Oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into? I feel like Dane when he makes himself watch horrible
videos of starving polar bears. This book is not for the weak of heart or stomach, particularly those who prefer the company of animals to people.
I am in the process of reading a number of books pertaining to spiritual activism, which will also be the topic of at least three upcoming articles. Planet Earth will not be around much longer, at least as we know it, and that is an indisputable fact, given the current state of, well, everything. We will all be going somewhere when we leave here, and I am not a believer that we will go to some "heaven" and spend the rest of eternity floating around playing the HAARP, oops, I mean harp. At this juncture in time and space, those who have prepared will experience transformation and transfiguration. I have prepared for 43 years, and the more we use our minds to create our new reality, the more it will be ready for us to inhabit when the moment arrives. My destination is My Own Little Planet, and my mission is to cleanse and clear all the horrible karma that animals have suffered throughout human history. I have my work cut out for the next several centuries. It is worse than I could even imagine—the cruelty that has been inflicted upon these poor innocents is beyond what most people can imagine. And so, as has been the case lately with the books that have screamed out, "read me next," this one will help prepare me for my work. But that will be the subject of upcoming articles and isn't the purpose of this review.
The author, Ingrid Newkirk, is the Founder and President of PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Sigh. Yes, I have some comments on that. Yes, they do have a pretty bad reputation, and I personally am not a supporter of any non-profit activist group because I don't trust any of them. And she certainly has a terrible reputation. Here's a quote from her Wikipedia article. Keep in mind, Wikipedia has a tendency to focus on negatives when they are in disagreement with the person. I am quite sure they are not advocates of vegetarianism and animal rights! This one is actually quoted from an article by Michael Specter (The New Yorker).
Newkirk is well read, and she can be witty. When she is not proselytizing, denouncing, or attacking the ninety-nine per cent of humanity that sees the world differently from the way she does, she is good company. After years of detestable public behavior, however, she has the popular image of a monster. Whenever I mentioned her name to friends, they would recoil. And she becomes more disliked with every peta [sic] stunt; she can't walk through an airport without accosting any woman who is wearing fur. She no longer takes vacations in tropical or poor countries like Mexico, because "I spend the whole time rescuing animals from their horrid owners."
OK, so that sounds a bit like what I am becoming, accosting people in grocery stores for buying/supporting
bioengineered "food," and clueless people that think everything is just fine and normal here, as we plummet into the abyss of complete biosphere/climate/societal
collapse, and as the U.S. Military continues to spray us with toxic substances and attack their own people with weather warfare. So, I can understand her
behavior. And I also realize that PETA has done an immense amount of good work in bringing the public's attention to horrendous animal cruelty, and stopping
it. The Wikipedia article gives many examples of their success, and I suggest you read it through. But again this is a book review, so most of the remainder
of it will focus on the book at hand.
Written in 1990, one might think it is outdated, but sadly, it is not. The human (barely) race is descending into deeper levels of evil and cruelty than ever before. Transhumanism and AI has taken control of the planet, and the total disregard—no, make that the abuse, plundering and pillaging of everything in the natural world for the purpose of greed—will be the end of us and Planet Earth. It is too late to save what we have here, but we must adopt a totally new attitude toward all life. Wherever we end up after this is done and gone, we must be determined to never repeat the horrors of this Death Culture. So what this book can accomplish for all of us is enlightenment towards a culture that supports and respects all life. And that begins by the way we perceive our reality and other life-forms that inhabit it.
The Foreword is written by Linda McCartney, my hero. I am a Linda McCartney vegetarian. It was she who, 33 years ago, changed my life for the better, when I took the leap and made the choice to never eat animals again. I followed her slogan "Never eat anything with a face." She writes:
A long time ago we realized that anyone who cares about the Earth—really cares—must stop eating animals. The more we read about deforestation, water pollution and topsoil erosion, the stronger that realization becomes. Of course, anyone who cares about animals must stop eating animals. Just the thought of what happens in a slaughterhouse is enough. We stopped eating meat the day we happened to look out our window during Sunday lunch and saw our young lambs playing happily, as kittens do, in the fields. Eating bits of them suddenly made no sense. In fact, it was revolting. If you want to live a longer and healthier life, the conclusion is exactly the same, naturally.
