Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Anne the Elephant Update

As you may be aware, we documented the plight of Anne, the last British circus elephant, a couple of weeks ago here at Vegangstaz. We also recommended signing up to show your support for her being rehomed, and I’m glad to say thanks to those who did show your support. Anne, who has been with the Bobby Roberts Super Circus for over 50 years, is going to be at peace now as she’s been rehomed to Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, UK.

Anne's terrible treatment has not gone unnoticed

Anne, who’s torment was highly apparent in the short time in which she was filmed undercover, received massive support with over 7,000 people signing the petition to have her removed from the circus. According to a spokesperson for Longleat “Annie coped with the journey admirably well, is safe, well and beginning to settle into her new surroundings. In the coming days and weeks a team of three dedicated keepers will provide her with the tender loving care she needs around the clock. She will also receive a full health check and be provided with the best possible veterinary treatment.” This sounds like a far cry from her previous treatment.

Her previous owners, Bobby and Moira Roberts, who state that they were unaware of Anne’s abuse, say that having her removed is like “losing a child.” However, I find it somewhat difficult to sympathise with the couple seeing as they were willingly using an arthritic animal, which does not even belong in our climate, regularly for their own money-making gain. They can’t have been that close to Anne if her suffering went completely unnoticed to them too.

Vegangstaz would also like to highlight how impressed we were by Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, as after we emailed her about our issues with Anne she replied promptly and positively. The email went as follows:

Thank you for your recent email about the appalling cruelty suffered by Annie the elephant at the Roberts’s Super circus. Her case upset me enormously and I have signed this Early Day Motion about her treatment:

That this House congratulates Animal Defenders International for its undercover work in filming appalling abuse and ill-treatment of 58-year-old elephant, Anne, belonging to circus owner Bobby Roberts; thanks The Daily Mail for publicising the ill-treatment of the elephant and other animals; calls on the Government and other agencies immediately to suspend licences issued to Roberts’ Super Circus pending an investigation including the involvement of the police; and urges the Government to ban any species of wild animal in a travelling circus, a policy which a consultation has shown would be backed by 95 per cent. of the population.

As you may know, the vast majority of members of the public support a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and I have been working with campaigns like the Captive Animal Protection Society to ensure that Ministers act in accordance with public opinion. It is a critical time and as a signatory to EDM 403 I have urged the Government to introduce a ban. I have also been keeping up pressure on the Government to end the delay in making an announcement about its policy, including via parliamentary questions like the one pasted below.

As a Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Animal Welfare Group, I have been raising awareness amongst other MPs of the suffering endured by wild animals like Annie in circuses. I am encouraged that so many of my colleagues have added their support to the campaign for a ban and recognise that voluntary measures by the circus industry are not good enough.

Thank you for your commitment to protecting animals and for taking the time to write to me. I hope that one day we can guarantee no animals will suffer in travelling circuses and I will continue to work hard towards this end.

This is a great result for animal rights issues, and an even better result for Anne, so keep at it y’all!

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Help free Anne the last circus elephant!

If any of you haven’t already heard of Anne prepare to be appalled.

Anne is an elderly, arthritic Asian elephant who is the property of a Bobby Roberts Super Circus. She has spent 50 of her 57years in captivity and if the 3 weeks that Animal Defenders International (ADI) spent during an undercover investigation are anything to go by thenit is doubtful that these were happy years. During this investigation the poor elephant was witnessed being hit by a metal pitchfork and kicked about the face and body 48 times by the workers at the circus. These workers were also seen spitting on a camel and beating miniature ponies and horses on numerous occassions. You will surely agree this is a truely horrific ordeal for these poor animals made to parade about for our so called ‘entertainment’. You can read more about this appauling story here.

This could look up for dear old Annie though, ADI have offered to rehome her and you can help! Just pop on over to the Animal Aid website (here) and send a quick message to your loal MP and persuade them to help this great cause of saving the last circus elephant and ensuring her last years with us are truely happy ones. If you don’t know who your MP is or how to contact them there is a link on the Animal Aid website which will help you! I think it’s time we said enough is enough, this type of disgusting behaviour should not be allowed to continue to Anne or any other animal. Please take 5 minutes out of your day to help Anne.

Thank you.

Chickens lay eggs anyway…

Veganism can be hard to comprehend if you don’t look into its ethical reasoning. Vegetarians clearly oppose the killing of animals, but when it comes to veganism it’s different. I mean, no animal is killed for its produce, at least directly. Such a practice would be counterintuitive, right?

Let’s, for a minute, just forget the complexities of arguments to do with the life span of produce animals, their livelihood, and free range vs. battery farming. Let’s forget about what happens to dairy cows, the issue of whether milking is natural, and what happens to their calves. Let’s forget about conditions for chickens and issues with genetic modification and human intervention into the egg-laying process. All these issues are important to vegans and ethical vegetarians, but understanding the implications of many of these things and the processes that go on behind closed doors can be difficult and require plenty of time to get your head around.

For now, let me put to you a single issue within the egg industry that highlights to me why veganism is the only diet which minimises death through eating practices, and why ethical vegetarianism falls short, and also explains why around 40 million chicks are killed each year in the UK alone during egg production. In fact this issue is so difficult to swallow (as I’m sure eggs may be after we’ve talked about it) that I can put to you the best case scenario for egg production, besides keeping your own chickens.

First it’s important to note that farming is a business, and like any other business it needs to make money. It is due to this fact that I have yet to come across a farm that is, by my standards (which I don’t think are unreasonable), ethical. But picture the closest thing you can to this in your head. Picture a local, truly free range farm, where chickens are given ample space and are respected.

Now, first you need to realise that these chickens are probably there for one of two purposes – either meat or eggs. Notice that I said either-or. For the last few decades, there has been specialisation and cross-breeding to ensure that the most efficient chickens are used for each job. There are certain types of chickens which lay eggs infrequently and irregularly, but grow fat quickly – these are broiler chickens (i.e. they will be used as meat). There are others which don’t grow so large but lay eggs nearly every day – these are layer chickens. Now, the farm in your head will realise this and will be breeding specialised chickens for each purpose. It wouldn’t make sense to just breed one type of chicken because they would not be maximising their possible output as a farm in terms of either egg production or meat, and as a farm is a profit-making business it must choose specialised breeds of chickens. This is logic, and there is nothing wrong with that.

So, keep that picture in your head of your farm, with the broiler and the laying chickens. The farm is going to need to ensure that it breeds these chickens to keep their levels up, otherwise when the chickens die out the farm will be left without any. To do this, some eggs are fertilised from both the broiler and laying chickens. The broiler chickens will hatch, they will be grown until their slaughter date, at which point they will be killed for meat. The laying chickens also hatch, but here’s where the difficulty lies.

Only female chickens lay eggs. But there is no way to ensure that only female chickens are born. So, as with all birds and most of the animal kingdom, half of the chickens born are going to be female (and therefore can be utilised in egg production) whilst the other half will be born as males. This is where things get a bit depressing I’m afraid. There is no use for these male chicks whatsoever. Remember, the farm is a business. Keeping these chicks when they can’t perform the duty they were bred for, egg-laying, would be wasteful and has a negative effect on profits. Even the most ethical farm, that one you’ve hopefully been picturing in your head, would have a very hard time justifying the keeping male chicks for the sake of their lives when they have nothing to offer. These chicks are thus killed at birth.

Methods for killing the chicks tend to be through the use of mass-scale death machines. Some are dropped straight onto large electric plates, frying the chicks (who are barely hours old) alive. Others are gassed with their carcasses being utilised as reptile and snake food. The “humane” way (as recommended by the RSPCA and Humane Slaughter Association) is to drop the live chicks into a macerator – essentially a machine which minces the chicks into a paste, quite literally (not too dissimilar to the machine that destroys Preston at the end of the Wallace and Gromit film, A Close Shave). For arguably the least fortunate, they are simply placed in giant bin bags on top of each other and left to die, like the rubbish that the industry thinks that they are.

There is no farm that has any use for male chickens from an egg-laying specialised breed. This to me is the single biggest argument for veganism in terms of animal ethics. Whilst this focuses purely on eggs, it highlights to me why vegetarianism is severely ethically lacking. The logic behind the argument is obvious and strong, so please think about this when it comes to questioning the importance of veganism as an ethical movement.

For more information on the fate of males in the egg industry, please watch this investigation by Viva! Just to warn you though, whilst the footage is not gory it is nevertheless very distressing.

Chickens can feel empathy too, shame about the people…

Whilst trawling through the internet I stumbled upon this rather interesting news article. Apparently scientists have now discovered:

adult female birds possess at least one of the essential underpinning attributes of empathy.

Basically this study found that mother hens are distressed when their chicks were disturbed by a ‘puff of air’. Now, I’m no scientist but this study, to me, seems rather obvious? Why is it that we are only now coming to conclusions that animals just might have feelings too?

But should the fact that animals have feelings mean that we shouldn’t eat them? In my research I came across this article on the same topic. Now it wasn’t really the article itself that made me post it here, but rather the insensitive comments at the bottom. People are entitled to their own opinions and I believe it is important to form and stress our opinions on different topics. Everyone’s opinions are valid. However, what gets to me most about negative comments on vegetarian and vegan issues is how uninformed carnivores tend to be. I would quite happily have an in-depth conversation with a carnivore and talk about each others views on the topic but I have yet to come across a carnivore that can form a rational opinion for why we should eat meat that wasn’t born out of his stomachs desire. The fact is most carnivore’s seem to think with their stomachs and not with their minds. They don’t seem to care about gaining all the information and processing it rationally and developing  a sound and structured argument in their favour. The reason? Because they’re ashamed to admit that what they are doing is wrong. They don’t want to hear the copious amounts of research and information because they want to continue what they are doing and so form weak arguments against vegetarianism. In fact, as I’m sure you’re aware, arguing with carnivores is like arguing with a three year old.

The one argument against vegetarianism that makes me mad more than any other has to be this one:

“If we we are not meant to eat meat, then Mother Nature would not have allowed our bodies to handle it.”

The reason this kind of argument angers me is to do with the amount of ignorance this statement generally comes with.If these people bothered to read the literature available, they would discover that actually our bodies are more optimised for plant based diets. The most convincing article I have read on this topic  would have to be this one here. I challenge any carnivore to read this article and then come back to me with their rational thoughts on the matter. Some of the key points this article stresses are:

  • “Our so-called ‘canine teeth’ are “canine” in name only.” This is to say that other plant eaters have canine teeth and ours closely resemble those of the chimp (who are almost exclusively vegan!)
  • “Our early ancestors from at least four million years ago were almost exclusively vegetarian.”
  • “Our omnivorism means we’re capable of eating meat (useful from a survival standpoint if that’s all that’s available), but our bodies aren’t geared for it to be a normal,significant part of our diets.”
  • “Our teeth, saliva, stomach acid, and intestines are most similar to other plant-eaters, and dissimilar to carnivores and true omnivores.”

These are just some of the issues brought up in the article above and I must say it is compelling reading. Whilst the article comes up with a lot points as to why our bodies are more geared towards plant based diets he does go on to say that this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any evidence to the contrary. However, when there is more evidence for rather than against you have to ask yourself this, which is the stronger argument? Carnivores will undoubtedly say their own despite the lack of strong evidence, but in a game of football if one team scores 6 and the other scores 1 the team with 6 goals surely wins? Now you can’t argue with that!

Another statement that particularly irks me is this one:

You know..plants are alive too. They are living things.”

These people are morons. I’m not afraid of saying that. Are they actually suggesting that plants are on the same level as other animals? Do you not regard your pet dog higher than a lettuce leaf? Because to me this is what your argument suggests. Oh, you’re just talking about animals you don’t care about? Right. Got it. Moron. This is a pathetic statement and one that I refuse to acknowledge (except for just now!). It goes hand in hand with this argument:

But other animals eat animals so why shouldn’t I?

Well this is a fine observation and I will give these people a gold star for their observation techniques. They clearly have some thought process. However, what they fail to note is that in the wild it’s all about survival of the fittest. In the wild the hunted have a chance to get away from the hunter if it’s own evolution has served it well enough. Back in our world we force animals to endure no end of pain and suffering, give them barely enough room to stand in, take their young away from them, and force them to eat gallons upon gallons of utter shit and then kill them in barbaric ways, (amongst other vile things that people would rather be ignorant to so they can enjoy there chicken dinner without guilt). Never once giving them a chance. I don’t think you can compare other species to ours when it’s a fixed race all along. And when you show these people the evidence above this argument has little stand on.

Another point I wish to stress before I finish is that the arguments for vegetarianism go far beyond our bodies abilities to simply process meat. It goes beyond desires, tastes, and people’s view of animals. There are environmental reasons for plant based diets. I read that if everyone went vegetarian you could feed the whole world and have food left over. While people still eat meat you can only feed a third of it (This is from a fact sheet from Peta). The meat industry is slowly but surely destroying our amazing landscapes and natures hard work by gutting down trees and preparing land for livestock. When you think about these other factors and results of  the meat industry it makes you feel guilty. In fact, it makes carnivores appear rather selfish, don’t you think?

So I put this last thought out to the carnivores of this world. Whilst you sit there eating your bacon cheese burger, take a moment to think about everything that it stands for. Think about how much of the world you’ve destroyed for your second of enjoyment!

