Marc Bekoff, Animal Manifesto


Marc Bekoff is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He has won many awards for his scientific research including the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Marc has written more than 200 articles, numerous books, and has edited three encyclopedias. His books include the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, The Ten Trusts (with Jane Goodall), the Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, the Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships, Minding Animals, Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues: Reflections on Redecorating Nature, The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, Animals at Play (a children’s book), Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (with Jessica Pierce), and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Increasing Our Compassion Footprint. In 2005 Marc was presented with The Bank One Faculty Community Service Award for the work he has done with children, senior citizens, and prisoners. In 2009 he became a scholar-in-residence at the University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection and a faculty member of the Humane Society University. In 2009 he also was presented with the St. Francis of Assisi Award by the New Zealand SPCA.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everyone. I am Caryn Hartglass. And you are listening to It’s All About Food. It’s all about food. And we have a really great, great show—a great discussion topic today. And I want to remind you—you probably know this—but you can call in and make comments at 1-888-874-4888, or send an email during the show or anytime during the week at I would love to hear from you—love to hear your comments—happy, sad, inspiring, critical—whatever they may be. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

Okay—so today it is going to be a very—I am going to predict you are going to feel something during this hour. We have Mark Bekoff. Is it Bekoff or Bekoff, Marc?

Marc Bekoff: Bekoff.

Caryn Hartglass: Bekoff—there you go. Okay. Marc Bekoff. He is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder and co-founder with Jane Goodall of—I cannot even say this—ethologist for the ethical treatment of animals.

Marc Bekoff: Yeah—you got it. Ethologist.

Caryn Hartglass: Very good—ethology. I love the word.

Mark Bekoff: Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: I am going to use it. I have never used it before. But let me just give more of your bio here, and then we will get started because people need to know how wonderful and amazing you are. So Marc has won many awards for his scientific research including the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Marc has written more than 200 articles, numerous books, and has edited 3 encyclopedias. His books include: The Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, The Ten Trusts with Jane Goodall, The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, The Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships, Minding Animals, Animal Passions and Beastly Virtues, Reflections of Redecorating Nature, The Emotional Lives of Animals, Animals Matter, Animals at Play—a children’s book, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (with Jessica Pierce), and The Animal Manifest: Six Reasons for Increasing our Compassion Footprint.

In 2005, Marc was presented with The Bank One Faculty Community Service Award for the work he has done with children, senior citizens, and prisoners. In 2009, he became a scholar and resident of the University of Denver’s Institute for Human-Animal connection and a faculty member of the Humane Society University. In 2009, he also was presented with the St. Francis of Assisi award by the New Zealand SPCA.

Welcome to It’s All About Food.

Marc Bekoff: Wow—that was a mouthful

Caryn Hartglass: It was a mouthful, but you did all of it. You are one amazing individual, and I am sure somehow in the great consciousness of all living beings everyone is thankful for you.

Marc Bekoff: Thank you. It is good to be here with you Caryn.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. So—okay—I think people might get the gist of what we are going to be talking about based on some of the titles of your books. But you have this knowledge or some kind of connection with animals and their emotions and their feelings. What is it? Where does that come from?

Marc Bekoff: Oh—well—my parents told me that when I was a kid I would always mind animals, which became the title for a book of mine. I was always asking them what animals are thinking, what they know, and what they are feeling. And so—I was always concerned about their wellbeing. So—it stated early, but I didn’t grow up in a house with animals. My mom had been bitten by a dog and was actually afraid of—she was afraid of animals but didn’t disparage them. But there was a very warm, peaceful, pacifist atmosphere in my house. I think it just spilled over into a lot of avenues of my life. I consider myself really a lucky guy.

Caryn Hartglass: Now—let me ask you—do you live with non-human animals?

Marc Bekoff: Well—I live in the mountains in Colorado. So I have got cougars, coyotes, black bears, and red foxes visiting my house pretty regularly. I have not had a companion dog—oh it is almost 8 ½-9 years since my buddy Jethro died, but I do run a day care/dog care center. And my friends bring their dogs to my house so that they won’t be alone when the humans are working for them because of course you know we all work for our animals.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Marc Bekoff: And—so any day I have got between maybe 2 and 5 animals around my house—dogs. So I am never without animals. Last night I was actually just watching a movie, and a mouse was running loops around my couch. So that is fine. He will see over there his or her ancestors were here long before I was, so that is okay.

Caryn Hartglass: Science has done great things for us, but it has also done some disservice over time. And some of the philosophers have really put out some very damaging information when it came to animals and their souls, their emotions, their intellectual capacity, and really set the ground for us believing that there is nothing inside of these living species. And it has taken quite some time to build up a case to show that they do. It is pretty obvious to me to just hang—I am not really a person who hangs around with a lot of animals, but just stroking a cat or hanging out with a dog you know they are not just moving around without anything going on in their head. You just look into their eyes, and you see things. You see thoughts. You see emotions. You see feelings. And unfortunately this belief that there is nothing within animals has allowed us to do things like vivisection and harm animals in so many ways thinking that—thinking maybe—I want to think that we believed when we were doing these harmful—that when we do these things that animals are not feeling anything. But there are probably some that would do it anyway thinking that animals feel something.

