The picture above shows a turtle who got caught in some plastic packaging from a 6-pack of cans. It caused the his shell to be misshapen as it grew- but that’s not all. This poor guy’s organs were unable to fully form due to the constriction of his body. Even after he was liberated, Peanut has been unable to live unaided which is really sad. But now he’s being looked after and makes appearances across schools in the US to teach them about what happens to plastic waste! It is pictures like this that really bring it home that our consumption is making animals really suffer.
Now for some happy news! A vegan cafe has opened in Mexico City, and is challenging the eat-obsessed culture. It’s called ‘Los loosers’ and it sounds magnificent 🙂 hopefully this will be the beginning of better availability of plant-based food in the area.
Lots of people don’t have the option of visiting bulk shops where you can fill up your own bags and containers. How do you do your best to minimise packaging and landfill waste whilst shopping at your average supermarket? Zero Waste Nerd tells you how.
This documentary in a nutshell is people telling stories about how they came to veganism. What makes it really special is that it draws from a variety of different people (activists, dieticians, ethicists, athletes, farmers) but feels like an honest, laid-back conversation.
Among the interviewees was a guy who worked his way up from washing dishes to cooking in restaurants to owning his own. At that point, responsible for the most minute details of his establishment, he realised he was authorising the death of animals needlessly. The life he now leads is not only cruelty-free, but he is passionate about organic, local produce that’ll bring nourishment to his customers and honour the lives of the creatures he shares the earth with.
None of the subjects claim to be saints, nor do they preach; they simply tell their stories. They explain how they used to live, the moment they realised that consuming animals was wrong, and why they continue to live that way. Often they mention health, but the overwhelming reason is that, to paraphrase from the film, they finally opened up their circle of compassion to include animals.
The concept of carnism (eating meat) is broken down in the documentary. It requires the covering up of the inherent violence involved in bringing meat to our plates, the denial of the logic that- at least in the west- we would be horrified to learn that the meat we were eating came from a cat or dog, but completely satisfied to hear that the burger we’re eating is made from the flesh of a cow. It’s good to be reminded that there is a whole system keeping people in this destructive practice, but that it’s completely possible to become aware and break free as well.
Watching people, in some cases decades on from the point I’m at, reminded me that my level of compassion still has room to grow and that I have things yet to learn- but in a really exciting way.
I could go on, as usual, but if you’re interested I hope you’ll watch it yourself. It’s available on Netflix UK now.
This is an issue that I was aware of, but never considered writing about until a pang of frustration hit me whilst scrolling down my Facebook feed and I read a post saying something like ‘you call yourself an environmentalist but you still eat meat HAHAHA’. The tone was very belittling and aggressive and I just don’t see the need.
I would be lying if I said knowing what I know now doesn’t make me want to shake all my friends and family and say ‘do you realise what this does to the planet?!’ but that would make me two things; 1) disrespectful of the fact that everyone comes to their own decisions. Just as they respect my decision to not eat meat, I have to accept theirs. 2) arrogant considering that less than a year ago I couldn’t fathom why anybody would want to stop eating meat.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have conversations about the effect of meat eating on the environment, it’ s just about adjusting your attitude. Until every aspect of your life is faultless, it is unfair for you to make anyone feel lesser because of something they do. No one wants to feel that someone else’s opinions are being shoved down their throat, and it doesn’t really work anyway.
So how do you challenge the people around you to think about meat consumption? Here are 3 ways that respect other people’s autonomy:
Recommend a documentary- Netflix was the main source of evidence that convinced me to become a vegan. Unlike books or articles, most people will find it easier to sit and watch a documentary because it’s quick and passive. Whether you watch together or leave them to themselves, the hard facts speak for themselves and it could be the spark that gets their minds ticking. Netflix has a good range of documentaries to suit personality types, priorities (health, planet, animals) and depth of scientific knowledge. I’ll leave a list at the end of this post of places to start.
Be an example- I don’t go very long without having to mention my dietary requirements somewhere, and at least half of the time when I do, someone asks me why. That’s your permission to -briefly- explain your reasons. It might end there, or it might be the beginning of a discussion; either way that person has registered the choice you have made and you never know if further down the line it might trigger a change.
