Thinking About Animals Thinking – Part 1 – Your Thanksgiving Turkey and Christmas Ham

We are animals.

All animals live in a system with other animals. Animals are sentient, thoughtful beings.

Some animal classifications are predators, some are prey. There are carnivores, herbivores and omnivores. Some hunt, and some cooperate. Some are social pack animals and others are solitary. Some are roamers or migrators and others are territorial. Some have hierarchies and others have democracies.

Most animals have complex communication capabilities and a similar range of emotions as humans, such as fear, jealousy and depression. Most animals form strong bonds with other beings and mourn their losses.

Humans who think about how other animals think and understand the behavior of other animals can greatly improve their own lives and their communication and connection with other humans and their environment.

But there are two very prominent and important ways that humans interact with animals in the modern world: food and pets.

Part 1 is about food. Part 2 is about pets.

Over 10,000 years ago, humans started transitioning from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural society. For many thousands of years, farms were small and animal husbandry was a mostly humane practice. But with an explosion in population and corporations taking over our food system, humans have become so far removed from understanding our food systems, and thinking about the animals as sentient beings, that animals started to be treated as if they have no feelings or thoughts.

Going vegan is great option for some people. BUT… since a very small portion of the population is vegan, and many of us lost the ability to hunt, we need an option to eat farm animals while treating them properly.

The way a society treats animals is usually an indication of how they treat humans, so most of us should want all animals treated humanely, including the humans who work in the food system.

  • Humane treatment of livestock animals includes reducing or eliminating fear and pain, but also allowing the animal to act out their innate behaviors such as foraging, grazing, being outdoors, etc…
  • Humane treatment of us human animals, includes a safe work environment, respectful and dignified treatment and earning a fair wage.

So, for those of us who do care about other beings (which is probably most of us!), then this holiday season, let’s try to support humane practices.

  • Give thanks if you have the financial means to support your local farmer and spend a little extra to support animals and workers who are treated well.
  • Give thanks if you have plentiful access to real, fresh food.
  • Give thanks if you can pay a little more and eat a little less.

For those of us visiting a host and don’t have an option of where the food was sourced, think about the animal that was your turkey or ham and what kind of a life that animal lived. How were the workers treated and paid?

Practice eating consciously. 

Maybe at least just take smaller portions and skip the second helpings of animal products. Small steps by the masses, means moving toward a more humane society.

And, when eating animals, always give thanks that these sentient beings have provided you with nutrition, sustenance, and have given you a chance to gather and celebrate with family, friends and community.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment about your conscious eating habits.


Thank you Mother Nature. You saved 2017.

The story goes that an American once sent a message to NASA: “Thank you Apollo 8. You saved 1968.”

1968 was a bad year. There was the assassination of Martin Luther King. And Robert Kennedy. There was the Vietnam War overseas and riots at home.

But, when Apollo 8 became the first spacecraft to successfully orbit the moon, millions of Americans and people from around the world watched in awe and wonder to bring a happy ending to an otherwise, very sad year.

Well, 2017 is shaping up to be a tough year as well. Political divides are deep. Racial tensions are high. Global relationships are strained. Nuclear war is a real threat. So is environmental devastation. Misogyny is prevalent, and LGBTQ rights are in peril.

But, for 90 minutes, on August 21st, 2017, millions of Americans and our friends from around the globe joined peacefully across the U.S. at events that started in the blue state of Oregon, and ended in the red state of South Carolina. From big cities to small towns.

It didn’t matter the color of your skin, or your country of origin.

It didn’t matter if you were young or old, rich or poor.

It didn’t matter what your political views are or your sexual orientation.

And during this time, instead of everyone looking down at their phones, they were looking up to the sky.

We were simply just humanity brought together by a truly ‘cosmic connection.’

Thank you Mother Nature. You saved 2017.

How about you? Were you able to participate in the eclipse? Did you see totality?

Unfortunately, the eclipse is during a “work day”…


At a recent physics lecture, this is what the presenter said: “Unfortunately, the eclipse is during a work day.”

