I heart AR: a blog by an Animal Righter

A Thousand-Year-Old Vegan Poem

In A Thousand-Year-Old Vegan Poem on June 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I No Longer Steal from Nature
by Al-Ma’arri (973-1058)

You are diseased in understanding and religion. Come to me, that you may hear the tidings of sound truth.

Do not unjustly eat what the water has given up, and do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals,

Or the white (milk) of mothers who intended its pure draught for their young, not noble ladies.

And do not grieve the unsuspecting birds by taking eggs; for injustice is the worst of crimes.

And spare the honey which the bees get betimes by their industry from the flowers of fragrant plants;

For they did not store it that it might belong to others, nor did they gather it for bounty and gifts.

I washed my hands of all this; and wish that I perceived my way before my hair went gray!

from “Studies in Islamic Poetry and Mysticsm” by Reynold A. Nicholson. Cambridge University Press, 1921, Cambridge, England.


Al-Ma’arri (973-1057), whose full name was Abu ‘L’Ala Ahmad ibn ‘Abdallah al-Ma’arri, was born in Ma’arra, south of Aleppo, Syria. He was recognized as one of the greatest Arab poets. He became blind at the age of four after being stricken with smallpox. While studying in Baghdad, then the center of learning and poetry, he wrote the Luzūm mā lam yalza (“Unnecessary Necessity,” also known as the Luzūmīyāt “Necessities”) , a large collection of verses that contrasted traditional works with its irregular structure, and his humanist opinions and critiques.

Al-Ma’arri was a rationalist who valued reason above tradition or revelation, and believed in the sanctity of life, urging that no living creature be harmed. At the age of thirty he became a vegan and advocated against the  use of animals for food and fashion on ethical principles. The above poem was taken from a letter written in response to a chief Islamic missionary in Cairo, who requested information on why al-Ma’arri adopted a vegan lifestyle. Here, as in many passages of the Luzūm, he urges abstinence from meat, fish, milk, eggs, and honey on the grounds that the use of animals for food is an injustice to them, as it causes unnecessary suffering. On the same grounds he advocated against the use of animal skins for clothing, recommended wooden shoes, and chastises high-society women who wear furs.

He denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion, and lived as a philosopher for whom reason is a moral guide and virtue is its own reward. His critiques must have surely offended the privileged members of his society; Reynold Nicholson says of him, “Amidst his meditations on the human tragedy, a fierce hatred of injustice, hypocrisy, and superstition blazes out.”

Disaster Preparedness for You and Your Companion Animals

In Disaster Preparedness on May 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm


In light of the recent catastrophic events in Moore Oklahoma, it is a poignant reminder to all of us to prepare for disasters, no matter what form it takes. Here in the Pacific Northwest region, we are at risk for earthquake activity, owing to the many fault lines that run along the Pacific coastline, as well as effects of tsunamis. Many low-lying areas are also prone to flooding, and tornadoes–while rare in this region–are not out of the question. No matter what area of the country you live in, there are potentials for severe events, both natural and unnatural–there is no place in this country that is guaranteed 100% safe and insulated from something unfortunate happening; you may not get tornadoes but you may get wind-storms that can knock out power and block roads with downed trees for days; you may not get hurricanes but you may get flooded. We must take preparations to be able to survive on our own for a period of time, and ensure the survival of those who depend on us, such as our companion animals.


After being lucky enough to survive an initial disaster, the infrastructure we depend on may not be functional; there may no longer be access to food or running water, electricity or shelter, so planning ahead for such contingencies increases your chance of surviving for a period of time in case rescue crews or relief supplies are not able to reach you for a few days. Especially after a substantially destructive event with widespread damage, help may not come for some time (after the Moore tornado, first-responders at first were not able to get into the affected neighborhoods because of the extensive amount of debris blocking roadways), so it is best to plan ahead; imagine taking a camping trip for a week and you’ll get some idea of what you’ll need. Speaking of camping, many of us in this region do so, so there is the added advantage of having those supplies and gear at our disposal. Failing that, you can compile such items now and it will serve the dual purpose of being available for that trip you’ve been wanting to take in the mountains.

It will take some time and money to compile these kits, but it is important to start now and add to it as time and money allows; every little bit you add will greatly improve your situation later should the unthinkable happen. We recommend compiling one go-kit for each member of your household, including special items for your companion animal(s), and stowing camping gear in your available vehicles. There are special items you can compile for the home, but be aware that after a flood, earthquake, or tornado, your residence may be compromised enough to be unsafe for habitation, if it is left standing at all.

Vegans will have to ensure that there is enough food stocked up and packed away. Relief supplies, once they come, may not be all vegan, so having enough food for at least 7 days is recommended. Energy bars are convenient, especially in the Go-Kits, but they are expensive. Better to stock up at home on canned soups, beans and vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, and avoid foods like rice, noodles, and instant mixes as they require heat and a lot of precious water to prepare. There are now available quite a few packaged vacuum-sealed meals (usually Indian or Thai curries) that are vegan.

