Speciesism The Movie – discussion snippet

ANON Pretty sure I will show this in my Real Cost of Food class this fall. Great film!

Ria Del Montana nice. is that philosophy, cooking, ecology… Do you have it posted somewhere online?

ANON A mix of all those things. The class basically explores the many social and environmental costs associated with producing, processing, distributing, consuming and disposing of food. I don’t have the syllabus online anywhere, but have considered developing it as a Salon that I can offer online to non-college students who are interested in the topic.

Ria Del Montana If I may ask, how did you get interested in this?

ANON If by “this” you mean the social and environmental impacts of food, there were a lot of things that contributed. While working on my BS in college (studying ecology and evolution) I also practiced with a Zen meditation group and was intrigued with the vegetarian and vegan philosophy attached to Buddhism. In addition to pushing me to become vegetarian and eventually vegan, my experience in the Zen group also inspired me to clean and simplify my life. Health-wise I didn’t do so well on a vegan diet though (or on a vegetarian one), so these days I consider myself a conscientious omnivore who explores the nuance of ethics, killing and eating. That’s the short version, anyway.

Ria Del Montana Surely you remember what it felt like to hold the ethics of veganism. So you do understand that I’d be remiss if I neglected to inquire as to why you left veganism, and then to get you back on track. If you don’t want to go there, that’s fine, I’ll just drop by for a visit tomorrow. jj

ANON I do remember what it felt like. Looking back at those ethics I understand why I found them attractive. They were simple, black and white, and at that time in my life that sort of simple philosophy was very appealing. Killing animals is bad, living in a way that avoids killing animals is good. Part of what led me away from veganism was the realization that while my diet didn’t require the killing of animals, it did require the killing of plants and fungi. I wondered what was wrong with plants and fungi that made killing and eating them okay, while killing animals wasn’t. While there are obvious differences in appearance between plants/fungi and animals, the former group was certainly no less alive and research has shown that plants and fungi can respond to physical damage (aka feel pain), think, strategize, communicate, and exhibit other behaviors that we value so highly in animals and, above all, our own species. Drawing such a stark line between plants, fungi and animals seems quite arbitrary to me now.

ANON And as an afterthought, I’m curious why you feel comfortable killing and eating plants and (I assume) fungi, but you don’t feel comfortable killing and eating animals?

Ria Del Montana that’s another of those challenges that keeps coming from nonvegans. i think this may be the first time i’ve been authentically asked that question. in my time as a forest steward i’ve grown aware of the feelings and intelligence of all life, so I’ve given this a good deal of consideration. I remember when I was a toddler, I refused to eat fish because I knew it was an animal. I remember that primitive feeling of not so much disgust, but unnaturalness, for me to consume what I perceive to be an animal. My belief is that humans have always been folio-frugivores by our nature, but in dire times we can eat outside our natural diet, like many animals. That’s why there’s such a long history of stories and rituals to overcome our nature in order to hurt and eat animals. Have you ever read Jim Mason’s An Unnatural Order? A friend just recently recommended it to me, and it resonated strongly with what I’ve felt my whole life. For me the litmus test is simple: when I’m in my wildest being, I forage plants easily. But I can’t fathom putting even an insect in my mouth, much less capturing a lizard or fish to kill, tear its flesh, and eat. So for me, I am by my nature a predator of plants, fungi, etc., but not animals.

ANON What is it about plants that allow you to forage them easily, while at the same time you can’t fathom putting even an insect in your mouth? In asking this, I’m reminded of frequent foraging trips down to the Intervale, a region in my city down by a river where there are several small farms that aren’t allowed to use pesticides. I’m friends with several of the farmers, and have permission to walk their rows and gather whatever wild edibles I want. As I walk it’s common for me to grab insects and eat them on the spot, including certain types of caterpillars and definitely grasshoppers. I don’t feel any difference when eating plants vs animals (in this case insects). Either way I’m killing. And I view both plants and animals as a necessary part of my own diet, and both have been vital to all humans throughout history as far as archeologists can tell.

