Humane Myth vs. Cruel Realty

11174401_665209803585249_3389887374178024083_o

All use of animals, for whatever human ends, is wrong and exploitative. Whether those animals are on a factory farm or in someone’s backyard, in a medical laboratory or in a zoo, the treatment and living conditions of the animals change nothing about the inherent exploitation of the situation. In the case of agriculture, so-called “humane” animal products entail many of the same practices that are used on large-scale industrial farms: for example, conducting procedures like castration, de-beaking, and disbudding of horns without anesthesia; premature slaughter of animals based on productivity and market value, not natural lifespan; withholding medical treatment because of costs and the low value of farmed animals; and transport to and “processing” in the same slaughterhouses used for factory-farmed animals.

But, to repeat, these methods of treatment and living conditions are not what determines whether using animals is right or wrong. They are only symptomatic of the underlying problem: that viewing animals as means to ends, as commodities, will always and inevitably create instances of exploitation. There is no escaping that.

Many people focusing on factory farming as the REAL problem, but factory farming simply takes to the extreme (and sickly logical) conclusion the underlying belief that non-human animals are human “property” (hence the word livestock) to be used for whatever purposes we deem acceptable and necessary. This means that, even if factory farming was stopped today, the exploitation of animals and their unnecessary suffering would continue, indefinitely, until humans stopped all forms of use.

We most often encounter the humane myth when it comes to eggs. People tend to see eggs as benign foodstuffs that chickens “just lay anyway,” so eating them is no big deal.

The sad reality is that the biology of modern chicken egg production is a case study in domestication’s damaging effects on living beings. The victimization of hens begins before they are born and is carried in their bodies until death. All for the sake of human consumption of eggs, these wonderful beings have been manipulated to lay at such frightening rates that their bodies are virtually ticking time bombs. The wild ancestors of modern chickens lay 12-15 eggs per year, solely for reproduction. The hens whose eggs we steal lay between 250-300 annually, and typically live for only a few years before they die. This absurd laying rate takes such a toll on their bodies that it causes, directly or indirectly, a whole host of devastating health problems: cancer, egg yolk peritonitis, impacted oviducts, osteoporosis and other bone conditions, and many more.

Whether a hen is in a battery cage, on a “free-range” farm, or in a backyard flock, the biology is the same…the exploitation is unchanged.

Backyard and other so-called “humane” eggs are not a step in the “right” direction, or a “better alternative” to factory-farmed eggs. There is no such thing as an ethical egg.

The only better alternative for the animals is to go vegan.

(Pictured above: Bibi, the amazing little hen. Read her story at http://trianglechanceforall.org/residents.)

Advertisements

Potbelly Pigs

There are variety of ways in which people misunderstand and mistreat potbelly pigs.

One of the biggest problems is the myth of the “teacup” pig. Scammers sell piglets, promising that they will stay tiny. A few months and many pounds later, the teacup has long since been broken and a much bigger pig is suddenly a problem. Potbelly pigs are surrendered to shelters all the time because they become too big and too much to handle for people who did not do their research about the realities of so-called “teacup” pigs. This is the exact story of Lola, the potbelly whom TCA rescued in March 2014 and then placed at PIGS Animal Sanctuary in West Virginia.

Grassy Lola

Another common occurrence is improper fencing. Pigs are strong and can use their mass to move barriers, and their snouts are perfect for digging under and prying up weak fencing. Especially when a female is in heat or a male smells a female in heat nearby, fences are more like speed bumps if not secured properly. We believe that Mott escaped from a fence before he was picked up as a stray. And of course he was not neutered.

Mott--rescued from a shelter where he came in as a stray.

Mott–rescued from a shelter where he came in as a stray.

Even worse, perhaps, is improper and over feeding. People seem to get a kick out of feeding pigs all sorts of things from their table, as well as dog food and other types of food that are far more rich than pigs actually need. As a result, you frequently see potbelly pigs who are dangerously obese, with their eyes nearly hidden and their bellies dragging on the ground. Cordelia arrived to TCA in this sort of condition. With proper mini-pig food and monitoring of how much she was eating, she lost quite a bit of weight and is so much healthier now. You also see this situation with a stray pig who is in need of a home currently at the Durham County shelter (click here more details).

Cordelia--picked up as a stray.

Cordelia–picked up as a stray.

Sally, a stray at the Durham County animal shelter.

Sally, a stray at the Durham County animal shelter.

Piglets are undeniably cute, and pigs have remarkable personalities that many people find irresistible. However, it is absolutely essential to provide them with the proper food, enclosures, and medical care to keep them happy, as well as plenty of enrichment and socialization to keep them stimulated. Naps and belly rubs are wonderful too!

For more information, please read these resources from our very own mobile pig vet, Dr. Kristie Mozzachio!

* Potbellied Pig Basics for Owners: https://trianglechanceforall.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/dr-mozzachio-potbellied-pig-basics-for-owners.pdf

* Minipig Body Condition Score Chart: https://trianglechanceforall.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/minipig-body-condition-score-chart.pdf

Triangle Chance for All’s MATCHED Medical Crowdfunder!

** Triangle Chance for All is thrilled to announce our $5,000 medical crowdfunding campaign — with a matching grant from A Well-Fed World! **

http://www.loveanimals.org/medical-fundraiser.html

Orion 2

In the past year of operations, we have spent almost $7,000 on medical care–ranging from surgeries for bumblefoot and broken beaks, to vaccinations and health exams, to prescriptions for infections. This medical bill accounts for nearly half of our total expenses over the past year…

We are asking for your help to raise $5,000 for Guinevere’s Fund, our medical fund named in honor of a beloved young hen who died shortly after arriving at TCA from traumas sustained before she joined our flock.

All donations for this campaign will be matched thanks to a generous grant from A Well-Fed World! With your help and this matching grant, we will be well-prepared to provide the same level of medical care for the coming year to all of our residents. Plus we will be better able to take in new residents and focus especially on rescue-and-placement as a way to get more individuals off of the agricultural assembly line.

Learn more and donate at LoveAnimals.org between today and June 2nd!

http://www.loveanimals.org/medical-fundraiser.html

“What do you do with the eggs?”

In case you might have missed it, we feed all of the eggs laid here at Triangle Chance for All–by the chickens and by Nemea the duck–back to the birds.

11050263_654171221355774_3869161521690474313_n

Typically we collect the eggs, boil them, mash them up with healthy extras like coconut oil, red raspberry leaf, and ground flax seed, and we make bedtime snacks for everyone with the eggs and fresh greens and fruit (sometimes we just break them on the ground, raw). Everyone has come to expect their evening treat plate…and they let you know if you are late!

By feeding the eggs back to the birds who laid them, we hope in part to return some of the vital nutrients that were pulled from their bodies to make the eggs…almost every day…and thus hopefully avoid some of the devastating health problems that most domesticated egg-layers face. And, of course, the birds LOVE to eat their eggs.

Clementine and Amandine enjoy their favorite treat: one of their eggs!

Clementine and Amandine enjoy their favorite treat: one of their eggs!

Along with that, we recognize that providing sanctuary to our residents means not using them or what they produce. This is a core principle of ethical veganism. Their eggs are not ours to steal, and we could never justify supporting or normalizing egg consumption by humans in any way. To do otherwise would be to place them in the same position as where we rescued them from, and that is not what sanctuary is about.

Triangle Chance for All: Year One

When we picked up two hens from the Orange County animal shelter on February 12th, 2014, the understanding was that we would be transporting them to a sanctuary in a few days. We had taken part in two prior rescue-and-transport efforts—for a little white goat named Lily in Gaston County and Bubba the famous feral ram in Durham—and had plans to keep doing more of the same. After all, we only had a few acres of mostly wooded land and practically no experience caring for and living with farmed animals; we wanted to rescue chickens “someday” but did not envision that happening for several years.

But plans change.

Amandine and Clementine.

Amandine and Clementine.

An intervening snowstorm gave us a few more days to get to know them, and Clementine and Amandine quickly won us over … as we scrambled to build them a workable living space in our basement and fumbled around trying to figure out the right ways to carry them and interact with them and care for them. Call it a crash course with a backdrop of snow.

The funny thing about broken plans, of course, is that much creativity can be born in the breaking. Once the divide between us and farmed animals had disappeared, new questions presented themselves. How best could we accommodate our new residents? What did it mean that we were now vegans with chickens? And more importantly, what did “sanctuary” really mean … for us and for the animals?

After a few conversations amongst the board members, the mission of Triangle Chance for All evolved, and not long after we rescued our next two residents, Orion and Hikaru the roosters, in March, we had re-envisioned ourselves as a Microsanctuary.

The first "coop" for Clementine & Amandine!

The first “coop”!

A view of the chicken yards!

Where they live today.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, our resident numbers grew quickly in the months that followed. Harumi, Kotori, Jason, Jewel, and Joy joined us at the Microsanctuary in April. Phoenix arrived in May. Beatrice, Coriander, Nutmeg, Hypatia, and Phoebe came in June. Tolstoy, Da Vinci, Trudy, and Annabel were rescued in July. Guinevere and Bibi both came in September. Mott, Autumn, Salem, Wilkie, Cordelia, and Yuki arrived in October. Nemea arrived in November.

Plutarch--he fell off a transport truck as a piglet and was rescued from a shelter; we fostered him and then placed him a larger sanctuary.

Plutarch

While taking in these residents (and losing Guinevere and Coriander, for whom we still mourn), we also continued to rescue, place, and transport farmed animals in need—including Nestor the goat, Lola the pig, Rupert the goat, Speckles the rooster, Plutarch the pig, and Silver the goat.

Also in that year, we have hosted and participated in some exciting vegan outreach events. Our spring and fall bake sales showed many people how delicious veganism can be. Our Vegan BBQ & Microsanctuary Debut welcomed friends and supporters, whom we have followed up with through individual visits for food, fellowship, and visiting with our residents. Vegan Night Out in September brought together local vegan-friendly restaurants and an amazing documentary film, The Ghosts in Our Machine, and our appearance at the first annual Triangle VegFest was a whopping success where we reached many new local friends.

Suffice it to say, all of us at Triangle Chance for All are thrilled at what we accomplished in our first year.

But we are also deeply humbled because of the support and encouragement we have received from our supporters to make all of this possible.

Bibi undergoing surgery to fix a broken beak.

Bibi undergoing surgery to fix a broken beak.

Since we welcomed Clementine and Amandine, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters, whose donations have largely been used to feed, care for, shelter, clean up after, and otherwise support our residents and placements. For example, we spent over $2,800 on food and over $7,000 on medical care, all so that we could provide our residents with the same quality of life that would be expected for any family member.

The year ahead is equally exciting, but with different foci for us as an organization. Of course, sustaining the lives we have is a top priority. We will continue to care for our residents and telling their stories, while giving others a chance to get to know them and, we hope, begin to see farmed animals in an entirely new way.

Beyond that, we plan to put much more energy into our educational programs, on topics including:

  • the biology of eggs, and why there is no such thing as an ethical egg;
  • the plight of roosters;
  • “teacup” pigs;
  • ethical veganism and animal liberation; and10956050_632208233552073_4852200869160965217_n
  • microsanctuaries

We are also excited to have our volunteer program starting up, and have already had a great response. Who knew so many people were interested in picking up pig poop and cleaning chicken houses?

Infrastructure is also on our radar for the year(s) ahead, whether that means rethinking how we use our current yards and houses, or how to expand so that Mott and Cordelia can finally get out to the woods—and be joined by goats and possibly other species as well!

Of course, there is still much to be revealed in the year ahead for Triangle Chance for All. We appreciate all of your interest and support, and we look forward to continuing to make a positive difference for all beings.

Mexican Coffee Truffles

Treat your Valentine, or get over the winter doldrums, with these Mexican Coffee Truffles!

– Linda Nelson

Mexican Coffee Truffles

Ingredients:

1/3 cup full fat coconut milk in the can
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips (I use Equal Exchange)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 tablespoon tequila
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coffee extract
extra cocoa powder for rolling

Directions:

Melt the coconut mild and the chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium heat, or use the microwave. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

Add the cocoa powder, coffee liqueur, tequila, cinnamon, and coffee extract. Cover the pan, and refrigerate for five or six hours or overnight.

Remove the truffle mix from the fridge, and scoop tablespoons of the mixture out, and form into balls. Roll the balls in cocoa powder, and store in the fridge.

These are adapted from Kelly Peloza’s Cheers to Vegan Sweets.

