Sunday, 5 June 2016

Thanks to everybody who bought Living Cruelty Free I've donated money to Cruelty Free International

You’re a star!

Thank you so much for your gift to help save lost, stray and abandoned dogs from laboratories around the world.
You might recall that, horrifyingly, in some parts of the USA and Canada, shelter dogs can be bought by laboratories. Thanks to your vital support, we can tell decision-makers about an important opinion poll, carried out for us by leading pollsters YouGov, that shows the public is on our side. The poll found that 73% of Canadian adults and 68% of Americans agree that dogs who are found or given to animal shelters should not be sold to laboratories for experiments. It’s heartening to know that, just like you, there are so many compassionate people around the world.
Thanks to your generosity, and that of others like you, we’ve also been able to reach out to a host of US and Canadian celebrities – including actor Eric McCormack, who stars as Will from the hit TV show Will and Grace – who’ve raised their voices for stray dogs in laboratories and helped gain media coverage and awareness for our cause. You can find out more

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

4 Reasons why it’s manly NOT to eat meat

The sad fact is that more women that men are vegetarian or vegan. The one reason for this apparently (or so I’ve been told) is that it’s not seen as manly to be vegetarian.

Men don't need to act like cavemen any more

1- Showing compassion towards animals is a sign of strength and not weakness. Well, if a man were to dominate a woman would he be considered as manly? Maybe in days gone past when women had little rights he might have been but not these days.

2- There’s nothing manly about eating meat when we are continually being told that meat is bad for your. It increases your risk of getting cancer and heart disease and a whole range of illnesses. Vegetarians are also less likely to be obese and being obese means you are at a higher risk of ending up with diabetes.
Vegetarian Joaquin Phoenix - is he man enough for you?

3- Associating meat with masculinity goes back to the days when humans had to hunt in order to survive. These days nobody needs to hunt in order to survive. You just need to grow your own food or go to the supermarket.

4- Meat consumption has been linked to virility, yet a low sperm count has been linked with eating too much meat. A study in 2007 found a link between American men being unable to father children and their mother’s eating too much beef whilst pregnant.

This was blamed on the growth hormones in the beef that were fed to cows when they were alive. Other types of meat such as chicken also have traces of growth hormones.

Click here for a link to yet another survey.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Ask Lidl to stop selling kangaroo meat

Please contact Lidl and ask them to drop kangaroo meat. Viva! persuaded all UK supermarkets not to sell kangaroo meat over a decade ago now, and Lidl are the first one to break ranks and put it back on sale. Iceland have now followed suit, so please contact them, too!

This trade will almost certainly lead to even more kangaroos being killed – and their babies and young shot or decapitated and then simply discarded. In other words, consumers are responsible not just for the death of the animal they consume – but also the death of her young. Around 20 per cent of kangaroos killed each year are female – which means around a million joeys are killed for the trade each year.

Dear Lidl,
I am horrified to hear that you are selling kangaroo meat. Tesco have just removed it from shelves and you should, too. It is this trade which helps drive what is currently the biggest massacre of land animals on the planet.
Around six million kangaroos were earmarked for slaughter in 2013 (a massive increase of nearly two million from the previous year). This doesn’t include the baby kangaroos (joeys) that are not even used by the meat and leather industries, but are simply thrown away. An adult female kangaroo will usually have two youngsters with her: a baby kangaroo in pouch and an adolescent at foot. This slaughter is supposedly governed by guidelines. However, these guidelines advocate pulling baby joeys from their dying mother’s pouch and smashing them around the head and/or decapitating them. The adolescents are meant to be shot, but many will escape the carnage and die of predation from other wild animals. For almost every female kangaroo killed to fill your freezers with kangaroo meat, two other lives will be snuffed out. Around a million baby kangaroos die each year because of the trade in kangaroo parts. There can be no justification for this.
It is also impossible to truly assess the welfare of the adults that are shot, as this is invariably done at night in the Outback. Away from the glare of public scrutiny, millions are shot every year – and the Australian RSPCA has estimated that around 100,000 adults are not killed humanely and some may temporarily survive with horrific wounds, such as having their jaws shot off.
Most other UK supermarkets have pledged not to sell kangaroo meat and removed it from their shelves over a decade ago. Popularising the meat, as you are doing, will simply lead to more bloodshed.
Salmonella and E.coli levels can be high in kangaroo meat. So much so that Russia has banned imports. Infection with Toxoplasma gondii is a “significant problem” in kangaroos. Experts say that T. gondii infection in kangaroos is “… also of public health significance due to the kangaroo meat trade.” Kangaroo meat is not tested when it is imported into the UK. Humans can contract foodborne toxoplasmosis from eating raw/undercooked meat containing parasitic cysts. Worryingly, the instructions on the kangaroo meat actually instructs people to eat this meat “medium rare”. Have you made your customers aware of these risks? This is not the action of a responsible retailer.
Please follow the lead of other major businesses in the UK and pledge not to sell kangaroo meat. Until this happens, I will boycott your stores and encourage and of my friends and family to do likewise.
Yours faithfully,


