Monday, March 9, 2015



Saints and truly holy people are rare. As we notice the sea of humanity around us, we sense that our lives are immersed in a vast ocean of mundane mediocrity. Just as great musicians such as the Beatles are rare, so too are the great spiritual masters.

In 1982 I had an unusually vivid dream. I was 25 years old and I just read the classic book "Autobiography of a Yogi." I decided to visit the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago. The founder, Goswami Kriyananda, invited some of us to a free meditation class. That night, at exactly 4 am, I clearly saw Goswami Kriyananda in a dream touch me between the eyebrows as he said, "This is your first spiritual initiation." I awoke startled, but energized by this inspiring and prophetic dream.

Swami Kriyananda was absolutely right. Years after that inspiring dream I received dozens of blessings, initiations and empowerments (called "abhishekas" in Tibetan) from some of the world's greatest living saints. Now, the reader may be thinking: "I don't have the time or money to travel around Nepal and India visiting great masters." Consider this: I was actually living in Colorado, near the Boulder/Denver area when I visited these enlightened beacons of humanity.

Here are some inspiring masters who visited this area: the Dalai Lama, the 17th Karmapa, Penor Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Khyentse Rinpoche, Garchen Rinpoche, Sri Karunamayi, Amritanandamayi Devi (in Albuquerque), Anandi Ma, Mother Meera, Sri Shivabalayogi, Sri Sai Kaleshwar, and many more.

Mother Meera does not utter a single word, yet, hundreds of people eagerly await her blessings. She simply sits on a chair, on a stage, and quietly blesses hundreds of people, and then she quietly leaves the stage.

Of the female gurus who have become well known in the West and in India, Mother Meera seems the most enigmatic. She has no ashram, no teachings, no rituals, and she doesn't give discourses. She is regarded by her disciples and by herself as a divine incarnation. Mother Meera explains: "I knew who I am at birth. There has never been a separation between me and the Divine."

Amritanandamayi Devi has hugged people TENS of MILLIONS of times in her life. I've seen her marathon human-hugging sessions: She hugged over 1,000 people from 6:30 pm to 5:00 am without taking even a ten-minute break. And she loved every minute of it!

Sri Karunamayi enjoys giving personal blessings and conducting homas (sacred fire ceremonies). These homas help purify the karma of those attending and the area around the homa benefits. A huge amount of literally palpable, positive energy is generated during a homa, as sacred mantras are chanted and offerings are tossed into the fire.

Watching these saints is akin to watching great musicians. They make it look easy - until you try it yourself. Giving unconditional love to thousands - or millions - of people is mind boggling. Before she started touring, Sri Karunamayi spent 10 years in deep meditation in the forests of Andhra Pradesh in India. And that's all she did - meditate! The average person can't sit still for more than 30 minutes!

These saintly gurus have, with the help of God, mastered themselves. They do not appear to be driven by personal greed and petty desires. Therefore, when they say something, I listen carefully. Spending time around them is therapeutic because you realize that all these prayers, mantras and meditations have real value. People can do these practices to grow spiritually, or, at least not create major karmic mistakes.

Many years ago I walked right past the classic "Autobiography of a Yogi." For two years I saw this amazing book in bookstores and libraries, but I ignored it thinking this is probably a dull read. When I finally did read the book, I was utterly fascinated, and reading it even changed my life. I was open-minded enough to believe that "Autobiography of a Yogi" is a factual - not fictional - account of a great master's life.

One of the key messages of "Autobiography of a Yogi" is that India is still producing great saints. We need not spend our lives venerating tombs or relics (which is a good idea, too) when there are living masters available. Years after reading "Autobiography of a Yogi," I immersed myself in teachings of the Dalai Lama and other great Tibetan masters. These teachings encouraged me to visit a panoply of saintly gurus, swamis, rinpoches and lamas. And from each of these enlightened masters I learned something. At the very least I saw in front of me real people who were living at very high levels of consciousness, and I left these meetings feeling optimistic. It was comforting to know these ancient teachings are as viable today as they were thousands of years ago.

Sometimes a book or saintly guru appears in my life when I’m most eager for those lessons. That in itself is a lesson. Currently, I'm reading the classic book "Tibetan Book of the Dead." I'm fascinated that such a detailed knowledge of the afterlife exists, and this wisdom is accessible to anyone who takes the time to read this work. The Dalai Lama thinks so highly of this classic text that he wrote a very detailed 14-page commentary for it.

Curious readers may wonder if I was raised in a Buddhist family. Most definitely NOT! My father was an incurable, raging alcoholic who taught me this golden lesson: do not emulate a chronically angry sot who subjects other people to his hellish mind. Buddhism also has common sense: why indulge in counterproductive angry, negative thoughts all day? A rational person realizes that constantly nurturing negative thoughts results in: alcoholism, criminal mischief, trips to jail, drunken tantrums, drunken debauchery, bar room brawls, contusions, street-corner ranting, visits to local mental institutions, etc.

Most of us are not highly-advanced meditators who can sit in samadhi 12 hours a day - or even one hour a day. Tibetan Buddhism, therefore, places importance on visiting and venerating stupas, reciting mantras, reading sutras, etc. All these practices leave strong karmic imprints in the mind. Animals, too, greatly benefit from hearing mantras and sutras. Let your cats or dogs hear Tibetan and Hindu mantras - they will benefit greatly.

Now, when you do any meditative practices, cats will sense your peaceful aura and sit on your lap. Let them sit there while you recite mantras for them. You can also recite mantras for dogs or any animal. Indeed, it is exceedingly rare for animals to come into contact with the Dharma. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, letting animals hear these precious mantras leaves strong positive karmic imprints in their minds and in their next life they will hopefully receive Dharma teachings - preferably as a human! The Chenrezig mantra OM MANI PADME HUM is an easy mantra to recite.

I spent much time visiting "The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya" in Colorado, and the "Amitabha Stupa" in Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is such a beautiful, special place and a stupa seems perfectly at home there, blessing the beautiful landscape. Stupas are made to be venerated and they contain sacred relics of great Buddhist Saints, and millions of mantras, too. Just seeing a holy stupa plants positive imprints in our mental continua.

Astute readers may find this article in "The Village Voice," interesting: Actor Jim Carrey visits the great hugging saint Amritanandamayi Devi. Go to:

Swami Rama had supernormal qualities that baffled Western scientists. Back in the 1970's Swami Rama revolutionized our understanding of human mind control over physiology. Researchers at the Menninger Institute in Topeka, Kansas hooked Swami Rama up to their EEGs, EKGs and temperature monitors. Western scientists had never believed India's yogis could do what the Indians always claimed they could - controlling every component of their physical bodies to the extent that they appeared virtually lifeless according to the electric printouts, yet remain fully conscious.

The swami demonstrated full mastery of his autonomic nervous system, which until then most Western doctors assumed was impossible. Swami Rama considered these tests trivial compared to the real value of yoga. Stopping one's heartbeat or regulating the temperature in individual cells of his body (skills he actually demonstrated there) was interesting, but the real value of yoga is its deep and transforming effect on human consciousness. Visit:

It's ironic that today's world of technology is actually shedding light on time-tested, ancient practices such as meditation and yoga. Meditation and technology need not be mutually exclusive. Human minds discovered meditation and human minds also discovered technology. We know, too, from anecdotal evidence that these age-old practices have great benefit.

Mark Matousek wrote an article about visiting these enlightened people: "Daniel Goleman first became aware of spiritual energy three decades ago in Asia. The author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman was a Harvard graduate studying meditation in India when he noticed that most seasoned practioners exuded what he calls 'a special quality, magnetic in a quiet sense.' Contrary to stereotype, these spiritual types did not seem otherworldly at all. 'They were lively and engaged,' he says, 'extremely present, involved in the moment, often funny, yet profoundly at peace - equanimous in disturbing situations.' What's more, it seemed to him that this quality was communicable: 'You always felt better than before you'd spent time with them, and this feeling lasted.'

Goleman discovered that the components of spiritual energy are as carefully quantified in ancient traditions as waves and particles are in physics. One of the words used to describe this magnetic state is sukha, he says, a Pali expression denoting a sense of 'repleteness, contentment, delight, a calm, abiding joy regardless of external circumstances.' Sukha is selfless in nature and connected to a greater purpose - which is why it increases through service to others."

Mark Matousek continues: "Such transmission is more palpable than a skeptic might expect," as San Francisco psychologist Paul Ekman saw after spending a week in Dharamsala with the Dalai Lama. The foremost authority on the physiology of emotion, Ekman - who is not Buddhist - had been invited to engage in a cross-cultural dialogue between Western scientists and His Holiness, along with several monks. Ekman left the meeting deeply moved: "These monks were unlike any human beings I had encountered before," he says. "They were joyous in a way I had never seen, except perhaps, in my daughter at two or three years old."

Ekman detected four characteristics common to people with this energy: "a palpable goodness, first of all that went far beyond some 'warm and fuzzy aura,' and seemed to arise from genuine integrity. Next, an impression of selflessness - a lack of concern with status, fame, and ego - a transparency between their personal and public lives that set them apart from those with charisma, who often are often one thing on the outside, another when you look under the surface.

Third, Ekman noticed that this expansive, compassionate energy nurtured others. Finally, he was struck by the 'amazing powers of attentiveness' displayed by these individuals.

In his book 'Destructive Emotions,' Goleman cites a recent study involving a monk being monitored in a laboratory while he meditates on compassion. Among other findings, scientists saw a dramatic increase in gamma energy (sparked in the part of the brain associated with positive emotions), proving that through concern for others we can create measurably greater well being in ourselves " - O Magazine article "Spiritual Energy" by Mark Matousek

Enlightenment is not easily attained.
Saintly gurus and rinpoches can teach us meditation, help us purify karma, give us mantras, or even give personal-lifestyle advice. But we, ourselves, must do the hard work of climbing the spiritual ladder. We, all by ourselves, must be mindful of our minds and wrestle with inner demons. Or, As Ramakrishna, the Indian avatar would say: "The world is a madhouse of lust, anger and greed." Who could argue with that statement? And that was before the Kardashians!

Call it karma, fate or destiny that I was drawn to Eastern wisdom. I’m not downplaying a long history of great Christian mystics, as much as I relish the experience of enlightened teachers who are very much alive. Through the miracle of Web technology, we can access information about various teachers simply by cruising the Web. So, if I did not read books, study Web sites, and visit these saintly gurus, I would have short changed myself greatly. But I trusted my intuition that there's more to life than baseball and barbeques. Our lives are meant to have meaning. We need not waste our earthly existence brooding over the Kardashians and reality TV.