Marc Bekoff: Right. Yeah, I mean, I am a scientist, and I really like science. So my views aren’t anti-science, but science has come a long way, and it can afford to go a long way. But a lot of what we know about animal emotions, the moral lives of animals, say how intelligent they are scientists are finally catching up what a lot of us know. So it is not to disparage science, but it is to say that in some ways science has halted the progress we could make if we listened more to good stories that people tell. I mean, stories alone are not enough, but we have to open our heads and our hearts to what is going on around us. And, as a scientist, I have always just been against dissection and vivisection. And sometimes it was rough going, but in the end I think compassion and humanness and empathy prevail.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, there is no question that as a society we have really distanced ourselves from nature in general, and that is not just relationships with other animal species but our relationship with the Earth, our relationship with our food, growing food, and our relationship with nurturing the environment. It has all been distanced, and as a result we have done a lot of damage. We see it with the air pollution, the soil degradation, the water pollution—the list is endless. And children today, for example, most of them have no idea where their food comes from. It comes from the supermarket.

Marc Bekoff: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: Some of them at a young age do not even know apples come from trees. And we are so distanced—.

Marc Bekoff: Or that a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is really a babe, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Marc Bekoff: No, they don’t. I think your point is really well taken. I do a lot of work with Jane Goodall, and as part of her Roots & Shoots programs for kids, they interact with a lot of kids, and they are simply astounded at a certain age when they learn that a cow—or hamburger was a cow.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Marc Bekoff: They just do not know this. And I think we are obliged not only to inform them of this information, but also like you said the amazing environmental damage that factory farms and slaughterhouses do in local and more global communities.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, not only do—have we distanced ourselves from all of this and kids are not aware of where things come from—in some ways we have created fantasy where things like McDonalds with the hamburger patch where hamburgers come from a garden of hamburger patties. So you create not only—you do not only not spread the truth, but you create lies.

Marc Bekoff: Yes. And I am so glad you raised that. I have had emails about that. And I just encourage people to ask people to walk their talk. I mean, I personally would love the world to be vegan.

Caryn Hartglass: Me too.

Marc Bekoff: Or vegetarian. But I am a realist.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Marc Bekoff: And I know it won’t be. But in my ladies book called The Animal Manifesto I developed this idea called “the compassion footprint.” And when people go, “Oh, you know, it is so hard to be vegetarian or vegan.” And I am thinking, “Well, I travel 100,000+ miles a year in all sorts of countries. You can always find salad and pasta and rice and beans—perfectly healthy foods.” But I am a realist, and I know people are not going to say sometimes give up their steak or their hamburger. So, I think we just have to all walk the talk, own our decisions, and make the most humane decisions we can. And with respect to food there is more pain and suffering and death on factory farms than in all other venues of animal use combined.

Caryn Hartglass: That is right.

Marc Bekoff: I mean, it is—in fact—it is not even—it is off scale. It is almost logarithmic compared to all other use of animals combined. So, I tell people that, “Look, you know, if you want to—,” you know, sometimes people say, “Well, how can I make a difference?” And I always tell them—like with respect to your radio show or if I am giving a talk—I will just say, “Well, you can make a difference when you leave this room. You can go to a restaurant, ask the source of the meat if you are going to have it, and if they do not know it or you can tell that they are lying that they do not know, then choose a vegetarian alternative.” So, some people get upset with me because they feel that I am not walking a hard enough line, but I do walk a hard line, but I am also a realist to know that nobody likes to be told what to do.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Marc Bekoff: And the best way to lose somebody is to be prescriptive. So, you don’t tell them what to do—you show them what to do. The other thing that I always put forth is that typically it is not what is for dinner it is who is for dinner that the vast—except of course putting vertebrates aside—I am not putting them aside. I wouldn’t eat them, but of the vertebrates they are all sentient beings. They all have deep feelings. They all have moral lives. They love their friends and their families. They feel pain, and they suffer. They feel pain—they feel their own pain and their own suffering and other individuals around them. So, I always say it is who is for dinner, not what is for dinner. And I have actually had people come up to me after talks and say they had never thought of that, and they would never again eat an animal. Well, I mean, you know, I do not mean that in a bravado way.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Marc Bekoff: I just mean that that—.

Caryn Hartglass: The veil is lifted.

