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Daring Cow Escapes Abattoir

Daring Cow Escapes Abattoir

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Cow injures two in daring bid for freedom


A daring cow injured two people escaping the abattoir Wednesday.

A daring cow on her way to slaughter made one last, dramatic bid for freedom yesterday, injuring two people during her escape.

According to The Local, the 8-year-old cow was being taken to an abattoir in Hesse, in central Germany. But when the farmer tried to unload her from his truck, she just burst right out and made a break for it.

The cow bolted about 500 meters away from the abattoir when she encountered two men. One of the men was armed with a chainsaw and stopped to face the runaway cow, but she charged him and forced him to wedge himself between two logs. That man was seriously injured in the confrontation and had to be taken to the hospital, police said.

After leaving the man pinned, the cow continued putting distance between herself and the abattoir. Eventually she came to a meadow and found another herd of cows to join.

Unfortunately the cow did not seamlessly blend in with her new friends and escape the abattoir forever. A hunter leader responsible for the area spotted the new cow wandering the meadow, realized she did not belong with the others, and shot her.

Cow gives birth to calf days after jumping from moving truck on the way to abattoir

A cow that made a daring escape from a moving cattle truck just miles from a slaughterhouse has given birth to a healthy calf.

The bovine heroine, named Brianna, plunged 8ft onto a busy road before she was rescued by members of a local animal sanctuary.

Brianna welcomed female calf Winter two days after arriving at the rescue centre.

I's guide to helping the planet in your everyday life

Slaughter-Bound Calf Escapes on Expressway, Earning New Name and a Life of Leisure

The slaughterhouses of New York City have witnessed one daring escape after another in recent days, as first a lamb and then a goat and now a calf have managed to break free and make a run for it.

The male calf was found trotting north up the Major Deegan Expressway near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on Tuesday morning with a tag in his ear and a look of panic in his eye. Animal rescue workers estimated him to be less than a year old.

A spokeswoman for Animal Care Centers of New York City said the animal was “very stressed” by the ordeal, during which he thrashed and kicked at the air near the concrete median as cars crawled past.

He was taken into custody by the Police Department, which named him after his escape route of choice: Major Deegan. His escape, and the ensuing traffic snarl, made him a sudden star on TV and social media.

The spokeswoman, Katy Hansen, said the number of farm animals that turned up on the city’s streets in the last 10 days was unusually high, something she described as both “crazy” and hard to explain.

“In all of 2018, we got three goats, seven pigs and one sheep — in the entire year,” she said. “So now in 10 days we have gotten a lamb, two goats and a cow. It is sort of like that movie ‘Chicken Run,’ when the animals all escape.”

Ms. Hansen noted that one of the goats, which she said the agency received on Tuesday night, was a slaughterhouse reject rather than a fugitive. Someone showed up at a slaughterhouse looking to hand over a goat, but the butchers inside declined the offer.


“The slaughterhouse said, ‘No, this isn’t our goat,’” she said.

The Police Department said the calf had wandered as far as Exit 6, about one mile, by the time officers from the Emergency Service Unit arrived. The police said they tranquilized the animal, took him into custody and transported him to an Animal Care Centers facility in Harlem.

Animal Care Centers, a nonprofit that provides animal control services for the city, also cared for the goat, which was found in the Bronx on Sunday, and the lamb, which was found on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn last Wednesday. Ms. Hansen said rescue workers named the goat Billy, and the lamb Petunia.

While the calf made his way to Harlem, Ms. Hansen said center employees cleared some dogs out of a play area in the backyard and set up an area for him, complete with a mound of hay.

When he arrived, the calf was led through the back gate “so he wouldn’t have to walk through the actual shelter” and was then left to have some peace and quiet, she said. Escaped farm animals, in particular, tend to be stressed out by their ordeal.

“They are in new surroundings and they have just run away from a place where they most likely sensed danger,” she said. “Now they are surrounded by unfamiliar smells and there are no other animals that look like them around, so that is scary. Their adrenaline is probably rushing.”

Ms. Hansen said the calf, like the goat and the lamb before him, was sent to Skyland Sanctuary in Wantage, N.J. The other goat was sent on Tuesday night to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y., which is well known for its association with the comedian Jon Stewart.

Sending an animal to a nearby sanctuary is standard procedure because slaughterhouses tend to be located close together, making it difficult to determine which one may be missing the odd pig or goat even when they are tagged, Ms. Hansen said.

Allie Feldman Taylor, the president of Voters for Animal Rights, said there are about 80 slaughterhouses in New York City. Ms. Hansen said if one of them comes forward and claims an escaped animal, it is returned to them. But that rarely happens.

“Probably because of public outcry,” she said. “When people really think about what they are eating, I guess it affects them in that way.”

Daring Cow Escapes Abattoir - Recipes

Many people believe that Kosher slaughter is painless, quick and merciful. In reality, animals who undergo a Kosher slaughter suffer immensely and are subjected to extreme violence. All this while being fully conscious and aware, as required in a Kosher slaughter.

In order to determine if something is merciful and painless, we should ask ourselves if we would like it done to ourselves and our loved ones? After watching this video of an Israeli Kosher slaughterhouse which is supervised by the stringent religious authority, it's clear the answer is no. The footage was captured recently by the organization Animals Now.

"But Kosher Slaughter Is The Most Humane Way To Slaughter Animals"

The slaughter process may be quicker, in some cases. Having said that, should we be looking for the "best way" to perform the most violent of acts? Especially when it's so easy nowadays to simply not eat meat?

Some religious scholars argue that Judaism places a lot of restrictions regarding the slaughter animals, not because slaughtering animals can be painless and merciful, but because of the exact opposite. Since slaughtering animals is always violent and painful, Judaism decided to step in and heavily regulate this practice to make it less horrible.

However, when we take an honest look at this process of slaughtering animals, it's clear that even when the most strict religious restrictions are kept, the slaughter in itself is an act of extreme torture.

Good news, Green Monsters! A French cow has been spared a trip to the slaughterhouse after the success of a 30,000-strong petition calling for her to be saved.

As she was being taken to her death in Saint-Romain-de-Popey, Rhône, the cow escaped by knocking down a barrier and metal grill which had enclosed her, before running into the courtyard of a local carpentry firm. This feisty girl was determined to put up a fight for her life! She required five doses of tranquillizer – and the presence of nine gendarmes – to finally calm down. The presence of these chemicals in her system rendered her inedible for a month, so her slaughter was postponed.

Her story caught the attention of Belgian animal lover Jasmine Cerfontaine, who gave her the name of “Marguerite” and started the petition that ultimately led to her release. Farmer André Bergéon agreed to sell Marguerite to French animal activist, Stéphane Lamart, saying, “He understood that my cow has a difficult personality and can’t go to a petting farm. … So I told him I’d take a euro for every signature on the petition and there were 10,000 signatures at that point.” He eventually sold her for €5,500 (approx. $6,072).

According to Christophe Buseniers, vice president of the Association Stéphane Lamart, Marguerite will now be transferred to a teaching farm in the Loir-et-Cher area, and “will live there for the rest of her life. This episode demonstrates just how much animals understand. At the abattoir, they don’t want to be killed.”

Marguerite has since been renamed “Cornette.”

French animal rights group L214 Éthique et Animaux have pointed out the irony of cheering on Marguerite/Cornette’s fight for life while ignoring the plight of countless other cows just like her. Spokesperson Brigitte Gothière said, “Why this cow and not the others? Thousands of cows are killed very day and some of the same people who are campaigning for this cow’s life, eat other dead cows every day. It just highlights the paradox that thinking, empathizing people eat meat, because logically speaking, no one who loves animals should eat meat. It’s ironic and sad that one cow gets media attention when thousands of others are killed in abattoirs every day and no one says anything.”

You can help donate for the cost of Cornette’s future care by clicking here.

What does a pig saving himself from slaughter tell us about our attitudes towards non-human animals?

Milton the pig, who was lucky enough to have his sentience and agency recognised after his daring escape on the way to slaughter last week.

Last week, news emerged of a pig who after escaping during the journey to the slaughterhouse is now to be allowed to live out his natural life with his original ‘owners’. We take a look at the story in more depth and what it reveals about our conflicting attitudes towards non-humans.

Milton the pig’s story of his ‘dramatic escape’ on the way to the slaughterhouse, followed by a heartwarming news-friendly ending as the smallholders who raised him suddenly realised he was a sentient being deserving of life, is a classic example of what is revealed about our attitudes towards animals when we root for the ones who escape. This is something we’ve discussed at great length in a video from November last year and an accompanying article on famous cow escape stories, but Milton’s story - and in particular the comments from his ‘owners’ about their change of heart, further serve to illustrate the hypocrisy of raising and consuming animals.

A pig destined for the slaughterhouse is looking forward to a long life after a dramatic escape. Smallholder Sarah Allan, from Langtree in north Devon, had been driving three pigs to an abattoir 11 miles (18km) away in Holsworthy. But when she arrived she was astonished to find that one of the animals had jumped out of the trailer. It was later found in a field in Milton Damerel.

Ms Allan said: "I don't think I have it in me to send him back."

Allan was later quoted as saying:

"He doesn't like trailers anyway, he hates going in them. He even tried to get out again on the way home. And I really admire his determination to survive. He's back, and that's where he's going to stay."

Notice the language. Milton suddenly went from a nameless thing to a someone who even has likes and dislikes and a recognised determination. What we haven’t mentioned yet is the fate of Milton’s companions on that fateful journey, two other pigs who because they didn’t manage to escape, ended up dead. Milton himself was only named because he escaped and was elevated to the status of ‘pet’ and therefore somehow is more deserving of a name and his life than his friends.

We wouldn’t for one moment say that Milton should have shared the same fate as the others so that the Allan family could not be accused of being hypocrites, but moral consistency should certainly still be applied. In the same way that we ask what the difference is between dogs and pigs - the former being categorised as a companion animal, the latter as walking food, by society, culture and tradition only - we should also ask what the difference between Milton and his friends was. As Surge co-director Ed Winters says in his commentary on this phenomenon:

“Why must animals have to fight for their freedom to earn the right to live? Just because others are unable to make a break for freedom doesn't make their death anymore justifiable. And someone’s right to life isn’t based on their courage, we don’t view our own moral worth by that standard, nor do we hold other species of animals that we don’t farm by that standard either.”

Allan would not be the only person who felt Milton should live in peace for the rest of his life, doubtless readers of the BBC story would have had their hearts warmed at the news. But how many of them have rashers of sliced fatty pig flesh and sausages in their fridges, conveniently disconnecting the individual from the product through euphemistic labels like ‘bacon’ and ‘pork’? The inconvenient truth is that the same people who would have felt sadness had Milton not been allowed his life are also guilty of putting him in that situation in the first place.

Milton’s successful attempt at self-liberation reminded us that animals have agency, the sociological term for the capacity of an individual to act independently and make choices. In Milton’s case, he acted to escape from the trailer and chose to survive. Even if that choice was pure instinct, it is the same survival instinct to which we as a species owe everything. In that regard, humans are no different to non-humans, our base instincts underpin many of our everyday intellectual decisions. Consider that non-human animal sentience is generally accepted with the UK government having put out a statement in 2019 stating that it would continue to recognise animal sentience in regard to changes in legislation post-Brexit. If we accept sentience, we must also accept agency, in this case, the desire of an individual to choose to survive and not experience pain and death.

Unfortunately, most of us do not recognise this. We continue to support harmful industries that deny animal agency and their attempts to free themselves. We breed and raise animals in confinement, preventing self-liberation so that one day when they reach the right age and weight, we can send them to the slaughterhouse and run a knife across their necks.

Rebel cow escapes slaughterhouse, swims away to uninhabited island

After making a daring escape while being loaded on a truck headed for the slaughterhouse, a cow in Nysa, Poland, swam to an uninhabited island on a nearby lake and has been living there ever since.
Cows are among the most obedient of domestic animals, but when their survival instincts kick in, they can pull of some truly extraordinary things.
Just last month, we wrote about another cow in Poland that escaped her farm and went on to join a heard of bison at the edge of the primeval Bialowieza Forest, and earlier this month we featured Hermien, a plucky cow from the Netherlands, that escaped just as her owner was sending her to the slaughterhouse and hid in the woods for over six weeks.

