Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why do people stop being a vegetarian?

That's the question professor Hal Herzog asked himself and devoted a blogpost on. You can read his post here.

His writings and research on vegetarianism/veganism peaked my interest, so this will be the first of several blogpost discussing Herzog's ideas. What attracted my attention immediately was this post in which he discribes a study on former vegetarians.

He had ex-vegetarians fill out an online survey to discover why they stopped being a vegetarian. Professor Hal Herzog and Morgan Childers set up a special website and looked for participants on several online internet boards and sites dealing with such subjects as nutrition, animal rights or health.

His respondents:

Over the next week or so, seventy-seven former vegetarians took our survey. As is true of vegetarians generally, the majority of the participants were women. Their average age was 28, and on average, they had been vegetarian for nine years before for reverting back to eating animals

This I do find a bit lacking. 77 respondents isn't exactly a big enough survey to draw conclusions from.

We asked the participants to indicate the primary reasons they quit eating meat in the first place and why they subsequently decided to give up their all-plant diet.

Vegetarians don't have an all-plant diet. Vegetarians can still eat certain animal products (such as eggs). Vegans have an all-plant diet.

He points out on his blog that the majority of vegetarians did so for ethical reasons (I couldn't agree more with this). I don't agree his conclusions about the why...why do vegetarians stop being vegetarians?

In fact, thirty-five percent of our participants indicated that declining health was the main reason they reverted back to eating flesh.

I've blogged about vegetarianism and health before, so I'm not going to go into that in this post. But it is my experience and observation that mostly social isolation, mockery and a hostile environment is the main reason that vegetarians turn into ex-vegetarians. The social issues are pointed out on his blog, but I believe they are underestimated:

A related reason for returning to meat consumption, one mentioned by 15% of our subjects, was that vegetarianism was taking a toll on their social life. The degree that vegetarianism and particularly moral veganism can screw up your day to day existence

Hassles and Social Stigmas. About a quarter of our ex-veggies described the hassles they said were associated with strict vegetarianism.

I think a hostile response from the environment (family, friends, spouse,...) is the main reasons. Be it directly or indirectly. To give an example from that very blogpost:

They complained that it was difficult to find high quality organic vegetables in their local supermarkets at a reasonable price.

It is quite easy to conclude from this that it isn't easy to find healthy affordable food, which is important to have a balanced diet. This could in turn lead to health problems (not vegetarianism/veganism itself). So it could be that the reasons are intertwined.

I also believe (also from personal experience) that far more people experience direct opposition and social stigma to their vegetarianism/veganism than the figures in this small study show us. This is something that becomes quite clear if you follow the media. The times vegetarianism, animal rights or environmental groups are brushed aside or vilified are incredible. From topics such as global warming to the treatment of fur animals or hunting. It isn't treated fairly in the media or by society. It might get some chance in a fair ethical debate, behind the walls of university classrooms (and even then...). But not in general society.

but it deserves to be talking seriously, something professor Hal Herzog seems to agree with:

In fact, I believe the case against eating other creatures is strong on moral, environmental, and health grounds.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

fox shoots hunter

Like the title says: fox shoots hunter. The hunter has become the hunted...quite literally!

A hunter in Belarus wound up in the hospital after he was shot by a fox he had wounded and was trying to kill with the butt of his rifle. As the determined fox fought back, she pulled the trigger of the gun with her paw.

read more about it here

Monday, June 21, 2010

fur protests and freedom of expression

The fur industry has been complaining for years about the ‘unfair’ way in which they are being treated in the media. Animals supposedly are given the best care of the world and animal activists (as in we: the bad guys and gals) are a bunch of fanatics, liars and monsters that want to impose our vile will on others and take away all that is fine and good in life.
It is a sad reality that many people believe the dribble that the fur industry puts out. In the US and Canada in particular, the industry has had much success. Not so much here in Europe …. But even here they still can get away with it. And their PR-campaigns and simple populist argumentations are indeed paying off. Just take a look at Norway.
The Norwegian animal rights group Dyrs Frihet (animal’s freedom) is just one of many victims of paranoia towards animal and environmental activists.

