Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Avon, Estee Lauder and Mary Kay found to be testing on animals

Despite consistent claims that Avon, Estee Lauder, and Mary Kay have halted the use of animal testing in their product development, the three companies have been found to be doing first-hand testing on animals in China.

Chinese laws dictate that all cosmetics sold must pass a series of animal tests before they are to be marketed. The tests all have alternative non-animal methods available, and Mary Kay has been working with the Chinese government to take steps towards the acceptance of these tests. The company still accepted using animal testing.

Avon and Estee Lauder meanwhile didn’t even complain, and got straight to the business of torturing animals as if they’d never claimed otherwise.

We have highlighted before the extent to which companies will to try to cover up their use of animal testing, or their use of animal tested ingredients (a big thanks to Uncaged). However, this is a whole new level of deceit.

Despite having consistently benefitted off of animal tested ingredients, Estee Lauder and Avon have always been adamant that they have halted the use of animal testing for their own benefit.

However, with this latest discovery regarding their use of animal testing in China, Avon, Estee Lauder, and Mary Kay are guilty of straight-up lying to their customers. Anyone will tell you that deceiving customers is one of the most damaging things a business can do.

And why would these companies do this? Profits, plain and simple. China is a huge market which is irresistable, and the idea of extra profits has these companies walking straight over their integrity in order to get to a piece of the pie.

Avon has also routinely been utilising toxicity tests on animals and covering them up. They have explained that utilising toxicity tests has allowed them to bring new and innovative products onto the market. New products = more profit, and animals better not get in the way.

The deceit that goes on surrounding animal testing is disgusting. Customers very rarely approve of animal testing cosmetics. The result is that companies have to find elaborately worded sentences to cover up their usage. They hide their true intents behind semantics.

Anyone who’s ever emailed a company guilty for animal testing will know this. It’s not uncommon to receive an email that is several paragraphs long, which basically states ‘we don’t like animal testing, but we gotta do it!’

As Dr Dan Lyons of Uncaged quite rightly states:

‘Sadly, these large animal testing companies appear to have a policy of systematically misleading consumers rather than responding to their overwhelming opposition to gratuitous cruelty to animals. Given that a large majority of people are opposed to these tests, we believe that we are witnessing a multimillion pound fraud as consumers purchase products on the basis of deceptive claims about their provenance.

My advice is to stay safe. Don’t trust any company that says it doesn’t test on animals in a vaguely worded statement, or a company that’s response to the question ‘do you test on animals?’ is longer than the word ‘no.’

Look out for the BUAV bunny logo, or the vegan society logo to ensure a trustworthy company.

A sign you can trust

The plus-side to this is that hopefully this discovery will result in other companies coming clean about their exploits with animal abuse, such as L’Oreal, Chanel, and Clinique – all of whom thinly disguise animal testing.

PETA – The vegan love-hate relationship

As a 15 year old kid, I was into a lot of punk and nu-metal, that whole thing. I listened to a huge number of bands, and followed them on Myspace and their email lists. For anyone who’s into similar music, particularly the punk scene, you will know about the large proportion of vegetarian and vegan musicians out there.

Some of those bands I loved (and still do love) who happened to be vegetarians/vegans included Rise Against, Goldfinger, and Strike Anywhere, to name but a few. Now, these bands had ties with an organisation called ‘PETA‘ and supported ‘animal rights.’

At the time, that meant very little to me. I mean, I thought hunting sucked, and people who wore fur were douchebags. But I ate meat and loved it, and wore leather without even considering that it was an animal’s skin.

I got an email through from one of the bands to sign a petition against Chinese fur farms on PETA’s website. Thinking ‘right, fur does suck, I’ll sign!’ I opened up the link, and watched the accompanying shock video. Two minutes later, cringing back in my seat from what I had just watched, I signed the petition and began browsing PETA’s site and resources. A couple of months later I was a fully-fledged vegetarian, and a few years after that, a vegan.

In the past week, PETA published this video and campaign:

This is yet another of a long string of offensive and obscure campaigns run by that same organisation that set me on the animal rights trail in the first place.

Other highlights from PETA’s past include a large string of misogynistic, sex-sells style adverts with nude female celebrities, holocaust comparison posters displayed in Germany of all places, and (my personal favourite) a number of anti-video game campaigns against the likes of Super Meat Boy, Cooking Mama, and, most bizarrely, Super Mario.

Tactful doesn't seem to be in PETA's dictionary

I want to ignore, if you will, issues with PETA supporting convicted animal rights terrorists as that opens up a huge ethical black hole surrounding animal testing and morality of methods used to stop it. I know where my opinions lie on these issues, but you should decide for yourself. Just so you know though, PETA has supported convicted members of the animal liberation movement in the past.

I want to primarily focus on PETA as a resource and as an associate of the vegan movement. In this regard, PETA is now something of a joke. The organisation is routinely ridiculed and parodied from all sides (including in an infamous South Park episode), and unfortunately this organisation is now the face of veganism and animal rights.

It’s not just embarrassing campaigns though. PETA is hated by vegans for their policies and treatment of animals. One incident which sticks out in my mind was over a device called the Crustastun. This device, which kills lobsters more quickly and humanely than boiling water received approval from PETA. PETA then hosted an event in which they invited a load of seafood fanatics to come and eat humanely killed lobster, but forgot to get the Crustastun devices shipped in time. So…

  1. PETA, a devout animal rights organisation, supports the killing of lobsters for consumption so long as it’s done humanely.
  2. They organised an event in which they’d use the Crustastun device to kill a few hundred lobsters for seafoodists.
  3. The Crustastun devices failed to turn up, so PETA used traditional methods to boil the lobsters alive, rather than cancelling the event altogether. Wouldn’t wanna upset those seafood fans now, would we?!

Face palm to the max

Despite all of this though I still find myself utilising PETA’s resources on a regular basis. Their animal testing database is woefully incorrect and often contains companies which use animal tested ingredients (I recommend Uncaged or BUAV for trustworthy lists), however it can often be a gateway to finding some companies which are worth supporting.

They also offer an excellent free vegetarian/vegan starter kit, which I still recommend to people looking to go veggie. They also have a great recipe database available online to browse.

Perhaps most importantly though, PETA has brought more light to some abhorrent issues in the world than any other organisation that I can think of. These issues include the Chinese fur farms, animal testing in cosmetics, and Canadian seal hunting. They have changed a lot in these areas, and drummed up a massive amount of support.

Their campaigns in these areas have been relatively mature, intelligent, and well-targetted. I’m sure there are actually very few who don’t back them. Yet then they go and piss themselves by claiming that Super Meat Boy is the most evil character in videogame history, and put together a campaign against the game.

Why does this happen? My thoughts are that, whilst some of PETA’s causes are easy to support, a positive thing is not actually that newsworthy. We love controversy, cynicism, and negativity. If someone fucks up, it’s fun to hate on them. They will be the centre of news attention. PETA is playing on this to grab attention for itself, but is damaging the animal rights movement in the process.

In the end, I feel PETA is kinda like that friend I’m sure we all have. The person you invite on a night out who gets obscenely drunk and makes a massive dick out of themselves (leaving you to apologise to all your other friends for his/her behaviour). However, when you’re in private, they’ve actually got a lot to them, and that’s the side of them that you wish everyone else would appreciate.

Anyways, that’s my personal stand on PETA, and I guess I’ll always feel like I owe them a little seeing as they turned me vegetarian in the first place, but I’d love to hear some more views. What do you think of PETA? And, to you, how important are they as an organisation?

The importance of vegan fitness, and a little motivation

Veganism has again exploded into the mainstream public domain over recent weeks with Bill Clinton’s announcement that he is officially following a vegan diet for 364 days of the year. With support from his doctor, he has effectively reversed cardiac problems that he has been facing as well as dropping a couple of stone in weight. Thus, he has recently become a spokesperson for veganism, albeit somewhat unwittingly.

It seems like at the moment everyone is hanging off his every word on this issue. Many nutritionists are keen to dispute Clinton and his doctor’s claims that the diet is healthy and even heart-disease reversing. Vegans are relishing the fact that they’ve got a former President now backing their diet and ideas. The media and the public meanwhile seem just generally fascinated at the whole prospect – veganism is still not a mainstream diet by any means, and a high profile figure such as this abandoning animal products and espousing the health benefits is an interesting development.

What is at the centre of this fascination though? Is it as simple as the fact that a previous junk foodist has turned his life around? I’m sure this holds some degree of weight – the celebrity culture that we live in entails this. But there is undoubtedly an added degree of fascination over exactly how it has been done – by following a vegan diet. The very same diet that the mainstream media portrays as unhealthy, lacking in protein and various vitamins and minerals, and completely unnatural. Here’s a case of a vegan diet working wonders for someone on the road to heart disease and possibly an early grave.

Veganism gets a lot of bad press, we all know this. Not least though is in the area of health. Consistently, it seems to be believed that by denying meat and dairy one is also sacrificing their fitness. I have met people who have actually told me that they couldn’t be vegan because they play too much sport/lift weights/run marathons. Of all the bullshit excuses I’ve heard, this is pretty high on the bullshitometer, due to the fact that veganism will not impair their activity and may actually enhance it.

You only have to type in ‘vegans are’ on Google, and amongst ‘stupid,’ ‘retarded,’ and ‘idiots’ it suggests ‘not healthy.’

A badly planned vegan diet is not healthy. But what about a badly planned omnivore diet? Haven’t really seen obesity, heart attacks and diabetes plague the former. Sure, there’s anemia, but that’s not too difficult to overcome. Besides, someone who is playing sports or following any kind of fitness regime should be regulating their diet heavily anyway. No one gets healthy and fit without monitoring what they’re taking in on a daily basis.

Now, I’m sure that at some point in the near future I’ll probably write up a list of vegan athletes, or at least write about a few of my inspirations. But for now I just want to write briefly about what fitness means to me as a vegan. I am a keen runner and weightlifter. I’ve never been one for teamsports really, but I love sports where I can set my own goals and tackle them, and I am committed to doing so. However, at no point have I ever felt hampered by my diet.

I ate meat for years, and was very overweight. I turned vegetarian and shed most of that. Yet since turning vegan my progress has been hugely boosted. I no longer feel sluggish and bloated from dairy products, and I’m avoiding cholesterol entirely. People are often surprised to find out that I am vegan. And this is important to me.

As veganism is still a diet that is widely unpopular in mainstream culture, every single vegan is an advert for the diet. Most people only know one or two vegans, if any. If you are that one vegan, they’ll probably look at you and judge veganism based on you.

It is your duty to prove the vegan stereotype wrong. The stereotype shouldn’t be of a skinny, preachy hippie. Prove that veganism is better than that. To me, this is a real motivation to maintain my fitness. If I am vegan, yet can outrun and outlift the majority of my peers then they will realise that something is working. If I am vegan, yet my body is in better shape than those panicking about their next meat-based protein fix then I am doing my bit to smash that stereotype which veganism has acquired.

Every vegan out there is responsible for the stereotype that develops with it. If you are that one vegan that someone knows, surprise them. Prove what veganism can be.

Vegan Black Metal Chef

Today has been a good day. Primarily, this is because I just made some awesome vegan burritos. Also, tickets for wrosie and I came through to go and see Brian Cox do a talk on science next week. However, I’ve also discovered perhaps my favourite vegan cooking video of all time as well.

The Vegan Black Metal Chef is probably my new favourite thing in the world. Forget Charlie Sheen, forget Rebecca Black. This dude deserves to go viral, and he’s representing veganism whilst doing it so let’s make it happen!

In the video, the Vegan Black Metal Chef cooks a Vegangstaz favourite: Pad Thai. As you may know, wrosie posted an awesome vegan pad thai recipe about a month ago, and very little could beat her delicious and simple recipe, so check that out! However, VBMC gets pretty close to this, partly due to his hilarious vocals accompanying the recipe in the video.

Hearing the lyrics ‘then we must press the water out of the tofu, then cut the tofu in half’ growled in a black metal style whilst some tofu is sliced with a sword over some stereotypical black metal intrumentals is probably the most fun you’ll ever have watching a cooking video. Oh and the VBMC himself is of course donning corpse paint and armour. Probably my favourite bit is towards the end. Instead of cooking you have to summon the power of Satan. “You are missing one ingredient. That is of course the heat of Sataaaan! You must summon the dark ones into your dish by any means possible.” Amazing.

This video is causing quite a stir on the internet already, and it’s only been up for a couple of days. Let’s hope this actually does go viral. In fact, scratch that, I hope the Vegan Black Metal Chef gets his own show. Screw Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay etc. etc. This is the kind of cooking show I would actually watch!