Make + bake- Food is the way to the heart, as they say, and what better way to demonstrate your lifestyle than by showing its best bits? I’m compiling a collection of cake recipes and have made 3 birthday cakes in the last few months for family members. Making food to share with others means that firstly, you can eat it (unlike shop-bought birthday cake for instance) and secondly others will see that veganism doesn’t require any more effort or sacrificing taste.
Basically, stay respectful and remember that when it comes to any subject, we are only ever responsible for our own decisions. A little creativity goes quite far though!
Documentaries to recommend:
Cowspiracy– focuses on the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, quite science-y
Vegucated– an all-round introduction to issues related to meat-eating. Follows a group of diverse meat-eaters as they learn more as an experiment to see if they change their diets.
Food Matters/Forks Over Knives/Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead– focus on the effects of eating meat vs. plant-based (vegan) diet on health. Food matters is stats heavy with lots of case studies and graphs. Forks Over Knives is a bit more testimony based with facts to support. FS&ND follows 2 men’s dramatic journeys towards better health through a plant-based diet.
Earthlings (not on Netflix)– morality/animal focused, it goes through the main ways that animals are used in society (food, pets, experiments etc.) showing real-life typical scenarios for animals. It’s harrowing and exposes a lot of suffering that we are shielded from in everyday life.
It’s about time I did another one of these! I’ve been saving interesting articles as usual, but for some reason sticking them in a post seemed like an impossible feat! Anyway, here’s some stuff I’ve read recently..
Kristina has done it again with a brilliant recipe for fully raw sushi rolls. They look so yummy and more importantly easy. I’ve been meaning to learn more raw food meal ideas as it’s really really good for your health.
Next up is a little story from The Beauty in Simple. This lady made a lacy pillowcase that was just lying in her closet into a dress to gift a friend’s 2-year-old on her birthday (pictured above). She even made sure to employ the straps to make a pouch for her hankies. Star!
The BBC reported in May that a reality check is needed if we want to reduce our emissions in time to save the planet. According to this article, a third of greenhouse gas emissions are created by agriculture.
Rob Greenfield shares his 12 undeniable ways to better health. What I like about them is that they’re not complicated, and the basic premise is being natural and giving your body what you know it needs.
Lastly, I’ve been trying recently to save energy by washing my clothes less often. Some items have got me stuck though because what do you do when things start looking and smelling not quite dirty but not clean either? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO!
Not too long ago I thought that animals didn’t deserve to be abused, but that was about as far as it went. What constituted a good and fair life? I had no idea. What made animals inferior to us in the first place? I sort of just borrowed arguments from wherever. I am now slowly coming to realise that they are far more intelligent and emotionally complex than I ever gave them credit for, and that regardless of their qualities in comparison with humans animals are fellow inhabitants of the earth and deserve autonomy and freedom in their own right.
This documentary follows lawyer Steven Wise and his team who set out to achieve legal recognition of personhood for several apes in New York in order to rescue them from inhumane treatment. Steven started off as a ‘regular’ lawyer before discovering his passion for defending the rights of animals. I had always admired people who worked with/for animals, but I used to think it was a luxury we could only afford to spend our time and money on when we’d sorted humans first, but Wise said something that struck a chord with me; that (speaking for developed countries at least) animals are the only group of beings that are tortured, killed and abused which the law often does nothing to prevent. It made me think about all the animals slaughtered for food, the ones kept in cages in zoos far from their natural habitats, ones that are forced to perform in shows etc. You can pretty much do what you want to most types of animals and there is little or no recourse.
We hear the stories of a handful of apes- all former performers, subjects of medical/scientific/cosmetic testing, and even ‘pets’ of loving owners who couldn’t see past their own needs to the needs of these apes who thrive independently in the wild with their own kind. We see the conditions they are kept in, and their obvious unhappiness. In the course of trying to find individuals to represent, Steven and his team find out several times that apes that they have chosen have died in captivity before the team is ready to take the case to court, which really hammers home why they needed urgent intervention in the first place.
