Monday, August 30, 2010

Please, help my friends...

Inspired by the Oscar-winning feature documentary THE COVE, stars from film, TV and music band together to help save Japan's dolphins. Please sign the petition and help us get the word out, http://www.takepart.com/thecove

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Killing for Convenience

McDonald's Mighty Kids Happy Meals

I just watched Super Size Me, again, and it compelled me to go and look at some of the actual nutritional information online. I never eat in fast food places like McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's or Taco Bell, etc., so I wasn't really sure what they even served any more.

I started by looking at the ingredients for fries. It should be potatoes, oil and salt. Maybe some spices, right?

Nope. It was:

Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.


Then I thought about all the kids eating this crap. But they have "healthy options" now, right? Like Apple Dippers with Caramel Dip. But what is possibly in that...

Well the so-called low fat caramel dip is made of: Corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk (milk, sugar), high fructose corn syrup, water, butter (cream, salt), sugar, salt, disodium phosphate, artificial flavors (vanillin, ethyl vanillin), caramel color, pectin, potassium sorbate (preservative).

That's a lot of sugar.

In looking at the two "meals" featured and targeted at kids, they seem pretty crappy.

If you feed your kid the McNuggets/Milk/Apple dippers option they are eating:

390 Calories, 15g of Fat & ZERO fiber

If you feed them the double cheeseburger/Milk/Apple dippers option they get:

640 Calories, 26g of Fat & only 2g of fiber

That is appalling. And I don't just mean the food and lack of anything decent nutrion-wise. I mean the fact that parents feed this garbage to their kids on a regular basis. I know plenty of parents, some stay-at-home moms, that choose to get this for their kids for lunch at least once a week. And this is in spite of the fact that nutritionists say you should never eat this stuff. Not to mention that the flesh of 100+ animals can be in your 1 burger patty. (um, gross!)

Children are more susceptible to absorbing toxins than adults. Why would any parent think that this is a good thing to give their kids?

But don't just listen to me...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fast Food Snapshot

None of this is appealing.

Click to see larger.

We watched Super Size Me again today. Fast food... GAG!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vegan Beauty - Urban Decay's Vegan Color Palette

Image from Animal Friendly Shopping

I have not delved much into cosmetics here but I do consider it when I am shopping. I look for products with no animal ingredients or testing. The Be Nice to Bunnies app is great for when I'm shopping in the stores and I use the CCIC's Cruelty Free app, the Good Guide's barcode scanning app, or Don't Eat That app to make sense of all the ingredients.

But now more and more companies are making a point of stating they are vegan safe. Lindsay from Broke & Beautiful did a post today on Awakened Aesthetics on Urban Decay's new vegan eye shadow palatte. Animal Friendly Shopping did a review too.

Lime Crime has also just come out more eye shadows that are stated as containing no animal products. Their lip sticks do currently contain beeswax but I think they are looking into new formulations with out it. Beeswax is not often considered as an animal product (not sure why, bees are animals too) so always check the ingredients yourself no matter what the company says.

I don't buy a lot of make-up, so as I delve more into researching, I will share what I find out.

Buy the Urban Decay palatte here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I salute you, Stephen

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a Lobby - American Meat Institute
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Okay, not only is this hilarious but it points out the real truth - humans are animals too. Why is it okay to kill some animals?

I'm sure we all get the joke and are not advocating eating people. But then, why is it right to kill and eat other feeling and thinking beings?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Answering the Question about Why No Eggs

I received a question in the comments from this post on information and making connections...

I keep seeing in your posts (and others like it) the consensus to give up eggs as well. I've been a vege for many years now (maybe 17yrs now) and I love eggs. But I've never had any guilt issues with buying eggs from free range farms. They don't harm anyone, the animals have good lives and the quality of the eggs are better. Rather than give up something which is a very good source of essential proteins etc., couldn't you just look into sourcing or using your own? Why the objection to (properly cared for) free range eggs?

I am very happy to answer this. I love discussion and to share our thoughts and perspective. I am going to talk some general answers and then my personal reasons.

There are many good reasons to give up eggs. There are health reasons (cholesterol and fat) and environmental reasons. There are many other readily available and much more healthful options for protein, so that is not really a good reason to me to keep eating eggs. There are also many other options for replacing eggs in recipes so I do not feel that they are needed there either.

In a better world, the eggs that hens lay would be naturally gathered and the hens would have lovely lives living outdoors, chasing bugs and having dust baths. I'm not going to go into the whole issue of keeping and managing the life cycles of animals, no matter how benign we may be as caretakers.

That is what free-range should mean.

However, almost all commercial eggs that are marketed as "free-range" or "cage-free" are not, especially here in the US. Not really. It is just a misleading marketing term. I feel that egg farms and the animals there go through more suffering than even animals raised for meat. The hens may not be crammed 7 to a wire cage the size of a file drawer they way most egg factory farms do. Instead they are crammed into airless, sunless buildings many times with their beaks and combs sliced off, little health care or even good food and water. Not to mention the abuse many factory farm workers do to these sensitive animals such as throwing, kicking, stomping on them, etc.

