Thoughts for Pike River’s Loved-ones

November 25, 2010

Have just sneaked onto somebody else’s computer, my computer is not only not working (again! poor thing got a virus) but is on the side of my house that has sunken/fallen foundations after all our earthquakes here in Christchurch. I am suffering from vertigo every time I walk on that side of the house.
I did want to post my deepest sympathies to the families and friends who lost their loved-ones in the Pike River Coal Mine. I am sure that all of New Zealand is sharing a thought or prayer for those who have lost someone. I know how close-knitted the Coasties are and cannot fathom what everyone is going through at the moment, extremely tragic. And to the families and friends overseas who have also lost their loved-ones, my thoughts are with you also.
I admire all your tremendous strength and community spirit throughout this whole ordeal and my heartfelt wish that sometime soon your boys can be returned to you.


Induction, Murder and a Glass of Milk

June 20, 2010

There is a technique commonly used in New Zealand called Induction. Induction has been in use here for about 40 years and has become common practice. It is a process to get late calving cows to calve up to ten weeks earlier than they naturally would.

The process involves an injection of long acting corticosteroid which fools the cows into getting ready to calve; in a normal pregnancy corticosteroids are released by a calf as it is approaching maturity. A second injection two weeks later causes the cow to calve.

A cow is induced to birth her calf prematurely, thereby increasing her milking season, ie more money. The cows are all injected at the same time and I have been informed that in the Waikato it is not unusual to do mobs of 50 cows at a time. In the South Island with bigger herd sizes there could easily be over 100 cows induced at one time.

The calves either die before birth, die of prematurity and/or exposure or they’re killed in the paddock. The estimate is this is done to around 200,000 calves a year in New Zealand.

Watch this video and decide – Is this humane? Is this acceptable for just an economic benefit to farmers? Is this acceptable for a glass of milk?

The comment from this person who took with this video was “This video was taken on a farm I work on. I just can’t stand by and see this horror and pretend NZ dairy farming is clean and green. When actually it is the opposite. These calves were from induced cows, meaning they were injected by a vet to hurry the process of calving and to mainly get milk from the cow to make money. These calfs were all killed or had died at birth and will be used for pet food. This is the ugly face of some New Zealand dairy farms.”

This procedure is little known by the public and not commonly used overseas and would very much affect New Zealand’s dairy reputation, so the industry does have some motivation for stopping it. It is time to raise awareness of this practice as the dairy industry is revising their Code for Inductions this October. 

Shaking Up A Cow

June 16, 2010

I have just finished watching the TV1 late news and there was an article regarding a farmer who was banned for selling his fizzy milk at Waikato Field Days this week due to coca cola having the rights to sell their fizzy milk.

I probably would have let this news clip pass if it wasn’t for a couple of comments made both during and after the item.

One man interviewed at the Field Day said that it was a shame that the farmer was banned as he had put blood, sweat and tears into it. WHO has put the blood, sweat and tears into it? The cows and their babies, that’s who. Not the farmer who is running a profitable business on the exploitation, death and suffering of what he perceives as ‘his commodities’.

Then after the clip the TV1 news presenter made a really silly comment “Shaking up a cow, who would have thought of it!” Shaking up a cow? There is rather a lot more to it than that, if only he knew. And that in itself is the problem, if only he knew, and others too, of the truth behind what is in a glass of milk from a dairy cow.

And why fizzy milk? – cola flavoured fizzy milk? – to get kids to drink more milk, that’s why cola flavoured fizzy milk. What! – do they think that putting two really bad drinks together is going to miraculously make a healthy drink? Dairy cow milk is not needed in our diet, it does more harm than good and those that are suggesting children drink it to get calcium should really look into what milk from another species does to the health of a human. There are far better options available for maintaining a well-balanced calcium level without resorting to reliance on an industry (the dairy industry) that not only hides the truth but is perpetuating the death and suffering of thousands of cows and their babies for financial greed.

Refer to a previous post which details what is really involved in getting milk from a cow.

And visit the website NZ Dairy Cruelty for information on how drinking milk harms cows. There is also other extremely valuable and informative information on this site, so while there, browse around.

But I Eat Free Range Eggs

June 7, 2010

I tell people I am vegan and they might say “but what about eggs, do you eat them?”, I then explain that a vegan does not eat eggs from exploited chickens and they might respond with something like “well, I only eat eggs that are free range”. I am left to wonder if there are many people who realise that by eating free range eggs they are still contributing to the mistreatment and slaughter of millions of innocent lives, the lives of sentient beings (they feel).

