December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
If our bodies were liquid
I’d be caressing the under of your shoulder blade
I’d be kissing your breasts
and slowly sinking my face in your chest
With ribs tangled in the back of my hair I’d be
breathing the warm air in your lungs
and the tip of my eyelashes would make you ticklish
You’d laugh and say “ stop it”
and run your fingers slowly through my hair
I can see your heart contracting
right in front of my eyes
Arteries running with crimson
And then I hear whisper in my ear
Goodnight my love
October 17, 2013 § 5 Comments
In the past few weeks animal lovers have been breaking into mink farms and setting hundreds of minks free. One of the cute, little animals wrote a thank you letter to his liberator.
“I am writing this letter as a free mink. It is still hard to believe I no longer live in a cage. Few days ago, on an early morning, the humans came. It was earlier than usual, and these humans were different. They were dressed in black and wearing masks. We paid them little attention. Usually they give us food and water. But not these humans. They started opening the cages and setting us free. I could not believe my eyes. There was great excitement among my brothers and sisters as well.
When one of the humans opened my cage I rushed out without hesitation. I ran as fast as I could and never looked back. I wish I had stopped and thanked that human. He saved me from pain, stress and torture. He saved my life for if it was not her I would have either gone mad or died of a terrible infection or disease.
In the nature we are free, we run and swim and life feels great. But living in a tiny cage was very hard and depressing. Many of my brothers and sisters went insane. They ran in circles for hours, biting the metal bars of the cages or fighting each other. Many went as mad as hurting themselves. It was very sad. I saw my friends biting their paws and tails to the bone. They could not control themselves anymore. When someone got sick others also got sick. We are not used to living together in such small and crowded places and many of us died of infections and diseases.Thank you for setting me free from this awful prison. I cannot describe how happy I felt when I saw the sun for the first time in my life. The green grass under my paws feels much nicer than the dirty, cold metal bars of the cage floor. I can run freely and I can rest when I get tired. Then I can run some more or take a nap in a burrow that I discovered the other day.
I hope that many other humans will have the courage to set free all my brothers and sisters who are locked up in such horrible places. Because no one deserves a life full of pain and suffering. With all my heart I thank you.”
October 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
Because mathematically we have proved that non-renewable natural resources are a finite source of energy and will be exhausted in the near future, we have been developing alternatives. Cleaner, greener with little to no damage for the environment, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power are our future.
Scientifically, we are also aware of the destructive environmental element the extraction of petrol, natural gas and coal has. Oil spills, land degradation, water pollution and loss of flora and fauna among many other side effects have been long documented throughout the years. Furthermore the process of extracting fossil fuels is getting more and more cost-efficient as we deplete one deposit after another, digging deeper and moving offshore.
This process is referred to as the Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI). For example, in 1954, the U.S oil production took 1 barrel to find and liquidate 24 barrels. This number keeps decreasing and in 2007 the ration was 11:1. The bigger the number of energy return, the better. A natural resource extraction with a ratio of 1:1 or a negative one where we put into more energy than we take out is not something we should aim for.
A similar analogical argument can be made applied to our food habits. Different foods have different nutritional values. There is also quite a variation in Calories ranging from product to product. An average person who is moderately active and weighs 65 kilograms consumes food with a chemical energy content of about 2600 Calories per day. 2600 Calories is about *3 kWh per day.
*A Kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy which is the amount of energy converted in one hour at a rate of one kilowatt. (rate at which we use or produce energy). Although many of us meet this unit for energy in the context of electricity they can be applied to our food production and consumption as well.
As I wrote we consume daily about 3 kWh but the real question here is how much energy do we actually consume? The answer depends if we are vegan, vegetarian or carnivore. The vegan has the smallest energy footprint: 3 kWh per day of energy from the plants she/he consumes.
Vegans consume the plants directly, unlike people with a meat and dairy diet. The energy stored in plants is passed by feeding the animals which on their turn are food for meat-eaters. This is a completely unnecessary and wasteful practice and the numbers behind it prove this.
So what is the energy cost of drinking milk, eating cheese, eggs and meat?
It takes about 1000 days for a cow to “turn into” steak — 33 months from conception to slaughterhouse. For pigs that period is around 400 days and for a chicken — 50 days. All these animals have to be kept alive before being slaughtered and eaten. This costs energy (Kilowatt-hours per day). By energy I mean only the crops they are being fed with.