The book itself is divided into numerous categories, each chapter giving suggestions on things we all can
do to stop the atrocities being committed against animals. I would suspect a lot of the resources are outdated, but the information across the internet has
exploded in all these years, so there is no excuse for not investigating areas that interest you. Here are some other links to get you started, and they are
Wikipedia Page for People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
This is PETA's PDF list of cruelty-free companies that can be downloaded.
And this is Amazon's page for Newkirk's books, including this one.
Because there is so much information in this book that needs to be shared, it will be another one of my "extended projects," in which a number of articles I write will include quotes. I am currently working on two, and they will all be linked at the bottom of this page, updated as needed. I will include some here, too, but first, here's a rough outline of some of the topics Newkirk covers, and even that is pretty extensive.
Animal products, such as leather, fur, silk down, etc.;
Animals used in experiments;
Animals used in lab testing;
Hunting and fishing;
Factory farms, puppy mills and the capture and selling/keeping of wild or exotic animals;
Poisoning and contaminating the environment, such as all the plastics found inside dead whales that wash ashore;
Zoos, pet shops that carry live animals;
Abuse of any kind.
Recognizing that animals are our equals—fellow living creatures who have the same rights as human creatures;
Recognizing that animals DO feel love, pain, and just about every emotion that humans do. (To anyone devoted to animals, that's a no-brainer and we wonder how others can possibly be unaware of this.
Recognizing that each animal has its own unique personality and gifts. (Ditto my comment above.)
Recognizing that there are some people who should NEVER be a caretaker to an animal. (I know quite a few that should be forbidden by law from even keeping an animal.)
And I ABSOLUTELY advocate spaying and neutering.
I have a couple comments on issues of which I disagree with her. I am under the impression, (though I could
be in error), that she is even against keeping animals as companions. As I stated above, that is true for many people, but I also know many whose lives
are devoted to animal welfare, and I am one of them. For the latter, the human-animal relationship is a blessing for both parties. In those relationships,
a strong bond of love and devotion is formed and strengthened over the years, especially in an extended family that includes different species. As I type
this, I am still mourning the passing of my fifteen-year-old canine companion, and I know that at least two of my cats also are.
I have found over the years, that people, especially radical animal rights activists and animal communicators often do go too far in the opposite direction, forgetting that there are people who are qualified to be companions for animals Also. many "spiritual" people claim that animals are superior in their spiritual evolution to humans. I disagree. I have had companions who were indeed extremely advanced, but I have also had a good many that were much less spiritually awake and aware. Many people also claim that animals are our healers and are here to serve us, but I personally, as one who has devoted over forty years in spiritual pursuit, also disagree with that. Again, I've had companions that were like guardian angels to me, but I have had more that found their way to me because they needed my healing powers. So one cannot draw general conclusions with animals any more than with people. We are all on our own paths. We are not superior to animals, nor are they superior to us. We are all part of the life force here on this planet, and should reflect that truth in our behavior.
Yet I sometimes feel guilty for keeping my turtle rescues of over twenty years. Would they have been better off being set free? I dunno. I've struggled with it. In the days when "Nature" was "normal" setting them free would have been the best choice, but now? Whole species are being wiped out daily as a result of our dying planet, poisoned, polluted, and being used as a means of control and warfare. At least my turtles have food, shelter, safety, warmth, and fresh water, that is contaminated, as is all water on the planet now, but it is what I drink, rather than some toxic flood water they would be drinking otherwise. I hardly see any turtles any more, at least compared to decades ago. I've seen people deliberately swerve to hit an animal on the road. I have read that only one in a thousand baby turtles survive after hatching, depending on the species and circumstances.
A couple years ago, Dane rescued a partially paralyzed alligator lizard in his mountain residence in Northern California. He brought it home and his kids named it Herman. After a while, it healed and regained the use of its legs. I know the plan was to release it back into the forest, but I don't know if they did. Members of our community commented that perhaps it would be better to keep him safe. With the drought and wildfires, plus all the other toxic weather we are all experiencing everywhere now, it is a tough moral decision to make.
And I even feel that way about some zoos. When I lived in Cincinnati back in the early to mid-eighties, they were building huge areas that simulated the natural habitat of many animals, grouping them together as they would be found in the wild, minus the predators. It is another moral struggle, when their natural habitats, such as rain forests, jungles or plains are being destroyed and the inhabitants often brutalized. What is the right answer?
