A Major Turning Point for Animal Rights in Australia

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Last night Reem and I watched the Sydney premiere of the new documentary “Dominion” at the Opera House Dendy.  It was a sell-out, and afterwards the director Chris Delforce deservedly received a standing ovation. Everyone owes a huge debt to Chris and his team for gathering and sharing this critical information which we would otherwise be entirely ignorant. After years of great personal risk, (even being arrested and raided), using hidden cameras, drones and recognizance missions (even including divers into fish farms), the truth of animal use in Australia is now out in the open. After watching the movie I can say without any fear of contradiction, the myth of humane animal exploitation in Australia is finally dead.

Like many of us, I grew up being told I needed animal products for good health. At least in the modern world this is now known to be untrue and most informed people are aware that the optimum amount of animal products in our diet is zero.  Also, like climate change, there are no longer any informed people who reject that animal products have an out of proportion impact on the environment. Still, the meat industry grows and Australians keep on eating these products in increasing quantities. The most common reasons I hear are “I like it”, “it’s convenient”, and “as long as it’s done humanely why not?

Now that Dominion is out, this last remaining myth is put to bed and it is hard to see how veganism will not grow exponentially once the information is widely shared.  I say this because from my own reading I know that most humans have an innate natural compassion for others, including animals. This does not mean that I think everyone is an animal lover or even loves people.  I just mean that it is human nature to have compassion, and to wish others no harm. Charles Darwin was probably the first person to recognize this nearly 200 years ago. The evidence in Dominion removes any doubt that cruelty beyond belief is happening on a daily basis, and not far from where we live.  I know this will not be acceptable to any human being with a healthy natural compassionate nature.  Think how lucky we are that we can take a meaningful stand simply by shopping a bit differently and choosing one of so many vegan options which are now found just about everywhere.

The film is a follow up to Lucent, a documentary that focused on the pig industry in Australia.  Dominion takes a much broader look at the animal exploitation industries in Australia.  It covers all the major meat animals (cows, chickens, turkeys and sheep), dairy, eggs, rabbits, goats, fish, sea mammals, camels, dogs, and of course fur. Free range farms are widely represented and there is no good news here.  The movie is a culmination of years of hard work and drive to obtain and share facts to allow people to make informed choices. The team could so easily have been put off by the powerful vested interests but they persevered.

The movie covers the breeding, raising, transport and “processing” of animals, almost exclusively in Australia. Anyone who watches this movie will never again look at any animal product without deep and enduring discomfort. After watching, only creative self-deception will allow anyone to continue thinking that there is a humane way to kill animals who want to live. The movie completely verifies what many already know, that the daily activities in industrial animal exploitation industries (where the overwhelming majority of animal products come from) are inherently cruel.

I will briefly share two examples from the countless in the film that illustrate these points; First is the terrified sheep frantically trying to avoid the stun gun, with the multiple attempts by a seemingly uncaring, annoyed worker. The second is the way poultry (chicken, turkeys and ducks) are processed in the automated slaughterhouses, hanging upside down on a continuous conveyor lines. First they are dipped in an electric bath to stun them but if they lift their head (as many do), they remain conscious for the rest of the process where their throats are cut, and finally they are boiled, sometimes still alive. The footage showed several examples of this in multiple slaughterhouses for all types of poultry.

I talk to many decent people who are still eating meat and other animal products who believe that animal use can be (and is) done “humanely” in this country.  As a vegan advocate for five years now, I have found it hard to influence this entrenched thinking. People seem to genuinely believe it and want to keep believing it, rather than consider change like transitioning to a vegan diet. I now feel that if I can get these people to watch Dominion they will be forced to think again. I believe they will see that this daily domination and abuse of the animals in our care should never be supported.

I am going to put my full support behind the Dominion team because I care about people (including non-vegans), I care about the future of life on earth, and I care about the trillions of animals today and into the future that are and will be subject to unthinkable horrors by humans, for no good reason. Also, what I like about these guys is the apparent lack of any politics. Rather they seem to have a single minded dedication to working hard for the animals and for the far reaching effects that will inevitably follow from a vegan dominated world.

