Category Archives: Animal Rights

Issues dealing with animals being viewed as commodities and property, and of the inherent rights of animals to not be used, exploited, and killed by people.

Palm Oil Isn't Vegan

I thought about a title for this post for quite a while. I wanted something that would make you stop and decide to read more. Maybe if the title were “The Best Cheese in the World”, you would stop and look, and by the time you found out it wasn’t about cheese, you would understand why I told you it was.

If you are reading this, chances are you are vegan. You have fought your cheese battle and won, fought your cute-leather-shoe battle and made do, fought your chocolate battle and either decided you like dark chocolate because it is way healthier, or — like me — decided to just do without. Your supermarkets are smaller than other peoples’: they have no meat, no fish, and no dairy aisles. Hopefully, I am about to give you one more battle to win, and am about to make your grocery store smaller still. Because palm oil isn’t vegan.

When you think of the meaning of ‘vegan’, it doesn’t ONLY mean ‘no animal ingredients’; for most of us, there is a very strong element of ‘no animal suffering‘ and that is why palm oil fails. Palm oil sneaks into almost as many things as dairy does, and causes terrible suffering as more and more forest is destroyed to make way for palm plantations. Critically endangered orangutans, whose last holdout is the Indonesian rainforest of Sumatra and Borneo, are the most visible victims. I am not including the photo that made me a believer in the split second it took to absorb the sight of a burned-but-alive orangutan, covering her face with her hands. These only-everso-slightly-different non-humans, whose name means ‘people of the forest’, are chased, shot, poisoned, burned and beaten, and their homeland destroyed and bulldozered at such a rate that according to this short slide show –

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/audioslideshow/2014/apr/24/indonesia-deforestation-wildlife-paul-hilton-audio-slideshow

– it may be gone in ten years. Gone. Along with the orangutans, the elephants, the tigers, the rhinos — and an incredibly long list of others, because the Indonesian rainforest contains 12% of the world’s mammal species, and 17% of all known bird species. And it is estimated that more than half of Indonesia’s species have never even been recorded. At this rate they will disappear unrecorded.

A French documentarist named Patrick Rouxel made a short documentary about the palm oil/rainforest crisis, simply called “Green”. Watch it:

Not all palm oil comes from burning out orangutans and poisoning elephants in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Some of it comes from Malaysia. Some is termed “sustainable”. The Earth Balance margarine so beloved of vegans contains palm oil, and Earth Balance is proud to say 30% of it is “sustainable”.  I freely admit that where animals are concerned, I tend to be a glass-bone-dry person. But if 30% is “sustainable”, what is the other 70%? And where colossal amounts of money are to be made, the word “sustainable” can become as flexible as those standing to profit from it wish. And those palm plantations in It’s-OK-Malaysia? They are being created in someone‘s ex-habitat. Maybe the someone isn’t as heartrending as an orangutan infant, as photogenic as a Sumatran tiger, or as big as an elephant, but their home is being destroyed and burned and bulldozed nevertheless.

Let me tell you why.

For crap. The popular mass movement away from trans fats caused a gap that palm oil has filled. It is mainly in processed foods, crackers, chips, cookies, boxed cereals, candy, cake, pastries, bread spreads (check your peanut butter!),and margarine. It is in about half of all boxed foods. Many of those foods got tossed out in battles you have already won. And luckily none of them are crucial to your survival.

Face it: margarine is a cultural habit. You know how many millions of people around the world would look at you blankly if you told them you only eat bread with grease wiped on it? If you don’t want to give up wiping grease on your bread, I can give you a good, easy, much-healthier margarine recipe, and you can make your own from now on. You can also skip that step and use straight coconut oil for everything you used margarine for. Unrefined for a slight coconut taste, refined for no taste at all. And you wouldn’t believe all the health benefits coconut oil is meant to have. Palm oil is also in all kinds of utterly unnecessary beauty products, toiletries, laundry and kitchen products, even ones claiming ‘bio’, ‘enviro’ or ‘green’ status. (Btw, PETA has a great list of excellent DIY, completely cruelty-free beauty and cleaning agents.)  The following list of foods and other products containing palm oil comes from BOS (Borneo Orangutan Survival) Australia. Many of the things listed are non-vegan and so you would not be eating them anyway, and many are specifically Australian, but the list will give you a very good idea what foods to suspect in the US, too.

http://www.orangutans.com.au/Orangutans-Survival-Information/Helping-you-buy-responsibly-Palm-oil-free-alternatives.aspx