- By Scott Palczak (Scott Lane)

FROM the BOOK "DAUGHTERS of the GODDESS": The Women Saints of India":

Page 62)

Anandi Ma struggled for a few moments, searching for words, then spoke haltingly to Dileepji in Gujarati. He translated, "She says her first experience was in her home. They have a statue of the Divine Mother and she was chanting some mantras. All of a sudden, from the statue of the Mother there was a very brilliant, dazzling light, a thousand suns coming out, and then the Mother got absorbed in her. After that she lost consciousness. Since then she continued to have different experiences. She would see a form of the Lord and merge with that form completely and then she didn't have any consciousness after that. There are times when she's conscious of the experience afterwards, but basically it has to be experienced; it can't be described. It is beyond words because it's not of this world and not of this level of consciousness. That state is so unique that no one wants to come out of it. That's why Dhyanyogi used to take so long waking her out. The soul doesn't want to come out of that state." - from "Daughters of the Goddess" - by Linda Johnsen


For nearly three decades, a tiny Indian holy woman has comforted, blessed, and - many believe - healed millions of devotees of all ages races, religions, and walks of life, simply by her gentle, loving spiritual embraces. Mata Amritanandamayi, the Mother of Immortal Bliss - affectionately called Amma or Ammachi (mother) - has emerged as one of the most prominent female spiritual leaders in the world, commanding a large following of devotees both in her native country and beyond. Likened to Mother Teresa by some and revered as a great mystic by many, this woman from rural south India is regarded by her devotees as the embodiment of the Divine Mother.

In recognition of her contributions to the global community, Ammachi was invited to address the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1993 at which she was named "President of Hinduism." In October 2002 she was awarded the Gandhi - King Award for Non - Violence at the United Nations.

Among the various devotional biographies, the oldest account was written by one of Ammachi's senior disciples, Swami Amritaswarupananda, and it is considered by Ammachi's organization to be her authoritative biography.

Although her hagiographies brim with miraculous stories that serve to legitimate her close relationship with certain deities and affirm that she holds special powers of manifestation, initially Ammachi rejected demands for miracles as proof of her divine manifestation. "My intention" says Ammachi," is not to show miracles. My goal is to inspire people with the desire for liberation through realization of their Eternal Self. Miracles are illusory. They are not the essence of spirituality."

However, a month later she reportedly convinced skeptics by changing water into a holy milk mixture, and subsequently, many other miracles have been attributed to her, including the widely circulated story of healing a leper.

On Devi Bhava nights, Ammachi is believed to reveal her identity as the Divine Mother, reflected in certain visible changes in her person. In her characteristic third-person style of expression, Ammachi tells a group of disciples: "If you were to really see Amma as she is, it would overwhelm you - you couldn't possibly bear it. Because of this, Amma always covers Herself with a thick layer of maya (illusion). But during Devi Bhava, Mother removes one or two of her veils, revealing a little more of what she really is." - from "Gurus in America"


Great Stupa of Dharmakaya website:
Amitabha Stupa:
Maitreya Relic Tour:


Amma Sri Karunamayi is one of India's greatest living saints. I've been visiting Amma every year for 15 years, and April 3, 2015 was the first time I saw her give a lengthy and heartfelt discourse denouncing violence against women. She also lamented human trafficking, and missing girls.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where trafficking victims are exploited for commercial sex purposes by means of force, fraud or coercion, according to the U.S. Department of State. One reason human trafficking is prevalent in the United States is related to our 1.7 million teenage runaways. Many of these teens end up in hands of a trafficker (a pimp), who gives promises such as shelter, protection, etc.

Amma passionately desires real change in the world regarding these issues. She said that if a woman becomes president of the United States, much more attention will be given to these issues.

Amma also mentioned that meat eating contributes to aggressive behavior and she recommends a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian, sattvic diet is meant to include food and eating habits that are "pure, essential, natural, vital, energy-containing, clean, conscious, true, honest, wise". Sattvic diet is a regimen that places emphasis on seasonal foods, fruits, dairy products, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat based proteins. Some Sattvic diet suggestions, such as its relative emphasis on dairy products, is controversial.

Paramahansa Yogananda wrote in his "Autobiography of a Yogi " about how Mahatma Gandhi had concern and compassion for cows.

At ten-thirty we were called to the ashram porch for lunch with Gandhi and the satyagrahis. Today the menu included brown rice, a new selection of vegetables, and cardamon seeds.

Noon found me strolling about the ashram grounds, on to the grazing land of a few imperturbable cows. The protection of cows is a passion with Gandhi. "The cow to me means the entire sub-human world, extending man's sympathies beyond his own species," the Mahatma explained. "Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with all that lives. Why the ancient rishis selected the cow for apotheosis is obvious to me. The cow in India was the best comparison; she was the giver of plenty. Not only did she give milk, but she also made agriculture possible. The cow is a poem of pity; one reads pity in the gentle animal. She is the second mother to millions of mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the whole dumb creation of God. The appeal of the lower order of creation is all the more forceful because it is speechless."

Certain daily rituals are enjoined on the Orthodox Hindu. One is Bhuta Yajna, an offering of food to the animal kingdom. This ceremony symbolizes man's realization of his obligations to less evolved forms of creation - instinctively tied to body identification (a delusion that afflicts man also) but lacking the liberating quality of reason peculiar to humanity.
- from "Autobiography of a Yogi"


Amma's biography states that during her 10 years of deep meditation, poisonous snakes such as cobras would crawl over her, and tigers and deer would sit near her. These were WILD tigers and NOT defanged cobras! She said during the homa that she was not afraid of these animals and the jungle is safer than our society! Amma also said in her biography that she does not like to walk on grass because it hurts the grass!

Paramahansa Yogananda in his "Autobiography of a Yogi" wrote: "Master as far as I know, was never at close quarters with a leopard or tiger. But a deadly cobra once confronted him, only to be conquered by his love.

We were seated outdoors near the ashram. A cobra appeared nearby, a four-foot length of sheer terror. Its hood was angrily expanded as it raced toward us. Master gave a welcoming chuckle, as though to a child. I was filled with consternation to see Sri Yukteswar engage in a rhythmical clapping of hands. He was entertaining the dread visitor! The serpent's frightful hood gradually contracted; the snake slithered between Sri Yukteswarji's feet and disappeared into the bushes."

After her heartfelt discourse, Amma blessed probably 400 or more people individually. Each person writes on an index card what he or she needs and hands their card to Amma. Amma is always happy to see her "divine children" as she calls her followers. She is like a spiritual mother to her infants who need nurturing.

As usual, the festive and wonderfully sublime homa was charged with positive energy, as 300 people chanted and worshipped Ganesha, Shiva, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. Even small dogs seem to enjoy homas, and I think to myself, "You lucky dogs!" These homas are stashed in my memory as some of the most positive experiences in my life.


A homa or fire offering is a sacred ceremony in which the gods and goddesses are offered oblations through the medium of fire, according to Vedic spiritual injunctions, while special mantras are recited. A homa is performed during specific auspicious occasions for the benefit of the entire world as well as the participants.

Sri Karunamayi has stated that homas and abhishekams "purify the earth's atmosphere, uplift the community, and contribute to the individual."

An abhishekam is a ceremony of ablutions and symbolic offerings that include milk, honey, ghee and other items. The ablutions symbolize spiritual purification, and each of the offerings represent fulfilment on every level. Throughout the abhishekam, specific mantras are chanted to invoke blessings that uplift, protect and spiritually benefit us.


I'll admit this: I'm a glutton for homas, pujas, and Tibetan rituals and I will seek out blessings from any saint or rinpoche, as often as possible. I have plenty of time for mundane activities: working, shopping, reading newspapers, watching TV, but how often can I spend time with a great saint?

But homas are not merely a spectator sport, although simply witnessing one is good karma. During a homa I concentrate on chanting mantras and quietly mumbling prayers. Amma's devotees inform us that the benefits of chanting mantras during a homa are multiplied thousands of times. Therefore, I try to maximize the time spent at a homa.

Now, my faith in homas and Amma's teachings are based on my perception that Amma is a great mahatma (great soul). Thousands of people who have spent time with her also share my convictions. Rather than be endlessly - or needlessly - critical of Sri Karunamayi, I've chosen to observe her kindness in action and I found that she walks the talk: her teachings are who she truly is.

Humanity is spread along a spectrum of knowledge, wisdom and awareness. Self-knowledge, divine awareness, utter humility and unconditional love elevate the mahatmas above ordinary people. Mindfulness, pity, guilt, and repentance elevate ordinary people above the demonic.

Ordinary people perform actions from a sense of duty and expectation of some return. But the mahatmas perform actions with total freedom. There is no good or bad associated with any action; action performed without any expectation or self-gratification is the key to freedom. This is also action from a true experience of freedom and total awareness.

I often wonder how many lifetimes I've spent visiting the great mahatmas and rinpoches. Who knows how many lives these great souls have influenced? Who knows how diminished our sordid planet would be without their presence? - by Scott Palczak


Paramahansa Yogananda wrote in his "Autobiography of a Yogi": "India, materially poor for the last two centuries, yet has an inexhaustible fund of divine wealth; spiritual 'skyscrapers' may occasionally be encountered by the wayside."

"Solitude is necessary to become established in the Self, but masters then return to the world to serve it. Even saints who engage in no outward work bestow, through their thoughts and vibrations, more precious benefits on the world than can be given by the most strenuous humanitarian activities of unenlightened men. The great ones, each in his own way strive selflessly to inspire and uplift their fellows." - by Paramahansa Yogananda


Swami Muktananda stated: "The saints of all countries have revealed the same truth - that God is everywhere. They have become one with God. All they see is God, not individuals, sects, countries, parties, and cults - not even East or West. They experience the Truth in everyone and teach others to do the same. Everywhere they see equality. They have surmounted body-consciousness. They have risen beyond the man-made limitations of religious groups. Everything they do is for the benefit of all people."

"The Bhagavad Gita says one is one's own best friend and one's own worst enemy. Our own thoughts and desires are responsible for the ugliness around us or the heaven around us."

