Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category


Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

“If we use fuel to get our power, we are living on our capital and exhausting it rapidly. This method is barbarous and wantonly wastefull. A far better way would be to avail ourselves of the sun’s rays.”
—Nikola Tesla

I wrote the other day, in this blog:

There seems no doubt that we have to continually find ways to retrofit and reshape what we have already, with sustainable practices, technologies, actions and creative genius. What could be more destructive than smashing it to rubble, or building everything new—which takes remarkable amounts of energy? I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve read that it’s more sustainable to get full life (if we can call it that) out of your present car, then simply abandoning it and buying a hybrid—ie getting a new one built.

I still don’t know the facts with cars, but here’s a blog—the greenest building is the one already built—about the most sustainable homes (in general, of course) being homes that don’t get torn down for a long time. Tearing down and rebuilding homes evidently takes tons (or better put, decades) of energy.

It’s so difficult trying to figure out energy consumption when money (paying bills) covers our tracks—and our eyes. In other words, if we used X amount of energy, and then there was no, say, hot water left, we’d really get it. North America, if you have a little money, has this seemingly endless trough of energy, never stopping, never ending. This, of course, is false. But this is one of the reasons, among many, that the carbon tax idea is so dangerous, at least to my thinking. There is no real sacrifice involved. Just like fines for corporate polluting that are far lower than the resulting profits, it all becomes, simply, a trade off, and ultimately a hidden “tax” paid by the consumer, for as long as the consumer money is there. Clearly, Mother Earth has finite resources, although surely the sun offers us sustainable brilliance…

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ’til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
—Thomas Edison

Instead of paying for our waste, better question might be: must we create so much non-renewable waste to create a given product? Again, surely there is some sort of in-out ratio maximum and minimum that could be described as sustainable or piggy…

And here’s another site, called The Original Green. People are putting in a lot of work to figure these things out.

Sending you lots of sustainable thoughts. Love is the most sustainable thing going. And good, low-on-the-food-chain food, helps keep it flowing.

Pete xo


Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

In the Philosophy of Civilization, Albert Schweitzer wrote:

“We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”

If that’s true, we’ve got trouble ahead, my dear friends. Heck, we have got trouble ahead. But hope too. And intelligence. And forced adaptation.

As for me, I eat vegan at home and vegetarian not in the home (and moving towards veganism outside the home). At the same time, I humbly understand that my vegetarianism is to a degree a privilege of financial advantage and living in the West (India or Hawaii or multi-crop places make full local vegetarianism easily possible), and my body responds easily and well to the diet. Some bodies, it seems, don’t, including the Dalai Lama’s, evidently.

Let me explain what I meant by privileged: if I lived on a local diet in the Pacific Northwest, it would be difficult to not at least eat fish in winter (assuming there are fish left). Dairy would likely provide some good things, with a well-treated cow in the backyard. In the meantime, and Copenhagen notwithstanding, bringing out-of-season vegetables and fruit (and almond milk) into Vancouver all year round is no meat-eating Hummer driver, but still less than perfect fossil-fuel wise.

That said, I unequivocally abhor the cruelty inducing aspects of factory farming and much of subsidized/state socialistic agribusiness in general. Most any air-breathing being capable of exploring the situation would surely have some problem with the relentless mistreatment of these unfortunate animals (yearly, some 49,000,000,000 [49 billion] chickens alone are pushed through this clinical meat grinder), and their lack of anything reflecting a decent or normal existence, even prior to becoming a fast food crap burger.

Some humans, of course, will be indifferent to this process, and will simply think it’s a dog-eat-dog, or rather a human-eat-livestock world, regardless of how brutally the animals are mistreated, and some will violently defend their right to be cruel to animals if they damn well feel like it.

But for one who sees the pet dog and the about-to-be butchered pig in the same light, the same spectrum of feeling and emotion, what is there to do? For one who is against the endless mistreatment of animals, what is there to do? What should their stance be? How should or could they begin? I can’t say, but personally, I think it’s personal. And within our person we develop or degrade integrity and character by the things we stand (up) for, whatever they may be. In the meantime, here’s a thought provoking piece from the Georgia Straight. An excerpt:

In a phone interview from Newark, New Jersey, [Gary] Francione pointed out that the whole raison d’être of the animal-rights movement, like all social-justice movements, is to extend compassion and respect—without discrimination based on factors like race, sex, ability, or species—to all beings.

“It doesn’t make sense to go around yelling and condemning people.…There is a very misanthropic pulse that runs through the animal-rights movement,” he said. “If I was a seal hunter, I would be highly offended and I would be saying, ‘Why are they coming after me?’ Well, it’s because I’m an easy target.

I even felt this way about Michael Vick, the quarterback who was involved and charged for his ring-leading role in dog-fighting. As wretched as that ‘sport’ is, the reflexive, blind attack on Vick’s undeniable ignorance and cruelty, even sickness, was, for me, a profound explosion of unconscious hypocrisy in the extreme. “Let’s go bitch about that bastard Michael Vick over a double bacon cheeseburger at McDonald’s.” Great.

Francione, who is a massive proponent for the rights of animals, continues.

Similarly, I will have nothing to do with anti-fur campaigns. Should women wearing fur? No. But am I interested in [targeting] women who wear fur? Not really. I’m much more interested in leather, wool—the sorts of things that are worn ubiquitously. The fur issue is so small…it just gives people another reason to go up to women on the street and give them a hard time.

“Listen, I don’t like what they [hunters and fur farmers] are doing to animals, but I don’t like what any of us are doing to animals, and so I don’t see why they should be treated differently from anybody else. We all share in this mess. We’re all responsible, and we all have to do something about it.”

He said that although these groups give us many reasons to be alienated by the animal-rights movement, they’re not giving us any reason to change the way we view animals in any meaningful way.

“Their focus on media [stunts], fundraising, and welfare reform is backwards. Welfare reform serves only to make people more comfortable with the perpetuation of animal use. What is the causal relationship between animal-welfare reform and abolition of animal use? I have been asking myself this very question now for 23 years and I’ve never found an answer. There is no empirical proof that it has worked.”

Love to hear any intelligent thoughts. Here’s to hoping all sentient beings may be treated better, even our very selves, day by day by day, be a little kinder, a little softer, a little stronger in defending the innocent, everywhere…


“[A]ll breathing, existing, living sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away.”
— Acharanga Sutra (Jain) at 4.1.1.

Something like 56 billion animals are killed every year by the meat, dairy and egg industries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (stats for 2007).


Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Dear Richard,

Hope all is well. With the Copenhagen Summit nearing its end, and little apparent consensus on anything, I read this quote from you today (from December 7, 2009):

“Whatever you think about global warming and whether humans are responsible, I think we have to salute this remarkable feat of international cooperation. Here is an account, by a Guardian journalist, of the difficult process of getting the joint editorial together.”

My wife doesn’t think I should take issue with you for saying “Whatever you think…” She’s probably right. She’s almost always right. Nonetheless, with thousands of life-forms supposedly in peril—including our own—it really pushed a button in me, and I do take issue.

For since when do you say, “Whatever you think…” about anything? With respect to believers in God, I don’t think you’d every say: “Whatever you think…” You’ve said, in fact, things like some religious believers are “pig-headed and ignorant.” Fair enough, as a passing comment.

But with climate change, and going by your scientific guidelines, shouldn’t we only “salute this remarkable feat” if it’s in support of something true? For Richard—and I don’t disagree with your condescension here either—you do not salute two million people from countless nations gathering in Rome to wave to the Pope, as “remarkable” a “feat of international cooperation” as that may be.

And, because my issue with the above quote might just be one of semantics, or a misinterpretation, I actually take issue with it in combination with this quote from you in 2008:

“I am not that well versed on climate science and don’t feel qualified to take on the deniers. I am well versed in evolution, however, and that is why I am happy to take on creationists.”

I apologize if I’ve missed a lot of your writing on the subject, but that quote just doesn’t cut it.

To the contrary, Richard, you take on creationists and spirituality and, thankfully, extremists, while actually having, admittedly, very limited knowledge about the nuance of, say, Eastern philosophy, religion and belief (not an insignificant part of the story and, admittedly, a topic of interest to me).

However, you are a scientist—a great scientist. So I wonder this: as virulently outspoken as you are against your religious opponents, when will you be similarly outspoken where your scientific colleagues are concerned—one group of which must be dangerously wrong—and state for the record what the scientific data shows to be true, or what it doesn’t show to be true, in terms of climate change?


Why is this important? I’ll give you my reasons, but keep in mind—and I’m serious about this disadvantage—my IQ is undeniably not nearly as high as yours.

Nonetheless, I think your integrity—your fairness and objectivity—as a human being may be dependent upon taking an aggressive stance, not to mention vital to a portion of world perception, with regard to so-called man-made climate change.

Also, can you please explain how the lay-person is to understand the so-called rationale and clarity of science, when all these scientists, often with access to the same “incontrovertible” facts, are truly at each others’ throats with insults and accusations?

Further, you are considered one of the world’s most important intellectuals and you are undeniably brilliant in the field of evolutionary biology. I have read several of your bestsellers, as well as your largely ‘non-evolution’ book The God Delusion. Are religious fundamentalists in fact an utter disaster for humanity? Dangerous? To be sure, some are.

