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Part I – Tina Leigh
Tina is the founder of Haute Health and author of Balanced Raw and Superfood Juices and Smoothies. She is passionate about raising the bar on wellness and uses a variety of holistic services to support small businesses and individuals in achieving whole being transformation. She is a therapeutic chef, certified holistic health practitioner, author, public speaker, and entrepreneur.
Part II – Marc Bekoff
Marc Bekoff is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has worked alongside leading writers and activists including Jane Goodall, Peter Singer, and PETA cofounder Ingrid Newkirk. He lives in Boulder, CO.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I
Caryn Hartglass: Hello Everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me today. It is a chilly November 5th. The weather just is doing what it always does – getting cooler, and that’s okay just as long as you have what you need to stay warm and dry and cozy. And I hope you are warm and dry and cozy at this moment so you can sit back and relax for this hour where we talk about my favorite subject, food. I wanted to let you know before we get started with today’s guest I happen to be the featured force on the website The Blooming Platter, thebloomingplatter.com. And you may remember – I’m not sure when it was – that I interviewed Betsy DeJulio, the author of the cookbook, The Blooming Platter, a beautiful book. And she has a website thebloomingplatter.com. And she recently started a vegan Q&A Tuesday, and it’s kind of based on James Lipton’s famous Q&A on the Inside the Actor’s Studio, you might be familiar with that. But it was kind of fun. She gave me some questions – I answered them, and you can see my responses on thebloomingplatter.com. If you go there, let me know what you think! And you can check out the other featured forces. Last month was – I think it was Brianna Grogan. I’m looking on the website here, and let’s see. Oh well, you can check it out on your own. Oh yeah… it was Brianna Clark Grogan. And then Robin Robertson, and then me, and next month it will be Nava Atlas and then Laura Theodore. All lovely women who love the kind of food that I love. All right, let’s move on to my first guest Tina Leigh, who is the founder of Haute Health and author of Balanced Raw and Superfood Juices and Smoothies. She’s passionate about raising the bar on wellness and uses a variety of holistic services to support small businesses and individuals on achieving whole being transformation. She’s a therapeutic chef, certified holistic health practitioner, and author, public speaker, and entrepreneur. We’re going to be talking about her book, Balanced Raw. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Tina!
Tina Leigh: Hi Caryn, thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here today.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, thank you. Now, lately I’ve been asking a lot of guests if I’ve pronounced their name correctly, so I’m going to ask you – is it Leigh? Is it Leigh? How do you pronounce your name?
Tina Leigh: Leigh. Yeah. I’ll answer to both, but it’s Leigh.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, good, I got it right. And is it Haute Health?
Tina Leigh: Haute Health or “Hot” Health, depending where you are in the world. In Europe it might be “Haute” and here we refer to it as “Hot.” So “H-A-U-T-E” can be either way.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, so how is it…does it have a different meaning? I’m taking the French version of it as “high.”
Tina Leigh: Haute Health, yeah it’s like haute couture, high fashion, high couture— the same thing for nutrition, yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I speak French so I don’t like pronouncing the “H.” [Laughter] I just wonder what Americans do with those words.
Tina Leigh: [Laughter] Sometimes it just comes out as “hot.”
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, okay, well “hot health.” Well, whatever. It’s a great name and you have a website – however you want to say it. [Laughter] hautehealthnow.com
Tina Leigh: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And you don’t need to know how to say it. You just need to go there, visit, and learn the secrets to happy delicious living, right?
Tina Leigh: That’s right. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Good. Alright, so briefly just give us a little of your story. How did you get here from… wherever?
