Ten years experience as an airline worker, including numerous encounters with shipped animals, forged Lee Hall’s interest in animal-liberation philosophy. Hall earned a law degree at age 37, then worked in immigration legal services, taught immigration and animal law at Rutgers University, and served as an animal lawyer in the non-profit world for a decade. In 2014, Hall earned a Master of Laws in environmental law wit a focus on climate change. Hall has been interviewed for Allegheny Front Environmental Radio, Alternet, and Court TV, and teaches at Widener University -Delaware Law.
Get Lee Hall’s book, On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! Hello. I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Okay. I am sitting in a spot that is so, so lovely in Monte Sereno, California. I’ve actually been away from home now for about two months. People like to ask me how I feel being away from home. I feel like I’m floating, in a way. I’m just rolling with the routine here, not being settled in my own home. The skies are blue, the air is absolutely fresh and lovely. I like to do this from time to time on the program where we all take in a nice long deep breath together. We all breathe for a living, don’t we? In order to live we need to breathe all the time. That air sometimes is just so rewarding and so luscious and I just want you to notice it because it’s one of the most important things that we have. We forget when we hear all the crazy things that are going on in the media today. Sadness, violence, etc. The best thing to do is just sit still and breathe for a moment. [Caryn breathes deeply.] That was good. I am really looking forward to this hour. I want you to get your pens and papers and take notes. Or take notes however you take notes on your phone or your computer, whatever. I think we’re going to hear some good things. My guest is Lee Hall. We will be talking about Lee’s book, On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century. Ten years’ experience as an airline worker, including numerous encounters with shipped animals, forged Lee hall’s interest in animal liberation philosophy. Hall earned a law degree at age 37, then worked in immigration legal services, taught immigration and animal law at Rutgers University, and served as an animal lawyer in the nonprofit world for a decade. In 2014, Hall earned a Master of Laws in Environmental Law with a focus on Climate Change. Hall has been interviewed for Allegheny Front Environmental Radio, Alternet, and Court TV, and teaches at Widener University – Delaware Law. Lee, how are you today? Lee, are you there? Oh my goodness. Am I there? Can you hear me at PRN, everybody?
Lee Hall: Ah, okay, here we are, here we are.
Caryn Hartglass: There you are, okay. I never know if it’s me or anyone else, but you are here.
Lee Hall: I am here and I’m feeling great and all the better for being with you. I’ve so looked forward to this.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, me too. The few times we’ve connected at the Veggie Pride Parade it’s always been so crazy and haven’t had enough time to really connect. But reading your book is a good opportunity to get to know what’s in your head.
Lee Hall: Well, I love being with you at the Veggie Pride Parade. I always look forward to seeing you there and hearing your great connections between the direct plant eating and healing our climates or doing what we can at this stage for protecting our climate and all the habitats within it, including our own. So thank you for what you do every year there.
Caryn Hartglass: I was rereading the transcript from our last interview, which was about two years ago. March of 2014. I was smiling because when we spoke, I was just about to go to the bull sale in Nevada where I was speaking on a panel about climate change to 250 cattle producers. That was a very intense moment and I survived.
Lee Hall: Yes. You were the lone vegan and we were all very much rooting for you and very proud of your performance. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. Thank you. I would love more opportunities like that. I found my audience was very engaged and it was a good opportunity and we need to do so much more of that, where we don’t just preach to the choir, where we speak to people who have very different opinions than we do.
Lee Hall: Part of that is… I think we can do that in, of course, all sorts of spheres in our lives. As you mentioned, I just finished up recently a Legal Masters and it was focused on Climate Change, from a wonderful school, Vermont Law School. But the understanding of veganism, I was surprised, wasn’t there. It was my role, really, to bring it into the classroom and to talk with people who were very well aware. I was in class with and learning from climate scientists and biologists and people involved in small farming projects and so forth. I was the one there that was the lone vegan, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: I believe you and I appreciate that. What was the response?