Dyrsfrihet (in norwegian)

Oslopolitiets har nylig nyinnført et forbud både mot å ytre seg og dele ut informasjon om pels og pelsdyroppdrett. Forbudet har skapt sterke reaksjoner blant dyrevernere. Nå vurderer Amnesty hvorvidt politiets grunnlag for å begrense ytringsfriheten er lovlig.

Bottom line: The Oslo police department has made it illegal to flyer or protest fur in any way. Yes, that’s right: democracy only counts when you say what they want you to say. This is just one example of the restriction of freedom of expression that not only threatens animal/green activists, but our society itself. First it’s us, but who is it tomorrow? (reminds me of the green is the new red blog)
Amnesty International has actually decided to intervene (so yes, it’s a big deal)

according to Norwegian media:

freedom of expression

Vi mener disse bestemmelsene er såpass spesielle at vi har bedt en advokat om å se nærmere på det på bakgrunn av svaret vi fikk fra politiet, sier generalsekretær John Peder Egenæs til Lokalavisen.

Amnesty international has asked a lawyer to investigate the matter further and John Peder Egenæs of the human rights group has expressed his concern regarding our right to freedom of expression and basic democratic principles are being restrained.

The Oslo police were quite smart by the way in taking animal activists out of the picture in their city. They defended their actions by referring to protests that ‘got out of control’ and hinted that there was a threat of violence (because we all know how violent and backstabbing we are now don’t we?). They didn’t even make it literally illegal to protest fur. They just made it illegal to protest within a radius of about 150 metres of any shop that sells fur. In a country like Oslo, this means just about the entire city centre. How cute…

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meat free monday / thursday

All across the world, more and more people are being exposed to a meatfree diet. Thanks to meat free mondays (or thursdays in my country) people get to know vegetarian foods and are able to explore a new world. They come to the realization that vegetarianism/veganism is more than just lentils or salad and they are educated about the terrible effects current meat consumption has on the planet. Every step in the right direction is a good one and if this makes people think... all the better.

This is why I am proud to live in belgium (well sometimes proud...). Ghent (one of our major cities) was the first one in the world to have an official meat free day (thursday) and this caused a chain reaction with more and more cities all across the world following in our footsteps, international news coverage and many opportunities to get alternatives and information out there!

Recently the belgian vegetarian union EVA got to celebrate the first 'birthday' of 'donderdag veggiedag' (thursday vegetarian day). They used this opportunity to expose people to this concise but to the point video about the why of this campaign and how each of us can make a difference.

Here is the video (in english):

They translated the vid to dutch and posted it on their website (and youtube as well). You can find it here: one day can make a difference

If you know dutch or like using google translate :), check out their campaign website here: thursday vegetarian day

Campaigns such as these are clearly making a difference, just an example: tel aviv university meat free

Friday, April 9, 2010

GAIA fights horse slaughter

Several years ago the United States outlawed the slaughter of horses. This praiseworthy step was one in the right direction for a better and more compassionate world for animals. Unfortunately this did not deter the belgian meat industry, nor did it stop all people in the US who were willing to have their horses slaughtered (more evidence that things like horse races aren't about the horses but about $$$?).

My country is one of the last countries out there where people still eat horse meat, something frowned upon by other countries such as England for decades. Now, the Belgian animal rights group GAIA (Global Action in the Interests of Animals) is fighting back hard.

They recently released undercover footage of the suffering that horses must endure during the long transports and the appaling slaughter conditions in Mexico or Brasil(and the US ain't much better by the way).

Watch the video(available in english):

As you can see: Animals are being transported across long distances without access to water or food. They are abused and suffer, and of course die an agonizing death for nothing.

