For anyone who wants to be kinder to animals and each other and live a more compassionate life.
This is the companion blog for Living Cruelty Free: Live a Compassionate Life. The book is out now in paperback and on Kindle. The information in the book applies worldwide.
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.
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
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
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
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.
IF YOU GET A REPLY FROM LIDL, HERE'S HOW TO 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 atLidlstores as part of a food specials
abundant in Australia
and are sustainably harvested under strict government control. The population
numbers are constantly monitored by the National Park Authorities.
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
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
cullingprogramsto 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.
confirmed that the animals are only being harvested by professionally trained
hunters. Each kangaroo harvester must belicensedand 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'Codeof Practice for the Humane Shooting ofKangaroos'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
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
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
bepulverizedto anunrecognizablestate 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
Of the 25% of
females taken only 20% (5% of the total) at any one time can be expected to
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
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.
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
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
levels of salmonella and E.coli have been found in kangaroo meat destined for
LidlUK 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
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.