Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leo Tolstoy, why I went vegan and why we can NEVER stop spreading the word

“If it were not so blindly accepted as part of our customs and traditions, how could any sensitive person accept the thought that in order to feed ourselves we should kill such a large number of animals, in spite of the fact that our earth gives us so many different treasures from plants?” - Leo Tolstoy

When I was 25, my sister announced to the family that she had “gone vegetarian.” Curious, I asked her why, and she said it was because she wouldn’t eat anything that had a face, whatever THAT meant. My response, as I recall, went something like this: “Well we’re omnivores, just like bears, so when you convince a bear to stopping eating meat, then I’ll stop eating meat.”

That was almost 20 years ago and I’ve been vegan for nearly 10. It just goes to show you that anyone can change, even a numbskull like me. My “epiphany” came about 12 years ago, after reading a book called A Calendar of Wisdom, by Leo Tolstoy; a collection of quotes from such thinkers as Lao Tzu, Socrates, Mohammed and Henry David Thoreau, as well as bits of wisdom by Leo himself.

Reading this particular quote (above) was the turning point for me. It just made good sense. Why would I cause the unnecessary suffering of other animals if I didn’t have to? If I could survive by eating vegetables, fruits, grains and other plant foods (foods my mother always said were good for me), then to have animals killed merely for my eating enjoyment would just be cruel.

This was at a time when I didn’t know any other vegetarians (my sister eventually went back to eating animal products) and as far as I knew, PeTA was a type of bread from the Middle East, but within a few weeks, I had given up all animal flesh, and I didn’t die! Not only that, but it was easy to make the switch to a vegetarian diet because I just replaced the hotdogs, hamburgers and burritos - all I was really eating at the time - with veggie dogs, veggie burgers and veggie burritos.

I felt pretty good about myself, knowing that I wasn’t causing the suffering and death of all these animals, and then in 2000, a friend of mine invited me to go listen to a guy who was giving a talk at the local university. It was during Professor Francione’s lecture that I learned what happened to dairy cows and egg-laying chickens, and so I vowed that night to go vegan, and have been ever since.

So when people say that promoting veganism is hopeless, I remind them that I used to be just like the people we’re trying to educate today, and look at me now! There is always hope.

I know it might seem like we’re not getting anywhere but we are. We have to remember that this is a new movement and it’s going to take some time to undo thousands of years of anthropocentrism and animal oppression. But more and more people ARE going vegan, and while it might not be popular right now, at least people know about it, which wasn’t the case 20 years ago when hardly anyone even knew what it meant.

And I know it’s frustrating and heart-wrenching to know that millions of animals are being killed each and every day which is why we need to get out there and spread the word and NEVER LOSE HOPE. The animals are depending on us.

But I thought you said Brock already WAS vegetarian friendly???

Rant by Daniel K. Wilson

According to peta2, if you're a university student in Canada these days, it's easy to find top-notch vegetarian and vegan foods - unless you attend Brock University in St. Catharines (near Niagara Falls). For the complete news release, click here:

Okay, so this kinda ticks me off. Not that I'm against a campaign to increase the number of vegetarian and vegan options on college and university campuses; in fact I think it's a great idea (greater if they were pushing for all VEGAN options). I just don't like the way this one was done.

Last November, peta2 put out a press release praising Brock University for their meatless options. "Brock is showing its respect for students by offering them food choices that are good for their health, animals and the planet," said Ryan Huling, a peta2 spokesperson. Check out the complete story here:

And now, 10 months later, Brock is the scourge of North America for "consistently" failing to provide students with healthy, humane meat alternatives. It would've been nice if they'd actually interviewed some of the students or members of BARC (Brock Animal Rights Club) instead of using Ryan Huling, peta2's college campaign coordinator, who last year was commending the university, and is now flunking it.

It just feels like a lie.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Leaving the Bees Be: Why Vegans Won't Eat Honey

Pacific Free Press - Saturday, September 19, 2009

By Mickey Z.

There are many valid reasons, including Colony Collapse Disorder.

Most non-vegans seem to get why some people won't eat meat. It gets a little less clear when the topics are eggs and dairy products...but the reasons can be provided and debated. When things turn to bees and honey, however, the reactions range from incredulity to sheer mockery.

In other words, a good explanation of why vegans eschew honey is needed. It starts with a core understanding of what it means for most people to be a vegan.

"Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life," writes Jo Stepaniak.

[For complete article links, please see source at Planet Green here.]

As detailed by PETA, "Like other factory-farmed animals, honeybees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation ... Profiting from honey requires the manipulation and exploitation of the insects' desire to live and protect their hive."

To which, Stepaniak adds: "Even the most careful keeper cannot help but squash or otherwise kill many of the bees in the process. During unproductive months, some beekeepers may starve their bees to death or burn the hive to avoid complex maintenance."

It should not be a surprise that many of those seeking to exclude "all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom," would avoid the conscious manipulation of bees. The goal is not purity, of course. Instead, veganism often comes down to an issue of intent.

I know what some of you are thinking: They're just bees. Lighten up. It just so happens that bees are extremely intelligent and studies have demonstrated that they feel pain. Plus, the standard retort of "they're only insects" the above description of why some people would adopt a compassionate vegan lifestyle in the first place.

Recent events have provided the most powerful - and very, very green - reason why the earth-friendly crowd might refrain from honey consumption: Colony Collapse Disorder. Like many things about nature, we humans take honeybees for granted. But, as we're learning, a major portion of our food relies on bees at the critical early stages of its development. This is why the sudden disappearance of honeybees, a.k.a. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is all the more alarming. "The bee losses are especially distressing in light of a study last year that concluded that pollinators such as bees, birds and bats affect 35% of the world's crop production, increasing the output of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide," writes Jasmin Malik Chua.

The cause (or causes) of CCD are not yet understood. Some of the proposed causes include "environmental change-related stresses malnutrition, pathogens (i.e., disease including Israel acute paralysis virus), mites, pesticides such as neonicotinoids or imidacloprid, genetically modified (GM) crops with pest control characteristics such as transgenic maize, and migratory beekeeping."

What does drizzling some honey on your morning granola have to do with all this? Here's PETA again: "BeeCulture magazine reports that beekeepers are notorious for contributing to the spread of disease: 'Beekeepers move infected combs from diseased colonies to healthy colonies, fail to recognize or treat disease, purchase old infected equipment, keep colonies too close together, [and] leave dead colonies in apiaries.' Artificial diets, provided because farmers take the honey that bees would normally eat, leave bees susceptible to sickness and attack from other insects. When diseases are detected, beekeepers are advised to 'destroy the colony and burn the equipment,' which can mean burning or gassing the bees to death."

All this for something not necessary for human nutritional needs. "Humans can live quite well without sugar or honey," says Stepaniak. "As a rule, extensive use of sweeteners is found only in affluent societies." In other words, honey is a novelty food that has not only spawned a massive global industry, it's also helped put one of nature's critical species in danger. *If the demand for honey were to lessen and ultimately vanish, the bees might be saved along with much of the human food supply.

Let's bring it down to basics: After a bee swallows floral nectar, it is partially digested in its primary stomach where the bee adds its own digestive secretion. It is then regurgitated. This bee vomit is called honey and is considered to be food by the people who take it from the hives. However, whether honey is produced locally or on an industrial scale, two realities remain:

1. Bees will inevitably be killed in the process

2. There is no nutritional reason for humans to consume honey

Four Ways Vegans (and non-Vegans) Can Potentially Help the Bees and the Planet:

1. Stop buying and eating honey (along with beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, and other products that come from bees).

2. If you have a serious honey habit and need to transition slowly, choose locally produced honey for now.

3. Learn more about CCD and what you can do.

4. Switch to delicious, non-exploitative green sweeteners.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Show Your Support - Buy a Shirt!

We still have a few "Priceless" shirts available for anyone who couldn't make it to the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair.

The front has our logo and the back has our rant. They come in small, medium and large (extra large sold out) sizes and in both unisex and ladies styles.

They're $20.00 each (no tax) plus shipping. Email me at for yours!