Rick for Ethical Vegan Earth Research

EVER supports the DOMINION MOVEMENT

#WeWillRiseTogether

To watch the Trailer click on DOMINION TRAILER

 

What is all this talk about preachy vegans?

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I think the vegans most likely to be accused of being preachy are the animal lovers.  These are the ones that respect and love all animals and from this base decided it was logical to stop supporting their use and abuse.  I put myself in this category and yes, in my early years was accused of being preachy, or as I see it, I was just struggling and barking up the wrong tree.

I extend my normal, natural innate compassion for humans to all other animals. That does not mean I love them all, I just hope they can avoid suffering as much as possible.   This means I want to do whatever I can to relieve their suffering where I can. As an animal loving vegan I was overwhelmed by empathy having seen and made a connection with the lives and deaths of farmed animals and fish. Before that I was comfortable, reassuring myself that it is just the way nature operates. After much research and watching wide ranging footage of slaughter, factory farms  and of fish asphyxiating on the decks of trawlers, I woke up to the profound difference between nature and what we do to animals.  We unnecessarily and deliberately confine, exploit and kill billions of animals with no justification. For me, to go on accepting this would pollute my mind like accepting the mass murder of people. In the early days of being vegan, this was a difficult awakening.

preachy vegan2To help non-vegans understand, I would ask them to think of their own response to seeing a child being bullied or abused.  We all naturally want to help the child right?  Now imagine you see others enabling this violence to continue.  Consider that this might be frustrating enough to motivate some action, or at least speaking up.

My particular interest is in animal lovers who have not yet made the full connection and are not yet vegan.  I believe that even having a small proportion of these people become vegan would be a profound and powerful step for our society and all life on earth.

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Animal lovers in particular will be concerned about the 150 to 200 entire animal species that go extinct every day. This manmade disaster will have an impact far beyond that on the individual animals.  While this alone is a true developing catastrophe, in partnership with climate change, the entire ecosystem and all animal life on earth is under threat. Intimately related to this is the now complete dominance of factory farming, where upwards of 70 billion individual animals are slaughtered every year, after a short life confined in wholly unnatural conditions.  These two particularly horrifying situations are tragic for all living creatures, particularly animal loving human beings who are able to contemplate the gravity of the situation.

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Approximately 8 million animal species live on earth.  They have evolved over millions of years, each finding a remarkable balance and connection with all the others sharing the planet.  Each species is a triumph of an incredibly slow and complex process of natural selection. Inevitably some species go extinct, as competition, climate, and environmental factors conspire against them. In a balanced healthy ecosystem a few extinctions per year are expected, rather than the current rate of over 50,000.

Massive sudden environmental change is the biggest threat to the animals on earth.  This rarely happens and the last time was about 60 million years ago.  Since then changes have been continuos but gradual, allowing species to adapt. We would expect this to continue except mans impact is so dramatic that countless animal species fail to adapt and die out forever. As a result of what we do, more than 30% of all the animal species will be lost by 2050.

While the animal lovers are worried, the scientists that fully understand the situation are more concerned.  They know that large loss of species is irreversible and has untold impact on the earths ecosystem. Without drastic change, the current situation will almost certainly have a fatal impact on our living planet.  So what is it that we all do that is so destructive?

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Obviously human population has grown incredibly in the last century, which is a factor but the real potentially manageable problem relates to our wasteful destruction of habitat to grow food.

By wasteful I mean that we currently grow enough food to feed 10 billion people but because so much of the crops are used inefficiently to feed factory farmed animals grown for meat, we struggle to feed 7 billion. Destruction of habitat to create pasture for grazing cattle is another huge factor. As it is 1 billion people don’t get enough food today. It is not really the population that is the problem it is the wealthy countries (like Australia and the USA) and their “need” for more and more wasteful things, most notably meat and other animal products.  Per capita, Australians eats more meat than any other country, and disturbingly, this is still growing.  Not surprisingly we also lead the way in climate change footprint with animal agriculture one of the top contributors.

I am an animal loving vegan but I am not preachy.  I just want other animal lovers to know there is a profoundly effective way to help animals and the planet. Personally I feel happy that there is such an obvious and realistic path.  Even when only 10% of the animal lovers on earth make the connection, and start refusing all products of animal exploitation, we have a powerful movement for change that will then grow exponentially. Food producers will take notice and start providing more into vegan options.  We then arrive at the point where all vegan curious people would find it an easy decision to become and stay vegan, and join the movement.  This has certainly started already.  To date I have not heard any other ideas that come close to this. It makes sense, it is ethically solid and it is in line with the basic human instinct for compassion to all living creatures.

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My plan is to keep talking to animals lovers about this situation.  A living earth for future generations of humans and non-humans, is worth the risk of being called preachy.

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For more information, check out our web site www.eversanctuary.org.

Rick – EVER


A path to Inner peace and optimism – without ignorance

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There is a widespread misconception that evolution has made us selfish.  In fact even Darwin himself did not see it that way and it is now widely understood that cooperation and compassion are natural human traits. Our society dupes us into believing otherwise which helps us justify making harmful choices which lead to inner conflict and long term dissatisfaction.

The power of compassion is well known but the messages we receive almost from birth lead us to reject our natural instincts.  Our innate instinct for compassion is not something we can switch off or be selective about without serious personal ramifications.  Natural compassion will extend to all people and all sentient beings.  Anything else creates disharmony and discontent. We can fix this simply with self-awareness and acting accordingly.  The following is a relevant story from my own journey.

11 years ago my wife and I both had jobs in the CBD of Sydney. The daily walk home to Coogee had become a routine.  One day we came across a white rabbit beside a very busy Sydney road. As we approached, she ran away and hid in the roots of a large oak tree so we continued our walk home. We knew nothing at all about rabbits but we knew that she would not survive long there so we decided to return with some carrots and a small cage to attempt a rescue.  The rescue was successful and she lived out the rest of her life in our house, with our two cats. For six years we cared for her through sickness and health and in return we received copious amounts of joy and laughter.  At the end we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.  I now recognize this was an important experience on the road to living in harmony with my human nature.

Shortly after this I became motivated to take a deeper interest in the state of the earth.  I quickly learned that life on earth was being recklessly destroyed by human activity. This in turn led to more learning about animal agriculture and a decision to stop eating meat, and then later all animal products.  These sorts of decisions based on natural compassion felt right and kept me on the path towards inner peace and contentment.

I was learning more and more shocking realities but at the same time I was finding real happiness.  I am now at the point of feeling more optimism and energy than at any time since my childhood. I credit this to my willingness to face reality and to fostering my natural compassion.

So I learned that we humans are causing unprecedented destruction that will before long lead to the earth becoming uninhabitable for most species, including our own.  Three such examples of this, each a catastrophe in its own right, are the decimation of the oceans, species extinction and climate change.  I will elaborate further on species extinction but first a quick pause for some more optimism.

There is a realistic, practical solution to all of these man-made catastrophes that we can all happily participate in.  All we need to do is become self-aware and take steps to allow our true compassionate nature to flourish.  More on this below.

Here are a few current facts about species extinction:

  • We lose 150 – 200 species per day. That’s 1000 to 10,000 times the natural rate.
  • The rate is predicted to snowball.
  • At the current rate we will lose 30% of our species by 2050.
  • With the current direction, before long most life including human life will no long be able to live on earth.
  • Animal agriculture is the main driver of species extinction.
  • We grow enough food today to feed 10 billion people yet we fail to feed 7 billion. One big problem is a huge proportion of our crops directed to animals grown for meat.

Human civilization is now dominated by faceless, heartless corporations.  It is best for them if we remain dissatisfied and continually looking for a remedy, usually in the form of one of their products.  So, brilliant multimillion dollar marketing campaigns are aimed at keeping us wanting more which is often in complete conflict with our nature.

The most shocking example of this is the huge animal exploitation industries like seafood, meat, eggs and dairy.  Together they systematically abuse and slaughter 70 billion very young land animals and more than 1 trillion fish annually.  It is not just the vast scale of this cruelty and violence but also the huge disproportionate destruction to the environment.  Consider that a plant based diet requires 29 times less land than a standard meat based diet or that some studies suggest our oceans will be dead by 2050.  As long as we buy their products we support the cruelty and harm which conflicts with our natural compassion.  We pay a very heavy price.

There are now healthy food alternatives readily available so why do naturally compassionate people support these industries?  At least part of the answer is we have been duped.  With every purchase we deny our nature and our power is taken from us.

I will finish with these positive ideas.

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Adopting a vegan lifestyle is not the answer on its own.  It is just a natural human response in today’s world. It is not just for animal lovers or haters of violence and injustice. It is for every rational person who wants to be compassionate, and would like to enjoy inner peace, empowerment, and great health. The decision to be vegan stops our support for this unnecessary violence and destruction.  It also gives us back our power and enlightens us. This leads to contentment but what is really exciting is this natural way of being is contagious.

For more information, check out our web site www.eversanctuary.org.

Rick – EVER


How Meditation changed my life.

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Science and logic was always my thing. I loved the book, “the Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins. It reinforced my view that life and its meaning can be explained by science. Also, no doubt it helped me feel ok about living what was largely a selfish life. Dawkins was able to explain in a language I understood, how all examples of altruism in nature are derived from a selfish underlying drive from our innate genetic makeup. I felt liberated and validated by this

The day I decided to go vegan was a step into the unknown for me. Leading up to this day, I had started to question everything and think for myself. A new real liberation was beginning. Going vegan was a big whole life decision. It was based on a concern for the well-being of others, who would never be able to thank me. There was nothing selfish about the decision other than to say that I would feel more comfortable not supporting the violence and cruelty inherently part of the production of meat, dairy and eggs. The fact that I was able to make such a decision, was a critical moment in my life.

The decision opened my mind to the possibility that true altruism is a natural and hugely important human behavior. I have since noticed how this is somewhat smothered by our society, or more to the point, the media. This change in my life was quite mind blowing. It was a bit like I had been blind all my life and then opened my eyes for the first time. Truly it was nothing like I had ever imagined but I knew now that all my previous ideas needed to be questioned. How was I going to cope?

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Spirituality was never really my thing but I decided I needed to open my mind to help me cope with my new vision and avoid being led astray again. It seems it is a natural path, when you start to question things and look for answers where the media and cold science has failed. The easiest path growing up was to remain blind and just to agree with what I was being told. Like most boys, I wanted to be like my dad and so dived into science and chemical engineering. All seemed to be well. The day my eyes opened, it dawned on me that in this wonderful world, the earth was rapidly dying, and it was standard human activity that was the cause. The penny really dropped hard when the cold cruelty of industrial farming and slaughterhouses sneaked through my filters. There I was thinking all was well and most people were fundamentally good, suddenly realizing that we were all actively participating in this mammoth atrocity directed at all life on earth. Many would say I am being too negative and melodramatic and I understand why they don’t want to hear this. But the numbers and facts don’t lie. I have chosen to face the truth, and not bury my head in the sand. The big question was, how can I face reality when reality includes horror and cruelty on an unimaginable scale? The story gets much more optimistic and better from here when I found meditation.

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So, my interest in meditation grew and I made the decision to register at the 10 day Vipassana. This is a meditation course in the blue mountains west of Sydney and is run all around the world. I highly recommend it for anyone who is ready. A few words of warning, it’s not what I would describe as a fun 10 days. In fact, it was probably the hardest I have ever worked on anything in my life. It is a silent course. For 10 days there was no chatting (or even acknowledging others), no reading, no phones, TV etc. There was a 4am wakeup call every morning and we received daily instruction along with about 10 hours of meditation. Also for vegans, be aware they serve some dairy products, (which in my view is a complete hypocrisy for a place that speaks sincerely of compassion for all beings). There were two full meals per day, including delicious basic vegan food, and for dinner you would get two pieces of fruit. Yes, it’s a drastic course but the stakes are high and I am so glad I did it.

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I did the course 4 months ago. I now use the meditation practice daily. It fits in perfectly with my new approach to life and desire to face the truth. The more I work on this practice the more positive results I get. The meditation gives me a greater understanding of who I am, and helps me let go of what is out of my control and so focus on what I can change. I am now more comfortable with myself and facing the truth, which is an essential part of inner peace and making a difference……and… having fun is again possible, and I think essential.

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Rick – EVER


Reaching athletic goals with plant-power!

athelet1Elite athletes choose their own goals. They know what they want and they work very hard to get there. They constantly push their boundaries, follow strict training and diet plans und certainly don’t want to take any risk that might be a threat their goals. What an incredible mindset!

I am by far not an elite athlete. But I can say that I admire this mindset and that I experienced a very focused mindset when I was training for my first half-marathon in Melbourne in 2014. I also followed a straight training and diet plan (I was a vegetarian back then) and was dedicated to reach my goal: to run 21.1km in less than 2 h and 15 mins (note: I made it in 2h 2 mins – yay!). Exactly 2 weeks and 2 days before the day of the Melbourne Marathon I became a vegan. You might wonder if this was a wise decision: to change your diet just before a big sports event like this. But I had no other choice. Some circumstances brought me together with some inspiring vegans. I learned facts about the dairy and egg industry and the choice was easy: I did not want to support this industry with my diet any longer.

The really good news was: I was by far not alone! Once I made the decision and looked for more information, I found many (professional!) vegan athletes who explained in interviews or on their websites how a vegan diet changed their lives. You can read inspiring stories about the difference they experienced once they changed their diet to a vegan diet. An enhanced athletic recovery and higher sense of well-being are two commonly mentioned physical improvements. Some, such as Scott Jurek, a vegan ultramarathon runner, mentioned that he acheived a higher performance. Rich Roll, a vegan Ultra- Athlete, is another inspiring story. He turned around his life at the age of 40 after being overweight and living an unhealthy life up to that point. Another example of plant-power is Patrick Baboumian, a German vegan strongman who has broken the world log lift record for athletes weighing under 105kg with a 190kg lift. Or NBA basketball player Ben Gordon, German soccer player Marco Sailer, etc. you name it! You only have to google ‘vegan athletes’ and you will be surprised how many you will find (and they in such an incredible shape)!

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If I learned something in my own journey of becoming a vegan half-marathon runner (non-professional of course): First, give your body some time to adapt to the new diet. As mentioned above, I had no other choice to become a vegan – even if it was 2 weeks prior to my first half marathon. However, I realised as well that my body needed at least 10 days to get used to the new diet while continuing with my daily running training. Second, prepare yourself with enough information about the vegan diet as well as stories about vegan athletes that will inspire you. There is a lot of information out there. This will not only help you to know exactly what to eat and to stay motivated. It will also help you to respond easily to questions from sceptics. My personal ‘superfood favourite’ while I was training for my first half-marathon were green smoothies and my vegan athletic ‘heroe’; well, I actually don’t have a favourite. But I always love to tell that the strongest man in Germany is a vegan. Third, even if you don’t train for a special event, but you enjoy regular exercise, surround yourself with other sporty vegans, such as ‘The No Meat Athlete’ or ‘Laufen gegen Leiden’ (in Germany). You can find such groups in many of the big cities and there is nothing more inspiring than training with other vegans. Lastly, as far as for me, becoming a vegan is still the best decision that I made and I still love the feeling when I reach the finishing line after 21.2 km without having negotiated my values (and I can look forward to a speedy athletic recovery)!

Tanja at the half marathon finish line - Melbourne 2014
Tanja at the 1/2 marathon finish line-Melbourne 2014

Tanja – EVER

 


A short story from the near future

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“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.

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Meat and the Environment

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Rick and Salsa
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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