Tina Leigh: Sure. It’s been quite a journey, but the short version is that years ago I had a lot of illnesses as a child and well into my 20s and being – and living—in the Western world I adopted Western medicine and went the conventional route, and ended up amassing huge medical bills that were – with no end in sight in covering those. You could name every illness, I would somehow get it. These conditions got so severe, and I just got really fed up and decided that I needed to do something radical at that time to shake things up then I adopted more of Eastern philosophy, which is a lot about bringing harmony and balance back to the body, right, so Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine, things of that nature were bringing nutrition into the picture. It’s what ultimately helped me heal. It was a long recovery, but a path that along the way I discovered I wasn’t alone and that there were many people like me who had conditions and illness and just dis-ease that our Western medical system wasn’t addressing in entirety and that is where I was inspired to go down the path that I have to help bring this message to the masses, and to stimulate awareness around the importance of clean eating and the importance of clean thinking, and mindful eating and mindful living. And along the way I was able to write, both on my blog and the book Balanced Raw and my latest Superfood Juices and Smoothies. And that’s where I’m at now is promoting those and working with clients that via those materials.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s great! And what I like to do on this show… I talk a lot about food, obviously, it’s all about food. Often I bring on different people who have had individual experiences – a health crisis, one or another – and have found that foods were a big piece of their getting well, and I think it’s important to hear all the individual stories because everybody that’s listening, they might relate to one or another, or they might have a relative or a friend that’s experiencing something specific and sometimes when we talk about how healthy foods and healthy diet can reduce the risk of every chronic disease people may not get it. They may not relate to it. They need to hear an individual story of somebody who had something like they experienced and latch onto that. So your story is important, your work is important. Of course we need everyone talking about this. I’m looking at a bizarro.com cartoon, if you’re familiar with Bizarro, but it’s a guy in a white coat in a classroom and it’s entitled “First Day of Med School” and he’s pointing to the blackboard and it says “Preventative Medicine Kills Return Business!” [Laughter] Tina Leigh: [Laughter] Right?
Caryn Hartglass: So you were going through conventional medicine here in the Western world and it wasn’t solving any of your problems and your bills just kept getting bigger and bigger.
Tina Leigh: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Because that’s return business.
Tina Leigh: Exactly, and it’s the common suffering in our culture here in America. I feel that, you know, like I said, I wasn’t alone. The listeners recognize they’re not alone. They may feel like it sometimes.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, absolutely. So are there names for some of the specific things that you had?
Tina Leigh: Sure, at 18 years old I was diagnosed with melanoma. That came out of seemingly out of nowhere, so that was the biggest one. I’ll go big and then work backwards. And I had really severe Ulcerative Colitis in my digestion, completely screwed up. I had been on Accutane, unfortunately, for three years straight that I was never advised to not be on it, and it eradicates your healthy digestion really.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. All the good flora, gone.
Tina Leigh: It destroys villi and all the good bacteria. Exactly. And I had really chronic rashes and kind of hives skin conditions that would occur frequently. I was highly allergic to a lot of environmental factors like smoke, perfumes; things would make my throat tighten up if I came across a perfume, or any kind of paint, fumes of paint, gasoline. I was really highly sensitive – I shouldn’t say allergic – highly sensitive to these environmental toxins.
Caryn Hartglass: You know that’s a good thing you bring up. What people don’t realize – especially those of us who are allergic, or highly allergic to different things – when there body is already inflamed from eating the wrong foods, you’re going to be more sensitive to your environment, and if you clean all that up and get rid of your inflammation it may or may not get rid of your allergies, but it will definitely reduce them.
Tina Leigh: Absolutely, and those were environmental as well as food allergies and sensitivities.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, none of the people talk about that so I’m glad you brought that up. And now you’re beautiful and healthy, right?
Tina: Oh, well, thank you! And I will say, I feel better now than I have ever felt in my life and a lot of it has to do with – like you were describing here- the foods we eat, what we put into our bodies and how we digest and assimilate that is essential, and we want to make sure we’re eating the foods at our individual level that are most absorbable and assimilated in our unique constitution. So there’s a lot of diets, again, in our Western culture that are like the one answer; it’s the one diet that, the single diet that’s going to solve everyone’s problems, make them feel better, and not have illness, but what works for you isn’t necessarily going to work for me and that’s where Balanced Raw comes in because it addresses the individual, which is really essential in the healing process, or just in the healthy living all together.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so on the one hand we’re not alone because there are all kinds of people there that are experiencing ridiculous health problems, very severe, very serious, but on the other hand we’re all unique. Not alone, but unique. And plant foods can work for us individually in wonderful ways.
Tina Leigh: Yes, yes. And there is a knack in discovering what that looks like for us, and clean plant foods have a tremendously high vibration compared to those that are denatured and harder to digest, which would be animal proteins. Those that are more easily digestible, we find, that it does elevate our internal vibrations, our abilities of our bodies to heal themselves.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s an interesting concept, vibration, and it’s not something that current science talks about a lot or has a lot of evidence for, but I think we’ll be learning more about it in the future as our science gets more sophisticated, because there are definitely things that we don’t know about, and energy is very, very magical and there’s a lot of mystery involved and I look forward to learning more about it because we are all energy, and it’s important that we consume the right kind of energy that works with us and not against us.