Last year, the average meat-consumption of a North-American person was 322 grams per day. Few years earlier it was 227g. With the latter number, David MacKaY, the Regius Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge calculated that if you consume 227 grams meat made up of equal quantities of chicken, pork and beef, the power required to fuel the meat habit is 8 kWh per day.
Two eggs for breakfast require a power of 1 KWh per day. Each egg contains about 80 calories which is around 0.1 kWh, rendering egg production to 20% efficient from energy point of view.
Any additional cost that comes with farming, fertilizing, processing, refrigerating and transporting the meat and dairy products is not taken into consideration. It is safe to assume the numbers are likely to grow higher if we are to add the extra expenditures into the equation.
In conclusion, numbers speak for themselves. It makes no sense whatever to keep a meat and dairy diet in order to obtain your daily 2600 Calories — 3kWh per day. You should reason with anyone who is willing to listen and accept new information, turning carnivores into vegans slowly but gradually.
October 4, 2013 § 1 Comment
Many discussions on being a vegetarian/vegan start and end with the ethical and moral treatment of animals. The never ending battle between carnivores and herbivorous whether or not “ animals are ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment” tends to exhaust the discussion and keep the gap ever so wide open between the two groups of people.
I believe that we as vegetarians/vegans can approach our fellow omnivore friends, family members and colleagues from more than one possible angle when discussing animal rights. After all, if one of our life goals is to end all animal cruelty and extend the rights of humans to these of animals, we should pick our choice of weapon accordingly.
One thing must be clear — we can’t afford to be aggressive in our politics and actions. Otherwise we risk distancing ourselves by alienating future fellow vegetarians and vegans. And most importantly we do not want to force anyone into becoming a person free of meat and dairy consumption habits. This transformation must be accomplished voluntarily. We can speed it up first by being a good example and second by educating those around us. And often for both of those to happen, it takes time.
Arguments for and against animal rights depend largely on one’s system of values placed either in the ecocentric specter or in the opposite corner where the human being is the center of life. Therefore people who consider that nature and its products and services have no intrinsic value and exist only and only to satisfy our human needs are mostly likely to disagree with the idea of a pig having equal to their rights.
On the topic of animal rights where I stress that they too have feelings and suffer from mental and physical distress when abused, I am greeted with ridicule or at best with apathy. My experience has thought me that it is of little to no success of having a dialogue with such people. Therefore a change in tactic is a must.
If we set aside the moral and ethical implications of the way we currently are treating animals, we are left with plenty to work with. The advancement of animal rights can be achieved through economic, environmental and health leverages that can have a significant power over individual’s choice of diet.
In the following chapters I will be specific, demonstrating and providing examples how we can positively influence on people and change their thinking on this matter.
August 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
In Sweden, if you want to buy an alcoholic beverage that is stronger than 3.5% you have to visit either the local pub or go to the only retail store allowed to sell alcohol – System Bolaget. This is the name and it’s owned by the government. There is a network of 422 stores and over 500 agents serving smaller communities. You have to be 20 years old to shop there and 18 to buy a beer at the pub, go figure. According to the page of System Bolaget the monopoly on alcohol exists for the sole purpose of minimizing alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol responsibly, without profiting from it.
I am not going to argue whether this restriction helps or not. Instead I’ll share with you something that caught my attention not so long ago. At every System Bolaget, I assume since it is a chain of stores, there is a single shelf of alcohol free beverages. It is round on wheels, and it is placed in front of every cash register. Basically it’s like the positioning of all the sweets, candy bars and full of aspartame chewing gums on your way cashing out. A clever strategy aimed to increase sales. In the case of Systemet (the System) however the goal is to decrease the consumption of alcohol beverages and increase that of non-alcoholic. Before the smiley cashier greets you, a sign reads the following :
“An alcohol-free drink that goes well with your dinner .“
How bold, how ironic, how absurd, how.. I could go on. In a store that sells only and only alcohol you are being encouraged to buy non alcoholic drinks. Well, it makes sense since their number one concern is limiting the consumption of the very products there are selling on first place.
Do I dare to dream about a future advertisement in a similar manner but for different kind of products? Can you Imagine butcher shops promoting vegan food?
“Get your vegan meal together with a fine selection of red wine” – the sign would read.
There are leaflets, or even small manuals on how harmful alcohol is for your health at System Bolaget’ every store. Responsible drinking is encouraged with tips how to consume less or what instead of alcohol, refreshing non-alcoholic tips for the summer season and telephone number if you have a drinking problem.