Another consideration for vegans is the inclusion of first-aid kits. There are many pre-packaged first-aid kits on the market, but many of them have products either with animal ingredients or are manufactured by companies that conduct testing on animals. It is better to make your own, using items from safe manufacturers. A list of recommended items are below.

Discuss an evacuation plan with all members of your household and how to notify each other in case of separation. Note that phone and internet communication networks may either be inoperable or overloaded, but establish an out-of-town/state contact person that each person can check in with, or use the same social networking sites. Discuss alternate meet-up places. If you have children, make sure they know their basic personal information should they get separated, know alternate contacts and meeting sites, and role-play with them on what to do and where to go as well as how to get hold of 911 and other contacts.

Your companion animals need special attention and planning. Make sure any licenses are current, and each animal has an ID tag. Consider micro-chips. Keep an updated list of trusted neighbors who could assist your companion animals in case of an emergency. Make sure they are comfortable being inside carriers. Fasten down aquariums and other cages to their tables to prevent them from tipping over. If you evacuate, locate all your animals and keep them with you. Be aware that shelters will only allow service animals. In a large-scale disaster, animal shelters will be set up when possible.

If there is absolutely no way to take your companion animals with you, inform animal rescue workers of your pets’ status: On your front door or in a highly visible window, use chalk, paint or marker to write the number and types of pets in your residence. Include their location in your home and the date that you evacuated. Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over. Leave plenty of food in timed feeders to prevent your pet from overeating. Absolutely do *not* tie up your pet in your home. The first chance you can get communications, find out who among neighbors, friends, or rescue workers can get to your place.

The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is never as critical to follow as preparing for a disaster. It is worth it to start now, and even if you cannot afford to get everything at this point get what you can, and continue to build upon your kits, because every little bit will prove to be invaluable should the unexpected happen. And especially for those of us who have others who depend on us, like companion animals, and those who are living as vegans, it is important to place extra consideration to ensure that as many living beings survive as possible.

FIRST-AID KIT (in a small plastic container)

+ First-aid manual
+ Sterile gauze pads of different sizes
+ Adhesive tape
+ Adhesive bandages in several sizes
+ Elastic bandage
+ A splint
+ Antiseptic wipes
+ Soap
+ Antibiotic ointment
+ Antiseptic solution (like hydrogen peroxide)
+ Cold packs/Heat packs (wrap in towel prior to use)
+ Tweezers
+ Sharp scissors
+ Safety pins
+ Disposable gloves

GO-KIT (in a backpack)

+ LED-flashlight
+ First-aid kit (as noted above)
+ Bottled water
+ Dried food like soy jerkies, energy bars, dried fruit, granola, etc.
+ Permanent marker, paper, tape to leave behind notes
+ Whistle
+ Flare or warning light to signal planes/helicopters
+ Multi-tool knife
+ Matches in waterproof container or cigarette lighter
+ Rain poncho
+ Warm hat/gloves
+ Sturdy shoes
+ A change of clothes
+ Emergency Mylar blanket (aka thermal blanket, Space Blanket, first-aid blanket)
+ Extra glasses, contact cases, contact solutions, other vital personal items
+ Prescription medication
+ Travel-size toothpaste and toothbrush
+ Photos of family members/companion animals for ID purposes
+ Copy of health insurance and identification cards
+ List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
+ Extra keys
+ Emergency cash in small denominations

COMPANION-ANIMAL GO-KIT (in a shoulder bag)

+ Carrier with blanket (Store with bag)
+ Sturdy leashes and muzzles for dogs.
+ Food, potable water and medicine/supplements for at least one week
+ Non-spill bowls, manual can opener (if using canned food)
+ Plastic bags for sanitation
+ Recent photo of each pet
+ Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters
+ Copy of your pet’s vaccination history and any medical problems
+ Favorite toy
+ A pillowcase may be a good emergency transport for cats and other small animals

HOME KIT (in large plastic tub)

+ Water*
+ Food (as noted above)
+ Manual can-opener
+ First-aid kit (as noted above)
+ Crowbar (doors that are shut may be jammed)
+ Dust-masks
+ Non-leather heavy-duty work gloves
+ Hand-powered radio
+ Flashlight/batteries
+ Plastic sheeting/duct-tape to cover up broken windows
+ Bucket/heavy plastic bags for sanitation (toilets may not function)
+ Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
+ Rope/twine
+ Plastic tarps
+ A copy of important documents & phone numbers
+ Tools; hammer, nails, staple gun, hacksaw/pruning saw
+ For children provide comfort food and treats, and games

It would be a good idea to store a crowbar, dust-mask (to filter out drywall, insulation, and other dust shaken loose), sturdy shoes, flashlight, and glasses (if you need corrective vision) next to your bed.

CAR KIT (to supplement Go-Kit)

+ Water*
+ Food (as noted above)
+ Sleeping bag(s)
+ Tent
+ Camping mess kit (forks, spoons, knives, metal pots/cups/plates)
+ Camp stove, or matches/cigarette lighter for building camp-fires
+ Extra blankets
+ Flashlight/batteries
+ First-aid kit (as noted above)
+ Emergency road-side kit (usually includes flares and tools)
+ In-car chargers for cell-phones and other communication devices
+ CB Radio
+ Change of clothes
+ Warm hat/gloves


In a disaster, water supplies may be cut off or contaminated. Store enough water for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days. Store one gallon of water per person, per day. Three gallons per person per day will give you enough to drink and for limited cooking and personal hygiene. Remember to plan for your companion animals.

