There is no “Team Omnivore” and Vegans are not alone

Tim etherspin

This phenomenon will be familiar to omnivores,vegetarians and vegans alike .. a group will bond and gang up to argue with a vegan or chime in about why its ok to devour and enslave non-human animals, I’ve been on the receiving end many times and felt alone and backed in a corner as any serious and logical points I make are met with jokes and then more inane questions and hypothetical situations that are only setups for more ridicule.
I’ve noticed though that people seem to like reassuring themselves that they are morally sound in their animal consumption by establishing a jury of their peers but Im writing today to argue that they do not have any peers !!!

Being from a workplace with roughly 80 staff and usually a large portion of those in or near the staffroom during lunch,my own lunch options often attract attention.
With mention of tempeh,seitan,quinoa,nutritional yeast and T.V.P. I’m usually presented with an almost complete tableful of blank stares.
The next step in the equation(perhaps I could whip up a flowchart!)  is either a comment about how healthy it sounds,how I might lack iron or how tricky it must be to find food – these are usually smokescreens to move onto the disclaimer usually its a self deprecating “I could never be that disciplined” or “I could never go without animal part/product X.”
On occasion someone will try to diffuse the tension or actually turn any embarrassment back onto me by cracking jokes or recommending I see a psychologist.
I invariably end up trying not to look red in the face and attempting to finish my lunch while screening out the circular rota of comments that affirm that I’m not quite normal and everyone eating animal is on the same page.

On quieter days I’ve talked to staff on a one to one basis and gotten a fair span of the differing opinions on animal use and abuse.
I’ve heard of some appalled at whaling, some horrified by jumps racing,some who have seen “Babe” and stopped eating pork (Cause thats the most compelling reason !?!).
These all appear to be subsets of a standard western view of which animals are immune to being slaughtered/consumed i.e. “Cats and Dogs are for patting;chickens,cows,pigs and sheep are for eating;horses and greyhounds are for racing; and insects are for stepping on.”
The variation depends on the individual background, for example, those whose family traditionally gamble know of and are quite fine with horse racing,the conditions it keeps horses in,the danger to the animals and the thousands of horses who are slaughtered for not being fast enough, they are generally unphased by the clearly visible horrors of jumps racing because they are well aware of the greater suffering behind closed doors that is the price for a horse racing industry.
Families with backgrounds in show jumping are often under illusions about horse welfare,the supposed wish of horses to interact with humans, run and jump under whip encouragement etc but are usually not as familiar with the darker side of these industries and the impact use has on a horses well being and ability to express natural behaviours.
There are variations as many as there are staff members,soft spots for cats and cows, empathy for pigs and monkeys,sympathy for dolphins and whales and many more combinations that are based on their own upbringing rather than any long hard look at why we use,enslave,custom breed and slaughter animals or how we should apply ethics to them.
An objective thought,an examination of our views and practices would reveal there is no consistent measure amongst omnivores of what makes an animal “food-worthy.”

Conduct a questionaire amongst peers , ask them is it ok to kick a cat,dog,cow,sheep,chimp or whale,ask them how they sit with debeaking a chicken,parrot,emu or see if they think its ok to use a horse,bull,gorilla,pig,possum or kangaroo for racing (bearing in mind the thousands who didnt make the cut would be turned into meat) and you will observe dissent and disagreement.
The above mentioned hypothetical practices may seem comical but are a much softer representation of the practices being used in our racing,meat,dairy,poultry,pet ,leather,wool,silk and honey industries to name but a few.

Veganism is not an ascetic, spiritual movement, it is not a sentimental movement,it is not a meaningless subset of vegetarianism, rather,Veganism seeks to consistently address the oppression of sentient beings regardless of whether they have pedigree,feathers,fur,wool,fitness,obedience, blubber, endearing appearance or are of little exploitable utility to humans. It makes sense and indicts the varying reasons omnivores have for their particular flavours of use & abuse as unnecessary and unjustifiable.

If you care for any animals of the above descriptions I urge you to acknowledge the parallels and extend compassion in a logical manner, through Veganism.

Existing Vegans, take heart, soldier on,Team Omnivore is a construct, have patience and appeal to the capacity of our fellow humans for compassion rather than the capacity to ignore information that is a call to change.

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December’s Featured Articles part 1

Tim etherspin

Hi readers,I’m so happy with the state of blogging in the sphere of animal rights here in 2009.
A number of theorists,philosophers and all manner of animal rights activists are blogging,podcasting,vodcasting and creating fantastic resources
In light of this I’m starting a monthly (at LEAST!) feature showcasing some of the best abolitionist perspectives we’ve come across (the ethereal blend bloggers) so these fantastic articles and other writings get a wider audience.

Here goes …

The Vegan News is a multi segment video news show with a great new interview series on abolitionist theorist and writer Gary Francione ( )

Part 1
explaining “Moral Schizophrenia” .
Part 2
Gary ties together beautifully sentience and self awareness.
Part 3
Contrasts the strategies of seeking welfare reform in animal use VS aiming to remove the property status of animals.
References and criticises  PETA as a long term economical benefit to chicken producers.
Part 4
Superbly assesses the notion that Lacto-Ovo Vegetarianism is a half step towards or moral alternative to Veganism and looks at the supposed benefit to animals of making concessions like encouraging nonvegans to consumer cage free eggs.

-further note : the later segments of this interview are also up now

Who You Callin Vegangelical ?

The Huffington Post is currently featuring a brilliant piece by Ari Solomon which is not specifically abolitionist but reaffirms that veganism is a notion worthy of discussion and is a robust philosophy regardless of efforts to marginalise it and paint it as a sort of religion or fundamentalism – “So, who’s the real extremist? The person who tries to stop unnecessary suffering by cutting out animal products, or the person who says, “I like the way that tastes, so a sentient being needs suffer and die?”" .
I recommend the article but have to state that I disagree with his notion that there are truly some vegans who are so for environmental or health reasons, I don’t believe that either route leads to veganism without incorporating ethics as the environmental concerns wouldn’t mean omitting donated / recycled animal products like leather jackets etc and health based animal product omission could still include a number of non vegan items,for example, honey as a sweetener, so yes, sorry Ari but I think all actual vegans have concern for animals.
Further reading /additional article by Ari

I can happily say I have so many links I’m gonna have to make this a part 1 !