But from your point of view—and mine—fundamentalists are known to be irrational, and religion tends to be pathologically speculative.

But scientists and science? Is that not all about being rational? Impartial? So if we are truly in danger of mass extinction by our actions, why aren’t you becoming “well versed in climate science” to aggressively oppose those scientists who deny man-made climate change?

I fear your hatred for religion combined with your unstoppable belief in science has stopped you questioning if in fact science can deliver all you promise it can deliver.

Let me explain.


Only a fool would deny that the way human beings have come to understand and interact with the planet, through science and scientific advancements, is jaw-dropping in the extreme—I’m talking a jaw dragging on the floor, where once only our knuckles dragged. That I am right now alive thanks to modern medicine and using a small machine in my office to write this open letter, and then with one click of a button will post it to millions (well, in my case, hundreds) of other humans, is mind-boggling.

But similarly, only a fool (or a liar) would deny the mountains of experimental and experiential evidence of human carnage that proves scientists have produced and continue to produce the most hideous yet mind-blowing array of military weapons and environmental poisons imaginable, seemingly forever unsatisfied with their previous subsidized models of utter destruction.

Indeed, some of the greatest scientists of the 20th century gathered during World War II in Los Alamos to relentlessly pursue and capture the secrets of atomic fusion and fission, and created weaponry capable of destroying the species. Some still argue it was the right thing to do.


And here we are with so-called man-made climate change, which according to many scientists, threatens the species as we’ve never been threatened before. For the record, but only via the news and my limited understanding of science and the data, I tend to agree with this thesis—I’ve even written for—and it makes me scared for myself and all species on the planet.

I also fear that the monstrous size and nature of this ugly debate, and its resulting confusion, may be pushing to the fringes utterly undeniable environmental disasters. For example, the increasing lack of potable water for billions of humans; or the pending disaster (or ingenuity) that will arise with the continued depletion of fossil fuels.

Further, as the deniers of climate change become more persuasive—and they are, evidently, thanks to scientists and the media—I believe a side-effect of this polarized debate is oozing into a significant percentage of the masses and suggesting that all loud environmental concerns are likely exaggerated Left Wing/ New World Order conspiratorial ploys. And you think you had problems with religious fanatics? This is devastating to intelligent life.


I’m not sure what you think, but it seems to me that if scientists observing the same scientific data can end up in such a war of words, insults and polarized results, one can conclude a couple of possibilities, or a combination thereof:

One, that a scientist’s perspective on scientific data is actually alarmingly subjective—despite being considered science. Thus, one could ask, under certain conditions, of what use is it—particularly with human existence under pressure?

Or, two, if the scientific data on, say, climate change, is as undeniable as scientists say (on whichever side), then a percentage of scientists obviously can be so easily bought as to leave scientific ‘fact’ in peril—as we’ve seen perhaps with countless conscious or unconscious scientific stooges for, say, Big Pharma, or the Military Industrial Complex.

Both conclusions, incidentally, seem to be anathema to your belief that the scientific method is the ideology to live by if we are to survive as a species.

As you have said:

“Science is actually one of the most moral, one of the most honest disciplines around—because science would completely collapse if it weren’t for a scrupulous adherence to honesty in the reporting of evidence.”

At this point, Richard, while the species waits to see if what you say about science is accurate—or accurate enough—I’m more worried that what will “completely collapse” is the biosphere.

And there may be “a scrupulous adherence to honesty” in the science behind creating, say, nuclear weapons—one of untold science-driven inventions of devastation—but I’d be hesitant to use the word moral.


So where are you, Richard? Are you even a little bit aware or even ashamed, if not of science, of the limits of character and integrity within your scientific family, plagued as they seem to be by dishonesty and confusion—not unlike all others in all other facets of human existence? It’s obvious the exhausted George Monbiot is wringing his hands in lonely desperation. But George is a mere journalist. You are a scientist who declares science to be our only real hope. If we are truly in peril as a species, and being a scientist of great renown, shouldn’t you be a lot louder than George Monbiot?


In short, Richard, as of late 2009, most solidarity-inducing forms of listening, trust, debate and kindness between people of differing views but similar vulnerabilities seem to have gone to the dogs.

We lay people need you and other ‘rational’ scientists to step up with your detailed analysis of the evidence because it is vital for both the continued integrity of science and, evidently, life as we know it. And hopefully detailed analysis from outside a person’s scientific field will leave him or her less vulnerable to being sold out to big business or a rapacious desire for continued funding. Or perhaps not. Perhaps science, like politics, is to a frightening degree now run by corporations and lobbyists.

You alone have sold over two million copies of The God Delusion. Put some real clout behind the climate-change science. After all, so many of your colleagues are saying this is the greatest catastrophe in human history. Many other colleagues are saying it is a hoax. Ah, science—it’s beginning to sound like religion.

So I ask you, where do the scientist “deniers” of man-made climate change—with access to the same data as the “believers”—fit into your definition of science?

Many people undoubtedly want to know, including me, because as a non-scientist I’m truly confused by what are these days passing for science and freedom of speech—which has become a free-for-all led by the richest, rudest and most inflammatory. Are we not, all of us, unconsciously deafened by a cacophony of intentional lies, half-truths and unreason—sometimes our own?

Indeed, it is not solely the deniers of man-made climate change that make my belief in man-made climate change less stable, but also relentless boardroom manipulations like legalized theft for multinational corporations via carbon-tax speculation and the unconscionable lengths to which the financial sector will reshape reality to maximize profit.

And if the problem is largely the media—which have served your work so well—then, my god, rail against media (and use science if it helps).


Either way, in my opinion, as surely as any decent religious person should aggressively disown foul and murderous commands within their given holy text, you are ethically obliged to come out in full force against either the fallibility of scientific consensus due to the subjectivity quotient of scientific data, or the accidental incompetence of some of your scientific colleagues, or the corruptibility of some of your scientific colleagues (on whichever side).

In comparison, your attack on religion was easy. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, you don’t by definition respect religious believers. Secondly, many aspects of religion are laughably and hopelessly irrational. But these scientists are the proponents of your ideology and your bread and butter. They may even be your friends.

Are the facts obvious or not? Or are we experiencing The Man-Made Climate-Change Delusion?

Richard, if man-made climate change is truly putting the species at severe risk, please put field selectivity aside as you have surely done before. We need your honesty, your wisdom, your integrity, your outrage and your commitment to humanity.

If not, we lay people may just resort to prayer.

Sincerely and with affection,


FOOD and HEALTH CARE: The Avoided Curse

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

“The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be your medicine.”

These days, truly eating nutritiously and consciously is not only good for you, it’s a political act. If we are what we eat, then we’re highly processed and a lot of vacuous calories. We are junk food. If it’s not real food, are we then not real people? Or mostly corn syrup?

I still think, like a red light district, we should have a fast-food district. Vacuous, environmentally-hateful food need not be prohibited, just put in its place, a sort of decriminalized zone where johns and food producers who despise nutritional food and don’t care what our children eat can hang out. Instead of this, the food owners—from Philip Morris to Kraft to Nestle to Pepsi—perversely rule massive chunks of our politics, our (un) consciousness and our (ill) health.

If they didn’t, wouldn’t bad food (fast food, processed food) be brought up—like it should be—as perhaps the biggest cause of spiraling health care costs? We need harm reduction on the Downtown Eastside to be sure, but how about with ourselves?

Our food habits are so bad, that even our staples have gone to hell: brown rice to white rice, whole wheat bread to white bread, tons of sugar, endless corn and corn syrup and most everything processed.

Our basic food choices, and even the foods doled out as charity (let alone at public schools—now that’s criminal) I think teach us a lot about the hatefulness and control over our lives that we ignorantly surrender to bad-food makers—the fast food/agribusiness ignorance/addiction to short term profit.

Anyway, this report from the Tyee reminds me of at least a portion of what is at the bottom (of the barrel) of our unpreventive medicine, our health care problems, and the simultaneously perverse combination of being obese and suffering from malnutrition—not to mention being artificially sweetened.

Poor nutritional health is one of the major contributors to sickness in low-income neighbourhoods like the Downtown Eastside, and socio-economic status is among the most important factors associated with health disparities in Canada. For Stephanie, an unhealthy diet will soon take its toll. The Hepatitis C, which limits her liver’s ability to absorb nutrients, will further rundown her immune system and reduce her body’s ability to respond to HIV-related infections. This means increased hospital visits and additional strain on the public purse.

The financial cost is borne by every Canadian who pays taxes. Health-care spending in Canada is roughly $120 billion a year [I have read—but can’t verify, politics being politics—diabetes in the States costs $176 billion].

According to a 2004 study by the Health Disparities Task Group, the poorest 20 per cent of the general public (people like Stephanie) accounts for 31 per cent of health spending on people who aren’t institutionalized. That’s double the average spent on the richest 20 per cent.

Because a fifth of health-care spending can be attributed to income disparities alone, the study maintains that big savings could be had by raising the health status of low-income Canadians to middle income levels.

How about to all of us?

The full article is here.

Eat well and try to be happy,

Pete xox


Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

“Just like a red-light district, I would also push all fast-food restaurants and slaughterhouses to a fast-food district, maybe call it an animal-cruelty district, and people can go there if they really can’t stop themselves.”

Every time I hear about professional football player Michael Vick, I feel both sadness and disgust at the dog-fighting racket he was a part of. Most people would. And then I feel sadness, disgust and hopelessness at the hypocrisy and blind stupidity of most of the articles written about him—that by their blindness promote mass animal cruelty.

For the record, how much of Vick’s rehabilitation was about decreasing his consumption of cruelty-produced meat? The first thing he probably did upon release was take his contrition and go to a McDonald’s drive-thru. Ah, yes, free again.

This is an article from the Boston Herald summarizing his interview on 60 Minutes.

[60 Minutes interviewer James] Brown asked, “You cried a number of nights? About?”

Vick replied, “About what I did. Being away from my family. Letting so many people down. Letting myself down. Not being out on the football field. Being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home … All because of the so-called culture I thought was right, I thought it was cool, I thought it was fun and exciting. It all led to me lying in a prison bunk by myself — with nobody to talk to but myself.”

Why else do we eat fast food other than “because of the so-called culture I thought was right, I thought it was cool, I thought it was fun and exciting”? It surely isn’t remotely good for us, and it runs the inherently brutal and cruel factory-farm food producing culture. Perhaps, like the undeniably sick things that were done to those poor dogs, both processes are, in different ways, addicting. We are blindly addicted.

Brown asked Vick whom he blamed for what happened.

Vick said, “I blame me.”

Yes, first and foremost, blame Vick, by all means, for the torture of those poor dogs, and then perhaps mention a culture whose biggest businesses are things like weapons that are too foul to describe what they do, drugs whose illegality support incarceration and massive wealth and privilege for suppliers, and utterly cruel animal slaughtering factories that produce the raw materials for disease-producing fast food. All this in a rich (okay, bankrupted) culture where millions of children have no health care whatsoever.

Similarly for the cruelty of fast food production, I blame first and foremost the fast food giants and their advertisements for addictive, disease-inducing food—food served in schools, no less.

And how about a political (and parental) culture that can actually continue this endless, vital, yet possibly hopeless debate about health care reform, and not mention such white elephant-in-the-room-reasons the costs are so out of control? Three main reasons: fast food (and processed food), alcohol and cigarettes.

I blame the consumer, of course, too. It ain’t easy being human.

The “60 Minutes” piece recounted the downfall of Vick, who bankrolled and participated in an interstate dogfighting operation called Bad Newz Kennels on a farm he owned in rural Virginia. Police removed 66 injured dogs and exhumed the bodies of eight more. Vick pleaded guilty to being part of an operation that engaged in a litany of cruel acts upon animals that included beating, shooting, electrocuting and drowning them.

Is this not an accurate description of at least a proportion of a massive (and thus the proportion is massive) factory farm industry that does this to multi-millions of animals everyday? Animals systemically abused for food that often is anything but healthy. Is that not, by some definition in a sane world, criminal?

Brown said pointedly [good job, James], “Horrific things, Michael.”

Yes James, they were horrific things. Please do a truly in-depth expose on factory farming, and the fast food market that is a monstrous and important reason health care reformation can never really work in America (and is difficult everywhere else)—people just do not take care of their own health. Politicians will barely, if at all, speak out against eating food that is a nutritional wasteland—indeed, supports countless ugly diseases, from heart disease to diabetes to obesity.

Imagine the outrage if a craze for putting shit into gas tanks actually swept the nation. But these aren’t gas tanks, these are consumers—I mean kids.

Vick said, “It was wrong, man. I don’t know how many times I got to say it. I mean, it was wrong. I feel tremendous hurt (by) what happened. I should have (taken) the initiation to stop it all. And I didn’t. And I feel so bad about that now. I didn’t step up. I wasn’t a leader.”

Will 60 Minutes, or any major media conglomerate or newspaper, be a leader?

Brown asked if he agreed or disagreed that it showed “a lack of moral character” that he did not stop it.

Vick said, “I agree.”

I agree too. For both parties. One, evidently a damn good athlete of not that great intelligence. The other party? Well, you decide what they are, if not hypocritical, unrepentant and ignorant…

I am a freedom guy. A vice is seldom a crime. I would not criminalize hard drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or fast food. However, fast food production in a sane society actually may be a crime for what it systematically does to other sentient beings, who have no choice in the matter (this includes not only the animals, but the kids who eat them ad nauseum).

Crime or not, if I had a bigger voice, I would make fast-food cost its true cost, which would be exorbitant. Why? Just take out all tax-payer subsidies to agribusiness—which are anti-free market after all—and charge companies (and the consumer) for environmental externalities.

And just like a red-light district, I would also push all fast-food restaurants and slaughterhouses to a fast-food district, maybe call it an animal-cruelty district, and people can go there if they really can’t stop themselves.

It wouldn’t be pretty, but at least it would be more honest. Both Jim Brown of 60 Minutes and Michael Vick could do the interview there, over the factory-farm carcasses I am sure they enjoy.

Here’s to trying to support as many beings at being as happy and free as possible, in a demanding world,


AN ORGANIC FARM IN INDIA: Bio-Fuel, Solar Power, Vegetarian, Cow Dung…

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

What more could you ask for? That must be a pretty sweet vibration, overall, huh? Here’s a little video from a visit we were privileged to have just outside of Mysore. I didn’t know a dung thing about bio-fuel. In fact, my knowledge was in a slurry state.

I left out the fact that they also used cow urine as a natural fertilizer. Here’s to the stupendous, incredible, bountiful Mother Earth.

And may we learn to walk a little softer, and think of the whole thing as family, and I do not mean that at all sentimentally. Sister, brother, somehow, we are on this walk together…

Lots of love to you,

Pete xoxo


Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I really don’t know how Al Gore could not mention animal husbandry and factory farming in an Inconvenient Truth, except perhaps that his family made part of their fortune in cattle (and perhaps still do). I know tobacco was mentioned, and another big crop on his family’s farm.

Anyway, our factory farms are not only serving up cruel and unusual punishment in the name of greater profits, but are literally an utterly effective and dangerous breeding ground for disease.

I believe this video is from the Humane Society of the United States, and worth a glance in case you’re considering fried chicken tonight over a vegetable stir-fry.

It’s just not environmentally intelligent, even if profits beg to argue. And even if this isn’t the cause of possible pandemics, it still can’t be right. It’s just not right.

Here’s to not being chicken, and not being too chicken to really love,

Pete xo

Derrick Jensen: It’s Tremendous Fun To Fight Back

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I don’t even know who Derrick Jensen is, but this interview with him in Briarpatch: Fighting the War on Error is really wonderful, and gets, I think, to the heart and soul of many matters. It was sent to me by my lovely friend Buddy. He’s in his late 80s now, and just keeps on fighting.

From the interview:

Any way of living based on non-renewable resources won’t last. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about copper or iron or oil, because a finite amount of it is eventually going to run out.

But that’s not all. Any way of living that’s based on the hyper-exploitation of renewable resources won’t last, either. If fewer salmon return year after year because they’re being overfished, eventually there won’t be any left.

In fact, I would say that any way of living that’s based on resources won’t last, either. “Resources” don’t actually exist: salmon don’t consider themselves a fishery resource, and trees don’t consider themselves timber resources. They’re just trees and they’re just fish.

And this doozy:

It’s stunning how ignorant we are about the land bases that support us. I can talk about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and probably most people will know who I’m talking about, but do you know the indigenous name for the place where you’re sitting right now? An American five-year-old can recognize hundreds of corporate logos, but I can’t name 10 species of edible plants and fungi within 100 yards of my home. That’s insane.

We must recognize that the culture is a culture of occupation. The planet needs to be defended against this occupation. You know, if there were space aliens deforesting the planet or releasing tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, we would know what to do: we’d use any means necessary to stop them.

That’s fantastic. If I consider how short the time would be for survival, if left to my own devices, if food in the city stopped coming in (without stealing or begging), the answer is not pretty. About three days. I barely know a fungi from a fun guy, or how to plant my own garden, where waste goes, water and so on—let alone where my food and clothing comes from or how it is made, and how the people who made either were treated.

And think about this. A kid from wherever in 1500 may not have known the world was round, but he knew where his waste went, where his water came from, how his clothes were made, his food, and how to survive on his own, period. I have only slightly more than a clue, and like my tax forms, the whole process is cryptic and confusing to the point of inaction.

Ah, life. So much to learn. And you can’t just find some things out online or in a book. Eventually you have to get your hands dirty—that is, in the soil—and your mind clear. And talk to the trees. Just try it. And the water.

“Excuse me, tree, how can I help?”

The full interview is here.

Lots of sustainable love to you,


A WHALE OF A RE-PRINT? Maybe not. You be the judge…

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

My friends, I just had a good conversation about a possible Greenpeace project, about anarchism and peaceful protesting, about how to protest, and such things, and if we as a species are doing enough, or too much etc, and it reminded me of this Paul Watson post I did a while back.

The piece is longer than life, but here it is anyway, and surely the whales—those amazing giants that certainly play a massive role in this miraculous eco-system and feel joy and suffering—are worth it.

What is terrorism? What is right? How far is too far? What will be looked back upon in a hundred years as heroic? As spineless? As pointless? Or with pride as a human family? Will there be a human family?

The piece was called:

A note to PAUL WATSON of the SEA SHEPHERD SOCIETY: You’re fucking CRAZY!

I don’t like writing this way, but I’m pissed off. Let’s get one thing straight: Paul Watson, “President” of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (nice name, by the way—not!) and lover of sea-urchins, whales and conservation etc—or put another way, human-hater—is crazy.

He’s a menace to things civilized. Just like those suffragettes, or civil rights marchers—like they weren’t armed? Right. Or those people fighting for the 8-hour-work-day. Or worse, he’s like—and these guys really get my goat: abolitionists. Remember them? “We’re against slavery!” Well, hotshots, we’ve still got slave labour, slave trafficking and all kinds of stuff, so where are you now? I suppose there are people fighting to end that too. Geezuz.

But Cap’n Paul Watson?

This prick is Gandhi on crack—and everyone knows what drugs do.

Actually, you can read the rest here, and give all the comments you want.

Here’s to love and more love, and less hypocrisy…


VEGANISM and ANIMAL SUFFERING: Talk About Outrage—the response to the article is more revealing than the article

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

There’s an article in called Don’t have a cow! with the byline Famous animal lover Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, the author of “The Face on Your Plate,” talks about why you should consider giving up the burgers—and the fromage.

That’s it. Masson talks about the suffering of animals that we should at least be aware of. He actually says there is no way this society will ever give up, for example, cheese. I would have thought for a high percentage of people, more awareness of the horrendous treatment of animals in massive factory farms would have been relevant, even desired. Alas, not really. At least not with most who commented.

And of course Masson knows the world can’t be vegetarian, let alone vegan. Too many climates and economic constraints don’t allow it (let alone personal desires and bodily needs). And, yes, in the West vegetarianism is a privileged choice. But that has nothing to do with the suffering of probably tens of millions of animals (and the negative effects on health and the environment), everyday, pervasively and relentlessly, that could be lessened.

And don’t forget that in the West, children under ten or twelve or whatever not having to work is a right, but compared to the poorest countries, also somehow a privilege. That is also, most would agree, a good thing.

Masson is pointing out that precisely like our cats and dogs, whom we would never (or seldom!) eat, pigs, cows and even chickens and fish, also have emotions and feel intense pain. In the case of pigs and cows, deep pain.

The mental effects of the factory farm/slaughterhouse cycle is brutal in every way (probably on most workers, too)—including to the environment, evidently, with waste and badly used land and so on. Rats, for example, are shown to be far more likely to become addicted under confined, uncomfortable, unnatural conditions. Why should rats care? Maybe they feel.

Again, what was so shocking are the comments. People are outraged and furious at what he’s saying. I couldn’t believe the animosity, no pun intended. So many seem to be shouting so loudly, it’s like they’re trying to drown out what he’s saying about suffering.

It reminds me of what Chomsky said in an interview about the psychology behind something like colonialism.

The psychology behind this is kind of transparent. When you’ve got your boot on someone’s neck and you’re crushing them, you can’t say to yourself, “I’m a son of a bitch and I’m doing it for my own benefit.” So what you have to do is figure out some way of saying, “I’m doing it for their benefit.” It’s like when you punish a child. “It is for your good, I have to do it. It is my responsibility.”

Some in the comments just say this is the way of the world, eat or be eaten. By a chicken? By a man-eating cow? And anyway, we’re human, from which comes the word humane. Is the degree of suffering necessary? Does it not matter?

And of course there is a difference between a dog or a pig and a cabbage. From a humane point of view, the difference, as far as humans can ascertain, is the degree of pain a dog or pig clearly feels under abject conditions. We have no real idea if a plant actually experiences pain. Geezuz. Sad, man. People probably once believed slaves didn’t feel as their ‘enlightened’ masters did.

The comments in and of themselves, and extrapolated to other possibilities, are disconcerting, to say the least—but perhaps show what happens when the most basic instincts/needs of food/shelter/tribalism etc are questioned. An aspect of human nature is deeply revealed. But before anyone gets too depressed, it is good to remember also how beautiful and noble and evolving humans and human nature is and can be.

This, for me, is always cause for hope, and makes every next step an opportunity.

The article is here. The comments are here. What do you think?

Much love, and pity the animals, whose pain can barely even be heard about—without a massive backlash—let alone lessened. May at least health and environmental concern lead us to cut back on meat a little—and suffering as a by-product…

Lots of love,

Pete xoxo

I went back and looked at some more comments. My jaw is on the ground. It’s shocking to me. One after another…

Two New Wonderful Vancouver Vegetarian Restaurants

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”
—Pythagoras (500 BC)

Some might say Pythagoras was coming at things from an odd angle (ha ha ha—make him stop!), and this might sound a bit strange to some non-vegetarians, and even to some vegetarians, but as a vegetarian, eating at full vegetarian restaurants is a wonderful thing.

I just love the thought of animals not being hurt—brutally and unnecessarily. Having said that, I do admit that even most organically-raised dairy cows in the modern system have a much shortened life span (down from 15 to 5 years due in part to forced pregnancies), they eventually end up at slaughter and their male births—little bulls—become veal.

But the vegetarian restaurant thing was easy in a recent trip to south India, where the restaurants that are vegetarian are called pure veg. I can’t say eating at pure veg restaurants 90% of the time helped both my beloved and me to not have even a moment of trouble—if you know what I mean—in five weeks, but we indeed did not have a bad bowel moment. In India!

Moving right along, as it were, there are two relatively new ‘pure veg’ restaurants in Vancouver that have given me and my privileged life a lot of pleasure lately, that I had to celebrate them via the blog.


On the East Side, 2781 Commercial Drive (Commercial and 12th), is that remarkably rare thing, the Mexican vegetarian restaurant. I love it. The Ronny Russell yam tacos (with the vegan option) are so good—the soft tacos are fantastic—the tortilla soup is wonderful, nourishing and spiced in that wonderful way that reminds you it’s great to be alive, the chocolate brownies are delectable, a dollar and vegan and, well, that right there is enough to have me. Geezuz, I sound like the Galloping Gourmet or a defiantly gay critic. Probably was in a past life. Or next life. Actually, I’m still hoping for another forty years in this life, so who knows?

I love this from their website:

We have built our business with sustainability in mind and have a bike and cargo trailer as our company vehicle. We are reusing equipment, building materials, and furniture. We believe in leaving a small footprint and will use sustainable packaging and try to buy locally when feasible. To take a beverage to go, you need your own cup or we can fill up your water bottle.

God that makes me happy. My 40th birthday party was dry—no alcohol—and vegetarian, and I felt like a bit of freak, and possibly a bore. I think my mum snuck a bottle in, and so did my friend Paul, but they were shunned and thrown out. Okay, I let it pass. But my point—my statement, my mission!—was to say, garl darn it, that being with my friends intoxicates me and I hate to conform to certain social expectations, like wearing pants or bringing alcohol just because the gathering is social. In short, Bandidas Taqueria’s utter dearth of take-away cups speak volumes to my little heart.

Moving West…


Just east of Oak on Broadway (955 Broadway) is a south Indian ‘pure veg’ restaurant called the Saravanaa Bhavan. After five weeks of eating very traditional south Indian veg all over South India, with my hands, Saravanaa Bhavan is utterly authentic and fantastic. Needless to say, Indian is my favourite food, and this food is great. The dosas. The idlis. The curries. The chutneys. The chai. The naan. Even the buffet is fresh and wonderful. Mmmmm.

And more than this, this restaurant is a chain all over the world! Anyone who knows me knows how I despair of fast-food restaurants, what I think they do to the environment and our health, our discernment, our kids, the nutritional garbage they serve and the torturing of animals they propagate and often the degradation of workers etc, all to serve something as vile as a Big Mac. Whew, I’m glad I got that off my plate! Anybody sensing attitude?

At any rate, a vegetarian restaurant chain? That’s just, well, again, done. Sold. Heaven. Brilliant. Wondrous. I’m in. Where do I sign?

Both restaurants are also definitely on the cheap side.

Eat well, your temple deserves it, so do the animals, the environment, your kids, and so on, and so on, seven generations down the line. Lots of love to you,



Friday, April 10th, 2009

It is often said that Hitler was a vegetarian. This has never bothered me, because life is and should be constantly humbling, with ideas of cure-alls abandoned. Proselytizing should almost always be avoided. I’d choose—god willing—tenderness and kindness any day.

And if Hitler did have periods of abstaining, it was mostly about flatulence-inducing-food and blood purity issues. It was not about love or kindness—which should come as no surprise.

Nonetheless, someone wrote into John Robbins (Diet for a New America) and asked about Hitler’s vegetarianism. His response is useful. Actually, so is the statement and question asked.

I must add, reading Diet For America in my mid-twenties was a big influence on my desire to quickly limit my contribution to the suffering of animals and the degradation of the environment by choosing to eat vegetarian (which is quite different than eating vegetarians).


QUESTION: You people who say that we would all be more peaceful if we ate a vegetarian diet always seem to forget that Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian. That pretty well destroys your belief system, doesn’t it?

JOHN ROBBINS: The belief that Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian is widespread, and you are certainly not the only one who carries it. But that doesn’t make it true.

Robert Payne is widely considered to be Hitler’s definitive biographer. In his book, Hitler: The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler, Payne says that Hitler’s “vegetarianism” was a “legend” and a “fiction” invented by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda.

Joseph Goebbels was very effective at inventing great, torturous, ugly lies. The Nazi propaganda machine believed in the short slogan, a precursor, perhaps, for selling points today that say actually nothing, like “Just do it”, “Yes we can” and “You deserve a break today.”

Do what (hire sweatshop labour and make billions?) and what can we do (tax-payer bailouts in the trillions?), and who will be broken (natural cycles, health, arteries, billions of livestock lives, environmental health) etc?

According to Payne:

“Hitler’s asceticism played an important part in the image he projected over Germany. According to the widely believed legend, he neither smoked nor drank, nor did he eat meat or have anything to do with women. Only the first was true. He drank beer and diluted wine frequently, had a special fondness for Bavarian sausages and kept a mistress, Eva Braun… His asceticism was fiction invented by Goebbels to emphasize his total dedication, his self-control, the distance that separated him from other men. By this outward show of asceticism, he could claim that he was dedicated to the service of his people. In fact he was remarkably self-indulgent and possessed none of the instincts of the ascetic.”

Rynn Berry is historical advisor to the North American Vegetarian Society and is on the Advisory Board of EarthSave. Publisher’s Weekly wrote of his thoughtful essay, “Why Hitler Was Not a Vegetarian,” that it “lays to rest the myth that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian.” In the essay, Berry writes of the famous chef Dione Lucas:

“Dione Lucas was a sort of precursor of the popular television ‘French’ chef, Julia Childe. One of the first to open a successful cooking school in the United States, Lucas was also one of the first chefs to popularize French cuisine on television in the 1950s and 1960s. During the 1930s, prior to her coming to the United States, she had worked as a chef at a hotel in Hamburg, where Adolph Hitler was one of her regular customers.”

Indeed, Dione Lucas often cooked for Hitler. In her book, The Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook, she makes it clear that this despot was by no means the vegetarian Goebbel’s myth would have us believe. Writing of her recipe for stuffed squab, for example, she says:

“I learned this [stuff squab—a young domestic pigeon] recipe when I worked as a chef before World War II, in one of the large hotels in Hamburg, Germany. I do not mean to spoil your appetite for stuffed squab, but you might be interested to know that it was a great favorite of Mr. Hitler, who dined at the hotel often. Let us not hold that against a fine recipe, though.”

Not only did Hitler eat meat, he went so far as to outlaw organizations that advocated vegetarianism [what else can a dictator do but increase the State], and harshly rebuked all proposals to ease Germany’s food shortages that involved reductions in meat consumption.

Much love to you and all sentient beings, and may all squabs fly free, or at least be well-treated,

Pete xox

EVER-BLESSED IN INDIA: No slumdogs, no millionaires, just countless beautiful people

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I just posted a little video for a song called Wide Open—a video filmed on the Gulf Islands off the coast of Vancouver.

This video, for a song called Ever-blessed, is from footage I took while in South India in December of ’08 into January ’09. India is so much more than slumdogs and millionaires, my god. Not a good person was to be found in that Academy-Award winning film, save the resilient heroes. In my experience in India, we only found good, interesting, beautiful, colourful, hospitable, devoted, generous people—everywhere.

I don’t mean the opposite sort of people don’t exist there—of course they do—but you get my point.

We almost only found people who, regardless of their religion, got along—indeed, took pride in getting along. That is the deeper essence of Hinduism—that we are eternal, and where we have to be, and individual souls (atmas) on a journey. Therefore do not proselytize unless asked.

We met beautiful, emotional, resilient people who stand everyday in the wild, paradoxical madness and beauty of a timeless country, and live with great dignity against sometimes serious odds.

In Alleppey (in Kerala), for example, the rice farmers are right up against rising backwaters on the edge of the man-made banks—probably worsened by global warming. Their livelihood is threatened after thousands of years of cultivation. In many places mere inches of safety keep their houses from being washed away. Yet they carry on with unstoppable belief.

People—sisters and brothers, all atmas—were so open to my beloved and me. So much beauty: the people, the temperature, the urgency to support oneself, the resilience against the modern world and history, the colour, the pure veg food, the endless conversation with the divine (subtle, pleading, devotional, silent), the traditional music, sitars or flutes against a tabla back-drop. Transportive.

And the trip was deeply enriched by my affection for the Vedas, and Hindu metaphysics, and so much teaching from many sources, but in particular from six or seven years of yoga philosophy classes and kirtans with Jeffrey Armstrong (Kavindra Rishi).

Jeffrey, who lectures on the subject all over the world (he’s off to Holland tomorrow), is utterly addicted to the Vedas and a remarkable, unstoppable teacher and mentor. How much fun was it bringing that knowledge into conversation, meditation, and into temples?

In India, after meeting a man named Anantu who ran an organic farm, and was reading a book called The Quantum Enigma, which is the butting up of physics against consciousness, a famous line from quantum theory came to me, and with a few changes, seemed to sum up India:

“Anyone who thinks they understand India, doesn’t understand India.”

That resonates for human nature, and the human journey, too. What a ride. And what a beautiful time we had in south India.

I’ll write more about the trip and the shots in the video later, but for now, here’s a link to the video. I hope you like it.

Lots of love to you,

Pete xoxo

RAW DEAL with RAW MILK: Big Business and Big Justice—what a surprise!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

If you see a situation in a self-described democratic society where people want to drink raw milk (which has been drunk for millenia and is still drunk in, say, that wild undeveloped outpost called France), under seemingly safe and organic standards, and people are not allowed to drink said milk, look around for excessive corporate/government involvement.

Oh yes, hidden behind the auspices of safety and justice, you will find it. And it seems to me, almost always, the judge will back the Big Guys.

An excerpt from a news article:

Selling unpasteurized milk is illegal in Canada and a judge had found that Schmidt circumvented the laws by selling “shares” in his dairy cows to consumers.

In finding him guilty of contempt, the judge called Schmidt’s actions “not only illegal, but completely self-defeating.” Justice Cary Boswell added that Schmidt has every right to try to make the sale of raw milk legal, but he must do so in a manner that’s within the law.

What a joke. Can you imagine this fella and a few raw milk cohorts trying to go up against the Dairy Board, Big Business, Big Justice etc? And Martin Luther King should have done the same? Just abandoned the protests of “illegal” sit-ins in segregated cafeterias and so on? He should have just appealed to the legal institution?

The judge also said Monday’s ruling had nothing to do with the sale of milk, but instead focused on whether or not Schmidt knew he was defying a court order by continuing the raw milk sales.

Schmidt and his devoted consumers claim raw milk tastes better and say they have never suffered adverse health effects from drinking it.

Health officials say raw milk can carry bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes, which carry serious, and sometimes deadly, health consequences.

Schmidt has operated his co-operative organic dairy farm near Owen Sound, Ont., for more than 20 years.

I’m not even going to check, but what’s the chance that the Dairy Board or whatever it’s called is against Michael Schmidt’s selling raw milk to people who want it? That same Canadian Dairy Board that I believe fought against calcium being put into soy milk because it increased competition?

Protectionism? Subsidies to Agribusiness and the Dairy Industry? Ah, yeah.

From Agricultural Regulations and Trade Barriers, by Chris Edwards:

The federal government has subsidized and regulated the dairy industry since the 1930s. Federal marketing orders for milk were begun in 1937. A dairy price support program was added in 1949, and an income support program was added in 2002. In recent years, dairy subsidies have cost taxpayers anywhere from zero to $2.5 billion annually depending on market conditions. More important, dairy programs stifle dairy industry innovation [like, say, how to monitor the production of organic raw milk from well-treated cows?] and substantially raise milk prices for consumers.

What a farce this “free trade” is.

Okay, I couldn’t control myself and looked up the Dairy Board’s involvement. Five seconds later, an excerpt from this article called, succinctly: Got raw milk? Don’t share, Ontario dairy board warns farmer:

Jacqueline Fennell, who runs Conavista Farm near Spencerville, Ont., about 55 kilometres south of Ottawa, said she received an order Friday from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, highlighting the sections of the Ontario Milk Act that she would allegedly violate by providing unpasteurized milk…

But Bill Mitchell, a spokesman for the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, said her shareholder scheme flouts a law designed to protect food safety, and which bans not just the sale of raw milk, but also its distribution and delivery.

“Cow rental or share ownership scams don’t make raw milk consumption legal in Ontario,” he said. “As soon as milk moves off the premises, it has to be within the auspices of the Milk Act.”

He added that even farmers cannot take raw milk off their properties because it is considered unsafe.

“It is the health issue that’s our primary motivation here.”

It’s sad but, given the sickness of factory farms, I have trouble believing health to be their primary motivation.

I’m not saying there aren’t potential health hazards—which evidently there are, which history (and bad conditions) have shown. I’m saying this is a country that allows, for some clear reasons, cigarettes to kill millions of people (big corporations/heavily taxed); terrible, animal-tortured fast-food/processed food blathered in corn syrups and on and on (massive corporations) to damage and kill millions (Type II diabetes, etc, etc, whose incidence is vastly reduced by changing one’s lifestyle to crazy things like exercise and real food); and alcohol (massive corporations/heavily taxed) kills millions, damages countless lives, is involved in so much vehicular homicide and family violence—and just think of the unintended pregnancies!

Put another way, a person can’t drink monitored, organic raw milk from well-treated animals, but can drink pasteurized milk from brutalized cows. A person can’t eat monitored, organic raw milk from well-treated cows, but Big Gulps the size of my thigh, literally sugar water, are fine for kids—for breakfast, in fact (my sister sees this relatively often in her 7th Grade classroom).

More from the original article:

In November 2006, Ministry of Natural Resources [armed] officials raided Schmidt’s farm and seized farming equipment and computers. He was subsequently charged with failure to obey a written order barring him from making and storing raw milk products.

Schmidt lost 50 pounds after embarking on a hunger strike in 2006 to protest the charges.

He ended the protest by bringing a cow to the steps of the Ontario legislature. He drank a glass of milk immediately after milking the cow.

He’d be dead if it wasn’t for a sense of humour. And for the record, I eat very little dairy, period. None at home, a little if I’m out. It’s the udder principle of it all.

Wishing you all great love and freedom, and may all sentient beings including the lovely dairy cow be a little happier,

Pete xox

THE OPPOSITE OF AGRIBUSINESS: Long-term thinking (solar over nuclear), understanding waste, care for the land, the people, the animals, the earth as something sacred etc…

Monday, April 7th, 2008

“Mother earth never attempts to farm without livestock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve the soil and prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste; the processes of growth and the processes of decay balance one another; ample provision is made to maintain large reserves of fertility; the greatest care is taken to store the rainfall; both plants and animals are left to protect themselves from disease.”
—Sir Albert Howard

I was just researching when my dad called and asked me this guy’s last name: the so-called father (it should be mother) of modern organic gardening.

It is Sir Albert Howard, and he wrote down in “An Agricultural Testament” in 1940 what he had learned about holistic farming, or what he called “Nature’s Farming”, after 23 years of observation and experience in Indore (an area in India).

In theory, this should really make the Indians the mothers of organic gardening, but so is life. Either way, Sir Albert, for all his wonderful vision, was also not the originator of the term ‘organic farming.’

An excerpt from the article A History of Organic Farming:

Walter Northbourne was apparently the first to apply the word “organic” in application to farming. In 1940, Northbourne published an influential book, Look to the Land, in which he elaborated on the idea of the farm as an “organic whole”—in the philosophical sense “organic” refers to “having a complex but necessary interrelationship of parts, similar to that in living things.”

It’s hard to believe that that’s not our first commandment: “Thou shalt see the world as whole, a complex but neccessary interrelationship of parts, and treat Her accordingly.”

And while you’re at it, try not to covet your neighbour’s wife, and vice-versa.

This concept of organic is similar in many respects to the holistic ideas more recently expressed by James Lovelock in the Gaia Hypothesis and Lynn Margulis in her book Symbiotic Planet, but on the smaller scale of a whole farm as a symbiotic unit.

In this respect the organic farmer functions in concert with the symbiotic unit by being in daily contact with and having a feeling for the whole farm organism.

Could agribusiness possibly get any further from this concept?

It is also important to distinguish this meaning of “organic” as it applies to a system of farming from the common misunderstanding that “organic” specifically refers to the carbon based chemistry of the fertilizers that are often used in organic farming.

The full article is here.

And back to my research. What a great life…

Love to you and yours, and may your food be full of untortured, well-loved life (with a grand awareness of the incredible work it takes to grow food. I do not for a moment write here to romaticize the farm life—by all accounts it is hard, hard work),



Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”

But either way (in other words, even if this is somehow a fake), this elephantasy just puts an exclamation mark on why we should eat as little meat as possible—if any.

I just couldn’t believe what I was watching. Perspective, for crying out loud (I don’t think humans had that until the thirteenth century, and we sure don’t have it now in our politics and business). Did that elephant understand what it was doing?

Even if not, the mimickry is astounding. When I draw, my trunk is actually a nuisance, always getting in the way, knocking over the easel.

Who knows the depth of what goes on in these beautiful beings? Who knows the intelligence of this universe? Who can comprehend the ignorance we live under! And if this is an aberration, it either speaks loudly for evolution or past lives. If not, it simply speaks for the miraculous depth of this world that surrounds us, so full of intelligence.

My dad spontaneously put it perfectly when someone asked him whether animals have souls. He said, “I have no idea—but I know they have feelings.”

Press here, please, and you may be as jaw-dropped and grinning as I was.

Sweet sisters and brothers, long live love!

Pete xox

“As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”
—Leo Tolstoy

The Creepiness of Monsanto and Agribusiness: Controlling The World’s Food—One Farm, One Seed At A Time

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

“What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain…”
—R Fraley, Co-President of Monsanto’s Agricultural Sector, 1996

I confess, I feel food is not just vital for life, but by the mystery in which it sustains life, and is life, it is sacred. I also believe it would be much preferable if people who cared about food were growing our food, protecting our food, preparing our food and so on.

Unfortunately, caring about food and understanding the human-food relationship in any sustainable/socially responsible/beautiful way is not what comes out of the grinder of modern corporate philosophy.

To quote again legendary business guru Peter Drucker, speaking without irony or moral confusion, from the film The Corporation:

If you have a business executive who really wants to take on social responsibilities, get rid of him fast. He doesn’t have the right sense of priorities and will do a poor job running the business.


Here’s another truly insidious way the process of control and takeover unfolds in the agribusiness world. This one involves Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready herbicide tolerant soybeans (Monsanto is a symbol of the war being waged by these corporate behemoths beholden to no one save profits).

This from an article by Tim Philpott called Dominant Traits: Monsanto’s latest court triumph cloaks massive market power, that is really worth reading.

An excerpt:

To understand how this product conquered the farm belt so rapidly, you have to understand how large-scale commodity farmers make decisions. Your neighbor tries a new product, and suddenly boasts weed-free fields and yields that trump yours.

He reveals that he bought newfangled, high-dollar seeds—and more than made his money back with the higher yield. So you do the same. Trouble is, everyone else does, too—and the higher yields nationwide lead to lower prices for soy, erasing any advantage of the new seeds.

Indeed, USDA figures show that soybean production surged after the introduction of herbicide-tolerant varieties in 1995—and prices dropped. Soy prices didn’t recover in any meaningful way until the great biofuel boom that started in 2006. All things being equal, technologies that increase yield end up lowering prices—erasing any net gain for farmers.

Thus in their rush to adapt new technologies, farmers aren’t working in their own interest, but rather in the interests of big corporate buyers like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill—and, of course, in the interests of the companies that sell the new technologies, like Monsanto.

The full article is here, and again, really worth reading.

A friend of mine (with a passion for ‘games theory’ which shows that humans, surprise, surprise, will often do what they think is best for themselves, but it turns out it’s not!), quite by coincidence, sent me this message, for which I do not have references, but I thought it was informative:

This effect you mention here is also illustrated by the use of Posilac to boost cows’ milk production. Thankfully, it’s not permitted in Canada, but in the US most of the cows (or “production units” as Monsanto calls them) are boosted with hormones that increase milk production at the cost of a higher pus content in the milk and pain for the animals.

Watch the simplicity of the mechanism, again:

All cows produce more milk, prices fall, and there’s no benefit except to Monsanto, who sells the hormone. Precisely the same economic effect as with the soybeans, and the same social mechanism: the individually optimal strategy produces the worst collective result.

And for Monsanto’s diversification and contribution to the War on Drugs, take a look at this blog from a few days ago.

I know, I know, somebody’s got to do it.

Finally, in personal communication, legendary Indian journalist P Sainath summed up subsidies, Monsanto and the ‘free market’ this way:

Neither Monsanto nor any of the other majors would have any chance in a decent world that placed people above profits and communities above corporations.

The ‘free market’ does not exist. It means a situation where corporations are Free to Market, [to] impose, using various dirty tricks, their crap on the world. If it were not for US and EU subsidies for instance, world cotton prices would be double what they are, and farmers in Vidharbha and West Africa would come out of debt.

Food for thought. Support people who care about food, about the cycle of this journey, about sustainability, about smaller enterprise, and individuality, about fair play.

If this begins with phoning your mother to tell her you love her, do it. After that, check out the massive connections political candidates and leaders have with agribusiness, factory farms and other ugly, ugly, ugly processes. Between appointees for the FDA, the EPA, their direct links with big businesses, and contributions to leaders, there is a never-stop-spinning revolving door of conflict-of-interest connections.

Money can buy lots of things, like power, and Monsanto can kill beetles, but as the Beatles said, “money can’t buy you love.”

