Why Vegan? Part 4: The Meat Industry

More than 150 billion animals are killed each year by humans. To put that number into perspective, consider this: 1 billion seconds is just over 31 years, and 150 billion seconds is 4753.5 years. It’s a massive number- and these animals do not want to die. They all share the same simple desire to be free from pain and to carry out their natural behaviours, protected from human interference.  It is estimated that 3000 animals will die every second in slaughterhouses around the world. Competition to produce inexpensive meat, dairy and eggs had led to animal agribusiness treating animals as objects and commodities. Most people like to think that their animal products are coming from the small, homely farms that are showed throughout meat-industry advertising. In reality, these farms have been replaced with violent factory farms and almost all meat will come from large warehouses where animals are confined in crowded cages or restrictive pens. The only way this industry can survive is through secrecy: the less the consumer knows the better.

Fish

Fish are killed by the tonne. Indeed, more fish and marine life are killed than any other animal on the planet. Science has proven that fish have senses for detecting stimulation of pain and they have cerebral mechanisms which process the stimulation and provoke negative physical responses (such as violent jerking). Fish have the capacity to experience pleasure and pain: they are sentient.

There are many horrendous methods used to kill fish. Fish caught in commercial fishing nets may be suffocated or crushed under the weight of the other fish. They may also be frozen in the boat’s cooling chambers. When they are hauled to the surface, they will suffer from agonising decompression: their eyes and internal organs literally explode. Fish killed by anglers and hooked lines have their sensitive mouth parts ripped open by sharp hooks. They are then suffocated or clubbed to death. On fish farms thousands of fish are crammed together and forced to swim in circles. In these crowded conditions, 10-30% of all fish die from parasites and infections. Fish are starved for up to two weeks before slaughter to empty the gut and reduce risk of the flesh being contaminated during the gutting process.

The fish humans eat are not the only animals killed during this process. Hundreds of thousands of dolphins, seals and other marine animals die in fishing nets worldwide. Fish-eating species like seals, birds and mink not only lose their source of food, but are actually shot by fish farmers protecting their stock.

Pigs

Pigs are incredibly intelligent creatures, who can spend hours playing and exploring their surroundings with their keen sense of smell. In a trade journal, hog farm manager John Byrnes once said “forget the pig is an animal. Treat him just like a machine in a factory”.

Sows used for breeding are forcibly impregnated throughout their lives. Against her will, a long steel device will shoot hog semen into the sow’s vagina. She will be forced to produce twice as many piglets as she would in the wild. Sows are separated from their babies soon after birth. Normally, piglets are weaned after 4-5 months, but in the meat industry it can be 4 weeks or even less.  Although gestation crates have been phased out across Europe and in some parts of the US, sows are still severely confined. As soon as their reproductive capacity is exhausted, they are sent for slaughter.

Shortly after birth, male pigs are mutilated in various ways by unqualified workers who rarely use anaesthetics. Tail docking involves holding the piglet upside down and cutting their tail off. This is done to prevent tail biting, which is common in the overcrowded, unnatural conditions that they are forced to live in. Pigs are also known to fight and bite each other, so 2-8 teeth are cut off so that they cannot pierce each other’s flesh. Teeth clipping also allows mothers to nurse more piglets, because there is reduced wear and tear on their nipples. Ear notching is the practice of ripping out a portion of their ears to mark them. They also have their testicles ripped out in a sick attempt to pacify the industry-induced anger.

Beef cows

Cows are very sociable creatures capable of recognising each other and establishing strong relationships that can last a lifetime. Calves for veal are removed from their mothers to be bought and sold soon after birth. Separating a child from their mother, especially at such an early age, is one of the cruellest things anyone can do to a human or animals. Mother cows have been known to scream for weeks on end for their lost baby and the confusion and anxiety that the calf must feel is unimaginable. Most cows will have their horns cut off at some point during their short lifetime. “Disbudding” will involve the use of saws, horn shears, or even cutting wire. The horns contain blood and nerve endings, so they have to be cauterised to stem the bleeding. Cows will be castrated by crushing the spermatic cord of each testis, or by using a tight rubber ring which restricts blood flow. Cows are first allowed to graze in large fields, but are eventually moved to dirt-covered feedlots for the last 10 months of their lives until they are sent for slaughter.

Birds

Chickens, turkeys and ducks are also sociable creatures, who like to forage, bask in the sun and be with companions. In the meat industry they are deprived of freedom and cannot exhibit their natural behaviours. Ducks, for example, have a natural desire to keep clean with water. Because they are reared without water they suffer greatly due to frustration. Chickens are crammed into cages or huge sheds (even in “free-range” farms). There is approximately half a square foot of floor space per bird, which is equivalent to half an A4 sheet of paper. In such crowded conditions, waste accumulates, and the resulting ammonia causes painful burns to the birds’ skin, eyes and respiratory tracts.

Chickens have been selectively bred to be ready for slaughter in a third of the time it would take the traditional broiler chicken. As a result, they gain too much weight and struggle to move. Heart attacks are common. Despite the immense suffering this causes, it is the most profitable way of raising chickens. Their legs cannot support the weight of their bodies and they will be “in chronic pain for the last 20% of their lives.” The breeding hens are severely feed-restricted to avoid reproductive problems and lameness (which is caused by obesity).

IMG_0167[1]

To cut losses from birds pecking each other in the stressful, overcrowded conditions, farmers remove a third to half of the beaks of laying hens, breeding chickens and most turkeys and ducks. They are given no pain relief. Their beak will be partially amputated, usually with a heated blade or with a laser infrared beam. Farmers may also use a powerful electric spark. The birds will suffer severe pain for weeks and many are unable to eat and starve.

Other animals

As well as the animals mentioned previously, a number of other animals are victimised for their flesh and the products of their body. These include rabbits, dear, woodpigeons, ostriches, and even many insects like bees, lac and cochineal.

Problems with raising animals for meat

mutilations and more

Control

Every aspect of raising animals for food is controlled. Farmers artificially inseminate animals, they genetically modify their animals and they even castrate them. Natural reproduction is almost obsolete, because the meat industry cares only about profit. Animals have been altered to produce more meat, more eggs, more milk, more wool… and in a shorter time. And the animals always have to suffer because of this. As soon as animals become spent and less profitable, they are always killed and replaced by younger, more efficient animals. When an animal reaches the market weight, there is no need for the industry to keep them alive, so they are immediately sent to be slaughtered.

baby eaters and lifespan

Feminism

Pattrice Jones once said that “woman and animals- along with land and children- have historically been seen as the property of male households. Both women and animals are seen as less rational and both suffer by being reduced to their bodies, or even worse their body parts.” Animals’ reproductive organs are exploited. The females are raped, they have their babies stolen, and are exploited for their milk. If true feminists really knew what happened to these animals, I have no doubt that they would go vegan.

sexual abuse

 For more information on this, read:

http://gentleworld.org/to-be-a-feminist-is-to-be-a-vegan/

And this book:

Lisa Kemmerer- Sister species: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sister-Species-Animals-Social-Justice/dp/025207811X

Farmed animal feed

The feed for farmed animals varies greatly. When people buy “organic chicken”, they like to imagine that this chicken will have improved welfare. In reality, it will probably just have been fed more organic feed. Animals may be fed forages (like grasses), cereals and other home-grown crops, and products and by-products of the food and brewing industries. These are foods not suitable for human consumption. They can include manure, animal blood, and ground up bodies of diseased animals to name just a few. Much of this food is nutrient deficient, so animals are often supplemented to help prevent diseases of deficiency.

For a more in-depth look into animal feed, check out this official article:

http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/farmingfood/animalfeed/what-farm-animals-eat

And this video:

Psychosis

Among almost all farmed animals, neurotic behaviours are common. In the confined, unnatural conditions they live in, animals may become frustrated and aggressive (hence why beaks, teeth and horns are cut off). They display a variety of symptoms like chronic stress and neurotic coping methods, such as bar biting and sham chewing (chewing nothing) that can be compared to depression, and even suicidal behaviour.

For a more detailed look at this issue check out the following links:

http://circuswatchwa.org/zoochosis.htm

http://www.academia.edu/4540934/Depression_in_Caged_Animals

Transportation

When animals are transported to the slaughterhouse, they are crammed into slatted trucks and forced to travel long distances of 10 hours or more. They have to stand in urine, faeces and vomit. Those that fall and can’t get up may be trampled or suffocate. In different areas and times of year, they are often exposed to extremes of temperatures. Hot weather and humidity causes severe dehydration which is most deadly for pigs. In the US, for example, approximately 200 000 pigs die every year on their way to the slaughterhouse. Animals can also suffer from frostbite and even get frozen to trailers and cages. The animals will usually go 12-18 hours, sometime even days, without food. They arrive at the slaughterhouse injured, weak, starved and severely dehydrated only to be forcibly moved by handlers. If the animals won’t move, handlers will grab animals by the hind legs.

Slaughter

Whether free-range, local, organic or factory farmed, the survivors of this cruel industry will be killed. The animals will smell, hear and see the slaughter before them. As they struggle, they are often abused by frustrated workers who are under constant pressure to keep the lines moving at rapid speeds.

they do not want to die

Mammal slaughter

Stunning is a common practice in the meat industry, but it is not what people have been made to believe. An electric current will be used to induce a heart attack and/or seizure. Captive bolt guns are used to deliver a blow to the skull or shoot a rod into the animal’s brain. Most animals have to endure 1-2 failed stuns and a failed electrical stun will cause animal paralysis, but the animal will not lose sensibility. Unconscious animals whose necks are not cut soon enough may regain their senses after being hung on the bleed rail. The Washington Post reported that, “Hogs, unlike cattle, are dunked in tanks of hot water after they are stunned to soften the hides for skinning. As a result, a botched slaughter condemns some hogs to being scalded and drowned. Secret videotape from an Iowa pork plant shows hogs squealing and kicking as they are being lowered into the water.” The myth of painless slaughter holds little real value. The killing process is never simple, because these animals do not want to die.

Religious slaughter

Kosher and halal practices are just as violent as common slaughter. Halal animals are killed with a knife and a prayer. The animals are often fully conscious while their throats are cut. This is supposed to induce rapid loss of consciousness, but it is known that the animals still have sensibility ranging from 8-120 seconds.

For more information on this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27324224

Bird slaughter

Birds are immobilised by electrical stunning. Hanging in shackles, the birds’ heads are passed through an electrified water bath. When their wings violently flap in fear, birds have been known to dislocate joints and break bones.

Legal protection

In most countries, animals in factory farms receive virtually no legal protection. This section of Gary’s ADAPTT provides more detail: “Were you also aware that animals in the meat, dairy and egg industries receive no legal protection whatsoever? After all, slavery and slaughterhouses cannot co-exist with freedom and protection. Here’s an excerpt from section two of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the federal law that oversees animal-use in America: “When used in this act, the term “animal” … excludes farm animals, such as, but not limited to, livestock and poultry used or intended for use as food …” That’s pretty cute, isn’t it? The animals who are enslaved or eaten aren’t even recognized as animals under the law. Does this remind you of another piece of legislation that ignored the victims and existed to shield victimizers from prosecution? When the Constitution was first enacted, only land-owning, slave-owning, white men of European descent were protected. Blacks, Natives, women and many others were conveniently excluded.”

Even when there are welfare laws in place, it is virtually impossible to enforce them properly. As I’ve described previously, the meat industry is a business and money ALWAYS takes priority over the animals.

For the current UK laws regarding animal welfare, see this:

http://alaw.org.uk/journal/alawjournaljune07.pdf

And this document highlights the problems with such “laws”:

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/includes/documents/cm_docs/2008/a/animal_welfare_problems_in_uk_slaughterhouses_2001.pdf

“Humane slaughter”

IMG_0408

Almost all the cruel practices I have explained apply to “humane” meat products. If read in their entirety, the two links above should be proof enough that there is no such thing as humane animal products. Labels like “organic, grass-fed, local, free range…” mean nothing and people should not waste their money on them. These labels were created solely to make more money. For example, consider this:

humane vs ordinary cows

free range bullshit

A note about different countries

Most people buy meat from a number of countries around the world without even realising it. Since I’m from the UK, a large portion of the research that went into this post has come from UK sources. That being said, I have also included many practices from all around Europe and the US. The UK is one of the best for animal welfare in the world, and the practices are still beyond brutal. All around the world, animals are being tortured and murdered. The methods may vary slightly, but the same basic evils are committed over and over.

Conclusion

It wouldn’t matter if none of these violent practices existed; even if we somehow didn’t have to rape animals and steal their babies; even if we didn’t drive animals insane through endless confinement; even if we didn’t cut off animals’ horns, beaks, tails and testicles. It wouldn’t matter, because it would still be theft, slavery and exploitation. But they do exist.

And it needs to stop.

pro animal abuse

More information about the meat industry

Overviews of meat industry:

http://veganoutreach.org/modernfarms/

http://www.animalequality.net/food

A detailed booklet about factory farming from Animal Aid:

http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/booklets/troublefarming.pdf

In the Ultimate Vegan Guide there is extensive detail about factory farming:

http://www.vegan.com/ultimate-vegan-guide/chap2/

More concise info on factory farming:

http://www.factoryfarming.co.uk/

http://www.worldanimalprotection.org.uk/campaigns/factory-farming/life-inside

This site has information on birds, pigs, cows, sheep, aquatic animals, the free range myth and the why and how of veganism:

http://www.govegannow.com/index.html

This brilliant site has information about factory farming, animal sentience and more…

http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Animal_Rights%20factory%20Farming%20.htm

http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Sentience_in_farm_Animals.htm

Video and information links about UK factory farming:

http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/CAMPAIGNS/factory/ALL////intro.htm

This website exposes the lies of the “humane” movement:

http://www.humanemyth.org/index.htm

This official site has information about the different animals and how they are used in the industry:

http://www.ukagriculture.com/livestock/livestock.cfm

Videos about the meat industry:

Animal Aid secret videos of UK Slaughterhouses:

https://youtu.be/59jch3CNchM

https://youtu.be/ECJwRKngYBs

“Humane” slaughter (US):

https://youtu.be/bCcUV-Yg-bc

Life of a meat chicken:

https://youtu.be/rpbtBgLfl90

Video with all aspects of the meat industry:

https://youtu.be/C8q5pDiglIA

Undercover footage of a number of different slaughterhouses:

http://www.mercyforanimals.org/investigations.aspx

And the two greatest videos available:

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Why vegan? Part 3: Ethics and Speciesism

 “We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion they would depict the devil in human form.”

 William Ralph Inge

Most people when they look at a dog, a cat, a rabbit or a dolphin are filled with feelings of love, affection and awe. But then they can look at a pig, a cow or a chicken and all they want to do is eat it. That’s all it is to them. No thoughts about how cute they may be, how playful, how curious, how much they value their own life.

a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy

The truth is, there is no difference between a dog or a pig, and if you want to base it on intelligence, then technically the pig wins. But ultimately, intelligence doesn’t determine moral value. Somewhere along the way humans chose their victims to be pigs, cows, chickens… and then chose the ones they wanted to be kind to… like cats and dogs.

speciesism hippocrisy

 

Speciesism:

speciesism comparison

In the introduction to this series, I demonstrated what speciesism is. Speciesism is just another form of discrimination… saying humans are superior to animals based on irrelevant factors. Just like how a racist or sexist believes his race or gender is more superior than all the others, a speciesist believes that because he/she possesses certain qualities, they have the right to harm and abuse those deemed lesser.

speciesism picture

 “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons, they were not made for humans anymore than black people were made for white or women created for men.”

 Alice Walker

Does this remind you of anything?

One of the worst racists of all time was Adolf Hitler: he believed that his “master race” of Aryans were physically, morally and intellectually superior (just like how we see animals) and he decided he didn’t like certain minorities, so he killed them. To his blind supporters living in Nazi Germany, his absurd justifications made perfect sense…

 

hitler was legal

And the truth is that saying pigs can’t build computers, that chickens can’t drive cars- they’re all just pathetic excuses for trying to justify violent, selfish addictions. In the end, they’re innocent. Cows and pig and chickens never try to harm us. They just want to live happily: free from harm and human interference.

There is no excuse for killing these animals. It’s all irrelevant. Because every sentient creature has the basic right to be alive. Who are we to violate that right?

Slavery:

And the way we treat animals… is it not just slavery? Using every last part of them, exploiting them in every way possible. For selfish greed. For profit. They have been comodified for so long that most be people aren’t even able to comprehend it. When you see a dairy cow, all you really see is a milk machine, when you see a chicken all you ever see is an egg machine. And the truth is, as soon as these “machines” slow down the production of the things we value them for, they’re thrown out, just like a broken old phone; they’re sent to be killed for cheap meat. Animals are victims, the most oppressed beings of all time.

slavery today

“In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.”

 Ruth Harrison

And so many people want to think that they can call themselves animal lovers and still consume animal products, as if cuddling a puppy excuses paying someone to stab and kill a pig. You can’t honestly have respect for animals whilst eating them. Calling a meat eater an animal lover because they love their pets is like calling Hitler a humanitarian because he took care of his Aryans. It’s an oxymoron.

animal lovers

“But they said it was ‘cruelty free’…”

Before I get into what goes on in the meat, dairy and egg industries, I just want to clear up something about all this humane, cage-free bullshit that’s going around these days.

IMG_0398[1]

That stuff doesn’t exist. It’s all just propaganda.

As Gary Yourofsky says in his life-changing speech

“By definition alone, slaughter and slavery are radically cruel and can never be humane even if animals live on free-range/freedom/organic/cage-free/antibiotic-free/hormone-free/grass-fed/local farms, or are murdered with a ‘knife and a prayer’ in accordance with ancient religious blood-draining customs. If animals go into slaughterhouses alive and come out chopped up into hundreds of pieces, how could anyone claim that they aren’t being mistreated, abused, tortured and terrorized? How in the world could SLAUGHTERING BILLIONS of INNOCENT beings be done with love, humanity and concern?”

Animal rights is a justice movement whose time has come.

historical refererences

For more information on ethics and speciesism, study the following videos and articles:

Gary Yourofsky’s speech:

Philip Wollen’s speech:

Earthlings:

Bite Size Vegan on ethics and morality:

(and the whole Bite Size Vegan playlist:)

And check out the Ethics, Laws and Traditions section of Gary’s ADAPTT:

http://www.adaptt.org/veganism.html#

Why vegan? Part 2: What is veganism?

Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom.

vegan picture

Like vegetarians, we don’t consume the flesh of any land or marine animal. But we also don’t eat eggs, dairy or honey. We also refrain from buying animal fur, feathers or skin (like leather). And we do not support animal testing via dissection or vivisection. There are very few who are raised vegan. And few go completely vegan overnight. We all have our own personal journeys.  For most, Veganism happens when someone looks at an animal and realises: “they exist for their own reasons. Who am I to think that they were born just to die for me?”

When you wake up and realise what’s happening to animals, the systematic physical and emotional torture and murder of over 150 billion animals a year, you realise that it’s time to realign your beliefs with your actions.

Because I believe that most people don’t really like the idea of shoving a knife down another creature’s throat, but it’s too hard to think about. So rather than attack the problem at the source by ending the addiction, they make excuses and fight as hard as they can to maintain these excuses. People just say to themselves that in this day and age it can’t be that bad anymore, that there are laws in place protecting animals, that the government wouldn’t let anything that bad happen. It’s all “humane” these days. But the thing is: it’s even worse than you’ll ever imagine. It’s all lies- because slavery and slaughter can never ever co-exist with freedom and compassion.

When the pain of contributing to the suffering becomes greater than the pain of giving up animal products: that is what veganism is.

Why vegan? Part 1: Introduction

Questions:

If you could save 1000s of lives just by giving up your favourite food, would you?

If you were going to die of an horrific illness and the only way to save yourself was by giving up meat, cheese milk and eggs, would you do it? Or would you hold onto your old habits and addictions and go selfishly to your grave?

If one of your family members were going to die- your parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents- and you could save them by simply giving up these same animal-derived foods, would you do it?

And now: if one of your closest friends were to endure a similar fate (this is not a quick painless death… I’m talking about something slow and very painful) would you give them up?

And now I’m going to take this out a little broader: what if you could save 100 innocent people dying of thirst and starvation in a distant country?

Now a question that addresses those with companion animals (like dogs, cats, or rabbits): I understand a lot of people vary in their relationships with their “pets”, but if they were dying of a painful disease and the only way for them to regain their health was for you to stop consuming animal products, would you do it?

If you could save 200 dogs or cats from this, would you do it for them?

Finally, if you could save over 200 animals a year, including cows, chickens, pigs, fish, would you eliminate animal products from your life?

And if not, I think you should really look at yourself honestly and ask: why not?

blindness

Can we really save the world?

All hypothetical questions, but if you stick with me for the rest of this series and keep an open mind, I promise you that you’ll find that these questions are a lot less hypothetical than you’d think.

What if I told you that with veganism, we could prevent, treat and reverse almost all the major diseases. That you could save your own life, your family’s lives and the lives of everyone around you?

What if I told you we could help end world hunger, thirst and poverty in 3rd world countries?

What if I even told you that we could save the environment from becoming almost uninhabitable?

What if I told you we could stop more than 150 billion land and marine animals from being enslaved, tortured and slaughtered every year?

What then?

Would it make a difference?

How do you become an activist?

 

This blog is all about activism, so it makes sense to get right into it…

 What is an activist?

There are a good few definitions of what activism actually is, but I’m going to start by describing it the way I see it:

Put simply, activism is about using your passion, skills and knowledge to make a positive change in the world. An activist may be someone who goes out on protests and carries out direct action, but more often it is someone who just does what they can to make change and spread their message to others around them.

I believe the two best resources for this topic are How to Do Animal Rights (which is available for free both online or to download at www.animalethics.org.uk) and Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism (which can be bought from various book shops and of course Amazon and eBay).  I’m currently reading both of these, so I will be writing about what I’ve learnt from them some time in the future…

activism bookHTDAR book

A look at some successful activists:

There are a lot of animal rights activist that I admire greatly. I’m going to give a few in-depth examples of how people from all walks of life have made a difference for the animals, which will hopefully provide some inspiration for taking action yourself…

Gary Yourofsky

Gary did a degree in journalism before he became interested in animal rights. At the start of his career as an activist, Gary took part in a number of protests and carried out direct action on several occasions. He was arrested for liberating milk from a fur farm in 1999. He is an exceptional writer and speaker, and has founded a website and given over 2500 lectures to more than 60,000 people. His speech went global when it was posted on YouTube and since then has been regarded as one of the most influential animal rights activist of all time. Recently, he has even joined social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

I highly recommend watching his speech:

 

And visiting his website and YouTube channel:

http://adaptt.org/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLW0TEV3YEt-J56pYZm-TgA

Timothy Shieff

Tim “Livewire” Shieff is a world champion freerunner and founding member of Storm Freerun. I met him last year at the London Vegfest and he’s such a kind, genuine human being. When he went vegan around 2 years ago, he used his fame, YouTube videos and athletic abilities to make a difference for animals. Many uneducated non-vegans question the effects of eating plant based foods on the body, and Tim has disproven this countless times, with his career soaring after eliminating animal products from his diet. With his amazing strength and fitness, it is impossible to question if his protein intake is sufficient.

Tim frequently makes videos about his compassionate lifestyle and talks about veganism and animal rights. He even shares vegan recipes through Jamie Oliver’s Food and Drinks Tube. A scroll through his video comments shows that his fans have massive respect for him and are taking his message on board. Tim still remains to me one of the most inspiring animal rights activists alive today.

I recommend subscribing to him (especially if you’re interested in parkour and freerunning) at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoLwWY9zQ7Jp8aDtYUszmYg

Emily Moran Barwick

Founder of Bite Size Vegan, Emily began making YouTube videos with the concept of providing “fun, friendly videos in under 5 minutes”. Her videos are absolutely amazing and incredibly well researched. With Bite Size vegan, someone can learn just about everything about veganism and animal rights in just over an hour. She has since created a website and her videos are reaching more people than ever. She began with an incredibly limited experience of editing and recording, but made videos regardless of this. She is proof that anyone can make a difference no matter how experienced they are.

Emily has put her videos into playlists, such as “Vegan ethics and morality”, “Vegan social and environmental impacts” and “Vegan health, nutrition and fitness”, so check some of them out:

https://www.youtube.com/user/BiteSizeVegan/playlists?sort=dd&view=1

Her speech at Vegfest is an excellent guide to becoming an effective digital activist and I recommend watching it:

Goldfinger, Moby and Morrisey

As a musician myself, it always fascinates me to see how other composers and song-writers incorporate animal rights into their work.

John Feldman is a passionate activist and has written a number of amazing songs about animal rights and animal liberation. If you’re new to Goldfinger, check out the music video of Free Me, which contains videos of animal abuse.

Open Your eyes is also a powerful song.

You can find out a lot more about him by watching the documentary Behind the Mask:

 

Moby is another brilliant activist, who constantly speaks up for animals. I think one of the most powerful things he has done was composing the soundtrack to Earthlings For me, his soundtrack really allowed what the narrator was saying to stick with me.

“Earthlings is the single most powerful and informative documentary about society’s tragic and unforgivable use of nonhuman animals”

Although I don’t think Morrisey is actually vegan, I’ll still mention him here, as he has also made a good contribution for the movement through his activism as a musician. In a recent concert, he demanded that there would be no meat products sold in the venue, which sparked off a lot of thought for those attending.

IMG_0585[1]

Freelee and Durianrider

Freelee the banana girl and Harley the Durianrider, are infamous for their controversial and brutally honest approach to spreading the vegan message. They both promote a healthy, sustainable high-carb vegan lifestyle. While some of their daily vlogs can get tedious, they do have so many useful videos on animal rights and vegan living. As I said before with Tim, these are incredibly fit athletic people, and I don’t know of many meat-eating cyclists who could out-ride Durianrider.

Here are their channels:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_K0S2GbXYI9Fc77d6oRE7w

https://www.youtube.com/user/Freelea

In this video, Durianrider tells the crowd to go vegan after he wins a running race:

James Aspey

James Aspey was originally a personal trainer. When he found out about veganism and animal rights, he was eager to tell others and show the world how easy it is to thrive on a plant-based diet. He decided to take a vow of silence for an entire year while travelling around the world. He created Voiceless365, and wrote many blog posts sharing his journey with others. His voiceless animal rights activism attracted a great deal of attention and now that he has finished it, he has been using his voice to educate people about the real voiceless victims: the animals.

Here’s his YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcKFPLxaWvKMwbjd5GjhzKg

And his website:

http://www.voiceless365.com/

What can I do?

As you read these words, millions of animals around the world will be abused and killed; male chicks will be ground up alive, dairy cows will be raped and have their babies stolen, pigs will have their testicles ripped out and mice will be mercilessly tortured in the name of science.

And yet they are voiceless victims.

I am their voice

We must speak up and become their voice. We must use whatever we have in the time that we can spare to make sure people realise this is happening. We must stop this evil.

Because if we don’t who will?

There are so many ways we can change the world. All it takes is the passion to speak up even when no one will listen. Let’s stop making excuses.

What will your contribution be?

 

Plans for 2015

So, I’m hard at work on a number of different posts, but in the meantime, I’m going to share my goals for the year in terms of activism, veganism and this blog…

“Becoming an Activist”

I’ve got a lot of creative ideas for this blog. I’m aiming to write a number of serious, well researched articles. But I’ll also be posting lots of regular updates of what I’m up to, general animal rights news, and just about anything that I feel the need to share.

I’m in the process of writing a big post on the what, why and how of activism and that’s going to have a number of short activist biographies from those I’ve been inspired by. After that, I’ll be posting a series of articles on the what, why and how of veganism, which will include a detailed look at the lifestyle I lead. From there, I’ll be broadening the blog out to whatever happens at the time.

Some of the things I’ll be sharing include:

-Recipes and foods I’ve tried and enjoyed

-Books I’m reading

-My activism

-Recommended videos/articles…

And so much more!

2015 Goals:

  • Attend Animal Aid School Speaker workshops and begin to give talks and cookery demos to students in primary and secondary schools.
  • Write a speech on veganism and animal rights
  • Make a long YouTube video based on the speech
  • Start making YouTube videos
  • Join a major animal rights group and contribute to their activities
  • Start leafleting
  • Read more activism, veganism and animal rights books
  • Compile a set of recipes

There are definitely a lot of challenges ahead, but I’m very excited to get started, and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have made myself proud and made a significant difference.

one step

As much as I’d love to post something new every day, or even every week, I am a busy student, so there’ll be times when I can’t find the time to post regularly. But don’t worry, I’ll always come back…

Expect some good content soon!

Vegan love

Michael

My story

I think the best way to begin this blog is with my own personal story about how I got into veganism and animal rights activism…

As with most vegan activists, I was not raised vegan, nor vegetarian. So, I had to struggle along and find the courage to stand up against a world that perpetuates ignorance and indifference and looks at compassion with disgust. I won’t pretend the journey was easy, but I do honestly believe that anyone with any sense of love and compassion has the capacity to easily go vegan.

Humble beginnings

For the first 10 years of my life, I was both ignorant and obedient. I believed what my parents told me, what my teachers told me, and ultimately what society told me, without question. I was always eager to please others that I looked up to. Everyone around me was eating meat, cheese, milk and eggs, it was on the table 3 times a day, so of course, I happily ate it, already brainwashed into believing that my milk was making my bones strong, that my eggs were giving me giving me iron and that my meat was making me strong. No questions. That was just the way things were, and I wasn’t ready to think about any of it. I can’t say I was particularly healthy at this time. Truth was that I was overweight and suffering from constant pains in my hips.

words and actions

But eventually my sister made the choice to be vegetarian and was stubborn enough to stand up against the household norm and refuse meat products. I had no access to the internet or any other resources to help me make the connection, but I had my sister to inspire me. At the time I didn’t fully understand it all, but once the idea of a dead animal on my plate began to circulate round my head, I gradually stopped enjoying meat and started to question it all. I didn’t feel that I was allowed to question the ethics of meat eating, as everyone around me had a plethora of convincing counter arguments as to why meat eating was a necessity. I also had no place to question the health aspect of meat eating, as I had no evidence to back anything up.

So, by the time I was 11, I was convinced that I had stopped enjoying meat, so I began to refuse it more and more. There were several incidents that made me increasingly disgusted by it, many of which linked to the chewy texture of cheap, fatty meats that I regularly ate. My family tried to prevent it, even attempting to bribe me and even humiliating me, but nothing they could do was going to stop me. The  truth was that I was on the road to vegetarianism…

animals are my friends

Vegetarianism

I need to stress that it was a very gradual process. Even when I considered myself vegetarian, I still occasionally gave in to my fear of being different and ate a McDonalds once in a while. I don’t ever remember there being a clear day when I was properly vegetarian, but it was around the age of late 11.

So, for the next 5 years I was content as a vegetarian. At home it was sometimes difficult as separate meals had to be occasionally made. My non-vegetarian family were often happy to have the meals I had. I hated the smell of a lot of the meat products cooked in the house, but at the time there was nothing I could do. On the whole though, it worked well and there was minimal tension.

I was a busy and diligent student. I didn’t have access to many resources, so I never bothered to research any of the issues surrounding animal products. I didn’t feel the need, as I believed that with vegetarianism I would maintain a clear conscience for the rest of my life. Veganism was never something I considered, as I believed I would never be able to give up eggs and cheese. When asked about it once, I remember myself dismissing it, as it was “too extreme for me…”

How wrong I was!

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Becoming Vegan

My path to veganism really began with food-tech in school. I was always one of the most enthusiastic chefs in my class, and my teacher supported and encouraged my creative vegetarian dishes. I’ve always been interested in the presentation of food and the nutritional aspects of what we eat. By the time I was 16 I was in my second year of GSCE food tech and my teacher got an Animal Aid School Speaker to come and give a talk and cookery demo to the class (he made yummy vegan chocolate muffins!). I genuinely believe to this day that if I would have heard him that day, I would’ve gone vegan overnight. But unfortunately I was at a meeting and missed most of it. Luckily, he gave out a leaflet which gave me all the information I would ever need to make the connection. I don’t think I ever read it all from start to finish, but what I did read had a profound effect on me. I decided to base my coursework on veganism. Although I wouldn’t admit it to people around me at the time, I was subconsciously transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Through this large coursework project, I acquired the tools, resources and experience to go vegan.

It was only a matter of time…

I learned about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, the health issues surrounding animal products, and of course, the ethical issues of the meat, dairy and egg industries. It took a while to sink in, but I slowly stopped eating eggs, only having them when they were an ingredient in something I could find no alternative for, such as a cake or my Quorn. But at this time, I discovered so many tasty vegan foods and recipes- amazed at how tasty humous was, how versatile tofu could be and the potential of soya and almond milks.

I finished my coursework, satisfied with my A*, but was left in a bubble of apathy and selfishness. I guess I just kept using excuses and never really allowed myself to think about it.

apathy

Around this time I got my own laptop, and on the day after my 17th birthday, I found myself watching Gary Yourofsky’s Best Speech Ever. Those who have seen the speech will know that it is life changing. It especially hammered the cruelty of the dairy industry into me, which was really the missing part of my vegan journey. There was no question, there was no choice, I knew I could never eat another animal product ever again. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I had. After I watched that video, my whole perception of the world changed. My beliefs were shattered and I knew I had to rebuild everything, and find out the truth.

Life as a Vegan

So I quickly became obsessed with learning about everything. I struggled getting my family to support my new lifestyle in the beginning, but I had facts and compassion on my side.

I will be writing a future post on the “why” of veganism and all the issues surrounding it and I’ll also be creating a resources page with everything I’ve found useful, including videos, books, sites and more…

I focused on the food first and foremost, as it is essentially 99% of the problem. The clothing, animal testing, entertainment and other such issue gradually followed, but it was impossible for me at the time to throw away all my unethical clothing and toiletries.

So, how did life begin as a vegan? Well, I found out all this shocking, horrific information that nobody knew, so I went out and told everyone. I shared things all over my Facebook, I tried to help people make the connection, I tried everything. But I quickly learned a cold hard truth: nobody wants to learn the truth. And I learned that most humans are disgusting, selfish creatures. Most people live their lives turning their backs on things too difficult to face, and I was met with harsh resistance. I became infamous around my school for being an extremist. Maybe I went looking for arguments, and maybe that was my downfall, but I cared so much and it upset me so much. I just wished that people would change. But they wouldn’t.

honesty

Gary yourofsky once said, in an email to me, something I think all vegans can relate to:

Unfortunately, you will discover that enlightenment is bittersweet. On one hand, it is wonderful to see the truth, to know the truth, and to live the truth. However, it is maddening to realize how evil our family, friends and species can be! Fortunately, not all of us are evil nor beyond help. Find the good ones and forget about banging your head against the wall with the reprobates.

After a series of heated arguments, I learned a valuable lesson. You can’t argue with idiots, and you’re wasting your time if you try. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ignorant people are bad people, but some people would refuse to listen to peace if Ghandi himself told them to be kind to the animals. Not all people are like that, but the ones that are are not worth arguing with.

hardest part

My attempt at educating others was my main form of activism at this time. Even though it seemed pointless and frustrating at the time, looking back I can see that I’ve planted a lot of seeds that may grow into something in the future. Who knows…

Nonetheless, a few of my friends have been inspired by my veganism and taken steps towards a vegan lifestyle. Some of my family members have become vegan and I now live in a fully vegan household, which is an amazing feeling.

It’s not enough

My career as an activist really began when I decided to go to the World Day for Animals in Laboratories in Nottingham on 26th April 2014- a peaceful protest march and demonstration. I was scared, as I hadn’t travelled on my own before, I knew no one there and it was quite far away from home.  My mum tried to dissuade me, fearing that it was going to develop into some dangerous, angry riot… But in spite of all this, I decided to go, so I organised the busses and train myself and went.

I’ll make a future post about that day, but it was an inspiring, life-changing day. I was surrounded by other compassionate vegan activists. I was at home. And I made some really amazing friends from that day. Friends that have really changed my life and given me the courage to be the person I want to be.

After this, I started to interact with more vegans on the internet. And my vegan friends have given me the motivation to do what I’m doing now. Seeing others rescue animals, organise Animal Rights events or even sharing simple things like recipes, has shown me that I can make my dreams a reality.

This blog is the first step of my new career. I’m tired of making excuses.

some people make it happen

I just want to say a huge thank you to all the people who have helped me along the way, especially my family and my friends. You know who you are…You’ve done so much for me, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without you.

Thanks everyone

Vegan hugs

Michael

Welcome everyone

So, I think it’s important for me to introduce myself first. I’m Michael. I’m a vegan animal rights activist. I’m 18, I live in the UK and am currently studying for my A-levels. I have a lot of goals and aspirations in life: I want to become a writer, a public speaker, an actor and theatre practitioner, a composer, an athlete, and a chef to name a few. The point of this blog is to show people that you can have any kind of talents and any kinds of dreams, but can still be an activist.

I believe that every profession needs a vegan activist, and in a future post, I’ll get into how it’s possible to do this and what I’ll be doing.

giving something back to the animals

This blog will be for anyone who wants to change the world. If you’re an ethical vegan, you’ve probably had the feeling that what you’re doing simply isn’t enough. I want to provide a platform where people can find ways to make a difference regardless of their situation and other commitments.

I’ll be dedicating this blog to animal rights activism and all aspects of vegan living. I’m always happy to help anyone, so feel free to ask me anything. I’ll be adding links to my Facebook, YouTube and Strava, so feel free to befriend/subscribe/follow me to keep up with me through those. I’m always eager to find more compassionate friends! I’ll be creating some videos on YouTube to accompany this blog and I’ll create a page on Facebook soon.

Stay tuned for a lot of awesomeness!

Vegan love

Michael