Tag Archives: Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party

MEATLESS ANYDAY AND A TEENAGER’S PLEDGE TO HELP CHICKENS

Recently, a sixteen-year-old high school student in British Columbia contacted me and asked me to help him help chickens. “First off, I would like to thank you for running in this election [for the Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party] and standing up for both animals and our environment,” he wrote. Then he requested my support for his petition, “Ban Battery Cages in Canada,”  against the brutal treatment of factory-farmed chickens, which references the Canadian Coalition for Farmed Animals as its source.

Canada factory farm chicken

Canadian factory farmed chickens. Hell on earth, and methane pollution in the atmosphere

As an animal advocate, I could not resist this appeal on behalf of billions of chickens. Ned’s petition is stellar. It reviews the condition of more than ninety percent of Canada’s egg-laying hens, detailing how these creatures are trapped in cramped wire “battery cages” for their entire lives, forced to exist in spaces smaller than an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper.

These conditions are not only cruel, Ned writes,  but they deprive hens of their natural behaviors of nesting, perching, dust-bathing, stretching their wings or even walking around, and the consequences can be dire. Chickens are fouled and sickened by urine and feces falling down from cages above them. Their feathers fall out and their skin is damaged. Their muscles waste from lack of use, their bones and skeletal systems become brittle, and their spinal cords deteriorate, leaving them paralyzed. Dying and dead chickens litter the cages and are often cannibalized by their surviving cage-mates.

“This is how millions of hens spend their entire lives in Canada, and yet nothing has been done to stop this,” Ned’s petition concludes. “We need to ban battery cages in Canada and make it mandatory for chickens to be raised in a free run or free range system. This is the humane and Canadian thing to do. … Please, for the sake of our animals and our people, do the right thing.”

I read through and signed the petition and agreed to promote it. Soon after, I connected with Ned by telephone and bombarded him with questions. What had driven this teenager’s desire to help chickens? And why had he chosen petitioning the government as the best way to achieve his goal?

“Oh, because at home we always ate free run eggs and one day I just asked my mom why. She gave me some information about battery cages, and when last October’s election was called, I looked at the platforms of all the different candidates, because I thought battery cages, and the way we treat chickens aren’t right, and that led me to your party, the AA/EV.”

“I’m a bit of the odd man out,” Ned admitted. “My friends also followed the campaign, especially about the legalization of pot issue, but I’m the only one who volunteered. And the petition came after the election, because petitions are important tools to achieve results. Look at Europe! Switzerland banned battery cages back in 1992!” Western Europe is way ahead of Canada in animal welfare, Ned and I agree.

And, because we also agree on the intelligence of chickens, and their right to live full, natural lives, I invoked the veganism I assumed we shared.
“Oh, I’m not vegan,” Ned said.

Not vegan? I was taken aback. How could someone so knowledgeable about chicken nature and culture, someone so compassionate about the treatment of animals, justify eating them?

Ned’s explanation was forthright. “We humans are animals, too, and animals have been eating other animals for centuries. I believe that if we treat them right and they live a full life, then there’s nothing wrong with eating them.”

There was more. “Hunting them is better than the food industry,” Ned said. “They live in the wild, and die without fear.” That’s certainly true, but it still implies that humans have the right to end a healthy animal’s life whenever they wish to. Which begs the question: what about veganism?

“I completely support and understand it,” Ned said promptly. “In fact, I’m considering it.

Not promising to do it, just considering it right now.”
How about committing to one meatless day a week? I suggested. It needn’t be a Monday; any day of the week would suffice, making it more convenient and easier for him to honour his commitment.

Ned did not hesitate. “I agree to one meatless day a week, starting next week,” he pledged. “And I also agree to take notes and let you know how I’m doing.”

Ned Taylor

Ned Taylor with Abbey

I can’t wait to hear, and not just because each of Ned’s Meatless Days will save an estimated .54 animals, for a grand total of twenty-eight each year. It’s because I’m confident that this challenge will be so easy for him, and so satisfying that he’ll not only embrace it for life – his life and the lives of animals he cares for so deeply – but that he’ll find ways to reach out to other young people who’ll be inspired to follow his example. When they do, their Meatless Days will add up to thousands of animals saved from the horrors of factory farming and the terror and anguish of slaughterhouses.