Now imagine your local butcher, wearing blood-stained apron is passing a bag with two lamb chops to you and a flyleaf with advice on cutting down meat consumption and various vegetarian recopies. This is unlikely to happen in the near future mostly because there are no government-owned butcher shops. Therefore no centralized form of control has the right to enforce such practice on private ownership.
However I remain optimistic as I already see signs of improvement on local/governmental level. Recently at the Mamlö Festival (Mamlö, Sweden) I saw a big poster advertising responsible way of living and daily practices. It encouraged the citizens of Malmö to use bikes or public transportation, share a car with other passengers if possible, recycle and few other activities which to a big extent the people here are already doing. Among the recommendations I was pleasantly surprised to read “eat vegetarian food”.
August 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”. You might have heard this popular quote by Sir Paul McCartney. Unfortunately they don’t. This is being taken care of. For billions of factory animals life ends there behind closed doors in a nasty brutal way. Shortly after their death, the dismembered bodies will continue through the chain of distributions until they reach local stores and supermarkets in publicly accepted and sanitized format. Neatly packed, bloodless, lifeless, flesh separated from bone, sometimes not.
Charles Bukowski was very different from Sir Paul McCartney. He was fond of several things during his existence – fucking, drinking, solitude, horse betting and listening to classic music in the late hours of the night. When asked why he never wrote about politics or world affairs this is what he replied:
“What for? Like, what’s new? – everybody knows the bacon is burning.”
He did not bother on such topics but for once he was an animal rights advocate. Charles Bukowski had the experience of working in a meat packing factory. This is an extract from “Kid Stardust on the porterhouse”, a short story he wrote in 1967.
…and they had led me down steps, 4 floors down and it had gotten colder and colder and the floors had been covered with a sheen of blood, green floors, green walls. I had been explained my job – which was to push a button and then through this hole in the wall there was a noise like the crushing of fullbacks or elephants falling in lay, and here it came – something dead, a lot of it, bloody, and he showed me, you take it and throw it on the truck and then push the button and another one comes along, then he walked away, when he did I took off my smock, my tin hat, by boots (issued 3 size too small) and walked up the stairway and out of there..”
Some years later he returned to the same place and got assigned to a different task.
“..each wheel-barrow was loaded with mounds of ham that floated in a thin and watery blood. No, they didn’t float in the blood, they sat in it, like lead, like cannonballs, like death.”
You get the full detailed picture, don’t you? Three words – meat is murder.
Ironically in the same story towards the end, there is this ridiculous discrepancy.
“…I managed to open the door and get up inside the cab. It had a soft leather seat and the seat felt so good that I knew if I didn’t fight it I would soon be asleep.”
Weird isn’t it? Or perhaps he did not like the idea of personally killing animals. Eating and wearing them was alright. Just what the majority of the people feel like.
Now, in order to give up eating meat you don’t have to get a job at a slaughter house, do you?
August 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
The fat lady in crocs looked at me like I was some kind of a retard. “Can you what”, I was reading in her look. I bet her Swedish was bad but mine was even worse.
I was holding a hair clipper in my hand and needed to see if it works before I even considered buying it. Last time I was at the flea market I came home with a set of bicycle lights only to find out the light bulbs were missing. Good luck getting your money back. Receipt? Pfff, yeah right.
I opened my mouth in attempt to construct a whole sentence in Swedish but what came out was a noun, verb and a short bzzzz sound. She understood what I meant and plugged it in. She passed it to me and I turned it on. Barely detectable but steady noise came out of the clipper. It surprised me. The clipper was a quality one, solid, and heavy, with shiny metal razors. I thought of my old one – cheap and plastic. I frowned. It usually takes half a day to charge the battery and I have to be fast cause the damn thing does not last for long.
I felt good about this one. No more planning in advance when to shave my beard, no more who trims his beard the fastest. I remember one time when the trimmer was slowing down, I could hear the tiny electric motor jerking in uneven intervals, draining the last drop of limp energy out of the battery. I speeded up only to jam the razors in my throat opening half a centimeter slit. It did not bleed much, just a bit but I got so pissed off.
I reached for my wallet with the machine still on when I noticed something weird. The two blades which are supposed to oscillate from side to side were still. No movement meant no beard trimmed. I frowned again. Apparently I was going to continue to use the good ol’ throat slitter. I carefully placed the hair trimmer on the top of the mound of tangled cables and early 00’s gadgets and moved on to the next pile of…things.