A blog devoted to promoting veganism, equality, and the abolition of nonhuman slavery through information and topical reflections on related issues. The Vegan Vine aims to educate, inspire, and move people to embrace an ethical vegan way of life and to establish rights for ALL nonhumans in recognition of their moral value as persons, not property.
If you think cows are the only victims of the beef industry
and that chowing down on a hamburger or steak only affects them, think again.
For decades now, regulatory-captured federal and state
government agencies, primarily in the West, have been on a full out blitz to
decimate wild animals and waning species deemed a threat to the livestock
industry, particularly cattle. These agencies have betrayed their duties to
protect and defend wildlife and have chosen instead to guard corporate interests. Years ago I wrote on this issue, but it bears repeating as the
situation has only gotten worse.
Wolves, grizzlies, bison, coyotes, burrows, horses, prairie
dogs, elk, pumas, sea otters, bobcats, and mountain lions are just a few of the
species viciously targeted by government agencies using taxpayer dollars in
order to protect “live stock” investments.
The Wildlife Services agency, a branch of the USDA, has a
track record of executing millions of wild animals every year, mostly on behalf
of farmers, ranchers, and the animal industrial complex. Animals who are considered nuisances, who interfere with the
raising of cattle and the hunting of big game, don't stand a chance. According
to a three-part series by the Sacramento Bee, Wildlife Services has used steel traps,
wire snares, poison, and aerial shooting from helicopters to kill
indiscriminately, even those unintended animals like federally protected bald
eagles; more than 1,100 dogs, including family pets; as well as birds, beavers,
river otters, and rare and endangered species.
The Interagency Bison Management Plan claims to be concerned
with the welfare of Yellowstone National Parks' bison (American buffalo), yet
one of the IBMP’s members is the Montana Department of Livestock—a direct
conflict of interest. Politically motivated by corporate pursuits, the IBMP has
zero tolerance for wild animals like wolves and bison, who occasionally leave
the park. A common threat levied against bison is their potential to spread
tuberculosis in cattle, but this has been greatly exaggerated and unfounded. According
to the Buffalo Field Campaign, there has never been a documented transmission of
brucellosis from wild bison to livestock. The IBMP continues to use false
threats of bison transferring brucellosis to cattle as justification for the
murders of hundreds of bison.
Gray wolves have also suffered dearly as a prime target of the US Fish
and Wildlife Service. The agency along with Congress continue to play
games with the lives of gray wolves, listing and delisting them from the Endangered Species
List at will. Ranchers view the wolves as a direct threat to their livelihood
and have successfully lobbied government agencies for support. The government's hired marksmen have targeted wolves from helicopters in the air and trappers have
caught them on the ground.
Coyotes aren’t faring any
better. Every year the National Predator Hunters Association helps organize
events like Austin, Nevada’s annual “Coyote Derby” (pictured right) whereby participants are
encouraged to kill as many coyotes as possible. One participant interviewed by
a member of Catholic Concern for Animals said the derby is held in support of
local agricultural families that are having livestock decimated by predators.
Last September, the Bureau of Land Management—which
has become known as the organization that stood down to racist, right-wing
rancher Cliven Bundy and his band of thugs—began eliminating
800 plus wild horses from 1.2 million acres of Western land to placate cattle
ranchers. Many of the horses were injured or killed during capture, starved to
death or auctioned off for their meat.
State and federal governments are not only happy to lend
meat industries their services but, according to Meatonomics, also fork over taxpayer money to pay for it. The cattle industry is a major recipient of the
very type of government handouts that conservatives often decry as welfare.
Currently, 63 percent or $38 billion of taxpayer money is given to
animal food producers every year. And if that wasn’t enough, Americans also
incur $414.8 billion in annual externalized costs thanks to the meat and
Though cattle seem to get most of the government's
consideration, they fare no better. Viewed merely as meat machines, they are
protected so long as they too can be subjugated for a profit. For that matter,
any animal utilized for food or who gets in the way of this exploitive process
is in danger of being exterminated. For example, rather than curtail human
development and the fishing industry, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed gunning down 16,000 cormorants, birds who nest on Oregon's
East Sand Island, in order to prevent them from eating their natural diet of
salmon and trout. Why? So what remains of salmon and trout (human overfishing
has depleted these species) can be sold for human consumption. The bottom line
is the industry (money) is sacrosanct and animals are not.
One might assume, at the very least, that environmental
organizations are looking out for wildlife and fighting against corporate
interests, but even they have succumbed. Late last year the Natural Resources
Defense Council proclaimed victory in Illinois after Governor Pat Quinn signed
the Protection of Wildlife Bill. Sounds nice, right? Well, according to NRDC, the bill
will make hunting and shooting mountain lions, gray wolves, and black bears
illegal except in cases where the
animals threaten livestock. Apparently no animal is
safe when it comes to Big Ag.
Earlier this year, the Center
for Biological Diversity launched a project called Take Extinction Off Your Plate to educate people about the links between meat
consumption and wildlife loss. According to their website,livestock grazing is among the greatest direct
threats to imperiled species, affecting 14 percent of threatened or endangered
animals and 33 percent of threatened or endangered plants. Wild
animals suffer not only the collateral damage of meat-related deforestation,
drought, pollution, and climate change, but also direct targeting by the meat
industry. Native species are frequently killed to protect meat-production
profits, to reserve more feed for cattle, and because they disrupt the unnatural
homogenous landscapes desired by livestock managers.
I'm sure most people who eat beef products are not aware that in doing so they’re harming many more animals than just cows. Ultimately,
there would be no appeal for slaughtering wildlife and protecting cattle if consumers
didn’t compensate the animal agriculture industry through their beef purchases; yet another reason why people can’t claim to love animals and eat them.
Consumers have the power to make a difference for animals by
becoming informed citizens and making ethical choices. It starts with each
individual, an awareness of other life around us, and a willingness to go
against the crowd. It starts with going vegan.
The golden calf isn't relegated merely to antiquity; it exists even today, in many ungodly forms.
Poussin, Nicolas. The Adoration of the Golden Calf. 1633-1634. National Gallery, London. Wikipedia. Web. 28 July 2014. Vegan Starter Kit