Animal rights group GAIA has made headlines with this new campaign, which can only be a good thing. The more people see what animals go through, the better... (It is a pity we can't make people care though)

Here is some background information from the GAIA website about the footage and horse meat ending up in belgian supermarkets(in dutch):

Suffering of horses for belgian consumption

Belgische paardenvleesbedrijven zijn verantwoordelijk voor de zware verwaarlozing en mishandeling van tienduizenden paarden. Deze bedrijven, die eigenaar zijn van paardenslachthuizen in Zuid-Amerika en paardenvlees uit Zuid-Amerika verhandelen aan supermarkten in België, houden die wanpraktijken in stand.

In brief: Belgian meat companies are responsible for the serious neglect and abuse of tens of thousands of horses.

De meeste paarden, die in Mexico worden geslacht, worden vanuit Texas in de Verenigde Staten naar Mexicaanse slachthuizen vervoerd in dubbeldekkers. Die zijn in Mexico verboden. In Texas worden jaarlijks duizenden paarden vanuit de hele Verenigde Staten verzameld op een plaats die eigendom is van Bel-Tex, een tak van het Belgische paardenvleesbedrijf Multimeat

Most of the horses being slaughtered in Mexico are being transported from Texas. Horses from all over the US are being gathered there on land owned by Bel-Tex(part of the belgian company Multimeat).

GAIA made a campaign site informing consumers here
It is all in dutch, but if you want to read it, use google translate.

I hope this new campaign will help put an end to some of the suffering that animals must endure daily. Only time will tell if it has a positive effect.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

fur stop: animal suffering on finnish fur farms

Animal suffering on finnish fur farms:

More information can be found here: fur stop

Major setback for the fur industry

The fur industry has been stepping up lately, claiming that fur is back and here to stay. It might be true that fur has become more popular the last few years, because the media has been deliberately saturated with it in order to promote it as aggressively as possible...that does not mean that fur is here to stay, nor that it is suddenly ethical or right.

Quite the contrary: a lot has happened in the last couple of months. Cruelty on danish and norwegian fur farms (supposed to be amongst the best in the world) has been exposed to the public and created an international outrage, danish fur breeders have been charged with animal abuse, Ireland moved to ban fur production, Holland is close to outlawing mink farming, denmark outlawed fox farming, ...

You can read more about these cases here: is the end in sight for the fur industry

The list goes on and on. And now two more victories can be added to the list. Israel is very close to becoming the first fur-free country in the world and cruelty on finnish fur farms is exposed to the general public.

Haaretz:Israel to ban fur

The Ministerial Committee on Law and Constitution voted Sunday to ban the import and export of furs of all kind, save those designated for religious or traditional use.

I haven't heard politicians say this very often in regards to the fur industry:

We should set an example to the rest of the world on this matter."

To me a clear sign that our hard work is paying off.

Finnish fur farms: fur stop

Over seven months, 30 fur farms, seven hours of footage and one and a half thousand photographs, Animal Defenders International investigated a random sample of Finnish fur farms. This investigation exposes the terrible suffering that is part and parcel of the fur industry.

As you can read on their news page , their campaign is already having an international effect.

But this doesn't mean we have "won". There are still much more work to do. So don't give in and do not relent.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hunters help nature?

Gun lovers exists everywhere...sure, the worst case of gun addiction can be found in the United States, but the 'Sarah Palin' disease also exists in certain european countries (luckily it is somewhat less worse and less propagated).

But swedish hunters recently got a chance to have some serious 'fun'. They got a chance to go out and kill some wolves, with disastrous consequences.

Sweden to import wolves

It might be necessary for Sweden to import wolves soon. Yes, you read that right! As is again demonstrated: hunters are great "protecters" of nature! What would we do without Palin, Dick Cheney and their hordes and hordes of kindred souls everywhere across the globe? (something we can only dream of)

Earlier this month, Sweden staged the country's first licensed wolf hunt for over four decades, allowing a total quota of 27 wolves to be shot - a little more than 10 per cent of the total Scandinavian wolf population.

For starters: the hunters were allowed to kill 27 wolves, but of course they managed to kill more. Ok 1 more, but out of a population of only about 200 - 250 wolves in that entire country. When dealing with such small numbers, every wolf counts from a preservation perspective (and of course every wolf counts from an animal rights perspective!).

To me, it is a miracle that 'only' 28 wolves got killed. It could have been a lot more, as becomes clear when reading swedish newspapers.

Wolves had 4500 hunters after them

Licensjakten på varg lockade ut runt 4.500 jägare i skog och mark. Cirka 12.000 jägare hade registrerat sig hos Naturvårdsverket för vargjakt, men alla deltog inte i jakten.

For those of you that don't understand swedish: it says that 12000 hunters had themselves registered to participate in this hunt. In the end, 4500 got to join in to kill only a handful of wolves out of a very small population. And all of these animals were perfectly healthy (the hunt was meant to kill the 'weaker' animals).

Sweden on Thursday announced plans to inject fresh blood into its wolf population that is threatened by inbreeding, including possible import of 20 wolves in coming years.

First shoot them, and then when people had their fun: recognize that there suddenly is a problem and import some new! I find this mindblowing, but this was to be expected.

It was clear - to me - that nothing the hunters said to defend their hunt made any sense.

According to an article from hunters pay most of the scientific research out there on wildlife (like the US or Canada?):

Politikers beslut om jaktfrågor grundar sig delvis på forskning om viltfrågor. Men alla känner inte till att jägarna själva finansierar merparten av all viltforskning i Sverige. Allmänna medel står för mindre än en fjärdedel.

So, politicians take their decisions based 'partly' on scientific research. But the hunters themselves finance the majority of all research in this area. Funny that we are always 'biased' according to hunters, while they are exactly what they claim we are.

What depresses me, is that they always get away with it. They can do anything they want, and remain unscarred. At least here in europe there is somewhat of a backlash because of this, including scientists who openly distanced themselves from this hunt. This gives me some hope, especially when I read about similar cases in the US or Canada, where we are simply branded as extremists by default.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sara Green: miss Newfoundland and Labrador on sealing

Ok, here are we at it again: the seal hunt. The topic that has touched the hearts and minds of ordinary folks everywhere for the last 40 years, and has been at the top of the list of animal welfare and right groups.

Just last year the seals got a big break, when the EU banned seal fur in all of the 27 member states: european union bans seal fur

As a result of this, the sealing industry almost crumbled into dust...but there are still people out there willing to defend it: some canadian politicians have developed a special skill in spouting populistic rethoric against the European Union, and so do certain opinion makers in Canada and elsewhere.

You can image that we - as a movement - were already getting used to obscene or whacked out attacks, accusations and far out statements made by sealers.

It takes some getting used to: like Fox (Faux?) News or the jaw dropping commentary of Rush Limbaugh on health care reform. But a recent post on Ecorazzi left me gasping for air...if only for a moment: Sarah Green

A Facebook group called “F**k Off Newfoundland — Leave Our Seals Alone” posted a photoshopped version of the original with bloody seal carcasses, with green wielding a hackapik.

OK, so now she's angry because of this pic on that facebook group.

“I grew up in a family that goes seal hunting every year,” she added, “and I’m going to go seal hunting this year. I really am.”

Huh? That is your response to the critics? Go kill some animals yourself? As an extra provocation? Showing your blatant disregard for animal welfare, international pressure, the arguments of animal welfare and animal right groups, the opinion of more and more canadians?...

Also notice that she doesn't defend the practice: her defense is this: my family does it, so I do it. Smashing their heads in or shooting them is good... Lets support the international fur industry... Makes perfect sense.

But wait, maybe she does have something objective to back here up. Well, not really. Just about every article said the same: and it was empty rhetoric. She made her mind up long ago and according to me isn't prepared to give it a second thought.

miss N.L. stands up for sealing

She's 19, has a gun licence and is a beauty queen being hailed as an unlikely hero of Canada's fading commercial seal hunt.


