Bill and Lou: Two Oxen at a College

Spencer Lo There is an extraordinary story developing about a global effort to save two 11 year-old oxen from slaughter, whose bodies will serve the appetites of students at Green Mountain College (GMC), a small institution in Poultney, Vermont. Bill and Lou, affectionately named, have labored at GMC as part of the college’s Food & […]

Gary L. Francione on Philosophy Bites

Spencer Lo Professor Gary L. Francione recently appeared in a Philosophy Bites podcast interview and discussed his abolitionist approach to animal rights. Despite the short length of the interview (around 15 minutes), many topics were covered, including: The ideology of animal welfare: Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer Veganism as a moral requirement Moral status of […]

Mayogate Controversy: Epic Food Fight Over Meaning of ‘Mayo’

Spencer Lo [Update 12/20/14: Unilever has dropped its lawsuit against Hampton Creek, without gaining any concessions in return. As public health lawyer Michele Simon observed, “It’s clear that Unilever realized its mistake and just wanted the whole thing to go away, and just in time for the holidays. It’s a fitting end to a colossal […]

The ‘Blackfish Effect’ at Work: Freedom for Orcas from SeaWorld San Diego?

Spencer Lo Blackfish, an eye-opening documentary about the devastating consequences of keeping orcas in captivity, premiered a little more than a year ago, and since then, the remarkable outrage and debate it inspired has created waves of black lash against SeaWorld, from visible protests of the institution to successful pressures that resulted in embarrassing cancellations […]

2013: The Year for Non-Human Rights—Maybe for Chimps

Spencer Lo Near the end of 2012, Popular Science published an article predicting the top 15 science and technology news stories of this year, with many interesting items such as: “Black Hole Chows Down,” “Supercomputer Crunches Climate,” and “New Comet Blazes by Earth.” One prediction in particular, however, may come as a surprise to readers, […]

Veganism = Religion?

Spencer Lo When one considers the idea of ‘veganism,’ the notion that it is a religion—one relevantly similar to traditional religions—may strike some not only as obviously false but also absurd. Isn’t veganism (obviously) a diet at the very least or a philosophy at best? What does it offer on the ‘big questions’ usually associated […]

Animal Blawg Links 3.15.13

Spencer Lo One (unfortunate) reality of blogging, especially for a slow writer like myself, is that it’s impossible to write about everything one reads, and yet there is so much important information and valuable perspectives to share. So from time to time (perhaps weekly), in lieu of my regular manner of blogging, I’ll simply offer […]

Creating Killers: Human Tolls of Slaughter

Spencer Lo Behind the sanitized world of fast-food, everyday grocery shopping and culinary delights—all meant to satiate to our basic pleasures and needs—is an extraordinarily vast realm of brutality as normal and routine as our mealtime habits. I am referring, of course, to the often ignored truth of slaughterhouses: that billions of animals raised and […]

In Praise (and Defense) of Meatless Mondays

Spencer Lo Today, the start of the new weekday, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will serve students in its K-12 cafeteria meatless meals, thereby participating in the growing international campaign known as “Meatless Mondays” (MM). The mandatory vegetarian program began last month, and follows a unanimous city council’s resolution passed last November endorsing […]

Abolitionism and Welfare Reform: A Debate

Spencer Lo Professor Gary Francione and Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary recently had a short, substantive exchange on abolitionism and welfare reform, consisting of two opening statements and a response to each. Below is my summary of the exchange. Obviously, nothing can be settled in a short debate, but I hope to highlight and sharpen […]

Bullfighting: Justifying Cruelty with Tradition

Spencer Lo The judges on France’s Constitutional Council, a 9 member body, ruled yesterday that bullfighting does not contravene the constitution, rejecting a challenge by the animal-rights group CRAC who seeks to ban the practice nationwide. Although bullfighting is prohibited in certain parts of France, the tradition has remained popular in the south – particularly […]

