Saturday, 22 December 2012

Oxfam sell real fur in their UK stores - a sad day

I was very sad to see charity Oxfam selling real fur in their shops in the UK
I honestly thought charity shops had stopped taking in fur, but in a recent trip back to home, I saw lots of shops selling real fur.
This one though is from Oxfam's online store.  

I thought it was a mistake until I looked at the picture of the label. I am genuinely shocked as I thought those days were behind us.

Their compassion clearly doesn't extend to animals.

I've tweeted them about this, but doubt they will reply. You can contact them on @Oxfamgb

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Animal testers L'Oreal buy Urban Decay

So soon after celebrating Urban Decay's decision to u-turn on selling their products in China, which would have meant compulsory animal testing (China is the only country on earth where cosmetics must be tested on animals). See my blog post

That's Urban Decay off my shopping list now cruel L'Oreal own them. You can read the story here.
What does this mean?

Like many people, I stopped buying Body Shop stuff when they were sold to L'Oreal. The reason I did this was because I no longer considered them to be cruelty free for a number of reasons -

1. Any money the company made would go to animal testing L'Oreal.

2. L'Oreal opposes any cosmetics animal testing bans. They want to keep animal testing. Because they think it's necessary? Nope, IMHO it's because there is so much money to be made off the misery of animals.

3. Whether the Body Shop continued not to test their products or ingredients on animals and their suppliers didn't test on animals, IMHO there's no way that if some wonder ingredient came along, or combination that they wouldn't benefit from it and that would probably be tested on animals.

Now Urban Decay are owned by L'Oreal they are in my will never buy list, which is sad because yet another cruelty free company bites the dust.

Note - Urban Decay insist that their policy of not testing on animals will continue, but for many people like me the fact they are owned by L'Oreal means they should no longer qualify as a cruelty free company.

In cases like this it's up to the individual to decide whether they buy Urban Decay products or not, but many people like me won't.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sad day as crowd goes wild for fur loving Kardashian clothes

When I was their age, I was a vegetarian and campaigning for animal rights.
These young women are queuing for clothing designed by a fur loving air head and her sisters.
Isn't it funny how people will buy anything from reality TV show 'stars?' i.e people with NO talent, who've achieved nothing.

If you want clothes designed by a real designer who cares about animals, try Stella McCartney.

On a lighter note, Kate Middleton is reported to have told Kim Kardashians 'thanks, but no thanks' when they sent her some of their collection. Apparently, the clothes are too tacky for the princess to wear.

Or, as a Palace insider put it -
'Kate is hardly going to turn up for an event with the queen in a cheap leopard-print miniskirt or gold sequined jacket.'
Read more


Saturday, 27 October 2012

This is why animal cruelty laws need to be tougher

When you think of dog breeders* what do you think of?

Someone who loves animals, especially dogs and delights at bringing new life into the world?


Meet Martha Dalmain of Thornton in Fife.

Convicted of neglecting her ten-year-old Shetland pony Smudge at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, in a case described by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as 'tragic and truly appalling' she was banned from keeping animals for life. With one exception, she was allowed to keep on breeding dogs.

Look at Smudge's injuries (he had to later be put to sleep because they were so bad) and tell me should a woman who neglects a lovely creature like Smudge deserve to make money out of deliberately bringing more creatures into the world?

This is why animal cruelty laws need to be tougher because cruel people who allow beautiful animals to suffer whether by neglect or outright cruelty, should never be allowed to own another animal again.

*Personally when I think of dog breeders (unless its rare breeds that are going extinct), I think of greedy people making money bringing dogs into the world when there are so many dogs without homes.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The best vegetarian & vegan guides for free Part 1 - VIVA

Some great vegetarian and vegan themed guides from VIVA (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals)  There's a few free downloads/ones available to read online from this terrific organisation.

The best ones (IMHO) are -

 End of the Line for Fish 

Wheat-eaters or Meat-Eaters (go to download pdf)

Your Health in Their Hands (the health benefits of a vegetarian diet)

The L-Plate Vegetarian

The L-Plate Vegan

How to be dairy free (go down to the title and download pdf)

He's happy, because he knows you're not going to eat him.

Note - although these guides are free, organisations wouldn't be able to operate without donations, so pleas give generously - if you can - or purchase something from their shop:)

Monday, 24 September 2012

How to spot an animal testing company - Case Study: lavera (natural cosmetics)

I was doing research for a friend about a company called Lavera who make comsetics and this is what they had to say on their website.