The cow’s owner told reporters that he is also considering calling in hunters to shoot the animal, but he is reluctant to do so just yet because then he would not be able to sell her to the abattoir. For now, he’s waiting for the vet to receive his gas cartridges.
The farmer has been delivering food to the cow by boat, to make sure she survives.

Luckily for the rebel cow, her cause has been taken up by Polish politician and former singer Pawel Kukiz, who posted a photo of the animal on Facebook, calling her a ‘hero cow’ and praising her determination and will to survive.
“She escaped heroically and infiltrated the island in the middle of the lake, where it remains today,” Kukiz said, according to Polish news magazine Wprost. “She did not succumb to firefighters who wanted to transport her by boat and she was still on the battlefield.”
“I am not a vegetarian, but fortitude and the will to fight for this cow’s life is invaluable. Therefore, I decided to do everything to cause the cow to be delivered to a safe place and in the second stage, as a reward for her attitude, give her a guarantee of a long-term retirement and natural death,” the impressed politician added.
For now, the cow is enjoying her freedom on her island home, but her future definitely looks brighter than it did on the day of her escape.

Glenn Gary Gamboa’s History of Panamanian Food and Cuisine with Videos

You can ACCESS the Video Recipes by clicking on the above category tabs.

By population Panama is the smallest Spanish-speaking country in Latin America encompassing 30,000 square miles of surface area, roughly the size of South Carolina, and has 3 million citizens about the same number as Chicago, Illinois. The width of Panama ranges from 48 to 118 miles bordered by two separate oceans each with it’s own aquatic pantry meaning that fish from one coast may not be populating the other. About 70% of the population is mestizo, a mix of the local Indian and European, with African, Chinese, East Indian and Sephardic veins flowing through the rest of the population and recently one local paper claimed that 40% of the republics citizens have some Chinese genes. More than half the republics population lives in urban areas with an annual per capita median income of $4600 dollars, 40% of the population lives in poverty and 9% on less than a dollar a day. One fifth are Rabi Blanco, a Panamanian euphemism for white butts/pale cheeks or upper class and 40% are considered “middle class” because they own a car. A substantial number of the poor are original peoples living on Comarcas, something like US reservations, and the others subsistence farmers or day labors from the interior communities. In comparison the 2005 annual per capital income of Beijing was $2,263, Vietnam $600, Mexico $11,647 and the US 43k while some 2.7 billion others on the planet live on less than $2.00 a day or $730 a year.

Any examination of Panamanian cuisine and recipes must include the foods of the surrounding West Indies and Caribbean coast as well as that of the pre-Columbian inhabitants who developed the bases for the hybrid cuisines of lower America. Boundaries set by modern cartographers or nation builders really have little to do with the influence of these continually evolving foodways. The polygloted population of the nineteen Caribbean Islands combined, not including Cuba, is about 11 million and Central Americas seven countries are home to 42 million for a composite total of 53 million. In comparison California has a population of 38 million and only “one” cuisine so you can see the difficulty of defining or codifying the foodways of these 26 small countries into any succinct format. Pre Colombian peoples known as the Caribs, Arawaks, Taino, Olmecs, Incas and Aztecs were the progenitors of today’s Caribbean diet that fused with inputs from Spain, England, Holland, France, Portugal, Africa, China, India and finally the US. Historically some of the oldest samples of corn, chilies and yams in the Americas, dated about 8000 years ago, come from a rock shelter called the Ladrones Cave in Panama although the jury is still deliberating as to whether or they were gathered or cultivated. The indigenous peoples of the area were thought to have been wiped out by Spanish aggression, native warfare or imported disease but new investigations prove that these genetic lines continue to exist in the larger post Colombian gene pool.

The Caribbean coast has a higher population of English speakers then the Pacific due to the early escapes or migrations of slave and indentured labor from the English-speaking West Indies. In fact when the Americans took over the building of the canal the governor of Jamaica prohibited migrating to Panama because it had caused such a severe local labor shortage during the French attempt. So the US recruited 20,000 workers from Barbados for the canal and they further helped to imprint the local cuisine with spicy chilies, okra, fou fou, challoos and corned beef. Although the guide books might tell you Spanish is spoken here they don’t tell you it’s Caribbean Spanish that has is own patois and slang and the euphemisms for any one cultivar, meat cut or construct can differ from one coast or border to the next. The early Spanish brought Peruvian silver to Panama City and then hauled it across the isthmus via the Camino de Cruzes to Portobello where it and other valuable assets were shipped to Spain on bi-yearly treasure fleets until Caribbean pirates made the route unprofitable and the direction was changed to round the Cape of Good Hope, South America. Early Panama had a lot of beefs and the meat stayed here, no refrigeration, while the hides were shipped to Spain for tanning. During the colonial period, until the grasslands were exhausted, large cattle herds allowed Panamanians to become the largest consumers of beef in Latin America and they learned to cook and consume the whole cow.


What’s up with Panamanian Beef? I hear English-speaking visitors and expatriates bemoaning the flavor and toughness of the local product and they’re absolutely right but why? The history of beef in Central America is distinctly different from that of the rest of the continent because of the area’s tropical environment. Columbus, on his second voyage to Hispaniola now known as the Dominican Republic and Haiti, brought live stock, including pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, pigeons and beefs to the new world. On his third and fourth trips, as was the custom, he dropped livestock on most of the visited islands for future provisioning before he finally reached Panama 10 years after his first landfall. The original beefs from Europe were Bos Taurus, or humpless cows, the genetic bases for our modern Western breeds. Later African slaves, along with their cattle breed called Bos Indicus, were imported as a labor force to the newly developed European agricultural holdings. This humped variety, also called Cebu or Zebu, eventually evolved into the Brahman in the US and the Criollo or Indo-Brazil in South and Central America. These criollo cattle of Latin America evolved into their own archetypes that were better suited to the tropical climate since they originated in the like environments of Africa and India and soon replaced the European stock.

The tropical adaptability of the Brahman is manifold and it’s short and reflective coat and black skin combine to keep out the sun’s tissue damaging rays. The loose folds of it’s skin provide greater surface areas for cooling, that along with the animals sweat, also helps to repel insects and parasites. Genetically these beefs have developed the ability to thrive on inadequate food supplies, in varying weather extremes while still displaying high fertility rates and a high tolerance to the endemic tropical diseases that quickly eliminated the Island European varieties. Livestock holdings in Panama are very small local ranchers who possess few husbandry techniques and little herd management skill. Natural pasturage coarse and low in nutrition and these unamended soils are further aggravated by droughts or floods. Mineral deficiencies, disease and intestinal parasites are common among small herds and natural insemination with no breeding guidelines are the norm. In fact most of the time these local beefs exist in an almost feral state foraging for themselves which actually produces a healthier albeit much tougher product.

But that’s not the complete answer, even though environment and genetics certainly affect the musculature of the meat, the causative difference between Panamanian and North American beef occurs at the feed lot. US feed lots purchase 600 pound calves then fatten them up with appetite stimulants and high protein diets until they double in size and head for the abattoir. Feed lots proffer a diet of growth hormones, ground soybeans and corn, meat and bone meal, silage for roughage, and the remains of distiller’s processes in addition to exanthan gum, yeast cultures and minerals both organic and manufactured. North Americans want their beefs Rubenesque and their women skinny while in Panama the women are a bit rounder and the beefs thinner. In the US meat of this “quality” would be graded commercial or standard at best. This lack of marbling and feed additives tends to make the beef here a bit toothier explaining why much of Panama’s meat is long stewed, often using a pressure cooker, as the next two constructs will exemplify.


Simply put this Panamanian recipe is beef cut in pieces and stewed with peppers and onions. The “steak” is usually an extremely tough muscle cut something we might call Swiss, minute or cube steak except in this case it hasn’t been run through a mechanized swisser to tenderize and takes a long time to cook. The dish is prevalent and you’ll find it sold in Panamanian markets as “steak picado” and occasionally see it featured as steak entero on menus which is simply a braised Swiss steak. Onions and peppers are usually added and occasionally a tomato product and the construct is then stewed and served for breakfast along with some fried bread or a Panamanian tortilla and perhaps sprinkled with farmers cheese making a nice inexpensive repast. The use of top round or flank steak will decrease the cooking time and tooth of the dish and, as is the case with many indigenous preparations, a pinch of unrefined sugar is often added to sweeten the pot along with a goodly splash of “English” aka Worcestershire sauce. This is a very maudlin recipe but was the one dish I spoke about to others returning from my first trip to Panama because it was served everywhere and quite cheap like $3.

1 pound Swiss, chuck or top round cut into strips

1 teaspoon achiote powder or paste

1 large yellow onion, sliced

1 large green pepper, or Anaheim or Fresno chilies, de-seeded and sliced

1 medium tomato, diced or 2 ounces of tomato product

1 cup stock, or granulated base fortified water

  1. Dredge the beef in seasoned flour
  2. Saute till along with the achiote till lightly browned
  3. Add garlic, onion, peppers and tomato
  4. Stir well and saute till vegetables are soft adding more oil if necessary
  5. Add stock, reduce heat to a simmer, cover cook till tender


This construct’s naming myth tells us about a man who learns his long absent family is coming to visit. As is the custom he hopes to feed them when they arrive but his pantry is empty and in desperation he gathers some of his old clothes from the closet and tosses them into the cooking pot. His act was so filled with familial love that these remnants of cloth were transformed into something truly delicious. This well-known Latin rendition of pot roast probably morphed from the dried/salted beef known as cecina or tasajo since when either is boiled and shredded the result does look like old clothes or fabric. Basically you’re making boiled beef, or a sort of carnitas and you could use pork, lamb venison, or iguana. After the selected cut has been thoroughly cooked and cooled, you shred or “jerk” the meat by hand and then combine it with the vegetables, herbs and spices to make this well-known dish. I suggest you use beef chuck for the meat but you could use a more expensive but less flavorful steak cut if you wish. Again be open as to how you embellish, use coconut milk instead of stock, toss in gandules or spice it up with a few chilies or a tablespoon of fresh green pepper.

2 pounds flank, skirt or chuck steak

Equal parts carrot, onion and celery, about 6 ounces each, chopped coarsely

1 tablespoon fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried, oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

Stock or base fortified water to cover

  1. In a large pot combine the meat, vegetables, spices and stock
  2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer till very tender
  3. Remove from fire, cool to room temperature
  4. Remove meat then pull apart by hand, refrigerate
  5. Strain the brazing stock reserving the strained vegetables
  6. Process the vegetables and return to the stock, then reduce and refrigerate

You can braise the meat a day ahead of your production or on the same day if wished, in either case, it’s easiest to shred the meat shortly after it’s been cooked while still somewhat warm. The next step is to saute the following ingredients and then add the meat and the vegetable thickened brazing liquid. This thickening technique is one you can use with other recipes since Panamanians don’t seem to use liaisons to thicken their constructs although they sometimes mush up a corm or root to give their sauces body. In completing the construct you can add some citrus juice and unrefined sugar, known as raspadura, which seems to appear in almost every Panamanian recipe stated or not.