Marc Bekoff: We are mindless half the time. We kind of walk through life. We are all busy.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Marc Bekoff: And we just don’t realize how easy it would be to increase and expand our compassion and make the world a better place.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, that is the thing. It really is easy. I have been doing it for decades, and I know how easy it is, but so many people feel that it is so challenging. And when you—it is getting easier over time because there are more convenient foods available that are vegetarian. But still some people, when you mention you are vegan, they get this blank stare on their face like, “What do you eat?” They cannot imagine eating anything that doesn’t have meat. And yet, so many things that most people eat do not have meat in them. There are plenty of standard dishes that do not have meat or do not have to have meat, do not have to dairy—it is not that difficult. But it is just – part of it is this mindfulness that you mentioned where we are walking through life somewhat like zombies in some ways—just doing our routine and not really connecting the dots. And as a result people feel so powerless that they cannot make a difference in the world. All these things are going wrong, and yet something so simple as saying who is for dinner—it may not get to everyone, but it gets to some people. And then there are these little triggers. One—so it is great that we have different people spreading this message because everybody has got their own little nugget that works. And different people will respond to different things. And we need more of that out there so that we can trip that switch so that more people get it.

Marc Bekoff: Yes. And I like—you used the word little nugget—I sometimes use like a bumper sticker—just like something that it can be bulleted. Think of that the individual into whom you are putting a fork was a sentient being. I wrote an essay recently called Dead Cow Walking in honor of, if you will, but also to get people not to celebrate National Hamburger Day.

Caryn Hartglass: I read it; it was an excellent article. Congratulations for having it printed in Psychology Today.

Marc Bekoff: Well, thank you because that is what it is—it is dead cow walking. It is dead pig walking. But, I do not want to rely – I do not want to depend on, sort of, the horror stories. I just think that you are so right, Caryn. We all have our little nuggets. So, when I would say to friends that the chicken you are looking at or the pig or the bacon is on a platter of death—a platter of suffering. One of my friends, and I simply really cannot ever expose his name, who works in the food industry—he loves his job, and I am glad he is there. I am glad that good people are working in industries where animals are used because they will bring around humane changes. He basically says that when you are eating an animal, or you are eating or consuming animal products, you are eating misery. But once again in the real world there are gradations. I always tell people, “Well, okay, if you want to have your one steak a week eat a free-ranging steak. I would rather you not eat it at all.” But, once again, it is so—it is so frustrating to me when people go, “It is so hard. I really want to do this. I cannot do it. I travel.” They travel from New York to California.

Caryn Hartglass: Wow.

Marc Bekoff: I spend time in the backwoods of China and India.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Marc Bekoff: And east Africa.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Marc Bekoff: You can always find vegetarian and vegan alternatives, and you should always be polite about it. So, when I travel I will usually just tell people, especially people who do not know me or I don’t know, that I—I always say I am vegetarian. A lot of people in different countries do not know what vegan is.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Marc Bekoff: And I always say I am a vegetarian. I do not eat animals or animal products. And never once have I ever had somebody say, “Oh, well that is too bad.” You know what I mean?

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Yeah, well, I have done a lot of traveling too, and I have eaten vegan in India. I lived in France, and I had no issues eating vegan. All of Europe, north Africa, South Africa, all over the place, and there are just a few things that you need to think of when you are traveling to different places. Certainly if someone is going to be feeding you, you need to let them know in advance, in a nice way, what you eat and don’t eat. And it is not really different from people who are religious and keeping some sort of religious commandment, or people that have different allergies—certainly some are more serious than others.

Marc Bekoff: Sure.

Caryn Hartglass: People cannot eat peanuts. People that have celiac disease cannot eat wheat. There are a lot of different things, and we are becoming more focused to people with food issues. And, you know, even in France where the chef for a long time has believed that everything that he or she presents is what you should eat because it is his work of art—there is more understanding now that people should be served what they want and not necessarily what the chef wants to give its customers.

Marc Bekoff: Yes, I was once in southeast France bicycle racing—because I used to race bikes and I raced in France—and I said I wanted a vegetarian meal. And it was great, I was on a team, the chef came out, and he smiled at me. He said to me that he had never met a vegetarian. You know, how would I possibly be able to do the race without eating meat? And, you know, honestly I wound up winning it, but what was really cool was he didn’t come out and laugh at me. He just—he was incredulous that you could ride your bike and race your bike and not eat meat.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Marc Bekoff: And so, I said, “Well, give me,” I mean, we were so hungry all the time. I said, “Give me a lot of bread. Give me a lot of pasta. Give me rice. Give me beans. I need protein. You know, give me a bottle of red wine.” But what was really cool was he was really accepting. And what he told me, and I have not been back to this little town, he said he was going to put vegetarian alternatives on his menu because a lot of cyclists, you know, local, came in and ate.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. What town was this?

Marc Bekoff: And, you know, that was so simple.

Caryn Hartglass: What was the town?

