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Arukah Launch Live-Streamed
Marc Bekoff, Jeff Sebo, Dana Ellyn, Annie Potts, Steve Jenkins and Esther the wonder pig, and Claudia Hirtenfelder

It was a dream conversation about more-than-human animals from wide-ranging perspectives and on a variety of topics—from California’s Prop 12 to pluralism to using art, literature, poetry, and music for inspiration to falling in love with a pig to seeing animals as individuals—an exhilarating flow of ideas and capaciousness in thought, indelible, rare, and magical.  Incandescent stories told. The celebrated Esther the Wonder Pig was even there! Our other esteemed guests included Marc Bekoff, Jeff Sebo, Dana Ellyn, Annie Potts, Steve Jenkins, and Claudia Hirtenfelder. 

Pigs and Pathogens 
Pigs and Pathogens: What’s on Your Plate? Rather, WHO’s on Your Plate?

We are showcasing a video about pigs on factory farms, industrial animal agriculture, places of terrible despair, desperation, and death.  It is an unforgiving barren concrete darkness for pigs, chickens, turkeys, cows, sheep, fishes, among others condemned to factory farming (fish are kept in their own hellish aquafarms), who are denied access to even a slice of sunlight from the outside world. Mutilated and diminished, they are injected full of antibiotics to promote growth and to survive in these sordid, disease-ridden, suffocatingly overcrowded environments (a staggering 70% of antibiotics in the US are used in animals in this way, creating the frightening prospect of antibiotic resistance because of rampant overuse). 

Pregnant pigs, or sows, are confined in gestation or metal crates so infinitesimally small that they can’t even turn around or barely lie down without a herculean struggle. When the piglets are born, the sows are moved into a farrowing crate with her piglets until they are soon snatched away, leaving the mothers utterly bereft and screaming in agony, one of the most sorrowful sounds you will ever hear in the world. And then the process begins again and again. Mechanized, industrialized production of crates and crates of torment.

The bacon and ham and ribs and sausage we love so much? This is it.

The mind-boggling conditions in which pigs, who are closely linked to humans genetically, are raised is a surefire way to help spread zoonotic diseases. Even before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic moved menacingly across species, existing zoonotic diseases—deadly pathogens jumping from animals to humans—have been increasing at an alarming rate. Three out of four of all emerging infectious diseases originate in animal populations: SARS-CoV-2, SARS, MERS, Ebola, HIV, Zika, H1N1, or swine flu, Cholera.

Dr. Michael Greger, author of "Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching", said: If you actually want to create global pandemics, then build factory farms.”  These macabre, nightmarish farms help to spread and amplify pathogens, which may be zoonotic—all contributing to what the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control consider to be among our planet’s biggest health threats.

Along with the looming cataclysmic effects of animal-based industrial agriculture on the planet and using half of the Earth’s habitable land to grow our food, everything comes down to the food we eat, the animals we consume — 75 billion individual lives a year, extinguished, snuffed out.


Perhaps the stories the pigs tell in their grunts, screams, agonizing wailing is that they want to taste freedom themselves. They simply want to live.


In a world where pigs are free to live as actual pigs, mother pigs ready to give birth excitedly and painstakingly build nests, often elaborate, with flowers, ferns, twigs, grasses, branches, and other touches of nature, to create a perfect paradise for their piglets. And, astonishingly, the mothers, while nursing, sing to their babies.


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