Q17. Statement Animal Testing

Ever since the foundation of the laverana company we have neither been conducting animal testing nor have asked others to do so. Being a manufacturer of natural care products animal testing is certainly incompatible with our company philosophy!
Of course, laverana makes every effort not to use any raw material which was tested on animals - as requested by the German Society for animal protection. laverana's suppliers are expected to prove by means of spot check their non-animal testing.
Unfortunately, lavera as a producer of natural care products cannot give legally valid guarantee for the products of its raw material suppliers. Recently skin irritations have occurred more and more frequently. Now we have to find out whether raw materials that were tested 20 years ago today are still well tolerated by human skin. At the same time the urgency of the use of innovative raw materials becomes more and more obvious. For lavera this means that test periods of established ingredients may be 20 years ago, for innovative products this period most likely is much shorter.

In addition, laverana is a member of BDIH. This is an organization the members of which vouch for following the strict guidelines of "Controlled Natural Cosmetics". These guidelines include the requirements of societies for animal protection.

It all sounds good, doesn't it? Especially the bit where they say 'Ever since the foundation of the laverana company we have neither been conducting animal testing nor have asked others to do so. Being a manufacturer of natural care products animal testing is certainly incompatible with our company philosophy!'

But then you get to the paragraph where they say 'Unfortunately, lavera as a producer of natural care products cannot give legally valid guarantee for the products of its raw material suppliers.'

In other words, they can't guarantee that the raw materials in their cosmetics have not been tested on animals. Why not when they claim they check?

The other part that should immediately have alarm bells ringing that this isn't a cruelty free company are - 'Recently skin irritations have occurred more and more frequently. Now we have to find out whether raw materials that were tested 20 years ago today are still well tolerated by human skin. At the same time the urgency of the use of innovative raw materials becomes more and more obvious. For lavera this means that test periods of established ingredients may be 20 years ago, for innovative products this period most likely is much shorter.'

In other words, because of 'recent skin irritations' their ingredients may now be tested on animals. See how they skirt around the issue and don't actually say that they are tested on animals, but infer that they are. This is another way to tell if a company uses animal testing - they will be sketchy about the details.

Note - there is a way to test if products or ingredients will irritate human skin - do skin patch test on human volunteers. Scientists can also grow human skin in test tubes. There is NO excuse for animal testing. None whatsoever and if they say there is they are lying. Human volunteers are more reliable than animals. They will tell you when it starts to sting or burn. Animals cannot. All they can do is sit there in pain.

Many of their products are also not suitable for vegetarians when they contain carmine (the foundations do not and are labeled as 'vegan', but some of their lipstick do contain carmine for instance). On the same page, under Carmine (also known as cochineal) they say this - Q14. What is Carmine? Click here and here to read more.

"Carmine is a natural colourant, derived from insect source. It is commonly used to achieve bright reds and pinks in lipsticks. The synthetic alternative to carmine can irritate lips, dry lips out and are very problematic. Many synthetic colours are also known to be carcinogenic." 

I don't know about you, but I fail to see what's natural about a colorant derived from insects that are picked out of trees, boiled alive and then dried out and made into a colorant.  

As it's a colorant derived from insects, it's not suitable for vegetarians far less vegans.

Note - The one thing that Lavera are to be congratulated on is for using full disclosure when it comes to saying what ingredients are in each product, including saying whether things are vegan or not. Whilst their cruelty free credentials may be a bit dodgy, at least unlike so many other companies they actually list ingredients allowing buyers to make an informed choice.

Now if only they could be a certain about saying their products are cruelty free.

For more information, check out Living Cruelty Free: Life a more Compassionate Life, available now on Amazon on Kindle and in paperback. Click here for more details.

Monday, 17 September 2012

My manifesto for a more compassionate world for human beings

When I was writing Living Cruelty Free, I did a lot of research for the chapter on ethical shopping and ways of making the world a better place.  

I was appalled by the cruelty shown to human beings. Sex trafficking is rife, so is slave labor and man's inhumanity to man is heartbreaking.  

Here are the things I think need to happen to improve people's lives -

1. A special court especially for children should be set up. This would give abused or neglected a voice. Any child anywhere can approach this court.

2. Companies to face prosecution for using slave or child labor. Every firm should have no excuse for not being able to account for every single stage of the supply chain. Any company caught using slave labor or child labor, will face massive fines with the money going to charities that help victims of child labor or and slave labor.

Child should be allowed to be children. Not forced to work.

3. Companies should provide suitable accommodation for all their workers. This accommodation must meet a minimum standard. They must also provide schooling facilities for workers' children.