Marc Bekoff: Oh, it was a town called Gien—G-I-E-N which is on the—they are all within probably 100 kilometers of Marseille, Toulon—Toulon is one, Gien, Hyères – that is where the race started.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Marc Bekoff: But what was so cool to me the town was literally probably the size of my living room, but it was just so nice. And I wasn’t arrogant about it because we do not get anywhere by being arrogant.

Caryn Hartglass: That is right.

Marc Bekoff: I just said, “I do not eat animals. I do not eat animal products. Surely you could make me a pasta meal or potatoes.” You know what I mean?

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I never had a problem in France except maybe in Paris. But outside of Paris everyone was really accommodating. And the chefs would come out, kind of like you said, curious—interested. A few of them said they would like to take the challenge and come up with something new and creative. And so it is all about communication.

Marc Bekoff: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: Which is the secret to success in anything—not just with food, but with all relationships in business and with intimate relations and with your family. Communication is so important. And so you have to be clear. So, when you are traveling and if you know people are going to be providing you with food, you have to be clear in advance because there is nothing like someone who wants to welcome guests and feed them and go through the trouble to make something and then you show up and say, “Oh, I cannot eat this. I am a vegetarian.”

Marc Bekoff. Right because there is a sense of arrogance—I was at a Christmas dinner, or going to a Christmas dinner once, and one of my friends who is vegan said she—and there were some friends visiting, and said one of the friends wasn’t sure that he could sit down at a Christmas meal where there was going to be turkey. And my response was then why in the world did she come?

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Marc Bekoff: And it really pissed me off, if you will, Caryn, because I said, “So, she—,” and then she said, “Well, what about you?” And I said, “I am going to sit there. I am going to have my vegan meal, and if somebody—” because I didn’t know some of the people—I said, “If somebody asks me what I am eating it or why I am eating it I will explain to them.” But just putting it in someone’s face like that is the sure way for them to cash out people who they think are radical as being “nut balls.”

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

Marc Bekoff: And the fact is we should not be the radicals. I mean, my work with kids and my work with people is to get people who are humane and ethical who care about animals and who care about the environment to be viewed as the mainstream—not radicals.

Caryn Hartglass: Very good. Well, you know, the history of this planet has not necessarily been very kind and compassionate. We have had hundreds of thousands—maybe millions—of years of all kinds of violence and cruelty. And I would like to think that we are evolving to a better place. And maybe one day the lion will lay down with the lamb. But the thing is, as individuals, it is so easy to see the horror and be so angry and want to change people and change that misery. But screaming at people and telling them what they want to do unfortunately, no matter how angry you are, it doesn’t work.

Marc Bekoff: Yes. I was just looking at this movie, Invictus, about Nelson Mandela.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes—oh what a great film.

Marc Bekoff: It is a great film. And there is a line in it that I wrote down, and I went, “Oh, yeah, what the hell.” And then all of the sudden, about two days later, I looked, and it was a simple line where Mandela was telling the football team, “Go beyond your own expectations.” And I know—like I have been obsessing on it, and people—some of my friends out here think I am nuts. And I thinking, no, when really what he was saying was don’t give up, don’t say never ever – just put it out what you need, seek what you need with compassion and kindness and empathy, and you will “get it.” It may not happen overnight. As an athlete I think about it like training. For a race—you might train for a race for a year. You just do not wake up one morning and say, “Well, I am going to ride a big bike tour or run a marathon.” And so you are training yourself, and I think that is what people need to do. I think people need to be moved out of their comfort zones in compassionate ways.

Caryn Hartglass: I agree with you. And I think people would feel a lot better too. Something I wanted to bring up before that I did not is this idea of all of us being so disconnected with nature and with the environment and with animals. As a result, we have a big void. And we are not satisfied. We are anxious. And it is because we need this connection with all of the other things that we share this planet with. And our lives would be so much fuller and richer if we opened our hearts up to all of these things that are going on around us rather than closing it down.

Marc Bekoff: Right. And I think if we open our hearts we will actually add joy to our lives by knowing that we live in a very troubled and a wounded world, but I am just a diehard optimist. I know what is going on from reading, from traveling, from meeting people, and from meeting animals who are abused, but I do think that I am seeing little rays of hope here and there.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Marc Bekoff: One would be, of course, a radio show like yours, another would be working with kids, another would be just talking with people, and over time like one of my friends sits down and goes, “When I have lunch with Marc, I eat vegan.” And, hey, it is one meal less that is consuming animals.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. Yes.

Marc Bekoff: And I always tell people I will always buy them lunch.

Caryn Hartglass: Beautiful.

Marc Bekoff: I mean, I am not putting that invitation out to the world, but I am – you know why I do that? I do it not because I am really wealthy, because I am not—

Caryn Hartglass: Of course.

