Sunday, November 3, 2019

Why Laika the Space Dog is All Animals

On November 3, 1957, Laika became the first living being to orbit the Earth. She was launched on Sputnik 2 as part of the Soviet space exploration program, with the USSR locked in a heated race against the United States to conquer space.

A stray mutt from the streets of Moscow, Laika was described as being calm and quiet, complying obediently with her training. It included standing still for long periods of time, wearing space suits, being placed in simulators that replicated the high acceleration of a rocket launch and being kept in progressively smaller cages to prepare her for the confines of the space module. Oblivious to the plans set in place for her, Laika unequivocally trusted her caretakers, who ended up betraying her. The space shuttle was designed to not be retrievable.

Laika in the midst of her training.

Laika in the midst of her training.

She died within hours of the launch from extreme stress and overheating. Her heart was beating at triple its normal rate, and she was subjected to temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit as the capsule’s cooling system failed to be effective. Sputnik 2 continued to orbit the Earth for five months with her remains, disintegrating upon reentry into the atmosphere.

Laika in her capsule, in preparation for her launch.

Altogether, the USSR sent 48 dogs into space. Three years after Laika’s launch, Oleg Gazenko, a senior Soviet scientist involved in the project, adopted a dog from another space mission – Krasavka. She lived out the rest of her life with his family for 14 years. Gazenko carried the guilt of sending Laika to her death for decades. “The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog,” he stated during a Moscow press conference in 1998. “When you understand that you can’t bring back Laika, that she perishes out there, and that no one can bring her back…that is a very heavy feeling. After I returned to Moscow from the launch, I left town. I wanted to isolate myself,” he told a Russian reporter at the time.

During many years of Soviet state propaganda, Laika’s launch into space was lauded as heroic, even though she never gave consent to participate in her own demise. Monuments were built in her honor, and her likeness was used to sell everything from cigarette cartons to children’s toys.

So why does Laika’s story still matter so much? Because every year over 50 billion farm animals are sent to their untimely deaths – nearly eight times the human population. These numbers don’t include the billions used for fashion, sport and entertainment. Their suffering is as profound as Laika’s was in that space capsule. And just like Laika, they are commodities who are turned into products for human use, whose needs are disregarded and whose innate status as sentient beings is erased.

Sheep Animal Agriculture

A sheep at a stockyard being sold for slaughter. (Photo: Bear Witness Australia)

Laika’s story represents not only the continued needless exploitation of animals at the hands of humans, but our paradoxical and arrogant relationship with them. In their innocence and vulnerability, they look to us for mercy and protection. But we betray them. In so many ways, we are just like that guilt-ridden scientist; we search for loopholes in our conscience, like “humanely-raised meat.” But there is no humane way to force your will on another. There is no gain in exploiting other living beings, there is only loss — the loss of our humanity.

LAIKA Magazine is a tribute to Laika the space dog and to all animals treated unjustly. It is a message of hope that we can repair and rebuild our relationship with our fellow earthlings. In the pages of LAIKA lies proof that it is entirely possible to live a life free of harming others. This life is possible for each one of us, thanks to our sense of compassion and our ability to discern between right and wrong. Veganism is simply an actionable way of following what’s already in our hearts.

 

by Julie Gueraseva

Blossom the turkey and Minnow the dog have something in common — they were both once thought of only as “food.” Minnow was rescued from a South Korean meat farm in 2015, and Blossom was saved last year from a commercial turkey farm in West Virginia. Today they share a home with Abbie Hubbard, and are like any other family. They go on hikes together, snuggle on the sofa and greet Abbie at the door. “When I put the keys in, I hear Blossom make loud chirping sounds in excitement,” Abbie, who is the Animal Rescue Responder for Humane Society International, tells LAIKA. “She always comes running, and it makes my heart do flips of joy.”

Blossom (left) and Minnow out on a walk. Photo: Abbie Hubbard.

Abbie recalls once being asked by a reporter in South Korea what it was like to have a dog that was different from other ‘meat’ dogs. She explained that Minnow is no different, and that her heart is the same as all other dogs. “I often think about that question in regards to Blossom,” she says. “My response would be that she, too, is no different — her heart is the same as all other beings.”

While Abbie was already vegan when Blossom came to live with her and her dog Minnow, it was through Blossom that she gained a deeper understanding of turkeys — starting with the very first night she took her home. “Blossom watched as I pet Minnow and seemed to recognize that I was a source of kindness and was a safe being,” Abbie says. “Shortly after, Blossom came and settled into the crook of my arm. It’s hard to describe that moment without crying. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

Blossom with one of her favorite toys. Photo: Abbie Hubbard.

Among the many things that Blossom enjoys is hearing a good beat. Abbie says that “if she is in another room and I turn on music, she comes running!” Her very favorite food is hummus, and her second favorite is watermelon. She loves hanging out in the kitchen when Abbie is cooking. She relishes a good head scratch and will rest her head in Abbie’s hand to receive cuddles. “She allows herself to be vulnerable with me, and I always recognize those moments,” says Abbie. “It feels like such an honor, especially knowing what people do to turkeys and other farmed animals.”

“That my dog Minnow has been deemed a companion by our society and my turkey Blossom has been deemed food is completely arbitrary.”

Every year, 46 million turkeys are slaughtered for Thanksgiving, and another 200 million throughout the year. Killed at barely four months old and not protected by the Humane Slaughter Act, their lives are short and agonizing. Abbie has witnessed how easily Blossom gets frightened in the safety of her home, whether it’s by the doorbell, loud noises outside or even the soundtrack of a scary movie (This past Halloween, she got spooked when Abbie was watching Poltergeist and hid in the living room. “I turned the film off and went to comfort her,” Abbie says.) These moments offer a small glimpse into how terrifying daily life must be for turkeys on farms. In fact, it was this fear of danger that led to Blossom being rescued from that West Virginia facility. When the five-week-old turkeys were being moved to a “grow out house” to be fattened up for slaughter, she hid for days behind a piece of equipment. A farm worker who discovered her decided to mercifully surrender her to a local rescue.

Minnow and Blossom. Photo: Abbie Hubbard.

These days, Blossom and Minnow are deeply connected. Because she is 30 pounds and can’t get up the stairs (turkeys are bred to grow unnaturally large quickly), Blossom sleeps downstairs. And Minnow stays right there by her side, keeping her company through the night. “That my dog Minnow has been deemed a companion by our society and my turkey Blossom has been deemed food is completely arbitrary,” Abbie says. “Blossom has the same depth and range of feeling. She bonds with others. She plays. She doesn’t like being alone. She hurts and she loves. Blossom is completely and entirely my companion for the same reasons Minnow is my companion.”

There’s no need to uphold traditions that don’t reflect our inherent values of love, compassion and respect. We asked Tere Fox, co-founder and executive chef of the famed NYC restaurant-turned-catering-company Rockin’ Raw, to share the recipes for two of her most beloved dishes. These mouth-watering King Trumpet Vegan Scallops and Heart of Palm Vegan Crab Cakes are festive and unique, and best of all — no one was harmed in the process.

  

King Trumpet Vegan Scallops
Serves 6

5-6 king trumpet mushrooms
1 cup veggie broth
½ cup nori or dry seaweed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Sea salt
Black pepper

1. Mix the veggie broth with the seaweed and garlic in a bowl, and set aside.
2. Chop the mushroom stems into 1” thick pieces (I can usually get 4-5 pieces per mushroom.)
3. Set mushroom pieces in a deep dish or baking pan and pour the veggie broth mixture over them. Let stand for 20-30 minutes.
4. Heat a sauté pan on medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or any vegetable oil you have on hand.
5. Place mushrooms neatly into the pan and sear on both sides for 5-8 minutes total.
6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sautéed spinach or fresh greens.

If you want to make this a raw dish, soak mushrooms in 2 cups filtered water, 1 large piece of kombu, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 2 teaspoon minced garlic for 3 hours. Then serve over baby arugula or any of your favorite greens.

Heart of Palm Vegan Crab Cakes
Makes about 24 patties

1- 15 ounce can drained chickpea (keep liquid)
2-15 ounce can heart of palm
¼ cup vegan mayo
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 tablespoon
3 tablespoon chickpea liquid
1 teaspoon tamari
⅓ cup scallions minced
2 cup bread crumbs plus 2 cups breadcrumbs for breading the cake cakes
2 teaspoon spicy mustard
2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 sheet of nori or ½ cup of salted seaweed snack
1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
2 teaspoon dried or fresh parsley

For the breading and frying of the patties:
3 cups avocado oil for frying
1 cup plant based milk for breading only
1 cup flour for breading only

1. In a bowl, add the chickpeas and heart of palm. Hand mash until slightly chunky and smooth, and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the chickpea liquid until slightly foamy. Then add vegan mayo, lemon juice, tamari, mustard, and all of the herbs and spices. Mix well.
3. Combine the chickpeas and heart of palm mash with the chickpea liquid mix, along with the 2 cups of breadcrumbs, and the scallions into the mixing bowl.
4. Set mixture in the freezer to set for 20-30 minutes.
5. Create a flouring station: 1 cup any plant based milk, 1 cup flour, 2 cups bread crumbs.
6. Remove mixture from freezer, lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and start to bread. Make 3 ounce circle-shaped cakes, dip in the milk, then dip in the flour, then dip in the breadcrumbs until completely covered. Set aside.
7. Heat up frying oil in any 3″ deep pan. Test with a drop of water or piece of bread to make sure oil is ready for frying. (You will know it is ready to fry when it sizzles and bubbles with the test ingredient.)
8. Then submerge 3-4 patties at a time, and fry for 3 minutes until golden brown.
9. Let cool on unwaxed parchment paper for 2 minutes, then serve.

For garnish, or to use as dip: Blend ½ cup dill, 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, and 2 cups mayo until smooth.

If you would like to get to know a turkey in real life, volunteer at your local sanctuary. We recommend signing up to clean a turkey barn! You can also sponsor a rescued turkey. 

Actress Harley Quinn Smith LAIKA vegan magazine coverDear readers, it is with great joy that we bring you LAIKA Magazine’s 7th issue: the Haven Issue. It’s a shelter from turmoil where justice, equality and empathy are firmly upheld. The Haven issue invites you to create a world in which all are safe and valued. Gracing the cover is vegan actress and passionate animal advocate Harley Quinn Smith, who represents beautifully her generation’s optimism and determination. Inside, she shares a heartfelt open letter to Gen Z about the importance of allyship and the urgency of animal rights.

Harley Quinn Smith LAIKA Magazine vegan fashion

Through fearless journalism and unforgettable photography, the Haven Issue disrupts oppression. We underscore the connection between animal liberation and human liberation in stories like “United We Rise,” which features Aph Ko and Sunaura Taylor, among other brilliant voices from the movement. The stunning feature “She Matters” makes evident how essential asserting animals as individuals is to dismantling speciesism, and why this matters so much to feminism.

Rescued farm animals at sanctuaryIntersectional animal rights activism

Throughout the issue, we celebrate dynamic vegan women like Jenné Claiborne and Madelynn De La Rosa, who are broadening vibrant spaces of creativity and compassion. We demonstrate the beauty of standing up for the vulnerable in stories about kitten rescuer Hannah Shaw and rhino defender Damian Mander.

Sweet Potato Soul YouTuber Jenne Claiborne

The innocence of animals in the Haven Issue reminds us that on this earth, there is no need to dominate anyone. Life is at its most complete in peaceful co-existence. This is wondrously showcased in “The Last Place on Earth,” which tells the incredible story of how the First Nations communities of the Great Bear Rainforest protected their sacred land, its wildlife and our environment from a destructive pipeline.

Great Bear Rainforest

Every page of the Haven Issue is an artistic statement intended to uplift, energize and provoke discourse and action. With gorgeous imagery and resonating storytelling, LAIKA is an uncompromising source of independent media that provides you, our dear reader, with an immersive experience. Order your copy of the Seventh Issue of LAIKA or subscribe today.

On the Cover: Photography by Ryan Pfluger; creative direction by Julie Gueraseva; styling by Jessica Zanotti. “She Matters” photographed by Sammantha Fisher. “United We Rise” illustrated by Camila Rosa. “From the Soul” photographed by Paige Carter. “The Last Place on Earth” photographed by Jennifer MaHarry.

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