"The Guru has done his work if he has awakened your inner Shakti, but that does not mean there is no need for self-effort. Self-effort and the Guru's grace are like two wings of a bird: The bird needs both to fly."


Austerities in the Sacred Penusila Forest

As she grew into a young woman, Amma felt an inner urge to begin spending more and more time in the family worship room, immersed in prayer and meditation. As she was now a first-year college student, she was forced to make time for meditation by reducing the time she spent sleeping. As her meditations deepened and intensified, she also began reducing her intake of food. These meditation sessions grew in length until one day Amma locked herself inside a room of the house and remained there in meditation for a month.

Though her family members were perplexed, they did not dare to disturb her, having witnessed the profundity of her meditations before. When she finally emerged, she seemed like a different person to her family members. Though she still showed the same sweet affection to which they were accustomed, her demeanor now expressed a more impersonal, universal love. Determined to fulfill the sacred purpose of her life, Amma gently told her mother that it was time for her to go into seclusion in the sacred Penusila Forest, to meditate there in solitude. Always respectful of her daughter’s divine nature, and trusting completely in God, Amma’s mother did not try to stop her from going.

In the year 1980, at the tender age of 21, Amma left the comfort and security of her parents’ home and traveled by foot to the remote and sacred Penusila Forest, where a number of India’s ancient sages had meditated for many hundreds of years. There, she was free to live according to principles established by India’s ancient Vedic sages. Rising at 2:30 in the morning, Amma would bathe with cold water from a pure river. Wearing only a simple cotton sari, she would go to one of the forest’s many sacred groves and remain there, absorbed in meditation for hours, days, or even weeks at a time.

Local villagers who spotted her sometimes mistook her for a statue, as they could not even detect the movement of breath in her perfectly still form. Some of the more mischievous ones would toss small pebbles on her, just to see if she was really alive or just a corpse! Others, feeling that only an incarnation of the Divine Mother could sit for so long in deep meditation, would leave small offerings of fruit before her. Whether she emerged from her meditations to find stones or fruit in front of her, Amma always maintained a state of perfect equanimity and gave her blessings to all, regardless of how they treated her.

Amma never felt that these meditations were done for her own sake, as she was following the example of India’s ancient Vedic sages, who meditated for hundreds of years in order to discover the best teachings for all of mankind. Through Amma’s austerities, she determined which of the Vedic teachings and practices would be of greatest benefit to people living in this difficult modern age. After performing such intense tapasya for over 10 years, Amma decided that it was time to share her knowledge with all those who thirsted for true spirituality, wherever they may live in the world.


SRI KARUNAMAYI VIDEO: Sri Vara Lakshmi Vratam is a holy day sacred to Sri Maha Lakshmi Devi, who showers her abundant motherly love and precious spiritual boons on those who perform puja to her on this day.




THE TIBETAN BOOK of the DEAD (Bardo Thodol): Scott's Interpretation & Much More


Saturday, March 7, 2015


From Scientific American: "Neuroscience Reveals the Secrets of Meditation's Benefits"


Below is a link to an Esquire Magazine article about Matthieu Ricard, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who is an extraordinarily happy man. What's fascinating to me is that Mathieu Ricard is a beginner meditator compared to the great masters such as the Karmapa and Dalai Lama!




1.) 17th Karmapa chants the Medicine Buddha Mantra

2.) Kalu Rinpoche Chants Mantra to Benefit and Liberate

3.) Chenrezig Mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum

4.) Golden Light Sutra in Portland Oregon (Audio) by Kabje
Lama Zopa Rinpoche:

5.) Receive the Oral Transmission of The Sutra of Golden Light::

6.) Sanghata Sutra Commentary and Lung:

7.) Maitreya Relic Tour:

8.) Stainless Pinnacle Mantra Audio Transmission - by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

9.) Circumambulating Stupas Creates Unbelievable Merit

10.) Benefits of Circumambulating Stupas

11.) Great Prayer Wheel: Land of Medicine Buddha

12.) Lama Zopa Rinpoche: Advice for Helping Animals

13.) Lama Zopa Rinpoche: Avoid Killing Animals

14.) Lama Zopa Rinpoche: Advice on Helping Animals & Pets

15.) Lama Zopa Rinpoche: On Being Vegetarian & Why Great Masters Eat meat

16.) Excerpts from the Book "The Lawudo Lama"

17.) Dr. & Master Sha: How Chanting Works


Land of Medicine Buddha:

Great Stupa of Dharmakaya:

Amitabha Stupa:

Kunzang Palyul Choling Stupa:

Maitreya Relic Tour:

Garchen Institute:

Karma Triyana Dharmachakra:


1.) Gayatri Mantra:

2.) Sri Karunamayi Chants the Mrutyunjaya Mantra

3.) Hare Krishna Maha Mantra:

4.) Ati Sri Rudram:

5.) Hari Om Tat Sat

6.) Om Namo Narayanaya:
Significance & Glory of Saligramas - by Sri Karunamayi


The 16th Karmapa performs the Black Crown Ceremony to active people's innate
enlightenment. It is said that everyone who attends a Black Crown Ceremony
will eventually attain enlightenment.

This Web page has much in common with the Deep Ecology philosophy.

Vegetarian, Feminist Tibetan Monk taking the US Ivy Leagues by Storm:

An interesting movie about Garchen Rinpoche who founded a retreat center in Chino Valley, Arizona. It is difficult not to be impressed with Garchen Rinpoche.


Vegetarian, Feminist Tibetan Monk taking the US Ivy Leagues by Storm:

Should Buddhist Practitioners Eat Meat? : Spring Teachings Day 6, 27th February – Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath

Day 6 Report

On the sixth day of his Spring Teachings the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, cut straight to the core of an issue that is vital not only for the sustainability of our contemporary world, but also within our individual lives as Buddhist practitioners. Exploring the topic from many different angles, the Gyalwang Karmapa discussed his views on whether Buddhist practitioners should eat meat or not, and if so, when and how it may be acceptable to do so.

“A few years ago at one of the Kagyu Monlams I spoke about the topic of vegetarianism, giving up eating meat. You could say it was an announcement, but it was really like making a suggestion. Since then many years have passed, and over the years I’ve heard people say various things. Some people have even said, ‘Oh, Ogyen Trinley Dorje says that if you don’t give up eating meat then you’re not a Kagyupa.’ Now, it actually wasn’t me who said that. It was the 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje who said that. So it wasn’t my idea, and it’s not like I said you better give up meat or else you’re not a Kagyupa.”

In fact, there are different ways we can interpret the 8th Karmapa’s advice, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa continued. If we take a looser interpretation of Mikyo Dorje’s words, then by eating meat you can say that you’re not a truly pure Kagyu practitioner. “There are many great Kagyu masters who have eaten meat, so it is very difficult to merely say that eating meat means that you have faults. But eating meat is something that all of us who practice the dharma need to think about very carefully.”

The Gyalwang Karmapa, himself a pure vegetarian, then turned to his own life as an example. “When I spoke about this, I was primarily thinking about the way I lead my own life. I can’t really do anything about how other people lead their lives, but in terms of thinking about myself there are some reasons for this.” He then explained two key reasons that he personally does not eat meat. The first reason is the intense suffering that the animals who are killed go through. Every single day millions of animals are killed to feed us, and many are subjected to terrible conditions to provide us with food. Just a few days previously the Gyalwang Karmapa had shared a story of how, as a child in Tibet, when animals were killed for his family’s food he felt unbearable, pure compassion for them.

The second reason he doesn’t eat meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, is because of his Mahayana training in seeing all sentient beings as his mothers. “We say I am going to do everything I can to free sentient beings from suffering. We say I am going to do this. We make the commitment. We take the vow. Once we have taken this vow, if then, without thinking anything about it, we just go ahead and eat meat, then that is not okay. It is something that we need to think about very carefully.”

The Gyalwang Karmapa then acknowledged that there are some circumstances in which eating meat is allowed, or even necessary. He explained that within the Buddhist Vinaya, or rules for monks and nuns, eating meat is allowed mainly when one is ill, but only if three conditions are met: we must not have seen, heard, or thought that the animal was killed particularly for us to eat it. Meat is allowed when a person is sick, the Gyalwang Karmapa clarified, or for those people who need more nourishment and have great difficulty nourishing themselves without it.

“But when you eat meat in these situations you should not just eat it in an ordinary sort of way,” he continued. “You first need to meditate on compassion for one session—compassion for all sentient beings in general, but especially for this particular animal whose flesh is in front of you. Then you should recite the mantras of the Buddha’s name, as well as mantras that can help purify misdeeds. Only then should you start eating the meat.”

Yet his guidance did not stop there. Returning to the Mahayana training of seeing all sentient beings as mothers, the Gyalwang Karmapa explained further. “When you start eating the meat you have to think about it in a particular way. You should think of it as being the meat of your mother or your father or your child. You should think of eating it in that way, and so it’s when you think of it as being your mother’s or your child’s meat, then that is when you can eat it.”

We must also have a pure motivation when we eat the meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued. “We should not eat the meat in order to enjoy it, because it is delicious. We should not eat it because we want to enjoy the great flavor and savor what we are eating. Instead we should eat the meat only in order to keep ourselves alive.”

To avoid any misunderstanding, the Gyalwang Karmapa repeated the need for each individual to reflect deeply on the issue: “Now, I did not say that we need to immediately give up eating meat. I understand that it’s difficult to give up eating meat. But I did say that we need to think about it carefully. When we eat meat, if we are someone who has entered the path of the Mahayana, someone who has begun to think of all sentient beings as their father, their mother, or their child, in terms of someone who practices in this way it’s really something that we need to consider very carefully.”


April 22 is Earth Day, a time to reflect on our environmental sins. Earth Day traditionally conjures up ideas of saving rain forests, global warming, and saving endangered species. But what about factory farming and livestock pollution? Factory farms - which incarcerate tens of thousands of animals in a single facility - create 130 times more waste than humans, and now surpass factories as the premiere polluters of America's waterways.

The magnitude of the livestock industry is staggering. Each year the U.S. produces 7 BILLION chickens, 85 million pigs, 112 million cattle, nine million sheep and 300 million turkeys. The U.S. generates 1.4 BILLION TONS of animal manure every year. Cattle manure tops the list at 1.2 BILLION TONS. Where, you may ask, does this monstrous landslide of manure go? Ideally, it should be converted into fertilizer, but most of it is left untreated to poison streams, rivers, lakes and other waterways.

