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October 13, 2015

30 Days: Animal Rights

by Paul Goebel, posted Jun 18th 2008 10:42AM

George(S03E03) "I think half of that is bullshit" - George the hunter

Normally, I would go into an episode about vegetarianism and animal rights with a pretty strong opinion. However, since this is 30 Days, I know I'm bound to see and hear things that will, at least, give me second thoughts, if not change my opinions completely.

When it comes to animal rights, I have always been somewhere in the middle. I think killing animals for fur is cruel but I don't have a problem with people who eat meat. I personally have an affinity for pigs, so I don't eat pork. However, I think chickens are stupid, so I don't mind some pollo asado now and then. I don't think cosmetics should be tested on animals but I have found a lot of uses for prescription drugs. As far as hunting goes, well, I think you get the point. This episode was tailor made for a guy like me.

When George the hunter meets his vegan host family, it's interesting to see him smile and act polite while his body language is completely defensive. To make matters worse, his first assignment is to dress up like a chicken and participate in a demonstration outside of a KFC. I, personally, found the demo a little insipid and it was clear that, if anything, it simply reinforced George's opinions about animal rights activists.

When George reports for his first day at the animal sanctuary, it becomes clear what his biggest obstacle is. George, like many people, is turned off by the shock tactics and the platitudes that are used by most animal rights groups. Spurlock does a great job of showing how and why their rhetoric falls on deaf ears.

When George's host, Melissa, buys a hunting magazine and flips through it with George, there is a glimmer of hope that she may be willing to see what George gets out of hunting animals. Unfortunately, she uses that time to continue to push her agenda on George who has already heard enough. I, personally don't have a problem with the kind of hunting George does. Bow hunting is definitely a skill and since he eats and mounts what he kills, it's not about the killing. Clearly, there are hunters who do things differently and some who are just flat out poachers but that's a far cry from what George is doing.

The episode's most informative scene came when George had a meeting with a neurologist who spoke to him in a way he could understand. Without spouting rhetoric, she explained that only 4% of all drugs that are tested on animals are eventually proven safe for humans. Moreover, she laid out viable alternatives to animal testing that made a lot of sense. It's too bad this scene was so short.

The real powerful stuff comes when George visits what he thinks is an innocent dairy farm. When he sees how the dairy farm abuses and neglects the calves that they consider to be a byproduct of the milking process he is visibly affected and the irony is palpable.

Just when you think it can't get any more personal, Spurlock works his magic and George visits an animal shelter. Again, the facts and the numbers are laid out for him in a rational way and it clearly makes an impact. When George sees that most of the animals in that shelter are killed because the owners simply didn't want them anymore, you can see the anguish in his face.

If you haven't already seen this episode I urge you to watch it if only for the last twenty minutes which include George adopting a calf and participating in an anti-fur demonstration.

In the end, the best thing that could have happened actually happens. George comes to an understanding and starts to question his own beliefs about animal rights. While he probably won't stop hunting or barbecuing, I seriously doubt he will eat a piece of veal or drink a glass of milk without at least thinking twice.

Could you be vegan if you were forced to?
Yes303 (64.7%)
No165 (35.3%)

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I am all about the WELFARE of animals and have family members that hunt to eat and survive. I am personally a vegetarian and my husband is almost exclusively a carnivore. I tend to stay away from "animal rights activist" because they tend to use shock tactics and some times even violence to make their point.
I was out to lunch today with my husband and I saw George. I didn't realize who he was but knew that I recognized him. He was very gracious and intelligent and it was a pleasure to meet him. I told him I was impressed with how he handle it all - I doubt that I would have done as well with someone pushing their rhetoric down my throat. But I did have to tell him I disagreed about his thoughts on dogs - I would step over a burning man to get to my dog - that is my baby!! = )

We tivo 30 Days and it does make us think - I just wish there was a little less drama but I guess that is what makes for good tv for most people.

July 07 2008 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Like many of you who have commented, I feel that the problem is the treatment of the animals, not whether or not we eat them. As someone else pointed out, in nature, creatures eat each other as a matter of survival.

While it's true that we don't have to eat meat to survive, it's also true that it's very difficult to be a healthy vegan. I know that many will argue the case, but I've been vegan and raised a vegan child who is now a dyed in the wool carnivore.

What I got from the episode is that the hunter, George Snedeker is far more open minded and reasonable than the animal rights activists we were meant to admire and support.

We never saw the details of how Sugar came into the possession of the activists, it looked like cattle rustling to me, and isn't that illegal? Are the animal rights people operating under a double standard?

I'd love to hear more from George, if he's out there! I really liked what he had to say on the show.

June 24 2008 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My main problems with this episode were:
- crazy chicken lady comparing the raising of chickens to the jewish holocaust. I found that offensive and I am episcopalian.
- implying that the dead calves by the side of the road which were heading to the rendering factory would end up in the human food supply. This isn't true unless you enjoy eating lard, tallow or bone meal.
- And did they really show that guy steal a calf from a nearby farm?

Don't get me wrong, I am anti fur, I found the dog shelter euthanization scene disturbing, and the way they make veal creeps me out. But steak tastes good. Pork chops taste good.

I would also agree that chickens are intelligent. Spending time on my grandma's farm, I always found that they ran fastest on mornings we were planning fried chicken for lunch.

June 20 2008 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
NorCal Cazadora

Nicely done, Mr. Goebel.

I was disappointed that George didn't get much air time to make his case for hunting, but I was pleased that this at least wasn't 60 minutes of hunter-bashing. And the show revealed the common ground most reasonable people share: Animal suffering - be it in the name of profit, cruelty or neglect - is abhorrent.

I hunt, and I eat what I kill, and I try to avoid factory-farmed meats precisely because of how factory farms treat animals, because the meat factory farms produce is not good for my health and because the waste these farms produce is devastating to the environment.

I respect the right of all people to choose whether to eat meat, but I resent anyone who tells me I shouldn't eat meat, or that I'm somehow cold-blooded because I take the time, effort and personal responsibility for acquiring my own meat.

Reality is we're omnivores, and I'm comfortable with that. I don't feel the need to remove myself from the natural order of things. I think recent history increasingly shows that the more we remove ourselves from nature, the sicker we (and our planet) become.

June 19 2008 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have had pet chickens for 8 years now. I love all of them, they all have names and different personalities. I have been avegetarian most of my life by choice (just never cared much for meat) but after I adopted my first two hens I decided never to eat chicken again! They are intelligent feeling creatures. They are so curious and funny at times. Now I am a lacto vegan (still occasionally use dairy products) I saw a website on factory farms and was sick emotionally for weeks! We call ourselves humans but after seeing the torture and cruelty that goes on in these slaughter houses , it makes me wonder. This mass production of animals is not natural. We as the supposed more intelligent ones have to come up with a better way. I will never eat meat again .

June 19 2008 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have absolutely no problem with humans hunting animals (even for sport/population controls), hunting animals for food, raising and breeding animals for food, or even fur.

I do NOT place animals on an equal plane with humans, But I do believe we are their caretakers. That doesn't mean that I care about the way a chicken "feels" but I also don't think that they should live only to suffer needlessly. When possible, we should eliminate needless suffering. And I don't start with the premise that it is needless suffering to kill them in the first place.

What I abhor is people who treat animals above humans. Most animal rights activist that I know will freely tell you that they prefer animals to people. People who jeopardize their own life (and the lives of other humans) as they refuse to evacuate because they can't take a pet are ridiculous IMO. People that allow their pets to abuse other PEOPLE's rights (insist they run leash free, etc.) infuriate me.

And PETA is an obnoxious terrorist organization that doesn't live up to their own preaching (see dogs in dumpster). Anything with PETA's name attached to it is immediately disregarded.

I've seen the footage (not this show) and I'm not swayed a bit.

June 18 2008 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

MaryF convienently glosses over a number of facts:
We are omnivores, with canines for tearing and chewing meat. There is little question that our development as a species factors in eating meat, that the human race has done pretty well for itself eating meat, and that any choice to exclude it from the diet is a political one, rather than a scientific or health issue. Yes animal farming does require massive amounts of land but so does universal veganism; the lost biomass has to be replaced somehow, so you're merely trading grazing land for cultivated land. And hunters are some of the primary advocates of wildlands preservation and maintaining habitat.

Vegans forgoe the more easily absorbed iron and protein in meat in favor of less easily digested sources in plants. One would assume that the "more natural" choice would be the most easily accessible one. Vegans often have B12 or calcium deficiencies if their diet isn't artificially fortified because the best and natural sources for those in the human diet are meat and dairy products. Can a vegan diet, with careful plannning, be healthy? Sure. But so can any diet with careful planning.

Also it's not explained exactly how we go from the current artificially inflated populations of domestic animals to smaller, naturally sustainable populations without a massive slaughter/starve off of current herds. If everybody went vegan tomorrow, you'd be commiting to a pretty aggressive culling program to make it viable. And causing the deaths massive numbers of animals for no purpose seems to violate the ethic of non-cruelty more than organized and humane management.

Lastly, the impact on the non-affluent is completely ignored. Animals as food are mobile and calorie dense, you can grow chickens in your backyard; without access to large enough pieces of of land and/or farming equipment the poor are completely at the mercy of land owners in a completely vegan world.

Again, not eating meat or animal products is a political choice, that you're free to make. But to call it the "only solution" and to try and shove it down other people's throats is nonsensical.

June 18 2008 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I From many of the comments here, it is obvious WHY animals have been betrayed and assigned to the lowest, vilest level of man/womankind's cruelty so that they can have their oversized, antibiotic-steroid, misery laced piece of animal flesh at any cost to the helpless, innocent animal. Industrialized and institutionalized animal cruelty is blindly accepted by the masses - who seem to be in abundance here by their statements. What a shame the consumer crazed public turns their backs on the evident, needless suffering of creatures who cry out for mercy, unheard by the profit-driven animal enterprises. So sad so many has bought into this legalized animal cruelty and support it with their purchases. T.G. for animal rights/welfare organizations and the millions, and growing number of compassionate animal advocates who will continue to speak for the voiceless, most vulnerable among us. Nothing is crammed down animal hater's throats - Its the animals who have XXXX stuffed down their throats, beaten, electrocuted, chemically manipulated forced growth and pain beyond words. Rock on PETA and all the AR groups!

June 18 2008 at 10:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I disagree with those who declare absolutely that it is not healthy to eat meat, eggs, and milk. Humans live in different habitats, just like animals, and have different requirements. Although most humans have moved out of living situations that require heavy meat diets, our genetics haven't necessarily changed at the same rate. There are different body types and needs - ancient medical traditions recognize and work with this - and some people thrive on a vegan diet, while others descend into an unhealthy abyss. I think we should all look more at where our food is coming from and how it is raised. Being of Native American descent, I can say that animals are respected but are also food. Trees are also respected but are cut down for shelter. A prayer of thanks is offered to both when they give their life so that we may live. If we farm locally, raise animals with respect and give them a quick end, and buy locally, the impact on the environment is reduced, the animals have had a higher quality of life, people see where their food is coming from (and probably appreciate it more), and we'd be a whole lot healthier because it is fresh and not pumped full of chemicals to preserve it over long distances.

June 18 2008 at 8:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only thing I agree with Junyo about is that we are destroying habitat for wildlife. Their populations are also being artificially inflated by intentionally feeding these animals so that there will be more of them to hunt. As for farmed animals, they are not "surplus." Instead, they are, of course, very intentionally bred - to the tune of more than ten billion every year. This in turn requires massive amounts of land and crops, which in turn help deplete undeveloped land for wildlife. It's a vicious circle in which everyone suffers - and which we largely pay for it through tax subsidies (see the national farm bill). See also the links I posted previously.

The only real solution is to opt for a vegan diet. Fortunately it is healthier, more environmentally responsible, and more delicious and easier than ever. In addition to tofu, there is plenty else to eat and it is generally less expensive and more nutritious than meat, milk or eggs. So spare the animals and respect your own health and that of the planet: Go vegan.

June 18 2008 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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