Response to Lidl reply
Have you received a reply from Lidl? Below we destroy their weak justifications for selling dead wildlife (Lidl text in bold). Use it to write back to them:
We refer to your recent correspondence regarding the welfare and hunting process for the kangaroo steaks we currently sell at Lidl stores as part of a food specials campaign.
Kangaroos are abundant in Australia and are sustainably harvested under strict government control. The population numbers are constantly monitored by the National Park Authorities.
Kangaroos are certainly not as abundant as they used to be. They have been wiped out in many regions. In others, their numbers build up in order to withstand the regular droughts which wipe out half the population. Since 2001 (compared to 2011) there has been an overall drop of 23,126,349 kangaroos (according to the Australian Government's own figures) in the areas where they are hunted. The official quota ignores joeys, road deaths, illegal and non-commercial kills. This annual death toll could amount to 10 million - a patently unsustainable figure.
Many professional ecologists support the agricultural production systems on kangaroos and other native animals rather than introduced livestock like sheep or cattle, as it offers considerable ecological advantages to the fragile Australian rangelands and could save greenhouse gas emissions.
Just because the farming of hard-hoofed animals such as sheep and cattle has helped destroy the fragile ground soil in many parts of Australia does not mean that plundering a native species is a sensible alternative. It is also ironic that Lidl are trying to justify selling kangaroo as a 'green alternative' considering the sizeable greenhouse gases are generated by transporting it literally from one side of the Earth to the other.
Several trials have indicated that uncontrolled kangaroo numbers present a risk to plant biodiversity. Kangaroos cannot be commercially harvested in National Parks, as a result their numbers often rise to staggering levels which sometimes require culling programs to be used to protect and save rare or threatened plant species.
This makes no sense. Why are Lidl trying to justify selling kangaroo meat by talking about National Parks where kangaroos cannot be "commercially harvested"? Also, they can't have it both ways. In the paragraph above Lidl say that kangaroos are more in keeping with the Australian environment (after all they have evolved over millennia to live in harmony with it), but then say kangaroos are a threat to it. If there really was a problem - and this was really about conservation - why couldn't non-lethal methods of population control be considered? The answer is that it does not make a profit. They may try and justify the trade in kangaroo meat as conservation, but that isn't true. It is commercialisation of wildlife driven by profit and that can be disastrous.
Our supplier confirmed that the animals are only being harvested by professionally trained hunters. Each kangaroo harvester must be licensed and undergo training delivered by government accredited agencies, which includes animal welfare controls, hygiene controls as well as their competency with their firearms amongst others. These hunters are monitored by the veterinary office and each kangaroo that is harvested must be reported to the authorities. The number of kangaroos to be harvested is strictly monitored to ensure the harvest in any one area does not exceed the quota. The kangaroos are being head shot and are immediately killed (the Federal Government document 'Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos' requires that all animals are head shot). After the animal is shot from a specified distance the hunter guts the animal on the spot.
No one monitors, let alone controls, the real-time killing in the field. Kangaroos are shot at night in the vast outback, far away from public scrutiny. "Shooters often have a thorough contempt for the law. They commit cruelty on a regular basis." (Dr John Auty, veterinary scientist and former Chief Agronomist).
Research by the RSPCA in Australia and Animal Liberation NSW has suggested that around 120,000 kangaroos a year are not shot in the head and killed immediately. The number could be much higher (according to Thinkk (University of Technology Sydney) up to a million) as there is no one there to monitor the many kangaroos shot – but not killed outright – that will escape into the bush to die a slow, painful death.
Ex-kangaroo shooter, David Nicholls, exposed the industry: "The mouth of a kangaroo can be blown off and the kangaroo can escape to die of shock and starvation. Forearms can be blown off, as can ears, eyes and noses. Stomachs can be hit expelling the contents with the kangaroo still alive. Backbones can be pulverized to an unrecognizable state etc. Hind legs can be shattered with the kangaroo desperately trying to get away on the other or without the use of either. To deny that this goes on is just an exercise in attempting to fool the public."
A vet then checks if the animal is healthy. Our supplier furthermore assured us that the hunters are trained not to shoot gestating or young animals.