Prince Charles is vegetarian… well, almost

Uh oh, a ubiquitous post about the Royal Family coming up. Fortunately it’s not about the wedding…

For a long time, Prince Charles has been the posh champion of environmentalism. Now, I’m no supporter of Prince Charles, or indeed the monarchy, but his activism on behalf of traditional farming methods and organic produce has always been pleasing. Whilst he’s not exactly been my inspiration for looking into environmental issues, nor any of the people I know, it’s still definitely a good thing to have a royal supporting the cause.

A few days ago, Prince Charles went one step further. At Georgetown University in the USA, he gave a speech at the Future of Food conference, which featured a variety of prominent figures in the field of environmental food production including Eric Schlosser (the author of Fast Food Nation), and current generation farmers including author/farmer Wendell Berry. At this speech, Prince Charles reiterated issues he’s spoken about before – sustainability in food production primarily, whilst also mentioning the need to maintain affordability of food.

However, instead of sticking to the familiar adage “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” (or in this case, Georgetown, USA) he instead decided to attack American food production techniques, highlighting how irresponsibility and failure to create sustainable food sources has led to significant problems. He also mentioned how rapidly development is occurring in the US, stating that an area the size of Indiana has been built over since 1982.

Most interestingly though, Prince Charles seems to have recognised the value that a vegetarian/vegan diet can have on the environment. He covered various facts on the resources used in meat production, including “for every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes two thousand gallons of water.” Whilst he is not promoting the cessation of meat production (hence he only mentioned industrial systems) he did call for people to lower their intake of meat, particularly beef, and to only buy meat from organic and sustainable sources.

He won't be eating Tofurkey anytime soon, but Prince Charles is doing these old chaps a favour

Some people in the US are somewhat outraged at his stabs at the American farming system, but it is undeniable that he is right. Why is this important to the vegan cause though? Prince Charles is far from a vegan. I mean, he spends most weekends out in fields shooting stuff. But I feel this is a significant step because it’s the closest thing we will ever get to an upper class, traditional, and posh person promoting the vegetarian cause. There are powerful people promoting veganism, but none of them are from the British aristocracy.

Prince Charles is a member of the Royal Family. This is probably the last group of people I’d ever expect to give awareness to vegan issues, and here he is promoting the reduction of meat in the diet. If you have a spokesperson like that for an issue, then it can go a long way. Already this has been covered in The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper traditionally read by the middle to upper classes on the right wing. Think about all the stereotypical and smug Tory voters reading over that article and thinking, even just for a second, about lowering the meat in their diet.

For that, one puts one’s thumb up at you Prince Charles.

Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding

In my opinion, this one is definitely not to be missed! When I first started vegan baking, I thought this sort of thing wouldn’t be all that easy, but this is literally one of the quickest and simplest things I’ve ever made (as you’ll soon see…), it’s just about getting the right replacements, which isn’t a problem at all:

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 275g soft brown sugar
  • 80g butter replacement – such as Trex vegetable shortening, in which case you use 20% less therefore use about 65g, plus extra for greasing
  • 120g vegan soured cream
  • 1 eggs worth vegan egg replacer
  • 500ml boiling water
  1. Preheat oven to about 180°C/160°C fan-assisted, and grease a fairly large and deep ovenproof dish (ideally 1.5 litres).
  2. Sift flour, soda, half the cocoa and 100g of the sugar in a bowl, then combine butter, sour cream and egg seperately.
  3. Stir these two mixes together, then spread the mixture in the ovenproof dish. Sift remaining cocoa and sugar over the top evenly, and pour over the boiling water.
  4. Bake in the oven about 40 minutes, then stand for five minutes. If this doesn’t taste good enough already, then it tastes even better with a bit of vanilla vegan ice cream!

Vegan Grandpa

Ok, so the last post was about some pretty dark business. In an attempt to cheer you up, here’s a little picture I took which made me giggle. I was browsing the Earthlings Facebook page when I stumbled across this post and a rather amusing reply from an awesome vegan grandpa. Reminds me of one of my very first blog posts about the vegan Granny, Loreen Dinwiddie. Vegan oldies are on the rise, and they’re pretty feisty or so it would seem…

Don't mess with vegan grandads...

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