27 April 2007

From the Mailbag

Good morning professor [KBJ]

I hope all is well. I wrote to you about a year ago to inform you of my decision to stop eating meat. At the time you advised that I should do so slowly, rather than just stopping one day. At the time, I decided to continue eating fish, just to make sure that I wouldn't crave too much. It was helpful to keep me sane.

A year later, I want to say that I have been very successful. I have eaten meat 1 time in 1 year, by accident. In May, I ordered some dirty rice and ate it on reflex, only realizing what I had done about 3/4 of the way through (at which time I stopped). Since then not a piece of land-animal has gone into my mouth on purpose, and rarely by accident (I have, I am sure, eaten some by product, such as gelatin, inadvertently, though I read ingredients on everything I eat now). I have also stopped eating fish for the most part, though on occasion the craving is unbearable, likely because I have not found a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know as a testament—I had lived 22 years on a nearly carnivorous diet, and I can't imagine anyone less likely to do so. However, I certainly feel an air of accomplishment in altering my diet—it is fulfilling to know that I have made an ethical decision as a result of reason and not simply because it 'feels right.'


25 April 2007

Does Your Dog Love You?

Ever wonder whether your dog loves you? If you want to find out, then study his/her tail wag. According to a recent study published in the March 20 issue of Current Biology, when dogs feel fundamentally positive about someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. More information about the study and asymmetric tail-wagging responses can be found in this New York Times article.

Foie Gras

Here is a New York Times story about goose-liver paste, a.k.a. pâté de foie gras. Nobody with a conscience should eat this.

California Hoe Down

See here.

Addendum: I got to wondering about the origin of the term "hoe down." Here is what I found in the Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed.:


A noisy, riotous dance; = breakdown 2.

[1807 W. Irving Salmagundi 7 Mar. 98 As to dancing, no Long-Island negro could shuffle you ‘double trouble’, or ‘hoe corn and dig potatoes’ more scientifically.] 1841 Picayune (New Orleans) 14 Jan. 2/1 He looks and walks the character to the life, and some of his touches are of the genuine ‘hoe down’, ‘corn-field’ order. 1849 T. T. Johnson Sights Gold Region iv. 38 One of our party commenced a regular hoe-down, knocking his shins with heavy boots. 1855 Knickerbocker XLVI. 227 Rude, high-legged reels and ‘hoe-downs’. 1860 in Bartlett Dict. Amer. (ed. 3). 1885 Libr. Mag. (N.Y.) July 1 They [negroes] danced their vigorous hoe~downs, jigs. 1919 T. K. Holmes Man fr. Tall Timber vii. 84 A medley of old-time hoe-downs and jig music. 1961 Times 30 Mar. 6/7 The hoe-down sequence in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. 1963 Punch 3 July 23/3, I was invited to the last hoe-down. 1967 ‘J. Munro’ Money that Money can't Buy ix. 114 Two more cowboys appeared... They played hoe-down music. 1969 Guardian 2 Sept. 8/2 The atmosphere was that of..a hoedown in—well, perhaps in Hibbing, Minn.
This is not very illuminating, is it? I suspect the term comes from the practice of laying one's hoe down (i.e., taking a break from work) in order to frolic in the field.

22 April 2007

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

Here are some links to some exceptionally moving and informative online audio lectures on vegetarianism & animal ethics from a Christian perspective. They are by Matt Halteman, an excellent philosopher from Calvin College. I bet all your readers—religious and secular—would learn a lot from these talks and be inspired. If you would inform them of this resource, that'd be great.
MP3: "Animal Rights & Christian Responsibility"
MP3: "Living Toward the Peaceable Kingdom"
Notes: "Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation"
Notes: "Animal Rights and Christian Responsibility"
Nathan Nobis

