Just Say No to Seaworld, Zoos, Circuses, Animal Theme Parks

In a previous article here at VeganSamurai.org, we talked about being Vegan Lite versus being a Vegan Samurai. [Read Five Ways Being Vegan is More than Not Eating Animals].

In that article, I mentioned that a Vegan Samurai opposes all forms of animal exploitation and abuse, not just animal exploitation and abuse found in the food industry.

Circuses, zoos, aquariums, and animal theme parks are businesses that imprison, exploit, and abuse animals.

But because those facilities provide “entertainment,” and sometimes education, it’s harder for some people, even some vegans, to give them up and oppose them.

In a recent CNN article about the impacts of the movie Blackfish on SeaWorld, we read the following revealing segment:

But plenty of parents also feel like Laurie Marshall, a mom of two, who has no plans to stop taking her kids to circuses, zoos and aquariums. Marshall, whose kids are 6 and almost 10, just visited SeaWorld two weeks ago and said it was “startling” when you see “how big these creatures are and how small the tanks are.”

Still, her SeaWorld experience didn’t change her mind about bringing her kids to places where they can see animals up close.

 “First, I think it is OK to keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if it does not impede on their lifestyle,” said Marshall, who is the founder and president of Marshall Law Group. “Also, I am not the type to boycott as I don’t believe my sacrifice is going to make a difference and it would deprive my kids of their enjoyment.”

Laurie Marshall’s statements perfectly reveal the speciesism and deliberate selfishness that fuels most of the harms humans do to other animals and the planet.

Specieism is our belief that we’re the best species on the planet, and that this assumed superiority gives us the right to do whatever we want to other species and the planet.

Speciesism echoes the fact that humans are the most powerful, deadly, and consumptive species on the planet.

If by “best species” we mean to say “the species with the most power to imprison, exploit, and kill all other species,” then the description is accurate.

But might doesn’t make right, and just the fact that we can and do dominate all other animals and the earth itself provides zero moral justification to do so.

Marshall was being interviewed about notorious SeaWorld, which puts orcas and other marine mammals into small tanks.

Marshall is quoted as noticing how big the animals are, and how tiny their SeaWorld tanks are.

Thus, Marshall’s statement that it’s ok to “keep some of these animals in a contained habitat if if does not impede on their lifestyle” makes no sense at all.

The very definition of a “contained habitat” means the animals are having their natural lifestyle impeded.

I’m saddened by Marshall’s cluelessness and lack of empathy.

The article describes Marshall as the founder of a law firm. On the firm’s website, we read that Marshall for ten years was in-house counsel for Major League Baseball.

Surely an educated, wealthy woman like Laurie Marshall ought to have the brainpower to understand that if the imprisoned orcas were instead native orcas in ecosystems unspoiled by humans, the orcas would be swimming thousands of miles per year, enjoying all the benefits of open ocean and their natural social groupings.

How can anyone who even minimally understands wildlife biology believe that an orca in a tiny SeaWorld tank is living an “unimpeded lifestyle?”

We also see how Marshall’s statement reveals callousness, fatalism, a flawed sense of entitlement, and extreme selfishness.

For example, she describes it as a “sacrifice” if she was to choose not to bring her children to businesses where animals are imprisoned and harmed.

She wrongly says it won’t make any difference if she boycotts businesses where animals are imprisoned or harmed.

The actual truth is that the boycott of SeaWorld, just like boycotts that stopped rights violations such as South African apartheid, are often successful at achieving positive change.

Another animal imprisonment facility that should be boycotted is the Miami Seaquarium, where an orca has been imprisoned for many years in a tiny tank, exploited for entertainment.

Read here for more information.

In Marshall’s quest to provide “enjoyment” for her kids, she’s willing to be a customer of businesses that imprison and harm animals.

Marshall reminds me of parents who used to bring their kids to public lynchings.

Because American history has been sanitized, many of us don’t know that public lynchings of African-Americans used to be considered “family entertainment.”

Parents made picnic lunches, and a generally festive spirit abounded, similar to what you see at circuses, zoos, and places like SeaWorld.

Thousands of people partied and cheered as blacks and other minorities were tortured and killed.

There were popular postcards depicting lynchings, beatings, people tortured, dismembered, and burned alive.

When I hear someone defending zoos, circuses, SeaWorld, and similar businesses, I ask them the same question I ask people who consume meat, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs.

“If other animals did to you what you think is acceptable to do to them, how would you feel about it?”

I wonder how Marshall would feel if her two children were permanently housed in a small glass chamber where strangers paid to watch them perform tricks.

If Marshall objected to that, but doesn’t object to it being done to orcas, it’s a perfect example of speciesism.

You shouldn’t do it to her precious kids, but it’s ok to do it to other sentient animals… that’s her speciesist “logic.”

The true vegan knows that humans using animals for food is wrong for the same reason that SeaWorld, circuses, and zoos are wrong.

In all cases, it’s our species doing bad things to other species—things we wouldn’t want them to do to us.

The Vegan Samurai goal is to create a deep ecology, egalitarian world, where humans no longer feel the need to dominate, eat, imprison, experiment on, abuse, and otherwise harm animals.

It includes, but goes way beyond, dietary choices. It includes not giving your money to zoos, circuses, Vegas shows, SeaWorld, or any other business that imprisons animals.

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ZOOTOPIA: A Sweet 3-D Movie Vegans Will Love

Rest assured this article is NOT in any way a spoiler article about the fantastic new, animated Disney movie Zootopia.

This review  will enhance rather than take away from your enjoyment of this must-see film.

Here’s what I can safely tell you without spoiling this delightful cinematic adventure…

Zootopia is Full of Cute, Charismatic Animals

This movie has the highest cute animal quotient I’ve ever seen. From the opening scene to the rocking credits finale, you’re going to be saying “Aww, how cute.”

I saw Zootopia 3-D in a theater crowded with children of all ages, including tiny babies.

They laughed and squealed with delight at the animation’s vibrantly stylized, beautifully conceived renderings of animals from bunnies to elephants, and their astoundingly fanciful city habitat.

Zootopia is All About Biodiversity

The mainstream reviews (most of which are spoilers) say the movie’s about prejudice and human ethnic diversity, and I can see why they say that.

But they don’t even mention animal rights, biodiversity, animal liberation… all of which are embedded in Zootopia.

The film gives human-like characteristics and cultural habits to dozens of non-human species, but also showcases the actual species-specific talents of animals in ways that educate us that every animal species is as amazing as we are, in its own way.

Viewers leave the movie with way more appreciation for animal diversity than if they’d have gone to an animal imprisonment facility such as zoos and aquarium.

Zootopia is a Female Empowerment Film

In its choice of female protagonist, this sweet movie reminds one of another stellar animated movie: Inside Out.

The female lead character is an inspiring role model for all of us, especially young girls.

She’s a lot more admirable than Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus.

Zootopia is clearly making a vivid case for gender equality among all species!

Zootopia is Against Animal Experimentation & Vivisection

Part of the plot is driven by a theme about experimenting on animals, and contains warnings about greed, ego, and political corruption.

Zootopia is Eloquently Voiced By Top Actors & Actresses… And the Music is Great Too

The entire ensemble cast that voices this delightful movie is in top form.

With luminaries like Jason Bateman, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, and Shakira, you’ll enjoy listening to this movie’s dialogue as much as seeing its flawless animation.

The musical score by Michael Giachhino is powerful and hip.

Shakira brings the house down with the cutest animal music video ever in the dance-friendly hit song Try Everything.

Zootopia is Receiving Rave Reviews & Big Box Office

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calls Zootopia “subversive,” and that’s exactly what it is.

Especially for an animated film not released during school holidays, it’s grossing big at the box office, and both critics and audiences are giving it rave reviews.

One critic said it’s the best Disney film since Beauty and the Beast.

Others describe Zootopia as fascinating, thought-provoking, compelling, hilarious, extraordinarily imaginative, as meaningful for adults as for children, and revolutionary.

The film’s plot is funny, sassy, and non-stop fun.  There’s not a boring moment in its entire 108 minutes.

Don’t leave the theater until the last frame has run, because this high-quality movie keeps on delivering until the last word of the end credits!

That’s why I’m going back to the theater soon to see Zootopia 3-D again.

I didn’t even do that for Avatar.

Please support this adorable animal-loving movie by seeing it in 3-D on the big screen before it leaves your local theater!

 

Five Ways Being Vegan Includes More than Not Eating Animals

There’s a form of veganism that a Vegan Samurai calls “Vegan Lite.”

Vegan Lite is…

A person doesn’t consume any food products derived from the capture, domination of, enslavement, torture, or killing of animals.

This includes eggs, dairy, fish, and meat.

The Vegan Lite person limits their vegan activism to their dietary choices.

In contrast, an authentic “Vegan Samurai” refuses to participate in any industry that exploits and harm animals.

