The problem with factory farming is not the individual cases of abuse

When I stood in the city one afternoon several years ago informing people about the conditions of pigs raised for food as a part of an ongoing campaign, one person came up to me and said something like “That’s nothing weird. That’s how it looks like” (pictures in the campaign included pigs living in dirt and sometimes even together with dead friends, wounded pigs etc.). The attitude of the person commenting was that this is normal and that there is nothing we can do about it, so we shouldn’t talk about it or even care.

Is it not exactly this that is the problem? It’s so usual that the animals are suffering that no one reacts anymore, it’s just “normal” and “okay”.

The issue is bigger than just farmers treating their animals badly, there is a problem in the whole system. Raising animals is not simply raising animals, so to speak. It’s an industry where living creatures are held and slaughtered on assembly lines like they were products. There’s no time, no space, no resources for well-being among the animals in an industry like the animal industry today (I don’t believe animals can be happy in any kind of situation where they are used for our purposes, but that’s another story). Animal “products” are cheap, even though the cost of production may not be, and people consume more and more of certain products, which leads to a faster and faster spinning industry. It’s not good for anyone’s well-being – not ours, not the animals’, not the nature’s. Something has to change.

This is one reason why I’m an activist. “Activist” may sound very ugly in some people’s ears, but that does not make me want to stop being one. I’m not ashamed. Prejudices are not a reason to stop fighting for things you believe in. I don’t want to live my life just watching the world get darker, if there’s something I can do to change this world to the better, I will fight to do it. I hope you will too, whatever it is that you believe in.

I don’t want to pay for continued cruelty

Recently the animal rights group Oikeutta Eläimille released new footage from Finnish farms, this time including pig farms, a goat farm, a dairy farm and a farm for egg-laying hens. The group have released this kind of footage pretty much regularly since 2007, and the conditions at the farms never get any better, even though there have been discussions around the footage and animal welfare every time.

The industry gets subsidies from both the Finnish government and the European Union (i.e. from our tax money) to better their image. Not to advance the welfare of the animals, but to better the bad image that the industry has got thanks to the footage that has been released and because people have gotten more conscious about what they eat. I don’t understand the logic behind this, why give money to an industry so that they make a bigger gap between what is shown in their commercials and what is the truth? If we would like to give funds, then why don’t focus on advancing the welfare of the animals instead? Wouldn’t that be a better use for the money? Giving money to better the image so that people will continue to buy meat is not a solution to the problem, it’s a cover-up.

Oikeutta Eläimille has started a petition to make this kind of subsidies history. You can find the petition here. Please sign it if you care about animal welfare and think it’s wrong to give funding for covering up cruelty and bettering the image of an industry with so much problems. This is what the petition-site says, loosely translated into English:

“Petition: No subsidies for cruelty!

I the beginning of the year new shocking pictures from pig farms were released. At the same time the meat industry got 1,5 million euros in subsidies for advertisement of pork.

Factory farming causes suffering to animals and big environmental problems. No more subsidies from the society for advertisement of animal products!”

Vetoomus: Ei tukea kärsimykselle!

Alkuvuodesta julkisuuteen tuli uusia shokkikuvia sikaloista. Samaan aikaan lihateollisuus sai puolitoista miljoonaa euroa verorahoja sianlihan markkinointiin.

Eläintuotanto aiheuttaa kärsimystä eläimille ja suuria ympäristöongelmia. Ei enää yhteiskunnan tukea eläintuotteiden markkinointiin!

– See more at: http://oikeuttaelaimille.net/vetoomus-ei-tukea-karsimykselle#sthash.ZXvX6MID.dpuf

Vetoomus: Ei tukea kärsimykselle!

Alkuvuodesta julkisuuteen tuli uusia shokkikuvia sikaloista. Samaan aikaan lihateollisuus sai puolitoista miljoonaa euroa verorahoja sianlihan markkinointiin.

Eläintuotanto aiheuttaa kärsimystä eläimille ja suuria ympäristöongelmia. Ei enää yhteiskunnan tukea eläintuotteiden markkinointiin!

– See more at: http://oikeuttaelaimille.net/vetoomus-ei-tukea-karsimykselle#sthash.ZXvX6MID.dpuf

If you would like to see the new footage, it can be found at elaintehtaat.fi (the site is in Finnish, but you don’t really need any Finnish language skills to be able to find the footage). Viewer discretion is advised.

Esther the Wonder Pig

I’m quite sure that no one of you has missed Esther the Wonder Pig, the micro-pig who turned out to not be so small after all, and who changed the lives of the two guys who took her in. But if you haven’t heard of Esther, this post is for you!

As I said, Esther was thought to be a micro-pig at the time Derek and Steve took her in, but she kept on growing and is now a 400 pound lady. The guys still decided to keep her in their lives – and in their home – and she changed their perceptions of pigs. They started a website and a Facebook-page about Esther, and a lot of people around the world are now following her everyday life. I’m sure she has changed a lot of people by just being herself and showing that pigs are not food.