Ria Del Montana though i never ate fish because that feeling was so strong, i didn’t realize chicken & hamburgers were animals, so i did eat them. when i finally realized that those too were animals, they had been normalized as part of my diet, so i didn’t stop eating them until i was 17. all those years the feeling was just a nagging feeling in the background, nothing close to the feeling i had about fish. this tells me the power of normalization. in civilization we humans live in deep denial on many issues in order to cope with our own everyday existence. i remember when my son was one, without ever doing it before or seeing anyone else do it, he went up to a grapevine and picked a grape to eat. what an epiphany, it came so natural for him. when i was a toddler, and when he was a toddler, we never foraged insects. perhaps if we were in a culture where foraging insects was the norm, we would have overcome our natural instinct to do that. i’m rambling, but all i can really say is that the difference in feeling between eating animals and eating plants is instinct. primal.

Animal Ethics: animal suffering in nature

Animals in nature new website section Animal Ethics is pleased to announce a new section on its website dedicated to the situation of animals in the wild. This is a very important issue that affects an enormous number of animals but has been underaddressed and underresearched until recent times. Fortunately, though, the tide is changing, as more people are realizing that animals in nature need our help just as those exploited by humans do.

With this new section we intend to contribute to this change of attitude. The section is divided in three parts, which you can visit here:

Why animal suffering in nature matters

The situation of animals in the wild

Aiding animals in nature

This section contains a collection of papers exploring the various aspects of animals living in the wild. You will find papers explaining the reasons for the prevalence of animal suffering and premature death in nature. These include disease, malnutrition and thirst, hostile weather conditions, physical injuries, psychological stress, antagonism between animals (which includes parasitic and predation relations) and natural disasters.

The section also includes papers which, by considering both population dynamics and the evolutionary reasons underlying them, clarify the indicators used to evaluate whether suffering prevails over happiness in nature. These papers also explain the arguments why animals in the wild can be harmed in the same ways as domesticated animals and humans, and why we should care about this.

More practical papers detail different ways we can help those animals in need in nature. The topics they address include rescuing trapped animals, vaccinating and healing sick and injured animals, sheltering orphan wild animals, providing food and water to hungry and thirsty animals, and aiding animals affected by fires and natural disasters.

Furthermore, this new section also examines what courses of action we can follow in order to learn more about the issue of animals suffering in nature and raise concern about it, so, in the future, more significant actions are carried out to intervene in favor of these animals.

The papers include long lists of scientific references as well as many real world examples documented with videos or addressed in the media. We intend for this section to be a helpful resource for those wishing to do research about animal suffering in nature. More significantly, we hope it can help raise concern about this important topic and provide a useful tool for antispeciesist activists wanting to help all sentient animals.



Guns, empires and Indians

Multilateral imperial politics triggered an indigenous arms race and led to the violent transformation of Native America

It has become commonplace to attribute the European conquest of the Americas to Jared Diamond’s triumvirate of guns, germs and steel. Germs refer to plague, measles, flu, whooping cough and, especially, the smallpox that whipsawed through indigenous populations, sometimes with a mortality rate of 90 per cent. The epidemics left survivors ill-equipped to fend off predatory encroachments, either from indigenous or from European peoples, who seized captives, land and plunder in the wake of these diseases.

Guns and steel, of course, represent Europeans’ technological prowess. Metal swords, pikes, armour and firearms, along with ships, livestock and even wheeled carts, gave European colonists significant military advantages over Native American people wielding bows and arrows, clubs, hatchets and spears. The attractiveness of such goods also meant that Indians desired trade with Europeans, despite the danger the newcomers represented. The lure of trade enabled Europeans to secure beachheads on the East Coast of North America, and make inroads to the interior of the continent. Intertribal competition for European trade also enabled colonists to employ ‘divide and conquer’ strategies against much larger indigenous populations.

Diamond’s explanation has grown immensely popular and influential. It appears to be a simple and sweeping teleology providing order and meaning to the complexity of the European conquest of the Western hemisphere. The guns, germs and steel perspective has helped further understanding of some of the major forces behind globalisation. But it also involves a level of abstraction that risks obscuring the history of individuals and groups whose experiences cannot be so aptly and neatly summarised.