Love to you and yours—and may growing and eating food be remembered as the sacred cycle that it is,



Monday, March 24th, 2008

The mass suicides that take place across the world with peasant farmers as they lose their farms to subsidized agribusiness (for different reasons) is a devastating and well-documented side-effect of uglier and uglier massive corporate control of our food.

Agribusiness’ connection to the so-called war on drugs is less obvious, or well known. I heard this in a film called Plan Colombia: Cashing In On The Drug War Failure. Plan Colombia is the controversial American Plan, begun under President Clinton in 98/99 I believe, of what to do with and how to eradicate Colombia drug trafficking.

What was mentioned in the film surprised me—and although I haven’t read any supporting documentation, this is what was said:

“Despite thirty years of US led war on drugs, and the fall of flamboyant drug lord Pablo Escobar, the traffic seems healthier than ever, with tens of millions of users and hundreds of billions of dollars of profit.

No longer imported from Peru and Bolivia, coca leaves—the primary ingredient of cocaine—are now home grown in practically all parts of Colombia.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers, driven to poverty by the international agribusiness competition, have been hired by the traffickers…

And here’s an interesting addition to Monsanto’s diversification, just to cover all their profit angles of worldwide crop control—by law or by terror—also from the film:

“The Monsanto chemical corporation was commissioned by the US State department to provide a defoliant that could be spread on large areas of forest from a safe altitude above insecure terrirtories.

The result was Roundup-Ultra, a modification of the commercially available Round-Up weed killer [see Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser], with a new formulation which has not been disclosed.

With rain and humidity, these deadly chemicals are running into the water supply of the entire Amazon basin—and issue that effects not only Colombia, but parts of Ecudaor, Peru and Brazil as well.”

William Brownfield, current US Ambassador to Colombia, says he has seen no credible scientific data showing these defoliants are dangerous. Dr Theo Colborn, from the World Widlife Fund, offers this in response:

“One of the earlier studies discovered that Round Up—or glyphosate—actually interferes with enzyme systems in the thyroid, in the brain, in the liver abd the pancreas.

And one of the studies actually showed that gyphosate caused tumours in the thyroid, and also in the pancreas, and in the ladig cells, or the testicals. These are the cells that are critical for sperm production in the male.”

I thought you might find it revealing, and even inspiring to consider what you’re eating, and who makes it—support your local food producers! Believe in food!

Lots of love to you,


A note to PAUL WATSON of the SEA SHEPHERD SOCIETY: You’re fucking CRAZY!

Monday, March 17th, 2008

This is an important preface to the essay (June, 2010). A passionate reader read this blog, god love him, and didn’t realize that I was being as sarcastic as I can possibly be, and thought I was an insane bastard. I may be an insane bastard, but for those who don’t know me, I am travelling in this essay as far wide on the charts of sarcasm as my sarcastic mind (and I am very sarcastic) can go.


It’s now July 2010 and I have to do a second disclaimer. I am being utterly sarcastic. I’m being ironic. Maybe my vegetarianism is clashing with my humour. Damn.

I don’t like writing this way, but I’m pissed off. Let’s get one thing straight: Paul Watson, “President” of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (nice name, by the way—not!) and lover of sea-urchins, whales and conservation etc—or put another way, human-hater—is crazy.

He’s a menace to things civilized. Just like those suffragettes, or civil rights marchers—like they weren’t armed? Right. Or those people fighting for the 8-hour-work-day. Or worse, he’s like—and these guys really get my goat: abolitionists. Remember them? “We’re against slavery!” Well, hotshots, we’ve still got slave labour, slave trafficking and all kinds of stuff, so where are you now? I suppose there are people fighting to end that too. Geezuz.

But Cap’n Paul Watson?

This prick is Gandhi on crack—and everyone knows what drugs do.

And you can see why he’s this way, too. Ask any true blooded neo-liberal or even a mealy-mouthed liberal (they’re from the same genus—they meant to say genius, but they mispelled it), and they’ll tell you: “Canada’s an inch from Communism,” and that’s where candy-ass Watson was “raised”—if you can call being “raised” by a Canadian, raised.

Canadians don’t “raise” children any more than factory farm animals “feel pain.” And Watson’s not even a real Canadian, anyway. I bet he would have been all up in arms about the Japanese internment, too. Anti-Canadian!

He needs to rein it in, man. You hear me, Watson? Stop chewing on your organic lettuce leaves and take note. The planet is fine. Write it down. By the way, where do you think ink comes from? Hypocrite.

And you think you’re so tough, don’t you? Well, how many Iraqi citizens have you killed, huh? And how many nuclear warheads have you created, huh? How many torturing dictators have you helped out? Have you ever been a corporation that acts neutral and then profits from slave wages and environmental degradation in another country? You don’t have the guts or the civility! Have you ever armed a genocidal government to protect your oil, diamonds, cobalt, slave trade or any other resource interests? I think “no, no, no, no, no!” would answer all of those questions, you uncivilized organic turnip!

You don’t even have a job, per se.

Let’s get into the environment then: How many small farmers and family farms have you put out of business by shouting for free trade while simultaneously subsidizing agribusiness multinationals with trillions of tax-payer dollars until the smaller farms are crushed? Oh, I forgot…you probably think food should be grown by people who care about food. What next? Breast-feeding in public?

How many wars have you fought for business reasons and claimed it’s for humanitarian reasons? I see a big fat zero, Paulie. Ass-kisser. And yet you quote The Art of War as some sort of cryptic motto: “Deception is the foundation of strategy.”

Deception? You’re a joke. A rookie. An ultra-maroon, a gulla-bull, a too-lousy Letrec. Get a mentor. I’ve got a few names for you—men of civility, who believe in stock portfolios, and getting minorities to fight their battles in foreign lands, you boat-ramming schmuck.

I’ll &%$#ing Farley Mowat you.


Oh, and for those who don’t know much about Mr Watson, here are some of the demented thoughts in his crazy head—incidentally, all from one brief “declaration” of how his “Society” isn’t an animal rights group and yet, mysteriously, they eat vegan meals and try to stop the slaughterings of animals:

The meat industry is one of the most destructive ecological industries on the planet. The raising and slaughtering of pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys and chickens not only utilizes vast areas of land and vast quantities of water, but it is a greater contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than the automobile industry.

[Note to Paulie: You can’t “slaughter” something that doesn’t feel anything. Okay? Factory farm animals don’t feel anything! And by the way, Henry Ford—who was a big fan of Hitler and vice-versa—got some of the inspiration for his assembly line production techniques from seeing factory-farm type slaughter-houses. So why don’t you just say you hate progress?]

The seafood industry is literally plundering the ocean of life and some fifty percent of fish [like you counted] caught from the oceans is fed to cows, pigs, sheep, chickens etc in the form of fish meal. It also takes about fifty fish caught from the sea to raise one farm-raised salmon.

[Now you’re against farming, too? Nice. And by the way, it might take fifty fish to to raise one farm-raised salmon, but it only takes one writer to say that you’re not only an idiot, you probably think that Tobacco Multinational giants like Phillip Morris or accused drug-smugglers RJ Reynolds or napalm and defoliant producing multinational seed-thief giants like Monsanto—whose main legal goals are by definition profit and monopoly at great human cost—probably aren’t the best institutions to utterly control the world food supply. Yeah. Figured as much.]

We have turned the domestic cow into the largest marine predator on the planet [probably an exaggeration—and by the way, cows live in factory farms, not oceans]. The hundreds of millions of cows grazing the land and farting methane consume more tonnage of fish than all the world’s sharks, dolphins and seals combined. Domestic housecats consume more fish, especially tuna, than all the world’s seals.

[Even if you’re right, I don’t agree. Anyway, did you ever think that maybe cows like fish? And by the way, there are, like, tons of fish left.

And here’s where Watson waxes philosophical—like our own consumption behaviours matter! And even if they do, it’s well known that suffering decreases if we describe ourselves as caring.]

So why is it that all the world’s large environmental and conservation groups are not campaigning against the meat industry? Why did Al Gore’s film Inconvenient Truth not mention the inconvenient truth that the slaughter industry creates more greenhouse gases than the automobile industry?

[Earth to Paul: Like Yasser Arafat and Henry Kissinger, Al Gore won the Nobel Prize, so he didn’t forget anything, so shut up. And Al fought bravely during the election debacle in Florida, which prevented Bush from getting into power and the bankrupting of a great country and the endless war that…well…anyway…shut up.]

The Greenpeace ships serve meat and fish to their crews everyday.

[The animals are already dead, Paul. Think about it. And how do you know the Green in Greenpeace doesn’t mean money just as much as it means environment? You don’t. You don’t, Paul, you don’t.]

The World Wildlife Fund does not say a word about the threat that meat eating poses for the survival of wildlife, the habitat destroyed, the wild competitors for land eliminated, or the predators destroyed to save their precious livestock.

[Maybe they haven’t seen the facts. And even if it’s horrendously hypocritical and utterly undermines their mandate, you can’t prove it. And not being rude is called manners, Paul—which is often equated with civilization. As is meat-eating. It’s called celebrating life, Paul, with family—not dwelling on the torture it took to produce that love.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that Britain was able to colonize most of the world through plunder, murder, racism and skill, while simultaneously being known as Beefeaters?

You probably do. Well it’s not a coincidence. It takes energy to colonize a country. Meat is energy.

Anyway, why do you equate meat eating with suffering?

And if Greenpeace, or the World Wildlife Fund, or the Sierra Club, or those big NGOs working to stop malnutrition in Africa, or Anti-Global Warming campaigners, or pet-lovers or whomever else, all eat all kinds of meat from tortured animals, and don’t worry about it, let alone say, “Enough!”, I would imagine your “theories” are probably wrong.

Just a thought, Paul, just a thought.

And by the way, a lot of people don’t like you. They don’t think like you, either. They might think that poisoning crops or bombing buildings and hospitals and houses and food supplies that children, parents and grandparents are dependent on or living inside is just what happens in life sometimes—and necessary even. They also might know it’s good for profits and getting rid of superfluous people and so on. But they also know that ramming another ship so it can’t slaughter whales is barbaric, not to mention inhumane and immature. Ships hurt too, you know.]

When I was a Sierra Club director [well, listen to the big shot] for three years, everyone looked amused when I brought up the issue of vegetarianism.

At each of our Board meeting dinners, the Directors were served meat [because they’re directors, Paul, trying to do their job, and if you don’t serve meat, the wealthy don’t come to the banquets and make donations] and only after much prodding and complaining did the couple of vegetarian directors manage to get a vegetarian option.

[By the way, the fact of you not getting your way—or not making people give a damn that massive environmental devastation and cruelty resulting from our eating habits is relevant—should show you there’s a difference between Director and CEO. You were a director, Paul. And the CEO is not obliged—even in an environmental organization—to equate meat eating with environmental waste, or suffering, or torture.

Not only that, it’s not like trillions of animals are tortured every year. It’s in the tens or maybe hundreds of billions of animals, Paul. And only millions of dogs and cats—and that’s mostly done by foreigners and scientists. And they’re not pet dogs. They’re dogs nobody wanted. Obviously. Otherwise we wouldn’t let it happen.

Not only that, Organic Boy, why would you want to stop billions of brutally treated animals raised for slaughter from producing waste, when waste is totally natural, even if it goes into the water? You want them to suffer and not produce waste? That’s just cruel.

Go back to elementary school and take Logic 101.

And finally, just because you think that pets and the animals we eat have a lot in common doesn’t mean it’s true. The most free country on earth was built on the premise that people who own the plantation feel a helluva lot more than those who work on the plantation. Oh, I forgot, you’d be an “abolitionist”, too. Not only that, when Germany realised that Germans feel a whole lot more than Jews, Germany was at the height of civilized culture and art, thank you very much. And cruelty doesn’t always result from the belief that other beings (or humans) feel less. Well, yeah, so far it does—but it doesn’t have to!

So don’t start equating pets with the animals we eat, okay? Or food with the environment.

How our food is produced and the environment in general have nothing to do with each other.]

At our meeting in Montana we were served buffalo and antelope, lobsters in Boston, crabs in Charleston, steak in Albuquerque etc. But what else can we expect from a “conservation” group that endorses trophy hunting.

[Hey, Paul, just a hint: trophies are made of metal—or plastic, which is environmentally unfriendly.]

As far as I know and I may be wrong, but my organization, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is the only conservation organization in the world that endorses and practices vegetarianism. My ships do not serve meat or fish ever, nor do we serve dairy products. We’ve had a strictly vegan menu for years and no one has died of scurvy or malnutrition.

Yeah, not yet.

The price we pay for this is to be accused by other conservation organizations of being “animal rights.” Like it’s a bad word. They say it with the same disdain that Americans used to utter the word communist in the Fifties.

[Why are you so goddamn pro-Communist?

I actually can’t take any more of your anti-profit, anti-progress, anti-suffering, anti-factory-farm tirade—not from a guy who doesn’t even really have a job.

I’ll finish with a little more of his propaganda, and then that’s it—and my final line will really see what he’s made of.]

…that one 16 ounce cut of prime rib is equal to a thousand gallons of fresh water [how could the water be fresh if they’re shitting in it?], a few acres of grass, a few fish, a quarter acre of corn etc. What’s the point of taking a shorter shower to conserve water as Greenpeace is preaching if you can sit down and consume a 1000 gallons of water at a single meal?

[It’s called being clean, Paul. And I doubt it’s a thousand gallons. And even if it is, it’s not being poured out right in front of the person eating, nor are animals screaming, brutalized, or traumatized right at the table, nor do I see farmers forced from their land by subsidized free market multinational food-haters right outside the restaurant window, nor do I see fertile land in front of me turning into a desert, so it’s not the same.]

And that single cut of meat would have cost as much in vegetable resources equivalent to what could be fed to an entire African village for a week.

[UNICEF eats beef and rib or whatever at their big galas too, so there’s no way your last point is true, either, thank you. And you’re not Einstein. Gandhi on crack! Gandhi on crack!]

The problem is that we choose to see our contradictions when it is convenient for us to see them and when it is not we simply go into a state of suspended disbelief and we eat that steak anyway because, hey we like the taste of rotting flesh in the evening.

[Thank you, Aristotle. And you ram private property with private property! That’s a hypocritical contradiction. You probably would have done the same to slave ships, too, wouldn’t you? Admit it, wouldn’t you?

And don’t start suggesting animals are private property unto themselves. It’s natural to slaughter whales. It’s not natural to ram the ship that’s doing the slaughtering—and I thought you would have believed in “natural.”]

The bottom line is that to be a conservationist and an environmentalist, you must practice and promote vegetarianism or better yet veganism.

It is the lifestyle that leaves the shallowest ecological footprint, uses fewer resources and produces less greenhouse gas emissions, it’s healthier and it means you’re not a hypocrite.

[Speaking of shallow…

And for the last time, the rich eat really good meat because it’s a sign of being really rich—and the middle class like to feel that too. And the lower classes can get by with hamburgers and hot dogs—whatever they’re made of.

It’s this simple: No meat, no banquet. No banquet, no rich. No rich, no donations. No donations, no…well, no banquet. And then how would people even know that animals suffer and the environment is in trouble? Gandhi on crack, Gandhi on crack!]

In fact, a vegan driving a hummer would be contributing less greenhouse gas carbon emissions than a meat eater riding a bicycle.

[You can’t prove any of this, And so you’re pro-hummer? Is that what you’re saying? Hypocrite.

And for the last time, animals don’t suffer per se. Individually, maybe, but not if you torture and slaughter tens of billons, which was clearly explained by Joseph Stalin.

So you are an animal rights group lover, Paul. You are. You are—and yet you claim not to be. Ha ha!

And by the way, your last little note:

May be freely distributed, reproduced and published with permission of the writer.

I don’t need or want your permission. Come and get me: If you want to ram my house with your boat, go ahead.


A concerned citizen.

And for those who know me, sisters and brothers, lots of love—and may all beings, including yourself, even the cruel ones, feel a little more loved.

PS See Sharkwater.

PPS Love more.


Monday, March 10th, 2008

It was a joyful gig on Saturday night in White Rock—an assortment of wonderful talent and heart, gathering to celebrate my dear and multi-talented friend Larry Anschell and the 20th Anniversary of his Turtle Recording Studio. At the same time we had the privilege of raising money for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

The performers were Kirk Maurice, Allison Crowe, Jason Mitchell, Jordan Carrier and a band called Yuca.

I opened up the night with a short little set list and a reading from Understanding Ken—the Big Bums, as usual. What can I say? I’m making a film these days, and I’m swamped in the research.







Being on stage is certainly a trip: trying to stay connected between my organic sound and the amplified sound; staying with the song and the crowd; with myself; trying to give a part of myself, an idea, a desire; yearning to encourage creativity, joy, solidarity and, finally, knowing I have no control over the results of such desires.

Just imagine having control over the results of your desires. That, my friends, would be a full-time job. It brings to mind God.

Still, performing on stage is a wondrous, uncontrollable energy—even more so with one happily drunk person with questionable rhythm, hootin’ and hollerin’ at the all the wrong moments, which should be interesting given that the set was recorded.


And being a benefit for the SPCA (and Mr Kite—Beatles joke), I even got to mention—sweetly!—that the billions of animals raised and killed yearly in factory farms actually feel as much suffering, misery and cruelty as our pets would feel if they were raised and slaughtered under the brutally perverse factory farm cycle of hell.

It all makes one wonder about the understandable yet utterly compartmenalized outrage over animal cruelty found in the news today about, say, Michel Vicks’ dog-fighting ring or the recent cock-fighting ring revealed in Surrey, BC—in between commericals for Big Macs and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Oh, I despise the dog-fighting/cock-fighting cruelty too, to be sure, but it is a feather on the scale of the misery that takes place in factory farms for our eating pleasure in this remarkably contradictory, paradoxical world.

With that, why not finish with a sweet note: the trailer for The Peaceable Kingdom. Check out the ram or lamb or whatever it is, bounding across the field upon being released back to freedom, at 2:08. I know, animals for food don’t feel, that’s just instinct. Heck, I’m mostly instinct!

See a clip here.

Love to you—and may all beings be a little bit happier,

Pete xoxo