Now, by choosing to eat free range eggs it tells me that these people do have a conscience about where their food comes from – they obviously care enough not to eat eggs from battery hens. It also tells me that they do not know the full truth. Unfortunately, we have become so far removed from where our food comes from and what happens in the process for it to get to our plate that we just automatically believe what is told to us, a fairy-tale image of happy hens in open paddocks laying eggs whenever they feel like it.

Unlike the image that free range means something like the photo above, here is the truth:

There are no standards in New Zealand regarding free range. So what does that mean? What does free range mean anyway? All it means is that they are not in a small cage. Nothing more. It means that some still never see the light of day. It means that they can still be kept in cramped conditions. It means that they still go to the slaughterhouse on an assembly line chain just like the battery hens. It means that millions of day-old chicks are discarded simply because they are born the ‘wrong’ sex or not ‘egg-laying’ condition.

Just like the battery hens these so-called free range girls go to slaughter when their egg production takes a decline. And to replace these hens after going to slaughter? More females have to be born. The gender ratio is roughly 50/50 from hatched eggs, so what happens to the baby boys? Well, on the first or second day of birth they get sexed, by someone who inserts their finger (you know where) to determine if they are a boy or girl. The boys and the girls deemed not suitable for egg laying are then discarded, some gassed with the likes of carbon dioxide, some appallingly get fed into crushers – alive. Into giant mincers they are stripped of limbs and wings and crushed. Both methods are horrid, horrid thing to do. So this means that for every hen that becomes an egg-layer just over one chick had to die.

The female chicks are not raised by their mothers (who I might add are wonderful mothers) they are raised in artificial incubators, with artificial light and heat and many commercial incubators holding tens of thousands of eggs at a time, with rotation of the eggs a fully automated process.

At about 21 days after being layed they hatch and are then ready for the outside world – a world of artificial light and artificial food, sexed and sorted and if ‘kept’ generally debeaked at around 10-days-old. Debeaking is done without any painkiller and is an extremely painful experience. Why do they get debeaked? Because under stress they peck each other. You might think that if they peck each other then they should be debeaked, wrong, if they are not living under stress they quickly establish a ‘pecking-order’ and no longer need to take out their depression on others. Given room, natural food and a good life there is no need for depression, hence, no reason for pecking, hence, no reason for debeaking.

These little girls are then raised until their egg production starts at which point they could be fed chemicals to make their egg yolk look more golden and to make them lay more often. They then lay on average up to 300 eggs within that year, pumping them out. So think about it, one hen works for just under 12-days to supply a dozen eggs.

They are still young (12-months) when they naturally go through a short moulting period at which time their egg production declines. The cost of feeding, and the non-generating-of-income means that they do not get to wait for their moult to finish before egg production comes back, they are sent to the slaughterhouse. Still young, still in their prime. Hens, depending on the breed, will live from five to about ten years of age, they go to the slaughterhouse at one.

With thanks to for this image

To get to the slaughterhouse they are picked up upside down by their feet and shoved into crates to be transported where they then get shackled upside down onto a chain which dips their heads into a waterbath. The waterbath stuns them only, it does not kill them. The back of their neck is then sliced, and in some cases their spinal cord can be cut but they may regain consciousness only to have their heads pulled off on another machine.

What a traumatic way to live and die. Thought of as just egg laying machines without thought, care or compassion, and so easily replaced with more suffering birds. And the cycle goes on, round and round.

Now, think back to when you were young, your mum or dad possibly read you children’s books with cute little chicks on the cover or on the pages, think back to how you saw them then – did you get the warm fuzzies? I know I did. Well those cute little chicks are no different from the ones born in the egg industry, minced into nuggets or to live very short miserable lives. Whether they are born male or female does not make their lives or deaths any better, they are all treated like commodities. As a child would you have wanted that? No, so now as an adult you have the choice to say “no, I will not tolerate it, I will not!”.

Do You Drink Milk?

May 30, 2010

28 Things You Should Know …

My Mid-Life Crises and Hair Dye

April 12, 2010

Due to the hectic life that we can all lead and a myriad of bad things that happen, the problem of aging can come along almost overnight, you look into the mirror one morning and you are young and beautiful (well, young anyway) and then what almost feels like the next day you look in the same mirror and find yourself saying ‘how the hell did I get to this?’.

And let’s admit it, we all want to, in some small way (and don’t deny it!) halt or slow down the aging process – but for a vegan, that comes with the ethical choice of not using animals (in products and testing) to gain that ego-boost – that selfish vanity streak that we all have to some extent. And I will admit it – I am not immune to bouts of depression when I think about how life seems to have passed me by – my mirror says it all.

My hair started going grey quite young and it seemed to happen almost overnight; when my dad passed from this plane and moved on to a higher plane – I had already lost my mum and at the time it was almost too hard to bear. Back then I was not vegan so used the average hair dyes that you buy in the supermarket or chemist, but since going vegan I have not dyed my hair at all except for the occasional lemon rinse or homemade rosemary/thyme boiled-up hair gloop, etc. So, for years I have been quite happy with my ‘natural’ look and have been strutting proudly with my ‘cruella de ville’ stripe of silver, but still have this nagging voice (the ego) wanting to hang on to my youth and look good while I am about it.

Well, lately I seem to have been going through a stage of, ‘how can I be this age when I still feel so young?’ I look in the mirror and do not recognise the person staring back. I have the ‘cruella de ville’ stripe of silver running through my hair but notice that the flecks of grey over the rest of my hair are becoming rampant and I have that dull, lifeless, non-gloss look. The ‘cruella de ville’ streak looked quite cool for a while but the greys? No!!! And yes – it does age you, the grey bits just do not look right.

Slowing the outward appearance of your rapid aging comes with a price – a price to the animals – way too high a price – and I ain’t going there for the sake of vanity, their lives are just as important as mine. For the non vegan it is easy just to buy the cheapest hair dye to make themselves look and feel nice – they may not see or may not care about the exorbitant price that animals have to pay – the cruelty – their exploitation and suffering – but I am vegan – I see the price – I feel the pain deep inside me. No animal should suffer being strung up by a leg and having their throat slit, or in pain burnt and blistering by effects of chemicals just for the testing of a hair dye.

I had two options here – 1) breaking my mirror into a thousand pieces and avoiding window shop reflections or 2) looking into getting a vegan hair dye. Well, option 1) was out of the question, I need seven years of bad luck like I need a hole in the head – so #2) won.

So, here is how I see it – I am getting older on the outside but not getting older on the inside – I can keep those two things closer together – lesson the gap so to speak by doing the thing I do the best, so putting my research abilities to work I decided to find a vegan hair dye. I thought at first it would be a mission, living in New Zealand, in what seems the agricultural capital of the world, but it was actually quite simple once I started looking.

Photo from Arrow Pharmaceuticals website

What I found was, Arrow Pharmaceuticals New Zealand Limited has a range of hair dyes called NaturStyle which at first – looking at the ingredients list on their website (link here) ‘seemed’ vegan. And being vegan we know that just reading something on the internet does not mean ‘truth’ So, on the blower I got – and spoke to a couple of lovely ladies there – and they were extremely friendly and helpful – and they confirmed that the ingredients were not animals, animal derived or animal by-products. Well, of course, the other BIG issue is ‘has it been tested on animals?’. They were both emphatically adamant that this product is not tested on animals. It is available at Health 2000 and Radius Pharmacies, to name just two available outlets.

One of the ‘ups’ about being vegan is that your body stays trim, young and healthy – so why have the grey hair to let you down if you can get a cruelty-free ‘fix-it’!!! So, maybe this is my ‘fix-it’ for my mid-life crises!!! I am semi-seriously condsidering it. Maybe I will happily ease my way into old age if I just get through this mid-life crises.

The Adventures of Missy and Mandy

March 2, 2010

Although I am against ownership of animals and totally agree that they should not be ‘property’, there are quite a few that share my life. Being an animal lover and vegan opens the door for animals to be ‘given’ to me after they have served their purpose where they were. I would not turn away an animal, they were born into being an owned commodity, and therefore need our love and respect until such a time that abolition of animal ownership is reached.

I would like to introduce to you two of the family members … Missy and Mandy.

Missy came to me from a family that were living in a rental property but the landlord wanted to move back in and of course that meant that a new location had to be found – a location that would ‘allow’ a pet Kune Kune who was already a year-and-a-half old and rather large. Well, of course, how many landlords would want that? So, Missy came to live with me. She is bossy and obstinate and I love her dearly. When she was a little piglet she was attacked by two dogs, hence the reason for only one ear – she is a very lucky girl to have survived. Her previous family loved her very much and still come to visit her when they can. Unfortunately her diet consisted of food off non-vegan human plates, takeaway foods and dog biscuits. And for the record – it is not easy weaning a large pig off takeaways!

