A View from Utopia

Image

Please check out my new essay published on The Flaming Vegan website.

….I look back in time and see a world I seldom imagine. I was raised to believe in goodness and kindness but what my history teacher taught me really distraught me. I opened my electronic history book and contemplated how lucky I was to be born now and not a hundred years ago. I look at how the Earth is now thriving again with awe and love and try to remember that it wasn’t always so….

http://www.theflamingvegan.com/view-post/THE-VIEW-FROM-UTOPIA

Photo courtesy of http://www.Pixabay.com

© The Flaming Vegan and VeganEmpowerment.com – March 2014 – All Rights Reserved. Printing by permission only.

CONDITIONING, HISTORY & SCIENCE: Breaking Free to better Advocate for Non-Humans and Humans

March 2nd, 2014

The Animal Advocacy Museum presents a talk by Veronique N. Perrot, World Peace Diet Facilitator, Holistic Vegan Coach and Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition, on the power of our society to condition us and how we can break free and help others get free by recognizing the signs of our own conditioning.

Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij0IRH0molw

Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM7pB9M6980

Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgOGeyn-3bE

HOW WE EXCUSE OUR HABITS

My Flixster account gave me some free movies, among them The Perfect Storm with George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane and other good actors. It is not the kind of movie I had planned on watching but because it was free, I thought, why not. As a Vegan, this movie gave me a good view of our speciesist behavior and how far it can be carried. The movie follows a group of fishermen hell bent on catching as many fishes as they can. They follow George Clooney on his fishing boat to hell in order to make money. 

It is striking that this movie is set in the 1990s during Hurricane Grace (the movie was shot in 2000) and that there was already some environmental awareness. It is supposedly based on a true story. It is obviously another movie with the cliché of man vs. the environment. We get the typical « we will prevail » moto and the hell with the damage we cause. Although, the « heroes » don’t survive it. They spend a good chunk of the movie enjoying their killing spree of big tunas, even showing the animals’ guts being taken out. I don’t think they used props for this as it looked very real to me (someone may correct me if I am wrong). Real animals seem to have died. They show real pleasure in doing so, which demonstrate how indoctrinated they are with their cultural habits. What is even more shocking is how they throw away the « bycatch » to the ocean with obvious disregard. There is not one ounce of regard for the fate of animals in this movie. 

The other really disturbing part of this movie is how they ignore the connection between over-fishing the ocean and the hurricane. The characters spend a great deal of time looking for fish that has obviously already been decimated in various parts of the ocean before they finally find a large group of fish to take. The destruction of the ocean is directly linked to climate change, hence the big hurricane which ironically hits them during the story. 

The final really disturbing part is how they will blindly risk their lives for their greed and obsession with selling the fish corpses they caught. This is the part of the movie where we are supposed to cheer them on as « brave », « courageous », etc… This is the part where I thought, if you get killed, that is your karma for not learning when you should. This movie is interesting in part but also so full of clichés, that it will easily be forgotten by me. Plus, you get an overdose of killing after 5 minutes. I believe the worst line of the movie is Diane Lane screaming to Michael Ironside (as the supposed villain) that « My man is out there risking his life for a bunch of stupid fish ». It is not the fish that is stupid, but humans for allowing themselves to believe that there is no alternative to the old ways. I didn’t find the characters particularly likable during the entire movie even though the actors themselves were very good. They seem to brag a lot (« I will get shit loads of fish ») and care only about the bottom line. I can’t really sympathize with them except on the level that I, as well, used to be part of the system too. I just never directly killed and paid someone else to do it. In a court of law, however, that makes me even more guilty. 


In the world right now, we have millions of people who, each day, excuse their own cultural (and/or religious) habits with « oh, i can’t be Vegan, it is too expensive », or « i tried it but it was too hard », or « there are no Vegan foods where I live », or « I like my meat » or even « God gave us animals to eat them » and other such non sense. As the movie above shows, deeply entrenched habits pervades all aspects of society, wherever you live. It is not simply some groups, it is everyone. But as the movie shows as well, there is a total absence of a higher thinking at work or alternative proposed. The movie is set in America. This is a country which uses up 25% of all resources in the world for just 2% of the world’s population. There ARE alternatives to fishing, like re-learning a trade that doesn’t involve killing and the destruction of the ocean. Yet, society at large (just as implied in this movie too) wants us to believe that some people have no choice. As I pointed out in a previous blog, if you live in a very poor country like the Congo and have nothing else, this is excusable (note that I didn’t say right). But in America, with all the incredible resources that we have, where is the excuse? I see none. We just want to cling to things of the past because it gives us comfort and some security. 

What this country as well as other industrialized countries fail to do (like this movie) is to recognize that we need to have higher thinking. Our egos have to die for the greater good because we simply don’t have time to wait anymore. We are also enslaved to powerful hidden (and not so hidden) interests who want us not to change. These includes banksters (to use a term from Thom Hartmann), corporations and the powerful behind the politicians they buy. There is no such thing as real choice from a societal point of view. The only choice we have is to wake up from the sleeping state we have all been put in and reject as much as we can what is being fed to us physically, mentally and spiritually. 