Marc Bekoff: But I do it so that they can see that they can enjoy an incredibly good meal—

Caryn Hartglass: We do whatever it takes, Marc. I love to prepare food. And so I look forward to inviting people over for dinner, or if there is an event where I know people can bring food I make the most amazing, delicious things and get it in people’s mouths and tell them it’s vegan so they know that they can have things that are delicious and tasty and healthy, and they are not going to be deprived.

Marc Bekoff: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: But, Marc, we have to take a break, and it is going to be a couple of minutes. Get a drink of water or whatever, and then we are going to come back and I want to talk about what the animals feel.

Marc Bekoff: Okay.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. So we will be right back.

Marc Bekoff: Okay.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass. Welcome back. This is It’s All About Food. I’m here with Marc Bekoff. Marc?

Marc Bekoff: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: You’re back. We’re back.

Marc Bekoff: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: All right. Tell me about this morality with animals.

Marc Bekoff: Well—okay.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s not something—people talk maybe about animals being sad and having feelings towards their offspring, but I don’t hear much about morality.

Marc Bekoff: Right. I mean, people have been writing about moral behavior in animals for a long time. Charles Darwin wrote about moral sentiment in social animals. But it’s something I got interested in watching animals play with one another. It started years ago. It resulted, ultimately, in a book I wrote with my colleague, Jessica Pierce. It was published last year called, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. It basically—I mean—the simple notion is that animals are not as aggressive as the main media and some scientists make them out to be. Across the board, more than 90% of all of the social interactions of great apes, of wolves, dolphins, and whales are what we called para-social—positive cooperative.

Of course, animals compete with one another, of course they fight with one another, but it is not their main way of interacting. And now people are really getting very interested in the question of whether animals know right from wrong. I mean—it’s a clear, resounding yes they do. Are there moral codes of conduct that inform how they behave in a group? Yes, there are. So, it’s really exciting to see that we are going one step up on, if you will, the cognitive capacities of non-human animals. And in Wild Justice I tell stories about elephants helping one another when one is injured.

When I was in Kenya I saw an injured elephant, a female named Babel, who really couldn’t walk. She had been limp since she was a kid, and the other elephants in the group waited for her, and they fed her. And some of my colleagues would say, “Oh, well, you know, they wouldn’t do this if Babel couldn’t do something for them.” Well, the fact is Babel couldn’t do anything if she were left along. She definitely would have been fallen prey to a predator—a lion or say a cheetah. I have seen future rituals if you will in birds—with magpies and red foxes. And when I published these observations I get emails from all over the world from scientists and non-scientists alike. So that is basis the state of the art. What we are discovering is that—especially among social animals—there are codes of conduct.

They know right from wrong. There are penalties and sanctions when an animal does not behave as he or she is supposed to behave—you know—behave cooperatively or fairly. So, I am excited about it. I also wrote a kid’s book called Animals at Play, which lays out the rules of play, so that kids can see that when somebody says, “Oh, you are acting like an animal,” that’s a compliment. You know? I teach, of course, in a jail, and I have been teaching there for a decade. And when something goes—and when I say nuts I don’t mean in a fight way—but if the guys start getting at one another they’ll go, “Oh, you are just acting like an animal.” I will always say, “Oh, but you just complimented him.”

Caryn Hartglass: You’re right.

Marc Bekoff: So that, I mean, that is kind of the nutshell that we are really looking at situations where animals, like humans, have this version of being unfairly. There is a whole area of research developing called inequity aversion. And what it really means is that there is an aversion to being treated inequitably or unfairly. And animals do not like it. And they won’t work for lesser pay, and they won’t tolerate cheaters in their group.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, this cannot be good news for the animal industry which has based itself for a long time on the fact that there really isn’t much in the animal’s heads that we choose to exploit.

Marc Bekoff: No, it’s not good news at all. Just four or five years ago—I guess it was five years ago in 2006—there was a wonderful study published showing that mice feel the pain of other mice. Now, 30 years ago—or almost 50 years ago—there were studies done that showed that rats would not eat if eating caused another rat to be shocked. The same study was done in monkeys. And the study that was done a few years ago to show empathy in mice basically reinvented the wheel. But people, I mean, it is really upsetting. I would never have sanctioned it, but it was done. So I always say let’s use that data.

Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely—to not do it anymore.

Marc Bekoff: Right. Show them to the Federal Animal Welfare Act, and I can tell you right now cows and pigs and factory-farmed animals also feel their own pain and the pain of others.

Caryn Hartglass: So, you have said that animals do not allow themselves to be treated inequitably. So how is it that all of these domesticated animals and factory-farmed aren’t rebelling in some way?

