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 http://www.nzeggs.webs.com/ 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 rough deal

February 13, 2010

I remember when I was younger and there was a big media release on the abundance of Orange Roughy – “everyone should eat it instead of other fish, there are so many of them, sustainable for centuries”, etc, etc, and because there was so many all the fish and chip shops started selling Orange Roughy. I also remember my father (way ahead of his time in enviromental issues) saying that nothing is sustainable at those numbers and that if everyone fished for Orange Roughy they would soon be gone, he wouldn’t buy Orange Roughy because of the media hype about it – well, how right he was in predicting the overfishing of this very beautiful fish. Mother Nature is delicately balanced and by changing just one thing it can lead to a chain of events of changing alot more. Not enough is known about the deep sea ecosystem to be able to even estimate the effects of the elimination of a mid-range predator, like the Orange Roughy. The sea is full of life, the Orange Roughy is a cog in the wheel of the sea, important in it’s own right.

The Orange Roughy eats small fish, crustaceans and squid, an opportunistic feeder. They are slow-growing and long-lived. The lifespan of the Orange Roughy exceeds that of humans, anywhere from 100-years to 145-years or so and reaching maturity around 30-years of age. Because they mature at a slow rate and the amount of the fishing of this species it means that over fishing has greatly reduced their numbers – exceedingly so. Any fishing of this long-lived species is not sustainable.

It’s estimated that over one million tonnes of Orange Roughy have been exploited, and this is only since the fishing of Orange Roughy started, about 25-years ago. What will the number be next year? What will the number be in ten-years? What if there were none left?

The first Orange Roughy fishery started in New Zealand around a seamount area called Chatham Rise. It started in the late 1970’s but declined rapidly after 1979. Each winter Orange Roughy migrate to specific sites on the Chatham Rise, where they aggregate in large numbers to spawn. This is the area that supported the greatest fishing of this species at the time. There are other seamount areas that have since also suffered greatly from the fishing of this species. The fishing industry have incredibly high levels of catches for a couple of years and then rapidly decline to low levels without recovering – hence the reason for changing the areas of fishing for Orange Roughy. Also the Orange Roughy spawn irregularly.

The way that Orange Roughy is fished is by bottom trawling. Bottom trawling is extremely destructive to the ocean. In trawling for Orange Roughy there are very high by-catch numbers and the mortality for these other deep sea species is nearly 100%.

The environment of the deep sea is fragile and slow to recover after the trawl path has destroyed the sea bed and communities on the sea floor. Sediment disturbance also have destructive effects over very large areas. Immediate gratifying dollar signs in the eyes of the greedy but total devastation to the future of the Orange Roughy, to other species and to our planet. Same with the Hoki, but that is another exploitation, and another story. So, in the meantime – Orange Roughy – if the demand wasn’t there, the exploitation wouldn’t be either. Do not support the exploitation of this remarkable fish and this remarkable planets sea bed. Say NO!


You are what you eat

February 6, 2010

It’s me, at long last! Wow, I have had some serious issues with my computer and it has only taken months to sort it all out. It crashed in September and up and running last Sunday. I thought computers are supposed to make life easier? Not! My one is old, upgraded twice, still short on memory but I am going to use it until it completely dies – I am not into the disposable lifestyle and buying a new computer would mean dumping this one – not good for the environment in both the dumping and the resources it would have taken to make the new one. So I am sticking with it! P.s. do you notice the green button on my keyboard? It is an  ‘eject’ button. It doesn’t work of course, but it helps to ease the impatient-ness I have with the internet sometimes. Broadband in New Zealand is ‘almost but not quite’ as slow as dial-up.

My friend has a computer that I could have used – but to be honest – I go there to her home with all good intentions and we just sit and drink coffee and natter. I also like a bit of peace and quiet when writing and she has a tribe of eager kiddies, and writing would be hard when it sounds like the house is being pulled apart. So to sum it up, I haven’t posted for quite some while but I’m baaaack!

On Thursday night there was a SAFE movie night. We viewed Food, Inc. Check out the trailer at the website titled Hungry For Change. The icon to the left will take you to Amazon, or search the internet, there may well be a full length version posted somewhere, I haven’t looked, but worth a try.

Although the movie was Americanised it still held very true for the rest of the world, we all know that fast food has wheedled itself into just about every orifice that it can get into – and why not, fast food industries want to make a profit and the public ask (or believe they do) for it. The movie highlighted corporate greed and the absolute monopoly that only a few corporations have on food and the coverup, buying-off and bullying that these corporations do and the corrupt way in which these few corporations legalise policies. I think because the movie took a more ‘human’ approach than a ‘cruelty to animals’ approach it might mean more people would be open to watching it and having it impact on their food choices – humans have an ego and see what they want to see, they might turn a blind eye to animals being slaughtered but seeing a movie that has the human element and shows the impact on average people it might make them sit up, take notice, and look into what they eat (here is hoping – forever the optimist I am). The movie touches on the obesity epidemic and other health issues and tries to get the voice across that cheaper food does not necessarily mean cheaper as there are seriously horrendous spin-off effects to ‘cheap’ food. All-in-all, not a bad movie to watch. If it gets people thinking about ‘we are what we eat’ and there are choices if we just say ‘no!’ then hats off to them and I hope that many people do find a way to watch it – the voice of many is needed against the food corporate empire to even begin to falter.