Lee Hall: One never knows what the response is going to be over the long term. I think that’s the best way to look at it, that we’re all planting seeds every day. We don’t know where they’re going to flourish. One of my classmates has become vegan and I believe has had a major influence in the whole family. A friend of mine in Hawaii that we went to school together and talked about this in many ways. We worked together on projects for the Legal Masters writing projects. We talked together about how the professors would bring up studies that would show that locavore is one thing, this idea that to eat food that’s locally produced reduces your fossil fuel use, definitely. But actually not very much. In fact, and the scientists would point out, there was one study that was mentioned repeatedly that just shifting what was called a protein shift away from animal-based protein and into getting our protein from where the animals themselves get it, which is directly from plants, is one deed that only one day a week that would be more powerful than eating a totally locavore or locally based diet. Just one week. Then they would leave it at that. Then of course my role is to say there are seven days in a week. Look at how much you can do.
Caryn Hartglass: Do the math.
Lee Hall: Right? If we can do what would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of not driving 8,000 miles a year by the seven-day shift. If we can do that, why wouldn’t we do it? They were going to go with how you can reduce your emissions by the equivalent of driving 1,100 miles a year by just shifting the one day. Then if I pointed out look at how much you could do if you do it seven days a week and… I don’t know how much that got through. Obviously it got through somewhat because my grades were good, so they must have liked it. But as I said, my classmate, when we would be talking about this and we did a lot of work online as well as a residency in Vermont so my classmate would say, “Wow. This is really important information. I can’t ignore this. Thank you.” And is now working on a VegFest in Hawaii. So you don’t know who else who’s silent during these conversations, what they’re picking up. We just keep going. Even when we’re the lone vegan, we just keep going.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, yes. I want to stay on this theme of why we don’t do it. Meaning why don’t we go all the way with veganism, and I want to start reading a paragraph—I made some notes in your book and I’m going to hit on some of them as we go along. I love this book. My understanding is you wrote it in 2010 and now this is a revision of your earlier writing. I just found there is so much powerful information in this book that can be shocking and overwhelming and yet your tone is so gentle that it just gently brings us along, kind of nurturing us and lovingly letting us read the nightmare and then coming up with the simplest solutions. Let me just read this one paragraph from On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century by Lee Hall. “Animal agribusiness has cleared landscapes of their living communities and polluted the land, water, and air. It relies on mass-feed production, immense taxation and distribution of subsidies, as well as constant supplies of water and fuel and energy. It depends on artificial breeding. Its hallmarks are waste, stench, runoff, noise, diseases, antibiotics, the eschewing of veterinarians, blood and killing, regulations.” Compared to enduring that, what aware person can say following a vegan cookbook or converting to vegetable farming is difficult? Why do we do it? I ask you this because I hear from my listeners from time to time. They enjoy the program, the information, the people that I have on. Some of them are very faithful long-term listeners and I thank my listeners for being there and caring. But some wonder why I push this vegan agenda so much, telling me that it’s difficult.
Lee Hall: Well, of course it would be easier if more of us got into it and more opportunities were available to be at vegan events and enjoy what we have but that’s happening too. For example, I hear a lot of people saying… Maybe the strongest objection is “I don’t want to give up cheese.” Right?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Lee Hall: I hear that, I hear that. We were raised with all these varieties of hors d’oeuvres, right? Or grilled cheese sandwiches or whatever it was. Somehow it’s created a craving, I don’t know. Some have speculated that that’s due to hormones in the cheese because if you’re nurturing a baby animal and you’re lactating, the animal needs to know. It’s a survival thing that the baby animal needs to want that milk. That way the animal is raised into adulthood. There may be something attractive about milk that helps the animal for whom it’s meant to survive. So it does make sense that we would get hooked on something like that. I guess that’s worth thinking about. But I do think, Caryn, that one thing we cannot deny is that it relates to our social nurturing. If we grew up in a family or in any kind of social circle where cheese played an important role, well there we are. It’s a memory. So what do we do? I was just at the North American Vegetarian Society’s SummerFest, which is a festival and conference that the group holds every year in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on the campus of University of Pittsburgh. It’s about five days long and it attracts about 700 people who are actually willing to sleep on dorm beds in dormitories that entire time. They eat cafeteria food at a dorm, but the cafeteria food is prepared by Mark Reinfeld, who’s a vegan-centered chef who is just… I would go on and on, I could spend an hour talking about the food there. It’s not like your parents’ cafeterias. Here’s the thing. This year the winner of the Hall of Fame… I’m not one for going to Halls of Fame that much, but sometimes they really do honor a beautiful commitment to, as you just called it, nurturing. Miyoko Schinner has a company, it’s all artisan, it’s all handcrafted. Miyoko’s Kitchen is the name of the company. This wonderful person who has designed all these artisan cheeses, and some of them are in grape leaves and fig leaves. There’s one called Mt. Vesuvius [Black] Ash. They’re just gorgeous gourmet cheeses. They’re also coming out with a line of really regular affordable sandwich-style cheeses. Those make such a big difference. Here we are with these products that can really get us into realizing that we can do this. We can do this direct from plant ingredients, and we can have… One of the things Miyoko is working on is allowing ourselves to legally call something cheese that didn’t come from an animal. You remember the Just Mayo debate on whether a company could call something mayonnaise if it didn’t have eggs in it. What we’re really seeing is a shift in society to talk about maybe things that we felt a nurturing or a comfort from when we grew up. But now looking at it in a totally different way, that this can come not from animal agribusiness, but from the direct source of energy, direct source of nourishment as the strong primates we are, and that’s plants.
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s plants. We’ve had Miyoko on this program numerous times and I’ve had the cheeses a bunch of times. I’ve been a vegan for a long time and I’ve learned to live without cheese, but it’s fun to have it from time to time. I especially love making my own nut-based creamy sauces, which are like nacho cheese sauces. They’re delicious, they’re nutritious. We can have it all. That’s all. There’s no deprivation. These cheeses that Miyoko’s making and so many other vegan entrepreneurs that’re doing cheeses today, they’re only going to get better.
Lee Hall: Right. If they could. Because Miyoko’s offerings really are fabulous. But yes, what’s going to get better is that the ranges will meet all sorts of price ranges. Right now these are gourmet cheeses and they are competitively priced when you consider how much an artisan cheese would be from the animal agribusiness side of it. But what Miyoko is looking at for the future is bringing out more affordable lines. I’m very excited about it. I was excited to see this sort of work being recognized because Caryn, what it does is it goes directly to the beauty of starting our own economies and, as you said, nurturing—I love that word—nurturing. You’re asking why people are resisting, and one reason that they’re resisting, I think, is because it’s always been done a different way. If I change am I going to be accepted? Am I going to be able to find things for the party? Am I going to be able to entertain? Will I be able to put things in my lunchbox when I go to work? How do I know how to do this? I don’t have time to learn this new style. There are all these things, these mental obstructions that pop up. But there are people out there who are leading the way, who are taking society by the hand and saying, “Here. Have something lovely. Have something wonderful. Come here to this party and enjoy this. Everything here is directly from plants, and you’re not going to miss anything at all.”
Caryn Hartglass: I like to say, “You don’t know how good you can feel,” and I mean that from a healthy physical standpoint, but I also mean it from an emotional standpoint. When you are not consuming the chemicals that are in the nonhuman animals when they’re being slaughtered—the fear, the anxiety, the pain, the suffering, the loss, the sadness—when you don’t consume that, you’re less likely to feel it yourself. I don’t know how much science is behind that, but I believe it.