If you’re not convinced, why not ask your doctor about meat, below! Enjoy.

Another attack on vegan health…

A study has been published today highlighting the risk of a low level of omega-3 and B12 in the diet. There has been numerous attacks on veganism and its supposedly adverse effects on health, but this one is pretty amusing as it focuses on heart disease. Now, I’m no medical expert, but it’s pretty obvious that a diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol will result in less likelihood of heart disease. Obviously, there are other factors to take into account but diet is a key one, and I’m pretty confident that eating vegan will reduce my risks of heart disease in the future.

I’m not going to deny the importance of omega-3 and B12 in the diet, and I accept that B12 is fairly lacking in a vegan diet, but supplementation is easy and many vegan foods (such as most soy milk) are already fortified with the vitamin. As for omega-3, providing you’re being responsible as a vegan in what you eat, it is fairly easy to obtain the required daily dose. Flaxseed oil is a worthy supplement to take, just as many omnivores take cod liver oil. Presumably, oily fish is the most prevalent source of omega-3, but even when I ate meat I wasn’t keen on fish and not everyone is. So, this study would surely affect a large number of omnivores too, at least when it comes to omega-3? As a vegan, I use a range of different oils in cooking, omega-3 fortified margarines, and eat plenty of different nuts and seeds: all of which are high in omega oils.

The most amusing thing about this study comes from the conductor of the study, Duo Li – “Despite the fact that vegan diets exclude any foods from animal origin, in his recommendations Li outlined several sources of dietary omega-3 and vitamin B12 sourced from animals.” Thanks for the help there.

I know that the article highlights that vegans are generally at lower risk from heart disease, but constant attacks on deficiencies in vegan diets are beginning to drag me down. It’s so plain to see how many people die every day from excessive consumption on unhealthy, meat-based diets. Surely it’s time to start promoting veganism, and teaching people how to live healthily as a vegan, instead of consistently attacking it whilst the world’s health gets dragged down further and further.

What does “may contain milk” mean?

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As a vegan, I regularly pick up a product which is not clearly labelled, scan the ingredients and find that it is vegan, yet also notice that the product states that it ‘may contain milk’. This is a confusing term, as if a product has no apparent traces of milk in its ingredients then how come it ‘may contain’ it? This particularly confused me when I first went vegan, and tried to avoid all these products. Fear not, for generally when a product says this it’s merely to cover the manufacturers back, and the product itself is very very unlikely to contain any milk at all.

Generally, what this means is that the product has been created on an assembly line alongside other products which do contain milk, or perhaps created using the same machinery. This machinery is usually thoroughly washed before using it to create vegan products. This tends to be for the case of lactose intolerance – severe lactose intolerance may be triggered by the slightest trace of milk in a product, and the reaction could be fatal. As a result, you can be pretty confident that any product you buy which ‘may contain milk’ will rarely contain a trace of the stuff, and this is definitely good news for vegans. The manufacturer is merely stating that in case of an allergic reaction.

Nevertheless, some manufacturers choose not to label products which may contain milk as vegan. A key example which springs to mind is the Co-Op, and their own brand products. Co-Op clearly state which of their products are vegan, and there are many. However, there are actually a huge range of products (such as some cereals) which do not state that they are vegan, but upon inspection actually are. They just contain the usual ‘may contain milk’ statement near the ingredients. I suppose that I should be thanking the Co-Op for making it clear which of their products are vegan, and being so careful about it. After all, if a product contains even a trace of milk then it’s not technically vegan, and they’re steering me away from these products.

However, I am an ethical vegan. I am not lactose intolerant. Would it annoy me if I accidentally ate something with milk traces in it? Yes, it would. But, honestly, what annoys me more is that the Co-Op have gone to so much effort to label their vegan foods and yet I still have to suffer the boredom of scanning ingredients on those products which I’m confident will be vegan in order to be sure. If a product is 99.9% likely to be vegan, then I would call it a vegan product. As an ethical vegan, what’s important to me is where I place my money. I make every effort to avoid buying non-vegan products as I do not want to support the meat and dairy industries. By buying a vegan product which accidentally has the slightest trace of milk in it I do not believe I am supporting a negative industry. In fact, I am showing support for a vegan product. As Vegan Action puts it “Our motivation is working to end cruelty to animals and we don’t feel that avoiding trace amounts of animal products in vegan foods helps end animal suffering” (http://www.vegan.org/campaigns/certification/index.html). So, in my opinion, don’t take any notice when a product says ‘may contain milk’.

Perhaps you disagree though, in which case please do comment to let me know your feelings!

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