Mandy was living alone and lonely  in a very confined area filled with huge farm equipment and oily mud, no grass, just mud, her stomach was dragging on the ground and her hooves were about 4-inches long and curled upwards, one even curled underneath her foot and she found it very difficult to walk. She was not a happy girl at all and did not seem to have much ‘zest’ for life. Mandy had never been treated for worms and had been fed on household scraps. Her teeth are badly worn for one so young (same age as Missy) and she had bad eczema. She was originally bought from a petting-zoo (yuck, yuck, yuck, hate the idea) for the previous owners’ daughter who quickly lost interest as Mandy grew out of her cute piglet stage and got bigger. When I went to pick Mandy up the daughter was playing on the trampoline with her friends and was not even interested in saying goodbye to her. What is that teaching the daughter? That it is ok when you have lost interest with an animal it can just be ignored and then got rid of? They are dispensable and replaceable?. Just like many children who are not taught respect for non-human life, she will not learn the value of a life and will be taking into her adulthood and therefore teaching any future children she will have the perpetual continuance of animal ownership and disregard for their welfare or happiness. Mandy is an extremely docile and loving girl, a real pleasure to have in my life. She now runs (in a Kune Kune sort of way) when she sees me, and is starting to trim down a little, although her feet will never be 100% I think (no, I don’t think, I know) that she is alot happier for having her hooves trimmed, it took six attempts to get them down to a semi-acceptable length. She always rolls over for a belly scratch and ‘pleasure grunts’ when I start trimming her hooves and is generally fast asleep before I have finished the first one. Her prognosis for a long happy life was not great, but when I first saw her, I knew, and she knew, there was something there, a bond, a mutual respect. The ‘owners’ could not get her to move onto the trailer, no coaxing or bullying worked, I basically just told them to ‘stop’, went over to her and gently stroked her and then stood and walked up onto the ramp and into the trailer with her following, with everyone else just standing there with their mouths open. Pigs respond to love, not discipline.

Kune Kune pigs are grazers with a high fibre diet just like sheep and cows are, they should not eat household scraps, takeaways or dog food. The only form of feeding should be proper pellets/nuts for pigs, without ruminants, and only as a supplement feed when the grass is not growing in winter. They are opportunists where fruit is concerned and have sharp hearing for when fruit drops from a tree. You should see Missy and Mandy run!!!

I find it very sad that people get pigs just because they are ‘cute’ and it would be ‘cool’, but the reality is that pigs grow, and can grow quite big too. Just like kittens and puppies the piglet shares the same fate of looking cute when young, being bought because they are cute, then discarded when the owner realises that they don’t stay 5-inches tall. The other thing that makes me really sad is that people think it is adorable to have a pig that is overweight. It is extremely cruel and does not make for a very happy life for the pig. They get serious issues with their limbs because of the weight they are carrying, arthritis can set in at a very young age and the fat folds will droop over their eyes and render them blind, even if they have lost weight after this stage the blindness can be irreversible. It is important to supply decent shelter as Kune Kunes can suffer from pneumonia if sleeping in exposed conditions and they also like a large amount of space to graze in. The girls come and go as they please into their ‘bedroom’ which has a concrete floor but I layed some old carpet squares down and have about eight inches of straw for them and a couple of blankets each. They just looooove to burrow themselves into the straw and make a wee ‘nest’. They roam around the orchard, can sleep in the sun, or under a peach tree in the shade (or walnut or apricot, etc, if they prefer), or even go for a mud bath in their wee pond.

I am hoping that while you are reading this, you are sparing a thought for all the beautiful pigs in this world who do not live a life of dignity or freedom – kept in cages, treated horrifically, and then sent to slaughter, their carcass served on a plate. What are we doing to these wonderful beings – these wonderful beings who share almost the same chromosomes as us. Chromosomes so close that when eaten by a human the human body thinks that it is committing cannibalism and therefore finds it extremely hard to process and digest. What, as a species, are we doing? Who, as a species, do we think we are? Better and worthier than another species? What gives us the right to treat non-humans in any other way than as respected individual worthy beings.

Pigs feel, pigs laugh, pigs cry, pigs play, pigs run, pigs amble, pigs love – and it is their right to do all this – for the whole of their lives.