Adorkable Video Illustrates the Intelligence of Pigs

For those of you who know me, y’all know I’m a major gamer. I also love pigs, natch’. So, I totally geeked out today when I saw this adorable little 30 second video by Farm Sanctuary that shows how intelligent pigs are:

Many of you may not know how insanely smart pigs are. They are hellah/wicked smart, yo! They can play video games with a joystick, work a computer mouse, understand how to use mirrors to check out their surroundings, and are super sensitive. They love snuggles and they are masters at manipulating people and other animals when it comes to food.

I don’t like comparing animals to humans, or talking in terms of what we think of as intelligence as a means to justify my belief that they shouldn’t be commodified, however, I don’t see how someone could learn that pigs can play video games and not at least have the tiniest moment of pause. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but as a vegan in a non-vegan world, optimism is a necessity.

For those of you who love comics, one of my favorites, The Oatmeal, did one on The 5 Reasons Pigs Are More Awesome Than You.

TED Talks Compassion

“Every time we spend a dollar, we’re casting a vote that says, ‘Good job, Do it again.’” – Zoe Weil at TEDxYouth

My dear friend, Amanda, a high school teacher, told me about this TEDx Talk on compassion that Zoe Weil did at a high school in Bangor, Maine. Amanda played this video for her animal rights awareness club (how cool, right?!) and she said it had a big impact on a lot of the students in the group.

The talk is a great one, and I think it’s so important to be having these talks with kids and young adults, whose minds are more open and who are more prone to compassion and driven to action when they perceive something as being wrong. I love that Zoe drives home the arbitrary difference between our pets and the animals that we choose to ignore or turn away from.

My favorite line from the video was her call to action, to not put your dollars towards anything that doesn’t support your values. “Every time we spend a dollar, we’re casting a vote that says, ‘Good job. Do it again.’” I would even expand on that, to say that we’re casting a vote for, “Good job. Do it again. Do it cheaper, do it faster, do it bigger.”

We have to remember that, particularly in the U.S., when we vote for something with our dollars, we’re not just voting for more of those things, we’re voting for them to be mass produced on an environment-crushing scale for as cheaply as possible. This is why I no longer see meat-eating as a “personal choice.” It’s not. Everyone who eats cheap, factory-farmed animal products is supporting an industry that is killing our planet, ourselves, our economy (read Meatonomics peeps, it’s awesome and eye-opening!) and billions of animals. I love that Zoe addresses the idea that what you buy, what YOU financially supports, matters. It matters! It’s not personal, just like we’ve all decided that smoking cigarettes isn’t a personal choice, or driving drunk, or dumping toxic chemicals.

I had the occasion to sit with one of Amanda’s students from the animal club at a recent cooking class, and I was so heartened to be able to speak with a “youth” (ughmahgawd I’m getting O-L-D) intelligently about things like compassion, veganism and animal rights. She said a lot of kids at her school are really open, interested and concerned about these issues. I’m hopeful that we have a generation growing up in a world where plant-based eating is more normal, where they enjoy plant-based options as much as animal-based ones, and where they are aware that there is an issue around eating animals, that there is a conscious decision to be made on whether or not to support the meat and dairy industries with their dollars. They seem to be aware that there’s a problem with our consumer culture, and that there’s consequences for everything being cheap and mass-produced, our food included.

With the awareness I see spreading through my generation, and the awareness of the generation behind me, we might actually see some real changes in the near future. It makes my heart feel two sizes too big :)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Ghosts In Our Machine

Are non-human animals property to be owned and used, or are they sentient beings deserving of rights?” – Liz Marshall

The Ghosts In Our Machine Movie Cover

I organized a viewing of “The Ghosts In Our Machine” with my vegan ladies Meetup group last week. I was so nervous to watch it, I had heard it was very emotional and I was scared we’d have a room full of traumatized ladies, particularly since we had a lot of new members at the event (hi newbies! we love you!). I’m glad to report that the movie was beautiful, moving, poignant.

“The Ghosts In Our Machine” shows animals through the lens of photographer Jo-Anne McArthur in an effort to show their individuality, their suffering, their intelligence. The movie consists of a lot of her photos, alongside film of her visiting various locations to get the pictures. The sad is juxtapositioned with the joyful, as tough scenes of fur farms and factory farms are cut with scenes from a farm sanctuary. The movement from despair to hope is a beautiful one, and very effective.

Fox Trapped In Cage At Fur Farm
Beagle With ID Number Tattoo From Lab

Some have complained that there was too much focus on McArthur in this film, but I think that’s missing the point. I loved learning about a woman who is so full of compassion and determination that she dedicates her life to doing something that gives her PTSD. Animal lovers have to remember that humans are animals too, and that to have true compassion, we have to have it for everyone. I was so deeply moved by McArthur’s experience and journey, her attempts to get her photographs into mainstream media, and the emotional struggle of breaking into places to take photos and having to leave the animals behind in those terrible conditions. Though many scenes in this film made me sad, the one that struck me the deepest was when McArthur was photographing a gorilla in a zoo and she had to put her camera down for a moment because she was too overwhelmed by the sadness in his eyes. Seeing the human to animal connection made me realize that this has been missing in many films about animals. I think showing what compassionate humans look like, how they are affected, how to connect is really important.

