Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Think of the Animals on Remembrance Day

In November 2013, I wrote a blog post called "Remembering the Animal Victims of War on Remembrance Day", in which I discussed some of the ways that animals have been used in warfare and are still used for modern-day military purposes. I also mentioned Animal Aid's purple poppy campaign, in which people could buy a purple poppy to wear alongside their red poppy on Remembrance Day.
With Remembrance Day 2015 coming up, I'd like to re-visit the issue of war's animal victims. To start with, you can read my 2013 post here: http://theanimalrightsactionsite.blogspot.ca/2013/11/remembering-animal-victims-of-war-on.html.
One part of that post, however, is no longer current-- namely, Animal Aid's purple poppy campaign. Animal Aid is now replacing the purple poppies with purple paw badges instead. Here the reasoning behind the switch, as stated on Animal Aid's website:

"Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler, explains a change of emphasis for our animal victims of war initiative.
When we at Animal Aid launched our purple poppy initiative – to commemorate the animal victims of war – no other organisation seemed to be addressing the issue. Our aim was to make it clear that animals used in warfare are indeed victims, not heroes. They do not give their lives; their lives are taken from them.
But too often the narrative promoted by the media has been one of animals as the valiant servants of people in violent conflict. This is precisely the opposite message to that which we intended. An equivalent situation would be if animal victims of laboratory research were to be presented as brave heroes in the service of human beings – with Animal Aid’s name attached to that idea. Having said that, many of our poppy sellers have worked extraordinarily hard and with great passion on this campaign. Certainly, our message, via their work, has to a degree got through. But the dominant narrative (animal victims of war are heroes who died for us) is so deeply embedded that only a huge effort (costly in every way) can uproot it and lay down something that will benefit the animals. We considered the massive-effort option but decided that Animal Aid’s finite resources are best used on other urgent, more productive campaigns.
We are, therefore, replacing the purple poppy with a purple paw badge that will commemorate all animal victims of human exploitation. It can be worn all year round – at special events or day to day. Rest assured that we will continue to promote our victims-not-heroes message every year in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday (but without the purple poppy), and we will continue to produce our Animals: the hidden victims of war booklet and other resources."

Although I really liked the idea of people wearing purple poppies on Remembrance Day (because it gives people a way to pay respect to animals on that solemn day in particular), I can understand why Animal Aid decided to switch. It's unacceptable to be giving people the message that animals volunteered to give their lives to help humans fight wars, and if that's the message that some people have been thinking after seeing the purple poppies, then maybe it does make sense for Animal Aid to switch to something else. Besides, the purple paw badge can be worn on any occasion-- it's not just for Remembrance Day-- and it is meant to commemorate not solely the animal victims of war, but all animals who are exploited by humans. However, the fact that it can be worn year-round is both a benefit and a problem; since it isn't specific to Remembrance Day, people might be less likely to talk about it, because it isn't for a special occasion. But the badge still does raise awareness about the exploitation of animals, and that's very important, so it's definitely worth buying a badge for yourself!
If you do order a purple paw badge, I commend you for making the effort to raise awareness for the animals. Just make sure to explain to people what the significance of the purple paw badge is-- that it is meant to commemorate the animal victims (not voluntary heroes!) of war.
You can check out Animal Aid's booklet, "Animals: the hidden victims of war", at http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/booklets/war.pdf. Perhaps consider printing it off your computer and handing out copies/leaving them out at school or work for people to take!

Summary of some things you can do to help:
  1. Order a Purple Paw Badge from Animal Aid and wear it! (You can see all available accessories at http://www.animalaidshop.org.uk/accessories.)
  2. Print out "Animals: the hidden victims of war" and distribute it!
  3. Write letters to the editor about the use of animals in warfare.
  4. Call in to radio talk shows on or around Remembrance Day to educate people on the animal victims of war.
  5. Do research on whether your country uses animals in the military. If it does, write to the people who are in charge of defence in your country to express your disgust with these practices.
  6. Tell people in your life about how animals were/are used in war.
  7. Post on social media to raise awareness for the Purple Paw Badge campaign!
This Remembrance Day, why not take some time to educate other people about the animal victims of war, and of other forms of human-caused exploitation?

Until next time!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Environmental and Animal rights Issues go Hand-in-Hand: Part 1

Wow, it's been a long time since I last posted anything on this blog. However, I still am an animal rights activist, as I have been doing some offline activism over the past few months. Now I'm starting to think that perhaps it's time to get back to blogging... Hmm... Well, I'll finish writing this post first, and then decide. :)

(Just a side note: Guess how many pageviews my blog has gotten over "all time" by now? 35869! I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to help raise awareness in this way.) Now, onto today's topic...

Environmentalism and animal rights go hand-in-hand. If you are an environmentalist, you should be concerned about issues related to animals, and if you're an animal rights activist, it's important that you also care about the environment. Let me elaborate on both of these points, okay?

In part 1 of this two-part series, I'm going to talk about why environmentalists should care about animals, and why they should lead a vegan lifestyle.

  • Wild animals: Wild animals are essential contributors to ecosystems all over the globe. If one wild species goes extinct, this could have a huge, cascading effect on the entire ecosystem. In order to preserve balance in Nature, animal species and populations must be protected from human exploitation.
  • Domesticated animals: The farming of animals is very inefficient, using up a lot of energy, land, and resources. Here are some shocking facts:
    • More than one third of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the United States are used in animal farming.1
    • It takes more than 10 times the amount of fossil fuels to produce one calorie of animal protein than it does to produce one calorie of plant protein. What's more, "The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth". 1
    • 30% of Earth's land mass is now used to produce animal-derived "foods" (this includes the land that is used to grow feed for the animals, and grazing land).1 According to another source, 45% of Earth's total land is used for livestock.2
    • The amount of water it takes to produce a day's worth of food for a meat-eater is over 4000 gallons; for a lacto-ovo vegetarian, it takes 1200 gallons; and for a vegan, it takes only 300 gallons. 1
    • According to Vegan Outreach, "Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring – 70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder."3
    • Livestock farming accounts for 27% of the U.S.'s total methane emissions.4

These are merely a few of the facts. I found one website called "Truth or Drought" that provides an in-depth look at why plant-based diets are essential to fight water scarcity. Please check out the website at http://www.truthordrought.com/-- it looks very interesting!

And, according to a 2010 United Nations report, "Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production", only "a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products" would be able to significantly reduce impacts of agriculture worldwide. You can read the document itself, or you can see it reported in the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet.

Here's an infographic from Cowspiracy that provides even more information:

To those environmentalists who think, "Oh well, I'll just eat less meat in order to reduce my environmental impact, but not go vegan", please remember that animal agriculture is not only environmentally damaging, but it is also cruel beyond what most people can imagine, as well as inherently unethical because the animals' rights are being violated through exploitation. The only ethical solution is to go completely vegan. Veganism is easier than most people realize! There are lots of good sources of information on how to go vegan. You can download a free vegan started kit PDF from Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine at http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk (the "Download" link is on the right-hand side of the page). Some other sources would include http://vegankit.com/be, http://veganoutreach.org/, or chooseveg.ca.

As you can see, becoming vegan is an important part of being an environmentalist. In part 2 of this series, I'm going to discuss why people who care about animal rights should also be concerned about the environment!

Sources of facts:
1. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/facts-on-animal-farming-and-the-environment/
2. http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/
3. http://www.veganoutreach.org/whyvegan/environment.html
4. http://extension.psu.edu/animals/dairy/nutrition/nutrition-and-feeding/diet-formulation-and-evaluation/carbon-methane-emissions-and-the-dairy-cow

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Four Things You Can Do To Help Protect Pollinators!

