Optimistic Vegan


Behind Schedule
April 6, 2011, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Lifestyle, Personal, Scientists | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve recently realized that many of our great scientists had their passion since they were children. The two I’ll discuss are Jane Goodall and Aldo Leopold, who were both young naturalists from the start and accomplished great things later in life.

As we know, Jane Goodall went to Africa and made important discoveries about the life of chimpanzees. She didn’t just decide one day that she wanted to spend her life outside and with animals; she had started making observations of the animals in her backyard at a young age. There was one story she told at the speech in Houston, TX about how her discovery of how chickens laid eggs. She described how she asked everyone around her where the egg came from but she was unsatisfied with any response. She decided to take matters into her own hands and observe for herself. After running into a chicken coop, she realized that frightening the chickens off of their roosts would not be the best way to make a discovery. She rethought her process and decided instead to hide in the coop and wait for a chicken to feel comfortable enough to lay. Four hours later, after being searched for in vain by her mother, she ran out of the coop with a huge grin on her face and her mother couldn’t help but be excited too. Jane fondly remembers how her mother could have reprimanded her, but how instead she listened intently to her chicken observations, and in turn nurtured the little naturalist in Jane.

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Similar to Jane’s lifelong awareness of her love for animals and nature, Aldo Leopold also loved the outdoors from a young age. His parents were just as supportive and helped to instill ideas that would later influence the development of his environmental ethic. I watched a documentary about him last night called Green Fire (which is a decent film good for an introduction to Leopold) that described him as a young boy who loved to hunt and fish (a different way of appreciating nature that was more accepted in his time) and particularly to bird watch. The documentary explained that binoculars were uncommon for birdwatchers, as it had not developed into such as sport, so he borrowed his mother’s opera binoculars to study the birds near to him.

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I both love and hate these stories. I love them because of how inspiring it is that they were able to make their childhood games their realities. I also love how flexible they were in when it came to living their dream. I’m sure Jane never expected to study chimpanzees for twenty five years but when she had the opportunity I know she snatched it up. I’m sure the same goes for Leopold; he may not have expected to become one of the most prolific environmental authors but he was open to possible opportunities and he ended up doing what he loved. I hate these stories (maybe not hate, that’s a bit strong) because I don’t have the extensive background that they do in naturalist studies. I’ve grown up around animals but I haven’t spent a significant amount of time bird-watching or observing chickens. It makes me feel like I’m behind schedule!

I think that as long as I continue to take advantage of every opportunity and embrace my passion more, I’ll get there eventually. I might not make the same impact as those before me, but I’ll make one in my own way. (Jane Goodall didn’t go to Africa until she was 26, so I still have time to catch up!)



Humane Slaughter Act: Chickens

The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act is an act that was introduced in 1901 to regulate slaughterhouse standards. In summary, it describes how “livestock” are to be “rendered insensible to pain” in a single blow before the rest of the process is done. Also that slaughterhouses can be regulated by the government. This seems straightforward, however, many different slaughterhouses have interpreted this law, as well as the USDA, in different ways.

A few months ago, the courts ruled that poultry was not part of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, because poultry does not count as “livestock.” In the act, it says that cattle, calves, horses, mules, sheep, swine, and other livestock are protected by this act, however the courts have interpreted livestock to exclude birds. So as of now, there are no laws protecting the humane slaughter of chickens, turkeys, ducks, bunnies, or other poultry (rabbits have been ruled as poultry…).

So because there are no regulations for these animals, I’m sure you can guess what happens. I won’t go into much detail, but they move so quickly shackled on the track, that they move through the lines at 182-186 per minute. Because of their speed that allows for the best efficiency, most birds aren’t able to be stunned, or their throats slit, so many of them are still alive as they go into the scalding hot water (to remove their feathers).

If you follow the link for “182-186 per minute” it will take you to a site that describes a slaughterhouse worker’s experience. Not only the chickens are abused, there are also very poor conditions for slaughterhouse workers.