No vision of hell is complete without a corporate hog farm. Tens of thousands of gnawing, squealing pigs are crammed inside fetid, windowless warehouses where huge fans ceaselessly churn twenty-four hours a day. As "National Hog Farmer" magazine says, "overcrowding pays." Over 80 percent of pigs raised in the U.S. are intensively confined to the point where they can't even turn around without stepping over other animals. Satan himself could not have devised a more diabolically cruel place except for the slaughterhouses where these helpless creatures will be shackled, hoisted and killed. These places are insanely cruel and should be outlawed by any society claiming to be civilized.

Imagine that you or someone you cared about became ill and couldn't walk. Then, instead of being taken to a doctor or emergency room, you were taken to a slaughterhouse and had your throat cut.

John Robbins wrote in "Diet for a New America": "Before they reach their end, the pigs get a shower, a real one. Water sprays from every angle to wash the farm off them. Then they begin to feel crowded. The pen narrows like a funnel; the drivers urge the pigs forward, until one at a time they climb unto a moving ramp . . . Now they scream, never having been on such a ramp, smelling the smells they smell. I do not want to overdramatize because you have read all this before. But it was a frightening experience, seeing their fear, seeing so many of them go by. It had to remind me of things no one wants to be reminded of any more, all mobs, all death marches, all mass murders and extinctions."

Here's an excerpt from the book "Farm Sanctuary":

Almost as soon as we began to visit Lancaster stockyards, we would come across animals lying dead or injured in the alleyways or the holding pens. Those who were dead on arrival or who died soon after were picked up and moved to what was unsentimentally called the "dead pile."

The carcasses on the dead pile would stay there until the renderer came around. To the side of the pile near one side of the wall, we saw a sheep lying on her side. As we approached, something remarkable happened: the sheep lifted up her head and looked at us. I was stunned. Lori and I looked at each other in horror. Without exchanging a word we both knew that we couldn't let the animal stay where she was. Our first, overpowering thought was that somehow we had to get this sheep out of there.

We found a vet who came out to the van and started palpating the sheep's body. The sheep, who was about six months old, barely more than a lamb, started showing signs of life. - by Gene Baur from the book "Farm Sanctuary"

Huge industrial operations, headed by poultry tycoons such as Don Tyson and Frank Perdue, and hog czar Wendal Murphy, are causing an environmental blitzkreig. Their collosal factory farms are poisoning our groundwater and waterways with nitrogen and phosphorous. In North Carolina, 420,000 million tons of hog manure flooded a creek in July, 1999. California alone, has 1,600 dairies generating more waste than the entire human population of Texas. In the Lone Star State, 2 million cattle are kept in feedlots surrounding Amarillo, and the slaughterhouse kills a bovine every thirteen seconds.

A consortium of meat moguls led by Smithfield Foods of West Virginia have constructed a behemoth factory hog farm in northwest Utah,designed to produce 2.4 million hogs each year, with a waste output exceeding that of Los Angeles! Wastes generated, including nitrogen and phosphorous, are acutely toxic to fish and at lower levels phosphorous and nitrogen cause excessive algae growth. Algae overgrowth depletes oxygen, polluting rivers so badly they barely support fish or any aquatic life.

In the Colorado town where I once lived there was a "turkey plant" which, according to the local newspaper, used 850,000 gallons of water a day - 5,304,000 gallons a year. This windowless, depressing factory of death produced 3,017 tons of nitrogen a year and 1,000 tons of phosphorous. The plant killed 17,000 turkeys a day - 5,304,000 per year.

In America, 300 million turkeys are butchered in one year. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers estimates that, nationally, turkeys generate 33 BILLION pounds of waste annually. Included in this deluge of dung is 488 million tons of nitrogen and 186 million tons of phosphorous.

A report by the U.S. Department of Commerce states that 1/3 of all raw materials and half this country's water are guzzled by the livestock and factory farm industries. According to Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, if used to grow cattle feed, can produce less than 165 pounds of beef. John Robbins wrote in his book "Diet for a New America" that to produce a single pound of meat takes an average of 2,500 gallons of water - as much as a typical family uses for all its combined household purposes in a month.

Monumental animal suffering and environmental pollution are created for the almighty hamburger, hot dog, chicken wing, and of course, dollar. I believe that factory farms and the livestock industry cannot survive indefinitely by bleeding the ecosystems that support them. Our overburdened, polluted planet will eventually be depleated of quality grazing land and/or the price of meat will become prohibitive to all but the wealthy.

The evolution of factory farming is the natural consequence of our society's materialistic and objectifying attitude toward nature. We are riding high on the hog of arrogant consumption - with little regard for future generations. Americans are caught in a maddening, high-speed treadmill of overconsumption and self- destruction. In a society enamored with efficiency, productivity and profits, abysmal animal cruelty and environmental concerns are swept aside by a tidal wave of avarice, gluttony and apathy.

Factory farming is a rich man's luxury. It springs more from greed than necessity.

Contrary to the claims of animal scientists and agribusiness technocrats, factory farming cannot and will not feed the starving masses. Corporate animal factories consume vast amounts of resources and grains, and these grains could be fed directly to hungry people. Our hungry planet of over 6 billion people cannot be sustained by an inefficient, wasteful meat-based agriculture.

That insolent icon of American success - or should I say decadence - the hamburger, is fast becoming a symbol of global destruction and environmental degradation. Ancient, noble and majestic rainforests are being plundered, gutted and charred to create yet more grazing land. Vast areas of the Amazon rain forest resemble Iraqi towns after a U.S. invasion. About FIFTY PERCENT of the earth's land surface is being used to graze livestock. Millions of bovines are causing world-wide deforestation and desertification merely to satisfy overfed Americans and Europeans with cheeseburgers and steaks.

In the United states alone, ranchers can legally access 260 million acres of public lands, most of which have been ruined by over 120 years of grazing. Ranching has the distasteful distinction of ruining more wildlife habitat and native vegetation than any other land use. It seems that wherever animals are abused - whether it be for sport or profit - nature is abused.

Here's a quote from the book "Waste of the West," written by Lynn Jacobs: "The ranching establishment's assault on the environment, therefore, includes campaigns against a huge number and variety of animals. Most of the score or so native large mammal species in the West have been decimated by ranching, both intentionally through slaughtering efforts and indirectly through the harmful effects of livestock grazing and ranching developments. Indeed, most larger and a great many smaller animal species are in some way assailed as enemies. The mass carnage carried outfor the sake of privately owned livestock continues today throughout the grazed 70% of the West, including public lands . . ."

Ranchers live in a world of self-imposed violence against animals. American ranchers continually shoot, trap, poison and persecute the following wild animals: coyotes, prairie dogs, mountain lions, bobcats, golden eagles, bighorn sheep, bison, wild horses, burros, jackrabbits and even ravens. Most are killed simply for sport. And don't forget roping, dragging, branding and castrating helpless calves. It appears that animal cruelty is a preferred lifestyle for some people.

We've all heard the tired stories about coyotes killing livestock and prairie dogs invading ranches and how they must be "controlled." Every animal killer has used similar, worn-out rationales, resulting in untold misery for countless animals.

Ranchers and hunters underestimate the intelligence of people who are not animal killers. We know that ranchers and hunters kill animals for fun, and they have disdain for animals they consider "vermin" which include prairie dogs, and they also hate "varmints" which include coyotes. I have also read that hunters and ranchers can and will shoot stray dogs and cats, which contradicts any fanciful notion of hunters respecting animals.

Many people, including myself, would sell the family ranch instead of killing innocent animals who have as much right to live as I do. Or, better yet, we'd choose not to live on a ranch in the first place. Perhaps we'd build a fence, but we definitely would NOT shoot animals!

Animal cruelty exists for two main reasons: It is profitable or it is considered fun. Huge sums of money are being made from exploiting livestock, research animals, and wild animals. It is no great surprise to learn that humans can be viciously sadistic toward not only animals but people as well. Where this aggression originates in the homo sapien psyche is anyone's guess, but it is a fact of life. It is also a fact of life that humans can show kindness toward animals, and that is a much loftier goal. Anyone, even a child, or a fool can abuse a weaker, more powerless being.

Sigmund Freud believed that humans get their violent tendencies from the unconscious mind. In this view there is a dark realm inside everyone, what Carl Jung called the shadow. In this realm lie atavistic impulses of rage and fear.

Human beings can live very well on a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is public demand - not necessity - for meat, dairy and eggs that allows these atrocities against animals to continue. The smallest dietary self-sacrifice is too much for most Americans. For that, we can thank the American lifestyle of overconsumption and the ceaseless garbage fare advertised on television. The self-imposed standard American diet is a slow killer and crippler. Millions of people suffer needlessly from serious, degenerative diseases brought on by indulging in meat, dairy, fried eggs and other nonessential foods.

Eating liberally of meat and dairy products has consequences. The exorbitant cost of health care in America is largely related to the high-fat, artery-clogging, cancer-causing diet enjoyed by the masses. Many studies have shown that vegetarians have much less (50% less) cancer than nonvegetarians. They also have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. In his book "Eat to Live," Joel Fuhrman explains: "Remember, long-term vegans almost never get heart attacks." To quote a respected authority, William Castelli, M.D., director of the famed Framingham Heart Study: "We tend to scoff at vegetarians, but they're doing much better than we are. Vegans have cholesterol levels so low, they almost never get heart attacks."

Despotic agribusiness and their government cohorts have rationalized and denied for too long the animal welfare, consumer health, and environmental damage done in the name of profit. It is truly amazing how remorseless corporations have become. There is an indefatigable madness and technocratic insolence - a nose-thumbing at nature and animals - that factory farming displays. It is born out of avarice and gluttony far more than necessity: It is a remorseless blight on the land and I want nothing to do with it.

I could write endlessly about the cruelty and depravity of homo sapiens, and I have tried hard not to belabor the issue, as tempting as it may be. Each individual plays his or her role in the world, and every one of our thoughts, actions, and reactions affect our environment. Virtually all animal exploitation is unnecessary. Not a single factory farm, slaughterhouse, hunting season, rodeo, puppy mill, or fur coat do we need.

More and more I read about carnivores who want to "feel good" about where their meat comes from. The usual writer's cliché is that people who slaughter animals "know where their meat comes from," as if slaughtering your own meat is some lofty virtue.