Talking about a photoshopped pic on the net where she was shown covered in blood and surrounded by dead seals:

"It was gruesome. It was unnecessary ... when I saw the photo, of course my jaw dropped," she said in an interview. "I couldn't believe it, but it gave me a bigger motivation to stand up for the seal hunt."

Yes, way to go Sarah: the words gruesome and unnecessary do apply, but they apply to the seal hunt. the very thing you support by wearing seal fur.

She has a firearms licence and plans to join her grandfather and uncle on their annual seal hunt this spring, she said.

And as we all know: if she starts killing and butchering seals...she will be covered in blood and surrounded by dead seals. Then nobody will need to use photoshop...or The GIMP to be able to show the world a gruesome and unnecessary picture of her. Way to go.

Also consider this: she received criticism on a facebookgroup, and her response is to go out and kill some more. I can't shake the feeling that this is nothing more but revenge.

Furthermore, Sara Green proves that she doesn't know what the hell she is talking about by stating:

Green said the hunt is needed to control voracious seal populations that feast on fragile cod and herring stocks.

In case you haven't noticed Sara, the canadian government and many sealers explicitly state that WE ARE WRONG when we claim that sealing happens to protect cod and herring.

And here is the evidence for the entire of Canada to see, right on the CBS website:

CBS: seal hunt

According to CBS:

The federal government says anti-sealing groups are wrong to suggest that it's allowing the hunt to help cod stocks recover.

"The commercial seal quota is established based on sound conservation principles, not an attempt to assist in the recovery of groundfish stocks," the DFO says. "Seals eat cod, but seals also eat other fish that prey on cod."

If she can't even get the basic 'facts' (pro-sealing propaganda?) right, how can we believe anything she or anyone else defending the seal industry says?

Sara Green further states the following:

"It's been a part of our heritage for hundreds of years and there's no reason to be bashing it," she said. "I mean, it's become so humane in the last few years. There's been so many changes to make it better and make it less dreadful for the seals."

There are almost no changes, the biggest change - in my opinion - was the obligation to bleed out the seals before skinning them. Something that was recommended years ago, but only became law in 2008...Because the canadian goverment wanted to stop the European Union from banning their cruel, immoral and inhumane products perhaps?

Many animals are still killed by bashing their heads in untill their brains explode by the way. And shooting them with a rifle hasn't been to succesfull either:

I'm sure Sara thinks this is all fine and dandy? Many more of these videos out there.

People keep asking her if she's afraid for her safety, she said.

This is also something that bothers me. As if the 'opponents' of sealing are a bunch of violent murderers the likes of Bin Laden. It smells like fear mongering.

"And that scares me. I hadn't really thought of that. But I've got all of Newfoundland and Labrador backing me up."

Everyone? And you can prove that? Is that a fact?

The depths to which pro sealers are willing to sink are mind blowing to me. Just consider this article I found:

Canadian Government Sacrifices Cats and Dogs for Seals

A recent article by the Canadian Press has revealed that the government of Canada will not join the United States and Europe in barring cat and dog fur imports, in fear such action could weaken Canada's position against the banning of seal products by other countries.

In order to play their political games with the Union, they are willing to do anything. What's next? Cat and dog slaughterhouses in canada?

All legal, so Canada can protect sealing. Canadians...It is time to step up and do something about this. Have your voices heard and stop this madness.

Sarah Green wants to go seal hunting

I just wanted to give you people a heads up:

miss newfoundland and labrador

Yes, she supports the seal hunt, wears seal, is proud of it and wants to go out and kill some more...herself this time. Then why is she shocked to see a picture of herself holding a bloody hackapik?

The way in which pro sealers are defending themselves is getting to be more and more bizarre and childlike.

I've written a full post about it in the mean time. Find it here: Sarah Green defends sealing

Click on the tag 'sealing' of this post...I've already written about this topic before.