Lee Hall: Oh yes. For example, there is a sickness or a syndrome called forsythe stress syndrome. Those who raise pigs, including those who raised the local pigs at the family farm, are told that being shipped off to being killed and the actual slaughtering that is done, pigs are extremely sensitive to this and it changes the flesh. If that happens and the industry knows it, then of course there are these stress hormones in them. The industry even says so. It’s sad because you see these family farmers being told how to put the pigs into the truck and they’re told the way to do this because pigs are so easily stressed out. They can tell if something strange is happening, so the way they’re acclimated to the idea of the truck is their regular food is put into the truck repeatedly so they learn to go into the truck to get fed. One day the door of the truck is just slammed behind them and off they go. Here are these family farmers who are telling us this is local and it’s humanely raised meat, etc. But this is what they’re learning to do. It seems like if they are concerned about the stress, not only from their monetary point of view but from the idea of “We’re telling the public that these pigs were treated humanely,” how must it feel for the farmer to do that final closing of that door? We’re asking people to do things for us that I don’t think many of us would do. If we had to slam that door behind those pigs, how would we really feel about that? I think there’s that too. Nurturing all the entire society means not having some class of people do what we ourselves couldn’t do. Or some group of people doing.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I want to believe that we all have the potential to be really, really good and really, really bad depending on a lot of factors. One of my missions is to bring out the really good in the people that I interact with, however possible. As humans we’re talking right now about the treatment of nonhuman animals in general, but there are just so many things that go on a day-to-day basis. There’s this Volkswagen fraud story with how they deceived the public with software that they put in their cars to cheat on emissions tests. This is exploitation of their clients. Yeah. It’s something that’s in all of us. When we open that door, when we shift our perspective, when we see exploitation on so many different levels and recognize that it’s not the right thing, I would hope making the right choice would be natural and we’d feel really good about it, keeping our integrity.
Lee Hall: Well I think you touched on it when you said how good you feel when you’re not eating that stress. I think what we’re doing is saying, when we talk about the closing of the door behind the pigs and the way it sounds. People in suburban and rural areas are doing this and talking about this local movement and how they themselves know where their food is coming from and so forth. What we have done is we have recognized that we do know where our food is coming from, and we’re refusing to close off within ourselves that voice of conscience that says those pigs really don’t want to go there.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. They don’t. Something I really liked about your book—there were many things I liked—I found that you described very eloquently things that I felt in my gut that I wasn’t able to adequately express. Some of it had to do with the violent images we see in pictures and in videos on social media and different nonprofit websites and animal cruelty-related websites that talk about what’s going on today. Cruelty to animals and factory farms with vivisection and a whole host of things. It brings out a lot of emotion. Some people don’t want to look at it; some people do. You talked about why the images aren’t really necessary. I appreciated that because I don’t like seeing the images. I knew that I came from it from…the way I would express it is there’s this law of attraction that people talk about from this book, The Secret, that I don’t put a lot of faith into, but the concept of when we talk about something, when we focus on something that we don’t like, we’re attracting it. Rather than focusing on the light, the good, the joy from the not of whatever it is we’re focusing on and how much more positive that is.
Lee Hall: Right. I think in general animal advocacy suffers from the lack of—and I’m generalizing here but that’s all right, we need to talk about big issues—knowing what it is we’d like to— I mean, there’s a means, a Gandhi mean that we see everywhere, right? “Be the change you want to see in the world, not the darkness you wish to leave behind.” What is the change we’d like to see from our culture, and what will that bring about on this planet? There’s not enough focusing on animals’ natural freedom and power. We tend to see a lot of vulnerable animals being victimized or being cuddled, one way or the other, and I talk about that a lot too in a new chapter that’s in this rewritten book because I had focused originally on the idea of victims in pictures and how replicating victimhood can be overwhelming and can bring about the negativity that we like to leave behind. Not that we don’t want to be honest about information. Not that we don’t want to know what’s going on, not at all. But that the youth of the torture picture as almost a shortcut to get into advocacy, to get somebody to donate or to show up a vigil, so forth. It can be overpowering and it can be attracting people with a negative energy. The importance of, in the cuddly part, we also have a lot of feel-good and this is okay. That we feel good about rescuing animals, that we feel good about nurturing animals. That’s okay, that’s good. We should. But do we also know what the animal communities on earth would look like if we didn’t put them in constant positions of needing to be rescued? It’s almost as though we’re setting the fires and running out and rescuing individuals from burning houses and saying, “Oh isn’t this a feel-good picture” but why did we set the fire?
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly.
Lee Hall: So how are we going to live differently? Part of it, I think, really means letting go in a careful, information-respecting way. Letting go of the need to represent animals as vulnerable all the time.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s so many hard issues to talk about. One of them—I mentioned it briefly on my Facebook page this morning and I haven’t gotten any likes because I don’t think people want to acknowledge that they even read it—it has to do with people who have—and there’s no right way to word this—companion animal or pet. But when we’re living with nonhuman animals, we’ll say how much we love them and they’re our lives and we’ll do anything for them. When they pass, it is so painful. But you write about this so clearly and gently in your book, how people don’t really realize what they’ve done. That these nonhuman animals that they’re living with, unless they’ve been saved from an unfortunate situation—I’m talking about the ones that have been bred to look a certain way and then be your possession to do whatever it is you want or need—and they’re not possessions, they shouldn’t be treated as possessions. They should be living with their siblings and their families in some free environment. We don’t see that.
Lee Hall: Well we need to acknowledge…because we see dogs and cats and other animals typically bred as pets, and that is the word that there is. They’re bred as pets. I think there’s a push to use euphemistic words. Companion animals. I live with rescued animals. I know how it feels to love animals on an individual basis, knowing them every day. Having them in my life. So I’m not saying this in an insulting or disrespectful or insensitive way. I think it is also important to… I came across a concept and I haven’t studied it enough, but again at SummerFest it was James LaVeck that brought it up and I don’t want to co-opt what James was saying for this. I just want to say that James mentioned there are ways of looking at groups, and one might be vertical and the other is horizontal. For example if I’ve got some of this right, it’s making me think in ways that I’m going to follow up on. Say that means that looking at groups vertically. Let’s take a cat. If I look at this cat or community of cats vertically, I would have to really ask why is it that human beings decided one day—they looked at wild cats and they decided one day—we really have to do something and bring these animals into our homes and make them over to our lives. How did that happen, because the ancestors of our cats are free-living wild cats who almost don’t exist anywhere on the planet; they’re being wiped out. In Scotland the Scottish wildcats are down to a few dozen, I believe. They found out why, because scientists found out that the interbreeding with abandoned domestic cats is changing their DNA. So very few are in completely undomesticated positions. Many of them are not because there’s this vulnerability that’s coming into them as they breed with domesticated animals, which is really quite disturbing. That would be the vertical of cats and who they were ancestrally. That’s important to talk about if we’re going to talk about cats from a social justice standpoint. If we live with cats, why not? Why wouldn’t we want to explore the social justice aspect? What’s in it for cats? What have we done, and was it fair? I know we think that they live a posh life and they get everything they want and we live for them and we change everything for them. But reality is a little bit different. In fact, it’s a lot different. Most people don’t, or there wouldn’t be so many cats in towns. Most people don’t, or there wouldn’t be so many cats trying to get by in the streets. That’s not what their ancestors would have wanted for them. That’s one aspect of looking at cats. The other aspect would be seeing horizontal. It would be looking at who they are individually and how they are diverse individually, and how each one has particular interests that we want to respect. If we look at cats in both ways at once, I think we are able to start discussing cats and the whole issue of why we as humans have kept pets—which is actually fairly recent for it to be a common thing—in a fair, in a holistic way. Why don’t we do this?
Caryn Hartglass: Why don’t we do it? Let’s do it.
Lee Hall: Let’s do it.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. All right. Let’s move now to a topic that’s in the news today, in fact. You’ve written quite a bit about it and that is… I want to bring it to life for where I am; I’m in this beautiful area, Monte Sereno, California. It’s near San Jose and Los Gatos, California; it’s in the hills. There are deer here. I see them crossing the road from time to time. It’s the loveliest image. But apparently there are too many deer on the road according to The New York Times. We think we have ways to manage this. I want to hear your comments, ‘cause you’ve written quite a bit on controlling nonhuman animals in the wild.
Lee Hall: I just want to ask you, did you say Los Gatos, California?
Caryn Hartglass: Los Gatos, the cats! That’s right. I didn’t even think about that.
Lee Hall: This is not a change of subject. If we respect cats on their own terms instead of only as how cuddly they can be, we’d remember that we human beings are contributors and participants and members of bio communities. In other words, where you live there are free-living cats. There are actual populations of cats. Not domesticated, but cats living on their own terms, who were never untamed. Our tendency… And it’s here too, as the article we’re talking about, an article that recently came out in The New York Times. It was published online two days ago and the title is “Too Many Deer on the Road? Let Cougars Return, Study Says,” and it was written in The New York Times by the author James Gorman. There’s a beautiful picture of a cougar jumping over a stream, apparently looking for a meal. The issue is this. The issue is that there is growing respect for carnivores—big, predator animals—mainly in the west. I think more so where you are, Caryn, than where I am; I’m on the East Coast, and we don’t have a lot of respect for large predators here. The article is saying that if we would respect cats—wild cats, cougars—on their terms… Here we do have bobcats, and by the way they’re pretty formidable hunters. If they were not suppressed here, they would be very good at curbing the deer population. Even better would be the coyotes. They are even more powerful as far as their ability to curb the deer population. They’re very good at it. How do we know this? There have been natural experiments, what the scientists call natural experiments, in certain parts of the country where they just leave the predators be. Right? They don’t suppress them, they don’t trap them, they don’t have open season on them. They let them be. What they let the community know is there are ways you can coexist. There are some risks, yes, but part of living on a healthy planet is understanding that we do live with risks. What happens is when there’s respect for the untamed predators, what happens is you don’t have these “too many deer problems.” It happens again and again. The issue is whether our deer—whether it be California or whether it be New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, in the various mid-Atlantic states where they’re being suppressed by the government as well as the predator animals—that they’re all being suppressed; it’s a circle of suppression. The main question that this article is asking is if we would just let predators start to return to their native lands, start to fan out, return on their own to their native areas, we would not have these overpopulation problems that we see with animals who are part of a predator-prey relationship if we only would let it happen.
Caryn Hartglass: My understanding is there would be less loss of human life as well. ‘Cause the deer population causes lots of accidents.
Lee Hall: Accidents, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: To humans, yeah.
Lee Hall: Yep. That may be. What they’re doing is sort of putting a utilitarian take on it. They’re saying, yeah, there’s a little risk. If you let cougars be just as if you let wolves be or if you let Eastern coyotes be or bobcats, there may be some risk certainly to small dogs and cats, certainly, but there may be a measure of risk to human life, particularly from a big cat like a cougar. They’re saying, well yeah, but there are so many deer and they cause car accidents. Really you’d see the loss of less life if you respected and allowed the cougars to return to these places. That’s their argument. It’s a utilitarian argument. I think there are a lot bigger, broader arguments that they could make. For example… I mean, what’s human safety? One aspect of human safety is our climate. Right? I think that maybe we could agree that that’s the biggest aspect of human safety, is having an atmosphere that we can enjoy those deep breaths in in the first place. It turns out—and I’ve done an article and you can link this on your site if you care to that deals with this very issue. I published it last year in the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation, and it is called “Beyond a Government-the-Hunter Paradigm: Challenging Government Policies on Deer in a Critical Ecological Era.” Here’s one of the things I found out and I wrote about: that when you take predators out of any region, what you’re doing is you’re leaving more deer or whatever ungulates, whatever prey animals there are. There are going to be more moose, elk, you name it, right? If you take the wolves and the coyotes and the bobcats and the cougars away, what you’re going to have is more of these herbivores running around in the same places. They’re not going to move much. But they’re going to put a lot of stress on the foliage. Right? Because they’re not moving around much. They’re acting differently. What does foliage do under stress from all these herbivores standing around eating it? It turns out that the stress on the foliage means that the plant life on the planet cannot absorb as much carbon. In some places, scientists are showing that the difference can be up to ten percent. So how about that for safety? If we leave predator-prey relationships— This is all in the area of studies called trophic cascades. That if we take some animals in the big picture out, what we’re doing is we’re causing these unintended consequences and we need to step back, let the nature rebalance itself, and then we’ll heal the biosphere. Wow, how exciting. I mean, when we find out that if we leave predators alone we could, in some studies it’s showing a ten percent difference on emission that are kept in the ground? In the plant life, rather than going back up into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases? Very exciting. That’s some of the most exciting stuff that I found out during the process of writing this article.
Caryn Hartglass: Ten percent is so much. Businesses could reduce their emissions by ten percent, they would be shouting out and putting out press releases all the time. That’s a tremendous amount. It is significant.
Lee Hall: It’s going to be interesting to see— This is recent and there’s not that much studying of it going on, Caryn, so it’ll be interesting to see what more we found out on this. But yes. If it’s like that, this is a big deal. This is a very big deal.
Caryn Hartglass: Big deal.
Lee Hall: And on the other hand, what we’re often times… We can go back here to not eating animals here. Because why is it that we’re taking a lot of these predator animals out wherever they are? Often times it’s because those animals who farmers are allowing to graze because they want to make money off the bodies of these animals, right? It’s animal agribusiness. Part of it is fear. Part of it is what if the animal were to show up. What if we were to see an Eastern coyote in my backyard? That’s part of it. But most of it is, these Eastern coyotes are hanging around and we have all of these farms out here so let’s call the local USDA trapper and get these coyotes taken out of here. Because this is impacting profits. That’s what a lot of it is about. It also goes back to not eating animals, because if we live directly from plants, we’re taking ourselves out of that war on predators, on carnivores.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad you brought that up. I was going to bring it up and you just went with it. I was going to say to everyone the show is called It’s All About Food. For me I could always tie something back to food and what we eat and that’s just it. I think too often farmers too are calling for these animals to be removed from the area, which means killing them whether or not they’re a real problem to their own industry of raising livestock. Although it’s a fictional story, Robin Lamont did a great story—I’ve talked to her on my program, I don’t know if you’ve read her books—but one of them was about wolves.
Lee Hall: Oh yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, and in this particular fictional story they were killing the wolves because they didn’t want them attacking their livestock and they had all kinds of stories and excuses for why they were doing this. She touched on some things that are really going on with our government. We really shouldn’t be eating animals, consuming these animals that aren’t even native to the territory. We should be creating more spaces for nonhuman animals to live out their lives naturally and keep a balance between all of the beautiful nature that is out there, plants and animals.
Lee Hall: You know, you just said the darndest thing—you just said that they’re nonnative. We talk with environmentalists and people who are locally trying to beautify the landscapes and return all the native plants to where they’re supposed to be and eradicate all the nonnative. There’s all this talk about invasive species, and yet people don’t mind paying money under the industry that puts all these nonnative species plopped right on the earth, right in our areas. Right on our planet. Beautiful what-could-be re-wilded regions. But no, instead we’re bringing purpose-bred animals and putting them on the land and then taking out the nature. We’re really talking about animal agribusiness is really a traffic in introducing species. Look at it that way, it changes the way we think about who we’re eating. Think about how many of these purpose-bred animals—I hope you don’t mind that term, but I want to keep pointing out, I know it’s odd and clunky but I want to keep pointing out that these animals are bred because of our ends. They’re put on earth because we want to use them, we want to consume them. That’s not a natural life for anybody. To be bred on earth to be consumed by a group of people who’ve decided that that’s your role on the planet. That’s not a very good way to live for anybody. It turns out that not only do we, our 7.4 billion of us right now—I think we might be close to 7.4 billion of us—our what scientists would call biomass, that’s the weight of living tissue on the face of the earth. Our human biomass, our weight, far outweighs the collective weight of all the other land mammals on the planet combined. The cows we put on the earth far, far even beyond our numbers, outweighs the biomass of all the living land mammals who are undomesticated. I mean, we are taking up the whole planet. We’re pushing free-living animals into tinier and tinier and tinier spaces. And then we’re talking about sustainability, we’re talking about being green. Well if we are still supporting the businesses of raising animals for food, are we really taking seriously our desire to be environmentalists? We all desire to be environmentalists. I’ll bet everybody listening to your show does.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.
Lee Hall: The question is, are we putting our forks where our mouths are?
Caryn Hartglass: I know. It’s that simple. Put our forks where our mouths are. That’s really good. Oh goodness. I wanted to thank you because you mention me in your thank-you list in the beginning of the book and I’m not quite sure why, but I think you said we discussed something in our earlier interview that—
Lee Hall: Oh yes.
Caryn Hartglass: What was that?
Lee Hall: I’m going to bring this up to right now, today. You see, if I write a book again in the future, the things that we’re talking about today, the conversation we’re having now, you are inspiring me to think about things that I haven’t thought about in the same way before today, right now. That’s what we’re doing through this conversation. This is the kind of thing that you do to get thanked in my book.
Caryn Hartglass: I like it. Yeah. We should be having more conversations. I don’t know if you saw this, but NPR has a program… I don’t listen to it; I saw somebody post it on Facebook about storytelling. They tell stories. Just the other day the host had no story to tell because of all the horror that was going on this week and last week and the week before. He recommended that rather than he telling a story, we should find someone that we don’t agree with very often—it could be a friend, a family member, whatever—and have a conversation. Listen to them. Not talk necessarily about the things that you disagree on, but find out where the person grew up and who the friends were and what they like to do and just engage. We can learn a lot about each other and learn about what we have in common with people we disagree with so much. It can open our minds to so many things.
Lee Hall: Well I think that’s happening to some extent. Sometimes it’s a little tense. But I think it happens through social media. I think what we start talking about, and even when there are arguments, debates, sometimes there are fallings-out. But I think that we’re having a conversation right now and a lot of it is going through social media. There are hashtags out there like #StayWoke, #BlackLivesMatter. These are important. We’re having conversations that are really important. They’re hard conversations and we need to keep having them.
Caryn Hartglass: We need to keep having them. I’m glad everyone is listening in. I forgot to mention like I always forget to mention that people can call in at any time. We just have a few minutes left. If anybody has a burning question you are welcome to call in during this show at 1-888…and I never remember the number and I wrote it down. It’s 1-888-874-4888. Otherwise you can engage with me later on at firstname.lastname@example.org like you do. Let’s just keep the conversation going. Okay, so your book, On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century, how do we get it in everyone’s hands?
Lee Hall: How do we get it in everyone’s hands? I could give you a link that you could offer, but a very easy way is to go to Amazon.com and let me just try that while I’m talking to you. I’ll write out On Their Own Terms, and the new subtitle has the word Century in it, 21st Century. Let me put that in and see if it pops up.
Caryn Hartglass: I can always include the link with the show.
Lee Hall: Yes it does! Great. Okay. It’s the top one, that’s the new book. It’s listed as $14.99 but there are options there as low as $11.61 and so there it is. Yes, it pops up if you’re doing a search for “On Their Own Terms” and just plug in “21st Century” because the title is On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century, and voilà! There it is. It’s also on the CreateSpace site, which is the publisher. It can be put on a link on any site and found that way. It’s there. It’s only in maybe one or two bookshops so far. We did a book launch in April for Earth Day in Cleveland. The group that organized it is Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance, and they have a lovely little bookshop there called Mac’s Backs-Books. It’s a traditional bookshop and the book is there. I would like to see it, really, that kind of thing happen, more community bookshops.
Caryn Hartglass: I would love everyone who’s going to the Republican Convention this week to go to that bookstore and find your book.
Lee Hall: Yes! Yes! That’s a marvelous idea. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, how about that.
Lee Hall: That’s a marvelous idea. Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: As we’re all so frustrated with what’s going on in the world, and I just want to make an aside here. There are a lot of horrible things that’ve been going on but what we need to realize is, violent things have been going on all over the planet forever. For those of us who are privileged to live in somewhat of a safe environment with food to eat and clean water to drink and air to breathe and homes to live in and luxuries like running shoes and televisions and computers and phones, we’re not used to the violence as much. But there are so many people on the planet, it’s encroaching. It’s encroaching into our safe areas, but it’s always gone on. I don’t want to say we have to get used to it. I want to say that we need to find ways to reduce the exploitation and injustice that’s occurring within our own lives first. To do that, read this book. Lee Hall’s book, On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century. You will learn a lot. How about that Lee?
Lee Hall: Thank you. Thank you Caryn, thank you very much.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, thank you for joining me, Lee Hall on It’s All About Food today! I look forward to speaking with you again and hearing your lovely, nurturing, gentle, intelligent thoughts.
Lee Hall: And yours. You’re making me more nourishing and gentle every day, Caryn. Thank you for that affirmation.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Okay, good. Take care.
Lee Hall: All right.
Caryn Hartglass: There we go everybody! I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food! Join me at responsibleeatingandliving.com and remember, have a delicious week. Bye-bye.
Transcribed by JC, 8/31/2016