Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vegan Education Works!

I was recently on holiday in Alice Springs, Australia, where I got to meet fellow activists Renata Peters and Timothy Putnam from the Alice Springs Vegan Society. I also had the chance to help out at their wonderful vegan education stall at the Sunday markets!

I enjoyed helping out, and many people came up to us interested in learning more about veganism and trying a delicious free vegan cupcake. We had many great conversations, and there were definitely a few new vegans out there afterwards.

I love face-to-face advocacy, people are generally much more friendlier in real life than online. People like Renata and Timothy are my role models, and I hope to have my own vegan education stall one day like theirs. I'm quite a shy person, and mainly I do online activism and use my design skills to create vegan education resources for other advocates to use. But I'd love to practice and learn how to talk to and educate people face-to-face as well as they do! It's really the best feeling standing at a stall on the street or at a market promoting veganism to the public.

Some people say that vegan education doesn't work. Some are scared of using the word "vegan" because they don't want to scare people away. But the reality is, creative, nonviolent vegan education does work, and it doesn't scare people away! Many people come up to us and are genuinely interested in learning about veganism and why to go vegan. We are always friendly and non-confrontational, and that's a very important thing.

Educating people about veganism creates new vegans. It decreases the demand for animal products. It raises awareness. It is changing the world - one new vegan at a time! I am excited to see more and more people going vegan and wanting to go vegan these days, proof that vegan education really is working!

Don't be afraid of getting out there in your community and spreading the message of veganism and animal rights. There are many ways you can do vegan advocacy, such as having a stall on the street or at a market, making youtube videos, inviting non-vegan friends over for a vegan dinner, painting a picture, giving a speech, there are many possibilities so get creative!

Don't give up if you try it and no one tells you then and there that they're going to go vegan. The most important thing is that you are out there, speaking the truth and being a voice for the victims of animal exploitation. With every person you talk to, you are planting seeds. We can't control when those seeds will sprout, or if they will sprout, but at least they've been planted, and that's what matters. Focus on those who are interested in hearing what you have to say instead of the people who don't want to listen. And there will be many who will be interested and open to learning about it.

We need grassroots vegan activists all over the world, speaking out and educating others about veganism, and teaching people that other animals are not "things" for us to use, they are sentient individuals who deserve the one right not to be viewed as the property of another, no matter how well they're treated. After going vegan, educating people about veganism is the most important thing we can do to help nonhuman animals. It's a thousand times more effective than a petition or single-issue campaign, because it focuses on all uses of animals, and it strikes at the roots by reducing the demand - rather than attacking the supplier (which is only there because of the demand anyway).

Please be a clear, consistent, nonviolent voice for other animals. There are so many ways you can do it, so find a way that works for you. Let's work together to create a better world! ♥

I'll end with a wonderful and inspiring poster by LiveVegan, featuring another photo of the fabulous Alice Springs Vegan Society market stall and a quote from Howard Zinn:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"You Should Respect My Decision"

"I respect your decision to be vegan, so you should respect my decision to eat, wear and use animal products," many people tell me, wondering why I can't respect someone else's choices.

The thing is, this isn't just about you and your choices. It isn't like making a simple decision whether to listen to pop music or rock music, which of course I wouldn't get in the way of, because you're free to listen to whatever you like.

But there are victims here. Living, breathing, feeling victims.

For every non-vegan choice, someone was enslaved, exploited, and murdered. I can't respect the decision to participate in such violence, when clearly, there are so many other options that don't involve the intentional harming of others.

Would you respect someone's decision to beat a puppy or a kitten?

Would you respect a cannibal's decision to kill and eat another human, just because they like the way the flesh tastes?

Would you respect a person's decision to abuse their child, or their spouse?

Would you respect a rapist's decision to rape someone?

I hope you wouldn't. I hope that you would stand up for the victims. For what is right.

I am not just voicing an opinion when I talk about veganism. I am speaking out for the victims of animal exploitation.

In the end, the choice is yours. I can only educate and be here to offer help and support if you're interested in becoming vegan. But please don't expect me to respect a decision that unjustly exploits and harms others.

I just can't do that.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is Veganism a Diet?

Diets are something you do for yourself, your own health. You can go on and off a diet whenever you want. You can cheat every now and then, since a little bit won't do any harm to your health. It's entirely about you.

Being vegan is not about ourselves. It is about rejecting violence towards other animals. It is not something you can go on and off or cheat on. Once we recognise that using others is wrong, we can't go back and we can't only do it part-time. How could we? We'd be betraying the victims if we did.