Anyway, on to the hopeful news. The team manage to achieve legal personhood for a couple of apes which allows them to demand that they are released from confinement and live life in a sanctuary which respects their need to roam free in a situation as close to the wild as possible. These cases should make it easier to achieve a proper quality of life that takes into account the rights of the animal before the desires of any human in other circumstances with other species.
Two things I really loved about this documentary: no. 1- Their default way to describe animals was ‘non-human persons’. When you change the way you word things, you are changing the way you perceive them, and if you start to consider animals as persons everything changes. No. 2- The legal team could’ve gone down the route of trying to get the animal rights laws updated, but they decided to go down the harder route for the sake of future cases. By calling these apes people, you are not saying they should have the right to vote, but demanding that they receive the importance of say a child, who does not have the responsibilities of an adult, but is protected and valued all the same. Personhood will mean different things for each species, depending on what it means for them to have a full life and be properly protected.
Before I go on for years and years, basically I recommend you watch this even if you’re a little bit curious, because I was not expecting to get so much out of it but I did. If you’re in the UK it’s currently on iPlayer!
This article based on evidence from Oxford University, claims that climate change will kill about half a million people by 2050. Real and devastating effects have begun and will continue to worsen if we don’t do something, and now.
This next one is something I have on my list of next things to tackle in my life: sending less waste to compost. Here are a few tips on using roots and stems from vegetables and making the most out of the food we buy and grow.
The Picture of Mary, a danish blog (in English) shares a recipe for zero waste crisps! Not an effort I would go to regularly, but I would definitely try it for a treat.
I’m including this last link in here because it describes in a way I couldn’t articulate, that every purchase we make is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. Every time you buy from an unethical unecological company “you’re standing up and clapping long enough to encourage an encore, and an encore is exactly what we get.” Read the whole post here.
When I saw this aubergine rogan josh curry recipe, I fell in love! I didn’t know it was SO easy to make chapatties! Aubergines aren’t in my usual repertoire which is why I’m definitely going to give this a go.
I wasn’t in a particularly emotional mood when I started watching, but I definitely welled up towards the end of this TED Talk by two teenage sisters from Bali who managed to convince the governor to make the country plastic bag free by 2018. They are so hungry for justice and they were prepared to go extreme for their cause. It was such a breath of fresh air to watch, and why I am convinced that while this world is full of bad news, there is just as much if not more good to be found as well.
I’ve never known a subject to be more hushed up than the problems with mass animal farming- I can’t believe I’m still finding out more reasons why it’s bad for the environment! This article I found explains how waste from farms is ruining our oceans.
If you haven’t heard of Earthlings, it’s a well-known documentary narrated by Joaquin Phoenix which looks at all the ways humans interact with animals (food, pets, medicine etc.). You don’t have to do much research at all to establish that this documentary is powerful. And by powerful I mean harrowing.
A few months ago I stumbled across it, got into it, and quickly turned it off! It was too much. Today I thought you probably should know what goes on, Lydia. It’ll help you with motivation, Lydia. I psyched myself back up, and pressed play. I watched as much as I could, and when I couldn’t face to watch, I listened (which was traumatic enough!) I’m glad I made it through. It is horrible to witness, but it’s definitely enough to reinforce why veganism is so necessary.
Everyone should watch this. The myths about the food industry, animal-testing, leather and even circuses and zoos are so prevalent in society and perpetuate the illusion that we can continue to use animals how we please because they are treated fairly or they don’t feel pain or their purpose is for us to exploit them. Mind blown. I don’t have the words to describe how I feel. As a society, we don’t do nearly enough sharing with our fellow humans or earthlings as we should; we take and take, leaving the planet worse off than when we received it.
Before we all get depressed though, there is a lot to be hopeful for! Since autumn 2015, I have discovered beautiful communities of people passionate about the environment and the earth and being healthy and ethical, and they’re growing and gaining strength every day. Living by example and talking about your findings is infinitely powerful. Consumers are powerful and voters are powerful. We need to demand the kind of world we want to live in.