Marc Bekoff: Well, you know, that is a really good question. I mean, inside their hearts and their heads I am sure they are going, “What in the world is happening?” But the word that circus people use or cowboys use when they are trying to cane an animal is break—we are breaking a stallion or breaking an elephant. And what you are really doing is you are breaking their heart.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Marc Bekoff: And it is almost like the phenomenon of learned helplessness. You know, you see it in children. You see it in different animals. What I tell people is, “Do you love your dog?” “Yes.” “Would you do to your dog what you allow to be done to cows and pigs and chimpanzees and mice?” “Oh, no.” “Well, why?” “Well, you know.” And I’ll go, “No, I don’t know.” The fact is these cows, pigs, mice, chimpanzees, elephants, whales, hamsters, guinea pigs are no less sentient than your companion dog or cat. So, that is another thing that I have learned in terms of not putting something in someone’s face but asking the difficult question and putting them out of their comfort zone saying, “Well, you wouldn’t allow your dog to go to a factory farm—why do you eat animals off of a factory farm?”

Caryn Hartglass: And the response I hear all too often is, “Because it tastes good.”

Marc Bekoff: In fact, in my book, The Animal Manifesto, I have a section called, “I know they suffer, but I love my steak.” And I am thinking, “Oh, well how about your dog? I know he or she suffers, but I am going to lock them in a closet or stick pins in their nose or shackle them like animals are shackled in factory farms.” So, all it is—Caryn—all it is, is once again, putting it out there and hoping people will pick it up.

Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.

Marc Bekoff: One of my favorite sayings is, “Leap and the net will appear.”

Caryn Hartglass: Yes—a little Indiana Jones for you.

Marc Bekoff: Yes. And I think—right—and I think as a scientist really that is the best I can do. I am putting the information out there, and I am hoping that critical mass, over time, will pick it up and decide to interact with animals and the non-animal world more humanely. I cannot—neither you nor I can control them.

Caryn Hartglass: That is right.

Marc Bekoff: We get to hope this is the case.

Caryn Hartglass: I am fascinated with the studies you have talked about how animals can feel other animals pain. And I think there is so much more to that in terms of this consciousness that we are all connected to. And there is actually some science now that is starting to talk about this consciousness that is outside of our brains and tests that they have been doing that might support this possibility. Like there is this giant hard drive out there that saves all of our memories and how we are all connected to it. And the fact that we are so shut down from it—we’re tuning out things that are being put there from other people and other animals because it is too hard to take in. There is just so much sadness around as a result.

Marc Bekoff: Right. And if people find that kind of cosmic consciousness idea to be a bit voodoo there actually is scientific data—scientists have discovered what they call “mirror neurons” in animals. And what “mirror neurons” do is they actually mirror the behavior and the feelings of another animal in another animal’s brain. So, I see you do something, and when I see you do something the same neurons in my brain fire as if I were doing it. And I see or feel something that you are feeling because the same neurons fire. I am not arguing that there isn’t something more global and more cosmic.

Caryn Hartglass: Sure.

Marc Bekoff: What I am saying is solid science—.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.

Marc Bekoff: Has shown that mirror neurons really are functional, so that animals are suffering not only their own pain but the pain of others.

Caryn Hartglass: Can you give an example of a specific story with some—well—you spoke about the elephants—do you have any other examples where an animal demonstrates morality? I love those stories.

Marc Bekoff: Well—yes, I mean, if you look at the way large animals play with small animals—large kangaroos will not box or push a young kangaroo as hard as they can. And we call it “self-handicapping.” You’ll see the same when a large dog plays with a small dog. And, you know, some people will go, “Oh, when I go to the dog park this kind of stuff escalates into fighting.” Well—sometimes it does, but we actually studied it. And it escalates into fighting about 2% of the time.

So, we see situations where an injured wolf might be fed by other wolves in his or her pack. An elephant—there is a teenage elephant who had a bad leg, and this rambunctious teenage male came in and knocked her over. And a large adult female went over and drove the male out and went back to the female and touched her trunk to the sore leg. That is understanding. I don’t care what people—the thing is a lot of the people who are skeptics or naysayers spend their lives watching animals in cages.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

Marc Bekoff: They watch the same five mice or monkeys in a cage, and it is an impoverished social and physical environment. So the animals aren’t able to express their full behavioral repertoire.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.

Marc Bekoff: You know, so what we need is we sort of—we have to revise our stereotypes. We have to be patient because the study of animal emotions, animal cognizance, and animal moral behavior are still in their infancy. But every day, you know, you can hardly pick up The New York Times or big popular magazines without seeing great articles on the cognitive and emotional lives and the moral lives of animals.

Caryn Hartglass: One of my least favorite words is instinct. And it is used so often to explain some of these phenomenon you have been talking about. “Oh, it is just instinct.” But whatever your definition of instinct is it is more than that.

Marc Bekoff: Much of our behavior is instinct, but an instinct doesn’t mean it cannot be modified or changed.