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For Aussie Vegans to Be – The 30 day Vegan Easy Challenge

sidepictures Tim

vec-logo etherspin

This article is dedicated to our readers who have thought about going Vegan but haven’t yet had a catalyst for the transition.

Besides the delicious food there are a number of benefits to taking the challenge

  1. For the duration of the challenge your cholesterol intake will be ZERO (that stuff that causes heart attacks and strokes and is responsible for the biggest cause of death in the developed world,)as cholesterol is only found in animal products.
  2. Your intake of H.C.A. Carcinogens will be wiped out as these are caused by heating animal products – the creatine that speeds the process up in animal based meals is a byproduct of muscle and thus is entirely absent in a Vegan meal ( see for more info on H.C.As).
  3. You will be reducing your water usage in magnitudes.We are encouraged in Australia to limit the duration of our showers but in comparison to a simple clothing or meal choice this is utter folly.
    A 3 minute shower uses around 45 litres of water ( see water usage chart ) which is insignificant in comparison to the 16000 litres of water required for a kilogram of beef.
    If you were to have a kilo of soy product you would be saving 14000 litres as soy clocks in at around 2000 litres a kilo.
  4. You will reduce your carbon & methane footprint in the most drastic way possible.
    Animal agriculture accounts for 18% of the greenhouse gas emission causing global warming, that is 40% more than the nearest offender,being Vegan is a better move for the planet than swapping your car for a hybrid or living in an electricity free shack – there is no such thing as an animal consuming enviromentalist!
  5. People often ignore veganism by saying they only have time for so many causes like world hunger for example but consider this, while eating vegan you will reduce the amount of land needed to sustain you from 3 1/4 acres to just 1/6 of an acre. With such a small proportion of vegans on the planet we simply do not have the landspace to produce enough food for our population in excess of 6 billion but the 19 fold increase in food per head of a vegan world would give us more than enough food supply every individual human on the planet, so much for veganism being misanthropic !
  6. Most importantly of all you will reduce the amount of suffering you are commissioning through the products you consume – you will send no male chicks to be shred or gassed to death,you will confine no chicken into a tiny space & pool of excrement,you will submit no pig to having its teeth pulled,tail chopped,ears notched or testicles removed – in fact you will spare cows,chickens,sheep,ducks,calves and pigs from all manner of confinement, cruel farming practices,seperation from offspring/mothers and a fear filled painful death.

If you are willing to try the food aspect of Veganism you could win $1000 dollars Australian.
The Vegan Easy Challenge requires that you eat vegan food for 30 days and it provides a menu of well planned, delicious Vegan dishes to sustain you from Nov 1st – 30th..
The recipes source ingredients that are easy to come by and straightforward to work with.
To enter the competition and get your menu/recipe list send an email to requesting entry or phone 03 9513 4367

I give this competition personal endorsement as ALV is one of the few abolitionist organisations in our region, they seek to end animal use not make it more palatable (and thus make consumers more comfortable with consuming sentient beings) through welfare reform.
Their website is of particular interest to Victorians for local animal activism and to Australians for information on campaigns or just the straight word on practices that are commonplace in Aussie animal agriculture/animal use(pet breeding etc). – Animal Liberation Victoria website

Or to register directly

Disclaimer – The Vegan Easy Challenge requires the applicant to adhere to veganism only in the dietary sense for the 30 days in order to be eligible for the $1000.
Veganism itself is not a diet but an ethical choice to exclude all animal products where possible, for example Vegans do not partake of silk,wool,leather,feathers or fur in addition to food products and components/ingredients of other products that are animal based.
Cheers & good luck from all the Ethereal Blend contributors

1 comment - Latest by:
  • Naty

    I’m so super excited about this challenge – I wish it was around when I turned. I found the main reason it took me so long to actually ‘turn’ was because I thought it would be hard – diet wise. In fact, as Tim points out, it is an ethical choice you make well before you get to the dinner table so it wasn’t hard at all. Hopefully the vegan easy challenge will help people realise that.

    If you are thinking of doing it let me know and I’ll be sure to post a few tips for young players;)

Intelligent = superior



I read a newspaper article this week about how a study has found that some dogs are as intelligent as two year olds.  Imagine that; dogs as intelligent as two year olds! You know who else is as intelligent as two year olds?  Two year olds.

Ok, sarcasm aside, my point is this: so what?  Why are we humans obsessed with comparing the intellectual abilities of one species to that of another?  All this proves is that humans, as a species, consider ourselves superior.  Superior to animals, superior to each other…

Our superiority complex as regards animals manifests itself in the way we treat them.  We treat them like they are ours to own, dominate, enslave, use, torture, kill, eat and debase.  Nevertheless our treatment of animals is merely a manifestation of a deeper problem: we think we are superior.   I just don’t believe that we are.

This superiority complex was highlighted to me during a recent conversation with an omnivore.  Discussing some recent health concerns, he said to me ‘what if you found out that you would be completely better if you ate just a little bit of fish, would you eat it?’ He followed up with some typical misguided notions about fish (apart from farmed fish) living in the wild and having a great life, and supposedly not feeling pain etc.  My response was ‘what if you found out that you would be completely healthy if you ate just a little bit of baby, and the baby was otherwise doomed to a terrible abusive life, and it would be put down humanely so as to feel no pain, would you eat it?’.  He got offended and said ‘that’s different!’  Unsurprisingly the conversation ended there.

I admit that it was an extreme and almost absurd example.  I can see why he was challenged by it.  But that’s my point – I just don’t see the difference.

I don’t see a moral difference between a human’s right to life and that of a non human.  As a whole humans do see that difference.  In Australia we believe that humans have an inalienable right to life.  At the same time we think that humans have a right to take a life, that of a non human, for our own purposes.

I have yet to come across a convincing argument as to why humans should be entitled to take an animal’s life and treat it as expendable.  Our supposed superior intellectual capacity isn’t enough.  If it were there would need to be some serious changes in the way we think about and treat people with intellectual disabilities, or children, or people with brain injuries etc.