Here’s what I mean…

The Vegan Samurai Opposes the Animal Entertainment Industry

The animal entertainment industry includes circuses, Seaworld, zoos, rodeos, dolphin encounter businesses, and other facilities that take animals away from their natural habitats, biological pathways, and social groupings.

The zoo and animal theme park industries claim their facilities educate people about and expose them to animals, but the most pervasive message animal captivity facilities implant in peoples’ heads is that animals have no rights to live as Nature intended, and are ours to capture, cage, and gawk at.

There are limited exceptions one could make for wildlife rehab centers and farm animal sanctuaries, although I’ve seen examples where both of these categories are actually exploiting animals rather than helping them.

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Using Animals for Clothing & Other Materials

For centuries, trapping of animals for fur has been one of the most brutal ways humans abuse animals.

In the modern era, so-called “fur farms” imprison, enslave, and often electrocute animals so their furs can be made into fancy coats for humans.

We also see cows, pigs, and other animals skinned alive so leather, pigskin, and other materials can be made into wallets, shoes, gloves, coats, and other items that instead could  be made with materials from non-animal sources.

Animals in the wild are hunted for furs, or for ludicrous uses such as “bearskin rugs.”

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Hunting & Fishing

Other than the few remote, indigenous native peoples whose cultures have no choice but to rely on hunting for sustenance, nobody on the planet needs to hunt to eat.

They do it because they like to kill innocent animals, not because they have to do it.

Hunting and fishing are nothing more than humans invading the homes of other animals, using vehicles, dogs, hooks, boats, overwhelming firepower and other means to murder animals that haven’t done anything wrong, and can’t fight back.

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Vivisection (Animal Experimentation)

The horrors of vivisection in some cases are more disgusting even than the terrible atrocities you see in undercover videos that expose the animal foods industry.

And the “benefits” of vivisection are vastly overstated.

In fact, the defense given for vivisection is that vivisection helps humans develop medical treatments and medicines, and is wholly based on specieism (the belief that our species is more important than all other species).

I’ve spoken to animal experimenters who actually say things like, “If I have to stick electrodes into the heads of kittens so I can help even one human, it’s worth it.”

The real truth is that most vivisection is unnecessary if not inapplicable to human medical needs, experiments can be conducted without animals, and a lot of animal experimentation is conducted for ridiculous purposes, such as the torture done to rabbits by eye make-up companies.

A Vegan Samuria also opposes transgenic experimentation, such as the creation of chimeras that are part non-human animal, part human animal.

We oppose Frankenstein experiments done with animals!

The Vegan Samurai Opposes Animals Used for Labor

Have you seen the incredible movie War Horse?

One of the most powerful scenes is when majestic horses are harnessed and used to pull heavy military equipment, which injures and kills them.

Contrary to the nostalgic way we’ve been taught to look at oxen and horses hooked up to plows and other human machinery, the Vegan Samurai opposes ALL use of animals for labor.

Why? Because animals can never give us explicit, non-coerced, voluntary consent to what we want them to do.

And yes, this includes “service dogs.”

I realize that people who are Vegan Lite may initially feel the Vegan Samurai paradigm is challenging, shocking, or “too extreme.”

But I can assure you the Vegan Samurai paradigm is well-analyzed and totally solid from the perspective of logical, ethical consistency.

If it’s wrong to be a customer of a food industry that imprisons, enslaves, and harms animals, then it’s wrong to be a customer of other industries (such as zoos, aquariums, circuses, animal experimentation labs, rodeos, animal labor, etc.) that also harm animals by imprisoning and harming them.

I urge everyone who’s a vegan to adopt the Vegan Samurai paradigm as described above.

It’s the most all-encompassing, morally-consistent vegan paradigm, and it cleanses you from being a participant in any system that harms animals.

What Happens When a Vegan has a Non-Vegan Lover or Spouse?

One of the most poignant conversations I ever had was with a woman whose deeply-held religious beliefs led her to become a vegan… but her husband didn’t share her views and loved to eat meat, dairy, eggs, and fish.

The marriage was falling apart because of the pair’s divergent dietary choices.

The husband labeled his wife a “looney” and “hippie” for recognizing that harming animals isn’t moral.

The wife labeled her husband immoral for not recognizing that his dietary choices support a system that egregiously harms and kills animals.

There were practical problems as well.

They had children; the woman wondered how she could make vegan meals the children would enjoy and that would also be nutritious.

The wife was eager to make vegan foods for her whole family, but her husband scorned veganism, and insisted she prepare flesh foods.

She ended up spending a lot more time in the kitchen than she wanted to, creating one menu for herself, and another for her family.

She solved part of the problem by using cookbooks such as Kitchen Divided: Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households, by Ellen Jaffe Jones.

Jones is rather controversial, in that she advises vegans make serious dietary compromises.

Another book she used was Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbookby Isa Moskowitz.

Specifically to please her kids, and to ensure they got good nutrition, she consulted Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes, by Dreena Burton.

But even though vegan foods are tastier and more healthful than non-vegan foods, those cookbooks didn’t solve the marriage’s underlying problems, one of which was that her husband didn’t share her religious view that it’s ethically wrong to harm non-human animals.

The other  problem was deeper and more revealing: the husband wasn’t sensitive to the pain he caused his wife by refusing to even consider going vegan.

The way she saw it, he cared more about satisfying his desire to consume meat, dairy, fish, and eggs than he did about his wife’s conscience and feelings.

This wasn’t the only way he showed indifference to her feelings– he smoked cigarettes.

She’d pleaded with him to give up cigarettes for the sake of his health, the children, and the financial cost of smoking.

But as with his flesh-eating, he didn’t care about the harms he was doing.

He said he liked smoking, it was “too hard” to quit, and he was going to keep on doing it whether she liked it or not.

The couple went to marriage counseling.

The counselor asked the husband to consider the win-win aspects of creating a vegan family, and of giving up cigarettes.

The family’s health would improve.

Their food costs would decrease.

The wife (who did all the cooking) would spend less time cooking.

And most importantly, adopting veganism would show the wife that her husband loved her enough to give up a bad habit in order to avoid harming innocent animals.

I wish there was a happy ending to this story.

The wife spent two years accommodating her husband’s non-vegan diet.

Fortunately, her children became vegan.

Immediately, their health improved. They learned to love vegan foods, and lost all their craving for the regular junk foods, fast foods, and flesh foods that most people eat.

But her husband became more and more intransigent.

Eventually, the woman realized he didn’t love her enough, or in the right way.

“It hurts to say this, but he loved his steaks, fried chicken, and barbecue more than he loved me and the kids,” she told me.

They’re now separated, heading towards divorce.

If you’re in an intimate relationship with a non-vegan, it doesn’t have to end or end badly, but it might.

Being a Vegan Samurai involves sacrifice, and hard choices.

If you’re a vegan intimately involved with a non-vegan, you have to question your own ethics.

If your spouse or lover was involved in dealing heroin, in child molestation, in Wall Street fraud and abuse, or other moral wrongs, would you continue being in love with that person?

Would you feel comfortable giving them the benefits of your body, love, partnership, and care?

Only you can decide if the person you’re intimately involved with is worth staying involved with if they’re a customer of the worldwide system that exploits, tortures, and kills billions of innocent animals every year.

There are many analogies I could use to summarize the situation often described as a “vegan mixed marriage.”

In the Christian Bible, a New Testament teaching advises followers of Christ not to be joined in marriage with an “unbeliever.”

During the American Civil War, families were fractured, brother fought in battle against brother, because some family members believed it was acceptable to own humans as slaves, but others opposed slavery.

When segregation and racist lynchings were still a part of the American experience in the 1960s, families and marriages split up when a family member or spouse refused to reject racism.

When Americans oppose immoral wars, such as the Vietnam War or the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, marriages and other partnerships were torn asunder when a person of conscience refused to be joined intimately with someone who lacked conscience.

Being a vegan is not just a dietary choice… it’s a moral, social, and spiritual issue.

The problems of a mixed marriage involving vegan and non-vegan aren’t just about a crowded refrigerator, logistical problems at meal-time, or a vegan having to see and smell dead animals being consumed at the dinner table.

It’s about right and wrong, empathy, and what people are willing to do to create peace with their own conscience and with those around them.

If you’re a vegan man or woman, sharing your body, sexuality, money, life, heart and mind with someone who eats animal foods, someone voluntarily complicit in the system of genocide and ecocide that torments and kills billions of sentient animals per year, you really have to consider your level of devotion to vegan principles, and to defending innocent animals against the human onslaught.

I personally have turned down explicit offers of sex and romance from attractive women, solely because those women consumed animal foods and wouldn’t consider becoming vegan.

I won’t intimately share my body, mind, or heart with someone who is so cold-hearted.

I hope your devotion to conscience, ethics, and innocent animals, will outweigh your devotion to a human who harms innocent animals.