Friday, February 28, 2014

Animal Rights in Quebec-- Sign the Manifesto!

The Montreal SPCA is calling for the Quebec government to alter its civil code so that animals are no longer defined as "property". According to the website,

"Like most people, we believe that animals are not toasters. This view, however, is not shared by our Civil Code. From a legal standpoint, a dog or a cow is no different than a toaster or a chair: all are considered moveable property. Quebec law thus assimilates the act of hurting or abusing an animal to the destruction of property. ... In 2014, it has become urgent to break free from the Civil Code’s categories and to grant animals a legal status that is distinct from that of moveable property, and that takes into account their capacity to feel pleasure and pain – to grant them, in short, the status of sentient being."

You can read more about the issue of animals being legally considered as "property" here:, and you can also sign the manifesto on their website. Oh, and if you want to be inspired, just look at the long list of names of people who have already signed it-- teachers, journalists, lawyers, television hosts, scientists, and more:
You don't have to be a Quebec resident to sign the petition-- I don't live in Quebec, and I've signed it! (For those of you who live outside of Canada, Quebec is a Canadian province.) The signatories come from both Canada and other countries.
Together, we can change the world for the better for the animals. :)

File:2008-06-26 White German Shepherd Dog Posing 2.jpg
Photo found on by  Ildar Sagdejev

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Ethics of Wearing Fur, Leather, Fake-Fur, and Fake Leather

Is it okay to wear an old fur coat (or leather jacket) if nobody else wants it anymore?
What should you do if your workplace demands that you wear leather boots or some other animal-derived "clothing"?
And is it really okay to wear fake fur, when fake fur is made to look like the coats of dead animals?

These are the questions I'm going to be discussing in today's post! Here are some scenarios in which you might be forced to question your ideas about animal rights and veganism:
  1. You have an old leather jacket at the back of your closet that you bought before you became aware of animal issues. You still like to wear it, but you're worried that you'll be labelled as a hypocrite if you're seen in public with it. What do you do?
    My response: Technically, you're not killing any animals by wearing your old leather jacket. The cow whose skin the jacket is made of has already deceased. I can't see why you'd want to wear it, though-- is it truly "cool" to wear the skin of another dead creature? By wearing this jacket, you're promoting the "fashion" of leather jackets and making the sight of leather jackets a more common thing for people, making them more likely to want to buy their own. You could also be branding yourself as a hypocrite to anyone who knows that you care about animals.
    Out of disgust at the jacket and concern that other people might misunderstand or even follow my example, I would avoid wearing the leather jacket altogether. In fact, I'd probably donate it to a thrift store so that it can at least be used by someone in need. (It would seem a shame to waste it...)
  2. Your workplace requires you to wear a uniform, but that uniform is partially made from fur/leather/down/wool, etc. (such as leather boots, wool hats, or down coats)! What do you do?
    My response: Personally, I would evaluate a situation like this on a case-by-case basis. Let's say you were working as a pilot, and your employer gave you the uniform. You then noticed that the uniform included leather boots. In a situation like this, it would make little sense to quit your job simply because you don't want to wear leather boots, of course. However, you could still try to talk to your employer about why you would rather wear non-animal-derived boots, instead. There's no harm in at least trying to work things out! If you had a job that required you to wear some animal-derived clothing that you found simply unacceptable and the employer refused to budge, then you would have to evaluate your options from there. But ethical veganism isn't about avoiding every little trace of dead animals everywhere you go-- it's more about following the diet and reducing your negative impact while increasing the positive impact you have on the world.
  3. You're coat-shopping, and the only jacket in the colour you like has a fake-fur hood. Do you buy it or go shopping somewhere else?
    My response: I don't approve of fake fur. It isn't made of parts of animals, of course, but it certainly is made to look like it! Why glamorize something that's cruel?
Say No to fox fur - animal-rights Photo
Picture courtesy of
If you would like to know more about the fur industry, please go to (WARNING: graphic pictures of animal cruelty).

Let me know in the comments section what you would do in these three situations!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Hello everyone!
A while ago, I did a brief post recommending that you all check out, a vegan recipe blog by Angela Liddon. Recently, Angela has prepared a cookbook-- called The Oh She Glows Cookbook-- featuring some of her best recipes, and it'll come out on March 4, 2014!

Canadian version of the cover of the book. Image from
American version of the book cover! Image from
According to her website,
"The Oh She Glows Cookbook features a treasure trove of more than 100 mouth-watering, wholesome recipes—from revamped classics that even meat-eaters will love, to fresh and inventive dishes –all packed with flavor. From rich and hearty entrĂ©es like the Crowd Pleasing Tex Mex Casserole and 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta to decadent desserts like the Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte with Hazelnut Crust and Angela’s famous Glo Bakery Glo Bars, there is something for everyone. Featuring over 100 full-colour photographs shot by Angela herself, there is mouth-watering inspiration throughout!
This cookbook also includes many allergy-friendly recipes–with over 90 gluten-free recipes–and many recipes free of soy, nuts, sugar, and grains too!
Whether you are a vegan, “vegan-curious”, or you simply want to eat delicious food that just happens to be healthy too, this cookbook is a must-have for anyone who longs to eat well, feel great, and simply glow!" is a great website (despite the blog name, you don't have to be a "she" to love the recipes, of course).
If you'd like to pre-order or buy her book, please head on over to Or, to simply see many of her recipes for free, you can go to

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Veganism and Calcium

Dear Cat,
I am SO confused about the whole Calcium absorption "thing"!
I always thought that one got a lot of calcium from dairy products, and not so much from vegetables, fruit, beans etc.  However, I've read more recently that you do absorb calcium from veg etc., and I've even read that you don't actually absorb a lot of calcium from dairy products.  I am quite confused, and I'm wondering if you have knowledge in this area!  Do vegans have a main source of calcium?  I seem to remember that kale has calcium, but do we actually absorb much of it?  (I do love kale!)
Sincerely, but confusedly,

Dear A.M.,
Thank you for your e-mail!
According to Brenda Davis, R.D., and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D., in their book Becoming Vegan, dairy is acidifying to the body. When you ingest dairy products, your body will try to compensate for this increased acidity by drawing calcium from your bones (because calcium is alkaline) in order to protect your blood pH from changing (the pH of your blood has to stay about the same at all times). Therefore, even though dairy products do contain a lot of calcium, it is essentially useless for your body, because the dairy products themselves require a large amount of calcium just for you to digest them. The same goes for meat-- actually, meat has an even more acidifying effect than dairy does. Protein powders also have been shown to draw calcium from the bones. As a matter of fact, protein in general is supposedly acidifying-- and when you consider that most Americans and Western Europeans consume one-and-a-half to two times the daily recommended amount of protein (according to, it becomes clear why osteoporosis is a major concern in these countries.
Some vegan health experts claim that excess protein does not contribute to osteoporosis. Regardless of whose theory is correct, however, there is still compelling evidence that people who consume dairy products have higher rates of osteoporosis:
Dr. T. Colin Cambell says: "Americans consume more cow's milk and its products per person than most populations in the world. So Americans should have wonderfully strong bones, right? Unfortunately not. A recent study showed that American women aged fifty and older have one of the highest rates of hip fractures in the world. The only countries with higher rates are in Europe and in the South Pacific (Australia and New Zealand) where they consume even more milk than the United States."
Source: The China Study, 204 (quote sourced from

Rich sources of calcium for vegans include calcium-fortified soy milk and juice, calcium-set tofu, soybeans and soynuts, black beans, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens, okra, and blackstrap molasses. Note that spinach, beet greens, and Swiss Chard did not make it onto this list, since they are high in compounds called oxalates, which inhibit calcium absorption. These are still healthy foods, of course, but they can't be relied on to provide a significant source of calcium throughout the day.
According to a website called Ellen's Kitchen,  "A recent study compared the absorption of calcium from kale with the absorption from milk revealing absorption of calcium from kale was 40.9%, compared with 32.1% from milk." It appears that kale does have a good absorption level, after all.
Jack Norris, R.D., writes on his website that:
  • Studies have shown that calcium in fortified soymilk, bok choy, kale, and mustard greens is absorbed well.
  • Based on oxalate levels, the calcium in turnip greens, watercress, and broccoli should also be absorbed well.
  • Based on oxalate levels, the calcium in collards should be absorbed moderately well.
  • Studies have shown that the calcium in spinach and rhubarb is not absorbed well.
  • Based on oxalate levels, the calcium in beet greens and swiss chard should not be absorbed well. (Source:

  • Infographic derived from
    Kale is yummy! Oh She Glow's famous Green Monster Smoothie is delicious when made with kale or spinach. You can find the recipe for the Classic Green Monster here: In my opinion, however, the most delicious way to eat kale is in the form of raw vegan kale chips-- in particular, Raw Mountain's Fresh Bruschetta kale chips, which can be purchased online or bought from health food stores in Ottawa (I'm not sure how many stores stock them, although I know that Rainbow Foods on Richmond Road does).
    Books such as Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina or Becoming Raw by the same authors can provide more detailed information on how much calcium is contained in each food. In general, however, consuming either fortified non-dairy beverages OR lots of dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale) can help make sure that you're getting sufficient calcium (but it might be useful to count up how much calcium you're getting over the course of a few days, just to make sure!).
    Thanks again for your question! I'm happy to answer people's questions about veganism or animal rights. I have done a lot of research on these topics over the years, and, of course, I have personal experience with veganism, too. Any of my blog readers can simply send me an e-mail at rabbit-cat[at]vegemail[dot]com and ask away!


    Thursday, February 6, 2014

    Fish are Animals, Too!

    For some reason, some people think that you can still consider yourself a vegan if you eat fish. Considering that fish are animals, and vegans abstain from consuming all animal products, this is inherently nonsensical. But beyond that, there are other reasons why we should avoid eating fish.

    People who are otherwise vegan/vegetarian but still eat fish may do so for a number of reasons:
    1. They think that fish is a "healthy" necessity that must be eaten for good health.
    2. They went veg*n to reduce cholesterol levels, lose weight, or otherwise improve their health, and, since fish is considered by many to be a good "diet" food, they see no point in avoiding it.
    3. They care about animals, but they don't consider fish to be animals or sentient beings.
    4. They want to be vegan, but they also want to "pamper" themselves by eating a "cheat food" now and then.
    5. They've never thought about it too deeply, or they try not to think about it.
    Let's de-bunk each of these myths in turn! (Sources are listed at the bottom of this blog post.)
    1. Do we need to eat fish to be healthy?
      When fish is touted as a health food, this is often because of its omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to consume for good health; however, you don't need to eat fish to get omega-3s through your diet. Some extremely good vegan sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. It can also be found in soy, mustard seeds, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, grains, and spirulina. If you are still concerned about getting enough omega-3s, you can also take a vegan DHA/EPA supplement, derived from algae.
    2. Is there anything wrong with eating fish, from a health standpoint?
      According to Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., "All fish contain small amounts of methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury, and fish consumption represents the main source." In his video "Fish Consumption Associated With Brain Shrinkage", he goes on to discuss the frightening effect that relatively low levels of mercury in the body can have on brain development. Here's the video below:
    3. Are fish sentient?
      Why wouldn't they be? I think people are able to dissociate their emotions from fish because fish are so different from us, whereas sheep, pigs, and chickens are more relatable. Still, that doesn't mean that fish aren't sentient beings. Researchers on fish behaviour have shown that fish do display complex personalities and social structure, are intelligent, and are capable of feeling pain.
    4. Is it okay to "cheat" on a vegetarian or vegan diet now and again?
      There's no "vegan police" that is going to come and arrest you for eating fish. However, please remember that "cheating" by eating sentient beings causes more animal suffering and death, and it is also simply morally inconsistent. Not only that, but by allowing yourself to eat one animal product, you're more likely to backslide and cave into your cravings for more.
    5. Should we think about these issues even if it causes us discomfort to face them?
      Yes! Our world (including the animals and humans of the world) is in crisis. If we all hide our heads in the sand and do nothing, we will pay for the consequences (such as environmental degradation, poverty, and cruelty) later. It takes courage to face the truth, but it is crucial that we change our behaviours to help animals, humans, and the environment, even if that means stepping outside our comfort zone.
    If you haven't gone vegan yet, please begin to make the transition to a vegan lifestyle as soon as possible. You can learn more about going vegan at and
    Have a nice week!

    Omega-3 fatty acids:
    "Fish Intake Associated with Brain Shrinkage":
    "Fish Feel Pain":
    "Do Fish Have Personalities?":
    Fish Intelligence: