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I believe we animals can LIVE in harmony :)  RSS feed

 
mead Jones
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hello folks my name is mead, first time posting as a matter of fact

i've been reading through several of the posts on this forum and i've had this point of view about living, staying alive and not taking a life (if it can be avoided) that i'd like to share.

imho we animals can live in harmony. humans and other animals can be friends and partners that share in a happy sustainable life. we don't need to take the life of another creature for nutrition much less pleasure.
so i propose that it is allowable for a vegan to consume, honey, eggs and dairy when available and not life threatening or demeaning to the partners that provided these elements to us. equally, these beings can exists without ever coming under the threat that their life will be taken away for a place on someone's dinner plate. additionally, the cultivation and protection of our friends such as chickens, bees, goats, cows and such are critically important in healing our planet giving us all the best chance for a sustainable life.

i find it quite easy to go to an extreme when it comes to taking care of ourselves. the one extreme being (imo) the ultra-pure vegan permaculturist that has no animal involvement except from what occurs in a primordial natural way and then the other extreme (which is seen by many as quite alright) the taking of a life because of pleasure/convenience. in the middle somewhere is an exchange between species that doesn't involve killing of a friend an exchange that links beings in a mutually constructive way that encourages mutual validation.

~m

p.s.

i've been vegan for over 5 years and will soon have chickens and bees. looking forward to sharing in our productive life style.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Location: Columbus, Texas, USA (Colorado County). Zone 8b, verging on Zone 9. Humid subtropical, drought prone
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This seems like a balanced perspective and one I think will allow many people to produce a more diverse diet for themselves; even many non-vegans are not comfortable killing animals they have raised themselves, and I don't think this should discourage anyone from feeding themselves with permaculture.

I would suggest, however, that dairy may not be very feasible for such an endeavor in the vast majority of cases, if one truly wants to avoid participating in slaughter; female animals must give birth regularly in order to produce milk, and most people simply will not have the room to allow all the offspring to grow to maturity and die naturally year after year--especially if those offspring are themselves allowed to reproduce (and if not, they must be castrated or kept separate, which means taking the bull calves from their mothers at a fairly early age), at which point it becomes totally impractical. You could very easily start off with one dairy cow and end up with a dozen or fifteen or even twenty more cattle before the end of her natural lifespan (which themselves would live on for many years), and most people don't have the acreage to devote to raising a dozen cows in order to milk one. Rehoming the female offspring with people who also want dairy only shifts the problem, although if one could find enough people to simply keep the calves as pets and let them live out their lives without reproducing, I suppose it might work, but it seems to me a very awkward solution. The logistics of dairy production make it a very dubious option, in my opinion, for those who wish not to participate in systems in which animals are slaughtered.

Eggs, however, are very feasible in such a system--and it is especially good if one can feed the hens without purchased grains or other feed, since it can become a financial drain to buy feed constantly for non-productive hens (unless one is happy to simply spend money on them as companions, but growing feed on-site is in my opinion a more sustainable and healthier option, especially if one uses perennial sources of food such as tree fruits rather than annual grains to supplement carbohydrates). Eggs are a very valuable and reliable source of food in many systems, and can provide nutrients that are not always easy to get elsewhere, in addition to being a fairly calorie-dense staple, so they can really round out one's diet and lessen one's reliance on industrial food systems without any detriment to the hens. Chickens, of course, will lay eggs whether or not any roosters are present, so you needn't worry about exponentially growing populations--and even if one does raise roosters (since buying female sexed chicks contributes to the system in which male chicks are often killed rather gruesomely), many breeds of hen will never go broody and hatch chicks, and even with breeds that are known to be broody, it is not so easy to get them to successfully reproduce even if one is trying. If one in uncomfortable eating potentially fertilized eggs, one could potentially keep the roosters separate, although it wouldn't be ideal. Chickens will, however, eat bugs and even small mammals and reptiles, so anyone who is not comfortable consuming such things even indirectly may not wish to consume eggs.

I do not have personal experience with bees, but honey also seems like a good (and delicious!) option.

Best of luck with your future endeavors!
 
Dan Boone
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Hi, Mead, welcome to permies!

I have a slightly different view about humans and animals living in harmony. But then, I grew up in Alaska, which still has obligate carnivores and apex predators that are big enough to eat humans (and, rarely, actually do eat us). The only way to live in harmony with a hungry grizzly bear is to stay out of its (rather huge) territory.

My basic philosophy is shaped by those experiences. We are in the food chain and on the menu, not standing aside from it. Subsistence hunting was part of my upbringing, although I was taught not to hunt for fun nor to ever be wasteful of animal resources.

Ironically, today I don't eat animal products, but my reasons are more medical than philosophical.
 
Graham Burnett
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Location: Essex, UK - Zone 8
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Hi there Mead - it's good to hear your perspective on this issue. Personally I believe in the intrinsic right to self determination for all sentient beings, but I do also accept that veganism might not be the solution for everybody. However if we can agree that current western expectations for meat and dairy to be available on the table three times a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, are globally unsustainable, and that we all need at least to think about lifestyles and diets that are less dependent on animal products and the inputs these entail (which I think few permaculturists would argue with), then we do have some common ground. To be honest I wouldn't have much of an issue with permaculturists who keep a few chickens or ducks or a goat in their yard, this is a world away from the utter barbarity of industrialised animal farming that is not only inhumane but having devastating effects on both the environment and the climate. However we do need to recognise that there is always some form of exploitation or cruelty involved even with small-scale domesticated animal set ups, even if it is indirect, for example as Jennifer points out above, even small scale egg production systems involve the disposal of unwanted male chicks because they are not 'useful', and dairy production involves cows being kept pregnant and their calves being taken away in order for them to continue producing milk.

To me 'veganism' is an attitude rather than an absolute, and we are all on our personal journeys. Only the individual can decide where they should draw the line between their own ideals, and how far they can acceptably compromise or what choices they feel comfortable with making. It would be good to hear others' views on this subject as well, after all, nobody has a monopoly on 'The Truth' (whatever that is???)

All the best for now, Graham

 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Graham Burnett wrote: However if we can agree that current western expectations for meat and dairy to be available on the table three times a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, are globally unsustainable


and there is the crux of the matter. I actually disagree with this premise. I do agree that we can't do it through grain-base, factory animal husbandry, nor should we try; and that the amount of available forage and appropriate livestock choices depend on biome.

Sorry to be a spanner, but the promises of silvopasture and agroforestry are what keeps me going on my parcel. I've heard enough success stories with restoration grazing to think that we need to be eating more, not less meat to heal the damages of tired soils.

ETA: I don't mean this to say that you should eat meat if you don't want to. I respect each person's right to make that choice for themselves.
 
Graham Burnett
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Location: Essex, UK - Zone 8
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Thanks for your contribution Anne - have you read Mark Shepard's 'Restoration Agriculture'? I particularly like his ideas (which he has also put into practice) about moving away from grian based agriculture and moving more towards perennial systems using tree crops, etc, modelled on natural ecosystems, which are adaptable to both systems that include domesticated animals or are veganically based. Here's part my review of the book from 'Growing Green' magazine (the magazine of the Vegan Organic Network);

Drawing inspiration from classic texts such as J Russel Smith's 'Tree Crops', Masanobu Fukuoka's 'One Straw Revolution', plus the work of permaculturists David Holmgren and Bill Mollison, Restoration Agriculture reminds me in many ways of Kathleen Jannaway's classic 'Abundant Living in the Coming Age of the Tree'1. This was a visionary publication that proposed an entirely new paradigm for the evolution of humankind beyond the age of oil dependency, annual grain agriculture and animal exploitation. It pointed the way towards a tree-based culture very different from anything seen thus far in history, wherin virtually all our needs for food, shelter, fuel and fibre are met from managed woodlands and food forests. We can’t of course know what such a future would look like, any than more than our ancestors would have been able to envisage the world after the advent of the plough or the internal combustion engine, and Jannaway's slim pamphlet (deliberately) provides little more than a tantalising sketch of a world based on values of true compassion and ecological harmony. Yet 'Restoration Agriculture' is a significant step towards fleshing out and adding colour to her broad brushstrokes in the here and now.

With lucid facts and figures based on experience gleaned from his commercial 106 acre New Forest Farm in Wisconsin, Shepard dismantles the myth of feeding the world with annual crops as a long term sustainable option, presenting instead an extremely convincing argument for polycultural and perennial plant-based food production. Monocultural grain-based farming works against nature, uses more energy than it produces in terms of food calories, and generates often toxic wastes. It erodes soil and degrades the earth's resources, while yields inevitably decline drastically over time, requiring ever more inputs of oil-derived artificial fertility. Polycultural alternatives on the other hand are integrated, diverse systems which are resilient and mimic nature, restoring rather than depleting 'natural capital' such as soils, clean water, biodiversity and air quality. Shepard takes the example of the prevalent cool temperate eco-system of his north American bio-regional home (oak savannah, by and large similar to our own climate region in the UK), and explains how diverse alley-cropped trees and bushes such as oak, chestnuts, hazel, apples, blackcurrants and fungi can produce up to 6 million calories of nutritionally dense food per acre annually, and how such farms can not only be financially viable but restorative of local communities and economies.

Shepard does not exclude animals from his polycultural model, although the systems of management he proposes for integrating cattle, pigs and birds into broad scale food forests are based on understanding and meeting their natural behaviours and needs, thus ensuring a high quality of life. This is unlike current industrialised factory (or even 'organic') farming methods that maximise profit above any considerations of welfare, resulting in cruelty, misery and the diminishing of both the animals, and we humans as producers and consumers. To my mind these parts of the book are enlightening and well worth reading. Yet at the end of the day, even though his animals have 'had a good life', they still wind up dead for the purpose of providing human sustenance. This is where, as a vegan committed to a belief in the intrinsic right to self determination for all sentient beings, I part company with the methods Shepard advocates, although it's easy to skip these chapters without losing any of the overall concept. Indeed Shepard himself cheerfully admits that the polycultural model he proposes is fully adaptable to a veganic system, and will provide more than enough of an abundance of high quality food without (captive) animal inputs. I find it very refreshing that he avoids adopting an antagonistic stance towards the vegan point of view, something that perhaps cannot be said for some of the other proponents of regenerative agriculture (eg, Joe Salatin and Alan Savory) and their insistence that domesticated animal 'components' are 'essential' to building and maintaining soil fertility.


Best wishes, Graham
 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Graham Burnett wrote:Thanks for your contribution Anne - have you read Mark Shepard's 'Restoration Agriculture'? I particularly like his ideas (which he has also put into practice) about moving away from grian based agriculture and moving more towards perennial systems using tree crops, etc, modelled on natural ecosystems, which are adaptable to both systems that include domesticated animals or are veganically based. Here's part my review of the book from 'Growing Green' magazine (the magazine of the Vegan Organic Network);


Fascinating review, thanks for adding it to the conversation. Yes, I'm a big fan of the book and the man.
 
Matu Collins
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Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I commend you all for having a discussion of veganism and staying within the boundaries of "be nice"

I see the different sides of these arguments and agree with all. I am repelled by killing and also crave meat. I live in the territory of mountain lions who might eat me and am sometimes in the presence of big hogs who wouldn't mind eating me either.

I had been vegan for years when I took an advanced level anatomy course in college in which we dissected human cadavers. That convinced me that I'm made out of meat. I was pregnant at the time also. I don't know which was more the reason I stopped being vegan.

I really appreciate the open space that cattle grazing. I am grateful to the people who appreciate local grass fed beef and keep the fields and meadows from being turned into condominiums. Land prices are high here in Rhode Island. In part because of the beautiful views of cattle grazing on the waterfront.

I eat a mostly plant based diet.

 
Troy Rhodes
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I super appreciate all thoughtful viewpoints. I really cringe at all not-thoughtful viewpoints from both ends of the spectrum, ultra-vegan to cave man diet.

So far, I see a lot of thoughtfullness...


I was an ovo-lacto vegatarian for a couple years.

I hate violence, full stop. But at some point I realized that the ecosystem just doesn't play nice.

For example, I'm a birder. We feed the birds, we plant stuff birds like.

Did you know that english house sparrows are non-native to the US and are decimating the native song birds??

I also HATE bullies, and that's what english house sparrows are. They kill eggs, they kill babies, they kill adults and they steal nesting sites, vigorously.



That's when I had the big AHA moment. I am an excellent marksman. If I see an english house sparrow at my feeder, and I -don't- shoot it, I have effectively killed 2 or 3 native songbirds by my inaction.

So...no matter what I do or don't do, there is going to be some killing involved. It is up to me to determine what sort of killing is going to happen. I personally decided to thin out the english house sparrows and starlings to give the local song birds a better chance. After 3 years, my counts for finches and warblers and the "good" sparrows and many other species are definitely on the up swing. I wonder if word gets out that this is a EHS free area...?

But I do not fault anyone for not taking the same decision that I came to.


troy
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