Invoking guns, germs and steel, or Alfred Crosby’s older catchphrase ‘Virgin Soil Epidemics’ (1976), as a blanket explanation for colonial American history can fundamentally misrepresent the historical experience. It can both erase the experiences of some Native peoples that did not adhere to these schemas, and reduce the staggering violence that Euro-Americans inflicted on Native people to a kind of over-determined background noise.

At a time when people are debating the nature and origins of globalisation, and the making and meaning of modern American society, we need a careful and more sophisticated understanding of this crucial chapter in history. Similarly, thinking of Indians as pawns in a fixed game overlooks how many of them harnessed colonial forces to their own agendas, for greater or lesser periods of time. Many Native peoples carved out lives for themselves amid the destructiveness and degradation of Euro-American rule.

Scholarship is uncovering the myriad ways that Native people addressed the ruin of epidemic disease. These responses included binding together with previously distinct communities to form more viable tribal groups or confederacies, raiding neighbouring peoples for captives to buttress their populations, instituting quarantines to check subsequent outbreaks, and experimenting with Christianity or new Native religious rituals in search of spiritual succour. Through such measures, some groups, the Cherokees, Iroquois and Blackfeet, for example, not only managed to rebuild their numbers, but probably grew more powerful than before.

Continue reading “Guns, empires and Indians”

Techno-utopia, Elon Musk and the Modern Suicide Cult(ure), by Julian Langer

October 8, 2016 at 1:25 pm


Worshipers of the great God of civilisation – Technology – are destroying the planet and the life forms – human and non-human, flora and fauna – that inhabit this little ball of rock in the Milky Way galaxy. They will reduce this once thriving, living, biotic-community to a dystopian nothingness akin to that of cyber-punk science fiction.

Many might claim it’s unfair to characterise the techno-utopian vision as a suicide cult. Many readers will be thinking – “how can we save the planet without new technology?” Bear with me…


Karl Marx described religion as the opiate of the masses, as it dulled their senses and kept them passive and accepting of the alienation of capitalist, industrialist culture. This idea has been embraced by atheists seeking to demonize religion as the principle cause of all the world’s ills. But it has long become apparent to those critical of Enlightenment philosophies that the cult(ure) of Scientism – epitomised through contemporary digital-techno-culture – is the new religion of the day, the opiate of the masses.

The father of much of modern psychology, Freud, provided a similar description of religion. Freud argued religion served to repress and sublimate individual desire into activities that serve the culture. This, he argued, produces neurosis and mental illness in those that civilisation seeks to domesticate. This appears obviously true to those of us who share a green anarchist/radical environmentalist/anti-civ perspective.

The narcotic opium works through mimicking the effects of the endorphins our bodies produce to manage pain and create feelings of calm and well-being. This is exactly what technology is meant to do – manage pain and create sensations of calm and well-being. It’s what existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger termed inauthenticity.


When undergoing the sensations of opium we forget about the Real natural world, where we are mortal animal beings, fighting to survive. We are inauthentic. The drug distances our perceptions from these aspects of Being. Technology works the same way as religion, distracting us from our deaths with feelings of invincibility and immortality.

Virtual “Reality”?

In the “Be Right Back” episode of the TV series Black Mirror, the character Martha uses a service that simulates her dead husband through his social media profiles – this starts off as just a voice simulator and culminates in a totalising robotic unfulfilling replacement, resulting in conflicting emotions for her, where she is unable to either live with or without the artificial husband she has forged a relationship with.

Is this not the relationship we have with technology in this contemporary culture? This culture seems defined by these attempts to remain immortal through social media, hating it at all moments because of what it does to our lives, but unable to escape the spectacle of media, memes, video clips, hashtags and selfies. This is inauthenticity.

Be Right Back

Japan is undergoing a bizarre cultural phenomenon in which people are no longer seeking sexual relations – the most intimate and wildly natural aspect left to us within domestication. As a replacement, thousands of men are a playing a video game that simulates a girlfriend. Websites like invisiblegirlfriend.com and karigirl.com provide virtual girlfriends, propagating the notion that a relationship with a woman is an act of pure consumption for the pleasure of men. There is no physicality to these relationships – no contact, no risk, nothing… an emptiness, an abyss.