There would also need to be some changes in the way we think about and treat pigs, and monkeys, and following this latest study, dogs.

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Buckleys Chance for our “Food” (No reprieve for hacked pigs,cows or chickens)

Tim etherspin

** Disclaimer – I have complete sympathy for Buckley the dog and the terrible ordeal that he went through – what the following piece will articulate is my lack of sympathy for the general,meat eating,animal product consuming publics apparent outrage and horror at the result of the attack. **

This week in cognitive dissonance – standard farming practices get performed on a non-farmed animal (at least in the western countries that are so precious about dogs and dismissive of “livestock”) to the publics weeping outrage. A puppy was abandoned in a Victorian school playground having been severely mauled. Nicknamed “Buckley” after a former Collingwood football player, the lonely pup was found with his ears and tail mostly cut off (see photos via story link) The story is extremely sad to be sure but has been milked for every bit of cooing and outrage over the past week, sharing the top stories in Victorian newspapers and abroad to rival masterchefs prominance. A facebook group titled “Justice for Buckley! Increase the maximum penalty for animal cruelty” has been established and is currently gaining members at a rate of twenty thousand a day. I joined the group and agree that law should protect animals but 99% of the members appear not to support its tagline – they want cruelty ended to cats and dogs, not the animals they want caged, milked , and shredded for their plates.Buckley facebook groupBuckley facebook group Outraged comment include “Let’s hack his tail and ears off, scum bag! 32 years old he needs to be put out of his misery!” and “anyone one who can torture/hurt/kill a animal should be locked up for life! as it is one of the sure signs of a serial killer etc, and none of this rehabilition s*** once a killer always a killer i say!” These are two of the most palatable comments in the group,it has actually turned into a competition to outdo each other posters supposed altruism by referring to the perpetrator with more C and F words and promising more painful dismemberments to him. The filler in between is mostly links to studies connecting animal cruelty and future serial killers.

This outrage would be justified if the average Australian citizen didnt inflict (in most cases not able to stomach whats done they pay a farmer or butcher to do it for them)equal and worse treatment on a variety of different animals each and every week of their lives. For arguments sake lets just focus on pigs because they receive the most similar treatment to Buckley as part of the horrible life they are given before ending up on our plates. The general assumption of the public is that Pigs must be of low intelligence among animals to be used as “livestock.” In fact,students of biology and other disciplines concerned with animal nature and behaviour class the species as higher cognitively than cats and dogs. Pigs have less concern for what humans are doing and what their voice and facial expression indicate than dogs but in terms of intelligence this is a red herring. A dog’s focus and apparent knowledge of human gesture has been bred into them over a couple of thousand years, wolves that have not been custom bred by humans have no interest in and do not eye-track human hand movements once they begin a task or respond accordingly to different emotive tones of human voice whereas a domesticated dog continually glances at its human trainer / “owner” for further cues even after it has commenced an instructed task or game. Evidence of this is available in this document Lacking this kind of intertwined and custom bred domestic relationship with humans, pigs do not seem overly interested in us in comparison to Canines but are quite ingenious when necessary and have been observed performing group tasks such as opening gates with mechanisms that would be impossible for one pig alone to press / unlatch. In addition to this pigs have been trained to conquer much more abstract tasks as quoted from the article linked below “Using their snouts, pigs can even be taught to maneuver a modified joystick to move a cursor on a video monitor.” (an article on pig intelligence) The study referenced in the article concluded that a comparison to dogs and cats was inadequate and that pigs actually learn and understand new tasks “As quickly as chimpanzees.”

Piglet Undergoing "Farming Standard" Tooth removal

Piglet Having Teeth Ripped out without Anaesthetic

Farming animals will always be about putting human profit before the needs and welfare of the animals in question. For this reason the horrendous treatment of pigs is seen as necessary. In order to make pork products profitable pigs are kept in cramped,hellish conditions. The same conditions would drive humans who knew nothing else to abnormal behaviour as it does in pigs. Being penned in and jammed against other pigs leads to cannibalistic behaviours like tail biting and attacking wounds or other exposed flesh on fellow pigs. Acknowledging the value of individual pigs, the capacity for feeling,knowledge of self and if it is to be our benchmark (we claim it is) – their impressive intelligence we should have abolished pig farming/slavery but instead we have created further brutal techniques of mutilation. To prevent pig biting other pigs we take them as infants and rip out their teeth without anaesthetic . To prevent open wounds that could spoil hindquarters to be used as meat we cut their tails without anaesthetic. The male piglets have the added torture of having their scrotums cut open to remove their testicles (without anaesthetic of course – to spend money on pain relief for our food hardly seems logical ?). In addition to this piglets can look forward to ear notching – “Large hunks of each piglet’s ears are sliced off with scissors to make identification patterns,” – Quotes from a sky news article ( on the pup are perfect in juxtaposition to the recommended method for teeth pulling , “The puppy would have received no anaesthetic and would have made a lot of noise.” Doesn’t this sound familiar when compared to the recommended way to pull teeth (quoted from A.L.V. website) “An industry website advises holding a finger across the animal’s trachea to suppress screaming” – not only does this institutionalised practice make piglets scream in agony but its so widespread,commonplace and expected that there are recognised methods to avoid the minor annoyance of coping with the unsettling noise from the restrained pig. After this treatment as a piglet,the cramped and disgusting conditions for their lifetime, an adult pig can look forward to having its throat slit before being dumped into a vat of boiling water (often conscious and screaming after a botched throat slitting) to remove hair and soften skin for our consumption. I expect some readers of this article to be shocked, some dismissive and some to laugh it off and make jokes about how delicious bacon is. For those of you who are shocked, there is the easy option of not consuming these animals which reduces the demand for these animals and by filling your plate with something else many pigs won’t endure enslavement and ordeals before the fear and pain of slaughter but as a society larger change needs to come through our laws A certain savvy lawyer friend of mine told me this week that we do actually have legislation in Victoria that recognises animals have a right not to be treated with “unnecessary cruelty” whatever “unnecessary cruelty” may be. The problem with the legislation is a huge exception for “livestock” animals, in their particular case common farming practices are automatically deemed to be reasonable and these practices are defined by the farming industry themselves! If we are concerned we will change our diets and seek to change our laws. I see the horror of what happened to Buckley but its happening thousands of times a minute to animals just as capable of suffering and sentience. Pigs are not ours to own any more than we are theirs.

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Why meat is murder




When the conditions are right and sentience blooms, the sentient being has morally significant interests. He/she has an interest in avoiding unpleasant sensations and an interest in experiencing pleasure.

A sentient being with what I call intrapersonal rationality recognises that they have interests and seeks to serve those interests. If they are interpersonally rational they will recognise that other sentient beings have morally significant interests that are just as important as their own (of course is not necessary for a sentient being to be interpersonally rational for them to be afforded moral consideration by interpersonally rational beings). This is the concept of ‘equal consideration of interests’ which is an ethical stance that takes into account the interests of all sentient beings and recognises that ‘like’ interests are equally important.

From ‘equal consideration of interests’ we get to Francione’s rights theory. This theory, which is based on the concept of ‘equal consideration of interests,’ holds that if a being has morally significant interests they can’t be treated as property because property can never be balanced equitably with the interests of an ‘owner’.

And the right of an individual to not be treated as property can’t be taken away just because a mob of other sentient beings would benefit from his/her loss. Take democracy for example. Each person has only one vote and no vote is counted as being more or less important than another. It would be absurd then if an electorate could vote to take away the right of an individual to vote. It would defeat the whole purpose of democracy. Likewise, if a being has morally significant interests and hence is covered by the concept of ‘equal consideration of interests’ then it is absurd to justify treating him/her as the property of another person or persons. I’m not saying democracy is the best form of government – I am just using your familiarity with its processes to highlight the absurdity of taking away the right of a being with morally significant interests to not be treated as property, merely because of the sheer number of competing interests.

Utilitarians would have you believe that their theory is underpinned by the concept of ‘equal consideration of interests’ but utilitarianism, which holds that the right conduct is conduct that collectively maximises what is good, can treat people as property and so violates the principle of ‘equal consideration of interests’ for those people.


Why meat is murder

I recently came across an article in The Age Melbourne magazine May 09 edition, which is, for anyone who is not familiar with the publication, a monthly magazine put out by a broadsheet Melbourne newspaper. The article was about growing anything yourself. One of the subjects of the article was Tony Faranda from Werribee South in Victoria Australia who was involved in “growing” salami for his own consumption. He’d buy three piglets at a time, fatten them up over a few months and then he or one of his sons would blow their lives into oblivion with a rifle. Mr Faranda was quoted as saying, “I enjoy looking at them. I enjoy patting them. I enjoy eating them.”  He clearly has a warped attitude towards non-human animals. Mr Faranda loves what he gets from these pigs, much like a rapist loves what he gets from his victim.  In the same article there is a photo of the 3 piglets that Mr Faranda will murder and the caption, which is styled like a cartoon caption, reads “These pigs will end up as salami made by Tony Faranda”. This pictorial representation is positioned by journalist Peter Barrett as comedy. Peter Barrett is flippant in his representation of this news story; he clearly doesn’t care about the fate of these innocent sentient beings and seems to derive sadistic pleasure from their plight.

The classic characteristic of a sociopath is treating others as if they were a resource. The sociopath has an inability to recognise the inherent value of individuals separate to himself and does not have a sense of moral responsibility towards other individuals. In regards to their relationship with animals, Tony Faranda and Peter Barrett are sociopaths.

In the following article I intend to prove to you that killing a sentient being, other things being equal, is wrong – irrespective of whether the being suffers during their murder. The inevitable pain involved in raising and murdering animals for food has already been addressed many times in many forms of media.

Imagine a world full of sociopaths except for one person – one lone person who possesses intrapersonal and interpersonal rationality. In other words, an ethical person. Lets call him Mr Ng. Mr Ng’s world is not unlike our human world, except we have a few less sociopaths. Now let’s imagine that Mr Ng gets killed – murdered in fact – by one of these sociopaths. Is the sociopath’s act wrong, even though there is no one to care? Of course it is still wrong. It is a direct wrong to Mr Ng. His life was taken from him and he will never experience again. Now imagine a different scenario: a world full of robots except for one ethical person. Lets call him Mr Smith. One of the robots kills Mr Smith. Is the robot’s act wrong, even though there is no one to care? Again it is wrong. The person is deprived of future experiences. They might not be aware of their deprivation, but nevertheless they have been deprived.

Do the ‘natural’ science laws of the universe cease to exist when there is no one to recognize those laws? Absolutely not. And it’s the same for moral science. The laws of ethics exist independently of humans. It just takes moral actors to see the reality. Like Newton discovered the natural science law of gravity through observation, moral actors uncover the laws of ethics through, amongst other things, reason. These laws lie dormant waiting to be discovered by a moral actor.

On face value these scenarios are different. One world is populated mainly with sociopaths and the other with robots. However, these scenarios are morally equivalent. Neither the sociopaths or the robots care that these men have died. Even though there is no one to care we, as impartial spectator, intuitively recognise that both Mr Ng and Mr Smith have been wronged. In scenario two, when Mr Smith died all that remained was robots. But a world full of robots is morally speaking the same as no world at all. Hence it is not necessary for other living, breathing moral actors to be aware of an action for the action to be wrong.

What makes an act wrong does not hinge on the presence of a moral actor to pass judgement, instead it depends on the nature of the act. The focus needs to be on the loss itself, not the knowledge of the loss. People miss the point when they focus on the fact that the person is no longer around to be conscious that they have been wronged. This is like looking for the wrong after the fact. In other words, trying to a derive the wrong from a lifeless corpse. The wrong doesn’t lie with the dead body. It lies with the action – it lies with the act of killing. And the wrong occurs at the moment of death. To end a person’s life is to deprive them of future experiences. Critics of this theory point out that it’s just potential experiences. But the fact is these experiences would have been a reality if it had not been for the person interfering with the person’s life path. That was the action that prevented the potentialities from becoming a reality. The potential will become a reality unless it’s thwarted. Much like an object will continue its motion unless friction comes into play, a being will continue to be unless thwarted by an intervenor. A murderer, cancer, cellular degeneration and accidental death can be all classed as friction. The question is: will you be the friction? Will you be the wrong?

