Skool of Vegan

Skool of Vegan is a new initiative aimed at trying to get people to look at their eating habits and attitudes towards animals in a more critical way.  Their mission statement is: ‘Because making the connection is child’s play’.   It certainly makes for some uncomfortable reading and I admire their original approach.  Whether you like the drawings or not its hard to deny the underlying truth and i think they do a good job of highlighting the hypocrisy and inconsistencies of what we teach our kids.  I think it’s probably a little too heavy handed for most people’s taste and therefore I doubt they will reach people in the way they’d like to.  Perhaps a less aggressive tone might have spoken to more people…?  What do you think?  Here a few…

'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play

'Skool of Vegan' Draws Cartoons That Make Eating Meat Seem Like Anything But Child's Play

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Live and Let Live

Have just watched this feature length documentary on veganism and would highly recommend it to everyone, vegan or not.

It examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that move people to go vegan.
Food scandals, climate change, lifestyle diseases and ethical concerns move more and more people to reconsider eating animals and animal products. From butcher to vegan chef, from factory farmer to farm sanctuary owner – Live and Let Live tells the stories of six individuals who decided to stop consuming animal products for different reasons and shows the impact the decision has had on their lives.
Philosophers such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan and Gary Francione join scientists T. Colin Campbell and Jonathan Balcombe and many others to shed light on the ethical, health and environmental perspectives of veganism.
Through these stories, Live and Let Live showcases the evolution of veganism from its origins in London 1944 to one of the fastest growing lifestyles worldwide, with more and more people realising what’s on their plates matters to animals, the environment and ultimately – themselves.

And it has a lovely soundtrack too…

Leonardo DiCaprio speaks at UN Climate Change summit… watch speech here

Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio addresses the UN summit meeting on climate change on Tuesday. He was recently named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. ‘This disaster has grown beyond the choices that individuals make. This is now about our industries, and governments…’ he tells the summit.  It’s a passionate and eloquent speech and hopefully the fact that it’s being delivered by Leo will mean that a lot more people watch it than were it being delivered by a faceless environmentalist.  Sadly.  Who knows… So far there has been a lot of rhetoric but very little action as far as I can see.  People are talking about it and it is temporarily on the agenda but unless China, Russia, the US and numerous other hard hitters commit to some serious reductions then nothing is going to change…

Watch here!

Leader: DiCaprio has fashioned himself as one of the most high-profile climate change activists an today urged world leaders at the United Nations to cut global carbon admissions

What to tell the kids…?!

I’ve been reconsidering what to tell the kids when it comes to eating meat, dairy and eggs.  So far the subject has not really come up as our three girls are only 5, 3 and 2 weeks so haven’t really noticed that mum and dad avoid animal products.  But they are beginning to ask questions – not just about what we eat but about food in general.

Up until now I have always been very quick to say that Ed and I certainly don’t impose our beliefs on our children and they can eat whatever they want.  So if we’re out and they choose the chicken sandwich then we buy it.  At school we haven’t put them down as vegetarian as we wanted them to have the choice each day as to what they eat.  I didn’t want to be seen as a pushy mother imposing her ‘extreme views’ on her poor kids… but recently this has started to sit uncomfortably with me.

For example, last week we were walking down the Northcote Road past an Argentinian Steakhouse.  There was a giant cardboard cow outside promoting some offer or other and Arcadia (5 yr old) asked me why there was a cow outside the restaurant.  So I explained to her that it’s a steak house and steak comes from cows.  She asked me whether the cows were dead or alive and she asked me who killed the cows.  I explained that the cows were bred for their meat and killed at a slaughterhouse when they were big enough to eat and then the meat is bought to the restaurant where it is cooked and eaten by the customers.  She looked absolutely horrified.  And I didn’t say it with any tone in my voice whatsoever – I just explained the process to her.   She asked me why someone would want to kill a cow?  I said because they taste nice and people like eating meat.  Still she looked horrified.  I don’t want to eat cows mummy she said.  Ok well you don’t have to eat cows if you don’t want to.

Then we were watching Finding Nemo last night and again Arcadia asked me why people take fish out of the sea.  I explained to her that when people eat fish, they have been taken out of the sea or out of a fish farm where they have been bred specifically for people to eat.  Again horrified.

girl with turkey friend vegan thanksgiving Our children have zero desire to eat these animals and are horrified when they discover what they have been eating… until we brainwash them into thinking it’s ok!

You get the picture.  The problem is that by the time children start to ask questions they have already started to learn that it is ok to eat animals. because everyone at school is doing it, on tv, all around them etc.  So what sits uncomfortably with me is that already she is looking at me as if to say ‘well why have you been letting me eat fish and sausages and chicken?’.  ‘You know that I wouldn’t want to had you explained to me what they are’.  Because kids haven’t yet learned from other people the crazy illogical idea that it is ok to eat pigs and cows and sheep and lambs and chickens and pigs and other poultry but that it’s not ok to eat horses and dogs and cats etc.  They are equally horrified at the idea of eating any of them.  Until we teach them that it’s ok in some cases.

So surely as a parent, my job is to equip her with the information that she needs in order to make an informed decision and then it is up to her what she does with it and I must respect her decision whatever it is.

But when do I start this?  With my oldest clearly 5 was too late as she is already really confused as to why I haven’t explained this to her before.  So do I start explaining to Indigo what different meats are before she’s started asking me prescient questions? So when we’re ordering lunch and she says she’d like a beefburger I should say are you sure you want to order that honey?  You know that a beefburger is made from the meat of a dead cow… I immediately feel like a psycho pushy parent.  But why?  All I’m doing is explaining to her what she’s about to eat.  I’m only giving her fact.

little girl turkey compassion vegan thanksgiving Children are appalled at needless slaughter… until we deceive them by telling them it’s ok, they’re meant to be eaten, we need to eat them for protein – complete rubbish!

I’m always amused at how people bang on about how appalling it is that children these days have no idea that milk comes from cows and sausages come from pigs.  When it’s absolutely no wonder!  I’m amazed when kids (that haven’t grown up on a farm) have the slightest clue where their food comes from because most adults are in total denial of it.  Every length is gone to to deceive and mislead us – through advertising campaigns and marketing ploys.  Words such as free range, organic, grass fed etc allow us to believe these cattle are living lovely lives before being humanely slaughtered…

The truth is a little different… We might all know that beef is from a cow – but most of us don’t know the reality of the miserably short life that cow has endured.  Most beef calves are taken from their mothers immediately after birth, castrated and dehorned with no anaesthetic, transported to ‘fattening sheds’ where they are fed on high-protein cereal feeds (largely made up of soya which is responsible for most deforestation of the rainforests and a huge environmental concern – also cattle belch and fart out between 100 and 200 litres of methane a day, a gas which is 24 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and is the largest contributor to climate change – bigger than the entire transportation sector combined!!!), and then taken for slaughter between 10 and 12 months of age.  Pitifully young when you think that they would live happily for 25 odd years if left to live out their natural life in peace.  At the slaughterhouse, the cattle are stunned (often ineffectively) using a captive bolt pistol before being shackled by the leg, strung up and having their throat slit.

In the UK, dairy cows are most commonly kept in pastures during the summer months and indoors in the winter. However, the practice of keeping the cows indoors all year round is becoming more popular; this is known as zero-grazing. Cows naturally produce milk after giving birth; for their children, not for human consumption. However, dairy cows are subjected to the same amount of cruelty as in any other intensive farming system so as to constantly supply humans with milk. Maximum production is paramount to the farmers and therefore, the cows produce between 20 and 50 litres of milk each day; around ten times the amount her calf would suckle. 10 TIMES!  I am breastfeeding at the moment and the thought of being rigged up to a machine and have 10 times as much milk leached out of me is unimaginable.

To take full advantage of the excess milk which cows produce immediately after giving birth, the calves are usually taken from their mothers within the first two days of birth, causing suffering, anxiety and depression for both mother and child, as the maternal bond a cow has with her calf is very strong. Under natural circumstances, the calf would suckle for anywhere between six months and a year. Like humans, cows produce milk for the benefit of their children and therefore only lactate for around ten to thirteen months after they have given birth. The cows are therefore re-impregnated approximately 60 days after giving birth to continue the cycle of milk production. In addition, the cows continue to be milked whilst pregnant; a process which causes them extreme discomfort. Once the dairy cows are so worn out that they have produced all the milk they can, they are sent to slaughter, usually at around four or five years of age; the average natural lifespan for a cow could be as long as 25 years. Their meat often ends up in low-grade burgers or pet foods.

