Awakening from Scientific Rituals

By Dr. Will Tuttle

We recently began a seven-week lecture tour as part of our ongoing World Peace Diet vegan campaign to raise awareness, and gave a lecture at California Polytechnic Institute in San Luis Obispo a few days ago,       sponsored by the Ethical Eating Club. After the lecture was over, it was early afternoon, and our host, Erika, an organizer of the Central Coast Vegan Network, offered to give us a short tour of the campus.

Being from the Boston area, I had been under the false impression that Cal Poly is a west-coast equivalent of MIT, focusing on mathematics and engineering, but soon realized that it has a large animal agriculture department with over 6,000 acres of ranching operations. Like most of the public state-sponsored land-grant universities that have been set up in virtually every state, there is a strong emphasis on teaching the “science” of animal agriculture to young students.

We drove by the “poultry center,” where chickens are crammed into a windowless shed and students are taught the science of exploiting birds. There was a similarly bleak “swine center.” We visited the “dairy science” center and besides seeing cows in pens, we got out and visited the roughly fifty calves who were each confined to a small, dark fiberglass doghouse. The stench of urine- and feces-soaked hay permeated the area, and the calves, some so young they could barely stand, looked at us with the most beautiful, trusting, and inquisitive eyes imaginable. Their painful separation from their mothers, their distressing isolation, and the complete frustration of their natural yearnings made the absurdity and violence of their plight palpable and haunting. I tried to go to all fifty of them and apologize for the hideous abuse they will be enduring at human hands. It was ironic that there was no security at this facility, other than signs prohibiting the touching of the calves, due to the fact that these conditions, which were deplorable, are considered state-of-the-art and generously adequate for the animals.

Finally, we went by the “meat processing center.” We entered and were asked by a young woman in a white hardhat and a hairnet if she could help us. She informed us that because it was Tuesday, they would be teaching other students how to slaughter a pig. Erika, Madeleine, and I engaged her in a discussion, and she was obviously proud of her status as a teacher’s assistant. Erika attempted to question the necessity of killing animals for food, and the student informed us that the Cal Poly operation had been designed by Temple Grandin, so the animals didn’t suffer, and that she herself had allergies to certain beans and grains so she felt she had to eat meat to get adequate protein. She said that we could watch the “harvest” of the pig through the window of the room at the end of the hall where many students were congregating. If the unfortunate pig had to endure this, I felt I could at least witness it.

The students, about 20 or so, were mainly women undergraduates in the veterinarian or animal science program, and were all waiting for the pig to enter the room. Soon I heard a loud squealing sound and saw a door open into a box and then a man reached over and down with an electrical shocking device and held it for a good ten seconds on the back of the pig, who wasn’t visible behind the wall of the box. Then a mechanical hoist was attached to the leg of the pig and the pig’s stunned pink body was lifted over to the middle of the room. I couldn’t see what happened next because I was behind the students who were all watching, but I could see the pig suddenly shake and twist her free leg, and many of the students looked away or at the floor, so I knew the arteries in the neck were being cut and the pig was bleeding out. Next the body was mechanically lifted into a large bin with a lid, and after the lid was closed, there was an enormous frothing, with white foam spilling out onto the floor, and with occasional mechanical whirring and grinding sounds. The lid opened, and the now white body of the pig was roughly spun and lifted by mechanical levers and brought back by the hoist to the center of the room.

I knew that at this point the teachers were going to dissect the pig and teach the students about the pig’s anatomy, and so I left the building, feeling that I had just witnessed a bizarre scientific satanic ritual of indoctrination. The pig had been sacrificed on the shiny steel altar of the scientific establishment, and the leaders of tomorrow were being ritually desensitized to the ongoing atrocity of murdering animals and eating their flesh.

As I discuss in The World Peace Diet, we live in a culture organized around eating animal-sourced foods, and imprisoning and attacking animals by the millions every day. This system, euphemized as animal agriculture, offers rewards to those who serve it.

We all have to make a living somehow in this competitive economic society. The young women were perhaps drawn to that program by idealistic yearnings to help animals as veterinarians, or to feed a hungry world as agricultural scientists. These yearnings are co-opted and perverted by the system of animal agriculture, which controls the cultural narrative and requires obedience to its way of thinking for those who will reap its rewards. The young women are working hard to succeed in their chosen career path. Can they understand that the system of animal agriculture is not only completely obsolete but is destroying our environment, harming our society, and sickening us physically, psychologically, ethically, and spiritually? As Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

That evening, after a meal at Bliss Café, a local vegan restaurant, we gave a lecture presentation at the Unitarian church about the benefits of vegan living. It seemed that both the devastating effects of animal agriculture, and the joy of participating in our culture’s transition to veganism were more vivid than ever.

The gruesome reality is that animals, especially female animals, are severely and systematically abused for food on a massive scale, and science is a primary religion of our modern culture that promotes this completely irrational and destructive behavior by indoctrinating us into a materialistic worldview that reduces beings to mere physical objects and encourages their abuse. The sacred feminine dimension of consciousness that recognizes beings as beings, and that yearns to respect, celebrate, and protect life, is systematically and harshly repressed, and we see the irony that young women are trained, like young men, to attack, destroy, and steal the bright light of life, individuality, and purpose shining in the eyes of pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals.