Picture from Esther’s Facebook-page

Big things are getting built around Esther and what was started through her. Esther’s Kitchen, full of vegan recipes, has recently launched, and the amazing couple who cares for Esther are now starting up a sanctuary to save other animals. I’m amazed not only by Esther – she is probably not more extraordinary than any other pig out there, she just got very lucky – but also by Derek and Steve. They have created something big amazing out of what happened, when they could have just done what most other people probably would have done if they realized their micro-pig wasn’t so small after all – get rid of her. Instead of doing that, they have created a movement that uses positivity and humor to tell people about the horrors of factory farming – and its alternative: vegan food and happy animals. It’s very inspiring and I wish them and Esther all the best.

If you want to know more about Esther and what’s going on around her – please check out her Facebook-page and her website. Maybe you will be as inspired as me!

The Ghosts in Our Machine – thoughts after the screening

We went to see the documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine in the cinema yesterday, and it did live up to my expectations.

It was beautifully filmed, and both painful and pleasing to watch. Painful because of all the depictions of suffering animals in captivity, pleasing because of the depicted happiness and love of the animals that were rescued and brought to sanctuary (in this case Farm Sanctuary in New York). It was also an interesting behind-the-scenes story of the work Jo-Anne McArthur does, a very painful and distressing – but also very important – job.

DSC_0982#The picture is my own, taken last summer at a cattle farm here in Finland

For me as a several year vegan and animal activist the issues brought up were not new, but it was still powerful. It gave me motivation to continue doing what I do, and continuously striving to finding new ways of helping animals, even if it is painful. Somehow I also felt a little bit of peace in the middle of all the pain, because I know I do my best to not contribute to the suffering of all these animals. Even if I can’t save them all, at least I’m not putting their flesh in my mouth, their skin on my feet, or chemicals tested on them in my face. Most of the time it does not feel like that’s enough, but sometimes I still get to feel that peace, and parts of this film gave me that.

The film does not explain much what animal rights and the activism for animals is all about. Instead it depicts the suffering of animals in different life situations and the work of different animal activists. The footage is most likely eye-opening for someone who is not familiar with the suffering of animals in our world, even if it doesn’t give all the facts. The facts can always be found elsewhere.

My summary goes like this: WATCH IT, you will not regret that you did.

The Ghosts in Our Machine

The documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine is about Jo-Anne McArthur and the work she has done for animals during the years, through her amazing photographs of animals in different life situations – those being exploited as well as those living in sanctuaries. The documentary seeks to open our eyes to the way we treat animals in this world – to point out the ghosts in our machinery – that in almost every part of our life, there is an animal being exploited, whether it’s for food, clothing, research or entertainment. It also is a depiction of animal rights activism today, where it is and where it might be going.

The documentary started screening in different parts of the world already in the end of last year, and now the time has come for it to be screened also here in Helsinki. It can be seen on three different days this week, during Helsinki Documentary Film Festival:

  • Tuesday 28.1 at 9 pm in Kinopalatsi 8, Kaisaniemenkatu 2
  • Wednesday 29.1 at 2.30 pm in Kinopalatsi 8, Kaisaniemenkatu 2
  • Friday 31.1 at 5 pm in Bio Rex, Mannerheimintie 22-24

Tickets can be booked online through the film festival’s home page, where you can also check out the other documentaries that will be screened during the week.

I’m hoping to go one of these days – if I don’t get a worse cold that the one I’m having right now – because I’ve really been looking forward to this film. I love Jo-Anne McArthur’s photographs, out of which many can be viewed on the We Animals – webpage, and I am excited to hear her story.

If you want to know more about the film, please visit the Ghosts in Our Machine’s webpage. There you can find out when it will be screened in your area (or request a screening if there is none), pre-order the DVD, watch the interactive story about the documentary and find out how you can get involved – among other things!

Finnish factory farming exposed, again

Last week new pictures and videos from Finnish factory farms were released by the animal rights organization Oikeutta Eläimille. This time the footage is taken at several different types of farms, including pigs, cows and chickens raised for different purposes. The footage was originally released during the 45 minuuttia (45 minutes) show in Finnish TV, where also animal activist spoke about why it is important to show what goes on behind the closed doors of the factory farms.

The footage can be found on the website eläintehtaat.fi (translates to “animal factories”). Videos are added to the site as soon after they have been filmed as possible.

On the site you can also watch the story of two piglet brothers (Pig Vision – The Journey of two Brothers), both born into the farm industry, but ending up living totally different lives. One of them is kept at the factory farm and end his life by being slaughtered at 7 months old. The other is rescued and brought to an animal sanctuary where he still lives today. Some of the footage in the video is horrifying – however, common practice within the industry – but the video also paints a picture of how the life of a pig could be if he or she would be allowed to be a pig instead of just a product. The video is originally made by the United Creations organization in Austria:

Animal sanctuaries

For some time now I’ve been looking into different animal sanctuaries and their internship programmes. An animal sanctuary is shortly put a place where animals can live the rest of their lives on their own conditions instead of ours. I have never visited one, since there are no such places close to where I live. However, I’m hoping to go away to one of them for a few months in a near future, to  learn more about the animals, to work with them and to get to be close to them. And of course to meet other people who are as dedicated as me when it comes to animals.

I’m mainly interested in sanctuaries for farmed animals, animals that most people see as the source of food, so that I could see another side of these animals, learn more about their behaviours in general as well as get to know some individuals. However, I haven’t found any sanctuaries for farmed animals in Europe yet, so if someone knows of any, please tell me.