe for this delicious dish in the New York Times article, as well. If you give these recipes a try, your very last reason for continuing to consume animal products and thereby continuing to support factory farms—taste—just might fall by the wayside.

Still skeptical about how tasty vegan fare can be? Check out Moskowitz and Romero’s website Post Punk Kitchen, where you can watch streaming videos of their cable cooking show by the same name. [Watch out Emeril! Your days are numbered.] On the left sidebar of the Post Punk Kitchen site, you’ll find links to recipes. Click on the link for "Course/Dish" recipes, and you'll find recipes for such tantalizing dishes as:

Ancho Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple

Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup with Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms

Vegan Sushi

Mango Ginger Tofu

Basel Mint Pesto

Salsa Verde

Asparagus Risotto

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

Garlic, Olive, and Tomato Pasta

Sweet and Spicy Barbequed Tempeh with Peppers

Pumpkin, Banana, and Chickpea Curry

Coconut Chickpea Soup with Tomato Chunks and Fried Cumin

Curried Carrot Bisque

Spanish Black Bean Soup

Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

These are just a smattering of the mouthwatering recipes you’ll find at Post Punk Kitchen. After sampling some of these recipes, you’ll soon discover that vegans are hardly culinary ascetics; culinary Epicureans or sybarites is much more like it.

Bon Appetit!

24 January 2007

High Plains Drifts

There's a whole lot o' sufferin' goin' on in Colorado. See here. Concern for the calves is not for their sake, but for the sake of profits.

23 January 2007

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

I am writing to request a copy of "Simplifying the Case for Vegetarianism." Also I would like to recommend this essay by David DeGrazia to your readers. This is one of the best essays I have read on the subject of animal ethics. It is similar to Mylan Engel's essay "The Immorality of Eating Meat" because it is not dependent on any normative ethical theory or any controversial claim to animal equality, but simply shows that if we take animals seriously at all we should not eat animal products (or at least not those produced in factory farms).

Thanks in advance for the essay.


21 January 2007

His Beef with Vegetarianism

Here is an essay from The Nation, which bills itself as "a progressive journal." The author, Daniel Lazare, is hostile to vegetarianism. Why is it that so many progressives think it's silly to accord moral status to animals? Then again, progressives think abortion is merely a medical procedure, devoid of moral significance. In fact, as anyone with any sense knows, it destroys human life, depriving fetuses of activities, experiences, projects, and enjoyments. So much for progressives being concerned about the vulnerable. Those of you who care about animals might want to join Matthew Scully and me on the conservative side.

Health Benefits of Canine Companions

According to this BBC news story, people with canine companions have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol and tend "in general to be healthier than the average member of the population." More ethical synergy at work. Sharing our lives with animal companions benefits us as much as the animals. If you haven't already done so, perhaps it's time you rescued a shelter dog.

From the Mailbag


I'll tell you what's "too hard" . . .

Working 18 hour days 7 days a week in subzero blizzard conditions to care for our rescued victims of animal agriculture . . . to bear witness—first hand—to the abject suffering and deaths of individual farmed animals who have been assaulted throughout their entire lives by over 99% of the human population . . . to find hope and provide reparations for the survivors through round-the-clock care and personal sacrifice . . . to constantly create, develop, and implement unique, compelling, and effective education and outreach tools intended to advocate for the billions more who are not in our direct and daily care . . . to do all of this with an all volunteer group of dedicated and selfless people who give of themselves every single day and ask nothing in return except for everyone else to simply do their part—whatever that may be—to abolish their support of farmed animal exploitation, use, and murder.

So, if clicking on the forward button of an email, or cutting and pasting some or all of the text of an email, in order to possibly help billions of farmed animals is "too hard" for you; I think you need to re-examine your motives and goals.


Note from KBJ: This is the letter I received after telling Michele that she should provide a link in her e-mail updates.

20 January 2007

Animal Companions

Here are three paragraphs from a recent essay by Roger Scruton:
As I suggested, science provides authority for this weird morality only when clothed in moral doctrine. The sleight of hand that gave us the “selfish” gene gives us the rights of baboons. By disguising anthropomorphic (in other words, pre-scientific) ways of thinking as science, Wise rediscovers the enchanted world of childhood, in which animals live as Beatrix Potter describes them, in an Eden where “every prospect pleases, and only man is vile.” By abusing evolutionary biology in this way, we are able to read back the sophisticated conduct of people into the animal behavior that prefigures it.

But this means that the apes appeal to animal-rights activists for precisely the wrong reason—namely, that they look like people and behave like people, while making no moral demands. The apes are re-made as versions of ourselves, purged of the guilt that comes from the attempt to lead the life to which we, as moral beings, are condemned: the life of judgment. Nothing impedes our sympathy for the chimpanzee and the bonobo, since their lives are blameless. It is not that they do no wrong, but that “right” and “wrong” here make no sense.

