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 —
— 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.
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:
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.
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
4590 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 400
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Email: email@example.com (cc: firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.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
Online comment form.
“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.
To the planet, every day is Earth Day. It’s never a bad time to make positive changes. Here’s the info from the Pasado’s post:
Washington dairy farms produce 20 million pounds of waste each day.
This waste isn’t regulated by outside agencies, and it seeps into our groundwater and enters streams directly through runoff. The dairy and meat industries’ disposal and storage methods are incredibly destructive to our environment, dangerous to human health, and damaging to domestic and wild animals.
Animals are treated horrifically on these farms.
Because animals are nothing more than a commodity on dairy and beef farms, they often spend their entire lives standing in several inches of their own waste.
Take action and help Pasado’s save countless lives!
How To Help
Please contact Governor Inslee and ask him to require the Department of Ecology to issue new State Waste Discharge General Permits for factory farms. Call Governor Inslee at 360.902.4111 or copy and paste the following suggested email into the Governor’s contact us form. (To make even more an impact please consider drafting a letter in your own words.)
Dear Governor Inslee, Please direct the Washington Department of Ecology to issue a strong National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) and State Waste Discharge General Permit for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOs”) that do business in the State of Washington. The current CAFO General Permit was issued in 2006 and expired July 21, 2011. No new permit has been issued. It is imperative that the Department of Ecology issue a permit that contains the following requirements: (1) universal coverage for all medium and large CAFOs; (2) mandatory surface and groundwater monitoring; and (3) implementation of best waste management practices.
I sincerely hope that you take this request seriously and act swiftly. Issuing a new CAFO General Permit will not only bring us into compliance with the law, but in addition it will:
Please act now, Governor Inslee, and help to guide our state to becoming a national leader in environmental and animal welfare policy.
Washington Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs / Factory Farms) dispose of animal waste in ways that have devastating effects on our ground water, streams and oceans. The Department of Ecology regulates this practice through a permit system REQUIRED by the federal Clean Water Act and the Washington Water Pollution Control Act. However, the current permit system expired in 2011 and it has serious flaws, including covering only 12 of the 1183 CAFOs in Washington.
The Department of Ecology needs to issue a new CAFO permit that contains:
We believe the Department of Ecology is open to this; however they are well aware of the immense power of the animal agriculture industries. They need the influence of a directive from Governor Inslee in order to make this happen.
For more information, please see the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club’s summary of the environmental effects of CAFOs.
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.
When: Wed Apr 23, 2014 6pm – 8pm
Where: University of Washington Gowen Hall, Room 201
Hello smart and creative animal advocates! We only have 4 (yes only 4!) of our “The Future is Vegan” tote bags. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, you best get on that tout de suite! Dwindling inventory means it is time to design a new bag so we can keep telling the world that animals matter. We want your big brains to help us!
Submit your idea for a slogan in the comments below, or on Facebook, or via twitter to @NARNtweet to be entered. You can suggest up to 5 different slogans and be entered once for each submission. If we choose your slogan to be on our next tote bag, you’ll win a free tote bag (worth $20) and a free year membership to NARN (worth $25) – a prize worth $45 in total (look how good at math we are)!
Criteria: slogan should be under 80 characters including spaces; should support animal liberation and / or veganism; should not discriminate or oppress any other group (i.e. should not be sexists, racist, ableist, etc.); must be original (no quotes or slogans from other groups). Deadline is May 19, 2014.
So get those creative juices flowing! We can’t wait to see your great ideas.
Hello animal advocates and liberators of all kinds! World Laboratory Animal Liberation Week 2014 is officially April 19-27, just around the corner. Here are the local events that we are aware of and we hope you can join us, NARN members, individual activists, and other organizations as we work to inform the public and protest against the exploitation of non-human animals in laboratories. Your voice matters. This is the time to speak up.
Not all of these are NARN events. If you have questions, please contact the organization via their Facebook event page. Thank you everyone for giving up just a few hours of your time to work for animal liberation. Follow NARN on twitter at @NARNtweet.
All 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.
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.
Michael Young, President
University of Washington
301 Gerberding Hall
Seattle, WA 98195
phone (206) 543-5010
You can also sign the online petition.
A federal buyout would mean rather than wasting tax money on a hunt with no market, the Canadian government can actually save money by offering to pay sealers a fair dollar amount to give up their license to kill.
An increasing number of nations are taking action by banning trade in seal products. Yet the Canadian government still authorizes the cruel slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seals each year — even using government funds to finance the purchase of seal pelts.
Each year, unimaginable suffering is inflicted on the seals, all for their pelts to be stockpiled in a warehouse — not that it would make any difference if they sold like crazy. Many Newfoundland sealers themselves support a federal sealing industry buyout. With this plan, the seal slaughter would end, sealers would receive financial compensation, and economic alternatives would be developed.
Please ask Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end this revolting slaughter once and for all with a federal sealing industry buyout. Here you will find mailing address, fax and email info: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/contactpm
Sample letter below — but please personalize as much as possible!
Dear Prime Minister Harper and Honourable Ministers,
I am writing to ask for your help to end the Canadian commercial seal slaughter by implementing a federal buyout of sealing licenses.
Each year, horrible suffering is documented during the slaughter. Conscious, wounded baby seals are left to suffer in agony and impaled on metal hooks, dragged across the ice and cut open. Seal pups that have been shot and injured escape into the water where they die slowly and are never recovered. All of this often takes place before the eyes of their mothers.
Please help move Canada beyond this antiquated commercial sealing by supporting a federal sealing industry buyout. Thank you for your consideration.
Next Wednesday, Live and Let Live comes to Seattle and NARN and the University of Washington’s Critical Animal Studies Group is very excited to host.
This feature documentary examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that move people to go vegan. From butcher to vegan chef, from factory farmer to farm sanctuary owner, Live and Let Live tells the stories of six individuals who decided to stop consuming animal products for different reasons and shows the impact the decision had on their lives.
After the movie, the Director will be on hand for a Q & A session.
This movie screening is FREE and open to the public so bring your friends & family!
Check out the trailer!
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Place: UW Allen Auditorium (in the Allen Library) near 15th Ave NE & NE 40th St.
For more info, or to RSVP, check out the Facebook event page.