Tag Archives: animal rights

Guest Bloggers: Mindful Wanderlust – Thailand changed my life…Why I went Vegan

12 Sep

Always inspiring to hear stories of other vegans and how they came to the lifestyle. Two such people are Giselle and Cody, authors of Mindful Wanderlust. Please do visit their blog, not all the pictures came out properly through the HTML for some reason and it would be a shame to miss out on their adventure.

Here they are in their own words, “We’re Giselle and Cody. Two kindred vegan spirits and travel lovers wanting to share our experiences around the world with people while doing it in a compassionate and responsible way.

We have been traveling around the world long term. We hope to inspire others to do the same and free themselves of people’s expectations. We look forward to meeting new people on our journey, learning about ourselves and others, while being mindful and considerate.

Join us for glimpses of art, working with animals, culture, yummy vegan food, and whatever else we find that piques our interest.” Follow Mindful Wanderlust on all channels: Blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Welcome Giselle and Cody!

To be fair, it could have been any country.

Why I went Vegan

Elephant Nature Park in Thailand

But it was Thailand. And I could have been volunteering with orangutans, or sloth bears. But elephants are one of my favorite animals, so I chose elephants to spend time with.

I have been an animal lover all of my life, (or perhaps a “some” animal, lover) but that love grows much more powerful and true when you stop eating them.

How can you truly love them while causing them so much pain and suffering?

Two years ago I stopped eating cows, chickens, and pigs directly after watching Earthlings. I stopped eating fish a few months before going Vegan.

This August marks my 1 year Veganniversary!

Why I went Vegan

Momma Rommie

While at Elephant Nature Park, Cody and I had the honour of spending some of our time with a new born baby Elephant. The rest of our time was spent with several dogs, cats, and people. We had the chance to take a trip to Nakhon Phnom (border of Thailand and Laos) to help out with over 2000 dogs that were rescued from the illegal dog meat trade. We made a video about our experience (You can watch that here) and the response was great. Many people shared the video and made several comments about how disgusting it was that people eat dog meat, and how terribly inhumane the dogs were treated. This made me wonder why so many of us think it is ok to treat pigs, cows, chickens, etc, so inhumanely (I question it on a daily basis).

Billions of cows, pigs, chickens, and several other animals suffer all of their lives. Why are dogs any different? Because we chose them to be pets and not food? Because they are loving and sweet? Have you ever spent time with a cow, pig, or sheep? I have, and they are beautiful, loving, and gentle animals as well.

They don’t want to die.

I made the connection.

Why I went Vegan

Kanchanaburi, Thailand

I am wide awake and fully conscious of what goes into my body, and the products I choose to purchase will never again be made with any or tested on any animals. I only wish I had made the connection sooner. I was not born Vegan, but I am Vegan for life, in more ways than one.

When it comes to flesh; a dog, is a cow, is a pig, is a chicken. There is no difference. Remember this when you are condemning another culture for eating dogs and cats.

There was a time not too long ago that we treated humans in the same way. Some were worthy of a life of freedom, and some were not.

My experience with all of the people at Elephant Nature Park who have so much love and care so much for these animals has permanently opened my eyes and changed my life forever. I can’t turn my back on them. I will no longer be responsible for the pain and constant suffering of another living being, and it feels wonderful and freeing. That is why I am Vegan.

I also encourage people to use their words wisely as it is not that you “could never quit eating cheese, chicken, or bacon”

It is a CHOICE. I loved cheese as much as the next person, but I chose non violence and peace, as I am well aware of the calf that gets ripped away from it’s screaming mother right after birth only to go straight to slaughter because he is useless. 5 minutes of flavor is NOT worth the tremendous suffering involved. There are alternatives to cheese, milk, eggs, and meat. Everything is an acquired taste.

The meat and dairy industry are not looking out for your health. People are being lied to, people are getting sick, and there is mass suffering going on around the world, not only for animals, but for humans too.

Such little compassion for our fellow beings, and all for taste?

They all suffer as much as we do.

Why I went Vegan

Beautiful and Gentle Bull in Northern Thailand

This is what changed my life.

Animals are my family. ALL animals. We share this earth with them. There is no picking and choosing. We humans are not more important. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.

