Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's All About Intent

I just read the following article on One Green Planet:

Thanks to this illustration, a lot of people seem to have suddenly woken up to the fact that products derived from animals are pervasive in modern society. This isn’t news to most vegans, since our lifestyle choice is based on avoiding such products (to the extent practical). As expected, the reaction to this illustration has largely been focused on the conclusion the artist arrived at (i.e. “There is no such thing as a vegan”). We can only speculate about the artist’s intention for creating the illustration, but in our opinion, the conclusion seems a bit misguided.

As we (and others) have defined and discussed in the past, veganism is not about perfection. Anyone who claims to be a perfect vegan has either not done their research or is not quite sure what veganism is about. We live in a society that is built on the use of billions of animals and that isn’t going to change any time soon. The billion dollar industries that farm these animals and sell their by-products as food or raw material to other industries are not going to crumble and fall in a matter of days or months. That’s reality. But is that reason enough to do nothing? Hell no!

The question is, who manufacturers these products and who buys them? We do! Who can instrument a systematic shift in how this entire modern industrial system works? We can! As Lao-Tzu, the founder of Taoism famously put it, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

The moment you acknowledge there’s something wrong with the unnecessary use and exploitation of animals for human benefit, you should ask yourself what that first step can be. No matter how you look at it, the logical conclusion you will arrive at is the path of veganism and ethical consumerism. Most people consider veganism to be extreme because they don’t understand the logical process that leads people down this path. Veganism is a beginning, and what follows is a practical effort to avoid products that are derived from the exploitation of animals. Eventually, with the help of creative vegan education (including the removal of the stereotypes and misconceptions associated with the word vegan itself), we will arrive at our destination. That destination is a world where the demand for animal products has been systematically eliminated.

Or you can do nothing. The choice is yours.

The bolded emphasis above is mine.  Many people try to "trip" you up when you declare that you are vegan.  They look for ways to poke holes in your argument, which may be the original intention of the illustration, but the image has the opposite effect on me.  It just shows how pervasive and disturbing the use of animals is.  This is shown to me on a daily basis.  The remains of animals are shoved into so many different places; places where there is no good reason to have their bodies being used.

It is difficult to poke holes in my veganism because I know what my goals are.  It's about not causing any harm intentionally.  I control what I can control.  And my goal is to be compassionate... not perfect.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gracious Gifts

Jake, Meg and Gertie are almost through with their feather moult and ready for winter.  I've been carefully collecting their best shed feathers and saving them for my talented crafting friends.

Most feathers are not naturally shed, they are ripped over and over from the live animals but these are carefully reclaimed and cleaned.

Jake's feathers range from 18" black and white stripes to delicate iridescent fluffs. Meg's are a warm nutmeg (her name inspiration) and black white Gertie's are graphic black and white.

I can't wait to see what new life these take on through the talents of others; new pieces that have a compassionate start.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


People sometimes ask us if we mind if they eat meat in front of us.  If you ask me this and you really want an honest answer, not just the answer that will make you feel okay or that society expects us to say, it's going to be: yeah, I mind.

When you see this...

I see this...

It would be like some one killing your dog or cat or child in front of you and then eating it.   Do you mind???

Let me say it again... Yeah.  I mind.  

 If that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, then maybe it's because you know you are eating what was once a living creature that had thoughts and emotions and a will to live a happy peaceful life.  Don't apologize to me for eating it in front of me (which I also get a lot), apologize to the animals.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

As we get into winter

As we get into winter, don't buy Down, Silk, Cashmere, Shearling, and Other Animal Products Used for Clothing

Minks, foxes, and raccoons are the animals who usually come to mind when people think of animals who are killed for their fur, but countless other species are also exploited for their feathers, fur, and skins. From the tiniest silkworm to the largest llama, all animals used by the clothing industry suffer—and most pay with their lives.


Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to birds' skin, primarily in the chest region. These feathers are highly valued because they do not have quills. While most down and feathers are removed from birds during slaughter, geese in breeding flocks and those raised for meat and foie gras may be plucked while they are alive.

Plucking causes geese considerable pain and distress. One study found that the blood glucose levels of some geese nearly doubled (a symptom of severe stress) during plucking.

Typically, ducks and geese are lifted by their necks, their legs are tied, and their feathers are ripped out. The struggling birds often sustain injuries during plucking. They are then returned to their cages until they are ready to be plucked again. This process begins when the animals are 10 weeks old and is repeated in six-week intervals until the birds are slaughtered.

The eider duck is a protected species, but its feathers are sought after for bedding and clothing. The females lay eggs and surround them with feathers plucked from their own breasts. Farmers in Iceland gather more than 6,500 pounds of eider duck feathers each year. By taking these feathers, farmers are removing important insulation that the eggs need to hatch. It takes feathers from at least 80 nests to fill just one comforter.


Silk is the fiber that silkworms weave to make cocoons. The so-called "silkworm" is actually a domesticated insect who, in nature, goes through the same stages of metamorphosis—egg, larval, pupal, and adult—that all moths do. Silk is derived from the cocoons of larvae, so most of the insects raised by the industry don't live past the pupal stage, as they are steamed or gassed alive inside their cocoons.

Approximately 3,000 silkworms die to make every pound of silk. While worms can't show their distress in ways that humans easily recognize, such as screaming, anyone who has ever seen earthworms startle when their dark homes are uncovered must acknowledge that worms are sensitive; they produce endorphins and have a physical response to pain.


Cashmere is hair that is shorn from cashmere goats' underbellies. These goats are often kept on farms where they are dehorned and castrated and have their ears notched without anesthesia. Goats with "defects" in their coats are typically killed before the age of 2. Industry experts expect farmers to kill 50 to 80 percent of young goats whose coats do not meet standards. Shearing robs goats of their natural insulation, leaving them vulnerable to cold temperatures and illnesses. Many goats are sold to be slaughtered for their flesh after shearing.


Contrary to what many consumers think, "shearling" is not sheared wool; the term refers to the sheep. A shearling is a yearling sheep who has been shorn once. A shearling garment is made from a sheep or lamb shorn shortly before slaughter. The skin is tanned with the wool still on it. It can take 25 to 45 individual sheep hides to make just one shearling garment.

Karakul Lamb Fur

Also called "astrakhan," "broadtail," or "Persian wool," karakul lamb fur comes from lambs who were killed as newborns or while still in their mothers' wombs. Because their unique, highly prized curly fur begins to unwind and straighten within three days of birth, many karakul lambs are slaughtered when they are only 1 or 2 days old. In order to get a karakul fetus' hide—which is called "broadtail" in the industry and which is valued for its exceptional smoothness—the mother's throat is cut and her abdomen slashed open to remove the developing lamb. A mother typically gives birth to three lambs before being slaughtered along with her fourth fetus, about 15 to 30 days before he or she is due to be born. As many as 4 million karakul lambs are slaughtered for their fur every year.


Vicuñas, who are related to camels and llamas and live high in the South American Andes, are exploited for their wool, which is the most expensive material used to make clothing in the world. To obtain their wool, wild vicuñas are typically herded into a V-shaped "funnel trap." This process is terrifying for these shy animals. Panicked vicuñas have even been known to break their necks during herding by crashing into fences. Their ears are then tagged, without the benefit of painkillers, before the animals are restrained and shorn with electric clippers. The shearers usually only leave the hair on the animals' bellies and chests, which isn't enough to protect them from the extreme heat and cold of the Andes.


Angora rabbits are strapped to a board for shearing, kicking powerfully in protest. The clippers inevitably bite into their flesh, with bloody results. Angoras have very delicate foot pads, making life on a wire cage floor excruciating and ulcerated feet a common condition. Because male Angora rabbits have only 75 to 80 percent of the wool yield of females, they are killed at birth on many farms.


The market for alpaca wool exploded in the 1980s when South American alpacas and llamas were marketed worldwide to entrepreneurs. The craze subsided, but breeding continues, and unwanted animals are now routinely put up for auction. Llama sanctuaries and rescue operations have sprung up in the wake of the breeding craze to handle the growing number of abused, neglected animals.


Shahtoosh, often used to make shawls, is made from the endangered Tibetan antelope, or chiru. Chiru cannot be domesticated and must be killed in order to obtain their wool. Illegal to sell or possess since 1975, shahtoosh shawls did a brisk business on the black market throughout the 1990s, selling for as much as $15,000 apiece as the Tibetan antelope's population plummeted to fewer than 75,000. Despite the ban on shahtoosh in India, a thriving black market still caters to customers in London, New York, and Los Angeles who will pay as much as $17,000 for a shawl. As many as 20,000 chiru are killed every year for their wool, a rate that will wipe out the species by 2011 if left unchecked.

You can help put an end to the suffering of all these animals by refusing to wear any clothing made from the skins of animals. Check out PETA's cruelty-free clothing guide for tips on where you can find compassionate fashion.

Image and copy from PETA.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Telling the Truth

I'll admit - I'm excited to see commercials getting funded to run on the air telling the truth about the animal based foods we eat. That we eat daily without thinking about ourselves, our health, the corporations and lobbies behind them, the cost to the environment and the animals that give their lives for them.

PCRM's is a bit harder hitting and speaks to the direct negative health effects.

While Compassion Over Killing speaks about the animals.

I hope these get plenty of air time, or at least some controversy so that people will seek them out!