22 Feb 2016

Is being vegan enough, or should we be doing more?

Okay - so you're vegan. You don't eat eggs, honey, meat, dairy, or any other animal derivatives, and you don't touch leather, silk, wool or anything in-between. You're making a real difference. You're being smart with your money and choosing to stand against violence. You've chosen the simplest, most effective way to fight against animal cruelty. But are you doing enough? Is there more you could do?

Of course. There's always more, and we should never stop striving to do better.

Vegans are not automatically perfect people. Many try - but, without doubt, there is always more to be done. A person may be vegan, but they may occasionally make unethical choices regardless. Ethical living extends beyond avoiding animal products.

"Vegans are not automatically perfect people. Many try - but, without doubt, there is always more to be done. Ethical living extends beyond avoiding animal products."

Take animal testing, for example. Veganism, by definition, is about rejecting animal exploitation as far as is practicable and possible. So, while a certain beauty product may contain only plant-derived ingredients, it could be animal tested. A better option, in this case, would be to buy an alternative product that is plant-based and not animal tested. This may seem obvious, but it's something new vegans could easily overlook.

There's also the issue of palm oil. While plant-based, and thus vegan by definition, buying products containing uncertified palm oil is not an ethical choice. It's widely known that palm oil production contributes to deforestation and, consequently, the death of thousands of animals. I'm guilty of this myself: because palm oil is often hidden behind names like "vegetable oil", it takes a little extra effort to avoid it. So, sometimes I'm lazy or forgetful and I don't bother to check. I figure it's still vegan, so I buy it. But now, thinking about it, I know I could do better. And from now on, I will.

This is an important thing for vegans to consider. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the concept of being vegan that we forget about or bypass other important ethical considerations. We think: it's vegan, so it must be ethical. But this is not always true.

Avoiding palm oil is easier than ever before with the new app by Palm Oil Investigations. Similar to the vegan barcode scanner, the POI app allows you to scan products to find out if they contain palm oil. So, for me and others like me, there's no excuse to keep supporting deforestation.

And if you are avoiding animal products, palm oil, and animal tested products, there is more still! Let's never stop striving to do better. While veganism helps animals indirectly, we can also make a direct different in the lives of individual animals.

Could you, for example, sponsor a rescued farm animal? Many farm animal sanctuaries around the world offer this service - for a monthly fee, you will support a rescued animal and receive regular updates about their lives. It's a wonderful way to increase your impact. Or, you could make a direct donation to the sanctuary itself to help all of the residents and their caregivers.

If spending money isn't an option, there are other avenues you can take to reach the same goal. If you can't afford a monetary donation, why not donate your time instead? Many rescue sanctuaries are always in need of a helping hand, even if it's only once or twice a month.

If the resources are available, you could also take a rescue animal into your own home - be it a cat or dog, or someone as small as a chicken or rat, you will be making a genuine difference and saving a genuine life. There's no greater feeling in the world than rescuing an innocent being from the edge of death.

"Of course, for those who are not yet vegan, why not take that first step? Veganism is the simplest way to show your support for animals and take a stand against cruelty."

And of course, for those who are not yet vegan, why not take that first step? Veganism is the simplest way to show your support for animals and take a stand against cruelty. Becoming vegan opens your eyes to what goes on behind the scenes and encourages you to find more and more ways to increase your impact. Take veganism as a moral baseline, and improve upon this baseline as you learn new ways to make a difference.

So let's never stop trying. The animals need our help. For some, being vegan is enough; because for some, veganism is the best that can be done. But if we have the opportunity to do more, we should always take it - in doing so, we'll push the world one step further to the ultimate goal of worldwide peace and compassion.

13 Feb 2016

8 films that will make almost anyone consider veganism

If you're already vegan or vegetarian, you have probably heard of or seen many documentaries and other films about animal rights. For that reason, in this list I've included some more obscure films that are equally as effective. I encourage everybody to share these informative documentaries with everybody they know, because there's a good chance that at least one of them will leave an impression. For those with a heart for animals and respect for life, it's impossible to not be affected by the information and/or visuals presented in these films. For those with attention spans on the shorter side, I've also included some shorter, but effective, YouTube clips.

1. Earthlings (2005)

This film is a graphic, disturbing and heart-wrenching journey through hell on earth. It's often described as the most terrifying and sickening horror film ever made - but it's not scary like Saw or The Exorcist. It's scary because all of the violence, cruelty and suffering shown in the film is completely real. These atrocities happen all day, every day, in every country in the world. This film, despite how much we want to look away, pushes us to view reality in its rawest form.

Everybody needs to watch Earthlings, especially those who are not already vegan. For all those people who think cows don't have to die for milk, and that egg production isn't cruel, and that animal farming isn't that bad, tell them to watch Earthlings. Only then will they know the whole truth.

Earthlings is renowned for turning many people vegan - even those who couldn't manage to get through the first ten minutes of it. That's how powerful this film is.

Earthlings is available on Netflix or the Earthlings website.

Many of these films explore how we can work together to put an end to factory farming

2. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)

For those who aren't yet ready to see the graphic violence shown in Earthlings, Cowspiracy may be a better option. Instead of focusing on the ethical problems associated with meat, dairy and egg production, it focuses on logic and fact. People who want (or need) to know about the environmental problems associated with animal agriculture should watch this film.

The key word in this film is sustainability. With the help of members of various environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the Natural Resources Defence Council and the Rainforest Action Network, we learn about the impact of animal agriculture on our environment.

Watch the trailer on YouTube or see the full film on Netflix.

3. Forks Over Knives (2011)

While Earthlings focuses on animal rights and Cowspiracy focuses on sustainability, Forks Over Knives focuses on the dietary aspect of veganism, highlighting the lifestyle's many health benefits. Forks Over Knives includes commentary from biochemical professors and nutritionists who believe many common diseases are strongly connected to animal product consumption. The film links the rise of coronary heart disease, obesity and cancer with the western world's increasing consumption of processed animal-based foods.

Forks Over Knives is not a strictly vegan film, but it does encourage a plant-based diet. You may want to avoid this option if you are more interested in the moral aspect of the vegan lifestyle.

Visit the Forks Over Knives website here.

4. Lucent - Australian Pig Farming: The Inside Story (2014)

This film is for those who argue that animal cruelty is rampant only in less "developed" countries. Instead, Lucent reveals that animal cruelty is apparent even in one of the world's most liveable nations.

Lucent, commonly referred to as "the Australian Earthlings", is a documentary highlighting the horrific treatment of pigs in the farming industry. It includes hand-held and hidden camera footage. It is brutal and violent, but it is real, and we can help put an end to it all.

Lucent is available to watch for free on YouTube.

5. Make It Possible (2012)

For those without an hour or two to spare, Make It Possible is a much shorter, 11-minute option highlighting the horrors of factory farming and encouraging viewers to help end the suffering endured by farm animals around the world.

An initiative of Animals Australia, the film urges viewers to sign its accompanying pledge, which includes four options. You may pledge to stop eating meat, to donate to the cause, to eat fewer animal products, or to stop supporting factory farms.

The Make It Possible campaign has seen support from several Australian celebrities, including Missy Higgins, Judith Lucy, Santo Cilauro, Mick Molloy and Rove McManus.

If you're looking to educate people who say they're not ready to give up meat just yet, this documentary may be the better option, as it supports the idea of taking 'baby steps' to eventually wipe out factory farming altogether.

You can find the Make It Possible website and watch the video here.

6. Gestation Crate Pigs, Locked Up In Hell (2015)

Gestation Crate Pigs, Locked Up In Hell is a clay-animated YouTube video created by then 13-year-old film maker, Kyle Kelleher. Since appearing on YouTube in January 2015, the film has amassed over 206,000 views and 3,680 likes. Despite being animated, it is graphically unsettling, and sends a message that is difficult to ignore.

Kyle narrates throughout the animated sequence, detailing the horrific life of a gestation crate pig from birth to death. It focuses on ensuring people know the truth behind what's on their plate.

This film is a good option for people who can't stomach real blood and violence, but still need to see an accurate depiction of what really goes on behind the scenes.

Watch it on YouTube here.

7. Vegucated (2011)

Vegucated focuses on all aspects of veganism; from the environmental, to the ethical, to the dietary. The documentary follows the lives of three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. The results are interesting and inspiring.

In the film, the participants visit an abandoned slaughterhouse, where they are exposed to the reality of intensive animal farming in the United States. On top of this, the participants choose to broaden their knowledge further by visiting a factory farm in current operation - not surprisingly, what they see drives them to fight for animal rights.

Dr Joel Fuhrman, an American physician, and Professor T. Colin Campbell, an American biochemist, offer their knowledge to viewers, discussing the benefits of a plant-based, whole-foods diet.

You can digitally rent or buy Vegucated here, or see it for free on YouTube.

8. Speciesism: The Movie (2013)

Specisiesm: The Movie, as hinted by its title, focuses on the concept of speciesism; which, according to Wikipedia, involves the assignment or different values or rights to individuals on the basis of their species. The term was coined in 1970 by animal rights advocate Richard D. Ryder.

Political activists and prominent animal rights activists (including Peter Singer, Richard Dawkins, Temple Grandin and Steven Best) come together in this film to tell the world why they're fighting - a unique take not usually seen in other animal rights documentaries.

The creators of Specisism: The Movie promise you'll never see animals (or humans) in the same way after seeing the film.

Check out the film's website here, or watch the trailer on YouTube.


Thank you for reading this list - I hope it has helped you find the best resources to aid you in your fight against animal exploitation.