Caryn Hartglass: And it doesn’t mean that the animal isn’t thinking. It doesn’t mean the animal doesn’t feel. It doesn’t mean that they are acting as a robot.

Marc Bekoff: Oh, no—not at all. No. You are exactly right. And that is one of the things I always counter that the word instinct—to people who know what it is—it has a lot packed to it. Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: Have you received—you have written a number of books—lots of them—have you received any negative feedback?

Marc Bekoff: Well—you know—every now and again somebody will write, “Oh sure—horses get embarrassed. Oh sure—what about mosquitoes.” Or they think I have an agenda that I am just sort of putting it out there with no facts. The fact is that my popular books, as well as my scientific books, have all been reviewed very favorably not only in popular press but also in scientific journals. And so, really, I am not trying to—I am just painting the picture of who these animals are. Do animals fight with one another? Sure. Can they be mean to one another? Sure. Do they eat one another? Sure. But can they be nice to one another and compassionate and empathic Yes. Can they be moral? Yes. So—very little negativity.

Caryn Hartglass: People could probably relate best to mammals having feelings because they are so similar to us. And so at the very least we should be having more compassion for our fellow mammals.

Marc Bekoff: Absolutely.

Caryn Hartglass: At minimum. But I have read so many compelling stories about fish. And I am not talking about whales and dolphins, but I am talking about fish—non-mammals—fish.

Marc Bekoff: Right.

Caryn Hartglass: That have done so many unbelievable things that show their emotions, show their appreciation, show their fear, show their consciousness, and their desire to communicate to human beings.

Marc Bekoff: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: Mind-blowing stories.

Marc Bekoff: Yes. I mean—there is a new book out called, Do Fish Feel Pain? And the woman who wrote it is not necessarily an animal protection person, but her conclusion is, “Yes, fish are conscious. Yes, they feel pain. Yes, they suffer. Yes, we have to treat them better.” There are many people who have shown that lobsters feel pain, that insects feel pain, and these are scientists who have no vested interest because they are interested in animal rights or animal welfare. They are just doing the science and saying, “Yes, there is evidence that insects feel pain.” End of story.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes. So, for those of you that are listening, just think about—be mindful of what you do, and know that what is on your plate—if it is from an animal—if it’s meat, fish, chicken, pork—whatever it is—that animal has experienced pain and suffering.

Marc Bekoff: And it is who is on your plate not what.

Caryn Hartglass: And it is who—thank you. I have got to really—I’ve got to use that.

Marc Bekoff: Oh—no, no. I didn’t mean that in an arrogant way. No, no, no—it is a…

Caryn Hartglass: That is right.

Marc Bekoff: It is not referring to animals as this, that, and it—as his and hers—animals with names.

Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Marc Bekoff: No, so—anyway—do not take that in any other way but…

Caryn Hartglass: No, I feel the love, Marc. I feel the love. Now, when I read your Psychology Today article you mentioned that cows communicate through staring.

Marc Bekoff: Yes. Yes. Yes. A lot of animals do including humans.

Caryn Hartglass: How did you come up with this? And what have you seen through staring?

Marc Bekoff: Well, I didn’t do the study, but there are people doing studies of cow behavior and pig behavior especially in the United Kingdom because of the large meat industry there. And, you know, they do studies. They observe the animals. They film them. They watch how an animal might roll his or her eyeballs, and it elicits a response in another animal. So, it is a good question, Caryn, because animals communicate using extremely subtle signals.

Caryn Hartglass: That is fascinating. I go to Costa Rica from time to time. I have some property there. And when I am walking on these dirt roads occasionally I will pass by a collection of cows. And they don’t look like a lot of the cows that you find on factory farms in this country. Their udders are naturally small. And—but they come to the fence, and they stare. And I cannot help myself, but I always like to look back and I either say or I am thinking, “I am not going to eat you. You are my friend.” And I just like the interaction that we have between eye contact to eye contact.

Marc Bekoff: No, they have—all these animals have great senses of smell. And they can smell stress. They can smell our intentions if you will. We are not fooling them in any way.

Caryn Hartglass: I cannot imagine how difficult it is in a factory farm. I have read so much about how the stench is so unbearable with the ammonia and the animals living in their excrement and filth, so they have a tremendous, heightened sense of smell to begin with and then the smells are so horrific. That must be such extreme torture.

Marc Bekoff: Down here in Boulder we are about 50 miles away from the town of Greeley—a little northeast of here. And when there is an upslope storm we can actually—we know it’s upslope because we smell the stench from the stockyards there. So, if you are smelling it—.

Caryn Hartglass: Imagine what the animals are going through.