4. Sick of people who win big money bitching about the 'burden' of having that much dosh? The stress of it all, of deciding what luxury item to buy next? Let's ease that burden for them by making it compulsory for lottery/Lotto winners who win big to donate a tenth of their winnings to charity.


5. Legalize prostitution. Too many women and young girls (and even young boys) are being forced into the sex trade. Legalizing prostitution so it's kept to safe, monitored buildings

Women will be safe, sex traffickers will be forced out of business.


6. Any country that doesn't have a democracy like China to be shunned by the international community.

7. All loopholes exploited by big business and individuals to be closed. Why should the poor pay a higher portion of their earnings than the rich who often pay nothing at all?
What would be in your manifesto?
I'd love to know. Please post a comment.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Living Cruelty Free now available at iTunes

When I wrote Living Cruelty Free, I really wanted it to reach as many people as possible because I firmly believe that with the small changes me make we can all make the world a more compassionate place. So, I'm delighted that Living Cruelty Free is now available to buy at iTunes

It's available on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Here are some things I want people to know about the book -
  1. It's not just aimed at vegetarians and vegans. I see it as the perfect book for vegetarians and vegans to give to their family and friends to help them understand why they are vegetarian or vegan. I wish a book like this had been available to me when I went veggie at the age of 13.
  2. The book looks at human rights to and how we can help our fellow human beings.
  3. There's a big section on the hidden nasties in foods that not only vegetarians will find unpalatable. Things like bugs in sweets/candies and animal bone and muscle in desserts.
  4. The message is that there are small changes we can all make to what we buy and what we eat that will make a real difference to our fellow humans and animals.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Confusion about Original Source

My Benjy is also wondering if Original Source are genuinely cruelty free.

It’s so difficult to figure out if products are cruelty free or not unless they carry the leaping bunny logo. I realised that recently when one of my Twitter friends tweeted about Original Source’s products because their items were available in UK supermarket chain Asda for a pound each.

These items all carried The Vegan Society logo, so they must be cruelty free.

Well, vegans don’t use any animal products at all including beeswax and honey, so why would they use products that were tested on animals?   

Always delighted to find new cruelty free companies, I headed over to their website.

On the Original Source site, it says ‘We never test our products on animals,’ but there’s no mention of the ingredients, which always rings alarm bells for me.

There was also no listing for them on the most comprehensive and reliable source for cruelty free accredited companies and products. It’s the one with a list of companies, which carry the leapingbunny accreditation.  
The fact they carry The Vegan Society logo and say they work closely with The Vegan Society would lead you believe that the company are cruelty free.

But, I always thought that Original Source products were made by an animal testing company PZ Cussons, who are mentioned in Uncaged’s informative piece on How to Spot an Animal Testing Company Surely, if that information were wrong they'd ask the site to take it down?

Scroll, further down that page on Uncaged and you will see this –

PZ Cussons makers of 'Original Source' products say:

“None of our products are tested on animals. We support the development and acceptance of alternative methods which reduce or replace the use of animals in product safety evaluation.”

So, I emailed The Vegan society, but they didn’t reply. I tweeted them and they sent me a tweet back that said they didn’t endorse companies but ‘individual vegan suitable products.’ See the pic below.

This means that the company who make the product carrying The Vegan Society logo can test on animals, but that particular product and its ingredients were not tested on animals.

Hey, wait a minute if I see a symbol on a product to me that's an endorsement of that company. If I see Andy Murray guzzling from a bottom of Vittel at Wimbledon, I’ve got every right to think that he’s endorsing that brand of mineral water.  

Original Source posted this on Facebook -
‘At Original Source none of our products are tested on animals and the lovely ingredients which go into them are bought only from suppliers who share our values. (Actually, this is true of all our owners' - PZ Cussons' - products.) Sorry if we haven't explained our commitment to cruelty free products as well as we should - we'll try to make it clearer in future!’ 

What does 'share our values' mean exactly?

In response to this, I wrote –
‘Thanks. Very informative. Just surprised that you haven't gone for the leaping bunny accreditation as they do checks to show a company is completely cruelty free. Is that not something you could try in the future?’

This was their reply -
At Original Source we do not test any of our ingredients or products on animals and we do not have any 3rd parties testing on our behalf. The Leaping Bunny accreditation is something that we could look at, but our association with The Vegan Society demonstrates that we do not test on animals or include any animal ingredients. Hope this helps answer your question. Team OS.

Another alarm bell - Why's that not on their website?