And that explains, in part, the appeal of the animal-rights movement. It shifts the focus away from moral beings toward creatures in every respect less demanding—creatures like dogs, which return our affection regardless of our merits, or cats, which maintain an amiable pretense of affection while caring for no one at all (a fact always vehemently and fruitlessly denied by their keepers). The world of animals is a world without judgment, where embarrassment, remorse, guilt, and penitence are unknown, and where human beings can escape from the burden of moral emotions. In another way, therefore, those who tell us that we have no special place in the scheme of things create a place for us that is just as special. By focusing our human attitudes on animals, we are playing at God, standing always apart from and above our victims, smiling down on their innocent ways, removed from the possibility of judgment ourselves, and, in our exaltation, imagining that we confer the greatest benefit on those whom we patronize.
Scruton appears to be saying that it’s selfish, or self-indulgent, to live with, love, and provide for dogs, cats, birds, and other animals. They, unlike human beings, “return our affection regardless of our merits.” They’re comparatively undemanding. They put less weight on our “moral emotions,” such as embarrassment, remorse, guilt, and penitence. To live with a human being is hard; to live with a mere animal is easy. The implication is that some of us want to take the easy way out. Scruton has said similar things about masturbation. It is, he says, a way of gaining sexual gratification without having to deal with another human being. Choosing to live with animals rather than humans is a kind of masturbation: all pleasure, no responsibility.

With all due respect to Scruton, whose work in political philosophy I admire, he has it exactly backward. Those of us who live with, love, and provide for animals have no expectation of reciprocity, for we know that none is forthcoming. My canine companions, Sophie and Shelbie, will never provide for me in my old age. They will never jump in the car to pick me up when my automobile won’t start, or when I’m in an accident. They can’t lend me money, heal me when I’m injured or sick, console me with words, cook my meals, or defend me from critics. My children can do all these things and more. So who’s selfish: those who produce children or those who care for animals?

Scruton makes it seem as though living with animals is an indulgence—or worse, a symptom of psychopathy. It’s more accurate to say that it’s an imposition—one that we willingly and happily bear for the sake of our companions. We do it out of love, not because we expect or hope to gain anything tangible from it. I’m not saying that people have children (or befriend others) only for instrumental reasons; but in fact both children and friends are in a position to reciprocate, and we know it. Animals are not. Who, then, is being self-indulgent: those of us who love with no expectation of reciprocity, or those who love with an expectation of reciprocity? One wonders whether Scruton has ever lived with—taken responsibility for—an animal. We know that he hunts and kills them for pleasure and entertainment; but has he lived with one? Perhaps if he did, he wouldn’t say such foolish things.

17 January 2007

From the Mailbag

Thank you for sending me the articles . . . I enjoy your website a lot.

I have been working in the animal movement for several decades on 2 continents, and have been vegetarian for nearly 40 years and vegan for 25 of those years.

Alley Cat Rescue serves vegan food at our gatherings, and encourages all groups that work with cats and dogs to do the same. ACR is especially concerned with the way so-called "pest," "alien," and "exotic" animals are treated.

thanks again

Alley Cat Rescue Inc
ACR has neutered 20,000 cats!

16 January 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Uncruel Beauty” (Thursday Styles, Jan. 11), about vegan-friendly fashion: Not only is it chic to wear fashion that has some conscience and imagination to it, but there also is a marvelous inner feeling of knowing that one is not using one’s clothing to wage a war on nature.

Some day it will be the ultimate in chic to be a compassionate consumer. Those who continue to abuse every animal and natural resource for their own pleasures will come to represent the ugly.

Kat McAfee
Princeton, N.J., Jan. 12, 2007

Note from KBJ: You are what you wear.

Monster Bunnies

See here.

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

I'd like to request a copy of the essay "Simplifying the Case for Vegetarianism" that you praised on your webpage (12 Jan 2007). I also want to take the opportunity to say how much I enjoy reading the excellent insights/arguments/links etc that you've included on Animal Ethics over the years.

Many thanks—with all good wishes, Richard

Dr. Richard J White
Faculty of Development and Society
Sheffield Hallam University
City Campus
Howard Street
Sheffield S1 1WB

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “100 Years Later, the Food Industry Is Still ‘The Jungle,’” by Adam Cohen (Editorial Observer, Jan. 2): Yes, 100 years ago Upton Sinclair wrote a book about the plight of the immigrant and focused in part on the meat industry. But 100 years later, our industry has been transformed and our meat supply is among the safest, most abundant and certainly the most affordable anywhere in the world.

Today, Department of Agriculture inspectors are present in meatpacking plants continuously and are empowered to prevent any product that does not meet federal standards from entering commerce.

This inspection oversight, which is more intense than in any other industry, has not been reduced.

Today’s meat plants operate in carefully controlled, high-tech environments that approach operating-room levels of sanitation. Bacteria levels on fresh meat products are at the lowest levels in history, according to U.S.D.A. data.

Since 1999, the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef samples tested by the Agriculture Department has declined by 80 percent to a fraction of a percent, a level once thought impossible.

J. Patrick Boyle
President and Chief Executive
American Meat Institute
Washington, Jan. 5, 2007

15 January 2007

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

I'm writing to request a copy of Andrew Tardiff's essay "Simplifying the Case for Vegetarianism."

If you'll indulge me I would like to compliment you on your blog. It is at the top of my list of "daily reads." I'm happy Mylan has become a regular contributor too. I've been an ethical vegan for 12 years; for me it was a straightforward transition. Once I put two and two together and realized where my food came from and the moral inconsistency of it all there was no turning back. My only question was, what the heck was I thinking before this realization? I have recently decided my veganism, in and of itself, was not enough. I must advocate on behalf of the animals in other ways. Animal Ethics helps me formalize my position so I can be a more effective advocate. I'm sure your blog helps many people contemplating vegetarianism/veganism. However, it plays a different role for people like me. The best way for me to explain it is with an analogy. You see, many (not all) great athletes make very poor coaches. The reason for this is their talents come naturally to them. They really don't know how to teach this to others. Now I am not implying any greatness on my part. However, I am saying that the transition to veganism was completely natural and took little or no pondering on my part once I knew the truth about animal exploitation. My temptation when dealing with others was to simply say, "hey look this is what modern factory farming is all about," and voila people would make the change. Well, as I am sure you know, it does not work that way. Many people need more coaching to help them along the way. Animal Ethics has helped me become a better coach. Thanks again and keep up the good work.


12 January 2007

Moral Vegetarianism

If you'd like to read Andrew Tardiff's 1996 essay "Simplifying the Case for Vegetarianism," write to me (by clicking "Contact" in the sidebar) and I'll send a copy. The essay is fabulous.

09 January 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

It’s good to know that Verlyn Klinkenborg is among those of us who stop to help tortoises on their way on a busy road (“Edges and Order,” The Rural Life, Jan. 1).

I have done that, and afterward felt at least virtuous if not godlike. But not long ago on a lonely road in northern Connecticut, I stopped to administer similar compassion, only to be stoutly rebuffed by a vicious snapping turtle that refused to be helped. I confess that I felt a certain animosity toward the reptile, and have yet to decide whether I will help his or her cousins in the future.

Robert Longley
Salisbury, Conn., Jan. 2, 2007

An American Philosopher

Here is a website that is devoted to the career of Tom Regan.

08 January 2007


Here is the story of Celeste.

The Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive

Here is a resource for anyone who is doing research on, or is merely interested in, animal rights. Tom Regan is one of the founders of the modern animal-rights movement. I will add the site to the blogroll.

07 January 2007

Empty Cages

Here is a website that contains much useful information about animal ethics. I'm not sure what relation it bears to Tom Regan, the philosopher from North Carolina State University. It appears to be organized around Regan's book Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights.

06 January 2007

You Might Be a Terrorist!

Here is an excellent article by Gayle Dean on the Bush Administration's excessive use of the rhetoric of terror, especially as it is being selectively applied to animal rights advocates. For more on how the rhetoric of terror is being used to restrict the rights of animal advocates so as to protect the profits of animal abusers, see my earlier post here. When the government deems law-abiding citizens working to bring about justice for all "terrorists" in order to protect the profits of corporate animal abusers, we should all be afraid. That time is now.

Why Clone at All?

See here.

05 January 2007

Culture and Animals Foundation

Here is a website that should be of interest (and use) to readers of this blog. I will add it to the blogroll.

03 January 2007

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

Farm Sanctuary’s Farm Animal Forum will be here before we know it! Would you be interested in helping us promote this event by posting the notice below?

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thank you so much,

Wendy Hankle
Farm Sanctuary, Communications Assistant
607-583-2225 x 250

Farm Sanctuary’s Farm Animal Forum
April 29, 2007
National Constitution Center
525 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA

Find out how you can become an active participant in national efforts to protect farm animals from abuse at this one-day conference. Designed to raise awareness about current farm animal issues and campaigns, this unique event offers educational opportunities for activists of all experience levels.

Registration information

Call 607-583-2225 ext. 221 to make a reservation or visit www.farmsanctuary.org. Cost is $45 per person by April 6; $50 per person after April 6. Students with valid college identification pay $35. All reservations are required by April 20. Registration fee includes a catered vegan lunch.

02 January 2007

Fish Farming

Here is a New York Times story about fish farming—in the Israeli desert! According to the story, "Fish farming . . . has become more lucrative worldwide as people seek more fish in their diet for better health, and ocean fisheries increasingly are being depleted."

Mylan Makes It Big!

My illustrious co-blogger Mylan Engel is moving up in the world. He now has his very own Wikipedia entry! See here.

01 January 2007

December Statistics

We had another good month here at Animal Ethics, as far as readership is concerned. Here is a graph showing monthly readership since the blog began on 28 November 2003 (click the graph to enlarge it):

There were 2,296 visitors during December, which is an average of 74.0 per day. There were 2,325 visitors during November (an average of 77.5 per day), which had one fewer day but also fewer holidays, which depress readership. Thanks for visiting. We hope you come back on a regular basis. If you have a blog of your own and can link to this one (or add it to your blogroll), please do.