Hand petting a pigs nose as its moved to slaughter

“The Ghosts In Our Machine” gave me an overwhelming respect for all the activists out there putting their mental health, their freedom, their money and even their lives on the line in an unending, thankless attempt to alleviate the suffering of animals. These people get labeled as militant, crazy, self-righteous, and a hundred other demeaning adjectives for doing what they believe is right – fighting injustice. They suffer for their work, and face unfair prejudice because of it. And yet everyday, they get up and do it again. I don’t know many people who could endure such treatment.

I Stand Strong For The Ghosts

I put “The Ghosts In Our Machine” on par with “Blackfish“, the standard by which I judge all other animal rights films (based on it’s quality, efficacy and mass acceptance). It was moving, engaging, and effective without trying to be shocking or confrontational. It covered a wide range of animal exploitation: fur farms, factory farms, marine parks, zoos and lab testing. I don’t think it will hit as wide an audience as “Blackfish”, since it centers on many animals that the general public doesn’t care about, but it’s still an important film. Even I, someone who is already vegan, feel compelled to do more, to push further, to make a bigger difference, because of this movie.

Did any of you see “The Ghosts In Our Machine” yet? What did you think?

Life Lesson: Believe People Are Who They Show You They Are

The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou

Have your head tell your heart this

Have your head tell your heart this

Hi guys! I’m not dead…well, maybe a little inside (hahahahaha, joking!). I was very sick for a while and, I’ll be honest, a little burnt out. I love this blog but in trying to monetize it and grow it into an eventual business, my failures to do so have sucked a lot of the fun out of it, so I decided to take a break and regroup. I’m pursuing some other options for making passive income that will hopefully allow me to keep the blog as a fun hobby until such time that I can work for myself and then really invest in this platform to make it grow into a career.

I wanted to pop into today to share a life lesson from Maya Angelou that I continually ignore but is probably the best advice I’ve ever heard: “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” A related piece of advice that is also awesome is: “When someone tells you “I can’t do this,” for whatever reason, even if it sounds like bullshit, believe them. It’s always the truth and they’re always doing you a favor, and if you don’t walk away one day they will break your heart and say “Well, I warned you” (Vine and Sars).

Sigh. As I touched on in my Normalcy Through Perfection post that addresses symptoms of growing up in a dysfunctional home (particularly one that included a parent with addiction/alcoholism), a lot of our behaviors as adults can stem from our home environment as children, in ways that are not always obvious. One of the traits that adult children of alcoholics have that surprised me was “extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.” This is something I have identified as a problem for myself and have been trying to work on.

However. Old habits die hard and I yet again ignored the above sage pieces of advice and got burnt in short order. I was overly compassionate, overly accommodating, made countless excuses and talked myself out of walking away for #reasons. Fortunately, it was mostly just my pride that was hurt in the end; but I am drained from weeks of anxiety, and my self-esteem has taken a huge hit.

So, I’m certainly in no position to give advice, but a few things I can see more clearly now that will (hopefully!) help me take self-focused action in the future:

  1. Am I happy in this situation?
  2. Are my needs/wants equal in this situation?
  3. Am I benefiting from this situation?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you’re good (but be honest with yourself!). If not, why not? Identify what is making you unhappy and speak up about it. If no resolution comes, walk away. If you are afraid to speak up because you instinctually know that your voice is not welcome in the situation, walk away. I wish I had adhered to this. My answer to each question was no but I was afraid to take action, I was afraid to end something that had for a brief moment shown promise.

I’ve made this same mistake SO. MANY. TIMES. Hindsight in these situations is always 20/10 (better than perfect, baybees!) and yet it’s so hard to make progress. Understanding that this impulse to make excuses and remain loyal in a bad situation stems from making excuses for and remaining loyal to my mom from one drunken episode to the next helps, but so far it has not helped me to overcome this self-defeating trait.

I will admit that I dropped out of therapy again, and it probably would’ve been extremely helpful to have had that guidance throughout this experience. Maybe (probably) the outcome would’ve been different. I plan to get back into it as soon as I can because I think the objective third-party viewpoint is crucial when working through sticky bad habits like these.

I am fortunate to have a wide tribe of wonderful, loving, supportive friends. I had one bad day and then, with their help, I was able to shake it off and get back to life. That’s the best we can do in situations where we fall into the same old mistakes – get back to life as soon as possible, connect with your community and LEARN FROM IT! *coughing and staring pointedly in my own direction*

Love you guys!