Some of the infants that are taken from the dairy cows are, like their mothers, destined to become milking machines for human consumption and profit. However, approximately half of the calves are male. Some of them are killed as infants for cheap meat; however, as the offspring of dairy cows are not purposefully bred for meat, they are rarely suitable for beef production. Prior to the BSE outbreak, a large number of these calves were transported to continental Europe for used in the veal industry.

Anyhow – enough – I’m getting waylaid.  My point is that a lot of this was news to me and I was bought up on a smallholding in a farming community and thought I was one of the ‘educated ones’ when it came to animal agriculture.

So my new plan is to try and educate the kids in as transparent and honest a way as possible, without trying to persuade them in any way of what choices they should make.  It’s kind of hilarious that I feel like a pushy mother for considering telling my children the truth about this.  It just goes to show that the truth is pretty horrifying and it’s that I’m nervous of.  I don’t want my children to feel the same confusion and anger and sadness that I do that people continue to eat animals when there is absolutely no need for it, no excuse for it.  It is an indefensible, totally unethical and cruel practice which has no place in our society any longer.

I’m sad that they are going to see what lengths people will go to, what lies people will tell themselves, in order to not have to take a stance and go against the grain and do the right thing.  It isn’t easy and it does make you question people’s morality but it is also an extremely valuable lesson.  You cannot assume that just because ‘everyone else is doing it’ it’s ok.  You must learn to question things, carry out your own research, draw your own conclusions and continue to evolve and grow as your own person.

Slice of Cruelty

Another week, another horrific undercover video revealing the horrific abuse and cruelty that goes on in many dairy farms around the world.  This was taken by a mercy for Animals undercover reporter who got a job at a dairy in New Mexico for several weeks.   It shows workers punching, kicking and whipping cows and shocking their genitals with electric prods, tossing calves into truck beds, using heaving equipment to force sick animals into confined spots and committing other types of abuse.

Watch here!

It’s not easy to watch but I think it’s really important that people are made aware of what goes on behind closed doors.  People cannot be held accountable for financing these industries if they are not made aware of what it is they are directly supporting.  Most people have no idea of the cruel practices that go on in the agricultural sector.  I certainly didn’t until I undertook my own research and I am convinced that as soon as people are made aware of the horrific acts of animal abuse that are so endemic on factory farms around the world, they will stop consuming their products and lining their pockets.  Unfortunately the industry is obviously going to do everything in their powers to keep this out of public view and, such are their lobbying powers, so too are governments.  So it is left up to animal rights activists, animal welfare groups and charities to do whatever they can to raise awareness and educate people as to what kind of practices they are unwittingly supporting and therefore responsible for.  It is unfortunate that people have to deceitfully pose as employees whilst secretly filming goings on, but there is no other way of showing people the truth.  If these kinds of videos don’t make people immediately stop eating these dairy products, at least at the restaurant chains that they know these dairy farms supply, then I honestly don’t know what will.

Stop Dairy Abuse

Even if you choose to believe what Tim McIntyre, vice president of communications for Domino’s, (Leprino Foods biggest client, supplied by this dairy amongst many others), says and believe that this is an ‘isolated case of sadistic acts by employees at a single dairy farm in southern New Mexico…’ (which endless undercover footage has sadly proven to be untrue – in 2010 another Mercy for Animals undercover investigation gathered similar footage at Willet dairy in New York, also supplying Leprino Foods.  They were closed down for a few months and reopened a year later when the bad press died down.  Another video was released showing appalling abuse at a beef farm, Bettencourt Farm, in 2012, one of Burger King’s biggest suppliers – yet no arrests were made and people still eat at Burger King…) then just the faintest possibility that this might not be the case would surely get anyone questioning whether or not subscribing to this industry is at all ethical or necessary.  At the very least this should stop you eating at any of the chains that are supplied by this dairy – Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut for starters.

Or if you want to tell yourself that these are just a bunch of evil people getting sadistic kicks out of abusing innocent vulnerable animals and this is absolutely not your typical dairy industry employee, then read the book ‘Slaughterhouse’ by Gail A Eisnitz.  Gail interviews dozens and dozens of employees working in dairy farms and slaughterhouses across the US and these personal accounts of what really goes inside those walls will leave you feeling sick to your stomach that you have ever bought and eaten meat that has been processed in factory farms.

or if you tell yourself that you don’t buy meat that comes from factory farms then ask yourself where the lamb in your Cornish pasty has come from or where your service station chicken salad sandwich came from, or where your beef stock came from, or the milk in your hot chocolate powder or cadburys flake… There are animal products in so much of what you eat.  Way beyond the joint of expensive beef you might buy for your Sunday Roast.

The horror of dairy farms

And even if you do tell yourself that this kind of cruelty is limited to factory farms far far away from your table, then look at the zillion other reasons you shouldn’t be eating animals.  Start with the environment, then look at the ethics of eating an innocent vulnerable animal that you have absolutely no nutritional need for and then look at the enormous health benefits of an animal free diet.  The arguments are so obvious, the evidence is so resounding – the only way you can continue to consume and wear animal products is if you choose to deceive yourself.  And at the back of your mind, you know you are lying to yourself and you have to live with this niggling nugget of knowledge that you are part of this horrifically cruel, unnecessary and evil practice and you really should have had the balls to do something about it.  One day your grandchild will ask you – what did you do when you found out about the abuse and cruelty?  You stopped eating animals right and tried to get others to stop too?  Yes?  Right?

This video screengrab shows a cow being dragged out of a stall. The video was shot by the animal rights group Mercy for Animals.

People cannot continue to turn a blind eye any longer.  People can no longer ignore the elephant in the room.  Even if you believe that there is such a thing as ‘humane slaughter’, producing meat on the scale that we are today cannot be done ethically or humanely.  Commodifying animal products in this way inevitably leads to enormous numbers and tiny profit margins.  Every penny is squeezed out of every animal and profits are driven through unethical means – mass scale production with more animals squeezed into smaller spaces, more gallons of milk squeezed out of mastitis engorged udders, animals being stuffed full of unnatural animal feed and dosed up on antibiotics, fattened obscenely quickly, slaughtered at a desperately young age and sold at a cheaper and cheaper price etc etc.

The greater the demand for food the more corners are cut and not only do the animals suffer appallingly but so we do as the cholesterol pours through our veins and blocks our arteries, raises our blood pressure, brings on heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, the list is endless!

If you don’t believe me go and do some research.  It’s like opening Pandora’s box.  Before you know it you’ll be glued to your computer with your jaw on the floor amazed at how something as ‘normal’ as eating meat, dairy and eggs can make you partly responsible for such horrific acts of violence and cruelty.

Trust me.  Do some research and see what you discover.

Study: Global Veganism Would Reduce Carbon Emissions More Than Energy Intervention

Yet another study proving what a devastating effect the meat industry is having on climate change.

Producing nearly 15% of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions, the meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change. Slowly, very slowly, movements like Meatless Mondays and Vegan Before 6 have demonstrated the value, and deliciousness, of adopting a vegan diet, but a carnivorous diet is still seen as evidence of prosperity.

In 2009, researchers at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency calculated that global veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by nearly 17%, methane emissions by 24%, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21% by 2050.

The researchers discovered that worldwide veganism, or even just worldwide vegetarianism, would achieve gains at a much lower cost that an energy intervention, like carbon taxes, for instance.

The study demonstrated tremendous value of a vegan or vegetarian diet in staving off climate change, but there are so many other benefits as well. Antibiotic resistance stemming from the meat consumed that has been pumped full of antibiotics would plummet. Pollution rates would drop significantly as factory farms, the biggest polluters in the meat industry, became a thing of the past. General human health and well-being would rise from a plant-based diet free from cholesterol and pharmaceuticals.

By 2050, the global population is predicted to reach a staggering 9 BILLION people. What are we going to do with all the cows currently taking up 25% of the Earth’s land area?