The exploiters making money from meat and leather have done an amazing job in separating a cow from a juicy steak or a $700 leather jacket.

It’s quite easy to be desensitized, but that steak did not want to die, and that jacket was once skin that felt the sun, and wind on it.

Just think about that. We extinguish life like it is nothing. Billions and billions of precious lives.

Why I went Vegan

Rooster at Elephant Nature Park

People think being Vegan is extreme. I think shooting a bolt unsuccessfully into a cows skull so it goes down the slaughter line and is sliced in half while still alive is extreme.

Debeaking chickens without anesthesia, injecting them with growth hormone so they grow rapidly, and their legs are not strong enough to support their bodies so they break, or are severely crippled and in constant pain is extreme. I think cutting piglets tails off with no anesthesia, beating pigs, and breaking their backs for fun while still alive and in excruciating pain is extreme.

These are not isolated events. This is insanity and violence on a daily basis.

The world will not change for the better until we begin to treat all sentient beings with love and compassion.

What I share is not opinion. It is fact and truth. The problem is, most of the time people do not like the truth unless it benefits them.

There is so much suffering that we can all so easily end. It really is that simple. It starts by thinking about more than just yourself.

I am being the change I want to see in the world. Compassionate, non violent, kind, aware. Vegan 100% cruelty free.

It has changed my life.

For more information on living a compassionate cruelty free vegan lifestyle check out these links!

Gary Yourofsky is a Vegan animal rights activist. His speech helped in opening my eyes. How can you argue with him? You can watch his speech here GARY YOUROFSKY

Earthlings is a feature length documentary about the speciesism and animal abuse perpetrated by humans for entertainment, companionship, food, clothing, sport, and scientific research. The film is narrated by long time Vegan and academy award nominee, Joaquin Phoenix. You can watch the video here EARTHLINGS

But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.


Non violence leads to the highest of ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.

~Thomas Edison~

Why I went Vegan

Flower loves Everyone!!

“150 years ago, they would have thought you were absurd if you advocated for the end of slavery. 100 years ago, they would have laughed at you for suggesting that women should have the right to vote. 50 years ago, they would have objected to the idea of African Americans receiving equal rights under the law. 25 years ago they would have called you a pervert if you advocated for gay rights. They laugh at us now for suggesting that animal slavery be ended. Some day they won’t be laughing.

~Gary Smith~

I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t…..the pain which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.

~Mark Twain~


Guest Blogger: AusVegan – If Not You, Then Who? If Not Now, Then When?

27 Nov

Always happy to welcome another vegan blogger to the VBU! family. Cameron Blewett is a very busy vegan blogger. He has contributed to VBU! with a post from his blog AusVegan. Here’s his bio, “Based in Brisbane, Cameron is a prolific blogger with a number of sites relating to different subject matters. This one is dedicated to his passion for veganism and Animal Rights. His main site CameronBlewett.com.au is where he does most of his posting, along with his new site VeganSexual.com.au which aims to challenge the common held misconceptions of being male and vegan. Make sure you don’t miss a post on AusVegan.com by subscribing to the mailing list here. You can find Cameron on Google+ , Twitter, or Facebook” Welcome Cameron!

If, as a vegan, you aren’t going to take a stand and promote veganism, then who do you think will?
If you aren’t going to promote it now, when will you?

I was sitting down last night, pen in hand, going over the various discussions I have had with people over the past few days to get ideas for coming blog posts, when the sound of a freight train in the distance broke my concentration.

For some reason I decided to pay a little more attention to it, and see if by just listening to it I would be able to tell if it was a standard freight train or a cattle train heading out to the Dinmore slaughterhouse.

At the time and possibly out of denial, I made the assessment that it was just a regular freight train because there wasn’t the distinctive ‘rattle’ of the gate on each wagon, and there was a noted absence of the lingering smell that usually accompanies these trains. Continue reading

Guest Blogger: Made of Stars – {My A-Z of Veganism} B is for…

6 Nov

Hello everyone! Thank you for making VVP such a fantastic event. It is lovely to see everyone come together. Please welcome our newest blogger – Ally! She is the author of Made of Stars. Here she is in her own words, “Hi. My name is Ally. I share a crazy, beautiful, noisy life with my husband, Mat, and our four tiny vegans. Mat and I aim to maintain a sense of humour – and our sanity! – as we navigate parenthood and the Lego blocks on our living room floor.

I am passionate about veganism, Australian politics, breastfeeding, homebirth (my 3 sons were born at home) and dark chocolate I have a Bachelor of Social Work, and have spent most of my career working in the field of family violence. I enjoy reading, baking and writing.

Currently, I am striving to live a simpler and more intentional life – one that is not cluttered by unnecessary tasks or ‘stuff’. We are about to embark on a new journey, with Mat’s resignation from his social work job in the public service. I am excited by the prospect of new challenges and adventures for our family.” You can find the link for Made of Stars blog here. Welcome Ally!

B is for…

Bobby calf

Last Spring, at a children’s ‘story time’ session at our local library, the librarian excitedly informed the pre-school aged children that a special guest would be arriving soon.

Within minutes, I heard squeals of delight and surprise from the children –I saw a calf. Her brown eyes were wide with what I could only interpret as fear, as she was half dragged, half carried into the room by another librarian. A strong stench enveloped the room as the calf lost control of her bowels. She was placed on a rug at the front of the room, in clear view of everyone.

I could not stop staring at her – how could anyone have thought this was a good idea? The parents smiled and pointed, and the children wiggled about and gazed excitedly at the calf. We sang songs (‘cows in the kitchen, moo, moo, mooooo’) and listened to stories that featured cows. I could hear a woman repeatedly saying to her children: ‘Look at the moo!’ (‘She’s a calf’, I wanted to yell).

I couldn’t wait for the session to end. The calf looked so miserable. She was only 5 weeks old. In a world kinder than ours, she would have been suckling from her mother. I wanted to stand up and shout ‘look at her beautiful eyes, look how peaceful she is – please stop eating cows!’ But I didn’t, of course. I looked around the room, seeking to make eye contact with another parent. Is there another vegan here? Does anyone else feel empathy for the calf?

The ’story time’ calf highlights the gap between the admiration that humans feel for the ‘cuteness’ of a calf and the ability to feel true empathy for her and her kin. No doubt, some of the children and parents that patted the calf’s soft head and commented on her beauty went home to a cheese sandwich for lunch, or perhaps a veal cutlet for dinner – and did not think twice about it.

That is exactly how the dairy industry wants it.

What is a bobby calf?

According to Dairy Australia, a bobby calf is:

  • aged less than 30 days old,
  • usually a dairy breed or cross, and
  • destined for sale or slaughter.

The ‘story time’ calf wasn’t a bobby calf – she was approximately 35 days old. I don’t know where she lived or where she was destined. I didn’t ask because I was afraid that the answer would upset me. But I do know that she wasn’t with her mother. According to my world view, baby mammals should be with their mothers.

During pregnancy, a cow’s body nourishes her unborn offspring. At the birth of her baby, her body responds as nature intends – she produces colostrum and, later, milk to nourish her newborn.

On a dairy farm, humans remove (steal) the baby from her mother shortly after birth, severing the maternal – child bond forever.

She is not permitted to nurture the baby that grew within her body. Her body, her baby and her milk do not belong to her. She will never see her baby again. Worse, this loss will happen multiple times during her life on a dairy farm.

She does not choose this. She does not willingly give up her baby.

On its web site, Dairy Australia states: ‘Calves are ‘the foundation’ of our industry and enable us to continue providing you with safe, high-quality, nutritious milk and dairy foods’ (my emphasis). There is no doubt that the industry is entirely dependent on calves – cows do not lactate unless they are pregnant with, or have given birth to, a calf. Simply, the industry would not exist without calves.

So, what does the industry say about the removal of calves from their mothers?

A section on ‘Managing Calf Welfare’ states: ‘ Calf welfare is improved by removing it [sic] from the cow within 12 hours of birth….’ Also, sadly, this: ‘Research suggests that separating cow and calf as early as possible reduces the stress on both as there will be ‘minimal bonding between them’ (my emphasis). This statement would be ludicrous if it were not so callous.

I assert that within twelve hours of the births of my babies, I loved them with every fibre of my being. My body was physiologically primed to nurture them, and my heart was bursting with love and adoration. I am a mammal. Cows are mammals. It is not difficult to envisage that cows experience love and affection for their babies too.

In her book “Domestic Animal Behaviour “, Katherine A. Houpt discusses cow-calf bonding. She states: ‘Contact between the cow and her calf for as brief a period as five minutes postpartum results in the formation of a strong, specific maternal bond. Cows groom their calves during the early postpartum period…Licking the calf occupies up to half the cow’s time during the first hour postpartum’ (my emphasis).

It is apparent that mother-calf bonding happens very soon after birth, within minutes (rather than hours). Clearly, the industry’s assertion that only ‘minimal bonding’ occurs within the early hours of a calf’s birth, is inaccurate.

Theoretically, there are two ways of looking at the relationship between cows and their calves. Which do you think is most likely?

1. Cows feel no connection to their babies; they have no desire to nurture their offspring, and they have no compulsion to nourish their babies with milk.

2. Cows have a deep bond with their offspring, one that resembles the bond that human parents have for their offspring. When that bond is severed, they grieve and experience distress.

Cows are not inanimate objects. Their behaviour and actions suggest that they do have affection for their offspring.

“Holly Cheever, Veterinarian, shares a remarkable tale of a dairy cow that actively hid her newborn calf to prevent a farmer from removing him from her care. Sadly, despite the pleas of Cheever and the tenacity of the mother cow, the farmer removed the calf. He was destined for a veal crate.

If we accept that a cow has a ‘strong, specific maternal bond’ with her calf, how on earth do we justify severing their relationship? Is a glass of milk worth that much?


Guest Blogger: The Beet-Eating Heeb – Vegan Advocacy: On the Verge of a Breakthrough?

11 Oct

Meet Jeffrey, our newest VBU! contributor, better known as The Beet-Eating Heeb.  Jeffrey is a Prius-driving, bicycle-riding, yoga-posing Jew who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the Executive Director of Jewish Vegetarians of North America. Join Jeffrey on his blog, Facebook and Twitter. Please welcome Jeffrey!

Is the vegan advocacy and animal rights movement on the cusp of transforming society?

Will it soon take its place alongside the feminist and civil-rights movements as a source of genuine, positive and lasting social change?

The Beet-Eating Heeb is not quite prepared to answer with an unqualified yes.

However, after attending last week’s annual conference of the Farm Animals Rights Movement, BEH is feeling decidedly more optimistic.





Known as the Animal Rights Conference (ARC), the four-day event drew approximately 500 people to a Hilton in Alexandria, VA.

The Beet-Eating Heeb, in his previous career incarnations, attended more national conferences than he can possibly count, including some much larger than ARC, such as the massive AIPAC Policy Conference.

But never has he witnessed such energy, emotion and commitment at a conference as he did last week.

Author Roberta Kalechofsky, a key advisor to Jewish Vegetarians of North America, discusses her books in the exhibit hall at the Animal Rights Conference.

The exhibit hall bristled with activity as conference goers jammed the narrow aisles to buy vegan books and t-shirts, pick up brochures, and trade stories with fellow activists. Several speakers received rousing standing ovations as they discussed their work on behalf of animals. More than one speaker broke down in tears in describing the horrific cruelty inflicted on cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. A high percentage of the attendees, perhaps half, were under 40 years of age.

To paraphrase legendary hockey announcer Mike Lange, “You would have had to be there to believe it.”

So, what is the source of this vibe, this passion at a conference devoted mainly to vegan advocacy?

There are two sources, the way The Beet-Eating Heeb sees it.

One, vegan advocates are feeling the momentum as our movement accumulates significant gains. Veganism, relegated to the margins of society for decades, is suddenly becoming mainstream as more and more thought leaders promote its benefits and as vegan options proliferate in grocery stores and restaurants.

Two, vegan advocates are drawing energy from the sense of moral outrage we justifiably feel, aware as we are that 9 billion farm animals are being brutally murdered in the U.S. alone this year, aware that about 8.5 billion of them are subjected to lives of abject misery before they are trucked to the slaughterhouse.

The pieces are indeed falling into place to create a social-change movement of historic proportions.

As was the case with the historic social-change movements of yesteryear, there exists a deeply rooted, pervasive, absolutely unacceptable condition in society. And there exists a growing awareness of the problem.

Joy, unbridled

“History will look back at veganism as one of the most important, transformative movements in human history,” Melanie Joy, a vegan author and psychologist, said at the conference.

A couple of week ago, The Beet-Eating Heeb might have dismissed such a statement as wishful thinking.

But after spending a few days with his fellow advocates, BEH can see the seeds of something big, very big, starting to bloom.

Which leads to a final, and, in The Beet-Eating Heeb’s mind, a very important question:

As the movement matures and gains ever more adherents, will people of religious faith be at the vanguard or on the sidelines?

There were several Jews at ARC. May there be many more next year. Compassion for animals is not just a Jewish teaching, it’s a core concept of our religion. Our Torah narrative, Mishnah and Talmud express exquisite sensitivity to the suffering of animals. We should be overrepresented in this new social-change movement, just as were in the feminist and civil rights movements of prior generations.

Will we be?

Guest Blogger: new vegan age – Vegan Creed

3 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had fantastic holidays and enjoyed a bounty of delicious food. We have a brand new guest blogger Tom, who writes new vegan age. His blog celebrates the vegan community with original interviews, insightful commentary, and passionate discussion. He welcomes the affirmation and criticism of experts, amateurs, and skeptics alike, asking only that the tone remain positive and engaging. Tom  has been writing, editing, and teaching for 20 years, and he aims to improve the world by enjoying and contributing to all that its people and animals have to offer through writing, music, and art. He holds a BA in English from Ursinus College and Master’s degrees in education and business from Hunter College and Baruch College of the City University of New York. Here are his links for twitter and Facebook. Please welcome Tom!

As a Christian, I try to quietly live like Christ. I never quote scripture, and I don’t attend church often, but when I do, the congregation’s recitation of the Apostles’ Creed can move me to tears.

A credo (Latin, “I believe”) is a simple yet powerful statement of belief. It’s everything in just a few words. Veganism is simple, too. Is our credo no meat? Is it do no harm? Or, does it go something like this?

I believe that all animals—wild animals, farm animals, and our beloved companion animals—feel pain, make decisions, and are inclined to protect themselves and their families from harm.

I believe that, as beings with a higher intelligence, it is humans’ moral, social, and political responsibility to protect the health and well-being of all wild, farm, and companion animals, and not to use or consume anything derived from them for the sake of beauty, flavor, or convenience.

I believe that proposed legislation, laws, policies, procedures, and actions should uniformly and unfailingly address our responsibility to protect animals, ensuring they are never unnecessarily or knowingly confined, tortured, or killed.

I believe that a safe, well-protected, well-cared-for animal population improves and strengthens communities and the lives of the people who live there.

I believe that an individual’s impact on the environment can be minimized by  consuming and using plant-based food and products, and that a vegan diet frees up land to grow food for people that would otherwise be used to house animals and grow the food that is required to feed them.

Someday soon, aspiring and elected politicians at every level of government will be compelled to address their beliefs about the relationship between humans and animals, in their campaign platforms, interviews, and leglislative records. (An inspiring, more comprehensive, and much-better codified universal declaration has already been adopted by World Society for the Protection of Animals.)

How would you strengthen and further simplify this proposed five-paragraph Vegan Credo? How can we get local, state, and national officials (as well as the organizations and parties to which they belong) to rate these statements of belief, and to openly post and discuss these positions as freely as they do for issues like gun ownership, abortion, and the privatization of Social Security?

July 10, 2011 UPDATE: Thanks to those of you who have directly (and in other forums) shared thought-provoking, inspiring, challenging questions and feedback. As you’ve very helpfully pointed out, we must and will consider certain fundamental questions (and tweak some of its words for accuracy). To some people, there is only one credo, and it is it the Christian statement of beliefs. (This was drafted only to propose a clear statement of vegans’ beliefs, and not to replace or update any other accepted credo.) Further, can any succinct statement fully and universally address the beliefs of all vegans? I agree with those of you who have pointed out that it can not. I’ll await any other comments and questions that may trickle in, then propose an updated version in a month. Thanks again.