Jodphur Dhal

Whenever we travel, we take Tasty Bites’s Jodphur Lentils along just in case there is no vegan food available. We think they are really tasty for a packaged food, but they are expensive, and single serve, so I set out to replicate them. I’m very pleased with what I came up with.

– Linda Nelson

Jodphur Dhal

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow split peas sorted and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion diced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 whole cloves

Directions:

Add the split peas, vegetable broth, turmeric, salt, and cayenne to a stock pot, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to allow the peas to simmer, and loosely cover the pot. Cook for up to 40 minutes or until the peas are soft and mushy. How much the peas should cook depends on what you like.

While the peas are cooking, melt the vegan butter in a skillet, and add the onion, garlic, cumin, and cloves. Cover and cook until the onions are soft checking the heat often so as not to burn them. It took me about 10 minutes.

When the peas are soft, add the onion mixture. Serve over rice or serve as a soup. I couldn’t wait for lunch today so I had them for breakfast! Yum!

My thanks to my wonderful friend and fellow board TCA board member Linda James for the gift of the beautiful bowl! It matches the dhal perfectly.

Hot or Not White Bean and Tomato Soup

I am not a new vegan, but I am still in awe of the many creative, colorful, healthy ways plants can become delicious!

This soup is exceptional and easy! Try it for lunch or dinner soon.

– Linda Nelson

Hot or Not White Bean and Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil (or use water)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 14oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 4oz. can diced hot or mild green chiles, drained
2 cans Great Northern Beans
2 tablespoons creamy, natural peanut butter
3 cups vegetable broth
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions:

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cover the pot, and cook until the onion is soft. This will take about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans, and chiles, and simmer while covered for 15 minutes.

Stir in the peanut butter and the broth. Add salt to taste, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes longer. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or by blending in a blender or food processor in batches.

Stir in the lime juice, and simmer until hot.

Isn’t it pretty?

This is adapted from a recipe in 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson.

Domesticating Torture with Your Tax Dollars

The New York Times recently published a disturbing expose of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, a tax-payer-funded testing facility run the by federal government that is seeking to create bigger, better, more productive versions of farmed animals.

The NYT story is utterly horrifying in what it reveals about the callous treatment of individual animals–from hormone injections to spur growth to selective breeding for greater litter sizes to abandoning unwanted babies and allowing them to die. And much, much more. As the article states:

Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.

Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.

One days' worth of eggs from TCA hens = the number of eggs laid per year by their wild ancestor.

One days’ worth of eggs from TCA hens = the number of eggs laid per year by their wild ancestor.

The reality of the situation is that these obvious tortures are not restricted to “factory” farming; they are inextricably connected to every farmed animal, no matter where they are living or how they are treated. All farmed animals grow at certain rates (like the “broiler” chickens raised for meat who are killed at six weeks old, long after they have become crippled by their own bulk), have certain numbers of babies, lay a certain number of eggs–all as a result of human manipulation–through selective breeding and more invasive genetic tinkering.

The resident hens at Triangle Chance for All are perfect examples. Each one of them will lay between 250 and 300 eggs per year, unlike her wild ancestors, who lay between 10 and 15 eggs per year. All domesticated hens are victims of their own hijacked biology, and most will die well before their time because of this. In the case of other animals, their premature deaths typically come at the hands of a human–either because their flesh is desired or their productivity (and thus their usefulness) has waned.

We can try to stave off this death, but there is only so much we can do. The only true way to stop the suffering of future generations is to go vegan and end the demand for ALL animal products, and if possible we can liberate animals from the oppression in which they live. But by going vegan, we take a huge step away from this endless torture by ending the demand for the altered, exploited bodies of the mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.

Split Pea Soup

We ate this soup from thermoses after our long drive to The Pig Preserve, and it was warming, filling, and comforting. It is the perfect winter’s meal.

– Linda Nelson

Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups of split peas, rinsed and sorted
6 to 8 cups water or vegan broth (the amount used depends on how thick you want your soup.)
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I use yukon gold.)
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions:

Add all of the ingredients except salt and pepper to a big soup pot, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover partially, and cook until the peas are soft and falling apart. This will take at least an hour. Add more water or broth, if needed. Add salt and pepper, and serve.