The Green Party on Animal Welfare

I voted for the Green Party yesterday.  I believe in voting in line with your values and therefore, regardless of how they would perform nationally, I knew that this was the only party that I could vote for with a clear conscience.

Below is where they stand on Animal Rights issues.  In a world where I feel almost entirely alone in my thoughts on this it is an enormous relief to find a party that feels the same way:

Animal Rights

Background

AR100 The expansion and development of human society has inevitably affected the lives of many other species. Disruption to their lifestyles has been both accidental and deliberate and has resulted in suffering, death or even extinction. The prevailing assumption that animals can be used for any purpose that benefits humankind is not acceptable in a Green society.

Long Term Aims

AR200 To eliminate the wholesale exploitation of other species, foster understanding of our inter-relationship in the web of life and protect and promote natural habitat.

Short Term Aims

AR300 To stimulate public awareness of the rights and needs of animals, to pass appropriate legislation to act by both informing the electorate and implementing suitable district policies.

Policies

AR400 As part of the Environment Commission (see PL410), a section will be set up dealing with the welfare of all animals, wild and domesticated, to oversee their treatment and make appropriate recommendations.

AR401 Local Authorities to provide a local Animal Rights Officer with adequate staff to oversee animal warden schemes, etc., and to liaise with the Animal Welfare Department of the Environment Commission.

AR402 To take pressure off wild animals by voluntarily limiting our population, by actively discouraging and penalising pollution and by preserving and restoring stable habitats. (see ‘Pollution’)

AR403 In the UK, close to a billion farm animals are slaughtered for food every year. Many of these animals are farmed intensively, kept in cramped conditions and denied the freedom to express natural behaviour. High levels of frustration, distress, injury and suffering are common and painful mutilations are routinely carried out to reduce risk of injury. Antibiotics are used routinely to prevent outbreak of disease, resulting in antibiotic resistance and threats to human and animal health. Animals are often transported long distances to slaughter and suffer inhumane conditions both during transport and at the time of slaughter. Besides the impact on animal welfare, high levels of consumption of meat, dairy and other animal products in developed countries are ecologically unsustainable and are linked to many chronic health conditions (See also FA650FA666).

AR404 The Green Party will phase out all forms of ‘factory farming’ and support a transition to small free-range units, mixed rotational farming and extensive grazing (see FA660-661). We support the highest levels of animal welfare in farming and shall ensure that the ‘Five Freedoms’ listed in the Animal Welfare Act are applied to all farm animals. In particular we shall press for maximum stocking densities and appropriate environments for all farm animals in order to permit expression of natural behaviour. We shall prohibit all caged rearing of poultry, including ‘enriched cages’. We shall prohibit all painful mutilations such as beak trimming of poultry and tail docking of pigs.

AR405 In recent decades, genetic selection has continually increased yields from farm animals, often resulting in endemic welfare problems, such as mastitis in cows and bone fractures in chickens. The Green Party will place limits on the ‘genetic yield’ of farm animals and will encourage farmers to use traditional breeds. 

AR406 The Green Party will phase out routine and prophylactic use of antibiotics in farm animals. We shall maintain a ban on the use of growth hormones and imports of food from animals treated with growth hormones. We support a ban on the use of GMOs in animal feed and oppose all genetic modification of animals (See FA720 and AR420). We shall maintain a ban on the use of, and importation of products from, cloned animals and their offspring (See FA666). We shall press for EU and international rules permitting restrictions on imports from countries with lower animal welfare standards (See FA502(c)).

AR407 The Green Party will seek to minimise live transport of animals and will work through the EU and locally to end all live exports for slaughter and fattening. We shall prioritise smaller, local abattoirs, prohibit piece-rate payment of workers and otherwise improve market and slaughterhouse conditions.

AR408 Undercover footage has revealed significant animal suffering in UK slaughterhouses, including animals slaughtered for organic meat. Mandatory CCTV will be required in all slaughterhouses. This will act as a deterrent and provide evidence for animal abuse prosecutions.

AR409 Overfishing and the harmful effects of fish farming are devastating marine ecosystems. Several billion fish are killed annually to feed the UK population, often by methods causing extreme suffering, and millions of fish are kept in cruel conditions in intensive fish farms. The Green Party will work for an end to overfishing, practices harming the marine ecosystem and avoidable by-catches (see MC323-330). We shall prohibit intensive fish farming (see FA657, FA660 and MC341) and restrict the use of fishmeal for animal feed (see FA661). We shall extend the Animal Welfare Act to cover all fishing activities.

AR410 A reduction in the consumption of animal products would have benefits for the environment, human health and animal welfare. The Green Party will support a progressive transition from diets dominated by meat and other animal products to healthier diets based on plant foods, through the use of research, education and economic measures, coupled with support for more sustainable methods of production such as organic and stockfree farming.

AR411 The Green Party will ensure that high quality, nutritionally balanced vegetarian and vegan menu options are widely available and promoted in all public sector establishments such as schools, hospitals and care facilities (see ED190, FA222, HE322). We shall ensure that catering and nutrition for vegetarian and vegan diets is included in all catering certificates and that lessons in preparing nutritious vegetarian and vegan food are included in food technology courses.

AR412 The Green Party will make it illegal to import and/or sell foie gras andany product that is the result of force-feeding.

AR413 To prohibit the import, export and sale of all fur, whether wild caught or factory farmed, and to ensure a ban on fur farming in the UK stays in place. The import of other animal products such as ivory, reptile skins and whale oil, will be prohibited.
AR414 In the UK, millions of animals are used each year in experiments which can cause great pain and suffering. There are significant differences between the physiology of animals and that of humans and the reliance on animal testing and experimentation increases the risks of adverse reactions and hampers progress. A large proportion of animals are used for non-medical testing and for duplicate research which could be avoided. There are now many techniques available for testing of chemicals, drugs and medical procedures and for researching disease that do not use animals. However, these alternatives are often not used and are not adequately funded or supported.

AR415 The Green Party would ban all experimentation and research which harms animals, including harmful procedures used to obtain animal-derived materials. ‘Harmful’ is defined in this context as ‘having the potential to cause pain, suffering, distress, lasting harm or death in animals, except where it is designed to benefit the individual animals concerned

AR416 Government research funds will be transferred from animal tests to non-animal technologies, including epidemiology, computer models, micro-dosing, imaging, DNA chips, microfluidics chips and the use of human tissue. Much greater use will be made of epidemiological evidence and clinical data. Greens would also fund more research into prevention of disease, looking at diet, environment, family history and lifestyle.

AR417 The Green Party is opposed to the harmful use in education of animals and of animal-derived materials where the animals have been killed specifically for this purpose. The Party supports the replacement of the use of animals and animal material with methods such as models, mannequins, mechanical and computer-based simulators, films and interactive videos, plant experiments and observational and field studies, and human studies including self-experimentation. The Party supports the educational use of animal cadavers and animal-derived materials where these have been ethically sourced, such as animals who have died naturally and animals who have been euthanased for humane reasons.

AR418 The Party is opposed to the wholesale breeding, manipulation and destruction of those animals who are chosen as companions to the human race. We will introduce measures to regulate the care and conditions for such animals including a two-tier system of dog-licensing [breeding and non-breeding], licensing of all animal breeders and dog owners, subsidised spaying and neutering, the implementation of good animal warden schemes and a prohibition on the import of exotic animals for the pet trade.

AR419 The Green Party would introduce a requirement that all dogs be microchipped. It would be a legal requirement that when the animal was sold or ownership transferred the owner’s details be updated on the database otherwise the owner listed on the database would be deemed to be responsible for the dog.

AR420 The Green Party will end puppy farming by banning the sale of young puppies and kittens unless the mother is present.

AR421 Patents will not be granted on any animal and strict controls will be introduced to prevent genetic manipulation for profit or curiosity. (see ST363)

AR422 To extend the 1911 Protection of Animals Act to protect both captive and non-captive animals from unnecessary suffering. This will be used to prohibit hunting with hounds, shooting, snaring, coursing and various other abuses of our animal population. The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to all blood-sports. We oppose the killing of, or infliction of pain or suffering upon, animals in the name of sport or leisure, and will work to end all such practices.

AR423 To amend the Firearms Act to prohibit the use and private ownership of firearms and lethal weapons, such as air rifles, crossbows, etc., except on registered premises.

AR424 In view of the fact that animal acts in circuses are cruel and degrading to performer and observer alike, we will immediately prohibit the import of, and sale from other sources of, all animals to circuses. We will immediately prohibit the use of animals in circuses and will encourage the re-homing of all existing circus animals to sanctuaries or other suitable establishments with relocation to the wild wherever possible.

AR425 To abolish zoos and private collections of animals except where they are for the benefit of the animal concerned. Licences will only be granted to establishments involved in either captive breeding of endangered species for eventual return to the wild or else those offering genuine sanctuary to animals unable, through injury and other cause, to be returned to the wild and where their living conditions are as close as possible to the animal’s natural habitat.

AR426 The Green Party will end the exploitation of animals in horse racing, greyhound racing and all  situations where animals are commercially raced. There would be an immediate ban on the use of the whip in horse racing and in jumps racing, and on the use of a non-linear track in greyhound racing. A single regulatory authority would be put in place for each sport, tasked with establishing and enforcing strict welfare standards. There would be a requirement for full traceability of all animals involved in racing  throughout their lives (using microchip technology where applicable) and full publication of injury and  death statistics. These statistics would be used as evidence to close dangerous tracks and ban trainers with poor records. Breeding and import of animals for racing will be tightly regulated and monitored to  improve welfare and prevent over-breeding. There would be regulation on the conditions and times of  transportation of animals used in sport as well as the housing of all animals. A high level of compulsory levy  would be imposed on all betting, to be used solely for welfare improvements.

AR427 The Green Party will endeavour internationally to initiate and develop an Animal Rights Division within the United Nations Organisation.

AR428 The Green Party opposes all lethal or harmful uses and treatment of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). In particular, whaling is a premeditated, deliberate and unnecessary cause of animal suffering. It is not justified even if supposedly undertaken as ‘scientific research’ or ‘subsistence hunting’ rather than for commercial profit. It endangers the survival of various cetacean species. The Green Party condemns those governments who seek, through the International Whaling Commission and otherwise, to continue whaling. We call on all governments to outlaw whaling. The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to all lethal and harmful commercial utilisation of cetaceans. This includes all whaling, so called scientific whaling and any whaling conducted under the cover-all of ‘aboriginal subsistence whaling’. The Green Party opposes any move to end the current moratorium on commercial whaling. We call on all nations to declare the waters under their control havens from whaling, to provide sanctuary throughout those waters for cetaceans, and to co-operate in achieving global sanctuary for cetaceans in the longer term.

AR429 Xenotransplantation: The Green Party would abolish research into, and the practise of xenotransplantation (the transplantation of nonhuman animal organs, genetically engineered or otherwise, into human beings). Treating nonhuman animals as “spare part” factories is both immoral and inhumane, and is therefore completely unacceptable in an ecological society. Xenotransplantation is yet another instance of corporate profit being prioritised over public health and the rights of nonhuman animals. Xenotransplantation carries the grave danger of virus transferral from nonhuman animals to humans, raising the real possibility of the unleashing of an epidemic amongst the human population.

The Green Party would promote more sensible and effective approaches to enhancing health, such as preventative health measures, increasing the pool of human donors, research into artificial organs, and the surgical repair of damaged organs.

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No such thing as humane slaughter

I’m writing to a lot of ‘meat processing units’ at the moment asking if I can come along one day and have a look around and watch the slaughtering process in person. Unsurprisingly no one is rushing forward to invite me in. This short 1 minute video is of a mobile slaughter unit and is about as ‘humane’ as any slaughtering facility you are likely to come across.

And yet watching this both sickens and saddens me. It just shows, even at the best end of the miserable spectrum, how totally inexcusable it is to take these animals lives just because they taste good. Slaughter at it’s most humane is sickeningly inhumane and does not belong in this day and age. When will we all wake up and see how immoral and unethical our treatment of farmed animals is? It just makes me feel incredibly sad that we live in a world where this is the mainstream diet and veganism is still viewed as extreme. Just bonkers!

What will our great grandchildren think of us? Will they think of us like we do the nazis? Just not be able to fathom how we could behave in a way so obviously at total odds with all of our values, morals and principles. It will be inconceivable to them I think. They will wonder how we could possibly have not seen how barbaric and wrong what we were doing was and we will offer the same feeble excuses – well everyone else was doing it. We’d been doing it like that for hundreds of years. It tasted good. I just didn’t really think about the animals. I probably knew deep down that i wasn’t entirely comfortable with it but I never had to look it in the face. It all happened behind closed doors so we didn’t really make the connection.

Well make the connection. Don’t turn a blind eye. Do the right thing. Live by your own principles. Live by your own moral compass. You don’t want to cause harm or suffering or death to anyone so why would you when it is so unnecessary to your health or happiness? Go vegan today and it will change your life for the better in more ways than you could possibly imagine.

Rant rant rant. Tired. Bed time. Night night.

Founder of WNY Vegans talks about her diet, misconceptions about veganism

Good article by Melinda Shaw on her experiences as a vegan:

The word “vegan” carries an inordinate amount of caustic weight despite its simple theory and definition. The term sparks trigger quick, flippant responses and reactions based on – from what I have found through casual conversations – a misappropriations, distaste and individual perplexity.

Statements like, “Why would you do that?” “Isn’t is hard to not eat meat?” and “You’re missing out on so many good foods!” spring up regularly, creating inadvertent and glaring testimonies that being “vegan” really means being “different.”

And ultimately misunderstood.

After reading about “Veganuary,” my seminal curiosities led me to dig in a bit deeper in what it is to be truly “vegan.”

I understand the core concepts: no meat, no animal byproducts, and conscious and ethical living practices, but never did I realize that living as a vegetarian, how far off I am from living a vegan lifestyle, thanks in great part to the products I use that contain animal components – as opposed to the foods that I eat.

So “Veganuary,” the promotion of “veganism” last month, afforded me the opportunity to reach out to Melinda Shaw, the founder of WNY Vegans, who spoke about what it is to be vegan.

“A vegan is someone who chooses not to consume any animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs and byproducts made from animals, including honey and gelatin. People generally choose to become vegan for either humane, environmental or health reasons, or a combination of those reasons. Most ethical vegans also generally abstain from using health and beauty products and cleaning products that contain animal ingredients or were tested on animals,” Shaw said.

Also, ethical vegans will desist from wearing fabrics derived from animals, including wool, leather, fur and silk. They also will refrain from attending events and activities where animals are being used for entertainment purposes, such as rodeos, zoos, marinas and circuses.

As a vegan for 23 years, Shaw began living in this manner for “ethical reasons.” Her primary concern was “for the animals.” With more than two decades experience, Shaw attests to the “health and environmental benefits of being vegan.”

“I know that the choices I make every day have a positive impact on the world and do the least harm possible to the animals, my health and the environment. The physical benefits of a vegan lifestyle are tremendous,” Shaw said.

“Today, more people are dying from lifestyle-related disease than infectious diseases! These lifestyle-related diseases are mostly due to high consumption of processed, animal-based foods and lack of physical exercise. We know that most of these diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer, are linked to the over-consumption of animal products and can be reversed through a whole-foods, plant-based diet.”

Thanks largely to innate commonsense and research, omnivorous and vegan diets are, nearly to entirely devoid of animal byproducts, thus traditionally lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in comparison to non-vegetarian forms of nourishment. Numerous studies also support claims that vegetarians and/or vegans appear to have a lower risk for coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and various forms of cancer.

With all the health benefits associated with non-meat based diets, misconceptions about herbivorous diets are incredibly and shockingly pervasive in our society, especially one that has access to answers in as little time as it take for someone to think and type in a question on Google.

“The biggest misconception about being vegan is that it’s too hard and the foods are too restrictive,” Shaw said. “Many people who try or become vegan are pleasantly surprised to learn about the huge variety of foods that are vegan and actually enjoy cooking and eating more as a vegan as they experiment with new foods and flavor combinations.

“The other misconception is that vegan food is expensive, which is just the opposite. Beans and rice are very inexpensive. When you remove the costly meat, dairy and eggs from your diet, which is generally about 40 percent of an average grocery bill, that frees up a lot of room in your budget. You get more for your money on a vegan diet.”

As for vegan foods, the variety available is extensive. Per the recommendations from Shaw (and some of her favorites), there are “vegan” meat products like Gardein and Beyond Meat, which she uses when cooking for those who are non-vegan, and nutritional yeast, an accent spice of sorts; high in vitamin B12, it gives food a pleasant, nutty flavor.

“The biggest apprehension from people about being vegan is concern over what they will eat,” Shaw said. “I will often go grocery shopping with people to show them some of my favorite products. Most people are shocked to see all of their familiar food items in vegan form, such as butter, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream, shredded cheese and meat-replacements. It’s a big relief when they realize that they can still eat very similar to what they are used to eating, just in a more humane and healthy way.”

Should you want to experiment with being vegan for a day or just a meal, there are numerous local restaurants that offer vegan dishes. They include Saigon Bangkok, Falafel Bar, and Pizza Plant, to name a fast few.

Also, as the old, clichéd, but ever true adage goes, “knowledge is power.” The more information you have on veganism, the better informed you will be about the relatively misconstrued subject matter. Check out these documentaries: Vegucated; Earthlings; Forks Over Knives; and Food Inc. Or try one of these books: “Diet for a New America,” by John Robbins; or “The China Study,” by T. Colin Campbell.

Now you can go seek out, find out and try out what works for you. Like anything in life, options are good, and this is just another one for your consideration.

“Lobsters do feel pain? Oh. Ummm… well sorry for all the boiling alive guys…”

IMG_2908.JPG

So it turns out that lobsters, octopus, prawns, crabs, squid etc probably do feel pain.  This article was recently published in the New Scientist and suggests that all of these animals not only feel pain but some of them feel it more acutely than humans do.

But do people care?  Will everyone who read the latest evidence in the New Scientist or all of you reading this blog post now, finish reading this and then vow to stop eating these animals?  No, most won’t according to what history shows us.  Not until the vegan movement gathers a lot more momentum and swells to much bigger numbers.  Why not?  I don’t understand why otherwise kind, caring, compassionate people don’t change their behaviour once they’ve discovered that that behaviour causes pain and suffering to innocent sentient animals. We’re not talking about political allegiance or tastes in music or something that is inconsequential in terms of pain and suffering.  We are talking about a global genocide that is causing billions of animals every year to endure immense abuse, pain and suffering.  Is that how incapable we are of thinking for ourselves, of acting upon proven facts, of swimming against the tide, of challenging the status quo?  It makes me feel so sad and angry and disappointed. But more than that it baffles me.  I’m not any more compassionate than anyone else.  I don’t love animals any more than anyone else?  I don’t enjoy seeing an animal suffer any more or less than anyone else I doubt.  We all have the same reaction when we see an animal in pain – we empathise enormously and will do everything we can to stop it’s suffering.  So why the massive blind spot when it comes to eating animals and animal products?  Is it ignorance?  It is fear?  I think we all know deep down that the process by which meat gets to our plates cannot be a wholly pleasant one.  But somehow we deem it worthwhile for the pleasure of taste and the fear of change.  So we do everything we can to remain ignorant and hide behind pathetic justifications such as ‘but we’ve always eaten meat’ (and?  we’ve also always enslaved other people and raped and pillaged our way around the world – it doesn’t mean it’s okay!) and ‘we need it for protein’ (no you do NOT).

The second I discovered what happens to the billions of male chicks born each year I vowed to never eat eggs again.  As soon as I discovered that I didn’t need to eat meat of any kind in order to eat a healthy, full and balanced diet I vowed to never be responsible for the slaughter of another pig, cow, duck, chicken, sheep, lamb or chicken.  I just the same way as when I discovered how foie gras was made I vowed never to eat it again. As soon as I discovered what veal was I vowed never again to eat it.  As soon as i discovered the life cycle of a dairy cow I vowed to never eat dairy again.  As soon as I discovered the human rights abuses committed by Primark I vowed never to shop there again.  As soon as I discovered the environmental ruin that Nestle is causing around the world I vowed never to buy their products again.  Why doesn’t everyone else.  Ignorance is a good enough answer if you really didn’t know.  But once you do know – what excuse do you have to continue to perpetuate the problem?

I’m bored of being polite and saying oh well some people don’t want to offend others or stand out from the crowd or be the objects of ridicule.  It’s not good enough.  Do better.  We all need to be better.  How can we pretend to preach the values of right and wrong to our children if we ourselves are knowingly perpetrating these cruel acts of needless violence and suffering day in and day out.  Enough.

Please stop eating and exploiting animals.  No more excuses.

Confused.com

There were 2 big stories in the news last week which demonstrate how utterly arbitrary, hypocritical and deluded our morality is when it comes to animal ethics in this country.

Firstly there was the appallingly cruel arson attack on a Manchester dogs home in which 53 dogs died.  This story became bigger news for the fact that people were so moved by this deeply upsetting story that a JustGiving page was set up and donations flooded in from all over the world, exceeding £1.3 million in less than 3 days.  Staggering.  Heart warming.  Amazing.  It goes to show how deeply people care about dogs – even dogs that have been left unclaimed in a dogs home – dogs that would largely have been pit bull terriers and Rottweilers and other such breeds.  Breeds which are at the less ‘cute and cuddly’ end of the doggy scale.  And still people are enormously upset by the idea of these dogs suffering such a painful and frightening death.

In contrast, on the same day, there is a story about a cull that had been carried on miniature pigs and piglets in the Swansea area.

One of the piglets

Over 100 micro-pigs were culled by a licensed professional.  “These animals presented a serious risk to other livestock in the region in the event of a disease outbreak, and because of this we were left with no option but to carry out a cull,” said a spokesperson. What a load of horseshit!  The only threat these animals could possibly offer is if they come into contact with farm bred infected pigs as they could then spread the disease.  Why on earth should these wild pigs pay the heaviest price for the farmers carelessness.  If the commercially bred pigs weren’t harbouring disease in the first place then there wouldn’t be a problem.  It’s exactly the same story with the badger cull and TB.  The farmers should ensure that their cattle don’t get TB and if they do then they should pay the price.  They shouldn’t be farming cattle in the first place as far as I’m concerned so I’m afraid I have little sympathy.   If culling innocent badgers is their solution then they clearly it’s a non-starter of a business model!

These same farmers who claim to be animal lovers were the ones who put pressure on Swansea Council in the first place to carry out this appalling cull.  Yes, some farmers may care about their livestock, but as soon as something might get in the way of their profit margins, you see where they really stand on animal welfare issues.

The slaughter of these innocent, healthy and harmless pet pigs amounts to an atrocity that should be totally unacceptable to an educated and caring society.