It is a vicious cycle, eat bad food, feel listless, so eat bad food because you don’t have the energy to cook – much easier to go and get a hamburger at McD’s and before you know it you are starting to look and act like a hamburger, a hamburger with no energy, a high fat content and no nutritional value. It does not take long to cook a nutritious meal that is on the table before the person is back from the takeaway shop, although it might seem it. Eating a nutritious meal means that your energy levels are higher, more ‘stable’ and you do not need as much food because your hunger is satisfied for longer. Fortunately it hasn’t become totally impossible to buy cheap vegetables at markets here in New Zealand and alot of us who have the classic Kiwi half-acre can grow a few things. Sometimes you don’t even need a back lawn but just a balcony, hey even a tomato plant can be grown in a pot and potatoes in old tyres. But still the fast food industry grows, thrives and kills in an insidious way. So not only is it a problem with peoples energy abating and the small cost of buying a hamburger and the time in people’s lives that they think is needed to cook a meal but a habit as well – a habit we are passing on to our next generation. You just have to break the cycle.


Clean Teeth Compassionately

September 25, 2009

Many things on my site will be aimed at new vegans or potential vegans and will point out things in which ‘hardened vegans’ learnt years ago and now take for granted as an everyday part of their lives, but new and potential vegans may not be aware of. So, take this journey with me and let us learn together. Today I would like to blog about toothpastes and toothbrushes.

Not only are there many ingredients in toothpaste that are derived from the suffering and death of non-human animals, but there are many companies that use the inhumane practice of testing their products on animals. In New Zealand along with vegans from many other countries we have to be aware of all aspects and look behind the product and into the company that produces that product. What you will find is that many are seriously lacking in compassion for the sake of financial gain. Is the company that makes your toothpaste using animals for testing their toothpaste or any of their other products on? Quite possibly, in fact, more than likely. So to be absolutely sure only buy a toothpaste that states clearly on the label that it is vegan and not tested on animals. There are a couple of vegan toothpastes available but I thought I would introduce you to a lovely product which I just purchased:

lemon-myrtle

lemon-myrtle

Phyto Shield Lemon-Myrtle, Botanical Oral Care Toothpaste.

I bought this 100g tube of toothpaste for $6.10 from Stay Well Pharmacy in Hornby, on Shands Road – the little shopping complex on the left after coming off Main South Road.

Chemical-free and does not contain parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate, added fluoride, sugar and artificial sweeteners. Along with no petrochemicals or chemical bleach.

Suitable for children, vegans and vegetarians.

Not tested on animals.

100% naturally New Zealand

Manufactured in New Zealand by New Zealand Natural Oral Care Company, freephone 0800 red seal or 0800 733 732

 Ingredients:

  • Calcium Carbonate (chalk-mild mineral abrasive)
  • Aqua (purified water)
  • Glycerol and Sorbitol (moisture retaining agents from plant origin)
  • Silica (natural ore for better paste structure)
  • Orange Oil
  • Lauryl Glucoside (mild cleanser from coconut oil)
  • Carboxymethyl Cellulose (gumming agent from plant fibre)
  • Lemon Oil
  • Calcium Magnesium Carbonate (abrasive)
  • Ammonium Glycyrrhizinate (plant derived sweetener)
  • Menthol
  • Aniseed Oil, Peppermint Oil, Thyme Oil, Myrrh Oil, Lemon Myrtle Oil
  • Totarol (in ethanol) Tincture

Sounds all good to me and it is also a very nice tasting fresh-feeling toothpaste.

Maybe your local chemist or health food shop has it in stock, and if they don’t, maybe they would look at stocking it or get it in for you. We live in a very accommodating society when it comes to most retail shops and they are on average only happy to oblige. If you don’t ask, you will never know.

Keeping along with the thought of not supporting companies who exploit innocent animals for testing their products on – think about the toothbrush you use and which company it was made by, are they a company that does animal testing? I just purchased a new vegan toothbrush from SAFE (link in sidebar), 145 Armagh Street in the centre of Christchurch. They have a selection of vegan toothbrushes (and other stuff of course). Go in and check it out and while you are there say hi to other like-minded vegans as well, very approachable and very friendly. And if you are not vegan but thinking about it – good on you, keep getting information and learn – pretend you are a sponge and suck up that information, take things slowly (or not!) because with every step you take towards veganism you are helping the animals, the planet and making yourself healthier – and always remember you are not alone – there are other vegans out there.

bron sign