Happy Mother's Day to All Species
Happy Mother's Day to Mothers of all species! I know and see daily that Pumpkin's love of her daughters Charlotte and Millie is every bit as real and strong as a human mother.
Don't All Mothers Deserve a Happy Mother's Day?
I was outside with all three pigs today and Charlotte was getting a little hot from the sun and started rooting in a place that wasn't ideal (we share our yard with everyone else in our condo complex). So, I went to move her to a place where it would be okay and picked her up in a way that she isn't used to being carried. Instantly she started belting out her scared cry. Usually this is reserved for terrifying things like little bunnies jumping on her while she's sleeping. But, today she was just not ready to be picked up and I didn't have her in the usual hold that makes her feel secure. But, this isn't the interesting part. What happened next is what both impressed me and made me realize yet again that pig families are very closely bonded.
As Charlotte let out her cry, instantly, Millie and Pumpkin abandoned their grass munching and charged towards the sound. Little Millie was making the deepest grunts she could. I imagine she was yelling, "Let go of my sister or you shall feel my wrath!" She may be small, but she sounded like a 300 pound pig charging to the defense of her sister. And Pumpkin did the same. They looked like pig warriors charging to battle. Both immediately checked Charlotte out with their snouts as I put her back down. Satisfied that all was well, they went back to eating grass. But, it was clear that as much as they love food, they cared more about making sure their family was safe.
Far too often humans assume that we are the only species that has such strong family bonds. We believe that somehow we alone evolved this ability to form such close relationship with others. But, I'm daily shown how far from true this is. Both in the relationship I have with our pigs and the relationship our pigs have with each other. And this is just another reminded that this Mother's Day, we ought to think of the mother animals out there on farms who have their beloved family members and children taken from them over and over again. And we also should think about the mother animals separated from their young so that their children can be sold off to humans as pets (please adopt, don't shop!). And hopefully someday soon, we will stop treating animals like objects and all mothers will enjoy a truly happy Mother's Day.
There is nothing funny about naming anyone after an atrocity.
Yes, it is a provocative title. And some will try to argue that it is insensitive or worse to use this comparison for the intended purpose of this post. But, hopefully without hesitation, those of us not associating ourselves with hate based groups like neo-nazis or the KKK will agree that naming a Jewish child anything hinting at the Holocaust would be awful. And further, we'd agree that there was nothing humorous about this type of 'joke'. I only start with an example related to humans because unfortunately in our speciesist world, we struggle to understand the injustice created through applying different standards towards animals than towards humans in situations where it is unjustified. Further, we also neglect the feelings of humans that are not (or attempting not to be) speciesist, through our prejudicial words and actions. And words do have power and can lead us to do things that we might otherwise not have done simply because the language we use suggests it is okay.
As someone that is almost always walking one of my beloved companion pigs (who I view as my children), I frequently run into people that think naming pigs things that are plays on words related to the abuse and torment heaped upon animals in the world of animal agriculture. There is no shortage of people that ask if my pigs are named Chris P. Bacon. And, I try to start by asking them why they would ask that. And I do my best to not seem offended so that they can answer honestly. Almost always, people respond that it would be a funny name. So, I usually ask what part of making a pig into bacon is funny? Is it the raping of a mother pig by violating her sex organ while a farmer often tries to sexually stimulate her in other ways to encourage conception? It is the part where they take her babies away from her and then cut or shock her to go back and be raped again? Or is it the part where her children spend 6 months in a shed unable to do anything but wait to die. Yes, the fourth most intelligent animal, stuck in a shed with no stimulation but chewing on metal bars as they suffer mental torment and anguish prior to seeing the sun for the first time as they head to have their throats slit or be killed in a gas chamber (reminiscent of the Jewish Holocaust).
Some of these people do make the connection and realize that naming a pig after the atrocity committed against them isn't so funny. Others get angry, likely the result of feeling guilty about their role in the suffering they know pigs are going through and disliking being called out for trying to find humor in it. But, people need to be called out for their prejudices. Saying that the pig doesn't understand is not a justification. It ignores the impact their words have on those that love their pigs. And the way it suggests that there is human to be found in animal abuse.
