Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oppose Blood Sports-- Part Two: Fishing

I find it incredible how people can eat fish without even knowing what a real one looks like-- mind you, that is probably why they are okay with eating fish in the first place!

Catching fish for "sport", on the other hand, is more a matter of desensitization. In other words, many people start fishing at a young enough age to never even question hurting the fish, or it's just that their parents tell them it is okay. Children will do a lot to get a role model to look up to, so they may even change their beleifs in order to accomodate for their parents' ones.
Leaping Salmon:

Fish are really intelligent creatures, too-- just ask Culum Brown, a biologist who studies fish: "Fish are more intelligent than they appear. In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of 'higher' vertebrates, including nonhuman primates." Fish in research centres have also known at which times of day pressing a lever can provide food. In the wild (which clearly is where fish should be!), they even keep gardens by weeding out types of algae that they don't want to promote the growth of their favourite foods.

Please don't even get me started on catch-and-release fishing-- what a cruel way to kill a fish. The fish who you throw back will end up being weakened by having their scales rubbed the wrong way, will struggle to eat after having their mouth being cut, and will have gone through the trauma of being half-drowned in the air. Their blood (from where their mouth was cut) will also attract predators. Their chances of survival will have been severely reduced.

Besides not fishing yourself, there are some other ways to stand up for fish rights:
1) Oppose fishing whenever you can. If one of your friends or somebody in your family is going fishing, tell them why you don't fish.
2) Display anti-fishing bumper stickers on your or your parents' car, patches on bags, and stickers on laptops. You can order some of these things from the PETA store, along with other anti-fishing organization stores.
3) Make your signature at the bottom of e-mails an animal rights one. (e.g. ***Fish are people too*** /Oppose fishing!) You can also do this at the end of your voicemail message. (e.g. "Hello, you have reached the voicemail of [blahblahblah]... By the way, did you know that catch-and-release fishing is just as bad as killing the fish? The fish will be so weakened that they will die after bleeding for hours. Order some "fishing hurts" stickers from PETA today! Leave a message after the beep!")
4) Litter that fishermen leave over from their so-called "sport" (nets, hooks, fishing line) can kill wildlife in the surrounding areas. Organize a litter cleanup in such areas, while bringing awareness to the plight of the fish!
5) Set up anti-fishing displays at school, libraries, and community centres.
6) For the public speakers of you, give presentations to groups of people on why they shouldn't fish. If you have a class presentation that you have to give, make it an anti-fishing one!
7) At a local fishing pond or lake, put up signs saying "No Fishing" or "Please clean up your fishing lines before you go."
8) Any other great ideas? Let me know!
(Dead) Tuna:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oppose Blood Sports-- Part One: Hunting

"Blood sports" is a term used to describe a "sport" that requires violence against animals, like hunting, fishing, trapping, rodeos, etc. These always amount to either the death or injury of an animal.
Today, I'm going to talk about hunting. Hunters constantly seem to be defending their demented pastime with excuses. Here are a few of them, with my responses:

1. "We need to keep the wildlife populations in check".
Truth: Can Mother Nature not take care of herself? Some hunters have even been reported to feed the animals so that their populations rise, then go out for a kill. The wildlife population theory is just an excuse to put our skeptical minds (and their guilty ones) at rest. (Sorry hunters, but you haven't fooled me.)

2. "It helps the economy."
Truth: Sure, it increases the amount of money people spend in the country. But is that a good thing, considering that humanity is overconsuming so many resources that the Earth cannot replenish itself?

3. "It's better than animal farming-- hunted animals only suffer at the end of their lives!"
Truth: Although hunting is probably less harmful to individual animals than factory farming is, it's important to remember that animals have intelligence beyond what we give them credit for. They have families and herds and babies who accept, rely on, and love them. When you (or someone else, because I doubt that hunters are reading this) kill the first wild animal you see, you are bringing untold damage into the lives of many others. Also, I can't even begin to imagine the fear that it causes all the animals of the forest when they hear the first gunshot of hunting season.

dad and george with dall rams

4. "It connects us to nature."
Truth: There are many other ways to connect to nature than killing the animals in it. Many hunters have major problems in their lives, so they go and take it out on the animals, but this is wrong. How about going on a nature walk, birdwatching, feeding the chickadees in the woods, having a picnic, skiing, cycling, and, um, well, going outside???
5. "It teaches our children about wildlife."
Truth: Children are being desensitized to the suffering of others to a high degree nowadays. People can take their kids to do any of the activities that I have mentioned in #4. As I progressed through school, I noticed my classmates becoming less and less caring... Do you really want to support that? Parents are supposed to teach their children to do good in the world and support themselves, not teach them how to kill!

"What can I do to stop this?" you must be thinking (at least, I hope you're thinking!). Well, here are some things you can do:
  1. Don't go hunting yourself. Please have compassion!
  2. Encourage others-- family and friends-- not to hunt. If they tell you that they want to start hunting, show them with evidence why it's a bad idea. If they are already hunters, show your concern for them by trying to get them to stop. It's bad for them to have an obsession (or even just a "hobby") with killing.
  3. Display anti-hunting  logos for all to see, on your car bumper, laptop, and handbag.
  4. Purchase a hunting license-- don't use it, of course-- just to take the opportunity away from other bloodthirsty folk who want one. You should also read more about the regulations in your area, first, though-- make sure that demand will not be met with more supply, otherwise you'll only be adding to the problem.
  5. If you're very brave, go out for a picnic during hunting season in a part of the forest where hunting is allowed. Be loud. Play music. Do whatever you can to scare the animals away into no-hunting zones.
  6. Link to my blog on your website, or send this post to friends. Really!
Okay, that's all for this week. Remember to come back next week!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spiffy Vegan Recipes

Well, of course, I've already covered veganism in an earlier post. But I figured it is so important that I'd give you some spiffy vegan recipes for you to experiment with.
Beet Burgers are a compassionate alternative to cow burgers:
Raw Carob Avocado Mousse Pudding may sound a little odd, but it looks delicious:
And, of course, pumpkin pie has also gone vegan:
Those are just a few ideas, all coming from the Gone Raw website. I hope you can try some of them out!
For those of you who haven't decided to go vegan yet, well, here is what I have to say: please don't continue to support the industry that kills animals and turns them into little pieces of nothing. We all can go vegan, and it isn't that difficult.

I also want to give you an update on pet stores. I went to the pet store this morning to find the pet store staff doing their regular clean-up. I went around my store, finding new animals in cages, but still some of the old ones were there too. Weeks have turned into months for the animals at the pet stores, it seems, so please do NOT go out and support such a cruel industry! Just as I was leaving, I saw a woman pulling a tray out from the bottom of a bird cage. She roughly shook it to get the birds to fly up to their perches, but the birds wouldn't move fast enough, so she started to pull it out, forcing them to get out of the way. The weird thing was that she looked like a generally nice person, only she was so thoughtlessly being cruel to the birds. It just goes to show how backwards our society has become!

Well, that's all I wanted to say this week! Next week I'll be chatting about actively fighting for animal rights!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Animal Rights-- a Traditional Value

Huh? Just wait a minute. You're probably wondering how on EARTH animal rights is an age-old European tradition, right? It seems like a totally new, radical idea that has just recently appeared in our culture, doesn't it?
Well, there was a time-- during the medieval period and American colonization-- when the idea of animals not having rights was even more absurd, according to Jeffrey St.Clair in the introduction of Fear of the Animal Planet, a book by Jason Hribal. Animals were frequently given trials for breaking the law, yet if anyone violated that animal's rights, they would also end up in court. Convicted animals would end up executed in the exact same way humans were-- and often buried beside human criminals.
For example, in 1575, the weevils who lived in Savoy, France were sent to court (represented by a lawyer) for destroying a famous vineyard. Their lawyer, Pierre Rembaud, cited the Christian Bible to defend the weevils. He said that God had promised the all animals any plants that they needed to eat, so it was the weevils' preordained right to eat the grape leaves. He even swayed the local citizens to set up a weevil reserve!
In another case, a donkey had been attacked by a farmer in 1750. The court needed to decide whether the donkey had provoked the attack or was innocent. So, some top citizens wrote to the court. An abbot described the donkey as "in word and deed and in all her habits of life a most honorable creature." In the end, the donkey was declared innocent and was allowed to go back to her field.
Notice how the abbot describes the young donkey in the same way one might speak of a human being, and using the term "her habits", instead of "its habits". The donkey is considered capable of rational judgement, morality, and the freedom of choice. Compare that to nowadays, and how a donkey is often described as a commodity without innate value.
What happened?
How did animals become seen as human goods, then?
Well, according to the book that I cited earlier, around 1600, the view began to change. If an animal was inconvenient, "it" would have to go, and there were no more trials that gave animals rights. Take Rene Descartes, for example, who was a scientist, philosopher, and vivisector. He was known to nail dogs to a board to cut open-- while alive-- on the basis that animals were simply atomatons, and that their screams were comparable to the "noise of breaking machinery". Other celebrities of the time were starting to view animals in this way, too. Those who still lived close-up-and-personal to animals challenged this "modern" way of thinking, but gradually it spread like the plague through nearly every city, town, and village in the modern world.
Although this is a truly sad tale, there are still ways that we can reverse this dangerously cruel direction that we have been heading. Luckily, some of the work is already cut out for us, as environmentalists, animal rescuers, and animal rights activists are starting to work towards a compassionate world. But they can't do it unless we all pitch in. Here are some things to do to help:
  1. Don't buy any product that has come from the animal industry. This includes food, clothing, souvenirs, and cleaning solutions that are made out of an animal product, among other things. Although some products are considered "humane", remember that humane in the 21st century is a great deal different than truly humane.
  2. Remember to treat animals as individuals, not just cute things. They're different from us in many ways, but not as many as you might think. Follow the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
  3. Speak of animals in the same way. Although it won't directly affect your neighbour's cat if you describe him as "cute and pathetic" while talking to your friends, it will create a worse case of human superiority-complex in society. So be careful!
  4. Educate others on how the current typical view of animals is not natural nor compassionate. If you don't want to take the time to explain, send them to my blog, okay?
  5. Don't support the cruel practices of the pet trade, animal performances, and rides on either wagons drawn by animals or on their backs.
By always being mindful of animal rights, we can really make a difference in the world.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Boycott Animal Testing-- Part Two: Biomedical Reseach

Biomedical research is, in a nutshell, the use of animals in medical research. However, it is not as simple as a few words on a computer screen; it is a very cruel and unscientific process that totally defies the animals' rights.
I am going to write this post in the form of a Q&A:

Q: How are laboratory animals treated?
A: Very poorly! They are considered to be scientific models, not living animals. Dr. Jane Goodall said of chimps, "hundreds have been condemned to life imprisonment (up to sixty years) in five-foot by five-foot laboratory cages". I have heard many stories from countless sources of animals being tortured and even senselessly abused by animal experimenters.
In The Plague Dogs, a novel by Richard Adams, Snitter and Rowf (the main characters, who are dogs) are subjected to cruel, unscientific experiments, such as brain surgery to see how delusional Snitter can get, and holding Rowf down in a tank of water to see how long it takes for him to drown (they also see if they can revive him later). Although The Plague Dogs is a work of fiction, Adams does mention in the Author's Note that every experiment mentioned in the book is real and has been performed. Many of the dogs in the story were also subjected to poisoning, over-exercising, and countless other experiments. I recommend reading the book-- from what I've told you it sounds pretty depressing, but soon the dogs escape the laboratory and go on an adventure together. It is not a kids book, either. It has some very difficult language that will leave you reaching for the dictionary every so often.
Besides, I think being shut up in a cage for your whole life is bad enough!

Q: Isn't using animals in experimentation the only way to find out which drugs are okay for humans?
A: No, and it is actually is very ineffective. Every species (humans included) has a different cellular and molecular make-up, and it is on this level that diseases occur. What might be okay for rats can be absolutely toxic for humans. For example, an asthma medication called Isuprel (even the NAME sounds toxic!) killed 3500 people in Great Britain. It had been tested on animals, but it had not caused the same effects on humans as it had on other animals. And, according to Sacred Cows and Golden Geese, a book on the scientific fraud of animal experimentation, 15% of people admitted to hospitals are there because they have had problems with their medication.

Q: So, what are the alternatives?
A: Here is a list of the alternatives:
  1. using human volunteers
  2. using cells in test tubes
  3. autopsies
  4. surveys of people with the disease
  5. genetic research
  6. diagnostic imaging
  7. post-marketing drug surveillance (PMDS)
  8. computers
Q: Why are animals used, then?
A: For a few reasons. According to a pamphlet I got a few years ago (Animals In Research by University of Ottawa), "biomedical research involving animals remains essential to the better understanding of biology and physiology of higher organisms in medicine's continuing quest to advance the treatment and prevention of disease." So they are calling humans "higher organisms". But I wonder what defines one organism as "higher" than another? Surely humanity just views itself as the best because it does not understand other creatures. At the time I got the pamphlet I was at a Philosophy and Animal Rights mini-enrichment course. A guest speaker came in to tell us about why animal testing was good. She said not only that humans were "higher organisms" but also that within the animal kingdom there were higher and lower species as well. This was solely based on the size of the animal. She said that first they test on mice, then rabbits, then dogs, and then humans. To be honest with you, I find this philosophy more than a little sickening. Is the size classification merely because the bodies are easier to dispose of if they are smaller? If we followed this rule, would we test the drugs on children first, adults last?
Other reasons include: false beliefs about animals being good models and experiencing no emotion, as well as people wanting to protect their career. If I was told I could earn a billion dollars per hour by being a vivisector, I wouldn't do it. Even though I could help a lot of animals with a billion dollars, it would be too against my moral values to cause one animal suffering even for a short while. Of course, many people have such a desperation to hold on to their career that they will fight for anything to keep it. Some people consider this a worthy cause, but why would we kill untold numbers of animals for the sake of letting a few people keep their jobs?

Q: So, what can we do about it?
A: 1) Boycott drugs that were tested on animals, especially those that you don't really need, like hand-lotion and birth-control. Try to use natural remedies, instead. Medical hand-lotion, for example, can be replaced with a non-animal-testing brand. Painkillers can be replaced with a natural painkiller, like white willow bark  or turmeric. See for information on why conventional painkillers are unsafe, and for ideas on what to use instead.
2) Raise awareness! Post your own anti-animal testing article on your blog, webpage, or social networking site. Tell people about it. Post links to my blog wherever the topic does (or doesn't) appear!
3) Sign a petition against animal testing. Here are a few ones you could start with:

Thank you for your support!