The vegan ideology has huge merit: it does not require the horrible cruelty of slaughtering animals, or destroying rainforests to raise yet more cattle, or dumping vast amounts of toxic waste into the water supply.

In my opinion, people who raise and slaughter animals for food have a huge conscience deficit. No matter how humanely an animal is raised, they will not be painlessly euthanized. These sentient beings will be killed using a cost - effective method.

And pork is not a health food. You can eat fruits and veggies all day long and only get healthier, but try eating pork all day long and see what happens. People have reversed heart disease and cancer using strict vegan diets. Try doing that with pork. Newspapers and magazine writers want to feel good about where their meat comes from, when they should feel good about not supporting the meat industry.

Dr. Steven Best said it best: "The problem is the human species itself, which but for rare exceptions is destructive, and imperialistic. Universally, humans have vested interests in exploiting animals and think they have a God-given right to do so. To change these attitudes is to change the very nerve center of human consciousness. That is our task – no more and no less."

A philosopher once remarked that human history is a tale of barbarism. Isaac Asimov wrote: "To insult someone we call him 'bestial.' For deliberate cruelty, 'human' might be the greater insult." In his book "Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic," Osho stated: "The whole past history of humanity has been sick, unhealthy, insane. In three thousand years, five thousand wars have been fought. This is just utterly mad, it is unbelievable." Equally mad, equally unbelievable is humanity's treatment of the animal world. 

by Scott Palczak


2.) PETA UK VIDEO: Dead Piglets Left to Rot on British Pig Factory Farms



5.) FACTORY FARMING: HELL on EARTH - by Mercy for Animals

6.) PAUL McCARTNEY - If Slaughterhouses had Walls

7.) AFTER 30,000 COWS FREEZE to DEATH, PETA Calls for Animal - Free Agriculture Subsidies

8.) HOWARD LYMAN'S WEBSITE: The Former Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat



11.) THE KIND LIFE: Alicia Silverstone's Website

THE KIND DIET - by Alicia Silverstone

Page 25) Factory farming creates toxic sludge: The meat industry has a nasty reputation for not containing its waste very well. Not only does the poo, fertilizers, and other toxic sludge get into the soil, it can leach into nearby rivers and water tables. We have strict laws about the disposal of human waste but none for the animal equivalent, and according to Worldwatch Institute, U.S. livestock produces 130 times more fecal matter than people do! In fact, one farm in Utah with 500,000 pigs produces more fecal matter than the 1.5 million inhabitants of Manhattan.

All this toxic poo is doing real damage: With so many farms along the banks of the Mississippi, agricultural waste is leaching into the river at an alarming rate. There is so much excess nitrogen from fertilizer and excrement, in fact, that it has created what's called "the Dead Zone" at the mouth of the river, in the Gulf of Mexico. This dead zone, which has no oxygen and therefore cannot sustain any life, was almost 8,000 square miles in size in 2008. Whoa. Next time you tuck into a juicy steak, know that it is responsible for 17 times more water pollution than a bowl of noodles.

Page 27) We're destroying the rainforest: It's one thing to damage our own country, but our lust for cheap burgers is creating so much demand for beef that the South and Central American cattle industries are clearing rain forest to make room for more cattle pasture. In fact, cattle grazing is the number one factor in the destruction of the rain forest, and we're losing 2.4 acres of it per second. That's 144 acres per minute. Seventy - five million acres per year! Rain forests used to cover 14 percent of the earth, but now it covers only 6 percent. You see, every hamburger requires a plot of land the size of a small kitchen to be cleared. Is that burger worth it?

Page 26) The meat industry is oil - hungry: It takes more than 11 times the energy to create animal protein than grain protein. When you take into account the fuel used for planting, watering, and harvesting of the grain a cow eats, its transportation, the energy used by factory farms, transportation of the cows to slaughter, and then the distribution of the meat to you . . that Big Mac looks more like it's made of fossil fuel than beef. Because the average American eats 97 pounds of beef a year, our national burger - lust requires the energy equivalent of a mere 29 BILLION GALLONS of GAS!

Page 26) Cows are cute, but they're wrecking America: The meat industry is clearly siphoning off a disproportionate share of precious resources like fuel and water, but the grazing of cattle is wreaking havoc on the land itself. Cows and other livestock are wandering around on approximately 160 million acres of federally - owned land leased to farmers. And their innocent grazing isn't so innocent. More than half the topsoil of the American West has been lost since cattle started grazing 140 years ago. According to "Mad Cowboy" by Howard Lyman, it takes nature from 100 to 800 years to create a single inch of topsoil, and since the birth of this country, we've lost 6 full inches. That might just sound like a bunch of dirt disappearing, but topsoil is the incubator of life itself. Without it, no plants can grow, and without plants, all animals die. By allowing millions of cows to stomp on, poo on, and kick up precious topsoil, we are shooting ourselves in the collective hoof. When enough soil is dried or displaced, a negative spiral begins that causes rich, fertile soil to become desert. And there's no recovery from that anywhere in the near future. Desertification from overgrazing is a global problem.

Page 25) Animals eat a lot of food: Did you know that more than 50 percent of the corn grown in the United States is eaten by animals. Roughly 8 percent of corn grown is for human food use. Sixty million acres of the United States are devoted to growing hay primarily for livestock, while we use only 13 million acres to grow fruits and vegetables. While 1.2 billion people do not have enough to eat every day, we're bending over backward to make sure the 20 billion cows, pigs, and chickens are getting fatter and fatter by the minute.

Meat wastes water: Forty - two percent of the fresh water available to us in the United States is used for agriculture. Some is used to grow grain for us, some for growing grain for animals, and some for hydrating and washing the animals. It takes 441 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, and that's according to what the Cattleman's Association says. Dr. Georg Borgstrom, who chairs the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University, thinks it's more like 2,500 gallons. That's not 2,500 gallons per cow - it's per pound of beef. By comparison, it takes only 33 gallons of water to grow a pound of carrots. One 16 - ounce steak uses the amount of water you need for 6 months of showers! Holy cow!

Page 28) Killing is a big deal: We tend to hide from this fact, but let's open our minds to it for just a moment. That was a life. Now it's dead. And it's in your body. Ever seen someone make the transition to death? It's a big deal - especially when there's suffering involved. Just for a moment, stop thinking of it as a delicious treat. Go beyond the sensory pleasure of your taste buds and consider for a moment what you're really doing when you eat meat. Could you eat your dog? Your cat? Why not? It's just like an animal like a cow or pig. What's the difference between your pet animal and the animal you had for dinner last night? If your answer is "I don't know," please meditate on that question for a while before eating meat again.

If you can tell me you honestly believe there is a difference, then you've probably never hung out with a cow. I encourage you to go to an animal sanctuary and hang around with a few. They will love it, and so will you. Roll with the pigs. Tell me that they don't love living and that they don't feel pain. Every single creature wants to live fully. That's what God designed us to do. That's our purpose. Who are we to take that away unless we have to? And these days, where's the "have to"?

Page 29) Meat production is downright cruel: And by the end they know what's coming. Don't kid yourself. They can smell the blood. They can sense the fear. They can hear the animals moaning. Wouldn't you understand, in their position? Denial would have us equate slaughter with having a pet "put down" at the vet. But that's just a comfortable delusion.


90,000 U.S cows and calves slaughtered every day.

14,000 chickens are killed in this country every minute.

Over 300 million baby chicks are killed in this country per year - more than one for every person in this country.


Although the Federal Human Slaughter Act is supposed to keep certain practices in place, the law is rarely enforced. In 2000, a video was leaked out of workers at an Iowa Beef Processors (now Tyson Foods) plant in Washington State. Cows were routinely "stunned" by devices that didn't work, left to experience their painful ends with sensitivity and consciousness intact. The video showed cows being skinned alive, kicking for freedom as their legs were cut off. Employees who were willing to talk estimate that 30 percent of the animals on the kill line were not properly stunned.

Also in 2000, a video showed footage of pigs at a North Carolina hog factory being kicked, stomped on, and killed by blows to the head with cinder blocks. Pigs who did not measure up to industry standards for sale were picked up by the hind legs and bashed against the floor, a practice called "thumping."

I know these stories are hard to read, but it's the reality of what goes into the food on your plate. The greatest crime being committed against these animals is not the eating of their meat, but our willful ignorance of their experience. As long as we keep our eyes closed, we can we feel comfortable, and as long as we're comfortable, they will continue to suffer and die.

It's easy to get angry at the cattle ranchers and the big business that keeps meat rolling into our stores and restaurants, but I have to remember that they are just responding to market demands. If we stop the flow of money to these industries by converting to a plant - based diet, they will eventually have to convert their land and processing facilities into newer, more profitable ventures. Livelihoods need not be lost - they will just change. Likewise, as we spend our dollars on sustainable, ethical industries, we create a better world. It' simple.

When asked, the majority of Americans consider themselves animal lovers and are genuinely interested in treating animals humanely, yet we spend our hard - earned cash to support cruelty every day. We grill up the barbecue, add some ketchup, wash it down with a beer, and then take an antacid to digest it all! Weird. Meanwhile the industries doing the killing - while creating images of happy cows and free - running chickens to assuage our guilt - are working overtime to push through legislation that permits them to be even more cruel and make more money.

Page 42) The dairy industry is, in a word, cruel: That is why I gave up dairy in the first place. You see, cows don't produce milk all the time. I thought that, by milking them, we were basically doing them a favor. I assumed they would sort of . . . explode if they weren't milked! Well, they don't. Just like humans they only produce milk when they give birth to a baby. So in order to have careers in lactation, cows are kept pregnant almost constantly.

Once she gives birth, her calf is taken away from her; baby boys become veal and girls become milkers. The separation anxiety she feels is as real to her as it would be to us. Cows have been known to escape their farms and go searching for their offspring. A farmer in England found one of his dairy cows a full 17 miles from home, suckling her biological calf.

But if we're taking the cow's milk for our use, what does the baby get? Well, for 6 months the baby boy calves are chained to little veal crates, not allowed to stand up, fed synthetic formula, and then slaughtered. And that is how we get veal. So if you use any cow dairy products, you are helping to perpetuate the veal industry.

After baby is gone, mom cow is shot up with hormones to make her produce 10 to 20 times more milk than she would need to suckle her calf. This puts tremendous strain on her udders - think of a woman with painful GGG implants hanging to her knees - often causing a horrible infection called mastitis, which makes her udders pus - ridden and bloody. To treat the mastitis, they have to give her antibiotics.