If you store tap water:
Tap water from a municipal water system can be safely stored without additional treatment. Store water in food grade plastic containers, such as clean 2-liter soft drink bottles. Heavy duty, reusable plastic water containers are also available at sporting goods stores. Empty milk bottles are not recommended because their lids do not seal well and bottles may develop leaks. Label and store in a cool, dark place. Replace water at least once every six months.

If you buy commercially bottled “spring” or “drinking” water:
Keep water in its original container, and don’t re-store a bottle once it’s been opened. Store in a cool, dark place. If bottles are not marked with the manufacturer’s expiration date, label with the date and replace bottles at least once per year.

Treating water after a disaster:
If you run out of stored drinking water, strain and treat water from your water heater or the toilet reservoir tank (except if you use toilet tank cleaners). Swimming pool or spa water should not be consumed but you can use it for flushing toilets or washing.

Treatment process:
Strain any large particles of dirt by pouring the water through layers of paper towels or clean cloth. Next, purify the water one of two ways:
Boil – bring to a rolling boil and maintain for 3-5 minutes. After the water cools, pour it back and forth between two clean containers to add back oxygen; this will improve its taste.
Disinfect – If the water is clear, add 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water. If it is cloudy, add 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) per gallon. Make sure you are using regular bleach— 5.25% percent sodium hypochlorite— rather than the “ultra” or “color safe” bleaches. Shake or stir, then let stand 30 minutes. A slight chlorine taste and smell is normal.

In an earthquake, since it happens suddenly and without warning, it is important to know what to do. It is a myth that the safest place is under a doorway; in modern structures, the doorway is no stronger than the rest of the building–in fact, you’re likely to get injured from doors swinging wildly, and if it’s a public building, people may shove past you to hurry through. Instead, drop, get under cover, and hold on. Many people make the mistake of standing, running, or trying to keep furniture from falling over—all major earthquake no-nos. When an earthquake strikes, don’t run or try to escape. Search for cover as close to you as possible; if you’re in bed, stay curled up and protect your head with a pillow. If you’re driving, pull over to the side when it’s safe, and stay off bridges and going underneath overpasses.

The “Find of a Lifetime,” Killed for “Research”

In The "Find of a Lifetime," Killed for "Research" on April 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

As reported a few days ago, scientists in South Sudan have discovered an entirely new bat, so-called a “panda bat” because of the unusual black and white markings. Such a discovery was so rare that the bat was determined to be in an entirely new genus (a step up from species). Researchers from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Institution and the Islamic University in Uganda showcased the bat, Niumbaha superba, in the journal Zookeys. Niumbaha means ‘rare’ or ‘unusual’ in Zande, the language of the Azande people in Western Equatoria State, where the bat was captured. Bucknell Associate Professor of Biology DeeAnn Reeder, who made the discovery, said it was the “find of a lifetime.”

Unfortunately, instead of documenting the discovery with photographs and releasing the bat back into the wild, the rare creature was killed and is being kept as a specimen in the Smithsonian. And according to bat conservationists, the news about how the bat was ultimately handled and killed was covered up.

The new bat, Niumbaha superba, shown both alive and dead

The new bat, Niumbaha superba, shown both alive and dead

The researchers contend that their procedures and practices conform to the guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Society of Mammalogists, and the Internal Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at Bucknell University. However, such guidelines provide rudimentary and minimal standards that promote the view that the ends justify the means, and violations of those standards brings almost no enforcement. Answering to charges of mishandling the bat, scientists argue “The way the bat is being handled does not hurt the bat. Holding back the wings prevents the bat from hurting itself while being held. This is a standard (and temporary) way to hold a bat for things like photos and/or to study certain characteristics of bats.”

However, according to the Bat World Sanctuary, “Researchers scruff bats to get photographs and to avoid being bitten. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the safety of the bat. Any bat care professional can tell you that when bats are held in a manner that is *comfortable* to them, they rarely attempt to bite and photos are easily obtained.”

The Smithsonian is the same institution that captured and allowed 40 critically endangered Virginia big-eared bats to slowly die over a period of months because they would not use standard husbandry protocols for bats or listen to advice that could have saved the bats.

It is also noteworthy that in the published paper announcing the new bat genus, despite the meticulous measurements made and of the comparisons to other bat genera, the gender was not disclosed. One can reasonably presume a 50% chance the  bat was female, immediately raising concerns that with a genus of bat so rare–such that sightings are indeed once in a lifetime–the killing of this bat means she can’t reproduce and the risk of extinction is even higher.

Obtaining knowledge about the world we are inhabiting should include the knowledge about affording the respect all animals deserve. We don’t have to kill living beings to learn about them.

Conservation efforts being made by Bat World SanctuaryBat Conservation International as well as other groups to save and protect bats. Please support their work, share this post, and speak out against cruelty and killing of all wildlife.


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