Again…. Whaaaaaaatttt? This isn’t meant to poke fun at her, but rather at the modern work world. Are we really going to forgo one of life’s most beautiful natural phenomena for a ‘work day’? We evolved over hundreds of thousands of years paying attention to nature, but the 9-5 office job has only been a ‘phenomenon’ in the last century.

It is easy to achieve ‘financial prosperity’, but “primal prosperity” is much harder in the modern world where we are trying to satisfy ‘societal shoulds’ instead of our ‘inner musts’.

People chase eclipses all over the world, and the great American eclipse on August 21st is going to be accessible by a day’s drive to millions of people. This is anticipated to be the greatest American migration… ever. Are you going to be a part of it?

Answer this quiz and leave a comment on how you will or will not participate:

  • I control my schedule and therefore will be able to see the eclipse.
  • I work in the industry and will participate in paid research.
  • I’m a citizen scientist and will participate in voluntary research.
  • I will be drinking a corona, while watching the corona!
  • Eclipse? What eclipse?
  • I’m too important to take a day off work.
  • I put in my PTO request a long time ago in preparation.
  • I have an F-U fund, so I will not be at work, no matter what my boss thinks.
  • I’m taking my kids out of school (you can learn more from experiences than books).
  • Other (please elaborate!)

So, what are you doing for the eclipse?

Girls Gone Wild

No, this isn’t a post about drunk co-eds lifting their shirts. No judgement though, if that’s your thing…

This is about women who have bucked the status quo and chose to break free from ‘cultural captivity’… from the human zoo. They threw ‘societal shoulds’ aside to live their ‘inner musts’. They found their version of freedom. And while, these may not be paths that most people want to take, they can certainly still inspire everyone to takes risks to find their own version of freedom, whatever that may be.

”Jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul.”

Grandma Gatewood – She was the first solo woman to thru hike the Appalachian Trail in one season, and she did it at the ripe young age of 67. She didn’t even have camping gear or hiking boots. In the book, she mentions that her adult children, like most Americans, got themselves stuck in the ‘Great American Immobile Dream’, and that she was finally free. Not just free from consumerism, or taking care of small children… but also free from a long time abusive relationship. She ended up hiking the entire length of the AT 3 times!

Peace Pilgrim – She sold all her possessions and gave away all of her money and just walked around the U.S. with what she could fit in her pockets. She only ate food and slept in homes when strangers offered this to her for free. She walked over 25,000 miles fighting for peace. She was also the first woman to thru hike the Appalachian Trail in one season, although she wasn’t solo: see GG above.

Laura Dekker – The documentary “MaidenTrip”, is about 14-year old Laura Dekker who wanted to be the youngest person to sail around the world… alone.  The Dutch government tried to stop her, but she won the case and set sail. She does all her own filming on the voyage. She mentions in the film how the idea of working and accumulating things and be location dependent sounds so boring…. wow, to figure that out so young is incredible!

Miriam Lancewood – She and her husband live in the wilderness in New Zealand, with no car, no cell phones, no computer, no mirrors… they live by weather patterns, rather than by the clock. And while they do occasionally get some food supplies from conventional agricultural farming products, over the years, this former vegetarian has learned how to mostly hunt and forage for her food. Many times, they will live in areas that are a 4 day walk to a paved road. Oh, and she looks like a Victoria Secret model.

Rita Goldman Gelman – This female nomad found herself divorcing near the age of 50 and had never really travelled much, so she decided to set out for truly an adventure of a lifetime. However, she didn’t just tick off a bucket list of countries with a backpack while staying in hostels… instead, she walked down dusty roads in remote villages in far off exotic places trying to stay with locals who weren’t expecting her, trying to experience their culture, without insulting them with touristy habits. She even got accepted for a volunteer research position at the Charles Darwin Institute in Galapagos. Still nomadic at 70+ years of age, she owns very few possessions, and doesn’t have a “home” of her own, although she has connections all over the world and always has a place to stay.

What about you? Do you have any good stories on people (guys or girls) who have gone so outside of the status quo? Would you live like any of these people? If not, what is your idea of freedom and living on your terms?