Finally she gets milked - and not by some nice pair of hands gently caressing her udders, but by a machine that is so rough it causes blood and pus from the mastitis to go into the milk!

After 2 to 7 years of this (normal cows should live 20 to 25 years, but dairy cows are burned out by this torture), our cow girlfriend doesn't get to retire and live on a farm - no, no, no. She is considered a machine that has outlived its warranty, so she is sent to slaughter. Her life is miserable and painful from day one until the very end.

- from "The Kind Diet " - by Alicia Silverstone

ANIMAL RIGHTS: Current Debates and New Directions
- by Cass R. Sunstein & Martha C. Nussbaum

Page 206) It is almost impossible to imagine the number of farmed animals. Approximately 9.5 Billion animals die annually in food production in the United States. This compares with some 218 million killed by hunters and trappers and in animal shelters, biomedical research, product testing, dissection, and fur farms combined. Approximately 23 million chickens and some 268,000 pigs are slaughtered every 24 hours in the United States. That's 266 chickens per second, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.

Certainly, making this many animals disappear from the law is an enormous task. It has been accomplished, in significant part, through the efforts of the industry that owns these animals to obtain complete control, in one way or another, over the law that governs it. While this is not an unusual effort on the part of industry generally, the farmed - animal industry's efforts have been exceptionally successful. The industry has devised a legally unique way to accomplish its purpose: It has persuaded legislatures to amend criminal statutes that purport to protect farmed animals from cruelty so that it cannot be prosecuted for any farming practice that the industry itself determines is acceptable, with no limit whatsoever on the pain caused by such practices. As a result, in most of the United States, prosecutors, judges, and juries no longer have the power to determine whether or not farmed animals are treated in an acceptable manner. The industry alone defines the criminality of its own conduct.


In the case of farmed animals, federal law is essentially irrelevant. The Animal Welfare Act, which is the primary piece of federal legislation relating to animal protection and which sets certain basic standards for their care, simply exempts farmed animals, thereby making something of a mockery of its title.

As a result, the Humane Slaughter Act is the primary federal legislation affecting farm animals. It requires that livestock slaughter "be carried out only by humane methods" to prevent "needless suffering." Astoundingly, regulations promulgated pursuant to the statute exempt poultry, the result of which is that over 95 percent of all farmed (approximately 8.5 billion slaughtered per year) have no federal legal protection form inhumane slaughter.

Even given its limited applicability, the Humane Slaughter Act would constitute a significant imposition on industry except for the fact that there are no fines available for violation of the statute and significant penalties never imposed. There can be little doubt that the act is not being effectively enforced.

As Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) recently stated on the floor of the Senate:

"The law clearly requires that these poor creatures be stunned and rendered insensitive to pain before this process (i.e,, by which they are cut, skinned and scalded) begins. Federal law is being ignored. Animal cruelty abounds. It is sickening. It is infuriating. Barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be tolerated even if these animals are being raised for food - and even more so, more so."

Page 208)
In 2002, Congress determined that the lack of enforcement was so problematic that it passed a resolution entitled Enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, whereby it stated that "it is the sense of the Congress that the Secretary of Agriculture should fully enforce (the act)" and that "it is the policy of the United States that the slaughtering of livestock and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter shall be carried out only by humane methods, as provided in the act."

This may be one of the few occasions where Congress has felt the need to, in effect, reenact an existing statute, though it did not increase the likelihood of compliance by requiring fines or other significant penalties for violations. The whole affair brings to mind Robin Williams's comment on the ability of the British police to impact criminal behavior without carrying guns: "Stop! Or I'll say 'Stop' again!"

- from "Animal Rights - Current Debates and New Directions"


Page 236) What We Know

Water required to produce 1 pound of U.S. beef, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association: 441 gallons

Water required to produce 1 pound of U.S. beef, according to DR. Georg Borgstrom, chairman of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University: 2,500 gallons

Water required to produce 1 pound of California beef, according to the Water Education Foundation: 2,464 gallons

Water required to produce 1 pound of California foods, according to Soil and Water specialists, University of California Agricultural Extension, working with livestock farm advisors

1 pound of lettuce: 23 gallons
1 pound of tomatoes: 23 gallons
1 pound of potatoes: 24 gallons
1 pound of wheat 25 gallons
1 pound of carrots: 33 gallons
1 pound of apples: 49 gallons
1 pound of chicken 815 gallons
1 pound of pork: 1,630 gallons
1 pound of beef: 5,214 gallons

Page 237)

Using the figures of the Soil and Water specialists at the University of California Agricultural Extension is even more dramatic. By their analysis, you'd save more water by not eating a pound of California beef than you would by not showering for an entire year.

" In California, the single biggest consumer of water is not Los Angeles. It's not the oil and chemicals or defense industries. Nor is it the fields of grapes and tomatoes. It's irrigated pasture: grass grown in a near - desert climate for cows . . . The West's water crisis - and many of its environmental problems as well - can be summed up, implausible as this may seem, in a single word: livestock." (Marc Reisner, author, Cadillac Desert)

Meat produced in different parts of the country require different amounts of water. Meat produced in the Southeast takes much less water than meat produced in other regions; you don't need to irrigate nearly as much thanks to more rain during the growing season in the Southeast. Arizona and Colorado meat, on the other hand, take even more water than California.

Page 240) The Other End of the Cow, Pig, and Chicken

There are more chickens processed annually in the United States than there are people in the world - 7.6 billions chickens versus 6 billion humans. There are more turkeys in the United States than there are Homo Sapiens - over 300 million of the big birds. Plus there are now about 100 million hogs and 60 million beef cattle in the United Sates. What do you think happens to the excrement from so many animals?

Properly handled, manure is not waste but a natural, biodegradable fertilizer. In years past, most of the manure from livestock returned to enrich the soil. But today, when huge numbers of animals are concentrated in feedlots and confinement buildings, there is no economically feasible way to return the animals' wastes to the land. As a result, our agriculture is experiencing an increasing dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Deprived of manure and continually doused with chemicals, our nation's soils are losing their texture and ability to retain topsoil. Topsoil is the rich soil layer without which food production becomes seriously endangered. The amount of topsoil we are losing from Iowa alone would fill 165,000 Mississippi River barges a year. Losing topsoil, notes WorldWatch Institute's Ed Ayres, "has about the same effect on a terrestrial community as losing blood has on a person. Only so much can be lost."

Unfortunately, instead of being returned to the soil and helping to rebuild topsoil, the wastes from today's livestock often end up in our water.

"Mass production of meat has become a staggering source of pollution. Maybe cow pies were once a pastoral joke, but in recent years livestock waste has been implicated in massive fish kills and outbreaks of such diseases as pfiesteria, which causes memory loss, confusion and acute skin burning in people exposed to contaminated water. In the United States, livestock now produces 130 times as much waste as people do . . . These mega - farms are proliferating, and in populous areas their waste is tainting drinking water." (Time Magazine, 1999)

In 1997, the Senate Agricultural Committee issued a lengthy report on livestock waste in this country. In a synopsis of the report, the Scripps Howard news service wrote:

"Untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and disease - bearing organisms . . . (livestock waste) goes into the soil and into the water that many people will, ultimately,
bathe in and wash their clothes with and drink. It's poisoning rivers and killing fish and sickening people . . . Catastrophic cases of pollution, sickness, and death are occurring in areas where livestock operations are concentrated . . . Every place where the animal factories have located, neighbors have complained of falling sick."

Page 212) Animals Not Dead Before Being Skinned

Most people believe that the law requires animals to be dead before they are cut into pieces, but this is not the case. According to the Humane Slaughter Act, animals who are not covered by the Act must be "insensible to pain" before being chained and cut up. This, in theory, is accomplished through use of an electric shock, called "stunning." The Humane Farming Association tapes showed, however, that often the stunning was not successful.

How often? In one signed affidavit, a slaughterhouse employee said, "I estimate that 30 percent of the cows are not properly knocked (stunned with the electric prod) . . . I can tell that these cows are alive because they're holding their heads up and a lot of times they make noise."

He was one of the seventeen IBP plant employees who risked their jobs and their families' security by signing affidavits reporting cruel conditions at the plant. One stated, "Cows can get 10 minutes down the line and still be alive. All the hide is stripped out down to the neck (by then)." Another added, "Workers can open the legs, the stomach, the neck, cut off the feet while the cow is still breathing . . I would estimate that one out of 10 cows is still alive when it's bled and skinned."

"I've seen thousands and thousands of cows go through the slaughter process alive," said one plant worker. "If I see a live animal," said another, "I cannot stop the line. Because the supervisor has told us that you have to work on (cut up) a cow that's still alive."

Page 190) The Golden Egg

When I asked one poultry producer whether he was worried about the increasing public concern for farm animal welfare, he told me, "They're just stupid birds."

This attitude underlies the way chickens are treated in the poultry industry today. "They're just stupid birds," so there's no limit to how cruelly you can treat them. People with a little more sensitivity, however, look at it differently.

Bernard Rollin, the Colorado State University expert on animal farming notes that,
"Contrary to what one may hear from the industry, chickens are not mindless, simple automata but are complex behaviorally, do quite well in learning, show a rich social organization, and have a diverse repertoire of calls.

Anyone who has kept barnyard chickens also recognizes their significant differences in personality . . . There are vivid and classic bucolic images of chickens pecking contentedly in a barnyard . . . Conversely, few images in agriculture are more grating to common sense than chickens squeezed into small cages."

In Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Switzerland, however, it became illegal in the 1990s to keep chickens in cages. In the United States, sadly, the practice is not only still legal, but standard.

Page 191) When chickens are crowded together this tightly, their innate sense of a pecking order is obliterated. As a result, they become violent and sometimes peck each other to death. The industry responds with a procedure commonly called "debeaking." The procedure consists of routinely cutting off 1/3 of each bird's beak so that they won't kill each other in their frustration at being crammed into tiny cages with no possible outlet for their innate drives and instincts.

Although McDonald's implied in 2000 that the company was banning debeaking, this was not the case. The company was actually only calling for the debeaking to be done more carefully, so that the hens could still be able to eat. If implemented this would be an improvement, because the procedure often leaves the birds so mutilated that they cannot eat properly. Some starve to death because they cannot eat at all.