The animal isn't healthy. The animal is dead! The reason that the vet is there is to check if they have been killed with a shot to the head (another reason why those that weren't will be simply dumped and not included in the official tally). There are also health issues to humans. Kangaroos are butchered in the outback and then transported to chillers – sometimes many, many miles away.
Kangaroos are shot out of the back of trucks criss-crossing the vast outback at the dead of night. How exactly is a shooter to know that a female is gestating exactly? In most cases they won't be able to.
In the few cases when a female with a joey is taken, the Code lays out strict guidelines on how to deal with these. This Code was written by a group of the most informed and independent scientists in the field and details best practice.
This is hardly a few cases. Even 20 per cent of six million is 1.2 million females shot each year - and female kangaroos are usually permanently pregnant. Thinkk says: "… every year 855,000 dependent young die as a waste product of the commercial kill."
Yes, there are guidelines but it doesn't hide the fact that 'unwanted' baby joeys – ripped from their dying mothers' pouch – are killed in the most brutal way imaginable. The official guidelines state for furless young: "Single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain." OR "Stunning, immediately followed by decapitation by rapidly severing the head from the body with a sharp blade" For furred young: "Single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain." After this their lifeless bodies are simply dumped as 'trash'.
Of the 25% of females taken only 20% (5% of the total) at any one time can be expected to have 'young at foot'. The fate of these is the most contentious issue for many examining the welfare aspects of the harvest. However, further research currently being finalised has indicated that these adolescents survive the removal of their mothers with surprisingly little stress and quickly adjust to independence.
If true Lidl are conveniently forgetting the pouch young that will be brained or decapitated by hunters. Even one joey ripped from his dying mother's pouch and killed or adolescent shot as she tries to escape the rifle fire of the hunter – their bodies thrown away and not even used by the industry that killed them – is one too many.
Also, we'd be interested to see this 'research'. Everything we have ever seen suggests that adolescents will starve to death without the protection of their mothers. They are after all still with their mothers and are not ready to be independent of them. The Code of Practice contradicts this by stating that shooters should kill adolescents that have been orphaned: "Single shot to the brain or heart where it can be delivered accurately and in safety using the firearms and ammunition."Why would it do this if adolescents were able to survive as Lidl suggests?
Also, the breakdown of the sexes taken is troubling. Lidl are apparently playing down the number of females taken. However, this also raises the question: what type of conservation project would target one sex over another (up to 80 per cent male)? The real reason that more males are taken is that they are bigger and so each carcass produces more meat.
Kangaroo meat is widely consumed in Australia and it has played an important part in the traditional Aboriginal diet as a bush food. Today it is widely available in supermarkets and restaurants and is exported to over 55 countries.
Until relatively recently, Australians wouldn't touch kangaroo meat. Much of it still goes into 'pet' food. We are also told by Australian wildlife groups that it is an overestimation that it is sold widely across Australia.
As for Aboriginal diets, what has that got to do with a budget supermarket selling kangaroo meat in Britain? Also, a number of Indigenous elders have expression strong opposition to the commercial and non-commercial killing of kangaroos (such as the Australian Alliance for Native Animal Survival).
It is ideal for maintaining a balanced diet and has been approved by the Australian Heart Foundation, as it is low in cholesterol and fat and high in protein and minerals iron, zinc and omega 3.
The idea that kangaroo meat is somehow a healthy alternative has widely been debunked earlier this year. Recent research shows kangaroo meat has a higher amount of a chemical linked to increased risks of heart attack and stroke than any other red meat.
Also, dangerous levels of salmonella and E.coli have been found in kangaroo meat destined for human consumption.
Lidl UK takes issues of animal welfare as well as environmental protection very seriously and only sources products that meet high standards of food safety and hygiene, animal welfare and environmental protection which are in line with EU and UK standards.
If Lidl take animal welfare seriously why are they buying into an industry where baby animals have their heads smashed in and then thrown away as 'trash'?
We hope the information provided has addressed the issues you raised and will reassure you that the standards of welfare of the kangaroo and harvesting methods used are to the same level, as other types of meats which can be found on UK supermarket shelves.
Kangaroos are shot at night from the back of trucks in the middle of nowhere. Whilst the killing of any animal for meat causes suffering – and that is why Viva! suggests veganism as the best way to end suffering – it is wrong to suggest that these two methods are comparable.