There is a universal constant to the human condition. We hate to change. If we change, it is because we are left with no choice or because pain forces us too. We also have this bad habit of not evolving faster than our technical abilities. We end up with destructive tendencies. The way to evolution is not to live more and more technologically complex lives, it is to relearn simplicity and wisdom. That wisdom has not left us. We simply buried it under tons of ridiculous daily rituals designed to keep us enslaved. 

In many ways, this is not really the fault of the individual that he has so many reasons to resist. None of these reasons are valid but they are all rooted in the same problem: cultural indoctrination. The way to break this is to show them that they have nothing to fear by changing, and everything to gain instead. We all win by going Vegan on this planet. There are no losers. I try to remember that for each issues we face in the world, there is always a minority which creates real changes. It never comes from the masses or the ones at the top. It always comes from a few at the bottom who want to shake the boat. We have to be the shakers, those who shine a bright light to the darkness out there. Because if we don’t, who will?

END OF THE LINE: Failure to recognize the real problem

The 2009 documentary End of the line, based on the book by British journalist Charles Clover, documents the state of « fisheries » in the world and how we are driving entire species to extinctions. It also shows what is happening behind the scenes with governments and corporations whose race to catch the last fish is destroying the worlds’ oceans.

This is a very informative documentary. However, I have two warnings: one, this is a mainstream, speciesist point of view. Not once do they even wonder what this must be like to the animals themselves. Everything is seen from a human-centric point of view.

Two: there are some very graphics images of what is done to the fishes. They don’t hide human brutality on the ocean and the animals (which makes it really even more disgusting). It shows humans as these aggressive predators who rape and tear up the fabric of ocean life. So if you are very sensitive, I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you can get past these two things however, this is a very good documentary which reinforced my views that going Vegan really is the only answer. The documentary does not address the fact that we don’t even need to eat fishes in the first place. There are some very haunting images in the movie. Some scenes are beautifully filmed which makes it even more compelling, although hard, to watch.

One of the most damning statements in the movie, made out of ignorance by a fisherman in Senegal, is when he says: “The Sea betrayed us”. In fact, it is humans who betrayed the sea with their greed.  Although I understand that this is this man’s subsistence and culture, it demonstrates the speciesist mentality at large. There is no consideration of alternatives anywhere in this documentary. The emphasis is on how to reduce the impact, not whether we need to catch fishes or not. It gives the usual pathetic recommendations of getting the list of what fishes are endangered and to be avoided and those “safe” to eat because they are not. It is about as bad as comparing Factory Farms to “humanely raised” animals. The same grotesque speciesism permeates the thinking behind this. It goes even further when it notes Wall Mart (sic) as an example of sustainability (when it comes to fishes).

How about not eating fish at all?

The impact of our tax dollars on the developing countries is very well documented. We are in essence paying for large boats and monstrous fishing trawls to rape the ocean in developing countries just so we can enjoy eating fish in an expensive restaurant. The little fisherman is a substance fisherman, as demonstrated by the man in Senegal. Just down the road from his home, giant boats are ready to make millions of dollars. The only profits are done by the European Union and other “developed” countries. And let’s not forget how wasteful this industry is. 10% of all the world’s “catch” is released in the ocean, from sea birds to turtles and even whales because they are not target species. One big issue in this documentary is that a lot of the fishes being caught are processed into feed for other fishes and livestock which we then eat. It is 40% of all the catch. So, this is also a human rights issue. This 40% does not go to feed poor humans, it goes to feed rich people in the west who want animal flesh. No one seems to realize that we have turned herbivores (cows) into fish predators to feed other herbivores (us). The best way to reduce that is stop eating animal flesh from land animals. Fish farms are also devastating. It takes about 5 kilos of anchovies to “make” one kilo of salmon.

In retrospect, I wonder what is wrong with the so-called human species. How immoral have we become? How greedy? There are no solutions, clearly, coming from governments as politicians are corrupted by the corporations who rape the oceans. One exception is Alaska which has fishing quotas well below the recovery threshold. But it still does not answer the question of whether we have a moral right to exploit other species, which we don’t. And it doesn’t make fishes any healthier for human consumption. Fish is fat and cholesterol that we don’t need. We can get the benefits of Omega 3’s from plant sources like hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, etc… I realize that this is not a documentary on health but answering that question makes eating fishes redundant if you are in a developed country.

The only hope that I can see is for Vegan education. As long as we see the ocean and the animals whose lives depend on it as commodities and things to use for our own profit and dubious benefit, we remain spiritually dead. Veganism is the only way to wake people up and show them alternatives. The person in Senegal may not have a choice, but someone in the western world does. We have a choice of not consuming what contributes to destruction when faced with healthy plant based foods which do not harm the planet. Let’s make this choice today and educate others to do the same. This documentary is a good tool to educate people to what is happening but clearly, we can go further.

 

For more on this documentary, visit the official website Endoftheline.com

You can watch a preview of the movie at Topdocumentary.com. You can also watch the entire movie instantly on Netflix.

And if you want to purchase, go to the official website or click this link : The End of the Line

For more information on adoption a healthy Vegan diet, please visit my website YourVegLife.com

 

Note: I have used the word « fishes » vs « fish » purposefully in the article to emphasize the animals as individuals even though it is not a common use.

© Copyright November 2012. All Rights Reserved. No printing without permission.

MY 2 CENTS ON HURRICANE SANDY

There has been a lot of discussion in the press about the consequences of Sandy on the country and the issue of Global Climate Change. Interestingly enough, the conservative mainstream media outlets are finally daring to use the words “Global Warming”. I was wondering all these months of crazy weather when someone would start to wake up. But is it a wakeup call?

I have read a number of articles from the mainstream press regarding the cause and effects of Global Warming. Not once did I see mention of what is called the proverbial “elephant in the room” of climate change: our meat, dairy and egg consumption. We now know from both the United Nation’s report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” and the WorldWatch Institute’s own report that the main cause of climate change is the type of food we consume. According to the UN report, it contributes a (conservative) 19% of greenhouse emissions but the WorldWatch institute goes as far as 51% of greenhouse emissions in their own reports as they include more externalities the UN report left out. To say that this is an inconvenient truth to the mainstream media and even the environmental movement is an understatement. What does the environment movement say to people? The usual: change your light bulbs, buy a hybrid car and recycle. It does not tell people what they really need to change: their fundamental relationship to food.

I followed Dr. Jill Stein, Presidential Candidate for the Green Party, as she brought fruits and vegetables to the people who have been blocking the Keystone Pipeline for over a month and how she got arrested. I felt a ray of hope: a candidate willing to get arrested who brings Fruits and Vegetables, not animal flesh to help them. What a symbol!

In the meantime, with only a few days left to the election, we are stuck with two false choices. On the one hand a President who pretends to be doing something for the environment and his presence at helping with rescue efforts after Sandy certainly helps making him look good as he is apparently pro-FEMA. But let’s not forget that he let TransCanada starts running its pipeline through the country, that he is for the so-call “clean coal” and has never addressed the real issue of our climate dilemma: our food habits and the big agribusinesses and USDA who determine our food supply. The USDA, after all, thinks ketchup is considered a vegetable (sic!). On the right, we have… well Mitt Romney. Do I need to even go there? These two candidates are one and the same, two sides of the same coin who just pretend to be opposed. But they are paid by the same people, the ones in the shadows, who really run the show: Big Corporations (which includes, the Industrial Military Complex, the Big Pharma industry, Big Oil and of course Big Agribusiness). So, who are they gonna work for? Who are they paid for? As Michael Moore would say, “Who’s Your Daddy?” It’s not us, the 99%, it’s not the planet and certainly not the biggest victims of it all: non-human animals.

What are the solutions? (If any). Grassroots movements have always changed politics from the bottom up, not the bottom down.  The Women’s movement made it possible for women to vote, the Anti-Slavery movement (who was NOT for “better conditions for slaves” aka welfare as it is done for animals) eventually won by being uncompromising. The Environmental movement should do the same as well as the Animal Rights movement. This is all part of the same thing. These are continuing struggles. Just because women have more equality, doesn’t mean that they are not attacked by extremists (mostly white old males) who want to tell them how to “run” their bodies (they probably think a woman’s body is like running a business). Just because slavery is illegal doesn’t mean it has disappeared. There is in fact more slavery in the world now than even before (sweatshops anyone?). Just because groups like the Humane Society of the United States “win” so-called welfare victories (which they are not) doesn’t mean animals are better off. (It is far from it since they are putting themselves in bed with the animal abusers. It would be like the jews working with the Nazis for better food and conditions.) And because Obama has put money into green programs like solar and wind doesn’t make him an environmental president, far from it.

We need to reclaim what we belong too. To paraphrase a famous Indian Chief: The Earth doesn’t belong to us, we belong to her. The animals don’t belong to us, they belong to themselves. And the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn’t belong to the super greedy rich, it belongs to us all.

As long as we ‘other’ the animals and the Earth (to quote the brilliant Colleen Patrick-Goudreau), and thereby separate their fate from ours, we can’t have peace and harmony on this planet. As long as we nurture the selfish attitude of the ‘other’ as being owned by us, we are not free. Freedom, peace and harmony come only with detachment (detachment is not disinterest), respect and love as well as an understanding that everything is here for his or her own reasons.

So in the next few days, if you are voting, don’t vote for the lesser of two evils, vote with your conscience. But remember that this is a drop in the ocean of what can be done. Whoever is elected can only make change if there is a mass movement to demand these changes. Our part as Vegans is to help people connect the dots between the environmental problems and our exploitation of animals. The two are intrinsically linked. Go out there, spread the Vegan message of inclusion. The more of us, the bigger the changes or God helps us all.