How will you know? Look for anything with ‘palm’ in it, like palm kernel, palm fruit, palmitate, or palmate, but here is a full list of palm oil’s stealthy aliases:

http://understory.ran.org/2011/09/22/palm-oils-dirty-secret-the-many-ingredient-names-for-palm-oil-or-what-ingredients-contain-palm-oil/

So watch the movie and the slide show, and research for yourself what eating crap you shouldn’t be eating anyway is causing in places not your own back yard. And I think you will sit back with the same feeling you had when you first watched “Meet Your Meat” or whatever it was that made you change your life, and you will see why palm oil isn’t vegan. Because vegan isn’t just the letter of the law, it’s the spirit, too. And we are strong people when it comes to giving up things and not looking back. So much so, I don’t think you will mind that I just bulldozed another aisle or two of your supermarket.

 

 

Sea Lions Need Guardians!

Volunteers for Sea Lions Still Needed at the
Bonneville Dam and in Astoria, Oregon
In Defense of AnimalsIn Defense of Animals and the Sea Lion Defense Brigade (SLDB) are seeking passionate, dedicated individuals to be volunteer observers through the end of May at the Bonneville Dam and in Astoria, Oregon near Pier 36. The Columbia River sea lions need reliable eyes and ears on the river to assist in ending the lethal removal program.
If you have a still camera, binoculars, and/or video equipment and time to help, please volunteer with SLDB at either the Bonneville Dam or in Astoria.
The sea lion killing program is more about politics than sound science. Sea lions are being trapped, branded, and killed for eating only 1% of the fish, while human predation is at an all time high.
Sea Lions are being scapegoated by the fishing industry. Science shows the importance of protecting keystone species in the ecology and removing these species from an eco-system causes harm to the system as a whole.
For information about how you can help, or to volunteer, please contact Eric at eric@idausa.org.

Ask the New Owner of the Miami Seaquarium to Let Lolita Go

The Miami Seaquarium has recently been purchased by a California-based amusement park company called Palace Entertainment. Among its many captive animals is the orca Lolita. This is a great opportunity to demand that she be released back into the waters of her birth, something Seaquarium’s present owners have always refused to do.

Lolita has lived at the Miami Seaquarium for almost 45 years, in the smallest orca tank on the entire continent (35′ x 80′ x 20′ deep — although she herself is 20′ long). For the first 10 years of her captivity she had a male companion, Hugo, who apparently committed suicide in 1980 by repeatedly bashing his head against the tank walls. Now she lives a solitary life, forced to perform in depressing daily shows for the public.

She was caught in 1970 in Puget Sound, taken from the L pod of the Southern Resident orca community in an 80-whale ….what? roundup? theft? kidnapping? Her mother and extended family still live there. Marine mammal experts have proposed a plan in which Lolita would be transferred to a coastal sea pen, and once she relearns the skills necessary for independent survival, she would rejoin her family in the wild.

Please, contact Palace Entertainment and ask for her release:

Fernando Eiroa, President and CEO
Palace Entertainment
4590 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 400
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Email: feiroa@palaceentertainment.com                      (cc: administrator@palaceentertainment.com,marketing@palaceentertainment.com)

Online comment form.

Sample text (it’s best to use your own words):

“I am writing in response to the recent announcement that Palace Entertainment has signed an agreement to purchase the Miami Seaquarium. I’m sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding Lolita, an orca at the Miami Seaquarium who for decades has lived in a small concrete tank, without the company of another orca. I urge Palace Entertainment to allow Lolita to be rehabilitated and released into her native waters. Such a decision would bring tremendous positive publicity to your company!”

Also contact Miami-Dade County’s Mayor and Commissioners and ask that, as a condition of the sale of the Miami Seaquarium to Palace Entertainment, that Lolita be released back into the waters of her birth. Contact:

Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioners
Stephen P. Clark Government Center
111 NW 1st Street, Suite 220
Miami, FL 33128
Email: mayor@miamidade.gov
Online comment form.

Sample text:

“I am writing in response to the recent announcement that the Miami Seaquarium has agreed to be bought by a California-based amusement park company. I’m sure you are aware of the controversy surrounding Lolita, an orca at the Miami Seaquarium who for decades has lived in a small concrete tank, without the company of another orca. I urge Miami-Dade County to request, as a condition of the sale of the Miami Seaquarium, that Lolita be rehabilitated and released into her native waters.”