Tina Leigh: Right
Caryn Hartglass: So you’ve written a four week program, Balanced Raw. So can we just touch on what goes on in those four weeks?
Tina Leigh: Yes, of course. So the very first week is all about elimination and getting all the junk out of the diet, which would be processed foods, those ridden with chemicals, and I even spell out some of those chemicals that are really common, that are highly toxic, you know your aspartames for example. And I go into what those are in a list format as well as what they cause in our bodies; the inflammation or the disease that they cause. So this first week is about getting it out of your pantry, getting it out of your house, getting it out of your eating environment, and finding those ingredients and foods that are more healthful and nutritive alternatives that you can bring into the eating environment so that they’re at the forefront of your experience so they’re accessible to you always, whereas the other ones are removed. It also talks about eliminating those foods that are more difficult to digest or break down. We were just talking about animal proteins, for example. And getting the body prepared for a more cleansing experience – it’s always nice to ease into a cleanse or a detox – so this is that easing period.
Caryn Hartglass: So when we talk about elimination, that means getting things out of the body, and then they have to come out, and a lot of people don’t like to talk about that part of it, but whenever we change our diet – whether it’s a good diet or a bad diet – our bowels change, our movements change, and that can be kind of shocking to people. I mean it can be, and as you said, we’re all unique, and our response can be dramatically different.
Tina Leigh: For sure, I’m glad you bring that up Caryn. And I do address that in the book to things to be aware of so that we’re not frightened if we’re frequently eliminating waste or if we’re stopped up for a little while, and what you can do to balance either situation to make it more comfortable for you to go through the process, and also how to learn to accept that that is part of the natural process. Because, like you said, it can be scary or uncomfortable and for somebody who’s not prepared emotionally or just with information, they may stop the program or they may go a different direction because they weren’t ready.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t think we’ve mentioned this before. This book is a mix of raw foods and minimally cooked plant foods. It’s not 100% raw foods, and that’s what you mean by “balanced raw.”
Tina Leigh: Right, yes.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s important, and we can talk more about that. I just wanted to say that I was talking to someone this week who wanted to know more about healthy food and one thing that he was doing was going to a raw food restaurant and for three days was buying different dishes there to do a cleanse, and I was asking him a number of questions. There’s a lot of wonderful raw food restaurants out there, but some of them in order to satisfy people, in order to make them feel full and sated, their dishes are full of nuts, oil, and salt. And you feel full and then kind of sick afterwards because it’s too rich, so people can be confused about what raw food is. Just like any diet, there’s a wide range of what is raw and it’s not all idea.
Tina Leigh: Yeah, I’m glad you bring that up. That’s basically chapter one of the book, all about the fats. And concentrated fats – that’s our oils – and what happens when we eat too much fat as well as what happens when we consume oils that have been sitting in a shelf, as they do in a café, or in a restaurant, or on the shelf in the grocery store. They become toxic because they’re oxidizing when exposed to heat, light, air, and we then are eating through those kind of oils – concentrated fats – toxins, when it would serve us better to have the whole fat in an avocado or the fats from coconut or the fats from nuts and seeds so we’re not overdoing it. Enough pate or enough spread in a traditional raw restaurant can give us a week’s worth of fat in one sitting. It’s pretty unreal, and you’re right, it’s delicious and it’s sating, and it makes us feel good, but it’s good temporarily. And then you get this block up traffic jam in the digestive system because it’s too much to process. We cannot process that much fat at once or that much protein at once, and you have that issue of digestibility again.
Caryn Hartglass: You know you mentioned aspartame, which is one of those horrible, evil things out there and so many people consume it in their diet foods and their diet drinks, and I just like to repeat this as often as I can because most people don’t realize that aspartame increases your appetite. And if people are drinking diet soda it’s because they don’t want to have the calories. They don’t realize that it’s a vicious circle and it makes you want to eat more and it’s also wreaking havoc on your body because it’s not something that’s meant to be in your body.
Tina Leigh: Yeah, thanks for mentioning that. That’s the case for so many chemicals. They’re chemicals. They stimulate a neurological reaction.
Caryn Hartglass: They’re manmade chemicals.
Tina Leigh: Right, they’re supposed to be in there… they’re in there to stimulate the desire to eat them more
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly, return business!
