I don’t normally agree with PETA‘s tactics. Sex with vegetables, nude women against fur, etc. They’ve really outdone themselves recently with this ad which manages to make light of domestic abuse and (I think?) drug addiction in the name of promoting veganism.
But I think they’ve nailed it in one particular instance. Commissioning splatter-gore purveyors, Troma Films, they’ve made the clip below, highlighting the horrors of factory farming.
WARNING: It’s pretty gruesome but that’s the reality for billions of intensively-farmed animals around the world every day. What do you think?
Max is a member of SoLVe and a law student at the University of Auckland. He is heavily involved in debating, and is one of the Auckland University Law Review editors in chief for 2010.
Vegetarians and vegans are often also politically outspoken, socially active, and environmentally conscious. Of course, not all vegetarians and vegans are like this, and not all of those committed to social justice choose not to eat meat or animal products. But there is surely a connection between the two strands of thought: the cliché that vegetarians and vegans are ‘leftie greenies’ has a kernel of truth. It is worth asking why this is, and exploring how the connection influences our beliefs and behaviour. Understanding the relationship between vegetarian/vegan lifestyles and social justice impulses helps to shed light on both camps of thinking, and may also encourage further crossover and cross-fertilisation between these camps.
Ah, holiday time is here, and for most of us, that means a time to feast. I’ve been feasting even a bit more than usual, as this year’s holiday has also matched up with my 40th birthday – which means it’s been celebrations a-plenty. At these times – in fact, at all times – good food is essential. Thankfully, over the past few years, making good vegan food has gotten easier than ever, primarily because of one woman: Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Who is this person? Well, let’s look at what I’ve been feasting on lately, and it will come into focus. For my birthday, it was delectable chocolate mocha and also rum and raisin(!) cupcakes. Both earned rave reviews, but the kudos belonged to Moskowitz, whose amazing book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World was the inspiration. Of course man cannot live by cupcake alone, so we also had Lemondrop and Chocolate Mint Icebox (with real pieces of mint tucked in) cookies. Again, these were off-the-chart delicious, and everyone – vegan and non-vegan alike – dug in. These beauties came from Moskowitz’ latest book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
A couple I weeks ago, I mentioned that the Vegan Society of Aotearoa (for our foreign readers, Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand), had been revived, and that the group was planning some ambitious projects for 2010. It is a much needed organization that focuses on veganism, as opposed to the more common and diluted vegetarianism. One of the reasons I love the Society so much is that its goals match those of SoLVe: providing resources and assistance in getting people to make the transition to going vegan.
The Society has launched with a roar, and one of its first outputs is a much need resource guide to Vegan Products in NZ. I cannot count the number of questions I get from students thinking about going vegan about how to find proper things to eat. Well wonder no longer. This book of products – available free at the NZ Vegan Society website – is a welcome step in the right direction. It certainly doesn’t replace the need for proper labelling (a topic for future blogs), but it will make life easier for vegans (or aspiring vegans) across the country.
Kudos to the Society. If you’re not a member yet, and supporting these efforts, what are you waiting for? It’s cheap, and the group is doing as much as anyone to promote veganism in New Zealand.
It is a wonderfully empowering thing to realise the degree of choice that we have in our lives by making informed choices about what we eat. This is usually reflective of a long process of considered thought and it is not uncommon to feel a little special. Indeed, we may feel very wise. This can be a bit much for other people to bear as the proverbial zeal of the converted leads us to find a way to drop our capital-V Veganism into any conversation on any subject. And, to not know when to drop the subject.
I don’t presume to dispense advice here, nor do I intend a lecture, but there are some thoughts I would like to share about how we can better communicate with our omnivorous brothers and sisters and with each other.
It’s not about your ego.
Two weeks ago, the Worldwatch Institute reported a study that showed livestock produce 51% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, not 18% as previously estimated. The report is, frankly, damning and the Institute’s summary concludes with a succinct suggestion that we abandon animal products:
Based on their research, Goodland and Anhang conclude that replacing livestock products with soy-based and other alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. “This approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations-and thus on the rate the climate is warming-than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”
This Monday, the New Zealand Herald caught up, in a beautifully-titled article: Meat Eating Worse Than Thought – Study.
Now, of course that’s fascinating – not to mention concerning – in itself. I’m sure that the environmental side of veganism will become a recurring theme on this blog, and this new study adds new weight to the ecological case for eating less (or no!) animal products.
But what I find more interesting is the comments on the Herald’s Your Views page about this. It’s a great vox populi sample of the New Zealand population, and, while I really do hope that it’s not representative, it’s definitely telling. So let’s have a look at what people have to say.
Not long ago, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released their annual report on world hunger, The State of Food Insecurity in the World. Unsurprisingly, the Report shed particular light upon the economic crisis and its relation to food security, arguing that it is different to other crises for three reasons. Firstly, it has affected large parts of the world simultaneously, undermining traditional coping mechanisms; second, it followed hot on the heels of the food and fuel crisis of 2006-2008; and third, increased integration of developing economies into the world economy has made them volatile to market activity. World hunger is on the rise again, cracking 1.02 billion people this year, a sixth of the world’s population. Encouragingly, the FAO recognises that this current state of crisis is primarily structural, reflecting the fragility of our food systems on both a national and global level. While their recommended panaceae (investments in agriculture, the strengthening of social safety nets and the institutionalisation of the right to food) seek to address these problems, they sadly neglect to mention one of the simplest and most effective mechanism for combating world hunger: going vegetarian or vegan.
There are many reasons for choosing the vegan way of life: Ethical, spiritual, environmental, and physical. My own motivations are a combination of the above, but one aspect that I would like to focus on here is the environmental consequences of meat and dairy production.
Many commentators (indeed, many of my vegan friends!) consider this to be a secondary consideration. They believe that it is the suffering of the animals concerned that must take primacy. Perhaps this is the purists’ dislike of anthropocentric considerations slipping in to what ‘should’ be a movement for the rights of animals. Perhaps it is a form of ‘green fatigue’ brought on by the recent trend to frame any lecture or article – on any subject and however strained – in terms of ‘climate change’.
It’s not necessary to look very far to find the inspiration behind the Society of Legal Vegetarians and Vegans (SoLVe). As I see it, we formed the group to recognise the obvious connection between veganism and better laws governing animals.
Over the past seven years, I’ve consistently propounded the idea that we cannot simply rely upon the law to protect animals from cruelty. As drafted, our laws offer lots of window dressing, but in reality are little more than a series of loopholes and exemptions, all designed to allow us to express outrage at those who beat up dogs and cats, and simultaneously exculpate those responsible for the vast majority of animal suffering: people involved in the industrial production of animal products.