Bank of America analysts and SpaceX founder Elon Musk have made the claim that the world around us is probably a virtual reality. This is an extension of the solipsistic, brain-in-jar, Matrix-type of argument that says the world outside of the self is unknowable.

This solipsistic position can only exist as a problem within the language-based modes of acquiring truth of this culture. This is because language functions as a technology that acts as a substitute for the relevant “Thing” and is designed to created auditory and Symbolic pictures of the Real. Within civilisation, especially digital-techno-industrial-civilisation, the self exists as an object of language, as a transcendental entity, always out of reach.

This is what religions do – including atheistic ones like Humanism and its sibling Scientism – they tie our self-hoods to stuff that exists purely in language: God, society, the soul, manifest destiny. They exist as what Max Stirner called “spooks.” They started with civilisation – agrarian, non-hunter-gather, ways of life – and its need to create socially-normative moral narratives for sedentary life, from Gilgamesh deforesting the cedar forests of Mesopotamia all the way to the nightmarish acts of ecocide that are the business-as-usual of this culture.

Gilgamesh culture


Continue reading “Techno-utopia, Elon Musk and the Modern Suicide Cult(ure), by Julian Langer”

A Vegan Ethic for the Untamed

By | October 23, 2016 | Categories Animal Rights

Copyright Critterbiz / 123RF Stock Photo

What does a deer, a wolf, or a coyote have to do with vegan activism?

A lot. Veganism is the platform for defending the untamed. That’s what the vegan ethic is ultimately all about.

A vegan humanity wouldn’t hunt deer. We wouldn’t run cattle and sheep ranches. A vegan humanity wouldn’t compete against and kill natural predators to keep more deer to ourselves or sell more lambs to the butcher.

Connect the next dot, and we find a link between persecuting predators and killing deer. Go downtown to protest the annual deer kill, and there’s always that one passer-by who shouts (perhaps sarcastically): “Bring back the wolves!”

Well, maybe the wolves are returning on their own. As the Great Lakes wolves mix with eastern coyotes, coyote-wolf hybrids are alive and well—and deer constitute a third of their diets. A third! “Deer problem” solved, right?

Not so fast. For how can coyotes do their jobs with state hunting and trapping rules dead-set against them? Bobcats are targets too, though they’d curb the deer population to some degree if we’d give them a chance. Then maybe there’d be no basis to call deer shooters into towns and cities.

Refuges Become Battlegrounds

Today, not even the parks are safe havens. Valley Forge National Historical Park, outside Philadelphia, wants its deer population down from 1,277 to fewer than 185. Beginning in November 2010 under a four-year plan, Valley Forge shot 1,433 deer—substantially more than the starting population. The deer just won’t keep themselves below the limit! So Valley Forge officials announced they’d keep shooting deer indefinitely.

The Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia followed the same killing strategy. And in Rock Creek National Park in Washington, D.C., managers say taking “no action” against deer would mean “decreased plant diversity, increased invasive exotic plants, and reduced forest regeneration, which would adversely affect a large percentage of habitats for other wildlife (e.g., ground-nesting birds, frogs, snakes, and turtles).”

Of note here is research conducted in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, backed by the National Park Service itself, showing robust deer populations enrich soil, with ripple effects throughout the food web, starting with earthworms, spiders, ants, slugs, snails and insects, snakes and salamanders. Maybe the biological capacity of any given place for deer is higher than most managers know.

Whatever science might tell us, the human “cultural carrying capacity” is the big issue. Park managers were pressed for years by locals who don’t like their gardens nibbled.

The Valley Forge plan states it outright: “The presence of deer on neighboring properties has been linked to loss and damage of ornamental vegetation.” Rock Creek’s plan declares: “An overabundance of deer could lead to increased browsing of landscape vegetation on neighboring properties, having a negative economic impact on those landowners.”

Local attitudes have to be considered in actions taken under the National Environmental Policy Act. Yet the Park Service’s mission “preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values” of its sites. How much should public pressure influence managers to impair what nature produces? Should government biologists follow popular opinion when the time is right to help shape it?