18 April 2007

Earth Day Lecture

Since a number of "Animal Ethics" readers reside in the northern Illinois area, I thought I would call your attention to an exciting lecture that is taking place on Northern Illinois University's campus. This Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, at 6:00 p.m., Kathie L. Jenni, Ph.D. (who has occasionally posted comments on this blog) will present a lecture entitled “The Best Kept Environmental Secrets: How We Can Hurt or Help the Planet Every Day.” The lecture will take place in Wirtz Auditorium on NIU’s Main Campus in DeKalb, IL. Dr. Jenni is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California, where she has taught for the past 18 years. She specializes in Environmental Ethics, Human-Animal Ethics, and Moral Psychology. Some of her notable publications include: “The Power of the Visual,” “Western Environmental Ethics,” “Vices of Inattention,” and “The Moral Responsibilities of Intellectuals.”

Professor Jenni made her debut appearance in DeKalb in September 2002 when she presented her paper “The Power of the Visual” at the Northern Illinois Ethic Consortium’s inaugural conference Ethics in Contemporary Life. The NIU community is fortunate to have such a dynamic lecturer return to NIU.

Professor Jenni has won numerous teaching awards including: an Outstanding Teaching Award at Redlands, a prize for Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities from the Graves Awards Foundation at Pomona College, and an Innovative Teaching Award for her Community Service Learning course on human-animal ethics at Redlands. I am fortunate to have seen Professor Jenni lecture on a number of occasions and have always found her lectures to be thoughtful, provocative, and insightful, while remaining readily accessible in terms of their content. Her coming Earth Day lecture couldn't be more timely in light of our increasing awareness of global warming and other human-induced negative impacts on the environment.

Professor Jenni’s Earth Day Lecture is co-sponsored by NIU’s Department of Philosophy and NIU’s Vegetarian Education Group [VEG]. VEG is a non-profit student organization dedicated to educating the NIU community and surrounding area about the multi-dimensional benefits (human health, environmental preservation, animal welfare, and personal enrichment) of plant-based nutrition. More information about VEG can be found here.

Professor Jenni’s lecture is FREE and open to the public. If you are in the area and have an interest in animals and the environment, I hope you will join us for this special Earth Day event.

Veal Is Back

Have a taste for veal? You can now eat it with a clear conscience—at least if you're a utilitarian. See here.

15 April 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Japan’s Whaling Obsession” (editorial, April 1): Japan strongly supports the international protection of endangered whale species and advocates for the sustainable harvest of species in abundance only.

Whaling for scientific research is indispensable to establish the proper conservation of whales and ocean resources. Japan is sincerely committed to researching whales’ dietary habits and nutrition status, as well as the shift in whale populations by age over time.

Such studies provide valuable analytical data that reveals much about the whales’ life, their status and their environmental surroundings, information that is not obtainable through simple visual observation.

Scientific research from Japan has been highly commended by the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee.

Jiro Okuyama
Dir., Japan Information Center
Consulate General of Japan
New York, April 4, 2007

10 April 2007

From the Mailbag


I have a friend who lives in San Diego, CA who has recently run into some problems with her apartment management. This month the management posted announcements stating that as of January 2007 (3 months ago, even though announcements were only posted this month) their new policy was that all cats must be declawed on their front feet, or else cat owners will face eviction. My friend is horrified by this. Not only does she have no intention whatsoever of declawing her cats, she wants to stop the management from requiring this of its tenants. She has written about this on her blog. Thank you.

Jane Keeler

06 April 2007

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

Your blog is great! I'm always excited to find new internet sources for animal theory. I thought you might be interested in the new AnimalBlawg, an animal law blog by law students.

Also, I don't know if you attended the Future of Animal Law conference last weekend in Boston, but it had a panel on valuable alliances for the animal movement, including religious and ethical alliances, that I thought you might be interested in. I've copied a blog post about this panel below.

Thanks! I look forward to reading your future posts!

Jennifer Dillard

04 April 2007

From the Mailbag

Hello Keith:

I recently completed a documentary on the science, ethics, and politics of animal agriculture entitled "Beyond Closed Doors." The film contains personal interviews with prominent professionals such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Bernard Rollin, Dr. John Webster, Steve Wise, and many others.

I mention this because we are receiving a fair amount of requests for the documentary for use in education at the university level. The documentary is not short on topics for substantive debate including "humane meat," productivity vs welfare, "animal terrorism laws," and of course the American Veterinary Medical Association's role in welfare reform.

If you are able to post something on this documentary I would be grateful. The documentary website is Sandgrainfilms.com. The bios of those in the film can be viewed on the site.


Hugh Dorigo
Sandgrain Films LLC

Wild Thing

Look at all the animals you can kill, butcher, cook, and eat in one city. It makes me want to go out and slaughter a gopher.

03 April 2007

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

Hi. I love your blog. I wrote the following for a blog on the Animals and Religion Forum on the Best Friends Animal Network website. I just wanted to share it with you:

I was at a book signing recently for my book (All Creatures of Our God and King: What God's Word Says About Animals) and I was approached by a man who asked me the following question: "Why would anyone want to write a book about what the Bible says about animals? Doesn't it just tell us to kill them all?" Sadly, this kind of reaction is not uncommon. So many people today do not realize how God feels about the animal kingdom, His own special creation.

This Easter, I would like to share an important Biblical truth. When Jesus died on the cross, He didn't just save us humans—He died for the animals, too. Prior to Jesus' death on the cross, animal sacrifices were a common and vital part of every family's worship experience. Lambs, goats, birds were sacrificed at home, at temples and on altars themselves. The animals took the place of humans. We humans did not have to die for our sins—innocent, pure animals took our place. Through the course of history, countless animals died to save human souls. Before the time of Jesus, humans found their salvation through animal sacrifice. When Jesus died on the cross, He became the one and only sacrifice. He died to pay for all our sins forever and ever. Animal sacrifice was no longer necessary.

The Bible says that we have a savior who can sympathize and identify with us because He has been a man, tempted in every way, just as we are (Hebrews 4:15). Well, Jesus can also certainly identify with animals. He and the animals in the Old Testament experienced something no one else on earth has—giving their lives for the sins of others—sacrificing themselves to bring others closer to God.

So, friends, Jesus is not only the lover of our souls—He is a lover of the animals as well.

Happy Easter,
Teri Wilson

02 April 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Mr. Puck’s Good Idea” (editorial, March 26):

Thank you for writing about the restaurateur Wolfgang Puck and his desire to buy meat raised humanely. This issue is an important one and needs to be talked about. If we are to live in a more peaceful world, we must abandon the cruelty on our plates.

Kristina Cahill
Long Beach, Calif., March 27, 2007

To the Editor:

Livestock producers raise their animals under humane standards and under the care of a veterinarian. In the United States pork industry, the vast majority of the more than 100 million pigs raised each year are housed in climate-controlled buildings that protect them from the elements, illness and disease and that allow for individual care.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, management and husbandry are more important than the type of production system for ensuring the health and well-being of pigs.

As for the environment, the pork industry prides itself on being a zero-discharge industry.

Finally, organic doesn’t mean safe. While conventional food producers must demonstrate that pesticide residues are within established safety margins, organic growers are not subject to the same scrutiny despite the widespread use of biological pesticides and animal waste as fertilizer.

Dave Warner
Director of Communications
National Pork Producers Council
Washington, March 28, 2007

To the Editor:

Regardless of how “humanely” an animal is raised, it still has to be slaughtered to be eaten. That is never humane.

Eating dead animals and animal products is bad for people, bad for animals and bad for the planet. The next logical step for those who eat in restaurants is to demand more vegetarian-vegan options on their menus.

Judith Abeles
San Diego, March 26, 2007

01 April 2007

March Statistics

This blog had 2,674 visitors during March. That's an average of 86.2 visitors per day, which is a record. Thanks for visiting. Do come back from time to time. I hope to write more substantial posts during the summer months, when I have no teaching duties.