Death for a sentient being is a case of what they don’t know will still hurt them. Imagine a community subjected to a horrific scientific experiment where their legs are secretly removed at birth. This community doesn’t know that having no legs is abnormal and the knowledge that they are abnormal and part of a science experiment is kept from them. In fact there is no word for legs in their vocabulary. For those pedants out there lets just say that robots help them with daily routines and the community believe that the robots were created by a figure of legendary status who also had no legs. The robots too have no legs, instead they have wheels to get around. The scientists who designed this ghastly experiment thought that having robots with legs may cause the community to become envious of the robots and possibly trigger a recall of latent knowledge of what has been denied to them. Despite them being unaware that something has been taken from them, it is an indisputable fact that these individuals have been deprived of normal function. They don’t need to know they are deprived to be deprived. If the scientists involved had not deprived them of normal function their lives would have been easier and they would have had a greater chance of achieving optimum happiness. Indeed there is no doubt that it would have afforded them greater opportunities and hence greater potential to achieve happiness beyond their current capacity. Once the action was taken the individuals were wronged. While awareness of what had been taken away from them would have compounded their situation, the greatest wrong is the direct wrong they were subject to when their legs were cut off which resulted in their capacity for pleasurable experiences diminishing.

The following is a fictional example, but I am sure a similar scenario has happened before. Imagine a baby was abducted by a couple who couldn’t have kids of their own when the baby’s biological parents were on holiday in China. The couple were impoverished so the child grew up in an impoverished environment. The child didn’t know she was kidnapped from her biological family as her biological parents, like her captors, were of Chinese extraction. With no exposure to the world outside her village, the girl grows up thinking that her life in the village is a normal existence for every Chinese girl, not knowing that some Chinese girls live in luxury as do her biological parents back in Australia. Her biological parents are traumatised by the loss of their daughter, but their daughter suffers the greatest loss. It goes without saying that her life in the poor village is miserable, but there is another level to her disadvantage: she has been deprived of satisfactory living standards. If she hadn’t been abducted she would have been living a comfortable existence with her biological parents. She doesn’t need to have awareness of her deprivation to be deprived. This girl has been robbed of potential.

An alternative scenario involves a young man living below the poverty line. Let’s call this man Mr Proctor. Mr Proctor was entitled to receive a significant inheritance from a deceased grandparent. Unfortunately Mr Proctor’s uncle made away with his inheritance. Mr Proctor knew nothing of his entitlements – in fact he did not expect to receive any inheritance. As far as he was concerned he had no entitlements – the thought hadn’t even crossed his mind. Had the uncle not done the wrong thing and given Mr Proctor his entitlements, Mr Proctor’s living standards would have been significantly better. Irrespective of his unawareness of his loss, the man has been deprived. He doesn’t need to know what his uncle did to be deprived. We can come up with a plethora of examples to prove that a sentient being doesn’t need to know they have been wronged to be wronged. It is not the knowledge of deprivation that is the greatest tragedy, it is the deprivation itself.

If you have been asleep during the previous seven paragraphs and you still think there is no direct wrong in killing a sentient being, other things being equal, consider this: Rejecting my argument also means rejecting the argument that we should use pain reduction measures when we can, such as the use of anaesthesia, pain relievers and euthanasia in the case of incurable severely debilitating illnesses. The reason for this is that pain reduction is future focused. We are given anaesthetics prior to surgery because we know and the anaesthetist knows that if we don’t use anaesthetics we will be in pain in the future, when the surgeon gets to work with his scalpel. What makes chronic pain worse than acute pain (of the same intensity) is that it has an ongoing component; a future component. If we don’t interevene with some form of treatment or pain relief the pain will continue into the future and we will continue to suffer. Animals living with a terminal illness can be in severe pain but continue to live in agony for hours, days or even weeks. If they are euthanased they no longer endure in extreme pain. I must stress that I am talking about animals suffering from incurable terminal illnesses who are also experiencing pain significant enough to make life not worth living. If we were to comparatively analyse pain, it is not just the degree but also the length of time that is important.  If I am in pain I know that I want it to stop as soon as possible. Now, not a second later.

If you, like all reasonable beings, hold that we should minimise pain when we can, then you recognise the gravity of future painful experiences and are also compelled to agree with my aforementioned argument that future pleasurable experiences must be granted the importance they deserve and will always prove to be of value to our future selves.

Just as we seek to minimise the pain in our lives – not just the degree but also the duration – we also seek to have as many pleasurable experiences as possible. Obviously I am not justifying unbridled hedonism, but we clearly recognise that the longer we live, the more opportunities we have to experience pleasurable experiences. A baby that dies has had their life cut drastically short and so is deprived of many years of future pleasurable experiences. The important thing to remember is that it makes no difference to the baby whether another baby is born exactly at the same moment as his death. The newly born baby has his own set of interests independent of the baby who died. Furthering the interests of the newly born baby does not further the interests of the dead baby. The dead baby does not have access to the experiences of the newly born baby – the new born can’t share his experiences and they certainly can’t take turns. Pleasant experiences are important because individuals, not collectives, value them and derive benefit from them; the loss or benefit only has meaning and significance to the individual sentient being.  The dead baby can no longer experience, and having some other baby come along does not change the dead baby’s circumstances. Replacing the dead baby with another does not make up for the loss because the loss is to the dead baby not some magical giant receptacle.

Now back to the actions of Mr Faranda, unapologetically described in The Age Melbourne Magazine May edition. While I have already given a number of examples that prove that, other things being equal, death is a direct wrong to a sentient being, this horrendous example of animal exploitation can be used to very simply prove that intentionally killing a sentient being for personal gain is wrong. Which I will now do.

It would be great if Mr Faranda had a revelation and stopped treating animals as property, stopped murdering pigs to make salami. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will ever happen. But for argument’s sake, let’s pretend it did. Let’s pretend that on the day of the pigs’ execution, Mr Faranda stumbles across the Ethereal Blend Blog while searching for women’s shoes online. He finds Tim and Adam’s arguments irrefutable so decides to become a vegan there and then. As part of this revelation he feels the need to go outside and look at the pigs that live in his yard. He bends down to look at the pigs, but this time he does not look upon them as property. He can now see them as individuals with inherent value – a value not determined by any other person, but instead endowed by the nature of their being. Namely, sentience: the capacity to experience and further to this, the ability to give inanimate things value. As Mr Faranda is now a born-again vegan, he does not kill the pigs. The fact that he does not kill the pigs means that the pigs continue living. Day after day, they continue to experience piggy pleasures. If Mr Faranda had not turned vegan and did decide to kill the pigs, the pigs would not have experienced the piggy pleasures that they have had since that day of revelation. It is a good thing that he decided not to kill them and it would have been a bad thing had he decided to cut their lives short and therefore deprive them of future experiences. By way of simple illustration we can easily see that intentionally killing for personal gain is a direct wrong.

If, dear reader, you indulge in ‘free range’ meat then you are not absolved of guilt. In order to aquire ‘free range’ flesh you need to render an animal dead and since killing the animal deprives them of future experiences even painless methods of killing (if they exist!) are acts of murder.

Much like an object will continue its motion unless friction comes into play, a being will continue to be unless thwarted by a intervenor. A murderer, cancer, cellular degeneration and accidental death can be all classed as friction. The question is: will you be the friction? Will you be the wrong?



For too long, ethical vegans (people who have the capability to cut through the cultural,social and intellectual bonds that constrain pure ethical deliberation to see the truth) have minced words and bitten their tongues in relation to their communications with omnivores about the facts of veganism. I believe many vegans don’t embrace the abolitionist position (the position that recognises that animals have morally significant interests and therefore should never be treated as a resource) because they are afraid of annoying their omnivore friends. There are no two ways about it: treating animals as merely the means to someone ends is wrong, and when the exploitation involves ending an animal’s life it is murder. This needs to be shouted out, not whispered in dark corners. We should raise the roof every time we hear a face value vegan uphold the cop-out subjectivist position of “I think it’s wrong but it’s okay if someone else does it”. It is and has always been wrong to exploit animals. It’s just been a matter of people discovering this, much like Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity. In the dark ages and ancient times nobody was aware that exploiting animals was wrong, just as nobody was aware that the Earth was flat and the earth revolved around the sun. Rigorous, informed and objective ethical thought by rational beings will always lead to the conclusion that meat is murder.

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People in glass houses



Human beings are great at blaming others, but do a very bad job of taking responsibility for their own actions. I see it all the time as a teacher: “But he did it too…” Unfortunately, as people age they tend to become more hypocritical, not less. The issues they deal with are bigger and so are the ramifications of their hypocrisy.

The Victorian State government has announced its latest scapegoat program. This one involves murdering foxes. I read about this in the June 19 edition of ‘The Age’ newspaper. Just like all articles involving animals written by ‘Age’ journalists, the tone is flippant and shows complete disregard for the animals interests. So much for objective and fair journalism! The State government scheme involves encouraging hunters to kill foxes by way of a lotto reward system. Every kill a hunter makes increases their chances to win prizes in monthly draws. The major prize, drawn at the end of the year, is – you guessed it – a gas guzzling, environment destroying four-wheel-drive!

It goes without saying, that any time a hunter kills an animal the animal is robbed of their life and we can assume they suffer before they die. Hunters do not care about the suffering of animals. If they did they wouldn’t be hunters. But what is worse here is that a reward system encourages a free for all bloodbath. In the rush to improve their chances of winning prizes, any sense of mercy that may linger somewhere deep inside them – any remnants of pity and compassion that they have had to repress since childhood (maybe hiding in their little toe) is obliterated and the suffering and agony of these animals is guaranteed. And of course more foxes will die than if there was no reward system – that’s the whole point of the reward system.

Foxes have the same faculties as domestic dogs and more importantly, have the same capacity for experiencing pleasure and pain. A responsible and caring dog guardian would recoil at the thought of their dog being treated the same way these foxes are being treated. Rationally, it is wrong to abuse a dog whether it is my dog, someone else’s or if it is unfortunate enough to not have a guardian. And a Fox is the same as a dog in the only way that matters: sentience, so a fox deserves as much ethical consideration as my dog.

Perhaps the most vomit inducing features of the article are the two quotes from Victorian Agricultural minister Joe Helper and hunter Bill Emmett. If there were a prize to be given for hypocrisy these two men would win equal first place. Mr Helper says that the program has already saved wildlife and ‘livestock’. In reference to what foxes do to lambs and sheep, Mr Helper said, “No farmer likes to go out and see what foxes do to lambs and sheep. It’s a pretty ugly sight and a pretty soul destroying sight.” At the end of the article Mr Emmett says, “You get a calf with no nose or ears, because the fox has torn them off…It’s not a pretty sight.”

There is no doubt that what carnivores do to survive is ugly and involves exploitation and suffering.  I’d love a world free from suffering and exploitation. A world where the lion can lay down with the lamb. I say this as a vegan. A person who intentionally tries to live an ethical life; making decisions that avoid exploiting humans and non-human animals and trying to promote happiness rather than suffering. I see myself as someone who is pro-happiness and anti-suffering. Mr Emmett and Mr Helper purport to care about the welfare of the animals attacked by foxes, but this is just an act. A guise to build public support for this scheme and the actions of hunters. Don’t for a second fall for their ploy.

Carnivores of all species inflict suffering on their victims and forcibly take away their lives. Mainstream media frequently depicts carnivores ripping apart their victims. These are popular TV programs and most people watch this destruction with awe, rather than revulsion. Why should we believe that Mr Emmett and Mr Helper are concerned about the welfare of a fox’s victim when the actions of other carnivores on wildlife programmes don’t concern them in the least? The reality is they don’t care about the welfare of the lamb. To them, the lamb is their property and they care that their property is being damaged.

People like Mr Helper and Mr Emmett are not in a position to judge foxes. These men, who pretend to care about the welfare of lambs and sheep, have the blood of countless animals on their hands. If we were to compare individuals, the suffering, loss of life, environmental destruction, carbon output and resource depletion caused by Mr Emmett or Mr Helper, vastly outweighs that caused by a single fox. As Victorian Agricultural minister, Mr Helper supports and promotes the animal agriculture industry, an industry that systematically exploits animals and inflicts extreme suffering on them. He is complicit in the suffering of every farm animal in Victoria.  And the suffering is horrific. They are branded, debeaked, castrated, have their backside cut off if they are a sheep, stuck in crates without room to move about, exposed to extremes of heat and cold and are often deprived of sunlight, food, water and exercise. To top it all off they are sent to the slaughterhouse to have their lives forcibly taken from them by way of a knife to the throat or a bolt to the brain. Many are fully conscious when they are dropped into vats of boiling water. Mr Emmett may or may not be an animal farmer, but one thing is for certain: as a hunter he is experienced at abusing, exploiting and inflicting suffering on animals. He has been responsible for taking the lives of many animals. Mr Emmett and Mr Helper say that this scheme is saving the lives of ‘livestock’ and wildlife, yet they regularly sit down to a meal of a dead animal – an animal they killed or was killed for them. And on Sundays the animal is probably a lamb…

People in glass houses shouldn’t shoot bullets. While I reject violence (even violence perpetrated against animal abusers), moral consistency requires that Mr Emmett and Mr Helper turn the gun on themselves, but clearly abandoning their animal abusing ways would be a better decision.

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  • admin


    The contrast of a number of articles in previous weeks has been a strange mix of hilarity and perversity.
    The article about the fox lotto was followed up days later in the Herald Sun about Kangaroos and Wallabies being at danger from foxes at the Ballarat Wildlife Park.
    Apparently the fox lotto Adam told us about is not the only war the dastardly foxes are facing at the moment because of Greg Parker , the owner as “Mr Parker has declared war on the foxes to protect the new joeys”.
    So .. we have established that not only are foxes the biggest danger to calves and other “liveSTOCK” (the industry word,not mine) but also the biggest danger to Kangaroos and their offspring.
    So with that in mind, read this,27574,25373251-1242,00.html
    OR just my summary – Another area of New South Wales (an Australian State) has been opened up for Kangaroo hunting.
    This area represents only a portion of the huge hunting effort happening every year in Australia but “TENS of thousands of joeys will be decapitated, shot or clubbed to death under government orders with the opening up of a vast area of NSW to commercial kangaroo shooting.”

    Consider what we have opened up, and what we have legislated into validity “rejected alternative ways to humanely kill joeys whose mothers have been killed by commercial shooters.”
    Also consider how cruel the foxes are being painted as being and compare their methods to ours and their motive to ours - “Decapitation or bludgeoning is demanded when a shooter finds a hairless baby still in its mother’s pouch, while older joeys must be bashed or shot.”
    Foxes are moral subjects , they are aware of their own existence ,their own pain and comfort,their own survival needs but are not as objectively aware and empathetic as humans *should* be.
    Humans purport to be moral AGENTS not just beings worthy of moral consideration (our own rights,comfort,needs) but beings capable of recognising the moral worth of other beings and treating them accordingly.
    Foxes are heartless predators preying on livestock and Kangaroos ? What a joke !

Swine flu phobia



As the world is gripped by swine flu phobia, it occurs to me that in disease and suffering, we are all equal. And I don’t mean we are equal in the way that most people mean it: ‘we are all equal (and by ‘all’ I mean all humans who happen to look like me, share my beliefs, share my way of life, live in a similar area as me or at least in countries as developed as mine…)’.

I mean that it is at times like these, when the same disease strikes humans and non human animals alike, that the fact that humans and non humans are equals comes to the fore. And predictably, it is at times like these that society does its best to entrench in all of us the unfounded belief that humans are somehow superior, better, different, smarter…

The fact is that a life is a life, full stop. To assert that one life is more worthy that another is utterly without merit. A sentient being, capable of joy, fear, pain, pleasure, suffering; how can that life be worth less than another? How can it be a commodity? Owned, sold, abused, killed – for another’s benefit? Why is a mother of one species less deserving of nurturing its young than a mother of another species? Why do we consider it acceptable to entertain one species at the expense and with the suffering of thousands of others?

Society has long used any number of excuses to justify its brutal stance towards non human animals. Today, when google is god and we are just a few clicks away from quasi-plausible justifications for just about everything, Shakespeare still encapsulates the irrefutable truth: if you prick us, do we not bleed?

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The fussiness of giving a damn


Society considers vegans fussy, but in fact, most omnivores are fussier eaters than vegans. Omnivores typically have a narrow diet. They shudder at the thought of eating tofu, yet they are happy to eat the innards of a dead animal. How ridiculous to wince at the sight of tofu – a product derived from an innocuous bean – yet get gastronomically aroused in the presence of guts and muscle from a dead being! Guts and muscle that once enabled a being to experience life, now slumped on some plate, quickly putrefying and filling with bacteria.

Typically vegans include a wide variety of foods in their diets. Plant foods that most omnivores have never heard of, let alone tried. The range and variety of foods a vegan can eat is massive. The edible plant kingdom is huge and far outstrips the range and variety of animal foods that omnivores commonly eat. So frequently an omnivore’s diet is more restricted than a vegans. The difference between a varied omnivore diet and a vegan one amounts to dead animals and their excretions.

About a week ago a friend of mine invited me to a seminar. He is an omnivore and I decided to bring lunch for both of us. The reason I did this was because I knew that if I brought food he wouldn’t be purchasing any dead animals and it was another opportunity for him to experience vegan food. And even though I know that it is highly unlikely that he will ever be a vegan, I wanted to help him understand what vegan food was all about. When I told him I brought sandwiches, his immediate instinctive reaction was to be negative and make a joke about it. His mind is so closed to veganism that he instinctively made a joke. I find this extremely irrational given there is nothing icky or grotesque about eating edible plant foods. Plant foods are not procured from the bodies of animals. They are not procured from the flesh, guts and bones of animals. What substance is more stomach-churning than rotting animal parts? I don’t know of any. On the other hand, plant foods are innocuous. No pain is involved in the procurement because plants don’t have a central nervous system, they don’t have nerve receptors, they do not have the capacity to experience anything. Now back to my friend. When he got around to tasting the sandwich he was surprised. He actually enjoyed the sandwich and said it was the best sandwich he ever tasted. What’s interesting about this is that he has tried vegan food before and he enjoyed it then too. His mind is so fixated and restricted, that every time he is presented with vegan food his irrational fears are renewed. It doesn’t matter that he has had positive experiences with vegan food in the past, each time he is offered vegan food he expects it to be a nasty experience. Later on I offered him a vegan cupcake. This cupcake looked no different to a non-vegan cupcake, yet his instinctive reaction again was of disgust – he made another joke. When I eventually convinced him to try it, he was pleasantly surprised again. It didn’t matter how many times he ate vegan food that was enjoyable, every time he was offered vegan food his immediate reaction was negative. If that is not fussiness, I don’t know what is.

Now let’s look at the big picture – let’s move away from talk of diet because veganism is more than just a diet. Let’s change our focus to the wider understanding of fussiness. To be “fussy” in the strict sense is to be excessive and particular about trivialities. Were the suffragettes fussy in their demands for equal rights for women? Are people who avoid buying sweatshop products fussy about labour practices? Is the expectance of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work fussy? Is the person who avoids buying products made from child labour fussy? Of course not. None of these stances/actions are fussy. And neither is a vegan when they intentionally avoid products and practices that are tied to animal exploitation and abuse. There is nothing trivial about animal exploitation and abuse. And showing concern about the suffering of sentience beings is not fussy. On the contrary, it is a necessary expression of an evolved human, of an ethical being.

Society needs to revise its attitude towards individuals who take steps to avoid unethical actions and use good judgement to inform their decisions. It can only be considered a good thing to avoid unethical actions. On one level, veganism is about avoidance. The vegan recognises that some actions need to be avoided because they are unethical. This avoidance should never be deemed fussy because the driving force is ethics. Ethics is an important concept, not some triviality like taste or fashion. While avoiding unethical actions, at the same time veganism is expansive because it promotes positive actions. It is not enough to just avoid doing bad things, we should also take actions that improve the lot of sentient individuals.

As I have demonstrated, omnivores are typically fussy about what they eat. They are fixated on their taste buds; they let their taste buds drive their actions, but are lax in their acceptance of responsibilities to dietary actions. This dietary laxness is indicative of their general moral laxness and conversely, their mental restrictions. The omnivore psyche is a narrow mindset, which restricts ethical thought and ethical deliberation. And hence they have moral blinkers on, blinkers that guide them to certain types of foods. On the other hand, the value system of vegans drives them to do the right thing and avoid certain foods/products. Their sense of right and wrong and their motivation to do the right thing informs their decisions.

People think veganism is a restrictive lifestyle, but letting tastebuds, convenience and tradition dominate your life is a restriction beyond measure because it lets the trivial dominate, suppress and incarcerate the significant.

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  • Naty


    Agreed. Personally I have found that my diet was far less varied and less healthy when I was an omnivore than now that I am vegan. I also have a more varied diet than the diet of my omnivore friends and family.

    More to the point, I am a lot more aware of what I am eating: I can name just about all the ingredients in all my foods and am no stranger to the ingredients labels (including the dreaded additive numbers). If being informed constitutes fussiness in some people’s books, then so be it. I for one think that making a concerted effort to consider all the information available before making a decision as to what to eat is not a sign of fussiness. Rather, it’s a sign of an ethical and morally conscious individual.

  • Tim


    Yes – to any broad spectrum omnivore who considers me fussy as a vegan, consider this …

    1 Milk – You only drink milk procured from a genetically warped bovine with a diseased over inflated
    udder producing milk while its child is sent to slaughter, wasting thousands of litres of water in the process,on the other hand I will happily drink Soy milk, Oat milk, Cashew Milk,Almond Milk, Quinoa Milk,Hemp Milk and a legion of other healthy,cruelty free, tasty plant based milks.

    2 Protein – you derive your protein primarily from tissue taken from animals not too disimilar to yourself and at considerable risk to yourself (heart disease from the cholesterol and cancer from the H.C.A. type carcinogens produced when meat is cooked,not to mention salmonella) , On the other hand I get more than adequate protein (the average western diet is in major protein overdose and has it excreted through the kidneys) from plant milks,beans,seeds,nuts and grains in the form of Seitan,Tofu,Tempeh,Nutmeats and a vast number of mock meats that are almost indistinguishable from the cruel equivalents.

    3 Eggs /binding , You make all manner of otherwise lovely dishes disgusting by insisting they are held together with what amounts to an avian period or afterbirth – instead of this I will enjoy cakes,muffins,desserts,pancakes and breakfast savouries with binding provided specific and complementary to the cooking, be it a simple egg replacer powder,mashed banana,applesauce,silken tofu,ground flaxseed, puréed prunes – the list goes on, and if you havent had a decent tofu scramble before, you don’t know what you’re missing !

    I could go on – but I’m sure you see a pattern emerging, Insisting on cholesterol and carcinagen laden cruelty infused products makes you a fussy omnivore and often a xenophobic one at that, try some vegan food and you will be rewarded with a happy heart in more ways than one.

That dirty word


Nothing annoys me more than ex-vegetarians. They annoy me more than people who have never been vegetarian because at least people who have never been vegetarian have the potential to become one. Ex-vegetarians are more often than not deeply disturbed individuals who, having rejected vegetarianism due to their own weakness, want to lash out at true vegetarians to try to appease their guilty consciences. Now they do this either consciously or unconsciously, but that is neither here nor there. The most disturbing part is that, like a lot of people, they deride others in order to make themselves feel better about their own inadequacies. As they lack the moral courage to persist with vegetarianism, they feel the need to justify their failure to others. By deriding vegetarians and vegetarianism, they seek absolution of guilt and reassurance from others that the decision they made was right. In trying to make themselves feel better about being morally weak, they spread lies about the nature of vegetarianism and resort to absurd and unfounded criticisms.

Ex-vegetarian – a dirty word in my book – and Michael Coulter, opinion writer for The Age newspaper, is one such individual.

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  • Tim

    Very true – and how exactly can vegans constitute a plague ? If we first constitute a single percentage point of the population then maybe we can consider ourselves to be like locusts or a cloud of frogs.
    You’re truly ahead of the curve Coulter, vegans are a scourge with their water saving, suffering reducing, animal freeing ideas and lifestyle choices!