They are manipulated with lights and temperature to lay eggs year round until their bodies are totally spent. Their lifespans are a fraction of the 7 or so years a hen would live naturally. When they are not able to lay eggs anymore their bodies are ground up for lesser food sources like being fed to other chickens or dog/cat food.

Other reasons to not support the egg industry are the breeding practices. Hens are bred to produce and/or be meat. Many cannot even stand up under their own weight. Their bodies and legs become so deformed they cannot stand or walk. And when they drop to the ground or the floor of their cage, they are left to suffer and die. Workers throw them into trashcans, often still struggling to live, like rubbish.

Another "by-product" of the egg industry often overlooked, no matter how "humane", are the male chicks. From a purely statistical view about 50% of the chicks born will be male... Roosters. An egg company has no need for all of these millions of baby male chicks so what do they do? Well sometimes they throw them in to trashcans to suffer and suffocate. Sometimes they, as you can see here, throw them alive into giant grinders.

So to sum up the industry-related reasons, I think you should avoid eggs:

- Grinding up alive millions of baby male chicks
- Short suffering-filled lifespans
- Genetic manipulation
- No real free-range lifestyle
- No health care
- Physical abuse
- When they stop laying they are just killed

But let's say you find a farmer who does truly give his/her birds a free-range life? There are three questions you need to ask. 1) What happens to the hens they stop laying? 2) Where did he get the chicks from to start his flock? and 3) What happens to the male birds born when we wants to increase his flock?

Will this person kill the hens when they stop laying eggs? Yes or No? How can you be sure?

Did he order baby chicks from a breeder? Many people, even backyard chicken owners do this. This is just as bad. Animals are "produced" for this and males are still discarded. Many baby chicks die in transport. Still creating and contributing to suffering.

What happens if he/she orders eggs to raise or decides to let his hens hatch their eggs? What happens if he gets a bunch of male chicks? It's hard to keep all of them in a small space. It can be done but males don't produce eggs so many farmers would not see the value in them... and kill them.

Isn't just easier to stop eating eggs or food with eggs in them? I think so!

And let me be clear, I am speaking this from the standpoint of someone who has 2 hens and could actually be eating eggs if I wanted too. But I don't. Mostly because I don't feel the need to any more.

Sure there is an ideal scenario. I think we have it actually.

We have two hens who were rescues. We didn't buy chicks or eggs to raise. We adopted them because they needed a home and we had the space and the ability to care for them. They live a natural life and will not be killed when they stop laying. They are not manipulated to keep laying in the winter through lights or temperature. They get the best food and health care we can give them. Our neighbors get probably the best eggs they'll ever find.

At the end of the day, for us, it's all about eliminating suffering, living lighter on the earth and living a healthy life. We aren't looking for loopholes. I think that consistency helps us and helps share what we stand for too.

I love to hear more from you and any other questions you may have.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Marketing Veganism

This is such a great article that I wanted to reprint it here. Bolding is my own.

Marketing Veganism
Posted on 2010/08/06 by Know Thank You

We tend to feel a bit different than everyone else, don’t we? So many of our choices in life separate us from the mainstream and make us different. The fact is though that there are many more things in common between us and mainstream omnivores than there are separating us. That’s something we tend to forget when we’re not in a restaurant or a clothing store. The rest of the time, we’re also mainstream consumers, just like everyone else, and this is important to remember.

As vegans we tend to focus on a short list of things that get us really excited: great food that doesn’t have some horrible ingredient, politicians or scientific reports or movies that support our choices, cool clothing with a message we like, there’s all kinds of things that get our hearts pounding and our keyboards melting. And it’s great, because the vegan cookies and the factory farm movies and the Nail The Vivisectors t-shirts will be embraced by all of us. By all of our little 1% of the population.

So much of what we produce, what we wear, what we write, and say, and do, separates veganism from what everyone else is doing. And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it, but it also creates an “us against them” atmosphere that’s not always welcoming to everybody else. And what we really want to do is bring everybody else here, isn’t it? A lot of the time though we come across as preachy and judgmental. While everyone else is out there trying their best to ignore the terrible realities, there we go shoving it in their faces. Even if we have our facts right (and let’s face it, we do), not everyone else shares our morals. They are entitled to their own, even if we disagree with them. And a lot of the time, our in-your-face tactics turn people off. Rather than inform them, they get defensive, they ignore us, and our whole message is lost. The public often perceives us as being anti-establishment, and as opposing a lot of the things that they hold dear.