Marc Bekoff: You know it is happening. Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: The animals and—here is another thing people—I am sure you have heard it—but people say, “Oh, you love animals so much—what about people? Don’t you care about people [simultaneous speaking]?” And they don’t realize that we are all connected. And what we are doing to animals, unfortunately, we do to people. And one of the handful of people—there are less and less of them that work in the factory farms—they are just exposed to all of this. And the people that live in the communities around factory farms are being exploited. The air quality is horrible. The water quality is horrible. I have recently read—.

Marc Bekoff: Oh, yes. Factory farm workers really show a high percentage of psychological problems. I would venture to say that 99%+ of people working there are working there because they have to work there. It is their only way to make an income.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes.

Marc Bekoff: So, we have got to feel for them. And we have to understand that they are not all as privileged as many of us are, but they do not like what they are doing.

Caryn Hartglass: You know, I just recently read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, which has been on my reading list for maybe forty decades probably. I finally got around to it. And it is a horrific book. And it touched on the slaughterhouses in Chicago and how we treated animals in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t even a book about animals. It was about the people that worked for that industry and the torturous life that they went through. And it was heart wrenching, and I kept thinking, “And it’s worse now.”

Marc Bekoff: Yes. I know we are ending, so I am going to end on a happy note.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I was just going to say—so let’s end on a happy note.

Marc Bekoff: It is simple to make positive changes in the world. It is simple to expand our compassion for print. What we need to do is set an example and make individual choices to increase humaneness and compassion in the world. We have to own our decisions. And we cannot, any longer, accept these lame excuses like, “Oh, it’s too hard to make a change,” “I travel,” or, “I’m really busy—it’s too hard to do this.” Sorry—they don’t work anymore. And I don’t mean that arrogantly—they just don’t work anymore. Busy people on the run can easily change their ways. We don’t have to eat animals. We don’t have to wear animals. We don’t have to watch them in circuses, rodeos, and zoos.

Caryn Hartglass: And we don’t be deprived. We’ll feel better. We’ll have more energy. Our health will be improved. The food is delicious. It is just a win-win-win-win.

Marc Bekoff: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: Marc, thank you very, very much. Thank you for joining us. I know we scheduled this at the last minute, and I am just really glad that you were able to come on and that you have written all these great books. Is there a website people can check out?

Marc Bekoff: Yes. The best would be to just go to my homepage which is just

Caryn Hartglass: That is M-A-R-C—

Marc Bekoff: Right. Then also Jane Goodall on my website has a lot of really good information there too.

Caryn Hartglass: Great. Thank you, Marc. And I am going to let you go now because I know you have more great things to do.

Marc Bekoff: My pleasure. Thank you, Caryn. And thank you listeners for listening.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Thank you so much. That was Marc Bekoff. And his most recent book is The Animal Manifesto, and I highly recommend checking it out. We have a few more minutes, and before we go I just wanted to talk a little bit about some postings and an article I was just reading today. The Wall Street Journal had an article about this almond milk battle that is going on between Silk and Blue Diamond. And it was an interesting article, and I found some of the responses too were very interesting. But the one thing I want to say is I am glad that it is out there. We are talking more and more about non-dairy milks because cow’s milk isn’t healthy. And more and more people are realizing it. People are lactose-intolerant. People have all kinds of issues with dairy. And there are certainly more non-dairy milks out there—rice, soy, almond, and hemp. I am glad the market is growing. I am glad there is more competition.

There are a lot of things that the article didn’t talk about, and I mentioned it in my post comment where the article is on The Wall Street Journal site. There are a number of things that people just don’t think about. Number one—these non-dairy milks are more expensive than milk, and it is a supply demand thing. Certainly people are drinking more cow’s milk, and so the demand of it makes the price go down. I am sorry—because there are more people that are wanting it, we make more of it, and it goes down. But also there are tremendous subsidies to grow cattle, and there are milk subsidies to keep the price down. And meanwhile, a lot of these dairy cows are out there, and they are contributing to global warming with methane gas. And I say, why not transfer those subsidies to farmers that are growing organic soy, rice, and almonds? They are not contributing to global warming. In fact, their plants are absorbing some of that carbon dioxide and creating oxygen so that they can create and produce more of these healthy non-dairy milks for us.

I just made some hemp milk yesterday from hemp seeds—a quarter cup of hemp seeds mixed with about three cups of water in a blender—easy and nutritious. It comes with essential fatty acids—excellent. And I vary from time to time. You can make your own almond milk just with almonds and water—so many options. Okay. So, I wanted to thank you for listening today. You have been listening to It’s All About Food. And, please, I love to hear your comments and questions. You can send emails to—excuse me—my email is Please let me know your thoughts.

Next week we are going to be talking with Sharon Nazarian. She’s the Vegan Pimp. She has a website And we are going to be talking to her and hearing a lot of inspirational stories. So, thanks for listening. I am Caryn Hartglass, and this has been It’s All About Food. Have a delicious week.

Transcribed by: Maggie Christiansen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *