A short story from the near future

loser

“Hey Phil, don’t forget Saturday night dinner with James and Bec”, Angie yells on her way out the door. “You better contact the restaurant today if you insist on having your special meal”.

“Damn her” I mumble under my breath. As if eating out is not hassle enough, without her never ending digs at my food choices. “I’ve already called them”, I yell impatiently. “They said it’s fine and the “cold room” is available”. “Oh great”, Ange sighs as she drives off to work.

They call it the cold room because it’s a cold drafty room.  According to polls, seeing and smelling animal body parts while eating is offensive to more than 80% of people. Also it is now required by law that meat must only be served  in a separate specially ventilated area.  Adding insult to injury is the 25% harm tax on all animal products, which is shared between animal sanctuaries and environmental groups.

Luckily most of my friends politely accept the imposition of dining with a meat eater, although I still have to deal with the routine questions like, “why are you still eating animals” and how are your arteries holding up?” My parents still remember the days when society shunned those who refused to eat  animal products. They called them “vegans”. Those were the days.  Maybe I was just born too late.

 


Invisible Inferno

Invisible Inferno

One day I woke up and found myself living in a different world. It was the day after I became vegan.

The streets looked different. Restaurants bustling with happy people made me feel isolated. Cafe counters chocked full of Dairy Farmer’s bottles conjured visions of beautiful cows with sorrowful eyes. Dogs on morning walks made me start to think about how many dead animals it takes to keep our pets alive. People looked the same, but also different. I never knew what I was contributing to. I wondered, did they?

The thing about becoming vegan, it is not comparable to deciding that you love a certain style of artwork and so ask a friend to join you at an exhibition. It’s not a preference. It’s excluding yourself from a system that contributes to mass suffering. It’s remembering those who are forgotten. It’s looking at all life forms and actually seeing life. And immediately you hope everyone else will see the same. But they don’t. It’s as if you are standing outside a burning building, hearing screams & cries from the inside, and while you frantically look for water and try to help, countless people just walk past. Some are vaguely aware of the flames, some seem to hear the cries, but most are oblivious to the fire completely. You think, how is that possible? Or is there something wrong with me?

Life goes on. Familiarity with the new world gradually sets in. Despair doesn’t subside until you become part of the solution, and you realise being vegan is the least we can do for our animal kin. You figure out that you can be of more benefit to others when you grow within yourself. Family, friends, anyone who is not vegan – it helps to interact with them with the same compassion that brought you to this point. Easier said than done – the horror in your head is mind numbing; but what is life anyway? Perhaps it has something to do with understanding, peace, and love without exception. But also forging new ways, with new people, is almost inevitable on this path.

Time passes, and sadly the building is still alight and the cries as loud as ever. But now you see kind faces at your side, feel a newfound stability within yourself, and have hope each day for this peace-filled emerging world. And thankfully, some have already been saved from the flames.

—-

Tanya S

 


Bunnies 101- episode 2 -Rabbit proofing your home

painting

Bunny 101- episode 2: Bunny Proofing your Home

The ‘Bunny 101’ blogs are intended to be an educational resource for people who have adopted a rabbit as a companion animal. Rabbits are very sociable animals, yet fragile. With the ‘Bunny 101’ blogs, we will take you through the basics of do’s and dont’s of bunny feeding, care and bonding along with other important aspects of living with a house rabbit.

So you’ve decided to adopt a bunny – now what?!

Arriving home
Arriving home

Congratulations! you have decided to adopt a bunny – what joy!

At EVER we recommend you keep your new companion indoors and treat him or her as a house rabbit. There are so many benefits to housing your rabbit inside. This includes safety from predators and mosquitos carrying myxoma or calici viruses which kill rabbits. It means that your rabbit has the advantage of human companionship all the time. Rabbits are very fragile and can get several illnesses, which if not detected early, will cause suffering and death.

Once you’ve made the decision to adopt a bunny companion, there are a few basic yet highly important rules to be mindful of:

Firstly, make sure you take your bun to the vet for a health check-up, this includes teeth, ears – mite check, fleas, and even to confirm what sex your bunny is – this may sound silly, but it is worthwhile. We have known people that have adopted two does, and now have a family of 9 kits – a miracle? Or misinformation?

Bunny Proofing your home is one of the essential first steps to undertake. This means:

  1. Preventing electrical cords from being chewed by the bunnies. This is the main hazard, and can cause severe burns or death as a consequence of biting into a cord.

IMG_4740

This can be done by adding a partition, such as a pet cage; inserting the cords in hard cased plastic tubing available at hardware shops; wire concealers that stick on top of wires and follow the shape of the wall; spiral cable wrap, although beware that this is usually thin wrapping and can be easily accessible after a few chews.

wire

  1. Preventing the destruction of your furniture.

IMG_4738

The easiest way to do this is to provide your bunny with lots of toys and entertainment, such as cat runs and cardboard boxes. We found that plastic protective sleeves around antique tables help as well

IMG_4739

 

plastic tables

  1. Keeping your new companion safe. This means removing poisonous plants.

For a list, check out the list of poisonous plants for rabbits

Now that your house is danger free (note that you will always be learning and improving), and ready to welcome your companion, you have one more thing to do: prepare the litter! YES! you heard me, bunnies can use the litter tray just as cats do. In the next blog, I will show you how to do that as well as construct a hay feeder – stay tuned or register to our newsletter and see a new “bunny 101 episode” each month


Meat and the Environment

IMG_4735

 

When I first heard about global warming, like most of us in Australia, my personal footprint was astronomical.

Here in Australia, we are each disproportionately large contributors to this developing global catastrophe.  This realization was a big kick in the face for me and enough to drive anyone to drugs, alcohol and other emotional consumption. This response of course just makes the problem worse and feeds the shame. For me, the decent way to react to this is to have a serious think about it and the ways I stop being an environmental vandal.  This is a bit of a minefield.
Trying to zoom in on the big areas and the obvious issues seemed the best approach.  For example, when I needed a car, fuel economy and emissions were primary purchase considerations.  I installed solar panels on the roof as I had a good north facing roof ideal for this.  Other things like recycling, not wasting water, choosing environmentally friendly products, growing as much food as possible and thinking twice about unnecessary consumption were all sensible ideas.

There are many other considerations but meat consumption is huge and has now achieved the elephant in the room status.

 

IMG_4737
The excuse of not knowing the environmental consequences of meat has lost its validity. Short of science deniers, the impacts of meat are now  well-known facts.   The 2008 United Nations report found that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transport sector.  Later the report by Worldwatch suggested the UN report underestimated the impact and that at least 51% of all man made greenhouse gases come from animal agriculture. Another sobering reminder of this is the finding from a life cycle study on various foods that 1kg of lamb results in 40 times the emissions of 1kg of lentils.
Some people still try to justify their meat eating with the suggestion that vegan agriculture would require more crops and so do more harm.  In fact the complete opposite is true.  For example approximately 80% of the soy crops grown globally are fed to animals. In other words, meat consumption is a major disproportionate driver of the increase in land clearing, either for the massive amount of crops needed to feed the animals or to make way for pasture for animal grazing. This is only part of why meat has such a major impact on our environment.  To read more, check out our website link on meat and the environment.
The fact is that anyone genuinely concerned about global warming should give up eating meat. It’s not that hard and all the science says this is a very healthy thing to do.

 


Why this Australian Male decided to be vegan.

Rosie
Rosie resident at EVER sanctuary

Exactly three years ago, my wife Reem and I independently decided to go vegan.  Prior to that I was a vegetarian for 7 years which means I have now been meat free for10 years. I thought this was an appropriate time to reflect on a roller coaster ride.

While I did a lot of work and thinking prior, I still look back at the day I went vegan as the day I got serious about trying to make a difference in the world. Leading up to this decision I had done a lot of soul searching and work on myself, which looking back on it, made the decision inevitable.

I explored the idea of selfishness and how it was such a powerful driver of my choices.  I understood it is an essential part of us all but also that it drives the behaviours that are so profoundly destructive.  I came to realize that I could never be satisfied without deep and serious consideration to the harm my choices cause.