Can you be sure Original Source are cruelty free?
In my opinion no. Products from a company that don’t have a fixed cut off date – a date from which they stopped all animal testing - can't be relied upon.

I also have a problem with - ‘ingredients which go into them are bought only from suppliers who share our values.’

What does that mean? Does it mean they don’t test on animals at all? How can they be sure? Do they simply take a supplier’s word for it?

Why do they not say 'our products and ingredients are not tested on animals?

There's no bunny on Original Source, so I won't be buying.
Unless the product carries a bunny logo, I won’t be buying.

And that's how veggiegirl2011 sees it.
Footnote -
Being cruelty free to me is all about doing the best you can to ease animal and human suffering. None of us is perfect and what may seem as ‘going too far’ by some people may be seen as not going far enough by others. All we can do is our best.

UPDATE - To confuse the matter even more, Original Source replied to a further email I sent them with this:  
'We are pleased to advise that we, PZ Cussons (UK) Ltd, do not test any of our products on animals, nor do we commission any third party to do so on our behalf.
In order to ensure compliance with the legal requirements of the Cosmetics Directive, we also work closely with our ingredients suppliers to ensure that no animal testing takes place, either on our behalf or that of the cosmetics industry, and that ingredients are of the highest quality. We have always been anxious to avoid unnecessary animal suffering, and we support research into alternative testing methods.
We strive for the highest safety standards for our products, and ensure this only by appropriate testing on human volunteers.'
Yet, again you have to ask - why isn't this written on their website?
Has that made things clearer? Sadly no. Still no mention of a fixed cut off date.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Great news as Urban Decay say no to China

People power can really make a difference. Following an outcry from customers, Urban Decay has decided NOT to sell in China where their products faced being tested on animals.

Read more about it here

Urban Decay's decision was in no small part down to the protests of customers on Twitter and Facebook. There's a message there, we can change the world and sometimes with a click of a mouse:)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Tell Tesco to stop selling cruel veal

The face of veal (sadly I could have used a picture of a calf like this one in a veal crate).

Veal is one of the cruellest foods there is. It's the meat of baby cows, taken away from their mothers and shoved into lonely crates where they live out their sad lives without ever feeling the air on their faces.
So I was sad to hear that Tesco are not only selling it, they are selling imported veal when they could be selling rose veal, which although cruel gives calves better environments to stay in.
That's why I signed this petition calling on Tesco to sell rose veal instead of imported veal from Germany where the poor calves are treated much worse.
I'd rather they didn't sell veal as this is a meat that belongs in the Dark Ages, but if they’re going to sell it I’d rather have less cruelty involved.
Tesco have two Twitter accounts @UKTesco and @uktescooffers
They also have a Facebook page
Why not drop them a tweet or leave a comment to ask they stop selling this imported veal?
Remember, being polite is more likely to get your point across than being shouty:)

You could for instance say that you won't shop there whilst they continue to sell that veal and you'll tell other people why.

UPDATE - I received he following Tweet from Tesco on July 5th, 2012

To view this click on the picture.

Note - As of September 24th, 2012 Tesco was still selling veal.

Friday, 29 June 2012

What they’re saying about Living Cruelty Free over at Moxie Reviews TM

Even this wee fella will be reading the review (once he gets a haircut, so he can see)

This week I’m delighted to have Living Cruelty Free reviewed over on the fantastic Moxie Reviews TM site.

To check out the review, click here

One of the most highly regarded sites on the net, Moxie Reviews TM is a fantastic beauty blog with cruelty free, natural & organic product reviews. To be featured on the site, companies must be cruelty free, which means NO animal testing.

Moxie has also done an interview with me where I explain what inspired me to write the book.

I’d like to thank Moxie for spreading the word about Living Cruelty Free. The book was very much a labour or love for me and the more people who read it the better.

We can all make the world a more compassionate place.

You can follow Moxie on Twitter and Facebook as well as on the Moxie Reviews TM blog.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Would you have given her 20p?

Would you give someone 20p?

A young woman catches the bus. It's 3am. She's been to a Christmas party. It's below freezing outside. She's 20p short of the fare.

She pleads with the driver to let her on. The driver refuses.

Can the bus wait for her as she goes to an ATM? ‘No,’ says the driver.

As the young woman tries to persuade the bus driver to let her on a dozen people are caught on CCTV boarding the bus. Despite hearing the woman's pleas, nobody offers to give her the 20p.

She has to get off the bus. It drives off leaving her stranded. She phones her mum and explains what happened. Her mum drives to get her and the young woman starts walking.