The Art of Killing–for Kids

Spencer Lo In our culture, the moral divide between humans and animals is sharp in numerous areas, but perhaps most consciously so in one: the sport of hunting. Since the activity involves consciously deciding to kill another sentient, sensitive being, the issue of inflicting suffering and death cannot be avoided, at least for the hunter. […]

The Lack of Ethics in Animal Ethics Committees

Spencer Lo Like factory farming, animal experimentation is an entrenched practice, one which causes extensive suffering to millions of animals per year despite the poor justification in terms of human benefits. Bioethicist Dr. Andrew Knight, author of the book “The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments,” discussed the ethical problems of animal experimentation and related […]

Further Thoughts on Happy Meat

Spencer Lo My last post explored the ethics of consuming “happy meat,” which was prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT article on the matter—with great enthusiasm, he endorsed it as an ethical alternative to the consumption of factory-farmed animals. I attempted to show why this view is deeply mistaken by briefly sketching an argument from […]

What’s Wrong with Happy Meat?

Spencer Lo Suppose animals could be raised humanely, live considerably long lives, and then painlessly killed for food. Would eating such happy creatures be wrong? That question is suggested in a recent article by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who answered it in the negative. According to Kristof, as an alternative to consuming […]

Is a Pet-free World Morally Required?

Spencer Lo Gary Francione argues that it is, even under the most ideal scenario. I find myself disagreeing with Francione on this one—or at least am very resistant to his conclusion. On his view, even if we could “guarantee” that animals under our care will have loving homes and lead great lives, domestication would still […]

Is a pet-free world possible?

Seth Victor Gary Francione rejecting the premise that animals can be property is not new; the good professor has been expressing his view for decades that the key to animal equality must be, in part, approached through our definitions of ownership. He recently posted  that pet ownership is unnatural, even if it were possible to create […]

Torturing Puppies and Eating Factory-Farmed Meat: What’s the Difference?

Spencer Lo If you needed to torture puppies in order to enjoy the taste of chocolate, would doing so be wrong? Wouldn’t doing so be obviously wrong? Most who would say ‘yes’ regularly purchase and consume factory-farmed meat, seeing no problem with the latter, and yet, the two may not be morally distinguishable. According to […]

Is PETA v. SeaWorld a Bad Idea?

Spencer Lo  There is no question that, in the ordinary sense of the word, a great many non-human animals are slaves, forced to exist in extremely deleterious conditions to fulfill the wishes of their human masters. Most are untroubled by this fact—slavery over animals has been widely accepted in society for a very long time. […]

All Volunteer Military? Not If You’re a Dolphin

Spencer Lo Does the United States still conscript people into the military? Yes—the case of military dolphins Both from a strategic and moral standpoint, it is no surprise that when military action is contemplated, governments tend to favor effective tactics involving the least risk to human lives. Even better are effective tactics involving low risk […]

New Rules for Feld Entertainment, Inc.—Pay and Comply

Spencer Lo The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed a $270,000 civil penalty on Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (“Greatest Show on Earth”), for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act spanning a period of years, from June 2007 to August 2011. The civil penalty was […]

Eliminate Euthanasia by Gas Chamber

Spencer Lo At an animal control facility in Florence, Alabama, where stray, unwanted animals are routinely euthanized, a young beagle named Daniel was sent to die in a gas chamber along with 17 other dogs. Amazingly (perhaps miraculously), Daniel survived the 17-minute ordeal unscathed, and has now found a permanent home with the help of […]

City Rejects “Art” Project’s Proposed Chicken Slaughter

Adonia David Recently my hometown of Lawrence, KS found itself in the midst of a battle over whether five chickens should be slaughtered for an art project to take place in the city.  The project, by Amber Hansen, entitled “The Story of Chickens – A Revolution,” was to consist of a traveling chicken coop containing […]

Graphic Content

Will Sheehan Public perception has always played a significant role in the battle for animal rights. Newspapers, publishing houses and television have traditionally served as facilitators–and occasionally unwitting allies–of the movement. Due to the persuasiveness of visual aids, it is clear that the future battleground for the public relations struggle will take place on Youtube […]