And the other issue I have with PETA—well, actually I have quite a few issues with them—but they have the reputation for euthanizing a huge percentage of the animals they take in, and a lot of people have issues with that one. I know that here, locally, most of the shelters do NOT euthanize, unless an animal is sick and suffering. If an animals is taken in, it has a permanent home until if and when it is adopted. Unless an animal is truly suffering, I really do not believe in euthanasia. I once had a cat who lived to be 22 years old. Toward the end, his health had failed so greatly and he seemed to be suffering, so after much angst, I decided to take him to be euthanized. But he had a different agenda. As soon as we got into the car, everything that could go wrong to deter us from leaving the driveway went wrong. I finally looked at him and said, "This isn't what you want, is it, Dash?" So I turned the car around and pulled back in. Five days later, he died, on his blanket, surrounded by the other cats with whom he had spent much of his life. They literally gathered around his death bed. That was years ago, and to this day, I know I made the right decision. Animals, as with people, do not want to pass in a sterile room away from those they love.
As mentioned earlier, I will be using this book in my upcoming activism articles. They will be listed at the bottom of the page when they are published, which will be updated accordingly. There is so much here that needs to be shared, so I’ll begin by using examples in the book to illustrate items on the list above.
I'll start with a particularly cruel practice of humans to boil lobsters alive. Every time I walk into Giant Eagle toward the back of the store, I get sick seeing these poor creatures in that tank, where people purchase them live. Here's what Newkirk says in Chapter 45: "Lobster Tales."
What if grocery stores kept live dogs (or even commonly consumed cows) crammed together in filthy glass containers with their legs taped together, and what if accompanying recipes suggested dropping fully conscious animals into a pot of boiling water? People would be outraged. But swap the mammalian victims for those with claws and antennae, and who cries "injustice."
Here's a few more lobster facts.
Lobsters are fascinating. They have a long childhood and an awkward adolescence. They use complicated signals to explore and establish social relationships with others. Their communications are direct and sophisticated. They flirt. Their pregnancies last 9 months. Some are right-handed, some left-handed. They've even been seen walking hand-in-hand. Some can live to be more than 150 years old, though few (1 percent) survive the world's most devastating predator—the species with whom lobsters share so many traits—the human being.
Like us, lobsters are vertebrates who feel pain; when they are tossed into scalding water, their claws scrape the sides of the pot as they struggle to get out. Their frantic and fruitless efforts have cause more than a kitchenful of cooks pangs of guilt.
Also keep in mind that you can get bacterial contamination from eating them. They eat sewage from
processing-plant runoff. So, what can you do? Remove lobsters from your diet and complain to stores and restaurants that carry live tanks. Ideally, as with
all activism issues, boycotting is the most effective means of forcing companies to cease their cruel behavior towards animals. Unfortunately, they
rarely listen to one person, so it takes a group of strong citizens that are capable to generating publicity. Otherwise they don't give a shit. I complain to
companies all the time about their products and practices.
For the second point listed above, here's some tips from Chapter 39: "Specious Souvenirs."
The United States is the world's largest consumer of endangered and exotic animal products—followed by Japan and Western Europe. Our country's superconsumers "gobble up" products made from the teeth, feathers, shells, skins—and habitats—of species who are in immediate danger of disappearing and those who are threatened. Tourists return home with elephant-leg umbrella stands and ivory jewelry and carvings; sea turtle-shell guitars and hair ornaments, and sea turtle skin creams; Nile crocodile-skin handbags; caiman boots; python purses; and leopard-skin coats. Most exotic animal products are now illegal and can be seized, without compensation, if discovered by Customs or wildlife officials. Still, most tourists fuel the illegal market unwittingly, unable to distinguish legal from illegal animal products (not that animals suffer less either way) as traders become increasingly savvy in the art of "laundering" their products from one country to another.
Of course, this is sickening, and not only endangered animals, but for any animal products. I would hope that
since this book was written, there have been improvements, but maybe not. I remember not too long ago seeing pictures posted online by some rich bastard
next to the giraffe he killed in Africa. How could anyone shoot such a magnificent creature? There are those of us that have fantasies of the tables
being turned, and miserable scumbags like this are pursued through the jungles and plains by herds of gun-toting elephants, giraffes, and rhinos. Wouldn't
that be amusing? Here are some products to avoid: ivory; tortoise-shell accessories or ANYTHING from a turtle or tortoise. PLEASE!!!; rugs, pelts,
hunting "trophies," and anything made from fur or skins, teeth, tusks, etc., and that includes marine mammals, reptiles and birds! And please check the
ingredients of all products for animals parts.