A few minutes later, she's pounced upon by a rapist. She's beaten so badly her mother doesn't recognise her.

Would you have given her 20p?

The police officer in charge of the case is so disgusted he tells the passengers and bus driver they need to examine their consciences.

And I tell it here because it's so sad that a lack of human compassion led to a young woman being raped.

The next time you see someone who needs help, ask yourself 'should I help them?' and say 'yes.'  Because it's only when we reach out to one another we stop bad things from happening.

Note - this piece was initially posted on my Living Cruelty Free Facebook page.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Urban Decay's full statement about selling in China

In case they order another site to take it down, I'm copying and pasting the full original statement from Urban Decay about their decision to start selling their products in China. A decision which means this company who boast of their cruelty free credentials are going to be selling in a country where the animal testing of cosmetics is compulsory.

It's a bit two-faced when a company says one thing & does another.
The full statement originally appeared on the company's site, then they removed it and replaced a long statement with a few paragraphs.

Urban Decay Press Statement: Animal Testing and China

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
From Urban Decay:
Urban Decay is going to sell our products in China. Because of China’s policies on animal testing, we know that this will not be a popular decision with some of our loyal customers. But the decision is a thoughtful one.
For 16 years, we have been committed to two key causes: women’s rights, and the fight against animal testing. Our dedication to those causes will not waver.
For those of you unfamiliar with China’s policies, the sticking point is this: the Chinese government reserves the right to conduct animal testing with cosmetic products before the products are approved for use by Chinese citizens. The government has not told us if they have exercised this right with our products. So, our brand does not test on animals, but the Chinese government might conduct a one-time test using our products. Do we like China’s policies? No…and that is really the point. Going into China was a huge decision for Urban Decay. But, we believe that change cannot and will not happen by outside pressure alone in a closed market. Change can only happen from within. When we enter the Chinese market, we will do our part to help make those changes.
When we were considering expanding into China, a group of marketing consultants told us to remove the section of our company history that describes our crusade against animal testing. “It doesn’t mean anything to the Chinese beauty customer,” they said. Of course, we refused. Our “no animal testing” policy is part of who we are, and has been since day one. The news that animal issues don’t even register with the average Chinese consumer was one of the biggest factors in our decision to go there. During Urban Decay’s infancy, we worked hard to inform consumers about animal rights in the United States and Europe. The battleground for animal rights is now in China, and we want to be there to encourage dialogue and provoke change.
We also hope to shed some light on women’s rights issues in China. As a company that caters to a female customer, this is extremely important to us. For one thing, going into China is a way for us to advance women into important professional positions. We will help grow the cosmetics industry, which primarily employs and creates career paths for women. Although workers’ employment rights are a relatively new concept there, progress has been made partially because of pressure from businesses, consumers, and advocacy groups from other countries. Based on this, our belief is that both an outside force and inside pressure for change can result in helping transform both the importance of women and animal testing policies in China. And more importantly, we hope to influence the perspective of the citizens on both of these issues.
If we don’t go to China, other companies without our beliefs will, and the culture will never change. We want to encourage a culture of consumers who care enough to buy cruelty-free products, and who view professional women as role models who influence their lives on a daily basis.
Yes, we are a for-profit company. And yes, we would eventually like to make money in China. But we don’t stand to turn a profit in China for quite a while, partially because the market isn’t quite ready to sustain an untraditional brand like ours. If it were only about the money, we would wait a few years. But our foray into this market is also about participating in an amazing time of change in China. We don’t like animal testing (and neither do the 13 dogs in our office), but we are trying to change the world… even if it is one eye shadow at a time! Sitting on the sidelines isn’t our style. We understand that you might not like our decision, but we hope you can respect it.
For any advocates or Urban Decay fans interested, Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir will host a live chat on to answer questions about our entry into China.

A sad day as Urban Decay turn to the dark side

I was very sad to hear that Urban Decay, who were one of the mainstays of cruelty free cosmetics, have decided to sell their products in China. Under Chinese laws, cosmetics and their ingredients that are sold in China must be tested on animals. Urban Decay (isn't that a great name for a company with decaying morals) know this.
Ironically, this is one of the ads still on their company site. Misleading or what?

After their announcement the company has quite rightly lost their Leaping Bunny accreditation. This means that although they are listed in my paper copy of the Little Book of Cruelty Free 2012 they are no longer a cruelty free company.

What Urban Decay say
In their statement (taken down from their site because of their customer's anger at what they're doing), Urban Decay claim that ‘For 16 years, we have been committed to two key causes: women’s rights, and the fight against animal testing’ yet China has an appalling human rights record especially when it comes to women who are treated like second class citizens.
Here’s their ‘it isn’t us, it’s them (the Chinese government)' statement.
They claim they won't make a profit for some time, so they're going their for humanitarian reasons? Of course not, China has over a billion people. It's money Urban Decay want and I personally believe saying otherwise is misleading.
What their customers are saying
Customers have quite rightly vented their anger at this decision on the company’s Facebook page.

What the Leaping Bunny people are saying
The Leaping Bunny program quickly acted and have removed Urban Decay from their lists as well as issuing a statement saying why.

How do I know now if a company is completely cruelty free?
For a free downloadable guide to cruelty free companies (Urban Decay have been removed), go to’s also an option to have the paper version sent to you. I have one and it comes in very handy. It will fit in your purse or back pocket.

I would also advise people to AVOID any products made in China. You can't even trust clothing from China for fear that the faux fur is real fur from cats or dogs.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Living Cruelty Free is now available on Kindle USA, UK

Many people have asked me when Living Cruelty Free would be available on Kindle. So, I'm delighted to announce the book is on sale at priced £6.41.

You can also buy the Kindle version on priced $10.14

Because it's a great reference guide to things like hidden nasties in foods that are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, how to spot if products are tested on animals and how to tell if something is Fairtrade (amongst other things) it's the perfect guide to carrying around on your Kindle when you go shopping.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Shame of Cumbrae Bistro for selling cruel Foie gras

After hearing about the BBC promoting cruel Foie gras, I was very disappointed to see a The Cumbrae Bistro in Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae on my doorstep selling this so called delicacy.

Who'd have thought I would see this vile food on my own doorstep?

It's very disappointing and proves that publicly funded companies like the BBC promoting a food so cruel it's production is banned in the UK and most other European countries does have an effect.

The Cumbrae Bistro isn't the only place where you can buy this cruel food. Harvey Nichols has decided that although they will stop selling it in their food halls they will continue to serve it in their restaurants.

I have since heard of a UK company funding a so called Foie gras factory in China, a country where humans have few rights and animals have none. After campaigning by animal welfare organisations such as Compassion in World Farming the company concerned Creek Project Investments Plc have stated that they've announced 'a suspension of the present foie gras operations, until the completion of a full review.' Read the full statement here

Read more about this story here

Whether that means they will pull out completely remains to be seen, because companies with low morals have done that before. Here's hoping this company will not.

Update - Shortly after this was printed, my partner was threatened by two men on the street. The loudest objected to me publicising the Cumbrae Bistro selling Foie Gras. Why? Because clearly he knew what a cruel food it was, but didn't care. Sometimes standing up to save animals can lead to aggressive reactions. Sadly, there are some people who don't want the cruelty to end because they make too much money out of it.

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Greatest Guide to Living Cruelty Free: BBC's shame as they endorse cruel Foie Gras

The Greatest Guide to Living Cruelty Free: BBC's shame as they endorse cruel Foie Gras

BBC's shame as they endorse cruel Foie Gras

Is this what the BBC should be endorsing?
Click on the banner above top find out how to complain, thanks to animal advocates VIVA.
After complaining about Foie gras featuring on the GreatBritish Menu programme on BBC2 because of the cruelty involved – birds are force fed with pipes until their livers expand to many times their normal size then slaughtered – I received the following reply from the BBC.

Note – this is the same BBC that by law everyone who watches a TV programme in the UK must pay £145.50 for a TV license. Failure to do so means a fine and in several cases, prison. 
Dear Miss Thomson
Thank you for contacting us.
We appreciate you taking the time to contact us about 'Great British Menu' and your concerns were discussed with the production team.
There is currently no ban on the use of foie gras in the UK, and while we appreciate it is a controversial matter, many do enjoy it. As long as foie gras remains legal and freely available it remains a possibility of being included on cookery shows - just as it remains on restaurant menus around the world. If it were to become a banned substance we would of course no longer allow it to be used within our programme.
While you may continue to disagree with foie gras featuring in BBC programmes such as 'Great British Menu', we hope our response explains our reasons for continuing to do so at this time.
Finally, we’d like to assure you that your complaint has been registered on our audience log. This is an internal report of audience feedback that we compile on a daily basis and it’s made available to programme commissioners, channel executives and senior management.
The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.
Thanks once again for taking the time to raise your concerns with us.
Kind Regards
BBC Complaints

Let’s break the letter down shall we?