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Filed under Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party, Battery cages, Ned Taylor, factory farming. veganism, Elizabeth Abbott, Uncategorized

I’m running for Parliament to shout out Inconvenient Truths

For all the electioneering chatter about the environment and about greening Canada, there’s a huge element missing in the discussion and the political pledges—the inconvenient truth about animals and factory farming. I’m running for Parliament in the upcoming October 19th elections to tell those truths, and to speak out on behalf of animals.

animal rights correct human wrongs

Have you, too, ever wondered why even green-oriented politicians avoid or (at best) give glancing attention to the 650 million farmed animals slaughtered every year? Do they take their direction from former American Vice-President Al Gore, whose wildly influential documentary An Inconvenient Truth omitted to flag methane as the single greatest contributor (18%) to global greenhouse gas emissions and also failed to urge us to eat less meat as a way to save the planet?

Poppyo and I at vigil Jan. 2013the-horrors-of-factory-farming-21349353Why did Gore do that? In trying to figure out how such a convincing environmentalist could betray his own mission, I imagined a conversation in which Bill Clinton, whose near-fatal heart attacks had by then converted him into a vegan, grilled his friend and colleague Al Gore on that very issue.

Bill Clinton: Let’s talk about the illogic of claiming to be a Green Guy who cares about the environment when you don’t even mention animals! Sure, you laid it on thick about the other major villains—fossil fuels, the destruction of the world’s forests, and so on—and you challenged people to make small personal changes that would add up to big differences to stop climate change. And you called it a moral issue, not a political one. But you left out the mother of all inconvenient truths—the human treatment of animals and what that’s done to the environment.

Hey, don’t shrug your shoulders! You know the facts as well as I do. (He scrolls quickly on his tablet.) Just to refresh your memory: Factory farming is a major generator of greenhouse gases. Let me put it even more starkly. Sixty-five percent of human-related nitrous oxide comes from manure, and has 296 times (that’s 29,600%!) times the Global Warming potential of Co2. And factory farms account for 34 percent of all human-induced methane—Can’t you just smell those toxic cow farts?—and methane is 23 times (or 23,000%!) as warming as CO2! Then there’s the ammonia, most of which comes from these same factory farms. Besides the agony it causes the animals who are forced to breathe it in every day of their short lives, that ammonia is also responsible for widespread human illness, including respiratory disease.

Canada factory farm cow               Baby cow killed for cheeseloverCanada factory farm hamburger

Shall I go on? How about the irony that 33 percent of the world’s global arable land is devoted to producing crops to feed animals that are raised to be killed and eaten?

Al Gore: Stop! You know why I glossed over all that, Bill. It was a strategic decision. I figured that if I could convince people that climate change is a looming disaster but assure them that they can fight back against it by making small changes in their behaviour, then maybe they’d do it. But asking people to drive a hybrid car and to turn off the lights is a far cry from asking them to urge their government to make drastic changes to the way their food is produced. Come on, Bill. You’ve always told me to watch out that the agro-industrial lobby doesn’t clobber me and to make sure that I keep my eye on the pulse of the people, who are every bit as carnivorous as I am!

Bill Clinton: Sighs. You’re right, Al. How could you ask government to take on corporations like McDonald’s and all the other fast food outlets that are such wonderful customers of factory farmed animals?

kfc-scary-photo-3That imaginary conversation contains several Truths, all of them about political expediency and will. The thought of promoting the most Inconvenient Truth of all is so daunting that even the greenest-oriented political parties dismiss it, leaving it to Canada’s tiniest party – the Animal Alliance/Environment Voters Party – to enter the political fray with the most urgent message of all.

I am carrying that message to voters in my riding, and that message is resonating. Everywhere I go, people stop to encourage me and, often, to tell me stories about their personal epiphanies about factory farming. I’m winning! I won’t win a seat in Parliament, but I’m winning the battle to force the winners to confront my Inconvenient Truths.

When you go to vote, don’t vote for me,” I tell my audience at political rallies and meetings. “Vote, instead, for Canada’s millions of farmed animals, for animals tormented and trapped in useless laboratories, for our wildlife, our endangered species, our domestic animals, our marine animals. On voting day, remember that an X beside my name is a promise to millions of animals that finally, someone is speaking out for them and is committed to protecting them and to preserving the environment they share with us.”

AAEV Elizabeth Abbott 2

 

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Filed under Canada elections 2015, Uncategorized