Hey there,
The Ontario Nature Youth Council has published a short video (2 minutes and 29 seconds) on Youtube outlining four things that you can do for pollinators in your community. Whether or not you live in Ontario, these strategies can help you to help pollinators!
Enjoy the video!
You can watch it on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgZ-DLesdAU
Or, you can watch it below:

The Ontario Nature Youth Council has produced two videos recently on pollinators and our pollinator campaign. You can see the other video, about neonicotinoids and the ONYC's pollinator campaign, on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeIEwFPWwQk.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Come on out for Ottawa VegFest 2015!

Hi everyone!
Ottawa VegFest 2015 will be held from 10am to 4pm on June 6th-7th at the RA Centre this year!
For those of you who don't know, Ottawa VegFest is an almost-annual event in Ottawa that celebrates the vegan lifestyle. It is a great event to attend to sample tasty food, converse with the exhibitors, get some free activism material, attend presentations as part of the speaker series, or simply meet like-minded people. Whether you are a vegan or a non-vegan, this event is fun and exciting, useful and informative.
If you live in Ottawa or surrounding areas, I hope you can make it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Living the Farm Sanctuary Life"

Hi there,
On April 7, Living the Farm Sanctuary Life, a book written by Gene Bauer (the president of Farm Sanctuary) and Gene Stone (the author of Forks Over Knives), will be released. Living the Farm Sanctuary Life is a book about living an animal-friendly and vegan lifestyle.

According to their website (http://www.farmsanctuary.org/living/), "The book covers the basic tenets of Farm Sanctuary life –
such as connecting with nature wherever you are, reducing stress, and working to help the environment – and offers simple ways to incorporate these principles into your life." (By the way, it also includes vegan recipes, as well as stories about animals who have been rescued by Farm Sanctuary!)
I'm not trying to sell the book or anything, but if you want to buy it, you can pre-order it online (which would also enter you into a raffle, by the way). If you'd like to read it but would rather not buy it, it may be available at your local library. (For example, it is on order at the Ottawa Public Library.)

For those of you who didn't know, Farm Sanctuary is an organization in the United States that rescues farm animals, educates the public on the cruelty of factory farming, and advocates for a vegan lifestyle. They have three sanctuaries, one in New York and two in California, and they allow guests to come and visit, too. Someday I would love to visit one of their sanctuaries!

Just thought I'd let you know about the book, in case you want to check it out. :)

Let's remember to continue to speak out for the animals! They can't advocate for themselves, and many animals are in desperate conditions. Slowly, more and more people are becoming vegan, but we need to continue (or, for some people, start) to raise awareness about the issues in order to help as many animals as possible, as quickly as possible.

Have a great day!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Deb Gleason's Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus

Have you have ever found yourself feeling frustrated that it's so hard to make a hummus from scratch that actually tastes as good than the store-bought ones? (I know I have felt this way.)
Deb Gleason, a former Homicide Detective who is now a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and a vegan (she went vegan after seeing a film about egg-laying hens on factory farms), may just have found the answer by adding roasted sweet potatoes! :)
I got an e-mail a while ago from her (I'm on her e-mailing list). In the e-mail, she wrote that she had always preferred store-bought hummus over homemade hummus, until she realized that she could use roasted sweet potatoes in the recipe. Now, she makes her hummus at home, and she and others find it even tastier than store-bought hummus!
In fact, my local health food store has even printed out copies of the recipe and set them out for people to take home with them. I haven't tried the recipe yet, but it looks like it's definitely worth trying!
Here is the link to the recipe on her website:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Animal-Rights-Friendly Presents to Give and Recieve

Every time Christmas and my birthday approach, I make a wishlist of what presents I'd like to get, since my family asks for ideas of what to get for me. I love the idea of giving and receiving gifts that do good in the world, so I'm planning to ask for some animal-rights-related things on my own next wishlist. If you are making a wishlist for your birthday, Christmas, or another holiday, why not consider asking for a gift that helps the animals, or at least something related to animal rights?
On the other side of things, if you don't know what to get someone else for their birthday or a holiday, you could also consider giving them a gift that "keeps on giving" instead of giving them something that they may never use. (Of course, if you're the one giving the gift and you know the recipient is really never going to use a vegan cookbook or activist material, you might not want to give it to them. That being said, many non-vegans can still use, learn from, and enjoy a vegan cookbook, so whether or not each gift is suitable for a person really depends on the situation and the person.)
Here are some ideas of gifts that you could give or ask for:
  • A donation to a charity, such as the Vegan Society.
  • A membership to an animal rights or vegan organization, such as your local vegetarian/vegan association, The Vegan Society, or Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. (Bonus: you may get some cool free stuff when you become a member of some of these organizations.)
  • A subscription to a vegan magazine, like VegNews magazine, or one of the other vegan magazines.
  • Leaflets, buttons, posters, booklets, pamphlets, brochures, stickers, and other activist material!
  • Clothes, lunchbags, mugs, stationery, and bags that have animal rights slogans on them.
  • Books/movies to educate yourself or others more in-depth about veganism and animal rights issues.
  • A vegan cookbook!
  • Other things that will help you with your animal rights activism!
If you have any other ideas, feel free to post them below!


P.S. Have you heard about the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in April/May? I may write more about that another time, but either way, here is the link to the website: http://www.veganbakesale.org/veganbakesale/index.html.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Clearing Some of the Confusion Surrounding Vegan Diets!

A lot of people nowadays seem to be afraid of carbohydrates. Once, when I was taking a "Philosophy and Animal Rights" weeklong mini-course, a fellow student told me that she wouldn't go vegan because "Carbs make you fat."
Other people are less focused on carbs and more focused on "getting enough protein"... They say, "Oh, if you're a vegan, you have to be extra, extra careful to get enough protein!" and "You have to combine your proteins!"
I think that these people are really just mis-educated on nutrition. Here are some facts:
  • In reality, carbohydrates from unprocessed, whole-food sources are very healthy! Whole grains, beans, fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables all contain a combination of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. According to Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D., and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.,
       "Populations consuming animal-centered diets, rich in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates, have high rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases. By contrast, those consuming plant-based diets, rich in carbohydrates, have significantly lower rates of disease." (page 77)
    Of course, whether or not you're a vegan, junk foods such as chips and pop aren't good for you, so it's important to opt for plant-based whole foods such as veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc. instead!
  • Most people eating a standard North American diet get about twice as much protein as they need per day! Consuming excess protein, especially from animal sources, can actually lead to health problems.
  • As a vegan, it is quite easy to meet and even exceed your daily protein requirements. It is recommended that people get about 10 to 15% of their calories from protein, according to No Meat Athlete. Studies of vegans in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia over the past 60 years or so have found that vegans get around 11.3-12.2% of their calories from protein. (Source: Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D., and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.) If you're still worried about getting enough protein, you can consider using a plant-based protein powder, although this shouldn't be necessary for most people.
  • As for the protein-combining theory, it's actually not true. As long as you eat a variety of foods throughout the day, you'll be getting a good combination of amino acids-- you don't have to worry about combining your proteins to form a "complete protein" at every meal. (Source: Becoming Vegan)
You can read more about protein in the vegan diet in the book Becoming Vegan or on websites such as VeganHealth.org and Vegetarian Resource Group.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine points out some of the risks of low-carb diets on their website here:
And, if you're interested in reading "Five Protein Myths" on PCRM's website, you can read this here: http://www.pcrm.org/health/reports/five-protein-myths

If you haven't gone vegan yet, please do so today! Veganism is a compassionate, non-violent choice. It promotes non-violence towards animals, the environment, and your health. You can find information on going vegan at https://www.vegansociety.com/try-vegan/how-go-vegan. You can also read Mercy for Animals' trendy and colourful Vegetarian Starter Guide (if you live in the US, you can order one at http://www.mercyforanimals.org/vegan-starter-kit.aspx, or, if you live outside the US, you can see the PDF online for free at http://www.mercyforanimals.org/VSG.pdf).
And, if you're already a vegan, I hope you can use this information to help others become vegan, too!
Have a nice day, and thanks for reading!
Picture from http://veganfoodpyramid.com/