Archives for animals



Killing What You Eat: The Dark Side of Compassionate Carnivorism

There’s a relatively new category of conscientious consumer on the rise known as the “compassionate carnivore.” These are meat eaters who have chosen, with good reason, to remove themselves from the horrific practices of factory farming. In her thoughtful book, The Compassionate Carnivore, Catherine Friend puts it this way:

I believe it’s possible to show compassion for animals and still eat them. For me, this means paying attention. It means learning more about the animals I eat and taking some responsibility for their quality of life.

A significant number of meat consumers have taken this message seriously enough to become meat producers. Indeed, the urban homestead movement in particular has inspired untold numbers of urbanites to take compassion to the extreme and become part-time animal farmers themselves.

The rationale for this transition is multifaceted, and often quite convincing. “Those of us that raise our own animals,” one of my critics concisely points out, “are doing so because we don’t want to be part of the industrialized agricultural machine that routinely abuses animals for the sake of the almighty dollar.” An urban homesteader from Oakland went one further: “the level of appreciation for nature and life when you slaughter your own meat creates a kind of ethic that I think is what we need to save the world.” Read More »



San Francisco, City of Bans, Edition No. 3

First came a de facto ban of Happy Meals; then a proposal for a ban on circumcisions; now comes a proposal to ban the sale of just about every living animal, including goldfish. From the L.A. Times:

Yes, goldfish. And guppies, gobies, gouramies, glowlight tetras, German blue rams. No fish, no fowl, no reptiles, no amphibians, no cats, no dogs, no gerbils, no rats. If it flies, crawls, runs, swims or slithers, you would not be able to buy it in the city named for the patron saint of animals.

Read More »



Taking Lab Rats Seriously: The Case Against (Most) Animal Testing

Billions upon billions of animals are used every year for the purposes of scientific experimentation. It’s actually hard to think of another practice that’s as commonplace as it is controversial (biotechnology, perhaps?). It goes without saying that many of these experiments are a waste of time and resources. The NIH, for example, recently spent about $4 million exploring how the menstrual cycles of monkeys were influenced by cocaine, meth, and heroin. Other animal-based experiments, however, appear to have genuine utilitarian value, contributing useful information to our knowledge of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and several cancers. Delve into this issue and you’ll find that only one thing is certain: clear answers aren’t forthcoming.

I generally believe that animal experimentation is a morally flawed way to accumulate scientific knowledge. That said, I plead agnosticism when it comes to rare cases of direct benefit to human life. I’m sure that if one of my children were afflicted with a life threatening disease and experimentation on monkeys had a plausible chance of finding a cure, I’d reluctantly support that research. As much as I’d like to be consistent on this issue–as I’m able to be with, say, my diet–I’m afraid I must take convenient refuge in Emerson’s saying about foolish consistency and little minds. As I said, nothing about the morality of animal experimentation is easy. Read More »



Part Two, Contest Results: Piers Morgan and PETA Take on GoDaddy CEO (or the other way around?)

Last week’s post about Bob Parsons, CEO and Founder of GoDaddy, and his face-off against Piers Morgan and PETA over hunting elephants in Zimbabwe generated a lot of comments. Dean Karlan offers a follow-up, choosing a winner for the best comment, and delving further into the debate on whether elephants in Zimbabwe are endangered or if their population needs culling. Read More »



Piers Morgan and PETA Take on GoDaddy CEO (Or the Other Way Around?)

Bob Parsons, CEO and Founder of GoDaddy, faces off against Piers Morgan and PETA in a recent video. The issue is simple: Parsons went to Labola, Zimbabwe and killed an elephant, and proudly posted video and photos online. Why? Parsons claims a herd of elephants were wreaking havoc with the crops of local villagers, and that the meat from the killed elephant could feed an African village (literally). I’m guessing (although I’m not sure I care, and he does not say this) that he also is a hunter, and maybe enjoyed the process of the hunt. Read More »



Keeping The Competitive Edge

We’re taking a bike tour through the Everglades, and the guide mentioned one of the airboat “captains,” who did something seemingly irrational. Read More »



A Very Interesting Paragraph From …

… today’s Wall Street Journal:

Once upon a time, Americans got dogs for their sheep. Now they get sheep for their dogs. “I never dreamed it would go this far,” says Ms. Foster, 56 years old. Read More »



What Will San Francisco Ban Next?

I keep thinking the headlines are from The Onion but they are not. First we read that San Francisco has effectively banned the Happy Meal. Then we learn of a new law that bans people from sitting or lying on city sidewalks from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. (known, naturally, as the “sit/lie law”). Some months ago, the city’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare proposed banning the sale of any pets other than fish, but that measure has apparently been tabled. Read More »