[laughter] Tina Leigh: Precisely, I am liking that cartoon.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s just funny that I got it today. Well, people know what I’m interested in so they’re always sending me fun things. Ok, what happens week two?
Tina Leigh: Yeah, so week two: Once you’ve eliminated, we move into the detox and cleansing phase, and it’s light – it’s a lot of blended soups; easily digestible.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m looking at the cooling sweet pea and mint soup.
Tina Leigh: Oh, so good, and it can be served warm this time if year because it’s getting a little chillier. You could have that warm, and there’s some smoothies in year and other tonics, and light salads that are more easily digestible and so you learn in the second week what sort of nutrients really help facilitate deeper cleansing, and that’s dandelion root, or milk thistle, or glutathione and sulfur. It talks about those, and those nutrients are actually in the dishes of these recipes to support that week. It also goes into talking about detoxing steps, things that help you – as I was just mentioning – things that help you with what happens if I’m pooping more or not enough, or if I’m tired/fatigued or have a headache because I’m detoxing. It talks about ways to make it through it with grace, if you will.
[Laughter] Tina Leigh: And then the recipes, and then it’s a nice segue into chapter three, which is really exciting. It’s week three – not chapter three – and that’s reintroducing some cooked foods into the diet because in week two you take the cooked foods out, and week three is restoring those, and it also gives you a whole section on how to test for food allergens and food sensitivities at home, where through certain evaluation questions you’re able to discover: does the food disrupt – is it disrupting- my well-being? And I give examples of what to test on particular days and making notes of it in a journal so you can take a look down the list and say ‘wow, I find it interesting that as I reintroduce corn into my diet, or soy into my diet, or peanuts into my diet, or any other common allergen, what was my boy’s response?’
Caryn Hartglass: And we have to take responsibility, and our doctors can’t know everything about us. Only we know how we feel inside.
Tina Leigh: Yeah, and it’s really important. You know, we can go to a naturopath, for example, or another doctor and have a food allergy panel, and those— I’ve had it done myself a couple of times and so have many of my clients, and they serve us well as a guide, but what this part – most of what this book is about and my message to listeners and clients is that that’s all really great material to work with but it’s not the end answer. The end answer is within and what our body is telling us. It will tell us before a blood test will if something isn’t working within our constitution and so this teaches us how to check in. And it’s not only for common food allergens, but to be aware whenever we are eating, how do I feel afterwards? Am I sluggish? Am I congested? Did I not sleep as well? Did I not poop normally? Did I have gas or bloating? So it gets us to– this section of the book anyway, really talks about that and it’s a great guide for learning how to listen to what our bodies are wanting to tell us.
Caryn Hartglass: And the only way you’re gonna know is if you write things down, because our memories are not that good and you might have a symptom and say ‘oh, did I have, oh I think I had this yesterday, that must have been it. And we really have no way of knowing unless we really carefully watch for the trends and write things down.
Tina Leigh: Absolutely, and it evolves over time, right? What’s not working for me today might work tomorrow.
Caryn Hartglass: It changes, right.
Tina Leigh: Yep, it changes with our stress factors in life, level of anxiety, how much rest we’re getting. You know, what are we eating? Where are we living? What’s the climate? What’s the time of day? These are all variables that- it’s a lot to think about when you’re beginning this kind of a lifestyle. It becomes second nature once you’ve been doing it a while.
Caryn Hartglass: Now people like to snack, and in week three you’ve got kale chips and you’ve got parsnip chips. Parsnip chips. Say that three times fast. Parsnip chips.
[Laughter] Tina Leigh: I’ll let you say it three times fast.
Caryn Hartglass: But, so much better than anything you can find in the store in a bag with oil and salt, and a lot of manipulation, it’s just real food.
Tina Leigh: Yep. there’s another one in there too for the sweeter side. I’m more of the salty snack person, but I do like the occasional sweet, and there’s some lemon bars in there that are just super yummy. They’re tangy with fresh lemon juice, and there’s a little undertone of vanilla, and they’re sweetened with dates, and so you get a whole sugar as opposed to a concentrated syrup like agave or something.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Very good. Now you talk a bit about water, and we cannot forget how important water is. We’re made up mostly of water, and a lot of times, that’s the simplest cure to what ails us. We could be feeling so many things, and it’s because we are dehydrated.
Tina Leigh: And often times by the time we’re thirsty, we’re dehydrated.
Caryn Hartglass: So you talk about what we should do with water—drink it, of course.
Tina Leigh: Yeah, drink it! I talk about as kind of a guideline, if you will, and this isn’t entirely backed by enough science, but in experience with as many people that I worked with, and all of the research that I have done, usually half your weight in ounces. So that’s a good barometer for the day, and you want it to be filtered clean water. If that means purchasing a filter for your home, absolutely. If that means buying filtered bottled water, way better than tap, because I talk about all of the different toxins that are in our water supply, unfortunately, and we don’t want to be drinking those. If we can attach a filter to our shower, that’s also a great idea because our skin being our largest organ, is absorbing all of those toxins as well. So I do go into that.
Caryn Hartglass: Don’t forget our skin is our largest organ, everything’s going in. It’s so easy to forget these things. Now, I know what most people say, and this is the last thing I want to talk about before I let you go, because we’re almost at the end of the half hour: too much work. People go, too much, this is too much trouble. I hear this all the time. I’m very passionate about this, I personally think that if you want to feel great, and my listeners know I’m always saying this, you don’t know how good you can feel! But everything takes time, takes effort, and what do you counsel your clients? How do you motivate them to want to dig in and do what’s necessary?
Tina Leigh: Couple of things. First is what I mentioned before, it is a process, and it starts out being a little bit bumpy at first, but it becomes second nature over time, it really does! That’s the first thing. Second of all, get the support, whether that be, get your family on track with whatever the intention is, to elevate your feeding experience and your lifestyle. Try your best to not go it alone, and invite those that are friends and family to join in the effort with you. Then also look to resources that resonate with you, and that you do what you can. I just recently had a woman who bought the book, and was doing the program with her husband, and they were getting just the most resounding results, and updating me frequently on my Facebook and otherwise. She would send me text messages and say, “I’m traveling, and there’s only this restaurant in this small town. Can I eat there?” My message back was, you do what you can, because the stress alone with make us sick, and so you do the best you can as often as you can. That’s huge in my guidance because we will lose our minds if we just try to do it all so perfect all the time. We’re human, we’re going to celebrate, we’re going to imbibe, we’re going to enjoy things. So that’s the other key, do what you can, and don’t force yourself to do more than you can keep up with. As you do that week after week, month after month, you will find you’ll just be in a completely different experience after a while.
Caryn Hartglass: Tina, thank you very much for joining me on It’s All About Food with Balanced Raw.
Tina Leigh: Thank you Caryn, it’s been great.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, and visit hautehealthnow.com for more on Tina and her information. Ok, have a great day! We’re going to take a little break.
Tina Leigh: I just wanted to mention during the break, maybe you’ll go to responsibleeatingandliving.com, that’s my website, and I wanted to recommend scrolling down a little bit on the right-hand column to where it says Real Water, Water Made Wonderful. We talked about water, and it’s so important to have clean water. I distill my water, and I found a company that makes distillers in the United States, this is a rare thing having something made in the United States. If you click on that link you’ll learn more about that company and their distiller products, I recommend them. All right, let’s take a break, and when we come back we’re going to talk to Marc Bekoff about his new book, Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed.
Transcribed by Andrea Lloyd and Sarah Gumz, 1/24/2014
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: You’re listening to It’s All About Food on a chilly November 5th, 2013. I’m going to introduce my next guest. Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has worked alongside leading writers and activists including Jane Goodall , Peter Singer and PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk. He lived in Boulder, Colorado. That’s a very, very brief bio because this man has done many amazing things, written many great books and so much more. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Marc.
Marc Bekoff: It’s great to be here Caryn. Thanks for having me again.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, thank you so much. I’ve just finished reading Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed. I was very excited to find out about it because I did not know that you were writing a blog column on Psychology Today.
Marc Bekoff: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: On one hand I’m really glad I found it, on the other hand my book list has just grown like a thousand things I now have to read.
Marc Bekoff: There’s a lot out there but I’m hoping you will enjoy what I write.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s what’s exciting, there’s a lot out there about animals. I believe that…well…we have this horrible history as humans I think where we’ve done so many terrible things. We do a lot of wonderful things but we’ve done some terrible things and a lot of it just comes from ignorance and not really understanding what we’re doing. We treat fellow humans too often without respect or integrity and we certainly do that with other nonhuman animals.
Marc Bekoff: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: We’ll talk about that in a minute. We just need to learn once we open our minds to what’s really in front of us, we’re just going to soar. And I believe that a lot of the work that you highlight in this book is the beginning of that.
