As a necessary component of the living world, we must extend compassion to one another and to every living thing. Our mission as human beings can truly be to elevate this world from a condition of suffering and cruelty to the planet's creatures, and towards a condition of compassion and inherent respect. Through elevating the cause of every creature, we elevate our own humanity.
We lift up the cause of humanity by reaching out and connecting with all things living. It is our sense of interconnection with all living things that brings us to respect the rights of animals; to understand that animals are not to be "lower than"; that animals should not have less of a claim to existence, less of a claim to the possibility of survival, less of a claim to dignity.
Every one of us knows a story of animal cruelty; every one of us knows how in one way or another official policies have sanctioned cruelty to animals. I am working to put compassion into action in our policies with respect to animals in this country and to have America set a higher standard, not only for this country, but for the world; to make sure that all of God's creatures, that all animals are given a chance to have dignity in our society and are given a chance to experience the appreciation they should have as living beings.
I would include advocacy of animal rights in the Department of Peace, which I have already proposed to Congress (first introduced July 11, 2001). This cabinet-level department would work with, and offer an alternative to, the Defense Department. There have been numerous studies that have suggested a link between animal cruelty and domestic violence. The Department of Peace would not only seek to resolve international conflicts with nonviolent means, but also seek to instill a peaceful paradigm into the hearts of all the people of the world, so that one day war will be an archaic relic of a time that has passed.
My farm policy favors independent and family-owned farms. I support a national ban on packer ownership of livestock, and numerous new incentives for farmers to convert to sustainable and organic farming and ranching techniques. The vision of the meat that we consume coming from happy and healthy free-range animals can become more of a reality, as opposed to the inhumane conditions that the often mutated chickens and cows and pigs are forced to sustain in our current system.
As a member of Congress, I have cosponsored every piece of major animal protection legislation. In addition, I hold the distinction of being the only vegan in Congress. I made this lifestyle change many years ago, because I consider all life on our Earth to be sacred. As a vegan, I choose not to eat any animals or animal products. I strive to live my life in accordance with my convictions, and any other choice of diet would defy my ideals and, in my judgment, be hypocritical.