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Suryia, a three-year-old orangutan, lost both his parents, became severely depressed, and stopped eating. His life was in danger, and he was taken to the medical center of the park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he lived. There he met an elderly Bluetick hound named Roscoe, who also needed medical care. They became friends at first sight, and Suryia’s depression lifted. They are inseparable companions. Editor’s Corner Guest Essay: Does Guilt Have a Place in Animal Rights Activism? by Karen Davis, Ph.D. (pictured) Photo by Karen Porreca “Without guilt improvement is drastically diminished.”– Thomas Coates, Facebook comment, November 22, 2021 The fact that animals are suffering and dying for appetites that can be satisfied in many other ways makes some people, perhaps many, uncomfortable, though not necessarily because of guilt. People get annoyed that you’re bothering them, trying to curtail their freedom and uncover a guilt they may not feel or feel strongly enough, so that some end up feeling “guilty” because they don’t feel guilty, just vexed that they’re being victimized. If animals are largely overlooked in the range of human endeavors, is it any wonder that their suffering is barely accorded human knowledge, and that it makes sense to speak of the “secret” and “hidden” suffering of animals? Even so, many people regard pain and suffering as morally objectionable and would agree with the Reverend Dr. Humphry Primatt, who wrote in 1776, “Pain is Pain, whether it be inflicted on man or on beast; and the creature that suffers it, whether man or beast, being sensible of the misery of it whilst it lasts, suffers Evil.” The Ecology of Pain and Suffering Yet the idea that pain and suffering are evil per se is not always true. Pain can be constructive as well as debilitating. Pain that is degrading in one situation may be uplifting in another, as when a person suffers for the sake of a loved one or a worthwhile cause. Philosopher Jeff Sebo writes, for example, that “people often claim that traumatic events serve as catalysts for rational behavior, helping them to reprioritize their lives and focus on what is important. “ At the most basic level, pain is informative. Physical pain informs us biologically that we are injured or ill, while the pang of guilt informs us morally that we have done or are doing something wrong. Few would argue that a morally pain-free person is enviable simply because lacking a conscience is soothing and freedom from moral restraint is gratifying. (Beth Clifton collage) Not All Pain is the Same The fact is, not all pain is the same. While it is true that pain is pain regardless of who suffers it, other considerations apply. For instance, if I have to choose between suffering from cancer and suffering in a concentration camp, I will choose cancer. Why? Because cancer is not a sign of human character; it’s a malignant physical disease, not a malignant assertion of human will. Cancer is unfortunate, whereas a concentration camp is evil. The contrast between human agency and random occurrence is important to counter the claim that it makes no difference whether a human or a nonhuman animal, say, starves to death from natural causes or as part of someone’s research; whether she or he suffers in the course of natural predation or in the machinery of somebody’s factory farm. Pain has a context. There are not only degrees and durations of pain; there are also causes and conditions. There may be motives and attitudes that enter into it that include a guilty, if unacknowledged, consciousness. Clearly seen, each episode of pain reflects the environment that produced it. Images of animals undergoing vivisection and slaughter, Auschwitz inmates recounting their experience of being experimented on by Nazi doctors, the testimony of the doctors themselves, all show that there is a moral ecology of pain and suffering, as well as a natural ecology of misfortune, which may or may not overlap. Pain is a Symbol Pain is a symbol in the sense of something that is a part of – that stands out from and illuminates – a larger reality. To talk meaningfully about pain, we must take into account the conditions in which it occurs, including whether those conditions are primarily moral – involving human attitudes, motives, and conduct – or natural, like a plague or an earthquake. We will not then be confounded when someone dares to assert, as I once heard a researcher say at the National Institutes of Health concerning the head-bashing experiments that were being conducted on baboons at the University of Pennsylvania, that what “happens” to animals in laboratories isn’t so bad, because “life is full of suffering.” A guilt-free mind is indeed a great comfort. Beth Clifton collage By contrast, Thomas Coates, who is quoted at the beginning of this article, goes on to say in his Facebook comment, “There are a lot of things I used to do that were immoral. Guilt has continuously guided me to learn and improve. I’d hope that anyone watching this footage [of turkeys enduring massive cruelty on a turkey farm] will experience guilt and use it to make more educated and kinder decisions.” Can Guilt Penetrate the Wall? Animal advocates struggle with how to get people to care enough about animals to do more than just passively agree that animals shouldn’t be made to suffer. Speaking of activist efforts in China in words with global applicability, Mercy For Animals’ president, Leah Garcés, was recently quoted by journalist Marc Gunther in a Vox article entitled Why the future of animal welfare lies beyond the West: “I think we have to keep throwing spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. We have not cracked the code. Nobody has.” Should the “spaghetti” we throw include an effort to induce consciousness of guilt in people who are in a position to make a positive difference for animals in their personal lives? “Try forcing most Americans to consider the suffering of the animals they consume, and they will conclude . . . that the whole exercise has more to do with punishment than persuasion,” B.R. Myers wrote in The Atlantic in Hard to Swallow: The gourmet’s ongoing failure to think in moral terms (2007). As for encouraging people to feel guilty about contributing without reasonable cause to the suffering and death of a fellow creature, I think guilt is an appropriate and even a necessary feeling to have toward one’s innocent victims, as long as it empowers rather than impairs the ability to think and act better as a result. Guilt can be motivating, along with pity and remorse, and the uplift of deciding to wash one’s hands of contributing further to an abuse, and in this way transform the guilt incurred when one behaved less mindfully. –Essay Used by Permission Unset Gems Dairy cheese is full of tears. –Editor Pilgrimage: Omri Paz (1991 – ) (Pictured) Many outsiders may not be aware of this but, in the words of Israel’s leading organizer of vegan activities, Omri Paz, “this little country of ours can proudly lay claim to being one of the most vegan-friendly places on Mother Earth.” While estimates of the percentage of vegans and near-vegans in the Jewish (and Palestinian) nation range widely, centering around 5%, by all accounts the number is substantial by world standards and growing. The movement is reinforced by the conspicuous presence of some 50 vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv, together with lately the largest vegan festival in the world in that city in June, drawing 50,000 visitors to its many booths and programs. Tel Aviv has been called the vegan capital of the world. (Note the claim is that Tel Aviv and Israel are vegan-friendly. While around 38% of India’s population are religiously-motivated vegetarians, dairy is usually important in their diet, so they cannot be called vegan.) Israel the pioneer of vegan nations? Why is this? One is just that the Mediterranean area produces exceptionally tantalizing vegetables and fruits; the alternatives to meat are there. Another is that innovation, trying new experiences and ways of life, has been very important in the development of Israel, going back to the utopian kibbutzim or communes significant in the early years of the Hebrew state and now, though less agricultural and more craft-oriented, still important. Moreover, the Jewish community includes many highly sensitive and aware people who, like the late Issac Bashevis Singer, vegetarian and the only Yiddish-writing winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, are deeply disturbed by the suffering of animals in the meat industry, and have rejected its handiwork. Finally, despite the importance of “kosher” or “acceptable” meat in the traditional Jewish diet, Jews are aware that even “good” flesh need not ordinarily be placed on the plate, and can be problematic. Kosher applies only to animal-based products, not plant-based. I know some Jews, including one prominent rabbi, who are vegan at least in part because that diet makes keeping kosher so much simpler; one just doesn’t have to worry about keeping food spiritually clean in a plant-based diet. Furthermore, many foods are vegan in Israel that would not be elsewhere, because in Israel, cooks want to be kosher and so replace butter or milk with plant-based substitutes. In Israel you can consume all the buttery and icing-rich cinnamon rolls your vegan heart desires without violating kosher regulations.. Omri Paz, the young mover and shaker behind the festival and much of Israeli veganism, started off as a typical meat-eating child and later law student. He then saw a video by the American vegan activist Gary Yourofsky, which awakened him to the realities of the meat and animal products industry. “I decided that very day that I would no longer eat any animal-based food,” he recalled. Soon after, in 2012, when Israel was only 1% vegan rather than 5% as now, Paz started Vegan Friendly (sometimes called Vegan Future), a non-profit designed to promote the new diet. In a scenario other newly-minted vegans can undoubtedly relate to, Paz at first believed that all he had to do was talk about veganism, get the word out about its humanitarian, ecological, and health virtues, not to mention its delicious taste, and the rest of the country or even the world would quickly come around. He was soon disabused of this notion. There is always a level of implacable resistance. Paz admits that so far in Israel, the great majority of the population still cannot imagine life without meat. That is not enough for him. He said, “I was obsessed growing up with what’s right and what’s not right, finding justice.” (1) But Paz did get a response in Israel, multiplying the number of vegans there 400% largely through his efforts. The Vegan Friendly label, demarcating approved foodstuffs, is found on many “cheese” and “meat” replacement packages and catered goods. More and more Israeli restaurants, if not wholly vegan, have appealing vegan offerings. Vegan restaurants have a placard bearing the “vegan-friendly” heart at the door. The organization, which has grown since 2012 from one person on staff, Paz, to 30, has several main activities: labeling products to certify they are vegan, putting out as much vegan publicity as possible through lectures, pamphlets, and videos, and presenting the largest vegan festival in the world in Tel Aviv, until it was apparently suspended by the covid pandemic. Vegan-Friendly has also spread its work to Europe. Vegconomist, the European vegan business magazine, has celebrated Paz’s work as well as the development of new and increasingly competitive plant-based dishes. On the future Paz says: “One option is that it [veganism] will continue to grow gradually until we get to the critical mass point, which we believe is about between 10 and 15% of the population. The second option is that we’ll get a situation that’s so bad, probably through climate change, and countries will have to address this issue very seriously. Another option is technology [as promoted by Vegconomist]. If you have lab- [grown] meat, or really advanced technology that allows you to have good vegan options, and it becomes very cheap, then that’s something that can accelerate the practice. There’s a good chance they’ll all happen at the same time. “(2) Paz also likes to say that most people are vegan right now in the way they think. Most would not want to kill the animal they eat, or watch [him or her] being killed. But they still fail to “connect the dots” between animal-killing and what’s on their plate, probably because they seriously don’t want to. (3) One person who has connected the dots is world traveler Suzy Jones, who in “Tel Aviv: a Vegan Dream” relates that “Ever since Tel Aviv has been known as a vegan hub, I have been wanting to travel here. Finally I got a chance to go to Tel Aviv and I was not disappointed!” Her accounts of meals there must now replace an actual journey to the vegan capital, unfortunately difficult in these pandemic days. “We went to Meshek Barzilay and had the sprout salad, three cheese platter, seitan burger, pumpkin steak, [pear] pie and chocolate cake. . . I would definitely come back to Tel Aviv to have this pear pie again! “The vegan fast food restaurant “Nature Boys” was right next to our hostel, so of course we had to try it. We got the protein burger, mushroom burger, quinoa salad, sweet potato fries. I love the concept that everything is vegan and nothing is fried. . . Next to the hostel was a vegan pizza restaurant called The Green Cat. We tried the large pizza with one side seitan/mushroom and the other side artichoke/olives. . . my boyfriend said it was one of the best vegan pizzas he has tasted,” virtually next only to Naples itself. (4) To be sure, there are aspects of Israeli governmental policies that are controversial and have rightly drawn widespread criticism. But it is important to realize that no country is only its political administration, and whatever one may think of that, one can always admire much else in its society. Surely, for those of us who are vegan, the successful labors of Omri Paz and the pizzas at The Green Cat are in that admirable category. May they live long and prosper. —Robert Ellwood Recipe: Cabbage Rolls 1 small cabbage 1 C cooked brown rice (⅓ cup raw rice, cooked with ¾ cup water) ½ cup ground or chopped almonds 1 small onion, chopped and sauteéd 1 large or 2 small tomatoes, chopped Brown gravy Vegan butter Seasoned salt or seasoning and salt Steam the cabbage 5 - 7 minutes; cool. Mix the rice, nuts, onion, tomato, and seasoning. Separate about 8 cabbage leaves from the head; put 2 or 3 heaping Tbsp of mixture down the center of a leaf, (amount depending on its size), and top with a pat of butter. Pin cabbage leaf closed around it with toothpicks. Bake about 20 min. in a moderate oven; serve with gravy. The first guests I served these rolls to were my father- and mother-in-law. I don’t remember his response, but my mother-in-law was delighted with them. She didn’t notice they were veg. The recipe comes from A Feast of Friendship, a cookbook assembled by some members of Orange Grove Friends of Pasadena, California, in 1986. Poetry: George Gordon, 1788 - 1824 Epitaph to a Dog Near this spot are deposited the Remains on one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, And all the virtues of Man without his Vices. This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery Is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a Dog, Who was born in Newfoundland, May 1803, And died at Newstead, November 18th 1808. When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth, Unknown to Glory but upheld by Birth, The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe, And storied urns record who rests below: When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen Not what he was, but what he should have been. But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend, The first to welcome, foremost to defend, Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own, Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone, Unhonour’d falls, unnotic’d all his worth, Deny’d in heaven the Soul he held on earth: While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven, And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven . . . . Ye! Who behold perchance this simple urn, Pass on, it honors none you wish to mourn. To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise; I never knew but one—and here he lies. –Byron