Good evening and thank you for coming. My name is James, and I am the humane educator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.
Now, I am typically giving this presentation to a high school classroom, so my audience is a little different. And I… Same level. We will find out. We will find out. So I pretty much know my audience. And I can pretty much can guarantee that 99% of the kids in the class re eating meat, dairy and eggs. And there might be one or two kids who are vegetarian. But it’s a very rare occasion where you’ll get a kid who is vegan.
When I speak to adults it’s a little different, you know, I don’t quite know my audience as well. So I want to get to know you. So here is what I want everybody to do. I want everybody to please stand up. All right, now, if you are vegan, meaning you choose not to eat any meat of the animal, no flesh of the animals, no cows, no chickens, no pigs, no turkey, and no fish, right surprise, surprise: fish is not a vegetable. No dairy, no cow’s milk, no cow cheese, no cow butter, no cow ice cream and no eggs, please have a seat.
So if you are a vegan, please have a seat. Okay. Now for the rest of you, you’ll have to remain standing for the rest of the presentation. All right, everybody have a seat.
There is another benefit of talking to high school kids. And that’s they are not afraid to participate in the presentation. They will say whatever is on their mind. Whether I like it or not. But with adults it’s a little bit harder, it’s like pulling teeth. Now this presentation is designed to be interactive, meaning I want you to actually participate. I want you to engage.
When you think about the presentation, it’s like a Rorschach test. I’ll show you a picture…and you… tell me what you see. All right. So the maturity level is the same as high school students’. It is a mushroom, people. All right.
How many of you have ever seen the movie “The Matrix”? All right, so more than half. For those who have not seen the movie “The Matrix”, there’s a scene in the very beginning of the film, where the main character is presented with two pills: One blue and one red. And he has to make a choice.
If he chooses the blue pill, he’ll fall asleep and when he wakes up, everything will be exactly the way it has always been. If he chooses the red pill, he will finally learn the truth. And I’m here today to give you that red pill. But let me make this very clear to you: I’m not here to tell you what to do, I’m not here to tell you how to think, how to feel and I’m certainly not here to tell you what to eat. I am simply here to provide you with information. What you do with that information is solely up to you.
So what does the Matrix look like? Let me show you. Now, despite what you might be thinking these two circles are not equal. I repeat, these two circles are not equal. One is in fact larger than the other. What I need you to do, is to determine which one that is. So please raise your hand if you believe the blue circle is larger than the red. All right. Please raise your hand if you believe the red circle is larger than the blue. All right, very good.
Now, before I said anything about these two circles, what was your first instinct? Equal, right? Because they look equal. The reason they look equal is because they are in fact equal. These two circles are identical. You know, I just got almost everyone of you to raise your hand and say that they are not. So what do we learn? That you can be manipulated like that to believe in something that goes against your natural instincts.
Just imagine, just imagine as a child you are taught that the blue circle is larger than the red. If you say it enough times, you convince yourself that’s the truth. If you’re told the lie enough times, it becomes part of your reality. And if enough people were taught that lie, that the blue circle is larger than the red, then now it becomes part of the culture. And if that culture then passes that misinformation along to the next generation, now it becomes tradition.
And what we have to remember is that just because we have a tradition, it does not mean it is morally acceptable. Tradition and morality are not always the same. I mean can you think of any traditions that we once had in the United States of America that we no longer have? That today we think back and that was immoral? Slavery, right? Less than two hundred years ago. And that was a tradition. So the traditions we have today does not necessarily mean that they are morally acceptable. And as we evolve as a culture, so do our traditions.
Now, The Matrix is a story. It’s a story when told enough times to enough people it becomes a part of that culture. It becomes the tradition. And this story is being told over and over. Everyday. In fact, if you believe the image on the cartoon is where you are getting your milk from, you are deceiving yourself. This is a fantasy. It only exists in your head. It’s a blue pill fed to you by the industry to get you to buy their product. This is the Matrix, the lie we tell ourselves about where our food is coming from.
The reality is far more disturbing. 90% to 95% of the milk, the meat, and eggs that we consume in the United States are coming from these conditions. This is called factory farming. This is where you take thousands of hens, pigs, and cows and confine them into warehouses. In fact, every year in the U.S. 10 billion…Yes, 10 billion cows, pigs and chickens are being slaughtered for food. So what that works out to be is that every second in the U.S. 300 animals are killed. Just like that. So 300, 600, 900, 1200…By the time I am done talking today there’ll be over a million animals that have been slaughtered. And most of us do not even blink an eye and I mean how is it possible that in the United States of America, we can kill, we can slaughter 300 animals, every second, and not question that.
Because of the story we have been told. The story justifies the action. If you say it enough times, you actually convince yourself that’s the truth. And how many of you were told as a child you need to eat meat to get protein? I know I was.
How many of you were taught you need to drink cow’s milk to get strong bones? Not dog milk, not chimpanzee milk, not elephant milk, not rhino milk, not hippo milk, not tiger milk, not lion milk, not giraffe milk, not elephant milk, did I say that already, I think you get the point. Not even our own mother’s milk, we need to drink cow’s milk to get strong bones.
The absurdity of drinking the milk from any other species, and any other being beside our own mother, when it said enough times, loses its absurdness. So all we’re going to do today is to find out if the Matrix is telling the truth.
Our diet is natural?
Now, the first we have been taught is that our diet is natural. We eat meat, dairy and eggs, so therefore it must be natural. So let’s find out. You have two images on the wall. All right, again. Remember the Rorschach test. You have two images on the wall. I want you to tell me all the thoughts that come to mind, when you see the image on the left. Do not be afraid to scream out. Nobody is going to get sent to the Principal. What do you see?
Fresh, yum, sweet, all right? If I came into the room with a basket of strawberries that looked just like that, organic. And I put it on a chair right here, now, what would be your thoughts? Okay, same thoughts.
What would you think if one of us got up and started chewing on the strawberries? Maybe you want to join in. If I come into the room with a basket of strawberries how many of your mouths would start to salivate? You mouth starts to water? If I take a strawberry and put it under your nose, what do you smell? If I take a knife and slice that strawberry in half and put that under your nose, now what do you smell? Strawberries –
Note that all the sensations remain the same. You see a strawberry and it looks like strawberry. You smell strawberry, and it smells like a strawberry. And you take a bite out of a strawberry and surprise, surprise, it tastes like a strawberry. Exactly, it’s a strawberry.
But, what thoughts come to mind when you see the image on the right? Cute, it’s kind of a rigged audience… you are in a vegan restaurant. But you know, when I go to a classroom, half the response, you get half of the kids, “Oh, cute, animal, pig, Wilbur, Babe.”
So half the class will see an animal and the other half of the class will see bacon, sausage, ham, pigs, rib, pork and hot dog. Those see a food. It’s one or the other. Either you’re seeing an animal, or you’re seeing food.
Now, what would happen if I took one of the pigs living, brought it into the room right here and put him right in front of you? Does that change it? Now what do we see? I mean, what would we think if one of us got up and start chewing on the pig? Not very normal.
If I come into the room with a pig under my arm, how many of your mouth starts to salivate? All right! If I take a pig and put it under your nose, what do you smell? Smell pig. Just like if I take a dog and put it under your nose, you smell dog. A cat, you smell a cat.
If I took a knife, and I sliced that pig in half. And put that under your nose, Now what do you smell? Blood. You smell rotting corpse, bacteria, decomposing flesh. You see there is a process involved, and I am here today, to show you that process of how you convert this animal, into this product.
Why should it be kept a secret? Why should we not know what we are participating in? And what we are putting in our body? Now let’s make the situation slightly more realistic.
If I were to put a pig on this side of the room living, and a butchers knife on the side of that room, how many people would be willing to pick up the knife and take the life of that animal? It’s very rare right? And if somebody did that, that’s all right, but how many people would try to stop that person from doing it? Right. Would we try that? of course, that’s compassion. That is the greatest quality of the human race. There is no other species on this planet that has that level of compassion to extend to all living beings.
But, if you would stop somebody from killing a pig in front of you and then go home and have this for breakfast that’s called hypocrisy. Just because it comes in a nice neat package all dressed up in the supermarket, just because you didn’t take the knife and shove it through their jugular just because you didn’t get blood on your clothes and just because you didn’t hear their screams, it does not mean that you did not participate in the killing. Every time we buy this product, we are supporting somebody else doing what we ourselves would not want to do, what we ourselves would not want to see, and what we ourselves would not want to hear.
Now, if you still see bacon, sausage and ham when I bring a pig into the room, what happens when I change it to… What’s that it supposed to – Here we go. All right. That’s the common response.
Now I never heard anybody say “yumm” nobody ever sees dog, food, hot dog. So, why not? Why don’t we see a food? What? We have been accustomed to view this animal as our pet. I mean, how many of you have a dog, or a cat, right? How many of you have a pig? Not so much. Alright. So…
But there are other cultures, there are other cultures and again, the cultural story for us is, “this is your pet”. In another culture, in certain parts of the world, they eat cats and dogs. That’s their culture, that’s their story they have been told. How do you feel about that? A lot of people think it is disgusting, right? I imagine every one of you probably thinks it is disgusting to eat a dog. Why would it be disgusting to eat this animal, and not disgusting to eat this animal? Why would it be wrong to eat this animal, and right to eat this animal?
And most importantly, why would it be wrong to kill this animal, and right to kill this animal? Culture. It’s culture, it’s the story, it’s the Matrix that we have been told. One culture sees this as a pet, this as a food. Another culture might see this as a pet, and this as a food. Another culture might see both as food.
In certain parts of India, the cow is sacred. They would never think about eating a cow in certain parts of India. Is that wrong? Is that unnatural? That’s just the story they have been told. But culture is just a story . That’s all it is. It’s just make-believe.
What I’m concerned with is what is natural to the human species. Because every culture has a different story. But if you take someone from Asia, Africa, South America, North America, Europe, and we are all the same species. We are all human beings. So, let’s take a three-year-old from any country in the world and you put that 3 year old in the room and you line up 5 animals in front of that 3 years old, a pig, a dog, a cow, a cat and a chicken. Do you think the 3 year old will going to know which one to eat and which one to pet? What’s the 3 years old most likely going to do? Or try to do? Play with them all. He is going to try to play with them all. The 3 years old has to be taught, “no, no, no, no, don’t play with him, eat him, play with him, pet him.” That’s what we were taught. We didn’t choose our diet. Our diet is a learned behavior.
We were raised to perceive this animal as your pet and this animal as your food. But that’s not the natural perception. The natural perception is that they are all of our companions. So our parents chose our diet, based upon the cultural story. And if you have children you base their diet on the cultural story being told. Which is the same story.
Now, let me give you another example. If you take a baby and you put the baby in a crib and you put on the right side a baby chick and on the left side an apple, which one do you think the baby is going to try to play with, and which one do you think the baby is going to try to eat? Most likely it will put the inanimate object, in this case the apple in his or her mouth. And if the baby most likely will be peaked by the interest of the thing moving, in this case the thing being actually a living being, a chick. Now, if the baby tries to eat the chick, what’s the chick going to do? Run away, or peck at him.
Now if you walk into a room with a baby in a crib playing with an apple and chewing on the head of a live chick, what would you think of that baby? It’s like demon baby? Would you allow that demon baby to play with your baby instead of a playmate? Probably not. So if it’s not all right for a baby to cause harm to an animal, even when they don’t know any better, why does it become more acceptable as we become older?
When we do know the difference between an apple and a baby chick. The question is do we find it acceptable to cause harm to an animal? Let’s find out.
If you would walk outside right now and you saw somebody taking a baseball bat to a dog’s head, what would you do? You would take action. At the very least you’d call the police, because you recognize it as a violation of this animal’s right to be free from harm. We are all given that right at birth. Every animal on this planet, whether it’s a mammal, whether it’s an amphibian, whether it’s a bird, a reptile, a fish, an insect, we are all earthlings. Human beings as well, we are all earthlings. And what do all earthlings have in common? Two things. We all want to live. We all desire to live. That is what creates the equality in all of us. We all want to live.
And the second thing is, we all avoid pain. Those two things make us equal. From the largest land animal on Earth, the elephant, to the smallest, the insect, the ant, and everything in between from the dog, the pig to the human being, we all desire to live. And we all avoid pain.
Now, if you were to walk out right now and saw somebody taking that baseball bat to a pig’s head, would your emotional response not be the exact same thing? Of course! Because the question for you is, what is the difference, what is the difference between the two? Right? Is there a difference? You might think one is cuter than the other, but that says more about you, than anything about these two animals. And a lot of kids would say, “Well, the nose looks different”. I said, “But they both got a nose to smell”. Some kids will say, “these he has hooves, and he has got paws.” I said, “they both got feet, to walk and run.” Some kids say, “Now, his ears are going up and his ears are flappy.” They both got two ears to hear. They both got two eyes to see. They both got a heart to beat, and a mind to think.
And the reason why we would take action for both of them, is because we recognize the equality between them and not the difference. Any difference is insignificant. The similarities, though, are striking. We know they are equal. Yet every time we sit down for a meal, we create that separation, we create that inequality. It’s just like we knew the two circles were equal, red and blue. But all it takes is somebody to tell you a story.
Now, what we most importantly recognize is that all animals have feelings. How do we know? How do we really know? How do we even know that humans have feelings? Now, out of these feelings, what is most important to you? Happiness, right?
How do you know if somebody is happy? If I said to you right now “It’s the happiest moment of my life” would you believe me? Hopefully not, no offense. So, how you’re going to tell somebody if somebody is happy? They are smiling, they are laughing, I can take somebody in this room who does not speak your language, but you can tell how they are feeling by their expressions, the sounds, it does not have to do with the language, though.
What about other animals? They wag their tails, they bark, they jump up and down, they play with each other. They lick. So all these are signs of how they feel. What about pain though? If I said to you right now my right hand is killing me, would you believe me? I haven’t given you any signs. It might, though, it might be killing me. There is only one person in this room, who knows that it’s actually killing me. That’s me, of course.
If I trip over my feet here though, and nail my head against the side of this table, start bleeding profusely out of my head and screaming on the ground, would you believe I am in pain? Of course, I am showing the signs. Here is the test. You take your hand, you put it over the flame, what happens? Burns, right, what is your reaction? Pull back and scream.
You take a dog’s paw, put it over a flame, what is his reaction? Same thing, pull back and scream. You take a pig’s leg, put it over the flame. Same reaction. You take a dog, a pig, a cow, a chicken , a goat, a duck, a horse, a rat, a mouse, any animal that is living, put a body part over the flame, they all have the same reaction. You take a fish out of water, what is their reaction? Flopping around. Why? Can’t breathe.
Do you want to know what it feels like, being a fish out of water? Have your loved one put your head under water and not let go. It really would not be your loved one though if they are doing that. That’s how it feels like.
Of course fish have feelings. They are, they are not vegetables. If you take a vegetable, you take a plant, you take a strawberry, you put it over the flame, what happens? Melts. Does not have feet to run away, does not have a mouth to scream, a nose to smell, eyes to see, ears to hear. A heart to beat and a mind to think. A lot of kids would like to give this one before you, say, “plants have feelings”. They do not have a nervous system. Do not have a nervous system. Without a nervous system, they cannot feel pain and happiness the way that animals and humans can.
So the question is, when did we learn this? When did we learn that animals have feelings? Hopefully this is not the first day that you learn this, right? When you were younger, right? How did you learn it? Maybe you had a dog or cat. Or you have to do is go outside and you just experience any of the animals outside. If they run away from you, it means they are scared, if they come up to you, probably you have food or something, and they want it. So we understand this through the experiences we have.
In fact, think about the books that were read to you as a child, songs you listened to, and how about the movies. Think about the movies we show to our kids. What do all these movies have in common? What are they about? Animals. What kind of animals? Farmed animals. Even fish are being farmed. You have pigs, chickens, cows and fish. These are all the animals we eat. What is the common theme in these movies? They are running, they are being saved. No animal wants to die. No animal wants to be dinner on your plate. We root for these animals. You take even the biggest pork eater in the world, he is running for Wilbur. Nobody wants to see Wilbur made into bacon at the end of that film. Chicken Run Now we root for the chickens.
Now I guarantee there are thousands of people watching “Chicken Run” thought “Go, chickens, go!” While eating a KFC bucket of chicken wings. Because they are not making that connection. How many kids watched the movie “Babe” fall in love with Babe and then they go home and are fed Babe unknowingly by their parents. So we are teaching kids to love these animals, but to eat them, too. And this is the closest thing you’ll come to see their reality in the Matrix. And the story we have told ourselves. And most of the time, unfortunately the closest thing we will come to, is in cartoon form. Whether it is by Pixar and Disney, nonetheless.
But today we step outside the Matrix. And generally speaking, when I go into a high school classroom, I show “Meet your meat”. If you have not seen this video, and if you are still eating meat, dairy, eggs, fish, take a look at meat.org, MEAT.org and you can see the conditions that these animals live in.
Now I am not going to show you that, every time I show it to adults, they just leave, and don’t come back. So I’m going to show you, a 3-minute video again by the same people that put on the first video, “Farm Sanctuary”. It’s 3 minutes. If you do not want to watch it, you do not have to, but this is where 90% to 95% of the meat, dairy and eggs we are consuming in the US are coming from.
And if you really have a problem watching it, but you have no problem eating it, you know, why the disconnect there? But this isn’t just about animal rights. This is also a health issue and that’s the second part of the presentation that we will talk about after the video.
The question is: do these animals look healthy? Do the conditions they are living in look healthy? Because if the animals do not look healthy to you, why would you want to put a sick animal into your body? One last thing before I show the video a lot of people said, “What about, you know, milk? Does not seem to be any harm in raising cows for milk.” Notice the first scene in this video of the dairy cows, and you can actually see a cow giving birth, and notice what happens to her calf, and notice her response. It does not have to be this way.
If I could talk to animals that are being confined and abused now in factory farms I would say, “I’m sorry for what we are doing to you, I wish it wasn’t this way and I’m doing everything I know to stop it and hopefully we will be able to stop it.” There is not really a whole lot of good you can say. I mean, you just got to hope that it can stop, and the hope that people will recognize the harm we are causing, and will choose a different way. Meat, milk and eggs come from real animals. They don’t just come from the grocery store. And these animals desire to live, and they want to be free of pain and suffering and fear. And on today’s farms these animals only know fear and pain at human hands, they never know human kindness, they never know mercy. And when people buy these products, they are unwittingly supporting that type of cruelty and that type of callousness.
The workers, they have to lose part of their heart, you know, they have to lose, they have to shut their eyes to certain aspects of what they are doing. Can you imagine what it would be like to cut the throats of animals for 8 hours a day? It’s a bloody, violent job, and nobody should have to do it. I do not know what that means that you know, we can participate in such cruelty, without paying attention to it, without caring about it, without wanting to do different.
Citizens want to assume that animals will be treated humanely that there are laws on the books to prevent cruelty. And people are usually surprised to learn that there aren’t. If people looked at what was happening, they would be appalled. Most people would not support the type of abuse that has become common on factory farms.
All right, you know, the common response is “Why is this happening?” And there is a very simple explanation for why it does happen. If you were to walk outside right now, if you walk down US1, walk further down, let’s say you come to a restaurant that just opened up, right? They are serving cats and dogs. That was the main item on the menu. How many of you would be out there right now, protesting? I guarantee, before the day would be over, you would have that place shut down, right?
Walk down the street a few blocks down, you come to a steakhouse, I do not see anybody protesting. I do not see that place being shut down. Why? Because we have been taught to perceive this animal to be different than this animal. And veganism is simply changing your perception. That’s it. That’s all it is. You just change your perception. We don’t have to participate in this. This is not necessary.
A lot of people will say to me, “What about, you know, if we just create better conditions.” What I am saying to you it is not necessary killing an animal. We do not have to kill animals. We don’t have to drink their milk, we do not have to eat their eggs. It’s just not necessary. I mean, people talk about humane slaughter. How do you slaughter something humanely? It’s that like when you rub their belly, you give them some milk and cookies, and chop their head off? If I did that to one of you, would everybody be like “Well at least he died humanely.” You can’t do anything violent, humanely. I mean, if I were to kind of humanely rob you? Humanely rape you? What does humane theft look like? Is that when I come up to you and say, “I need you to do me a favor? I need you to come up here and take your wallet, and put it on the table right here. Take all the credit cards, cash, everything put it on the table right there. Pretty pleased with a cherry on top.”Would that be humane theft?
I mean, would everybody be like that, “Hey, if I am going to be robbed, I want him to do it. He is pretty nice about it.” Of course not. Nobody wants to be robbed. Nobody wants to be killed. Nobody wants to be raped. It is not necessary. Think about it this way.
How many of you do not, do not own a fur coat? Raise your hand, if you do not own a fur coat. Yes, that’s what I thought. Why? Why don’t you own a fur coat. Because it’s cruel and unnecessary. What about if I said to you, “You know what, we are going to take some minks, raise them for furcoat, we are going to raise them, but you know, give them a lot of room, they are going to be cage free, free range, organic food, they are going to live like kings and queens. Until we kill them, of course.
You know, after a few weeks, a few months. They will not live to their natural age. But we are going to create humane fur. Would that be acceptable? Would you go out and buy a fur coat? No. Because it is not necessary. A fur coat is not necessary. Especially here in Florida. But it is not necessary anywhere. You do not need a fur coat to survive. You do not need to eat animals to survive. It is not necessary. It is just sugarcoating something. “Humane slaughter”
So, let’s take a look at what we are participating in. This is a battery cage. All right? It’s literally the size of a milk crate. Just like this. You take 4-6 hens, you put them in a crate this size. And you burn their beaks off. Why? Because in these conditions they become aggressive. Yeah it’d be like, if I take everybody in the first and second row, put you in that corner and sealed it off kept you there for you know, 48 hours straight, I guarantee you’re not going to remain friends for that long. You want more space. So they are denied the ability to do what’s natural to them, spread their wings, forage. So how does the industry solve this problem?
Cage free, free range, I mean that sounds pretty good. Who in this room does not want to live free, right? This is a cage free farm in Virginia. It’s just a label. It makes us feel better about what we are participating in but it means absolutely nothing to the animal. Cage free simply means you can take 500 hens and put them in this room. According to the industry that is cage free.