1 cup sliced onion or whites of leek

1 cup sweet peppers sliced, your choice bells, wax, jarred cherry or pepperoncini

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 can peeled pear tomatoes and their juice

All the braised shredded meat

2 cups vegetable thicken braising stock

To taste granulated base and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Saute the onions, pepper and garlic till limp
  2. Add the tomatoes, meat and vegetable thickened stock
  3. Simmer to the desired consistency
  4. Adjust seasoning with granulated base, pepper, citrus and sugar


Rice has been around for at least 6000 years and is one of the major caloric sources for over half the world. It is believed to have been developed as a crop concurrently in India and China and then spread to the rest of the world. Rice was first brought to Iberia by the conquering Moors in the eighth Century. The Portuguese collected it along with African slaves from Gambia in the fifteenth century and brought both to Vera Cruz, Brazil in the early sixteenth with the Spanish introducing it to Central and South America about the same time. Rice is the primary staple for about 1/3 of the globe’s population who obtain 75% of their total calories from the grain. Average annual Asian consumption hovers around 300 lbs while Panamanians weigh in at 200 lbs which sounds like a lot but remember that rice increases by a factor of 3 when cooked so we’re talking about 900 and 600 pounds respectively of cooked grain! Rice is the primary food source for the majority of this country so when the price of the commodity rises it severely affects the lower economic tiers and becomes a national crisis. Panama has to import 25% of its domestic needs and many of the subsistence growers fear that approval of any free trade agreements with the US, where rice is heavily subsidized, will undercut the local market and demolish their livelihood. There are 80K rice growers in Central America employing some 1.5 million workers.

The number of ingredients in this rice casserole often intimidates first timers but it shouldn’t because it’s really just a rustic dish that is thrown together for a celebration usually held outside and cooked over an open fire to pick up the smoky taste. Although most think of the construct as a seafood dish the antiquarian version had only eels, snails, rabbit, duck, game birds, vegetables, olive oil and saffron and was introduced by the moors to Spain. Seafood didn’t appear until the party moved to the beach and some claim you can’t mix surf and turf. These same purists, and there are many in Panama, also claim that a correct Paella has to be cooked in a wide bottomed pan called a patella or paellera, you’ll see them all over Latin America, over wood coals to obtain the proper texture of the rice. The melange of ingredients is then plopped on the table for all to share and gush over. Paella traditionally starts with a sofrito, the Spanish equivalent of a mirepoix with some pork fat, that you sauté the other ingredients in. After the Moors left Spain in the 14 th century the dish became Lenten fare made with the ubiquitous salted cod and gradually morphed into the party dish so popular in Latin America today. Its roots, like most peasant food, lie in scarcity and therefore you can put just about anything in your formula. In Panama we’re fortunate to have authentic imported Spanish sausage and some really fresh seafood thanks to the Humboldt current for our Paella. Paella is a dish of infinite variety utilizing whatever’s on hand like the desert version using coconut milk, bananas and fruit as we’ll make today. Arborio or short grain rice is usually used but any will do even jasmine or Basmati and you could even use brown if you like. You can also use any seafood you like fresh, frozen or canned although it’s best to mix it up between your sources.


2 bone in chicken thighs or ½ pound breast meat or a few quail

4 ounces thinly sliced Spanish chorizo, pepperoni or other sausage

2 tablespoons garlic minced

12 ounces well washed arborio or regular rice

4 ounces, store-bought, roasted red, wax or spicy peppers diced

4 ounces each green beans julienned and frozen green peas

4 ounces diced leek or yellow/red onion chopped

1 pinch dried saffron or 1/2 teaspoon achiote paste/powder

8 ounces shelled prawns or firm white fish in 2”dice

1 can drained chopped clams including the juice

1 small can peeled tomatoes including the juice

1 cup chicken or fish stock, using granulated base if necessary

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary and 2 ounces Pernod optional

  1. Using a frying or paella pan sauté the chicken till browned
  2. Add the sausage, garlic, rice saute for five minutes
  3. Add the vegetables, saffron or achiote powder mix well
  4. Add all the seafood and stir to incorporate
  5. Add stock, tomatoes, rosemary and Pernod, simmer for 5 minutes
  6. Cover, reduce heat to simmer or place in 350 oven till rice is soft
  7. Adjust seasoning with granulated base and ground black pepper
  8. Serve with lime wedges, recaito or alcaparrado sauce and paprika


2 ounces tocino ahumando-smoked bacon finely diced

1 duck purchased from the Chinese grocery store, ask them to cut it

8 ounces pork or beef tasajo/cecina (cured/dried meat) processed

2 tablespoons each minced garlic, and fresh rosemary

½ package fresh saffron or 1 teaspoon achoite powder

1 package, 10 ounces, frozen calamari rings

8 ounces fresh okra sliced into rounds

1 can gandul, black-eyed or pigeon peas or 12 ounces freshly cooked

1 jar alcaparrado (olive, caper, pimento condiment) chopped

4 ounces minced sun-dried tomatoes

3 cups homemade chicken stock or water with granulated chicken base

  1. Wash the duck well since the cavity will be covered with five spice powder, reserve
  2. Sauté the tocino/smoked bacon until rendered and slightly brown
  3. Add the rabbit and brown, then the duck, tasajo, garlic & rosemary stir, cook 5 minutes
  4. Remove most of the meat then add the saffron or achoite and rice, saute 5 minutes
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients including the stock, bring to a boil
  6. Cover reduce heat and simmer or place in 350 oven till done
  7. Adjust seasonings with fresh black pepper, granulated base & smoked paprika


3 large green bananas, peeled and cut into rounds

2 apples, 2 pears, peeled, sliced and reserved in acidified water (lime juice)

12 ounces sticky rice soaked over night in water to cover

3 ounces each dried mango, papaya, and orange rind

½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice

6 ounces unrefined local sugar, raspadura, panela-piloncilla

2 cans coconut or condensed milk

  1. Combine the coconut milk, mango, papaya, orange rind and sugar is a sauce pot
  2. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and sugar, simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and let steep
  4. Saute the sliced bananas in a small amount of oil or butter till just soft
  5. Drain the apples and pears then add to the bananas, cook till just warm
  6. Add the drained sticky rice and the coconut milk infusion, bring to a boil
  7. Lower heat and simmer till done or place in oven and bake
  8. Serve chilled mango crème fraiche or warm with ice cream


Combine 8 ounces whipping cream, (creama de batir) and 2 tablespoons sour cream, yogurt or lemon juice. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours till thickened then combine with mango or other fruit jam, sugar and maybe a little rum to taste and serve as a topping on the dessert paella. You could also add so processed roasted pepper, without the sweet stuff, and garlic for savory paellas.


Panamanian cuisine is a Creole fusion of native produce and Spanish protein with a mélange of other cultural influences. The country’s geographical isolation and natural fauna made cultural and trade interaction difficult so many local variations exist even in this small republic. The cuisine of the Caribbean coast has a strong African patois, much spicier and more ethically diverse then the Pacific side, due to its frequent exposure to the varied cultural and culinary imports brought by early slave, indentured and immigrant labor forces from the West Indies The following sauces or table condiments are used like Mexican salsa or pesto, each diner helps himself or the cook doses it in the kitchen. You can increase the heat of the spice by adding some piquant peppers which is how it’s done on the Caribbean side and if you add vinegar you’ll have a nice vinaigrette dressing or signature wet adobo. These condiments add some zest to what otherwise is a rather bland national diet and, in the households that can afford them, are widespread amongst Panamanian foodies.


To infuse the olive oil with annatto seeds just toast the seeds in a pan, add the oil and heat then let steep at room temperature. You can also use achiote powder in the oil or just add paste to the preparation. You can also add some Spanish cured (brined) bacon that looks like pancetta or substitute good smoked Panamanian bacon. This condiment with out the meat is available in the market look for Goya brand.

1 tablespoon achiote paste or a generous pinch of dried saffron

3 roasted red, 4 Anaheim, or 6 pepperoncini/wax peppers seeded

3 tablespoons minced garlic

To taste granulated chicken base and fresh ground pepper

  1. Heat olive oil add annatto or saffron to infuse
  2. Place all the ingredients in a cuisinart and process
  3. Adjust seasoning with granulated base and pepper
  4. Refrigerate and use as a table condiment


You can find this condiment in jars from Spain in most Latin markets and then embellish it with herbs and spices just be sure the olives are pitted or you’ll have a hard time processing it.

8 ounces green olives with brine

4 ounces capers with brine

To taste culantro/cilantro

3 tablespoons garlic minced

1 teaspoon achiote paste or minced fresh saffron

To taste granulated chicken base and ground pepper

Coarsely chop all, adjust seasoning, refrigerate


The variety is endless and you could “put some up” just as you would pickles if you care to. The relish can be stored for weeks or longer in the refrigerator. Again the heat can be moderated by the type and amount of peppers you use. A couple of tablespoons of pickling spice with whatever else is available can stand in quite well for the listed herbs and spices if they’re not at hand. The choice vegetables are up to you as is the quantity and if the pickle is too hard just blanch or nuke the offending vegetable before brining.

4 cups white or apple cider vinegar

1 cup lime or bitter orange juice

2 ounces ginger root, sliced

1 teaspoon allspice berries, pimenta gorda

1 ounce local unrefined sugar

1 tablespoon green peppercorns in brine

1 tablespoon oregano, less if using the fresh local variety

3 tablespoons pureed or finely minced culantro

1 tablespoon granulated chicken base

2 cups diced red onion or whites of leek

1 cup diced sweet peppers

To taste sliced hot chilies, granulated chicken base

  1. Bring the vinegar and lime juice to a boil in a large non reactive pot
  2. Add the next 9 ingredients, or 4 ounces of pickling spice and sugar
  3. Bring to a boil, add vegetables then remove from heat
  4. Let the pickle cool to room temperature, check for seasoning
  5. Jar or store then refrigerate for weeks


Although this kind of pesto sauce is actually from Argentina it’s used extensively here for steaks and starches. A sauce of this type pops up in many Hispanic menus and accordingly has numerous variations and sometime names

4 ounces oregano, garlic, parsley, green onions, culantro red onion,

4 ounces sun-dried tomato or one fresh whole

2 ounces roasted garlic

4 ounces olive oil or other oil, I use very little

5 ounces apple cider, red wine or balsamic vinegar

To Taste cumin, canned Chipotle peppers, granulated chicken base

1. Place everything is a blender or Cuisinart and process to a paste

3. Use as a sauce and marinade for grilled meats

I use any type of “vinegar” like pickle juice, or that from jarred pepper like pepperoncini for an interesting signature


Learning a new cooking procedure often seems intimidating but not when you put in into the perspective of what you already know. I remember my grandmother sweating vegetables for her turkey dressing in a little bacon fat just like a Latin American or New Orleans cook would use a sofrito. This flavoring base is used as a first step to cook beans, rice, soups and stews and imparts a distinctive Hispanic taste to what ever you’re making. Sofrito can be purchased in many Hispanic grocers and you’d keep a jar in the cooler to use as needed. You can also just make the vegetable portion then add and sweat the protein and combine with the base when you’re ready to use it.

4 ounces annatto infused olive oil or add 1 teaspoon achiote paste

1 cup diced sweet, roasted red, wax, Italian or wax peppers

4 ounces sun-dried tomato in oil

1 tablespoon oregano, thyme, paprika or achiote powder

To taste Spanish ham, bacon or smoked tocino minced

1. Process the first eight ingredients into slurry, refrigerate till needed

2. Sweat the ham, bacon or tocino till brown then

3. Add the appropriate amount of aromatics for whatever you’re making


4 ounces broad leaf parsley

6 ounces wax, banana or pepperoni peppers and maybe a few hot peppers

4 ounces of green onion-scallions

2-3 michita, local rolls torn into small pieces

  1. Process the first five vegetables culantro, parsley, garlic , peppers and onions to paste
  2. Add the lime juice and blend well, then the 2 egg yolks, blend again
  3. SLOWLY add the olive oil, your making mayonnaise, till thickened
  4. Add and process the rolls
  5. Adjust the thickness with a little stock or water, and the seasoning with base
  6. You can fake it by adding everything but the oil and egg to some mayo


Panamanian cuisine is based on scarcity, and like that of other developing nations, usually centers around bland starches. Rice, grains, legumes and various starchy cultivars are the dietary staples of the Panamanian diet. These starchy root like staples are called corms or cormels and there are thousands of varieties with thousands of names growing throughout the world. This abundance of varieties makes classifying and naming them very difficult especially when different varieties are planted together and they hybridized producing something divergent from their originators often evolving in a specific limited geographical location. They’re all sort of related and so we won’t pay homage to Linnaeus by attempting to lists them all but instead just offer the caveat that you can pretty much substitute one for the other. Basically all of them, and this included potatoes, plantains and corn, can be used to make tamale-fritter-croquette like constructs with protein, vegetable or dairy products incorporated. They can be dried and milled into flours, sliced and fried as chips, mashed and served like potatoes, used in stews and soups, and when sweetened even made into desserts in a variety of Panamanian recipes.

Basically we’re talking about only four or five identifiable major groups that include Yucca-Cassava-Manioc, Camote-Sweet Potato, Name-Tropical Yam, Taro-Otoe-Malanga, and Papas-Potates. Then there still other starchy items that can be thrown into the mix like Piva-Pejibaye Palm Fruit or the Chayote a rather bland cucumber like gourd-vegetable. But chances are you won’t be eating too many of these unless you’re living in the tropics because many of them don’t travel well. Just to further confuse you we’ll throw in a few more related names for Otoe like Dasheen, Eeldo, Kalo, Talo, Dado, Dago Angel, Avo, Ma, Yautia, Tannia, Cocoyam, Coco, and Arrowroot just to name a few. The leaves may also be eaten in many cases especially in the Caribbean’s African inspired callaloos. A cautionary note: some of these guys can cause a slight skin irritation so unless you’re a macho cook like me you should wear gloves when you’re processing the raw YUCCA or OTOE or just enjoy the tingling skin sensation that last about 45 minutes. Anyway these starchy components are made into fritters called Bunuelos, Empanada, Pasties, Tamales, Mofongo, Tortillas, Carimanolas, Bollas and several others then fried, baked or steamed into hand held food transporters. Unfortunately they all look and taste pretty much the same to the novice eye and tongue no matter what Panamanian recipe you’re preparing.

When the Spanish arrived they brought few vegetables, since their diet back home included few at the time, and this is reflected in today’s Panamanian diet. And contrary to what you may think a lot of the cultivars we know don’t grow well in the tropics that has no seasons where there’s little nutrient for anything but the native plants and trees in the rain forest. So at our local farmers market in El Valle de Anton we find, small cauliflowers, Japanese eggplant, several types of squash, mustard greens, amaranth, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green and round onions, with broccoli and cabbage making an occasional appearance. There are some other vegetables but the locals don’t seem to know that you can eat cactus paddles, luffa gourds, and banana blossoms. Mangoes, papaya, nectarines, limes, oranges, bananas, and grapefruits are also components of the Panamanian recipe file plus well over a hundred mystery fruits you’ll probably never see or eat. Anyway a cultivar or dish can change names from one province to another even in a small country like Panama and this only complicates the codification process. Much of what’s eaten on the Caribbean side is not eaten on the Pacific side so the cuisine of Panama has more “regional” variations then countries 5 times its size.

Panamanian recipes draw a thin line between starch, meat, vegetables and fruits, they’re often amalgamated into one dish, and since the average Panamanian ingests much more fruit then vegetables this category may seem to meander a bit. Many of the following Panamanian recipes inhabit “the I don’t know zone” so the decision’s up to you. Panamanians don’t have scheduled meal formats, unless their in the city, and tend to eat what’s available whenever their hungry. We’ll start with the Empanada that’s also called a Pattie on the Caribbean side, a Cornish pasty in England, a turnover in the States, a Samosa in India or a Simbusak in the Arab world which can be baked, fried or even steamed when using corn or grain as a wrapper. The most prevalent wrapper is a savory pie crust, but you can use hojaldre dough, frozen pie shells, pie dough mix, puff paste dough, masa dough, polenta, egg roll wrappers, refrigerate roll dough and I’ve even had instant mashed potato empanadas. You could use canned corned beef hash, a duck from one of the numerous Chinese markets or a rotisseried chicken from the local deli.

The quantifier is the usual half-moon shape, although you can fashion triangular ones, stuffed with some filling either sweet or savory no matter what it’s enclosed in. There are numerous examples of this hand-held food conveyance in scores of different cultures appearing in many different sizes and identified by scores of different names. Just remember that each and every one is just like a hot pocket back home and in reality you could use oatmeal, bran cereal, sticky rice or even cream of wheat as a wrapper. Much like the envelope the filling also has a myriad number of possible choices both savory and sweet you can use fruit, vegetables, tofu, beef, chicken or seafood just remember if your making your own dough throw in something that will compliment the filling, candied fruit, herbs, or vegetables. It’s said that the empanada originated in Spanish Galicia and may have been introduced by Sephardic Jews originally from Babylonia who traveled with the Moors during their occupation of Iberia. During the latter part of the 19 th century Argentina and Uruguay where the world’s largest produces of corned beef and it became a common component in the Latin America diet finding it’s way into many an empanada since it was “tinned” and required no refrigeration


This basic meat recipe when it contains both raisins, capers, olives and some derivation of sofrito is called a Picadillo although the Panamanian version often has hard-cooked eggs added to the filling. You can use pork, ground beef, minced chicken or turkey for this construct although only the beef may be available in the less urban areas all of the other ingredients shouldn’t be a problem.

1 pound ground protein or shredded corned beef

½ cup each minced onion and sweet pepper fresh or jarred

2 ounces raisins, sultanas or currants

1 small jar store-bought alcaparrado, chopped

½ teaspoon each oregano and thyme

2 ounces sliced green onions

to taste minced hot chili, cayenne or salsa piquante

1 can Italian tomatoes with juice or 2 fresh diced with 2 tablespoons paste

black pepper and granulated beef or chicken base

2 hard-cooked eggs sliced or 8 hard-cooked quail eggs from the market

  1. Saute protein in olive oil till browned
  2. Add the other ingredients except black pepper and base, simmer 15 minutes
  3. Remove from heat adjust seasonings with pepper and base
  4. Gently fold in eggs and chill until needed, quail eggs are welcomed by locals


Oh, I’m so confused what should I use to wrap my empanada? Well that’s really a question of availability, time constraints and technical expertise so let’s recap. This Panamanian recipe calls for a savory pie crust like dough, unless your filling is sweet, that’s about a ¼ “ thick when baked so if you follow the model then you can either make your own crust, purchase a dry mix, use prerolled uncooked hojaldres resized as needed, or utilize frozen pie crust dough or puff paste- phyllo sheets, or egg roll wrappers or even refrigerated biscuit/roll dough. Coverings can also be made of freshly processed corn, fresh yucca, yucca flour or frozen prepared empanada dough available in Hispanic markets. In any case you’ll need to roll or lay the product out in a circle then place an appropriate amount on filling on one half of the circle, pinch or scallop with a fork to seal and egg wash the tops if you’re using flour dough. You will then bake, fry, steam or boil to finish your entrée or appetizers sized empanada.

If you prefer using a corn wrapper for your empanada a variety of constructs are also available so let’s briefly discuss them so you can make a choice. First you could use plain corn meal or packaged masa mix that you would prepare like breakfast gruel using meat or fish stock instead of water. Or you could purchase the hulled and dried corn kernels, you may have seen in the market, which are soaked and then ground using a hand grinder like your grandmother may have used. This product would then be made into a gruel, cooled till it’s malleable, just as the masa or corn meal would be, and then shaped into round disks into which you would enclose the prepared stuffing in a half circle. This construct would then be either deep or shallow fried, baked or steamed somewhat like a tamale. Some may argue that this empanada is no more than a misshapen-misguided cigar-shaped carimanola it’s your call.


I prefer using boneless rib eye or top round steak in this construct (Bistec Costilla or Pierna) which I pound quite thin then marinade in achiote paste and sour orange juice (Naranja Agria) before barbecuing and dicing or shredding for various filling. If you’re making this in Panama be sure to braise the meat till its tender whether or not you choose to barbecue it since (See: WHERE’S THE BEEF) our meat from the local humped steer is tougher then that offered in the old country or alternatively use fillet selling for about $4 a pound in the urban markets. Again the choice of wrapper is up to your, your resources and your pantry and when I prepare these, or most any other empanadas, I always dust the ingredients with a few tablespoons of flour to form a light sauce. I also really like to make these using just good smoked bacon or Spanish chorizo.

1 pound paillarded, marinated and barbecued beef steaks

1 cup minced onion, leek or scallion

1 small can Italian tomatoes including juice or ½ cup diced fresh

1 cup diced sweet pepper, your choice fresh or jarred

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup diced small potato cubes, nuked until just barely firm

1 cup frozen or 2 freshly chopped spinach, mustard, amaranth-Chinese spinach-callaloo greens

4 ounces crushed local cashews, pan roasted

1 package crumbled local white cheese, Queso Blanco or Spanish Manchego

To taste minced fresh hot chili or canned chipotle (smoked jalapeños) peppers

Granulated beef base and fresh ground black pepper

  1. Saute the floured diced or shredded beef in olive oil
  2. Add the onions, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, potato, greens and cashews saute 10 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and add the crumbled queso blanco or Manchego cheese
  4. Adjust seasoning with beef base, ground black pepper and chipotle peppers.
  5. Fill your selected wrapper and bake, saute or steam depending on the choice of envelope


These starchy cousins of the banana are a fruit, and like their cousins not indigenous to the New World, are known by many names in many cultures around the world. Both bananas and plantains probably come from Indonesia and it is thought they reached the Americas in the early sixteenth century. Some think they arrived earlier since they seem to have spread at an amazing rate for having only arrived in 1516 and are a food staple throughout the American tropics. They along with their cousins and have come to be an archetypical symbol for Central America “Banana Republics” one that help shape national borders and American political policies in the late nineteenth century. Plantains can be eaten, green/unripe, yellow/turning ripe or black/way ripe, each state requiring different handling and cooking techniques. Hard green bananas can often be substituted for green plantains and the two are often combined in various recipes. Plantains are baked, broiled, pureed, fried and shredded in local recipes and often the method for preparation determines the name of the finished product. The simple fried version is as popular in the lower Americas as the potato chip is in the US but they’re usually served soon after they are cooked as a snack or meal accompaniment.


They can be cut thin or thick, in rounds or at an angle or even lengthwise and the cooking oil could be vegetable, peanut, lard, palm or beef suet. Some will favor them with a seasoning mix like adobo or sazon, others shredded queso fresco and they can even be used as croutons in a salad. The names change with the shape but here just remember that when your aunt Lupe from Guatemala makes them they might not have the same name your uncle Tito from Nicaragua gives them. Here are a number of Panamanian recipe variations for plantains.

Plantanitos: Single fried plantain chip

Patacones/Tostones: Twice cooked plantains that you deep fry till golden then remove and smash with your hand, a rock or in a wooden press called a tostonera that will either produce a flattened or basket Pionono/Canasta shape for stuffing depending on the press you’re using. Requires a green hard plantain and that’s why you press it after the first fry and then refry. Eat these with a spritz of fresh lime juice and perhaps a little cayenne pepper. HERE’S A VIDEO RECIPE

Chifles: Thinly sliced chips much like potato chips now being packaged in Latin America and also made out of yucca/cassava. These potato like chips have an infinite number of flavoring possibilities

Plantano Maduro: Ripe, spears fried until they caramelize or sprinkle with sugar to speed and enhance the process

Platanos Tentacion: Baked green plantains that are candied using the local sugar and sometimes rum, allspice, cinnamon and vanilla or fruit for the “temptation”. Some recipes use juice or even soft drinks like Coke or orange soda for their secret ingredient.

Tirades: Fried in length way slices

Canoas: Full length, halved then stuffed either sweet or savory


Plantains are bananas but unless they’re really ripe, called maduro, they’re rarely eaten raw and must be cooked much like a potato. When the Spanish first saw the fruit producing tree it resembled the plane tree from back home hence the name plátano. Platanos are really hard to peel unless they’re cooked or you’re willing to struggle. To cook cut the ends off the fruit then slit the skin lengthwise from end to end, place in a hot oven for about 15, remove and cool and the peel is easy to remove or nuke them in the microwave till they’re pliable. This construct also calls for roasted peppers and you certainly can use the roasted red variety out of the jar or fire roast your own over an open burner on the stove. Just literally burn the skin on the pepper rotating to get all sides then wrap in a towel or plastic wrap for about 5 minutes to steam the skins off, remove the seeds and chop.

2 cups roasted plantain flesh and one peeled banana

1 tablespoon chipotle peppers and 2 tablespoons green peppercorns processed

4 ounces fire roasted chilies cut into strips

1 cup smashed black beans, gandul/black-eyed peas or garbanzos, fresh or canned

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 package local queso blanco or cheese of your choice, crumbled

To taste granulated chicken base or soy sauce and perhaps more chilies

  1. Lightly process the peeled plantains and banana
  2. Combine this masa with the processed chipotle and peppercorns
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients, adjust seasonings with granulated base, reserve
  4. Divide the chilled plantain mix into 4 equal portions
  5. Using your hands shape the mix on plastic wrap, into a circle
  6. Fill the lower half of each circle with a portion of the reserved filling
  7. Using the plastic wrap fold the masa over the bean mix and seal
  8. Saute the empanadas in olive oil till browned


From the Caribbean side using pastry dough with the perquisite curry powder. The recipe calls for ground beef but you could easily use salted/corned beef or, pork or beef cecina, rotisseried chicken or for that matter canned tuna or salmon. You’ll need to make your own pastry envelope if you want the curried infused variety although could utilize mix or frozen dough by adding or dusting the sheets with curry powder. The dough formula presented here can be made by hand or in food processor just be sure to let it relax in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

General Purpose Empanada Dough

Pinch of cayenne or hot red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon of granulated chicken base

4 ounces shortening, butter, or lard

1. Combine and mix the flour, granulated base, curry powder and pepper

2. Add the shortening and cut in either by hand or using a mixer/processor

3. Gradually add the ice water till the dough comes together, wrap and chill

4. Roll the dough out and cut into 4 circles, or shape each individually free form

5. Place filling on bottom half, brush bottom edge with egg wash

6. Fold the top half over the bottom and crimp to seal with fingers or a fork

7. Brush the tops with egg wash and bake at 350 till golden


1 pound raw ground beef, or shredded braised/cooked lamb, beef or chicken

1 cup diced onion, red-yellow-green or sliced whites of leek

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon each minced garlic and chipotle pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1 small tomato diced fine

½ teaspoon each allspice, thyme, and cumin

1 cup appropriate stock or water with stock base

To taste granulated beef base and fresh ground black pepper

  1. Saute the protein in olive oil till cooked or heated
  2. Add the flour and mix well , them the onion cook 5 minutes
  3. Add curry, garlic, chipotle, tomato, allspice, thyme and cumin mix well
  4. Add the stock or water bring to a simmer
  5. Adjust seasonings with granulated base and black pepper
  6. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature
  7. Dough circles as instructed in the above dough recipe
  8. Place filling in lower half of circle and fold over, sealing edge with egg wash


Don’t panic these are just cigar or free form sphere shaped empanadas using cassava/manioc as the starch envelope or any starch with your choice of vegetable, cheese, fruit, meat or seafood stuffing. This recipe uses diced pork loin because it’s easily obtained in Panama but shoulder or butt will also do and if processing the cooked meat is too much you can use ground pork or chorizo or even breakfast sausage.

1½ pound of peeled yucca, boiled soft in chicken stock with 4 bay leafs (use granulated base)

1 pound raw pork diced or ground or shredded store-bought cecina/tasajo

1 cup diced leeks or onion

1 small can Italian pear tomatoes or 2 fresh diced

½ package fresh saffron or ½ teaspoon achiote powder

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons bitter orange or lime juice

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh or bottled green peppercorns

1 cup meat stock or water with granulated base

to taste granulated meat base and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Discard bay leaves, process or grind yucca to mashed potatoes consistency reserve
  2. Saute the pork in olive oil till browned
  3. Add leeks, tomatoes, saffron, and minced garlic, cook till fragrant
  4. Add flour, mix well then add Seville/bitter orange juice, pepper corns & base
  5. Cook until thickened then adjust seasonings with baser and pepper, cool
  6. Shape the mashed yucca in ovals, or circles
  7. Place cooled pork mixture in centers and fold edges to seal, or use additional dough
  8. Shallow fry till golden brown

You can lighten the recipe a bit producing a more pastry like wrapper by incorporating the yucca mash with about 40% flour and a little oil and a teaspoon of achiote powder. Try this one ……..

1½ cups yucca mash following the above procedure

3 tablespoons canola or other oil (if you make annatto infused oil skip the achiote)

1 teaspoon achoite powder which will add a pink tinge & a little flavor

1 small quantity of water for processing the dough to pie crust consistency

1 teaspoon of baking powder will make it even lighter, optional

Shape the dough into circle or cigar shapes on a floured board, silplat (silicon) mat, piece of plastic warp or banana leaf. Place you selected stuffing in the center then fold in the edges to seal or top with additional dough. Often it’s best to chill your empanadas or carimanolas before shallow fry OR bake to a golden crust, you might also want to toss in a teaspoon of baking powder for a more airy texture.


Here is yet another starch preparation used to envelop Panamanian recipes for bollos, carimanola and empanadas, this construct is also used for Panamanian style tamales wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed or boiled. We’ll use fresh corn cut off the cob but many locals also use dried corn available in the local Chino’s which is something like hominy. If you willing to try the dried variety you’ll need to soak it overnight much like you would beans. I also expedite the process by nuking the kernels for about 20 minutes prior to their over night soak after which you process the cooked kernels in a hand grinder, grain mill or cuisinart. After soaking the dry corn overnight change the water and cook covered, until the kernels are soft like fresh corn cut from the cob.

4 cups fresh or 2 pounds soaked dried corn kernels cooked soft, washed and chilled

1 cup strong meat stock or water and granulated stock base

2 ounces lard, shortening, butter or rendered bacon fat

1 package smoked lean smoked bacon (tasajo ahumado) diced

8 ounces pork cecina or tasajo (store-bought) processed

½ cup diced leeks or red onion

1 tablespoon each minced garlic and chipotle pepper purée

2 cups cooked, frozen or canned spinach, mustard or amaranth greens

Steer Escapes Slaughterhouse, Earns New Life

PATERSON, New Jersey — He was destined to end up on someone’s dinner table, but when one steer caught wind of what was coming — he bolted. And his dramatic race for freedom has earned him a chance at a long life.

On the way to a slaughterhouse, the 800-pound Bovine took off and turned downtown Paterson, New Jersey, into the Wild West.

“The cow was unbelievable. He weighed about 800 pounds. It was running back and forth up and down River Street. He crossed Presidential Boulevard and stopped at the new basketball courts they have there — I guess he wanted to shoot a couple hoops,” said Chief John De Cando with Paterson Animal Control.

At one point, as police were closing in, the steer tried to make a break for it and ended up denting a police car.

“There were five police cars to the right, five police cars to the left, and right in the middle was this 800-pound cow. He looked both ways and all of a sudden booked,” said De Cando.

Finally, cornering him against a fire hydrant, animal control officers were able to tranquilize him.

The slaughterhouse brought a truck to take him back, but the owner decided to reward the wayward animal for his bravery and spare him.

The steer was taken to a farm in upstate New York.

“He’s going to go to the sanctuary and end up either living his life out there or another sanctuary might end up taking him. But he won’t end up on anyone’s plate, ever,” said Mike Stura with Woodstock Animal Sanctuary.

Reader Interactions


Truth and consistency go hand-in-hand. That was brilliant, Free From Harm Staff Writers.

The overpopulation of these animals is caused purely by humans. It is also easily reversible.

I haven’t heard such a morally vacuous and utterly delusional post as this for some time. You work in an industry that benefits and exploits this situation and that is all. Your reasoning is hard to fathom and one can only assume that your desperation in justifying what you do is how you come to such bizarre conclusions. To compare your food with Macdonalds etc is irrelevant in the extreme, the cow that dies for your or their food suffers the same fate with the same results – who cares if your food tastes better or you think about it’s preparation more? And who cares for your oh so worthy ‘gratitude’ for their generous offering up of themselves? ‘The sacrifice they make for us’. Please, what tosh is this? THEY do not make a sacrifice, WE kill them. To sacrifice yourself is to do something willingly, nobody could possibly think of them giving their lives for us surely? As for your position in gallantly accepting your fate if the tables were turned, just don’t. Don’t even pretend to explain it that way. Finally, such is NOT nature, such is choice.

As hard as you vegans are trying to get people to become vegan, you have to try to create some middle ground with your activism. No way are you going to get people to give up meat, not for at least 20-25 generations. Start with a concept like, say, in order to eat meat, one must hunt and butcher it themselves. Trust me. My way would make way more “vegans” than you showing a video of some anonymous cow being led to his death. That video is awful, but it wont stop me from eating cow. Now, if I had to hunt it and kill it myself, I’d probably become a Vegan, only because I know how much time and effort it takes to stalk, hunt, kill, butcher and refrigerate a large carcass. That, would definitely drive me to veganism!

Free From Harm Staff Writers says

Check this out from Gary Francione’s site:

“Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

‘When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.’

Why is every animal advocate and every large animal organization not working to get to that 10% rather than promoting welfare reform, “compassionate” consumption, and “happy” exploitation?

Yes, I know “we won’t have a vegan world overnight” (the favorite way of welfarists to mischaracterize the abolitionist position) but we don’t have to get the whole world to go vegan “overnight.” We just need to build a solid vegan movement of 10%. But let’s be conservative and say that we need to reach 20%. We could do that.

But we’ll never get there as long as we are telling people that they can do right by animals by consuming “happy” animal products.

We will, of course, appeal to donors who want to continue eating animals and are happy to pay for a stamp of approval from animal advocates so that they can consume animal products with a clear conscience.”

Free From Harm Staff Writers says

There are many “utilitarian” based animal advocacy organizations, most of all of the big ones in fact, which promote “happy” meat. We don’t. We believe it is just humanewashing which deliberately manipulates people into buying their happy products and happy branding fantasies.

The following is a letter written by John Sanbonmatsu, associate professor of Philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, to Aaron Gross of Farm Forward which promotes “humane” animal products. I think this letter makes the best case for why this position is not going to bring about any paradigm shift in our relationship with animals and in fact has many parallels with fascism, as Sanbonmatsu points out here:

Thank you for writing me personally, and for doing so in such civil and gracious terms. These debates are emotionally fraught, because politically and morally so, and wherever possible one should reach for the high moral ground by empathizing with those one disagrees with and trying to meet them half way.

I am Jewish too, as it happens (on my mother’s side). And I too take seriously the Holocaust analogy. What other analogous human institution or set of moral crimes can we turn to, but to the Shoah, when looking at our treatment of the other species? It is precisely because I take the analogy seriously, however, that I cannot understand what you and Jonathan Foer and others think you are doing over at Farm Forward, HSUS, and other “reformist” groups.

Allow me, briefly, to “translate” some of the language on your website, imagining however that it is addressing the plight of European Jewry in the early 1940s, rather than the butchery of nonhuman animals today:

– “Himmler is a long-time friend and mentee of Franz Stangl. His objective is to turn the Coalition into a fully-integrated and self-sustaining production network capable of supplying the region with Jews to be gassed.”

– “The Integrity of Humane Practices” shall include shooting Jews in the head, gassing them, and slitting their throats. Our position is that while murdering billions of Jews, for eternity, is not “ideal,” it can nonetheless be made a “humane and sustainable” (and, what is more, highly profitable) enterprise.

– Buying and using products made from the bodies of gassed Jews–lampshades and so on–shall henceforth be known as participating in “Conscientious Consumption.”

– We at Camps Forward support “the transition back to sensible and sustainable practices”–such as pogroms in the Pale and the ecologically friendly, scientifically sustainable methods of the Einsatzgruppen. As is well known, Jews for thousands of years were killed in small batches, in a romantic and aesthetically pleasing way, rather than en masse in ugly industrial facilities. We therefore applaud a return to this aspect of our collective Heritage.

– The Camps Forward project makes it possible for “disparate interests opposed to the abuse of Jews in concentration camps [to] unite in coordinated and effective ways”–i.e. such disparate groups as the S.S., the Einsatzgruppen, as well as advocates of Jews in North America. We have created an ongoing dialogue and meeting ground between the peaceful killers of Jews, and Jewish advocates. Follow us on Twitter

What kind of self-deception must be involved, I wonder, for your organization to go around writing and promoting such Newspeak? For Newspeak it is. Here is another example:

“Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch is a unique network of Heritage poultry farmers that includes the nation’s preeminent expert on Heritage poultry, Farm Forward Board Member Frank Reese. In 2009, with the pro bono assistance of Farm Forward Consulting, Good Shepherd was able to expand its production beyond turkeys to include chickens. Good Shepherd is currently the market leader in the sale of chicken and turkey products that come from birds who are raised entirely outside of the factory farm industry using humane and sustainable methods.”

Talk about Orwellian — a direct advertisement for the market in dismembered animal bodies, on a site by animal advocates. “A unique network of Heritage” farmers is a fine touch — an appeal to conservative instincts, and to the hoary myths of virtuous agrarian life. A real “market leader”: banal corporate-speak in the context of mass killing. And so on. The text cannily interpellates the reader into celebrating the putative moral or public good of “expanding production” of murdered creatures. It is this home team we are implicitly urged to root for.

The difference between true Newspeak and mere propaganda, of course, is the way the former unites contradictory or even antithetical concepts so as to evacuate them of substantive meaning, in order thereby to obscure (and secure) the violence at the heart of the enterprise. Hence the special genius of “the Good Shepherd” trope, which brings violence and government together under one roof, and which anchors the whole rhetorically in a Christian metaphysics. But as Thracymachus rightly pointed out in the Republic during his joust with Socrates, the “good shepherd” does not in reality have his flock’s interests at heart, since his job is to ready them for the executioner. To be sure, if given the “choice” between, on the one hand, being shot in the back of the head while overlooking the pleasant Latvian countryside, and a deep trench filled with bodies, and, on the other, being worked to death at Treblinka, then yes, by all means, I’ll take the former. But the moment one claims that the former “option” is “humane,” then I fear you are laboring in Orwell’s totalitarian vineyards, and indeed are repeating, but in a different key, the same arguments made by the Binding and Hoche and other leading ideologues of Hitler’s euthanasia program.

In your note to me, you write, “Emphasizing the crucial ‘more’ in ‘more humane’ is something we could do better. Point taken.” But no, I’m sorry, that is not my point, so you cannot have taken it. Murdering animals (yes, murdering them: I am tired of using euphemisms) is not humane. Period, full-stop. There is no “more humane” way of cutting throats, gassing hundreds of avians in CO2 tanks. There are only relatively “less brutal” ways. Techniques of extermination can be made more or less aesthetic, more or less horrifying. But changing such techniques, swapping out the mechanisms of doom, does nothing to make the violence any less extreme or unconscionable. You can murder me less brutally, but you cannot murder me “more humanely.”

Recall if you will the images from the beheading of Daniel Pearl by terrorists in the Middle East. Then look at some of the images I have attached here to remind you of where all the “happy talk” on your site about benignant farming really leads to in the end. If the leadership and board members of Farm Forward were intellectually and morally honest, you and they would include such images prominently on your website. But of course you will and cannot, since you are trying to make the bodies of dead animals seem palatable, not horrific. Please at least acknowledge that, in your special way, you are therefore lying to the public and betraying the interests of the millions of individual beings who are being killed on organic farms, precisely by not showing the public what actually ends up happening to them.

Can you not see why, reading the Farm Forward website, I cannot help being reminded me of the model camps the Nazis set up for the International Red Cross? The “humane” camps which showed the Jews and Roma well fed and clothed, but which left out the part about all the killing?

The reason this is all so very bad is that the global crisis of capitalist agriculture has for the first time in human history created an opportunity for us to challenge human species right and Herrschaft species politics — and you and others in the locavore/sustainability/welfare movements (sorry, but if I paint with a broad brush, it is because they ply the same basic message) are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (or, at least, from the historical possibility of a true awakening to the nature and scale of the problem) by re-legitimating animals as commodities, as having lives that do not deserve to be respected or protected. That is what brings your “disparate” group of killers and advocates together: a fundamental conviction, implicit in everything Farm Forward does, that while the suffering of farmed animals ought to be relieved, the actual lives of animals simply do not matter. They are weightless and insubstantial as air. And that is the root of the problem, ideologically. If we don’t challenge that, then we have challenged nothing.

Farm Forward lobbies for purely superficial and symbolic improvements to animal “welfare,” without however attacking either the ideological root of the problem, which is speciesism, or the fundamental injustice that we do to other animals, which is to exterminate them in the billions. Far from promoting veganism, your organization promotes animal agriculture. Call it “humane” or “sustainable” or whatever you like, that is what you are doing — promoting one more kind of animal agriculture. Well, just as you can’t make a nation of alcoholics give up the drink by advertising 70-year old Scotch or offering them even finer liqueurs, you aren’t going to get people to change their prejudice that the lives of other animals are worthless by offering them “Heritage” flesh. The entire discourse is rotten and shot through with bad faith, because it tacitly affirms the behavior it supposedly disapproves of. In reality, asking people to reduce their meat consumption is like asking men to “reduce” their sexual violence against women, or President Assad to “reduce” his massacres of civilians, or racist whites in the South to “reduce” their lynchings of blacks (while adding, occasionally and timidly, that it would perhaps be “ideal” if they should cease such practices altogether). In other words, it is to give one’s imprimatur morally to the underlying practice, which is domination and extreme violence.

It has been my own personal observation that consumers of organic “beef” and other products do not stop eating factory-farmed steak when eating out with their friends, nor do they reduce their consumption of animal products, after reading Omnivore’s Dilemma. But then, nor do such folk subsequently go on to question vivisection, or their right to bring their kids to see Ringling Brothers or the zoo, and so on. They don’t in fact come away caring about animals at all. And why should they? Because so long as Farm Forward and others tell them that nonhuman lives are worthless — or rather, worth only as much as the market will bear for their flesh — then middle and upper class consumers can indeed eat with a clear “conscience,” while working people and the poor and other middle class people keep on buying affordable, factory-farmed products. It’s a win-win: everyone gets to continue doing what they’re doing, without challenging the overall system one iota. Factory farming is as you know expanding, in fact, not contracting: the Smithfield deal is only the beginning of things. Locavorism will remain at best a niche market (as James McWilliams has pointed out, were all the cows pasture-fed, we would anyway need several more earths to devastate). I fear then that your “peanut-pushing” approach, as you call it, won’t lead to the closure of a single actual animal enterprise, ever — and by design. Instead, Farm Forward is embarked on an approach which advocates continuing such practices for an eternity.

I cannot, therefore, make any sense of your otherwise heartening assurance to me that you too embrace the “project of trying to re-imagine subjectivity as such with a liberatory intent for animals.” Where is Hannah Arendt [author of the study, Eichmann in Jerusalem] when we need her? At least the Judenräte never had the chutzpah to advertise products made from Jews, or to speak enthusiastically of their liquidation as “humane and sustainable.” (Sustainable murder–now there is a concept.)

As for the terribly disappointing Jonathan Foer [one of the prominent supporters of Farm Forward], I appreciated much of his book, Eating Animals, and in fact assigned it to my students last year. For me, though, the most revealing thing in the whole book was this passage: “Whether we’re talking about fish species, pigs, or some other eaten animal, is such suffering the most important thing in the world? Obviously not.” How’s that for playing to the mob? Now, one may quibble about whether the wholly unnecessary suffering and violent deaths of perhaps 100 billion land and sea animals each year is more important than, say, climate change, or poverty in the Third World, or anything else. But it is Foer’s “Obviously not” that gives the game away. Obviously the lives of all those animals could not possibly be that important. Re-reading that enabled me to understand Foer’s reasons for participating in that awful New York Times Magazine contest, “Defending Your Dinner,” in which the Times invited readers to defend meat consumption.

In your note, you amiably advise me to expend my scarce energies elsewhere, rather than to attack fellow animal advocates. But the Times contest demonstrates perfectly what I am talking about, and why all this matters: viz. the strategic animal welfare intelligentsia, who are telling the consuming middle classes the very fantasy they most want to hear, which is that killing and eating animals on a gargantuan scale is morally unproblematic so long as we ameliorate the worst excesses of factory farming. Thus, on the contrary: revealing the fraud being perpetrated on the animal rights movement by groups like Farm Forward still seems to me the best possible use which I and others could be making of our time at this crucial historical conjuncture, given the way knowledge and legitimation practices circulate in our society.

In fine, or so it seems to me, Farm Forward fails on both deontological and utilitarian grounds. It fails on deontological grounds because it treats the lives of billions of our fellow beings as disposable commodities, and therefore reinforces speciesism at the most fundamental level. But it also fails on utilitarian grounds. First, because the new welfarism will not displace or lead to the abolition of factory farming, but will only lead to cosmetic changes in the industry (this much is clear) without producing any qualitative mitigation in either the suffering or final agonies of those being killed — all the while putting a moral “Good-Housekeeping” stamp of approval on the new, lucrative niche markets in animal flesh (the very markets lining the pockets of elite Judas like Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, another Farm Forward board member). Second, because the whole project meanwhile serves the aforementioned ideological function of stabilizing speciesism by re-branding and re-naturalizing “meat” as a virtuous commodity.

Farm Forward, whatever else it is or think it is doing, is therefore not promoting animal liberation. In my view, it is not even a pro-animal organization, but an anti-animal one. Call that “absolutist” or “purist” if you like. But I don’t see it that way. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said that in matters of ethics, we should stand firm as rock, but in matters of taste, swim with the fishes. Farm Forward and other groups seem to me to treat ethics as a kind of aesthetics, rather than as a fragile realm of empathetic and principled commitments that must be fiercely defended–defended at all costs and regardless of whether they happen to grate against the ugly prejudices of the majority.

What you mistake for “pragmatism,” I fear, is merely giving in.

John Sanbonmatsu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Department of Humanities and Arts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

>And what would the klansman say at the black meeting?

Well he might say something along the lines of “I’ve made studies of human skulls and these show the superiority of the white race. The white race is under threat from the black and so the whites must carry out lynchings in their own interests”

It might be a false argument but he would still be brave for delivering it in front of a black crowd. That’s my point.

I’m a meat-eater, but I wouldn’t have the patience or courage to justify my diet on a forum where I know I would be subject to harsh personal attacks.

That Mark is repeatedly willing to come back and engage with this conversation is surely a good thing and I posted to offer him support – I don’t believe there can be any ideology that negates dialogue.

Free From Harm Staff Writers says

Andrew, to follow your logic, then when a person has a pistol to your head, as in the case of the cow in the video, you go ahead and try to talk reason with him (at least you can speak his language). Is that a harsh personal attack too? For the animal victim, it is simply reality, the reality we choose to ignore. All in the name of defending our “taste” for the flesh of others. How brave. How valiant. How sweet of you to defend Mark.

Free From Harm Staff Writers says

And what would the klansman say at the black meeting? “Please respect our practice of lynching and burning at stakes your people.” How about the sexist at the feminist meeting? “Please respect us for fighting against laws to protect you from rape and against your right to vote.” And in the case of eating animals, what would you expect us to say to someone like you and Mark Ford? “We respect your views of paying someone to shoot an innocent animal point blank in the skull, as in this video, because you like the way his flesh tastes.” I fear that someone like you, Andrew, is far too indoctrinated into the mainstream carnistic worldview to see the absurdity of invoking the need for diplomacy and respect for those who defend ideologies like racism, sexism and speciesism that are, by their very definition, violent and oppressive, and therefore negate dialogue.

Have you had no mercy ? Are you people are human beings or brutes in the form of human beings ?

/>Ashley Capps says

Mark, I also want to address your claim that your harm to animals is somehow more ethical because the food you prepare is “delicious” and “fine dining.” That’s preposterous. One of the things I find most repellent about foodies is their treatment of the rarified culinary experience as an inherent good in and of itself that transcends the ethical, as though the choices made in pursuit of “fine dining” and haute cuisine do not participate in a moral realm: the fetishizing of the sensual over the ethical. If foodies could take off their roast colored glasses for a moment, they would recognize that when you needlessly rob an animal of his life, it’s equally selfish, equally violent, and equally wrong whether you turn his mutilated body into bacon-wrapped éclairs au chocolat, or a BLT.

This attitude that fetishizes the products of completely unnecessary violence toward animals, and that celebrates the enslavement and killing of animals, has no place in a progressive moral framework moral progress always leads us in the direction of causing less harm. Demanding that sentient individuals be brought into this world simply to be hacked apart like so much timber is not a morally neutral position. It is willed harm. The self-congratulating glorification of “local meat” and “humane slaughter” is nothing more than the celebration of indefensible brutality toward the most helpless and vulnerable among us.

Well said, Ashley. How difficult it must be to reply to someone so obtusely bragging about being an ethical miser — but you did so with moral clarity and concision.

“Mark, I also want to address your claim that your harm to animals is somehow more ethical because the food you prepare is “delicious” and “fine dining.”

I think I already did it, but sure, just to make myself pellucidly clear. I don’t make that claim. The deliciousness of meat does not have anything to do a moral justification for killing animals. It may be why we do it, but it’s not what makes it acceptable.

/>Ashley Capps says

Mark, you wrote in your first comment, “I also think it’s in very poor taste to turn such noble, gentle creatures into food that is tasteless and gross (i.e. Big Macs). Out of respect for the animal, I try and buy local beef and make it into an incredibly delicious dish.” The implication seemed and seems still to be that because you traffic in haute cuisine, you’ve somehow done better (acted more ethically) by the needlessly murdered animal than someone who turns him into a hamburger. If I’ve misinterpreted your comment and you were not claiming that your elaborate concoctions are more ethical because they are fancy and “incredibly delicious,” then why did you write that you do what you do “out of respect” for “such noble, gentle creatures”? The implication is that what you are doing is somehow more just on behalf of the animals. And that’s delusional.

Cooking good food is just a way I show respect for the sacrifice a creature has made. My thought process runs like, “Hey friends, this chicken’s life was ended so that we can enjoy this meal today. That’s a pretty serious thing. So let’s not waste it by overcooking it and turning it into some rubbery, bland hockey puck. And to you, chicken, thanks for your food, little lady.”

So it doesn’t have to do with being more ethical, so much as making the most out of the situation I guess. And, part of the point of my alien overlord thought experiment is that I know that I would want my body to become a delicious meal if it absolutely had to be used for that purpose. Animals probably can’t think on that level, but if somehow they could, perhaps there is a chance they would feel the same way as me.

actually, Mark has justified his actions by the only argument against veganism which is valid-that of “might makes right” or “i want to and i can”. of course, this is also the justification for everything from genocide to human slavery to the jewish holocaust. it is certain that people who abuse,rape, torture and brutally kill other humans are also convinced that they are ethical in doing so. to state that it is somehow ethical to harm and kill helpless, innocent beings because you gain pleasure from it shows an extremely self centered and narcissistic view of the world. as was brought up before in earlier discussions, the only thing which allows him the luxury of this is that he is the perpetrator of the violence instead of the victim. the Golden Rule, which is the basis of all morals and ethics, requires us to treat others as we wish to be treated. Mark is lying only to himself when he states that he would be fine with someone more powerful than he treating him how he treats those he cooks and eats.

“In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they’re the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought.” ― Isaac Bashevis Singer

You have outdone yourselves! Fantastic replies, and quite possibly beyond the scope of my abilities to rationally dispute them. But, maybe just a challenge to myself, I’m going to try. I’ll begin with the first reply, and may not get to the others until much later.

You write:
“You say you don’t want to see animals unnecessarily harmed and yet you don’t find it morally objectionable to harm someone for taste only, where 99% of our harm to animals is committed.”

I wonder where this figure came from. It seems to me that there is probably a great deal more than 1% of overall harm that occurs during the lives of animals in the factory farming system we have in place today. For some of these animals, life may actually be so bad that death comes as quite the relief.

“You say that the harm is minimal because the animal does not know that he is being killed until a few minutes before his death, but not knowing about your death would in no way make the murder of a human being less of a transgression. Our criminal justice system would not ease the punishmnent for the crime in such cases.”

I do think that ignorance of one’s death could minimize the suffering associated with it. Don’t you? Would you rather be living under the shadow of knowing you were going to slaughter, or living a normal life in the meantime? As to the criminal justice system’s treatment of murder, it would help to bear in mind the specific scenario I’ve been using here. The scenario is that advanced alien overlords descend to earth to take over the world and breed humans for use as food. The criminal justice system is useless in the face of such a threat. It would be like a gaggle of chickens attempting to hold counsel to determine what legal action to take against the humans. Not the most effective course of action.

You write:
“all the rationalizations we make for eating animals in an age when eating animals is not at all necessary for our survival or health,”

You write:
“it is usually followed by a statement sympathetic to their vegan and vegetarian friends”

The implication here seems to be that this is akin to racists talking about their black friends. I can assure you that, whatever the appearances might be, I do in fact have a vegan wife, who has dozens of vegan friends that I am also friends with, so I’m a bit of a special case. I seriously doubt that most carnivores have more than a couple of vegan friends.

You write:
“Eating is a communal, multi-cultural activity until the vegan sits down at the table”

This statement of fact is meant to support your position that eating animals products is not a personal moral decision. I can’t see how it possibly could. If eating animal products is not a personal moral decision, then the morality of food choices is ethically normative. But whether or not an activity is done alone, in private, or in the presence of fellow humans has no bearing on its moral status as a normative or a personal moral decision. Let’s look at an example. In ancient Rome, many Romans would gather at the Coliseum to watch gladiators kill prisoners. Most people would agree that it was wrong for the Romans to watch and get pleasure out of seeing a fellow human being slaughtered for sport. But we don’t invoke normative ethics in this case because people went there en masse. It would be equally as wrong for a rich Roman to hold a private gladiator session at which he was the sole spectator. This reasoning applies across the board to all questions of morality. The communality of a tradition has no bearing on whether or not the tradition is morally acceptable.

You write:
“They don’t want you to question their highly-coveted moral beliefs or perhaps they object to exposing their unexamined moral quandary over how one can justify using and killing animals for food in an age when it is completely unnecessary.”

As you can see, I welcome being questioned, and I also enjoy examining my own morals! I don’t fit your stereotype.

You write:
“There is no free choice without awareness”

Much of what followed did not directly relate to bullet point #2. You elaborated on the supposed failure of meat-eaters to question their beliefs, which is kind of related I guess. Like I said, I welcome critical examination of my beliefs. However, I don’t really have beliefs in the traditional sense. I’ve questioned my own “beliefs” so many times that I don’t really believe in beliefs anymore. Instead, I view my system of thought as reason based on probability of truth. I believe truth is real, and objective, but inherently unknowable in an absolute sense. Therefore what I claim as my belief is my best guess, and some claims I feel are more likely to be true than others. So any beliefs I have relating to the ethics of food choices are best guesses.

You write:
“the non vegan’s unexamined assumption that animals have no interest or understanding of the value of their individual lives.”

I don’t make that assumption. Certainly animals are not capable of the same level of abstract reason that humans are, and cannot form moral theories about the ethics of eating. But in an evolutionary capacity, animals definitely value their lives to the extent that they seek to preserve them and avoid death and pain.

“In the western world, we feel it wrong to torture and eat cats and dogs, but perfectly acceptable to do the same to animals equally as sentient and capable of suffering. No being who prides himself on rationality can continue to support such behaviour.”

I find this question interesting. Why do we not wish to eat cats and dogs in the Western world? The answer is that it reflects our cultural bias. We maintain special relationships with cats and dogs, and we find them especially cute. Cuteness is actually an important influence over human behavior. It helps us to feel motivated to protect our babies. Other cultures, such as the Cantonese, do not share our cultural bias to as great of an extent. They’ll just freaking eat a dog no questions asked. Personally, I love dogs so much I probably couldn’t eat them, but while I love and have owned cats, I might try cat if it wasn’t illegal to do so.

You write:
“Yet, for the non vegan, the choice of eating animals is completely disconnected from this concept of justice since justice does not, in their eyes, apply to other species, only to humans (how convenient). In other words, there are no visible, negative consequences to eating animal products.”

I believe it is possible to treat an animal unjustly. Factory farm workers have been filmed abusing animals. Cutting the beaks off chickens is cruel. I don’t support techniques like that. I don’t serve Tyson chicken to my clients, because I don’t support the techniques used to farm those chickens, and it doesn’t taste good anyway.

You write:
“In reality, the choice to eat animal products negates the very meaning of choice because the animal that had to be killed to procure the product had no choice in the matter at all. And the notion of characterizing such a choice as a personal one is even more problematic since the choice required the taking of another’s life, not a personal sacrifice. Nothing could be more public than the taking of a sentient life who cares about his own life, particularly when that act is neither necessary nor therefore morally defensible.”

Here we come to the “meat” of your argument. (Or should that be meat-free alternative?) I agree that the animal has no choice in the matter. Neither do animals have a choice whether or not to be eaten when they are consumed by their natural predators in their environment. But humans are in a unique position because we are able to rationalize and moralize about our decisions, whereas animals act according to their instincts. I believe that this ability to rationalize creates a kind of veneer between our mental states and nature as it naturally operates. We no longer operate according to instinct, we insert mental processes in between ourselves and our actions. No two individuals can be expected to have the exact same mental processes, which is where moral subjectivity finds support as a natural theory. It should be assumed that a moral stance that is consistent and well-considered is acceptable unless very good reasons can be given to show that it is not. Unfortunately, you have failed to do so. One of the few arguments you advanced against the acceptability of eating animals, that it is a normative moral choice made so by the communality of eating, was demonstrated to be incorrect. Any ad hominem-flavored attempts to describe ethical meat-eating as “delusional” are only going to weaken your cause when you have failed to provide a rational basis for normative veganism. But as I have previously insisted, you are well within rights and reason to choose veganism for yourself. Just don’t expect a few incoherent arguments to win over rational, ethical meat-eaters.

Free From Harm Staff Writers says

Mark, I don’t think the onus is on me or any other vegan, as you suggest, to prove that veganism is a good or just choice for respecting the animal’s sovereignty. The burden of proof, in my mind, is on those who choose to do harm to others who are clearly at our mercy, when they could choose otherwise. With all of the moral acrobatics you have displayed here thus far, you still can’t seem to explain to me why species is a valid reason to exploit or discriminate against someone, simply because he or she is a member of another species, when in fact, we categorically oppose the same based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation. You defend the right of the slaughterhouse worker to kill the animal in the video. And then you claim you care about the welfare of animals. You are clearly a very confused person who has much soul searching to do. I don’t think that’s an ad hominem, just an observation. Your ideas are not unique, I’m afraid. You’ve used just about every major carnistic defense in the book, ones we hear repeatedly from your side of the aisle. I wish I could say that you’re ideas are truly unique. It would give me great hope that such a chilling apathy is not “normative,” to use your expression.

Lastly I think your distinction between animal instinct versus human reasoning reveals your lack of understanding about animal minds and behavior. The study of animal behavior and personal observation tell us a very different story and evolutionary biology, from the time of Darwin on, shows us how much we share, rather than differ from other species. As I sit here and write this, one of my hens who is having health problems is being doted upon by another who cares for her well-being very deeply and demonstrates this regularly and unmistakably. If this is not the domain of moral behavior, I don’t know what is. Do we ignore this or deny it and claim that only humans possess moral behavior? Perhaps it is the human betrayal of morality, that ability to deny others their identity and render them as “inferiors,” which then erroneously permits us to do whatever we want to them, that is the human attribute more contemptable than whatever we claim is lacking in nonhuman animals.

Mark, your apathy, selfishness and taste for violence in order to experience a momentary taste sensation is truly disturbing. it shows a callous disregard for the pain, suffering and murder of helpless others boarding on sociopathy. with such insensitivity and disconnectedness being common, is it any wonder there are so many human created atrocities in our society. to condemn one form of violence and to happily support another is ironic, hypocritical and the epitome the brutal “might makes right” philosophy behind every act of cruelty and domination.

“Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks ‘they’re only animals'”-Theodor Adorno

“It makes me sad to be in a world where innocent animals are literally turned into products and ingredients that people can, without even the slightest thought of the suffering and cruelty that went into the making of that “product”, simply toss into their shopping carts at grocery stores. Worse yet are those who see the suffering and cruelty and are made aware and do nothing about it, say nothing about it, or even go as far as to DEFEND IT!” – Sarah Kiser

“Asking vegans to respect your decision to eat meat is on par with asking feminists to respect sexists, asking people of color to respect racists and asking homosexuals to respect homophobes. It is ludicrous to think that difference in opinion warrants mutual respect, especially when the opposing opinion in question not only stands for everything you are against but also appropriates suffering, defends oppression and encourages the continuance of exploitation.” — Felix Sampson

This paragraph really saddened me:

“Mark, your apathy, selfishness and taste for violence in order to experience a momentary taste sensation is truly disturbing. it shows a callous disregard for the pain, suffering and murder of helpless others boarding on sociopathy. with such insensitivity and disconnectedness being common, is it any wonder there are so many human created atrocities in our society. to condemn one form of violence and to happily support another is ironic, hypocritical and the epitome the brutal “might makes right” philosophy behind every act of cruelty and domination.”

That someone could have such an extreme distaste for the art form I have cultivated through countless hours of effort, and have literally shed blood for (knives, ouch!) saddens me greatly indeed. I’m not saying you have to accept this art in any way. Art is for the pleasure and edification of our fellow humans, and not everyone may choose to participate in the experience. But for someone to call my art form sociopathy, well, I just feel kind of sorry for where humans are going.

Now, if scientists were able to perfect cloning meat and make it every bit as desirable as real meat, I’d be all for it! It would be maximal harm reduction, and I think we’d all find it far preferable, and the planet could lighten its load a bit too. That would surely be something!

it seems that you are choosing to not separate your art form with the victims whose bodies you season, cook and serve as they are mutually exclusive. you speak of choice yet the non-human animals have zero choice in regards to their pain and death and therefore the violence which was forced upon them is not being recognized as the evil which it is. as Gandhi said, “The most violent weapon on Earth is the table fork”. there are countless, cruelty free, healthier options of which, by your previous posts, you are obviously aware of yet you defend your decision not to exclusively utilize them.

if you examine your actions with an open mind using logic and critical thinking, there are only two possibilities. either you have no concern for the pain, suffering and brutal murder of others and are therefore a sociopath, or you are choosing to be a moral schizophrenic by being against violence, abuse, oppression, rape and exploitation yet willingly supporting and contributing to them. we were all where you are at one point in our lives but after learning the truth, decided to align our actions with our values and refuse to continue to take part in the holocaust. part of the blame can be put on the cultural and societal programming we all were subjected to but knowing the truth and still happily contributing to the atrocities makes you culpable for your actions.

perhaps this passage will more clearly illuminate these idea’s for you:
“What we leave behind—our legacy—is how we affected others. And for most of us, no other choice has a greater impact on the legacy of help— or harm— we leave behind, than our daily food choices. Day after day, and year after year, our lives can be seen as the culmination of thousands of instances in which, equally assured of nourishment and health, we had the opportunity to choose kindness and mercy toward other animals, or to choose violence and death for them. For billions of people, the question of eating animals really comes down to this basic question: am I someone who, when able to freely choose, would rather harm animals, or help them? When able to choose, do I choose kindness over violence, or violence over kindness? Our answer is our legacy.”

Thanks for the reply. What I would like to focus on in my reply is the language you are using in your writing. It’s not that what you are saying is flat-out wrong, but you are using extreme language that inflates the situation beyond what it really is in reality, and really just makes you look like a swirling cauldron of emotion and anger. I respect vegans a great deal, and if more of the “hardcore” vegans would learn to simmer down and use a cool, clear head, I think your cause would be helped. You must realize that calling your opponents evil and schizophrenic and psychopathic does not support your cause. After telling one of my vegan friends that I was engaged in a debate in which I was being branded as psychopathic, she had this to say:

“That’s one thing about some people who are vegan that I dislike: they associate that if people eat meat they must have a mental illness. First off, I see nothing wrong with having a mental illness, and using it as an insult is just as bad as being racist or homophobic. Second, if they wish for you to go vegan, they’re using a very ineffective tactic. I chose to become vegan based off of what I read, saw, and heard, not because some people started hating on me. I mean who says “Wow, those people really hate me, I think I’ll be just like them!”? I may not agree with you on eating meat, but that’s a behavior. I still like you as a friend and a person. So a big *hug* from this ethical vegan!”

I find that to be a *perfect* statement of the kind of compassion that is sorely lacking in some vegan discussions like these. You chose to use the term “schizophrenic” in your comment above, which is addressed beautifully my my friend’s comment. Throughout this conversation, many on here seem to have gotten carried away with attacking me, using words like “apathetic”, “confused”, saying I “invoke Hitler”, etc. For a seasoned debater like me, I can’t get incensed anymore at comments like this, and if I did, it wouldn’t make me want to rethink meat-eating, it would just make me think vegans are a bunch of crazy folk.

I’m writing this because I truly am sympathetic to your cause. I cook vegan food ALL the time, and know tons of vegans. Seriously. I live in Austin. It’s an alt-lifestyle mecca here. I celebrate the fact that there are different lifestyle choices we can make, and even celebrate the fact that we can civilly disagree over those choices. I believe all parties stand to benefit from embracing civility in this debate.

“But it brings me and those I cook for a great deal of joy, and I suppose that makes me morally repugnant to you.”

“Saying eating animals is “yummy” as a justification for killing them is pretty much the same argument as saying rape is okay since it feels good to the rapist. Civilized people require more than sensory pleasure to justify behaviors.”

/>Ashley Capps says

That’s it precisely. Well said.

“Saying eating animals is “yummy” as a justification for killing them is pretty much the same argument as saying rape is okay since it feels good to the rapist.”

The deliciousness of meat is not my attempt to give a justification for killing animals. It’s merely one of the biggest reasons I serve meat and occasionally eat it, and not the reason it is morally acceptable to do so.

Perfectly put. It is beyond me how somebody cannot see the simplicity of this statement, make the connection and will continuously strive to argue against it. As far as the extreme language that has been mentioned in this discussion, how else is one to speak? To deliberately kill something against it’s will is surely murder? There aren’t too many other words that fit. However ‘extreme’ that language may seem it’s just a fact.

/>Ashley Capps says

It was very painful to read your opening sentence: “As a chef and a meat-eater, I am able to watch this and be at peace with humans’ consumption of animals.”

It’s hard for me to imagine a more callous response to the needless suffering of another fellow feeling creature. That anyone could watch what the cow in this video went through and write that they feel “at peace” with it feels, frankly, sociopathic. You then write:

“Yes, it is sad, but all creatures must die, and shortening the lives of some in order to create new, incredible experiences for others has its own beauty.” So basically since everyone dies, we’re morally justified to inflict needless violence and death on others if we get pleasure from it? That’s self-serving nonsense.

You’ve just written that it’s not wrong to harm and kill others for pleasure, then you write: “No, I don’t believe “might makes right”. I am not entirely certain of which moral theory I subscribe to at this time, though I don’t believe actions are justified simply because one has power over another. I am probably somewhere in between Utilitarianism and Kantian morality, with a dash of subjectivism, with Utilitarianism being a bigger favorite.”

Actually the philosophy you clearly subscribe to is called ethical egoism, the idea that self interest is the only determining factor in whether or not an action is wrong. It is based on the naturalistic fallacy (which you use to defend your position over and over again) and it manifests in the Might Makes Right worldview which you do in fact endorse here. You endorse, and practice, harming animals for pleasure. You believe that it is ethical to intentionally harm animals for mere palate pleasure. You can’t then say that it’s wrong to willfully harm animals for pleasure in some instances, but not in others. Or, rather, you can, but the cavalier and capriciously inconsistent application of the moral principle renders your position completely meaningless.

Finally, in your thought experiment about aliens, you write:

“If alien overlords descended to the earth tomorrow and enslaved the human population to be used as food, and there was nothing we could do, poor, stupid creatures in comparison that we were, I’d do my best to accept my fate and hope that my body was used for an alien’s favorite meal of his life.” I find this utterly disingenuous. No, Mark, if you were forced to walk into a slaughterhouse and knew your killers were rational creatures who had a choice about whether or not to kill you — actually even if you didn’t know that at all — I can assure you would not meekly offer yourself up in sacrifice to their cruelty you would, like the cow in the video whose life and suffering you so callously dismiss, fight till your last breath, and you would beg, sir, for the mercy you so flippantly deny to others. You would beg for it.

Thanks for the reply. I enjoy discussions like these. I like the challenge that those with differing views are able to offer.

I find it fascinating how someone could think me a sociopath. If society embarked on a trend towards thinking like zealous vegans, true sociopaths would probably rejoice at the knowledge that the label they have been stuck with is being watered down so carelessly. You write,

“So basically since everyone dies, we’re morally justified to inflict needless violence and death on others if we get pleasure from it?”

I haven’t actually attempted to put forward much of a justification for meat-eating thus far. I have only attempted to show that eating meat is ordinary, which it clearly is for us and many other animals. Certainly at this point in human development veganism is the more extra-ordinary diet. I haven’t justified meat-eating because I don’t believe anyone should have to justify their eating habits. I don’t believe you have to justify your veganism. I’ve only maintained my interest in responding because you are the ones making the much, much stronger claim that it is morally wrong to choose to eat animals, not just for yourselves, but for all humans. The quote you cited was not any attempt at a rational justification for meat-eating whatsoever, but rather was meant to provide insight into why this chef prepares and serves meat for his dinners.

“actually the philosophy you clearly subscribe to is called ethical egoism”

This is the most facepalm inducing straw man I have ever read. I come very close to despising ethical egoism. Rand is one of my least favorite moral philosophers in the world. This would be akin to me saying the philosophy you subscribe to is fundamentalist Christianity and just thinking it’s all well and good. No, I’m far more interested in Utilitarianism as a moral philosophy, it seems the most intuitively rational of the bunch. I’m attempting to maximize good for humans and minimize bodily harm to animals (though not, ultimately, death, although I try to eat meat only on special occasions) through my actions.

“You can’t then say that it’s wrong to willfully harm animals for pleasure in some instances, but not in others.”

I don’t believe death is necessarily significant harm. If I were dying a protracted death from some horrible wasting cancer, I might envy the fate of the cow in the video. I think, though, that you’ve finally forced me to state what I believe the only real justification for killing animals that exists is. I’m sure you’re gonna just hate it, and you’ve heard it so many times before, you’re gonna bash your head into that computer screen. Animals just don’t have the right to life, since they are unable to willingly give their consent to participate in a social contract. I’m sure you likely believe that their sentience alone grants them protection.

“No, Mark, if you were forced to walk into a slaughterhouse and knew your killers were rational creatures who had a choice about whether or not to kill you — actually even if you didn’t know that at all — I can assure you would not meekly offer yourself up in sacrifice to their cruelty you would, like the cow in the video whose life and suffering you so callously dismiss, fight till your last breath, and you would beg, sir, for the mercy you so flippantly deny to others. You would beg for it.”

I only said I would do my best to accept my fate, if it really was inevitable. I didn’t say I would willfully “offer myself up”. I accept right now, at this moment, that I am going to die one day. I could even be murdered. I no longer fear death after wrestling with my mortality for over a decade. In fact, I very much look forward to it, for complicated reasons. If there was nothing I could do to stop the alien overlords from slaughtering me, I’d try to calm my nerves and prepare myself for whatever may or may not come after. Death is a part of every life. And when I died, since I would already be dead, I would hope that my body could be used to provide a wonderful meal for the creature who would eat me.

Watch the video: Inside the biggest Cattle slaughter in Nigeria. AGEGE ABATTOIR (May 2022).