Please take a couple of minutes to write a letter that could change her life..GIVE her a life…what’s left of her life.

lolitaWe sure owe it to her, after what our species has done.

Free screening of Maximum Tolerated Dose

If you’re a UW student or faculty member, you’re in luck. Tomorrow, UW CARE is hosting a free screening of the documentary Maximum Tolerated Dose. The film chronicles humans and non-humans who have experienced animal testing first-hand.

Note: The screening is not open to the public; you have to be a UW student of staff member to go.

For questions, please contact Maria Travaille at maria@narn.org, or Campus Animal Rights Educators (CARE) at careuw@uw.edu

When: Wed Apr 23, 2014 6pm – 8pm
Where: University of Washington Gowen Hall, Room 201

The University of Washington is killing pigs

pigletAll Creatures recently posted an action alert about the killing of pigs by the University of Washington (UW). Here are the details:

This Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a complaint with the USDA because the UW is violating the federal Animal Welfare Act by using live pigs to teach paramedics and flight nurses. For more info, here’s PCRM’s complaint to the USDA: Use of Live Pigs for Paramedic Training at the University of Washington.

Please help this effort by calling and e-mailing the president of the university. Be polite and encouraging.

Talking points

In the training program at UW, paramedics and nurses make an incision in the throat of a pig and insert a breathing tube and wire. This is performed up to five times by multiple trainees on each pig. The pigs are then killed. Nonanimal training methods are widely used by paramedic programs across the Pacific Northwest, making this use of animals not only cruel but unnecessary.

I am calling to ask Mr. Young to please stop the use of pigs in UW’s paramedic training program.

  • UW has a simulation center that can replace the use of animals immediately.
  • UW’s paramedic course is the only program in the Pacific Northwest known to use animals. The remaining programs use non-animal methods such as human-based medical simulation.

Contact info

Michael Young, President
University of Washington
301 Gerberding Hall
Box 351230
Seattle, WA 98195
phone (206) 543-5010
pres@uw.edu

You can also sign  the online petition.

Meatout 2014

March 20th is Meatout Day. Will you pledge to go meat-free for the day?

MOwomen

Of course it’s best (for the animals, your health, and the environment) to be meat-free every day, but we all started somewhere.

If you can go meat-free for a day, you can try it once a week. Soon, you’ll have so many recipe ideas and confidence that you can ditch meat, eggs and dairy for good.

Woodland Park Zoo sued over elephant records

FOWPZEAlyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, recently filed a lawsuit against the Woodland Park Zoo.

The suit asks the Court to declare that Woodland Park Zoo is acting as a “hybrid” pubic agency and, as such, should be subject to Washington State’s Public Disclosure Laws. This means the Zoo would have to tell us how they spend the millions of tax payer dollars we give them AND answer our questions about Bamboo, Chai and Watoto’s quality of life.

Over the past 7 years FWPZE has filed many Public Disclosure Requests with the Zoo.  The zoo has repeatedly refused to share important information about the welfare of the three elephants living there.

Woodland Park Zoo claims it isn’t subject to public disclosure requests. However, the Zoo’s operations are funded with $10.4 million taxpayer dollars and uses city-owned buildings and land at no cost.”

“Woodland Park Zoo can’t have it both ways; if it chooses to take our generous tax dollars, then it must be held accountable on how it spends our money,” said Fortgang. “I am simply asking that the Zoo be transparent with tax payers, which is why public records laws exist.”

Action:

While the suite is underway, please write a polite email asking for Bamboo, Chai and Watoto be retired to a sanctuary immediately.

Here are addresses for the Seattle City Council, King County Council and zoo management and Board. If you’ve already written, please write again and please cross post.Ed.murray@seattle.gov, Jean.Godden@seattle.gov, Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov, Tim.Burgess@seattle.gov, Sally.Clark@seattle.govBruce.Harrell@seattle.gov, Nick.Licata@seattle.gov, Tom.Rasmussen@seattle.gov, Mike.OBrien@seattle.gov, Kshama.Sawant@seattle.gov, larry.gossett@kingcounty.gov, kathy.lambert@kingcounty.gov, larry.phillips@kingcounty.gov, julia.patterson@kingcounty.gov,  jane.hague@kingcounty.gov, pete.vonreichbauer@kingcounty.gov, joe.mcdermott@kingcounty.gov, rod.dembowski@kingcounty.gov, reagan.dunn@kingcounty.gov, dow.constantine@kingcounty.gov,Deborah.jensen@zoo.org, Darin.Collins@zoo.org, zooinfo@zoo.org

ASAP: Oppose Law Permitting Raccoon Torment in Georgia

In Georgia, a bill is under review which would permit the use of live raccoons for field trial competitions. Time is running out — the bill, HB423, has already been approved by the State House and has now gone to the Natural Resources Committee, where it could be discussed any day. Please help stop this Bill – if passed, hunters will be allowed to train their dogs using caged live raccoons. Every minute in confinement is already a terrifying eternity for them. In addition, they are flung high into trees or hauled across fields and bodies of water as frantic dogs give chase. They must repeatedly endure this hellish ordeal, often for hours on end, and many are badly injured or killed during the trials. Survivors risk developing chronic and contagious stress-induced disorders, which are also often fatal.

URGENT ACTION! Please contact the members of the Natural Resources Committee and urge them to oppose HB 423.

Send an email (one to all is fine) today to: ross.tolleson@senate.ga.gov; rick.jeffares@senate.ga.gov; bill.cowsert@senate.ga.gov; frank.ginn@senate.ga.gov; steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov; diana.hauser@senate.ga.gov; stevehenson@mindspring.com; jack.hill@senate.ga.gov; freddie.sims@senate.ga.gov; curt@curtthompson.com; tommie.williams@senate.ga.gov

THANK YOU ALL!

Don't Give Up on Wolves, Please!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently stripped wolves of their Endangered Species Act protections in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes. As a result, these states have opened trophy hunting and trapping seasons, and thousands of wolves have been mercilessly slaughtered.

The FWS has also proposed removing protections for wolves in the rest of the lower 48 states, which would lead to even more killing. Thanks to feedback from nearly A MILLION citizens and a host of conservation biologists, the FWS recently convened a new panel of experts to revisit the issue. This new panel found that the FWS relied upon ONE SINGLE — faulty — paper in deciding to remove federal protections from wolves.

A new comment period is open and the FWS needs to hear from you before March 27.  After a previous such comment period in Michigan, 10,000 pro-wolf comments were deliberately deleted; we trust that this will not happen with the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. (Sample letter/email below, but personalizing it is always a good idea!)

Dear Secretary Jewell,

I value wolves and I want to see them protected by the Endangered Species Act. Without these federal safeguards, wolves are pitted against an unfair arsenal of traps, snares, baits, hounds, and shooters who kill them from low-flying aircraft. Killing wolves puts their family packs in disarray and leaves young pups to starve.
Most Americans love wolves, and wolf-watching tourists spend millions of dollars to see them in places like Yellowstone National Park. After receiving pressure from the livestock industry and extreme groups, the government has given up on wolves and literally put them in the crosshairs before they could recover to most of their historic range. It’s quite simple: wolf populations are still recovering, and the best available science does not support their removal from the protections afforded to them by the Endangered Species Act. Please provide adequate protections for this iconic and beautiful species.

Mailing Address:
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Phone: (202) 208-3100
E-Mail: feedback@ios.doi.gov
Web: Feedback form

Your action can save a lot of lives. And a lot of suffering. Wolves are seldom killed instantly with a single clean shot. Remember hunters who shoot anything that moves; remember bowhunters and traps. Please give up 15 minutes for this. Don’t put it off.

Put a stop to cosmetics testing on animals

A lot of people don’t realize that many shampoos, moisturizers, and another cosmetics are still tested on animals. Fortunately a new act, the Humane Cosmetics Act, would relegate animal testing for cosmetics to the history books.

H.R. 4148 would prohibit animal testing for cosmetics manufactured or sold in the U.S., and would ending painful tests on countless rabbits, mice, rats, and guinea pigs. Safe cosmetics can be made from thousands of existing ingredients. Plus, several non-animal safety tests are available for new ingredients. These non-animal alternatives are quick, safe, cost-effective, and often more reliable than animal-model testing.

The European Union and Israel have already phased out cosmetics animal testing, and we can too!

TAKE ACTION
Please make a brief, polite phone call to your U.S. representative and urge him or her to support H.R. 4148. You can find your rep’s name here.

Tell  your rep: “I’m a constituent and I urge you to co-sponsor H.R. 4148 if you haven’t already done so. This bill would prohibit animal testing for cosmetics manufactured or sold in the U.S.”

After making your phone call (please do not skip that crucial step!), please send a personalized letter. The Humane Society of the United States has more information and a form that will help you to automatically send a message.