Looking back many years, it was learning about climate change that probably got me started. At the time I was a meat eating Aussie, living the dream.   I learned enough to be seriously concerned about the future and to be overwhelmed with a helpless guilty feeling.  The guilt came from knowing the implications that out of all the species on earth and all the humans, and all the countries, my contribution was huge. Seeing that some others around me were worse than me was not comforting.  I decided being an apathetic bystander was a scenario I could not live with.  The natural response was to at very least try my best to be an example and act responsibly.  This led me to the idea of considering the impact of my choices on the earth and the suffering caused. For the first time I had a powerful desire to control my desires for short term gratification if there were negative implications for others.

At this stage I was already vegetarian and then I was given an education on animal agriculture. We were at a fundraiser for an animal sanctuary and they showed a few videos of practices in a range of animal exploitation industries, including dairy and eggs.  There was also information shared about environmental effects and some nutritional facts.   I immediately decided that veganism, and hopefully beyond veganism, was an essential path for me.

Since then, I have spent a lot of time educating myself and looking at all the arguments put to me against veganism. While many of these arguments are wishful thinking some have validity on the surface.  One point often made is that veganism cannot claim to cause zero harm.  Any serious reader in the area knows this is true. Zero harm towards other humans, animals and the wider environment is not a realistic goal. This is particularly true of those of us living in western countries.   Simply building a house, or driving a car is harmful.  The argument gets off the rails when this fact is used to justify very harmful activities.

One example we often hear is that growing food crops causes harm in many ways. This is true.  The question is what does this mean for veganism?  Turns out it actually reinforces veganism as the right and least harmful choice. Exploited animals must be fed, and this requires much more crops than if we live directly on crops, as vegans do. This is an unavoidable fact of nature which is explained in detail on our website (earth tab).   So, first we must accept that perfection is impossible and then commit to the realistic goal of harm minimization.

So after three years of reading, learning and living vegan, I am convinced I thrive on a vegan diet (as expected according to the leading nutritional bodies around the world), and short of  obscure impractical ideas like dumpster diving, there appears to be nothing that comes close to veganism on the harm minimization scale.

IMG_4496
Rick and Salsa
IMG_4514
Salsa, Bobbie, Rosie

50 % of all cafeterias in German universities now offer vegetarian or vegan food

What a breakthrough! If you are a student at a German university and you are vegan or vegetarian there are some great news: 50 % of all cafeterias at German universities offer now vegan or vegetarian food.

This breakthrough has been kicked-off by a German NGO (Albert Schweitzer Stiftung) which has promoted since 2009 vegan food in cafeterias across Germany, in close collaboration with the student unions. At the start it was only an offer to provide vegan cooking training to cafeteria managers at German universities (by the German vegan chef Björn Moschinski). The idea expanded to other university cafeterias and as we can see today, half of all cafeterias in Germany provide vegetarian or vegan food.

As we know from surveys, the majority of vegetarians and vegans are female, young (up to 29 years old) and highly educated. Thus, you might find many of them at universities and consequently, there is a need for vegan food in university cafeterias. Another outcome of this project was a guideline* for cafeteria kitchens that want to cook vegan food on a large-scale. I am so pleased to see this development and hope that more universities realise the increasing need to offer vegan options in their cafeterias.

Tanja, EVER

vegan food

©Einfach-schnell-und-gesund

 

*The guideline is currently available in German. But you might get some more information about it if you get in touch with the Albert Schweitzer Stiftung


Horse abuse or hot flushes – why should females suffer?

For most females, menopause is a difficult transition in life, both emotionally and physically.

When a woman suffering from the symptoms of menopause visits the GP, he/she will only be too happy to prescribe an oestrogen pill or patch to replace the hormone a female’s body should be making. A very commonly prescribed Hormone Replacement drug is called Premarin. This is an oestrogen drug prepared by the pharmaceutical giants Wyeth/Pfizer. It is sometimes referred to as a “natural” drug for women.

Premarin (Pregnant mares + urine) is a horse oestrogen made on specific US and Canadian farms for Pfizer and Wyeth. It is “natural” to female horses (Mares).