Of course, being vegan can have great health benefits, but they're just benefits. We should never forget who it's really about.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Child's Nature

Lately I've been thinking about something that happened when I was a young child. I had a friend who lived on a farm, who I would often go over to play with. We loved to go exploring in the small forest his family had on their property. One day, his mother came up to us while we were playing in the living room. And she told him that the next day, his cow was going to be butchered.

His cow. The individual he'd raised from a calf, who he'd loved and taken care of, was going to be killed tomorrow. They'd close the curtains, his mother said, so that he didn't have to watch it happen. I could tell he was upset, although he tried to hide it. I felt sorry for both him and the cow. But that's the way things had to be, I thought. I tried to block out my sadness, and even made an awful joke a few days later as my family was having dinner, that the mince we were eating was my friend's cow. It was my way of shoving away the guilt, trying to be like a 'normal' person who doesn't care about the animals we enslave and murder for our meals.

Children are not born to be killers. They naturally love and care about nonhuman animals. Raising them to accept the exploitation of innocent sentient beings goes against their very nature. If you gave them a choice, telling them truthfully what happens to farmed animals, I'm sure that most *if not all* children would choose to be vegan.

Sadly, my friend has probably now completely disconnected himself from the horrors of animal exploitation. Perhaps he's a farmer himself now. But as for me, I'm very glad that I decided to break apart from the status quo and go vegan. I no longer feel guilty about what I eat, and I'm finally living true to my nature. It is such a joy to be vegan!

PS - Not vegan? Start here! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Think being vegan is difficult?

I often hear people saying that being vegan is/must be really difficult, which I disagree completely with. It's actually very easy! Never since going vegan 6 years ago have I ever felt that being vegan was hard or not worth the inconvenience. If you think it's difficult, please consider how hard it is for those who are affected by every non-vegan choice we make:

Over 56 billion land animals and trillions of aquatic animals are murdered every year for human consumption alone. They are sentient beings who value their lives, just as we value ours. Just like us, they feel pain, they feel fear, and they do not want to die. But right now, they are being used in horrendous ways that would be considered terribly wrong if done to humans.

Millions of cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals, are being murdered at young ages just for humans to consume their flesh. The slaughterhouse is an absolute nightmare for them. They can sense death all around them, and they struggle and fight for their lives until the very end.

Marine animals are taken from the seas in their trillions due to humans' love for seafood. Fishes are pulled out of the oceans, struggling helplessly as they suffocate to death. Crabs and lobsters are often still alive and fully conscious when they thrown into a pot of boiling hot water. They desperately try to escape as they burn to death.

Dairy cows are raped and their children stolen away from them. Like humans, cows are very maternal animals and being separated causes great distress to both mother and child. The babies are either killed right away, sold to be raised for veal or beef (if male), or kept as herd replacements (if female). After 5 -7 years of being intensively milked and having to face the grief of losing children over and over, the dairy cows' bodies are worn out and their milk production declines, so they are sent to slaughter for cheap meat.

In the egg industry, newborn baby roosters are ground up alive, or thrown away like garbage and left to suffocate, because they're of no use to the egg industry. The females often have their sensitive beaks cut off by a hot blade, a very painful procedure for them. They are then kept in cages or barns, laying eggs at an unnatural rate. Through intensive egg-laying, they lose a lot of calcium and many get osteoporosis. After 18 months, their egg production declines and they are sent to the terrifying slaughterhouse.

It doesn't end with food. Billions of mice, rats, chimps, dogs, cats and other animals are routinely tortured in the name of 'science'. Lambs of sheep used for wool are killed for meat, their mothers suffering the same fate once they start producing less wool. Silkworms are boiled alive inside their cocoons in order to obtain the silk. Wild animals are imprisoned for life for our entertainment. Some are forced to perform tricks for us, as in circuses or marine parks.

They all suffer. They all wish to be free. And we have no right to use any of them.

Compared to the horrific lives that trillions of nonhumans are forced to live because we're not vegan, being vegan is very, very easy. There's no deprivation whatsoever. These days, if you really want the taste animal products give you, there are many great plant-based alternatives available. There are thousands of delicious vegan recipes online, and many great vegan cookbooks out there. There are vegan alternatives to leather, wool, fur and silk. There are many products that are both vegan and do not test on animals. And there are many ways we can entertain ourselves without going to places that profit off using nonhumans for our enjoyment.

Being vegan is about justice, nonviolence and respect to nonhuman animals. It's making the choices in what we eat, wear, use and do, that do not intentionally harm others. It's a call for positive, peaceful change in the world. It's our first step to a nonviolent life.

Being vegan is not a sacrifice. It is a joy!

Not vegan? Start here: