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!”.


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.


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.

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Glue-it at the office

September 2, 2009

At work we sometimes have to use glue, as most offices do. Since going vegan I have abstained from using any, but recently I had to. We use the  Pritt Glue-it Refill Roller made in Germany by Henkel Corporation which is readily available in all office supply stores in New Zealand. I thought I would send them a quick email before I used it to find out what was in their glue.

Pritt Glue-it Refill Roller with spare refill

Pritt Glue-it Refill Roller with spare refill

I commend them on their prompt response …

An excerpt from their reply;

“We do not use animals in the manufacture of any of our products” – signed by the Henkel Corporation.

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Question the process

August 31, 2009

UPDATE:UPDATE:UPDATE: Confirmation has been received that Bean Me Up soymilk and tofu are vegan, the filtering cloth is nylon. So it is now back in the shopping trolley. Thank you SAFE for the detective work.

Sometimes it is hard to know about the processes that many of our foods go through before reaching our cupboard or fridge, processes that you wouldn’t even think to question until something triggers you to look into it a bit further; well this happened to me.

No  milk today - 3x in a row Bean Me Up is out of stock, so all I have for you is the price label, note: when taking photos in supermarkets do not use a flash

No milk today - 3x in a row Bean Me Up is out of stock, so all I have for you is the price label, note: when taking photos in supermarkets do not use a flash

I was listening to a Radio NZ podcast on the processing of Bean Me Up Soymilk which is made locally here in Christchurch, and was finding it quite interesting until the moment the product came out of the heat tank – you see, it goes through a filter, and I thought she said ‘silk filter from Japan’ – the noise from the machine was quite loud so I may have heard incorrectly. Anyway, right then I knew I had to find out.

It took quite a few attempts at phoning before I actually managed to speak to someone for clarification. They advised me that it was silk and I replied “so it is not suitable for vegans then” and she said “oh hang on” and went and spoke to the person who operates the heat tank and he said “I’m not sure if it is silk or nylon, it could be nylon but I am not sure”. She also mentioned that “everyone does it that way” – but does she mean that the filtering is done by everyone or the use of silk is done by everyone? Do others use silk, nylon, cheesecloth or muslin?

Bean Me Up Soymilk. Got the photo!
Bean Me Up Soymilk. Got the photo!

So now I am left without a definative answer from Bean Me Up, do they use silk or nylon? Why would they say they used silk on the podcast if this may or may not be correct, wouldn’t that be false advertising? Shouldn’t they know? – anyway, until I am 100% sure that it is vegan it is off my shopping list, I can always make my own, or use something else, there are always other options (I must admit I have since got a real liking for Rice Milk).

I was buying the soymilk because of my stance on the dairy industry only to find out that I might be supporting the exploitation of silkworms – the silkworms that are exploited by being boiled alive to get the silk out, which I also find abhorrent. And what about their soy yoghurt which is advertised on the web as a vegan dairy replacement? Does it go through a filter? I am not sure – something for me to pursue at a later date perhaps.

UPDATE:UPDATE:UPDATE: Confirmation has been received that Bean Me Up soymilk and tofu are vegan, the filtering cloth is nylon.

But it just points out to ethical, compassionate vegans the importance of not assuming something is vegan just because the list of ingredients is ok, but to also question the process as well. This got me to thinking about other things, this would also apply to products in cans or glass jars that have labels – what is the glue made from? And speaking of glue, how about the glue used in non-leather shoes? And another of my peeves is the word ‘organic’ – the producers consider blood and bone to be ‘organic’, so unless you know who grows your vegetables be very wary of that word. I will not be a part of the exploitation of innocent lives and I feel that the only option is to question everything, and I will not stop questioning, and I will not find it a burden, non-human animals are too important for me, way, way too important to do anything but question – and in the answers I will have something to pass on to others, because knowing what is in our food and the process it goes through to get to our plate is important.

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Soaping up at work

August 11, 2009

This winter has been a particularly harsh time with germs flying around, almost everyone seems to be coughing and sneezing and we all have to be aware of the need to wash our hands.

My place of work does not have vegan soap and being vegan and constantly aware of what products I use, especially when I have to spend eight glorious hours at work everyday, it became necessary to ‘bring my own’ soap. I have always toddled off to the loo, Dr. Bronner’s soap – in soapbox – in hand, and after a while this became a major pain in the butt so now I just leave it on the hand basin.

Hand basin @ work

Only a short while after leaving the soap on the hand basin one of my work colleagues came out and said ‘I would have thought soaps would be vegan’. He had never stopped to consider what was in a bar of soap, not aware that soaps have unnecessary animal content, it could have glycerine, and/or lanolin, and/or tallow in it or all three, all of which are animal derived. Having the soap on the hand basin made my work colleague question what was in soaps – which in the scheme of things is really good to have people more aware. So now he knows about soap!!! I invited him to start using it too, there is no advantage in using animal products in soaps, possibly another ploy from the slaughterhouses to make more money from the suffering and death of the innocent. Vegan soaps are just as good and often better, especially if they are made with real essential oils. They feel nice, they smell nice, they lather well, animal-free, guilt-free. What were we thinking as humans? To have even had the original thought of plastering the remains of slaughtered animals over our bodies – to get clean? Ewwwwyuk.

A main concern when buying soaps is not to promote Companies that exploit animals to put their products on the market, i.e. Companies that use animals to try out their products on, generally when still in the trial or ‘toxic’ stage, onto the skin or into the eyes of the innocent slaves who have no choice or voice. Research for beauty is a disgusting and immoral thing to do, well actually animal research in general is immoral as they are subjected against their will to horrific experiments and a miserable and often painful life. There are other options for testing results of products which may in fact be a more productive form of research anyway as it has not really been proven that testing on animals is a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that the product is safe for human use.

Another concern of course when buying vegan soaps is the use of palm oil and where it originated, terrible to think that in avoiding soaps with animal products it may use palm oil from cleared rainforest. Please bear a thought to using palm oil – deforestation is causing Orang-Utans and other equally important insects and animals to suffer and die. Here is a quote from Palm Oil Action Group: “After logging rainforest habitat, palm oil companies often use uncontrolled burning to clear the land. In 1997-98 a devastating fire killed almost 8,000 orangutans in Borneo. Orangutans are predicted to be extinct in the wild in the next 20 years if the palm oil industry, deforestation and burning of peat forest do not change.”  The Palm Oil Action Group is concerned about oil palm plantation development and deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.

The Lotus Heart in Cathedral Square, Christchurch has a gift shop that sells Dr Bronner’s soaps and it is where I bought my bar of lavender loveliness (the lemon one is nice too!) for work. The small bathroom at work has a wonderfully lovely aroma of lavender.

For soaps at home I buy from a lovely wee shop in town – Blue Earth Store in Poplar Street (runs between Lichfield & Tuam Streets, not far from Madras Street). They stock a wonderful range of soaps which are produced in Ashburton by Blue Earth, all with tremendous smells and textures including names like Fudgey Fig, Gardeners Nut soap and Angels Love Cake. I use their Lavishly Lavender at the hand basin and the Carrot & Orange Cake in the shower and also use their Shampoo Smoothie for my hair, which lathers up really well and makes my hair light and fluffy. Although they do use palm oil, they assured me that they do everything in their power to use sustainable palm oil. I am going to one day complete my mission of trying all of their soaps – if I can just get past buying my favourites, I may even find other favourites. Blue Earth products are the cheaper option as the Dr Bronner’s soap comes with a hefty price tag.

SAFE Online Store stocks a good range of cruelty-free soaps and other skin care items and while you are there definitely worth a browse through their website at their other products as well.

You can always make your own, but lets face it, with the busy lives we live and the quality of the available vegan soaps, why bother?


Let me start off by saying …

July 23, 2009

Blogging is a whole new world – a world that I am not totally familiar with, but just like everyone else I have to start somewhere – so why not start my own blog and learn as I go. The internet has many views and opinions from many people which creates a wealth of knowledge at the click of a button, which is wonderful if you need to find something specific. I now realise that there are other vegan bloggers out in the blogosphere who also believe that what we are doing as a species to our fellow creatures is so very wrong.

So, what does another vegan hope to achieve then? What I hope to achieve in this blog is to educate people, even one person at a time would be great, to the world of veganism, the wonderful world of veganism. And just like most other vegans I hope to educate people to the fact that animals are sentient and do not wish to, or deserve to be treated the way that they are. They are not objects, they are not slaves, they are valid and they feel and they experience happiness and sadness and a whole range of other emotions just like we do. Finding the words to describe what we are doing them? – well there are no words really.

The one thing I found when first going vegan was that I knew no other vegans, so I had lots of questions about lots of things including ingredients in foods, I found myself asking “what is in this product? and what to look for and where to buy it. So, I am thinking that I will have a bit about food to maybe help someone who would like to transition to becoming a vegan and to tell them that they are not alone – go for it!! Look at what you eat, see that vegans actually do eat, and actually do eat lots of nice things, there is a whole heap of food out there that is not only good and tasty but vegan too. The other thing I hope to do is educate people on looking at what they eat and seeing it more for what it is – an animal, a dead animal on a plate. We are taught at a very young age to compartmentalise our compassion, “awww, isn’t that wee baby chick on tv cute, here Harry, eat your chicken, put hairs on your chest!!”  Selective compassion – not fair, not right.

Also what I hope to achieve is to send the visitors that happen to chance upon my blog onto other websites, wonderful & informative websites like:

So, fellow vegans, band together and lets educate!!!