At the Wissahickon Valley Park, on the northwest edge of Philadelphia, indigenous deer are systematically baited and killed each winter. Many locals have no idea. Here, Lee Hall raises awareness and stands in public opposition. Photo credit: Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer

Future Control Plans

Continue reading “A Vegan Ethic for the Untamed”

Stewardship Sharing snippet with Kytko Žrout

Hi Ria, it is me – Kytko Žrout from Fakelook. Thank you for response. Yes I know about the invassive plant species spreading from gardens. We had similar situation here in Czech Republic when people started to plant chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis). This shrub is host of fungal pathogen called “rez hrušňová” and it started spreading to the rest of virgin polycultural forests where it have attacked wild pears and sweet cherry (Prunus avium) so most of them started to wither away especially in combination with Czech forest service as economical industry planting spruce trees everywhere. I am reading your blog and I found this https://veganarchoprimitivism.com/2016/10/06/ria-restoration-experiment-snippets/ I hope I understood it correctly. So you used a combination of two plants to eradicate English Holly? Was your experiment succesfull? What kind of willow was that you used? Have you had to adjust soil Ph somehow?

Hi Kytko,

Wow, Prunus avium is invasive in our forests. So funny how our native species have traveled about to become invasive in each other’s bioregions!

Our English Holly experiment just started. It will take at least 3 years to complete, and it’s very small scale. If you have English Holly as an invasive, you’re probably aware of the challenges with its control. Our Parks department has resorted to injecting them with herbicide, so I’m trying to experiment with nonpoisonous methods.

Our 3 primary willows here are Salix scouleriana, Salix hookeriana, and Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra.

Permaculture is a bit different than forest restoration. We mainly just cope with whatever soil conditions by adjusting planting plans. The adjustments that we do make replicate nature more, like using various forest debris as compost to loosen compacted soil, or planting for slope stabilization.

I know very little about gardening or permaculture.

Feel free to give any input or feedback for my blog.

Stay in touch! Much affinity!

Rio Montana

That is really funny about the invasive species being spreaded because of human desire to improve just his environment (cities or towns) and he is not able to see consequences of his actions. Yes I agree that permaculture is totally different and it cannot be compared with forest restoration but still I personally see a little mentions of rewilding in permaculture or at least tiny steps rewilding. For example the story of my lot (yard, garden, land, do not know what is correct) was very sad. I inherited it from my great-grandfather when I was 18. The land was totally destroyed with heavy machinery and -cides because after WWII the communists confiscated the land and turned it into field, highly producing peas to feed the cows. So the first two years I put the land to car of Mother Nature to purificate the soil but the residues of -cides and oils were very high so I came to help with planting few Salix caprea trees which were able to accumulate trace elements and it worked. And the wild bees, attracted with blossoms, returned to feed themselves on these willows and then I started with permaculture design, actually I use it from 60% and I left the rest of land to wildlife as a hideout. Before I left my home I illegaly planted these willows around the edges of forests near streams pouring through abandoned agriculture land as well as birch tree considered by Forest Service as “undesirable economic tree”. The same with Sorbus aucuparia, the rowan tree.  My silent fight against those who taught me about these things around trees, forest environment and how to destroy forests for the economic cause. I always preffer practice in front of philosophy because I am not too much thinking when it comes to ideologies or politics. You know – origin of time, language, art… It is just completion for you to know what are my thoughts or ideas etc.🙂 I hope I am not doing too much grammar mistakes. But I wanted to ask you: How will the combination of willow and black berry work? It has some combination of suppresive effects to English Holly? Some hormones or mechanical effects?

I can read your English easily. Sorry I cannot communicate in your first language as well.

Very interesting story. Ok if I post our conversation on my blog?

There were 2 different experiments, the first replacing Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry) on a steep slope, the second exploring a non-herbicide method for controlling Ilex aquifolium (English holly).

The first involves staking 6′ – 12′ live stakes of Salix scouleriana (Scouler’s willow) throughout the blackberry infestation. The stakes will be placed deeper than the blackberry roots to outcompete for water and nutrients, and taller than the blackberry canes to outcompete for sun. After the willow roots are established enough to stabilize the slope, we could safely remove the blackberry and underplant with site appropriate native species.

The second is simply repeat cutting holly shoots stemming up from cut holly trunks.

Peace mi amigo!

Rio Montana