Marc Bekoff: Really what the book is all about…I’ve written about 500 essays for Psychology Today and there’s a little more than a hundred in there. What I really try to cover are the new and exciting discoveries like mice displaying empathy, chickens and rat displaying empathy. We’ve just learned recently that a fish actually uses their head to indicate where there’s food. In ethology or the study of animal behavior, we call that referential communication. It used to be thought that only humans did it and we know other animals do it now. And so one thing after another in terms of animal consciousness, animal sension, animal cognition, animal emotions and it’s just incredible what we’re learning about other animals. So that’s what I try to do in these essays, just make them digestible to people, you know don’t compromise on the science but really present them so that non-scientists can read them.
Caryn Hartglass: Humans have had this opinion—we—I guess I have to include myself in this group. I like to think sometimes that maybe I’m part alien, but maybe not. Anyway, humans have believed that we are the most amazing of all the species, the most superior, the most intelligent and it’s really not a good idea to think that way and once we get humble and realize that all species have something to offer to this world.
Marc Bekoff: Right. The bottom line, and I say it in the book, is that animals, including human animals, need to do what they need to do to be card-carrying members of their species. What that really means is that we do amazing things, you’re right as you said in the beginning, we do some pretty nasty things but we do a lot of wonderful things and so do other animals. We can’t fly like birds or hear ultrasound or very low frequency sounds like elephants and whales but we can do other things. Really what we’re learning in study of behavior when you really look at it from a biological point of view, is that it doesn’t get us anywhere to say oh dogs are more intelligent than cats or cats more intelligent than bees. Really what we have to look at is how do they do as members of their own species? And that’s what I think is definitely one of the main messages of my book.
Caryn Hartglass: From a psychological point of view, and I’m not psychologist or a psychiatrist or any of that but I do read a lot, a lot of what we do as humans is out of fear.
Marc Bekoff: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: We fear a lot of things, and we do unfortunate things because of that. When I was reading this book I kept thinking about the opinions or the feelings that we have towards other humans. When people came from Europe to the United States and encountered the Indians they just thought the Indians were not as civilized, they were barbaric. They just didn’t understand their culture, their language, their way of living and we looked down on them.
Marc Bekoff: Right. That’s exactly what people do about other animals.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.
Marc Bekoff: If you don’t understand other nonhuman or human animals or don’t appreciate them, they become second-class citizens and then we start assigning value. When we don’t understand something we fear it and that’s actually a very cogent point because when we fear other animals what happens is we treat them differently and we usually treat them and take advantage of them in order to dominate them. And so one of the things that I try to point out is that well sure, we should fear other animals. They can be dangerous. I’ve had many close encounters with cougars, mountain lions and black bears and some of my friends say, oh that’s really cool. And I say no, there was nothing cool about it at all. But I met them, I’m ok. Where I live I have these animals in my neighborhood and so I just have to take care and respect the fact that I moved in to their house. I like to say I redecorated nature. I really think that what we’re learning, that as we learn more and more about animals, that fear will disappear.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s so many different little tidbits in here. If you read each article there’s often a link or a recommended reading to learn more about each item. A few things that stood out for me, I’ll just mention them briefly. You mention a study about how people who live with cats have a lower risk of heart disease or heart attacks. You had a fascinating article about what’s in urine and what fascinates dogs about urine because they’re so sensitive to smell and all the things that they learn from it. I just want to stop there for a minute. That was so fascinating. There’s just so much information in urine that dogs take advantage of.
Marc Bekoff: Yes and so do other animals. You know like rodents, elephants and that gets back to the point we were making before is that animals do what they need to do to be members of their species. If you’re a card-carrying dog you better have a really good sniffer.
Caryn Hartglass: We look at that and we say eww, that’s gross, they’re sticking their nose and it’s dirty but they’re decoding and we could take advantage of that if we could understand what was going on.
Marc Bekoff: Right. As we learn about the different sensory modes that animals use we could use that to not only learn about them but also to just basically come to understand how we can treat them better and what they need. We all know that if you live with dogs that certain high frequency sounds really freak them out, certain odors are stressful to them. Male birds, especially sing and when they hear certain songs, certain noise in their environment, it can really bother them. As we learn more and more about the natural behavior of these animals it will really translate over to how we treat them, how we house them, how we walk them, how we view them and so to me it’s a no-brainer that as we’re learning more about their behavior we really will learn also more about ourselves. That’s another message in the book of how when we do good things for animals and earth we feel good and when we harm other animals we really suffer the indignities.
Caryn Hartglass: That reminded me. You have many different articles early in the book about dogs and you talked about the unconditional love that dogs give humans. Most of us know this but what I loved is that you wrote that their giving unconditional love brings love back to them. Their human guardians feel tremendous love for their dog and that made me think that’s all the more reason for all of us to love unconditionally as many people as we possibly can to put out love because love comes back.
Marc Bekoff: Yes. A few times in the book I have used the phrase “compassion begets compassion” and basically the opposite–violence begets violence. I was just reading an interesting story about how people who feel really good about themselves tend to display more empathy and compassion for others. I always tell people you don’t have to worry about running out of compassion credits. You really don’t because they’ll come back at you and when you get more compassion coming at you then what happens is you basically then can give it to others. It’s a win-win situation.
Caryn Hartglass: So when humans talk about how superior we are some of the things that are listed are the fact that we use tools and we communicate and we’re learning more about how other animals use tools and other animals have their own language and way of communicating.
Marc Bekoff: Right. We know that there’s a species of bird called New Caledonian crows who live in New Caledonia and they fashion and use tools that are more sophisticated than tools that chimpanzees make. We know that prairie dogs have an incredible language. They basically can use sentences. They have very, very distinct messages they send to one another concerning like when a human comes, what they’re wearing, who they are, what other animals such as predators are around. Once again, we’re not unique that way. There’s no animals that speak English or French or any of the human languages but there’s lots of animals that do really amazing things that we can’t do and we do amazing things that they can’t do.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the things you mentioned a number of times in the book and this was very moving to me, most of the book was. It was just like, oh my goodness there’s just so much incredible stuff going on out there that we’re not paying attention to we are just too busy focusing on our phones…is that different animals grieve and mourn their loss and actually have a version of a funeral.
Marc Bekoff: Yes I’ve seen it in magpie birds. I’ve seen it in foxes. It’s very commonly observed in elephants and there’s been some recent wonderful videos on the web of chimpanzees. The major point there is that animals recognize a loss. We’re not saying they have the same concept of death that we do because it doesn’t seem that they do, but they recognize a loss and they show respect to the corpse, if you will. We’re just seeing it across species now, lots of mammals and birds. It’s really just indicating that the animals know something has happened. It doesn’t get us anywhere to say bad or good. Of course death in humans we would cash out as bad, but I’m not sure they do that. I think what they do is they notice that something is going on that hadn’t gone on before. They may do it because of an odor. Some people have suggested the lack of a sound, we don’t really know the mechanism. The fact is they know, if you will, when another animal is really in pain or suffering and they change their behavior accordingly. It’s just incredible to see. I just got a video from a couple in Canada who saw basically a funeral ritual in magpies and that was one of the first ones that I reported years ago. You know the birds stand around, in my case they brought pine needles and twigs and laid them around the body of the dead magpie and then they all stood around the corpse and almost imperceptibly bowed their head forward. I was with a friend of my named Rod who doesn’t study animal behavior and he was incredulous. We were both mesmerized and as we rode off on our bikes he said, wow, did you see that? I guess you see that every day. I had never seen it. But it was good that Rod was there. Not that I would embellish it or falsify it. It was good that Rod was there. He was moved as much as I was.
Caryn Hartglass: Anybody would be.
Marc Bekoff: Once again, if we do something it’s possible that they, other animals, do it. We just need to keep the door open. The last ten years has been remarkable in terms of what we’ve learned about other animals. My God I think the next ten years is just going to be unbelievably rich in what we learn.
Caryn Hartglass: You’ve got a number of articles about zoos. How do you really feel about zoos?
Marc Bekoff: Well, you know I’m very honest to say I wish zoos would go away but they’re not going to go away any time soon. There’s practical matters like where are all the animals going to go? My take on zoos is that we should give the animals who are living there, or basically forced to live there, the very best lives we can and we need to really recognize that we can always do better. I think we need to get rid of some zoos, even some zoos that are credited by the AZA because they just don’t have very high standards. And there’s thousands of roadside zoos that have no standards at all. They don’t have to answer to anybody. So I think that’s what we need to do, slowly but surely phase out the zoos and send the animals to sanctuaries. In fact, Costa Rica just closed its two zoos and will be sending all the animals to rehab sanctuaries.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I heard that. That is so inspiring.
Marc Bekoff: There’s just a lot that can be done. I think when you take a dose of reality zoos are not going to close overnight but I really do think that there’s quite a bit that we can do and believe it, people really are doing it. More than six American zoos have phased out their elephant exhibits. Elephants simply don’t belong in zoos. So if you want to look at it that way you can begin to sort of try to figure out which animals do better than others but large animals like elephants don’t do well in zoos and major zoos are phasing out their elephant exhibits.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s one article you have talking about killer whales and how at one exhibit there are people that are responsible actually for playing with Killy’s Willy. This is something that I find so unbelievable not just in a place like this but we find it in animal agriculture where there are people that are highly educated, they have great credentials, and they’re responsible for raping these animals or getting sperm out of them or inseminating the females. Who ever came up with this stuff?
Marc Bekoff: Well, you’re right. Tilikum is the male killer whale at Sea World who killed some people years ago and then killed a keeper I think two years ago. There’s a new documentary that’s been showing all over and CNN has been showing it called “Black Fish” which is really a very superb documentary about the ills of what happens at places like Sea World. The Killy’s Willy thing is just horrific because what they do is basically make the animal produce sperm then they use that sperm to make more whales and more whales who are going to live the rest of their lives in captivity who will then be used to make more whales. I call them whale mills, like puppy mills. That’s what they are. So it’s not surprising that a whale like Tilicum or Tilly gets really upset and harms or kills someone. It’s a no-brainer that something like that is going to happen. And it’s terribly sad. Nobody’s going around and saying, yeah, look at this. We need change our ways, Caryn. Really fast.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Now of course my passion is with food. The show is called It’s All About Food. You have a section about animals and food. Now I would want to believe that if we understood more about animals and understood their intelligence and understood that we are not superior that we would be less likely to eat them.
Marc Bekoff: Yes. I say in the book and I always say when I give talks that it’s not a matter of what we eat, it’s a matter of who we eat. And the reason I point that out is many food animals are formerly sentient beings. I’m not saying that to be cute. I’m not saying it to be antagonistic but whenever I use that phrase and I talk to people, it’s amazing how it changes their attitude. I had an e-mail from a woman in Vienna, Austria where I gave a talk two years ago and I just mentioned it’s who we eat not what we eat, these are sentient beings that wind up at the end of a fork or on a platter of pain and apparently six people who heard my lecture slowly but surely became vegetarians. It really pleased me not because I’m putting a feather in my cap but it pleased me that it really made a difference to them when they started thinking about who, not what. I’m very passionate about that because I think for health reasons and ethical reasons the way we eat and the choices we make can really have an impact on the lives of animals.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s time and you actually said that humans aren’t really that bad.
Marc Bekoff: No.
Caryn Hartglass: That we’re more good than bad.
Marc Bekoff: We are far more good than bad. We really are. I know people will always point to the bad but that’s because blood sells. I’ve tried to get some newspaper or magazine articles out about goodness and cooperation. We’re learning that. The psychologist Dr. Keltner at the University of California in Berkeley who wrote a wonderful book called Born To Be Good and my book, The Animal Manifesto is very much along those lines. He’s dealing with human animals, I’m dealing with non-human animals. More and more research is showing that, in fact, we are inherently cooperative and good. I mean, think of all the people you know—I really mean that, I wish people would do this. It’s only a very, very few people who are nasty.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah but they have so much power.
Marc Bekoff: Power. Exactly and that’s the point I try to make Caryn, is that they have power and we should harness our basic goodness when dealing with others. I’ve been involved in this movement called Compassionate Conservation and another book I had come out this year was called Ignoring Nature No More. Compassionate conservation stresses that the lives of every individual matter and that we are inherently kind, beneficent, empathic, cooperative—however you want to cash it out we should harness that inherent goodness. More and more research on humans is showing that that is the case. I’m so glad to discuss that with you because it really, really should move people to know that being nasty and being warlike is not natural.
Caryn Hartglass: War is not natural. And I think that’s the best place to end. Thank you and I want to recommend not only do you want to pick up Why Dogs Hump And Why Bees Get Depressed but this http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions is a great place you can read. The entries are short and very moving.
Marc Bekoff: Thank you Caryn and thank you listeners. We will make a difference I promise you.
Caryn Hartglass: That sounds good, thank you Marc Bekoff.
Transcribed by Suzanne Kelly, 11/17/2013