But, it doesn't take much thought to realize that naming a pig Hammy, Hamlet, Kevin Bacon, and other plays on words related to the abuse pigs suffer is cruel and disgusting. And it teaches other adults and children to view even beloved pets as a promotion of the results of the violent business of animal agriculture. And asking someone with a pig if they've named their beloved companion one of these things is extremely insensitive to that person. My Pumpkin, Charlotte and Millie are not just raw materials in the production of food. They are living sentient beings that want to live. They love their children just as much as humans do. They communicate in their own pig language. They dream. They learn from the past and plan for the future. They deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. And there is absolutely nothing funny about joking that they are merely food items or a crude joke related to some food.
So, even if you think that because the pigs won't know what your words mean when you call them Bacon or Hammy or whatever… it doesn't mean your words are without power. They will impact those around you and continue to support the idea that pigs are merely objects for us to use. Just as naming a Jewish child Gas E. Chambers would both make light of the serious and horrible nature of the Holocaust, it would also encourage those around you to think that somehow the Holocaust was not so bad that it couldn't be joked about. The same things is true of pigs. You can decide if you want to support and endorse one of the cruelest practices mankind has ever perpetuated against innocent victims or you can think about the power of your words.
(*And for people looking to be offended and wanting to make outrageous claims without thinking about why they are really mad, let me clarify I am in no way trying to compare the pain and suffering of the victims of the human Holocaust with the animals suffering under the terror of animal agriculture. One cannot deny the similarities in how both groups aare/were treated by the oppressors and the justifications used. But, I can't compare one human's suffering to another human's. Suffering is not something that can be compared as it is a very individual thing.)
Whether you are vegan or vegetarian or neither, animals need your voice!
Regardless of if you are vegan, vegetarian or neither, you can still speak out for animals. Many people struggle with making the change to a compassionate diet with all the pressures and misinformation that society places on us. But, we know that animals need our protection. And, nearly all people agree that animals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. While only 6% of the population is said to be vegan, around 50% believe that animals deserve the same rights as humans in regards to protection for their life and right to be free. If that 50% speaks up, this world will be a better place for animals! So, get involved, speak out. We can make the world the place we know it should be for all living beings.
Travels with Pigs
Pumpkin, Charlotte, Rousseau (my human daughter),Tesla (the bunny) and I just got back from our week long trip to New York state as we traveled with the documentary The Last Pig by Allison Argo. I will have an update soon, but the girls are glad to be back together. Millie was happy to see her mom and sister.
The Pigs Have Adopted a Rabbit
Charlotte, Millie and Pumpkin have officially welcomed Oliver Bunny to the family. He's now welcome on their bed. Charlotte was initially jealous of seeing me holding Oliver, but now he's starting to grow on her.
Skip the Easter Ham. Celebrate Without Suffering.
Don't let your holiday celebrations and feast be tainted by animal suffering. It is so easy to have have a delicious feast without making another living being suffer. Thousands of pigs are currently headed to slaughter because Smithfield Foods expects people to fill their plates with the body parts of abused pigs. Be one of the millions of people choosing to fill their plates with compassion and not cruelty.
3 Pigs and a Lamb Doing Outreach
The pigs and I spent last week out on college campuses with a lot of amazing activists spreading the message of compassion for animals. And it truly feels like there are dozens of new vegans out there and hundreds of people, at the very least, rethinking how they view animals.
On Monday we stopped at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and had a great day of outreach. Charlotte, Pumpkin, and Karuna the Lamb (rescued by Anthony Collini from being used for 'leg of lamb' and 'lamb chops') drew people in and made them open to the message of rethinking -who- we eat.
The next day, we visited North Carolina A&T State University to meet middle and high school students attending an energy fair. I think Charlotte and Karuna made a huge impact on these students and they left with a lot of literature to read on the way back to their schools about how animals are treated. They seemed to be deeply impacted by meeting Charlotte and Karuna and many were announcing a desire to change their eating habits as we were talking to them.
On Thursday, we visited UNC Charlotte and had an amazing day and tons of help from local activists and students. We reached hundreds of people and again, Karuna, Charlotte and Pumpkin were working their magic.
We finished our trip at UNC Greensboro where Millie joined Charlotte and Karuna for one last day of activism.
Overall, the trip felt hugely successful. I witnessed Charlotte, Pumpkin, Millie, and Karuna veganize people almost magically. I heard so many people say things like 'This has really shaken my world view' or 'this changes everything'. And I watched VeganEvan work his magic on people too. Hopefully a world where all animals are treated with love and kindness is a little bit closer to reality!