Video: The Bond-Our Kinship With Animals
Superb Presentation at the 2011 Northwest VegFest by Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society and author of "The Bond: Our Kinship With Animals; Our Call to Defend Them."|
Organized by Northwest Veg, "Portland VegFest '11 rocked the Convention Center on Sept. 17 & 18 as 6,700 people from the Pacific Northwest and well beyond flooded through the VegFest doors and devoured hundreds of food samples, shopped with our veg-savvy exhibitors, attended standing-room-only cooking demos, and listened to inspiring talks by Dr. Neal Barnard, Wayne Pacelle, Vesanto Melina, RD, and so many more wonderful presenters!"|
Attending the Event, I was struck immediately by the fact that vegetarianism and veganism is no longer a scant, marginalized segment of our society. As the quote above from their website states, thousands of people attended the event and the presentations and cooking demos were all well attended.
The main hall containing scores of "veg-savvy" exhibitors was packed with folks sampling vegetarian and vegan foodstuffs, perusing hundreds of books on various themes, and visiting tables with information about animal rights and our proper relationship with our furry friends.
Wayne Pacelle put this relationship in succinct and intimate focus. Speaking Saturday afternoon, he fed the minds of the audience with a myriad of statistics about our relationship with animals.
At an early age, Pacelle says that he was struck "with this incredible set of contradiction that exist in society."
"We have 50 state laws that forbid animal cruelty; it's law in 47 states....to treat malicious acts of cruelty as a felony." And, Pacelle further states that dog fighting and cock fighting are outlawed in all 50 states. "The legal framework exists legislating that we have responsibility to at least some animals, and that cruelty to animals is wrong."
"We have 171,000,000 dogs and cats in the country; 2/3 of American households have pets. We spend more than $50,000,000,000 a year on them..............if you are doting and loving on your companion animal, you are absolutely part of the mainstream."
"There are 71,000,000 of us that are active wildlife watchers; we go out into the forests and the fields to watch animals that share this planet with us.......... whale watching enterprises are globally a $2,000,000,000 a year industry and there are 80 nations of the world involved in these enterprises."
"Look at all the different manifestations and expressions of our relationships with other creatures and you see so much to the good.
"Yet in the same culture, which is the incredible aspect of this relationship with animals, we have so much cruelty. So much of it is occurring in institutionalized ways. In factory farming, 10,000,000,000 animals are used, are killed, for food in the United States. More animals go through slaughter house lines than there are people on the planet."
Wayne states further that "we have tens of millions of animals used every year for testing and education and research. We have 120,000,000 animals shot for sport; we have millions killed for the fur trade. We stage fights between animals, we use them in rodeos, and on and on and on."
Of course on the flip side of that there are over more than 10,000 organizations devoted to animal protection. Pacelle lists many categories of these organization, 3500 animal shelters,, 6000 rescue groups, breed rescue groups. There are even groups in southern California that do hummingbird rescue.
"Why are so many animals in crisis? ........This is the central contradiction that exists with our relationship with other creatures." And, according to Pacelle, "the central problem is that we have all the power; there is an incredible asymmetry."
Wayned Pacelle, from his position as President of the Humane Society, witnesses both the good and the bad, the love and the cruelty in our relationship with animals. He shares this perspective in his book and also articulated this passionate and compassionate message in his presentation.
His personal anecdotes range widely, from the bloody snow of the Canadian seal hunt to the story of a friend who, though losing his arm to a shark, fights for legislation to prevent Shark Finning.
The battle goes on. As Pacelle points out at the outset of this excellent and illuminating talk, we have a responsibility to the animals proportionate to our power over them. This awareness is ascending, gradually gaining momentum here in this country and worldwide.
It perhaps is not for all people to become vegan, or even vegetarian. Yet, it is perhaps necessary for us all to make an effort to explore the circumstances from which our food, our clothing, our cosmetics and medicines are derived.
And I believe that if we do so, we'll never be the same.
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