Compassionate Harvest by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleIt’s long past time to awaken from the toxic narrative imposed on us by the herding culture into which we’re all born, and to transform our educational institutions, and all our institutions, away from the abusive hoaxes that possess them. An authentic science would realize that there is no reason to imprison animals for food and other products, and authentic spiritual, religious, and ethical teachings are in alignment with this, and urge us to treat all other beings with respect and kindness. These seeds of satyagraha (Gandhi’s “truth power”) are the seeds that the agriculture programs of universities can and should be teaching, and encouraging us to sow, understand, and apply.

The way to a positive future beckons, but only as we question the rituals and narratives that wound us and destroy our intelligence and empathy. Each one of us can help co-create communities of sanity, freedom, health, and more conscious living on this abundant Earth. It starts on our plates and extends to all our relationships. The eyes of the imprisoned animals are on us. Thanks for caring and for acting.

14 Responses to Awakening from Scientific Rituals

  • Amy says:

    Thank you Dr Tuttle for this article. I was sickened to what you and others witnessed. My eyes are wide open to the suffering out there and sometimes it feels overwhelming. I believe the world is starting to awaken but it doesn’t feel fast enough. There are many many of us out here working everyday through our plates, words, and actions to bring this horrific reality of the plight of billions of animals, to light. Once you know, you can’t go back. Keep fighting this fight Dr Tuttle.

  • Caryl Smith says:

    Can’t something be done to help these poor animal’s suffering at Cal Poly?
    Can we work toward at least humane conditions even if the end result is
    death which makes my stomach ache !!
    Seems contradictory to Temple Gradin’s idea of not having animals suffer??
    I’m wondering if you had dialog on this with anyone there?

  • Brenda A Morris says:

    I agree with Amy. I am so very appreciative to you and Madeleine for awakening the consciousness of the world. When I hear about abuse like this, I remember Maslow and try to imagine that some people are still trying to just get by(physically, mentally, etc.) and are unable to look beyond themselves just yet. It may be a cop out, but it helps me cope.

  • JoAnn says:

    Thank you Will and Madeline for being willing to bear witness and then sharing the facts of what happened with others. The one bit of goodness I can find in your recounting, is your conversation with the young woman/teacher’s assistant which may have planted a seed of awakening. We all must seek out similar such opportunities and continue to work to raise awareness — that is the way that violent cultural traditions change.

  • Judy Wollam says:

    Thank you for this report. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure glad that I’m a vegan.


  • Ray Cooper says:

    Hello Dr. Tuttle,
    Thank you for writing this article.
    I am deeply touched by this experience you had.

  • Charles Fox says:

    Temple Grandin again! People love their excuses.
    This is zombie science, a horror show of mechanized death and disabled human sensibilities. This science lacks a constructive purpose.

  • Susan S says:

    Two things. After I moved to North Carolina in 2012, I was beyond shocked when a 40-something native of the area told me that, in junior high, his field trip had been to the local slaughterhouse to see a pig killed and butchered. The slaughterhouse itself if closed but Abattoir Road is a mile from me.

    Before I moved here I lived in Los Angeles. Cal State-Northridge has an ag program. A sheep had twin male lambs. The school was going to kill one because they didn’t need it. The students rallied and succeeded in having it rescued but the school insisted that nobody be told where it came from.

    I don’t get people at all.

  • Randy Atlas says:

    Dear Will,

    Thank you for writing this account of your experience at Cal Poly and putting it up on your World Peace Diet website. As gruesome as what you witnessed was, I know that it has a purpose in the grand scheme of things – it will help people to eventually (hopefully sooner than later!) change their ways of thinking, to become more compassionate to all beings everywhere. Much love to you and Madeleine, and thank you for doing what you do.

  • Susan Roberts says:

    This is classed as animal torture and should be shut down. It is a disgrace that this is allowed to continue. Time to take action.

  • Charles Fox says:

    I keep thinking about this article and what you saw. San Luis Obispo seems like a nice place. All those calves incarcerated make me think Death Camp in Paradise.

    Is it just coincidence that a culture that confines calves in small spaces also confines humans in cubicles and drenches young minds in violence? It’s our own liberation as well as theirs that’s at stake.

  • Vivian Faye says:

    With gratitude and appreciation for reporting on some horrific scenarios and all you and Madeleine are doing to shift lifestyles and values. I was inspired with your visit to Brentwood Unity and listen to your piano CDs,
    To explore how to get your work into our public libraries, and will explore some global contacts with libraries I’ve made in recent years.
    Could this be OK to share with school districts or just offer the web site so middle school youth may explore with their families?

  • Rebecca Jo Allen says:

    Dear Dr. Tuttle, I was so saddened that you had to witness this and my heart ached knowing that you and others wanted to save the animals. I know you are doing everything you can to spread the word of world peace and love. Thank you for the article, your time and your many actions. You and Madeline take of yourselves.

  • Nancy Poznak says:

    Thank you for bearing witness and translating the experience into what it truly is. You have always skillfully described the reality of commodifying and slaughtering sentient beings in a way that helps us reclaim our wisdom and compassionate.

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