Mares are firstly impregnated. When they reach the 4th month of pregnancy and right through to the 11th month, the mares are confined to tiny spaces between metal bars so that they cannot turn around or lie down comfortably. Most stand the entire length of their 6-7 months confinement. Their urine is collected in “pee-bags” which are urine collection devices harnessed to them and which cause infections and painful chafing of their legs. The mares are fed and watered on a time controlled basis. The deprivation of water is so that estrogen is concentrated in their urine.
When the mares give birth, the foals (babies) are removed from their mothers and sent to the slaughterhouse or they are used as replacement for the mothers. After giving birth, the mares are re-impregnated for a cycle of twelve years. After the 12 years, their lives are cut short and they are killed.

 

premarin_collection_winnipeg_v1
Premarin collection device
Mares incarceration for 7 months for Premarin prodcution
Mares incarceration for 7 months for Premarin prodcution

So why should females suffer?

For the sake of relieving one female’s hot flushes or menopausal symptoms, should another female be exploited?

And why shouldn’t cruelty free alternatives be discussed instead?

We invite your comments.
For more information on menopause and cruelty free alternatives:
read what the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have to say about menopause and natural cures.
For more information about Premarin visit the HorseFund.


Are vegans misanthropic?

A recent survey in Germany made me wonder. The question of the survey was: Are Vegans misanthropic?* and it was undertaken with 707 vegans in Germany (445 women, 257 men and 5 transsexuals) between 16 and 84 years old.

Not to my surprise, the results showed that the misanthropic vegan is a cliché and that vegans actually care a lot about their fellow human beings. More than 90% of vegans mentioned that they care about social justice, equality for handicapped and sick people, equality for gay and bisexuals, care about overcoming racism and anti-Semitism, care about gender equality and environmental conservation and are against the exploitation of third world countries. Nearly 90 % mentioned that it is critical to provide support to refugees. Although there was no control group with non-vegans to understand if vegans are more philanthropic than non-vegans, the survey still tells us a story: vegans care a lot about their fellow human beings.

Maggie and Ted. Farm Sanctuary, New York, USA, 2015. Credited to Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

After reading the results of this survey, I wondered, where does this cliché come from? I certainly love my fellow human beings and would consider myself a philanthropic. However, as vegans we might often hear the criticism that we think that we are morally superior to meat-eating people or that we are ‚too complicated‘ when it comes to shared meals in family or friends gatherings. As we question the norm in our world where consuming animal products are taken for granted, can this be a defense mechanism of non-vegans to judge us as misanthropic?

What do you think where this cliché comes from? And do you think it would help the vegan movement to disprove this cliché? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts about this topic.

*The survey was done by www.vegan.eu and www.gleichklang.de.


Bunnies 101- The beginning – her name was Butters

painting

The ‘Bunny 101’ blogs are intended to be an educational resource for people who have adopted a rabbit as a companion animal. Rabbits are very sociable animals, yet fragile. With the ‘Bunny 101’ blogs, we will take you through the basics of do’s and dont’s of bunny feeding, care and bonding along with other important aspects of living with a house rabbit.

As I start writing the ‘Bunny 101’ blogs sharing my experience about house rabbits, it only seems fit to start off with a dedication to that one bunny that started it all. Her name was Butters, she was and always will be such a special soul, and here is her story.

905W9444 (2)

In 2006, while walking back home to the eastern suburbs from a city job, we spotted a little white rabbit on a nature strip on Anzac Parade in Sydney. The strip was between bus lanes and speeding cars. It was a miracle that this little rabbit was alive. She had been abandoned with no where safe to go. The walk home became a sprint home to get a cat carrier followed by a high speed drive back to try and catch that poor soul. Not knowing much about rabbits, but being a fan of bugs bunny cartoons, all I could think of is to lure her towards me with a carrot.  The rabbit was so hungry, she came out sniffing the carrot. I knew I only had one chance to catch her, so with a full rush of adrenaline, I leapt forwards grabbing what I could of her. That was the start of our journey together.

We tried to find her family, we even phoned around trying to place her, but nobody wanted her. We had two cats at home, and we thought ‘well surely a cat will eat or harm a rabbit!’.  The cats were indeed interested, but not in a harmful manner (we later found out that domesticated cats are indeed known to become good friends with rabbits). Our cats, Benny and Champ, had never seen or encountered another specie with such long ears, so we watched closely as she came out of the cage like a champion, sniffed the cats and made herself right at home.

That night I knew I could never let her go and I knew somewhere inside me that she and I will be bonded at a very deep level. That little rabbit became known as Butters. Little did we know that she would be the building block behind our transformation and animal advocacy in years to follow.

Butters lived with us for 7 years. She took us through a roller coaster of emotions, and taught us so much about rabbits. She became very bonded with one of our cats, Champ, who mothered her.

Its only through this bond that we discovered that rabbits are happiest bonding to another. In this case she bonded to Champ. She became one of the family, she greeted us every evening, when she heard the keys in the door, at the bottom of the stairs alongside the cats.

When we moved from Sydney to Berry, she adopted the guest room, and slept on the bed every night, mostly with Champ.

She knew when treat time was due; she knew the sound of a chopping apple and she knew we were too soft to say no. She made it clear to the cats that the prime spot in the kitchen was hers at treat time.

Waiting in the kitchen for dinner and treats
Waiting in the kitchen for dinner and treats

When we came home with our groceries, she would pick the greens she wanted – (well she attempted to anyway).

Her favourite treat was mango peel, she never shied away from grabbing it from us.

She had so many special traits, I kept wondering how people could keep rabbits in enclosures outside, and how misunderstood those beautiful souls were. If only people realised that rabbits are just like a cat or a dog. They are sociable companion animals. We learnt so much by observing Butters. She adopted us as her family (we were possibly the ugly looking bunnies) and we knew she was happy.

Butters also taught us how fragile rabbits are. In 2012, I took a year’s sabbatical from work. Within a few weeks of my time off, Butters fell sick to an extreme case of head tilt that lasted 9 months. I nursed her 24/7 and we became so bonded. I took her to my chiropractor to help adjust her spine and neck, I massaged her neck everyday, and she leaned on me when we went to the garden for walks. There was no advice I turned my nose at, I tried everything and our exotics vet in Sydney was always supportive of our journey together. Head tilt is so common in rabbits, most rabbits get better, but it wasn’t to be with Butters. Whatever the disease was that caused the head tilt spread to her kidneys after 9 months and within 2 days the kidneys failed and we had to take the worse and most difficult decision for her. The hardest decision in my life.

Her legacy now lives on in a sanctuary, and in particular the 13 house bunnies we adopted and rescued since she passed on, and who share their lives with us. Her legacy also lives on in us becoming vegan from a series of events that her life and death lead us to.

Vale Butters 2006-2012
vale Butters  (2006-2012)

A day in the life

Ahhh, it’s the weekend and after the morning feeding and sorting out of all the sanctuary residents, it was time to take a break and head out for lunch at the local veg café.  It feels right to align our lives with respect for all our fellow animals, but today more than usual this interrupted our plans a little.

We headed off down the road, and a few minutes in to the trip, we both spotted a tiny yellow thornbill sitting on the busy road. What to do?  Hazard lights on and Reem sprints back up the road and flags down the next speeding car before picking up the injured bird. Shortly after, a large convoy of motorbikes screamed past. This was looking like a very lucky bird, maybe!   We found a spot to pull off the road so we could check her out.

She appeared to be in one piece and we were immediately hopeful there was no serious injury.  We put her on the ground in front of us and unfortunately she was looking quite disoriented and a little bent out of shape. So I put my finger in front of her and she climbed on it.

Yellow thorbill recovering

I stood in the brilliant sunshine and she just perched there and checked me out for about five minutes, looking pretty relaxed and alert. I showed her a tree branch but she did not seem to want that.  Then in the blink of eye, she darted off with speed and intent, into the woods. We both felt relief and elation that this had ended so perfectly.

This little morning event was just another reminder to us that all animals have their lives to live, and this deserves our respect and consideration.  We find that when we follow these principles, the rewards to our spirit and self-respect are massive.  The feeling of knowing this bird would certainly be dead now if not for our action, and instead is now doing what birds do, is what life is about.  The moments we had, looking at the bird with a sense she knew we genuinely cared about her wellbeing, will stay with us.  The vegan falafel wrap for lunch tasted even better than usual.

As is the case, these days, my partner in crime, was able to capture some of the memories using the smart phone camera.  Hope you enjoy these.