As always, complain, complain, complain to companies that support these atrocities!
The whole issue of using animals for experiments and lab testing is just horrific Why do these people think they have the right to do this to fellow life-forms on this planet. Shit, the U.S. Military is experimenting on US, so I guess that's a stupid question. It is all about the lack of respect for life. This quote is from Chapter 1: "The Ugly Side of Beauty."
Companies' slick advertisements of lipsticks, furniture polish, and other cosmetics and household products never include descriptions of what happens to the millions of rabbits, guinea pigs, and other animals still maimed and killed annually by many major companies in crude product tests.
The most common product tests are the Draize Eye Irritancy Test and the Lethal Dose 50 (percent) Test. The Draize test involves dripping substances, such as nail polish and dandruff shampoo, into rabbits' eyes to study reactions (often bleeding ulcerations) during a 3-21-day testing period. Lethal Dose tests involve force-feeding substances, such as toilet bowl cleaner to animals to observe reactions (including convulsions, emaciation, skin eruptions, and diarrhea) until a certain percentage, commonly 50 percent, of the animals die.
Information such as this leaves me bewildered. How any human being could inflict such torture is incomprehensible to me. I deeply and sincerely hope that these people reincarnate into their next lifetime on a planet where the tables are turned and they suffer the full effects of their karma. Fortunately, great headway has been made to stop much of this, thanks to groups like PETA and consumers that are more awake and aware. Here are three products I like. Both body washes are available for a buck at Dollar General. The Arm & Hammer is labelled "Vegan" and all three are labelled "No Animal Testing." The Ecos dish detergent is sold at Walmart for $2.37, and all ingredients are plant-based. The company is owned by women.
And pertaining to hunting, fishing and contaminating the environment, here are some facts from Chapter 18,
entitled "Be Fish Friendly." To give you an idea of just how ignorant people are, I once had a man argue with me that
he didn't think fish were animals. WTF!!?? Really, how can one argue with such ignorance? I've also had people claim they were vegetarians, "but they still
ate fish." Then you're
not a vegetarian, idiot. And the Catholic Church. The rule about not eating meat on Friday, so people stuff themselves on fish. You're eating a dead
animal. THAT'S CALLED MEAT.
Keeping in mind that this book was written in 1990, Newkirk states, "Around the world, close to 1,700 fishing vessels comb the oceans daily, leaving thousands of miles of plastic netting behind them, entangling and killing an estimated 100,000 marine mammals and at least 1 million birds annually. The boats dump garbage as well, choking and poisoning sea dwellers." (I looked that up and the numbers are much higher. I will include it in a related article.)
Think about that. The fishing industry is going kaput. Why? The above sentence answers that question, partially. How many magnificent whales, dolphins and other sea creatures are washing ashore dead, often filled with plastic and other toxic shit? Though I do not under any circumstances condone the eating of animals, it seems to me if all was done in moderation and compassion, it would be similar to the "natural" world, where eating another being was to keep from starving. The Indigenous Americans treated all life as sacred and never abused or wasted anything, But now everything is based on money and greed. That is finished. It is only a short amount of time before the world finally "gets it." Again, keeping in mind the date this book was written, she also writes, "Some fishes have been found to have 9 million times the level of PCBs in their flesh as the level found in their home waters."
Of course, ALL water on the face of the planet is contaminated now. At this point, everything we eat is contaminated. Here is an article on PCBs, (Polychlorinated biphenyl) from Wikipedia. Here are some quotes from the article.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are highly carcinogenic chemical compounds, formerly used in industrial and consumer products, whose production was banned in the United States by the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976 and internationally by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001.
PCBs are organochlorine compounds with the formula C12H10−xClx; they were once widely used in the manufacture of carbonless copy paper, as heat transfer fluids, and as dielectric and coolant fluids for electrical equipment.
But I think it's been a more recent discovery that the contamination is way more widespread than originally thought. They are found in all water across the entire planet. Why would anyone want to eat seafood?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) rendered PCBs as definite carcinogens in humans. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PCBs cause cancer in animals and are probable human carcinogens. Many rivers and buildings, including schools, parks, and other sites, are contaminated with PCBs and there has been contamination of food supplies with the substances. Moreover, because of their use as a coolant in electric transformers, PCBs still persist in built environments.
An estimated 1.2 million tons have been produced globally. Though the EPA enforced the federal ban as of 1978, PCBs continued to create health problems in later years through their continued presence in soil and sediment, and from products which were made before 1979. In 1988, Tanabe estimated 370,000 tons were in the environment globally, and 780,000 tons were present in products, landfills, and dumps or kept in storage.
And it gets worse.
PCBs do not easily break down or degrade, which made them attractive for industries. PCB mixtures are resistant to acids, bases, oxidation, hydrolysis, and temperature change. They can generate extremely toxic dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans through partial oxidation. Intentional degradation as a treatment of unwanted PCBs generally requires high heat or catalysis.
PCBs readily penetrate skin, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and latex (natural rubber). PCB-resistant materials include Viton, polyethylene, polyvinyl acetate (PVA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), butyl rubber, nitrile rubber, and Neoprene.
Later on in the article, there is a listing of Mixtures and Trade Names, "Commercial PCB mixtures were marketed under the following names." There were nine countries that produced PCBs, and all had one or two products except Japan had three and the United States which had TWELVE. Two were Monsanto products, as was one of the two in the U.K. Also in the U.S. Westinghouse and GE are listed, but they were customers of Monsanto. Go figure. Monsanto is the most toxic company on the face of the planet. In 2018 the Ohio Attorney General (who was then Mike DeWine) sued them for poisoning every waterway in Ohio. I don't know the result of that lawsuit, but I suspect if they lost, they got out their wallets, paid the amount due, and went on with their business. Of course now Bayer is stuck covering their lawsuits. And speaking of Bayer, there was only one company listed under Germany for the production of PCBs . . . . When I was a toddler, my mother gave me Bayer Children's Aspirin. How is it that these companies that produce "medicines" also produce some of the most dangerous substances in the world? And by the way, there's a long section on Monsanto lawsuits. Wikipedia has it tagged "The neutrality of this section is disputed." HA! Probably not. I am by no means done with PCBs, and more information will show up in my next article. Anyways, let us continue with fish and more quotes from the book.
An Australian government survey found that the two most highly regarded aspects of recreational fishing were to relax and unwind, 43 percent, and to be outdoors, 28 percent. Further down on the list was fishing for food.
Fishes use their tongues and lips like hands—to gather food and build nests—making sport fishing both debilitating and cruel. Fishes who are caught but thrown back become vulnerable to infection and predation. Some fishers spear the animals to kill them; others let them suffocate.
Professor Frank Hird, eminent microbiologist of Melbourne University, has said, "The suffering that arises from neglecting biological justice in the fishing industry appalls me in the extreme," and "It is unthinkable for me that animals do not have pain receptors. They need them in order to survive dangerous situations. The argument which says that vertebrates such as fish do not feel pain in an argument of convenience."
Hooking is extremely painful to fish, as they have rich innervation in their lips, tongue, and mouth. "Playing" fish with low-weight line causes fish great pain and stress, and veterinarians and scientists, as well as animal activists, have condemned the practice."
I looked up "low-weight" line and the only pages that showed up were about fishing, so I don't really know what "playing" fish means. But I DO know that other practices of commercial fisheries are worse. It is mentioned in the book, and Dane has also spoken of the use of explosives to stun fish and make them easy to catch. I believe he said it was illegal, but still in practice. And just think of how many other sea animals die in the process. Here's a story on the compassion of fish.
Fish can be remarkably compassionate. A South African publication documented a case of a deformed Black Moor goldfish called "Blackie" and a Red Randi called "Big Red" who saved his life. Blackie had trouble swimming and for over a year Big Red came to his rescue daily. The publication stated: "Big Red constantly watches over his sick buddy, gently picking him up on his broad back and swimming him around the tank. When feeding time approaches and their keeper sprinkles goldfish food on the surface, Big Red immediately picks up Blackie and swims him to the surface where both feed.
One thing I've noticed is that places like Walmart no longer have fish tanks, and that's a good thing. I have nothing against aquariums as long as they are kept clean, not over-crowded and the fish all get along, and their habitat is interesting to them. Only those who are experts in fish-caretaking should be selling them, and people who buy them should be required to educate themselves on caring for fish. Below is a Black Moor Goldfish.
As mentioned above, (twice but this in important), I will be using the information from this book in a series of articles, so I can spread out the material from this book over a period of time. I have other related information along with it, such as data concerning plastic contamination in the oceans, and it is quite horrifying. All my related articles to this book will be listed below, as soon as they are posted.
Here are other articles linked to this review:
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