Sunday, February 24, 2013

Veg Youth Alliance Canada

Hi all!
I'm starting the Veg Youth Alliance Canada, intended to promote veganism and animal rights. Any youth (individually or as groups) can join. I hope you do!
 You can see the website here: www.vegyouthalliance.wordpress.com
If you want to join or would like more info, please contact me at rabbit-cat[at]vegemail[dot]com or comment on my blog or the Wordpress site.
Thank you!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Eco-Friendly Filler Post

Filler post time!
I've just been thinking about how misunderstood the term "eco-friendly" can be. People need to start realizing what is good for the Earth, and what isn't:

  • Going for a walk around the block is eco-friendly. Driving a few miles to walk at the nearesr nature trail isn't.
  • Recycling is good, but it isn't enough. Please don't say that recycling alone is enough to call yourself eco-friendly-- it doesn't even make sense.
  • Buying eco-friendly gifts for youself is hardly a planet friendly gesture if you're buying things you don't need in the first place.
  • Driving a solar car or other "sustainable" vehicle that runs off something other than human power is a ploy to get your money-- it isn't really eco-friendly. It's better than a regular car, but not as good as walking or cycling.
  • We have to cause radical change to our lifestyles if we ever hope to save the planet.
Not trying to be a pessimist, guys. Just being honest.
Have a nice week!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why Silk Isn't Vegan

The obvious answer is, of course, that silk is derived from silkworms, and worms are animals. Using them in the production of fabric at all goes against the anti-slavery ethic of animal rights. But it's also about what they need to do to the silkworms in order to produce the silk.
First, the cocoons with silkworms inside of them are brought into the factory. The cocoons might come from a farmer, or a scientific lab. The coccons are then sorted according to colour, shape, etc., since these factors influence the "quality" of the silk once it has been made.
The silkworms and their cocoons are boiled alive to extract the thin strands of silk. (To produce a metre-long cloth, 1500 worms must be killed.) The silk is further processed to make it into the "silky" finished product.
Boiling silkworms alive is definitely not animal-friendly. Gandhi advocated against this form of silk production, and PETA is anti-silk as well.
Some people talk about "Ahisma silk", or "Peace Silk". "Ahisma" comes from the work for "non-violence" in Hindi. Silkworms raised for Ahisma silk are let to stay in their cocoons until they turn into moths, at which point they fly out of  their cocoons. Once the cocoons are empty, the process of extracting the silk begins. However... Ahisma silk isn't really non-violent, according to Indian Vegan (http://www.indianvegan.com/articles/Compassionate%20Friend%20Monsoon%202009%20Vol%20XXXII%20No%202.pdf). The moths used for Ahisma silk are used to mate and kept in barbaric conditions (stuffed in freezers) and then destroyed. They come out of their cocoons deformed because of the process their cocoons have been put through. Therefore, not even "Peace Silk" is truly vegan. An excellent website on why "Ahisma Silk" is not good can be found here: http://www.wormspit.com/peacesilk.htm.

There aren't many sources available on silk as it pertains to veganism, but here are one or two sources of information that you might find useful:
http://www.vegan-nutritionista.com/vegan-clothes.html#silk
http://www.silkpaintinggallery.com/silk.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk

There are alternatives to silk, of course, that you can use instead. You can get ties, for example, made of polyester and/or cotton. There are wonderful silky materials that you can use in place of silk, such as rayon, which is 100% vegan. Other alternatives include "nylon, polyester, Tencel, milkweed seed-pod fibers, [and] silk-cotton tree filaments", according to someone on Yahoo! Answers.
Have a great valentine's day! Make sure to give your valentine some vegan chocolate! (Endangered Species brand is a good one for dark chocolate, but there are plenty of more fancy vegan chocolate brands out there, too.)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The "Extremists": the ALF and the ARM

The "extremists" of the animal rights movement would be the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Animal Rights Militia (ARM). Both of them fight for animal rights through direct action (physically freeing animals who are currently imprisoned, defacing property, etc.), but the ARM goes farther and has no problem hurting anyone in their way to get what they want, too!
First, though, let's talk about the ALF.

The Animal Liberation Front
Here is part of the credo of the ALF:
"The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property.
The ALF's short-term aim is to save as many animals as possible and directly disrupt the practice of animal abuse. Their long term aim is to end all animal suffering by forcing animal abuse companies out of business.
It is a nonviolent campaign, activists taking all precautions not to harm any animal (human or otherwise)."
Activists independently take action for their cause and then anonymously claim that their action is a part of the ALF. There is no official "membership" card or fee to be part of the ALF, nor is there a leader; it's more a collective mass of actions that add up together to form the group. The only requirement is that the action follows the guidelines of the ALF and that the people committing the action are either vegan or vegetarian. Their website can be found here: http://www.animalliberationfront.com/index.html.
Photo Courtesy of www.animalliberationfront.com
My favourite ALF-er is Rodney Coronado. He has done some questionable (I won't say "wrong", because it's a difficult subject) actions, sure, but after reading the book Operation Bite Back about some of his actions (amazing book-- you should read it), I can't help but think he's an amazing person.

The Animal Rights Militia
The ARM is probably a part of the ALF or at least related to it, created by those animal rights activists who are sick of behaving non-violently towards their opponents. The ARM has threatened animal abusers with death and claimed that they have poisoned certain foods from companies that they disagree with (only later to say that they never actually poisoned anything-- they just pretended to so that the company would be forced to recall the product, causing financial damage).
In terms of governance, the ARM operates in the same manner as the ALF-- no leaders, only individuals taking action and claiming that their action was a part of the ARM.
There isn't much information out there on the Animal Rights Militia. On Wikipedia, it is stated that it is dubious that the ARM even exists, and perhaps it was created by the Animal Liberation Front to distract the authorities from itself. Keep in mind, however, that I can see no other evidence pointing to this after extensive research on the web. Let it suffice to say that the ARM is mysterious indeed...

      Why the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Doesn't Count on This List
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a fabulous environmental organization dedicated to saving whales from illegal whalers. I think they're great, but they aren't an animal rights organization; they're an environmental organization. If you want to learn more about SSCS, please visit their website at www.seashepherd.org. I highly recommend that you do. :)

Extremists: Good or Bad?
Just because I don't want to join the ALF doesn't mean that I think they're all a bunch of lunatics. In fact, the ALF probably has done a lot of good in exposing the horrors of the animal industries. I only say that I wouldn't join them personally because 1) I have some reservations about the philosophy behind it (see below), and 2) I have other plans for my life.
As for the ARM, I don't support its position at all. I suppose it depends on whether you believe it's okay to threaten and potentially injure people so that you can save animals-- and I know for sure that my instinctive response is "no, you shouldn't kill anyone to save anyone else, unless of course you're standing right there watching them kill your best friend or your best-friend-dog or something".
But back to the ALF-- the non-violent version, that is. It's important to note that most ALF-ers do appear to be very against violence, which is a good thing. I LOVE making lists, in case you haven't noticed by now, so here's a handy-dandy list of the pros and cons of the ALF.

Pros of the Animal Liberation Front
  1. They don't fool around with naked demonstrations and things, nor do they target minority groups in their campaigns, unlike certain other animal rights organizations *cough cough*. (Unless you count vivisectors as a minority group, that is!)
  2. They want real results NOW-- not just whining and giving "you-can-do-it" go-veg speeches and the like. (I'm not critisizing public-awareness forms of activism. I participate in public-awareness activism myself, after all-- through my blog, 'zine, and other projects.)
  3. They financially damage industries that exploit animals.
  4. They get people to think about their roles in causing animal exploitation (the people exploiting the animals, and the people supporting it with their daily choices), sometimes causing people to alter their lifestyles to be more compassionate.
  5. They remind us that life is real, here and now-- there is danger and urgency, and a real world beyond legislation and normality. We mustn't be complacent just because we have it easy in the developed world.
Cons of the Animal Liberation Front
  1. When they free animals, often the animals will just be replaced with new animals bought from breeders, thus causing more animal suffering.
  2. The activists who are part of the ALF are sometimes captured and arrested. Rodney Coronado was arrested multiple times, and even during time when he wasn't in prison, he spent a lot of time on "probation period" in which (it appears that) he was not allowed to do environmentalism or animal rights activism. That would be so incredibly heartbreaking if it happened to me, not to mention the fact that it's bad for the movement because we've got one less pair of helping hands.
  3. Many people see the people in the ALF as dangerous extremists, and may come to see animal rights and veganism in a bad light if they associate it with the ALF.
  4. Although they claim to be non-violent, their actions are borderline violent-- arson, spraypainting, wrecking things; this does not contribute to a safe, democratic society. (Of course, many of the ALF-ers are anarchists, so they don't care about this last point much).
Okay, that's all for this week. Next week, I think I'll take a stab at explaining why silk isn't vegan, and what alternatives there are out there instead.