‘Your concerns were discussed with the production team’ – WOW, they must have done it pretty fast because they emailed me that form letter 5 minutes after I lodged my complaint. I know this because others who complained got the same email.
‘While we appreciate it is a controversial matter, many do enjoy it.’ – I’m sure many people enjoy torturing defenceless animals like putting cats on microwaves or treating dogs like footballs, but that doesn’t mean it should be allowed.

They also missed the point. Namely that a publicly funded broadcaster should not be spending license fee payers cash on a food produced by animal cruelty so bad if you did that to any animal in Britain you would be sent to prison. .
Note – also no mention of why a so called French delicacy is being featured in a show called Great British Menu. Did they forget to call it Great World Menu?

The BBC also promote foie gras through their websites.

Footnote - Don't let anyone con you into believing foie gras can ever be more humane. So called humane foie gras means birds have rubber hoses forced down their mouths to force feed them instead of steel pipes. So, that's all right then? Of course not. Countries like the UK who ban the production of cruel foods should also ban their sale.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Is the Bunny for real?

Cruelty free logos can be confusing, right? Especially when companies use ones that are different variations of the white rabbit, which is the official Leaping Bunny logo that not only certifies that a product was not tested on animals, but also that the ingredients were not tested on animals by that company or their suppliers.

The world famous Leaping Bunny logo was launched by a coalition of animal protection groups, including the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection to ensure that consumers could tell if products were cruelty free.

That’s why I felt it would be a good idea to look at the different white rabbit logos.

Note - If you buy a product with any of the leaping bunny symbols shown then they are cruelty free.

Tip - There are some products that are cruelty free that dont' carry the leaping bunny logo. This is because companies are charged to use it. This is to cover the cost of administering the scheme.

UK (in this case, UK means Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

In the UK, the leaping bunny logo usually comes with ‘BUAV Approved’ but not always. Often if the product is also vegetarian it may also have ‘Vegetarian Society Approved.’ This means the product is suitable for vegetarians. 

This also has the 'Vegetarian Society Approved' logo

In the UK, the own brand products of Sainsburys, Superdrug and Marks and Spencer carry the Leaping Bunny logo.


In America, cruelty free products have the Leaping Bunny logo, but there is no ‘BUAV approved.’ This is because BUAV stands for British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.’

In Australia, they have their own  cruelty free bunny logo. This is not the same logo as the Leaping Bunny logo.
To read more about cruelty free products in Australia visit

Most other countries who are certified cruelty free carry the same logo as the USA and Canada. That's the bunny without the 'BUAV Appoved.'

In Portugal, the same logo that's used on cruelty free products in the USA is used. Recently Protugese company Pronatural were awarded the accreditation.

Want to go cruelty free?
To find cruelty free, companies visit 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Look inside Living Cruelty Free - It's free

When we buy books we face a bewildering choice. That's why it's so good to get a sneak peek before we buy.

You can now see what's inside Living Cruelty Free.

Also on Amazon Canada

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Living Cruelty Free - the video

Here it is the video I put up on Amazon to promote Living Cruelty Free.  

Thanks go to the video maker, my partner John.

I asked my dog Benjy to help, but he was too busy chasing his ballJ
Living Cruelty Free will be published on March 29th, 2012.

You can buy the book on and
The Book Depository - they offer free worldwide shipping.
The Kindle version will be out soon.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Why I wrote Living Cruelty Free

Living Cruelty Free is out on March 29th, available on &
Also available at The Book Depository - they offer free worldwide shipping.

What’s in Living Cruelty Free?
The book focuses on ways to live a life that is more compassionate towards human beings and animals.

The chapters are as follows –
What's Cruelty Free?
Things that Can Never be Cruelty Free – this covers the cruellest things on the planet like fur, Foie gras, goose and duck down.
Going free-range & cage-free – I look at what free range means because it means something different depending on what country you live in. For example in America hens can be described as free-range as long as they have access to just five minutes of light a day.
Going Vegetarian or Vegan – as well as being aimed at new vegetarians and vegans, I also have useful information for people who are already vegetarian or vegan. For example, on the hidden animal sources nasties in foods.
Cruelty Free Cosmetics – It can be tricky to buy cosmetics and toiletries that are completely cruelty free. For instance just because a product says it’s not tested on animals may not mean its cruelty free. The ingredients may have been tested by their suppliers or the company that produced it may have benefited from animal research. To guarantee its cruelty free, it’s important to look out for the leaping bunny logo.
Shop Kind – This chapter is geared towards making people aware of the cruelty inflicted on their fellow human beings to make and produce the foods and products they buy. I cover child labour, slave labour and Fairtrade.
19 Ways to Create a More Compassionate World – These are equally split between helping human beings and helping animals. This is very important because I firmly believe that compassion towards human beings and animals goes hand in hand.
Become a Cruelty Free Crusader – proactive ways to make the world you live in a more compassionate place.
Useful Websites
Book List

Do you need to live in the UK for the book to be relevant?
No. The book is written in American English and when it covers laws and food labelling, the facts and laws given cover America, the UK, Canada and Australia, but most of the content is relevant to you wherever you live.

For instance, the majority of the world's fur comes from China, so the method with which it’s obtained is the same wherever it's sold.

What made you write the book?
I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years and know from experience that there are many people out there who want to buy more ethical products that involve no animal suffering and are made by people who are paid fairly for their produce. There’s also a trend towards reducing the meat in your diet. Those people may not want to go the full hog and go vegetarian, but they do care about where the things they buy come from and whether they were tested on animals or caused animals any suffering.

Is the book only relevant to vegetarians and vegans?
Vegetarians and vegans will find it most useful, but no the book is not just aimed at vegetarians and is the perfect gift for vegetarians and vegans to give to non-vegetarian family and friends in an effort to encourage them to live a life that's more compassionate towards animals and humans.
Even if people read this book and stop eating veal and Foie gras (how many people know how both are made) and wearing fur or having goose or duck down in their bedding, I’ll have achieved something.

If you had to sum up the book's message, what would you say?
That with small steps, we can all make the world a kinder place: one that is more compassionate for people and animals.

Who do you see as the main readership of the book?
This is the ideal book for vegetarians and vegans to buy both for themselves - I've been a vegetarian who's been trying to live a cruelty free life for 25 years and in the course of my research I discovered some things that shocked me that I honestly wish I could unknow as they gave me nightmares.

I also hope that vegetarians and vegans will get thebook for family and friends to help them understand why they make the choices they do. Maybe it'll inspire them to make some changes themselves.

I also think non-vegetarians, who are interested in living a more compassionate life, will read the book as it also covers how to make the world a better place for humans too, with tips on how to avoid buying goods that are made using exploited labour and helping to ease poverty in the Third World.

What kind of response have you had to your companion blog?
I’ve been so pleased with the response to the blog and from people I’ve met via social network sites like Twitter and Facebook. I’m delighted to find that like me there are many people who despair about the cruelty in the world and want to help change things.

There are so many great blogs out there too that promote living a cruelty free life. It’s very heartening and proves there are people out there who do believe they can change the world.

What has been people’s reaction to Living Cruelty Free?
Most people have been positive and some friends and family who have read the book have said it’s made them more aware of the cruelty that goes on towards animals and made them more inclined to eliminate certain animal products from their diets. A few of them have even become vegetarian, including my mum.

They’ve also been shocked to read that some of the things they buy may have been made by child labour or slave labour and have said it’s more likely to make them buy Fairtrade.

Do you expect to get any criticism?
I know I'll probably be criticised for writing a living cruelty free book that doesn't simply say 'go vegan and stop using anything that's animal derived' but the truth its hard enough to get most people to eat less meat never mind no meat, milk, or eggs. I do my best though by highlighting the cruelty involved in obtaining these products.

The book's main message is an important one: that you can still make a difference to the welfare of animals with small steps like avoiding the cruellest foods on the planet like Foie gras, veal and fur. It doesn't mean I'm saying meat or eggs or milk are cruelty free - far from it - but I hope that by learning about the cruelty that goes into those things that people will have their eyes opened to the cruelty animals endure to end up as food on their plate and that they might veer towards vegetarianism.

Realistically though, most meat eaters will not stop eating meat and go vegetarian so the message is eat less meat and use less animal products to lessen the cruelty inflicted on animals, primarily by the meat trade. If every individual did that instead of thinking 'I eat meat so I might as well wear fur, eat veal etc because animals are here for humans to use' that will make some difference to the lives of farm animals.

For instance it might mean fewer animals are killed to be eaten or that particularly cruel foods like Foie gras are no longer considered acceptable things to eat. Look at the way fur is largely spurned in the UK now. There used to be furriers everywhere, but now they've all closed down because people's eyes were opened to the cruelty of fur so selling it became unacceptable and the furriers shut down.

Has doing the research changed you?
Yes, after 25 years of being a vegetarian I am now a vegan. After finding out about the cruelty that goes into milk production I had to make the switch.