What we need to do is show the public that vegans aren’t anti-establishment, we’re pro-establishment! We love the establishment, because we love the public. We’re the public too! We love for the public to get what they want, and we love the companies that produce those things. Remember, every vegan business you can think of, without exception, operates within the laws and practices of modern business. Vegan businesses use those laws and practices to provide compassionate products and services to us and other people around the globe. We can’t possibly afford to be anti-establishment; we need to give vegan businesses all the support we can, so they can grow and show the rest of the establishment how it should be done. If we stop being anti-establishment, vegans can start being the leaders of positive change within the establishment.

So if a lot of vegan products, vegan films, vegan writing, and more make us appear separate from the rest of the world, how do we get back in? Back to where we all came from so we can talk to people there and bring them out? Basically, how do we get our message of compassion to the other 99% of America? How do we appeal to mainstream consumers – like us?

This used to be easy. Years ago the majority of American households were white, suburban, 2.4 rug rats, and got most of their news from the TV set. If we still had one type of audience now we could figure out pretty easily how to appeal to them. But that stereotypical American family began to change a few decades ago, and there’s no longer any average American household or average American consumer. The buying public now includes a much wider variety of ethnic groups, ages, professions, family situations, and other criteria that all impact the choices people make. What we want is for everyone to choose compassion, environment, and health, but unfortunately, the vast majority of people aren’t looking for these things.

When most consumers shop for window cleaning fluid, they just look at price and grab what’s on sale in the store. Occasionally they’ll have a brand preference. They don’t consider the hazardous chemicals, or the plastic bottle, or the fact that they could simply use vinegar instead and save even more money. The consumer wants to save money and doesn’t want to have to think about it.

When most consumers shop for bread, they usually pick a brand they prefer because they like the combination of price and flavor. There may be other brands with better flavor, but they often won’t buy them unless they’re on sale. The ingredients are almost never checked. They stick with a brand they know, despite any negative impact the production or consumption may have.

I’m vastly simplifying this, but you get the point. If you want to sell a vegan product to a random person who’s not vegan, you are likely to have greater success by highlighting qualities of the product that he or she can most relate to. If you’re selling window cleaner, try some alternate ads highlighting the wonderful scent, sparkle, or offering a special low price. If you’re selling vegan bread, try some alternate ads highlighting the wonderful flavor, freshness, or offering a special low price. Speak in terms they understand.

Remember the things that draw most people to veganism? Compassion, environment, and health. For many years we have shown a vegan lifestyle as a very effective way to both attain positive results in each of these areas and to address related chronic problems. The big stumbling block is that nearly 100% of our outreach hasn’t shown that we are successfully attaining positive results – we’re healthier, we recycle, we rescue etc etc – our outreach has instead highlighted that we vegans are locked in a fight with all the related chronic problems. Your average consumer isn’t looking for a fight. He doesn’t want to stand up to corporations. He doesn’t want to read labels. He doesn’t want to boycott. He doesn’t want to protest. He doesn’t want to hand out leaflets. He wants things easy. He doesn’t even want to have to think. Being explained very clearly that something is total nonsense and even life-threatening doesn’t stop people from doing it, in fact that can actually propel some people to make that choice. After years of campaigning and government warnings, people still start smoking each day and smoking related deaths continue. Despite how remarkably stupid they are, the senselessly violent stunts in films like Jackass are reproduced by people, and each year people die in the process. It seems as though people actually avoid knowledge, as if it’s too much work, and our media perpetuates this. Any television news program, once advertising, entertainment, opinion, and chit-chat have been removed, leaves very few – if any – facts for us to have to bother with. Mainstream consumers aren’t being informed; they’re being encouraged how to think.

Look at the advertising on television now and really cut it apart. You’ll find that most ads don’t tell us much about the product at all. Instead, they try to tell us about the people that use the product. We are meant to identify with those people or desire to be one of those people, and we can be! All we have to do is buy the product. Once again, the ads don’t inform, they create desire. What we need to do then is a better job of making veganism desirable. We all know that each and every one of us is healthier, is kinder to the environment, and just by choosing a vegan diet we save dozens of lives every year. Those are the kinds of messages that mainstream consumers are more accustomed to. Keeping things simple, positive, “new and improved,” and desirable: that’s the kind of message that drives decisions.

There will ALWAYS be a place for the hard-hitting exposure that some hard-working vegans give to abusive corporations and individuals. That type of abuse should not exist, and exposing it helps to bring about change. To be most effective changing the lives of mainstream America though we can learn something from the mass media that’s already doing so: do less informing of people, and more creating desire in people. “Give the customer what they want” is an overwhelmingly obvious rule of marketing. We tend to ignore that and instead put all our efforts into giving the customer what we want them to see and hear. That’s something like adults sending the kids to math class rather than healthy, compassionate people sharing their successes. Let’s tweak what we’re putting out there – sell our product a little better – and we’ll likely find more people will buy it.

Back to me> I think the information is important but also showing that I can cook, and cook great delicious easy meals is part of how I try to showcase being vegan. That there are other options.

How else can we help show this is the desirable way to live?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Soul is the Same

"The Soul is the same in all living creatures;

although the body of each is different."

- Hippocrates