But McDonald's proposed changes still did not reduce the conditions that drive the chickens so mad that they attack each other in the first place. The industry is happy with what they euphemistically calls "beak trimming" because it renders the birds incapable of doing much harm to company property - in this case, the other birds.

More than 90 percent of the hens who lay the eggs in the United States are debeaked and kept in cages where the excrement from the birds in the upper tiers collects above them, often falling onto their heads.

When egg production declines, the hens are often subjected to a process called "forced molting," in which they are starved and denied water. This shocks the hens into losing their feathers. Those that survive start a new egg laying cycle.

From the book "THE FOOD REVOLUTION: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World" - by John Robbins

SIX ARGUMENTS for A GREENER DIET - by Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D

Page 73) Better Soil

Producing food animals, and the grains and soybeans that speed their growth, takes a tremendous toll on farmland - particularly its precious topsoil. Growing crops for animal feed frequently erodes the soil, as does overgrazing of grasses by livestock. Further, cattle's constant trampling of vulnerable rangeland can almost irreparably damage the environment. The immense quantities of fertilizers - including old - fashioned manure, urban processed sewage sludge, and conventional chemicals - and pesticides used to grow feed grains contain nutrients and toxins that disrupt the soil ecosystem, poison wildlife, and pollute local and far - off waterways.

Agriculture has an enormous impact on soil and soil quality: Grazing land and cropland are the second - and third - largest uses of land in the United States (forests are the largest), together accounting for just under half of America's total acreage. In contrast, urbanization affects only about 3 to 5 percent of the U.S. land area.

Page 74) Importance of Good Topsoil

Soil, along with water and sunlight, is one of the three fundamental elements of crop production. A thick layer of topsoil, rich in such nutrients as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, absorbs and holds rainwater well and provides the best environment for growing crops.

But topsoil can be lost, leached away by water or blown away by wind. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that almost 2 billion tons of topsoil eroded from cropland in 2001. That's a huge amount, but represents a 40 percent decline since 1982. The main cause of erosion is the lack of plants that hold the soil in place. Native meadow grasses, hay, and small grains such as wheat help protect topsoil by providing a solid cover over a field. Many large farms, however, plant livestock feed crops, such as corn and soybeans, that are grown in rows and endanger topsoil since the bare patches between each row are relatively susceptible to erosion. The loss of topsoil reduces fertility, which increases the need for chemical fertilizers. And the switch from healthy natural topsoil to artificial nutrients leads to a whole host of problems - nutrient imbalances, runoff, and water pollution - detailed later in this chapter.

Page 75) Livestock's Demand on Soil

Feeding grain to livestock and then eating the livestock (or their eggs or milk) needs a lot more land than just eating the grains themselves. Raising livestock creates a huge demand for corn, soybeans, and a few other crops. About 66 percent of U.S. grain ends up as livestock feed at home or abroad. While pigs and chickens consume a good share of that grain, cattle at feedlots are the biggest consumers, in part because they are the least efficient converters of grain to meat. Outside the United States, livestock consume only 21 percent of total grain production, with the vast majority of grains consumed directly by people. But as nations' incomes rise, so does their appetite for pork, chicken, and grain - fed beef.

Frequently, farmers respond to the huge demand for feed grains by turning to monocropping - raising single crops over huge areas - or they use limited rotations, where two crops destined for livestock feed are raised in alternating years. About 16 percent of corn - over 12 million acres - is raised without any rotation at all, though the majority of corn - 59 percent - is rotated with soybeans. Meadow grasses and small grains (such as wheat), both vital to the preservation of topsoil, are included in only 8 percent of corn rotations, according to the USDA.

Page 80) Effects of What We're Putting on the Soil

Loss of topsoil decreases productivity, so to compensate for that farmers add soil nutrients. That means applying fertilizer - and lots of it - in the form of chemicals, manure, or treated sewage sludge.

Chemical Fertilizers

Fertilizer causes environmental problems primarily because farmers often apply too much to their land. Because about half of all fertilizer applied in the United Sates is used solely for raising feed grains for animals, reducing that usage could reduce environmental degradation.

Even when not over - applied, nitrogen fertilizer causes serious environmental problems. That fertilizer is usually applied as ammonium nitrate, which can react with oxygen in the air and release ammonia. Ammonia can damage local ecosystems, including the plant life on the fertilized land. When carried by wind and rain, the ammonia may be deposited in waterways and affect distant ecosystems. When the oxygen content of soil is low, nitrogen fertilizer undergoes a process called denitrificatiion, which yields a variety of nitrogen - containing gases, including nitrogen gas, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (which are together known as NOx, since, in the presence of sunlight, they rapidly interconvert), and nitrous oxide.

The harmless nitrogen gas simply returns to the atmosphere. However, NOx destroys ozone, impairs lung function, and contributes to fog and acid rain. It travels even farther from its source than ammonia. Nitrous oxide is a destructive greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Agriculture contributes about 37 percent of all nitrous oxide releases in the United States, with much of that coming from fertilizer.

Besides polluting the air, fertilizers also increase the acidity of the soil. That reduces the soil's ability to hold nutrients and can permanently reduce soil productivity. Acidification ordinarily is controlled by applying even more chemicals, such as lime (calcium carbonate).

Page 90) Irrigation Water: Trillions of Gallons Wasted

American farmers irrigate about 56 million acres of land, or 88,000 square miles. Some 23 million of those acres - an area the size of Indiana - are devoted to crops destined to feed livestock.

The most frequently irrigated crops are corn (some is also used to produce ethanol fuel) and hay, with another 4 to 5 million acres each being planted in soybeans; sorghum, barley, and wheat; and cotton (cottonseed meal is used as livestock feed). In stark contrast, vegetables, vineyards, and fruits and nut tree orchards together occupy only 7 million acres of irrigated land.

The amount of water devoted to irrigating alfalfa and other hay - 7 trillion gallons annually - exceeds the irrigation needs of all vegetables, berries, and fruit orchards combined.

Of the roughly 28 trillion gallons of water used for irrigation each year, about 14 trillion gallons are applied to the grains, oilseeds, pasture, and hay that are fed to livestock in the United States, and an additional 3 trillion gallons are used to produce grains for food or export.

Irrigation Methods Are Often Inefficient
Efficient irrigation methods could help preserve scarce water supplies, but about half of the irrigated acres in the United States use wasteful systems. The least efficient ones either run water down furrows (trenches) or simply flood fields. Roughly 45 percent of irrigated acres rely on more efficient systems, such as center - pivot sprinkler irrigation (creating those large circles that can be seen when flying over Nebraska and other Great Plains states).

But only 4 percent use highly efficient low - flow systems, such as drip irrigation. Though more expensive than flooding systems, drip irrigation can reduce water use by 30 to 70 percent and increase crop yields by 20 to 90 percent. Adopting better conservation practices and more efficient technologies, which many farmers are now doing, could save tremendous amounts of water.

The timing, as well as the method, of irrigation can waste water and result in "waterlogging, increased soil salinity, erosion, and surface and groundwater quality problems associated with nutrients, pesticides, and pathogens," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In 2003, only 8 percent of farmers who irrigated their crops measured the moisture content of their plants or soil before irrigating. University of California at Berkeley researchers found that the use of computer models enabled farmers to use 13 percent less water and increase crop yields by 8 percent.

Page 91) Irrigation may Be a Bad Investment

Irrigated crops account for about half of all crop sales in the United States, even though they are harvested from only one - sixth of all cropland. Using irrigation to increase yields means that less land is required to meet the same production goals (it may also contribute to over - production).

In the case of feed crops, the USDA estimates that 100 gallons of irrigation water generates only a few cents in increased farm revenue - hardly a great bargain. The same water could be used for more lucrative purposes. For example, an irrigated acre of corn yields about 163 bushels, which in 2002 was worth about $383. In contrast, 1 irrigated acre could produce about $2,400 worth of potatoes or $4,100 worth of apples. The non - profit Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that "a 60 - acre alfalfa farm using 240 acre - feet of water would generate approximately $60,000 in sales. In contrast, a semiconductor plant using the same amount of water would generate 5,000 times as much, or $300 million."

Page 93) Livestock's Consumption of Water is Huge - and Growing
Farm animals directly consume about 2.3 billion gallons of water per day, or over 800 billion gallons per year. Another 200 billion gallons are used to cool the animals and wash down their facilities, bringing the total to about 1 trillion gallons. That is twice as much as is used by the 9 million people in the New York City area.

Although water used for livestock accounts for a tiny share of national water consumption - about 0.5 percent - it is the fastest - growing portion, both in terms of water to drink and the "virtual" water used to grow grains, oilseeds, hay, and pasture. From 1990 to 1995, most categories of water (surface and ground) consumption fell, but water for public use grew by 4 percent and water used for livestock (including fish farming) grew by 13 percent. Combined with the growing number of livestock over the past 20 years, the increasing number of large cattle feedlots and industrial hog farms may contribute to rising demand for water.

Hog farms use large volumes of water to prepare manure for storage in huge lagoons, and feedlots employ misting systems to cool cattle. On traditional farms, in contrast, livestock might find shade or other natural ways to cool off.

Page 94) Modern Farming Practices Pollute Water

Irrigation, water, pesticides, fertilizer, manure, drugs . . . they are all widely used or produced on farms, and they often end up polluting nearby streams. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that "agriculture generates pollutants that degrade aquatic life or interfere with public use of 173,629 river miles (i.e. 25% of all rivers surveyed) and contributes to 70% of all water quality problems in rivers and streams." The pollution, if great enough, kills fish and other aquatic life, prevents people from swimming, reduces crop yields, and impairs drinking water.

Page 95) Irrigation Leads to Erosion, Runoff, and Salinization

In addition to wasting water, irrigation can degrade the environment. Erosion affects over 20 percent of America's irrigated cropland. When furrows are used to channel irrigation water, sediment runoff often exceeds 9 tons - and sometimes even reaches 45 tons - per acre. Center - pivot sprinkler irrigation causes soil losses as high as 15 tons per acre. The financial cost of replacing nutrients from lost soil runs into billions of dollars annually. In southern Idaho, for example, irrigation - induced erosion has reduced overall crop - yield potential (the estimated seasonal maximum yield) by about 25 percent.

Eroded soil pollutes waterways. The USDA considers sediment from eroded soil to be the "largest contaminant of surface water by weight and volume." In addition, excess irrigation water may pick up contaminants and carry them into rivers and streams. Those contaminants commonly include pesticides and heavy metals (which contaminate fish) and nutrients from manure and fertilizer (which can lead to algal blooms and loss of oxygen). In California, selenium - which is a naturally occurring element in soil - was so highly concentrated in irrigation water runoff that it caused an epidemic of deformities in migrating waterfowl, including hatchlings born with no eyes or feet.

Water extracted from lakes and streams may contain pollutants, such as long - banned pesticides. When that water is applied to farmland, some of it evaporates, leaving behind higher concentrations of those pollutants. In other cases, pollutants settle at the bottoms of streams and lakes, causing them to concentrate and degrade water quality.

Perhaps the most serious danger posed by irrigation to agriculture and the environment is salinization. Water - especially surface water - naturally contains salt. Irrigation water carries those salts onto cropland. When the water evaporates, salts are left behind. Salt buildup can reduce crop yields, and, in extreme cases, may force farmers to abandon once - fertile land. Most estimates put the affected acreage at about 10 million acres, or almost 20 percent of all irrigated land.

Page 113) Argument # 6 - Less Animal Suffering

"Our inhumane treatment of livestock is becoming widespread and more and more barbaric . . A Texas beef company, with 22 citations for cruelty to animals, was found chopping off the hooves of live cattle . . Secret videos from an Iowa pork plant show hogs squealing and kicking as they are being lowered into the boiling water that will soften . . the bristles on the hogs and make them easier to skin . . . barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be tolerated even if these animals are being raised for food. . . Such insensitivity is insidious and can spread and is dangerous. Life must be dealt with humanely in a civilized society." - U.S. Senator Robert Byrd

Many animals die to please our palette. About 140 million cattle, pigs and sheep are slaughtered annually in the United states - about half an animal for every man, woman, and child. Add to that 9 billion chickens and turkeys - 30 birds for every American - plus millions of fish, shellfish, and other sea creatures.

The American Meat Institute contends that "Animal handling in meat plants has never been better." That might well be true, but "never been better" falls far short of "good."

There's no easy way to know what constitutes happiness or contentment or pain for a pig, a cow, or a chicken. We can anthropomorphize livestock, imagining how it would feel to undergo some of the same experiences: having our teeth pulled or being castrated without anesthesia, for example. And in many cases, the pain an animal is experiencing is perfectly obvious. However, that approach is considered by some to be too subjective to establish the effects of such practices on animals. New tests are being developed that use the behavioral and biochemical markers of stress to evaluate farm animal welfare. Because the European, but not the American, legal system treats livestock as sentient, conscious creatures, the majority of that research is taking place abroad.

Food animals are not protected by federal animal welfare laws. In fact, farm animals are specifically exempted from the laws that protect rats, mice, and other laboratory animals. While more than 30 states have livestock anti-cruelty laws, they typically exempt "common" or "customary" practices. Therefore, painful procedures - such as when animals' beaks, horns, tails, or testes are chopped off - are legal because most farmers use them.

As Mathew Scully argues in his book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy," "When the law sets billions of creatures apart from the basic standards elsewhere governing the treatment of animals, when the law denies in effect that they are animals at all, that is not neutrality. That is falsehood, and license for cruelty."

Page 116) Stamped as Property

Beef cattle - especially out West - are often "branded" with a logo indicating their ownership. Branding has been used by ranchers for generations and has deep cultural resonance, if limited utility. Depending on its age at the time of branding, the animal is either pinned on the ground or constrained in a chute. The brand is then impressed into its hide using a blazing hot iron, which creates a third - degree burn; that painful process may be repeated when animals are sold to different owners.

Many more humane alternatives for animal identification exist, such as ear tags or retinal imaging, which should consign this outmoded practice to the history books.

Inconvenient Parts Removed


Nearly all bulls are castrated, which involves removing their testicles. The most common methods are slitting the scrotum and removing the testicles, blocking the circulation of blood to the scrotal sac with a tight rubber band, breaking the spermatic cord with pliers, or injecting the testicles with an acid or other chemical. All are performed without painkillers.

Page 119) Debeaking, Detoeing, and Maceration

Because of the economic losses associated with feather pecking, egg farmers routinely trim off the birds' beaks. Debeaking causes both acute and chronic pain, including during eating. To prevent sometimes serious injury during fights, poultry are often detoed.

Treatment of male chicks is even more grotesque. Because the egg industry has no use for those birds, they are summarily killed. The current method of choice is to dispose of the birds in what is effectively a modified wood chipper. Industry parlance describes this as "instant maceration using a specially designed high - speed grinder." Other methods of disposal, considered less humane, include suffocation and crushing.

- from the book "Six Arguments for a Greener Diet" - by Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D.,
and the Staff of the Center for Science in the Public Interest


MAD COWBOY - by Howard Lyman

Page 137) The government often picks up the tab for water pipelines, fences, cattle guards, seeding, and weeding. The government's Animal Damage Control division kills an estimated 250,000 wild animals annually to accommodate ranchers who don't want them harming their livestock.

Almost all public lands ranching in America takes place in 11 western states, and virtually all land in those states that can possibly be grazed by livestock is currently used for that purpose. Seventy - five percent of the 418 million acres of publicly owned land in the West (federal, state, and local) is used by ranchers for private gain.

Two government agencies - the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service - administer 85 percent of public ranchland, ranging from National Forests to grasslands to shrublands, brushlands, and riparian areas. While raising beef is always an inherently inefficient business, doing so on public land in the arid West takes the grand prize for wastefulness.

The average range steer consumes 6 tons of range plant material before going to slaughter. Vegetation and seeds that are not consumed by cattle are often killed by the trampling of livestock hooves. An untold number of plant species have been wiped out by overgrazing, and often the "invading" plants that have replaced them by virtue of being unpalatable to cattle tend to be highly flammable and to hold the soil less well than native grasses.

Overgrazing also reduces the "organic litter" of brush and leaves that helps plant grow. When there is less plant cover, fewer roots remain to hold soil together. The result is increased soil erosion from winds, rain, and floods. Overgrazing also contributes mightily to a decline in plant diversity, so essential to ecological health, putting more plants on the endangered list than any other cause. In the "State of the World," Lester Brown warned that:

Ecological burdens from intensive livestock operations include loss of native vegetation, decline of fisheries as water is diverted for irrigation and stream habitats are degraded, diseases in native herbivores, and major changes in fire frequency, soils, hydrology, and other ecosystem processes . . . Half of U.S. rangeland, most of it in the mountainous West, is now considered severely degraded, with its carrying capacity reduced by at least 50 percent.

Page 142) It shouldn't be surprising that by damaging streams, grasslands, riparian zones, and forests, livestock wind up devastating other forms of animal life. Keep in mind that cattle are an invading species, not native to our continent.

Cattle have displaced buffalo, elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and moose, among other large herbivores that used to roam our continent in far greater numbers than they do today. These species currently struggle forth with only 1 to 3 percent of their primeval population.

The cattle culture's destructive impact on native species is felt in a myriad of ways. Pronghorn, deer, and other native ungulates, for example, like to hide their newborn in tall grass to protect them from predators. With cattle maintaining sovereignty over the land, tall grass is hard to find, and the newborn are left vulnerable. Grizzly bears experience nutritional deprivation from livestock grazing, and as a result suffer declining fertility.

The bovine is truly a formidable and resourceful killer in the disguise of an innocent, melancholy, big - eyed grass eater. All kinds of animals have suffered under its domination of the West. Rabbits are endangered by the lack of vegetative cover for shelter and food; frogs, toads, and insects miss the rich, moist soil that livestock have dried and hardened; wild pigs are deprived of grasses, nuts, and berries; fish go belly - up in the cow -polluted streams and rivers; elk and antelope perish from diseases borne by livestock - spread bacteria; people get heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer.

Page 128) What the livestock industry does to our air, however, pales next to the extraordinary damage it does to our land and water. Cattle are as adept at destroying streams and rivers as they are at degrading land and fouling the air. Wading cows widen streams unnaturally, as their hooves break off large chunks of soil and deposit them into the water. As naturalist George Wuerthner points out, "This damage is so prevalent that most people do not realize that sluggish brown waterways were not the norm in the pristine West." As the widened, more shallow streams grow warmer by greater exposure to the sun through both greater surface area and reduced plant cover, algae proliferate, water evaporates more easily, and less dissolved oxygen is available for the fish that need it to survive. While an increase of only 5 degrees in water temperature can spell doom for some species of fish, the changes brought on by livestock grazing have been known to increase water temperatures by 10 degrees or more. Massive "fish kills" and the demise of other aquatic animals are often the result.

While cattle hooves widen our streams and rivers, cattle dung pollutes it. Often livestock waste is dumped into streams as the most efficient means of disposal. Feedlot wastes can be several times more concentrated than raw domestic sewage. Ammonia, nitrates, and bacteria generated by this waste inevitably wind up polluting rivers, streams, and wells. It is a problem of awesome dimension. On a typical feedlot, with 10,000 head, as much as half a million pounds of cow dung is produced daily. The largest feedlots, with 100,000 head, have a waste problem equal to that of the largest American cities. Livestock waste exceeds human waste in tonnage nationwide by a factor of one hundred and thirty! It's been estimated that animal wastes are responsible for 10 times as much water pollution in America as the human population. Moreover, every year thousands of cattle carcasses are left to rot in streams and rivers, polluting them further.

Few people realize that it was the taste for beef and the grazing industry that fed it that, more than anything else, virtually wiped out the Native Americans throughout this continent. The competition for land that lay behind the violence between "cowboys and Indians" was made necessary only because the cowboys required vast stretches of grassland for their cattle.
- from "MAD COWBOY" - by Howard Lyman



2.) BOULDER WEEKLY: Scott's Anti - Slaughter Letter in Boulder Weekly

3.) BILL MAHER OP/ED NEW YORK TIMES: Free the Hens Costco!





8.) PETA PRIME: Can a Plant-Based Diet Cure Cancer?

9.) VEGAN DIETS FIGHT CANCER! - from the Huffington Post with Kathy Freston

10.) ANTI - CANCER DIET - by Dr. Richard Beliveau

11.) REVERSING CANCER WITH a VEGAN DIET ! - Video by Michael Greger, M.D.


13.) VIVA! - Plant-based Diets & Cardiovascular Disease Fact Sheet

14.) THE PLANT - POWERED DIET - scientific reasons to adopt a plant-based diet