NOTE - All text is copyright Viva!


Thanks to public pressure, Morrisons has stopped selling kangaroo meat and is reproduced here to spread the word. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) supports hunting shame

You thought the World Wildlife Fund was an animal rights or animal welfare charity. 

Think again. 

They support hunting claiming it aids "conservation." 

It says so on their site. Read it here 

They also clearly state that they are NOT an animal rights organisation.

“WWF is not an animal welfare organization. We support the hunting and consumption of wild animals provided the harvesting does not threaten the long-term survival of wildlife populations." 

Here's an answer to someone who asked why they were backing the Canadian goose (let's kill geese so we can eat them and stuff them in duvets) industry.

Personally, I think that the WWF is misleading supporters with their images of cuddly pandas and monkeys and talking about conservation rather than admitting that they are a pro-hunting organisation. 

If you agree, you can tweet them to tell them on Twitter at @WWF 

And that's how Veggiegirl2011 sees it. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

5 things you might not realise are cruel

Doing the research for Living Cruelty Free, I was shocked to discover there were things I had no idea involved so much animal cruelty.

1. Merino wool - I wrongly assumed sheep were simply sheared. Imagine you have chunks of your flesh hacked off. Would it hurt? Of course it would, yet this is what happens to most sheep in Australia in a process known as "mulesing." Farmers do this to prevent the animals getting fly strike. 

The worst think about this is its needless because farmers can breed fly strike resistant sheep but they refuse to do this. Despite pressure from top clothing stores like Next and Marks and Spencer who readily sell merino products but said they would try and use only wool from sheep not subjected to this abhorrent practice, the practice of mulesing still goes on.

2. Chocolate - To feed the inexhaustible demand for milk chocolate you need milk and this means male calves go without. They can't produce milk so they are often killed or dumped in veal crates.

For an alternative to milk chocolate, go for dark chocolate or carob, which tastes like chocolate and comes from a plant. I've read in places that it can't compete with real chocolate, but it can IMHO. The good news is that unlike real chocolate, its NOT harmful to dogs or cats. 

3. Horse racing - Those horses love to run and jump don't they? Maybe in the wild they do, but with a jockey on their back, kicking into their sides and even using a whip, somehow I doubt it.

Horses are pushed to extremes, often beyond their endurance, and unlike the recent case of Fox Hunt in the $1 Dubai Gold Cup whose leg snapped, when they die or get injured it's rarely reported. Well, we can't have the enjoyment of race goers diminished by the site of a majestic animal being shot.

4. Fake/Faux Fur – Real fur is such a hard sell that it’s been passed off as fake in garments like coats, hats and waistcoats. Quite often this "fake fur" comes from China which kills animals like dogs and cats to produce the so called fake or faux fur.

Personally, I would never wear faux fur or anything fake that resembles fur, as I strongly believe that it may inadvertently encourage people to wear real fur because it looks so real. That said, of course I would rather people wore the fake kind than the real kind. 

5. Free range eggs – The boy chicks can’t lay eggs and are killed. This is done by crushing or gassing. If it’s crushing the method used is called IMD - Instantaneous Mechanical Destruction. This involves dropping handfuls of babies alive into a mincing machine in a process.

Hens also have their beaks trimmed – an extremely painful process using a hot metal blade. This has been likened to having a limb amputated.